At The End Of The Pier
A Tag to The Shrine
Author's Note: Because everybody should do a tag to The Shrine, an episode made of MAGIC BEANS and PONIES. Thanks to Lim, Resonant, and the ever eagle-eyed and longsuffering Terri.
It's not until a couple of days after Rodney's out of the hospital that John finds himself moving quietly through Atlantis's dim corridors in the middle of the night. He's nuts, he knows he is, but that doesn't stop him; he's got three beers propelling him forward, and tonight's the night, because it's quiet. The floor is cool against his bare feet.
He hesitates only a second outside Rodney's room, hand poised over the chime, because he doesn't want to ring it. Instead, he bites his lip and raps softly on the door with his knuckles. He doesn't hear anything, though Rodney's got to be there, and John stares down at his long, pale feet, hairs like wires on his toes, while he waits for Rodney to get out of bed. He braces one hand on the door. Come on, Rodney. Come on --
He's just about to knock again when the door slides under his hand, and he jerks back. Rodney's standing there half-asleep in his rumpled sweats, hair going every which way, but he comes awake when he sees John. "Hey," Rodney says, and backs up to let John come in. The room is dark except for the bedside lamp. The door closes behind them.
"Hey," John says. He shifts awkwardly and says, "Um, so what are you doing?"
It's a stupid question, and he can see Rodney's eye twitch as he clamps down on the cutting reply John deserves. "I, uh...you know," Rodney says instead, vaguely gesturing in the direction of his unmade bad. "Nothing, just-- Why, what's going on?"
"Nothing," John says quickly, because Rodney's shifting into crisis mode. "Nothing's going on. That's why--" and he should have thought this out better, what he was going to say when he got here. "That's why I came," he says and wills Rodney to understand.
But Rodney doesn't get it and John can almost hear his brain mulching the facts; Rodney's trying to be telepathic, to solve this equation when John hasn't given him nearly enough variables. Goddamnit, he should have planned this out better. John fumbles for words: "I just thought..." He gestures between them; he can't say the rest. That we should. While we can. Because...
"Okay," Rodney says, and John's about to groan and say, "No, wait, Rodney, you don't understand," when Rodney's hands land on his biceps. "Okay," Rodney says again, meaningfully, his eyes fixed on John's, and man, he forgot Rodney's a genius.
"Okay," John repeats, swallowing, his voice scraping out his throat. "Good." He can't believe he's gotten this far and he doesn't know what's next. Kissing, probably, so he jerks forward just as Rodney does so that they nearly bang foreheads, and then there's an awkward to-ing and fro-ing before John finally grabs Rodney's chin and presses their mouths together. Rodney's mouth against his is soft and edged with beard bristles. Odd, small muscles unclench in John's back. They've done it now; they can't go back.
The kiss is quick and sort of weird, and when they break apart, Rodney looks helpless and freaked out. John's got to be the strong one, so he skims off his t-shirt and lets it drop to the floor. He's tenting his sweatpants. "Turn the lights off," he says.
Rodney goes to switch off the lamp, and when he comes back, he slides into John's space and kisses him so easily that all John has to do is open his mouth. John hooks his arm around Rodney's neck and lets Rodney grope him through his sweatpants, but when John feels Rodney's tongue on the inside of his lower lip, all his attention comes right back up to his mouth. He cups the back of Rodney's neck and kisses him deep, drowning in it.
He becomes vaguely aware that they're moving, vaguely aware that the back of his thigh has hit Rodney's dresser, that something (a picture frame?) has fallen over with a clatter. He comes back to find himself carding his fingers through Rodney's hair, which is soft and short and fine. Rodney is kissing the edge of John's mouth, his cheek, his chin, and John's playing catch-up: he tries to kiss Rodney's cheek, misses, finds his mouth again.
"Do you," Rodney mutters breathlessly, lips mashed against John's, "still want to--" and John groans and shoves Rodney's hand down into his pants. Rodney gives his cock a long, slow squeeze and shoves him onto the dresser, knocking everything onto the floor with a crash. Rodney shoves his knees apart and pushes between them, kissing him and jerking him off. John groans and fumbles blindly at the drawstring of Rodney's pants.
