"Let's just get back."
Sheppard sounded tense and McKay's eyes narrowed as they followed him out of the empty place of ascension. Someone wouldn't be feeling defensive would he? He grinned. Good.
"Six months," Sheppard growled, stalking up close to McKay as he headed for the labs, about three hours later, "Didn't take as long as 'a full goddamn medical' with that damned --" he paused, took in McKay's expression and drew a deep breath. "Which was not what I meant to say."
"No?" McKay folded his arms and waited, skepticism in every angle of his face and body.
The colonel swallowed. "Rodney--" His face looked pained, and McKay looked away. He didn't want to feel bad. He'd spent seventeen hours afraid that his calculations were wrong, afraid that his worst nightmare -- an aged, decrepit lover, doomed by his own inaction -- was waiting on the other side of the time field. Only it wouldn't be Wraith; it would be because he hadn't moved fast enough, couldn't figure it out fast enough, didn't think fast enough, couldn't talk, explain, convince. Couldn't make them move, god they had to move, faster, faster, please....
His jaw ached and he let the muscles ease off. John was fine. He chanced a quick look and he was still there, face tight with anxiety. Still looking the way he always had. Well. Except for the beard.
His hand was halfway to touching it before he remembered where they were, and that he had been waiting for an answer about the latest Chaya-wannabe. That he was trying to --
John's hand wrapped around his. "I missed you," he said. His hand tightened painfully on Rodney's. "Six months, and I didn't know what -- I thought you had to be dead; you'd never leave me if you could. None of you would." But there was a rise in his voice as though it was no longer an article of faith, but another uncertain, falsifiable conclusion drawn from inadequate evidence.
"I came as fast as I could." It was the only thing left, and he couldn't believe it was enough to clear John's expression. He hadn't been fast enough, hadn't looked at the amount of footage that the video camera had taken -- if he'd only done that he'd have known better than to let him touch it. "John, I'm sorry." I fucked up again.
"You came." John nodded, and something that had felt shaky and dangerously off key in him settled.
"Yes." He finished moving his hand, laid it over John's bearded jaw.
John moved just a little, far enough to press his lips into Rodney's palm, and said roughly, "I missed you."
"Seventeen hours was bad enough," he said back, "Six months..." He hesitated. "Did you really--"
John pulled a face. "Yes." He looked like he was braced against something, but all McKay could see was Gall's newly-old face, and the shadow of John's own; white bearded, hollowed with premature years, and he really doesn't care.
"Don't do that again."
He wrapped his arms around John's waist, pulled him in tight. He felt real; solid. Not frail and desiccated, not too light and fragile to live, breath rattling through dry lungs and throat. Warm. He found himself holding on desperately tight, but John's arms were holding on just as strongly, one arm up across his back, hand almost to his shoulder, the other wrapped around almost to his hip, securing him in place. He buried a kiss into the hollow of his throat, against rough beard and firm skin, and then couldn't stop, pressing more kisses tumbling up blindly to his mouth. John's lips were moving over his jaw and then meeting his, moving against each other eagerly.
John's hand was in his hair, the other sliding up under his shirt, and he pulled back a little, gasping for breath, trying to shake out the haze from his mind. "Not, not here."
John stepped back, his eyes still on Rodney's mouth. "God," he muttered, but nodded, then looked around. The corridor was empty, and Rodney grinned at him, feeling light and a little giddy.
"I don't think anyone saw us," he said, "even if they saw us, they didn't see us."
"That's a hell of an assumption, McKay," John said, but he smiled slowly and Rodney smiled back.
"That's what a good scientist does," he said, his chin going up pretty much automatically. "Hypothesis: test; thesis." He leaned in for another kiss, and got it, long and luxurious, so sweet that he lost track of time, of everything except the feel of John's body sliding against his, the touch of his hands, the warmth of his breath, the taste of his mouth.
"We need to find a room, Rodney," John mumbled into his mouth, and he hummed agreement, then growled when John pulled away from him. He smiled at him ruefully. "After six months who'd think that I'd be the one with all the self control?" He breathed in deep, his breath audibly hitching when Rodney gripped his wrist, and started walking.
"Come on, come on, do I have to do everything?" he grumbled, but there was no heat in it and John just laughed under his breath.
It took forever to get to John's room, but the time passed more quickly for the touches. A hand in the small of his back, the brush of John's knuckles against his hand; the way they stood shoulder to shoulder in the transporter as though the thing had barely enough room for one full sized adult instead of being entirely capable of taking four or five people comfortably. They didn't talk. Rodney wasn't sure what would come out if he spoke, and he didn't want there to be any chance of this going wrong. Or worse, begging to fuck John, just as someone else walked around the corner.
Inside John's room he thought they'd start where they'd left off, but John moved away from him, staring around the room as though he'd not seen it -- not seen it in six months. Christ.
He leaned against his back, and held on. "John."
John was still for long seconds, and then he shuddered, and leaned back into Rodney, folding his hands over Rodney's. They didn't move at all. Rodney could feel himself uncoiling, tight wound muscles and hard held fears dissolving in the quiet. John sighed softly, and he pressed a kiss to the side of his neck.
"You okay?" There were a hundred other things clamoring for voice, but they could wait. Besides, John already knew most of them. John nodded.
"Getting there." He cleared his throat and turned in Rodney's arms, and touched his lips to Rodney's, once, then again, and again, and again, each time driving them deeper into each other. The shadows dwindled, all his fears slipping away, not proof against the bright reality of this room and the two of them.
The bed was hard under his back. Their hands were clumsy as they fought with unfamiliar clothes; John's smock and breeches nearly defeating them. John untangled himself and threw the clothes across the room with a certain amount of venom, would have glared at them but Rodney pulled him back down. They still fit together; John didn't taste different, he still touched Rodney like he couldn't stop, like the iron in his blood held him to Rodney, needle to lodestone.
He gasped into John's neck, pushing back; his thigh high between John's legs, the soft feel of his balls dragging against him. John was making little grunting chokes in time with Rodney's restless thrusts against him, and he started moving with more purpose, John's back wet under his hands, he clung tightly, the world narrowing even more, to just the places where they touched. The cold on his back didn't exist, only the lines where John's hands slid over his skin, only the sharp touch of his teeth along his collarbone, only the feel of his body pressed full length against his own, pushing and pushing, pressing harder and harder against each other until they met, held, shook, unable to move any more.
"So long," John whispered, and Rodney tensed. His lips brushed at the pulse point at the base of Rodney's throat, and he whispered into it, "Six months without..." and Rodney let it go. Held on.
"You're here now."
"Yeah." John doesn't sound convinced. He opens his eyes, looks straight into John's, sharing a pillow, sharing breath, sharing everything.
"I thought --" In memory he hears himself again: The most time efficient approach was to assume that he is alive but stranded. Time efficient. If Weir had known that it was more hope and desperate faith than any serious plan that made him so confident that they could retrieve him... Unacceptable, that they should abandon John. Faith, hope -- call it by its right name, he thought angrily.
"I was afraid." He closed his eyes. He didn't want to see the last of John's faith shatter. "I didn't know if -- I didn't move fast enough, I--"
John's finger was over his lips, cool against his skin.
"Rodney." There was a command in there, and he looked up, opened his eyes, and John wasn't smiling, it was better than a smile, serene and sure. "You came."
Summary: Tag scene (or two) for season 2 episode Epiphany. Originally written as a pinch hit for Auburnnothenna in the sga_santa gift fiction exchange.