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Title: A Thousand Words
Author: ComputerGoddess47
Website: http://goddess47.livejournal.com
Pairing: Mckay/Sheppard
Rating: PG, for language
Spoilers: None
Archive: Area52
Feedback: Please?
Summary: An IOC observer sees more than anyone thinks.


Sunday made me think of Heroes which made me think of Emmett Bregman. Emily James comes from an incomplete SG-1 series I started; the one complete story can be found here. But you don't need that to enjoy this.

~*~

Thanks to the lovely ankhmutes for confirming Dr. Jennifer Keller's name for me and to the nervous but generous Fenchurch for the beta.

~*~
"Coming in hard!" came the voice over the comm.

"Open the gate," Elizabeth Weir commanded. Colonel Sheppard and his team were coming back early and under suspicious circumstances.

Once the shield was lowered, Ronon and Teyla were flying through the gate with their arms shielding their heads. They were soaking wet and had what looked like ice on their clothes. Immediately behind them, John and Rodney came through together, just as wet and icy. John's arms were around Rodney and they landed in a heap on the floor of the gate room.

"You okay?" John asked Rodney softly.

Rodney nodded mutely. Then shook his head. "No," he said thickly. John knew from the tone of the reply that it wasn't pleasant.

John looked up to see Elizabeth already on the communicator and assumed she was called for medical assistance. Knowing help would be coming shortly, he stayed with Rodney. In the relative silence in the gate room, John became aware of an unusual clicking noise. He glanced up and then growled, "Elizabeth!"

Weir became aware of the clicking, and walked over to the woman with the camera. "I think that's enough," Weir said firmly.

"But this is exactly why I'm here," the woman protested. She lowered her camera reluctantly.

"I know," Weir said, diplomatically. "But it's still enough. There will be plenty of chances for you to get your pictures while you're here."

The woman shrugged. "This is Colonel Sheppard and his team?" she asked Weir.

"Yes," Weir said, not elaborating for the moment.

Just then a team came from the infirmary and one of the doctor's stooped down to talk softly with the men still on the floor. John unwound his arms from Rodney, yet kept a hand on him, talking in a soothing voice. "Come on, Rodney, we're going to get you to the infirmary so the doc can take care of you," John murmured. It was times like this he missed Carson the most. It was usually Dr. Carson Beckett soothing Rodney, allowing John to back away and hold on to his own emotions.

John helped get Rodney on a gurney and started to follow to the infirmary when Weir stopped him. "Colonel Sheppard? What happened?"

"Damn planet. Got caught in a sleet storm in the open. Teyla, Ronon and I are mostly bruised but McKay was hurt when lightning struck nearby. Far as I can figure, it hit the ground nearby while he was touching the DHD and traveled through the ground and up the device. We're lucky he had finished dialing, no telling what shape the DHD is in. But he was thrown by the surge and he was confused when I got him up," John explained.

"Okay," Weir relented. "Get checked out and find out how Rodney is doing. We'll debrief tomorrow."

"Thanks," John said, going off slowly. He heard clicking behind him and stopped. "And keep her away from me," he warned without turning around.

~*~

No one would tell John about Rodney until they finished his exam. Luckily, he was only bruised from getting pelted with ice pellets and otherwise unhurt. The same was true for Teyla and Ronon. John held his temper firmly until one of the new doctors, Jeremy Emerson, was done with him. Then he asked in a tone that let the doc know he wasn't going to be put off, "Tell me about McKay."

"Um, well, he's not my patient…" Emerson tried to put John off. When John scowled menacingly, the doc hastened to say, "He's shocky but he's getting IV fluids. I think the plan is to give him a mild sedative to help him sleep and he'll be okay in the morning."

"I'm staying," John said. "You'll have an easier time with him if I'm here, sedative or not."

