The Trouble with Endothermia

by Crysothemis

Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: NC-17 (for adults only)
Wordcount: ~12,000
Summary: Sleeping bag fic without the sleeping bag.
Thank yous: To WPAdmirer and Bluster for beta above and beyond.
Notes: Not mine. This story is best read while consuming significant quantities of fine chocolate. (But aren't they all?)

"So that's it? We're stuck here? All night?" Rodney's voice absolutely did not crack on the last word, although he would have been completely and utterly justified if it had.

"Unless it stops sleeting out there or Zelenka clears one of the jumpers for gate travel, yeah, Rodney, we're stuck here." Sheppard was disgustingly calm about the whole situation, which of course only made it worse.

"I should have stayed behind and fixed them myself. I swear, he's hallucinating that glitch. He's gone paranoid, have you noticed that? Either that, or he enjoys the idea of stranding me here on Planet Icicle." Rodney crossed his arms over his chest and glowered in the general direction of the gate and therefore, by proxy, Atlantis.

"I've always appreciated a little paranoia in my mechanics," Sheppard said dryly. "I would've figured you'd agree with me on that."

"Yeah, well, not when I'm stuck in an unidentified Ancient outpost in imminent danger of death from hypothermia." With no power. That was the worst part, being surrounded by the tantalizing cruelty of an unidentified laboratory/research station/whatever it was without any way to figure out what it had been used for. "Look, the next time someone suggests a nice hike in the snow to check out some interesting ruins? Remind me to say no."

"Relax, Rodney." Sheppard leaned against one of the columns, aiming the light of his P90 at the nearest wall, which was at least away from Rodney's eyes. It was typical Ancient architecture, functional and easy on the eyes, which told them exactly nothing. "It's not that cold, and Zelenka's working on whatever's wrong with the jumpers. We'll hang out here, get some sleep, and Teyla and Ronon will be back with a generator in the morning."

"Are you kidding? I can see my breath in here." Rodney exhaled in a huff, just to prove it. "You know, people routinely die of exposure at temperatures well above freezing."

Sheppard cocked an eyebrow at him. "It's only really dangerous if you're wet, naked, or out in the wind. It's actually pretty comfortable in here."

Right. That was another thing to remember— never trust the judgment of a man who had enjoyed living in Antarctica. "I don't know about you, but somehow I forgot my cozy blanket and prescription mattress."

"Don't sweat it. We'll make do."

Rodney rolled his eyes, even if Sheppard wasn't looking at him. "Strangely enough, that's what I'm afraid of."


Sheppard's idea of making do was as bad as he had expected. In the first place, it involved sharing an MRE ("You didn't pack one?" "I was carrying too much equipment. And it's not like I don't have plenty of powerbars." "You're not eating powerbars for dinner, McKay."), and that was just . . . weird. Okay, over the course of three years they'd been stuck together in some pretty bizarre situations, but this was the first one that had actually involved sharing a spoon.

At least it was Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and not that godawful Country Captain Chicken that always seemed to pile up in the supply room. There was no candy, but the coffee more than made up for that, nice and hot in the beverage bag.

"You want any more of this?" Sheppard asked, gesturing to the spaghetti pouch with his spoon.

"You done?" Rodney said hopefully. It was cold and he was hungry and Sheppard was right. Warm spaghetti felt a lot better in his stomach than cold powerbars would have.

"I could be," Sheppard said, and leaned across from his bench to hand Rodney the pouch and the spoon.

"Here, there's some cheese spread left," Rodney offered. He set it on the end of his own bench where Sheppard could easily reach it.


Rodney wanted to wipe the spoon off, but Sheppard hadn't, so he didn't. He dug into the spaghetti— Sheppard had actually left him a fair amount of it, even if he had doused it with hot sauce— and glanced up to see Sheppard watching him with an odd expression on his face. "What? Did you want some more?" He tilted the package toward the light, only to find there was less than a mouthful left.

"Nah, I'm good." Sheppard took another bite of his cheese-smeared-bread (also doctored with hot sauce) and stretched his legs out, crossing his ankles in front of him. "You just have spaghetti sauce on your nose."

"What? Why didn't you say something?" Rodney scrubbed his nose with the back of his hand.

"Thought I just did." Sheppard reached for the heater bag and pulled out the last unopened packet. "You ready for some dessert?"

Rodney downed the last bite of spaghetti and nodded, trying to remember if the latest version of the meal was packaged with pound cake or a brownie. Then he saw the packet. "Oh, is that the cherry-blueberry cobbler? Never mind, then."

Sheppard froze with his hand half-outstretched, more nonplused that he'd looked all evening. "You feeling okay?"

"I'm fine," Rodney said, striving for stoicism and falling, okay, several meters short. "It has lemon in it."

"No kidding." Sheppard scanned the ingredient list quickly, his eyebrows lifting. "Hey, you're right."

"Of course I'm right. I memorize the ingredients whenever they come out with the new menus. It's my life on the line, here."

"Right," Sheppard said in that deadpan voice Rodney never knew whether to take seriously. Slowly, like he was knew Rodney was watching his every move, Sheppard opened the packet and took a bite. "Too bad about the lemon," he said around his mouthful. "It's actually pretty good."

"Thank you for that useful piece of information." He wasn't pouting. He didn't pout. Just because Sheppard was stuffing his face with sweets he couldn't have, it didn't mean he was jealous or anything.

Sheppard fumbled in one of his vest pockets as he took another bite and chewed slowly, obviously enjoying it. Which was downright mean-spirited of him, because there was teasing, and then there was . . .

"Here," Sheppard said, holding something out. Rodney took it warily and held it in the light to read the label. A pretty, shiny label, with words like "Caribbean" and "70% cacao" on it.

"No citrus. I checked," Sheppard said, still in that inscrutable deadpan.

This was no heat-stable Hershey's bar. This was serious chocolate. Rodney paused long enough to check the ingredients for himself— not that he didn't trust Sheppard— and tore open the bar. It melted on his tongue, fruity and rich and sinful. "Oh my God," Rodney managed. "Where did you get this?"

"I stocked up when we were on Earth. Bought the most expensive stuff I could find." He could just hear the smugness in Sheppard's voice. "Figured it would come in handy for bribery and . . . other things."

"God, it's . . ." Rodney licked his fingers, then broke off another piece. "You want some?"

Sheppard had finished his cobbler and was taking a swig from his water bottle. "Wouldn't say no."

Rodney held out the bar and Sheppard broke off a piece, fingers not even brushing Rodney's, but the weird feeling was back, worse than before, because chocolate this good really ought to be shared with a romantic partner, not just a coworker, and God, Sheppard had a smear of chocolate on his lower lip, right on the cleft in the middle, and it was a crying shame there wasn't anyone here who was attracted to him who could lean forward and lick it off.


"Um, you have, ah, chocolate . . ."

Sheppard's tongue flicked out, tracing the corners of his mouth.

"Not there." God, his voice did not sound husky. This was normal, totally normal, two teammates on a mission, having some grub in the field. "In, um, right in the middle."

Sheppard's tongue came out again, pink and smooth, and swiped his bottom lip. "Thanks."

"No problem." Rodney tried to cover by taking another bite of chocolate, which was exactly the wrong thing to do, because now he was thinking that this was what Sheppard's mouth would taste like, and after nearly three years of working together it was really, really wrong to be getting hard for his team leader. His team leader who was, hello, a man, and Rodney usually went for buxom blondes, but somehow that logic was really not working right now.

