Recipient: omg_wtf_yeah

Pairing: McKay/Sheppard

Rating: NC-17

Word count: 27,500

Warnings: None given

Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis, the characters and universe are the property of the Sci-Fi Channel and MGM.

Summary: Leave a message at the tone. "Fuck you, Larry, get a secretary," Rodney sighed tiredly into the phone. "I hope you get this, I'm coming to LA tomorrow - Thursday - so I'll be in your office Thursday afternoon. See you then."

Notes: The request included "John!hookerfic that's more Pretty Woman than My Own Private Idaho. But the ending always has to be happy." That caught my imagination and hope I did it justice.

Thanks to fenchurch1 and mezzo_camin for their help and feedback. Any mistakes are mine alone.

The Mondrian is a real hotel but amenties and services are pure invention; while I've briefly been to LA most of what I know is Google-fu. Some dialogue taken from Gateworld transcript for The Rising - Part 1

"McKay! Stop!"

Rodney turned away from the scientist he had been berating to glare at General Jack O'Neill. "WHAT NOW?" he shouted.

"Come with me," O'Neill commanded in his don't fuck with me voice.

Rodney turned to tell the scientist to clean out her desk when O'Neill stepped smartly between them. "Not. Another. Word. Stop. Tallking." O'Neill ground out, right in Rodney's face.

Feeling himself turn red, Rodney stopped his rant, glared over O'Neill's shoulder at the miscreant scientist and turned to face the General. "Go then," he gritted out as he waved a hand to point to the door.

They made the trip to O'Neill's office in silence, Rodney seething at the way O'Neill had high-handedly hauled him out of the labs.

"Jack!" Daniel Jackson was walking up toward O'Neill's office and didn't look up from the book he was reading while he was walking.

"Not now," O'Neill growled.

Daniel looked up from his text, noticed Rodney and caught O'Neill's mood. "Ah! Right. Later." He turned around and went back the way he came.

As soon as the door to O'Neill's office closed, Rodney started. "What the fuck are you doing to me? That moron I was about to fire will get someone killed..."

"SHUT UP!" O'Neill roared, leaning over his desk to further emphasize his point.

Stunned, Rodney shut his mouth with a snap.

"Now, sit down," O'Neill ordered, "and listen." He pointed to the chair in front of his desk.

"I..." Rodney stopped when O'Neill held up a hand. Deciding he would get out of here faster if he humored the General for the moment, Rodney perched on the edge of the chair.

O'Neill picked up his phone and dialed what Rodney knew was an inside extension. "Walter? Do that now, please." He listened. "Thanks."

Rodney watched as O'Neill set the phone down and sat behind the desk. As he took a breath to speak, O'Neill held up his hand again and tsk'd in his direction. Knowing he wasn't going to get anything until O'Neill was ready, Rodney fought to hold on to his temper.

"Now. I've had nothing but complaints from your staff for the last three days," O'Neill started. He glared as Rodney wanted to jump in, he settled back in the chair. "Good. Let me finish." Rodney simmered in place. "Complaints far beyond what I normally ignore. You're a bastard to work for but it's generally justified. Lately, your people have been more vocal than usual. So, I've been watching you for three days and you've been here without a break and, as far as I can tell, without sleeping."

Rodney had nothing to say in reply. In truth, he really hadn't slept more than a couple of hours a night for the past couple of weeks. The last month, if he was honest, not that he'd admit it to O'Neill. He suspected if he told O'Neill that, it would be making things worse.

"Walter is in the process of shutting down your access to everything for the next week," O'Neill calmly stated. "You need to get out of here, take some time off and come back when you can play well with others."

Rodney was stunned. A week! "But...." he stuttered.

"Yeah, I know," O'Neill sighed. "Weir's already signed off on it. Your department is ahead of schedule and you're the only one who hasn't taken or scheduled any personal time off before you're scheduled to leave for Atlantis." He looked Rodney in the eye. "Walter has an SGC credit card for you. I don't care if you go live in a hotel for a week, although if you order any hookers keep it discreet. I doubt you can spend any more money on yourself than you have on equipment. Take it and go wild."

"But..." Rodney started in dismay. I don't have anywhere to go! he wanted to wail. "A week?" he asked, faintly.

"You can come back exactly one week from today," O'Neill promised. "Go anywhere, get some sleep, spend some of your hard-earned tax money on yourself and come back a more rational human being."

Rodney laughed sadly. "I never was a rational human being."

O'Neill snorted. "Yeah, well, as close to one as you can come," he agreed. Much too readily for Rodney's personal comfort.

"A Marine will take you back to your lab, you can take one laptop with you, you have an hour to get whatever you need together and then you'll be escorted to the top of the Mountain and out the door. You can have a car or a driver. A driver will take you wherever you want to go for the day but you can't keep him for the week." The way O'Neill put it, Rodney knew he had no choice.

"An hour?" he asked plaintively.

"Then out the door," O'Neill restated. "And I have Zelenka cutting off your access, so you can't work yourself to death from a hotel room."

Fuck! Zelenka knew all his backdoors. Suddenly very tired he decided, "I'll take that driver, then. Have Walter make me a reservation for tonight somewhere decent in the city and I'll figure out what to do in the morning."

"See? How hard was that?" O'Neill asked with a grin.

Rodney rubbed his eyes. "I....." He didn't know what to say.

"Get some sleep. Get laid. I don't care what you do but I don't want to see you or hear from you for a week," O'Neill said much more gently.

"Okay, okay." Rodney stood, thinking about what needed to be done.

"McKay," O'Neill said firmly, to get his attention. Rodney turned back to look at him. "You're doing a good job. It'll be fine."

The praise was unexpected and Rodney blushed. "Ummm... thanks."

"Now get out of here," O'Neill pointed at the door.

As promised, Walter handed him an envelope with a credit card, a small bundle of cash and an open airline ticket. The Marine was someone Rodney didn't know and was big enough that Rodney didn't even want to try to harass. Normally, big men didn't bother Rodney but just now he was more than a little unsettled by both the sudden 'vacation' and O'Neill's good words.

The lab was mostly empty when Rodney went back to it. Looking at the clock, he realized it was after 8 pm and that most everyone would have long gone home for the day. Zelenka was there, obviously waiting for Rodney.

"It'll be fine," Zelenka assured him. "I got Matias reassigned to Area 51, you won't see her again. Everything else can wait for a week."

Rodney guessed 'Matias' was the woman he was shouting at earlier. "She'll get someone killed," he warned Zelenka.

"But not on our watch," Zelenka grinned. "Go. We'll be fine."

"You need to..." Rodney started.

"We'll be fine. We have two months before we're scheduled to leave for Atlantis," Zelenka interrupted him gently but firmly. "Take your time off.You'll be more productive when you get back."

Giving in, Rodney agreed. "Okay, but don't let them do anything stupid... well, stupider than usual, while I'm gone." He moved to his desk to disconnect his laptop and pack up the cabling that went with it. Zelenka put a laptop case on his desk and Rodney nodded his thanks as he quickly packed up power cables and his external hard drive. He paused to look around and not finding anything else he wanted to take, he closed up the case.

"Have fun!" Zelenka told him.

Rodney snorted. Working was how he had fun. A week of boredom stared him in the face.

Rodney left the lab and the Marine followed him to the room he had been living in. He unearthed a duffle bag from the pile in the corner and threw what clean clothes he had into the bag, along with the toiletries from the bathroom. Looking at the mostly empty bag, he figuring the SGC could buy him whatever else he needed. To make do until he could get to a store, he also threw in a variety of whatever was not in desperate need of the laundry was available.

Checking the bathroom one last time, Rodney looked longingly at the shower but figured he could take one at the hotel and not waste anymore of his hour getting there. He handed the duffle bag to the Marine, "You might as well be useful." He turned off the lights and locked the door.

Rodney headed to the infirmary. One of the doctors he didn't know must have been prepped by Walter since he had a packet ready for Rodney. "Eppie pens, scripts to cover them so you can carry them on a plane if you need, anti-histamines and general first aid kit. The number on the scripts will call back here in case you have any medical emergencies," the man said. He handed Rodney a clip board, "You need to sign for them."

Rodney scribbled his name, took the packet and turned to the Marine. "Put this in the bag for now," Rodney directed. Until he knew where he was going, if anywhere, that was good enough.

The elevators seemed to be cooperating for once and Rodney was soon checking out. The guard on duty pointed to the sedan idling outside the checkpoint, "Your car, Dr. McKay."

The Marine carried the bag out to the car for him and placed it in the trunk. Rodney climbed in the back seat and said, "Where am I going?"

"The Residence Inn," the driver said. "The Master Sergeant says you have one night guaranteed and a hold for the rest of the week if you want it."

"Good enough," Rodney answered. "Wake me when we get there."

"Yes, sir," the driver replied, setting the car in gear.

Rodney didn't remember anything of the ride down the Mountain and the driver had to shake him to wake him up. "We're here," the man said. "I've checked you in and have your room key."

Groggily, Rodney sat up - ow! He had slept awkwardly and he had to sit up slowly to get things working again. He climbed out of the car and followed the driver into the building. The building was only two stories and his room was on the first floor but in the back. Walter had reserved him a two bedroom suite and he absently wondered what Walter thought he'd be doing here with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen.

"Anything else, sir?" the driver asked after setting the bag on the couch in the living room.

"No, thanks," Rodney replied.

"The Master Sergeant told me to tell you to call him if you need anything," he said. "Good night."

"Good night," Rodney replied automatically.

Coffee! The suite at least had a coffee maker and even if it was generic coffee, it was better than nothing at the moment. He set the coffee maker to working, picked up his bag and headed toward one of the bedrooms. He stripped and wandered into the bathroom. It wasn't special but it had plenty of towels and should have lots of hot water.

After indulging in a longer shower than he remembered taking in what probably was an embarrassingly long time, Rodney dug through his bag and found what he hoped was a clean t-shirt and boxers. He wandered out to the kitchen area and found the coffee mugs in the cabinet and poured himself a mug. He dropped onto the couch in the living room and turned on the television.

A week! Now what was he supposed to do with himself? He had a lot of things he could do, most of which required that he be connected to the SGC. He had some personal projects he could work on but he had mothballed most of them in his effort to get ready to leave for Atlantis and wasn't sure he wanted to start anything he wasn't going to be able to finish.

He thought briefly about going to visit Jeannie but what would he say? "Sorry I haven't been in touch for the past five years and I'm leaving in two months on what may be a one-way mission to another galaxy." Huh. No. Even the thought of talking to Jeannie was too painful and he'd rather just disappear than go through with that discussion.

He didn't really know what he was watching but the word "California" came through his consciousness. Larry! He hadn't talked to Larry Fleinhardt in over a year, the last time Larry had turned down an offer of a job with the SGC - again - and at least it was somewhere to go. Staying this close to the Mountain and not being able to work was a faintly depressing thought.

He called the last number he had for Larry, his office at Southern Cal, knowing Larry kept odd hours and might actually be in his office this time of night. The phone rang several times and dropped into the anonymously voiced, "Please leave your message at the tone."

"Fuck you, Larry, get a secretary," Rodney sighed tiredly into the phone. "I hope you get this, I'm coming to LA tomorrow - Thursday - so I'll be in your office Thursday afternoon. See you then."

