Compromising Positions | Into the Black | Contact

The Long and Winding Road

Notes: Big hugs to Eleanor K and Skripka for the betas. Any remaining mistakes or weaknesses are mine. (And yes, I know, that's the title of a Beatles song that does not thematically match the story.)

It’s the middle of the night watch and Rodney is in the command centre by himself, having sent Chuck off to get him some coffee. The two Marines on duty are at the foot of the stairs, chatting about something intently. He’s running diagnostics on power usage after detecting some fluctuations earlier in the day. Zelenka assured him that they were within normal parameters, but it’s not like Rodney’s got anything better to do – sleeping through the night is something he rarely achieves anymore. He’s just taking the cover off of the crystal array when the signal comes in. Rodney frowns. He knows there are no teams off-base. He gets up and checks the code. He checks it again, knowing that it is impossible.

It’s Colonel Sheppard’s code.

John Sheppard, who has been missing for six months and presumed dead by the majority of the population of Atlantis whether they want to admit it or not.

Rodney’s fingers are moving before his brain kicks in and he’s sending a signal back, opening a radio frequency. His voice breaks as he says, “This is Atlantis, identify yourself.”

There is a brief pause and some static and then John Sheppard’s voice comes over the speakers, “Hey there, Rodney. How about you open the iris?” His words are slurred together, either with fatigue or pain, Rodney can’t tell.

“How, how do I know it’s you?” Rodney asks. He can hear the Marines below radioing for backup and probably for Elizabeth.

“Are you kidding me?” John says. Rodney can almost see his face twisting into a frown. Rodney’s stomach is doing somersaults.

“One hundred and seventy nine million, four hundred twenty-four thousand, six hundred and seventy three,” Rodney blurts out.


Rodney starts repeating the number.

“Oh, for…prime, Rodney. It’s PRIME. Now open the goddamn iris,” John replies.

Rodney types in his release code and runs down the stairs.

“Sir, I don’t think…” one of the Marines starts to say, while moving to intercept Rodney.

“Get out of my way,” Rodney says through gritted teeth, an expression on his face that makes the soldier take a step back. Moving faster than anyone would believe, Rodney gets to the gate just as John Sheppard comes hobbling through using what looks like a branch as a crutch. He’s covered in dirt and his BDUs are in tatters around him. His cheekbones are in sharp relief over his rough beard, and his hair is a wild mess of tangles almost reaching his shoulders.

“John,” Rodney says in a tight, quiet voice.

“Rodney,” John replies, stumbling a bit.

Rodney reaches out and steadies John, his fingers curling around John’s bicep. He can feel how thin John has become. He looks into John’s eyes, utterly speechless for once in his life, and they stay like that for a few minutes. Rodney’s only vaguely aware of the sound of coffee cups hitting the floor when Chuck comes in, as he pulls John against him into a tight hug. John wobbles, pulled off balance by the suddenness of Rodney’s actions.

“Hey, easy there, I’ve got a messed up knee…” John says, rebalancing himself.

Rodney’s thoughts are in turmoil, his mind a brilliant white flash of ‘hesalive’ repeating over and over again, drowning out everything else, and then Rodney kisses John. It’s hard and fast and full of desperation and ends just as suddenly as it begins when Rodney steps back and looks at John with horrified shock.

“Rod…” John begins to say, his face twisting in confusion, just as Elizabeth comes rushing into the gate room in yoga pants and a faded t-shirt, followed by a squad of Marines.

“John,” she says in a slightly shaky voice, her eyes wide with shock and surprise.

“Elizabeth,” John answers, his eyes following Rodney, who slips behind Elizabeth and ducks his head.

“Oh my God, John. Where have you been?” Elizabeth asks, moving forward.

John gives Elizabeth a lopsided grin. “I was hoping we could save the debriefing after a trip to the infirmary. I seem to have picked up a bit of a para…” John’s eyes flutter and he starts to collapse. Rodney’s there before he hits the floor, catching him. Ronon shows up with Teyla, just in time to carry John to the infirmary. Elizabeth radios Carson as they move as a unit through the hallways.

Rodney spends the next hour sitting in a corner of the waiting room with Elizabeth, and the rest of his team as they wait for a report on John’s condition. He is lost in thought and jerks at the light touch on his arm.

