Notes: We wanted to write a response to one of Ghostforgeís challenges, and then we needed to write the other half of it from the other universeís perspective, and now of course, we need to see what happened in the other universe after Maj. Sheppard got home.

The Wrong Side of the Looking Glass III
On the Other Side

Orithain and Rina

May 2007

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

The blinding blue light of the rift died away, and Rodney blinked a few times to clear the spots from his eyes, telling himself that was why his vision was blurry. When he finally focused on the area in front of the stargate, he thought for a moment that something had gone wrong, then he noticed the different clothes, black pants and t-shirt rather than Air Force blues, the fact that Eva was gone, and the defensive, almost defiant posture of the man standing there.

Trying not to imagine just how, once again, he was being compared to another Rodney McKay, he stepped away from the computer console and tried to smile. "Maj. Sheppard, I presume?"

John stared back at him, taking in the longer hair, slightly pudgier build and paler skin, along with the lack of the familiar uniform, not to mention the two strangers standing behind Rodney, and he nodded. "Pleased to meet you, RoóDr. McKay."

Rodney released a breath he didnít realize heíd been holding and fought to keep from squirming under the intense scrutiny even as he looked for physical differences between this John and the colonel. "It workedónot that I had any doubts that it would, butówell, welcome home."

"Iím Daniel Jackson," the man standing next to him said, offering his hand and a warm smile. "And this is Dr. Catherine Langford. I suppose you could say the four of us are the fledgling SGC."

John nodded to the two archeologists and held up a flash drive. "Rodney sent back copies of all the relevant information from the SGCís and Atlantisí mission reports. And this one," he pulled another stick out of his pocket, "has his and Zelenkaís ZPM research. He said youíd probably want to figure it out yourself, but itís here anyways." He handed the second drive to Rodney while managing to avoid meeting his eyes.

"Oh." Rodney took the slim rectangle and stuck it in his shirt pocket. "All I sent was a cat."

"And the colonel. Heíd rather have him than anything," John replied wistfully.

"Yes, well, he wanted to go home more than anything, soóhere we are." Rodney glanced over at Daniel and Catherine, silently pleading for some help.

"Weíll need to go through the information youíve brought back before we decide what to do next," Catherine said, taking the other flash drive. "John told us a lot of what to watch out for, but this will have all the details. And I imagine they told you a lot too," she added, eyeing John covetously.

Suddenly nervous, John backed up a step, unconsciously moving closer to Rodney. "Digging my brain out wouldnít help," he told her warily. "Thereís much more information in the files."

"And I think we need to give the major some time to reacclimatize," Rodney added, moving forward, putting himself between Catherine and the newcomer. "Heís not going anywhere."

"Nope, Iím back where I belong. And Iím more than happy to share what I learned in the other reality," John said, staying behind Rodney.

"I think we can give the major time to eat and shower," Daniel chuckled, and Rodney nodded.

"Heís been through enough already."

"Itís been a very... eventful day," John agreed.

"Quite understandable," Rodney commented, glancing back at him. "Weíre all staying at a hotel nearby, if youíd like to go there?"

"That sounds good. Itís good to be back on Earth," John said, looking around.

"Colorado. Youíre in Colorado; Cheyenne Mountain to be exact."

"Where their SGC is," John said. "And where the four of us have to convince our government to start a stargate program."

"Governments," Rodney commented, and they all looked at him. "Canadian here, remember?"

"You want to start off with a multinational committee?" John asked. "Weíll never get anything accomplished!"

"Oh, and leaving it to your lovely warhawk government will really get the show on the road!"

"Yes, Rodney," John sighed, the words sounding like something heíd said often.

"Besides, according to what the colonel said, the people we need are from many different countries."

John nodded. "You definitely need Zelenka. You and he bounce ideas off each other to the point that you finish each otherís sentences when you actually bother to finish them. Itís interesting to watch. And youíll need Carson for the ATA gene research so youíll be able to activate Ancient technology."

Rodney nodded at that, his movements sharp and brittle. "Yes, the colonel left a list of the people he considered critical and what heíd been able to find about them here."

"Reasonable," John said, looking anywhere but at Rodney. "Some of the other departments included some of their research as well, like Carsonís work on the gene and his anti-Wraith experiments, Elizabeth and Dr. Jacksonís work on the Ancient language..."

"Helpful," Daniel said, looking eager to get started. "Oh, Major, the colonel left a personal message for you on the laptop. You can take it into one of the other rooms if youíd like to view it."

Looking startled, John said, "Maybe a little later. I need to get used to being back in this world again before I deal with more of that one."

"Thatís very understandable," Catherine offered though she was frowning as she watched the very visible strain between McKay and the major. "Would you like to get some rest now or perhaps something to eat?"

John chuckled wryly. "No, Rodney made sure I ate before we did this, although I think feeding me was an afterthought to his own meal. Iím ready to get to work. Oh!" A thought struck him. "Did the colonel say how long a leave I have? I need to know when Iím supposed to be back at McMurdo."

"You still have a little over a week," Catherine reassured him, "but Iíve already started the paperwork to work on a project here and have you transferred to it."

"I, uh, okay," John said, once again appearing somewhat taken aback.

"Unless youíd rather go back," Rodney commented, his chin jutting forward defiantly.

"What? Oh, no, of course not," John said hastily. "I was just surprised that youíd gotten that far already. Iím looking forward to going through the gate again."

"Why are you so surprised at that fact? We were able to create the micro-breech that brought you back."

"Yes, I noticed that," John replied dryly. "I meant that I was surprised you got to the point of trying to get personnel assigned. And for the record, I want Lorne."

"Physically or professionally?" Rodneyís tone was just as dry.

Johnís eyes shot to Rodneyís, and he laughed wryly. "My taste runs the same as the colonelís," he admitted. "I want Lorne as my second... well, actually, I guess he wonít be my second since Iím sure theyíll want a colonel in charge here."

"Who could be more qualified than you?" Catherine asked. "Youíve been to Atlantis; you have firsthand knowledge of what weíll find there."

While she spoke, Rodney turned away to unhook the ZPM and set it back in its case, then shut down his laptop, trying to ignore the hollow feeling in his stomach at hearing that, just like the colonel, the major wanted the other him without even giving him a chance.

Watching, John felt his hopes die as it became clear that this Rodney wasnít interested in a substitute for Col. Sheppard either. He turned away, not responding to Dr. Langfordís comment, and Daniel tried to fill in the sudden awkward silence.

"Why donít we show you the room weíre thinking of using to hold the stargate," he offered.

"Sounds good. Iím guessing Col. Sheppard told you where it was in his reality?"

"Yes, but that doesnít mean we have to house it there," Daniel chuckled.

"You have a lot of places big enough for it?" John asked in surprise. "And that can be secured, though Iím hoping we wonít be invaded quite as often."

"That room is the most obvious choice," Rodney cut in from behind him.

"The same one as the other SGC uses? Yeah, I thought so," John agreed.

"We canít do anything about moving the stargate until we get more staff, but itís empty, so thatís the first thing done."

"At least we donít need a dialing computer since we have the DHD, which puts us way ahead of the SGC at the start."

"Yes, that set up sounded massively inefficient."

"Well, it did get them through the gate without the DHD," John pointed out.

"Well, hooray for them."

John flinched almost imperceptibly and turned to Daniel, saying something about the symbols on the gate, and Rodney picked up his cases.

"Iím going to go take a nap," he announced. "Iíll see you all back at the hotel."

Johnís disappointment was visible on his face for a moment before he got his expression under control and turned back to Daniel. "Oh, did the colonel leave a key to his, my hotel room for me?" he asked.

"Oh hell." Daniel glanced over at Catherine, who had turned to watch Rodney leave. "Weíll have to get another keyóto another room, I suppose."

Johnís eyebrows rose. "Another room?"

"Yes, another room."

"Whatís wrong with the room he was using? Itís not as if the managementís going to know Iím a different person."

Catherine sighed. "He was sharing a room with Dr. McKay."

"There are two beds," Daniel said quickly.

"What, the colonel wasnít satisfied with one McKay; he had to have both?" John bit out, looking both angry and disappointed. "So much for the great adventure."

"Maybe you should watch the message he left you," Daniel suggested. "You could use the room weíve set aside as an office."

After a moment in which Daniel just stared at him, John shrugged and headed for the office to listen to the colonelís pearls of wisdom. He sat down, his feet up on the desk, and quickly found and launched the file, tensing somewhat at the first sight of the man on the screen.

They really did look identical, even more so than the two McKays, the only real difference being the colonelís darker tan... and more of a sense of being at ease in his own skin. John frowned.

"Look, John, I know youóliterally, I know you," the colonel said on the screen with a wry smile. "Right now, youíre pissed at me for meeting him first, both of them actually, but I have my life and my Rodney, and this oneís yours if you donít screw it up. Heís so damn prickly he makes a hedgehog look snuggly, which you may have discovered on Atlantis, although mine isnít as bad as he was before he found where he fit in. But youíre going to have to work to get him to open up to you, and having both of you meet the other versions of yourselves, me and my Rodney that is, before you actually met isnít going to help. But heís worth it, and unless youíre a lot more different from me than I think, you know that.

"Heís yours, and youíll both figure that out eventually, just like youíre his. And for the record," here the colonel leaned closer to the camera, "nothing happened. We kissed, thatís it. Heís not going to be comparing us. So donít let him push you away while youíre both dealing with all of this. Be friends first."

The colonel straightened up, snapping off a crisp salute. "Good luck, Major. I look forward to the day we can talk to each other and you both can tell us all that youíve accomplished here. I hope the files I left and that I presume Rodney sent back with you help."

The file ended, and John slowly relaxed in his seat, considering the colonelís words. He had a feeling that his alternate had been indulging in wishful thinking, but maybe, just maybe, it could work. And Rodney was fun to be around, so friendship was definitely something to try for.

Rodney cursed himself the whole drive back to the hotel, both for behaving as he had and for daring to hope what John had told him was true, that he and the major were destined for more together. "Well, that obviously isnít going to happen," he muttered as he pulled into the parking lot and stomped out of the car, pausing only to grab his laptop and the case that held the ZPM.

The room was silent and dark when he entered it, and without the colonel or Eva he felt lost. Avoiding looking at the bed nearest the windows, he reached into his pocket for the flash drive the major had brought with him and plugged it into one of the ports on his laptop, turning to work to avoid thinking of the fact that the major felt as the colonel had: the other Rodney McKay was the one for them.

He scrolled through the files on the laptop, picking random ones to read, impressed despite himself at the work he saw there. When he opened a file named ĎSchematicsí, however, the media player opened, and he found himself staring atówell, himself, though it was a version with shorter hair and, he had to admit, that looked fitter and happier.

"Donít you dare turn this off," the other Rodney ordered, pointing a finger at the screen. "And yes, I know you want to because Iím you. Iím going to keep this short because neither of us is the touchy feely type, but I want you to hear one thing and believe it. This is your chance; donít let it slip away, personally or professionally.

"Yes, having met the colonel and I first doesnít make it easy, just like I know our meeting both of you wasnít easy, but donít give up, and most of all, donít shut him out. You two need each other and togetherówell, thereís nothing in the universe that can stop you."

The other Rodney paused at that and tugged at the hem of his black shirt. "Right now heís as confused as you are, partially because, I slipped, but all we did was kiss; and if youíre anything like me, Iím betting you and the colonel did at least that; I swear, the man has the libido ofóhell, I donít know, something libidinous!

"Anyway, this confessional is wasting drive space that should be used for better things, so Iíll leave you with this thought: we started as friends; start there, and if all else fails, kiss the idiot! It generally worksóYes, yes, I know, Radek, Iím coming! Oh, and donít go to Doranda or PX4-Y39, or MX7-37Z because of the bugsóyes, the symbols are on the driveóor Proculus!"

Rodney stared at the screen as the other version of him leaned forward to shut off a camera, ending the file, and when the screen went black, he leaned back in the chair to stare at the ceiling. "God, you talk a lot," he muttered, before sighing, not sure if the other Rodney was right but willing to give the being friends thing a go, at least until the major gave up.

He looked up at the sound of the door opening and scrambled to his feet when Daniel walked into the room, followed by the major. "Catherine went to lie down," he said in response to Rodneyís look.

"And we have a bit of a problem," John added. "I know youíre not happy to have me in place of him, but thereís a convention, and there arenít any other rooms and Col. Perfect forgot to reserve one, so I have to stay here."

Rodney sat up straighter and opened his mouth to fire back an insult but stopped himself and took a deep breath. "Well then, I suppose weíll have to share."

"Are you two going to kill each other, or is it all right if I go?" Daniel asked.

"Iíll do my best to avoid inciting him to violence," John replied dryly. "Feel free to make a break for it."

"I am!" Daniel chuckled, ducking out the door.

"Violence?" Rodney asked.

"It was a joke," John said wearily.

"Oh, yes, well, I can imagine the thought of me trying to commit violence on you would be amusing." Rodney flashed a quicksilver smile that felt uncomfortable.

"Oh, I donít know; the other Rodney routinely threw things at me," John chuckled, trying for an ease neither of them felt.

"Perhaps I should stock up on an assortment of missiles thenóand you can sit down; Iím not going to bite you."

"Just trying not to push," John replied, moving to the bed that seemed unoccupied and sitting on the edge.

"Thereís soda in the mini fridge if you want something or bourbon on the desk," Rodney offered, glancing away for a moment before sighing. "All right, this is stupid; how about we pretend we just metówhich we did actually."

John nodded with a rueful smile. "I think this is worse than when I got to Atlantis and everyone acted like they knew me, but I didnít know them. I keep feeling like I do know you, but I know I donít."

"I guess this is how they felt. It was easier for us, I suppose; you donít have to work as hard, if they think they know you and like you."

"And now weíre both in that position." John sighed as he swung his feet up onto the bed and leaned back against the pillows. "I guess a major never stacks up to a colonel."

"What do you mean by that?" Rodney asked, frowning slightly. "Itís not your fault you havenít done the things he has."

John shrugged, not meeting Rodneyís eyes. "And thatís why youíd rather have a guy you knew for a month and who was in love with someone else? I always seem to be second best."

"Look whoís talking! As if you donít feel the same, I donít know why I even listened to him in the first place!" Rodney exclaimed. "Shown up by yourself, well, if anyone could do it, I would suppose it would be him." Rodney hunched in on himself and looked away.

"What are you talking about? So what if he figured out how to ping or whatever the hell it was; you started with nothing and managed a damn miracle."

"What am I talking aboutówhat are you talking about?" Rodney sputtered.

"Iím talking about the fact that youíre so damn obsessed with the colonel that youíd toss me through the gate yourself if you thought it would bring him back. Just like him," John added bitterly.

"Excuse me? What about the fact that I bet you wouldnít have gone through it if you could stay with him!" Rodney shot back. "And like I would have kept anyone here who didnít want to be with me. Iím a lot of things, but a kidnapper isnít one of them!"

"I would not have stayed!" John snapped. "He didnít want me; he wanted him. I donít want a man who wants someone else."

"And you think I feel any different!"

"Thatís what... Wait a minute." John sat up and stared at him. "You donít want the colonel?"

Rodney flushed and stammered at that. "Iíll admit I was attracted to him, who wouldnít be when someone knows you so well, but I was never the one he wanted, he was." There was a look of stunned realization on his face as he spoke.

John frowned. "Then what was all that about when I got here?"

"All what? You looked at me and it was very obvious that I wasnít the person you wished to see."

"Well, maybe it was obvious to you, but it wasnít what I was feeling. Sure, I looked at you, and I couldnít help taking note of the differences. Youíre not the same person," John shrugged. "And I thought that might be a good thing."

"Why?" Rodney asked, frowning as he tried to follow the twists and turns of this conversation.

"Because even when he looked at me and saw me and knew I wasnít him, he still felt that I was. I thought maybe youíd just see me."

"Well, thatís something we have in common at least," Rodney murmured. "So, here we are."

John sat up. "Why donít we try this again?

"Hi, Iím John Sheppard. Itís nice to meet you." He extended a hand to Rodney.

Rodney bit his lip, then offered a crooked grin as he shook Johnís. "Dr. Rodney McKay, itís good to meet you too, John."

Johnís grin matched Rodneyís. "Would you like to go get a drink?"

"In the bar here?"

"It seems nice enough, and it has the advantage of being close."

Rodney eyed him closely. "Are you sure youíre not trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me?"

"Well, I wasnít, but now that you mention it..."

"Nice try, but you shouldnít tell people about your plans in advance," Rodney chuckled. "And we need food as well; Iím starving."

"Is the restaurant downstairs any good, or should we try somewhere else?"

"Itís always crowded, over-priced, under-staffed, and the food is barely edible," Rodney sniffed.

John eyed him oddly for a moment before smiling slowly. "Then how Ďbout we go find the best restaurant in town and celebrate the beginning of the SGC?"

"Right... should we invite the soft scientists?"

"Oh. I suppose we should," John said, clearly reluctant.

"Though Daniel did say that Catherine was resting, and heíd probably want to stay with her..." Rodney mused.

"We can all go out for dinner another time. I could use a quiet night to get used to being back."

Rodney nodded at that. "So, by best restaurant in town, did you mean taste wise or price wise?"

"Before I answer that, tell me what your favorite meal is?"

"Basil shrimp wrapped with duck prosciutto, new potatoes and spinach catalan."

"In that case, taste wise."

"Do you like steak?í

"Of course." John waited to hear what Rodney would suggest.

"If you donít have a prejudice against chains, Ruthís Cris always has good beef." Rodney glanced at his bowling shirt and jeans. "Though we might want to change."

"Iíll have to see if I have anything I can wear. Since I didnít actually pack anything myself."

"Iím not sure whatís in your bags." Rodney offered another smile. "Iíll go clean up and change, and you can figure out what you have."

"Sounds good. I could use a good meal of things I can actually identify," John said wryly.

"That comment doesnít fill me with warm fuzzies regarding the food situation in the Pegasus galaxy..."

John laughed. "Most of it was pretty good, but Iíd avoid the eggs. And weíll have the advantage of having two-way gate travel once we get a second ZPM, so we wonít have to rely on local supplies or supply runs on the Daedalus, which doesnít even exist here."

"Just the thought of these contradictions is giving me a headache," Rodney groaned, though his eyes were alight with laughter, something he hadnít thought possible. "Letís deal with our own reality."

"Itíll be a nice change after the last month. Maybe we could play a game of chess later?" John suggested.

"Chess? I donít have a set with me, but I suppose we could get one while weíre out..."

"It could be fun." As they talked, John went over to the closet and spotted a garment bag that he recognized. "Hmm, looks like I might have something more than jeans."

"Well, Iíll leave you to your browsing then." Rodney grabbed a change of clothes from a drawer, then ducked into the bathroom.

Once the door shut behind Rodney, John checked the bag, which turned out to contain his dress blues, but the rest of the closet held jeans, khakis, shirts, and a sports jacket. "Hey, dress uniform or pants and jacket?" he called.

"Pants and a jacket is fine," Rodney called over the sound of running water.

"Okay." John quickly changed clothes and ran his fingers through his hair. "Ready whenever you are."

Rodney emerged dressed in khakis, a light blue shirt and navy jacket, his hair damp and curling against the back of his neck. "And that would be now. Let me tell Daniel where weíre going, and then we can head out."

John nodded. "Sounds good. Ever since you mentioned steak, my stomach is looking for it."

"Then youíd better stick to water, or you might be under the table before the food arrives." Rodney stepped into his loafers and tugged at his jacket. "All right. Ready?"

"Right behind you." John smiled, feeling almost nervous about this dinner.

"The weatherís changing here," Rodney commented as they walked outside. "Though compared to McMurdo, I suppose this is balmy."

"True, but I had a parka there," John pointed out.

"Well, if we stay here, weíre all going to need them."

"Yeah, Colorado isnít exactly the tropics," John agreed, looking up at the sky as they walked. "Itís nice to recognize the constellations again."

"Do you mind me asking what it was like there?" Rodney asked as they climbed into his rental car.

"It was beautiful. I loved it, but it felt just a bit off, you know? The days are slightly longer than weíre used to, so I was never quite sure what time it was, but the city itself... Itís incredible. Thereís so much to learn there... and so much the Ancients just left lying around that can kill. Theyíve lost a lot of people, even excluding the ones killed by the Wraith." John shook his head. "And none of them would want to be anywhere else."

"Just so you know, the whole idea of going to another galaxy to face vampire catfish people scares me to death."

"Well, I wonít kill the Caretaker, so weíll have a few decades to figure out how to destroy them before they come after us like theyíre doing in the other Atlantis."

"Why do I feel like they would have given us an ĎAtlantis for Dummiesí if they could have?" Rodney snorted.

John laughed. "Because they would have. Although I think they see it as a way to redeem their mistakes, make them mean something by using the knowledge theyíve gained painfully to save us from making them. And no, Iím not that eloquent," he admitted with a chuckle. "Itís something Elizabeth said to me."

"Elizóah, Dr. Weir. Catherine has been in contact with her; weíre hoping she can be on board before all the talks with the government start."

"Sheíd be good to have; everyone respects her. And despite what I said earlier, I think it might be good to have civilian control from the beginning here. We obviously need the military, but Iíd rather have Elizabeth in charge than any of the COs Iíve had in the past."

"Having worked with the military on numerous occasions, Iím not arguing thatóno insult intended."

"None taken. From what I saw in the other universe, the only military personnel who really thrived in the stargate program were the ones who were misfits everywhere else."

Rodney glanced over at him and frowned slightly. "Donít sell yourself short; adaptability is a gift, not a curse."

"A month ago I would have laughed at you," John said slowly, "but now... Youíre right. I saw what the colonel accomplished, Gen. OíNeill, Maj. Lorne, Lt. Cadman, so many others, some of whom I actually had met here, and every one of them was a decorated officer in that reality because they were doing something that mattered, something that used their talents. We need to do that."

"And we will." Rodney nodded forcefully at that.

John looked over at him. "So, once weíre up and running, are you going to be on my team?"

"Damn right I am," Rodney shot back. "Someone has to keep you going in the right direction."

"My sense of direction is perfectly fine!" John growled.

"Which way are we going now?"

"Away from the hotel."

"In relation to the compass?"

"Are we using global positioning to get there? No, well, then what difference does it make?" John grumbled, and Rodney snickered.

"That answered that question."

"Ha ha. So obviously the perfect colonel wasnít perfect," he muttered.

"Pardon me?" Rodney asked.

"Well, I assume from the previous conversation that he has no sense of direction."

"Obviously, and neither do you, it seems."

"I do so!"

"Then what direction are we going!" Rodney asked again.


Rodney snickered and glanced up at the sun, which was setting in front of them. "You were in a different galaxy, so Iíll give you the benefit of the doubt."

"Oh, just drive."

"Yes, Major," Rodney laughed.

"Just remember those words."

"Why? Do you plan on my saying them often?"

John grinned at him. "What do you think?"

"That you can try." Rodney tilted his head to the side and smirked.

"Itís always good to have a goal."

"And yours is learning west from north?" Rodney suggested as they pulled into the parking lot.

"I foresee a lot of hiking in your future," John growled, but his hazel eyes were sparkling with laughter.

"And I foresee you being very wrong!" Rodney laughed.

"Team leader here."

"Of what?" Rodney asked as he got out of the car. "If you want to play it that way, Iím head scientist of the SGC!" He was grinning as he spoke, however.

"And Iím the military leader, well, at least till they bring in someone senior," John said a little wistfully.

"Hey, Iím the pessimist here."

"I wish it could be otherwise, but Iím just a major. The SGC is under the command of a general. Even with civilian oversight, they wonít go down to a major. I might manage XO."

"Out of curiosity, just who else in the military has been to Atlantis?"

"The military is not known for logic," John pointed out, tacitly admitting Rodneyís point. "Rank is too beloved."

"Rank can be stuck up their asses."

John laughed. "Good luck with that." He followed Rodney inside the restaurant.

"Luck has nothing to do with it," Rodney assured him before requesting a table for two from the host.

"Well, if nothing else, itís going to be entertaining watching you go head to head with the US Armed Forces," John said wryly.

"Are you planning on bringing in popcorn to watch?" Rodney asked as they followed the host to a table near a large stone fireplace.

"I may even sell tickets. I could probably make enough to retire in comfort." John sat down and looked around. "Nice."

"For a chain, itís not bad," Rodney allowed. "If we were in Vegas, I could show you some places so good it would make you weep."

"Well, maybe sometime when we get a few days off," John said easily. "In the meantime, this is good. Itís a fairly high-end chain."

"True." Rodney glanced up as a waiter approached. "Scotch on the rocks," he said, giving his order.

"Bourbon, straight up," John added when the waiter looked at him. After heíd moved away, John smiled at Rodney. "Thanks. I didnít realize how much I needed this."

"This as in what?" Rodney asked, looking at him closely.

"A normal night in our world, in a public place with people I donít know and have never seen before, relaxing with someone I can talk to, all of it."

