Stepping back through the
Stargate was like going back in time.
Back to a place where he
wasn't aware of Genii bad guys or shield power stats or
the Wraith. To the simplicity of a world with Ice Hockey,
Sumatra Mandehling freshly roasted gourmet coffee and plenty
of internet porn.
Sheppard seemed like he
was having the same kind of revelation. From the looks of
the army officials and scientists buzzing around them asking
endless questions, neither of them was nearly excited enough
"Dr. McKay, can you
describe to us—"
"We have a working
"So exactly how does
it function, Dr.—"
Were all Rodney heard for
hours, in various meeting rooms and labs, hundreds of faceless
scientists waving things in front of his face and asking
him questions. It was, Rodney knew, the adoration that had
been due to him for years, but since they'd passed back
through the gate, he simply hadn't been in the mood.
All Rodney could think of
was his desire to eat scrambled eggs with hash browns. His
quarters at the SGC were bare and military and he hated
them. In Atlantis he'd managed to make his room his own,
but here he felt like he was living in someone else's truly
depressing space. He lay awake all night, eyes open, and
when he did dream he was falling, snapping awake and clutching
It came to a head during
a briefing with the White House Chief of Staff. Halfway
through, Rodney found himself being kicked awake by a heavy,
booted foot. John raised his eyebrow and looked at him pointedly
and he sat up quickly. The piece of paper stuck to his face
fluttered back to the table.
"I think," said
General Hammond solemnly in his office afterwards, "That
it might be prudent for you both to have a little time off."
And that was how Rodney
found himself and a backpack standing on the side of a dusty
road in Colorado with nowhere to go and nothing to do. As
luck would have it, at that moment John pulled up in a sleekly
purring car and said, "Need a ride?"
He'd missed mountains, he decided, clutching his backpack
to his chest. The sound of the ocean had stopped being soothing
a while ago, and now when he heard that rhythmic pulse he
felt only a sense of impending doom.
In Colorado, the cold mountain
arched over them. Stretched into the distance - unmoving,
implacable, strong and reassuring. Rodney stared out of
his window, lulled by the blurring rush of sparse gray foliage.
"Where are we going?"
he asked after a little while, looking over at John's mirrored
sunglasses, at the hand resting casually on the wheel as
they rounded the rocky corners.
"Got no plans,"
John said with an easy shrug.
"Well, you must have
some kind of plan," insisted Rodney. "Or else
how will you know when you get there?"
He woke up with a gasp as
the car went over a pot hole, and realised that the conversation
had been a dream. He could still hear John's voice ringing
in his ears.
John was tapping his fingers
on the steering wheel and looking more relaxed than Rodney
had ever seen him.
"Do you ever feel—"
Rodney started to say.
"Like we're not really
here and this is all the fantasy of weird role-playing aliens-of-the-mist?"
"Sure," said John,
with a lazy grin.
Rodney opened his backpack
and pulled out a sandwich. "That doesn't bother you?
The possibility that this isn't real?"
"Feels real enough,"
said John, furrowing his brow against the low sun and staring
into the distance.
A flock of birds swooped
up into the sky and down again. Rodney felt his stomach
flutter with them. "Yes, well, so did the last time,
and look what happened there." He knocked on the dashboard,
three sharp raps, testing for consistency.
"Eat your sandwich,"
John smiled wryly, resting an elbow on the open window.
Rodney bit down. Peanut
butter. Did he remember making this sandwich or was it all
another mist-induced hallucination? He shrugged and took
another bite. Tasted real enough.
They found a motel after a couple more hours driving. John
hadn’t let Rodney take the wheel, and so while Rodney unloaded
their meagre belongings into the room, John staked out one
of the beds and sprawled across it wearily.
Rodney showered. The plastic
curtain stuck clammily to his calves, the tiles were moulding,
the water slightly too cool. It felt heavenly.
When he went back into the
room, John was asleep, curled on his side still fully dressed.
Rodney wondered whether he should cover him up or leave
It seemed a ridiculous thing
to think. They lived together for months, saved each others
lives, and yet Rodney didn't know… what they were.
He towelled his hair dry
at the window, watching a couple leave the motel restaurant
and wander towards their room. They stopped outside the
door, and when they began to kiss, Rodney covered his head
with the towel and scrubbed, hard.
He didn't sleep well that
night - he'd slept too much during various meetings and
the drive here, apparently. John's deep heavy breathing
seemed to steal all the relaxation from the room.
Rodney prodded his poached egg. It wobbled.
"Would you either eat
that or leave it alone?" John said grumpily, pushing
his dry toast around on his plate.
"This is slightly too
good to be true," Rodney said, prodding the egg again.
The yolk broke and oozed out over the bacon. Rodney felt
"Runny eggs and a splitting
headache are too good to be true?" John slid his sunglasses
onto his nose.