He shifted his knees, easing the strain in his pants and incidentally blocking any view Sheppard might have of the bulge, then wordlessly shoved the chocolate bar over. He didn't watch Sheppard break off a square, didn't see him slide it between his lips, didn't listen to the soft hum of appreciation. Because that would have been just wrong.

"Wow, I've got to get more of this stuff. This could do wonders for our trade relations."

"Oh, yes, trade relations. What is that, some kind of euphemism?"

The corner of Sheppard's mouth quirked up. "Don't worry, Rodney. I'll get some for you, too."

"Oh, um, okay, then."

It wasn't often Rodney preferred silence to words, but it wasn't often he had chocolate this good, either. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the flavor, rolling it around his mouth like wine, and did his best to ignore Sheppard and the happy little noises he was making. By the time they'd polished off the bar, Rodney felt, well, okay, his ass was still freezing, but several other parts of him were actually quite warm.

Sheppard had finished first and was shining his light around. "Let's go see if we can find ourselves some bunks."

It was a good thing it was dark and Sheppard was facing the other way, because otherwise there was no way Rodney would have been able to stand without embarrassing himself.


Among the many mysteries of the Ancients was why they liked to sleep in such godawful narrow beds. Rodney tested all the mattresses and chose one, not because it was any softer, but because it was the farthest from the bathroom, and without power, that was likely to get pretty rank by morning.

Of course there were no blankets. Ancients didn't seem to believe in those, either. Sheppard, being Sheppard, was unconcerned. He just dug into his vest again— how much could he carry in that thing and still have room for ammunition?— and pulled out a roll of duct tape and two small packets of shiny foil.

Rodney sat on the bunk and unbuckled his tac holster, waiting for Sheppard to do whatever he was going to do. Which was, apparently, unfold the long, thin, shiny— "What are those, space blankets?"

"Mm-hmm." Sheppard had them unfolded and was matching them up and taping them together all around the outside.

"They don't actually work, you know," Rodney told him. "I mean, sure, they may save a bit of radiated heat, but most body heat is lost through conduction and evaporation, anyway."

Sheppard looked up in the middle of ripping a piece of duct tape with his teeth and shrugged with his eyebrows. "You ever actually tried it?"

"Um, no, I mean, not in the field or anything. I was speaking . . . purely theoretically. But the theory is perfectly sound. Sleeping in a plastic bag, even a shiny plastic bag, is not going to prevent us from leaching heat into whatever surface is on the other side of that plastic, and I don't know about you, but I'm not so good at sleeping standing up."

Sheppard's mouth twitched. "Look, I'm not saying it'll be comfortable, but it's better than nothing." He smoothed the last piece of tape, pocketed the roll, and laid the plastic on the bench next to Rodney, then bent and started to untie his shoes.

"Wait, wait." There was something Rodney was missing here. "If that's mine, where's yours?"

Sheppard didn't even look up, just kept on taking off his boots. "We're sharing."

"What?" This time his voice did crack. "Is there something I'm missing here? Because we're not . . . this isn't . . ."

"You're the one worrying about surface area," Sheppard said calmly, unbuckling his belt and holster and placing them in the back corner of the bunk next to his P90.

Right, well, it wouldn't be a problem if it hadn't been for the damn chocolate. "I'm just . . . really not sure this is a good idea."

That earned him a look. "You got a better one? 'Cause now would be a good time to share it."

"Well, yes, now that you mention it, I have plenty of better ideas. Unfortunately, they all involve something called a working power source."

"You mean you can't rig a portable heater with nothing but a flashlight battery?"

Rodney made a face. "No, I can't. And I can't squeeze blood out of turnips, either. Are you satisfied?"

"It'll be fine." Sheppard shrugged out of his vest and stuck it inside the space-blanket bag, then started unzipping his jacket. "Well, come on. Get your shoes and jacket off."

"My jacket?"

Sheppard gave him one of those looks. "The emergency blanket doesn't do much good without loft; you said so yourself. We need a little airspace between our bodies and the plastic, which is why we're going to use the vests and jackets for insulation."

Damn it, that made way too much sense. "Right," Rodney said hopelessly, and bent to take off his shoes while Sheppard slid into the blanket sack. Rodney got his vest and jacket off, and it was really way too cold in here. "Okay, I guess I'm getting in, now."

"There's room." Sheppard even held the thing open for him, so he could slither and squirm his way in, and when Sheppard got the vests and jackets arranged to his satisfaction, Rodney was right up against him, calves and thighs and hips and shoulders touching, like sardines in a can.

Sheppard was still fumbling with something, one elbow digging into Rodney's arm. "Put your head over here near mine."

"What are we, Siamese twins?"

Rodney could almost hear Sheppard roll his eyes. "I need to tape the top shut. Otherwise we're going to lose too much heat from our heads."

"Aren't you forgetting a little thing called breathing?"

"I'll leave us enough room for air," Sheppard explained, none too patiently. "Just get your head over here, okay?"

Gingerly, Rodney eased his head closer to Sheppard's, while Sheppard twisted and grunted and the plastic gathered, crinkly and annoying, over the top of Rodney's head.

It seemed like it took forever. Sheppard's chest muscles bunched and released against Rodney's shoulder; Sheppard's hands kept brushing his hair. And then, finally, finally, Sheppard got his arms back down inside the blanket and stopped moving around, and that was when it all went south. Rodney's body was twisted like a pretzel, trying not to touch anywhere where he didn't absolutely have to, but that wasn't really working very well, since the breathing hole Sheppard had left was small enough that he really had to leave his head right where it was.

"Rodney," Sheppard said, in that tone he got when he was thoroughly exasperated, and then Sheppard was gripping Rodney's elbow and pulling him up onto his side, so that Rodney's head rested on Sheppard's shoulder, right up against his neck. Rodney had no idea where to put his hand, so he just left it awkwardly on his own hip, hoping Sheppard wouldn't notice.

"Look, I realize this isn't your idea of fun." Sheppard's voice vibrated against Rodney's ear, soft and low. "But at least it's not as cold, right?"

"Actually,"— yes, that was his voice, half an octave too high— "it's surprisingly warm."

"Good," Sheppard said. "Now try to get some sleep."

Oh, right. Sleep. Because sleep was exactly the thing on his mind, now that he was pressed up against a long, warm body that still smelled like chocolate, and who was he kidding, thinking he wasn't attracted to Sheppard? He was, after all, a man who believed in evidence, and right now the evidence was growing by the moment.

Rodney closed his eyes and tried to think of unpleasant things. Paperwork. People who didn't appreciate his genius. Wraith. Wraith feeding on Sheppard. Wraith feeding on Sheppard and then giving him back his life force, so he ended up looking even better than he had before.

Okay, that wasn't helping.

Sheppard sighed and shifted against him, just enough to cause a stutter of friction in exactly the wrong place, and the gasp was out before Rodney could even think to stop it.

There was a moment of utter stillness. Rodney didn't dare breathe. Sheppard wasn't moving either. Oh yeah, he knew. And not just that. He knew Rodney knew he knew.

The worst part was, Sheppard wasn't even trying to move away. He had to be able to feel it, hard against his leg.

"This is so not my fault," Rodney muttered desperately. He was so screwed. Or not screwed. Which was really most of the problem in the first place. "I'm sorry, okay? I'm just . . . okay, I'm having a little trouble getting Mr. Happy down there under control." It really wasn't his fault. The blanket, the snuggle, the goddamned chocolate had all been Sheppard's idea in the first place. "Look, this is not a normal situation for me. It's not like I usually go around sharing emergency blankets with people who are even remotely attractive. I mean, not that I personally find you attractive, of course. I was speaking purely in the abstract."

Sheppard had the nerve to almost sound amused. "You and Mr. Happy."