He called the airline and got on a flight leaving Colorado in the mid-morning and, because he was flying west against the time zone, he'd gain an hour, getting him into LA early afternoon. He debated for a moment and then called information and found a service that would provide a driver from the airport to his hotel.

Googling hotels in Los Angeles, he went for Hollywood and decided to take O'Neill up on his suggestion to spend money and booked a suite in the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. He might as well be comfortable. Poking around some more, he found the Los Angeles Opera was scheduled to perform Lohengrin -- Wagner wasn't necessarily his favorite but it would do - and he bought two tickets figuring he could treat Larry on the SGC nickel.

Not sure the alarm clock that came with the room would be enough to wake him up, he called the front desk for a wake-up call so he'd have time to get some breakfast before he had to leave for the airport. He asked the depressingly cheerful desk clerk to have a cab waiting for him at the time he needed to be on the way to the airport.

He tottered off to the bedroom, tumbled into the bed and fell asleep.

The phone woke him the next morning. He knew it was daylight since he hadn't thought to close the drapes - living underground for too long, he thought as he squinted into the bright light. The alarm clock went off just then, helping to wake him up.

Another shower, this one more to scrape off the last layer of grunge, some not-too-smelly clothes and he went to the lobby to search out some breakfast. Since it really was still relatively early morning, the breakfast provided by the hotel looked marginally better than what he had been eating in the mess at the SGC but, now that he was on his own, he wanted something better. A different but similarly cheerful person at the desk pointed him in the direction of a diner a couple blocks away.

Hot coffee, freshly cooked eggs, crisp bacon and pancakes after a full night's sleep made Rodney feel better than he had in days. He had enough time to stroll back to the hotel and pack up his few belongings before the cab would be there for the trip to the airport.

Airport security and the press of the crowd almost made Rodney turn back and go back to the Residence Inn for the week. At least it had been quiet, especially compared to the dull roar of background noise in the airport and the screaming toddler that he hoped was waiting for a different flight. He stuck it out and was thankful for the first class seat in the plane.

In the air, he thought back to his on and off association with Larry Fleinhardt. He and Larry had crossed paths in graduate school. While Larry was on a pure mathematics track, Rodney had been in physics and engineering. They had taken more than one math course together, finding more in common with each other than with anyone in their department.

Larry had been too... ethereal, maybe, Rodney thought. Being a pure mathematician, Larry was too theoretical for Rodney but they had agreed to disagree and had kept more-or-less in touch over time. Rodney occasionally tried to recruit Larry to work for the SGC but it was more habit than anything. Larry was too much of a free spirit to work full time for the military, in spite of the multiple levels of security clearances he had that were a result of the consulting Larry had done on government projects.

Thankfully, when the plane landed at John Wayne airport, the driver he had requested was waiting for him. It felt faintly rock star-ish, Rodney thought, seeing "Dr. McKay" on the sign in the man's hand.

"Where to?" the man who had introduced himself as "George" asked.

"The Mondrian on Sunset Boulevard," Rodney replied.

George took his duffle bag, shrugged when Rodney refused to hand over the laptop case, and said, "This way." He led Rodney to a limo parked just outside the terminal building.

Grateful to leave driving in LA traffic to someone else, Rodney sat back and watched the scenery go by. Awake and really fully alert for the first time in days, Rodney grudgingly admitted to himself that he had needed to get away, not that he'd tell Jack O'Neill that.

At the hotel, Rodney handed George a twenty as a tip and George handed him a business card, "Call me if you need anything."

"You know what? If you don't have anything else, wait while I check in and you can take me to Southern Cal," Rodney decided. He'd take the car to the university and see if he could find Larry. He'd be early but it was better than getting a cab later. For most people it would make sense to call ahead and make sure Larry was there but, well, Larry wasn't most people and didn't always answer his phone. Going to Southern Cal was the best way to track him down.

George shrugged. "Sure, not a problem. They won't let me stay here but I'll pull up and wait for you over there." He pointed to the far end of the driveway in front of the entrance to the hotel.

Checking in, the bellman took his bag and escorted Rodney up to his suite. Impressed with the sumptuous living room, kitchenette and bedroom, trying not to act like a hick in front of the bellman, Rodney handed the man another of his twenties and was soon alone in the room. Rodney changed to his last set of clean clothes, put the laundry in the provided bag and called the concierge to let room service know he needed some laundry done as soon as reasonable possible.

Back in the car, late afternoon traffic had started up and Rodney was even more grateful not to be driving in it. The driver handled it deftly and, sooner than Rodney knew he would have managed, had Rodney at the college. They found a campus map and they worked their way across campus to the building where Larry's office should be.

"Want me to wait?" George asked.

Rodney debated, faintly wary since he hadn't made contact with Larry. "You know what, yes," Rodney decided. "If I don't need you, I'll come back and let you know."

"No problem," George said airily. "Whatever you need."

Rodney went into the Mathematics building and found Larry's name on a building directory. After some false starts, he found the office in a cul de sac with scribbled note on the door, Back on Wednesday. Another sign, obviously put there by the department since it was on university letterhead and neatly typed, Dr. Fleinhardt is away at a conference until Wednesday, October 22. Please see the department secretary if you need to leave a message.

Well, fuck. Today was the 16th and Rodney was going back to the SGC on the 22nd. So much for that.

Grateful that he had the car wait, Rodney went back and climbed in.

"That was a bust," he announced. "Might as well take me back to the hotel."

"Your friend not there?" George asked.

"Turns out he's out of town for the weekend," Rodney groused. "Know anyone that wants to go to the opera Saturday night?"

George hesitated and offered cautiously, "I might. What sort of a date would you be interested in?"

Faintly depressed that he had come this far for nothing, Rodney admitted, "Fuck, I'm open to a warm body, has to be faintly intelligent and willing to go to see Wagner with me. Someone who can hang out with me for the weekend would be a bonus."

George was silent for a longer time. "Male or female?"

"Either is fine," Rodney replied, wondering what the fuck he was getting in to.

"I can get you someone for Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon for twenty-five hundred dollars," George offered.

"How do I know I can trust you?" Rodney demanded.

"How do I know you're not a cop?" George retorted.

"Do I look like a cop?" Rodney asked. "You have got to be kidding me!"

"Not really," George admitted. "Got a credit card? You can deny the charge if you need to."

"As long as the charge doesn't say Escorts-R-Us," Rodney replied dryly.

"Relax," George said. "It'll be Air Enterprises and you can explain it as sightseeing tours."

Rodney debated. Well, O'Neill told him to get laid, he might as well pay for it. "Deal."

George pulled up to the hotel and Rodney gave him the credit card number. He signed a receipt and George said, "Your date will come to your room late-ish Friday afternoon, probably between 4 and 5. Okay?"

Rodney shrugged. "Sounds good. Tell your person to bring something dressy to wear to the Opera. We're seeing Lohengrin."

"No problem," George answered.

Rodney debated. How much do you tip a pimp? He handed George another hundred dollars and the man seemed satisfied with that. Rodney figured he'd get a cut of what he was paying the escort, so didn't feel too bad about it.

Back in the hotel, he found the concierge desk. "I'm Dr. Rodney McKay in room 847. I need some clothes," he told the man working there. "I need to rent a tux for Saturday night and I need some casual clothes for the weekend."

The man didn't bat an eyelash, Rodney figured he'd had worse requests than that. "What size suit do you wear?" he asked calmly.

Rodney rattled off the figures and the man didn't write anything down but seemed to absorb the numbers.

"I'll have a tux sent to your suite tomorrow night," the man replied. "If it doesn't fit in any way, call the desk and we can get it changed out before Saturday." He handed Rodney a business card. "The men's store is just down the block and you can get anything else you need there. Tell them we sent you."

"Thanks," Rodney replied. "Where can I get dinner?"

"In the hotel or out?"

"In, I think," Rodney decided. He'd been traveling all day and the riding around LA in a car for hours, even if it was a comfortable limo, didn't help. He didn't have the energy to go far.

"If you want a good steak, I can make you a reservation in the Penthouse Grill," he offered.

"How about in an hour," Rodney stated. "I want to clean up before I eat."

"Not a problem," he said. "Anything else?"

"I don't think so," Rodney answered.

"Do let us know if you need anything else, Dr. McKay," the man said.

Rodney wandered back to his room, took a shower and put the clothes he had been wearing back on since there essentially wasn't anything else. The laundry bag was gone so he figured he should have some clean underwear in the morning. Good enough.

He booted up his laptop and checked his mail, at least O'Neill hadn't shut that down completely. Seeing nothing he really needed to answer just that minute, he shut the computer back down and headed toward the restaurant. If he was too early to be seated at a table, he might as well have a drink at the bar.

Rodney went up the elevator to the roof-top restaurant. He stepped out into bright light and cool air that moved with the faint suggestion of a breeze, to give the impression one might be outdoors without the inconvenience of actually having to be outside. The hostess at the desk looked up as he approached and asked a polite, "May I help you, sir?"

"Dr. Rodney McKay," he replied. "I have a reservation. If I'm too early, I'll be glad to sit at the bar and wait."

She glanced at the list in front of her and carefully ticked something off. "No, since it's relatively early I can seat you now. Unless you'd like to sit at the bar..." She offered Rodney a choice.

"No, I'll take that table," Rodney decided. He wanted the decadent dinner he knew he'd get here and, early or not locally, he was getting hungry. Breakfast was a long time ago and a time zone back.

Rodney sat at a table for two next to a window that overlooked the city. Not familiar with the area, he could still appreciate the view over the city and toward the mountains in the distance. If it were closer to sunset, the tops of the mountains would be one of the last things lit up. Suddenly, Rodney found himself depressed that he had no one to share something as banal as a beautiful view with.

His waiter came up and asked, "Would you like a drink before dinner, sir?"

"Before anything," Rodney answered, "I have a severe citrus allergy. Life threatening. So, no lemon in the water, no garnish near the plate, no dribble of lemon in the vegetables. Am I clear?"

The waiter must be a clone of the concierge; he didn't flinch at Rodney's insistent tone. Or they routinely put up with bigger assholes than he was. This was LA after all and a swanky place like the Mondrian would attract all sorts of wanna-bes.

"Not a problem," the man assured him. "A drink?"

Rodney debated. "Bourbon, neat," he decided.

"Yes, sir," the waited answered and went off toward the bar.

Rodney opened the menu, looking over the beef options. Even with repeated assurances from the staff, seafood was often too chancy for his allergy.

The waiter slid the drink on the table, along with a basket of warm rolls wrapped in a napkin. A small plate of artfully crafted butter was last.

"Would you like to order now or wait?" the waiter asked neutrally.

"Now," Rodney declared. "I'll have the rib eye, medium, a baked potato with butter and sour cream but on the side. A dinner salad, oil and vinegar on the side also."

Dinner was as good as he had hoped. Dessert was an exquisite hot fudge sundae over premium ice cream. Another glass of bourbon along side the coffee rounded out the meal.

Slightly muzzy from the alcohol, Rodney went back to his room to find his laundry already returned to him. He flicked on the television and flipped through the channels. He checked out the movies on demand and said, "You kinky bastards!" when he found a selection of porn, mostly heterosexual but a decent number of gay porn videos. He turned one on.

