Summary: John knew Rodney, his strengths and weaknesses and blind spots, the way he'd push past his limits while they were facing certain doom, the smug tilt of his chin when he was proved right. So John could pinpoint the reason Rodney was giving into neuroses about Rod's presence on Atlantis, could sigh and decide he really did need to meddle, just this once. 3100+ words.
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Disclaimer: MGMs, not mine.
Spoilers: 3x08 McKay and Mrs. Miller
Original Story: Bridges by pollitt
Even though he'd rather be captured by Kolya again that admit it, John missed Rodney while the guy was off on mysterious business for Stargate Command. Finesse his sister, the message had said, which made John snort that anyone would mention "finesse" and Dr. Rodney McKay in the same sentence. "Abrasive" or "insufferable" was a more common label, although John always felt cranky when he heard McKay being disparaged. The number of times Rodney had saved their lives under dire circumstances granted a man some leeway with John in areas of interpersonal courtesy.
While Rodney was away, John tried to occupy his time with training and organization of Atlantis' military contingent, but that led to strange looks from Major Lorne and secret sideways conversations held in the tilt of a head and arch of a brow between Elizabeth and Teyla. John moped his way through dinner and then went back to his room and listened to Johnny Cash until he fell asleep. It was surprisingly lonely without Rodney always annoying John and bothering him at all hours of the day and night with the latest discovery out of the science labs.
Ronon would then roust John from bed at dawn and lead him on punishing runs around the city – although that was their usual routine. John's mile was down to six minutes, and he'd memorized the lyrics to American Man V: A Hundred Highways by the time they heard from the Daedalus. Rodney was returning to Atlantis with his sister and hey, remember that energy test on Doranda that destroyed most of the solar system? Want to try a variant?
Jeannie wasn't what John expected, not that he had any expectations. She had none of Rodney's prickliness, instead seeming warm and approachable and more than a little bit wide-eyed at the wonders of Atlantis. Rodney warning John away, as if John was trying to be anything other than nice, just proved that Rodney was an idiot sometimes.
Which was why, a few days later, John approached the table where Teyla and Ronon and Jeannie were seated and slouched down into a chair with a grin.
"Hey, what's up?" Casual, John. Be casual.
"Jeannie was asking us about life in Atlantis," Teyla said.
"It's crazy here," Jeannie broke in. "Mer told me about creatures but I had no idea what he meant."
"The Wraith are bad news," Ronon said
Just like every time the Wraith were mentioned these days, John tried to block out the memory of his life draining into a clawed palm, of harsh lights and a camera lens recording his screams. Distraction, distraction. "So, why do you call him Mer?"
Jeannie's face grew impish under her curly blonde hair. "That's his name. Meredith."
John's memories of fleeing an Ancient weapon run amuck were dire enough that he wasn't really surprised to be informed that an alternate version of McKay had appeared from nowhere, curled up like Arnie in The Terminator. Something was fated to go wrong, and the bickering between Rodney and Jeannie wasn't enough to absorb the bad karma that seemed to surround Atlantis whenever they tried to advance their position in Pegasus. One step forward, two steps back, in a demented waltz of survival. If John waltzed, which he doesn't.
He golfs instead. Dreams of a regulation eighteen holes on the mainland were quashed by Elizabeth's puzzled frown, so the driving range into the ocean has to serve.
And he'd have to be a saint to ignore the opportunities for teasing offered by Jeannie's inside information on Meredith Rodney McKay's childhood. It wasn't like Rodney was doing anything vital at that moment, just leaving Elizabeth's office after some consultation.
John thought the question was innocuous. "So, Meredith - did you prefer Barbie or tinker toys?"
The disgusted hurrumph as Rodney stalked away made John smirk. Got one.
Besides kid, the only other thing he could do was watch, as Rodney tried to deal with his sister and his alternate self. Rodney started demonstrating a prickly insistence on self-promotion that evoked the afternoon nine-year old John had come home complaining about how Timmy Brolin had to make everything about him. Timmy's hobbies and smarts and victories made John want to punch him in the mouth, but he'd been warned about the consequences of fighting.