“Rodney,” Elizabeth says in her concerned voice, “are you all right? You’re awfully quiet.”

Rodney twitches. “What? I’m fine. Why would you ask that?”

“You’ve hardly said a word in an hour,” Elizabeth says. She tilts her head towards the curtain. “He’s going to be okay. Carson will take good care of him.”

Rodney is spared having to answer when Carson comes through the curtains.

“Well, Carson? How’s the patient?” Elizabeth asks.

“All things considered, he’s doing pretty well,” Carson replies. “All things being a badly sprained knee, dysentery, dehydration, and a wee case of malnutrition.”

“But he’s going to be okay, right?” She presses.

“Oh, yes. Nothing a few drugs, food, liquids, and bed rest won’t cure,” Carson assures them. “I’ve got him sedated so that he sleeps soundly, but the Colonel should be ready for visitors in the morning.”

“Message duly noted,” Elizabeth says, grinning. “You heard the man, people. We can come back in the morning.”

Without a word, Rodney drops off the counter he’s sitting on and leaves the infirmary quickly, not seeing the worried glance that Elizabeth directs at him.

John wakes the next morning to find Elizabeth sitting at his bedside. She’s reading a report of some sort, deep in thought.

“Hey,” he says, getting her attention.

Elizabeth’s face brightens. “Hey, yourself. How are you feeling?”

John finds the remote for the bed and puts himself in a more upright position. “Oh, you know, the usual – exhausted, sore, turned inside out from a parasitical invasion.” He shrugs and gives her a lopsided smile. “How about you?”

Elizabeth smiles back. “Oh, you know, the usual,” she mimics. “Elated and in awe of your ability to seemingly come back from the dead.”

“It’s a talent of mine,” John says.

“God, John,” Elizabeth exhales, suddenly, her smile cracking. “What happened? We looked for you for months and couldn’t find a single trace. I thought Rodney was going to kill himself trying to find you. He ended up in here a few times for treatment for exhaustion.” Her voice catches, “We…I thought you were dead.” She reaches out to touch his hand, and for once John doesn’t flinch away from the physical contact. He lets her pat his hand for a moment and then reaches for his cup of water. He takes a drink before beginning.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what happened myself, Elizabeth. I remember running for the gate with everyone else, then I felt a sharp sting on my neck, and the next thing I knew, I was in a cave, trussed up and surrounded by guys who make Ronon look like a kitten. They kept me pretty out of it during the day, kept giving me this horrible stuff to drink and every time I woke up, we were in a new cave. They didn’t speak English, so I have no idea why they took me or where they were taking me.”

“How did you get away?” Elizabeth asks.

“They stopped at a small outpost of some sort for a couple of days to get supplies, I think. I’m not sure why they stopped drugging me, but they did. They left me in some kind of makeshift jail with a small group of guards.” John flushes and he looks away. “Not all of my guards were men.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth replies, doing a horrible job hiding her shock.

“Yeah, so, anyway.” John clears his throat and continues. “I got away and took off overland. I killed the men they sent after me. Took me a long time to get back to the gate, probably a couple of months, but I knew better than to go straight there, they’d have been waiting for sure. I was about thirty miles away when I fell into some kind of pit and fu…uh…wrecked my knee. I think that’s where I picked up my little unwanted friends, too, since I was stuck down there for a few days with nothing to drink but the disgusting water that was in it.”

Elizabeth has gone a bit pale.


“I made Rodney stop looking about two months ago,” she says, looking horrified. “John, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. How were you supposed to know?”

“I should have…”

“Elizabeth, stop it. You know better than to second guess yourself in situations like this. You’ll make yourself crazy. I’m back and I’m alive. And in a week or so, I’ll be good as new.”

“Make that a month or so,” Carson says, approaching the bed. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but I really must insist that you let Colonel Sheppard rest.” He turns to John and waves a threatening finger at him. “Not a word from you ‘Mr. It’s Just a Flesh-Wound’ or I’ll confine you to an extra week’s bed rest.”

John closes his mouth, the protest dying a quick and painless death.

Elizabeth’s laugh is a little forced. “I’ll see you later, John.”

“You know where to find me,” he replies, giving Carson the evil eye.

