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by shalott

The night after they all miraculously didn't die, Rodney was sitting on the end of his bed trying to come down enough to sleep. He couldn't stop thinking: analyzing the weapons systems, calculating the drain rate on the ZPM, working out the equations for the shield generator. It wasn't the drugs anymore, just the wildly improbable surprise of winning, and he was so exhausted he couldn't force his eyes to close.

The door made a pinging noise and opened when he looked up; John was standing there, hair still damp and curling over his neck, with a bottle of vodka in one hand. "I thought maybe you couldn't sleep either," he said.

Rodney figured he didn't need a translator to know what that meant, and after he spent thirty seconds blinking with his mouth open, he said, "Come in."

Obviously it was an incredibly bad idea; Rodney told himself he was just going to let John down gently. But he was still badly deprived of sleep, caffeine, and all rational judgment, so it only took about a quarter of the bottle to change his mind. Then it took another quarter of the bottle to make him get impatient. "Okay, what are you waiting for, yes already," Rodney said.

John blinked at him groggily and said, "Huh?" and Rodney rolled his eyes and leaned over to kiss him.

He misjudged the distance and overbalanced, so they fell over and John had to catch him and haul him back up onto the bed. John made a whuffing strangled noise as Rodney landed on him. "Sorry," Rodney said, shifting his weight to the side, and by way of apology pushed John's sweatpants down and stroked him while he kissed him again.

John made more strangled noises into Rodney's mouth and squirmed and writhed underneath him in a distracting and amazingly hot way, all long lean hard muscles, and John's dick felt so good in his hand, firming up just as John's hands, tight on his shoulders, were slowly going slack. "Hang on a second," Rodney said, breaking off, and John said, "What -- uh -- Rodney -- "

"Relax, I'm not going anywhere!" Rodney said, and bent down over him.

"Oh my god," John said, in a drunkenly stunned way, and there we go, Rodney thought smugly, his mouth full of John's dick, now rapidly getting all the way hard. John gave a gasp and thrust up, and Rodney squirmed around until he could get a really good angle, rest his head on John's rock-smooth abs and go down on him all the way.

"Oh, god, oh, oh, yes, wait," John said, and came.

Rodney didn't mind swallowing for a good cause, though on principle he said, "You could warn a guy next time," as he stretched out next to John, who was staring at him, open-mouthed. "So," Rodney said, nudging against John's hip meaningfully, and John's eyes got flatteringly big and he said, "Rodney -- "

"Dr. McKay!" yowled the radio: one of the idiots who'd come over on the Daedalus and who were theoretically supposed to be handling things while he and his staff caught up on their sleep. "Dr. McKay, we have a harmonic fluctuation in the shield generator outputs, we can't lock it down -- "

"Oh, fuck," Rodney said, rolled out of bed and grabbed his pants and shirt; he hopped around getting his feet through the pant legs and ran out the door still zipping up the fly, then ran back in, bent over and kissed John hard, said, "Sorry, sorry -- " and ran out again.

He meant to go back to his room after he saved the day -- again, and he made a mental note to demand a giant whomping year-end bonus for all of this, now they'd reestablished contact with Earth -- but in the half-hour wait to make sure the shield really had stabilized this time, he fell asleep on a lab table. By the time he woke up seventeen hours later he was sober, with a splitting headache and a pile of second thoughts, not to mention third, fourth and fifth.

Standing outside John's door, Rodney took a deep breath. They were both rational adults. They could deal with this maturely. He squared his shoulders and hit the door panel, and crap, John was lying in bed, wearing that tight black shirt, and those jeans, and, no, no, no, he wasn't going to let his libido overrule his better judgement.

John sat up, putting his book aside, looking uncomfortable. "Rodney -- "

"Just let me talk a minute, okay?" Rodney said hurriedly.

John blew out a breath and said, "Fine, you first."

Rodney swallowed. "Okay. It's not that last night wasn't great -- " even if, okay, John had kind of fallen down on the job, but it wasn't his fault Dr. Kohler was an incompetent moron who shouldn't be allowed within fifty feet of Ancient technology, " -- and it's not you. I mean, it's definitely not you, what with the, um," he swallowed again, trying not to look at John, "being hot, and um, smart, and funny and, I realize this makes me sound like a complete loser -- "

"Wait, wait a second," John said, sounding totally baffled. "Are you trying to dump me?"

Rodney stopped, annoyed. "Well, I'm sorry if it's a new experience for you!"

John sputtered, "That's not -- we aren't -- I didn't even -- " He still sounded outraged more than anything.

"And it's not that I don't want to!" Rodney said. "It's just -- Look, chances are this was not our last near-death experience, and it's bad enough trying to get past the inevitable panic attacks and hysteria when it's just my near-death experience I'm freaking out over, without having to worry about someone I -- someone I -- really care about."

John's mouth was standing open, and he shut it, then he opened it again and shut it again, and finally said, faintly, " -- really care about?"

