Disclaimer: The characters and concepts belong to MGM and the Sci-Fi Channel. This story was a labor of love and no money was made from its distribution. This story is rated NC-17 and contains elements of M/F, M/M, and M/M/F sex.

Rave Atlantis

by Smitty

Scene I: Hey, Pretty

I see a stairway so I follow it down
Into the belly of a whale
Where my secrets echo all around
You know me now but to do better than that
You've got to follow me
Boy I'm tryin' to show you where I'm at
- "Hey, Pretty" by Poe

The nightlife on Atlantis is the lamest of any city John has ever visited. It's so pitiful, he actually volunteers to do night patrol once a week, just to shake things up.

Zelenka is muttering over equations in his lab and a couple of the botanists are still up, exclaiming over something purple growing in a blacklit terrarium. John walks by them, happily unnoticed. The lowest level is unoccupied and no one ever patrols it but tonight the back of his neck itches and so he takes the transporter down and hears music. He steps quietly, walking the length of a hallway with his P-90 in both hands and cocks his head to follow the pulsing strains. Club music. Someone is either dancing or getting lucky. He rolls around a corner and finds himself at the doorway of a large, dark room, and the answer to his assumption seems to be 'both.'

Bodies twist and rock in the strobe-like lights set up in the far corners and the beat of the bass trembles across the floor. John takes a deep breath, feeling his body react to the music and the lights and the memories they bring back. His eyes adjust to the low light and he is able to pick out individuals. Campbell across the room with no shirt on, and Kavanagh in some sort of beat-induced trance, eyes closed and nodding. A couple against the wall kisses languorously and John looks away, not wanting to know if he recognizes them.


Laura Cadman presses up against his side in a damp tank top, her hair curling around her face. John looks down and thinks that in another galaxy, fifteen years ago, he would have kissed her, just because she was there. She fits up against him, pressing her cheek to his and the word fraternization flickers neon and dies across his cerebral cortex.

"Sir," she says in his ear and of course, that's the only possible way to be heard, "we need somewhere to blow off some steam."

John dips his head and pitches his voice low. "What are the rules here, Lieutenant?" he asks, his lips brushing her ear as his breath makes her shiver.

"No ranks," she whispers back and she's been drinking something sweet and alcoholic. He can smell it on her breath. "No titles. No repercussions. What happens in this room stays in this room."

"This isn't Vegas, Cadman," he says because he has to and it's not lost on him that he doesn't call her Lieutenant.

"It's all we've got, sir," she murmurs, and he definitely needs a cold shower. He realizes that she's still dancing, shifting her body against his in time with the music and he breathes out and lets his body go with hers. It's awkward with the P-90 at his side and the thick flak vest, but he doesn't need to put forth a lot of effort, either.

She kisses him, wet and soft, and a shiver runs up his spine. He lets her, kisses her back, and knows it doesn't mean a thing except that he's standing here and she's standing there. It's hot and languid and sweet and she pulls away first, mouth wet and eyes shining. He doesn't ask her about Carson and he won't have to because he's leaving and what happens in the room stays in the room. He turns on his heel and takes the half dozen steps toward the lighted hallway, to safety. He leaves Cadman and the room behind, leaves the music and the lights and the rhythm that now beats in his pulse. It's rude and it's abrupt but he's never needed to practice self-control in rooms like that before and he doesn't like having to do it now. His skin prickles as he leaves and he turns, not sure what he'll find, but not surprised when he finds it.

Rodney's leaning up against the far wall, arms crossed over his chest. His leg bounces out of time with the music, betraying nerves as jangled as John's.

"If we go in there," Rodney says, "we can do whatever we want and it won't matter."

John's on duty and people see and they remember and he has too much to lose on something that won't matter.

"You don't believe that," John says, because Rodney's not stupid and because Atlantis is too small for secrets. His lips are dry and when he wets them, Cadman's flavor lingers, sweet and spicy.

He wants something more bitter.

Scene II: Pretty Girl

Pretty girl is suffering while he confesses everything.
Pretty soon she'll figure out what his intentions were about.
And that's what you get for falling again;
You can never get him out of your head.
- "Pretty Girl" by Sugarcult

Rodney finds himself drawn to the Room -- and whoever named it something that unoriginal deserves to be spaced -- more and more often. He stays just long enough to peer inside, to see who came to dance, to drink, to live just a little more than the day-to-day routine offers.

The music's terrible, of course, and who would want Halling's noxious homemade brew anyway, and yet he finds himself lurking in the hallway night after night, wishing for something better to do.

Rodney hasn't seen John in the Room since that first night. And he's looked. Every night. He's not stupid about it, of course. There's an alcove across the hall where he can watch anyone enter while staying practically invisible.

It doesn't look like Sheppard's coming tonight, either. It's still a little early -- Laura Cadman is just going in now and for a moment Rodney hears her braying voice in the back of his head. He thinks, suddenly, that he might be lonely.

"Ridiculous thought," he chides himself. Cadman had been a guest overstaying her welcome at best and an intruder in his head at worst. And Sheppard...well, things haven't quite been the same as they were before the siege.


Sometimes the ghost of Cadman's voice is so strong that he thinks, just for a moment, that she's back in his head.


Rodney blinks and she isn't in his head at all. She's peering into the alcove, long bare arms crossed and her red tank top riding up her stomach.

"Ah," he stutters, startled to be caught, although he knew anyone leaving the room could see him in the alcove if they stopped and turned around, the way Sheppard had that night. "Lieutenant Cadman. You're looking...half-dressed tonight. Where's Carson?"

"Carson's in his quarters," Cadman says evenly, unfolding her arms and slouching against the wall. "And there are no ranks here, Rodney."

"Ah, no," Rodney corrects because that is familiar ground. "There are no ranks in your little den of iniquity over there. Right here? Ranks for everyone!"

Cadman steps closer, inadvertently -- or not -- blocking egress from the alcove. "Come in with me," she says softly. "I always see you out here. You're always out here looking in."

Rodney's chuckle is ironic and sarcastic and full of derision. Just like Rodney. "Not exactly my kind of place," he says. "Besides, I've been told I'm something of a killjoy. Zelenka, in fact, once called me a black hole of fun, which I'm sure he meant mostly in the sense of -- "

Cadman grabs Rodney by the shirt and drags him against her with surprising strength. He can't protest anymore, either. Even if she hadn't surprised the hell out of him, her wide, sweet, perfect mouth is crushed up against his and Laura Cadman is kissing him.

Like most of the kisses Rodney has been party to in Atlantis, this one doesn't really require his participation, but he tries anyway.

"Come in with me," she murmurs against his mouth.

"Okay," he says.

Cadman smiles and tangles her hand in his and leads him into the dark room, pulsing with the beat of the music. "Dance with me," she says in his ear, moving against him, her body flowing like an extension of the melody.

Rodney can't dance and he knows it. It's never stopped him from doing it anyway -- girls will dance with guys who are bad dancers more than they dance with guys who refuse to dance at all -- he didn't even have to be a genius to figure that one out.

Cadman's hands find his hips, skating gracefully up to his waist and back, pushing him into the rhythm.

"Come on, Rodney, it's math," she says. "One, two, three four. One, two, three, four."

Of course, just like music, just like the piano. Why didn't anyone tell him before? He'll never be an artist, be able to sketch his body into the music the way Laura does, but technically proficient is better than totally inept. He counts it out, falling into Laura's rhythm. Their bodies move in synch and it doesn't take long for Rodney to move close enough to lean down and touch his mouth to hers. The kiss is light, cautious on his part, sweet on hers.

"Laura," he says, looking down at her, then pressing his mouth into her hair. He feels oddly intimate with her, as if sharing an afterglow that skipped several steps, including the sex. "What about Carson?" He wants her, he feels that connection with her, but Carson is a friend and Rodney knows better.

"Carson," Laura says, her hand rubbing at Rodney's neck and it feels so, so good, "is very understanding."

Rodney nods. He saw her kissing Sheppard days ago; he knows this isn't anything other than the Room and the atmosphere and tensions burning away. He remembers her explanation when she first told him about the Room, and he trusts her and he trusts Carson to keep their boundaries firm. And if Laura's boundaries let her kiss Rodney and slide against him in a very, very nice way, well, all that means is that he's luckier than he originally thought.

"So this is...this is okay with him?" he asks, leaning in to kiss her again, a little less tentatively.

"Mm." Laura smiles against his mouth. "This is fine, Rodney."

"What about this?" Rodney asks, sliding a hand under her shirt and circling his thumb slowly along her soft skin. "Is this fine, too?"

She nods, tilting her head to look up at him. It's the nicest thing anyone's offered him, he thinks, at least since the Daedalus arrived full of ZPMs and Marines and enough Asgard technology to save John Sheppard from Rodney's bomb.

The dancing comes easier when he has kisses and strokes to match the movement of his hips. Rodney's never been able to say the right things to women, but he doesn't have to talk here and despite the slim, curvy, package, Cadman's really more like the men he's been with. If it weren't for Carson, Rodney thinks, maybe he could forget about Sheppard and make a go of it with Laura.

