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Summary: Story 1 summary: Enemies, green beans, oatmeal, and a cart. Really. (Stories 1-30 are archived as chapters of a single story, but each is a completed standalone.)
All stories are McKay/Sheppard unless otherwise specified.
*Stories whose primary pairing is NOT McKay/Sheppard
+Stories with additional explicit pairings beyond McKay/Sheppard

*2. Doing What Comes Naturally ~ Beckett/Zelenka, McShep
+3. Gender Bender ~ McKay/Sheppard, Beckett/Zelenka, Grodin/ofc (Lindstrom)
+4. What Kavanagh Saw ~ McKay/Sheppard, Beckett/Zelenka, Teyla/Sora UST, Grodin/ofc (Lindstrom)
*7. Therapy ~ Beckett/Zelenka, McShep implied
*10. Welcome to the Madhouse ~ Maj. Lorne/Sgt. "Bryan"
*16. Positive Reinforcement ~ Beckett/Zelenka
*23. Same Time, New Galaxy ~ Cadman/O'Neill 2.0, McKay/Sheppard, Bates/Lindstrom (ofc), Beckett/Zelenka, Weir/Davis
*25. Rodney's Revenge ~ Beckett/Zelenka, McKay/Sheppard
*28. The Best Team ~ Weir/Davis


Updated: 01 Jun 2008; Published: 11 Aug 2005

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Another day in the Pegasus galaxy, another world full of potential allies who would probably end up trying to kill them in horrible and painful ways. A typical day in the life of Major John Sheppard and his team, much to the major's occasional bemusement. His brief moment of introspection was interrupted by McKay's whining about the planet's insects, which he was sure he was allergic to. Sheppard rolled his eyes as he turned to face the scientist.

"The Athosians have been trading with these people for centuries, McKay, and no one's died of an insect bite yet, have they, Teyla?" The dusky-skinned Athosian woman shook her head in response. "See, perfectly safe."

"So says the man who almost died from an insect bite and would have if I hadn't fixed the pods on the puddle jumper," Rodney muttered as he stepped over a stagnant looking puddle, looking back at it as it seemed the water had surged upward at his boot.

Sheppard rolled his eyes. "That wasn't exactly a mosquito." He still couldn't prevent a wary look around, the memory prompting a shudder. "And the water's not going to attack you."

"Well, it could if it's like that sentient water on the planet the Russians connected to when they had a stargate," Ford mused, enjoying getting the paranoid scientist going.

"And who's to say this isn't some distant relative to it?" McKay shot back, turning to look at the puddle, then starting when he walked into Sheppard, who had stopped when Teyla did.

"My people have visited the Reydians many times," Teyla informed him. "In all the years that we have done so and the even longer time that the Reydians have inhabited this world, no one has ever encountered living water. I believe we should have done so before now if such existed."

"Yeah, what she said," Sheppard chimed in.

Rodney sighed even as he glared at Ford, who was trying to suppress a grin. "Fine, so I'll just worry about being eaten alive by these damn bugs! I should have brought my shield!"

"It's drained of power," Sheppard pointed out. "So it'll be no help this time when I shoot you!"

McKay's grumbling response was robbed of some of its power by the fact that he had to stop and smack at his neck in the middle of his diatribe.

"You're supposed to be a genius, so I'm sure you can master walking and hitting yourself at the same time," Sheppard instructed. "Move, McKay!"

McKay bit back his comment that he could certainly manage to walk and hit Sheppard at the same time and gave a smile that was more of a grimace. "Whatever you say, Major." It was times like these when he wondered why he'd bothered to save the man's life, and then he looked at Sheppard's ass and was reminded.

"Ah, music to my ears," Sheppard announced with a quirky grin. "Lead on, Teyla."

Ford snickered as he fell in at the rear, the entire team having learned that it was best to keep someone behind McKay to prevent him from falling behind and being lost.

"It isn't far now," she promised, following the right hand branch when the trail forked.

"Not far now," McKay repeated an hour later when they were still walking.

Sheppard hated to admit it, but he was sympathizing with McKay's position. "Um, he has a point, Teyla. Is this village even on the planet that we're on?"

"The people of this planet are migratory, but they are usually here at this time of the year." She frowned as she looked around at the thick forest.

"I heard a 'usually' in that sentence," McKay commented.

Teyla shot him an irritated look even as Sheppard nodded. "We can't just wander around this planet hoping to stumble across someone," he pointed out.

"I am sure the Reydians must be nearby," Teyla insisted.

"Okay then, you and Ford continue on while McKay and I head back to the jumper so we can scan for life signs. We'll come back and pick you up once we track the elusive natives."

"I can just wait here, and we can do the scans after you pick me up," McKay suggested after Ford and Teyla continued down the narrow trail.

"Nobody stays alone on an alien planet. You may have heard of the buddy system?" Sheppard replied implacably.

"And you may have heard of cardiac arrest--or are you that anxious to give me mouth to mouth?"

"Oh, quit whining and walk, McKay. There's a nice, comfy seat in the puddle jumper waiting for you if you do."

McKay sighed and turned, lengthening his stride to catch up with Sheppard. "This would all be so much easier if the villagers had their villages near the gates, and I know, the Wraith; don't tell me."

"You really do like to hear yourself talk, don't you?" Sheppard regarded him curiously, not about to admit that sometimes he liked listening to McKay.

"Well, it's the most intelligent conversation I'm going to get around here."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know; you're the smartest guy in two galaxies." Sheppard eyed the ground ahead of them, trying to remember which way they'd come, but finally he had to shrug and just start walking, hoping that they'd find something familiar.

McKay smirked. "It's good to be appreciated." He walked along beside Sheppard, his smile slowly dissolving into a frown as they continued on without any sign of the branching of the trail they'd passed. "Major, you do know where the ship is, don't you?"

"Of course I do. Right where we left it."

"In relation to us?"

"Ahead, of course."

"Ahead. Of course." McKay's tone dripped with incredulity. "Are you willing to bet on that?"

"What did you have in mind?" Sheppard retorted, unwilling to back down.

McKay chuckled. "That unsure of yourself, Major?"

Sheppard glared at the scientist. "I know exactly where the ship is!"

"Then why are you so worried about what the stakes are?"

"I wouldn't want to take you for too much."

"And just what is it you want to take?"

Sheppard had to bite back a wholly inappropriate response that even he didn't want to think about. And where the heck did that come from anyway? he wondered. "Hmm, lemme think... how 'bout one of those chocolate bars I know you have stashed away?"

McKay glowered, then he shrugged. "Sure, I mean considering you know where we are and all."

"Good." Sheppard trudged on for a bit. "Not that it's going to matter, of course, but what would you have wanted if you'd won?"

"That you'll find out when we don't find the ship before nightfall." For someone who'd been bemoaning the planet and its flora and fauna since they'd arrived, McKay seemed in very cheery spirits.

Sheppard shot a wary glance over his shoulder, suddenly worrying. "Stakes are normally agreed to beforehand," he pointed out.

"I thought you were sure you knew where we were?"

"That doesn't mean we shouldn't do this properly."

"Since when were either of us men who followed the rules?" McKay asked, his blue eyes sparkling with amusement.

Major John Sheppard, a decorated combat veteran who'd faced down enemies in two galaxies, swallowed hard at the look in those eyes. Suddenly he found himself hoping for something to attack them. Anything to distract Rodney. "Sometimes the rules exist for a reason," he argued feebly.

"To protect you?" McKay asked.

There was no good answer to that question, and Sheppard increased the pace, intent on getting back to the safety of the puddle jumper as soon as possible.

"Never knew you to run from anything, Major," McKay called, idly scratching at the back of his neck where another bug had bitten him.

Sheppard stopped in his tracks and swung around to give the scientist an unfriendly look. "I was trying to get us back to the ship as quickly as possible. You know, the ship that doesn't have any sentient water or life-threatening insects?"

"If you say so, John," McKay said mildly. "So get us there, and you won't have to worry about any of this."

Now Sheppard was really worried. He wasn't entirely certain, but he thought that an almost polite Rodney McKay might be a sign of the coming apocalypse. And even if it wasn't, it couldn't bode well for him.

He started walking again, not without frequent glances at McKay. "I really think I should know what the stakes are," he tried again after a few minutes.

"Why?" Rodney asked, enjoying having Sheppard off balance for once. "You said you knew where... and there it is. Guess I owe you a chocolate bar."

John the jumper a look of pure relief, then turned a narrow-eyed gaze back on Rodney. "So what were the stakes?"

"Why does it matter?"

"Because I want to know, damn it!"

"Why?" Rodney asked again, looking back over his shoulder at the other man.

Sheppard actually growled. "Because it's only fair! You knew what you were putting up; I should too."

"But you won; what does it matter?"

"It just does, okay! So give!"

Eyebrows rising at the tone, McKay shrugged and stepped closer. "Okay, I'll give." With that, he raised a hand, caught Sheppard by the back of the neck, and pulled him down and into a kiss.

When McKay let go, Sheppard remained motionless, aside from the slow blinking of dazed green-hazel eyes that were fixed on the smug scientist. "I see," he said finally, straightening up and unconsciously licking his lips. "But now you took the stakes when you didn't even win. I guess I'll just have to take them back."

And it was the major's turn to kiss Rodney.

McKay took a deep breath, somewhat surprised that Sheppard hadn't laid him out on his back, and groaned when John's tongue invaded his mouth. "So, does this mean I get to keep my chocolate?" he asked once he could speak again.

"Hell no! I won that fair and square, thanks to your lack of faith in me. But I might be convinced to share it with you." Sheppard eyed him searchingly, more than a little confused by what was happening between them. He liked Rodney and in fact had come to consider him a good friend, but he hadn't really considered him in a sexual way. Until now.

"And just what do I need to do to convince you to share with me?"

"I haven't decided yet. But it'll have to wait till we get back to Atlantis, so you have plenty of time to come up with ideas after we retrieve Ford and Teyla and find these elusive villagers." Sheppard opened the jumper with a thought and settled comfortably into the pilot's seat. Another thought had the craft rising into the air.

Leaning back into his own seat, McKay sighed. "Time is what worries me."

"I'm not going to change my mind after I have a chance to think about it, if that's what's worrying you," John said with a sideways glance. "It's not like I've never done anything like this before; I just never considered us."

"I'm going to consider myself flattered then." McKay paused. "Or annoyed." There was a blip on the screen in front of them, and he pointed at it. "There are Lt. Ford and Teyla."

"And still no sign of anyone else." Sheppard frowned at the display. "We're going to have to investigate. We need to know if the Wraith have already been here and wiped out everyone." He found a clearing a bit ahead of their other two team members and set the jumper down to wait for them to arrive.

"Have I mentioned how much I love looking for the Wraith?" McKay asked.

Sheppard snorted. "Sure, about as much as you love lemonade," he said wryly. "Don't worry, we're looking for people or a deserted village, not the Wraith themselves. I'm fairly certain we'd have noticed by now if they were still here."

McKay shuddered at the thought of it, but looked up expectantly when Teyla and Ford climbed in the jumper. "So, any ideas of where to go next?"

"Forward?" Ford suggested, apparently having been taking lessons in navigation from Major Sheppard. John snickered.

"The mountain range ahead of us and slightly to the left is the farthest I have ever known the Reydians to range. If we go that way, we will surely find some sign of them," Teyla said.

"So we're heading there now, Major?" Ford asked.

"It would seem so." Sheppard angled the puddle jumper toward the point Teyla suggested, and all four of them scanned the ground and readouts for any signs of the missing natives.

"There!" Teyla exclaimed, pointing to a bright spot on the monitor.

"So much for the chocolate," McKay murmured, earning him strange looks from Ford and Teyla.

"It'll still be there," Sheppard mumbled, causing the now speculative looks to swing from McKay to him. As they drew nearer the source of the readings, they saw a disorganized group of people, looking rather the worse for wear.

"Looks like the Wraith beat us here," Sheppard said softly, picking a spot and guiding the jumper into a landing.

"Shit," McKay murmured, looking at the destroyed huts as they flew over them.

"Yeah," Ford echoed sadly.

"That doesn't look like a typical Wraith attack." Sheppard frowned. "Were there different tribes that might have gone to war, Teyla?"

The Athosian woman shook her head slowly. "No, the people of this planet were peaceful traders. Several tribes, yes, but there has been no history of warfare here since before the Ancients departed."

"Wonderful," John sighed. "So we have a new and unknown enemy who's capable of destroying entire villages."

"With flight capabilities, sir," Ford added. "Some of that wreckage looks like the result of bombing or strafing runs."

"Elizabeth is just going to love this. Aren't the Wraith enough of a problem for one galaxy?" Sheppard grumbled.

"Well, we should get down there and see if we can find anything out." When Sheppard and Ford looked at him incredulously, McKay bristled. "I'd rather know something about these new boogeymen than just that they exist!"

"A most sensible position," Teyla agreed, making the two officers sigh and give up. Either McKay's whiny pushiness or Teyla's polite stubbornness they could overcome, but both together? Not a chance.

Sheppard landed the ship at the edge of the village. "We stay together," he warned. "We have no idea what happened here and what might remain, including unexploded rounds if Ford's right."

Ford nodded his agreement and McKay did as well. "Though if you could find some of that ordinance, studying it might tell us about the race that created it..."

"I am not bringing live rounds through a gate," Sheppard said emphatically. "We have no idea how it's made. For all we know, going through a wormhole could be what sets it off."

McKay grumbled but couldn't argue that. "Fine, fine, can we bring pieces back at least?"

"Ask Ford; he's the munitions expert," Sheppard replied, happily making Ford McKay's target for the moment.

"I'll have to see it first," Ford said hastily, shooting his commanding officer a dirty look.

"I will speak with the survivors," Teyla announced as Sheppard landed the jumper and opened the hatch.

Ford followed the Athosian, and McKay was hot on his heels, determined not to miss anything.

Shaking his head, Sheppard followed the rest of his team, senses alert for anything out of the ordinary. Something about this just didn't feel right. Though he had to admit that it could have been because this village reminded him of far too many others he'd seen in war zones.

***

"I've never seen anything like this..." Rodney was splayed flat out on the ground, half under a battered hut, examining the remains of an alien missile.

"This from the man who made an atomic bomb for his sixth grade science fair," Sheppard mumbled. "Is that good or bad?" he asked more loudly.

"Good in that it isn't Goa'uld or Wraith; bad in that I have no idea who made it." Rodney half twisted to look back at Sheppard.

"Oh yay, a new enemy, just what we needed this week." Sheppard sighed. "And more advanced than the Genii if they have flight capability. You're sure it's not Genii, right?" he asked hopefully even though he knew it wasn't possible.

McKay sighed. "No, it isn't the Genii; I wish it was since we have enough different races after our asses right now." He shook his head and began to crawl backward out of the hollow.

Sheppard offered him a hand, drawing Rodney to his feet. "So, more advanced than the Genii or anyone else we've met in this galaxy, less advanced than the Ancients. How 'bout us? More or less advanced?"

"From what I can tell from examining this one small item, on a par with us--and that's us using the Ancients' technology." He let go of Sheppard's hand and dusted himself off. "Let's hope we don't meet them before we get to know a little more about them."

Sheppard stared at him in dismay. "On par? So not what I wanted to hear, McKay." He eyed the missile unhappily. "Let's go find Teyla and find out if any of the survivors know who their attackers were."

McKay nodded, then quirked a smile. "If it makes you feel better, I can lie and tell you they dropped stones out of hang gliders."

That forced a snort of laughter out of Sheppard. "You're all heart, McKay." Shaking his head, he made sure McKay was following him and moved back toward the jumper, hoping Teyla and Ford would already be there. Suddenly, he was eager to leave this planet as soon as possible.

***

"So we have no idea who this new threat is or where they're from?"

"As I've said several times already, Dr. Weir, no."

Sheppard had to bite back a snicker as McKay targeted Elizabeth with his trademark biting sarcasm. He met her suspicious glance with an angelic expression of innocence, not that it would fool anyone who knew him.

"The survivors said that it had been almost a year since the attack and they have no idea who they were or why they attacked," Teyla repeated.

"All we have to go on is their description of the flyers and the mortar pieces we found," Ford added.

McKay nodded. "Hopefully there will be something in the databases here that will help us identify them, but until then..."

"More unknowns," Elizabeth sighed.

"Just another day in the life of the Atlantis expedition." Sheppard smiled wryly when they all looked at him. "What, it's true! We don't know a whole lot more than we did when we walked through the stargate."

"That being the case, perhaps we can end this meeting so I can try to find something out?"

The expedition leader and the senior military officer exchanged amused looks. "We seem to have been dismissed," Sheppard half-laughed while Dr. Weir nodded and dismissed the meeting. At loose ends with no missions planned for a few days, Sheppard decided to follow Rodney and see if he could help.

"Looking for that chocolate bar already, Major?" McKay asked, glancing back over his shoulder at the other man.

"A bet's a bet," Sheppard replied, willing to take any excuse offered.

"They aren't in the lab, so you might have to wait a while."

"I can wait." Now that McKay had aroused his interest, the major was curious enough to want to hang around and see what would happen next.

McKay paused at that. "Just don't touch anything."

"Funny, that's not what you usually say. You're usually shoving things at me for me to touch them." Sheppard slouched in one of the chairs, long legs extended in front him and crossed at the ankles, his eyes intent on Rodney.

"That's Ancient technology, this isn't." McKay quirked a grin. "I could think of a few things you can touch though it might distract me."

"Right here in the lab? What kind of guy do you think I am?" Sheppard chuckled. "And wouldn't someone notice if we locked the door?"

Rodney looked up from the fragments that were laid out on one of the sensor arrays. "Do you really want an answer to that question, Major?"

"Have you often known me to ask questions that I didn't want an answer to?" Sheppard replied, dark brows winging upward. With a thought, he locked the doors to the lab so that only someone with a stronger affinity to Ancient technology--which was to say no one in that galaxy--could open them before he did.

"I meant what kind of guy I think you are," McKay observed wryly.

"Ah, well, that could be better answered by actions than words, don't you think?" John had no problem with people underestimating him, though he knew that McKay actually knew better. And he was perfectly willing to play the slut if that would get him what he wanted.

"Hrmmm, and here I thought you were concerned about this new threat to our health and prosperity."

"It's been a year since the attack on that planet, which is nowhere near here. I hardly think the threat is imminent. Sure, we need to deal with it, but not at the expense of sleeping... or anything else, at least for now."

"True, but how about we compromise? Let me get the scans running; you don't be distracting; and I'll show you where I keep my chocolate."

"Okay," John shrugged. Another thought unlocked the doors since they weren't going to be doing anything that required privacy, and he slouched deeper into the chair, making himself comfortable. Experience had taught him that everything took longer than Rodney said it would when he got caught up in his work; John just hoped that he was enough of a distraction to get them out of there fairly soon.

An hour later, Rodney straightened and rubbed his lower back. "All right, even with this technology, this could take a while."

"Then you can fill the time by paying up on our bet," John announced, standing up and stretching hugely, his black t-shirt riding up to expose a taut abdomen.

McKay's gaze dropped to the bare flash, and he swallowed to wet his suddenly dry mouth as he wondered just how he had gone from the stalker to the stalkee in this game he and Sheppard were playing. Watching Rodney's eyes, Sheppard grinned hugely and took a step nearer, now stretching his arms behind him to keep his shirt up.

"Bastard," McKay muttered, "you're enjoying this too much for my own good."

Sheppard's grin just got wider. "Isn't that the point?"

"No," Rodney nearly sputtered, "the point is that we both enjoy it!"

"Oh, we will," John promised. "Otherwise it's no fun for anyone."

"Well, that I can agree with." They left the lab, and McKay automatically headed for his quarters, then paused and glanced at Sheppard. "Unless you'd be more comfortable in your own bed, Major." His smirk was slight but noticeable.

"Oh, I can make myself at home anywhere," Sheppard replied, amused by Rodney's attempt to intimidate him, if that was what it was. "And since we're here..." He opened the door to Rodney's quarters and waited for McKay to go inside.

"The door was locked, you know," Rodney sighed, shaking his head and smiling ruefully. "And yes, I know you're comfortable anywhere--as do half the women of the tribes we've met."

Sheppard shrugged. "I think the city likes me," he admitted. "I haven't run into a lock I couldn't open yet. And I have not slept with every woman I've met. Or even half," he added hastily when he saw Rodney's mouth open to reply.

"A third then."

"Possibly a total of three," Sheppard growled, his hazel eyes narrowing. He might have been too quick to decide he didn't mind McKay thinking he was a slut; in fact, he minded a great deal.

"And how many men?" Rodney asked, all false innocence.

"Excuse me, small population, more than half of them my subordinates, so none!" John glared at him.

"I meant on the away trips, not here."

"I don't make a habit of fraternizing with the natives or the enemy while on missions!" John's frown grew darker.

Deciding a grumpy John Sheppard wasn't what he wanted to deal with right now, Rodney smiled. "Good," he murmured, before pulling John into another kiss, this one more leisurely than the one on the planet, giving him time to taste and explore the other man's mouth.

All his annoyance instantly forgotten, Sheppard slid his hands over Rodney's ass, drawing him closer. It had been a long time since he'd had a man in his arms, but it felt even better than he remembered. The hardness of McKay's body against his, fitting so perfectly, made him groan his appreciation.

Rodney tasted of coffee and powerbars, and underlying that was a flavor that was pure Rodney, a taste that John wanted more of.

"Better now?" Rodney asked, grinning slightly as he could feel just how good John was feeling. Strong fingers gripped his ass, and he tightened his fingers in John's hair, enjoying the low groan that engendered.

"I guess I can stand to be considered a slut if it makes you do that," John murmured, licking his lips while rocking his hips against Rodney, pressing his hardening cock into his thigh.

McKay shook his head and slid his mouth along John's jaw to nip at his earlobe. "Actually, I like the idea that you're finicky," he rasped.

"Then I guess I can admit that the closest I've come to sex in this galaxy--until now--was a few kisses with Chaya." John let his head fall to the side, shuddering with pleasure at the sensation of Rodney's teeth on him.

"Hmm, we'll have to get you closer then." As he spoke, Rodney slid his hands under John's t-shirt, running them over the flat planes that had so tormented him earlier.

"Sounds like a plan." John's fists clenched at his sides as he fought to remain still rather than grabbing McKay the way he wanted to. The light touch only made him want more, and his eyes watched Rodney's hand move over him while he bit his lip to hold in his moans.

Rodney murmured an affirmative as he leaned back enough to watch John watching him, at the same time sliding his shirt higher and baring the lean, toned chest to his gaze.

"Why'd we wait so long?" John breathed as he reached down to grasp the hem of his shirt and pull it off over his head.

"Those minor details of trying to power the station, survive the Wraith, find food and trade partners... Trifles really." Rodney licked his lips as he studied John's bare chest, his hands following the trail his eyes blazed.

"I should have been paying more attention to finding a bed partner." John's back arched as he enjoyed the pressure of Rodney's palms on his skin. "There was one right under my nose."

"I hope that's not a height comment."

Instead of answering, John sank to his knees and nuzzled Rodney's groin, rubbing his face against the growing hardness.

Rodney swayed, steadying himself by resting a hand on John's shoulder. "Height differences are good," he rasped. "Very good in fact."

"I've always thought so too," John replied, grinning up at him with his chin resting on Rodney's erection. The almost dazed expression in the blue eyes focused on him made John swallow hard as his cock jumped, the visible arousal hotter than he could ever have imagined.

Without looking away, Sheppard began to mouth Rodney through his clothes. The soft sounds of lust from his scientist made him eager to find out what Rodney would sound like when he came. Just as eager to taste McKay, John fumbled with the suddenly complicated fastenings of Rodney's belt and pants, finally managing to free him. He inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with the musky scent of another man's arousal, and groaned at the growing constriction of his own pants.

"You know," Rodney gasped, bracing himself against the wall, his fingers tightening in John's unruly hair, "I'm considered to be pretty damn good with my mouth too; if we move to the bed, I could reciprocate."

That had John on his feet so fast he should have had whiplash. "You really are a genius." He grinned as he backed toward the bed, working on his remaining clothes as he went.

"So glad you noticed," Rodney said dryly as he walked carefully over to the bed and sat so he could remove his boots and pants. After tugging off his shirt, he looked over to where John was lounging against his pillows and swallowed hard; the man was fucking gorgeous, and he knew it.

"Damn, you look good enough to eat," Sheppard breathed fervently, his hazel eyes dark with arousal as he drank in Rodney. Though the scientist carried a very little extra weight, he was solid, the many missions through the gate having burnt off all but the slightest softness. John thought he looked perfect, and his cock twitched against his belly, demonstrating his interest.

Rodney gave a low laugh, relaxing under John's scrutiny. "I thought that was the plan, Major," he answered, swiveling so that his head was even with John's erection. After taking a moment to admire the full length of it, he leaned in and licked the head, making a small noise of pleasure as the salty, musky flavor exploded over his tongue.

John inhaled sharply, not daring to take Rodney into his mouth yet, not until the first shock of pleasure ebbed and he could be sure of paying attention to what he was doing. After a moment, he ran a caressing hand over Rodney's hip and thigh and nuzzled his cock again, this time without any barrier between them.

The slight rasp of John's five o'clock shadow over Rodney's groin made him groan, and he arched forward, needing more contact even as he licked John's shaft again, this time working from the base to the head.

Timing it perfectly, John opened his mouth and let Rodney slide in when he thrust. His hand curled around the base of Rodney's cock, preventing him from going too far yet, and he hummed his pleasure at the taste filling his mouth.

Rodney shuddered and concentrated on John's cock so as to keep from coming there on the spot. Managing to relegate the exquisite sensation of that hot, sucking mouth to the back of his mind for the moment, he concentrated on John's taste, on the feeling of all that warm, solid flesh under him, and on just exactly what he could do to make John moan.

John shuddered, his legs spreading wider as Rodney proved just how good at this he was. Never one to be outdone, John slid a finger into his mouth alongside the thick cock, teasing Rodney's shaft with light flicking motions as he did. Once satisfied that the digit was as slick as saliva could make it, he pulled it free, trailing along Rodney's cock on the way out, and pressed it between McKay's cheeks, teasing his opening.

Another moan rumbled over John's erection as McKay spread his legs wider, offering himself to John's exploration. At the same time, he slid a hand up John's leg to stroke and fondle his balls as he sucked harder, wanting to taste more of John's flavor.

Without even realizing he was doing it, John was rocking back and forth, fucking Rodney's mouth, unable to hold still. He had three fingers in McKay's ass by now, and while the blowjob felt incredible, he wanted more. "Wanna fuck you," he rasped out, forcing heavy-lidded eyes open to look down the length of his body at Rodney.

Rodney pulled back, taking a moment to work his jaw to that he could close it. "I have no problem with that."

"I love an agreeable man," Sheppard rasped, carefully pulling Rodney up to face him without removing his fingers from the other man's ass. "Lube?" he asked.

"Where do you think it is?" Rodney asked in his normal acerbic tone though it was a bit breathless.

John rolled his eyes before fumbling in the nightstand until he grasped the bottle of lotion. "Dry hands, huh?" he smirked. He squirted some into the palm of one hand and rubbed them together to warm it up before stroking it onto his cock.

Rodney pushed up on his elbows, glaring at John though his eyes tracked the other man's every move. "Yeah," he muttered, "same as you have, I'm sure."

"Let's see if we can give our hands a rest then, shall we?" John settled into position with the head of his cock just kissing Rodney's entrance.

Rodney slid his hands up John's back to dig his fingers into the firm shoulders. "Or put them to other uses," he chuckled, bringing his legs back and urging John on.

"Sheer genius," John replied with a grin that faltered and relaxed into an expression of pure ecstasy as he sank into Rodney for the first time. "Oh God, so good, tight, perfect," he moaned.

It took a moment for Rodney to speak, and he breathed deeply to get through the momentary pain. "Of course I am," he rasped though he clenched down around John as he spoke.

"Ass," John laughed. He could see the grimace of pain on Rodney's face, and he reached between them to stroke McKay's flagging erection, distracting him from the discomfort and bringing him back to full hardness.

"That would be what you're in," Rodney said agreeably before gasping when John shifted inside him, the motion helping renew his erection.

"And a very nice ass it is." John rocked gently inside him, moving only the tiniest bit for now until Rodney could grow accustomed to him.

"It's--ahh--always good to be appreciated." John's thrusts brushed his cock against Rodney's prostate, and the scientist moaned deep in his throat, his body arching off the bed. "I'm not going to break, you know."

"No, but it's not a race to the finish line either. Just enjoy it, Rodney," John murmured before silencing him with a deep kiss.

Somewhat annoyed that Sheppard cut off his comeback, Rodney decided somewhere in the middle of the kiss that it really didn't matter and that John Sheppard was really good at this. "I suppose I could do that," he panted once he could speak again, and tightened his ass down around John's cock at the same time.

"Oh God. Well, faster isn't awful either," John admitted. He grinned crookedly and kissed Rodney again, starting a rhythm of longer, harder thrusts.

Rodney pulled back to look up into John's hazel eyes, enjoying the fact that they were half-closed and the knowledge that he was the one who had put that expression there. "I thought it's what you fly-boys lived for," he gasped, tightening down again at the same time he arched upward, striving for more contact on his cock.

"I don't think either of us wants me fucking you at Mach 1!" John laughed, the sound broken by his groan when Rodney clenched on him. He braced himself on one arm, the other hand reaching between them to begin jerking Rodney off in counterpoint to his thrusts.

"Wouldn't--God, John--want to have to explain the friction burns to Carson."

"He'd make those weird Scottish noises at us." John started moving faster, the look on Rodney's face just then almost enough to make him come on its own.

"Weird Scottish..." Rodney's brain short-circuited when John slammed into his prostate at the same time he tightened his hold on Rodney's cock, and he was coming, but he certainly wasn't making the whining, needy noises he could hear.

John wanted to hold on, wanted to watch Rodney come and listen to those incredibly hot sounds he made as he did, but he couldn't. Seeing, hearing, smelling, and most of all feeling Rodney come apart around him was too much for one Air Force major, and only moments later he was coming as well, emptying himself into Rodney's depths.

Wondering if he was going to have a heart attack--and wouldn't this be a lovely scene for Carson and his staff to walk--no run, they'd be running if he were in danger--in on--Rodney panted for breath, his arms clenched around John's sweaty back, breathing becoming even more difficult when John collapsed on top of him. "Owowowowow, leg joints aren't meant to bend that way, Major," he whined, trying to scoot out from under John's weight.

"So much for post-coital bliss," John grumbled. He raised himself on shaky arms till he could carefully pull out of Rodney, making both of them hiss, and he dropped to one side, facing the still complaining scientist.

"You weren't the one with your hips being dislocated," Rodney shot back, though he did shift to keep an arm around John. "And has anyone told you that you're really noisy during sex?"

John's eyebrows rose until they nearly disappeared into his hair. "I am noisy? Rodney..." He shook his head. "Never mind. Shut up and go to sleep. That's what guys do after really great sex, remember?"

"Hmm, good point." Rodney rearranged them both to his comfort, that being with John flat on his back and his head on the major's shoulder. That done, it was easy to fall asleep, the slight soreness in his ass a pleasurable reminder of the evening.

John stared down at the dark head on his shoulder, eyes wide with surprise. "Huh. Well, what do you know, I found a way to make him do what he's told." He grinned widely, brushed a kiss over the top of Rodney's head, and closed his own eyes, falling asleep only moments later.

***

Rodney woke craving a cup of coffee and a trip to the washroom the next morning. One was impossible given their depleted stores, but the other... He started to sit up, then realized his arm was trapped under his pillow--his moving, breathing pillow that looked remarkably like Air Force Major John Sheppard. His sore muscles protested the movement, reminding Rodney all too well just what they'd done the night before.

Not at all sure why John had agreed to this, Rodney decided to enjoy what might be the last moments of this contact he might have and ignored his bladder to hold himself still and watch the major sleep.

The sensation of someone watching him woke Sheppard, and unlike Rodney, he remembered instantly why there was someone snuggled up against him in a bed that wasn't his own. One hazel eye opened to peer blearily at his bedmate. "Morning, Rodney."

"Good morning, John. How'd you sleep?" It was inane conversation, and Rodney hated inanity, but what else was there?

