Notes: Ori: I think Rina was watching Top Models...
Rina: Nope, it was
Project Runway
. *g* Iím a reality show slut and proud of it!

The Clothes Make the Man

Orithain and Rina

April 2006

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

"What do you mean ĎFord has gone over to Kavanaghí?" Rodney McKayís tone was as cold as the coffee in the Styrofoam cup in his hand.

Elizabeth Weir reached out and gently took the cup from his hand before he crushed it. "I got a call from his agent this morning," she said calmly. "Apparently Genii Designs offered him enough money that it made breaking our contract easy for him."

"Damn him, damn them both!" Rodney snarled, banging his hand on the window and staring out blindly at the construction going on across the street from his design studio. "Where the hell am I going to get a new male model a month before the show? Theyíre all booked!"

"You could always pick an unknown," Laura Cadman, one of his models, chuckled from the next window, where she was watching the construction as well... or at least the construction workers. "Personally, Iíd be willing to sit up and beg for some of those guys."

Rodney sniffed and glanced over at her. "Trust me, Laura, if you walk by them dressed in one of my creations, theyíll be the ones sitting up and begging..." He paused and looked down at the site againóor more precisely at the men working the site.

"Oh dear, Rodneyís thinking; weíre in trouble."

"Rodney, I was kidding! The sides of beef are pretty, but theyíre not GQ cover material!" Laura gaped at him.

"According to whom?"

"You when you looked at last monthís cover!"

Elizabeth smothered a laugh.

Rodney sniffed and glanced back at the women. "That was because last monthís cover was a side of beef; Radek, back me up here!"

"He would have looked better hanging from a meat hook," Radek agreed. "Bulky beef isnít my idea of appealing. Though that oneís not bad, for a man," he said, leaning closer to the window.

"Which one?" Elizabeth asked, leaning closer.

"The one with the hair," Rodneyís comment was a statement, not a question.

"The only one who doesnít look like heís on steroids," Katie Brown murmured.

"The one I watch while having lunch!" Laura laughed.

"He seems to be of a similar size to Aiden," Radek mused.

"Stay here," Rodney commanded as he turned and stomped out of the studio and down the stairs to the street.

"He looks much better than Aiden," Laura corrected. "Mmm, I hope Rodney brings him back. I wouldnít mind crawling all over him."

"For all you know, heís married with four children," Radek observed as he watched Rodney make his way across the site toward his target.

"Now that would be a crying shame," Laura purred, moving toward him.

"Stop hunting Radek," Lorne, Rodneyís one remaining male model, said, catching her around the waist and drawing her away. "Look, Rodneyís almost there."

"I wonder if I should have 911 on standby," Elizabeth sighed.

"You there, no, not you, cue-ball, Iím talking to your friend with the hair."

John Sheppard turned around and eyed the crazy man whoíd walked onto the site without any safety gear. Granted, they were in the area where the workers usually ate, which was why he wasnít wearing his own hardhat, but it was still pretty stupid. "You shouldnít be here without safety boots and a hardhat."

"Good, then youíll come with me to talk." Rodney turned and picked his way out of the lot without looking back.

John watched him walk away and looked over at his friend Ronon Dex. "We really need better security on this site."

The larger man snickered around his mouthful of food. "You attract Ďem no matter where we go, Shep."

"Heís not really my type. I prefer my men a lot less abrasive." But John glanced over at the receding back, wondering if the guy would ever notice that John hadnít heeled and what heíd do when he did.

"You prefer your men on their backs," Ronon chuckled, leaning over to watch the intruder. "And he still hasnít noticed that you arenít coming."

"No, I think I was supposed to follow like a well-trained dog. Heís definitely a fruitcake."

"But maybe heís a rich one; think Teyla would mind if I offered to be his boy-toy?"

"I think sheíd rip your balls off and feed them to you."

Ronon grinned. "Thatís why I love her, and look, heís coming back."

"Oh wonderful." John waited until he got closer, then called, "Iím not a dog, and I donít heel. Now who are you and what do you want?"

"I was hoping to have this conversation in a more civilized place..."

"Whatís wrong with this place?" Ronon asked, looking around.

"My mother told me not to talk to strangers," John said virtuously.

"Fine, Iím Rodney McKay, happy?"

"Pleased to meet you," John replied, not giving his own name. "Now what the hell do you want?"

"To see you walk." Rodney ignored the other man who was now laughing so hard he had almost fallen off the picnic table they were sitting on.

One eyebrow shot up, and John watched McKay warily. "You escaped from a mental ward, didnít you?"

"Sometimes it seems that way." Rodney cut a glance toward his studio windows and glowered at the sight of his staff and models staring down at him.

"Is there someone we can call to come and get you?"

"Fine, obviously Iíve got to explain this in simple words. Iím a clothing designer, and Iím looking for a model as one of mine defected to the enemy."

"I can pretty much guarantee heís not here," John said, trying not to grin as guy grew more irritated.

"Is he always this obtuse?" Rodney asked the other man.

"Whatís obtuse mean?"

John had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. "Look, Mackey, there arenít any models here, so why donít you run along before you get hurt."

"Itís McKay, not Mackey," Rodney snapped, "and models can be created. Apparently, the women in my employee find you attractive."

"How much does the gig pay?" Ronon asked, grinning.

"Iím not going to prance around in my underwear. The pay canít be good enough!"

"I design clothes, not lingerie."

John snorted. "The stuff in magazines isnít clothes. Theyíre costumes for rich people with more money than sense."

"Not that youíre judgmental or anything," Rodney sniffed.

"How much would you pay him to wear them?" Ronon asked.

"Iím not looking for a pimp, Ronon!"

"You keep saying if you had the money, youíd fix up that bike of yours," the larger man shrugged.

"You know what, never mind, Iíd put a chimp in my designs before you," Rodney snapped, turning on his heel and stalking away.

John leaned back, bracing his arms on the table behind him and crossing his ankles. "So whyíd you come over here in the first place then?"

"Because I thought a sane person would be interested in my offer!" Rodney shouted without looking back.

"You never actually made one," John pointed out, deciding heíd baited the man enough for the moment.

"If you want to hear it, come to my studio," Rodney waved a hand toward the window where the others were still watching. "If I stay out here any longer, Iím going to have an asthma attack."

"Aw hell. Oh well, I didnít need to have lunch today. Iíll be back before the breakís over," John said to Ronon before starting across the site, finally following McKay.

"If they take pictures of you in your underwear, bring me a copy for the bulletin board!"

John flipped him off without looking back. "This better be good, Mackey; youíre keeping me from my lunch."

"McKay," Rodney growled.

"You look more like a Mackey to me."

"I need this like I need a hole in the head." They reached the building lobby, and Rodney pressed the elevator button, rubbing his bruised finger afterward.

"Itís really not necessary to stab your finger through the wall to get the elevator, you know."

"Iím pretending itís your head."

John snickered. "Exactly what kind of pictures do you take?"

"I donít take the pictures; I create the clothes; what part of designer do you not understand?"

John shrugged. "You mean you didnít bring me here for my brains?"

Rodney turned and stared at him. "What are you talking about?"

Laughing, John leaned back. "Damn, youíre easy to get going. So what kind of clothes do you design?"

"It would be easier to show you than explain." The elevator arrived, and Rodney stepped inside, hitting the button for the top floor as soon as the other man stepped inside. "And just what is your name?"

"I was wondering if you were ever going to ask. John Sheppard. Weíre not going to be raided or anything, are we?"

"By whom? This is fashion, not a sex shop."

"Thatís what you say, but how do I know itís true?"

"Yes, I saw you out of the window and decided to lure you to my lair to slip you a roofie and have my way with you," Rodney snorted. "Sorry, Mr. Sheppard, thatís a little too melodramatic for my tastes."

"Sounds like a good movie of the week though," John decided. "Youíre an interesting man, Mackey."

"Try Rodney, is that simpler?" The doors opened on the open-area loft and the inquisitive faces of the others.

"I like Mackey."

"Yum," Laura purred, starting toward him.

"He calls Rodney by that name and is still alive?" Radek murmured to Lorne.

"Laura, keep your hands to yourself for now, will you?" Rodney ordered, shooing them out of the way.

"Sorry, beautiful, youíre not put together the right way for me to be interested," John said easily.

"Doesnít it figure," she sighed, "but weíd still take pretty pictures together."

"Radek, get the shots from last seasonís collection. John here is worried I run a sex shop or something."

"Not really," John confided to the others, "but his eyes are gorgeous when heís pissed."

Radek burst into laughter. "You definitely have to stay."

"Iíve changed my mind; Iím going to go get Chewbacca down there for this experiment."

"He wouldnít fit in the clothes," Radek pointed out with a grin.

"Is he straight?" Laura wanted to know.

"Yup, but very taken. And his ladyís the owner of a security company; she used to be Secret Service."

"Of course he is," she sighed.

"Would you walk across the room for us, Mr....?"

"Sheppard," Rodney sighed. "John Sheppard."

"Why do I suddenly feel like James Bond?" John looked around, raised his eyebrows when he found everyone staring at him, shrugged, and walked across the room.

"Are you sure youíre not bi?" Laura asked wistfully, making him burst into laughter.

Rodney held up a finger before turning and hurrying toward another room.

"He had an idea." Elizabeth walked over and held out a hand. "Elizabeth Weir, I handle the finances here. Your admirer is Laura Cadman, and the two gentlemen are Radek Zelenka and Lorne. The other, much quieter redhead is Katie Brown." She nodded at each in turn.

They all waved at him, and he smiled briefly. "Do you people often grab people off the street?"

"This was extenuating circumstances, and I donít think any of us believed Rodney would go through with it," she laughed.

"Put these on," Rodney announced, coming back into the room, holding a suit.

"Gee, Mackey, if you wanted me to undress, you just had to say so."

Rodney rolled his eyes and dumped the suit into Johnís arms. "Back there."

After John disappeared, Radek grinned at the designer. "And here I always thought your name was McKay."

"Do you want to see if you can fly, Radek? Get the camera so we can get some shots."

Snickering, Radek went to get the camera that Rodney would want. A moment later, John came out, looking very different in the suit and shirt open at the throat.

"Oh man, that is so unfair," Laura moaned.

After looking him over with a critical eye, Rodney made a few adjustments to the fit and stepped back. "Walk," he commanded.

"Do it well and you get a cookie," Lorne chuckled.

"I prefer a bone."

"Walk!"

"Woof." John glared at Rodney briefly before sauntering across the room.

"Turn," Rodney called.

Sighing, John did as ordered and walked back toward McKay.

"No, no, not that way, 360 degrees!"

"What am I, a turn table?" John stopped and turned in a slow circle, feeling all their eyes on him.

"To do runway modeling, you have to be able to sell from every angle," Radek explained in between taking shots.

"Runway modeling? Whoa, hang on there!" John stopped and looked from Radek to McKay. "What exactly are you expecting from me?"

"Why would I have had you walk if it wasnít to do runway work?"

"How the hell should I know? I was just minding my own business, trying to have lunch, when you appeared out of nowhere. Hell, I couldnít even have told you that there were male runway models."

"Well, there are," Lorne smirked.

"A fashion show necessitates runway models," Rodney explained less than patiently. "You seem to be able to walk without falling over, so I believe youíd survive."

"Iím told I mastered walking at nine months," John replied. "I can sometimes even talk at the same time."

"And weíre duly impressed."

"This is all very flattering and all, but I already have a job that I canít afford to lose. Paying the rent is kind of a necessity, you know."

"Trust me, this gig pays enough to pay your rent into next year," Laura laughed.

"I find that pretty hard to believe, not to mention that Iíd still be without a job if I walked off this one without notice."

"Elizabeth, show him the general contract."

"Youíre not real good at listening, are you, Mackey?"

Rodney sniffed. "At least I can get your name correct."

"What can I say." John shrugged. "You look like a Mackey to me."

"He has a point," Radek chuckled, earning a glare from Rodney.

"Two actually. On his ears. Are you part Vulcan?" Katie chuckled warmly when John rolled his eyes.

"My ears are not pointy," he said in the emphatic, long-suffering tone of one whoís made the same statement often.

"Why donít you take a look at the contract, Mr. Sheppard," Elizabeth offered quickly.

"If I look at it, will you all go away?" Sighing, John took the document and glanced at it. Then his eyes widened, and he started reading in earnest. "Is this for real?"

Rodney walked over and glanced at the paper in Johnís hand. "Yes, thatís correct."

"Fuck, what exactly am I selling you for this much money?"

Radek snickered. "Your soul."

"For this much, I think youíre getting my soul, my ass, and everything in between."

Radek snickered more loudly. "Careful, there. He might take you up on the ass."

"Oh ha ha," Rodney growled. "I donít pay for it; thatís disgusting."

John eyed him curiously. "Fortunately, I donít sell it."

"Iím thrilled to hear it; now, do you want the job or not?"

"How long would I be committing to?"

"At least three months, Iíd prefer six, what with the print ads."

"You get to travel a lot," Lorne offered.

"And youíre going to pay me this much," John brandished the contract, "for six months of work?"

"Yes, Iím going to pay you this much for six months of work," Rodney parroted back. "Is there a problem?"

"I think youíre nuts, but okay. Thisíll be a good amount to have in the bank." John shrugged. "Anyone got a pen?"

Laura made a show of searching her cleavage for one, then shrugged. "Sorry, nope."

"Here you are." Elizabeth handed one over. "Though you may want to have a lawyer look at it first."

"I donít exactly keep one on retainer. Though Iíll want it spelled out in the contract that itís for six months before I sign. Any problems with that, Mackey?"

"Fine, six months it is." Rodney took the contract and the pen and scribbled the annotation on the side, initialing and dating it. "Is that better?"

"Much. Iím not really into indentured servitude." John initialed the change as well, then signed and dated both originals of the contract before handing one back to Elizabeth.

"Please forgive me if this comes out wrong," Radek said, "but you donít sound like a construction worker."

"What, Iím supposed to grunt and reply in monosyllables?"

"That would go along with the stereotype," Katie replied, chuckling warmly.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I wasnít actually born fully grown as a construction worker."

"Thatís lovely to hear; now instead of playing share life stories, why donít we discuss getting Mr. Sheppard to the salon."

"Salon?" John asked warily. "Youíre not cutting my hair. And itís John."

"Of course not, but it needs to be styled and your hands..." Rodney grabbed Johnís free hand to inspect it. "Pitiful."

"He does work for a living, you know," Radek commented.

"Thereís nothing wrong with my hands." John sounded rather insulted.

"Oh yes, I want my silks ruined by the living sandpaper here."

"Gee, I guess youíll just have to dress me then."

"I think Iíll go file this." Elizabeth hastily vanished into the small office.

"Oh, donít worry; Iíll be dressing you enough in the near future."

"Kinky," John purred. "I knew you liked me, Mackey."

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I donít sleep with my models."

"Thatís why your male models are usually straight," Laura put in.

John raised his hand and waved it. "Gay here," he said helpfully.

"So glad to hear it, is there any reason you keep telling us that?"

John shook his head pityingly. "You donít actually think I followed you because I wanted to know what you were talking about, do you?"

"Thatís exactly why I think you followed me."

John broke into a grin. "Smart man."

Rodney glowered and sputtered out a few choice words before turning to Radek. "Get the suit off him and get his information so we know where to get a hold of himóand make him an appointment at Peterís."

Still chuckling, John cocked an eyebrow at Radek. "Is he always this cranky?"

"Actually, this is one of his better days."

The other eyebrow rose to join the first. "Is it too late to burn that contract?"

"You know what they say about making deals with the devil?" Lorne asked. "Well, heís a cream puff compared to Rodney."

For a brief moment Johnís expression turned distant. "That applies to a lot of people, unfortunately. But I think Mackey can be tamed." He grinned again.

Laura looked at him closely. "How much do you want to bet?"

"Forget it. I learned a long time ago not to bet." John gave her an odd smile. "Iíll just need a minute to change, Radek, and then you can have the clothes back."

"Take your time; there is no hurry."

"Okay, is it me or was that weird?" Laura asked the others after John disappeared into the dressing area.

"I think your eye-candy has a past," Radek murmured. "And I donít believe he enjoys discussing it."

"Understatement of the year," Lorne nodded, "and youíd better get him that appointment, or Rodney may take his pissy mood out on you."

"Hmm, as amusing as that might be, not today. Lorne, get his address and phone number if he comes out before Iím done. We want to make sure we can find him. And let him know what time Rodney expects his models in the morning."

"Gotcha." Lorne dropped onto a battered sofa nearby, stretching his legs out and relaxing.

"Mmmm, I do like the eye candy around here," Laura chuckled, eyeing him. "Donít you, Katie?"

"Itís one of the better perks of the job," the other woman laughed.

