Itís All Your Fault

Orithain and Rina

July 2007

Disclaimers: We only wish they were ours. Sadly, this is as close as weíre going to get.

Another new planet, another new race, and another new person seduced by Col. Sheppard. John sometimes wondered if it was worth the effort. He knew that the Marines bragged about their COís exploits, but there were mornings when he couldnít remember the name of the person whose bed he was sharing. Still, it was better than his own hand.

"You donít have to leave just yet, do you?" a sultry voice purred in his ear as a hand reached between his legs. "The sun wonít be up for another hour."

John rolled on top of the gorgeous brunette, smiling. "Oh, I think I can wait that long, Nalia."

"I am sure the colonel will join us shortly, Rodney," Teyla was saying patiently as John made his way out of the tent a while later.

"Whatís the rush?" John asked, smirking at his teammates.

"Some of us would like to finish this mission so that we can get back to civilization, Colonel," Rodney snapped, glancing up at the other man, then back at his coffee.

"McKayís been ready for hours," Ronon added, grinning.

"The sun hasnít even been up for hours. Since when are you an early riser, McKay?"

"Since I couldnít sleep anyway, so I thought I might as well get some work done." Rodney looked up again, then shook his head when the gorgeous native woman exited the tent as well to trail her fingers over Johnís back, gaining a distant smile from the colonel.

"Well, far be it for me to keep our chief scientist from his work. Letís get going, people." John stepped away from Naliaís touch, deftly avoiding the kiss she attempted to give him.

"Another team will be back in a day or two to finalize the treaty," he said to the village elder. "We look forward to trading with you."

Rodney glanced over at Teyla and Ronon, his jaw tight. "Is he saying that we stayed here overnight just so he could play Kirk?"

"I am sure the colonel had good reason for our stay," Teyla replied diplomatically.

"Itís called being friendly, Rodney," John added. "You should try it sometime."

"Thank you but you seem to do it well enough for the entire expedition."

"I donít think the word Ďfriendlyí is in McKayís vocabulary." Ronon grinned as he started to pack up the tent he and Teyla had shared.

"It would do wonders for your mood," John said, smirking at Rodney again as he made short work of the tent Rodney had had to himself the night before.

"I happen to like my mood just fine," Rodney grumbled as he poured his coffee out on the fire and walked over to his pack to stow the rest of his gear.

"Well, it does serve as a great secret weapon," John mused, hefting his pack onto his back.

"I hope you will visit us again, John," Nalia murmured, undeterred by his brush-off.

"Weíll see how it goes. I never know when or if Iíll get any free time," John replied evasively. "But Iím very appreciative of the hospitality you showed us, and I know my people will be as well."

Rodney glanced at Teyla and rolled his eyes. "He certainly has that line down pat."

"The colonel has his own brand of diplomacy."

John grinned crookedly. "I like making new friends."

"Iím just waiting for the day one of those friends shows up on our doorstep with a John Jr. at her side." As Rodney spoke, he closed his pack and hefted it onto his shoulders, groaning as his sore back twinged.

"Condoms," John said succinctly. "Whatís wrong with your back?"

"Considering the fact that I spent the night tossing and turning on the cold, hard ground, I canít imagine."

"Ah, nothing new then." Relieved, John turned his attention to making their farewells and extracting his team from the village. He was looking forward to getting back to Atlantis and a long, hot shower.

By the time they got back to Atlantis, got rid of their gear, and de-briefed with Elizabeth, Rodneyís back was spasming, and he winced as he walked out of her office.

"You should see Carson about that," John observed.

"Iím planning on it," Rodney said dryly. "Have a lovely day, Colonel."

"Okay, whatís your problem?" John asked, a little irritated. "Itís not like you donít get offers of your own."

"Oh yes, they all fall at my feet," Rodney snorted. "And my problem is my having to sleep outside, alone, in a tent on the freezing rocky ground so that you can get your rocks off, Colonel. Now if youíll excuse me, Iím going to go get a muscle relaxant from Carson and take a nap."

"Rodney, it was perfectly comfortable, not Antarctica." John shook his head. "Was I supposed to offend the Telarians?"

Rodney shook his head and winced when the motion pulled at his back again. "Never mind, forget I said anything." He started to walk away, muttering under his breath as he did so.

John hesitated before swearing and chasing after Rodney. "Look, what the hellís up with you? Itís not like Iím doing anything different."

"Nothing! My back hurts, and Iím tired, and Iímótired, Iím just tired."

John sighed. "Come on, you donít need pills; you need a massage." He caught hold of Rodneyís arm and steered him toward the transporter.

"Just where are youóColonel!" Rodney sputtered, stumbling as John pulled him along.

"Since apparently itís my fault that the ground mysteriously transformed under you, Iíll fix the problem." John sent the transporter to the living quarters and hauled Rodney toward his room.

"I will be perfectly fine if I get something from Carsonóoof!" The last was grunted out when John pushed him to the bed.

"Drugs arenít the best solution to every problem. Now take your shirt off." John looked around before picking up the lotion on the nightstand. "Not as good as massage oil, but itíll work."

"Colonel, I do not need you to give me a massage!" Rodney snapped, trying to scramble around and sit up but ending up curled up in a ball, trying to rub his back.

"Would you stop fighting me," John ordered in exasperation. "Iím trying to help you here." He caught hold of the hem of Rodneyís shirt and drew it upward.

"I donítóoh for godís sake," Rodney exclaimed as he found himself stripped from the waist up.

"You have got to be the most stubborn man in two galaxies."

"It serves me well."

"Yeah, well, cooperation will serve you better in this case."

"As if I could so anything else with you sitting on me!" Rodney gasped, squirming under Johnís weight.

"So lie still already and let me get on with it. I donít do this for just anyone, you know."

Rodneyís snort said exactly how much he believed that.

"Hey, I donít. I havenít given anyone a massage since I got to Antarctica."

"Uh-huhohhhh," The word turned into a groan as Johnís hands dug into the tight muscles in Rodneyís back.

"Did I mention Iím really good at it?" The smirk was audible in Johnís voice.

"If you stop, Iím going to have to kill you, and donít think I wonít," Rodney moaned.

"Now donít you feel like an idiot for trying to stop me?" John worked on a particularly tight knot until it finally relaxed and then moved on to the next problem area.

"Safer," Rodney muttered under his breath as he felt knots of tension he hadnít known heíd had relax.

Johnís hands stilled. "I thought we were friends?" he said, a faint undertone of hurt in his voice.

Rodney stiffened as he realized John had heard him and tried to look up and back at the other man. "We are. Right?"

"Then why would you think youíre not safe with me?"

"It was a stupid comment, Colonel; Iím obviously suffering from lack of sleep."

Johnís hands began to move again. "If you donít trust me, Rodney, I need to know it."

"Trust you? What in the hell are you talking about? Of course I trust you!"

Feeling Rodney starting to tense up again, John increased the pressure of his hands. "Okay, okay, no need to get upset about it. You have to admit that it might have sounded otherwise. But weíre good, right?"

"I didnít mean..." Rodney sighed and shook his head, trying to relax again. "Yes, weíre good."

"Good. Thatís... good." Shaking his head at the inanity of the conversation now, John shut up and concentrated on working the new knots out of Rodneyís back.

"Mmmhmm." Glad the talking was over, Rodney stretched out further beneath John, groaning and shifting slightly as he got more comfortable.

Grinning, John resettled himself and lost himself in the rhythm of his hands, working on Rodney without realizing that his own tension was draining away at the same time.

"Feels good," Rodney sighed, squirming again to push up against the strong pressure of Johnís hands.

"Told you so."

"Yes, yes, you were right." Rodney shifted again, this time more purposefully, making John inhale sharply and suddenly rise up onto his knees, breaking contact between them.

"Try to remember that," he said, hoping Rodney wouldnít notice the huskiness of his voice.

"Everyoneís entitled to it once in a while," Rodney murmured, frowning slightly as the pressure changed on his back.

"Ha. You know damn well Iím right more often than not. You just donít like to admit that anyone but you can have a good idea."

Rodney hrumpfed and squirmed again in response, and John gasped, his hips jerking as Rodney rubbed over his hardening cock.

"What? What happened?" Rodney asked, pushing up on his elbows and looking back over his shoulder at John.

"Nothing, just relax," John said, trying to push Rodney back down before he noticed the effect he was having on John.

"Are you all right?"

"Iím great. Could you lie down again? Itís hard to give a massage like this."

"Oh, sorry." Rodney was still frowning as he lay back down, and he gave himself a full body shake as he settled.

"Oh Jesus," John groaned, the shimmy weakening his knees and making him sink down against Rodney again.

"Whaóoh." Rodney went still as he felt Johnís erection pressing against him.

"Sorry," John rasped, pushing himself up again as his body throbbed.

"Nothing to apologize for," Rodney said quickly. "I should have held still." He pressed his lips together tightly to keep from saying anything else.

"I hope this isnít going to make you uncomfortable around me." Johnís hands tightened on Rodneyís shoulders.

Rodney twisted around again to stare up at John, his brow knitted in a frown. "Itís a physical reaction, Colonel."

"Good. Thatís good." John smiled crookedly, his fingers sliding down Rodneyís back, causing the other man to shiver and clear his throat.

"Yes, good."

"So relax," John suggested, working on Rodneyís lower back.

Rodney snorted out a half laugh and tried to do just that.

"Thatís it," John murmured, shifting back to work on Rodneyís ass through his clothes, making Rodney tense again.

"Sorry," he muttered before trying to relax again.

John stilled. "Do you want me to stop?"

"No!" The word escaped before Rodney could stop it.

John smiled crookedly. "Then lose the pants. This works better without fabric in the way."

"Loseó" Rodney froze and gave an audible swallow. "You need to get off of me to do that."

"Good point." John swung to the side, kneeling on the bed next to Rodney as he waited.

Moving carefully, Rodney sat up and pulled off his boots before standing, keeping his back to John as he undid his belt and pushed his pants down and off, managing to stay that way as he lay down again.

John hesitated for a moment before moving to straddle Rodney again. He coated his hands with more lotion and placed them on Rodneyís shoulders, slowly working downward.

Rodney bit his lower lip to keep from whimpering and squirming, and his shoulders hitched as he gasped for breath, wondering why heíd agreed to this insanity.

Johnís hands slid slower, curving over Rodneyís buttocks, and the colonel never noticed that heíd begun rocking almost imperceptibly against Rodney, but Rodney did, and he squirmed in response, rubbing his body against the bed.

"Rodney?" John caught his lower lip between his teeth, trying not to groan.

"Yes?" Rodneyís voice was rough.

"Do you want me to stop?" John asked again, this time with a very different meaning, and they both knew it.

Rodney knew he should say yes, and it was what he meant to say, but when he opened his mouth, all that came out was a breathy Ďnoí.

Johnís hands moved over Rodneyís ass, fingertips lightly gliding along the crease, and he leaned down to press a kiss to a shoulder blade. Rodney shivered, and he reached back to touch Johnís knee, frowning and growing somewhat embarrassed when he realized that he was still fully clothed.

Coming to the same realization, John squirmed atop Rodney, divesting himself of his clothes, and then he groaned as he slotted his erection between Rodneyís cheeks. He rocked against the scientist, his cock gliding easily along the lotion-slick crevice, and his hands moved over Rodneyís back again.

"Feels good," Rodney whispered, arching up beneath him and pushing up onto his elbows so that he could look back at John again, his blue eyes wide and wondering.

"Yeah," John rasped, staring back. He licked his lips nervously, then leaned forward very slowly, giving Rodney every chance to pull away, and kissed him. Rodney moaned and opened his mouth, his tongue sliding forward as he shifted his weight onto one arm to twist beneath John. John shifted between Rodneyís legs, lowering himself to lie on top of the other man, their cocks trapped between them as he rocked against Rodney.

"God, John," Rodney gasped, clutching at him.

John lowered his head, nibbling gently on Rodneyís lower lip until Rodney opened to him, letting his tongue slip inside while Johnís finger carefully pressed into Rodneyís ass, drawing a gasp from the other man. Rodney spread his legs wider, pulling back to gaze up at John, his expression full of trust. John stilled, looking down into Rodneyís eyes, and then he groaned, kissing him hard as he slipped another finger into Rodney.

Rodney tensed up but forced himself to relax as he squirmed under John and stroked his shoulders.

"Shh, relax," John murmured, slowly working his fingers inside Rodney.

"I am!" Rodney snapped before lunging up to kiss John again to stifle his whimpers.

John chuckled into the kiss, pushing his fingers deeper, making Rodney yelp and clutch at him when they brushed over his prostate. Seeing the reaction, John concentrated his attention on that spot, wanting Rodney more relaxed before he took him.

