Rodney looked up from his laptop when the door to the lab slid open, and he smiled when he saw John come in, looking flushed and happy. "Hey, I thought you were going for a run with Conan." Rover scooted out from under the bench and got between Rodney and John, making him frown. "Whatís gotten into you? This is John; do you need your optics cleaned?"
Ignoring Roverís odd behavior, John went around him, reaching for Rodney and pulling him into a hard kiss.
"Uh, John..." Rodney glanced around, grateful that it was only Atlantis veterans in the lab. "This might be better somewhere where Col. Caldwell canít walk in on us."
"If everyone would get out, we could lock the doors." John pressed him up against a lab table, pushing a leg between Rodneyís while Rover hovered beside them, clearly upset about something.
"People areóworkóJohn!" Rodney set his hands against the other manís chest and pushed, trying to ignore the way Johnís actions were turning him on. John just lowered his head to suck on the tender flesh of Rodneyís throat, marking him.
Eyes wide, Radek hastily herded everyone out of the lab with Rezaís help, locking the doors behind them once every one was out. "Take a lunch hour. Now," he told the other scientists.
Rover had sped after the others, attempting to grab the stragglers and pull them back, but when that failed, it rolled back and began banging against Johnís legs.
"What the hellís gotten into you?" Rodney gasped, collapsing back on the bench and grunting when John followed him.
"Stop that!" John growled, vaguely aware that the banging should have hurt, but his attention was on Rodney. "Gonna fuck you right here over the table," he rasped, reaching for Rodneyís belt.
"We doóow!--have a perfectly good bed; two of them in fact!" Rodney protested before deciding heíd better stop arguing because it was upsetting Rover.
"Too far. I want you now!" John yanked their pants down, groaning harshly with satisfaction when he felt the heat of Rodneyís skin against him.
"Um, okay, not arguing." Rodney stroked Johnís shoulders, hoping to calm him somewhat and wondering if heíd gotten into anything strange while on his run.
John straightened up and easily flipped Rodney around, bending him over the lab table while John pressed up against him. "All mine," he growled, leaning over to bite at the nape of Rodneyís neck.
"Oh fuck!" Rodney shuddered, resting his forehead on his arms and shivering, his erection pressed between his groin and the table.
"I intend to." John let Rodney feel his teeth sink a little deeper before he drew back. "Lube?" he grated out, fighting the urge just to bury himself inside Rodney. Rodney scrabbled for the hand lotion in the bench, not sure if John would stop even if he couldnít find any.
John let out a grunt of satisfaction and grabbed it, glaring down when Rover tried to push him away from Rodney. He squeezed some out, directly onto Rodney and pressed a finger into him to spread it, then coated his erection and pushed into him.
"Ow, fuck, Rover, Iím fine, calm down," Rodney hissed though in truth he really hadnít been ready for that, and his fingers dug into his palms as he tried to ride out the pain to get to the pleasure beyond it.
"God, you feel good," John grated out, his hands curling over Rodneyís shoulders to pull him back into his thrusts. Rodney nodded and winced, trying to get himself braced so that he could get in a position to enjoy this. Feeling him squirm, John forced himself to still and reached for the lotion again, squeezing more over where they were joined so that his next thrust was easier.
"Donít want to hurt you," he groaned.
"I appreciate that," Rodney gasped, spreading his legs wider and relaxing under Johnís weight, shivering as he settled more deeply into him.
"Oh God, so good, so hot and tight," John rasped, pressing into Rodney without moving for the moment.
"And so being squashed here!"
Surprised into a bark of laughter, John straightened up, pulling Rodney with him. The new position gave him easier access to Rodneyís cock and balls, which he took immediate advantage of. Rodney whimpered and leaned back, circling a hand behind Johnís neck to support himself as he was rocked back and forth between Johnís cock and his hand.
"So good," John repeated in a harsh whisper before lowering his head to bite and suck on the tender flesh in the hollow at the base of Rodneyís neck.
"God, John," Rodney panted, wondering on some level if this behavior was a leftover from the whole Atrucus incident but not wanting to ask the question for fear of it causing John to stop.
Feeling Rodney relax and start to move against him, John began to thrust again, still worrying at Rodneyís neck until he was sure that a large mark of his possession would be left. The low-level pain combined with Johnís hard thrusts and the tight grip on his cock didnít leave Rodney much room for control, and he shuddered, holding on for only minutes before he whimpered and came. The rippling spasms around his cock pushed John toward his own climax, and he only managed a few more strokes before biting down on Rodneyís shoulder to muffle his cry of completion.
"Whoa." Rodney let go of Johnís neck and slumped forward over the bench, grunting out a breath when the other manís weight slumped on top of him a second later.