Rodney rolled his eyes. "No, I'll just let anyone who comes by my room have me for the price of a bottle of vodka," he said. Then he had an attack of honesty and added, "Well, I mean, probably I would, if they were hot. But that's not the point. The point is, I just can't. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, but I've hit the ceiling on stress as it is, and I'm going to, um, go get something to eat now," backing towards the door, because he didn't really trust himself not to cave if John pushed much harder.

"Really care about?" John repeated, still sounding dazed.

Rodney fled.

It helped that they didn't see much of each other for the next couple of weeks: damage control giving way to repairs, working in all the new personnel. They mostly only saw each other across the mess hall, or at staff meetings, and once passed at arm's-length in the corridor; it was hard to keep going, seeing the look of quiet desperation in John's eyes, the way he glanced at the Marines with him. Rodney had to take a deep breath and force himself to walk on with nothing more than a casual nod, pretending he didn't see how John's shoulders slumped when he went by.

Thankfully, John didn't try to push it beyond that. There was plenty to keep them both distracted. Rodney's time went to fixing the poor smashed-up city; in the meantime, Colonel Everett was keeping John hopping. Everett was staying on as military head, though Elizabeth was back in charge now that the threat was officially considered contained, and the last Wraith had barely been cleared out of the city before he'd put John on tightening up the city's defenses.

Still, Rodney thought, vaguely annoyed, John could have pushed a little harder; and then as soon as he'd thought it he had to go to his quarters and give himself a stern talking-to in front of the mirror, because that way lay madness, depression, anxiety attacks, and probably compulsive overeating.

He congratulated himself for being able to act completely normal as they sat down with Elizabeth and the rest of the team for their first offworld-mission briefing since the whole crisis. He kept congratulating himself until Elizabeth said, "Rodney?" in that tone that meant she'd said it already twice, possibly more.

"Oh, um, sorry," Rodney said, rifling through his short-term memory. "Oh; yes, the shield's stable, Radek can handle almost anything that could go wrong while I'm gone, and the possibility of anything else is as remote as it's ever been. We're good."

"Okay," Elizabeth said. "Then you have a go. Be careful -- and Major, I want you to keep in mind that we have a measure of security now, with the shields up. Limit your risks -- there's no reason to rush anymore."

"Got it," John said. "We'll take it easy."

As famous last words, those would really suck, Rodney thought. He felt surprisingly calm, considering what he wanted to do was run around in circles screaming his head off. Instead his hands were systematically packing pressure bandages around the gaping opening in John's abdomen, over the pink ropy intestines he could see in way too much detail.

The bear-thing was lying motionless and dead with his and Ford's guns emptied into it, the pool of blood underneath it greenish-blue, as if for contrast with the red one spreading slowly larger next to it. John already looked albino-pale under his black hair; he was breathing shallowly, staring up at the sky with a hand resting limply on his chest; and god, Rodney thought, he'd been so incredibly stupid. He leaned over and didn't touch John's face, because his hands were slick and red with blood, but he whispered, "I'm sorry; I'm an idiot; don't you fucking dare die," and kissed John's soft and unresisting mouth.

When he lifted his head, Ford was there with the stretcher, staring, and Rodney snarled at him, "Get the fucking stretcher over here, and don't even think of saying a fucking word."

"Whoa!" Ford held up his free hand. "Not saying anything." And he didn't, to his credit, not even after they'd gotten John into the jumper and handed him off to the medical team back in Atlantis for what Beckett said was going to be sixteen hours of surgery that no, Rodney could not come and observe.

And when Rodney just stood there in the jumper bay after they carried John away, staring into space, Ford even touched his arm and said, "McKay? You all right?" Of course, then Rodney bent over and threw up spectacularly all over the floor, but it was still a nice gesture.

Ford got him back to his quarters and hovered while Rodney rinsed his mouth out. "He's going to be okay," Ford said, tentatively.

"Yes," Rodney said. "Of course he is. A little thing like shredded intestines never hurt anyone. Sorry," he added, when Ford flinched. "Sorry -- I just -- " He leaned forward and let his forehead rest against the cool metallic wall, and after a moment, Ford stepped forward and silently gripped his shoulder.

It surprised the hell out of Rodney, and he felt a little bad about that, but mostly he was busy just being grateful, and he wiped his face and swallowed and then he turned around awkwardly. "Look, I'm just going to -- " He waved vaguely at the shower.

"Yeah, man, that's a good idea," Ford said, with a half-smile, looking him up and down. "Listen, I'm going to go talk to Dr. Weir, reschedule the debriefing for later -- "

"Thank you," Rodney said, and silently vowed he would never ask Ford to identify a single prime number ever again, not even five or eleven. He showered as fast as he could, eyes squeezed shut so he didn't have to watch the dissolving blood swirl away down the drain, and groped his way to the towels and back out the bathroom door.

