Title: Close Encounters
Length: Approx 4500 words.
Notes: Well this was... wish fulfillment for me, it's crack like, but not fully crack. Thanks to seperis
for the beta and the bitchslaps. Also thanks to fairestcat
who went over it and found the four apparently *glaring* errors that were hoarding other people's enjoyment for themselves.
Archive: My LJ, my site, Area52 and wraithbait
Summary: "It's just a goddamned crush!"
Rodney's gasp of air is loud in his ear, deep and sharp as his chest hitches roughly against John's. They're pressed together from shoulder to hip between two pieces of architecture. The cobblestone wall is digging into John's back, and Rodney won't stop squirming, pushing one jagged edge further between his shoulder blades.
"Rodney," John whispers harshly, pushing his hands down onto Rodney's shoulders, his elbows and forearms digging into the other man's chest. "Stop fidgeting." He forces his knee into Rodney's thigh in an effort to pin him. Except Rodney's legs spread to adjust his stance and John finds himself pressed more intimately against Rodney than he'd ever quite considered. It reminds him of Tina Groober from 12th grade; even in his fantasies, he'd never quite made it to home plate with her, so when he was in the backseat of his father's car nervously rolling on a condom, the entire thing seemed surreal. Except that Tina -- unless the rumors were incredibly wrong and a vast conspiracy, the likes of which even the Nixon White House had never seen, had been organized in his own high school -- didn't have a dick. Considering the poorly kept secret affair between the Algebra and History teachers, John highly doubts it.
Rodney meanwhile, continues to breath harshly, head turned away into the dark recesses of their poorly hidden cover.
The moment, the tableau feels oddly familiar, like he's seen this play out a million times, he's just never been on this side of things before. "I think they're almost gone." John whispers, going for the 'erection, what erection?' strategy. One he often wishes women would use on him.
Rodney nods his head jerkily, still looking off into the dirty corner to their right. "That's--" his voice is deep and rough and cracks just a bit right at the end of the word. He swallows harshly. "Good. That's good." The words come out a little clearer but husky all the same.
They wait in oppressive silence, and John has never wanted to talk about the weather more in his life. However, being stuck weaponless in what amounts to Victorian England with the Gestapo on their asses, means he's got to concentrate on other things, and not focus on the utterly strange feeling of McKay pressed into his inner thigh, hot and hard and foreign.
So he's trapped for the moment, breathing hard, adrenaline pumping through him. John's eyes finally adjust to the darkness and when he looks at McKay, he can see a low flush high on his cheeks. "Can you run?" he blurts out before he can stop himself.
Rodney's head snaps back, eyes dilated , to stare at John in shock. "What?"
"Well," John makes the mistake of trying to gesture, succeeding in only wedging them together further. Rodney sucks in a sharp breath, eyes closing abruptly. John watches his throat swallow rapidly before continuing. "I think it's sort of self explanatory now."
"It's just a goddamned crush," Rodney whispers, more to himself than to John. "It's stupid and expected and really I should know better, two more weeks and this wouldn't have been a problem."
"A crush?" John asks, a little confused; it seems so utterly mundane considering that they're wedged like sardines inside a small wall crevice and that he's seriously contemplating if the brick to the right of Rodney's head is loose enough to be pried away just so he'd have *some* sort of weapon.
Rodney opens his eyes again, this time looking just a bit annoyed over his layer of humiliation. "Don't let it get to your head Colonel. It's basic chemistry. Our relationship is full of adrenaline and trust and all that other crap that makes the body stand up and take notice."
He can't help the eye drift down then up. Though John feels really bad about the look that it puts on Rodney's face. "So, that running thing we were talking about earlier?"
"One gunshot," Rodney mutters, "there won't be a problem."
John nods. Okay then, the plan, which is running like hell as soon as it's clear has not been prematurely shot down. Back to contemplating the hard-on pushing into his thigh; he can feel Rodney's legs tense around his, holding himself unnaturally still. John has one completely insane moment where he wants to tell Rodney to just go for it, because he feels a little bad about it, always has when someone he's never had a single romantic thought about falls at his feet. There's also something warm and twisting in his stomach, the fluttering making him a little nauseated; then again, he's never really been in this position, not with as close a friend as Rodney.
Rodney's looking grim, the line of his mouth flat and thin.
"Hey," John says, keeping his voice soft. "It's cool. Really." He shrugs shallowly, keeping himself as still as possible. "I just never see this coming."
"Seriously?" Rodney looks at him like he's just rewritten some obscure law of physics, half in awe and half in disbelief. "Have you looked in a mirror lately?"