"Let go, McKay." Laura's whispering in his ear again and her hands are pushing at his hips, stopping them at just the right moment, pulling them back. "Let me do this."

He can't believe how easily she guides him into the rhythm, can't believe how precisely they move together, until he thinks, she's been in my body and recognizes her touch like that of an old lover's.

"Let go, Rodney," she whispers again and he does. He's not sure how, releasing control has never been a strength, but he lets her guide him and he wonders if this is how it would be with Sheppard, sweet kisses and matching rhythms and voluntary release. Somehow, he doubts it. Somehow, he thinks it would be a battle of wills, and conflicting mouths and clashing hips. And somehow, he's gone hard against Laura, thrusting against her hip, and he tries to stop, tries to draw back, but she won't let him. "It's okay," she whispers. "Let me help." Her leg slides between his, one between, the other beside, so she's straddling his thigh, too. She drags one hand down and puts pressure right where he needs it.

Rodney drops his mouth to her neck, to her bare shoulder, and mouths the glowing skin there, tasting her, sweet and strong. The muscles that carry heavy packs in the field twitch and roll under his lips, against his teeth and tongue. Her hand between his legs matches the roll of her hips and he thinks that this is where music is supposed to take you.

"Oh, god, Laura," he gasps against her shoulder. "That feels so good. You're amazing. It just feels -- I haven't -- Haven't felt -- "

"Come on, Rodney," she murmurs in his ear before nipping at it. "Come for me. Just let go."

He squeezes her against him, holding on tight as he does what she asks, and groans into her neck with a power that comes from down deep. He's a mess and needs to go upstairs to change before long, but he's not through here.

He strokes his thumb along Laura's neck and under her chin, tilting her head up. He kisses her, long and deep, dipping his tongue into her mouth. She slides away from his thigh and he holds her head as he draws back. "Do you want me to -- ?" He doesn't finish, but his fingers on her thigh should be enough.

She smiles back at him, pleased with herself and satisfied. "Next time," she tells him, leaning up to kiss his nose. It's should feel ridiculous and juvenile but it doesn't.

He smiles back and glances away, tired. Rodney's the type of guy who likes to pass out after sex and his hips are already losing the beat of the music.

"Hey." Laura's hand on his face makes him look back. Her eyes are sympathetic, concerned. "He'll come around."

"Who?" Rodney asks automatically.

"Colonel Sheppard," Laura says, as if he's being silly.

Rodney's heart beats double-time and his body tenses under her hands. "I don't -- I think -- "

"Rodney, relax!" she exclaims, hugging him again. "I'm not going to say anything," she adds in his ear. "C'mon, I was in your body when you talked to him in the hall. You were tense, but not like you were around Katie Brown. You were all...you were glad to see him." She uses her hand on Rodney's neck to make him meet her eyes. "He was glad to see you. The way he looks at you, Rodney, he's already yours."

Rodney closes his eyes and rests his forehead against Laura's. Inside, he's desperately grateful, breathless, burning with that tiny flare of hope. Outside, he runs one hand through her hair and lifts his head enough to kiss her forehead.

"Thanks for your vote of confidence," he says in defiance of his inner relief, "but your military has some sucky rules and the colonel's on a one-man mission to become the Captain Kirk of the Pegasus Galaxy."

Laura squeezes the back of his neck and gives him a quick kiss.

"Just don't be sad, okay?" she says, looking him in the eye. "And don't give up on him. He's doing the best he can."

Rodney stares into her eyes, brown and gold and green and two shades of gray. He thinks about what she says and tries to figure out the words in between. He's already yours. He's doing the best he can. He was glad to see you. Don't give up on him.

"Okay," he says, nodding, a small tremor disrupting his voice. "Okay. I can do that."

Scene III: Right There
- This scene written by Reccea

Talking to me all night long
When my song comes on
Will ya come out to play to play
When you work your body
- "Right There" by JC Chasez

The Room has become a part of his weekly patrol. He tells himself that he's afraid someone will OD down there but it's not true. There's a blind spot in the opposing corridor, the place where he found Rodney the last time, and he settles in there, just watching.

They aren't the first thing he sees, just the first he notices. Amid the mass of bodies writhing under the strobe lights he sees Rodney with Cadman. They're kissing, sloppy but intense with his hands in her hair and hers firm on his hips. She's guiding him, forcing his body to give in to the beat.

The temperature in Atlantis is carefully controlled, he knows this, but temperature control wasn't designed for this many people getting quite this close. John shifts his weight and he's too hot in the uniform and the flak vest. Overdressed next to everyone else, even Rodney. Who's in his grey pants still but a shirt John's never seen before. Short sleeves that leave his arm free to slide down Cadman's neck past the small string holding her shirt up. John can't look away from Rodney's palm spread flat against her bare back.

She's still with Carson, John's sure of it. She'd been in the infirmary just yesterday and the way Carson had looked at her was unmistakable. But he'd never know it by the way her hips press into Rodney's. Her mouth looks slick and swollen, even under the spare lighting, when she finally pulls back. Her chest is heaving but her hands never leave Rodney's hips. They keep moving him against her, pressing in on the offbeat perfectly.

John breaks his gaze away, biting his lip so he won't lick it.

Rodney's head dips down, pressing a kiss to Cadman's throat and John stays rigid in place. He wants to see Rodney's face but they're turned just the wrong way so all John can see is his skin stretched over his Adam's apple. Cadman turns her head more in John's direction, tilting to give Rodney better access. She's smiling, full lips spread and eyes fluttering shut. She finally lets one hand go of Rodney's hip, trusting him to stay on the beat, John thinks. She slides her palm up his back, nails digging in and raising the fabric as they go. Her hand stills on his neck, finally, fingers curling into the hair at the base.

Rodney makes a sudden movement, one that's strangely smooth for Rodney, and his hand presses into her back, pushing her closer to him. He slides a leg between hers and John swallows. John's mouth is dry, his tongue heavy against his teeth. He's sweating a little, just under the vest and at his collar. He should leave.

The music gets slowly louder, beat pulsing into John so he almost vibrates with it. It's getting slower though, at the same time, so Cadman and Rodney's frantic press of flesh turns into a slow grind. Cadman's fist is clenching and unclenching at Rodney's neck and John finds himself mimicking the motion on the butt of his P-90.

She gasps, John can see it, the way her mouth splays open almost shocked and John can't help but wonder what the hell he isn't seeing. What it is that Rodney's doing to make her move quite like that, her head dipping forward, hair falling over her face. Rodney's knee presses up, John can see it, and Cadman's hips jerk sharply. Rodney's hand dips lower, fitting over the curve of her ass and while his knee is pressing up again, Cadman's also pressing down and it looks.... It looks obscene and possibly the hottest thing John's seen in years. He makes a fist hard around the butt of his P90 and it's all he can do not to go over there. And then Cadman goes slack, muscles suddenly loose except for that one hand, fingers still entwined in Rodney's hair. Rodney pulls his head up, his hair in total disarray and he kisses Cadman, slow and sweet, like he's slowing down with the shake of her hips, going loose with her.

John closes his eyes for one brief moment and then takes a deep breath. He doesn't press his hands into himself, it wouldn't help. He licks his lips, and rolls his shoulders. His neck is slick with sweat and his breathing is ragged and he needs to leave now before he does something he can't take back.

Cadman's chest is shaking with something that might be laughter or might be broken little gasps and Rodney pulls back from her mouth with a smile John doesn't recognize. It's the last thing John sees before he slips out into the sharp cold air of the hallway at night, blinking at the brightness of Atlantis.

Scene IV: I Think I'm Paranoid

You can look, but you can't touch
I don't think I like you much
Heaven knows what a girl can do
Heaven knows what you've got to prove
- "I Think I'm Paranoid" by Garbage

The problem with Laura Cadman, Rodney thinks, is not that she knows entirely too much about him. It's that she's willing to exploit that knowledge to make his life hell. Normally, he admires that kind of ingenuity and creativity but nothing normal goes on in the Room.

He always feels it in his stomach first, the heavy, corrupting beat of the music. The tension builds outward from there, seizing up his chest and thighs before sliding out to his extremities. Tonight it's a slow burn, still in his gut as he circles around to their sorry excuse of a bar. He doesn't see Laura or Sheppard, so he gets a glass of the fruity Athosian wine. It tastes the way he always imagined pomegranates should taste. He's never had the real thing. They seemed messy and expensive and exotic back on Earth -- more trouble than they were worth. But here, in Atlantis, the wine tastes rich and sweet, heavy on his tongue and forbidden in the best ways.

It's with the glass to his lips and wine washing sweetly down his throat that he sees them.

Sheppard's hand is fisted up in the reddish-gold fall of Laura's hair. Rodney can't see her hands but he's sure that if they're on Sheppard, they're touching hard muscle. Sheppard's fucking her mouth with his tongue, intense and earnest and single-minded. Rodney's body prickles all over. If he's found Sheppard's full attention arousing when the man yells at him, that's nothing compared to watching all that intensity applied to kissing.