They still wouldn't let him into the operating room, and when he asked how it was going, the battleaxe on duty glared and told him to come back in fifteen and a half hours. Rodney waited a full fifteen minutes before asking again, which he felt was very restrained, all things considered, but after she threatened to call security and have him thrown out, he shut up and appropriated a couple of chairs and settled down to wait.


He woke up with a jerk and managed to kick away the chair under his legs, and went sliding down to the floor in a flailing heap. "I'm okay," he said, muffled, hauling himself back up. "Ow! I'm fine."

Elizabeth was frowning. "We were supposed to debrief at 1700 hours. Is this where you've been? Why didn't you answer your radio?"

Rodney stared at her guiltily; he was pretty sure his radio was still on the floor in his bathroom, somewhere in the pile of blood-and-vomit-stained clothing. "Um." Then he spotted Beckett coming out of the operating room, stripping off red-streaked surgical gloves for the biowaste bin, and lunged right past Elizabeth without a thought.

"Sweet Mother Mary!" Beckett said, jumping as Rodney grabbed his arm. "I thought I told you to go get some sleep!"

Rodney said, "Is he -- Can I see -- "

"No, you bloody well cannot, they're still sewing him up!" Beckett said. Then he sighed and relented, saying more gently, "It's too soon to be sure yet, but -- "

"Oh my god, he's going to be okay," Rodney said, and the next thing he knew he was blinking up at Carson and Elizabeth from the floor. "Oh, huh. Maybe I should eat something," he said, dazed, as they helped him up.

"You haven't eaten?" Elizabeth said, and Rodney winced. Okay, he was busted, bigtime.

"So," Rodney said, poking at the empty plates on his tray, not meeting Elizabeth's gaze over her desk. He obviously had to tell her: less than a day and already Ford knew, Carson had to have guessed, and Elizabeth herself probably had her suspicions. They weren't exactly going to be able to keep this relationship under wraps.

Elizabeth said. "Lieutenant Ford told me -- "

"He told you?" Rodney said, indignant, raising his head; he was going to look up the top thirty Mersenne primes just to --

Elizabeth frowned. "About the bear?"

"Oh, uh, right," Rodney said, mentally apologizing to Ford. "Actually, there's, um, something else I have to tell you about."

"Okay," Elizabeth said, and waited.

"Although," he gave a weak laugh, "you probably already have some idea, I mean, what with the, um -- " He waved his hand.

"Yes?" she prompted.

"You know, you're probably busy, maybe I should just save this for later -- "


"John and I are involved," he said, as fast as he could.

"Involved as in -- "

Rodney frowned. He understood her position; wow, would this be embarrassing to misunderstand, but did she really have to make him spell it out? "In a plot to take over the galaxy, what do you think? In a relationship."

Elizabeth sat motionless, staring at him. "You and -- John?" she said, faintly.

Maybe she hadn't suspected after all. "Well, okay, I guess it is a little weird, when you think about it," Rodney said. "I mean, no, I don't usually go for military types. Don't get me wrong: very cute, most of them, but they're all a little stiff. Not that John is, which explains it. He just snuck up on me, really."

"Oh," Elizabeth said.

"And, believe me, I realize all the issues; having a relationship with someone you work with," Rodney said. "But if it's any comfort, I've been down this road a few times, and I'm pretty sure I already know everything that can go wrong."

"Oh," Elizabeth said.

"My first job in the Pentagon, I was working on -- oh, that's right, I'm still not allowed to talk about that one, but anyway, my supervisor on that project, wow, really hot, and there was the whole older-woman thing going on -- I was twenty-one at the time -- and you know what it's like when you're with someone you're that attracted to every day, and, um." Rodney paused. "Actually, that relationship only lasted two weeks, come to think of it. But those were a great couple of weeks." He sighed a little dreamily in memory.

"Oh," Elizabeth said.

"But this isn't like that," he said hastily. "This is -- well, it's early to say, and I don't want to jinx it, apart from the whole way we keep nearly getting killed, but I'm pretty sure this is -- " He stopped and his eyes went wide. "Oh my god, it is. I'm serious about him." He stared at Elizabeth in mounting panic. "What do I do?"

Elizabeth just sat with her mouth open soundlessly.

"I mean, great sex, that's easy, that's just technical work," Rodney said. "But what if I'm not emotionally open enough? What if he wants kids? Wait, what if I want kids? Do I want kids?"

"Rodney!" Elizabeth said finally, breaking in. "I think you're going to have to discuss this with John."

"Right, of course." He took a few deep breaths, working past the hyperventilation, calming down. "Yes. Obviously. First he needs to get better, then we'll work through it. Nothing's insurmountable, right? I mean, compared to defeating the Wraith -- "

"Exactly!" Elizabeth said, hurriedly. "I'm sure the two of you will manage!"

"Yes, right, good," he said, and heaved one last deep breath. "So, anyway, that's what I had to tell you," he finished, and looked at her.