It was better quality than he'd had access to in a while, the men weren't quite twinks and there was something approaching some emotion from the participants. The story line was patently bogus but the men good looking. As they finally got down to it, Rodney found himself loosening his pants and putting his hand on his cock. As the action on the screen heated up, Rodney found himself moving his hand slightly faster. He stopped at one point and licked a stripe on his hand for some extra moisture, tasting his own pre-cum in the process. He wriggled slightly to move the pants further down, bringing his cock completely out. He stretched out, laying his head back against the couch, barely watching the action on the television. His orgasm built and when it hit, it curled his toes.

"Whoa," Rodney panted. The action on the screen was also reaching a climax as one man fucked the other. Rodney's dick twitched as the man stuttered his hips and came but Rodney knew he was done for the night. He appreciated how the man on the bottom came, artfully striping the cushions he was kneeling on.

Shutting down the television, Rodney went into the bathroom to wash up. Deciding to take a shower in the morning, he stripped down to his boxers and t-shirt and crawled into bed.

In the morning, he reached for the phone and croaked, "Coffee, breakfast," into the handset. A chipper, "Yes, sir, fifteen minutes," was gratifying to hear. That gave him time to use the bathroom before there was a discreet knock on the door.

The LA Times was delivered with his breakfast and he sat sipping coffee, perusing the news while eating through the assortment of pastries. He opened his computer, checking mail and sending back a couple of scathing replies to some of the stupidest questions. He took a bit longer with the questions Zelenka sent since he had to actually deal with the morons Rodney had just eviscerated. Zelenka at least was intelligent enough to deserve some reasonable answers. Not that he'd ever admit it to the other man.

Rodney fiddled for a while with one of his personal projects that he hadn't completely mothballed. He was designing engines for a space ship, using some of the nuggets of information the Asgard would give them and what Sam Carter had gotten out of the Goa'uld mother ship designs. There was always room for improvement, especially on the Goa'uld designs since they essentially scavenged from others and built very little that was original. He only stopped when the coffee pot ran dry.

Securing his laptop by locking it in the room's safe, Rodney decided to follow up the recommendation of the concierge on getting some additional clothes. He needed some casual clothes for the weekend and, honestly, he didn't have much beyond t-shirts and baggy, faded chinos at the SGC anyway.

"Good morning, sir. May I help you?" The clerk's name tag said 'Zane.' Rodney figured he was an actor-wannabe and the name was a stage name. Who named their kid Zane?

"I need some clothes for the weekend," Rodney declared. "Casual, comfortable, shirts and pants. No fancy colors, no patterns I have to fuss with."

Zane looked Rodney up and down, making Rodney feel not-quite-shabby in his well worn clothes. "Come with me." He headed to the back of the store. Rodney followed then nodded or shook his head as Zane held up various shirts and pants options. He made Rodney stand still as he measured Rodney efficiently, again not writing anything down. "If you would, sir, I'll open a dressing room and bring you some things to try on."

"Don't bother," Rodney waved a hand. "Just put it in a bag and sent it over to the Mondrian. Room 847."

Another of those fucking clones that didn't react. Rodney figured he'd have to send some of those moron scientists the SGC hired out here for some training. Rodney handed over the credit card. "Add some boxers, t-shirts and handkerchiefs while you're at it," he directed.

"Yes, sir," Zane answered. "Anything else?"

"Not that I can think of," Rodney replied.

"If you have anything you'd like to return or exchange, call the number on the receipt and we can send someone for it," Zane said calmly.

"Where's a good place for lunch?" Rodney asked.

Zane hesitated and discretely looked Rodney's shabby outfit over. "There's a place you can get an excellent hamburger," he offered.

"Perfect!" Rodney exclaimed.

Zane gave him directions and Rodney wandered out into the bright sunshine. Fuck! He should have thought to bring sun glasses. Deciding he'd manage for the couple of blocks to the tavern Zane had recommended, Rodney strolled along and watched the people who accompanied him on the busy street.

The burger was as good as promised and Rodney found himself back on the street with not much to do until his... companion showed up.

Why it didn't hit him until now, Rodney didn't know. He had hired a hooker for the weekend! Now what was he going to do? Sure, he'd had one night stands a couple of times when he was younger but he'd never had anyone for the entire weekend. He stood still on the street, ignoring the glares he got from people who had to walk around him.

"What the fuck was I thinking?" Rodney asked himself. The burger, fries and beer he had recently finished sat heavy in his stomach. He patted down his pockets, looking for the card he knew he got from that driver... what was his name? Right! George yesterday. No. It had to be in the room!

Turning on the spot, Rodney hurried back to the hotel. He all but danced in place waiting for the elevator and glared at the elderly couple that would have joined him in the car. With his luck, they'd want to get off before him and he couldn't stand the delay. He pressed the button for his floor and forced himself to breathe deep as the elevator slowly climbed up the building. At his floor, he rushed to his room and threw open the door.

"What did I do with that?" he ranted. He looked through the things he had on the dresser. "No. No. No. Tell me I didn't throw it out," he begged. The garbage cans were empty and the breakfast debris picked up, so he knew the maid had been in the room.

He sat down heavily on the couch and put his head in his hands. Now what was he going to do?

A knock on the door startled him. Taking another breath, Rodney opened it.

"Mr. McKay?" the young man asked. Really! What was anyone thinking? Rodney could be this kid's father. There was no way he was going to spend the weekend with this baby!

"If you think..." Rodney snarled.

"Your delivery, sir," the kid thrust a package into his hands and backed hastily away.

Looking down, Rodney saw the logo from the clothing store on the package. Oh. His clothes. He looked down the corridor and the kid was getting on the elevator, looking worriedly back at Rodney.

Shrugging, Rodney closed the door and took the package into the bedroom. He found polo shirts in bright colors, a dress shirt in light blue, chinos in a couple different shades of tan, boxers, t-shirts, socks - which he had forgotten to mention - and a package of white handkerchiefs. So this was how the other half lived, he thought. He had no doubt that it would all fit perfectly.

He put everything away, hanging the pants in the closet and putting the rest into various drawers. Not sure what else to do, Rodney took a shower and dressed in some of his new clothes. He looked pretty good if he did have to say so himself.

Another knock on the door. Deep breath.

"May I help you?" Rodney asked as he wondered how a person could slink while standing in place.

"George sent me. I'm John," he introduced himself.

"I would think that's my line," Rodney snarked back. "Oh, you've probably heard that one before."

"A time or two," John admitted wryly.

"I..." Rodney hesitated, looking at the hot man standing there. Really hot. Oh, hell. "Come in."

John had a duffle bag eerily similar to Rodney's in one hand and a suit bag slung over his shoulder. He set the duffle down just inside the door and lay the suit bag on the back of the chair.

"Rodney... Dr. Rodney McKay," Rodney introduced himself without thinking about it. He reached out and John took his hand in a firm grip.

"Nice to meet you, Rodney," John replied. "Doctor of what?"

"Astrophysics and engineering," Rodney said. "PhD twice, actually."

John looked faintly impressed.

Rodney hesitated for a heartbeat, then plowed on. "I... this may be a mistake," he stammered. "I know, I know, I asked for... whatever. But, well, now I don't know what to do and..." He stuttered to a halt.

John grinned slightly. "Well, we don't really have to do anything, although I really did want to go to the Opera tomorrow night." He sounded faintly wistful.

Rodney perked up. "Really?"

John shrugged. "I've never seen Lohengrin even though I've been through the Ring," he said. "It doesn't get staged too often and when it was part of the package, I couldn't resist."

"About the rest of that package..." Rodney started.

Another shrug that seemed to flow down the long arms. "Your weekend," John interrupted. "We do, or don't do, whatever you want."

"Well, before we get too far, I'm bad with people, can't stand morons, and I'm allergic to citrus and hypoglycemic," Rodney felt obligated to get the worst of it out right away.

"No citrus or morons," John repeated back patiently. "I can work with that. How allergic?"

"Deathly," Rodney replied. "I have epi pens if I need them."

There was an awkward silence.

"So," John asked. "What do you like to do? Movies, TV, video games, bowling?'

"Bowling?" Rodney was surprised. "What?"

The shrug this time traveled down the shoulders and the hips moved slightly. Not that Rodney was looking, or anything. "Different people like different things," John admitted. "Not that it's easy to find a bowling alley in Hollywood, but there are some great sets of alleys just a little way outside LA. Pain to get to on a Friday night, though. Usually leagues are already scheduled and the traffic usually isn't worth fighting through if you just want a couple of casual games. Although I think Southern Cal has alleys in the Phys Ed building if you're desperate."

"Southern Cal?" Rodney was now out of his depth. "No, wait. Don't tell me! You're working your way through school! That is such a cliché!"

Rodney was surprised to see the tips of John's ears turn red. "Well, it's kinda true," he admitted. "And... don't ask. And don't be offended if I don't tell you some things about myself."

Even Rodney could understand not wanting to talk about some parts of his life. "Okay, okay," Rodney replied. "Personal lives are off limits."

John seemed to relax a bit with that.

A knock at the door of the room. "Now what?" Rodney demanded.

Opening the door revealed a man with a rolling clothes cart. "Dr. McKay?" the man asked. When Rodney nodded, he continued, "You wanted to rent a tux for tomorrow evening?"

"Yes," he replied. He then turned to look at John. "You need one?"

John indicated his suit bag, "Nope. Brought a suit and a tux since I wasn't sure which would be appropriate. All set."

"Okay, then," Rodney said. "What do you need me to do?" he asked the man at the door that he automatically dubbed tux rental guy in his head.

"If I may come in?" he asked politely. At Rodney's nod and move away from the door, he brought in the rack that had been in the hall. "I find that it's useful, if at all possible, to do a fitting and allow you a choice of styles. If you had not been here, I would have left a classic style for you."

"I can do the fitting," Rodney admitted. "I don't know anything about styles."

"May I?" John stepped in.

"Be my guest," Rodney waved at the rack.

John quickly went through the options and pulled one out. "This one, I think," he decided, holding it out toward Rodney. "Try it on."

"Over this?" Rodney asked, pointing at his polo shirt.

"For a basic fitting," the tux rental guy said, "what you have on is fine."

Rodney took the jacket from John and slipped it on. Before the tux rental guy could move, John was there... adjusting the fit, smoothing his hands over the shoulders to make the jacket lie properly. Rodney wanted to lean into the warm hands and jerked slightly when John moved away.

The tux rental guy came up and tweaked the sleeves slightly. "Yes, that's very nice," he agreed. He reached down the rack and pulled out a dress shirt. "Now for the pants..."

Rodney just knew he'd embarrass himself if he let John 'help' again. "Umm... " he looked quickly at the size tags, "this pair should fit fine."

"If you'd like to try them on..." the tux rental guy offered.

"No! I... I mean, these should be fine," Rodney stuttered.

"Not a problem," the tux rental guy answered. He shuffled through the rack and brought out a small-ish bag. "Tie, cummerbund, cuff links and socks, sir," he handed the bag to Rodney. "Do you need shoes?"

Looking at his not-quite ratty sneakers, Rodney sighed. "Yes, please."