As Rodney watches, Laura twists her mouth away and leans in to put her mouth at Sheppard's ear.

Sheppard opens his eyes and before it even occurs to Rodney to take cover within the crowd, those eyes are fixed on him.

He thinks he should look away but can't bring himself to actually break the connection. Sheppard's eyes are dark in the low light, hooded by the brows knit over them. Those eyebrows fascinate Rodney, the way they mold John's face into those quirky little expressions Rodney imagines are just for him. He wants to run the side of his thumb over them, feel the arch of bone underneath, press kisses to the corner.

Rodney lifts his wineglass to his lips and, without breaking eye contact, tosses back the rest.

Sheppard licks his own mouth and without even thinking about it, Rodney mimics him. He tastes sweet alcohol and fruit that isn't really pomegranate. He thinks John must be tasting Laura.

John tilts his head -- but not his eyes -- down to speak in Laura's ear. Her hair hides John's mouth, blocks his words from Rodney's eyes.

John watches Rodney as he cups both hands under Laura's ass and hauls her against his leg.

Rodney can't look away from John's eyes even as he peripherally charts the sensual way Laura grinds herself against John's leg by bowing her back against his supporting hand, and the way John bites his lip as she clutches at his arms.

John's hands will leave marks on her bare skin and Rodney wonders if he'll be able to see them. He follows the long line of her back with his eyes, nodding unconsciously with the beat of the music and the pulse of her body. Her neck is pale and long, exposed when she drops her head back and John leans forward to tongue the pulse, to use his teeth on her, and his eyes are watching Rodney the entire time. Daring him, begging him. Warning him.

Rodney licks dry lips, wishing he knew what John was asking. Wishing he had the bravery to cross the room and show John everything he's missing.

Laura distracts him from those thoughts, the toss of her golden hair glimmering under the lights as she squirms on John's leg. Rodney wants to reach out to her as much as he wants to reach out to John, to touch and comfort and arouse, and to satisfy.

They both -- they all -- want to see Laura come and Rodney knows how to do it.

He lifts a hand to his own chest and rubs a thumb over one nipple. It's already hard under his shirt and the touch goes straight to his groin.

John's eyes break away, long enough to run up and down Rodney's body, making him feel totally naked, and then he spreads his hands wide, catching the tip of Laura's breast with his thumb.

Rodney watches her body tense and shudder and John's eyes gleam at him from across the room. He circles his own nipple and then spreads his palm across his chest. Laura likes his hand against her breast and John's still watching him, still waiting for the next instruction. Rodney knows what Laura feels like in his hand, warm and heavy and sweet. She sighs against his mouth and grinds harder against him and he knows that John's feeling that now, that John's weighing her breast and hearing her voice in his ear. John's mouth is on her ear, kissing and biting and whispering dirty things -- Rodney's sure they're dirty even if he doesn't know what they are -- but his eyes are looking across the room and there's no question who he's looking at.

Rodney puts aside the wineglass he never thought to set down and lets his free hand wander down over his hip, take a long, lingering sweep over the front of his pants, and slide down between his legs. His palm cups over the curve of his cock and he wonders if John can tell from so far away that Rodney is gloriously, achingly hard for both John and for Laura. He thinks it must be pretty obvious and spreads his fingers, stroking his balls and the creases of his legs and back, back.

John's eyes go dark and he shifts so that Rodney knows he's pressing between Laura's legs just as Rodney's pressing between his own. Rodney slides his hand up and rubs a steady stroke, up and down and it's a little faster than he usually goes for, but it works for Laura and John's mirroring his every move.

Looking at John means looking at Laura and he can see clearly when the urgency hits her, when she starts working herself hard on John's hand and when he shifts his gaze, Rodney can see John's fingers between her legs, working her from front to back through her pants. John says something in Laura's ear and she crashes against him and goes slack. Rodney can't see her shudder but he remembers the fine, liquid shiver of her muscles coming down.

John strokes her back, gentling her like a spooked colt. He mouths kisses into her hair, his eyes fixed on Rodney the entire time, and Rodney can't help but think how fucked up they all are.

Scene V: Darling Nikki

I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine
She said how'd you like to waste some time
And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind
- "Darling Nikki" originally by Prince, cover by the Foo Fighters

"I remember this song from the first time around," John says in Cadman's ear, mouthing its shell. Her body presses perfectly up against his, every curve sliding against him, and as long as he keeps his eyes closed, they might as well be the only two people in the room. "Years ago. In Texas."

"You weren't old enough to be in a place like this," Cadman says, sliding her hips with the beat, her voice pitched only for him.

"No, but I was a juvenile delinquent with a fake ID and dirt on all the airmen on base," John counters, running his fingers down her side. He finds the hollow behind her ear with his mouth and kisses her there, waits for the shiver to slide down her spine, and then presses his teeth against the skin. "You can have sex on a dance floor like this." It's an old story, one he's nearly forgotten, and if he were in his right mind, it would stay that way.

"Did you?" She asks like she already knows the answer.

He presses open-mouthed kisses down the side of her throat, sliding his hand over the smooth skin of her stomach. He feels the warmth against the inside of his wrist. "In the dark," he whispers, half-hoping she won't be able to hear him, "it's pretty damn easy to slide your hand up someone's thigh and under her skirt." And once his hand was there, he remembers, it was pretty damn easy to realize just how different men and women were under their clothes.

"This song," he continued, pressing his palm to her hip and drawing it slowly across her waistband, fingertips brushing her thighs, "was playing, and I'd drunk more than I ever have before or since." The last isn't true but it was the last time being that drunk had gotten him anything nearly that nice.

Cadman's hands flatten on his thighs, drawing down and he feels his pants pull tight over his hips. The pressure feels good -- great -- and he strokes his fingers across her stomach right along the top of her pants. "It was hot," he went on. "She put my hand between her legs and showed me what to do." John puts his mouth on Cadman's neck, slides his fingers just inside her pants and whispers, "And I got her off, right there on the floor with a thousand people dancing around us."

Cadman breathes in short, shallow pants, her weight entirely on his chest. She presses her hand over the one he's sliding inside her panties and draws both upward, the message unmistakable.

Too much.

So there are boundaries he thinks with more smugness than regret, wrapping his arms around her in a hug and kisses her neck to let her know he doesn't mind.

He does mind, he's heavy and feverish and he wants to have sex. It would be good with her, enthusiastic and fun, and she'd probably want to be on top. But she's not who he wants, and they both know it. He's not who she wants either, but she has Carson, wherever he is. This is something else entirely.

She flushes a little and turns in his arms, smile rueful.

"What about you?" she asks, pressing close. The weight is on his chest, not his cock, which wasn't nearly as satisfying.

"She took me outside," he says, suddenly wanting for breath. He knows the rules, he knows how far outside -- in direct violation of -- regulations this is, and he wonders how he got to this place, where he makes out and grinds against his own subordinates, and it doesn't even feel wrong.

"Did she -- touch you?" Cadman breathes. "Did she suck you off?"

"Yeah," John says, his voice suddenly AWOL as Cadman rolls her hips against him just right. "I just leaned back against the wall and...she went to her knees...and... I saw stars."

Cadman mouthed along his cheekbone.

"When was the last time you saw stars?" she asked, voice hoarse.

"Last week," he says, like this is a normal conversation, the kind he's allowed to have, and he shouldn't tell her this. This is over the line and he's marching forward recklessly. "After I saw you dancing with Rodney. He made you come right here on the dance floor."

"You liked that?" she asks, her eyes wide and golden.

"It was hot." He spreads a hand on her ass, making her muscles tense. "I spent days trying to figure out how he did it. I spent hours imagining how it felt. I thought I was going crazy."

"He's in love with you, you know," she says quickly, without the lassitude of their earlier conversation.

"Rodney? No." John shakes his head. "He's...he's got a crush or something."

Cadman lays her hand on the back of his neck and brings his forehead down to hers.

"He's watching us right now," she says in a voice so low and intense, John's cock twitches. "There's an acoustical anomaly he found when we were setting up the Room. It's five feet to your left and if I had you standing in that spot, he would have been able to hear every word you said."

John's mouth goes dry and his ears ring with the tinny guitar chords under the thumping of his pulse. "Why didn't you?" he asks, gritting the words out through a closed throat. "Didn't you want him to hear everything we said?"

"He doesn't get freebies," Cadman says, leaning up and biting John's lip. "And neither do you."

Scene VI: Spin, Spin, Sugar

I want perfection - I'm real need,
I've seen attention - see through me,
I'm everyone - sticks in me,
I'm everyone - sticks with me,
Call on me - spin spin sugar
- Spin, Spin, Sugar by The Sneaker Pimps

John's not looking for Rodney. He's not even sure what Rodney's schedule is. Some people come nearly every night, some people once a week, some -- he's sure -- don't even know the Room is there. He's never seen Carson and he doesn't ask Cadman -- this is her respite more than his and he's got better things to do in the Room.

