Think of Atlantis

by Kass


I used to sing madrigals in college, so naturally the first thing that came to my mind when the "ways to die" challenge went live at sga_flashfic was the truism that in madrigal music, "death" means -- well, you'll see.

Many thanks to Lamardeuse and Sihaya Black for the beta!

"I think we can reach some accomodation." The leader of the Thull smiled broadly, flashing his too-perfect teeth.

A foot nudged Rodney's ankle, meaningfully. When he glanced at Sheppard, he saw the same bland mask Sheppard had worn all day, but behind it there was relief in his eyes. Ronon's, too. Of the four of them, really only Teyla was well-suited to long negotiations.

Three times over the course of the day they'd had to sequester themselves and radio back to Sam for confirmation of how far they could push and what they could offer in return. After the second break, Sam had suggested maybe arguing with the Thull wasn't worth their while.

But -- much as it pained him to make nice with the natives -- Rodney had wanted to stay at the table, and had said so in no uncertain terms. These people had an extra ZPM -- maybe more than one, he wasn't sure -- and Rodney wanted it for Atlantis so badly he could almost taste it. Now the pay-off was near. Not a moment too soon.

"In return for the medical assistance and the technology you have promised, the module will be yours."

Yes! Rodney thought, giddily, fighting the temptation to pump his fist in the air.

Katak continued, "Of course, we must seal our negotiations after the time-honored manner of my people."

"Naturally," Teyla said smoothly.

Rodney had a bad feeling about that, though he couldn't have said why.

"We will gather in the Hall of Assembly," Katak said. The leader of your party -- that is you, Colonel Sheppard, is it not?"

As Sheppard nodded, the prickly feeling of unease began to crawl up the back of Rodney's neck.

"You must be brought to the point of death and beyond, at the hands of one of our party." This time Katak's smile was almost a leer. "I will do the honors."

The Thull delegation murmured amongst themselves, approvingly, and Rodney felt his stomach dropping away as though he were on a roller-coaster.

"What?" The word burst out of him. He looked from Ronon to Teyla, uncomprehending. Why weren't they up in arms? What the hell was the matter with everyone? "Are you people insane?" Adrenaline coursed through him as he stood, reaching for the gun he didn't ordinarily use. "Sheppard's -- " He flailed for a moment. "--our team-mate and our friend, he's not expendable, you'll hurt him over my dead body!"

"Rodney!" Teyla hissed, looking appalled. Rodney froze.

"May we...have a moment?" she asked Katak, all sweetness and light, and he nodded graciously.

Teyla grabbed Rodney by the arm and dragged him into their private discussion room, Ronon and Sheppard following behind. "What is the matter with you?" Her voice was quiet and angry.

"I might ask you the same question!" Rodney tried to maintain his righteous indignation, though it was beginning to bleed away in the face of the realization that something here was obviously not as it seemed.

"They do not mean to hurt Colonel Sheppard," Teyla said.

Rodney just stared.

"They don't mean death," Ronon chimed in. "Not, death," and his hand sketched a quick slashing motion, as though cutting a throat.

"I don't --"

"It's a...euphemism," Teyla said, the exasperation in her tone beginning to reveal laughter behind it.

"Orgasm, McKay," Sheppard bit out, sounding incredibly annoyed.

"Oh my God," Rodney said, and had to sit down.

"It's not that big a deal." Sheppard was standing at the window, looking out at the plains.

Which meant he didn't see Rodney gaping at him. Teyla and Ronon had excused themselves, leaving Rodney and John in the anteroom. "Excuse me?"

Sheppard's posture was ramrod-straight, as though he were standing at attention.

"That Neanderthal is going to molest you in front of the Assembly, whatever that is, and that's not a big deal?" The thought of Katak's big meaty hands on Sheppard's -- on Sheppard -- filled Rodney with fury, and outrage, and yeah, more than a little jealousy, not that he was thinking about that. At all.

Sheppard whirled around. "A ZPM. Fully-charged. I don't need to tell you what we could do with that."

"Of course not," Rodney said. "That's not the --"

"So it's not a big deal. I'll grit my teeth and get through it, and we'll go home with a brand-new ZPM. Don't tell me you wouldn't do the same thing if you were in my shoes."

"I --" Rodney closed his mouth. It didn't matter what he would do; nobody was exactly lining up to ask him to do it anyway.

The image of Sheppard getting jerked off in front of a crowd of -- what, dozens? hundreds? (Rodney couldn't decide which was more appalling, not to mention more exquisite fantasy material) -- made Rodney's body flush with heat. God help him, he wanted to see that, badly.

