Originally published in the Military Intelligence zine.

Just One Drop of Water

Orithain and Rina

Written February 2006
Published July 2006
Posted August 2007

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

Wincing as he shifted in his lounge chair, Rodney McKay looked out over the gorgeous white sand beach and the foam-capped azure waves and cursed his assistant for the hundredth time that hour. It was a typical southern California day, the clear blue sky hosting white fleece clouds, an assortment of sea birds and the blazing inferno that was trying to incinerate him.

Screaming children ran into the water, then out again as waves roared in, and he swallowed the urge to scream at them to shut up already; their high-pitched shrieks were doing nothing to help his headache. All he wanted was to go up to his room, close the curtains, and sleep away the rest of the day, but no, he wasnít allowed to do that. Apparently the sun was supposed to be good for him, and Laura had confiscated his room keys and ordered him outside, protesting all the way and feeling fairly ridiculous in the clothes she had forced on him as well: brightly colored swim trunks and a faded MIT t-shirt.

Damn bitch, if she wasnít so good at her job, he would have fired her years ago, but she was excellent at her official and unofficial duties, namely keeping him from offending people to the point that they wouldnít deal with him, so he kept her onóand kept giving her raises when she did threaten to quit.

"Can I get you a drink, sir?" It was one of the waiters from the resort, and Rodney looked up at him thankfully. "A cola, and make sure thereís no lime in it, got it?"

"Yes, sir." The short, slim man nodded and started back up to the poolside bar, leaving Rodney with nothing to do but watch the water again. There had been a gorgeous, stacked blonde sun-bathing earlier, but sheíd gone inside, so he found himself watching a surfer as he rode his board in on wave after wave, paddling out again after the breaker died out.

As eye candy went, he wasnít bad: tall, tanned and slim with a shock of dark hair that defied the water to stand up in odd angles when the man shook his head to clear his ears. "Pretty, but probably has the IQ of dirt," Rodney murmured, leaning forward and forgetting for the moment that he was supposed to hate being here.

The eye candy in question rode a wave into the shallows before hopping off his board and wading ashore to get lunch. John Sheppard had been surfing since shortly after dawn, and his body was telling him that it was time to stop and refuel. He strode across the sand, intent on reaching the snack stand where heíd be able to get a burger and vegetable juice. He was nearly there when he was stopped by an indignant squawk.

"If you hadnít noticed, Moondoggie, there are other people on the beach besides you, and some of us would prefer not getting dripped all over!" Rodney said acerbically as he wiped the droplets of water from his arm.

"Awww, sorry, did I make you wait too long, Gidget? I promise you have my attention now." John gave the pale but oddly attractive man a toothy smile and sat down on the edge of his lounger, prompting another annoyed noise as the guy had to pull his feet away to avoid being sat on.

"Do you mind?" Rodney sputtered, amazed at the nerve of the other man.

"Naw, I can chat for a while before I get lunch. I have time."

Rodney drew himself up, trying not to stare at the droplets of water sliding down the other manís chest, catching in the dark hair before traveling onward to vanish at the waistband of his brightly patterned trunks. "You do realize this is a private beach, donít you? For hotel residents only."

John shrugged. "They let me use the beach, and I help out as a lifeguard when theyíre short-staffed." He saw the blue eyes return to his chest, and he held in a grin as he leaned back, flexing his muscles.

"Ahh." Rodney snapped his eyes back upward, finding that wasnít much help as the manís face was as gorgeous as his body. "Well then, Iím sure thatís very nice for you, but Iím not in need of your services, so you can toddle along now."

"Oh, but I got you wet." John made that sound as filthy and suggestive as humanly possible. "I should do something about it."

Suddenly very glad for the bagginess of his swim trunks, Rodney wet his lips before answering. "And what is it you plan on doing about it?"

John leaned a little closer, near enough that Rodney could see the flecks of green and gold in his hazel eyes. "Nothing that can be done right here," he purred.

"Do you make it a habit of trying to pick up men you just dripped on?" Rodney rasped, clenching his hands into fists to keep from reaching up to see if the strangerís sun-browned skin felt as warm as it looked.

John shrugged. "I donít usually drip on people I donít know." He moved one tanned hand to rest on the other manís ankle. "Iím John, by the way."

Rodney sucked in a quick breath and fought the urge to squirm. "Rodney, Iím Rodney. I have a room here," he added inanely, knowing this was insane. But then Laura had ordered him to have fun, and he could always blame this on her.

"Nice to meet you, Rodney." Johnís hand inched higher on Rodneyís leg until his thumb was lightly rubbing the soft, sensitive skin behind his knee.

Now Rodney couldnít help it; he did squirm, and he reached up to touch Johnís chest, the contrast between the cool droplets of water and his warm skin a delightful dichotomy. He repeated the thought aloud, and then chuckled, doubting John would know the meaning of the word. "That means good opposites," he murmured.

"Cool," John said, and if there was the faintest undertone of sardonic humor, Rodney was too intent on Johnís hand creeping up his thigh to notice it. "You said you have a room?" John said pointedly.

"Umm, yes, but no key right now; my assistant confiscated it when she tossed me out here." Rodneyís gaze flicked down to where Johnís hand was approaching the hem of his trunks, and he bit back a moan. "I suppose I could get a replacement at the front desk though."

John nodded. "Thatíd be good. The cabanas are pretty small and definitely not soundproof, and I like to take my time when Iím making something up to a man."

"Ióyes, so we should go then." The waiter approached with his Coke, and Rodney smiled over-brightly. "Do you want a cola?"

"I want you," John replied bluntly.

Rodney couldnít believe he could get harder than he was, but he did, and after scrawling his name on the bill, he waved the waiter away, not caring that the soda spilled into the sand the moment he set it down as he scrambled to his feet. "I have to ask you, do you do this often? Not that I mind, I mean, the fact that youíre going to do it with me, that weíre going to do it together. You are beautiful, and I sincerely hope you arenít going to try to strangle me because my assistantís a black belt, and sheíd have to kick your ass, and itís much too nice an ass to have that happen."

John blinked. "Wow, I donít think you breathed at all during that. No, I donít do this often, just when I see something I really, really want. And no, no strangling. Though I might make you come hard enough to pass out if things go right." He stood up as well, much more gracefully than Rodney had, and grinned when he saw the blue eyes fix on the growing bulge between his legs.

"Oh good, very, very good." Rodney pointed up toward the hotel. "We should go now; the front desk first and then upstairs. Showers would be good, to get all the sand off before anything."

"Yeah, sand really sucks," John agreed. "No part of my body, inside or out, needs to be sanded." He crowded up behind Rodney as they walked.

Rodney looked over his shoulder and licked his lips again before nodding. "I imagine you get in the sand a lot, what with your surfing and life-guarding and whatnot."

"Yeah, but I prefer not to get it in me."

"No, that would be very uncomfortable," Rodney agreed, smiling quickly and shivering as John brushed up against him.

"And uncomfortable is not what weíre aiming for." John was enjoying the way Rodney reacted to him, and he couldnít wait to find out if the man was as responsive in bed.

"No, not in the least." Deciding that if he was indeed going through with this, as it seemed he was, he might as well fully enjoy it, Rodney slowed his steps so that John bumped into him from behind, the tell-tale bulge of his erection rubbing against Rodneyís ass and causing them both to groan quietly.

"Nice," John murmured in Rodneyís ear, one hand sliding around for a quick grope while no one was looking.

"Oh fuck," Rodney whispered, pressing back against him, for the moment not caring that they were in a hallway that opened onto the hotel lobby and that anyone could come down it at any moment. Fortunately, reason asserted itself, and he recovered enough to start walking again, hyperaware of John behind him.

"Iím Dr. McKay, in suite 1242," he stated when the clerk asked if she could help him. "I seem to have misplaced my keycard while I was on the beach, and I would like another one."

John stilled at Rodneyís back, perhaps because of the knowing look on the womanís face when she looked at him, but he didnít move away. It was a matter of moments to get another card, and then the two men were on their way upstairs.

"Is that assistant you mentioned likely to be in your room now? Because Iím not really into an audience."

"No, after shoving me outside, she and her boyfriend went to the zoo to be disgustingly romantic with each other," Rodney grumbled before remembering that that situation had led to this one.

"Iím glad," John said simply. "Maybe I should buy her some flowers."

"I wouldnít suggest it," Rodney answered, watching the floors light up as the elevator ascended. "Her boyfriendís the jealous type, and heís a doctor, so he knows how to get you where it hurts.í

"Youch! Maybe not then," John agreed. "A needleís not what I want in my ass."

Rodney glanced over at John when he said that, and he grinned. "Exactly." The elevator chimed softly, and when the doors opened on a large, marble-floored hallway, Rodney led John to the second door on the left and swiped the keycard through the reader, glancing back at him and quirking a self-conscious smile before opening the door. "Itís probably a mess, so ignore it."

"Itís going to be a lot messier," John promised, his voice husky as he followed Rodney inside. The moment the door swung shut behind him, he grabbed Rodney and pushed him up against it, kissing him deeply.

Rodney moaned into the kiss, his hands coming up to clutch at Johnís back, fingers digging into his skin, feeling the muscles bunch and flex beneath it. His mouth opened beneath Johnís, and he sucked on Johnís tongue before chasing it back into his mouth to taste him for the first time.

Since Rodney wasnít trying to get away, John released his grip and slid his arms around Rodneyís waist to cup his ass, pulling him up into the cradle of his hips. They both groaned at the increased pressure on their cocks. John suddenly pulled away from the kiss to pull Rodneyís t-shirt off and then lowered his head to worry an already rigid nipple.

"John..." Rodney moaned, tangling his hands in the dark, messy hair and leaning heavily against the door, sure that his knees were going to give out at any second.

John smirked up at him. "You taste good. Iíll bet all of you does." And that was all the warning he gave before dropping to his knees and nuzzling Rodney through his trunks.

"I thought... shower," Rodney gasped before most of his higher brain functions vanished and all he could do was moan.

"After I taste you. No sand here," John murmured, his lips brushing Rodneyís flesh with every syllable.

"No, no there isnít." Rodney snickered at that, his laughter sounding almost hysterical as he allowed himself to think about just what he was doing and how stupid it was, but then he looked down at John, who was absorbed in his explorations, and he didnít care.

As he was looking downward, Johnís tongue darted out to lap at the head of his cock, tasting him thoroughly while John made breathy noises of pleasure. "You taste really good," John purred before closing his lips tightly around the tip and suckling.

Rodney whimpered in answer, his breath coming in short pants as he watched John taste him, and his hips jerked slightly at the obvious pleasure the other man took in his flavor. John hummed his delight and opened his mouth wider, letting more of Rodney slip in. He curled his hands over Rodneyís ass again, tugging slightly to urge him to move.

"You... should be... oh fuck!" Giving in to the sensual goads, Rodney began to rock his hips back and forth between the solid support of the door and Johnís warm, wet mouth, moving faster and harder with each squeeze of his ass, his fingers once more tangling in Johnís hair to hold him in place.

Now that Rodney was moving, John let his hands play over the tight ass they were cupping, his fingertips lightly feathering the sensitive skin between the cheeks.

It had been quite a while since anyone had touched Rodney this way, and he knew he wasnít going to last. "John," he gasped, trying to pull back, "Iím going to come."

The sound that John made was closer to a rumbling purr than anything other than a lion should have been able to make, but it more than adequately expressed his approval of the idea. That growling vibration did Rodney in, and he gasped, bucking forward, his fingers tightening cruelly in Johnís hair as he came, his whole body shuddering.

John swallowed eagerly, holding Rodney close until the last spasm passed, and then he pulled back just enough to lick the softening shaft still in his mouth, making sure he didnít miss a single drop.

"You," Rodney panted, staring down at John with something akin to horrified amazement, "you swallowed."

John licked his lips and shrugged. "I donít have any ulcers, sores, cuts, scrapes or any other form of open wound. And Iím willing to bet that you probably get yourself tested every time someone sneezes in the same room, so it seemed pretty safe. Besides, there hasnít been a single recorded case of AIDS from oral sex. And this saves the rubbers for the fucking." He stood up and kissed Rodney hard, letting him taste himself in Johnís mouth.

"Oh," Rodney replied as if in a daze before shaking his head, thinking that he must sound like an idiot. "Yes, thatís true, Iím just surprised..." He caught himself before he admitted he was surprised that John knew these facts.

"Iím all about safety." John grinned quickly. "Now about that fucking..." He stepped back, drawing Rodney with him, and started backing toward the bedroom.

Recovering, Rodney stepped out of his bathing suit before it tripped him and caught up to John, running a hand down his chest to his groin. "We could do that, or we could take that shower, and I could take your edge off as well."

"Or we could do both." John thrust into Rodneyís hand, groaning softly.

"That would work as well." Rodney gave a half-grin and leaned in to kiss John, taking his time in exploring his mouth as he continued to stroke his erection through the damp material of his swimsuit.

Whimpering into the kiss, John fumbled at his waist, his normal easy grace long gone as his arousal grew. He wanted the clothes off now. Shifting his hands, Rodney helped as much as he was able, the clingy material proving a frustrating hindrance before they finally peeled it away, leaving John totally bare before him.

Rodney groaned at the sight; Johnís cock was long and thick and shiny with precome, and he wanted it now. "Forget the shower," he rasped before kissing John again and rubbing their bodies together. "I want you in me."

"Bed. Lube. Rubber." John punctuated every word with a kiss, and his fingers dug into Rodneyís ass as he held him close.

"Let go and we can get them all," Rodney smirked, glad he was making John as crazy as heíd been not long before.

John shook his head, grinning. "Donít have to let go to get there. Just follow my lead." He took a step backward, the movement causing their groins to rub together in interesting ways.

"And just how do you know where everything is here?"

"Standard hotel suite layout." John kissed him again as he kept them moving toward the bedroom.

"Hmmm." Rodney decided it wasnít worth worrying about and kept in step with John, nowhere near getting hard yet, but enjoying the feeling of Johnís cock rubbing against him.

"Besides, there are only two doors," John pointed out. "Oneís going to be the bedroom and one the bathroom. If I get the wrong one the first time, Iíll go for door number two." One hand released Rodneyís ass to go to Johnís mouth, where he sucked lewdly on two fingers before sliding them back between Rodneyís cheeks, one lightly rubbing his entrance.

"Hrmm, guess youíre smarter than I thought," Rodney laughed breathlessly, steering them toward the first door so he could grab his overnight case and get the supplies they needed.

John gave him a wry smile but didnít comment, instead nibbling on his collarbone while the tip of his finger slipped inside Rodney. A soft whine greeted that move, and Rodney stopped walking for a second before he recovered and trailed his fingers over Johnís balls while he groped in his bag with the other, hoping against hope the supplies werenít past their expiry date. John shivered, glad they werenít moving for a moment, and he slowly pressed deeper, crooking his finger.

"Bedroom. Now." Rodney stated, though the hunger in his voice took the edge off his commands, not that he really cared at the moment.

"Good plan. Beds are good," John agreed breathlessly, his erection throbbing. He backed toward the door again, moving more rapidly if more shakily now, and his eyes were dark with lust as he stared at Rodney.