"John, oh god," Rodney moaned, rocking against Johnís hand and getting his own between them to stroke down Johnís chest to his cock.

"Right here, oh fuck yeah," John gasped, thrusting into Rodneyís hand.

"Canít believe it," Rodney murmured, smiling up at John, his whole body relaxing as he stared up at him.

"So good," John rasped, moving his hand to grasp Rodneyís hip and position himself, just nudging against Rodney.

Rodney nodded, biting his lower lip as he felt John breach him.

"God, youíre so tight," John groaned, his eyes falling half closed as he sank into Rodney.

"Tense man here, remember?"

"Doing my best to fix that." John managed a grin.

"So I noticed." Rodney sucked in a breath as John pushed the rest of the way in, then managed a smile.

John eyed him, holding still to let Rodney relax again. "You know, if you prefer to top, you just had to say so." He reached between them to pet Rodneyís softening cock, wanting to get him back to the level of arousal heíd been at moments before.

"Itís just Iíveóbeen a while." Rodney swallowed, trying to hide the wince when John moved in him, concentrating instead on the feel of Johnís hand moving over his cock.

"I can tell. God, youíre as tight as virgin," John groaned. He could tell that Rodney still wasnít enjoying it very much, so he held still, concentrating on Rodneyís cock and balls, slowly stroking him back to arousal.

"Oh haha," Rodney muttered before groaning as John discovered one of his hot spots and teased it. As Rodney slowly relaxed, his attention on what Johnís hands were doing, John slowly eased a little deeper, pleased that Rodney didnít tense up this time.

"Johnó" Rodney began, his sentence broken by a moan when John shifted within him. "Oh god, there."

John nodded, rocking his hips gently so the head of his cock rubbed over that spot, Rodney gasping at the sensation before beginning to move as well, arching up against Johnís thrusts.

"Thatís it," John whispered, "move with me. So good, so fucking good."

Rodney nodded, for once beyond words. He reached up with trembling hands and stroked Johnís shoulders, reaching up to tangle his fingers in the dark, messy hair and pulling him in for another kiss.

Johnís tongue slipped into Rodneyís mouth, possessing him in every way possible. One of them groaned, and he had no idea who it was, nor did he care. They rocked together for what seemed like hours until Rodney gasped and shuddered, stiffening beneath John as he came, his seed coating both their stomachs. John groaned harshly as Rodney clenched down and rippled around him, and he drove into Rodney several more times until his own climax overwhelmed him. He buried himself as deep as he could go, spasms of pleasure wracking his frame.

They lay there together, both gasping for breath, Rodneyís features softened by a not-often seen smile of pure happiness as he slid his hands lower, trailing his fingertips over Johnís back. John lay atop him, face buried against Rodneyís throat, apparently content not to move.

"Mmm, nice massage, John," Rodney finally chuckled, turning his head to nuzzle Johnís cheek.

"It was my pleasure," John replied, lazily tracing patterns on Rodneyís shoulder with a fingertip.

Rodney chuckled throatily at that. "Not just yours."

John laughed as well. "Yes, I did notice that. And that too was my pleasure."

"Going smug on me?"

"When youíve got it, flaunt it." John raised his head to smirk at Rodney.

Rodney chuckled at that. "Iíll remind you of that next time you complain about me extolling the greatness of my genius."

John laughed. "Why doesnít that surprise me?" He sat up. "I hate to rush this, but I have a meeting with Lorne in less than an hour. I need to get going."

Some of the sparkle died out in Rodneyís eyes, but he nodded. "And I should get to the lab; they think I was taking the afternoon off, so this way I can scare the hell out of them."

"No one can do that the way you do," John agreed laughingly as he stood up and stretched before reaching for his uniform.

"If you want to use the shower, feel free," Rodney offered, "Iím just going to lie here and enjoy the feeling of no back pain for a while."

"Thanks." John vanished into the bathroom, uniform in hand, and a moment later the sounds of running water and tuneless humming reached the outer room.

Listening to the homey sounds, Rodney smiled as he squirmed against the sheets, the ache in his ass a reminder that, yes, this had just happened. "I guess the village hussies will have to find themselves someone else to scratch their itch," he murmured before yawning and dragging the blanket over himself as he turned on his side and fell asleep.

Walking into the briefing room the next morning, John glanced at the two vacant seats, one next to Rodney and one across the table, and sank into the one between Elizabeth and Carson, nodding a greeting to Rodney.

Rodneyís smile faltered for a split-second, then he nodded back, glancing quickly down at his datapad to answer a question Elizabeth had asked.

"So basically," John interrupted a few minutes later, "itís another meet and greet mission, right?"

"The Kecharans grow many crops for trade," Teyla nodded. "Creating good relations between their world and Atlantis would be beneficial for all."

"No chance of artifacts?" Rodney asked, finally looking up from his datapad, glancing at John before looking at Teyla questioningly.

Teyla shook her head. "No, my people have traded with the Kecharans for many generations, and there is nothing of the Ancestors on their world, no ruins, no outposts."

Rodney slumped hearing that information, making Elizabeth smile. "Though thereís always a chance your scans will pick something up."

"And we can definitely use some new allies with fresh food," John added.

"Yes, well, fresh food is always a good thing," Rodney allowed.

"Rodney, ye think of a new MRE as fresh food," Carson chuckled.

Everyone around the table, aside from Rodney, made a face. "The rest of us, however, prefer our meals not to come out of little foil pouches," Elizabeth said.

"They taste good," Rodney protested.

John shook his head. "Youíre weird, McKay."

"I know what I like," he shrugged, giving a half-smile.

"If you say so." John turned his attention back to Elizabeth, nodding when she asked if that was all. "So weíre on for tomorrow."

"Thatís it?" Rodney made another note on his datapad and stood. "Iím going to go get some lunch." He glanced over at John questioningly.

After a moment John shrugged and got up as well. "I could use something to eat. Teyla, Iíll meet you in an hour."

"Planning on getting beaten with sticks again, Colonel?" Rodney asked, glancing up at John and smiling.

"Itís a thing." John grinned. "It makes Teyla happy."

"She likes beating you?"

"I think she thinks it keeps my head from getting too big," John admitted with a chuckle. "I can easily hold my own with the Marines, but she or Ronon can take me every time."

"Well, we all canít be the best at everything," Rodney reached up and patted Johnís shoulder as they walked.

"It gives me something to aim for. Not that I would want the lives theyíve led that forced them to learn those skills." John shook his head. "Makes a lot of the stuff we complain about seem pretty petty, doesnít it?"

It took Rodney a moment to answer, but when he did, his tone was serious. "Yes, yes, it does; life here is hard, but I wouldnít go back for anything."

"Itís home, isnít it?" John smiled, his hazel eyes warming.

Rodney nodded at that. "The best Iíve ever had."

"Me too." John picked up a tray as they reached the food line. "Youíre a really good friend, Rodney, the best Iíve ever had," he said, intentionally repeating Rodneyís words.

Rodney beamed at that and grabbed his own tray, loading it with food and carrying it to a table and sitting. "I feel the same way, John," he smiled.

"Cool." John grinned at him over the table. He picked up his turkey sandwich, eating hungrily.

"Yes, yes, it is," Rodney murmured before tucking into his own food.

John finished quickly and sat back, relaxing for a little while and letting his lunch settle before his workout with Teyla. "Iím surprised you didnít complain about wasting your time on tomorrowís mission."

"Just because thereís no record of Ancient buildings there doesnít mean there might not be anything," Rodney shrugged, pausing to take a drink of his coffee.

"True. Weíll keep an eye out. We might get lucky."

Rodney flashed a grin at that. "I hope so."

John got up. "Gotta go get beaten up now. Catch you later."

"Um yes, later," Rodney said to Johnís back.

"We are pleased to make new friends," the Kecharan leader announced, raising his glass to salute the Atlanteans.

"Very glad," his brother Linden murmured next to John, who smiled at him.

"Weíre friendly people," he agreed.

Rodney had taken a sip from his glass of the locally fermented beverage, and seeing the warm expression in Johnís eyes as he looked at the muscular redhead, he choked.

"Rodney, are you all right?" Teyla asked, eyeing him with concern.

After a coughing fit that ended in a grunt as Ronon patted him on the back with enough force to dislodge all his internal organs, Rodney managed to nod. "Fine, yes, Iím fine." He glanced back at John through watering eyes, hoping heíd been mistaken in what he had seen.

John had looked over when Rodney choked, but seeing Ronon handling it, he turned his attention back to Linden, sliding an arm around his shoulders.

Blue eyes widened, and for a second an expression of total devastation filled them before it vanished, locked behind a mask of snide indifference as Rodney slammed up barriers of well-developed protection between himself and his emotions, managing to survive the eveningóat least until the laughing man guided John toward his home.

The moment the colonel vanished, he walked over to Teyla, who was talking with a group of villagers she knew. "Iím going to go back," he announced. "I have work to do, and thereís no need for me to ruin my back sleeping on what Iím sure will prove to be less than adequate mattresses."

Teyla winced faintly, but the Kecharans took no offense, and she nodded. "Ronon will accompany you to the gate."

"I donít need a baby-sitter!"

"Doesnít matter, Iím going," Ronon shrugged, planting himself at Rodneyís side.

"We will return to Atlantis in the morning. Good night, Rodney," Teyla said, sympathy in her eyes.

Rodney grunted in return, grabbed his pack from the mound of their gear and started for the gate, ignoring Ronon, who walked alongside him.

"Sheppard doesnít take any of these things seriously," Ronon observed suddenly. "He probably doesnít even remember their names."

"And you think this matters to me why?" Rodney asked petulantly.

Ronon shook his head, not bothering to answer. The rest of the walk back to the stargate was accomplished in silence, and once Rodney had gone through to Atlantis, Ronon headed back to rejoin Teyla.

She glanced up as he arrived and at his shrug, shook her head. "This is not going to be an easy time."

"Sheppard still has no idea," Ronon grumbled. "And McKayís going to make everyoneís life miserable."

"And trying to make either of them see the truth will just make things worse."

"I think we need to go on a mission away from the city for a few weeks," Ronon grumbled.

"And come back to find it in ruins?"

"At least we wouldnít need to listen to it happen."

Teyla chuckled at that. "Iím finding myself more and more inclined to agree with you."

"I hoped that Sheppard would realize what they were doing once he finally did something, but I think itís even worse now," Ronon said. "This is the longest and strangest courtship Iíve ever seen in my life."

"Probably because neither of them recognize it for what it is; their culture has strange prohibitions regarding love."

Ronon nodded. "Weíll have to make sure that no problems come up once they finally sort this all out."

"Perhaps we should lock them in a room together."

"I wish we could, but you know McKay would find a way out."

"Or John would have the city let them out, and they would just be angrier for it." Teyla sighed and leaned against Rononís side. "It is a shame that neither of them have learned what a gift love is."

"I think McKay might have been ready, but Sheppard..." Ronon shook his head. "Now it will be even harder for them."

"That is true," Teyla nodded. "We will just have to wait and see what happens."

The minute Rodney returned, he tossed aside his pack, brushed aside the gate technicianís questions, and raced for Carsonís room. "Carson!" he bellowed, pounding on the door. "Wake up!"

It took a few minutes before the door opened, and a bleary-eyed Carson wearing nothing but boxers peered out. "Whatís the bloody problem, Rodney?" he demanded. "Thereís no emergency or Iíd know."

"I need a blood test, and I need it now!"

"Have you run mad?"

"No, I have not," Rodney snapped. "But I may have been exposed to who knows what types of diseases, so will you do your job and see what Iím going to die of?!"

Carson raked a hand through hair that was already standing on end. "What are you on about?"

"Sex, Carson! Unprotected sex of the kind that kills you in horrible ways because you were too stupid to realize that you were nothing but a convenient hole!"

Carson gawked at Rodney for several seconds before grabbing hold of his arm and yanking him into his room.

"All right then, letís start over," he said soothingly. "Are you telling me that you had unprotected sex?"

"Yes." Rodney took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. "Yes, now will you give me a blood test to tell me whatís going to kill me?"

"Breathe, Rodney." Carson patted his shoulder. "Sit down while I get dressed, and then weíll go to the infirmary."

"Breathe he says," Rodney muttered to himself as he sat down and rubbed at his face. "Breathe while millions of little death-bearers are roaming around my body."

"I find it rather difficult to believe that you of all people would put yourself in this position."

"Yes, rub in my stupidity; it makes me feel so much better."

"Come along, Rodney. Weíll do the test, and then weíll see what we need to do, if anything."

