amific (amific) wrote,

Fic: Scenes from a Lesser War, SGA, NC-17, McKay/Sheppard 1/3

Title: Scenes from a Lesser War
Author: amireal
Rating: NC-17
Length: 20,500
Notes: Thanks to seperis for betaing. Not that I had to ask since she practically slipped me a mickey and stole the file from my computer. Thanks to fairestcat and everagaby for general cheerleading and the like. You rock even when you mock. Finally this story is something that I've wanted to write for a while. It embodies several of my personal kinks and crusades and has some issues that are very near and dear to my heart. It was written with knowledge of almost all of season two but there are no specific references to episodes later than The Hive.


Summary: This. This was something that needed taking care of. In a non-traditional sense.




The news had come in a memo. An official looking memo, with large words and watermark electronic seals, fancy writing and the president's signature. John just stared at it for long minutes, eyes glazing over, losing focus.

He honestly didn't know how he felt about it.

Elizabeth appeared in his office minutes later; they both tended to browse their data bursts as soon as they arrived, to make sure there wasn't anything they needed to take care of right away.

This. This was something that needed taking care of. In a non-traditional sense.

"I see from your stunned look that you've already read it." Elizabeth took his cue and half sat on his desk, one leg dangling artfully.

John nodded. "Yeah." His own rough voiced surprised him into clearing his throat. "Yes," he tried again; it was only marginally better. "I read it."

She folded her hands carefully on her lap, examining one fingernail with extreme focus. "We should probably make an announcement; the rumors are going to start pretty quickly. The memo is nearly a month old - the crew of the Daedelus undoubtedly knows."

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't make the dark words swimming on his screen come back into focus so he could read them again. "Probably. I'm just not sure of anything, actually." He shrugged.

Elizabeth frowned and then just as quickly stopped. The expression had vanished, transmuted into something closer to diplomatic concern. "John, you don't have a problem with this, do you?"

His head shook automatically. "No, I'm just--" he stopped, looking at her. "Did you know?"

"Rumors," Elizabeth admitted. "The usual rumors, it's cyclical. You know how it works."

John nodded, He did, everyone did. The uniform code underwent cosmetic changes every so often; at least the review board met and discussed it. But every time, someone whispered something a little insane. A little over the edge. John secretly thought it was one side or another's ploy to get something else they really wanted. "Yeah, but you know rumors..."

"That I do." She shared a conspiratorial wink with him, making a passing reference to an incident a year earlier where both she and John had ended up part of a wild rumor mill. "I've already forwarded it to Rodney." John's chest cramped momentarily until she continued speaking. "And Carson. As department heads, they should be apprised in case of... incidents."

"Good idea," John said, auto pilot finally taking over. "Grand announcement or subtle rumor?"

Elizabeth tilted her head. "How about a dance?"

"Dance?" That made John sit up. "What do you mean, dance?"

"A party," she went on, "where I will dance with Captain Cadman and Lieutenant Palmer and you can take Lorne out for that spin I know you've always wanted."

John wished he was drinking coffee so he could hide the face he was undoubtedly making. "I'm not organizing it," he choked out.

She smiled brightly. "I hadn't planned on asking you to, don't worry."

Oh God, a dance, and he had it on good authority that Lorne, as well as good number of Marines, had two left feet, and very heavy shoes. "Right, okay, but give it a little time to sink in before we start with the visual aids, okay?" Because John had a heavy feeling that *all* department heads were going to have to set an example, and he was going to need time to deal with the thought of dancing with Rodney.

"I figure about a month after the initial announcement," </span>Elizabeth assured him.

"So we're going the announcement route?" John asked, voice cracking. He'd done a lot of announcing in his day. Announcements about hygiene and STDs and smelly socks and used condoms on the floor of one particular storage closet. One humiliating day he’d even explained sock darning about nine months into their first year on the expedition. This, however, was something completely different. This was something you just didn't talk about. Until now.

This might be the thing to finally give him an ulcer.