Rodney tries, but fails, to stay away. He creeps into the infirmary in the middle of the night and stands quietly by John’s bedside, looking down at him, hardly daring to breathe. The weird, faint blue-green lighting that comes from Atlantis throws the new angles on John’s face into sharp relief, even more noticeable now that he’s had a shave and a haircut. The sheet over John’s chest rises and falls slowly with each breath, but Rodney still can’t convince himself this isn’t all some twisted dream his subconscious is tormenting him with. His fingers twitch at the need to reach out and touch. An indulgence he does not allow himself. He knows once he starts, he may never stop. John shifts slightly in his sleep. Rodney turns and flees, cursing himself for the coward that he knows himself to truly be.

The next morning, Kate Heightmeyer finds Rodney pacing back and forth in front of her office.

“Rodney?” She hasn’t seen him this agitated since she treated him for post traumatic stress disorder after his run-in with Kolya.

“Hey, do you have a minute? You don’t have any other patients, right? I have to talk to you about something.”

The fact that he doesn’t even bother with the pretense of being there on some unrelated issue fills Kate with concern.

“Sure, Rodney, come on in,” she says gently, opening the door and gesturing him forward with one hand. He moves in ahead of her and sits down in one of the big comfortable chairs she has. By the time she’s seated at her chair, Rodney’s back on his feet, pacing back and forth, his hands twisting around each other.

Five minutes go by, and he’s still pacing and muttering to himself when Kate says, “Whenever you’re ready, Rodney.”

Stopping in the middle of the room, he blurts out, “I’m in love,” his face a mask of fear and confusion.

“And why are you finding that so disturbing?” Kate asks.

“Because…” Rodney trails off and starts pacing again.

“Because?” Kate leads.

“Because.” Rodney stops again.

“Rodney, I can’t help you deal with the problem if you won’t talk to me,” Kate says calmly.

“I know, I know, it’s just, it’s Colonel Sheppard.”

Kate keeps her face still. She’s known for a while that Rodney’s attachment to the Colonel went deeper than mere friendship could explain, and she’s been waiting for Rodney to come to terms with it for quite some time. Before she can say anything, Rodney continues.

“I don’t know how I didn’t realize it before. I mean, I’ve risked my life for him – on more than one occasion – me! Have you heard anything more insane? I’ve followed him into the most dangerous situations, trusted him, relied on his judgement. When he got pissed at me over Project Arcturus, I never felt so miserable in my life. Except these past months when I thought he was dead. Oh, God, Kate. It was horrible. He was gone and I couldn’t find him and it was like my arm was missing or something, and then he came back and he was just standing there and then I – I kissed him. Oh, Jesus.” Rodney flops into the chair and buries his head in his hands.

“Rodney, it will be all right,” Kate says.

“How can you say that?” Rodney exclaims. “I just figured out I’m gay and the object of my new-found affections is a US Air Force Colonel and you say it’s going to be all right? Maybe you really did get your Voodoo degree out of a Cracker-Jack box. This is going to be an unmitigated disaster.”

Rodney spends hours in Kate’s office and by the end of the session, he knows two things – that’s he’s more than likely bisexual, not gay, and that John Sheppard isn’t the only man he finds attractive, just the only one he’s ever formed a true emotional attachment to. Not that knowledge of either of these things does anything to reduce his sense of panic and doom. He books several weekly sessions with Kate in advance.

John does what he always does when situations like this crop up – he ignores it, hoping that the other person will forget about it, and things will go back to normal. Unfortunately, in this case, he’s dealing with Rodney McKay, so instead of just getting on with life on Atlantis, John has to deal with the fact that when he’s not avoiding him completely, Rodney stands mutely in a corner, as far away from him as possible, flinching whenever John so much as looks in his direction.

John is pondering the situation while resting on an upper balcony over the corridors. He’s overdone his walking exercises again, and his knee is throbbing. He can’t wait until Carson clears him to run again, but even he realizes that it’s still too soon. He looks down and sees two Marines walking down the corridor – John thinks he recognizes one of them from the night he returned to Atlantis, but he can’t be sure, since most of that night was a blur. He hears someone approaching them and realizes it’s Rodney in full ‘working on something important, here’ mode, as he turns the corner, completely absorbed by the display on his datapad. The Marines usually just move out of Rodney’s way when he’s like this, and yet, despite the fact that John is quite certain they’ve seen him, these Marines continue towards Rodney, almost as if they were intent on bumping into him.