"You can relax around me?" Rodneyís tone held a bit of wonder as did his smile. "Well, I suppose Iím one of the few people who can understand what youíve been through."

John nodded. "And if youíll forgive the comparison, Iím going to guess that you probably have the same sense of humor as the other Rodney, and that clicks with mine. And even when you were pissed at me earlier, you didnít judge me."

Rodneyís smiled firmed slightly at that. "I think youíre the first person who ever said that."

John shrugged. "So maybe we bring out the best in each other. The other Rodney said he and his Sheppard did. It sounded pretty good."

"Thatís what the colonel said," Rodney murmured. "I suppose thatís part of what I liked so much, someone who could understand and relate."

"Maybe trying it with someone who also happens to be from the some universe isnít such a bad idea," John suggested.

The waiter brought their drinks, and Rodney looked at his, studying the warm amber liquid before raising his eyes to meet Johnís gaze again. "So, hereís to relating to someone from the same universe," he offered.

"Iíll drink to that," John said, raising his glass in a toast as he looked into blue eyes that for the first time didnít seem to be looking for something else when they looked at him.

"Glad to hear it," Rodney smiled before taking a drink. "So, do you jog?"

"Every day, if I can. And Iím going to keep bugging you to try it with me."

Rodney groaned. "Why?"

"Because I like company and itís good for you."

"Heart attacks are good for me?"

"No, getting into better shape so you donít have a heart attack is."

"Were you a drill instructor in another life?" Rodney grumbled before taking a sip of his scotch."

"No, but it has possibilities."

"The second you scream at me to Ďdrop and give you twentyí is the second I beat you on the head with my laptop."

"You would never take the chance of damaging your laptop," John laughed.

"I have the information backed up," Rodney threatened.

"But not another machine to work on," John pointed out.

"Iíll make do."

The waiter came up to ask if they were ready to order, heard the conversation and went back the way he came without saying a word, making John burst into laughter.

"You scared him away!" Rodney announced, though he was trying not to laugh himself.

"It was your homicidal tendencies that scared him!" John retorted.

"You brought them out, and if he expects any kind of tip, heíd better get his ass back here quickly." Rodney couldnít help but give a crooked grin at the banter.

"Be nice to the man whoís going to bring us food, Rodney."

"Only if he gets enough courage to approach us again."

"Keep your hands away from the knives and we might have a better chance."

"Iím not touching the knives!" Rodney protested. "And what do you want as an appetizer?"

Looking up from the menu, John said, "It all sounds great, but I think Iíll have the veal osso buco ravioli. How Ďbout you?"

"Iíll have the barbecued shrimp," Rodney commented as the waiter returned, his pen and pad held before him.

"Very good, sir," the waiter replied, writing it down along with Johnís order. "Would you like to order your entrees now or wait?"

John raised an eyebrow at Rodney.

"We donít have a curfew to meet," Rodney shrugged.

"So letís take our time and enjoy the appetizers before ordering the next course."

"You heard the man." Rodney waved a hand at the waiter. "Shoo, weíll order more later."

John laughed once the waiter was on his way. "Shoo? We need to enroll you in Tact and Diplomacy 101."

"You can handle the tact; Iíll deal with the idiots who need straight talking."

"Oh God, Iíd better stock up on the ammunition," John moaned, but his eyes were full of laughter.

"Ha ha," Rodney sniffed, though he was fighting to keep from grinning.

"Be nice to the man whoís going to be watching your six," John teased.

"My six? Translation please for the un-military."

"Your back," John chuckled. "Itís based on a clock. Twelve oíclock directly ahead, three to your right, six behind you, nine to your left."

"Ahh, so in other words, youíre watching my ass."

"Well, it is a nice ass..."

Rodney flushed and cleared his throat. "Thank you, I suppose."

"Itís my pleasure."

"Not just yours." Rodney took a quick gulp of his drink.

Johnís smile turned sensual. "Glad to hear it."

Rodney cleared his throat again and swallowed the last of his drink, then reached for his water, breathing a sigh of relief when the waiter brought their appetizers. "Iíd like the tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad next," he commented.

"And Iíll have the sliced tomato and onion," John added, eying his ravioli hungrily.

"Go ahead and eat," Rodney suggested. "Want another drink?"

"Yeah, thatíd be good." John sliced a ravioli in half and raised one part to his mouth, his eyes closing as he savored the first bite.

After ordering them both another round, Rodney leaned back and watched John enjoying his meal. "Nothing beats good old Earth cooking?"

"Truer words were never spoken. God, thatís good. Want to try it?"

"I donít want to reduce your enjoyment... of course you could try some of this," Rodney offered, pushing his plate toward John.

"We could trade," John suggested, reaching over for one of Rodneyís shrimp.

"That sounds fair." Rodney leaned in to scoop half of his appetizer onto Johnís plate, and John slid half of his onto Rodneyís.

"Variety is good," John said, sampling the shrimp and making a happy sound.

"Not according to the US military over there from what I understand. Was he really seriousówell, of course he was, but was it really that bad?" Rodney forked up a shrimp, making quick work of it before sampling a ravioli and sighing in pleasure at the taste.

"None of the people in Atlantis caredóthe colonel and Rodneyís relationship is pretty much an open secretóbut he has to be careful because the rule exists, and this Col. Caldwell is gunning for his job, so heíd use it against him. Crazy place!"

"Idiot ruling by idiots," Rodney grumbled. "Thatís one reason for you to be glad to be back at least."

"One of them," John agreed, looking at him.

"This excellent food being the other."

"Thatís one other reason, yes."

"I hope you know, youíre rousing my curiosity," Rodney commented before eating some more of his appetizer.

"Are you kidding?" John observed him for a moment. "You really arenít," he said in tones of bemusement. "Look in a mirror, Rodney."

"I know what I see when I look in the mirror."

"Obviously not the same thing I see and not the same man I got to know in Atlantis. I donít know you yet, but I want to."

Rodney quirked a crooked half-smile at that. "Ióyes, I would too, like to get to know you as wellóas you."

"Should I be worried that I understood that?"

"I would consider it a sign of intelligence." To punctuate his last remark, Rodney leaned over and stole the last ravioli from Johnís plate, making John laugh.

"You would."

"And what do you consider it?"

"A sign." John grinned at him.

"Hopefully not that the world is coming to an end."

"That weíll do very well together."

"Well, you didnít stab my hand with a fork for stealing your food; thatís a good sign."

John laughed. "I think I can manage to share."

"Especially since I gave you some shrimp." Rodney leaned back, looking very self-satisfied.

"Weíd already made a trade; this was an additional incursion into mine," John pointed out, trying to keep straight face.

"Are you accusing me of crossing your borders in the interest of stealing your pasta products?" Rodney sputtered though his eyes were glinting with laughter.

John considered the statement. "Yes," he decided, "that sounds about right."

After a moment, Rodney nodded. "Well, they obviously werenít very secure borders."

"Theyíre pretty friendly borders for the right neighbor," John agreed.

"I could possibly be inclined to give up my last shrimp in an offer of harmonious relations."

"That would go a long way in our trade relations," John mused, and Rodney gave a somewhat exasperated laugh as he lifted his plate and nudged his remaining shrimp over to Johnís.

"There; is war averted?"

Chuckling, John sliced the shrimp in half and raised one portion to his lips. Once done, he met Rodneyís eyes and speared the remaining portion on his fork, raising it and offering to the other man. Rodney hesitated a moment before leaning in to take Johnís fork from him, eating the bite off it before handing it back.

"Thank you," he murmured, before the arrival of their salads distracted him.

John leaned back to allow the server to removed the plate from his appetizer and set the salad down. "I think we have a treaty."

"And without a shot being fired, amazing."

"Just a little exchange of aid and comfort," John agreed.

Rodney chuckled at that. "Hrmm, I think we should run the world."

"It would be a much friendlier place."

"Unless my blood sugar got low."

"That would be bad. Iíll just have to make sure to keep you fed."

"Just not with those MREs, please," Rodney chuckled before starting on his salad.

"How about Powerbars?" John suggested, grinning.

"That depends on the flavor."

"Chocolate, of course."

"Hrmm, those will do," Rodney grinned.

"Iím so glad I could meet your exacting standards."

Rodneyís eyebrows went up, and he glowered. "Eat your salad, Major."

John snapped off a salute and did as he was bidden, and Rodney chuckled. "I like that answer."

"Gee, Iím shocked," John snorted.

"Not eating..."

"I like the occasional breath between bites!"

"I suppose breathing is allowed," Rodney dead-panned.

"Youíre too good to me."

"Which is why Iíll be ordering the wine as well; I hope youíre ordering red meat for your main course."

"Thatís part of it. The filet and shrimp sounds good to me," John said. "I take it youíre planning on beef?"

"The ribeye," Rodney nodded. "As well as the mashed potatoes."

"That sounded good, but Iíll go with the surf Ďn turf, with a loaded baked potato and broiled tomatoes. This was a great choice," he said again, enjoying another bite of his salad.

"Itís nice to have someone to share it with," Rodney admitted before taking another quick bite of food and downing the rest of his drink.

John nodded. "Good company makes it better."

"Yes, it does." Rodney smiled, and glanced down at his plate. "Would you like to try this?"

"Sure. Want to try mine?" John asked, already pushing some onto his bread plate, and Rodney nodded, doing the same with his slices of tomato and mozzarella.

"Of course, this isnít as good as what I make."

John looked up with interest. "You cook?"

"Yes," Rodney said slowly, "itís not that hard an art to master."

John shrugged. "I never really had the time or opportunity."

"I can imagine that being in the military, that would be the case if you were in the barracks."

"I was constantly moving around from one place to the other, so I always lived on base," John admitted. "Once we get this thing going, itís going to be kind of nice to settle into a place. I can get something off base for a change."

Rodney nodded at that. "I suppose Iíll have to give notice on my place, not that thatís too much of a problem; Eva mightó" He fell silent at that and sighed.

"Eva?" John asked.

"My catóor she was my cat. I sent her with the colonel."

John reached over, placing a hand over Rodneyís on the table briefly. "Why donít we take a couple of hours tomorrow and go to the pet store?"

"Thank you, but thereís no point right now; Iím not sure where Iíll be in the coming months, and it wouldnít be fair to a pet."

"Are you sure? The other Rodneyís biggest regret was not finding a way to bring his cat to Atlantis with him. We can always find a way to work it out for you."

"Well, he has a cat now," Rodney admitted, "And how about we see what happens."

"Whatever you want," John said. "Just let me know if you change your mind."

"Youíll be the first to know."

"Good." John hesitated, but finally he had to ask. "Why did you give them your cat?"

Rodney sighed and swirled his nearly empty drink, causing the remaining ice to tinkle in the glass. "He said that Rodney missed his cat," he finally muttered.

John was pretty sure there was more to it than that, but he nodded. "It was very kind of you; I know heíll appreciate it."

"She liked the colonel better than me anyway," Rodney shrugged.

"I doubt that," John said. "But heíll appreciate the reminder of you too."

"I wonder if the other Rodney will though." The waiter returned to take their main course orders, much to Rodneyís relief.

"Heíll appreciate the cat," John said simply after theyíd ordered.

"Good; it sounded like they needed things like that there. Did you see any of those Wraith?"

"Fortunately no. The security tapes and mission reports were more than enough," John said emphatically.

"Hopefully weíll be able to avoid them for as long as possible."

"Well, I know not to repeat the colonelís mistake. Not that it really was a mistake, under the circumstances," John said. "But we know what to avoid doing."

Rodney chuckled quietly. "The list seems long and varied."

"It does seem like they stumble from one disaster to the next," John agreed with a faint smile.

"But they survive; I hope we can do as well."

"Iím sure we will. Hell, maybe in a year or so, we can get it touch with them to give them some warnings."

"Learning from our mistakes?" Rodney realized that they both were speaking as if going to Atlantis was a sure thing.

"Exactly. It seems only fair."

"Hopefully they wonít say, Ďbeen there, done thatí," Rodney snorted.

"We have to get ahead eventually," John replied easily.

"Of course we will; itís inevitable."

John chuckled. "Are you always so sure of everything?"

"Well, of course, and youíll be as sure of my skills once you getóonce weíve worked together a while."

"I look forward to the day."

Hours later, both full to groaning, the pair climbed out of the car and walked into the hotel together. "I didnít realize how late it was," Rodney yawned.

"It was a good evening," John replied, stifling his own yawn. "I hope we can do it again some time."

"IóIíd like that as well," Rodney admitted, pressing the elevator button.

"Iím glad," John replied, standing beside him as they waited for the elevator to arrive. "I like spending time with you, Rodney."

"I do too, spending time with you, that is."

"Kinda convenient, huh?"

"Yes, it is." The elevator doors opened, and they walked down the hall to their room, Rodney pulling out his key card to open the door. "Would you like to use the washroom first?"

John nodded. "Thanks." He paused before shutting the door. "If youíre not tired, we could have a drink?" he suggested.

"Here or in the bar?" Rodney asked, feeling a sense of deja vu at the conversation.

"Well, hereís more comfortable, and we wouldnít have to move afterward," John pointed out, raising his voice as he finally closed the door.

"Good point. Do you want ice with it?" Rodney called, retrieving the bottle of bourbon from the table and pouring some into the pair of glasses beside it.

"No, straight up is good for me," John replied. A moment later he came back out into the main room and walked over to Rodneyís side to pick up his drink. He raised the glass in a toast. "To new friends."

"That sounds like something to drink to," Rodney smiled, clinking his glass against Johnís, making the majorís smile widen.

"I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship," he said.


I hope you arrived safely in Antarctica and that youíve managed to keep from freezing anything important off in the weather there. Things are going well here; Catherine is brow-beating all and sundry into giving in to her grand plans for the SGC as well as setting up an expedition to the outpost site that was mentioned in the reports forwarded by our counterparts. Knowing how bureaucracy runs, it may be months before we get permission, but Iím beginning to believe that Daniel is right; Catherine can do anything she sets out to.


John chuckled as he read the short email. He could hear Rodneyís exasperation and frustration at the delays in every word. He started typing.


I know you know that I have a name. Itís John. Use it.

I still have all my body partsówanna check for yourself?

My paperwork is crawling through channels, so by the time you all get here, I should be assigned to the SGC. You canít imagine what a temptation it is to go looking for the outpost during my off hours. They let me sit in the chair in Atlantis once so I could feel what it was like, and I have to admit that Iím looking forward to finding the one here.

Iím looking forward to seeing you again.


Rodney let out a small hrumpf as he read the email though anyone passing by would have seen a grin curve his lips.

John (fine, are you happy now?),

Iíll ignore your lewd comment for now as regressing to pubescent levels would only delay my work here, and stop flaunting your damn gene at me!

Dr. Beckett seems receptive to joining our intrepid crew; of course the snippets of reports that were waved under his nose probably did more to help than any of us speaking did. The same runs true for Zelenka, though the issue there is more governmental than personal. He seems adequate enough though certainly not in my league.

I will say that itís much too quiet here without you to annoy me while Iím trying to get important work done; Daniel stays buried in his boxes, occasionally muttering to himself in something that might be ancient Aramaic, I havenít asked. Catherine is running between here and Washington almost every other day; hopefully Dr. Weirís arrival will let her restósheís old, hasnít anyone told her that?


John snickered at Rodneyís opening and burst into laughter when he read the comments about Catherine.


Iíd suggest that you have that conversation with Catherine for the entertainment value except that I want you to live long enough to explore some of that pubescent lewdness you donít seem to have a proper appreciation for. ;)

Be nice to Zelenka. You and he are going to make a great team in the labs if heís anything like his counterpart.

Catherine emailed me today, and she thinks sheís almost got Gen. Carter on board to be Elizabeth and her military counterpart at the SGC. Iím looking forward to meeting him even if heís not a Tokíra in this reality. And that should get Maj. Carter too. You probably already know that sheís working on getting all the military people that I suggested transferred, so weíll be ready to go once weíre cleared to start running missions.

This all makes everything here seem so dull by comparison. Hurry up and get down here.


"Oh yes, hurry up and get down there to freeze," Rodney muttered, half the words buried behind a massive yawn as heíd been in the lab for almost eighteen hours this last shift and had only looked at his e-mail in the hopes of a message from John.


Everything down there is dull unless you have a fixation for penguins. Zelenkaís a go as is Beckett. Weir arrives tomorrow. Going to bed now; if lucky will dream about you.


He was asleep within ten seconds of entering the send command.

John stared at the computer screen for several seconds, but the words didnít change. Heíd stayed up a little later than he usually would have, hoping that Rodney would be working late as usual and he might get another email before crawling into bed, but heíd never expected that final comment. Hoped for, certainly, but never expected.


First of all, what the hell were you still doing up at three in the morning? You need to get your rest to keep up with me once you get here.

Secondly, if you do dream of me, take notes. Iíll be sure to reenact it for you when you get here.

I miss you.


John hit send before he could change his mind.


I have to tell you I was more asleep than not when I sent that, but I suppose it doesnít make it any less true.

Firstly, I donít need that much sleep, never have, and secondly...

Secondly Iím not sure you want to hear about dreams involving a large submarine sandwich and RodanóI think I was beyond exhausted when I fell asleep.

Stay warm and avoid killer penguins.

I miss you too.


He quickly hit send and closed the laptop, glancing around again to make sure no one had been reading over his shoulder.

John didnít let himself read the email till he got back to his quarters with a sandwich, and he sat down to enjoy the brief taste of Rodney.


Was it a yellow submarine?

And I have to say that I think you have an unhealthy penguin fixation. Iíll have to distract you when you get here; itís my duty to the protection of the species.

So when will you get here? I havenít heard from Catherine lately. I hope nothingís causing delays?

See you soon, I hope.


The next email arrived over a day later.


Insanity, insanity, itís all insanity. All these new people, ĺ of them donít know how to add 2 and 2, and yet according to our counterparts theyíre all Ďessentialí. Are you sure about that?

On the plus side, Dr. Weir seems competent and itís a good thing because Catherineóshe needs to rest. Danielís very worried about her.

And why do you think I have a penguin fixation? I have no interest in smelly fishy flightless birds!

Back to trying to whip idiots into some semblance of scientific competence.


Three days passed before John had a chance to read the message or answer it.


Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Gen. Carter showed up here shortly after your email, and Iíve spent the last three days ferrying him around the area and out to where the outpost is supposed to be.

I have to tell you, I hope our counterparts were right. I saw a whole lot of nothing.

And I think you have a penguin obsession because you keep talking about them!

Try not to terrorize your minions too much.


The reply was almost instantaneous and full of misspellings.

Why doní;t people listen to instructions? You tell them something, theyíreíe supposed to listen, riught? Common sense would tell you that, but no, they donít, they turn on things they shouldnít, open doors where they shouldní;t and walk where they shouldnít. I mean, anyone ion their right mind would know not ti  walk in front of a stargate when weíre opening a wormhole, right?

Sheíd only been here two days.

I wish I could talk to you.

Johnís eyes widened at the message, and he started replying immediately.

Iím sorry that happened, but you canít control accidents. I wonít say itíll be okay, because you know it will, but for now... I wish I could be there to talk to you.

The response came an hour later and was more composed.


Iím sorry about that last mail, I was somewhat upset.

To speak to your other mail, Iím sure both you and the general will be convinced once some soundings are done at the site. Hopefully too much wonít be damaged digging down to it.

I only keep talking about penguins because you keep bringing them up.

I hope you and the general are getting along well.


John frowned at the screen, knowing that Rodney hadnít really gotten over the accident that quickly. "You have to be the worldís strongest candidate for bleeding ulcers," he muttered.


Iím glad youíre feeling better. I still wish I could be there for you.

The general was a bit of a stickler, but he seemed okay. I wish OíNeill was around; I liked him. Have you met Sam Carter yet?


Rodney eyed the screen and then the bottle of bourbon on the table by his laptop, finally ignoring it in favor of answering.


She came in today and we met briefly, but there hasnít been time for idle chit-chat. From what I saw of her work, sheís good so that will be helpful.

I suppose I should go to bed, but Iím not sure I can sleep. What are you doing up, anyway? Donít you need to be awake to fly those aerodynamically inefficient things around the barren wastes?


(See? I didnít mention penguins once)

John was far less interested in sleep than in making sure Rodney was okay.

You just did! Should I invest in a penguin suit to keep your attention?

He sent the message quickly, hoping to make Rodney smile.

Despite himself, Rodney snickered.

Youíre a pervert, I knew it!



Youíre the one with the thing for flightless, monochrome birds. Iím just offering to cater to your kink.


John grinned as he sent the email, glad he could help Rodney at least a little.

Rodneyís response was to search the web for a picture of penguins mating, embed it in his email and type ĎThis is NOT my kinkí under it.

John burst into laughter and sent back, ĎBut you had the picture.í Once he sent it, he sat back and waited for the explosion, wishing he could be there to hear the sputtering.

The answering email had three words.




John grinned. Heíd obviously accomplished his goal of distracting Rodney.

No, you donít. You like me.

Rodney sniffed disdainfully as he read the words.

And why would you think such a thing?


Because youíre talking to me. And you dream about me. You admitted it. And because I like you, so you have to like me back.


Are we in high school?


Nope. If we were, we could do the horny teenager thing and no one would raise an eyebrow.

Though I do like the horny part...


Pervert. Some of us think of things other than sex at times.

John hesitated before replying.

Usually the only people thinking of other things are those who are getting all they want. ... ?


Or those who havenít gotten any in so long they canít remember what itís like.

Rodney stared at the screen before grabbing the bottle and taking a swig as he sent the mail.

So get the hell down here and we can fix that!


If only it was that easy.


Set Catherine and Elizabeth loose on the problem. I have every confidence in them. And Iím tired of being stuck here doing nothing while youíre there.


Well, you could do something...


Like what? The command here still hates me.


I meant nowónever mind, it was an insane idea; I obviously have either had too much or too little to drink.

John stared at the screen.

If you mean what I think you mean, first, Iím an idiot for not figuring it out. And um, yes! Not insane, very good idea.


Hold on, the government can read your email, canít it? Wouldnít... what weíre talking about be an infraction?

John shrugged even though Rodney couldnít see him.

Itís personal email. Unless we plot the overthrow of the government, which Iím not really interested in, weíre good. So letís be bad.

Rodney flushed and looked at the bourbon before reaching for a bottle of water instead.

How? Should I say that thinking about you makes me squirm in my seat?

John sank down in his seat, picturing Rodney doing just that.

It makes me wish I could see it. But just imagining it makes my pants get tighter.

That response made Rodney chew on his lower lip, and he glanced toward the door, assuring himself that it was locked before answering.

Should I tell you what Iím wearing or where Iím sitting oróoh to hell with itóI wish I could touch you. I want to know what your hair feels like.

John laughed.

And I want to feel your hands on me and touch you and taste you and fall asleep and wake up with you there.


That sounds... very permanent.

This email was quickly followed by a second.

Not that I think thatís a bad thing!


I guess it is. Iíve gotten used to you being around, Rodney. I want you to stay around. But right now, I want to have cybersex with you. I want to imagine that my handís on your dick, that Iím touching you and I can slide down and take you in my mouth and taste you.

Rodneyís mouth opened in a shocked Ďoí, and he realized he was rubbing his crotch with his free hand as he started to type with the other.

If you were doing that, Iíd have both hands in your hair, but I wouldnít let you do that too long because Iíd need to kiss you, and that would take a long time because I want to know what makes you shiver and what makes you moan.


You do.

Youíre doing it now. Iím touching myself and imagining itís you, and god, Iím not going to last long. I want you so much.


God, John, yes.

Iím imagining its your hand or your mouth or your ass and itís driving me crazy. Iíve neveróoh god, you...


Fuck, I came harder than I ever remember just from thinking about you. Youíd better not have any plans for the first night you get here.


Sorry, Dr. McKay canít answer right now as his brain has melted.

John laughed.

Damn, Iím good. And so are you.


Of course I am! And I have the feeling that together weíll be even better.


I canít wait to find out. Any idea when that might happen?


The plan is a couple of weeks, but thatís optimistic and you know me, Iím a pessimist. I hope its then or before though. Iíll talk to Catherine in the morning and see if they have any firmer data.


No touching anything else firm!

Rodney snickered at that and reached for a box of tissues to clean himself up before answering.

Not even the DHD?


I suppose thatís okay, but keep the good stuff for me.


Iím not planning on molesting an alien device, Major!

I think you need some sleepóand I think I can now.


Iíll see you soon. Good night.


Good night, John and thanks.

John smiled but didnít send a reply, wanting to let Rodney get some sleep now that he was more relaxed. "It was my pleasure," he said, stretching as he leaned back in his chair.

"Just how long does it take to decide that we can do this?" Rodney grumbled, pacing back and forth outside the room where the committee met.

"This is a fairly major undertaking, Rodney," Carson Beckett pointed out, looking up from the data he was reading on his laptop. "But Iíve every confidence in Drs. Langford and Weir, or I wouldnít be here. You might want to consider switching to decaf," he added a moment later.

"That only gives me headaches," Rodney grumbled.

