Notes: Would you believe that this all started when Ori typed "gill" instead of "kill" in another story in another fandom? Somehow that led to a discussion of swamp-monster!Rodney and this... Yes, we scare ourselves too. And we made up the town, though not the Great Dismal Swamp, that this is set in.

The "R" Word

Orithain and Rina

June 2006

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

Detective John Sheppard of the South Suffolk PD leaned back in his chair, closed weary hazel eyes and ran a hand through naturally messy hair. His partner, Aiden Ford, whoíd just made detective a few months before, which made this his first big case, watched Sheppard sympathetically. "Getting to you?"

"I hate cases that involve kids," John sighed. He opened bloodshot eyes again to look at the folders open on his deskóthree of them, each one representing a different kid whoíd vanished in the last month. Three sixth graders, all missing, and they didnít have much hope of finding them alive, especially since the first two had been habitual runaways and the alarm hadnít been raised until the latest disappearance. Now John was afraid that more were going to disappear before this was over.

He looked over at the two detectives at the next desk, the other team who often worked with him and Ford. Ronon Dex was a big man who could intimidate a confession out of the toughest punk when he growled and glared, but it was his partner, the deceptively slight Teyla Emmagen, who was the more dangerous of the pair. The woman had black belts in several martial arts disciplines, as anyone who tried to put the moves on her when she wasnít interested discovered very painfully. "Anything?" John asked without much hope.

"Actually," Teyla said slowly, eyes flicking over several statements from friends of the missing children, "maybe. All of them had either visited or talked about seeing the Ďswamp monsterí. Thatís what the kids are calling that guy whoís living out on the old McKay property."

John was already on his feet and reaching for his jacket. "Then I think itís time to go have a chat with Mr. McKay."

Yawning, Rodney McKay leaned back in the rocker and put his bare feet up on the porch railing, enjoying the quiet of the late morning. Yes, there were noises; birds called out over the swamp, and animals rustled in the bushes, but the main point was that there was no one talkingóspecifically, no one talking to him.

He hadnít had much sleep the night before, which in turn had led to him sleeping in and the fact that he was still in a ratty t-shirt and worn plaid sleep pants and enjoying his first cup of coffee at eleven in the morning. It was a massive change from his formerly regimented life, and even after two months of it, he still felt like a kid skipping school at times.

As he sipped at his coffee, he recalled Elizabethís words the night before and winced. All right, so maybe he was hiding from the world; why else would he have come back to his childhood home, the place heíd avoided for over twenty years, but then, what was home but the place they had to take you in when no one else would? Hiding from the world was just fine for him, and he intended to keep doing it as long as he could.

"If those damn kids would stop snooping around, that is," he grumbled. Apparently, checking out the old McKay place had become quite the rite of passage for the pre-teen set, and heíd chased more kids away than he could count since heíd arrived.

The phone began ringing, but he ignored it, concentrating on a flash of light on metal in the distance. "I swear, if Elizabeth flew in here, Iím going to strangle her and toss her to the gators!" he growled, sitting up and letting his feet fall to the floor as he watched the dark-colored sedan crawl up the pitted roadway.

"Doesnít look much like a monster to me," Ford observed, grinning as he took in the sight of the sleep-tousled man on the porch they were nearing.

"You obviously didnít look at his face," John said, amused despite himself. This man could be the reason all those kids were missing, and until he knew otherwise, he was going to keep his distance. "He looks like he swallowed a lemon."

Parking the car, he got out, aware that Aiden was following him, wary gaze on the man watching him. "Mr. McKay?"

"That depends on why youíre here. If Elizabeth sent you two pretty boys here to cajole me into coming back, if you want to convince me to be born-again, or if you want to sell me a new mop, the answer is no."

John blinked for a moment, surprised by the amount the man seemed able to say without taking a breath. "Mr. McKay, Iím Det. Sheppard, and this is Det. Ford. Weíd like to ask you a few questions."

"Actually, itís Dr. McKay," Rodney stood and motioned the two men up onto the porch. "And if the question is what am I doing tonight, the answer is nothing- yet." He smirked at the last, enjoying watching the detectives squirm.

"Actually, Doctor, weíd like to know if you recognize these children." John held out pictures of the three missing kids.

"Do I... Whatís going on here?" Rodney demanded, glancing at the pictures and then back at Det. Sheppard.

"Have you seen these children, Dr. McKay?"

"Why are you asking about children? I hate children, never go near the whining little things if I can help it!" Rodney snapped, glancing down at the pictures before frowning and taking them to look at them more closely.

John and Aiden exchanged a glance, and the younger detective let his hand fall unobtrusively to his gun. "Hate them, Doctor?" John repeated, watching him closely. "Donít you think thatís a bit strong?"

"Whatís going on here? Do you think... has something happened to those kids?"

"Theyíre all missing, Dr. McKay. And you seemed to recognize some of those pictures. Are you sure you havenít seen them?"

Rodney sat down in his rocker again and looked at the pictures, frowning as he stared at the youthful faces. "There have been a lot of kids coming around here, trying to look in the windows. I keep running them off, but this one," he pointed to a towhead, "and this one," this child Hispanic, "I recognize."

"Running them off? And how exactly do you do that, sir?"

"What is this, the inquisition? Theyíre on private property; if I yell at them, itís my right."

"Dr. McKay, I have three missing children, possibly dead, and all of them recently expressed the intention of coming out here. Please answer the question." The lazy charm dropped away, and John gave him a cold stare.

"And I assure you I had nothing to do with that." Rodney stood again, drawing himself up and glaring into the detectiveís narrowed eyes. "I merely shouted at the children, and they ran away."

That agreed with what some of the children had reported when they described visits to the property, and John made a mental note to suggest some increased patrols in this area. McKay would be well within his rights to complain if it kept happening since technically the kids were trespassing. He nodded. "Thank you, Dr. McKay. If you see any more children out here, Iíd appreciate a call. It may be that someoneís picking them up on their way to or from here since youíre pretty out of the way."

"So now Iím not a suspect? How kind of you, Detective," Rodney sniffed before looking down the road at another approaching car. "Oh, look, here comes my sister; perhaps youíd like to grill both her and her son about my proclivities?"

"How often do they visit you?"

"Several times a week which is much more than Iíd prefer."

John and Aiden exchanged a look. "Weíll need to ask them a few questions," John said.

"Fine, whatever you want, but do it out here; my coffee has gotten cold, and Iím going in to warm it up." Plainly retreating from his sisterís arrival and not the detectivesí presence, Rodney opened the screen door and went into the house, letting the door slam behind him.

"Rodney!" The woman who got out of the car shared the same brown hair and blue eyes as the man who had just gone inside but was several inches shorter and much curvier. "I swear that man doesnít have the manners God gave a pig!"

"I think sheís scarier than her brother," Aiden muttered to John, making the older detective smother a chuckle.

Turning to face the new arrivals, John smiled warmly, though his hazel eyes remained watchful under the shock of hair that seemed to fascinate them both. "Good afternoon, maíam. Iím Det. Sheppard of the South Suffolk PD. Would you mind telling me if you recognize any of these children?" He held the pictures out toward the woman and her son.

"Why, hello, Detective," she practically purred, moving to his side to take a look at the pictures, though her attention was more on him than them.

"Are these the kids that are missing?" the boy asked distrustfully.

"Jinto, where are your manners! Youíll have to forgive my son, Detective; heís at an age." She rested her hand on his arm. "And where are my manners, Iím Jeannie Halling, and this is my son, James Thomas. Jinto, say hello to the nice policemen."

John regarded the woman warily while Ford tried not to snicker behind them. "Yes, these are the missing children," he answered the boyís question while extracting himself from the motherís leech-like grip. Though she was a type he often went for, nicely curvy and clearly interested, he found himself uninterested and ignoring her obvious signals. "Do either of you recognize them?" he asked again.

Jinto nodded. "Bobby was in my class," he said, pointing at the picture.

John and Aiden exchanged another look. "And did you ever see any of them out here at your uncleís house?" John asked even as he edged away from the mother.

Jinto shook his head. "I didnít see any of them here, but Bobby talked about coming hereóon a dare. I think theyíre scared of Uncle Rodney." He lowered his voice. "Mama says Uncle Rodneyís nuts."

"Jinto!" Jennie cried, "I said no such thing!" She placed her hand on her sonís shoulder. "My brotherís just a little high strung is all."

John had to muffle a snort of laughter by faking a cough. High strung didnít begin to describe the man heíd met, but he was entertaining. "So all of the missing boys did plan to come out here," he mused.

From the house there came a loud crash of clashing piano notes.

"Detective, you surely canít believe that Rodney has anything to do with this."

"Maíam, we have to follow every lead. Every serial killer, kidnapper, rapist and pedophile is somebodyís brother, son, uncle or neighbor. And it always surprises the people closest to them."

"You think Uncle Rodney is..."

"Det. Sheppard didnít say that," Aiden cut in quickly. "Weíre just trying to find out what did happen to your friends."

"Yeah." John squatted down to look the boy in the eyes. "I just wanted you to understand why we have to investigate any possible leads, no matter whose uncle it might be. You just never know. But no, I donít think your uncleís responsible."

"Good, now that thatís settled, you can all leave," Rodney commented from where he stood watching them from inside the screen door. "Or do you want to come in and search the place to make sure there arenít any bones under the bed?"

"Rodney!" Jeannie sighed, taking the opportunity of the detectiveís distraction to move closer to him again. "Thatís a horrible thing to say!"

"We donít have a search warrant, Dr. McKay. But if youíre volunteering to let us look around, it would go a long way toward settling this once and for all." John moved toward the door, intent on the expression in McKayís incredible blue eyes.

"Are you sure? You know, homosexuals are allóhow did you put it? Oh yes, Ďserial killers, kidnappers, rapists or pedophilesíóeven if they are someoneís brother." As he spoke, Rodney pushed open the door and stepped out onto the porch again, holding it open challengingly, as if daring the detectives to come inside.

At the litany of crimes, Jeannie clamped her hands over Jintoís ears while he futilely tried to get away from her over-protectiveness.

John sauntered through the open door, ignoring Fordís abortive protest. "Last I checked, Doc, being gay didnít make a man a psychopath."

"Why, how enlightened! Thatís more than I expected from police in this lovely area, though I have the feeling your partner doesnít quite agree."

John glanced over his shoulder and bit back a sigh when he saw that Aiden was keeping his distance from McKay now. While it might be simple caution when entering the home of a possible serial killer, he didnít think so.

"I didnít say anything," Ford protested, convincing no one.

"Homophobic police in the south, who would have ever guessed," Rodney sighed.

"My brother is completely normal," Jeannie stated, waggling her finger at the younger detective.

"Well, I wouldnít go that far," John couldnít resist chuckling. He watched his partner and their suspectís sister, and he had to admit, if only to himself, that he was guiltily relieved to have the womanís attention distracted from him.

"Are you coming in or not?" Rodney growled.

"After you, Dr. McKay," John replied, stepping to one side of the living room and looking around with interest.

"What, now you want the grand tour? Let me tell you, thereís nothing grand about this place."

"So why are you here? No offense but the Great Dismal Swamp doesnít exactly seem like your sort of place."

"Didnít you hear my sister?" Rodney asked snidely. "Iím nuts, so it seems this is the perfect place for me."

"Uncle Rodney plays the piano," Jinto offered, pushing past the others to go into the kitchen and get himself a drink.

"Any good?" John asked, already knowing that McKay wouldnít allow himself to be anything but the best at anything he did.

"Buy a CD if you want to know," Rodney sniffed, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall, his gaze following the detectivesí movements.

"You have a CD? Impressive, Doc." John nodded toward a doorway nearly hidden in the shadows of the hallway. "Whatís through there?"

Rodney glanced toward the kitchen where Jinto was looking in the fridge before answering. "My S&M torture chamber; want to take a look?"

"Not on duty." John nodded to Aiden to check it out while he leaned back against a wall, crossed his arms over his chest, and regarded McKay with interest. "You avoided the question earlier, Doc. What made you decide to move out here?"

"I felt the undeniable urge to revisit my childhood home; or perhaps it was the drugs they were feeding me in the psych ward at the time."

John blinked. "Are you just trying to be annoying, or is that for real?"

Rodney smiled thinly. "Iím sure even backwater police departments such as yours have computers, so do your own research, Detective."

"Well, in the interest of thorough investigation, I may just have to do that." And John would regardless, since his gut wasnít a sound basis for determining that McKay was innocent of the childrenís disappearance, but he was personally intrigued by the man as well.

"Uncle Rodney, youíre out of milk," Jinto yelled from the kitchen.

"Well, you and your mother should have brought some with you," Rodney shouted back, his gaze not leaving the detectiveís face. "So, is there anything else you want to see?"

John glanced over as Ford came back upstairs and gave him a spare shake of the head. "No, that ought to do it, Doc. Though I wouldnít mind a glass of water?"

Before Rodney could answer, Jeannie nodded enthusiastically. "Of course, Detective, weíd be happy to get you both one, wouldnít we Rodney?"

Rodney muttered something under his breath before offering a smile that was anything but sweet. "Of course, go, make yourselves at home, detectives; weíll serve you lemonade and cookies on the veranda."

"How hospitable of you." John moved slightly so that McKay was between him and Jeannie. "But no need to go to any trouble. A glass of water would be fine."

"Oh, as if none of this has been trouble," Rodney grumbled, stomping into the kitchen and grabbing a glass, pouring tap water into it.

"If one of the missing kids was yours, youíd want us to check every lead, no matter how unlikely."

Rodney grunted in response, nudging aside his nephew, who was leaning around the door, listening avidly.

"Of course you would, Detective," Jeannie exclaimed, hurrying to his side again.

John gave her a slightly sickly smile and vowed to have Ford spend the next week searching old files on microfilm if he didnít stop snickering. "Just doing my job, Mrs. Halling."

"Well, do your job somewhere else," Rodney snapped, taking a cookie from Jintoís hand and trying to eat it before ending up in a tussle with his nephew for it.

"Is there something out here you donít want us to see, Dr. McKay?" Ford asked, dark eyes intent on the older man.

"No, I simply prefer my privacy; last I checked, that wasnít a crime."

"No," Aiden agreed. "Unless youíre overly zealous in ensuring it."

"Iíve given you both permission to look around the place; what else can I do?"

"Youíve been more than cooperative," John interjected, shaking his head at Ford. "If you do see any more kids out here or remember anything that might help us, please call me." He handed his card to McKay.

Rodney glanced at the card and shrugged before tacking the card to a corkboard that was hanging on the wall. "Fine, fine, have a lovely day, Detective."

"McKay," John said sharply, "I mean it. If you see any kids out here, call me. Immediately. Itís too much of a coincidence that all of the missing children planned to come out here. Someone could be snatching them on their way out here or back."

"Wouldnít it be better to do some sort of public service announcement and tell the kids not to come out here at all?" Rodney asked dryly. "Itís not like I want them here anyway."

"And you honestly think that would keep them away?" John snorted. "Itís more likely that it would bring them out in droves. Kids donít believe in their own mortality, and that would just make it more of a challenge to them."

"Well, youíre the police, set up aówhat do you call itóstake-out, and drive them off!"

It was Fordís time to laugh. "You really donít know kids very well, do you, Doctor?" He shook his head as he started for the car, knowing Sheppard would follow in a moment.

"Weíll do our best, Doc, but there are way too many ways out here. We canít watch them all." John started off the porch and paused, glancing back. "Call me if anything happens."

"Oh, Iíll be sure to do that," Rodney snorted. "Do have a nice day, detectives."

In the car, John managed a brief smile in response to Mrs. Hallingís enthusiastic wave and pulled away from the house. "So, what did you think of him?"

"Weird, very, very weird," was Fordís succinct response.

"Well, thatís pretty much normal for the McKays. Theyíve lived in the area for generations, and theyíve always been a bit... eccentric. When we get back to the office, Iím going to run a background check on him, but I really donít think heís our perp. I do think someoneís bagging the kids on their way to or from his house though, so see who else lives in the area."

Ford frowned. "Isnít it a little bit early to be deciding that, sir? I mean, he admitted heís had psychological problems..."

"Oh, Iím not deciding anything yet. I plan to put his life under a microscope and find out everything about him. At the moment heís still our only suspect. But my gut tells me heís not our man."

"No disrespect, but Iíd rather study the facts and come to that conclusion for myself." Ford twisted around in his seat and looked back over his shoulder at the house.

"I wouldnít have it any other way." John grinned at him. "Relax, Ford. Iím not suggesting we stop investigating him."

"Thatís a good thing, sir," Ford responded, straightening again. "He feels hinky to me."

"Well, hopefully weíll find out soon enough, before another kid disappears."

"Yeah, we donít need any more added to the toll."

"So, what does Ted think of you drooling over the local law enforcement?"

"Oh please, like you werenít," Jeannie retorted, well aware of her brotherís taste in men. "The manís a walking inducement to sex. And in case youíve forgotten, Ted and I arenít together any more."

"For what? The tenth time?" Rodney asked, glowering at his sister. "The two of you should really either stay together or get a divorce."

"Thatís none of your business, Rodney," Jeannie growled. "At least I had someone, and Iím open to a new relationship. Whenís the last time you got off with someone other than yourself?"

"And thatís none of your business; at least Iím not messing up a kid with who I sleep with and when."

"I am not messing up my son!"

"Fine, Jeannie, youíre a model mother, now is there a reason you came out here today?"

"Because if I didnít, youíd never have anything to eat in this house. And no matter how much of a prick you are, youíre still my brother."

"Thatís so sweet, Jeannie, and, just so you know, many people are glad Iím a prick." Rodney smiled thinly at that.

"I can still take you down, baby brother," she snapped. "Donít tempt me!"

"But if you hit me, then Iíd have to call your dear friend the detective and then what would you do?" Rodney grinned at the last.

"Hide your body!" she retorted promptly.

"Such filial love, is it a wonder I stayed away?"

"Until you had no choice but to come back because no one else would have you." Jeannie went directly for his weak spot with the unerring ability of someone who knew him well.

Rodney shrugged. "Well, the rehab center wanted to keep me a few more weeks..."

Jeannie rolled her eyes. "You need to think about what youíre going to do with your life, Rodney. I know you can afford to, but do you really plan to hide out here for the rest of your life?"

"Maybe it wonít be that long of a life that I need to worry."

Jeannieís eyes widened. "Rodney..."


"Youíre not planning to do something crazy, are you?"

Rodney smiled brilliantly. "Well now, that would be everything I do, wouldnít it?"

"Rodney, promise me youíre not going to hurt yourself," Jeannie demanded, growing frightened.

"I wonít hurt myself, Jeannie," he parroted back. "Because Iím sure if I donít tell you this, Iíll never get you out of here."

Jeannie eyed him warily. Rodney had never been the type to himself harm, but he had had that breakdown not so long ago, and she couldnít be sure of anything any more. "Rodney... We would miss you if anything happened to you."

"Yes, yes, the whole artistic world would miss me if I vanished."

Jeannie sighed and kissed his cheek. "Iíll see you in few days, Rodney. And next time weíre staying for dinner, so be prepared."

"Well, youíd better bring enough for all of us then," he replied peevishly.

"Yes, Rodney."

Two days after his meeting with Dr. Rodney McKay, John Sheppard knew everything there was to know about the musician, and he was intrigued by the manís retreat to his childhood home after his breakdown. He could afford to live anywhere, but heíd chosen to return his family, despite minimal contact for several years.

John had also picked up several of McKayís CDs, and heíd found them deeply moving. Which was the only reason he was standing on McKayís porch again, CDs in hand, about to ask the man to autograph them.

"Detective Sheppard, what a lovely surprise," Rodney sighed as he came to the door. "Any other crimes you wish to quiz me about?"

"Not exactly." John held up the CDs.

"You bought some CDs, goody for you, though they tend to work better if theyíre in a player."

"Yeah, Iíve already tried them in one. And liked them. A lot. Which is why I was hoping youíd agree to autograph them." John tried the charming smile that usually got him into bed with a woman on the first date.

"And what do I get out of it?" Rodney asked, leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed over his chest.

One eyebrow rising sharply, John leaned against the railing, mirroring Rodneyís position. "Good relations with a fan?"

"A fan?" Rodney laughed and pushed open the door. "Are you sure this isnít more in the way of opening up the suspect?"

"Naw, Iíd be doing that while I was on duty. Besides, Iím letting Ford run with that part of the investigation; heís enjoying himself. I just liked your music. And itís not often that we have an actual world-renowned musician here."

"Even a crazy one," Rodney chuckled, leaning against the door to keep it open. "So youíve learned all about me since we last chatted, Detective; learn anything interesting?"

"Well, you werenít kidding about the psych ward; you really are smarter than pretty much everybody; and youíre an incredible musician."

"Mmm, such flattery, and you sound so sincere; no wondering if the crazy man really did kidnap those kids?"

John shrugged. "Anythingís possible. And if you did, Iíll get you. But my gut says you didnít."

"Then letís hear it for your gut, and are you coming or not; Iím tired of letting in flies."

"How could I refuse such a gracious invitation?" John walked into the house and paused just inside. "So can I sit down this time?"

Rodney huffed out a laugh at that. "Make yourself at home, Detective; Iíll even play the gracious host and offer you a beer since youíre supposedly off duty."

"Donít mind if I do." John strolled into the large living room, or maybe he should call it a parlor in a place like this. He glanced at the piano and sat down in a comfortable, overstuffed chair angled to face the piano bench.

Rodney retrieved two bottles of beer from the fridge and carried them back into the other room, offering one to the other man before carrying his over to the sofa and dropping down on it, raising his bottle in a toast before bringing it to his lips.

"Thanks." John took a long swallow of the beer. "So, are you going to autograph my CDs, or am I going to have to bribe you?"

"And what would you bribe me with?"

"Hmm, good question. What would work?"

Rodney chuckled and took another long swallow from his bottle, lowering it and licking his lips, his eyes on the detectiveís. "Well, as you well know, Iím filthy rich, so that leaves out money."

"I understand that youíre very fond of fine chocolate."

"My, my, youíre very thorough, Detective."

"Itís part of the job. Though Iíll admit that youíre interesting."

"Well, a touch of insanity does add spice to anyone, though I assure you my doctors say Iím completely sane now."

"I have a feeling that youíve never been entirely sane, Doc, but itís part of what makes you interesting." John took a long swallow of his beer.

"Hrmmm, I bet that line along with the Ďaww shucksí personality and the long, lean body has the women falling at your feet, donít they."

John snorted. "I donít have any problems." He shrugged. "But Iím not trying to get into your pants, Doc. You may be gay, but Iím not."

"Well, damn, Iím just crushed; how about that cute little partner of yours?"

"Even straighter than I am," John chuckled. "I think you freaked him out last time. Heíll grow out of it, hopefully."

"Hooray for him," Rodney snorted, downing the rest of his beer.

"Yeah, well, his problem, not mine." John shrugged again and leaned back in the chair, sprawling comfortably. "So why here?"

"Itís quiet." Rodney rolled his eyes. "Or it was quiet, anyway."

"Everybody needs some human contact." John smirked before finishing his beer and putting the empty bottle down on the floor next to the chair.

"Iíve had plenty of that, thank you, and my sister makes sure I donít become a hermit despite my best intent."

"You want to be a hermit?" John raised an eyebrow at him, showing no signs of leaving anytime soon.

"And once everyone leaves me alone, I can bring in a busload of party boys and have an orgy."

"You can find a busload of party boys in South Suffolk?"

"Iíll import them," Rodney said dryly.

"Sounds like youíre going to be good for our economy," John replied equally dryly.

"From suspected kidnapper and murderer to philanthropist in a matter of days, arenít I good?"

"Maybe youíre a philanthropic psychopath," John suggested, chuckling.

"Thereís always that possibility." Rodney finally looked down at the CDs the detective had handed him, a smile quirking his lips at the sight of the second. "Interesting choices, Detective, my bestseller and my failure in one fell swoop."

"Failure?" John looked at the cases as well. "Thatís actually my favorite of all of them."

Rodney looked up from the CDs, his eyebrows raised in faint surprise. "Well, apparently the general public and my label donít have the same good taste as we do then; more of the same is what they want, no new directions."

"Screw Ďem. You can afford to do what you want. Go to another label or publish it yourself, but do what you want to do. Especially if itís more like that." John quirked a grin, tacitly admitting that he might be a little biased.

"Thatís exactly what I was planning on doing before I went nuts." Rodney looked down at his nearly empty beer bottle and got to his feet. "Care for another?"

"I donít think nervous exhaustion qualifies as going nuts, Doc. And sure, thanks."

"Got a hold of the reports, did you?" Rodney chuckled before heading into the kitchen. "Any other questions you have for me, Detective?"

"No, I think Iíll leave that to Ford. Iím here off-duty, Doc. Youíre fairly unusual for our little town."

"Ahh, entertainment value. Would you like me to play you something next?"

"Iíd love it, but thatís not something Iím going to ask if youíre not comfortable with it."

"Let me have a few more of these, and Iíll think about it." Rodney handed John another beer before drinking from his own. "But címon, Detective, it canít be just me telling my life story, what about you?"

"Iím pretty much an open book. Born and raised on various army bases, including one not far from here during my teens, I decided what I really wanted was to settle down someplace. After college, I decided to become a cop, and South Suffolk had an opening, so here I am."

"No blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife? No 2.3 kids?"

"Nope, none of the above. Iíve come close a couple of times, but every time I tried to imagine waking up to her face every day for the next few decades, I knew it wasnít right. In one case, I nearly ran screaming into the night," John chuckled.

"Hrmmm, sounds like a guy I once dated... of course the fact that he was more interested in my money than me helped end that little fiasco quickly."

"Yeah, that would suck," John agreed. "And not in a good way," he couldnít resist adding with a crooked grin.

Rodney snickered at that. "Actually, that kind of sucking he was quite good atóit almost made it worthwhile."

John couldnít prevent a bark of laughter. "Thatís what suckered me into sticking with the one I ran from. She was amazing in bed, and she always wanted it. But man cannot live by sex alone."

"No, though we almost can."

"And itís sure fun to try." John toasted him with his beer bottle.

Rodney gave a low chuckle and raised his own bottle as well. "That it is."

"So whyíve you been holing up out here since you got to town? We may not have a huge gay community, but Iím pretty sure you could find someone if you went out."

"Because I came out here to be left alone," Rodney explained, his tone that of a person dealing with someone who was mentally slow. "Why do you care about my sex life?"

John shrugged. "Well, I donít, particularly, but I donít want to talk about the case, and I donít know if youíre willing or able to talk about your career. So since we donít know each other especially well, that doesnít leave a lot of topics in common. And weíre guys, so... sex." He grinned before taking another long swallow of his beer.

"Or sports," Rodney offered.

"Football!" John exclaimed gleefully.

"Hockey," Rodney shot back with a smirk.

"And weíre back to sex."

"Why does a man who seems to be so straight he squeaks want to talk about sex with a gay man?" Rodney asked, sighing. "Looking for pointers for your girlfriend? I mean, we do give the best blowjobs."

"Thatís what they say, but considering some of the women Iíve known, Iíll have to take that with a grain of salt. Any better might kill me," John chuckled. "And for the record, no, I wasnít looking for pointers for the currently non-existent girlfriend."

"Then just what were you looking for?" Rodney leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.

John shrugged. "Honestly? I have no idea. But youíre about the most interesting person around here, and I thought you might like some company. But if Iím bothering you, I can be gone in a minute."

"You make good scenery, and you arenít totally stupid, so stay for now."

"Gee, Iím overwhelmed by your praise."

"Considering you came out here thinking I was a murdering pedophile, you should be glad for that much."

"Now, letís be accurate. I came out here the first time thinking you might be a murdering pedophile. And for the record, thereís still no proof either way; my gut instinct doesnít count." John grinned at him. "And I need another beer."

Rodney chuckled at that. "You sure you want to get drunk around a guy who might be a murdering pedophile?"

"Iím not a kid," John pointed out.

"Maybe Iím not picky about age."

"Iím pretty sure Iím better trained than you."

"Maybe the beer is drugged."

"I doubt you need to slip a guy a roofie to get some, so I donít think Iíll worry."

Rodney made a face. "And I really prefer my partners active and conscious when weíre in bed, so no roofies."

"Yeah, Iíve never quite understood that either. Just proves that sex crimes are about power and violence, not sex." John shook his head. "And now I really need another beer."

"You arenít going to be able to drive back to town if you keep this up," Rodney commented as he stood and gathered up their empties to carry them into the kitchen. "I think there are some crackers in here if you want to get them so you donít pass out and fall over."

John followed him. "You donít have any food in the house except crackers?"

"Check the freezer; Jeannie brings me a weekís worth of meals at a time. I can throw something in the microwave if youíd rather have that."

John shook his head. "Letís see what you have. Iím sure I can throw something non-frozen together. Itís the least I can do for the beer and the company."

"You can cook?" Rodney asked, his eyebrows raised. "A man of hidden talents, though I donít think thereís much to work with here; Iíve always been too busy to do much other than boil water and heat things up."

"My folks both made sure I could keep body and soul together. Nothing fancy, but Iím not bad if I do say so myself."

"Then be my guest. Just donít use sealed bottles labeled in a language you canít read; I have a cousin who likes to experiment with homebrew."

"In a languóRight. Okay. You have a very interesting family," John observed, peering into the freezer to see if he could find any meat.

"Straight out of a Faulkner novel," Rodney sighed, opening their beers and leaning against the counter, watching John work.

"Why do I get the feeling that whatís interesting in fiction is not so great in real life?" John found some ground beef and frozen vegetables in the freezer, then got a couple of potatoes and an onion out of the fridge. He quickly peeled the potatoes and put them on to boil while the meat defrosted in the microwave, moving easily around the kitchen.

Rodney chuckled and swallowed half of his beer down in one gulp. "You ever watch Twin Peaks? My family makes those people look sane."

"Okay, thatís just scary." With the meat simmering on the stove, John leaned against the counter and observed McKay over his beer. "You seem relatively normal."

"Aside from being nuts and a possible murderer," Rodney snorted.

"Aside from that," John agreed. "So, howíd you manage it?"

"I left."

"And now youíve come back. How does your family feel about that?"

"Jeannieís happy to have someone else to hover over; Jinto likes having a weird uncle to brag about; and Radek is glad to have another guinea pig for his shine, plus I can pay any overdue bills they have; how do you think they feel?"

John frowned. "Are you saying that you support your entire family?"

Rodney took another drink. "No, but letís just say they all have a cushion to fall back on if they need to."

John eyed him. "That could make a man resentful if he felt like he was being used or taken for granted."

"Theyíre family," Rodney shrugged. "It doesnít matter how you feel about them; theyíre always with you."

"Iíll have to take your word for that. In my family, it was just me and my folks, and weíre not particularly close."

"At times Iíd rather have that than people wanting to live in your pocket."

"Your sister seemed rather persistent," John observed, trying to hide a grin.

"She certainly was impressed with you." Rodney walked over to the stove and peered down at the food. "So what are you making?"

"Sheppardís shepherdís pie." John tested the potatoes and took them off the stove to drain and mash. "There, just need to let the meat and vegetables simmer for a few minutes and then I can put the whole thing together and bake it."

"Youíre going to make someone a wonderful wife some day."

"Husband, if you please. I assure you Iím male."

Rodney chuckled as he picked up a spoon and poked at the concoction the detective was making. "Sorry to offend your masculine sensibilities, Detective."

"And so you should be. I might need to go out and prove my masculinity now... by having another beer." John grinned at him and slapped his hand and the spoon away from the potatoes he was spreading over the meat mixture. "Stop that."

"Why?" Rodney dropped the spoon in the sink and studied his hand, rubbing at the spot Sheppard had hit. "And careful! My hands are my life."

"Oh, donít be a baby," John laughed. "I barely tapped you. And it looks better un-poked, so donít."

"Iím more concerned with how it tastes than how it looks."

"I can guarantee that itíll be good." John finished by grating a little cheddar cheese over the dish and putting it into the oven. "Wonít be much longer now."

"Good thing, because Iím just about out of beer; all thatís left is Radekís best."

"Why do I think that might kill me?"

"He stopped putting antifreeze in it years ago, so I think youíd live; probably wouldnít be going anywhere the rest of the evening though," Rodney allowed.

"Sounds like Iíd be happier if I didnít." John shuddered at the thought. "I think Iíll stick to beer or bourbon."

"Poor Det. Sheppard, no sense of adventure."

"I have plenty sense of adventure. I just prefer not to go blind exercising it."

Rodney chuckled. "I doubt it would do that, but caution is always admirable as well."

"Itís served me well so far." John leaned back against the counter, his eyes intent on Rodney. "Youíre an interesting man, Doc. You just donít fit here, and yet you came voluntarily. Itís puzzling. And I like puzzles." He took another swallow of his beer. "So maybe Iíll have to make dinner sometime when I have a few more ingredients available."

"And donít I have anything to say about this?"

"Of course you do. You can always turn down the invitation."

"Invitation?" Rodney smirked slightly. "So this is a date?"

"Hardly," John laughed. "No offense, but youíre somewhat lacking up top and overly endowed below the waist to be my type."

"Never know what youíre missing," Rodney smirked, finishing off his beer.

"Likewise," John shot back. "Soft and curvy is nice." He grinned in anticipation of Rodneyís response.

"Been there, done that, prefer hard and muscled, thanks," Rodney laughed.

John blinked. "You do both and you still like guys better? Now that certainly throws a lot of my assumptions out the window."

"Did. Once, when I was trying to be anything except a gay, brainy music geek; tried it once and hated it so I decided to embrace what I was and enjoy it."

"Huh. Well, I guess that makes sense. Sex is pretty pointless if youíre not enjoying it." John raised his bottle to his lips and frowned when he realized it was empty. "Was that really the last of it?" he asked sadly.

Rodney frowned and shook his head. "Detective, youíre making me wonder if youíre a closet lush."

John turned to look at him, the hazel eyes muddy and his expression drawn. "I had to arrest a man yesterday for beating his wife into a coma and his six-month-old baby into a coffin, and I have three missing kids and more likely to disappear. Youíre damn right I try to forget in a bottle sometimes."

Rodney eyed the other man for a long moment before standing and getting a bottle and two glasses out of a cabinet. He filled each of them to the three-quarters mark before handing one over to the police officer. "Iíll call you a cab when youíre done."

"Thanks. And sorry for dumping that on you." John took a mouthful of his drink, and his eyes widened before starting to water while he wheezed.

"Radekís best," Rodney offered with a smile before growing serious again. "And go right ahead; after hearing that, I feel damn stupid complaining about my life."

