Maybe This Is the Wrong Galaxy

Story notes: This story was born when helenish made this post in which she talked about why she dislikes the phrase “crackfic.” Many thanks to secrethappiness for beta services above and beyond the call of duty. Title borrowed from Robert Earle Keene, Gravitational Forces. And finally, disclaimer: This story is silly and pointless and there are NO REAL CONSEQUENCES. It was fun, and that’s it. :-)

*

“While Honored Scientist McKay is working with our most enlightened Citizens, you will come to the Consortium with me,” the tall guy said.

John pulled his arm from the tall guy’s grip and smiled his best “don’t touch me again” smile.

“No, while Honored Scientist McKay is working with your most enlightened Citizens, I’ll be hanging out right next to him,” he said. “Right, Rodney?”

“What?” Rodney looked up from the reams of printout some Citizen or another was waving under his nose. “No, it’s fine. You go with the nice, uh, Consort.”

“Rodney,” John said. “We should stick together.” He did an eyebrow thing that was supposed to say very clearly that Rodney should shut up and agree with him. “You know Elizabeth likes it when we stick together.”

“Elizabeth likes it when we come home with a half-charged ZPM,” Rodney snapped. “Anyway, we’ve been trading with these people for six months. She’s vetted this place herself. Hell, Lorne said it was safe here. And since he has a much better-developed sense of preservation than you, Mister I Never Met a Hiveship I Didn’t Want to Jump On -”

“I’d just feel better if -”

“Colonel, would you please just leave me alone and go look at weapons or gardens or whatever the nice people want to show you, all right?” Rodney leveled a glare at him. “We’re going to be coming here every day for a few weeks, at least, and if you are hovering at my elbow while I work, I may be the biggest security threat you experience. Do you understand?”

“Rodney -”

“Radio me. I’ll keep my radio with me the whole time, okay?” Rodney was already turning away, and the tall Consort was tugging gently on John’s arm. John went, looking back at Rodney more than once until they were outside.

The sky was a hard amethyst, paling near the horizons; the city’s buildings spilled out on all sides, a low scattering of plain white cubes, kept from ugliness by simplicity and by the thin, delicate patterns painted around every doorway and at the corners. The patterns were repeated in raked-gravel gardens between the buildings; the only plant-life visible consisted of tall thin cacti that looked more like yucca than anything else, except that the leaves were purplish blue and serrated.

“How often does it rain?” John asked, looking down at the thin, graceful hand on his arm.

“From the sky, you mean?” the younger man said, and when John nodded, he smiled, as if John had asked something clever. “Oh, very seldom. The last rain was in the time of my father. I was unborn yet, although perhaps you were not.” He was still smiling, but now it was teasing.

“I’m not that much older than you,” John replied, because it seemed to be that kind of conversation, and oh – was this guy flirting with him? “What’s your name again?” John asked. He could never tell if they were flirting.

“I am Consort Anim,” the youth said, bowing slightly even as he towed John through a gateway and into another dry, carefully raked courtyard. “And here we are. You are Consort Colonel?” he added.

Their feet crunched on the white stones as they crossed into shade so dark it was almost black after the white glare of the sun. “I’m Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard,” John corrected Anim, taking off his sunglasses and squinting a little. “Where are we, anyway?”

“But you are Honored Scientist McKay’s Consort, are you not?” Anim was blinking at him, both of them standing before a large, arching doorway and beneath the shady trellis.

“I…” John looked at the hand on his arm again, and thought about McKay, stuck with all those scientists. Elizabeth trusted these people, he reminded himself. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“Excellent,” Anim said. “This is the Consortium. This is where you will spend your days while Honored Scientist McKay works with our Citizens on the Ancestors’, ah, water systems?” John nodded, and Anim smiled. “Exactly so, then. Come inside.”

Inside was cool and shadowy, an empty hall they crossed quickly before going through another doorway and down a shallow, curving stairway. “Are we underground?” John said, tapping at his radio.

“Just barely, Consort Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard,” said Anim, and that was going to get old pretty fast. “Your communications device should continue to function.”

“What?” Rodney said into his ear at the same moment.

“Nothing,” John said. “Just checking something.” He looked Anim. “Are we there yet?”