"In my field, we call that withdrawal," Carson observed blandly.

"Yes, and that would mean you were doing actual science, wouldnít it?" The door opened, and Rodneyís head shot up. "Well?" he demanded.

Catherine stared back at him for several seconds before she finally smiled. "We have an official go. Iím going to stay here at Cheyenne Mountain to set up our command center and get us going. You and Elizabeth will meet up with Maj. Sheppard and go find the outpost and other gate."

Rodney beamed and stepped forward to catch Catherine in a hug that ended abruptly as he realized what he was doing. "Yes, well, thatís good news for all of us; you didnít need to be traipsing around down there even if it is summer there."

"I prefer the climate in Egypt to that of Antarctica," Catherine agreed. She looked over at Carson, whoíd stood up at her news. "Iíd like you to go along, Dr. Beckett. Col. Sheppardís information indicated that thereís an Ancient woman frozen in the ice who will revive if thawed, but sheís carrying a plague of some kind. Iíd appreciate it if you could prevent us all from dying."

"John is not going near that woman!" Rodney squawked. "And neither should you, Beckett, since she canít seem to cure anyone other than us normal human beings; I say we just leave her stuck in the ice."

"The womanís alive, Rodney. We canna just leave her there forever!" Carson exclaimed, horrified.

"Oh, like she knows sheís frozen solid," Rodney sniffed. "And would you rather die because thatís what will happen if she infects you!"

"Perhaps it would be best to leave her undisturbed until we can find a cure for the disease," Elizabeth interjected. "According to the mission reports, reviving her led to her death when she drained herself healing everyone else and trying to help Col. OíNeill. We wouldnít want to wake her only to kill her."

"Exactly. So when can we go?" Rodney asked, rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the trip and what as well as who waited for him at the end of it.

"Weíre planning the logistics now," Elizabeth said.

"Once you arrive at McMurdo, Maj. Sheppard will be officially transferred to the Stargate Program," Catherine added. "Heís also Gen. Carterís second in command. The general was favorably impressed by their meeting and agreed with me that his experience made him a better choice than a higher ranking officer. Fortunately, heís senior to Maj. Carter, so that wonít be an issue."

"And Carterís staying here anyway, right? I mean, yes, she is almost as smart as I am, but the Earth needs one of us here to understand the technical aspects of how this all works."

Catherine managed not to roll her eyes. "Yes, Rodney, the Antarctic expedition and then Atlantis will be all yours. And youíll be the senior scientist in the program," she added, forestalling what she knew would be his next comment. "Carter will report to you."

He smirked slightly at that. "Good."

"I dinna know how the science staff is going to live with yer overgrown ego after this," Carson sighed, though he also looked amused as heíd come to like the other man in the weeks theyíd worked together.

"The point is theyíll live."

"Iím sure everyone will be appropriately grateful to you," Elizabeth said dryly.

"I doubt they will be, but thatís normal," Rodney sniffed. "Now, do we have to wait for all the equipment, or can we expedite our travel to get down there and start to work?"

"We can head down as soon as weíre ready," Elizabeth assured him. "We need to find the outpost in order to have a place to put all the equipment. Though having the directions and the major should help. Based on the reports from Atlantis, the outpost may just open up for him."

"Why am I picturing something out of a bad science fiction movie?" Carson asked no one in particular.

"That would make things much easier," Rodney mused.

Elizabeth glanced over at Carson. "It should like you too. Apparently your gene is fairly strong too, if nothing like the majorís," she said, her eyes sparkling with humor.

"I believe Iíd prefer to leave those types of things to the major."

"Good, and you can confine yourself to creating that gene therapy; it should be easy since you have the files from the other Beckett," Rodney prompted.

"You donít even try for subtle," Carson chuckled. "Aye, Rodney, Iíll work on the gene therapy that will let you interface with the Ancient technology too."

Rodney smirked at that. "Good man, I knew there was a reason I liked you."

"Iím so glad to be useful to you."

Rodney opened his mouth, but Catherine cut him off. "Iíd suggest you both start thinking about what you need to pack."

Having heard some of Rodneyís mutterings about a certain major, Carson snickered.

"And what are you laughing about?" Rodney snapped.

Carsonís eyebrows rose. "I was simply wondering if youíd remember to pack everything you need."

"Whaóoh my god, some people have much too much puerile interest in othersí lives!"

Catherine said something incomprehensible in a strangled tone before she and Elizabeth practically dashed around a corner. Moments later, peals of laughter rang down the hall.

"And Iím planning on going to another galaxy with you people?" Rodney groaned, shaking his head and following the laughter.

"And youíll never be bored," Carson said bracingly, trying not to laugh as well.

As the C-150 jounced to a landing on the airstrip at McMurdo, Rodney groaned and rubbed his tired eyes. Over twenty-four hours of travel, the last on this flying truck, and he felt every one of them, as opposed to Daniel, who looked refreshed and totally rested in his seat next to him.

A late flight into New Zealand had caused them to miss the nightís rest that had been built into their schedule, and the fact that his iPod had died a mysterious and silent death somewhere over the Pacific, leaving him without aural stimulation to block out the noise of the engines, meant he had barely slept two hours in the last two days.

"I thought you were in a hurry to get down here, Rodney," Carson chuckled from his relative safety across the aisle next to Elizabeth.

"Shut up and die," Rodney muttered, wishing the transport had windows so he could see how far they had to taxi until they reached the station and John.

"I still donít see why anyone would request a fuck-up like you," Col. Sumner, the senior officer at McMurdo, said snidely to Sheppard as they watched the airbus taxi toward the hangar.

John smirked. "Be happy, Colonel; Iím not your problem any more. From the moment that plane touched the ground, I report directly to Gen. Carter and the civilians in charge of the program youíre not cleared to know about."

"Until theyíve had enough of you and toss you out on your ass," Sumner growled, the words barely audible over the noise of the planeís massive engines.

"Not gonna happen," John said confidently with the knowledge of how well his other self had fitted into the Atlantis team. "Theyíre gonna love me," he added, holding back a grin at how literally true that was in one case.

"Címon, Rodney, right foot then left," Daniel urged. "And the major will be at the end."

"Ha ha," Rodney muttered, though he perked up at the mention of John, shaking off some of his exhaustion as he walked down the stairs to the hangar floor, spotting John standing by a severe-looking officer.

The others at his back went unnoticed as he walked forward as if in a daze, a smile lighting his tired features. "Maj. Sheppard, itís good to see you."

"Rodney." Johnís smile widened, and he stepped forward to enfold Rodney in his arms, ignoring everyone else.

"John," Rodney murmured, wrapping his arms around the other man and holding him close, his face buried against Johnís neck as if he could inhale him. "Itís really you."

"Yup, and now we get to get started. On everything."

Rodney nodded against his shoulder, and Daniel grinned as he and Elizabeth joined the group. "Itís good to see you again, Major."

"Likewise. You too, Elizabeth, er, Dr. Weir. Sorry, habit," John explained, still holding Rodney tightly.

"Itís quite all right," Elizabeth replied graciously. "I canít begin to imagine how odd it must be for you." She turned to the man gawking at all of them.

"Col. Sumner?" She waited for his nod of acknowledgement. "Iím Dr. Elizabeth Weir, and this is Dr. Daniel Jackson, Dr. Carson Beckett, and Dr. Rodney McKay. Maj. Sheppard is now officially transferred to our project. Weíll be spending the night here and heading out in the morning if everything is ready."

"It is," John assured her.

"Donít we get to sleep in?" Rodney asked plaintively.

Sumner eyed the group, his gaze cold and assessing. "Weíll be ready when you are, Dr. Weir."

"Which wonít be before ten. Noon," Elizabeth amended at Rodneyís pitiful expression. "Dr. McKay hasnít slept for two days, and the rest of us arenít in much better shape, so we could all use some rest before setting out."

"And the outpost will still be there no matter when we get there," Daniel nodded, though it was plain he was dying to get to it.

"Itís clear that the military isnít running this expedition," Sumner said disdainfully.

"Thank god," Rodney muttered before pulling back enough to look up at John. "Sleep now?"

"Sleep now," John agreed. "I even changed my sheets this morning just for you."

"Mmm, my hero."

"Thatís me," John said, ignoring Sumnerís snort.

"Shuddup, he is," Rodney grumbled, lifting his head enough to glare at the other man.

"Itís best not to antagonize Dr. McKay when heís caffeine-deprived," Daniel warned.

"Col. Sumner, why donít we discuss what equipment will be arriving that will need transportation to the outpost," Elizabeth suggested, watching John lead Rodney toward the main buildings.

"Dr. Weir, I donít think youíre aware of what kind of man Sheppard is," Sumner started.

"From what Iíve read and heard, he seems to be just the type of man we need leading the military portion of this mission," she stated, eyeing him.

"He canít follow orders," Sumner said bluntly, making Daniel and Carson smile wryly.

"Which orders of yours has he not followed, Colonel?" she asked, maintaining a pleasant demeanor.

"What difference does that make? The manís a fuck up, not someone you want on a top secret project," Sumner stated.

"Oh, so weíd be better with someone like you," Daniel suggested, "who doesnít realize that this is a civilian run project and that trying to force scientists to follow orders is harder than herding cats?"

"Itís your lives," Sumner offered in return.

"And John Sheppard is the man we trust to keep us alive," Elizabeth replied starkly.

"Now then, Colonel," Carson said quickly, "would we be able to get some rest? I for one am exhausted."

Sumner shook his head in disbelief. "Sgt. Harris will lead you to your quarters."

"Thank you, Colonel," Elizabeth responded graciously before following the sergeant toward the main buildings.

"The sooner we find and settle into the outpost the better, I think," Daniel murmured to Carson. "I donít think the colonel cares for the major."

"Thatís an understatement if Iíve ever heard one, lad," the doctor responded.

"I think Iím glad we have the major." Daniel glanced sidelong at Carson. "Wasnít Sumner in the expedition the colonel told us about?" he asked quietly.

"I remember the name from the reports," Carson nodded.

Daniel gave him a wry glance. "Obviously thatís what I meant since you never met him. I wonder if the major made the connection."

"Thatís something to ask himótomorrow."

"After he and Rodney surface on their own," Daniel replied emphatically.

"Aye, I have no desire to have Rodney after me for disturbing them," Carson chuckled.

"Or John! He carries a gun," Daniel laughed.

"Though I expect he might be easier to talk reason to."

"I wouldnít be too sure of that," Daniel said slowly, "not if heís anything like the colonel when it comes to Rodney."

Carson nodded at that as they walked inside. "Aye, there is that."

"Fortunately, it seems to work for them. And for everyone around them."

"Though judging from my counterpartís notes, I donít believe Iíll be stepping out of the city once we get there!"

"Having read the mission reports, I have to agree thatís probably best."

"Guest quarters are this way," the sergeant commented. "Maíam, your room, and sirs, here are yours." He indicated three doors. "If thereís anything you need?"

"No, weíre fine, thank you, Sgt. Harris," Elizabeth replied. "Gentlemen, Iíll see you in the morning." With that she disappeared into her room, followed by Carson and Daniel, who murmured their thanks before retiring as well.

"Not what I had planned," Rodney muttered as he let John guide him to his room.

"We have plenty of time. Get some sleep, and then weíll work on those plans of yours."

"Itís my iPodís fault."

"Care to explain that?" John asked as he opened the door to his quarters and nudged Rodney inside.

"It broke and I canít sleep on a plane if all I can hear are the engines," Rodney grumbled, fisting a hand in Johnís jacket and leaning further against him.

"So you didnít sleep the whole way down? No wonder youíre barely conscious," John said, steering him toward the bed. "Letís get you undressed and into bed."

"Bed? But weíre in theó" Rodney lifted his head from Johnís shoulder and peered around blearily. "Oh, weíre here."

"Man, youíre really out of it. Come on, beddy bye time, Rodney." John started undressing him.

"With you?" Rodney asked trying to help as much as possible as John stripped him out of his clothes.

"Of course. I finally have you in my bed; you think Iím not going to be right there with you?"

"Canít really think right now," Rodney mumbled, flopping down on the bed so that John could remove his shoes. "Not a good thing with what we might be facing there."

"Weíre not there yet. Tonight you can rest." Once Rodney was down to his skin, John stood up and undressed as well, then slid into bed and curled around him. "We both can."

"Mmm." Rodney nuzzled his face against Johnís neck again. "With you."

"Youíre stuck with me now." John kissed the top of Rodneyís head, making Rodney smile and snuggle closer. "So get some sleep. I have plans for you when we wake up."

Rodney woke over twelve hours later, frowning as he opened his eyes, not sure where he was, and his movement drew Johnís attention, making him look up from the book he was reading where he sat next to Rodney in the bed.

"John?" Hearing his voice crack with disuse, Rodney grimaced and sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Where are we?"

"McMurdo. You got here last night, but I donít think you were really awake, despite walking and talking."

"No, I meanóweíre in your quarters?"

"Well, I didnít think youíd want to sleep in the mess hall."

"Oh, very funny. IóI need to use the washroom; donít move."


"Very funny," Rodney muttered as he climbed out of bed and practically ran to the bathroom, remaining in there for quite some time.

While he was away, John made use of the time by setting his book aside and getting the lube and condoms out of the nightstand. Once they were placed prominently on top, he stretched out on the bed, one arm behind his bed, and waited.

"I used your toothbrush," Rodney commented as he opened the door, looking somewhat refreshed. "I thought that would be less disgusting than kissing me the way I wasóoh, and do you have something to eat? I have the feeling my blood sugar is low, and Iíd rather not be passing out duringó" His gaze skipped to the nightstand. "ówhatís to come."

John grinned. "There are some breakfast bars in the locker," he said, nodding toward it. "Also some other stuff, but itís not particularly breakfast-like. Oh, and I got a carafe of coffee earlier. I donít know how hot it will be by now, but itís on the table."

Rodney nodded, squatting down by the locker and rooting inside, ripping open the wrapper on a breakfast bar and cramming half of it in his mouth before he emerged to go in search of coffee.

Smiling fondly, John watched him, content to wait until Rodney was ready.

After gobbling down another two bars and washing them down with several cups of coffee, Rodney wiped his mouth and crooked a half-grin at the other man. "Sorry."

"No need. Much better to deal with it now than stop in the middle of things," John chuckled.

Rodney nodded at that, setting his cup down and brushing his hands off as he walked back toward the bed. "Now then, thatís one appetite filled..."

"Youíd like something else filled?" John leered at him.

"Actually, Iíd like this first," Rodney murmured, leaning in to catch Johnís face between his hands and kissing him, and Johnís arms came up to wrap around him and draw Rodney back down to the bed.

"Itís really you," Rodney sighed, his lips ghosting over Johnís. "Weíre really here."

"Yeah, we are. Finally. And from now on we work together."

"Mmm, and was it my imagination or was that guy standing beside you yesterday a total ass?"

"Not a total ass, but totally by the book and with a serious dislike for me."

"Well, you donít need to worry about him any longer." Rodney sighed, curling around him.

"Good, Iíd much rather think about you."

"And what weíre going to be doing together?"

"Lots of hot, sweaty sex."

"So what are we waiting for?"

"Not a damn thing," John replied, rolling them over so that he was sprawled over Rodney.

Rodney smiled up at him, both his arms and legs wrapping around Johnís body. "Good, I was hoping youíd say that."

"The only bad part is that we only have a few hours this morning," John murmured, nuzzling the side of Rodneyís face and throat.

"Thatís this morning." As he spoke, Rodney threaded his fingers through Johnís hair, pulling him in for another kiss.

"True," John murmured against his lips, settling himself between Rodneyís legs. "And we can enjoy this morning and look forward to tonight."

"And all the nights to come."

"That sounds pretty permanent," John said, raising his head to look into Rodneyís eyes.

Rodney lifted his chin and met Johnís gaze squarely. "Itís meant to."

"Are you asking me to marry you?"

"Yes, yes, I suppose I am. Is that a problem?"

Johnís smile widened and he hugged Rodney tightly. "Not in the slightest." He kissed Rodney hard.

"Good and now that thatís settled, can we please have sex?"

"I thought we were working on that." John arched his hips, his cock sliding between Rodneyís cheeks.

"Well, we should be working faster!"

"Talk about a pushy bottom," John laughed, reaching for the lube.

"Get used to it, Major," Rodney sniffed. "And remember, Iím also very creative."

"Iím looking forward to see how creative you can be." John squeezed some of the lube into his hand and stroked it between Rodneyís cheeks, teasing him with the preparation.

"Weíll go see my sister," Rodney said suddenly even as he squirmed. "Before we go. Iíd like her to meet you and vice versa."

"Good. I saw pictures of her and her husband and daughter in the other reality, and Iíd like to meet them. With you. Later." John pushed a single finger inside Rodney.

"God, John, yes, much later," he whispered, spreading his legs wider and arching upward.

John groaned, his own arousal climbing at Rodneyís responsiveness. "Fuck, youíre gorgeous." He slid his finger deeper, and Rodney rocked upward, reaching out to curl his hand around Johnís erection. John gasped, and he added a second finger, slowly stretching and slicking Rodney as he leaned forward, kissing Rodney hungrily.

"Now, John, please," Rodney whimpered into his mouth, writhing against the pressure.

John nodded jerkily, unable to wait any longer, and his fingers withdrew so he could reach for the condom, holding it up where Rodney could see it, with a question in his eyes.

Rodney snorted in response as he plucked the packet from Johnís fingers and tossed it away. "I havenít had sex in longer than I can remember; Iím sure Iím clean."

"And Iíve always been careful and been checked at my physicals. Iím clean too." John kissed Rodney quickly as he positioned himself at Rodneyís opening, biting his lip as he fought for control. He looked down into the lust-darkened blue eyes and slowly pushed forward, gasping as the tight heat closed around him.

"John..." Rodney whispered, arching upward as he tightened his arms around Johnís back, pulling him closer.

"Iím right here," John murmured, sliding deeper as Rodneyís body yielded to him, seeming to draw him inside.

Rodneyís sigh and smile were both beatific as he pulled John in for another kiss and they began to move together, finding a rhythm that worked for both of them. The only sound in the room was their panting breaths and the slap of their bodies as they came together, the pleasure climbing higher with each thrust.

Rodney whimpered, his fingers digging into Johnís back as a spasm ripped through him when the angle of Johnís thrusts hit his prostate.

"Come for me," John whispered, staring down at him as he felt his body tightening with growing pleasure. Rodney gasped and reached between them, jacking himself off in time with their movements until he gasped and came, his eyes locked with Johnís the whole time.

The spasms of Rodneyís orgasm, rippling around Johnís cock, made the major cry out and drive into him faster until he came as well. "Rodney!" he groaned, reveling in the sensation of his semen filling Rodneyís ass.

"Iím afraid that if I close my eyes, Iím going to open them to find out this is a dream."

"Iím still going to be right here," John promised. "And so will you."


"Yup. After all, we have a chaplain to find."

Rodney smiled, his lips curving upward as he stroked his hand over Johnís back. "So weíre going to do it?"

"Damn right. You promised to make an honest man of me."

"Thatís something you already were."

"Okay, a happily married man then."

"Much better," Rodney smiled.

"It will be. Though weíre already pretty good," John chuckled, rolling to his back and bringing Rodney with him.

"Hey! I liked you there," Rodney grumbled as he squirmed around to get comfortable, making a face at the cooling semen on their bellies and his thighs.

"I donít want to break your hips," John laughed. "Weíll be back in that position often enough. Though I hope I can convince you to fuck me occasionally."

Rodney gave an exaggerated sigh and looked put upon. "I suppose I could be forced to."

"Poor baby, what a tough life you have."

"I know, Iím so put upon," Rodney grinned. "I deserve sympathy."

John snorted. "Clearly you need more sleep; youíre delusional."

"This is how you treat the man youíre going to marry? See if I save you from bugs!"

John turned the puppy dog eyes on him.

"Maybe one bug."

"If a bug gets me, you donít get any more sex."

"Sex I can live without; you..."

"Likewise. So be careful as we go exploring the universe."

Rodney nodded and rested his head on Johnís shoulder, trailing a finger through his chest hair. "Does this strike you as odd?"

"What? Everything about this strikes me as right."

"I just meant the wholeónever mind, Iím not going to over-analyze it; it is right."

"You mean the whole other universe thing? Yes, it is odd, but I donít care since it got us here. And I like here."

"Yeah, me too." Rodney murmured.

"We should probably get up sometime soon," John said reluctantly.

Rodney grumbled at the thought, then stiffened and sat up. "The outpost!"

"Yes, thatís where weíre going once we get up and meet up with the others."

"And take a shower." Rodney kissed him and rolled out of bed.

"Yeah, thatís probably a good idea," John agreed, enjoying the view.

"Well," Rodney called back over his shoulder, "arenít you coming?"

"I might if you wiggle a little more."



"Are you insane?"

"Crazy in love with you," John replied cheerfully.

"I canít believe Iím doing this," Rodney muttered as he continued into the bathroom, putting a sway into his steps.

"Mmm, love that view," John said, jumping out of bed and chasing after Rodney.

"Well, I suppose I should be glad of that."

"I certainly hope so. And be glad that as the second most senior officer here, I have a private shower," John added with a laugh.

"Damn right, because I would not be sharing a shower with anyone other than you!" Rodney yelped.

"I didnít really think so," John chuckled. "Iím not into crowds either."

"Did the others get settled in last night?" Rodney asked as they stepped into the shower.

"I didnít see them actually go to bed, if thatís what you mean, but I know they have rooms, and they were in better shape than you were."

"Meaning sleep-wise, I assume?"

"Of course. They were conscious and coherent. You werenít."

"Good point." Rodney reached for the soap and washcloth and began lathering up Johnís chest before pausing. "Am I being too presumptuous?"

John gawked at him. "By washing me? Rodney, we just had sex and agreed to get married. I think youíre allowed to make free with my body."

Rodney flushed at that but didnít stop what he was doing. "Fine, fine, Iím an idiot."

"No, youíre not." John caught hold of Rodneyís chin and kissed him lightly.

"Well, Iím very glad you donít think so."

"Iím going to keep telling you until you believe me."

"Keep doing it and I will."

"Good." John pushed Rodneyís hair back out of his face and kissed him again.

"I hope the showers on Atlantis are as good as this."

"Better!" John exclaimed. "Perfect temperature and water pressure every time."

"Well, that cuts it, we need to get there as soon as possible," Rodney laughed.

"As soon as we have another ZPM. We donít want to drown as soon as we get there."

"No, that would be counter-productive."

"I thought so. So once we have another one, we go. Itíll be easier with a ZPM on both ends so we have two-way gate travel anyway." John ran soapy hands over Rodneyís chest.

Rodney nodded, seeming content to continue stroking Johnís shoulders and arms. "Especially since we wonít have any intergalactic ships for years unless we meet some of those Asgard."

"Weíll see what we can do about that. We know how to get in touch with them on Cimmeria, thanks to SG1ís mission report. I kinda liked Hermiod."

"You met him? Did he wink at you?"

John laughed. "No, I think he saves that for the colonel."

"He was extremely paranoid about thatóI suppose learning that Hermiod is a one John Sheppard urmm... Asgard wouldnít help."

John snickered. "Iíll have to mention it if we ever do manage to talk to them."

"Of course there should be a Hermiod here as well, and who knows what heíll think of you..."

"Iíll hide behind you if he winks," John laughed.

"And then Iíll fall over laughing, but Iíd try to trip him if he ran for you."

"My hero."

"Good answer, now wash my back," Rodney laughed before kissing John again and turning around.

"Pushy out of bed too, I see," John said, trying to sound disgruntled but laughing as he followed orders.

"You know me well."

"Iím getting there."

"I know the feeling."

"Thatís the best part; weíre doing it together."

"Even though you have been there," Rodney tried to grumble, though it was mixed with a sigh of pleasure as John worked his way down his back.

"But not our Atlantis. Thatís waiting for both of us."

"Though weíll never get there if we donít get out of the shower."

"Subtle too," John chuckled. "But you have a good point, and Iíd love a real meal." Johnís stomach gurgled to illustrate his point.

"I could eat," Rodney allowed, ducking under Johnís arm to grab the shampoo and quickly lather up his hair.

"Iím shocked." Johnís grin took any sting out of the words. "So letís finish up and get down to the mess hall."

"I meant I could eat something other than those bars you had in your lockeróitís a good thing I was starving, or Iíd have made you take me to your dining hall," Rodney laughed.

"Itís not going to be anything like the restaurants you like," John warned him. "And those were to stave off hunger so we could deal with more interesting appetites."

"I can eat plain food," Rodney protested, poking John in the side. "I simply would rather not if I donít have to, and yes, I enjoyed our morning much more than I would have any meal."

"Iím glad to hear it." John smiled at Rodney as he rinsed off and stepped out of the shower, Rodney following and smiling as he accepted the towel John offered him, though his expression changed to a disconcerted frown after a moment.

"Did you happen to being my bag, because otherwise all I have to wear is what Iíve been living in for the past two days?"

