Scenes from a Lesser War Part 2, headers etc can be found in part 1.
The woman, Reena, was Athosian. John's age, maybe a little younger. She was strong, musculature evident even as she walked across the village. Broad shoulders, tall, gorgeous by all definitions of the word.
She knew what she wanted.
John had her against a tree, rough bark digging into his fingers. Hips moving fast and hard against hers, face turned away, buried in the back of her neck, biting hard and muffling his own noises.
With just enough presence of mind to make sure he wasn't a complete asshole, he managed to hold off just long enough to feel her fluttering around him, strong muscles holding him tightly. Duty done, he pushed her more solidly into the trunk and rammed home a dozen times, orgasm ripping through him harshly.
She thanked him and wandered off, knowing look in her eyes, but no venom to be found.
She *thanked him*.
Nausea rolled through his stomach as someone called him back to the jumper.
After two long weeks, Rodney had finally woken up.
After the incident in the mess, Kate Heightmeyer stepped forward with some of her plans to help 'integrate the new social situation into the norms of their working environment'.
John left it to the people with the obviously skewed world view but tried to look incredibly earnest when he warned them that not everyone wants to be 'helped' and they were stepping into a very structured 'closed society'. He was mildly upset at how flustered she got when he shot the buzz words right back at her.
The storage closet incident had taken on epic proportions in his mind, a memory with warm and fuzzy edges around it that made him feel alternately light-headed and scared out of his fucking mind. If Rodney's ever-changing emotional state was any indication, he was in a similar boat.
Fredericks and Henderson seemed to be the crack in the dam. After them, two more couples and two or three individuals stood up proud and tall. Kate's readjustment of her schedule, new *more* open door policy and anonymous signups for counseling seemed to help things along; it was better than taking out a flyer at the very least. John made a point of interacting with every person under his command that ended up on his other list. The list of people to be watched out for, instead of just watched.
Late at night, with Rodney's arm tight around his side, softly snoring into John's chest, he would smile and hook his leg behind Rodney's knee. He gave it another week before they had to find a different solution; their muscles were being completely reshaped by the way they slept now. Even with the moderately larger beds that had been found and then distributed a few years back.
Usually, if someone needed something official changed in their files and they were part of the military, it came down to John or Lorne to take care of it. Being the highest ranking officers on base, it was their signatures that landed on paperwork before it was forwarded on. Rodney and anyone civilian went to Elizabeth for the types of paperwork they were talking about.
Because it was John and because Rodney didn't even resemble an officer on a good day , they both had to go to Elizabeth. That wasn't really something he'd considered when he'd proposed -- oh God, he needed to find another word for that -- the idea. Not that he remembered actively thinking about it very hard before making the suggestion. His thoughts kept circling the drain whenever he thought that far ahead.
One week until P-Day (The Prom), Rodney was arguing with a knot in his laces, and John was staring at the long list of personal papers that could possibly be altered.
"What's that?" Rodney asked.
John looked up, startled; when had *Rodney* learned to move that quietly? "My will."
"Are you dying?" Rodney asked immediately. "Is that why you proposed-- oh god, bad word, bad, bad word." He paled and then straightened, pointing a finger at John. "That doesn't change the fact that you're going to make me a war widow."
"Widower," John corrected without thinking. "I'm not dying." he said immediately, as Rodney overdramatically sat down hard on the bed. "Really, this is part of the whole," he hand waved helplessly, "paperwork thing."
"Oh," Rodney wilted. "Oh! That makes sense, why didn't I think of that?"
Good question. John had no idea. So he shrugged. "I was just thinking that I haven't changed this thing in... ten years. I thought maybe it was time."
Rodney nodded. "Maybe I'll do the same."
They both stared at each other. Because it was huge, really, monumental, despite the fact that their lives had revolved around each other for a very long time. Dotting the I's, crossing the T's, saying it out in concrete terms was-- serious.
Really, really, serious.
"I'm Canadian!" Rodney suddenly announced, going pale again.
"Yes," John said slowly.
