part 4 of Alpha Centauri
contains spoilers for "Conversion"
Best read after parts 1-3, Contract, Contraband, and Conscience
Prime (Alpha Centauri 4)
Because he was a good person, John Sheppard’s first job after getting sprung from the hospital was to straighten out that whole disturbing mess with Teyla. Because he was at least a fair-to-middling commander, his second trip was through his office to read as many of Caldwell’s memos as he could get through before the boredom set in. He almost didn’t get out of the office that day, since Elizabeth cornered him and vented a kind of disturbing amount of anger about Caldwell. “Well, I’ll look everything over and make some decisions,” Sheppard said diplomatically. He’d hoped to be able to just rubber-stamp everything – it wasn’t like Caldwell was some kind of moron, after all – but given Elizabeth’s mood, he thought he’d better look as if he were in charge, here. Or more to the point, like he was at least as interested in being in charge, here, as he was in fucking off to find his boyfriend and get his brains screwed out.
Two weeks in bed was a pretty bad deal when you spent most of it celibate and partially chitinous.
Which brought John to his third job.
It would have been easier to accomplish if Rodney had been answering his damn headset. That was normal when he was working in the closed labs, but not only was he not down in them, none of his staff had seen him for at least an hour, which was great news for the staff, but bad news for John. He must have looked as irritated as he felt, because two different people came up to him surreptitiously and advised him to try the south-10 control corridor, where engineering had been doing upgrades for the past two days. Rodney did love to go check up on other people’s work, particularly Zelenka’s.
He wasn’t there, though, and by that time John had walked all the way down to the 10 block, and although John had all the faith in the world in his miraculous powers of recovery, his system was a little depressed from all the lying around and...debugging. He had to sit down on the suspension bridge and catch his breath, and Rodney still didn’t have his goddamn headset on. John closed his eyes and fantasized: Rodney comes around the corner, sees him sitting there, starts giving him hell for doing too much too soon, takes him by the hands to pull him up, and then John kisses him, not too hard, not a fuck-me-now kiss, but deep, until Rodney’s knees buckle and he lets himself be pushed up against that complicated-looking piece of equipment there, and John says....
Fuck, you know, the thing was that John never knew quite what to say to Rodney, but more and more lately he’d felt like he should say something, like they were at that point in their relationship where...something needed to be said. Did you miss me as much as I missed you? or Hey, we’re good together, don’t you think? – no, not that last one, that was awful.
Anyway, the important part was that Rodney was gonna have to bring his ass down here to the south-10 and give John a hand up, because he was kind of stuck sitting where he was, and that was pathetic.
Someone eventually did come by and offer him a hand, but it was only some kid John had never met from engineering. “Thanks,” John said once he was on his feet. “I just came down looking for Dr. McKay, and I got a little light-headed.”
“You missed him,” the engineer said, already paying more attention to his data-pad than to John. “I think I saw him taking the transporter down, though, so I’d probably check at floor-level. There’s not much between here and there that would be interesting.”
Feeling oddly disappointed that Rodney hadn’t magically known to come looking for John, he almost decided to forget the whole thing and see if they’d let him into the mess hall a few minutes early, seeing as how he was a heroically wounded officer and all that. He sighed to himself as he swiped his hand across the down panel on the transporter; maybe the thing he was looking for to say to Rodney could be Hi, I like you and I’m really pretty easy. No, it should probably involve something Rodney didn’t already know.
Rodney was on ground-level. John wasn’t entirely sure how he knew that, since he was stuck and pretty much invisible between the wall and Ronon, but John recognized him anyway. He had one hand up the back of Ronon’s sweater and the other cradling the back of Ronon’s neck and was making muffled, desperate noises into his mouth; Ronon was standing at a painful-looking angle, with his shoulders slouched and his neck bent low to put his mouth on a level with Rodney’s, and he had one hand braced on the wall and the other holding his thigh up against Ronon’s hip while he stood between Rodney’s legs and let Rodney squirm against him.