"That wasnít my intent. I chose to become a cop, and I knew it would mean seeing the worst of people." John took another, smaller sip of his drink. "This is probably going to sound even cornier out loud, but thatís why I like your music. It reminds me of peopleís better side."

Rodney took a drink, eyeing the detective closer. "Interesting; Iíd lost touch with that. I suppose thatís part of why I ended up back here."

"You have an amazing gift, Doc. I hope you remember that soon." John smiled crookedly. "Iím hoping for a song dedication on the next album."

"When and if I can write again, youíll be sure to get one, though unless you want it to be to Det. Sheppard, Iíll need to know your first name."

"Youíll..." John stared at him, the glass halfway to his lips, and mentally replayed their conversations. "Oh. Well, donít I feel like an idiot," he laughed ruefully. "Itís John."

Rodney chuckled and slugged back another swallow. "Considering it wasnít particularly a social call, I wonít take you for congenitally stupidóyet."

"Gee, thanks." John took another mouthful of his drink, finding it went down more easily each time, and went to get their dinner out of the oven. "Itís ready," he announced as he set the dish on top of the stove.

"Guess Iíd better get the plates then." Rodney stood, taking a moment to admire Johnís lean body as he grabbed them out of a cupboard and set them next to the stove.

"Yeah, just digging in with forks could get messy," John chuckled, dishing up the meal and carrying the plates over to the table. "Speaking of which, forks and knives would be good, Mr. Host."

"Ordering me around already, Detective?" Rodney asked, arching his eyebrows as he got the silverware. "Usually people have to put out before I let them do that."

"Small problem with that payment, Doc. Straight here." John took another healthy swallow of his drink before digging into dinner.

"I said usually," Rodney sighed, sitting down at the table and picking up his fork to take a bite of the meal. "And very nice, you have a secondary career to fall back on."

John grinned. "Glad you like it. You know," he said slowly, "Iíve kinda wondered..." He hesitated and tossed back the rest of his drink. "Wouldakissbeenoughpayment?" he asked so fast all the words ran together.

Rodney paused, his fork halfway to his mouth, then set it back down. "Sorry, Detective, Iíve got enough on my mind without being your little experiment in counter-culture."

"Sorry, I didnít mean it as an insult," John said. "So I admit Iím curious, and itís not like the opportunity comes along every day." He shrugged and took another bite. "But thatís not why I came out here, in case you were wondering."

"The vehement declarations of your heterosexuality might have tipped me to that."

"I wasnít that bad, was I?" John groaned.

"I gave up counting the fifth time it came up, but donít worry, Detective, being gay isnít catching." Rodney took another drink and began to eat again.

"Aw hell, sorry." John shook his head and reached for the bottle to refill his glass. "I have no idea why I was..." He trailed off as he realized that he did know why he was doing that, and he drained half the glass in a single gulp.

Rodney watched him silently, toying with his food, thinking. "I know, Iím just so damn irresistible you couldnít resist meóthat or itís Radekís hootch."

John flushed and seemed to find his food fascinating. "You werenít kidding about how strong it is."

"He should go into business, and youíll definitely have to call a cab to get home."

"Donít worry; I stopped planning to drive after the first beer."

"Glad to hear it. Iíd hate to have people thinking I was trying to kill you for checking up on me."

"Naw, theyíd think you tried to kill because I was talking to you." John grinned. "Some people think I can be annoying."

"Funny, thatís what they usually say about me." Rodney gave a half-laugh and downed the rest of his drink.

"Gee, I would never have guessed it." Johnís grin widened.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "No wonder youíre a detective with skills like that."

"Iíve never had a problem with bluntness."

"Except when asking a man to kiss you."

"Well, I thought I was pretty open about that."

"Mumbling like a stutterer on speed?"

"Well, excuse me if Iíve never asked a guy to kiss me before! I was a little nervous!"

Rodney eyed him closely. "So why did you ask me to do it?"

"Obviously because I wanted to."

"Because you wanted to."

"Thatís what I said," John growled.

Rodney nodded. "Finish your food and then weíll talk about it."

Johnís eyes shot up in surprise. "I thought that you werenít interested?"

"I said weíd talk about it, not that Iíd strip you down and blow you."

Johnís eyes widened comically. "Whoa, hold on there, weíre talking about a kiss here. One step at a time, Doc."

Rodney chuckled and picked up his fork again. "Once weíre done, Iíll call you a cab, Detective."

John pouted comically. "What, all this space and you canít even offer me a spare bed or sofa?"

"I think you need to go home to your long-legged, buxom girlfriend and enjoy her soft curves."

"Donít have a girlfriend right now. Havenít for a while," John shrugged. "It hasnít felt right for a while, the job and all."

"Why not? Iíd think youíd like coming home to comfort after dealing with what you do."

"It was too hard to try to pretend everything was okay. Maybe if it was someone else, but the women Iíve dated, I just never felt like I could dump that on them; I had to be the nice guy who was worried about what they wanted." John poked at his food before taking another mouthful of his drink.

"When sometimes you just wanted to scream about the injustice of the world?" Rodney eyed the level of whiskey in Johnís glass and realized the chances of him staying conscious long enough to get into a cab was slim to none.

"Exactly." John leaned back in his chair, the long body sprawling almost bonelessly. "They didnít get it, starting complaining about my moods." He laughed bitterly. "Moods. Fuck."

"Iíd say seeing people hurt and killed gives you the right to be moody."

"Yeah, I thought so too." John shrugged again. "Apparently weíre in a minority. So I decided it was easier not to try for a while."

"Seems weíre of a like mind in that regard, Detective," Rodney mused as he refilled both their glasses. "Though I donít have quite as sound reason as you do unless you consider the insanity part reasonable."

John seemed to think about that for a moment. "Nope, I donít think so. I think the insanity might make you more interesting. If you were actually insane, that is."

"Read the doctorís report, or the tabloids; it all amounts to the same thing in the end." Rodney finished his food and motioned toward Johnís plate. "Are you done with that?"

"Youíre not crazy, just stressed. And pretty hyper, which Iím sure contributes. And yeah, Iím done." John handed the plate over but kept a good grip on his glass.

"Why donít you go relax in the other room; Iíll clean up in here," Rodney offered, taking the plate, stacking it on top of his, and standing to carry them both to the sink. "And thank you, that was pretty good."

"Thanks for the drinks." John stood up and wobbled slightly. "The very strong drinks."

"I warned you; you canít say I didnít." Rodney watched the other man closely as he started for the living room, wondering if he was steady enough on his feet to catch him if he started to fall.

"You warned me," John agreed, making his way into the living room and dropping down onto the couch. "But that stuff has to be experienced to be believed," he called back to the kitchen.

"Just like many things in life," Rodney laughed, covering the pan of food and leaving it on the stove to cool before adding soap to the water in the sink to wash the dishes.

When he realized Rodney wasnít following right away, John weaved his way back into the kitchen and leaned against the counter to watch him. "Nice ass," he murmured, not realizing he was speaking out loud.

Rodney slowly looked over his shoulder, his hands still in the soapy water. "Youíre really making me wonder about all those declarations of heterosexuality, Detective."

"Me too," John muttered, refusing to raise his eyes to meet McKayís.

"Iím going to have to tell Radek that this batch has very interesting properties."

"I think I might be a little drunk," John announced, raising his eyes but only as far as Rodneyís mouth.

"I think itís more than a little," Rodney sighed, unconsciously licking his lips.

Staring, John bit back a soft whimper so that only a muffled sound escaped him, and he licked his own lips. "Not as much as you seem to think. Iím relaxedóokay, very relaxedónot out of control."

"So, watching a man wash dishes just turns you on, does it?"

"Hardly," John snorted. "Grease and suds donít do a thing for me. But Iím relaxed enough to admit to being curious... and you really do have a great ass."

"I really shouldnít be doing this," Rodney sighed, rinsing his hands off and drying them on a dish towel before turning to face the detective. "I could say the same for you," he commented, leaning against the counter.

"What, that Iím curious?" John grinned. "Most people arenít that polite."

"No," Rodney laughed, "that you have a great ass."

"Oh, ya think?" John twisted as if trying to peer over his shoulder.

"What I think is if you try and look at it, youíre going to fall on it."

"Or pull a muscle in my neck." John rubbed the sore spot, his eyes back on Rodneyís mouth.

Rodney sighed, reached for his glass and downed the remaining whiskey in it, setting it down before starting toward John. "I can do something about that."

"Musicians have strong, clever fingers," John observed, watching him come closer.

"And, apparently, nice asses." Rodney rested his hands on Johnís shoulders and began kneading the tight muscles, trying to work them out, his gaze flicking from Johnís mouth to his deep hazel eyes.

"At the moment, I think I like the fingers better," John almost moaned, his head falling forward so Rodney could get at his neck.

"Maybe youíd better sit down before you fall down." Rodney gently turned John around and led him back into the living room.

"That might be a good idea," John agreed. He dropped onto the sofa, leaving room beside him, and looked up at Rodney.

"Sort of hard to massage your neck if youíre sitting beside me."

John slid down to the floor, his back to the sofa.

Rodney chuckled. "That works better." He slid in behind John, settling the detective between his legs, and began to massage the tight tendons in his neck and shoulders.

"Damn, that feels good," John groaned happily.

"Youíre so tight Iím surprised that you donít creak."

"I have a stressful job," John said defensively.

"Hey, Iím not complaining, just commenting," Rodney murmured, sweeping his thumbs in circles along the warm flesh of Johnís neck.

"Sorry, I get that a lot. Itís one of the reasons why I broke up with my last girlfriend."

"This the same one who said you were Ďmoodyí?"

"Yup. I suggested that she see if Happy or Dopey was available to date her." John chuckled wryly. "I was a little annoyed."

Rodney chuckled at that and slid his hands into Johnís thick dark hair to massage his scalp. "So youíre Moody and Iím Nutty; weíll try to stay away from singing birds and apples."

"Then I hope you have something other than that apple pie I saw for dessert." John leaned back against Rodney, practically purring with contentment.

"I think I have some ice cream, not that youíre going to be conscious much longer to eat it."

"Iím not that much of a light-weight!"

"You had three glasses of Radekís booze; the fact that youíre still alive means you arenít a light-weight," Rodney laughed, leaning in to breathe the words into Johnís ear.

A shiver ran down Johnís spine, but he didnít move away. His eyes closed, and he held his breath as he waited for whatever would happen next.

"John," Rodney whispered, and, when he opened his eyes and turned his head, Rodney leaned in, brushing their lips together. John blinked, so close that his eyelashes brushed Rodneyís cheek, and leaned forward the fraction needed to bring their mouths together again.

"I am so going to regret this in the morning," Rodney sighed before moving his hand to cup the back of Johnís head, holding him into the kiss as he licked at his lips.

John hesitated for only an instant before parting his lips and letting Rodney in. He was kissing a man, and it wasnít as different as heíd thought it would be. Sure, there was unaccustomed stubble, but it was hot and wet, just like any good kiss.

Rodney groaned, enjoying this chance to delve beneath the smoky whiskey taste to find Johnís unique flavor, half off the sofa as he tried to get closer. Totally in favor of that idea, John twisted around on his knees so he was facing Rodney with his hands on the musicianís thighs.

"John..." Rodney pulled back with a visible effort, his breath coming in sharp gasps. "Are you going to freak out in the morning?"

John stared at him, the hazel eyes dark, and shook his head slowly. "No. Iím not quite sure what Iíll feel in the morning, but youíre not making me do anything. No freaking."

Rodney smiled slowly and rubbed his thumb over the back of Johnís neck. "Glad to hear it, and as much as I want to, weíre not doing more than this tonight, so even if you do feel regrets, they wonít be major ones."

After a moment, John nodded. "Thatís probably wise. And while I donít usually make the wise choice, I probably should this time. Even if I might regret it." He smiled crookedly. "Though I still have to make a real dinner for you one night."

"You do that and it might get you more than kissed if you decide you want it."

"Iíll have to get back to you on that," John admitted. He laid his cheek on Rodneyís thigh while looking up at him. "But, it was good. Really good. A lot better than I expected."

Rodney smirked and shifted his hand to Johnís cheek for a momentís caress. "Of course it was; it was with me."

"Gee, Rodney, we really need to work on your self-image."

"A healthy self-image was never something I had a problem with," Rodney chuckled.

"I can see that. I think Iím glad that you decided to come back here."

"Even though I might be a kidnapping pedophile?" Rodney grinned as he spoke.

"Well, no, that would be bad. But I donít believe that you are. A little weird, maybe, but that just makes you interesting."

"As if I couldnít say the same about you; from straight and narrow to giving me the fuck-me look in under an hour, it must be some kind of record."

"Well, kiss me, anyways. I donít think Iím ready to even think about fucking."

"I was talking about the look, not what you really wanted; I donít think you have any idea what you want, Detective."

John sighed. "I canít really argue with that. And after a kiss like that I think you can call me John."

Rodney chuckled and nodded. "True, I seem to have fallen in the habit of calling you by your title."

"Well, if you wanted to call me God..." John grinned.

"I believe youíll be the one calling me by that title eventually."

John snorted. "I think youíre delusional."

"You say this now?" Rodney laughed.

"Hell yes." John grinned up at him. "That or I totally blew your mind."

"I meant considering youíre the one on the floor between my legs, it would seem Iím the one with the godlike powers."

"Dream on. Hot, yes, godlike? Not hardly!"

"You say that now." Rodney glanced up when headlights washed over the semi-dark room.

John looked up too. "You expecting company?"

Rodney shook his head. "No, itís probably the guys who live out past here. All I know about them is that they have horrible taste in music."

John frowned. "Out past here? I didnít know anyone lived farther into the swamp. I thought that was all public land."

"Thereís a shack out there. I think the two men who live there are brothers or else they look disgustingly like each other."

John rose to his feet and strode over to the window to stare after the long-vanished car. "Do you know their names?"

Grumbling, Rodney got up as well, scrubbing at his face as he walked over to where John stood. "Urmmm... Waite? Wrait? No, wait, Wraithe, thatís it, no idea of their first names."

John pulled his cell out of his pocket and hit the speed dial. The moment he heard it picked up, he started talking. "Ford? Itís Sheppard. Find out everything you can about two guys named Wraithe who live out past the McKay place in the swamp." He listened for a moment and grinned. "Seniority, partner. See you tomorrow." He was grinning when he turned to face McKay again.

"I take it this is a lead?"

"It could be. Itís the closest thing weíve got." John looked out the window again before turning away. "You may be my lucky charm."

"You have no idea how that statement lightens my heart." Rodney moved over to the piano and ran a finger over the keys but didnít press any of them.

"People tend to keep lucky charms close."

"Is that the pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, or green clovers?"

"I think it might be a rainbow... something." John raised an eyebrow at him.

"Ready to wave the flag already? My powers are beyond belief!"

"You are such a freak," John laughed.

"Thank you, I appreciate the compliment. So, Iím guessing your little lead has quite sobered you up, right?"

John shrugged. "It broke the mood, but I think my blood alcohol would still get me arrested. You wouldnít make me have to arrest myself, would you?"

Rodney turned and gave a half-smile. "Well, watching you cuff yourself would be amusing."

"Kinky. I can do kink."

"Itís amazing how quickly youíre delving into your deeply repressed side."

Johnís smile turned sheepish. "Only because youíve already said and proven that Iím perfectly safe. I know youíre not going to push me to do more than talk tonight."

Rodney groaned. "And just how did I become a good guy? I think I liked being a grumpy, psycho pervert better."

"Ah, but psychos donít get to kiss cops."

"No, but they do get to eat them."

"I really hope you donít mean that in a Hannibal Lector sort of way."

Rodney chuckled. "No, when I get near parts, everyone involved enjoys it."

John swallowed hard. "I really hope you live up to your advertising."

"Maybe someday youíll find out."

"Maybe I will," John said slowly, his eyes searching Rodneyís.

"But not tonight."

"But not tonight." John raked a hand through his hair. "You mind if I crash on your couch? I think maybe I should get some sleep."

"Well, thereís no way Iím letting you drive anywhere, but there is more than one bedroom in this place, so I think I can offer you more than the couch."

"Thanks." John didnít pretend that he didnít want to stay. "I honestly wasnít planning any of this tonight."

"The cooking dinner part, the getting drunk part, or the kissing part?" Rodney smiled at the last.

John smiled as well. "Pretty much all of it. You turn my assumptions on their head."

"Sorry I couldnít live down to your expectations."

"I think I prefer the reality."

"Iíll ask again when youíre sober, but for now, letís find you a bed."

John smiled and nodded, his eyes running over Rodney as he followed his host upstairs. Part of him wondered what the hell he thought he was doing, but most of him was just enjoying the situation and McKay. The abrasive musician was actually endearing once John got past the outer defenses, and he challenged John in ways that intrigued him.

"Of course, if you keep looking at me like that, Iím going to let my better judgment go out the window and put you in mine," Rodney remarked conversationally.

John actually hesitated for a moment before turning to look at a painting. "Sorry. Well, not for looking but for the mixed signals." He glanced over his shoulder at Rodney. "You confuse the hell out of me, Doc."

"If you think Iím going to apologize about that, youíre insane," Rodney chuckled, pushing open a bedroom door and letting John walk ahead of him. "And donít apologize for yourself either; I will admit to enjoying the challenge."

Smiling crookedly, John said, "Maybe guys are easier than women after all."

"Or maybe Iím just lulling you into a false sense of complacency. Now, hereís the bed; can you get undressed yourself or do you need some help?"

John stared at him wordlessly for a long moment before sighing with the faintest of smiles. "We both know damn well I can undress myself, and saying anything else would just make me a cocktease. Because no matter how good it sounds when youíre saying it, Iím pretty sure Iíd freak at the moment of truth." He shrugged, looking almost disappointed. "But you could kiss me good night if youíre being a good host."

"Does it seem like Iím a good host?" Rodney laughed. "But since youíre a good guest, Iíll have to do it, and do it properly." He slid a hand behind Johnís neck and pulled him in for a slow, deep kiss that he knew would have him jacking off later that night.

John whimpered faintly when Rodney finally drew back, and the hazel eyes were dark with arousal when they opened again. "At the moment I really wish you were less of a nice guy."

"Donít worry, Iím not." Rodney slid a hand down to Johnís ass and squeezed the firm globe lightly. "Not in most things, but Iím also not a jerk enough to take advantage of someone who doesnít know what theyíre doing."

"Iím sure Iíll thank you for that eventually," John sighed, unable to prevent himself from rubbing his erection against Rodneyís thigh.

"And Iím going to leave before I get myself into more trouble. Sweet dreams, Detective," Rodney murmured, brushing another kiss over his mouth before backing out of the room.

John dropped onto the bed and stared at the closed door once Rodney was gone. "What the fuck am I doing?" he muttered to himself, raking a hand through already messy hair. Heíd never had the slightest interest in another man in his life, but he had to admit that if Rodney had pushed at all, John wouldnít have stopped him. He realized that he was rubbing himself, thoughts of Rodney filling his mind. Groaning, he dropped onto his back and unfastened his jeans, freeing himself to jerk off to images of what he and Rodney might have been doing.

Morning was made much easier by a heavily caffeinated pot of coffee, and Rodney sipped at a large mug of the brew as he sat on the porch, watching the sun climb higher in the sky and waiting for Detective Sheppard to wake up, not that he thought that would happen for quite some time. "Amazing what Radekís brew brings out," he murmured as he pushed himself back in forth in the rocking chair.

"I keep telling you itís not for the uninitiated," Radek himself said as he came around the side of the house. "What have to you been doing now?" He went inside for some of the coffee he could smell before sitting down in one of the other chairs on the porch.

"Me? Nothing! Such familial love and compassion Iím feeling here; remind me of it the next time you need a new part for your stills."

"No parts, no free samples," Radek replied easily. "So what exactly did my best bring out this time?"

"Remember that detective Jeannie is plotting to catch?"

"The one who thinks youíre some kind of serial killer-pedophile? What about him?"

"He drank three large glasses of your finest last night; heís still here." Rodney took another drink of his coffee and savored the shorter manís reaction.

Radek almost dropped his coffee. "Heís here? Why is he here? And three glasses? Were you trying to kill him?"

Rodney snickered at the reaction and sipped some more coffee as he kept rocking. "Yes, heís here. As for why, apparently he wanted my autograph on some CDs, and heís the one who kept drinking it. Youíd better tell people that apparently it turns straight men gay because he was all over meónot that Iím telling Jeannie that!"

Radek looked at his coffee and set it down. "Do you have any of it left? I think Iím going to need it for this conversation!"

"Probably, but I may need it myself when he wakes up and realizes what happened." At Radekís incredulous look, Rodney scowled. "Not that, you little pervert!"

"Well, you did say that it turned him gay," Radek replied defensively. "And if not that, what?"

"I kissed him," Rodney sighed. "Or he kissed me; I canít remember who did what first."

"You kissed me. But I pretty much asked you to." John appeared in the doorway, coffee in hand.

"Ahh, thanks, I was a little fuzzy about that." Rodney glanced over at Radek. "I had a few glasses as well, and Detective, this is the person you can thank for your sexual orientation exploration last night; John Sheppard, Radek Zelenka."

"Hi. And thanks for the drinks. They were... strong." John grinned before looking back at Rodney. "But Iím afraid youíll have to take full credit for my spirit of adventure last night, Doc."

"And how do you feel about it this morning?" Rodney asked, looking over at him.

"Well, I feel like someone mistook my head for part of Mount Rushmore and started chiseling."

"Clearly one of my better batches," Radek said smugly.

John rolled his eyes and carried on without commenting on Radekís interjection. "Also, confused as all hell, but I still think youíve got a great ass, and that was still an amazing kiss. All of them."

Rodney glanced at Radek and smirked. "He likes my ass."

"Maybe heís still drunk and just thinks you are an ass."

John snickered into his coffee.

"You asked why I came back here," Rodney sighed.

"I see now that it was for the joy of being with your family," John chuckled.

Radek snickered and saluted him with his coffee cup.

"I think Iím going back inside and leaving the two of you out here."

"Got any embarrassing stories from his childhood to share?" John asked Radek.

"Tell and die," Rodney growled before glaring at John. "And why do you care?"

"Because youíre more than your ass."

"No," Radek said, "he is an ass."

"Leave now, Radek," Rodney sighed, "Or Iíll tell your mother youíve been mean to me again."

"Then sheíll make me a pie," Radek retorted.

Rodney groaned and looked over at John. "Detective, may I borrow your gun?"

"Sorry, Doc, the law frowns on that sort of thing." John grinned as he dropped onto the swing across from Rodney and propped his bare feet on the musicianís lap.

"And I am not an ottoman!"

"And here I thought youíd give me a foot massage."

Ignoring Radek, who was laughing so hard that he was turning red, Rodney growled. "I am not a geisha either!"

"Sheesh, no foot massages? Youíre losing your attraction, Doc."

"Drink some; Iím sure itíll come back."

"Nope, you hurt my feelings."

"Radek, did you realize the intrepid detective is a drama queen?"

"I wonder if I could sell tickets to the other cousins?" Radek mused.

"They donít have any money, so you wouldnít make anything."

"It might be worth it just for the laughs."

Johnís eyes narrowed as he glared at Radek. "If he asks for my gun again, Iím giving it to him."

Rodney smiled innocently. "Can I have your gun?"

"Well, I canít go back on my word..."

Radek jumped to his feet and started down the stairs. "You come by for dinner tonight. Iíll make my specialty."

"Hadnít you better check first to see if the detective has plans?" Rodney asked snidely.

"Iíll be delighted to meet more of your family. Baby pictures and stories will be appreciated." John smirked at Rodney as he spoke.

Rodney sighed. "I believe I liked you better when you didnít like me."

"Trust me, no, you wouldnít like that at all," John replied, momentarily serious.

"Saying you would take me to jail with no evidence?" Rodney asked curiously.

"Of course not." John was honestly appalled by the thought and surprised Rodney would think it. "I just meant that if I disliked you, it would be for a reason, and I wouldnít rest until I brought you down."

"Have you ever disliked someone who turned out to be innocent?"

John shrugged. "First off, I donít normally get to know suspects personally, and secondly, no, Iím usually pretty good at judging people."

"And you agree to eat at Radekís?" Rodney sounded incredulous but was grinning.

John chuckled. "Iíll only eat things Iíve seen him sample first."

"Smart idea and I wish you luck there."

"Iím planning to hide behind you whenever necessary."

"And what do I get out of it?"

Johnís eyes rose sharply to meet Rodneyís. "Iím not quite sure yet, but youíll be the second to know."

Rodney chuckled and sipped at his now lukewarm coffee. "Iíll get a few more bottles from Radek when we have dinner."

John chuckled as well. "I can pretty much guarantee thatís not going to change the outcome, one way or another. Right now Iím just very confused by all of this. I never expected you, Doc."

"Do you think I expected the straightest man in the South to suddenly be panting over my admittedly hot body?" Rodney asked, arching his eyebrows as he looked over at John. "Iím not sure what to make of you either."

"Hey, Iím not the straightest main in the South!" John protested. "I never denied a little curiosity, and Iím certainly not phobic."

"Curiosity? Do tell, Detectiveóor perhaps we should save it for later; isnít that your partner pulling up the drive?"

John looked up and sighed at the sight of Ford pulling in behind his car. "Duty calls. Which means I need to find my shoes. Try not to get too offended by anything he says; he just thinks youíre a serial something." John headed inside to find the rest of his things.

"Serial something?" Rodney asked of the now empty door, then sighed and watched the younger detective climb out of his sedan and walked toward the house.

"Dr. McKay." Ford nodded sparely, his eyes on the door his partner had just gone through. "Shep? Everything okay in there?"

Inside, John rolled his eyes as he stuffed his feet into his shoes. "Fine, Aiden. Iíll be right out."

"I promise, heís fine," Rodney sighed.

"Yup, here I am. Iíll change at the office. I keep a spare shirt and suit jacket there. Doc, Iíll meet you here at six, if thatís okay?"

"Fine, fine, have a lovely time at work today, dear."

Ignoring the expression on Fordís face, John laughed. "Funny, Doc. Heel, Aiden." He stepped off the porch and headed for his car.

Rodney put his feet up on the porch railing and watched the two officers drive off, holding back his smile until the taillights were out of sight.

John headed into the back once he arrived at the station, nodding a greeting to civilian volunteer manning the desk. He was down to his boxers and reaching into his locker for a clean shirt and suit when Aiden arrived.

"I seem to remember something regarding not fraternizing with suspects in that detective class I took," Aiden mused as he leaned against the lockers.

John shrugged, buttoning his shirt. "I donít think he is a suspect, and Iím not discussing details of the case with him."

"So just what are you doing with him?"

"Having dinner," John replied, not about to share the details of his sexual identity crisis with Ford.

"Uh huh." Aiden didnít look quite convinced. "So, do you want to know what I found out about the Wraithe boys?"

"No, I suggested you check them out just for fun."

Ford chuckled and pulled a notebook out of his shirt pocket. "Bob and Steve Wraithe, parents are Gordon and Mary Wraithe; born respectively in 1970 and 1972, no records until the mid 90s when they both had several misdemeanors for disturbing the peace."

John stared absently as he knotted his tie. "Nothing else? I thought that they might have done other stuff, but it might not have ever been reported, I suppose. The people out there tend to like to handle things themselves."

"No school records, no current address, but thatís the case with a lot of the shacks out there. So, McKay turned you on to them?"

"Actually, they turned me on to them; McKay just gave me their names. But it fits. They could easily see people visiting his place. Letís see what else we can find out. Iíd like to bring them in for questioning, but we need more."

"We could do some more checking; maybe Teyla and Ronon could go and check them out."

John nodded. "Good idea. I want to figure this out before another kid goes missing. And hopefully find the first ones alive."

"You really think they might be alive after a month?"

"I hope so. Aside from when I think about what might have been done to them during that month." John sighed heavily. "But itís still better than death."

Aiden nodded. "Good point. So, you want to tell Teyla they get to track down the creeps?"

"Hell no. Seniority has its perks. You tell them!" John smirked.

"Oh, thanks a lot, partner."

"It was my pleasure. Iíll go get some coffee while youíre handling that. Iím not ready to deal with the sludge here yet this morning."

"Youíd better get me some considering youíre sending me into hazardous duty."

"Youíll survive," John replied callously. "But I suppose I could bring you back a coffee to help you along. Now go brave the fearsome detectives while I go undercover as a waiter."

"Which reminds me, just what were you undercover as last night?" Ford grinned at Johnís expression and ducked out of the back room to brave Teyla and Ronon.

"I really didnít need a new partner," John sighed as he stood up.

Fifteen minutes later the four detectives were poring over the files again, coffee in hand as they tried to find something, anything they might have missed.

"I still think these Wraithes may be the key to the whole thing. All along weíve been assuming that no one else lived there, but the brothers are close to the McKay place. They certainly have opportunity, but weíre lacking in motive." John frowned at the pictures of Bob and Steve Wraithe, thinking that those were definitely faces only a mother could love... and he questioned even that.

"Looking at their parents, they have the background for strange behavior," Ronon allowed, nudging the thick file on Gordon Wraithe with his finger.

"I havenít had a chance to read their file yet. How so?"

"Gordon Wraithe started his own church back in the late 1970s," Ronon recited, opening the file to check the dates. "He and his wife, Mary, had a decent following, but then the allegations of brain-washing and fraudulent funding arose. He was basically running a cult. The state took the boys away when they were ten and twelve respectively, but it seems they had already been programmed into their parentsí way of thinking."

"Christ. So they might be trying to start their own cult or might even think theyíre doing the kids a favor by showing them the right path." John closed his eyes. "And fanatics are never predictable. If weíre right, this is bad. Very, very bad."

"At least in that case the boys are probably still alive and unmolested," Teyla pointed out.

"We hope," Ford pointed out gloomily. "Thereís no saying what these guys might have done, if they are the right ones, that is."

"We need a warrant to search their place," John said.

"Weíll need a lot more than this to get one," Teyla murmured, her eyes on the photos.

"So letís go find it. If the boys were snatched near McKayís place and taken to the Wraithesí, there has to be some evidence of it. Itís up to us to find it, which means weíre going back to McKayís."

"You think maybe he knows more about the Wraithes?"

"He might. But I think we need to start from his place and move toward where the Wraithes might have intercepted the kids if weíre going to find anything."

"So what are we waiting for?" Ronon asked. "Letís go."

"Itíll be a miracle if we find anything out here," John sighed an hour later, wiping the sweat off his forehead with the back of a grimy wrist. "Iím not sure Iíll be able to find my way out if we go much farther from the path."

Ford chuckled at that, glad to have something to laugh about, in light of the situation. "That doesnít say much, considering your sense of direction."

"Thereís nothing wrong with my sense of direction!"

Ronon snorted. "Sheppard, youíd get lost in the grocery store if they didnít have those signs over the aisles."

John glared. "Oh, arenít you funny? Not! I do not get lost."

The other three detectives glanced at each other and snickered.

"Iíll bet no one would ever find three bodies out here, John growled.

"Which is why weíre here," Teyla reminded them all.

"Maybe if we move a little closer to the Wraithesí place," John suggested. "No trespassing without a warrant, of course."

"Not trespassing if they donít officially own the land, is it?" Ronon commented from up ahead.

"Good point," John agreed. "Which means that since this is public land, or possibly still McKayís, Iím not sure, anything we find is admissible."

"Now we just have to find something," Ford sighed.

"There is that." John looked around and sighed. "Not to mention that weíre losing the light. Call it a night, folks, and weíll meet out here first thing in the morning to give it another shot."

The others nodded, and Ford glanced toward the swamp, shaking his head. "I hope we find something more tomorrow. Should we bring the dogs in?"

"Yeah, at this point we need all the help we can get, and we need to find those kids fast. The longer theyíre missing..." He trailed off, not wanting to verbalize what they all knew all too well.

"You want to go get a drink?" Ronon offered.

"Thanks, but Iíll see you in the morning. I have plans tonight."

"Iíll call Ted Halling and let him know we need him," Teyla said as they started back.

"And Iíll catch a ride with the two of you," Ford added.

That made the other two stop and look curiously from Ford to Sheppard, who sighed. "Iím just heading over to McKayís. Iím having dinner with a few of his cousins."

Teylaís eyebrows rose. "Is this wise?"

John shrugged. "Maybe not, but itís what Iím doing. Iíll see you in the morning." He started walking away toward Rodneyís house.

"Uh, Shep? The McKay place is that way." Ronon pointed in the opposite direction.

Hearing someone on the porch, Rodney looked out the screen door before crossing his arms over his chest. "You look like shit," he commented wryly.

"Nice to see you too." John cocked his head slightly as he eyed Rodney. "Mind if I use your shower? I should clean up before we go over to your cousinís." He brandished the gym bag that held a change of clothes and waited.

"Feel free; I even promise not to peek in on you." Rodney chuckled as he stepped back away from the door so that the detective could enter.

"Well, darn, whereís the fun in that?" Once inside, John hesitated, then kissed Rodney quickly. "Okay, yeah, still good without the alcohol."

"You call that peck good?" Rodney challenged. "If so, I pity you, Detective."

"I meant that I still wasnít freaking out about wanting to do it. As for the rest..." John dropped his bag to the floor, hooked his thumbs into the belt loops of Rodneyís jeans, and reeled him in. Once he had Rodney close enough, he started nibbling on Rodneyís lower lip.

"Mmmm, much better." Rodney murmured, sliding his hands to Johnís hips, pulling them flush together and flicking his tongue over Johnís. John groaned deeply, his hips moving convulsively. Then he froze when he realized that he was feeling Rodneyís hardening cock against his own, but when Rodney started to draw back, John grumbled a protest and pulled him closer again, opening his mouth to Rodney.

Rodney groaned and dragged one hand up to Johnís neck, holding him into the kiss while exploring Johnís mouth and cataloguing his flavor. John slid his hands over Rodneyís ass, kneading the firm mounds while pulling him closer, obviously perfectly happy with what they were doing.

"Just so you know, Radek gets temperamental when people are late," Rodney murmured, pulling back to study Johnís expression.

"So I guess youíre not going to wash my back, huh?"

"Much as Iíd like to, no."

"Maybe next time. But I guess Iíd better clean up and change if weíre not going to be late." John reluctantly stepped back, still looking at Rodney, and stumbled over his bag.

Rodney reached out to steady him, rubbing his thumb over Johnís arm as he did so. "Bathroomís the next room over from where you slept last night."

"Thanks. I wonít be long." John wondered vaguely how a simple touch on his arm could feel so good, but he knew this wasnít the time to get into it, not with Rodneyís family expecting them. He picked the bag up and headed for the bathroom, trying not to think about getting naked in Rodneyís shower.