"I mean," Rodney snapped, "that we're about one piece of paper away from actual marriage."
They both sucked in a deep breath.
"Yeah," Rodney nodded, "okay, no. Bad idea."
John nodded frantically.
There was a pause for kissing, because kissing made a lot of things focus and come into perspective. Long slow kisses that took away his breath, and the feel of Rodney pressed tightly to him, warming him from the inside out. Hitching breaths and speaking in soft whispers.
Yeah, he wanted this man to speak for him.
They went to Elizabeth in the morning. Actually, they made an appointment with her, asking her to block out some time for when they wouldn't be interrupted. John supposed the unusual nature of the request got them a quick turn around time; usually they just sort of barged in. It also meant that as soon as they entered the room, they were subjected to her intensely curious stare, complete with mouth twitch.
It was like detention in 5th grade.
Awkward shuffling of feet and arranging of hands and uncomfortable silence from both he and Rodney had her raising an expectant eyebrow. "Gentlemen, you look as though you're about to confess to the exploding toilet incident."
John coughed through Rodney's distinctly nervous laugh. "No Elizabeth, not confessing to that." He winced; bad choice of words.
She folded her hands together and leaned in. "Then what are you confessing to?"
Rodney laughed again, a short snicker, and John kicked him in the shin.
"Ow!" Rodney rubbed his leg. "If that bruises..."
John rolled his eyes.
"Gentlemen?" Elizabeth prompted. "You called this meeting."
"Right," John said, running a hand through his hair, "we need to talk to you about something important."
"Yes, important." Rodney echoed.
"Important?" Elizabeth asked, leaning on her clasped hands. There must have been something on their faces, because she straightened up almost immediately. "You're starting to scare me, John? Rodney? What's going on?"
It was easier to just hand over the little USB file transfer thingy. So he did, sitting back next to Rodney nervously while she loaded the file. Rodney meanwhile, was trying his hardest not the hyperventilate, and John in his very first public display, despite that it was in a private office with the walls opaque and hidden between their bodies, gently squeezed Rodney's leg. Rodney's hand, sweaty and warm briefly closed over his, and they shared a quick, nervous smile.
Elizabeth eyes though, had not left her computer screen. They just got wider and wider. Oh boy, was that John's heart trying to beat its way through his chest? Yes, it was.
"Well," she said eventually, voice maybe a little higher pitched than normal, "I *think* I'm surprised."
"What?" John asked.
"Nothing, never mind. Okay." She breathed slowly. "So I guess we need to do some signature swapping."
In the end, the actual act, signing a bunch of electronic signatures, pen passing around, each time getting warmer and sweatier until finally John had to take a moment and wipe it on his shirt, seemed anticlimactic.
Other than the weird echoing door slamming sound John heard in his own head when Elizabeth signed her last signature and saved the whole thing and added it to the 'to be compressed for transfer' queue.
Awkward silence really sucked, and yet John couldn't make himself speak.
Elizabeth cleared her throat and smiled. "So, I take it this is still hush-hush?"
Nodding, more frantic nodding, and he and Rodney had to be making a horrible impression. Rodney stuck his hand out clumsily, "Thank you, Elizabeth."
They shook firmly and she turned to John, offering her hand. John took it and looked at her carefully. She was smiling, but it was hollow and forced. Wonderful.
"Congratulations, gentlemen. If you want time for a honeymoon--" both John and Rodney jumped, "--right, I guess not. Well the offer stands."
John and Rodney left as quickly as humanly possible after that.
"So I hear you slept with some woman on the mainland." Rodney was finally up and around and prying into places he had no right to go.
John could practically hear the 'that slut' looming around the sentence, doing little cartwheels around Rodney's head. "I really think that's none of your business."
They were alone in John's room, lighting dark and oppressive. John made half a move to go around Rodney, but he was caught around the arm with surprising strength, shoving him into a wall and holding John there with his entire body. "Was she hot?" Rodney asked, breath hot in ear.