They discussed size and type and Rodney wanted to hold out for a loafer style but when John looked at him and shook his head, he caved to the regular tie shoe.

"I'll drop those off later," the tux rental guy said. "If you need anything changed, I can take care of that then."

"That's fine," Rodney agreed.

Handing Rodney a clip board the tux rental guy said, "Please sign here."

Rodney scribbled his name on the receipt and handed the board back to the tux rental guy who efficiently rolled his rack back out into the hall.

"I'll just hang this up," Rodney gathered up the pieces of the tux and carried them into the bedroom. He hung the jacket, pants and shirt in the closet and left the bag with the pieces on the dresser. He came back into the other room to find John sitting on the couch, starting to flip through the channels on the television.

"College football, if you're at all interested," John commented. "There's no World Series game until tomorrow afternoon, if you like baseball. Or we can see if there's a movie to watch."

Trying hard not to think of the movie he watched last night, Rodney said, "I don't follow college football, so I don't know what I'd be watching. Baseball is only marginally less boring than golf, so it's a good thing we have other plans for tomorrow."

"Oh, those are fighting words," John retorted with a grin. "Movie it is!" He flipped to the channel guide. "Chick flick... chick flick... mystery?" He paused and Rodney shrugged unenthusiastically and then kept going. "Infomercial... oh, hey! Back to the Future!" He looked at Rodney hopefully.

It was such a good look for John, Rodney thought. His face lit up and the green eyes shone - it made him look younger.

"You have got to be kidding!" Rodney replied automatically. "It's such bad science... just... bad..."

"Come on," John whined. "It'll be fun."

"I can't believe I'm agreeing to this!" Rodney sat down on the other end of the couch.

"Hold that thought!" John got up as a commercial came on and dug in his duffle, bringing out a package of microwave popcorn. "Not a movie without popcorn!"

"Okay, you've redeemed yourself with that," Rodney allowed. "Let me find something to put it in." He rummaged through the cabinets around the microwave as the popcorn popped. "Okay, nothing."

"That's okay," John allowed. "Just get something we can use as napkins so we don't make too much of a mess. I'll just rip the bag open."

Rodney went into the bathroom and got a couple of washcloths. "This'll have to do. You'd think a swanky place like this would have something when you eat in your room."

"They expect to bring it for you from room service and then they'll provide napkins," John pointed out. "They don't expect you to sneak in anything as pedestrian as microwave popcorn."

Rodney reached into the bag at the same time John did and they bumped hands. "Sorry," Rodney said automatically.

"No problem," John answered. "Okay, perfect, it's starting!"

Rodney hated this movie with a passion but he'd never had so much fun watching it before. He suspected John took whatever opposite side he could, to keep Rodney going. Even though he knew what John was doing, somehow he didn't mind. It wasn't ... mean, it was just fun.

It was getting to be dusk by the time the movie finished.

Rodney was explaining how the DeLorean couldn't fly when John retorted with "there's no lift and it's not aerodynamic, so it has to be anti-gravity."

Rodney stared and John evidently realized what he had said.

"Umm... I'm a pilot," John admitted. "Wanted to join the Air Force but my eyesight isn't perfect enough to be a military pilot. Military has the best planes but I had to settle for smaller stuff."

"Flying isn't a cheap hobby," Rodney couldn't help pointing out.

John shrugged. "I fly charter flights when I have time. It's kind of like being a bus driver instead of a race car driver but it's at least in the air. And the owner lets me use his puddle jumper occasionally if he's not using it."

"Puddle jumper?" Rodney asked.

"Small plane," John replied. "A Cessna two-seater, it has a limited range compared to the jets but it's closer to real flying."

Rodney thought John looked a bit wistful while talking about flying. Years of secrecy helped him resist showing John the spaceship engine project on his laptop.

John shook himself and grinned, "Food?"

Rodney couldn't help but grin back, "Sure. I ate in the hotel last night, it was good. And couple blocks away at a tavern for lunch. What were you thinking of?"

"You look like a pizza man," John replied. "Yeah, most California pizzas aren't much to write home about but I know a small place we can walk to that has real New York style pizza."

"You're on!" Rodney agreed. "Let me grab a jacket."

The walk to the pizza place was just long enough for Rodney to really work up an appetite. Rodney poked more holes in the 'science' from the movie, John seriously assuring him it got better in the next movie.

"Time travel?" Rodney demanded. "That makes it better?"

"Well, Doc gets the girl in the end," John assured him. "That's the best part."

"True love conquers all," Rodney scoffed.

"Don't knock it," John said seriously.

"Hello? Have you met me?" Rodney demanded, stopping in the street.

John stopped and looked Rodney up and down. "I've just met you and don't think you're a bad guy," John looked him in the eye. "I like you."

"So far," Rodney replied bitterly.

"Come on," John lightened up, suddenly. "You'll feel better when you've had some food."

"You sure?" Rodney asked, suspicious.

"Yup, that I am sure of," John said. "We're almost there."

Giving in, Rodney said, "Okay, okay. Better be good."

"Oh, it is," John promised. "New York style pizza. Haven't found anything like it anywhere else on this side of town."

"How'd you find it?" Rodney asked, curious.

"Friend of a friend," John laughed. "No, really. Classmate from New York spent all of his free time trying every pizza place in town. There are an amazing number of pizza places in LA and he started a database with his ratings of every place he went to. It was a minor phenomenon on campus and just about everyone followed it."

"Really? Is it online somewhere?" Rodney asked.

"He's moved to a blog and from what I hear he makes a decent living from it," John laughed. "I'll give you the address later."

"Makes a living reviewing pizza?" Rodney laughed. "Where do I get a job like that?"

"Suspect you'd be bored inside of a month," John pointed out.

"Yeah, but what a month!" Rodney sighed.

"Oh, yeah!" John agreed.

They walked for a while in a comfortable silence, John pointing when they needed to make a turn. Rodney was soon faintly turned around but knew they weren't really that far from Sunset so he could find his own way back if he needed. Having someone to explore with was something he wasn't familiar with and he found himself relaxing.

"In here," John indicated.

They went into the crowded pizza place where John seemed to be well known by the hostess at the door. That got them a table in the back, ahead of several couples that obviously had been waiting to be seated.

A brief exchange with the waitress had John ordering for them. He made sure she understood Rodney's citrus allergy and ordered a pitcher of beer to share.

"Sorry, nothing Canadian here," John observed when the waitress went off to place their order.

"Yeah, used to that," Rodney was rueful. "Your watered down American beers just aren't the same."

"Hey!" John teased. "It's not that bad."

"Well, I guess," Rodney was reluctant to agree too fast.

The waitress brought them their beer and glasses and put a basket of breadsticks on the table. Rodney took a breadstick as John poured him a glass of beer.

Later, Rodney realized it was the second pitcher of beer where things went, depending on his mood, spectacularly right or spectacularly wrong.

"Learned to really drink when I was in Russia," Rodney stated around a glass of beer. "They had real alcohol there."

"Russia? Why were you there?" John asked, obviously curious.

"Made a mistake... at work," Rodney hadn't had enough alcohol to make him talk that much. "Almost got a friend of... a co-worker killed. In the end, she was right, I was wrong. Even when I admitted I was wrong, she got me sent away." Rodney remembered long, cold nights and hard days. He shivered slightly.

"And I think you're out of practice," John announced. "Let's get out of here."

"Okay," Rodney agreed. He pulled out his credit card and John used it to pay the bill.

Rodney didn't remember much of the walk back to the hotel. The cool air helped wake him up but the food and the alcohol combination were fighting to make him sleepy.

In the suite, John pushed Rodney in the direction of the bathroom. "Clean up and make sure you drink some water," John directed.

Not sure why he didn't balk, Rodney did as he was told. In the bedroom, John helped him out of his clothes and stripped him down to his t-shirt and boxers. All Rodney knew as he fell asleep was that it was warm and comforting.

Waking, Rodney felt... safe for some reason. Waking even more, Rodney realized there was another body in the bed and he was tangled in it. Legs intertwined and arms holding him close, Rodney realized that John had taken him to bed and snuggled... in a manly way, of course, okay, that sounded lame even to him... snuggled up to Rodney.

"Want some help with that?" John's sleepy voice asked.

"I... yes?" Rodney asked, hesitantly.

"Relax," John said, moving one arm down between them. He inched Rodney's boxers down and a firm hand was soon wrapped around Rodney's cock. It moved slowly, moving up and down, easing and re-gripping to find the best grip.

Belatedly, Rodney realized he could be doing the same thing. He moved his semi-free arm out and then between them, working around John's arm. He touched silk... John was wearing silk boxers... Rodney worked his hand inside the boxers so he could touch... the quick intake of breath told him it was the right thing to do.

Fighting to focus on John, Rodney was quickly losing what few functioning brain cells he had as John jacked him off. The hand on his cock started moving faster and Rodney's hips started moving of their own accord. His hips jerked slightly as the pleasure started to curl at the base of his spine.

John moved away slightly and Rodney let out a noise that probably was a whine, "Shhh..." John said, "Let me..." John wriggled and got his boxers down lower and then moved closer... guiding Rodney's hand about both of them, Rodney knew right then that John was a genius in his own right. Cocks aligned together, John moved Rodney's hand about both cocks. Up... down... John's fingers brushed the top of Rodney's cock and the pleasure that had receded came back, full force.

"I'm gonna..." Rodney had time to breathe before he started coming. John's hand milked him and Rodney found enough energy to focus that he had John coming also. They lay together, panting slightly.

Suddenly unsure, Rodney thought to himself I want to kiss him... should I? Rodney leaned in and settled for putting his forehead against John's. He closed his eyes to bask in the moment.

He felt John wriggle away and wanted to protest but he was too comfortable. The bed dipped and John was there with a warm washcloth, cleaning him up.

"Hey!" Rodney said sleepily.

"Hey, yourself," John answered. "I'll order some coffee?"

"Mmmm... that would be good," Rodney agreed. His bladder made itself known just then and Rodney sighed. "Guess I should get up."

"No hurry," John said as he reached for the phone.

Rodney got up and kicked off the now-sticky boxers and since John was essentially naked, decided to suck it up and not worry about clothes for the moment, either. His mostly out-of-shape body wasn't awful, just... pudgy around the middle. Too relaxed to worry about it, Rodney went to the bathroom.

John poked his head in the door, startling Rodney. "At least twenty minutes," John told him. "We probably have time for a quick shower." He hesitated. "If you want."

Rodney grinned. "Sure," he answered. "Come on, plenty of room." He turned on the taps to get the water warmed up. He stepped in and John was there a moment later.

Showering with someone else wasn't something Rodney had a lot of experience with. The showers at the SGC were pretty utilitarian and he'd been mostly alone when he lived elsewhere. There had been a girl in grad school that he had done this with but that was as much about cleaning up as anything.

John was practical yet sexy in the shower - he made naked look good. He scrubbed Rodney's back without asking and let Rodney return the favor, arching into Rodney's hands. Knowing that coffee and breakfast was coming kept Rodney from getting too distracted exploring John's body.

Rodney dug into his new underwear and John pulled some of his own out of his bag.

"There's plenty of room in the dresser," Rodney waved a hand. "And the closet. If you want, that is."