"The sleep of the sated," John grinned. "So how do you feel about morning quickies and shower sex, and which room should we sleep in tonight?"

"I..." Rodney gave himself a small shake and recovered. "Good, good and I suppose we could try yours." He smiled at the last.

"Turnabout, huh? That mean you wanna top this time?" John asked, his expression giving no clue what he thought of the possibility.

"Is this your way of giving me permission?" Rodney snorted.

John shrugged. "Just wondering if you like to go both ways. Me, I'm all for anything that feels good that we both agree to."

"Why, Major, I'm nothing if not flexible."

"Cool." John finally sat up and stretched, then slid easily out of the bed to pad nude toward the bathroom. At the doorway he paused to glance over his shoulder. "Shower sex?" he reminded Rodney.

Being caught staring open-mouthed at Sheppard's ass was one of the most embarrassing moments in Rodney's life--not quite as bad as having a hard on right before defending his dissertation, but definitely worse than Jack O'Neill catching him watching Samantha Carter's backside. "Yes, sex and a shower would be good," he said quickly, climbing out of bed and following after John.

"Cool," John said again, making sure that Rodney didn't see his grin. He turned on the shower, which automatically regulated itself to his preferred temperature without him even noticing the change, and stepped in after relieving himself, sighing with pleasure as the warm water pulsed over him.

Rodney followed, telling himself this wasn't making himself look like an idiot, especially considering he was duplicating John's movements, but the second he got under the water, he yelped. "What the--are you trying to freeze me?"

John stared, water trickling down his body. "What are you talking about? This water isn't cold, and I didn't change it anyhow. I just turned it on."

"It's cold, and it definitely isn't what I have it set for," Rodney spat, trying not to shiver under the water as he tried to reset the temperature without any success. "What did you do?"

"Nothing, honestly," John replied, looking and sounding bewildered. But it was obvious that Rodney really did find the water cold, so he mentally adjusted the water temperature to something warmer, about as hot as he could stand it, actually.

"Must have been a glitch," Rodney muttered, his ire fading away as the water warmed. His sense of well-being restored, he relaxed and rubbed his hands up John's chest. "Now then, you mentioned shower sex..."

John let his hands come to rest on Rodney's hips, and he tried to hide his amusement at how rapidly McKay's moods changed. "And judging by the way you were staring at my ass, you won't have any objection to pushing me up against this wall and doing me."

Deciding that mentioning that he thought they were waiting for that until that night as self-defeating, Rodney smirked. "You have any objection to liquid soap up your ass?"

"Naw, this stuff doesn't sting." John grinned again and turned around, bracing his hands against the wall with his legs spread and his ass outthrust.

"Experienced with it, are you?" Rodney asked, pressing up behind John and rubbing his body against the major's.

"I got it in my eyes, Rodney," John replied dryly, giving him a look over his shoulder.

"Ah hah." Rodney nodded, even as he squeezed the soap into his palm and rubbed it over John's chest, enjoying the way it lathered in his chest hair.

Enjoying the sensation, John straightened and turned to face him again, letting Rodney set the pace. "We already established that contrary to your lurid imaginings, I'm not the slut of the Pegasus galaxy, Rodney."

Rodney made a non-committal noise and continued stroking John's chest, his fingers finding and circling the now peaked nipples he found there. John rolled his eyes but decided not to argue about it again, at least not yet. Instead he arched his back, making soft sounds of pleasure as Rodney caressed him.

Liking those sounds and wanting more, Rodney pinched a nipple and leaned in to kiss John, letting his tongue roam over the other man's tongue as he continued to play with John's chest.

"God yeah," John breathed, his hands sliding up Rodney's broad back to clench on his shoulders, his hips slowly rocking as the touch aroused him.

"Turn around, John," Rodney murmured, matching word to action as he helped John shift position and lean against the wall. Back in the position he'd started from shortly before, John sighed his contentment with the situation and spread his legs wider, squirming slightly.

Nodding in satisfaction, Rodney dropped to his knees and rubbed his face against John's ass, his stubble rasping against the smooth skin. The sensation made John groan, and his fingers flexed against the wall. It felt so good, and it was even better that it was Rodney. Liking the noise, Rodney repeated the movement, this time flicking his tongue over John's ass, enjoying the texture even though the water made tasting the other man difficult.

Oh God, Rodney was... John made a noise that almost a mewl, his back arching as he thrust back. He hadn't been sure if Rodney would like this, not everyone did, but obviously he did, and he was fucking good at it, and John never wanted him to stop. Realizing that he was babbling mentally--and hoping he hadn't actually said any of it aloud--John tried to relax into the sensation.

Feeling a sense of satisfaction because he had told John he was noisy, Rodney grinned and ran his tongue up the crack of John's ass again, enjoying the reaction.

"Fuck, you can do that any time you want," John groaned.

"I'll remember that," Rodney smirked, biting John's cheek then delving back between them, teasing the tight opening with the tip of his tongue. Beyond speech, John only whimpered and writhed, his cock hard enough to drill a hole in the wall despite not having been touched. Enjoying this side of John, Rodney surged upward, nipping at John's shoulder as he slotted his cock between John's cheeks, rubbing against them.

"Yeah, do it, fuck me," John panted, trying to push back to take Rodney inside himself.

Shuddering, Rodney grabbed for the soap, dribbling it down John's back to collect at the base of his spine, then drop into the crevice between his cheeks. "I'm ready to," he rasped, leaning back enough to drag his fingers through the soap, then press one into John's ass.

"So what the hell are you waiting for?" John growled. His ass clenched on the invader, but it wasn't nearly what he wanted, and he moaned his dissatisfaction even as he fucked himself on the finger. Shaking his head at John's demands, Rodney continued to take his time, slowly adding a second finger even though his own body tightened at the way John was riding him.

"Fucking tease," John nearly snarled. He shifted his balance, now using only one hand to brace himself against the wall, and the other slid down toward his cock, gliding easily in the hot water still pouring over them.

"And just who was it telling me that not rushing things was good?" Rodney shot back. As he spoke, he coated his erection with the liquid soap and replaced his fingers with his cock, biting his lower lip as he slowly pushed forward and into John's ass.

"Since when do you listen to me?" John started, only to end in a low moan as Rodney finally filled him. His hand stilled on his cock as he concentrated on the sensation of fullness, his body stretching to accept Rodney with a little pain that was ebbing already.

"How can I avoid it? You're so loud I'm surprised the security team didn't show up last night," Rodney panted, holding still for a moment so he didn't lose control.

"Like they could have heard me over all your noise," John snorted, his ass clenching hard around the thick shaft filling him.

"What noise?" Rodney sputtered once he could speak again.

"Could we discuss this later?" Sheppard gritted out.

"That--that would be good," Rodney gasped, resting his head on John's shoulder before recovering enough to begin to move, sliding in and out of that tight heat.

"Oh yeah, good. Very, very good." That seemed to be the limits of John's vocabulary for the moment, but he didn't really care. All he wanted was for Rodney never to stop what he was doing. After a bit John realized that he was still holding his dick, and he started stroking himself in time with Rodney's thrusts into him.

Trying not to whimper at the feeling of being in John's ass and not at all sure he was successful at it, Rodney kept moving, one of his hands finally moving from John's hip to circle his erection, his fingers twining with John's as they both jerked him off.

A soft whine of pure need escaped John as he rocked urgently back and forth, the pleasure growing and growing until he thought it might kill him.

"John, please, John, let me feel it," Rodney gasped in between his groans. He was so close, but he wanted to hold out so that he could feel John convulse around him.

John was close too, every thrust and stroke winding the tension inside him tighter, until suddenly it was too much, and he shattered with a yell that echoed in the shower enclosure. Pleasure ripped through him, flaming along every nerve ending as he shook with the intense climax, his body tightening and convulsing around Rodney.

The sensation drew a loud whimper from Rodney, and his thrusts stuttered as he fought for control. He rode out as much of John's orgasm as possible, then slammed forward, the edge of his teeth biting into John's shoulder as he came too.

John slumped against the wall, chest heaving as he sought to catch his breath, Rodney still inside him. "Oh yeah," he finally panted, "morning shower sex is really, really good."

Rodney whimpered as he nodded, somehow managing to keep his feet under him and stay upright.

His knees trembling under him, John decide to make a virtue of necessity and announced, "You should sit down." He immediately slumped to the floor of the shower, whimpering once as he pulled free of Rodney's cock on his way down.

"That--that makes sense," Rodney gasped, dropping to the floor beside John and closing his eyes against the spray. "We don't have any meetings this morning, do we?"

John had to think about it for a moment, but he finally shook his head. "No, nothing. Think we could get away with going back to bed?"

Rodney was silent for a moment, then his eyes widened. "The alien fragments!" he nearly shouted, bolting to his feet and running out of the shower, barely drying himself off before he was pulling on his clothes.

Still sitting on the floor under the running water, Sheppard stared after him. "What alien fragments?" he asked the empty air. Eventually, accepting that answers weren't going to come to him without some effort on his part, he got up and out of the shower, and once dressed, set off after McKay to find out what exactly his competition was.

"What did the readouts show?" McKay shouted as he entered the lab, startling the others in there.

"Not a great deal," Zelenka replied after a moment, accustomed to McKay's habit of starting conversations in the middle.

"What do you mean, 'Not a great deal'?" Rodney snapped, pushing past the Czech engineer to study the scans himself.

"I mean that we have not found any match in the archives. We know nothing more than we did when last you screamed at us."

"I do not scream," Rodney growled, scrolling through the lines of data and growing more frustrated with each. "And has anyone else done any work on this?"

Ignoring the first comment, which he considered pure fantasy and not worth the time it would take to put McKay straight, Zelenka responded to the second. "We had the archive itself search for any matches, with no results."

John arrived in time to hear that and finally understood Rodney's parting comment, though he was still annoyed by the rapid departure. "Want me to try? Sometimes having the gene activates subsystems," he offered.

"Do it," McKay snapped, dragging his laptop over and hitting a flurry of keys, beginning his own search.

"Somebody's mother never taught him the value of the word please," John grumbled as he moved toward one of the interfaces. Every scientist in the lab looked at him as if he'd gone mad--Rodney say please?

Rodney snarled in response and settled in for the duration, stopping only to accept a protein bar from that little Asian scientist whose name he could never remember.

After a couple of hours, John accepted that there really wasn't anything in the Ancient databases, not that he was particularly surprised. Ten thousand years was plenty of time for a race to advance technologically. Now all he had to do was convince Rodney that he was wasting his time. Not an easy task. But perhaps distraction might work...

John got to his feet and stretched, then moved behind Rodney, ignoring the wary and a few downright fearful looks he got from the scientists. His hands came to rest on McKay's shoulders, and he started massaging the tense muscles.

"Few more minutes, there's got to be something in here somewhere." Rodney murmured, noticing the hands on his shoulders only as a lessening of tension there.

"Wanting it to be so isn't going to change things, Rodney. There's nothing there. Whoever this new race is, the Ancients didn't know them. They may have come from another galaxy, or they may simply have advanced in the last ten millennia. But there's nothing in the database."

Rodney sighed and stopped typing, lifting his hands to rub at his temples. "Great, so we've got a flight-capable race out there that likes to bomb helpless villages, and we have no idea where they're from or what they're going to do next." He sighed and leaned back into John's hands.

"On the plus side, no one else we've met seems to have encountered them, and Atlantis isn't exactly a helpless village. Or at least it doesn't look like one."

"True." Rodney sighed again then looked around the lab, his brow furrowing in a glare. "What are you all looking at?" he demanded. "Zha Zha, see if we can at least pin down what this is made out of."

Zelenka ground his teeth while glaring at McKay, and he enjoyed a few moments contemplating all the ways he could torture the Canadian. "Ze-len-ka," he pronounced slowly and clearly.

"That's what I said." Rodney looked at the Czech as if he was insane. "So why are you arguing with me; check it out!"

Radek actually snarled, and his fist curled around something that looked like a paperweight before he yanked his hands down to his lap, much to John's relief. "C'mon, Rodney, let the nice scientists work without you breathing down their necks. Don't you want to go get some breakfast?"

Rodney nodded and closed his laptop, shaking his head as he looked over at Zelenka. "Those Czechs; so damn touchy, and you'd think they would have thought of that by now. Sad. Very sad."

John watched Zelenka's face get redder and his fists clench again, and he hastily drew Rodney toward the door before the other scientist lost the battle against his desire to kill McKay. "Breakfast," he said emphatically.

Allowing himself to be herded and fully aware that Zelenka would work all the harder for being pissed at him, Rodney ran a hand through his hair. "I cannot believe I forgot about the scans." He looked at John accusingly as he spoke.

"What, now it's my fault that I'm incredibly sexy?" John asked innocently.

"Yes!" Rodney snapped before giving himself a shake. "I mean no--Christ, I don't know what I mean right now, and it's all your fault."

John smiled smugly. "Damn, I'm good," he crowed.

"I hope that makes you feel good when these new aliens are aiming a mortar at your ass."

"Rodney, since we came to this galaxy, I've lost count of how many times someone or something has tried to kill me. I find it hard to get overly excited about adding someone else to the list."

"Even me?"

John blinked. "You're planning to try to kill me?"

"Well, you said it wouldn't get you excited; I was just testing that hypothesis."

"I can think of much better ways for you to try to get me excited."

"All I can think of right now is breakfast."

John sighed, intent on Rodney as they walked through the halls, neither paying attention to the many double takes as the other inhabitants of Atlantis noticed them. "I think I've created a monster."

Rodney eyed John askance. "Because I want to eat breakfast?"

"Because you're suddenly obsessed with breakfast and ignoring me." John frowned curiously as he caught sight of Ford passing a handful of powerbars to Bates.

"Christ, John, if you wanted to fuck, why are you talking about breakfast?" Rodney exclaimed, realizing after the fact that he might have spoken a bit loudly.

"Because I didn't really think you wanted me to say that in front of half your staff!" John tried to pretend he couldn't hear Ford and Bates' whoops of laughter.

"Don't you two have some brass to polish?" Rodney snapped, glaring at the two soldiers before turning back to John. "And just why was that?"

"I thought you might rather not have everyone think you're sleeping with the slut of Atlantis."

Rodney frowned in surprise. "You can't be serious."

John shrugged, looking away. "You seemed to believe it."

Reaching out, Rodney caught John's arm. "Do you really believe I don't know Zelenka's name?" he asked.

"Of course not," John snorted. "That's why it pisses him off so much."

Rodney arched his eyebrows, waiting for the lightbulb to go on.

John looked at him blankly for a moment before it hit him. "Oh!" He finally smiled crookedly. "So it's okay if I grope you in your lab then?"

"As long as I'm not doing anything important."

It was John's turn to arch dark eyebrows. "I thought you thought everything you do is important," he teased.

Rodney sniffed haughtily. "There are degrees of importance you know."

"Oh, so I'm more important than some of your tests? I'm touched." John wondered if the paperwork would be worth the satisfaction he'd get from shooting Bates and Ford, who were laughing so hard they had to lean on each other to stay on their feet.

"'Wraith invading Atlantis, find a way to stop them, Rodney' is important; 'Michaelson's vibrator is broken'--not so important." Rodney's tone was one of explaining things to an imbecile.

"You like me better than a vibrator? Woohoo!" John couldn't help saying it, even though Ford and Bates were now on the floor.

"I like you better than Michaelson's vibrator," Rodney sighed, ignoring the howling buffoons on the floor.

"How about we get a meal to go and discuss this in my quarters?" John suggested, 'accidentally' stepping on the pair at their feet.

"Will we actually eat?"

"Eventually."

"Okay, TMI," Ford groaned, getting to his feet and staggering away, Bates right behind him.

"KP!" John shouted after him.

"We could suggest to Carson that they need some very invasive testing done on them," Rodney suggested.

"I like the way you think, Rodney. So, belated breakfast to go? After all, we already established that we have some free time this morning."

"Which I'm sure we'll find something to do to fill."

"Yeah, filling is definitely in my plans."

Rodney smirked. "And you say you aren't a slut."

"I'm a serial slut," John retorted. "Only for one person at a time."

"Good, now let's go get some food before I pass out."

"Or before someone else does, stumbling over you two without warning," a botanist grumbled on his way past.

Snickering, John slid an arm around Rodney's shoulders and started walking.

"Jealousy gets you nowhere," Rodney called over his shoulder before settling in at John's side, enjoying this strange new feeling so much it should have scared him.

"It certainly got us somewhere," John said with satisfaction. "And I like the view from here."

"Hmm, I thought I was supposed to be the one with a superiority complex--rightly so, of course," Rodney added.

"Yes, Rodney. Whatever you say, Rodney." They finally reached the dining hall without becoming a source of amusement for anyone else, and John didn't even consider removing his arm from around Rodney as they went up to see what was for breakfast.

"Hmm, I like that answer, remember it." Rodney looked over the food and sighed. "Oatmeal--what a shock, though considering how late we are, we're lucky there's anything left at all."

"I happen to like oatmeal," John said blandly, getting a bowl and covering it in brown sugar and milk. "It's good for you... and great for fueling energy," he added with a leer that made Stackhouse, who happened to be behind them, drop his tray.

"And let me guess, you ate all your green beans too because your Mommy told you too," Rodney muttered, poking at his semi-congealed mess and wishing it at least had raisins in it.

"I've always been very oral."

"So you'll suck on anything?" Rodney asked incredulously, causing Stackhouse to drop the bowl he'd just picked up.

"I just like sucking the seeds out," John replied. He looked over his shoulder in surprise when Stackhouse cursed and stomped toward the exit.

Rodney snorted and grabbed several pieces of fruit the Athosians had assured him were not citrus. "That's a lot of work to get a few seeds."

"I didn't notice you complaining earlier."

"That's because I wasn't."

"So don't start now or I won't go to all that work again."

"Work?" Rodney's volume and eyebrows rose to the same extent.

"You're the one who said it looked like a lot of work. I thought it was fun myself." John set a small dish of fruit on his tray, knowing Rodney would eat it.

Rodney glowered. "I was speaking about the green beans, not myself."

John shrugged. "Little tube, big seeds, big tube, little seeds. Works for both." He looked over in concern when Kate Heightmeyer spit her coffee in the face of one of the nurses who happened to be sitting across the table from her.

Staring for a moment at the commotion, Rodney shook his head. "You're beginning to worry me, John, you really are."

"Oh good." John grinned at him and steered Rodney toward the exit.

Rolling his eyes, Rodney followed, telling himself that he didn't hear half the mess hall laughing at them. "You are going to let me eat before you jump me, aren't you?"

"Sure, I don't want you to faint on me."

"I'm seriously considering taking my food back to my room."

John pouted. "You'd leave me alone?"

"Are you going to keep comparing me to a green bean?"

"Only if you turn green."

"Are you expecting me to say 'Ho Ho Ho' as well?"

"I don't remember the Little Green Sprout ever saying that."

"That's because he didn't."

"Then why would you start now?" John grinned, opening the door to his quarters.

Rodney stopped dead just outside of the room. "Tell me you aren't calling me a little green sprout."

John snickered. "Well, you're not green..."

"You know, you're going to look good wearing oatmeal."

"Will you lick it off me?"

"No, I'm planning on letting it congeal on you."

John made a face. "That stuff hardens to concrete!" he protested.

Rodney smirked. "And there's a problem with hard?"

"There is when it's a shell encasing my body!"

"You never know, John, the crustacean look might look good on you."

"I never knew you were so fond of crabs."

"Oh, now that's disgusting!"

John smirked as he sat down on the bed, scooting up to the corner with a pillow behind his back to leave room for Rodney to sit as well. "You're the one who brought them up."

In answer, Rodney sat, balanced his tray on his lap, and dug into his already cold oatmeal.

"Eat up, I have plans for you," John said with an exaggerated leer. "How long do you think we can stay in here before someone starts looking for us, anyway?"

Rodney swallowed his food and shrugged. "Until the next life or death situation needing my expert assistance, which, on Atlantis, is approximately every 2.5 hours."

John's eyebrows rose. "Better eat fast then."

"I am eating, you aren't," Rodney commented dryly.

John raised a spoonful of porridge to his mouth and ate it. "Eating, see?" He frowned at the temperature, but there wasn't much he could do about it, and it still tasted good.

Rodney mumbled a reply through his own mouthful before taking a turning to his fruit to wash it down. That done, he set aside his tray and half turned to run his hand up John's leg. "Keep eating," he murmured as his fingers slid higher.

"You're trying to kill me by making me choke?" John asked, his breath catching.

"You can't choke on oatmeal." Rodney rubbed his thumb over the inside of John's thigh, the rasp of his calluses against the fabric a faint background noise in the room.

"Uh huh." John didn't sound convinced, but he wasn't going to argue and chance Rodney stopping what he as doing.

"It's mushy, John; there's no way to choke on it." Rodney continued stroking, feeling John's muscles tense under his hand.

"I'll remind you of that when Dr. Beckett has to surgically remove it from my lungs!" John fought to remain still, not wanting to make it too easy for Rodney.

"So you want me to stop?"

"No!" John glared at him. "Tease."

Rodney smiled briefly though he had stopped moving his hand. "Just keep eating."

"You are trying to kill me," John groaned, taking another bite and not even noticing that it was stone cold now.

"John," Rodney smiled again and moved his hand higher, stroking the growing bulge under John's fatigues, "eat your breakfast so I can have my dessert.

John ate faster, his hips shifting against the bed. His hazel eyes, dark with growing arousal, darted from Rodney's hand to his face, drinking in the intent expression.

"Good boy," Rodney murmured, moving over between John's thighs and smoothing his free hand up the other strong length so that his palms framed the bulge in the major's pants, before he leaned in to blow a breath over John's groin.

"Oh fuck," John rasped, arching up off the bed while fumbling to set the bowl aside. "I'm done with breakfast."

"Hmm, and I'm just starting on the best part of mine." Rodney deftly undid John's pants and spread them open so that he could lick John's cock through the cotton of his boxers.

"It's a good thing you like cream," John chuckled, one hand carding through Rodney's hair.

"Hrmmm, I should have had this part first; it would have made the oatmeal taste better." Rodney leaned in again and delved for the slit in John's boxers, finding it and nudging it open to lick his flesh beneath it.

"So I can expect you to do this every morning?" John laughed breathlessly. Rodney snorted, and it was clear that he rolled his eyes even though his face was still buried in John's crotch.

"Can't blame a guy for trying." John ran his hands along Rodney's shoulders and back, lightly scratching at the strong muscles.

Lifting his head slightly, Rodney raised his gaze to John's face. "We can alternate," he murmured before going back to what he had been doing.

"Damn, I love life in the Pegasus galaxy." John squirmed, his eyes falling shut as he gave himself up to Rodney.

"Such a slut," Rodney muttered against John's cock before drawing it out of the opening in his boxers and swallowing it down.

"Such a prick," John retorted even as his hips lurched upward, his cock driving deeper into Rodney's mouth. In retaliation, Rodney let the edge of his teeth graze the head of John's cock though he immediately licked the wound to soothe it.

John yelped and glared down at the head at his groin. "You bite it, you don't get to play with it!"

Rodney snorted a laugh around John's erection before pulling back enough to work the now damp boxers and his fatigues down over his hips. "Yes, I can see you trying to escape."

"You haven't actually bitten me yet." John helped Rodney remove his clothes then tugged at Rodney's, wanting to be able to touch his skin.

"Ahh, semantics." It was easy to get distracted while John was sitting there, hard and naked and looking hungry, so Rodney wasn't much help with his own clothes; in fact, he was more of a hindrance in the way he kept reaching out to touch or leaning over to taste the bare skin.

"I prefer some antics," John smirked. It took some effort, but he finally managed to get Rodney undressed despite each of them frequently growing distracted.

"Puns will get you left with blue balls, Major."

Well aware that Rodney was quite capable of biting off his nose to spite his face, John didn't answer, instead grabbing a fistful of the scientist's hair and pulling him up into a kiss.

"No puns, this is good," Rodney breathed against John's mouth, his hands roaming feverishly over the major's body, tracking lines of muscle, juts of bone and a few ridges of old scars.

"Very good," John agreed fervently. His own hands were busy exploring Rodney's body, fingertips digging into the broad shoulders before lightly skating down the spine. Once at his ass, John stopped, cupping the tight, round buttocks while he lightly stroked the crevice between.

Rodney nodded his agreement as he drew closer, rubbing the length of his body against John's and feeling the damp trail of precome spread between their stomachs.

"God, why'd we wait so long to try this?" John moaned. He wrapped his arms around Rodney, holding him close as they rocked together, moving easily.

"Do you have no short-term memory?" Rodney asked as he bit John's earlobe.

"Um... no?" John was having enough trouble remembering his own name just then, let alone trying figure out what Rodney was talking about.

"You asked that last night." Now Rodney's mouth was moving on John's jaw, leaving a damp, cooling trail behind it. "The answers were, power problems, Wraith, imminent death and danger... Ring any bells?"

"Rodney?" John waited till Rodney looked up at him interrogatively. "Shut up and either fuck or ride me."

Rodney chuckled and pushed John back down onto the mattress so that he could settle between his legs. "Clear and concise, I appreciate that."

"Oh good." John smiled, licking his lips. "So which one of us should I be lubing?"

"You." Rodney leaned in and nipped John's nipple. "Your ass that is."

Shivering, John reached under the bed for a container of lotion. When he straightened back up, he pressed close against Rodney before rising onto his knees, turning slightly to the side so that he could see Rodney's face while Rodney had a good view of his ass.

"Dry hands, eh?" Rodney asked, smirking as he echoed John's words from the night before, then his voice failed him as he watched John slick up his fingers and begin to tease his hole.

"Naw," John said, his eyes dark, "I just use it to jerk off." Watching Rodney, he judged when to press a finger inside himself by the darkness of the other man's eyes. But it was his own body and the sensations caused by his finger that made him moan.

"You..." Rodney leaned in, resting a hand on John's shoulder to steady himself as he avidly watched the show being put on in his honor. "What do you think about?"

John hesitated, but he decided to be honest. "Past lovers, famous people I'll never meet, movies I've seen. Next time I do it? You."

A shudder ran through Rodney's body, and he stroked his hands over John's shoulder, sliding one over to tangle in his already messy hair. "Glad to hear it; same here."

John crooked his finger inside himself and whimpered. "Don't think there's going to be much need."

Rodney nodded and pulled John's head back so he could kiss him. "None at all if we keep going like this."

"Sounds good to me," John panted, biting at Rodney's lips hungrily while fucking himself on his fingers.

"What sounds better is me getting inside you." Rodney grabbed John's arm and tumbled him backward to the bed once more.

"Fuck yeah," John groaned, stretching out, his legs spread and his knees drawn up.

Shuddering at the erotic image presented before him, Rodney fumbled as he reached for the lotion, dropping it to the sheets beside John's body, then again when he tried to grab it. John simply smiled and waited, his chest heaving as he panted. His eyes on Rodney, he reached down and began to jack himself lazily.

"Christ," Rodney whispered, finally grabbing the lotion and layering it over his erection, feeling his stomach clench at the feel of the cool suspension on his cock. Resting one arm behind John's knee, Rodney dropped the container and settled inward, placing his cock against John's ass, teasing him with just that for the moment.

John curled his legs around Rodney's waist and yanked.

"Slut," Rodney gasped, once he could breathe again, though his tone was affectionate and he was already moving in slow, arching thrusts.

"Only with the right inspiration," John panted. It was so good, the friction inside him heating his blood. "So good."

Rodney nodded in response, his jaw clenched against his moans as he circled his hips in the cradle of John's body, lowering himself as much as possible to rub against John's erection.

"Oh fuck yeah," John said again, his eyes falling closed. His hands moved shakily over Rodney's back, both caressing and seeking something to hang on to.

Oblivious to the harsh, needy noises he was making, Rodney tangled both hands in John's hair, kissing him hungrily as they rocked together, his tongue sweeping in and exploring every inch of the warm, wet space he was invading. Whimpering, John arched up, his legs inching upward to let Rodney go even deeper inside him.

"John." Rodney moaned, feeling himself bottom out inside the other man, making small circles with his hips before going back to long deep thrusts.

"Rodney," John whispered in response. They moved together, and one of John's hands slipped between them to stroke himself rapidly, his dripping cock aching for the touch.

Words dissolved into moans again, and Rodney pulled back enough to watch John jerk himself off, his own hands too deeply buried in John's dark hair to help.

The relief of jerking himself off, the hot friction of Rodney's cock inside him and the sight of Rodney watching him sent a surge of pure lust through John. Both hand and hips moved more rapidly as he edged toward coming. Feeling the tension beneath him, Rodney moved faster, the tiny tremors running through John driving him closer to the abyss as well.

John's eyes opened wide, dilated and dark with lust, and he cried out, his body clenching down around the shaft driving into him and his hand pumping himself as he came.

Rodney howled as John went wild under him and stuttered through a handful of thrusts before he exploded, mind and body both succumbing to the erotic lure of a satisfied John Sheppard beneath him.

John lay limp beneath Rodney's welcome weight, arms and legs loosely gripping the man still buried deep inside him. "Don't make noises, huh?"

"Wha?" Rodney mumbled, not up for much more conversation than that. John snickered and let it go, not wanting to make Rodney move to start arguing again. In response to the silence, Rodney nuzzled his face into John's neck, smelling the musk and sweat that inundated them both and tasting the sweat that covered their skin. John shivered, a small smile curving his lips as he felt Rodney's tongue on him.

"You planning to make me part of every meal?"

"Taste better than the oatmeal."

John snorted out a laugh. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"Lots of things taste better than oatmeal, you know."

"And do you lick and fuck all of them?"

Rodney chuckled at that and licked John's neck again, giving a contented sigh.

"Suddenly I feel like a lollipop."

"Do you have a chewy tootsie roll center?"

"Don't even think of chomping on me to find out!"

Rodney lifted his head and smiled lazily. "Do you know, when I was four, I calculated just how many licks it did take to get to the center of one of those?"

John looked intrigued. "Care to share?" The possibilities for demonstration piqued his interest.

"Three hundred," Rodney leaned in and brushed a kiss over John's lips. "Seventy," another kiss. "Nine."

John blinked. "That's a lot of licking."

"That was the average of at least a dozen trials," Rodney admitted.

"An awful lot of licking," John said, sounding delighted. "Care to see if you can confirm your previous results?"

"How many licks does it take to get to the creamy center of John Sheppard?" Rodney asked, amused and intrigued.

"I can't say. No one's ever made a study of it."

"Might be intriguing; I could write a paper on it."

"A paper?!" John squawked.

"It wouldn't be classified," Rodney mused, "If I could transmit it back through the gate, it could be published."

"Rodney! I am not going to be the subject of a published paper on my sexual habits!"

"I wouldn't name you!"

"And just how many people have you slept with since you got here?" John demanded.

"I--none! But the scientific community on Earth doesn't know that!"

"Everyone here will! And they're a scientific community too!"

Struggling not to laugh at the expression on John's face, Rodney gave a put-upon sigh. "Fine, I'll keep my research to myself."

"Good! I'm enjoying this, so I'd hate to have to stop it."

"But I can still do it, correct?"

"I'd be disappointed if you didn't."

"And I'd hate to disappoint you, Major," Rodney's dry tone could have cut glass.

"Good attitude."

Rodney finally untangled his hands from John's hair to aim a slap at the side of his ass. Chuckling, John caught his hand and rolled them to their sides, one arm and leg over Rodney, holding him close.

"Mmm," Rodney sighed, squirming slightly to get comfortable, then yawning, feeling more relaxed than he had since coming here. Grinning, John rolled to his back and let Rodney settle in against him, one of John's hands lightly stroking Rodney's hair.

"So we're being real men and sleeping after really good sex again?" Rodney yawned, already half there himself. Yes, there was work to be done, but for once he was willing to let others do it.

"That's the best part of being guys." John slid an arm around Rodney, holding him close, and the green-hazel eyes closed contentedly as John began to slide into a light doze, the scent of sex permeating the air around them.

***

"John... John, wake up enough so that I can get up," Rodney hissed.

Woken abruptly out of a sound sleep, John regarded him blearily. "Why?"

"Because I'm awake and I want to go to the washroom and then go change, and I can't do that with you on my arm."

Grumbling, John rolled over and shoved his head under his pillow. "Fine, whatever."

Frowning at John's curt response, Rodney sighed as he got out of bed. "Whatever," he muttered, grabbing his clothes and pulling them on, deciding his own washroom was looking better than John's.

