Meg (omg_wtf_yeah) wrote,

SGA fiction: Kind Much Closer, soft R

Title: Kind Much Closer
Rating: Very soft R
Fandom: SGA
Pairing: John/Rodney (McShep) -- preslash
Word count: 2,711
Prompt: Written for the McSheplets It's Only Just Begun Fest. Prompt was "If It Kills Me" by Jason Mraz and John pining for Rodney. 8 vignettes from different points in their relationship. Written late. Posted late. Sigh.
Spoilers: Some fourth and fifth season spoilers
Warning: Mention of Keller/McKay and Katie Brown/McKay

Kind Much Closer

John thought it more often when their lives weren’t in immediate danger. When they were saving the universe they were too busy to think. It was all hammered out orders, improvisation, and strangled gratitude. When they were hanging out in John’s quarters or walking the hallways of Atlantis or through the soft low grasses of an alien world, firing barbs back and forth, there was a blossom in his chest like the flowering of blood in water.

A soft suffusion of color – of feeling.

It wasn’t painful. It felt good. Being with Rodney felt good. It was team but better. To John, Teyla, Ronon, and Ford were family, engendered love deeply engrained in ligature and bone – a tattoo crafted in scar tissue. Brushing shoulders with Rodney in the mess hall was like the eruption of fireworks in his veins – like lights firing off, leaving warmth and glow. Something heady and exciting.

How he wanted it to be – how it was, whatever.

John put his life on the line for his team and he never minded. He’d give as much to McKay then a little more if Rodney would let him. He’d fill all the gaps between them. They were best suited for collaboration.

They worked really well together. They made up for each other’s weaknesses, played up each other’s strengths. They could be good together. Lately John thought it might just be him who felt it and he really didn’t want to get it wrong again.

There was a lot he didn’t want to give up in case he was.

Maybe it took time to know.

In a cell on a distant planet, John bent over Rodney’s shoulders, nagging him to get a move on figuring a way out of jail. His part of the job was heroic gestures and gunslinging, and Rodney’s part was the ingenious science bit. When it came to the science stuff, John could kick back and bug him. Nagging was a great motivator. It always worked when he nagged. It was just a matter of time.

His hazel eyes were on the nape of his neck as Rodney bent over a naked panel on the inside of their makeshift cell. There was a freckle half covered by his collar. John would like to say he’d never noticed but there were more times than he could count he’d been breathing down Rodney's neck as he twisted wires, short circuited circuit boards, examined life signs on his sensor. He could make a map of the back of Rodney’s neck.

The short hairs terminating at his nape were soft, almost silky. The plane of his shoulders made a broad and easy line. His blue shirt was colored like slate or sea water.

John knew that Rodney knew that he was staring, wondered if Rodney knew why and he was seized by an alien impulse to drop his head into the base of Rodney’s neck, cradle his forehead in the well between his shoulder blades. He wondered if Rodney would jump, shocked by the sudden gesture or if he’d swat him with characteristic impatience. No surprise. No surprise because maybe Rodney already knew.
But Rodney didn’t know.

Suddenly McKay stilled, his shoulders tensing with irritation. “If I could get a little space, Colonel,” he snapped, blue eyes on the ceiling.

John eased off half an inch because there was no reason to give it up completely. “If you could finish up this year, Rodney,” he drawled. It was fun to play around.

Rodney reared his head back indignantly, babbling about how impossible rerouting the power in the panel was just like he said everything he ever did in conjunction with SG was initially totally impossible before he inevitably seized up in clear eyed epiphany. John had ceased to be surprised by his sudden and brilliant perceptions. It was routine when Rodney snapped his fingers three times and outlined a genius escape plan.

By the time they were three fourths through it, Ronon and Teyla broke through untrained opposition, heavily armed and highly intimidating. John lifted his brows and thought it was some kind of speed record for search and rescue. Thirty minutes later, John and Rodney were liberated and in the jumper – better yet, they barely had to do the work.

Sheppard was feeling good until he ambled into the mess a little past twelve hundred, hands hooked in his pockets with a lazy stride. High noon sunlight slanted in through all the arched windows on the plastic tabletops and through the stained glass the shape of the Golden Gate Bridge was visible in the glittering bay.

Ronon caught his eye at the usual table and nodded curtly in his direction before shoveling half a handful of lentils in his mouth. Teyla was waylaid on her way to the table by a marine nervously gnawing his smile as he groped his tray and searched for common ground. Her midriff was golden in the sun.