When contact is made and Rodney gets bounced between the two of them rather roughly complaining, “Watch where you’re going, you morons!” before he stumbles out from between them and goes on his way, John gets a sinking feeling in his gut. He’s seen this kind of behaviour before. John spends the next couple of days observing, and to his mounting dread, realizes that the Marines in the gate room not only saw what Rodney did, but are spreading the word to a very small, very select group. As much as John would like to personally beat some sense into each and every one of them, he has no real proof of what they’re doing. So, he does the next best thing – he goes to Ronon.

“You want me to hang out with McKay?” Ronon asks.

“Yeah, just, you know, keep an eye out on him. Keep him out of trouble.”


“Yeah, look, there are a few Marines that have taken a dislike to him for a reason I’d rather not go into right now, and they might get a little, shall we say, enthusiastic, about expressing this dislike. I can’t bust them on it now, I don’t really have any evidence except my gut, and since McKay’s avoiding me like the plague, and probably wouldn’t appreciate my interference, I was hoping you could take care of this for me.”

Ronon shrugs. “Sure.”

“Great. Two really important things, though – McKay can’t know what you’re doing and you’re not allowed to kill the Marines. Deal?”

“But I can smack them around a bit?” Ronon asks, looking hopeful.

“If the situation calls for it, yes,” John answers with a smile with a feral edge to it.

Not so amazingly, the brief harassment of Rodney stops almost as soon as it began, especially after two Marines end up in the infirmary after ‘tripping’ on the stairs. Amazingly, at least to John, who had always believed that Ronon merely tolerated Rodney, Ronon continues to hang out with Rodney.

In the past couple of weeks, several people have asked Ronon how he can stand to spend so much time with Rodney McKay. Each time, he shrugs and says the same thing: that McKay knows who has all the best food hoarded. It’s the type of answer they expect of him, so he doesn’t tell them that he finds McKay’s forthright nature refreshing, that in an environment where so many others have hidden agendas, that he enjoys spending time with a person who doesn’t. Or that, if you dig below the surface, despite all appearances, McKay really is a decent person who cares deeply for the people around him, he’s just really horrible at expressing it.

As he sits on the couch in the lounge admiring the view as Rodney, who is on his hands and knees behind the TV hooking up his new Sony Playstation, Ronon contemplates telling the next person who asks him why he’s spending so much time with Rodney, that despite all of his other faults, McKay’s got a really, really nice ass. He chuckles at the idea.

Rodney sits up and looks at him. “What’s so funny, Chewbacca?”

“Nothing, nothing. Just waiting for you to come ‘kick my ass’ at Halo, whatever that is,” Ronon says.

“Oh, just you wait,” Rodney says, grinning, turning on the game.

A few months later and John is ready to get back to work and back out into the field. Unfortunately, Rodney refuses to rejoin the team. John’s been trying to meet with Rodney for days, certain that if he could only talk to him face-to-face, he could convince him to rejoin. Frustration mounting as Rodney continually finds convenient excuses not to meet, John corners him in his lab late one night.

“Hey, Rodney,” John says, closing the door and telling it to only open for him.

Startled, Rodney’s head jerks up and he stutters out, “Colonel.”

“You’ve been avoiding me,” John says leaning against a worktable.

“No I haven’t. I’ve been busy. City to run, Wraith to defeat, all that,” Rodney says, waving his hands around.

“Exactly. So why won’t you rejoin the team? We need you out there, figuring out the things we find, saving our asses.”

“I’m needed here. I’ve come to realize that it’s incredibly stupid for me to endanger myself by going off-world. I should be here, making sure the monkeys the SGC keeps sending me don’t blow up the city,” Rodney replies, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Bull-shit. You don’t believe that any more than I do,” John counters.

“Believe whatever you want, Colonel, I’m not rejoining the team,” Rodney says, his mouth slanting into stubbornness.

“Stop being such a child!” John launches himself off the edge of the counter and moves towards Rodney. He doesn’t stop until he’s less than a foot away. Rodney flinches and tries to move back, but can’t because he’s already up against the wall. John grits his teeth. “I can’t believe you’re acting like this! You can’t avoid me forever. I thought we were friends. Surely we can move past this.”