"Yes! Do you have any idea how long it's been since I . . . oh, well, of course you don't, because that would be utterly humiliating instead of just mostly humiliating."

Sheppard shifted again, making the stupid plastic crinkle and rustle, but he didn't manage to break contact with that vital part of Rodney's anatomy. "It can't be that long. You were dating Katie for months."

Oh, right, Katie. "Yeah, well, she broke up with me before we actually got to that part."

"Wow, you mean you never actually...."

"Not everyone's a Lothario, Colonel. Some of us are actually gentlemen."

Sheppard was silent for a moment, probably fighting down a laugh or something. "That's actually kind of impressive, Rodney."

"Oh, come on. Just because I don't immediately jump in the sack with every woman— excuse me, every ascended woman— I come in contact with . . . I mean, what kind of a kink is that, anyway? Is it like mountain climbing? You do it because it's there?"

"Now that's the pot calling the kettle black. Or does Mr. Happy have some kind of ulterior motive I'm not aware of?"

Oh, God. He really didn't want to answer that question. "I was kind of hoping you'd forgotten about that."

This time Sheppard did chuckle, low in his chest against Rodney's cheek. "It's a little hard to forget right now. Mr. Happy is busy making happy with my left thigh."

Rodney let out an undignified noise and tried to pull away, which only resulted in an elbow in his ribs and an icy draft inside the blanket.

"Easy, Rodney. It's no big deal. Problems like Mr. Happy sometimes just kind of pop up."

Rodney groaned. "That one doesn't even deserve a retort."

"Just go to sleep."

Oh, yeah, that was easy for him to say. "I'm trying! I'm just a little distracted by my utter humiliation."

"I thought you said you were only mostly humiliated."

"Not helping!"

"Come on, McKay. Close your eyes and count quantum particles or something."

Right. Rodney closed his eyes. His nose was cold, and the blanket felt paper thin— which it was— wherever there were gaps in the makeshift insulation. But every part of him that was touching Sheppard felt shockingly, marvelously warm.

He shifted his head against Sheppard's shoulder, trying desperately not to catalog the smell of skin, the rough edge of stubble, the steady, sure pulse. "It's not working."

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Sheppard growled, and space blanket crackled horribly as he moved, his shoulder coming up and his hand sliding down and then— no, oh, no, no, no— he was fumbling with the fly of Rodney's pants.

Rodney swallowed a yelp. "Colonel, you don't have to . . . oh, God." Because Sheppard's hand was inside his pants in one sure shove, closing around his cock, and that was it. Rodney was toast. This wasn't what he was asking for— hell, he wasn't asking for anything — and the angle was wrong and Sheppard's grip was a little awkward, but then his thumb kind of swiped the head and it felt like white fire shooting down every nerve in Rodney's body.

He might have whimpered a little, then, and snuffled against Sheppard's neck, because Sheppard muttered, "Hey, it's okay," and somehow it was, even though it really wasn't.

Sheppard's neck smelled warm and tasted a little bit salty. Sheppard grunted against him, and okay, he probably shouldn't have done that. Neck-licking was probably against the rules for a handjob in a shared emergency blanket.

"Sorry," Rodney muttered, but Sheppard's hand kept on jacking him, nice and steady, and he'd found a better angle and Rodney was leaking enough to make it slick, because now every stroke was a little piece of heaven. Or, okay, more like hell, but if that was the way this was going, then Rodney was hopping right into the handbasket and holding on for the ride.

The plastic blanket rustled with every stroke of Sheppard's hand, but somewhere along the way that had stopped being annoying and started being a reminder that this was real, because there was no way, even in his kinkiest fantasy, that Rodney would have imagined a detail like that.

Rodney sighed and nuzzled the triangle of skin at the base of Sheppard's neck. The line between the smooth fabric of the shirt and the rough patch of chest hair was tempting, so tempting that Rodney might have played with the zipper a bit with his teeth. Okay, that was probably skirting the rules again, only he didn't know the rules, since he'd never done anything like this.

It wasn't like he was going to ask Sheppard to stop what he was doing and explain point by point what was allowed and what wasn't.

Sheppard's hand moved a little faster and Rodney couldn't help rocking his hips to meet it. Sheppard was hitting the sweet spot with every upstroke now, doing this little twist at the end, and in a shocking moment of clarity, Rodney realized that this had to be how Sheppard liked to do himself, sweet and steady, with that damned little twist that was taking Rodney apart.

Then all he could see was Sheppard. Sheppard in his bed late at night, or in the morning, oh, yeah, naked in the shower, pulling and twisting, hunching over himself as he got closer, muscles tenser and tenser, needing relief, desperate for it. Sheppard's hair would be wet from the spray, plastered down on his forehead, and his face would be tight with concentration, brows compressed, mouth open . . . and then his whole face would go slack and easy as sweet release finally set in.

Oh God. Rodney jerked and came so hard he kicked Sheppard in the shins, so hard it was a hot flood across his stomach and all over his shirt, and probably all over Sheppard, too.

"Easy," Sheppard said. "Easy, I got you." And the crazy thing was, he did. He let go of Rodney's cock half a moment before it got too intense, but instead of pulling away he sort of slid his hand up around Rodney's back and held on, anchoring him.

Rodney closed his eyes and just breathed, while the hammering in his chest gradually slowed and the world reassembled itself into something resembling normality.

He was lying in Sheppard's arms, and he had come all over his clothes. Okay, then, so not really all that normal. Rodney slid his hand over until it brushed Sheppard's waistband. "You, um, you want me to . . ."

But Sheppard just patted his hand. "Nah, I'm good. Sleep now."

Right, okay, sleep. Even if it was wrong, even if he really should be returning the favor, here. But he could do sleep. Sleep was good. Sleep was what he was best for in his current state.

Rodney could feel Sheppard's heartbeat through the thin fabric of his shirt, and right now, that was all that mattered.


Rodney groaned. He was a very odd combination of overheated and clammy and it was clearly morning, because the insides of his eyelids were no longer pitch black. His back was sore like he'd spent the entire night in exactly the same position, and the pillow under his cheek felt like . . . Sheppard.

Oh, crap.

Rodney opened his eyes to damp black fabric, stubble, and too-shiny plastic and whimpered. He couldn't believe he'd . . . and Sheppard had . . . and God, he was sticky in some really uncomfortable places, and damp and miserable just about everywhere else.

Yeah, well, so much for the morning after. Not that he'd had any illusions last night, of course, but it felt a little different now that Sheppard's hand was no longer down his pants. He didn't know what the hell he'd been thinking— well, okay, clearly he hadn't been thinking— but really, annoying someone into giving you a hand-job was low, even for him.

"Christ," Rodney muttered, trying to disentangle himself from Sheppard's legs without throwing his back out.

Sheppard twitched and muttered something and then came awake with alarming abruptness. He propped himself up on one elbow and brought his hand up way too close to Rodney's face.

"Hang on, let me get the tape off," Sheppard said, and moments later there was an icy draft to add to their misery.

Rodney shivered. "Was that absolutely necessary?"

"You planning on spending all day in here?"

Rodney collected whatever dignity he had left, which was basically none. "Certainly not."

Sheppard sat up— letting in another blast of frigid air— and retrieved his jacket and vest from the bottom of the blanket sack. His hair was damp and flat except for one stubborn tuft sticking up at the back, and he looked . . . better than he had any right to. "Rodney?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm working on it." Rodney dragged his eyes away and groped for his own jacket and vest, which turned out to be just as damp as the rest of his clothes, if not worse. He pushed his way out of the plastic, got them on, got them zipped, and hey, that wasn't really much of an improvement.