John arched back, feeling Rodney's cock pressing into his ass, hot and hungry. "Yes," he hissed, cheek pressed into the cool wall. "And she fucked like a champion."
Rodney's hips ground into John's. "I bet she was horrible," he shifted again, thrusting hard. "I bet it was all you could do to make yourself come."
His dick pressed painfully into the wall, so hard, harder than he'd been in a long time. "I wish I could do her again right now," John whispered, inching his hips back, needing to feel more of Rodney, *all* of Rodney."
"No you don't," Rodney bit his shoulder through John's t-shirt, reaching around to undo his belt buckle, hands reaching down, leaving hot streaks on his skin. Giving his dick two or three vicious pulls before leaving him cold and aching. The ominous snap-click of a bottle echoed over their labored breathing, and then something slick traced down his ass. "Ever done this before, Colonel?" Rodney whispered, gently but steadily pushing one finger in.
John gasped; it burned and hurt and scratched an itch he didn't even know he had. "No," he ground out, pushing back.
"Good," Rodney said, twisting his fingers, moving and hooking and--
"*Oh*," John shuddered hard, legs liquefying.
Rodney pressed closer. "Stay standing," he ordered. A second finger went in, more twisting and turning.
More hot pleasure pooling, his legs locked, and John buried his face into the crevice of an elbow, his sharp gasps scaring himself.
"It wasn't this good," Rodney twisted, his own cock hard on John's ass, thrusting lazily. "It wasn't this, was it?"
Fuck, Jesus it was good. Rodney was talking in that low, insane voice that John was too out of it to understand anymore. He was inside John, moving in and out, filling and taking and-- "Oh!" He came. Devastatingly and without warning, and Rodney just pressed into him hard, one firm hand on his naked hip holding him tightly.
Then he moved, and his fingers left, and John bit back a harsh whimper. Rodney, however, didn't move far, and soon the scorching hot head of his cock pressed in, burning and hurting and ohgodsogood. Slowly but steadily Rodney went, easing in without reprieve until finally their hips bumped and Rodney whimpered quietly.
Jack hammering thrusts, short and staccato and rough rocked John with pleasure so intense he felt like he was blacking out and coming again. "Yeah, that's right Colonel, this is fucking, this is what you want." Then Rodney bit his shoulder one last time, his entire body stiffening, and heat flooded John's insides.
They both slid to the floor, wrecked.
The Prom was-- festive.
Someone had found a way to make rainbow shoelaces, and the jewelry, which had been subtle up until that point, had moved onto, well, spectacular just seemed like the *wrong* word.
John made a special note to get the name of whoever designed the decorations and to never ask them for any similar help. Ever. Blown up rubber gloves, which John bet Carson didn't volunteer too readily, painted with faces and figures and shaped into fairly lewd renditions. Though the he had to admit that the creativity some of them showed was rather remarkable. Someone also figured out how to rig a disco ball in the center of the room. All in all, chintz was in.
The food was also rainbow in color, but sadly, that was not so different than usual, though it had obviously been arranged more... artfully.
Zelenka waved at him from a corner, a strange glittering brush in his hands. As soon as he started walking toward John, he tried to wave him off; when he appeared undeterred, John was tempted to take out his sidearm. However, in the end he decided that being attacked by a mad scientist with body glitter as a reason for shooting someone wasn't going to look good on a report.
So he got glittered. His arms, his face, his *hair*. John Sheppard now *sparkled*.
And thanks to the many makeshift mirrors now gracing the walls of the mess, he could see each and every sparkle. Rodney appeared behind him, suppressing a wide smile. John narrowed his eyes. It just made Rodney's lips press together harder.
That's why he didn't warn Rodney when he saw Radek come up behind him, evil gleam in his eye.
Looking around the room, tapping the beat of the music out with the toe of his boot, Rodney muttering next to him about allergies and sensitive skin, rubbing at the glitter, only succeeding in spreading it further, John saw the great divide.
Military and science, confirmed gay and assumed straight. With a sigh, John elbowed Rodney. "Time to be good little leaders."