John's mother listened to his seething report of the spelling quiz and 50-yard dash, then started asking questions. By the time she was done, John understood that Timmy's boasting was all about disguising his insecurities, and he felt less violent the next time Timmy got hailed by Ms. Perkins for knowing the correct answer to the math problem (that John could have answered, if she'd only called on him).
Rodney and Jeannie were a mass of dysfunction and unresolved conflicts on their own, and adding Rod into the mix made them that much more combustible.
John found the visitor fascinating, all smooth surfaces and deflection in comparison to Rodney's inability to hide his emotions. Rodney was transparent, all big eyes and expressive mouth, darting hands trying to draw pictures in the air when even his notorious fast-talking wasn't fast enough. John had started to rely on that - he could always tell when Rodney was really worried, and used it to determine when they should rev up their efforts.
No clues could be found in Rod's easy grins, and he always had a piece of advice to offer.
Watching Rodney throw defensive shields over his sister's affection, his doppelganger, fixing the latest error in his work - John finally realized that Rodney was reminding him of Timmy Brolin in some bizarre way.
And yet. John knew Rodney, his strengths and weaknesses and blind spots, the way he'd push past his limits while they were facing certain doom, the smug tilt of his chin when he was proved right. So John could pinpoint the reason Rodney was giving into neuroses about Rod's presence on Atlantis, could sigh and decide he really did need to meddle, just this once.
The expression on Jeannie's face as she watched the end of Rodney's rambling, nakedly honest message (just the end – for days John had laughed every time the word "leadership" had popped into his head after he skimmed through all the videos to Earth. He'd been searching for some comfort about those lost after the Wraith attack but Rodney's stream of consciousness had been distraction enough from John's guilt; he wouldn't subject Jeannie to that level of drug-and-exhaustion-affected McKay), that expression made the potential breach of confidence worth it.
Not like Rodney would find out, and even if he did, Jeannie wouldn't be pushing him away all the time and Rodney would like that. He tried to pretend he didn't care, but he did. John knew it.
Jeannie had shifted from openly wary to cautiously interested to understanding when John told her about the things Rodney had done here in Atlantis. Not just the big things, but the little ones as well: the way he mutters and rolls his eyes about his science staff but writes glowing reviews. His complaints over the mess hall menu and tendency to say just the wrong thing in the field contrasted with his ability to diagnose the smallest problems in Atlantis' systems. John stumbled his way through, because he hated to have to talk about this stuff, but Jeannie deserved to know.
After the recording cut off, Jeannie seemed to agree. "Now I’ve seen three sides of my brother." She sounded stunned, maybe that Rodney had admitted that family was important.
"Yeah," John said and then Rodney barged in without knocking, time too valuable to waste on courtesy.
He was openly suspicious. "What are you two up to?"
John took the laptop from Jeannie and prepared to retreat. "Nothing. Just, uh, telling stories about you. You know, trying to help her fall asleep."
Rodney fake laughed and John sidled over to the door.
"I’ll leave you guys alone."
John slipped out of the guest quarters with the satisfaction of a job well done, leaving Rodney to say farewell to his sister. Rodney's family wasn't irretrievably sundered, and John would bet his first-pressing vinyl of At Folsom Prison that Rodney wouldn't ignore Jeannie again.
They'd have that connection of shared history and childhood experience transformed to adulthood.
Later that night, John sat on his bed, reading War and Peace and trying to distract himself from the knowledge that they no longer had power for shields. Anatoly and his sister Elena were plotting ways for Anatoly to get Natasha Rostova into bed, and John knew nothing good could come of it. Life was like that.
His door chimed. Of course, right when it was getting interesting – no wonder he couldn't finish the damn novel.
He got up and went to the door. It slid open to reveal Rodney, jacket shed somewhere, leaving his bare forearms looking oddly vulnerable. "What's up, buddy?" John asked, suddenly afraid that there'd been a McKay family fight after he left. "Everything okay with Jeannie?"
Rodney's mouth opened and closed like a guppy before he said, "I saw the security feed." John's stomach dropped. "I know what you did." Rodney had never been one to prevaricate, but John still wonders if he's about to be punched in the gut for meddling. Then Rodney looked John directly in the eyes and said, "For me."