"Other one," Rodney gasped, nodding at the second door in the bathroom. "Goes right to the bedroom." His steps were careful as he tried not to jar Johnís finger from his ass, and he held onto the condoms and lube with a death grip, finally releasing them when they were next to the bed and stopped for more kissing again.

"Fuck, you taste good," John rasped when he finally released Rodneyís mouth again. He carefully pulled his finger out of Rodney, smiling slightly at the sound of protest, and tumbled them onto the bed. He flipped Rodney onto his stomach and dove in, his tongue flicking over the slightly loosened ring of muscle with no warning.

Words deserted Rodney, and he moaned, spreading his legs wider and rocking back against the hot, slick tease, fisting his hand against his mouth so that he didnít scream when John finally pressed his tongue inside.

John groaned with pleasure at the musky, male taste of him, and his hands held Rodneyís cheeks apart so that he could get in deep and make Rodney squirm.

"Oh god..." Rodney couldnít believe this. He was getting hard again, and he was too old for this; he was going to have a heart attack and oh fuck the way Johnís tongue felt. He whimpered around his fist and pushed back, wanting more.

John slid one hand down to roll Rodneyís balls and pet his cock, and he grinned wickedly when he realized Rodney was filling again. He hadnít been sure if it would work, but he was delighted with the results. There was nothing he liked better than feeling his partner come while he was fucking him, so he was really going to enjoy this. And so was Rodney. He pushed his tongue into Rodney again, wriggling it the tiny amount possible inside the tight channel.

"Stop being a fucking sadist and fuck me already," Rodney hissed, his hips twitching as Johnís long fingers played over his cock and balls.

"Just wanted to make sure you were going to enjoy it as much as I am," John chuckled against him, finally sitting up and reaching for the lube.

Rodney squirmed, and he twisted around to glare back at the other man. "So glad youíre a philanthropist."

"Huh?" John raised his head to give Rodney a blank look even as he coated two fingers in the slick gel and pushed one inside him.

"Donít worry about it," Rodney chuckled before the finger inside of him hit his prostate, giving him things to think of other than how gorgeous but dim John was.

"Whatever you say." John watched Rodney squirm on his finger, and he groaned, getting desperate to get inside him. He added another finger, grateful that it slid in fairly easily, and he used his free hand to slide the rubber onto his cock and cover it with lube.

"I say fuck me already!" Rodney practically screamed, shoving back against the fingers inside him but needing more.

"Anybody ever told you youíre a really pushy bottom?" John chuckled breathlessly. He waited a second, giving Rodney a chance to rev up for another rant, and then he pulled his fingers free and pushed into him.

"Just wait until I fuck you," Rodney hissed though he was unable to stop himself from pushing back until John was all the way inside him, drawing a needy groan from his lips.

"Iím looking forward to it. But right now, Iím the one fucking you." John wrapped his arms around Rodneyís waist and drew him up onto all fours, then up into a kneeling position, sitting on Johnís lap. "Oh yeah, full access," John purred in his ear, hands sweeping over Rodneyís chest and belly and cock.

Rodney gasped as John settled deeper into him, and arched his back, reaching back as he turned his head, needing to taste John. Liking that idea, John twisted and leaned as well until their mouths met in a hungry kiss. He rocked his hips, moving minutely inside Rodney.

"Oh yes, that feels good," Rodney whispered against Johnís mouth, catching one hand and bringing it down to his own erection while they moved together.

"Yeah, Iím really glad I dripped on you."

Rodney snorted out a laugh and shuddered when John thrust forward into him. "I could have done without that, but thisóthis is good."

"Donít worry, youíre not the Wicked Witch of the West, so you wonít melt." John bit the side of Rodneyís neck, not painfully, but hard enough that he could feel his teeth, then started laving the Ďinjuryí with his tongue.

"Thatísóahhónot what my staff says." Needing more, Rodney began to circle his hips over Johnís lap, closing his eyes as he felt the thick erection slide in and out of him.

John groaned, his eyes closing as he reveled in the sensations. He rocked leisurely under Rodney, increasing the range of motion, and they both moaned at the sensation. Rodney tightened his hand down on Johnís and squeezed his ass down around his cock as they moved, at times on the verge of tipping forward as their balance wavered.

Wanting to feel Rodney come, John tightened his fist around the cock he was stroking and began to pump more rapidly. At the same time he began to murmur in Rodneyís ear, telling him good he felt, how hot and tight he was, and what other things John wanted to do to him.

Rodney stiffened and, giving in to the multiple stimulations, came, his head resting on Johnís shoulder as he gasped out his pleasure. After riding the edge for so long, that was all it took to make John come, and spasms were still rippling through Rodney when John arched up hard and groaned harshly as his climax ripped through him.

Shivering as he felt John pumping inside him, Rodney slowly relaxed, finally turning his head and nuzzling Johnís neck, tasting saltwater, sweat, and finally the man beneath it all.

"Mmm, nice," John murmured, still lazily petting Rodney.

"Yes, it was," Rodney sighed, beginning to shift to get off the other man. Once heíd moved, John dealt with the condom and then stretched out on the bed.

"So, you gonna let me stick around for you to do me?"

"Well, I was thinking we could order room service and relax a little before that..."

"Great!" John beamed a wide, happy smile at him.

Rodneyís smile was one of relief. "Glad to hear it; you want to call for something now?"

"Sounds good. I never did get lunch."

"Sorryóno, wait, Iím not," Rodney laughed, rolling to his side to get the room service menu from the bedside table and handed it over. "What would you like?"

After a quick glance through the choices, John chose the hot turkey sandwich and coffee. "Do we have time for a shower before it gets here?"

"Well, if you let me order it, weíll find out," Rodney shot back, before smiling apologetically. "But we should have time."

"Great. Iím heading for that shower now. Salt water and come leave me feeling really sticky."

"Let me call this in and then Iíll join you." Rodney picked up the phone and glanced over to where John was walking into the bathroom, enjoying the way his ass flexed with each step, hoping he hadnít turned the other man off with his sarcasm.

John paused in the doorway and looked back over his shoulder. "Hurry up. I need my back scrubbed." He grinned and disappeared into the room.

"Do I look like a bath servant?" Rodney yelled, though he was grinning as he spoke, and the smile stayed while he ordered their food.

"Youíd better learn if you expect me to re-return the favor!"

"Re-return?" Rodney murmured to himself. "Thatís a new one." But even as he was saying that, he was tossing the room service menu aside and walking toward the bathroom where he could hear the shower running. Pushing open the glass door, he stepped inside and ran his hands up Johnís back, almost purring with pleasure at the feeling of the slick skin under his palms.

"Mmm, you have great hands," John moaned, "big, strong. I love the way you touch me."

"Itís such a hardship," Rodney chuckled, reaching around to squirt some of his hypoallergenic liquid soap into his hand, working up a lather before beginning to wash Johnís back. John moaned happily and braced his arms against the wall in front of him, arching his back as he enjoyed being cared for.

Unable to resist, Rodney leaned in and kissed the back of Johnís neck, sliding his arms around him for a quick hug before getting more soap and starting washing his front.

"For the record, Rodney, you make a great bath servant."

Rodney snorted out a laugh. "So I have a second career to fall back on; Iím glad to hear it."

"Not everyone can say that."

"That they have a second career to fall back on?"

"Yup. And bath servant has some great fringe benefits."

"Oh, so you have experience with them?"

"Just thinking of what Iíd be willing to offer."

"Surfing lessons?" Rodney poured out some shampoo and massaged it into Johnís hair.

Nearly purring, it took a moment for John answer. "Sure, but I was actually referring to my own hot bod." He grinned.

"Hrmmm, it is a good incentive," Rodney chuckled, tilting Johnís head back to rinse the bubbles from his hair.

"Glad you approve." John straightened up once the shampoo was rinsed out and reached for the shampoo. "My turn."

"And weíll see if you get another shot at my hot bod," Rodney smirked self-deprecatingly.

"Iíll just have to work extra hard to convince you."

"I think I can live with that."

"This day is turning out a lot better than Iíd hoped when I got up this morning."

Rodney chuckled and leaned back into the massaging touch. "And I may actually have to thank Lauraóbut not too much!"

"You can give her my thanks too... since you say she has a jealous boyfriend."

"And believe me, getting a Scotsman mad at you isnít a good thing."

John blinked. "Um, you can definitely do any thanking required." He moved Rodney under the water to rinse the shampoo out, then started washing him.

Rodney chuckled and stretched, enjoying the way Johnís hands moved over him. "Donít worry, Iíll protect you from Carson." He paused then, wondering why he even was entertaining the idea that John would meet the other couple.

"I hope it wonít be an issue this afternoon. Twoís company and all that."

"Exactly; twoís company and Iím generally the third, so no, not a problem."

"My good luck," John said. "Youíre the best company Iíve had for a while."

Rodney glanced back over his shoulder, his raised eyebrows expressing his disbelief in someone like John not having much company.

"I like being with you. You donít expect anything from me. Aside from sex, of course."

"Hmm, I could say the sameówell, except for lunch, of course."

"You wouldnít want me to run out of energy, would you?" The hazel eyes were sparkling mischievously.

Rodney chuckled at that. "Why do I get the feeling it takes a lot to wear you down?"

"Shall we try to find out?"

"Iíll even spring for dinner if itíll help."

"Mmm, I think I could get to enjoy being a kept man," John laughed. "What are my chances of managing breakfast?"

Rodney turned around at that and looked at John carefully. "So you donít have to work in the morning?"

"Nope, not this week."

Wondering if the sun had gotten to him, Rodney found himself nodding. "Then Iíd say breakfast is a strong possibility as well, but you might need something to wear other than your bathing suit."

"I have some actual clothes in my car. I was planning to change after lunch."

"You could bring them up here if you wanted."

John nodded. "A little later. Itís not like I need the clothes right now."

"True, they might get soggy in the shower."

"Not to mention that Iím all in favor of easy access."

"Then youíd better stay in the bedroom when the food gets here or else the server might get more of a tip than he or she bargained for."

"Ohh, you mean youíre going to serve me lunch in bed?"

Rodney snorted out a laugh at that. "Iíll bring the tray in; I believe youíre old enough to serve yourself." He reached for the water, turned it off and grabbed towels for both of them.

"Damn. It was worth a shot." John leaned in for another kiss.

"If I wanted a spoiled, toadying sycophant, I could have had one long ago."

"If I promise not to toady, would you reconsider spoiling me?" John tried to pout, but he couldnít hold it and burst into laughter instead.

"I donít even spoil my cats," Rodney sniffed before smiling as well as he dried off.

"Hmm, I guess I could spoil you instead."

"Sure, go ahead, I like that idea." This time, Rodney leaned over and kissed John before walking back into the bedroom to put on some clothes. "If you need to wash this out," he commented, poking Johnís bathing suit with his toes, "go for it."

"Thanks. Iíll be in the bedroom when Iím done. Let me know when itís safe to come out to eat. No crumbs in bed."

"Is that a request or an order?"

"A request. Iím hoping to make more use of that bed, and itís more fun without crumbs."

Rodney chuckled. "I think we can restrain ourselves for long enough to eat at the table, or, if you want to borrow a pair of pants, we could eat on the balcony."

"Thatíd work if youíve got a pair of sweats I can use."

"Check the bottom drawer in the dresser; I think I brought a pair." There was a knock at the door, and Rodney ran a hand through his hair. "That should be the food; Iíll be back in a minute."

John reached out to grab him and pull him close for a quick kiss. "Iím glad I met you, Rodney."

Rodney grinned. "And Iím glad you dripped on me, John." He actually flushed at that and ducked out of the bedroom to answer the door.

"Me too," John murmured, though he was frowning slightly before he finished drying off and padded into the bedroom to look in the dresser for sweats. Finding them, he wandered out to the main room just as Rodney was signing for lunch.

Rodney scrawled his signature on the bill and waved him out, coming close to booting him in the ass when he moved too slowly. "Well, it smells good any way. I havenít eaten here yet; we got in late last night, and Laura kicked me out with only a power bar for breakfast." He tried to look woebegone at the last.

John made a face. "How can you eat those things? Theyíre awful."

"Excuse me? Awful? I think you can leave now."

"Think of it this way; I wonít be stealing any of them from you."

"Hrmmm, good point." Rodney wheeled the cart over to the balcony and took the covers off the plates, picking up his meal and carrying it outside.

John followed suit with his hot turkey sandwich, inhaling happily. "Thanks for lunch, by the way. Youíll have to let me buy you a meal some time."

"Well, Iím here for a week, so there should be time for that when Iím not in meetings." Rodney set his plate on the small table and sat down, cutting into his steak and nodding when it didnít bleed. "Good, they cooked it correctly."

John eyed the steak and wondered why someone would bother eating it when it was cooked to the consistency of leather, but he already knew better than to comment. "The turkeyís great too." He cut into the sandwich that was stacked the thick slices of breast meat and covered in rich brown gravy, and he moaned happily as he took a bite.

Rodney chuckled as he watched the other man eat. "I bet you must love Thanksgiving."

"Especially the leftovers!"

"So," Rodney asked after eating a few more bites of his meal, "are you from around here?"

"Now, yeah. We traveled around a lot when I was a kid; my dad was military. But when he retired, we finally settled down, here, and now I can keep a year-round tan." John hid a grin in his coffee.

"I certainly hope you use sun-block; do you know the incidence of skin cancer here is second only to that in Florida?"

John gawked at him. "My God, is there anything youíre not paranoid about?"

"Itís not paranoia if itís a fact." Rodney sounded wounded before he caught himself. "And I brought you up here, a total stranger."

"True. So I guess I shouldnít complain about where you choose to be adventurous." John half stood and leaned over the table to brush an apologetic kiss over Rodneyís lips.

"Insane is more like it," Rodney muttered, though he was smiling when John sat down again.

"Everyone needs a little insanity in their life."

"At least until they take you to the asylum."

"Would you bring me a cake with a file in it?"

"I think Iím the one whoís going to end up in the asylum at this rate."

"Iíll make conjugal visits," John promised.

"Youíre all heart, such devotion after sex and a meal."

"Thatís because Iím a great guy." John grinned before biting into a fry.

Rodney shook his head as he took another bite of his food. "Well, I like what Iíve seen so far."

John looked down at himself clad only in Rodneyís sweats, and his grin widened. "I donít think thereís much left to see."

"I meant personality wise," Rodney snorted, taking a fry from Johnís plate and throwing it at him.

"Well, I didnít think youíd be letting me spend the night if you thought I was serial killer," John said wryly, catching the fry in mid-air and munching on it.

"Hrmmm, good sex versus the possibility of death..."

John laughed. "Might be worth the risk? I promise not to kill you except with pleasure."

"Iíd prefer not to die at all, thank you!"

"Yeah, that would kind of put an end to any more fun."

"And then thereís the jail term," Rodney added dryly.

"And there wouldnít be anyone left to give me conjugal visits."

"Iím sure youíd make lots of friends in the pen." Rodney grinned and switched to a horrible version of a southern drawl. "You got a purty mouth, boy."

John groaned. "I think we need to put your mouth to better use!"