"Fine," Rodney's eyes narrowed as he began to stalk off, "but if Radek steps on my feet, someone is paying."
John went to Lorne first, because at least he knew, sort of, the reception he'd get. "Major?" He bowed, on leg forward, arm in front.
He laughed and did an over exaggerated bow, "Delighted, sir."
John would never be able to listen to ABBA with quite the same mindset ever again. But his toes remained unstepped on, and he was pretty sure the gawking and pointing was more about style than anything else.
Elizabeth joined them, as did Rodney and a few others, and soon the dance floor had a respectable number of people wiggling around and sweating. So far so good.
Gay dancing was apparently hard work; either that or the glitter had clogged up a lot of important pores, because he was drenched and half tempted to take off his shirt, like a few others had. He'd caught an episode of Queer as Folk every so often, he knew it might lend to the 'festive' air, but decided against it. All that jewelry and all his chest hair. Bad combination.
The first slow dance sort of cleared the floor a bit so he snagged Rodney's arm, sweating and vital under his fingers and hooked him into a dance. He settled on the more traditional form, instead of the more intimate arms around the waist and neck. Magnanimous, he even let Rodney lead.
It was hard to hold back actually. John's arms were too long for them to keep the usual stiff distance comfortably and his fingers wanted to stroke at the skin near the bottom of Rodney's neck and he could feel the urge to lean closer. For the last few weeks, touching meant *touching*, as much as they wanted. Their hands automatically threaded together at first, before they shifted to something less intimate, and Rodney's warm, slightly shallow breathing was driving him crazy.
"This is... weird," Rodney whispered, "and I think everyone is looking at us."
"No, they're looking at me," John said, "and probably think you're a horrible dancer, the way you keep--*ow*--stepping on my feet."
"Well," Rodney said, "you keep moving the wrong way. I'm," he tugged hard at John's waist, moving him to the right, "leading."
"Well, sorry, I'm used to doing this the opposite way," John said, looking down, watching their feet narrowly avoid missing each other.
"Oh for the love of," Rodney dropped his hands and put two sweaty palms on John's waist. "this way I can just push you in the right direction." Rodney looked over his shoulder. "What are you looking at? This is in the name of toe protection. I think he's already broken at least one."
Slowly, John moved his arms so they rested light on Rodney's shoulders, forearms brushing the base of his neck. They moved, yeah, much better like this, Rodney directing him with a firm push and pull. The song ended and they separated, John could see the high flush on Rodney's cheeks and the slight glaze in his eyes. God, he probably looked twice as bad.
A hand tugged gently at his shoulder. Elizabeth was standing next to him looking worried. "Elizabeth?"
"Someone spiked the punch," she said, hands held tightly in front of her. Even the glitter on her face somehow less festive. "A lot."
"I thought there was a 'two drink limit'" Rodney said, inserting himself neatly into the conversation.
"It was more of a," she tilted her head thoughtfully, "okay, fine, yes, two drink limit."
John nodded. "Right. I'll alert a few people to keep an eye out. I've got a list of people who know they're on tonight. there are already patrols scheduled."
They dispersed, moving back to their chaperone roles, making sure no one looked too uncomfortable. There were a few noticeable wall flowers, people standing off to the side with strange, occasionally pained looks on their faces, but otherwise not causing trouble, so John left it.
Then Ronon asked him to dance. With his 'brave little toaster' face firmly in place, John accepted.
He'd never been swung like that before, and he could have sworn the 40's stuff *hadn't* been on before they'd entered the dance floor. He couldn't believe Ronon had actually gone to the dance lessons. Then he was thrown over Ronon's hip, then the other, and there was too much to worry about, he'd plot revenge later.
Out of the corner of his eye, Rodney had Teyla's legs wrapped around his waist, having apparently gone for a lighter partner to swing around. He could forgive. Especially once Radek cut in, taking Rodney's hands artfully.
Dancing with Ronon was an aerobic exercise, one John was glad to be done with, his skin sweat soaked and slick. He took a seat by the side lines, and not too long after, Rodney joined him, looking smug.