"I don't have a headache,"
Rodney said, wrapping his hands around his amazing, wonderful
fresh black coffee.
"That makes one of
us," John muttered.
"So," Rodney said,
pulling out the map he'd bought at the reception desk. "Where
are we headed today? I noticed that a few miles back the
way we came there is a wonderful—"
John pulled the map out
of his hands and tossed it over his shoulder, into the booth
behind. "No maps," he insisted. "We're here
Rodney glared. "How
can you possibly relax without a firm plan in place?"
Sheppard raised his eyebrows.
"Because I'm not totally anal?"
"Ok, fine, Mr. Free
and Easy. We'll do it your way and have no plan, no structure,
and get lost and never find our way back again, thereby
forcing the Nobel people to give me my award posthumously."
John grinned, sliding out
from the booth and tossing some notes onto the tabletop.
John seemed to relax with the driving. The faster he went,
the looser his shoulders became – in direct inverse proportion
Rodney distracted himself
by looking out of the window at the passing scenery. And
even though it was mostly a case of: oh look, a mountain.
And another mountain! Oh, and hey, there's a mountain! it
didn't really get old.
He let himself drift, and
slowly felt himself falling asleep. John was singing along
to the crackling radio as it faded in and out between stations,
slightly out of tune, and Rodney could feel his seatbelt
digging into his cheek.
They'd brought lunch with
them from the diner, and they pulled the car into the side
of the road by a flat expanse of wooded land.
"Oh, great, I'm going
to get mistaken for a bobcat and shot," Rodney said
sourly, pulling out his cold cuts, bread and his almost-empty
thermos of coffee.
John, leaning against the
side of the car, clapped him on the shoulder and grinned.
"Don't worry, Rodney, I'm sure the misty beings wouldn't
do that to you." He stole a slice of Rodney's ham and
tipped his head back, watching the sky. "Besides, I
don't think it's bobcat season anyway."
Rodney laid his jacket on
the ground, over the yellow scratchy grass and sat down.
"Oh, like you'd know."
They drank in the silence.
It was so quiet, so vast that you could almost hear the
clouds moving across the sky.
"What I want to know
is… If this is all not real," said Rodney, scuffling
to flick a bug off his sleeve, "whose fantasy is it?
Yours or mine?"
John lowered his hand from
his eyes as the sun went behind a cloud. "You never
know," he said lazily, with an edge of sarcasm. "Maybe
they decided to be really efficient and we're both in the
Rodney shook his head jerkily.
"I mean, realistically this is probably your fantasy,
because you get to hang out with me. Clearly, I would not
choose to spend my time risking my life with your death-defying
driving," he took a bite of bread and chewed, thinking
it over. "In which case, I wonder what the real me
is fantasising about right now? I mean, I could be having
sex with Pamela Anderson or something."
John raised an eyebrow.
"You'd fantasise about having sex with Pamela Anderson?"
Rodney scowled uncomfortably.
"You know what I mean."
John grinned and stuffed
his hands in his pockets.
That night, the motel room sign was right outside their
bedroom window, lighting up their room like fireworks, so
Rodney couldn't sleep again. It flashed on and off all night:
John was snoring slightly
in a highly obnoxious way, and Rodney spent the night huffing
and turning over loudly in an attempt to wake him up. It
On day three John decided to veer off the main road, and
they found a lake with a pebbly shore. Rodney fell asleep
in the sun beside it, and John skimmed stones.
Rodney dreamt they were
back in Atlantis. A cool, empty Atlantis, filled with water
like a swimming pool. The top of the gate peeked out from
the clear ripples, and Elizabeth floated past with long
hair like a mermaid.
John drifted up to him and
put a cold wet hand on his shoulder, smiling. Even though
they were in the gate room, Rodney could feel the open sky
Rodney woke up slowly. The
zipper on his jacket was digging into his cheek where he
was using it for a pillow. John's hip was next to his face.
He listened to the sound of wind brushing through the leaves
on the trees.
"I don't think I've
slept so much in my entire life," he said, dry-mouthed.
John handed him a bottle of water.
"You were talking in
"Oh," said Rodney,
sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "What did I say?"
Sheppard looked at him solemnly.
"Well, let's just say I had no idea you felt that way
Rodney rolled his eyes.
"No, honestly, Rodney.
I think you two will make a lovely couple," he grinned
and shifted his feet on the pebbles.
That night, Rodney drank four glasses of wine with dinner,
and stumbled back to the hotel room with John's arm around
"I'm perfectly fine,"
he insisted, stumbling into the room and sitting down heavily
on the bed. John went into the bathroom and switched on
the light, spilling a square of white over Rodney's bed
and into his eyes. He groaned and put his arm over his face.