"Let me finish eating; if my blood sugar gets too low, Iíll pass out, and that wouldnít be fun for either of us."

"Naw, Iím not into necó" John coughed, "necking with unconscious men."

"I appreciate that," Rodney laughed, taking another of Johnís fries and eating it.

"So eat up. You promised to fuck me next."

"You know, dessertís always been my favorite part of the meal."

"Maybe we should just skip to that then."

"Remember what I said about passing out?"

"Well then, quit talking and eat!" Johnís smile took the bite out of the words, and he dug into his own meal.

Rodney chuckled and went back to eating, stretching out his leg under the table to rub his bare foot against Johnís. John looked up and smiled.

"I can tell that dessertís going to be really good."

"Cream-covered surfer, one of my favorites."

"Have it often, do you?"

"Never, but Iím looking forward to it now."

"Iíll do my best to make sure it lives up to your expectations."

Rodney grinned as he finished the last of his steak and baked potato. "If it doesnít, youíll be sure to know."

"Iíd just have to try again Ďtil I got it right." John mopped up the last drops of gravy with a fry and pushed his empty plate aside. "That was great, thanks."

"Glad you liked it." Rodney ran his toes up the inside of Johnís leg, rubbing them against his crotch when they finally reached that level.

Inhaling sharply, John spread his legs and leaned back in his chair, heavy-lidded eyes watching Rodney. "Thatís not all I like."

"So, what else do you like, John?"

"I like snarky guys with adventurous spirits and flexible toes," John laughed breathlessly.

Rodney laughed out loud at that before standing up and walking around the table to slide his hands down Johnís chest while he nibbled on his ear. "Glad to hear it."

"Suddenly Iím wondering why I bothered with the sweats." John pulled Rodney down onto his lap, his hands running over the other man eagerly.

"We can get rid of them when we get back in bed."

John immediately stood up, hanging on to Rodney to keep from toppling him to the floor. Once the other man was steady on his feet, John grabbed Rodneyís ass and pulled him even closer. "So what are we waiting for?"

"You to let go of me so I can walk without falling over," Rodney laughed.

"Think of it as a grownup version of a three-legged race," John suggested, pulling him even closer and rocking against him while taking a step.

"Do you have a fetish for clinging to people?" Rodney laughed though he didnít try to move away.

"Actually, no, not usually, but I think Iíll make an exception for you." John grinned, anticipating the reaction to his next words. "Youíre cuddly."

Rodneyís jaw dropped. "Iím seriously beginning to wonder about your sanity."

"Naw, I just like what I see."

"Well, Iím glad for that, but just so you know, Iíve never been called cuddly in my life."

"Not my fault everyone youíve known till now was blind. But Iím glad I benefit."

Rodney shrugged off the comment and shuffled both of them back into the bedroom, his hands sliding down underneath the sweatpants John was wearing to cup his ass.

"Mmm, I really love your hands," John groaned, biting his lower lip and letting his head fall back.

"My hands love being on you."

They made it to the bed, and Rodney pushed Johnís sweats off completely before letting go of him to drag at his own clothes. Sprawled where heíd landed in the middle of the bed, John folded one arm behind his head and lazily stroked himself with the other hand while watching Rodney avidly.

"Damn," Rodney murmured, wrenching off the rest of his garments and climbing on top of John. Braced above him on his hands and knees, Rodney leaned in to kiss him. John groaned into the kiss, his hands gripping Rodneyís wrists as he squirmed under him, wanting to feel his weight.

Dropping down slowly, Rodney rubbed his entire length against Johnís body, moaning at the delicious sensation. "Any way you like best?" he rasped, nuzzling Johnís throat.

"God, what a choice!" John groaned. "I usually like being on all fours, but I want to be able to see your face." He nearly whimpered with pleasure, and he squirmed, wanting more.

"Well, we can try one way now and another one later," Rodney offered.

"Mmm, I have a feeling Iím not going to be able to walk by the time I actually leave here. And I love that." John grinned crookedly as he rolled over onto his stomach under Rodney and pushed up onto his hands and knees, moaning when Rodneyís cock slotted between his cheeks.

"You started it!" Rodney laughed, smacking John on the flank before rubbing up against him.

"And Iím hoping we never finish it," John retorted, his voice trailing off into a throaty moan as he arched his back.

"Well, I have stamina, but Iím not sure about forever," Rodney chuckled, rocking back and forth, rubbing his cock against Johnís ass.

"Weíll just have to give it our best shot. Oh fuck yeah, that feels good."

"Got something thatíll feel even better." Rodney pulled back and grabbed the lube from the bed. He slicked up his fingers before pressing one into Johnís ass, his own cock twitching as the tight heat surrounded him.

"Oh yeah, thatís good," John panted. He braced himself on one hand so he could scrabble on the nightstand for a rubber, which he tossed back to Rodney. "Now fuck me!"

"Pushy, pushy!" Rodney laughed, crooking the finger inside John while he ripped open the packet with his teeth and rolled the rubber onto his cock before slathering lube on it.

John growled, his whole body tense and almost quivering with anticipation. When he felt Rodney settle against him again, he forced himself to relax, his back arching unconsciously as he waited.

"Damn," Rodney whispered, staring hungrily at the lean lines of Johnís back before giving into temptation. After pulling his finger out of Johnís ass, he placed his cock at the tight entrance and slowly pushed in, gritting his teeth to keep from coming instantly at the heat engulfing him.

"Oh God yeah, just like that," John rasped, his back bowing even more deeply.

Rodney whimpered in answer though his hips were moving, finding a steady rhythm. John rocked back into every thrust, tightening down on him with each stroke. Leaning in, Rodney licked a path up Johnís spine and reached around to stroke his cock, jacking it in time with their movements and loving the noises John was making beneath him.

It felt incredible, and John wanted it never to end even while he reached for his climax. He could hear his own soft moans of arousal, punctuated by the faint sounds of their bodies slapping together, and he thought it was the hottest thing heíd ever heard. "Feels so good," he panted, rocking between Rodneyís cock and hand.

"Oh yes," Rodney whispered, holding back from slamming into John, wanting to make this last.

"Donít ever stop," John panted, his fists clenching in the rumpled sheets. He spread his legs a little wider, trying to open himself more, wanting more of Rodney.

"Wish that could be the case." Leaning in again, Rodney pinched Johnís nipple with his free hand, tightening his grasp on his cock at the same time.

"Everyone needs a goal," John gasped, whimpering at Rodneyís touch. He stopped trying to force his quivering arms to support him, instead lowering his upper body to the bed, his head turned to the side and pillowed on a forearm. The change in angle made him yelp with pleasure when Rodney scored a direct hit on his prostate, and he pushed back hard.

"Mine is to enjoy you as much as possible," Rodney gasped, giving up trying to stay in control of the moment. Tightening his hand around Johnís erection, he slammed forward, feeling his balls drawing up.

"And a lau-vely one it is," John panted, whimpering hungrily as Rodney stepped up the pace. He clenched down on Rodneyís cock, his whole body tensing and then spasming when he came with Rodneyís next thrust against his prostate.

A quiet moan greeted that comment as Rodney rode out Johnís climax, holding still until the tremors around him stopped before beginning to thrust again, both hands now gripping the slim hips beneath him, fingers tightening as he finally came.

John groaned his pleasure as he felt the spasms of Rodneyís orgasm, and when Rodney slumped over him, John carefully lowered himself to the bed with Rodney still buried inside him. Although... "We definitely need to move out of the wet spot."

Rodney chuckled as he rolled off of Johnís back and stretched. "Iím going to have to call housekeeping, and you know what, I donít give a fuck that theyíll know exactly what weíve been up to."

John followed him, ending up half-sprawled on top of Rodney, and he grinned. "Jealousy will get them nowhere."

"Exactly," Rodney laughed, stroking one palm over Johnís ass before yawning. "Hrmmm, I think you wore me out."

"Thatís okay. You already promised me breakfast, so we have hours to go. I think I can afford to let you recharge."

"Goodness, sexy and nice too, where did you come from?"

"Well, my mom says she was drunk..."


"She does usually laugh when she says that, so who knows."

"Youíre crazy, you know that?"

"My last girlfriend mentioned it just before she threw my DVDs at me and slammed the door in my face."

"Thatís still better than what my last boyfriend called me," Rodney chuckled. "And crazy is okay; crazy is pretty good in fact."

"It keeps life from getting boring. And you must be pretty crazy yourself, or we wouldnít be here."

"Crazy just about covers it," Rodney sighed ruefully. "Not that Iím complaining."

"Best crazy thing Iíve ever done."

"So youíve done many, then?"

"Oh, a few. But they donít often turn out this well."

"So this is inclining you to do more crazy things?"

"I donít think Iím done with this one yet. Lots of potential left to explore." John shifted a fraction closer, rubbing his cheek against Rodneyís shoulder and practically purring with contentment.

Rodney chuckled, though he didnít move away, and, in fact, he tightened his arms around John. "Youíre going to kill me, but I like it."

"I promise to give you mouth to mouth to bring you back."

"Just mouth to mouth?" Rodney chuckled.

"Iíll provide whatever heroic measures are required."

"And then Iíll have to reward you suitably."

"Your turn to kill me," John said.

"Just not in the next hour!"

"No," John laughed. "The only thing I want in the next hour is sleep!"

"An excellent idea." Rodney closed his eyes, planning on doing just that and moved them both around until he was comfortable. After squirming a little to get his ass back out of the wet spot, John drifted off to sleep.

The next time John opened his eyes, the room was bathed in the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the open windows, and he and Rodney were tangled together in the middle of the huge bed with feet of empty space on either side of them. He smiled crookedly at the way theyíd clung together as if to a favorite toy, and he turned his head to brush a kiss over the shoulder heíd been using as a pillow.

"What? Who? Oh, itís you." Rodney gave a somewhat embarrassed grin and tightened his arm around Johnís waist. "Sleep well?"

"Great." John offered him a sleepy smile. "A good workoutíll do that for you. And you make a really good pillow." Before he could say anything else, the door was flung open, and an auburn-haired woman came in, already talking.

"Rodney, if youíre working again, I swear Iíll..." She trailed off, her eyes widening comically as she stared at the two men in the bed. And with the sheets tangled around their ankles, she was getting a very good look at them. "Oh my."

"So is he, Laura?" A tall, somewhat stocky man entered next and blinked before stifling a laugh at the sight of Rodney grabbing for the sheet to cover himself and his guest.

"As you can see, I am not working; now will both of you kindly leave!" Rodney hissed, glaring at them from over the top of the sheet.

John groaned into the pillow heíd pulled over his head and prayed to wake up soon.

Rodneyís comment and the distressed sound from the other man woke Laura from her surprise, and she blushed. Stuttering apologies, she backed toward the door, only to stop and frown at Rodney. "Heís not a hooker, is he?"

John let out another, louder groan.

"Now, Laura, this is Rodney; do ye seriously believe heíd risk his health by hiring a professional to have sex with him?" Carson was still watching the men on the bed, his expression amused.

"Cadman, youíre fired, and, Carson, Iím calling the AMA and telling them youíre a terrible doctor! And not that you deserve to know, but this is John, and heís staying here now."

A tousled dark head poked out of the bedding, and John regarded Rodney with bemusement, beginning to smile. "I am?"

Now Rodney transferred his glare to his bed partner. "You said you wanted breakfast; if you think Iím feeding you if you donít stay here, youíre crazy!"

"Oh, for tonight. Of course. It sounded like... Anyway, yeah, Iím staying here tonight." He offered a smile tinged with embarrassment to the other two. "So yeah, Iím John."

"Laura." She grinned at him. "Nice ass."

John flopped back and pulled the pillow back over his face.

"I have ta agree, lad." Carson slid an arm around Lauraís waist as he spoke. "Though I have seen several that beat it." He glanced down Lauraís back, then winked.

"Glad to hear it, now can you two go and make a baby or something so we can take a shower and get dressed?" Rodney grumbled, grabbing the pillow from John and throwing it toward the other couple.

"Weíll be waiting in the restaurant for you," Laura announced. "And if you donít show for dinner, weíll order the most expensive things on the menu and charge it all to you!" she added, knowing Rodney.

"Get out!" Rodney roared, throwing the one remaining pillow on the bed at the other two, who fled, laughing. "Why do I pay her?" he groaned, collapsing back onto the mattress and closing his eyes.

"She obviously cares about you." John cautiously came out from under the covers, peering around to make sure the other two were gone. "Okay, that was incredibly embarrassing."

"Understatement of the year," Rodney sighed. "And yes, that and the fact that she refuses half the raises I offer tells me a lot about her."

"In other words, sheís actually a friend, and you arenít quite sure what to do about it." John was amused by Rodneyís predicament. "Sheís got you by the balls. Well, not literally. I would have noticed that."

"Oh, thank you for that horrid thought!" Rodney grumbled, glowering at John. "And to think I actually tried to protect your dignity; for this, you get to sit next to her and have her grill you."

"You wouldnít!"

Rodney smirked. "You want to try me, cutestuff?

"Um, is it too late for me to convince you otherwise?"

"As if either of us could get it up again any time soon."

"Iím willing to put it on account."

"Oh, get up and get out of bed so that we canófuck, you donít have anything to wear! They have a store here, right?" Rodney scrambled out of the bed and began pawing through the hotel promotional materials, searching for a directory.

"I... Iím sure I could get something from home that would be okay," John suggested.

"No time for that, Laura and Carson are heading down to the restaurant now. What size do you wearówait, write it all down; Iíll have them bring something up."

"But I... I didnít expect you to buy me things," John said helplessly.

Rodney smiled at him. "Thatís why I donít mind doing it. Now write!"

"I..." John looked at the determined expression on Rodneyís face, sighed and started writing. "Canít we just rent something?" he muttered.

"No time and itíll be cheaper than whatever Laura would manage to find at the restaurant; if weíre late sheíll sniff out the most expensive bottle of wine they have and drink it all before we even get there."

John groaned. "I just donít want you to think Iím using you for this stuff. I just like spending time with you, Rodney."

"John, give me the list and get in the shower before I drag you down to dinner just the way you are!"

"Have I mentioned yet that youíre pushy!" John reluctantly handed over the list of his sizes and stood up from bed, stretching, before he padded into the bathroom, still naked.

"See, youíre getting to know me better already!" Rodney laughed, punching the number in for the clothing store, watching John admiringly before he had to turn his attention to the list when the clerk answered.

John stood under the shower, eyes closed as the water poured over his upturned face and his outstretched arms braced against the wall to support him.

"That worried about what I picked out for you?" Rodney asked when he came in the bathroom. "They promised to have it all up here in ten minutes, so weíve got to be quick.

"Rodney, I... thank you." John sighed and reached for the other man, drawing him into the shower and into his arms so he could press a kiss to the mobile lips.

"Hey, itís not like Iím broke or anything, and this was more fun than shopping for myself."

"I can pay you back, you know. I donít want this to be about money." John was looking away uneasily, clearly uncomfortable.

Rodney paused in the act of washing and looked at John. "If this bothers you that much, Iíll tell them to take it back and let Laura know we wonít be there."

