Notes: Clan affiliation and tartan from The Gathering of the Clans.
Since the powers that be havenít given the Canadian communication technician a name, only a rank, we did that for them as he was too pretty to remain nameless!
"Oh great, another bombed out village. If itís not the Wraith, itís these damned UAs," John grumbled, staring down at yet more destruction. Seeing the odd look Ronon gave him, he explained, "Unfriendly Aliens. Thatís what Ford wanted to call them."
"Thatís a stupid name," Ronon said flatly.
"And thatís why weíre calling them that," Rodney put in as Teyla nodded.
"Fordís names for things usually were...are pretty stupid," John agreed. "But I think we can let that slide this time." His hazel eyes dared Ronon to make an issue of it.
Ronon shrugged. "Your choice. Just what do you know about these UAs?"
"Not much," Rodney admitted. Between the imminent attack of the Wraith hive ships, the subsequent battle and losses, and the integration of new personnel into the staff on Atlantis, there hadnít been time to search for more information on this nebulous enemy.
"About the only thing weíre sure of is that they donít like humans. And theyíve been around for at least ten thousand years and are fairly technologically advanced," John offered.
"You havenít seen them around, have you?" Rodney asked hopefully. "Mysterious beings that like to blow people up for the hell of it?"
Ronon shrugged. "I havenít really paid much attention to anyone but the Wraith."
John turned to Rodney. "Is it worthwhile going down? Do you think we might learn something new, considering those ruins look decades old?"
"You know what I say, Colonel." Rodney smiled. "You can always learn something; you just have to know where to look."
"In other words weíre hiking down this hill, rummaging through ruins, and then I have to help you back up this hill," John translated.
Ronon looked at the pair of them as if they were insane while Teyla just smiled.
"Good thing we have Rover to carry things then." Johnís expression made it clear that Rodney might be one of those things until he noticed Rononís tightened grip on his weapons when Rover came out of the jumper. "Shoot him and I shoot you," he warned.
"Heís a good guy," Rodney said slowly, edging toward the cart when Rover noticed Rononís posture and revved its wheels in the soil, sending up a small cloud of dust.
"The cart is Dr. McKayís assistant during off-world travel," Teyla explained. "The Ancestors made it to help them with their studies."
"Itís a machine!"
"Yeah, but heís cute," John shrugged. "Heís got you beat there." And now that Rodney was between Ronon and Rover, Johnís grip on his P90 was tense, ready to swing it up at the first hostile move on Rononís part.
"Itís a machine, and if it comes to a fight, you can worry about it."
Rodney glared at Ronon balefully as Rover waved an arm in his direction, seeming to give him the finger by extending one of his manipulating arms. "Rover can take care of himself; he killed a Wraith, you know."
John snickered at the gesture, wondering if Rover could have picked it up from Rodneyís mind and used it consciously. "Yeah, the little guy helped protect Atlantis when they attacked a while back. He did a good job of it too."
Teyla nodded. "Yes, the cart helped me protect Dr. McKay. Colonel Sheppard decorated it after the battle was over." She pointed at the white hand painted on the side of Roverís body.
"Heís a good cart," Rodney said proudly, patting Roverís sensor array, making the cart shudder with pleasure and Ronon eye it strangely.
"Get used to him. Roverís here to stay, and there are probably more like him if we could ever find them," John advised Ronon.
In answer to that, the Satedan shook his head and marched down the hill, scanning the surrounding area for any sign of a threat.
Watching him go, Rodney smirked. "I think heís threatened by Rover, donít you? You know, many people seem to have that same reaction to him. Remember, John, the look Col. Caldwell gave him?" he continued on in this vein as they headed down to the valley, following Ronon.
John snickered at the memory. "I donít think Caldwell was very happy about having Rover on the Daedalus. Gen. Landry didnít look too happy either, but OíNeill liked him."
"Hermiod liked him too, and yes, John, I know you donít like thinking of the little, gray, naked Asgard." Rodney smirked at Teyla at the last. "Makes you wonder, doesnít it?"
Teyla eyed him, looking like she desperately wanted a reason to take off on her own.
"He was naked, and he winked at me!"
"He wasnít hitting on you," Rodney sighed.
"Thatís what you say! We know the Asgard had some kind of relationship with the Ancients, and I have the gene."
"Not that kind of relationship, you pervert! Of course, I have heard that Thor really likes Gen. OíNeill..."
"Ugh!" John waved his hands as if fending off the thought. "You are an evil man, Rodney!"
Rodney beamed proudly. "Why, thank you, Colonel."
"That wasnít a compliment!" John shuddered. "Go find out about the UAs while I scrub out my brain." He started toward the ruins, ignoring Rononís expression when Rover shot past him.
Rodney grinned at Teyla as they walked behind the others. "I just love getting him going."
She shook her head. "Your cultureís habits are very strange."
"Thank you for saying itís our culture and not us."
"What are you if not a product of your culture?"
Rodney sniffed haughtily "I like to think I rise above my culture."
Teyla looked amused. "Your culture forms the basis of who you are. Each individual is different, but they share that commonality. It is a good thing, Dr. McKay."
"Has anyone ever told you that youíre very zen?"
"What is zen?"
"Give it up, Rodney," John advised laughingly.
"All right, thatís the last of the fragments. Keep them safe, Rover," Rodney said as he straightened up, brushing his hands on his thighs.
"Are you sure there arenít any more rocks around you want to pick up?" Ronon asked.
"We were not looking for rocks, but for pieces of the alien missiles," Teyla informed him.
"But feel free to bring back a bag of rocks if you like," John offered magnanimously.
"Rover will appreciate them," Rodney added when Ronon scowled. "He has quite the collection."
"I am not carrying rocks for your machine!" Ronon growled, making John snicker.
"Thatís okay; it wouldnít help. He pretty much only likes Rodney anyway."
"Yes," Teyla continued, "Rover is very loyal to Dr. McKay."
"Can you blame him?" Rodney asked, grinning when the cart handed him a powerbar.
John rolled his eyes. "For an atheist, youíre awfully willing to be someoneís god."
"I have a cart; you had that whole planet of nubile young things worshipping you, remember? PX4-63Y ring any bells?"
Ronon looked interested. "A whole planet?"
John rolled his eyes. "Thatís something of an exaggeration."
"It was the whole planet," Rodney told Ronon as an aside.
"Perhaps we should head back to Atlantis now," Teyla called, looking at the sky. "Night will be falling soon."
"I think that would be a very good idea," John growled, grabbing Rodneyís arm and pulling him to his side. "You know damn well I didnít encourage them!" he growled at the snickering scientist.
"He smiled at them." Rodney confided to Ronon, who rolled his eyes and started walking back to the jumper.
"And thatís all I did!" John barked, glaring at his lover until Rover moved protectively between them.
Rodney snickered and bit into a powerbar before nodding to Rononís rapidly diminishing figure. "Guess weíd better go catch up to him before he finds something to shoot."
"I will walk with him," Teyla offered, quickening her steps to overtake their newest team member.
"Is it just me or is our team going to end up as two couples?" John murmured to Rodney.
"Now whoís playing yenta? I think Atlantis is wearing off on you."
John glared. "Iím not trying to get them together. I just think theyíre both interested. Teyla seems less unapproachable with him."
Rodney smirked as they started walking after the other two, Rover rolling along at his side. "There was a time I thought you were going to test just how unapproachable she was."
John laughed. "I was interested for about half a day, then I realized weíd drive each other crazy. That and a certain scientist was taking up too much of my attention for me to have any to spare for anyone else."
"Tell me who it was and Iíll give him a raise."
"Fool. I must be nuts."
"And why would that be?"
"Because I love you."
"That means youíre a genius."
"And you have a monster-sized ego," John laughed, slinging an arm around his shoulders.
"Among other things." Rodney waggled his eyebrows lasciviously.
Laughing helplessly, John could only shake his head and say, "Yes, Rodney."
When they returned to Atlantis, Elizabeth met with them immediately to be debriefed, and John noticed that she was still uneasy with Rononís presence, though she hid it well. He sat back, letting Rodney tell her what little theyíd learned on the planet.
"Weíve got quite a few new samples to study," Rodney began, standing and going into lecture mode. "This attack happened years ago, but the ruins were untouched, and the fragments weíve found are actually in better shape than the ones from Reydia."
He turned to look over his shoulder and held out a hand. "Rover, give me that piece... No, no the other one." Once the cart had complied, he held up what looked like a smoky, cracked version of a power crystal. "We found this, and Iím hoping we learn more from it than we have from the mortar pieces. I think itís a control crystal, and, if we can access its programming, it might tell us more about who these UAs are."
Elizabethís lips quirked in a sad smile when Rodney named the alien race. Sheíd heard Lt. Fordís suggestion and John shoot it down, and she knew that the name was Sheppardís memorial to the young lieutenant. "It seems very similar, at least in appearance, to those the Ancients used."
"Thatís what I said," John nodded, "but apparently appearances arenít everything, and we wonít know anything till the geek squad accesses its contents. If they can," he added challengingly.
"If?" Rodney knew John was baiting him, but he couldnít help responding. "Of course weíre going to find out just what this thing is. If my ass..." he grumbled, flipping the crystal from hand to hand.
"If you break it, you arenít going to find anything," Ronon observed laconically.
John shrugged as he watched Rodney fidget. "Well, it wonít be from dropping it; Rover makes sure he catches anything Rodney drops."
"Iíd rather not test that fact right now," Elizabeth stated, her gaze following the smoke-colored crystal as Rodney played with it.
"What? Oh." He handed the artifact back to Rover, who stowed it away once more. "So, anyway, weíll get to work on deciphering what we can from it."
"Which means I get to go write up the mission report. Oh goody." John sighed, bored already.
"Poor baby," Rodney shot back."
Ronon looked over at Elizabeth. "Can we go now?"
"Please do." She shook her head as they left, Rodney and John still taunting each other. Some days they were worse than a Balkan negotiation.
Some time later Rodney sat deep in thought, staring at the smoky crystal and the patterns it was producing on the sensors.
John came into the lab and stood there for a while, just watching him. He was amused to realize that he could practically see Rodney thinking, and he had to go over and slip his arms around him. "Figure anything out yet?"
"Well, itís a crystal made by some unknown, unfriendly alien, and itís still emitting residual power waves."
"Still emitting... Can the frequency get through the shield? Is something going to home in on it?" John suddenly switched gears as the crystal became a possible threat.
"The patterns are eerily close to some weíve seen before." Rodney tapped a button and brought up a split screen view of the UA crystalís signature on one side, and another, nearly identical wave on the other.
"Remember all those crystal scans we did during the incident?" Rodney refused to speak about being changed into a woman aloud. "They came in handy for something after all."
"Rodney! Emitting! Can the UAs home in on it!" John wasnít paying attention to anything else until that question was answered.
"Offhand, Iíd say no. What I was trying to explain before you went Cro-Magnon on me was that the signature pattern is almost identical to the Ancientsí technology. UA or no, I donít think they could differentiate the miniscule output thatís left in this crystal from what Atlantis normally produces, which is why I said emitting, not transmitting."
John glared. "I love you, but sometimes Iíd love to shoot you again." He frowned suddenly. "Identical to Ancient technology?"
"Almost. The differences are there, but subtle, almost like a bastard child of Ancient tech, or an early offshoot."
"Any theories on what that means?"
John growled. "Would you care to share them?"
"You wonít like them. Hell, I donít like them, and I came up with them."
"Not helping. Senior officer here, remember? I need to know so I can defend us."
"Yes, yes, so you keep reminding me." Rodney sighed and looked back at the scans then at John again. "All right, the fact that the power signatures are so similar canít be coincidence, which means these people either stole the technology and altered it or..." He paused and frowned. "Or it was developed by the Ancients themselves."
John outright froze. "The UAs were Ancients?" he whispered, as if afraid to say it aloud.
"Iím hoping that theory is wrong."
"Yeah, I can see why. We are totally fucked, arenít we?"
"Given that no oneís ever heard or seen these UAs, maybe not so much." Rodney looked at Johnís incredulous expression and glowered. "You should be happy that for once Iím not the one forecasting gloom and doom, damnit! Itís a theory; there could be other explanations, and there probably are because nowhere in anything Iíve read about the Ancients does it mention they like to kill the very people they nurtured!
"Yes, theyíre a threat, but no more so than they were before we had this information; Iíd still put the Wraith above them on my own personal danger scale."
John sighed. "Yeah, youíre right. I just wish this damn galaxy would stop throwing more enemies at us. And considering that they donít like humans and do seem to like Ancient technology, weíd better hope that they donít have weapons that can get through the shield if they ever find out weíre here."
"If that happens, Iíll come up with something to save us, donít worry." Rodneyís tone was teasing, but his whole body had tensed up at the thought of that happening.
Seeing the reaction, John wrapped his arms around Rodney and drew him close. "You wonít be alone. Try to remember that you have all of us too, even if weíre not McKay-level geniuses." As John stroked Rodneyís back, Rover came over to press against their legs, offering his support as well.
Rodney gave a quiet laugh even as he leaned into Johnís embrace. "Thereís no one at that level, so thereís no need to be jealous."
"I didnít mean you could have them!" John exclaimed.
Rodney shuddered. "I didnít mean that way, you pervert!"
"Then why would I be jealous?"
Rodney smirked triumphantly. "Because you wish you were as smart as I am!"
John rolled his eyes. "Iím perfectly happy with the IQ I have, Rodney. You brains, me brawn, remember?"
"Thatís what you like everyone to believe."
John grinned. "Yup, so donít blow my cover. Caldwellís pretty sure Iím an idiot. I donít have the heart to tell him I could go by doctor too."
"Dr. Colonel? Colonel Dr.? Which do you prefer?"
"Neither! Colonelís fine. In fact, I like hearing colonel. I like being a colonel."
"Really? Gee, thereís something I never knew before." Rodney smirked at the last, knowing full well how proud John was of his promotion, not that he disagreed with him feeling that way in the least.
"Yeah right, thatís why you call me colonel in bed half the time lately," John laughed. He knew exactly why Rodney did it, but it didnít stop the surge of excitement every time.
"Must be when Iím fantasizing about Carter," Rodney snickered.
John glared. "Do you want to end up sleeping with Rover?"
"Rather sleep with you if you must know."
"Even though Iím not a leggy, blonde astrophysicist?"
Rodney grinned and pulled John closer by grabbing his waistband. "Yeah, it really must be love."
"Bastard," John grumbled. "You do realize that I locked the door, right?"
The look Rodney gave him was generally reserved for Kavanagh. "Why do you think Iíve been egging you on, Colonel?"
"Just making sure you werenít going to be taken by surprise when I do this." John flipped Rodney onto one of the table, in a space heíd already made sure was clear, and had his pants undone while Rodney was still gasping.
"Do you know how close you came to dropping me on my head?" Rodney gasped, though there was no annoyance in his voice, only heat.
"Not at all," John retorted. "I know better than to damage the head."
"Which one are you talking about?" Rodney asked, eyes narrowing as Rover scuttled for a corner.
"Both of course." John drew his cock out and stroked it lightly.
"Good, oh fuck, answer," Rodney sighed, relaxing back onto the benchtop, his eyes half-lidded as he watched John.
"I thought so. Which means I get to enjoy them, right?" John leaned over to lick Rodneyís growing erection.
"Feel free, I wouldnít want to keep you from things you enjoy."
"Youíre so selfless and giving." John shoved Rodneyís shirt up until he could catch a nipple between his teeth, lightly snapping and scraping before doing the same to its companion.
Rodney whimpered. "Planning on nominating me for sainthood then?" His voice broke when John tugged at one nipple, and he tangled his fingers in the thick dark hair, trying to keep him in place.
Johnís lips curved in a smile, and he braced himself against the table, settling comfortably to play with Rodneyís body. One uniform-clad thigh pressed between Rodneyís legs, rubbing lightly against his cock.
"Oh god, John," Rodney whispered, arching up against the pressure against his erection, the slight rasp of Johnís fatigues rubbing on him one of the many kinks John brought out in him. "More."
"All you can handle," John promised. He smiled into the passion-dazed blue eyes as he unfastened his belt and wrapped it around Rodneyís wrists. "And more than you thought you could." He snapped at a nipple again, closing his teeth on the rigid nubbin and tugging.
Blue eyes flew open at the sensation of confinement. "John..." he began, licking his lips to try and wet them. He shuddered when John bit him again and only ended up saying, "I trust you."
"I know." John smiled crookedly as he straightened up to undo his pants, never looking away from Rodney.
Lifting his bound wrists up over his head to rest on the benchtop behind him, Rodney swallowed hard, his gaze staying locked on Johnís hazel eyes, needing that connection when he felt so out of control of himself.
"God, youíre fucking gorgeous like this," John rasped, reaching out with one hand to pet Rodney, watching him shiver with pleasure as he lightly trailed his fingertips over the sensitive skin. Unable to answer, Rodney only twisted, following that feather-light touch with the arching of his body as he attempted to stay in contact with it. "And all mine." Johnís tongue followed the trail his fingers had blazed, and then he blew light puffs of air on the moistened skin.
Rodney yelped at the cool breeze as he panted, trying to catch his breath but feeling as if heíd run from one of the piers to the control tower without stopping.
"Címon, lemme hear you," John whispered against Rodneyís ear while his hands stroked over the sensitized flesh. "I wanna hear all those hot little moans and whimpers that you only make for me, and I wanna see you squirming with pleasure and desperate to come."
"John, please John, oh yeah," Rodneyís pleas escalated in pitch and volume as John hit every hot spot he had and then some.
"Oh, I will." John caught hold of Rodneyís bound hands and pushed them higher over his head, forcing Rodney to arch back over the table. Taking advantage of the outthrust chest, John licked at his nipples again. "Even better than tits."
Rodneyís whine cut through the air, making Rover stir uneasily in his corner.
"You taste so good," John rasped, finally abandoning the reddened nipples to slide downward, forcing Rodneyís legs farther apart.
"More," Rodney whispered, arching up as much as possible to rub his body against Johnís as he moved, the drag of the softer fabric of his shirt a caress after the rougher uniform pants.
"Donít worry, Iím just getting started." John nibbled along Rodneyís pelvic bone, occasionally interspersing a sharp nip, followed by a soothing lap of his tongue, as he explored the body that was his to play with. Each touch of tooth to skin was met with a whimper, and the bites earned gasping cries as Rodney writhed on the bench top but never once pulled his arms down to grab John.
John paused to admire the sight of him before sliding even lower, a stubbled cheek lightly rubbing over Rodneyís straining erection.
"John!" The word was little more than a whispered plea amidst the wanton, needy sounds Rodney was making. But John only smiled, lipped Rodneyís shaft, and pushed his head between the tense thighs so he could suck gently on the smooth flesh behind Rodneyís balls.
Rodney threw his head back, closing his eyes and losing himself in the pleasure at being so thoroughly and capably loved. His legs were shaking, in fact, his whole body was, but all he could sense was John.
John amused himself for several minutes alternating between Rodneyís balls, perineum and cock, licking, nibbling and sucking while Rodney squirmed and made all the noises John loved.
"You know," Rodney managed to get out between the unearthly noises he now had to admit he was making, "trying to kill your lover with pleasure is really only a saying." John bit down on his inner thigh at that, and words fled along with rational thought.
"Let me kiss it and make it better." The words were breathed against Rodneyís opening an instant before his tongue flicked over the clenching muscle.
"Iíd rather you fucked it and made me come!" Rodney howled.
"Fuck it?" John pushed his tongue into Rodney and pulled it back, slowly fucking him with it.
In the struggle to get more of John into him, Rodney almost squirmed himself off the table, and Rover shot forward a few feet as if to be ready to catch him. Never even noticing the cart, John caught Rodney and pulled him back, holding him securely in place as he reared up and scrabbled for the lube in his pocket.
"Fuck me, John, need it, need you, want you so fucking bad," Rodney whimpered, trying to spread his legs and pull them back to make that easier for John. The bench shuddered, but considering how much he was moving, that wasnít surprising.
"God yeah," John gritted out, unable to tease Rodney or himself any more. He needed this as badly as Rodney did, and neither of them could stand long preparation after all the foreplay. He hastily shoved his pants down over his hips, squirted the lube into his hand and stroked it onto his cock, shuddering as the cool gel hit his overheated skin but not wanting to take even the few seconds necessary to warm it. And then he was pushing into Rodney.
"Oh fuck. Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck," Rodney moaned, his back arching off the table as John slid into him, not stopping until he couldnít go any deeper. "Move!"
John already was. Heíd taken a split second to catch his breath once he bottomed out inside Rodney, and then he gave in to his bodyís urging and began to fuck him with long, deep strokes.
Needing to touch John, Rodney dragged his arms over his head and looped his bound wrists around Johnís neck, dragging him down for a kiss that mimicked the rhythm of their bodies.
John groaned into the kiss, and one hand snaked between them to grasp Rodneyís neglected cock, pumping him rapidly. At that extra stimulation, Rodney screamed into Johnís mouth as he came, clenching down around Johnís body while he quivered beneath him.
Not quite as on edge as Rodney, John managed to ride out his climax, watching every expression cross his face. Only when the last spasm had passed did he speed up, driving into Rodney hard and fast as he sought his own climax. Unable to move, Rodney only murmured his approval of what John was doing as he stared up at him, blue eyes still unfocused.
"Love you," John rasped as he met Rodneyís eyes, showing everything that he was feeling. He thrust a final time and froze, body arched in a rigid bow as he came, the knowledge that Rodney was watching him only making it better.
Once John finally collapsed on him, Rodney smiled, nuzzling his face against Johnís shoulder. "I know," he murmured, then after a moment of silence, "Okay, back spasm and bondage donít go together well."
Snickering, John sat up and helped Rodney up as well before unfastening his wrists. "Iíll make sure weíre on a comfortable bed next time."
"Ow." Rodney rolled his shoulders, and staggered when Rover moved over from where heíd been propping up the table to do the same to him. "Iím okay, Rover," he sighed. "Itís nothing that a super primo massage wonít work out."
"I think that can be arranged." Johnís fingers were already working on the knots in Rodneyís shoulder, helping him to relax. "So, uh, you didnít mind that?"
Rodney glanced down at his semen-splattered stomach, then back up at John. "Oh, yeah, I hated it."
John chuckled. "Just making sure. We never talked about it at all, so I wasnít sure how youíd react." He grinned quickly. "But knowing you, I figured Iíd know pretty quickly if you werenít up for it."
"It surprised me at first, but it was pretty hot." Rodney grinned and stretched again, rolling his shoulders under Johnís hands with obvious pleasure. "Just donít think you can spank my ass if we do it again."
"Not one of my kinks," John snorted. He bent down to press a kiss to the nape of Rodneyís neck before stepping back. "Weíd better get dressed and get out of here before someone tries to come in." Pulling his pants back up, he added, "Iíll be glad when Bates is back on active duty. At least we know heíll be blind when he needs to be."
Rodney nodded. "I never thought Iíd say this, but I miss the officious goon." Rover nudged him and handed him a cloth, and he patted the cart before taking it to clean himself up, then get dressed. "All right, now that my brainís been melted and reformed, Iíd better get a report written up so Elizabeth knows the situation. Do you want a copy or have you been thoroughly briefed?" He grinned at the last.
"I was debriefed," John chuckled, "but youíd better send me a copy of the official report to keep me up to speed.
"Has Zelenka made any progress in reverse engineering the jumpers?" This was a subject near and dear to Johnís heart, especially in view of the attrition rate, and the only reason he was asking Rodney rather than Radek was that the Czech had promised to answer him with a wrench if he bothered the scientist again.
"Itís slow work, but heís getting there. Itís a good thing we recovered the one Lt. Ford took, or weíd be down to two, and we all know how you love your jumper."
"Theyíre critical to the safety of Atlantis!" John retorted defensively. "Not to mention to our missions. I donít know about you, but I donít want to go through a gate in orbit without one."
Rodney brought his hand up to his mouth and coughed to cover his laughter. "Iím not arguing either of those facts, and you canít argue that you donít love that thing."
John grumbled. "I am a pilot."
Now Rodney gave up trying to hide his laughter. "I suppose I should be happy you havenít just moved us into Jumper 1!"
John tried to glare, but he was laughing as well. "Naw, then thereíd be no thrill of illicit sex when we sneak in there."
"Such a slut..."
"Oh, like you donít like me that way."
"Actually, I donít." Rodney waited for Johnís expression to change before smirking. "I love you that way."
"Bastard." John gave him a slow, deep kiss before backing away regretfully. "Write your report while I go do senior officer-ly things. And I want to look in on Bates."