"Watch the water, it takes a while to warm up," Rodney called.

"Thanks for the warning!" John yelled back, letting it run as he stripped down, and then testing the water. He fiddled with it for a moment till he got a comfortable temperature and then stepped in.

"Then again," he mused, eyeing his erection wryly, "maybe I would have been better off with the cold water." He shook his head. "You sure you donít want to give me a hand?" he called, chuckling.

"What I want to do and what I should do are two different things," Rodney chuckled, though he stayed outside in the hall.

"Weíll have to explore that difference in detail when we have some time." John took a quick shower and stepped out, wrapping the towel around his waist before pushing the door further open. He met Rodneyís eyes and smiled slowly.

Rodney shook his head and laughed quietly. "For a straight guy, youíre damn quick in wanting to try the other side."

John shrugged. "Iíve never been one to lie to myself. Thereís something between us, and I like it. I may never be interested in another guy, but Iím having fun with this. I like you, Doc, and Iím pretty sure I want you, and youíve given every indication of wanting me, so why waste time denying it?"

Rodney chuckled again and eyed the long expanse of damp skin visible above and below Johnís towel. "Good point, Iíll just leave it to you to tell Jeannie you like me more than her." He grinned at the last.

John gulped and gave him a look of sheer horror. "Not unless I have my vest and weapon! And preferably a Rottweiler or two to hide behind!"

"She is going to be there tonight; might make necking at the supper table difficult."

"Oh shit." John raked a hand through his hair. "How pissed is she going to be?" he asked, making it obvious that he hadnít even considered the possibility of pretending not to be with Rodney.

"That depends on whether Radek invited Ted or not." At Johnís confused look, Rodney continued. "Jeannieís ex."

"Is it too late to call him?" John asked almost plaintively.

"Go get dressed, John," Rodney laughed. "Iíll protect you from Jeannie."

"Iím going to hold you to that!" John retorted before padding over to Ďhisí room to change into the clean clothes from the bag heíd put there on his way to the shower. He reappeared shortly afterward, now dressed in faded jeans, a soft white cotton button-down shirt, and sneakers that looked about as old as he did.

"Ready whenever you are," he announced.

"Mmmm, very nice, you look better than Radekís foodís going to," Rodney said admiringly.

"Youíre making me wish Iíd had a big lunch," John muttered.

"So how was your day anyway? Find any new leads?"

John groaned. "We spent the afternoon combing the area between here and the Wraithesí shack. Weíll start again at first light tomorrow. There has to be some trace of those kids somewhere." John was aware that he was skirting perilously close to revealing key details of an ongoing investigation, but it was nothing that Rodney couldnít have found out for himself by stepping off his front porch.

"You really think the Wraithes have them?" Rodney asked as they started walking toward the door.

"It seems likely. Unless youíre planning to tell me that you actually have a hidden basement where you have them locked up."

Rodneyís only response was to raise his eyebrows and point at the door to the cellar.

John chuckled. "Weíre going to be late if we donít get going."

"You mind driving?"

"Not as long as you tell me where weíre going." John walked comfortably at Rodneyís side toward his car, enjoying their ease with each other, even if it did baffle him if he stopped to think about it.

"Back toward town; his place is off Peterborough Road." Rodney smiled and climbed into the passengerís seat, looking around. "First time Iíve been in a police car."

"So you were the kid who never got in trouble, huh?" John quirked a grin.

"Please!" Rodney laughed. "I got in plenty of trouble all right, just never with the law."

"Smart. My father got a little annoyed with the MPs bringing me home so often for a while there. But obviously it all worked out in the end."

"Especially considering you became one of them in a sense."

"Yeah, even if it was mostly to piss my father off at first." John smiled crookedly. "We werenít exactly Leave It to Beaver."

Rodney nodded at that, grinning slightly. "You seem more the Eddie Haskel type."

John snickered. "Who me? And who did you want to be? Mozart?"

"Elton John."

John considered that. "Oddly enough, it works for you. So Iím going to hold out hope of being serenaded eventually."

Rodney turned half-sideways in his seat and studied John before chuckling. "You never know, Detective; anythingís possible."

"I think I figured that out last night," John replied dryly.

The chuckles turned into full-fledged laughter at that. "Iíll have to agree with you in that, and if you manage to get me playing again, youíll have created more of a miracle than I did in getting you to walk on the wild side."

John smiled very slowly. "Maybe itís me walking on the wild side thatíll get you to play again."

"Angling to get a CD dedicated to you, are you?"

"Donít you think Iím worth it?" John batted his eyelashes at Rodney before returning his attention to the road. "Is this where I turn?"

"Yes, this is where you turn," Rodney sighed, shaking his head, "and Iíll tell you what, if you get me writing and playing again, Iíll dedicate the next five CDs to you."

"Damn, I struck gold yesterday. My own personal musician and what looks like itís going to be a pretty active sex life." John smirked. "Now I just have to decide what theme I want for the first one..." He trailed off with a grin.

"My god, the man kissed a man for the first time yesterday, and heís already turned into a raving maniac," Rodney sighed.

"And the manís probably not going to be ready for much more than kissing for a while," John warned, momentarily serious. Then he looked Rodney up and down. "Although I could be wrong about that, I suppose. With the right inspiration."

Rodney gave a small smile. "How about you solve your case and clear my name, and weíll talk about inspiration."

"Sounds like a plan. Although we wouldnít want me to backslide, so Iíll need some attention in the meantime."

"Iím sure between Radek, Jeannie, and Jinto, youíll have all the attention you could ever need."

"I donít think thatís quite the sort of attention I had in mind." John shook his head, chuckling. "Youíre damn good at deflecting, Doc."

"Itís another of my many skills."

"Are you saying that you want to pretend that weíre not doing whatever the hell it is that weíre doing?"

Rodney shook his head and smiled. "What you just said is why Iím safer pretending."

John frowned. "I may not know what Iím doing, but I do know that I donít hide my relationships, even when they do confuse me. Closets arenít my thing."

"Detective, I donít think you know what your thing is."

"Well, I canít really deny that at the moment," John admitted, "but Iíve never been ashamed of who Iíve been with or tried to hide it in my life, and Iíd really rather not start now. Iíd say thatís one way to fail before we ever get started."

Rodney twisted in the seat to watch John closely. "Iím not complaining about your sudden adventurous spirit, and if youíre willing to bear Jeannieís glares, who am I to deny you that excitement."

John shrugged. "She can either glare at me for not being interested or for being interested in her brother. Either way, sheís not going to be pleased, so I might as well enjoy what I can."

"Well, if Tedís there, sheíll be too busy glaring at himóturn left hereóto do anything else."

"Well, that takes the pressure off me, but wonít Jinto be there too? Itís no fun for a kid to watch his folks fighting, even if they have already split up."

"Heís used to it; they fight and get back together and fight and get back together." Rodney paused and chuckled. "Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like my formative years with my parents."

John eyed him. "So perhaps it would be best not to repeat the process with another impressionable child." He smirked at Rodney.

"Itís the third house on the right, and are you saying thereís something wrong with me?"

"Iím saying that youíre less than well adjusted and sociable. I happen to like it on you, but letís face, itíll be easier on Jinto if he actually has friends." John pulled up behind several other cars, the driveway already full, and looked over at Rodney challengingly.

"Thank you so much for your wonderful assessment of my apparently empty life," Rodney snapped, climbing out of the car and starting up the walkway.

"Hey, thatís not what I said." John chased after him, catching hold of an arm to stop him. "You do what you want with your life and you like it that way. But itís hard for a kid not to fit in. And how the hell did we get onto this?" He shook his head in befuddlement. "I like you; I like Jinto. I donít want to change anyone. I just want to be able to flirt with you without you acting like Iím invisible."

Rodney sighed and turned to look back at him. "Detective, no one can act like youíre invisible when youíre flirting with them."

John immediately smiled widely and pulled Rodney into a quick, hard kiss. "You sure know how to compliment a guy."

"Rodney! Stop acting like a teenager and bring your guest in!" a voice called from the porch.

Rodney groaned. "Weíre coming, Aunt Jennifer."

"God, that sounded just like my grandmother!"

"Just wait," Rodney said gloomily, "itíll get worse."

John was eyeing the house as if it might attack at any moment. "Just how many people are likely to be here?"

Rodney glanced at the cars, obviously doing a mental tally, and shrugged. "Twelve or so, it depends on if Laura and Carson brought their rugrat or not."

Johnís eyes widened with pure horror in their depths. "Twelve?" he repeated faintly. "I hope Radek has a lot of that swill of his."

"If you get drunk, youíre liable to get horny again and jump me at the table," Rodney chuckled before wincing when Radekís mother called them again. "And weíd better get in there before she sends Uncle Tomas after us."

"Stories and baby pictures," John muttered not quite under his breath before squaring his shoulders and marching toward the porch like a man on the way to his own execution.

"Radek, youíre a dead man," Rodney growled under his breath, glaring at his cousin as other members of his family happily filled John in on details of his young life.

Radek just smirked at him, the blue eyes sparkling wickedly as he began telling John about the fiasco of Rodneyís first date with Sam Carter, back when he still thought he might like girls too.

"Dead, dead, dead. You know, piano wire makes a wonderful garrote."

"But then Iíd have to arrest you," John pointed out, "and that would make a mess of this date too." Silence seemed to spread out around them like ripples from a stone tossed into a pond.

"Why is it the cute ones are always gay?" Jeannie finally huffed.

John laughed, but even he could hear the edge in it. "Sometimes theyíre not quite sure what they are," he admitted.

"Thatís all right, lad," Carson Beckett, husband to another of Rodneyís cousins, smiled, "there are times when we arenít sure Rodney is human as well."

Surprised into laughter, John relaxed again. "It keeps things interesting. And to think that all I wanted was an autograph."

Rodney sighed and looked at his glass of wine. "This is why I stay away from my family."

"Youíre lucky to have them. And theyíre fun. If somewhat overwhelming."

"And in need of psychiatric drugs."

"Oh, you love us and you know it, Rodney," Laura Beckett laughed.

"You have to; you keep coming back." Radek refilled Rodneyís glass, ignoring his motherís glare, and he watched Sheppard curiously, intrigued by the odd relationship developing between his cousin and the detective.

"Thatís because no one else will have him," Jeannie laughed. Under cover of the laughter, John graced Rodney with a long look.

"Donít be too sure," he murmured, but no one aside from Rodney heard him. Rodney glanced over at him, and the slight tension lines that had formed around his eyes relaxed. For a long moment, they sat looking at each other, everyone else seeming to fade into the background until by mutual consent they looked away, refocusing on Rodneyís very lively family.

"So will we be seeing more of you, John?" Jennifer Zelenka asked, watching her nephew and this man curiously.

John stilled, looking back at Rodney, seeming to ask a question and finally shrugging when no answer was forthcoming. "I hope so."

"That depends on how much of Radekís hooch is left," Rodney joked, causing another round of laughter.

John stuck his tongue out. "Yeah, thatís right, Iím only interested in you for your alcohol. Hell, maybe I should dump you and go right to the source."

"No!" Radek yelped, backing away hurriedly while John burst into renewed laughter.

"Radek lusts after my business manager," Rodney whispered loudly, grinning at his cousinís glare.

"Iím hurt. Iím losing my appeal," John said plaintively.

"Ye should flirt a little more blatantly," Carson offered.

"Or you could kiss Uncle Rodney," Jinto suggested, grinning.

"Do you think that would help?" John asked, ignoring Rodneyís sputtering beside him. When Jinto nodded, he shrugged. "Okay, if you say so." And he leaned over and kissed Rodney.

After the applause died down, Rodney sighed. "I didnít come here with the intention of putting on a show."

"But you do it so well," Laura chuckled. "And Johnís a lot prettier than the last guy you were seeing. Much easier on the eyes."

"Considering you set me up with the last guy I saw, it doesnít say much for you, does it?" Rodney shot back.

She shrugged. "He wasnít put off when he heard you talk. At first. That made him a contender."

John frowned. "Rodney doesnít need to settle."

"You have talked to him, havenít you?" Jeannie asked.

"He interrogated me for hours," Rodney said dryly, making Jeannie clap her hands over Jintoís ears, holding on when he tried to squirm away.

"Moooooom! We already had the sex ed stuff in health!"

"And weíve had talks about it, but that doesnít mean you have to listen to this," Ted Halling commented from across the room.

"I donít believe weíve said anything my eighty-year-old Quaker spinster Great Aunt Harriet would object to," John said with some acerbity.

"Well, there was the shower," Rodney commented, making Jeannie clap her hands over Jintoís ears again.

John sighed, watching her. "Which was alone!"

"It was. Jeannie, stop pulling the boyís ears off," Rodney muttered.

"Maybe I should go," John offered, suddenly feeling uncomfortable in the family gathering.

"You leave me here and Iím not helping you with your investigation any longer," Rodney hissed while the rest of his family tried to convince John to stay.

John gave him a wry look before turning back to Radek. "Look, Iím not insulting your hospitality, but it was never my intention to make anyone uncomfortable. Which I clearly am," he added with a glance at Jeannie and her ex, who were both hovering protectively over their son.

"Trust me, they do that around Carson and I if we get too lovey-dovey," Laura commented, blatantly eavesdropping on the quieter conversation.

"Oh. Okay then. So theyíre just neurotic." John shook his head, grinning again. "Iím really glad Iím not a parent."

"As am I because that would make you sitting here a moot point," Rodney chuckled, keeping an eye on his sister and her ex-husband as they were now arguing quietly.

"Well, not necessarily, but yeah," John said somewhat incoherently, his own eyes on Rodney. "And I kinda like sitting here."

"Even with my insane family around?" Rodney grinned at the glares he got for that remark. "Iím beginning to think that Radekís drinks had the permanent effect of warping your brain."

John chuckled. "I always wanted a big family," he said, a hint of wistfulness coloring his voice.

"Take mine, please," Rodney offered, shaking his head when the sound of crying from the other room sent Carson and Laura running. "Itís getting larger by the minute."

"No babies, thanks." John shook his head. "They always spit up on me."

"Better than what they do to me." Rodney shuddered at the memory.

John chuckled. "Good thing youíre not likely to have kids then."

Rodney shuddered again. "Thatís a horrid thought, Detective; I think Iím going to charge you with police brutality."

"Not exactly in love with kids, huh?" John asked, joining in the general laughter at Rodneyís reaction.

"Uncle Rodney says I give him hives," Jinto offered helpfully.

"And your mother hit me for it," Rodney complained, rubbing his shoulder. "I believe it caused permanent nerve damage!"

"Poor baby. Want me to kiss it better?" John offered, snickering.

Rodney turned to look at John fully, his eyebrows raised as he smiled.

"Mom doesnít hit that hard," Jinto laughed.

"I donít think either of them cares," Radek muttered, watching the two. He hoped his cousin knew what he was getting himself into. Sheppard might be talking a good game at the moment, but a straight cop was not the best bet for a gay musician to fall for.

John leaned toward Rodney, hazel eyes sparkling with mischief.

"Youíre making me wish sheíd hit me somewhere else," Rodney murmured.

"I wouldnít be offering to kiss anything else at the dinner table."

"Thank God!" Jeannie interjected.

"Aye, and itís a good thing weíve already eaten or I might have lost my appetite," Carson chuckled as he came back into the room carrying his and Lauraís six-month-old daughter in the crook of his arm.

John eyed the baby warily. He liked kids, but he preferred them once theyíd hit the walking and talking stage. "Cute kid," he said, hoping that would be all that was required of him.

"Isnít she?" Carson beamed, smiling down at her before offering her to John. "Moira takes after her mother; sheís a beauty."

"If she was lucky, she wouldnít have taken after either of you," Rodney muttered.

John reluctantly accepted the baby, but his heart melted when she smiled up at him, one small hand grasping his finger. "Oh, she is adorable."

"And a little young for you."

"Rodney..." Carson said warningly.

John rolled his eyes. "I usually wait till after puberty to hit on them, Rodney."

"I was just checking!" Rodney protested.

"That kind of checking will get you hurt," Uncle Tomas laughed from the rocker across the room.

"Listen to your elders," John advised, rocking Moira gently.

"I need another drink," Rodney muttered.

Radek offered him a new bottle. "I think youíre going to need it."

The baby started to cry, and with a horrified expression, John hastily handed her back to her father. "And thatís why Iím much better off not having kids," he mumbled, helping himself to Rodneyís drink.

"That was mine!" Rodney protested, his eyes widening. "I assure you I need it much more than you do, and besides, youíre driving!"

"And itís yours again," John replied, handing it back. "Trust me, one mouthful is not going to impair my senses, especially not with all the food to dilute it. I may not eat again for a week! It was wonderful, maíam," he added to Radekís mother.

"Thank you," she smiled. "I enjoy cooking for the family, even those who donít appreciate it." She glanced at Rodney at the last.

"Aunt Jennifer, you made me lemon cupcakes for my tenth birthday."

"Rodney, that was twenty-seven years ago, and I made sure to get rid of them once your mother bothered to tell anyone about your allergy. Get over it!"

"See," Rodney pouted. "I almost die and Iím supposed to get over it!"

"You never even got within ten feet of the damn things," Radek snorted. "You screamed and ran out of the house."

"I think it might be time to put it behind you," John agreed, trying not laugh. "I promise to protect you from any future lemon cupcakes."

"Like youíre protecting me from my family?"

"Rodney, you can hold your own and you know it," Laura laughed.

"I didnít let Carson hand you a baby, did I?"

"Hrmmm, good point."

"Not that weíd give her to ye after the time ye almost dropped her," Carson added.

John eyed Rodney, wondering if it had been on purpose to ensure exactly that result.

"What?" Rodney asked, noticing the intent gaze.

John just shook his head. "Nothing." He looked around curiously. "So do you do this often?"

"Have heart-warming family gatherings?" Rodney asked. "As little as possible."

"Several times a month," Laura cut in. "Actually, youíre lucky, John; this is a small one."

He choked on his coffee. "Next time, if there is a next time, youíre driving!"

"I canít drive, and Iíd rather there wasnít a next time if you must know the truth."

John turned to look at him. "Well, you sure as hell donít beat around the bush. I guess a confused straight guy isnít quite what you were looking for." He stood up from the table, not looking at anyone.

"What?" Rodney asked, aghast.

"Nice move, Rodney," Jeannie smirked.

"Detective... John, I didnít mean it that way," Rodney said, hurrying after the other man.

John hesitated, looking back over his shoulder at Rodney. "It sounded that way to me, Doc. If thatís not what you meant, what did you mean to say?"

"I was trying to say that Iíd really rather have our next dateóif that is what you would call thisósomewhere other than with my family, especially a larger group of them!"

"Oh. Well, I feel like an idiot now." John raked a hand through already messy hair. "Sorry, I donít usually act like a teenage girl with her first crush. I guess Iím just a little nervous about all this." He turned back around to face Rodney, a sheepish smile curving his lips.

"I canít imagine why," Rodney said dryly before smiling as well. "Donít worry, Detective; Iím not planning on jumping you when we get back to my place."

"I almost wish you would," John sighed. "Iím fine when weíre just doing stuff; itís when I start to think about it and what it means about where weíre heading that I get nervous."

"I could go back and get that fresh bottle Radek gave me..."

John burst into laughter. "Tempting as that sounds, we should probably take this slow." He cocked his head slightly. "You could kiss me though."

Rodney nodded. "I could do that," he murmured, catching the front of Johnís shirt and pulling him in to tease his mouth open for a slow, deep kiss.

When it finally ended, John closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against Rodneyís. "Okay, yeah, getting less confused by the minute here."

"So then why are we still here?"

"Because it would be rude to leave without saying goodbye to our host?"

Rodney shrugged. "Iím rude; theyíre used to it."

After only a momentary hesitation, John opened the door. "After you, then."

"Goodnight!" Rodney called back over his shoulder, ignoring the laughter that greeted his shout. "There, I was semi-polite, happy now?"

"Ecstatic." John followed him out and to the car, sliding behind the wheel. "Your familyís nice but kind of overwhelming."

"And kind of insane; itís no wonder I have mental stability problems," Rodney snorted as he belted himself in.

"I think that has more to do with not letting anyone in. Anyone would get a little unbalanced if they were as alone as youíve been."

Rodney looked hurt at that. "I have many friends, Detective; they simply arenít here."

"I didnít mean that you were hated by all, Rodney, just that you donít like to let anyone get too close. But thatís a lonely way to live, even if it does keep you from getting hurt."

"Ahh, now the cop is now also a psychologist. So why am I so worried about getting hurt, pray tell?"

John shrugged. "Not being a mind reader on top of everything else, I have no idea. But my guess would be that someone did hurt you a long time ago, and now you try to prevent it happening again." He looked at the intersection they were approaching. "I go left here, right?"

"Left is correct," Rodney murmured, looking out the window at the dark houses.

"And they say I have no sense of direction," John muttered.

"Who does?"

"Ford, Teyla and Ronon. Shows what they know."

"They say you have no sense of direction?" Rodney gave a slight smile at that.

"Yes! If I say go right, they go left." John was definitely pouting.

"And are you usually right or wrong?"

The pout grew more pronounced.

"I think that answers my question."

"I do not get lost in a revolving door!" John grumbled with the air of someone whoís made the same statement many times before.

Rodney gave in and chuckled. "Maybe not, but you just missed the next turn."

Johnís head whipped around as he stared out the window and started swearing. "You distracted me!"

"I hope you donít want me to apologize for sitting here."

"No, but you can take full responsibility for the fact that Iím thinking more about what weíre going to do once we get to your house than how to get there."

Rodney chuckled again. "Detective, Iím betting you really have no idea what weíre going to do once we get there."

John gave him a toothy grin. "Well, considering my comfort level at present, Iíd say weíre probably going to jerk each other off."

"Thatís good for a startóand you missed the turn again."

"Shit!" Growling, John did another U-turn. "Try to tell me about the turn before we get to it this time, okay, Doc?"

"Turn now, Detective," Rodney grinned. "Right."

"Turning now." John shook his head. "This place is a maze."

"Well, itís all straight from hereóso to speak."

"Somehow that seems singularly inappropriate," John chuckled.

"Would you rather I say you wonít be thrown any curves?"

John laughed. "That was really bad. I think youíre hard up."

"Not at the time, but then, thinking of my ex does that to me."

"Um, why are you thinking about your ex?"

"I meant earlier, when you were delving into my psyche."

"Ah. Sorry. Occupational hazard. Not to mention that itís you."

"And the fact that itís me makes it different because...?"

"You interest me. I want to know what makes you tick."

"Music and men." Rodney smirked when John glanced over at him.

John started whistling.

Rodney winced. "Anyone ever tell you that youíre tone-deaf?"

John started pouting again.

"But the male side balances out the lack on the musical side, and I have enough talent for the both of us."

"Good recovery, Doc." John pulled up outside Rodneyís house, unfastened his seatbelt, and turned to kiss Rodney hard.

Rodney pulled back and smiled slowly. "Very nice, Detective, youíve managed to drive all thoughts of whatís-his-name out of my mind."

"Yay me." John grinned smugly before getting out of the car and heading for the house, his gait somewhat awkward thanks to the erection he was sporting.

"Problem there?" Rodney asked, smirking as he caught up and passed John, bounding up the stairs to the porch so that he could unlock the front door.

"Asshole," John grumbled, but it lost much of its effectiveness since he was laughing.

"Well, you are looking at my ass," Rodney commented, looking back over his shoulder as he pushed the front door open, the screen door propped open by his back.

"Didnít we cover this last night?" John laughed. "We already know I like your ass." He followed close on Rodneyís heels, letting the door swing shut behind them.

"Which is why you were staring at it." Rodney turned and caught Johnís face in his hands, pulling him in for a kiss as he pressed the taller man back against the door. Humming his pleasure, John went willingly, his arms around Rodneyís waist as he pulled him closer.

"Damn, you feel good," Rodney whispered, trailing biting kisses down Johnís neck as he slid his hands down to Johnís ass, squeezing the firm globes as he pulled them closer together.

"You too," John whispered. Heíd been afraid that feeling Rodneyís erection pressing into him would weird him out, but it only made him hotter, knowing that he was the reason Rodney was hard. "God, I want you," he rasped.

"Upstairs," Rodney answered, keeping both hands on John as he took a step backwards.

John nearly said that the floor was fine by him, but a lingering brain cell or two that wasnít dazed with lust stepped in, and he half stumbled toward the stairs. "Bed?" he asked hopefully.

"Better for our backs," Rodney promised, letting go so they could climb the stairs.

"Also for curling up afterward and sleeping."

"Another good point." They reached the master bedroom, and Rodney pushed open the door, following that by pushing John across the room and onto the bed.

"Are you still going to respect me in the morning?" John chuckled, reaching for Rodney to pull him down as well.

"Youíd shoot me if I didnít," Rodney chuckled, kissing John again as he slid a hand under his shirt. Immediately losing all interest in talking, John arched under him, moaning into Rodneyís mouth as the clever fingers played over his chest and nipples.

Rodney smiled into the kiss and pushed Johnís shirt higher, rolling him onto his back and following but not moving on top of him. But John wanted more, and he pulled Rodney over him, sighing happily when he felt the solid weight pressing him into the mattress.

"Iím well aware youíre a guy, Doc. No need to try to hide it from me," he said dryly.

Rodney chuckled and arched his hips against Johnís. "Iím just trying to make sure that you arenít going to freak and run away."

John shook his head emphatically. "No actual fucking, Iím nowhere near ready to deal with that, but otherwise, Iím not going anywhere, Doc. This is fun." He rocked up just as Rodney pushed down, and they both groaned.

"Glad you think so, but I havenít come in my pants since I was a teenager, and Iím not starting it again now," Rodney panted, shifting enough to work a hand between them and grope Johnís crotch.

"Then shouldnít we be getting the clothes off instead of trying to make me come in my pants?" John writhed under him, his legs spreading so Rodney could settle between them.

"Iíd be glad to," Rodney breathed, pushing up to his knees, his hands moving to the waistband of Johnís jeans, popping the button and working the zipper down.

John watched those nimble fingers on him, his breath catching as his cock sprang free and Rodney touched him directly for the first time. "Oh Jesus fuck."

"No fucking tonight," Rodney murmured, stroking his hand over the smooth flesh of Johnís cock before tightening his fingers around it.

"But I think I just saw God," John managed to gasp out, grinning even as he whimpered and squirmed, his legs spreading more.

Rodney lifted his head and smirked, trailing his fingers down Johnís cock then grasping his jeans and boxers and pulling them down, leaving him bare from the waist down. Rodney groaned at the sight.

"You too," John demanded, thinking it was unfair for him to be naked while Rodney was still dressed. He wanted to play too!

"Yes, Detective, whatever you say," Rodney laughed, sitting up and pulling his shirt over his head, then going to work on his jeans.

"Good answer." John watched avidly. It was a little jarring to see a flat chest with a sprinkling of hair instead of the rounded curves he was used to, but he liked it. And when Rodney pushed his jeans off and John got a good look at his cock, his mouth watered.

Rodney shuddered and groaned when he saw the look in Johnís eyes. "Touch me," he whispered, dropping back down beside John and reaching for him again.

"Oh yeah." John stretched out a hand, first pressing his palm against the center of Rodneyís chest and slowly sliding downward, exploring the hard planes of his body. And then for the first time in his life, John touched another manís cock, his fist curling around the rigid shaft and sliding up and down. He leaned closer, intent on what he was doing, and he let go enough to trail his fingers along the length, exploring the velvety hardness.

Rodney sucked in a breath and held still apart from minute shudders as John explored his erection, then finally breathed out in a low groan as Johnís fingers slid down over his balls. Johnís eyes flicked up to meet Rodneyís at the sound, and he smiled crookedly.

"How come Iím the only one doing the touching here?"

"Because Iím trying to keep from eating you alive," Rodney laughed breathlessly before stroking his hand down Johnís body to circle and hold his cock again, tightening his grip and beginning to pump when he heard John groan.

"Oh God, yes, so good," John rasped, watching Rodney touch him while he continued to pet and fondle Rodney. "And whatís wrong with eating me alive?"

"Trying to remember the no freaking out thing here."

"Does it look like Iím freaking?" John demanded. "Iíll let you know if something bothers me, okay? Iím not going anywhere, Doc."

Rodney looked up again and slowly smiled before pushing back and climbing over him, beginning to mouth and lick his way down the lean, toned chest, pausing when he heard or felt an extreme reaction.

John groaned and combed his fingers through Rodneyís hair, loving this. A tiny part of his mind told him that he should stop this since he didnít think he could reciprocate in kind, at least not yet, but it was soon lost beneath the screaming pleasure that filled him. "Please," he panted.

In answer, Rodney bit at his navel before sliding lower and sucking Johnís erection into his mouth, circling his tongue around the head and groaning at the taste of precome as his hands roamed over the rest of Johnís body.

"Rodney!" John arched convulsively under him before forcing himself flat again, his whole body shaking with the need to move. A hand slipped under his ass, urging him on as Rodney rose up enough to take most of Johnís length into his mouth. "Oh my God," John whimpered, slowly pushing forward before pulling back, repeating the motion over and over and going a little deeper each time until he was fucking Rodneyís mouth and nearly sobbing with every breath he took.

Opening his eyes and tilting his head just enough so that he could watch Johnís face, Rodney took him deeper, swallowing when he felt the head of Johnís cock enter his throat.

Johnís eyes widened in shock at the sensation. Heíd never known anyone who could actually do that... and why the hell was he thinking about this now? He thrust forward, sinking a fraction deeper into Rodneyís throat, and yelled as he exploded, pleasure spreading through him like a sharp-edged starburst, shattering and reforming him with each pulse of his cock.

Rodney pulled back when John stopped spasming and licked at the now softening flesh beneath him, purring in pleasure when John squirmed. "Told you I was good," he chuckled, sliding up Johnís now pliant body to nuzzle his neck, not wanting to kiss him on the mouth at the moment because he knew heíd taste like come.

"Iím sorry I ever doubted you." John tilted Rodneyís face up to kiss him, tasting himself as he had in the past with his girlfriends and not minding it at all. He curled his fist around Rodneyís erection and started pumping him, wanting to give him at least some of the pleasure heíd felt.

"John..." Rodney moaned, arching into the tight grip, circling his hips against the pressure as he panted into Johnís mouth.

"Yeah, right here," John murmured, his eyes going from Rodneyís face to the sight of his own hand against the darkly flushed erection. He wasnít sure which was more arousing, but it didnít matter since he could look at both. "Thatís it, come on," he urged.

Rodney whimpered and grabbed for Johnís arm, gripping him tightly as he cried out and came, pulsing in the circle of Johnís fingers and palm.

John stroked him until the last spasm had passed, and then he leaned in to kiss him again. When he finally let Rodney breathe again, he smiled slowly. "That was the hottest thing Iíve ever seen."

"Mmmm, I like what you do for my ego," Rodney chuckled, shifting so that he was lying half on top of John. "And other parts of me as well."

"Likewise." John squirmed a little until he found a position that was comfortable for both of them, then relaxed again with a happy sigh. "And I guess you get to say I told you. Youíre definitely better at blowjobs than anyone Iíve ever met."

Rodney chuckled and stroked a hand over Johnís chest. "Part of itís knowing what it feels like, but the rest," he grinned, "pure talent."

"Iíd comment on the ego, but youíre definitely entitled."

"Good answer or Iíd be forced to remind you of the way you almost passed out." Rodney grinned and leaned in to kiss John. "And by the way, you werenít all that bad either."

John smiled crookedly. "Sorry I didnít... you know. Maybe next time," he said slowly, thinking about it.

"To be honest, Detective, Iím amazed you went as far as you did."

"I told you it wasnít just Radekís rotgut."

"Yes, well itís nice to have empirical proof to that fact."

"Well, you should be happy then. The evidence is drying on us."

"Yes, and itís somewhat itchy."

"A shower would be good," John agreed.

"Do you want to go first, or do you feel up to sharing?"

"I guess itís my civic duty to conserve water," John said seriously before breaking into a wide smile. "And showers are fun."

Rodney quirked a grin and nodded. "Yes, they are, with the right person anyway."

"I donít normally share showers with anyone I consider to be the wrong person." John stood up beside the bed and stretched hugely, aware of his nudity in front of the other man but refusing to let it bother him.

"Well, I would hope not!" Rodney didnít move from where he was, taking the moment to enjoy the sight of naked John Sheppard standing in front of him.

Growing more self-conscious as Rodney looked at him, John forced himself to remain beside the bed. "Are you just going to lie there all day, or are you actually planning to get up for that shower at some point?" Since he was standing there, John took advantage of the chance to look at Rodney, finding that he liked the sight of the other manís nudity, despite the obvious differences from what he was used to in a bed partner.

"I suppose so," Rodney grinned, slowly getting up and stretching his arms over his head.

"Good. I need my back washed." John smirked at him.

"And I need my front washed," Rodney shot back.

The dark head cocked slightly to one side as John eyed him slowly up and down. His tongue moistened his lips before John finally spoke. "I think I could help with that."

Rodney mirrored the gesture and grinned as he started toward the bathroom. "I was hoping youíd say that, Detective." He pushed open the door and walked inside the white-tiled room, reaching for the shower controls and turning the water on.

John followed him, his eyes once again on the ass that had started all of this. "I donít think you ever doubted it for a second, Doc."

"Well, you never know with you not so straight boys."

"Make a habit of this sort of thing, do you?" One dark brow winged upward.

"Hardly, I prefer my hands and my face unbroken, thank you."

"Good." John felt a warm sense of satisfaction that no matter what happened, at least Rodney would remember him for that. "I never did like being one of a crowd."

Rodney looked back at John as he held the glass shower door open. "I highly doubt youíre ever considered one of a crowd."

"True, I am pretty spectacular," John decided, grinning as he crowded Rodney into the shower. A moment later he yelped. "What are you, part lobster?"

"No, are you part polar bear?" Rodney asked even as he turned down the hot water minutely.

"Rodney, Iíve had coffee colder than this shower!"

Rodney sighed and inched the level lower as he turned up the cold water. "If I turn blue, Iím suing you."

"Thatís fine," John said, reaching out to prevent him adjusting the water any more. "I just had a problem with feeling like I was being boiled alive. That water hurt, Doc." He shook his head as he reached for the hypo-allergenic, non-drying, sensitive skin formula shower gel and squeezed some into the palm of his hand. He rubbed his hands together to build up a lather and ran them over Rodneyís chest, only hesitating briefly at the foreign sensation of Rodneyís sparse chest hair against his palms.

"Mmm," Rodney sighed, relaxing into the slowly firming touch. "Iíll forgive you if you donít stop that for an hour or so."