Rodney stood and nodded, looking oddly vulnerable. "Thank you, Carson," he said quietly.

"Itís what friends are for, lad," Carson replied bracingly.

"Thatís what I thought."

Carson frowned curiously, but he didnít press for information, simply offering the comfort of his presence as they walked down the hall.

When they reached the infirmary, Rodney followed Carson to an examination table and sat, obediently pushing up his sleeve and holding out his arm.

"At least the Ancient equipment lets us get the results immediately," Carson observed as he drew the blood. "You wonít have to wait and wonder."

"Thatís good to know," Rodney said wanly.

"It will be." Carson patted his shoulder. "Weíll know in a few minutes."

"I hate waiting."

"It wonít be long." Carson left his hand on Rodneyís shoulder as they waited for the blood to finish processing.

Rodney frowned as he looked up at Carson. "Stupid. I should have known better," he sighed.

Carson eyed him but didnít comment, deciding to wait till they got the results. "All right then, this is it."

"What is it? What am I dying of?" Rodney asked frantically.

"Old age."

"This isnít a joke, Carson!"

"Yeíre fine, Rodney. Not so much as a cold, let alone anything else."

"But, but..."

"Ye got lucky this time. In future, use a condom." Carson walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a handful, which he tried to give to Rodney.

"There wonít be a next time, so donít concern yourself," Rodney spat, batting the foil packets away and getting up.

Carson stared at him. "Ye canna mean to be celibate the rest of your life!"

"I didnít say that! Just that there wonít be any need in the futureóthe near future."

"If you want to talk..."

"Thereís nothing to talk about; I made a stupid decision, and I learned my lesson."

Carson sighed. "Aye. Well, if you ever change your mind, Iím here."

"Iím fine, Carson. Really." Rodney gave him a smile that didnít reach his eyes. "Sorry I got you up for nothing."

"Iím glad I could set your mind at rest. You should get some sleep now. Iím sure this will seem less awful in the morning."

"Of course, youíre right," Rodney nodded. "Good night, Carson."

"Good night, Rodney." Watching his friend leave, Carson shook his head in disbelief. "I never thought heíd give up on the colonel for someone else," the doctor murmured.

Rodney wandered back to his room, but when he looked at the bed, he knew there was no way he was sleeping there and headed to the lab instead to lose himself in work.

John stepped out of Linderís house the next morning with a smile on his face and heavy eyes attesting to his lack of sleep.

"Good morning, John," Teyla said, nodding at him as she lingered over her breakfast.

"Good morning. Trade agreement all settled?" he asked, helping himself to the local equivalent of fruit and pastry.

"I believe so."

"Great. So weíre good to head back home?"

"Ready when you are, Sheppard," Ronon commented around a mouthful of food.

"Just as soon as I get something to eat then."

"Of course, John, take your time," Teyla replied serenely though her eyes tracked the approach of the woman the colonel had spent the night with.

Following her gaze, John frowned slightly and started eating faster.

"Looks like youíve got a friend," Ronon snickered as she walked over and sat down beside John, pressing against him.

"You left so quickly, John," she pouted, "I wanted to give you a proper goodbye."

"And I appreciate the thought, but I have to get home." John leaned away ever so slightly.

"So soon?" she pouted. "I was hoping to show you our far fields and the meadows beyond."

"Maybe next time," John replied easily. "I do need to get back now."

"I will look forward to your next visit," she beamed, leaning in to kiss his cheek.

John smiled noncommittally. "Thank you for your hospitality."

"We should check on McKay when we get back," Ronon commented as he picked up another pastry.

"Speaking of which, where is McKay?" John looked around curiously. "Did he find a friend of his own last night?"

"He went back to the city," Teyla explained, shooting Ronon a frown.

"Really? Was there an emergency?" John was surprised; despite Rodneyís many complaints, he didnít usually leave without the rest of his team.

"No, I believe he felt he would be more comfortable in his own quarters," Teyla offered.

"That prescription mattress, huh?" John shook his head. "Heís never going to make friends if he keeps avoiding people."

Ronon shrugged. "Must like the ones he has better."

"Yeah, but... Never mind." John finished his meal and stood up. "Okay, letís head out."

"We are ready, John," Teyla assured him.

With a final perfunctory kiss for Linder, John extracted his team from the village and led the way toward the gate.

"Hey, Rodney, decided not to hurt your back again?" John greeted cheerfully as he entered the lab.

"Yes, that was exactly the reason," came the answer from beneath a large device.

"Youíve been here all night, havenít you?" John perched on the edge of a table.

"Some of us have work to do. What point was there staying and socializing when that was the case?"

"I donít know, to have fun? Make friends?"

Rodney snorted out a laugh at that. "I believe you do enough of that for the both of us."

"Thereís more to life than the lab, Rodney."

"Tell me that again when what Iím working on saves all our lives."

"Hey, not denying that, but all work and no play makes Rodney a dull boy."

Rodney scooted out from under the device at that and looked up at John, his eyebrows raised. "Colonel, in all the time youíve known me, could you ever say I was dull?"

John laughed. "You have a point. Thatís one word that definitely doesnít apply to you. Ready for lunch?"

"I was planning on eating here; I donít want to lose track of where I am on this."

"Far be it for me to cause Atlantis to sink again. I guess Iíll catch you at dinner." John hopped off the table and moved toward the door.

"Possibly," Rodney waved a hand in his direction before sinking back under the device again, waiting until he heard the door whoosh shut to breathe a sigh of relief.

Zelenka came to stand over him. "You cannot hide in lab forever, Rodney."

"Iím not hiding, and who asked you anyway?" Rodney blustered.

"You fixed that device last week."

Rodney pulled out to glower at the shorter man. "Iím double-checking it."

"Of course you are." Radek shook his head and returned to his own work.

"What do you mean by that?" Rodney snapped.

"I mean youíre hiding," Radek repeated.

"From what?"

Radek turned and stared at him in disbelief. "From the colonel, of course."

"Now why would I be hiding from the colonel?"

Radek rolled his eyes. "It is one of lifeís great mysteries."

"Oh, will you shut up and go back to work."

"Working." Radek exchanged an impatient glance with one of the other scientists.

"Good," Rodney grumped before vanishing under the device again.

"Okay, youíve been holed up in this lab long enough. Itís movie night. Move your ass, McKay!"

Startled from his doze, Rodney almost fell off his stool, and, when he recovered, he scowled at John. "Is there a reason you wanted me to break my neck?"

"Nope, but Iím not taking any excuses. Teylaís getting the popcorn, and the movieís set up and ready to go. Youíre coming with me."

"Oh yes, watching some inane comedy ranks over finishing this report," Rodney snorted.

"I seem to remember you saying that youíd missed the last Star Trek movie..."

Against his will, Rodney smiled. "Really?"

"Yup. So now will you leave this lab?"

"Fine, fine." Rodney saved his file and picked up his datapad, wincing as he stood and stretched.

"See, youíve been sitting here too long. Weíre going to have to take it in shifts to pry you out of here."

"You have got to be kidding."

"Oh come on, boldly go." John herded Rodney toward the door.

"Yes, yes, love long and prosper, Kirk," Rodney sighed, hurrying his steps to slide away from the hand John had on his back.

John eyed Rodney oddly as he followed him out of the lab. "Whatís been eating you lately? If I didnít know better, Iíd say you were avoiding me."

"Too many projects and not enough time; as it is, Iím barely keeping ahead of things."

"Well, the Daedalus is due to make another run soon. Why not hire some more help?"

"Please, each batch is worse than the last!"

"Kavanagh was in the original group," John pointed out.

"At least he knows his science."

John actually stopped in his tracks. "Are you feeling all right?"

"Hmm?" Rodney paused and looked back at him. "Of course, just overworked as usual."

"You just said that Kavanagh is an all right scientist."

"Oh, well, tireder than I thought."

"I feel like I should be checking for a quantum mirror!"

Rodney managed a smile that he felt looked reasonably normal. "I assure you, Colonel, Iím all me."

"Yeah, I noticed. No one could impersonate you."

"Exactly, now can we go watch this movie before Ronon eats all the popcorn?"

Laughing, John put a hand on Rodneyís shoulder as they walked into the transporter. "He got a bowl of his own. And so do you."

"Youíre too kind," Rodney said dryly when they exited the transporter, shifting his shoulder so that Johnís hand fell from his back.

"Thatís me, just an all Ďround great guy," John replied cheerfully. "I even got a pot of coffee before coming to get you."

"What? No beer?"

"Of course I have beer. But since when do you turn down coffee?" John eyed him suspiciously.

Rodney shrugged and started walking again. "Maybe Iím in the mood for a beer, Colonel; is that a crime?"

"Of course not, itís just surprising, thatís all. Then again, you do surprise me on a regular basis."

"I could say the same for you," Rodney murmured as they walked into the room that had served as a lounge since almost their first days in Atlantis.

"Glad you made it, McKay," Ronon called from where he sprawled on the couch, Teyla sitting next to him.

"I told you Iíd bring him. It canít be team night if the whole teamís not here." John dropped onto the other couch, leaving room for Rodney beside him though Rodney apparently missed the implied invitation and sat down beside Teyla, stifling a yawn as he settled back against the cushions.

John frowned over at the three of them squeezed together on the sofa, but he didnít comment, instead starting the movie. He tried not to think about the fact that he missed having Rodney beside him, commenting on the movie.

With dogged determination, Rodney kept from looking over at John through the course of the movie, though he also paid little attention to the plot and ended up dozing through the end. When the lights came up, he jumped slightly, looking around in confusion before remembering where he was.

"The movie was most interesting," Teyla said diplomatically.

John was frowning at Rodney, the hazel eyes dark and confused. "I thought you wanted to see this?" He sounded disappointed.

"I didóor I thought I did; I suppose it loses a bit of shine when youíre basically living it." Rodney stood and stretched, setting the half-eaten bowl of popcorn on the table, preparing to head out.

"It was better than that one with the ship that turned into the maid," Ronon chuckled.

"I still like the ones with the original cast better. And the Borg one with this cast," John said, "but this was pretty good for a final installment." He watched Rodney curiously. "Youíre going to rush off?"

"Hmm? Was there something else going on?" Rodney glanced over at him, his eyebrows raised.

"Gee, I donít know, actually talking to each other?"

"Oh," Rodney looked sheepish and sat down by Teyla again. "Sorry, Iíve been... distracted lately."

"Yeah, Iíve noticed. Or rather I havenít. Iíve barely seen you the last while."

"The local geniusí work is never done."

"Iím starting to think youíre avoiding me," John laughed, not seeing the look Ronon and Teyla exchanged.

"Actually, Iíve been making headway deciphering the notes the Ancients left regarding creating ZPMs."

"Really?" John looked at him eagerly. "If you could... Well, you know better than anyone what that would mean for us."

Rodney nodded, and Teyla rested her hand on his arm, squeezing it slightly. "If anyone can do it, you can," she said sincerely.

"Of course," John agreed. "Thatís great, Rodney. Have you told Elizabeth yet?"

"No, not yet; I was planning on waiting until I had something concrete to show her." Rodneyís expression darkened momentarily.

John nodded. "Donít worry, I wonít say anything. Tell her when you think itís the right time." He looked directly at Rodney. "I trust you."

Rodney closed his eyes for a second and nodded. "Thank you, Colonel. I appreciate that."

"We know you can do it, McKay," Ronon added.

"Once you finish with that, you can work on getting TV reception here," John grinned.

"So you can watch football all day? I donít think so," Rodney sniffed.

"Think SciFi. Or Space if you want the Canadian version. Star Trek, Rodney."

"Really bad movies," he countered.

"So bad theyíre funny," John retorted.

"I liked that one about the flying lizards," Ronon chuckled.

"You just liked the really bad actor who looked kind of like Radek," John laughed.

"I am still trying to understand how a human being can hold on with enough strength against one of those animals to pull an arm off another human being," Teyla murmured, her dark eyes alight with laughter.

"Bad science!"

"That wasnít bad science; that was a bad grasp on reality!" John snorted.

"You mean a wing canít cut a person in half?" Ronon snickered.

"Hardly." John shook his head. "Or weíd be genetically engineering them to deal with the Wraith."

Rodney shook his head. "I wouldnít mention that to Carson."

"No, genetic engineering is a bit of a sore spot."

"Exactly," Rodney nodded, leaning forward to take a handful of popcorn.

"Weíll leave our survival in your capable hands." John saluted Rodney with his beer.

"Where better," Rodney smiled, raising his own beer as well and taking a drink to hide the tightness of his expression.

"Nowhere." John stretched out on the sofa, watching Rodney.