“Yes,” Anim said, stopping before one more enormous, arching door.

“Okay. Uh, bye, Rodney. Call if you need me.” John tapped the radio again. “Lead on.”

“As you say, Consort Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard,” said the youth, and the door swung open on its own.

Inside was… Eden. Or a reasonable approximation – someone’s idea of paradise, anyway, with cool, tinkling fountains, shimmering pools of water, potted flowers and fragrant plants. Lots of naked and partially naked people lying around, talking, singing, eating, playing instruments, doing… other things. John looked hastily away, then back. Well, maybe this wouldn’t be so terrible.

“Consort Anim, is this the Honored Scientist’s Consort?”

She was slender and pretty and not wearing all that much, but John had learned how to tune that out from sparring practice with Teyla. He focused on the woman’s face instead of her (really nice, totally bare) breasts.

“Yes, Consort Mahall. This is Consort Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard,” Anim said.

She looked him up and down, dark eyes measuring, considering. “How long have you been his Consort?” she asked.

“Uh, a while I guess,” John said. “What am I… what do you do here, while your, uh, Citizens are working?”

She looked surprised. “Why, we practice our art,” she said. “And train those who come unskilled to the calling. Come, Consort Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, your travel clothing is uncomfortable, surely, and you must be hungry from your journeying.”

“You can just call me John,” he said. She laid a hand on his arm (Anim’s hand was still on his other arm, and geez, they were some touchy-feely people) and he was escorted toward an alcove along the edge of the great room. “We will give you the Amber Room,” she said, pushing aside a filmy yellow curtain to reveal a tiny bedroom. “You may store your belongings here,” and she pulled a nicely high-tech locker out from under the low bed that took up most of the floor. “You may choose the code yourself, of course.” Anim slipped out of the room again, leaving John alone with Mahall.

“I’d prefer to keep my belongings with me,” John said.

She looked askance at him. “Consort… John. You are among friends, here, I assure you. I understand that your time with Honored Scientist McKay has been dedicated to his protection before now, but he is in no danger, here, and, if you will pardon my saying so, you appear to have neglected other aspects of your education in favor of weapons training.”

“Neglected my… what?” John said.

She came closer, setting one hand on his arm again. “It has been hard,” she said, low and kind. “I do understand. You must be a brave Consort, indeed, to be kept by one so highly esteemed as Honored Scientist McKay, even though you are well past the age when most Consorts would have been retired to the teaching courts, or sent to work in less enlightened villages.”

Anim stepped back into the cubicle and John turned to face him, hand sliding down to the butt of his gun.

“I have here clothing for you, Consort John,” Anim said. “You will be here for many hours, and these will surely be more comfortable.”

“Look, I don’t know what you people think I do with McKay,” John began, but Mahall stepped forward and cupped him, right through his pants.

“You appear to be very high-strung, Consort John,” she said. He opened and closed his mouth twice. She was squeezing and it felt, well, pretty darn good, and then Anim stepped up to his other side and cupped his ass, pressing him forward into Mahall’s (padded, pleasant) chest. “I think the first thing we must do is help you to achieve relaxation.”

“…I do feel a little tense,” John said a few minutes later; by then he was wearing a lot less, and Anim was doing something that made the last five years of deprivation feel like they were almost worth it.

“Just relax,” Mahall said from behind Anim, and John, well. John relaxed.

.

“What did you do all day?” McKay asked, looking up from his laptop.

“Just laid around, mostly,” John said. “Nothing too interesting.”

It was, of course, an utter, utter lie, but John was okay with it, and never varied it for the three and a half weeks they spent going to M8R-336. He did do a lot of lying around, but he was also pretty active, and after a couple of weeks he was a whole lot more flexible than he’d started off.

Mahall was the lead Consort, in charge of continuing education, as it were; she clicked her tongue over the state of John’s education, or lack thereof, and immediately set him to some basic training involving Anim and a few other young, flexible, lithe and enthusiastic Consorts. After John explained that Honored Scientist McKay didn’t usually require his services at lunchtime, he even got to come a couple of times, right up until about 3 p.m. by the local clock. At that point Mahall insisted he should save himself for his Patron. John agreed readily enough – anything to avoid being sent away – and piloted the puddlejumper home, usually with a hard-on tucked as discreetly into his BDUs as he could manage.