Slowly waking up, John finally sat up and raked a hand through already disheveled hair. "Are we ever going to wake up where you're not trying to take off somewhere?"

"I wasn't taking off this morning if you recall," Rodney said stiffly. "I'm awake, you aren't, and if you notice, I didn't leave without letting you know, so I'm not sure just what the issue is here."

"You took off that first morning," John reminded him. "And I'm not at my best right after waking up unless it's to an alarm."

"So if I don't want to get barked at, I should set off the alarm?" Rodney asked, somewhat amused, both by the statement and by the way John looked like an adolescent with his hair sticking up that way. "I'm not running off now, so you can go back to sleep."

"Alarms as in emergencies, not clocks. You going to come back to bed too?"

"If I stay in bed all day, I'm not going to sleep at all tonight."

"And who said you'd be getting any sleep tonight?"

"So you're suggesting we become nocturnal and devote all our time to fucking while Atlantis crumbles because of my absence?"

"Have I mentioned yet today how annoying that snarky attitude can be?"

"Only a few hundred times or so, and I still say you're mistaken." Rodney gave a small smile. "Go back to sleep, John; I'll see you when you wake up."

"Gimme a kiss first."

Rodney sighed and leaned over to do that. "You are such a slut," he chuckled, just before their lips touched. John had started to growl, but it was silenced by the kiss.

"Sure you don't want to crawl back in here?" John sat on the bed, sheet barely covering his groin, and tried to tempt Rodney back.

"Remember Atlantis? Ancient city that has no defenses until I figure out how to power them?" Rodney asked, speaking simply and trying to ignore the trail of dark hair leading from John's chest to his crotch.

John sighed and leaned back against the pillows. "Going to single-handedly save the day?"

"Of course," Rodney said haughtily. "It's what I do."

With an eye roll, John flopped down again. "Okay, fine. I'll see how it's going after I get a good few hours' sleep."

"You do that." Rodney tried to smooth away the childish grin he knew was curving his mouth, but found he couldn't; this was going to work out.

***

"You said the gene therapy was permanent, and it isn't; fix it."

Carson raised his head from the sample he'd been studying and looked blankly at McKay for moment before seeming to focus on him. "Rodney? What're ye talking about? You have the gene; it works."

"No, it doesn't; I can't get into my room."

That gained him a baffled stare. "Impossible. Genes don't just evaporate, you know."

Rodney growled. "Thank you for my scientific lesson of the day, Dr. Beckett, but obviously something was wrong with your work because mine has!"

"Rodney," Carson started before sighing in resignation at the stubborn look on McKay's face. He picked up an ancient artifact that seemed to serve no purpose but which flashed with colored lights when anyone with the gene touched it, that he'd co-opted as a paperweight, and handed it to Rodney. "Touch this."

"It won't work," Rodney grumbled even as he reached out and prodded the artifact which promptly put on a little light show for his none too appreciative benefit. "Well, then it's defective or degrading somehow."

"Why do you think that?"

"I. Can't. Get. Into. My. Room."

Carson gave him a look of disfavor. "And did ye consider having the bloody locking mechanism checked?"

Rodney growled again. "Of course I did that; it simply won't open for me; therefore, the gene has to be degrading!"

"Genes. Do. Not. Degrade." It was Carson's turn to enunciate slowly and clearly, as if speaking to a not-quite-bright toddler.

Ignoring the tone, Rodney waved a hand in the air. "Fine, it mutated then; oh God, I'm going to turn into some bug-eyed monster and shamble all over the city trying to suck people's brains out, aren't I?" His voice had acquired a fine edge of hysteria.

Carson stared at him. "You really are quite mad, aren't you?" he observed, shaking his head. "You clearly can still activate Ancient technology," he gestured at the whatever-it-was still flashing merrily in Rodney's hand, "so there has to be some other reason. Did you have anyone else try to open the door?" Waiting for Rodney's negative shake of the head, he got to his feet, knowing he wasn't going to get any more work done till this was settled. "Right then, let's you and I go see if I can open the door, shall we?"

"You'll be able to, and I'm going to turn into a cliche of every old science fiction movie ever made," Rodney said, following Carson out of the lab and into the hallways.

Carson sighed. "Rodney, you're nae turning into one of Major Sheppard's bugs. Let's wait and see what actual evidence we can find. A hypothesis is useless without proof."

"When my skin turns scaly and green, will that be proof enough?"

Giving it up as a lost cause, Carson didn't reply and continued to ignore Rodney's wilder and wilder speculations as they made their way to his quarters. Stopping outside the door, Carson raised his eyebrows at Rodney, waiting to see him try to open the door.

"Fine, don't believe me," Rodney muttered before first trying to think the damned door open, then use the sensor. "See?" he said triumphantly when neither worked. "Mutated gene, I'm a dead man!"

Sighing yet again, Carson tried to open the obviously defective door and was surprised when it slid open immediately.

"I told you!"

"Well, since the door is open, why don't you go in?"

Rodney glowered at Carson and stepped forward only to have the door close in his face. "What the hell?!"

Carson blinked. "That's very odd."

"What's going on here?" Major Sheppard asked, surprised to find them standing outside Rodney's quarters. He'd finished his work a little while earlier and decided to come find Rodney.

"Carson gave me a defective gene that's mutating, and soon I'm going to be a bug-eyed monster," Rodney said morosely as he stared at his door.

John stared at him. "What?" he asked Beckett, hoping for an answer he could understand.

"For some reason, Rodney canna open the door to his quarters," Carson explained, still eyeing Rodney and the door curiously. "It isn't the door; it worked for me."

"And then slammed in my face!" Rodney interrupted. "The city knows I'm devolving, and it's trying to protect itself from me."

"Rodney, breathe." John came up beside him to put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and the door slid open.

Rodney, Carson and John all goggled at the door before Rodney turned to look at John. "What did you do?"

"Nothing! I didn't even think at it."

"You not thinking, shocking," Rodney muttered under his breath before making a tentative move toward his door, waiting for it to snap shut in his face once again.

"You may want to go in while you can, Rodney," Carson urged.

John eyed the door warily. "I'm not sure that's a good idea. What if he can't open it from the inside either?"

"Great, then I'll be a dead, mutated, bug-eyed monster."

"We all go in together, that way one of us will be able to open the door again if Rodney can't." Carson suggested practically over Rodney's continued doomsday predictions.

"Sounds good," John agreed, nudging Rodney toward the doorway. Actually, it was probably closer to a shove, but John thought nudge sounded better.

Rodney gave a squawk, wincing as he imagined being crushed by the door, then tumbled into his room, followed by John and Carson.

"All right, now try to open the door from this side," Carson suggested.

John glanced at it, and the door immediately slid open then closed again. "Now you, Rodney."

Glaring at the door, Rodney concentrated, and it slid open. "See there, the gene's not defective, and you aren't mutating." Carson was hard-pressed to keep from laughing at the expression of relief on Rodney's face.

John grinned and pulled Rodney into a hug, his hands automatically coming to rest on McKay's ass. "Thanks for your help, Carson, but I think I can take it from here."

Carefully keeping his gaze above the other two's waists, Carson nodded. "Aye, Major, I'm sure you can handle things."

The door opened easily for Carson as Rodney sputtered out his indignation.

"What, you don't like the way I handle things?" John gave Rodney a hurt, pouty look.

"I like that fine; I simply want to be able to get in and..." Rodney took a step toward the door and breathed in relief when it opened for him, "out and not turn into a slimy, flesh-eating monster!"

"I really doubt that you're going to turn into the misbegotten offspring of the Swamp Thing and a zombie from Night of the Living Dead."

"I'll be glad to remind you of that when I'm dripping flesh on you and gnawing on your ear!" Rodney snapped back, edging to the door and thinking it closed behind him. A moment later, he thought it back open and danced a jig. "It was a glitch! No mutating for me!"

"Well, I do like some of your flesh dripping, and ear nibbling's always been one of my turn-ons."

"Ear gnawing as in biting it off." But Rodney was in too good of a mood to let the technicality bother him, and he dragged John in for a kiss.

"I'd really rather you didn't bite anything off," John chuckled against his lips. He pressed closer, enjoying the already familiar sensation of Rodney against him, and laughed suddenly. "We may never get anything else done again."

Rodney snorted and nibbled on John's ear. "Elizabeth might have issues with that."

"Not to mention that we need to deal with the Wraith so they won't interrupt us."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Yes, that's the main reason we need to deal with the Wraith; having your life sucked out of you is nothing compared to no sex."

"I prefer my sucking to be part of sex, and it doesn't involve my life."

Rodney only sighed and shook his head. "And you say you aren't a slut..."

"I could go back to celibacy!"

"Are you planning on it?"

"Only if I can't find someone who appreciates that I'm not a slut!" John nearly stuck his tongue out but restrained himself.

"Major Sheppard, I don't think you're a slut; I think you're my slut."

John thought about that. "That's all right then, Dr. McKay. I can live with that."

"That's good because you're going to have to."

John's eyebrows climbed. "Did I sign over ownership on myself and not remember it?"

Rodney frowned. "So you're planning on just flitting around wherever and whenever you please?"

"Haven't we already had this conversation several times? Of course not. But how the hell was I supposed to know that after less than a week you were planning to lay claim?"

"So you'd rather I just called you a figurative slut rather than mine?"

"I was trying not to make assumptions! Fine, are you moving into my room, or am I moving in here?"

"What?" Rodney goggled.

John regarded him challengingly. "Well, if you're keeping me, you need to make an honest man of me."

"But... moving in together?"

Now John was frowning. "What, you wanted to sneak around after everyone was asleep."

"No!" Rodney flinched at the sound of his own voice. "No, that's not it at all."

"Then what?"

Rodney sighed and sat down on his bed. "If we move in together, you won't be mine for much longer." At John's confused expression, he continued. "If you haven't noticed, I'm not the... easiest person to deal with."

John snorted. "McKay, I've been stuck in another galaxy with you in a limited population for how many months? I think I'm aware of your personality."

"And you can walk away from it when it pisses you off too much."

"Rodney, I'm perfectly capable of dealing with you without running away."

Rodney sighed and looked anywhere but at John. "This would be so much easier if we just kept our own quarters."

John shrugged, trying not to be hurt by Rodney's reaction. "Well, it's not as if I'm going to throw you over my shoulder and force you to move in."

"It's not that I don't like the idea..." Rodney gestured helplessly. "I just don't want to, well, ruin this."

"I think the quickest way to ruin it would be to push each other away." John wasn't giving an inch.

"I'm not trying to push you away; I just think it would be good if we each had a place to call our own," Rodney said plaintively.

John nodded shortly. "Far be it for me to try to force you into something you don't want." He shrugged, half turning away.

"Damn it, John!" Rodney grabbed the major by the shoulder to halt him. "If I didn't want this, I wouldn't have started it!" He rubbed a hand over his face, feeling the stubble he still hadn't been able to shave off, and sighed. "If you think it'll work, we can try--but don't come running to me when you want to leave!"

That last sentence had John eying Rodney oddly, but he let it go. "Rodney, I want you to want us to be together. It's not going to work if we're not both in it for the long haul."

"I never said I wasn't!"

"Somehow, bombarding me with excuses why it won't work doesn't sound like wanting to make it work to me." John sighed. "Look, Rodney, I wouldn't have started this at all if I didn't hope it could be more than just great sex. We may be in another galaxy, but I'm still military, and so're a lot of people here."

"I'm not--I'm--I said we can try. I want this to work too, or do you think I kiss many military officers as a regular course of action?"

John smiled crookedly, finally relaxing. "How should I know? Maybe you're the slut."

"Excuse me?!"

"Just sayin'."

Rodney glowered.

Grinning, John went and made himself comfortable on the bed. "So why don't you pack a few things and come back to my place, and we can see how it goes."

"Are you going to gloat over this?"

"Maybe just a little." John's grin widened. "After all, I did catch the smartest man in Atlantis."

Rodney had to smile at that though he shook his head. "You just have exquisite taste." As he spoke, he grabbed a bag and tossed a change of clothes into it.

"I know." John rose easily to his feet. "Don't forget toiletries. I don't share my hairbrush."

"You mean you actually use one?" Rodney feigned shock but went to get at least his toothbrush.

"I'll have you know it takes a lot of effort to look this good."

"I can imagine." Rodney came out of the washroom and tucked the few items into his bag. "And are we going to get any work done today or simply spend it running back and forth between different beds?"

John shrugged. "I don't have anything pressing today, but if you need to get some time in your lab, again, I can go do some paperwork."

"I really should check to see if there are any developments with those mortar pieces..." Rodney began, quirking a grin at John's unconscious pout. "But that can wait until tomorrow; today's been eventful enough."

"You think this has been eventful, just wait till we show up for dinner together."

Rodney glanced at his watch. "Which should be starting soon."

"Are you ever not hungry?" John shook his head while reaching for Rodney's bag, offering to carry it.

"Would you prefer I pass out from low blood sugar?" Rodney started to hand the bag over, then pulled it back, "And I think I've got it."

John rolled his eyes. "Heaven forbid." He started toward the door at Rodney's side, one arm going around Rodney's shoulders.

They fell into step and were halfway down the hall to the nearest transporter when Rodney cursed. "I forgot my razor; go on and I'll meet you in the mess hall, okay?"

"Sure. Want me to take your bag to my quarters first?" John offered easily.

"No, I'll keep it, easier to explain it to everyone rather than why I'm carrying a razor around." Rodney grinned and leaned over to give John a kiss. "And no, I'm not using this as an excuse to back out."

"Glad to hear it. If you did, I'd have to stop sharing my powerbars."

"I could live with that; you have other redeeming qualities..." Rodney backed out of John's embrace and started back toward his quarters, whistling under his breath.

Grinning like a loon, John headed for the dining hall, knowing that it wouldn't take long for Rodney to rejoin him. He saw Ford and Teyla, who motioned him to join them, but he shook his head with a smile, going over to an empty table.

***

Seething in fury, Rodney stalked toward the mess hall. Once there, he marched over to the table John was sitting at and threw himself into a chair, dropping the bag he'd almost forgotten he had onto the tabletop.

John looked up in surprise. "Something wrong with your razor?"

"Yes, there's something wrong with my razor," Rodney snapped. "I can't get to it because I can't get in my damn room again!"

"Maybe you should run a diagnostic on the city systems. That's really weird."

"It lets Carson in; it lets you in; why won't it let me in?" Rodney whined.

"Sorry, Rodney, no idea." John shrugged apologetically. "Why not get Radek to look into it?"

"Because he'll lord it over me, that's why! There has to be a logical reason for this, one that doesn't include my mutating. Diagnostics, right, I'll run a diagnostic on the systems; that will show something."

John sighed, knowing that he was about to lose Rodney's attention until the scientist could figure out what was happening. "Maybe you should eat something first."

"I'll get a tray and take it with me." Rodney was already getting up and pushing back from the table. "Do you mind taking my bag to your place?"

"Sure, whatever." But John was talking to Rodney's back. He sighed again and started his own dinner, his eyes fixed on the bag sitting on the table.

***

"I've decided this city hates me," Rodney announced when John opened the door at his knock. "I work my fingers to the bone to save it, and it hates me."

"And hello to you too. I had a pleasant evening, thanks for asking. We got up a game of poker. And how was yours?"

"Just wonderful; I found out that everyone in the city with the gene can open my door except for me and that there is nothing wrong that the diagnostics can detect. I need food and sex in that order."

John frowned even as he found an MRE for Rodney. "Didn't you eat dinner? And what do you mean that everyone else can open your door except you? That doesn't make any sense."

"I know," Rodney said as he tore into the MRE and bolted it down, his next words coming with a spray of crumbs as he dug into the cornbread that was part of the meal. "Which leaves the fact that the city hates me as the only logical option."

"The city is not alive." John conveniently ignored his own occasional thoughts on that in favor of calming Rodney down. "It can't hate you."

"Then why won't my door open?"

"I don't know! Maybe the city thinks you ought to be here with me," John snorted.

Blue eyes narrowed as Rodney considered that thought.

"I was joking, Rodney."

"I bet the city loves you." Rodney scraped the inside of the bag and licked his fingers.

"The city doesn't have emotions, Rodney."

"Doesn't matter, I bet it loves you anyway."

John rolled his eyes. "Whatever you say."

"Trust me, John, everyone loves you... Except Kavanaugh, but then he doesn't love anyone, so if the city could love anyone, it would be you."

"Please don't ever again use the words love and Kavanaugh in the same sentence." John shuddered. "And I'm sure if that's true, the city likes you too."

"Then why can't I get in my room?" Rodney grumbled, tossing his empty foil pouch toward the small pail John was using as a garbage can.

"How should I know?"

Rodney sighed. "I don't know, and I'm tired of thinking about it, so we should get to the sex soon."

"Oh damn. Get on the bed so you don't think I've sprained your back or something when I jump you."

Rodney looked affronted. "It could happen; you aren't a featherweight, you know." But even as he complained, he was kicking off his sneakers and dragging his shirt over his head.

John paused to admire the sight of Rodney stripping for him, his body hardening more with each inch of skin that was bared. "God, you look so good."

"Then why are you all the way over there?" Rodney asked, skimming his pants off and dropping onto the bed.

"Because I'm enjoying the view." John pulled his clothes off, letting them fall to the floor. Already hard, he walked toward the bed, eyes intent on Rodney.

"Glad to hear it." Rodney plumped the pillows behind his back, his gaze fixed on John as he stalked toward him.

"You couldn't tell?" John gestured toward the hard-on preceding him.

"I have a theory on the matter."

"Going to share it?"

"No, I'd rather test it out." John was within touching distance, so Rodney did, sliding his hand up the long, runner's legs to his stomach, teasing the dusting of hair around his navel.

"And can I help you with this demonstration? You know I'm always willing to be of assistance in the name of science."

Rodney snorted at that comment, then grabbed John and pulled him down to the bed with him. "The test begins with lots and lots of kissing and touching."

"I think I'm going to like this test." John settled on top of Rodney, their legs tangling together, and he lowered his head to kiss the other man.

"Just think?" Rodney asked in between long, hungry kisses that left him gasping for breath. He slid his legs up around John's and kneaded his fingers into the firm muscles of his back as they rocked together.

"Sure of it." John groaned and pushed down, feeling Rodney's answering hardness against his own. "And if I didn't mention it earlier, I'm glad you agreed to move in here."

"We're going to need a bigger bed," Rodney muttered, though his tone was more pleased than aggrieved.

"I'm fairly certain that not every Ancient could have been a single celibate, so there have to be double beds somewhere in the city. We can make it our mission to find one. Tomorrow."

Rodney groaned. "So we have to go trooping through the city that hates me to find a new bed for us?"

John groaned and let his head fall forward until his forehead touched Rodney's. "We can ask the Athosians to make us one, I suppose."

"No feathers though."

"I sincerely doubt the Athosians have access to a hypoallergenic foam factory!"

Rodney sighed. "I just meant they have a tendency to poke through the fabric and jab you in unfortunate places."

"I'll kiss it better for you."

Rodney's hands stilled on John's back and ass. "Hmmm, I'm reconsidering the merits of feather beds."

"I'll talk to Halling in the morning." John chuckled as he rocked against Rodney. After a quick kiss to the mobile lips that so distracted him during meetings, John slid down to concentrate on Rodney's nipples, intent on his own experiment involving them and licking. Rodney's moan was the only answer he got though the way his fingers dug into John's back combined with the needy noises he was making was a pretty good sign the experiment was a success. "God, I love the way you sound; it's so damn hot," John murmured around the nubbin he was suckling.

"What?" Rodney gasped, twisting upward to rub as much of himself as he could against John. "What sounds?"

John's teeth closed gently around the tight bud and tugged lightly. A moment later he said, "Those sounds." Rodney would have argued, but it felt so good that he couldn't muster the energy to do so. Pleased by the lack of argument, John rewarded Rodney--and himself--by doing it again. And again. And again.

Idly wondering if it was possible to dissolve into a puddle of goo from feeling too damn good, Rodney whimpered and squirmed as much as he could under John's weight, his fingers tracing fractal equations on the firm skin beneath them.

"So fucking gorgeous," John whispered, raising his head to drink in the dazed expression before sliding down more. He paused at Rodney's navel to tease him by probing the small indentation with his tongue, wondering what new noises he might discover.

"And brilliant too," Rodney managed to whisper before his intellect regressed to primal levels when John tugged at the light circling of hair around his navel then fucked the shallow hollow with his tongue.

"The perfect man." John grinned up at Rodney along the length of his body, his chin resting in the hollow of his pelvis. "And. All. Mine." Each word was punctuated with another thrust of his tongue, and when he was done, he slid even lower, pushing Rodney's legs open and over his shoulders.

Good, babbling was good, and what John was doing was even better. Unable to touch the other man any longer, Rodney grabbed for the sheets, needing something to hold him in place before he simply slid off the bed and onto the floor.

John hesitated, not quite sure where he wanted to begin with all of Rodney open and waiting for him. Cock, balls, ass, it was all his, and a small laugh of pure pleasure escaped him. "All mine," he said gleefully.

Rodney recovered enough to lift his head from the pillow and glare down at John, his blue eyes dark with need. "Then do something with it--me--whatever!"

John laughed again. "Oh, don't worry, I intend to." He lowered his head, maintaining eye contact with Rodney, and trailed the tip of his tongue along the hard shaft. Rodney's moan and the drop of precome that escaped his erection accelerated at the same velocity, hurtling him toward insanity. John caught the bead of liquid on his tongue, humming his pleasure at the taste of Rodney. He nuzzled Rodney, enjoying the varied noises, and slowly lowered his head to capture the slick tip in his mouth. His tongue probed the tiny opening, seeking more of Rodney's precome, wanting to taste him again.

Rodney's keen echoed off the bare walls, and he bucked upward, winding a leg around John's back to have something to hold onto. John slid his hands under Rodney's ass, holding him while lowering his head, slowly taking more and more of Rodney into his mouth until he couldn't go any farther. The head of Rodney's cock was lodged in his throat; his chin was pressed against Rodney's balls; and his fingertips were stroking Rodney's opening, teasing him.

"Good, John, so, so good," Rodney whimpered, struggling to move but unable to because of the way he was positioned. Needing contact and unable to touch John, he let go of the sheets to stroke his own chest, pulling and pinching at his nipples in a dim echo of the way John had teased him not long ago.

John tilted his head so that he would watch Rodney, and he moaned when he saw Rodney teasing himself. He slowly pulled up, taking a deep breath when he'd withdrawn far enough to get air again, and his tongue lashed the cock in his mouth as he rose.

Rodney whimpered and twisted upward as much as possible, then he mewled as he came, tremors shaking his whole body and his thighs tightening around John's head. Fortunately, John wasn't trying to go anywhere; rather, he was keeping Rodney's cock in his mouth, sucking hard and licking to make sure he didn't miss a single drop.

"Gahh." Rodney made the strangled noise a short time later as John's attentions finally became too much, and he tried to squirm away. Taking pity on him, for the moment, John raised his head and slid up to kiss him hard, the taste of Rodney's come still filling him mouth.

"Murghf." This was announced through the filter of John's lips and tongue, but Rodney was sure it was the most brilliant thing he had ever said. Touching John became easier when he dragged his hands from his own chest and ran them over the major's back and down to his ass, and he groaned.

John grinned at the noise but didn't set Rodney off again by commenting. "Feeling better now?" he asked. He slotted his cock between Rodney's cheeks, rocking back and forth easily, slicked as he was by his own precome.

"Mmmhmm," Rodney purred, half-opening his eyes to smile up at John and attempting to move, wanting the other man to feel as good as he did. Atlantis might have hated him, but John and his libido certainly didn't.

Another new noise that John liked. He grinned as he reached for the lube still lying in the middle of the bed and coated his fingers. Knowing that Rodney was relaxed by his climax, John pressed two fingers into him, groaning gutturally when they slid in easily. Rodney sighed and spread his legs wider, circling his hips against the pressure of John's fingers and tightening down on them when they twisted to rub his prostate.

"So damn hot and tight," John rasped, kissing him again, hard and fast. "Can't wait, gotta be in you..." He pulled his fingers free with a soft pop and held his cock in position for only a second before pushing forward, sinking into Rodney.

Rodney knew for an empirical fact that there was no way he was going to get hard again, but that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy the feeling of John sliding into him, pausing for a moment, then beginning to move, and it certainly didn't mean he couldn't enjoy the sight of John leaning in over him, hazel eyes half closed in concentration, wet tongue flicking out over swollen lips.

"Oh God, so good," John groaned. He caught his lips between his teeth, fighting for control; he didn't want this to end too fast, wanted to enjoy the sensation of being buried balls deep inside Rodney McKay.

"Yes, it is," Rodney murmured, sensing John's inner conflict and gentling his touch on his back to long slow strokes so that he could enjoy the feeling of John in him as long as possible.

John closed his eyes and lowered his head, his lips meeting Rodney's in a slow, gentle kiss unlike any they'd shared till now.

Those odd noises were back again, but this time they were less urgent, and Rodney really had to get John to admit he was the one making them, and even if he'd already come, this felt damn good, and could the entire galaxy just get put on hold so they could continue it as long as possible?

Listening to the soft, needy sounds Rodney was making had John groaning and moving faster, despite his best efforts. "Oh God, fuck, Rodney!" He yelled Rodney's name as he came.

Rodney murmured in response, tightening down on John's cock as they continued to move together, their lips brushing together as his movements slowly gentled. John gradually slumped down on top of Rodney, nuzzling the side of his neck while his breath slowed to normal.

"See, living together, we can just lie here and not worry about one of us having to get back to our own room."

"Mmm," Rodney answered, feeling too good to remind John that he couldn't go back to his room even if he wanted to.

"I like this," John murmured, lazily petting Rodney's chest. "Feels good having you here." He quirked a grin. "And I'll never have to worry about cold feet again."

"Excuse me? And why is that? If your feet go anywhere near my ass, that's the last thing that will."

"I wasn't planning to fold myself in half," John snorted. "But two bodies generate heat, which is trapped under the covers. Hence warm feet, Mr. Scientist."

Rodney grumbled but conceded the point. "Fine, fine, warm feet, two bodies, got it."

"Good boy."

Rodney growled again and shifted his head to bite John on the shoulder.

"Oh, baby, do it again."

"Slut," Rodney sighed, flopping back onto the bed. "And considering how often we've had sex in the past twenty-four hours, the odds of it happening again are infinitesimal."

John had to laugh. "For which my body is grateful. I don't think I could get it up again if my life depended on it. And since you seem to have decided on slut as a pet name, try to remember not to use it in public."

Rodney had to shudder at the reaction that would get. "No, I'll keep that for in private--unless you do something utterly slutty while we're on a mission."

John rolled his eyes. "Despite what you keep trying to convince everyone in Atlantis, I don't make a habit of trying to fuck everything that moves. But I make no promises if you keep wriggling your ass at me when we're in the field."

"I do not wriggle my ass at anyone!"

"Right. Just like you don't make any noise during sex."

Rodney's eyes narrowed. "I may moan occasionally, but not as much as you, Major."

"Sure, Rodney. Whatever you say, Rodney." John decided then and there that the next time, he was going to record them, and just let Rodney deny it then.

Rodney yawned, his hands slowing on John's back as he relaxed again. "Good answer."

***

When John awoke the next morning, he already had a smile on his face. And a scientist on his chest. His eyes opened, and he gazed fondly at Rodney, one hand coming up to stroke the fine, dark hair.

Shifting, Rodney made an unintelligible noise and squirmed closer, hiding his face in John's neck.

"And this would be why I said I'd never have cold feet again," John murmured with a low chuckle.

"Not cold, warm," Rodney mumbled against John's neck.

"Yeah, you are. And cuddly too. Who'da guessed?"

That comment woke Rodney up, and he lifted his head to blink at John. "Cuddly?"

"Yup. It's kinda cute."

"Cute?"

"Don't worry, your secret's safe with me. Who'd believe me, anyways?"

Rodney gave up and collapsed back onto John's chest with a groan. "I could kill you sometimes."

"But then you wouldn't get any more great sex."

"I suppose I could refrain from it then."

"You're all heart," Sheppard said dryly.

"We should probably think about getting up soon. We do have a morning briefing today, and I don't think Elizabeth will accept sex as an excuse for missing it."

"Mmm," Rodney murmured before slowly sitting up and stretching. "And I need to see if the archive was able to find any more information about the fragments, so I need to go to the lab and talk to Radek first."

John had been about to suggest breakfast together, but he knew he'd be wasting his time when Rodney was intent on getting to the lab. "You go ahead then. I may catch another half hour of sleep. I'll see you at the meeting."

Rodney slid out of the bed and stretched again to make sure nothing had cramped up during the night. "Don't oversleep," he chuckled, stroking John's chest and leaning in to kiss him. "Elizabeth will kick your ass, and then where will I be?"

"Kissing it better?"

"You wish."

"So I can protect you from evil feathers, but you won't save me from the wrath of Elizabeth? Some lover you are."

"I know, John; I'm a bastard, but you like me anyway." Rodney kissed him again and grabbed his bag before heading into the shower to clean up and get dressed.

Sheppard stared after him. "Yeah, I do," he whispered before lying back down. He could smell Rodney on the sheets, and he had a smile on his face as he drifted off again.

***

"Come with me." Rodney grabbed Carson by the shoulder of his lab coat and dragged him toward the door of the medical facilities.

"Wha-- Rodney! I'm working!" Carson sputtered as he tried to drag his heels and stop the madman currently dragging him away from his research.

"It can wait. I need your help; it'll only take a few minutes."

Carson debated whether he had any chance of making Rodney let go or if he should just give in and get it over with. Looking at the grip Rodney had on him, he sighed and started walking. "What's wrong now?"

"I need to get in my room." Rodney loosened his grip once Carson started walking under his own power. "No, I need you to go in my room and get some things for me. It won't take more than five minutes."

Carson stopped in his tracks and gaped at Rodney. "I'm a doctor, not a bloody bellhop!"

"Ha ha, and you're being a research assistant, not a bellhop. I can't get in there, and you can, so do it, Carson!"

"And how, pray tell, does getting your toothbrush constitute research?"

"It's not my toothbrush," Rodney explained patiently--for him anyway. "I need some papers I left in there. Important papers--plus I need some more clothes so you could get them for me as well: three shirts, a couple of pairs of pants, socks, underwear, oh and my jacket."

Carson's eyes narrowed. "And would ye like me to shine your shoes whilst I'm at it?"

Rodney looked down at his sneakers. "Of course not, they don't need to be shined."

Mouth opening and closing wordlessly several times, Carson finally shut his eyes and took a deep breath. "Did you know that the Roman army built a bloody great wall across the British Isles rather than face my ancestors when they were irked? Ye might want to take a lesson from that!"

Rodney stared at Carson if he'd gone insane. "What does that matter? It's not as if a wall is going to keep the Wraith out--Oh, and get my pillow too, will you?"

"Do you have any idea how many ways a person can be killed with a pillow?"

"Umm..." Rodney did a quick mental calculation in his head. "Forty-six?"

Carson stared at him. "Och, never mind. If I get your things, will you take them and go away?"

"Well, of course; I'll go drop all this off, and you can go back to your lab, and everyone will be happy."

Giving in was the fastest way to get rid of Rodney, who could be incredibly stubborn, so Carson sighed and set out for McKay's quarters, reminding himself to talk about the problem with one of the scientists. He didn't want this to become a daily occurrence.

"See, this is all I ask for, a little cooperation," Rodney beamed, trotting to keep up with Carson, who was half-running down the hall. They reached his room, and he glowered at the door that still refused to open for him but slid easily aside for Carson. Shaking his head, Carson went inside, jumping when the door slammed shut before Rodney could follow him.

"Verra odd." Wanting to get back to his work, Carson quickly gathered everything Rodney had asked for and headed back out, pausing as he approached the door until he saw that it opened.

"Thank you," Rodney breathed when he saw Carson come out with an armload of items. He grabbed the pillow and made an aborted attempt to move to the door which slammed shut in his face. "And fuck you," he snarled at the barrier.

"I am going back to my medical facilities, and I don't want to see you again unless you're ill or injured."

"Well, that's a cheery attitude," Rodney huffed as he watched Carson stalk down the hallway back toward his lab. After one final glare at the door, he headed for the transporter to take his armful to John's quarters, and then he was going to go back to work on trying to understand just why Atlantis hated him.