Elizabeth said, fumbling, "Oh. Well, um, that's -- " Then abruptly she stopped, laughed, and shook her head. "Rodney, I'm sorry, I'm behaving like an idiot," she said ruefully. "Please forgive me -- I'm surprised, but truly, I'm so very glad for both of you."

"I'm sorry to spring this on you," Rodney said, almost lightheaded with relief; not that he'd really been worried about Elizabeth's reaction, but you never knew for sure. "Just, these things get out, you know? I'm really not a morning person, I think people are going to notice if I'm staggering out of his apartment at 9 am every day. I didn't want you to get blindsided -- "

She nodded. "Rodney, I don't know what I can do if Colonel Everett decides to make an issue out of this -- "

"I didn't tell you so you could pull strings for us."

"I know," she said. "But I want you and John to know that I will do what I can, if it ever comes to that." She leaned across the desk and touched his hand. "Thank you for trusting me with this."

Rodney swallowed and had to blink hard a few times. "Thanks," he said quietly. "That means a lot," and she came around the desk and hugged him tight.

* * *

The first few days, John was in so much pain he couldn't even keep track of time, existing from one rationed dose of morphine to the next. Rodney's voice was an anchor, like the steady low beeping of the heart monitor, while John floated between disconnected sentences, between the tiny careful kisses Rodney stole when the nurses left the room, the warm brush of lips and breath so light over his own that he didn't know they'd happened until they were over, too late to bother objecting.

They kept him pretty high for a while after the worst was over and the discussions at his bedside started being casual instead of worried. By then he'd been on the very best drugs for a week, though, and he was already hooked enough that Beckett wanted to cut back the dosage a lot. John agreed firmly when Beckett talked to him about it. One hour later the pain hit, and from then on he was so fucking out of control he couldn't help asking for more almost constantly.

"Goddamnit, give him something," he heard Rodney demanding out in the main infirmary room, and Beckett saying, "Bloody hell, Rodney, do you think I like seeing my patients in pain?" and then Rodney's quick angry steps coming back into his private alcove.

The nurse left without giving him another dose, and he almost wept; Rodney crouched at the side of the bed and stroked his forehead and said quietly, "Do you want me to -- maybe it would help -- "

John said, "Yes, please, yes," desperately, and Rodney got John's dick out and sucked and licked and stroked him, slow and tender. Not long or hard enough to push John over the edge into a climax, just a steady flow of pleasure, and John fell asleep between one touch and the next.

They moved him to his own quarters once he could limp to the bathroom and back, three days later. He still couldn't sit up or bend at the waist or eat solid food, and everything hurt; but he wasn't so out of it he didn't know what he was doing anymore, and when the nurses had left and Rodney leaned over to kiss him, John put up a hand and stopped him. "Look, we are not dating," he said raspily.

Rodney sat back. "Right, fine, we can discuss the status of our relationship when you can actually walk again."

"There is no relationship!" John said. "You just got the totally wrong idea, I don't even know how -- "

Rodney sighed in a long-suffering way. "I'm sorry I hurt your ego, okay? I told you, it had nothing to do with not wanting you, and obviously I'm going to be panicking over you anyway, so we might as well have amazing sex in the off hours -- "

"We are not having sex ever!"

"Little late for that," Rodney said, and smirked.

"That didn't count, I didn't even -- " John said, the sentence getting halfway out of his mouth before he realized just how incredibly stupid it sounded.

"Oh, is that what's bugging you?" Rodney said. "You can reciprocate just as much as you want when you're more than five days from almost dying, okay? I promise I'm not drawing any conclusions about your, um, talents, which I'm sure are legion -- "

John groaned weakly and closed his eyes. Clearly it was going to take a lot more energy than he had right now to break through the solid wall of Rodney's skull. He wasn't even going to try to tell Rodney he was straight; he could do without ten minutes of solid laughter in his face. A close encounter with a nuclear bomb, a couple of drinks, the wrong guy, and all of a sudden he had problems they really should have spent more time on in sex ed.

"Oh, hey," Rodney said, interrupting himself. "I should probably tell you -- "

"What?" John said warily, lifting his head.

"Well -- don't panic here -- Ford saw us."

"Saw us?" John said incredulously. "Saw you, you mean! Oh god, this is just what I need."

"I'm pretty sure he's keeping his mouth shut, but, well, you know what they say about secrets, and three people," Rodney said. "So, I, uh, told Elizabeth."

"Jesus fucking Christ, you did not!" John said, grabbing feebly at Rodney's collar. "I'm going to kill you!"

"Hey, calm down!" Rodney said, easily detaching John's hand. He laid it back down on the bed gently, patting it. "She's fine with it -- okay, okay!" as John tried to grab at him again. "I'll just read you some more of the nice book, how about that?"

"No! I don't want you reading to me! I don't want you anywhere near me! Leave me the fuck alone!" John yelled, and let his head drop back, gasping.