Emerson shrugged. Dr. Keller would have to deal with Colonel Sheppard. He'd like to be a fly on the wall when that happened. "You're free to go, far as I'm concerned. You should get some sleep and come back in the morning." He looked up at Teyla and Ronon and said, "That includes you, too. Get some sleep and come back in the morning."

John nodded at them. "You guys go. You can check on us in the morning."

Teyla nodded and said, "Good night, then. We will come back in the morning."

Just then Dr. Jennifer Keller, Carson Beckett's replacement as the Chief Medical Officer for Atlantis, walked up to the group.

John looked at the petite woman in front of him. This was the first time since she had arrived in Atlantis that he was dealing with her on her turf – the infirmary. He took a deep breath and said conversationally, "Evening, doc."

"Colonel Sheppard, I understand you want to stay with your team mate. It's not a good idea," she replied evenly.

"I'm going to have to disagree," John replied patiently. "You have three options as far as I can see. One, and the easiest, you let me stay with McKay. Two, you make me leave now and then your staff calls you in the middle of the night and then you call me when McKay refuses to cooperate with you or your staff unless I'm there. Three, you sedate him enough to knock him out for the night but if that really was an option, you would have done it already."

Keller looked coolly at the determined man facing her. She had skimmed the charts of all the senior staff to learn something about the people she was now working with. She had looked further into Dr. McKay's charts tonight as she was treating him and had seen Beckett's references to discussing McKay's treatments with Sheppard, which was unusual in its own right. She knew that Beckett had been a close, personal friend to both of these men so had dismissed the entries as personal and not professional. She'd have to go back and really read through that file.

"Only because he isn't critical, I'll let you stay," Keller grudgingly gave in, but not letting it show. The staff was already walking carefully around McKay and anything that might keep the staff happy would be worth looking into. As Sheppard started to move toward the interior of the infirmary, she held up a hand, stopping him. "But only after you clean up and get some food," she directed. "He's sleeping soundly now and shouldn't wake for at least a couple of hours. So you have plenty of time."

Since John had been allowed to stay, he knew he should do that much. And he'd be more comfortable dealing with Rodney in the middle of the night in clean clothes and with a meal. "Fair enough," John agreed.

"We will come by in the morning," Teyla confirmed and Ronon nodded.

Keller looked at the three standing in front of her, and realized this was the first time she had really seen them together. They stood close enough together to be in each other's personal space and seemed to communicate with only a few spoken words. Dealing with any of them would be dealing with them all. She'd have to talk to Dr. Weir about Colonel Sheppard's team when she had time.

Almost exactly an hour later, John returned showered and reasonably well fed. Keller knew he had hustled since she had also heard him on the command channel checking on the status of the other off world teams while he was eating.

"Dr. McKay should stay asleep for at least a couple more hours due to the sedative I've given him. I'd normally say he'd sleep through the night but I've started to take a closer look at his chart and suspect you're right about waking in the middle of the night," Keller told John. While she had been looking over the chart, one of the senior nurses casually said, "McKay's a better patient when the Colonel's around to distract him," and then had hurried off to other duties to avoid being questioned.

"Anything I need to know?" John asked.

"Don't let him pull out the IV before the morning. Between his hypoglycemia and the electrical shock to his system, he needs to keep his fluids up," she told him. "Other than that, the longer he rests, the better."

John rolled his eyes at that. "Ha! Getting McKay to rest, good luck with that! But I'll keep him from scaring the staff." John grinned at her.

"Well, since you're spending the night and I'm not planning on releasing Dr. McKay until morning anyways, you're both on medical down time for two days," she told John.

John narrowed his eyes at her. "You don't play fair," he groaned. He also knew that Rodney wouldn't be ready to go anywhere for a couple of days, so it wasn't too big a hardship. But fighting back was part of the game and the sooner the new doc got used to it, the better.

After she left, John grabbed a chair and dragged it next to Rodney's bed. Rodney was sleeping soundly for the moment, but John knew it wouldn't last. He sat back, made himself as comfortable as he was going to get and put his feet up on the end of the bed. He opened War and Peace – he might actually finish it some day.