Ronon nodded and rested his arm around Teylaís shoulders. "Iím not arguing that."

"I donít think anyone would. We make a habit of saving each other."

Teyla nodded as she rested against Rononís side. "We balance each other well."

"We have a great dynamic," John agreed while Rodney only nodded and sipped at his beer. John eyed him. "Youíre awfully quiet tonight."

"Hmm?" Rodney glanced over at him again. "Just tired, I suppose; this projectís been taking up a lot of my time."

"Well, I hope you get it done soon. Itís not the same without you around. Quieter," John added with a chuckle, "but a lot less interesting."

Rodney snorted at that. "Iím sure youíll find some way to ease your boredom, Colonel."

Catching the tone, John sat up, frowning at Rodney. "I think Iím going to call it a night," he said, deciding not to call the other man on it this time.

"Sleep well, John," Teyla offered as she and Ronon stood as well, followed belatedly by Rodney, who nodded.

"I should be getting back to the lab as well. Have a good evening."

John remained there for a few minutes after the others left, frowning as he thought. Finally, he headed off to his room, still abstracted.

"Ow! Carson what are you doing, trying to tear my leg off at the hip?" Rodney howled.

"Och, Rodney, stop being such a bairn; yeíve sprained yer ankle, and I need ta check yer mobility before I wrap it."

"Jeez, it sounds like youíre killing him in here, Carson," John said as he came in. "What happened?"

"He slipped on some spilled coffee and twisted his ankle," Carson interjected over Rodneyís explanation that involved a near death experience involving his head and a lab bench.

"Slipped on coffee?" John tried not to laugh.

"Oh yes, please, Colonel, make fun of my injury. Do you want to help Dr. Mengele here torture me more?"

"No, but I might sell tickets."

Rodney glowered at him while Carson chuckled. "Yer going ta be fine, Rodney. I will tell ye to stay off of it for three days, then light duty for the next two weeks."

John stopped laughing. "We have a mission scheduled in three days."

"Well, I suppose youíll have to survive without my immense genius."

Johnís frown deepened. "I donít like going out with the team light. Something always goes wrong."

Rodney sighed, looking mightily put-upon. "Then take Dr. Rhors; sheís been itching to get into the field, and this would give her experience."

"You want us to take someone else? Carson, are you sure he didnít hit his head?"

"No, Rodney is as much in his right mind as he ever is."

Rodney growled and glared at the physician. "Not amusing! As for taking Dr. Rhors, yes, this is another meet and greet, correct? I think she can handle that."

"Okay, but thatís it. Any other missions will wait till youíre back on the active duty roster. Iím not going to start breaking in a new scientist."

Rodney opened his mouth to fire back a retort but closed it when he thought better of it. "Iím sure youíll get along fine," he finally said.

"And here I thought no one was as good as you."

"Of course they arenít, but sheís friendly; sheíll do fine winning over the locals. Ow! Are you trying to cut off all my circulation?!" Rodney demanded of Carson.

"The wrap has to be tight to support yer ankle, lad."

Casting a commiserating glance at Carson, John backed toward the door. "Well, I guess Iíd better go get Dr. Rhors up to speed and make sure sheís not going to shoot herself in the foot."

"She wonít; sheís Israeli, did that mandatory army service thing," Rodney sighed.

"Ah, Ronon should like her then."

"So go, enjoy, start with the whole bonding thing."

There was a hint of a bite in Johnís tone as he replied, "Since you obviously donít need me here, I guess I will. So long, Rodney."

Rodney sat up as if heíd been slapped, then nodded, turning his attention once more to Carson. "Are you going to finish that any time this century?"

"Och, ye dinna need to take your bad humor out on me. Just remember who does your physical!" Carson warned.

"Iíve had worse than your speculum up my ass," Rodney snapped back, his whole posture tense.

Carson frowned. "Was it consensual?" he asked, suddenly wondering.

"What?" Rodney asked, staring at him. "Ofóof course it was!"

"I wondered from things you had said."

"It was simply a mistake; one I wonít make again. So, can I work in the lab at least?"

Carson nodded. "Within reason. No staying for entire days at a time."

"Yes, yes, I understand, Iíll rest as much as possible."

"See that you do or Iíll take you off duty."

Rodney rolled his eyes but nodded. "Fine, Carson; can I have some crutches so I can go?"

"If you stay out of the lab for the rest of the day. Otherwise, Iíll keep you here for observation."

"Can I at least use my computer?"

"Just make sure you get some rest tonight. Even a minor injury makes the body want rest."

"Well, considering I wonít be going on missions, Iím sure Iíll be getting plenty of rest," Rodney answered shortly. "Now, crutches, please?"

Shaking his head, Carson handed over the crutches.

Rodney took them and carefully swung himself out of bed, swaying a moment before he got his balance. "Thank you, Carson," he said quietly before limping out of the infirmary.

"Very impressive, Naomi," John was saying as the team came back through the gate two weeks later.

"Thank you, John," she laughed, shifting her pack to a better balance on her back. "I must say, from listening to Dr. McKay, I hadnít realized these missions could be so enjoyable."

"Theyíre more pleasant when people arenít chasing us, trying to kill us for stealing their sacred whatever."

"Yes, I could tell you had quite a pleasant evening," she smiled while Ronon rolled his eyes at Teyla behind her and Johnís backs.

John chuckled. "Just doing my part for galactic peace."

"And good will?"

"Exactly." John grinned at her. "I noticed you spreading some goodwill of your own."

She chuckled at that and patted his shoulder. "Just trying to give a good impression of the science department, Colonel."

"Very impressive attention to detail, Doctor."

"Are they going to pat each other on the back next?" Ronon murmured.

"I believe I will leave before we find out."

Ronon nodded at that. "See you at the debriefing, Sheppard."

Looking over in surprise, John nodded. "Iíll see you then."

"When is the debriefing?" Dr. Rhors asked.

"Two hours. Itíll give you time to grab a shower and something to eat."

"Wonderful, Iíll see you there." Giving John a bright smile, she patted his shoulder again and walked briskly out of the gateroom.

John waved to Elizabeth before following the other members of his team and heading to his quarters for a quick shower. Once he was done, he went to the mess hall for something.

"Rodney! Hey, nearly ready to get back in the saddle?" John dropped into a seat across from the scientist.

"Tell me, Colonel, do you see the crutches leaning against the wall there?" Rodney asked, looking up from his meal.

"Itís been two weeks, Rodney."

"And Carson said it would be at least three weeks before I was mobile again."

"We miss you on the team." John pushed the blue jello to the edge of the tray closest to Rodney.

"Hrmm, I heard that you and Dr. Rhors were quite the hit on your last missions; the villagers are falling all over themselves to trade with us now," Rodney commented idly, reaching for the jello and digging into it.

John laughed. "You know me, spreading friendship everywhere I go."

Rodney set down the jello at that, placing his spoon neatly beside it. "Yes, I do know that about you."

John pushed the second jello toward him. "I woo them, and you figure out their technology. It works for us."

"Youíre a boon to Atlantis, Colonel."

"You still sound more irritable than usual. Is your ankle really still bothering you?"

Rodney made a face at that and shrugged. "Somewhat; Iím not sure if itís healing well."

"Iím sure Carson would be doing something if it wasnít."

"Unless thereís nothing he can do."

"Rodney, itís a sprain."

"And? Your point is? This isnít a manly enough injury for you?"

"My point is that itís neither life-threatening nor permanently debilitating!"

"So Iím supposed to run around the wilderness with a bad ankle? I have to tell you, Colonel, Iím much more comfortable researching the ZPM in my lab!"

"Iím going to start to think that you donít want to be on the team anymore."

"Ió" Rodney swallowed and took a deep breath. "I understand that you and Dr. Rhors are getting along well."

"Sheís good and she should definitely be on a team, but sheís no Rodney McKay."

"Of course she isnít, but she seems to share your... methodology for getting along with the people we trade with."

John stared. "A personís sexual habits have nothing to do with anything."

Rodney clenched his jaw for a moment. "Iím sure they donít."

"It has no effect on how they do their job."

"Iím sure it doesnít."

John leaned back in his chair, regarding Rodney quizzically. "What crawled up your ass?"

"Nothing, does that make you happier?" Rodney asked, pushing his chair back and grabbing for his crutches and his tray at the same time, trying to juggle them both and failing miserably.

John jumped to his feet, catching Rodneyís tray. "Geez, what the hell are you doing?"

"Iím getting up to go back to the lab, Colonel, what does it look like Iím doing?"

"It looks like youíre trying to injure yourself again. And whatís the big rush?"

"Itís called workóperhaps youíve heard of it?" As Rodney spoke, he balanced himself on his crutches and took the tray back from John.

"Yeah, fine, whatever you say." John turned sharply and walked away without another word.

"Thereís an intelligent answer, Colonel!" Rodney shouted after him before cursing when he dropped his tray and glaring at everyone around him. "What are you looking at?!"

"I understand the mission went well," Elizabeth commented when he walked into her office.

John nodded as he dropped into a chair. "Very well. We should get a good trade agreement out of this, and itíll give us another planet to withdraw to if we ever need to."

"Thatís wonderful news, John," she smiled. "And Dr. Rhors is working out well?"

"Yeah, she does a good job. Fortunately, since apparently I wonít be getting McKay back for at least another week. And whatís with him? He seems crankier than usual."

"Heís been putting a lot of hours in the lab working on his ZPM project, so I imagine heís tired."

"Elizabeth, he wasnít this bad during the siege." John shook his head.

"Iím not sure what to tell you, John. Have you talked to him?"

"Iíve tried a couple of times, but he just snipes and runs away. I really donít know what else to try."

Elizabeth shook her head and leaned back in her seat. "I wish I had an answer for you, I know he hasnít been himself for the last month or so." She looked up when her office door opened and Rodney limped through.

"Elizabeth, I need to speak toóoh, Colonel, youíre here..."

"Let me guess, unless I leave, you will," John said in frustration.

"Actually, itís probably a good thing that youíre here because this affects you as well." Rodneyís jaw worked as he looked toward Elizabeth. "As Dr. Rhors seems to be a good fit with the colonelís team, Iíd like to suggest her as a permanent member. Iíve got too much to do here; this work on ZPM development is more important than playing kissy face with every little village out there."

John leaped to his feet. "Okay, thatís it. Iíve been patient; Iíve been fucking patient, but enough is fucking enough! What the fuck is your problem? And no, you are not fucking off the fucking team."

"Do you know another curse word other than fuck?!" Rodney snapped back as Elizabeth stared from one of them to the other, her mouth open in shock.

John gawked at him. "Youíre complaining about my language?!? That is so not the fucking point!"

"Again with the word! Can you try to be a bit more creative?"

"Gentlemen!" Elizabeth snapped. "If this is a personal matter between you, perhaps somewhere other than my office would be a better place to deal with it?"

"Personal?" Rodney laughed. "The colonel doesnít do personal!"

"What are you talking about?" John yelled. "Jesus, youíre the closest friend Iíve ever had. Or at least I thought you were. Apparently you have a different opinion!"

"I thought you were, but excuse me for getting confused about the whole friend thing when we ended up in bed together with your cock up my ass!"

Elizabethís eyes widened and she stared from one to the other, her mouth opening and closing but nothing coming out.

"What the hell does sex have to do with friendship? Friends are real; sex is just sex!"

"Maybe for you it is, but not everyone else in the whole fucking universe has your moral code! I tried to act like it didnít matter, but it fucking well did, and you know, Iím not enough of a masochist to sit there and watch you go off with every Tam, Jane and Mary in the Pegasus galaxy!"

"Thatís it, gentlemen," Elizabeth said, raising her voice to be heard over theirs, "Iím going to leave now, but try to remember that other people can hear you here." Realizing they werenít paying any attention to her, she sighed and eased out of her office, closing the door behind her and giving a stern look to the gateroom personnel until they went back to work.

"What the fuck are you talking about? I never planned to do anything about the attraction, but we did, and it was good, and what the fuck is your problem?!?"

"Well, itís all fine and dandy then, isnít it. John Sheppard fucks his way around the universe and it doesnít matter to anyone because he says it shouldnít. So go and fuck whomever you want, Colonel; just donít expect me to sit there and watch!"

"What the hell do you want from me?"

"Nothing, nothing at all," Rodney snapped.

"Great, now weíre lying too?" John glared at him.

"What I want you canít provide, so if thatís lying, then fine, Iím lying!"

"Iím not a goddamn mind reader! How the hell should I know what you want?"

"Why the hell do you think I slept with you?!"

"Because weíve been attracted to each from day one!"