"Rodney?" Elizabeth called his name to attract his attention as she came down the hall toward him.

"If you can't tell, Elizabeth, I have my hands full right now, so you'll have to walk and talk."

"Actually, I'm concerned about why you have your hands full."

"Are you offering to carry some for me? Why thank you." Rodney held out the pile to Elizabeth so she could choose what she wanted to carry.

Like so many before her, Elizabeth chose the path of least resistance and took a few of the items. "I'm concerned with the reason, Rodney. You can't get into your quarters? And have found... alternate arrangements?"

"The reason for the alternate arrangements started before the need for them."

Elizabeth valiantly didn't picture Rodney McKay and John Sheppard together--mainly because she wanted privacy to try to wrap her mind around the concept. Though it had been one of the favorite betting pools for months, she'd never believed that the major would make a move. "What you and Major Sheppard do is your own affair. I am, however, concerned with city systems that are responding erratically."

"You mean other than my door?" Rodney's steps slowed as his interest grew in the problem.

"Well no. But if one is malfunctioning, any might. Do you have any idea why it's happening?"

"If I did, would I be standing here with an armload of belongings?"

"Rodney, I've learned not to assume anything when it comes to you." Elizabeth smiled briefly. "I take it, however, that's a no?"

"That's a no," he nodded, looking disgruntled. "The door opens for everyone except me; nothing else seems to be affected though."

"How odd. You'll inform me if you encounter any further problems with the system?"

"Of course I will, especially if the problems trap me anywhere or lock me out of anywhere."

"I'm sure Major Sheppard will be happy to assist you." Elizabeth began walking faster, wanting to get to the major and McKay's new shared quarters so she could rid herself of her burden and get away from him.

"Considering the only way I can get in my own quarters is with him, he'd damn well better..." Rodney paused and filed that thought away for further consideration.

"I had understood that you were sharing quarters with Major Sheppard now. Wouldn't that make those your own quarters?"

Rodney paused. "Well, yes, but these are still mine too."

"You want two sets of quarters?"

"Until I can get into mine on my own, yes!"

Elizabeth winced when she looked over Rodney's shoulder and met the gaze of Major Sheppard, who had just come up behind them.

"So you're only planning to stay until you can figure it out?" John kept his voice expressionless.

"No," Rodney explained, looking from one disapproving expression to the other, "once I can get into mine, I won't need to any longer."

"And how is that different from what I said?"

Elizabeth looked from one to other, fairly certain she understood Rodney's point but knowing that he would have to make John understand. She quietly handed Rodney's things back to him and slipped away, leaving the two men to work it out.

Rodney frowned. "It's the polar opposite, John; I would think that was clear."

John crossed his arms, mirroring one of Rodney's favorite positions. "Then explain it to those who aren't as smart as you, because I don't see much difference."

"Once I can get in my room again, I won't need to any longer. Does that make it any clearer?"

"Rodney, yes or no. Would you be with me if you hadn't been locked out of your room?" As Rodney opened his mouth, John repeated emphatically, "Yes or no."

"I--" Seeing the seriousness of John's expression, Rodney nodded. "Yes, of course yes."

John slumped slightly with relief. "You couldn't just say so?" He reached out and took some of Rodney's burdens.

"I did say so," Rodney protested. "But maybe I wasn't clear enough."

"No, you weren't," John agreed. He suddenly set Rodney's possessions on the floor, caught hold of his arms, and pulled him up against his own body to kiss him.

Though his arms and his pillow were trapped between them, Rodney's mouth was free, if only until John took it over. "Fine," he panted, "I wasn't clear, I won't make that mistake again; now can we get my things in your--our room before my arms break?"

"A pillow and a few clothes are going to break your arms?" John laughed, but he picked up the few things on the floor and started on toward their room. "So you had trouble getting in again?"

Rodney nodded. "Carson had to get my things for me, and he was damn snippy about it too."

Easily able to imagine how Rodney had asked or rather demanded Carson's help, John thought it was probably a miracle that Dr. Beckett hadn't scheduled him for involuntary surgery. "Well, hopefully you have everything you need now."

"You're here, aren't you?"

John's grin got sappy. "You sure know how to recover a moment."

"Trust me, I've had lots of practice at it."

John kissed him again. "I'm not going anywhere, Rodney. You're stuck with me now, so don't worry about it."

Rodney smiled and shifted the items in his arms. "But that's what I do best, Major, or haven't you figured that out?"

"Well, it may be the public thing you do best, but I have a different opinion on what your very best skill is."

Rodney smirked. "Probably the skill that's very close to your best one."

"Only very close? I'll have to work to improve my score."

"Are we planning on playing Prime, Not Prime?"

John laughed. "Should I start whispering mathematical formulas in your ear?"

Rodney looked intrigued. "It's a possibility."

About to reply, John watched as they drew even with the door to his room, Rodney closest to the doorway, and it opened automatically before he had a chance to think of it. Frowning slightly, he glanced at Rodney. "Did you think it open?"

"I--" Rodney stared at the door, then at John. "You mean you didn't?"

John shook his head. "Nope. Never had a chance."

Frowning at the door, Rodney carried his things inside, turning and holding his hand up to John to keep him outside. "Hold on a minute." It took barely a thought to shut the door, and he muttered in frustration at the ease of it.

"See, the city doesn't hate you. Just the door to your old quarters."

"But why? I never did anything to it," Rodney pouted.

"Maybe that's why. Maybe you're supposed to pet and feed them." John grinned as he moved out of arms' reach.

"That statement alone makes me concerned for your sanity."

"Oh, like you weren't thinking it."

"The feeding and petting of doors was the last thing on my mind, Major."

"How 'bout feeding and petting, or at least petting, me?"

Rodney reached out absently and patted John's head, his mind occupied with the mystery of his door problems.

"Didn't think so." John sat down to watch Rodney in action.

"All right," Rodney announced a bit later, "I have an idea; let's go try it out."

"Care to share, or am I just supposed to follow you around?"

"Following me around is fine for now."

"Next time we're on a mission, I may shoot you!"

"I thought you liked the view back there."

"Hello, senior officer here, remember me? I like to be kept informed of problems with the city that we're living in."

"The problem's not the city--well, not the city itself, if I'm correct, and I'm almost sure that I am." Rodney cut a glance toward John as they walked back to his room.

Rodney usually was right, much to the other scientists' annoyance as John had noticed, so John shrugged and followed. "Not the city itself, huh? So what's that leave?"

"Not what, who."

"Who? You mean one of the others is playing a joke on you?"

Rodney sighed. "No, John, no one is playing a joke on me."

"You're not going to tell me, are you?"

"Just hold on a minute." They arrived at his room, and Rodney glared at the door which refused to open. "John, touch me," he ordered.

His eyebrows rose, but John caught Rodney's hand in his.

The moment John's hand touched Rodney's, the door shot open. Rodney pulled his hand away from John's, and the door slid shut. "Fuck, it is you," he growled.

"The hell it is! I'm not doing anything!"

Rodney grabbed John's arm, and the door opened; he let it go, and it closed. "Need any more explanation?"

"I swear I'm not doing anything," John exclaimed again, glaring at the door in betrayal.

"You don't have to!" Rodney shouted in frustration. "The city loves you; it hates me!"

"Don't exaggerate. Everything else works fine for you, including our door..." Sheppard trailed off, his eyes widening in surprised speculation. "Everything else. And the door to our shared quarters opens the moment you get near it. And this one opens when we come here together."

"Exactly, my point," Rodney sighed. "The city wants what you want."

"Actually, I'm not into kidnapping. I'd say the city wants us together. Or at least to stay together now that we got there on our own."

"So the city is a yenta?"

"How should I know? Maybe the Ancients programmed the city to save space and lock people in together if it finds them compatible."

"And just who is it expecting to have the children?" Rodney snapped.

John shuddered. "I really don't think it would inflict the two of us on a child."

"God no!" Rodney made a disgusted face. "Look, John, maybe this wasn't intentional, but I need you to make the city let me in here on my own."

"Rodney, if I could, I would. I really am not doing anything. Sure, I want you with me, but like I said, not through coercion."

Rodney sighed and dropped onto his bed. "I just want to be able to come and go when I want to."

John sat down beside him and slid an arm around his shoulders. "Maybe after we're together for a while, it'll get the idea and stop it. And we could move into one of the double rooms, so you could have your own space."

"You're placating me," Rodney muttered, though he didn't move away John.

"I'm trying to help when there's nothing I can do about the real issue."

"It sucks."

"But you get me."

Rodney gave a slight smile. "Which doesn't suck so much."

"I haven't demonstrated all my sucking skills yet."

"Has anyone ever told you that you have a one-track mind?"

"I think you've mentioned it about half a dozen times in the last day."

"Which proves my point."

"Are you complaining about my current track?"

"Only if your current track isn't helping me pack the rest of my things."

John looked at him. "When was I demoted to personal slave?"

"Don't you mean promotion? I assure you, the perks are great."

"Well, I can't argue with that last part." John tightened his arm around Rodney's shoulder. "So let's get everything packed so we can discuss the perks and maybe go house-hunting."

Everything wasn't too much, especially considering most of Rodney's clothes had migrated to John's room over the course of the last week, so packing took less than a half an hour. Rodney studied the cases, then looked over at John. "Aren't your marines here to do the grunt work?"

"Rodney, I am not asking the military to carry your bags. Someone would shoot you."

"And you wouldn't protect me? So much for my perks."

"Hate to tell you this, but I'm not bulletproof. But I will carry half of this stuff for you." John glanced toward the door to open it and stopped abruptly when he saw some kind of cart outside the door. "To the cart that I really hope you knew about and called here."

Rodney leaned out the doorway and looked up and down the hall before his gaze settled on the cart John was talking about. It was about a meter long and made of what seemed to be the same metallic alloy the Ancients used for their equipment. The lower deck was a flat shelf about a foot above the floor, supported by a solid housing broken by seams that might lead to internal compartments. The 'front' was differentiated from the 'back' by several crystals set in the housing, though they didn't seem to be of the same type that powered the equipment on Atlantis. The cart rested on four solid wheels that were partially hidden below the sturdy housing, but there didn't seem to be a handle to push or pull it with. "If I wake up one morning manacled to your bed because the city decides I need to stay there, I am really going to be pissed."

John thought about that for a moment. "Could be fun. As long as we had the keys or whatever to get you out," he added hastily at Rodney's look. Rodney's expression spoke volumes, and he turned to grab the largest of his cases, grunting as he piled it on the cart.

"You could chain me to the bed too," John offered.

Stackhouse, who'd been walking down the hall munching on an MRE to stave off the hunger pangs, choked. Once he could breathe again, he glared at them and stomped away, muttering under his breath.

"What the hell is wrong with him?" Rodney asked, momentarily distracted from his plight by the sergeant's strange attitude.

John shrugged. "Who knows. If he's still acting weird in a few days, I'll tell him to see Heightmeyer." John put Rodney's other bags down on the cart and looked back into the room. "Is that everything?"

"One minute." Rodney went back into his quarters and looked around at the now barren space, his shoulders slumping as he sighed.

John came up behind him but didn't touch him. "Regretting moving in with me?"

Rodney shook his head. "No." He reached back and drew John closer so that he could lean against him. "I'm just going to miss this place."

Wrapping his arms around Rodney's waist, John rested his cheek against the dark hair. "We'll find a place for both of us," he promised.

Rodney nodded, then chuckled. "If you start singing songs from West Side Story, you're a dead man."

John laughed. "No, I've never felt the urge to star in a live musical. How 'bout we just get this load back to our quarters before something else weird happens?"

"Just do me a favor; don't think anything until we're there, all right?"

"Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not a complete airhead who can think about nothing, but you can walk ahead so I can concentrate on your ass."

Rodney turned so that he could brush a kiss over John's mouth. "While you're pushing the cart."

"Slave driver. I ought to harness you to it and make you pull the cart!"

"And then you could visit me in the infirmary when my back goes out."

"Oh, hospital sex. Kinky!" John grinned even as he moved behind the cart... which started to move the moment he reached for it.

"Pervert," Rodney sighed, looking back over his shoulder, then at the cart. "Is that..." He stopped, and the cart did too.

John bit his lip, trying to hold back laughter. "The cart seems to like you," he offered in a strangled tone.

"Wonderful, maybe I can live on it!"

John pouted.

Rodney growled.

"Oh, start walking before something else happens."

"That thought fills me with terror," Rodney sighed, still looking behind him. The cart started moving when he did, and he groaned. "Wonderful--the city loves you; the cart loves me."

"Think of it as a puppy."

"Have I mentioned I hate dogs?"

John stopped and stared at the back of Rodney's head. "How can you hate dogs? They're cute and friendly, and it's un-American."

"I'm Canadian," Rodney said dryly.

"I'm not. But you're cute too, so I guess I'll keep you."

"I'm not even trying to understand that comment," Rodney sighed. "But I am in no way a dog." Grumbling, he started walking, the cart following in his wake.

"You can hump me if you like."

"Ignoring you now."

John laughed. "So that means I can say anything and you won't respond? Cool."

Rodney kept walking, not saying a word.

"This mean I'm going to have to grovel and then we'll have make up sex?"

"Still ignoring you."

John came around the side of the cart and pulled Rodney to a halt so he could kiss him.

"Fine, that I won't ignore," Rodney mumbled, glowering at John.

"Glad to hear it. I'd hate to think I was losing my appeal for you."

"The city would probably kill me if that happened."

John rolled his eyes. "No, it won't. Because it knows I want you alive."

"Well, someone has to be around to save everyone time and again."

"Yes, Rodney. Whatever you say, Rodney. Remind me again why I actually like being around you?"

"Because I'm brilliant and I put out."

About to reply, John was distracted by the sight of Ford and Bates. "Ford, why are you handing Bates ration bars or MREs every time I see you?" John asked with a frown as they came upon the two soldiers yet again.

"Coincidence, sir," Ford replied smartly, snapping a salute before fleeing.

"I..." Rodney had lifted a finger to make a point, then stopped and shook his head. "I don't want to know what that was about."

"You're probably right." John halted in front of their door. "I'm starting to think everyone in this city is nuts."

"Present company excepted of course."

"Many would differ with you on that." John thought the door open and went inside, amused when the cart waited till Rodney entered to follow.

"You aren't nuts, John," Rodney answered, patting the taller man on the shoulder and ignoring the cart which trundled itself over to a corner and settled there, "you're crazy like a fox."

"Guess that's why we do so well together." John eyed the cart speculatively. "Do me a favor? Just walk out into the hall for a minute, okay?"

Rodney started to ask why, but stopped and walked to the door, shaking his head as it opened easily for him. Once in the hall, he turned and looked back into the room. "Well?"

John watched the cart intently, looking somewhat disappointed when it showed no signs of movement. "Try walking away and letting the door close behind you."

Rodney opened his mouth to ask why, but, again, decided he didn't want to know, especially not with the way John was looking at the cart. He turned and walked away, hearing the door slide closed.

John's eyes widened when the cart somehow slid Rodney's belongings to the floor and sped to the door, which opened to let it out. He winced and waited for the yelling that was sure to ensue.

"Why is this thing stalking me?" Rodney howled from a good distance down the hall. The cart had zipped out of the room, slowing only when it was near him then stopping completely less than a foot away from his leg.

John stuck his head out to watch, and then walked over to join Rodney. "Um, you were the first person it saw in ten thousand years, and it imprinted on you?"

"Now wait a minute; you get the city doing what you want, and I get Rover the Wonder Cart following me around?"

A strange, choking noise escaped John as he desperately tried not to laugh. "I'm sure it'll be very helpful when you find new labs and want to bring stuff back to your own."

Rodney glowered and aimed a kick at the cart which just sat there and took it, leaving him feeling vaguely guilty.

"If that really was a puppy, you'd be getting one limpid-eyed look right about now."

"Much like the one you're giving me."

"Yeah, but you didn't kick me. Well, bring Rover home, and we can see if telling it firmly to 'stay' will help."

"Have I mentioned you aren't in the least bit funny?" Glowering at the cart again, Rodney stepped around it and John and stalked back toward the room, grumbling under his breath the whole way.

"I give great massages though," John offered, trying not to snicker when the cart followed at Rodney's heels.

"Fine, with all this stress, I need one."

"Poor baby. Would you like me to smack it on the nose with a rolled up newspaper?"

"Not improving my mood, Major."

"Yeah, well, we're both going to be sore and bowlegged if we keep it up with the unremitting sex."

"Easily remedied." The door opened, and Rodney walked into the room, grumbling when he tried to close the door in their faces and it didn't budge.

Figuring that Rodney might remember he had a gun if John continued needling him, the major kept his mouth shut about the city wanting them together. He made a mental note to search the database for anything relating to Ancient marriage or bonding. "You want that massage now, or would you rather go get something to eat?"

Rodney sighed and turned to look at the other man. "You aren't going to let me sulk, are you?"

John shook his head. "Nope, I'm pretty sure I can distract you from any woes, real or imaginary."

"Sure of yourself, are you?"

A raised eyebrow and challenging look from hazel eyes was John's only response.

"Oh yes, I forgot who I was talking to, of course you are." Rodney sighed and leaned against the wall until he was nudged out of the way by the cart, which then rolled to what was apparently 'its' corner.

John stared at the cart. "Does this make us parents?"

Rodney whimpered.

John came over to hug him, though not without a wary glance at the cart in case it was jealous.

"Are they trying to drive me insane?" Rodney asked, mumbling the words into John's shoulder. John simply hugged him, knowing that words weren't going to help just then. His hands ran soothingly over Rodney's back, and he unconsciously began humming half under his breath.

Bit by bit, Rodney relaxed until finally his arms came up and around John's waist as well. "Fine, you've proved your point; you can distract me," he sighed. "Now, if Rover could go get food, my life would be perfect."

John was looking over Rodney's shoulder, and he wondered if it would make things better or worse if he mentioned that Rover was heading for the door.

"Tell me that is not what I think I hear."

"It's probably too early in this relationship for us to start lying to each other."

"I don't care; do it."

"The only thing you hear is the water slapping against the city."

"Oh good. I like water, well, when I'm not in danger of drowning anyway," Rodney rambled. "I like the beach, except for the sand; it gets everywhere and itches. And then there's the sun; I burn easily, you know."

John pulled his head back to stare down at the top of Rodney's. Even for McKay that was confusing. "Bed," he said firmly. "You need sleep."

"You promised me a massage," Rodney grumbled.

"Which I will give you once you're lying down in bed, naked. And face down. Your back and shoulders are one giant knot of tension." John nudged him toward the bed.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "I can't imagine why."

"You. Quiet. Naked. Bed. Now."

"Pushy," Rodney grumbled, but he was already toeing off his sneakers and dragging his shirt over his head.

"Good boy. Just for that you get my extra special primo massage." John began removing his clothes as well.

"Which differs from your regular primo massage in what way?" His pants crumpled on the floor, Rodney dropped onto the bed and arranged the pillow under his crossed arms so that he could watch John approaching.

"Trade secret." Down to his boxers, John moved to straddle Rodney's hips while reaching for the hand lotion that was on the small shelf by the bed. "It'd be better with massage oil, but I think I can manage with this."

"Mmmm," Rodney sighed, already relaxing even though John had yet to touch him. "Should I ask for references?"

John snickered. "Sure, I'd love to hear that message to the SGC. I think General O'Neill might decline to forward your letters though." He poured some of the lotion into the palm of one hand, rubbed it between both to warm it, and put his hands on Rodney's shoulders, fingertips unerringly finding the worst of the knots.

"Mrgf," Rodney answered, groaning deep in his chest at the pressure that was almost pleasurable in its pain. John smiled faintly and continued working on Rodney, knowing that this was going to take a while. But Rodney would feel much better for it, and it was no hardship for John to have his hands on him--and he liked taking care of Rodney.

The tension slowly drained from Rodney's back, and he sighed in rapture. "I'm liking this extra special primo massage," he murmured.

"Oh good. I like repeat customers." Rodney had knots in places where John didn't know it was possible, but the tension was slowly leaching from his body as John slowly and carefully worked at each one, content to take his time.

"Better not have any others," Rodney mumbled.

"Nope, you're a handful all on your own." John pressed a kiss to a shoulder blade and continued the massage. "And I'm a one-man slut."

"Good boy," Rodney sighed, feeling as if he was melting into the mattress.

"Woof." John slid toward Rodney's feet and bent over to nip at one tempting, round buttock.

"If you give me rabies, I'm going to kill you."

"I had all my shots before they let me come through the gate."

"Yes, but you might have caught something from someone else."

John sighed. "Rodney, as I keep telling you--and you've claimed to believe, I might add--there hasn't been anyone else."

"Mmm." Rodney sighed and squirmed on the bed, getting comfortable again. "I believe you, but they want you, you know."

"But I want you."

"That's because I'm amazing."

"Gotta love that humility, Rodney." John chuckled as he started the massage again, pleased that Rodney was more relaxed.

Rodney growled, or tried to; it was exceedingly difficult considering he felt like he was melting.

"You sound like a grumpy Ewok," John snickered, moving back to kneel over Rodney's thighs as he started on a lower part of Rodney's back.

"Now that really puts me in the mood," Rodney groused, trying unsuccessfully to squirm out from under John. "Tell me I remind you of the thing that ruined Return of the Jedi; should I call you Jar Jar Binks next?"

"Bet I could make you scream if I had that tongue." John smacked one squirming cheek. "Stay still! You're still wound tighter than an old-fashioned watch. You're not going anywhere until I do something about that."

"Well, then stop make me nauseous talking about sex and that, that thing!"

John burst into laughter. "There, there. I promise that the only tongue that will touch you is mine." Rodney only grumbled in response, squirming again.

For the next several minutes the only sounds in the room were caused by their breathing and the occasional soft slap of John's hands against Rodney's body.

"John?" Rodney murmured, the harsh edges of his voice smoothed out by relaxation.

"Right here." By now John was working on Rodney's buttocks and thighs, leaving his arms for later.

"You meant it, right?"

"Since I usually mean what I say, I'm sure I did, but which it in particular?"

"About..." Rodney yawned and wiggled again, sighing as he felt John shift above him. "About wanting me, just me."

John stilled. "Yes, that I definitely meant."

Rodney was silent for a long moment, then he sighed out a smile. "Good, I like that."

"Me too." About to say more, John bit his lip instead when the door slid open and Rover trundled in, a crate of MREs on its back. Apparently it managed to find dinner for Rodney, though John wasn't sure how.

"Wha's that?" Rodney asked, hearing the door but too relaxed to turn his head to look and see.

"Um, nothing. Just keep still and let me continue." John hoped Rodney would let it go.

"Thought I heard the door." Rodney still hadn't moved though a thread of tension ran through his body. Feeling the tension, John sighed. It would only get worse if he left Rodney guessing.

"Rover's back. With what looks like a crate of MREs from stores."

"Rover brought me food?" Rodney perked up slightly at that. "I might start to like that little guy."

"Leave it to you. You hate it until it feeds you. Should I start keeping snacks in my pocket for you?" John ignored the fact that he already did.

"Mmm, no, you have my snack in your pants."

"And you call me a slut. Good thing I like that focus on me," John laughed. "Not that there was ever any doubt I would."

"Is 'cause you're pretty smart too." The words were mumbled into the pillow.

"Sh, that's supposed to be our little secret." John worked his way down Rodney's left leg and started on his foot.

Rodney's leg twitched. "Tickles."

John firmed his touch until Rodney sighed and lay bonelessly against the bed once again. This was the first time he'd been able to take his time exploring every inch of Rodney until he'd looked his fill, and he was enjoying it as much as Rodney was enjoying the massage.

"Could make lots of money with those hands," Rodney mumbled.

"Trying to pimp me out?"

"No money here, 'member?"

"It's the oldest form of barter."

"Rather keep that for m'self."

"Glad to hear it. I was starting to worry."

Rodney kicked ineffectually at John with his free leg.

Laughing, John pressed a kiss to the back of his knee. "Behave, McKay." He glanced down in surprise when Rover bumped the bed. "I think your pet wants you to take its prize and praise it."

Rodney lifted his head to stare blearily at the cart. "You must be kidding." The bed rocked again, and he groaned. "Good Rover, good job. Now go in the corner and recharge or something."

That statement made him pause, and he half turned on his side to look at the cart. "Hmm, I wonder just what it runs on anyway; I don't see an external power source."

"Rodney, eat your MRE and stop thinking."

Sighing, Rodney took the carton of meals off the cart, still looking at it speculatively as it rolled over to its corner. "Want one?" he asked, breaking open the box and pulling a couple of pouches out.

John took one, but he had to point out, "You know we're going to have to give those back. They're mission supplies."

"Do you want to try to take them away from Rover?"

"I am not looking forward to trying to explain this to Elizabeth." John shook his head. "Bates'll probably think it's a threat."

"It's a cart," Rodney pointed out, finally sitting up and leaning against the wall as he opened his MRE. "I highly doubt it's going to steal the database or tell the Wraith where we are."

"This is Bates we're talking about. He accused Teyla of helping the Wraith. I wonder if it could zap him." John eyed the cart speculatively.

Rodney gave a slow grin. "We could find out; try to attack me."

"Ha ha. Let's not put the city and Rover at odds." John munched on his MRE, wondering how Rodney could actually like these things.

"It really doesn't make much sense, does it? If Rover is run by the city, why is it following me and not you?" Crumbs flew from Rodney's lips as he spoke, and he licked his fingers in between sentences.

John shrugged. "Maybe the city's more sentient than we've been giving it credit for, and parts of it are fairly autonomous. That part happened to take a shine to you. Which I think shows good taste."

"Well, of course." Rodney's tone was somewhat distracted as he was staring at Rover again. "I'll have to get it to the lab eventually, which shouldn't be a problem."

"We're not finished with your massage. Stay!"

"If you wanted me relaxed, why did you make me get up to eat?"

"Because you're hypoglycemic. And your pet would have collapsed the bed if you didn't give it some attention."

"I hate it when you're logical," Rodney grumbled. "Me Spock, you Kirk, remember?"

"I always thought Spock was the sexy one."

"You probably just imagine all the intense sex from only having it once every seven years."

"I prefer at least once every seven hours." John thought about it. "Naw, twice."

Rodney snorted out a laugh. "Elizabeth might take issue with us going at it in the middle of the conference table during a debriefing."

"Side rooms," John replied succinctly.

"With Rover to guard the door."

"See, it's doable."

"Just like you," Rodney chuckled, leaning over to brush a kiss over John's mouth.

"Makes us perfect for each other then." John slid an arm around Rodney's shoulders, drawing him close to lean against John's side.

"I think it's more than just the great sex, John," Rodney answered, getting an arm behind John's back.

"True, but that certainly doesn't hurt." John smiled down at the man snuggling into his embrace.

"Not in the least." Finishing his MRE, Rodney tossed it toward the garbage pail and sighed as he leaned back against John again. "Great sex is... great, but there's got to be more for it to work."

John nodded. "I like you, and I trust you, Rodney. Not just because you're the smartest guy here, but because even when you're scared to death, you still do what needs to be done."

Rodney gave a lopsided smile and brushed a kiss against John's temple. "I wasn't asking for reasons, just commenting on the fact, but thank you. You... you make it easier to do what has to be done, even when it's not what I want to do."

"Well, I hope saving my life falls into the 'what you do want to do' category," John chuckled warmly. "Unless necrophilia's a kink you forgot to mention." As they sat there, reclining against the pillows, John's hands moved constantly over Rodney, tracing the curve of a muscle here, stroking the light furring of hair there, touching him affectionately without conscious volition.

"Well, damn, you figured it out; next you're going to be complaining about my Wraith fetish." Rodney shifted with each touch, pressing against John's hand even as his own stroked over John's thigh, tracing complex pattern in the dark hair there.

Finally noticing what they were doing, John chuckled. "You're just like a cat, arching into a hand petting you. Hell, you're even sort of kneading me. I've always been more of a dog person, but I'm starting to see the attraction of cats."

Rodney looked down at John's hand and then at his own and shrugged. "The attraction's obvious; cats are superior companions, and they don't slobber on you."

"But dogs are cuddly. Then again, so are you. I get the best of both worlds."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"I'm sensing less than total enthusiasm here, McKay. That was a compliment. Well, a bit of gloating too, but definitely a compliment."

Rodney chuckled. "Well, if you really want the whole dog and cat thing, I can call Rover over, and he can snuggle with you."

"Naw, he likes you better, and I'm not sharing, so let him stay where he is.

"Rodney? When did we start calling the cart 'he'?"

"Ever since you gave it a name."

"That's just wrong."

"Well, I could call it a she but a she named Rover? I don't think so."

John pulled a pillow over his head. "You're always a slut for the boys." His voice was slightly muffled by the pillow but still perfectly audible. "I should have known I was in trouble when you named it."

"Boy, one boy," Rodney corrected, before glowering. "I did not name it; you did!"

"No, I didn't; you did. I guess you like dogs after all."

"Considering you are one..."

"Want me to wag my tail for you?"

"I thought you were supposed to be relaxing me."

"Haven't you ever heard of sex therapy?" But John was nudging Rodney flat again, this time on his back so he could start working on the front of him.

"I thought that was for people with dysfunctional... never mind." Rodney settled on his back and pulled the pillow under his head again, stretching out and crossing his arms behind his head.

"For relaxation!" John shook his head. He moved to kneel astride Rodney again, trying not to notice how his boxers were the only thing between their cocks.

Rodney chuckled and rubbed a leg against the inside of John's thigh. "That's what they're calling it these days?"

"Why do I get the feeling you're not interested in the therapeutic benefits at the moment?" John rasped. "Which means I'm going to get to hear more of those breathy little noises you make." His cock jumped at the thought.

"I told you, I don't make the noises, you do!" Rodney glared up at John.

"Uh huh. Whatever you say, Rodney." John decided on the spot to prove to Rodney that he made noise--it was much too hot to ignore--and he reached for the city systems, trying to get the monitors they'd used to detect life signs to record.

"Oh, get on with the massage already," Rodney grumbled.

Fairly certain that the city would do what he asked of it, John turned his full attention to Rodney. "You're supposed to just lie there and relax. And that includes your mouth."

"Should I think of England too?"

"No, think of me." John's hands carefully dug into the muscles of Rodney's shoulders and chest, finding and loosening the remaining knots. "And if anything new tenses up, I'll do my best to relax it."

Rodney sighed and relaxed back against the pillows, his eyes half-lidded as he watched John touch him. "You military types are so accommodating. Did they teach you that in Officer school?"

"Yeah, in Interrogation Techniques 101."

"And how many people have you interrogated?"

"I was a pilot; I never really had a chance to interact with the enemy. You'll have to let me know how I do."

Rodney shrugged. "For someone with no practical experience, you're all right."

John's eyes narrowed. Oh, for that he was going to save the recording and play it back for Rodney often. "Just all right? I'll have to try harder then." His touch was now meant to arouse rather than relax.

"Harder is good, harder is very, very good," Rodney murmured, arching up against John's touch, rubbing his chest against the strong hands. A moment later the hands were gone, only to be replaced by a tongue. John flicked a nipple with the tip, teasing Rodney as he waited for the sounds the scientist always made in bed. A long, low moan erupted from Rodney's throat, and he grasped at John's head, holding him in place for more of the same treatment.

"Oh yeah, just like that," John whispered in a throaty rasp completely unlike his normal voice. The massage forgotten, he lightly scraped his teeth over a nipple before suckling on it while he fought to free himself of his boxers.

Rodney's verbalizations had devolved into low grunts and rasps, and he yanked on John's hair, trying to keep him in place as he moved. But John had his own ideas, and he pulled free, sliding down lower. He bypassed Rodney's hardening cock in favor of the soft skin behind his balls, which he licked and stroked avidly.

"Fuck!" The high-pitched yelp echoed through the room, and Rodney spread his legs wider, entranced by the sensation. That was a new sound, and one that John liked, so he stayed there for a while with Rodney squirming under him. But he had something else in mind, and eventually he pushed Rodney's legs farther apart and drew his knees over his shoulders, opening him in order to lick between his cheeks.