It wasn't a punch but John's stomach dropped at what he saw in Rodney's face. "I, uh –" what the hell was John supposed to say to that?
Rodney didn't thank people that often. Not and mean it. While John gaped, Rodney walked inside, invading the room with his usual lack of regard for barriers. John pivoted around, and the next thing he knew, Rodney's arms were wrapped around his waist.
John returned the embrace automatically, almost saying something like, "Hey, it's okay," but the words wouldn't make it past the lump in his throat.
"Hi," Rodney said, voice higher than usual.
John's return "Hi" was gruff, and he felt suspended between the past and the future, possibilities opening inside him, things that he never knew he wanted suddenly here for the taking if he'd only reach out.
"I didn't know," Rodney continued, obviously overwhelmed at the proof that John cared about his happiness.
No words appeared, and John had always been better with action anyway. He dared, knowing that it could be a disaster, and lowered his mouth to the side of Rodney's neck, brushing over a tendon with all the emotion running through his veins.
Suddenly, Rodney's hands - large and clumsy to look at, deft in motion - were at the back of John's neck. Rodney's mouth - that crooked, mobile, maddening mouth - swept across John's jaw. And John knew - knew - in that split second where this would lead and decided to jump.
The kiss lasted forever.
John found himself reaching for Rodney's face, so different than Rod's, so much better. John ran his fingers from temple to earlobes, loving the way Rodney shivered and his mouth stuttered open that much more. Rodney's hands burrowed under John's t-shirt to the skin of his back, and it's been so long since John was touched like that. He wanted to revel in the sensation, but he wants more, too.
Rodney's always been the one person on Atlantis that John felt instinctively easy with, able to play instead of having to uphold the image of military commander. This was a different type of play, and John wanted to explore all the ways he could make Rodney react.
John moved his hand to the back of Rodney's neck, ran his thumb over the soft hairs there.
Then Rodney yawned, and all John could do was laugh.
"John?" Rodney questioned, a thrill to hear something other than "Major" or "Colonel" or "Sheppard," and John knew just how much this meant to him by how much he wanted to hear Rodney call him that again and again.
Something in his face must have given him away, because Rodney said, "Thank God," and relaxed more into John's arms.
"C'mon, time for bed," John said, and pulled Rodney by the hand over to where his sheets were still rumpled.
"Thank you for not referring to me by that other name."
"What, Rod?" John teased, remembering how much he'd chafed at his family's insistence on calling him Johnny once he started to drive.
Rodney didn't appreciate the jibe. "Do that again and you're never getting any." His voice was aggrieved, and John wanted to ruffle his hair to turn the indignation into laughter. Rodney continued, "And there will be no calling-out of Meredith in the throes of ecstasy."
John restrained his fingertips, but not his impulse for bad jokes. "How about a boy named Sue?"
The expression on Rodney's face turned to outrage, and he pushed John's shoulders enough that John tumbled down onto his mattress. The next thing John knew, Rodney was kneeling astride him, looking determined and making John's cock harden.
"I will punish you for that," Rodney said, and John laughed again, harder and deeper, then reached out to pull Rodney close and kiss his irritation away. A far better tactic than John'd had to rely on before - Rodney moaned into John's mouth and melted like he'd decided to let gravity have its way with him.
John tugged at Rodney's shirt hem, stripped him down to his bare chest, and licked at one of Rodney's nipples. Rodney gasped, and John bit gently to escalate.
Then John's shirt was gone, and Rodney was fumbling at his waist, and God, God, that felt so good that all John could do was buck his hips and try to get more of Rodney's hands on his cock. They were warm and just rough enough and John moaned and let his brain go offline. Who needed thought when pleasure sparked through every nerve ending and his skin was screaming more, more, more.
"Jesus," Rodney said in a way John hadn't heard since they found him, young and alive, after Kolya's happy fun time with a Wraith. John had to have more of that, and he twisted his legs, used all the Judo leverage tricks Ford had taught him so that Rodney was the one with his back on the mattress.