Rodney growled in frustration and slammed his crutch into the floor. "Do you think I sleep with any and everyone Iím attracted to?"

"Um... yes?"

"Iím not you, Colonel."

"I never said you were." John raked a hand through his hair in frustration. "Damnit, what do you want from me?"

"Something you obviously canít give me," Rodney sighed. "And donít worry, Iím not going to bring it up again; Iím sure weíll regain some kind of working relationship."

John slammed his fist into Elizabethís desk. "What. Do. You. Want?" he gritted out.

"Jesus Christ, is this some teen confessional magazine? I wanted a relationship with you; I thought thatís what theóthe sex was about, us finally getting to that point!"

John stared. "With me?" he repeated in disbelief.

"No, you idiot, with all the other multitudes of men Iím sleeping with!"

"No one wants a relationship with me," John said, sounding stunned.

"I canít imagine why."

"A relationship," John repeated.

"And this was why there was no point in mentioning it. If youíll excuse me, Colonel, I have things to do that donít involve embarrassing myself."

"As long as one of those things isnít resigning from the team. Thatís not happening."

"And weíre back to the whole misconception of me being a masochist."

"And this is why I never intended to do anything about it," John growled. "We make a damn good team, and you areó" He stopped abruptly, emotion flashing over his face too quickly to be identified, then continued, "You were my best friend."

Pain flashed across Rodneyís expression before he nodded. "Iím sorry my inability to control my emotions is inconveniencing you."

John slammed his hands down on the desk. "I never asked you to control your emotions! Oh fuck it. Do whatever the hell you want; you will anyways. And when we all get killed because we only have the second best scientist instead of the one who could have figured it out, well, donít worry about it. You wonít need to deal with anything anymore." He stormed toward the door.

"Oh, now thatís just underhanded, Colonel!" Rodney shouted. "What am I supposed to do, sit there mission after mission and watch you fuck anything that breathes when I want to be the one with you? Well, fuck you, John! Thank god I was never interested in a man before you because I sure as hell wonít be after this!"

John froze just before reaching the door and slowly turned to face Rodney. "Why would you... Why?"

"Why what?" Rodney snapped, giving up on trying to balance on his crutches and flopping down into a chair, facing away from him.

"Are you saying that you never..." John trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.

"Never what?"

"No other guys ever?"

Rodney sighed and reached up to massage his forehead. "Why does it matter?"

"I never thought... Or maybe I did," John said slowly, realizing something. "I didnít use a rubber. Iíve never done that before."

"Which explains the lack of diseases in my blood test results."

Johnís jaw dropped. "You had yourself tested for STDs?" he finally sputtered.

Rodney looked up at that and frowned. "Of course I did."

"Well, I can certainly see why youíd want anything to do with me when you have that opinion of me!"

"What opinion?! You sleep with anyone who smiles at you; it was a knee-jerk reaction when I was reminded of that fact the very next day."

"I have never had unsafe sex in my life!" John nearly screamed.

"Well good for you!"

"So why exactly would you think I gave you something?!"

"Because I didnít know what you do with all the men you fuck! You said you used condoms with the women to keep room having those pesky childbirth issues, but who knows about them." Rodney frowned, then looked outraged. "Oh, and I was apparently safe to fuck without one because I havenít had sex in longer than I can remember?!"

"I never even considered one with you because youíre you!"

"Which means what!"

"Youíll have to ask my subconscious; I donít have a fucking clue, and right now I donít want to know either!"

"Fine. Wonderful. Can I go now? Iím sure you and your subconscious can have a lovely discussion without me."

"I give up. You win, okay? Fine. Weíre all good. Life is just fucking wonderful!" This time John made it to the door.

"Wonderful!" Rodney shouted after him, starting to throw one of his crutches at the wall before realizing where he was. "Fuck!" he growled, lurching to his feet and limping toward the open door and out on the walkway over the gateroom. The lack of normal sounds caused him to look around at the faces of at least a dozen personnel, all staring at him. "Donít you peopleóoh, it isnít worth it," he snarled, lurching toward the transporter and the safety of his lab.

A moment later the Canadian sergeant on duty activated his radio. "Dr. Weir? Itís safe to come back to your office."

"Here we go again," Ronon murmured as he watched John flirting with the headwoman of the Kellanes.

"I had hoped it would be over once they spoke, but it seems to have made things worse." Teyla shook her head as John and the woman made their way to her hut.

"I think the whole base knows that by now," he said before sighing. "I really wish they would let me bang their heads together."

"I think Elizabeth might allow it if they take over her office again."

Ronon grinned evilly at that. "Oh good."

Teyla chuckled. "I doubt Elizabeth would agree. She was somewhat annoyed the last time."

"Hrmm, good point, itís still a good thought though."

Teyla was about to reply when John suddenly reappeared and nearly ran past them. "Iím heading back to Atlantis."

"What theó" Ronon half-stood, his hand on his gun. "Sheppard, is there a problem?"

"No! No problem, none at all. I do not have a problem!"

"Of course, John," Teyla said gently. "No one said you had a problem."

"Thatís because I donít! Iím leaving now!"

"We will inform Dr. Rhors when she returns," Teyla promised.

John just waved before dialing the date. Back in Atlantis, he ignored Elizabethís surprised questions aside from a quick assurance that there werenít any problems and headed straight for the transporter. A moment later he stormed into Rodneyís lab.

"This is all your fault!"

"Hello to you too," Colonel," Rodney murmured without looking up from his work. "I thought you were on a mission?"

"I was! And I have never had this happen before!"

"A woman turned you down?"

"No!" John glared at him.

"So was there a reason for your visit?"

"I couldnít get it up and itís all your fault!" John snarled.

Hearing that, Rodney looked up and stared at John comically. "Excuse me?"

"No, I wonít! This is all your fault!" John said again.

"How can it be my fault; I wasnít even there, and I assure you I havenít found some long-lost Ancient impotence beam!"

"I was thinking about you, damn it!"

"And you became impotent? Why thank you, Colonel, that was just what I needed to hear today!"

"It was because she wasnít you," John growled.

"Because sheóoh please!"

"I hate you! Everything was going fine, and then I thought about you saying you wanted... Well, about you and the way you looked at me and... I really, really hate you!"

"Are you going to stomp your feet and throw things next?" Rodney asked, sounding amused. "If you are, just donít use anything on this bench; some of them might explode."

John sputtered wordlessly for a moment. "I might throw a punch if you keep that up! What the fuck am I supposed to do now?"

"Get some Viagra?"

Johnís eyes bulged. "So not helping!" he finally got out.

"Well, what do you want me to say, Colonel?" Rodney snapped. "Do you want me to give you absolution to fuck where and whenever you please? Go ahead, what does it matter what I think!"

John slumped onto a stool. "Apparently knowing you want me not to makes a difference," he muttered.

"So I should be apologizing for this?"

"Oh fuck, I donít know what to think."

"Well, neither do I, Colonel," Rodney sighed. "Iím not sure what you want from me."

"I know I donít want things to be like this."

"Iím sure you must miss your sex life."

"Stop it! Iím the one who has trouble talking about this stuff. You know damn well thatís not what I meant."

"Then tell me what the fuck you mean, Colonel, because I may be a genius, but I donít have psychic powers!" Rodney demanded, slamming his hand down on the table. "Do you want my blessing to go fuck around; well, guess what, youíre not going to get it because it fucking hurts and I hate it!"

"Christ. I want us to be friends again, and uh, maybe try that relationship thing."

"You sound so enthused by that idea."

"Itís not like itís something Iíve ever considered before."

"Again with the enthusiasm."

"Damnit, Rodney, what do you want from me?"

"Oh I donít know, something more than you acting like this is the end of the world might be nice, and just why do you think I want to be in a relationship with you?"

"Maybe because you said you did!" John groaned and banged his head on the table.

"When I thought you might consider it somewhere above, oh, well, getting bamboo shoved under your toenails!"

"What the fuck do I know about relationships?" John yelled, goaded. "My mother died; my father was military; my friends died; I donít exactly have a great batting average!"

"Oh, so weíre sharing crappy life stories now? My parents only noticed I was alive when the CIA showed up at their door, and the most meaningful relationships Iíve ever had were with my cat and with you as my friend, so I doubt my values are any higher than yours!"

"Oh fuck," John groaned. "Look, I care more about your friendship than anything else. If I could do this with anyone, it would be you."

"But you donít think you can, do you?"

"I donít fucking know!"

Rodney nodded at that and sighed. "So what am I supposed to do about this?"

John shrugged. "Give me a chance?"

"To be friends again?"

"At least that, if you wonít try anything more."

"Iím scared." Rodney said suddenly. "No, Iím terrified."

"You think Iím not? You matter, Rodney."

"You matter too, John," Rodney whispered.

"So take a chance on me. If we do this, Iíll really do it. No one else," John promised, knowing that was probably the biggest hurdle for Rodney, based on their previous conversations.

"I miss being on the team. I miss going on missions." Rodney paused and took a deep breath. "I miss you."

"I miss you too. And you are part of the team. You should be with us."

"I want to beówith youóall of you, but also with you, just you."

"So be with me."

Rodney frowned slightly. "Are you saying you want to have sex now?"

"No! Well, I donít mean I donít want you, but not right this second," John babbled. "I want us to do things together and you not to avoid me and talk, and oh my God, I sound like a teenage girl, and this is all your fault too!"

"Well, Iím not going to say Iím sorry about that because Iím gladónot that you sound like a teenage girl because thatís wrong on just so many levels even I canít contemplate it but the rest..."

John just stared at him for several seconds before beginning to laugh helplessly.

"What?!"

John shook his head. "Not important. So, did that last mini rant mean youíre going to give it a try?" he asked, not about to take anything for granted.

"Yes," Rodney whispered. "I want to try and even if this, this thing doesnít work out between us, I wonít avoid you, I promise."

"Could we maybe not go into it assuming weíre going to mess up?" John suggested. "Iíd kind of like this to work, so letís not shoot ourselves in the ass." He quirked a grin. "I leave that to you."

"I have never shot myself in the ass!" Rodney sputtered, glaring at John before pausing and slowly grinning. "That felt almost normal."

John grinned back at him. "Yup. And we donít even have to chase Elizabeth out of her office to do it."

Rodney flushed at that reminder. "No, once was enough for that horrible situation, thank you. So, umm, what should we do now?"

John eyed him. "Are you going to run away if I kiss you?"

"Ióummóthat wouldnít be conducive to the whole attempting to have a relationship, would it?"

"Not really." John slowly moved toward him, reaching out to place his hands on Rodneyís hips as he stopped a breath away from him.

"Oh, for godís sake," Rodney grumbled, sliding his hands into Johnís hair and kissing him, deepening it the moment John recovered and kissed him back.

Johnís hair was even more rumpled than usual when he finally drew back slightly, his lips curving in a big smile. "See, I knew it was all your fault."

"What was?" Rodney mumbled as he tried to focus his mind again.

John pressed against Rodneyís thigh. "Any more questions?"

"Whaóoh." Rodneyís grin lit his whole face. "Do you think Iím going to complain about that?"

"Glad to hear it." John grinned too. "Although it means that if we want to get out of this lab, itís going to have to wait a few minutes."

"I thought this wasnít about the sex?"

John looked confused. "That would be why I donít really want to be walking through the corridors of Atlantis with you and a massive hard on."

"Ohóoh!" Rodneyís grin returned, and he nodded. "I suppose standing here like this isnít helping either. Iíll just finish up with what I was doing and youóummóthink cold thoughts?"

John eyed him wryly. "Right. So, uh, do you want to watch a movie or something when we do get out of here?"

"Maybe that Star Trek one again? I missed a lot of it."

"Sounds good." John nodded, sitting down and watching Rodneyís fingers fly over the keyboard. It didnít help his current problem, but it was fun.

"All right," Rodney said some time later as he closed down his file and stood. "Are things umm... better?"

"I think I need to borrow a clipboard," John replied with a shrug.

"You donít sound all too upset about that," Rodney chuckled. "Here, use this." He handed over his datapad as he spoke.

"After earlier tonight? No, not really," John said dryly. "Besides," he grinned, "itís all your fault."

"Colonel, youíre an idiot," Rodney chuckled heading for the door, still limping slightly. "Not that I mind."

John laughed as he followed. "No, when you mind something, Iím never left in any doubt."

Ignoring that comment, Rodney started for the transporter. "Exactly. Now come along; if weíre watching a movie, we need popcorn."

The transporter doors opened, releasing several scientists who stopped in their tracks to gape at the colonel and Dr. McKay. Ignoring them, John stepped into the transporter, then started laughing once the doors shut.