"I think that's best, John,"
Elizabeth was saying. "I've cleared tomorrow's morning meeting so that we can discuss the nuts and bolts of the next few weeks and months." She peered at him closely. "Do you need some help figuring out what you're going to say?" She leaned forward, looking concerned. "You're looking a bit gray there."

Oh God, there were so many things he had to figure out how to say. "I'm good. This is sort of a fraternity thing, we speak our own language." He offered a weary smile and hoped he didn't look as nauseated as he felt.

Elizabeth took a long hard look at him and then nodded. "Good. Can you have something ready by tonight? I was thinking that the soo-

"Tomorrow," he said tightly.

She wavered. "I'm not sure that's wise--"

"Tomorrow," he said again, more forcefully.

She stared at him, but something must have shown in his eyes, because she just nodded again and said "Call me if you need me." She slid off the desk and nodded goodbye.

Scotch. He needed Scotch.

He took a few more minutes to collect himself so that when he walked through the hallways he didn't look like a complete zombie. All things considered, someone might try to issue a quarantine and then he'd have to explain. Deep breathing and pinching his nose worked wonders, and when he was pretty sure he could walk straight, he closed the laptop and put up his well-abused 'out of the office' sign. He didn't officially sign off for the day; his radio stayed in his ear, his sidearm well-attached. He just couldn't sit there like it was a normal day.

So he didn't.

He took two MREs and a canteen and he walked. By now most of the city had at least been mapped and certified safe or unsafe. But there were still large chunks that were mostly deserted, their expedition still small in comparison to a city the size of
Manhattan.

******

After the Daedelus hyperdrived to the rescue and after Rodney had successfully cloaked the city and the wraiths were gone and the city, for all its wounded and rubble, was oddly silent -- Rodney came to John's room looking ragged and worn.

He hugged unprompted, his shaking arms closing around John like a vise. "Don't do that again," Rodney glared and then promptly fainted.

******

The days were short that time of year, and John got to catch the sunset without effort, even after walking around for a couple of hours. He answered a few questions over the radio, but nothing called him back to the main section of the city.

Sitting on the small balcony's floor, back pressed hard against the wall, legs bent casually, the laughter finally broke through. It started with a small twist of lips, smile niggling and wiggling its way to the surface, twitching as he tried to suppress it. But it was a lost cause, and soon he was holding his sides through a couple of loud guffaws, trickling off into stupid little giggles that he was ashamed were coming out of his mouth.

It ended with one startling sob that hurt his chest and left him aching.

******

After Ronon and Teyla were comfortably settled into Beckett's care, the end of their withdrawal nearly finished, John found Rodney alone in his lab. He was hunched over a computer typing frenetically, looking two seconds away from flopping over on the keyboard.

He muscled Rodney back to his room, the protests scarily few and far between. However, once back in his room, Rodney's eyes sharpened and narrowed. "You did it again."

"You're not gonna faint, are you?" John joked, but it fell flat.

Rodney glared, stalking forward, one finger out and pointing. "No I'm not going to faint. You however," he poked, "are going to be the death of me." He was loud, louder than normal for Rodney. Sharp and biting with an edge.

"What?" John asked as Rodney advanced further. He let him, figuring the guy had possibly had a very bad week, at least according to Beckett. He got unnerved though, when his back hit the wall and Rodney kept pushing.

"What?" Rodney asked back, not really asking at all. "WHAT?"

They were pressed against each other. Rodney’s body was searing hot against his chest.John swallowed convulsively, looking into Rodney's flushed face and dilated eyes and suddenly he was just as angry. "What?" he asked again, "what did you want me to do?"

"I--" Rodney stopped, face pinched.

John smiled triumphantly. "Come on Rodney," he taunted. "Give me a better option."

"I don't know!" Rodney spat. "Okay, I don't know, but I can't--" He stopped again,and  a small choked sound came from his throat. "I can't," he said again, shaking his head. "Can't, can't, can't."