John pushed himself up and carefully pulled out of Rodney before drawing him up into a kiss. He grinned smugly, and then suddenly his eyes widened, and he stared at Rodney in shock. "What the hell did I just do? My God, everyone was here; what was I thinking? Fuck, did I hurt you?"
"Huh?" Rodney blinked several times and started to lean back against the bench before his ass reminded him that it might not be such a good idea right now. "What the hell did you just do? Umm, John, I think you were here for it."
"Well, of course. But I practically attacked you. If the others hadnít left, I donít think I would have cared or let it stop me."
"Okay, thatís right up there on the strangeness scale. I mean I know I am irresistible but..." Rodney trailed off when Rover nudged him, offering a towel, then positioning itself squarely between them. "Itís okay, Rover; you donít have to do that."
He watched the cart, frowning, even as he cleaned himself up, silently relieved to see no blood on the cloth. "Maybe you should go see Carson again," he offered, as John was looking uncomfortable.
"I... yeah, I guess. Iíll see you at dinner." John left the lab, but he was feeling restless and instead of going to the infirmary, he turned the other way toward the gym where he knew Teyla would be working out. He needed to burn off some of this excess energy.
Rodney frowned as he stared at the door and slowly got dressed. The lab was silent, and he realized why then keyed his headset. "Radek, you all can come back in now; itís safe."
Shortly afterward, the scientists began to trickle back into the laboratory, many of them having taking advantage of the unscheduled break to grab a meal. Eyes darted to Rodney every so often, and soft snickers punctuated the normal sounds of working. Radek shrugged at Rodney. "What did you expect?"
"Nothing more than Iím getting. I am worried about John though. That was very uncharacteristic for himóin public, I mean."
Radek nodded. "I do not want to hear about private though! You think perhaps he is upset about the Wraith girl?"
"Maybe, I donít know, he really hasnít said anything about her. What about Carson? Howís he doing?"
"He is... Carson." Radek shrugged helplessly. "He is upset that she died, unhappy that it was his work that killed her, but he knows that it wasnít his fault. Still, another person dead because of his research makes for some sleepless nights."
"I can imagine." And Rodney could, all too well. "Itís a shame, all of it. With more time, Carson might have been able to come up with something that might have helped her."
"I know. I think that bothers him most of all. He wants to help everyone." Radek quirked a smile. "Did you know that he was trying to offer his help to the Wraith in the dart that caught you and Cadman? Itís fortunate the colonel was near enough to kill it before he got any closer. I didnít see it, of course, but I did hear about it."
"Insane voodoo maniac," Rodney chuckled. "Iím glad heís on our side."
"He is special, isnít he?" Radek agreed with a fond smile.
"Are you going to get all sappy on me?"
"At least I will not leave suspicious fluids on the bench!"
"Hmm? Shit!" Rodney spun around, but Rover was already cleaning the area. He flushed and cleared his throat. "That wasnít my fault. Tell me if Carson came in here and jumped you like that you wouldnít do the same thing."
"We were not discussing Carson and me," Radek said evasively, but the laughter in the blue eyes admitted the truth of it.
"You would and you know it!"
Radek grinned. "We were trying to decide what this does, yes?"
Relieved to leave the subject behind them, Rodney nodded. "Yes, getting back to workís a very good idea."
When Rodney and Rover came flying into the infirmary, John looked up with a wry smile that didnít hide his fear.
"Donít worry, John, Carsonís going to fix this, arenít you, Carson? Of course he is; thatís why heís here, to work his voodoo magic and fix the problem," Rodney babbled, moving to sit next to John only to be pushed back by Rover. "Damnit, Rover, stop it; this is still John!"
John watched Rover sadly. "You protect him," he whispered before looking up at Rodney again. "I think maybe youíd better listen to him."
"Stop it," Rodney hissed. "Donít you dare do this."
John raised his arm, letting Rodney get a look at the truly repulsive growth. "I donít think this is up to me, Rodney."
Rodney swallowed but reached out and touched the knobby, chitin-like growth. "I meant give up. You do that and Iím going to have to kick your ass, and itís so damn bony that Iíll hurt myself."
John chuckled at that. "I havenít heard you complaining about it before." But he quickly sobered. "Iím not giving up, Rodney, but you saw Ellia. If this continues, Iím going to become a danger to everyone around me. Youíll have to protect yourselves." His eyes went back to Rover with relief. "And I know youíll protect Rodney."
Rover rocked back and forth, clearly torn, before settling back into place.
"Ellia was a Wraith," Carson reminded them, "which more than likely sped up her reactions to the retrovirus."