Teyla noticed his newfound flexibility in their sparring sessions. Ronon noticed that John wasn’t interested in going running in the evenings – mornings were plenty. Lorne noticed that John was more relaxed and less likely to yell at the marines during formation.

Rodney didn’t notice anything.

That was fine, on one hand. John was going to be really sad when Rodney was finished repairing the Fillii desalinization plants. In the meantime, he really didn’t need Rodney to suddenly become observant of anything but his datapad. Because he might notice, for instance, that John was usually not only amenable to leaving him alone with the other enlightened Citizens, he was eager to do it – trotting off with Anim or one of his colleagues without a backward glance. Or Rodney might notice that when John came back to pick him up, he was occasionally limping slightly. Or wearing a goofy grin. Or (once) wearing eyeliner. (Luckily John caught a glimpse of himself in a window on the way to the jumper, and hastily told Rodney he should practice piloting on the way home, while John crowded into the jumper’s tiny toilet cubicle and rubbed until he looked less like the lost member of The Cure.)

On the other hand, John really wished Rodney would notice something, because John was developing something of a desperate need to perform lewd and enthusiastic sex acts on his (oblivious, solid, god, delicious) body.

The crush on Rodney was nothing new; it had been simmering for as long as John could remember. But John was now having regular sex. And the Consorts were determined that John should be devoted to Rodney. They spent a lot of time whispering into his ear about how much Honored Scientist McKay would probably like this, and how much John would really enjoy it when Honored Scientist McKay did that, and how John should be willing to suck on Honored Scientist McKay’s dick for at least an hour in order to maximize his pleasure when he did, finally, come. And then the Consorts showed John how to do all the thisses and thats and how to give an hour-long (or longer) blowjob.

As a result, John was slowly losing his mind, but there was no way he was about to stop what he was doing.

.

All the Citizens disappeared for a two-hour lunch-and-siesta at midday. Rodney generally got a tray and kept right on working. He mostly saw it as a chance to get more work done than he could with four or five well-meaning but annoying people hovering at his elbow, peppering him with questions they were patently unready to understand the answers to. Elizabeth had been very clear that he wasn’t allowed to be rude to the Fillii, and since she reinforced the lesson every damned time he came back through the gate, he bit his tongue and didn’t do anything beyond naming his two most persistent admirers Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dope. (“What?” he asked Sheppard. “Oh, they think it’s a term of honor. Quit looking at me like that.”) This uncharacteristic restraint meant he welcomed the two-hour silence every day. Two hours during which he could mutter insults and imprecations under his breath, and incidentally get four times as much work done.

Today, though, he was rethinking things. He’d burnt two fingers when a fibre-optics wire sparked unexpectedly, and his shoulders hurt from hunching over the crystal tray, micro-welding new connections. Not to mention a headache from glaring at the tiny wires for four hours straight.

“Honored Scientist McKay, are you certain that you will not reconsider your decision?” It was Tweedle-dee, hovering at his shoulder again. “There is a new chef in the Consortium kitchens, and yesterday’s meal was most sumptuous – today we are promised an even more delectable repast.”

Rodney looked up from the tray. “I am kind of hungry.”

Tweedle-dee beamed and touched his arm. Rodney sighed and didn’t twitch away. They were very… friendly here. “You must come with us, Honored Scientist McKay! I am certain also that your Consort will be pleased to see you at luncheon at last.”

“Oh, Sheppard will be there?” Rodney straightened, wincing as his spine crackled.

“Yes, I have seen him upon certain afternoons, at the refreshment period,” Tweedle-dee said. He looked kind of wistful. “You are most fortunate to have such a talented Consort.”

Rodney snorted. “Yes, well. He has many talents – slapping me upside the head, pushing me around, yelling at me to hurry up, getting on my nerves.”

Tweedle-dee was staring, wide-eyed. “And this is how you prefer to be served by him?”

Rodney began tucking the miniature tools away in their case, considering. “I guess so. I’m used to it, anyway.”

“Preferences are quite varied, it is true,” Tweedle-dee murmured, almost to himself. He looked at Rodney, cheerful again. “So, are you ready?”