"John," and Rodney's shoving up shallowly against his palm now that John's got ahold of him, "John, oh God," except that sends a chill up John's spine, that crack in Rodney's voice, because Rodney only sounds like that when he's desperate. Rodney's thumb presses under the lip of his cockhead where he was circumcised, and John shudders hard. Rodney's breath hitches. "John," he says, almost mindlessly, "John--"
Rodney's shoulders are solid and muscular under the curve of John's arm. "Shh," John murmurs, "it's okay, we're okay, everything is--" and then he's driving forward into the slick curl of Rodney's hand. "--good. Fuck, it's so good." He has to close his eyes and grit his teeth against coming. His breath flares out his nose, he's making these stupid noises even as he tries to stop himself, but he can't stop himself. Christ, he needs to--
Rodney's mouth is suddenly wet and warm against his. "Oh, God. Fuck. Fuck. I love you," Rodney whispers, and his cock is slick and leaking on John's wrist. No, you don't, John wants to blurt; you don't, except Rodney's gasping and saying, "I--oh, John, Jesus," and coming all over everything, and it's all John can do to hang on to him, to clutch him in a one-armed hug and hold on--and what the fuck: maybe Rodney does love him. It's possible. Anything's possible in Atlantis.
"It's okay, buddy," John whispers back. "I've got you," and he's clutching Rodney as he shakes. He's trying to keep his own breathing steady: Rodney's still gripping his cock, though his movements have become clumsy and uncoordinated. It still feels awesome, though. He eases up on the hug as Rodney comes back to himself, then clumsily pets Rodney's head to flatten his unkempt hair, which springs right back up again. John's smile is knocked off by the sudden, toe-curling pleasure of Rodney's tightening hand.
"You--I'll do this for you," Rodney says, in his queer, serious way, "or you can fuck me if you want to. I owe you that, I owe you so much more than--" and Christ, yes--Christ, no-- what the hell does that mean, owe? This can't be a question of owing--and that's when he sees how Rodney's looking at him, like he invented cold fusion or ice cream or both, and he knows then, deep in his bones, that Rodney's telling the truth: Rodney does love him. It puts a panicky flutter into his chest, but at least Rodney's put a name to this odd thing between them.
"I--don't know," John says; he hadn't got much beyond the idea that he and Rodney ought to do something, that they should take advantage of this moment of calm between yesterday's disaster and tomorrow's calamity. "What," John manages, because Rodney's squeezing his cock long and slow and twisting his wrist a little at the top, which is so good it keeps making his eyes close, "what do you--?"
Rodney leans in for a shaky, excited kiss and mutters: "I want you to fuck me, don't be stupid," and adds, irritably: "You know, I don't make this offer to just anybody." John bursts out laughing against his mouth. "What?" Rodney demands, shoving at his shoulder to push him away. "I'm serious! I'm offering you a rare, if not unique, oppor-" and John leans back on one palm and interrupts, "Do you want to blow me? Why don't you blow me?" He's said it half to see what kind of reaction it gets, because Rodney's so easy like that, but he isn't prepared for the way Rodney's mouth goes slack, the way his eyes drop down to John's cock, flushed and hard in his hand. John's suddenly this close to coming, so he fumbles to give himself a short, painfully-hard squeeze, his fingers tangling with Rodney's. He's gasping and gasping.
"What are you--I'll do it," Rodney says, low and urgent. "I want to, let me--" and he blinks back shock as John surges forward and grabs him and hustles him across the dimly-lit room to the bed, dragging him by the arm, skin rasping against skin.
"I've changed my--I want to fuck you," John blurts, and then he's pulling Rodney's t-shirt up over his pale, rounded chest. Their bodies couldn't be more dissimilar: Rodney's white and smooth where he's tanned and hairy, and John's mouth goes dry when Rodney's nipples harden under his fingertips. Rodney gets with the program and tries to do a billion things all in a rush: shoving John's pants down, rummaging through the bedside table, clawing at the thin layer of fat above John's hips which just might someday grow up to be love handles, pulling him close for a kiss. Rodney presses a foil packet into John's hand and whispers, "Here. Come on. Use this," and "Fuck, fuck, hurry."
Rodney lies back on the narrow bed, and John carefully kneels between his legs. Then Rodney squirms and says, "No, wait. Let me turn over, it's easier," and scrambles onto his hands and knees. John looks at the freckled expanse of his back, pale in Atlantis's double moonlight. His hands shake a little as he tears open the packet and rolls the condom on, and then he can't resist putting his hands on Rodney's skin. He slides his palms up Rodney's back, dragging his thumbs along Rodney's spine, and then kneads the tense muscles between his neck and shoulder. Rodney groans, dropping his head and raising his ass, his knees spreading wider. John starts breathing fast and shallow: now, it's got to be now. He reaches for the lube, flicks the cap up, and preps Rodney fast and dirty, holding him open with one hand and pushing lube into him with his fingers.