"Did you see that toss I did to Radek?" Rodney asked, flushed and excited.
"Yeah," John murmured. "I did," doing a subtle, but slow lick lip.
Rodney sputtered, flushed red, and glared. "Don't *do* that."
John barely had his innocent face on before Carson dragged Rodney out to the dance floor for something vaguely Celtic and rhythmic. He was smiling far too innocently as he danced circles around Rodney.
The official Prom had a four hour time limit so that people who had duties to perform had a set time they could appear, and so that anyone who wished to have smaller parties in more private locales could do so. John eyed a few of the slightly drunker fellows, leaning heavily on each other, and pressed his lips together in worry.
John watched Rodney flail verbally with tall, blonde and verbose. She leaned into Rodney, hand unobtrusively brushing Rodney's arm. Turning on his heel, John found his way to one of the other large bonfires nearby.
It was silly, John knew that, but it didn't stop him from digging through his laptop to find something with a nice slow beat.
Rodney frowned. "What are you doing--"
John pulled him close, hands on Rodney's hips, holding him steady. "I wanted a chance to lead."
"Oh, uh okay." Rodney stuttered, head awkwardly coming to a rest next to John's, foreheads just touching.
They shifted in each other's arms, eventually ending up in a standing version of their usual sleep pose, minus the tangled legs. Rodney's ear was tantalizingly close to John's lips, so it was easy just to lean in a little and suck gently.
"Oh," Rodney gasped, moving to give John better access. "That's nice."
John let his teeth scrape against soft skin before letting it go with one last suck. "Mmhm." He moved onto the skin just under it, tasting slowly. Rodney twined his fingers into John's hair, thumbs stroking just at the hairline.
The glitter had a minor taste, smoky and sweet, and it just enhanced the taste of Rodney's skin, crisp and salty. The rasp of stubble rubbing against his cheek and Rodney's small hitching breathes sank into John's skin, leaving him buzzed with heady sensation. There were things he didn't want to think about, thing beyond the walls of his room, beyond Rodney's hands pushing under his shirt, leaving hot, happy trails, beyond the data burst scheduled to go out in the morning with all those papers and signatures.
Rodney pulled at his head, thumbs pushing gently under John's chin, lips skipping over John's face; his chin, his cheek, his nose, his lips. After a few long kisses, John gently untangled them. "There's going to be trouble tonight," he said carefully."
Rodney heaved a huge sigh and thunked his head down onto John's shoulder. "I thought I was the doomsayer in this relati-- erk. Between the two of us."
"We must be rubbing off on each other," John smirked, reaching out to turn the music off.
"Not yet," Rodney groaned.
"Soon," John promised, rubbing an apologetic hand over Rodney's shoulder, passing by him and toeing his shoes off. The removal of his side arm was a nod to Rodney and the fact that they *still* managed to wind their way around each other like weeds. But he left most of his uniform on.
Rodney was in the middle of unbuttoning his pants when he saw John push back into the bed. "You're that sure?"
John made a face, lips twisting. It was hard to separate his own fears with the fears of a commanding officer, there was still a thin trickle of fear running down his spine and keeping his pants on made him feel better. It had all gone too well, too easily. The flare-ups had been small sparks compared to what he'd been expecting.
"Right," Rodney redid his fly.
"Hey, you don't have to." One of them should be comfortable.
"Shut up," Rodney said, moving the blankets out of the way. "This is me being supportive. I'm new at this."
There was a precarious moment when Rodney forgot to empty his pockets and something sharp stabbed John in the thigh. Which led to some frantic flailing, Rodney scrambling around on the bed and a kick in the shin.
"Jesus, Rodney," John said through clenched teeth, rubbing the sore spot on his leg, "If I didn't love you so much I--" Oh. Oh wow. That was enough to stop them both like a brick wall. Also, John really hadn't meant to say that.
"I, oh." Rodney's jaw worked up and down, no sound coming out for a second. "Um. Ditto? I think?"
John laughed nervously, shaking his head. He reached for Rodney, who was kneeling at the foot of the bed. "Eloquent as ever."
