by Kass


Set during the S4 finale, "The Last Man."

Many thanks to Sihaya Black for the beta!

When John opens his eyes he's in a room he feels he ought to recognize. It's Atlantis, obviously, all familiar tile and burnished metal, and he can feel the city's comforting subconscious hum. He's sitting on a long, low rectangular couch (or maybe it's a bed; the Ancients didn't seem to distinguish between the two) set against the wall, which he's leaning against, propped up on a couple of bolsters.

He can't remember how long he's been here, but for some reason the gap in his memory doesn't bother him. Outside the long windows the sun is sparkling on the sea. It's soothing.

Suddenly Rodney materializes in front of him -- the Rodney who's grown old without him; hologram Rodney -- and memory washes back over him. Rodney's voice echoes in his mind: I wish some of these stories had happier endings.

He's in stasis. He's been out cold. Until Rodney showed up.

He wasn't supposed to see this Rodney again.

"Shit," John says, jumping to his feet -- as if he could do anything about whatever's obviously gone wrong from in here. "What's the matter?"

Rodney blinks at him. "The matter? Nothing."

"Then what are you doing here?" It comes out harsher than John intended, but his heart started racing when he thought something was wrong and it hasn't stopped yet. He's more than a little tense. It's been kind of a shitty day.

"I thought you might want company!" Rodney looks faintly embarrassed, as though he's realizing, as he talks, how ridiculous that sounds. "I didn't want you to be...lonely."

"Lonely?!" John sputters. "I was sleeping!"

"Not exactly," Rodney points out. "This form of stasis isn't really sleep, per se; it's more analagous to the kind of cryogenesis we used to read about in science fiction, where the body's essential systems --"

"Rodney," John grits out, and Rodney shuts up.

"Fine," Rodney says, after an uncomfortable second. "I'll just be on my way, then. Pleasant dreams, Colonel."

And that doesn't feel right, at all.

"Wait," John says, and Rodney pauses.

"You don't have to go," John says lamely. Rodney just looks at him, one hand on his hip and head tilted a little, and John feels like he's drowning in love and loss.

"It's good to see you." John's voice is quiet and his hands twitch toward Rodney without volition, even though he knows it's hopeless. "I wish I could touch you."

Rodney snorts a little laugh, at that, and steps closer. "Like this?" And he puts a hand on John's arm.

John stares at it. He can feel Rodney's grip through the fabric of his BDUs, and it occurs to him that maybe he's losing his mind. Maybe all of this -- Teyla killed in some way too horrific to imagine, Ronon sacrificing himself to fight Michael's new breed of Wraith hybrids, everyone he's ever known dead now for forty-eight thousand years -- is more than a man can take.

"But -- I tried to touch you before," he manages. "My hand went right through you. Jesus, you have no idea how freaky that was!"

"We're both virtual, in here," Rodney says. "Or close enough for government work." He's smiling his crooked smile and John's heart just breaks and he reaches out, blindly, not caring that none of this is real.

Rodney's arms are still strong and for a long moment John lets himself just relax into them. Now that he's not ploughing desperately through the sandstorm his losses are starting to catch up with him, and he wants to bury himself in Rodney's arms and never come out. He's felt that way before -- after their first meeting with Kolya, after they lost Elizabeth, after Michael took Teyla -- but this time the feeling's been kicked into hyperdrive.

Though the texture of Rodney's sweater under his hands, and where his chin is pressed into Rodney's shoulder, is all wrong. Not to mention the profound weirdness of Rodney's wrinkled skin. John pulls back and breaks the embrace.

"Could you maybe..." he gestures loosely with one hand, "lose the cardigan?"

Rodney raises an eyebrow, then he beams. "You mean you -- I didn't think you'd want to -- what, are you kidding me, hell yes!" And he yanks the sweater off so emphatically that a button goes flying and rolls under the couch. Bed. Whatever it is.

"Wait a second, hang on," John backpedals. Oh, shit. This really wasn't what he had in mind. "Look, it's not that I don't -- I mean --" He sees hurt in Rodney's expression, and winces.

"What," Rodney says, obviously perturbed.

"I wasn't propositioning you," John explains. "The sweater was just a little too Mr. Rogers, you know?

Okay, the way things felt before? That wasn't awkward; this is awkward.

"I think I'm very good-looking for a man my age," Rodney sniffs.

John wishes fervently that he were still floating in the dreamless sleep of stasis. Because being trapped with a cranky Rodney in some kind of virtual reality is honestly one of his notions of hell.

"You look, um, distinguished," John tries, and Rodney rolls his eyes. "I just --"

John has no idea how he's going to finish that sentence. Fortunately for him, Rodney relents.