Except that at the same time, he desperately didn't want to see. Because the fact that some perfumed hulking alien was going to get to touch Sheppard without even knowing who he had in his hands, while Rodney never would, was proof of a fundamentally unjust universe, frankly. Not that he could say any of that to Sheppard. And wasn't he supposed to be defending his team-mate's sovereign right to bodily integrity, instead of moping over wanting to touch Sheppard himself?

Great; now he felt like a complete jerk. "Are you really okay with this?" His voice came out slightly rusty.

"I'll just lie back and think of Atlantis." Sheppard's smile was diffident, though there was something in his eyes Rodney couldn't place.

"Very funny," Rodney muttered, and turned away.

The Hall of Assembly wasn't that impressive. It didn't hold a candle to any of the gathering spaces in Atlantis, Rodney thought scornfully. Though the crowds of people packing the rows of chairs were kind of overwhelming. A line of men in full military regalia led the Lanteans to seats of honor, front row, opposite Katak and three of his cronies, right in front of the raised dais with the big the middle of the circular stage.

Sheppard had the aisle seat; beside him, Teyla; then Rodney; then Ronon. Rodney stared resolutely forward.

Katak stepped onto the dais and gave a speech about the fortuitous coming-together of their two peoples, which Rodney did his best to ignore.

Then twelve boys in white robes processed to the front of the room and offered a song in a language Rodney didn't know. The scale sounded strikingly similar to the standard Western Terran musical mode in which Rodney had once felt at-home.

"Something about a dakah," Ronon whispered. "It's a kind of bird. It sings as it -- dies."

"It's a song about a bird?!" Rodney's whisper was too loud; Teyla elbowed him and he turned back to watch the boys' choir again.

"How strange that the dakah dies singing, and I die happy," Ronon translated, in his right ear. The low rumble made Rodney shiver. "In death I feel no pain. I could die a thousand times a day and be content."

"Ow," Rodney muttered, and Ronon choked back a laugh.

"Please," Teyla whispered, glaring at them.

"Sorry," Ronon muttered, not looking sorry at all. It made Rodney feel better, for a split second, as the choir filed away.

And then a man in purple robes led Sheppard up onto the dais, and tugged the draped cloth away to reveal a command chair.

Not a command chair, Rodney corrected himself instantly; this was made of wood, inlaid with what looked like precious stones. These people didn't have much Ancient technology, which was part of why the Lanteans' offers of medical aid had been so persuasive. But clearly they'd had a command chair once upon a time, because this was an exact replica, made of rich hardwoods. It was surprisingly beautiful, actually.

"O-kay," Sheppard said, looking at the chair. "You want me to --"

"Sit," Katak said, and with a wave he banished purple robe guy back to the aisle.

"I don't need to -- slip into anything a little more comfortable?" Sheppard asked, aiming for nonchalant as he sat down and leaned back into the chair.

"Your garments are...unfamiliar to me," Katak said. Which was obvious; clothing on this planet didn't seem to have evolved much past homespun cloth and leather jerkins. "But I trust you can assist." He gestured toward Sheppard's crotch.

ZPM, ZPM, ZPM, Rodney thought, desperately, pinned between the fierce desire to watch and the horrifying certainty that the respectful thing to do was to avert his eyes. But he couldn't, or didn't, and he saw Sheppard reach down and unfasten his pants, unbuttoning and unzipping and tugging his cock out through the flap in his boxer briefs.

Katak knelt, the bulk of his body blocking Sheppard's dick from view. Which was probably a mercy, and Rodney thought, absurdly, that he could tell Sheppard later that no one had really seen anything because Katak had been in the way.

Though the movements of Katak's arm rippled his shoulder and back visibly. He was going at his task with blunt enthusiasm. Somehow not seeing Sheppard's dick wasn't really making the whole thing any less hot. In fact, that just made it more tantalizing.

It was bad enough that they were all watching this; he wasn't supposed to be relishing it. But he couldn't seem to help himself. Having a ringside seat made matters worse. It would be so easy to leap out of his seat, to push Katak aside and take his place...

Sheppard's head pressed back against the top of the chair. His eyes were closed, though Rodney wasn't sure whether that made this whole scene feel like less of a violation or more of one. His hands rested on the arms, as though he were preparing to launch drones or to fly.

Watching this was making Rodney uncomfortably hard. Though the room was packed with people, it was unnaturally quiet, as though everyone there were watching just as avidly as Rodney was. He didn't dare glance at Teyla or Ronon anymore, just kept his eyes forward, watching Sheppard's ordeal.