At least it seemed to have gotten the goddamn point across, because Rodney finally put down the book and crept out of the room, thank god. John closed his eyes and took shallow breaths until his heartrate slowed down again.

Then he opened them and stared at the ceiling, which was pretty much the only thing he was going to be seeing for the next week, or so Beckett had said. He tried to sleep, but his eyes wouldn't stay shut. Then he fumbled for the book and tried to hold it up over his head. His arms were weak as spaghetti, and after about ten minutes and less than half a sentence they gave out. The five-pound volume landed on his chest, which hurt in completely new places, and then he got so pissed-off he flung it halfway across the room and made something familiar in his gut hurt a whole fucking lot all over again.

Fifteen minutes later he was trying to will the book to come flying back using the Force, or at least some as-yet-unsuspected Ancient device, with no luck. It had landed flopped open, pages down, so it was even getting crumpled.

He tried working his leg muscles, but it turned out he couldn't move them without twinging something excruciatingly painful somewhere. Then he tried doing math puzzles in his head, except he knew the answers to all of the easy ones already, and he couldn't focus well enough to do the hard ones. Counting himself to sleep didn't work either.

He reached for the glass of gatorade at the bedside not because he was thirsty but just to do something, anything, to break up the monotony. Then his hand trembled so much he spilled some of it over his chin and neck and pillow, where it got instantly cold and sticky. He was still fighting off the tears of frustration standing in his eyes when the door opened again.

Rodney took the glass out of his hand and wiped him up, and changed the pillow under him with a hand supporting John's head the whole time. He rearranged the tangled covers and picked up the book, smoothing out the creased pages, and then he sat down and said only, "Want me to start where you'd left off before the infirmary?"

"Yes," John said, angry and annoyed and pathetically grateful.

As long as he wasn't actively getting his face sucked, he could deal, he figured; except after a couple days where Rodney basically camped out in his room, reading to him, adjusting his pillows, even helping him to the goddamn bathroom and back, John started feeling weirdly guilty about it. Not about getting the help: he'd saved Rodney from getting eaten by a damn bear, Rodney could fetch and carry for him for a couple of weeks. But Rodney went too far above and beyond, going hoarse reading him to sleep three times a day, running around the base begging dvds off people so John could listen to the commentary tracks even if he couldn't sit up to watch, and then the third morning he woke up to find Rodney had mounted six laptops together on the ceiling and somehow rigged them into being a single display, so he could watch movies lying down.

John stared up and said, "Oh, cool," before he was completely awake, and then he saw Rodney at the side of the bed, smug and gleeful, bouncing like he'd just won a freaking prize, and John lost his temper. "Goddamnit, we are not dating!" John said angrily. "Will you stop acting like I'm your girlfriend in a coma?"

But Rodney just shifted gears from smug to eye-rolling without missing a beat. "Yes, fine, we're not dating. You're my friend, you idiot, I'd do this for you even if I wasn't in love with you. Now shut up and pick a movie," and John felt his anger sag and collapse like a deflating balloon; what the hell was he supposed to say to that?

"Night of the Living Dead?" he said.

"Zombies are always good," Rodney said, enthusiastically, cued up the movie, and climbed onto the bed to stretch out next to him. It wasn't his fault, John thought despairingly. He was still sick, he couldn't come up with the right things to say. He'd explain everything in a couple more days, when he was better.

At least Rodney wasn't trying to give him any more blowjobs. He'd been a little nervous.

A few days later, he was on his feet again for more than fifteen minutes at a time, and he really couldn't put the conversation off any longer. Then Beckett decided, after a lot of begging, that John was ready to try some solid food. John decided on his own that he was ready for more than his prescribed two bites of toast. His body disagreed with both of them, vehemently.

He spent a day struggling not to curl up into a ball, fighting off tears with every fresh wave of pain, his hot, itching eyes gratefully shut away from the light under the cool weight of Rodney's hand. The next day wasn't quite as bad, but he still ached all over, and now he was starving too, because they'd taken out the IV and right now he couldn't even handle a liquid diet.

He was tired and sore and pissed-off, at Beckett and at himself and at Rodney, too, mostly because Rodney was the only target in reach, and he alternated between biting Rodney's head off and whining at him. John didn't have to feel guilty about the snapping, because Rodney snapped right back and never looked even the least bit hurt, but whenever he whined, Rodney caved so fast and anxiously that John couldn't do it half as often as he really wanted to.

Rodney was looking kind of tired and pissed-off himself; he was hoarse from yelling at the nurses and he'd been getting all his work done during the hours when John was asleep. There were a lot of those, but it still didn't leave him much time for sleep of his own. John woke up from a nap groggy and miserable, muttering, "Rodney?" and looked around almost resentfully at the lack of answer. Rodney was lying sprawled over the laptop on his desk, face imprinting on the keyboard and his mouth open, bruised circles under his eyelashes.