"Here, is this better?" Rodney says, and in an eyeblink he looks young again. Like the Rodney John knew (forty-eight thousand years ago) just yesterday. The relief is so strong John almost keels over.

"Oh, thank God," he blurts, and Rodney gives him a look that's at once annoyed and fond before pulling him in with a strong hand and kissing him.

This is familiar ground. Well, except for the part where John's in stasis and Rodney's not real, but John's planning to try to forget about that for a little while, because he really needs this. He walks Rodney back the few steps to the bed and pushes him down. Rodney goes willingly (which is, okay, maybe a sign that this isn't reality, but he's ignoring that) and John holds him down.

The kiss is angry and sloppy and a little bit punishing, because that's how John feels right now, and -- God -- Rodney takes it. Rodney lets him pour out all of his fear and his fury, just swallows it whole. After a while the feeling that he's on the knife-edge of falling apart goes away, and John slows things down, nipping at Rodney's jaw and licking a line up toward his ear.

"Oh," Rodney gasps, and tilts his head obligingly. "Yes. More of that."

Even virtual Rodney is pushy. That amuses John more than it probably should, and he's smiling as he murmurs "be patient" right into the shell of Rodney's ear.

Rodney shivers, just like always. But then he gasps "I've been waiting so fucking long for this --"

The reminder makes John's blood run cold. "No pressure," he bitches, and bites Rodney's ear. Because he really doesn't want to think about Rodney losing him and then losing Keller, spending the rest of his life teaching at a community college and becoming increasingly alone. Maybe yearning for her, or for him, or for this, whacking off in his lonely apartment late at night...

But Rodney's thrusting up now, hard beneath him, and that feels so good it mutes his melancholy. John scrabbles at Rodney's turtleneck, untucks it and yanks it up, and twists one hard tiny nipple between his thumb and finger. Rodney whimpers. His own cock aches in sympathy.

"You sure this won't -- be anything you didn't -- program to prepare for?" John asks, between kisses.

"Oh, please," Rodney scoffs, and pushes him over onto his back. John scoots up onto the bed and Rodney kneels between his legs. "Look, sand infiltrating the lower levels of the city, I didn't anticipate that. But this?" He reaches down and unfastens John's trousers, freeing his cock, and John can't help sighing with relief. "We could have a lot of sex in 700 years of stasis."

John can't help laughing. Trust Rodney to see things from the self-interested angle. Not that he's exactly complaining.

John lifts his hips and squirms partway out of his BDUs, shoving them down his hips, but then Rodney's warm hand is right there -- reaching through the flap in his boxers and curling around his dick -- and John arches up into the touch, not caring how stupid he looks with his trousers scrunched at mid-thigh.

"That's it," Rodney murmurs, looking smug, as if this is the best idea he's ever had. Which, John has to admit, it might be. His hand squeezes and twists and John moans a little, because it just feels too good. Quickly Rodney reaches down and unfastens his own trousers and shoves his other hand inside, his mouth open now and his body arching a little over John's.

"Fuck," John manages, jerking up into Rodney's grip. He's not sure he's ever seen anything hotter than Rodney working both of them at once. And Rodney's looking at him like he's -- hell, everything Rodney ever wanted: blonde and leggy and carrying a fully-charged ZPM. John's hands clench on the bed, looking for covers to grip, but there aren't any.

"You know the best thing about being in stasis?" Rodney gasps, his strokes speeding up.

John grunts a negative, too close to coming for words.

"No refractory period," Rodney bites out, and that's it: John's coming, shuddering under Rodney, and he sees the pleasure flash across Rodney's face as he comes, too.

Rodney collapses onto the bed next to him and John reaches out and grabs whatever part of him is closest -- his upper arm, it turns out. It's reassuringly solid beneath John's hand. After a few minutes Rodney pushes himself up from the mattress and shoves at John until John rolls over onto his side, turning to face the bronze-flecked wall. Rodney curls around him, his arms snug around John's chest, and John drifts into dozing a little.

He wakes up an indeterminate amount of time later. The light in the room has dimmed.

"What if they don't believe me?" He doesn't realize he's going to ask the question until the words are out of his mouth.

"They will," Rodney says. "I will."

John snorts. "Unless you think I'm crazy."

Rodney shrugs against his back. "Just tell me what a genius I am. I always believe that."

"You're a genius," John says softly, and feels Rodney press a kiss to the back of his neck. "And I really want to fuck you. When I'm a little bit less tired."

"We have time," Rodney says, and his voice sounds like he's smiling. "I've got you. You can rest."

The End