"And I know you like girls, Lorne." Laura moved to sit on the arm of the sofa.

"Oh, so the new guyís gay and that means I get play?"

"You saying you donít want to?" Laura tossed her head, auburn hair flipping back over her shoulder in a sleek fall.

"Iím saying itís an interesting coincidence is all."

"Never mind then. I think Iíll call Carson and see if heís free tonight." She stood up again.

Katie chuckled and sat down beside Lorne. "Amazing how you end up doing that most nights."

Laura shrugged easily. "He appreciates me."

"A man would have to be blind not to," John said as he rejoined them.

"So, regretting this yet?" Lorne asked as he sat up.

"It ought to be interesting," John replied easily. "I should bring Ronon over one day; heíd be amused. He likes the monkey house at the zoo."

"Weíre more like gazelles," Laura shot back.

"Iíd have gone with big cats personally." John gave her a toothy grin.

"Good answer."

"And before you get bitten, let me get your information down so Rodney knows where to hound you."

"Gee, that sounds so appealing." John shook his head but gave the necessary information. "And now, I need to go quit my job. See ya round!" He waved as he headed for the door, knowing Ronon was going to laugh his ass off.

"Have fun with the crazy man?" Ronon asked when John found him on the site again.

"You could say that. Heís a designer, and he wants me to model for him." John waited patiently for Ronon to stop laughing and then told him how much McKay was going to pay him. "Hell of a lot more than the Air Force ever paid us, and no oneís going to be shooting at me," John said smugly. "Besides, McKayís amusing."

Ronon whistled at the figure. "Christ, you think he needs another model? Iíd wear a dress for that kind of dough."

John shrugged. "Canít hurt to ask. Teyla certainly drools over you, though I personally think it just means she needs glasses."

"Say that to her face so she can kick your ass for me." Ronon nodded toward the trailer nearby. "You tell the boss yet?"

"Just going to." John shoved his hands in his pockets. "Heís going to be pissed at the no notice thing, so I doubt Iíll finish out the day. Stop by my place after work for dinner and a beer. Iíll even feed Teyla if she wants to brave my chili."

"She says your chiliís for wimps," Ronon laughed. "And good luck in there."

Things went pretty much as John expected, and a few minutes later he was all but thrown off the jobsite. With the afternoon suddenly free, he headed to the store to get what he needed for dinner so the chili could simmer until Ronon and Teyla arrived. Then he was going to Google McKay and see what he could find out about him.

"Stop looking at me as if Iím insane, Carson! I needed a model, and... it seemed like a good idea at the time."

"A man ye saw out a window, Rodney! He could be a serial killer for all ye know!"

Rodney rolled his eyes. "As long as he sells my designs, I donít care, and besides, Radekís doing a little checking on him. Happy now?"

"Och, yeíre mad!" Carson shook his head in disbelief. "And yeíve already signed a contract with him for six months wiíout knowing anything about him?"

"Like youíre one to talk!" Rodney huffed. "You were wanting to marry Laura five minutes after you met her!"

"Ye already knew her," Carson pointed out. "And sheíll nae have me," he added with a sigh.

Rodney snorted inelegantly. "Thatís because she knows she can have you any time she pleases. I told you youíve got to play hard to get, man!"

"I dinna want tae play games; I want tae marry the lass!"

"And to do that, you have to get her to think that she canít have you anymore, understand?" Rodney rubbed his forehead and leaned over to steal one of Carsonís French fries.

"And how exactly am I tae manage that? I dinna think sheíll believe a sudden change of heart for no reason!"

"Were we really raised in the same house? It must be genetic because itís obviously not related to environmentóor maybe your mother smoked or drank when she was pregnant with you..."

"Rodney!"

"Well, for a man who went to medical school, youíre displaying a large lack of IQ!"

"Thereís no one else, and sheíll nae believe Iím just giving up!"

"So find someone else; you have to have some female friends somewhere."

"None who look like Laura!"

Rodney groaned. "Fine, so go on drooling after her and letting her walk all over you. Iím just your brother; who cares what I say."

"Well, who would you suggest? My married, fifty-year-old department head? Or wait, I know, I could fall for your poor ex! Iím sure Sam wouldnít mind getting the straight brother this time!"

"Oh ha ha." Rodney glowered as he took another fry. "That was a mistake that we both recognized right away; itís all Mom and Archieís fault for making me try to fit in to normal perceptions."

Carson snorted. "Rodney, thereís absolutely nothing about ye thatís normal! But Sam might do at that. Sheís beautiful, brainy, and single. Yes, I think I should call her."

"Go ahead, do it; at least it will stop your whining, and if you dump Laura and marry her, itíll stop my alimony payments as well!"

Carson growled. "Jackass!"

Rodney smirked at Carson over the rim of his glass of beer. "That I may be, but it got you out of your funk, didnít it?"

"I really should have killed my dad before he ever married yer mum," Carson grumbled. "And since Iím not about to call Sam, Iím no further ahead with my problem with Laura."

"You were eight; there wasnít much you could do, and Iíll call Sam for you." Rodney pulled out his cell and hit a pre-programmed number.

"Are ye mad?" Carson exclaimed, his jaw dropping as he gaped at Rodney.

Rodney waved a hand at Carson and started talking. "Sam, yes, itís me. Iím calling to see if you can do me a favorówell, itís not for me; itís for Carson. Yes, itís regarding Laura." Rodney beamed. "Exactly! Youíre brilliant, which is why I married you; if youíd just have been male, our lives would have been bliss. Now hereís Carson; work out the details with him."

"Oh my God, please let me die now," Carson prayed fervently before reluctantly taking the phone when no avenging deity appeared to strike him down. "Samantha? Is that ye, lass?"

"Yes, Carson, itís me," she laughed. "What can I do to help?"

"You thought I was lying?" Rodney sputtered.

Carson sighed, tuning Rodney out with the ease of long practice. "Rodney seems to think that Laura would appreciate me more if she thought Iíd found someone else."

"Well, she does seem to take you for granted..."

"You agree with him?" Carson exclaimed, startled.

"I just donít like you being hurt," Sam said diplomatically.

Carson sighed again. "I think yeíre both mad, but Iím desperate enough tae try anything. Will you come pretend to be my girlfriend?"

"Iíd be glad to; where do you want to go?"

After a moment Carson named one of the current trendy restaurants, which also had the benefit of having a superior menu, and the in club. "If yeíre sure ye dinna mind."

"The chance for a free dinner and dancing with a nice man? Of course not. Are we talking about Friday?"

"Aye, that would be good," Carson agreed. "Iíll pick you up at seven then?"

"Perfect. Iíll see you then, Carson."

After a moment of chat, Carson said goodbye and handed the phone back to Rodney. "I dinna believe Iím doing this."

"Itíll be good for you, Carson; trust me."

"Laura will probably never speak to me again," Carson prophesied glumly.

"Christ, sheíll probably jump you when she gets over her hissy fit!"

"If she doesnít, Iím moving in wií ye and ruining yer love life too!"

"What love life? Iím too busy to have one at the moment."

"Iíll make sure it stays that way!"

Rodney snorted. "Iím terrified."

"You should be! Doctors know what does the most damage and what causes the most pain without any real damage."

"Oh, please, Carson, youíre too nice to do anything of the kind; remember Perna and how she dumped you? You practically gave her your blessing!"

"She was too radical for me," Carson protested. "She thought she could change the world by killing people. You thought I would stay with her?"

"Well, it would have been better than this!"

"I like Laura," Carson said simply.

"You sound like a high school girl."

"Youíre just jealous that you donít have anyone."

"I get laid whenever I want," Rodney huffed.

"Ah, so youíve taken vows of celibacy then."

"Fuck you, Carson."

"Sorry, I only like the lasses."

"Such a sense of humor, you should go on touróand are you done with those fries?"

Chuckling, Carson pushed them across the table. "Help yerself."

"You always order them and donít eat themóshould I tell you how illogical that is?"

"You never order them and always want them."

"See! Too nice!"

"Yeíre the only brother I have, Rodney."

This time, Rodneyís smile was genuine. "Same here, Carson, and we wonít talk about Jeannie." He chuckled at the last."

"Please donít!" Carson said fervently, with a shudder. "I donít think I could face that."

"With her as a little sister, itís a wonder how either of us turned out normalóand donít you say a word!"

Carson chuckled and stole back one of his fries.

"Idiot," Rodney grumbled fondly. "Now letís talk about what youíre wearing tomorrow and how Iím going to get Laura to show up there as well."

"If there was any justice in the universe, lightning would strike me dead now."

"Hrmmm, definitely a blue shirt... and Iíve got just the suit in mind for you."

Carson groaned and wondered when heíd lost control of his own life.

The next morning John sauntered off the elevator into McKayís studio, wearing an old, soft pair of skintight jeans and a simple white cotton button-down shirt with the collar unfastened and the sleeves rolled up. He saw McKay working at a drawing table, music blaring, and he came up behind him to see what he was doing.

"New clothes for me, Mackey?"

"What?!" Rodney jumped, dropping his pencil and sending the drawing heíd been sketching on shooting off the table. "Iím not sure about the etiquette on construction sites, but in a design studio, you..." He turned and got his first look at the cleaned up version of John Sheppard, and the tirade sputtered to a halt.

One dark eyebrow rose over amused hazel eyes. "Earth to Mackey. Anyone home?"

"That is not my name," Rodney growled. "Honestly, you remind me of my little sister, Sheppard."

"I think it suits you, Rodney. And I really donít want to remind you of a girl." John stuffed his hands into his pockets, pulling the much-washed fabric taut over his groin.

After giving John a quick visual once-over, Rodney cleared his throat and nodded. "All right, you do clean up well. Today youíre going to work with Lorne; heíll teach you the basics."

John nodded. "Walking and not talking, right?"

"Correct, but thereís more to it than that."

"There always is." John looked around. "So where do I change, and what should I wear?"

"What you have on is fine for now; Iím not risking my designs on you until Iím sure you know what youíre doing."

"What, you think Iím going to drool on them?"

"No, but Laura might when she sees you."

John chuckled. "As long as thatís all she does, weíre cool."

"You may be, but Iím not; now, go sit down and wait for Lorne to get here, will you? Iím working if you havenít noticed."

"I noticed. Thatís why I wanted to see what you were working on."

"Scaring me into apoplexy at the same time." Rodney looked to where the paper lay on the floor. "Itís down there."

"Gee, would you like me to get that for you?" John shook his head at Rodney before bending down to retrieve it. "You need to work on your social skills, Mackey."

It was obvious that Rodney had been distracted by the tight line of Johnís ass as he bent over, and he sniffed as he took the drawing back and smoothed it out on the drafting table. "And why is that?"

"Because itíll lower the probability of someone shooting you."

"Carson was right; you are a serial killer."

"If I was, youíd already be dead."

"This after I gave you a job, such gratitude!"

John shrugged. "You gave me a job because you needed me."

Rodney glowered, his jaw clenched so tightly it was a wonder his teeth didnít crack. "Fine, yes, youíre correct; now will you go sit down on the couch and leave me to my work?!"

With another shrug John went and sprawled on the sofa, one arm flung over the back as he watched Rodney.

Rodney returned to his work, sketching out designs but growing more and more frustrated until he finally turned to glare at John. "Will you stop looking at me!"

"Thereís nothing else to look at, and youíre interesting."

"Pick up a magazine or look out theóinteresting?"

"Yup. Youíre a hard man to peg, Mackey. I wouldnít have put you down as a designer."

"And what do you think I would be?" Rodney sighed.

"I donít know, a scientist, no, a department head, cowing minions and lording it over everyone else."

"Actually, I started out in science but found I preferred design; I can do what I like here."

"Yeah, I can see where that would make a difference. You wouldnít like answering to anyone else."

"You sound suspiciously like my psychiatrist."

"Hey, insults werenít part of the contract. I can still quit!"

"I own your soul for six months, remember?"

"Trust me, if I needed to, I could find a way out of it. But you are entertaining, and youíre going to pay me a ridiculous amount of money, so you own my body during working hours for the next six months. Oh, and Ronon wants to know if you want to buy anyone else for the same amount of money."

"Ronon? Are you perhaps talking about Gargantua?" Rodney asked, smiling slightly. "And as for the contract, youíd have to fight Elizabeth to get out of it, and my moneyís on her."

"You have no idea some of the things Iíve gotten out of. And Gargantua, huh? I like it," John chuckled. "Iíll have to start calling him that."

"Wonderful, and when you tell him who coined the phrase, Iím going to end up broken like a toothpick."

"Not if youíre signing his paycheck," John pointed out, laughing.

Rodney rubbed his forehead and slowly got off his stool to refill his mug. "Iím going to regret this, but have him come see me."

John got up and walked over to the window. He opened it and leaned out, then yelled, "Hey, Ronon, come on up."

"What? You mean he was waiting? Iím going to be killed," Rodney moaned.

"If you hadnít said yes, he just would have gone to work. Itís right downstairs, in case youíd forgotten."

"I know that," Rodney said testily.

"Just checking. You seem prone to these little memory lapses." John smirked at him, now leaning on the windowsill.

"Thatís because Iím on the verge of a nervous breakdown!"

"Poor thing. Maybe you should find a less stressful occupation."

"Or deal with less stressful people." Rodney looked over as the door slammed open and groaned.

"So, do I get the same deal as Shep?" Ronon growled, frowning at McKay.

Refusing to be intimidated, Rodney lifted his chin and glared haughtily at the other man. "That depends what you have to offer."

Ronon drew himself up to his full height and looked down his nose at the shorter man. "A hell of a lot more than his scrawny ass," he said, indicating John with a jerk of a thumb.

"Yes, but he fit the clothes I had made already; what do you have other than mangy hair and an attitude?"

"Oh my God, can I take him home?" Laura exclaimed as she walked in, making a beeline for Ronon.

"Iíll fight you for him!" Katie said, practically drooling.

Ronon raised his eyebrows at Rodney with a smirk. "Any more questions?"

"Christ," Rodney sighed, rubbing his temples. "Remind me why I hired any of you?"

"Because theyíre all gorgeous, and collectively, theyíll strike your competition blind," Elizabeth said blandly.

"And just whose side are you on?"

"Your bank accountís."

"I hate my life."

John snickered. "This is going to be fun."

"Fine, I can deal with all of you. Elizabeth, get Rollo a contract; Radek, get him in something that fits so we can see how he moves, and then try and find us another girl."

John looked at Ronon. "Think Teyla would be willing to moonlight, or would she shoot us for suggesting it?"

"You can suggest it; she thinks youíre cute."

"Iím suddenly really glad Iím gay." John turned away from Rononís laughter. "Hey, Radek, I may know of a woman. I can call her and see if sheís interested if you want her." He looked back at his friend. "Ronon, show them a picture of her."

"My god, heís taking over the place," Rodney muttered as Ronon did just that.

"Hey, if you donít want that wearing your clothes..." John nodded toward the picture of Teyla and Ronon.

Rodney glanced at the picture and sniffed dismissively. "Sheís all right," he paused and continued quickly when Ronon growled. "See if sheíll come in. Now, Iím going to go work if you would all kindly leave me alone!"

"Is he always this grumpy in the morning?" John asked as he dialed his phone, trying to reach Teyla.

"Unless he got lucky the night before, the answer would be yes," Laura smirked.

"Iíd guess he hasnít gotten any for a while then... Hi, Teyla! Want to become a model, gorgeous?"

"Have you been drinking, Johnóand more importantly, has Ronon?"

"Only coffee. They hired Ronon too, so now they need another woman. So of course, I thought of you. We all know how good you look wrapped around Ronon."

"Wait a moment, Ronon quit his job to be a model?"

"For the same amount Iím getting," John said hastily. "Maybe more. I think he scares Mackey."

"And now this designer wants me to model for him as well. John, none of us has any experience; this seems... off."

"Heís... unique. And apparently he wanted me because I fit the clothes he had made for his previous model," John chuckled. "Heís not Jack the Ripper, not even Svengali."

"And why does he want Ronon and myself?"

"Iím not entirely certain, but I think it might be because I asked," John replied very quietly.

Teyla was quiet for a moment. "John, does this man have a crush on you?"

John was silent for long seconds. "Maybe."

"And isnít this taking advantage of that?"

"He needs models, and you and Ronon are both disgustingly photogenic. It sounds like a win-win to me."

"And what about my real job? The one Iíll go back to when heís done playing Henry Higgens with all of us?"

"You own the company, Teyla. Itíll still be there. But if youíre not interested, just say so. I thought you might enjoy this, but apparently I was wrong." Johnís tone had grown stiff.

"Iím not saying no, John; you know me, always playing devilís advocate. Iíll come down and talk to this Mackey, and weíll see what happens, all right? And tell Ronon heíd better not let any other woman grab his ass while heís there."