John lines up and pushes, moving slowly, working his cock in--Christ, Rodney's tight. A fine sheen of sweat has broken out across Rodney's skin, but he's groaning and pushing back steadily. John's halfway in when he suddenly stops, and gasps, "This isn't--you've done this before, right?" and it takes Rodney a couple of moments of desperate sucking for air before he's got enough breath to gasp, "Yes, you idiot; I'm not completely inexp-"
This is how you make Rodney McKay shut up. John slides in, then wraps his arms around Rodney's chest and kisses him between his sweat-slick shoulder blades while they both adjust to it: John inside him. Rodney is breathing hard, open-mouthed, thigh muscles jittering where they're pressed against John's.
"Okay," John says finally, breathlessly. "I'm going to fuck you--" and his voice catches when Rodney flexes around him, and the world goes momentarily white, "--but I don't know how, how long I can--" but he's already fucking Rodney, pulling out and sliding in, and Christ, this is not going to last. He lets his body take over, tilts his hips until the angle is perfect and then just lets go: fucking hard, steadily, bracing one hand on the bed. "Good," Rodney says incoherently. "Good, oh, John, come on--" and John snaps his hips even harder and gasps, "Jesus, take it; I want you to feel it," because he's not supposed to be fucking Rodney--Rodney's his friend, his teammate, absolutely crucial to Atlantis--but since he is, he wants to fuck him into next week.
He holds back until Rodney's convulsing beneath him, and then he comes, jerking like he's been shot. His hand skids out from under him and he crashes, hard, on Rodney's broad, sweat-damp back. He rolls off, mostly, half his limbs draped across Rodney, and manages to get the condom tied off.
Rodney, face down in the pillow, mumbles, "Awesome," or something that sounds like that. John grins against his shoulder. He's sated, comfortable, and he's halfway to dozing off when he hears Rodney say, so quietly John's not even sure he wants it to be heard, "Can I ask why?" John opens his eyes and sees blue eyes looking frankly back at him. "I mean, it was the pier, of course," Rodney says, immediately answering his own question, "and me nearly dying, and what's a little brain surgery among friends? But that's not..." Rodney frowns, shakes his head. "That's the occasion, the provocation, not..."
"Not the explanation," John finishes for him.
"Right." Rodney smirks approvingly, then lets out a yawn as his eyes close. "Not that I... I mean, it's not a deal breaker or anything. I'd like to know--I always like to know things--but I don't need to. You're here. It's enough for me that you're here," and his mouth crooks as he adds, "No one will ever believe I said that."
"No," John agrees. "No, they won't." He watches Rodney for a while as Rodney drifts in and out of consciousness, but that little smile never falls off his face. And then, the next time Rodney seems close to the surface, John presses close and whispers, "Rodney?" and Rodney hums contentedly and stirs awake.
"I want to tell you something," John says. "...stupid," he adds, a moment later, because he fears that it is stupid. Most true things sound stupid, he thinks. It's why everyone lies.
"I'm sure it isn't-- Okay," Rodney says.
John's throat tightens and he swallows around it. Now he can't say it. Now it really does sound stupid. He shifts a little, tucking his arm up under his head as a pillow, so that he can stare up at Rodney's ceiling. Not Rodney. Still, Rodney's warm all against his side.
"I just, sometimes I think that if you were in Afghanistan with me, everything would have been different." His jaw hurts, just below his left ear. There's a pain in his right temple, like a hole. A weird pressure is building up in his head. He doesn't like to talk about it.
It's silent for a moment, and then Rodney coughs. "Well," he says, sounding uncertain and unRodneyish, "professionally speaking, I'd have to agree with you. In a world where I ended up in Afghanistan, things certainly would have been different. Possibly we would have had to have lost the Second World War, almost certainly the Cold War--" and this is just so surreal that John turns to stare at him. "I'm sorry I wasn't there," Rodney says, and then does the hugest, most theatrical blink, and says, "Wow, listen to me."
"Yeah, I know. It's crazy talk," John agrees.
"But the thing is, I maybe even mean it. I mean, it would suck," Rodney says, weighing it like it's an actual job offer. "I would suck, because--I mean, sand? I don't do well with sand, and it wreaks havoc on machinery, not to mention how it gets in your eyes, your clothes, all your personal crev-" Rodney abruptly abandons this train of thought and says: "But I would go if you were there. If you needed me," and of course this is an actual offer; of course it is. The shock of this must show on his face, because Rodney's saying, "...what use I'd be, but-- Oh. Oh. That was my explanation, wasn't it?"
"Yeah," John says, and he closes his eyes when Rodney folds him into his arms.