Rodney kissed him once, hard and wet, his tongue running along the seam of John's lips before burying his face in John's neck, panting quietly.

John moved, hand finding Rodney's pants, pushing at the material, feeling the hard outline clearly. The heel of his hand rubbed harshly, the panting in his ear changing cadence with every stroke, the body in his arms stiffening and relaxing and tightening in anticipation.

His hand made it into Rodney's boxers by sheer force of will, and Rodney's hard cock practically leapt into his hand, damp and wanting. John formed a tight fist, pulling quickly, roughly; he couldn't make himself slow, especially when Rodney's hand closed around his own needy erection.

It was over quickly, scarily quickly, and they were on their knees, breathing hard, still coming , dicks waving in the wind. Rodney's hand was tight on his shoulder, nearly painfully so, and John gripped Rodney's hips, thumbs making lazy circles, a strange counterpoint to his own tension.

Rodney eventually stood, got a washcloth and cleaned up. Tucked away gently by Rodney's own hands, John couldn't look. Then it was time to leave.

"This wasn't positive reinforcement," Rodney snapped before the door closed in his face.

******

John didn't actually get that Scotch he was looking for, but on his way back to the more used corridors of Atlantis, he ran into Caldwell, who slipped him a bottle of Grey Goose.

"I thought you might need it. This'll be interesting enough without being responsible for an entire base cut off from gossip."
Caldwell informed him.

John nodded, surprisingly touched by the gesture. "Thanks."

Caldwell nodded and walked off and John found himself doing the same, one hand stroking the bottle thoughtfully. He wandered, aimlessly, unsurprised to find himself in front of a familiar door.

Rodney looked thoroughly bored with his presence and only then did John think he might not have bothered with his 'interoffice' inbox since early that morning. He remembered Rodney's voice talking loud and fast about some new discovery he was dying to try.

"What?" Rodney asked.

John blinked hard and shook his head, pushing past him and into the room, going right for Rodney's laptop and his email program.

"If you break that, I'm taking yours."

John just smirked and swiveled the screen in Rodney's direction. "Read," he said simply, moving off to find the two tumblers he knew Rodney had amongst his personal possessions. John had a good feeling he wasn't going to be drinking alone tonight.

******

Rodney came to him, tired and ragged, and John could still see flecks of mud around the edges. John had only spent a fraction of the time in the same mud and guck and it had taken *him* two very thorough showers to get rid of all of it. Rodney looked liked he'd tried that but his energy had given up in the middle.

"What's up Rodney?" John asked, eyes first catching the blooming bruise on Rodney's arm before  automatically flickering to the butterfly bandages on Rodney's neck, where the knife had dug in repeatedly.

"Can't sleep," Rodney shrugged, stepping inside.

"So you decided I shouldn't sleep either?" John wasn't going to admit that he'd spent the last hour staring up into the dark ceiling.

"Oddly, I couldn’t care less." Rodney dropped to his bed, slumping immediately, weariness sort of radiating from him in the same loud way frenetic energy usually did. "That thing you did? Where you stepped in front of the beam? That was monumentally stupid."

John remembered it clearly: the hostages, Rodney pale and bleeding slowly, the strange attachments to the usual crisp flowing lines of Ancient technology. No one sure what Raline would do at any given second, a scientist gone mad, certain he was right and everyone else was wrong.

The beam of light that hurt worse than anything he'd ever felt, and Rodney's face, even paler, struggling away from his captors, screaming and yelling. "We've had this conversation before," and the words were thick in his mouth. He knew what he was saying, offering the only thing he could.

Rodney's head shot up, the whites of eyes large and glowing, even as his irises bled out into his eyes. "Yes," he rasped, "we have."

They reached at the same time, but John sank to his knees before Rodney's hands, hot and hard on his arms, could pull him any closer. Rodney's stomach quivered under his touch, jumping as his fingers slid down and hooked under the edges of his shirt. John skimmed his way around the large bruise on Rodney's right side, stopping himself from anything less perfunctory.