John feels a hot blush crawl across his face. "Ah, thank you?"
"Oh god." Rodney's head drops to John's shoulder. "Yes, I'm utterly shallow, I think by now we've established this."
Heat blazes off Rodney's neck as it brushes against John's, making the little hairs on the back stand on end. "So, a crush?"
Rodney's head snaps up. "We're not talking about this. Ever."
That's fine with John, it's just about time to run anyway.
About a month later, it's a low lying bench in the back of a barn like structure, thankfully unused. The smell of manure has always turned John's stomach.
Rodney squirms in first, laying on his side, back pressing tightly against the far wall. John scuttles in after him, and they have a scant few seconds to get hidden before they have to freeze. They're plastered tightly against each other, front to front, John bracing a hand on the floor near Rodney's shoulder and the underside of the bench in an effort to keep himself as concealed as possible, muscles holding tight.
Breathing as silently as possible, he listens as the footsteps get louder, the harsh voices echoing around them. John can feel the tremors in his frame the longer he holds and soon he'll have no choice but to move. As the sharp pain runs along his shoulders for the second time, he carefully rests some of his weight on Rodney. Eventually, the voices fade away, and John relaxes his hold, slumping further into Rodney without intending to.
The sharp gasp of breath reaches his ears just as Rodney's tense frame registers under his. Heat coalesces hotly at his hip, and John can feel the blush spread across his own face in record time.
Rodney's hips do an involuntary stuttering movement, hard heat pressing into John before retreating as completely as possible. Reflexively John rolls away as well until he realizes his arm is now out in the open, he returns to his previous position, careful to leave some space between them.
They stare at each other in the dim light until Rodney closes his eyes. Turning his head is not an option, but he scrunches up into himself as much as possible.
"Crush hanging on there?" John asks to lighten the mood, trying to be sympathetic; he remembers just wanting to get over something and his brain not cooperating.
"I thought we weren't talking about this," Rodney says tightly.
"Sorry," John says, mostly contrite, "but you said two weeks and a guy can't help but feel a bit flattered."
"This is hardly a precise science," Rodney snaps, but the usual bite is gone; he just looks weary. "Don't worry, the pitchforks alone will give me incentive to run."
John watches Rodney's eyes slit open, pupils wide and dark and warm looking; he can feel the line of tension under where his hand lies on Rodney's arm, an entire body holding itself back, curling in on itself, holding up in possibly the most awkward position possible. "Relax," John says quietly, "really, flattering."
"There's flattering," Rodney mutters, "and then there's humping your best friend's leg when he's trying to help you not die."
Again, the urge to just push in a few inches, roll forward and jut his leg out a bit; it wouldn't take much to give Rodney what he needs. He's done that group porn thing once or twice, and living on a military base meant that even if you weren't into it, you usually found it once or twice. How different could this be? But Rodney is looking intensely uncomfortable, and they'll have difficulty looking each other in the eye after this incident as it is, and John knows he's been called a tease behind his back ever since the braces were taken out and the acne cleared up. Following his completely unfounded impulse would only strengthen the argument.
"Is there anything I can..." John trails off, not really sure what he's asking.
"That not talking about it thing was really working well for me," Rodney sighs. "Not to ruin my already established habits and life preserving tendencies, but is it time to run yet?"
John listens carefully and shakes his head. "Not yet, it's almost dark, better cover."
"Right," Rodney says tightly, "not too long a wait then."
"Relax," John squeezes the arm tucked under his fingers. Rodney looks at him like he's insane, but some part of him gives and his stomach starts to feel itchy as Rodney's erection slides a few inches to the left when he bends his leg to rest comfortably on John's. "Right," he swallows, "like that."
"You don't look very flattered." Rodney snaps.
"Yeah, well, I've never been this close and personal to another man's--"
"Oh god," Rodney says in horror. "You're kidding me, oh this just completes the abject humiliation!"
Automatically John raises a hand to cover Rodney's mouth, attempting to remind him that they need to *not* be found for a little while. Rodney freezes, mouth open, tongue just touching the center of John's palm. A small choked noise is muffled into John's hand, and Rodney wrenches away nearly knocking violently into the one of the bench's legs. John's hand tingles from the quick flick of tongue and he finds himself cradling the back of Rodney's head, saving him from a concussion and John from listening to the lingering worries about one over the next several hours.
Rodney feels pliant and inviting and warm, and suddenly, he's breathing hard and thinks it would be very easy to brush their lips together. He shifts slightly, the urge to release Rodney's head suddenly overwhelming, the unexpected and unusual nature of the thought startling him badly.