"I thought you were tired?" John asked. Then he smiled, and Rodney's eyes widened in response.
By the time John was done, he and Rodney were both naked, skin against skin and reveling in it.
John hadn't done this often, but he'd done it enough to have some idea how to proceed, and Rodney didn't seem to have any complaints at the way John's fingers trailed along his ribcage. All that skin, pale and flushed, drew John's mouth like coffee drew Rodney's. Curly hair surrounded Rodney's cock, and John bent down, breathed deep, licked the crease of Rodney's thigh.
The reaction he got made John stay there, made him spend long moments mouthing around but never touching Rodney's groin. John could feel Rodney's hands on his shoulders, could hear the choked pleas and curses, but all he cared about was the way Rodney's skin tasted, the pale pink circles that rose when John's teeth gnawed gently. His chin, stubbled and rough, occasionally touched Rodney's cock, making Rodney groan deep, swallow curses, and thrust upward.
Finally, John couldn't take it any longer - he'd waited long enough, stirred Rodney until he was panting and wordless. And John wanted to taste the fluid that pearled at the tip of Rodney's dick, wanted to savor the bitter tang, the knowledge that John had caused this. His mouth closed around the head, wet and soft as John could make it, and Rodney quieted for an instant, hung suspended in the moment. John smiled, and took Rodney as deep as he could manage.
The years since he'd last tried this made John clumsy, all enthusiasm and no technique, but Rodney didn't seem to mind. John wondered if Rodney looked like he did when he ate the chocolate cupcakes the mess sergeants baked infrequently, but John was too occupied to look and see for himself. Up and down, in as steady a rhythm as he could manage, hands spread wide over Rodney's hip bones, holding his attempts to thrust upward in check.
John knew how that felt, knew what it was like to be restrained, held back from the mindless rush to completion - how it made sex hotter and more intense, and John wanted that for Rodney.
When Rodney's moans pitched higher and higher, when his fingers scrabbled, John took Rodney as deep as he could and swallowed over and over.
Rodney keened and went still and flooded John's mouth with come that John drank down, knowing it was stupid but not caring.
A timeless interval where John's tongue swept around Rodney's cock, sought out every drop of strong flavor, and then Rodney collapsed, lax and boneless.
He was only that way for a few heartbeats before he was pulling John up his torso, petting him with clumsy palms and reaching to kiss John, all tongue and dirty lips. John let Rodney have his way, pushed the hard on he'd been sublimating into the curve of Rodney's hip, and whined.
John hadn't been willing to imagine this, and that was just as well because he wasn't creative enough to visualize how perfect he and Rodney would be together.
"Oh, you," Rodney said softly, words not entirely restored, and his fingers trailed down John's side and around his hips to curl around John's cock.
John couldn't help it, he groaned and thrust into the warmth surrounding him. Rodney was just as deft with this as he was with Ancient control crystals and John lost himself in pressure and friction and the necessity of giving over to the snap of his hips, the starburst of sensation up his spine. It was so much better that Rodney was doing this instead of John's right hand.
Rodney started crooning in John's ear, "That's it, come on, oh God, if I'd known," then he twisted and John whimpered. "How are you so hot?" Rodney asked, and twisted his hand again.
John was gone, fucking forward as hard as he could, and Rodney swiped a thumb over John's slit and that was it, John's brain whited out and he climaxed, semen landing on Rodney's belly, creamy and hot.
When John came back to himself, his head was tucked against Rodney's shoulder and their legs were tangled, John's knee nestled against Rodney's softened cock. Rodney was pressing quiet kisses into John's temple, stroking the length of his back, and John shifted to try and get them even closer.
"Wow," Rodney said, and John's mouth turned in a smug and satisfied grin.
When else could he say it? "I missed you," John admitted, chest holding still until Rodney's leg moved higher on John's thigh and Rodney sighed, "I missed you too."
Notes: My thanks to pollitt for writing such a wonderful story, Wikipedia for the War and Peace plot details, hydroxyl groups for facilitating the final rush of prose, and my betas for their lightning quick efforts. Some dialogue taken from the episode written by Martin Gero.