Laughing, John hung up. "Sheís on her way. And she says nobody better touch whatís hers."

"Possessive wench," Ronon grinned. "Damn, I love that woman!"

"Taken or gay," Katie sighed to Laura.

"Why canít I find one like these?" Laura sighed.

"Hey, you have Carson. Those eyes and that accent..." Katie shivered.

Laura shrugged. "Heís a fallback. I like him, but..."

"Youíre an idiot," Katie said emphatically. "That man is seriously hot. He could have me any time he wants."

"And if your complaint is that heís nice," Elizabeth looked over to where Radek was working with Ronon, "nice can be very, very good."

"Ah, you noticed that, did you?" Katie chuckled. "Good for you! Heís much better than that jerk Simon you were seeing last year."

"But Radekís so..." Laura caught herself when the older woman looked at her, eyebrows raised. "Nice."

"Exactly," Elizabeth laughed, "and when you grow up, youíll figure out that nice goes a hell of a lot farther than hot and edgy."

"Here, here!" Katie chimed in. "Hey, since you donít want Carson, can I go after him?"

"He wouldnít notice you, especially if I smiled at him," Laura sniffed.

"God, you can be such a bitch sometimes, Laura. If you donít want him, leave him alone. Heís a nice guy who deserves better," Katie snapped.

"Oh please, you only want him because you canít have him!"

"And you donít because you can!" Katie shook her head and walked away, not wanting to get into an argument with a woman she considered a good friend. It was just that Laura seemed to have a huge blind spot when it came to Carson Beckett.

"That sounded like a fun way to start the day," Lorne mused as he breezed over to the group. "And whoís the new guy?"

Laura glared at him and stalked over to the buffet table, helping herself to a cup of black coffee and a yogurt.

Shaking her head, Elizabeth said, "Thatís Ronon. Heís a friend of Johnís whoís also going to be doing this collection, along with his girlfriend, who should show up any time now."

"Youíre not serious; Rodneyís hiring more amateurs?"

"It seems so." Elizabeth sighed heavily. "I think heís gone mad, but at least they are attractive and photogenic. We just have to hope they can learn to move."

Lorne sighed and shook his head. "Well, I know what Iím going to be doing from now until the show. At least Sheppard has a sense of humor; what about the big guyóRonon, right?"

"Your guess is as good as mine. I donít think heís actually spoken to anyone. He seems to go for the strong and silent thing."

"Well, at least silent isnít a problem in our business."

"It will be if he grunts at a backer," she grumbled.

Lorne chuckled. "Thatís what Rodney does; it doesnít seem to hurt business any."

"No, Rodney yells at them and calls them blind idiots," Elizabeth corrected ruefully. "Youíre right; Ronon has to be better. And Iíd better see about this contract." She started across the room toward the tall, muscular man.

"So, where do I sign?" Ronon asked bluntly.

"Thatíd be the dotted line above the word Ďsignatureí," John said helpfully.

"Shut up, Sheppard," the taller man growled.

"Well, it is!"

"Why donít you come into my office so we can go over it?" Elizabeth suggested diplomatically.

"Yeah, letís do that; people are nuts out here."

"Iíll send Teyla back if she gets here before youíre done," John offered.

"Do that; I donít want her hurting Mackey if he gets her going."

John murmured, "McKay, Ronon. Letís not make the man rupture an artery."

"He isnít even around to hear!" Ronon exclaimed.

"Habits are hard to break. So just do it!" John barked, for an instant reverting to a tone he hadnít used with Ronon in a few years.

Eyes widening, Ronon nodded slowly. "Gotcha, Major, Iím just going to go with the nice lady and sign the paper that will give me a lot of money."

"You do that," John said with an apologetic smile as he relaxed, pretending not to notice the curious stares all around.

Juggling his coffee and a low fat muffin, Lorne walked over to Sheppard, who was now conspicuously alone. "So, want something to eat before runway bootcamp starts up?"

"OCS," John sighed before helping himself to coffee and an apple.

"Huh?"

"Bootcampís for grunts; OCS is for officers." John looked around. "And Iíd say that Mackey would insist on the very best."

"Uh yeah, right." Lorne eyed him oddly. "Whatever you call it, once youíre done eating and Elizabethís done with your buddy, itís time to work."

"Walkingís work?" John asked, eyebrows rising.

"You arenít walking; youíre selling, and trust me, itís work."

"If you say so," John murmured. "No offense, but compared to some things Iíve done, this is going to be a cake walk."

"Whatever you say, Iím not the type to judge, and Iíd rather not be judged, okay?"

"Iím not judging. Believe me, Iíve seen enough of that for one lifetime. Itís just that, well, this isnít exactly downtown Kabul, ya know?"

Lorne eyed him closely. "Iím getting the feeling you were in the military."

John smiled wryly. "Iím pretty certain that Mackey and his friend over there have already run me, so itís not like I could keep it a secret."

"Probably, but they arenít going to tell us anything, so if you donít want to talk about it, itíll stay cold." Lorne finished his muffin and tossed his garbage in a pail before brushing his hands together.

"Good, so why donít you show me exactly what it is Iím supposed to learn?" John started before looking up when the door opened. "Hey, Teyla, go on into the office. Ronon and McKayís business manager are expecting you." He gestured toward the office door.

The tall, mixed-race woman looked around the open space, studying it and the people inside before nodding. "Iíll do that."

When she was behind the closed door, Lorne let out a whistling breath. "Thatís Rononís girlfriend? Damn!"

"Fiancee actually, and she owns a security company, so I wouldnít suggest putting the moves on her. Sheíd break you in half. And if she left anything, Ronon would stomp on the pieces." John eyed him. "She used to be with the Secret Service."

"No problem here; my face is my life, Iím not risking it for that."

"Good decision. So, about this training?"

"Címon," Lorne nodded toward the end of the room surrounded with mirrors, "weíll work there."

"Geez, whatís with all the mirrors?"

"Get used to them; how else are you going to see how you move?"

"Why the hell do I need to see me move? Never mind, if I could make it through martial arts training, I can do this."

"So, Radek, how goes it out there?" Rodney sighed.

"Remarkably well, considering. Sheppard moves... very well."

"For a straight man, youíre sounding almost bisexual there; be careful."

Radek pulled a face. "I donít want to go to bed with the man. But youíd have to be blind not to notice him. Look for yourself."

"Iíve looked enough and look what it got me," Rodney grumbled, poking at the drawing he was working on with an eraser.

"Three new models?"

"Whoíve never modeled in their lives!"

"So why did you hire them?"

Rodney sighed. "Because I need to get laid, thatís why; obviously my attention is on other things than business."

Radek chuckled. "Are you going to break your own rule and go after the one you really want?"

"And have him think that the only reason I hired him was because I want to fuck him? I donít think so."

"Itís the truth, isnít it?"

"Whose side are you on here?"

Radek shrugged. "I told you about his past. Iím fairly certain that he could break you into teeny-tiny pieces if you tried to make him do something he didnít want to. And he is gay." He glared at Rodney. "And you know perfectly well Iím on your side. But if you want him, find out if heís interested too."

"And what if the only reason he is is because Iím paying him?" Rodney fretted.

"Rodney, that man ignored orders and flew into a war zone because he thought it was the right thing to do. Does that sound like a man who would go to bed with you because you pay him?"

"Maybe."

Radek clutched at his hair. "You are an idiot!"

"No, Iím a pessimist; thereís a difference."

"I give up. Fine, be miserable!" Radek stalked away, heading for a cup of coffee.

"I will!" Rodney shot back petulantly, throwing his eraser at the other manís back.

Watching from the mirrored area with Lorne, Ronon and Teyla, John looked at Lorne. "Does he do that often?"

"What, throw things? Not at the models, he doesnít want to bruise us."

"So he just throws things at Radek and Elizabeth? Why do I think his mother should have spanked him more often as a child."

"Or dropped him on his head," Ronon added helpfully.

"Behave, Ronon," Teyla murmured.

John snorted. "Just wait till you meet him for yourself, Teyla. Youíll agree."

"Actually, compared to some other designers Iíve worked for, heís mellow," Lorne shrugged.

All three of them turned to stare at him.

"Would I lie? Tell them, Katie."

She nodded. "Itís true, Rodney may growl, but heís all bark and no bite; heís not going to make you take uppers to lose weight before a show."

"Like that would happen," Ronon growled.

"Innocent," Katie smiled.

"I think he meant to him," John chuckled. "Can you see Mackey trying to make Ronon do anything?"

"I canít see him making any of you do anything, but if you think heís going to ask nicely, youíre crazy."

"No, I think I might pass out from the shock if he did," John chuckled. "But if he throws anything at me, itís going right back at him."

"Just donít hit him," Lorne laughed. "He goes catatonic if he sees his own blood."

"If he throws anything at me, heíll be seeing plenty of it," Ronon glowered.

Teyla rolled her eyes as both Katie and Lorne goggled at Ronon. "Youíd never hit someone who couldnít fight back."

"Teyla wouldnít let you," John put him, smirking at the big man.

"Why are you protecting him? I thought you didnít even like him!"

"I never said that," John protested while Teyla rolled her eyes. "Heís amusing."

"Amusing?" Lorne and Katie chorused.

John nodded. "Yup, Iíll bet itís never boring when Mackeyís around."

"Sheppard likes excitement," Ronon snorted.

"It keeps life interesting," John shrugged.

"What would keep my life interesting would be if the people I paid to work were actually working," Rodney drawled from behind the group.

"I think Iíve already walked more miles than I did out of... Well, than I ever have," John retorted.

"Theyíre doing all right," Lorne said before Rodney could ask.

"Yes," Katie agreed. "Teylaís doing very well."

"Of course she is," Ronon said proudly, sliding an arm around her shoulders.

John snickered at him. "I think she mastered walking on her own, big guy, without any help from you."

"Itís good to meet you, Mr. McKay," Teyla said diplomatically.

"Likewise." Rodney looked at her critically before nodding.

"Hey, I didnít get a nice, polite greeting, Mackey," John protested.

"Perhaps thatís because she actually managed to get my name correct."

"I keep telling you, I like Mackey better."

"And Iím so happy to hear that." Rodney glowered at the snickers. "Whereís Laura? I have a job for you all tonight."

"Right here, Rodney," Laura said, coming up behind him with a bottle of water in her hand. "Whatís up?"

"And what do you mean Ďtonightí? Is this going to involve a lot of night work?" John asked.

"Considering what Iím paying you, youíre complaining? And before you continue, itís simple; I want all of you to go out as a group wearing the clothes Radek gives you and party at Reve."

"My favorite kind of assignment," Lorne grinned.

"Great, dancing with women," John sighed.

"Deal with it. I want you all to be here and ready by ten; Radek will get a limo to take you there. Stay until at least one; then what you do is your business, but do not do anything disgusting in the clothes, got it?"

"What, youíre not going to come supervise us?" John challenged.

"Of course, but I feel no need to go any farther than the club."

John rolled his eyes. "Do you even know how to have fun?"

"Pardon me? I have plenty of fun, not that it matters to you!"

"Of course you do," John replied. "Donít worry, weíll stay out and wear your clothes while you go home for a cup of cocoa."

"Careful, Shep, I think heís going to burst a blood vessel," Ronon murmured.

John eyed the fuming designer. "Naw, Iím just making sure heís awake."

"As it so happens," Rodney ground out, "I have a date."

"I thought Jameson broke up with you," Laura said innocently.

John smirked. "Got a rebound guy, Mackey?"

"Is that so hard to believe?"

"Apparently not," John shrugged. "Though Iíd have thought youíd be one to wait a while."

"My god, I havenít dated the man for two months!"

"I guess that counts as a while then. Donít forget to be safe." John grinned at him while Ronon shook his head. Heíd seen Sheppard like this before, and he almost felt sorry for the designer.

"Thank you so much for your concern, now can you get back to practicing so you donít make a fool of yourself in the show?"

"I never make a fool of myself." John threw a challenging smile over his shoulder and then prowled down the makeshift runway.

"Oh my," Katie breathed prayerfully.

"Such a shame," Laura murmured, causing Rodney to glare at her.

"Only to you."

"I donít notice anyone else doing anything about it," Radek put in, eyeing Rodney significantly.

"Shep never has to wait for anyone to do anything about it," Ronon chuckled, making Teyla elbow him in the side.

"No, not when he looks like that," Laura agreed, still staring as John came back toward them. "Damn, Iíd buy anything he wore."

"Glad to hear it; I know I pay you enough to afford my designs."

"Yeah, but I donít have anyone thatíll look like that in them," she sighed.

"Pardon me; Carson looks perfectly fine in my clothes," Rodney put in.

"Yes, exactly. He looks fine; he doesnít look like that."

Katie and Elizabeth both shook their heads but didnít waste their breath arguing.

"Are you insulting my brother?" Rodney asked sharply before continuing. "Because Iím the only one who can do that." Waving off her answer, he shifted his attention to Ronon and Teyla. "You two, we need measurements, so come with me."

Teylaís eyebrows rose sharply, and John winced. "Itís nothing personal, Teyla," he said hastily. "He just has the social skills of someone raised by wolves."

"Are we through insulting my parentage, because Iíd really like to get this done," Rodney sighed over the snickers around them.

"I always liked Lucan," John protested. "I thought he was pretty hot back then. Of course, I was only about ten."

"Does he do this all the time?" Rodney asked Ronon and Teyla.

"Yup," Ronon nodded, "but it means he likes you."

"Hey," John protested, "I resemble that remark."

Knowing from experience that John could continue for hours if allowed to, Teyla ignored him in favor of walking down the fake runway, hips swaying as she moved gracefully.

Rodney watched her critically and, hearing Rononís grumble, spoke without looking at him. "Iím not in the least interested in her in any way other than as a model, so take the macho attitude and stick a sock in it."

"Donít worry about it, Ro," John assured him, "Mackeyís more likely to be interested in your ass than Teylaís."

"Is that supposed to reassure me?"

"Not my type," Rodney stated flatly before stalking back to the workroom followed by a snickering Radek.

John chuckled. "He definitely needs to get laid."

Rononís eyebrows rose. "Are you offering?"

"Naw, heís not my type. But itís fun to needle him."

From behind them, Katie spoke up. "Just donít think you can hurt him and get away with it; Rodney may be an idiot at times, but heís a good guy, and we like him."

"I like him too or I wouldnít tease him," John said easily. "And I donít play the kind of games youíre obliquely accusing me of."

"We know Rodney, not you."

"Fair enough. But once you get to know me, youíll love me." John gave her the brash smile that had charmed him out of trouble most of his life.

"Iím not worried about me," she commented.

"The only thing thatís going to convince you is time, so Iíd say itís time to get back to walking lessons."

"I knew there was a reason I hated clubs," Rodney grumbled to Radek as he looked out over the crowded dance floor.

Radek looked from the very attractive men and women dancing below them to Rodney, and gingery eyebrows rose. "You donít like people more attractive than yourself?"

"Very funny." Rodney glared at the shorter man. "No, I hate crowds of people stupid enough not to be wearing my designs, and shouldnít you be asking Elizabeth to dance or something?"

"She wanted something to drink first," Radek replied easily. "We will dance soon. And then, unlike you, my friend, I will go home with someone tonight. You need to find someone, Rodney; you get unpleasant when youíre frustrated."

"Itís not my fault Charles cancelled on me tonight."

Radek rolled his eyes. "Youíre more frustrated after a night with him than before."

Rodney sniffed and took a sip of his wine. "Thatís because heís prettier than he is smart, exactly the reason I donít date my models."

"And here I thought it was because he was boring in bed."

"Why did I ever tell you that?"

"Because you were frustrated, which brings us back to my original point. Not to put too fine a point on it, Rodney, you need to get laid," Radek said bluntly.

Rodney downed the last of his drink and set the glass down on the table next to them harder than necessary. "Well, thatís not going to happen here, is it," he snapped. "I should just go home and get some work done, leave you and Elizabeth to ride herd on the kids."

"And how do you know that you wonít find the man of your dreams..." Radek started, only to stop abruptly, his eyes widening and eyebrows shooting up as he stared down into the crowd. "Rodney, why is Carson here with your ex-wife?"

"Has Laura seen them yet?"

Radek gave Rodney a narrow-eyed glare before turning back to the crowd, looking for the models. "No, she... Ah, yes. And she doesnít look very happy about it."

"Thatís why theyíre here, that and the fact that Iím a fucking altruist who worries about his brotherís happiness."

"I hope this doesnít blow up in our faces. And itís fortunate that Carsonís back is to Laura because he looks very uncomfortable. I donít think he can pull this off." Radek watched with interest as Laura began making her way through the crowd toward the couple at the edge of the dance floor. "Then again, he does have a temper, so she might irritate him into it."