When John realized he had tried to read the same page several times, he shut the book and simply watched Rodney sleep. John used to be able to ask Carson to do this. Carson would call him occasionally, but he knew that Carson had spent many nights by Rodney's bedside whenever Rodney was in the infirmary. Carson knew that John wanted to keep some distance between himself and Rodney, and helped John by doing this sort of vigil. John had a sudden pang of grief, missing Carson fiercely, that he had to fight to get under control.

John put his feet on the floor and wriggled the chair closer to the bed so that he could put his arms on the edge. "How'd we come to this Rodney?" he asked softly. He needed to rest… for just a minute….

John didn't hear the camera click as he fell asleep.

~*~

John came awake as Rodney stirred. By the low level of light in the room, John knew it was the dead middle of the night. He watched Rodney fight to come awake for a minute. John reached out and put a hand on Rodney's arm. "It's okay, Rodney. Don't fight it," John said softly. "You're okay. You need to sleep." John ran his hand up and down Rodney's arm murmuring reassurances.

After about fifteen restless minutes, Rodney relaxed and fell into a deeper sleep. John kept his hand on Rodney's arm, telling himself it was to comfort Rodney, but deeper down he knew he was treating himself in the opportunity to simply touch...

A couple hours later, Rodney started to really wake. "Wha…?" he croaked.

John was up with a glass of water and helped Rodney take a sip. The night nurse had left it a while ago, knowing Rodney would wake up thirsty even with the IV fluids. "Thanks," Rodney said after a long drink. He lay back for a minute, "Okay, now I gotta piss," Rodney complained. "And I better be able to get out of this bed to do that."

John grinned. He had been in that position himself. "Hold on," John said. "Gotta get a nurse to do something about that IV first. It's ready to come out anyways, looks like."

"Thank you, Doctor Sheppard, for that astute observation" Rodney snarked, which told John that Rodney was feeling better, as John leaned out of the room to flag down a nurse.

As she removed the IV, Rodney said to her, "You better not be coming with me."

The nurse rolled her eyes, "Like you have anything I haven't seen." As Rodney stammered, she relented. "Nah. You should be fine. Especially since you actually slept all night." She winked at John. She put a bandage where the IV had been inserted and said, "Up easy. Then you can go to the bathroom."

As Rodney was about to clamber out of bed, John came around and said, "What part of easy didn't you understand, McKay?" He made Rodney sit on the edge of the bed.

"But I gotta go," Rodney whined.

"Only take a second," John relented. "Okay, go."

Rodney shuffled back from the bathroom and stood next to the bed. "When can I get out of here?" he demanded.

"When the doc lets you go," John replied.

"So, where is she?" Rodney asked, looking around. Realizing it was still early morning, Rodney looked at John. "Why are you here?"

"Hey! You didn't want me to leave you at the mercy of Attila the Nurse did you?" John asked.

"No, but you didn't have to stay. They'd have called.." Rodney ran down. Carson would have called. "Oh." Looking around helplessly, Rodney asked, "What did happen? The end is a bit fuzzy."

"Lightning strike nearby. You had your hand on the DHD when it hit and I suspect you were grounded differently than the rest of us. You passed out pretty much as we got through the gate," John told him. "Doc put you on fluids and wanted to let you sleep it off."

Rodney considered for a minute, "I've had worse electrical shocks from working around here. Hmm."

"Well, that ice storm had already beat us up, so I suspect the lightning thing didn't help," John said.

"We have to stop going places where you have to make me run, then," Rodney couldn't resist adding.

"Or, you could come running with me and Ronon and get better at it, you know," John grinned.

"Ha! Fat chance of that happening," Rodney said.

"Probably be good for you," Dr. Keller said from the door.

"Oh, god. Not you, too!" Rodney rolled his eyes. He sat up straight, "Now that you're here, you can let me out of here."