"No. I... No. Iím overreacting, I know. Sorry. Just... Never mind." John shook his head. "Iím looking forward to dinner."

"You sure? As strange as this sounds, I donít want to fuck this upówhatever this is." Rodney smiled slightly. "In case you havenít noticed, Iím somewhat pushy."

"And in case you havenít noticed, Iím not exactly a pushover." John kissed him lightly. "Iím just worried about me fucking it up. I like you, Rodney."

"Which just proves you have good taste." Rodney winced when soap ran in his eyes, and he ducked under the spray to rinse the suds away.

"Yeah, even better than I knew," John murmured. He slid his own hands through Rodneyís hair, helping to rinse the shampoo out. "Maybe sometime I can take you out for dinner," he repeated his suggestion when Rodney surfaced again.

"Sounds good," Rodney murmured, giving John a kiss. "Just not Thursday night; thereís a thing I have to go to."

"Maybe Friday then? We can see how things go Ďtil then, and you can let me know Friday morning."

Rodney chuckled at that. "I really doubt Iíll meet someone more exciting than you at an evening of bad food and speeches by people who only wish they were half as smart as I am. You all done?"

"Yeah. Letís go brave your friends." John smiled crookedly. "And if you make me sit beside that redhead, I swear Iíll make up things to tell her about what we did all afternoon!"

"There are only four of us," Rodney chuckled, turning off the water and stepping out of the stall to get a towel, handing one to John as well. "Unless we all sit in a line, youíre going to be next to her one way or another."

"Then itís up to you to protect me from her!" John briskly toweled off and wrapped the terrycloth around his waist as he finger-combed his hair. "So, did you order me some lounge-lizard suit?"

"Iíll just ask her when she and Carson are getting married," Rodney promised before smacking John on the ass. "And do you think a place like this has clothes like that?" He snorted and wandered into the bedroom to begin dressing so he would at least have a shirt and pants on when Johnís things arrived.

"Well, I thought if we were going to re-enact Pretty Woman..." John grinned at himself in the mirror. "Donít you think Iíd look good in thigh-high boots?"

"Hrmmm, the thought that you like chick-flicks worries me..." There was a knock at the door, and Rodney left off tucking his shirt in to answer it, nodding when the clerk wheeled in a rack holding a dark suit and white shirt. There were also several boxes on the bottom shelf. After checking that everything was there, Rodney added a tip to the bill and signed it before shooing the man out.

"Itís safe to come out now."

"What, you didnít want me to flash him?" John chuckled. He took one look at the suit, and his eyes widened. "Uh, Rodney, this is too much."

"They wonít let you in the restaurant without a jacket."

Not wanting to start that argument again, John just nodded and dropped the towel to reach for the clothes. "Just one small problem. I was wearing a swimsuit when I got there. No briefs unless I have time to run down and get that bag I mentioned out of my car."

"Check one of the boxes," Rodney chuckled as he knotted a tie at his throat, "there should be socks and a t-shirt there too."

"My hero." John rummaged around till he found the garments. He tossed the t-shirt aside, not about to add another layer under the suit and shirt, and started dressing.

"Thatís me, every manís dream."

"Hey, itís working for me."

Rodney smiled at that as he sat to pull on his socks. "Do you hear me complaining about that? About the fact that you arenít dressed yet and that Lauraís probably eating me out of my bank account, yes, but not that."

"Iím dressing, Iím dressing," John laughed, buttoning his shirt and tucking it into the pants before starting to knot his tie. "But I still think a fast food burger would have been easier."

"Now, maybe, but, having met Laura and Carson, do you really want to spend the rest of the evening listening to them bang on the room door wanting to know why we stood them up?"

"You should have spent the money for this suit on two tickets to Fiji instead," John sighed.

"Sorry, it wouldnít even get us halfway to Hawaii," Rodney laughed, standing and putting on his shoes before realizing heíd never combed his hair and rectifying that.

"Iíd be willing to throw in everything I have." John ran a hand through his hair and turned to face Rodney. "This is as good as it gets."

Eyeing him appreciatively, Rodney hummed in approval at the sight of the other manís lean body draped in the designer suit. "Iíd say thatís pretty damn good," he murmured, pulling on his own jacket and sliding the keycard and his wallet in his pocket.

"Likewise," John replied, eyeing Rodney appreciatively. "Which means weíd better go down now, or weíre going to be very late for dinner."

"Recovery time," Rodney laughed, pulling John in for a quick kiss before turning him around and giving him a small push toward the outer door.

"Youíre making it a challenge," John chuckled.

"Which makes it more interesting for both of us."

Laura looked up when the two men entered the restaurant and sat down at the table where she and Carson were waiting. "It took you long enough. Another five minutes and I was going to send someone up after you."

"And, as that someone would have been myself, Iím profoundly happy you made it," Carson added.

"Iím really beginning to rethink that McDonalds idea," Rodney commented to John with a sigh.

"Try it and Iíll make your life a living hell," Laura announced sweetly.

After looking from one to the other, John sidestepped so that Rodney was between his assistant and John. He hastily settled into the seat next to Carson, which put him across from Laura, but as Rodney had pointed out, at a table for four, he wasnít going to be able to avoid her. "Fiji!" he muttered to Rodney.

"Harridan," Rodney growled, glaring at Laura, who simply smiled sweetly at him. "Iím henpecked and Iím not even dating you."

"As if Iíd have you," Laura chuckled warmly before taking a sip of her very good wine, her eyes speculative as she gazed at John. "This is going to sound like a line, but have we met? You seem familiar."

John shrugged, though the hazel eyes werenít quite as warm as they had been. "I donít think so. But you might have seen me around. I surf off the beach here pretty often."

"I suppose that must be it," Laura said slowly since they did stay at this hotel whenever they were in town.

"Ogling other men, are ye, love?" Carson teased.

"Ignore them," Rodney sighed, reaching for the bottle of wine and pouring glasses for both himself and John, "theyíre insane."

"Iím starting to realize that, yes." John grinned at them over his wine, breaking into a chuckle when Laura pulled a face at him before smiling as well.

She turned to Carson, leaning over to kiss his cheek. "You know I only have eyes for you. But if you doubt it, feel free to attract my attention again."

"Not at the table!" Rodney nearly shouted before clearing his throat and flushing.

"Rodney, yer such a prude," Carson said before eyeing John and grinning. "Well, perhaps not as much as I once thought." He leaned over and kissed Laura, but on the mouth not the cheek.

"Mmm, hold that thought," Laura murmured, giving him a slumberous look. "Weíll revisit it after dinner."

"Looks like weíd better all get plenty of iron," John observed blandly.

Rodney groaned and took a drink of his wine. "Iím beginning to wonder how I got in the middle of a bad comedy skit."

"Youíre just lucky we care enough to pry you out of your ivory tower," Laura retorted cheerfully. "And that you managed to run into someone interesting the moment you did," she added with a throaty chuckle.

John raised his glass to her, grinning. "I think I was the lucky one, personally."

"Fine, fine, but if you think Iím going back out on that beach again, youíre wrong!"

"Not even when Iím surfing? I go a couple of times a week."

Laura hastily raised her glass to her lips to hide her smile.

Rodney grumbled but didnít say no to the comment, making Carson chuckle as well. "Lad, if ye get Rodney on a surfboard, let me know ahead of time so I can film it."

"No offense, Carson, but if I get Rodney on a surfboard with me, we wonít be doing anything you can film."

Rodney choked on his wine, hastily wiping his mouth with his napkin before glaring at the others at the table, who were all laughing. "I think not!"

"Theyíre nice and sticky with all that wax, so weíd have good traction," John observed.

"Careful, lad," Carson laughed, "yer going ta give the man apoplexy, and then none of us will get ta finish our meal."

"Maybe Iím just getting ready for dessert," John retorted.

"I like him. You need to keep this one, Rodney," Laura decided.

"Thank you so much for your seal of approval, Ms. Cadman," Rodney snorted, though he was looking at John speculatively as he spoke.

John returned the look quizzically, one dark eyebrow rising, before looking at Laura. "Why do I suddenly feel like some stray at the pound?"

"Well, you do have that sheepdog hair thing going on," Rodney laughed.

John growled and pretended to snap at him, making Laura and Carson laugh. "There is nothing wrong with my hair!"

"I didnít say there was!" Rodney protested, pulling back his hand and examining it. "I like your hair, messy as it may be."

"Did ye ever think ta see the day Rodney would be sappy?" Carson murmured quietly to Laura.

She watched John catch hold of Rodneyís hand and draw it back to kiss the Ďinjuryí, and she smiled faintly. "No, not really. I mean, I always hoped he wouldóheís a great guy if you can get past all his defensesóbut I didnít think heíd ever give anyone a chance, especially not this fast." Her eyes narrowed on John. "If he hurts him..."

"Well, hopefully that wilnae happen," Carson murmured, catching Lauraís hand and kissing it to get her to relax her fist. He glanced over at the other couple when Rodney laughed in response to some comment of Johnís. "Though ye may be buying another plane ticket back home at this rate."

Laura frowned. "Assuming he can just pick up and leave his entire life. We donít know anything about him." She watched John and Rodney for a moment. "Except that he actually makes Rodney happy, so unless heís some international hit man, we can deal. And even that might be fixable," she added with a wry smile.

Carson chuckled and Rodney looked over from where heíd been admittedly been distracted by John. "Theyíre conspiring," he sighed.

John eyed them. "Yup. But theyíre on your side, so I wouldnít worry about it too much."

"Thatís what does make me worry!"

"Now would we do anything to hurt you?" Laura cooed.

Rodney snorted and rolled his eyes.

"Come now, Rodney, if we didnít like ye, would we have put up with ye all this time?"

"Itís a rare talent to manage a compliment and an insult in the same sentence," John remarked, chuckling.

"They just want to make sure I donít cancel their tickets back to Massachusetts," he grumbled.

"Could you possibly live any farther away?" John groaned, distracted.

Rodneyís glance flicked over to him. "I suppose itís a bit too far for a road trip."

"Yeah. How long are you here for?" John asked morosely.

"Until the weekend."

"The two of ye are acting as if itís the end of the world," Carson commented. "Airplanes make quite frequent flights from the west coast to the east coast."

John eyed him. "Have you ever tried to make a long-distance relationship work? Itís... difficult. But sometimes worthwhile," he added with a glance at Rodney.

Rodney seemed to draw in on himself somewhat before offering a smile. "Of course."

"Rodney, stop being so damn pessimistic!" Laura growled. "Or Iíll knock some sense into you! Youíve met someone you like, so enjoy this week, and if you still want to see each other afterward, youíll make it work. You keep telling me you can make the world do as you please, so prove it."

Rodney had to laugh at that though it was somewhat forced. "And this is why she earns more than I do."

"Aye," Carson laughed, hoping to help the moment pass, "this way the lass can afford ta keep me as her boy-toy."

"And such a cute toy you are," Laura praised, leaning over to kiss his cheek. "You bat those baby blues at me, and I melt."

"I know exactly what you mean," John agreed.

"You want to keep me as your boy-toy?"

John snickered. "Well, it has potential. But I was referring to the big blue eyes."

"Now I feel like an anime character."

"Hrm, which one..." John started.

"Oh, I know!" Laura exclaimed.

"You mention any names and Iím leaving you all here with the bill!" Rodney yelped.

John pouted. "Youíd leave me here with them?"

"For comparing me to big-eyed, androgynous boys? Yes!"

"And ye said ye never watched the stuff, fer shame, Rodney!"

"Donít worry," John said, ignoring Carson and Laura, who was nearly crying with laughter, "I donít think youíre androgynous."

"Iím so happy to hear that," Rodney sighed, finishing his wine and reaching for the bottle.

"Iíll be happy to demonstrate it again when we get back to your room."

"Which is after weíre all done eating," Carson admonished.

"Eat faster," John suggested, his eyes heated as they rested on Rodneyís mouth.

"That would require us having food," Rodney retorted though he reached out and squeezed Johnís knee.

"Fine, be logical when Iím thinking about licking whipped cream off your naked body."

"Argh! TMI, guys!" Laura groaned.

Carson rubbed his chin. "Personally, I like the idea, only involving you, love."

"And now whoís giving out too much information!"

"Some strawberries to dip in the cream too, I think," John suggested to Carson, grinning as both their lovers sputtered.

"And we canna forget the chocolate," Carson added, ducking aside when Laura hit him on the shoulder.

"Laura, I think we should get another table!"

"Switching orientations on me, Rodney?" John asked, leaning his chin into the palm of his hand as he regarded Rodney with innocent inquiry.

"No, just planning on leaving you and Carson time to plot and plan without distraction."

"But I like being distracted by you!"

"Oh my God, why did I make Rodney go out to the beach today?"

"Because you and Carson wanted to go make goo goo eyes at each other at the zoo, so you have no one to blame but yourself." Rodneyís tone was full of self-satisfaction, and he leaned over to kiss John.

Lauraís eyes narrowed, and then she smiled wickedly. "Awww, arenít they cute!"

"Love, if Rodney attacks ye, weíre going ta have ta spend the night in the emergency room when ye break yer hand hitting him," Carson murmured as Rodney glared at her.

"Youíre all nuts," John decided. "My kind of people."

"I should be glad they havenít driven you away."

"Rodney, if ye havenít done that by now, I highly doubt Laura and I could."

"Ignore them. I like you just the way you are."

"Thatís a good thing because Iím not changing."

"Perhaps we should worry that the ladís insane," Carson whispered to Laura.

"Which actually makes him perfect for Rodney," Laura whispered back.

John leaned over to kiss Rodney. "Iím really glad I dripped on you."

Laura gaped at him, then looked at Carson. "Do we dare ask?"

"You have a twisted, perverted mind," Rodney growled once he was able to speak. "He got out of the water and walked by me."

"Any other dripping waited till he invited me back to his room."

"And that we dinna need to hear about!"

"Hey, Iíve had to put up with the two of you ever since I introduced you, so you can just sit there and suffer in silence."

"Or we could start retaliating with details for every one you let drop too," Laura threatened.

"I think we might all get thrown out of the restaurant," John pointed out.

"Then perhaps we should order and get our food so we can go our separate ways and do things rather than speak about them."

"A genius. No wonder I like him," John said smugly, reaching for his menu.

Rodney smirked. "A very good answer."

"Please, son," Carson begged, "his ego is large enough already."

"Donít say it," Laura warned, pointing a finger at John, who gave her an innocent look. "And donít think that fools me either."

"Iíd say youíre pretty canny as well," Rodney said, winking as he spoke.

John eyed him. "Canny, huh? Is that more Scottish?"

"Hardly," Carson laughed, eyeing John closely.

"Oh. Okay." John turned his attention to his menu. "Mmm, prime rib. I think Iíve died and gone to heaven."

"Youíre such a carnivore," Rodney laughed. "Let me guess, bloody rare?"

"Is there any other way?"

"Yes! Cooked so that you donít get mad cow disease!"

"Och, Rodney, Iíve told ye that ye canít get mad cow disease from anything other than undercooked hamburger," Carson sighed.

"Deal with it," John said. "I like to taste my meat, not chew on leather."