"I hope you have a hell of a big hot water tank then, or weíll both be turning blue."

"It was one of the things I upgraded when I came back."

"There are definite benefits to a brainy guy over a dumb blonde, I see," John chuckled, his hands gradually working lower.

"So glad you noticed," Rodney said dryly, reaching for the soap and beginning to lather up Johnís chest as well, dragging his fingers over Johnís nipples as he worked.

John inhaled sharply at the touch and stared down at his groin in disbelief when he felt himself twitch. "Youíve gotta be kidding! Thereís no way in hell youíre getting up again yet," he muttered.

Rodney glanced down as well and pressed his lips together to try to keep from snickering, though he did drag his thumb over Johnís nipple again.

"Youíre not helping, you know, Doc," John tried to growl, but it came out more of a breathless gasp.

"Iíve been told Iím a bad influence."

"Iíd have to agree with that assessment." Deciding that he wasnít going to be the only one with an overactive libido, John slid a soapy hand between Rodneyís thighs to lather up his balls.

"Christ," Rodney groaned, spreading his legs wider and leaning in to nip Johnís earlobe.

"John," he corrected with a smirk.

Rodney pinched his nipple in retaliation.

"God," John groaned.

"Thatís okay, you can call me Rodney."

John stared at Rodney, who stared back, and a moment later they were both laughing. "See?" John chuckled a little later. "I told you: fun."

"Fine, fine," Rodney tried to grumble as he pulled John in for a kiss. Happily yielding to the pull, John pressed their slick bodies together and moaned his pleasure into the kiss. Rodneyís cock against his thigh never slowed the detective for even a second as he curved his hand over the perfectly shaped buttocks and tried to pull Rodney even closer.

"Why do I get the feeling you appreciate my ass," Rodney murmured as he flexed the body part in question under Johnís hands.

John hummed his approval. "Um, because every time I see it, I want to bite it? Just enough to be fun," he added hastily when he saw Rodneyís expression. "No blood or pain. And followed by a lot of licking."

Rodney shuddered and stepped back enough to turn around and brace himself against the tile wall, the water washing the lather from his body. "Go right ahead."

A rush of pure lust had John shuddering as well before he pounced. He dropped to his knees behind Rodney, his hands already cupping and kneading the firm muscles as he leaned in to press a kiss to one cheek. He drew back the barest fraction of an inch, his breath cascading over the sensitized spot for an instant before he bit down, just letting Rodney feel the edge of his teeth before his tongue was dragging over the slightly reddened skin.

"And youíve never done this before?" Rodneyís incredulous question was gasped out as he arched back, pressing his ass against Johnís mouth.

"Newsflash, Doc, women have asses too. Just not as good as yours," John added in a mutter.

"Ahh, I had no idea."

"See what you miss by being exclusively gay?" John followed that with a nip to the opposite cheek.

"Youíll forgive me if I donít go out groping women now."

"I think Iíd prefer it." John seemed to hesitate behind Rodney, then his hands gripped the musicianís hips and turned him around to face John. Water sheeting over his face but still not managing to flatten his hair, John looked up into the blue eyes before taking a deep breath and leaning closer to hesitantly lick Rodneyís cock.

"John," Rodney groaned, leaning back against the wall and curving a hand against Johnís cheek.

John realized that this was no worse than kissing a womanóor Rodneyóafter a blowjob, and he grew more enthusiastic about his self-imposed task, only shying away slightly when Rodney began to fill and lengthen against his tongue. This time there was only the briefest of pauses before he took the tip into his mouth and sucked lightly.

"Shit." Rodneyís body jerked, and he hardened further, his hand sliding back to tangle in Johnís hair.

Okay, John thought, this is weird but not bad. In fact, those noises are pretty damn good. He hummed his appreciation as his head bobbed, and he stopped with more of Rodneyís growing erection in his mouth, as much as he could handle for the moment. His hands were busily kneading the ass that fascinated him so until one hand slid inward to brush a fingertip over the tight ring of muscle.

Rodney whimpered and pressed himself back against the wall to keep from rocking forward into Johnís hot mouth, the tiny flicks of his tongue driving him crazy.

By now John had gotten over the initial oddness of a cock in his mouth and was concentrating on Rodneyís reactions, loving each and every one. He wasnít quite sure what he was going to do when Rodney came, but heíd deal with that when it happened. He slid his mouth down over a little more of Rodney, then pulled back, his head bobbing as he repeated the action again and again.

"Now this I know you havenít done to a woman before," Rodney gasped, the words turning into a moan when John took him a little deeper and sucked harder on him.

But John had had it done to him, and he knew what felt good, what he liked, and Rodneyís vocalizations let him know which touches hit the right buttons. He tried to take a little more but had to back off when it triggered his gag reflex. He settled for suckling on the length he could handle, his cheeks hollowing with the strength of the suction, and he curled his fist around the neglected base of Rodneyís cock, twisting his wrist as he stroked.

Moaning, Rodney rocked forward, keeping his motions as shallow as he could, considering the situation. "John," he gasped, "going to..." He pulled back, feeling his cock slip out of Johnís mouth before he came.

Startled by the semen spurting over his chin and cheek, John flinched back for a second. But Rodney looked so hot, and John leaned forward again to close his lips over the head of his cock, catching the last of Rodneyís orgasm in his mouth. As he swallowed, he decided that it really wasnít that bad. In fact, he was more than willing to do it again if he could make Rodney shudder like that.

"Detective, you amaze me," Rodney murmured, watching John through half-closed eyes as he stroked a hand over Johnís cheek.

After one final lick, John released him and grinned while rising to his feet. He shrugged easily. "Deciding to do it was harder than swallowing." Feeling the semen begin to dry, he grimaced and turned his face under the water to rinse it off.

Rodney moved his hand to help wash away the evidence of his coming and slid his other arm around Johnís waist, his smile turning cat-like when he felt the other manís arousal. "So, want to try something else new?"

Johnís eyebrows rose slightly as his curiosity was piqued. "What did you have in mind?"

"How do you feel about fucking me?"

John inhaled sharply at the sudden surge of lust that made his knees wobble for a moment. "I think I could manage that," he got out in a voice that had deepened. "But maybe the bed would better?"

"Fine with me." Rodney opened his eyes and smiled at John. "You want me to handle the prep work?"

About to reply that he knew what to do from having done this with female lovers in the past, John paused as he considered watching Rodney stretch and lube himself. The mental image sent a surge of blood to his cock, and he had to swallow hard before he could manage to say thickly, "Sounds good to me."

"Then weíd better dry off." Rodney turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, taking a towel from the rack and handing one to John.

"It would be more fun to dry each other, donít you think?"

Rodneyís brow furrowed, and he shook his head, slightly. "Is any of this shocking you at all?"

John shrugged. "Iíve never been shy, and a guyís not that different from a woman. But youíll notice Iím not asking you if you want to fuck me. Leaving aside the obvious current issues," he chuckled with a quick glance down at Rodneyís soft cock.

"Of course," Rodney chuckled, beginning to run the towel he held across Johnís chest.

"And I like touching." Johnís hands were resting on Rodneyís shoulders as he watched the stockier man dry him.

"Funny, I normally donít."

"Really?" John looked surprised since he hadnít noticed Rodney pulling away from him at any point. "Whatís the fun in life without touching?"

"Well, let me rephrase that, Iím not normally touchy with people Iíve just met."

"Iím glad you decided to make an exception in my case." John started rubbing his own towel over Rodney, only to stop with a groan when Rodneyís arm brushed his erection.

"Considering youíre making an exception for me, itís only fair I do the same." Rodney stroked his hand over Johnís erection for a moment before continuing to dry him.

Johnís hips moved convulsively at the touch, and he had to stop drying Rodney as he clutched McKayís arms for support. "Youíre a tease, Doc." But he was smiling as he said it.

Rodney gave a sniff of disdain. "You say that before you get in my ass?"

"Yup. But Iíll take it back when I do."

"Ahh, but if Iím a tease, Iíll lead you on and then not let you get in my ass..."

"Except that one thing you definitely are is brutally honest, and you already offered me your ass," John pointed out, grinning.

"Then why are we standing here when we could be in the bedroom?"

"Because I needed a minute to make sure my knees were going to support me after you decided to play."

Rodney kissed him for that, shifting the towel to Johnís back to dry him there. Once John was dry, he turned around and returned the favor, drying Rodney rapidly as his arousal made him impatient.

"Go on and get in bed, Iíll grab what we need," Rodney murmured, taking the towel from Johnís hand and tossing it in the corner.

After stealing another kiss, John made his way to the bed and stretched out, waiting for Rodney on the rumbled sheets that still smelled of them.

After a moment, Rodney came out, a small tube and a few packets in his hands. "Would you rather I did it in there?" he asked, glancing back toward the bathroom.

"Hell no!" John half sat up, ready to go grab Rodney if necessary. He was looking forward to this show.

"Just checking," Rodney laughed, settling on the bed beside him and setting the supplies down next to his leg.

"Why the hell do you think I wanted you to do it yourself? This way I can watch your face. You have a very expressive face." John smirked as he piled the pillows up behind him and lay back again, one arm bent back behind his head.

Rodney looked somewhat incredulous as he knelt, his legs spread, and spread lube over his fingers before reaching back behind himself and tracing the tip of one around his hole.

Watching him, John was the one to shiver when he saw the pleasure twist Rodneyís features. "Youíre so hot," he breathed.

"This from a man who, until yesterday, preferred busty bimbos," Rodney murmured though he was grinning as he spokeóuntil he gasped as he added a second finger.

"So now I prefer brainy guys with fuckable asses," John replied, barely paying attention to the conversation. Most of his attention was fixed on the fingers moving in and out of Rodneyís ass.

Shifting his weight forward, Rodney ripped open the condom wrapper with his teeth and teased the thin latex sheath out of the packet so he could roll it down Johnís erection. "Why donít you find out how fuckable," he offered.

Shuddering from the touch of Rodneyís hand, John took a moment before replying. "I intend to," he rasped. "On your back. I want to see you." He pushed up to his knees and waited for Rodney to lie down, his eyes hot as they ran over Rodney.

Slowly pulling his fingers from his ass, Rodney slowly shifted to lie on his back, his legs spread and bent at the knees, holding out the lube to John so that he could slick himself up.

John pressed a finger hard at the base of his cock while slicking himself, almost unbearably aroused by the sight of Rodney getting himself ready for John to fuck him. He positioned himself with the head of his cock just resting against Rodneyís opening, then braced his hands on either side of Rodneyís head. He lowered his head to brush a light kiss over Rodneyís parted lips, then slowly pushed forward, watching Rodneyís face. Rodney groaned, biting at Johnís lower lip as he grabbed his knees, pulling his legs back toward his chest and opening himself more to the invading pressure.

"Fuck, youíre so tight," John panted, distantly surprised by the fact but loving it as he inched his way inside Rodney. He could feel the muscle slowly loosen and yield to him, gradually taking him deeper, and he thought it was the hottest thing heíd ever felt.

"Itís been a while," Rodney gasped, breathing deeply to allow himself relax as John finally slid fully inside him.

Which explained the tightness and caused a surge of lust that made John groan as his cock jumped. "Iím flattered," he rasped.

Rodney grinned at that. "So am I."

"Fine, fine, you can be smug at turning the straight guy," John grumbled laughingly.

"I was planning on it." As he spoke, Rodney tightened down around Johnís cock and arched upward. "And moving might be good for you now."

A deep moan was wrenched from John, and he surged forward, the last fraction of his cock disappearing inside Rodney until his balls were pressed against the other manís ass. But as good as that felt, it wasnít enough, and he drew back again, the slippery friction so good. He shifted over Rodney, now supporting himself on his elbows while his freed hands buried themselves in Rodneyís hair, holding his head still while John ravaged his mouth.

Tightening his legs against Johnís torso, Rodney let go of his knees and wrapped his arms around Johnís back, his fingers digging into the tense muscles as they rocked together, the movement of Johnís tongue in his mouth mimicking their motion.

John wondered what it would feel like to have Rodney come while he was in him, but the musician was still soft, and John couldnít help a certain smugness at the memory of why he was that way. And there was no way in hell he was going to be able to hold on long enough for Rodney to recover, not with Rodney clenching down around him on damn near every stroke, making John speed up his rhythm.

Rodney arched up to meet him, eating at Johnís mouth as their bodies slapped together. Stiffening, John whimpered into Rodneyís voracious kiss as the pleasure surged, and he slammed forward, fucking Rodney hard and fast.

"Come on, John," Rodney whispered, tilting his head enough to nip at his jaw and sliding a hand lower to knead Johnís ass, trailing a fingertip between his cheeks as he did so. John stiffened at the touch, but it felt good. And when he drew back again and Rodneyís finger pressed harder against his own opening, he groaned at the shocking pleasure of it. It was too much for him, and he thrust forward again, shaking as his climax ripped through him.

"Oh yes." Rodney held John tightly, soothing him through the tremors that wracked his body, murmuring nonsense words into his ears until John finally collapsed on top of him. John nuzzled into Rodneyís throat, making soft sounds of contentment as he luxuriated in the warmth of him, never wanting to move.

"You do realize that if you dislocate my hips, youíre going to have to call 911 and then explain how it happened..."

Grumbling, John pushed himself off Rodney after carefully withdrawing from him, and disposed of the condom before dropping to his back next to him. "You could have just lowered your legs without the dramatics, Doc. I was comfortable."

"My hips arenít double-jointed, Detective," Rodney sniffed, rolling to his side and propping himself up on an elbow, his free hand rubbing Johnís stomach.

"Bitch, bitch, bitch. Are you going to be this demanding every time?"

"Undoubtedly; planning on leaving now?"

"Nope." John turned his head to grin at him. "Iím comfortable again."

Rodney gave a slow smile and leaned in for a kiss. "Iím glad to hear that."

After the kiss, John smirked at him. "Admit it, you thought I was going to freak out and bolt after the sex."

"It seemed highly likely; coming in a manís ass after having blown him isnít something straight men do every day."

"Well, no, I can honestly say Iíve never done any of that before. But if I was going to freak out, it would have been before any of that happened." John shrugged easily. "I blame it all on your ass."

"Itís a good ass," Rodney nodded.

"Yup. I still think itís the hottest one Iíve ever seen."

Rodney chuckled quietly at that. "So youíve possibly turned bisexual because my ass is gorgeous?"

"Well, I donít know about bisexual. Iím still not even remotely interested in any other men."

"So youíre McKayís ass sexual?"

"That seems to be about the size of it."

Rodney twisted as much as possible to try to look at his ass. "Good boy."

"Are you talking to me or your ass?"


John groaned. "Youíre an ass!"

"Which means you like me, so Iíll say thank you for the compliment."

"Iím never going to win, am I?" John demanded with a narrow-eyed look.

"Is that a problem?" Rodney asked, sobering somewhat.

John seemed to think about it for a moment before suddenly rolling over on top of Rodney. "Nope, it just gives me something to aim for."

Rodneyís laugh sounded somewhat relieved, and he smiled up at John before swatting his ass. "Just donít expect it to happen overnight."

"I might die of the shock if it did." John eyed him, smiling wryly. "Itís going to take a while to convince you that Iím here because I want to be."

"Maybe when you let me fuck you, Iíll believe it," Rodney answered, chuckling at the way Johnís eyes widened. "Donít worry, Detective, Iím perfectly happy with what I have; I know better than to push the man with the gun."

"Iím not saying no, Doc, just... not yet. I donít want this to be one-sided, but, uh, I need a little time to work up to that. That is different from anything else Iíve done." He hesitated. "But it felt good when you touched me," he admitted.

"Well, of course it did!" Rodney exclaimed before his smile softened. "And Iím not going anywhere, well, except perhaps the nuthouse if I have another breakdown."

John snorted. "I guess Iíll just have to make sure that doesnít happen."

"Glad to hear it, the food in that place sucked, and this is from someone who lives on powerbars when heís working."

"Youíre high strung, not crazy. And you have to stick around so I can get you to play for me."

"Ah, the truth comes out; he only wants me for my talent." Rodney paused a beat. "And apparently, my ass."

"Oh, definitely the ass."

"So if my ass could play the piano, your life would be complete?"

"I refuse to even think about that statement, or Iíll have to run screaming." John shook his head, desperately trying not to picture it. "Though I like the rest of you too."

"Aww, what a gentleman," Rodney chuckled.

"I aim to please."

"Good, then you can get up and turn out the light."

John groaned and sat up. "Youíre an evil, manipulative man, Doc."

"But I get what I want, so thatís fine with me." Rodney stretched and yawned, watching John admiringly as he got up to flip the wall switch.

"Ha." John swore when he stubbed his toe on the bed leg and dropped down. "When weíre at my place, then, you can get the light!"

"Your place? My, my, you are getting daring, arenít you?"

"I donít do things halfway."

Rodneyís eyebrows rose even as he squinted to see John in the darkened room. "Just where are we going with this?"

"I have no idea, but it ought to be interesting finding out."

"And dangerous," Rodney murmured to himself.

That had John stilling and peering at Rodney. "Whatís that supposed to mean?"

"For all itís mid-sized, South Suffolkís small-minded," Rodney murmured.

John sat back up, frowning. "Perhaps, but we havenít had a hate crime yet. And itís not as if people donít already know youíre gay, Rodney."

"Iím not talking about myself, you idiot."

"Me? Iím the guy with the gun, remember?"

"And you work with more of them."

"If any of them have a problem, itís not going to be my friends, and I frankly donít give a damn about the rest."

Rodney sighed and crossed his arms behind his head. "Okay, fine, no problems that way."

"Look, Doc, donít worry about it. I can take care of myself." John stretched out beside him, lying on his side, facing Rodney.

"Oh, I have no doubt of that fact," Rodney nodded, reaching over to pull John closer. Pleased, John moved with Rodneyís tug, settling against him with his head on Rodneyís shoulder and an arm and leg flung over the other man.

"I wonít let any talk change my mind either," he murmured.

"Mmm," Rodney murmured, tightening his arms around Johnís waist. "Good to hear, now sleep."

"Gínight, Doc." John turned his head slightly to kiss Rodneyís chest before closing his eyes and drifting into sleep.

John woke at his usual time the next morning and lay there, debating whether heíd have time to sweeten Rodneyís mood before being killed if he woke him this early. He had a feeling that six a.m. wasnít the musicianís preferred time of day.

"What are you doing?" Rodney grumbled.

"Just lying here," John replied with mock innocence, ignoring the hand that was petting Rodneyís belly.

"Thatís what you call it?" Rodney opened one eye and glared at John.

"Yup. Iím just enjoying the moment."

"And why is the moment happening before the sunís up?"

"Because I woke up?" John offered.

"And why did you wake up at this ungodly hour?"

"This is the time I usually get up."

"And let me guess, then you do some disgustingly wholesome exercise, correct?"

"I usually go running or swimming. Though I could be convinced try some un-wholesome exercise."

Rodney groaned even though he was rolling toward John. "I am never up this early, Detective; I hope you appreciate this."

"Iíll do my best to make it up to you."

"Youíd damn well better." Rodney was now nuzzling Johnís throat and rubbing up against him, their morning erections sliding together.

"Oh, thatís good," John groaned, grabbing Rodneyís ass to pull him closer. "I never knew how good a cock could feel."

Rodneyís throaty laugh vibrated against Johnís neck as he got his arms around John as well. "Thatís just... quite the line there."

"Oh, shut up and move," John groused.

"Yes, Detective, moving as ordered," Rodney snickered, circling his hips against Johnís and groaning at the friction.

"Good man," John gasped. "Oh fuck, thatís really good, Doc."

Rodney only grunted in response as he continued to grind against John, his strong, broad hands kneading Johnís back in time with their motions. John moaned and kneaded Rodneyís ass, humping up against him while he raised his head slightly in search of Rodneyís mouth.

Groaning around the tongue invading his mouth, Rodney shuddered as the slight edge of Johnís nails dug into his flesh and came, the sudden liquid warmth between them making their movements easier. Johnís eyes widened as he felt Rodney come against him, and he whimpered faintly, thrusting upward almost violently. His cock slid slickly along the groove of Rodneyís pelvis, tearing another groan of pleasure from him, and he moved frantically, desperately seeking his climax.

Unable to resist, Rodney turned his head and bit at the taut flesh of Johnís throat, sucking and licking the warm, salty flesh, wanting to raise a reddened mark there. The tiny hint of pain only increased Johnís pleasure, and he yelled Rodneyís name as he came. His nails bit into Rodneyís back as he thrust upward, gasping and moaning with each spasm. Rodney smiled against Johnís neck and licked the reddened patch heíd left there, finally pulling back to give a lazy, satisfied smile.

"You marked me, didnít you?" John muttered without opening his eyes. "So help me, Iím going to make you come to dinner with my friends so you can deal with the comments."

"Do you really think their comments are going to bother me? Itís yourself you should be worried aboutóunless your friends are the kind to beat the homos and tie them to fence posts."

"No, theyíre more the kind to leave a case of concealer on my desk and to buy me a dozen stupid-looking scarves." John looked at Rodney. "Iíll be sure to share them with you."

"Bondage, eh? As long as you donít cut off the circulation in my hands, Iím fine with itóor did you want me to tie you up?"

"BonóJesus, Doc, give a guy a break. Iím new to this stuff!"

Rodney started to chuckle and soon was all-out laughing. "It was a joke, Detective."

"Ha ha." John stuck his tongue out at him. "Ass hole."

"Iíll take that as a compliment considering that you seemed inordinately fond of that body part not too long ago."

John blinked. And then laughed. "Youíre a very odd man, Doc. I like that. And see, mornings are good."

Rodney smiled. "This one is, anyway."

"Damn, Iím good." John shifted a little, lazily stroking Rodneyís back. "Iím going to have to get going soon. And Iím probably not going to have a lot of free time till this case is solved. So donít think Iím freaking outówell, maybe a little, but Iím dealingóor avoiding you. Iíll be back when I can."

"Iíll try, but if I start freaking out over thinking youíre freaking out, well, thatís me." Rodney sighed and stretched, then sat up. "How about I go make some coffee so you can get going."

John sat up as well and caught hold of Rodneyís shoulder, holding him still for a quick, hard kiss. "I guess Iíll just have to drop in whenever I can to make sure that you donít freak. This is all confusing enough without adding that." He paused for a moment. "Actually, no, itís not. Iím remarkably unconfused by whatís happening between us, just kind of... bemused, I guess."

"Which confuses me, but Iím not going to argue the fact as itís to my advantage."

"Smart man. I guess weíll just have to accept that Iíve been waiting for you all my life." John batted his lashes at Rodney.

"Oh my god, Iím going to be sick!"

John burst into laughter. "So I guess you donít actually want me to be your adoring slave," he snickered.

"I have enough people trying to suck up to me; I donít need itóin whatever we are to each other."

"I think I like sucking better than sucking up. And at the risk of sounding like a girl, I think weíre working on the R word," John ended in a whisper.

"Radish? Rabies? Rotgut?" Rodney grinned slightly.

John rolled his eyes. "Ridiculous Rodney," he snorted. "No, you idiot, relationship. Maybe even romance too. God, Iím making myself sick now. When did I start channeling a teenage girl?"

"If you start listening to bubblegum pop and writing my name in your ticket book, Iím running for my life."

"Aw, you mean you donít want me to carve our initials in a heart on your porch railing?"

"I think youíre in serious need of a shower and coffee." Rodney shook his head as he rolled out of bed.

"Are you going to scrub my back?" John stood and stretched, yawning hugely.

"Are you going to ask nicely?"

"Pretty please with me on top?"

Rodney chuckled. "That wins the prize for niceness."

"I thought you might like that," John replied with a certain degree of smugness. "And just so you know, Iím a reciprocal kind of guy; Iíll wash your back too." In fact, he was looking forward to it.

"Hrmmm, canít turn down an offer like that. You get the shower going, and Iíll start the coffee; that way itíll be ready when weíre done."

"You really are a genius."

"It took you this long to discover that fact? Sad, very sad." Rodney grabbed his robe and was still chuckling as he headed downstairs.

"No lack of ego there," John mused with a grin. Still naked, he padded into the bathroom and started the shower, remembering to make it hotter than he normally would for just himself.

"So, get lucky last night, Shep?" Aiden demanded when his partner walked in later that morning.

Trying to ignore him, John looked down at his desk and sighed. Of course there was a copy of The Gay Kama Sutra on his desk. "I shoulda stayed in bed."

"Which bed was that?" Ronon asked slyly. "I drove by your place this morning, and your car was conspicuously absent."

"Did you ever think maybe I went out for breakfast?"

"Your paper was still on the porch."

"Maybe I didnít feel like reading this morning."

"Maybe you should quit while youíre only a little behind, John," Teyla chuckled. "Or should I mention that interesting rash on your neck?"

Flushing slightly, John subsided into his chair. "Any breaks on the case last night?" he asked.

Ronon shook his head. "But there were no more missing kids so thatís a plus."

"Ted Halling is due here with his dogs in about fifteen minutes," Aidan added.

"As long as his maybe ex, maybe not wife doesnít come too," John sighed. "So is everything ready to head out?" None of them said it, but they all knew that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that they would find the children alive, no matter how hard they tried to hang on to the hope.

The others nodded and grabbed their jackets so they could head outside.

John looked up sharply when one of the dogs suddenly barked, hope rising when he saw that it was snuffling at the ground. "Have the dogs caught the scent?" he asked, afraid to look away.

Ted Halling shook his head, his long face morose and his rangy body betraying a tension not normally present unless he was arguing with his wife. "Not the one we want." He looked around at the milling dogs, then back at the detectives. "Problem is, if theyíre driving, the crewís not going to pick up anything, not unless we stumble on where they get out of the car. Add to that the fact that the scent trail for the last boy is over a week old and that we donít have any markers for the Wraithe brothers, and itís a hell of a mess."

John sighed. "I know. I was hoping for a miracle," he admitted. "Unless we happen to stumble over them taking one of the kids, I donít know what we can do. We donít have cause to search their home."

"If we could find it," Ronon commented, a harsh edge to his voice.

John nodded, glaring around as if the swamp had done him a personal injury. "Keep searching. Unless we get some information, this is the only lead we have."

"They may have taken a boat deeper into the swamp," Teyla mused. "If thatís the case, weíre going to have to get air support in and see if we can spot their house."

Reluctantly, John shook his head. "Weíre going to need a lot more than this to justify that expense, no matter if we all know that weíre right. We need to be able to prove it." He slammed a hand against a tree trunk in frustration.

"So what do we do?" Aiden asked.

Ronon shook his head. "Keep working on the leads we have."

"And pray," John added. "We need all the help we can get."

"So do those kids," Ted murmured.

Hearing a knock on the screen door, Rodney got up from the piano where heíd been picking out single notes, slowly working toward pairing them. "Donít you have a home," he groaned, seeing his nephew standing outside, grinning at him.

"Yeah, but Dad came over, and he and Mom are fighting again," Jinto said with a shrug. "Besides, itís more fun over here." And it was easy to get here when he ignored the rules and cut through the swamp.

"You think itís Ďfuní over here?" Rodney groaned, unlatching the door to let Jinto inside.

"Yup. I like listening to you," Jinto admitted. "And Johnís fun when heís here." He looked around hopefully for the man who could usually be convinced to play catch with him.

"Sorry, heís still at work; still want to hang around?"

"Sure." Jinto eyed his uncle, remembering what John had said one afternoon about Rodney needing to get out in the sun more. "Would you play catch with me, Uncle Rodney?"

"Catch? As in with a ball? A ball that could break my fingers?" Rodney grimaced before seeing the way Jintoís expression fell. "Do you have a ball?"

"John brought some Nerf balls," Jinto replied eagerly. "He said those would be okay for you to play with too."

Rodney sighed. "John thinks of everything, doesnít he?"

Jinto shrugged. "He likes you."

"He likes everyone."

The boy gave his uncle a very adult look. "No, he likes you."

"I thought that you didnít care about any of that type of stuff?"

Jinto shrugged again. "I like you and John. And you laugh more since heís been around."

"I do?" Rodney paused, surprised. "I supposed I do at that." He smiled slightly. "Now then, where are those balls?"

Catching hold of Rodneyís hand, Jinto tugged him toward the door. "Theyíre out on the porch. Come on, Uncle Rodney!"

"Shoes! I need shoes!" Rodney laughed, grabbing a pair of sneakers and pulling them on before following Jinto outside. "Playing ball; I must be insane," he muttered to himself.

"Itís fun!" Jinto laughed, grabbing up a ball and running to the far end of the yard to toss it back to his uncle.

Rodney groaned and made a half-hearted grab for the ball, trotting after it when he missed it. "You did that on purpose!"

"You gotta try!" Jinto laughed, practically bouncing around his end of the yard.

"Iím out here, arenít I?! Thatís as close to trying as I get." Rodney picked up the Nerf football and, with a smile that looked more like a grimace, threw it back in his nephewís general direction.

"Thatís okay, Uncle Rodney, not everyoneís good at playing ball. But itís still fun," Jinto called, trying to be encouraging. He sprinted across half the yard to catch the ball, then gently tossed it back toward Rodney.

"Where were the kids like you when I was growing up?" Rodney murmured to himself, catching the ball better this time and managing to get it back to Jinto without making him run.

"Good throw!" Jinto beamed and tossed it back again, directly into Rodneyís hands.

"Youíre humoring me, I know it," Rodney commented, though he was grinning by now.

Jintoís grin widened. "This is fun, Uncle Rodney."

"Never heard of the word," Rodney sniffed, though he gave a pleased grin when he easily caught the next toss.

"That just means you need to have more of it," Jinto retorted, sounding eerily like his mother for a moment.

"I have plenty of fun!"

"You just said you didnít know what it was."

"Not when it comes to all this hale and hearty outdoors stuff, I donít."

"Uncle Rodney, youíre weird!"

"Tell me something I havenít heard my whole life."

Jinto frowned and dropped the ball as he ran across the yard to hug Rodney hard. "I love you, Uncle Rodney."

Rodney froze, his eyes wide, before awkwardly patting the boy on the back. "Yes, well, I love you too, Jinto; youíre a good kid."

Jinto grinned up at him. "Thatís not what you told Mom when I messed up your music that time. Hey, why donít you come over for dinner tonight? You havenít for a while, and I know Momíd like it."

"You mean sheíd like to harass me more," Rodney snorted.

"Mom says thatís part of being a sister. Iím really glad I donít have any!"

"I wish I didnít have any either at times!"

Jinto giggled. "Maybe we shouldnít tell Mom that."

Rodney nodded nervously. "The only way I would do that would be if John was standing in front of me with his gun!"

"I dunno," Jinto said dubiously. "John seemed too smart to do that."

"True." Rodney realized he was still hugging his nephew, and he stepped back, letting Jinto go. "Your mother would jumójust take it from him and come after me any way."

Jinto smirked. "Yup. So will you come to dinner tonight?"

Rodney groaned and shook his head. "Fine, fine Iíll come."

"Yay! But we should probably go soon then. It takes a little while to walk home."

Rodney groaned again. "I really should have learned to drive sometime," he sighed. "And letís put up your ball so I can lock up, and weíll get going."

Jinto ran to the porch and put the ball back in the plastic chest John had put there, along with the ball and a few other toys. "Ready!" he announced.

"Hold on, hold on," Rodney grumbled as he opened the screen door. "Do you want a bottle of water? Iím not risking dehydrating on the way."

Jinto rolled his eyes. "Itís only about twenty minutes!"

"Exactly, now do you want a bottle of water or not?"

"No!" Only an adolescent could imbue a monosyllable with that much disgust.

"Fine, stay here and Iíll be out in a second." That said, Rodney ducked into the house to go to the kitchen while Jinto wandered around a little, unable to stay still while waiting for his uncle.

"All right, Iíve got water for both of us, and I called your mother to let her know weíre on the way," Rodney commented as he backed out of the house, locking the door behind him, then turning. "Jinto?" he called, not seeing the boy. "Jinto, come on, we donít have time for hide and seek."

Rodney stepped off the porch and looked around the yard, shading his eyes from the sun. "Jinto, this isnít funny!" he yelled, his voice taking on a nervous note. "Scaring your uncle into a heart attack isnít a good hobby to take up!" As he spoke, Rodney was looking down the sides of the house, then he ran out into the yard, looking around wildly. "Jinto!"

The police car that squealed into Rodneyís driveway was closely followed by another car, and John and Jeannie both sprinted across the yard toward where Rodney waited on the porch, looking frantic.

"He was here! He was right out here; I went inside to get a bottle of water because I didnít want to get thirsty on the walk, and I told him to stay here. Oh my god, a fucking bottle of water..."

John wrapped his arms around Rodney, trying to calm him. "So you were only inside a minute or two?"

"Who cares how long he was inside?" Jeannie nearly shrieked. "Whereís my son?"

"More like five," Rodney answered, wincing. "I called Jeannie to tell her we were on our way. I didnít hear a car or anything."

John sighed, rubbing Rodneyís back. "We think the kids are being taken somewhere nearby. On foot." He didnít say it, but he knew that this might actually help them find the children, since this time, it was a fresh trail.

"Then why arenít you all out there looking for him?" Jeannie exclaimed.

"Weíre waiting for the dogs; we donít want to cut across the scent trail unnecessarily." John winced, suddenly realizing that they were asking Halling to find his own son.

"I canít believe this," she moaned. "You were supposed to be watching him!"

"I was!" Rodney protested miserably.

"I know," John said, still rubbing his back. "Jeannie, itís not Rodneyís fault. You heard him, less than five minutes while he was calling you, and Jinto was right here in the yard. Weíve all stood here. Would you honestly think it wasnít safe?"

"Ióno," Jeannie whispered before collapsing on the steps, sobbing. "But you havenít found any of the others; what if you donít find him either?"

Rodney gave John a sick look and moved over by his sister, hesitantly wrapping his arms around her. "Theyíll find him and all the others, Jeannie; they will."

"We will," John vowed, fighting the rising nausea. It had been bad enough before, with all those kids missing, but this was Jinto, a kid he knew, heíd played with. "We will."

Rodney looked up when a truck roared up the drive, Ted Hallingís dogs howling as he leapt out of the cab and ran over to them. "Is there any news?"

"Oh Ted, heís gone!" Jeannie cried, pulling away from Rodney and throwing herself into his arms.

Halling held her close, his own face tortured as he closed his eyes. "Weíre going to find him, Jeannie. We have to."

Unable to watch their misery, Rodney turned to stare out over the swamp, his arms wrapped around himself as he fought his own tears.

"Hey, youíre not alone," John reminded him, wrapping his arms around Rodney from behind.