Rodney's whines acquired an even higher pitch though they were accented by rough gasps for air. When John's hair slipped out of range, Rodney grabbed for his hand, holding on tightly as he arched on the bed. John's fingers interlaced with Rodney's, and he gripped them as he slowly probed Rodney's opening with the tip of his tongue. He licked and teased, pushing forward hard enough for Rodney to feel but not hard enough to press past the tight ring.

Squirming to get more pressure, Rodney panted for air, soft, needy noises escaping his lips as he twisted, needing more in him. It was one of the hottest things John had ever heard, and he pushed harder, letting his tongue open Rodney for him.

A low groan ripped from Rodney's throat, and he arched up off the bed, the muscles in his thighs straining as he scrabbled at John's hair, his shoulders, the sheets, anything for grounding.

"God, you're so fucking hot," John rasped as he surged up Rodney's body, settling between his legs. He grabbed for the lotion again and quickly coated himself, then pressed forward until he began to sink into Rodney.

"... fuckin' hot," Rodney rasped in agreement, grabbing John, his fingers digging into the firm muscle of his shoulders, dragging John down onto and into him. John let out a long groan of pleasure as he was sheathed in Rodney's tight heat, drawn ever deeper until he couldn't go any farther. He stilled, shuddering with pure lust, and the hazel eyes opened to meet Rodney's dazed blue an instant before he took Rodney's mouth in a voracious kiss.

Rodney's cry was muffled by John's lips, and he ate at the tongue sweeping through his mouth, feeling possessed in every way.

His hips going back and forth more rapidly with each thrust, John again tangled his fingers with Rodney's, needing to feel connected to him as the sensations grew.

"John... fuck, John," Rodney whispered, the noise barely audible beneath their panting breaths and the slap of their bodies moving together. "Going to..." His fingers tightened down around John's as he came, splattering both their stomachs with warm droplets of semen.

John felt every ripple and spasm around his cock, and he responded by fucking Rodney faster, driving toward his own climax. "Rodney," he moaned, his back arching as he slammed forward and came.

"Mmkay, now I'm relaxed," Rodney mumbled, collapsing back against the mattress and smiling beatifically.

"Oh good, because I don't think I can move," John mumbled against Rodney's throat.

"Not even a little bit? I can feel my hip dislocating..."

John's response was a heartfelt groan, but he rolled to one side, off of Rodney.

"Good boy," Rodney muttered, rolling to pillow his head on John's shoulder, nuzzling his face against the damp skin there and draping an arm around John's waist and a leg over his thighs.

"You just wanted to be on top," John pretended to grumble even while drawing Rodney closer.

"Yeah, I hear you complaining." Rodney scrabbled for the blanket and dragged it up over them.

"Of course you can hear me now that you're not making all that noise."

"Was not," Rodney grumbled. "Was you." He yawned and somehow managed to curl closer around John.

John looked down at him, about to argue, but it looked like Rodney was finally relaxed enough to sleep well, so he let it go. He could replay the recording just as well in the morning. "We'll talk about it tomorrow." He pressed a kiss to Rodney's temple and closed his eyes.

***

"John." Rodney lay still, staring out into the dim room, watching for movement. "John, wake up!"

The major came alert instantly, his arm tightening protectively around Rodney. "What's wrong?" he demanded in a quiet tone designed not to attract attention from anyone else who might be there.

"There's something out there; I can hear it!"

John stared at him. Then he sat up slowly, keeping Rodney between him and the wall as he looked around. After a moment the tension melted from his muscles, and he sank back down. "Apparently your pet is also a maid."

Rodney sat up, thinking the lights on and staring at Rover. The cart now had retractable arms, and it apparently thought that oh-too-fucking early was the right time to put things away. "Rover! Go to your corner!" he snarled, feeling like an idiot for saying it, and then a double idiot when the cart obeyed, tucking the arms back into its upper shelf and settling against the wall.

"I guess we know now how it got your dinner last night," John said to the ceiling.

"I hate my life," Rodney muttered, dropping facedown on the mattress.

"No, you don't. And the noise you make every night proves it."

"Are you saying I snore?"

John smirked. "Not exactly." And he started the recording he'd made the night before.

It took a moment for Rodney to realize just what he was listening to, but when he did, he smirked, his blue eyes gleaming with triumph. "Ha! Listen to you!"

"To me!" John growled, unable to believe he was still denying it. "You know damn well that's you, Rodney!" But unfortunately, neither of them had ever spoken the other's name so it was impossible to prove. This time. His eyes narrowed, and John promised himself that next time Rodney wasn't going to get to come till he'd screamed John's name and proven it once and for all.

"There, there," Rodney soothed, patting John's shoulder, "I know it's not easy to deal with, but it's really hot, John."

"Yes, it is." The narrow-eyed look remained focused on Rodney.

"So why are you so worked up about it?" Feeling supremely self-satisfied by the evidence he'd heard, Rodney kissed John's forehead and climbed over him to get out of bed.

John shook his head. If he didn't know better, he'd say Rodney believed the nonsense he was spouting. But he'd take care of that later. For now... "So are you going to go tell Elizabeth about Rover? 'Cause I want to be there for it."

Rodney looked over at the cart which was still in the corner where it had retreated at his order. "Later; right now I need a shower, and then I'll think up a rational explanation for him--it!"

"I can't wait to hear that." John stood up and stretched, indifferent to his nudity. He bussed Rodney in passing as he padded toward the bathroom, intent on brushing his teeth and getting a shower.

"Hey! I was going in there!"

"I'm pretty sure we've proven that there's room for both of us."

"I hate peeing in front of other people," Rodney muttered.

"Rodney, I'm pretty sure it's going to happen once or twice in the rest of our lives. Besides, I hate to break it to you, but I'm really not interested in watching you pee!"

"Thank God!" Rodney shuddered and shuffled over to the toilet while John stood at the sink brushing his teeth. It was amazing how comfortable the Ancient versions of their accessories felt now, but they did.

Pleased that Rodney hadn't argued about how long they'd be together, John behaved himself and kept his back to the other man till he heard the flush that indicated it was okay to turn around again. Then they swapped places so he could relieve his bursting bladder.

"Ooo kno, E-lishbet migh be gla a'out Rover," Rodney commented around a mouthful of toothpaste.

"Well, maybe if he or his brothers, which I assume are out there somewhere, helps someone other than you."

Rodney spat into the sink and looked around at John. "I do not want a herd of Rovers following me!"

"Neither do I! My shins'd never be the same if I had to fight my way through them to get to you."

"And then there are those arms and pincers..." Rodney grinned evilly.

"No wonder evil, mad scientists are such a stereotype."

"They aren't evil; they're just misunderstood." Rodney rinsed his mouth and walked over to the shower, concentrating to turn it on and pleased when it worked.

"Sure you are." John didn't look convinced. "Who's trying to attack who with animated machinery?"

"Only because you're making clandestine recordings of our intimate moments!"

"Because you're denying reality. And something I happen to like a lot." John followed him into the shower enclosure, nudging Rodney slightly to the side.

"I have a perfect grasp on reality," Rodney huffed, reaching for the soap and automatically turning to begin lathering John's chest.

"Uh huh." The only thing that was keeping John from arguing was that he suspected Rodney would stop what he was doing if he did. And arguing came a distant second to having Rodney's hands on him. Besides, he was going to win eventually. He had reality on his side.

Rodney gave a self-satisfied smile as he circled his hands on John's chest, the smooth feel of warm, slick flesh under his palms making him sigh, and he leaned in for a kiss. John met him halfway, water flowing over his bent head and slicking their dark hair to their skulls like seals' pelts. His hands rested lightly on Rodney's hips, fingertips gently stroking the wet skin that already felt so familiar.

"Mmm, feel good," Rodney murmured against John's lips before pressing his tongue inside the warm, wet cavern of his mouth, sharing the taste of the toothpaste they'd both used.

John's hands slid down to cup Rodney's ass and draw him closer, pulling him up onto his toes so John didn't have to lean down as much. The taste of toothpaste was dissipating, and he hummed his pleasure as he began to taste unadulterated Rodney.

"Need to go talk to 'Lizabeth," Rodney murmured, stroking his hands over John's back, his voice heavy with pleasure.

"Soon," John replied softly, rocking against him lazily.

"Soon?" Rodney queried.

"After." He punctuated the statement with another slow thrust of his hips.

Rodney nodded as he ran his lips over John's jawline and down his neck. "After is good, nothing to worry Elizabeth about."

"No, I think we can handle this on our own."

"Only think?" Rodney leaned into John and rubbed against him, the water easing their motions.

"I'm sure." John spread his legs for balance, not wanting either of them to slip and fall.

"Good boy." Rodney dragged one hand up to John's hair.

"Woof." John eyed him wryly before kissing him again.

Rodney rolled his eyes but enjoyed the kiss until it ended. "Have I mentioned I don't like dogs?"

"I told you dogs are great. Besides, dog or not, you're stuck with me, and you like it."

"You don't have fleas, do you?"

John shuddered. "No. No bugs of any kind."

"This is good considering we've been having unsafe sex for almost two weeks!"

John rolled his eyes and kissed Rodney again to shut him up. Rodney muttered against John's lips but didn't pull back. They moved together more rapidly, and John's breath hitched as he stiffened and began to come.

"Oh fuck..." Rodney breathed, grinding against John's body, the first touch of John's come on his abdomen triggering his own climax.

They leaned together, the water sheeting over them, and gradually caught their breath. "Good morning," John finally said with a grin.

"Shower sex, good," Rodney mumbled.

John laughed. "I made the man with the stellar IQ preverbal. Go me!"

Rodney growled and stomped on John's foot.

"Hey! No breaking my foot or you'll have to go on missions with Bates till it heals."

"Do that and I'll send Kavanaugh with you!"

"You wouldn't dare!"

Rodney smirked. "You want to try me? Plus, it might get him captured, and that would only be a bonus to all of us."

John shuddered. "Or I might just shoot myself in the head to get away from him!"

"Don't you dare!"

John hugged Rodney apologetically. "I wouldn't. I have something to come home to now."

Rodney nodded sharply. "And you'd damn well better keep coming home."

"I will if you will."

"I have no intention of dying on some backward world in a strange galaxy!"

"Good. I've kinda gotten used to having you around."

"Oh, now that makes me feel so much better."

John smiled wryly as he reached for the soap to begin cleaning them up again. "I kinda like it too."

"Why are you so cheery in the morning?" Rodney sighed. "I thought you liked to sleep in."

"Sex perks me right up."

Rodney snorted. "You are a dog."

"See, you do like dogs after all."

"No, I like you."

"Works for me." John kissed him lightly while stroking the suds over his chest.

"Damn well better," Rodney muttered, leaning back against the wall, his eyes closed in pleasure.

"I keep telling you that you're stuck with me. Eventually it's going to sink in."

Rodney opened his eyes to frown at John. "Are you calling me dim-witted?"

"Hardly. But you don't seem to have a lot of faith in me." John shrugged. "Good thing I'm stubborn."

"Is this going back to me thinking you're a slut again?"

"That or you just don't believe that I know what I want."

"It's too early to argue," Rodney sighed. "Especially for no reason."

"I'm not arguing," John protested. "I'm strategizing. Because I am going to keep you." He turned Rodney around so he could wash his back.

"Strategizing? So now I'm a mission?"

John nodded even though Rodney couldn't see him. "The most important one I've ever undertaken."

Rodney quirked a grin. "So, how's the mission going?"

"Well, we're living together and sharing a shower. I'd say I'm making significant progress."

"And we have a cart."

"Yes, the first couple in the history of humanity with a pet cart." John snorted a laugh as he stepped back. "You'd better do the rest or we'll be right back where we started."

Rodney managed a sloppy salute and an even sloppier grin. "Gotcha, Major."

"Good man." John made short work of cleaning himself up while watching Rodney."

Once they were dried and dressed again, Rodney grabbed his laptop. "So are you coming with me to help explain Rover?"

"Well, I don't know how much help I'll be, but I'm certainly coming for the show."

"Oh, for that I think you need to go spar with Teyla!"

John shook his head and slung an arm around Rodney's shoulders. "Naw. And if you need my help, I'm there, but I have no idea how it works." He paused, glancing over his shoulder. "You realize it's following you, right?"

"Ignoring that."

"I'll bet Elizabeth doesn't when we arrive."

Ignoring that, Rodney reached for his earpiece and fitted it into his ear before tapping it. "Dr. Weir, are you free?"

"Rodney? Yes, it's a quiet morning so far." There was a beat of silence. "Why do I think that's about to change?"

"There's something I need to show you. It's not a crisis; I just wanted to apprise you of the situation."

John snickered. And hearing him, Elizabeth sighed. "Come to my office, Dr. McKay."

"On my way, and I've got company." Rodney glared at John as he spoke.

"I gathered as much. Weir out."

"She sounds like she needs coffee," John observed. "And we should probably go this way. I don't know if Rover can manage stairs, and if he can, I don't want to see it."

Rodney looked back at the cart, his eyes narrowing in interest. "It would be fascinating to see how it reconfigured itself to get up them."

"Not before I've had coffee," John nearly whimpered.

"Fine, so you get the coffee, and I'll get Rover to Elizabeth's office, and we'll deal with this then."

"Wait for me. I want to see her face." John stole a quick kiss and set out for the cafeteria at a fast dog trot to make sure he'd get to Elizabeth's office before she met Rover.

"Why couldn't the city love me?" Rodney muttered as he stalked the corridors to the transporter, ignoring the strange looks he was getting from other expedition members. "And what are you looking at?" he finally snapped. "It's a cart, and it's following me! Is there an issue with this?"

"Oh yes, this is so funny," he muttered to John when they both arrived at Elizabeth's office at the same time.

John was nearly purple with his efforts not to howl with laughter. Considering that Rodney bestowed a particularly vicious tongue-lashing on Kavanaugh for daring to laugh at Rover, he thought restraint was in his best interest. He hastily handed over the coffee he held, hoping to deflect Rodney's outrage.

"Rodney?" Elizabeth's voice rose in surprise.

Rodney looked down at the thermos as if it held all the secrets in the universe, then sighed and turned his gaze to Elizabeth. "I've acquired a new assistant, Elizabeth. It doesn't seem hostile; in fact, it unpacked all my belongings and brought me food from somewhere."

"Cleaned our quarters too," John offered helpfully.

Elizabeth stared at them. "Some days I just shouldn't get out of bed."

"It's actually quite fascinating; I still need to examine it and see how it recharged, but if we can find more of them, it could be helpful. Especially," Rodney glared at John, who was turning red, "if we can understand how they imprint on people."

Elizabeth looked helplessly from one to the other. "It's a gosling?"

John lost it.

"Elizabeth, do you mind if I hit Major Sheppard with the thermos?"

"Don't waste coffee!"

"Hey! What about wasting me?" John demanded indignantly.

"I'll have Rover do that," Rodney muttered.

"Nice. So much for wanting me alive."

Rodney ignored John, instead looking at Elizabeth. "We don't really need him, do we?"

"Actually, yes, we do." Elizabeth went back into her office, knowing that they would follow her, much as she might wish otherwise at the moment.

"At least the city likes me," John groused.

"No, the city loves you!" Rodney snapped, stalking into the office and sitting down, rumbling when Rover rolled itself in to settle beside his chair.

"Uh yeah, that's the other part of this. Rodney has Atlantis-envy."

"Yes, there's no reason to worry about other parts of the city failing; apparently the city won't let me in my quarters because it wants me in Major Sheppard's."

"They're our quarters," John immediately corrected, the quick flash of uncertainty in his expression hidden almost too soon to see.

"Yes, yes, I know they are," Rodney answered, waving a hand as he spoke. "That's not the question, is it?"

Her eyes going back and forth as if observing a tennis match, Elizabeth sighed softly. It seemed there would be more weird Sheppard and McKay stories to make the rounds. If they ever got past this stage, she didn't know what they would do for entertainment in Atlantis.

"If you say so," John muttered into his coffee.

"Yes, I do say so, or do you need me to broadcast it citywide?"

"Naw, let's keep 'em all guessing a while longer." John reached over and caught Rodney's hand in his, apologizing wordlessly.

"Were there other carts where you found this one?" Elizabeth asked, changing the subject. "They could be very useful from the little you've told me so far."

"It came to us, so I didn't see any, but I doubt that there'd be only one. There's probably a herd of them in a maintenance closet somewhere that we haven't found yet," John shrugged, trying not to snicker as he imagined a whole line of them trailing Rodney.

Rodney groaned and slugged back the rest of his coffee at the thought of it. "I want a chance to study this one before we go looking for more of them, all right?"

"That's probably a good idea," John agreed before Elizabeth could say anything. "We don't really have space for more of them in our room, so finding out what makes them imprint on someone before they all fixate on Rodney would be good."

Elizabeth hastily raised her coffee to her mouth to hide her smile.

"Oh, that is just so funny, Major," Rodney snapped, setting his cup on Rover without even noticing it. "You won't think it's so amusing if they all climb into bed with us."

"Fortunately, he doesn't seem inclined to do that. Though I could do without him banging into the bed when he wants your attention."

Elizabeth blinked. "Banging into the bed? He?"

Rodney sighed and rubbed his face. "It decided that hitting the bed was the best way to make me notice that it had brought back food for me." His expression said clearly he was not going to explain it any more than that.

"Rodney calls him 'he' if you don't make him self-conscious about it first," John confided to Elizabeth. "It's cute. I guess that makes us proud parents," he snickered.

Elizabeth wondered if it was too late to resign and join the Athosians on the mainland.

"Ignoring you again," Rodney muttered, before turning his attention to Elizabeth. "So, I was planning on getting Radek and tracing down what powers it as well as seeing what its exact capabilities are."

"Very good. Keep me informed." Elizabeth gestured toward the door, hoping they'd take the hint and go away.

"Come on, Rodney. Time to go get some breakfast before your blood sugar gets too low. Wouldn't want you to faint."

"We should have a preliminary report this afternoon," Rodney said, standing and taking his mug to down the rest of the coffee before nodding goodbye to Elizabeth. "And passed out, I passed out," Rodney snapped as he started out the door, Rover pushing in ahead of John.

John paused and regarded the cart with disfavor. "Rodney, you're going to need to train this thing. It does not get between us. Ever."

"You're the dog expert; you train it." Rodney looked over his shoulder and waved a hand at Rover. "I have no idea what kind of treats it likes."

"As far as I can tell, all it likes is you. And since it pretty much ignores me, I don't think I'd have much success with training. So would you kindly step around it and get back beside me where you belong!"

"Fine, fine," Rodney held his hands up in a gesture of surrender and edged around Rover to stand by John. "Better now?"

John caught Rodney's hand in his. "Much. I like you close where I know I can protect you. No weird machinery between us."

Rodney shuddered. "No, I'll leave that kink to Kavanaugh."

"I do not want to know."

"Gotcha," Rodney snickered.

John glared. "You know, if I'm grounded by Heightmeyer, you'll have to go out with Bates."

"As in date?"

"Try it and die!"

Rodney squeezed John's hand before leaning in to back him up against the wall and kiss him breathless. "If that commanding tone didn't turn me on so much, I'd complain about the threat to my life."

"And if I didn't know there'd be a threat to my life if I don't let you get to your lab, I'd be dragging you off to do something about turning you on." John grinned, perfectly content to lean against the wall with Rodney pressed against him while people detoured around them.

Chuckling, Rodney straightened up and patted a hand against John's chest. "Save it for later, Major; right now I'm going to get something to eat, then getting Rover to the lab and seeing what makes him tick.

"Zelenka," he called, tapping his earpiece, "drop what you're doing; I have a new project for you."

"So you no longer wish me to investigate this rubble to find out about our new possible enemies?" Zelenka replied after a short silence.

John beat a hasty retreat, deciding that he didn't want to be around if the Czech was going to argue with Rodney. It wouldn't be pretty.

"Wimp," Rodney muttered, glancing at John's back, before answering. "Would I have called you if I didn't want that? Something more immediate has come up; I'll be there with him--it--in a couple of minutes."

"'Him--it'?" Radek repeated questioningly, but Rodney wasn't answering. Intrigued, Radek passed off his current work to some of the other scientists and waited for Rodney to arrive with the new puzzle.

Less than five minutes later, Rodney walked into the lab trailed by Rover. Sighing, he ignored the stares and led the cart over to one of the diagnostics benches. "Radek, Rover, Rover, Radek. Hopefully he'll let you touch him without anything adverse happening."

Radek stared at the cart, then at Rodney. "He?" he repeated carefully, wondering if the strain had finally been too much for McKay.

Rodney muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'damn you, Sheppard,' before waving his hand dismissively. "He, it, whatever; what I want to know is just how it runs. I have a theory that..." And he was off, explaining the possibility that the cart worked like the personal shields, though why the Atlanteans felt the need to have carts keyed only to their use was beyond even his incredible intellect.

Growing intrigued, Radek cautiously approached the cart and poked at it, yelping when it slid away and extruded a manipulating arm in his direction. From his position on his ass, where he landed when jumping back, he glared up at Rodney. "You did not mention arms!"

"Didn't anyone ever tell you to anticipate?" Rodney snorted, catching the arm before Rover could draw it back inside itself so that he could examine it. "Look at this," he exclaimed, teasing out what could only be called fingers from the appendage. "Get me something to test his dexterity."

Radek shot him a dirty look. "Is not like we have toys lying around to test!" He got to his feet, brushing himself off, and finally handed Rodney something that had been found in the city which they thought actually might have been some kind of child's toy. It had several openings that crystals slid into.

"Perfect." Rodney grabbed the clear octagon and the crystals from Radek and set them on the table in front of the cart. "Okay, Rover, let's see what you can do."

Radek watched with interest, and if forced to it, he would have said that the cart seemed to watch Rodney curiously for a moment before picking up the toy and trying to please him.

"C'mon, you can do this," Rodney muttered under his breath, his fingers twitching as he stopped himself from grabbing a crystal to show the cart where it went.

Rover turned the octagon over, 'studying' it from every side, before extending another arm, reaching for a crystal and inserting it into the correct slot. Things went more quickly after that, and seconds later, Rover offered the completed toy to Rodney. It lit up when he touched it, and he couldn't help the silly grin he knew was quirking his lips.

"Pet it or something," Zelenka hissed at him.

"Good, Rover," Rodney said, looking at the cart, then finally patting it on what might possibly be a sensor array, his touch awkward. Rover pressed forward against his leg, and if it had had a tail, it would have been wagging.

"I think it likes you." Radek was smirking at the sight and hastily masked his expression when Rodney turned to glare at him.

"It's like the shield; it imprinted on me," Rodney growled. "And the next one we find is going to you!"

Radek contemplated the cart. "It would be useful," he decided.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Rodney looked around the lab. "Okay, next test; Rover, go get me the datapad on the third station from the right."

"It understands English?" Radek stared from Rodney to the cart. "Ah, of course not. Ancient technology has a mental component. It understands what you want from your mind?" He watched as the cart seemed to hesitate then made its way toward the item Rodney had specified.

"So it seems," Rodney mused, watching as Rover grasped the datapad, set it on its top shelf, and rolled back to hand the prize over. "There's no reason it should know what I was talking about otherwise." As he took the pad, he patted the sensor array.

"And how does it like Major Sheppard?"

"It seems to ignore him for the most part; he's a very obsessed little thing. Let's set up an obstacle course and see how he gets around it." The topic switch was sudden and common for Rodney, and the words were barely out of his mouth before he was gathering up items and setting them out on the floor.

Amused by how McKay started out calling the cart 'it' and switched to 'he', Radek forbore to comment, instead helping the other scientist set up the test. "It will save us time getting coffee when working."

"And you don't have to be specific; last night I commented that I wanted food, and he brought back a crate of MREs." Excited by this prospect, Rodney straightened, his blue eyes bright with the fire of discovery. "It could be possible to send him out into the city to find certain types of technology."

Radek pondered it. "Is possible, but I think it would depend on what it is equipped to find and if it has data stored regarding these items. But it might work."

"True, or he could have gotten the information that food equals MREs from me; I don't know what things we haven't found so far, so we may be stuck--but it's worth a try." He moved back to stand by Radek and surveyed the course. "Okay, Rover, go to it."

The cart hovered indecisively for a moment as if unsure what was expected of it, then slowly began to trundle toward the obstacle course. When it reached the start, it hesitated again, then floated upward and easily soared over the obstacles to the other side where it settled to the ground again.

Aware that his eyes were bugging out, Rodney stared at Rover and at the distance between them. "Well, I guess stairs won't be a problem for him," he said faintly.

"At least now we know why we haven't been able to find any ladders anywhere," Zelenka observed prosaically.

"Thank you for that delightful insight." Rodney skirted the course and dropped to his knees beside the cart. "Up, Rover," he ordered, wanting to see the propulsion system.

Watching the cart do as Rodney requested, Radek couldn't help snickering. "Does it roll over and play dead, too?"

Rodney glowered before he scooted under the cart. "Damn, I need a..." A mechanical arm dropped something in his hand. "... flashlight."

"Very useful." Radek dropped down to his knees to peer up at the underside of the cart with interest. "Anti-gravity propulsion?" he suggested.

"Yes, and look at this..." Rodney pointed out a number of mechanisms that led to what seemed to be the anti-grav unit. "If we could retrofit the MALPs with these, it would cut down on their losses."

"But how can we reverse-engineer the systems without taking this one apart? It seems very useful intact and may still have further uses we have not yet discovered."

"I know that," Rodney snapped. "We'll just have to find some that are unimprinted and take one of them apart. Not you, Rover!" he shouted when the cart started to move.

Radek gaped. "I think it understood you and got scared."

"Either that or he was going to find more." Rodney scooted out from under Rover, patting the slick metallic lower body as he sat up. "That can wait."

"Even for Atlantis this is very strange." Radek shook his head and eyed the cart. "Where did you find it, and were there others?"

"It showed up outside my door," Rodney muttered, hating to admit he hadn't discovered this fascinating bit of technology.

"It came to you?" Radek looked at it with ever increasing interest. "What were you doing at the time?"

"Packing," Rodney said shortly as he got up off the floor and Rover settled back onto its wheels.

"So you needed to transport boxes," Radek mused, totally ignoring why Rodney had been packing and his disgruntled tone as the entire science department had heard more than enough of McKay's room woes. "It responded to your need."

"Yes, but how did it know of the need to begin with?"

"We know that the city responds to Major Sheppard. I think it responds to you as well, at least to your subconscious, and it sent the cart to you."

"More than likely, Major Sheppard wanted me to feel better, so the city found something to appease me," Rodney mumbled as he bent to pick up a pen and toss it toward the cart, grinning in pride as Rover snatched it out of the air.

Radek rolled his eyes. "You are an idiot, Rodney. You want him and he wants you, yet you drag your feet. The city gave you what you both wanted in a way that you could not mess up. Stop complaining and enjoy!"

In the midst of tossing the pen again, Rodney turned to frown at Radek, not wanting to admit he had a point. "Just who turned you into Dr. Ruth, though I admit, the accent is similar, and you're the same height..."

Radek's eyes narrowed as he growled at Rodney. "I am not a midget! My height is well within normal range! Fine, be a fool and spend time playing fetch with machine when you could be in bed with Major Sheppard."

"Excuse me?! I can't spend my life in bed; let me remind you that this city depends on my brilliance, not to mention the threat of the Wraith..." Rodney's rant started quickly and only gained steam.

"Yes, yes, without the brilliance of McKay, all would be dead and ashes. We have no current emergency, so why are you here? Even Americans give time off for a honeymoon."

"This is Atlantis. There's always an emergency; it's just a matter of degree."

"Which is why you should take advantage of a little time for yourself when you can," Radek reiterated softly. "Everyone needs to relax, Rodney, even you."

"This is some extreme Czech mysticism, isn't it?" Rodney said accusingly.

"This is me telling a friend to go enjoy himself. And you are a friend, Rodney. When I don't want to kill you."

"You just want me to get Rover to find you his little sister," Rodney shot back, though there was a hint of a grin in his expression.

Radek eyed the cart wistfully. "I don't have the gene."

"Hrmmm, a problem, but you're supposed to be brilliant, figure out a way around it."

Radek snorted. "Your confidence is heartwarming, but Ancient technology only works for people with the gene. Unless Dr. Beckett improves the gene therapy, that does not include me. So you will just have to continue activating it for me." He gave Rodney a toothy smile.

"I am not activating more of these things!" Rodney exclaimed.

Radek snickered. "They could all follow behind you like a flock of goslings."

"Oh, I am so sending Rover after you in the middle of the night."

"Then you would have no one to delegate to speak to Kavanaugh, and you would have to do it yourself."

"Fucking semantics." Rodney glowered. "And speaking of Kavanaugh, tell me you don't have him looking at those fragments."

Radek shuddered. "No, he would find some way to blow us up or infect us with a virus or something equally appalling. He is assisting with setting up the environmental systems to our preferences in the newly secured section of the city."

"Thank god," Rodney sighed, looking around the lab and at Rover, who was cleaning up the items they had set out on the floor.

"Kavanaugh will be jealous when he finds out you and the major have maid service," Radek laughed, also watching Rover.

"He'll probably want one to comb his hair."

Radek shuddered. "Perhaps one to cut it off."

"I wonder if Rover has..." Rodney gave a resigned chuckle when the cart suddenly brandished a cutting implement.

"You might want to make sure it knows that was a joke. Kavanaugh would scream for months."

"Spoilsport," Rodney muttered. "Okay, down, Rover, and ummm... heel?"

Radek went into a fit of laughter. "Perhaps it will be easier to train than the major," he gasped out eventually.

"Certainly easier than my staff."

"Higher intelligence makes for stronger self-will," Radek replied.

"Oh good, because I'd hate to think you were comparing me to a dog," Major Sheppard said lazily from the doorway where he'd been listening for a few moments.

"No, to Rover, who can float," Rodney said quickly.

"Really?" It was John's turn to regard the cart with interest. "That's pretty cool. I wonder how much weight it can hold."

"I do not think I want to hear this," Radek muttered, making a quick exit.

"I am not going to end up explaining to Carson how I sprained my back having sex on top of a floating cart!"

"You have to admit it would be pretty wild."

"Major, you are utterly insane." Rodney tossed the pen into the air, and Rover levitated to catch it at its apex. "And just what are you doing here? I thought you were scared to come in here."

"Hey, I'm a soldier. Heroic bravery comes with the job."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Pull the other one, will you? Did Ford shoo you away from whatever you were doing?"

John shrugged. "I was just doing paperwork. I thought I'd drop by and say hi. Hi."

"Hi back," Rodney chuckled before relenting and catching John by his t-shirt and pulling him in for a kiss. "Do you know there was a coup? That cocky little Czech actually ordered me to take the day off."

"I knew I liked him." John slid his arms around Rodney, the green eyes amused as he grinned. "So whaddya want to do? Explore the city, teach Rover new tricks, try to find the rest of his litter?"

"Only if I can be assured that they won't all be following me around if we find them!" Rodney shuddered at the thought.

"Yeah, that'd be bad. Amusing for about five minutes, but then very, very annoying. Maybe we should hold off on that till you figure out what makes them imprint and make sure that it's one to a customer."

"Exactly; I want to be able to take one of these apart, and that's going to take an unimprinted one."

John bit back a grin, knowing he'd have a hard time taking Rover apart himself. "The little guy does kinda grow on you."

"I'm never going to admit I said this, but he does."

"See, you're the only person in Atlantis with a pet."

"Oh, I don't know, you've got Ford after all..."

John snorted but couldn't really deny it. "He'll grow out of it. I think."

Radek stuck his head back in. "Leave!"

Rodney glowered at the once again empty doorway. "See? Mutiny!"

"Are you saying that I'm not better than a lab?"

"With or without a fully charged ZPM?"

"I should have known," John sighed, shaking his head, but his amusement was clear. "You just want me as a convenient boy-toy."

Rodney chuckled and patted John on the chest. "Convenient, but never, ever easy, Major."

"Which makes us the perfect pair. Now we'd better go before Radek resorts to violence." John nudged Rodney toward the door.

"We need a picnic," Rodney announced after looking behind him to make sure that Rover was following.

"And now that you've said that, Rover's probably going to go raid the kitchen." John glanced back warily. "I hope he doesn't take it at gunpoint."

"Or that no one sics Bates on him..." Rodney frowned. "We should go get it ourselves so there isn't an incident."

"Rodney, you do realize we're protecting a cart from being attacked, right?"

"Do you really want to deal with guilt issues because he got shot?"