"Yes, Iíve noticed that about you," Rodney said, deadpan, making Carson and Laura groan.

John chuckled. "Itís nice to be appreciated."

The others were saved from answering by the arrival of the waiter, who took their orders and quickly escaped again.

"Chicken again, Rodney?" Carson laughed.

"If itís well prepared, I have no problem with it."

"Gee, should I be worried about younger men?"

"You are such a pervert!"

"I thought that was what you liked about me?"

"Weíre going to need more wine," Laura groaned.

"Then itís a good thing I ordered another bottle, isnít it?" Rodney laughed.

"You have moments of utter brilliance," Laura said. "Good boy."

"I am not going to sit up and bark for you."

"No, thatís fer me ta do."

"And you do it so well," Laura said with a warm glance.

"And they complain about us?" John snorted.

Rodney nodded. "This is what I live with every day."

"Arenít you lucky?" Laura shot back.

"Normally, Iíd say no, but today Iíll have to agree with you." Rodneyís grin as he said this was almost boyish.

John beamed at him, and Laura smiled as well. "See, I told you the beach was great."

"Aside from the sand and the ocean."

"You realize youíre making it a challenge to make you like it, right?" John said, leaning back as the waiter brought their appetizers.

"I think itís a good thing I have seminars during the day tomorrow."

"Weíll just have to make up for lost time in the evening then," John said, but he looked uneasy.

"Aye, the beach in the moonlight is quite romantic; ye may even learn to like it," Carson added, making Rodney growl as he sampled the softened cheese wheel.

"Donít worry, itís a little too public for my liking," John soothed him.

"You have no idea how happy I am to hear that."

"Iím not into being arrested. And Iíve never liked anyone named Bubba."

"Since yer sharing, just what is it ye do, John?" Carson asked innocently while Rodney sputtered.

"Actually, Iím kind of between jobs at the moment," John said, staring down at his plate, clearly uncomfortable at being caught in a lie since heíd told Rodney previously that he was on vacation.

"Hey, not a problem," Rodney said gently, patting Johnís arm and offering him a bit of cheese. "Everyone hits down times in their career."

"Actually..." John was interrupted by the waiter returning with the new bottle of wine, and by the time he left, the moment had passed.

"So are you actually going to all your seminars tomorrow?" Laura asked.

"Well, I do have to go heckle Kavanaghís latest moronic theory, and Iím interested in hearing Sam Carter present..."

Johnís head shot up, and he eyed Rodney narrowly. "Sam?"

"Samantha," Rodney said absently, running down the following dayís schedule in his mind.

"Relax, lad," Carson chuckled, "no one to get jealous about."

"You going to be free for lunch?" John asked, trying to get Rodneyís attention back on him.

"Hmm, what?" Rodney asked before focusing on John again and flushing. "Yes, yes I should be; as a matter of fact, most of the talks I want to attend are in the morning."

"Well, I donít want to interrupt your business," John said, clearly sulky about not being the center of Rodneyís attention.

"I meant that we could have the afternoon togetheróif you donít have other plans," Rodney replied defensively.

"Is it the beginning of the end?" Carson murmured to Laura.

"Oh. Yeah, Iíd like that. A lot." John smiled again. "Unless something comes up and you change your mind, but Iíd really like to see you at lunch."

"You can even sleep in, and Iíll wake you up when I get back."

"Naw, I have plans for you before you leave in the morning. Wake me if Iím not up."

"You can be sure Iíll do that." Rodney relaxed and smiled again.

"Apparently not," Laura finally replied to Carson, but her gaze was intent on John, and she was frowning slightly. Before she could say anything else, their main courses arrived, and everyone concentrated on their meals for a time.

"That chicken was excellent," Rodney sighed once he was done.

"So was my sole," Laura agreed. "This is a very good restaurant."

"I think Iím in love with my steak," John chuckled.

"Should I be jealous?" Rodney laughed.

"Naw, youíre a bit more versatile."

"Why do I get the feeling we wonít be having coffee and dessert together?"

"Because youíre a smart man, Carson."

"And we can have a lot more fun on our own, love," Laura pointed out.

"We can order those berries, chocolate and cream up to the room."

"Not if we get them all first," Rodney retorted.

"I think thereís probably enough for both of us," John chuckled. "And if no oneís deprived, everyone will be busy and not likely to come knocking on doors."

"Smart as well as pretty," Laura praised with a laugh.

"Quite practical as well," Carson added.

Rodney nodded. "Very true."

"I have plans that donít include interruptions," John shrugged.

"And Iím intrigued by those plans." When the waiter returned, Rodney signed the bill and looked around. "Well, shall we?"

John was on his feet in an instant, and Carson and Laura werenít far behind. "What are you waiting for?" The hazel eyes were heated as they focused on Rodney, and John seemed about to pounce.

"Nothing at all," Rodney retorted, getting to his feet and catching Johnís hand as they hurried out of the restaurant.

"Yeíve a look in yer eyes, love," Carson murmured as they watched the other pair leave, "and I dinna think itís about me."

Laura turned from staring after the two men. "Thereís something very familiar about John, Carson. Iíd swear Iíve seen him somewhere before, and itís driving me nuts."

"One of yer wild flings from yer youth, perhaps?" Carson offered, his blue eyes sparkling with laughter.

Surprised into laughter, she slid an arm around his waist. "No, I think anyone whoíd had a fling with him would remember it," she said wryly. "But I know him from somewhere. I just canít place him."

"Well, think on it and Iím sure yeíll come up with it sometime, love." Carson leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. "Though Iíd prefer that ye were thinking of me tonight."

Lauraís answering smile was slow and slumberous. "I think I can manage that, Dr. Beckett. Until you make sure that Iím not thinking of anything at all."

"I promise ta do my best," he murmured, sliding an arm around her waist and pulling her closer as they walked toward the elevators.

"See, you survived the meal with all limbs intact."

"It was questionable for a while there, but yeah. Your friends are very protective."

Rodney chuckled ruefully and nodded. "Well, at times it seems they simply want to be annoying, but your description could probably work as well."

"Fortunately, theyíre also horny, so we wonít have to pepper spray them to get away. Because big as that bed is, thereís only room for the two of us."

"Even the thought of sleeping with either of them disturbs me profoundly on a personal level; Iíd say you need to do something to make it up to me once weíre in private again."

"Oh damn, whatever could I possibly do to manage that?"

Rodney smirked. "You seem clever enough to come up with something weíll both enjoy."

"Housekeeping is really going to hate us," John chuckled.

"Are you saying youíd rather go take a walk on the beach?"

"Hell no! Iím kind of hoping that youíll make it so I canít walk before weíre done."

"Iíll do my best to reach that goal."

"Damn, life is good!" Grinning happily, John started undressing the moment the door shut behind them. "See, this would be a lot easier in jeans. I could just pull Ďem off and drop Ďem, not worry about having to hang them up!"

"Well," Rodney murmured, watching John speed out of his clothes, "there is the fun of undressing each other."

"Oh." Already down to his unbuttoned shirt and suit trousers, John abruptly stopped what he was doing and padded barefoot back to Rodney. "Sorry. I guess I was getting ahead of myself."

"Quite all right," Rodney chuckled, sliding his hands under Johnís shirt to stroke his chest, "planning doesnít have to be your strong suit."

The hazel eyes narrowed ever so slightly, which Rodney missed as he was staring at Johnís chest. "Good thing Iím more of a live in the moment kind of guy then, huh?"

"I like that kind of guy just fine," Rodney murmured, smiling as he lifted his head and licked his way into Johnís mouth. John sighed into the kiss even as he pressed closer, his hands working between them to undress Rodney.

"See? Nice and slow has its good points too," Rodney murmured, nuzzling Johnís throat as he pushed Johnís shirt off his shoulders.

"I guess weíll have to keep trying both Ďtil weíre sure which is better." John let his hands rest on Rodneyís waist after unbuttoning and unzipping him, waiting until Rodney was done with him to continue.

"Iím a scientist; Iím all for experimentation." By this time, Rodney had Johnís belt and pants undone, and he eased them down, following the fabric to the floor so that he could nuzzle Johnís groin.

"I knew I liked scientists," John panted.

"A very, very good answer," Rodney murmured, mouthing the hard flesh beneath the brushed cotton briefs.

"Which is pretty amazing since youíre sucking my brains out!"

"They must have migrated south, because Iím not sucking anything, yet."

"Close enough. And why arenít you?"

Rodney chuckled. "I love a man who knows what he wants," he commented as he tugged down Johnís briefs and licked at his cock.

"You. I want you."

In answer, Rodney took most of Johnís length into his mouth and sucked hungrily, his hands curving over Johnís ass.

"Oh God, yeah." John pushed his fingers into Rodneyís hair, holding his head and fighting not to choke Rodney by thrusting too deeply into his mouth. Rodney hummed in agreement, and he sucked harder, enjoying the taste and sensation.

John groaned and shook, then thrust forward once as he came.

"Mmm, very nice," Rodney sighed when he pulled back, stroking his hands up Johnís legs before leaning in to kiss his navel.

"You sure are," John panted, petting Rodneyís head as he tried to catch his breath and not fall over after that hard, fast climax.

"And to prove it, Iíll get you to the bed before you fall over." Rodney got to his feet and helped John over to the bed, stripping the rest of his clothes off before joining him.

John sprawled on his back and spread his legs. "Your turn."

"Mmm, such decisions, what shall I do," Rodney murmured, rocking back on his knees to survey the long, lean lines of flesh bared for his inspection.

"Fucking me would be good," John suggested, peering down the length of his own body at Rodney.

"A very good point." Rodney kissed his way up Johnís body, ending with his mouth.

John wrapped his arms and legs around Rodney, arching up against him to rock against Rodneyís erection. "See, I have good ideas too."

"Mmm, yes, you do." They rubbed together, trading kisses until Rodney pulled back, gasping and reaching for the condom and lube.

John dropped back again, arms and legs flung wide. He was clearly letting Rodney do whatever he wanted this time, and the gleam in the hazel eyes said he was enjoying it immensely.

Rodney groaned and squirted lotion on his fingers before pressing them into Johnís body. John groaned and shivered at the sensation as his climax-relaxed body easily let Rodney in. "Fuck yeah."

Giving a shaky laugh, Rodney nodded, rolling the condom onto his cock as he continued to stretch Johnís ass. "Thatís what weíre going to do, all right."

"Now!" John demanded, starting to writhe on the teasing fingers.

"Happy to oblige," Rodney whispered, pulling his hand back and pressing his cock inward, slowly sliding into Johnís tight ass, groaning at the heat. Once fully sheathed, he looked down into Johnís half-closed eyes and smiled.

"This is the very best day at the beach Iíve ever had," John whispered, raising his hands to Rodneyís shoulders and holding on.

"Me too," Rodney murmured, rocking slowly in and out of Johnís ass, wanting to make the moment last as long as possible. John lifted his head so he could kiss Rodney, and he moaned as Rodney slid deep inside him.

"I should be terrified," Rodney whispered, brushing his lips against Johnís.

"Of what?" John panted, his tongue slipping out to taste Rodney.

"You. This."

"Rodney, really hot sex and someone who matches you is nothing to be afraid of." John squirmed, loving the sensation of Rodney moving in him.

Rodney chuckled, his breath catching in his throat as John wiggled beneath him. "So you say."

"I do." John nodded emphatically. Since Rodney didnít seem to be getting the message, John glided a hand down his back until he could finger Rodneyís ass, trying to encourage him along.

"Donít you ever like slow and easy?"

John stilled and then slowly raised his hands, crossing them at the wrists on the pillows over his head. "Iím all yours."

Rodney smiled before leaning in to brush a kiss over Johnís lips. Then he pushed up to stare down at John as he started to move again, long, slow strokes that tested Rodneyís stamina.

John whimpered. "God, you feel good."

"So do you; perfect in fact," Rodney sighed.

"See, nothing to be afraid of. Everythingís good. Very, very good." John hitched his legs up higher around Rodneyís torso, opening himself more. Rodney groaned, his smooth rhythm stuttering when John tightened around him, then picking up the pace as his restraint wore thin.

"Yeah, thatís it," John encouraged in a throaty whisper. "Wanna watch you come."

"God, yes," Rodney gasped, surging forward, stuttering a handful of strokes before he was crying out his climax as he stared down at the obviously pleased man beneath him.

John slid his fingers through Rodneyís fine hair to cup the nape of his neck and pull him down into a tender kiss. "That was almost as good as coming myself," he said after he finally let go.

Rodney flushed and managed a slight smile. "Just almost?"

John thought about it for a moment. "Well, okay, when Iíve already come, itís just as good."

"Youíre spoiling me, you know," Rodney sighed, rolling to his side to let Johnís legs fall back down to the bed again.

"For anyone else? Oh damn."

"Yes, itís sublimely funny; laugh all you want."

"I kinda like it. It means youíll want to continue this after tomorrow morning."

"I would have thought the part where I agreed to meet you for lunch and to let you take me to dinner later this week would have clued you in to that."

"Yeah, youíd think so, wouldnít you? I guess I just like the extra insurance that getting you addicted to me brings." John smiled lazily, closing his eyes as he relaxed under Rodney.

Rodney shook his head and stroked a hand over Johnís shoulder. "Youíre a very strange person, John, but I like you."

"D-arn good thing since I like you too," John replied, opening his eyes again. "That works out pretty well, donít you think?"

"Very much so." Rodney sighed and shifted to his side, rubbing his hand over Johnís stomach while he relaxed against him.

"So what time do you need to leave in the morning? You said you had classes or something?"

"Classes?" Rodney scoffed, shaking his head. "As if anyone here could teach me anything! No, tomorrow there are seminars where I can listen to what inane theories theyíve come up with then shoot them down."

Johnís eyebrows rose sharply. "Really?"

"Well, most of them anyway; there are a few other people here with a brain, but theyíre definitely in the minority."

"So youíre here to listen to the ones with brains?"

"And to tear apart the ones without them so that they donít pass their inanity on to future generations." Rodney grinned and leaned in to kiss John.

John enjoyed the kiss before snorting in response to Rodneyís last comment. "So if you find a brainy woman worthy of passing on your brilliance, youíll suddenly turn straight?"

"Been there, tried that, have the divorce papers to prove it," Rodney shrugged. "Obviously it didnít stick."

"Lucky me. I mean sorry." John tried to look sympathetic.

"Donít worry; Iím not scarred by it, and we managed to stay cordial through it all, which was a good thing because we were working on a huge research project at the time."

John chuckled. "Why am I not surprised you married a co-worker? Did you ever even leave the lab?"

Rodney snorted and leaned in to bite Johnís shoulder. "Very funny and yes, Laura makes me leave the lab at least once a week."

John blinked. "You werenít married to Laura?"

"NO! Are you sick, man?"

"Sorry, but for a moment there, it sounded like it. And I couldnít imagine it."

"Glad to hear it," Rodney relaxed and kissed the spot heíd bitten. "No, sheís too bossy for me."

"I think Carson might object too," John pointed out wryly.

"Good point, and Iím not really into threesomes, even if any of them were."

"Well, they are both hot," John decided. "But I think this bed is the perfect size for two."