Rodney's cock was already half hard by the time he got to it. and it was probably the worst blow job in the history of recorded time, but Rodney didn't complain. He just gasped and jerked and twitched and came flatteringly fast.


******

Rodney was quiet, unnaturally quiet, as he moved to sit next to John on the bed. His hand wrapped around the proffered glass tightly, and he tossed back the alcohol in one swig. John did the same.

It burned nicely, leaving a warm fuzzy feeling in his chest, easing the knot that had taken up residence. Rodney's glass appeared in his vision, shaking minutely and clinking solidly against the bottle. John obliged them both.

They drank in unison and John nearly choked on the symbolism.

"So," Rodney's voice was gravely and high pitched all at once, "I'm assuming you-- I mean that is--" he sighed dramatically. "Now what?"

John poured them each a third drink and shrugged. "I have no idea."

The third they sipped quietly, staring off into space. Rodney broke first, hand reaching out and across John to put his glass down. He then gently took John's own glass from his hands and placed it beside his own on the bedside table.

Rodney's face was open and flushed, his eyes wide and his head titled up, in Deep Thought position. Without thinking, John reached out, index and middle finger tracing a soft line down the curve of Rodney's neck.

The noise Rodney made was small and choked. He grabbed John's hand in his own and stared down at them, John's hand lax in his own. John twisted his wrist until his palm was upright and flat, open and waiting. Rodney's hand shifted slowly until they were pressed together, in a mirror image. Their fingers fell in sequence, shifting slowly until they twined together, holding tightly.

They'd never done this, the slow touching, the careful movement. Always fast and rough, always running away before the rest of it caught up. Now, though, now they had time. John's other hand reached out, cupping Rodney's cheek, thumb brushing the flushed skin carefully.

Their lips brushed softly,then again. And again. This was freedom. Soft, careful kisses they could take their time with, enjoy and savor. Closed mouthed little flutters that filled John with heat, suffused him happily.

Rodney's hand once again came up to mirror John's, changing the angle, holding tightly, fiercely, a strange counterpoint to the unbelievably gentle kisses, each one intense and dizzying. John couldn't stop. Didn't want to stop.

Eventually they pushed their shoes off and lay back on the bed. They had to stop kissing for long seconds to do it, but their hands didn't leave each other, they just held more desperately.

Rodney settled next to him, long and firm, pushing gently. Their legs bent and settled, and their lips found each other once again. Something expanded in John's chest, blooming hot and painful, but each brush of Rodney's lips softened it just a little.

Lips raw and puffy eventually stopped kissing; when each one hurt more than it helped they slowed, lips just grazing skin, noses nuzzling quietly.

John's skin buzzed, his head was foggy, and Rodney licked salty tears off his cheeks. Eventually, they fell into a drowsy daze, wrapped firmly around each other. And for the first time ever, they slept together.

******

He slammed Rodney against the wall hard enough to force Rodney's head back with a muted thunk.

"What the hell was that for?" Rodney demanded.

John put a hand over Rodney's mouth; he couldn't go through the entire conversation this time, the need, the fear that thrummed under his skin, heady and arousing. His hand worked into Rodney's pants, fast and efficient, as if he hadn't only done it a handful of times before.

Rodney understood and gave permission in one single back arch and relaxed. Jamming a knee between Rodney's legs, John groaned when they clamped around his thigh, heat searing through his uniform pants. He released Rodney's mouth, hand sliding behind Rodney's head to rest on the back of his neck, holding their temples close, and then braced it on the wall.

He waited for Rodney's shaking hand to reach for him, to fumble a caress over cloth, through the sparks of pleasure that caused, making John gasp. Then it was all pleasure pulled from inside of him, Rodney's hot breath on his cheek, and perfunctory release that didn't make him feel any better at all.

******

John woke up missing an arm, three fingers and part of his leg, lost somewhere in the tangle of himself and Rodney. He wiggled a bit and hissed softly at the sharp pins and needles.