Sheppard was on his feet already, and Rodney couldn't help himself; it wasn't really staring; it was . . . God, he'd gotten more on Sheppard than he'd thought, because the damp patch down the front of Sheppard's pants couldn't all be condensation from the plastic.

"We really need to get cleaned up," Rodney muttered, and then wished he hadn't, because Sheppard looked down, first at himself and then at Rodney, and an indescribable expression crossed his face, halfway between surprise and poorly disguised amusement.

"Right," Sheppard said, which made Rodney look down at himself, too, and oops, his fly was still undone and his boxers were gaping, and that was really just not what he needed this morning. He was yanking his pants together when something touched his shoulder, which of course made him jerk back and hit his head on the top of the bunk.

Sheppard lifted a sardonic eyebrow. "Moist towelette?"

Rodney's eyes slowly tracked down to Sheppard's hand, which was holding out one of those little packets, the kind that came in MREs. Right, Sheppard was a career soldier. He probably saved the things and carried them around with him, just in case. Rodney grabbed the packet gracelessly, tore it open, and did his best to mop up the mess.

When he was finally almost presentable, he looked up to find that Sheppard had managed to disguise the mess on his own pants— at least now they looked damp all over, rather just in the one spot. So that was it. There were no more reminders of last night's idiocy, and they could get on with whatever it was they were supposed to do, stuck in a freezing cold Ancient outpost without power.

"Breakfast?" Sheppard said, offering a powerbar, and Rodney had about eight of the things in his own vest, but he took Sheppard's anyway, because he was pathetic like that.

Yeah, okay, so there was a little more than humiliation going on here. There was apparently the active desire to humiliate himself further, and wasn't that just peachy?

Sheppard was looking at him again, chewing his own powerbar. His hair was starting to dry, now, magically transforming from flat and limp to its usual fluffy mess, and Rodney had a sudden, alarming urge to touch it to see if it was stiff or soft. He should have done that last night, would've, if he'd been thinking, since it was the only chance he was ever likely to get. Of course, that just brought him back to the point that he hadn't been thinking with anything other than his dick, and it was completely moot now, anyway.

"You feeling okay, McKay? 'Cause you're looking a little spacey."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," he managed, and was miraculously saved from further scrutiny when their radios crackled to life.

"Colonel Sheppard? Dr. McKay?"

Sheppard was on it in an instant. "Major Lorne. Nice to hear your voice."

"I've got a jumper parked just outside your front door and a naquadah generator for you, all ready to go."

"Oh, thank God," Rodney said, and Sheppard said, "Copy that. We'll be right there." And after that there was a generator to get online and climate controls to get working and coffee to drink, and then the whole business of an Ancient outpost to explore, so Rodney didn't really think about Sheppard for the rest of the day, except when he did.


Rodney really hated to be distracted. In fact, this was just the perfect reminder of why he should never have sex with anyone he worked with. The worst part was, it was happening when Sheppard wasn't even there. Sheppard was in fact in the other room, talking to Ronon or Zelenka, and there was probably something absolutely fascinating to be learned from the data in the scanner. Not that Rodney knew, because that would require actually looking at the screen.

It wasn't even the jerk-off he was remembering. It was the streak of chocolate on Sheppard's lower lip, which he hadn't touched, hadn't kissed, would never know the taste of.

Yeah, and what did it say about him, that before yesterday he hadn't even been aware of Sheppard like that, except on the usual vague and abstract level? Because sure, any idiot could see the man was hot. It had just . . . never been personal before. Apart from getting annoyed that all the pretty aliens seemed to go for Sheppard rather than him, he hadn't even thought about it. Well, okay, not much.

"Rodney, Rodney, have you figured out anything out?" Radek burst into the room with Sheppard on his heels. "Because this station is definitely intended to broadcast something."

For the fourteen-millionth time, Rodney was glad he was the smartest man in the galaxy, because it took him all of a minute and a half, now that he was actually looking at the data, to see what they meant. "Where's Teyla?"

"Teyla?" Sheppard asked, and Rodney was finally concentrating enough that he didn't even glance up to see if confused was a good look on him. Never mind that he thought it.

"I think she is outside, securing the perimeter," Radek told him. "Why do we need Teyla?"

"Because she's the one who's going to . . ." Rodney tapped his radio on. "Teyla, where are you? Are you some place you can sit down?"

"I am on the hillside outside," Teyla reported back. "Is something the matter?"

"We're going to be running a couple tests in here. You might sense something when we do, so stand by."

"I understand," Teyla said, and Sheppard said, "Keep this channel open," into his own radio, which meant he had at least an inkling of what was going on.

"Rodney, are you sure we really should— " Radek started, but Rodney was in the groove now, so close to the answer he could taste it.

"Tap that control panel, over there," he told Sheppard. Sheppard obediently tapped, and Teyla screamed.

"Off, off!" Rodney shouted, but Sheppard already had it off and was bolting for the door.

"Teyla!" he heard over the still-open com, and he and Radek followed Sheppard out into the icy cold to find Teyla slumped against a tree-stump, her face ashen.

"Is she . . ." Rodney faltered.

Sheppard's face was grim, his fingers on Teyla's pulse, and Rodney had one of those epiphanies he generally reserved for Ancient technology and wormhole physics. Because this was what Sheppard looked like when he cared about someone. This intensity, this focus, this . . .

"I am all right, John," Teyla said, blinking up at them. She struggled to sit up, and Sheppard was right there, supporting her shoulders. "We are not safe here," she said, looking from one of them to the next. "I sensed a Wraith. A queen. The most powerful queen I have ever felt." She tilted her head slowly, as if to clear it.

"Can you sense her now?" Rodney asked, and Teyla shook her head.

"No," she said, puzzled. "No, it as if she had suddenly . . . disappeared. She was very angry, and not . . . not at all sane. Her thoughts were jumbled. They went around in circles and I could not follow them. But she wanted . . ." Teyla's eyes went wide. "She wanted me to die. I believe that if I had felt her for even a moment longer, I would have."

"Rodney?" Sheppard said, and it was his accusatory voice, the one that always reminded Rodney of the time when the CIA had investigated his grade-six science fair project.

"I didn't know it would be that bad!" he protested. "I mean, I knew it was meant to be a weapon, but . . ."

"Against the Wraith," Sheppard said, and the accusing tone was modulated, transformed by the magic word, "weapon."

"Yes, yes, well the problem is controlling it. You heard Teyla. It's not sane. It broadcasts Wraith mind-speak, but it doesn't make sense. Sure, it might make some Wraith keel over, but it also might just really, really piss them off."

"So it's the Ancient equivalent of that Wraith machine that drove us all nuts on M1B-129," Sheppard said. "They were trying to reverse the whole mind control thing. Fighting fire with fire."

"Mmm, yes," Rodney said, his mind kicking into overdrive as he considered the possibilities. Could they program the broadcast message? And how portable was it?

"Okay, listen," Sheppard said. "I'm going to take Teyla back to Atlantis to get her checked out. You two wait until we're through the gate before you run any more tests. But Rodney, be careful. We don't know the range on this thing, or how it affects humans, right?"

"Right, right," Rodney said, barely hearing him. "We'll rig a few safety nets. Radek, let's go take a look at that field modulator." And then he was off and running, and it was a palpable relief to barely even notice that Sheppard was gone.


Four days of feverish work later, it was done, cataloged, transported back to Atlantis, and labeled "Last Resort Only."

"So basically," Sheppard said as he piloted the last crew home, "the Ancients were nuttier than fruitcakes."

"Not like we didn't already know that," Rodney quipped, because honestly.