"Mmmhmm, even if itís messy again."

"I like messy," John replied comfortably, turning onto his side and settling against Rodney.

"Which explains your hair," Rodney chuckled, looping an arm around Johnís waist and holding him close after grabbing the condom and tossing it away, not caring where it landed.

"My hair is not messy! Itís... lived in." John snickered, well aware of how ridiculous he sounded.

"Lived in?" Rodney tried not to laugh, but it was a losing battle.

John pouted at him, milking the moment for all it was worth.

Rodney laughed even harder before recovering enough to kiss John again. "I repeat, youíre insane."

John shrugged. "I have fun."

"Which isnít a bad thing."

"I actually think itís pretty damn good. But I guess we should get some sleep so you can be in top form to destroy people tomorrow."

"Good point, and Iíll try to be quiet when I get up, sleep in as late as you want." Rodney kissed Johnís shoulder again and closed his eyes, settling in to sleep.

John watched him for a moment, sighing. "I wish I could," he murmured before gradually relaxing and falling asleep as well.

"Iím heading out," Rodney murmured, brushing aside the messy thatch of hair to kiss Johnís forehead. "See you later."

"At lunch," John agreed sleepily, smiling briefly before rolling over.

"Youíre going to be late!" Lauraís voice announced from the hall.

"Iím coming, Iím coming," Rodney growled, casting a fond look back at the sleepy man in his bed before heading out of the room, grabbing his laptop case and his suit jacket. "And weíve got plenty of time; what got your panties in a twist?"

"If I hadnít gotten you out of there right then, youíd have crawled back into bed and missed all the seminars you came here to hear."

"Trust me, Johnís a hell of a lot more interesting than what those bozos have to say."

She rolled her eyes. "You came to hear those bozos, and John will still be around after todayís sessions, so quit griping."

"So says the woman whoís going to get me to my meeting and then go back to her room to play doctor, and did you get me my coffee?"

Laura handed him the venti Starbucks cup, grinning. "As if Iíd dare come near you in the morning without it. Iím too young and too pretty to die."

"And if I killed you, Carson would go all medieval torturer on me, and Iím much too brilliant to die, so weíre even." They reached the bank of elevators and pushed the button to call one.

"Itís so convenient having a vengeance-seeking Scot of a doctor for a lover," Laura said with satisfaction.

"Hrmmm, I wonder if John would defend me with his surfboard..."

"Iím sure he would try." Laura met Rodneyís eyes, and they both started laughing.

"Okay, I need to get serious here," Rodney finally gasped once he stopped laughing.

"Iím sure a duel between Carsonís dirk and Johnís surfboard would be very serious," Laura snickered.

"Do you really think Carsonís dirk would beat Johnís long board?"

"Well, John might stop and cry if Carson shaved off splinters."

"And Carson would moan if John bent his knife."

"And then weíd have to comfort them both. Hey, this has possibilities!"

"Not if you make me sit through these meetings," Rodney joked.

"You know perfectly well that you get some good ideas from them."

"Fine, fine, be all logical on me." The elevator arrived, and they stepped inside and headed down to the conference level.

Laura waved good-bye once she saw him head into the meeting room where the first session was being held. She was perfectly safe in doing so since she saw Dr. Zelenka spot him and immediately start making his way through the crowd toward Rodney.

"Good morning, Radek," Rodney said cheerily, taking a sip of his coffee. "How are things in academia?"

"I am seriously thinking of leaving," Radek replied. "I do not mind someone reviewing my work if they know what they are talking about, but this man..." He rolled his eyes. "A chimpanzee could do better."

"If I was modest man, I wouldnít say ĎI told you soí, but Iím not, so I will."

Radek cursed at him in Czech. "Modesty is not even on the same planet with you, Rodney. And it is not as if I had anything to do with selecting the new dean. It would have been too time-consuming for me to accept the position."

Rodney smirked. "You could always come work for me, you know."

"I... have been considering it. Is one of the reasons Iím here."

"Youíre serious? You are!" Rodney beamed. "Finally!"

Radek shrugged. "Neither of us has a Nobel Prize, and this will bring us one within three years, I estimate."

"Two; but what does Elizabeth think of the possible move?"

Radekís jaw dropped, and he gaped at Rodney. "I would have sworn that you didnít even know my wifeís name! And now you ask about her opinion?" He eyed Rodney suspiciously. "Where is real Dr. McKay?"

Rodney glowered at that. "Of course I know your wifeís name; itís the kids Iím fuzzy about."

Radek seemed to be wishing for a microscope to inspect Rodney. "In the fifteen years I have known you, you have never once asked what Elizabethís opinion of something was. Except that time you were going to a former Soviet installation in Chechnya and wanted her expert opinion on whether you were likely to survive the trip," he amended.

"So maybe Iíve turned over a new leaf, become all soft and cuddly." Rodney grinned slightly at the last.

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers was just a movie," Radek muttered, apparently trying to convince himself while he kept his eyes on Rodney at all times.

"Now come on, Radek, we need to get in there and get seats close enough so the presenters can hear us tearing apart their theories."

Rolling his eyes but reassured that Rodney was himself, Radek followed.

"Well, he certainly doesnít fit in here," Radek said as the last few questions were being parried by a tired and hungry presenter. His eyes were on a messy-haired man wearing a t-shirt and jeans who was peering through the doorway.

"He who?" Rodney asked, turning to look before beaming. "Oh."

"Youíre smiling! And looking sappy!" Radek sounded as shocked as if heíd just seen the second coming.

"I am not!" Rodney huffed though his expression didnít change, and he closed his laptop as he caught Johnís eye. "So, are you joining me in breaking out or are you really interested in watching him flounder?"

After casting a jaundiced eye at the man on the stage, Radek stood. "I think I wish to meet this wonder."

"And why do you call him that?" Rodney asked as they threaded their way out of the row of seats and started down the aisle.

"He makes you smile and forget about torturing other scientists. That makes him a miracle," Radek stated emphatically.

"You know, you can just stay at Cal Tech; forget my offer," Rodney glowered.

"You know perfectly well you do better work with me."

"Only because of that coffee you make, itís so strong, it eats through the bottom of the mug if you let it sit too long."

Radek rolled his eyes. "Yes, Rodney. And the man with the hair is starting to look impatient."

"What is with everyone and my hair?" John grumbled, hearing the comment as they neared.

"Itís a species in and of itself, but itís cute," Rodney grinned, sliding an arm around Johnís waist and giving him a hug. "And I thought we were meeting in the room? Oh, and John, Radek, Radek, John."

"I felt kind of weird staying in your room without you," John admitted. "Nice to meet you, Radek."

"I am delighted to meet you," Radek replied, inspecting him closely.

"See, heís delighted," Rodney grinned. "And I see you went back home too; I hope you brought enough for the rest of the week."

John smiled slowly. "I was hoping youíd say that. I brought a bag." He leaned in and kissed Rodney, not caring who might be watching.

"Mmmm, suddenly Iím even less interested in the conference; Radek, you can handle heckling duties, right?"

"I think I can manage," Radek chuckled. "Donít forget to drink a lot of water."

John snickered. "I like him."

"Heís the smartest man I knowónext to myself of course, so of course he has good ideasóat times."

"Such praise. Be still, my heart."

"I think itís time to go back to the room before I lose your attention completely. Actually, no. Food first, then room."

"I believe Iím being told itís time to go," Rodney laughed, "but we need to sit down and go over this more before we leave, Radek; talk to Laura, sheíll set something up and make sure Iím there."

Radek nodded. "I look forward to working together again. John, it was good to meet you."

"Likewise." John watched as the man walked away before turning his attention to Rodney. "Heís one of the ones you donít despise, I take it?"

"Exactly," Rodney beamed. "Good man, if a bit restricted in his thinking at times, but Iíll break him of that habit. So, youíre the local, where do you want to go for lunch?"

John thought for a moment, then suggested one of his favorite restaurants, one specializing in nouveau cuisine with personalized flair. "Iíve never had anything there that wasnít great."

"Sounds good to me, though youíre going to have to drive, you know."

"Not a problem. But you rented a car? Why?"

"I didnít, thatís why I said you had to drive."

"Ah. Right. Good thing I borrowed a friendís car today. You wonít be embarrassed to be seen in it."

Rodneyís eyebrows rose. "John, do I look like the type of person to care about what someoneís car looks like?"

"Okay, I wonít be embarrassed to show it to you." John shrugged.

"Iím guessing you mean your car because Iíve seen everything else."

John laughed. "And youíre going to get to see it all again once we get something to eat."

"Iíll be looking forward to it. And am I overdressed for this place or does it matter?"

"Anything goes at Antonís. Youíll see everything from suits and ties to jeans and t-shirts. Weíll fit right in."

"Then letís get going; ripping apart theories has given me an appetite."

"For ripping into me?"

"After we eat!"

"Of course. Iím looking forward to showing you one of my favorite places."

Rodney hugged John again. "Iím looking forward to seeing others."

His arm around Rodneyís waist, John led him down to the parking garage and straight to a candy apple red Ferrari. "Maybe we can work a few trips in between your sessions."

After staring at the car in surprise, Rodney nodded. "Just not the zoo; I have no desire to see animals eating or defecating or copulating, and I must say, your friends have quite the cars."

"Yeah, I pick them for the cars," John chuckled. "And thatís fine; I can live without visiting the monkey house again."

"Hmm, good thing you like me for my body then because I drive a ten-year old Volvo." John smiled at that as he unlocked the car, and Rodney climbed in the passenger seat, feeling as if he was sitting mere inches above the ground.

John pretended to shudder. "Okay, good thing I didnít know about that till it was too late. Iím already hooked on you, so Iíll just have to live with it." He grinned as he steered the powerful car out into the traffic, driving with easy confidence.

"Iíll have you know a Volvo is a perfectly fine and safe car!" Rodney protested, cringing as John swerved around another car.

"Itís no Lamborghini. Cars arenít supposed to be Ďfineí or Ďsafeí. Theyíre supposed to be hot, sexy, and fun!"

"Your cars perhaps, not mine."

"Any good car," John retorted. "Iíll convert you yet."

"You do that and Iíll teach you astrophysics," Rodney grinned.

"Deal," John laughed. He easily moved the car in and out of gaps in traffic, making better time than should be possible in the congested San Diego streets. "And what do I get for good grades?"

"You get to be the teacherís pet."

"I like the sound of that. Care to demonstrate the benefits after lunch?" John weaved through the cars, gliding to a stop in a crowded parking lot. "Weíre here."

"That was the plan," Rodney chuckled before glancing at the building they were parked near. "It looks... different."

"Be adventurous. I promise youíll like it."

"Well, you havenít steered me wrong so far, so Iíll just have to go a little farther." As he spoke, Rodney climbed out of the car, and they headed toward the entrance.

"Glad to know you trust my taste." John slid automatically slid an arm around Rodneyís waist as they walked. "I hope I live up to it."

Wishing he had sunglasses to shield his eyes from the bright colors and flashing neon that decorated the entryway, Rodney moved closer, getting his arm around Johnís waist as well. "I somehow have the feeling you will," he murmured before his eyebrows rose again when the hostess greeted John by name.

"Iíll remind you that you said that," John chuckled as they followed the hostess to a secluded table and sat down. "And I told you this was one of my favorite places. No need to look surprised that someone recognizes me."

"No, it isnít that, itís..." Realizing that saying he was wondering how John could afford to eat here would be bad, Rodney shrugged. "Iím trying to figure out how you found this place."

"An old girlfriend, actually. Dumped her but kept the restaurant."

"A very good explanation." Rodney chuckled and, when the waiter came to take their drink order, asked for iced tea without lemon.

"I thought so. And trust me, once you taste the food, youíll understand why. I recommend pretty much everything on the menu. Itís all great."

"Hrmmm, well, youíll forgive me if I avoid anything with citrus; Iím allergic to it."

"So you mentioned, and Laura made sure I knew too." John brandished an epi-pen. "Iím prepared, just in case."

"Youó" Rodney gave a half-laugh. "Ahh, Carson forced it on you, I take it?"

"Naw, I asked him for it. If youíre as allergic as everyone says, I didnít want to take any chances."

"Glad to hear it, Iíd hate to die and deprive the world of my genius."

"Such modesty. Just get a steak or something. Iím thinking of the chicken... oh, wait, it has orange sauce. Hmm, okay, the cedar plank salmon seems safe."

"Since you seem to know your way around the menu, you can order for me too." As Rodney spoke, he rubbed his leg against Johnís.

"Keep that up, and weíll be getting it to go!" John said throatily. "Try the ginger beef stir fry."

"Are you saying you have no willpower, John?" Rodney asked innocently before ordering what the other man had recommended when the waiter returned with their drinks.

"Iím saying that youíre inciting other hungers and youíre going to have to appease them sooner or later," John replied. "So behave until we finish eating. Iíd hate to be barred from my favorite restaurant because I threw you over a table."

Rodney chuckled. "And Iíd hate to have to call Laura to come and bail us out of jailóor could we call your family instead?"

John choked on his water, a look of horror on his face. "No, stick to Laura," he gasped when heíd managed to cough his lungs clear.

"Parents that bad?"

"Letís just say Iím not the son my father wanted. He and I have very different ideas of where my future lies and what I need to do to get there."

"Ahh, touchy subject; I wonít bring it up again."

"Sorry, I didnít mean to bite your head off. My father and I donít exactly get along, in case you couldnít guess." John sighed. "In fact I canít think of anything weíve agreed on in years.

"How Ďbout you? Do you have loving, supportive parents and siblings tucked away someplace back East?"

"Hardly, not that they didnít try to be, but my parents had no idea what I was saying half the time. As for my sister... well, having a brother who is five years younger in the same grade with her was somewhat embarrassing to her."

"Yeah, I can see where that would be an issue." John smiled wryly. "An overachiever even as a kid, huh?"

"Of course, I never saw any point in slacking."

"So what did you do for fun? What do you do for fun when youíre not being shanghaied by passing surfers?"

"I harass my staff; I play chess; I enjoy opera..."

"I really need to teach you how to surf."

"I really have no desire to spend the rest of my time here in a body cast."

"Youíd enjoy it, really. And you wouldnít get hurt. Itís a real rush, almost as good as sex."

Rodney smiled wanly. "Iíd much rather just watch you."

"I suppose I can live with that... till I convince you otherwise."

"You must be very sure of your powers of persuasion," Rodney chuckled.

"You think I canít?" One eyebrow rose challengingly.

"It would mean that you have, A, gotten me into the water, and B, up on a surfboard, so I highly doubt it."

"I do love a challenge."

"And then thereís the fact that I have seminars and meetings that I really should be attending..."

"Not twenty-four hours a day you donít. Thereís before and after, you know."

"And if I break my neck surfing, I wonít be able to attend anything!"

"Do you honestly believe Iíd let you hurt yourself?"

"Iíd never hurt myself; itís the waves and the rocks hurting me that Iím worried about!"

"Yes, Rodney," John sighed, giving up on the idea of getting him to surf that week. It wasnít as if they didnít have other options for pleasurable ways to pass the time.