Rodney nodded, his fingertips still tracing over the bumps on Johnís arm.
"But this proves that it is affecting me," John nodded at his arm. He sighed. "I really, really hate those bugs."
"You arenít the only one," Rodney muttered. "So, do you have to stay here, or can you go back to our room?"
They both looked at Carson, who glanced at Elizabeth and shrugged. "Right now I dinna see a reason to confine ye to the infirmary, Colonel. I will be checking in on ye and expect ye to contact me immediately if thereís any change. The dosage of the inhibitor should last several hours."
John nodded as he got to his feet. He glanced down warily at Rover, waiting to see if the cart would try to push him away from Rodney again.
"Carson, can I talk to you?" Rodney asked, sounding hesitant.
"Of course, Rodney, what do ye need to know?"
"Alone." Rodney shot a glance toward John then caught his hand and gave it a squeeze. "Just a few questions, Iíll be right back."
Though eager to get out of the infirmary, John shrugged and sat back down. "Iíll be here."
"You can head back to the rooms if you want; I know how you hate being in here."
"You sure?" When Rodney nodded, John got back to his feet, kissed him, and started out of the infirmary, hoping Rover would follow. He could use the company just then.
The cart rocked back and forth, and Rodney made a shooing motion with his hands. "Go with John, Rover; Iíll be fine." At that, Rover rolled forward, following John out of the infirmary.
After theyíd disappeared from sight, Carson turned to Rodney. "Whatís wrong, Rodney?"
"I need you to do a blood test on me."
Carson stilled. "Why?"
Rodney sighed. "John and I had sex. A few hours ago."
"Och, Rodney!" Sighing, Carson got a needle and vial. "Sit down then. Iíll run the test right away once Iíve the sample."
"Thank you, Carson." Rodney looked toward the door and pressed his lips together. "I donít think... there was no tearing if that helps."
"Och, Rodney," Carson said again, sympathy heavy in his voice. He placed a comforting hand on his friendís shoulder. "Itíll be near half an hour before I have the results. Do ye want to wait, or shall I call ye?"
Rodney hesitated. "Go ahead and call me; John doesnít need to be alone right now, especially wondering what I wanted to talk to you about."
Carson nodded, his fingers tightening on Rodneyís shoulder before letting go. "Iíll let ye know the moment I get the results."
"Thanks, Carson." Rodney turned and looked up, meeting Carsonís eyes. "I appreciate it." He tried for a smile that failed to form and walked out of the infirmary, his steps heavy with worry.
The moment he opened the door to their room, Rover scooted to his side, and Rodney sighed as he patted the cart, glancing around the room until he spotted John looking out the windows. "John?" he called, stepping around Rover to walk up behind him and wrap his arms around his waist. "I guess asking how youíre doing would be stupid."
"Iím apparently turning into a bug. That qualifies this for a very bad day even in Atlantis." John leaned back against him. "Are you okay? Did I... Did I infect you too?"
Knowing that denying that might have happened was futile, Rodney kissed Johnís throat. "Carsonís running the tests now. I highly doubt thatís the case, but right now Iím more concerned about you."
John turned in Rodneyís embrace to face him. "We never seem to catch a break, do we? Wraith, Genii, bugs, biological weapons, nanoviruses, retroviruses, UAs, itís always something." He leaned his forehead against Rodneyís, the hazel eyes closing as he slumped. "Iím tired, Rodney."
Rodney froze at hearing Johnís defeated tone, and he hugged him hard. "So lean on me; my egoís big enough to support us both for a while." As he spoke, he guided John over to the bed so they could sit.
John did lean on him. "How do you do it? Keep pulling off last-minute miracles that save the day? Hell, how did OíNeill and his team do it for nine years? Itís barely more than a year, and there are some mornings I wonder what the hell Iím playing at. Iím a pilot, but all these people are depending on me to keep them alive. Iím not doing such a great job at keeping myself intact!"
"They do it together," Rodney murmured, continuing to rub Johnís back. "Just like we do. Together weíre stronger, better; we can do more; we can survive more."
John finally raised his head to look at him. "I could have hurt you earlier. I almost did hurt you. I couldnít live with that, Rodney." He took a deep breath, trying to regain control. "Sorry to come apart on you like that." He managed a wry smile. "Suddenly it was all just too much. But I do know that itís not just me, that we work together."
Rodney shrugged. "I do it enough; I think youíre entitled. Oh, and by the way, you know what would hurt me? Losing you, so no more defeatist talk, got it?"
John smiled, albeit somewhat shakily. "No more giving up, yes sir!" He looked down at his arm. "But seriously, Rodney, if this goes much further, youíre going to have to stay away from me for your own safety. Iíll fight it, but you have to be okay too."