He's late tonight, kept in Rodney's lab until all hours, sitting in the command chair and making it tilt back and up again. They spend the balance of every day in close proximity and Rodney has made no allusion to what happens in the Room.

John's stripped off most of his weaponry -- he can't not wear the sidearm in his leg holster in Atlantis -- and come to the Room in cargo pants that don't fit any better than the original issue and one of the dozen black t-shirts.

The music catches him as he steps through the door, resetting his pulse and pushing an easy glide through his hips. He sees Cadman across the room, dancing with someone blocked to him by the crowd. She smiles at him and tilts her head. He responds with a slow beckon and she rolls her head back to her partner. John starts to dance, aware that he'll have a partner as soon as someone builds up their courage, if Cadman doesn't get there fast. He's not used to dancing alone but except for her, he never stays with one partner for too long.

She comes out of nowhere, tucking up to him and he fits his hands to her hips in their usual position. Cadman wraps her hands around his wrists, holding them in place, and this is new. He raises eyebrows at her and she smiles. He should have known he was in trouble.

New hands land above his, curling around her waist and canting her away. John looks up and finds himself face to face with Rodney. Rodney is counting the beats -- John can almost see his brain working behind his eyes -- but he's on tempo and that's really kind of a surprise. As John watches, Cadman drops her head back on Rodney's shoulder and they kiss, deep and hot. Maybe it's because he's watching from the outside, but John thinks it's different from when he and Cadman kiss, it's something more. Rodney lifts his head and Cadman's lips move in some message to him, something John can't make out. She smiles and closes her eyes, still sandwiched between them. The latent arousal that lasts his tenure in the room and several hours afterward ramps up instantly, his comfortably heavy cock stiffening into a full erection.

John looks up at Rodney and finds his face tense and wary. It takes him until now to realize that Rodney is cutting in but Cadman's hands are still tight on his wrists and now she's looking at him, too.

Then she leans in close and kisses him, tasting like coffee and rough, bland Power Bar. She tastes like Rodney.

John's breath stutters out of him. He knows what she's doing and he loves her for it. She lets him pull his hands away and he uses them to tilt her head up, bracing her face with his thumbs as he sweeps his tongue inside her mouth. He hunts for every trace of Rodney she still holds, because that's what she's offering, and he's dizzy with it when he finally releases her mouth, letting her guide the increasingly light kisses as they part.

Cadman turns to Rodney and kisses him, reaching up to take Rodney's face in her hands. The room spins around John and it might well be empty but for the three of them. Him, and Rodney, and Cadman guest-starring as the only way they can be doing this.

Her back is to him now and he closes what little distance there is, wedging her between Rodney's body and his own. Rodney's hand is on her neck, his palm under her chin. John lifts his own hand to his neck and it doesn't feel the same. Rodney's drawing off of Cadman, eyes bright and drunk with lust, mouth wet and trembling.

John doesn't take his eyes off Rodney as Cadman turns her head and drags a kiss from him, slow and wet and teasing, then presses it to Rodney's lips. Rodney doesn't break eye contact as Cadman nibbles lightly as his wide mouth. Her teeth press in lightly, scraping along his bottom lip and then she shifts between them and presses butterfly kisses to John's. She's pulling them closer and closer, or maybe their own better-than-magnetic attraction is doing the work for her.

They're breathing the same air, warm puffs of carbon dioxide that don't quite manage to replace oxygen when John reaches around Cadman to puts his hands on Rodney's shoulders, trapping her between them. Rodney's body is warm under his shirt and John can feel the muscles of Rodney's arms under his hands. He squeezes to make sure Rodney pays attention this time, to make sure he hears what John is telling him. He meant what he said to Rodney that first night in the hallway and it's not his fault Rodney misunderstood.

Their eyes meet over Cadman's head and John is very clear about his intent when he says, "I don't want this not to matter."

Scene VII: Dance, Dance

Dance, Dance
We're falling apart to half time
Dance, Dance
And these are the lives you'd love to lead
Dance, this is the way they'd love
If they knew how misery loved me
- "Dance, Dance" by Fallout Boy

They're playing a dangerous game. John knows it but he can't seem to stop. He lasts each day only to get to the end, wanting to go to the Room so he can fit up against Cadman, watch her kiss Rodney, and then taste Rodney in her mouth.

He bites gently at his bottom lip, watching Cadman and Rodney make out in front of him. He tastes coffee and lip gloss and waits for his turn.

John hates waiting. He's good at it, but he never wanted to be. He brushes Cadman's hair away from the back of her neck and kisses the flushed skin at the top of her spine. Rodney slides his hands around to cup Cadman's ass and John feels them against the front of his thighs, just inches from his dick. He's already hard and feeling Rodney's hands, knowing how close, what a tease, makes him ache.

Finally Cadman turns and presses her mouth to his, falling immediately into the long, open-mouthed kiss Rodney had really wanted to be giving him. She kisses him in time with the music.

He groans as he takes what's his, tensing as she grabs his ass with both hands, squeezing the firm muscles and that's in time to the music as well. He brings his hands to Cadman's breasts and rubs his thumbs over the nipples as he kisses her. He's touched her like this before but he'd really like to be touching Rodney instead. Cadman drags her mouth away and smiles at him so knowingly he feels dirty.

She turns to Rodney and runs her hands up his sides, leaning forward to kiss him as she teases his nipples through his shirt. John presses up behind her, watches them go hard and visible beneath the fabric, and licks his bottom lip. Rodney's brow is furrowed and he has to be hard. There's hardly enough space between him and Cadman for John to see but he recognizes the expression on Rodney's face when he breaks the kiss. He looks up at John and turns Cadman between them so she's facing John and then Rodney reaches around and tucks his hand between her legs.

Cadman flushes as Rodney strokes her, his hand busy and precise but his eyes fixed on John. After a moment, she looks up at him, too, same dazed, challenging expression on her face, and she fits her hand over the hard swell of his cock, completely undisguised by the line of his trousers. He sucks in a hard breath as her hand massages him, her grip firm and sure.

Then she twists away from them both, her hand squeezing John's, distracting him from Rodney's face, Rodney's eyes, Rodney's mouth. She has hold of Rodney, too, and she's pulling them both into the crowd, toward the far wall. John very deliberately does not look at Rodney and gives himself up to Cadman's whims. He's surprised to find that the Room twists into a honeycomb of alcoves and hallways. She shimmies through a doorway, dragging them behind her, and down a dark hallway to an adjoining room. The door closes almost invisibly into the wall and with a stray thought, John makes sure it locks. The music is still audible through the walls and the lights that came on when John and Rodney walked in -- he thinks the gene therapy worked on Cadman, but he can't remember right now -- are low and warm.

She gives Rodney a push toward a piece of furniture that might be an oversized chair or a small loveseat. John sits on the opposite sofa, tense, alone with Rodney and Cadman.

"It's still the Room," she says, raking her hair back from her forehead with her fingers. She looks from Rodney to John and back, then straddles Rodney's lap to kiss him. John watches Rodney's hands run over Cadman's ass and down the back of her thighs. He palms himself through his pants, a steady, reliable pressure before Cadman slides off Rodney. He lets his hand fall to his leg before either of them witness his concession and then Cadman crawls up on his lap.

He smiles and lets her push his head back. She lays kisses on his chin and throat before pressing sweetly at his mouth and John watches Rodney for as long as he can. Rodney looks flushed and anticipatory as if he doesn't know what's going to happen but thinks he'll like it anyway. At least that's how John feels as he runs his hands up Cadman's thighs, runner's muscles hard under her tight pants. She's heavy, pressed against his cock, and starts to grind her hips in a figure eight against him.

"If you can't touch him," she murmurs, tongue darting wet against his ear, "If you can't let him satisfy you." She takes the point of his ear between her teeth and slides her tongue along it before drawing back and taking his face in her hands. The color is high in her fair cheeks, even in the poor lighting, and her eyes are feverish. She kisses his mouth, long and deep, and it feels like a benediction. Permission to be as fucked up as he needs to be.

Cadman rolls off him without warning, collapsing onto the cushions beside him with a deeply happy sigh. John's view of Rodney is unobstructed and his entire body surges when he sees Rodney's hand pressed between his legs, just as John's was minutes before. He makes as if to move it and John speaks without thinking.

"Don't stop on my account."

Rodney's eyes go wide and dark and he very deliberately moves his hand back into place. John finds himself nodding. "Don't stop there on my account, either," he says in a voice so low and harsh, he nearly doesn't recognize it as his own. He's flush and breathless with his success and he needs the pressure of his own hand. He draws it up slowly, watching Rodney fumble with his button fly and plunge his hand greedily inside. John presses a slow, hard stroke, with the heel of his hand and traces a slow circle, watching Rodney fall into a rhythm inside his shorts.