"Did you see their faces?"

"They must have been amazed that there was no screaming going on."

John snickered. "I wonder what the odds are right now on one of us killing the other. Iím sure theyíve been betting on us."

"Ask Radek, Iím sure he was running the damn pool," Rodney snorted.

"Doesnít really matter since theyíre all going to lose." John smiled crookedly as they stepped out into the mess hall to get their popcorn.

"True, I doubt anyone had this outcome as their guess."

"Which just proves that weíre smarter than all of them. I like this much better."

"Than ignoring or yelling at each other? I have to agree, though if they donít stop staring and whispering, Iím going to scream at them." Rodney raised his voice as he spoke so the last words were audible to much of the room.

John chuckled. "And this would be different from normal how?" He watched several scientists and even a few of the Marines suddenly decide they needed to be elsewhere.

"Oh shut up and get the snacks."

"Yes sir." John snapped off a salute and a grin before making his way up to the cook. A quick conversation and a couple of minutes wait and he was the proud possessor of a bowl of buttery popcorn.

"Drinks?" Rodney asked, smirking slightly as he took the bowl, snitching a handful as he did so.

"You couldnít have gotten them while I was waiting for the popcorn?" John shook his head. "Definitely high maintenance."

"Still recovering from a sprained ankle here!" Rodney protested. "Iím barely off crutches; it could give out at any time!"

John snorted. "You are so not milking that for months!" he warned laughingly.

"What milking? I almost broke my ankle because some idiot was too lazy to clean up their spill! I almost gave myself a concussion!"

"You slipped and sprained your ankle," Carson sighed from a nearby table, though he was wide-eyed as he looked from Rodney to John and back again.

"Great bedside manner, Carson," Rodney snapped around another mouthful of popcorn.

"Youíre in the mess hall cramming handfuls of popcorn into your mouth, not in bed," Carson retorted.

"Semantics," Rodney sniffed. "And are you going to get those drinks, Colonel, or am I going to die of dehydration while weíre watching the movie?"

"That depends on whether thereís going to be any popcorn left for me!"

"I promise to save you some; is that better?"

"And then youíll eat half of that too," John grumbled, but he was grinning again as he went back to get the drinks.

"And you have a problem with this?" Rodney called after him, though he was grinning when he looked back at Carson, who was staring at him. "What?"

"The colonel?" Carson almost squeaked.

"Yes, thatís the colonel. Do you need your vision checked?"

"It was the colonel?" Fortunately, Carson was sitting alone, and no one else was in earshot.

"What was the colonel? Honestly, Carson, Iím beginning to worry about you!"

Carson just shook his head in disbelief and continued staring. When John rejoined them a moment later, he frowned curiously. "Did I miss something?"

"Other than Carson perhaps needing some anti-psychotic medicine, noócan we go now?"

John nodded, pausing to look curiously over his shoulder when Carson muttered, "You should have taken the bloody things when I offered them."

"Donít ask, you really donít want to know," Rodney murmured.

"Okay," John said easily, knowing heíd find out eventually. They took the transporter back to the section where their rooms were located and made their way to Johnís room.

"He knows." Rodney stated once they were inside.

John looked startled. "Itís only been five minutes!"

"This is Carson; heís my doctor; he knows."

Johnís eyes widened as he remembered that Rodneyíd had himself tested, and he groaned. "Oh my God, donít tell me he thinks Iím carrying God knows what!"

"Well, he did tell us to use condoms," Rodney said seriously before snickering at the horrified look on Johnís face.

"Iím never going to be able to look him in the face again!"

Rodneyís laughter gained volume until he was howling and leaning against Johnís side for support, unable to speak.

John glared at him. "This is all your fault too!"

"Excuse me?!" Rodney sputtered. "And just why is Carson thinking youíre disease-ridden my fault?"

"Youíre the one who went to him for tests because you thought I gave you something!"

"Well, how was I supposed to know? I didnít tell him it was you!"

"Well, now he knows it was," John grumbled. "And Iíve never had unsafe sex in my entire life!"

"Except with me." Rodney sounded inordinately proud of that fact.

"That wasnít unsafe."

"If you make me turn sappy and romantic all the time with your touching declarations, I am going to get revenge," Rodney growled before pulling John in for a kiss that didnít last long since John was laughing.

"No wonder I donít want anyone else. Youíre one of a kind, Rodney."

"Thank youóI think."

"Get comfortable while I get the movie," John said, kissing Rodney lightly before grabbing his laptop to start the show.

"Ordering me around already, Colonel?" Rodney chuckled, unlacing his boots the moment he sat and rubbing his ankle.

"What do you mean, already? Iíve been doing that for three years." John pretended to think about it. "Oh, you mean you actually started listening to me?"

"I listen to you!" Rodney protested. "When you say to run."

"Usually." John set the laptop in position and leaned back against the pillows, automatically curving an arm over Rodneyís shoulders.

"Sometimes things are too important to leave," Rodney grumbled, squirming until he was more comfortable with his head resting against Johnís shoulder.

"The things will still be there. Some people are too important to lose."

"Again with the touching declarations."

John chuckled. "Would you prefer me to quote Shakespeare?"

"God no! You do that and Iím sending you to see Heightmeyer!"

"Oh, shut up and watch the movie."

Rodney chuckled and, for once, did what John said.

"Ah, Dr. Rhors." John regarded her with surprise. "Didnít you get the reassignment? Youíll be going out with Lt. Cadmanís team from now on."

"I thought there was some mistake," she stammered. "From everything I understood we were doing very well together."

"That may be, but my ankle is better, and Lt. Cadman is in need of a good scientist, so youíre hers," Rodney announced.

"Your performance has been exemplary, Naomi, but you knew this was never a permanent assignment. Dr. McKayís a member of my team."

"But, I thought..."

"Go see Lt. Cadman, Dr. Rhors," Rodney said in a tone that was gentle for him. "I think the two of you will get along well."

"We thank you for your assistance on our recent missions," Teyla said. "It has been a pleasure working with you."

"Yeah, we didnít have to save you, made things simpler," Ronon commented.

"Are you saying you have to rescue me all the time?!" Rodney sputtered.

"Only as often as you rescue us," John said soothingly.

"Itís not my fault I was shot in the ass!"

"Of course it isnít, Rodney," Teyla soothed. "And that time you saved us as well."

"Weíre all glad to have you back," John added.

Rodneyís smile was wide and genuine. "Itís good to be back."

"So letís do this." John stepped through the wormhole.

"Well, no oneís shooting at us yet," Rodney remarked as they emerged onto a planet that was a good deal colder than Atlantis.

"Always a plus," John said, looking around warily. "But saying that usually means someoneís going to start."

"Iím ready," Ronon announced, looking eager.

"The village is this way," Teyla said quickly, leading them away from the gate.

"I think you may be right; Ronon does enjoy fighting a little too much when itís our asses on the line too," John muttered to Rodney.

"Told you!"

"Yes, youíve told me many things, and theyíre all right."

Rodney beamed at that. "Exactly!"

John chuckled and shook his head, not noticing Teyla raise a brow at Ronon, who looked just as bemused by the situation before sliding his hand toward his gun when a group of people appeared at the edge of the woods.

"Welcome, traders," the woman in the lead called as they drew nearer. "We are the Fellian people, and we welcome all who wish to trade. I am Nateyra."

John glanced at Teyla, telling her to take the lead in the negotiation.

"Greetings, Nateyra, I am Teyla Emmagen; with me are Ronon Dex, John Sheppard, and Rodney McKay of the Lanteans. We come in peace and hope to develop relations with you which are beneficial for both of our peoples."

"Come, join us in our village, and we will discuss what we can trade. And friendship between our peoples." She smiled at John.

Rodneyís smile turned tight, and he hitched his pack higher onto his shoulder but didnít say anything.

John returned the smile, but he remained next to Rodney, and he briefly reached over to squeeze Rodneyís hand, causing Ronon to lightly nudge Teyla in the side. "Do you think...?"

Teyla nodded slowly. "Yes, I think perhaps."

As they entered the village, Nateyra moved closer to John. "You are welcome to remain after we complete our negotiations to visit."

"Thank you for the invitation, but I have someone waiting for me," John replied.

She nodded at that. "That is quite admirable, John Sheppard. I am sure your partner is very happy with you."

John grinned. "Iím working on it."

"I wish you both well then; please enjoy the hospitality of my people."

"Thank you. Iím sure we all will."

Rodney watched, somewhat wide-eyed as John walked back to him. "Youóyouó"

"I told you I wasnít going to do that anymore."

In a bit of a daze, Rodney nodded. "Tonight, Colonel," he whispered.

Johnís eyes widened. "Oh Christ, Rodney, how am I supposed to get through the rest of the day with a hard on?"

"The same way I am because I have to say you turning that woman down was the most erotic thing Iíve seen in my life."

John smiled crookedly. "I should probably be pissed that you didnít believe me till you had proof, but Iím not going to complain when I like where weíre at. Although I really wish I could kiss you right now."

"Me too," Rodney sighed, "but I really donít want these lovely people getting offended and throwing us in jailóin separate cells!"

"No, that would be bad. So Iíll just hold on to it till we get home, and then youíll get it with interest."

Rodney cleared his throat and shifted in place, feeling the back of his neck heat. "It should terrify me how much Iím looking forward to that."

"Just keep that in mind and try not to get distracted by anything. Iím a lot more fun than artifacts."

"So youíre going to activate when I touch you?" Rodney asked, giving a half-grin.

"Damn right!" John chuckled. "Youíll be amazed how easy I am to turn on."

"I could make an appropriately sarcastic comment, but it would probably lead to an argument, so Iíll just smile and nod."

"Hey, you have nothing to complain about since you apparently control my on-off switch," John said wryly.

Rodney smirked and patted John on the shoulder. "So now youíre a one-person-activated man? I like it."

"What a shock. But Iím glad youíre planning to do something about it."

"As soon as I can, Colonel. Now we should actually do this trading thing so we can get back and do it."

John looked over his shoulder. "I think Teylaís gone to do that without our interference."

"Probably smarter that way," Rodney mused. "Less chance of misunderstandings."

"Considering that weíre both thinking about things that we donít want to trade? Very much so." John nodded. "Though we should probably make an appearance."

"I think you already made an impression."

"Or maybe we can take a walk around and see how their crops are," John said hastily.

"Probably a much safer thing to doóas long as we donít find any more hidden bunkers." Rodney shuddered at the thought.

"Donít even joke about that!" John tightened his grip on his P90. "One set of Genii is more than enough."

"Not arguing that fact, Colonel, not in the least."

"You think theyíd notice if we went back now?" John said almost wistfully.

"Itís a nice thó" Rodney began before a large hand clapped down on both of their shoulders.

"Go back to the city," Ronon ordered. "Teyla and I can handle things here."

John leaned forward to look around Rononís bulk at Rodney. "Did he just send us to our room?"

"So it would seem," Rodney mused.

Ronon growled. "Keep wasting time and Teyla and I will be the ones to go back."

"Weíre going!" John exclaimed, catching hold of Rodneyís hand and starting toward the gate at a trot.

"Iím not going to be able to look them in the eyes in the morning," Rodney panted. "And if you donít slow down, Iím not going to have energy for anything other than collapsing!"

"Iím perfectly willing to do all the work," John said cheerfully, although he did slow to a walk. "The first time."

"Excuse me?! Iíd kind of like to participate in this!"

"Oh, you will," John promised.

"Good." Rodney looked over at John and smiled. "Very, very good, because I have a lot of ideas that Iíd like to put into practice."

John shivered. "I really like the sound of that."

They reached the stargate and paused to dial. As Rodney pressed the symbols, he chewed on his lower lip before blurting, "As you know, I donít have much experience with this at allóthe man on man thingóso while I have ideas, Iím not sure if all of them are feasible."

"Then weíll find out together," John said easily. "Weíll learn what we like."

"I wasnít saying that I didnít like what we did before; I did, very much!"

"And I was just saying that thereís nothing wrong with experimenting. Itís part of the fun of getting to know a lover."

The gate flashed into life, and Rodney nodded. "Yes, yes, thatís true, so shall we?"

"Oh, we shall. We very much shall." John followed Rodney through the gate, staying on his heels.

"Gentlemen? Is everything all right?" Their early return had Elizabeth out of her office and watching the gate with concern.

"Yes, yes," Rodney answered quickly. "Everythingís fine: Ronon and Teyla are handling the trade and decided the colonel and I were superfluous, so we decided to come back and make an early night of it."

Elizabethís eyebrows climbed, and there were several muffled snickers and money changing hands. "I see. Carry on then," she said in a choked tone.