And then Katak bent his head, in the unmistakeable posture of a man giving a blowjob, and Sheppard's whole body tensed. His legs opened just a hair wider, as far as the chair would let them go.

Rodney's erection pressed painfully against the front of his trousers. He clutched at the arms of his chair as though they were the only thing holding him up.

Katak's head bobbed slowly. He was drawing this out, exercising control. The bastard was enjoying torturing Sheppard with his mouth.

Sheppard's own mouth was pressed shut, as though he were holding back noises. Noises which Rodney's imagination immediately supplied: gasps, and groans, and imprecations, and pleading. Oh, God. His own cock ached.

The minute motions of Sheppard's hips were mesmerizing. Little abortive jerks, like he wanted to thrust up but wasn't letting himself do it. It took all of Rodney's considerable willpower to refrain from reaching down and grasping himself, working himself to the hard-and-fast conclusion for which his body was screaming.

And then Sheppard's hips stuttered forward, his body surging up, as he came in Katak's mouth.

It was possible Rodney might have whimpered, but no one in the room could have heard it over the roar of Thull applause.

"And now, we feast!"

Katak strode down from the dais, his smile smug. Rodney fought the momentary temptation to bash him in the face.

The crowds filed out after him, abuzz with conversation. Sheppard stepped down from the dais, and Rodney felt suddenly awash with panic. Looking at Sheppard's groin was obviously inappropriate, but Rodney couldn't quite look him in the face, either. So he turned to Teyla. "Do we really have to stick around for this?"

"I think the Thull would be quite distressed if we departed before the feasting."

"Probably want us to stay the night," Ronon offered.

Rodney's head whipped around. Too much dismay was probably showing on his face, but he couldn't really help that. "What? Why?"

Ronon shrugged. "Customary on Sateda, after a formal cementing of an alliance like this."

"Your people cemented alliances like --"

"We did it without sex, but the basic theory's the same." Ronon looked like he was trying to hide a smile.

"C'mon, McKay," Sheppard said, clapping him on the shoulder. Rodney's erection, temporarily in abyeance, made itself known again and he bit back what would have been a very embarrassing noise. "Hard part's over. Let's eat." He turned toward the exit, where the throng was slowly pushing its way out the big double doors.

"I hate you all," Rodney muttered, too quietly for anyone to hear above the noise of the excited crowd, and followed Teyla and Ronon and Sheppard toward the feast.

The plates of food, when they came, looked spectacular. Some kind of grilled meat that looked rich and dense like venison, and a cascade of roasted vegetables, and a pile of grain that was basically quinoa.

Rodney's stomach growled. It had been a long day; he'd been -- distracted -- by the Assembly, but he was probably nearing hypoglycemia. Maybe that explained the intensity of his reaction to Sheppard's little display: anyone could feel faint when he was low on blood sugar, right?

Before he could dig in, Sheppard reached over and speared one of the carrot-things on Rodney's plate.


He popped it into his mouth, chewed and swallowed, and then shrugged. "'S good."

"What, have you been studying at the Ronon Dex school of table manners?" It was weak, but it was the best Rodney could do; he was mesmerized by the sight of John swallowing, the way Sheppard licked his lips.

"I wanted to make sure it was safe," Sheppard said, sounding indignant. "Hello? Citrus allergy?"

"Oh, I'm -- sorry," Rodney said. "I didn't --"

Sheppard grinned. "Nah, I'm just messing with you." His smile was almost goofy. God: he was relaxed, loose-limbed in a way Rodney wasn't sure he'd seen before.

"Great," Rodney muttered, and dug in.

If this was what getting laid did for Sheppard, Rodney...well, wanted to see a lot more of it. Wanted to be the cause of a lot more of it, obviously, who was he kidding? Hell, Sheppard hadn't seemed that distressed about getting a blowjob from a man; maybe, just maybe --

Rodney looked up, almost ready to take the leap of flirting with him, but by then Sheppard was laughing at something Teyla had said, and the warmth of the smile he directed at her made Rodney feel even worse. What was he thinking? Hitting on Sheppard was a one-way gate to disaster.

And yet his dick was still wildly interested. Still craving the completion he hadn't allowed himself to reach during the Assembly with Sheppard on display.

This was not shaping up to be one of the better court banquets of Rodney's life.

Dinner stretched for four courses, ending with a sorbet which was, sure enough, citrusy. Sheppard magnanimously ate all of Rodney's, and Rodney bit his tongue trying not to offer snide commentary. Watching Sheppard eat with such relish was incredibly distracting.