"If Radekís in there visiting Carson, kick his ass for me and tell him to go back to work," Rodney ordered, licking his lips. "And Iíll see you later, Colonel."
"No can do." John shook his head emphatically. "He can be one nasty little man when he wants to be! He threatened to hit me over the head with a wrench if I bothered him again. You or Carson can tell him what to do. Iím staying away!"
"Wimp!" Rodney snickered. "Fine, be that way." He turned back to his work, though his shoulders were shaking with laughter. "Afraid of a little Czech... Maybe I should send Rover."
"You do that. Iím not going near him again without you or Carson to hide behind!" John tossed the comment over his shoulder as he left, ignoring Rodneyís laughter. Bates should be in the infirmary for his daily check up with Carson, so John headed there.
"Sir!" Bates jumped to his feet when Col. Sheppard entered the infirmary.
"Och, lad, sit down," Carson grumbled, frowning at the Marine. "If ye keep jumping around like that, Iím never going to clear you for active duty, do ye understand?"
"And considering how many new people we have roaming around the city, I need my chief of security back on duty," John said easily, hopping up onto an empty examining table despite Carsonís frown. "So whenís that gonna happen, Carson?"
"That depends on Sgt. Bates. At the present time, heís overdoing and pushing himself too hard." Carson turned a baleful eye on John. "Just like some others have in the past."
"Iím fit for duty now, sir," Bates interjected.
"A word of advice, Bates, donít argue with the doctor. It doesnít pay. Take it from me, Iíve tried. He just makes you sorry. But as soon as he okays you, you can have your job back. Weird shit happens in this city. You can figure out whoís stealing cases of MREs. And you can find something for Lindstrom to do. She needs the distraction."
Bates opened his mouth to argue, but the narrow look from Carson shut him up again. "Yes, sir, Iíll wait for Dr. Beckettís okay, and I have some idea of where those MREs are going."
Carson nodded at that. "Thereís a good lad. I want to see you again tomorrow, and if youíre doing as well, Iíll clear ye."
"Oh thank God," John exclaimed fervently. "I can leave the paperwork for you."
Bates rolled his eyes while still appearing respectful. "Yes sir, though you will have to do your own report for Dr. Weir."
"Iím delegating." John grinned. "Summarize for me, Lieutenant."
"Excuse me, sir?"
"Oh, didnít I mention that I put through the paperwork for your field commission? You, Stackhouse and Lindstrom. You deserve it."
"I never wanted to be an officer, Sir."
"I never wanted to be the CO. Welcome to Atlantis."
Seeing Batesí pained expression, Carson chuckled. "Still sure you want to be back on duty this quickly?"
John laughed. "No malingering or Iíll sic Rodney and Rover on you."
"That could land me back in the infirmary... Sir." Bates quirked a smile at the last.
John grinned as he hopped off the table. "I expect to see you in your office, doing paperwork, tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention that the Daedalus and the new personnel all submitted security paperwork?" He smiled evilly.
"Looks as if youíre going to be quite busy, lad," Carson chuckled.
"Itís better than doing nothing."
John paused at the door. "Get Lindstrom to help."
Bates nodded shortly at that. "Yes, Sir."
Turning back, John schooled his expression to neutrality. "Do you have a problem with her, Lieutenant?"
"No sir." Bates reflexively straightened. "I have read the fitness reports since the Wraith attack though."
John frowned, but he didnít push it. Heíd wait and see what happened and hope they wouldnít kill each other. "Get some rest, Lieutenant. Youíre going to need it."
"So, what do you think?" Rodney asked, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he looked up from his computer, glancing over at Radek.
"I think it would have been less painful to have been sent to Siberia," Radek said gloomily as he peered at the results on the screen.
"I donít know, it wasnít so bad there in the summer."
The Czech gifted him with a look of extreme disfavor. "And the Wraith are just oversized mosquitoes."
"Oh, stop complaining and tell me that you agree with my theories."
"I agree with your theories," Radek parroted. Then he sighed and slumped in his seat. "Unfortunately for all of us. I think I am very glad we have a ZPM to power the shield."
Rodney sighed. "This is one case where I wish you would have tried to tear them apart."
"Believe me, I am trying, but nothing else fits the facts. These UAs," Radek stumbled slightly over the still unfamiliar name, "either stole technology from the Ancientsóquite a feat in itselfóor they were Ancients."
"I suppose we should be happy we havenít run into them, just their wreckage."
"True," Radek nodded, "but if they are still in this part of the galaxy, as would seem to be the case, sooner or later we will encounter them directly." He frowned. "Do you think that Ancient priestess would tell us anything if we went back to her planet? Surely the Ancients knew the UAs."
"We arenít going near that damn planet," Rodney spat, before giving himself a shake. "I doubt sheíd tell us anything; itís probably in her rules or something."
Radek eyed him wryly. "And your reaction has nothing to do with Colonel Sheppardís fascination with her last time, of course."
Rodneyís glare could have cut ice. "How would you like it if Carson had to go chat Cadman up for information?"
The snarl and stream of vituperative Czech adequately expressed Radekís opinion of that possibility.
"Exactly, and Carson only kissed Cadmanóthrough me, thank you! John had Ancient, glowy sex with the other one!"
Deciding that arguing the point would accomplish nothingóand he did have sympathy for Rodneyís positionóRadek redirected their attention to the data. "Have you told Dr. Weir yet?"
"Yes, after I first discovered the similarities. As you can expect, she wasnít too happy."
"Is it too late to request a transfer?" Radek mumbled as he stared at the information on the screen.
"So you want to leave Carson alone with Cadman?"
"Bad idea," Radek admitted. "She is not to be trusted with Carson."
"Then I suppose youíre stuck here with my scintillating conversation."
"Shoot me now."
"No gun, but I can have Rover pinch you." The cart rolled over to Radekís side, one arm extended.
"Not necessary!" Radek practically yelped, lurching backward so he nearly fell off his stool.
Rover pulled his arm back and rocked in place, clearly agitated by Radekís reaction to him.
"Ach ma Buh!" Radek grumbled, reaching forward to pet Rover. "I still like you; I just prefer to get my bruises from Carson," he said soothingly.
Rodney snickered as Rover rolled closer, nudging Radekís stool in an attempt to get under him. "Pink, definitely pink," he muttered to himself.
Radek caught his balance with one hand on the table while the other petted Rover, and he eyed Rodney suspiciously, trying to decide if it would be better not to know.
"So, howís the reverse engineering of the jumpers going?" Rodney asked casually as he went back to his work.
Radek glared. "I told him I would let him know if I made any progress!"
Rodney glanced up at him, his blue eyes innocent. "Him who?"
"Ha! You still cannot lie, and you do not do innocent well. That pushy pilot you sleep with, thatís who!"
"Does Carson know youíre a complete pain in the ass?" Rodney grumbled.
"Thatís why he has cushions."
Rodney couldnít help it, he snickered. Radek grinned at him, for the moment in perfect accord, and they returned their attention to their work.
For the last couple of months, since the death of Peter Grodin to be precise, Annalisa Lindstrom had had trouble sleeping. She and Peter had been working toward something special, and while they hadnít been living together or even spent every night together, theyíd done so often enough that she felt the emptiness on the other side of her bed.
She would lie there for hours, trying to tell herself that there was still a hint of his scent on the pillow heíd used, but she knew it wasnít true. He was gone, wiped out in an instant by the Wraith, and someday she was going to have to tell Dr. McKay that she did understand and didnít blame him.
But in the meantime, she wandered the dark corridors of unused sections of Atlantis late at night, exploring new areas and making careful note of any labs she found, without disturbing them. She reported her findings to Lt. Bates, and she thought he passed them on to the expeditionís leaders as appropriate, but all she cared about was that no one had stopped her.
As she walked down a hallway, she was surprised when the lights slowly began to brighten. Although the gene therapy had worked for her, she usually had to concentrate to make things happen, unlike Colonel Sheppard, but this time, the city seemed to be reacting to her mere presence.
A door slid open, and she approached cautiously, peering into the room only to stop and stare. She definitely needed to tell someone about this. It was a whole roomful of Rovers.
"Huh? Wha?" Someone was calling his name, and Rodney sat up as much as possible under Johnís weight, reaching for his headpiece. "This is McKay."
"Dr. McKay? This is Lt. Lindstrom. Iím sorry to bother you at this hour, sir, but I thought youíd want to know. I just found an entire room full of carts. It looks like there are dozens of them."
John raised his head and peered blearily at Rodney. "Whazzat?"
"Itís Lindstrom; sheís found Roverís home!" Rodney was already rolling out from under John and grabbing for his clothes. "Where are you, Lieutenant?"
It took a moment for that to sink in, but when it did, John sat up abruptly. "Wait for me! You are not going to be the first one near a whole flock of Rovers! Our roomís not big enough!"
Hearing him over her radio, Lindstrom had to laugh. "They donít seem to be activated, sirs. Iím in here with them, and none of them have reacted to me at all."
"Happy, John?" Rodney snapped while dragging on his shoes. "And, Lieutenant, where are you?"
Lisa gave them directions to where she was, but once they stepped into a transporter, John simply concentrated on her and let the city take them to her. When they stepped out of the transporter, they could see the lights from the room she was in spilling into the corridor from just a little way ahead of them.
Rover sped up, getting in front of them and whipping into the room, settling itself down in the midst of its brethren as Rodney huffed up behind it, leaning against the doorframe while grinning widely. "Good work, Lindstrom. Did you touch anything?"
She looked from him to Rover, and her eyebrows rose. "Hell no! Sir."
John snickered as he strolled in behind them, and looked around before whistling. "If they all start following people around, weíre going to need bigger meeting rooms and labs."
Rodney gingerly stepped forward and poked at one of the dormant carts, breathing a sigh of relief when it remained inert. "Okay, so far so good, maybe they only respond to dire need, so nobody need anything right now."
"A pillow and two bags was dire need?"
"Donít make me regret it, Colonel," Rodney glowered as he picked his way around the room, examining various carts, then almost pouncing when he caught sight of datapad on top of one of them.
"I gather thatís important?" Lindstrom asked dryly.
Ignoring her, Rodney tapped the interface, grinning and rocking back and forth as he accessed the data in it. "Oh yes, this is perfect; look at this! And that makes sense..."
John watched for a moment, amused, before activating his radio. "Oh, Dr. Zelenka," he sing-songed, making Lindstrom giggle musically.
"Radek, are ye sure Rodney willna set the roomful of the beasties on ye?" Carson asked as he watched the other man get dressed.
Pausing to consider that, Radek shook his head after a moment. "No, there is too much chance that activating them all at once would cause them to imprint on him. And I do not believe that the city would permit something so wasteful."
Carson chuckled at the idea and began to get dressed as well. "Aye, well that may be so, but I think Iíll go down there with ye to make sure."
"Your company is always welcome." Radek waited to allow Carson to finish dressing before he left.
"If nothing else, itís one other person with the gene to spread them out on."
Radek chuckled. "Even if we each get only a fifthóLt. Lindstrom is there as well and Colonel Sheppardóour quarters are not big enough!"
Carson shuddered at the thought of their quarters crowded with carts. "As you said though, if they havenít already activated and imprinted on someone, weíll hopefully be safe."
"I believe so." Radek caught hold of Carsonís hand as they walked out of their rooms, still feeling a need to stake his claim on the doctor after the incident with Lt. Cadman.
"It took you long enough!" Rodney exclaimed when they finally arrived at the lab. "Get over here and look at this!" He as still standing in the midst of the inactive carts though by now Rover had wormed his way to Rodneyís side.
Radek paused to offer Carson a reassuring smile. "It is perfectly safe if Rover will let Rodney so close. You know he would never share Rodneyís attention with another cart."
Overhearing, John snickered.
"Perhaps for him, but I donít fancy you coming home with a parcel oíthem," Carson muttered, staying far away from the carts.
"Donít worry, Carson," Rodney called, "According to these notes, they have to be purposefully activated."
"What? Let me see!" Radek strode across the room to Rodneyís side, where he began to read over his shoulder.
Rodney pointed at an entry and grinned. "They were created by the same Ancient who developed that time machine they found the first time we came through the wormhole." In his excitement, Rodney forgot to be shaken by how he had died in that timeline.
Remembering what the older Elizabeth had described, John drew nearer, reaching out to place a hand on Rodneyís shoulder. "He also made carts?"
"He worked on the small scale as well as the large," Rodney mused. "There is a huge amount of data here detailing their conception and implementation."
"Did he really intend them to be quite so self-aware?" John asked, unconsciously petting Rover.
"Hrmmm... Radek, see if thereís anything etched right under his sensor array, will you?" Rodney was still transfixed by the information in front of him.
Radek squatted down, a hand on Rover for balance and peered at his front panel below the array. "Yes, I see the first letter of their alphabet," he reported.
"Well, that explains a lot of things." Rodney looked up from the datapad to where the others were standing by Rover.
"All right," Carson sighed, "Iíll ask. Explains what?"
"Rover is a prototype; it seems Janus wanted the work assistants he was creating to be a little less autonomous, so the others donít have his degree of artificial intelligence."
The other four people in the room, all of them having the Ancient gene, all heaved sighs of relief. "So we wonít have to worry about them fighting with each other or need to socialize them?" John said with relief.
Rodney glowered. "And no, you wonít have to put down newspapers to paper train them either."
"Rodney, I dinna think the carts have toilet training problems." Carson was looking at him as if heíd gone mad.
Ignoring Carson and the expressions on Zelenka and Lindstromís faces, John concentrated on Rodney. "I never said they had to be housetrained. But you have to admit that Rover has a distinct personality and isnít shy about letting people know when he doesnít like something. Having several not get along if they were all like him was a distinct possibility!"
"True." Rodney conceded the point. "If I were to put it in terms everyone here would understand, Roverís like a chimpanzee in terms of intelligence, and the others are more like dogs."
Rover levitated slightly and settled back to the floor, giving what sounded like a proud huff as the air was squeezed out from under him. "Yes, Rover, we all know youíre the best and smartest," Rodney murmured, patting the cartís sensor array.
John grinned, and even Lindstrom smiled faintly. "Leave it to you to find the one with a personality." He glanced from Rodney to Radek. "I wonder if some of them could be upgraded if we wanted," he mused wickedly.
"No!" Carson and Radek spoke in unison, both sounding horrified at the thought.
"Wimps." Rodney shook his head at them and went back to studying the information on the datapad, not caring that it was the middle of the night and he was standing in a room full of inactive carts.
Also intrigued, Radek moved to stand beside Rodney, jostling him until he could read the pad as well, though he didnít understand as much Ancient as Rodney did. "You will translate it, yes?"
John sighed. "Weíve lost them, Carson. Might as well leave them to it, and go back to bed."
Carson shook his head and looked over at Lt. Lindstrom. "Would it have been too much to ask for ye to find the bloody room at a decent time, lass?" He winked at the last to let her know he was only teasing.
"Sorry, doc, next time I find a cache of Ancient technology, Iíll wait till morning to tell anyone," she replied with a straight face.
"What!" Radek shrieked, whirling around.
"Canít you control him?" Rodney grumbled, glaring at the trio who all looked much too innocent, especially Carson.
Radek gave him the look normally reserved for Kavanagh. "As much as you can control the colonel!"
Carson chuckled and patted Lindstrom on the arm. "That was simply beautiful, lass."
Lisa gave him a smile. "Itís fun getting scientists going. And easy!" She bit her lip as she remembered how sheíd learned that, and John rested a comforting hand on her arm.
"Yeah, it is," he agreed, sympathy clear in the warm hazel eyes.
Rodney winced and his eyes lost most of the sparkle theyíd had since seeing the room full of carts.
"Well, lass, perhaps youíd care to try that on Dr. Kavanagh," Carson said quickly, hoping to smooth the moment over.
She wrinkled her nose, distracted as heíd intended. "Iíd rather try it on a dead fish!"
"They have about the same personality," Rodney offered.
"I prefer the fish," Lisa said.
"Donít insult fish," John said.
"The fish smells better," Radek said.
"And tastes better also," Carson added before frowning when the others all stared at him. "And I dinna mean Iíd ever tasted him!"
Rodney shuddered. "I would hope not or Iíd be talking to Elizabeth about your impending mental breakdown!"
"And I would be putting us both in a decontamination chamber!" Radek exclaimed.
"Okay, this is getting way too weird for me," Lindstrom muttered, inching toward the door. "If you donít need me any more, sir?"
John smiled crookedly. "Weíre not actually crazy, you know." He laughed at her expression. "Not buying it, huh? Good night, Lieutenant. Get some rest, and that is an order."
Carson watched the tall blonde leave and sighed. "Sheís a good lass."
"She misses Peter," Rodney said bluntly.
"Of course she does," John replied, while Radek moved to Carsonís side and took his hand. "They were getting pretty serious. It got rocky for a while there with the Ďgender benderí thing, but they got past it, and they were the closer for it."
Rodney picked his way back through the carts, keeping a firm hold on the datapad while Rover floated along behind him. "I wonder what she was doing here anyway."
"Not sleeping," Carson offered, having noticed the smudged circles under her eyes.
"I donít think sheís slept a night through since it happened," John sighed. "But taking her off duty wouldnít help; it would only give her more time to think, which is exactly what she doesnít need."
"Perhaps we should have her talk to Kate."
"Oh yeah, talking about how torn up she is will really help," Rodney muttered as he was still smarting over how little the sessions had helped himself and Cadman.
John moved behind him and started massaging Rodneyís shoulders, working the tension out of him. "I donít think sheíd be telling Lindstrom to give up control of herself."
That thought distracted Rodney, and he started to rub his chin, pulling his head back when he almost hit himself in the face with the datapad. "Maybe thatís what she needs."
"Maybe," John agreed. "But it wonít happen till sheís ready."
"So best to leave her alone," Radek warned, afraid of what might happen if Rodney decided to Ďhelpí.
"Listen to them, Rodney," Carson implored. "I dinna want to be patching ye up because ye annoyed her."
"No one has any faith in me," Rodney glowered before looking down at the pressure against his leg. "Except you, Rover."
"Thatís because blind adoration isnít our thing," John said dryly.
"Itís an under-rated skill."
Carson groaned. "Well, Iím going back to bed. I assume youíll be in the lab?" he asked Radek.
Radek replied with a nod and a slightly apologetic look before returning to his rapt study of one of the carts. John sighed and sat down on one of the others. "And Iíll stay and make sure they donít bury themselves in carts."
"I was thinking Rover could bring one back to the main lab for us; it would make it easier to work on it." Rodney looked down at Rover as the cart was already moving over next to one of its un-initialized brethren, ready to help.
"Well, it doesnít seem to bother him to deal with them. Thatís good," John said, watching.
"Very interesting. Will he carry it or push it or initialize its systems to make it move?" Radek murmured, taking notes.
"Shh shh shh shh!" Rodney hissed, watching, fascinated, as Rover grew a Ďtailí, a winch that extended and hooked into a recess on the other cart. Rover gave an experimental tug, and, when the other cart moved easily, rolled forward to wait by the door.
John watched in slightly horrified fascination. "He just keeps growing limbs," he muttered.
"Kind of reminds you of the alien in the remake of ĎThe Thingí," Rodney laughed, catching up to Rover and peering down at the new appendage.
"Great, Iím going to have nightmares tonight, assuming I ever get back to bed."
"Perfect utility," Radek muttered, following them with his attention on Rover. "Manipulating appendages as required, that tuck away from a streamlined shape when not needed. Very efficient."
Rodney nodded enthusiastically, waving away Johnís complaint. "Isnít it? Iím betting somewhere in these notes are the schematics so we can find out just what else he can do."
Radek was practically rubbing his hands together with glee. "Dozens of them. We will be able to make repairs much more rapidly. Perhaps some are programmed with specific utilities?" he mused. "For use on different systems?"
"It would make sense, or maybe thatís part of the initialization step, to set them up for their future assignments." Rodney snickered as they walked. "Weíll set you up with one that specializes in jumpers."
Radek glared and muttered something about pest control, followed by a stream of Czech.
Shaking his head as he followed them, John snagged a passing Marine. "Keep an eye on the Terror Twins and make sure they donít blow up the city." He ignored the Marineís look of dismay as he continued, "Iím going to bed. If they ever notice Iím gone, tell them not to bother me unless the cityís sinking and the shield is collapsing."
"But..." The Marine, a recent arrival from Earth, stared mournfully after his departing CO.
Come morning, Rodney and Radek stood in the middle of the engineering lab, a partially dismantled cart spread out on the floor around them and a growing audience of scientists lining the walls. Rover had tucked itself under a bench, apparently unconcerned about the demolition of one of its siblings, and the scent of long-burned coffee filled the air as the pot the Marine had made earlier scorched away unnoticed.
John marched into the lab, took hold of Rodneyís arm and said, "Bed," very firmly. He didnít think it would work, but it was worth a try. Otherwise, heíd just have to wait Ďtil Rodneyís hypoglycemia knocked him out and then tie him to their bed after carting him there.
"No, no, no, too much to do here." Rodney pulled his arm out of Johnís grasp and pointed to a graphic on the datapad. "Weíve just gotten to the power source."
"Itís been there for ten thousand years. Iím pretty sure itíll still be there in a few hours after you get some sleep. Both of you!" he barked, seeing the heavy circles under Zelenkaís eyes.
"Or Iíve a needle-full of sedatives for both of ye," Carson added as he walked in the door and caught sight of the mutinous expression on both Rodney and Radekís faces.
"They donít understand," Rodney sighed mournfully to Radek.
"Would you walk away with a strand of DNA only half unraveled?" Radek tried appealing to the scientist in Carson.
"I think youíre both half unraveled," John stated.
"I would if I was too tired to make sense of what it unraveled to, love," Carson said soothingly as he caught Radekís hand to try to pry him away from the datapad.
Rodney glared at John. "Fine, see if I let you play with the new jumpers when theyíre done.
John shook his head. "Iím not that easily distracted, Rodney. You need to get some rest or youíll end up in the infirmary. So move it, McKay!"
"Let a man tie you up once and he gets all bossy," Rodney grumbled under his breath so only John could hear. "All right, everyone out; nobody except Zelenka and I touches this, understand?"
There was grumbling, but when Radek added his glare to Rodneyís, everyone reluctantly nodded and moved away from the fascinating bits as the two scientists were dragged out of the room by their lovers.
"And if Kavanagh tries to touch any of that, shoot him!" John yelled back.
"I really hate you sometimes," Rodney grumped as John herded him along, Rover at their heels.
"No, you donít. You love me."
"Right now, knowing thereís a massive amount of data just waiting to be looked at, thatís debatable."
"The data will make a lot more sense when youíre actually awake. This isnít a crisis, Rodney. You can sleep and then go back to it fresh."
"Iím hungry," Rodney muttered mulishly, refusing to admit that, once away from the lab, fatigue had come crashing in on him.
"We have MREs in our quarters. You can eat one before you go to sleep."
"I want oatmeal." Now the tone was definitely sulky.
"I thought you hated oatmeal." John was trying not to laugh.
"We have raisins and syrup now."
"Yes, Rodney." Grinning, John went with it and steered Rodney toward the dining hall.
"Oatmeal with raisins and syrup is good, even if itís the fake crap the government shipped us."
"Weíll get you a bowl of oatmeal," John soothed, amused by the way people melted out of their path.
"And some of that pale green fruit if thereís any of it, I like that."
"Yes, Rodney." John grabbed a tray and began piling on the items Rodney wanted, trusting to Rover to keep the scientist from falling over.
"We eating here or in ouómy room?" Rodney may have been tired, but he was aware enough of the people around them to keep up the facade, flimsy though it was.
"Itís to go. Less distance to pour you into bed after you eat," John replied easily. "After all, we have meals on wheels." He grinned down at Rover.
"Heís a good cart." Rodney tried to smile, but it was fractured by a yawn. "And soon there will be more of them running around." Rover squirmed because of the praise, then held still for John to set the tray on his shelf.
"But still only one Rover." John patted him easily and nudged Rodney back toward the door, getting him moving again.
Rodney nodded and allowed himself to be led back to their room. "Exactly, heís one-of-a-kind, like..." Another yawn interrupted. "Like you."
John smiled and kissed Rodney lightly while no one was nearby, unable to resist. "And like you. Guess we were all made for each other."
"Good thing, no one else could deal with me." They reached the transporter and stepped inside and once the doors closed, Rodney pulled John in for a deeper kiss.
"No one else is going to get the chance!" John murmured against Rodneyís lips when they separated again. "Come on, back to our room for food and sleep."