"It was delivered to our door this morning. I put it in the corner." John gestured toward it.

"Oh good, because I really doubt I could fit into anything of yours and isnít impersonating an officer illegal in your country?"

John laughed. "I donít think anyone would mistake you for me."

"Well, obviously not." Rodney hung the towel up and walked over to his bag, lifting it up to set it on the desk and sort through the contents while John dressed in a fresh uniform and ran his fingers through his wet hair.

"I hope youíre not planning to get that laptop out before we go eat. Iíd like to get there today."

"What?" Rodney looked over at him and frowned as he yanked a turtleneck over his head. "No, I hadnít planned to."

"Just making sure." John walked across the small room and kissed him, just because he could.

Rodney looked at him strangely before nodding. "Well, thatís good I suppose." He pulled on a blue fleece pullover and sat down to lace up his boots.

"Letís go get that breakfast. Neither of us is making much sense at the moment. Maybe weíll have time to see the chaplain before we have to head out and find out whatís required to get married. I have to admit that Iíve never looked into it. Never needed to before."

"Yes, yes that sounds good, thoughómy sisterówe havenít talked in years, my fault, but Iíd like her to be there when weówhen we do it." Looking somewhat dazed, Rodney stood again, tugging at the hem of his pullover.

"Oh yeah." John looked disappointed before he brightened. "Well, we said we wanted to visit her; maybe we can do it then."

"Unless youíd rather not wait..." Rodney said quickly.

"No, youíre right. Your sister should be there. Itís not like youíre going to disappear on me if we donít get married today," John said with a self-deprecating chuckle.

Rodney managed a half-laugh at that. "If I do, youíll probably end up with another me in my place."

"And youíd find another me? I donít think so. Iíve got the one I want now."

"As do I!"

"Convenient, huh?" John grinned at him.

"Call it fate, karma, or whatever, Iím not going to argue itóunless we donít go eat soon!"

"I was waiting for you!"

"Iím dressed now!"

John shook his head, laughing, and headed for the door. "Well, come on then."

"Did that already," Rodney snickered as they walked out into the corridor.

"Good morning, Rodney, Maj. Sheppard," Elizabeth greeted as they entered the mess hall, a cup of coffee on the table in front of her. "I didnít expect to see you for a while yet."

"Why is that?" Rodney asked, flushing when Carson and Daniel chuckled.

"Because ElióDr. Weir isnít blind, Rodney, and we didnít let go of each other from the moment you got here," John said, sounding amused.

"Oh, um, yes."

"I think youíd better feed him, John," Daniel grinned.

"I think youíre right. Grab a seat, Rodney. Iíll get us some grub."

"And coffee, lots of coffee."

"As if Iíd forget," John said dryly. "Sit. Iíll be right back." He headed up to the front of the room to get their meal, leaving Rodney with the other expedition members.

"Iím not giving any of you juicy details," Rodney grumbled, looking anywhere but at them.

"And we donít want to hear them!" Carson exclaimed, making Elizabeth and Daniel laugh.

Rodney grumbled at him, though there wasnít much heat in his tone, and his whole expression brightened when he saw John coming back to the table.

Watching him, Elizabeth smiled. "Thatís so sweet," she murmured to Daniel.

"Iím glad they worked it out," he answered just as quietly. "It was hard on Rodney when the colonel left."

"Judging by how quickly they became close, I have a feeling the major missed the other Dr. McKay as well. Itís nice that they found each other."

"Iím not even listening to them," Rodney told Carson, leaning over to steal a piece of the doctorís toast.

"Thatís probably best, and leave my bloody breakfast alone! Yours is coming."

Rodney leaned back and stuffed the whole piece of toast in his mouth, spraying crumbs as he spoke. "And you can have some of my toast when it gets here!"

Carson snorted. "I willna hold my breath waiting!"

"Here, Carson," Elizabeth offered, handing him a piece of her toast.

"See?" Rodney grinned. "You got your toast."

All three of the others rolled their eyes, and John laughed as he arrived back at the table with two trays and a whole carafe of coffee. "Making friends, I see, Rodney."

"To know me is to love me," he sniffed, plucking a Danish from his plate and setting it on Carsonís. "See?"

"Iíll be the only one loving you," John growled. "Heís an engaged man," the major added warningly as he sat down next to Rodney.

"Engaged?" Daniel asked. "Congratulations!"

As the others added their congratulations, Rodney ducked his head and gave a small, pleased grin. "I am a genius after all; Iím not letting him go."

"Right back at ya," John said, but he was smiling too.

"So, have ye set the date?" Carson asked.

"Once we get back to the States. Or Canada actually. We want Rodneyís sister to be able to be there," John explained before starting on his scrambled eggs and bacon.

"And then weíll have a honeymoon on Atlantis," Rodney nodded.

"Much better than Niagara Falls," John laughed.

"Weíll have to share a bottle of champagne to celebrate," Elizabeth said, raising her coffee in a toast.

"I donít think weíre going to find much of that down here," John said. "But I appreciate the thought. We can go out for dinner one night when we get back to Colorado."

Carson nodded. "That sounds grand; weíll make a night of it."

"Just no gushing about us, I hate gushing," Rodney muttered.

"I promise no gushing," Daniel said, smiling. "I donít gush."

"I didnít really think so," John chuckled.

"Good," Rodney grunted before digging into his food.

John sat back, coffee in hand, and watched Rodney with fond amusement. "I think itís best not to disturb him before heís eaten."

"Weíve learned that as well as not to offer him sub-standard food," Elizabeth smiled.

"And you really donít want to know what happened on the flight when his iPod died," Carson laughed.

John pretended to shudder. "Where did you hide the bodies?"

Daniel shrugged. "We threw them out the cargo door."

"Simple and neat. I like it," John laughed. "Iíll have to remember that."

"Och, we did no such thing," Carson interjected.

"Why not?" John asked with seemingly innocent curiosity.


"I think the majorís joking," Daniel chuckled, and John grinned at the sputtering doctor.

Elizabeth glanced around the table, her dark eyes shining with laughter. "This is going to be one of the most interesting teams Iíve ever had the privilege of working with."

"We wouldnít want you to be bored," John replied cheerfully.

"Considering some of those reports, boredom would be a good thing," Rodney mumbled around a mouthful of eggs.

"Yes, well, weíre going to skip those things, so we need to find other ways to enliven our days."

"I think you and Rodney have found a way already," Daniel grinned.

"True, but Iím not sharing that with anyone," John pointed out.

"Damn right," Rodney said emphatically.

"Donít worry yer head, Rodney; we wonít be touching yer fiance."

"I think I can protect my own virtue," John said dryly.

"You know, gentlemen," Elizabeth interjected, looking at their now empty plates, "we may want to get ready for our trip to the outpost location."

John shrugged. "I doubt any of you unpacked last night, and Iím all set to go."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Rodney asked. "And if you say Ďwaiting for me to finish,í the iPod incident will look mild."

No one said a word, though they were all smiling.

"We have to go down that hole in that?" Rodney asked, staring at the sling supported by a tripod hanging over a deep hole.

"Itís perfectly safe," John encouraged him, trying not to think about how far down it was.

"Then you go first!"

"Okay." John shrugged and stepped onto the platform. "Iíll be waiting for you down below."

"If you fall and break your back, Iím not jumping down there to get you!" Rodney said shrilly even as he bit his lower lip, watching the contraption sway.

"Just try not to fall on me," John retorted, blowing him a kiss before he disappeared through the opening.

"Oh, very funny, Major," Rodney snapped, leaning in to watch John vanish down the hole.

"I thought it was." Johnís voice came back faintly, echoing oddly in the wide open space under the ground.

"Heís going to be all right," Rodney chanted before jumping when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Of course he is," Carson said firmly.

"According to Col. Sheppardís reports, thereís nothing down there to hurt anyone," Elizabeth reminded him.

"And what if he lands right on top of the Ancient woman?"

Daniel looked away and cleared his throat. "I think the excavation team would have noted that fact that there was a woman right under their drill hole."

"Not to mention that she wasnít in the outpost," Elizabeth added.

"In the other reality," Rodney said ominously.

Their headsets crackled to life. "If youíve all quite finished discussing insane ways Iím not going to die, maybe youíd like to join me?"

"Not possible until you send that contraption back up," Rodney grumbled.

"Itís already on its way."

Rodney nodded, then realized that John couldnít see him. "Rightóummóover and out."

Johnís laughter rang over the radio. "Iím going to see if I can find a light switch. Oh, never mind, I guess wanting lights was enough."

"Gene slut," Rodney muttered as he swallowed hard and reached for the sling, accepting the guardsí assistance as he was strapped in.

"Just relax, Rodney," Elizabeth said soothingly.

"Itís a piece of cake," John said coaxingly. "Iím waiting for you."

"If this thing breaks, Iím landing on you," Rodney muttered as he was swung out over the hole and lowered down.

"Iíll be sure to break your fall," John replied soothingly.

When Rodney reached the bottom, he was breathing heavily and had his eyes tightly shut, something that John took advantage of by kissing him.

"That had better be you, John."

"You think thereís someone else down here kissing you?"

"You never know." Rodney finally opened his eyes and gave a crooked grin. "It is you."

"Youíd better not be kissing anyone else."

"The same goes for you. Now get me out of this thing so the others can experience that hell-ride."

John laughed and helped Rodney out of the safety restraints, then sent the sling back up for the next one to come down. "Look at it, Rodney. This place is incredible."

"Well, of course it is..." Rodneyís voice trailed off as he got a good look at their surroundings, and he took a step forward, walking toward the bank of panels that shone with a soft glow.

John followed on his heels, noting the similarities to Atlantis. "Looks like everythingís intact."

In response, Rodney squatted down beside a console and pried it open to get a good look at the crystals inside of it. "Itís wired like the DHD."

"Youíre going to ignore me in favor of the systems here, arenít you?" John asked, sounding amused.

"Well, itís not as if we can strip down and go for it here on the frigidly cold floor," Rodney snorted.

"Please donít!" Carson exclaimed behind them.

"Oh ha ha," Rodney sniffed.

"Donít worry, I prefer privacy and lots of time," John said, trying not to laugh.

Carson glanced around the room, then at the other men. "So, do we know what this room is for?"

"A control station of course!"

John grinned. "I bow to the expert."

Rodney half turned to look back at him and smirk. "Iíll remember that comment."

"Oh lord, Iím going to need earplugs," Carson groaned.

"I certainly hope so!" John exclaimed.

"That Iíll need earplugs or that Rodney will remember to make ye bow?"

"Both," John retorted. "You should try it sometime. But not with Rodney!"

Both Carson and Rodney sputtered, and Elizabethís voice drifted down to them from up above. "Why do I have the feeling keeping track of you all will be more challenging than a Balkan negotiation?"

"Because youíre a very intelligent woman," John chuckled. "And you gathered a group of non-conformists."

"Which is what weíll need to survive there," Rodney pointed out.

"I didnít say it was a bad thing," John pointed out. "I think it makes us a great team."

"I would have said interesting," Carson chuckled.

"That too," John agreed with a laugh. "At least weíll never be bored."

"Is that supposed to be heartening?" Rodney asked.

"I think it is," John said, giving him a quick hug.

"Yes, well, if Daniel would ever get down here, we could start exploring this place."

"Unfortunately, flying isnít one of my superpowers, so it took a few minutes," Daniel said dryly as he joined them.

Rodney sniffed at that and rolled his eyes from the safety of Johnís side. "So practice more," he sniffed.

"How Ďbout we start exploring the base?" John suggested, trying not to laugh.

"Iíd say that would be a good idea," Carson muttered.

"And then tonight we can explore other things," John murmured to Rodney.

"You know, youíre making it very hard to choose between exploring this outpost and exploring you," Rodney growled back.

John blew on his nails and buffed them on his chest, grinning, causing Rodney to scowl and smack him on the  back of his head while the others pretended their attention was anywhere except on the two men.

"Donít worry, Iím not about to find out which way youíd go if I tried to make you choose between new technology and me. Iíll just come up with ideas for tonight while you have geek-gasms."

"Geek-gasms?" Rodney sputtered while Daniel came up and swung an arm around his shoulders.

"Well, I canít think of anything better to call them, can you?"

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at Daniel, trying not to laugh. "Really?"

"Whatís better than learning something new?" he asked.

"I believe Rodney and the major have a few ideas," Carson commented wryly.

"Definitely. But I can wait my turn," John chuckled.

Rodney shook his head and glanced around the room again. "According to the notes we have, the chair room should be down that corridor."

John started in the direction indicated, his hazel eyes alight with anticipation. "Oh, this is going to be fun."

"Yeah, well donít go using all your energy on the chair and have none for me."

John paused, looking over his shoulder at Rodney. "Thatís not even the slightest possibility."

Rodney grinned at that. "Thatís good to hear. Now letís go find your chair."

"Just wait till you see this," John replied enthusiastically. "Itís so cool."

"Just so you know, weíre coming too," Daniel called.

"Aye, no sex in the chair!"

"No fun!" John laughed, continuing toward the chair room.

"I think youíll live," Elizabeth chuckled as they all followed.

"Oh, I know I will, and weíll make up for it later. In private," John added hastily after getting a look at Rodneyís expression.

"Are they always going to be like this?" Carson asked Daniel, who shrugged.

"From what Iíve seen, probably."

Elizabeth looked surprised. "What youíve seen? Was Rodney like this with Col. Sheppard too?"

Daniel rubbed his chin at that and glanced over to where Rodney and John were walking ahead of them. "I think Rodney was attracted to the colonel, but they both knew it wasnít rightówhatís going on between Rodney and the major, thatís right."

Elizabeth glanced over at the two men. "I see," she said slowly. "I suppose weíll just be careful about knocking before going into storage rooms then," she finished with a slight smile.

"Or give them bloody collars with bells around their necks," Carson muttered though he was chuckling as well.

"Weíre not cats," John growled over his shoulder, but he was smiling.

"Iím ignoring them all," Rodney announced.

"You really are a genius," John chuckled, slinging an arm around his shoulders.

"You doubted that fact?"

"Additional proof is always hot."



Rodney swallowed hard and glanced over at John before looking ahead again. "I take it thatís the chair?"

"Thatís it." John grinned at him before walking to the chair and sitting down. Immediately, the chair powered up, and lights came on all around the outpost.

Exclamations came from behind them, and Rodney beamed, bouncing around the consoles and studying them, shooting out comments to the others as they joined him.

"Way better than cool," John announced.

"Is this setup like the one in Atlantis?" Rodney demanded.

"Mostly. Itís not as powerful since the outpost doesnít require as much as the city, but everything else is the same. We still have drones," John added, information flashing across a display in front of his face.

"Where does it say that?" Rodney crouched down by his side and stared upward, reading the information that scanned overhead.

"I think you already figured that out for yourself," John said, sounding amused.

"So humor me."

John raised one hand to point at the information Rodney was already reading. "Right here."

"I hope youíll be able to pull up more information on the outpost," Elizabeth offered.

"The monitors on the side," John said. "Outpost, the Ancient database, their medical files. Have fun." He grinned at the other three.

"So while theyíre all busy with the consoles, what am I supposed to be doing?" Rodney asked wryly.


"Ha ha, very funny, Major."

"I liked the idea. Iíll have to work on it, I guess. And what do you want to be doing? Your wish is my command."

Rodney glanced around and flushed. "Maybe if weíre ever the only ones here."

"Iíll definitely have to see what I can do about that." John pulled him closer for a quick kiss. "Now, seriously, what do you want to see?"

"Letís start small, show me the power schematics for the outpost," Rodney murmured, closing his hand over Johnís as he watched the diagrams above them change.

"Control room, labs, what looks like an armory, living quarters, itís all here," John said as his eyes moved over the displays.

"So whatís powering it all?" Rodney murmured. "From the files, thereís no ZPM here..."

"How the heck should I know? Youíre the genius scientist here; Iím just the pilot."

"It was a rhetorical question!"

John grinned. "One that youíre going to spend the rest of the day answering unless I miss my guess."

"And do you have a problem with this?"

Looking surprised, John replied, "Of course not. Itís what you do."

Rodney gave a crooked grin and squeezed Johnís hand. "Good, then bring up the power schematics so I can figure it out."

"Why donít we just stay here tonight?" John suggested. "We have heat and light, and the rooms are a lot more comfortable here than back at McMurdo."

"Stay here?" Rodney asked, glancing around at the others, then focusing on John again. "All of us?"

"There are lots of individual, private rooms," John pointed out.

"But what about food?"

"I dinna thing the major is concerned with eating food at the moment," Carson murmured.

John snickered, and Elizabeth lowered her head to hide a smile. "We have MREs, and we could get McMurdo to send us out some supplies in the morning," John wheedled.

"MREs?" Rodney whined before back-pedaling when John glanced at him. "Yes, well, I suppose we could survive on those for an evening."

"We can arrange a few rooms, set them up as camps," Daniel suggested.

"Iíll make it worth your while," John murmured in Rodneyís ear, taking advantage of everyoneís distraction to nibble on the lobe.

"I cannot believe Iím going to sleep on the floor and eat MREs for you," Rodney grumbled, though his breath was coming faster.

"You can sleep on me if you prefer."

"If I sleep on you, I wonít be able to walk in the morning!"

"Walking is overrated."

"Yes, I know you prefer flying."

"Actually, I think riding has become my favorite thing."

"Are you saying you plan on exclusively bottoming from now on?!"

John gawked at him. "Have you lost your mind?!?"

"Well, I simply wanted to be sure!"

"Weíre going to find rooms for the evening," Elizabeth announced.

"Great idea, see you in the morning," John said rapidly, grabbing Rodneyís elbow and hauling him down a corridor toward some of the living quarters.

"But, but, donít we need to tell the others--," Rodney sputtered before catching sight of the expression on Johnís face and swallowing harshly. "Yes, Iím sure the others will do that; privacy would be good, I suppose."

"Sleep well," Daniel called after them, laughing.

"We wonít," John yelled back.

"Sleep, I hope, because I have full faith that what we do will be done well."

"Damn right," John replied with a grin at Rodney. "But there will be minimal sleeping involved."

Rodney flushed but smirked at him. "I do hope you brought supplies, Major, or weíll have to be inventive, not that thatís an issue for me, of course."

"Well, that sounds intriguing, but I do have lube," John assured him. "Iím not going to hurt you."

"I didnít think you would."

John stopped, turned, pulled Rodney into his arms, and kissed him.

"We need to find a room," Rodney panted once he could speak again.

"Good idea," John agreed, nearly pulling Rodney down the hall toward a door, and once they were inside, Rodney clutched at him, pulling him in for a hungry kiss.

"We have a room with a door that locks, a bed, and lube. And each other." John grinned at Rodney from millimeters away. "Maybe we should do something with all these things."

"Bed? Thereís a bed?" Rodney asked as he rubbed against Johnís length, the layers separating them a frustrating impediment.

"Right behind you," John murmured against Rodneyís throat, his fingers busy unfastening their clothes as he backed Rodney toward the ten million-year-old bed.

"If that thing collapses under me and I suffer life-threatening injuries, Iím never going to let you to forget it!"

"I promise to protect you from bed attack." John bit at the base of Rodneyís throat.

"But not from your attack, I hope," Rodney groaned, fisting his hands in Johnís jacket.

"Definitely," John assured him, yanking Rodneyís jacket off, followed by his shirt, and then he slid his hands over Rodneyís ass and pulled him flush against his own body.

"One day," Rodney gasped, working his hands under Johnís shirt and jacket. "One day weíll try that chair out together."

"Iím going to hold you to that. And when we get to Atlantis, if I ever get to fly the city, youíre going to be right there in that chair with me." John nuzzled at one of Rodneyís nipples.

"Donítóoh godódonít you need to concentrate to do that?" Rodney groaned, giving up trying to pull at Johnís clothes and tangling his fingers in his hair.

"Iím a genius too; I can multi-task." John caught a nipple between his teeth and tugged gently.

"M-maybe Iíd rather just have you concentrating on me?"

"I can do that." Johnís hand deftly unfastened Rodneyís pants and pushed them down, along with his boxers.

Rodney whimpered, twisting toward Johnís touch. "Bed?" he suggested hopefully.

"Naked first, then bed." John let go of Rodney to bend over and get his boots off, followed by all his clothes in rapid succession while Rodney tried to do the same, finally giving up and sitting down on the edge of the bed to get the rest of his clothes off. John paused to stare at him, his hardening cock showing his appreciation of the view.

"Fuck, you look amazing."

"I do?" Rodney asked, for the moment looking utterly vulnerable. "I was going to say the same for you." He kicked away his boots and held out a hand for John, beckoning him toward the bed.

John took his hand, lacing their fingers together, and stepped forward, standing with his legs on either side of Rodneyís and smiling down at him. "Youíre definitely not going to want to do a lot of walking tomorrow," he promised.

"So Iíll sit," Rodney murmured, sliding his hands up Johnís thighs and leaning in to nuzzle Johnís groin.

"Thatís not going to be very comfortable either," John said, combing his fingers through Rodneyís hair and watching him through heavy-lidded eyes.

"Donít care, want you to fuck me hard and long," Rodney mumbled before closing his lips around the tip of Johnís cock and sucking on him.

"Nothingís gonna stop that," John rasped, his hips jerking as he thrust into Rodneyís mouth, causing him to groan and suck harder as he closed his hands on Johnís hips, holding him close.

"God, your mouth," John groaned, and Rodney echoed the sound as he took him deeper. "Fuck, gotta stop if you want me to last to fuck you."

Rodney whimpered as John pulled away, then collapsed onto the bed, stretching wantonly.

"Jesus," John whispered, staring at him hungrily before pouncing. First he kissed Rodney hard, and then he slid downward, settling between Rodneyís legs so he could lick the crevice between his cheeks.

"John!" Rodney cried out, bucking upward without squeezing his legs together, whimpering as he begged for more.

"Right here," John rasped, pressing harder with his tongue until the tip slipped into him.

"Oh fuck, yes, love you," Rodney whined, his fingers clenching on the ancient sheets beneath them.

John only murmured his agreement, his hands petting Rodney while he continued fucking him with his tongue.

"John, please," Rodney begged, arching upward, wanting more.

With a groan, John sat up, grabbing for the lube to slick his fingers and push two into Rodney.


"Pushy," John chuckled, watching his fingers disappear into Rodneyís ass and then reappear as he pulled back, slowly stretching and slicking Rodney.

"You saying you have a problem with this?" Rodney rasped, twisting upward to follow.

"I love it." Johnís tongue slid over the head of Rodneyís cock before he shifted forward, positioning his cock against Rodney.

"Yes," Rodney gasped, yanking John in for a kiss as he felt himself filled, at the same time pulling his legs back toward his body to open himself wider.

"Mine," John groaned into the kiss, one hand curving under Rodneyís ass to raise him, letting John slide even deeper into him.

Rodney nodded, digging his hands into Johnís back and searching for his mouth, sucking on Johnís tongue as they moved together. Johnís back arched, and he pulled back, looking down into Rodneyís eyes as their hips slammed together. "Yours," he whispered, before diving in for another kiss.

"Always," Rodney gasped, tightening down around him.

John nodded and began moving more rapidly, feeling the pleasure mount as he buried himself in Rodney again and again, Rodney moaning with each stroke, finally reaching between them to grasp his own cock and jerk himself off in time with their strokes.

"Fuck yeah," John rasped. "Come for me."

Rodney whimpered and squirmed, clenching down around Johnís cock, then spasmed, spurting streams of come between them as he moaned and gasped.

"Oh fuck, thatís hot," John groaned, watching Rodney and then driving into him, each thrust bringing him closer to his own climax until he cried Rodneyís name and came.

"If you move, I will kill you," Rodney grumbled as John collapsed over him.

"I donít think I could," John chuckled breathlessly. "But donít complain to me when you canít breathe."

"Not gonna happen." Rodney smiled up at him and stroked his back.

"I think I like the way you get after sex," John half-chuckled.

"As composed to how you feel normally?"

"Hmm, good point. Okay, I somehow like you even more than usual."

"So youíre saying youíd rather I be complacent and cuddly all the time?"

John snorted a laugh. "Youíd burst from sheer frustration. No, I like you just the way you are. Doesnít mean that I canít enjoy the cuddly moments too."

"Me too," Rodney murmured.

"Good." John nuzzled his throat. "And later you can fuck me too."

Rodney snickered at that and ran a hand down Johnís back to squeeze his ass. "I think I can manage that."

John arched his back like a cat being stroked. "Iím glad to hear it."

"Letís just stay like this for a while though, okay? I like the feeling."

"Do you see me moving? I like it too."

"Good answer," Rodney gave a crooked smile.

"I thought so." John turned his head slightly and pressed a kiss to Rodneyís throat.

"Feel free to have them as often as youíd like," Rodney murmured.

"How Ďbout I just keep saying yes?"

"Works for me."

John chuckled. "We may never get any work done."

"I think we will," Rodney chuckled, poking him in the side.

"Iím already being supplanted," John pretended to moan.

