Lucky or Smart

by Kass

A short and sweet episode tag for S4 x 13, "Quarantne." Many thanks to Terri and Sihaya Black for the beta!

Teyla was the first to leave the mess hall. She pressed one hand to the small of her back as she rose, which made John wince in sympathy. Pregnancy did not look like fun.

"Well, it is bedtime for me," Radek said, a few minutes later. He smiled at everyone around the table as he got up to leave. Still flying high from having saved the day, probably. John didn't begrudge him that. Rodney might have, but he wasn't around, and John didn't feel any kind of weird obligation to resent Radek on Rodney's behalf.

Ronon and Keller left at the same time; not technically together, but John was pretty sure they were headed in that direction. Which was cool. He liked Keller, and it was good to see Ronon psyched about somebody.

But Rodney never showed. His absence was palpable. And -- if he was getting married, was this a foretaste of things to come? That bummed John out more than he wanted to admit. He did want to see Rodney happy; he just didn't think Katie was the one who could make that happen. But Rodney wanted to marry her, so John pushed that thought out of his mind.

He activated his radio in the transporter. "Sheppard to McKay. You busy?"

"Not exactly." Rodney's voice was clipped.

"I'm coming over," John said, walking down the hall. "I owe you that beer." Rodney didn't answer, but when John knocked on his door it opened right away.

Rodney was sitting at his desk, in front of his laptop. He looked...exhausted. Unhappy. More than usual. Which was not what John had been expecting.

"Hey," John said, scrapping his prepared speech about the manly obligation to celebrate Rodney's engagement with booze. "What happened?"

"You mean aside from spending all day thinking I was dying of some dread disease, and the city trying to kill us and very nearly alerting the Wraith to our location, and my getting trapped in a botany lab without a single computer during what was arguably the biggest crisis we've faced this week?"

"I mean with Katie."

Rodney didn't flinch, exactly, but he seemed to shrink in on himself.

"We're not getting married," he said, raising his chin slightly as if in defiance.

"I was starting to suspect that." Relief warred with empathy in John's heart. The empathy made him uncomfortable about feeling the relief. All of which kind of gave him a stomachache. He sat on the edge of Rodney's bed and waited.

Rodney closed his laptop and turned his chair to face John. "Really, it's lucky we both reached the same conclusion," he said. "We respond to crisis in completely different ways. She's so...hopeful," like he was saying she spoke some weird foreign language he had no hope of learning, "and I'm -- negative. And today I was useless."

John's heart seized up, like someone was crushing his chest.

"It's not your fault. You didn't have your tablet with you."

"Take away your guns, and you can still hurt somebody with your hands," Rodney said bitterly. "Take my tools away from me, and what can I even do?"

"Today sucked," John said. "But that doesn't change anything. You're still --" My best friend. A genius. Way too attractive for my own good. "The guy who usually saves the day."

"Not to Katie, I'm not." Rodney's face fell. "Oh, my sister's going to kill me."

"What does Jeannie have to do with this?"

"She told me I wasn't going to find anyone better. She's right, of course -- I mean, it's not like there's a vast dating pool here to begin with, and the odds of my finding someone who can put up with my many and varied shortcomings --"

"Your sister said that to you?" Ouch. That must have hurt.

Rodney's mouth was a sad crooked line and his shoulders were slumped, his bravado forgotten. "I haven't even gotten to the best part. 'You're no John Sheppard.'" He made little quote marks with his fingers.

The way Rodney said it made it clear that he agreed.

John was reeling. He held up both hands, wanting Rodney to stop, and mercifully he did. Man, John was in way over his head.

"Look," he said, after a long moment of silence. "I like your sister. I think she's good for you. Most of the time."

Rodney huffed a little almost-laugh.

"But she's way off-base on this one." Rodney was looking at him like he might be about to offer pearls of genuine wisdom, which considering his own relationship track record was just plain wrong.

John tried again. "You don't want to get married just because somebody else thinks you should. Trust me on this: it's a bad idea." He stifled memories of his own wedding -- and its dismal aftermath.

Rodney grimaced. "Dying alone isn't exactly a good idea, either."

That was just Rodney being a pessimist and a drama queen; John ignored it. "And being John Sheppard isn't exactly a picnic."

"At least you're pretty," Rodney said, though his moroseness seemed to be lifting. "You can get away with a lot when you're pretty."

Holy shit. Rodney thought he was pretty? What did that mean, exactly?

Wait, no, on second thought he didn't want to know. Whatever it was would probably be disappointing, because there was no way Rodney meant what John wanted him to mean. So John deflected. "Yeah, but I'm really looking for someone who likes me for my brains, not my ability to do push-ups."

"If you joined MENSA, you might have a better shot at that."

"Who'm I gonna meet in MENSA? I already know the smartest guy in Atlantis," John said automatically: his standard response to Rodney nudging him to join MENSA, which happened all the damn time. He realized it was the wrong comeback too late. Because now Rodney was staring at him as though he were a DHD console that wasn't quite working right. Like he was on the verge of reaching into John's guts, re-organizing some crystals, and figuring everything out.

John stood up hastily. "Look. I'm really sorry it's been such a rough day. A good night's sleep, that's what we all need --"

But Rodney stood too, just a hair too close. His shoulders were back, his chin was raised.

John's heart was absolutely not hammering.