“Yes, yes,” Rodney said. “Lead the way.”

.

“Consorts Anim, Yevan, please leave me with Consort John.”

John heard it with part of his brain (the small part not taken up by Consort Yevan’s mouth, which was doing interesting things to his ass), but he couldn’t quite stop the frustrated noise that escaped when Yevan and Anim left him high and dry (so to speak), with Mahall smiling down at him.

“What?” he said.

“Consort John, I have a surprise for you,” she said. “We must prepare you.”

John wasn’t inclined to argue; so far all of Mahall’s surprises had been really, really nice (except the ones that required him to learn to come on command, which were annoying but had ended very well, so… yeah, all). He went along with it when she led him to the cleansing chambers – lack of water meant sonic showers and John really wanted to tell Rodney about them, because: neat! sonic showers!, but he couldn’t figure out a story to tell that would lead to him learning about the showers – and then dressed him in a few skimpy things. A scarf here, a butter-soft suede g-string there, and Mahall carefully applied black eyeliner and then stepped back to survey her work.

“Yes, very fine,” she said, rubbing her thumb over her lips and then his. John made an annoyed noise and jerked his head back. Eyeliner, fine, but not lipstick, for Christ’s sake. “It is well,” she soothed, “just a touch of color, Consort John.”

“You always say that,” he complained, and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. It came away very slightly pink.

She gave him one final looking-over and clapped her hands. “Consort Anim, please take Consort John to the Opal Room and complete his preparation. Our guests will be there in a short while.”

John perked up at that. He liked the Opal Room. It was where the Fillii Enlightened Citizen guys (and girls) all went to have kinky sex and then naps and then food. John hadn’t gotten to have sex with any of the scientists, but there was a sort of stage thing, a platform at the front of the room, where Mahall arranged performance art of a kind. John had been allowed to participate in the slow-moving and ever-changing tableaux put there to, John always thought, whet the appetites of the diners whose Consorts weren’t there, or were doing other things, like playing music or reading poetry. Also, “complete his preparation” – that was always good.

It was good today, too. The Opal Room, viewed through a thin, filmy curtain, was quiet and mostly empty, servers slipping in and out, putting the last touches on the tables (low and gleaming with silver, set before the wide, soft couches where Consorts would entertain their Patrons before the meal), a few other Consorts being prepared. John lay across a sofa in the anteroom and tried not to rub himself against the cushions as Anim, kneeling beside the couch, pushed wet, gentle fingers into him, the g-string shoved aside, digging into the crease of his thigh in the front, pulling his cock and balls tight against his body.

“You are very fortunate,” Anim murmured (John made a soft noise and kept his eyes closed, face mashed into the soft fabric), “your Patron is most handsome, it must be a joy to you to serve him.” (John humped the couch a little, snickered as Anim pinched his bare ass.) “Oh, here they come,” Anim said, and John lifted his head, pushing up on his elbows to get up and move to the platform at the front of the room. “No, stay here for a moment, I’ll take you when it’s time,” Anim said, leaning to whisper into his ear, fingers sliding out of his ass. “This is your surprise.” Anim kissed his ear. “You must not disappoint our instructors.”

“Oh boy,” John said.

Everything happened kind of quickly after that. The scientists came in, a familiar rush of chatter and speech, men and women lying beside the tables, music beginning, a bevy of (slim, gorgeous, lovely) young men and women hurrying by to take their places on the platform, giggling, gleaming with paint and youth and sex. John and Anim watched for a few minutes, the hush of voices and laughter and music rising in the big, softly lit room on the other side of the curtain.

“Come, now,” Anim said. He grabbed John’s hand and led him through the tables. “Honored Scientist McKay will be most pleased to see you.”

John jerked his hand back; Anim latched onto his arm instead and began to pull.

“I don’t think I should – this isn’t – oh, crap.”