The interesting thing to John – well, the interesting thing to John’s brain was that it didn’t look like a one-off kind of thing. They were kissing slowly, tangled up together like they had nowhere in the galaxy to go and were just enjoying the ride. Rodney’s hand kept moving up and down Ronon’s back lazily, as if he were petting him. In spite of the awkwardness of his angle, Ronon seemed to have settled into it and he wasn’t shifting around trying to find a better one. They looked like they were all set to stay like this for a long time, and what that said to John was that they’d been doing this long enough to get used to it.
Ronon broke off and said something, too low for John to make out – that boy could really stand to learn how to enunciate – and Rodney said, “We would probably miss dinner....”
“Order Chinese,” John said. He surprised himself with the evil little thrill it gave him to see them jump like that. “That’s what I always used to do when I was trying to skip the dating parts and stay home all night fucking. Oh, hey, wait. Nobody good delivers out here....”
“John!” Rodney gasped. “What are you – I didn’t know you – “
“Doc said yesterday he didn’t know how long it would be,” Ronon said, sounding neither reproachful nor startled. Just filling in with some sense on Rodney’s behalf, since Rodney was still stammering helplessly.
“Well, I got healthy enough to be a real pain in the ass for the infirmary, so they gave me my walking papers.” Ronon had moved aside, but not a lot; he’d put one arm around Rodney’s waist almost protectively and was standing at a ninety-degree angle to him, their shoulders together, so that when John stepped up into Rodney’s space he was butted up against Ronon’s chest as well. John ignored that for the moment and fingered the collar of Rodney’s shirt while he brushed a soft kiss over Rodney’s mouth. “‘Hey, Colonel,’” he prompted, “‘it’s great to see you up and around and so incredibly handsome again.’”
“Oh,” Rodney said stupidly, and then he put a hand behind John’s head and said, “John,” and the way his voice cracked made up for a lot of intellectually substandard bantering in John’s book. John kissed him again.
Rodney was still breathing raggedly when he moved his mouth away, but his voice sounded respectably authoritative as he said, “We are absolutely not going to have a threesome in the transporter bay.”
John grinned against the side of his face, flicking his eyes in Ronon’s direction. “I didn’t know we were going to have a threesome at all.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, of course that’s what you were about to ask for. I know you.”
“Hi, Ronon,” he said.
“Colonel. How’s your arm?”
“Mammalian. You were kinda making time with my boyfriend while I was laid up, weren’t you?”
Ronon tilted his head, one degree cooler than a shrug. “He looked lonely.”
He meant to be clever a little more, but something about Ronon’s eyes stopped him – or something about looking into Ronon’s eyes, suddenly being so close to him again. It was weird, and probably didn’t reflect too well on John, but he hadn’t been thinking much about Ronon these past couple of weeks. John was pretty sure he’d been on Ronon’s mind. He slid his hand over Ronon’s chest and said, “Thanks for taking care of him for me, then. Always know I can count on you.”
“Yes,” Ronon said seriously. “Always.”
Rodney pressed a hard kiss to John’s temple and left his mouth pressed there against John’s skin as he said, “God, the two of you and your manly understatement. Fine, I’ll be the one to say it out loud, all right? We should have sex together. The two of you should have sex with each other and you should both absolutely have sex with me, and this should happen tonight, preferably right after dinner.”
“We could eat in your room,” Ronon said hopefully.
“Much as I appreciate your faith in me, my food supply is not endless, and I would like to start saving some of it for actual emergencies.”
Ronon made a soft, disappointed noise and leaned in toward Rodney’s ear. “I like it when your mouth tastes like grape soda,” he rumbled, and John had to practically hold Rodney up against the wall.
This was going to be the best welcome-back party anyone had ever thrown for him.