Rodney just stands there silently, not looking at John.

“What do you want me to do? Apologize for not being gay?” John shouts.

Rodney turns on him and yells, “Yes!”

They both stand silent in shock for a couple of seconds, and then the absurdity of the situation hits John, and he starts to chuckle. John can see how desperately Rodney’s trying to keep a straight face, but eventually, he loses and starts to smile.

“Come back to the team, Rodney,” John says softly. “We need you. I need you out there.”

Rodney shakes his head. “I can’t.”

“Rodney,” John says in frustration.

Rodney reaches out and touches John lightly on the arm, his face flushing. “Not yet. I’m not…it’s too…”

John takes pity on him. “Okay. We’ll take Zelenka for now, but just remember you can come back whenever you’re ready, all right?”

Rodney smiles weakly and nods.

It’s the best John can do right now, so he says goodnight, and leaves.

Rodney never expected that the hardest problem that he would ever have to solve would be one with no real solution. He is in love with John Sheppard. John Sheppard is not, and never would be, in love with him. The question is could Rodney live with that? Could he get over it enough to ever get back to “normal”? He isn’t sure, but he does know that he wants to – has to – try. So, with all of the precision and ability to change reality to suit himself that he is known for, Rodney goes to work on his own feelings, turning his love for John Sheppard back into friendship. He mostly succeeds.

Every year the Athosians throw a week-long Harvest Festival, and every year, the Atlantis expedition members assist in bringing in the harvest. The last day of the festival coincides with the full moon and culminates in a day of celebration. Rodney and Radek spend the day avoiding all children, and trying to convince the village elders that they can improve whatever system they’ve targeted this year – usually to no avail; John teaches anyone who wants to learn how to play football, more often than not finding himself under a pile of children; Ronon spends most of his time with the hunters, but takes some time out to play with the smaller kids, none of whom understand that they’re supposed to be afraid of him; Elizabeth and Teyla usually spend the day with the new mothers and their babies, cooing at them; and Carson and his team of medics quietly, unobtrusively check on the health of the Athosians, offering inoculations to any who want them. As day turns to night, and the children are put to bed after a long feast, the adults return to the fires, and the drinking and dancing begin.

On the night of the full moon the Athosians celebrate what Rodney has taken to calling ‘no harm, no foul affairs’ wherein on this one night of the year, anyone may ask anyone else to share their bed, regardless of marital status or prior commitment, with no repercussions. Any children that come from such affairs are called Harvest Children and are cherished by the whole community.

The moon is high in the sky, and Rodney sits in front of one of the fire pits, nursing his Athosian moonshine, Ronon at his side, gnawing on the bone of the deer-like thing he and the others had provided for the feast. Rodney’s eyes are focused twenty feet away, on John, who sits at another fire, telling a story to a small group of young women who have been following him around for the last hour or so. One of them, a black-haired girl, with paper white skin, no older than twenty, obviously bolder than her friends, reaches out and puts her hand on John’s arm. Rodney can’t hear her words, but he knows what it is. It’s the simple ritual question – “Will you share my bed on this night?” – that many people have already asked and answered this late in the evening. Rodney thinks he sees John’s eyes flick towards him briefly before he nods his assent to the girl. She beams, while her friends put on exaggerated pouts. There are still enough free men; they will find bed-mates tonight, if they really want.

Rodney looks away, unable to watch John leave the gathering area with the girl. He knows that he shouldn’t let it hurt him, but he can’t help that it does, just a little. Rodney jumps when a bone goes flying into the fire with a flash, reminding him of Ronon’s presence.

He glances over at the other man and says acerbically, “You know, you don’t have to baby-sit me. I’m perfectly capable of getting drunk and stumbling back to my cottage on my own. Why don’t you go find yourself a nice girl? I’m sure there’s a line up of them waiting for you.”

“What if I’m right where I want to be?” Ronon asks.

“Yeah, right.” Rodney rolls his eyes and takes a long drink. “Because I’m so much better company than a pretty girl.”

Ronon sighs and then reaches over and takes the mug out of Rodney’s hand.

“Hey! I’m not done with that!”