John shook his head. "Heightmeyer isn't paid enough. Are we getting him a meal too?"

"No, but he can carry ours." Again, the explanation was one for the terminally idiotic.

"Just checking." John gestured Rodney to precede him into the mess so they could scavenge for their picnic. "I really miss potato salad and apple pie."

Rodney shook his head. "You're too American for your own good."

"Oh please, I know for a fact Canada has apple trees and potatoes too."

"Yes, but you Americans are obsessed by them, as well as those tubes of meat by-products."

"This from the man who thinks MREs are haute cuisine?"

Rodney shrugged. "The beef stew isn't bad."

"And they say I'm weird."

"That's because you are."

"And that would be why you love me, right?" The moment the words left his lips, John realized what he'd said and tried to cover it. "So, I suppose you want to bring MREs along on our picnic, then?"

Rodney stared at John for a moment before recovering. "No, picnics are for leisure food. We could even go see what the Athosians have that's fresh if we can take a jumper."

"Now, that's my genius!" John liked the sound of that. "I wonder what Halling and Jinto will make of Rover."

"Maybe they'll babysit him so we can have a few hours of quiet."

"I don't know which bothers me more, the fact that we need a babysitter at all or that we need a babysitter for a cart."

"If I thought about it, my IQ would drop lower than Kavanaugh's, so... I'm not."

"Thank God he doesn't have the gene. I'd hate to see pet abuse starting here."

Rodney shuddered. "God, no, and even if Carson refines the therapy, I'm recommending he doesn't get another shot."

"That's best," John agreed vehemently. "He creates enough chaos as it is; can you imagine if he could interface directly with the Ancient technology?"

"Not thinking about it, refuse to."

John nodded. "Some things are just too horrible to contemplate. I really hope we get the gate working again someday if only so we can send him back."

"Will trade Kavanaugh for supplies? That's not going to get us much," Rodney chuckled as they headed into a transporter, Rover crowding in with them.

"I was just thinking of sending him back to Earth. He ought to fit in really well in Washington. He's all about protecting his own ass." John sidestepped hastily when Rover nearly rammed him to make more room for itself.

Rodney chuckled. "Maybe Gen. O'Neill will send him to Russia."

"Do you really want to restart the Cold War? And make it go straight to nuclear?"

"They survived me, didn't they? And this was before I mellowed."

"Rodney, you can be obnoxious; Kavanaugh... would be a waste of a bullet." John shrugged, still angry when he allowed himself to think about the way Kavanaugh had been so concerned about his own ass that he would have left them to die when they got stuck in the gate. With that damned bug.

"Not arguing that in the least." The doors opened, and they continued to the jumper bay. "So, which one are we taking?"

"Mine, of course." It was Sheppard's turn to give him a look reserved for the not quite bright. He always took Jumper One.

"Silly me for asking," Rodney grinned, leading Rover up the ramp and into the jumper.

"Exactly." John watched with interest as Rover settled into a spot half under a seat that could have been made for him. In fact, it probably was. "Looks like he's got a comfy spot."

Crouching down to study the way the cart's height had decreased so that it could fit securely into the space, Rodney murmured in appreciation of the design. "There's the answer as to whether the Ancients took them on trips to other planets."

"Well, I'd imagine they were originally intended to be useful. Being cute seems to just be a side effect." John shook his head. "And I'm going to deny ever saying that."

"I'll remind you of that the next time you're snickering at me calling him him," Rodney retorted, buckling himself into the co-pilot seat as John ran through the pre-flight.

"Oh shut up and choose a destination," John pretended to growl.

Rodney looked at John askance. "Umm, to see the Athosians and get food?"

John shrugged. "I wasn't sure if you'd rather head somewhere less inhabited. I'm thinking nude beaches myself."

"We have no food. And no sunscreen."

"I'll bet Rover knows what's edible on this planet. And I'd be happy to keep myself between your tender flesh and the nasty sun."

Rodney pouted. "We aren't getting food from the Athosians, are we?"

"Yes, Rodney," John sighed, adjusting their heading, "we're getting you food from the Athosians. And then after the entire village has greeted us and caught us up on their lives and found out every minutest detail of Teyla's life since her last visit, we'll make our escape and find some place to have that picnic."

"Rover will keep them busy," Rodney promised, reaching over to pat John's hand.

"Why does that thought fill me with foreboding?"

"He won't hurt them, and I doubt Jinto will break him," Rodney sighed. "Or would you rather have him watching us?"

"No! That would be as bad as having a kid watching us." John shuddered. "But Jinto manages to get himself into trouble every time he turns around without an Ancient playmate. Halling may declare war on us."

"I'll tell Rover to play nice; I'm sure he'll listen to me."

"I listen to you," John protested. "I just don't always do what you want."

"I was talking about Jinto, but you have a valid point."

"You don't always do what I want you to either."

"Yes, but that's for your own good."

"Yes, Rodney."

Rodney only smirked and settled back to enjoy the trip to the mainland.

Once in the Athosian village, John greeted Jinto and settled back to watch the children swarm Rodney, as they always did. He found it amusing how everywhere they went, the children were drawn to the man who claimed to dislike them.

Wincing as he was pummeled by a variety of small fists as the children clamored for a treat, Rodney cast a desperate gaze toward Rover. The cart rolled to a stop at the edge of the small crowd and paused, clearly perplexed.

John snickered, thinking that both Rodney and Rover looked like they wanted to escape.

"Hey, guys, he'll play catch with you if you throw something for him," Rodney said feebly.

Rover shimmied in place, and John was willing to swear that it looked betrayed.

"They won't hurt you," Rodney sighed, unable to believe he was explaining this to a piece of machinery.

John was turning purple with his efforts not to laugh, and Halling was watching with his usual expression of bemusement. "The machine is a toy?"

"No, it's a piece of lab equipment," Rodney explained, slowly edging away from the children as they turned their attention to Rover. "I wanted to see what his--its--capabilities are in an uncontrolled environment."

"Well, I'm not sure that it's precisely lab equipment," John put in. "It seems pretty multi-purpose and fits perfectly into a space in the jumper. I get the feeling that the Ancients used it for a variety of purposes."

"It is a device of the Ancestors?" Halling exclaimed, looking horrified that the children were now climbing all over it, squealing excitedly as it gave them short rides.

"Yes, but it seems to have many uses," Rodney assured him. "Amusing children seems to be one of them."

"I think he's having fun. But you'd probably better not sneak away, or he'll never let you more than two inches away from him again. Tell him to stay and play with the kids and we'll be back in a couple of hours." John ignored the look that Halling was giving him, one that seriously questioned his sanity.

Rodney sighed. "The cart, like many of the Ancients' devices, imprints on a user; the cart's attuned itself to me and likes to stay near me now." He glowered at John. "I'll do that, and you get the food."

"Sounds like a plan." John pulled him in for a quick kiss before going to see what he could beg, buy or trade for.

Halling's gaze followed John as he walked away, then he looked back at Rodney. "You and the major are..."

"Together," Rodney said firmly.

"Good," Halling nodded. "That is good."

"Thanks for the approval, but I need to talk to my cart now."

Any conversation that began that way was not one he wanted to participate in, so Halling retreated, following the major to see if he could assist him.

Deciding that of all the absurd things that he'd done since coming to the Pegasus galaxy, this was the worst, Rodney sighed and threaded his way through the children who squealed when Rover spun in place at his approach.

"Are you kids taking good care of Rover?" he asked with false heartiness.

"We are being careful not to damage it," Jinto replied solemnly.

Rodney gave a sickly smile. "Well, he was made by the Ancients, so I think he's pretty sturdy overall. I was wondering if you'd care to watch him for a few hours while Major Sheppard and I do some reconnaissance."

The excited chorus made it clear that children would care for that very much, so John smiled as he made his way back toward Rodney, pack in hand. "Everything all settled?"

"I just need to check with Rover, and, Major, if you breathe a word of this to anyone, I'm going to kill you." Glowering, Rodney crouched down in front of the cart and placed a hand on its sensor array. "Rover, I need you to stay here for now. Stay here and take care of the kids, okay?"

The cart seemed to shiver and started to rise from the ground before subsiding again. The soft whoosh of air forced out from under it sounded exactly like an unhappy sigh, and John joined Rodney in patting it. "We're only going to be gone for a couple hours. We'll be back before dark to take you home."

"We'll even bring you a treat."

John eyed Rodney. "Do you have the faintest idea what that might be? Not that I'm opposed to the idea," he added hastily, remembering that his shins were very close to Rover, "but what?"

"I have no idea," Rodney hissed as he stood. "But we'll find something."

And since this was the man who regularly pulled hats out of rabbits, John was sure he would. "Yes, Rodney."

"See, John agrees; now play nice with the kids, and we'll see you soon." He patted Rover again and backed slowly away, hoping the cart wouldn't follow him.

Rover vibrated anxiously but remained with the children.

"We'll be back for you soon, I promise," John said soothingly. "How can a cart make me feel like an unfeeling monster?" he hissed at Rodney.

"The same way it has me promising to bring it treats," Rodney muttered.

"We're both insane. But I got us Athosian picnic food, so we're good to go. Let's play hooky!" John caught Rodney's hand in his and started to jog toward the jumper.

"Do we have a blanket?"

"Standard issue in jumpers, Rodney. But I did add something a little softer."

"Aww, my hero." Rodney's smile softened as they neared the jumper.

"You get bruised enough on missions; I don't want to add to them in our off time."

"So that means you brought a mattress as well?"

"The Ancient version of an air mattress." John grinned. "I was sitting on a balcony, wishing for something to sit on, and lo and behold, I got one."

Rodney glowered. "I hate you."

"No, you don't."

"So you can read my mind now?"

"You like me or you wouldn't be here. And we wouldn't be living together. But that's okay, I like you too."

Rodney rolled his eyes and walked into the jumper, shucking off his jacket before sitting in the co-pilot's seat. "You're insufferably smug when you know you're right. Did you know that?"

John's eyebrow rose sharply. "I'm smug?"

"Yes! Right now that's the perfect description for you."

"And what would that make you?"

Rodney looked at John as if he was insane for asking. "Brilliant of course."

"False modesty is definitely not one of your failings."

"What would be the point?" Rodney half-turned in his seat and grabbed a powerbar from his jacket pocket.

"What would it take to convince you to strip off and climb on?" John leered at him.

"Fly the jumper, Major," Rodney mumbled around a mouthful of powerbar. "We'll discuss the other part later."

"I was kind of hoping to discuss it while flying the jumper. I've never had sex in a jumper."

"Hrmmm, I suppose I should be happy to hear that, but may I remind you what happens if you lose concentration when this thing's in the air?"

"Rodney, I was born to fly. I'm not about to crash. Though I would take her up out of the atmosphere before trying it," John admitted with a grin. "You're kind of distracting."

Rodney flashed a quick, pleased smile at that but shook his head. "Maybe on the way back; that way Rover can take over if need be."

"I am not having sex with you with Rover beside us!"

"So we're never going to have sex in our room again?" Rodney squawked.

"Um... we'll cover him."

Rodney whimpered and leaned his head against the console. "Why me?"

"It's a talent." John smirked at him. "Only you could deserve me."

"Maybe so, but I'm not stripping and sitting on you right now."

"Well damn. How 'bout just coming over here and keeping me company then."

"I could do that," Rodney allowed, finishing his snack and dusting his hands on his shirt as he stood to move behind John's chair. Resting his hands on John's shoulders, Rodney began to knead the strong tendons, his thumbs brushing the sides of John's neck.

"Mmm, feels good." John was all but purring as he enjoyed Rodney's touch. "At least there are good things here too."

"A few," Rodney allowed. "New technology, a database full of information... you."

"Yeah, you make up for a lot yourself." John tilted his head back to peer up at Rodney.

Unable to resist that sly smile, Rodney leaned in to brush his lips over John's, then yipped when the jumper bobbled in the air.

"Don't worry, I made sure we're in the clear," John said, reaching up to curl his fingers around the back of Rodney's neck and draw him down again.

"Just concentrate this time," Rodney muttered before their lips met again, the wet slide of John's tongue in his mouth making him groan and his fingers tighten on John's shoulders.

John was concentrating; it just wasn't on his flying for one of the few times in his life. He moaned softly, tasting Rodney again and wishing that their lives could be like this, exploring for sheer interest, having fun, not worrying about life-sucking aliens trying to kill them. But it was moments like this that made up for all the rest, and he gave himself up to the kiss.

When they finally broke apart, Rodney pulled back enough to rest his forehead against the slope of John's nose, his lips pressing against the disheveled black hair, simply enjoying the closeness.

"This is nice," John murmured. "We should think about doing this more often. We need time away from the chaos."

"Mmm, the only problem is that generally the chaos happens all at once." Rodney straightened up but left his hands where they were.

"True, but instead of burying yourself in the lab while I write reports, when we get a free day, we should do this. We're allowed to enjoy ourselves once in a while."

"John..." Rodney was prepared to list the reasons why they shouldn't do that--the Wraith and the lack of a shield being paramount, but the expression in John's eyes made him stop. "You're right, we should."

"Thank you." John knew they wouldn't be able to steal a day like this often, nor would they want to with the city's current situation, but it was good to know that Rodney would like it if they could.

"Elizabeth is going to wonder if we've gone insane if she doesn't already after this morning," Rodney sighed.

John shrugged. "Not that it would really matter if we had. She needs us both."

Rodney leaned in to press a kiss against the top of John's head. "Exactly."

"So we'd better enjoy this. It's probably going to be a while before we can do it again."

"True, the thought of what Radek will do to the lab while I'm gone terrifies me."

John had to laugh. "I think he'll protect it from Kavanaugh."

"He'd better; I'm already annoyed at him for trying to be my sex therapist."

"I think it was more of a marriage counselor."

Rodney groaned. "That's even worse."

John sniffled. "You don't love me any more."

"Am I going to have to find flowers to pick to appease you?"

"Oh, will you braid them and make me a crown?"

"More like a cockring."

"Kinky. And I don't want sap on me. With our luck, you'd be allergic to it, and I really don't want to explain that to Carson."

Rodney gurgled at the thought of a rash and just what Carson's reaction to it would be. "Fine, we'll just stay away from the flowers then."

"Good plan. I'm sure we can find plenty of other ways to entertain ourselves." John motioned out the window. "Hey, an island. We could have one all to ourselves."

"Just so long as you're not planning on going all 'Survivor' on me."

"Only if we're going to be allies or whatever they call it. All for one and one for all. As long as all is the two of us."

"And Rover," Rodney added.

"I think we can manage the sex without him."

Rodney gagged. "God, John, I wasn't talking about that!"

"Just making sure. I've learned to take nothing for granted where you're concerned, Rodney."

"The day I invite Rover to participate in sex with us is the day I go looking for a Wraith to drain me!"

John shuddered, pulling Rodney around so he could wrap his arms around him. "Don't ever joke about that," he breathed, closing his eyes and pressing his face to Rodney's midriff, letting the scent and feeling of Rodney fills his senses.

"Sorry," Rodney murmured, rubbing his hand over John's back. "Bad joke."

"Yeah. Promise me you won't ever let that happen."

"I promise I'll do everything in my not inconsiderable powers to make sure that doesn't happen."

John stared up at him, finally raising his head to meet Rodney's blue gaze. "Promise you won't ever leave me."

Rodney's smile was gentle as was the kiss he brushed over John's lips. "Sorry, Major, you moved me in, and we have a cart together; you're stuck with me."

Finally smiling, John flexed his fingers on Rodney's hips. "Good."

"And what would be even better is letting me straighten up before I'm permanently crippled."

"You could ride around on my lap. Or on Rover." Despite his words, John let go, but he left a hand on Rodney's hip.

"That is wrong on so many levels," Rodney sighed, straightening up and rubbing at his back though he still kept one hand on John's shoulder. "So, see anywhere to land?"

"How 'bout that beach? I see white sand, the Atlantean equivalent of palm trees, lots of shade so you don't burn. Look good to you?"

"Depends if you have ice cold rum drinks in a coconut shell for me."

"Nope, got a hot major going commando for you."

Rodney paused to mull it over. "That's acceptable."

"I'm so glad." John aimed the jumper at a clearing and set it down, then turned to face Rodney, grinning. "So, what first? Food, swimming, fucking?"

"I--you--," Rodney made an effort to shut his mouth as he knew it was hanging open. "First we should set up our base of operations."

John looked around. "Jumper on the ground, us in it... I'd say that's the base of operations."

"Gee, Major, I'm ever so impressed at your... tacticalness!"

John blinked. "Is that even a word?"

"Of course it is! Why are you asking?"

"My verbals weren't much lower than my math scores. There's no such word as tacticalness."

"Oooh, now you're Mr. English Lit along with Mr. Math? Going to quote sonnets for me?"

"Hello, I said my scores, not my major. My only interest in Chaucer is naked Paul Bettany."

"Who?" Rodney asked, staring at John with a total lack of comprehension.

"British actor, blond, blue eyes, played Chaucer in A Knight's Tale, showed up naked in his first scene in it, really hot."

"Uh huh." Rodney nodded carefully, looking at John as if he'd gone nuts.

"Guess you had to see it. But since he's not here and we are, how 'bout we grab that blanket, have some lunch, and see what we feel like doing afterward?"

Rodney's lips curled in a half-grin, half-smirk. "Why, Major, I never knew you were a tour guide in another life, but please, lead on."

"If only you were so obedient all the time." John returned the smirk as he got up and came around the chair, an arm automatically sliding around Rodney's waist.

"If you wanted obedient, you should have brought Rover." Rodney's arm went around John as well, and he couldn't help but smile as they exited the jumper to what could only be termed an island paradise.

"You're kinda better company." John inhaled deeply, enjoying the tang of the salt air. "This reminds me of home only better. No pollution, no crowds, no disapproving father, and you. Yup, much better."

Rodney's arm tightened around John's waist in a hug. "You just like the idea you're getting laid whenever you want it."

John looked down at him, expression serious. "Rodney, if that's all I wanted, I would have been doing all the bed hopping you kept accusing me of. That's always been easy. But I happen to want more--you."

"I know that." Rodney sighed. "And I believe it, it's just... defense mechanisms, I suppose."

"Well, quit trying to defend yourself from me. You're stuck with me now, so get used to it." John let go of him to grab the pack with the food. "Mind getting the blanket?"

"Considering it's all that's going to be between my ass and abrasive sand, of course not, but first..." He caught John by the back of the neck and pulled him in for a kiss.

Always willing to put other things on hold in favor of kissing Rodney, John leaned in, his tongue sliding over Rodney's eagerly. "Mmm, good start." He let go again to retrieve the small device that would inflate into a very comfortable mattress for them and started toward the door.

Once they were outside, Rodney watched, shaking his head, as John set the device on the ground and it expanded into a comfortable-looking pad the size of a double bed. "Atlantis loves you," he muttered, wondering just how many more devices the city was going to hand over because John had a need.

"And I l--keep you comfortable, so don't complain."

"Who said I was complaining?" Rodney crouched down to examine the composition of the pad, deciding it was some kind of expandable gel before shaking out the blanket and spreading it out.

"Looks comfortable," John decided. "And I know it was when I tried it in the city. So hop on." He dropped down to sit cross-legged, the pack of food at one side, and started unlacing his boots to pull them off.

"You or the mattress?" Rodney muttered before twisting around to sit as well, pulling off his boots and socks and rolling his pants up to his knees.

"Since I don't want you passing out on me, just the mattress for now till I feed you." John turned so that his feet were off the side and wriggled his toes in the sand. "God, that feels good."

"Just don't get sand on the blanket!" Rodney arranged himself well away from the edges and dragged the pack over to start sorting through the food John had traded for.

"Don't get crumbs in the bed!"

"They're easier to get out than sand!"

"Both brush off."

"Yes, but you can nibble crumbs off."

"I'd rather nibble you, so let's keep both off the blanket. Or at least stand up and shake it off after we eat before we work it off."

"Da vrks," Rodney mumbled around a mouthful of Athosian sweet bread.

"You know, it really should scare me that I understood that." John helped himself to a fruit that was very similar to an apple, not surprising considering that the Ancients originally came from Earth and presumably brought food with them.

Rodney swallowed and shrugged. "Must be because you're smart." That said, he leaned over and caught John's hand, dragging it to his mouth to take a bite out of the fruit he held.

"Hey! That was mine."

"You won't share?" Rodney's pitiful look was tempered by the fact that he kept hold of John's wrist and proceeded to lick the rivulets of juice from his fingers.

John had to swallow hard before he could reply. "I guess that'd be okay." His eyes were fixed on Rodney's tongue as it trailed over his skin, and small tremors shook the captive hand.

"Are you sure? Because I don't want to deprive you of your vitamins." Another trail of pale pink juice ran down between John's fingers, and Rodney licked it away.

"That's okay; I'm getting plenty of protein in my diet to keep me healthy." John's fingers flexed, and he bit back a moan.

Rodney worked his way back up to the bright green-skinned fruit and took another bite, his gaze intent on John's hazel eyes the whole time. Drawn as if by a magnet, John leaned in until their lips met. His tongue delved into Rodney's mouth, tasting the tangy bite of the fruit at first and then nothing but Rodney.

"Mmm, tastes better that way," Rodney murmured before making a face and pulling back when the fruit was pressed against his neck.

"Oh sorry." John's mouth fastened onto the now sticky spot, and he concentrated on making sure that not a single drop of juice was left to bother Rodney.

Rodney groaned and tilted his head to the side--just to make sure John got every bit of the juice. "S'okay," he breathed, before the slight pain of suction made him open his eyes. "You aren't giving me a hickey, are you?"

"Yeah, I am. I like seeing marks on you," John admitted, licking the slightly hot flesh where he'd been sucking.

"Oh okay, just askin'." Rodney's answer was an excellent imitation of John's own laconic drawl.

"Good." John closed his lips over that same spot again and began sucking, knowing that the edge of the mark would be visible under Rodney's uniform. And every time he looked at it, he would want to jump Rodney again.

"This is going to give Ford apoplexy, you know," Rodney panted, collapsing back onto the pad and absurdly proud of the fact that John didn't lose contact with him the whole way down.

"He needs to broaden his horizons," John murmured against Rodney's throat. "Maybe someone'll take him in hand since Teyla doesn't seem inclined. Bates maybe," he snickered.

Rodney snorted. "Bates is more interested in getting Ford's MREs than into his pants."

"Too bad. Getting laid would do them both a world of good."

"You going to try and set them up?"

"Do I look like a yenta? I'm not even Jewish."

"So tell Atlantis to do it, it seems to like that sort of thing."

"Naw, I think it waits till people find each other, then if it approves and thinks they belong together, it makes sure they stay together."

"So obviously the Ancients didn't believe in divorce."

John shrugged, finally satisfied that the mark would be dark enough, and sat up. "I think it'll only happen with couples who both have the gene and who the city thinks are compatible."

Rodney huffed out a laugh and raised a hand to rub at the raw spot on his neck. "I suppose it's a good thing I had the therapy then."

John raised his head and eyed him. "I hate to tell you this, Rodney, but with or without the city, you wouldn't be getting away from me."

"Did I say I was going to try to do that?"

"No, I'm just saying it's not the city that's keeping us together. I want to be with you."

Rodney sighed. "John, I'd like to think that both of us have strong enough wills that we aren't going to let the city push us around."

"I'd say that's a given." John laughed shortly. "If I wanted a submissive partner, I'd grab Ford."

"Oh, now that just turned me off sex for the rest of my life!"

"Oh, I need to fix that, since you're the only one I want, and I don't plan to be celibate for the rest of my life."

"Then don't mention Ford and Bates doing it again! God, that's almost as bad as thinking of Kavanaugh doing it with anyone!"

John made a face. "I don't think about interspecies sex!"

Rodney chuckled and stroked a hand up John's back. "Exactly."

"This conversation is going nowhere fast. How 'bout we have lunch and enjoy each other and forget about everyone on Atlantis for a while? We can pretend we're just two guys out enjoying an afternoon at the beach."

"I was eating; you interrupted me."

"Feel free to continue eating while I eat you." John let his head rest in Rodney's lap.

"Idiot," Rodney muttered, stroking John's hair.

"And what would that make you for liking me?"

"A genius."

"And so humble. But you're still cute, so I'll keep you."

Rodney snorted but kept stroking John's hair, enjoying the closeness.

"That was your cue to say that you wanted to keep me too."

"Yes, John, I'll keep you, even though you're really noisy during sex."

John scowled up at him. "I am going to prove that you're the one who's noisy. You're not taking that away from me; it's way too hot."

"Taking it away... John, it's nothing to be ashamed about; I love hearing you and knowing I'm the one who makes you sound like that."

John rolled his eyes. "Rodney, I'm more than happy to make as many noises as you like, but you do too, and I love hearing you."

Rodney flushed and leaned in to kiss John's forehead. "I love hearing you too, but not when you make recordings of us."

"Then admit you do too, and I won't need proof."

"You're just trying to be superior."

"Nope, just trying to get you to admit that you're not some stoic."

"When did I ever say that?"

Realizing that this was an argument he couldn't win, John let it go. "So, am I going to be able to convince you to try body surfing later?"

"I'd be happy to watch you," Rodney piped up.

"I was rather hoping to share it with you."

Rodney groaned. "I'll think about it."

Surfing's fun," John urged.

"And dangerous!"

"I promise to protect you."

"How?"

"I'll throw myself between you and any danger."

"How?"

John stared. "What do you mean how? I just said I'd take a bullet for you and you're asking how?"

"You'll take a bullet from a wave?" Rodney asked incredulously.

Sighing heavily, John explained, "I'll stand between you and any danger. Not that there's a whole lot to worry about on a deserted beach."

"I'd rather just watch you, all wet and slick."

"How 'bout you touch me and get me all wet and slick?"

"Isn't that something someone with two X chromosomes says?"

John glared. "Precome."

"Oooooohhhh..."

"Not that you're going to find out anytime soon."

Rodney smirked and slid a hand down to cup John's groin. "Feels like I might find out the outcome sooner rather than later."

"Not if you keep comparing me to a woman!"

"Nah, you don't have the chest for it."

"Do you like sleeping on the couch?"

"You don't have a couch, Major, and Rover would get you if you kicked me out of our bed."

John continued to glare. "Think bundling. Dividers down the bed!"

"I'd rather think of us curled up together, naked, groaning and sweating."

"Now that's just unfair. You're playing to my weakness."

"Who taught me to do that?" Rodney tightened his fingers around the firm ridge of John's cock.

"I didn't think you were paying attention," John managed in a husky voice.

"Hrmmm, you caught me out," Rodney murmured.

"Lucky me." John caught hold of the back of Rodney's neck and pulled him down into a kiss.

Rodney didn't fight the kiss; in fact, it was his tongue that invaded John's mouth as their lips sealed together. John tugged Rodney down so they were both lying on the blanket, Rodney on top of him and pressing him down into the supportive surface of the Ancient mattress.

"I thought we were eating first," Rodney chuckled, though he didn't try to move other than to rub against John.

"You were the one who started teasing me!"

"And are you complaining?"

"Just saying." John pulled his knees up, pressing them against Rodney's ribs.

"And are you saying you'd rather go body surfing than this?"

"Of course not! But there is a physical limitation to how long we can do this, even with the Ancient gene, and surfing's fun in between."

"And eating isn't important? A body can only go on for so long without sustenance!"

John sighed and relaxed, letting his arms and legs fall flat, spread-eagled on the mattress. "Fine, go get something to eat."

Rodney shook his head. "Oh, I have what I want right here."

"Planning to eat me?"

"For dessert." Rodney grinned and grabbed the piece of fruit they'd abandoned earlier, taking a bite from it and licking his lips.

"Then hand me a turkey sandwich from the pack."

"Turkey?" Rodney laughed, rolling off John and reaching into the pack for what passed as a sandwich. "I didn't know the Athosians had found a stock of them."

John shrugged. "The Ancients came from Earth, if somewhat earlier, and they had to eat. They had to have brought some kind of domesticated food animals. I'd take anything close to turkey at this point."

"Considering when the Ancients left Earth to come here, I'd say that turkey would have had scales and gutted you in an instant."

"They had to eat something," John insisted. "They had the same kind of teeth we do, showing that they were omnivores who evolved from carnivores, so there has to be something here. The Athosians are hunting some animals that make good eating, so there's a chance of finding some ancient ancestor of turkeys."

"Lizards," Rodney replied succinctly.

"Supposed to taste like chicken."

Rodney groaned.

"Hey, you're the one who likes MREs; you have no room to talk."

"I'd rather eat MREs than species-indefinite chicken!"

"No sense of adventure."

Rodney's eyebrows rose, and he looked at John and his proximity to his own body.

"Are you saying that you have to be adventurous to be with me?"

"Are you calling yourself boring?"

"I don't think there's any way I can come out ahead in this conversation. But I am hungry." John gave Rodney a pitiful look.

Unable to resist that expression, Rodney leaned over and kissed John again, then handed him what he assumed was the 'turkey' sandwich he'd been asking for. "Eat up, then we'll wait an hour, and then you can teach me how to body surf."

"Cool!" John sat up so he could eat, moving closer so their sides were touching. "You're going to love it."

"Unless some fish thinks part of me is a worm," Rodney muttered.

"I don't think worms get that big."

"Fine, a snake then."

"Rodney, nothing is going to nibble on you except me. So long as you don't make me think of parts of you as a reptile!"

"Fine, fine, no reptiles, now be quiet so I can eat."

John pulled back and twisted around to stare directly at him. "What, you can't eat while someone else is talking? Some genius you are."

"No, when you talk, I have to answer, and then I can't eat."

"Most people call that civilized dinner conversation. You know, I talk, you take a bite; you answer, I take a bite. As opposed to just shoving the food in as fast as humanly possible."

"Mrgf," Rodney answered around a bite of his own sandwich before swallowing. "Thank you, Emily Post, I thought we were guys and, along with the whole getting to go to sleep right after sex, we don't need manners."

"Rodney, much as I--enjoy being with you, we can't have sex twenty-four/seven. Talking is required sometimes. Besides, it's fun seeing how your mind works."

Rodney frowned. "I wasn't talking about having sex right this minute; I was taking about... fine, John, what would you like to talk about in between bites of our not-turkey sandwiches?"

John grinned. "You could tell me all your deepest desires and darkest secrets."

"Darkest secrets, huh? Fine, I'll tell you one; I actually liked being sent to Russia."

That earned a slow, surprised blink. "Why?"

"Because they actually listened to me there." Rodney flushed and looked out over the ocean, embarrassed to have admitted it.

John slid an arm around his shoulders and drew him closer. "Everyone listens to you here."

"Well, of course they do. I didn't mean compared to here; I meant compared to Cheyenne Mountain."

"Their loss. And our gain. Because if they had listened to you, you probably wouldn't have wanted to come here."

"Hrmm, only if it had gotten Sam Carter in bed with me." Rodney shot John a sidelong look and grinned.

John straightened up abruptly and glared Rodney. "So you'd rather have her?" he growled.

"Well, I always had a weakness for blondes, and she does have legs up to there..." Rodney's grin widened, and he patted John on the thigh. "But then, so do you--have legs up to there, I mean, and a killer ass too."

"I suggest you develop a new weakness for brunettes," John groused.

"Or we could find some peroxide; I'm sure Carson brought some along."

The green-hazel eyes narrowed. "You might make a nice blond."

"How about I just tell you I've developed a terminal weakness for you?"

John relaxed back against him. "Well, I wouldn't want it to kill you, but otherwise, I appreciate the sentiment."

"It's not just sentiment; you listen to me too--even when you want to kill me, you listen to me."

"Well, yeah. If I wasn't listening to you, how would I know when to kill you?"

"Or when to kiss me."

John grinned, knowing Rodney was well aware that he often kissed the vocal scientist just to shut him up--not that they didn't both enjoy it. "I pretty much want to do that all the time."

Rodney resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at John. "And don't think I don't know just why you do it at times."

"Hey, it works and it's fun."

"Not denying the fun, but you'd better hope no one else gets the same idea."

John laid a hand on his sidearm. "Not gonna happen."

"Like I would let anyone else do that, or they'd want to," Rodney scoffed, rubbing his hand over John's.

"Do you have any idea how many people would do you in an instant if you weren't so abrasive to them? Not that you're going to find out!"