Sheppard turned his head enough to grin in Rodney's direction, which absolutely did not make his heart skip a beat. "Good point."

And then Rodney was toast again, because there was just no way to fight it: Sheppard had put a hand down his pants, and it didn't even matter that Sheppard had done it to shut him up. Now that Rodney had had it, he wanted it again. And again. And at least another time after that.

For a brief moment Rodney contemplated a monumental campaign of annoyance, because he could be irritating. Hey, that was something he was good at, and if that was what it took to make Sheppard jump him, oh yeah, he was there. Of course, he'd been annoying Sheppard eight or ten times a day since that night, all without any results whatsoever. So, um, okay, maybe not.

It was late, Atlantis time, when they got back, and they'd already eaten, so Rodney checked in at the lab and then headed for his room. He hadn't had any privacy for four nights— and really, fruitcakes didn't even begin to describe a civilization that had the technology to shield just about anything, but instead made people sleep in open bunks without even blankets.

He had already stripped down to his t-shirt when his door chimed, which was really just beyond the pale. If anyone needed him, they should radio like a civilized person. Rodney yanked on his bathrobe, tied it haphazardly, and stomped to the door, ready to give a piece of his mind to—

It was Sheppard. Looking . . . like he always did, and that was just the last thing Rodney needed right now.

"Look, it has been a long day and I am very tired. So unless the gateroom is about to explode, I don't want to hear about it."

The right corner of Sheppard's mouth curled up. "Nice to see you, too, Rodney."

"Given that the last time we saw each other was approximately— what? an hour ago?— I'm not really seeing the need for pleasantries here, Colonel."

Sheppard made a face that was entirely uncalled for. "Guess that means you're not interested in this." And he held up a shiny, foil-wrapped rectangle that size of—

"Wait, you have more?" Rodney grabbed for it, but Sheppard pulled the chocolate away just before Rodney's fingers closed around it, like they were both eight or something.

"Told you, I stocked up," Sheppard said. Of course he was taller, not to mention faster, so there was really no point in lunging for it. But Rodney wanted that chocolate. No, he needed it. Needed it right now, with a desperation that was getting perilously close to slavering lunacy.

"Okay, okay. Just tell me what you want me to do for it. You have some system that needs checking out? Diagnostics you want run? You don't trust Radek with the puddlejumper maintenance? What?"

Something in Sheppard's face changed. He looked . . . tired. Of course, they all were, no one slept well off-planet, but just a minute before he'd looked . . . "You don't have to do anything, Rodney. Just be your usual sweet, surly self."

"Really?" Rodney held his hand out to see if it was a tease, but Sheppard just put the chocolate bar in it. His fingers touched Rodney's, and Rodney snatched his hand back, clenching it around the bar.

Sheppard looked annoyed again, which really shouldn't be a turn-on, but the combination of that look, the chocolate, and the fact that Rodney wasn't wearing any pants was doing dangerous things to his nether regions.

"Okay, well, um, look, whatever you want, I'll owe it to you, okay? Because I'm really kind of tired, and I should be, um, going back to— "

"Sure," Sheppard said, and then his eyes sort of trailed down Rodney's bathrobe.

Rodney manfully resisted the urge to clutch it tighter around him, since that would reveal a little more than he wanted Sheppard to know right now. "Okay, okay, good," he babbled, backing into his doorway. He held up the chocolate bar and smiled brightly. "Thanks for this."

"Anytime," Sheppard said as the doors slid shut in front of him.

Rodney wasted no time. He shucked his bathrobe and tore open the chocolate. It was exactly the same kind Sheppard had given him the last time, and it melted on his tongue like liquid velvet.

Rodney snagged a dollop of hand cream, braced himself against the nearest wall, and reached down. He was going to take it slow, make it last, spend the whole damn time imagining Sheppard's lower lip with chocolate on it, Sheppard's mouth against his, Sheppard's tongue on his cock.

Rodney whimpered and stroked. He was taking it a little fast, but he couldn't stop himself. Sheppard's mouth would be talented, yeah, just like his hand, and maybe he'd even do some kind of swirly thing with his tongue that felt a little like a twist on the upstroke.

Oh, God. He wondered if that was really what Sheppard liked, if he could figure out how to do it exactly the same way. With a little flex of the wrist and a . . . Christ, yes. That was it. Except now he wanted to be touching Sheppard, wanted Sheppard to be the one moaning, wanted Sheppard pumping into his hand, begging for more, faster, harder . . .

Shit. He was coming. Too soon, too fast, too hard, and all over his bathrobe, which was right there on the floor where he'd dropped it.

Rodney slumped down onto his bed. One last little dribble was dripping down his balls, so he reached for the handiest thing— the corner of his bathrobe, since it obviously needed laundering anyway— and wiped it up.

Oh, God, was he in trouble. He shouldn't have done that, shouldn't have taken the chocolate, shouldn't have let Sheppard touch him in the first place, but it was way too late now. Now it was a thing, and having a thing for a co-worker was never a good idea; he knew that from long and painful experience.

Not that Sam Carter was anything like John Sheppard . . . apart from being smart and an Air Force colonel and perpetually annoyed with him, of course. Their fundamental attitudes were different, and really, Sheppard put up with him a lot better than Carter ever had, which only meant he had a lot more to lose, here.

Oh, yeah. A hell of a lot more to lose.


It really was easier just avoiding Sheppard. Except that avoiding Sheppard wasn't all that easy to do, given that the man had no compunction about walking into Rodney's lab at any time of day or night.

"Elizabeth's cleared us to check out that sunspot activity on M6D-153," Sheppard announced, without so much as a greeting. "We can head out as soon as we're ready."


Sheppard was acting like it was totally normal to have set up a mission without even consulting him. "Zelenka says you're not doing anything vital, so let's go. The sooner we're out there, the sooner we'll make it home."

"Like Radek would even know," Rodney grumbled, but he finished up the analysis he was working on and shut his laptop down. "What's with the sudden interest in sunspots? I thought we'd back-burnered that one."

"Sunspots are always interesting," Sheppard said airily, which, okay, was certainly true, but Rodney had never thought Sheppard would realize that.

Sheppard was already geared up, so Rodney just grabbed his vest and data pad and followed him to the puddlejumper bay. It was surprisingly deserted. Rodney peered into the jumper Sheppard had selected, but nope, no team. "Wait, where are Ronon and Teyla?"

"Oh, they're on M7E-047 arranging some sort of trade for the Athosians," Sheppard explained. "It's not like we need them to take a few readings. We'll be in and out in an hour. Home in time for dinner."

"Right, right," Rodney said, and a few minutes later they were through the gate and heading for the planet's upper atmosphere, and he was busy getting those readings. For once Radek was right. The surface of the planet's sun was a rage of storm activity, and the implications for nearby wormhole activity were really quite interesting.

He was deep into an analysis of the data when Sheppard uttered a quiet, "Oh, crap," and the puddlejumper started losing altitude.

"What the . . . ?"

"Kind of busy here," Sheppard ground out, as he fought with the jumper's controls. "Can't really talk."

"Right, right." Rodney abandoned his solar flare models, interfaced his data pad with the jumper crystals, and fired up a diagnostic. "Oh, no." That was just not what he wanted to see. "We've lost power to both drive pods."

"I kind of noticed that," Sheppard said through clenched teeth. The jumper was beginning to shake now, and the planet surface was closing in on them at alarming speed. "Can you fix it?"

Not like he wasn't already trying to do that. "I'm trying to bypass it, but nothing's working. There's some kind of interruption in the main power distribution conduit." "Yeah, well, without power, this thing flies about as well as a Winnebago," Sheppard said. He grimaced. "I don't even have attitude control."