"The colonel told me I lusted after the ZPM, but donít worry, I lust after you more."

John beamed at him, knowing just how much that meant. "Youíre something else," he murmured before raising his head to kiss Rodney.

"Iím taking it that you mean that in a good way," Rodney mumbled against Johnís lips.

"Of course." John propped his chin on his crossed arms atop Rodneyís chest and grinned at him. "The best way."

"Good answer," Rodney chuckled before shivering.

"And that means Iím going to have to move," John said, kissing him again lightly before shifting away just long enough to grab the covers. He pulled them up while stretching out over Rodney again, surprised by how comfortable he felt lying on the other man. "Tell me if I get too heavy. I like it here."

"I willómaybe in a hundred years or so," Rodney murmured, nuzzling Johnís neck and wrapping his arms loosely around his waist.

"That sounds good, but Iím pretty sure that either our stomachs or some Ancient tech calling to you will get us moving before then." John grinned against Rodneyís shoulder. "Plus weíll need more lube eventually."

"This is what I get for trying to be romantic," Rodney hrumphed. "See if I do that again."

John raised his head and fixed Rodney with pitiful puppy-dog eyes, and Rodney groaned. "I really hate you."

"No, you donít. You love me," John replied cheerfully. "And you can romance me any time."

"You arenít going to let me fuss over anything, are you?"

"Only when itís needed," John admitted. "Which it isnít right now, so just enjoy the afterglow."

Rodney looked at him for a moment, then took a deep breath, closed his eyes and smiled.

John watched him for a moment before allowing his own eyes to close and dozing off, completely relaxed and content to remain where he was.

"Much better than a ZPM," Rodney murmured before falling asleep as well.

John woke first the next morning, finding that sometime during the night heíd shifted completely back on top of Rodney, who had his arms wrapped tightly around John, making sure he didnít move.

"If I hear a complaint about your back today," John chuckled as he nuzzled Rodneyís throat to wake him, "Iím not going to have any sympathy for you."

"Feel too good to complain about my back," Rodney mumbled. "Though I am hungry..."

"Which means we need to find a shower... although we donít have a mess hall set up yet, so we could just grab a Powerbar right here in bed," John suggested, clearly reluctant to move.

"Iím not sure if there are showers here," Rodney admitted.

"Well, there has to be something. At least one Ancient lived at this outpost after the city left, and I doubt she went years without cleaning up or eating," John pointed out logically. "And I get the impression that people on duty here lived on the site, like an army base."

"Somehow the idea of a bunch of Ancients running around here going Ďyes sirí only makes me laugh," Rodney snickered, stroking his hands up and down Johnís back.

"It does seem kind of unlikely, doesnít it?" John agreed, chuckling and leaning into Rodneyís caress.

"I get the feeling they werenít the type to say that to anyone." As he spoke, Rodney sat up enough to nuzzle Johnís throat.

"Their loss," John said, letting his head fall back to allow Rodney better access.

"Do I really care?"

"I hope youíre more interested in me than in people who have been dead or ascended for ten thousand years... or ten million."

"Damn right, they can go fuck themselves for all I care," Rodney murmured.

"Never mind them; I want you to fuck me."

"I could do that," Rodney murmured, stroking his hands along Johnís ass.

"I was hoping you could." John let his legs fall to either side of Rodney and rocked gently against him.

"I suppose we should shift positions if weíre going to do this..."

John flipped them over and grinned up into startled blue eyes.

"Pushy," Rodney muttered before kissing John.

"All the best bottoms are," John said against his lips.

Rodney snorted at that and kissed him again. "Youíre a bottom? Yeah, right."

"For the moment I am. Or Iím hoping to be!"

"I think I could manage that," Rodney laughed, kissing him and squirming to settle himself between Johnís thighs.

"Less thinking and more doing," John demanded, raising his legs to wrap them around Rodneyís waist.

"That means I need to get this," Rodney reached for the lube and rolled it between his hands to warm it.

"Thatíll definitely help." John watched avidly, his hands moving restlessly over Rodneyís back.

"Well, of course!"

John chuckled at the somewhat indignant tone. "Iím glad we found each other," he said, suddenly serious.

Rodney paused to stare down at him. "So am I," he whispered before kissing John again, and John wrapped himself around Rodney, holding on tight as the kiss deepened.

Rodney groaned and arched down against Johnís length, sucking on his tongue as they rocked together. John pressed closer, gasping with pleasure as their cocks slid against each other, building their arousal.

"I want to be in you, John," Rodney murmured, pulling back enough to get his hand between them.

"Yes," John breathed, his hazel eyes dark with lust and intent on Rodney. "Please."

"Okay, hearing you say Ďpleaseí is the hottest thing Iíve ever heard in my life," Rodney groaned, slicking up a finger and pressing it against Johnís ass.

Still staring into Rodneyís eyes, John repeated, "Please," as he clenched down on Rodneyís fingertip, making Rodney groan and press his finger deeper into Johnís ass, his whole body tightening at the pressure.

"Feels so good," John rasped, his hips rising to try to take more of Rodney inside himself.

"God, yes," Rodney whispered, pressing deeper, his own cock twitching in response.

"More, please," John said, the hint of amusement mixed with the arousal in his eyes showing that he used the word intentionally.

Rodney whimpered and added a second finger, trying to stretch John as much as possible, and John lay there, shuddering with mounting arousal, simply watching Rodney and letting him do whatever he wanted.

"God, John," Rodney whispered, drawing back to stroke the lube over his own erection as he watched John squirm beneath him.

"Oh yes," John panted, watching Rodney through heavy-lidded eyes. "Want you so deep inside me I feel you for a week."

"Thatís my line," Rodney rasped, settling between Johnís thighs and pressing against his ass, groaning at the tightness of his body.

"Right now itís mine, so do something about it!" John moaned and shifted his hips, wanting Rodney in him now.

Rodney groaned and pressed forward, sliding deeper into Johnís ass until he was fully embedded there. "Something like this?" he asked breathlessly.

"Oh fuck yes," John gasped, his body clenching to hold Rodney inside him.

"Uh huh," Rodney panted, nipping at Johnís lower lip as he began to move.

John groaned almost desperately and pulled his legs back, opening himself even more to Rodneyís possession. "Oh yes, please," he whispered, licking at the faint sting and tasting Rodney.

"John..." The word was gasped out as Rodney began to move with more purpose, driving forward and feeling Johnís erection pressing against his stomach.

"Fit perfectly," John groaned, lunging up to kiss Rodney before falling back again, his eyes once again intent on Rodneyís.

"Yes." Rodney reached between them and stroked Johnís cock in time with his thrusts, needing to feel the other man responding to him. John cried out, his hips jerking as he began to move more rapidly, urging Rodney to meet his rhythm. Each stroke drove him higher, and he moaned Rodneyís name desperately.

Rodney cried out and drove forward, slamming into Johnís ass and tightening his hand with each stroke, wanting to feel him coming around him. Johnís eyes opened wide, and he focused on Rodney as he arched up, trembling on the brink of climax. And then one more stroke into his ass, one more swift glide of Rodneyís hand, and John was coming.

"You think theyíll notice if we donít come out of here for a few days?" Rodney panted, grinning down at him.

"Do we care?"

"Hrmm, good point, though if we want to get to Atlantis, we do need to do some work eventually."

"Since we probably wonít get a chance later, weíre having our honeymoon now. Atlantis has been waiting for ten thousand years; itíll still be there a week later."

"Good point," Rodney nodded, brushing a kiss over Johnís mouth, then another one for good measure. "I do want to get there, but Iím not going to waste this time together to go racing after it."

"Weíll get there. Together. Which puts us ahead of the other us to my way of thinking." John smiled up at Rodney.

"Do you have any idea how happy I am that your military doesnít have the insane rules that the colonelís does?"

"As happy as I am," John replied emphatically. "Thatís just nuts, and I donít know how they deal with it. Can you imagine if we had to sneak around and pretend not to be together? No way!"

Rodney shuddered at the thought, then grinned when the move made John squirm beneath him. "Thatís one thing I donít envy themówell, that and the Wraith."

"And we donít have to envy them each other," John said, biting at Rodneyís throat to make him squirm.

"No; Iíve got you, Major, and youíre who I want."

"Likewise," John said, running his hand over Rodneyís back and down to cup his ass, holding him close to keep him from slipping out yet, and Rodney smiled, leaning in to kiss him again, this one deeper and more lingering.

"Mmm," John murmured a little later. "Keep that up and weíll end up hard again."

"And this is a problem, why?"

"Itís not," John chuckled. "In fact, I think itís something to shoot for. How many times can we get it up?"

"Iím not sure, but Iíll be willing to give it my best shot." Rodney rocked his hips forward at the last.

"Mmm, my hero," John murmured, clenching his inner muscles slightly to encourage Rodney.

"Thatís me, the studly, macho type," Rodney snickered.

"Youíre my type."

Rodney beamed at that, his whole face lighting up with the smile, and John returned it.

"Youíre better than Ferris wheels, football, and flying," he whispered, his free hand moving to cup Rodneyís cheek.

"I love you," Rodney whispered, his eyes wide and blue as he stared down at John.

"I love you too. And thatís why youíre marrying me as soon as we can arrange it. Iím not letting you get away."

"As if Iím letting you get away!" Rodney exclaimed. "Once weíre done here, weíre going to go see Jeannie and make it official.

"Itís a good thing I report to Gen. Carter now since Sumner never would have given me leave, if only to fuck me over. I think the general will be a lot more willing to let me have time for personal matters."

"Heíd damn well better if he wants my considerable brilliance concentrating on the program!"

John laughed. "We can add that to my job description."

"Husband of Rodney McKay? I like it."

"I meant security blanket and pacifier, but I like your description better," John chuckled.

"Pacifier?" Rodney asked, his eyebrows winging upward.

"Um, nerve soother?"

Rodneyís brows lowered as he tried to glower down at John.

"Husband," John settled on before raising his head to kiss Rodney lightly.

"That I like."

"Me too." Johnís hazel eyes were warm with love and the start of arousal, and it was Rodneyís turn to kiss him, shifting slightly so that his growing erection pressed deeper into Johnís ass.

"I like you here," John murmured, raising his knees again, his feet pressed flat to the bed next to Rodneyís hips.

"Here in bed with you or here?" Rodney asked, pushing up on one elbow and stroking Johnís chest with his free hand, playing with the links of the chain that held his dog tags.

"Both." John arched up under him, pressing into Rodneyís hand while clenching around Rodneyís cock, biting his lower lip at the growing pleasure.

"Good, because I love being here," Rodney whispered, rocking forward and groaning.

"Donít know which is better, you in me or me in you."

"Weíll just have to try it both ways a lot until you decide."

"Itís going to take a lot of research."

Rodney rocked forward, at the same time rubbing his thumb over Johnís nipple. "I think we can handle it."

"I like the way you handle it," John said in a near moan, squirming under Rodney.

"God, it feels good when you do that," Rodney whispered, leaning back on both arms and beginning to move, staring down into Johnís hazel eyes as they rocked together.

"Yeah, it does," John agreed, his hands gripping Rodneyís shoulders.

Dipping down so that he rubbed his belly against Johnís cock, Rodney nodded, gasping when John clenched down around him.

"Rodney!" John gasped his name, practically lunging up to press closer and force Rodneyís cock deeper.

"Oh fuck!" Rodney gasped, slamming forward, then pulling back, biting his lower lip when John followed him.

"God, you feel so good," John groaned, his head falling back as his back arched deeply.

"So do you." As he spoke, Rodney continued the long, slow strokes, enjoying watching Johnís reactions as much as the act.

"Weíre good together."

"Granted I donít have reams of data on the subject, but I think weíre pretty damn great together," Rodney gasped.

"Yes," John agreed breathlessly before curling a hand around the nape of Rodneyís neck and pulling him into a kiss which Rodney returned hungrily, his whole body tightening as they slid against each other. John groaned, somehow pulling Rodney closer so he felt surrounded by the other man.

"Good, so good," Rodney whispered, pressing downward against Johnís body, feeling him tense under him.

"Fucking perfect," John corrected raspily, catching Rodneyís lower lip between his teeth and nibbling while Rodney moved over him, his strokes coming harder and faster as his need grew. Johnís breathing grew heavier, becoming near sobs of need as they slammed together, the slow build up giving way to urgency.

"John, god, yes," Rodney moaned, the words distorted by the hold John had on his lip, and he moved to close a hand on Johnís hip, tilting his body and opening him up even more. John cried out at the movement, releasing Rodneyís lip and tensing at the rush of pleasure.

"Close," he gasped, clutching Rodney harder.

"Me too," Rodney panted, kissing John harshly as his fingers tightened on Johnís hips.

"Good," John moaned, the word unintelligible, muffled as it was by Rodneyís mouth. Rodney drove into him again, and John yelled, his entire body stiffening and shaking as he came, only to be followed within seconds by Rodney, who shouted out his pleasure against Johnís mouth as he followed him over.

"Damn," John gasped out a little later, "twice in one morning. Weíre going to kill each other, but what a way to go."

"Donít talk about killing," Rodney muttered.

"Sorry. Satisfactioníll bring us back."

"Thatís better."

"I thought you might like that."

"Yeah, I do." Rodney gave him a crooked smile, then collapsed on top of him.

"I wonder if we can get away with hiding in here for a whole day?" John mused, lazily stroking Rodneyís back.

"Iíd say we should try it, but I really donít want to survive on Powerbars and MREs. Hopefully Elizabeth will have arranged for more supplies to be brought out along with the rest of our equipment."

"Good point. And we really do need to find the showers or whatever the Ancients had here. Although not quite yet."

"Last time we didnít move, we did end up moving," Rodney chuckled.

"Yeah, well, Iím almost forty years old. I donít think I could manage that again for a while," John laughed.

"Oh, did I wear out the big, buff Air Force man?" Rodney teased.

"As if you could either!" John snorted. "And this is one way I really donít mind being worn out."

"Mmm, me either." Rodney yawned and stretched, pouting as he slipped out of Johnís ass, then rolling to his back and squawking when he almost fell off the bed, but Johnís grab saved him and pulled him back onto the bed.

"No bruising or breaking anything. I have plans for tonight."

"I suppose we might have recovered by then," Rodney laughed, the sound broken by someone banging on the door.

"Itís a damn good thing that didnít happen ten minutes earlier or Iíd have had to shoot someone," John observed, intentionally raising his voice to be heard out in the hall.

"Weíve all been up for hours, lad," Carson laughed, "Iíd say weíve been remarkable patient!"

"Well, weíve been up for hours too!" Rodney shouted.

"Yeíre going to do yerselves an injury!" Carson exclaimed.


"Yeíre too old for that prolonged a... bout," Carson said, starting to laugh again.

"I really need to shoot him," John observed to the ceiling.

"Not until after he creates the gene therapy; after that, feel free."

John chuckled as he got up, pausing to pull on his boxers before opening the door. "Has anyone found the showers yet?"

"Yes, we did, and weíll tell you where they are once you come out," Daniel laughed.

"Oh my god, were you all out there listening?!" Rodney demanded from the bed.

"Certainly not!" Carson exclaimed.

"But itís time to get to work," Daniel said.

"Fine, fine, give us a minute to get some clothes and towels, and then you can lead us to the facilities." John shut the door in their faces.

"They were so listening," Rodney hissed from where he huddled under the blankets heíd grabbed.

"Itís been a few minutes since we finished," John pointed out. "Unless they stood out there in total silence for that time, they just go here and didnít have anything to listen to. Not thereíd be anything to be embarrassed about if they did; you were pretty damn spectacular, and I donít think Iím going to be sitting down much today," he admitted with a wry grin.

"Really?" Rodneyís expression changed to a wide smile.

"Really." John pulled him in for a quick, hard kiss. "Now grab some clothes. I want that shower."

"Fine, fine, Iím moving," Rodney grumbled as he climbed out of bed, rummaging around the floor for yesterdayís clothes and pulling them on.

"Good. We can explore some more of this place, and you can think about how Iím going to fuck you till you howl tonight," John said as he put on his clothes as well and grabbed clean ones for after the shower.

Rodney swallowed hard and glanced over at John. "You know, if I was able to get it up, that would have had me walking funny to the shower."

"And if I could get it up, you wouldnít be walking to the shower yet."

"But neither of us can, so weíd just better content ourselves with doing some work."

"Itíll help prevent interruptions once we can if we pacify them now," John chuckled before opening the door and finding Carson and Daniel still waiting.

"Yes?" Rodney asked dryly, attempting to stare them down and not blush.

"Congratulations," Daniel said, grinning.

"Thanks," John said, breaking into a smile as well. "We know this has all been pretty fast, but when itís right, why waste time?"

"Exactly," Rodney nodded emphatically, "Now, where are the showers?"

"Right this way," Carson said, leading them while Daniel headed off to let Elizabeth know that their erstwhile teammates had finally joined them.

"So," Rodney said, looking out the car window up at the well-cared-for house in the suburbs. "Here we are."

"I canít believe you havenít talked to your sister in three years because she got married," John said yet again, shaking his head.

Rodney winced at that but didnít say anything.

"Come on, letís go face the music. The worst that can happen is she slams the door in your face, but you have me, and Iím charming." John tried to make Rodney laugh.

"Gee, thanks," Rodney snorted, though a little of the tension left his shoulders, and he turned to give John a quick kiss. "All right, letís do this."

"Itís going to be fine." Once out of the car, John caught hold of Rodneyís hand and held it as they walked up to the door, and Rodney rang the bell.

A few moments later, the door opened, and a pretty blond woman stood there, looking at them blankly for a moment, followed by an expression of shock. "Mer?"

"Hi Jeannie." Rodney offered a lopsided, nervous smile. "Ióumówe wanted to come see you, to see how you were doing."

"Who is it, Mommy?" A young blonde girl ran up to her and looked at them from behind the shelter of her motherís legs.

Jeannie looked down at her daughter, then up at her brother and the stranger who was holding his hand. "This is your Uncle Meredith, sweetheart."

"Meredith?" John repeated, laughter clear in his voice.

"You call me that again and the wedding is off," Rodney growled under his breath.

"Wedding?" Jeannie exclaimed, proving that Rodney wasnít the only McKay sibling with sharp hearing.

"I guess that means youíre the bride," John snickered, showing a distinct lack of a sense of self-preservation.

Rodney glowered at him but didnít argue, and Madison leaned out around Jeannieís legs.

"But you have to wear a dress to be a bride, and youíre a man."

"Good point, I guess weíll both have to be grooms." John squatted down so he wasnít towering over the little girl while her mother hovered watchfully. "Hi, Iím John. Whoíre you?"

"Madison," she answered, growing bolder and moving away from her mother.

"Jeannie," Rodney began again, "I wanted to come and talk to you."

"We have some news," John added, looking up at her for a moment before returning his attention to Madison.

"So I gathered," she said dryly. "Why donít you come in?"

Rodney smiled again, this time a little more firmly. "Yeah, coming in would be good, really good."

"What did you bring me?" Madison demanded.

"Bring you? Oh shióshoot!" Rodney exclaimed.

"Sorry, honey," John said. "We were someplace without any stores, so we couldnít get you anything. How Ďbout we get you a pretty new dress for our wedding to make up for it?"

"Madison!" Jeannie exclaimed. "Iím sorry, she shouldnít have said that," she added to the men, with a glare at her unrepentant daughter.

"I remember you asking similar things when you were little," Rodney said, before glancing at John and back at Jeannie. "Oh, um, Jeannie, this is John Sheppard; John, this is my sister, Jeannie."

"Hi, Jeannie," John said, straightening up to offer her his hand. "Iím the guy whoís marrying your brother."

"Iím glad to meet you, John." Ignoring his hand, Jeannie hugged him. "And Iím glad you brought Mer to his senses."

"Excuse me?" Rodney sputtered.

"It was mutual," John replied. "I was pretty messed up before I met him."

"Well, Iím glad you did."

"As I am," Rodney cut in. "Now weíve been traveling for hours; any chance we could have some coffee?"

"Oh, of course." Jeannie flushed with embarrassment at having kept them standing in the foyer and led them into the kitchen, where she put on some coffee. As she was doing that, a man came into the kitchen and eyed the newcomers curiously.

"Look who came to visit," Jeanne exclaimed, and he looked at her blankly. "Itís Mer. My brother," she added when he still looked blank.

"Oh." Kaleb eyed him curiously while John stood back and watched to see how this would go.

"Kaleb, right?" Rodney asked, glancing over at John for reassurance. "Yes, Iím RodneyóJeannieís brother." The last was added in a lower tone.

"Theyíre getting married," Madison exclaimed, running over to her father. "And Iím going to get a new dress!"

"Married?" Kaleb looked a little dazed, understandably under the circumstances.

"Hi," John said, stepping forward. "Iím John Sheppard."

"Itísóitís good to meet you," Kaleb offered.

Rodney took a deep breath. "We came by to tell you that and because I wanted to say IóIím sorry."

Jeannie looked at him for a long moment before she reached out and hugged him hard. "Youíre such an ass, Mer."

"Mommy! You said a bad word!"

"I think this time weíll ignore it, sweetie," Kaleb murmured as he watched Rodney hesitantly hug Jeannie back.

John hid a smile and made a mental note to keep a hand ready to clamp over Rodneyís mouth when Madison was around. "Told you so," he said softly to Rodney.

"And youíre never going to let me forget it, are you?" Rodney muttered back.

"Nope," John replied cheerfully, making Jeannie and Kaleb laugh.

"Well, Mer, I think youíve found the perfect person for you."

"Whatís with the Mer thing?" John asked.

"Itís his name. Meredith Rodney McKay."

"And if you ever call me Mer or Meredith, you are living on the couch," Rodney said quickly.

"But thatís a pretty name," Madison commented.

"Yes, it is," John agreed, valiantly trying not to laugh, "but I like Rodney just fine."

"Family..." Rodney grumbled, and Jeannie smiled.

"Itís good for you to have one again."

"He wonít let so long go by before his next visit," John promised her, glad that they would have ZPMs to ensure two-way gate travel when they did get to Atlantis.

"And just so you know, after dinner, weíre going to have a long talk," Jeannie warned.

John winced, wondering if Rodney would kill him if he ran away.

"Great, that sounds just... great," Rodney said, looking as if he was anticipating surgery without anesthesia and catching hold of Johnís hand, holding on tightly.

"Weíre having tofurky," Madison said brightly.

If possible, John looked even more appalled than Rodney.

"To-furkey?" Rodney asked hesitantly.

"Itís turkey made from tofu," Kaleb offered helpfully, and Jeannie nodded.

"Itís his specialty."

John managed not to groan. "Great. Turkeyís my favorite food," he said, hoping he sounded enthusiastic rather than like a man about to face a firing squad.

"Is there anything we can do to help?" Rodney asked.

"No, weíve got it," Jeannie said. "Take your coffee and relax in the living room for a while."

Rodney frowned slightly. "How is sitting in your living room visiting with you?"

"You can play a game with me in there," Madison suggested.

"And then we can visit during and after dinner," Jeannie said.

"Come on, Rodney, Iím sure Jeannie and Kaleb would like a little time to themselves," John urged, taking Madisonís hand in his and Rodneyís in his other hand.

"Okay," Rodney nodded, "if you need any help..." He looked over at Jeannie and Kaleb.

"You are helping," Jeannie assured him with a nod toward Madison.

"So what game do you want to play?" John was asking the little girl as they walked into the living room hand-in-hand.

"Monopoly?" she suggested hopefully, and Rodney frowned.

"Do you know how to play that?"

She smiled slyly. "Well, Mommy and Daddy usually let me have a pair of amusements to start..." she said suggestively.

"Uh huh..." Rodney murmured, and John chuckled.

"You have a budding con artist here."

"She obviously takes after her mother."

"So, can I have them?"

"Only if you land on them and buy them, just like anyone else," John replied, still grinning.

"Youíre no fun," she pouted, and Rodney chuckled.

"Heís a lot of fun, Madison."

John kicked him while smiling at Madison. "Itís a lot more fun to win when you donít cheat," he informed her gently.

"Oh fine," she giggled, pulling a Monopoly Jr box out of a cabinet.

"You are so like your uncle," John murmured, smiling at them both.

"Which is a very good thing," Rodney commented as he helped Madison set up the board.

"Yeah, it is."

"You look like Daddy does before he kisses Mommy," Madison observed to John.

Rodney cleared his throat and busied himself sorting out the money while John looked at Madison, grinned, and then leaned over to kiss Rodney lightly.

"And thatís how Mommy looks after!"

John grinned at her again. "Then I guess your mommy and daddy are very happy."

"Yes," Rodney paused and looked toward the kitchen where he could hear Jeannie and Kaleb talking and laughing together, "I guess they are."

"And that didnít hurt a bit," John murmured to him.

"What color do you want to be?" Madison asked, holding out the pieces.

After a glance at the pieces, John made sure not to pick yellow. He smiled faintly as he said, "I like being blue."

"And Iíll take, urmm, the green one," Rodney said, almost choosing the horse before seeing Madisonís frown.