The movement pushes their legs together.
"Stop," Rodney says, head dropping down, "just stop."
"Go ahead," John says, staring at Rodney's neck, the flush that darkened before his eyes. He's not sure why he offers, it's not pity, other than the most basic of pity for a man stuck with an ill timed hormonal surge. He remembers that small surge of electricity and he feels reckless.
Rodney stiffens against to him. "Excuse me?"
"Well," John reasons, "we're stuck here for a little while, which can't possibly be comfortable for you." He swallows hard, not really thinking about what he's saying, because if he does, he might just scream and run or something. "And maybe," he waffles, "maybe it'll help with the," he shrugs helplessly, "you know, thing."
Rodney's mouth opens and closes a few times, blue eyes blinking rapidly up at John in utter disbelief. "And you thought this would make me *less* uncomfortable?"
The man does have a point.
John lets it go for a few minutes, hyperaware of the other body pressing into him. Warm, soft heat flush against the front of his body and despite the *one* really obvious difference, it's unnervingly the same in all the ways it counts. The beginnings of an evening breeze brush his back, making the temperature difference that much more apparent.
The urge to snuggle hits him full force in the back of the head, and he bites back a gasp.
"Sorry," Rodney mutters, not looking at him.
John taps his fingers a few times, hopefully indicating it wasn't a big deal, but he's too caught up in being freaked out to really formulate sentences that won't dig them both into deeper holes.
Jesus, snuggling, he hates doing that with *women*. It's got deeply symbolic meanings and stuff that get translated into relationship conversations John never ever wants to have.
Next to him Rodney breathes deeply, pushing further into him for a brief second. It's good in ways John is afraid to think about, fear, stark and violent, trickles down his spine.
Fuck it, it's dark enough.
Five weeks later, they're stuck in a small, dark, very cold room. They rest, lying on the cold hard floor because there's nothing else *to* do, and sitting against the wall just makes his ass numb. Also John has no idea when their chance will come, and he'd like to not be hallucinating from exhaustion when it happens. From three feet away, John can hear Rodney's teeth chattering in the darkness. Neither of them will do anything but waste energy like this.
"Rodney," he says, already moving over, "it's too cold too--"
"I'd already figured that out," Rodney snaps.
"Right, what are you waiting for, an engraved invitation?" John throws back, too cold to really put his heart into the argument.
They shuffle together, and John finds his arms wrapping snugly around Rodney's torso and pulling tight, already feeling the small shivers before they even touch. Rodney is slow in turning, but eventually hands like icicles slide up John's back 'and warm puffs of wet air drift near John's cheek, telling him that Rodney is making himself comfortable. "This way," John indicates, inching Rodney into a wall, hoping to create a warm pocket for themselves. Their jackets zip together snugly, helping conserve even more warmth. Their arms rest easily around each other, moving distractedly, hoping to incite circulation. John is suddenly struck by such a huge sense of the familiar that it distracts from realizing that Rodney is tense next to him and utterly silent.
"What?" John asks, shifting his hands between them, moving so that his elbow isn't pressed against the floor. He shifts his legs so that the parts of them not benefiting from the innovative warmth of their -- oh. "Oh." This is starting to be a habit, the universe is run by a cruel, cruel being.
Rodney doesn't say a word, just managing to find the extra few millimeters of space in their cocoon of warm, moist air to separate them.
"Um," John says blinking rapidly, his stomach queasy. Rodney is the best source of warmth in the room and the biting chill is already seeping into his bones. One of them is going to have to say something before extremities start to frost over. Slowly, John pulls one of his arms back, not that it has far to go, and presses his open palm to Rodney's chest. He can feel a rapid heartbeat under his hand and a sharp breath near his ear. "This is some crush," John says tentatively.
"Don't think I don't know that," Rodney says between clenched teeth, "and what the hell are you doing?"
"We need to be warm and we need sleep." John answers in what he hopes is a reasonable voice. He moves his hand in a slow circle, "You're my friend and friends help out in times of need."
"Stop." Rodney's voice is stony. "The problem's gone now."
"We're not talking about this." Rodney says again before pushing John flat to the ground, appropriating John's shoulder and going still.
Sleep it is.
Three weeks later John jumps in front of a bullet aimed at Rodney's chest.
He wakes in the infirmary. It's dark and his head is cottony. The whole world feels like it's been glossed in Vaseline, with the lights extra fuzzy and the cup on the nearby table looking like something out of an impressionist painting.
It takes time for him to be interested in his surroundings, with the current concoction of drugs in his system. Watching his toes move under the blankets is pretty darned entertaining.