Rodney's eyebrows rose and he snorted out a laugh. "Not that I want to find out even if it was true."

"Good! 'Cause if I had to deter all them, I might have the highest body count of any serial killer in history."

"John, you're insane; did you know that?"

John shrugged. "Possibly. But people do notice you, before you talk to them, and I don't share."

"Eat your lunch," Rodney sighed, taking another bite of his sandwich.

John turned to face him. "Rodney, that was sorta me making a commitment. Some response would really be appreciated."

Rodney paused and reached out to grab John's hand. "Commitment, yeah, right. I like that, being committed and all."

"Good." John smiled. "I'm not real good at that, but this could be good. You and me, I mean. Let's talk about it again in, say, twenty years or so."

"God, yes, twenty years is enough time to deal with this--us--yeah, this is good."

"Oh good." John grinned as he dropped his head back into Rodney's lap. "I like baths every Sunday and a good grooming twice a week."

"I didn't agree to having a pet; I've already got Rover!"

"You like Rover better than me?"

"I didn't say that; I said I already had him for a pet. I want a partner, not a pet!"

John smiled slowly. "I can live with that. But if you bathe me, I'll bathe you."

"Once we get back to Atlantis, we'll need one, so we'll do it then."

"Sounds good to me." John looked up at him. "And in case I wasn't clear, I'm glad we're together."

Rodney nodded. "I figured that out, and in case I wasn't clear, I am too."

John pulled him down into another kiss. "Guess Atlantis is stuck with us."

"Poor Elizabeth," Rodney chuckled.

"Lucky Elizabeth."

"Considering without us everyone would be dead, you may be right."

"We make a good team. Like O'Neill and Jackson, only better"

Rodney snickered. "Closer than you know."

John stared up at him. "Are you kidding?"

"Please! Have you seen them around each other?"

"Well, I did notice the general's reaction every time there was a hint that Jackson should join the Atlantis expedition."

"Exactly," Rodney grinned and settled himself against John's side. "Ever since Dr. Jackson came back from being ascended, Col. O'Neill has been very possessive of him."

Having learned what ascension was, John could relate. "Gee, I wonder why. Don't you ever do that to me. No ascension, okay? Not unless we go together."

"Well, if it's a choice between that and dying... and there is precedent of a person returning from it--twice actually if what I've read is accurate."

"Just as long as you come back. Things wouldn't be nearly as interesting around here without you."

"I feel the same," Rodney murmured, pressing a kiss against John's throat.

"See, Atlantis was right; we do belong together."

"Yes, yes, the city is all-knowing; now can we finish eating?"

John laughed. "I'll remind you that you said that." He picked up his sandwich and took another bite.

"Why does this fill me with foreboding?"

John smiled sweetly. "Don't you trust me?"

"Personally, with everything, professionally..."

John's smile morphed into a laugh. "Smart. But I promise I'm on your side."

"I would hope so, or Rover will get you," Rodney chuckled.

"You're going to sic him on me, aren't you?" John offered Rodney a bite of fruit resembling grapes.

"Only if you misbehave," Rodney promised, smiling as he took the fruit and popped one of the globes into his mouth.

"I guess I'll just have to keep you happy then. Damn, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it."

Rodney smirked. "That's very smart of you, John. Just how do you plan to do that?"

"Regular meals, massages, sex, sleep. Sound good?"

"I think I could live with that, oh, for a thousand years or so."

"Guess we'd better hope the Ancient gene gives us longevity then."

"Along with what? An overactive sex drive?"

"Well, I do have better recuperative powers than most men."

"That's because you're a slut."

"It's not easy being a slut."

"But being a slut means you're easy."

"Only for the right man."

"Good answer."

"Do I get a reward?"

"Only after you teach me to body surf." The last was accompanied by a full body shudder.

John laughed again. "You're going to love it."

"Until the Atlantean version of Jaws bites off my penis."

"I promise to protect your penis."

"With prophylactics?"

John stared. "You really are insane, aren't you."

"Preposterous."

"Prick."

"Yes, well, that's what I'm worried about being bitten off."

"What, you want to swim around with me deep-throating you?"

Rodney looked intrigued. "That has possibilities."

"Hello, does drowning mean anything to you?!"

"Aside from a nasty way to die?"

"Oh, shut up and eat your sandwich."

"Just so long as you eventually eat me."

"It's in the program for the afternoon's activities. But you need to eat first so you don't faint in the middle."

Rodney glowered. "Phrase things that way again and I'm going back to check on Rover."

"Oh sorry. So you don't pass out from manly hunger," John snickered.

Dark eyebrows rose as Rodney digested that comment. "So glad you're concerned with my well-being, Major. I'll remember it."

"Rodney, I carry power bars and epinephrine shots around in my pocket."

"Because you lo--like me," Rodney beamed.

"Yeah, well, I've always had odd taste." John smirked, but the hand he curved over Rodney's cheek told the truth.

"Yes, but you taste good." Rodney turned his head and pressed a kiss against John's palm as he spoke, almost purring at the combined flavor of sandwich, fruit, and, underlying both, pure John.

"So glad you approve." John watched him through darkening eyes, his fingertips lightly flexing against Rodney's skin.

Rodney smiled against John's palm and kissed it again before letting it go. "You're just lucky I'm agreeable."

John's jaw dropped. "Agreeable?"

"Would you rather I was disagreeable?"

"You're unique," John finally replied tactfully. "And I like you just the way you are."

Rodney chuckled. "Glad to hear that because I'm not changing."

"Gee, really? I'd never have guessed. I figured you were so easy-going that you'd change your whole personality if I wanted you to."

"You'd be bored then, and you know it."

"No danger of that, fortunately. Though some of your scientists might prefer it," John teased.

"Bah, if I was easy on them, they'd slack off, and then where would we be?"

"Dead probably. It's taken all of us to keep us alive through everything that this galaxy's thrown at us."

"Especially us, but that's beside the point, other than the fact we do make a pretty damn good team."

"Yeah, not to mention giving me even more of a reason to make it back alive." John turned his head to press a kiss to Rodney's thigh.

Rodney stroked a hand through John's hair, unable to suppress the shudder that ran through him. "Good point, because if you don't, you really don't want to deal with me."

John had to laugh. "What, will you hold a seance to bitch at my dead soul?"

"After I kick your body around the city for a week or two!"

"So much for honoring fallen heroes. But considering I have every intention of staying alive, I don't think I'll worry about it. Besides, who else would take you in hand?"

"Or in mouth," Rodney smirked.

"That would be no one," John stated emphatically. "And don't you forget it."

"That's one thing I plan on remembering, oh, for the rest of my life."

John's expression was warm, but being John, he had to comment. "Does that mean you're making an honest man of me?"

"Will it make you behave?"

"Nope. Nothing'll ever do that."

Rodney sighed, then grinned. "Good, life would be boring otherwise."

"Not really a danger around here. And shouldn't you be peeling grapes and feeding them to me?"

"Do I look like a harem girl to you?"

John gazed at him assessingly. "Hm. You know, actually, you're pretty much what I'd want in a pleasure slave."

"Major, you are certifiably insane; I think you need to talk to Kate when we get back."

John's head shook in Rodney's lap. "'Fraid not. I'm entirely your problem."

"I suppose that's a good thing because I'm the only one who can handle you," Rodney sighed, though he never stopped stroking John's hair.

"And the only one I want handling me." John pressed his head harder against Rodney's thigh, soft sounds of contentment escaping him.

"Only one who'd better be; I can be possessive too, you know."

"I know." John smiled smugly. "I like it."

Rodney tightened his fingers in John's hair and pulled.

"Ow!" John pouted up at him. "What was that for?"

"Being smug."

"Like you weren't!"

"I'm taking advantage of a tactical situation."

John turned his head to the side and bit Rodney's thigh, very close to his groin. "Me too."

"Oh fuck," Rodney rasped, shifting as his cock turned uncomfortably hard in an instant.

"Like that, do you?" Amused, John did it again.

"Bastard," Rodney muttered, squirming but not pulling away.

John rolled to his side and reached for the fastenings of Rodney's pants, opening them and tugging them down so the next bite was into bare skin while his cheek pressed against Rodney's cock.

Rodney whined and collapsed back on the blanket, laughing weakly. "If this is the body surfing you were talking about, I'm liking it so far."

"We can do that later. I have something else in mind right now." John rolled to his belly and nibbled along Rodney's inner thigh until he reached the tender flesh where the leg joined the torso. Rather than biting, he licked lazily, then sucked hard.

"God, John..." Rodney twisted up off the blanket, his hand finding the back of John's head and threading through the soft dark hair again as he spread his legs wider.

"I'm going to mark you from head to foot," John promised, his tongue flicking around the base of Rodney's cock.

"Christ, I'm never going to hear the end of this from--fuck!" Rodney yelped when John's teeth scored his skin. "Do that again!"

John did.

And then he very gently scraped his teeth along the length of Rodney's shaft, enjoying the sounds it elicited.

"John, oh yeah, just like that, feels so damn good," Rodney whimpered, arching up into the pleasurable pain, his hand scrabbling against John's head and shoulder.

"Tastes so good," John murmured, now rubbing his lightly stubbled cheek along the sensitized skin.

Rodney's voice dissolved to a series of guttural moans punctuated by whines and yips as John continued to mouth him, moving around his groin. Every sound made John shudder with increasing arousal and his cock jump in his uniform pants. John slowly dragged his tongue over the reddened skin, soothing the burn and tasting Rodney all at once.

It wasn't much, but it was enough to tip Rodney over the edge, and he gasped as he jerked upward, gouting semen over his belly and dampening the edge of his shirt. John held him down, not letting him squirm away as he lapped up every drop, ignoring Rodney's whimpers. Only when he was sure that he hadn't missed any did he push up to kneel between Rodney's legs.

"I want to be inside you," he rasped.

"Um hmm," Rodney sighed, smiling deliriously as he stretched, then tugged futilely at his trousers. "Gotta get these off if you want to do that."

It was the work of moments to strip them both, and then John was settling atop him, his cock nudging between Rodney's cheeks. He fumbled in the pack for the lube that had been the first thing he packed and stroked it into Rodney.

"Feels good, all of it, especially you in me; almost as good as me in you," Rodney breathed, pulling his legs back to allow John to stretch him more easily.

"I can't decide which is better. We'll just have to keep retrying them both." John leaned down to kiss him as he pushed forward, slowly sliding into the tight sheath of Rodney's body.

Rodney smiled and hooked his legs around John's hips and his arms around his shoulders. "Ex--ah--perimentation is always good, especially with results such as these."

"Isn't it? Even basic math proves we're right together. One into one is still one. Just like... us." John groaned harshly as he bottomed out inside Rodney, his balls pressed to the other man's ass.

"Singular, prime and perfect," Rodney hissed, clenching down on John's cock, his fingers kneading the warm, firm flesh as they moved together.

"Oh yeah." John rocked into him, trying to get even deeper, to blend them together so that they never came apart. He wanted to stay inside Rodney forever, but it felt too good, made him feel too much when he looked into the normally sharp blue eyes and saw the soft, unfocused expression that was just for him. He cried out, his body arching into a deep bow as he drove deep again and came.

Rodney smiled, his expression slowly sharpening as John relaxed over him, slowly sinking down against his body, their sweat mingling between them. "Feel free to surf my body any time," he sighed.

"Don't think you're getting out of it," John chuckled against his throat. "We're still going surfing after my spine reforms."

"I melted your spine? Damn, I'm good."

"Yup." John had no intention of denying it.

Rodney chuckled and stroked his hand down John's back. "Well, considering that mine was oozing over the blanket not long ago, I can't be too smug--and don't you dare comment on that!"

John mimed zipping his lips. He nestled closer after shifting slightly to side so Rodney could lower his legs and not be crushed beneath his weight, and nuzzled Rodney's throat.

"Mmm, obedient, I like that in a lover, though not all the time," Rodney murmured.

John bit his shoulder.

Rodney shivered. "You know, if Carson has to check me out, he's going to think I have some strange blood disease."

"There's no need for Carson to check you out. I'm the only one who'll be doing that. Unless something's actually wrong. Otherwise, let him find his own lover."

"Any suggestions or should we let Atlantis find him one?"

John laughed, rolling to his back and drawing Rodney close. "I think he'd probably prefer to find one on his own."

Rodney snorted and pushed himself up to his elbows on John's chest. "This is Carson we're talking about, Major."

"He's a grown man. I'm sure he's managed to find a lover or two during the course of his life."

"I repeat; this is Carson we're talking about."

John blinked. "You don't think he's a virgin?"

Rodney shrugged. "We talked some when we were in Antarctica together, and I'd say it was a possibility. Too bad that Perna didn't let him have some before she bit it."

John raised his head to gape at him. "I don't think I'd put it quite that way to anyone." He shook his head in disbelief. He knew Rodney was blunt beyond the point of tactlessness, but that was sinking to new levels even for him.

"Of course I wouldn't say that to him--or anyone else for that matter." Rodney wrinkled his nose at the idea. "Despite what you might think, I'm not a total asshole to my friends."

"I know that." John kissed his nose in apology. "It's just that you can be extremely blunt. And you don't consider very many friends. I'm not sure you even count Teyla and Ford in that category. If forced to name them, I'd say me, Carson and Zelenka. Am I wrong?"

Rodney shrugged, not wanting to admit to that sad fact.

"Hey, nothing wrong with that." John hugged him closer. "Quality not quantity is what counts. And more people care about you than you might think. Here in Atlantis, despite being abrasive, people get to know you."

"Let's face it, John, people are glad I can help save their asses." Rodney stroked a hand over John's back. "But that's okay; I can deal with that because it's better than the opposite."

"I l-like you just because you're you," John offered.

"And because I'm damn sexy."

"Yup. Now let's get some sunblock so we can take a nap, and then I'll introduce you to the joys of body-surfing."

"You know, if we move the blanket back under those trees, we won't need as much sunblock."

John nodded. "Good point. And since I'd really rather not be that greasy, I'll even get to my feet to do it. As soon as you get off me."

"God, you mean I have to move?" Rodney whined even as he rolled off of John and got to his feet, stretching and reaching for the pack to drag it over to the shade.

"You're the one who wanted to move the mattress. I'm certainly not dragging you into the shade."

"I'm up, I'm up," Rodney grumbled, catching a corner of the mattress and helping John pull it over into the shade. That done, he collapsed on it again, holding up a hand for the lotion.

John swatted the hand aside as he sank to his knees beside Rodney and poured the lotion into his own hand to apply to Rodney's pale skin.

"Mmm, is this another of John Sheppard's extra special primo massages?"

"It could be." John slowly smoothed the lotion over Rodney's shoulders and chest, his eyes intent on Rodney's.

"I love those massages."

John's hands hesitated briefly before continuing. "I'll have to make sure you get them whenever you want then."

"Which would be at least nightly," Rodney smiled as he watched John through half-lidded eyes.

An eyebrow rose sharply. "Rather demanding, aren't you."

Rodney yawned and let his eyes fall closed. "You wouldn't want me any other way."

John looked down at him as he sank into sleep. "I think I'd want you any way I could get you," he murmured before stretching out beside Rodney.

***

"All right, due to the lack of the fish nibbling on my body parts, I will admit I can see the attraction of body surfing." Rodney finished getting dressed and gave John a brief smile.

"Told you so."

"Gloating is so unbecoming."

"But so much fun."

"Good, then you can deal with Rover when we get back--oh shit, I promised him we'd bring him something." Rodney began looking around for something for the cart.

John sat up to watch him. "We're the only people in two galaxies looking for a gift for a cart."

Rodney looked up from his searching. "Do you want to disappoint him?"

John sighed and pushed to his feet. "So what do you get the cart that needs noting?"

"How about this?" Rodney straightened up, holding a cream-colored, spiral curved shell.

"Pretty. And since it's from you, I'm sure he'll love it."

Rodney smirked. "You want one too? I don't want you to be jealous of him."

John shrugged easily. "Not an issue. I have you."

"So I'm better than a shell? Yes, I am, aren't I."

"Yeah, especially now that you don't try to hide inside your own shell." John walked over to him to take a look at the shell. "Does this mean we have to bring him back a shell or something from every mission?"

"Well, he could come with us; considering the fact he seems to be designed to fit in the jumpers, the Ancients must have planned on them being used off-world."

John stopped to consider that and slowly nodded. "Good point. He could be useful on missions, and I know that he'll be interested in protecting you."

Rodney nodded enthusiastically. "And we already know that he can deal with terrain, plus I'm sure he can store samples inside his housing..."

Laughing, John raised a hand to stop the verbal barrage. "Okay, okay, you've convinced me. We'll take him along on a couple of missions and see how he does."

"It's conceivable that these carts could replace MALPs in the future you know."

"And you'll be their proud papa."

"Which leaves you to be the mother."

John glared. "I think I've proved my manhood."

"So this is a case of 'My Two Dads'?"

John pondered the matter. "Yeah, you could be Paul Reiser, and I can be Greg Evigan. Works for me."

"The idea that you actually know that show is sick but strangely intriguing."

"Greg Evigan was hot."

"Did you like his monkey too?"

"Naw, I prefer more brain power in my crushes."

Rodney shook his head as he packed up the rest of their belongings. "John, if I didn't like you so much, you'd seriously worry me at times."

John snickered. "But you do, so I won't worry about it. And if you're good, I'll even let you fly part of the way back."

"Be still my heart."

"Or not." John mentally reached for the mattress and caused it to compress back into the small package that fit into his pack.

"Or not," Rodney nodded, picking up and folding the blanket and heading toward the jumper.

"See if I offer you the stick again."

"I was taking about my heart being still, not the... oh forget it."

"I sometimes wonder if we even speak the same language," John grumbled, not quite under his breath.

The only answer was a loud bang from the inside of the jumper followed by an almost as loud curse. His eyes widening in dismay, John nearly sprinted inside. "Are you all right? Is the ship all right?"

"Yes, the precious ship is fine," Rodney muttered.

"Hey, do you want to try swimming back to Atlantis?"

"And I'm fine too since you asked."

"I asked about you first."

"And thank you for that." Rodney didn't bother to explain the noise and the cursing had been because he'd kicked a console in response to John's comment.

John rolled his eyes. "What did I do now?"

"It doesn't matter; everything's good," Rodney sighed as John carried his pack into the jumper.

"If that was true, you wouldn't be beating up on my ship."

"Who said I beat up on your ship?"

John's eyebrow rose. "I'm not an idiot, Rodney."

"You're the one who said we didn't speak the same language," Rodney muttered, pulling on his jacket and dropping into the co-pilot seat.

"I just meant that sometimes I don't understand where you're coming from. You forget we mere mortals can't always keep up with you, Rodney." John shrugged. "But I'm always willing to try."

"Can we just go rescue Rover from the children?" Rodney sighed.

"That depends on whether I'm going to end up sleeping on the couch. This was supposed to be a fun day, and I'd like it to end that way."

"No, John, you aren't going to end up on the couch; you're much too comfortable for me to do that, plus there's the issue that the city would probably fry me for kicking you out of bed." Rodney smiled at the last, trying to ease the tension between them.

John grinned wryly. "I'd rather that you want me there." He slid an arm around Rodney's shoulders, hugging him briefly. "You should know by now that I don't mean anything by what I say. Aside from certain specific situations."

"And those specific situations would be when?"

John's smile turned sheepish. "When I'm telling how much I like having you with me."

"Those times are acceptable."

"Glad we could agree."

"Get in the seat so we can go get Rover, John," Rodney laughed.

John snapped off a salute and settled into the pilot's seat. "Sir, yes sir!"

"Pervert."

"What, you don't want to be in charge tonight?"

Rodney groaned. "Go. Get. Rover."

"Woof." John raised the jumper into the air and set a heading toward the Athosian village. "I'm sure Rover's fine."

"Need I remind you that Jinto released the cloud that almost ate Atlantis?"

"There's no Ancient technology for him to set off in the village. Aside from Rover, and I think he's fairly self-determining."

"Let's hope so." Suddenly nervous, Rodney stared out the front screen as John piloted them back to the village, turning and twisting the shell in his hands the whole way.

John hid a smile at Rodney's reaction and reached over to rest a hand on the scientist's knee while flying them back to get Rover. "He'll love his shell."

"Maybe he won't, maybe he'll be mad at me for leaving him alone..." Rodney worried.

John rolled his eyes but didn't bother commenting, knowing that Rodney wasn't going to pay any attention until he saw Rover for himself. He concentrated on his flying until he brought them in to land on the outskirts of the Athosian village.

"Do you see them?" Rodney asked, already climbing out of his seat as they landed.

"Over in the center, in the pile of laughing children." John kept out of the way, not wanting to be mown down.

Wondering if he was going to have a traumatized cart, Rodney headed for the back of the jumper, tapping his foot impatiently until John had them on the ground and the hatch open. John hung back until he could get his snickers under control, and then followed to see the great reunion of man and cart.

The moment Rodney appeared, there was a commotion in the midst of the children, and Rover came barreling through the crowd to press up against Rodney. "It's okay," Rodney murmured, stroking the cart's sensor array and presenting him with the shell. "We're back, and we brought you a present."

John stared at the many garlands of flowers hanging from Rover and said, "I hope you're not allergic to any of those."

"I'm sure Carson can give me an analgesic," Rodney answered as Rover took the shell from his hand and turned it over and over before tucking it in a storage compartment.

"It might be easier to take them off once we're away from the village. I have a feeling Rover might appreciate that." John reached down to pat him, and the cart pulled away slightly, pressing closer to Rodney.

"Yes, yes, no flowers for Atlantis," Rodney murmured, continuing to pet the cart unconsciously. "Thank you for playing with him, Jinto," he called.

"It was fun. If you wish to bring it back, we would like to play with it again," Jinto said happily.

Feeling Rover shivering against him, Rodney nodded. "Perhaps when there's time; we're going to have Rover do some work to earn his keep for now though, right, Major?"

"Yeah, we need to get back to the city," John agreed hastily, beginning to shepherd Rodney and Rover back to the jumper. "Thanks for taking care of Rover for us."

"We hope you will return soon," Jinto called.

"We'll try; if he survives." Rodney muttered the last as they all entered the jumper.

Rover immediately shook himself free of the flowers and used his manipulating arm to remove the remaining garlands.

"I don't think Rover liked the flowers," John said, amusement clear in his voice.

"Maybe if he was a Roverette, he would have," Rodney answered, taking the garlands and tossing them toward John. "And if Radek ever gets a gene inoculation that works, you can be sure he's getting a prissy female cart!"

"You really are insane. It's a good thing I happen to like you that way."

"And I hope you get a cart that's as hormonal as you are!"

"Ah, but I don't need one. I have you, and you have Rover. And I'm not hormonal!"

Rodney only looked at John, his eyebrows arched.

"Are you complaining about our sex life?"

"Oh, yes, I hate having a sex-maniac as a lover; it's the great burden of my life." Behind them, Rover grumbled out a series of noises as it wedged itself under a seat.

"I am not a sex-maniac. I simply have a healthy libido. And great inspiration." John ignored the noises from the back aside from musing that for a machine with no vocalization apparatus, Rover managed to make a wide range of noises that expressed his opinions.

"So get us back to Atlantis so we can clean up and then check your libido out a final time before this 'honeymoon' we were sent on is over."

"I knew I had the right idea getting involved with a genius." John grinned at him and increased speed slightly, intent on getting back to their room so he could try again to make Rodney admit that he was a very noisy lover.

"Yes, well, everyone should have one of us... and a cart."

"Everyone else will just have to find their own. I found you first, and I'm keeping you."

Rodney shot a quick grin at John and reached over to catch his hand. "I'm glad to hear it because I'm planning on keeping you too."

"It works well for us, even if some other people are startled by it."

"They're just jealous is all."

"Probably." John shrugged. "It's not as if we didn't listen to each other before or suddenly started ganging up on Elizabeth."

"Well, yes, but that's because Elizabeth sometimes has absurd ideas," Rodney countered. "And speaking of Elizabeth, I'm hoping we don't run into her or anyone else before we get back to our quarters."

"We're off duty. Unless the Wraith are invading the city, we get to ignore anyone and everyone."

"Unless Ford finds you."

John shook his head emphatically. "Nope, time off. Whatever it is, he can handle it."

Rodney chuckled. "Then you can handle that down-trodden puppy look."

"That's why I'm an officer. I can handle the tough jobs. And I'd rather get a sad puppy look from him than you."

"So I'm more affective than he is?"

"Your moods matter a lot more to me than his do."

"Well, I would hope so!"

John leaned over to kiss him quickly. "I don't think it was in any doubt."

Rodney smirked. "He wouldn't survive you, and you know it."

"Like he would ever get the chance." John pulled a face. "He's too young, not to mention being a subordinate. And not even close to my type."

"True, the man couldn't guess a prime number if his life depended on it."

"Don't think I didn't hear about the way you and Zelenka tormented him about that. It's not his fault he's a statistical improbability," John snickered.

"That's Radek's theory; I say he's just dense."

"Now, now, be nice to my lieutenant. We can't all be math geniuses. He has other skills."

"If you tell me they're anything other than a boyish sense of humor and skill with munitions, you're sleeping on the couch tonight."

"Well, he has to have some other skills to be an officer," John pointed out. "Even the jarheads require more than that."

Rodney decided that pointing out anyone that graduated from ROTC was commissioned an officer was futile because he knew Ford was a good soldier and it was self-defeating, especially as the man had saved his life many times. "Yes, yes, we all know how superior the Air Force is to every other branch of your military."

"It's self evident." John made a mental note to repeat this conversation some time when there were marines around. Bates maybe. He grinned wickedly.

"That not all American armed forces are created equal? And yes, I know your Constitution; can you say the same about mine?"

Looking a bit hunted, John admitted, "I know that you have one."

Rodney applauded.

"Be nice or I'll crash us into the ocean."

"Rover will save me," Rodney replied with supreme confidence.

John growled wordlessly.

"Growl all you want; you still don't know anything about Canada's Constitution."

John opened his mouth and then paused, considering the likelihood that he'd end up on the couch with Rover standing guard over Rodney and the bed. He shut it again without saying anything. Fortunately, they were at Atlantis, so he was able to concentrate on landing the ship in the jumper bay.

Deciding the vexed look on John's face was enough payback, Rodney chuckled and, after the jumper had settled in the bay, leaned over to kiss John. "Race you to the transporter," he murmured.

"No riding Rover to get there faster!"

"Major, that would be cheating; I'll just have him trip you." Rodney grinned and lunged around his seat, getting out of the jumper while Rover rolled out from under the seat to block John's exit.

"And this isn't cheating?" John gave the cart a dirty look as he yelled after Rodney. "It's kind of pointless to get there first if I can't get there at all!"

Since he could just barely hear John, Rodney decided it was safe to let him loose, and he mentally ordered Rover to let the major pass and to follow them to their quarters.

John dropped the pack onto Rover when the cart finally moved out of his way, and he promised himself that he'd make Rodney pay. In fact, making him admit to his noisiness would be a good beginning.

"What took you so long?" Rodney called from the shower when he heard John's very noisy entrance. "Did you bring Rover?"

"Rover is what took me so long. And he nearly squashed me making sure he came in before I did. I swear, that cart's jealous of us, Rodney." John tossed his clothes aside in a pile in one corner of the room and padded naked into the bathroom to join Rodney.

"How can he be jealous; you don't see him trying to push in here, do you?" Rodney handed the soap over as he rinsed himself off.

"That would be because I got in here first and locked the damn door!" John began to lather himself, sluicing away the sweat, salt and sand from their day at the beach.

"You locked the door? John! He's going to be traumatized!"

The hazel eyes narrowed threateningly. "He's in our quarters and can come and go as he pleases. I don't think he needs to be in the shower with us." The tone held more than a hint of a snap.

Rodney reached up and caught John's face between his palms. "John, you're the one I want with me; don't be jealous of a cart."

John deflated abruptly. "Oh God, I was, wasn't I? That's so pathetic."

Rodney shrugged and smiled. "Actually, it's rather cute."

"You just think so because you're the one we're fighting over." John shook his head, water flying from his dark hair.

"As much as I like Ancient technology, I don't want to fuck any of it!"

"You have no idea how relieved that makes me," John snickered, finally relaxing enough to unlock the door. He rolled his eyes when Rover instantly trundled in. "But maybe you should tell him that."

"Rover, stay out of the stall," Rodney muttered without looking at the cart, able to tell from John's reaction the cart had settled by the wall. "See? No fucking the equipment, no matter how cute it is."

"How 'bout fucking the major instead?"

"That could be doable, once we get out of here anyway, as I intend to collapse afterward while my major and my cart get me food."

"Your cart can get you and your major food," John corrected while rinsing off. "Done?" he asked, not yet turning the water off since he'd discovered Rodney could be vicious if deprived of hot water before he was ready.

Rodney ducked his head under the spray and straightened up, sluicing the droplets back off his face with his hands. "Yeah, I'm good, feel almost human now--do I look burned anywhere?" He practically turned in a circle trying to see his back.

"Rodney, stop chasing your tail." John stopped him with a hand in the middle of his chest, then inspected him carefully. "Sadly, no, there doesn't appear to be a single inch of you that I'll have to massage aloe gel into."

"It's good for dry skin too, and I've got an itch behind my right shoulder blade..."

"In other words, you like my massages and want another one," John interpreted.

"Well, I didn't get one on the mainland, and if you really want me to fuck you, it would only be in your best interest."

"Are you saying that you require incentive to fuck me?"

Rodney sighed and threw a towel at John. "Major, you breathing is incentive enough for me."

"Good answer." John beamed as he began to dry himself off with the towel he'd caught. "You just earned yourself a massage."

"It wasn't to earn the massage," Rodney shrugged, hanging his towel on a hook and patting Rover on his 'head' as he walked into the other room.

"I know." John came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Rodney's waist. "And you didn't have to earn it at all. I like that you like me to touch you."

"More than like it," Rodney sighed, leaning back against John and turning his head to nuzzle his warm, damp throat.

"Sorry, the banter's kind of ingrained by now." John let his head fall back to give Rodney easier access while his hands moved in lazy circles over Rodney's stomach.

"It works most of the time," Rodney sighed, reaching back to circle an arm behind John's back so he could start them walking to the bed.

"Yeah, for us it's foreplay." John followed Rodney when he began to walk, not about to let even a breath of air between them.

Rodney groaned. "Wonderful; now I'm going to get hard next time I snark at you on a mission!"

"Oh damn."

"Wait until it happens to you."

John's eyebrow rose sharply. "You honestly think it hasn't?"

"We haven't gone on any missions since..." Rodney trailed off before smirking.

"And your point would be?"

"Glad I'm not the only one."

John snickered suddenly. "Ford is going to be so traumatized if we walk around with hard-ons all the time."

Rodney groaned. "Remind me to get roomier pants!"

"Mmm, more room for my hands. I like it."

"I thought you were the one who didn't want Ford traumatized!"

"I said he would be, not that I'd stop touching you to prevent it. He could use a little education in the steamier side of life."

"I am not going to be used as a sex ed device!"

"How about a sex toy?"

"For Ford?!"

"Not unless you want me to shoot him!"

"You brought it up!"

"Rodney, it's a simple equation. Sex equals me and you. Period. A closed set."

"I never disagreed with that, did I?" Rodney chuckled and stopped walking. "Uh, John, you're going to have to let go if I'm getting in there."

"You're the genius, figure out a way. I like holding you."

"John, you can hold me..." Rodney gave up arguing the point and managed to maneuver them down onto the bed, firmly telling Rover to stay in place when he heard the cart begin to move.

"If that cart tries to get in bed with us, we're moving to a bigger place and locking him in another room at night," John warned darkly.

"I think he wanted to help us get in bed," Rodney snickered, squirming a bit to get more comfortable.

"There are some things we can manage on our own."

"Which we did; now about that massage..."

"Demanding, aren't you?" But John pushed Rodney over onto his stomach and reached for the lotion, looking forward to it as much as Rodney.

"Well, of course I am," Rodney scoffed, his voice already sounding languid in anticipation of John's touch. "Would you want me any other way?"

"Probably," John admitted as he began to work on a knot in Rodney's shoulder. "I seem to want you pretty much any way, but I like you this way."

"Naked and in bed?"

"Naked, in bed, and all mine."

Rodney smiled into his arms and rolled his shoulders under John's hands. "Three for three."