Ronon puts the drink down, shifts closer to Rodney, and cups his face in both hands. Rodney goes very, very still and he can feel his eyes go wide. Ronon leans in and kisses him once, softly and then says in a low voice that sends goose bumps down Rodney’s spine, “Will you share my bed this night?”

The soft pressure of Ronon’s fingers on his throat makes Rodney aware of just how fast his pulse is racing.

“Is this some kind of sick joke?” Rodney manages, trying to pull away. Ronon won’t let him. “I don’t need your pity.”

“It’s not pity, McKay – Rodney,” Ronon says and leans in again, brushing his lips softly over Rodney’s. “I would never mess with you like that. This is real. This is what I want.” Ronon’s fingers stroke gently over his face. “You can say no, Rodney. I won’t be angry.” Rodney’s continued silence gives Ronon the wrong impression and his hands start to slip away, and his face falls in disappointment.

Rodney puts his hands over Ronon’s and stops them. He looks at Ronon and thinks about all of the casual touches that don’t seem so casual anymore, thinks about how safe he feels when he’s with Ronon, thinks about how handsome Ronon looks with the firelight, flickering along his skin, making it look like golden silk. Feeling like he’s about to have a heart attack any moment, Rodney says very quietly, “Yes.”

Ronon smiles and then pulls Rodney into a longer, fiercer kiss than the previous two. Rodney’s hands clutch at Ronon’s shirt, shocked by how quickly his body is responding to a simple press of lips. Ronon swipes his tongue over Rodney’s lips and before he knows it, his mouth is open and Ronon’s tongue is curled around his and he’s trying to climb onto Ronon’s lap, desperate to get closer.

Rodney breaks free with a gasp. “Oh God, I’m sorry, I…it’s....” he fumbles for words, trying to express his embarrassment.

Ronon chuckles, a dirty sound that makes Rodney’s already hard dick throb. “Nothing wrong with a little enthusiasm, Rodney.” Ronon stands, pulling Rodney up with him as he goes. “But I think maybe we should get to your cottage before I tear your clothes off in front of all these people.”

Rodney can’t stop the shudder of lust that goes through him at Ronon’s words, not even the sudden realization that there are, in fact, at least a dozen other people still scattered around the various fires. He tries not to be too mortified as he lets Ronon guide him away from the gathering, his hand large and warm on the small of Rodney’s back.

By the time they enter the little thatch cabin that the Athosians have for visitors, some of Rodney’s desperation has waned, but all that means is that he doesn’t try to climb Ronon like a tree when he shoves him up against the side of the wall and kisses him so hard that Rodney’s convinced there’s going to be bruises.

Ronon starts tugging at his clothes, and most of them are in a pile around his feet before Rodney realizes it and that’s when the panic sets in. His brain goes into overdrive – he’s never done this with a man before; what exactly does ‘this’ entail; Ronon’s huge; it’s probably proportional, and on and on. His heart trip hammers in his chest and he starts to feel just a little overwhelmed.

Rodney pulls away from Ronon and backs up, sitting down abruptly onto the bedding when his feet get tangled in his pants, which are pooled around his ankles. Ronon drops down and Rodney’s breath catches in his throat at the intensity of the spike of lust that bolts through him at the sight of such a proud man on his knees before him. He reaches out a trembling hand and runs it down Ronon’s dreadlocks while Ronon gets to work on his boots, so that he can pull Rodney’s pants all the way off. When they’re gone and Rodney’s half-sprawled wearing nothing but his boxer shorts, with Ronon’s hands traveling up his thighs, Rodney finally squeaks out, “Ronon.”

Ronon looks up and must see the panic in Rodney’s eyes because his fingers stop. “What’s wrong?” he asks.

“I think I’m freaking out,” Rodney says, breathlessly.

Ronon sits back. “Oh, okay. We can stop.” His voice is drenched in disappointment, but his hands move away from Rodney’s body.

Rodney sits up and grabs Ronon by the wrist. “Are you nuts?” he exclaims. “I’ve never been so turned on in my life.” Rodney looks extremely embarrassed. “Just, uh, slow down a bit, maybe? Let me get used to the idea?”