"Once we've run a few tests," she said firmly. As Rodney was about to protest, she said, "Not too many. I can see you're better already." Keller had spent part of the night reading through Rodney's medical file. In reading between the lines, she understood better what Colonel Sheppard had told her the night before about dealing with Dr. McKay. Her next priority was reading Colonel Sheppard's entire file thoroughly. She didn't want to be caught again like she had last night.

"Colonel, now that Dr. McKay is awake, I'm throwing you out," she directed. "Come back in an hour and he'll be ready to go."

"Fair enough," John agreed. Leaving the infirmary, he went to his room to clean up. Finished with that, he went to Rodney's room to pick up some fresh clothes to take back.

John sat for a minute on Rodney's bed, now that Rodney was officially out of danger. He closed his eyes and breathed a prayer of thanks. He didn't know how he was going to continue to do this… After another moment of indulging himself, he shook himself and gathered up Rodney's things. As he walked into the corridor, he heard the camera click.

"Do you mind?" he growled.

"Not at all, Colonel," the woman said cheerfully. She held a hand out, "Emily James."

John waited a beat before shifting his load to take it and shake her hand briefly. He looked her over and saw a tall-ish woman, probably late 40's going on 50, with fly-away short blonde hair. Her handshake was sturdy, like she was.

"Ma'am," John said.

"How's Dr. McKay? Is he being released?" Emily asked. She fell in step with John as he walked the corridor toward the infirmary.

"Dr. McKay is fine," John admitted reluctantly. Play nice, he reminded himself. He had to be polite, but he didn't have to go overboard. As she was about to follow him into the infirmary, he stopped her. "I don't think so," he said.

Emily shrugged and said, "I'll see you later then." She took a quick picture as he stood there and laughed at his resigned sigh.

Rodney looked up as John came in and said, "Thanks. Was hoping you'd do that. Teyla and Ronon stopped by and Keller threw them out. Teyla said they'd meet us for breakfast."

John handed him the clothes, "Can you grab a shower here so we can get to breakfast?"

"Sure, Keller said I can go once you came back, like you're my mother or something, so this'll be good," Rodney grinned.

As Rodney came back, freshly dressed, the day nurse popped her head in and reminded him, "Don't forget you're supposed to come back just before dinner for a quick check." Rodney rolled his eyes at her but nodded that he remembered.

On the way to breakfast John warned Rodney, "That IOC person is here. She's a photographer on top of whatever else she's going to be doing."

"Great," Rodney muttered. "Just what we need." The thought of someone taking his picture made him self-conscious. He looked around suspiciously.

"Not here that I can see," John laughed.

They got breakfast and joined Teyla and Ronon, who had waited for them.

"Good to see you up and about," Teyla said to Rodney. Ronon didn't say anything but looked Rodney over carefully. He returned to eating his breakfast.

"Doc's put us both on down time for two days," John informed them. Rodney looked startled for a moment, but didn't ask any questions. "Ronon, I suspect we can beat up on some of the Marines this afternoon. Teyla? I know you and Dr. Weir had a list of planets you were working on to decide where to send a team?" They both nodded at him. "Rodney?"

"Yes, yes. I have to see what they've destroyed in the lab while I was gone," Rodney said, waving his free hand.

"Colonel Sheppard?" Dr. Weir's voice came over his communicator.

"Yes?"

"Can you stop by my office when you're free?"

"Half an hour okay?'

"That'll be fine. See you then." Weir signed off.

"Okay, catch up with all of you later," John said, finishing up his breakfast. John needed to check in with Lorne before he saw Weir.

As he entered Weir's office he was dismayed to see Emily James already there. Taking a deep breath, he entered the room, "Morning."

"You've met Dr. James, I understand," Weir said. Doctor? "As you know, the IOC has sent her to document what we are doing here. In her role as an official observer, Dr. James has asked to go on your next off world mission."