He was saved from the need to come up with anything to say when a bell rang and Katak rose, holding his wineglass high. He went on and on about how the gods were surely rejoicing on high to see their children making treaties with such delightful new trading partners.

When all eyes shifted toward them, Sheppard drawled quietly that he'd been in the spotlight more than enough tonight, thanks, which was exactly the reminder Rodney didn't need. Teyla rose and smoothly delivered a toast in return -- a useful reminder of the diplomatic training she must have had on Athos.

By the time the toasts were through it was late, and their hosts were a little drunk, and Katak informed them that quarters had been prepared for them and that the ZPM would be forthcoming on the morrow. Not exactly what Rodney wanted to hear, but he didn't have a lot of choice in the matter, did he?

He entertained a brief burst of hope that maybe they'd have private rooms and he could jerk off as soon as he reached his, but Litan, their (distressingly nubile) guide, led them down a curving torch-lit path to a pair of round cottages. Of course. Two rooms, not four. Because the universe hated him.

Ronon and Teyla went straight for the cottage on the left -- and was it Rodney's imagination, or were they exchanging meaningful glances? His brain helpfully supplied him with a mental image of what they were likely to spend the remainder of the evening doing, and his traitorous dick leapt at that thought, too.

"C'mon," Rodney said, hoping he was coming off as brusque instead of desperate, and pushed through the door into the cottage on the right. Their cottage. Which, predictably, had only one bed in it.

"We wish you a pleasant sleep," Litan called from the doorway.

"Thanks," Sheppard said. "See you." And closed the door firmly in the guy's face.

Rodney sat down on the edge of the bed -- which was honestly more than large enough for the two of them, and it wasn't like they hadn't bunked down in a tent together before, but this felt way too much like a honeymoon suite for Rodney's fevered comfort -- and picked at his bootlaces in a desultory way. "I hate this planet," he said.

"It's not so bad," Sheppard said, sitting on the opposite side of the bed and doing the same.

"I beg to differ," Rodney said, haughtily, toeing off his first boot and starting on the second.

Sheppard, who was faster at this than he was (or did he keep his laces half-undone? Rodney was never sure), kicked off both boots and turned to face Rodney, sitting on the bed. "What's your problem, McKay?"

"My problem?"

"You've been acting like something crawled up your butt and died."

"I hate long negotiations," Rodney said, his voice rising, because if Sheppard figured him out now he was screwed.

"Nobody likes long negotiations, but you're the one who insisted on sticking around --"

"Yes, right, blame it all on me, because obviously I had every reason to imagine what kind of ridiculous practices this culture --"

Sheppard cut back in. "And I'm the one who got groped in front of a cast of thousands, and I'm fine with it, so what's your problem?"

The words burst out of him without conscious intent. "My problem is, that asshole got to touch you and I'm never going to get that lucky, and that was the hottest thing I've ever seen in my life, and believe me, Colonel, I feel like a complete asshole for the fact that I enjoyed that little display, and oh my God I just admitted that out loud, I'd like to crawl into a hole and die now please."

There was a split second of silence that seemed to last forever. Then Sheppard quirked a grin. "Die," he repeated.

"Oh my God, you're twelve." It almost made Rodney feel better.

Until Sheppard opened his mouth, then closed it again, which was proof that he didn't know what to say.

Rodney stared numbly down at his hands. He couldn't believe he'd just said all of that. To Sheppard. And he hadn't even been drinking, he couldn't blame this on the wine or the spirits or anything other than the fact that he wanted Sheppard badly and always had

"Couple things you should know," Sheppard said, finally, and he didn't sound furious, but Rodney's heart was still in his throat.

"I kind of enjoyed the, uh, Assembly too." Rodney looked up at that, and Sheppard's face was pink, though nowhere near as red as Rodney could feel his own had become. "So stop kicking yourself for that."

"You -- closed your eyes and thought of Atlantis?" Rodney tried, aiming for banter he wasn't quite up to sustaining.

"Yes, Rodney," Sheppard said, looking him right in the eye. "I did."

Sheppard's stare was intent, and and for an instant Rodney thought there was something like hunger in it. But that couldn't -- that wasn't --

"And you could get a lot luckier than he did," Sheppard said, quietly, and this was what 'smoldering' meant, wasn't it? "If you'd ever let me know you were interested."

Rodney swallowed hard, desire slamming into his body like the proverbial freight train, waking nerve endings he didn't usually remember that he had. "I didn't know you were --" How to end that sentence? "Into men," he finished, lamely.