"Fuck, John, heís just a kid," Rodney whispered, leaning back against him and fumbling for his hand. "If I had just come out sooner, I might have been able to do something..."

"And maybe youíd have gotten yourself killed. But honestly, Rodney, if you were only inside for a few minutes, either they got incredibly lucky, or they were watching and waited for that to grab him."

"Watching?" Rodney yelped, looking up at the swamp again, this time in fear.

"Probably." John looked around warily, though he knew that the kidnappers had to be well away with Jinto by now. "I want you to come stay with me till this is over."

"With you? But what if he gets away and comes back here?"

"Iíll have some men out here. And every available officer and qualified volunteer combing the swamp now that we have a fresh trail. But I really think it would be safer for you to be out of here till this is over."

"Are you sure it wonít be a problem with work?" Rodney asked quietly.

"Positive." John really didnít give a damn if it was. He wanted Rodney safe.

"I just donít want to cause an issue..." Rodneyís voice trailed off as he looked down and realized that they were standing in an embrace with a crowd of police and technicians behind them.

"The only issue will be if I canít concentrate on my job because Iím worrying about you. I need to know that youíre safe, Rodney."

"All right, Iíll go with you when you leave."

"Thank you." The words were heartfelt, and John tightened his arms around Rodney before letting go to move over to where Jintoís parents still clung to each other. "Halling, Iím sorry to ask this of you, but we need to get the dogs out. We need your help on this."

Ted hugged Jeannie tightly and kissed her forehead before letting her go and turning to look at John, his eyes suspiciously bright. "Iíve got one of his shirts; itíll be good for them to scent off of."

John put a hand on Tedís shoulder and squeezed hard before letting go. "Itíll help a lot."

As John and Ted talked, Jeannie moved to Rodneyís side, desperately needing comfort and human contact.

"John and Ted will find him," Rodney offered, hesitantly pulling her into a hug.

"Oh God, Rodney, they took my baby," Jeannie moaned before collapsing against him, sobbing.

"Iím sorry, Iím sorry," he mumbled, pulling her closer and rubbing her back.

Soon Jeannie wiped her tears away, squared her shoulders and stood up, though she kept hold of Rodneyís hand. "After I get Jinto back, Iím going to make those bastards sorry they were ever born," she said with absolute sincerity.

Glancing over, John made a mental note to keep the prisoners, once they had them in custody and the kids safe, far away from Jeannie McKay-Halling, or there wouldnít be anything left to try.

"Hallingís getting the dogs," Ronon commented as he joined them. "We checked the immediate area and found what might be a trail; heíll start there."

"See?" Rodney said, trying to smile. "Theyíll find him, and you can go after the sick fucks who took him; Iíll even offer you piano wire for the castration part."

Ronon looked like he agreed, and John couldnít bring himself to argue with the plan. "Weíll let you know as soon as we find anything," he said, trying to offer some comfort.

Rodney nodded tightly. "Weíll keep the phone open," he promised.

John hesitated, then nodded sharply and stepped off the porch, heading for the search area where Teyla and Ford were already working with Halling.

"Jeannie, letís go inside," Rodney said gently, hoping to get her off her feet.

Jeannie resisted for a moment, staring out across the yard as if she could will Jinto to appear, but then her shoulders slumped and she turned. "I... Iíll make some coffee."

"We donít needó" Rodney paused and nodded, realizing that Jeannie would do better with something to do. "That sounds like a good idea."

Inside, Jeannie bustled around, getting the coffee ready. She had it brewing when a mug slipped out of her trembling fingers and shattered on the counter. The accident broke her control, and she slumped there, hands braced on the counter, and cried, silent tears running down her cheeks.

"Oh god..." Rodney cringed and hurried into the kitchen, making what he hoped were comforting noises as he pulled Jeannie into his arms and rocked her back and forth, letting her cry for both of them. Jeannie leaned into him, letting her brother be the strong one for a change, and she sobbed out her grief, fear and anger in his embrace.

"Jeannie. Wake up, honey, I think theyíre back." Rodney shifted to ease the stiff muscles in his shoulder as his sister sat up, her expression going from bewildered to tense when memory returned.

"Do they have Jinto?" she demanded, pushing to her feet, barely noticing the pain in her neck from the awkward position sheíd slept in.

"I donít know." Rodney clambered to his feet as well, rubbing his shoulder and following Jeannie out to the porch, hoping against hope that they would have found his nephew.

John and Ted were alone as they trudged up onto the porch, both men looking exhausted. They reached for the McKay siblings, pulling them into embraces that asked for comfort as much as offered it.

Though he wanted to ask a million questions, Rodney somehow kept his mouth shut, feeling the tension running thorough Johnís body and fighting back tears once again.

"The dogs need to get some rest," John explained. "Weíll head back out in the morning."

"Did you find the trail at least?" Rodney asked plaintively.

John winced. "We found it, but it disappeared after a hundred yards or so. There were tire tracks, but we couldnít follow them in the dark, not in the swamp. Weíll go back at first light."

"Fuck. Heís out there, John, and itís my fault..." Rodneyís voice broke on the last, and he looked away.

Johnís arms tightened around him, but before he could say anything, Jeannieís voice cut in. "Stop that right now, Rodney James McKay! None of this is your fault!"

"Maybe not, but I feel like it is," Rodney muttered into Johnís shoulder.

John stroked his back, but Jeannie stepped out of Tedís embrace and took the few steps necessary to smack the back of Rodneyís head.

"Ow!" Rodney exclaimed, straightening up and turning to glare at her. "What was that for?"

"I was trying knock some sense into that thick head of yours! We donít have time for you to have a breakdown, Rodney. You didnít kidnap Jinto, so this is not your fault."

Rodney glanced back at John and smiled slightly. "It worked."

John raised an inquiring eyebrow while Jeannie glared daggers at the back of Rodneyís head. "What worked?" she demanded irritably.

"If I get Jeannie mad at me, she gets focusedóthough that hurt!" He glared at her on the last.

"Serves you right," she retorted unapologetically.

Rodney pouted, but there was a satisfied gleam in his eyes when he looked back at John.

"You are so manipulative," John murmured against Rodneyís lips.

"Everyone needs a talent; Iíd rather have her annoyed with me than despondent."

"I can understand that." John looked over Rodneyís shoulder and began nudging him inside, trying to give Jeannie and Ted some privacy.

"I need to get my stuff together; you want to help?"

"Sure. That way Iíll make sure you donít forget anything youíll need to come back for."

"Surely Iím not going to be under house arrest there!"

"Of course not! But Iíd rather you didnít need to come back out here. That would defeat the point of getting you out of here."

"I really donít see what danger Iím in; Iím several decades older thanóthan the boys."

"Youíre also the only person who lives out here, and we know theyíre somewhere in the area. Humor me, okay?"

"Yes, dear," Rodney sighed, grabbing a suitcase and tossing his clothes in it.

"Ha ha, youíre so funny." John caught hold of Rodneyís arm and pulled him into a fierce embrace, hazel eyes closing as he rested against Rodney for a moment.

"Youíre going to find him," Rodney whispered, the words as much for his own benefit as for Johnís as he hugged the taller man close.

John only nodded silently, unable to face the alternatives. After a moment, he drew back, though he caught and kept hold of one of Rodneyís hands. "Ready?"

"Just let me grab my toiletries, and then Iíll be ready."

"Donít forget the condoms and lube," John mumbled.

Despite the emotional wringer of the dayís events, Rodney snickered.

John glared. "Not one word."

That earned him an innocent look before Rodney went into the bathroom, coming out with a handful of odds and ends and tossing them in his bag. Then he opened the nightstand drawer, pulling out condoms and lube and setting them in the case as well.

A flush was clearly visible across Johnís cheekbones, but he refused to acknowledge it as he watched Rodney. "I know it wonít be the same, but I have a keyboard from when I used to play. At least you can keep in practice if you want."

"You played?" Rodney paused and looked over at John, realizing how little he actually knew about the other manís past.

"Yeah, I was in a band in high school and college. Then I realized that we werenít good enough, and I gave it up, except for myself. I still play sometimes just to relax."

"Iíd like to hear you play sometime," Rodney commented, zipping his bag and lifting it before looking over at John.

"Iím nowhere near your class," John warned, but he looked pleased.

Rodney gave a wry grin. "Right now you may be better than I am, but I would like to hear you."

"Maybe we could play together too?" John suggested diffidently, hardly able to believe that he was suggesting that to Rodney McKay.

Rodney nodded haltingly, avoiding glancing down at his own hands. "Iíd like that."

"Itíd be fun. And itís not like Iíd tell anyone. Whoíd ever believe that I played with Rodney McKay anyway?" John scoffed, trying to make Rodney laugh.

"Your partners," Rodney replied deadpan, not at all referring to the piano.

John chuckled. "True. And Teyla even knows who you are outside of this town."

"Then she might not believe itóabout the piano."

"Good point. But I think Iíd rather keep that just between us anyway." John smiled crookedly. "I have a feeling that thereís not going to be a lot that we can keep private eventually."

Rodney nodded and glanced down at the bag in his hand. "We can keep what we want to private," he said carefully.

"Good. I donít think Iíd fit really well into the Yoko Ono role. Though I, uh, read up on you on the internet. Lots of leggy blonds in the picturesówould a ĎProperty of John Sheppardí t-shirt while youíre on tour be too much to ask?"

"Publicity photos," Rodney shrugged, "at least the ones who were women. The menóthereís no need to worry, John; I donít cheat."

"I didnít think so. If anything, youíre too honest sometimes. But that doesnít mean I donít want the grabby people to know to keep their hands off."

Rodney quirked a smile. "Well, if I ever get to touring again, you could always come with me as my security detail."

John nodded slowly as he picked up Rodneyís bag. "I just might do that. At least for a while."

Rodney goggled at him. "Not that Iíd mind, but your job?"

"I have a lot of accumulated vacation time due to me. I think I could arrange a month or two off before Iíd have to leave you to the ravening hordes."

Rodney took a step closer to John, caught his chin in his hand, and kissed him. "Thank you."

"I think I should be the one thanking you... for leading me into temptation with that ass."

"Yes, yes, itís all my assí fault."

"Exactly. Iím so glad you understand the situation." John managed another smirk before reaching to open the bedroom door so they could go back downstairs... and face Jintoís grieving parents again.

"We were wondering if you two were ever coming down," Jeannie commented in a try for her normal acerbic tone.

"Weíre going to go home, in caseóin case," Ted added, his arm still around his wifeís waist.

John nodded, glad that the couple had put aside their differences to lean on each other through this. "If I hear anything, Iíll call you," he promised.

"Jeannie, Ió" Rodney stopped and sighed.

"I know, Rodney." She walked over and gave him a quick, hard hug before retreating to Tedís side again.

Seeing that no one was going to move, John took the first step, nudging Rodney toward the door. They could all use some rest, whatever little they would manage that night, and they werenít going to get it in the middle of Rodneyís living room.

"Iíll talk to you in the morning, Detective, if not before," Ted said before guiding Jeannie outside and to his truck.

"Should I lock up here, or are your people staying?" Rodney asked, watching the taillights dwindle in the darkness, Jeannieís car left in the driveway.

"Lock up. Some fresh trackers are going to continue the search, but they donít need your house." John looked out over the swamp, where the occasional distant flashlight was visible, looking like an oversized firefly. "Itíll be a miracle if they find anything in the dark, but no oneís willing to just give up."

"Thank God," Rodney murmured as he fumbled for his keys. "But, what if he gets away and comes back here? He wonít be able to get in..."

"Rodney, Iíd bet anything Jinto knows at least half a dozen ways to get into this house. Iím sure he played here all the years you were away. Besides, there are half a dozen cops in hearing distance."

"Youíre right, as usual," Rodney sighed, going around the room and turning off all the lights except one.

"Damn, and I donít even have any witnesses."

Rodney had to laugh quietly at that. "And youíll never hear it again."

"Iíll have to work on that."

"You can try." They walked outside, and Rodney locked the door after them.

"Itís something worth working for." John led Rodney toward his car and slung Rodneyís bag into the back seat.

Rodney slid into the passenger seat and buckled the seat belt as he shut the door. "Feel free to try."

"Once we get to my place. Iíd rather not land in the ditch."

"No, that would be bad." Rodney looked out the window at the darkness of the swamp, and his shoulders slumped at the thought of his nephew somewhere out there.

Catching the movement out the corner of his eye, John reached over to place a comforting hand on Rodneyís leg. "Donít give up. Everyoneís looking for him."

"I know," Rodney whispered, covering Johnís hand with his and gripping it tightly. "I just feel like I should be doing something."

"You are. Youíre letting us do our job. And youíre making sure I get some rest so Iím at my best tomorrow."

That garnered a low, husky laugh. "Thatís what theyíre calling it now?"

"Yup." John glanced over at him, grinning. "I like it a lot better than meditating."

Rodney turned to stare at him. "You meditate?"

"Not any more. I tried it for a while a few years ago, but all I got was a headache."

"I can believe it; all that mystical mumbo-jumbo is a bunch of crap."

John snorted. "íReligion is the opiate of the massesí?"

"You said it, but Iím not arguing with it. There may be a higher power up there, but I honestly donít think he or she or it gives a flying fuck who is sleeping with whom as long as theyíre both consenting, and I guarantee that he isnít telling his preachers to fleece their flocks out of all their money."

"Hey, whoa, Iím not trying to convert you," John laughed. "And I obviously donít have issues regarding gender and sex."

"Sorry." Rodney gave a rueful smile and squeezed Johnís hand. "Ingrained habit."

"Letís work on replacing it with some more fun habits."

"Let me guess, involving my ass?"

"I knew you were a genius."

Rodney chuckled and shook his head, amused. "Just donít get us lost getting to your place."

"I donít get lost!" John growled.

"Thatís not what the other detectives told me the other day."

"Iím going to shoot them all!"

"No, you wonít and we all know it; besides, I think bullets would just bounce off that Dexís chest."

John laughed. "Very likely. Though should I be worrying that you pay more attention to his chest?" he asked with a grin as he pulled into his driveway.

"Itís hard not to notice, Detective, and looking doesnít mean I want to grope; Iíll leave that to you."

"You want me to grope Ronon?" John laughed.

"I meant Iíll touch you, fool."

"Oh good. I like that idea much better."

"I thought you might." Rodney glanced up at the small house, then over at John. "Cute place; very ĎSouthern Livingí."

John shrugged. "Itís easy to take care of." He got out of the car and grabbed Rodneyís bag, then motioned toward the house. "Coming?"

"Yeah, on my way," Rodney nodded, climbing out of the car and following John up to the house and then inside.

"You hungry? I could throw something in the microwave."

"I probably shouldnít be, but, yeah, I could eat something. A sandwich works."

"Sure." John carried Rodneyís bag into his bedroom, then went into the kitchen to rummage for sandwich fixings. "Cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, ham good for you? Or I think I have some roast beef in here..."

"The ham sounds good." Rodney poked around the living room, examining books and knickknacks before going into the kitchen. "Anything I can do to help?"

"Grab a couple of beers for us?" John suggested as he got everything out. "Mustard or something else for your sandwich?" he asked as he efficiently sliced a tomato.

"Mustardís fine," Rodney commented as he looked in the refrigerator and pulled out two beers. "Bottle opener?"

"Top drawer." John quickly put together two thick ham and cheese sandwiches and carried them to the table. Sitting down, he looked over at Rodney and smiled. "I kinda like seeing you here."

Rodney opened the bottles and carried them over to the table, handing one to John before sitting down as well. "I like it too, itísóhomey here."

"Thanks. At some point youíll meet TC too. Heís probably under the bed or something."

"TC? Under the bed? Do I want to know?"

John laughed. "My cat."

"You have a cat?"

"Yeah, heís getting up there though, so he pretty much sleeps and eats. A pretty good life if you can get it."

Rodney snickered as he took a bite of his sandwich. "That sounds pretty much like what I was doing before I met you."

"But there are so many more fun things you could be doing."

"I said, before I met you."

"See, Iíve already changed your life for the better." John grinned wickedly before adding, "Cops do it best."

"Even when they donít even know theyíre doing it," Rodney chuckled.

"Good thing Iím quick learner," John replied easily.

"And you have natural talent."

"Aw shucks. Iíd say I have a good teacher."

Rodney smirked and toasted him with his beer bottle.

"Good thing neither of us is burdened with false modesty," John chuckled.

"Whatís the point? Itís a waste of time and energy." Rodney finished up the last of his sandwich as he spoke.

John shook his head with a grin as he took another bite of his own sandwich. "And youíre all about saving time, huh, Doc?" he asked after heíd swallowed.

"When it can be better spent in more productive ways, definitely."

"Iím eating, Iím eating," John laughed before gulping down the last of his meal.

"I didnít mean right this minute, Detective," Rodney sniffed, though he was smiling slightly. "Donít choke yourself."

"I wasnít planning on it. Now or later." John put the plates in the dishwasher and leaned back against the counter, staring at Rodney. "So..."

"So, are you going to give me the twenty-five cent tour and show me where I can hang my toothbrush?"

"Sure." John gestured around the room. "This is the kitchen."

Rodneyís applause was slow and sarcastic.

John bowed slightly, grinning. "If you want to see the rest, you have to get up from the table."

"Is this better?" Rodney asked after standing and pushing his chair back under the table.

"Much. Follow me, sir, for the special tour, starting through the doorway on your left for the famous Sheppard living room."

"Scene of many a famous debauchment, Iím sure."

"With hopefully many more to come. At the end of the hall is the bathroom, with all the required fixtures."

"And upstairs?"

"Upstairs is the real den of iniquity, if youíre brave enough to follow me."

"You keep your cat in a den of iniquity? Well, this I have to see."

"Heís a cat," John snorted. "He stays wherever he damn well wants to. I donít have any input."

"If he sleeps on my face and kills me, I am not going to be impressed."

"I promise to protect you from death by cat."

"To aid and protect, eh?"

"A peace officerís job is never done," John replied virtuously.

Rodney snorted out a laugh as he followed the other man up the stairs. "If you say so."

"You could reward me for my conscientious approach to my duty." John led the way into the bedroom, laughing when he saw that TC was curled up on top of Rodneyís bag.

"That is one big cat," Rodney commented, staring at the calico animal. "Are we going to have to get a crane to move him?"

John gave Rodney a look of pure disbelief. "If you want to move him, feel free to try. Just tell me your blood type first so I can let the ambulance know what to bring."

"And just how am I supposed to get to my belongings?" Rodney asked, eyeing the cat. "In particular, the ones you suggested I bring along?"

"Huh. Good point." John heaved a sigh as he warily approached the huge cat. "Just remember who feeds you, okay? No killing the human."

TC watched him balefully as he approached, but in the end the cat suffered himself to be moved with nothing more than an irate swish of his tail.

"So what does TC mean, anyway?" Rodney asked as he watched the cat stalk to the other side of the bed, giving them a baleful glare before settling down again.

John looked at him sheepishly. "The cat."

"Very creative, Detective," Rodney snorted.

"Look at him. Do you honestly think he needs anything more?"

Glancing over at the cat, who was idly licking his paw, Rodney chuckled. "Good point."

"Yup. Besides, I really didnít want to take the chance of picking a name he didnít like and offending him," John said wryly. "At least heís off your bag now."

"Is that a hint?"

"Would I do that?"


"Iím going to start to think you donít want me," John said with an attempt at a pout.

"I simply donít want your cat to eat me if we roll on him in the throes of passion."

Johnís eyes widened in horror. "Well, normally when, erm, things start to get active, he leaves."

"Before or after he draws blood?"

"He doesnít bother himself with lesser life forms like us. Weíre beneath him."

"Hrmmm, and here I was hoping that I would be the one beneath you," Rodney murmured.

John swallowed hard. "I, uh, think I could manage that."

"Just think?" Rodney asked, arching his eyebrows as he dug into his bag and tossed John the condoms and lube, a challenging expression on his face, which had Johnís eyebrows winging up.

"I think I proved I could handle it the other night," he retorted. "What, you thought Iíd change my mind after having some time to think about it?"

"Did I say that?" Rodney asked mildly.

John paused, stared at him, and started to laugh. "You really enjoy winding people up, donít you?"

Rodney smirked as he set his bag on the floor. "Of course, it tells me what theyíre really like."

"Asshole," John snorted.

"Iíve been called worse."

"I can imagine. And Iím sure Iíll probably call you worse. And youíll be even more insulting right back. Itíll make the making up all the more fun."

Rodney smirked, though only one side of his mouth curved up. "So are you saying we have to fight before we have sex tonight? I thought this was more for comfort this time." His expression dimmed at the last.

John wrapped his arms around Rodney and drew him into a comforting hug. "I just meant for the future. Weíre both too stubborn not to fight. But not tonight."

Sinking into the embrace, Rodney rested his head against Johnís shoulder and sighed. "No, not tonight," he murmured, turning his head to nuzzle Johnís throat.

John raised a hand to cup the back of Rodneyís head, and he groaned softly. He loved the touch of Rodneyís mouth on his throat, and he could feel himself starting to harden just from that.

"God, you taste good," Rodney whispered against Johnís throat, sucking and licking at the warm, salty flesh as he rubbed against the firm body against his.

"Glad you think so," John gasped out, rocking forward. "Oh God, do that again," he groaned when Rodney carefully bit him, then did it again, his own groan mingling with Johnís.

"We really need to move this to the bed. Before I fall down," John said with a raspy chuckle.

"So move, Iím busy here," Rodney mumbled between licks of the flesh under his mouth.

"Cannibal!" John tightened his grip on Rodney to keep him close while moving toward the bed, and once they got there, John toppled them onto its giving surface.

Gasping for breath, it took a second for Rodney to answer. "You have a problem with me wanting to eat you?"

"Hell no!"

"Good answer." Rodney pulled back and smiled as he stroked his hands over Johnís back. "Though Iíd rather have you fuck me."

"I think youíd have to pull my own gun on me to stop me," John said wryly, tugging Rodneyís shirt free from his pants.

"Your cat would scare me more than your gun," Rodney gasped, arching upward so that John could get his shirt over his head, then he could return the favor.

"Iím not suicidal enough to disturb TC!" John snorted, sinking down against Rodney once their shirts were out of the way and groaning with pleasure at the sensation of skin on skin.

Rodney grunted in response and wrapped his legs around Johnís waist so that he could arch up against him. "We need to lose the pants," he rasped.

"Good plan," John agreed, but it felt too good to pull away just yet.

"It would be better in action!"

"Pushy. Very pushy." John pushed up onto all fours, then knelt back so he could unfasten his pants.

"You live with that cat; you should be used to it," Rodney commented, even as he scooted back to watch John appreciatively, his own hands working at the waistband of his pants.

"I think youíre going to outdo him. Fortunately, youíre more fun to pet."

"So pet me then!"

"Itís a good thing youíre cute when youíre demanding." John ran a hand down the center of Rodneyís chest.

Rodney sniffed. "According to my adoring fans, Iím cute all the time."

John cocked his head to one side, considering him. "Hmmm. Well, yes, I guess Iíll have to agree with that."

Rodneyís expression changed to a warm, genuine smile. "Iím glad you think so."

John leaned over as if to kiss him and at the last minute kissed the tip of his nose. "I do."

"So do already," Rodney laughed, swatting Johnís ass.

"Hey, whoís on top here?" John chuckled, reaching for the lube.

"We might need to lose the pants first," Rodney observed, trying not to snicker.

Rolling his eyes, John grabbed Rodneyís unfastened pants and tugged. "You could help a little, you know," he pointed out with a chuckle. "Lift up!"

Rodney saluted as best he could and wiggled so that John could drag his pants off.

"Good man," John praised, standing up long enough to get rid of his clothes too, then stretching out on top of Rodney. "Oh God, thatís good."

"Oh yeah," Rodney whispered, clutching at John and rocking up against him, needing the connection between them. Equally desperate for a connection after the dayís events, John lowered his head to take Rodneyís mouth in a deep kiss, his tongue sliding over Rodneyís. He immersed himself in the sound, taste, scent and feel of Rodney under him, slowly letting it make him forget everything else for a short time.

Rodney whimpered, his strong fingers digging into Johnís back as they ground together, their erections sliding along each other as sweat slicked their skin.

"God, keep doing that and Iím not going to last long enough to get inside you."

"This is good too," Rodney gasped, searching for Johnís mouth again.

John murmured his agreement against Rodneyís lips, thinking vaguely that they could always fuck later. He wasnít stopping for anything, and Rodney seemed to agree as he was bucking up against him, gripping him close with arms and legs.

"Oh God, yeah, like that," John groaned, rocking down against Rodney and moving faster. Rodney grunted in reply, twisting his hips as he arched upward, the thrust of Johnís cock along the hollow of his hip a pleasurable burning.

After the dayís tensions, John knew he wasnít going to be able to hold out long. He twisted slightly so that he was rubbing against Rodneyís cock, wanting to feel him come.

"Ahh!" Rodney cried out and tilted his head to the side to that he was sucking and biting at Johnís shoulder, his whole body tensing as he let the other man fill his senses, and came.

John felt the sudden burst of wet heat between them and moaned deeply, rocking faster as he slid more easily against Rodney.

"John," Rodney gasped, "do it."

The words seemed to trigger Johnís climax, and he groaned Rodneyís name as he came as well, their semen mixing together between them as he continued to move through the spasms.

Rodney stroked his hands over Johnís back, his legs loosening their hold as well to slide down Johnís thighs as he sighed in pleasure.

"Oh yeah, I definitely want to get used to that," John mumbled.

"Frottage?" Rodney murmured, straightening his head to look up at John.

"You," John replied simply.

"I would hope so, since you turned gay for me."

John snorted. "You should be careful of your superpower."

Rodneyís hand slid down to cup Johnís ass. "I promise to only use it for good, and only on you."

"Oh good. ĎCause if anyone else tries to crawl in bed with us, Iím siccing TC on them!"

"That would do it all right, not that I intend on bringing anyone else into bed with us."

"Iím glad to hear it. I stretched to accommodate gay, but Iím pretty sure threesomes are beyond me."

Rodney chuckled and rolled them over to kiss John. "You, me, and TC are all the threesome I want."

"Iím going to remind you that you said that when you wake up with him sitting on your chest."

"If heís sitting on my chest, I may not wake up at all!" Rodney exclaimed before realizing what heíd said and sobering as he thought of Jinto.

Seeing his expression, John drew him closer. "You will. Iíll make sure of it."

"Thank you," Rodney sighed before relaxing on top of John, his head pillowed on the other manís shoulder.

"My pleasure." John pressed a kiss to his temple. "Now get some sleep. We both need it."

"Weíre on top of the covers."

"And sticky," John sighed. "You get under the covers, and Iíll get something to clean us up so weíre comfortable."

Rodney groaned. "Youíre making me move?"

Chuckling, John sat up, bringing Rodney with him, and he supported the other man while tugging the covers free. Once that was done, he settled Rodney back down. "There, now you just have to lie there and stay awake for a couple of minutes till I get back."

"TC will make sure I stay awake."

"Iím starting to think you want me for my cat," John chuckled as he went into the bathroom to wet a cloth.

"Hardly, I was simply commenting that if I tried to leave, heíd probably trip me or something." As he spoke, Rodney held his hand out to the cat who had retreated to the far corner of the bed earlier but was now making his way back up to them.

John eyed them, a slow grin starting. "Thank God he likes you."

"Does he like all your dates or am I special?"

"He chased Tamara out of here within half an hour," John admitted. "But he also clawed her coat. When he curled up on your bag, I knew we were home free."

Rodney shifted his gaze from TC, who was now rubbing his head against his hand, to John. "Glad to hear it. Now are you going to bring that washcloth over here so we can try to sleep?"

"Still demanding," John chuckled, walking over and handing the cloth to Rodney before sliding into bed beside him.

"You really think thatís going to change?"

"I think itís about as likely as TC suddenly becoming a people person and playing with kids and puppies."

Rodney chuckled and wiped down his groin, doing the same for John, his hand lingering over the now soft flesh as he did so.

"Stop that or weíre not going to be getting any sleep anytime soon," John warned laughingly.

"Youíre saying you could get it up again that quickly?" Rodney asked, sounding amused. "Are you eighteen?"

"Hey, itís been a while. Iím making up for a drought."

Rodney shook his head, but grinned. "Uh huh."

"Maybe Iím just inspired by your magnificent ass."

"Iím touched, Detective." Rodney tossed the washcloth toward the bathroom door and settled back on the bed, yawning.

"Some would say weíre both touched in the head," John chuckled.

"Which means we should get some sleep."

"Good plan." John rolled to his side and laid his head on Rodneyís shoulder.


Sighing, John sat back up to turn the light off and then lay down again. "Happy now?"

Rodney shifted so that his head was pillowed on Johnís shoulder and his arm and leg were over Johnís chest and legs. "Now I am."

Despite everything, a smile curved Johnís lips as he fell asleep that night.

"Weíve got a plane," Ronon announced when John arrived at the station that morning.

"Thank God," John said fervently, knowing it would greatly increase their chances of finding Jinto and the other kids.

"Brent Lorne from Suffolk should be at the air strip around nine," Ford added.

John nodded. "Heís a good pilot. Heíll get us in close enough to get a good look at the swamp. And hopefully to find where the Wraithes are holing up."

Teyla nodded. "Hopefully without alerting them to our presence."

"Yeah, we donít want to spook them into running or hurting the kids if they havenít already. And weíre hoping they havenít."

The other three nodded seriously before Ronon continued, "Theyíve got some balls though, taking the Halling kid right from McKayís yard."

John glared. "For which Iím sure Ted Halling would happily rip them apart, so letís make sure we get to them first."

"Iíd be more worried about his wife."

"Good point," John agreed with a wry smile. "The McKay siblings can be pretty damn scary when they want to be."

"Speaking of the sibling, howíd you sleep last night, Shep?" Ford asked.

"Great, thanks." John regarded him narrowly.

"Iím sure Aiden was just asking out of courtesy," Teyla said quickly, shooting a narrow-eyed gaze at the young man.

"Sure," Aiden agreed. "Just wanted to make sure that McKay didnít snore or anything and keep you up."

"You know, Iím starting to think the paperwork for firing my gun might be worth it," John observed.

"He sleeps through that cat of his snoring; I doubt McKay could be any louder than that," Ronon commented.

John chuckled. "They had a happy symphony going when I left this morning," he admitted. "Fortunately, they seem to like each other."

"That cat actually likes him?" Ronon asked, eyes widening as he rubbed the thin scars on his arm heíd gotten when trying to pet the beast.

"Curled up beside him the minute I got up this morning and hissed at me when he thought I might plan to get back into bed," John replied cheerfully.

"McKay or TC?"

"Rodney doesnít hiss," John laughed.

"But does he purr?"

"Thatís privileged information."

"Which weíll hear about eventually," Teyla chuckled. "Remember that redhead?"

After studying Sheppardís face, Ronon shook his head slowly. "No, I donít think we will. Not this time."

Ford stared at John, his dark eyes wide. "Youíre serious?"

John rolled his eyes. "Do you really think Iíd be doing this if I wasnít?"

"No, I guess not..."

"See, thereís a reason you made detective," Ronon snorted.

"Could we forget about my personal life and concentrate on the case?" John groaned.

"Please!" Ford begged.

Teyla, Ronon and John all stared at him. "Do you have a problem with this, Ford?" John asked in a neutral tone.

He shifted slightly in his seat. "No, but itís just weird, all right?"

Sheppard shrugged and offered him a wry grin. "If you think itís weird, you should try it from where Iím sitting."

Ford shook his head. "Thatís okay; Iíll leave you to your moody cat and the moody musician, thanks."

Johnís response was a bright smile. "Iím more than happy with that. And now I think itís time for us to get our asses out to the airport."

"We were just waiting for you," Teyla commented as the others stood.

"Maybe Lorneíll let you fly for a while, Shep," Ronon said as they headed out to their cars.

John smiled wryly, remembering his dream of being a pilot that hadnít quite worked out. "Maybe another time."

"Play your cards right and maybe McKay will buy you a plane."

John flipped Ronon off before getting into his car with Ford. "Watch it or Iíll push you out of this plane!" he yelled after the other detective.

"You do that, youíre going to have a hell of a lot of paperwork to fill out," Ford commented as he buckled himself in.

"Iím starting to think it would be worth it!" John grumbled. "Youíd think no one ever fell for a guy before."

"I think the thing thatís sticking with us is until recently you liked your dates a lot curvier."

"Yeah," John sighed. "Iím well aware of that. And I sure as hell wasnít looking for this, let alone expecting it, but I think Rodney may be the best thing thatís ever happened to me, and Iím not going to let that go just because he happens to have a dick instead of tits."

"Hey, easy, Shep, like I said, I donít have a problem with it; itís just sort of weird is all."

John sighed again. "Sorry. Itís kind of weirding me out too, I guess, but itís not going away, and I really donít want it to."

Ford gave a slight smile. "Must be nice."

"Yeah, it really is. And itíll be even better if I can tell him we found his nephew."

"God, yes, and all the others as well. Hopefully weíll be able to find something from the air."

"We have to. Weíre running out of options. And time."

"Good luck today," Rodney sighed as he watched John get ready to leave several days later.

John looked over his shoulder, then went over to hug Rodney. "Donít give up hope."

"Iím trying; at least youíre doing something."

"So write an ode to me," John teased, trying to cheer him a little. He knew that each passing day brought Jintoís familyís hopes that much lower, but there really wasnít anything they could do but wait.

"An ode?" Rodney looked up at him, his expression incredulous.

"Donít you think I deserve one?"

Rodney snorted. "Iíll think about it."

"Maybe a symphony," John mused.

"Iím thinking cheesy commercial jingle."

"I think I deserve more than a Big Mac!"

"Well, you do have the special sauce down, and I like your buns," Rodney replied deadpan.

After a momentís shocked staring, John burst into laughter. "Stop, stop!" he begged.

"And then thereís your Ďmeatí, itís pretty tasty and juicy too..."

Realizing that nothing else would work, John grabbed him and kissed him.

Rodney smiled slightly and ran a hand down Johnís chest as he straightened up. "All right, go on; TC and I will keep the home fires burning, and maybe Iíll have something to play for you when you get back."

"Iíll be looking forward to it." With another quick kiss and a wave, John was gone, heading back out into the swamp to search for any sign of the missing children.

Rodney sighed and looked over at the huge, calico cat. "Looks like itís you and me again."

TC stared up at him and purred.

"Yeah, thatís just about what I thought youíd say," Rodney commented, smiling slightly as he straightened up the bed and grabbed his shoes.