Almost against his will Rodney leaned over the railing to watch as well. "Sam will help; she likes him, and she doesnít like how Laura treats him." He smirked slightly when Laura approached the couple and Carson feigned surprise at seeing her.

"Oh, hello, um, Lara isnít it?" Sam smiled sweetly at the auburn-haired model. "I see you and the rest of Rodneyís stable are all here tonight. Couldnít get a date, hmmm?"

"Iím working," Laura snapped. "Carson, who is this?"

He gave a weak smile but kept his arm around Samís waist. "Laura, this is Sam."

Sam eyed the shorter woman dismissively. "I suppose airbrushing can work wonders," she said cattily, amused by the way Lauraís eyes narrowed.

"As can a few trips to the gym, you should look into one."

"Now, ladies," Carson began, "ye shouldnít squabble."

"True, itís rather pointless when Iíve already won the prize." Sam curled a possessive arm around Carsonís waist and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

"Carson! I thought that you, that we..."

"Ye made it plain that I wasnae what ye really wanted, Laura," he said gently. "Iíve finally decided that being yer backup isnae what I want either. Have a lovely life." He kissed Sam again and led her onto the dance floor, leaving Laura gaping after them.

"Bravo, Carson," Sam said once they were out of earshot. "Itís a pity, isnít it, that we never were attracted to each other? Life would have been so much easier."

"Aye," he sighed, "but that isnae what life has planned for any of us. I just didnít think this would be so damned hard."

"The best things always are. And honestly, itís no hardship for me to spend time with you until she realizes what sheís missing. Youíre something of a rarity, Carson, a genuinely nice guy."

He smiled ruefully. "Aye, that seems ta be the problem."

"There, thatís done," Rodney nodded.

"Playing matchmaker? And here I always thought you didnít give a damn about anyoneís feelings but your own," Radek teased.

The gaze Rodney turned on the other man was slightly hurt, and he shrugged. "I donít need the soap opera theatrics in my life is all. Now, Iím making a stop, and then Iím going home to enjoy the quiet."

"Rodney," Radek sighed, but it was too late. Rodney was gone, and Radek was going to have to find a way the next day to apologize. Coffee and chocolate would figure prominently.

John handed Katie off to Lorne and extricated himself from the group, saying that heíd be right back and gesturing quickly toward the sign for the menís room. As he made his way across the floor, he glanced over his shoulder, meeting the eyes of the dark-haired stranger whoíd been watching him for the last several dances.

Damn crowds, Rodney fumed as he slowly made his way down to the main floor. Damn crowds, damn clubs and damn... he cut off the thought before it was fully formed and finally pushed down the hallway to the menís bathroom.

"Hey, buddy, I wouldnít go in there..." a member of the crowd outside began, but Rodney shouldered past him, opening the door and walking inside to enjoy the relative silenceóuntil it was broken by the sound of two people engaged in more than freshening up.

"This is a public facility!" he fumed, having reached his breaking point. "Get a damned hotel room, or go behind the building, but get it out of here!"

The stall door opened, and a tousled head poked out. "Jesus, Mackey, you really need to learn to relax, or youíre going to get an ulcer." John bit his lip to muffle a groan when the other person in the stall apparently did something he really liked.

"You!" Rodney nearly shrieked. "It figures, and if you tear or stain that outfit, itís coming out of your pay!" Ignoring the fact that half the blood in his body had traveled south hearing Sheppardís groan, he glared at the other man.

John snickered and looked back into the stall. "You hear that? No dripping on the clothes." Muffled laughter was the only reply, and John grinned at Rodney again. "Not a problem."

Rodneyís eyes narrowed. "Iím so glad you find this amusing. Once youíre done, which I doubt will take long, try to remember why youíre here." Ignoring the fact that his bladder was full, he turned and shoved at the door, almost planting his face into it before realizing it pulled open.

Still chuckling, John disappeared back inside the stall, his breath catching and exploding out of him in a sharp cry of pleasure a moment later.

Biting his lower lip at the erotic sound, Rodney got the door open and plunged back through the crowd, seeking his escape from the club and the whole evening.

"Good morning," John called cheerfully as he came into the studio the next day, seeing that he was the last one to arrive. Even Ronon and Teyla were already there, but John had stopped at IHOP for a decent meal. The low cal food that was available here might be fine for the other models, but John knew that his build was due to a fast metabolism. If he stuck to the yogurt and rabbit food, within a week he really would be skinny.

"Hey," Ronon called, walking over to him. "Watch out for Laura this morning; sheís in a mood."

"Oh great, pissy models. It makes me miss friendly fire," John sighed. "And howís Mackey?" On reflection he was a little embarrassed by their encounter the night before, but heíd let himself be boiled in oil before admitting it.

"No idea, havenít seen him yet; must have slept inóor he got lucky," he chuckled at that.

John chuckled as well. "Somehow, he doesnít strike me as the pick up a stranger in a bar type."

"Speaking of that, you seemed to vanish for a while last night..."

John grinned wickedly. "I am the pick up a stranger in a bar type. And handicapped stalls are nice and roomy."

"I hope youíre being careful, John," Teyla commented as she joined them.

"Always," he replied emphatically. "Iím not stupid, and the only thing I take home from one of those encounters is a smile. And maybe a phone number."

She chuckled and Ronon slapped John on the shoulder. "Just donít give Ďem the number here; McKay might get pissed if his fantasy boy is taken."

A sheepish expression crossed Johnís face. "He, uh, already knows. He walked in on us last night."

"Christ, Shep, we havenít even gotten paid yet!"

"I hope the two of you can get unemployment for a job youíve only held for a day," Teyla sighed before looking toward the door when it slammed open, revealing McKay, who was half-hidden behind an armload of fabric.

"Radek, grab these; Elizabeth, there are bills for you here somewhere; Katie, I need you in the back," he fired off before vanishing in the back room.

"I donít think heís firing us," John observed blandly a moment later as everyone started scurrying around in a flurry of activity. "Besides, we have contracts. He canít fire us for not being celibate."

"We hope," Ronon muttered darkly.

"Oh, get some coffee," John grumbled.

Katie reappeared just before lunch, and Rodney followed her out of the workroom. "Sheppard, I need you after the break."

Johnís eyebrows rose. "Iím all yours," he purred, trying not to grin.

Rodney glowered. "Very amusing, try not to get distracted during your meal; Iím on a tight timeline."

After casting a disdainful glance at the table covered with bowls of salad, John shrugged. "Since thereís nothing here that qualifies as a meal, nowís as good a time as any."

"Perhaps for you, but I need to eat, so try to curb your enthusiasm."

John shrugged. "Whenever youíre ready. Although if you take too long, you may have to come find me at the nearest Burger King!"

"In the bathroom?"

"Naw, I need meat I can sink my teeth into today."

"Lovely. You have half an hour."

"See you then.

"Hey, Ro, Iím going after some real food. You want to come with?"

"Teyla?" Ronon asked, glancing at her.

"Go ahead," she laughed.

"Hey, you two mind if I join you," Lorne asked.

"The more the merrier. And the fewer likely to pass out from hunger," John added with another look at the table.

Lorne grinned and nodded. "Yeah, rabbit food only goes so far, though itís your best friend the week before a photo shoot."

"If I stuck to that crap, Iíd look like a concentration camp survivor," John snorted.

"Donít worry, Shep, weíll keep you fed."

"Twenty-five minutes," Rodney yelled.

"Jesus, keep your pants on, Mackey. Weíll be back before you even miss us." John headed out the door before the countdown could continue.

When they were out the door, Rodney leaned against the wall and stared at the ceiling. "Why did I do this to myself?"

"Do what?" Radek asked with interest.

"This, this whole situation. Lorne could have handled double-duty."

Radek shrugged. "Because you know people come to see the models as much as the clothes in some cases, and Sheppard and Dex will bring them in."

"Keep telling me that, all right?"

"Even after you tell me to shut up," Radek chuckled.

Rodney smiled slightly. "Even then, now whereís my lunch?"

Radek waved a hand at the table. "You donít want to share the delectable feast provided for your models?"

"No one cares what I look like."

Radek made a noncommittal sound as his eyes went to the door the male models had recently exited. "Pizza will be here any... Ah, that should be it now."

"Good. Bring it back; Iíve got some ideas I need to work on."

Shaking his head, Radek went to pay for the pizza, knowing that it would likely sit for some time before Rodney noticed it again.

Hearing the door open, Rodney looked up and blinked before looking at his watch. "Oh, youíre back. Fine, put the clothes on, and get up on the platform."

His eyebrows rising, John looked around at the many clothes hanging on racks and draped over every flat surface. "Which clothes?"

"Black pants, light blue shirt." Rodney waved a hand in the general direction of the outfit he was speaking of.

John began shrugging out of his clothes once heíd spotted the garments. "Are you going to tell me what exactly this is all about?"

"Exactly what is all about?"

"Why Iím in here about to touch your sacred clothes with my sandpaper hands."

Rodneyís jaw clenched, and he took a deep breath. "Because the clothes were fitted for my former model, and you arenít exactly the same size as he was."

"Ah. You couldnít have just said so?" Wearing only a pair of form-fitting boxer briefs, John walked over to the clothes and shrugged into the shirt, leaving it hanging loose as he stepped into the pants.

"Leave it that way for now," Rodney said after a momentís pause as he rose, gathering up some tailorís chalk and pins.

"Whatever you want," John said easily, holding up the pants with one hand as he stepped up onto the platform.

"The shirt," Rodney sighed.

John grinned as he fastened the pants. "Precision in all things, Mackey."

"Itís the trademark of my line; now stand still." Rodney dropped to his knees beside John, examining the line of the pants.

"If you keep groping me like that, thereís no way in hell all of meís going to stay still," John gritted out.

"Next time wear a cup," Rodney sniffed, sliding a finger around the waistband, concentrating on his work and not the man standing before him.

John glared down at the dark head so close to his groin and distracted himself by imagining all the painful things heíd love to do to the annoying designer.

"Donít move," Rodney muttered, drawing a line just off the seam, pinning the material there before stepping back to see how the fabric lay.

"Yes, massuh," John drawled, eyebrows climbing as he eyed the designer with amusement.

"Or move and enjoy how a popped testicle feels."

"Excuse me?!"

"Working with pins here," Rodney explained none-too-patiently.

"You are a very annoying man."

"Yes, yes, Iíve been told that and worse many times before and by people whose opinions I value more than yours."

"I was under the impression you didnít value mine at all."

Rodney glanced up at him. "Exactly."

John chuckled. "And yet I find you strangely entertaining."

"And that just makes my life complete; put on the shirt now."

John looked down at the shirt that he was already wearing, albeit unbuttoned. He started buttoning it up.

"You know what I meant."

"Uh huh. Tucked in or loose?"

"Loose for now." Rodney stepped up behind John and ran his hands over his shoulders, smoothing the material down.

John couldnít prevent a slight shiver, and he mused that Rodney had nice big hands, just the kind he liked.

"Not bad," Rodney muttered, making small marks with the chalk along his back.

"Whatís not bad?"

"The fit; youíre slightly broader in the shoulders than Aidan, but it wonít take too much work to fix it."

"Ah, of course." John fought the urge to shift, slightly uncomfortable with the way the fabric stretched across his shoulder.

"Go ahead and take it off," Rodney said, stepping back and holding out a hand for the shirt.

"Thanks. Itíll fit better when youíre done, right?" John handed the garment over and stretched.

"Of course it will; what do you think I am, a hack?"

John rolled his eyes. "Sorry to have offended your prodigious talent. Whatever was I thinking?"

Rodney gave a bit of a smile. "Obviously you werenít."

"Youíre definitely not short on ego, are you?"

"Sometimes itís the only thing that gets you through."

Johnís gaze turned inward. "Yeah," he said quietly. "Sometimes it is."

Rodney looked at him sharply. "Yes, well, none of this is getting my work done, so try the chocolate pants and the bronze shirt."

John blinked. "You mean the brown pants and sort of rusty shirt over there?"

Rodney sighed. "Yes, those."

"Okay." John unfastened the pants he was wearing and looked around. "Where do you want me to put these?"

"Give them here; I need to keep them separate." Rodney held out a hand, waiting for John to disrobe.

"I figured." John stepped out of them, handed them over and went to get the next outfit, once again not buttoning the shirt to start with.

Rodney half-smiled again. "He can be taught."

"A few of my professors would even agree with you."

"Glad to hear it, now change!"

"Changing." John stepped into the pants, did up the fly, and stepped back up onto the platform.

"Of course I understand; I may not like it, but I understand," Rodney grumbled into his cell phone as he walked into the loft a week later. "Iíll just have to see what I can do."

The models looked at each other and back at Rodney, no one wanting to speak up. Sighing, Radek stepped forward. "See what you can do about what, Rodney?"

He sighed before lifting his chin almost defiantly. "About a dinner partner for this evening; is anyone free?"

"Ronon and I are having dinner with my grandmother," Teyla said.

Lorne, Katie, and Laura shook their heads quickly, eyes wide.

"Elizabeth and I have plans as well," Radek said.

"Looks like youíre stuck with me, Mackey. Or you would be if I didnít already have a date. Better luck next time," John shrugged.

Rodneyís expression grew neutral, and then he nodded quickly. "All right, itís understandable, being last momentís notice. You all have busy lives Iím sure." He started toward the back room, pausing at the door. "Take the day off, all of you."

Eight pairs of eyes widened, and several jaws dropped. Elizabeth actually reached out as if to place a hand on his forehead to test for fever.

"íTake the day offí?" Radek repeated in disbelief. "I would have bet my life that you were incapable of uttering those words, assuming you even knew what they meant!"

Rodney gave him a withering look before going into the workroom, closing the door firmly behind him.

"Okay, is Rodney sick or dying or something?" Lorne asked incredulously.

"I think the world is coming to an end!" Radek muttered.

"Shouldnít someone find out whatís going on?" John suggested, making everyone back away from the door.

"Be my guest; Iím much too young and beautiful to die," Laura sniffed.

Katie shook her head. "When he gets like this, itís better to just let him sulk; heíll be back to normal eventually."

"Before the show, I hope," Elizabeth murmured.

John hesitated, but the others knew Rodney better, and it wasnít as if he was the guyís friend or anything. "So back to walking?" he asked with a sigh.

"Thought he said to take the day off," Ronon commented.

"Oh right." John shrugged. "I guess Iíll see if Daveís free this afternoon before our date. Iíll see you all tomorrow."

"I would suggest everyone be on time." Elizabeth glanced at the worst offenders.

"Iíll do my best." John grinned and waved as he disappeared out the door.

The others slowly drifted out, though Katie hung back. "Do you think heís all right?" she asked Elizabeth and Radek.

They both hesitated, looking toward the closed door. "I hope so," Radek said slowly.

Elizabeth nodded. "I donít know if going in there would make it better or worse, so we just will have to leave things as they are and hope this blows over quickly."

"Weíll hear about it eventually if thereís anything we can do," Radek agreed.

"Okay, Iím out of here then," Katie called. "Have fun you two, but not too much or youíll be late tomorrow!" Laughing, she grabbed her bag and darted out of the loft.

"And the final nominee for tonightís Designer of the Year award is Rodney McKay."

Johnís head shot up, nearly knocking one of his dateís teeth loose, and he stared across the room to where the spotlight was centered on Rodney and the conspicuously empty seat next to him.

"Aw shit," he whispered fervently.

"Save the rough stuff for later, lover," Dave laughed, rubbing his jaw and reflexively running a hand through his carefully styled blond hair before glancing in the direction John was looking in. "You know McKay? Great designer, but a total asshole."

John frowned, drawing away slightly. "Heís not so bad."

"And how do you know? Wait, you mean this is the guy who hired you?" Dave burst into laughter that he quickly tried to smother when several gazes turned their way.

"Iím sorry I mentioned that to you. Now shut up!" John hissed.

"Meow, whatís gotten into you?"

"Youíre being rude," John growled, his eyes on Rodney.

"And youíre being ridiculous; what do you care about him other than the fact that," Dave paused as the winner was announced, "heís going to have more business now and thatís going to make you busier, though I think I liked you better when you were a construction worker."

Johnís eyes narrowed. "In that case, donít call me, Iíll call you."

"Why donít you call your new best friend instead?"

"I know we all know Mr. Sanders has the attention span of a gnat, considering what a mish-mash his collections are, but youíd think heíd try to at least pretend while out in public," Rodney commented from the podium.

"A very good idea." John stood up, indifferent to the attention he was getting from most of the room, and walked across to sit down in the empty seat beside Rodneyís.

Hiding his shock as well as possible, Rodney glanced at Dave and shrugged. "Obviously your attention span isnít the only thing thatís sub-par."