"I don't exactly advertise," Sheppard said, his voice dry. "Air Force kind of frowns on that."

The image made Rodney chuckle. "What: 'unbelievably attractive Lieutenant Colonel seeks --'"

"'Supergenius astrophysicist who apparently doesn't see what's right in front of his eyes'?"

That sounded a lot more personal than 'you could get lucky.' Sheppard wasn't just open to the occasional liaison; Sheppard wanted him. It was like learning that there really had been an Atlantis, and not only that, he was going to get to go there himself.

"Oh," Rodney said, straightening his shoulders, feeling dizzied with sudden possibility.

"Yeah," John agreed. And grinned.

John's hand on his cock was every bit as good as Rodney had imagined. When Rodney thrust up shamelessly John kissed him, slow and intense, a counterpoint to his sure grip.

"I'm not -- oh, God -- going to last." Rodney was already breathing hard, little shocks of pleasure coursing through his body.

"Good," John murmured, and lightly bit his ear.

Every bit of Rodney's awareness was focused on his cock, which felt hot and huge, the center of his universe wrapped in John Sheppard's hand.

"You've been on the verge all day." John's voice was low, urging him on, and Rodney thrust up, his body pleading. "You liked watching me."

"I wanted," Rodney managed, and John's hand tensed in just the right way, and that was it, he was gone, finally, coming so long and hard it almost hurt.

John was flopped on top of him, a comfortable weight, and it wasn't hard to shift until they were kissing again, long delicious kisses that felt like promises. After a while Rodney pushed him over onto his back and settled himself between John's spread legs, the hard length of his cock pressing into Rodney's belly.

Which reminded Rodney -- not that he'd forgotten, exactly, he'd just gotten distracted -- of what he'd been wanting, so sharply, a few hours and a lifetime before.

"You have to understand," Rodney said, pulling back and reaching down to push John's underwear out of the way, "how badly I wanted to do this today," and before John could make some quip or ask him to specify what he meant in words he took John's cock reverently into his mouth.

"Fuck," John groaned, jerking up just a little bit under Rodney's hands and mouth.

The last time Rodney had done this was years ago and galaxies away, and he hadn't remembered liking it anywhere near this much. Of course, his last blowjob hadn't followed three years of longing masquerading as foreplay, either.

Rodney pulled back to lick his way back up John's dick and then sucked it into his mouth again, wanting to be better at this than Katak, to make John come in a way that would drive Katak out of his mind for good.

John was just barely moving, twitching up into his mouth, and in a flash Rodney remembered the sight of John in the carved wooden chair, keeping himself still. "You don't have to hold back," he said, roughly. John's gasp, and his flushed face, made Rodney feel reckless. "My mouth was made for this," he said, sucking just the head of John's cock, and with a whimper John thrust up, hard, driving into Rodney's mouth.

And Rodney let him, and John choked out his name.

"Up and at 'em, McKay." John's voice was way too chipper.

Rodney rolled over and buried his face in his pillow. "Mmph."

"ZPM," John murmured in his ear, and then licked it.

"Eww!" Startled, Rodney rolled over and jerked awake -- in the round Thull cottage, sheets kicked down to his waist, with a fully-dressed John Sheppard leaning over him from the edge of the bed.

"Busy day ahead," John said, looking both satisfied and amused.

"Yes, right," Rodney said. "One hard-won ZPM to take home."

John snickered.

"I can't believe you," Rodney said, trying to sound annoyed but failing. The way John was looking at him -- like Rodney was the prize, and John wanted nothing more than put his hands to work cataloguing every inch of Rodney's body -- short-circuited his capacity for intelligent thought.

"Rise and shine," John said, yanking the sheet away with a flourish.

"That's just mean," Rodney groused, but he pushed John out of the way and started hunting for his clothes, which had somehow gotten scattered.

"You know what the real problem is," John said, idly, as Rodney finished filling his daypack.

Problem? The tight fist of anxiety took an experimental grip on Rodney's heart as he shook his head, wordless.

"I think I have a command chair fetish now." John's voice was perfectly level, though there was a wicked smile glinting in his eyes.

Relieved, Rodney let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Oh, is that all," he said breezily, and pushed his way past John out the door. Teyla and Ronon were already outside, sitting cross-legged on the grass. "I think we can work with that," Rodney said, and gestured imperiously. "C'mon. Let's go home."


Note: the song the boys' choir sings is an abbreviation of an actual Earth madrigal by Arcadelt, which you can find here.

The End