They had the transporter ride to plan a strategy; Rodney went ahead to his quarters to scare up some of his emergency food, John ran by his place for a six-pack and some extra lube, and Ronon went on a mission to the mess hall, because John knew a lot of unscrupulous bastards in Atlantis, but none who ever seemed able to make it past the MPs with as much stolen food in their pockets as Ronon Dex.
“How are we going to do this?” Ronon asked as he slathered butter – the pats had melted to the perfect consistency in the pockets of Ronon’s coat – on his half-ear of corn. He and John both reached for the same can of beer, and John had to deploy his very best but I’m still so fragile from my near-death experience look. Ronon narrowed his eyes doubtfully. John switched to his unhand that beer, soldier look, and Ronon huffed unhappily and leaned back in his chair.
“So things haven’t changed much while I’ve been out of commission, huh?” John said, and pitched another can across the table for Ronon to catch.
Ronon shrugged as he eased it carefully open. “Thought maybe you didn’t want me drinking.”
“Why’d you think I brought it over?”
Ronon finished swallowing his beer and said, “I can stay hard longer if I haven’t been drinking.” Rodney plucked the can out of his hand and slid it back across the table toward John.
“All right,” John said, throwing a wry look in Rodney’s direction, “that’s one vote for how we’re doing this.”
“It’s up to you,” Rodney said, and touched his knee lightly under the table. John smiled at him, and he suddenly looked embarrassed and fascinated by his Jell-O. “We should have a rule,” he said. “The last person to practically die in a massively unpleasant way gets to pick his favorite position.”
“We?” John repeated. Rodney stopped eating, but kept his eyes intently on the Jell-O cup.
After a silence, Ronon stood up, saying, “Look, this isn’t right. Ask me again some other time.”
“Where are you going?” John said.
Ronon picked his coat off the back of his chair. “You two should be alone tonight.”
John looked toward Rodney for some idea how to go forward. Rodney was watching Ronon go with kind of an awful look on his face, but he didn’t seem about to say anything. John caught his eye and jerked his head toward Ronon. “Go get him,” he hissed when Rodney kept hesitating. After another second of apparently trying to decide if John was serious or not, he jumped up and rushed to catch Ronon before he opened the door.
John kicked his feet up on Ronon’s empty chair and watched them, holding their heads close together in low conversation. Rodney had his hand on Ronon’s arm and Ronon’s other hand kept twitching up nervously to twist one of his dreds behind his ear. John grinned into his beer; when he wasn’t being crazy samurai-Terminator guy, Ronon was kind of a fifteen-year-old girl. It was cute.
It occurred to him a little belatedly that with him, Ronon was crazy samurai-Terminator guy, and he was kind of cute...with Rodney. Interesting.
He started to watch a little more carefully then. Rodney talked up at him intently. Ronon nodded a few times, his hands stirring his coat restlessly as if he didn’t know what to do with them. Both of them glanced over at John at odd intervals, and he tried to look easygoing and nonthreatening. Ronon finally nodded decisively and clapped his hand on Rodney’s shoulder; Rodney picked it up, kissed the joint of his thumb, and started back to the table with Ronon following along behind.
“I dearly hope that’s the one and only freak-out we’ll be having tonight,” Rodney said. John held up his beer to share with him, and Rodney looked at him like he was criminally insane. Right, Canadian.
“I wasn’t freaking out,” Ronon said. “I was trying to do the right thing.”
“Ronon, don’t worry about it,” John said, looking at Rodney as he said it. “You’re not going to split us up. Right?”
Rodney’s smile started slowly, but was idiotic and adorable within moments. He put his fingers in John’s hair, ignoring his protesting noises, and tipped his face up to kiss him. “Oh, stop it,” he said when the kiss was over. “You’ve been lying down for two weeks, it’s a mess anyway.”
John stroked the inside of Rodney’s wrist with his thumb and said, “Let me watch him fuck you.” Rodney nodded, wide-eyed, and they both looked over at Ronon, who was taking off his coat again, and then his sweater – signaling, in John’s opinion, that the dinner portions of the date were officially over.