"You seriously think Iíll be okay if you arenít? If it comes to it, Iím going to fire up the damn stasis chamberóat least thatíll give Carson more time to find a cure."
"Just donít take any crazy risks if I get dangerous. When Carson fixes me, I expect to see you waiting beside my bed when I wake back up."
"If not in the bed with you!" Rodney hugged John tight and leaned in to kiss his temple. "Whatever it takes, John, thatís what Iíll do."
"We just have to hope Carson comes up with a cure."
"He always does." But neither of them met the otherís eyes, not wanting to see the fear.
"John?" Rodney stood inside the doorway to their room, hating the guard outside the door, but knowing he was necessary. "I heard what happened. If there was any way I could, Iíd talk Elizabeth into letting you come but..." He trailed off, knowing heíd lost a lot of credibility with her over the Arcturus Project incident.
John smiled crookedly, keeping his distance. "I think smashing her wall into little, tiny shards pretty much guaranteed that Iím not going anywhere.
"Just as well, I suppose." Rodney walked into the room, and the door slid shut behind Rover as the cart followed him, staying close. "Those bugs like you too much."
Johnís laugh was harsh, but it was still laughter. "I assure you itís not mutual."
"I assure you I feel the same way." Rodney caught John in a hug, forcing himself to ignore the strange texture of his right side under his shirt. "And so youíre not alone, Iím leaving Rover with you."
"What? No! Youíll need him with you. Going into that nest..." John shuddered at the thought. "We got lucky that I didnít infect you," he said, thinking of the sheer relief that had shown briefly on Rodneyís face when Carson had called him with the results of the blood test, "but Iíd rather not tempt fate by having you surrounded by those damn bugs!"
"Carsonís bringing Ciora, and Lorneís bringing a pair of crack shots, and then thereís Teyla and Dex; Iíll be perfectly safe."
"I hate you going without me!" John burst out.
"Not too thrilled about it myself, but itís the best damn chance of getting you better, so Iím going to do whatever it takes!"
John finally nodded sharply and tightened his arms around Rodney in a quick, fierce hug. "Be careful."
"You too." Rodney leaned back, staring into Johnís eyes, then kissed him tenderly before standing to crouch down beside Rover. "You watch out for him, understand?"
Rover rocked in place, clearly not happy about remaining behind while Rodney went into danger. John watched him and couldnít even touch him to try to comfort him. Ever since this had started, Rover had kept his distance.
"Rover, please," Rodney whispered, stroking the cart and giving an anguished look back over his shoulder.
Rover leaned into the touch and crept around Rodney, moving slowly to the bedside to stop near John, clearly nervous in his presence.
John managed a pained smile. "I guess youíd better hurry, or he wonít be able to stand being in the same room with me by tomorrow." Hurt was clear in his voice.
Rover shuddered again but pressed against Johnís leg in apology.
"By tomorrow, this will be fixed," Rodney promised, leaning in to kiss John a final time. "Time to go on an egg hunt."
"Be careful," John said again before sinking back onto the bed after Rodney left. "I hate this!" he groaned, his hands fisting at his sides. He looked down at Rover and smiled sadly. "Itís okay; you donít have to stay so close."
Rover rubbed up against the bed frame, making a groaning noise, and shuddered but didnít move.
"Thanks." John reached down to pat Rover, hesitated, and drew his hand back without touching the cart.
Rover slumped and reached out and patted Johnís thigh with one closed pincer.
"Theyíll be back soon with a cure. They have to be."
"You really think your cartís going to be able to get in there and get the eggs, Doc?" Lorne asked.
"I dinna see why she shouldnít be able to; itís well within her capabilities." Carson sounded highly insulted on Cioraís behalf, and he stroked a hand over her housing as he crouched beside her. "Now then, love, I need for ye to fill this container with eggs, then come back. Ye can do that easily." The cart gave an ecstatic shimmy and rubbed up against Carson.
"Those things are insane," Ronon grumbled.
"If Ciora can obtain the samples, she will have saved us much danger," Teyla answered mildly.
"I sometimes wonder if I didnít go batshit the first time I went through the gate, and this is all some crazy delusion," Lorne muttered. "Sentient carts! Too weird."
"Would you rather go in and get the samples, Major?" Rodney asked dryly.
"I never said that!" Lorne replied hastily. "Carts away."
"Now then, love, thereís a girl," Carson encouraged, sending Ciora into the cave and following behind so that he could assist her if she got stuck.
"And here we go, into the dangerous, deadly situation again," Rodney grumbled, though his voice broke on the last words.