"I will be glad to watch you surf, though," Rodney added quickly.

"My own personal cheerleader. I could get used to that."

"And if you get a boo-boo, Iíll be glad to kiss it."

"Does that apply to swellings too?"

"Hrmmm, those require more intimate treatment." Rodney smiled as he took another drink of his tea.

"Think youíll be able to handle it?"

"Iíve been told Iím rather good at those things."

"Lucky me." John leaned back to allow the waiter to put his meal down in front him, never taking his eyes off Rodney. "Maybe I should practice my technique too."

Rodney glanced down at his meal, that both looked and smelled delicious, then back at John. "I like that idea."

"Oh good. So we know what we want for dessert."

"I think that was a given no matter what was on the menu here."

"Good point," John agreed. "And Iíve definitely been looking forward to it too."

"Really?" Rodney chuckled. "I never would have noticed." He grinned and picked up his utensils, took a bite of his meal, and nodded. "Youíre right, this is excellent."

"Like I said, I wouldnít lead you astray." John took a bite of his own salmon and made a sound of pleasure. "Mmm, even better than usual today. Though maybe thatís the company."

Rodney chuckled. "Funny, most people would say that eating with me gives them indigestion."

"Their loss," John shrugged. "I happen to like spending time with you."

"Considering the fact that youíre here when you could have run when I left for my meetings, Iím beginning to believe that."

John smiled slowly, the hazel eyes warming. "Only beginning? Iím going to have try harder to convince you."

"Iím a hard man to convince," Rodney admitted, "only beginning from me is totally convinced for 99% of the population."

"Like I said, I enjoy a challenge. And since in this case, spending more time with youís whatís going to convince you, itís a win-win for me."

Rodney paused, his fork raised halfway to his mouth, and shook his head. "You know what? For once Iím not going to over-analyze things and just enjoy them."

"Sounds great to me." John watched Rodney take the bite of his dinner, then cut a piece of his salmon and offered it to him. "Care to try mine?"

"Of course," Rodney smiled, leaning over to take the bite from Johnís fork, chewing, then smiling at the taste. "Thatís excellent, care for some of mine?"

"Iíd love it." John waited for Rodney to offer him a bite, then delicately took it from his fork. "Very good." He licked his lips, watching Rodney.

"Iíd hope you would think so since you ordered it," Rodney laughed, his gaze dropping to Johnís mouth as his tongue wet his lips, and back to his hazel eyes. "Of course, if you keep looking at me like that, weíll be getting the rest of this wrapped to go."

"Now, now, we need to keep our strength up. Exercise restraint, Rodney, and eat your meal." John enjoyed getting his own back as they reversed positions from earlier in the conversation.

"The fact that you are telling me to exercise restraint is terrifying."

"Have I mentioned that I like it kinky sometimes?"

Rodney blinked. "Is that what you meant by..."

"What did you think I meant?"

"Self-control." At Johnís blank expression, Rodney smiled. "Not to worry, I like your definition much better."

"Iíll remind you of that next time." John took another bite of his dinner, still watching Rodney.

"The next time?"

"The next time we have different definitions."

Rodney chuckled. "Youíre that sure weíll have them?"

"Oh, Iíd be willing to bet on it." John smiled wryly before taking a sip of his drink.

"Well, I hope I like your definitions as much then," Rodney offered before turning back to his meal, although he was more interested in his dining companion than his food.

"Me too," John muttered to his plate before asking whether Rodney was presenting anything at the conference.

"Mmm, yes, Friday morning." Rodney grinned boyishly. "The grand finale so to speak."

John seemed to pale slightly before he said, "Iíll have to be there to hear it."

Rodneyís grin widened. "Are you sure youíll be awake for it?"

"Iíll make sure I am. In fact, hopefully, youíll wake me up to be sure."

"You can count on it."

"Iím going to hold you to that."

"If youíre awake after the session," Rodney chuckled. "Itís a very technical paper."

"Iíll muddle through." Johnís expression was rueful as he leaned back and watched Rodney.

After a moment of the scrutiny, Rodney leaned back in his chair as well. "What?"

"Just wondering whatís going to happen next week."

"Thatís a good question; Massachusetts isnít exactly commuting distance."

John sighed heavily. "And there are some things you need to know about me before we start making plans." He played with his knife, keeping his eyes on it. "Things youíll know before the weekend, I promise."

Rodney frowned slightly and toyed with his meal. "Is this when you tell me you have a wife and a half dozen kids waiting at home for you?"

"Nope, no kids, no wife, no current lovers, no criminal record, no bodies in the basement. It... has to do with my father and our relationship. And a little to do with his reaction to me getting involved with a man."

"Is he going to come after me with a gun?!"

"You, no. Me, possibly. And after you meet him, you may come after me with a gun."

"And why is this?"

"I really donít think youíre going to get along. But leave my father for when we have to deal with him," John suggested almost plaintively. "Letís not let him ruin the time between now and then."

Rodney watched John carefully before nodding. "Maybe I can hide you in my luggage and we can avoid all that."

Surprised into a laugh, John relaxed in his chair. "You have no idea how good that sounds."

"Youíd give up surfing for me?"

"Well, not forever, but I could live without it for a while. And there are waves in other places than California."

"Youíd seriously go back East with me?"

"Ask me again Friday afternoon, and Iíll be there so fast itíll make your head spin."

Rodney shook his head, watching John all the while. "So if youíre bored by my presentation, youíre going to turn me down?"

John shook his head. "If you ask me again, Iíll say yes."

"So you think the fact that you might fall asleep during the talk would make me rescind my offer?"

John smiled crookedly. "I hope not. And keep in mind that if you do ask again, you wonít get another out, so youíd better mean it."

"Do you want me to have Laura draw us up a contract?"

"No, that wonít be necessary," John chuckled. "Just make sure thereís food at the other end. You get cranky when youíre hungry."

Rodney had to grin at that. "You know me so well already, and speaking of eating..." He turned back to his meal and began to eat again.

"I get the feeling I should be honored that I distracted you from food even for a little while."

Rodney rolled his eyes and kicked John under the table because his mouth was full.

"Be nice or dessert will be delayed."

"What?" Rodney squawked around his mouthful.

"Then again, I like dessert too, so probably not." John grinned wickedly.

"You be nice or Iíll leave you with Laura," Rodney threatened.

"Carson would hurt you," John replied serenely.

"Not if I sent you off with them to Sea World for the day."

John gave him a look of pure horror.

"So I take it you have no interest in seeing Whazoo or whatever his name is?"

"I prefer my mammals of the human variety!"

"Even considering the increased lung capacity?"

"Rodney! I donít want a blow job from an orca!"

Rodney sputtered out his laughter. "I would hope not!"

John groaned. "Oh shut up and eat!" To which Rodney did just that.

"Oh crap, Iím late." John sat bolt upright in bed and scrabbled for his clothes. "I have an appointment this afternoon."

"An appointment?" Rodney asked, pushing up to his elbows to stare at the other man. "Something important?"

"Yeah, it is. For work. I know youíve got that dinner tonight; Iíll meet you there."

"Work? I thought..." Rodney nodded, pressing his lips together. "Sure, Iíll need someone to distract me from the speaker; heís bound to be idiotic."

"Oh, Iím pretty sure you wonít pay attention to a word he says after you see me."

Rodney grinned at that. "Youíd better believe it. Now go get dressed, and remember, Iíve got something to ask you tomorrow."

John leaned in to kiss him. "Iím already packed in case you do. Get some rest, and Iíll see you later."

Rodney leaned out over the edge of the bed and groped Johnís ass. "And I promise Iíll keep you awake during the speech."

John barked a laugh. "Oh, I donít think thereís going to be any difficulty there. And for the record, sorry."

"For taking away my favorite pillow? You should be." Rodney relaxed back into the bed and smiled.

"Yeah." Dressed now, John stood beside the bed and smiled down at him. "Well, your favorite pillow will be back later if you want it."

Rodney caught Johnís hand and pulled him in for another kiss. "Does that answer the question?" he murmured.

John just smiled. "Iíll see you at the dinner."

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome tonightís speaker, Dr. John Sheppard, head of R&D at SGC Industries."

To the round of polite applause, John walked out onto the stage, his eyes immediately searching out Rodneyís stunned face at a table not far from the stage.

Tearing his gaze away from John, Rodney turned to Laura, his face tight with shock that was rapidly transforming into anger. "I pay you to find out things I need to know; did you not think this was one of those things?"

She turned an equally stunned gaze back at him. "I didnít know! And I didnít look into Johnís background because, frankly, neither of us wanted to know. You were happy, Rodney, and we all chose to let it go at that."

"And dinna say ye werenít," Carson added before Rodney could speak.

"Fat, dumb and happy while he stole who knows what from my notes. Christ, I left him alone with my laptop!"

On stage John was wincing as he kept track of the reactions at Rodneyís table even as he gave his speech. Somehow he didnít think he was going to get his happily ever after ending.

"Look at Caldwell over there," Rodney growled, glaring at the head of SGCís security, "smirking his ass off; he probably set this up."

But Laura was looking at the stage. "I donít think so, Rodney. Look at John."


"Rodney," Carson sighed.

"He was as happy this week as you were, Rodney. And he looks pretty unhappy right not."

"Probably because he canít get any information from me now that his secretís out." Rodney cut a quick glance toward the stage but didnít let his gaze linger.

John tried to catch Rodneyís eye, and his shoulders slumped when he realized that Rodney wasnít going to allow it. His voice was flat as he continued his speech, and even his hair seemed limp and lifeless.

Rodney slugged back his wine and reached over for Lauraís glass, growing more and more morose as Johnís speech washed over him.

On stage, John cut his speech short, bringing it smoothly to a close so he could get out of there before he did something horribly embarrassing like begging Rodney to talk him while he was still on stage. When he was finally done, he hesitated for a moment, but he really didnít want to have this conversation in front of a roomful of people, and he could see his fatherís chief of security heading toward him, so he slipped out one of the rear doors and made his way up to Rodneyís room to wait for him in privacy.

Rodney somehow made it through the rest of the presentations, though he continually refreshed his glass of wine, much to his tablematesí protests. Once everything was done, he stood, turning an icy gaze toward the table where Stephen Caldwell was laughing at something with his cohorts.

"Rodney, donít!" Laura whispered urgently. "Donít make any assumptions till youíve talked to John."

"That would mean I had something to say to him," he replied flatly.

"I think you have some things to ask him."

"Iíd much rather be at the airport asking for a flight home."

"Come now, man, when have ye ever run from something?"

"Not to mention that youíre supposed to be speaking tomorrow," Laura pointed out. "If youíre right about John, you wouldnít want to give him the satisfaction of making you run, and if Iím right, well, I think you can figure that out on your own."

He sighed. "I hate it when youíre practical."

"Thatís because you hate to admit that someone other than you can be right," she teased gently.

"Thatís because it so rarely happens."

Laura crossed her arms and stared at him, waiting.

Carson groaned. "Just go, man, before she drags ye up there."

"Iím either too drunk or too sober for this."

"You know heís up there waiting for you, so go already," Laura growled. "I swear, Rodney, you are the most romantically inept person Iíve ever met. Go find out what the hell heís been playing at, and remember to leave enough for me to tear a strip off in the morning."

"Weíll see," Rodney said darkly, standing and taking a moment to get his bearings before heading out of the ballroom, ignoring Radekís questioning look as he made his way out to the elevators and finally up to his room.

Hearing the door open behind him, John tensed where he stood at the balcony door, looking out over the ocean. Heíd unbuttoned his jacket and unfastened his tie while heíd waited, but otherwise, he was still dressed as heíd been at the reception. His hands in his pockets, he waited silently for whatever Rodney might say, unwilling to turn around yet and see the expression in those blue eyes.

"I would compliment you on your speech, but I have to admit I didnít listen to much of it as I was somewhat distracted," Rodney commented, pulling off his coat and tossing it over a chair before pouring himself a whiskey from the mini-bar.

John flinched. "I did say that Iíd distract you from the speech," he said quietly to his reflection.

Rodney snorted before tossing back his drink. "Not quite the way I imagined. So, was it a good laugh for you? Did you get what you wanted out of it?"

John finally turned around to face him. "At first I didnít know who you were, at least till we got to the front desk. And yeah, for a few minutes I was pissed that you assumed I was some brainless himbo, but... Oh hell, Rodney, I just liked you, okay? And at first I didnít tell you Ďcause I figured we were just going to have a little while, and why end it by telling you? And then it was too late because I knew youíd react like this, and I didnít know how to tell you without losing you!"

"And not telling me made it so much better? Did you think I wouldnít recognize you just because you combed your hair?!"

"No," John sighed, "I knew it was worse the longer I let it go on, but I wanted this week, especially if it was all I was going to get. So yeah, I took the cowardís way and waited till tonight. I told you things would change." He smiled wistfully. "I guess I wonít have any question to answer tomorrow."

"Considering the fact that Iím not a glutton for punishment, thatís hardly likely." Rodney refilled his glass and swallowed the contents down as well.

John flinched as if heíd been struck. "Iím sorry that you consider time in my company to be punishment. I guess I should go now." He turned toward the door, never looking at Rodney.

"Hardly punishment," Rodney laughed bitterly, "Iíve just developed an aversion to rejection, so go on, back to your real life, and Iíll toddle on back to mine." Now it was Rodneyís turn to go to the window and stare out at the dark ocean, his shoulders hunched, expecting a blow to come in the sound of the door opening and closing.

"Rejection?" John barked out a harsh sound that might charitably be called laughter and swung around to stare at Rodneyís back. "Rodney, Iím out on a limb here, and itís breaking under me. Did you think I was kidding this afternoon when I said I already had my luggage packed? And I did that despite knowing how you were going to react tonight. I donít think I could get much more pathetic, but if you want me to beg, fine. Iíll do whatever it takes for you to give me another chance."

Rodney sighed and leaned his forehead against the cool glass, closing his eyes. "I want to, but... I donít know you, John; I donít know you at all."

"Yes, you do, Rodney. You know me better than anyone ever has. Do a couple of degrees and the fact that my IQ isnít lower than my shoe size really change everything weíve learned about each other this week? Nothing Iíve told you has been a lie. Granted, I left a hell of a lot out, but everything I did say was true."

"I donít know," Rodney repeated quietly. "I just donít know."

"Rodney, please. Give me a chance," John said, a hint of desperation audible in his tone. "I... donít want to lose you."

"I need to be alone right now; I have a lot to think about."

Johnís shoulders hunched up as if to deflect a blow as he nodded. "Will you still be here tomorrow?"

"Of course, I have a presentation to deliver, donít I?" Rodneyís voice was harsh and low, and he refused to turn away from the window.

Seeing that pressing his case just then wasnít going to help and realizing that it might actually make things worse if Rodney felt backed into a corner, John turned to go, his whole posture screaming his misery. "Iím sorry," he whispered as the door closed behind him.

Rodney flinched when he heard the door close, but stayed where he was, not allowing himself to think about what he might have lost.