That fatigue that he’d been fighting off in the 10 block hit him again the second John laid down on the bed, and he truly began to appreciate the brilliance of his own plan. Sex – not to knock the regular version in any way, but sex that didn’t involve any effort at all on your part was turning out to kick ass.
Ronon was out of his clothes before he made it to the bed. John had never actually seen him naked before, and the experience was somewhat bittersweet; John could do crunches for ten hours a day and he wouldn’t be ripped like that, but on the other hand, the big reason to get ripped like that was so you could get laid, and that hadn’t been a big problem in John’s life lately and didn’t look like it was going to start. In fact, if you could get laid by someone who was ripped like that without going to all the trouble of getting that way yourself, what was the down-side there?
He sat on the edge of the bed, angled slightly so that his back wasn’t entirely to John. Rodney stood between his legs and smiled almost shyly down at him, resting his hands on Ronon’s shoulders with one finger stroking lightly over Ronon’s tattoo. “I don’t know if there’s room for three people in this bed,” Rodney said. “It’s not all that comfortable for two.”
“We can be friendly,” Ronon said, beginning to strip Rodney’s clothes off of him. “I’m friendly.”
“I’ve been called many things in my life....”
“You’re friendly, too,” Ronon rumbled. “You’re very friendly.”
“Yes, well, you’re– “ Rodney began, but the conversation was cut short when he put his hand to Ronon’s cheek and Ronon yanked him down by the arms into a passionate kiss. Rodney slid his hands into Ronan’s hair and let Ronon finish unfastening his pants and pushing them down so Rodney could step out of them.
John slid as far as he could to the side of the bed so that Ronon could lie down with Rodney on top of him, the two of them still kissing desperately. “I think we have this backwards,” Ronon said when he got a breath.
“This works for me.”
“See, there you go, being friendly again.” They were smiling broadly at each other, the tips of their noses brushing, their hands roaming lazily up and down each other’s sides. John had never seen any sign of this between them before; maybe he’d missed a lot these past couple of weeks. “I’m going to move you,” Ronon warned. “Trust me.” Rodney nodded.
Ronon pushed them both up and rearranged them carefully so that they were both on their sides, Ronon spooned against Rodney’s back. By rolling up to his side, John could keep from losing his spot on the bed entirely, and he wound up nose-to-nose with Rodney. “Hi, there,” he said. “Remember me?”
“I haven’t forgotten you,” Rodney protested. John propped himself up on his hand so that he could get a better view of Ronon as he lubed his fingers and pushed Rodney’s leg forward. Rodney draped it across John’s legs and caught his breath as Ronon’s fingers began to disappear inside him. His lips were parted like he was just waiting to be kissed, so John kissed him. Rodney brought a hand up to tug affectionately on John’s hair, and when the kiss broke off he smiled and said, “You can’t be patient for two minutes?”
This, John was sure, was where he should say that thing that he should say. While he was still desperately hoping it would spring to mind, Rodney gasped and grabbed onto John’s arm like a vise. John’s eyes flicked upward, and there was Ronon, pressed up against Rodney’s back with his lips in Rodney’s hair and his hand smoothing up Rodney’s thigh to his hip. Ronon caught John’s look and smiled, his mouth hidden but his eyes crinkling up in pleasure, and it was weird to feel the rhythm of Ronon’s slow, deliberate fucking through the rocking of Rodney’s body against his. John kissed him again, making him whimper, but not driving him enough out of his mind to prevent him from starting to unbutton John’s shirt for him.
Ronon’s hand slid around the front of Rodney’s hips and his fingers settled loosely around the base of Rodney’s cock, then slid back to fondle his balls. “Sheppard,” he said, his voice steady if a little bit hoarse, “you like to suck?” Rodney whined low in his throat and pulled the last few buttons of John’s shirt roughly open.
“I like it okay,” John said, as casually as he could manage it. “Rodney, you up for that?”
“John, how smart am I?”
