Above Oblivion's Tide there is a Pier

by Kass

A missing scene, and episode tag, for "The Shrine." Thanks to Lamardeuse and Sihaya Black for beta, and to Emily Dickinson for unwittingly lending me the story's title!

Chilling out late at night with his best friend on the pier of their beautiful floating city. It would have been perfect, except for the thing John was doing his best not to think about.

And Rodney wasn't helping. ("How about we say goodbye now?" Jesus. How about we not?) Not that John could really blame him; it wasn't as if Rodney could put it out of his mind.

John couldn't either, but he could put a brave face on it. That was the least he could do. So he did. And for an hour, breathing the salty air of the New Lantean sea and knocking back a sixpack with Rodney, life was almost normal.


After the sixpack was gone, they headed back to John's quarters, each clutching a few empty cans. After the pier and the sky, the corridors seemed confining. Was that how Rodney felt, the wide open spaces of his mind closing themselves off?

Rodney set his cans down carefully on the edge of John's desk. And Jesus, John never saw this coming. Because Rodney was moving toward him with intent in his eyes, everything they'd never acted on written right there on Rodney's face. And then Rodney was kissing him with all the shy tenderness of a teenager on his first date.

John knew he should push him away. Gently but firmly. Point out that Rodney wasn't firing on all cylinders right now. That it wouldn't exactly be ethical of John to make out with a guy whose brain was slowly being extinguished by some goddamned fucking parasite he'd picked up on an away mission where he'd been, that's right, John's responsibility.

John knew what the right thing to do would be. He didn't do it.

Instead he dropped his beer cans at their feet with a tinny clatter and hauled Rodney in to kiss him back. The leather of his jacket creaked in John's hands and Rodney's body was solid and strong against his. Rodney made a happy sound into his mouth and the terrifying cautiousness of the kiss turned into something more intense, more demanding, more — Rodney.

And then Rodney pulled back and shrugged out of the jacket, reaching behind his neck to tug his t-shirt off over his head. "Naked," he said, voice muffled by the cotton. When his face was free he added, "now."

John knew he was grinning ear to ear. Probably looked like an idiot. Didn't really care. "Some guys would say 'please,'" he pointed out, stripping.

Rodney didn't answer. When John glanced over he saw Rodney standing naked beside his bed, his cock already half-hard. The longing on his face made John's chest hurt.

Rodney licked his lips. "Please," he said, voice low.

"Okay, we should go back to you ordering me around," John managed, and then pushed Rodney over to the bed and onto his back. He didn't want to think about how much this hurt. How fucking angry he was that this was happening to Rodney. That the smartest man in two galaxies was losing track of high school vocabulary. That they'd waited this long to finally touch each other, and by morning Rodney might not remember what they'd done or who he was.

John didn't want to think about that, and he sure as hell didn't want to talk about it. So he pushed Rodney's thighs apart and took Rodney's cock in his mouth.

Rodney choked out a groan and thrust up a little, as if he couldn't help himself. "Oh. Oh, John, that's — I can't — I don't —" His words trailed off as John pulled back and then took him deeper.

Ordinarily rendering Rodney McKay incoherent would have been high on John's list of lifetime accomplishments. He hated that some part of his brain was wondering whether Rodney couldn't find the words because the sex was good, or whether Rodney was slipping away.

But whatever was happening to Rodney's mind, Rodney's body was quivering beneath him, gasping. Feeling him, tasting him, hearing his little noises made John almost painfully hard. C'mon, Rodney, he thought. Come for me.

"No, wait," Rodney managed, pushing weakly at John's head. John pulled back, panic starting to set in: was something wrong? Had Rodney changed his mind? But Rodney didn't look like he'd changed his mind. He looked like there was something he wanted.

"Hang on," Rodney said, and squirmed out from under him, hissing slightly as he moved. The sight of his wet cock made John's mouth water.

"I was enjoying that," John objected.

"That makes two of us," Rodney said, but he was moving into a loose cross-legged position.

"So what's the —"

"Here," Rodney said firmly, pulling on John's arm. "Like this."

What he wanted, apparently, was John almost sitting in his lap, facing him, legs spread around him. John's hip reflexors twinged a little as Rodney yanked him into place. But then Rodney pulled him slightly closer and took both of their cocks in his hand, Rodney's wet dick nestled right up next to his. John gasped, looping his arms around the back of Rodney's neck and bracing his feet on the bed so he could thrust a little.

"You're a genius," John said, and Rodney's expression turned so smug John had to kiss him. The kiss was dirty and hot and John hated to break it, but he had to, because he wanted to look down and see — oh, God, the heads of their cocks pushing out of the top of Rodney's fist. John shuddered and Rodney's hand moved faster. John's orgasm was just about to wash through him when suddenly Rodney groaned and came hot pulses all over both of them. John lost it, coming and crying and shaking as if his body was actually flying apart.