He could hear Rodney before he saw him, his fast, babbling voice going higher as he said “What, no, my clothes are fine just like they, oh, well, oh, oh,” and John wondered which unassigned Consort was making Rodney sound like that. Then he could see him, sprawled back on the cushions with his feet on the floor, a stunned look on his face, looking around at everyone else having sex and then down at the head moving between his legs. So: Ullo. Well, John supposed that answered the question of whether Rodney would mind having a man suck him off. Rodney kept talking, between breathy noises: “This explains why everyone’s always so, oh, cheerful after lunch, I suppose. Also why Sheppard’s been, uh, uh, looking so damned relaxed. Oh, oh, why are you, hey -”

Ullo was moving back as Anim pushed John forward. Shock (want) seemed to have produced some kind of paralysis, and John shut his eyes tightly as Anim and Ullo moved him about, pulling the g-string aside again, settling him over (he cracked one eye open and, yeah) Rodney, who was staring open-mouthed up at him as he slid down and down and down, thick hard wet dick sliding up and up and up, smooth and perfect, into his body.

Rodney’s dick. In John’s body.

“Hey,” he said, breathless, and Rodney gasped something unintelligible, eyes wide as saucers, right before they slammed shut and he arched up and came, head thrown back, tendons in his neck standing out.

“Okay, well,” John said. He figured he should make Mahall as proud as he could, anyway, considering that damn Rodney had to go off like a rocket, so he leaned forward and rocked a little, tightening certain muscles, making Rodney’s orgasm last a little longer.

.

“What the hell?” Rodney asked.

They’d been taken back to John’s cubby… thing, and left to themselves. John was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching Rodney pace from the curtain-hung door to the back wall again and again.

“I mean, what about, what about intergalactic AIDS?” Rodney said, hands flailing wildly. “You know, aside from the tiny little matter of your intergalactic slut-hood,” he aimed a poisonous glare at John, who shrugged and leaned back on his hands, setting his feet apart on the floor so Rodney looked hastily away, “and the six thousand fraternization rules you’ve been breaking every single day since we got here, you know, apart from all that, there’s the tiny matter of sexually transmitted diseases and the fact that we just had unprotected sex.” Rodney stopped, staring at him again. “In front of sixty other people.”

“They were all having sex, too,” John said.

“Not really comforting my STD fears,” Rodney hissed.

John stood.

“Look Rodney,” he said. “They’re very safe-sex conscious here.” Rodney was standing by the door, arms crossed, glaring at him. “They’ve never penetrated me with anything other than fingers or sterilized toys.” (John was pretty sure they’d been sterilized. They’d been clean, anyway.) “There’s no kissing except between Patrons and Consorts, and since I’m your Consort, I haven’t kissed anyone on the mouth here.” (He wouldn’t mind kissing Rodney. Maybe later, when it wouldn’t all end in the bad kind of biting.) “No one’s even come in my mouth,” he added. “And you know Carson checks us both every damned day for foreign viruses and bacteria, and I’m clean.”

“No one’s even come in your mouth?” Rodney said. “This is supposed to make me feel better how?”

“Saving it all up for you,” John said flippantly, gesturing down his body and then sighing as Rodney looked away hastily. “Sorry. I just – I know it was a shock, but I don’t mind. I liked it.”

“Intergalactic. Slut,” Rodney said, not looking at him.

“Right, you were really fighting Ullo off before I got there,” John said.

“It was a blowjob,” Rodney said, rolling his eyes. “Duh.”

“Well, I give better head than him,” John said.

Now Rodney was looking at him. “I’m sorry, did I pique your professional jealousy?” he asked, incredulous. “A thousand apologies.”

“Let me prove it,” John said. He wondered if Mahall had slipped him something. Maybe her lipstick was hallucinogenic. He licked his lips and sidled closer to Rodney.

“What? No.” Rodney kept his glare on the far wall, ignoring John. “Just, just get dressed.”

“And what? Go home?” John asked, close enough now to feel the heat coming off Rodney’s skin. “You haven’t finished fixing their desalinization plants.”

“They don’t deserve to have their desalinization plants fixed,” Rodney said, chin jutting forward.

“Why, because they gave you a blowjob and taught me fourteen new ways to make a guy – to make you – come?” John snorted. “Lock ’em up!”

“How are you not straight?” Rodney asked, finally looking at him. His eyes were so blue, lashes so long; John remembered that he’d had the crush on Rodney for a lot longer than three weeks.