“Very, very smart.”
“And how stupid would a person have to be to turn that offer down?”
“Much stupider than you,” John assured him, and began kissing his way from Rodney’s collarbone down toward his cock.
Totally weird, to feel Rodney getting fucked through the nudge of his hips against John’s fist and the head of his cock against the roof of John’s mouth. He could feel Rodney’s body quivering helplessly, unable to moderate between the two different kinds of sensation racing through his body. For a second John almost felt sorry for him; the not terribly latent control-freak in Rodney must be going insane from this, with John and Ronon holding all the power, taking him only as far and as fast as they wanted him to go.
And then on the other hand, really not sorry for him at all.
Rodney’s groans of pleasure began to resolve themselves into pleading, a rough, repetitive, “Please, please, please, yes, please, more, now,” where each word synched up naturally with the steady rhythm Ronon was setting. John slid his hand over the inside of Rodney’s solid thigh and swirled his tongue around the crown of Rodney’s cock, trying to fly casual so it would be like an accident, sort of, when his fingers came brushing up against the sensitive ridge of skin where Ronon’s cock was rubbing in and out of Rodney’s ass. He’d never felt that before, that odd sense of two bodies being joined and yet still totally separate, moving against each other for the perfect friction that you could never get with your own fingers, that only someone else could really make work for you. It was obviously working for Rodney.
Rodney went tense for just a second, and then screwed himself back hard on Ronon’s dick while he grabbed for John’s shoulder and said, “This is absolutely no time to play around, will you just suck already?” So John did, although he left his free hand lingering somewhere around Rodney’s balls, where he could feel the vibrations in his fingertips.
After Rodney came in his mouth, John rolled over on his back; his legs were sprawled off the foot of the bed – did the Ancients never get any play or what? What was with these beds in Atlantis? – and his dick was becoming uncomfortably hard inside his khakis. He shook the shirt that had been hanging tenaciously off of his wrists loose and tipped his head back to grin, upside down, at Rodney, who still looked like he had a few circuits blown. “Now, you see, I’m not sure this fulfills the letter of my request. I could hardly see anything.”
“I didn’t know we were putting on a show,” Ronon said, his voice muffled against Rodney’s neck. From the tense, trembling way he was holding himself against Rodney’s back, John was pretty sure he was keeping himself on pause for round two, and that thought alone was unbearably hot.
“Oh, yes, it’s all about Colonel Sheppard, hadn’t you heard?” Rodney said. There was just no excuse for being able to summon that snide tone of voice when you were still all sweaty and dazed-looking from getting sucked and fucked simultaneously. Rodney’s snippiness was basically a force of nature now.
Ronon shifted so that he was leaning up over Rodney’s ear, and something about the change of angle shook a noise out of Rodney that was indeterminately pleased and pained. “I’ve never fucked Sheppard,” he said, a hypnotic lilt to his voice that was almost a purr. “Only you.”
“It’s not all about me?” John said. “And here I thought you guys had remembered my birthday....”
“It’s not your birthday,” Rodney said.
“You don’t know. It might be.”
“Eleven-five-sixty-seven. Adds up to 83. All prime.”
“Awww,” he said, and he meant it. He’d be willing to bet a thousand bucks that Rodney was not the sort of guy who was usually very keen with sentimental dates; in fact, he’d throw in another twenty if Rodney hadn’t lost at least one girlfriend because of it. “Now, what was I wearing the first time we met?”
“Oh, shut up and change places with me.”
It was a little bit harder than John would have liked to drag himself back up the bed, and then there was a logistical situation when they couldn’t seem to get back to a position where all three of them would fit on the bed, at least not while John and Rodney were both trying to get John’s pants off. “Oh, to hell with this,” Rodney finally snapped, and got off the bed. “What kind of boring sex life the Ancients had I don’t know, but I refuse to throw my back out because of it.”
“I was just thinking that,” John said. “Well, not the part about my back.”