Rodney sighed happily. "Food, sleep and you, three of my favorite things." Rover bumped his leg, and he laughed. "And Rover makes four."
Radek hated to admit it, but Carson and Col. Sheppard had been right. He and Rodney had needed sleep, and he felt much better for it. It would have been nice if Carson had been beside him when he woke up, but he understood that his lover had responsibilities of his own. He would just have to stop by the infirmary to express his gratitude.
The only problem was the redheaded lieutenant already standing much too close to Carson when Radek arrived in his office. Blue eyes narrowed dangerously behind glasses that made him appear innocuous, and Radek took a step closer, meeting Carsonís gaze.
"Feeling better now?" Carson asked, smiling gently at Radek to try and calm him. "Rodney and Radek were up most of the night studying one of the carts Lt. Lindstrom found," he told Cadman, grateful for the chance to steer the conversation away from uncomfortable topics.
Radekís gaze was still less than friendly, but his tone was perfectly level. "Much better, yes, thank you. I thought we might share lunch before I get back to work?"
"Thatís funny, I had just asked Carson the same thing," Cadman offered.
Whispering a prayer that it didnít come to violence because Cadman could probably kill Radek without breaking a sweat, Carson came to a decision. "And I hope ye understand that itís no slight to ye, lass, but Iíll be eating with Radek this meal; he was gone half the night, and I can only go so long without seeing him."
Radek resisted the urge to smirk victoriously as he stepped past the admittedly attractive woman to kiss Carson lightly. "I promise to be in bed where I belong tonight."
Lauraís eyes widened, but to her credit, that was her only change of expression. "Oh, IímóDr. Beckett, Dr. Zelenka, if youíll both excuse me, I need toó" She waved a hand in the direction of the door.
"There was no harm in it, lass," Carson said gently. "Ye dinna know."
Seeing her immediate retreat, Radek calmed and could be gracious. "There is no need to rush away. You are welcome to join us for lunch if you wish."
She shook her head quickly as she backed toward the door. "Thank you, but no, I just remembered I was supposed to meet Dr. Brown for the meal."
Carson waited until she left to sigh. "The poor lasses are probably going to commiserate over their luck."
Radek blinked. He knew Carson hadnít meant it that way, but... "I wouldnít mind seeing that," he breathed almost prayerfully.
"Radek!" Carson exclaimed, his eyes widening. "I dinna mean it that way!"
"I know. But it would be very... pretty."
"I think youíve been spending too much time with Col. Sheppard."
Radek grinned. "Come now, Carson, youíre a man. Tell me you wouldnít enjoy seeing that?"
Carsonís ears turned a faint pink, and he cleared his throat. "Aye, it would be a lovely sight at that."
"See, the world didnít come to an end, and youíre still involved in a homosexual relationship with a man shorter than yourself," Radek chuckled. "It doesnít mean weíre blind."
"I love the fact that Iím involved in a homosexual relationship with a man shorter than myself," Carson answered, catching Radekís hand and bringing it to his lips. "And I never mind looking at a lovely lass, but the thought of them having relations, well, itís odd when you know the people in question!"
"Carson, we know everyone in the city. Admittedly, not so well for the new arrivals, but give it a few weeks. But I wonít mention it again if it bothers you."
"Dinna worry about it, love," Carson pulled Radek over into a kiss before standing. "And I believe we have a lunch date?"
"We might even have time for a Ďnapí afterward."
"Ye mean youíre putting me before the half-dissected beastie in yer lab?"
"The Ďbeastieí will still be there no matter when I go back. My lover might get tired of being ignored."
Carson chuckled at that and kept hold of Radekís hand as they headed out of the infirmary. "I always knew ye were smarter than Rodney, love."
"Of course. I picked you rather than the overly pretty major, colonel." Radek smiled smugly when he saw some of the newcomers notice them holding hands.
"You mean you had designs on Col. Sheppard?" Carson gently teased.
Radek made a face. "No, he is not my type at all. If I had designs on anyone, it would have been Elizabeth. But she was still involved with her Simon, and then there was you."
"I suppose I should consider myself lucky I asked for a partner before they had their falling-out."
"I consider myself lucky. We should have another party, to welcome the new additions to our team."
Carson chuckled as they entered the nearest transporter to get to the mess hall. "You just want another chance to show off."
"Of course." Radek was still laughing when they entered the dining hall. He glanced around, and his eyes widened. He nudged Carson with an elbow. "Isnít that Sgt. Bryan with Major Lorne?"
"Aye, it is," Carson answered after glancing toward where the recently arrived major was speaking with the Canadian communications technician. "Perhaps theyíre speaking of the majorís recent missions."
Radekís eyebrows rose expressively. "Our young sergeant looks like he wishes the major was on the menu."
"I think heís finally giving up pining for Col. Sheppard."
"Thank God! Rodney kept muttering that Canada doesnít have a death penalty!" Radek shuddered as he remembered some of Rodneyís looks at Chuck Bryan.
"íTis a good thing he and Rodney managed to bond over their love ofówhat were those things called again?" Carson asked as they made their way to the serving line.
"Beavertails. I am still not sure what they are, but it sounds disgusting," Radek said with a shudder.
"Yes, it does. Those two, and Canada, can keep them and be happy with it."
"You have no idea what youíre missing." One of the scientists, a woman from Ottawa, pushed past them, muttering wistfully about hot pastry, sugar, and cinnamon.
"Aye, and I believe Iím very glad of that."
"This from the man who eats sheep intestines," Rodney yawned, walking up behind them.
Radek remained silent, not about to defend haggis.
Carson huffed, indignant. "This from the man who eats whatever anyone gives him without a thought as to what it tastes like!"
"I do too care! I always make sure whatever someone gives me doesnít have citrus!"
"I think they have turkey sandwiches today. Potato salad too." Entering behind Rodney, John tried to prevent bloodshed.
"Mmm, sounds good." Rodneyís mood instantly improved, and he looked at Carson and Radek curiously. "So why were you two talking about beavertails anyway."
Carson nodded over to where Sgt. Bryan and Maj. Lorne were still sitting, the sergeantís chair noticeably closer to the majorís than it had been before. "That would be why."
"God, the prettiness is blinding," John muttered, eyeing the two men. "And I guess we wonít have to worry about being discreet around Lorne."
"I donít know," Rodney mused, starting to grab random food from the offerings in front of him, "he seems pretty oblivious to me."
John glanced over again and realized that Bryan did seem to be the one making the moves. "He might as well just move into a double room now. Nothing stops a determined Canadian."
"Thatís because weíre inherently superior," Rodney smirked. "Academically, culturally, and I wonít even go into the whole social freedoms thing."
Carson glanced at Radek and said two words. "Celine Dion."
Radek shrugged. "I like her singing."
Carson stared at him. "Och, man, if I didnít love ye..."
"But you do." Radek batted his eyes at the Scot, trying not to laugh.
Nearby, John felt no such compunction, and his laughter drew eyes to them.
"See, Major?" Chuck Bryan commented to his tablemate, nodding at the foursome in the food line. "Multi-national bliss."
Lorne looked from his companion to the senior staff getting their lunch. "They seem to be close friends. Reminds me of SG1 and Fraser."
"Fraser?" Chuck asked, managing to lessen the gap between them by another inch or so.
"She was the doctor at the SGC. She died a couple of years ago. But she was always close to the teams, especially SG1, and they shared a lot of secrets with her."
"Ahh. Iím sorry, if she was your friend as well, but yeah, the doctors and Col. Sheppard are pretty close that way." He paused and grinned charmingly. "Well, not that way; Dr. Zelenkaís pretty possessive over Dr. Beckett."
Lorne laughed, shaken out of his memories of Janet Fraser. "Yeah, Iíve already heard about him setting Cadman straight about Dr. Beckettís availability, and that only happened just before I came in here."
"The Atlantis gossip network beats any communication device known to man; if Dr. McKay ever figured out a way to harness it, Iíd be out of a job."
"Good thing Dr. McKay seems to have other things on his mind then."
Chuck seized that opening with both hands and held on for dear life. "Work keeps him busy enough and then when you add other things... Letís just say Iím glad Iím me, but then if there were more of me, Atlantis might implode from all the sexiness." He grinned and winked at Lorne.
Lorne leaned back in his chair, regarding the other man with interest. He thought he understood what was going on, but he needed to be sure. "You do remember that Iím US military, right?"
"As are the majority of non-civilian personnel here. Just how much do you let that run your private life?" Chuck looked over to where Col. Sheppard was now teasing Dr. McKay by holding a dessert just out of his reach, then back at Maj. Lorne.
"About as much as the colonel does."
Chuckís grin widened to one of almost blinding luminosity. "So if I told you that the view of sunset off the northeast pier was gorgeous and usually very private..."
"Iíd say that sounded like something I need to see for myself." Lorneís smile widened as well.
Chuck gathered up his dishes and set them on his tray. "Iím very glad to hear that, Major. I get off duty at 1700, and the sun sets around 2030. Meet you there?" As he spoke, he stood, brushing against the other man because of the proximity of their chairs.
Lorne smiled up at him. "I look forward to it."
John walked up to the table as the sergeant left. "Mind if we join you, Major? The place is pretty packed right now."
Lorne waved at the empty seats around him. "Make yourselves comfortable."
"Did ye have a nice conversation with Sgt. Bryan?" Carson asked as they all settled into place around the hapless major.
Seeing himself surrounded, Lorne looked around warily, the grin on Col. Sheppardís face not particularly reassuring. "Yeah, it was... very friendly."
Rodney nodded as he picked up his utensils and began cutting up his meat. "Thatís us Canadians, always a friendly bunch; why, Dr. Zelenka was just telling me how friendly we are, werenít you, Radek?" he smirked at the last and waited for the cursing.
Radek glared at him and muttered under his breath. "Most Canadians are very polite and friendly, with a few notable exceptions."
Lorne looked from one to the other and wondered if he should make a break for it.
"So," Rodney continued, spearing a piece of broccoli from Johnís plate and eating it without breaking stride. "You and Sgt. Bryan making plans?"
"Rodney," Carson groaned, "thatís about as subtle as a brick to the head."
John stared at him. "Rodney? Subtle? Did you step through the looking glass, Carson?"
Lorne focused intently on his plate, hoping that Dr. McKayís question would be forgotten.
"One can always hope, Colonel," Carson protested.
Rodney waved a hand, nearly hitting Radek in the face with his fork. "What point is there in it?" he asked, before pointing his utensil at Lorne. "And you havenít answered my question, Major."
"No, I didnít."
John grinned. "A for effort and points for brevity, but donít waste your time. Yenta Rodneyís on the move, so just tell him what he wants to know, and you might avoid being set up."
Radek snickered into his coffee.
"Iím not the yenta; thatís you and this damn city!" Rodney sputtered.
"And whoís interrogating the major about his date with the cute Canadian?"
"Itís not a date!" Lorne exclaimed, only to let his eyes fall back to his plate under the knowing looks of the four men at the table with him.
"Aye, lad, we believe you," Carson said seriously, though his blue eyes were shining with suppressed laughter.
"Would you rather he date a different cute Canadian?" Rodney asked, frowning at John.
"The only other cute Canadian in this city is taken!" John growled, making Radek dart a worried glance at Maj. Lorne.
"Well duh," Lorne snorted. "Though Iím not so sure about the cute part."
John seemed to be torn between defending Rodneyís cuteness and being glad that Lorne wasnít interested.
"I was speaking of Connors over in linguistics, but thank you for pointing that out, Colonel." Rodney patted Johnís hand and went back to eating.
"I really hate you sometimes," John grumbled, making everyone at the table laugh.
"Sir, Iíve only been here a few weeks, and even I know thatís not true," Lorne laughed.
"Most of the time anyway," Carson put in.
Lorne grinned. "Thatís why Iím meeting Sgt. Bryan. In Atlantis I donít have to worry about my superiorsí reactions."
"Smart man," John approved. "Just watch it around Caldwell."
"And take some chocolate cake," Rodney advised around another bite of his meal. "I heard it was good tonight."
Carson glanced at Radek and rolled his eyes.
"I think this is our cue to leave." Radek stood up and eyed the other three men while he waited for Carson.
John watched Radek and Carson leave before turning his attention on his second. "Welcome to Atlantis, Major."
Lorne frowned. "Iíve been here for weeks, Colonel."
"Yes, but now youíre officially a member of the madhouse," Rodney laughed.
"What he said." John indicated Rodney with a carrot heíd stolen from Rodneyís plate.
"This place is even crazier than the SGC," Lorne decided.
"You sure you worked with Gen. OíNeill?" Rodney asked, stealing the rest of Johnís drink.
"Yeah, but I wasnít part of SG1," Lorne shrugged, trying to hide his grin as he watched the two men eat each otherís meals.
"Youíre not on my team either," John pointed out, before scooping some of the frosting from Rodneyís cake and licking it off his finger.
"No, but I am a lot more senior here, comparatively."
"This could work," Rodney mused, smacking Johnís hand when he tried to steal more frosting. "Send Lorne and his team out, and we could relax on that island we found."
"Iím pretty sure thatís not why I was assigned here," Lorne pointed out, grinning as he watched them, though he jumped when Rover suddenly joined them, still not used to the cart.
"He has a point, Rodney. And Rover just brought you more cake, so quit hogging that piece!"
"Whine, whine, whine," Rodney muttered under his breath as he pushed the one piece closer to John and took the other from Rover, patting him in thanks as the cart settled by his chair. John immediately reached over and stole a bite of Rodneyís piece, making Lorne choke when he started laughing.
Rodney scowled and narrowly missed stabbing Johnís fingers with his fork. "I hope Sgt. Bryan wonít treat you like this."
"I thought Canadians were supposed to be polite?" Lorne chuckled, leaning back in his chair with coffee in hand. This was a very weird conversation to be having with his commanding officer; then again, it was a lot like Jack OíNeillís style. For men who barely knew each other, the general and the colonel had a lot in common.
Meanwhile John was snorting at his comment. "Rodney polite? Not in this lifetime! Itís part of his charm."
"No point in it, just wastes time," Rodney shrugged, digging into his cake before John could eat any more of it and rubbing Roverís sensor array with his free hand.
"How very economical of you," Lorne muttered. Finished his dinner, he stood up. "And now if youíll excuse me, I think itís time to go find out what other Canadians like."
John grinned. "Good luck."
"Donít forget the cake!" Rodney called after him, before smirking at John. "You owe me five super primo massages at the time of my choosing."
"Iíve created a monster." But John didnít look overly concerned. He liked giving Rodney massages.
"Like you wouldnít have taken my last Godiva bars if you won!"
John sighed wistfully. "I was really looking forward to melting one over me and having you lick it off too."
Rodneyís expression turned thoughtful, and he nodded to himself. "I think I can sacrifice one bar to that cause; but Iím still not telling you where they are!"
"Youíre a sneaky, secretive bastard and I love you." John looked up in surprise when Rover suddenly shot out from under the table and crashed into Col. Caldwell, making the other officer grunt at the impact and stop before he got close enough to hear John and Rodneyís quiet conversation.
"McKay!" Caldwell shouted, glaring down at the cart that had attacked him. "Get this thing under control!"
"Sorry, Colonel, he was getting me something, and I guess he didnít see you." Rodney couldnít help the smirk he knew he was wearing. "You are such a good cart," he murmured when Rover scooted back to them and settled under the table again.
"Thanks, Rover," John said softly, reaching down to pat him. He looked up at Caldwell, trying not to snicker. "Better get used to looking for low hazards, Colonel. We found the rest of the carts, so more will be getting activated soon. Theyíre very useful."
"You have got to be kidding," Caldwell groaned.
"Oh, heís serious," Rodney put in. "Iíve already sent a recommendation to Dr. Weir that as soon as weíve finished studying the one weíre working on, the science staff with the gene be allowed to imprint them."
"I think some of the military should too, especially ones who are on teams where the scientist doesnít have one. Iíd like to see every gate team equipped with a cart," John said. "There are definitely enough of them, and we already know theyíre designed to fit in the jumpers."
Caldwell clenched his jaw so hard Rodney wondered if he was going to crack a tooth. "Of course we do have to get the jumpers reverse engineered first so we have enough for the gate teams to use again," Rodney added.
"Yes!" John said emphatically, not about to give up the fun of flying jumpers. "But in the meantime, I think thatís all the more reason to have carts with the gate teams. Theyíll give the personnel some extra protection when they donít have shielded jumpers." He watched Caldwell surreptitiously, wondering if the man was actually going to burst a blood vessel right there.
"I wonder if the gene therapy would take with Novack," Rodney mused, watching the Marine colonel out of the corner of his eye. "A cart would be helpful on the Daedalus."
Caldwell actually growled. "Good evening, gentleman," he muttered, before taking his food to other, safer parts of the mess hall, running into Stackhouse as he turned and spilling both of their trays all over the hapless lieutenant, who then received a tongue-lashing about watching where he was going.
After Caldwell left, Stackhouse stood for a moment, shoulders slumping as he stared down at the remains of his dinner before he turned to leave as well, giving up. Watching him, John shook his head. "Put Stackhouse down for the first bunch to get carts, would you? I think he needs one."
"He needs a mobile food dispenser," Rodney mused, sending Rover after the lieutenant with a fresh tray of food because he felt sorry for the younger man.
"Yeah, I donít know what his problem is lately. He never used to be such a klutz." Rover caught up with the lieutenant before he made it out of the mess hall, so he turned back and sat down at an empty table. Only when he was seated did Rover place the tray on the table, and then he patted Stackhouseís leg before returning to Rodney and John.
"Maybe he needs to get laid." Rodney shrugged and rubbed Rover on the array as the cart settled by them again. "Heís all twitchy."
John shrugged. "Well, there are a lot more people here now. Surely he can find someone."
Rodney nodded, then grinned evilly. "I could set him up with Cadman, and Radek would owe me for the rest of his life."
"As amusing as that might be," John snickered, "I think thatís one Marine whoíd like to do her own chasing."
"True; we could let Rover pick the person out. I think he likes Stackhouse."
"I think youíre right. Then again, he seems to like most people, except Kavanagh and Caldwell. And he wasnít too happy with Everett either." John grinned, though it quickly faded when he remembered his last meeting with the man. "Iím sensing a trend. He doesnít like people who he perceives as a danger to us."
"Heís a smart cart," Rodney repeated, before smirking. "I wonder what heíd make of your glowy goddess then."
John sighed, having hoped to have heard the last of the Chaya incident, but obviously that was not to be. "Heíd probably break her shins. But in case you havenít noticed, Iím with you, not her."
"Not arguing that point," Rodney shrugged, dragging the piece of cake that John hadnít eaten back in front of him and poking at it with his fork. "Just wondering."
"Wondering what? You donít actually think Iíd rather be with her, do you?"
"No. If you had wanted that, youíd be with her. I just worry that sheíll find a way around her Ďrulesí and come back saying she wants to be with you. Hello, brilliant here, but lacking in the god-like powers, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to fighting for my man."
John had to forcibly restrain himself from leaning over the table and kissing Rodney. "Youíre forgetting one key datum, Dr. McKay. Iím not interested in her, so she could come back and dance a naked cancan on the tabletop, and youíd still be the one Iíd be dragging into a supply closet for a quickie."
Rodney choked back a laugh at that image and pressed his leg against Johnís briefly in a silent apology. "Good point, Colonel. Now, if youíre done eating, thereís some data Iíd like to discuss with you in my lab."
John pushed his tray away so quickly it almost tumbled off the other side of the table. "Iím always up for helping you with your data," he announced brightly.
"And I appreciate your selfless giving." Rodney waited until Rover got rid of their trays and was back with them before heading out of the mess hall, pulling John in for a kiss after the transporter doors closed and heíd locked them.
When he came up for air, John licked his lips and asked, "So are we actually going to your lab, or should we go find a nice, empty part of the city to enjoy ourselves in?"
Rodney gave him a Ďwhat do you thinkí look and backed away so they looked semi-presentable. "Nice and quiet works for me, though it wonít stay that way for long."
John had barely glanced at the panel and certainly hadnít touched it when the doors slid open on a dark, silent hallway. An instant later, the lights gradually came on, and Rover rolled out, pausing after a moment for them to follow him.
Rodney chuckled and slid an arm around Johnís waist as they walked out of the transporter and into the corridor. "Between Rover and the city, I donít think we need to worry about privacy."
"Lucky us." John looked around curiously. "I wish we had more time to explore the city properly. Thousands of people lived and workedóor whatever Ancients didóhere, and from what the other Weir said, the Ancients didnít take everything with them. There have to be department stores and all kinds of interesting things somewhere." He grinned at Rodney. "I wanna be the one to find the sex toys stores."
Rodney groaned. "Of course you would."
"Oh, like you wouldnít enjoy it!"
"That depends how kinky they were!"
John just looked at him. "You donít trust me?"
"Hello? Who let who tie him up on the lab bench and fuck him silly? Of course I trust you; I just donít trust how kinky the Ancients might have been! I donít need some innocuous-looking toy giving me an enema!"
John tried not to laugh, but it was a losing battle. When he could breathe again, he kissed the disgruntled expression off Rodneyís face. "Tell you what, you can test any toys we find on me first."
"God, I always knew you were a slut, but thatís-" Rodney stopped, at a loss for words. "Ugh!"
That set John off again, and he ended up leaning on Rover for support as he doubled over with laughter. "God, youíre easy to wind up," he finally chuckled.
"Oh, ha ha," Rodney grumbled before he too snickered as Rover moved out from under John, dumping him to the floor and into a room when the door slid open at Johnís approach. "And see? You get what you deserve."
"Et tu, Rover?" John eyed the cart with mock disgust before chuckling again. "And why are you way over there, Rodney? Get down here."
"Iím just making sure no hidden Ancient sex toys are going to pop out of the walls on your command and attack me," Rodney laughed, patting Rover, then giving him a small push toward the opposite side of the room so that he could go sit next to John.
John eyed the walls warily. "I hate to tell you, but youíre not the only one whoíd be freaked if that happened. But since it wonít..." He grabbed Rodney and pulled him down on top of himself, grinning wickedly.
"Youíll be my sex toy?" Rodney asked wryly.
"Every chance I get!"
Rodney grinned and threaded his fingers through Johnís hair. "This I like," he murmured before leaning in to eat at the tempting lips beneath his.
"Iím glad." John smiled up at him, lips swollen from the kiss, and he worked his hands up under Rodneyís shirt, kneading the hard muscles of his back.
"So since youíre my sex toy, I get to do with you what I want, right?" Rodney was rocking his body in small circles over Johnís, and his blue eyes were sparkling with desire.
John stilled, his memory going back to other times and other people, but then he met Rodneyís gaze, and he relaxed with a smile. "Anything," he agreed throatily, trusting Rodney absolutely.
"Hey, youíre the kink-monster, not me," Rodney murmured. "Iím just planning on licking you from top to bottom, then flipping you over and reversing the process."
John whimpered. "Whenever youíre ready."
"For you? That would be any hour of the day." Rodney pushed himself up onto his knees, shifting to straddle Johnís hips and unzip his jacket, pushing it off his shoulders. Johnís hands continued moving over Rodneyís back under the shirt, then slid free to remove Rodneyís jacket as well. That done, he pushed the shirt up and over Rodneyís head, and the moment his chest was bared, Johnís hands moved around, his thumbs unerringly going to the hard nipples to flick them.
"Hey, hands to yourself," Rodney hissed, squirming at the pleasurable sensation, then getting control of himself again and catching Johnís hands, pushing them over his head.
"You didnít tell me I couldnít touch," John pouted, squirming pleasurably as Rodney held his hands captive.
"Fine, Iím telling you now. If you touch me, itíll be over too soon," Rodney grumbled, letting go of Johnís wrists, and, once he was sure they were staying put, reaching for Johnís shirt and pulling it over his head along with his jacket.
"I have confidence in your recuperative powers." John shivered at Rodneyís light touch, and he arched his back, trying to entice him to touch more.
"Glad to hear it, but you still donít get to touch," Rodney chuckled before leaning in to kiss Johnís mouth, sweeping his tongue inside and thoroughly checking each and every bit of the orifice while his fingers carded through Johnís hair, leaving it even more messy than usual.
"You are an evil tease," John said, more than a little breathless after that kiss. "And are you planning to get our pants off?"
Rodney kissed John again before pressing a finger to his lips. "Be quiet like a good little sex toy. You can whimper and moan and make all those delicious noises, but no talking."
John narrowed his eyes, promising later retribution with his look, but he followed the rules and didnít say anything, although he did squirm to rub their cocks together.