Rodney's head tilted slightly. John forced himself to hold still. Not reach out. Not flee the room, either, because that would be a tacit admission that Rodney was reading him right, and he still had plausible deniability, damn it.

"I can't entirely believe I'm going to take two enormous emotional risks in a single day," and Rodney was standing so close it was all John could do not to twitch forward and touch his broad chest, "but it seems noteworthy that this time I don't feel I'm in danger of throwing up from sheer nerves, which in hindsight probably tells me something."

"Rodney," John said. His voice cracked, which was a little bit embarrassing. He wasn't sure how to end the sentence anyway.

"If this doesn't work," Rodney said wryly, "well, I'm not sure my day could get a whole lot worse."

Up until the second Rodney reached out to touch him, John didn't believe this was happening. It turned out Rodney wasn't getting married -- believed he wasn't fit to even date -- and yet he was evidently about to plant one on John. Which might have been a little insulting, except that John was pretty sure Rodney didn't mean it that way.

Rodney was about to kiss him. How the hell had they wound up here?

"I never see this coming," John murmured, reaching out to cradle Rodney's head with both hands.

The kiss started out aggressive, as if Rodney thought John was going to need convincing. John held him steady, slowing things down. He could feel the second when Rodney got it, stopped trying to talk him into what they were doing and started just reveling in it instead. He pressed against John and sighed into John's mouth and John thought, dizzily, that he really should have known.

Rodney did everything with single-minded determination. He could derive minutes of pleasure from eating a cafeteria doughnut, for God's sake. John should have realized he would be like this, like a cat rolling in catnip, like he just wanted to bury himself in John and never come out.

And wasn't that a mental image. John shuddered, his dick suddenly so hard that his BDUs were snug torture across his groin.

When they broke to breathe Rodney was talking, his voice low and breathless, as if this was the monologue he'd been delivering in his head the entire time. "I can't believe we've never -- I mean, the odds of me finding someone who can put up with me were incredibly slim, not to mention finding someone who's even remotely smart enough -- but John, it's going to be so good, you can't --"

John kissed him again. Purely for research purposes, to see if it would shut him up. Which it did.

Rodney pushed at his chest, and when John pulled back Rodney yanked his own shirt up and over his head.

"That's one of your better ideas," John acknowledged, and tugged his own black t-shirt off. He wanted to touch Rodney's bare chest, to feel that gorgeous expanse of skin, but Rodney batted his hands away.

"Trousers first," Rodney said. "Or somebody's going to trip, and it's probably going to be me."

He had a point there. John sat back down on Rodney's bed, unlaced his boots, and pushed his BDUs down over his hips.

Next thing he knew Rodney was pushing him flat on his back. John managed to scoot himself up the bed until his head was more-or-less on Rodney's pillow, and -- oh. Naked Rodney, pinning him to the bed. Bracing himself on his arms and kissing John's jaw. John tilted his head, hoping Rodney would get the hint and go for the neck, and his hands slid down to squeeze Rodney's firm ass.

Which made Rodney squirm against him, just far enough to the side that his thigh slipped between John's legs. John saw sparks behind his closed eyes. There was pressure against John's aching cock, and Rodney's dick rubbing against his hip, and Rodney gasping into John's ear.

"Next time, I really want to suck you," Rodney murmured, and his mouth went unerringly to John's iratus scar. And oh, shit, John was going to come any second now because the thought of Rodney's hot eager mouth on his dick and the sensation of Rodney's body over his were just too good.

"Time after that, maybe you can fuck me," John breathed, hardly believing he was saying the words out loud, and that was it: Rodney's body jerked over his, hot wetness striping him, and John thrust frantically up, so close, desperate for it. Rodney's sloppy kiss swallowed his groan.

They lay like that for a few minutes, John petting Rodney's body aimlessly. Touching the curve of his back and ass and hip, like the swell of a guitar.

"Am I crushing you?" Rodney said, into John's neck.

John tried to shrug, but it was hard with Rodney pressing him into the mattress. "I like it," he said, but it was too late, Rodney was pushing himself up and kneeling over John's body. His hair was standing on end and he had bite marks on his neck (when had John done that?) and he looked... happy. The sight made John's heart do somersaults in his chest.

"First thing tomorrow, bigger bed," Rodney said, firmly.

"No complaints from me," John offered. He folded his arms behind his head -- he'd had a girlfriend who said he was pretty much a centerfold when he did that -- and had to keep himself from gloating visibly when Rodney momentarily looked dazed in response.

"Wow," Rodney said, after a moment. "This is...really not the day I thought I was having."

The reminder of the day Rodney'd been having -- at least, the day he'd set out to have -- sent a small chill down John's spine. He had to force the words out. "No...second thoughts, right?"

Rdodney looked gratifyingly offended. "Are you insane?"

"I wouldn't say," John began, but Rodney steamrollered right over him.

"Surely I don't need to boost your ego, but --"

"My ego?"

"You're absurdly attractive, you're actually not a moron, and you...put up with me."

Flustered, John decided, was a good look on Rodney. Not that he had any intention of saying so.

"Yeah," John agreed. "I guess I do."

"Lucky me," Rodney said quietly.

John had to close his eyes for a second, just to blink away some stupid mote of dust or something. "I've always said I'd rather be lucky than smart."

"What a stupid dichotomy," Rodney said, sounding exasperated and fond all at once. And then he bent to kiss John again, and there wasn't any more talking at all.

The End