"I'm trying!" Rodney protested, but there was nothing, nothing— "Wait, what was that?" His monitor showed a spike just as the jumper gave a sickening lurch, then resumed its plummet.

"That was good. Give me another one of those," Sheppard said.

"I didn't do anything!"

There was another lurch-spike, and another, and the jumper kept falling, only somehow Sheppard was using those lurches— which had to be brief spikes of power to the drive pods— to slow them and adjust their heading, and—

"Rodney, head down!"

Rodney got his head between his knees and his hands up to cover his neck just in time to be bounced and jolted and wow, that was actually a pretty good landing, all things considered.

Sheppard's hand was warm on his shoulder. "You okay?"

Rodney straightened slowly, doing a quick internal check. Not even a twinge. "Remind me to install seatbelts in these things. What the hell just happened?"

"I was hoping you could tell me. That wasn't a solar flare, was it?"

"I don't think so." Rodney grabbed his data pad and checked the last measurements he'd collected. "No, no. There wasn't anything strong enough to cause that kind of power failure. It has to be a problem with the jumper itself." He switched back to the jumper diagnostic. "Huh. Maybe Radek wasn't hallucinating after all."

Sheppard was leaning over the back of his seat, way too close for comfort. "What do you mean?"

Rodney cycled through the readings, adding two and two and getting six. "Honestly? It looks like gremlins. There has to be something physically wrong, but it's not showing up here. I need to take a look at the crystals and conduits."

Which was how he ended up flat on his back under the front console, with Sheppard sitting too close again, handing him tools and helping with the diagnostics and driving him absolutely crazy, just by breathing.

"What do you say we knock off for a bit?" Sheppard said, after what felt like eons but was probably less than an hour. "We can get something to eat and rest your brain for a few minutes. Maybe it'll help you make a little more progress."

"No, no, you don't understand," Rodney said, elbow-deep in the control panel. "I'm not making any progress. There's nothing wrong here. There is just nothing that could have made us fall out of the sky."

"So, gremlins, then." Sheppard said, and he sounded almost . . . amused.

Rodney slid out from under the console and grabbed his data pad from Sheppard's unprotesting hands. "Look, it's not working, so it must be broken. But unless I figure out how it's broken, I can't fix it. That's basic reasoning, or don't they teach that at whatever military academy you went to?"

Sheppard twitched an eyebrow at him. "I went to Stanford."

"Oh, God. That explains so much."

Sheppard just smiled at him and headed for the back of the jumper. "So what do you want? Meat loaf or beef stew?"

Oh, no. No, no, no. There was no way Rodney was going to sit down and eat an MRE with Sheppard while stranded on a strange planet with nonoperational Ancient machinery, because that way lay madness. "I'm not stopping until I figure this out," he said, and flipped open the side control panel. "You can go eat or look around for things to shoot at or whatever it is you do best."

Sheppard made a face like a kid who'd just had his mudpie taken away. "Oh, come on. You have to eat something."

Rodney pulled a powerbar from his vest pocket and waved it in slightly manic triumph. "Oh, but hey, if you want to make me a cup of coffee, go right ahead."

He was checking crystals one by one— perfect, nothing wrong, perfect— when Sheppard appeared at his elbow again with a real, honest-to-God hot cup of coffee.

Rodney took it and turned back to the control panel. He didn't dare look at Sheppard, because coffee was just way too close to chocolate, and he really, really didn't need to pop a boner right now.

"Rodney— " Okay, wow, that was really almost close to a whine.


"It's late, you're tired, and we just crash-landed on an uninhabited planet. Give it a rest already."

Rodney couldn't help himself. He slowly turned to face Sheppard, who was leaning against the bulkhead, his arms crossed over his chest and a decidedly annoyed expression on his face. "Don't you have that backwards? Aren't you the one who's always telling me to hurry up before we die some hideous and excruciating death?"

Sheppard shrugged. "Look, the life signs detector says there's nothing out there. Elizabeth will notice we're gone and check in with us in a few hours. There's no emergency, okay?"

Yes, well, that was where he had it wrong. This was as bad as emergencies got. There was no way Rodney was going to have an intimate dinner with the object of his . . . thing. Because there was humiliation, and then there was this, and desperate times called for desperate measures. "You remember why we're here? Sunspots and solar flares? Well, I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend any more time than I have to in this kind of radiation. There's no telling what sorts of cosmic particles we're being bombarded with right now."

Sheppard lifted that damn eyebrow at him. "Really?"

Rodney sighed. So much for childhood drama awards. "Okay, no, not really. It's no worse than a day at the beach on Earth. But we are not going to just sit here waiting to be rescued, we are not going to share a nice cozy dinner together, and we are certainly not going to finish out the evening cuddled up together in a sleeping bag."

Sheppard was staring at him, mouth open, and oh, shit, he hadn't just said that out loud, had he?

"Oh-kay, then," Sheppard said. He reached up and scratched the back of his neck with one hand, while Rodney racked his brain for some sort of plausible deniability and came up as blank as his power conduit diagnostics.

"Um, why don't we just pretend I didn't say that, and I'll go back to trying to figure out how to make this thing fly again, okay?" Rodney gestured feebly at the control panel with his thumb.

"Relax, McKay. Your virtue's not in any danger from me."

Rodney turned away from him and poked randomly at a control crystal. "I know that," he snapped irritably.

"Of course," Sheppard said from behind him in his deadpan drawl, "I'm not sure anyone who names his dick 'Mr. Happy' can actually claim to have much virtue, but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt."

Rodney spun back around. Sheppard was still leaning one shoulder against the bulkhead, his ankles crossed. "That was a euphemism!" Rodney sputtered. "It doesn't have a name. Well, okay, I had a girlfriend who called it 'Rodzilla' once, but we only dated for a week and she dumped me for a hockey player, so I really don't think that counts."

Sheppard's eyes crinkled up. "Rodzilla, huh? Well, I'll give her points for punnery, not so much for her taste in men."

"He had a mullet," Rodney said sadly, "and no teeth."

He braced himself for more teasing, but all Sheppard said was, "You ready for that dinner?"

For a ridiculous, idiotic moment, Rodney almost said yes. But if anything, it was worse now that Sheppard had officially declared himself uninterested in Rodney's so-called virtue. Because pining over a co-worker was bad enough when there was still a smidgen of hope. When there wasn't, it was just pathetic. "No," Rodney said, and jerked back to his crystal-by-crystal tests. "Thanks for the coffee."

Rodney was completely absorbed in his fruitless task, so he didn't hear Sheppard shift on his feet, didn't hear him let out a long-suffering breath, didn't notice him stomp off to the pilot's seat. Because that would have meant he was paying more attention to Sheppard than his diagnostics, which would have been absurd. Besides, then he might not have noticed what he did to make the conduit behind the panel surge to life.

"Wait, wait, what was that?"

"Nice job, Rodney. Looks like you got the power back on."

"But I didn't . . . I was just . . . I'm still working on figuring out the problem, here. I don't know what I could have . . . unless I reseated a crystal or something. But even that really shouldn't have . . ." He checked and rechecked the data pad, but every test he ran said systems were totally normal. "I can't believe this. I owe Radek an apology. I thought he was making it all up. Of course, he owes me an apology, too, since he said he fixed the problem."

"We clear to go?" Sheppard asked.

Rodney waved his hands in exasperation. "Don't ask me. I mean, it looks fine, but how the hell would I know?"

"How 'bout I take it low and easy, just in case we have to put down again?"