"Good boy," Rodney murmured, nipping and sucking his way down Johnís neck, leaving visible marks of claiming and not caring that people would see themóJohn could explain them away as razor burn or something.
Feeling what Rodney was doing, John shuddered with increasing arousal, loving it that Rodney wanted to make him as his. He promised himself to keep his jacket off or undone for the next few days to let Rodney see that he wasnít embarrassed by the marks.
"God, you taste good," Rodney whispered, moving lower and nipping along the line of Johnís collarbone.
John could only moan, wanting to tell Rodney how good he tasted, wanting to touch him as well, but held motionless and silent by Rodneyís command.
Moaning his pleasure, Rodney continued lower, licking Johnís nipples until they peaked, then tugging at them with his teeth, wanting hear John whimper. And whimper he did. John writhed beneath Rodneyís attentions, one hand clutching the opposite wrist to keep himself from grabbing at Rodney. Rodney played with Johnís chest until the other man was moaning and squirming under him, then he moved up to kiss him again, quieting his sounds with agile applications of lips and tongue as he ground his hips against Johnís thigh.
Whimpering, John squirmed, desperate to feel bare skin against him. If Rodney didnít do something soon, he was going to end up coming in his pants. He raised his legs, wrapping them around Rodneyís waist, and tugged while whining imploringly.
Shaking his head, Rodney pulled back, catching Johnís knees in his hands and gently pushing his legs back to the floor again. "You promised," he whispered, staring into Johnís unfocused gaze for long moments, a pleased smile curving his lips when John shivered but remained still. Now that he knew John would stay that way, Rodney went back to his mapping, roaming over the ridges and valleys of Johnís rib cage, pausing a the various scars he found on the path, remembering each incident that had caused them.
Fine tremors wracked Johnís lean frame, and he wriggled restlessly, tiny movements that he fought uselessly to control even as he managed to stay how Rodney wanted him. He was completely unaware of his constant whimpering, every exhalation a near sob of need.
"So mine, so, so fucking mine," Rodney whispered before circling Johnís navel with his tongue, dipping inside the shallow hollow to taste John there, his hands stroking over the jutting hipbones, still not starting to remove Johnís pants.
John could only nod and pray that Rodney would get the pants off soon. As if sensing his need, Rodney ever so slowly undid Johnís belt, then the button and zipper holding his fatigues closed. He sighed and spread the fabric apart, nuzzling his way lower, his breath coursing hot and fast over Johnís briefs and the hard flesh beneath them.
John nearly groaned Rodneyís name but managed to swallow it back so all that emerged was a strangled cry. The hand holding his other wrist tightened to the point that he would have bruises, but he never felt it and wouldnít have cared if he had.
After tugging Johnís pants downward, waiting for him to lift his hips upward and help, Rodney kissed the now bare flesh. "John," he whispered, lifting his head to wait for the dazed reaction. "Touch me now."
Johnís hands were suddenly everywhere, nearly tearing Rodneyís pants off, stroking his back and ass, scratching at his spine as John tried to pull him closer. His legs rubbed against Rodneyís sides as they slid upward to hook over his shoulders, and he hitched himself up, whimpering pleadingly. Rodney groaned at the sudden attack, and he caught Johnís ass in his palms, spreading the cheeks and licking at his hole, pressing his tongue inwards when John howled.
John was pretty sure Rodney was going to kill him, but it felt too good to care. His whole body arched into a deep bow, tensing so hard it might have hurt if heíd been in any condition to notice, and he yelled wordlessly, the sound echoing in the empty section of the city. Rodney made a pleased noise at that reaction and continued fucking John with his tongue, wanting to hear, and feel, more of Johnís pleasure.
John couldnít have been quiet just then if his life had depended on it, so it was a good thing that Rodneyís rule only applied to not talking. He writhed, he squirmed, he whimpered, wailed and howled, and Rodney just kept going until John couldnít take any more and came just like that, without a single touch on his cock.
Rodney watched avidly, taking in each of Johnís reactions, his own body pulling tight in answer to Johnís orgasm, and he slowly lowered the other manís body to the floor, shifting their positions so that he could lick away the semen from Johnís belly.
"God, that was gorgeous," he whispered, moving upward to kiss John harshly, sharing the taste of his come with him. "Youíre gorgeous."
"God, fuck me," John groaned, clutching at Rodneyís arms. He needed to feel Rodney inside him after that.
"Oh yeah." Rodney kissed John again before backing off him, searching their discarded clothes for the lube he knew both of them carried. "Roll over, Colonel, I want you that way this time," he purred, once finding it.
With a throaty moan, John did as ordered. He lay on his belly, legs spread, and he waited. Rodney took only enough time to pull John up onto his knees, kissing the small of his back as he coated his fingers with lube and pressed them inside Johnís ass, his body rocking with the motion.
John knelt there, his shoulders still pressed to the floor since there was no way he could make his arms support him yet, and he groaned hungrily as Rodneyís fingers slid into him, making him want more. He pushed back, hips rocking involuntarily as he fucked himself on Rodneyís hand.
Finally unable to wait any longer, Rodney pulled back just long enough to slick the cool gel over his erection, and shoved forward into Johnís ass, grunting with the effort it took to keep from coming right then and there. John pushed back at him, and he grabbed the colonelís hips, riding him hard and fast to his own all-consuming orgasm.
Though his own climax was much too recent for John to manage another erection, he still felt a deep shudder of pleasure as Rodney came in him. He carefully stretched out his legs and lowered them to the floor, one hand reaching for Rodneyís to interlace their fingers. "That was... nice."
"Nice?" Rodney sputtered as he rolled off John and onto his back, keeping their fingers twined together. "Just nice?"
"Very nice?" John offered, smiling sappily, too lethargic to move.
Rodney snickered. "I think I broke you."
John chuckled in return. "Wore me out temporarily. But unlike a ZPM, I recharge."
"So youíre just my Energizer Bunny?"
"Do I look pink and fuzzy to you?"
"Well, not pink, but as for fuzzy..." Rodney reached out and tousled Johnís hair.
"And again with the hair," John sighed, shaking his head though he was careful not to pull away from Rodneyís touch.
"I like the hair," Rodney protested.
"Good, Ďcause itís not going anywhere." John turned his head to the side to grin at Rodney. "Do you suppose we should actually explore some of this area once we can move again?"
"Still looking for those sex toy stores?"
"Of course!" John grinned. "Really though, they must have had some form of commerce, so there has to be an Ancient equivalent of a shopping mall somewhere in this city. You have to admit it would be cool to find it."
Rodney winced. "Tell me you donít like shopping, John. Please."
"Actually, I hate it. But it would be cool to find out how the Ancients did it. And what kind of stuff they liked."
"This would be so much easier if things were marked on the transporter maps."
"Tell me about it. I wonder if the Ancients intentionally deleted that kind of thing. You know, like the English did in World War II when they took down road signs to make it more difficult for an invading army?"
Rodney shrugged and stood, offering John a hand up as well so they could get dressed. "That could be or maybe they all knew their way around so well they didnít need maps."
John snickered. "They came with built in compasses? Then again, youíre probably right. They lived in this city for a million years, or was it ten million? Whatever, Iím sure they all knew it very well after generations lived and died here."
"Ten million, and given that amount of time, their reproductive rate had to be very low."
"More cerebral than sexual, huh? Glad I didnít get that with the gene."
Rodney rolled his eyes as he began to get dressed. "Trust me, youíre one hundred percent primate in that regard."
"As are you, so it works well for us." John pulled on his boxers and t-shirt and reached for his pants.
"Honestly, Iíd say my over-active libido has more to do with you than my genetics." Rodney looked around for his boots and grinned at Rover as the cart found one at the far side of the room and brought it over to him.
"Iím flattered." John grinned as he sat back down to pull his socks and boots on.
"Thatís because youíre a slut, but I love you for it." Once he was dressed, Rodney stood and kissed the top of Johnís head. "So, letís go look for your mall."
"So what do you hope to find? And did you ever ask Rover if he knows where things are?"
Rodney glowered at John. "Iíve asked Rover where a lot of things are, including another ZPM, but he seems to react to only what we knowóhe couldnít help us find where he came from, remember? Iíve got to look through Janusí notes and see if his memory was wiped when they shut down the city or itís just part of his programming.
Rover, plainly aware he was being spoken about, wormed his way between the two men, nudging both for patting.
John patted him absently, most of his attention on Rodney. "I know, but itís worth a try, right? If he doesnít know, weíre no worse off than when we started." He looked around. "Right or left?"
"Got a coin to flip? But hold on and Iíll ask." Rodney squatted down in front of Rover, and the cart spun its wheels in excitement at the attention. "Okay, Rover, do you know where any stores are?"
The wheels slowed down and Rover almost visible drooped, making John crouch down as well and pat him. "Itís okay, boy, we didnít really think you would, but we had to ask. Hey, this way you can explore with us. Itíll be fun."
"Youíre the best cart, I swear," Rodney murmured, stroking Roverís housing, glad there wasnít anyone else there to see this.
Rover shivered and lifted itself back up, rolling forward a few feet and pausing, half-turning as if to prod the other two on.
Laughing, John straightened up again and offered Rodney a hand before starting after Rover. "I think itís time to continue."
Rodney sighed and followed after John and his cart. "I swear, if anything jumps out at me, sex toy or not, youíre a dead man."
John laughed. "Rover and I will protect you. And Rover will make sure nothing else imprints on you. Iím pretty sure he doesnít intend to share."
"Thank god! A cart and a slut are all I can handle, thank you."
"And later tonight weíre going to have a long talk about the fact that I came after the cart!"
"Not here." Rodney patted his heart before pointing his finger at John. "And if you ever mention I was that sappy, Iíll get you."
"Nope, itís my secret." John pulled Rodney in for a kiss before letting him continue. "And it seems that Rover liked the right hall better."
"Guess weíll head that way. As far as I can remember, weíve at least done cursory explorations in these areas."
"Weíve made sure that the area is structurally sound after the Wraith attacks, if thatís what youíre worrying about. And there are no lifesigns or cocoons. So itís perfectly safe to explore since Rover will make sure we donít get stuck anywhere."
"Yes, yes, I know that, I was just trying to recall if there had been any in-depth surveys here," Rodney answered with a wave of his hand.
"I donít think weíve done in-depth surveys of any sections of the city aside from the main parts of the central core. I still think weíre all living in offices, and the real homes are out in the spokes."
"True, but thereís no need to waste power by housing people everywhere, willy-nilly, is there?" They reached a doorway, and Rover paused, waiting for them. "Should we?"
"Of course. And a ZPM can power the shields for over three thousand years, so Iíd imagine it could probably manage a thousand powering the entire city. Surely we can find another or figure out how to make or charge them ourselves in that length of time." John went through the door first, automatically sweeping for threats before letting Rodney follow him.
"Of course weíll be able to do that!" Rodney huffed, sighing when Rover pushed in ahead as well. "You know, Iím not totally helpless..."
"No, I seem to recall you shooting a Wraith and saving my life," John agreed. "However, in the normal course of things, you scientist, me soldier. Deal with it."
"Fine, fine, whatever." Rodney waved a hand in Johnís direction, his attention on the panels in the wall across the room from them.
"Aw hell, youíre geeking out on me. What did you spot?" John looked at the panels as well but didnít see what interested Rodney.
"That." Rodney pointed at a series of symbols without commenting further.
John looked at them, then back at Rodney. "And?"
"And this would be a hell of a lot easier if Daniel hadnít gotten himself stuck to that alien babe and was actually here to translate. Oh hell."
John shut his eyes briefly. "Oh hell?" he queried.
"Oh hell as in itís not what I thought. These," Rodney pointed at several panels covered with the Ancientsí writing, "talk about spiking energy, and I thought it was experiment data, but these," he gestured at another set of panels, "make it abundantly clear that isnít the case."
"Well, what is it?" John asked with exaggerated patience.
"Youíre kidding, right?"
Rodney rubbed his forehead. "I wish I was."
"We actually found a sex shop?" John started to laugh.
"No," Rodney replied with exaggerated patience, "we found a room displaying erotic poetry." He paused, then smirked. "Hrmmm, I wonder if Chaya is memorialized here on the walls."
John rolled his eyes. "Look, Iíll forget about Allina if you forget about Chaya. Deal?"
Rodney sniffed, looking affronted. "Youíre the one who brought it to my attention that she was interested in me, not that I would have done anything with her anyway, and..." He caught sight of Johnís expression and nodded. "Fine, I wonít mention her again, even if I find a really dirty limerick about her."
"Good. Besides, you could always just put an even dirtier one about us up."
"Hmmm..." Rodney rubbed his chin as he thought of words that rhymed with ĎJohní and Ďslutí and Ďcolonelí.
John burst into laughter when he saw that Rodney was considering it. "Youíd better not be planning to call me a slut on that wall!" he warned, chuckling. "Too many people here read Ancient!"
"Ruin all my fun, why donít you," Rodney muttered, before brightening. "How about ĎFor a good time, do not call John Sheppard, heís takení?"
"Go for it," John snickered. "Whatís a city without a little graffiti?"
"Damn, forgot my Sharpie," Rodney laughed. "How about I write it on you later?"
"Just not across my forehead," John chuckled. "Youíre not branding me."
"Hrmm, if I write small, itíll fit on your ass."
"Where youíre the only one whoíll ever see it," John pointed out. "Well, you and Carson. The man takes a fiendish delight in sticking needles in my ass."
"There, there," Rodney said in his best consoling tone. "Iím sure he wonít tell anyone what it says, though he really should stick to sticking things in Radekís ass!"
John made a face. "Heís not sticking that in my ass!"
"I wasnít offering to let him!" Rodney shrieked, making Rover dart over to them to see what the problem was.
"Youíre cute when youíre possessive. A little demented too, of course, but that works for you." John patted Rover to calm him.
"Keep it up and Carsonís needle will be the only thing youíre getting in your ass for a long time."
John gave him his most pitiful look.
Rodney groaned. "Why me?"
"Because you love me." John grinned his wide, happy grin.
"Go find another room, Colonel."
Johnís eyebrows rose. "Ready to go again already?"
Only Roverís pincer catching Rodneyís shirt saved him from banging his head against the wall.
John laughed. "Okay, okay, Iíll be good. Letís see whatís farther down this corridor," he suggested, heading back out of the room.
"Rover, hand me the small brush." After the cart placed the item in his hand, Rodney absently patted it before dipping the bristles in the can of paint beside him. "Not artistic my ass," he muttered, leaning back enough to study his handiwork before taking up where heíd left off.
"Hey, Rodney, whatcha up to..." Johnís voice trailed off as he came in and stopped in his tracks, staring in fascinated horror at the inactivated cart in front of the scientist. Instantly realizing what was going on, he whispered, "Oh my God, heís going to kill you."
"What? You donít like it?" Rodney glanced up at John, smirking, then back at the cart. It had been painted a bright pink, and he was just touching up the last of the lettering on the back housing. "Granted, itís not quite done yet. Huzinski in metrology had some ribbons she gave me, and I have to tie them on, but thereís plenty of time for that before Radek gets back."
John stared at the vivid cart with the quite recognizable face of Barbie painted on it, and he could only shake his head as he contemplated Radekís reaction. "Weíd better find another of those personal shields for you."
"I have you and Rover; Iíll be safe enough." Rodney reached out to pat the cart and succeeded in streaking pink paint down its housing. "Oops, sorry, címere and Iíll wipe it off."
"Iím really glad Radek doesnít usually go on missions so he doesnít have a sidearm," John muttered, watching them. "Heís going to go ballistic, you know, and Iím not sure that Carson will patch you up after he sees this." John made a mental note to keep his sidearm with him at all times. He wouldnít kill the Czech, but a bullet in the leg might save Rodneyís life.
Rodney pouted. "It wonít be my fault if he canít take a joke. Itís water-based paint; all he has to do is hose the damn thing off, and itíll look normal again."
"But youíre not going to tell him that, are you?" John finally laughed.
"Of course not! Heís a scientist, let him experiment!"
John kept laughing. "I think I need to start a pool."
"Betting on what, how many ways Radek can try to dismember me?"
"That too. Though I was thinking more of how long you would have to hide from him, how many decibels his screech would reach, whether Carson would step in and put you both in restraints..." John had to stop as he was laughing too hard to speak.
Rodney sniffed and added a few final touches to the lettering that declared the cart the property of Radek Zelenka. "Heíll come after you too, you know; for not stopping me," he commented.
Ignoring that, John wanted to know, "How are you going to get him close enough to imprint it when it looks like that? Heís more likely to jump off a balcony."
"According to the notes, you donít have to be close to them to imprint them, and considering how I acquired Rover, Iím inclined to believe that." Rodney rinsed off the brush and patted his cart again. "So itís a simple matter of telling him to call his cart."
John shook his head as he circled around the pink monstrosity to get the full effect. "He really is going to kill you. Iíll die heroically trying to save you, but an entire battalion wouldnít be enough with this for inspiration."
"Heís not going to kill you," Rodney promised, getting up off the floor and groaning as he rubbed his back. "But in case he tries, come here and Iíll give you a lingering kiss goodbye."
"Youíre insane, you know that?" John came up behind him and began massaging his back.
"Iím sure itís because of the company I keep," Rodney muttered though he leaned back into Johnís touch.
"Yeah, all those mad scientists."
"No, all those horny colonels."
"Youíve been fucking Caldwell too?"
"Oh, now thatís disgusting!"
"Naw, only if youíd actually done it. And frankly, I could see you doing Hermiod first."
Rodney looked over his shoulder and smirked. "Iím not the one he winked at."
John shuddered. "Donít remind me!" he begged. "That was so wrong."
Rodney couldnít help it; he burst into laughter.
"Are you saying you want me to duel the Asgard for your honor?"
"No, Iím saying Iíd like to forget about the Asgard and fuck you through the mattress." He glanced over at the pink cart. "But I imagine you need to do something with that first."
"Just this." Rodney held out his hand, and Rover pulled a wide, pink satin ribbon from its storage area and handed it over. After heíd tied the bow around the pink cartís housing, Rodney stood back and studied the effect. "Perfect, and once Radek needs something, Iím going to take you up on that offer."
"What offer?" John asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the horrible sight.
"The offer to fuck me through the mattress of course."
"I have to wait till Radek needs something?" John exclaimed, his gaze shooting to Rodney.
"Do you want to miss this?!"
"I donít want to miss this." John fondled Rodneyís ass.
"Jo-ohn," Rodney whined even though he didnít move away from the colonel. "It canít be longóand I know! Call him and ask about the jumpers!"
John rolled his eyes but did as Rodney suggested. A moment later he was startled by the stream of very vicious-sounding Czech that spewed from his radio.
Rodney grinned and smothered his laughter, watching the cart intently, then pumping a fist into the air when it shuddered and rolled toward the door.
"Yes!" he laughed, hugging John while Rover whirled in a circle behind them before chasing after its sister.
John checked his clip. "Stay behind me," he advised laughingly before following the carts.
"Are you kidding? I was planning on watching this on video!"
John stopped, laughing. "Much better plan," he agreed. "Rover has the camera?"
"Set him up with it earlier; I think of everything." Rodney pulled loose from Johnís arms and walked over to the bench to hit the remote feed program on his laptop.
John moved behind him to ensure a good view while they watched Rover follow the garish cart toward the jumper bay, seeing a few startled and laughing looks along the way.
"I wonder if we should call Carson, just in case he bursts a blood vessel..."
"If he does, Carson will kill you." John watched as the door to the jumper bay slid open and the cart rolled up behind Zelenka, who hadnít noticed it yet.
"Hrmm..." Rodney watched the cart sit there, then roll forward, nudging Radek in the back. "Is it too late to go off-world for a month or so?"
John snickered, watching Radekís expressions as he turned and caught sight of the cart. First it was annoyance at being prodded, then surprise, then appalled fascination, quickly followed by pure outrage. "RODNEY!"
Rodney collapsed back against John, laughing hysterically. "Oh yes, that look was worth anything he does to me!"
"Iíll put that on your tombstone," John said, watching as Radek started toward the exit, only to stop when the cart followed at his heels. He snickered when the Czech pinched the bridge of his nose, looking like he was suffering from a massive headache.
"I thought you were supposed to save me!"
"I locked the door. I donít think the city will open it for anything but me now."
"Oh good, and we have food in here, right? Iím sure Elizabeth will come save us if he camps outside the door, plus Carson wonít like being left alone that long..." Rodney was talking faster, growing worried as Rover followed the irate Czech and his pink cart through the halls.
Having seen Radekís expression before he stormed out of the jumper bay, John only wanted to know one thing. "Does he know how to build nuclear bombs too?"
"Yes," Rodney whimpered, actively trying to hide behind John.
"Well shit," John said feelingly. He thought about it for a moment, then reached into the city systems and caused a sudden gush of water from the fire control systems to pour out over Radek and his cart.
"What did youóJohn! He wouldnít have killed me! I think," Rodney added as an afterthought, watching Radek flounder around the hallway, trying to keep his cart from grabbing his glasses to dry them.
"Iím not so sure of that. And there, he should be able to see that the paintís running... if he can ever get his glasses back on his face." Radekís battle with the cart was starting to look like something out of a Laurel and Hardy routine. "Please tell me youíre recording this?"
"Of course I am!" Rodney scowled, unable to believe John would think he wasnít. "Oh look, he finally got his glasses back."
"You know," John tilted his head to one side for a better angle, "I think that the cart looks even worse now that itís runny."
At Rodneyís mental prodding, Rover moved to another vantage point. "True, Barbieís looking like a Wraith now."
John made a face. Then he looked at Rodney. "Youíre going to keep calling it Barbie?"
Rodney snickered. "Well, I meant the picture, but thatís as good a name as any for it."
"I think Radek might object," John pointed out dryly.
"Radek has no choice in the matter."
"Rodney, you might want to let the man name his own cart." John gestured toward the monitor. "He looks like Jack Nicholson in The Shining!"
"I guess itís a good thing there arenít any axes around here then." Rodney watched as Rover scooted down the hall ahead of Radek, continuing to film him as it led him to the lab. "And why? The cart looks like a Barbie, it should be a Barbie."
"Personally, I think it looks more like Robbie the Robot."
"So we call it Bar-obbie then," Rodney laughed.
"Just donít make it Barbarella." John looked toward the door. "I think Iím glad I donít understand all of that."
Rodney pouted. "That was my next suggestion." He heard the banging on the door and winced. "I guess you should open it, or heís just going to get madder."
John stared at him. "Are you nuts? Thatís the face of the mobs that attacked Frankenstein and Draculaís castles!"
"So does that make you Dracula or Frankensteinóno wait, with that hair, youíre the wolfman."
"On second thought, face him on your own!" John unlocked the door and crossed his arms over his chest as Zelenka stormed into the room, raving incoherently in Czech while stabbing a finger into Rodneyís chest.
"Traitor," Rodney muttered before looking over at Radek, nodding his head from time to time as if he understood every word.
Rover rolled into the lab and settled by the other cart that was still dripping pink puddles around it, still filming the action.
The pink-streaked cart crept toward Radek until it was pressing against his leg, trying to make up for whatever it did wrong. Feeling it, Radek looked down, and another stream of Czech issued from him. "This is your fault!" he growled at Rodney.
"What? Itís not my fault you needed something!"
"A pink Barbie cart?!?"
"It washed off!"
Radek growled until he noticed the cart was shivering at his feet. Sighing, he crouched down and patted it, murmuring in Czech.
Rodney backed up to be nearer to John, Rover rolling forward to get between Rodney and Radek and his cart. "I guess itís good they get things mentally," he commented.
John slung an arm around Rodneyís shoulders as they watched. "Gee, just like Timmy and Lassie."
"Fuck you," Radek growled.
"Stick to Carson," Rodney ordered.
"Help me clean this mess off," Radek retorted, ignoring him.
"Because you caused it."
"Barbieís your cart."
"Reza needs help getting this junk off after you put it all on," Radek growled.
"Reza?" John asked.
"Itís not my fault that John turned the water on you both!" Rodney protested. "And whatís a Reza?"
Radek bared his teeth at Rodney in what might possibly have been called a smile... by a myopic shark. "Means reaper."
"Ooo, Iím terrified." Rover rolled over, settling at Rodneyís side in a defensive gesture. "But to make you happy, weíll help wash Barbie off."
Radekís eyes narrowed, but he let it pass, for now.
Watching him, John just knew that his vengeance was going to be both creative and awful, and Atlantis was going to have another battle of the geeks to watch.
"Hey, Colonel, want to get something to clean up this mess?" Rodney called.