Teyla reached over to put a hand on his shoulder. "We will get what Dr. Beckett needs to cure Col. Sheppard."
"If only to keep you from whining," Ronon muttered.
"This isnít working."
"Ciora. The bugs are swarming her."
"Then weíre going to have to go in," Lorne said.
"I should have brought Rover."
"If they swarmed one, theyíd swarm both. We have to do this."
Ronon cocked his gun. "So letís do it."
"Dr. McKay, you should go and speak to Col. Sheppard first."
Rodney plopped his spoon into his oatmeal and stared at the congealing mass. "Iím not sure I can."
Elizabeth placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You may not get another chance, Rodney."
"That means weíve given up, weíve failed," he whispered.
Her fingers tightened, but there was nothing she could say to change it.
Rodney nodded, his complexion paling as he set his bowl down and stood. "Iíll get you when Iím done," he whispered to Teyla and Ronon.
They only nodded, letting him leave without having to say anything more.
Feeling as if he was operating in a gravity well, Rodney walked toward the curtained-off area and sat down on the chair beside the bed. Rover pressed up against his leg, shivering and obviously fighting not to push between Rodney and the bed, and he reached down to stroke the cartís housing, steeling himself for this.
Even though John wasnít conscious, he could only hope that the other man could hear him and know he was there. Leaving one hand on Rover, he reached out with the other and twined his fingers with Johnís, the scaly, chitin-like growths that covered him making Rodneyís skin crawl.
"This shade of blue looks really bad on you," he whispered, his voice breaking as he leaned closer to the bed, watching Johnís too still form, and, for a moment, felt a surge of hate for the Pegasus Galaxy, the Wraith, and even Carson for contributing to this.
"We havenít given up yet, so donít think that we have. The damn stasis chamber... Radek and I are working on itóon getting it fixed, and Carsonís team is looking at alternative therapies."
Rodneyís voice broke again, and he closed his eyes, sitting there silently, even breathing painful at this moment. "If something happens to you, I donít know if I can stay here," he finally admitted. "It would hurt too much, and you know me; I donít like pain." He gasped out a laugh that sounded more like a sob.
"I wish Iíd had a chance to tell you what youíve done for me, how much youíve given me." Rodney traded hands, moving the one that had been on Johnís hand to his hair, stroking the familiar, spiky strands, and grasping Johnís hand with the one that had been on Rover. "How much you changed me and how much I..."
He gave in and rested his head on Johnís shoulder, hating the fact that he even smelled foreign now. Tears pricked his eyes, and he closed them, willing the sign of weakness away. "How much I love you."
The next time John was aware of himself, he opened his eyes to find Carson and Elizabeth standing over him in the infirmary. Vague memories filled his mind, and the first thing he said was, "Did I hurt anyone?"
Reassured that he hadnít caused any serious injuriesóand if he survived this, he was going to find out about the not-serious onesóhe listened as they explained the situation. So it seemed his fate was in his own hands again. Time was at a premium since the shot would only last for a short time, but there was something he had to do first.
"I need a moment with Rodney."
Sorrow filled their eyes, but Elizabeth and Carson nodded and left the room, sending the scientist in.
John looked at him and at Rover positioned protectively between them and tried to smile. "I did hear you, Rodney. It was distant, like in a dream, and I couldnít answer you, but I need you to know that I heard you, and I know, and I love you too. Whatever happens, remember that."
"John..." Rodney swallowed against the tightness in his throat. "I know, I will." He took a deep breath, trying to concentrate on the task at hand and not how much he wanted to scream. "And youíre wasting time, so get your ass out of bed, Colonel."
Nodding, John got up, trying to ignore the odd way he felt and the strange impulses that filled his head like background noise. "Letís do it."
It had been close, closer than John cared to think about, but heíd gotten the eggs and made his way back out of the cave before completely losing control, and his team had stopped him before he got away. And now, with Carsonís help, he was on his way back to normal.
Heíd apologized to Elizabeth and to Teyla, and now he had to see the one who really mattered. He walked into their room, relieved to find him there. "Rodney?"
"John." Rodneyís smile was broad and genuine. "Did Carson actually let you go?" As he spoke, Rover darted forward and rubbed against Johnís legs, plucking at his trousers with one pincer as if to assure himself it was really him.
John grinned at both of them, crouching down to pat Rover. "Yeah, itís me. Almost completely back to normal." He looked up at Rodney again. "He let me out about an hour ago. I stopped to apologize to Elizabeth and Teyla, and now Iím home again."
"No." Rodney stood and walked over to him, edging around Rover to take John into his arms, hugging him tightly. "Now youíre home."
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