"That works for me," Rodney said, and made his way to the seat next to Sheppard's.

He half expected them to crash land again, but they made it back to Atlantis without a hitch.


Rodney was out of the mess hall and brushing his teeth in his quarters before it hit him. And, okay, it really shouldn't have taken him that long, but he'd been eating with Sheppard (and Teyla and Ronon, back from M7E-047), so he'd been distracted. And in this case, distraction apparently meant rampant idiocy.

The thing was, it was obvious. There was no glitch. If there had been, Radek had fixed it. No, whatever had happened on M6D-153 was all Sheppard.

They'd fallen out of the sky, which, sure, sometimes happened with 10,000-year-old technology, but this time Sheppard had miraculously had just enough control to bring them down for a relatively soft landing. And then they'd been stuck there— for no damn reason— until Sheppard had given up whatever game he was playing and gone to sit in the pilot's seat and then, miracle again, the jumper had fixed itself.

Gremlins? Not likely. The one constant in the equation was Sheppard. The only question was, why the hell?

If Rodney had been the one orchestrating it, of course, it would have been obvious. But Sheppard wouldn't . . . Sheppard couldn't . . . Sheppard had. So either it was an elaborate practical joke, or Sheppard had actually meant to . . .

Oh, God. He had to know, had to know right now, even if it meant completely humiliating himself one more time. Rodney dropped his toothbrush, rinsed his mouth, and headed for the door. Sheppard was probably in his quarters. If he wasn't there, he'd be in the gym, or . . . oh.

Rodney froze just outside his door. Sheppard was there, right there in the corridor, leaning against the wall with one knee propped up. His head was tipped back and his eyes were closed, and suddenly Rodney was . . . okay, not sure of himself, but a little less unsure than he'd been a moment ago.

"John?" Sheppard had never actually given him permission to use that name, but it felt right anyway.

"Yeah." Sheppard's voice was tired and gravely, and he tipped his head down only slowly.

"I, um, I was just going to go look for you."

"Guess you found me," Sheppard said.

"Look, okay, you better come in," Rodney said, gesturing to his still-open door.

Both eyebrows went up. "You sure?"

"Am I sure I don't want to have this conversation out in the hallway where anyone could walk by? Strangely enough, yes."

"Right." Sheppard pushed away from the wall and made his way slowly to Rodney's room, looking around like he'd never been there before, and, okay, usually they talked in Sheppard's room, so why had Rodney never noticed that before?

The door shut behind them and Sheppard turned to face Rodney. He looked sheepish and a little defiant, like a kid who'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Look, Rodney, I— "

Rodney held up his hand. "No, wait. Just let me get this straight. Did you just take me on a date and deliberately run out of gas?"

"What? No," Sheppard said, too fast. "No, why would I . . . ? I mean, um . . ." His face cycled through a series of expressions, and wow, how had Rodney ever thought he was inscrutable? Because he could actually read the whole thing right there on Sheppard's face: the search for a plausible denial, the realization that there was no way in hell Rodney was going to buy it. "Okay, um, maybe?"

"You idiot," Rodney said. "I'm easy. I'm probably the easiest person in the galaxy. You say, 'sex,' and I say, 'yes.'"

"I gave you chocolate," Sheppard said plaintively, "and you shut the door in my face."

"Oh. Oh." Sheesh, maybe he really was an idiot. "Um, sorry?" Rodney said, and kissed him.

Sheppard's lips stuttered against his, but Rodney wasn't buying that. Sheppard had pulled one of the oldest moves in the book on him. That wasn't like sticking your hand down someone's pants to shut them up. That took planning. A certain amount of dedication. And, okay, more balls than Rodney had ever had himself, but . . .

"Wait," Rodney said, pulling back and trying to breathe. "Tell me this isn't an elaborate practical joke. Because I know what you're capable of, but really, that would be kind of low, even for you."

But Sheppard looked . . . something pretty closed to dazed. "No joke," he said. And then he tipped his head and brought his hands up on either side of Rodney's face and closed the distance between them again.

Sheppard's lips were warm and full and just as good as Rodney had imagined, even without the chocolate. Sheppard kissed the way he did everything— slow and easy on the surface, intense as hell underneath. And really, no, there was no way this could be a joke.

Sheppard's tongue flicked out to touch Rodney's, and Rodney groaned and clutched at Sheppard's hips. He wanted more, wanted to drag Sheppard against him, rub all over him. But before he could make his move, Sheppard twisted his mouth away and dropped to his knees, fumbling with Rodney's fly.

Okay, that was good; he could go with that. He could . . . oh, God. Sheppard shoved his boxers down, licked the side of his cock head and sucked him in with a pop. Rodney could feel lips and tongue and wet heat everywhere, and wow, Sheppard knew what he was doing, Sheppard really knew what he was doing, and why hadn't Rodney expected that? Sure, he'd fantasized about it, but fantasy and reality were usually so far apart, even in his head, that he hadn't thought . . .

Sheppard had his hands braced on Rodney's hips, and he was doing things Rodney couldn't even begin to comprehend with his tongue. Things that probably ought to be illegal in the Pegasus Galaxy, and whoops, if he kept this up, there was no way Rodney was going to be able to last.

Rodney really wanted to last.

He brought his hands down kind of awkwardly to touch Sheppard's hair, and Sheppard looked up at him and smiled around his cock, and Rodney almost came right then. He tightened his hands in Sheppard's hair, which was neither soft nor stiff, but actually kind of springy, and tugged.

Sheppard let go of his cock long enough to say, "Hey," and Rodney tugged again.

"Come on, get back up here, come on."

Sheppard frowned at him and climbed a little stiffly to his feet. His lips were swollen and shiny and right now they looked kind of pissed off. "You're really not that easy, McKay."

"Look, I have a bed. A very nice bed, right over there, with sheets and blankets and everything, and I don't want to have to explain to everyone how you screwed up your knees. You're not getting any younger, you know, and, um, okay, maybe I should just shut up now."

Sheppard reached out and hauled him in and kissed him, hard and sloppy and perfect. "Right," he said, "bed."

Rodney's pants were bunched around his thighs, which was going to make it hard to walk anyway, so he shoved them down and kicked off his shoes and took the socks with them, because he was about to have sex with Sheppard, and there was no way he was doing it with socks on.

Sheppard was sprawled on his bed, leaning back on his hands, watching Rodney. Not getting undressed, and what was up with that? Oh, okay, he'd managed to take his boots off. That had to count for something.

Rodney crawled onto the bed, straddled Sheppard's closest knee, and set to work on the buttons of his shirt. Sheppard reached for his cock, but Rodney wasn't ready to trade his almost-just-came buzz for spurting all over Sheppard's pants, so he swatted Sheppard's hand away.

"Whoa," Sheppard said, "pushy."

"Hey," Rodney said, concentrating on the next button, "you're the one who tried to park with me."

Sheppard lowered himself back onto his elbows, giving Rodney better access to the lower buttons. "Didn't think I'd have a chance with you any other way."

Rodney stopped unbuttoning for a moment, with Sheppard's chest hair peeking tantalizingly through the gap in his shirt, and now that he thought about it, the fact that Sheppard hadn't worn a t-shirt underneath really should have been a clue-in. "Boy, did you have me wrong."

Sheppard shot him an aggrieved look. "I thought you were straight."

"Oh." Okay, that made a surprising amount of sense. Because apparently Sheppard wasn't all that straight himself, and who would have thought? "Actually, I pretty much am. Well, mostly, anyway."

Sheppard raised an eyebrow at him and reached to run a finger up the side of Rodney's still-hard cock, which bounced happily at the attention. "So this is, what, opportunism?"