John felt sick at himself for a minute, then irrationally angry, and he grabbed one of the spare pillows and threw it at Rodney. "Wha?" Rodney said, starting up, blinking. "Are you okay? What do you need?"

"Just go get some fucking sleep!" John said. "You don't owe me this -- "

Rodney groaned and put his head down. "Oh, not this again," he said, and walked out of John's quarters. He came back with a fresh bucket of ice chips. "Do you need to go to the bathroom?"

"No, I fucking don't, and you don't need to help me if I do -- " John said.

"Great, you're in one of your pissy moods again," Rodney said, yawning as he pushed the blankets back and pulled John's legs over the side. "It really isn't a good look for you, you know."

"You're more stubborn than any ten fucking million other people ever," John said, putting an arm over Rodney's shoulders so Rodney could lever him up, pretending to himself he wasn't copping out again.

The ten steps to the bathroom and back wrung him out, and Rodney had to practically lift him back into the bed. John opened his mouth for a couple of ice chips and closed his eyes for a cold compress, and couldn't help a small, gasping sigh. Rodney went to the bathroom again and came back with a warm washcloth and started wiping him down.

It felt so good to get the sweat off, he didn't care where Rodney's hands were going, even when the washcloth slid between his legs. Except that wasn't true, because what he actually did was let his legs spread; he was just so fucking tired of hurting, and when Rodney leaned forward he didn't stop him, and when Rodney's mouth closed carefully and gently over his dick he only gave a little hitching breath and clutched at the bedsheets and didn't say a single goddamn fucking thing.

He'd been drunk the first time, and too busy being shocked to pay attention, beyond the facts of what the hell and oh my god he isn't and oh my god he is and wow blowjob, and the second time he'd been so drugged and in pain he'd barely understood what was happening. This time he felt all of it: the wicked swirl of Rodney's tongue over the head of his dick, the vibration of Rodney's low, satisfied, "Mmm," around him, the sweet pressure of Rodney's thumb rubbing just behind his balls.

Rodney sucked hard and soft in turns, coaxed him all the way up and then let him soften up again, blew cool air down the shaft and then took him all the way in again: really all the way in, sliding John deep into his throat and keeping him there, like some fucking porn star, and John said, "Oh, god, yes," and touched Rodney's head before he could stop himself, soft feathery hair under his fingers, and there went whatever plausible deniability he'd had, along with all the rest of him.

He shut his eyes and pretended he'd fallen asleep again, and Rodney covered him up and dimmed the lights and crept quietly back to the desk. Rodney's breathing evened out into snores. John opened his eyes again and stared up at the six laptop screens dark on the ceiling, and Rodney was in love with him and he'd just used Rodney for sex, and he thought with sudden unwanted clarity, he's going to hate me for this. And maybe because he wasn't ready for the way that made him feel, maybe because he wasn't expecting it, that was the thing that finally got away from him and left his face wet.

He was a lot better in the morning, and the soup and juice and even a little bit of toast all stayed down, though this time Beckett didn't leave the room until John had finished eating, and then he took the carefully limited tray away himself. "Are you okay for a while?" Rodney asked, after he'd gone. "I'm about a week overdue on lab inspections, and if I don't check on some of these new idiots regularly, they'll blow us all up."

John opened his mouth to tell him, to start explaining, and instead heard himself saying, "Yeah, I'm good," and letting Rodney kiss him goodbye.

The awful fatigue of the last two days was gone, and he was supposed to get up and walk, but that wasn't why he got out of bed: he just had to be moving. Because he had to do this, there was no fucking excuse, there hadn't been yesterday, or the day before, or the goddamn week before, and god, he didn't want to think about what this was going to do.

"I'm straight," he told the mirror, practicing, resolutely not thinking. "I'm not in love with you. I don't want you. I was drunk -- I was -- " and he couldn't help it, he imagined Rodney laughing it off at first, not believing him, and then he imagined Rodney finally getting it: the look on his face, the way Rodney would say something meaningless and get out as fast as he possibly could, the silence in the room afterwards; and John got a horrible tight panicky clenched feeling in his gut that had nothing to do with the seven-inch-long scar.

He still couldn't sit comfortably, and he couldn't concentrate on the book: he heard the words in Rodney's voice now; and he couldn't lie down and watch the fucking screen. So he caught up on his email standing at the desk: a couple of orders from Everett at the top of the stack, then a lot of get-well wishes, and summaries from Ford and the new Lieutenant Parsons about what they'd been doing to cover for him. He tapped out a few messages, ones he didn't have to think a lot about.

The door slid open behind his back, long before he was ready, and he froze up; he didn't want to meet Rodney's eyes, and only realized when he forced himself to turn around that it was Elizabeth instead. "Oh, uh, hi," he said, going red; she'd come by to visit while he'd been in the infirmary, but he hadn't seen her since Rodney's confession. John rubbed the back of his neck, awkwardly. "Elizabeth, I need to explain something," he said, but he got stuck there, and if he couldn't figure out how to tell her --

"John -- " Elizabeth said, coming closer, reaching out a hand towards him. "John -- "

And he looked at her face for the first time, and, in a voice he didn't even recognize was his, he said, "Rodney?"