John went over to an alcove that was being used as a supply closet and pulled out a rag, tossing it to Rodney. "Here ya go."
"Thanks so much," Rodney muttered, before chuckling when Rover took the rag from his hand and began dabbing at the other cart.
"Okay, now that is one bizarre sight," John laughed, grabbing another rag and coming over to help.
Radek sighed and began to wipe Reza off, relieved to see that the pink left no residue.
"People donít appreciate the work I put into things," Rodney muttered as he worked at cleaning off the cartís side, relieved it didnít seem to hold the paint job against him.
Now that it was coming off, Radek could admit, "It was a very good paint job."
Rodney eyed Radek carefully, then nodded. "It was, wasnít it?"
Radek snickered. "This does not mean I will not make you pay, you understand. But it was well done."
John shook his head. "Geeks bond over the weirdest things."
"If you didnít exact retribution, Iíd be very disappointed in you," Rodney chuckled before glowering at John. "Get to wiping, Colonel."
"What am I, a maid?" John swiped half-heartedly at a large splotch of pink.
Rodney sighed and leaned over to lick Johnís ear. "No, youíre a hot hunk of manhood with an IQ that rivals most here."
John shivered and started wiping faster, making Radek laugh.
"See, Radek? You just need the proper motivation for things," Rodney smiled, moving aside so that Rover could clean Reza as well.
"I will leave the motivation of the colonel to you." Radek smiled when Reza pressed against his leg.
"And you get to explain to Carson how the two of you now have a new roommate."
John snickered when Radek looked wide-eyed at the cart. "Donít worry, you get used to them quickly. You can get one for Carson too so Reza has a friend." He thought Radekís eyes might pop out of his head if they got any wider.
Rodney grinned as he dabbed at one of the few remaining pink spots. "Iím still looking for the right one for John."
"I think Roverís enough for both of us," John said hastily.
Rover pushed against Rodneyís leg with a little more force than necessary as if to illustrate the point, making him laugh. "True, I have my hands full with him and you."
"I donít think heíd be willing to share space with any of the others," John observed wryly. Rover had enough issues sharing Rodney with him.
"I think I will leave it to Carson whether he wishes one," Radek said emphatically.
"Apparently youíre better than another cart," Rodney laughed, stroking Roverís sensor array before he got too upset. "And címon, Radek, you know Carson needs a cart."
"It will be Carsonís decision," Radek repeated. "No pushing him, Rodney."
"Because Carson doesnít need to deal with you!" Radek growled protectively.
Remembering some instances when heíd seen Carson browbeat Rodney into following the doctorís orders, John snickered. The doctor was nowhere as innocent as Radek seemed to think.
"Excuse me, but Carsonís known me longer than he has you!" Rodney protested.
"Rodney," John sighed.
"I just meant he could say on his own if he didnít want to deal with me."
"And Iím sure he would, if necessary. However, why donít we finish cleaning Reza up and then we can all go back to our own rooms and not think about what each other is doing."
Rover rolled quickly forward and dabbed at the other cart, removing the last bits of paint and revving its wheels when Reza waved an arm at it.
"I think we may need to arrange a play date," John muttered to the other two men.
"So we should have Elizabeth requisition day care providers on the next Daedalus run?"
"Rather pointless since they stick to their preferred person like glue." John watched with amusement as Rover and Reza moved closer to Rodney and Radek.
"Well, hopefully Reza wonít pout if you have to leave her alone." Rodney continued to stroke Rover as he spoke, not wanting the cart to think he was upset over that fact.
"Unlikely," Radek decided. "Janusí notes indicate that the others are nowhere near as independent as the prototype. They should simply subside into a dormant state when not needed. I think."
Rodney looked from Radek to his cart, then back again and slowly smiled. "Weíll have to run some experiments to find out."
"Youíre not disassembling her!" Radek exclaimed, a hand coming to rest protectively on Rezaís sensor array.
"I didnít mean that way!" Rodney protested. "I just meant ones like we did with Rover at first, to see just what her personality is and just how she reacts to different situations."
John grinned. "I see sheís already got you."
Radek looked at him blankly for a moment before following Johnís gaze to his hand, still on Reza, and he realized that he was hovering over her as if to protect her from Rodney. And he was calling her Ďherí. He started to laugh.
Rodney grinned and patted Rover, bracing himself when Rover leaned against his leg for more attention. "They do kind of grow on you."
"Hopefully Reza will like Carson more than Rover did me at first," John said, watching the two scientists and their carts with amusement.
"Gentlemen, is there something going on here I should know about?" Elizabeth stood in the doorway, looking from the sopping wet Dr. Zelenka to the cart next to him, a cart that obviously wasnít Rover, and then to the large, pinkish puddle in the center of the lab floor.
"Radek activated a cart," Rodney said cheerfully. "I have video, want to see?"
Radek growled viciously and aimed a swat at Rodney, only to have Rover zip between them to block his hand, and then Reza pushed between him and Rover to protect him, and John fell on the floor laughing at the tangle of startled scientists and carts.
Stifling her laughter at the sight, Elizabeth nodded. "Well, Iím pleased to see that youíve managed to activate another of them; Iím sure it will come in handy."
"Carsonís getting his next," Rodney offered, aiming a kick at John, who continued to lie on the floor, laughing.
"Weíre just hoping that his gets along well with Reza here," John managed to say though he was still grinning widely. "And I think we should give one to Lindstrom. She could use it on missions, and it would help distract her and cheer her up."
Elizabeth nodded. "I leave it up to the department heads, meaning you, Rodney and Carson, to decide priority of distribution."
"The beta models can be deactivated and reset much more easily than Rover could, so reassigning them if people decide to leave at the end of their year will be easy enough." Rodneyís tone made it plain he thought that anyone who would do such a thing was insane.
Radek moved closer to Reza and put a possessive hand on her. "Which doesnít apply to those of us who live here."
"No, Dr. Zelenka," Elizabeth soothed him, masking her amusement, "no one will take... Reza, is it?... away from you."
"Of course I didnít mean you," Rodney scoffed. "And Iím certainly not giving you up either," he promised Rover since the cart was shivering against him.
"Like that was ever in any doubt," John snorted. "Itís a good thing weíre never going to want to go back to Earth anyway," he finally put into words what all of them knew, "since weíd be staying here with Rover regardless."
"Itís not so bad here, if you ignore the life-sucking vampires, psycho nuclear edge civilizations and unfriendly Ancients," Rodney shrugged.
"You forget I talked to OíNeill. The Milky Way has snakes that possess you, plenty of psycho civilizations, weird bug machinesóI hate bugs!--and leftover Ancient technology that the Goaíuld seem to manage to use fairly easily!" John snorted. "Iíll stay here, thanks."
Elizabeth nodded. "With so much to learn here, I canít see any of us doing anything except that."
"Well, some people havenít really settled into home," John said, trying to be fair. "I think Lindstrom might leave if she didnít have the gene. Hopefully thingsíll get better for her with time. And a lot of the new people just look at it as another assignment. Weíll see how many of them settle in."
"I think Elizabeth meant us." Rodney waved a hand around the room at the four of them. "Plus Carson Iíd guess."
"Yes, plus Carson!" There was no doubt in Radekís mind that he and Carson were there to stay, though he supposed they should probably discuss it at some point.
John chuckled. "Donít worry, Radek, no oneís going to try to take him away from you either. At least not now that Cadmanís learned her lesson," he muttered under his breath to Rodney.
"Thank goodness, Iím betting Reza could take her in a fight," Rodney whispered back.
John shuddered. "Letís hope I donít start losing personnel to carts."
"I certainly hope that wonít happen," Elizabeth eyed the two carts as Rover was now poking at Reza, apparently trying to get it to respond.
"I think he wants to play," John said faintly. Just when he thought things couldnít get weirder. "Do the others have enough independence to keep up with Rover?" he asked Rodney.
"Of course they do," Radek replied, immediately defensive on Rezaís behalf. He noticed the soggy remnants of a bow and removed it from her, stroking her comfortingly when she swatted at Roverís arm, which was still poking her.
"Weíll have to run tests for confirmation, but she seems able to interact with him well enough. A large part of their programming comes down to how they process requests. If I think ĎIím hungry,í Rover will find me food; I donít have to be specific about it." Rodney chuckled when Rover immediately left off poking at Reza and handed him a powerbar from its storage area. "Radek, however, will have to think ĎIím hungry for one of those purple yam thingsí to get something." He opened the powerbar and started eating it while patting Rover in thanks.
Now that Rover had stopped poking her, Reza was slowly rotating, pausing as she faced each person directly to imprint their images in her memory, using Radekís knowledge and memories to sort them out.
"You should probably take her and introduce her to Carson," John suggested, watching with amusement.
"True, you donít want her attacking him if he hugs you or something," Rodney laughed.
"He should be glad that sheís a little less independent-minded than Rover. At least his shins should be safe."
Radek laughed. "It is also helpful that Carson is less of a prankster than you can be, Colonel. But yes, I think youíre right. Elizabeth." He nodded to her as he started away, Reza close at his heels.
"And once thatís done, you can help me decorate Carsonís cart!" Rodney called after him.
"His mark should be a red cross. Or a caduceus if anyone has the artistic talent to do one?" John looked at Rodney and Elizabeth.
"Yes, yes, but the decoration part is different." Rodneyís grin was one of pure evil. "Does anyone know if he has a family tartan pattern?"
John had looked up when he was back on Earth, planning to do something to cheer Carson up, but heíd never had time. At least now it looked like the information would come in handy. "I couldnít find anything on the Beckettsótheyíre English as far as I can tellóbut he once mentioned that his name, Carson, was his motherís maiden name. And they do have a tartan."
Elizabeth gaped. "You want to paint an entire cart plaid?"
Rodney nodded enthusiastically. "Want to help?"
"I can think of better things to do with several hours of my time. And Iím suddenly incredibly grateful not to have the gene."
"Ah, but as the leader of our expedition, you should be able to access the cityís systems," John pointed out, trying not to grin. "And Carsonís therapy works on almost everyone now, so you really should get yourself inoculated."
"Iím late for a meeting," Elizabeth said before beating a hasty retreat.
As he watched her leave, Rodney shook his head. "Elizabeth needs to have more fun; Iím beginning to get worried about her."
John nodded. "You know about that ass she was seeing right?" At Rodneyís blank look, he explained. "He was on the list to come to Atlantis, but he decided not to. Which is fine, this isnít for everyone, but he only told her at the last minute. And at the same time told her heíd met someone else. Again, understandable when she was gone for close to a year and he had no way of knowing when or if sheíd be back, but the fact that he waited for weeks after we got back to tell her makes me want to punch him right in his lying mouth."
"What?!" Rodney goggled at John. "Why doesnít anyone tell me anything? Why didnít you tell me?" He aimed a punch at Johnís arm. "Youíve known for months! What a slime! That means he and Elizabeth probably..." Rodney snarled. "He deserves to be set out as bait for the Wraith!"
"No arguments here. And I figured you already knew. You always seem to find out stuff that youíre not supposed to know," John shrugged. "Iím thinking, though, that I should make sure the Marines find out before the next batch gets a furlough back to Earth. They all like and respect Elizabeth." He grinned evilly.
Rodney snickered at that. "Tell Lindstrom if she goes; thatís all the firepower the mission would need.
Johnís laugh sounded more than a little horrified. "At least sheís good enough that she wouldnít get caught."
"And theyíd never find the body either."
"Hm, think we should go tell her now?" John was only half kidding. When Elizabeth had told him what happened with Simon one night on the Daedalus, heíd wanted to turn right around and kill the sorry bastard. But Elizabeth deserved better than him, and hopefully sheíd find someone now that she wasnít holding on to his memory.
"It would give her a chance to hone her techniqueóand Iím still annoyed that you never mentioned it to me!"
"Rodney, I really thought you knew," John protested. "You make a habit of knowing everything, after all."
"Not about Elizabethís sex life!"
"Fine, fine, next time I learn anything about anyone, Iíll be sure to tell you."
"Good boy," Rodney replied, patting John on the head.
"Woof." John gave Rodney a dirty look.
Rodney snickered at that. "Later on, Iíll give you a bone to play with."
"Youíre going to make me wait? We are alone here, you know."
"Hard floor, hard benches," Rodney snorted. "Iíd much prefer our bed to that."
"So why arenít we walking?"
"No idea. We really should be."
"And weíre walking..." John caught Rodneyís hand in his as he started for the door.
"Gentlemen." Carson stood outside the door, his arms folded over his chest.
"Carson! Do you like Radekís cart?"
"Oh yes, though she doesnae seem to like me much at the moment."
"So shouldnít you be back there, getting her used to you?" John suggested almost plaintively.
"Radek is trying to calm her down, and we both decided that it would be best if he did that before she met me again." Carson scowled at the other two. "So Iíll jest keep ye company until he lets me know sheís better."
"Carson!" Rodney whined. "Come on!"
John shook his head. "Seriously, Carson, the only thing thatíll help is to spend time with them so she has no choice but to get used to you. I speak from experience!" He cast a wry glance down at Rover.
"Aye, Iíll do that." Carson remained planted firmly in the doorway. "But first I want to see this video Radek was going on about."
"The vidóOh!" John snickered. "Are you sure? You might be afraid to go to sleep in the same room with him after you see it."
"Actually, I find it comforting." Carson smiled smugly and waved his hands to usher them back into the lab.
"Iím not sure what disturbs me more," Rodney muttered, "Radekís reaction or that statement."
"Weíll see if he still says the same after watching Red-rum-Radek," John murmured to him.
"I heard that," Carson informed them as Rodney burst into laughter, leaning against Johnís side to support himself.
"We saw it! It was damn scary. Give me an army of pissed off Czechs, and Iíll clear the galaxy of Wraith inside a week!"
Rodney snickered. "It was funnyóaside from the whole threatening me with bodily harm part."
John shook his head. "Crazy," he judged. "But youíre still cute, so Iíll keep you. Now cue up your video so Carson can see.
"It really was funny," he added to Carson, grinning. "And very, very pink."
"She was a masterpiece," Rodney bragged as he set his laptop on the bench, cued up the video, and turned the screen toward Carson, who was soon leaning against the tabletop, laughing heartily.
"You do realize heís going to be plotting revenge, donít you?" John asked around his own chuckles. It was just as funny on the second viewing.
"Iíd be disappointed if he wasnít!"
"Och, my poor Radek," Carson laughed, wiping the tears from his eyes. "Iíd be verra careful if I were ye, Rodney."
"Wear your flak jacket," John suggested.
"You promised to protect me!" As Rodney spoke, Rover settled in front of him protectively, clearly ready to take on all comers.
"Iíd be on my toes if I were ye, Rodney," Carson laughed, straightening up and starting for the door. "Yeíll need ta be!"
"Of course Iíll protect you. But I canít be with you twenty-four/seven. Fortunately Rover can. You know heís going to be diabolical about this." John started for the door again now that Carson was gone.
"Of course he will," Rodney looked affronted at the idea any member of his staff wouldnít be. "And Iím going to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary as well!"
"Rodney, this is Atlantis. What isnít out of the ordinary?"
"Good point, but Iíll look for even more out of the ordinary than normal. Now can we get out of here before someone else finds us?"
"That would be why Iím pulling you toward the door." John glanced at him. "You know, we have a balcony..."
"And if you think Iím leaning over that railing, youíre crazy!"
John pouted. "Well then, how about if I lean against it and you fuck me?"
"No way! Iím not having both of us go into the water when it breaks!"
John gave him the puppy dog eyes. "Please?"
Rodney glowered. "You said you were going to fuck me; in fact, you promised."
"Good point. So weíll do the balcony another time because I really do want to do that, Rodney. Itíll be like flying, only with you."
"Okay, I promise, some other time." Rodney managed a sickly smile, but he told himself heíd do this, for John.
"Youíll love it," John promised with that wide, happy grin of his. "But tonight, we have that nice, big bed and the desk and the shower..."
Rodney shivered and grabbed John, pulling him in for a hot, frantic kiss. "And Rover to guard the door."
"I really like your cart," John murmured into Rodneyís mouth before the sound of someone coming down the hall had him drawing back.
Seeing the two men, somewhat flushed but not touching, as she rounded the corner had Annalisa Lindstrom chuckling. "Itís just me, sir. As you were." She tossed off a salute as she passed them.
"Hey, Lindstrom," Rodney called after her, "I need to talk to youótomorrow!" The last was added after John goosed him.
"Going for the blonds again?" John growled in his ear, leaning in to nibble on it.
"Oh, please," Rodney grumbled, reclining back against Johnís chest. "I want to see if she wants a cart."
"Ah." John glanced over his shoulder, but sheíd already disappeared around a corner. "Weíll find her in the morning." He started Rodney moving again. "We have plans for tonight that donít include anyone else."
"Theyíd damn well better not!" Rodney sputtered before catching Johnís hand and dragging him into the transporter.
"I guarantee it. Youíre all mine, Dr. McKay." John waggled his eyebrows at Rodney and leered comically.
"Ooo, give it to me, baby." Rodneyís fake falsetto was interrupted by his laughter.
Snickering, John pulled him close and dipped him. "Nothing can save you now!" he intoned melodramatically, only to start laughing hysterically and almost drop Rodney before grabbing him close when the transporter doors opened and they found themselves staring at an appalled Kavanagh.
"Is there a problem, Dr. Kavanagh?" Rodney asked snidely as he straightened up and Rover bulled past the other man, forcing him to step out of the way.
"If there is, Iím sure Dr. Heightmeyer would be delighted to see you again," John added, knowing that the psychologist had threatened to throw him off the highest balcony in the city if he kept wasting her time with whining when she had real patients to see.
"Thereís no problem," Kavanagh snarled, stepping out of the way so they could pass.
"Good answer," Rodney called, looking back over his shoulder to find the other scientist scowling at them.
"Itís a good thing Rover isnít a dog," John snickered. "Iíll bet heíd pee on his foot."
"You know, he does have circulating fluids," Rodney mused.
John burst into laughter. "Donít encourage him. Kavanaghís not worth the waste of his fluids."
Rodney shuddered. "Heís not worth the waste of anyoneís fluids."
"I agree. So letís forget him and get to our room so we can concentrate on a much better use of our fluids."
"Iíve got definite ideas in mind," Rodney laughed as they headed for their room. Once the door was shut behind them and Rover was settled in his corner, Rodney grabbed John, tangling his hands in the unruly hair and pulling him down for a kiss. "Mmmm, much better."
"God yes," John groaned into the kiss, his hands already busy divesting them both of their clothes. "And knowing that we get to fall asleep together afterward and do it all again when we wake up is better still."
"Iím all for that." Rodney ran his hands up Johnís bare chest as he kicked off his shoes so it would be easier to get his pants off.
"What a shock," John chuckled. "Youíre just as big a slut as I am."
"Youíve worn off on me," Rodney snorted
"Good, that means no one else could keep up with you, so I never have to worry about you dumping me for some brainy blond." John grinned before letting go of Rodney to bend down and remove his boots.
"When are you going to get it through your head that Iím not going to dump you for anyone?"
John straightened up and rested his hands on Rodneyís hips. "I do know it, Rodney. If I didnít, I sure as hell wouldnít be joking about it. Just think of it as the same way you keep calling me a slut," he said wryly.
"But you are a slut," Rodney chuckled, working at the fastenings of Johnís pants and showing them over his hips.
"Only for you, you sex fiend." John grinned down at him, his hazel eyes intent on Rodneyís hands undressing him.
"So why donít you let me see how much of a slut you are," Rodney offered once they were both naked.
About to push Rodney to the bed, John paused curiously. "Did you have something in particular in mind?"
"Nope," Rodney smiled, his eyes already heavy-lidded with need. "Just you in me."
"I can do that." John tumbled him onto the bed and paused just long enough to grab the lube from the bedside table before crawling on top of him and taking his mouth hungrily.
Rodney shuddered and wrapped his arms and legs around Johnís lean length. "God, yes."
"Call me John." John quirked a grin. "I know you donít believe in God, and I assure you that Iím very real." He stole a kiss to prevent the retort he knew was coming, then slid back to nibble on a pebbled pink nipple.
"Ass," Rodney grumbled before moaning when John teased him.
"Thatís where Iíll be," John murmured agreeably. He slid a hand down Rodneyís body to cup his groin, not petting or squeezing, just letting Rodney feel the heat of his palm.
Rodney bucked upward, wanting to feel Johnís palm sliding over him and was rewarded by the pressure of callused fingers against his cock.
"So Iím the slut, huh?" Johnís words were muffled and his smile hidden against Rodneyís belly as he worked his way downward, his fingers shifting ever so slightly against the growing flesh they covered.
"Like I said, you wore off on me," Rodney grumbled, shifting restlessly beneath the light touches.
"Arenít you lucky?" John darted a laughing glance up at Rodney at the same instant as he moved a little more and his tongue swiped over the head of Rodneyís cock.
A whimper and a tightening of Rodneyís legs around his torso was the only answer he got. John smiled and licked again before slowly and carefully nibbling down the length of Rodneyís shaft. He paused at the base, inhaling deeply, loving the scent of Rodneyís arousal, and then gently nuzzled his balls.
"John," Rodney whined, squirming futilely on the bed, his fingers carding restlessly through Johnís hair. "Please."
"Soon," John breathed. He slid a little lower, his shoulders forcing Rodneyís thighs farther apart, and he licked at the small hole. Rodney whimpered and arched his back, opening himself further to Johnís explorations. "Oh yeah," John murmured against him, feeling Rodney tremble in his grasp and loving the fact that he was the cause of it. He licked again, then began slowly pushing his tongue against the tight muscle, again and again until it finally pressed inside.
Rodney whimpered, gasping for breath as John teased him. He gave up trying to touch the other man and clawed at the sheets, riding out the pleasure and only wishing he could return the favor.
Sensing Rodneyís growing urgency, John pressed the lube into his hand and twisted around so that Rodney could reach his cock, and the entire time, he never stopped fucking Rodney with his tongue.
Groaning, Rodney fumbled with the lube until he was able to squeeze some out onto his hand and smooth the gel onto Johnís erection. "Want more of you in me," he rasped, jacking Johnís cock as he spoke. "All of you, deep in me, fucking me..."
"Oh fuck yeah." John grabbed the lube from Rodneyís hand and hurriedly squirted some onto his own fingers as he flipped around to kneel between the scientistís spread legs. He slipped a finger into Rodney easily, and then two, and then he was bracing himself as he pushed into him.
"Oh yeah," Rodney groaned, clenching down on Johnís cock and reaching up to pull him in to kiss him.
John gasped his agreement, still pushing forward until he couldnít go any deeper, and then stilling to enjoy the sensation of being completely sheathed in Rodneyís tight heat. "God, you feel good."
"Mmm, donít move, like it this way."
John nodded jerkily. "Yeah, perfect. But Iím going to have to move eventually," he gritted out, torn between the desire to stay right where he was and to move, to take Rodney.
Rodney looked up at him through slitted eyes and nodded. "I know, and thatíll be good too."
"Itís all good," John rasped, drawing back slowly, so slowly that he was barely moving, and keeping his eyes focused on Rodneyís.
"When itís with you, yeah." Rodney smiled before gasping when John shifted within him, dragging his cock along his prostate.
"Likewise." John began to rock back into him, gritting his teeth to maintain his slow pace when every nerve ending was screaming at him to fuck Rodney hard. Rodney closed his eyes, letting his hands stroke over Johnís shoulders as he reveled in the sensations, his other senses made sharper by the lack of visual input. Watching him, John shuddered and picked up his pace slightly. Rodneyís face was so damn expressive at the worst of times, and now, it was enough to make John come all on its own. Every spasm of pleasure, every jolt of sensation was reflected in the panting mouth, the tight muscles.
"John," Rodney moaned, shifting a hand between them to stroke himself, unsure that he could withstand the intense sensations much longer.
"Love you," John whispered suddenly. His slow, teasing strokes became forceful, pounding thrusts as the buildup ended and he sought their climaxes. Rodney could only nod, his eyes snapping open so that he could focus on Johnís face, needing the contact as he shuddered, then came apart, pulsing his climax over his hand and their stomachs. Feeling Rodney convulse around him, gripping his cock so tightly, was all John needed, and it was only a few more strokes before he was coming as well, his hands tightening on Rodneyís shoulders hard enough to bruise.
Finally shifting enough that his legs settled around Johnís thighs and his arms were wrapped around his waist, Rodney sighed. "I love the way you keep your promises."
"I aim to please." John nuzzled Rodneyís throat, smiling contentedly.
"And, as usually, your aim is pretty damn good."
