Warnings: Spoilers for 4x09 Miller's Crossing. Kind of a tag. UST
Disclaimer: Not mine, do not own.
Summary: John has rules to keep him from falling into deep when it comes to Rodney. They don't always work.
A/N: Um... angsty. Not nearly as angst-y as it was going to be, but angsty nonetheless. And the ending isn't exactly happy. I know, a first for me.
The official rules go something like this:
John doesn’t love Rodney.
At least not in any verbal way, in no way with words and if there are words than they’re stilted, jittery and awkward sounding. He’ll say things like ‘in the way a friend feels about another friend’.
And people take this at face value, really they do because what else are they going to think. They’re friends, that much is clear even if they do pick on each other and bicker more than any two people alive.
People see their actions clear enough, the ones that say John would do anything to keep Rodney safe and vice versa and John wonders how they don’t know, how they can’t not know when sometimes it’s staring them straight in the face and he wants to punch himself for being so…obvious.
But people don’t see it that way.
People see Colonel Sheppard being the hero and the martyr and the one that’s always got to be suicidal for his team. They see Doctor McKay being brave and growing up and saving the Pegasus Galaxy single handedly.
They never see the undercurrent.
It’s there. John knows it’s there considering he’s one half of said undercurrent. He wonders if maybe someone else might see it. If the team knows.
He doesn’t wonder if Rodney sees it. He knows Rodney sees it.
He doesn’t think about Rodney naked.
Never, not randomly, not well in passing in his head, not when he’s jerking off.
He’s actually stopped himself sometimes. It only happens when he’s tired, when they’ve saved the day yet again and his mind just goes into autopilot. Just starts thinking about Rodney and his mouth and the downward curve of it. Just starts thinking of the mouth on his body, on his skin, kissing and sucking and leaving wet trails.
Just starts thinking about what Rodney would sound like and how he’d move and the way Rodney would feel all around him, engulfing him, being too close and not close enough at the same time.
Its right about then that he stops himself, which is hard, really because hello, masturbation, but really, John’s done this all before.
(Only not really, but it’s easier to say that then anything else.)
He doesn’t even let himself think about guys anymore, which would suck, but he’s just being careful. He starts thinking about any hot guy and suddenly the six pack abs disappear into something softer and the stylish hair turns into something thinner so he doesn’t think about guys.
(This part is actually easy because he doesn’t really want to think about any other guy, but he doesn’t like to think about that either.)
Most of the time he just blanks his mind, a task he’s grateful he learned even if he doesn’t remember learning it, and just feels. Feels his hand sliding and stroking and pulling until he’s coming, on his hand and all over himself and if in the final moments, right before, his mind flashes bright blue instead of white, he can’t be held responsible.
He’s pretty sure that would stick anyway.
He tries not to touch Rodney more than is necessary.
They touch of course. They have to sometimes. Sometimes John has to push Rodney out of the way of some bullet or bomb or whatever. Sometimes Rodney needs to get hit in the head. Sometimes John just likes to touch him.
Sometimes… sometimes Rodney will linger to long, his fingers touching the bare skin of John’s hand and no one else will notice that it’s too long, too much and sometimes Rodney will look at him with those eyes, the ones that’ll never be good at poker and damn him if that isn’t one of the reasons John kind of likes Rodney more than he should.
(Not love, never love, even if it really is because it can’t be.)
John looks away first, he always does and he pretends like it doesn’t bother him, pretends like he hadn’t even noticed, pretends anything so Rodney will stop looking at him that way because he knows, he knows why and John shouldn’t have to explain it to him anyway.
(It’s utterly selfish, but no one ever said John was without his flaws.)
When that happens, when it’s done and Rodney does look away because he always does after awhile, he likes to take a jumper out and fly.
(Only if there’s time because sometimes there’s imminent danger and threat and lives at risk and there isn’t time for anything, not one little thing and Rodney’s fingers fade to the back of his mind where they belong.)
He’ll fly the jumper until the sky doesn’t remind him of Rodney’s eyes, till he can’t feel Rodney’s fingers on his skin or see Rodney’s face in the back of his eyelids.
Sometimes it takes hours. Sometimes he wishes he could always be out there.
Aliens never make them do it.
There have been times, rare, but times, when the natives of the Pegasus Galaxy says kiss or die or something like that.
The first time it happened, Rodney had looked at him, almost hopeful and John had panicked.
(He’d also thought about it for half a second. Thought about Rodney’s lips on his own, sweet and warm and wet and Rodney’s mouth is wide and John thinks he’d be a good kisser and it had surprised him how much he’d wanted to.)
Instead John had grabbed Ronon and had kissed him, chaste and quick and he’d taken Ronon by surprise otherwise John thinks Ronon would have probably knocked him out.
Rodney had gotten the picture. He still gets the picture and anytime they ask, he lets John deal with it.
Not that that’s a comfort.
He doesn’t get jealous of Katie Brown.
He really doesn’t. It’s actually not hard for him not to. He just thinks about who Rodney is around her, who he becomes and John’s all for maturing as a person, but it’s so typically not Rodney, not the Rodney he wants anyway, that it just doesn’t bother him.
Katie can have that Rodney. John doesn’t really want him.
(Which is also a lie because John thinks at this point he’d take any form of Rodney as long as it was still Rodney in some sense. If he could have him anyway.)
She doesn’t have the upper hand anyway and John can prove it.
“You wanna play chess tonight?” He asks, innocently and it has nothing to do with the fact that Katie’s sitting with them— this is rare, very rare.
Rodney looks up, nods and smiles.
Rodney looks over at Katie and John doesn’t look, just keeps eating because Katie’s talking to Rodney and John has a rule about not listening to their conversations.