A wave of muffled laughter, and some not so muffled, swept the room. John hid a grin in a sip of wine, helping himself to Rodneyís.

"Well, after that show, not much I say is going to register anyway, so Iíll just say it was well-deserved and it took you all long enough," Rodney smirked, lifting the crystal trophy for a moment before returning to his seat.

"He was your date? My opinion of you just dropped."

"Mine too," John admitted. "But he was damn good in bed. Unfortunately, we canít spend all our time in bed. Which would be why I just told him to go to hell."

"Well good for you, and the reason youíre sitting here, drinking my wine would be?"

"Because I donít immediately want to shut you up every time you talk."

Rodneyís eyebrows rose. "Funny, thatís not what I gathered."

"Mackey, do you honestly think Iíd work for you if I couldnít stand you? I was doing fine where I was."

"I have no idea." Rodney shook his head and reached for his glass of wine, taking it from Johnís hand. "I have a hard enough time admitting to myself why I hired you."

"And why did you hire me?"

"As if you donít know."

"Iíve... wondered."

"How thrilling for you."

"You know, I think it could be," John said slowly.

"You forget, Iím not your type, and yes, I heard that comment. Donít worry, John, I donít date my models, so it wouldnít be an issue anyway."

"Rodney, how much of what I say do you think I actually mean?" John asked wryly.

"I have no idea; it isnít as if weíve had many conversations."

"True," John admitted, leaning back in his chair. "Maybe we should change that."

Rodney frowned at John over his wine glass. "I donít need your pity, which is exactly what this feels like."

John snorted. "Mackey, the last thing I feel for you is pity. Look, I like you, okay? And itís not like I have a whole of friends, not after..." He was interrupted by a flash.

"Maj. Sheppard! So is that what a former Air Force officer is reduced to?"

John looked up in dismay at a tabloid journalist whoíd dogged his steps after his discharge.

"And just who let you in here?" Rodney said stiffly, standing and glaring at the interloper. "Not anyone with authorization, Iím sure, and, as such, Iím sure your camera will be confiscated and you will be reminded of the fines inherent in publishing any accounts of the evening. Do. You. Understand?"

John stared down at the table as the hotelís security removed the woman. "Sorry about that," he said, pushing his chair back.

"Unless you called the woman and invited her here, itís hardly your fault. And I take it youíre leaving?" Rodney asked as John stood.

"I think Iíve worn out my welcome." John managed a wry smile. "Iíd hate to imagine what my third scene of the evening might be."

"Losing your date so soon after you got him, Rodney?" Calvin Kavanagh sniffed as he stopped by the table. "At least you have better taste in men than in your clothes; though they usually have better taste than to stay with you."

John stopped and eyed the newcomer. "On second thought, I suppose I can wait a while longer for a drink." He sat back down. "If this was your next option," he added, "no wonder you waited for me, Rodney."

"Calvin, a model?" Rodney snorted out a laugh. "Hardly; he can barely dress the ones he over-pays, including the person you replaced."

"I never thought he was a model," John laughed. "I meant as a date. But even as designer..." He looked from the newcomerís clothes to Rodneyís and shook his head sadly.

Kavanagh sniffed superiorly. "Rodney, Rodney, Rodney, letting your dick think for your head again."

"Perhaps, but even my dick is smarter than you."

"Iím not sure if I should be insulted or relieved," John murmured, looking amused.

"I know which Iíd be. If youíd like to work with a real designer, let me know." Kavanagh chuckled, tossing John a card before walking away.

"Iím really tempted to shove this award up his ass."

John pulled a face. "Iíd really rather not think about his ass." John picked up the card by a corner as if afraid of catching something from it and shoved it into the water in the centerpiece on the table. "I hope that doesnít kill the flowers."

"Theyíre cut; theyíll die anyway," Rodney shrugged. "And I think Iím going to get out of here and avoid the kissing up thatís about to happen." He stood but hesitated. "Did you drive yourself or come with Sanders?"

"I came with him. I wasnít expecting to end up going home alone," John sighed.

"Sorry my award ruined your evening; if you need a ride, I did drive." Rodney looked away as he reached for his award, hefting the heavy crystal sculpture.

"You didnít ruin it; Dave being an asshole ruined it. And it was going to happen sooner or later; he was already starting to get on my nerves. But yeah, Iíd love a ride."

"Youíll have to give me directions," Rodney commented as they walked out of the hall, nodding curt thanks to those who offered congratulations.

"Sure," John said easily, strolling along beside him.

Half an hour later, he was sitting in the passenger seat of McKayís car, protesting, "I am not lost!"

"And thatís why weíre driving in circles. Just how long have you lived in the city?"

"About a year," John grumbled.

"And did you never leave your house?"

"Itís the first time Iíve been to that particular hotel. I donít normally frequent the garment district," John snarled. "So I got a little turned around."

"Well, forgive me for trying to be nice and give you a ride home!" Rodney cut a glare at John before making yet another turn, sighing in relief when he spotted the interstate.

"Just drop me somewhere," John sighed. "Iíll call a cab."

"So you can be robbed, raped and murdered? Iím not living the rest of my life with that on my conscience! Is it north or south from here?"

"Umm..." John looked around. "Directions are a hell of a lot earlier from the air. Okay, north. Itís north of here."

"Are you sure? At this rate, Iím taking you back to the loft, and you can sleep there."

"At this point, Iím not even sure which state weíre in!"

"Oh, forget this; weíre going to my place. I have an extra bedroom; you can sleep there because Iím not driving around all night." Before John could answer, Rodney took the turn for the southern interstate.

After a moment, John said, "But will you still respect me in the morning?"

"As much as I do now," Rodney said dryly.

"Damn, and here I was hoping to be debauched."

"Very funny."

"See, I knew you would come to appreciate my finer qualities."

Rodney rolled his eyes and hit the blinker to change lanes.

John chuckled. "Iíll grow on you."

"I donít date my models," Rodney repeated, sounding as if he was trying to convince himself of that fact.

"And I donít usually really date so much as fuck, so maybe weíll both try something new," John said with shrug.

Rodney glanced at him again. "Considering who the last person was you datedóexcuse meófucked, perhaps I should ask for a blood test first." He quirked a half-smile at the last.

John snorted. "You think Iíd fuck him without a rubber? Not in this lifetime."

"The fact that you kissed him without one is enough for me."

That surprised a laugh out of John. "Iím a firm believer in mouthwash too."

Rodney chuckled at that. "Smart man." He changed lanes again and took the exit ramp to a side-street, then into a gated community.

John looked around, his eyebrows rising. "Youíre doing all right for yourself."

"I suppose; I donít do it for the money," Rodney shrugged, circling around to pull into his driveway, waiting until the garage door rolled up before pulling inside.

"No, you do it because you have to," John said, a wealth of understanding and wistful pain in his voice.

Rodney turned the car off as the door rolled down and looked at John speculatively. "Youíre obviously speaking from the voice of experience there."

"I had something like that once," John said quietly, not looking at Rodney.

"Iím sorry you lost it."

"Me too." John sighed heavily. "But if I had to do it all over again, Iíd do exactly the same thing. Some things are worth the cost."

Rodney nodded. "It would be worse never to feel like that; now come on, itís late. We should get inside."

"Yeah, this has been one hell of a night," John sighed, raking a hand through his hair. Getting out of the car, he offered a ghost of his usual cocky grin. "Lead on, Mackey."

Inside, the house was furnished simply, clean lines with splashes of color that reflected the designerís aesthetics. "The bedrooms are upstairs if you want to get to sleep," Rodney commented as he set the award on the kitchen counter.

"I think Iím still a little too wound up to sleep. Could I get something to drink?"

"Oh yes, of course," Rodney nodded, glancing around the kitchen. "Coffee? No, not when youíre wound up; wine, scotch, tea?"

"Scotch would be great, thanks." John leaned against a counter, watching Rodney. "Nice place."

"Thanks." Rodney took two cut glass tumblers down from a dark cherry cabinet and filled them from a bottle he pulled from another. "I donít get much company here actually." He poured them both healthy shots and handed John his glass before putting the bottle away again.

"Iím not surprised." Seeing Rodneyís expression before he hid it, John continued, "I meant that with all the hours you work and not dating models, you wouldnít have a lot of time to meet anyone." He took a swallow of his scotch. "So how come you were alone tonight?"

"Because my brother got called in for an emergency and everyone else was busy." Rodney shrugged and took a sip of his drink.

"Sorry. If Iíd had any idea how tonight was going to turn out, Iíd have gone with you in the first place."

"Iím sure you had a much better evening planned." A loud thump sounded from upstairs, and Rodney smiled. "Looks like her majesty is awake."

Johnís eyebrows rose. "Her majesty?" he repeated.

"Delilah." Rodney pointed toward the stairs where more loud thumps preceded the appearance of a medium-sized black cat with a white face, belly and legs.

"Cute," John said with a grin, leaning down to extend his fingers for her to sniff.

"Sheís a tyrant," Rodney murmured, his smile growing tender as Delilah padded forward to smell Johnís fingers, then rub her head against them, demanding petting.

"So I see. But all the best ones are." John stroked her head and back as she wound around his legs, purring loudly.

"Thatís why sheís named Delilah; she sapped my strength when I saw her."

John burst into laughter. "Does she like to be picked up or not on a first date?"

Rodney leaned against the island and waved a hand. "Give it a try; she seems to like you, and sheís declawed. She may run the house, but I draw the line at her shredding my fabrics."

John scooped her up, and Delilah promptly curled into his arms and butted her head against his free hand, demanding more petting.

"It looks like youíre a hit. Donít be surprised if you have a guest tonight, and if you shut the door, sheíll let you know sheís not happy."

Chuckling, John scratched her head, and she vibrated with the force of her purring. "Since I get yowled at enough during the day, I think Iíll take the course of least resistance and leave the door open."

"You know, I could rescind that offer of a bed..."

"Your cat likes me."

"She also liked my ex, so her taste is questionable at best."

"I donít know your ex, so I canít comment on that, but at the moment, Iíd say her taste is impeccable."

"Iím sure Sam would agree with you in that regard," Rodney chuckled.

"Sam... The blonde who was with Lauraís sort-of boyfriend the other night?" John started to laugh. "Good for him!"

"Good for... Carson?" Rodney asked, frowning in confusion.

"He was using her to get Lauraís attention, wasnít he? I mean it was obvious that heís totally hung up on Laura, but being with that blonde made her take notice."

"Thought it was a good idea, did you?" Rodney smirked. "It was mine."

"I shoulda known," John grinned. "Good for you too then."

Rodney flushed slightly. "Heís my brother; he deserves to be happy, and he wasnít with the way things were. Sam likes him so she agreed to help."

"I think I need a scorecard! Let me get this straight. Youíre gay, and not Scottish, but your female ex-wife is pretending to date your Scottish brother to make one of your models jealous? I need more scotch!"

Rodney handed over his glass and chuckled. "Stepbrother, we were both around eight when my mother married his father. As for Sam... it was my last gasp at pleasing Mom and Archie by doing something normal."

"Ah. Yeah, I know what thatís like. I played the straight guy too when I was still in. But now," John shrugged, "I just please myself."

"And apparently half the cityís gay population," Rodney grinned before sobering and nodding. "Itís much easier when you donít have to pretend."

"And a hell of a lot more fun."

"Not arguing that." Delilah chose that moment to twist and jump down from Johnís arms, making her way over to Rodney and meowing demandingly until he picked her up and rubbed her stomach.

"Dumped again," John said mournfully, taking another mouthful of Rodneyís scotch. "Itís the story of my life."

"Donít worry, she wouldnít appreciate you anyway and those teeth? Not what you want in a mouth anywhere near any body parts."

"Youch! Go wash your mind out, Mackey!" John cringed.

"Sorry, Iíve been told Iím lacking a filter between my mind and my mouth."

"Iím going to have to agree with that one. But at least youíre never boring."

"The goal of my life," Rodney said dryly.

"An admirable one."

"Iíd toast to not being boring, but you have both glasses, and my arms are full of cat, so it would be futile gesture."

"Yeah, donít annoy the cat," John chuckled. "Here, have a sip for your toast." He held the glass to Rodneyís lips.

As he took a sip and swallowed, feeling the burn as the liquor slid down his throat, meeting the warmth in his stomach as he met Johnís eyes.

"To you not being boring," John said softly.

Rodney nodded and licked his lips. "The same to you."

Johnís breath caught as he stared at Rodneyís lips. "Tell me to stop," he whispered, leaning closer.

Rodneyís almost desperate laugh turned into a yelp when Delilah twisted in his arms and thumped to the floor, stalking away from them both. "You want me to tell you to stop?"

"No, but you canít say I didnít give you a chance." John moved in closer, crowding Rodney against the counter, and then he kissed him. For a moment their lips simply pressed together. Neither would ever know who opened his mouth first, but their tongues were rubbing together, sliding over slick surfaces as they took it in turns to explore each other.

Rodney groaned, his fingers digging into Johnís back as they gave and took control of the kiss, grinding together as they devoured each other. Gasping, John pressed closer, his hands sliding down to cup Rodneyís ass so they could rock against one another.

"We," Rodney gasped, pulling back as far as their hold on each other would allow. "We need to stop before this goes too far."

"Fuck," John panted. "Youíre explosive stuff, Mackey."

"McKay," Rodney sighed, closing his eyes when the move slid his erection against the all too apparent bulge in Johnís pants.

"I like Mackey better," John chuckled breathlessly as his hips rocked forward involuntarily.

"Which is more dangerous for me."

"Iím harmless. Just ask anyone."

"Thatís the problem; I can ask anyone. This will start and be really good, and then youíll get bored and poof, over."

John sighed, his eyes closing and his head falling forward so his forehead rested against Rodneyís. "We just established that youíre not boring."

"Oh."

"Yeah. Oh." John raised his head and opened his eyes to stare at Rodney. "Besides, I already promised Katie I wouldnít play games," he said wryly.

Rodney frowned, not noticing he was stroking his hands over Johnís back. "When was this?"

"The first or second day I worked for you."

"But why? Why would she have noticed or cared to comment?"

John lightly dragged a thumb over Rodneyís slightly swollen lower lip. "Because she cares about you, Mackey. And because even when I was trying not to notice you, I noticed you."

"Oh," Rodney repeated, feeling slightly embarrassed at his one-word answers but unable to stop giving them.

"Much as Iíd like otherwise, I think I should get to bed. We can talk about this tomorrow."

Rodney nodded after a moment and let his hands fall away from Johnís back. "Yes, bed; Iíll just show you the guestroom."

"Mackey... Rodney, itís not that I donít want you. We both know better than that." John pressed close again, their erections rubbing together and making both of them gasp, before backing off. "But I think we both know that if we do this, itís going to be more than a one-night stand, and neither of us is thinking straight enough to make that decision right now."

Rodney took a deep breath and nodded shallowly. "I know, I know, and I didnít meanóhell, yes I did, but I know better than to jump without looking, so... Bedroom."

"Alone," John said mournfully. "Which really sucks, and not in a good way."

Rodney quirked a half-smile. "Youíll have Delilah."

"No offense, Mackey, but I really donít want to come on your cat."

"Oh, now thatís disgusting!" Rodney laughed. "Youíre the one who has to wash out his brain, not me!"

"Hey, you got me all hot and bothered, and a sleeping man canít be blamed for his reaction to soft fur and a rumbling purr!" John chuckled.

"Excuse me, suffering from the same reaction here, and if you keep talking about my cat that way, Iím calling the cops!"

"Trust me, your catís not the one I want to do illegal things to."

Rodney chuckled and started up the stairs, looking back to make sure John was following him. "Theyíre only illegal in some states, Iím sure. Now let me find some sheets and towels..."

"Boring states," John said, his eyes intent on Rodneyís ass. "Damn, Mackey, remind me to follow you up stairs more often."

"What?" Rodney glanced back to see John staring at his ass, and flushed. "Oh, um, yes, Iíll have to do that." Flustered, he opened the hall closet and waved a hand at the door to his left.

"Thanks," John said a few minutes later once they had the bed made and McKay was about to leave the room. "Oh, and congratulations on the award tonight."

"Thank you." Rodneyís smile was soft and genuine. "I appreciate that, and you joining me." He looked around and cleared his throat. "The bathroomís to the left when you go in the hall andódo you need some sweats to sleep in?"

John grinned wickedly. "I prefer to sleep in the buff."

Rodney groaned. "Iím getting plastic wrap for Delilah!"

John burst into laughter. "I promise not to molest your cat."

"Thatís good to know." Rodney backed to the door and gave a fleeting smile when Delilah hopped up on the bed and made herself comfortable. "Sleep well, John."

"You too, Rodney."