"So I get high marks, huh?" John chuckled.
"Just like the ones you left on me."
"Hmm?" John raised his head to peer at Rodney and frowned slightly when he noticed the clear finger marks on his shoulders that were definitely going to bruise. "Sorry about that."
"Does it look like I mind?" Rodney murmured, stretching languorously under John. "Because if I did, youíd know about it."
"Good point." John shifted a little and made a soft sound of protest when he slipped out of Rodney. To make up for it, he pressed closer, sprawling half on top of Rodney, an arm and leg flung possessively over him.
"Mmm, exactly." Rodney sighed and nuzzled Johnís neck, enjoying the closeness. "So youíre going to protect me from Radek, right?"
"Hell yeah. Where would I get a new pillow if he killed you?"
Rodney growled as he thought off the lights. "Shut up and go to sleep, John."
Snickering, John kissed his shoulder in apology. "Good night, Rodney."
There was a noise in the corner, and Rodney chuckled. "Good night to you too, Rover."
Over breakfast the next morning, brought to them by Rover, John eyed Rodney as he enjoyed his cup of coffee. "So do you have anything scheduled this morning or do you have time to come with me to track down Lindstrom and get her a cart?"
"Thatís a great idea," Rodney said brightly as he was on edge, waiting for Radekís promised retribution.
"You just want as many military around you as possible."
"Are you willing to risk me without them?"
"Youíre the one who incited his wrath. But Iím sure he doesnít plan to actually kill you. Especially since he knows Iíd never let that happen, nor would Rover."
"Yes, yes, but it does wonders for my sense of self-preservation to be surrounded by people I know will take a bullet for me."
An eyebrow rose. "Iím Air Force, not Secret Service."
"Are you saying you wouldnít take a bullet for me? Iíd take one for you."
"Iím saying Iíd rather neither of us took a bullet. Fortunatelyóor maybe unfortunatelyóI doubt Zelenka will resort to anything as tame as bullets."
"True," Rodney sighed, "Iím thinking self-activating dye bombs set to color us lurid shades of purple or chemical inhalants that shut our tastebuds down for a month or, even worse, act like a longer-lasting form of saltpeter."
John shuddered. "He does that and I will kill him!"
"Which is why I doubt heíll do anything to affect our sex life; anything else is fair game though." Rodney grinned, anticipating the games that would ensue. "So, while you were sleeping, I sent Elizabeth my list of recommendations for cart distributions, and I copied you and Carson on it. Itís basically the personnel weíve all discussed before with a half dozen kept in reserve."
John eyed him askance. "Do you ever sleep?"
"Of course I do; I just donít feel the need to do it past a certain time in the morning." Rodney finished his coffee and stood up to stretch. "And if youíre awake enough to move, why donít you call Lindstrom and tell her to meet us in the main lab."
"Have I mentioned lately that youíre pushy?" After admiring the sight, John finished his coffee and called Lindstrom, arranging to meet her in half an hour.
"You love me that way," Rodney said smugly.
"Which means Iím nuts. But so are you, so it works out for us." John shrugged as he stood up. "But Iíd better shower now if weíre going to meet Lindstrom."
Rodney chuckled and patted John on the ass. "Go on and get cleaned up; Iíll get Rover to bring one of the uninitialized carts down to the lab."
"Iíll meet you there as soon as Iím ready. Try not to scare Lindstrom away if she gets there before I do. Wait, on second thought, wait for me. I donít trust Radek at the moment."
"If I wait for you, there wonít be time to get the cart and get it back to the lab," Rodney explained patiently. "You take forever in the shower!"
"I do not! And you can send Rover; you donít need to go."
"Go and take a shower, John. Rover will protect me if he needs to."
"Fine, but donít blame me if he dumps a bucket of pig blood on your head!"
Rodney snorted. "Youíre mixing metaphors, John. Radekís doing ĎThe Shiningí, not ĎCarrieí."
"Hey, theyíre both Stephen King. Though knowing Radek, itíd probably be something from ĎFirestarterí."
"Go take a shower, John," Rodney sighed. "Iíll be in the main lab, hopefully unbloodied and unburnt." Giving the other man a kiss, he followed Rover out the door.
John took the fastest shower on record before heading after Rodney, his dark hair even messier than usual as he made his way to the lab at a fast dogtrot, barely acknowledging the cheerful greetings from the original expedition members and the salutes from the recent military additions. Rounding the final corner, he spotted Lindstrom and called out to her.
Lisa smiled at her CO quizzically. "In a hurry, sir? I would have waited, you know."
John smiled wryly. "Yeah, but Rodney pissed off Radek last night and then insisted on coming to the lab before I could come with him this morning."
The tall blondeís eyes widened. "Heís braver than I gave him credit for. Good thing he has Rover."
"Tell me about it." John opened the door to the lab and looked askance at the sight of a clearly nervy Rodney standing next to Rover and another cart, while Radek sat nearby, giving Rodney a shark-like smile.
"Lt. Lindstrom, good to see you!" Rodney said brightly, moving away from the maniacally smiling Czech and his cart that was prowling around behind the tables, kept away from him by Roverís vigilance. "Want to meet your cart?"
"My..." Lisa blinked in surprise. "Sir?" she appealed to Sheppard.
"We wonít force you if you donít want to, but you do have the gene, and youíre a gate team leader," John shrugged.
"They are good company," Radek added encouragingly. Heíd gotten to know the lieutenant, then sergeant, somewhat while she had been dating Grodin, and he knew how much she missed him.
"Um, okay," she said, eyeing the cart warily. "So what do I do?"
"Thatís easy." Rodney picked up a candy bar from the bench and held it up. "Think about how much you want the chocolate."
She looked at him as if he was crazy but concentrated on the chocolate bar. After a moment, the cart seemed to shudder, then suddenly snatched the candy from Rodneyís hand and brought it to her. Her eyes widened, but Lisa reached down to take the chocolate and patted the cart as sheíd often seen Dr. McKay do with Rover. "Thank you."
The cart gave an awkward shimmy and pressed up against her hand, making the other people in the room laugh.
"Now you have to think of a name for it, Lieutenant," Rodney called.
"Um..." Lisa stared down at the cart that seemed to be staring back, waiting expectantly. Suddenly a wry smile curved her lips. "Loki."
"Why am I suddenly frightened?" Rodney muttered. "First Radek and his psychosis, now the Norse god of mischief..."
"Psychosis?" Radek repeated, eying Rodney in a way that had Rover scooting between them.
Lisa snickered. "Iíll paint a flame on him; that was one of Lokiís symbols, or at least something he was associated with." Sheíd noticed the scythe on Radekís cart and thought that some way to identify them at a glance was a good idea.
"Yes, psychosis!" Rodney exclaimed even as he nodded at Lindstromís choice of a symbol for her cart. "Who else would name a Barbie cart after Death!"
"Reza is not a Barbie!"
"Definitely Jack Nicholson," John muttered.
Eyes wide, Lindstrom started backing toward the door.
Rodney snickered as Loki scooted after her, waving a wary arm in the direction of the others. "Send Stackhouse to see me if you see him!" Glancing at the others, he shrugged. "What? The man is going to starve if he doesnít have a cart to get him food! And while weíre waiting, we need to discuss how to paint Carsonís cart."
"Check your laptop," John advised with a grin. "Thatís where I downloaded the Carson tartan when we were on Earth. Iíd say that plus a caduceus would be just about right."
Radek started laughing. "Yes, is very fitting."
Rodney grinned. "So, want to get another one in here and fix it up?"
"Itís only fair," Radek chuckled.
"Can I trust you two to behave if I go get the paint?" John asked, getting a beatific smile from Radek that made him groan. "Behave!" he growled before kissing Rodney hard and heading for the door.
"Talk to him!" Rodney exclaimed, making sure that Rover was between himself, Radek and his cart, and darting glances toward the door that shut behind Johnís back.
Radek just smiled at him before coming over to see the file with the tartan pattern. He had decided that it would be far better revenge to do nothing and let Rodneyís imagination run wild. McKay would come up with far worse than Radek ever could.
"It was a joke, Radek. You know that." Rodney finally said when the Czech remained quiet.
"Of course it was. I know that, Rodney."
"Why donít I believe you?"
"I canít imagine."
"Stop terrorizing Rodney, Radek," John advised as he returned, carrying cans of white, grey, red, yellow, and black paint. "Did you find the right tartan? Look under MacPherson. Carsonís affiliated with that clan."
"Yes, Colonel, we found it."
"So whereís the cart?"
Rover rolled to the back of the lab and dragged an inactive cart out with him.
"Right there," Rodney grinned, stroking his cart. "And that paint is water soluble, right?"
"Yeah. It would be fun if it wasnít, but I really have no desire for Carson to declare a feud against me or something. Scottish and a doctor?" John shuddered theatrically.
"Youíd be dreading your next prostate exam," Rodney commented, unable to stop a sympathetic shiver.
"Which would be why these are water soluble. Except the black," John warned. "Thatís for the caduceus."
Radek nodded. "We should do that first."
"Go for it, Radek," Rodney offered, starting to open the cans of paint. "I was tapped out at Barbie."
Chuckling, Radek selected one of the smaller art brushes and took the can of black paint as he settled himself cross-legged beside the cart. He glanced over at the picture of a caduceus that they had printed out and began painting, with frequent checks against the image.
"Not bad," John said, impressed. "You have hidden talents, Radek."
He chuckled. "Many."
"Which explains the smile frequently seen on Carsonís face," Rodney chuckled. "Not that Iím thinking about that!"
"Me neither!" John shook his head vigorously.
"Wimps," Radek laughed.
"Oh really?" Rodney asked, grabbing John and pulling him in for a deep, languorous kiss.
"Mmmm." John moaned happily into the kiss while Radek groaned.
"All right, enough!" He waved a hand at them. "I have no desire to watch you go at it like rabbits!"
Rodney pulled back, sighing happily before giving John another kiss. "Now look at whoís the wimp."
Radek made a face. "I have never been a voyeur."
John snickered. "Iím sure Carsonís glad of it."
Rodney sat the laptop on top of the inactive cart and grabbed a paint brush. "Why do I think Carson would faint if you even suggested it?"
"Because he seems like a pretty vanilla sort of guy?" John suggested.
Radek ducked his head so they couldnít see his grin. If they only knew!
"You know," Rodney commented, dipping the brush into the white paint and starting the background for the pattern, "I really donít want to think of Carson and Radek doing anything together, thank you."
Before John could say anything, Radek smirked and said, "You mean you donít want to know how bigó"
"No!" John exclaimed, drowning him out.
"Paint, Radek!" Rodney almost shrieked.
"I can paint and talk at the same time."
"No, you canít!" John glared. "Or weíll tell you all about our sex life!"
"Is anything worth hearing?"
"Of course it is!" Rodney sputtered.
John groaned. "Why do I bother?"
"Slow learner," Radek retorted.
Rodney glowered at him. "You must be speaking about yourself."
"Okay, I think we all need to concentrate on painting now," John said, trying to avert bloodshed.
Radek nodded. "Yes, we do not want too much red in the tartan."
"How about I let the two of you paint and I go get Carson."
"Sounds like a plan. Give us about half an hour to finish up though. Tartanís a bit trickier than solid pink."
Radek growled at the reminder.
Rodney set down his brush and patted Rover before getting up and kissing the top of Johnís head. "Have fun, you two, and donít hurt each other."
Both men rolled their eyes. "Go before I sic Reza on you," Radek advised while John looked torn between laughter and protective concern.
Rover rolled forward, waving its arms aggressively while Rodney slipped out behind it, snickering.
"Rodney, I dinna see why ye have tae have me come with ye right now," Carson sighed as he followed the other man toward his lab. "I do have my own work tae do, ye know."
"Yes, yes, but itís not as important as mine," Rodney said, waving his hand brusquely.
Carsonís grumbles were a strange combination of Gaelic and Czech, and he glowered at Rodney and his cart as Rover was nudging him along.
Radek and John both looked up eagerly when the door opened, and they stepped aside so that the first thing Carson would see would be the cart in all its plaid glory.
"What the... Oh my Lord." Carson stopped dead in the doorway, then tried to back up, only to run into Rodney and Rover.
John grinned. "What, you donít like it, Doc?"
Radek was also grinning like a loon as he moved to Carsonís side and slid an arm around his shoulders. "Itís only proper that our chief medical officer have one."
Carson groaned and rubbed his forehead with his free hand. "Iíve a mind to send all of ye to see Kate," he sighed. "And just who was it who found the MacPherson family tartan?"
Rodney snickered. "That was John!"
"Youíre the one who told me that Carson was your motherís maiden name." John shrugged. "I had time on my hands back on Earth and internet access."
"Clearly a dangerous combination," Radek murmured.
"Aye," Carson rumbled, glaring at them all and not moving from the doorway.
"Oh, come on, Carson," Rodney laughed, giving him a nudge. "Look at all the work Radek and John put into it!"
"You helped!" John and Radek chorused before looking at each other and laughing. "Well, you did," John insisted.
"Och, the three of you," Carson sighed, wishing he had a bucket of water to dump on them all. As if reading his mind, the tartan-decorated cart shivered before rolling forward, zipping toward the back of the lab.
"Carson?" Rodney asked. "What did you just ask for?"
"Nothing at all," Carson smiled.
John regarded him warily and grabbed Rodneyís arm, pulling him behind Rover. At the same time, Reza moved in front of Radek, making him look from her to Carson. "You wouldnít attack the man who shares your bed, would you?"
There was the sound of running water, and Carsonís cart trundled into view, a bucket of water balanced on its tray. Seeing it, Carson shook his head, glowering at the other three men. "Come here, luv, let me get a look at ye, and then Iíll clean ye off."
"Itís water soluble," Radek offered, while John and Rodney nodded.
"This from the man who sat up half the night plotting revenge?"
Rodney chuckled nervously. "Well, forgiveness is a virtue, right?"
"And your own tartan isnít anything like bubblegum pink and Barbie!" Radek retorted indignantly.
Shaking his head, Carson squatted down in front of the cart and stroked its sensor array, shifting to the side when Rover nosed forward to nudge it as well. "Thereís a girl, luv, weíll have ye cleaned off soon," he murmured.
"I think Rover likes the girls best," John observed to Rodney. "He wasnít nearly as interested in Loki as heís been in Reza and... Whatís her name, Carson?"
"Iím not sure yet." Carson took the bucket of water from her tray and set it on the ground, smiling briefly as Rover retrieved a rag from a nearby counter. "Thank ye, Rover."
"That may be because weíre closer to Carson and Radek than to Lindstrom," Rodney mused, watching the interactions. "Or maybe he just likes them more. Hey, Radek, what does it say about you and Carson that you both have female carts?"
Radekís reply was short, pithy, and in Czech. Elizabeth, whoíd just entered the lab, nearly choked on her laughter and shook her head firmly when John demanded to know what Radek had said. "A lady would never repeat such a thing," she chuckled.
"I understood a bit of it, and I agree totally," Carson sighed from where he was seated on the floor, dabbing at the paint on his cartís side.
"Now I know it couldnít be good," John grumbled. He grabbed another rag, then hesitated. "Wouldnít it be easier to stick her in the shower enclosure?" he asked, nodding toward a featureless wall that concealed a shower he imagined the Ancient scientists had used to prevent carrying any part of their experiments out of the lab with them.
Radek turned to stare at him. "What shower?"
"Yes, John," Rodney growled, "what shower?"
Looking bewildered, John gestured toward it and had the concealing panel slip aside. "That one?" he said tentatively.
Rodney sighed. "John, we really have to talk about mentioning things you think I know, but I really donít!"
There was only one safe answer to that. "Sorry."
Ignoring the others, Carson got to his feet, keeping a hand on his now smeared cart. "All right, come on, Ciora, letís get ye cleaned off while the lovebirds squabble."
"Weíre not squabbling," John grumbled.
"Yes, you were," Elizabeth said with a smile.
Radek nodded. "Definitely squabbling."
"What did you call that cart?" Rodney called, trying to deflect attention from John and himself.
"Ciora." Carsonís answer was muffled by the partition door. "It means ĎPetí."
"Thatís very sweet, Carson," Elizabeth said.
"We werenít squabbling," John insisted under his breath, scowling.
"Bickering, maybe, but not squabbling," Rodney added.
"Oh, very helpful, Rodney." John transferred his glare to his lover.
"Och now, thatís better." They could hear Carson murmuring from the shower area. "Now then, who decorated ye like that?"
"Thatís a very good question." Elizabeth said.
John suddenly found the ceiling absolutely fascinating.
Rodney coughed. "Well, Elizabeth, you keep saying we should have more artistic pursuits..."
"I would prefer that they not include inciting a riot."
The partition slid aside and a damp-looking Carson came out, followed by a decidedly less plaid cart that rolled over between John and Rodney and shivered itself dry.
John looked down at his soggy clothing and sighed. "Yes, sheís definitely Carsonís. Subtle revenge."
"I do love you," Radek said gleefully.
"At least I wonít be waiting for it for weeks," Rodney sighed.
Elizabeth shook her head. "Iím even gladder that I havenít tried the second round of gene therapy."
"Donít you trust us?" Seeing her expression, John laughed. "Hey, Lindstrom liked her cart."
"Oh, so you gave her one already? Good, perhaps itíll help. I know Kateís been concerned about her. Not that sheís said anything," Elizabeth added hastily in case anyone should think Dr. Heightmeyer had breeched doctor-patient privilege, "but I could see it in the way sheís been watching her."
John nodded. "Yeah, sheís had a tough time of it since Grodinís death. But I think sheíll be okay. And Loki will help with that."
"Loki?" Elizabeth laughed.
"Apparently, hers is male," Rodney offered. "Unlike Radek and Carsonís. Iíve made up a list of about fifteen people who could benefit by imprinting them; it should have been in your morningís mail."
Elizabeth nodded. "Yes, I just didnít realize youíd already begun pairing them off. I told you that I would leave it up to you. So long as John approves the military assignments," she added warningly.
"You have no problem with Stackhouse, right?" Rodney asked.
John shook his head. "No, thatís fine. The guy could use a friend after what happened to Markham. They were pretty close, and having a cart will distract him."
"And hopefully help the poor boy get some food," Carson commented from where he was drying off Ciora. "Iíve been contemplating putting him on nutritional supplements."
"Yeah, I donít know what his problem is." John shook his head. "Heís turned into a klutz, always dropping his meals, and then he runs away without replacing them. Iíve been thinking of having him talk to Heightmeyer."
"I told you, he needs to get laid," Rodney commented before remembering Elizabeth was there and turning a bright red. "Laid out, as in sleep more."
"Of course, Rodney." Elizabeth looked amused. "Please tell me you two arenít matchmaking?"
"When would we have the time?" John asked.
Radek snorted. "Thatís certainly true. They spend their free time in storage closets!"
"We do not go into closets!" Rodney exclaimed.
"Fine then, empty hallways," Carson murmured from where he was examining the caduceus painted on Cioraís side.
Distinctly remembering both hallways and closets, John chose to remain silent.
Radek moved to Carsonís side. "Do you like it?"
"Aye." Carson looked up at him and smiled tenderly. "Sheís lovely."
"I actually meant the caduceus, but Iím glad." Radek returned the smile. "I only hope there is room for all of us in our quarters."
"Oh, itís lovely too, and there should be; they seem to be able to tuck themselves into small spaces." Carson patted his cart again and stood to hug Radek.
Ciora rolled forward, nudging them both before backing up to study Radek, storing his image before moving to the others and doing the same.
"Iím very pleased to meet you, Ciora," Elizabeth said, smiling down at the cart before it moved on to John and Rodney.
Rover immediately nudged in front of them, keeping Ciora at a distance from the ones that belonged to him.
"Relax, Rover," Rodney laughed. "She isnít going to try to take us away from you." His tone was one of pride, however, as he saw how his cart moved to protect John as well as himself.
"Suddenly I feel owned," John said with amusement, leaning down to pat Rover. "As if weíd want a girl when we have you."
Elizabeth smothered a laugh.
"That just sounds so wrong," Rodney murmured.
"I thought it sounded just about right. Or would you prefer that I liked girls?"
"Now then, after ĎThe Incidentí, ye donít believe any of us think ye donít like women as well as men, do ye, Colonel?" Carson chuckled, though he tensed slightly as Ciora approached Reza.
"No mentioning that time!"
John snorted. "I think weíre all well aware that Iím bi. But I meant now." Like the others, he watched the two carts, hoping that they would get along or things could get very awkward.
Reza pivoted to face Ciora directly, her sensors flashing as the other cart neared.
"I hope Iím not going to have to negotiate a truce between them," Elizabeth commented, purposefully ignoring the other remarks.
Ciora rolled forward, then stopped next to the other cart. Extruding an arm, she gently patted Rezaís sensor array, then angled herself alongside her companion, apparently content with the situation.
Reza made a soft humming noise and leaned against Ciora.
"Ah, they like each other." Radek breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness, I dinna want to know what we would have had to do if they didnít."
"Well, they pick up your thoughts and emotions, so I didnít think that would be a problem." Rodney leaned against Johnís side and stroked Roverís sensor array as he spoke.
"Then what would be the reason for Rover being jealous of the colonel rather than following him around panting?" Radek asked with spurious innocence.
Rodney actually growled, and Rover darted toward Radek, one pincer extended menacingly. "Roverís smart enough to form his own opinions."
Reza whirled around, and foreseeing disaster, Radek exclaimed, "Ne, ne!" He hastily moved between Reza and Rover and crouched down to pet her. "Do not worry, little one; it was only a joke, and I knew he would react that way. No need to get upset."
Elizabeth watched the chaos of scientists and carts in the midst of the lab and sighed. "So, John, are you going to imprint one as well?" she asked.
John stared at her in surprise for a moment. He was so used to thinking of Rover as belonging to both him and Rodney that he hadnít even considered it. "Huh. I suppose I should," he said slowly.
"Give me time to decorate it first!" Rodney called. Heíd gone over to make sure Rover was all right, and was now watching Carson and Radekís carts moving in tandem around the lab.
"I think youíve done enough cart-decorating for one day," John retorted. "Letís just do this."
"Well, we have to go get another one," Rodney grumbled.
"I believe Iím going to take Ciora to the infirmary and show her around," Carson announced.
"And I have reports to review," Elizabeth sighed.
"And I need to get back to work on the jumpers, so the two of you are on your own," Radek finished as they all began to leave aside from John and Rodney. "Iím sure you can manage."
"Itís a burden, but I try," Rodney chuckled.
"Very funny." John shook his head. "So letís go get one and do this."
"Donít sound so enthusiastic about it," Rodney laughed as they started walking toward the door, only to have Rover block their way.
John looked down at the cart in surprise. "Whatís up, Rover? Did Radek rig some kind of booby trap?"
"Címon, Rover," Rodney sighed, trying to peer around the cart and into the hall. "Thereís nothing there; donít be paranoid." In answer, the cart squealed its rear wheels but refused to move.
John exchanged baffled looks with Rodney. "Look, Rover," John tried, "we need to get out of this room. Whatever your problem is, itís just going to have to wait if you canít find a clearer way to tell us whatís bothering you."
Clearly agitated, Rover levitated, hovering in front of them at eye level.
"I donít think he wants us to go out of the lab."
"Yes, I can see that, thank you, Rodney." John patted Rover, trying to calm while still trying to understand the problem. "We donít understand whatís wrong, boy."
"I feel like I should ask him if Timmy fell down a well," Rodney muttered, leaning in to stroke Roverís housing as well. "Címon, Rover, we just want to go get John a cart, thereís no harm in..." His voice trailed away when Rover bobbed up and down before dropping to the floor with a loud crash. "I think he has a problem with you getting a cart."
"Um, I think youíre right." John stared at Rover, then crouched down so he was at eye-level with the cart. "Is that it? You donít want me to get another cart?"
Rover bobbed up and down slightly, clearly nodding.
John looked up at Rodney, trying not to laugh. "I guess weíre both claimed. So it looks like you have one more cart to distribute."
"Or to hold in reserve." Rodney was smiling broadly as he knelt down beside the other two, one arm around Johnís shoulders and the other on Rover. "So I guess weíre just one big, happy, nuclear family."
Rover squirmed, wiggling closer between them.
John chuckled. "So should I start calling you June?"
"Fuck you, John."
"Any time, anywhere." John grinned at Rodneyís growl. "What, you donít want me anymore? Iíve lost my appeal?"
"Go. Go do something military or beat on Dex with sticks. Playtimeís over; I need to work."
Laughing, John stole a kiss and stepped around Rover, who let him past this time.