Heading downstairs to the kitchen, he made a pot of coffee and toasted himself a bagel, trying to distract himself with the newspaper but growing more and more fidgety as the morning wore on.

"Okay, Iím bored," he commented to TC, who yawned back at him, baring a mouth full of sharp teeth. "Yes, yes, I know I could play something, but I hate electronic keyboards, as you very well know, and as you will not tell John, got it?"

TC yawned again and stretched out a hind leg to groom himself.

"Fine lot of help you are." Grumbling to himself, Rodney cleaned up the remains of his breakfast and poured himself another cup of coffee before prowling around the house, growing more agitated every minute.

"Thatís it, Iím going home," he announced. "I need some more clothes, and I can play some as wellóof course it figures that my muse returns when Iím not able to do anything about it! An hour or two at the most, just enough to get an idea of where this is going, then Iíll come back. No need for John to know, itíll just worry him."

He nodded sharply at the last and reached for a phone book to call a taxi. "Though if he comes home and Iím not here, heíll worry... Fine, you browbeat me into it; Iíll leave him a note, and when Iím back before he comes home, I can just get rid of it. Are you happy now? Good."

After scrawling a note and sticking it beneath a sunflower magnet on the fridge, Rodney pulled on his shoes and grabbed his keys and the extra set John had given him. The taxi pulled up outside, and he gave TC a quick pat before heading out, locking the door, then getting inside and giving the driver directions to his house.

Once there, hours flew by as he first answered messages from his irate manager, then set to work, breathing a profound sigh of relief as the music flowed more effortlessly than it had in months, and if at times the melody was unsettling or depressing, at least it was music, his god, his first true love.

After making a notation on the score sheets he had spread out on the music stand, Rodney sighed in pleasure and leaned back, setting the pencil down to rub at his lower back. "God, that felt good," he murmured, smiling to himself and preparing to gather everything up to take back to Johnís place. "Just need to call the cab and that will be that."

Rolling the sheets up, he put them under his arm and wandered into the kitchen to make the call, making sure it would arrive quickly before hanging up again and returning to the front of the houses to watch for his ride. The afternoon sun slanted shadows throughout the room, making Rodney somewhat uneasy, and he was reaching for the light switch when one of the shadows moved, startling a yelp from him.

"Who are you? What do you want?" he snapped, taking an involuntary step backward when a tall, thin man emerged from the dimness and smiled cruelly.

"You have sinned, and now you must repent. We can save the lambs, but there must be a sacrifice."

"Sacrifice? Lambs?" The sheets of music fell to the floor as Rodney backed up, staring at the white-haired intruder for a second more before turning and bolting for the back of the house, hoping to get outside. He made it to the kitchen and was flinging open the back door when another man appeared in the doorway, blocking his exit and catching his arm in an iron grip, at the same time covering his face with a cloth that smelled of chemicals.

Reflexively Rodney took a deep breath to shout, and his vision narrowed before everything went black.

It had been a long day with not a lot to show for it, and John was looking forward to getting home, curling up beside Rodney and just vegging for a while. For someone so acerbic, Rodney could be incredibly comfortable to be with... when he chose to be. He reminded John of TC in that.

The thought had a smile on Johnís lips as he let himself into the house, a little surprised when Rodney didnít meet him. Not that Rodney was any version of June Cleaver, but he usually at least met John with a kiss before starting to insult him. Tonight, however, the house felt empty, the way it had before Rodney had moved in... had come to stay for a while, and Johnís eyes narrowed.

"He wouldnít have!" He stalked through the house, frowning when he saw TC alone on Rodneyís pillow. Johnís frown grew darker as he moved through each room, and he swore when he reached the kitchen and found the note that Rodney had left for him. John glanced up at the clock, seeing that it was just as late as heíd thought, long past the time that Rodney should have been back.

He pulled out his cell phone, unwilling to waste time trying to figure out where Rodney had left the cordless this time, and he quickly called Rodneyís house. "Come on, pick up. Pick up! Fuck!" John let it ring and ring, at first telling himself that Rodney was just distracted by his music, but by the fifth time heíd called back after the machine picked up, the excuse was wearing thin.

Trying to remain calm, John called the cab company that he knew Rodney preferred and quickly learned what time Rodney had left. And then his heart nearly stopped when the dispatcher, a woman heíd dated in high school and whoíd asked him to be the godfather to her third son, told him that Rodney had called for a cab to pick him up more than two hours earlier, but when it got there, no one was home.

John had no idea what he said to Joelle, but the next thing he knew he was in his car, siren blaring, heading for Rodneyís house. He called for backup, explaining the situation in terse phrases as he prayed harder than heíd ever prayed before. When he arrived at the house, he bolted from the car, not even bothering to turn it off before running for the porch.

"Rodney? Damn it, Rodney, answer me!" Finding the front door unlocked, he froze for a moment, then drew his weapon as he cautiously stepped inside. His eyes went to the scattered sheets of music on the floor, scored in Rodneyís hand, and his heart rose into his mouth. Rodney would never have allowed his music to lie on the floor like that.

John slowly crouched down and gathered the sheets, neatly squaring them before laying them on a table and continuing through the house. A soft groan exploded from him when he reached the kitchen and saw the back door standing open. He stepped through it, feeling as if heíd been sucker punched when he spotted a torn piece of fabric caught on a rough spot on the door jamb. He knew it was from the shirt that Rodney had been wearing.

Not touching it, he walked across the porch and stepped down on the first step. Rain sheeted down over his anguished face as he stared out and opened his mouth on a low moan of pain. "RODNEY!"

"Oh fuck, what did I drink last night?" Rodney groaned as he rolled to his side and felt his stomach flip, making him gag.

"We are going to save the children by cleansing them. But you..." The tall, skinny, pallid man with long, scraggly white hair peered down at Rodney, his lip curling contemptuously. "You revel in your sins. There is only one way to cleanse you."

"Children?" Rodney asked before wiping his mouth and looking up at the man. "Oh fuck, youíre one of the Wraithes, arenít you? Those kids didnít do anything; let them go home, okay? You have me; just let them go home."

"Once we have removed the danger and taught them the right path, we will send them home. Children are innocent and must be protected from those like you. You spread your filth and corrupt everything. The other one has been tainted by you and will have to be cleansed as well."

"Other one? No, there is no other one, just me. Iím the bad influence, and these kids didnít see or do anything; let them go home!" Rodney lurched to his knees and gagged again as the drug rolled over him.

"They havenít yet learned what must be done with filth like you. Soon, soon we will be able to send them back and know that they will remain safe. For now, we must continue to protect them, shield them from the sight of those like you."

Steve Wraithe drew a hunting knife out and held it up so that the light reflected off it, making sure Rodney could see it. "I will let all the sin from your foul body."

"I never touched them!" Rodney shrieked, scooting back away from the knife and the man who was holding it. "I didnít want them around! They didnít see anything!"

"The sinful must be cleansed," Wraithe repeated, moving forward with a fanatical gleam in his eyes. Despite Rodneyís attempts to writhe away, he brought the knife down on the musicianís arm, slashing the forearm. "We will let the evil seep out of you before we continue." Without another word, he turned and left, locking Rodney in again.

Curving his wounded arm in close to his chest, Rodney clamped his hand over the slashed flesh, watching the blood seep between his fingers as he rocked back and forth. "John. Youíd better get here soon," he whimpered as he huddled in the corner of the room.

"Halling, your dogs have to find a trail," John said desperately, clutching at the manís arm. "This is different, I can feel it. Rodneyís different from the kids, and I donít think we have much time."

"The trail ends at the same place!" The other man snapped, tension radiating from him as he turned to look at the detective. "I canít make them find a scent where there is none. Donít you think that I would if I could? Itís my son out there!"

"Sorry, sorry, I know. I know." John turned to stare out over the swamp. "But itís Rodney too. And... I think theyíre going to kill him," he whispered desperately.

"Then you need to find him; Iíve done all I can." Halling looked out over the swamp, and his shoulders slumped.

"Oh God, I donít know what else to do," John murmured.

"Lorne radioed that heís going to make another pass over the swamp with a heat detector," Ronon commented as he walked up to them.

John nodded. "Weíll have to hope he finds something." He took a deep breath. "If the only thing I can do is to walk into the swamp and start turning over every bush, thatís what Iím going to do."

"And what that will get you is bitten by a water moccasin or lost," Teyla added as she joined them. "When we have information we move, John. Not before."

"I canít just stand here and wait," John said desperately.

"And having you lost in the swamp will only divide our resources more."

Johnís shoulders slumped, and he nodded reluctantly. "I only just found him," he said softly.

Teyla placed her hand on his arm and tightened her fingers on him. "And youíll find him again," she said quietly, looking out over the swamp.

"I hope youíre right. If they hurt him..."

"If youíre going to kill me, would you just kill me and get it over with!"

"You are not yet purified enough." Both Wraithes moved toward him, knives bare in their hands. "We need to remove the parts that have offended, the hands that touched impurely... and the other." They continued advancing, only to stop when there was a cry outside Rodneyís cell.

They looked at each and turned, ignoring Rodney in favor of finding out what was happening.

"We want to hear more about what it takes to live a pure life!" Jinto yelled.

"Yeah, we need to know how to be pure," Gene added after being elbowed in the side.

Steve hesitated, looking over his shoulder at McKay, then nodded to his brother. "This one can wait. The children must be saved."

"The children are the future," Bob repeated tonelessly, his blank gaze turning from McKay to the children.

Jinto shuddered but said, "Tell us how to avoid being tainted." He carefully didnít look past them at his uncle.

"You must avoid temptation. You must avoid anything that would lead you to sin for that will lead to punishment."

"But how can we know what would lead to sin?" Jinto nearly sighed with relief when the one who wasnít talking reached back to shut and lock the door to his uncleís cell.

"Impure thoughts lead to sin!" Steve screamed while Rodney looked through the window in the door of his room, shaking his head violently at his nephew.

Jinto flinched back. "Then weíll only think pure thoughts," he said hastily.

"Pure thought, only pure thoughts," Bobby, one of the other children, echoed hollowly.

Jinto glanced over at him and looked ever more afraid than when he looked at the Wraithes.

"They donít have anything to do with what I was doing!" Rodney shouted when the Wraithe brothers leaned in toward his nephew.

Steve looked over his shoulder at McKay. "We know you have not corrupted them yet. They can still be cleansed of your taint and saved." He turned back to the children. "Go back to your beds and pray. Itís your only salvation."

"Weíre hungry," another of the boys whimpered.

"Privation purifies the soul! Now go!"

The children all scuttled back toward their room while Rodney stared at the brothers defiantly. "Thereís no reason to hurt them. Are you that afraid of anything different than yourselves?í

"We must purify ourselves before we can cleanse you without taking on your evil. Be silent or we will cut out your tongue!"

"And how do you purify yourselves," Rodney shot back, beyond caring what they would do to him, "by doing each other?"

Bob lunged toward the door, intent on punishing Rodney, but Steve caught his arm and drew him back. "Do not allow his filth to touch you. We have to be pure to deal with him. We have to pray and cleanse ourselves."

"Boo hoo, poor babies," Rodney railed as the Wraithe brothers started back to the house.

"Repent of your sins!" Bob screamed before they disappeared inside.

"Oh god, Iím going to die, Iím going to die," Rodney whimpered, sinking down beside the door and rocking back and forth. "John, get your ass out here and kill them please." The last was added with an almost hysterical note.

"You found something?" John stared almost prayerfully at Lorne. "Itís them?"

"Itís them or a hell of a lot of gators," the pilot commented, pulling his sunglasses off and shrugging at the other man.

"So how do we get there?" Ford asked.

"Thereís what you could optimistically call a road leading it. It starts a couple miles past McKayís place. But itís not going to be fast. It winds around a lot."

"Which is why youíll be taking us," John indicated his partners, "in your bird."

Lorne nodded. "I figured. Weíll be refueled in a few more minutes and ready to go."

"The rest of you follow on the road," John ordered, looking at the other cops. "Lead the ambulances in. Weíre going to need two for the kids and Rodney."

"Are you two freaks done praying yet?" Rodney croaked, shaking his head to try and dispel the dizziness brought on by the lack of food.

Rather than replying verbally, they opened the cell, came in, and started beating him. Fists impacted Rodneyís ribs, his face, any part of him that was exposed as he tried to curl up protectively. The worst part was that it was all done in an eerie silence, aside from the panting breaths of exertion and Rodneyís cries.

"Stop hitting Uncle Rodney!" Jinto screamed from the house, flailing at the door and trying to rally the other boys to his cause, but they were too traumatized, cowering in silence at the sides of the room.

The Wraithe brothers ignored the boyís yells, intent on Ďpurifyingí the one they considered to be so sinful.

"Worried you might be attracted to it yourself?" Rodney gasped between groans as their fists impacted with his body.

"Your filth cannot touch us," one of them rasped. Steve stood up, backing away to pick up his knife.

"Careful, you might get sick from my blood," Rodney groaned as he lay curled on the floor, trying to protect his battered ribs and face.

Both brothers leaped away, exclaiming in disgust. "We should have known you would be diseased!"

"Yeah," Rodney panted, "so if you get near me, you might get it yourselves."

"We are pure and cannot be touched by that filth." They looked at each other. "Itís time."

Rodney spat blood at them both and drew himself up as much as possible. "Sure, go ahead, do what you want; Iím not going to go down easy though!"

"Evil never does." They started toward him.

"Stop right there or Iíll shoot!"

"Oh, thank god," Rodney whispered as the two men whirled around, knives held at the ready.

"Drop the knives," John said, his gun never wavering from the Wraithe on the left, knowing that Ford had the other one covered.

"NO!" The elder Wraithe screamed before turning and lunging at their captive, intending to put an end to him.

"John!" Rodney shouted, backing away as much as possible.

"Stop," John yelled again, then fired. As if in slow motion, he saw Wraitheís momentum carry him forward another step before he crumpled to the ground at Rodneyís feet, the knife slamming into the floor only inches from him.

"John, John, weíre here!" Jinto shrieked from the house, the sound piercing Rodneyís eardrums as everything went into slow motion, one white-haired brother collapsing to the ground as the other whirled, his knife swinging against the air before being overwhelmed by what seemed to be the majority of the South Suffolk police department.

"Weíre coming to get you out, Jinto; youíre okay now," John yelled back as he rushed toward Rodney. Dropping to his knees beside his lover, he started to reach for him, then hesitated, not wanting to hurt him.

"Get the kids," Rodney gasped, though all he wanted was to grab John and hide in his embrace.

"Teyla and Ronon are getting them; theyíre safe." John looked up when there was a commotion at the door, just in time to see Jinto duck around everyone and fly into the room, throwing himself at John and Rodney. John quickly caught him, hugging him close.

"Iím glad to see youíre all right, Jinto."

"Iím fine. But they hurt Uncle Rodney!" His lip quivered as he fought back tears now that it was all over.

"Iím okay, Jinto," Rodney gasped, managing a sickly smile as he crawled toward the other two. "And it took you long enough, Detective."

"Sorry, Doc, I stopped for drive-through on the way here," John said, trying to smile. He reached for Rodneyís hand, gripping it desperately.

"Hope they had a good chicken sandwich," Rodney shot back before grimacing and pulling his arm back.

"Pretty good, yeah." John tried to grin at him. "Are you really okay?" he mouthed over Jintoís head.

"Iíll let you know," Rodney mouthed back before his vision wavered and he collapsed, Jintoís cry of alarm the last thing he heard before darkness claimed him.

"Youíre sure heís all right, Doctor?" John asked for probably the tenth time as he waited to be allowed to see Rodney. He hated hospital waiting rooms, reminded of when his mother had died, but at least it seemed that Rodney was going to be fine.

"Where is my son? Where is my brother?" Jeannie shrieked as she raced into the emergency room.

"Jeannie!" John spun away from the doctor to intercept her. "Jintoís just being checked over, and youíll be able to take him home soon. Rodney... thatís what I was just trying to find out." He turned his gaze back to the doctor.

"Mr. McKay is in recovery; heís suffering from low blood sugar as well as several serious cuts and bruises, but he should be fine."

John let his eyes close for a moment in pure relief. "Thank God. When can I see him?"

"Iím sorry, Detective, only immediate family can see him at this time."

"Doctor, John is immediate family," Jeannie immediately snapped. "Heís the one Rodneyís going to want to see!"

"Mom?" came a querulous call from one of the side rooms. "Mom, donít yell at the doctors."

"Jinto!" Jeannie whirled to run toward her sonís voice, then paused long enough to glare at the hapless doctor. "Let John see my brother!" The blue eyes glared for a second before she disappeared into the room where Jinto waited.

The doctor sighed and shook his head but stepped aside. "Heís still asleep, so donít expect to get any information from him, Detective."

John gawked at him. "Information? Did you miss the part where I said weíre living together? I just want to be with him!"

"Then go be with him, Detective, but keep your voice down! This is a hospital, you know."

"Gee, and here I thought it was a toy store." John rolled his eyes before heading for Rodneyís room. He paused in the doorway, eyes cataloging every visible injury, and he wished he could inflict every one of them on the Wraithes.

"You really need to stop yelling," Rodney mumbled as he opened his eyes briefly. "It makes my head hurt."

"Whatever you want," John promised, moving to the side of the bed to take Rodneyís hand.

"Good. Thatís good. Much better than wanting to beat or cut the sin out of me."

John shuddered, and his hand tightened on Rodneyís. "I thought Iíd lost you," he whispered.

"Took you long enough to find us," Rodney grumped. "Did you get them?"

"Yeah, we got them." John decided Rodney didnít need a reminder that one was currently with the coroner.

"Oh good. Mind if I go to sleep now? I really feel like shit." Rodney attempted to tighten his fingers around Johnís but failed.

"Go ahead. Iím not going anywhere." John sat down in the chair next to the bed, still holding Rodneyís hand, and simply watched him.

There was a mountain of paperwork to complete, but John didnít give a damn, and no one expected him to stay at the office to do it, not after all that happened.

"Take a few days, Shep. Weíll get started on everything, and you can look it over and finish off when you get back," Ford offered.

John nodded. "Yeah, I need some time at home. With Rodney." He closed his eyes briefly, remembering his terror that heíd never have the chance, and Teyla laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder.

"Go," she murmured. "You need each other right now."

John walked over to where Rodney was sitting after giving his statement, and he reached for the musicianís hand. "Ready to go home?"

Rodney looked up and attempted a wan smile, the bruises and dark circles under his eyes making them look shadowed. "That depends, am I allowed to?"

"Yup, youíre a free man." John tightened his grip on Rodneyís fingers. "We just need to swing by my place and pick up TC if you want to go to your house."

"No." Rodneyís hand clenched around Johnís. "I mean, thatís all right; you donít need to move TC."

John frowned slightly, but he let it go. Time enough to deal with it if Rodney was still unwilling to face his own home in a day or two. For now, he just wanted Rodney to feel safe and to hold him. "Weíll have to order in. Iím pretty sure everything in the place is stale by now."

Rodney clambered slowly to his feet, wincing as his many bruises pulled. "Honestly, stale or not, it sounds good to me."

Pure murderous fury flashed across Johnís face for an instant before he pulled Rodney into a hug. "Iím sure I have something to tide us over till whatever we order arrives."

"Whatever it is, Iím sure itíll be fine," Rodney soothed, stroking Johnís arm with his free hand.

John smiled wryly. "Arenít I supposed to be the one comforting you?"

"You just looked a little... murderous there, and while I certainly appreciated it earlier, itís a little spooky right now."

"Hey, you never have to be scared of me. But I wonít deny that Iíd love to make them pay for what they did to you and to those kids."

"As would I, but Iíll put my faith in the justice system this onceóand why are we standing here when we could be going to get food?"

"Because I needed to just hold you for a minute," John admitted, finally loosening his grip and stepping back. "So letís go."

"Not a problemóthe holding part, I mean. In fact Iím going to demand more once I have something in my stomach; the food they gave me at the hospital barely fit the category."

John nodded. "Actually, I think youíd need my gun to keep me away from you, and Iím not sure even that would do it." He kept hold of Rodneyís hand until he had to let go for them to get into the car.

Rodney shuddered and gripped Johnís hand tightly. "No talking about guns or getting shot, all right?"

"Promise." John leaned over to kiss him, then walked around the car to slide behind the wheel.

Moving more slowly than normal, Rodney climbed in as well and buckled himself in. "You have no idea how much I am looking forward to a bed."

"And you have no idea how much I like the idea of being there with you."

"Actually, I probably do." Rodney glanced over at John for a moment.

John smiled faintly. "Yeah, I suppose you do at that." He started the car, pulling away from the police station and taking Rodney home.

Rodney smiled faintly and leaned back in the seat, reaching over for Johnís hand as he let his eyes slip mostly closed and tried to relax. John let out a soft breath, and he left his hand in Rodneyís, driving with his left as they both took comfort from the touch.

"I hope you managed to save my music before your technicians tromped all over my house," Rodney commented after a moment.

John chuckled a bit raggedly. "I even put the sheets back in order."

"Good man, otherwise I would have had to file a complaint with your boss."

"I think I know how to get around that. With you, that is," John added hastily. "Iíve been looking forward to hearing you play it."

Rodney gave a soft laugh and nodded. "True and Iím glad Iíll be able to; I really wasnít looking forward to losing my fingers there."

Johnís fingers tightened on Rodneyís as the detective shuddered convulsively. "If weíd been any later..." He swallowed hard. "Thank God we found you."

"No, thank god you found me."

"There was never any chance I wouldnít." John remembered days of little to no sleep and the constant terror that drove him.

"Those poor kids...," Rodney murmured.

"At least theyíre home now. Theyíre alive, even if traumatized. Itís still better than what might have happened." Despite his words, John winced as he remembered the bruised looks in wide eyes that had lost hope.

Rodney nodded and brought Johnís hand up to his face so he could rub his cheek against it. "Malnourishment and being scared they can get over; other things would have been a lot worse."

"Yeah, considering the possibilities, things turned out fairly well for those kids. I can just imagine what their parents have been imagining. We got everyone back alive and physically undamaged. Thatís one hell of a win."

"Better watch it or theyíll elect you chief next election."

John made a face. "I donít think that would leave me enough free time to explore my new career as a kept man."

"Kept man, my ass," Rodney grumbled, "you can be head of my security people."

"Which would entail being handcuffed to you at all times!"

"That would make playing a challenge."

"But I would know you were safe."

"You know, this behavior can be called almost stalkerish."

"You complaining?"

"Not when it gets me hot straight boys."

John burst into laughter and had to pull over for a moment for fear of driving off the road. "Better make that singular, Doc."

"True, not when it comes to one hot, not-so-straight-now boy."

"Much better." John leaned over to kiss Rodney.

"Itís a good thing you arenít driving, or weíd be in a ditch."

"Which would be why I pulled over," John pointed out virtuously.

"And if I pass out from hypoglycemia, itís going to mean another trip to the hospital."

"Demanding as ever," John muttered fondly as he started driving again.

"Your cat is downstairs," Rodney commented as they walked in the door to see TC waiting for them on the sofa.

"Get ready to catch!" John exclaimed even as TC launched himself at Rodney, purring madly.

Eyes wide, Rodney stared down at the huge cat in his arms before burying his face in the soft fur, his shoulders rising as he took a shaky breath.

"He missed you. We both did."

"So why arenít you feeding me," Rodney mumbled though his voice sounded suspiciously thick.

"Because I need to just look at you, back where you belong, for a minute," John admitted. "Then Iíll feed you."

Rodney slowly raised his face from TCís side, and his eyes were bright as he looked over at John. "I thought Iíd never see you again."

John shook his head. "I wasnít going to let that happen." He raised a hand to cup Rodneyís cheek for a moment before smiling crookedly in an attempt to relieve the sudden tension. "After all, you havenít fucked me yet."

"Ahh, the return of the romance," Rodney choked out, his arms tightening on TC so that the cat yowled and jumped down to the floor. "From both of you."

"Wouldnít want you to think we were pod people." John smirked, albeit somewhat shakily, and sauntered down the hall toward the kitchen.

"Or that evil aliens had dripped black goo in your eyes," Rodney commented, following after John and doing his best to get a grip on his rampant emotions.

"My nose isnít that big! And Iím prettier!" John pretended to pout.

"Than Krycek? Iím not sure about that..."

"I meant Mulder. And should I be worrying about you meeting up with Krycek somewhere?" John laughed. "Stay away from Hollywood!"

"I know you meant Mulder; I was ignoring the thought of him, thank you."

"Good. Stick to thinking about me while I see what I have to feed you."

Rodney sat down at the kitchen table, soaking in the normalcy of the room. "Cereal would be good, especially that sweet, rot your teeth kind I know you have at the back of the cupboard."

"Lemme just check if the milkís still good." John grabbed a bowl and the cereal and set them on the table on his way to the fridge. "Yup, just." He set it down in front of Rodney before going to rummage through the top drawer for his take out menus. "Chinese or pizza?"

"Piffa," Rodney mumbled around a mouthful of cereal heíd taken straight from the box before pouring a bowlful and splashing milk on it. "But noó"

"Yes, yes, I remember," John said hastily, cutting off the list of Rodneyís topping dislikes. He placed the order and sat down across from Rodney, just watching him.

Rodney shoveled cereal into his mouth with single-minded intent, but Johnís stare finally got to him, and he looked up, eyes narrowed. "What?"

"Iím glad youíre back," John said simply.

"Oh." Rodney ducked his head before looking at John again. "Me too."

"Donít do that again, okay?"

"I think I can safely agree to that."

"Good. I really didnít need fear as a motivator to prove to me just how much I really do love you."

"And I really prefer not being driven to a near heart attack for the same reason, so no, but we are getting you a decent piano here."

"I can live with that." John stood up and moved his chair beside Rodney before sitting back down, their legs touching now.

"So are weó" Rodney paused and stuffed more cereal in his mouth. "Good, thatís good."

John grinned, relieved by the normalcy of Rodney eating. "Are we what?"

A flush crept up Rodneyís cheeks, and he cleared his throat. "It simply sounded to me as if we were getting very domestic together."

"Ah, you noticed that. I was kinda hoping to get you used to it before you questioned it." John looked faintly abashed.

"I think I noticed it when you put my toothbrush in the cup next to yours."

"And I donít recall hearing any complaints or noticing you running for the door, so maybe youíre okay with that?"

"If I hadnít been, I wouldnít have been here to begin with; as you may recall, I have about a hundred relatives in the area."

"Good point. But you could have been here for my cat. TCís unique."

"Detective, as unique as your cat is, I have no desire to be intimate with him."

"But you do want to be intimate with me?" John let a hand drop to Rodneyís thigh.

"Considering I have been, I would say you know the answer to that."

"Just checking." John smiled faintly.

"And considering Iím torn between eating and touching you, you can be sure the answer is still yes." As he spoke, Rodney poured himself another bowl of cereal.

"Now I know itís true love," John chuckled. "But donít choke yourself. Eat. Iím not going anywhere."

"If you tried, TC would stop you," Rodney commented as he finished his cereal.

"Probably," John chuckled. "Heís been sleeping on your pillow and spitting at me if I tried to move him."

"Whatís he going to do when I try to use it then?"

"Judging by the greeting you got? Purr."

Rodney smirked and leaned back in his chair, though he kept his leg pressed against Johnís. "Smart cat."

"Iím perfectly willing to purr too," John said plaintively.

"Not that Iím not exceedingly interested in causing that, but I may have to take a nap before we get to there."

"Thatís good too. Just donít be surprised if you wake up with me on top of you."

Rodney chuckled and shook his head. "And TC on top of you?"

"Very likely. I think weíre all looking for a little reassurance tonight."

Nodding, Rodney yawned widely and rubbed at his scruffy chin with one hand. "And I know you ordered that pizza, but if I sit here much longer, Iím going to fall asleep on the table."

John had just opened his mouth to suggest that Rodney go to bed and heíd join him as soon as the pizza arrived when the doorbell rang. "Looks like you have a choice. Iíll be right back."

"Just make sure itís the pizza guy," Rodney cautioned.

"Of course." John squeezed Rodneyís hand before going to the front door and paying for the food, then bringing it back. The mouth-watering aromas of garlic, tomato sauce and cheese filled the air, and Johnís stomach rumbled.

"Okay, that was paranoid, wasnít it?" Rodney asked, eyeing the pizza and putting off his nap in favor of grabbing a slice and biting into it, groaning in pleasure at the flavor.

"I think youíre entitled. Weíre all going to be a little spooked for a while." John took a big bite of his pizza, realizing how hungry he was.

"Yeah, Jeannieís going to be tyrano-mother now; Jintoís going to have her trailing him until heís forty-five."

"Jintoís not the only one whoís going to find himself joined at the hip."

"Honestly, Iíd prefer to be joined by another body part if you must know." Rodney finished his slice and yawned again even as he wiped his mouth.

"And Iíd prefer you to be conscious for that," John laughed.

"It is better that way, unless thatís what you had planned for being on top of me when I napped."

"Uh no, I was planning to get some sleep too. I want us both alert for this."

"Yeah that makes it better," Rodney commented, hiding another yawn. "You want to bring that upstairs?"

"Good planning. That way we can munch between innings." John grabbed the box with one hand and Rodneyís hand with the other.

Squeezing Johnís fingers, Rodney stood up, and they walked up the stairs together, TC trailing along behind them. "Itís a good thing that pizzaís as good cold as hot."

"I think it might even be better," John said after thinking about it. "Except for that very first bite when itís really hot and runny, of course."

"Mmm, yeah, but we had that so we can deal with the cold; after the nap and whatever else comes up."

"I can pretty much guarantee whatís going to come up."

"Somehow I thought you might say that." They reached the bedroom, and Rodney let go of Johnís hand to go to the bathroom, grabbing his toothbrush and scrubbing his teeth.

John folded down the covers, keeping Rodney in his line of sight, then sat down on the edge of the bed to wait for him.

"Oh god thatís better," Rodney sighed as he came out of the bathroom, stripping off the scrub shirt and pants the hospital had given him and crawling into bed. John stood up just long enough to shed his clothes, then slid in next to Rodney and wrapped himself around the other man, who burrowed in as closely as possible to him, hiding his face in the hollow of Johnís throat. Johnís arms tightened convulsively around him, and he sighed softly, slowly relaxing as he inhaled the scent that said Rodney to him.

"I was wrong," Rodney muttered, "this is better."

"This is perfect."

"Mmm." Rodney gave a deep sigh and somehow squirmed closer, mumbling unintelligibly before relaxing into an exhausted sleep.

John lay awake for a long time, simply feeling Rodney against him, something that heíd started to doubt heíd ever feel again. He turned his head slightly, brushing his lips over Rodneyís temple. "Howíd you do this to me?" he murmured, barely audibly. "I hope you know youíre stuck with me now." He finally closed his eyes and allowed himself to fall asleep.

"Whaówhereóno!" Rodney shouted, coming awake and trying to sit up only to find himself trapped beneath a heavy body he tried to push off himself.

John rolled to the side, catching hold of a hand. "Hey, itís me. Itís okay; youíre okay. Weíre home."

"Home?" Rodney sat half-way up and looked around before flopping back onto the bed. "Shit; sorry. I just had aóI thought I was there."

"I know." John moved closer again and slid his arms around Rodney. "Itís okay."

Rodney burrowed in closer, holding onto John as the last of the nightmare faded, finally sighing when he felt some semblance of normalcy return. "Now it is."

"Wanna try for better than okay?" John tried to leer at him.

"Better like what?" Rodney asked, one corner of his mouth twisting into a smile.

"Well, you know, thereís something we havenít tried." And that John had been afraid theyíd never get a chance to try.

Rodney frowned slightly as he pulled back to look into Johnís eyes. "And just what is that?"

Johnís eyebrows rose. "You donít know? I would think you would have noticed that you havenít fucked me yet."

"Ióyouó" Rodney sputtered before grinding to a halt and staring at John. "Well, no, I havenít, but I wasnít going to press for something you didnít seem to want; I was just going to enjoy what we had together."

"You know, for a guy whoís known for his temper, you can really be awfully sweet." John grinned and kissed him. "Did you ever think that maybe I was just waiting for the right moment?"

"Oh, so saving me from psychotic, inbred cretins is the right moment?"

"Yup. Having you back home safe seems like a really good time to celebrate."

"By me reaming your ass?"

"Well, Iíd kind of hope youíd be a little more careful so you donít actually tear me a new one, but... yeah."

Rodney frowned slightly even as he stroked a hand over Johnís back. "Are you sure? I mean, not that I donít want to, but this is a big step for you. I donít mind catching if you want to use a regular phrase."

"Rodney, I trust you, I love you, and I want you. In me."

"Oh. All right. Yes. I do tooóall of it, I mean, including the loving you and wanting to be in you part."

"Oh good." John smiled somewhat nervously. "Iíd hate to have to force you."

Rodney snorted before leaning in to kiss John tenderly. "As if."

"Glad to hear it. So, uh, maybe you should be doing something?"

"Like getting the lube?"

"That would probably help, yes." John grinned and slid down to lick at a nipple.

"You really want me to move while youíre doing that, and before weíre doing anything, you can move TC!"

John burst into laughter and rolled to his back, nearly howling. After a moment, he managed to say, "Fine. Iíll protect you from my cat, and you get everything weíre going to need."

Rodney smirked before sitting up and leaning in to give John a kiss. "My heroóin more ways than one." He looked more serious at the last.

"Donít ever doubt it." John squeezed Rodneyís hand before going to the closet to get a heavy terrycloth robe. Once protected, he picked up a snarly TC and put him down in the hall, closing the door in his face. He winced at the immediate yowl of protest.

"Weíre going to pay for that, arenít we?" Rodney asked, glancing up from his bag and the supplies heíd recovered from them.

"You have no idea," John groaned. "I wouldnít try to pet him for a day or two. In fact, donít try unless heís already purring." He stretched out on the bed again, waiting.

Rodney chuckled and carried the condoms and lube over to the bed. "How about I get him a catnip mouse? Think that would help?"

"It might extend our life expectancy." John grinned up at him. "And not to change the subject or anything, but I donít care whatís easier; I want to be able to see you when we do this."

"You may not care whatís easier, but how about how you feel? I donít want to hurt you, John."

"Youíre not going to. Weíll just be careful." John reached up for Rodneyís free hand, and Rodney tightened his fingers around Johnís and bent to kiss him again.

"Well, yes, but still, you have to tell me if you donít like it, all right?"

John snorted. "I will, but honestly, have I not liked anything weíve done?"

Rodney snorted. "I could argue this, but it wouldnít get me nearer your ass, so Iím not going to."

"Good choice. Lubing, stretching, and fucking are on the program, not arguing."