He shrugged, and didn’t really lean in…. or maybe he did, just a millimeter or three. “I’ve always been bi,” he said. “Hell, I like guys more than women, to be honest, but considering my choice of career, and the fact that women are okay…” He blew out a little snort of frustration. “And you’re always calling me a slut, but there’ve only been two women I’ve been with in the whole time you’ve known me. And no men,” he added, because Rodney was already opening his mouth to ask.

“You’re just -” Rodney waved a hand. “You do this thing, where you smile at women, and talk a certain way, you get all drawley – it’s annoying.” He scowled at John’s shoulder.

John shifted his gaze to Rodney’s mouth. Licked his own lips. “It’s called flirting, Rodney,” he said. “And I’ve been doing it with you for three years.”

“You have not,” Rodney said, but John was tired of waiting for him to catch up. It’d been forty-five minutes since the Opal Room – he was pretty sure he could get Rodney hard again.

He dropped to his knees and leaned forward, pressing his mouth to Rodney’s crotch, breathing hotly over the soft bulge beneath the cloth.

“What’re you – holy Jesus, did they slip you something?” Rodney sounded panicked, but his hands were weak where they pulled at his hair, and John made a dismissive noise into what was quickly becoming harder under his open mouth. “Colonel, you have to – Christ,” Rodney said as John unzipped his pants and pulled him out. They’d let them both clean up and Rodney’s dick tasted only of skin, barely salty, half-hard in John’s mouth. “You don’t have to -” Rodney said.

“I want to,” John pulled away enough to say. “I haven’t come yet, so can we please save my half of the conversation for later?” He went back to sucking and mouthing Rodney’s cock, humming happily as it hardened fully.

“I don’t see how sucking me is going to get you off,” Rodney said breathlessly, but his fingers were tangled in John’s hair now, and a minute later he said “Christ” again, as John pushed the g-string down and grasped his own cock, eyes closed, sucking slow and hard, mouth moving up and down Rodney at the same rate as his hand on his own dick. “Christ, that’s, fuck, it really turns you on,” Rodney babbled, and he didn’t try to stop John anymore, not even verbally – he descended with flattering rapidity into broken half-words, repetitive moaning, harsh gasps. “I want to see you come,” he choked out some time later.

John’s hips snapped forward into his fist, eyes clenching, mouth still tight around Rodney’s cock as he came, long and hot: sharp pleasure rocketing through him as his body bowed, trying to arch but still curved around Rodney’s cock. Sucking, tongue dragging up the underside as it swelled and pulsed, slow thick spurt onto his tongue. And no one on Fillii had come in John’s mouth, but he knew what to do, and he wanted to do it. He sucked through Rodney’s peak, holding him deep, and then drew back slowly. He ignored the sticky state of his own thighs and hand in favor of this: Rodney’s come, bitter and bland on his tongue for a perfect instant before he swallowed.

“Fuck,” Rodney gulped. His cock slid from John’s mouth as he sagged back against the wall, hands slipping from John’s hair as well. “What the hell. What the hell.”

“Well, I feel better,” John slurred. He knew he must look used, strung out, wasted, drunk – still on his knees, head tipped back, eyes closed blissfully, right hand still tight around his softening cock.

“Come on,” Rodney said.

John opened his eyes and blinked up at Rodney, who was staring at him with huge, frightened eyes.

“What?” he said.

“We have to go home. Carson needs to see you. Me. Both of us!” Rodney squeaked, hands waving frantically, despite the fact that his body was still slack against the wall, dick hanging out, pants around his ankles. “This isn’t normal, Colonel.”

John sighed. So much for afterglow. “Rodney, it’s fine,” he said, climbing to his feet. “Fuck, I am getting too old for this gig,” he grunted. “I’m not drugged, you’re not drugged, neither of us is sick, nobody brainwashed me.”

“Well then you’ll have no problem with letting Carson test us both for every damn voodoo herb he can think of,” Rodney snapped, fumbling himself back into his clothes. “We’re due for a break anyway. And I obviously need bloodwork done, or a brainscan, or something.”

John turned away, unwilling hurt tightening the line of his shoulders. “Sorry. I didn’t know you’d have to be drugged to want to have sex with me,” John muttered, wiping at his thighs with a soft, oiled cloth.

“Don’t be an ass,” Rodney said.

John snorted without turning to face him, and tossed the cloth away, pulling his locker from underneath the bench and keying in his code.