"C'mon, Rodney," Cadman coaxes, and for the first time, John can hear a needy edge in her voice. She hikes one foot up on the sofa and hugs her knee to her chest. "It's not like I haven't seen it before."

Rodney flushes red and John says, "What?" without thinking, turning his head to look at her. He got shut down at her waistband and Rodney --

"I lived in his body for two days," Cadman said reaching out and squeezing John's wrist to keep him from moving his hand away. "Had to take a leak sometime." Her voice shifts, sinking into honeyed, pleading tones. "Please, Rodney? Let us see?"

John looks back at Rodney to see blue eyes fixed on him and Rodney's mouth tucked in tight. Ball in his court. He's always been good in competition. His free hand makes short work of his fly and Cadman releases his other wrist so he can fold his pants back. He didn't bother with boxers after his shower and he's glad because now he's got his cock in hand and he's looking right at Rodney.

Rodney's mouth is moving but no sound is coming out. John draws his fist all the way down to his stomach and back up, waiting for Rodney to catch on. He does, all at once, scrambling to get his pants far enough down and then untangle his boxers from his hand, which hasn't released his cock during the entire struggle. It would be easier if he just let go, but John has sympathy. He wouldn't want to let go either.

Finally, Rodney frees his cock and John's breath stops in his throat. He squeezes himself at the base to stay calm and lets himself stare. He'd go crazy trying not to. Rodney's not extraordinary, neither exceptionally large or small, oddly shaped, or wet. But there's something about him that makes John's eyebrows rise in the hallways and his brain shift into fifth gear, and Rodney's cock is all just a package deal with that. John draws his hand slowly forward, the ring of his thumb and index finger sliding up the head, and he's definitely in overdrive.

"I can leave if you want," Cadman whispers hoarsely in the dark room and John's mouth goes dry. He's already forgotten she's there with them and yet he doesn't want to be left alone with this, with Rodney, with his brain engaged at breakneck speeds. He can hear her draw deep breaths through her mouth. "But I'd really like to watch."

Rodney's gaze shifts and he makes a sound John might have mistaken elsewhere for pain. "God, Laura," he says, clearly on his way to babbling. "No, stay, stay. Just. Oh, wow." Rodney squeezes his eyes shut and arches against the back of the loveseat he's sitting on, his fist jerking out a steady rhythm around his cock.

John almost can't tear his eyes away from Rodney, but after his reaction, he needs to see Cadman. She's still curled up next to him on the sofa, strands of hair clinging to her cheek, but her hand is in her pants and her knee's in the way, but he's sure that she's fingering herself. He bites back a harsh groan, the unbidden image of Rodney fingering her flashing in his brain. The Room's not all fantasy fulfillment after all. He's not ever going to see that.

He turns his attention back to Rodney, who is licking his palm and switching hands for the home stretch. Rodney is staring at John's cock again, mouth open and eyes glazed. John picks up his pace again, squeezing harder, adding more pressure as he watches Rodney back. This time, he's aware of Cadman shifting on the seat beside him, her breathy moans and the soft, soft sounds he dares not think too much about.

Rodney comes first, fingers slicking as he arches and pants. John watches the gleam spread over the back of his hand and feels the waves of tension build from his extremities and center inward. He wants to reach for Cadman, just so he doesn't have to come alone, but she's off-limits, the gap between cushions a continental divide. Instead, he locks gazes with Rodney and brings himself off in seconds.

John falls back against the sofa as his own come spreads over his hand. He reaches out blindly with his clean hand and finds Cadman's neck, tangling in her hair and rubbing her pulse with his thumb. He can't tell if she got off or not, but she shifts against him, and the next thing he knows, Rodney is sitting on the other end of the sofa and she's sandwiched between them and he thinks that this really would be a very bad time to just go to sleep.

Scene VIII: Leave

I longed for this to take me,
I longed for my release
I waited for the callin'
To leave, leave
- "Leave" by REM

John spreads his hand low on Cadman's back and wonders why it's so easy with her. He can touch her, under her shirt, callused against her skin. He can spread his fingers and feel more if he wants. She got herself off sitting next to him on a giant Ancient futon and he can still remember the smell of her on her hand. But he can pass down orders and take reports from her with no problem and if the camaraderie is a little easier between them and if Cadman's mouth turns up a bit in moments when she's at ease, it feels just the opposite of awkward.

Rodney makes him awkward. Rodney doesn't even acknowledge what they did, his full attention devoted to work or a mission, or mortal terror. It's John who is thrown by everything, muscles tensing when Rodney breaches his personal space, stomach sinking to hot lava. Sometimes, if his attention wanders, he sees Rodney sprawled out before him, gripping himself. Then he needs to find something to do on the other side of the city before Rodney notices that the loose-fitting uniform pants aren't quite loose enough. He thinks Rodney knows anyway.

John has managed to avoid the Room for a week. The first night was strategic retreat -- they'd gone too far, he needed a step back. The second night he started to think maybe they hadn't gone far enough. He can touch Rodney in his fantasies, so he allowed himself that much. The third and fourth nights were spent offworld in a mud hut with Ronon and Teyla and Rodney and John made scrupulously sure that his attention did not wander.

Three more nights of attempted sensibility and John is back in the Room, stripped to his t-shirt, pants, and boots. He goes running without a weapon, he tells himself, and he can go dancing without one too, even as his hand twitches down his thigh. The Room is dangerous in ways bullets and steel can't defend against.

He finds Cadman right away and to his relief she touches him first. Her hands are smaller than Rodney's, but quick and strong and precise as they stroke across his stomach and slip around the back of his neck. The skin there tingles and the short hairs at his nape rise in anticipation. Her mouth is warm under his but also solid, there.

The beat of the music is already pulling him under, dragging him away, and he thinks that maybe if Rodney were here, right now, John could reach across the empty space between them and touch him. Run a palm up under the sleeve of his shirt. Fold a thumb over his bottom lip and into his mouth. Press his own mouth to Rodney's neck.

Cadman runs her fingers into the hair behind his ears, knitting them at the back of his head and dragging them down over the tense muscles of his neck, digging in her thumbs and popping the painful knots there. He tilts his head up and in the flash of a strobe, he sees Rodney standing by the door.

John can't move. Rodney's right there, not five yards away, and John is frozen in place, blood pounding at every pulse point, body hard and tense. Rodney's too far away, out of reach. There's more than an arm's length between them.

"Rodney?" Cadman asks and then, without waiting for an answer, "Go to him." She presses her mouth to his throat, a shock of warm and wet that doesn't break his inertia.

Rodney's eyes are wide and determined, leaving the rest of his face to show his fear. John knows he should break this trance and make a decision, choose a path and end the game.

He waits too long.

There's a flash of something sad in Rodney's eyes and then he turns and disappears through the bright square out to Atlantis's hallways.

That's the impulse John needs and he moves Cadman aside, brushes past her, and reaches the door too late.

Rodney's out of sight.

He turns back to the Room, blinking away the white spots left on his vision by the glare of the hallway.

"What just happened?" he asked Cadman, who is standing next to him, arms crossed. The mood is broken and he's the John Sheppard he recognizes -- confused and hopelessly out of his depth.

The corner of Cadman's mouth twitches. "That was what we call," she says, "a failure to act."

Scene IX: Damaged

Dreaming comes so easily
Cause it's all that I've know
True love is a fairy tale
I'm damaged
So how would I know?
- "Damaged" by Plummet

Rodney keeps Laura's taste on his tongue as much as he can. He almost doesn't go back to the room after he met John's eyes and John didn't come to him. He knew there was risk with this. He knew that John had other considerations. He didn't know it would hurt so much.

He's stupid, stupid, expecting anything from Sheppard. Sheppard has everything to lose and only Rodney to gain. It's not worth it.

Laura's sympathetic, holding him, melting into his asking hands. Her body's guiding them both, keeping them to the music, holding Rodney together. He knows that he talked non-stop for the first half hour, regrets and despair and defiance lost to the angry rhythm of the bass, and while he still can't keep from talking, bitching about Sheppard has given way to telling funny stories about Sheppard and Rodney has just gotten through the bit about him not knowing the definition of 'strange' when Laura's attention shifts and Rodney turns to see who she's looking for. Before he gets far, large hands press down on his shoulders.

Rodney freezes.

"Don't stop on my account," the familiar voice growls in his ear and that totally doesn't help.

Rodney's fully hard now, arching and needy at those words and he can't catch the rhythm of the music again. He laughs because it's so absurd and John curves his hands down over Rodney's upper arms and nuzzles his shoulder.

Laura's eyes are bright and wide, anchoring him. She reaches for Rodney's hips, drags him back into the beat, just as John's hands slide onto the skin of Rodney's arms. John's wearing gloves, leather, that make the hair on Rodney's arms stand straight up. From when the environmental controls went down earlier, he thinks distantly. He'd sent John to the cold areas because he didn't want to go himself.

John's hands fold over Laura's, pushing him into the music, and for once in his life, Rodney can't keep up, so he just lets them take him with them. He's surprised when it works.