"Umm, we're scheduled to go to Nicea – M3S-247. We don't know anything about the planet besides what's in the database and you know how, umm, reliable that has been. Teyla doesn't know anything about the planet, either," John wasn't – quite – whining.

"I've been off-world with SG-1, if you need some references, Colonel," Emily offered. "You sounded a lot like Jack O'Neill just now, you know."

Oh, great, John thought to himself but fought to keep a polite look on his face. "For the record, I'm against this," he said evenly.

"Noted," Weir said. "Dr. Keller says you're clear to go day after tomorrow, that's plenty of time to get to know Dr. James."

"Emily, please," the woman said. "Dr. James was my dad and no one has called me that in years."

Weir smiled, "Emily. Colonel, I suspect you're going to want to check Emily out before you go off world?"

John glanced at Weir. You so owe me for this, his glance told her. She shrugged.

"Well, then, Emily, let's see what General O'Neill taught you," John said.

Huh, he thought to himself a couple hours later. I suspect she taught O'Neill a couple of things... Emily had surprised John with her shooting ability and she managed to surprise one of the Marines in hand-to-hand before he learned to not take it easy on her. John didn't have her work out with Ronon, but he could see Ronon watching Emily out of the corner of his eye. The inevitable camera came out when she took a breather. By then, everyone had pretty much relaxed around her, and couple of the Marines asked for copies of some of the pictures she took.

"Get a shower and join us for dinner?" John made a peace offering.

"Sounds good," Emily said. "See you there." She wandered off toward the room she had been assigned.

"She's good. Better than she lets on," Ronon said, for John's ear only.

"Suspected as much," John agreed. "Wonder why she's really here."

Ronon shrugged. Not for him to worry about, but he'd keep an eye on her.

Knowing he had some time, John wandered by the labs to check on Rodney. "So what did they break?" John asked.

"Oh. Hello!" Rodney said absently. "Nothing." He kept tapping on his laptop.

John looked over his shoulder to see what he was working on. He pointed part way down the report Rodney was reading. "That's wrong," John said.

"I hate when you do that," Rodney complained looking up at him. "I've slogged through fifteen pages of this and you look at the damned thing for 10 seconds and find that mistake. I'm going to make Elizabeth make you work for me." It was a long standing debate between them.

John laughed, knowing Rodney wouldn't do it. Or at least Rodney hadn't done it so far. So John would come around and touch things to make them work, ostensibly to annoy Rodney, but also to keep track of what was going on in the labs. And to keep track of Rodney.

"You need to see the doc," John reminded Rodney.

"Yes, yes," Rodney said, waving his hand. "In a bit."

"Now, Rodney," John insisted. "And we have to meet up with the IOC person for dinner."

At that Rodney raised his head. "We have to do what? Did I miss a memo or something?" Rodney whined.

John laughed. "Nothing like that. But she's going with us to Nicea and you and Teyla need to at least talk with her before we go," John explained.

"And you're okay with that?" Rodney asked.

"She impressed Ronon. Don't tell her, but she's good," John admitted.

Rodney sighed. "Okay, okay," Rodney said. He turned back to his laptop to find that John had closed it. "Hey! I was working on that."

"And you need to go to the infirmary to be cleared to go with us tomorrow," John repeated firmly. "I hear there's meatloaf for dinner..."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Mystery loaf you mean," he said. Then he grinned. "As long as we don't have to have a team-night with her. What's her name?"

"Emily James. Dr. Emily James, but I don't know doctor of what," John said.

Rodney considered. "I know that name from somewhere…" He shrugged. "Doesn't come to me." He got up and followed John out of the lab. John made sure Rodney got to the infirmary but didn't hover. No sense getting on the doc's bad side too soon.