“Colonel,” Rodney said, and John heard him pulling up his pants, the rustle and zip as he tucked himself away again. “It’s not – it’s the other way around,” he said, and he sounded a little pissed and a little bitter.

John turned, uniform pants in his hand. Rodney was backed as far from him as possible, looking unhappy – looking at the wall behind John’s shoulder.

“What the hell does that mean?” John said. “You think someone would have to be drugged to want to have sex with you?” He took off the g-string, ignoring his nudity and the slow, hot burn of Rodney’s flush: cheeks and ears and neck and chest. “Please. You think everyone should want to have sex with you.”

“Well,” Rodney said, looking away, hands wavering uncertainly in the air, “yes. But, you know, in a more theoretical sort of way, because I’m me, and my genes are worth carrying on, plus I save everyone’s lives all the time, so I kind of think they owe me, you know, something, so maybe out of gratitude people could act a little more welcoming,” Christ, now he sounded petulant, “it just seems like common courtesy.”

John had his pants on, and he stepped closer to Rodney. “So you’re saying you think people should have sex with you to say thank you for the fact that you save their lives?”

“No! Of course not!” Rodney scowled for a second. “It would be nice, though,” he muttered.

John couldn’t help it: he let out a tiny snort of laughter. “You save my life about once a day,” he pointed out. “Twice on Sundays.”

“Yes, but.” Rodney made a looping gesture with one hand, still not looking at John’s face. “You save mine, too. Possibly more than I save yours, although if you count all the times I’ve saved everyone on Atlantis, simply by virtue of being me and keeping the city afloat and not, you know, poisoning our water supply like that moron Edarov, then I’m definitely in the lead. Still, though. Also, I’m still kind of freaking out about the fact that you’re not straight.”

“Look.” John wanted – badly – to step forward, hook his chin over Rodney’s shoulder, nuzzle him a little, grope him, get him messy. (Messier.) But he resisted, stopping where he was instead: a little too far inside Rodney’s personal space, but not right up against him. “You don’t have to sleep with me again if you don’t want to, but don’t – I don’t know. Don’t tell anyone.” He stepped back, turning for his t-shirt. “I can’t – my job – you know.” He pulled the black cotton over himself, pushed his head through and eyed Rodney. “I’m not drugged,” he added for good measure.

“I won’t tell anyone,” Rodney said. He stayed where he was as John finished dressing; John could feel his gaze. “You took me by surprise,” Rodney said finally, when John turned around to face him. “I just don’t – this is confusing.”

“It’s fine,” John said. “I’m fine. I didn’t know they were going to do that today, you know.” He began snapping the tac vest into place: click, click, click. “I would’ve made some excuse if I’d known – I didn’t mean to surprise you like that.”

Rodney folded his arms. “Either you do want to have sex with me or you don’t,” he said. “Which is it?”

John rolled his eyes. “Oh for Chrissakes, Rodney. C’mon.” They left the cubby and John made their excuses, first to Mahall, then to the two scientists Rodney liked best. Uncomfortable silence settled between them on the way back to the jumper, and John felt itchy under his clothes as he powered it up and they lifted from the ground.

“I did want to have sex with you,” the you moron part was clearly implied, John decided, which was good, “I just didn’t mean for it to be in front of sixty other people and without any warning. All right?” They arrowed toward the gate, and John began slapping their address into the panel.

“Oh,” Rodney said, and he batted John’s hands away from the DHD and entered the alpha site address himself, more gently. The silence was less strained after that, and before they circled back to the gate and dialed Atlantis, he tossed John a handkerchief. “You still have, uh,” he said, and pointed to his own eyes. John sighed and wiped the makeup off.

“Better?” he said, handing the cloth back to Rodney and facing him, eyebrows raised.

Rodney tucked the hankie away, glanced at him and then away. “I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “The eyeliner wasn’t really a bad look for you.”

John smirked. “Oh, yeah?”

Rodney turned away from him to stare out the front window. “Shut up,” he said, folding his arms and slouching back into his seat.

John finished dialing; punched in his IDC.

“Atlantis,” he said as the event horizon shimmered into existence, “we’re on our way in. Everything’s cool.”

~ the end ~