"Close your eyes."

He does, instantly, without thought or question. His mind kicks in a second too late, demanding things like, Why? and Oh, so now it's all fine and dandy, and Just because my eyes are closed doesn't mean everyone's are, Colonel. But the next instant, John's hands slide down the front of Rodney's thighs.

Rodney gasps and stutters and manages not to have an embarrassing reaction by concentrating on the math in the music. He might even be counting out loud, but no one calls him on it.

John's hands sweep down and Laura's sweep up, and even though it should be the easiest thing in the world to tell them apart, nothing is easy anymore. John's hands press up the back of Rodney's thighs, which is more erotic than he'd ever expected, and trail over his hips, when Rodney wants pressure elsewhere. Then those hands push up Rodney's back, on either side of his spine, pushing all his muscles exactly the wrong way and he never thought anything could feel so good. He's proven wrong again when leather drags over the nape of his neck and even Laura's warm hands on his stomach can't stop the shock that runs through his entire body.

Rodney feels leather at his waistband, the skim of gloves as his pants are opened. That's Sheppard, no question. Rodney can feel the width of his palm, the leather of the glove, the strong biceps at his shoulders and forearms at his ribs. He wonders what's up with the gloves -- it certainly isn't cold here anymore -- but when Sheppard slides into Rodney's pants and wraps one hand around him, Rodney decides it's time to stop thinking.

He lets Sheppard take his weight, the other man's chest solid against Rodney's back and his hips pressed against Rodney's ass. Sheppard's hard, as hard as he was in his own hand the other night, and Rodney thinks this is how it will always be between them, feelings turned to action in the dark, never anything for anyone to see.

John's other hand is on his hip and Laura's are on his chest, her fingers dancing over his sensitive nipples. Rodney can't help himself from thrusting into John's hand and the sharp exhalation of warm air on his cheek is his reward. Sheppard sets up their rhythm, matches it to the beat of the music, and Cadman follows along, pressing against Rodney's chest. Rodney hopes she's sufficient shield -- he doesn't need everyone in the Room staring at his dick -- but he doesn't open his eyes to check.

Rodney is preoccupied by John's hand jerking him off in steady, even strokes, but eventually he realizes that the rolling thrusts against his ass are contributing equally to his arousal. He rubs back and feels the stuttered gasp in his ear. Then John is really focusing, fucking him through layers of clothes they can't shed, and Rodney's body is seizing up, tremors racing along his thighs and up the base of his spine.

John twists his hand, does something that makes Rodney nearly double in half and he gasps, "Jesus fuck!" and realizes that he's been talking the entire time. Everything melts into sound and sensation and Rodney's no longer sure who is laughing, who is growling, who is whimpering high and needy. He reaches back, wanting something solid to brace against, something solid to hold onto, but as usual, John is impossible to reach.

But then John moves, and he's right there, so Rodney curls his fingers around John's thighs and hangs on because this ride is better than any roller coaster he's ever been on and John is pushing him right over the crest.

Rodney comes, pressed immobile between John and Laura. The pulsing beat of the music returns to his ears before he realizes that he's lost it, and he finds Laura's arms under his hands and her hand on the back of his neck, pressing his forehead against her shoulder.

"Can I open my eyes now?" he asks, lifting his head.

"Yes, Rodney, you can open your eyes." Laura sounds like she's laughing at him, but when he does unclench his eyes, there's only a smile on her face. "Are you all right?" she asks, touching his cheek.

"Yes, yes, of course," he says, nodding, eyes scanning behind her, then turning his head. "Joh- Colonel Sheppard. Where -- ? That was him, wasn't it?" He hears his voice pitch higher and stops talking before it can crack.

"Yeah," Laura said. "It was him."

And Rodney knows without being told, that now he's gone.

Scene X: Better Luck Next Time

I'll magnify what you say and
Test the implications
It could be you or it could be through
Before it even begins
I'm a fish swimming without fins
Better luck next time
- "Better Luck Next Time" by the Scissor Sisters

"Rodney's mad at me," John confides to Cadman, nuzzling his face in her hair.

"McKay? Really? How can you tell?" she drawls back, circling her thumb down the side of John's neck. It gives him goosebumps, even with the heat of the Room and Cadman's body.

"I haven't seen him here," John says neutrally, as if he hasn't spent three nights waiting. "And he belittled my intelligence four times on the last mission."

His last words hang between them a little as Cadman's hand slows on his neck. John realizes his mistake instantly.

Rodney isn't keeping everything in the Room.

Heat flares in John's stomach, low and angry. It's none of Cadman's business anyway and John doesn't mind if Rodney sulks a little harder or a little longer than most people. A few extra verbal jabs hit warm and heavy in John's heart and remind him of the knife-edge satisfaction of Rodney limp against his chest.

"Hey," Cadman says, interrupting his thoughts. Her eyes crinkle at him. "Don't look so serious." Her fingertips trace the sleeve of his t-shirt. "I'm going to grab something to drink. I'll get you something, too."

"Water," he says because the air in the room is hot and thick, but his words are swallowed by the music as she slips into the crowd, away from him.

John closes his eyes and tips his head back against the wall. It's oddly comfortable and he wonders if it's because it's Atlantis or his scale of relativity on comfort is skewed.

He arches his back, arching into the music, until the kink in his back from the day's mission stretches out. It feels good to get rid of that and then, with only the slightest change in the air for warning, something heavy slams him back into the wall, knocking the breath from his lungs.

His arms are pinned to his chest and it's the only reason he gets his eyes open before he lashes out.


John taught him this hold and John knows the countermove but he hesitates. He wants to see how this plays out because Rodney hasn't been in the Room in three days and also because Rodney looks very, very pissed off.

"Long time, no see," John says, because the mission that day and dinner the night before and the briefing and the debriefing and the staff meeting all don't count because they weren't in the Room.

Rodney gives him a look that clearly says, And whose fault is that? and maybe, Longer for me, since I had my eyes closed when you walked out. John wonders just when he learned to interpret Rodney's expressions so eloquently.

Rodney pushes and then drags and when John's feet catch up with the rest of him, he's in an alcove in the back of the room, shoved up against the wall and blocked from the rest of the room by Rodney's body. He glances up at all the oblivious people behind them and thinks that someone could commit a murder here and there wouldn't be a single witness.

"I really need to reevaluate security here," he mutters only barely aware it's out loud.

"Shut up," Rodney says and then shoves his hand down the front of John's pants.

John shuts up, swallowing hard as Rodney gets his hand around John's dick. He's hard, has been since Rodney manhandled him into the alcove, and a few short strokes get him really ready to go. He reaches down because Rodney hasn't even unbuttoned his pants and he needs more room. Rodney grabs John's wrist and pins it over his head.

John chuffs out what air is in his lungs and pleads, "Rodney, at least undo -- "

Rodney twists his wrist. Sensation rockets through John's body, cutting off his words. He would drop to his knees if Rodney wasn't pinning him to the wall with one hand and both legs. Rodney's face is close and he's frowning, tight and intense and John has to look away.

He looks over Rodney's shoulder, sucking his lower lip into his mouth to hide the fact that Rodney's jerking him off against the wall, but no one notices. Everyone's going about their own distractions, leaving John and Rodney completely unobserved. It's the alcove, John realizes, as Rodney's palm skates hard over him, dragging upward. It's situated to disguise them and wow, those Ancients had a kinky side after all, didn't they?

Rodney picks up the pace and John braces himself against the wall. Rodney's hand is quick and competent in his pants and the odd callus rubs at him when he least expects it. He wants to crawl out of his skin and right inside Rodney but he can't get out of the corner. He's trapped and thrusting and over Rodney's shoulder, he sees Cadman, looking around for him, a drink in each hand. He thinks about calling out to her but Rodney's squeezing and he's having a hard time finding his breath.

Maybe she feels his eyes on him, or maybe she hears him gasp, but she turns slowly in a circle and spots him. Her eyes widen and her head tilts and he finds himself thrusting a little harder against Rodney. She smiles at him and winks slowly, then slides out of view, leaving him alone, alone with Rodney, this Rodney he doesn't quite know.

"Say something," he tells Rodney, rough and deep in his throat. "Talk, Rodney. Talk to me." He's never known Rodney not to have something to say, something to talk about, and he can't help but remember when the roles were reversed, when it was his hand slick around Rodney's cock and Rodney's pleas spilled from his lips in a constant stream.

Rodney stays silent and Cadman is gone and John feels strangely abandoned, jammed up against the wall, his orgasm building inexorably in his thighs, his ass, the small of his back. Tiny involuntary tremors tell him that he doesn't have much left in the way of time or control and he has to make Rodney talk before he comes.