“I’ve got him,” Ronon said, and he seemed to mean that entirely literally, since he slipped his arms around John’s body and pulled him physically onto his knees and elbows, adjusting his hands down to John’s arms and nudging behind him with his hard-on. It was still a little slick, but John was grateful when Ronon anticipated his request and cracked the bottle of lube open again.
“Okay, just in case you need it, here we go,” John said. “You are going to fuck me hard. I like hard, hard is not a problem for me at all. I’m probably going to make a lot of noise, and you are not going to keep stopping and asking me if I’m all right, because I really hate that. Trust me, I’m fine. You’re just going to keep going – hard, did I mention that part? – until I come. So it’s really just that simple – oh, shit.” Ronon went in with two fingers at once, making John’s body surge forward without his approval, and he turned to glare at Rodney, who was fucking laughing at him.
“Please, it was hysterical,” Rodney said. He’d put his pants on and dragged a chair over to the side of the bed like he was tailgating at a football game. “The great John Sheppard, a lover and a fighter, begging for mercy before the finger-fucking is even over?”
“Startled me, that’s all. And excuse me, are you planning to get some journal articles read or something? This is still a threesome; why are you putting your clothes back on?”
“In case someone wants to sit in this chair, ever again?” Rodney looked a little disturbed that John might not have found that obvious. He wondered if Rodney would start bringing his own chair along to John’s place now; never know where John’s have been, after all.
The great thing about Ronon was that he liked to do what John asked him to do and he also liked to show John up, so when John said fuck me hard, Ronon didn’t play around. John could feel it everywhere, under his fingernails, in his elbows where they dig into Rodney’s prescription mattress, in his fucking eyelashes, a fresh wave of oh, fucking God, good with every thrust and drag across his prostate, and of course Ronon could find his prostate in two seconds flat, of course there was nothing physical that Ronon couldn’t do better than anyone else. That was extremely fucking annoying some of the time, but not right now.
His neck wouldn’t work to lift his head up, but John could look around his arm and get a pretty decent view of Rodney, who’d put one foot up on the frame of his bed and had his pants open and his hand inside. “Having...fun?” John managed.
“You look like you’re having enough fun for the both of us,” Rodney said, and John might have had something to say to that if he’d been able to manage more than two-word sentences.
The sweat was beginning to drip into his eyes, and he lowered his head to rub it away against the back of his wrist. Ronon shifted up, leaning over him to growl closer to his ear, “Don’t break.”
“Thought I...told you...don’t check on me.”
“Thought you told me not to stop,” Ronon said, and shoved in so hard that John almost choked on his own air supply.
Apparently that was what it took to make Rodney not care about possible irreparable spinal damage anymore. He pretty much fit on the bed, with some creative overlapping so that one of John’s arms was braced on the other side of him, almost sheltering Rodney with his bent, straining body. Rodney touched his cheek and said, “You’re so obscene. Don’t they kick you out of the Army just for being you, isn’t it against some kind of rule?”
“Whatever.” Rodney pulled his face down, and in spite of the fact that there was little enough oxygen getting to John’s brain as it was he gave in to the kiss, because it was pretty much a given at this point that his death options were gruesome-Wraith-related-disaster or blissful-orgasm-related-stroke-out.
Not that it needed to be said, but orgasm-related-stroke-out was way ahead in the polls.
He didn’t think his kissing technique was much to write home about by the time he could feel the hot-oil sizzle and burn of said orgasm catch inside his stomach and start to spread. He was just making noise into Rodney’s mouth at that point, wet, sloppy gasps and cries with Rodney’s tongue pushing back against his and Rodney’s fingertips digging bruises into his temple. Ronon hooked his arms around John’s thighs and dragged him back, destroying whatever semblance of balance John had had before and fucking him not in hard, dangerous slides now, but sharp, shattering jabs of his hips, the full length of his cock buried inside John and not going anywhere.