Despite his fatigue, the eveningís events kept John awake for quite some time before he finally drifted off, so it was no surprise that he didnít wake with the dawn the next morning as he usually did.

A knock came at the door followed by Rodneyís voice not long after that. "If youíre awake, breakfast is ready; if you arenít, you need to be."

John blinked dazedly before realizing where he was and sitting up, the sheet falling to his waist. "What," he called, "I donít get woken with a kiss?"

"Youíre nude, and Iím honest enough to admit that I donít trust myself around you in that state." Rodney was silent a moment before laughing quietly. "But feel free to kiss Delilah."

"Again with the cat," John chuckled. "Youíre kinkier than I gave you credit for, Mackey." He wrapped the sheet around his waist and went over to the door, opening it to grin at Rodney. "And is the offer of sweats still open? Along with a t-shirt? Because I think peopleíll talk if we show up together and Iím wearing a suit."

"And the bare feet wonít be a dead give-away?" Rodney snorted though he obviously was enjoying Johnís bare-chested state.

"Doesnít everyone wear dress shoes and sweats?"

"Oh yes, itís the new fashion; in fact, youíll be wearing just that ensemble in the show."

"Smart ass. Okay, fine, so I donít get to be comfortable today. I guess the shirt would be okay with the sleeves rolled up and the neck unbuttoned, and without the jacket and tie, itís not overly dressy."

"Or you could call your buddy and have him pick you up a pair of shoes from your place if he has a key," Rodney suggested.

John beamed at him. "And thatís a much better idea. I knew I liked you. Now if you tell me coffeeís part of that breakfast you mentioned, I may have to marry you."

Rodney snorted out a laugh. "Itís a good thing I donít take you seriously because the coffee should be done now. Let me grab you some clothes and you can go enjoy it."

"Iím hurt that you think Iím a joke," John sniffed, but the effect was spoiled by his laughter. "And whatís wrong with breakfast in a toga?"

"Letís see," Rodney called as he walked to his own bedroom, "slippage, seepage and spillage."

"Ouch!" John winced. "Though slippage has possibilities."

"Not if weíre getting in to the studio on time" Rodney yelled from his room before coming out with an armful of clothes. "And here you go; come on down when youíre dressed."

"Iíll be right there. Donít want breakfast to get cold, so Iíll shower after." John was right on Rodneyís heels, it only taking a moment to pull on sweats and a t-shirt.

"There should be enough time for that." Rodney paused when Delilah raced down the stairs ahead of him, taking care that he didnít trip over her. "And howíd you sleep?"

"Fine eventually. I had a few things on my mind that kept me from falling asleep right away."

"Hmm, Iím acquainted with that feeling myself." Rodney poured John a mug of coffee and handed it over before getting one for himself.

"Thanks." John took a mouthful and stared down in surprise. "If you can make coffee like this, why do we have that sludge at the studio?"

"Because Iím not bringing thirty-dollar-a-pound coffee in for people to swill like tap water!"

"Good point. And Iím honored that youíd share your coffee." John grinned over the cup at him.

"You should be. Thereís bagels in the basket; Iíve got cream cheese or cheddar cheese, or there should be some peanut butter in the pantry if thatís what you like." Rodney set his mug down and opened a can of cat food, scooping it out into a bowl for Delilah.

"Mmm, fresh bagels and cream cheese. Are you sure you wonít marry me?"

"Without seeing a ring? Hardly."

"You told me to get dressed." John smirked.

Rodney blinked, staring at John. "You mean you have a piercing..." his voice rose.

"Maybe youíll find out one of these days."

Rodney groaned and took a deep swig of his coffee.

John grinned and took a bite of his bagel, then licked cream cheese from his lips.

"Youíre evil, and this after I gave you a bed to sleep in last night."

"Evil? And here Iím offering you my all."

"No, you were offering the possibility of it at some later, undefined time," Rodney grumbled, turning to butter his bagel and keep John from seeing the grin he couldnít hide any longer.

"No, I was offering it if you decide youíre willing to try it."

"Oh, I want to try it, all right, but, like you said, this is something we need to take slow."

"I never said that I take my own advice."

"I didnít think you did, but Iím going to. Now eat, we need to leave in half an hour."

John chuckled easily. "You think weíll ever get on the same page at the same time?" He got himself another cup of coffee, automatically refilling Rodneyís as well.

Nodding his thanks, Rodney took a sip before smiling. "Iíd like to think so; I very much hope so."

"Me too." John picked up the second half of his bagel and took a bite, his eyes intent on Rodney.

"This has to wait until after the show, for both our sakes," Rodney said quietly, his gaze locked on Johnís mouth.

"You want me to wait four months?" John almost yelped.

Rodneyís eyebrows drew downward. "Do you listen to a word I say?"

"Um... I was a little distracted that first day between the amount of money you offered me and ignoring how interested I was," John admitted sheepishly. "So whenís the actual show?" He gave Rodney a little-boy grin.

"Eighteen days and stop smiling at me like that or weíre never going to get out of here!"

"Is that supposed to be a threat or a promise?"

Rodney groaned. "Itís a promise that if we donít get to the studio so I can work, weíll never get back here because Iíll be flayed alive because of my incomplete collection!"

"Fine, fine, Iíll be good. Sort of." John grinned as he stood up to put his dishes in the dishwasher. "I wonít try to get you into my bed till after the show, but now that I know what you taste like, Iím not going to keep my hands off," he warned.

Unable to resist, Rodney slid his arms around Johnís waist and kissed the side of his neck. "Trust me, after the show you wonít have to try, and if you can deal with frustration between now and then, well, I suppose I can as well."

"This is going to be a very long two and a half weeks," John half groaned, half laughed. "Is it going to be a problem in the studio?" he asked, not wanting to make things difficult for Rodney.

"I do believe everyone there knows weíre both gay..."

"Obviously," John snorted. "I meant with you and me being together. I donít want to cause problems with the others, who have been with you a lot longer."

Letting go of Johnís waist, Rodney stepped away from him and began putting the cheeses back in the refrigerator. "Did you see any of them rushing to join me last night?"

John could see that Rodney had been hurt by that, and he slid his arms around the designerís waist, drawing him back against himself. "Iím sure they would have if theyíd known why you wanted company. I know I would have."

"That wasnít the point, was it?" Rodney shrugged before leaning into Johnís embrace.

"And I repeat, youíre a very difficult man, Mackey. Good thing Iíve always preferred the harder path."

Rodney chuckled quietly. "Is that what you told that guy in the bathroom?"

John laughed. "Naw, him I just told I was horny and in a hurry."

"Now thereís a line you donít hear every day; Iím amazed it worked."

Snickering, John pointed out, "You looked at me from two stories up through a window and offered me ridiculous amounts of money to wear your clothes. Do you really think I have trouble getting sex when thatís all I want?"

Rodney flushed at that. "No, I donít doubt that at all, but what I want is for you to go get showered so you can earn the ridiculous amounts of money Iím paying you."

"Slave driver," John pretended to grumble, stealing a kiss before starting out of the room. He hesitated in the doorway and, without turning around, said, "You know about my past, donít you?"

"Military, discharged for doing what I think was both insanely brave and insanely foolish. Basically, the public details."

John nodded, still staring blindly forward. "It cost me my career. And flying. But Rononís alive to marry Teyla and have kids someday. And two other families at least had bodies to bury instead of empty caskets."

After hesitating a moment, Rodney walked forward and rested a hand on Johnís shoulder. "Then it was the right thing to do."

John remained rigid for a moment longer before he slowly relaxed. "Thank you for that. No one except Teyla and Ronon has said that to me."

"Goes to show you what idiots run the military."

The last of the tension bled from Johnís muscles as he laughed. "Yeah, well, I said that a few times myself, which was why I never got higher than major."

"So, is there anything other than the flying you miss about it?"

"Actually, not really. I like being able to be myself, to be with guys without hiding it, and not having to follow orders."

"Canít you fly now?"

"I flew jets and rescue choppers, Rodney. I donít have a few million to get one of those, or even a small plane for that matter. And a commercial airline pilot? No thanks!"

Rodney nodded and let his hand fall from Johnís shoulder. "I suppose it would be like me designing school uniforms. Go on, get cleaned up."

Automatically starting upstairs, John paused to chuckle, "So much for not following orders anymore."

"Morning, people," Rodney called as he entered the studio, John following behind him.

All eyes focused on the two men arriving together, curiosity obvious, especially since John was wearing clothes that were obviously Rodneyís, with dress shoes.

"Your bagís in back, Shep," Ronon said, indicating the area where they changed.

"Thanks." John glanced at Rodney. "Though itís pointless to change if youíre going to have me wearing one of the outfits?"

"Today Iím working with Teyla, so go ahead." Rodney shrugged. He caught Radek and Elizabethís almost apologetic looks and saw an open paper in front of them. "What?"

John stiffened. "That reporter last night... please tell me thatís about Mackeyís award?"

"Yes, it is. Just how did you know about it when we didnít, and Rodney, you should have told us why you were asking about a dinner companion," Elizabeth commented.

"I didnít," John admitted. "I was there with someone else originally, but, well, that changed."

"And as for why I didnít tell you all, it shouldnít have mattered," Rodney commented, pouring himself a cup of coffee.

"Rodney, we had no way of knowing that it was something important. You know we would have gone with you if we had," Radek said.

Rodney shrugged again. "Itís over now; it really doesnít matter."

"Rodney, be nice to your friends. Theyíre trying to apologize... although a little clearer communication from you in the first place would help," John said.

"The man spends one night at my place and thinks he can tell me what to do," Rodney commented before looking at the others goggling at him and laughing.

"Naw, I always did that. You just actually listen to me now." John grinned and caught hold of Rodneyís chin for a quick kiss before sauntering back to change.

"Wonderful," Rodney sighed, "just what I needed. And donít you all have anything to do?"

"Nope," Lorne said blandly, shaking his head.

"We could use some popcorn though," Laura said brightly.

"I hate my life. Teyla, come with me." At her look, he quickly added, "Please."

"Politeness is always preferable," she said serenely, moving to his side.

"As are intact bones, so Iíll attempt to be polite."

She chuckled warmly. "I donít resort to violence unless necessary. And Ronon wonít touch you because this is the first time weíve seen John act like himself since... well, in quite some time."

"My medical insurance thanks you," Rodney smiled as he flipped through the dressed on a rack and handed her one. "Now if you can put this on..."

Teyla took the dress, placed a hand on his shoulder, and kissed his cheek. "Thank you."

He blinked, surprised by the action. "For what?"

"For not shooting him down."

"You canít seriously tell me anyone shoots him down," Rodney scoffed, motioning for her to turn in a circle.

As she turned, Teyla smiled faintly. "You wouldnít think so, but it can happen even to John Sheppard. Heís not actually gay, you know; heís bi. When everything happened and he left the Air Force, he was engaged.. She dumped him when he didnít have the pretty uniform anymore." Teyla hesitated before continuing, "He hasnít dated a woman since, and he hasnít let anyone get close."

"Bitch," Rodney muttered as he studied the way the lilac silk flowed with her movements. "Hold still a minute." He reached for several pins and adjusted the fit of the dress, taking in a bit of loose material on the deep V back. "And Iím not sure weíre what youíd call close, but I will tell you I think all military uniforms are tacky."

"Really?" She looked over her shoulder in surprise. "I always thought Ronon looked edible in his. And John looked pretty damn good too for a skinny white boy," she added with a throaty chuckle. "As for being close, he relaxes around you, and he actually smiles. Real smiles all the way up to his eyes."

"He does?" Rodney asked, brightening at the thought. "And he does look good for a Ďskinny white boyí, but he looks even better in my clothes."

"Your clothes are lovely, Rodney, but John looks wonderful in jeans too." Teyla turned slightly when he indicated she should, then waited for him to adjust the fit again.

Rodney hummed his agreement as he made more adjustments, finally speaking when he was done. "And just how long have you known him?"

"About five years. The bitch ex was my college room mate and onetime best friend." Teyla sighed. "After the break up, I kept John instead of her. Weíd actually talked about a double wedding. I think thatís part of why Ronon and I havenít actually tied the knot yet. We both know it would hurt John. Or it would have. Maybe not now."

Rodney stood and rubbed his lower back before reaching for his cup of coffee and signaling for her to turn again. "Heís lucky he has people who care about him the way you two seem to."

"He is a good man and a good friend," Teyla replied simply. "And we owe him everything. If not for him, Ronon would be dead now. He came so very close," she continued in a voice soft with remembered horror. "Thatís when I left the Secret Service; he was so injured, and I couldnít give him the care and time he needed, we both needed, and continue working. He was more important to me."

"Thatísówowóthat says a lot." Rodney fidgeted before grabbing another dress, this one sheer and white. "All right, try this one now."

Teylaís eyes widened. "This is beautiful, Rodney. May I buy it? This is the wedding dress I want," she said, holding it up in front of her.

"Shouldnít you try it on before just saying that?" Rodney asked, looking very ill-at-ease at her sudden emotional display.

Still holding it in front of her as she looked in the mirror, Teyla smiled slowly. "Youíll make it fit perfectly, and I can already see the style." She met his eyes in the mirror. "You are a very talented man, Rodney."

"Of course I am," he sniffed, before walking up behind her and sighing. "Fine, there goes one design for the show; as if I donít have enough work to do!"

Teyla chuckled. "Show it as an exclusive, not for sale." She slipped it on and ran a possessive hand over the silky fabric covering her hip.

"Thatís all and well, but I still need a certain number of pieces for the collection," Rodney grumbled, before admitting, "It does look good on you."

"Of course it does," Teyla replied serenely before chuckling. "Thank you, Rodney. Itís perfect."

He flushed slightly and nodded. "Just donít expect me to give it away to you because it looks good on you."

"I can easily afford whatever price you put on it. And itís worth it," Teyla added, looking at herself with satisfaction. "Iíll go shopping this weekend for the right accessories."

"Is this before or after you tell Gargantua youíre getting married, and the ceremony had better not be in the next three weeks!"

"I believe Ronon realized that when I accepted his proposal. And no, we wonít set the date within the next three weeks." Teyla smiled faintly.

"Thank goodness; I donít need any more heart attack-causing incidents."

Teyla chuckled. "You mean you havenít yet noticed that Johnís an adrenalin junkie?"

Rodney paled. "Wonderful; Iím going to have gray hair and a heart attack before I even get laid!"

"I think the getting laid part would distract him from anything else," she laughed, patting him on the shoulder.

"Well, I know it will distract me which is why it isnít happening until after the show either."

"You have impressive willpower." Teylaís grin widened.

"I have a business to run, and I canít afford any of you if my collection flops because I was concentrating more on my dick than it."

"I have a feeling John is going to learn to hate your shows," she chuckled, turning to see how the dress fit with Rodneyís alterations. "Perfect," she breathed.

Rodney nodded before half-turning when he heard raised voices from the other room. "Hrmmm, it sounds as if Carsonís here."

"Yes, Laura does sound somewhat displeased," Teyla replied, amusement clear in her voice. She didnít approve of the games the other woman played, and she hoped the doctor would stop letting her get away with them.

"Her own fault," he shrugged. "I donít like people playing around with people I care about, and sheíd done it long enough."

Teyla smiled again. "I am glad John found you."

"Excuse me, but I found him!"

"I think you found each other," she murmured. "Which is good for both of you."

Rodney flushed. "Well, yes. I hope so anyway. Now get out of that dress so we can out it aside and I can go stop the war thatís brewing out there.

In moments Teyla had removed the dress and handed it back to him, then slipped into the next outfit he had indicated. "Shall I just wait here while you go prevent bloodshed?" she offered.

"You donít want to watch?"

"Iíve seen violence before, thank you. It holds no fascination for me."

"I didnít mean it was going to be blood and guts," Rodney protested, looking faintly ill at the thought of it.

"Heaven forbid. Your clothes might get stained," Teyla teased gently.

"Exactly!"

"Then after you. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch you." Teyla stepped down off the platform and waited for him to go back out into the main room.

Rodney snorted as he walked toward the door. "So glad to be entertaining," he commented as he opened the door and walked into the outer part of the loft, the noise appreciably louder once the door was open. "Enough!" he bellowed, startling everyone.

Laura blinked in surprise. "Good Lord, Rodney, are you trying to deafen us all?"

"Good lung capacity," John murmured, grinning wickedly.

"I am trying to bring some order to the madhouse my life has descended into. Now what is the problem out here?"

"I simply showed up ta congratulate ye on yer award and apologize again for missing yer dinner," Carson began.

"Without the blonde bimbo," Laura started, making John roll his eyes.

"Are you learning impaired?" he muttered.

"Laura, are you calling my ex-wife a bimbo?" Rodney asked, his tone deceptively mild.

She stared at him. "Youíre gay!"