Dinner was more fun than John would have expected. Emily James had a couple of SG1 stories she told that got them all laughing. From there, the others contributed stories about their stay in Atlantis. There was a tense moment when Rodney was telling a story that involved Carson, but everyone took it in stride and John relaxed just a bit. John realized Rodney was telling Emily about one of their trips off world where he had saved Rodney's life, yet again. "Hey, careful McKay! I have a few stories I can tell about you," John said. As Rodney stuttered to a halt, he put a hand on Rodney's arm and said softly, "Hey, it's ok." Rodney smiled at him and – just for a moment – it was like only the two of them existed.

Teyla, bless her, saved John when she said, "Well, I must say good night." That broke up the party and they all went off to their respective rooms. John lay awake for a long time replaying that look.

The trip to Nicea was thankfully boring. No natives, no Wraith, no bad weather, no dangerous ruins, nothing. John breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that maybe for once his team would return on time and healthy. They didn't get anything out of the trip but some exercise, but sometimes that was a good outcome. Rodney and Emily made notes about some plants and minerals some of the other scientists might want to come back and explore further, but for them, it was a bust. John still hadn't found out exactly what Emily was a doctor of but she and Rodney got along well enough. She knew enough about whatever they were talking about to not annoy Rodney anyways, which was amazing all by itself.

After a week, Emily announced that her work was done. She had what she needed, her report for the IOC would be done and she was going back to Earth. There was a small party in the mess her last night.

"You know, you could come back and work here," Rodney said, apropos of nothing. "You're more competent than most of the scientists that come out here and, well..." he ran out of things to say.

"Why, Rodney! That's very nice of you," Emily said. "If this day job I have ever becomes boring, you're the first I'll contact." She grinned at him.

Even John had to admit that she had fit in well and was sorry to see her go. "Take care of yourself," he said to her.

"Don't worry about me," she said, seriously. "But I will worry about you. Take care of them." She surprised him by hugging him tightly. After a second, he hugged her back.

"Thanks," he said.

"I'm leaving you a present," she said. When he raised his eyebrows at her in question, she said, "Ah! It's a surprise. You'll see." That's all she would say.

The next day, a number of Atlantis residents who couldn't attend the party the night before stopped to say good-bye at breakfast to Emily. For someone who had been there for so short a time, and an IOC observer to boot, she had become surprisingly popular.

After she left, John wandered up to Weir's office. "So? How did it go?" he asked.

Weir waved a hand, "Fine. Emily showed me the report she was going to submit and she's been very kind to us."

John looked around awkwardly. He didn't want to ask, but was curious to see if Emily had really left something for him. When Weir didn't say anything, he figured Emily had just been polite and left to see to his own duties.

At dinner that night, Rodney was unusually quiet. Quiet to the point that Ronon looked closely at Rodney and asked, "You okay?"

Rodney shook himself and said, "Must be tired." As Ronon stared patiently, obviously not believing him, Rodney said, "Yes, I'm okay. Just... Working something out in my head."

McKay distracted by something he was working on, that was familiar territory. "Okay," Ronon said. Dinner was eaten in relative silence.

"See you tomorrow," Rodney said, wandering off. John wondered what Rodney was working on that had him so distracted. Rodney could multi-task with the best of them and since there wasn't a crisis – at least not at the moment – whatever he was doing was taking up more of Rodney's attention than usual. He figured Rodney would tell him when he was ready.

Rodney got quieter and quieter over the next two days. To the point that Zelenka and Weir had come to John to ask him what was wrong with Rodney. When Zelenka complained to John that Rodney was acting oddly, "He is silent and does not yell," John started to worry more. If it wasn't something Zelenka knew anything about then Rodney had to be working on a personal project.

Since they had a mission scheduled for the next day, John figured he needed to confront Rodney and see what was going on. John let Rodney escape without pushing the issue at dinner. Teyla and Ronon both watched Rodney walk away and then turned to John. "Something is wrong," Teyla said.