Rodney's breathing hitched and he muttered something incoherent into John's shoulder. Enough blood returned for movement more refined than an uncontrolled jerk, so John shifted a bit more and carded carefully through Rodney's hair, using the pleasant sensation to attempt to overpower the not so pleasant sensation starting up in his leg.

A wobbly smile threatened to break over his face as he looked down at Rodney, mouth half open, line of dried spittle ending in a small moist patch on John's shirt, sleep flush highlighting his cheeks. Endearing was the word that appeared in his mind, and it almost made him frown, because Rodney McKay was a whole host of things, but endearing might be pushing the envelope.

He snorted once and inched closer to John, nose pressing against his chest briefly before a reposition and gentle nuzzle, which might or might not have been a nose being scratched. Okay, endearing might work, on a trial basis.

John stretched, as much as the other body pressed against him would allow. He felt Rodney's chest and stomach breathe in and out and his thigh slide back and forth over John's and his fingers brush tantalizingly down John's spine. It was a nice feeling.

"Mnguhmorning?" Rodney's sleep rough voice asked. His eyes were still closed and his face soft and relaxed.

"Just about," John answered, relaxing his muscles and curling back around Rodney. Their lips did a strange orbit around each other, circling slowly until they finally touched. It was still chaste and sweet and gentle and really, utterly perfect. Sadly, John didn't think he had the energy in him for much more. Still, he went back for another, pulling on Rodney's upper lip, sucking gently.

Rodney hummed quietly, did something quick with his tongue in return and then pulled away to rest on John's shoulder. "I think parts of my back are asleep."

"My leg may never recover," John assured him, letting his chin rest on Rodney's head.

"Yeah well if you limp all day, you can blame it on your own inability to recognize your own limits," Rodney's hand stroked up his torso, "'I hurt it while running' is a sentence that can naturally fall from your lips."

"Tell people you fell asleep in front of your--" John stopped. It was like learning how walk all over again.

"What?" Rodney shifted, his face turning up to look him in the eye. When John didn't answer, Rodney moved more, hand coming up to trace his cheek. "Seriously, what?"

"I just," John frowned, "I just realized that if we wanted to--" he swallowed. Even talking about the possibility felt weird. "If we wanted to, we don't have to make anything up at all."

Rodney pushed up even further, leg now comfortably slung over John's hip. His hands braced themselves on either side of John's head, and Rodney looked down. "Do we?"

Their bodies were twisted firmly around each other, and John's first impulse was to hold on tight and just sink into Rodney's comfortable heat. Reality, cold and inescapable, started creeping inside his chest, a hard knot forming firmly in the center.

"Do we want to?" Rodney asked again, pressing a careful kiss to his lips. "Is that really an option?" There was no hopeful tremor in his voice, just the solid tones of a skeptic. Apparently Rodney had thought further ahead than John was capable of.

"I don't know," John said truthfully. He reached for Rodney's hand and pulled it into his own. Without both arms to support him, Rodney settled back down on his side, still wrapped around John. "Cat's outta the bag either way," John said with a little laugh, letting their fingers braid together.

For once, Rodney didn't question, and John could feel him nod against his chest. Maybe he felt it too, the inescapable fact that once they'd kissed, hell probably even once John had walked into the room, that this choice would be the one they'd have to face. Not the harder, more painful choice that they'd lived with for years; all versus none was no longer an option.

The world of some versus more didn't seem all that comfortable either.

******

John came back from the dead. He'd heard that sort of thing was to be expected if you took the sort of field position he had. It took the better part of a week to work his way back to Atlantis and another day to try and remember the coordinates of the alpha site, because his transmitter had gone the way of the dodo in the original blast.

Later, hours later, in his room, with the lights low and every single muscle exhausted and aching, Rodney kissed him. Fast and solid and sloppy, tongue fucking him hard and deep.

There was a tube pushed into his hand and Rodney's incredibly serious face staring straight at him, hands unbuckling his own pants. "Bed or desk?" he asked, zipper coming down.