It seemed wrong that Rodney was the one comforting him, gentling him through the shocks. They kissed for a long time, tangled up on the narrow bed, hands stroking everywhere they could easily reach.

And then Rodney got out of bed and started rummaging on the floor for his clothes.

"You could —" John began, meaning to say 'stay here,' but Rodney shook his head.

"It's better if I wake up in my own bed," he said, the ghost of a grimace crossing his face.

John thought of all the reasons why that was true. What if Rodney didn't know him in the morning? What if Rodney felt unsafe, waking up confused in John Sheppard's bed? What if Rodney told someone he'd woken up in John's quarters, and word got back to the IOA or the military that John was fucking around with men — worse: that he was fucking around with someone whose mental faculties weren't entirely intact?

But all he said was, "Right. You want me to walk you back?"

Rodney's shoulders drooped. "Yeah," he admitted. "I think I can find my way there, but if I'm wrong —"

"No problem," John said, hating himself for asking instead of just getting up and doing it. He yanked his flannel pants back on, and his t-shirt. He wanted to punch the wall. "I'm gonna take you home."

Two days after their trip to the shrine Jennifer released Rodney from the infirmary. John knew this because he'd pinched Rodney's modified lifesigns detector, which meant he could see that the dot moving towards his quarters was labeled "R. McKay." He ignored the butterflies in his stomach.

Just before Rodney got around to knocking, John stood up and waved the door open.

"Oh," Rodney said, surprised. "How'd you know I was here?"

John's heart felt like his chest had gotten too tight.

"Swiped this," he said, holding up the detector.

"Ah," Rodney said. For a second they just stood there. "Can I come in?"

As John stepped aside to let Rodney in, his quarters felt suddenly too small to hold them both.

"It's...good to have you back," John said.

"I never actually went anywhere," Rodney pointed out.

"Right," John agreed. "Sorry. I guess you're probably hearing that a lot."

"Bizarrely, yes."

John ducked his head and shrugged a little. "You kinda...weren't all here."

"Yes, yes, I realize that," Rodney said, waving a hand dismissively. "I just — I'm always surprised that people miss me. When...these things...happen."

Okay, John definitely wasn't getting enough air. "Don't be a moron."

He was horrified with himself as soon as the words left his mouth — could there be anything less appropriate to say to a guy who'd just been through what Rodney had? — but Rodney cracked up, sitting down on the edge of his bed and laughing helplessly. John sat down next to him, relieved. "I didn't actually mean that the way it came out."

"Obviously," Rodney managed, still short on breath. By the time he pulled himself together, John didn't feel claustrophobic anymore.

"So how're you feeling?" It was lame, but better than nothing. Right?

"Glad that's over with."

"You and me both, buddy," John said fervently.

"Look, John, I —" Rodney closed his mouth.

Uh-oh. Here it came. John tried not to look like he was preparing to have his heart ripped out.

"Look, I'm assuming that — I mean, if you're — if you were angry with me, you'd tell me, right?"

What? "That came out of left field," John said. It hadn't occurred to him that Rodney might think he was pissed off.

"I know." Rodney looked kind of anguished now. "And I'm sorry. I can't even begin to count the number of ways in which it was inappropriate. John, I'm sorry — I can't apologize for," he gestured ineffectively, "anything that happened, but if I've done anything to jeopardize this friendship, I hope you know I never intended to —"

Suddenly the math of this bizarre conversation became clear. "Hang on, wait a sec," John said, and Rodney shut up. "Are you...apologizing?"

"I — yes?"

"No," John said, the lightness in his heart starting to bubble up like champagne.

"What? What d'you mean, 'no'?"

"No, you don't get to apologize." John scooted a little bit closer.

Rodney's expression was somewhere between confused and hopeful. It made John laugh.

"Okay, what the hell is so funny —"

To his credit, Rodney got with the program the second John kissed him. John shifted so they were almost facing each other, their knees touching. He slid his hands around to cradle Rodney's head, and they kissed for a long time.

When they broke, Rodney's mouth was wet and he had to blink a few times to clear the gratifyingly glazed look out of his eyes. "So my apology's not accepted," Rodney said, mouth quirking into a half-smile.

"Nope," John confirmed, and leaned back on his hands and grinned.

"Okay then," Rodney said. There was a pause. "So, want to grab a beer? I'm reliably told I drink it."

"Sometimes," John agreed, standing up and opening the mini-fridge.

"You said 'a lot'!"

"Yeah, well, I was yanking your chain." John stood and tossed Rodney a cold bottle. It felt strange to be so happy.

"Cmon," Rodney said, jerking his head toward the door. "Let's hit the pier."

(Title borrowed from E.D.'s poem 1531:)

Above Oblivion's Tide there is a Pier
And an effaceless "Few" are lifted there —
Nay — lift themselves — Fame has no Arms —
And but one smile — that meagres Balms —

The End