“Oh, God, God, John,” Rodney was gasping half-intelligibly, and the vibrations of his tongue in John’s mouth matched the hot trembling that had taken over John’s body. It was a good thing John wasn’t the control-freak here, because even he had to admit that it was a weird feeling, wanting to explode out of your own skin like some kind of insane Japanese movie-monster from the sheer force of your pleasure but not being able to do more than squirm and lick Rodney’s mouth.
Rodney must really be nuts about him, John realized, because he let John collapse on top of him when Ronon let him fall, even though John’s chest and stomach were liberally wet with come and Rodney was normally completely freakish about anything gummy in texture on his skin. “The Army?” John said again, sounding as drunk and wrung-out as he felt.
“Excuse me. Sometimes I get my vast array of sexy, dark-haired, uniformed lovers confused.”
“You like blondes.”
“I’m growing more versatile. It’s true what they say: travel is a broadening experience.”
It was easy to feel the change as Ronon got off the bed. John rolled gratefully into the empty space, because he really did not have enough room to melt into the wide puddle of useless skin and nerves that he wanted to be right now. “It’s good you’re okay,” Ronon said, slithering into those leather pants much more comfortably and easily than anyone had a right to slither into leather.
“If you’re taking off already,” John said, “do you think you could say something that makes it look a little less like you’re just the kind of guy who fucks and runs?”
“I thought I just did.” Ronon quirked his eyebrow and added, “Are you giving me that look because you think I’m being impolite, or because you’re jealous that I can walk right now?”
“Hey, buddy, I could walk,” John flat-out lied. “I could walk if there was somewhere I needed to go, but I’m fine right here, thanks.”
“Oh, my God,” Rodney muttered, brushing at his chest. “This is disgusting.”
“Don’t go,” John said, and it came out sounding irritable and high-handed, which wasn’t what he intended. It came out sounding like some kind of fucking order.
Ronon hesitated, then continued dressing. “No room.”
A quick glance over at Rodney revealed not much help coming from that direction; Rodney was staring at the ceiling like he was in a soundproof booth with no idea there was even a conversation going on at all. Coward.
For a second he thought Ronon was in such a hurry that he’d leave without his shoes, but he was only walking into the bathroom. John heard the water running, and a moment later a wet cloth landed with a noisy slap on Rodney’s stomach. He yipped in surprise, but once he realized what it was, he sent a look of pure gratitude up at Ronon and started cleaning himself up. Ronon had his shoes on by the time Rodney handed the washcloth off to John.
“A kiss goodnight is customary among Earth people,” Rodney said dryly as Ronon turned in the direction of the door.
Ronon didn’t seem terrifically keen on that idea, but he did turn around slowly and walk back to the bed. He leaned all the way across Rodney first and kissed John with amazing sweetness for a guy who fucked so ruthlessly dirty, his dreds all over John’s skin like vines. Then he backed off and started to kiss Rodney. He hesitated with his mouth just two or three inches above Rodney’s, until Rodney lifted his head himself to close the gap. Ronon put his hand behind Rodney’s head to support it, and Rodney slid both his hands into Ronon’s hair and kissed back like it was a direct continuation of the long, luxurious kiss John had interrupted earlier that evening.
When he started to move away, Rodney grabbed his arm and held it tightly, fixing him with a pissed-off look that made Ronon smile rather than duck for cover. “We talked about this,” Ronon reminded him, disentangling himself and lowering Rodney carefully back to the bed.
“I don’t recall coming to an agreement on the subject.”
“We don’t really need to agree.”
“You are the most obstinate bastard I ever met.”
“No. So if you had any sense, you’d agree with me now and save us some time.”
“Except you’re wrong.”
“I can count the number of times I’ve been wrong– “
“This isn’t physics, McKay.”
“Believe me, I know! If this were anything that made the slightest bit of rational goddamned sense....” Rodney subsided into wounded frustration, as if the presence of uncertainty in the universe were a personal slight delivered by an irresponsible God who would be getting an earful from Rodney McKay in the hereafter.