"Rodney," he groans. "Rodney, talk, please, talk to me. I -- I -- " He tries to lean forward, reaching to kiss Rodney's face, but his position is rotten and he can't get traction anywhere. His hands skitter over Rodney's shirt, glancing off skin before he has to balance himself with the walls again. Rodney pushes his palm silently over the head of John's cock and John gasps for air. "Rodney, just fucking say something, please!" he begs in Rodney's ear and comes all over Rodney's hand. His body snaps forward, shoving into Rodney's hand, into his stomach, into his unsteady arms. "Rodney," he whispers, collapsing against the wall, feeling drained of everything holding him together.

"I'm sorry," Rodney says dumbly, mouth slack. He reaches toward John's face but stops when he realizes his hand's messy. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have -- " He brings his hand to his mouth and sucks off the worst of it, his eyes still pleading with John.

A hard, dry shudder wracks John's body and he shuts his eyes against the sensory overload.

"Rodney," he gasps as a warm, soft hand cups his face.


He opens his eyes and looks right into Cadman's worried face. Of course it's her, the hand on his face is much too small to be Rodney's. He looks over her shoulder and even summons the effort to turn his head.

"He's gone," she says. "He's giving you a taste of your own medicine."

John wonders how someone can sound rueful and reproving all at once and straightens his knees, dragging himself away from the wall. His thighs are cramped and his knees throb. The muscles in his arms have forgotten how to relax and his lower back feels compacted. Worst of all, he realizes as he rolls his shoulders, is that he's wet and half hard and shudderingly sensitive inside his pants. The walk upstairs -- the walk anywhere -- is going to be uncomfortable.

He's bone-weary and sick, so sick, of being John Sheppard.

"I don't get it, Laura." He's never called her that before. In his head, she's always been 'Cadman' even when Rodney calls her Laura. "What does he want?"

"He wants you, John," she says as if it's something everyone's known but him. "He just wants to be with you."

Scene XI: Comedown

I don't want to come back down from this cloud
taken me all this time to find out what I need
- "Comedown" by Bush

Rodney lifts his head to see John over Laura's shoulder, coming to join them. His palms go immediately clammy and Laura notices.

"John?" she mouths to him and he had time to nod once before the man in question sets one hand on her hip and pulls her back against him. His eyes fix on Rodney, though, and Rodney meets them bravely, pretending his heart isn't trying to pound its way out of his chest.

John's gaze doesn't waver as the music dies and the next song starts, thick and sweet, lying over the room like honey. He reaches out, his bicep brushing Cadman's cheek, and lays one hand on Rodney's shoulder, palm burning through the thin t-shirt. His hand curves down under the ridge of Rodney's collarbone and for a moment, Rodney forgets Laura's even there.

She turns her head, opening her mouth against the inside of John's arm, and rolls her head back for him to kiss. John lets her pull him down but keeps his gaze on Rodney as she sweeps her tongue through his mouth, and then releases him, her hand trailing down his throat in an affectionate farewell.

She leans forward, obstructs his view of John for a bare second, and Rodney feels her lips, hot and dry, on the corner of his mouth.

"You're on your own," he hears her say and he doesn't mind because the look in John's eyes tell him that it's time and three's a crowd. She twists away from him, kisses John's mouth the same way, and murmurs something in his ear. Then she slips away, leaving a two-foot gap as the only divisor between Rodney and John.

John's eyes are dark and shadowed in his face and Rodney's mind runs a million miles a minute with possibilities and guesses and damage control. They're not alone, they're nowhere near alone, and Cadman, their buffer zone, has run off. John doesn't believe in the safety of the room and Rodney is waiting for him to let go.

Instead, John drags his fingers down Rodney's neck, hooking in the collar of his shirt and tugging. For probably the first time ever, Rodney's body responds before his brain does, moving closer with the motion. He steps forward on watery knees, into John's palm.

John's teeth press into his lower lip and Rodney thinks his eyes must have held the same terrified resolution when he flew poor, fated Puddlejumper Number 3 toward the Wraith hiveships. It's the look of a man leaving behind everything he's held to be true.

John takes the last step, closes the last foot between them and then they're fitted together, everything aligned perfectly. Hips, thighs, dicks dressed to nestle right alongside each other, and Rodney's stomach is a little convex just where John's is concave. Rodney marvels at what a remarkable example of human engineering they are in tandem.

John lifts one hand to Rodney's neck, blinking when he makes contact with Rodney's skin. It can't be the first time John has laid a rough, callused hand on Rodney, flesh-to-flesh, but maybe it is, because Rodney can't remember losing his breath so quickly and completely like this before.

John presses a thumb into the dip at the base of Rodney's throat. Rodney draws a deep breath, the movement pressing his collarbone against John's thumb as he inhales. John waits until Rodney exhales warm air across his mouth and then pushes his thumb up. A slow press over skin, skimming deftly over Rodney's Adam's apple and up against the soft flesh under his chin. He pushes and Rodney goes with it, letting John tilt his head away to the side.

Soft hair brushes his forehead, then his cheek as John lowers his head. John's mouth presses into the junction of Rodney's neck and shoulder, his stubble a faint, unsatisfying scratch on hypersensitive skin.

Rodney's cock surges and he gasps, untethered, into the dark, vibrating air. He feels like maybe he swallowed a few musical notes and depends on that image to keep himself under control.

John's mouth presses again, higher, closer, this time. Rodney lays fluttering fingers on the back of John's neck and feels the shudder of breath against his carotid. John's other hand settles tentatively on Rodney's side, not to steady Rodney, Rodney realizes with a dual rush of power and tenderness, but to steady himself.

Rodney turns his head back, looking for more skin, finding it as the side of his face presses John's. The friction of John's five o'clock shadow -- although it's now more of a two-in-the-morning shadow and it takes Rodney the better part of a week to develop this much beard -- rakes hard into Rodney's skin and finally starts to alleviate the itch that crawled in there two weeks ago. He opens his mouth in relief, gasping a little against John's face, and feels the kisses at his neck go open-mouthed and wet.

Rodney's breath comes faster than his words for once, air puffing out as he murmurs John's name and other things lost in the music. John's mouth is on the curve of his jaw and his words come faster than his breath for once, but they're the wrong words.

They're all wait and hold on and shit and can't believe this and sorry.

"What, no," Rodney says, as John draws his mouth away and presses his hand against Rodney's damp skin. "What are you doing? Are you freaking out because honestly, at this point, you need to just shut up and deal with it."

But John is holding his radio and who the hell brings their radio to the Room? He holds it to his ear and his voice in the microphone is too low a growl -- the lieutenant colonel voice in the Room -- for Rodney to understand. But he understands the jerk of Sheppard's head, the resigned quirk of his eyebrows, and the quiet longing in his eyes.

They're needed, outside the Room.

Scene XII: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Can't explain all the feelings that you're making me feel
My heart's in overdrive and you're behind the steering wheel
Touching you, touching me
Touching you, God you're touching me
- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness

Not in the gateroom. Not in the labs or Elizabeth's office or the jumper bay. Not in his quarters and not in John's, although that might have been too much to hope for. He has knocked on Cadman's door and gotten no answer.

John stands in the entrance to the Room and scans the few people remaining. Rodney's near the back wall, all arms and barrel chest, leaning back against Cadman. She's sitting on a table, her legs hooked loosely around his waist and her hands squeezing his shoulders. His eyes are closed and his mouth is always, always moving.

John strides across the room determinedly, oblivious to whatever music is piping softly -- softly for the Room -- through the sound system.

Cadman sees him coming and smiles, unhooking her legs and pushing Rodney upright.

Rodney opens his eyes and stares dumbly at John.

"With me, McKay," John says, then reaches out and wraps his fingers around Rodney's bare wrist. The skin feels feverishly warm and dry, so good under his fingers, and there's no resistance when John walks out of the room.

The lighted hallway is cool, quiet, and bright in John's eyes. He takes one deep breath and turns on Rodney, dropping the captured wrist. He doesn't waste time, doesn't give Fate a chance to spin them away.

He takes Rodney's face in his hands and pulls that gaping mouth against his own. It takes a minute to penetrate, for the thought to fully realize. He's kissing Rodney and it's so shatteringly good, his knees buckle and nearly fail.

"Oh, God, oh, God," Rodney pants as he grabs John and hauls him upright. "You idiot, we had, we had every, oh...every opportunity. You could have done this weeks ago."

"I am not," John growls between kisses, "going to hide...in a room...to pretend...that what we do...doesn't matter."

Rodney moans and whimpers into his mouth, noises that sound like agreement. John drags himself away from Rodney's mouth and stares at him. Wide, pleading eyes, red face, wet, slack mouth, and John thinks he's never been so hot for someone.

"Now are you ready to go upstairs?" he asks, the words surprisingly easy.

"Oh, my God, what a stupid question," Rodney replies, frantically tripping over his words. "Of course we're going upstairs."

With that, Rodney latches onto John's wrist and drags him into the transporter and out into the living quarters. John just laughs, lets Rodney drag him, and even though there's no one to see, he wouldn't care anyway, because Rodney McKay dragging Colonel Sheppard through the halls by the wrist isn't even anything to speak of anymore.