Eventually though, his neck wants a stretch, and he slowly moves it from side to side. To the left is a long row of empty beds and the duty nurse bent low over a desk doing paperwork.
To his right...
To his right is Rodney, curled up in a chair, back painfully bent forward, arms crossed over his chest and brow furrowed deeply, even in sleep.
"Rodney," John rasps, reaching a hand out, "go lay down."
Rodney jumps, nearly toppling his chair over, his arms and legs do a good bit of flailing as well before he settles back down and glares at John. "There are enough of this team in the infirmary already, don't you think?"
"Looked painful," John says, making a lazy gesture at the chair with his finger.
Rubbing his back, Rodney arches, long enough for a loud popping sound to emerge. "Looks aren't deceiving in this case," he grimaces.
"Why're you here?" John asks, blinking slowly.
Rodney's face transforms from minorly annoyed and half awake to completely angry and very pained. "To tell you never to do that again."
John blinks some more. "Why?"
"Because--" Rodney slumps suddenly and dramatically, "Because," he says before abruptly standing up and walking out.
"Huh," John says before closing his eyes and letting sleep pull him back in.
Later, when John's more awake and Beckett is changing his bandages, it occurs to John that 'crush' is probably the wrong word for it. Probably has been for weeks, possibly months, maybe even since just after the first incident.
Rodney visits him a few more times -- once while he's still in Beckett's illustrious bed and breakfast and two or three more while he's confined to quarters unable to really contemplate more than going to and from the bathroom -- each time bearing gifts and long blustery diatribes about the comings and goings of Atlantis and the level of stupidity each one rated.
Each time John thinks really hard about bringing it up, but Rodney does something so normal and Rodney-like that the thought slips away into the air.
He falls asleep in the middle of Troy. They're watching it because Rodney said sometimes science fiction loses it's shine when your everyday life trumps most of the plots. It's a good movie, but John is still tiring easily and he possibly walked more than Beckett had suggested that afternoon.
John wakes to quiet music, the volume on the laptop obviously turned down at some point. Rodney is asleep on the chair next to him, head tilting back, mouth half open. He looks tired even in sleep, and John suddenly wonders how much sleep Rodney has actually been getting.
His head begins to slowly slide forward, and John can see it quickly approaching the point where it'll snap down and wake Rodney abruptly. He reaches out, fingers creeping over the damp skin on Rodney's neck, thumb accidentally brushing along the stubble line on his jaw. "Rodney," he calls softly.
"Wha?" His eyelids flutters softly, and he leans into John's touch for a brief moment before the fog clears and he shakes his head roughly, dislodging John's hand.
It's an instantaneous understanding, that Rodney is Rodney and that whatever this is he has for John is part of him, and he's bound and determined not to let it change them. So John lets go and settles back into bed. "Looks like we were both tired."
"Yeah," Rodney stretches, back arching and popping loudly, neck titling left and right before he absently closes the laptop. When he's done, he stands up, looking anywhere but at John. "I've got things to do, so you can go back to being the convalescent and I'll go back to being useful."
When he's alone, John buries himself under the covers and thinks very hard.
Five weeks later Rodney pushes John into a wall, knocking his chin into a jagged edge, the sharp edge of pain blurring his vision.
When it finally clears, Rodney is pinned to the ground. A long, thin stalactite is sticking up from his torso, a slowly expanding pool of blood coming from underneath him.
John kneels in the blood, presses his hands to Rodney's chest and neck, counting heart beats, feeling his lungs move air. He yells for a stretcher, hands framing Rodney's face.
"Colonel?" Rodney coughs, but not wetly, no blood or foam coming from his lips. John is horribly relieved.
"I'm here Rodney," John says, "and when you're better, I'm going to kill you."
"...you're welcome?" Rodney says, hands feeling for the wound.
John grabs them in his own, holding them tightly. "Don't touch that, it's the only thing keeping the blood in."
"Not doing a very good job."
He looks at his knees and his hands and Rodney's shirt and jacket and agrees. "No, no it's not." Where's the damn stretcher? Rodney clutches at John, fingers spasmodically opening and closing; obligingly, John shifts them so that their fingers twine. He frees one hand, his left going back to Rodney's neck to monitor his pulse. "You idiot," he chokes.
"You insult me while I'm bleeding to death? It's time I reexamine this relationship." Rodney mutters.
"Yeah," John agrees. "Maybe." Of course, he has no idea what he's saying, he just knows that Rodney is bleeding all over him and John has this hard knot in his chest and strange impulses to lean in and-- "Get better," John demands, brushing his lips over Rodney's forehead, "because this freak-out I feel coming? Will work better with two people."