"Desk," John rasped when he was finally able to speak. Desk, because the bed would have hurt too much.

Rodney nodded sharply; he seemed to understand.


******

Atlantis seemed to have come to a stunned silence--a loud stunned silence. People talked. There wasn't a discussion that didn't include the latest news in it in some manner or another. John, for the most part, encouraged positive attitudes and discouraged negative attitudes and generally played queer when a joke was needed to defuse an otherwise tense situation. His left wrist was getting sore from all the flopping.

Elizabeth's dance was greeted with laughter and then horrified stares from all parties, who then would turn to John, pleading.

"Sorry guys, this one's outta my hands," he'd say and then walk away jauntily--or pirouette, depending on the audience.

Rumor had it that Rodney had just laughed really hard at anyone who came to him and then told them to leave; he had more important things to worry about than some stupid mixer that would undoubtedly end in lots of food and booze. Why were people complaining?

John and Rodney spent a lot of time locked tightly around each other, kissing heavily. Dragging lips and tongue across each other, taking their time, making small sounds. They even watched movies with Rodney's legs tangled in John’s, arms wound tight. They drew the line at feeding each other, though possibly only because it came too close to sex.

A few nights after the amazing revelation that had everyone stunned, they were lying in his bed, drowsy from a long day and dazed from kissing. Rodney's fingers drew lewd equations on his chest, pairing up the oddest symbols. "You're fighting that part of you that wants to set an example, aren't you?" Rodney asked suddenly.

"What?" John asked, taking one lazy finger and adding his own expression to his chest.

"With the whole," he waved his hand expressively, gesturing at the two of them, "thing. With us."

It was a thought John had had repeatedly. No one wanted to be the first, evidenced enough by how everything had remained status quo so far. No alarming declarations in the mess, or in the control room, or in any other public space. Not even the civilians had really come forward to offer support. John had visions of it turning ugly if something didn't break the slowly rising tension. He'd never before asked his men to do something he wasn't willing to do himself.

A change in regulation was one thing; a change in attitude was entirely another. He'd screwed his career before, but now was different. He was a few years shy of full birds and there were so many things-- people to worry about. Rodney to worry about.

"I don't know," he answered honestly. "There's a lot to consider."

"I'll let you look at the charts I made on my computer," Rodney offered just before kissing him again. They twisted, John climbing on top, leg pushing between Rodney's. When had charts and graphs become hot?

John peppered small kisses down Rodney's neck, sucking at a random patch of skin here and there. Tasting soap and sweat and <b>Rodney</b> way down deep, licking and nibbling.

"Oh!" Rodney gasped. "Speaking of-- oh do that again-- things that are ungodly good, is there a point in time I can schedule on my calendar for when we're going to have sex again?"

John froze, Rodney's skin between his teeth. Slowly he let go and looked up. Rodney looked at him with his head tilted and chin jutted out. John could just hear his mental foot tapping. Beneath him, Rodney stayed relaxed and his hands continued to trace stray patterns. John licked is lips carefully. "In a hurry?"

"I'd just like to know," Rodney said amiably, "I'm not opposed to what we've been doing, it's very reassuring."

"Reassuring?" John raised an eyebrow.

Rodney flushed. "It's everything we never got to do," Rodney said almost shyly and shrugged with his whole body, rolling it against John. "And it's overwhelming in some ways, I'll grant you that. But I've never been good with anticipation. It's a good thing I never had to actually wait through school admissions processes. I hear those are killers."

He smiled, but he had no answer; how could he talk to Rodney about things he wasn't sure of himself? "Is there a rush?"

Rodney's fingers touched his face carefully. "Not at all," he whispered.

******

Rodney's cast was unnaturally white, even against his pale skin. Sunken, haunted eyes greeted him when he entered the room.

"Don't ever do that again," John bit out angrily, oh God, so angry. It bubbled under his skin, raw and chafing. "What on earth made you think that was the smart thing to do?"