The next morning John arrived for Rodneyís presentation with plenty of time to spare. It wasnít difficult considering that he hadnít slept at all the night before, something obvious to anyone who knew him by the dark circles under his eyes. Searching the crowd for Rodney, John didnít see Carson and Laura until he nearly knocked them over walking into them.

"I believe Iíve seen ye looking better, lad," Carson commented after studying the other man for a long moment.

"Iíve felt better," John admitted, raking a hand through already messy hair. "I really screwed up, didnít I?"

"Yup," Laura said, not without sympathy. "But if he didnít care, it wouldnít bother him so much, so thereís still hope."

John nodded slowly. "Thanks."

"Do ye mind if I ask ye a question though?"

John shrugged. "Iíd say I owe you that much."

"Why didnít ye just tell him who ye were?"

"At first, the first few hours that is, I was annoyed that he so obviously thought I was brainless. And then I realized that his pride would never let him stay with me after I tricked him, and I was trapped." John smiled painfully as he repeated the explanation heíd given Rodney the night before. "I was too scared to tell him because it mattered too much."

"Och, lad," Carson shook his head and patted Johnís shoulder. "Laura, tell John how Rodney looked this morning, will ye?"

She eyed John, coppery head tilted to one side. "Actually, he looked a lot like you do, John. Like shit."

"Oh?" John perked up a little. "You think he might listen to me?"

"Probably. I think he misses you."

"Ye must know that Rodney isnít the most... sensitive person, though."

"Carson, Iíve just spent most of a week with him. I fully expect to be insulted, along with my ancestry all the way back to the first pre-human that crawled out of the primordial sludge, and Iíll probably be groveling for weeks. But itís worth it."

Laura snickered. "Oh yeah, youíve got it bad."

"And no one can say that ye dinna know him well, even after this short time."

"Now I just have to hope that he gives me a chance," John sighed. "At least I can hear his presentation in the meantime. Iíve been looking forward to that for weeks."

"Good luck," Laura murmured, standing up and brushing a kiss over his cheek.

Carson stood as well, once again patting John on the shoulder. "Just stand strong and last him out; heíll wind down eventually."

John offered them a sickly smile, watching as they went to sit off to one side, abandoning him to his fate and Rodneyís mercies. He took a deep breath and settled in to wait for Rodney.

After his introduction, Rodney walked out, oblivious to the applause, and stood behind the lectern, fingering the laser pointer and computer remote. He scanned the crowd, noting faces he knew but not really seeing them until he saw another person who looked as shitty as he felt.

Pushing aside the surge of emotion that knotted his gut, he lifted his head, took a deep breath, and began his presentation.

John sat there, staring at Rodney throughout the presentation, barely hearing the words heíd been looking forward to, intent on the sound of Rodneyís voice rather than the words he was speaking.

After a question and answer session that seemed interminable, Rodney finally finished with the speech heíd been eager to give and had been exceedingly proud of but, for the life of him, he couldnít remember one moment of speaking. After gathering up his notes, he walked off the stage, nodding distractedly at people who greeted him, walking purposefully toward the haggard man still sitting at the end of an aisle.

John watched Rodney stride toward him, bracing himself for the rejection he feared was coming. He stared up into the guarded blue eyes, waiting.

"You showed up."

John nodded. "It was the one place I could be sure of seeing you where I wasnít going to be in danger of being arrested for stalking. And I really did want to hear your presentation."

"Any thoughts on it?"

A slight flush appeared on Johnís cheeks. "Iím afraid I didnít really absorb much of it," he had to admit. "I was distracted by the presenter."

Rodney breathed out something that might have been a laugh. "I have no idea why; that was the worst presentation Iíve given since I was in third grade and had to recite ĎCasey at the Batí."

Momentarily distracted by the mental image, John chuckled rustily. "Iím sure you were incredibly cute. As for now, you couldnít give a bad presentation if you tried. Your worst is still better than most peopleís best."

"Well, of course," Rodney sniffed, "but thatís beside the point." He paused and pressed his lips together. "I had quite a lot of time to think last night."

John seemed to hunch in on himself. "And what did you decide?"

"I decided to ask you if you were still packed." Rodneyís chin rose, and he looked at John almost defiantly.

John had been so sure that Rodney was going to tell him never to bother him again that it took a moment for the question to register. "Ióyes!"

"You donít care that youíre walking away from your career?"

John shrugged. "I never wanted SGC. And I could do so much more with you anyways, if that was what mattered to me."

"And what does matter to you?"

"You. Us." John sighed. "The way we fit together. Which isnít to say that I wonít start working once we get settled, but itís not the most important thing right now."

Rodney nodded, looking away before meeting Johnís gaze again. "Thatís why Iím here instead of on a plane back East. As I said, I had a lot of time to think last night, and while Iím still pissed at what you did, Iíd be more pissed at myself if I walked away."

"Oh thank God!" John exclaimed fervently, getting to his feet. He tentatively reached for Rodney, not sure if heíd be rebuffed.

Rodney held himself stiff for a moment before catching Johnís hand and pulling him into a hug, much to the shock of everyone around them. John let out a long, low sigh of pure relief and slumped into Rodneyís embrace, his eyes closing as his arms tightened almost painfully around the other man.

"John!" Robert Sheppard growled as he strode toward his son. "What the hell are you playing at?"

"Sheppard... John Sheppard, Robert Sheppard, wonderful," Rodney sighed, looking at the older man, who was very red in the face.

John groaned and kept his face buried against Rodneyís throat for a moment before straightening up. "Dad. You havenít poisoned yourself with your own bile yet. What a shame."

"No wonder you were packed," Rodney mused.

John chuckled. "Oh yeah, Dad? I quit."

"You canít quit! And get away from that, that fairy!"

John straightened abruptly, his eyes cold and dark. "You can insult me all you want, but one more word about Rodney and Iíll wipe the floor with you, old man."

"I really donít want to have to bail you out of jail," Rodney commented before turning his attention to the elder Sheppard. "And if you want to insult me, you have to try harder than that, Robert."

"As if I would waste my time on a fat, inept ego-maniac," Robert sneered an instant before Johnís fist plowed into his mouth.

"Damn it, John!" Rodney caught John and pulled him away from his father, who was clutching his face. "Like anything he says means anything."

"He has fucked up everything in my life. Heís not touching you."

"As if he could. Now let me see your hand; you might have hurt yourself."

"Iím fine," John said, but he let Rodney take his hand. "Iím sorry about that."

After inspecting Johnís hand for any cuts or bruising, Rodney shook his head. "I canít believe you hit him." He glanced over to where Robert Sheppard was surrounded by a group of men in suits.

"I canít believe I didnít do it years ago." John followed Rodneyís gaze. "I can pretty much guarantee a lack of family holidays in our future."

"Do I look like the type to get sentimental over cloying holiday drivel?" Rodney glanced over at the older Sheppard again and then back at John. "So I suppose this means you really are coming east."

"If you still want me to."

Rodney chuckled quietly. "You defended my honor; what do you think."

"I think Iím incredibly grateful youíre even speaking to me. And do you think we could go up to the room? Iím not too fond of the company here, and I donít know about you, but I didnít get any sleep last night. Lying down for a while would be good."

"I have to agree with that; if I wasnít used to functioning on very little sleep, Iíd be falling over." Rodney slid his arm around Johnís waist and started walking toward the exit, sighing when he saw Laura, Carson and Radek all beaming at them. "Wonderful."

"Huh? Oh." John smiled crookedly and waved. "We have our own cheering section. Youíre lucky to have such good friends."

"Oh yes, everyone needs people pushing him around, telling him itís for his own good."

"Considering that Iím pretty sure theyíd have been helping you hide my body if Iíd been using you, I think youíre a lot better off with them than without."

"No, if youíd been using me, there wouldnít be a body left to hide." Rodney grinned slightly as he spoke and steered John toward the elevators.

"Good point," John agreed with the faintest of chuckles. "So when do we leave? Suddenly I have an urge to get out of California and never come back."

"I thought you wanted to take a nap?" Rodney asked, for the moment avoiding the topic of John leaving everything in his life behind.

"Oh yeah, with you," John agreed fervently, willing to be distracted. "Last night sucked."

"I have to agree with you on that count, though I did quite a bit of research."

"Somehow I donít find that particularly comforting. Iíd much rather you did your work at night because I couldnít manage to drag you away, not because we were apart."

"You say that because you donít know what I was researching." They reached the elevators, and Rodney reached out to hit the up button.

"I suddenly feel like Iím in an episode of Pinky and the Brain, but okay, Iíll bite. What were you researching?"

Rodney smiled at bit at the reference. "You, of course. I was quite impressed by what I found out; Iíd read quite a few of your papers, you know."

"Ah. Yes." John flushed slightly, torn between embarrassment and pleasure. "I came to this thing to meet you, you know. Though I never expected it to happen the way it did. Or any of... this." He gestured vaguely.

"This is what you get for dripping on people," Rodney murmured as they walked into the elevator after the doors opened. He pushed the button for his floor and smiled again. "I believe youíre as smart as Radek."

"Not as smart as you, huh?"

"Thereís no one as smart as me."

"Thatís what I love about you, Rodney. Youíre so humble."

"Humility is for people who have no true sense of their self-worth."

John snickered. "Well, I happen to agree that youíre worth an awful lot, so donít strain yourself on my account. No restraint required. Restraints, on the other hand..." He trailed off with a significantly cocked brow and a grin as he remembered a previous conversation.

Rodney cocked an eyebrow of his own and let go of John to lean against the wall of the elevator. "Just how many times did you Ďplay dumbí with me?"

Eyeing him, John wondered if it might have been smarter not to raise this issue yet, but heíd known it was going to come up eventually. "A few," he admitted warily. "I slipped a lot too, but you were so determined to believe that my cock size was higher than my IQ that you didnít notice. Of course, twenty seconds later, youíd catch me in something less obvious than what youíd missed." He shook his head. "It got to be fun trying to figure out just how much I could get away with."

"I never thought your IQ was lower than nine."

That got Rodney very thoroughly kissed, and they almost missed their floor, just managing to stumble out before the doors closed again. "Nice to know you have standards... and poor eyesight, to my benefit," John panted, pressing up against Rodneyís back as the scientist tried to open the door to the room.

"My eyesight is perfect, thank you," Rodney growled before shivering as John pressed against him before he finally was able to slide the keycard through the slot and get the door open.

"Then perhaps itís your visual estimating thatís at fault," John murmured against the tender flesh of Rodneyís earlobe before nipping gently while nudging him through the door. John pushed the door shut behind them and whirled them around so he could slam Rodney against it, rocking against him as he took Rodneyís mouth. Rodney winced when his head banged against the door, but for once he didnít complain, only pulled John closer, his hand pulling at Johnís shirt and coat, trying to get beneath them to his bare skin.

"Oh God, yeah," John groaned. "So good, missed you, so sorry," he rambled, tugging at Rodneyís own clothes while his mouth fastened onto Rodneyís neck.

"Should be, but Iíd rather beófuck!--with you and pissed than away from you and pissed and depressed."

"Genius," John rasped. He finally got Rodneyís pants open and shoved down over muscular hips so he could curl a fist around the erection he freed.

"That makes two of us." Rodney bucked forward into Johnís hand, leaning his head against Johnís shoulder before turning his face to close his teeth on the warm flesh of his throat.

John shuddered and groaned at the sensation. "Bed," he panted, backing toward it while holding Rodney to keep them pressed together.

"A very good idea," Rodney whispered, struggling to walk without tripping over his loosened pants as he tried to work on Johnís.

"I hope you have a nice, big bed back in Massachusetts." John let himself tumble onto the bed, bringing Rodney with him.

"With an excellent mattress," Rodney nodded, pushing up to his knees to pull off his jacket, tie and shirt.

"Oh good. We wonít have to waste time shopping before breaking it in." John lay back and watched, his gaze heated as more of Rodneyís body was bared.

Rodney paused and licked his lips, the heat of Johnís gaze making his mouth dry. "You really want to do this," he murmured.

"More than Iíve ever wanted anything, even my first doctorate."

"Advanced Theoretical Mathematics, 1997." Rodney leaned in and unbuttoned Johnís shirt, running his hands over his chest after spreading the cotton wide.

Johnís eyes widened. "You did research me. Thatís really... hot."

Rodney flushed and shrugged. "If I list the rest of them, will it get me fucked?"

"I donít think anything could stop that from happening," John chuckled, reaching over to the nightstand for the lube and rubbers. "Oh, and for the record, now that you know I know what Iím saying, Iím clean."

"Very glad to hear it." Rodney paused, his hands resting on Johnís chest. "So am I, but..."

John raised a hand to Rodneyís lips, stopping his words. "Iím not pushing anything. Just saying." He held the condom up where Rodney could see it before sheathing himself.

Rodney quirked a half-smile before kissing John and rolling off him to lie on his back. "Though I hope you will be pushing something."

"Oh yeah." John pressed a hastily slicked finger into Rodneyís ass, both of them groaning as it slipped inside. He could feel his cock jump as he watched the digit disappear and felt Rodney clench down around him.

"John..." Rodney hissed, spreading his legs and pushing up off the bed as he groaned.

It had been less than a day, but it felt so much longer with all that had happened, and John was desperate to get inside Rodney. He pushed another finger inside, then positioned himself and pressed forward, his eyes closing as he felt Rodneyís body take him in. Rodney whimpered again and pulled his legs back to his chest, opening himself fully to Johnís claiming.

"God, I missed you," John nearly whimpered, dark eyes opening to meet Rodneyís. "Weíre never doing that again."

"Well, unless you have any more secrets you havenít told me, I canít see how we will."

"Nope, unless you mean that weíve been working on the same problem, and if we pool our research, I think we can solve it."

Rodney nodded and sucked in a breath when John moved inside him. "And Iíve convinced Radek to leave Cal Tech; between the three of us, weíre golden."

John reared up to look down at Rodney. "You have no idea how hard it was to restrain myself the other day when I realized you were bringing Dr. Zelenka on board. Weíre going to be an amazing team." He drove into Rodney again, increasing the speed of his thrusts.

"Of course," Rodney panted as he rocked upward, "if you try to come on to Radek, his wife will kill you."

"Iím a one-man man."

"And youíd damn well better remember that!" Rodney let go of his knees and pulled John down to kiss him hungrily.

"If I could marry you to prove it, I would. Since I canít, Iíll just have to make sure you know it." John reached between them, jerking Rodney in time with his thrusts into him.

Rodney gasped out a laugh that turned into a groan. "We could go to Canada, though Laura would kill me if I took another week off."

"Iíll protect you from your big, bad assistant."

"Mmm, my hero." Rodney kissed John again and tightened down on him as they moved together.

"And donít you forget it. Youíre stuck with me now." John gave up on talking and settled into fucking Rodney, his eyes closing as the pleasure began to overwhelm him.

"I can live with that," Rodney whispered, staring up at John. He held out as long as possible but was undone when he felt John pulse within him. John managed to hold himself up until he felt the last spasm of Rodneyís climax before he collapsed on top of the huskier man, panting for breath, sweaty, and happier than he had dared hope for a few hours earlier.

Rodney wrapped his arms around Johnís body and held him close, relaxing back against the mattress and closing his eyes. "I definitely can live with it."



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