"And I get yellow," she said brightly, setting her piece on the ĎGoí square. "Now we need to roll to see who goes first."

"You go ahead and roll first," John suggested.

"Okay," she agreed, picking up the dice and rolling them.

"Howís it going out here?" Jeannie asked, bringing in a glass of milk for Madison and coffee for John and Rodney. "Do you take anything in your coffee, John?" she asked.

"No, black is great, thanks," John said, accepting the cup gratefully and inhaling the aromatic steam.

"Thanks, Mom," Madison grinned while Rodney nodded as well as he took a sip from his mug.

"I see you havenít forgotten what I taught you about coffee."

Jeannie smiled wryly. "Itís the one area where Kaleb and I agree to disagree. Iím not giving up my coffee."

"Thank goodness!"

John chuckled, taking his turn when Madison nudged him. "I have to agree. Coffee is definitely necessary."

"Watch him, Madison," Rodney whispered, "he cheats."

"I do not!" John protested, while Madison turned a suspicious stare on him.

"Iím not sure about John, honey, but I know your Uncle Meredith liked to try to get extra money when he passed Go."

"I did not!" Rodney huffed.

"Oh, so you accused me to deflect attention from yourself," John said, pretending to scowl at Rodney.

"I did no such thing!"

Taking advantage of their distraction, Madison took another turn and placed a ticket booth on another attraction.

"Iím going back in the kitchen, try not to cry too loudly when Maddy beats you," Jeannie laughed.

"Real men donít cry," John informed her loftily, spoiling the effect with a grin when she rolled her eyes at him.

"Bobby Jenson cried when his cat died," Madison informed them.

"Well, I donít blame him for that," Rodney told her.

"Neither do I," John assured them. "But I donít think losing a game is quite that bad."

"Hopefully not," Rodney chuckled.

"No, I donít cry if I lose," Madison said. "But if you want to, thatís okay."

"Maybe you should let one of us win then," Rodney retorted.

"That would be cheating too," Madison retorted. "Whoever wins has to do it on her own."

John chuckled at her choice of pronoun, showing that Madison fully intended to win.

"Oh really?" Rodney said, narrowing his eyes as he studied his niece. "Weíll see about that!"

"She definitely has your killer instinct when it comes to winning," John laughed to Rodney a while later as Madison regarded them smugly. "She slaughtered us."

"I should let the two of you play chess together," Rodney grumbled before straightening in shock when Madison got up and sat herself in his lap.

"Daddy taught me how to play; itís easy."

"Then maybe if we have time tomorrow, we can play a game," John said, desperately trying not to laugh at the expression on Rodneyís face.

"Wonderful," Rodney said weakly.

"You can just watch us if youíre not up to it," John teased him.

"Well, three people canít play chess at one time," Rodney pointed out.

"You can play the winner," Madison informed him, twisting around to peer up at his face.

"Wonderful." Rodney managed another queasy smile.

"Mommy! Uncle Rodney looks like heís going to be sick! You need to give him the slimy pink stuff!"

John was nearly doubled over as he fought not to howl with laughter.

"Iíll go get it," Jeannie promised while Rodney looked around frantically.

"No, no need for that at all! Iím fine!"

"You should take if you still feel sick. Itís icky, but getting sick is ickier," Madison informed him seriously.

"Thanks you for the thought, but I feel fine now." Rodney promised. "I really, really do."

"I promise to take good care of Uncle Rodney," John told her.

"See? Good hands!"

"Mommy always says itís better to take care of it if you donít feel good," Madison replied dubiously.

Rodney whimpered.

"Iíll make sure he does if he needs anything, but I think Uncle Rodneyís okay," John said.

"And I promise Iíll watch him too, honey," Jeannie added. "Now go and wash your hands; dinnerís almost ready."

Once Madison was gone, John grinned at Jeannie. "Sheís great."

"In a terrifying way!" Rodney put in, causing Jeannie to laugh.

"Sheís a McKay," John chuckled, and Jeannie nodded, sobering.

"She reminds me a lot of you when you were younger, Rodney," she said softly. "I think Kaleb and I are doing better for her than Mom and Dad ever did, though."

"That doesnít take much," Rodney snorted before sitting up, his eyes widening. "Not that I mean I think you two arenít doing a great job with her."

"I understood you," Jeannie said dryly. "Itíll be good for her if youíre going to be around a little more often. Or at all."

"I amówe are!" Rodney promised, glancing toward John. "As much as we can anyway; we may be working on something that requires us to be gone part of the time, but weóI missed you, Jeannie. Iím sorry I havenít kept in contact; I was wrong." He chewed his lower lip as he spoke and ducked his head.

Jeannie stared at him, her mouth hanging open, and then she turned to look at John, whose level gaze promised retribution if she didnít say something to Rodney.

"I missed you too, Mer," she said. "And I could have called you too instead of getting on my high horse and waiting for you to make the first move. Iím glad you did."

"Yes, well, Iím glad I did too," Rodney admitted, hesitantly reaching out to take Jeannieís hand, and she laced her fingers through his.

"Donít you dare disappear on me again, Mer."

"I wonít let him," John promised.

"Show a little faith!"

John reached over and caught hold of Rodneyís free hand. "I have total faith in you."

"Dinnerís ready!" Kaleb called, sticking his head out of the kitchen, and Rodney looked from John to Jeannie, smiling tremulously.

"I guess we should go get cleaned up as well."

John nodded, getting up and pulling Rodney to his feet as well. "Weíll be right there."

"The washroomís the second door to the left up the stairs," Jeannie offered. "Try to keep your clothes on while youíre up there."

"Jeannie!" Rodney exclaimed.

"Well, damn, what fun is that?" John laughed.

"The only kind of fun youíre going to have right now!" she chuckled, shooing them out of the room.

John drew Rodney into the bathroom and shut and locked the door behind them, then drew Rodney into his arms. "Okay?"

"Yeah." Rodney drew a shaky breath and leaned against Johnís chest. "Yeah, I think so. You think she is?"

"Yeah, sheís a lot like you." John kissed his temple. "Youíre both good."

"Thank you," Rodney murmured, tightening his arms around Johnís waist.

"Iím here for you," John whispered.

"Iím sorry Iím so messed up."

John barked a laugh. "And Iím the poster boy for well balanced? Weíll work stuff out together."

"So should we go visit your family next?" Rodney asked, straightening up enough to crook a smile at John.

Johnís smile froze for an instant before he consciously forced himself to relax. "Only one left is my dad, and heíd slam the door in our faces. Letís stick with yours, okay?"

"Oh, um, Iím sorry?" Rodney offered. "Obviously heís an asshole," he added quickly.

"Yeah," John agreed, "he is. But I like your sister and her family. Theyíre good people."

"When they arenít trying to pour Pepto-Bismol down my throat!"

John laughed. "Madison was just looking out for you."

"Fine, next time she can look out for you!"

"Iím sure she will eventually," John chuckled. "Wash your hands before they come looking for us."

"Has anyone ever told you that youíre bossy?" Rodney grumbled, stepping away from John to turn the water on and run his hands under it.

"And you know you love it," John retorted.

Rodney scowled, turned, raised his hands, and flicked water in Johnís face, making John laugh and grab him, pulling him into a kiss.

"Uncle Rodney! Uncle John!" Madison yelled from the other side of the door. "Mommy says you need to come down for dinner or you donít get dessert!"

"Wash your hands, John," Rodney murmured.

"But I have my own dessert right here," John chuckled even as he did wash his hands.

"And that you have to wait for until we get back to the hotel," Rodney reminded him. "Or we could save it for the honeymoon..."

John whirled around to gape at him, and Rodney snickered. "We are having the ceremony tomorrow as far as I know, right?"

"But Iím not planning to abstain tonight!"

"Then I suppose weíll have to wait until after dinner then," Rodney laughed, kissing John on the nose and opening the door to lead him out into the hall.

"I suppose I can restrain myself that long," John chuckled, following him back down to the kitchen.

"I cannot believe we have to change hotel rooms!" Rodney sputtered. "This is our wedding night; we shouldnít have to spend it searching for wherever they decided to shuttle us off to!"

"Rodney, they did a nice thing. Quit complaining," John half-laughed. "Weíll enjoy the suite, and I guarantee youíll enjoy the Jacuzzi."

"I suppose so," Rodney allowed, smiling lightly when they reached the door to their new room. "Iím just shocked."

"I think it was very nice of Jeannie and Kaleb, and weíre going to have fun. And weíre not coming out of the room tomorrow."

"And you believe I have a problem with this?" Rodney opened the door, pulled John inside and kissed him. "Weíre married; I canít believe it, but Iím certainly going to take advantage of it!"

"Oh please, take advantage of me!"

In answer, Rodney lifted Johnís left hand and kissed the base of his ring finger below the new gold band that circled it, and John smiled, reaching for Rodneyís hand to mirror the action. "Weíre really married."

"For better or worse and all that, even if they didnít get into that," Rodney nodded.

"Itís all going to be great," John said. "Even the problems, because weíll handle them together."

"How about we not talk about the problems," Rodney suggested, letting Johnís hand go to reach for his tie and begin loosening it.

"What did you have in mind instead? And will you still respect me in the morning?"

"Actually, I was hoping youíd get creative with me and then I could return the favor lateróand Iíll always respect you."

"I like the way you think." John reached for the buttons on Rodneyís shirt, slowly opening it.

"Of course you do; Iím a genius," Rodney rasped, pulling Johnís tie off and tossing it aside.

"My own not-so-humble one," John said, unknotting Rodneyís tie and getting rid of it, then pushing Rodneyís jacket and shirt off his shoulders.

"Damn right," he whispered, tugging at the buttons on Johnís shirt.

"And youíre all mine forever now," John replied, sliding a hand down over Rodneyís ass and pulling him closer.

"Mmhmm," Rodney murmured, rocking against John, pulling his shirt free of his pants and running his hands over Johnís chest.

"I love the way you touch me," John rasped, watching Rodneyís hands on him.

"I love having my hands on you," Rodney whispered, dragging his thumbs over Johnís nipples before kissing him again.

"Weíre going to have a hell of a time getting any work done. Especially since every time you bend over to peer under a console, I want to jump you," John chuckled, shivering as his nipples tightened.

"Oh wonderful, now Iím going to get hard every time I bend over," Rodney groaned.

"I have no problem with that," John laughed, unfastening Rodneyís pants and sliding a hand in to cup him, making him gasp.

"Iíll have to get roomier pants then."

"Now youíre just spoiling my fun."

"Well, if I donít, then I might have a stroke!"

"Iíd have to perform CPR then."

"You do know how to do it, right?"

"Of course! Youíre in good hands."

"I knew that already," Rodney retorted with a grin as he arched into Johnís grip, "but do you know how to do CPR?"

"I just said I did," John chuckled before nibbling on the tendon along the side of Rodneyís neck.

"Oh, thatís right, you did," Rodney gasped, his fingers tightening against Johnís chest as he bucked forward.

"Something distracting you?" John asked as his hand slid lower to brush his fingertips against Rodneyís balls.

Rodney squirmed, trying not to lose contact with Johnís hand as he gave in and wrenched at his own pants, dragging them down.

"Yes," John groaned, watching him. "Undress for me." He watched Rodney avidly, while taking advantage of the increased freedom of movement to use longer sweeps on Rodneyís cock.

"God, John," Rodney whimpered, the heat in the other manís eyes making him dry-mouthed and even harder though he wasnít sure that was possible.

"God, I love how you respond to me," John rasped, and Rodney staggered as he tried to kick off his shoes and step out of his pants all without losing the touch of Johnís hand on him.

"Careful," John chuckled throatily. "I plan to get years of pleasure out of you." He steadied Rodney with his free hand which then slid over his ass to lightly finger his hole.

"You know, you could get your clothes off too," Rodney commented before gasping when Johnís finger pressed inside him.

"But then Iíd have to let go of you," John pointed out. "Why donít you undress me instead," he suggested.

Rodney groaned but reached out to undo Johnís belt, pulling it free from his belt loops and tossing it to the floor before working on the button and zipper, slipping a hand inside to cup Johnís cock through his boxer briefs, making John groan and his hips rock forward into Rodneyís hand.

"I love your hands," he rasped. "And your ass," he added, crooking his finger.

"And I love you," Rodney whispered, pushing Johnís pants down and pressing against him, whimpering at the feel of flesh on flesh.

"Love you too," John agreed, kicking his shoes off and stepping out of his pants, then slowly walking them over to the bed.

"I hope they put the lube where we had it," Rodney moaned, half-twisting to reach for the drawer of the bedside table and pulling it open.

"Me too. This would be a hell of a time to stop to run down to the pharmacy," John agreed, crooking his finger again, making Rodney cry out and shudder.

"So get it already and get in me!"

John chuckled throatily, pushing Rodney onto the bed and yanking the nightstand drawer open. He pulled the lube out and squeezed it onto his fingers, making sure Rodney could see his every move. In return, Rodney sprawled on the bed, spreading his legs and stroking himself with one hand while he played with his nipple with the other. John stopped, staring hungrily at Rodney. He licked his lips and moved to kneel between Rodneyís legs, two slick fingers going unerringly to the tight opening and pushing into him.

"Oh fuck!" Rodney gasped, arching upward, his body clenching down around Johnís fingers while he wrapped his legs around Johnís waist, pulling him closer.

"I plan to." John pressed deeper, twisting and rubbing with his fingers.

"Before you make me come would be nice!"

"Maybe Iím planning to make you come before and after."

"So you want to be a widower after less than twelve hours of marriage?!"

John burst into laughter, his fingers jostling inside Rodney, making him squeak and squirm in response. John grinned down at him, his other hand letting go of Rodneyís cock to slick his own, and then he was finally pushing into Rodney, his hands gripping his husbandís hips.

"John!" Rodney gasped, arching upward to take John deeper, at the same time pulling him down for a hungry kiss, which John returned with equal fervor as he began to fuck Rodney at a languid pace.

Rodney moaned into the kiss, thrusting his tongue into Johnís mouth at the same pace as they were moving together, his erection pressed between them.

"Love you," John whispered against Rodneyís lips, lowering himself so his belly rubbed over Rodneyís erection with every stroke.

"Ditto," Rodney moaned, running his hands over Johnís back as he tightened down around him, each thrust making him gasp.

"So fucking perfect," John rasped, gradually increasing his pace as his arousal grew.

Rodney nodded, shuddering as John hit his prostate time after time, and his vocalizations took on a desperate tone as he humped up against John. Hearing the tone, John curled a fist around Rodneyís cock and began jerking him in time with his thrusts into him, driving him on.

"John, god, yes, John," Rodney wailed, bucking up off the bed, his body convulsing as he came.

John groaned desperately as he continued driving into Rodney as he came, watching and listening to his pleasure before finally losing the last shreds of his control and slamming into him and coming as well.

They lay there together, panting, their hands lazily stroking over sweat-slicked skin, until Rodney chuckled. "If this is married sex, I think I like it."

"Weíll have to keep repeating it as often as humanly possible," John agreed.

"I think I could live with that," Rodney murmured, smiling up at him.

"Good thing since this means youíre stuck with me now," John replied, raising their linked left hands to show their rings.

"So donít go vanishing to another universe or doing stupid suicidal things that will lead to me having a heart attack."

"I have no intention of going anywhere without you."

"That isnít promising that you arenít going on any stupid suicidal things," Rodney pointed out in what he thought was a logical tone.

"No, it isnít. Because if thatís what I have to do to protect you, I will."

Rodney sighed and brushed his free hand over Johnís messy hair. "Okay, itís our wedding night, and Iím not going to spend it arguing, but we are going to revisit this discussion at another time in the near future."

John smiled faintly, kissing Rodney lightly. "For tonight, letís just enjoy ourselves."

"Not arguing that at all." Rodney chuckled, holding Johnís hand up so that he could admire the ring heíd bought when theyíd returned from Antarctica.

John slipped out of Rodney and moved slightly to one side, letting them both settle more comfortably. "I know you donít like me to move, but I saw a bottle of champagne on the table," he said.

"For champagne, I can live without the cuddling," Rodney commented, leaning into nibble on Johnís lower lip before smacking him on the ass. "So, go get it!"

"So demanding," John chuckled, kissing him before getting up and going over to grab the bottle in the ice bucket and the glasses, bringing them back to the bed.

"And you love me that way," Rodney laughed, rolling out of bed to go clean up in the bathroom, then coming back to settle on the bed beside him. "Just like I love you this way."

John handed him a glass of champagne. "Then hereís to us, made for each other in every universe."

Rodney took the glass and clinked it against Johnís before kissing him again. "And you donít even have to be a genius to know that."

"Rodney?" John walked into the lab, shaking his head in amusement. "The chopperís landing with Dr. Zelenka on board. Pry yourself free to greet him."

"Do you or do you not want a chance to go to Atlantis?" Rodney grumbled, pulling himself out of the console heíd been examining.

"Do you or do you not want to actually meet the man whoís going to be your second?" John retorted.

"Iím coming, Iím coming," Rodney grumbled, straightening up and pulling his heavy fleece sweater down. "And hrmm, the honeymoon is definitely over, usually I get at least groped when you find me bent over things."

"Iím saving it up for tonight," John chuckled. "Weíre already late."

"And you call me pushy!"

"Thatís because you are," John said, contradicting himself by pulling Rodney into a kiss which left Rodney grinning and in a slight daze as they walked into the main room in time to watch the elevator from the surface come to a stop and open.

"Who flew him in? Lorne?"

John nodded. "Yes, weíre keeping things in the family now that we have most of our team members here."

"Rah rah and all that wonderful stuff." Rodneyís eyes narrowed slightly as Lorne spotted them and steered a short man in their direction.

"Zelenka, you took your time getting here," Rodney announced.

The newcomerís eyebrows rose, and the blue eyes narrowed slightly behind his glasses. "You took your time asking me."

"Red tape isnít my problem," Rodney sniffed. "It certainly isnít my fault it took months to detangle you from it."

Zelenka chuckled. "But now I am here, and we can get to work."

John groaned. "Now the honeymoonís really over."

"I promise Iíll make it up to you later, dear; now go take Lorne and go play with the drones," Rodney chuckled, pulling John in for a kiss before turning to Radek and smirking. "Come with me, and weíll see what you can do."

"Anything you can," Radek shot back, glancing back to watch the two officers walk away.

"Just so you know, that doesnít include my husband," Rodney warned in what he thought was a threatening voice.

"I assume that would be the wild-haired major you just kissed?"

Despite himself, Rodney grinned. "Yes, that would be the man; if you have fantasies about carnal relations with a military person, find another one."

Radek stopped in his tracks and turned to stare at the other scientist in disbelief. "Are you under a psychiatristís care?"

Rodney goggled at him. "Of course not and I donít need to beóare you?"

"Then why would you think I intend to try to steal your husband?"

"I was simply warning you it wouldnít be worth the effort to try." They reached a lab, and Rodney held the door open for Radek, nodding at the partially deconstructed console heíd been working on. "There you are, letís see what you can do."

Shaking his head and muttering under his breath in Czech, Radek dove in, ignoring the insanity of the people here in favor of the extraordinary technology.

"Oh, and if you break it, Iím kicking you back to Europe," Rodney commented, taking a seat at a desk and bringing up a program on his laptop.

The Czech grew somewhat louder and more vehement, and Rodney grinned, glancing over at him from time to time, noting with satisfaction when he began to make some progress with the problem. Some time later, Radek made a sound of satisfaction and straightened up. "This is extraordinary."

"So, still wanting to go home?" Rodney asked.

Radek stared at him before smiling slowly. "I am home."

Rodneyís grin returned and he stood, holding out a hand for the other man to shake. "I have a feeling this is the beginning of a brilliant friendship."

Radek returned the grin as he took Rodneyís hand. "The universe should tremble."

"And it will, especially once the gate teams find that other ZPM so we can really start planning for traveling to Atlantis."

"That is so hard to believe. Atlantis," Radek repeated prayerfully. "We shall solve the mystery of the ages and create entirely new branches of science. Generations of scientists will weep with envy at our names."

"If youíre nice, Iíll let you talk to the major; heís actually been thereógranted it was in another universe, but he knows the most of any of us."

Radek eyed Rodney oddly. "Another universe?"

"Weíre talking about going to a city built by aliens, and youíre having an issue believing in parallel universes?" Rodney asked incredulously. "He went there and their John Sheppard came here until I got them both home."

"I think I need vodka for this conversation."

Rodney snickered. "Not while youíre working."

Radek sighed. "Unfortunate. Then again, I would hate to end up in the wrong galaxy, so is probably best."

"Remind me not to let you dial the gate."

"I was not planning to!"

"Yes, the colonel said that his Zelenka hated to go out of the city..."

Radek growled. "I plan to go to study technology, not to tramp through mud!"

"Iíll introduce you to Carson, heís of the same mind you are," Rodney laughed.

"Carson? Ah, Dr. Beckett? I would be pleased to meet him. His work in genetics is very interesting."

"Even if it isnít coming along quickly enough to get me the ATA gene," Rodney grumbled.

"Yes, it would be good to be able to make the technology work ourselves. But there are several people here who can, yes?"

"John and Carson being the primary ones, yes," Rodney nodded. "But neither of them like sitting in the lab, turning things on for me."

Radek stared at Rodney before bursting into laughter. "It looked otherwise to me," he snickered.

"What do youóoh." Rodney flushed, at the same time rubbing his thumb over his wedding ring. "Yes, well, your innuendo may be true, but it doesnít help further my research any."

Radek continued to chuckle. "No, I should think it distracting."

"Exactly! Not that I mind at times," Rodney added quickly. "So, do you want to keep working or go see your quarters?"

"I would like to continue working, but I have been up for more than thirty-six hours now, so it would be best to show me where I can sleep."

"I promise itíll still be here once you wake up," Rodney said, saving his work and motioning Radek toward the door as he keyed his headpiece. "All right, where were Zelenkaís things so I know which room to put him in?"

Radek followed, his weariness catching up to him now that he wasnít concentrating on the technology, and Rodney glanced over at him, frowning slightly. "You going to make it?"

"Since I do not wish to sleep on the floor and be stepped on, yes."

"I meant, do you need some help," Rodney said somewhat stiffly.

"Thank you, no. If I stop, I will fall asleep and likely be stepped on."

"Only by the soldiers," Rodney promised, leading Radek to the room heíd been assigned and steering him inside. "Maj. Lorne said your things had all been delivered here. Get some sleep, then find me once you get upóafter you take a shower."

Radek chuckled. "As I said, it has been a very long day."

"Then go to sleep!"

"I intend to. Good night!" Ignoring Rodney after that, Radek dropped to the bed to begin taking his boots off.

"Sleep well, Zelenka," Rodney called, closing the door behind him, humming under his breath as he went in search of John.

"Radek all settled in?" John asked as Rodney let himself into their quarters.

"If you call passed out on his bed settled in, then yes, he is."

John chuckled. "Well, heís here, and he has a room. That sounds settled to me."

"He also says he isnít going on any missions," Rodney laughed, coming up behind John, looping his arms around his shoulders and looking at his computer. "What are you working on?"

"Performance reports," John said unhappily. "Work assignments. Supply lists."

"Ahh, a few of your favorite things then," Rodney chuckled.

"Youíre so funny." John leaned back against Rodney and sighed.

"I know, I try," Rodney chuckled, kissing the side of his neck. "So, should we get something to eat and see if Elizabeth and Daniel have found out anything interesting today?"

"Sounds good. If Iím really lucky, all this paperwork will disappear while Iím gone," John said, getting to his feet and pulling Rodney in for a real kiss.

"I could always try to find a way to send it to the colonel, but then youíd end up with his," Rodney laughed, keeping an arm around Johnís waist as they headed out of their quarters and down to the room that had been designated the mess hall.

"Somehow that doesnít sound like an improvement to me. I need to start delegating some of this to Lorne. What else is a second in command good for?" John finished wryly.

"I say why havenít you done it before?" Rodney chuckled.

"Apparently, I still need to get used to being in command."

Rodney snickered and leaned in closer to whisper in Johnís ear. "How about later tonight you practice giving me orders."

"Mmm, I can think of a few that Iíll reserve just for you."

"Youíd better!" Rodney laughed, and John chuckled as well.

"Since Iím not sticking a for sale sign on my ass, I can guarantee it."

"Oh, thatís just perverse," Rodney laughed as they entered the mess.

"And here I thought you liked perverse."

"Not when it comes with a sign in your ass!"

John gawked at him. "No one is sticking a sign up my ass! I said on! Not that I want that either."

"Well, neither do I! Oh, come on, we obviously need food," Rodney grumbled, steering John toward the buffet line.

"You always need food," John pointed out. "Thank God you donít live on MREs and Powerbars," he added with a shudder.

"I think Iíd rather suck on a lemon."

"And I think Iíd rather you didnít!"

"Well, of course!" Rodney snorted, reaching for a tray and beginning to load it up with food.

John grinned at him before gathering his own meal. "Somehow this doesnít live up to the last restaurant we went to."