John stops at his own quarters and curls his arm in, making Rodney stumble against him. He grins and drags Rodney into his room, then presses him right up against the cool metal alloy of the door. He slides up against Rodney, close, as close as they were in the Room hours ago.

"John," Rodney says quietly -- for Rodney -- and wraps his arms around John's back, taking his weight.

John exhales against Rodney's neck, which is warm and smells like Rodney. He cups his hands around Rodney's hips and presses a gentle kiss to the notch of Rodney's collarbone.

"I'm going to suck you off," he says against Rodney's skin, because God knows Rodney deserves it after all the shit John's put him through the last couple months. "I can do it here or I can do it on the bed." He slides his fingers under Rodney's shirt, feeling warm skin.

"For God's sake, do it on the bed," Rodney gasps. "Your knees are going to go soon enough as is with all the crazy running you do." Then he tangles his fingers in John's hair and pulls his head up to kiss.

John pushes Rodney's shirt up under his arms because he's tired of so many barriers between them, but can't bring himself to break the kiss. Rodney does it for him when air becomes a consideration and drags his shirt the rest of the way over his head.

"We have to get there, first," John manages before Rodney grabs his face and kisses him again. He curls his hands around Rodney's biceps, feeling the muscle twitch and roll under his palms. He pulls awkwardly, trying to steer Rodney toward the bed.

Rodney is scrabbling at his shirt, trying to press skin to skin and John would like nothing better. His shirt, washed soft, feels scratchy and irritating nonetheless. Rodney's hands against his back are heaven and if it feels that good to him, it should feel that good to Rodney. He palms Rodney's pectorals, feeling the nipples hard against his callused fingers. He sweeps his thumbs down Rodney's sternum, slowly spanning fingers over ribs.

Rodney wrestles his mouth just far enough away to ask, "Why can't I turn the lights down?" and John replies,

"Because I want to see you." They both know who wins that battle of wills.

Rodney shudders against him and drags them both back, fists wrapped in John's shirt. He pulls back abruptly and yanks, and John is lost in the dark tent of t-shirt tangled over his head. He pushes Rodney blindly, down to the bed, and hauls the shirt the rest of the way off, casting it aside.

John kneels between Rodney's legs, nudging them wider with his knees. The button goes easily but he has to be more careful with the zipper and then he can peel Rodney's pants back, open them to the air, to his mouth. Rodney's still wearing his boxers but John finds him in the rumpled cotton, drawing his thick red cock out of the placket of his shorts.

"John," Rodney whispers.

John doesn't look, isn't ready to see Rodney's face. Rodney's face doesn't hide a thing, never has, and John can already feel the desire and wonder and everything else they have humming between them. Seeing it all laid out on Rodney's face would just be too much.

Instead, he leans down, slides himself flat, and puts his mouth on the head of Rodney's cock. It's warm, skin-soft, salty on his tongue and then heavy against the roof of his mouth as he slides down the shaft. Rodney makes a sound and John puts his hand on Rodney's hip to say, Yeah, yeah, I'm right here with you. He strokes his thumb in the hollow of Rodney's thigh and draws his mouth up to the tip of Rodney's cock and then slides back down again. He lets his tongue trace the underside, teasing under the head, and sucking just a little, just enough to make Rodney squirm.

The silence echoes in his ears as he works, no music, no voices, no obscuring noises, just the odd quiet of his room and Rodney's rising gasps.

Rodney's cock fills John's mouth, his hip fills John's hand, and John finds himself gasping a little as well. There wasn't enough air in the Room and there's too much air in this room. He just can't seem to get to it. Later he thinks. He has other things to worry about now. He rubs against the mattress because he's hard and that's all he has and he can worry about that later, too. He could touch himself with his free hand, but he's not inclined to split his attention.

Rodney's still dressed mostly, which is stupid, and means John didn't plan this well at all. He presses his hand against the inseam of Rodney's pants, which brings him into contact with Rodney's balls through two too many layers of clothes.

He grunts in frustration and goes to pull off so he can strip Rodney down properly, but Rodney says, "No, no, John, wait, I'm -- I'm -- " and thrusts into his mouth. John slides back down over him, taking Rodney deep in his mouth, and swallows, just in time to catch the first taste. Rodney whimpers and pants as he comes, saying John's name over and over. It's all John can hear, far away -- as if he's underwater -- as he closes his eyes and swallows and strokes, and sighs.

When Rodney quiets, John pulls off and drags Rodney's pants down his legs. The boxers are more difficult, they're twisted and damp and stuck to Rodney, but John manages them anyway and soon they're on his floor, too. He dares a glance at Rodney's face, and finds Rodney beaming at him in undisguised joy and, well, smugness. He's still Rodney and that might be the biggest revelation of the entire night.

"Hey," he whispers, pushing himself upright and crawling over Rodney's leg to sit on the edge of the bed. He's fully hard in his pants, uncomfortably restrained. "You okay?"

"I am fantastic," Rodney says, heavy-lidded and cheerful. He reaches over, slides his hand up John's leg and settles around the visible shape of him. "You should be fantastic too," he said, stroking is thumb up the side and making John shiver. "Talk to me. Tell me what you want. We can do anything. Really."

"Do you -- " John draws his hand down Rodney's thigh, watching the hair stand up under his touch, and giving Rodney every option to put tonight on his own terms. "Do you want to turn over?"

"No," Rodney says, his voice smug with certainty. "I want you to fuck me face-to-face."

John's breath chokes up in his throat because Jesus! "All right," he hears himself say because he can't deny Rodney anything, not when Rodney's cock is soft against his leg, still wet from John's mouth.

He hops off the bed, over Rodney's leg, and yanks at the fastenings of his pants. They fall down his legs as soon as he gets them open and he kicks them aside.

Rodney sits up and reaches out and hooks a hand around John's thigh. "It's so hot when you go commando," he says, drawing John over. He lowers his head and John feels lips and tongue on the head of his cock.

"Rodney," he whispers, stroking his fingertips over Rodney's wispy hair.

Rodney pulls off slowly, incrementally, with a light close of his lips. Too light to be a suck, too dirty to be a kiss. John has no words for what's happening between them.

"I have," he says and his voice breaks. He tries again. "I have things."

Rodney's hand slides off his leg and John takes that as permission to open his bedside table and find the little tube of gel and a condom packet.

"You don't need this, you know," Rodney says, picking up the condom packet. "It's expired anyway."

John sits on the bed and kisses Rodney's stomach. He slicks up his fingers as he goes, finding the cap of the tube by touch and smoothing the familiar stuff over his knuckles. He pushes both in at once, stretching Rodney quickly. The little grunt Rodney makes is reassuring and, of course, the words pouring from his mouth make up the best barometer of all.

"Yes, that's good, fine, hurry already, do it."

John leans up to kiss him, to crush the words between their mouths. His arm isn't quite long enough so he slips his fingers out and strokes his own cock, a little more lube making it slick enough. Rodney's still holding the condom packet so John puts his clean hand on Rodney's.

Rodney's fist clenches under John's hand and he says, "I want you, you idiot."

John nods and sits up, finding a comfortable position on his knees, and then he touches his cock to Rodney's skin, slides down until he knows he's where he wants to be, and pushes forward.

John closes his eyes as Rodney's body takes him, tight and hot. The angle's all wrong and he slips his arms behind Rodney's knees, hauling him up a little more, and Rodney totally cooperates by hooking one leg over John's shoulder. John wouldn't have given him credit for being so flexible.

Rodney's mouth is open but for once no words are coming out. He lifts his hips a little, a non-verbal signal that he's ready for more, that he needs more. He's not hard, but his eyes are bright with arousal and John's seen that expression too often in past months and done nothing about it.

He rocks his hips, a quick pull partway out and a sweet slide back in. Rodney's breath hitches and he tenses around John and suddenly it hits him. They are really here, they are really doing this, and this is really happening. He moves, finding the rhythm quickly, easily, and settling in, fucking Rodney in quick, even strokes, his gaze fixed on Rodney's face.

Rodney moves with him as best he can, and runs his hands over John's chest, his shoulders, his biceps, and even, once or twice, through his hair. He doesn't speak, his eyes wide and his mouth trembling and that tells John everything he needs to know.

John's not going to last long, not after everything leading up to this, not after blowing Rodney first, not after this oddly sweet, silent coupling. He loses his rhythm as quickly as he'd gained it, quick and steady devolving into hard and desperate. Rodney's body clenches around him even though Rodney's not coming and that pushes John into a hot, blinding burst of pleasure, all the tension drawing up from the back of his thighs and the base of his spine pushing through him, contracting his muscles, stealing his breath, and temporarily blinding him.

Rodney's hands are tight on his wrists, keeping him from collapsing. He works his way out slowly, Rodney's leg slipping down his arm, and he rolls to the side, untangling himself reluctantly.

"It would have mattered," Rodney whispers, warm breath against his eyelids.

John opens his eyes and lifts his hand to trace fingertips along the downward slant of Rodney's mouth.

"Always did, McKay. It always did."

The End

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