Finally they settled, nervous energy crackling between them. John could feel Rodney's fingers tapping out what was probably some complex pattern on his chest.
"I uh, don't really mind you know," Rodney said tentatively into the quiet darkness, "about the sex."
John took the tapping finger in hand, threading their fingers together. "Oh yes you do."
"Okay fine," Rodney said, "the case of blue balls I have would make Guinness. I still don't *mind*."
Maybe it was love after all.
The strange feeling in his chest kept him awake even as Rodney became lax against his side, breathing deeply. He was getting too old to stay up nights mooning. Against him, Rodney muttered something in his sleep, snuffling quietly. The moonlight cut strange diamond paths across the room, the edges soft and feathering into the darkness. One small corner highlighted their entwined hands, not enough light to tell whose fingers were whose.
John had been told that the large number on the screen was the ancient equivalent of three.
The sneaky bastard had lied to him, told him he had ten whole minutes when he'd sent John off to take care of the last of the evacuees.
Rodney had sent him off with barely two minutes and only a slim hope of a prayer. and John was going to give him a piece of his mind. The doors opened. and Rodney was curled around his pillow, dirty, sweaty uniform still on his body. Something about the way he was clutching the dirty pillow case made him look bruised and fragile.
Anger short circuited, it was like a sudden drop, the strange surge of electricity under his skin that made him antsy.
Rodney twitched heavily in his sleep, and the door closed quietly behind John as he walked out.
The call, when it came, woke John out of a surprisingly sound sleep.
"Wha?? What?" Rodney sat up straight, twitched and then fell off the side of the bed. "Ow," he commented pathetically.
"Sheppard here," John answered his radio, easing away from Rodney's increasingly loud litany of complaints, limping to the other side of the room while a single muscle in his lower back regained blood flow.
"John," Elizabeth said tensely, "you should come to the infirmary."
Shit. Double shit. "Be there in five."
The straps to his holster kept slipping through his fingers, the little clip thingy popping out at odd angles and pinching the pad of his thumb. In the background he could hear Rodney taking a similar call on his own radio. Great, civilians in the mix this was going be a huge mess and-- "Ow! Damnit!"
Rodney appeared in front of him and silently smacked his hands out of the way, sinking to his knees with surprising grace. "Rodney we don't have time to--"
Two quiet snicks shut him up.
"Oh please," Rodney rolled his eyes, standing back up with a few grunts, "and you thought *I* had blue balls." Rodney smiled at him, crooked and a little bit shy. "It wouldn't do for the very together military commander of this base to show up without his gun."
That was just so, he didn't want to say sweet, because, well-- no. John wrapped his hand around the back of Rodney's neck and kissed him, tongue peeking out to taste. Pulling back, Rodney looked dazed. John ruffled his hair.
"Hey!" Rodney called, surprised enough that John nearly made it out of the room before he started catching up.
Outside the infirmary, a small crowd had gathered, and John wasn't comforted by the few scrapes and bruises he could already see. Conversations hushed as they walked past, the lack of sound louder than the original quiet murmurs.
Elizabeth was pacing in tight little circles just on the other side of the door. "John," she acknowledged, "Rodney. Carson will be out in a moment."
"What happened?" John asked quietly, voice low.
"There was... a brawl."
"A what?" Rodney asked. "A brawl? What are they, infants?"
"It was broken up quickly." Elizabeth said quickly. "Your men were on high alert."
"They damn well better have been." John snapped. "Who got hurt?"
"Yes," Rodney nodded, "since you called me, which of my people am I going to have to talk out of some civil action?"
Elizabeth looked at them both so earnestly John nearly went looking for a chair to sit down in. "Radek has two broken ribs," she said carefully.
"What?" Rodney's face went pale, eyes dark with anger. "What the hell happened?"
"According to the reports, one side says there was unwanted propositioning, the other side says they were just being friendly, there were threats volleyed back and forth."