"Thank you, Elizabeth," Rodneyís words followed them out of the gateroom and were followed by a round of relieved cheering.

"What was that about?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.

John had a very good idea and just shook his head. "You really donít want to know."

Rodney opened his mouth, then frowned. "Youíre probably right."

John nodded. "Think about what you want to try first instead," he suggested.

"Right now, the main thing is touching you and, um, kissing you."

"We can do that. Just as soon as we get to your room."

"Well, hurry up!" Rodney exclaimed, grabbing Johnís arm and dragging him into the transporter.

"You were the one telling me to slow down a few minutes ago," John reminded him, laughing.

"Well, now Iím telling you to hurry up! Get with the program, Colonel!"

"Even more demanding than I expected... and I expected quite a bit," John chuckled.

"Less talking, more walking!"

John saluted and walked a bit faster, starting to slide an arm around Rodneyís waist before he remembered where they were. Feeling the slight pressure that vanished, Rodney looked confused, then grumbled, "I hate your militaryís stupid rules."

"Sorry." And John really did look apologetic. "Iíll give you what I can. Is that going to be enough?"

"Itís more than I ever thought Iíd have." Rodney smiled at that and thought open his door, pushing John inside and scooting in after him.

John turned to face Rodney, sliding his arms around Rodneyís waist as the door shut. "Me too."

Rodney sighed and leaned into the embrace, wrapping his arms around Johnís waist and holding on tightly. "Feel so good," he whispered.

"Yeah, it does. Iím glad weíre doing this," John murmured.

Rodney nodded before lifting his head to meet Johnís gaze and smiling. "So am I," he breathed brushing his lips against Johnís.

"Less clothes and more skin would be good," John hinted broadly.

"That would mean letting go," Rodney grumbled.

"Only for a moment and believe me, touchingís a lot more fun without anything in the way."

"All right, all right, Iíll let go," Rodney grumbled, pulling back to shrug out of his jacket. John took immediate advantage by tugging Rodneyís shirt free of his pants and sliding his palms up under the fabric, making Rodney sputter. "I thought we both were getting naked!"

"Iím a man of no willpower," John chuckled, letting go to pull his own shirt over his head, leaving himself bare from the waist up aside from the dog tags nestled in his chest hair.

"And mine is crumbling by the second," Rodney groaned, reaching out to run his hands up Johnís chest, his thumbs brushing against Johnís nipples, making John gasp and reach for Rodneyís belt.

Rodney tried to stand still but wasnít totally successful as John worked the buckle open, then his pants while he was still exploring Johnís chest. John pushed the pants down over Rodneyís hips, leaving them to puddle around his ankles. Unwilling to move away from Rodneyís touch, he left them there for the moment, arching his back to press against Rodneyís hands.

"Weíre opposites," Rodney chuckled.

John blinked in confusion, trying to follow Rodneyís thought processes. "Huh?"

"You in your pants, me in my shirt."

"Ah, yes. Maybe we should get rid of the rest of it?"

"It would make things easier." As he spoke, Rodney shuffled backward to sit and pull off his shirt before undoing his boots and kicking them and his pants off.

John paused in the act of pushing his pants down, staring at Rodney hungrily. "God, you look good enough to eat."

"So youíre the big, bad wolf?" Rodney chuckled, though his voice was low and raspy as he watched John.

"And Iím going to eat you all up." John finished undressing and braced one knee on the edge of the bed, leaning over Rodney and pushing him back as they kissed.

"Red Riding Hood never knew what she missed," Rodney gasped as John rolled on top of him, their bare flesh sliding together.

"Iíll bet you taste better than she ever could." John ground down, moaning at the sensation of their cocks pressing together.

"Well, you could try me," Rodney offered.

"Good point." John kissed him hard before sliding downward, trailing kisses along Rodneyís chest, making him squirm in anticipation and push up on his elbows so that he could watch Johnís progress. John raised his head to grin, then slid a little lower to nuzzle Rodneyís erection before licking a stripe along the shaft.

Rodney groaned and shivered as air moved over his now moist skin, turning it cool.

"You taste so good, better than I imagined," John murmured before sealing his lips around the tip and suckling.

Rodney could only whimper in answer.

John hummed in pleasure at the sound and took more of Rodney into his mouth, and Rodneyís whimpers turned into full-throated moans. John slid even lower, sucking hard to get more of Rodneyís flavor.

Rodney gasped and bucked upward, his whole body tensing, then shuddering as he came, then collapsed back onto the bed, flushing slightly. "Sorry," he muttered.

John raised his head to stare at him. "What on earth for?"

"Iím not usually this, ermm, quick off the gun," he mumbled.

"I took it as a compliment," John said, nuzzling him before moving upward to kiss Rodney, who frowned slightly at the taste of himself in Johnís mouth, then decided he liked it and threaded his fingers through Johnís hair, kissing him hungrily.

John explored Rodneyís mouth, learning his taste and what made Rodney squirm and moan. "All of you tastes good," he panted some time later, finally releasing Rodneyís mouth to nibble his jaw line and earlobe.

"IóIíd like to taste you too," Rodney panted, his hands still roaming over Johnís back and sides.

John immediately rolled them over so that he was sprawled on his back with Rodney on top of him. "Help yourself."

"Once I recover!"

"Something to look forward to. And this is good now," John said, stroking Rodneyís back.

"So you actually like the cuddling part?"

John stilled, surprised by the realization. "Yeah, I do." He smiled wryly. "I guess Iíll be trying a lot of new things."

Rodney had to laugh at that. "Trust me, you arenít the only one."

"I do, you know."

"You do what?"

"Trust you." Rodney shifted slightly, and John bit back a moan at the delicious friction on his erection.

Rodney gave a crooked grin at that and nodded. "Iím glad."

"Me too. This is good. You and me, I mean." John rocked up against Rodney, seeking pressure on his hard cock.

"Why am I thinking youíd think it was better if I did something about that?" Rodney asked, squirming to rub himself against Johnís erection.

"Because youíre the smartest man in two galaxies," John gasped out.

"Damn right." Rodney leaned in to kiss John as he slid a hand between them, grasping the other manís cock and beginning to stroke it as he sucked on Johnís tongue.

"Mine," John rasped into Rodneyís mouth, pushing into his grip. "So good."

"Damn well better remember that," Rodney gasped, nipping at Johnís mouth and chin as he stroked him, and John nodded jerkily, his hands grabbing at Rodneyís shoulders to ground himself.

"Taste, feel so good..." Rodney continued to whisper the words as he tightened his hand around Johnís cock, wanting to feel him come.

John groaned, his hips rising. "God, Rodney," he moaned, his eyes opening just as he tensed and came. Rodney reared back enough to watch him, his teeth closing on his own lower lip as he sucked in a breath.

John slid his hand up, curling it around the back of Rodneyís neck. "Rodney," he whispered again.

"John," Rodney whispered back, dragging his hand from between them and giving his fingers a tentative lick. Watching him, John groaned and yanked him into a deep, messy kiss, and when Rodney finally pulled back, he was grinning.

"Okay," John said, smiling wryly, "you get to tell me Iím an idiot for taking so long to realize."

"Now would I do that?" Rodney asked innocently.

John snorted. "You donít do innocent well."

"Youíre one to talk."

"I wasnít trying." John raised his head to kiss Rodney again.

"Good thing, Iíd never believe it," Rodney chuckled.

"Ha ha. Youíll have to stop calling me Kirk now," John suddenly realized. "Riker maybe. Ha, I can call you Imzadi."

Rodney pushed back at that and glared down at him. "Try it and youíll be celibate."

"You donít want to be my soul mate?"

Rodney blinked at that, frowning slightly at the same time as he stared down at John. John stared back.

"What?"

"Soul mate?"

"Okay, so itís a sappy, chick flick word, but..."

"Soul mate?"

John started looking sulky. "I guess not."

"No, no!" Rodney said quickly, patting Johnís chest to reassure them both. "I justóitís not something I ever considered hearing myself called."

"Oh. Well, itís not really something I ever expected to hear myself say either," John admitted. "But you know as well as I do that weíve worked since the day we met."

"Something everyone here should appreciate," Rodney said wryly.

"You mean because we manage to keep each other alive long enough to save everyone else about once a month?"

"One of the reasons," Rodney murmured, continuing to stroke his hand over Johnís chest.

"We have other reasons." John smiled at him.

"Mm, yes we do," Rodney sighed, settling down half on, half beside John.

"Iím really going to have to remember to thank Carson for trying to shoot me with a drone."

"Weíll buy him a bottle of Scotch the next time we get back to Earth."

"Good idea. Though I think I came out ahead."

"Better than I did?"

John nodded. "I got a whole new life, my career back, and you. Yeah, I came out on top."

Rodney smirked at that. "Well, when you put it that way..."

"The science teamís going to kill me if I keep feeding your ego."

"And this should matter to either of us, why?"

John laughed, hugging him. "You really donít give a damn what anyone thinks of you, do you?"

Rodney shook his head at that. "No, there is one person who Iíve always given a damn about what they thought."

"Your sister?"

"Are you being deliberately obtuse?"

"Iím trying not to take anything for granted."

"Itís you, all right? Itís always been you." Rodney flushed somewhat as he admitted the fact.

"Likewise," John replied quietly, one hand stroking Rodneyís back.

"Really?"

"Yeah. You... youíre it for me."

Rodney smiled at that and leaned in, brushing his lips against Johnís. "Thisótonightówasnít about you turning that woman down; you know that, right?"

"Well, it is what finally convinced you I was serious enough to take a chance on me," John pointed out. "But no, this isnít about anyone else, just us. Finally."

"Finally," Rodney echoed, trailing a fingertip over the chain of Johnís dog tags. "Just us, no one else."

John raised a hand to cover Rodneyís, holding it against his chest. "It was worth waiting for."

Rodney sighed and relaxed against him, nuzzling his shoulder. "Of course, there is more to look forward to..."

"And a long time to enjoy it all in."

"Now if only we could convince the Wraith to leave us alone."

"Make love, not war?" John laughed.

"Sounds like a good motto to me," Rodney shrugged.

"I want to be there when you suggest it to Caldwell."

"So he can ask to join in?" Rodney snorted.

John made gagging noises. "Thatís really disgusting, Rodney. Next youíll suggest Kavanagh!"

Rodney snickered at that, then broke into loud laughter, rolling onto his back and holding his sides.

"Ass," John said affectionately.

"A part of me you seem to like."

"Well, I like pretty much every part of you, but I have a special liking for that one." John stroked the part in question, making Rodney sigh and press back against his hand.

"Perhaps, perhaps you could get better acquainted with it once weíve both recovered?" Rodney suggested.

"I think that might be your best idea yet," John said, fingers lightly kneading the firm muscle.

Rodney gasped at that and squirmed again. "Keep that up and it may be sooner than you thought."

"Is that supposed to be a bad thing?"

"For the health of my heart," Rodney laughed.

"I guess Iíd better not wear you out on the first day."

"Youíre really listening to me?" Rodney asked, flabbergasted.

"I always listen to you!" John protested.

"Yes, but you never agree that easily!"

"Yeah, well, as far as I know, there are no Rodney-repair shops, so Iíd better take good care of you."

Rodney paused at that, then pulled John into a tight hug. "You do, John. You do."

John returned the hug, holding Rodney close. "We make a good team."

Rodney nodded and nuzzled Johnís throat. "Of course we do; weíre both brilliant."

"And humble. Donít forget humble." John stroked Rodneyís hair lazily.

"That word doesnít enter my vocabulary," Rodney muttered.

"Iíve noticed," John chuckled. "Everyone whoís ever met you since the day you learned to talk has noticed." He kissed the gathering frown away. "I may be crazy, but I like it."

"It keeps you guessing," Rodney offered.

John shrugged. "Itís part of your personality, and I like you."

Rodney gave a crooked grin. "Thatís good to hear."

"I hope it wasnít news to you."

"I knew you liked me, but not thatóoh my god, Iím stopping now before I turn into a pubescent girl."

John burst into laughter. "Itís kinda cute. Not to mention flattering that I reduced the Ďsmartest man in two galaxiesí to that."

Rodney snorted at that. "Only you would get turned on by that."

"Only you would get turned on by math," John retorted.

"As if you mind."

John grinned. "Iím looking forward to whispering formulas in your ear at the morning briefings."

"You wouldnít!" Rodney exclaimed before seeing the expression in Johnís eyes. "Oh fuck, you would."

"Why should I be the only one sitting through the meeting with a hard on?"

"You haveóoh my god!"

Johnís eyebrows rose. "What?"

"You really sit through meetings with an erection?"

"For the last while? Damn right!"