"There's been an accident," Elizabeth said.

Dr. Poole was standing in the infirmary making loud excuses and blaming Rodney for the whole thing, completely fine except for a couple of black smudges on his face, at least until John slammed him into the wall and tried to strangle the life out of him.

"John, stop it, this isn't helping -- " Elizabeth was trying to pull on his arm, but it took a couple of orderlies and her saying, "John, if you keep this up, it's going to interrupt the trauma team!" to get him to let go, and then he staggered away and leaned against the wall, gasping, with his hand over his belly.

Poole had disappeared by the time he had his breath back, and Elizabeth rubbed his shoulders and said quietly, "It's going to be okay, John; he's going to make it," in the comforting way that didn't actually mean anything, and John said numbly, "I'm an idiot, I never even," touched him, he wanted to say, kissed him, told him, but then he couldn't have, because he hadn't even known himself.

"Well, it was my fault," Rodney said, eating his third red jello. His hair was still standing on end, and his hands were so wrapped up he looked like he was wearing mittens; he had the spoon tucked in between his thumb and palm. "If I'd only given it another, oh, six hours before I came and ran the diagnostics, it would have built up another ten thousand volts and killed him. I can't believe I wasted an opportunity like that."

"You want some more?" John asked. He'd already stolen two extra trays from the infirmary galley; he figured he could get away with a couple more before they caught him.

"Maybe a little later, thanks." Rodney dropped the spoon down on the tray and lay back and sighed. "Talk about crappy timing. I mean, you're finally better, and now I'm down for the count. How soon do you think we can get them to spring me? Because you know, if I'm going to be lying in bed for another week, I'd be just as happy doing it someplace with a little more privacy." He gave John a hopefully lascivious look.

John swallowed. "We shouldn't rush it," he said. "Not until Beckett says it's safe."

"All right then," Beckett said, coming in. "Ready to get out of my infirmary?"

Rodney beamed at John. "Oh, yeah."

John fumbled around Rodney's apartment after the nurses left, straightening things up, folding clothes and putting them away. Rodney, lying in bed, didn't interrupt him or ask for anything, just said, "Sorry it's such a mess," and after a while he looked at the clock in a way John recognized: counting down to the next round of painkillers.

John put down the crumpled t-shirt he was holding, which really just needed to go in the laundry anyway, and went over to the bed and pulled back the covers. Rodney said, "Oh, hey, you don't have to," unconvincingly, though his dick was already starting to poke up from his boxers.

"Shut up," John said, sliding the boxers down, doing his best not to think about what he was doing as he pulled up the desk chair and bent down. No real taste, just heat and incredibly tender skin, in soft crinkly folds that started to smooth out under his tongue.

"Shutting up," Rodney said. "Oh, god, yeah, that's great; oh yeah, right there, that's -- that's -- oh wow -- " and he just kept going, breathless and encouraging, and his dick was getting bigger and harder in John's mouth, until he couldn't hold all of it. He had to let it slip out and gulp for air, and then he just stared at it a minute: thick and stiff and shiny against Rodney's belly.

He wrapped a hand around the base and squeezed, which got him a whole bunch more enthusiastic noises out of Rodney, and then he experimented with licking, and sucking on the head, and rubbing his hand up and down, and using his other hand on Rodney's balls, and he even got into it a little, mostly because Rodney sounded so incredibly thrilled, and when Rodney said, "Oh, god, John, John, I'm -- oh -- oh -- " and came in his mouth, his dick jumped in his pants. Then he noticed the taste, and forgot he was trying to fake knowing what he was doing and dashed for the bathroom to spit and rinse and use Rodney's toothbrush.

When John came embarrassedly back out, Rodney was lying back with his eyes closed and a blissed-out grin on his face. "Wow," he said, opening his eyes and looking up at John dreamily.

"Yeah?" John said, torn between pleased and freaked out.

"Oh wow yeah," Rodney said, and yawned hugely. "And uh, I'm just going to -- " and he didn't even finish the sentence, just trailed off into mumbles and more yawns, and conked out.

So John figured that had gone pretty well for his first blowjob, and he hadn't really minded at all. Sometime in the week after that, lying naked between Rodney's legs and jerking his own rock-hard dick frantically as he sucked, he admitted that okay, maybe it was a little stronger than not minding. And then the next day Rodney felt well enough to get on his side and suggested sixty-nining, and John learned to swallow quick instead of running for the bathroom, because he wasn't taking his dick out of Rodney's mouth a second before he had to.