"Humor the insane man?" Rodney's eyes narrowed. "Gee, where would I have learned that trick?"

John's jaw clenched so hard that his teeth made a grinding noise. "McKay," he growled, stepping forward, taking the man's healthy and whole arm in his hand, squeezing tight. "you told him to break your arm."

"Yes," Rodney nodded tightly, "and I really thought he was going to do it?" His voice cracked. "What did you want to happen, Colonel? Did *you* want to volunteer?" Rodney tilted his head inquisitively. "And then who would have shot him, huh? Remember what my aim is like during tense situations?"

Except it would have been dead on; as long as Rodney's not firing a projectile weapon, he hit the mark when he really wanted to. Every time. John felt the anger simmer and sputter and translate into hot rage down his spine, ending in an ache in the pit of his belly.

Rodney lunged, teeth clamping around the skin on his neck, wet and hot and sharp, running straight down to his balls. John's other hand went to Rodney's other arm, squeezing, two tight clamps on moving energy.

They both grunted as John hit the wall, and Rodney reflexively bit down harder. John's hands slid down and around, cupping Rodney's ass, kneading roughly. With one last suck, Rodney pulled away and pushed a chair towards the wall.

"Sit," Rodney spat, unbuckling his pants one handed. "I'm afraid the desk is out of the question this time around."

The lube was thrown at him and John found his dick and slicked up roughly, strong violent pulls on his own flesh that made him moan harshly. Then Rodney was there, pushing his hands out of the way, peeling the corners of his pants down as far they'd go, then he spun and sat, easing onto John slowly.


******

Two weeks before The Prom, as it had been nicknamed, flyers went up on the BBS advertising dance lessons. John was pretty positive about the whole idea, it was at the very least a step towards acceptance that The Prom was actually happening and wasn't a mass auditory and visual hallucination like the engineers kept saying.

Then large sections of the science division started wearing sparkly little rainbow jewelry. Some of the women even had little pink triangle earrings. As a show of solidarity, it was pretty subtle for the entire group, but on the other hand, that was probably why John approved.

Rodney couldn't stop fiddling with his necklace; it was long enough to tuck into his shirt if he needed to, with a set of small metallic circles holding the chain taut when Rodney would let go of it long enough for gravity to do its work. For the most part, though, they shifted through his fingers, making dull clacking noises.

Someone rudely questioned the safety of such an object being worn by someone working on the sorts of projects Rodney worked on.

"Nonconductive," Rodney snapped. "The science team made them. It's nice to know you think we're all morons."

John made a mental note of the Sergeant who'd asked the question. He'd been making a careful list for two weeks. So far it was relatively small and he hoped it remained that way.

The first official coming out happened very soon after that.

A team came in hot, and a good portion of them landed a stay in the infirmary. Barely a half hour later, the most calm looking frantic person John had ever seen was pacing outside the curtained off area where Beckett was treating Dr. Fredericks.

When Captain Henderson spotted John, he came to attention so fast that *John* felt something sprain in his own body. "At ease, Captain."

The man's stance relaxed, but he most certainly didn't. When Beckett called him in, John caught a glimpse of one hand holding another and made a note to keep an ear out for anything worrisome.

He ignored the strange feeling in his stomach as he watched the shadow of Captain Henderson hunch closer to the prone Dr. Fredericks. He ran into Rodney outside of the infirmary. "He's going to be fine," John told him and the small frisson of worry he could see in Rodney's eyes eased.

"Good." He sniffed dramatically. "he's working on something that would take weeks to finish if I had to hand it to someone else."

"You big softy." John mock punched Rodney on the arm, only smiling wider when Rodney frowned and covered the spot with his hand, complaining about delicate skin.

They ambled on to lunch together, and John took the time to enjoy being able to just *be*. To listen to Rodney go on and then ignore him. It was comforting to just sit there and egg Rodney on.

"--what does it matter?"

And then reality intruded.

The shorter one stood up, chair skidding backward. "It matters because I didn't know!"