He had a vivid dream that
night. They were being stalked by the Wraith, who had found
earth, but were waiting to reveal their presence until they
had murdered John and Rodney first.
Their heavy tread moved
carefully through the motel parking lot, along the hallways,
skirting the other rooms. They were about to break the door
down on John and Rodney when—
shook his shoulder firmly and Rodney sat up, breath heaving.
"Hey, it's ok," John said, palms on Rodney's shoulders.
"It's fine, we're safe."
Rodney made an effort to
slow his breathing, and looked around the room. John had
snapped the light on, and the dull fluorescence made everything
look very ugly and very cheap and very very non-threateningly
said, eyes wide. "God, sorry. I don't know what's—"
"Hey, it's cool."
"No, it's not, I—,"
Rodney looked down at his hands, then at John's easy posture,
sitting there casually. "We have to be back there the
day after tomorrow."
The smile faded from John's
face. "I know," he said. "More briefings."
"Elizabeth will want
us to go through applications for staffing our teams."
"And we'll need to
start making preparations to return – supplies, weapons—"
"I need to update my
John looked down at his
bare feet. "I need to go see Ford's family."
looked down at John's feet as well. It seemed bizarre to
be discussing this when everything in this room was so mundane,
right down to the ugly, patterned carpet. "So what
you're saying is…"
"Tonight and tomorrow
night and that's it," John said, eyes meeting Rodney's.
"Then back to—"
"The real world."
"Yeah," John breathed,
and kissed him.
John's lips were dry, his
eyes closed, palm coming up to cup Rodney's jaw. It was
as slow and languorous as the past few days, like lying
beside that lake listening to the water gently lapping against
John pushed Rodney back
onto the bed and Rodney locked an arm tight around John's
neck, pushing his tongue into John’s mouth, giving something
back. John tasted like coffee, rich and dark and heart-racing,
and Rodney felt like he could never have enough of him.
Wanted, in that moment, to taste all of John. To turn him
over, pin him down and slide his mouth from John’s arching
neck to the soles of his feet.
John's body pushed him into
the lumpy motel mattress, hot breath ghosting over Rodney's
upper lip as he groaned, a hand in between them pushing
up under the warmth of Rodney’s t-shirt, nails teasing his
ribs, making him shiver.
gasped, and then moved, urging John onto his back, climbing
over him, sliding a knee between John's.
Briefly, Rodney wondered
if this was another dream. A vivid, surround-sound, porn-movie
dream. John arched under him, his free hand skimming Rodney's
side, pushing under the elastic of his boxers, sliding his
palm slowly downwards.
"Not that I'm easy--"
Rodney gasped, "But why didn't we do this straight
John sat up, Rodney straddling
his hips, and tugged his t-shirt off over his head, leaving
his hair in even more disarray than usual. Leaning forward,
he pushed Rodney’s t-shirt up over his belly and leant in,
pressing biting kisses to his stomach. Rodney rested his
hands on John’s shoulders.
"Because you're not
that bright?" he mumbled against Rodney’s skin.
Rodney only got out "Hey!--"
before John shut him up the most effective way possible,
by sliding a hand deep into the waistband of Rodney’s boxers.
“Oh—oh, okay,” Rodney said
absently. “That must be it.”
John tugged Rodney’s boxers
down around his thighs, and Rodney only had a second to
feel embarrassed before he felt John’s hand teasing his
cock, brushing lightly over the tip. He looked down at messy-haired,
sleepy-eyed John and closed his eyes, wondering how he made
it to this place, after everything that had passed.
He felt John’s hands cup
his ass and urge him up and he lifted himself on to his
knees, not realising what John was doing until he felt his
dick slide wetly along John’s cheek, and glanced down to
see John lean back slightly and then take him in his mouth,
John’s cheeks flushed and
hollowed, and Rodney almost came at the sight. He leant
his arm on the wall over the bed, leaning forward slightly,
unable to stop his hips from pressing forward, forcing John
to take him deeper, and focussed on the picture hung over
the headboard - a hideous landscape filled with yet more
mountains. The scene blurred as he felt John’s tongue curl
Rodney groaned and John
echoed, speeding up, not waiting for anything, giving him
all the acceleration that Rodney hated in his driving. It
was hot and wet and better than anything Rodney had ever
experienced, including seeing that ZPM during the siege—
Rodney closed his eyes at
a sudden lurch of remembered fear from his dream, then breathed
deep and let go, curling a hand into John's hair, running
it down over the soft skin of John’s neck, his shoulder,
Rodney felt a hand brush
the inside of his thigh, fumbling, and realised that John
was pulling himself out, gripping his cock, one hand resting
on Rodney’s ass.
