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The buttons on John's new shirt are small. He feels Rodney lose his grip once, and again, and when Rodney's hands come to rest on his chest, he can feel that they're shaking.
Coffee, and chocolate, and real liquor that isn't Athosian homebrew. Replacements for broken equipment and used-up medical supplies, clothes that aren't worn thin at the seams. Cheese. Chips. CDs. They finally got to unload the Daedalus today, and it was like Christmas morning.
Rodney has a new shirt, too, Hawaiian and utterly tasteless, but he's wearing it open over his new T-shirt, and it's easy for John to push it off his shoulders. "Yeah, yeah," Rodney says, and backs up enough to pull off the T-shirt, too. John unbuttons his own shirt, and Rodney does what he always does: slides his jittery hand upward through John's chest hair. He makes the same shocked, aroused noise he's been making for months, and gives John another deep, urgent, coffee-flavored kiss.
Rodney never messed around with guys before Atlantis. John has no idea what possessed him to start doing it now.
Rodney's pants are stiff, and they smell like dye when John presses his face in to nuzzle at Rodney's cock. Even the boxers underneath are new. John pushes them off, mouths his way up Rodney's cock, and takes it all the way down. He doesn't think anybody else has ever done that for Rodney. He'll take any advantage he can get.
There were letters on the Daedalus, too. Impatient backslanting writing for Elizabeth, a niece or nephew's grade-school scrawl for Beckett. But Rodney got a pile of business envelopes. Oxford. Princeton. Ile-de-France.
This thing they have, this thing they're keeping a secret even from themselves -- John doesn't know if it's going to be enough to keep Rodney here, now that he can leave if he wants to. Now that he's been reminded of all the things he's giving up.
"Wait," Rodney says, and John releases his cock instantly, stands up and kisses his bitter mouth. Rodney pushes at John's new pants, and John sheds them, and the two of them lie down on Rodney's narrow unmade bed, and John kisses him slow and wet and dirty, just the way he likes it. The envelopes slither off the foot of the bed and scatter on the floor.
John didn't get any mail. Even AOL never managed to track him to Antarctica. There's nobody he wants to hear from anyway. He was happy enough to have new clothes and peanut butter and a new Star Wars movie to watch, and to see what happened to Rodney's face when he got a whiff of French roast.
The smell is almost coming out of Rodney's pores by now. He's probably had a pot and a half of the stuff all by himself. Back on earth there's coffee and television and civilian jobs with no shooting. Back on earth there are women, leggy brainy blondes who would be smooth and yielding under Rodney's hands, who would have all the things Rodney and John have never given each other. Words, promises, whatever. More than this.
John slides down the bed underneath Rodney, biting his nipple just to feel that move he always makes, as if he's trying to get more of it and make it stop at the same time. Rodney rears up, panting, and looks down at John, a long, searching, hungry look, and then he rolls them over, pulls John on top of him, parts his legs around John's hips. Offers what John knows he's never offered anyone before. "John," he says. "Will you?"
There's not much that John's never offered before, but when he's inside, when he's moving in Rodney's heat and Rodney is saying, "Ah!" over and over, he thinks that he can tell Rodney what he wants. He can do that, at least, though they've never asked each other for anything. Rodney has what John needs, and he can take it away, and John will be in just as much danger whether he says it or not. And maybe if he gives Rodney his fear, it will make them even.
"Stay," he says.
"John?" Rodney says muzzily.
"Don't go back with them," John says. "Stay. Stay with me," and when he reaches down to cup Rodney's face, his hand is shaking.
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June 3, 2005