"And was it any of your business?" The one with the weasel face stood up, too. "Is it really anyone's business?"

"Public. Showers," Shorty Stupidpants bit out.

The first public argument was between two of Rodney's people, so John hung back, eyeing the crowd and surreptitiously calling a couple of guards to hug the wall. Rodney meanwhile stomped over loudly and angrily.

"We could be eaten by a living cliché, and you let *this* get in the way of saving our asses?" Rodney yelled. "Just go and defect while you're at it, it's quicker and more effective."

They two instigators were remarkably silent.

"Your rooms," Rodney pointed. "Now. We'll talk later, after you've had some private time to reflect."

The two men left slowly, and John imagined their heads were bowed; he still nodded for them to be followed. The room was unnaturally quiet and still. Next to him, he could feel the rage radiating off of Rodney.

"I cannot believe you people," Rodney yelled at the wall, shoulders held tense. "Who you fuck does not affect how well you can do math, or program a computer or even," his teeth clenched further, and John was already taking him by the arm and leading him away, "how well you shoot a gun!"

Rodney was fighting him, pulling to go back. "You want to hate someone, hate the Wraith!"

John pulled harder, Rodney practically vibrating under his hand, but finally Rodney followed, his silence abysmally loud. John decided just to get someplace private, and a small store room between one lab and another was the closest. Inside, Rodney finally slumped, energy leaving en masse.

"I possibly overreacted," Rodney said, sliding down the wall.

"No one'll notice." John shook his head, sliding down next to him.

They hooked hands and arms, leaning into each other easily, breathing together in long pulls of air. "Better?" John asked into the silence.

"No," Rodney answered petulantly. "Today officially sucks worse than the defense of my second thesis."

"Look, it's gonna be really weird, and these incidents are gonna happen," John started carefully, "more and more frequently for a few weeks."

"I know." Rodney said. "I know, and this just drives home the point you haven't been making."

"I want to sign papers," John said suddenly, looking at their entwined fingers.

"What?" Rodney shifted next to him, pulling at his arm so they could face each other. "Papers?"

John shrugged, looking off to the left. "Next of kin, 401k, that stuff." The silence ate away at him, but Henderson's pale face faded over Rodney's.

"What?" Rodney's voice was higher than normal. "You- you what?" He swallowed loudly.

"Sorry," John said immediately. "I just," he flailed, literally, his free hand just sort of waved in the air. "That kid this morning?"

"Fredericks is 30," Rodney interrupted absently.

"Kid," John said firmly. "I just-- it was-- we can walk through that gate and --" he waved his hand around, still flailing.

"You did not just ask me to marry you while sitting on a dirty floor in a storage closet," Rodney said, pulling John to him, broad hand stroking up his arm, fingertip tracing an invisible line on his neck. "Because that would be-- so you."

"Marriage?" John gulped. No no. Not marriage. Except--maybe just a little. Because he wanted that security, of knowing he could speak for Rodney. Of knowing *Rodney* could speak for him.

"Okay, not marriage," Rodney agreed, "because that's so-- scary." He brushed their lips together and it was-- better. So much better and that was impossible because kissing Rodney was already scarily good. "Papers, huh?"

"Yeah." John nodded. "Papers."

"Uh." Rodney was suspiciously glassy-eyed. "Okay then. Yes."

"Yes." John agreed, still nodding manically, smile threatening to break out over his face. "Yes, great, that's--" deep breath, the room was a little spinny, "that's great."

"Yeah," Rodney agreed, moving in again, foreheads touching, noses bumping gently, almost nuzzling. "Great. Really," they kissed. "Great."

"Keep this up," John smiled into another kiss, "and we're gonna need to get you a thesaurus."

Rodney pinched his arm and then rubbed it affectionately. "Keep that up," they kissed again, lips pressing warmly, opening for a quick taste, "and you get to sleep on the couch."

******

Continued in Part 2.
Tags: fic, mckay/sheppard, sga
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