When John and Rodney arrived in the briefing room the next morning to go over their mission with the rest of their team, Elizabeth looked at them in surprise. "I thought you were going to get a cart, John?"
He smiled wryly. "Rover had other ideas."
"Apparently, we both belong to him," Rodney put in around a mouthful of muffin.
"I am sure that Rover will take care of both of you," Teyla offered.
Ronon rolled his eyes. "Youíre all crazy when it comes to that cart. To all of the carts," he amended, remembering there were others now.
Rover very obviously turned his back on Ronon as if the Satedan wasnít worthy of his attention, making John and Rodney laugh and even Elizabeth and Teyla hide smiles.
"Fortunately, as far as the geek twins could tell, Roverís the only one of them that can go beyond imprinting on a single individual and lay claim to others at the same time," John said after down half a cup of coffee.
"Thatís because heís special," Rodney smirked, patting the cart as it wiggled closer to him. "And weíll see how you feel about him the first time he pulls your ass out of the fire," he added, giving Ronon a dismissive sniff that mirrored his cartís attitude.
Watching them, Elizabeth was reminded of the old adage that people and their pets grew to look alike, and she was forced to smother a giggle in her coffee.
Ronon just rolled his eyes and ignored the antics of both doctor and cart.
"So, what lovely planet are we off to today?" Rodney asked. "Let me guess, one where the locals will look harmless but then try to kill us in new and inventive ways."
"How did you know?" John grinned at the look Rodney gave him. "Actually, itís a planet that Teyla knows which many cultures using as a trading center. Sort of a bazaar, I guess you could call it."
"So weíre going to the mall. Lovely."
"Maybe weíll find you some shiny, new toys."
"I really doubt they sell the kind youíll be looking for there!"
"I meant Ancient technology!" John glared, trying to ignore the snickers from everyone except Ronon, who just looked like heíd smelled something bad. "You know thereís always a chance of finding things that people consider useless junk because they canít activate them."
"There you go, turning on the world again."
"Gentlemen," Elizabeth said, raising her voice to be heard over them. "If we could finish here?"
"You know I only want to turn you on," John whispered, grinning, before giving Elizabeth his attention. "I know, I know. Trade for food, needed supplies, any tech; donít offer nuclear weapons or Rodney."
"Shouldnít not offering me come before not offering nuclear weapons?"
John shrugged. "Doesnít matter where it comes since itís not happening. Weapons might become necessary under some circumstances."
"Using them or trading them?" Rononís tone said just what he thought of the second option."
"If such a transaction would be beneficial, trading them," Teyla said firmly.
Elizabeth wondered just when sheíd lost control. "Go," she sighed. "And try not to start a war."
"So just what are we looking for here anyway?" Rodney asked as he poked through the items displayed in a stall, glancing down from time to time to make sure that Rover was still next to him.
John shrugged. "Anything useful or that you think might be Ancient in origin. Or UA."
Ronon growled, not liking the vagueness of the reply.
"If you can eat it, shoot it, or it lights up around John, these are good things," Rodney explained snidely.
"Are you sure I canít hit him?" Ronon asked Teyla, glaring at the scientist.
Looking amused, the Athosian woman shook her head. "No, Dr. McKay is a valued member of our team. And Col. Sheppard would be impelled to shoot you if you did."
John nodded almost angrily. Although he normally took threats like that to Rodney in stride, knowing that his own people were just reacting to the scientistís abrasive nature and would never actually hurt him, he wasnít so sure about Ronon. "Rule number one: No hitting, shooting or in any way hurting McKay," he said, making it clear.
"You know," Rodney commented as they moved to another stall, "I like that rule; in fact, it could be my favorite rule of all time."
"Iím shocked." John gave him a wry glance. "But I thought your favorite rule was no alien priestesses."
"Thatís your rule and one youíd better damn well follow!"
"As if I have the slightest interest... or energy!"
Rodney grumbled, though he did have a smug look on his face.
"Hey, Teyla, how do the locals feel about two guys kissing in public?" John called.
At the next stall, Teyla turned to face them, her expression amused. "So long as all garments remain in place, no one will object."
"Oh no! Iím not making out with you in front of a lot of people we donít even know!" Rodney exclaimed.
"Maybe Sheppard wasnít talking about doing it with you," Ronon chuckled.
"Youíd make out with me in front of people we do know?" John asked with interest.
Rodney looked at him as if he were insane. "We do that all the time! Or we did before all the new people showed up."
"Oh, just kissing. I thought you were exploring new kinks for a moment there." John looked down when something that looked like a metallic spitwad suddenly flashed with lights as he got close to it. The owner of the stall stared down in surprise.
"I didnít know it could do that!" Seeing John reach for it, he hastily added, "The price just went up."
John looked at him. "No, it didnít, because you wonít find anyone else who can make it do that."
"What do you have to offer for it?"
"Nothing physical," Rodney snapped.
"I really donít think heís after my body," John sighed.
"Well," the merchant started, eyeing him lasciviously.
"No!" John growled, glaring at him. "Weíre willing to discuss a trade, but none of us will be part of it."
"Then what do you have to offer?"
"You well know what I can offer, Teirnan," Teyla said, suddenly joining them to gaze unblinkingly at the merchant, who flushed and looked away.
"These are not Athosians, Teyla. This is none of your concern."
"No, but they are my peopleís friends and allies, and I know your liking for Athosian leatherwork."
John smirked. "So... a belt for the gadget, plus anything else we want. Does that sound fair to you, Teyla?"
"Fine, fine, a belt for the trifle, though I have right of refusal on the other item you choose."
"I think we need right of refusal," Rodney muttered, picking through the other items scattered around the stall.
Frowning, John stared at the pile, trying to feel if there was anything else of Ancient make. He felt something, but it was... off. He moved to one side until he found himself staring at what looked like a small, framed mirror. "Rodney?"
"Put that down!" Rodney shouted, drawing the attention of the browsers around them.
Startled, John jumped back, the hand heíd been raising abruptly back at his side. "What?"
Teyla and the merchant both stared at Rodney, and Ronon came charging around the end of the stall, weapon drawn as he sought the threat.
"Mirrors imbued with Ancient technology are never good to play with," Rodney explained, grabbing a stylus out of his pocket and poking at the mirror, flipping it over and studying the back. The silence around him made him look up, and he blinked at the sight of Rononís gun and Teyla and Johnís tense posture. "Whatís everyone doing?"
"You yelled." John sounded aggrieved.
"Well, of course I yelled; that thing could be a quantum mirror, and I like you a little too much to have you switch places with what would probably be your evil, homophobic twin!"
"Huh?" John, Teyla, Ronon, and Teirnan all looked equally baffled.
Rodney sighed and rubbed his forehead before straightening up and switching to lecture mode. "The Ancients, for some unknown reason, created mirrors that connect to other, parallel, universes. There was an incident back at the SGC where one was activated, drawing the other versions of the people involved into our universe."
Hearing that, John reached out to grab Rodney and pull him away from the mirror. "You think this is one of those?" He eyed it warily. "It looks like any other mirror to me."
"I have no idea, but Iíd rather not take a chance with it. Let Rover have it and weíll examine it when we get back toóhome."
John nodded. "Definitely better safe than sorry. Iíve just got you trained; I donít want to have to start all over with a new McKay," he teased.
"And this one could be even more whiny," Ronon added before growling when Rover slammed back into his leg.
"Comedians, Iím surrounded by them," Rodney sighed.
"Arenít you lucky? Youíll never have to worry about being bored." John grinned before looking over at Teirnan. "Weíll take the mirror as well."
"Thatís very large for one belt," he started.
"Itís a very large belt."
Ronon stayed quiet but holstered his gun, his gaze on the vendor. Teirnan stared back and swallowed hard. "Take it," he finally growled.
"Itís been nice doing business with you," John said cheerfully, waiting until Rover had the two items stored before moving on to the next stall.
"Quantum mirrors running around on the loose," Rodney groaned. "What next?"
"Lions and tigers and bears?" John suggested.
"Just a comment and a more appropriate one than Ďoh myí considering where we are and what weíre doing."
"Donít do that, Rodney!" John growled. "I thought youíd seen a Wraith or something!"
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Trust me, Colonel; if I see a Wraith anywhere here, youíll know."
"The shrieking and hiding will be a dead giveaway," Ronon muttered before batting away Roverís arm as the cart tried to pinch him. "McKay! Control this damn thing!"
John snickered while Teyla tried to sooth the Satedan. "You cannot blame Dr. McKay. Rover is very protective of him and acts on its own when it perceives an insult to him."
"Oh, and he doesnít like bad breath either," Rodney smirked, patting Rover on the sensor array when the cart rolled back to his side.
Ronon growled. "You are insane, Sheppard." He stalked over to the next stall that was displaying food.
"Heís just realizing this?" Rodney asked innocently.
"On second thought, maybe I should trade you in," John said.
Rover banged against Johnís shin in response to that suggestion.
"Ow! Make that a package deal." John rubbed his shin while reminding himself that he was too old to stick his tongue out at Rover.
Ronon snorted. "Nobody would be stupid enough to take that offer."
"Which is just as well since Iím not real big on sharing them." John shrugged and slung an arm around Rodneyís shoulders.
"Nobody else could handle you." Rodney may have tried to sound annoyed, but the smile he flashed John was one of pure pleasure, and from the way Rover rubbed against their legs, it was plain he felt that way as well.
"No one else will get the chance." John brushed a light kiss over Rodneyís lips before reaching down to pat Rover.
Rodney only grinned and slung his arm around Johnís waist as they continued to browse through the marketplace.
"A collar for your pretty plaything," one man called, leering at John. "You wouldnít want him to stray," he said to Rodney.
"No need to worry about that, heís too well trained to even think of it."
"Oh, you are so going to pay for that!" The look John gave the merchant was deadly, making him abruptly decide to look elsewhere for customers.
"Would you rather have a collar?"
"Trained?" John repeated. "Dream on!"
"You do great tricks?" Rodney offered.
John sighed. "Iím not going to win, am I?"
"Does it help if I say you can pick top or bottom tonight?"
"You mean I only get one tonight?"
"Like youíd rather I was a monk."
Rodney grimaced. "Iíd rather we both stayed away from religious types, thanks."
"No priestesses, members of brotherhoods, or anything else. God, weíre an old married couple!"
"Who have really hot sex at least daily."
"True. Itís not so bad, is it?" John smiled slowly. "The three of us arenít exactly the Cleavers, but it works for us."
Rodney smiled and tightened his arm around Johnís waist. "Not bad? Itís pretty damn good if you ask me."
"I have to agree. But right now, we need to find some trading partners to make this trip worthwhile, so look sharp, McKay."
"Just donít flirt with the vendors."
John looked around. "Iíd rather flirt with Ronon!"
Rover rolled over a small rock, shooting it up against Johnís leg in answer.
"I didnít say I was going to!" John protested, rubbing the sting away. "Just that these people were even less appealing. Not that Iím planning to flirt with anyone," he added hastily.
Rodney chuckled. "I know that, John."
"Yeah, well, I wanted to make sure Rover did too," John said wryly. "He has ways of making his displeasure felt."
"Heís a good cart," Rodney beamed.
"I seem to recall a slightly different reaction when you were on the other end of one of his pinches!"
"Shhh! Donít remind him!"
John laughed and was about to continue the teasing when something in the next stall caught his eye. "Hey, Rodney, donít you have one of those in your lab that you havenít been able to figure out yet?"
"Hm?" Rodney glanced over at the table, then pounced for the item. "Yes! And this one doesnít look damaged!"
John took one look at his face and called Teyla over. "Negotiating time."
"It would be helpful if Dr. McKay did not make it so obvious that he wants it," she said dryly before moving toward the vendor.
"Give her a belt for it," Rodney muttered as he poked at the octagonal barrel, examining the interfaces on it.
"I have no need of belts," the woman said flatly. "However, aid during our harvest..."
"Is worth far more than a single trinket," Teyla replied equally flatly.
"But if your companion is interested in such things, there are many more where that came from."
"Where is that?" Rodneyís attention was centered fully on the woman.
"Laborers?" she asked Teyla, who frowned thoughtfully and nodded.
"Depending upon how many artifacts there are," she added quellingly.
The woman nodded in turn. "It is fair. I am Salis. I will bring you to the planet, where you can see for yourselves. If you wish the artifacts and strike a deal, I will give you the gate address."
"Why do I get a really queasy feeling in my stomach about going with someone to an unknown gate address?"
"Because youíre not insane," John muttered, but Teyla was already shaking her head.
"No. We will send a machine with you to send us back images of the items, and if my companion feels they are worthy of his attention, then we will discuss trade and you will give us the address."
The woman glanced around the small group, weighing their attitudes, then nodded. "That is acceptable. Is that the machine?"
"No!" Rodney exclaimed, stepping in front of Rover. "He isnít going anywhere!"
"Donít worry," John said soothingly. "No, we will need to contact our friends, and weíll send a machine we call a MALP. It will send back images of the artifacts."
Teyla nodded and continued smoothly. "We will need some little time to make the arrangements. We can meet you at the ring of the Ancestors in one hour."
Salis bowed and nodded, packing away her items for trade into a sack and walking away into the crowds.
"A whole planet of artifacts..." Rodney sounded almost dreamy as he spoke.
"Hey, donít get carried away now," John warned. "There may just be a single junk heap for all we know."
"Yes, but who knows what might be in that heap."
"Weíll check out the telemetry the MALP sends back, and if it looks good, you can go play." John grinned quickly. "Radekíll be jealous, but itíd have to be pretty spectacular to risk both of you on the same mission."
Rodney waved a hand in dismissal. "Iíll bring him back a toy to play with."
"Better make sure itís not a sex toy or Carson might faint!"
Rodney snickered. "No might about it."
"I will deliver whichever object you decide upon to Dr. Zelenka," Teyla interrupted, her gaze all but daring Rodney to give her a sex toy and see what would happen.
"Oh fine," Rodney huffed.
"Wise choice," John murmured.
"Are we gong to call back to the base or not?" Ronon asked.
"In some kind of a rush?" Now that his team was reassembled, John started out of the marketplace, keeping an eye out for anyone who seemed to take an excessive interest in them.
"Well, they do have to get the MALP here and programmed," Rodney commented before wrinkling his nose when he realized that he was agreeing with Ronon.
"Donít worry; I wonít tell anyone," John laughed even though most of his attention was still on the other people in the market.
"Youíd better not," Rodney grumbled. "Iíd never hear the end of it!"
"You actually agreeing with Rononóthe world must be coming to an end!"
"Keep it up, Chuckles; youíre not winning any points here!"
John gave him the puppy dog eyes.
Rodney groaned. "You know what? Iím going to look at that booth over there. You just... do what you need to do."
"You can look later. Although... Teyla, you make contact with Elizabeth and arrange for the MALP. Ronon, go with her. Rodney and I will see if thereís anything else of interest here and meet you at the gate for our appointment with Salis."
Once the other two had left, Rodney sighed. "I donít need a keeper, Colonel."
"Rodney, in case you didnít notice, I didnít let Teyla or Ronon go alone either. Are you going to tell me you think I donít think either of them can take care of themselves?"
"Considering they could both beat us unconscious without trying, not hardly."
"So then why would you think I would let you wander off alone when youíre a hell of a lot more important to the expedition, not to mention me?"
"Because I wanted to look for something!" Rodney sighed and waved a hand. "Never mind, letís go see what other discoveries we can make."
John frowned. "You canít look for it with me here?"
"No, I canít." Rodney refused to explain further.
"Um, okay. You should have said so earlier. I could have gone to the gate with Ronon and left Teyla here with you. Best I can do now is give you some space, but this place is so crowded that I donít like the idea of being out of sight." He sighed, knowing he was being overprotective. "Then again you do have Rover. Go ahead, Iíll stay right here. But you only have half an hour," he warned.
Rodney smiled then and caught Johnís hand, pulling him in for a quick kiss. "Iíll be careful, and Iíve got Rover. Iíll be fine, and Iíll be back here in half an hour." Grinning, he stepped back and ducked into the crowds, Rover at his side.
John watched him, practically quivering as he fought the urge to follow Rodney. Sighing, he forced himself to turn the other way and begin looking through the stalls. If he couldnít find Ancient technology or new foodstuffs, maybe he could find something to brighten up their quarters.
Half an hour later, Rodney appeared at Johnís side, apparently in a much better mood as he slung an arm around the colonelís shoulder. "Ready to go see about that MALP?"
John eyed him curiously. "Youíre not going to tell me what you were looking for?"
Rodney smiled. "Nope and donít try to search me; Rover has it."
"Youíre doing this to drive me nuts with curiosity, arenít you?"
"Well, there is the chance of it getting me really good begging sex as well."
John swallowed hard. "Are you sure we have to go look for new Ancient doodads right away?" he asked almost plaintively.
"Do you want to explain why we canít to Elizabeth?"
"Okay, new rule. No teasing on missions!"
"You need to remember that one yourself!"
"Iíve been good!" John protested.
"This time!" Rover nudged them, and Rodney caught Johnís arm so that he could glance at his watch. "And weíd better get to the gate."
"Fine, Iíll be correctly military on all missions," John threatened, following Rodney as they worked their way back toward the gate.
Rodney snickered. "Thatíll be a first! And Iím not saying I want you that way either!"
"Oh, shut up and walk," John half groaned, half laughed.
"You talking to me or Rover?"
"Roverís usually pretty quiet."
"Because I know you arenít telling me to shut up, Colonel. If you were, you wouldnít see what I managed to find."
Reminding himself that heíd known for months that there was only one good way to shut Rodney up, John pulled Rodney into his arms and kissed him hard. "Now letís get to the gate so you can play, and then we can play."
Rodney gave a dopey smile. "Okay."
John grinned and started for the gate again, holding Rodneyís hand for the moment to make sure he followed. Rover brought up the rear, occasionally scooting forward to nudge John in a different direction when he was going to go the wrong way.
"Look at all of it!" Rodney stared down at the monitor, looking for all the world as if heíd discovered Aladdinís treasure trove. "Elizabeth, we have to go there!" Standing next to him and Elizabeth in the control room, Radek was muttering excitedly in Czech, nearly bouncing in place.
Teylaís voice came through the link. "I believe that what we are seeing is exactly as Salisí people found it." In background, Ronon could be heard muttering about a waste of time, but no one took that seriously.
"Very well," Elizabeth nodded. "Teyla, you can negotiate for the address."
"And donít let Ronon touch anything!" Rodney yelled before looking over his shoulders. "All right, we need at least three full science teams to categorize everything there and pack it up for transport."
"And a team of Marines for security for each of them," John said, his tone telling them that it wasnít open to debate. "Lindstrom, Lorne, Stackhouse, your teams get guard duty. Take anyone else you need to ensure their safety, but make sure you leave Bates enough personnel to maintain the security of the city."
"Weíll be here with the junk," Ronon sighed.
Radek exchanged rolled eyes looks with Rodney as the gate shut down. "A treasure trove of Ancient technology and he calls it junk?"
"Obviously thereís nothing recognizably a weapon," John said dryly, knowing Rononís priorities. In the background, the three officers John had named were assembling the military members of their teams and rounding them out with additional soldiers. "Rodney, set up your teams and let them know how many will be on each team so they can estimate how many they need to bring."
Rodney nodded, already working out the logistics. "Half an hour and weíll be ready, figure fifteen tops, plus Radek and me."
"So thatís five per team?" Lindstrom asked, moving closer to get the information she needed.
"Basic math!" Rodney called before going back to discussing team distributions with Radek.
"I think she was making sure you didnít mean fifteen on each team, Rodney," John retorted in her defense. Lindstrom nodded, smiling faintly as she watched the scientists.
"Sir, do you think an equal number of Marines is going to be enough when they get like this?"
Following her gaze, John grinned wryly. "Been there, have you? No, theyíll probably want to use you as gofers too. Better put seven on each team. Iíll keep an eye on Dr. McKay myself, and Teyla and Ronon will watch Dr. Zelenka."
The two lieutenants and the major tried to hide their relief. "At least he listens to you, Colonel," Lt. Stackhouse said.
"Iím ignoring them, arenít you, Radek?" Rodney commented.
"I am thinking that we have not inspected the plumbing recently. Perhaps they will have no hot water in their quarters."
Maj. Lorne shuddered. "Iím telling you, scientists are vicious. Give me a nice, simple soldier any day." He glanced quickly at the Canadian technician, Chuck Bryan, who sat near Elizabeth, and looked away again.
"I hate to tell you, lad," Carson commented, from where he was putting together his medical team, "thereís no such thing as a simple soldier here on Atlantis."
Lorne chuckled. "True, but weíre still easier to deal with for another grunt than you crazy, obsessed scientists."
Carson caught the glower Sgt. Bryan gave the major and chuckled to himself.
"All right," Rodney announced. "Weíve got the teams set up, and Maj. Lorne? For your comments, you get Dr. Kavanagh."
Lorne groaned in dismay. "See, I told you. Vicious!"
Laughing, John said, "Major, no matter how tempting it is, do not shoot him yourself."
"Yes, you might hit one of the artifacts!"
Everyone laughed at that, even Elizabeth fighting to hide her amusement. Kavanagh might be very good in his field, but he was an annoying know-it-all whoíd made no friends and plenty of enemies during his time in Atlantis.
"Well?" Rodney looked up and pinned everyone with his glare. "Get moving!"
They all scattered.
And half an hour later, they were all waiting when Teyla called back to tell them that sheíd traded some medicines and manpower for the planetís address. She sent it through so that they could check the Ancient database for any information and then join her and Ronon on the planet.
"Nothing." Rodney announced after they plugged the information into the database. "Which in and of itself is odd, but the artifacts are there."
"Strange," John agreed, shrugging. "So letís go solve the mystery, shall we?"
Elizabeth nodded. "Call in every hour until weíre sure that itís not some kind of trap."
John nodded and the team members quickly sorted themselves into order as the address was input and the gate flared into activation.
"Gentlemen." Carson stepped into the main lab and folded his arms over his chest as he studied the array of newly recovered technology that littered the bench space. "And ladies," he continued. "Yeíve been at it for over twelve hours; itís time for all of ye to take a break before ye damage something inadvertently."
It took a moment for what he was hearing to sink in, but when it did, Radek raised his head. "Carson. You would not believe what we found. So much. This is just the smallest part of it. It is extraordinary! Look," he said excitedly, seizing Carsonís hand to drag him over to an artifact. "We think this is some kind of power source."
"Good luck, Carson," John said wearily from where he was slumped on a stool in a corner. "Iíve been trying to make them quit for the night for about five hours."
"Have faith, lad," Carson said mildly before twisting his hand in Radekís grip and pulling him backward. "Iíll be happy to look at yer new technology come morning. What I want from you is to take a look around, both you and Rodney. Yer staff is dead on their feet!"
Rodney looked up from the interior of the device he was attaching probes to and waved a hand. "Fine, go home, get some sleep."
"You need to get some sleep too," John nearly growled, and Rover nudged Rodney, trying to make him move. "Hell, I need sleep, and Iím not going to get any till you get out of this damned lab and come to bed!"
Radek blinked and peered from one to the other. Now that he was pulled away from his work, he realized how weary he was. "It might be best to sleep now and start fresh in the morning," he admitted.
"Now thereís a fine idea," Carson beamed as the other scientists began filing out of the lab so that another shift could take over.
"But Jo-ohn," Rodney whined before Rover got between him and the bench, pushing him away and back into the colonel.
John took immediate advantage and wrapped his arms around Rodney. "Bed, Rodney," he said firmly. "I donít usually have this much trouble getting you into one."
"Fine, fine," Rodney grumbled, realizing the lab had already emptied except for Radek, who was being urged toward the door by Carson, John, and himself. "Bed is good."
"Bed is very good," John agreed, keeping an arm around Rodneyís waist to make sure he didnít change his mind. "And tomorrow you can play with your new toys again."
"Can you believe how much there was there?" Rodney sighed, leaning against Johnís side and yawned before smiling down at Rover as the cart rolled alongside them.
"Itís an incredible find," John agreed. "I just wish I knew why it was abandoned and why there was no record of it in the database."
Rodney gave a tired laugh. "Iíve given up trying to fathom why the Ancients did anything. Maybe it was a last ditch stronghold, or maybe it was one of their coloniesóremember? The other Elizabeth talked about how there were groups of them returning to the city."
John nodded. "I guess weíll never know unless we find some data crystals there or someone goes back in time to ask them. But weíre certainly not going to find out tonight." He drew Rodney into their room, Rover close on their heels.