"Radek," Rodney said, disbelief evident in his voice, "gave someone unwanted attention? That's practically," his hands waved around in the air, "well, that's pretty inconceivable."
Elizabeth shook her head. "'No, you're right, he wasn't even there when it started. He tried to talk to them down."
"Moron." Rodney pinched the bridge of his nose and went to find a place to sit down.
John's eyes tracked him as he went, mentally tracing the stiff tilt of his shoulders and still pale skin.
"It must be hard," Elizabeth said softly, putting one hand on John's arm, leading him to another chair, "not to do the things that must want to come naturally."
"What?" John blinked slowly.
She sat next to him, legs slinging over the side of another armless chair. "I saw you following him as clearly as if you actually had," She ducked her head. "I think the part that weirds me out the most is how unsurprised I actually was."
John's head snapped up. "You weren't surprised?"
"Well no," She smiled awkwardly, "I was. Really. But at the same time?" Elizabeth's brow furrowed just a little, and she tilted her head in the same way she usually did when John and Rodney tried to outflank her. "No."
Oh great, wonderful, that was-- okay, no longer *officially* career ending, but it was still-- it made his heart beat really fast.
"John, don't make me get a paper bag," Elizabeth joked, patting his shoulder. "It's fine, I have no idea when or where or how, so whatever you've been doing is working."
"Right," John ran a hand through his hair, hoping the heat on his cheeks wasn't actually visible. "Yeah, thanks."
"No problem," Elizabeth's smile changed so abruptly that John was worried until he turned his head and saw that Carson had finally made his way into the main ward.
The four of them gathered off in a corner. Carson looked serious but not grave. "He'll be fine, just nothing too active for a few weeks. The rest are all minor scrapes and bruises."
"I want a list of everyone treated here tonight," John said tightly. "I want to know exactly what happened."
"Aye, me too." Carson nodded. "But I've seen worse, so it's a horrible thing to say, but we were lucky."
Elizabeth nodded in agreement. "This might be enough to shock the worst of them and weed out the ones we want to transfer."
"I hope so," Carson nodded. "Oh Colonel," he turned to John, "Captain Henderson will be staying with Stephen in the same ward, he doesn't really need observation, but I thought it would be a good idea anyway."
"Stephen?" John asked.
"Dr. Fredericks." Rodney informed him, lips tight and eyes flashing. "I should visit him, threaten his livelihood and blame him for our decreased productivity or something."
John raised an eyebrow. "It's good to show your people you care."
Rodney smiled and bounced on the balls of his feet. "I know."
Elizabeth took a deep breath. "Okay, we should deal with the rest of this in the morning."
"I'll talk to Lorne," John said, "find out who needs guards on their doors tonight."
All that was missing from their nod and scatter was a some sort of group high five. John did his own thing, meeting with the security detail, giving out orders, taking names. Mostly though, it was on autopilot until Carson pulled him over to the side.
"Colonel? Can I speak to you for a moment in private?"
"Sure," John nodded and he found himself following Carson into his private office.
"You know that any change in status regarding patient care comes to my inbox right?" Carson began tentatively.
John nodded; it made sense, Carson needed to know things like DNR's and-- oh. He sat hard.
"Hey now, no reason to worry. I just wanted to let you know the paperwork has all come through fine. Everything's filed in its proper place." Carson leaned casually on his desk. "Now I'm going to assume that it's pretty serious based on those papers," he leaned in, lowering his voice, "but if you hurt the lad, you'll be finding yourself in a heap of trouble." He leaned back. "That being said, I'll be telling Rodney the same thing. Isn't that always the trouble when two friends start dating?"
John wanted to sink into the ground. "Um, sure?"
Carson smiled at him in a supportive way, and John just had visions of supportive smiles for years to come, dancing around his head like demented butterflies.
John returned to his room alone; Rodney was off somewhere doing Rodney things, and John just didn't have the energy to be casual about checking up on him, he didn't have the energy to take his pants off even though this time he was pretty sure he wouldn't be interrupted before morning. The only reason his sidearm made it off was because it would have dug into his thigh.