"In Elizabethís meetings?" Rodney looked dumbstruck.

"In Elizabethís meetings with you sitting beside me where I could smell you or across from me so that all I could see was the way you lick your lips and made me want to be the one doing that."

Rodneyís eyes widened at that. "You were smelling me?" He whimpered as he spoke.

"Well, I wasnít exactly admitting any of that to myself at the time, but yeah."

"If you make me come in my pants from saying things like that, Iím going to kill you."

"If you hold on, Iíll drag you into a supply closet or empty office after the meeting and fuck you right there," John promised, leaning in to nibble on the curve at the base of Rodneyís throat.

"M-meeting? What meeting?"  Rodney gasped.

"The one we were talking about," John chuckled. "The briefing that weíll both have to carry files to so that we can hold them in front of ourselves on our way to that empty space. Unless you want me to just bend you over the conference table and fuck you right there?" he rasped, dragging his tongue over Rodneyís throat.

Rodneyís only response was a whimper, and John chuckled again. "God, Iíd love to do that."

"Howóhow about we get through this time first, then worry about meetings and tables?"

"I thought you wanted a while to recover?" John teased, sliding a hand down to stroke the obviously recovered length of Rodneyís cock.

Rodney stared at him in confusion, then managed a gasping laugh. "It seems you bring out the best in meóor the worst."

"Oh, definitely the best. The only question now is do you want to fuck me first or me to fuck you?"

"This time, I want you. I want to feel you in me knowing itís real."

John raised a hand to cup Rodneyís cheek. "Itís real," he promised, his voice husky. He hesitated before adding, "I am clean, you know. Iíve never taken the risk."

"Yes, I gathered that from my blood test," Rodney commented before smiling and kissing John gently. "And even without it, Iíd believe you. I want to feel you, John."

John groaned and kissed him hungrily while shifting over Rodney again, settling between his legs.

"I um, Iím not sure I have anything..."

"Hand lotion? Hair conditioner? Hell, gun oil?"

"I do not want gun oil up my ass!" Rodney nearly shrieked. "Hand lotion. Thereís some on the desk."

Trying not to laugh, John kissed him again before getting up to retrieve the lotion. It only took a moment before he was stretched out over Rodney once again, the bottle on the bed next to them. John ran his hands along Rodneyís arms, frowning at the tension in the muscles, but he didnít make the mistake of asking Rodney if he was sure. Instead, he set about relaxing his lover with long, slow kisses that explored every inch of his mouth.

Rodney moaned, arching up under Johnís weight, his arms and legs closing around his body to draw him closer, and John took advantage of the shift in position to slide a hand over Rodneyís ass, lightly fingering him.

"Do it," Rodney gasped, squirming under Johnís weight.

"Soon," John promised, nibbling his jaw line while coating the fingers of one hand with the lotion and slowly pushing one into Rodney.

"God, feels good," Rodney panted while nuzzling at Johnís jaw, kissing the salty flesh there.

"Damn good," John agreed, pulling his finger free only to slide it back in accompanied by another, and he didnít stop until he found Rodneyís prostate and started toying with it.

"Oh fuck, oh John, that feels..." Rodney squirmed beneath him, his erection rubbing against their bellies.

"Itís supposed to," John replied smugly, continuing to tease him while watching Rodneyís expression avidly.

"Veryóahóvery amusing!"

"Very hot," John corrected, sliding down to lick a droplet of precome from the head of Rodneyís cock, causing the other man to gasp and writhe beneath him.

"God," John groaned, hastily coating his erection with the lotion and fitting himself between Rodneyís legs. He gazed down into the incredible blue of Rodneyís eyes as he pushed forward against the resistance of the tight muscle until he finally slid into Rodney.

"Good, Iím good," he said quickly, stroking his hands over Johnís arms.

"Youíre fucking amazing," John rasped.

"Of course I am, and likewise," Rodney gasped, tightening down on Johnís cock as he experimented with movements.

"Rodney!" John gasped and lowered his head to kiss him while matching Rodneyís rhythm.

"What?" Rodney asked, his brows furrowing with worry even as he gasped for breath.

"God, not going to last long if you keep that up," John panted, reaching up to lace his fingers through Rodneyís.

"Oh. Oh! Thatís goodóI mean, not that you arenít going to last, but that you like it."

John rolled his eyes and kissed Rodney to stop the flow of words. "Stop worrying," he said a little later. "I like you, and Iím not going anywhere."

"Well, thereís no reason to be so bossy about it," Rodney sniffed before gasping as John pushed inside him again.

"Only you would complain now," John half-groaned, half-chuckled.

"What do you mean by that?!"

"Could you forget my attitude and concentrate on this?!" John punctuated the demand with a thrust against Rodneyís prostate.

"This, yeah, right, itís goodóno, itís great!" Rodney groaned, arching upward.

"Yeah, we are," John panted, lowering himself a fraction so that his belly rubbed over Rodneyís erection with every stroke into him.

"God, John, feel so good," Rodney moaned.

"You too, the best." John forced his eyes open to meet Rodneyís gaze, wanting to be sure that Rodney believed him.

"Soóahh..." Rodney whimpered as he came, his whole body tightening down around Johnís, making John groan and thrust harder into Rodney, gasping Rodneyís name with each thrust until he came as well, buried as deep inside Rodneyís body as he could get.

They lay there, wrapped around each other, gasping for breath, still shivering with the aftereffects of their climaxes. "I may never move again," Rodney breathed.

"Sure you will. Someday you need to do me." John nuzzled Rodneyís throat.

"I think I could be convinced to give it a try," Rodney sighed.

"Gee, donít do me any favors," John laughed.

"That was sarcasm, Colonel."

"Which I knew or I wouldnít be laughing."

Rodney chuckled at that and tangled his fingers in Johnís hair to pull him in for a kiss. "Good."

"You need to figure out how to get us connecting rooms so we can do this every night and not have to sneak away in the middle of the night."

"Iím sure I can manage that."

"I wish we didnít have to, but until the military changes its policies..." John shrugged, kissing Rodneyís shoulder.

Rodney nodded and stroked a hand down Johnís back. "Iíd rather deal with that than them trying to send you homeónot that it would work."

"No turning the SGC into a mushroom cloud."

"So, ever thought of changing citizenship?"

"I donít think the Air Force would be very understanding about it. But if it comes to that, yeah. And yes to what would go with it too."

Rodney blinked at that, then broke into a wide smile. "Excellentónot that I want you to have an issue with your military, but... Yes."

John smiled as well. "Did we just get engaged? And who gets the diamond?"

"Iíll take a ZPM instead," Rodney murmured.

"If I find one, itís all yours."

"Mmm, my hero."

"I like the sound of that."

"That may be but if you expect me to appreciate you, it may have to wait a while."

"Thatís probably a good thing since I donít think I can roll over yet."

Rodney chuckled at that and shifted enough to let his legs slide down around Johnís thighs. "At this point, Iím not sure Iím going to be able to move for a week."

"Iím willing to be selfless and lie here till you can."

"Such generosity."

"Thatís me, Mr. Generosity. Iím known for it. And itís all yours now."

"And I intend to be utterly selfish regarding it and you."

"I never thought Iíd say this, but I really like the sound of that too."

Rodney was silent for a while, lying there with his eyes closed stroking Johnís back. "So, how do you want to handle this in public?" he finally asked.

"Since the Daedalus isnít here at the moment, I think weíre good to test the waters and see how people react. Weíll have to hide it around Caldwell when he gets back though."

"That makes sense; one step at a time."

John nodded, finally shifting a little to the side to let Rodney breathe more easily. "Hopefully itíll go well and we can be open about it when itís just the expedition members."

"If it helps, I can cow my staff into being sublimely happy for us."

John snorted a laugh. "I really donít think thatíll be necessary."

"Weíre both happy; thatís really all I care about."

"Exactly. We finally got what we wanted, and weíre good."

"Just good?" Rodney asked, his arched eyebrow going well with his wry tone.

"Great, extraordinary, brilliant, superb, stupendous..."

"Much, much better."

"You really are a nut, you know that?"

"And you like me, so what does that make you?"

"Happy."

"Me too."

Tracing aimless patterns on Rodneyís shoulder, John smiled crookedly. "Does that mean youíre going to stop terrorizing people?"

"The fact that I love you is not going to change my personality, John," Rodney snorted.

"Good." John turned his head slightly to kiss Rodney. "I fell in love with you just the way you are. Bastard," he added with a chuckle.

"Cry me a river, Colonel," Rodney murmured before kissing him again.

"Somehow Iím not sensing a lot of sympathy here," John said against Rodneyís lips, trying not to grin.

"That would be because youíre not getting any."

"Good thing thatís not what I want from you."

"Now thereís a shocking statement," Rodney chuckled.

"You mean you already figured out that Iím trying to get into your pants? And here I thought I was being so subtle."

"In this matter youíre about as subtle as I am in most others," Rodney snorted.

"That subtle? Damn, Iíll have to try harder. I wouldnít want you to have any doubts."

Rodney sighed and shook his head. "I doubt that could ever happen, Colonel."

John grinned. "Me too," he said before giving Rodney a quick, hard kiss.

"A very good answer, unless you wanted to get booted out of my bed."

"Considering that I only just got here, no, I think Iíll avoid that. I like it here."

"Enough to want to stay." It wasnít a question, and Rodney smiled, and he pulled John in for a kiss.

"Exactly," John murmured a little while later, his lips curving into a smug smile against Rodneyís. "Iíve got you now, and Iím keeping you."

"Do you hear me complaining about this?"

"Actually, I think youíre plotting ways to stamp ĎProperty of Dr. Rodney McKayí on me," John laughed.

"I may have to, to keep the village hussies from trying to drag you off."

John shook his head. "Nope. I have what I want right here. The only one who gets to drag me off now is you."

"Sounds perfect, and for the record, it wasnít you I was worried about, but the hussies."

Johnís smile widened again. "Thatís good to hear. And also for the record, I was letting you know that Iím better trained and outweigh them, so Iím not going to be dragged anywhere I donít want to go." After a momentís consideration of everything that happened to them, he amended, "At least not by any Ďhussiesí."

Rodney gave a wry grin at the last. "And try to limit the getting dragged away by homicidal natives as well."

"I never plan on that," John protested with a faint smile of his own.

"Just like I didnít plan on getting shot in the ass that time."

"Letís both try to avoid those things then. I donít enjoy either of them."

"Like I did?" Rodney demanded.

"Well, you did laugh your ass off when the Livanians dragged me off for that ceremony that involved a mud puddle..."

"And could you blame me? You looked like a swamp monster once they were done with you!"

"Which you felt the need to point out to everyone and then describe to everyone back in Atlantis!"

"Itís not my fault that anthropologist took pictures and that they ended up on the intranet!"

"Right, you didnít offer him your last chocolate bar to do it," John snorted.

"It wasnít a chocolate bar," Rodney protested.

"Great, you traded sexual favors to make fun of me?" John was trying not to laugh, something that grew more difficult when Rodneyís eyebrows rose and his mouth gaped like a fish. "Hmm, not sex either, huh? What did you do to him?"

"And lose my best bribery tool?"

"I thought you saved the best ones for me," John protested, giving Rodney the puppy dog eyes.

"God, Iím going to be ill," Rodney groaned.

"Not in the bed!"

"Of course not!" Rodney looked at John strangely.

"So since we are in bed, there are a lot more fun things to do."

"Havenít you ever heard of recovery time?" Rodney laughed.

"Waste of time," John said airily.

"When I have a heart attack, call Carson."

"Iíll just give you the kiss of life."

"Youíre a nympho!" Rodney laughed.

"Arenít you lucky?" John grinned at him.

"In the ĎIím going to die, but with a smile on my faceí way," Rodney laughed.

"I aim to please. And itíd better be a coffin built for two since Iím nowhere near done with you."

"Please tell me you arenít planning on doing depraved things to my corpse!" Rodney laughed.

"Iíd much rather do depraved things to your live body," John replied. "So no dying, with a smile or otherwise."

"You have no idea how glad I am to hear that," Rodney grinned.

John laughed. "No weird or illegal fetishes, I promise."

"Iím glad to hear it, now should we eat or nap?"

"Sleep," John decided. "And when we wake up, we can do it all over again."

Rodney nodded at that and settled himself more comfortably in the bed, half sprawled over John. "You know, eventually someoneís going to come looking for us," he murmured.

"I have a gun," John muttered, "and Iím not afraid to use it." His arm curved over Rodneyís waist, resting comfortably as he closed his eyes.

"Good," Rodney mumbled, smiling as he drifted off to sleep.

END

 

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