"Oh my God, she is learning impaired!" John observed to Ronon, who nodded slightly.

"I am?" Rodney looked down at himself, then at the others, and shrieked, "Why didnít anyone tell me?!"

"I did my best last night," John said.

"Oh, thatís why your hands were down my pants. Carson, did you know I was gay?"

"I dinna have a clue, Rodney."

"Assholes," Laura grumbled, glaring at all of them.

John opened his mouth to say something, but Teyla slapped a hand over it. "No!" she said sternly, making him pout.

"And why do you care anyway, Laura?" Rodney continued. "Itís not as if you wanted to keep Carson, is it?"

Laura hesitated. "It would only have been courteous to have said something, not left me to find out that way that you werenít interested anymore, Carson," she said, trying for injured dignity.

Katie snorted. "Oh, donít be such a bitch, Laura. You can be halfway decent when you can be bothered. You just didnít like getting back what you were doing to him."

Carson shot Rodney a pleading look, making him groan. "I so do not need this."

"I could relax you," John instantly offered, inspiring several chuckles around the room.

"Seventeen days," Rodney shot back.

Carson sighed and glanced over at him. "I canna keep this up forever, ye know."

"Hey, that seventeen days was meant for me," John exclaimed, moving between the two men. "Go set up housekeeping with Laura and this Sam person and have many happy orgies, but Rodneyís mine."

"I dinna want that!"

"Just making sure." John grinned at Rodney. "Iím not into sharing."

"Heís my brother," Rodney grumbled, "thatís disgusting."

"Stepbrother," Laura snapped, "and can we get back on topic here?!"

"Sure," Katie said easily. "You treated Carson like shit, and now youíre pissed that he dumped you for someone who appreciates him. Oh, and Johnís very possessive of Rodney. Is that about it?"

Lauraís eyes narrowed, and she looked from Katie to Carson, who sighed. "Iíll nae argue with the description."

"So because you decided our relationship should change without bothering to talk to me, Iím the bitch? Nice!"

John shook his head, finally looking away from Rodney. "Youíre not stupid, Laura. You knew exactly what you were doing. You just didnít think heíd call you on it."

Carson shifted uncomfortably, and Rodney rested a hand on his shoulder. "Can ye really call what we had a relationship, lass?"

About to respond hotly, Laura met his level blue gaze, and she slowly deflated as her own innate honesty forced her to admit, "No, I suppose not."

"They say that admitting you have a problemís the first step to solving it," Lorne commented.

"I donít think youíre supposed to take the twelve-step approach to relationships," John muttered.

"They just agreed they werenít in a relationship," Rodney shot back.

"Well, maybe thatís the problem. Maybe they should be."

"Donít tell me, tell themóor more precisely, Laura!"

Laura stared at Carson. "Is it too late to try again?"

"That depends," he answered seriously, "is it going to be what it was or something more?"

"That would be pretty pointless, wouldnít it? Maybe we could try actually dating?" she said slowly.

Carson nodded. "Thatís all I ever wanted, love."

She smiled slowly. "Sometimes it takes me a little while to get with the program."

"Finally!" Rodney muttered before adding loudly, "Can we get back to work now?"

"Yeah, I have a vested interest in getting this show done!" John laughed.

"No idea what that might be," Ronon snorted.

John smirked at his friend. "Then youíve been sleeping on the sofa too long, Ro."

Rodney glanced over at Teyla, his eyebrows raised. "You make him sleep on the couch?"

"You believe everything John says?" Teylaís eyebrows climbed even higher.

"Hardly; I was simply checking."

"Iím so abused," John sighed.

"Donít worry, Delilah loves you."

Carson eyes Rodney strangely. "And just when did he meet yer cat?"

"You mean itís possible to go in that house and not meet Delilah?" John laughed. "I thought she was trying to move inside my skin this morning."

"This morning?" Carson echoed.

Rodney looked up at the ceiling. "You dumped me for some sick eighty-year-old last night; John dumped his date at the awards and couldnít remember where he lived, so I took him home."

"Itís not that he doesnít know where he lives," Ronon explained, "but he has no sense of direction on the ground."

"Thatís not true!" John protested, making Ronon and Teyla stare at him.

"John, you had no idea which way to go on the interstate," Rodney reminded him.

"And you can never remember which way to go to get to Pizza Hut," Lorne added cheerfully.

John crossed his arms and sulked.

"He looks really cute that way, Rodney; Iíd kiss him if I were you," Katie laughed.

Johnís eyes darted to Rodney.

"God, if I donít his face will probably freeze that way," Rodney grumbled, though he was grinning slightly as he walked over and brushed a kiss over Johnís mouth.

John raised a hand to the back of Rodneyís neck and pulled him in to deepen the kiss, leading to catcalls from most of the others. John raised his head and looked around. "Jealousy will get you nowhere."

"Hey, weíre just hoping Rodney will be in a better mood now!"

"Oh, very funny," Rodney grumbled.

"Iíll do my best to keep him smiling," John vowed.

"You do that and Iíll give you a raise!" Elizabeth laughed.

"Can I take it in trade?"

"From Elizabeth?" Rodney squawked.

John snorted. "From you, you idiot."

"Oh, all right, much better."

Carson looked over from his conversation with Laura and shook his head affectionately even as he brushed a hand over Lauraís cheek.

"Um, Carson," Laura said hesitantly, "the blonde?"

"Sheís a friend, thatís all," he sighed. "I suppose I wanted ye ta know how I felt seeing ye with other men."

"Oh." She blushed faintly. "I didnít like it. I... Iím sorry."

"I canít say I am, if only because it seems ta have straightened things out between us."

Laura smiled slowly. "Maybe we could go out for dinner after weíre done here? Or maybe I could make you dinner at my apartment."

"Iíd like that verra much, lass," Carson smiled. "Particularly the dinner out part."

"Then thatís what weíll do," Laura said, lacing her fingers through his. "And you can pick the place, anywhere you want."

Lorne looked at Carson and Lauraís linked hands; John and Rodney, who were kissing again; Rononís arm around Teylaís shoulders as they talked quietly; Elizabeth and Radek smiling at each other, and he groaned. "God, Iím going to be sick. Go get rooms!"

"Please!" Katie added, "Or weíll leave!"

"No one leaves!" Rodney snapped, pulling back from John but leaving his hands on his ass.

"Not till after the show, anyhow," John laughed. "Well, okay, maybe to sleep occasionally between now and then."

"Youíre nuts," Ronon said.

"I happen to like his work ethic!"

"Never mind, John, we know what you like," Teyla said hastily when she saw him open his mouth to say something.

"And Laura and I have a date this evening, so I assure ye that she isnae going ta be here late tonight," Carson warned.

"And I helped you why?"

"Youíre sharing the happiness," John chirped.

"Youíve got to be kidding."

"Pretty much, yeah. I think I just nauseated myself."

"And the rest of us," Ronon grumbled.

"That was a bonus."

"What has my life descended to?" Rodney groaned before giving himself a shake. "All right; Lorne, I need you in the back. Radek, run everyone else through the changes that are ready."

"Thank god itís over," Rodney groaned, collapsing face down on a divan in the area in back of the stage, ignoring the festivities around him as everyone celebrated the successful show with champagne and high spirits.

John dropped down beside him and nudged him. "Arenít you forgetting the remainder of tonightís scheduled activities?"

Rodney lifted his head and turned it to the side. "I really hope you arenít suggesting that we strip and go for it right here, right now."

"Naw, too much chance of interruption. Iím suggesting you get that bitable ass up off the sofa and we get the hell out of here. You said we had to wait till after the show. Well, guess what? The showís over. My turn!"

"And just where are we going?" Rodney sat up slowly, brushing against Johnís body as he did so. "From what I recall, you couldnít find your way home last time you were in this area."

John stuck his tongue out, not caring how it made him look. "Fine, so weíll go to your house. No oneís likely to brave your wrath to bother us there anyhow."

Unable to resist, Rodney caught John by the back of his neck and pulled him in to suck on that tempting pink tongue. Shuddering, John leaned against him, opening his mouth wider to let Rodney take whatever he wanted.

"Did you come on your own?" Rodney murmured, brushing his lips against Johnís.

John nodded. "I was hoping to get lucky tonight, so I caught a ride with Ronon and Teyla and told them not to wait for me."

"Ahh, so that explains where theyíve vanished to; I suppose I should be glad they played nice with the reporters and guests for as long as they did."

"Yup. Rononís been very affectionate since she finally decided to set the date."

"And he actually seems less likely to perform bodily harm on me because of my part in that," Rodney smirked.

"Aw, heís a big teddy bear," John chuckled.

Rodney snorted. "More of a bear trap!"

John snickered. "That too. Heís a good man to have with you in a fight."

"Iíd really rather avoid the fighting part, thank you."

"I can think of other things Iíd rather do with you," John agreed with a leer.

"Which means I have to get up," Rodney laughed, using John as a lever to help him up.

John ran a hand over Rodneyís groin. "Youíre getting there."

Rodney sucked in a quick breath and wavered, catching himself with a hand on Johnís shoulder. "At this rate, weíre going to get a damn hotel room, and Delilah will never forgive me."

"Well, we canít have that." John crowded close to Rodney, so close that each individual fleck of green, gold and brown in his hazel eyes was clearly visible to the designer. "So letís get back to your place, and you can make both Delilah and me very happy."

"If I donít kill us getting there." Rodneyís voice was a broken gasp.

John shook his head slowly. "You wonít. Neither of us is going to miss what comes next."

Rodney grabbed him and pulled him in for another kiss, hungrily devouring Johnís mouth as he pulled John to his feet.

John responded for long, dark seconds before pulling back, a hand on Rodneyís chest to keep them apart. "Either we get in your car now or we do go for it right here," he rasped, licking his lips as he stared at Rodney ravenously.

"No. Not in public. Not when itís this important." Rodneyís color rose, and he staggered back a step before nodding.

John broke into a wide, delighted smile. "So car then," he agreed, his voice even deeper and huskier than it had been before.

"Car. Right." Rodney nodded sharply before looking around. "Radek, you can handle the rest of this, right?"

The Czech snickered. "As well as you will handle him."

"Donít bet on it," John retorted.

"Iím putting my money on John," Rodney laughed, catching Johnís hand and urging him toward the door.

"Thatís not all youíre putting on me," John muttered for Rodneyís ears only.

"Oh no, I have plans for tonight, John. Lots of celebratory plans."

Shivering, John glanced over at Rodney. "I like the sound of that. A lot."

Rodney flashed a fleeting smile. "I hope you like the reality even more."

"I have absolutely no doubt about it." John was already hard, and his gaze was hot as it met Rodneyís.

"Christ, if you look at me that way when Iím driving, Iím going to wrap us around a pole."

"Actually, I was thinking about looking at you and jerking off."

Rodney whimpered.

"Oh fuck," John breathed. "If you keep making sounds like that, Iím going to come in my pants!"

Rodney gave a strangled laugh. "At least you changed."

"Your concern for your clothes is overwhelming," John snorted.

"Iíd rather concentrate on you than the clothes."

John actually stopped in his tracks and stared at Rodney before grabbing him and yanking him into a hard, sloppy kiss. "Get us to your house," he growled.

"Then keep your hand away from yourself in the car!" Rodney hissed, dragging John into the parking garage and to his car.

"Spoilsport," John chuckled, though his breath caught as he sank into the seat and watched Rodney slide in beside him.

Rodney rolled his eyes and concentrated on driving, wanting to get them out of there and to his house as soon as possible.

John watched Rodneyís hands on the steering wheel, and he licked his lips, groaning softly without realizing it.

"What?" Rodney asked sharply, glancing to the side.

"I want your hands on me."

Rodney groaned, and his hands tightened on the steering wheel. "Soon. Once we get home and inside, weíll both get what we want."

"I hope you donít plan on getting a lot of sleep."

"Radek and Elizabeth can handle the orders tomorrowóof course youíre going to be in demand as well."

"Thereís only one person whose demands Iím interested in right now."

Rodney gave a short laugh and pressed harder on the accelerator.

"And I intend to be equally demanding." John leaned over to nibble on Rodneyís neck.

"John..." Rodney moaned, the car wavering slightly as his attention drifted.

John forced himself to sit up and keep his hands to himself. "Drive, Rodney."

Rodney gave a weak laugh and nodded. "Driving, right." Even though he managed to get control of himself again, he whipped around the corner into his subdivision with a squeal of tires and did the same onto his street.

"You have a great future as a race car driver," John chuckled.

"Very funny," Rodney muttered as he pulled into his garage, shutting off the engine and leaning over to pull John into a kiss. John went eagerly, nearly strangling himself before he remembered to unfasten his seatbelt. Freed, he crawled over into Rodneyís lap and pressed close, rocking against him while they continued to kiss almost desperately.

"God, gotta get inside. More room," Rodney gasped as he pulled at Johnís shirt, popping buttons from the pale blue brushed cotton in his frenzy to get at the warm flesh beneath.

"Oh Jesus, you want me to move now?"

Rodney nodded. "Need to, so we can get inside." He gasped as John ground down against him.

"You are a sadistic bastard," John gritted out, forcing himself to climb off Rodney and stagger out of the car. "Youíd better be planning to make sure neither of us can walk by morning."

"I didnít tell you to climb on top of me!" Rodney protested as he clambered out as well, crowding up behind John and pushing him toward the door, wanting to get him inside.

"You were there!"

"And I want you in my bed!"

John whimpered, causing Rodney to groan, then curse when Delilah wound around their ankles, almost causing them to fall. "God, let me feed her, and then youíre all mine."

John veered toward the kitchen without a word. He waited until Rodney was reaching for the cat food before dropping his shirt on the floor, and his shoes were off and his pants down around his ankles by the time Rodney turned around again.

Now it was Rodneyís turn to whimper before he got a hold of himself. "If I cut off my fingers opening this, weíre going to end up spending the night in the hospital!"

John leaned back against the counter and stroked himself lazily. "Just trying to give you some incentive to hurry."

"Bastard," Rodney grumbled, finally tearing his eyes away from John to dump the food in Delilahís bowl, taking the time to check her water before gently nudging her away and walking toward John, his expression intent.

"Goal-oriented," John countered, licking his lips as he watched Rodney stalk him.

"Come here," Rodney whispered, holding out a hand.

A shiver wracked Johnís lean frame, but he took the single step forward necessary to clasp Rodneyís hand. Giving him a firm tug, Rodney pulled John against his body, his large hands roaming over Johnís bare body as he nuzzled Johnís throat.

"Oh God, please," John panted, the sensation of Rodneyís clothes against his naked skin making him squirm pleasurably.

"What?" Rodney ground against Johnís body before closing his teeth lightly on his neck.

"Fuck me!" John begged, rocking into Rodney.

"Bedroom."

John wrenched himself away from Rodney and nearly staggered toward the door, not giving a damn how ridiculous a naked man with a hard-on looked in Rodneyís cheery kitchen, just so long as Rodney was following him.

"Gorgeous," Rodney breathed, wrenching off his jacket and tie and letting them fall to the floor, followed closely by his shirt as he chased after John.

Chuckling, John peered back at him. "Now I know youíre crazy, but I like it."

"Because I think youíre gorgeous?"

"Rodney, Iím naked man trying to walk with a third leg. But I think youíre gorgeous too, so I guess it makes us even."

Rodney gave a choked laugh at that comment and slid his arms around Johnís waist, pressing up against him and walking him into the bedroom.

"Fuck, you feel good," John groaned, letting himself lean back against Rodneyís broader body.

"Itíll feel better when weíre fucking," Rodney murmured, stroking his hands over Johnís chest, following the line of his hair down to his groin but avoiding his erection for the moment.

John spun around, his hands tearing at Rodneyís remaining clothes. He didnít care if he tore them, only knowing that he needed to touch Rodneyís bare flesh.

"God, yes, John," Rodney gasped out, shedding his clothes as quickly as possible before spinning them both and pressing John against the wall by the door so that he could rub against him, his hands tangling in Johnís unruly hair as they traded sloppy, hungry kisses.

"Lube," John panted, almost ready to tell Rodney to forget about it and just fuck him already.

"Bed," Rodney repeated, backing off enough to grab Johnís hands and pull him toward the bed, tumbling down onto it after him.

"Oh yeah." John sprawled across the covers, arms and legs spread, and smiled up at Rodney. "Finally!"

Rodney nodded, rolling to his side and grabbing for the lube and condoms in the drawer of his bedside table before settling on top of John again, kissing him as they moved together, their bare skin sliding together.

"Now!" John growled, his hands moving shakily over Rodneyís broad shoulders and back to grab his ass, pulling Rodney closer so that their cocks nestled together between them.

Rodney gasped, yanking back to sheathe his cock and coat it with lube, shoving two slick fingers into Johnís ass and groaning at the way Johnís fingers dug into his arms at the penetration.