"Of course, Iíd imagine the food once we get to Atlantis will make this seem like fine cuisine," Rodney chuckled, grinning back at John while the cooks spooned food onto a plate and held it out to him.

"You have no idea," John laughed. "But at least weíll have two-way gate travel, so we wonít have supply issues."

"Once we get a new ZPM back here anyway; since the one on Proclarush is virtually inaccessible, we have to hope that the one Camulus booby-trapped in the other reality is all right here."

"True, but we know where to find the one on Dagan, and weíll do it without involving the Brotherhood so we donít lose it the way they did. So weíll have at least two fully charged ZPMs even if we have to wait to get that one and send it back, plus we know there are others in Pegasus. Weíll find Ďem. And hell, you might figure out how to recharge Ďem or build new ones before that."

"Might?" Rodneyís tone rose as he glared over his shoulder at John, almost stumbling into his chair.

"Hey, consider it a challenge. Prove you can do it sooner than we can find one of the hidden ones."

"What will you give me if I do it?" Rodney shot back in return, dropping down into his seat and glaring at Daniel, who was trying not to laugh.

"What do you want?"

"The same thing we had last night and this morning," Rodney shot back, cutting a piece of chicken and biting into it.

"I can pretty much guarantee you that, as often as humanly possibly," John promised, ignoring Danielís snicker.

Rodney giggled at that, but the sound was cut-off mid laugh and his eyes widened, a hand going to his throat as he stared down at his plate and began to gasp for air.

"Rodney!" John leaped to his feet, nearly lunging around the table toward his husband while Daniel was turning toward him, looking alarmed. John realized what must have happened, having heard from the other Rodney often enough about his allergy to citrus, and he quickly checked Rodneyís pockets until he found the epi-pen heíd been sure would be there. A moment later he stabbed it into Rodneyís thigh.

"Come on, Rodney, breathe," he ordered, his eyes dark with fear and concern.

As the drug took effect, Rodneyís strangled gasps for air grew slightly easier, but he leaned against Johnís side, his face ashen and his eyes closed.

"All right, let me through." Carsonís voice rose above the small crowd that had gathered, followed by the man himself as he pushed to the table.

"Carson! Thank God!" John looked up at him without letting go of Rodney, clearly having no intention of moving away. "He had an allergic reaction. There must have been citrus in the food," he added, feeling guilty that he hadnít noticed and warned Rodney. "He needs a new epi-pen too, and I want some as well."

"Of course, of course," Carson murmured, checking Rodneyís vital signs and clucking to himself. "Weíll be getting you to the infirmary, Rodney; dinna fret though, thanks to the majorís quick action, yeíll be fine."

"Why the hell..." Rodney panted, "serve citrus on the food and not... put a sign?"

"They will in future," John assured him fiercely, remembering the signs in Atlantis on the very rare items that contained citrus. For the most part, Atlantis had been citrus-free, and John had a new understanding of why.

"Aye," Carson nodded, finally stepping back when a stretcher arrived and the attendants moved to shift Rodney on to it once John reluctantly let go of him.

The major went with them, holding Rodneyís hand tightly all the way, something no one was insane enough to try to prevent.

Daniel had started to follow as well, but Elizabeth arrived and demanded an explanation, then headed for the kitchen to warn everyone there how citrus would be dealt with in future. After a momentary hesitation, Daniel followed her instead, equally concerned for Rodneyís continued well-being.

When Rodney opened his eyes, they were in the small infirmary, Carson and his staff busy taking readings and poking at him while John steadfastly refused to move. "Sorry," he whispered in between gasps for breath.

"Iím the one whoís sorry," John said, his grip tightening on Rodneyís hand. "I knew you were allergic; I should have been paying more attention. I wonít make that mistake again," he promised fervently.

"Know enough to check before I eat things, not your fault." Rodney gripped Johnís hand tightly for a second. "You start feeling guilty and Iím going to...," he paused to pant for breath, "...kick your ass."

"As long as youíre here to do it, thatís fine by me." John raised Rodneyís hand to press a soft kiss to the back of it. "I donít ever want to do that again."

"Hope not," Rodney sighed, closing his eyes again.

"Love you," John whispered, unable to look away from Rodneyís tired features.

"Heís going to be fine, Major," Carson said quietly, patting Johnís shoulder. "Ye acted quickly and did the right thing; heíll just need some rest now."

"I could have lost him," John whispered, raising shadowed hazel eyes to meet Carsonís gaze.

"But ye didnít and ye wonít."

"I canít lose him too," John admitted almost inaudibly, now staring down at Rodney with his heart in his eyes. Carson squeezed his arm, then slipped away, leaving the couple alone. John hesitated, then climbed up on the bed, somehow squeezing in next to Rodney and wrapping himself around him, clinging to him.

"John..." Rodney murmured some time later, shifting to rub his face against Johnís shoulder.

"Right here," John whispered, holding him close.

"Feel like a truck ran me over."

"So do I. You scared me to death. Donít do that again," John ordered.

"Rather not," Rodney murmured, rubbing Johnís arm. "Thanks."

"It was purely self interest. Where am I going to get regular sex if you keel over?" John nuzzled Rodneyís throat, slowly relaxing.

"Oh ha ha," Rodney muttered. "Youíre so funny, Major."

John raised his head, meeting Rodneyís gaze. "Trust me, itís better for everyone if I laugh about it," he said quietly, the remembered fear in his eyes causing Rodney to hug him as tightly as he was able.

"Iím okay. It wonít happen again; Iíll be more careful in the future," he promised.

"Iíll be more careful in future," John replied fervently. "And Elizabeth already talked to the kitchen staff."

"Sorry to be so much trouble." Rodney closed his eyes again and rested his head against Johnís shoulder.

"Youíre worth it," John murmured before pressing a gentle kiss to Rodneyís temple.

"Can we go back to our room now?" Rodney asked pathetically.

"We need to get Carsonís okay first," John said, looking around.

"Why? I can breathe now," Rodney grumbled.

"Because heís the doctor, and itíll make me feel better."

"Fine, fine, so where is he?"

"Yeíre supposed to be sleeping," Carson said as he came around the curtain and picked up Rodneyís wrist to take his pulse.

"Want to do it in a bed where thereís room enough for us."

Carson sighed. "You should be under observation..."

"Iíll watch him," John assured him.

"Please, Carson?" Rodney tried to look as pathetic as possible, not that it was too much of a stretch at that point.

"Och, yeíre both going to be great trials to me, I can see. Get on wií ye then." Despite Carsonís grumbling, he was smiling.

John lost no time in getting up and helping Rodney to his feet. "Thanks, Carson!"

"Remind me to get some more some more epi-pens," Rodney sighed as they started back to their room.

"Already got Ďem," John replied, an arm around Rodneyís shoulders to hold him close. "Lots of Ďem. At least now I understand that part of the colonelís message."

"What part?"

"When he told me to consider buying stock in Dey Laboratories," John replied wryly.

"Whereówhat are you talking about, John?" Rodney tried to straighten up and stare at him.

"They make the epi-pens. And I have a feeling that he saw one allergic reaction and started getting them in by the gross, just like I plan to."

"Youíre going to carry them?"

"Damn right! And so will everyone else if I have anything to say about it!"

"Oh." Rodney grew quiet at that.

"What, you thought I could see you like that and not react? Idiot, I love you, and Iím not into necrophilia."

"No, no, not at all," Rodney said quickly, pulling John to a stop, not caring that they were in the middle of the corridor. "I justóyouó"

John sighed and pulled him into a tight hug. "Like I said, I love you."

Rodney burrowed into the embrace, hiding his face in the curve of Johnís neck. "Love you too; can we go to our room now?"

"Of course." John kept an arm around Rodney as they walked down the hall, keeping him close.

"How late is it?"

"Not very. Itís about ten."

"Ah, thatís not bad." Rodney paused as they walked and frowned. "Iím rambling, arenít I?"

"Yup, but itís okay. Itís kind of cute."

"Should I be worried that you find the fact that Iím cute when Iím half dead and disoriented?"

"Naw, part of itís relief that youíre still alive. And I always think youíre cuddly."

"Right now, being cuddly is fine with meóand youíre cuddly too," Rodney sighed.

John gawked at him. "Me? Iím bony!"

"Are you arguing with the half-dead man?"

"I wouldnít dream of it," John assured him, steering him into their quarters. "I canít wait till we get a ZPM here; I got used to doors opening for me in Atlantis."

"Spoiled," Rodney murmured, leaning in against him more heavily as the door closed behind them.

"Just wait till we get to Atlantis and you get the gene therapy. Youíll feel the same." John led him to the bed and nudged him down, then knelt down to take Rodneyís shoes off.

Rodney relaxed against the pillows and closed his eyes. "Even then youíll still be flaunting your gene at me."

"Actually, Iíll be doing more flaunting once I get the jeans off."

"Insane," Rodney laughed quietly.

"And Iím all yours."

Blue eyes opened, then narrowed and Rodney reached out to grab Johnís left hand.

"Have I mentioned how hot it is when you get possessive?"

"Sex addict," Rodney grumbled, but he didnít let go of Johnís hand.

"Rodney addict," John corrected, stretching up to kiss him.

"Oh good." The words were sighed against his lips, and Rodney released his hand to wrap his arms around Johnís waist, pulling him close.

"We have to find a way to send a thank you present to the colonel and his Rodney. Without them, we might never have met." John brushed a light kiss over Rodneyís lips.

"Once we find some more ZPMs," Rodney sighed, stroking his hands over Johnís back, his eyes half-closed again.

"Which we can worry about tomorrow." John kissed him again before undressing him and then standing up and making short work of his own clothes. Naked, he slid into bed next to Rodney and pulled the covers over them, Rodney sighing and curling closer to him, already more asleep than not.

John watched him for a little while, a tender smile curving his lips, before finally closing his eyes and falling asleep as well.

"So itís just cold, right? No feeling like youíre being ripped apart or turned inside out or anything?" Rodney asked, staring at the stargate with mixed amounts of anticipation and trepidation.

"Do you really think Iíd suggest you do it if it hurt? Not to mention that your alternate does it frequently," John pointed out, taking Rodneyís hand as he started up the ramp.

"Of course he does," Rodney murmured, tightening his fingers around Johnís and wincing as they walked into the event horizon.

On the other side, John drew Rodney to one side so the two Marines accompanying them, Lt. Cadman and Sgt. Stackhouse, could come through, and he looked around with interest. "If I didnít know we were on another planet, I couldnít tell from looking around. This place looks like it could be Earth. Well, welcome to your first new world, Rodney."

"It looks surprisingly normal," Rodney admitted, and Laura chuckled.

"They all seem to, or at least all the ones Iíve been to so far."

John grinned. "You should have seen some of the mission reports from the other reality. Gen. OíNeill, well, he was a colonel at the time, used to complain that every world was covered in trees."

"Well, at least trees would keep us all from getting sunburned."

"I think your SPF 100 sun block will take care of that," John chuckled.

"Yes, yes, tease away; weíll se who is uncomfortable tonight because they have a sunburn."

"Yes, Rodney," John said, obviously amused. "How Ďbout we go get that ZPM now?"

"Am I holding us back?" Rodney sniffed.

"Of course not." John slid an arm around Rodneyís waist, urging him on.

"Just checking."

"Iím just amazed youíre not dragging us behind in your headlong race toward it," John chuckled.

"If I did, weíd probably fall down some crevasse and get stuck there," Rodney sniffed.

"Ah, optimism, thatís what I like to hear," Laura Cadman said from behind them.

"Get used to it, Lieutenant," Rodney sniffed.

"From a distance," John warned, a possessive hand on Rodneyís back.

"Donít worry, sir, Iím keeping my hands and everything else to myself."

"Good idea. Weíre still on our honeymoon, after all."

"From the look of things, that may still be the case ten years from now, sir," Stackhouse offered.

"I certainly hope so."

"People, concentrate on finding the ZPM," Rodney grumbled.

"I thought that was your job, Dr. McKay?" Laura said with spurious innocence, making John cough as he tried to cover a snicker.

"If you ever get stuck in my head, Iím going to torment you unmercifully," Rodney muttered.

"I think Iíll skip that if itís all the same to you," Laura replied. Like the others, sheíd read the mission reports from the other universe, so she knew what Dr. McKay was referring to, and she really hoped that was one she never got to experience for herself.

"And if it happens, donít push me in the way either!" Stackhouse laughed.

"Donít worry, Iím the only one whoís going to... um, never mind," John amended, realizing that his comment wasnít really appropriate from a senior officer to subordinates.

"ZPM, Major, think ZPM," Rodney grinned.

"I am," John assured him, trying to ignore the sounds of Stackhouse and Cadmanís amusement.

"Uh huh..."

"Well, thatís what Iím trying to concentrate on."

The two Marines made strangled noises as they tried not to laugh, and John glanced back at them, an eyebrow quirking.

"KP!" he threatened, although the amusement in his hazel eyes negated the threat.

"Can either of you two actually cook?" Rodney asked.

"I can cook up a great explosive," Laura offered.

"I can make nachos," Stackhouse offered.

"Thatís a Ďnoí to putting them on KP then, Major," Rodney said sternly.

"Clean up," John replied succinctly.

"That works."

"Bet we could break them all in a week," Laura observed to Stackhouse, who snickered.

"Iíd just be following your orders, maíam."

John laughed. "For Marines, you two arenít bad."

"Thank you, sir," they responded smartly while Rodney rolled his eyes.

"I canít win," John laughed.

"For someone saying that, you seem very happy, sir," Laura commented.

"You know something, Lieutenant, I am. Everythingís falling into place for me."

"Or will be once we find the ZPM," Rodney corrected, pointing a scanner toward a low building down the hill from them and grinning broadly at the readings.

"Thatís just icing on the cake," John murmured for Rodneyís ears only. "I already have what I need."

That earned him a blinding smile and a slight nudge as Rodney pretended to stumble. "I have to agree, but I still want that extra ZPM!"

"Consider it a wedding present."

"No, that was you."

"For that, neither of is going to be able to walk normally tomorrow morning," John promised him in an undertone.

Rodney shivered, then glared back over his shoulder when Cadman and Stackhouse snickered. "Itís chilly here!"

"Of course, sir," Cadman said, clearly not believing a word of it.

John hid a grin as he picked up the pace, deciding that it would probably be a good idea to distract Rodney with a ZPM as soon as possible.

"That mission report about this place didnít mention anything about booby traps or anything like that, did it?" Rodney asked as they got closer.

"Not in the base, just the big one about the ZPM itself. Blue is bad; gold is good," John said. "Letís hope that Goaíuld didnít come here in this reality since theyíre not aware of us again yet. I really donít like the sound of Proclarush to get the other ZPM. Volcanoes arenít any fun, especially not when itís the whole planet."

"Yes, blue bad, but you wonít be able to see it until I scan it, so none of you touch it before thenóand may I tell you that carrying around a gamma radiation source is highly disturbing!"

"And here I thought youíd like to glow in the dark, Dr. McKay," Cadman replied blandly.

"Notice my lack of laughter," Rodney snorted.

Laura grinned unrepentantly, and John shook his head. "Go ahead, Cadman, and check out the building. Make sure there arenít any nasty surprises. Stackhouse, youíre with Cadman."

"Got it," he nodded as they started inside.

"I hope theyíre okay..." Rodney murmured.

"Theyíre trained Marines, Rodney. And theyíre armed."

"Theyíre still human."

"And weíre right behind them," John pointed out.

"Itís clear, sir," Stackhouseís voice came over their headsets.

"So, shall we?" Rodney asked, looking toward the door.

"If this ZPM hasnít been tampered with, weíll be able to have two-way gate travel to Atlantis. Letís go!"

Rodney was already starting toward the doorway. "No one touch anything," he ordered, turning in a circle and watching the readings on his scanner.

"Gee, and here I was planning to push every button in sight," Cadman said with a slight eye roll.

"Behave or Iíll make you his permanent bodyguard," John threatened, somehow managing to keep a straight face.

"No!" Rodney and Laura yelped at the same time, hers with a quick Ďsirí at the end, making both John and Stackhouse snicker.

"Then play nice, children."

"I thought you liked it when I didnít play nice," Rodney muttered before his eyes lit up as he saw a spike on the energy readings and headed in that direction.

John didnít bother arguing but simply followed him, Cadman and Stackhouse in his wake so the three of them resembled goslings chasing after their mother while Rodney murmured under his breath, finally stopping in front of a large console.

"Itís in here."

John nodded silently, his eyes intent on the machinery, and he had to remind himself to breathe as the anticipation grew.

"Well, is it gold or blue?" Cadman demanded impatiently.

"Do you see the gamma generator out yet?" Rodney asked, crouching down to pull the small device from the case and setting the controls.

"Well, why wasnít it?"

"Because itís not something I want to carry around loose and risk dropping!"

"Lieutenant." Johnís voice cut across whatever she might have been planning to respond, and Cadman subsided.

"Any time, Rodney," John said, tense with anticipation, as were they all.

"Give me a minute... There!" Rodney stepped back and studied his scanner as the generator bathed the console in rays. "Gold, itís gold!" he crowed.

"Yes!" John exclaimed while Cadman and Stackhouse let out spontaneous cheers and Rodney turned to look at them, beaming.

"And from what I can tell, itís at full power."

"Two at full power now," John exclaimed. "Weíre set! Though we should still get the one on Proclarush once we figure out how."

"Are you saying you want to call the Asgard, Major?" Rodney asked.

"No, weíll work our way up to them," John replied hastily.

"Good thinking." Rodney quirked a grin at him and set his scanner down to go remove the ZPM from its alcove, carrying it like a precious child as he brought it back to the group.

"Looks like this mission was a success," Cadman observed.

"Itís a good start for the expedition."

"Definitely much better than many of those missions the colonel and Meredith went on," Rodney sniffed superiorly, making John bite back a laugh as he imagined the other Rodneyís reaction to hearing that hated name.

"Weíre making our luck," he said, slinging an arm around Rodneyís shoulders.

"So do you think theyíll start letting us plan for Atlantis now?" Rodney asked, leaning against Johnís side.

"I think so. With this, thereís no reason to delay any longer."

"So weíll really get to go?" Stackhouse inquired from behind them.

"Thatís the plan. And weíll have two-way gate travel, too." John glanced at Rodney. "Just remember, when we get there, weíre going to have to head straight for the ZPM room and fast. There wonít be an ancient Elizabeth to rotate the ZPMs, so theyíll be almost completely depleted and the shield on the brink of collapse, with no failsafe."

"The thought of drowning within minutes of arriving there does nothing for me," Rodney grumbled.

"Which is why weíll be running."

"Youíd better start jogging, Doc," Laura laughed, and he glared over his shoulder at her.

"I have been jogging!"

"Youíll be fine," John assured him.

"Iím not nervous!"

"Of course not," the other three assured him.

"Oh fine, placate me all you want; we have another ZPM, and all is good in my world," Rodney sniffed, ducking away to set the ZPM in the case.

"Geez, I donít even make the list?"

Rodney looked up at him, his eyes wide. "No, I didnít mean that at all!"

John chuckled and hugged him. "I know."

"Jerk," Rodney muttered before pulling John in for a fast kiss.

"Youíre still stuck with me," John retorted, ignoring Cadmanís and Stackhouseís grins.

"Well, of course I am!" Rodney busied himself packing the ZPM away. "Who knows what trouble youíd get up to otherwise."

"It would definitely be a lot less interesting."

"For all of us," Laura murmured.

"Are you perving on us?" Rodney asked, glaring at her while Stackhouse turned red trying not to laugh.

"Just making an observation, sirs."

John didnít dare comment for fear of bursting into laughter, and Rodney Ďaccidentallyí let the ZPM case smack him in the leg as he stood.

"Can we go home now?"

"Thatís a very good idea," John agreed in a strangled tone. "Cadman, take point and stay out of trouble."

"Yes, sir!" she laughed, heading out ahead of them, Stackhouse bringing up the rear as they started back to the gate.

"I hope you donít have anything planned for this evening, Major," Rodney murmured.

"Only you."

Rodney quirked a half-grin at that and nodded. "Excellent, though I was thinking of cooking us something special first."

"I really like the way you think," John said, grinning.

"And you can plan dessert."

"Hmm, whip cream or chocolate..."

"Why limit yourself?"

"Good point. They do go well together."

"Exactly." Rodney ignored the choking sounds from behind them and glanced at John. "And even better on you."

"Now, see, I prefer them on you." Without looking away from Rodney, he added, "Breathe, Sergeant."

"Trying, sir!" Stackhouse gasped.

"Marines are such wimps," John observed to Rodney.

"Yes, dear, whatever you say, dear," Rodney chuckled.

"Sir, permission to shoot my superior officer in the foot," Cadman called back, making John laugh.


"And even if he didnít say it, I would!" Rodney exclaimed.

Laura laughed. "What a shock."

"Oh, just hush and walk!"

"Yes, sir, walking, sir!"

"Stop trying to steal my command, Rodney," John chuckled.

"Fine, fine, tell her to walk then!"

"She is walking," John pointed out. "And outdistancing us too, I might add."

"So you want me to be exhausted this evening?!"

"Cadman! Slow down!"

"Good command decision, Major."

"I thought so," John agreed.

"So, go sit and relax, dinner should be ready soon." Rodney pressed a glass of red wine into Johnís hand and turned him toward the archway to the other room.

"I could get used to this," John said, stopping in the doorway to watch Rodney with deep pleasure.

"If they have kitchens in the rooms in Atlantis, we can do it whenever we have time there," Rodney promised, moving back to the stove to stir the contents of a sauce pan.

"Well, not kitchens per se, but there are ways to cook. Even the Ancients had to eat."

"Are you sure? From what Iíve read they donít seem to do anything... physical."

"They had to do something physical occasionally, or I wouldnít have this magic gene."

"Oh, thank you so much for making me think of that!"

"I thought you liked me getting physical," John laughed.

"Not with any Ancients!"

"Nope, just you. Youíre more than enough for me."

"A very good answer. And how did your afternoon go, by the way?" Rodney asked as he tasted the concoction on the stove, then reached for a spice container.

John glanced at him out the corner of his eye. "Well, theyíve decided that they need a higher rank than major for the senior officer on the Atlantis expedition."

"WHAT?!" The spoon Rodney had been using dropped into the sauce with a splash as he turned his full attention to John. "They brought someone else in? Iíll kill themóno, Iíll torture them until theyíre whimpering puddles of goo, and then Iíll refuse to work on anything until they admit what an asinine decision that was!

"Just because some bozo has a bird or a leaf on his shoulder doesnít make him more of a leader than you!"

John grinned wickedly. "Apparently they agree with youówell, not about being asinineósince theyíre promoting me to lieutenant colonel."

"Well, isnít that just wonderful," Rodney snapped before narrowing his eyes and frowning. "What did you say? Did you just say that they were promoting you, and you used it as an occasion to make me crazy?"

"You never gave me a chance to finish," John replied, trying to look innocent.

"You are a complete and utter bastard, and right now Iím not sure if I should kiss you or kick your skinny ass!" Rodney glowered.

"I vote for the kiss. And my ass is not skinny!"

"What? A lieutenant colonelís ass canít be skinny?" Rodney shot back as he rounded the cooking island, caught John and kissed him thoroughly. "Congratulations, by the way."

"Thanks." John beamed at Rodney, his delight in his promotion almost a tangible thing. "Thereís going to be a ceremony tomorrow. I really shouldnít know yet, but Elizabeth has no interest in military protocol, and she wanted to be the one to tell me."

"Tomorrow?" Rodney looked crest-fallen. "Itís not a problem if Iím not there, is it?"

Johnís face fell. "Why?"

"Well, Zelenka and I had planned on testing the new version of the naquadah generators and..." Rodney couldnít take Johnís disappointed expression any longer and grinned. "Gotcha!"

John gawked at him for a moment. "Why, you evil bastard," he laughed, hugging Rodney.

"Payback is hell, Majoróhrmm, I should get used to calling you ĎColonelí, shouldnít I?"

John beamed. "I love the sound of that."

"When you make general, youíre going to be insufferable, arenít you?" Rodney chuckled, kissing him tenderly and groping his ass. "Now go take your colonel-y backside to the living room and put on some music so I can get dinner finished."

"Sir, yes sir!" John snapped off a salute and executed a militarily correct about face before snickering.

"Yeah, yeah, you know you getting all military turns me on, but weíre going to eat first, and then, Colonel, Iím going to rock your world."

John grinned over his shoulder. "Iím looking forward to it. And if you like the military thing, just want till you see me in my dress blues tomorrow."

"Youíre not making me burn this dinner, John!"

"Hey, Iím not doing anything. Iím putting on music, as ordered."

"Youíre providing me with mind-porn!"

"Just fulfilling my husbandly duties."

"Are you implying that my cooking is a wifely duty?" Rodney chuckled as he tasted the balsamic cherry sauce and placed a large saute pan on the other burner to heat.

"Nope, cooking, hot sex and genius plans are your husbandly duties." The rich bass of Satchmo filled the apartment, jazz being one type of music they could agree on.