"Maybe Rover can find us Janusí notes on his time machine." Rodney dropped onto the bed and untied his boots, dragging them off and letting them drop to the floor.
"No!" John shuddered. "We have enough trouble as it is without messing up the timeline."
"No faith at all." Rodney shook his head and called Rover over, rummaging in his storage compartment before cursing. "Damn, this mirror is still in here; remind me to lock it up in the morning."
"I will. And donít touch the damn thing. I looked up the mission reports, both of them, and those things are dangerous. You donít even need the gene to activate them."
"Trust me, Iím not going anywhere near that thing without the proper precautions." Rodney shuddered before closing his hand around something and drawing it back out of the compartment.
"So whatís so important that you need it now?" Johnís voice was muffled by his t-shirt as he pulled it over his head.
"Because I wanted to give you this before I got caught up in work again tomorrow and it was too late." Rodney gave a lopsided smile that was broken by a yawn and held his hand out, fingers still closed over the contents
"Give me?" John came closer, intrigued. "Oh, is this your mystery purchase from the market?"
Rodney glowered. "Yes, itís my mystery purchase, and it cost me my watch, so youíd better appreciate it."
John made a mental note to go back to the planet and try to get Rodneyís watch back. "So, are you going to let me see it?" he asked, trying to sound relaxed but his eager curiosity obvious.
"Oh, yeah." Rodney gave a nervous laugh and pressed the item into Johnís hand. "I was just thinking that it had been quite a few months since weówell, since we got together, and I thought a way to commemorate that might be good."
John stared silently at the flat, braided leather bracelet for long moments before the hazel eyes rose to meet Rodneyís. "I love you," he said simply.
"I thought that it could go under your wrist band so there wouldnít be any questions that could lead to problems."
John nodded. "But I didnít get you anything."
"That wasnít why I got you it."
"I know. Thank you." John leaned in to kiss Rodney. "But I still wish Iíd gotten you something too." He put the bracelet on and admired the black leather against his wrist.
Rodney smiled and ran a finger over the band. "You can give me a super primo massage if you want; my back is killing me."
"Thatís what you get for working so long." John shook his head. "But get undressed and Iíll see what I can do for you."
"Sounds good." Rodney dragged his shirt over his head and dropped back on the bed to drag off his pants, rolling to his stomach and pillowing his head on his arms.
"Thatís definitely one of my favorite views," John murmured, stripping off his own clothes and moving to straddle Rodney.
"Glad to hear it," Rodney yawned, squirming slightly under Johnís weight.
"Like you didnít already know it." John reached for the massage oil that heíd stocked up on while on Earth and poured some into one hand, warming it between both before beginning to work on Rodneyís back.
Rodney gave an unintelligible mumble and relaxed, though from time to time he winced when John hit a particularly tight muscle group. John smiled, knowing that Rodney would fall asleep soon, and at least heíd be able to stand up straight in the morning.
"Love you too," Rodney mumbled, his voice heavy with sleep. "Glad you liked the thing."
John leaned down to kiss his cheek. "Iíd like anything you gave me," he whispered, "but I love this."
When he woke the next morning, Rodney yawned and opened his eyes, surprised to find John looking at him. "Youíre awake before me. Youíre never awake before me."
John shrugged. "I catnapped in the lab last night after I gave up on prying you out of there without a stick of dynamite."
"Ha ha ha. Like youíd be any better if you found a cache of jumpers hidden somewhere and you know what those do!"
After thinking about it for a moment, John shook his head. "Naw, thatíd be cool, but I wouldnít ignore you or snarl at you if you wanted me to come to bed. I donít get as obsessed as you do."
"Okay, chastisement taken andówell, I canít promise I wonít do it again, but Iíll try to listen to you if itís not a life or death matter, okay?"
John smiled. It was more than heíd expected. "So... good morning." He leaned in for a kiss.
"Morning," Rodney murmured once theyíd come up for air. "You have really bad breath, just so you know."
"Likewise. But weíre guys; weíre not supposed to care about that stuff." John grinned.
"And let me guess, I know exactly what weíre supposed to care about." Rodney moved his leg forward to nudge Johnís morning erection.
"You really are a genius," John marveled.
"And you really are not a comedian!"
"Nope, Iím a pilot, a lamp lighter, and a slut. Wanna do something about that last?" He rocked against Rodneyís thigh.
"Like this?" Rodney asked, rolling on top of John so that they could move together, his smile growing sensual at the feeling of John arching up underneath him.
"God yeah." John groaned, his fingers flexing on Rodneyís hips as he tried to pull the other man down harder, the friction making him writhe.
Rodney leaned back, watching John intently, the sounds of his panting harsh and fast. "Oh yeah, so good."
"Voyeur," John chuckled breathlessly, squirming shamelessly beneath Rodney and spreading his legs to let Rodney settle closer against him.
"If it means watching you, sure."
"You could help some, you know." Johnís hands tugged on Rodneyís ass, trying to get him to move more.
"By doing this?" Rodney asked, circling his hips and groaning when the move drove his cock against Johnís hip. "Or this?" He leaned in and licked his way up Johnís throat.
"Both!" John shuddered, whimpering softly with lust as Rodney teased him.
"Both are good," Rodney whispered, getting an arm under Johnís back to hold him closer before nipping at the wet stripe heíd left on the warm skin of his throat.
"God yes!" John thrust up, rubbing against Rodney while moaning at the sensation of Rodneyís teeth on his throat. "More!" Rodney gave him what he asked for, driving downward and pinning John beneath him as he sucked and bit at his throat, raising a raw, bruised area before switching to the other side to mark it the same way.
"Oh fuck yeah," John whimpered, his head falling back to offer his throat to Rodney.
Rodneyís growl of agreement rumbled against Johnís skin as he tried to take them both over the edge, needing to feel John coming apart under him before he came as well.
Johnís hips moved faster, and his fingers were gripping Rodneyís hips hard enough to bruise. He gasped and moaned with every breath, and then he arched up, his entire body tensing as he came, his semen easing Rodneyís continued movements against him.
"John..." Rodney groaned, his erection sliding against Johnís now slick skin, and then he was coming as well, his thrusts growing erratic as his come gouted out to mix with Johnís.
John lay back on the bed, his arms now looped around Rodneyís waist, and he gave him a big, dopey grin. "Much better than worrying about brushing our teeth," he said with satisfaction.
Rodney murmured and nuzzled his face against Johnís neck, for the moment content to lie there. John smiled, loving how cuddly Rodney got after sex.
"I really need to get up and get to the lab," Rodney sighed, though he still wasnít making a move to get up.
John sighed. "I have a day of paperwork and inspections to look forward to."
"I think I like my plans better."
"Me too. Maybe Iíll see if Teyla wants to train. Iíd rather be battered than bored."
"Putting off your work doesnít make it go away, Colonel."
"I hate paperwork," John grumbled.
Rodney stretched and leaned back in to brush a kiss over Johnís mouth. "Get it all done, and once Iím done for the day, Iíll make it worth your while." He kissed John again and rolled out of bed, heading for the shower.
"Thatís bribery. And itís so unfair that it always works." John got up reluctantly and stretched hugely, hearing his spine crack as he did. After a moment, he followed Rodney, pausing to pat Rover as he passed.
"Itís not a ray gun! What do you think that outpost was, a box of Cracker Jacks?" Rodney groaned, glowering at Radek. "Just because Carsonís gene therapy worked on you doesnít mean you know what the damn things do!"
"Then what is it, Dr. I Know Everything?" Radek retorted. "You donít know either! It could just as easily be a ray gun as anything else!"
"Well, if it is a ray gun and it goes off, I bet it incinerates you considering the way youíre pointing it."
Radek growled just as John came in. A dark eyebrow winged upwards, and the colonel eyed the two scientists with amusement. "Am I going to have to give you two a time out?"
"No. Radek here just has to recognize that when it comes to discerning the function of Ancient technology, heís not in my class."
Radek seemed to be weighing a beaker in his hand and calculating trajectories as he scowled darkly at Rodney, so John hastily moved between them. "So what is it?"
"No idea yet," Rodney said cheerfully, "but itís not a ray gun."
The sound Radek made that time made John wince. He eyed Rodney with amused resignation. "Are you conducting some kind of experiment?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, I thought you were trying to see if Radekís head could actually explode from the rising blood pressure as he tries not to beat you unconscious," John said dryly.
"You arenít helping, Colonel," Rodney growled as he set the erstwhile ray gun down and found the catch to open it up.
"Just sayiní." John grinned, keeping one eye on the muttering, glowering Czech.
"Well, your saying isnít hel... Radek, look at this!"
Radek immediately stopped swearing in favor of investigating what Rodney had found.
"Well, what is it?" John asked impatiently.
"Shh shh shh shh! Look there... and that..."
"Smoky crystals," Radek nearly whispered.
"Weíve all seen crystals before," John said.
"Which the UAs use, Colonel," Rodney snapped. "I think this may be more than an Ancient outpost."
John immediately snapped to attention. "Are we sure it was abandoned? If they find out weíre here in Atlantis..."
Ignoring the conversation behind him, Radek was already searching through the pile of artifacts for anything that might be a data crystal.
"What do I look like, an archaeologist?" Rodney sputtered. "It was empty, and it was dusty!"
"Soís your bed!" John frowned. "At least we know they donít like humans, so theyíre not likely to be talking to anyone who knows Atlantis is inhabited again."
"Not exactly comforting, Rodney."
"It is abandoned," Radek announced suddenly. "All of this is centuries old. You can see some wear from the elements. But we do not know why it was abandoned."
Rodney moved to look over Radekís shoulder. "Yes, and thereís also the fact that if these people have been visiting there, if theyíd met the UAs, they wouldnít be around to talk about it."
Radek nodded. "We will need to send archeologists to date the site. We need to know how long ago it was abandoned."
John frowned, but he knew they were right, and it wasnít actually any more dangerous than it had been the day before.
"And in the meantime we have all these new toys to play with," Rodney grinned.
John rolled his eyes. "Iíll come pry you out of here at dinner time. Right now Iím going to go brief Elizabeth on what youíve found and see if Bates is up to resuming all of his duties."
"You do that." Rodney leaned over and patted John on the arm before going back to studying the artifact with Radek.
John sighed and caught his arm to pull him back for a kiss.
"Slut," Rodney muttered, smiling affectionately as he hugged John close.
"Only for the right person." John grinned before turning to go, indifferent to the startled glances from the few scientists who hadnít seen him with Rodney before.
"Well?" Rodney growled, glaring at the others, "what are you staring at? Work, people!"
At the door, John glanced back. "Very commanding. Very impressive, Rodney." He ducked out, Radekís snicker the last thing he heard.
"Very commanding, very impressive, you are so in for it, Colonel," Rodney glowered, shoving John up against the wall and holding him still for a harsh kiss."
"Oh for the love of..." There was a loud crash, and Rodney glanced over his shoulder to see Lt. Stackhouse staring gloomily at his meal which now decorated the floor.
John stared over Rodneyís shoulder as well, wondering how the man could manage to lead a team and yet still be such a klutz when he was in Atlantis.
They were all still staring at the food on the floor when a cart rolled up and offered him a new tray that seemed to be loaded with the same things that had been spilled.
"Which oneís that?" John asked.
"No idea." Intrigued, Rodney let John go and turned to study the cart even as Rover rolled up and poked at it. "Lieutenant, did you imprint a cart without telling us?"
Stackhouse looked from the cart to McKay, confusion clear on his face. "Sirs?"
"I think this is another spontaneous one. The city must have decided he needed one."
Rodney snickered. "Well, it certainly seems to have your best interests at heart. Try not to drop this tray."
The lieutenant glared at him. "I think Iíll let him carry it my room. Maybe you should think about going to yours!" He saw Johnís expression and hastily added, "Sir."
"Now what did he mean by that?" Rodney asked as the Marine stalked down the corridor, followed by the cart which somehow seemed to be doing the same.
John shrugged. "Who knows? He must get irritable when his blood sugar gets low."
"We should tell Carson."
"About his dietary problem or the new cart? Speaking of which... Stackhouse!" John yelled, waiting for him to look back. "Whatís his name?"
"Lunchmeat!" the lieutenant shouted back, stark desperation clear in his voice.
"Lunchmeat?" Rodney asked. "Weird. Very weird."
"Never mind Carson, I think we need to tell Heightmeyer to talk to him!"
"It just never changes here, does it?"
"This place is weird." John shook his head.
Rodney grinned and, after glancing up and down the hall, kissed John again. "But in a very good way."
"True, we fit in well, donít we? You, me, and our cart."
"Thatís just so wrongóbut also so right."
"Isnít it?" John chuckled. "But Stackhouse may have had a point. Our room would be better for what I have in mind."
"Good point, but the mess hall is better for at least getting food to take back with us."
"Mmm, I wonder if they have any chocolate."
"I think Roverís going to see."
Col. Caldwell came around a corner, heard that, groaned, and headed back the way heíd come at a much faster pace.
Rodney snickered. "Did you see that?"
"Yeah." John laughed. "I donít think he likes Rover."
"Well, the feelingís mutual." Rover came back out of the mess, carrying a tray loaded with food enough for two and half a chocolate cake. "Oh, very good cart!"
"Mmm, definitely! Way to go, Rover." John patted him and started toward their room, only just remembering not to put an arm around Rodney.
Rodney nodded, smiling as they walked along. "Definitely weird, but in a good way, a very good way."
"I canít quite decide if we all get weird because of the place, or if the place is as weird as it is because of all of us."
"One of the many things we can ask if we ever meet a bunch of unascended Ancients."
"I think Iíd rather just enjoy it. The unascended Ancients donít seem like the type I want to invite to our next party."
Rodney decided it was best not to mention one unascended Ancient in particular. "Yes, I imagine theyíd do something to unspike the punch."
"Well, after tasting Hallingís swill, I canít really blame them for that."
"We really have to bring a decent vintner along on one of the trips."
"At least we get some decent liquor now that the Daedalus is doing regular supply runs. But yeah, Iíll bet they could grow grapes on the mainland."
"Excellent idea, Colonel. We can start our own vintage."
John laughed. "We could export it back to Earth and give the French a run for their money."
"And then retire to that beach-front property you promised me."
"Preferably one without a t-rex. But I did kind of like that island we spent the afternoon on that time."
Rodney shook his head at the memory. "It feels like a century ago."
John nodded. "So much has happened." He sighed, then shook off the mood. "Next time weíll bring Rover with us, and he can pick his own shell."
The cart gave a shimmy at the thought of it and revved his wheels on the smooth tiles.
"Think we can book next week off?"
"I think weíre due. Letís talk to Elizabeth in the morning."
"You know thereís no way weíll get it."
"Hey, the city survived without us for a month when we were on Earth. This way weíd still be only a hop in the jumper away if an emergency came up."
"And weíll have to sleep on the beach. On the sand."
John started to laugh. "You do remember the mattresses, right?"
"Repellant. Sex under the stars."
"Iíll make it up to you in our nice, comfortable bed tonight."
"After we send Elizabeth a memo."
"Good idea. That way we donít have to take time to go talk to her when we could be doing much better things."
"Like each other?"
"So then, think we should go eat and then practice?"
"And yet again he proves his genius," John grinned.
"Amazing, arenít I?"
"Oh shut up and walk faster so I can shut you up properly."
Rodney snickered but walked faster. "Donít think I donít know just why you do that, Colonel."
"Because it makes you stop talking. And we both enjoy it."
"One good reason anyway."
"Uh huh. Thatís why you talk more when weíre alone and I can stop you."
"What? I do not! I talk exactly the same amount whether weíre together or alone and Iím insulted that you think that..." Rodney was effectively quieted the moment they walked into their room by Johnís mouth closing over his.
"Much better," John said a bit later after a final nip to Rodneyís lower lip.
"I hate you," Rodney grumbled.
"No, you donít." John nudged him toward the table where Rover had already set down their food.
"Are you arguing with me?" Rodney dropped into the seat and picked up his fork, digging into his food.
"When you claim not to love me? Of course I am." John sat down as well and stole a bite off Rodneyís plate.
Rodney whacked at Johnís hand with his fork. "Eat your own food!"
"This is more fun."
"Juvenile," Rodney said before sticking his tongue out at John.
Laughing, John sat back. "No wonder we get along so well."
Rodney shook his head and continued to eat, resorting to stealing food from Johnís place when it was evident his plate was a shared one.
"Itís a good thing Rover fills both plates with things we both like."
"And that he knows to avoid citrus."
John spared a momentary wistful thought for lemon meringue pie before shrugging. "I donít think thereís any danger of him getting you anything you donít like, never mind something youíre allergic to."
"Heís a good cart," Rodney grinned.
Rover wriggled with pleasure next to them.
"And youíre a good colonel," he added, winking at John.
"Woof." John eyed him wryly.
Rodney snickered and offered John a piece of yellow vegetable.
John leaned forward to take it from him, making sure to nibble and lick Rodneyís fingers as he did.
"Now be nice or we wonít get to finish our meal..."
"I thought I was being nice."
"Being that nice will lead to us not getting to eat our cakeóand I was planning on eating it off of you!"
John immediately sat back in his chair. "Being good now!"
"Thatís what I like to hear."
John eyed him. "Youíre in one of your dommy moods, arenít you?" He tried to sound indifferent, but the eager light in his hazel eyes gave him away.
"Who me? Try to boss around a trained military man? Please!"
"Uh huh. Iíve seen you throw orders at everyone, including Caldwell and the Asgard, so donít give me that."
Rodney waggled his eyebrows. "Fine, then Iíll give you something else."
"Promises, promises." John grinned as he taunted Rodney, knowing they would both enjoy the results.
"Which I always deliver on!"
John reached over to dip a finger in the frosting on the cake and sensually licked it off. "So deliver."
Rodney swallowed hard, then shifted his focus from Johnís mouth to his eyes. "So strip."
John grinned and a moment later music filled the room in response to his desire. His eyes darkening with arousal, he kept his gaze on Rodney as he raised first one foot then the other to the opposite knee to undo his boots and remove them and his socks. That done, he swayed to his feet, keeping time to the sensual, Latin rhythm of the music, and pulled his shirt off while he danced.
"Ooo baby, take it off," Rodney called, leaning back in his chair and watching appreciatively, dragging his finger through the dark frosting and holding it out to tempt John closer.
Still keeping time to the music, John leaned in to lick the chocolaty frosting off Rodneyís finger with long swipes of his tongue, followed by quick flicks, and ending with a quick nip.
Rodneyís breathing thickened, and he groaned quietly when John slowly pulled back, letting his finger fall from his lips. "Iím suddenly regretting that we donít have any money here."
"Not quite what I want you shoving under my pants," John chuckled.
"Actually, Iíd rather there werenít any pants involved in this."
"Oh, I think that could be arranged." John unzipped his pants and let the movements of his hips and gravity slowly slide them down.
Rodney whimpered and ran his hand over his thigh, letting his fingers trail over his groin, teasing himself as he watched John continue to disrobe.
Watching him, John almost lost the beat, but he recovered as he stepped out of his pants. Wearing only his boxer briefs and dog tags, he hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his remaining garment and met Rodneyís eyes.
"God, John, yes," Rodney whispered, now massaging his growing erection through his uniform pants, the fabric a rough counterpart to the smoothness before him.
John turned away as he pushed the fabric down, leaning forward so that his ass was facing Rodney, buttocks flexing as he stripped. After he stepped out of the briefs, he kept his back to Rodney for a moment longer, glancing over his shoulder at the watching man.
"Címere," Rodney murmured, dragging another finger through the frosting.
John finally turned to face him again and came to stand in front of Rodney, his cock hard and tight against his belly.
Catching Johnís hips, Rodney turned him back around and dragged his frosting covered finger over the lightly tanned skin, drawing abstract patterns there before leaning back to admire them.
John looked down at himself, grinning. "Well, now youíve got me all messy. What are you going to do about it?"
"Let Rover clean you off?" Rodney suggested, before leaning in to lick the frosting from Johnís back, resting his hands on his hips to hold him in place.
"Last time you suggested something like that, he pinched you," John reminded him. He bit his lip as Rodneyís hot, wet tongue trailed over him, making him want to squirm, but he was prevented by Rodneyís grip.
"With a rag, you pervert," Rodney growled, tilting his head to bite Johnís ass.
John chuckled, the sound breaking off into a moan of pure lust when Rodney bit him. "This is better," he said breathlessly.
"Yeah, it is." Once he had Johnís back cleaned, Rodney turned him around and took his time decorating his torso with the frosting, trying to ignore the way Johnís erection twitched in front of him as he hit sensitive spots.
"Tease," John breathed, his fists clenched at his sides to keep from reaching for Rodney.
"If youíre complaining, I could stop..."
"No!" John nearly howled, making Rover jump in its corner. But a quick scan reassured the cart that it was nothing out of the ordinary, and it settled back down.
"Donít scare Rover," Rodney chided, dragging a finger over Johnís nipple and leaving a dark brown streak over the puckered flesh.
"Then donít tease," John growled. Or at least he tried to, but the effect was negated by his gasp and the way he was squirming.
"Iím not teasing. Teasing would be doing this." Rodney ghosted his fingertips over Johnís cock, barely touching the straining flesh before settling his hand on Johnís hip again.
"Rodney! Please," John whimpered.
"Please what?" Rodney murmured, pulling him closer and trailing his mouth over Johnís erection.
"Oh God, yeah, touch me, suck me," he pleaded.
"Anything," Rodney whispered, tightening his hands on Johnís hips and devouring his cock, groaning at the intoxicating mixture of chocolate and John. John moaned, his hands coming to rest on Rodneyís shoulders for additional support as he forced his legs to hold him up under the onslaught of pleasure.
Rodney sucked at the hard, hot flesh for long moments before slowly pulling back and licking his lips. "Damn, you taste good," he whispered. "On the bed, on your back. Now."
John complied eagerly, practically throwing himself onto the bed and rolling to his back. His eyes were fixed on Rodneyís when he drew his legs back and grabbed his knees, opening himself completely to the other man.
"Impressive, Colonel. Very impressive." Rodney unlaced his boots and kicked them off before standing and stripping off his shirt, undoing his belt and pants as he walked over to the bed.
John watched him hungrily, his cock twitching visibly against his belly. "Fuck me," he begged.
"Jesus fuck, the way you sound," Rodney whispered, dragging off his pants and rolling on top of John, rubbing against him. John groaned with the sheer pleasure of feeling hot, bare skin against his own finally, and he let go of his knees to wrap his legs around Rodneyís waist, pulling him closer so he could lunge up and kiss him.
Rodney groaned into Johnís mouth and scrabbled for the lube in the bedside table, squeezing some out on his fingers and getting his knees under him so that he could press his fingers into Johnís ass. John just groaned and clenched down, riding Rodneyís fingers hungrily.
"Need you." After slathering more lube on his cock, Rodney shoved inside the welcoming heat, groaning as he began thrusting, his hand slipping between them to stroke Johnís cock.
"Oh yeah," John panted, one hand reaching up to grab the back of Rodneyís neck and pull him back down into a messy, desperate kiss. He was so close, his entire body tensing as he felt the pleasure draw into a tight knot at the base of his spine that was going to explode any moment.
In answer, Rodney groaned and thrust faster, wanting, needing to feel John coming around and under him. Johnís eyes flew open, focusing on Rodney, and his cry was muffled by Rodneyís mouth as he arched up hard and came.
Riding out Johnís tremors, Rodney panted for breath, holding on as long as possible before he came as well, whimpering against Johnís throat as he drove into him a final time.
John hugged Rodney to him with arms and legs, and he sighed in contentment, loving the sensation of Rodneyís body pressing him into the bed. "Great dessert."
"Yeah, you were," Rodney chuckled.
"My compliments to the chef."
"Your compliments need to go to the laundry because we just made a hell of a mess of our sheets."
"It was definitely worth it."
"Do you hear me arguing that?" Rodney grinned and leaned in to give John a leisurely kiss.
John finally lowered his legs back to the bed and sighed when the change of position made Rodney slip out of him. "Thatís definitely a lot more fun than working out in the gym."
"Not arguing that either! So, should we go clean up then curl up?"
"Sounds good. And I think Rover wants to change the sheets," John chuckled, nodding at the cart, who was waiting impatiently beside the bed.
Shaking his head, Rodney straightened up, holding his hand out for John to help him up as well. "What would we do without him?"
John looked at the bed and made a face. "Iím glad we donít have to find out. Thanks, Rover."
Rodney stroked a hand over the cartís housing, laughing when Rover wiggled and darted forward to drag the sheets off the bed. "You and Rover, John, thatís all I need."
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