John sighed. "Yeah. I know," he agreed. "Well, I don't know what's wrong, but I'll talk to him." He looked down the corridor Rodney just walked down. "Wish me luck." He followed Rodney's footsteps.

Outside of Rodney's room, John stood in the hall, hesitating. He tapped on the door and called softly, "Rodney? Please..." He didn't know what to say.

The door opened and John stepped in. The lighting was dim, but he could see Rodney sitting on the edge of the bed holding a sheaf of papers in his hands. He was in a t-shirt and pants, but barefoot. Rodney looked at the papers and then looked up, "John?"

John blinked. Rodney never called him John. It was too… personal. Too close to what John really wanted…. But he wanted Rodney to say it again…..

Deep breath. "What's going on? Talk to me..." Please?

"Emily left me some pictures. I... I don't know what to think about them," Rodney said slowly. "I've been looking at them since she left." He looked up at John, with a look John couldn't identify. "The note just says these are for me and there are no copies. I... I'd like to believe her."

"Pictures of what?" John asked, now desperately curious.

Rodney handed the pages to John. John leafed through the pictures, stunned. Sudden thoughts of curiosity and dead cats skittered through John's head. It was a series of pictures of the two of them. Pictures of John and Rodney together. Any one of the pictures would have been innocent, a trick of the light. Taken together, the look on John's face as he looked at Rodney in all of them... it was devastating. John looked at the picture where he was asleep leaning on Rodney's bed in the infirmary and the longing in it shouted out at him.

"Rodney..." He couldn't continue. He didn't know what to say. He couldn't deny what was there, obvious for anyone to see, much less a genius like Rodney. "I..." Another deep breath. "I'm sorry." His voice cracked and he had to swallow. He looked down at his feet. "I'll go..." He put the pictures down blindly and turned to leave.

When did Rodney learn to move so quietly? Before he realized what was happening, Rodney's hand was stopping John. "Stay." John couldn't look up. He soaked up the heat from Rodney's hand on his arm…. He memorized the feel to treasure...

"John?" There was a touch of a plea in that. The sound of Rodney saying his name again destroyed the resolve John had spent a long time building.

"I..." John swallowed. "I didn't mean to. But you were always there. You're funny, and brave, and brilliant and ... And somewhere along the line I found you'd crawled under my skin. Carson…." Another swallow. "Carson figured it out when you were in the infirmary one time. I begged him not to say anything." John could hear the Ye daft bugger—talk to him in his head.

"You weren't going to say anything?" John couldn't tell anything from Rodney's tone. He couldn't look at Rodney, afraid of what he would see.

"I didn't want to lose you," John whispered, broken. "That would have been worse."

Silence. The fact that Rodney didn't move gave John a faint hope. At the very least, maybe Rodney wouldn't hate him. Maybe Rodney would let him go and they could go on with their lives. The problem would be that now Rodney would know and John would have to go on pretending that he didn't love Rodney. He didn't know if he had the strength to do that. John looked down at their feet, Rodney's bare feet so close to his. He could feel the heat radiating from Rodney's body... so near...

"John." Softly this time. There was something in that... John dragged his eyes up from their feet to look into Rodney's eyes. Warm, blue eyes that looked steadily back at him.

"You idiot," Rodney whispered against his mouth. Then closed the gap to kiss John gently.

John was so shocked he almost didn't realize what was happening. As Rodney started to lean away, John grabbed the front of Rodney's shirt and hung on. He pulled Rodney into him and kissed him back – John put all the longing and hope he could into that kiss.

When Rodney's arms went around him, John almost sagged in relief. Only sheer determination kept him upright, but now that he was started, he wasn't going to quit. He let go of Rodney's shirt and brought his hands up to cradle Rodney's face. To touch... One hand moved behind Rodney's head to bring them even closer together.

At some point, they were standing with their foreheads touching, arms around each other, not moving, breathing heavily. "I... I think I need to sit down," John admitted reluctantly. He didn't want to let go, but he wasn't going to manage to stay upright much longer.