Rodney chuckled and ran a hand up the length of Johnís body. "Exactly." As he spoke, he bent to lick a path up Johnís body, from his taut, flat stomach to his darkly-furred chest, making a side-trip to lick at his nipples.

"Iím glad weíre finally on the same page." John shivered and raised a hand to cup the back of Rodneyís head, his fingers lightly stroking the fine, dark hair.

"Iím just glad weíre both here," Rodney whispered, placing a kiss over Johnís heart before settling between his thighs and rocking forward, rubbing their groins together.

"You couldnít get rid of me if you tried." John arched up, inhaling sharply as they both hardened.

"Not trying here, so not trying," Rodney whispered as he lowered himself against John, rubbing along the length of his body.

"So glad to hear it." John smiled slowly as he raised and wrapped his legs around Rodneyís hips, drawing him closer. "You feel... right."

"Like home," Rodney whispered, pulling back and reaching for the lube, slicking up his fingers before trailing them between Johnís legs.

John moaned softly and arched up, his fingers kneading Rodneyís shoulders. "Better than home, much better."

Rodney gave a muffled laugh. "True, lots better." He pulled back enough to sit up slightly, his hand sliding between Johnís legs so that he could press a finger against Johnís ass.

John sucked in a breath, but the hazel eyes never flinched away from Rodneyís. He squirmed slightly, liking the way Rodneyís fingers felt on him.

"Youíll tell me, right?" Rodney whispered as he pressed a finger inward.

"If you stop now, Iím going for my gun and shooting you!"

Rodney couldnít stop himself from laughing as he leaned in to kiss John again, at the same time pressing his finger in deeper, searching for his prostate, making John cry out and jump.

"Oh God, yes!" Johnís eyes widened, and he clung to Rodneyís shoulders.

"Good, eh?" Rodney asked, forestalling Johnís answer by kissing him again and continuing to rub his finger against the small bump inside him. John whimpered and writhed under him, shoving down on Rodneyís finger and making Rodney groan against his mouth. "Fuck, I need to be in you."

"Oh yes, please," John gasped. "Now, damnit."

Shuddering, Rodney pulled back, shoving the condom into Johnís hand as he continued to finger him. "Yes. Get it on me, and Iíll be in you."

John gave him a wild-eyed look. "You expect me to be coordinated when youíre doing that? And donít you dare stop!" He fumbled with the package, taking several tries before he managed to get the rubber out of the foil. He reached for Rodney, carefully unrolling the condom onto him and making Rodney groan before pulling back to stroke lube over his cock.

John stared up at him, stilling as he realized they were really doing this. A smile slowly spread over his face.

"What?" Rodney asked, pausing as he balanced himself over John, one hand stroking his thigh and the other one steadying his erection.

"This is it," John said, sounding smugly satisfied. "Weíre really doing it."

"Having sex, John, weíre having sex," Rodney corrected, placing his cock at the tight entrance to Johnís body and slowly pressing forward.

"Oh God." Johnís fingers dug into Rodneyís shoulders as his body slowly yielded and adjusted to the invasion. "I meant that weíre finally committing, you idiot. I know itís sex; Iím right here!"

"Oh." Rodney paused, and he looked down into Johnís hazel eyes, and he smiled. "Yeah; we are and you are, and itís goodóright?"

"Itís very good. And itíd be even better if youíd move."

Rodney burst into laughter and kissed John before arching forward, sliding his full length inside John before drawing back.

"Oh my fucking God, do that again!"

Rodneyís grin widened, and he did just that, making John groan and start to move with him, at first jerkily and then finding and matching Rodneyís rhythm.

"Oh fuck, why did we wait so long?"

"You were straight," Rodney said wryly before groaning as John tightened down around him. "And not that I mind having you in me."

"Thatís good because I really like both," John panted. "Itís all due to your ass," he added with a breathless laugh before whimpering when Rodney scored a direct hit on his prostate.

"Good ass," Rodney mumbled as he stared down at John, his weight balanced on his hands as he rocked in and out of Johnís ass, the tight muscles clenching around his cock making him groan as well.

"Great ass. Really great cock." John inched his legs up higher around Rodney, letting him sink deeper on his next stroke, and they both moaned. He raised his head, seeking Rodneyís mouth, and he licked and nipped at Rodneyís lower lip.

Rodney only nodded and shifted his weight to one hand, bringing the now free one between them to stroke Johnís erection as he caught his tongue, sucking on it in time with his thrusts.

Johnís cries were muffled by Rodneyís mouth as he arched up, his whole body tensing and then spasming as he came. He clung desperately to Rodney, his eyes flying open to focus on Rodney, who kept his own eyes open as long as possible before his back arched as he slammed into Johnís ass as he came as well.

John stared up at him, a smile curving his lips. "Definitely worth waiting for. And for the record, weíre going to be doing that again. Often."

Rodney stirred enough to get his hand out from in between them and to lift his head enough to look at John. "If youíre telling me youíre turning into a total bottom slut, Iím going to have to turn you over to TC for punishment."

Laughing, John hugged Rodney close. "Donít worry. I like your ass too much to give it up."

"I always knew you were a smart man," Rodney chuckled before wincing when he moved and the bruises on his ribs pulled.

"You okay?" John asked, stroking Rodneyís back lightly. He shifted his legs down, wincing slightly, and stretched out under Rodney, careful not to dislodge him.

"Just a little sore, what about you?"

John gave him a dopey grin. "Iím good. Really, really good."

"Oh, good." Rodney grinned back and folded his arms on Johnís chest so he could rest his chin on his wrists and yawn. "That youíre good I mean."

Purposely misunderstanding him, John smirked. "Iím good at everything I do."

"Ha ha, very funny, Detective." Rodney yawned again and picked his head up off his arms. "We should really get cleaned up, or weíre going to be stuck together later."

"And if I donít open that door soon, nothingís going to save us from the wrath of TC," John chuckled. He rolled them over so Rodney was on his back, sighing as they slipped apart, and then got up to pad over to the bathroom. He quickly cleaned himself up, wincing slightly when he got to his ass, and brought the warm, damp cloth out to do the same for Rodney.

"Are we going to have any skin left when heís done with us?" Rodney asked, before smiling when John ran the warm cloth over his belly and groin. "And everything okay?"

"Huh? Oh! Yeah, fine," John reassured him. "And I donít think heíll claw us, as long as we donít touch till he decides to forgive us. Be prepared for a lot of snarling though." He rinsed the cloth before going to the hall door and warily opening it to peer out. TC was sitting just outside, and his tail began to lash when he saw John. As soon as the opening was wide enough, he stalked in disdainfully and leapt up onto the bed. He gave Rodney a long stare before curling up at the foot of the bed, the tip of his tail still lashing irritably.

"Is he going to steal our souls while we sleep?" Rodney asked warily as he scooted under the sheet.

John snickered as he slid in next to Rodney. "No, but I really wouldnít suggest kicking him."

Rodney immediately scooted over closer to John, leaving TC at least half the bed to claim as his own.

Laughing, John wrapped an arm around Rodney and rested his head on the musicianís shoulder. "Iíll protect you."

"I know you will," Rodney murmured, kissing the top of Johnís head and making a face when the disheveled hair tickled his nose.

"Love you," John whispered, closing his eyes.

Rodney nodded and tightened his arms around John, eyeing TC over the top of his head until sure the cat wasnít going to pounce them, then relaxing back into sleep himself.

"What the hell is that racket?" Rodney groaned, wondering who the hell was playing what sounded like some college fight song over and over.

"Just the doorbell," John grumbled into Rodneyís chest. "Ignore it and theyíll go away."

"You sure about that?" Rodney asked five minutes later when the ringing continued.

"We could sic TC on them," John groaned. "Which is why I donít know why the fuck theyíre still ringing!" He rolled out of bed, stalked over to the window and yelled out, "Go the fuck away! No oneís home!"

"I am not Ďgoing the fuck awayí, not until I see Rodney," a woman yelled up from the front yard.

Hearing the voice, Rodney groaned and rubbed at his forehead. "Do you recall my mentioning my manager, Elizabeth?" he asked.

John turned and stared at him. "Your manager is trying to drive us crazy? Why?"

"I believe itís because sheíd like to see me, and honestly, you donít say no to her."

"Well fuck. I specifically told everyone not to bother us today. This was supposed to be just us, without interruptions. In bed!"

"As much as Iím admiring the view of your ass, Detective, Iíd really prefer to see Rodney!" Elizabeth shouted up at them.

"We can go back to bed once sheís gone," Rodney promised, climbing slowly out of bed and looking around for some clothes.

John glared out. "When you wake up a man in his own home, you donít get to complain about the view!" He stalked away from the window, muttering under his breath as he pulled on some jeans. Not bothering with anything else, he stomped downstairs, managing to exude insult as well as TC ever had.

The door opened on a tall, well-groomed, dark-haired woman who eyed John with mild amusement. "I wasnít complaining about the view, Detective; I applaud Rodney on his taste as a matter of fact, but itís also almost two in the afternoon, and no one was answering your phone."

"Maybe you should have taken that as an indication that we didnít want to be disturbed," John growled. He spotted Rodneyís cousin Radek behind the attractive woman and shot him a look of betrayal. "We didnít get to bed till almost six this morning."

"Well, weíre here now, so we should sit. Iíll even make coffee if you show me where the things are," Radek offered quickly.

"Good idea," Rodney commented as he came down the stairs, TC following behind him. "And Elizabeth, what is so important tható" He was cut off when she grabbed him in a tight hug. "Ow ow, nearly cracked ribs here!" he squawked.

TC fluffed up and hissed, claws appearing as he raised a paw.

"Oh fuck! Let go of Rodney!" John nearly yelped.

"Itís okay, you two!" Rodney yelped when Elizabeth let him go, apologizing profusely the whole while. "The comment may have been a slight exaggeration, all right?"

"Rodney exaggerating, who would have guessed," Radek murmured.

"It wasnít the exaggeration; it was the touching," John explained hurriedly, a wary eye on the cat. "TC isnít real big on sharing. And in case you hadnít noticed, he decided you were his a while back."

"The cat owns you?" Elizabeth asked, looking at the two of them askance.

"Heís got good taste," Rodney sniffed.

"He owns both of us, so itís all good," John added, finally grinning. "So why the hell are you here?"

"To see Rodney," Elizabeth explained patiently. "To make sure heís all right."

"They wouldnít let her in yesterday as she wasnít family," Radek explained before ducking into the kitchen to search out the coffee pot.

"Wonderful," John sighed. He dropped down onto the sofa, idly scratching his bare chest as he watched Elizabeth. "I donít suppose youíre going to go away now?" he asked hopefully. He didnít realize that he was shifting, his ass reminding him that sitting down wasnít quite comfortable this morning.

"You okay?" Rodney murmured, dropping down beside John, letting out a small Ďoofí when TC jumped in his lap. He rested one hand on the cat and the other on Johnís thigh, stroking both of them lightly as he watched Elizabeth walk around the living room.

"You care about him, am I correct, Detective?" she finally asked as she paused by the keyboard.

"I love him," John corrected. "And Iím not going away," he warned, one arm going around Rodneyís shoulders as he leaned in. "Iím good," he murmured for Rodneyís ears only. "I kinda like it, actually."

Rodney smiled slightly and leaned against John.

"Iím glad to hear that, and I wouldnít ask you to go away; obviously, youíre good for him."

"Sitting here listening," Rodney commented, though his voice lacked any heat.

Elizabeth smiled fondly and took the pile of music from the top of the keyboard. "As surprising as it may seem given his attitude at times, you arenít the only one who cares about Rodney, Detective."

"And some people who care about him arenít even family," Radek called from the kitchen.

John smiled wryly. "Okay, yeah, I know I donít own him. You," he said, glancing at Rodney. "Other people have claims too. But was one day alone too much to ask for?" he asked plaintively.

The doorbell rang again, and Rodney could hear Carson and Laura outside. "And you asked why I left this place," he sighed.

"Great," John groaned. "Weíre going to need to run away to get any privacy. You have too damned many relatives." He let his head fall back against the sofa, refusing to let anyone else in.

"Not arguing this," Rodney sighed as Laura opened the door and they came in, Carson carrying Moira and followed by Rodneyís aunts and uncles and many more cousins who had apparently been to Jeannie and Tedís already and were now coming to check up on him. "Though at least they came here second."

Johnís eyes widened as person after person trooped into his living room. "Christ, itís like watching clowns get out of a car; they donít end!"

"Is it my fault my parentsí families were far too prolific in their procreating?"

"Please tell me youíre planning to go on tour soon? Iíll use some vacation, and we can hide on another continent!" John pretended not to hear the snickers and outright laughter around them.

"Once he gets this recorded, he is," Elizabeth commented, looking up from the music in her hands.

"Excuse me, donít I get a say in this? Crazy man here, remember?!"

Several people snorted, and John whacked Rodneyís arm, careful to avoid the bruises. "High strung, not crazy. And I did ask you, if youíll recall."

"And I know you, Rodney," Elizabeth laughed, sounding relieved. "You need the crowds; itís your validation."

"Well, maybe I have enough validation right here," Rodney grumbled.

"Do you mean John or the cat?" Carson asked.

Even John snickered at that one. "Be nice or Iíll leave him with you when we go. Weíd never get him through all the international quarantines, so someoneís going to have to take care of him."

"Or Iíll just stay in North America," Rodney commented over Carson and Lauraís vehement protests to the idea of them watching the cat.

"Weíll work it out when the time comes," John said easily, not about to let Rodney back out of touring again.

Radek finally came back into the living room, carrying a tray. He made sure that Elizabeth got the first cup then brought it over to Rodney and John before setting it down so whoever got there first could get some. "I put another pot on," he said as he moved to Elizabethís side.

"Elizabeth, will you go out with the man so he can stop fawning over you?" Rodney sighed, sipping at his coffee without moving from Johnís side.

Radek immediately flushed and sputtered, while Elizabeth eyed him. "I havenít been asked," she observed mildly.

"Radek, ask the woman," Laura laughed.

"Yes, listen to your sister, then all of you can go follow them on their date!"

"Are ye tryiní tae get rid of us?" Carson laughed.

"Yes!" John exclaimed.

Ignoring them all, Radek stared at Elizabeth in surprised delight. "You mean... Will you have dinner with me?"

"Yes, Radek, Iíll have dinner with you," Elizabeth laughed, leaning over to pat his leg.

"Oh." He started smiling.

"Why donít you go get ready for your date?" John suggested pointedly.

"Uncle Tomas, have you given Radek Ďthe talkí yet?" Rodney called.

Radek glared. "Would you like another bomb in your basement?"

Johnís eyebrows rose. "Cop here."

"As if I couldnít defuse it in less than a minute," Rodney scoffed.

John turned to stare at Rodney. "Something you want to tell me?"

"You never asked me what my doctorate was in, Detective."

"Itís not music," Laura called.

John blinked. "What exactly is your doctorate in then?" he asked, not sure he really wanted to know.

"Theoretical astrophysics," Rodney commented, shrugging. "But too many people tried to tell me what to think, what was and wasnít possible, so I went back to music."

John stared. "TheoróNever mind." He shook his head. "I can see I have a lot to learn about you."

"Iíll find you a copy of my doctorate some day if you really want to see it."

"Iíd like to." John looked around the room and sighed. "Are they ever going to go away?"

"We can always sic TC on them, though I wonder if the women arenít just too busy admiring your chest."

John frowned. "Itís my damn living room; Iíll be comfortable if I want to." He looked around, however, and took note of several interested gazes, making him pull Rodney half onto his lap as a human shield.

"Watch out for the bruises and the cat!" Rodney protested before glaring at his family. "All right, youíve proven to yourselves that Iím fine; now perhaps you could leave?"

"Maybe you need some romantic advice yourself," Radek suggested, making John growl.

Aunt Jennifer got up and walked over to the sofa, ignoring TCís hiss of annoyance as she leaned in to kiss first Rodney, then John on the cheek. "Iím glad youíre safe, Rodney," she said softly. "And thank you for finding both him and Jinto, Detective."

John smiled back at her. "It was my pleasure," he said, arms tightening possessively around Rodneyís waist.

"Jennifer is right," Tomas added when he joined them. "And welcome to the family, Detective."

"You poor bastard," Rodney muttered.

John chuckled. "Thanks. And the name is John."

Laura and Carson came over to join them, Carson carrying a yawning Moira. "We need to get going and put her down for her nap; itís good to have you back, Rodney," she smiled, leaning in to give him a kiss and tousle his hair.

"Thank you so much," he sighed before giving her a genuine smile.

"We should all have dinner in a few days," John suggested. "Donít call us; weíll call you."

"And that goes for all of you!"

"I think thatís our cue to leave," Elizabeth chuckled, taking Radekís arm. "You have two days, Rodney, and then Iíll be on your doorstep again."

John smiled wryly. "Is that a threat or a promise?"

She smiled sweetly. "Both."

"I could have told you she would say that," Rodney sighed, waving a hand at his departing relatives and burying his face in Johnís shoulder.

John slid out from under him when the last person had left. "Let me just lock the door so no one decides to come back."

"And disconnect that doorbell!" Rodney exclaimed as he slowly got to his feet, moving tentatively to keep his bruises from pulling. "Is there any soda?" he asked as he wandered into the kitchen.

"Yeah, there should be some cola in the fridge. And yes, it has caffeine," John added with a chuckle. After locking the dooróand pulling the battery out of the doorbellóJohn padded into the kitchen and leaned against the doorframe.

"This was so not how I was expecting to start today."

Rodney gave a wry smile as he turned from getting the Pepsi from the fridge. "But still a hell of a lot better than yesterday, and now theyíll leave us alone for a few days, though I should call Jeannie and see how Jinto is..."

"Go ahead. Iíll start some bacon and eggs, and it should be ready by the time youíre off the phone." John stole a quick kiss then started getting the food out.

"We do have that cold pizza," Rodney commented as he picked up the phone and dialed Jeannieís number.

"Hmm, even better. And no time wasted cooking before going back to bed." John put the eggs back in the fridge. He sat down, unabashedly listening to the conversation.

"Sheís crying," Rodney muttered, holding his hand over the receiver. "I hate it when she does that!"

"She just got her brother and her son back. I think sheís allowed to be a little emotional. Hell, I almost cried on you yesterday."

"Yes, fine, but still," Rodney muttered though his eyes were suspiciously bright. "And hello, Jinto, have your parents stuffed you with sufficient sweets yet?"

"Uncle Rodney! Are you okay? Is Uncle John there? I want to thank him again!"

"Yes, Jinto, Iím all right now that our unholy family has left, and yes, heís here." Rodney handed the phone over to John. "He wants to thank you."

Looking startled, John took the phone. "Hey, Jinto. Howíre you doing?"

"A lot better, Uncle John, thanks to you."

"I was just doing my job. And making sure my favorite family is okay. Weíre all going to get together for dinner in a couple of days."

"Great! Iíll have Mom bring a good dessert, I promise."

"Okay, weíll see you then. Do you want to talk to your uncle again?"

Jinto paused for a moment. "Uncle Rodneyís okay, right? I know he said he was, but is he?"

John smiled. "Heís good. Heís really good, but weíre going to take a couple days at home just to relax. Thatís why weíre only going to have dinner in a few days."

"Yeah, everyoneís a little freaky, but I guess I can understand that; Iím sort of freaked myself. I slept with the light on last night." The last was added in a mumble.

"Thatís okay, you know. We slept with TC."

Jinto snickered at that. "That sounds really bad, Uncle John, but yeah, I can understand why you wanted to do that."

"Wha-I didnít mean that and you know it!" John laughed. "Brat!" But he was smiling, relieved that Jinto sounded like himself.

"I try," Jinto laughed. "And I gotta get going; Mom wants me."

"Be good and weíll see you in a couple of days." John hung up and turned to Rodney. "Sounds like heís dealing pretty well."

"Heís a tough kid," Rodney said quietly. "Heíll do all right."

"He sounded more concerned about you." John drew Rodney into a hug. "Heís a smart kid. And he has a really good family."

"At least maybe itíll get Jeannie and Ted to stop fightingóone good thing that came out of all of this. Well, two if you count Radek getting a date with Elizabeth." Rodney paused and looked up at John. "No, make that three."

"I definitely count three." John smiled crookedly. "Who knew that kidnapping cases could be matchmakers?"

"I wouldnít recommend it as a method for the majority of people though."

"No, definitely not. I think it only works for McKays."

"Thankfully," Rodney sighed. "So, think we can sit on the sofa and relax with our fine meal of cold pizza and Pepsi?"

"I dunno. Maybe if we can make out..."

"Before or after we eat?"

"Both of course!"

"Maybe we should bring TC a snack as well?"

"Probably a good idea if we want to live. Thereís a can of good tuna in the cabinet next to the fridge. That might help our case."

"Want me to get it?" Rodney asked, and at Johnís nod, he got up and found the tuna while John carried the drinks into the living room and went to retrieve the pizza from the bedroom.

"Here you go." Rodney crooned, squatting down and setting the bowl of tuna down on the floor, petting TC as he ambled up for his food.

John stared. "Well now I know that he likes you better. He never forgives me the next day when heís pissed."

"It must have been him getting jealous of Elizabeth hugging me that did it."

"Could be. Iím glad I know you only like men, or I might have been hissing and spitting too."

"Now that I would have paid to see, and are you going to stand there all day or are you going to help me up?"

"I thought you were communing with the cat." John grinned, offering him a hand up. "Go sit down."

"Are you planning on joining me?"

"Yup, just making sure TCís got water. Iím right behind you."

"Not a bad place for you to be at all," Rodney commented as he dropped onto the couch and picked up a piece of pizza which he immediately began eating.

John laughed. "I already told you that Iím not going to give up fucking you just Ďcause I like you fucking me. But feel free to keep encouraging me."

"If you expect me to get up on the coffee table and shake my ass in your face to encourage you, youíre going to have quite the wait."

"Thank God! After I stopped laughing, Iíd have to glue feathers to it. Long pink ones."

"Excuse me?!?!?!" Rodney sputtered, staring at him.

"Well, the only ones Iíve ever seen do that are can-can dancers," John snickered. He sank down next to Rodney and grabbed a slice of pizza.

Rodney shook his head and reached for his drink. "After that, Iím just going to sit here and eat my meal."

John opened his mouth to say something and then hesitated as another thought seemed to strike him. He smirked. "And Iíll just enjoy mine," he said as he put his head in Rodneyís lap.

Rodneyís eyebrow rose, and he joggled a leg slightly before taking another bite of his pizza.

John grinned and slowly unzipped Rodneyís pants.

"Thatís not pizza," Rodney chuckled, setting his food aside and taking a final drink of his soda before leaning against the back of the sofa.

"Nope, much better." John grinned as he pushed the slacks down, freeing Rodneyís cock. He cupped it in the palm of his hand and gave Rodney a long lick.

"Jesus, John," Rodney whispered, cupping a hand around the back of his head and squirming to spread his legs wider.

"Missed doing this, tasting you," John murmured, settling himself more comfortably. He closed his lips over the head of Rodneyís growing erection and suckled, his cheeks hollowing.

Rodney groaned in response, his fingers threading through Johnís hair as he rocked upward, his free hand stroking over Johnís side and down to his ass.

John moaned and arched his back, pushing his ass up against Rodneyís hand. At the same time, he lowered his head, taking more of Rodney into his mouth, his tongue flicking against the shaft.

"I want to taste you too," Rodney whispered, dipping his fingers inside the loose waistband of Johnís jeans to trail over the warm flesh there.

"I love the way you think." John stood up to shove off his jeans, that easily naked again. "Slide down on the couch so youíll be comfortable," he rasped, his eyes hot as they ran over Rodney.

"One second..." Rodney dragged his t-shirt over his head and squirmed out of his pants before twisting on the couch so that he was facing the opposite way than John had been before. "Ouch," he muttered as his bruises flared, but he grabbed for John before he could ask what was wrong.

John hesitated for a second, but he could see that Rodney was fine. Not to mention that he was being pulled by his dick, and it was exactly where he wanted to go. He settled over Rodney, keeping his weight off the bruised body under him, and lowered his head to take Rodney back into his mouth.

"Oh yeah," Rodney whispered before lifting his head enough to suck on the tip of Johnís cock, the taste making him groan deep in his throat and rear up for more, skill vanishing in the face of greed as he swallowed John down.

John moaned around Rodneyís cock, his body jerking as he felt his own cock slide into Rodneyís throat. More determined than ever to do the same for Rodney, John pushed his head lower, forcing Rodney deeper into his own mouth until, for the first time, he managed to push the head into his throat, mastering his gag reflex. He hummed his satisfaction in his accomplishment.

Unable to say anything due to their positions, Rodney moaned around Johnís erection and dug his fingers into Johnís ass, urging him to move even as he tried to hold still as John swallowed around him.

John followed the urging of Rodneyís hands, slowly rocking in and out of Rodneyís mouth. He pulled up slightly to gasp in a breath and suck hard on Rodneyís cock before pushing down again.

Soft groans and whimpers escaped Rodneyís lips as John fucked his mouth, and he felt his balls tighten as Johnís teeth lightly scored his cock. The hot tongue that followed that slight pain undid him, and he arched up under John as he came.

John pulled back just far enough to taste Rodneyís come rather than letting it flow straight down his throat. He suckled hard, his tongue lashing the shaft as he sought to draw out every drop. Rodney moaned around Johnís cock and yanked on his hips, pulling John deeper into his throat and swallowing, even as the last of his own spasms wracked his body.

Johnís cry of overwhelming pleasure was muffled by the still hard cock in his mouth. His back arched as he buried himself in Rodneyís mouth while sucking hard on Rodneyís cock, and Rodney reciprocated, pressing back into the couch so that he could lick and suck at the head of Johnís cock, swallowing the thick fluid spurting from it.

Finally pulling off of Rodneyís cock when the last spasm passed, John peered down between their bodies. "God, theyíre not kidding when they say men give better blowjobs."

"Mmm hmm," Rodney panted, pushing at John to get him to turn around, then kissing him when he was settled again.

"I donít want to hurt you," John protested, trying to keep his weight off Rodneyís bruises.

"I feel too good to hurt right now," Rodney sighed, wrapping his arms around Johnís waist and holding him close.

John relaxed and rested his head on Rodneyís shoulder. "I donít ever want to move," he murmured contentedly.

"Do you hear me asking you to move?" Rodney muttered.

"And the afterglow fades into crankiness," John chuckled. "You must be hungry."

"What crankiness?" Rodney asked, finally opening his eyes to look up at John. "I wasnít complaining; I was merely commenting!"

"Ah, my mistake." John turned his head to kiss Rodneyís chest.

Rodney chuckled quietly and stroked a hand over Johnís back, enjoying the closeness between them. "Trust me, Detective, when I get cranky, youíll know."

"I have no doubt." John grinned, then chuckled when TC jumped up and settled on Rodneyís chest next to Johnís face.

"Crazy cat," Rodney muttered even as he moved a hand to rub TCís side, immediately feeling a rumbling purr vibrate against his chest.

"Be grateful that he likes you. I think Rononís afraid of him," John chuckled, raising a hand to stroke him as well.

"Yeti-man? I think heís afraid of me as well; heís a wimp."

"I wouldnít suggest saying that where he can hear you," John laughed.

"TC will protect me."

"But just imagine all my paperwork when TC kills him."

"Hrmm." Rodney paused to consider the problem. "Iíll play for you while you do it."

"You mean I have to kill someone before youíll play for me?"

Rodney was silent for another long moment. "I could play for you now if youíd like."

John raised his head to stare at Rodney, starting to smile. "Really?"

"Yeah, really; name the tune."

"How Ďbout the one you just wrote?"

Rodney gave a soft laugh at that but nodded. "I may need a drink first; last time I played that, I had people attacking me."

"TC and I will guard you," John promised.

"And which one of you is going to get me a drink?"

"Since he hasnít yet sprouted an opposable thumb, that would have to be me. And I hope youíre taking note of this proof of my loveóIím moving."

Rodney chuckled and caught Johnís face between his hands so that he could kiss him thoroughly. "Does that prove mine sufficiently, or will the playing do that?"

"Mmm, the kiss is good, but Iím not going to tell you that till after I get my song." John grinned. "Beer good?"

"As long as itís not American." Rodney let out a huff when TC hopped down off his chest.

"I learned my lesson," John called back before reappearing with two cold Canadians. "See, no sullying your taste buds."

Rodney grinned as he did up his pants and pulled his shirt on again, then took the beer and drank some. "I do love a trainable man," he chuckled before kissing John on the way to the keyboard. Shaking his head slightly at it, he sat and reached for the music heíd written several days before.

"When are you going to admit that you hate that thing?" John asked, chuckling. "We either need to stay at your place or get your piano over here."

"As there arenít any qualified piano movers in town, Iíll deal with R2-D2 here," Rodney commented, setting his fingers on the keys and beginning to play though the music he was playing wasnít on the sheets in front of him.

John listened for a moment and started to smile. "Howíd you know that was my favorite?" Heíd found that he loved most of Rodneyís music, but this particular song was extraordinary.

Rodney glanced back at John and smiled slightly though his fingers didnít miss a note. "Iíve heard you humming it; I didnít think youíd do that unless you really liked it."

"Good point." John moved to perch on the edge of the bench next to Rodney. "Iím glad youíre writing and playing again."

"Iíd say you had something to do with that," Rodney commented, shifting to a much simpler melody. "Join me?"

"Promise not to laugh?" John turned on the bench to face the keyboard, stretching his fingers.

Rodney quirked a lop-sided grin. "Did I laugh at your first blowjob?"

John pouted. "You saying it was that bad?"

"Not at all, which is probably how your playing is as well. Iím not expecting symphonies, John; just play with me."

John snickered. "Can you play if I do?" Seeing Rodneyís expression, he hastily placed his fingers on the keyboard and started to play.

"Idiot," Rodney sighed though his smile was fond. "And I donít see what you were worried about; youíre fine."

"Sure, Iím fine, but youíre an artist." John looked over at Rodney. "But this is nice," he admitted.

"More than nice." Rodney modified the melody slightly, waiting to see if John could follow before smiling when he did. "I hope anyway."

"I like playing together this way too." John turned his head and kissed Rodney while they both continued to play.

"Watch it or Iíll get you on stage," Rodney chuckled.

John gave him a look of horror. "I donít think so. The people paying the equivalent of the GNP of a small African country for a ticket arenít there to listen to me."

"Probably, but you are nice eye candy." Rodney winked and shifted to a more complicated melody again, watching John closely to see if he could keep up.

Chuckling, John followed easily again even as he tossed a taunting glance at Rodney. "You telling me youíre willing to share?"

"Iíd have TC there to keep them from touching."

"You really are an evil genius."

"Not evil in the least, just focused."

"I like where you focus."

"Especially when the focus is on you?"

"You read my mind." John grinned at him again, a faint shadow still in his eyes. He was trying not to gush or be all over Rodney, but the last few days had scared the hell out of him, and time like this, just being together, was exactly what they needed.

"Of course I did, Iím brilliant, remember?" Rodney asked, kicking up the difficulty of the music another notch while he continued to watch John.

"How could I forget?" John snorted. He fumbled slightly this time but again followed Rodney, the music coming more easily as he stretched himself in ways he hadnít in years.

Rodney smirked. "You canít, because you, and your cat, love me."

"Good thing you love us right back then."

"For all of us." Rodney leaned over to kiss John and smiled. "Hang on, babe; Iím stepping it up more."

"Oh baby, faster."

"Pervert," Rodney muttered, laughing as he segued to a complicated classical piece.

"You know you love it. And I think weíre getting to the stage where I go back to being the audience, Doc."

"So sit here and applaud at the correct times."

"Be nice or weíll see how good you are when Iím sucking you off."

Rodney chuckled and glanced over at John without losing the melody. "Sorry to say, Detective, you just did that and it may be a while before Iím recovered." He quirked a grin before looking back at the music on the stand, focusing on it, and shifting to the haunting, disjoined piece heíd started several days before.

About to reply with more joking taunts, John simply sat in silence and listened to the music. He didnít realize when he let his eyes close, the better to feel the music without the distraction of sight. It was sorrow incarnate, but through it all ran a faint thread of hope, drawing him in. He was aware of nothing but the music until it slowly faded away, and it was several seconds before he opened his eyes to stare at Rodney, speechless.

"I know itís nothing like anything else Iíve done," Rodney said defensively. "But itís whatís there, and I assure you itís much better than the silence thatís been in my head for most of the past year!"

John silenced him by the simple expedient of placing a hand over his mouth. "Rodney, shut up. That was..." He gestured helplessly with his free hand. "Extraordinary," he finally settled for.

Behind the screen of Johnís hand, Rodneyís blue eyes narrowed as he stared at John, then slowly gentled as he pressed Johnís hand to his mouth and kissed his palm.

John inhaled sharply, still staring into Rodneyís eyes. "Itís beautiful. Better than anything youíve ever done before."

"Thereís more, lots more. I just have to get it out of my head now," Rodney breathed, pulling back from Johnís hand but catching it in his own.

"I canít wait to hear it." Despite the obvious sincerity of the words, there was a hint of wistfulness in Johnís voice and eyes.

"Whatís wrong?"

"Sorry, I had a selfish moment there. I was just realizing that Iíve had you all to myself so far, but soon Iím going to have to share you with the whole world."

Rodney pulled his hands back from the keys and turned so that he could face John fully. "Thatís not going to be for months, and honestly, do you think I give a shit about any of them?"

That forced a wry chuckle from John. "No, I really donít think you give a damn about anyone who doesnít directly impinge on your life, but they give a damn about you. And your next tour is going to be spectacular, with music like that."

"There doesnít need to be a tour," Rodney commented, reaching for the sheets. "This, this is personal; more personal than anything Iíve ever done. Itís us, and Jeannie, and Jinto, and Radek, and even the fucking Wraithes. Maybe I donít want to share it. Maybe I want it to stay that way."

John caught hold of his chin and kissed him. "Then this one can stay just for us if you still feel that way when the time comes. But there are going to be other songs, Rodney, and theyíre going to be too damn good not to share."

"You and Elizabeth, youíre not going to let me wallow, are you?"

John shook his head slowly, smiling widely.

"At least you have better methods of convincing me than she does."

"Iím pleased that they meet with your approval. And you know, the idea of you in your tux after a performance and me naked... I like it."

Rodney shivered at the thought and took a deep breath. "I need you to do me a favor."

"Anything," John replied instantly.

"This next piece... Just listen to it, okay?"

"Itíll be my pleasure," John said with total sincerity.

"Good, good." Rodney flicked a glance at him and nodded sharply before flipping through the music. He paused and took a deep breath before playing again, this piece starting off almost martial before turning playful, then sensual.