"Mmm, I love it when you talk dirty to me," Rodney sighed, turning the heat under the sauce as low as possible before transferring two duck breasts to the pan.

"Iíll have to do more of it then," John said, lounging in the kitchen doorway again. "Wine?"

"Is there any left from the open bottle?"

John went to check. "Enough for one glass each. Should I open another?"

"Why not," Rodney smiled, "this is a celebration after all."

"In that case, itíll have to be the champagne."

"Do we have any? Is it cold?"

"Thereís a bottle in the wine fridge," John replied triumphantly a moment later, bringing it into the kitchen.

"Excellent," Rodney beamed. "Finish the red first, then start in on it." The timer went off, and he took the duck out of the pan, setting it aside to fry sage leaves in the fat.

John set the bottle in the fridge to keep cold and poured Rodney a glass of the red, adding the last of it to his own glass. He brought Rodneyís over to the counter, setting it within easy reach, and took a sip of his. "Have I mentioned that I love watching you cook?"

"I think you love the results," Rodney murmured, giving him a side-long glance, spooning the leaves from the pan, draining the fat into a container and setting the duck back into the pan, meat side down.

"That too," John agreed, "but I like watching you cook for us. The last person who cooked for me was my mom, and seeing you do it... It feels like I have a home again."

Rodney looked up from his work at that, immediately setting down his spatula and catching John in a tight hug. "Itís the first one Iíve ever had," he admitted in a barely audible voice.

John tightened his arms around Rodney. "Iím glad I could be the one to give it to you."

"I feel the same." Rodney hugged him tightly and straightened up. "Now stop making me maudlin or our dinner will burn."

"And considering how it smells, that would be criminal."

"Damn right!" After a quick kiss, Rodney checked the duck, quickly transferred the meat to their plates and drizzled sauce over each. "Mind getting the salad?" he asked, pulling a bowl of roasted potatoes from the oven.

"Sure thing." John got the salad and dressing out of the fridge and set them on the table. "Ready for the champagne yet?"

"Havenít touched the wine yet," Rodney grinned as he dished them both up potatoes and carried the plates into the small dining area of their apartment, setting them on the table before coming back. "Iíll get the champagne glasses Jeannie and Kaleb gave us though."

John nodded as he retrieved the champagne and set it at the end of the table, where they could get it easily when they were ready for it while Rodney gathered up his own glass plus the two empty ones and carried them in, turning out the lights after him.

"Want to light the candles? Theyíre not quite a fireplace, but theyíre close."

"Why, Dr. McKay, are you trying to seduce me?"

Rodney favored him with a scathing look. "Have those new leaves turned your brain to mush already?"

"You mean you donít want to seduce me?" John turned the puppy dog eyes on him.

"I meant it should be obvious thatís what I have planned!"

"Oh good!" John smiled widely as he lit the candles.

"Insane man," Rodney grumbled as he sat. "Youíre lucky I love you."

Johnís smile softened. "Yeah, I am."

"I didnít mean it that way, but, well, Iím glad you think so." Rodney fidgeted in his seat before waving a hand toward Johnís plate. "Eat, itís getting cold."

Smiling faintly, John took a bite, and then he moaned appreciatively. "Oh my God, thatís good! If I hadnít already married you, I would just for this."

"Food slut."

"You fulfill all my appetites," John chuckled, toasting him.

Rodney raised his glass, and they clinked them together. "Just wait until we get to dessert," he murmured warmly before taking a drink.

Johnís eyes grew heated, and he licked his lips. "Iím looking forward to it."

"Then eat up, but enjoy it; in a few months weíre going to be on short rations."

"Oh, itís not so bad. Some of the native food in Pegasus is pretty good."

"Iíll take your word on it; the colonel mentioned there were some things that both he and Meredith hated. I think thereís a list somewhere in the files."

John rolled his eyes. "You know, if you keep calling him that, someoneís going to realize that itís your name too."

"And just who would tell them that?" Rodney asked, his eyebrows raised.

"Rodney, my love, the two of you are pretty much identical. If his nameís Meredith, so is yours. I think any of the dozens of geniuses on the expedition are capable of figuring it out."

"And the first one who calls me by that name gets tossed through a wormhole into a black hole."

"I think Maddy might object if you do that to her mom," John laughed.

"Jeannie would find her way back, Iím sure."

John chuckled. "I never underestimate a McKay."

Rodneyís smile turned Cheshire-like as he finished off his wine. "Youíll be saying that a lot this evening."

"This sounds very promising." John took another bite of his duck and then reached for the champagne to open it.

"I would hope youíd think so; just donít put my eye out with the cork."

"And here I was planning to aim it at you," John said dryly.

Rodney only grinned as he alternated bites of duck, potato, and salad.

Shaking his head, John popped the cork and set it aside on the table, then poured some into the two flutes. After handing one to Rodney, he raised his in a toast. "To the future."

"To the future together," Rodney corrected, leaning over and hooking his wrist around Johnís in an approximation of their wedding toast.

"Together," John agreed, leaning forward to kiss Rodney lightly. "Weíre unbeatable."

"Damn right, now eat, Major, youíre going to need your energy."

"This just keeps sounding better and better." He grinned at Rodney as they tucked into their dinners, both enjoying the meal, not talking much as the tension between them grew thicker as the meal drew to a close.

"Iíll clear off the table, John; why donít you take the champagne into the bedroom," Rodney suggested with a secretive smile.

Seeing that expression, John had to swallow hard, and he felt his arousal mount. "Sure," he said, picking up the wine and going into the bedroom.

Once there, he set the bottle and glasses on the nightstand and quickly stripped. He stretched out on the bed, naked, one arm curled behind his head. Rodney came in carrying two thermal containers and a pair of spoons, setting them on the beside table before stripping off his clothes and climbing into bed beside John, casting an admiring gaze down the length of his body and reaching out to toy with his dog tags.

"So, I believe I promised you a dessert youíd remember?"

The hazel eyes were dark with arousal as John looked up at him. "You did," he agreed huskily.

"I always keep my promises, John." As Rodney spoke, he trailed his fingers down the center of Johnís chest to his navel.

"Lucky me." John reached over, letting his hand come to rest on Rodneyís thigh.

"No, lucky me," Rodney corrected, catching Johnís hand and bringing it to his lips, kissing each finger then sucking them into his mouth.

John groaned softly, his eyes intent on Rodneyís mouth. "Lucky both of us," he finally said, shifting restlessly on the bed, and in answer, Rodney took his index finger deeper, groaning at the salty flavor.

"God, I love your mouth."

Rodney nodded at that, finally releasing Johnís hand to crawl down to the edge of the bed and reaching for Johnís foot. "Oh, did I mention that you were going to be my dessert?"

"No, but I was hoping," John panted, watching him through heavy-lidded eyes.

"You were hoping right." Rodney lifted Johnís foot and nibbled on his instep, his hands caressing Johnís ankle, making John moan softly and squirm, his fingers kneading Rodneyís thigh.

"Best thing Iíve ever tasted." Rodney whispered the words against Johnís now damp flesh, working his way higher.

"Thatís me, a gourmet meal," John said throatily, and Rodney smiled up at him before nipping lightly at the side of his calf. In answer, John spread his legs invitingly so that Rodney could crawl higher, savoring each inch of his long legs, lightly sinking his teeth into the muscle of his thigh when it clenched under them.

"Oh God, yeah, so good," John rasped, fighting the urge to close his eyes so that he could watch Rodney savoring him.

Rodney took a deep breath, nuzzling his face against the crease of Johnís thigh, his cheek brushing against the soft skin of his balls. He turned his head and kissed the thin skin there before moving back down to begin the process with Johnís other foot.

John groaned, moving a hand to Rodneyís head and petting the fine hair while squirming on the soft cotton sheets.

"Hrmm, seems to be missing something," Rodney murmured, lifting his head to look at John, his blue eyes glinting brightly as he reached for one of the thermal containers, dribbling a long line of warm fudge up his leg, taking his time at licking it away. Every stroke of his tongue made John shudder, and he was biting his lip as he tried not to beg.

"God, Rodney!"

"Taste so good," Rodney whispered, working his way higher, trailing fudge over the pale skin before swiping it clean.

"Feel so good," John panted, grabbing for one of Rodneyís hands and clutching it tightly.

Tightening his fingers around Johnís, Rodney nodded, setting the container down and reaching for the other one, tipping it to drop a blob of vanilla ice cream onto Johnís chest, making John arch off the bed with a yowl.

"Thatís cold!"

"That would be why itís called ice cream," Rodney chuckled, licking at the slowly melting blob, his tongue also caressing Johnís already taut nipple.

"Sadist," John grumbled, but his erection showed how much he was enjoying it.

Rodney hummed in response, digging his finger into the ice cream and running it around Johnís other nipple, making John squirm and moan and Rodney smile again as he switched to the other nipple, at the same time digging his finger into the container and bringing it up to Johnís mouth.

John latched onto Rodneyís finger, suckling hungrily while Rodney toyed with his nipple then pulled himself up to trade his finger for his mouth, kissing John hungrily. John wrapped his arms and legs around Rodney, holding him close as they ate at each otherís mouths, trading dominance back and forth.

"One more thing to taste," Rodney murmured, pulling back after nipping at Johnís lower lip.

"Oh God, yes, please."

Rodney smiled at that and crawled backward to settle between his legs, meeting Johnís hungry gaze then lifting his hips and licking at the tightly puckered entrance to his body.

John jerked and wailed, taken by surprise. "Jesus fuck, Rodney!" he panted, the pleasure making him squirm in search of more which Rodney gladly gave, lapping at him with the flat of his tongue before pressing it inward.

Gasping sharply, John grabbed at the bed, fisting the sheets as he writhed, feeling Rodneyís tongue push into him. "So fucking good," he groaned before biting his lip at the almost overwhelming pleasure.

Rodney hummed against his ass, spearing his tongue deeper as the tight muscle loosened, and all John could do was whimper and take whatever Rodney chose to give him.

"I need to be in you now," he whispered, reaching for the lube and slicking his finger up then pressing it into Johnís ass as he leaned in and kissed him again.

"Fuck, yes, now," John agreed wildly, returning the kiss with an almost desperate hunger as Rodney slid inside him, the tight clench of the barely stretched muscles making him gasp into the kiss. John lurched up, the slight pain overwhelmed by the pleasure that made him want more.

Rodney gasped, lowering his head to Johnís shoulder as he followed him over the edge, his own spasms merging with Johnís until they were all either could feel before they finally collapsed together, tired, sweaty, and sated.

Eventually John murmured, "You may not feel like taking the lead often, but damn, when you do...!" He nuzzled the top Rodneyís head, radiating pure happiness. "I think you broke me."

"Not quite the effect I was aiming for," Rodney chuckled, "but I know what you mean; you do it to me often enough."

"Itís a very good effect," John assured him.

"Iím glad you approve," Rodney murmured, turning his head enough to nuzzle Johnís throat.

"If I approved any more, youíd have to call Carson."

"Considering he lives half an hour away, heíd tell us to call 911."

"Iíd rather call you and try hair of the dog."

"Is there a reason you need to be calling me when Iím right here?"

"Because I like calling you."

"I think youíre delirious; how about we have some dessert now?" Rodney asked, finally pushing up on his elbows and grinning down at John.

"I thought we just did?" John chuckled.

"Well, I certainly did, but I thought you might like some ice cream before it all melts."

"Good point." John raised his head slightly, trying to look over Rodney at the nightstand. "Is there any fudge sauce left?"

"I would hope so, I didnít pour gallons on you," Rodney laughed, kissing John again before rolling off him, gathering up the containers and a spoon, settling against Johnís side and offering it to him.

"Good, then I can have some on my ice cream and still have some left to have on you." Instead of taking the spoon, John opened his mouth and waited, one eyebrow cocked.

Rodney grinned, his lips curling in his familiar crooked smile, and dipped the spoon first into the ice cream container, then the fudge one, finally offering it to John, who licked at the sweet treat, humming appreciatively. A few drips slid down his chin, and Rodney leaned in to lick them away. "Mmm, tastes great on you, but then I knew that already."

"This has been the best meal Iíve ever had." John leaned more heavily against Rodney, looking perfectly content.

"Youíre what makes it that for me," Rodney murmured, spooning up more ice cream and feeding it to John.

"Right back atcha." John dipped a finger into the ice cream and trailed it over Rodneyís skin, drawing a smiley face while licking a stray drop of ice cream from his lips.

After tearing his gaze away from Johnís mouth, Rodney glanced down at his own belly and the ice cream face ringing his navel. "Do you have a fetish with my paunch?" he laughed.

"I like your belly." John slowly licked up the sticky drawing, careful to get every bit of the ice cream.

"Iím glad you do because I donít think Iím ever going to be able to get rid of it," Rodney murmured, his voice unsteady as Johnís tongue roamed over his skin.

"Good," John said emphatically. "Youíre my favorite pillow."

"Only one you need for the rest of our lives."

"That sounds perfect to me." Johnís tongue delved into Rodneyís belly button, apparently making sure no ice cream or hot fudge remained.

"Considering you married me, I would hope so," Rodney sighed, stroking a hand over Johnís hair.

"No doubt about it," John assured him, pressing a cold kiss to Rodneyís belly, making him squirm and giggle. "Hmm, I like that." John reached for more ice cream.

"Jo-ohn!" Rodney laughed, squirming as it dripped onto his stomach. "Thatís cold!"

"I guess Iíd better warm you up then."

"Any way in particular?"

"Well, first I thought Iíd lick you, and then I thought Iíd fuck you."

Rodney moaned, swallowing hard before focusing on John again. "IóI think I could live withógod, John, do it!" he begged.

"As someone said to me not that long ago, patience, lover." John grinned at him and then nudged Rodneyís legs apart so he could settle between them.

Rodney attempted a growl, but it turned into a whine as John slid against him.

"Love you," John whispered while grabbing for the lube. Much as he might have liked to draw it out and drive Rodney out of his mind, he knew neither of them wanted that now. Two slick fingers pushed into Rodney while John stared into his eyes, watching his reactions.

"Sameóahhóhere," Rodney whispered, pulling his legs back toward his chest as a shudder ran through him.

"Youíre gorgeous," John rasped, pulling his fingers free after a final twist and grabbing Rodneyís hips as he pressed into him.

"Crazy," Rodney gasped, letting go of his knees to grab at John, yanking him forward, kissing him hungrily as they began to move together.

"About you," John mumbled into the kiss, hips moving more rapidly with each stroke, Rodney arching up to meet each one, his cock hard and leaking between them.

"Jerk yourself off for me," John said, bracing himself with both arms so he could watch.

"Oh, fuck!" Rodneyís gaze stayed locked on Johnís as he reached in between them to circle his own erection, jerking it in time with Johnís thrusts.

"So fucking hot," John groaned, increasing his speed, and Rodney nodded, his breath catching as John hit his prostate, holding on through only a few more strokes before he was coming, hot seed spurting over his hand and belly.

Each spasm of Rodneyís climax drew a cry from John, and when he finally subsided, John drove into him hard and fast until he came as well, gasping Rodneyís name, the other man gentling him with hands and voice until they finally collapsed back against the bed, John pillowed against his body.

"Perfect," John murmured, his voice thick with contentment and satiation.

"Shh, Iím asleep," Rodney muttered, before smiling against the side of Johnís face, "Colonel."

John beamed, but he couldnít resist saying, "Good night... Mr. Colonel."

Rodney growled but only shifted to pull John closer.

"Hey, Rodney, are you home?" John called as he let himself into the apartment.

"Where else would I be if Iím not with you?" Rodney called from the kitchen.

"In your lab and never coming up for air," John retorted laughingly, setting down the bags he was carrying in one hand and going into the kitchen. "I have a surprise for you."

"I do too come up for air!" Rodney protested, looking up from his laptop, which was balanced on a counter near a bowl he was mixing things in. "When you drag me," he added in a chagrined tone before looking at John closely. "What kind of surprise?"

Before John could answer, his jacket meowed.

"You brought home a noise-maker?" Rodney asked, his eyes widening slightly as something under Johnís jacket squirmed.

"Not quite," John chuckled, then yelped and reached into his jacket, fishing out a small ball of white and gray fluff. "I thought we had an understanding about little kitten claws and colonelsí hides," he said, getting a disdainful look from yellow-green eyes.

Rodney stared, open-mouthed, for a long moment, his gaze transfixed on the furry bundle in Johnís hand until John grew nervous.

"You donít like her."

"Youóyou got me a kitten?" Rodney whispered, his voice breaking in mid-sentence.

"Well, yeah." John looked worried. "I knew you liked cats and youíd given yours to the colonelóthe other colonel, and I thought youíd like her."

"You got me aó" Rodney sucked in a deep breath and dragged the heels of his hands over his eyes. "Neverónever got anything like..."

John handed the small cat to Rodney and slid his arm around his husbandís shoulder, drawing him close. "I love you," he said simply.

Rodney hid his face against Johnís shoulder, cuddling the kitten to him with a shaky hand as he clung to John with the other. "Donít deserve you," he whispered.

"Sure you do. We deserve each other," John chuckled, and the kitten meowed as if in agreement.

"It seems she agrees," Rodney sniffled, holding the cat to his chest and lifting his head to kiss Johnís jaw.

"So you do like her?"

Rodney snorted at that and looked down to where the kitten was curled around his hand, gnawing at his thumb. "If I say I donít, she might maim me."

"Good point," John agreed, watching her with amusement. "Demanding little thing, isnít she?"

"She takes after you," Rodney murmured.

John snorted. "I could say something about pots and kettles, but Iíll be the bigger man."

"Which is why I love you," Rodney laughed, shifting his arm from around Johnís waist to cradle the kitten in his palm as he tickled her soft, pink belly. John chuckled when she wrapped all four paws around Rodneyís hand.

"So, whatíre you going to call her?"

"Ióhave no idea," Rodney admitted. "I suppose Ďhey youí is out of the question?"

John chuckled. "Do you really want her mad at you for the rest of her life?"

"Well, I canít name her without knowing what sheís like! Eva acted like the whole world was her paradise, but this little one..." Rodney squatted and set her down, watching as she padded around the kitchen, sniffing at every corner, her black tipped tail flicking with each new scent.

"She acts like the whole world belongs to her," John said, watching Rodney watch the cat.

"Perhaps Hera then?" Rodney asked without looking away from her. "The mother goddess in her element."

John frowned. "She seems more disdainful than maternal. Though a peacock symbol is rather fitting."

"Hrmm, good point, weíll go beyond the Greek gods then, Rhea."

"The mother of them all? Weíd better get her fixed before we go!" John laughed.

"Well, unless youíre planning on bringing a male along as well, I donít think that will be a problem!"

"True. Good thing you didnít name her Mary!"

Rodney frowned slightly at that. "Because she would want a lamb?"

"Virgin birth."

"Ahh, that Mary." Distracted when Rhea bounded back to him and attacked his bare toes, Rodney laughed aloud before yelping when needle sharp baby teeth sank into his foot.

"And thatís why Iím keeping my shoes on," John observed.

Rodney ignored him as he dangled his fingers in front of Rheaís nose to distract her. "Sheís perfect."

"Iím glad." John grinned. "I have stuff for her in the living room, food, toys, kitty litter. And I already cleared it with Elizabeth."

"Cleared it withó" Rodney looked up sharply at that. "We can bring her to Atlantis?"

"Well, it would be pretty shitty of me to give you a kitten youíd get attached to and then have to give up in a few weeks!"

"I didnít mean it that way!" Rodney protested. "I meant... you think of everything."

"I try." John smiled. "So thereíll be three us going to Atlantis."

Rodneyís grin broadened, and he held out a hand to John. "Come here."

John caught hold of his hand and allowed himself to be drawn closer.

"You said the three of us; I guess that makes us a family," Rodney said carefully, his thumb rubbing over the back of Johnís knuckles.

"I know it does. That was kind of the point of getting married."

Rodney flushed but didnít let go of his hand. "I know that; I just meantó" He tried to gesture, but both his hands were full, and John chuckled fondly.

"Sorry, Iíll stop teasing. You meant what?"

Rodney chewed on his lower lip as he watched Rhea roll over to continue her explorations, then looked up at John again. "That I love you."

"Thatís a relief since I love you too." John leaned in to kiss him tenderly, and Rodney sighed happily, hugging him close.

"Thank you."

"Anything," John replied.


"Iíll do anything to make you happy."

"Just be here with me."

"I can do that."

"All I need is you. And Rhea. And the ZPM."

John laughed. "Iím flattered that I came first. And for the record, all I need is you and flying."

"Not Ferris Wheels?"

"Those are a bonus, not a necessity." The words were barely out of his mouth before Rodney was pulling him in for a slow, deep kiss. When they finally drew apart, John smiled happily. "Now that was a necessity."

"Definitely," Rodney sighed happily before a yowl and a crash drew both their attention. "And it seems that now whatís necessary is cleaning up the babyís mess."

"I just hope that wasnít dinner," John laughed.

"Thatís still in the process of being made; should we go see what the goddess did?"

"Considering that pitiful mewl, I think weíd better," John agreed before looking around for the cat.

Rodney clambered to his feet and followed John out into the living room, spotting a bedraggled-looking Rhea half buried under the moss that had been in the silk plant theyíd received as a wedding present. "Oh, you poor thing," he crooned, picking her up and brushing the moss from her fur.

John stood watching them and then stared at the plant. "How the heck did she knock that over? It has to weigh twenty times what she does!" He shook his head. "Oh yeah, sheís your cat."

"Defying the laws of physics already," Rodney crooned, cuddling her against his chest and stroking her head with a fingertip.

"Atlantis has no idea what itís in for."

"But sheíll find out soon; three more weeks and weíre going."

"I canít wait."

"You canít wait? Youíve been there before!"

"So I know whatís waiting."

"While all some of us have are our imaginations!"

"Not for much longer," John reminded him. "And youíre going to love it."

"If I were the kind of man who was inclined to sappy comments, I would say Iím going to love it because weíre going together, but of course I would never say such a thing." Rodney set Rhea down again and glanced at John as he spoke.

"Of course not," John replied, smiling broadly. "You would never be sappy any more than I would say that here or there, Iím already home."

"So, Colonel," Rodney murmured, "do you mind if we put off dinner for a while so that I can appropriately thank you for her?"

"Rodney, the day I say I mind that, lock up the imposter!" John laughed.

"Hrmm, good point, though we should get the goddess set up first so that we donít come out to any unpleasant surprises..."

"A very good point. And since neither of us is a pincushion, we should probably shut the door to the bedroom too, at least while weíre busy."

Rodney shuddered at the thought. "Most definitely." He gave a crooked grin at that and kissed John again before letting him go. "So come on, Colonel, letís get the goddess set up then we can see what we can get up to."

The excitement was palpable in the air of the gateroom as the expedition members gathered, ready to walk through into Atlantis. John looked around with pride. While none of this could have been accomplished without the leadership of Catherine, Daniel, and Elizabeth and the scientific genius of Rodney and the others, he knew that heíd had a significant contribution as well.

"Itís not often one is in the presence of living history," he murmured with a faint smile. "It makes me giddy."

"Have you been watching your Babylon 5 DVDs again, Colonel?" Rodney muttered, trying to sound nonchalant though he was fairly vibrating with anticipation, the case holding the ZPM destined to power Atlantis held tightly in his hand.

"It seemed fitting." John watched as Elizabeth turned to look up at Catherine in the control room, and the two women nodded at each other. Elizabeth then glanced at Daniel, who began dialing the address for Atlantis. It seemed that everyone in the gateroom held their breath when he paused for a split second after the seventh symbol and then pressed the eighth.

The wormhole whooshed into existence, and there was a spontaneous cheer.

"Send the MALP through," Catherine ordered. "Once weíre sure the cityís not already flooded, you have a go."

"And remember to stay as much in the gate room as possible!" Rodney ordered after activating the MALP and sending it through the gate. "We donít need to flood the city the second we get there!"

"And you be ready to follow me when we get there," John reminded him. "You and I are heading straight for the ZPM room. Lorne, youíll be in charge of keeping people moving and in the gateroom until Rodney and I get back." Although everyone was aware of their roles, John reminded them one more time.

"And Carson, if you forget Rhea, Iím personally kicking you back through the gate!" Rodney added, causing the doctor to sigh and hold up the carrying case containing the hissing, spitting kitten.

"Sheís right here, Rodney, and if ye kick me back, yeíll never get that gene treatment ye want."

"Ah, good point, Iíll just have to do something else to you then!"

"Weíre getting telemetry from the MALP," the gate tech reported, and everyone turned to look at him. "The room looks clear."

John looked over at Elizabeth, who nodded. "Together, Colonel," she said, and they walked up to the gate side by side, with Rodney close on their heels, crowding them forward in his impatience to get to Atlantis. John and Elizabeth exchanged a smiling glance and, as one, reached back, one taking his free hand and the other grasping his wrist. Then the three leaders of the Atlantis expedition walked through the gate.





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