Sometime later someone was carefully rolling him to the side. John blinked several times, trying to focus. "Rodney?"
"Move over, I'm tired from just watching Radek breathe." Rodney slipped under the covers, warm and comfortable next to John.
"How is he?" John asked, letting Rodney settle them down.
"He has two broken ribs," Rodney said, "and Carson threatened me with a goat or something if I leave you a broken woman."
"Me too," John moved Rodney's arm so it wasn't hard to breath. It was like hearing about people with lice; your scalp automatically started itching. Beside him, Rodney's body remained tense, his breath rough and uneven against John's neck. "How're you doing over there?"
"Wishing my biggest problem was still blue balls."
Rodney came back from the dead talking so fast it took a good thirty seconds to realize impending doom was imminent, despite the wild hand waving and loud yelling.
There were hours of frantic working and preparing and negotiating and ten long. tense seconds where Rodney's hands kept missing keystrokes they were shaking so badly. Afterwards, when the all clear sounded and everyone broke into spontaneous cheering, Rodney stood, walked three feet and fell over in a dead faint.
John caught him, his temple inches from a dangerous corner on a nearby panel.
Later, when Rodney was comfortably ensconced in his own room, had nearly a day to recover and eat and sleep, and rumor had it that he had to be woken to eat just about each time, John went to him.
Asleep in his bed, Rodney still looked exhausted. John sat down in the small hollow Rodney's hips made when his legs bent forward.
Rodney twitched, his fingers brushing against John's thigh, the disturbance apparently enough to prompt Rodney to crack his eyes open. "Sheppard?"
"Hey," John said, not sure why he was even there. "How're you feeling?"
"Like I slept for an entire day," Rodney said, voice dry and croaking. He rubbed his eyes, digging the heal of his palm in roughly. "What day *is* it anyway?" He pushed himself up, working his way into a sitting position.
"It's still Wednesday, relatively speaking," John said, attempting to avoid the usual semantic argument about time and space and the meaninglessness of imposing a 24x7x365 calendar to a planet that had a drastically different period and revolution.
Rodney nodded, still rubbing his eyes, squinting every so often. "So, what's wrong?" He was already sliding out of bed.
"Nothing," John reached out, fingertips catching on Rodney's shoulder. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm, um, glad you're alive and stuff."
Rodney regarded him with a closed look, lips pressed crookedly together. "Yeah, me too."
"I uh--" John fidgeted, unable to remove his fingers from Rodney's shoulder, palm moving in and pressing down, feeling the sleep warmed skin through his shirt. "I was pretty worried there for a minute."
"Me too," Rodney shifted under John's hand, the side of John's palm skimming over the skin at Rodney's neckline. "Sheppard," he stopped suddenly, mouth closing with a sharp clack. "Jo--"
Hand over lips, faster than lightening, covering quickly. John's palm felt the warm and humid breath seep into it. Rodney sucked on the closest patch of skin, cracked lips giving way to a wet tongue, licking gently. John's hand went slack, the hot limber lick surprising him with how good it felt.
Rodney lunged, hands clamping onto John's shoulders and John's arms automatically locked, holding him back even as his hands cupped Rodney's face. He couldn't make himself let go, and he let his arms go slack and let Rodney finally connect.
They made little grunting noises, a near comical rendition of sex sounds until finally Rodney's struggles slowed and then stopped. Which was worse, because now John was stuck staring into Rodney's eyes, dark and getting darker, his lips at the quick flick of a tongue that peeked out to wet them, and that made it worse.
Rodney reached out, pulled a bottle from some hidden recess of a drawer and handed it to John, giving him the choice. John gave it back.
It happened too slowly for John's liking, the slide of skin, the glow of the light coming from the window, Rodney's lips at the back of his neck. The unhurried burn as Rodney pushed in, the heat of hands on his hips, holding tight, the deep pleasure from each movement. Rodney pressed close, going painfully slow, and it hurt so good and John couldn't do anything but gasp into the pillow and push back.
And that hurt most of all.
Continued in Part 3.