John looked faintly surprised at the offer. "Thanks," he said. "That makes it easier." He quickly unpacked his bag into one drawer and hung a couple of shirts in the closet.

Rodney found sweatpants from the clothes he had brought with him and put them on, deciding that the hotel bathrobe would have been okay in an emergency but he'd rather feel dressed in front of strangers.

John turned on the news on the television and Rodney joined him on the couch. It wasn't long before there was a knock on the door announcing their breakfast.

Rodney poured coffee and John poked at the selection of pastry, taking one from the platter. Only taking a pastry after he had swallowed half of the first cup of coffee, Rodney picked up part of the newspaper that had been delivered with their breakfast. The news was on in the background, the coffee was hot and the man sharing the couch was even hotter. He could get used to this.

They shared the paper between them, swapping sections. Rodney noticed that John paid particular attention to the financial section but resisted asking questions.

"I need to check my mail," Rodney announced.

"Not a problem," John replied. "I'm good here."

Rodney moved slightly away, so that John couldn't see the screen of his laptop. He felt faintly silly doing it but since he didn't know what would be there, he couldn't risk John seeing anything he shouldn't.

O'Neill must have Zelenka holding his mail since there wasn't anything really new or special in the email. He knew he'd be more than slightly annoyed if there was anything important when he got back but at this moment, he didn't care.

Closing down the laptop, he turned to find John watching.

John leaned in and said in a soft, seductive voice, "If you're done, I really want to fuck your gorgeous ass."

Rodney's cock came to immediate attention and he could only nod his agreement.

John stood up and held a hand out to help Rodney stand. He led the way to the bedroom, holding Rodney's hand. He stopped them by the bed and reached for the hem of Rodney's t-shirt. He drew it up and Rodney lifted his arms so John could take it off. Dropping the t-shirt, John put his hands on Rodney's waist, easing the elastic of both the sweatpants and the boxers down over Rodney's hips, pulling the pants forward slightly to clear Rodney's cock. John knelt down, taking the pants down to the floor, helping Rodney maintain his balance while he removed the pants completely. As John started to stand, he leaned in and used his tongue to take a swipe at the end of Rodney's cock.

Rodney helped him stand, bringing John's clothed body against his for a kiss. John's mouth opened for his, their tongues twining. Rodney could feel John's cock through the thin sweatpants. The temptation to just stand here and grind against John was there but he really wanted to be fucked so Rodney ended the kiss and reached for John's t-shirt.

As Rodney was drawing the t-shirt over John's head, John must have shimmied his way out of the sweatpants and kicked them off because they were now both naked. Rodney backed up until he felt the bed at the back of his legs and he let go of John so he could sit down. Once on the bed, he scrambled back so that he could lie down in the middle of the bed. John reached for the lube he must have put out when he was emptying his bag.

Then John crawled on top of him, Rodney groaned at the contact of skin on skin. It had been too long... John inched down his body, stopping to nip playfully at his nipples, stick his tongue in Rodney's belly button and take a long, slow lick up Rodney's cock. John grabbed one of the pillows and Rodney lifted himself up so John could slide it under him. It felt both exposed and sexy to lie here with his hips slightly in the air from the pillow. John's mouth moved slightly down his leg while his hand slid between Rodney's legs.

John played with his balls for a bit, letting Rodney get used to John's hand near his ass. Fingers moved behind the balls to rub along the tender skin toward his hole. John didn't breach him right away but rubbed his finger along the skin, across the hole.

"Please," slipped out of Rodney's mouth before he could stop it.

Rodney could feel the smile from John on his thigh, fingers trailing between his legs. One finger pushed in slightly and back out before Rodney could appreciate it. The John pushed more firmly and moved in and out, slowly, like he had all the time in the world.

"You're really tight," John said softly. "Been a while?"

"A... long time..." Rodney admitted.

"Then we're going to take this really slow," John stated firmly.

"Oh... don't know if I can do that," Rodney panted.

"Don't worry," John soothed. "Just let me do all the work."

Rodney arched as John twisted his finger just so, hitting Rodney's prostate.

"Any more of that, I'm not going to last," Rodney said.

"Oh, that's okay," John grinned, slightly evilly Rodney thought. "You're going to come more than once before I'm done with you." John twisted his finger again and Rodney moaned.

"You're going to kill me before you're done," Rodney accused.

"And the problem with that is?" John teased as he withdrew the finger. Rodney missed it immediately but was rewarded when John pushed in with two fingers.

Rodney had his eyes closed and didn't know what was happening but John suddenly had his mouth on Rodney's cock. The feeling of warmwetsuction made Rodney gasp, "Coming..."

John withdrew, using his other hand to help Rodney through the orgasm, never taking his fingers from Rodney's ass. Rodney collapsed, boneless on the bed.

"Oh, my god..."Rodney breathed.

"Just relax now," John soothed. He moved the finger he had in Rodney's ass, spreading lube about and brushing lightly over Rodney's prostate. Rodney groaned at the stimulation.

"Too much?" John asked seriously.

"No... perfect," Rodney stuttered.

A soft kiss to Rodney's stomach and John leaned back to open him up further. John got more lube on his fingers and worked the fingers in and out of Rodney. Rodney just went with it, letting John do what he wanted. There was more nibbling on various bits of skin Rodney had never considered particularly sensitive before and John taking his time between his legs.

Taking his hands from Rodney, Rodney tried not to whine at the loss but John leaned in for a kiss, "Shhh..."

Looking through barely open eyes, Rodney watched John roll a condom on himself and slick his cock up in preparation. Seeing Rodney watching, John asked, "Like this or do you want to turn over?"

Knowing how long it had been since he had been fucked, Rodney decided, "Better turn over."

"Okay," John answered. He help guide Rodney over onto his stomach and placed the pillow under his hips.

Rodney widened his legs and felt John move up closer. Then a hand on one hip and John's cock at his hole. Rodney breathed out and felt John push in slightly.

"Okay?" John asked.

"You better not be asking that every millimeter," Rodney complained. "Yes, okay, better than okay. Keep going."

A small laugh from John and he pushed in slowly but persistently. Rodney consciously relaxed against the intrusion, letting John set the pace.

"Okay?" John asked.

Rodney clenched and then relaxed. John groaned behind him, a beautiful sound Rodney thought.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Rodney said. "Move."

"Bossy," John teased. But he pulled out a bit and then pushed back in. He adjusted slightly and then pulled out and pushed back in.

Rodney pushed his ass up in the air just a bit and John moved closer. Moving slowly, John pushed in and out and grunted when Rodney hissed in pleasure. Holding himself in place, John pushed in and out at the same spot, tagging Rodney's prostate more often than not.

It wasn't immediate but Rodney felt himself get hard again. John's semi-regular stimulation on his prostate helped that along and Rodney felt himself loosening even more as John moved in and out.

Pushing back against John, Rodney said, "I won't break."

"Not going to hurt you," John was firm. But his hips now had more of a snap to them as he pushed into Rodney. Skin met skin as they pushed together. John's hips started to stutter and he leaned forward to reach around for Rodney's now hard cock. Rodney absently admired the coordination as John was coming in his ass yet had the concentration to pull at Rodney's cock so that they were both coming. This wasn't as hard as the last one but it still curled Rodney's toes.

A frozen moment and Rodney dropped down on the mattress, John following a nanosecond later.

"Oof!" Rodney let out.

"Just..." John breathed heavily. He lifted himself up slightly and withdrew from Rodney, to slide over to the side.

"That was..." Rodney was at a loss.

"Amazing," John answered softly.

Without thinking, Rodney put in, "You probably say that all the time."

An almost imagined flash of hurt came and went before Rodney was sure of what he saw. John leaned in and kissed him softly. "No matter, it's true."

Rodney closed his eyes and basked in the afterglow. Two orgasms in relatively short order - three if he counted the one in bed earlier - overcame him and he fell asleep.

"Hey, sleeping beauty," John's voice teased in his ear. "We need to think about getting up."

Rodney woke slowly and stretched, wincing slightly at the unfamiliar pain in his rear.

"You okay?" John demanded. "Let me check you out."

"No, I'm okay," Rodney protested. "Just been too long and.." he tried to not blush, "it feels good."

John nestled close and ran a hand down Rodney's side, "You sure? I have some crème you can use."

"I should," Rodney gave in that much. "Especially since I need to be able to sit tonight."

"Better answer," John allowed. "I'll get more coffee ordered, you go start the shower."

Reluctantly, Rodney rolled out of bed and toward the bathroom. He really did need to piss but hadn't wanted to get out of bed. He brushed his teeth and then started the shower. He let the water get hot and the air in the bathroom started to steam before he got in.

The hot water helped Rodney's muscles relax and it was a few minutes before John joined him.

"I have some sandwiches coming with the coffee and ordered a car to take us to the Theatre," John informed him. "Traffic shouldn't be too bad on a late Saturday afternoon but we need to allow at least three-quarters of an hour for travel across town."

"Okay," Rodney agreed. "Eating regularly is better for me and we can get something else again after the opera."

The shower wasn't hurried but it was efficient. John left some pain pills out for Rodney along with a tube of crème. Reading the label, it was a topical analgesic with some mild antibiotic properties. He applied it to his ass and took two of the pain pills. He shook two more out of the bottle to take with him for later.

With a towel around his waist, Rodney went out into the bedroom. He put on clean boxers and a t-shirt and pulled the robe lying on the bed over the underwear. He joined John in the other room and sat down on the couch gingerly, glad to know the crème was working already although the cushions on the couch were no preparation for theater seats later in the evening.

"Okay?" John asked. He had turned the television to the local news but neither was really paying attention.

"Yes, mom," Rodney snarked. "The crème is good, by the way. Where'd you find that?"

"It's actually a custom blend," John answered. "Friend of mine runs a pharmacy and I talked him into making this for me. I run regularly and it's a good topical treatment for most muscle aches."

"You should patent that," Rodney said. "It's good stuff."

John shrugged. "My friend is looking into it but that sort of thing takes forever and the drug companies are a bear too deal with."

"Oh, I don't doubt it," Rodney agreed.

A discreet knock on the door announced their food and John poured Rodney coffee and handed him a roast beef sandwich. Rodney could see that John had something white looking. "Turkey?" he guessed.

John nodded around his full mouth.

It was a relatively simple sandwich, Rodney observed as he ate his own. Roast beef, cheese he thought might be provolone, mustard, lettuce and tomato on good, fresh bread made for an excellent sandwich. Home made potato chips rounded out the meal.

"We have about 45 minutes before we have to leave," John reminded Rodney.

"Not long enough for a nap," Rodney protested.

"A nap? John teased. "The night is young!"

"And I'm not quite so young anymore," Rodney sighed. "And out of practice, if nothing else."

"So what do you do besides work?" John asked.

"There are things besides work?" Rodney retorted.

"Ah! Have to take some time off," John said.

Rodney sighed. "That's what this is," he admitted. "I.. well, melted down at work and they made me take a week off. Threw me out bodily and cut off my access so I can't work remotely."

"Must be tough," John commiserated.

Rodney gave a grin. "Well, I came out here hoping to see a... friend isn't the right word. Larry is more than an acquaintance and even more than a colleague. I see him every year or two, mostly at conferences," he explained. "But Larry's out of town and your friend George offered to find me a... companion for the opera and... here you are."