John grabbed a plate and made for the lunch line, shooting a carefully crafted careless glance around the mess. His stare fell on the familiar planes of Rodney’s rounded shoulders, shaking with what was hopefully choking but was probably laughter judging from Keller’s expression across the table from him – occupying a table by the wall. They always seemed to find something stupid to talk about – something crystal clear like glass, unlasting, boring. It was hard to think they had anything in common besides copious degrees of education. He watched for a second as Keller smiled, leaning forward and he dropped his gaze back to his plate.

John dropped a chicken breast onto his tray next to leafy greens, some vegetables. His lentils got all over the place as he walked across the room and deposited his plate on the table, jumping as he dropped his tray and pulled out a chair to sit down.

Ronon arched an eyebrow at him, an open ended question for which he had no answer. He ducked his head as Teyla sat, smile lingering on her face as she apologized for the delay, hoping someone would notice. Then Ronon was arching his eyebrow at her instead and John was in the clear, peering sidelong at Rodney and Keller beneath his brows.

The chicken tasted bad, like rubber, maybe overdone or maybe bland. He chewed through a couple bites and tossed his fork down, stretching out in makeshift indolence as he offered an excuse to Ronon’s inquisitive expression, when Teyla asked, “Does the chicken not agree with you?”

He was in the mood for a hamburger now they were on Earth again.

He almost didn’t notice when Rodney looked at him as Keller was leaving. It wasn’t like John was looking, he just happened to glance his way. But the pressure in his chest eased when Rodney navigated through the tables in their direction and claimed his chair by Teyla – across from John and asked what they were talking about. Rodney rounded out their number. Without him it wasn’t team.

A shipment from the Daedalus came in and brought these industrial building sets from Earth and a sideways glance at Rodney, his hands wrapped around a glossy box, confirmed a lazy challenge, eyebrow arched toward his unkempt dark hair. An hour later and they were in their separate corners of Rodney’s lab, constructing monstrosities towering six feet tall then to the ceiling and fighting over who had run through their ration of sets, trying hard not to be the first to say their “erection” was bigger.

An hour thirty minutes later and John broke first, earning a sarcastic laugh and a disparaging diatribe which went from how coarse and puerile John was to how Rodney’s was totally bigger, anyway. And it had been almost a necessity for normalcy to push it along, really get on Rodney’s nerves which always felt good, to ask glibly if Rodney was seriously proposing that they compare who was bigger because that was really seventh grade of him. And when Rodney exclaimed, “Who does that in seventh grade, anyway?” John was all innocence and coy charm.

It would’ve gotten awkward if Zelenka hadn’t stated that clearly John had won, gesturing curtly to his building. Rodney gaped at Zelenka’s lack of judgment and possible poor depth perception.

John didn’t get sick of crowing all day.

They could find ways to waste time for hours when they weren’t busy saving the world.
It had never been so easy doing nothing at all.

They played old school Nintendo games hooked to a big screen in a room off the gate room some Sundays. Rodney made it so they could play in competitive mode – two players, this supercool function so they could sabotage each other which always took up more than half the game play.

Ronon and Teyla would sometimes sit down on the sofa or haunt the doorway and their popcorn got all over the floor and across the new age-y Ancient couch cushions. Rodney’s voice thinned to a manic wheedle or flattened in an unceasing stream of trash talk when he wasn’t yelling, “Hey! That’s cheating!” And John thought: All’s fair in love and war, McKay. That extended to two player competitive Tetris.

So it was a little stupid how fair John played.

When the Daedalus returned from Earth it brought a whole new gaming platform – an Xbox 360 and the game Rock Band. It was a little too uncompetitive until Rodney improvised some changes and all of a sudden it was a lot more fun to play.

John fancied himself pretty good at the guitar part until Ronon lazily asked how to play it and John foolishly explained, trying to make it sound kind of boring and kind of challenging thus making himself look a little cooler for his success.

“Doesn’t sound too hard,” Ronon growled and held out his hands for the little plastic guitar. He proceeded to affirm his statement by smashing John’s carefully honed records in the space of two songs, his success suggesting that Satedans might have superior understanding of rhythm. Rodney was just as vexed because it made his drumming part look worse by comparison.

It took two weeks to reclaim his first place position during which Rodney was either dismayingly aware of and mocking of his intentions or dismayingly absent when he wanted to play. It seemed like he wanted to spend time in Katie Brown’s greenhouse rather than on the couch, playing mind numbing games. John liked playing with Ronon and Teyla, too, but it wasn’t the same. For one thing, Rodney sucked just as badly as he did and at the same time he was better than Teyla – who never really tried to master Resident Evil or any of the other games they played. It might have been a cultural difference in her being alien. It didn’t help that Teyla arched her eyebrow at his explanations like she was humoring a child and John barely resisted the impulse to remind her that he’d stolen her from the Athosians in the first place and he could put her back.