Johnís eyes widened slightly, but as promised, he remained silent as Rodney played.

"Yes, this is yours, and no matter what happens with the rest of the music, this is yours," Rodney commented, his words barely audible over the music.

John shifted closer, laying his head on Rodneyís shoulder while being careful not to interfere with his playing, and he let one hand fall to Rodneyís thigh, idly petting him while John listened to the intricate music.

The music turned dark, then slowed, a slight faltering before it picked up again, almost flying before becoming quiet, peaceful, and finally dying away.

There was a long moment of silence before John murmured, "You flatter me."

Rodney shrugged slightly. "It wouldnít exist without you."

"I think you underestimate yourself, but Iím perfectly willing to take credit for something that amazing. Thank you."

"Youíre welcome," Rodney murmured before turning and kissing John again.

"Mmm, I like the way you say that." John wrapped his arms around Rodneyís waist. "I like the new style, in case that wasnít clear."

Rodney leaned into the embrace and he sighed. "Thank you, and I do too actually."

"Good thing. I donít think youíd be very productive if you hated what you were creating."

"Of course, in music, what you want to do and whatís popular are two separate things."

John shrugged. "Itís not like you need the money, and I think most people will love it. Itís beautiful."

"Itís you," Rodney repeated.

A flush stained Johnís cheekbones. "I think youíre nuts. Youíre the amazing one."

"How about we agree itís a combination of both of us, hmm?"

TC jumped up on the end of the bench and meowed loudly at them, making John laugh. "I think he wants some of the credit."

"You want a song, TC?" Rodney laughed, turning back to the keys and coming up with a melody that suited the aloof, picky cat.

John burst into laughter. "So what would Ronon be?"

The tune immediately shifted to a hulking, brooding tune that had a skittish undertone.

"Only when TCís around," John chuckled. "But yeah. Thatís quite a talent you have there."

"One of many," Rodney chuckled.

"And it all comes in a very fine package."

"Any chance of this fine package getting some more food? I was somewhat distracted earlier."

"Still want pizza or ready for something different?"

"Iím not going to complain if you offer me real food."

John stole a quick kiss before getting up. "How does a ham and cheese omelet sound?"

"Good, very good," Rodney commented as he straightened up the music and moved away from the keyboard, rubbing TCís head as he headed for the kitchen. "Iíll see if that coffee Radek made is still good," he offered, getting a mug and pouring some of the coffee into it.

"Coffeeís always good. And it has to be better than what we have at the station." John began getting out what he needed for the omelets.

"Itís all right," Rodney commented, handing John the first mug before getting himself another one. "Is there anything else I can do to help?"

"You could chop the chives for me. And grate the cheese." John busied himself mixing spices into the eggs, then started cubing the ham.

"If I lose flesh from my fingers, youíre bandaging me," Rodney commented as he got a cutting board and a knife, moving easily behind John to get the items he needed.

"Iíll even kiss it better for you," John offered, turning to kiss Rodney as he passed.

"Always the hero," Rodney sighed, though he was smiling.

"Thatís me. Gotta make sure you can continue serenading me."

"I donít think that will be an issue, though doing it on a real piano would be much more pleasant."

"Which is why we need to sort out the living arrangements. You and your piano in different places obviously isnít going to work. And the thought of you going out to your place alone kinda freaks me out at the moment."

"Until I go back to New York," Rodney answered without thinking, then groaned when he felt John stiffen slightly behind him. "Oh shit, I didnítóI wasnít thinking; I didnít mean it that way."

John stepped back. "But itís the truth, isnít it? Iím not going to fit into your life, not your real one." He sighed heavily. "So weíre just going to have to figure out a way to make it work."

Rodney spun, his eyes bright and wild under the bruises and his chin raised defiantly. "You are going to fit in my life because I donít have any life without you! If you canít leave here because of your job, then weíll just find a place together and Iíll relocate."

Johnís arms wrapped tightly around Rodney, both of them ignoring the bruises for the moment. "Looks like weíre both going to have to make some adjustments. But weíll figure it out. And I love you too."

"Compared to the past few weeks, this should be cake," Rodney sighed, relaxing into Johnís embrace.

"We can have that after the omelets. Sit down and stop distracting me," John ordered.

"Hard to move when youíve got me in a bear hold."

"And your point would be?" John tightened his hold for a moment before letting go and beginning to cook the eggs.

"That I like it," Rodney chuckled, sitting back down at the table and sipping at his coffee.

"Then Iíll be sure to do it often." Aside from a quick, warm glance over his shoulder, John kept his attention on the pan. Omelet making was an art, and he intended to prove it.

"You know, if you decide to forgo being my head of security, you could always be my personal chef..."

"Hrm, bodyguard, chef, bed slave, back scrubber... you want a lot in a man, donít you."

Rodney chuckled and nodded. "Of course, Iím a rude, demanding prima donna; havenít you heard that?"

"Good. As long as they keep thinking that, I donít have to worry about competition."

"Trust me, Detective, you have no competition."

John beamed. "You say the nicest things. And I know itís not just to get into my pants, Doc, since you already did."

"I canít believe you said that!" Rodney laughed.

"Thatís me, one surprise after another. And just wait till you see what I have in mind after we eat."

Rodneyís eyebrows rose, and he smiled slightly. "Iím looking forward to itóunless it involves bathing TC."

John shuddered. "Iíd sooner withhold coffee from you. Itíd be safer."

"Next time someone complains about me, Iím showing them your cat, and is that food done yet?"

Chuckling, John flipped the omelet onto a plate and deftly cut it in half, sliding one portion to another plate. He carried them both over to the table and sat down after setting one in front of Rodney. "Dig in."

The words were barely out of Johnís mouth before Rodney was doing just that, groaning in pleasure at the flavor of the light, fluffy omelet. "Thesh are really good," he mumbled around another mouthful.

"I guess youíll keep me, huh?" John chuckled.

"Knew that before the meal."

John beamed. "I guess Iíll keep feeding you then. And sharing my cat with you."

"And what do you want in return?"

"Exactly what I have. You."

Rodney paused and eyed John over his forkful of eggs. "You do realize that if I get sentimental, itís because of the harrowing experience I had, correct?"

"I would never dream otherwise," John replied soothingly, the hazel eyes sparkling with laughter. Even his hair seemed to be laughing.

"Thank you so much for the sympathy for my delicate condition," Rodney sniffed, ignoring John in favor of his food.

"Iíll make it all better when weíre done eating."

"Is there Viagra in this food?" Rodney asked, incredulous. "We just finished blowing each otherís brains out!"

"That was at least an hour ago!" John protested. "Hey, this is all still bright and shiny and new for me, so keep up, Doc."

"If I collapse from exhaustion, call Carson for me, would you?" Rodney groaned, though he was grinning as he spoke.

"Naw, Iíll just resuscitate you."

"Should I remind you that itís mouth to mouth and not mouth to dick?"

"Are you saying you donít like my mouth on your dick?"

"Youíre good, Detective, but are you going to raise me from the dead with your skill?"

"Oh, Iím pretty sure youíll enjoy what I have in mind."

Rodney sighed and shook his head, though his eyes were bright with laughter. "Iíve created a monster."

"Poor baby. I can see how much you hate it," John snorted.

"Yes, Iím living every gay manís fantasyóa hot, sexy, formerly straight guy at my beck and callówhatís not to love? Though I could have done without the life-threatening kidnapping part..."

"So could I!" John said feelingly. "So Iím hot and sexy, huh?"

"As if you donít know that," Rodney snorted.

"A guy still likes to hear it once in a while from his significant other," John replied, batting his eyelashes at Rodney and really camping it up.

"My god, the man goes from straight to flaming in less than two weeks!"

John burst into laughter, not stopping till his eyes were watering and he was gasping for air. "And here I thought you wanted a real queen."

"Not for a lover! Iím the queen around here, Detective, and donít you forget it! You just be hunky and butch, and everything will be good."

John was howling with laughter now. "Hunky and butch?" he finally managed to get out. "And if you get queenie on me, Iíll have to shoot you!"

Rodney still looked indignant as he ate the last of his food. "Iím supposed to be queenie; Iím a genius, emotional musician!"

"Which doesnít mean you have to be a queen," John snorted. "One falsetto note out of you and Iím getting out the duct tape!"

"For a formerly straight man, you have quite the knowledge of queens."

"I saw The Birdcage. And, um, read a lot on the internet after I met you."

"Research, eh? And are you going to eat that?" Rodney waved a hand at the rest of Johnís eggs.

John took one more bite before pushing the plate toward Rodney. "Go ahead, that was more than enough for me."

"You sure?" Rodney asked, even as he was dragging the plate toward himself.

"Just donít try to take my coffee."

Rodney snickered as he began to eat Johnís food. "Of courfe."

Watching him, John frowned slightly, reminded of why Rodney was so hungry. "Want me to make another one?"

Rodney shook his head around another mouthful of food. "Maybe some toast?"

"Sure." John got up to put some bread in the toaster and got out the butter and some strawberry jam. "I made sure they donít use any lemon juice making this," he said as he put it down in front of Rodney.

"Thank you," Rodney muttered around another mouthful before swallowing and giving John a happy, almost shy grin. "I mean that, thank you."

"My pleasure." John leaned down to kiss him gently. "Iíll do whatever I have to, to make sure youíre around for a good long time."

Rodney caught Johnís arm and pulled him in for another, longer kiss. "Thank you for that as well."

John hugged him tightly, his eyes closing as his head rested against Rodneyís. "Iím the one who should be thanking you, I think. Youíre one of a kind, Rodney."

"Of course I am," Rodney sniffed. "Now, what was this about plans you had?"

"Finish your toast and Iíll show you." In the meantime, John started clearing the table, putting the dishes in the dishwasher and the butter and jam back in the fridge.

"Yes, Jeannie," Rodney snorted before doing as John said.

As soon as he was finished, John whisked the last plate away. "Get your pants off," he ordered before disappearing down the hall, only to reappear moments later with lube in hand to find Rodney stripped down to bare skin and leaning against the table.

"You didnít say where you wanted me," he commented, smirking slightly.

John inhaled sharply, his eyes running appreciatively over Rodneyís nude form. "God, youíre gorgeous," he murmured, watching Rodneyís cock fill. "On your back on the table, ass at the edge," he rasped.

Rodney took a deep breath and nodded as he moved to arrange himself as John ordered. "Hot and butch," he murmured, smiling slightly as he lay back on the table.

"Hot and sexy and all mine." John coated the fingers of one hand in the slick gel and pushed one inside Rodney, watching his face.

"Damn right," Rodney whispered, arching upward against Johnís hand, his hips pushing off the table as he tried to get more of John into him.

"Thatís so hot," John murmured. He added a second finger and leaned over to Rodney to suckle gently on his adamís apple.

"Oh fuck, John, I need you in me," Rodney whispered as he writhed under Johnís touch. "Fuck me, and I want to feel you, not latex."

John froze, staring at him, and then nodded slowly. They both knew they were clean, and it felt right to take that step now. He glanced at the condom heíd brought back with the lube and pushed it away, ignoring it as it fell to the floor. "I love you," he whispered as he slowly pushed forward, feeling the heat of Rodneyís body for the first time without any barriers between them.

"IóI love you too, John," Rodney whispered before sucking in a deep breath as John slid into him, and he looped his arms around Johnís shoulders, drawing him closer.

"Oh God," John moaned. He couldnít believe how much more intense this was. He took Rodneyís mouth, nibbling at his lips until they parted to let Johnís tongue in, and then Rodney was sucking on Johnís tongue as he hooked his legs around Johnís hips, opening himself. Unable to resist the grasping heat, John slid deeper, then drew back, stroking in and out of Rodney with gradually increasing speed.

Rodney moaned and rocked up to meet each thrust, not sure if he was going to get hard quite this quickly but loving that fact that John was and wanted him this much. John smiled, running a fingertip along the soft cock. He could see the pleasure in Rodneyís face, and that was enough.

"Johnófeels so good," Rodney whispered, stroking a hand up Johnís chest before drawing him in for another kiss.

"Yeah, you do," John replied against Rodneyís lips before gently nipping and tugging at the lower one. "Oh God," he gasped, suddenly fucking Rodney harder while one hand caught hold of one of Rodneyís and their fingers laced together.

Rodney whimpered and tightened his fingers around Johnís, shuddering as he felt his cock harden more with each stroke. When John noticed, he curled a hand around Rodneyís growing erection, leaving it to the musician to hang on to him with his free hand, and pumped Rodney in counterpoint to his strokes.

"Christ, John," Rodney gasped, twisting upward, his expression revealing the depth of his feelings for the other man.

"I want to feel you come when Iím in you, and then Iím going to come in you, fill you with me."

"Oh fuck!" Rodney whimpered, bucking upward beneath his weight and throwing his head back when Johnís next stroke hit his prostate.

John gasped when Rodney clenched down around him, and he had to bit his lip and think about anything except Rodney to keep himself from coming too quickly.

"Hard, hot, just so damn perfect," Rodney gasped, reaching for John and pulling him in for another kiss.

"You are. We are," John rasped, then dove in for another kiss as they rocked together.

"John!" Rodney gasped as he bucked upward, his erection pulsing in Johnís hand as he came.

"Oh Jesus, Rodney!" John slammed into him again and again until he came as well, buried deep inside Rodney.

When John collapsed on top of him, Rodney grunted but wrapped his arms around him. "Back to bed soon, right?"

"As soon as I can move again," John mumbled into Rodneyís neck.

"I liked that. You in me with nothing between us."

"Yeah. That was really, really good." John slowly separated them, pausing and biting his lip when he could see his own semen slowly seeping out of Rodneyís ass. "Oh fuck, thatís hot."

"Iíve never done that, sex without a barrier," Rodney whispered.

"Me neither," John admitted. "Mainly because I didnít want to get a girl pregnant, but still, Iím glad. It was absolutely amazing with you."

"And it had to be on top of a kitchen table?"

"Oh, you enjoyed it and you know it."

"You donít have to be so damn smug about it!"

"Iíve only been doing this for a couple of weeks. I think Iím entitled to be smug about affecting you."

"I know this is only going to make things worse, but you affected me from the moment I first saw you."

Johnís smile widened until it practically lit up the room. "Iím glad."

"Of course, your cute little partner was pretty hot too."

John growled. "Youíre lucky heís straight, or you might find yourself locked in the bedroom!" Then his eyes widened as he remembered what Rodney had just been through, and he added hastily, "Not literally, of course."

"Any other time the thought that you want to keep me for yourself would be really hot; for now, not so much," Rodney offered, giving a sickly grin.

"Iím so sorry. I wasnít thinking." John hugged him.

"Itís okay, Iím sure youíve noticed a lot of things come out of my mouth that way."

John smirked. "Well, maybe once or twice."

Rodneyís response was to glower and snap.

"Hey, I like you just the way you are. Ready to stagger back to bed?"

"Bed would be good," Rodney sighed.

John offered him a hand up. "And we should stay there for a couple of days."

"We need a hotel with room service," Rodney grumbled, even as he got to his feet, his fingers twined with Johnís.

"Naw, too many interruptions. Here itís just us and TC, which sounds perfect to me."

"Just so long as you keep us fed," Rodney chuckled.

"I think I can manage that." John grinned at him.

"Oh good. Bed now?"

"Yup. Iíll even move TC if necessary."

"Youíre definitely my hero."

"Good. Iím not planning to share the role."

Rodney shook his head as they headed upstairs. "I didnít think you would."

"Thatís because youíre a genius."

"So take me to bed and cuddle with my superior intellect."

"And gorgeous ass." John pushed Rodney onto the bed, grinning at his squawk.

"Ow ow ow bruises, lots of bruises here!!!"

"The bed isnít that hard," John pointed out before crawling in beside him and hooking an arm around his waist to draw him close.

"Yes, but your hips are bony!" Rodney announced even as he rolled them over and curled up against John.

"Be nice or Iíll take my bony hips elsewhere."

"Without me?"

"My cat would comfort me."

"I thought you were supposed to be comforting me!"

"You complained that I was making you uncomfortable!"

"And me thinking of you tossing me out is supposed to comfort me?"

"This is one of those conversations I canít win, isnít it? Just go to sleep." John held Rodney close.

"I will," Rodney sniffed, squirming to arrange himself around and half over John, his bandaged arm resting on the other manís chest.

The doorbell ringing woke John up hours later, and he stumbled out of bed, grumbling, to grab a pair of jeans before heading down to find out what emergency had someone at his door. When he pulled it open, he was first blinded by brilliant flashes, then stunned by the clamor of dozens of voices yelling questions at him. Following his instincts, he slammed the door shut again, fortunately not on a hand or foot, and locked it.

"Who was it?" Rodney asked, appearing at the top of the stairs, yawning and scratching his chest, dressed only in a pair of baggy boxers.

John blinked up at him, seeming dazed. "Every reporter in a five-state radius, I think."

Rodney groaned and sat down at the top of the stairs. His eyes widened as he realized the curtains on the front windows were wide open. "Oh shit, get the windows!"

"Huh?" John turned to follow Rodneyís gaze, only to be blinded by more flashes. "Fuck! Is this what you have to deal with all the time?" he growled as he yanked the blinds closed with excessive force, nearly breaking the chain.

"Not all the time, no," Rodney sighed, rubbing at his forehead. "But Iím surprised they havenít shown up before now, considering whatís been going on."

John shook his head as he came over to stand at the bottom of the stairs and look up at Rodney. "The generalís not going to be happy when he reads the papers," he sighed.

"The general?"

"My father. He was really pissed when I joined the Air Force instead of the Army and even more pissed when I resigned my commission, so we donít talk much. But I think thatís all going to pale beside his reaction to learning his son turned gay."

Rodneyís eyes narrowed, and he rubbed at the bandage on his forearm. "Whatís his phone number?"

John walked up the stairs until he could kiss Rodney. "Letís just avoid him till we canít, okay? Heís not worth getting upset over. I accepted a long time ago that I was never going to be the son he wanted."

"If he contacts you, Iím going to be the one talking to him, Detective; got it?"

"I could probably sell tickets to that fireworks show," John replied wryly.

"Then I can be the kept man."

John burst into laughter. "Lifeís never going to be boring, is it?"

Rodney shook his head and grinned. "Nope, never."

"So when are you going to start touring again? And where?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, one thing at a time!" Rodney protested. "Can I get through writing the material before you shove me out of the house?"

"As if. If youíre going anywhere, Iím going with you. I just need to make sure you give me enough warning to arrange the time off."

"Youíve got plenty of time, I promise, and why are we having this conversation sitting on your stairs?"

"Because weíre hiding from the windows?"

"Hrmmm, good point." TC walked up behind them, butting Rodney in the small of the back until he moved enough for the cat to get by. "Can we get to a phone? Iím going to call Elizabeth and make her earn her pay."

"Yeah, if we go upstairs, you can use the phone in the bedroom. We should be safe up there unless theyíre climbing trees."

"Youíd be surprised what they will do for a picture," Rodney sighed, slowly getting to his feet and wincing at the stiffness in his muscles. "And I hope you have some aspirin in your bathroom."

"I have some Tylenol 3 from last summer when I broke my wrist playing softball," John offered. He glanced warily at the windows as they slowly walked into the master bedroom, but at least so far no one was scaling the walls to snap their picture.

"You want me asleep?" Rodney queried, sitting down on the bed and picking up the phone to dial Elizabethís cell.

"Not unless you think you need to rest." John went to get the aspirin and came back with three tablets and a glass of water.

"Iím good for now." Rodney quirked a smile as he waited for Elizabeth to pick up. "Come earn your salary and get the leeches off Johnís doorstep," he demanded.

"And good morning to you too, Rodney," Elizabeth replied dryly. "Iím pleased to find that your ordeal hasnít had any lasting consequences. And Iíll be there in fifteen minutes."

"Make it ten!"

"Fifteen and youíd better have coffee waiting!" Radek growled before Elizabeth snatched her phone back. "Just stay away from the windows, Rodney, and donít open the door till we get there."

Rodney stared at the phone in amazement for a second before recovering. "Thank you, Elizabeth, I was thinking of doing both of those so Iím glad you told me not to." The phone clicked off, and he stared at John. "She was at Radekís!"

"Good for them," John said easily. "They make a good couple."

"Good for them, but not for me!" Rodney moaned, swallowing the aspirin ns washing it down with water.

"Why not for you? Iíd think having your agent involved with your cousin would guarantee that sheís going to have your best interests at heart."

"No, it means theyíre going to be bothering me even more," Rodney groaned, collapsing back on the bed. "And Radekís going to distract her all the time."

"Just like Iíll distract you." John leaned over to kiss him.

Rodney grumbled into the kiss, but was smiling by the end of it. "Oh, fine."

"See, Iím useful in all sorts of ways."

"Yes, I have noticed that, and I wonít say a word about your girlie shriek at the reporters."

John glared. "I did not shriek."

"Squeal perhaps?"

The hazel eyes narrowed still more.

"What do you think, TC?" Rodney asked the cat, who yawned widely and raised a back leg to groom himself.

"I guess he wasnít impressed with any of it."

"It would seem not," John laughed. "We should probably go down and put the coffee on. I heard Radek, and I think it would be safer if we have it ready when he gets here."

"We should get dressed first; one topless picture of you is quite enough, thanks."

John groaned. "Iím going to be the station pin-up!"

Rodney tried in vain not to snicker at that. "At least you had pants on."

"Iíd have to move to another country if not!"

"Iíd have to get a gun to keep the people from mauling you!"

John burst into laughter. "You mean youíd protect my honor? My hero!"

Rodney sniffed and stood, rubbing his back before looking for clothes to put on. "And Iíll expect to be lavished with affection for my efforts."

"I think I might be able to manage that for you." John got back up too and pulled an old, faded t-shirt out of a drawer. Once dressed, he paused at the door. "You go into the kitchen. Iíll go around and close all the blinds and drapes."

"This is so asinine," Rodney grumbled as he dragged on a loose blue t-shirt and a pair of loose jeans. "We should call your friends and have them come roust the idiots out." Still complaining, he clomped down the stairs, TC following behind, and darted into the kitchen, grateful that the blinds there were pulled.

"Good idea! Call Rononóheís in the directoryóand tell him I need him to come do pest control."

"Unless heís in the directory under ĎRononí or Ďone-man armyí, how am I supposed to find him?"

"The directory on my phone," John explained patiently. "Under Ronon."

"Ahh, well, why didnít you say so?" Rodney sniffed, finding the number and dialing it as he took got the coffee down from the cabinet and filled the carafe with water.

John rolled his eyes as he continued around the house, covering all the windows. "Ronon better get rid of them soon, or all my plants are going to die from lack of sunlight," John grumbled when he came back into the kitchen.

"Iím sure together he and Elizabeth canóRonon! We need you to come and take care of some reporters before they snap pictures of John bare-chested and sell them for obscene amounts of money that heíll never see a dime of."

John gaped at Rodney before bursting into laughter. "You have a unique way of putting things."

Rodney waved a hand in Johnís general direction as he listened to the silence on the other end of the line. "Well?"

"What exactly did they give you for the pain, and do you have any left?"

"Nothing actually, I had to take some of Johnís medicine, and why are you asking me about drugs? Come over here and earn the taxpayerís money you get paid so Elizabeth doesnít have to chase the leeches away on her own!"

There was another beat of silence, then Ronon said, "Tell Shep he owes me big. Iíll be right over."

"You owe him big," Rodney repeated as he hung up the phone, then started the coffee maker. "Think he wants a new car?"

"I think he wants me not to let you call him again," John chuckled.

"Flash or muscle?"

John stared blankly. "I think I need that coffee."

"Would he rather have a flashy car or a muscle car," Rodney said, speaking slowly and enunciating each word.

"Youíre going to give him a car?" John looked around, wondering when heíd gone down the rabbit hole. "Um, muscle."

"If he gets rid of the roaches. Actually, I may get all your fellow detectives cars, and that guy who flew the helicopter, he should get one as well, donít you think?"

John made a mental note never to slip Rodney another Tylenol 3. "I donít think thatís necessary. Itís probably against department policy."

Rodneyís lips curved in a blatant pout. "Why? Itís not like Iím asking them to cover for any illegal affairs of mine." He paused and snickered. "Though some of the things I want to do to you are probably illegal."

"Only in places we donít want to be anyway," John replied, watching him with amusement. "Is that coffee ready yet?"

"Almost," Rodney answered, after looking at the carafe. "Wanna get mugs and stuff out. Hrmmm, I guess you donít have any coffee cake or anything to offer them." He snickered again. "Radek got laid!"

"So did you," John pointed out, hoping that heíd be able to settle Rodney down some before anyone arrived. Or at least that they would be amused by him.

"Several times in fact," Rodney said smugly. "And so did you!"

"Yes, I did notice that," John said, a reminiscent smile curving his lips. "Iím hoping youíll be up to repeating it all today."

"Of course Iíll be up to itóbut what about you? Everything... feeling alright?" Before John could answer, Rodney continued. "Oh good, the coffeeís ready."

John moved behind Rodney and looped his arms around his waist, resting his chin on Rodneyís shoulder while Rodney poured the coffee. "Everythingís great. A little sore, but I like the reminder."

"Good, because I really want to do it again that wayónot that I donít love having you in me, of course!" Rodney set the mugs down and turned in Johnís arms, making a face as the counter hit one of his bruises, then ignoring it in favor of kissing the other man.

John smiled at him. "I really like it both ways too. Convenient, huh?"

"Perfect in fact. Oh! I should get you a new car too. Do you want a new car, John? Thereís the doorbell; I wonder if itís Elizabeth or Ronon or if the idiots got brave again."

John blinked and turned to watch whirlwind Rodney speed toward the door. "Definitely nothing stronger than aspirin ever again," he muttered, following him. "Make sure itís someone we know before you open that!" he yelled.

"Elizabeth! Radek!" Rodney half fell out the door trying to give them hugs, seemingly oblivious to the flashbulbs going off around them and the questions being shouted at them. "How was your date? Whenís the wedding?"

John reached out and grabbed Rodney by the back of his shirt, pulling him back inside. Elizabeth and Radek followed quickly, and they slammed the door behind them.

"What on earth?" Elizabeth exclaimed.

"Tylenol 3," John sighed. "Who knew one tablet could do this?"

"Come and have coffee. Just donít step on the cat; we donít want to have to take you to the hospitalóJohn, let go of my shirt! You can take it off later." The last was added with a flirtatious wink as Rodney slung his arms around Radek and Elizabethís shoulders and steered them toward the kitchen.

"Are you sure it wasnít something stronger?" Elizabeth asked with bemusement, letting Rodney lead her since she didnít think she could get away without losing a body part.

"Positive. I guess in addition to being allergic to a lot of things, he reacts oddly to that." John couldnít help smiling as he watched Rodneyís antics.

"Iím not acting oddly," Rodney protested, getting the others settled around the kitchen table and plunking mugs of coffee down on the table in front of them.

"Youíre being polite and likable," Radek commented. "For you, this is odd."

"I think heís cute," John said, moving to Rodneyís side and putting an arm around his shoulders.

"Thank you," Rodney beamed, pulling John in for a kiss that threatened to turn into something more until Elizabeth cleared her throat.

John looked at her a bit dazedly. "Donít you have some reporters to rout?"

"But this is so amusing," she chuckled before laughing aloud when Rodney rested his head on Johnís shoulder.

John automatically tightened his arms around Rodneyís waist, a faintly sappy smile curving his lips. "Youíre cute when youíre cuddly," he murmured too softly for anyone else to hear.

"Iím not cuddly," Rodney grumbled even as he leaned into Johnís embrace before lifting his head slightly when a loud commotion arose outside. He giggled and relaxed again. "I think Rononís here."

"I just hope he doesnít actually shoot anyone." John thought about checking but decided heíd rather stay right where he was and hold Rodney.

"It would be a public service," Radek murmured as he sipped his coffee.

"True," John mused. "But then Iíd have to arrest him. And then as his friend, Iíd have to break him out of jail, which would lead to me arresting myself. Iím sure you can see how that would get very confusing."

"Elizabeth, go calm things down," Rodney sighed.

Radek was staring at John. "I think you two deserve each other," he finally said, shaking his head.

"Much more than I do you as a cousin."

"Gee, I feel so loved," John snorted.

"It was a compliment!" Rodney protested as Elizabeth rose, shaking her head.

"I think Iím going to try to prevent the mayhem on the front porch," she laughed.

"Iím very glad you like me better than your cousin," John said placatingly, patting Rodneyís back.

"I like you more than anyone."

John beamed. "We need to get rid of everyone so we can explore that."

Radek shook his head. "Iím not leaving until Elizabeth is done."

"I wasnít really offering to let her stay and watch," John said dryly.

"I never knew you were that kinky," Rodney snickered as he nuzzled Johnís throat.

"Iím always willing to try new things when egged on by a hot musician."

Rodney beamed. "I love this man!"

Radek snorted. "I think everyoneís aware of that."

"Oh hush or I wonít buy you a car."

Radek looked at him blankly, and John chuckled. "He seems to want to buy everyone cars today."

"Except you. You I want to buy a plane or maybe one of those helicopters," Rodney announced.

John blinked. "Thatís very sweet of you, but you might want to avoid bankrupting yourself."

Rodney waved a hand in the air and would have tipped himself over except for Johnís supporting arm. "Iím richer than God, and I never spent money except on my ungrateful family, so why not?"

The front door opened, and Ronon and Elizabeth came in, grinning at each other.

"Because I donít want you to think Iím with you for your money," John said absently, distracted by the grins. "Do I even want to know what you two have done?"

"Letís just say having a police officer threatening to toss everyone in jail makes my job much easier," Elizabeth chuckled before sitting in the chair next to Radek again and smiling at him.

"Good, what kind of car do you want, Ronny?" Rodney asked. "And if I want to buy you a plane, Iím going to buy you a plane, Detective!"

Ronon looked a question at John, who shrugged. "I think heís serious. But, uh, is he really as rich as he thinks he is right now?" he asked Elizabeth.

"Youíd have to ask his financial manager, but, based on his lifestyle and how much I know how much he earns from the contracts Iíve negotiated, Iím inclined to believe that he is."

John eyed Rodney. "I still think a chopperís a bit much!"

Ronon paused in the act of pouring himself a cup of coffee. "Heís going to buy you a bike? Sweet."

Everyone turned to stare at the tall man. Everyone except John, that was; he just rolled his eyes. "A helicopter, Ronon," he explained. "A very expensive helicopter."

"Or a plane," Rodney commented. "Whatever John wants." He grinned and nuzzled Johnís neck again, sliding the hand he had around Johnís waist up under his shirt.

"He could probably use some more lessons first."

Johnís eyes widened. "Those are only in private!" he nearly yelped.

Ronon roared with laughter, "I meant flying lessons!"

"Oh, right." John flushed. "Shouldnít you be out scaring reporters out of town?" he asked almost desperately, trying to ignore the way Elizabeth and Radek were snickering.

"Itís handled, Shep," the larger man said easily.

"Though I wouldnít suggest answering the door half-dressed again."

John glared. "Iím not accustomed to being swarmed on my own doorstep!" He glanced over at Rodney. "Although I guess I should get used to it."

"Itís not normally like that," Rodney murmured.

"Glad to hear it. But I knew my life was going change when we started this."

Rodney tilted his head up and kissed Johnís jaw. "Other than the whole gay thing?"

"Yeah, even beyond that. Thatís actually pretty cool."

"Itís a good thing you gave that answer, Detective, or youíd be the next one run out of town," Elizabeth commented, making Rodney roll his eyes.

"Why does everyone feel like they have a right to comment on our lives?" John sighed.

"This is why I donít foster relationships with people." Rodney wavered again, and then yawned. "They only feel the need to meddle."

"Well, youíre stuck with me. But meddlingís not really what I prefer to do with you." John looked at the others. "Thank you all for your help. Now go away."

"As you two disturbed us this morning, Elizabeth and I will be glad to go," Radek commented, taking both of their mugs and putting them in the sink before waiting for her to rise.

"And you called begging for my help..." Ronon commented.

"Which weíre very grateful for and I just thanked you for. Now Iíd like to get back to what the damn reporters interrupted. Preferably without an audience!"

"Okay, okay, I get the hint," Ronon chuckled. "And McKay; that car? A black Ď69 Mustang would be great." Laughing when John scowled, he ducked out the back door to make a circuit of the property before leaving.

"Rodney, you do not have to buy anyone a car," John groaned.

"But I wanna."

"Why donít we talk about it later? Iím tired."

Rodney giggled and kissed Johnís jaw again. "Then maybe we should go back to bed, but I wouldnít bet on getting much rest for a while." His hand slid down to cup Johnís ass.

"I think I can live with that." John grinned and groped Rodney in turn, then he started them moving back toward the bedroom.

"I was hoping youíd say that." They made it up the stairs, and Rodney sat heavily on the edge of the bed, blinking owlishly up at John before starting to pull his own shirt up and over his head.

"Why donít you make yourself comfortable and Iíll be right back. I just want to get a glass of water." John leaned down to kiss Rodney lightly, pretty sure the other man would be out by the time he came back.

Rodney smiled up at him before pulling him in for a sloppy kiss. "Hurry back," he murmured, before letting John go so that he could walk into the bathroom, then collapsed back on the bed, snoring, a thin line of drool running down his jaw. John walked back out as soon as he heard the snores and stood looking down at him. A faint smile curved Johnís lips as he settled beside Rodney and drew the covers over them, and it widened when Rodney moved closer.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Rodney McKay."

A spotlight pierced the blackness of the stage, centering on the man sitting at the grand piano, staring at the keys. There was a momentís silence before he looked up, then out at the filled-to-capacity hall.

"Before I begin, Iím sure you all have heard about the events of the past year. Some of you, Iím sure, are here to see if I have another nervous breakdown. Some are here to see if the events of the summer left me scarred in any visible manner, and some, the smart ones, are actually here for the music.

"The compositions Iím playing tonight are the result of what Iíve been through the past year, but, more importantly, theyíre the result of the people Iíve known, or come to have known better than I did before.

"That said, Iíd like to dedicate this concert to the South Suffolk police department, to my family and friends, and, most importantly, to John, who saved me in more ways than he could ever know." Rodney quirked a smile toward the center of the front row where he knew John was sitting surrounded by his family. "And because he knows exactly what the ĎRí word means."

Applause swelled, but Rodney ignored it, turning his attention to the ivory and onyx keys before him and the music inside him.

Sitting there, watching Rodney, John had a totally sappy, completely happy grin on his face, and he didnít care who saw it. A relationship, romance, and Rodney, he had them all.




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