"Jesus, you, not your fingers," John demanded, writhing under him.

"Iím not going to hurt you," Rodney hissed, quickly adding a third finger before pulling back and pressing his cock against the tight hole and pushing inside, hissing as the tight heat surrounded him.

"Oh fuck yes," John groaned, pushing down onto Rodney, trying to force him deeper. "Oh God, perfect," he babbled, his fingers digging into Rodneyís forearms. Rodney whimpered in answer and rocked his way deeper into Johnís body, finally bottoming out then catching Johnís mouth for a claiming kiss. John opened to him, letting Rodney claim him in every way and eagerly meeting him stroke for stroke.

"John," Rodney moaned, pushing up enough to stare down into his lust-darkened eyes, the green flecks vanishing in the rush of gold and brown.

"Rodney." It was all John could say, but it was enough. He curled his hand around the back of Rodneyís neck and pulled him back down for another kiss, biting at Rodneyís lower lip. Rodney groaned into the kiss, his whole body trembling as he tried to keep the pace slow, his hands worming under Johnís waist to dig into his back.

"Worth waiting for," John murmured against Rodneyís lips, slowly clenching around Rodney, holding him still for a moment.

"Of course it was!" Rodney announced before giving a breathless laugh as John arched up under him.

"Less bragging, more fucking!" John demanded.

Rodneyís laugh turned into a groan as John tightened down on him, and he drove forward, rubbing against Johnís cock, his movements becoming sharper and less rhythmic as his orgasm neared.

"Oh yeah, just like that," John panted, riding each thrust and groaning each time Rodneyís belly rubbed over his sensitive cock head.

"Oh yeah," Rodney moaned, driving forward into John and shuddering.

John kissed him hungrily, his own cock still aching as he wrapped arms and legs tightly around Rodney. He was so close, almost there, but he needed just a little more. Rodney groaned and bit at Johnís lower lip, his fingers digging into Johnís arms as he pressed down, wanting to feel John come.

John stared up into the blue eyes, their tongues stroking over one another, and suddenly he yelled sharply and thrust up against Rodney. Spasm after spasm shook him, and his seed spattered both of them as he came.

"John," Rodney moaned, the spasms around him driving him to his own climax, one that seemed unending. John shuddered, sympathetic pleasure making him clench down on Rodney.

"This was better than the reviews Iím going to get for the show," Rodney murmured before licking the sweat from Johnís shoulder.

"Wow, now I know you really like me," John chuckled, raising his head to kiss Rodney.

Rodney snorted and rolled his eyes though he didnít move from where he was.

"Just tell me that youíre not going to make me wait till after the next show to do this again?"

"What do you think?"

John grinned. "Just checking. Not that I wouldnít wait, but Iíd much rather do it in your bed. Or you in mine. Or did you realize that your desk, not your precious drawing table, donít worry, is right at waist height?"

"Do you spend all your time scouting out possible places to have sex?"

"Donít you?"

"No!"

"Are you sure youíre a guy?"

"Whatís that supposed to mean?!"

"Guys think about sex, Rodney. Especially when theyíre not getting any and spending damn near every minute of the day with the person they want."

"I know that," Rodney blustered. "It was hard to think of anything else with you slinking around everywhere, but I have a disciplined mind, so I compartmentalized."

"I fantasized."

"So you told me. In detail."

"I have a fertile imagination."

"And I look forward to seeing it put into action."

"Oh, I can guarantee that youíll do more than see it."

Rodney chuckled. "Just remember, I do have to work from time to time."

"I suppose I could make myself comfortable under your desk..."

"And youíre going to have photo shoots!"

John groaned. "I canít wait until thatís all over. If one more person paws at me, Iím not going to be responsible for my actions."

"Now, now, if Ronon and Teyla can deal with it, so can you," Rodney soothed, kissing the bridge of Johnís nose.

"They protect each other. You throw me to the wolves!"

"Is it my fault you in my clothes turns people on?"

"You donít seem to have any trouble keeping your hands off me," John complained.

"That was before the show!" Rodney pouted. "Weíd agreed to wait."

"That doesnít mean I had to like it," John pointed out.

"And you think I did?"

"Considering present circumstances, no, I guess not. But you can be frighteningly focused!"

"And right now Iím focused on you."

"Hmm, suddenly Iím liking your focus."

Rodney chuckled and leaned in to give John a kiss.

John grinned up at him. "I can admit when Iím wrong. Your focus is a thing of beauty."

"Iím very glad you think so." Rodney grinned and rolled to the side and stretched out next to John.

"Maybe weíll be able to cover all of those fantasies," John mused, turning onto his side and nestling against Rodney.

"Tonight?"

John burst into laughter. "No, not even I could manage that. Besides, we have a long time to explore all the possibilities."

Rodney nodded and stroked a hand over Johnís back. "Much longer than your contract."

"Maybe even indefinite," John suggested.

A small weight dipped the bed, and Rodney chuckled. "I think Delilah is as happy with that thought as I am.

John reached over to pet her and was rewarded with a deep purr and a head rubbing their shoulders. "I think you may be right."

"She knows a softie when she sees one."

"Thanks to you."

Rodney scowled. "Excuse me?"

John laughed. "I meant that youíre why Iím soft."

"Ahh." Rodneyís frown turned into a grin, and he nuzzled Johnís throat. "Well then, after we rest a bit, Iíll have to do something to remedy that situation."

"I look forward to it," John said with pleasure. "It really may be a week before we get out of this bed for more than food and the bathroom."

"You do realize I have to sell my designs to pay your exorbitant salary..."

"Not this week you donít. You just had a show; now itís our turn."

Rodney chuckled. "You donít know the fashion world, but Iíll keep the meetings to a bare minimum, I promise." He stroked a hand down Johnís chest.

"Youíd better or I will start crawling under tables!" John rolled onto his back to make it easier for Rodney to explore his body, nearly purring with contentment as he was petted.

"Fine with me; itíll save me from dying of boredom." Delilah decided that Johnís chest looked comfortable and settled herself on it, making Rodney grin.

John nearly went cross-eyed staring down at her. "So every time you get off me, sheís going to get on? What are you, a double act?"

"She must have gotten used to having you to herself that night." Rodney stroked a hand over the catís body, making her purr.

"Well, sheís just going to have to learn to share. Because I like having you here."

"Do you think Iím arguing? Besides, I already know you have perverted designs on my cat, so Iíll just have to divert them to myself to keep her safe."

John chuckled. "Youíre so self-sacrificing."

Rodney smirked. "I know, Iím a saint."

"Uh huh. Maybe with a tarnished halo."

"Cock ring."

John blinked. "Um... How scary is it that I think thatís hot?"

Rodney only grinned, and Delilah shifted to lick Johnís chin.

"The cat has got to go before anything like that happens!"

"Well of course, what do you think I am? Perverted??"

One dark eyebrow winged upward. "You can ask that after your last comment? But I like to think we both draw the line at involving our furry friends."

"Thatís not perverted; thatís kinky," Rodney snorted.

John thought about it for a moment. "True," he admitted. "And I like kinky."

"Somehow, I gathered that was a fact.

"Like you donít." John alternated between stroking Delilah and Rodney, both of them purring.

"Did I say that? Because Iím sure such words never crossed my lips!"

"Youíre cute when you fume. You puff up just like your cat."

"I was right; you do have a cat fixation!"

"Naw, I have a Rodney fixation."

"Well, considering that I feel the same way about you, Iím glad."

Delilah yawned to show what she felt about the conversation.

John chuckled. "I donít think your catís impressed with us right now. I think weíre keeping her up."

Rodney snorted. "Do I look like I care?"

"Not really. But weíd better not squash her, or declawed or not, sheíll make us sorry."

"Am I arguing that fact? Weíll move her highness before we start anything rambunctious."

"She has us well trained," John chuckled.

"And this surprises you?" Rodney arched into Johnís touch, his own hand stroking the hollow of Johnís hip just below Delilahís tail.

John smiled and made a soft sound of pleasure. He was almost surprised to realize that he enjoyed this time just relaxing, touching and talking almost as much as the sex.

"What?" Rodney asked, continuing to stroke the soft skin, then, with a grin, teasing the spot with the tip of the catís tail.

John shivered, and both he and Delilah gave Rodney disgruntled looks.

"What?" Rodney asked again, looking at both of them.

"You disturbed us," John said, explaining the looks. "But aside from that... I like this."

Rodney nodded. "I do too. Itís... nice. I know thatís a horrible word, but it is."

John nodded in turn. "Yeah, it is." He shifted Delilah to one side and pulled Rodney closer, brushing a kiss over his lips. "Very nice."

The cat grumbled and stalked off the bed, thumping down to the floor and out of the room, and Rodney chuckled as he pulled John closer. "Very, very nice."

"Delilah would seem to disagree at the moment," John chuckled. "But I think this is a case where threeís a crowd."

"Exactly; Iíll buy her a nice can of tuna tomorrow to make up for it."

"You might want to add some breath mints to that if sheís going to keep lying on my chest," John said wryly.

"Donít like tuna?" Rodney asked wryly.

John groaned and rolled his eyes. "No, I prefer salami."

Rodney snickered and leaned in to nip at his lower lip. "Good."

"I didnít think there was really much doubt left. You were just buried up my ass, after all."

"And Iím hoping to have you in mine in the near future, so itís always good to be clear."

"Okay, in the interest of clarity, I happen to love the idea of fucking you and hope to do it often. And to have you reciprocate just as often."

"Both excellent ideas; Iím so very glad youíre more than just a pretty face."

"Aww, youíll turn my head with your flattery."

Rodney snorted.

"So is time to get some sleep, or do you have the energy for a shower?"

"You really want me to get up and move after the month and evening Iíve had?"

"So that would be a no to the shower." John simply settled himself more comfortably. "A nap before act two?"

Rodney lifted his head slightly to study him. "Do you mind?"

"Of course not. Guy here," John snorted. "Sex is supposed to be followed by sleep."

"Just checking; considering what youíve told me of your sex drive, I wasnít sure," he paused and yawned, "that once would wear you out."

"Still human," John chuckled. "Recovery period is good."

Rodney shifted so that he was lying half on top of John and cuddled close. "What comes after is even better."

An arm tightening around Rodneyís waist, John nodded. "But itís all pretty good," he murmured, nuzzling into Rodney.

"Be even better if the light was out."

Chuckling, John slid over and turned the bedside light off before sliding back down and setting Rodney back on top of him. "Really nice," he murmured.

"What are you doing?" Rodney groaned as he woke before squirming as John shifted beside him to lick at his nipple. "Donít you ever sleep?"

"I did sleep. Now Iím awake again. And all rested up."

"Oh my god, Iím in love with the Everready Bunny!" Rodney groaned before freezing, realizing what heíd said. "Unnm, disregard that comment if you donít mind."

John froze before slowly raising his head to stare at Rodney, the hazel eyes wide and almost dazed. "You love me?" he whispered, barely audibly.

Rodneyís whole body tensed, and his expression turned wary before settling into stubborn defensiveness. "Iím not the type to invite just any pretty face home, and Iím certainly not the type to sleep with them."

If Rodney hadnít already been lying down, Johnís lunge would have knocked him over. Johnís kiss was wild and fervent, and he stretched out over Rodney, lacing his fingers through the other manís.

Once John stopped mauling him and pulled back slightly, Rodney stared up at him, his blue eyes wide and dazed. "IóIím guessing you donít mind that fact?" he asked.

"No, I think it works out pretty well since I love you too."

"You do?"

John smiled wryly. "I do. Youíre irritating, often obnoxious, mouthy, sarcastic, brilliant, hot, and exactly what I want."

"Iím notó" Rodney began before hearing the rest of Johnís statement and offering a boyish smile. "You do realize Iím very selfish, donít you?"

"Youíre a lot more generous than youíd like people to believe."

"I meant regarding you."

"Oh." John looked pleased and smiled almost shyly. "Iím glad. And it goes both ways, you know."

"Oh yes, the crowds of people waiting to grace my bed are a definite cause to be jealous about."

"There are plenty whoíd jump you if you stopped growling at them long enough. But Iím not into sharing!"

"And I donít want them; I want you!"

"Which works out pretty well, I think," John repeated before kissing Rodney again.

"Though I hope this means that youíre going to get in me sometime before the sun rises," Rodney chuckled.

"Oh, I can guarantee that." John grinned down at him. "In fact, I think itís going to be sooner rather than later." He rocked against Rodney, letting him feel how John was hardening.

"Well, I would hope so!" Rodney exclaimed, winding his legs around Johnís thighs and rubbing up against him.

"Has anyone ever told you that youíre very demanding?" John chuckled.

"Is that a rhetorical question?"

John laughed. "Fortunately Iím obviously totally head over heels since I think itís cute."

Rodney snorted. "If I wasnít as well, Iíd smack you for that."

"Kinky. Either that or youíre getting abusive already."

"Yes, this is when I tell you that you have to drop all your friends and youíre not to speak to anyone else ever again."

"Uh huh. And then I tie you to the bed and keep you as my love slave."

"Sounds fun."

"I knew I liked you," John chuckled.

"Like?" Rodney huffed.

"Oh fine, love, adore, worship, live for your next pithy utterance..."

"Much better."

"You are such a nut."

"Yes, but Iím the nut who pays your salaryóand who loves you..."

"And I love you right back." John smiled happily.

"Then stop talking and fuck me!"

Laughing, John reached for the lube and then rubbed a fingertip over Rodneyís hole, not pushing inside yet.

"That isnít fucking me..."

"Thatís because itís fun to tease you and make you wild for me." The finger never stopped moving.

"Were you a Nazi in another life?" Rodney gasped as he writhed. "Torture isnít fun!"

"Patience is a virtue, Rodney." John pushed a single finger inside him.

"Have you noticed Iím not particularly virtuous?"

"Oh yeah," John said happily, adding more lube and a second finger, causing Rodney to moan and collapse back on the bed, his hips arching up eagerly.. John groaned harshly, and his free hand fumbled for a condom. A moment later, his fingers were gone, and he was pushing inside Rodney, groaning again at the tightness.

"Oh fuck, John!" Rodney gasped, wrapping his arms around Johnís back, his fingers digging into the warm, firm skin there.

"Exactly," John replied, pausing as his balls came to rest flush against Rodneyís ass. He took Rodneyís mouth in a messy, hungry kiss and slowly began to draw back, making Rodney lunge upward, not wanting to lose the feeling of being filled.

John chuckled and pressed Rodney down again, still slowly pulling out of him. "Hard to fuck you if I donít move," he pointed out before pushing forward again, a little faster than before.

Rodney whimpered but loosened his grip slightly as he tightened down on Johnís cock.

"Oh fuck, you feel good," John rasped, rocking back again and adding a slight twist to his hips as he drove back into Rodney, who moaned and moved with him, his erection rubbing against Johnís belly with each thrust. John lowered himself slightly, increasing the friction against Rodneyís cock, and he kissed Rodney again, one hand moving between them to scratch and twist one of Rodneyís nipples, making Rodney cry out and arch up under him, his fingers digging into Johnís back.

"God yeah, thatís it, so fucking good," John babbled, fucking him harder as the slight sting of Rodneyís nails spurred him on.

A direct hit on his prostate had Rodney howling, and he bucked upward under Johnís weight, spasming as he came, hot semen coating both their stomachs. John groaned when Rodney convulsed and clenched down hard on his cock, and he pounded into Rodney again and again until his own climax caught him almost by surprise.

More than happy to just lie there with Johnís weight heavy on him, Rodney stroked his hands over Johnís warm, sweaty back, sliding his legs down Johnís thighs but still holding on to him. John lay on top of Rodney, panting for breath, and he started to chuckle. "Hell, if Iíd known you were like this in bed, you wouldnít have had to pay me a dime to stick around."

"Prostituting yourself for my art?" Rodney murmured.

"I like your art, Rodney, but the only thing Iíd prostitute myself for is your body."

"And you think I have a problem with that answer?"

"Naw, I didnít really think so." John carefully withdrew and disposed of the condom, then stretched out next to Rodney with his head on Rodneyís shoulder and one arm and one leg flung possessively over him.

"Good." Rodney laced his fingers together around Johnís waist and relaxed. "So I get to play pillow for you?"

"Everyone needs a purpose in life."

"I think I could live with that being mine."

John raised his head to beam at Rodney. "Good. ĎCause I probably should have warned you that once I have something, I donít give it up."

Rodney snorted out a laugh. "Would you call any part of my behavior altruistic or sharing?"

"Good," John said again, radiating smug satisfaction. "I like the sound of this."

Rodney nodded and brushed a kiss against the top of Johnís head. "Me too."

END

  since 02-03-07

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