The point was that John liked playing video games with Rodney.

Rodney only occasionally intentionally accidentally hit the Pause button while they were playing Mortal Kombat to circumvent John’s character from ripping his character’s head off. It made ripping his character’s head off better when the game was back on play mode. Rodney always whined when he lost and for a plethora of reasons (some perverse) John enjoyed listening to Rodney whine. Sometimes John let him win – it wasn’t often because his head didn’t need further swelling and Rodney always gloated but John did it anyway. He didn’t really know why but he did.

The thing was that John wasn’t a big talker. Most situations called for smirking facetiousness or heroic stoicism and John could do that. He was a prodigious genius at being a smart ass or clamming up. But words like “I like you” or “I love you” or “I’m glad you didn’t die” stuck in his throat.

McKay didn’t get it when he didn’t say the damn words. He was supposed to be a genius so what the hell was with his thick skull?

There were times it could’ve come up.

When it was getting late and Rodney was still in his room, his body heat like a gravitational pull as he leaned against John’s arm to put a DVD in the laptop. Or when John was seized by the sudden impulse to press him into an empty transporter while they were walking down the hall – to tangle his hands in Rodney’s hair and shirt and drag him closer or shove him further into the wall and cover the hollow beneath his jaw with his lips and map the stubble beneath his open mouth.

Rodney lost his train of thought when the promise of sex came up and surprise was a significant tactical advantage. Maybe gender wouldn’t be too much of an issue if he shoved him back and sucked on the pulse point in his jugular.

Maybe he might like brunettes if John was persuasive enough.

But John couldn’t get the words through or lift his hands to make it happen. The ways he said it were quiet and ignorable. Even if it wasn’t loud he wanted to get through.

The nape of Rodney’s neck smelled of soap and faint, clean sweat when he was working through theories on how to save their lives with science. He radiated heat like a furnace, a quiet inferno beneath his skin and his mind was like a machine, burning fuel and generating energy.

There was a small hole in the sleeve of his black t-shirt beneath his tac vest. John hadn’t noticed it when he was leaning over his shoulder but earlier, at dinner with the natives at some kind of goodwill summer banquet thing.

Usually Rodney sat by Teyla, across from John, but then he’d been seated at John’s side, rolling his eyes at primitive bucolic customs and John noticed the hole, his hazel eyes lazy but watchful. His stomach had been warm with the cup of wine he was nursing, head still level, unaffected by the drink.

The rip in his shirt was troublesome. It filled John’s head for a full minute with quicksilver imaginings then a few minutes later he was daydreaming again. He wanted to pluck at it. He could imagine the thin, worn fabric beneath his fingers – the tip of his index finger through the tear. The soft intake of a breath like the act of watching – Rodney’s pale eyes lifting to meet his and the barest touch of skin on skin. He could imagine a lot of things. Not just the slide of Rodney’s crooked, pragmatic mouth against his but the brush of his graceful fingers at his temple.

Rodney’s blue eyes, wide and almost surprised by the sudden discovery of John’s expression – understanding what he wasn’t going to say. The quick tilt of his lips in an uneven smile. The silken line of his lashes on his cheek and the sensation of Rodney’s hair on John’s bare shoulder.

Sometimes it made his chest hurt but John was good at bearing up. He was good at waiting.

And later on it was just John in his quarters and the wet slide of his hand on his member, shuttered eyes drawing forth a phantom – a Rodney who knew and didn’t mind.

The telephone line generated counterfeit closeness, made it seem like they were right next door, Rodney in New Mexico, John in Colorado Springs. Stargate kept their fortunes entangled but kept them far away. They weren’t as close as any of them wanted to be because on Atlantis they’d been family and when they lost Atlantis they lost their home. It wasn’t just them but Carson, Ronon and Teyla and Elizabeth… They all felt it but Rodney didn’t mind saying the words.

Rodney insistently complained in John’s ear through the receiver – words that meant “I miss Atlantis.” Probably meant “I miss Teyla and Ronon.” Maybe meant “I miss you.”

John smiled, peering at his model air plane and said, “Miss you, too, buddy.” But they weren’t apart long.

Tags: fic: sga, pairing: john/rodney

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