"Good thing for me your friend Larry was out of town," John agreed.

"You know? Good for me, too," Rodney admitted softly.

The silence wasn't quite awkward but Rodney felt something fragile build between himself and John. He could tell from the look in John's eye that he felt it, too.

"Come on," John stood, breaking the silence. "We need to get dressed."

They helped each other with the cuff links although John was better at tying the bow tie than Rodney was. John stood behind Rodney and put his arms around him to tie the tie. "Can't do it backwards," John explained as he let Rodney lean against him. "Have to do it from here."

When he was done, Rodney turned and pressed a small kiss to John's lips. "Thanks."

John called housekeeping on their way out and asked that the room be freshened up while they were gone.

Rodney was faintly glad it wasn't George that was taking them to the theatre, although he didn't say that out loud.

"Some construction on the Hollywood Freeway," the driver announced. "But traffic seems to be moving relatively well and you should be in plenty of time for the curtain."

"Thank you," Rodney said, sliding into the back seat. John climbed in next to him.

The trip was essentially uneventful, John pointing out some of the sights, which Rodney admitted to having never seen. John kept it light and well within half an hour they were pulling up at the theatre.

"Show should let out about 10:30 pm," John told the driver.

The driver handed John a business card. "I'll wait as close to here as I can for you," he answered. "If you get out really early, give me a call."

Since it was early, there wasn't a line at the will-call window where Rodney picked up their tickets. They wandered to the bar where John ordered a beer but Rodney only ordered bottled water. They took their drinks to an empty table in the back of the bar.

"I'm convinced Tolkien was a fan of Wagner's Ring," John said.

"I thought I was the only person who saw that!" Rodney was surprised.

"Doesn't take a brain surgeon to put that together," John scoffed. "Although Wagner stole his story from basic Norse mythology anyway. So none of it's really original."

"The one ring story line is pretty prominent in both," Rodney observed. "A ring that conveys absolute power to the owner, created by a race of slaves for the master."

John grinned. "Tolkien just cleaned up the story line for his kids. I suspect he didn't want to have to explain infidelity, bastard children and incest to his kids."

"True," Rodney agreed. "Although neither one of them were any good at character names. Sauron and Saruman, give me a break!"

"Wagner was even worse," John offered. "Siegmund, Sieglinde and Siegfried? Sure, they're all related but the story line is dense enough without adding to the confusion."

"Let's find our seats," Rodney decided. "Not that I want to sit just yet, but I also hate to be late."

"Sure," John agreed, finishing up his beer.

They wandered into the lobby and climbed the stairs to the balcony seating. Rodney found himself puffing slightly as they got toward the top.

"Gotta get you to run with me in the morning," John teased.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "I don't run," he retorted. "Well, unless I have to."

"Scientists have to run?" John asked.

Backtracking, not able to talk about having to run from angry natives while on other planets, Rodney said, "When the morons I have working for me do something especially stupid in the lab, either I'm running to the lab to stop whatever they've done or I'm running from the lab because I can't stop what they've done. Either way, I have to run. Adrenaline reaction helps."

John laughed, as Rodney had intended.

They found the seats where Rodney had specified -- near the back of the balcony and on the aisle. It was partly because he never knew how Larry would react in a crowd but also because of Rodney's allergies. Perfumes tended to make him sneeze and it wasn't something Rodney wanted to put up with.

He and John stood at the very back as the crowd filtered in. The orchestra started to fill in and tune up. Rodney enjoyed this part of any musical theatre experience. He had taken piano lessons as a kid but had given the lessons up when the teacher had told him he'd never be anything more than technically proficient. He knew now that he could have been good at the piano but that pronouncement had pushed him into science, something he knew he was good at. Luckily, it hadn't ruined his enjoyment in music.

As the concert master called the orchestra to order, he and John moved to their seats.

At each of the two intermissions, the moved again to stand at the back of the theatre. There was a small concession stand and they each got bottled water. It was that or a diet cola, which had Rodney mentally shuddering. Rodney's ass was slightly uncomfortable, he took the pain pills he had brought at the second intermission, but the crème John helped immensely. He knew it would have been worse without it.

"You know, I understand about casting the voice and not the body," Rodney complained as they exited the theatre after the curtain call. "But I had a hard time believing Ortrud and Friedrich were ever compatible enough to have a child, much less raise her to be someone as lovely as Elsa."

John shrugged. "Well, if you consider it an arranged marriage then compatibility would never have been an issue."

"Okay," Rodney agreed. "I can work with that. But, well, she just didn't work for me."

"It was still a good production," John said.

"Oh, yes," Rodney said. "I did enjoy it."

"Now, how about some dinner?" John asked.

"Sure, those sandwiches were ages ago," Rodney answered. "What do you suggest?"

"Real Italian, not just pizza. We'll have the car drop us off and then we can take a cab back to the hotel after," John said.

"Sounds like a plan," Rodney agreed.

The food was as good as promised and Rodney watched his wine intake, not wanting a repeat of last night. He wanted to be aware of what was going on and was hoping for more sex with John. He wanted to be fully awake for that and didn't want to embarrass himself again.

As they got back to the room, the combination of food and wine made Rodney feel relaxed but not necessarily sleepy. His cock had been at half mast since dinner and now that they were back in the room, it came fully to attention. He spun John around, pushed him against the door and leaned their bodies together.

"This is all I've thought about for the last hour," Rodney said against John's mouth.

"Only the last hour?" John murmured. He sealed their mouths together.

"Bed," Rodney panted when they came up for air.

"Bed," John agreed.

They stumbled to the bedroom, stripping off their clothes. John grabbed the comforter and dropped it to the floor at the foot of the bed. John wound an arm around Rodney's waist and they dropped to the bed together.

Then John slowed everything down. He shifted so that their bodies were touching but not as intimately. The kissing became luxurious, tongues twining, nipping at Rodney's lips and jaw. John's hand roamed Rodney's body, settling on Rodney's chest and a thumb massaging Rodney's nipple.

Rodney ran a hand through John's hair, feeling the silkiness. He lightly ran a finger on the edge of John's ear, tracing the edge delicately. John moaned into his mouth.

"I want to taste you," Rodney stated.

"I... I don't do that." John pulled back to look at Rodney.

"You clean?" Rodney asked gently.

"Yeah, but you don't know that," John protested.

"I work for the US Government," Rodney stated. "Tested regularly and the only partner I've had in months, well, a year, is my right hand." He put that out there and left it to John to decide. For some reason, he trusted John to do whatever he was comfortable with.

Before Rodney could move, John had twisted around then looked back at Rodney, "I want to taste you, too." He lowered his mouth on Rodney's cock.

Rodney wriggled his shoulders closer to John, trying not to move his hips - not wanting to dislodge his cock from John's talented mouth. John let himself be moved so that Rodney had access to him. Rodney took a long, slow lick up John's cock. He used his free hand to massage John's balls while he mouthed the side of the cock in front of him.

The taste of pre-cum exploded in his mouth, making him water for more. Rodney took in the head, swirling his tongue around the circumference. Taking in a bit more, Rodney applied just a bit of suction. He had to think hard since John was doing something delicious around his own cock. He didn't want to come too soon, he wanted to make this last.

Rodney ignored what was being done to him and focused totally on what he was doing to John. He alternated licking and sucking with mouthing John's balls. He eased a hand between John's legs, rubbing the delicate skin behind the balls, working a finger toward John's hole. He brushed gently over the hole and John's hips stuttered as he did so.

Rodney pressed against the opening without breaching John and sucked firmly on the cock in his mouth. John bucked once and then was coming in Rodney's mouth. Rodney greedily drank down the bitter fluid that filled his mouth, gentling the suction as the ejaculation slowed.

Feeling John's fingers press against his own hole, Rodney suddenly found himself coming. He closed his eyes to savor the sensation flowing through his body.

John turned himself so they were face to face and Rodney tasted himself in John's mouth.

Rodney wrapped an arm around John, they wrested the sheets up over themselves and they fell asleep tangled in each other.

Rodney's bladder woke him the next morning. He could see daylight around the edges of the curtains and the clock shone 8:47 am. He didn't remember the last time he slept this late.

"Morning," John said in a sleepy, sexy voice, arching into Rodney's body.

Rodney gave him a quick kiss. "Hold that thought. Gotta piss."

"Mmmm..." John agreed, not opening his eyes.

By the time Rodney was done in the bathroom, John was sitting up on the edge of the bed. He went off to the bathroom as Rodney crawled back into the still-warm bed. It wasn't long before John was crawling back in with him.

"Hey!" Rodney said.

"Hey, you," John echoed.

Rodney leaned in for a more thorough kiss. John also had taken the time to brush his teeth, Rodney tasted mint and John. It was slow and sleepy, neither one of them pushing too fast. At some point, Rodney found himself on his back, John on top of him. Their cocks brushed together occasionally as they each moved. Slow, easy movements between them, hands brushing on skin, bodies moving together had pleasure on the edge of Rodney's consciousness but not demanding to be released.

John moved his hips against Rodney and the pleasure that had been just a gentle urge grew into more of a demand that needed satisfaction. Rodney arched up against John, pressing their groins together and put his hands on John's ass to hold them even more closely together. John jerked against him and Rodney felt warmth spread between them. Rodney held on to John and jerked his own hips and he was also coming.

They collapsed together, both breathing hard but Rodney was too relaxed to really care. John's weight on him felt warm and safe in a way he couldn't explain but could appreciate.

John slid off of him but didn't move too far. He lay next to Rodney, skin to skin, arm across Rodney's waist, chin resting on Rodney's shoulder. Rodney closed his eyes but opened them again when his stomach rumbled.

John grinned, "I suspect we both can use some food. Do you want to order in again or go out?"

"I... I thought you'd have to leave today," Rodney stuttered. "My... arrangement with your... friend George was for only until today."

John looked disconcerted for a moment and flushed. "Well, yeah, but... you're only here for one more day, right?" Rodney nodded. "I have no place special to be for a couple of days and since we're having fun, I don't have to leave."

"I..." Rodney didn't know how to discuss payment for more of John's time.

John leaned in for a quick kiss. "Don't worry about it," John declared. "Think of it as a bonus round."

Rodney wanted... so much... "Are you sure? I mean I can..."

"No," John said firmly before Rodney could mention money. "You're a fun person to be with and I'd like to spend the time with you until you have to leave."

"I would think you'd be... have lots of friends," Rodney pointed out. He didn't want John to lose out on any work because of him.

"Fewer than you think," John said softly, an admission of.. something that Rodney couldn't quite grasp.

"I'd like you to stay," Rodney offered, suddenly shy.

"It's a deal, then," John grinned. "Now, about food. Ordering in or going out?"

"Order in coffee and some pastry and then we can go out for some lunch since I need something that isn't pure sugar," Rodney decided. "I'll call, you did it yesterday. Start the shower?"

"Good enough," John replied, rolling out of the bed. Rodney took a moment to appreciate John's naked body before he turned to the phone. He ordered food and a newspaper to be sent up and wasn't surprised to be told an apologetic "about forty-five minutes"- he remembered it was Sunday and there probably were more late morning breakfasts than on a week-day.