"The kind of statistics I like." John dug into a tight knot, but it was one of the few he'd found. The day away had done them both good, despite Rodney's complaints.

"Sure thing, don't need to do the statistics."

John kissed Rodney's shoulder, a smile curving his lips. "I do statistics in my sleep."

"Do you say those things on purpose to turn me on?"

"What do you think?"

"Bastard," Rodney tried to grumble though in truth his tone was more needy than annoyed.

"My parents assure me they were married some time before I was born." John slapped Rodney's ass. "Roll over."

"Not the definition I was aiming for and move so I can, or I'll get Rover to help you."

"Quit threatening me with your cart." John moved aside to give Rodney some room, then settled back over him. A moment later he squirted a blob of lotion directly onto the center of Rodney's chest.

Rodney imitated Rover in that he attempted to levitate off the bed. "It's the only thing that works!" he exclaimed, swiping at the lotion and flicking it toward John.

"Poor baby," John snickered. He ran his hands through the remaining lotion, spreading it over Rodney's chest and shoulders, and slowly massaged it in.

"Your sympathy is underwhelming." Rodney glowered even as he arched up under John's hands. "And here I thought you wanted me to fuck you."

"In case you haven't noticed, you're face up and getting hard; I'm straddling you and smearing lotion progressively lower. Figure it out."

"Control-freak."

John slapped the lotion into Rodney's hand. "So take charge."

Rodney smirked and squirted some lotion into his palm. "Get up here then," he murmured, dropping the lotion and grabbing John's thigh.

John crawled up the bed on all fours, his eyes never leaving Rodney's, until his knees were level with Rodney's shoulders, and he stopped, waiting for his next order.

Licking his suddenly dry lips, Rodney lifted his head slightly to lap at the head of John's cock at the same time he trailed a lotion-slick finger between his taut ass cheeks. Shuddering, John braced his hands to prevent himself from collapsing on top of Rodney. He spread his legs wider, his back arching as he began to rock, wanting more of Rodney's mouth and finger at one and the same time.

"Hold still, John," Rodney murmured, knowing from the harsh groan that he'd been heard. Once John was still again, Rodney pressed a finger in his ass at the same time he lifted his head to take more of his cock into his mouth.

"Oh Jesus fuck!" John shook over Rodney, fighting his body's imperative to move. His lotion-slick hands clenched in the sheets, and he threw his head back as his back arched more deeply. Eyes closed and face contorted into an expression of almost painful pleasure, he managed to hold his hips still as the scent of arousal began to overpower that of the lotion in the air around them.

Rodney grinned around John's erection and reached behind him with his free hand, pushing the pillow behind his neck so that he didn't strain anything. Obedient John Sheppard was a treat and one that needed to be savored even if it meant ignoring his own cock for now. When John relaxed somewhat, he purred out his pleasure and added a second finger, crooking them in search of the major's prostate, then sucking strongly once he found it.

John screamed.

His hips jerked wildly once, then twice, before he managed to still himself again, and every breath was a whimpering sob of agonized pleasure as he fought his instincts. "OhgodpleasemoreharderneedtomoveRODNEY!" The frantic pleas fell from his lips in an unbroken stream, punctuated only by his breathless sounds of desperate need.

Now it was Rodney's turn to shudder at the pure, unadulterated need in John's voice, and he pulled his hand back to add another finger, at the same time squeezing his other hand on John's hip and relaxing his mouth, giving him free rein to move.

Released, John rapidly rocked back and forth, alternately burying himself in Rodney's throat and taking the fingers as far inside himself as they could go. Sobs of pleasure escaped him with each movement, every sound captured by the recording he'd triggered when Rodney had taken control.

Speech was impossible, what with John's cock buried down his throat, but Rodney managed a noise that was a combination moan and whine as he goaded John on, twisting his fingers to continually rub against his prostate with each thrust.

John's cries rose to a wail as he came, body shuddering with the waves of pleasure that tore through him. Rodney groaned as he swallowed, though he continued fingering John's ass and licking and sucking his cock for as long as possible, loving the sounds John was making.

"God, yes, fuck me, want you in me," John rasped.

"Roll over." Rodney managed to make the moan an order as he rolled on top of John, devouring his mouth as he rubbed against his belly.

Not even trying to speak, John simply gathered his energy and did as he was told, despite being left nearly boneless by the intensity of his climax.

"Oh fuck yeah," Rodney gasped, pushing John's legs up onto his shoulders and getting to his knees so that he could slot his erection against John's ass and press inside, hissing at the clenching heat.

"Oh God," John moaned, writhing against the rumpled sheets as Rodney filled him. He clenched down around the cock pushing into him, groaning his delight at the fullness and friction.

"John..." Rodney whimpered, catching John's hands in his and beginning to thrust, his deep-throated moans filling the room as he rocked into John's pliant body. Every sound sent a thrill of pleasure through John, and he smiled languidly up at Rodney, too sated for his body to rouse but still enjoying every thrust.

"God, oh yeah," Rodney rasped, tightening his fingers around John's, unaware of the needy noises spilling from his lips. John smiled, licking his lips, and watched Rodney lose himself. Eyes locked on John's tongue, Rodney managed to slow his thrusts, getting as much pleasure out of John's languid movements as his own motions.

"You feel so good in me," John whispered huskily, raising his head to kiss Rodney. Rodney groaned in response, the sound rumbling against John's lips as they rocked together. "Wanna feel you come in me," John continued.

"What? You don't like long and slow?" Rodney laughed, before gasping when John clenched down on him.

"Think you can hold out?" John challenged, pulling his legs back against his chest so Rodney sank even deeper inside him.

"Against you? No problem."

John clenched his ass and reached down to stroke Rodney's balls at the same instant. "Fuck!" Rodney hissed, his back bowing as he fought to keep from coming then and there.

"Please do," John invited. His other hand slid over Rodney's ass until he could finger the hole, teasing the sensitive area.

Rodney whined, his hips moving faster until he was slamming into John's ass, unaware of the low, guttural noises he was making. John grinned up at him, licking his lips again, the hazel eyes a stormy green as he rode the waves of pleasure.

"John..." Rodney whispered, slowing his strokes as he stared down at the other man before it all became too much for him, and he shuddered, his orgasm rendering what he was going to say next unintelligible.

John gasped, a ripple of pleasure passing through him as he watched Rodney come. Rodney whimpered then shifted them both so that he could collapse on top of John just before there was a loud pounding at the door.

"God, someone has really rotten timing," John groaned. He stopped the recording, thinking that Rodney might be appeased by the fact that John had actually been even noisier than he was. "Go away!" he groaned at the door.

"No, I will not go away! Not with the two of you broadcasting all over the bloody city!"

"Carson?" Rodney asked, lifting his head from John's shoulder to stare at the door. "What are you talking about?"

In his corner, Rover bumped back and forth, then rolled forward to key open the door, causing Rodney to squawk and dive for the blankets.

John yanked a sheet up over both of them, glaring at the doctor. Then he looked confused when a flushed Elizabeth Weir followed Carson into the room. "What's going on?"

"I think that should be our question," Elizabeth said, meeting John's eyes directly to avoid seeing anything else. "I take you weren't aware that you've been broadcasting to the entire city for the last several minutes?"

John's eyes widened in horror, and he squawked, a sound of absolute dismay.

Aware of the utter silence that greeted that remark, Carson continued. "Aye, I've had more calls for medical assistance than in our whole time here!"

"John," Rodney snarled, poking his head out from under the sheet, "what the hell did you do?"

John turned white. "But I didn't transmit," he protested feebly. "It was just recording!"

"You did it on purpose?" Now Rodney's tone was approaching a shriek.

"I don't care why the bloody hell you did it; just turn it off!" Carson exclaimed. "Kate's going to have a full schedule for weeks after this!"

"I did! I think." John wasn't sure which was scarier, Rodney's tone or Elizabeth's expression. "Well, I turned off the recording, but since I didn't know it was broadcasting, I don't know if that turned off at the same time."

"It did, thank God!" Bates put in from the doorway, his weapon in his hand. "I'm only hearing you from inside the room, not from the city PA now."

"Christ, why not have the entire city parade through here now!" Rodney spat, dragging the sheet over to the opposite end of the bed where Rover waited, nudging the bed in a nervous manner.

John collapsed backwards, pulling a pillow over his face. His words were muffled by it, but everyone in the room could hear him say, "Oh God, he's going to kill me. No, he'll dump and then ignore me for the rest of my life. FUCK!" The last was screamed into the pillow.

"Elizabeth, perhaps we should leave them alone now--unless there's going to be bloodshed I should worry about?" Carson looked from the lump on the bed that was Major Sheppard to Rodney, who was smashed next to his cart.

"Oh, no, go ahead and leave, all of you; I assure you, Major Sheppard is in no danger," Rodney said flatly.

John cringed. Once he heard the door shut again and had locked it before cautiously lowering the pillow and looking around to be sure everyone was gone, he stared up at the ceiling, unable to meet Rodney's justifiably furious gaze. "Is there anything I can say that'll stop you from leaving?"

"Will the city even let me leave?" Rodney asked flatly.

John winced and rolled to his side, his back to Rodney as he pulled his knees up close to his chest. "I think it understands the concept of breaking up," he said in a choked tone. He desperately wanted to argue, but he had no defense, and he knew it. In Rodney's place, he'd want to kill him.

"Did I say we were breaking up?" Rodney snapped, turning to glare at John's back. "I am incredibly pissed with you right now, for good reason I have to say, and I want to strangle you, but I'm not leaving." He visibly deflated at that. "I'm not leaving."

John froze for several seconds before he rolled over to face Rodney. "Really?"

Rodney sighed and rubbed at his forehead. "Yeah, really."

It was fortunate that John was lying down as every muscle in his body went limp with relief. "Oh thank God," he breathed fervently.

Rodney didn't answer, but Rover rolled around the bed, reached out an arm, and pinched John's thigh.

"Ouch!" John shot up the bed, rubbing his leg and glaring at the cart. "What the hell was that?"

"Oops, sorry, didn't mean it," Rodney said innocently.

John's eyes narrowed. "You promised Carson no violence!"

Rodney glanced over at John's leg, then shrugged. "I don't see any blood."

"I'll remind you of that when I have a massive bruise in a few hours." John curled up protectively, a wary eye on Rover.

"Which is a much shorter time than I'll be hearing about our little performance."

"I'm sorry," John offered in a small voice. "I never meant for that to happen. I just wanted to record us, but I was a little... distracted when I triggered it."

"Still trying to prove I'm the noisy one?"

"Well, tonight we were both noisy, but yeah." John shrugged. "I like hearing you, and it bugs me that you don't admit that you like it enough to make noise."

"I never said I don't make noise," Rodney protested. "I'm just not admitting to shrieking or whatever it is you say I do."

John glared. "You make every noise I've heard identified and a few I haven't! And then you make me make them too!"

"Fine, fine, I make noises; are you happy now?"

"You mean aside from having humiliated both of us before the entire city?" John groaned. "Yeah, very."

"Oh yes, I just can't wait to hear what Radek and Kavanaugh have to say about this come morning."

"The marines," John nearly whimpered.

"Oh please, they'll be proud of you for nailing the nerd."

"Uh, Rodney, in case you've forgotten, I was the one begging you to fuck me harder. Not that I mind that, I like it, but I rather doubt the marines'll see it the same way."

"So Stackhouse won't eat for another week, he needs to lose a few kilos anyway." Rodney sounded a bit nervous as he thought of how this might undermine John's authority.

"Aw, fuck it. I wish it hadn't happened, and it's completely embarrassing, but it's not like I'm ashamed of what we do." John straightened his shoulders, though he kept his legs protectively curled over his groin, not trusting Rover.

Rodney sighed and leaned back against the wall, letting the sheet fall around his waist. "I'm sorry."

"I think that's supposed to be my line."

"Don't complain; you won't hear it often from me."

John smiled wryly. "Do you think you might come back to bed?"

"Last I checked, I was in the bed, and I was apologizing for the fact that you thought you needed to record us again."

"Okay, do you think you might come back within arms reach? And, uh, well, I was looking forward to listening to it with you afterward," John admitted. "I thought it would be hot."

"Obviously not the reaction the rest of Atlantis had," Rodney sighed, finally moving over to sit by John again. "And Rover, relax, will you!" The cart had been rolling back and forth by the head of the bed, and at Rodney's comment, it squealed its wheels and darted to the corner, apparently sulking.

"I think he was hoping you were going to dump me and he'd have you all to himself."

"You are so disgusting!"

"I didn't mean sex!" John gave him a revolted look. "Like a kid of a single parent or a pet--he wants all your attention."

Rodney sighed and collapsed onto the mattress, closing his eyes. "How the hell did my life devolve into this?"

"I think it all started when you built an atomic bomb for your sixth grade science project." John moved a little closer and tentatively put an arm over Rodney's middle.

Rodney opened one eye. "So I can blame America?"

John shrugged. "Sure, why not."

"Good, your CIA needs more blame." Rodney sighed but didn't move away from John's arm.

"I think they get plenty, but there's probably lots more to go around." John moved a little closer and put his head on Rodney's shoulder, tensing as he waited to see if Rodney would move away--or push him away.

"So it's my fault I'm brilliant?"

"I think that's genetics."

Rodney sighed and slid his arm around John's shoulders. "You're an idiot."

"I think I've proven that, thanks." John slowly relaxed, his cheek against Rodney's shoulder.

"It's a good thing I lo--like you."

"Yeah, it is." John took a deep breath. "'Cause I do too. Lo-like you, that is."

"Good thing." Rodney sighed and pulled John closer. "And what kind of word is that?"

"You tell me; you said it first."

"Huh?"

"You said you lo-like me."

Rodney almost denied it, but the thought of John recording him again changed his mind. "Fine, I love you; are you happy now?"

"Yeah, I know. Me too."

"Me too? That's all I get, a 'me too'?"

"I, John Sheppard, love you, Rodney McKay. As if you didn't know it."

Rodney shrugged and sniffed. "Possibly, but it's nice to hear the words especially when the one saying them has just played an intimate moment over the city-wide speakers."

John winced. "Sorry. And I really do love you."

Rodney smirked. "I know."

"Great, I'm living with Han Solo."

"Does that make you Princess Leia?"

"I'm not pinning danishes to the sides of my head."

"That's okay; I liked the metal bikini version better myself. Jabba may have been disgusting, but he has good taste in clothes for his slave girls."

John raised his head to stare at Rodney. "I don't wear metal thongs. And I don't have tits. So forget Princess Leia."

Rodney turned his head to the side, his eyebrows arched. "You owe me, Major."

"I do not cross-dress."

"So I'll get you a male version then; I'm sure Rover and I can come up with something."

"Rodney, I am not letting your jealous cart dress me."

Rodney had to snicker at that, and he relaxed against John, ignoring for now what he was going to have to face come morning. "I'd make sure nothing locked on."

"How comforting. How 'bout we stick to just us and bare skin. It works very well."

"As all of Atlantis knows."

John groaned and buried his face against Rodney's chest. "Maybe we could move to the mainland."

"Do you hear me arguing?"

"I am so not looking forward to the morning briefing."

Rodney groaned. "I'm calling in sick."

"You'd leave me to face them alone?!"

"Was I the one who decided to record us?"

John moaned pitifully.

"I'll send Rover with you."

"So not helping."

"So not trying to."

"Please?"

"God, I hate it when you pout at me."

John had to fight the urge to grin. "No, you don't. You love me."

Rodney groaned. "You're going to throw that up in my face every time you can, aren't you?"

"As often as you will."

"I'm doomed."

"But it's a shared doom. We'll go down together."

"Going to sleep now."

John raised his head to kiss Rodney. "Good night... lover."

Rodney groaned as he thought the lights off.

***

"Rodney! Come to lab now!" Radek Zelenka's voice jolted them from sleep hours later. "I have found something!"

John grumbled and rolled over, pulling a pillow half over his head to block out the loud voice issuing from the communications system.

"Wha? Huh?" Rodney muttered before what Radek had said penetrated his brain, and he jolted off the bed, clambering over John and thinking the lights on to a low level while he grabbed for his clothes. "If it's a recording of the broadcast last night, I'm killing him," he continued, dropping back to the bed to pull on his sneakers.

"Take my P90," John grumbled from under the pillow. "It's still dark out!"

"I'll bring Rover; he has better aim," Rodney sighed, standing turning back, pulling the pillow away so he could kiss John's forehead. "I'll see you later, Major." Already half asleep again, John made a muzzy sound and burrowed into the covers that smelled of both of them, never noticing when Rodney left.

***

Zelenka's head shot up when the door to the lab opened, and he gave Rodney a triumphant look when the other scientist came in. "We changed the parameters, and the database found a match."

It only took a second for Rodney to decipher what Radek was talking about. "The fragments? What is it?"

"We still don't know who, but we have encountered them before." Radek waited a beat before continuing, "The nano-virus."

Rodney blanched. "It's the same origin?" Even as he asked the question, he grabbed for Radek's laptop and began scrolling through the results. "Shit, shit, shit."

"Yes, that is a very good description of the situation." Despite his joking words, Radek's blue eyes were dark with worry. Whoever this race was, they'd already proven to be a danger to the purely human members of the expedition, and judging by what Sheppard's team had found on the planet, they extended their dislike to all humans.

"And since we don't know who made the nano-virus, we're still at square one--one and a half considering now we know they like blowing up people's brains as well as their homes."

"Somehow I do not find this comforting." Radek glanced sideways at Rodney. "Though I think I am in less danger now. The noises last night already blew up my brain."

"Oh ha ha ha," Rodney scowled, glaring up at Radek over the laptop. "That was Major Sheppard's fault, not mine."

"Perhaps the cause, but you were definitely an equal participant in the results!"

"I was having sex with my lover in our room, totally unaware he had turned on a broadcast; how is that my fault?"

"I understand the major was equally unaware. One might argue that you distracted him so it is your fault." Radek enjoyed revving Rodney up.

Rodney glowered at the other man. "One might argue that the only reason you're bringing this up is because you're jealous."

"No, I bring it up because I enjoy timing how long it takes you to begin frothing at the mouth."

"I'm assigning you to away teams with Bates and Kavanaugh for the next six months."

"Then you will have no one here to help you do the work."

"I have Rover."

Zelenka eyed him oddly. "The cart is a tool, not a scientist. It cannot create new ideas or solve problems."

"Yes, but he'll make my work easier, and that way I can do more work than any three of you."

"Yes, Rodney," Radek sighed.

"Not that I don't do that anyway," Rodney continued, scrolling through the lines of data on the laptop, his mind only half on what he was saying.

"Yes, Rodney." Radek considered hitting him over the head with something, but they needed him, and either Major Sheppard or the cart would probably kill him. Sadly, he was forced to conclude that it would be a bad idea.

After reading through the information three times and coming to the conclusion that there wasn't any hidden data that he could dig out, Rodney sighed, tapping at the keys without actually pressing them. "So," he finally said, glancing up to look at Radek. "Just how bad was it?"

Radek shook his head. "You really don't want to know. Though I did hear a xenobiologist gloating that the 'military got what was coming to them.' I do not believe, however, that anyone else was foolish enough to believe that it was some kind of game of one-upmanship." He shrugged. "It will be of more concern how the American military react."

Rodney nodded at that and looked away, the skin around his eyes tightening as he frowned. "That's what I'm worried about. I almost wish..." His voice trailed off before he could continue.

Zelenka stared at him before nodding sharply as he rose to his feet. He stood behind Rodney and slapped the back of his head. "Don't be an idiot!"

"What was that for?!"

"For a genius, you can be incredibly stupid! The two of you have been dancing around each other for weeks, months, and now you want to walk away from him? Please!"

"What? No! I didn't mean that!" Rodney rubbed at the back of his head and glared at Radek. "I mean that if he'd been the one fucking me, it would have been easier for the jarheads to take--maybe."

"Ah. Sorry." Radek sat back down, a tiny smile playing over his lips. If Rodney had been considering leaving John for his own good, even subconsciously, now he would not. "The marines will have to survive it as I do not believe I could survive another night like last night just so they could hear him doing you."

"There is not going to be a repeat performance," Rodney hissed.

"I hope that only applies to the broadcast and not the actual events," John said from behind them. Once he'd woken up a bit more, he'd realized that Rodney would be facing the rest of Atlantis and had come after him to try to deflect any problems.

"Yes, yes, of course I meant that. What is with people misunderstanding me today?"

"Just checking." John nudged Zelenka out of the way so he could kiss Rodney. Radek rolled his eyes but remained where he was rather than leaving them some privacy since he wanted to be present for support, if needed, when the others began to arrive.

Rodney tried to grumble, but it was impossible, considering John's mouth on his felt too damn good--as usual. "I thought you were asleep," he muttered.

"I was. Now I'm not."

"So why didn't you bring me any breakfast?"

"Because we're not hiding. We're going to go have breakfast in the dining hall."

"But I have work to do here; Radek found out those mortar fragments are related to the nano-virus, and if that's the case, those sickos are still around and after humans--which the majority of our base is, in case you don't recall."

John sighed. "Fine, I'll go get you some breakfast." He wasn't looking forward to facing everyone on his own, but Rodney was right. "I'll be right back."

Radek frowned as he looked from one to the other, but he didn't comment.

Seeing Radek's expression, Rodney groaned. "Shit. Hang on, John, the sickos aren't here, and the psychos in the mess hall are; I'll go with you--but I'm bringing Rover!"

"Do you hear me arguing? He's still new enough that hopefully he'll deflect some attention from us."

"Plus I can have him go after anyone who's too much of an asshole," Rodney said, trying to laugh. "So, how do we want to handle this? Ignore it? Go in making out and ignore it? Shoot them all--I can guess who the idiots making the worst comments will be, so it wouldn't be any great loss."

John started to laugh. "Tempting as that last may be, no. Ignoring it is good. Unless they get obnoxious. Then we cut them down to size."

"Considering most of their IQs, that shouldn't even make either of us break a sweat."

"So let's go get you something to eat before you faint."

"Fine, yeah, food, good," Rodney babbled, knowing it was nerves and hating it but unable to stop. They entered the transporter, and he glanced over at John before it engaged, the doors opening on the mess hall--the now conspicuously quiet mess hall.

John caught Rodney's hand in his, holding it tightly, and started forward. He looked straight ahead, meeting no one's eyes, but his head was up and his shoulders square.

Rodney squeezed back, managing a small smile when a couple of the science team actually looked impressed by their entrance. Ford and Teyla waved at them, motioning toward the empty seats at their table, and John quirked a smile and nodded.

"Looks like our team'll survive my stupidity," he murmured to Rodney as they tried to find something appetizing amongst the breakfast offerings.

"Mine too, I just should have admitted it," Rodney sighed, picking up several pieces of fruit and a thick slice of bread.

"What you should have done is keep your perversions to yourselves," Kavanaugh muttered as he pushed past them.

John's eyebrow rose sharply. "Jealousy'll get you nowhere, doctor. He's smarter than you are, and he's getting laid. Deal with it."

"He's smarter than you too," Rodney called to Kavanaugh's quickly retreating pony-tail.

John laughed, imagining Rodney's reaction when he got around to telling him exactly how smart he really was. "That really turns you on, doesn't it?" He led the way over to the table where their teammates were waiting for them.

"It is good that you have found each other," Teyla greeted them. "Though perhaps more publicly than necessary."

"And you could have said something," Ford groused though he was grinning. "I lost a case of powerbars to Bates!"

"Sorry to have put you at a disadvantage, Lieutenant," Rodney snorted as he sat. "And thank you, Teyla, I have to agree, but there's not much we can do now." He glanced over at another table and groaned because Grodin was making faces that he thought were supposed to represent passion.

"I think you need to send Grodin for a check up," John suggested, loudly enough for the other man to hear. "He looks ill."

"That's his normal expression when he's thinking," Rodney grumbled before snickering when Rover rolled over to the other table and poked Peter in the leg.

"Okay, it is funny when he's doing it to someone else."

"Halling has asked me to express the gratitude of my people for allowing our children to play with your new discovery, Dr. McKay," Teyla said calmly. "They enjoyed themselves greatly."

Rodney gave a somewhat sickly smile. "Yes, well, he liked it too--as far as I can tell." Apparently aware of the topic, Rover gave up tormenting Peter and shot back to the table, pressing itself in next to Rodney.

"Doesn't look like that to me, Doc," Ford laughed, bending over to peer at the cart.

"I don't think Rover had a lot of interaction with kids before we found him," John said diplomatically.

"Any more than Dr. McKay did," Ford chuckled.

"Perhaps you both will visit the children again and acclimate yourself more," Teyla offered.

Rodney blanched and pretended interest in the rest of the mess hall, only to swallow hard at the sight of quite a few people openly smirking at them. "Yes, well, perhaps we'll have to after our next mission."

John nonchalantly rested his arm along the back of Rodney's chair and glared at everyone who was smirking at them. Most of them found other things to look at, but one or two laughed and a couple of others sneered. He marked those last and made a note to tell Rodney to be careful of them.

"Speaking of missions, we should go back to P5X-3QZ; I'd like to take a full scientific team to see if we can find any more samples in that bombed village."

John nodded. "Now that we know a bit more about them, I'd say that's an imperative. We'll have to talk to Elizabeth."

"We know more about them?" Ford asked while Teyla's eyebrows rose.

Rodney nodded as he took a bite of his bread. "Yes, they seem to be the same people who created the nano-virus, so I'd like to know as much about them as we can--without meeting them."

"Geez, can't anyone in this galaxy not want to kill us?" Ford groaned.

"Apparently not. Aside from the Athosians." John nodded to Teyla, who inclined her head graciously.

"At least it's only one threat, not two," Rodney sighed.

"True." Though John wasn't certain that he found the idea of a single enemy who bombed entire villages out of existence and engineered one hundred percent fatal nano-viruses to be particularly comforting.

"The bad thing is that they're still around 10,000 years after the Ancients left."

"Yeah, well, that seems to apply to everyone in this damn galaxy. They may lose some technology, but everyone's still here, right down to the Genii."

"Aren't we lucky," Ford muttered.

"Not arguing that fact here." Rodney rubbed his forearm as he spoke.

John caught Rodney's hand and drew it over to him so he could kiss the fading scars. John's jaw clenched, and he had to force himself not to grip the arm too tightly. "I'm glad I shot him. I just wish I was sure he was dead. I want to know he'll never hurt you again." Having to adjust his aim to ensure that he didn't hurt Elizabeth had made the kill shot uncertain. "If not, someday I'll find him and do it right."

"We will find him," Teyla said quietly.

"John..." Rodney paused, because saying he didn't need protection was stupid. "I want to be there if that happens."

This time John couldn't restrain the convulsive clenching of his fingers on Rodney's arm, but it was only for an instant. "If possible," he said almost expressionlessly, but the anguished hazel eyes he raised to Rodney's face more than made up for it.

"We've got your back, sir," Aiden said quietly.

Teyla nodded. "This is what a team does, is it not?"

Rodney managed a half-smile. "Besides, I want Rover to help."

John smiled ferally. "I think I could enjoy that."

"Remind me not to get on Dr. McKay's bad side any time soon," Ford muttered to Teyla.

John eyed the young lieutenant curiously, a faint smile curving the corners of his mouth. "Were you planning to?"

"No way, sir!"

Rodney finished his fruit and nodded. "So, all it takes to strike terror into you military types is a cart; I'll remember that."

"Rodney, Rover leaves bruises. You strike fear into the hearts of all." John punctuated his statement with a grimace after taking a mouthful of cooling ersatz coffee.

"But why, Major, I'm so lovable," he snorted in response, making Ford choke on his juice.

"Breathe, lieutenant," John said, slapping him on the back. "Eat your breakfast, Rodney, so we can go talk to Elizabeth."

Teyla shook her head at the men's antics.

"Yes, bad news always goes over better on a full stomach."

"And it keeps you from fainting," John said helpfully.

"Watch that cart, sir," Ford laughed, when Rover pushed its way under the table. "You know, it needs a name..."

"It has a name already!" Rodney said quickly.

"Something like a Flying Utility Cart."

Pushing back slightly so Rover could get past him to settle at Rodney's feet, John groaned. "Ford, didn't we already discuss the fact that you are never to name anything?" John shook his head. "We're military; we use acronyms. And I'm not calling anything a FUC!" Seeing Ford's expression, he snickered. "His name is Rover, and I think he likes it." Listening to himself, John sighed. "And who ever thought that they'd be in a situation where that actually makes sense?"

Ford grumbled at being shot down once again, then sighed. "Just like a lot of things since we've come here, sir."

John nodded, resting his chin on his fist as he watched Rodney pat Rover absently. "Did it help prepare you, having been part of the SGC before coming here? I keep thinking I'm alone in my total culture shock since you all had some prior experience, but then I think how different this is, so I don't know."

"Oh sure, Wraith, Goa'uld, does it really matter if it's a snake in someone's head or a vampire with catfish whiskers trying to kill us? Though at least there we could get decent coffee," Rodney sighed.

Ford rolled his eyes at that answer. "It helped, sir, if only because we knew there were other worlds out there and other cultures that could help us." He smiled at Teyla at the last

"And here we're pretty much on our own." John shook his head. "I never imagined this."

"Well, the SCG didn't have me full-time, did they?" Rodney asked, still obviously stung by past events in his life. "But honestly, neither did I, even knowing it was probably a one-way trip, this..."

"Is pretty far out," Ford finished for him.

"But it definitely has its good side too."

Silently listening and learning a little more about these people who had become friends and trusted allies, Teyla relaxed a tiny bit. As she grew to know them better, she found more and more than they were not so very different from her own people, not in the ways that truly mattered. She smiled.

"What?" Rodney asked, seeing the expression. Teyla just shook her head, still smiling ever so faintly.

"Hey, if you're done, let's go find Elizabeth." John pushed his chair back but didn't get up yet not 'til Rodney actually moved.

Rodney sighed as he picked up his last piece of fruit and stood. "Off we go, spreading mirth throughout the Pegasus Galaxy." The last was said as some newcomers caught sight of them and burst into nervous laughter.

John glared. As he stood up, he paused and raised his voice. "Yes, we're here. I apologize for last night's accident. Now Dr. McKay and I are going to get back to doing our jobs."

The room fell quiet behind them as they walked toward the transporter and Rodney glanced over at John, his eyebrows raised. "Nicely done, Major."

"Well, ignoring it wasn't working."

"Sad but true." They entered the transporter, and Rover scooted in behind them, turning in place to face the doors.

"I wonder if he'd carry you if you sat on him," John mused, filing the idea away.

"Is this going back to your fixation for having sex on him while he's floating?" Rodney asked before the transporter engaged, depositing them near the command enter.

"Well, it wasn't, but now that you mention it..." John grinned.

Rodney glowered. "No, John; not now, not ever."

"We'll see. Later." John smiled sunnily.

"Elizabeth, we need to talk to you!" Rodney said almost desperately.

Looking from Rodney's almost panicky expression to John's smirk, Elizabeth chose not to ask. Instead she gestured them in and waited till they were seated. "What's happened now?"

"Nothing bad; well, nothing as bad as what happened last night or immediately bad – I hope." Rodney took a breath and tried again. "Radek found a connection between the mortar fragments we found and the nano-virus."

Elizabeth froze. "They're still alive and active," she breathed, her mind racing. "Dear God."

"Yeah, that's pretty much the size of it," John nodded. "I want to take my team back to the Reydian planet and see if we can find anything else. With back up, of course."

"Yes, of course, we need to find out as much as possible about who they are."

"Which is why I want to bring a full science team as well," Rodney put in.

Elizabeth frowned. "I see your point, but if the aliens were to return and attack again, the loss to Atlantis would be incalculable."

"Not to mention to ourselves," John muttered. "Look, it's been over a year since the attack, and the likelihood of the aliens coming back today is negligible. And we'll have a full complement of marines protecting our geeks. But we need their expertise, or this is pointless."

"Come on, Elizabeth," Rodney wheedled. "There could be something there that could tell us where this race is from. I don't want to go back, but we have to, and you know it."

Elizabeth was still hesitating, so John added, "Do you really think I'd risk everyone's lives, especially Rodney's, if I didn't think it was necessary?"

It was the first time John had tacitly acknowledged his feelings for Rodney, and Elizabeth had to look away from the mingled fear, pride and determination in his hazel gaze. "Of course not," she said softly. "You have a go."

END