Freak-out is really a very descriptive word for hiding in his room, throwing up once, and then running around Atlantis until his legs feel like rubber.
Ronon runs with him. Teyla takes one look at him and drags him to the mess, watching him eat half a meal before letting him go.
He showers again and wonders if he can check in on Rodney without his stomach tying up in knots and his hands shaking. He tries, he really does, but he can't do it, he can't sit there and stare at Rodney's unconscious form and wait and wonder and think and visualize and imagine and torture himself.
So he doesn't.
Two weeks later. Two weeks of sleepless nights and vague dreams and very public visits, Rodney limps slowly into John's room.
"Should you be up?" John asks, already bringing a chair over for Rodney to sit in.
Rodney waves it away. "You know, I've never broken up with someone I'm not seeing before, but with you, I'm willing to make an exception."
"I--" John starts, but finds himself being poked in the chest before he can continue.
"That was cruel," Rodney says, "what you did, that was cruel and I thought better of you."
"No, you weren't," Rodney interrupts again, "and I'd kindly appreciate it if you don’t ever do that again."
"Rodney!" John snaps, gratified when the other man finally looks like he's stopping. "I wasn't," he doesn't have the words, he barely has the thought, but he knows that this is the moment he needs to express something, so he reaches out, fingertips against skin on Rodney's neck. "No cruelty intended."
Rodney makes a choked off sound in the back of his throat. "Oh god, I'm going to have to *train* you, assuming you don't just breakdown halfway through and--"
John's fingers find their way to Rodney's lips, halting their litany, mostly because he can't really listen to any more of it without it feeling all too real. He lets them rest there long enough for Rodney to get the hint before letting them slide around, the tingle of stubble rough against his palm, and then finally soft hair and the nape of a neck. One step forward has them touching, pressing against each other carefully. Mindful of Rodney's still healing injury, John carefully puts his lips to Rodney's.
Another deep noise, harsh and sharp from Rodney. John swallows it, tasting Rodney, slowly kissing him, lips gliding and catching and moving gently. It's devastatingly soft and sweet and Rodney's lips cling to his perfectly. It's the best kiss John has ever had.
Rodney's hands are like steel on John's arms, holding tightly, halfway between pushing him away and drawing him closer. They end the kiss softly. Rodney looks tired and flushed and weary and just a little bit elated.
It's the most natural thing in the world to gather Rodney up into his arms, to let his hands slide around his waist slowly, feeling deliberately what he had been ignoring before. Rodney rests his forehead on John's, shaking his head mutely.
"Not cruel," John says again, because it's the closest he can get to what he means.
"Yeah," Rodney says, "I'm getting that." He punctuates it with a yawn.
John leads Rodney to his bed, swallows heavily as Rodney settles in but he's so happy that Rodney is there, alive and breathing and crumpling his covers that the panic recedes almost instantly. They sleep, propped together on John's bed, Rodney on his back and John draped carefully over his healthy side.
The surprise comes when John realizes that nothing changes. They don't stare at each other across their pudding, well they do, but the googoo eyes have apparently always been there because no one's commenting or looking at them strangely. That alone is just a little disturbing.
They hang out and complain about each other, to each other, with each other. They watch movies and get into trouble and harass Elizabeth for permission to do stupid things like trying to fly a jumper under water.
Only now Rodney follows John into his room or vice versa and John gets to fly without leaving the ground. Rodney's hands make him instantly hard with a touch to his chest or waist, his lips are perfect and soft and make the best noises. They lie in bed pressing against each other, all soft sounds and gentle motions, and John gets the distinct feeling that Rodney is teaching him all sorts of things he won't appreciate until later. Later, when he finally gets over the shivery feeling of another man's cock pressed into his thigh, or his hands running over a flat chest. Or the distinctly masculine moans that Rodney makes when John finds that wonderfully sensitive spot on the side of his neck.
He still freaks out; just about every day there's a moment where he asks himself what he's doing; a moment when the thought of wrapping his hand around another guy's cock just makes him want to scream out loud and lock himself in his room.
Rodney takes it all in stride, rolling his eyes, pushing him around and then sinking to his knees in front of John. John finds Rodney's mouth was made for his cock, warm and wet and sweet, sweet suction that makes him lose brain cells. Then he sees it; Rodney looks up, uncertainty in his eyes as his cheeks puff and hollow, checking and looking for John's enjoyment.
They're both afraid and that's probably the most reassuring thing yet.