John was already in the shower by the time Rodney got to the bathroom. Rodney joined him and it was in a comfortable silence that they cleaned up. Wrapping a towel around himself when they were done, Rodney wandered out to the bedroom for some clothes. He dressed casually in one of his new polo shirts and khaki pants. He walked barefoot out to the living room.

Ignoring the Sunday network news options, Rodney flicked through the channels on the television. John dropped onto the other end of the couch, dressed similarly.

Coffee and the paper came before Rodney found anything that he was interested in watching on the television. Turning off the set, he got coffee and took the section of the paper John handed to him. They took their time scanning the paper and Rodney watched John finish off the Soduko puzzle in short order.

"Just... been good with numbers," John waved it away. "And I do them all the time so I'm used to the patterns."

"Not so sure I could have finished it that fast," Rodney replied. "But doing them regularly must help."

"Ready for a walk?" John asked, obviously changing the subject.

"Sure," Rodney agreed. "Any place in particular?"

"Got a couple of ideas," John evaded. "Let's just get out for a bit."

"All right," Rodney decided to let John choose. He absently wondered at his own docility, he usually wasn't this agreeable or open to vague plans. He found socks and stuffed a handkerchief in his pocket so he was quickly ready to go.

Out on the street, John considered for a moment and headed right from the hotel entrance, going down the block. They strolled for a couple of blocks, looking at the shop windows and John stopped them in front of what looked to be a local restaurant - it definitely wasn't part of a chain. "Look okay?"

"Sure," Rodney said. "It's only one meal, as long as the coffee is good, I'll be happy."

"That works, then," John laughed.

Brunch was reasonably decent but not spectacular. On the other hand, some serious protein after the pastries he had earlier made Rodney feel even better.

"Even been to California before?" John asked.

"Couple of times," Rodney answered. "Mostly to visit my friend, or to go to a conference where I saw nothing but the airport and the hotel. Never as a tourist. I don't do tourist."

"Well, it's lunchtime on a Sunday in October, so... you up to some crowds?" John asked.

"What part of 'I don't do tourist' didn't you understand?" Rodney retorted.

John opened his eyes wide and put on an exaggeratedly sad face. "Really?" he whined.

"Don't quit your day job," Rodney snorted. "No, I don't do tourist."

"Rod-nee..." John drew out Rodney's name.

Rodney sighed. "What?"


"What? Are you twelve?" Rodney had to laugh at that.

"Come on," John wheedled. "It'll be fun."

"I seriously doubt that," Rodney put on a doubtful face.

"How do you know until you try it?" John asked seriously.

"I don't even know what it is," Rodney sighed dramatically. He could play the same game.

"You don't trust me," John sighed in reply.

"For some things," Rodney replied. "For this, not so sure..."

"You'll like it," John insisted.

Sighing again, Rodney gave in. He was supposed to be on vacation. "The minute things go bad, we go back to the hotel," he insisted.

"Yes, okay!" John perked up. "But they won't."

"Right," Rodney scoffed.

"Okay, finish up, then," John directed. "We need a cab."

"Give me a minute," Rodney said. "Go find a cab while I pay the bill."

"Yes!" John smiled. For that smile, Rodney would agree to almost anything. The thought was breathtaking.

By the time Rodney paid the bill and got outside the restaurant, John had a cab waiting.

"So, where are we going?" Rodney asked.

"It's a surprise," John insisted.

"You are twelve," Rodney declared.

John just laughed.

It wasn't a long ride when the cab pulled over to the side. "Best place to get out is here," the driver announced.

Rodney looked out the window. "Universal Studios? You're kidding!"

"Rodney, this is Hollywood! You have to see some of it." John got out of the cab.

Rodney paid the fare and stood on the sidewalk and looked around. "This is a tourist trap!" he protested.

"Yup," John agreed. "The studio is on the other end of the plaza. Come on!"

Rodney had to agree that it was interesting, at the very least. "I haven't seen this many stores in one place.. like ever."

"You can check them out later," John pointed out. "The fun part's on the other end."

They worked their way to the studio and Rodney didn't even flinch at the cost of admission. He used the SGC credit card although he did want to see O'Neill's face when he saw the credit card bill with admission to Universal Studio on the list.

As they sat eating a late dinner in the Hard Rock Café, Rodney admitted, "Okay, that was fun."

John grinned at him. "See? Told you so!"

"Although I do feel obligated to point out that my feet hurt, my hair will never recover from being under a baseball cap all day, although it was better than getting sunburned," Rodney whined.

"For the record, you looked good," John retorted. "And listening to you worry about skin cancer was less embarrassing than listening to you complain about the hat."

"I did not complain!" Rodney protested.

John just stared at him patiently.

"Okay. I complained. A bit," Rodney admitted. He was sitting down, he'd just had a decent meal and the coffee was good. He could afford to be generous.

"A bit?" John drawled. "I'd hate to see what happens when you complain a lot!"

"Ha! That's what got me sent on this vacation in the first place, remember," Rodney laughed. "I was in pretty rough shape when I had that meltdown. It wasn't pretty." Rodney was faintly appalled at how bad it had gotten before Jack O'Neill had intervened.

"Well, I for one am glad you ended up here," John declared. "You done? I think it's time we got going."

"Going?" Rodney was confused. "Going where?"

John leaned in and spoke so only Rodney could hear, "I'd like to fuck you into the mattress again tonight." The breath was warm against his ear.

Rodney groaned as his cock immediately came to full attention. He closed his eyes and willed himself back down so he wouldn't embarrass himself as they walked out of the restaurant.

"You have the best ideas," Rodney decided. "I'm ready."

It didn't take long for them to get out of the restaurant, John carrying a couple of their souvenirs from the day. A relatively short cab ride got them back to the hotel.

Once inside the room, John pulled Rodney into his arms and kissed him. "I've wanted to do that all day," he admitted.

Rodney could feel the warmth of John's body along his. "If you aren't careful, I'm not going to make it to the bedroom, much less long enough for you to fuck me," he warned.

John licked a stripe on the sensitive skin behind Rodney's ear then breathed on the damp skin. "We'd better move this to the bedroom, then."

This time, Rodney lay on his back as John fucked him. He watched John's hips move forward and back as John closed his eyes in concentration. Forcing his eyes to remain open, Rodney watched the expressions that crossed John's face as he came inside Rodney. Rodney came moments later, the image of John burned in his memory.

Rodney woke the next morning again wrapped around John. Ignoring his bladder, he relaxed into the warm body that seemed to naturally curl into his. He closed his eyes, hoping to doze a bit longer.

John stirred. "What time's your plane?" he asked sleepily. "And which airport?"

"John Wayne, and not until 5 pm," Rodney replied reluctantly.

"Good," John said happily. "We have some time and I can take you to the airport. 'tho we'll have to allow time for traffic," John admitted. "We'll need to leave about 1, I think."

"That early?" Rodney was dismayed.

"Gotta figure two hours to get there, and with the airport security it's just easier to get there early," John explained.

"I know, I know," Rodney admitted. "Just..." I don't want to go home, he realized. He hadn't even checked his email yesterday and he had no impulse to check it soon.

Rodney's bladder reasserted itself. "Let me use the bathroom," Rodney gave John a quick kiss. "Be right back" He slithered out of bed and went into the bathroom. He was still faintly sticky from last night and ran a warm washcloth over himself. He used another finger-full of John's crème on his ass - he needed to be able to sit in a plane later today.

John came in as he was finishing up. "You okay?" he asked seriously.

"Yes, very okay," Rodney replied firmly. "Just wanted to be sure. Don't worry."

"Just want that perfect ass of yours stays perfect," John teased.

"You've taken excellent care of it," Rodney promised with a small leer.

"If you're done here," John came closer, "I'd like to check it out. Just as a precaution, you know."

"Well," Rodney played reluctant. "I suspect it won't hurt to check..."

"No pain at all," John promised. He led Rodney to the bed and placed him face down, separating his legs. John crawled between Rodney's legs, touching and tasting every inch. Rodney never knew the backs of his legs could be so sensitive.

John finally reached his ass and took his time 'checking it out.' So long that Rodney was starting to become uncomfortably hard and wanted to move.

"None of that!" John said firmly, putting his hands on Rodney's hips to hold him still. "I have to check everything out before I'm done."

"You're killing me here!" Rodney protested weakly.

"I doubt that." Rodney could feel the grin against the skin on his back.

John worked his way up Rodney's back, tasting and kissing every inch of skin. His warm hands had Rodney's body confused... he wanted to relax into the warmth yet he was so hard and just wanted to come.

"Shhh," John whispered as he placed his body against Rodney's. Rodney could feel John's cock between the cheeks of his ass and he flexed just a bit to give a small squeeze. He was gratified to hear a small groan from John. John moved back and rolled Rodney so they were facing each other. Wrapping a hand about both of them, John leaned in for a long kiss. John didn't move his hand but the warmth of it, a firm pressure and the feel of John's cock along-side his moved Rodney closed to the edge.

"Move," Rodney ground out, placing his hand on top of John's. He flexed his hips and moved John's hand at the same time. Suddenly, John was coming between them, back arched and a small 'oh' of surprise on his face. Rodney pumped once, twice and he was coming also.

They lay there, panting together when Rodney moved slightly and said, "Ewww, wet spot."

John gave a quick kiss, "But fun to make."

"I need to clean up," Rodney decided reluctantly.

"I know. Me, too," John agreed.

This shower was relatively quick, although he appreciated when John scrubbed that spot on his back that he couldn't always reach.

"I need to pack," Rodney decided. "Do we want to eat in or out?"

"I'll order in," John said. "Get your stuff together."

Rodney looked in dismay at all the things he needed to pack. What was he going to do with it all? Deciding he'd figure it out later, he started getting everything he could into his duffle bag. It was a tight fit but he got it closed.

Wandering out to the sitting room, he joined John on the couch and they watched a local news show while they waited for their food.

After they ate, Rodney went through the rooms, checking to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. The tux hung forlornly in the closet, the staff would return it when they cleaned up the room. He compulsively checked the drawers, smiling slightly at the crumpled tube of lube in the bed-side drawer.

"Ready?" John asked from the door.

No. "Sure," Rodney said. "Let's go."

They stopped at the desk and Rodney settled the bill with the SGC credit card, he didn't even look at the total, while John got his car. Stepping outside, Rodney stared.

"A... Porsche?" Rodney was stunned.

John shrugged. "Got a good deal on it." Rodney could see he didn't really want to talk about it. He wondered what kind of clientele John had that he could afford the car.

John put Rodney's bag in the back while Rodney awkwardly climbed into the low-slung car.

"It's as close to flying as I could find," John explained semi-apologetically about the car.

It only took just over an hour to reach the airport. John offered a semi-apology, "Sorry to get you here this early. One fender bender on the expressways and you're stuck for hours and you'd miss your plane."

"That's okay," Rodney replied. It wasn't but there was nothing he could do about it. He got out of the car and John got his bag for him.

"Take care of yourself," John said.

"Yeah," Rodney replied morosely. He didn't know what else to say.

"Hey!" John said, coming closer. "It's okay."

"I..." Rodney stuttered.