"Mm-hmm," Rodney said, a little distracted by the fact that he had finally managed to get all the buttons undone and he was busy pushing the shirt off Sheppard's shoulders. They were very nice shoulders, so Rodney got even more distracted by nuzzling one, and hey, Sheppard's skin tasted exactly the way he'd remembered, and it was so good he had to sort of rub himself against Sheppard's pants to show his appreciation.

Sheppard grunted, struggled the rest of the way out of his shirt, and rolled them both onto their sides, facing each other. Sheppard caught Rodney's lips for one quick, hard kiss, then bent his head to mouth Rodney's right nipple through the t-shirt he was still wearing. Rodney groaned, and Sheppard's head slipped down to the hem of his shirt, then . . .

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no." Rodney grabbed for Sheppard's hair again. "Not that, not yet, not— "

"Please," Sheppard said, "please, just let me."

"No," Rodney panted— so close, and Sheppard wasn't even touching his cock. "You know how long it's been. I've got a hair trigger, I'll embarrass myself, I'll— "

Sheppard grinned up at him. "Nothing says you can't come twice, Rodney." And then his mouth was on Rodney's cock, hot and wet and magic.

Rodney groaned and gave in to it, gave in to the waves of pleasure washing over him, even hitched his hips up a bit, and then Sheppard pulled off enough to say, "It's okay. You can fuck my mouth," and that was when he lost it, white and hot, spurting on Sheppard's face and into his greedy mouth. "Oh, God." Rodney let his head flop back on the bed.

Sheppard made a happy sound and wiped his face on the t-shirt Rodney was still wearing, which should have been annoying, but was somehow only endearing. Sheppard stretched out next to him, propped up on one elbow, looking far too pleased with himself. So Rodney had to push himself up and kiss that smile right off his face.

"I want to touch you," Rodney said, sliding one hand down to the damn pants Sheppard was still wearing. "Can I touch you? Because last time you wouldn't let me, and that was completely unfair."

Sheppard made a face at him. "Last time I came in my pants, Rodney."

Rodney blinked. "You did? Really?" He glanced down, but there was no tell-tale stain on the front of Sheppard's black BDUs.

"This time I managed to hold myself off," Sheppard said dryly.

"Oh, thank God," Rodney said, and dove for Sheppard's fly. His fingers fumbled the button, but Sheppard helped him, Sheppard pushed his pants down and off, and then just lay there, with his cock all hard and dark and pulsing, waiting for whatever Rodney wanted to do to him.

Of course, now that he had it in front of him, Rodney had absolutely no clue what to do. "What do you . . . should I . . . ?"

"Anything," Sheppard said, soft and ragged. "Anything, Rodney. It's not going to take much."

"Right, right." Rodney got that; he'd just been there himself. He put a hand on Sheppard's thigh, warm and hairy, and slid it up to trace his thumb in the crease where Sheppard's leg met his body. He should use his hands. He knew that. That was what Sheppard was expecting, that was what he knew how to do. But instead he leaned forward and tried an experimental lick up the length of Sheppard's cock.

"Christ," Sheppard said, and his cock twitched hard against Rodney's tongue, so Rodney did it again. Sheppard tasted warm and salty and kind of bitter, just like his mouth right now. Rodney got bolder and took the head in his mouth, swiped the bottom with his tongue, and got a whimper in response. Yeah, okay, that was fun. He did it again, and then again, getting a rhythm going, adding in a little bob of his head, and maybe he was drooling a little, but really, he was starting to get the hang of it. He was in a groove, now. He was—

"Rodney," Sheppard gasped, and then Sheppard's hands were yanking on his head, and ow, that hurt. "Off, off," Sheppard panted, even though he was off already, and oh, okay, wow, Sheppard was coming all over himself.

Rodney sat up, wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his t-shirt, and watched. Sheppard's eyes were closed and his mouth was open, and he was a mess from his chest on down. Rodney pulled off his shirt, which was a lost cause anyway, and used it to mop the worst of it out of Sheppard's chest hair.

"Forget it," Sheppard said, opening one eye. "No point."

"You could, uh, use my shower," Rodney offered.

"Thanks," Sheppard said, and closed his eye again.

Rodney scooted up and flopped down happily next to him. He'd just had sex— real sex— for the first time in way too long, and Sheppard seemed almost as good with it as he was. "Can we do this again?" he asked. "'Cause I really, really want to."

Sheppard grunted. "Just give me a minute."

"Oh," Rodney said, because that wasn't what he'd meant at all. "Okay, yeah, that, too, but I meant, you know, like tomorrow or the day after that, or whenever. I mean, it doesn't have to be any specific day, just— "

Sheppard's eyes stayed closed, but his eyebrows lifted. "You know where my quarters are. Stop by any time."

"Oh!" Any time sounded surprisingly good. Except . . . "Well, I wouldn't want to interrupt you. I mean, it would be kind of awkward if you were with someone else."

Sheppard opened his eyes just so he could roll them. "Is this your idea of subtle?" He propped himself up on his elbows and met Rodney's gaze. "You're not going to interrupt me. I'm not sleeping with anyone else right now. That what you were fishing for?"

Rodney grinned and didn't even both to answer that. He just sort of bumped Sheppard's shoulder companionably with his own. He was going to get to have sex on what sounded like a fairly regular basis. With Sheppard, who actually seemed to . . .

"Wait," Rodney said, as the light dawned. "You like me."

"No, Rodney, I usually jump in the sack with people who annoy me."

But Rodney was suddenly surprisingly sure. Sheppard had given him chocolate. Twice. "No, I mean you like me. You have a thing for me!"

Sheppard looked more like he had suddenly developed a hernia. "Rodney— "

Rodney chose to ignore that tone. "You do!" he crowed. "You do, you do, you do. Oh, God, I don't know why you do, but you do."

"McKay— "

"Wow, you don't know what a relief this is. I mean, I've been thinking I was the only one, here, and there's really nothing worse than having a thing for someone who doesn't have a thing for you. You know, I really think this could work out pretty well for both of us."

Sheppard shook his head and tried to frown, but his eyes were getting all crinkly, so Rodney leaned over and kissed him. "Okay," Sheppard said against his lips. "Okay, yeah, it could work."

Rodney pulled back and just looked at him, feeling decidedly pleased with himself. God, he hadn't felt this good since, well, ever. He elbowed Sheppard contentedly. "So, I think you still owe me another orgasm, hmm? Because you really pretty much promised there, and— "

Sheppard's gaze traveled slowly down Rodney's body to where his cock was starting to look just as happy as the rest of him. "Whoa, that was quick."

"Hey, you promised."

"Don't worry, Rodney," Sheppard said in that deceptively lazy deadpan. "I'm good for it." His hand cupped Rodney's hip, moved lower. "Though I'm kind of starting to see what that ex of yours meant by 'Rodzilla.'"

Rodney thought about hitting him with a pillow, but then Sheppard started doing something amazing with his hand, and it really wasn't worth the effort, after all.


End Notes:

The excess of expository dialogue is in honor of Martin Gero. Seriously. All. His. Fault. Also, Cesperanza is responsible for the cameo by the Bathrobe of Doom, so all complaints should be directed to her. And the title? Um, let's just say I am entirely too fond of obscure wordplay (hypothermia + endothermy + endothermic reaction).

This story was written under the influence of Alter Eco Dark Almond Chocolate and Scharffen Berger Las Islas Caribbean Dark.

Now with an illustration by Bellewhan -- my prezzie for the 2007 sga_art_santa exchange on Livejournal! Feed the artist back here.

"The Trouble with Endothermia" on Livejournal