“I know,” Ronon said gently, with a strange little smile hovering around his mouth. “It got complicated.”
“Dex. Don’t go. Not like this.”
Ronon touched Rodney’s lips with one finger. “No room.” He looked over at John then and crossed his wrists over his chest and lowered his head slightly – some kind of salute, John guessed – and walked away.
“Goddamit!” Rodney barked at the closed door behind him. “What is wrong with you military men? You’ve never heard of problem-solving, it’s all just advance, retreat, screw it or shoot it? It’s the twenty-first century, dammit, we should have one or two slightly more sophisticated tools at our disposal to– “
“Rodney. Did you just get dumped?”
Rodney flung his arm over his eyes. “I suppose that’s one particularly negative interpretation.”
“Oh, okay,” John said. He wasn’t sure what would happen if he slipped his arm underneath Rodney, but it worked out the usual way, with Rodney rolling over when coaxed and half draping himself across John. “Why don’t you spin it another way for me, Mr. Positivity?”
“That’s Dr. Positivity to you,” Rodney grumbled, his hand straying across John’s chest. “I suppose if I were in your position, I might take note of the fact that I’ve apparently been delivered to your doorstep with a bright red bow tied around my dick. It must be Christmas on Citida.”
“That bothers you.”
“What, being passed around like – like one of those tins of popcorn, with the adorable pictures of children and sleighs painted on– “
“People thinking we’re a couple.”
Rodney hummed indecisively in his ear and busied himself rolling John’s nipple between his fingers. “It’s...of concern, let’s just say. For your sake more than for mine.”
“Rodney, I keep telling you, I’m not going to get fired. Nobody else wants my crappy job.” He kissed Rodney’s hair lightly and added, “Of course, what do I know? I didn’t think anyone else wanted my asshole boyfriend, either.”
Rodney elbowed him hard, which John took without complaint; some jokes were too perfect to pass up, even knowing that you’d bear the brunt of righteous revenge for them. “He likes you, too, you know.”
“He shot me. Twice.”
“I’m fairly certain that’s how he expresses affection.” Since John was fairly certain about that, too, he didn’t have anything to add. “Do you want to take a shower?”
“I’m not going to make it to the shower,” John admitted. “I feel pretty....”
Immediately, Rodney was up on one elbow. “What? Do you hurt anywhere? Your arm?”
“Pretty beat. Just tired, Rodney, relax. Tired is actually a good sign; I didn’t feel tired at all when I was....” John made a vague gesture with his fingers at the level of his forehead, meant to suggest antennae.
“You were not a bug. I wish people would stop saying that.”
“I was producing their pheremones.”
“I know, and can I tell you how amusing I find that, in retrospect? You are alive today because of your overwhelming sex appeal.”
“Yeah, I was quite the stud there for a while, if you’re a hideous vampire cockroach from outer space.”
Rodney kissed his cheek. “Now you’re just trying to make me jealous.”
They spent a minute squirming around in each other’s arms, trying to bunch some of the sheets up in the wet spot John had left on the bed. Rodney bitched about it under his breath, but as long as he wasn’t going to insist that John get up so he could change the bedclothes, he could bitch. They settled with Rodney spooned against John’s back, and Rodney leaned over to kiss the corner of John’s lips and run his thumb over the stubble on his jaw. “By the way,” he said softly, “in case you haven’t caught on yet, I love you.”
“Dammit,” John mumbled, almost too far gone toward sleep to force his mouth to move at all. “Can’t believe you came up with the right thing to say before I did....”
The last thing he thought before he fell asleep against Rodney’s warm chest was that he didn’t care so much that he’d gotten Rodney like a tin of popcorn, or that his options for future hot three-way action were looking limited at this point, and he didn’t even care that much that giving Rodney up seemed like a lot bigger deal to Ronon than giving up John, but he did kind of care about...
It would have been better – easier, somehow – if Ronon just hadn’t saluted when he did it.