He had a grace period before anything more, because as soon as Rodney was up and about, he was instantly swamped with work. After the accident, Zelenka had locked out all the Daedalus scientists Rodney had been the least bit doubtful about, with John's full and savage backing. They hadn't really dared to push back while Rodney was still out, but now they were starting to demand access again, and Elizabeth did want them put to some kind of productive use.

"We could send them to the mainland to help bring in the crops," Rodney said snidely over dinner, after yet another day of yelling and screaming. "That would be productive. I swear this is somebody back home taking revenge on me. It's like having half a dozen clones of Kavanagh's personality, without the redeeming useful qualities. At least that moron Poole went back with the Daedalus."

John shrugged and stole a forkful of mashed potatoes off Rodney's tray. He didn't feel the need to mention the private conversation he'd had with the unlamented Dr. Poole shortly before his departure. "It's not like our people," he said. "They knew they could get back when they came."

"Anyway," Rodney yawned and nudged John's knee with his own under the table. "I've gotten them all shunted into spots where they can't do too much damage now. So if you're not busy tomorrow night..." He wagged his eyebrows meaningfully.

"I'll see if I can clear my schedule," John said, after a brief and panicky mental review didn't turn up anything that could work as an excuse. He almost chickened out in the end anyway, standing in the hallway staring at Rodney's door without knocking, but then it opened and Rodney hauled him inside eagerly by his shirtfront.

Rodney's thumbs started doing something damn nice to the base of his neck, and his mouth was warm and so eager that it was a lot easier to relax into kissing him than John had expected, even before Rodney nudged closer and pushed their hips together, and all sorts of really great things started happening to his dick. Rodney kissed up along his jaw to his ear, and stroked his thigh, and then he asked hopefully, "Bottom?"

"Top!" John said firmly; not freaking out, because this was fine, he was okay with the idea, it was just another kind of sex --

"Oh, well," Rodney said, sounding faintly disappointed. "Trading off works too. Want to flip for this time?"

John gulped. "Okay."

He'd flipped a coin to decide on coming here in the first place, John remembered belatedly. "Been a while?" Rodney said, knowingly, as John lay stiffly down on his back.

"Um," John said. "You could say that."

Rodney nodded. "Roll over, let's do this the easy way."

Easy sounded good, except this way he couldn't see what Rodney was doing. That stopped being all that important about thirty seconds later, when Rodney nudged his thighs apart and licked him, and then licked him again, and somewhere along the way fingers got involved, and by the time Rodney crawled on top of him and pushed inside, John was shuddering, twisting, grinding into the bed.

The actual fucking didn't do that much for him. Rodney had slathered on lubricant and it didn't hurt, but it felt weird enough John couldn't really see the appeal, aside from the way Rodney was going "Oh, oh, yes, oh," in a progressively squeakier voice. That part did have plenty of appeal, though, especially when he thought about trading places, and Rodney's hand on his dick was also really nice, and the way Rodney was tucked up snugly against his back, nuzzling at his neck and shoulders with low eager sounds.

Then Rodney said, "Okay, okay, that, wait, yes -- " and tipped them forward so John was mashed up into the pillows and the headboard, and then Rodney thrust the rest of the way in, and John started to get the idea, which seemed to be that every bone in his body was going to dissolve and his head was going to explode and he was going to make a whole lot of embarrassing loud grunting noises into the pillow.

Rodney made a low almost sobbing moan and did it again, and again, and John found himself panting, "Come on, harder, for Christ's sake," shamelessly, and scrabbling against the headboard, trying to brace himself better. "Just, fuck me already, is, is that the best you can, oh, god," because apparently that was exactly the kind of encouragement Rodney needed and now he was getting pounded and it was -- it was --

Sometime later, Rodney rolled off him and flopped back onto the pillows. "So," he said yawning, "you meant top as in from the bottom?"

John was sure he'd have had a brilliant comeback for that one, if he hadn't just been fucked into a boneless puddle and completely unable to move even his vocal cords. He felt like his hair was still quivering. His shoulders and arms were burning with fatigue. He was sore and sweaty and wiped out. He wanted to do it again right now.

Though without urgency, because, in a kind of dawning wonder, he realized he was going to get to do this whenever the hell he wanted, and to watch every geeky movie ever made, and to be grouchy when he felt like it, and to talk about math without getting weird looks. And tomorrow he'd make Rodney start working out with him, because the way Rodney ate and panicked all the time, he had to be a candidate for an early heart attack, and as crazy as it was, John thought maybe he was in this for the long haul.

He opened his eyes and found Rodney just looking at him, eyes soft in a way that made him feel warmed deep down through. On impulse, John crept over, inchworm-style, and draped himself over Rodney, pillowing his head on Rodney's shoulder. He'd always thought he wasn't the cuddling type, but apparently he'd been wrong about a lot of things.

Rodney put his arms around him, and John snuggled down. The lights dimmed the rest of the way and went out. "You know what's funny," Rodney said in the dark, drowsily, "I didn't even have a clue you wanted me."

John yawned. "That's not what's funny."

= end =

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