(It’s not one of his big rules, but it’s a rule.)
“I thought… because it’s my last day before the Daedelus and all, that we’d… that we would spend some time together.”
Rodney frowns, almost noticeable, but not if you weren’t looking very closely.
“We can. We will. I’ll just play chess with Sheppard after.”
John resolutely doesn’t do a happy dance in his head. Not even a little.
(On some level he feels sorry for Katie because she can’t see the undercurrents. Not like Teyla can, who just looks at him in a sad sort of way that makes John feel sick about the whole obvious thing again. Not like Ronon, who looks at him like Earth people are weird and stupid and strange.)
“Oh, okay.” She says, fake happy smile plastered to her face.
Really, it’s not his fault that she just doesn’t know.
It won’t kill him if Rodney dies.
This one is the hardest and the easiest to skirt by because who on Atlantis wouldn’t be in deep shit if Rodney were to die. Atlantis needs Rodney. That’s it. End of story. It’s not about John at all even if John does sometimes reap the benefits.
Someone has to tell Rodney this though.
John gets that their jobs are hard and dangerous and people die and he shouldn’t think about it this way, but in a lot of ways Rodney isn’t just people.
But he gets into trouble just like everyone else and when that happens John wants to touch and maybe be touched and he wants it all with Rodney, more so than during those scattered moments that John rarely allows himself to have. He wants it so bad that his skin burns and his fingers twitch, but the only physical indication of it is an unpleasant frown on his face.
(Teyla says his eyes get watery, but he never actually cries and John tells her that his eyes just always look like that. She never seems to believe him.)
He knows Rodney wants it too. He’s better at hiding it then John would have thought, but they’ve been playing around with this for years and John just knows.
But it will play out like this.
“Next time I give an order, I want you to obey it.” John will say.
He’ll leave off the please and the Rodney whispered in that too desperate tone that John hates and only breaks in his throat when he’s around Rodney.
“Well maybe I would if your orders weren’t stupid.”
Rodney will leave out the ‘my god how could you do that’ and the ‘are you okay’.
He’ll even stop himself from touching.
“It doesn’t matter what you think about them. They were orders. You’re supposed to listen to me out there, McKay.”
McKay, it’s always McKay after something like this, never Rodney. Never Rodney. No matter how much he wants to and how loud the chants of please are in his head.
“It worked didn’t it. No one died. Everyone’s alive and no one had to bravely commit suicide to make it happen.”
People just like to listen, which is a good thing because John thinks if anyone were paying attention, if anyone were looking they could see it all written on Rodney’s face, could see his need to keep John alive and keep him from doing things he deems stupid to keep John from dying.
It’s in his eyes, in the eyes looking straight at John trying to convey the message, trying to tell John that it would kill him if John died.
John knows the feeling even if he tries to keep himself from having it.
The thing is, Rodney likes to break John’s rules, likes to make John break them.
Especially the last one.
Rodney can’t die, he can’t and John knows it’s just as much for Atlantis as it is for his own sanity. Because John can’t lose Rodney. It’s a constant, should be a proof or something monumental because he may protest to Rodney not meaning as much to him, but he’s pretty sure everyone’s heard that old adage.
You tried to kill yourself, he wants to say, you tried to kill yourself and leave me here all alone and thinking about you and your damn hands and you were going to leave me.
Instead he says this.
“I am too. Who's been lying to you?”
He doesn’t say that he’s good looking, but Rodney’s Rodney. He’s expressive hands and wide eyes. He’s pale soft skin and sarcastic humor. He’s everything John wants and nothing John can actually have.
They can’t talk about this; John’s surprised Rodney talked about it as much as he did because Rodney knows the rules. But again, Rodney likes to break them every once in awhile.
He doesn’t want to think about it. He’s already rationalized it to death and its fine. It’s all just fine. Wallace was the bad guy looking for redemption, looking to not kill an innocent wife and mother and John’s right. He just presented the situation.
It had nothing to do with Rodney.
(Except that it did and it does and it always, always will because John can’t and it’s his nightmare, it’s the world gone black and dark and bad and John thinks it might actually kill him if Rodney died, but he never, ever says anything.)
He’s just doing his job as team leader.
And then suddenly Rodney’s stopping, dead in his tracks and John has the sinking feeling that it’s going to be one of those moments that Rodney breaks the rules again. He keeps doing it, this time especially and John thought they’d moved past it with the earlier conversation.
“It’s a big deal.”
He wants Rodney to stop calling him that because he only does it when he’s desperate, when he wants something from John, something John usually can’t give him.
“We don’t talk about this.”
This is not some great love story. This is not some romantic tragedy, at least he hopes because he doesn’t want him and Rodney to end in double suicide. This is not the same as the careful stories told about Colonel Carter and General O’Neill.
This is John and this is Rodney and this is the way it has to be and it can never be any different no matter what the circumstances. No matter the rumors.
(But sometimes John wants it more than Atlantis. He never says anything because Rodney wouldn’t let him, but sometimes he does.)
“Right.” Rodney says.
His lips are tight and he gets it. They don’t talk about this just like they don’t talk about a lot of things, just like they let things go unspoken because they like it that way. It works that way.
Rodney may like breaking the rules, but they don’t break the big one.
He wants to say that he’d do it again, he’d do it a thousand times over no matter how wrong it seems or how immoral or whatever. He does it all the time. It’s his job.
(If he has ulterior motives, no one questions him. He’d jump in front of a gun for Rodney and call it his job. Rodney’s safe. Rodney’s alive. That’s all anyone cares about and at the end of the day it’s really all John cares about.)
They don’t talk about it.
And they’ll keep not talking about it until it stops hurting so much.