"I expect we can do that," Rodney grinned. He tightened his arms around John and brought him into a hug. John just hung on, in relief. A couple of brain cells kicked in and John realized that the full body contact revealed that Rodney was probably just as hard as he was. "You are so not going anyplace tonight, Colonel," Rodney breathed in his ear. John moaned as the words and the warm air that came with them drifted across his neck.

"Sitting. Now," John said desperately. Rodney laughed and guided them both to the bed.

"You have entirely too many clothes on," Rodney observed, licking a stripe up John's neck as they sank on the bed. John shivered at the sensation.

"Not going to be able to undress if you keep doing that," John replied. "And you do too, you know."

It was slow – touching and feeling and learning. It was nothing that John had imagined and it was more than he had ever dared dream. Rodney gave as good as he got and they were both soon lost in the swirl of emotions and passion.

Some time later, John found himself lying half on Rodney with Rodney's arm about him. He'd never admit to cuddling, but he wasn't moving for anything. "Are you writing gate addresses on my back?" John asked in amazement. The moving fingers stopped abruptly. "Not complaining," John amended quickly, moving to place a kiss on Rodney's shoulder, the only place he could reach without moving.

Rodney placed a kiss on John's forehead. "Sleep now," he said. John wriggled slightly to settle in and fell asleep between one breath and the next.

The next morning, it felt like they had been sleeping together forever. Waking up wrapped up in Rodney McKay was how John planned to spend the rest of his life. Rules be damned, he wasn't going to lose this now that he had found it.

"Stop thinking, that's my job," Rodney said sleepily. John moved up to kiss Rodney good-morning. Then he moved on to other things...

"Okay, we can do that again," Rodney panted, later. John chuckled and kissed Rodney softly.

"We have to get moving, you know," John said, reluctantly.

"Don't suppose we can call in sick," Rodney asked rhetorically. "No, they'll send that Keller person to check on us and then..." At John's frown, Rodney said, "What?"

"We don't know her. Carson would have said 'About time' to us, but I don't know what she's going to think," John said carefully.

Rodney shrugged. "Not giving you up," he said simply. "We'll deal with it when we have to." Rodney paused. "There's a pool, you know."

"A what?" John yelped, sitting up.

"Well, everyone assumes we've been sleeping together forever. Zelenka offered me a cut if I'd confirm it for him," Rodney said cheerfully. "Going to let him suffer. It wasn't a big enough cut."

John rolled his eyes. "Shower, then breakfast. I've already missed my run with Ronon," John decided. He looked around, "Think we can talk Elizabeth into larger quarters?" He froze when he realized how that sounded.

"Well, since you're in charge of declaring space safe and I have the city database available, I suspect we can 'volunteer' to live in a new section of the city to see if there are any hidden problems," Rodney smirked. John let out the breath he had been holding.

"I like the way you think, Dr. McKay," John said, leaning in for a quick kiss. "Come on."

The shower took longer than strictly necessary, but they soon were on their way to breakfast. "Good thing you always wear the same thing," Rodney said as they walked down the corridor. "No one will know you've not been back to your room."

Teyla and Ronon looked up as John and Rodney joined them at a table. "You are better today, Rodney?" Teyla asked.

Rodney grinned. "Yes, I am. Thanks," Rodney said. Ronon looked at them and flashed a grin before going back to eating his breakfast. John didn't mind that he knew and assumed Teyla would figure it out soon, if she hadn't figured it out already.

"We have a mission later," John reminded them. They all nodded and went off to do things that needed to be done before they had to get ready.

As they were about to go through the gate, John suddenly laughed softly to himself. Rodney looked at him questioningly and John leaned over so only Rodney would hear. "Before she left, Emily said she was leaving me a present," John said. Rodney raised an eyebrow. John smiled and said, "She gave me you."

Comments

How did l miss this. That was amazing. Loved it