Rodney wanted this to never
end, wanted to come right now, God— and felt his hips begin
to move, to thrust into John’s mouth, some darker part of
him wanting to hold John’s head still, to take his mouth
John's hand sped up and
the whole bed creaked and rustled and Rodney closed his
eyes and pictured John jerking off over him, coming on him,
coming in his mouth— and came.
He felt a warm pulse at
almost the same moment, and John groaned, the hot vibrations
of his mouth around Rodney's dick pulling aftershocks out
John held Rodney in his
mouth for a moment longer, swallowing, and then rested his
head on Rodney's hip bone.
Rodney's hand gentled in
John's hair and John pulled his hand out of his boxers,
wiping in on the side of the bedspread. Rodney reached down
and lifted the hand to his mouth, running his tongue in
between John's fingers.
John laughed against his
stomach as his fingers curled. He tipped his head back against
Rodney's stomach, looking up at him.
"Come back here,"
John said, tugging on the hand he held. Rodney shuffled
down the bed and collapsed next to him while John leant
back and snapped off the light. Rodney felt the depression
of the pillow as John laid his head back down.
They kissed long and slow
and, somewhere in the middle, fell asleep.
"If we were in the misty people's fantasy," Rodney
said that morning around his toothbrush, "They're clearly
a lot more perverted than we realised."
John came up behind him
and lifted a towel to Rodney's head, scrubbing his wet hair,
"Well they can't get laid very often," he pointed
out. "They're mist people. They must find it really
difficult to, you know—"
Rodney grinned and pushed
the towel away, hair everywhere, leaning over to spit into
the sink. "I can tell you've put a lot of thought into
John smiled, hanging the
towel around his neck and generally looking like every straight
woman and gay man's fantasy ever. "It may have occurred
Rodney turned around and
kissed him, pulling the towel away from John's hips and
palming them lightly.
"We'd be dead by now,
anyway," John said into his mouth.
Rodney frowned and pulled
"If we were in that
fantasy. We'd have died from dehydration by now. We'd be
He tucked his face into
the curve of Rodney's shoulder and inhaled, biting lightly.
Rodney swallowed and tipped
his head back. "Are you sure we aren't?" he asked,
closing his eyes.
They turned around and started driving south again, back
the way they had come. The landscape was a familiar rush
now, and Rodney listened to the radio, hummed along to the
oldies he recognised, argued vehemently with the obnoxious
and stupid talk show segment, and then calmed down when
John switched back over to the classical station.
Rodney fell asleep to The
Lark Ascending and didn't dream, and when he woke up he
felt more rested than he had in days.
That night, in their hotel
room – with two beds, out of habit – Rodney fucked John
slowly, first in one of the beds, John pulling the sheet
off the mattress, and then again in the shower, hot water
cascading over them, steaming up the room, John's bare wet
foot running up Rodney's calf.
Afterwards Rodney sleepily
insisted that this was definitely a porno flick for the
misty people, and when John asked if he was complaining,
he wrapped a leg over John's, tucked his face into John's
neck and fell asleep like a light going off.
They drove towards Cheyenne Mountain at a very restrained
pace for John, and didn't arrive until the sun was going
Rodney's stomach had been
knotting up ever since he saw the big metal gates in the
distance. As he stared out of the car window at the brightly
glowing sunset he thought about setting off, just a few
days ago. The earth that they had returned to then was not
the same place as the one they were approaching now.
This caused a mental tangent
about the possibility of alternate realities existing within
one cohesive reality, and Rodney idly plotted out a paper
on the subject as John pulled up to the white metal barriers
and flashed his ID.
He'd call it "Beyond
M-theory: Alternative realities and boundary conditions”,
he decided, as the cool interior of the mountain swallowed
"Ah, gentlemen, there you are," said Elizabeth
with a smile, waving them over. Rodney smiled awkwardly
and realised he would have to remember what it was like
to be Dr. Rodney McKay again quickly.
John, smiling and kissing her on the cheek.
"How was your time
away?" she asked, leading them down the gray corridor.
"Restful, I hope?"
Rodney was filled with a
sudden intense visual flashback to John in his dream - skin
and cold water against Rodney's mouth, John's hands - and
almost dropped his bag.
"Yeah, it was great,"
"Good," she stopped
outside a set of double doors and paused, looking at them
both carefully, steadily. It was such a familiar expression
that Rodney smiled, for real this time. "Are you sure
you're ready to get back into it?"
Rodney looked at John, a
different John to the one he had been with twenty minutes
ago in the underground parking garage – "This can't—I
mean—we can't—" and "I know" – and then turned
to Elizabeth with a broad smile.
"As we'll ever be,"
he said, shouldering his pack.
said, patting them both on the shoulder. "Well, they're
waiting for you," she pushed open the doors, saying.
"Mr President, I'd like to present Dr. Rodney McKay
and Major John Sheppard…"