Ronon smiles. “All right. I can do slow.” Ronon settles down on his side, beside Rodney and waits for Rodney to join him. He strokes his hand slowly down Rodney’s side and leans in for a soft kiss. Rodney kisses back and they trade long, slow, wet kisses until the tension goes out of Rodney. Rodney’s fingers find their way under Ronon’s shirt and he slides his hand over Ronon’s warm skin. Not long after, Ronon’s shirt joins Rodney’s in the pile near the door when he flings it over his shoulder. The kisses get more intense, more desperate, and Ronon rolls half-way on top of Rodney, his thigh falling between Rodney’s legs. Rodney arches up against it. And then promptly freezes when he feels Ronon’s erection pressing into his thigh.

Ronon slows everything down again, going back to lazy kisses and gentle hands, sliding along his skin. Ronon’s lips slide down Rodney’s throat, the rasp of his goatee sensitizing the skin before Ronon’s tongue swipes along it. Rodney gasps and arches against Ronon. Ronon slides lower and lower until he reaches a nipple – he licks and Rodney moans; he sucks and Rodney’s back arches right off the bedding, a jolt of sensation going straight to his cock; he nips lightly and Rodney grabs at his head and pulls him up for a desperate kiss, his hips rocking upward into Ronon’s body. Ronon growls softly and grinds against Rodney.

Any leftover trepidation gone in a haze of lust, all Rodney wants to do is come. He desperately thrusts against Ronon. Ronon works his hand between them and pulls at Rodney’s boxers, exposing Rodney’s erection to the air. Rodney gasps and then moans when Ronon’s hand wraps around it, his thumb playing slowly with the slit and his forefinger finding that bundle of nerves right by the head. Ronon guides Rodney’s hand to the fastenings on his pants and Rodney gets the hint and starts to undo them, cursing the laces the whole time, his coordination completely gone.

Once his cock is freed, Ronon rolls all the way on top of Rodney, and curls his body so that he can keep kissing Rodney, while their cocks rub against each other. Rodney curves his hands around Ronon’s ass, pulling him closer as he arches up, trying to get as much friction as possible.

Ronon’s mouth trails along his jaw and down his throat to his shoulder. Ronon sucks hard on his skin. On some level, Rodney knows it’s going to leave a mark, but he can’t seem to care, probably because at that moment, the most intense orgasm he’s ever had rips through him, whiting out all of the thoughts in his head. He clutches at Ronon’s ass, grinding upward against him. Ronon growls when he comes, his cock spurting hot and wet against Rodney’s groin.

They both collapse, gasping for air and Rodney realizes that he must have drifted off for a while, because when he opens his eyes again, he’s cleaned up and draped over Ronon. Rodney yawns, sits up, and tries to figure out where his clothes ended up. A large, warm hand rests lightly on his back.

“Where are you going?” Ronon mumbles sleepily.

“I thought, maybe, I should, uh, go?” Rodney says, haltingly.

“Or you could lay back down and go back to sleep.” The hand slides up and curves over his shoulder, tugging gently.

Rodney thinks about it for a couple of seconds and then settles back down against Ronon’s side. Ronon slips his arm over Rodney and holds him close as he pulls the blankets tighter around them.

A week after the festival, Rodney’s back on the team. He and John are walking behind Ronon and Teyla as they make their way back to the gate after a very successful trading mission.

“So,” John drawls. “You and Ronon, huh?”

Rodney ducks his head, but John can see the big grin. “Yeah.”

After a moment’s silence, Rodney says, “Aren’t you supposed to be asking me if it’s going to screw up the team?”

“Probably, but I figure it was Ronon that got you back on the team in the first place, so I think I’ll just let it go…for now,” John says. It gets quiet again, and then John says very awkwardly, “You seem…happy.”

“I am,” Rodney replies. “It’s kind of weird, actually. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know?”

John nods. A few minutes later, he says, “C’mon, stop dawdling, let’s get back to Atlantis and give Elizabeth the good news.”

“Dawdling? I’ll have you know that this is a perfectly acceptable leisurely pace,” Rodney grouses.

“Sure, if you’re a grandma,” John replies, his face breaking out into a grin as he lengthens his stride slightly.

Rodney makes an inarticulate sound and then launches into a rant about long-legged, skinny Colonels who don’t understand the meaning of the word leisurely.

They enter the gate bickering, and arrive at Atlantis a nanosecond later, still bickering, much to everyone’s amusement.