John wrapped long arms around Rodney and held him close for a moment. He moved and gave Rodney a small kiss. "Thank you," he said.

Rodney couldn't speak, he just hung on for a moment. Feeling faintly silly, he let go and stepped back. "If you're ever in Colorado, look me up," Rodney offered.

"I'll do that," John promised solemnly.

"I... should go," Rodney pointed toward the doors. "And, you're in a tow away zone."

"It's okay," John said. "See you!" He climbed into the car.

Rodney watched the car pull away before he left the curb. He dragged his bag into the terminal and got into line to check in. Getting on the plane, Rodney felt like he was leaving something incredibly important behind.

Rodney took a cab back to the Residence Inn that he had stayed at... less than a week ago? It felt like a lifetime. Luckily they had a room available - a similar two bedroom suite, just on the second floor and slightly larger than the room he had on his previous stay - and he rented it for the next month. Staying in the Mountain 24/7 hadn't helped before and he needed someplace to go when he could get out. He used the SGC's credit card to pay for it, he figured they owed him that much.

He set up his computer and left a message for O'Neill, copied Zelenka, that he was back from his vacation, all rested, could he come back to work now? It wasn't until now that he realized that O'Neill hadn't even given him a phone to use... well, a week ago he would have thrown it at the wall probably and shattered it. Maybe O'Neill did know better.

He went to sleep, watching the television for a while but very aware that the bed felt empty and cold.

All is forgiven, come home when you're ready. We'll slay the fatted calf.

"Oh, har-de-har-har," Rodney snorted. "Keep your day job, O'Neill." But Rodney wrote back, Back by lunchtime.

Rodney called a cab to take him to the Mountain, figuring he could get a car from the pool for driving back and forth since he had already gotten rid of his own car in preparation for the trip to Pegasus. The cab let him off at the external checkpoint, Rodney showed his credential and another car took him the rest of the way.

"Feeling better?" O'Neill asked cheerfully when Rodney exited the elevator.

"Why, yes, thank you!" Rodney tried to glare at the General but failed. "Okay, this once, you were right."

"Good to know!" O'Neill peered closely at Rodney. "You son of a bitch! You did get laid!"

Rodney couldn't help the flush that spread over his face. "You told me to," Rodney figured he might as well be bold. "Just following orders."

"I think I should be jealous!" O'Neill grinned.

"Well, let's hope the bills don't arrive until after we've left for Atlantis," Rodney countered with a cocky grin.

"Walter'll bury it somewhere," O'Neill waved it off. "Go. Berate some minions."

Rodney turned and started toward the labs but stopped and turned back, "Ummm... thanks!"

O'Neill nodded. "You're welcome."

Now that Rodney was in a better frame of mind, annoyances that would have set him off a week ago could be ignored.

"Who are you and what did you do with Rodney McKay?" Zelenka demanded after Rodney simply refused a request for an experiment with the Stargate and didn't rant at the scientist who had made essentially a stupid and dangerous request.

Rodney shrugged. "Okay, O'Neill was right, I needed a break. I got one. Now, I'm as close to a human being as I ever will be. Good enough?"

"Better," Zelenka grinned at him.

It did feel good to have someplace to go at the end of the day. Rodney wheedled a car from the motor pool and drove himself back to the hotel. The staff had gotten his food order purchased and put away for him, so he cooked a burger while a potato cooked in the microwave. He got out his computer and worked on his engine project.

Some of the tension came back over the next week but nothing like it had been before his vacation. Escaping to his hotel room at night helped, even if some nights all he did was fall into bed and roll out in the morning. Making it harder to get to him all the time helped keep the minions at bay.

He finally got an email from Larry, about ten days after he got back to Colorado. It was typical Larry, not quite cryptic but it also didn't say a lot.

Rodney! Sorry to miss you. Great conference. Take Sheppard on; he's close to Hodge and he's what you need. -Larry

Who the fuck was Sheppard, Rodney wondered. "Radek? We have any applications from anyone named Sheppard?"

Zelenka shuffled through a stack of files, "I think so. Let me find it. Why do you ask?"

"Larry Fleinhardt put in a recommendation for him, or her. Well, you know Larry, as much as a recommendation as he'll give without pulling teeth," Rodney explained. "But, based on that, worth a look. And Larry seems to think Sheppard's almost solved one of the Millennial problems."

Zelenka looked interested at that. "Really? Which one?

"Hodge," Rodney informed him.

"He was in my yes, but no space pile," Zelenka said. "He's a good candidate, has no experience off world but he's a mathematician, a pilot and working on a second degree in electrical engineering. The SGC would want to scoop him up for his work on the Millennial problem alone."

Rodney considered. "Let's have him in for an interview at the very least," he started, then made a decision. "Based on Larry's recommendation, let's just hire him on and figure out what to do with him later."

"He can work for Samantha or at Area 51 at the very least," Zelenka proposed. He looked wistful. "Maybe we can trade Sheppard for Kavanaugh."

"Kavanaugh's on the IOA's list for some unknown reason," Rodney pointed out. "He's not intelligent enough to have naked pictures of anyone."

Zelenka shrugged. "If Sheppard checks out, maybe we can talk to Dr. Weir about a trade."

"That works," Rodney agreed. "Run him through the standard hiring routine and when it's done, I'll talk to him. I owe Larry that much."

Rodney was further intrigued when Zelenka told him Sheppard was ATA positive. That would be valuable on Atlantis, he knew. That moved Sheppard up the list to "extremely interesting."

"Still want to talk to Sheppard?" Zelenka asked. "He's been through the basic orientation and Sam's more than interested in keeping him if we don't want him."

"Yeah," Rodney replied absently. "Send him around to the lab when he's free. I can see him before I quit for the night."

Rodney was elbow deep in running simulations on the ZedPM and how they would get the amount of energy required from it to dial the gate to Pegasus. They needed to get as much energy as possible while trying to not drain the unit. He had four different simulations running and he switched between them to see which had the most promise.


That voice! Rodney couldn't breathe. He turned around to see John.

"Hey!" John said.

"Don't you hey me," Rodney said with a lot more steadiness than he would have thought possible. "How... what... what are you doing here?"

Rodney was stunned when the tips of John's ears got bright red and John shuffled in place. "Umm... we never met properly," he started. He moved closer to Rodney and held out a hand. "Dr. Zelenka sent me down to meet you, Dr. McKay. I'm Dr. John Sheppard, the SGC's newest mathematician. I believe I work for you."

Rodney shook the hand automatically and just stared.

"Ummm... glad to meet you?" John said, staring at their joined hands.

Rodney started. "Oh, right. Yes, ummm..." Rodney let go of John's - warm - hand.

In the following silence, Rodney offered, "Well, this is awkward."

"Slightly," John grinned.

The grin made Rodney feel better. "Okay, let me finish up here and then we... no, you have some talking to do."

John rubbed a hand on the back of his neck. "That's fair."

"Where are you staying?" Rodney asked.

"I have a room at the Hilton," John replied.

"Huh, I didn't know the SGC would put anyone up there," Rodney marveled.

An interesting look on John's face that Rodney couldn't interpret."Umm... can we talk about it later?" John almost begged.

Rodney was even more fascinated. "Sure," he said. "You need a ride?"

"No, have a car," John admitted. "Where do you want to go?"

"It's not special but I have food in my hotel room that needs to be eaten," Rodney offered. "You can come to my place and we can talk there? It'll be private and I suspect we'll need that."

"Yeah, okay," John agreed.

On their way out of the mountain, Rodney gave John directions to the Residence Inn. At this point, Rodney wasn't really surprised to see the Porsche in the SGC parking lot.

"I suspect you'll beat me there," Rodney grinned. "Don't get any speeding tickets. Jack O'Neill hates when we get them."

A quick smile. "Right," John answered.

Rodney's head spun all the way back to the hotel. He couldn't begin to reconcile the John he met in LA less than a month ago with Dr. John Sheppard. Knowing he'd be getting some answers shortly, Rodney focused on his driving, making sure he stayed close to the speed limit.

John pulled in right behind him, parking next to Rodney's sedan. The Porsche was out of place among the family cars and rentals that populated the parking lot but John didn't even look back as he joined Rodney on the sidewalk.

"Bathroom through there if you want to wash up at all," Rodney pointed to the second bedroom. "I'll get food started."

John wandered off to the bathroom and came back shortly. "What can I do?" he asked.

"Make coffee," Rodney pointed. "I need to be sober and awake for this conversation. Coffee and filters in the cupboard above the pot."

John got busy with the coffee and Rodney put the frozen stir-fry in a pan. On his own he probably could eat the entire package so he opened the bagged salad and set a couple of rolls to toasting. Seeing the salad, John dug out the dressing from the fridge and set the table.

Under any other circumstances, Rodney would have found the entire thing... cozy.

Rodney dished up the food and they sat across from each other. Rodney waved a hand at John, "I suspect this is a long story. You can start now."

"I was born in a cabin in the woods," John started.

"Okay, okay," Rodney laughed. "Closer to home. Tell me about... Larry Fleinhardt."

John obviously hadn't expected Rodney to start there. "Larry was chair of my dissertation committee. He's third on my engineering degree, which lacks only some paperwork." John took a bite of his roll and chewed for a second. "And, no I didn't sleep with Larry."

"Well, I did," Rodney countered. "Just because we're baring our souls here and all."

John nodded, accepting the jibe for what it was. "When I decided not to join the Air Force since I couldn't be a pilot, my dad expected me to join the family business. I already had my BA in Math at that point and as far as he was concerned, that was all anyone needed." John took a forkful of the salad. "It didn't go well when I told him I didn't want his corporate job and would be going back to graduate school. For something as unpractical as a doctorate in mathematics."

Rodney snorted. "What did he threaten to do? Cut off your allowance?"

John grimaced at that and hesitated. "Well, he couldn't touch my trust fund and my Aunt Nathalie, dad's sister, had made an open offer to me and Dave, my brother, that if we ever wanted to get out of the house we could come and live with her."

The name 'Nathalie' percolated through Rodney's head. Where... He looked at John in amazement. "You're a Sheppard Industries Sheppard?"

John stuck a mouthful of chicken in his mouth so he'd have an excuse to not talk while he chewed. "Ummm, yeah."

Rodney sat back, his dinner momentarily forgotten. Nathalie Sheppard Bending was well known in social circles for her generosity to what Rodney called "do gooder" organizations but also for providing scholarships to promising math and science students who needed short term help in finishing their degrees. Rodney was a second-hand beneficiary of that since one of his kinda-roommates let him stay in his apartment, the rent subsidized by a "Nathalie grant."

Sheppard Industries was a multi-national corporation, involved primarily in utilities but had subsidiaries in at least a dozen related areas from nanotechnology to agriculture. John's father was a billionaire and John had to be close to that himself.

"I suspect there's more," Rodney prodded.

John wriggled faintly uncomfortably. "Nathalie put me on to Larry and Larry took me in, pretty much sight unseen. Since I didn't really need an assistantship, I worked technically for the department but really for Larry for nothing. Larry would get me a couple of sections of various undergrad classes to teach each semester and let me sit in on any of his classes. I got my security clearance on a NSA project that..." he glanced at Rodney, "I suspect I can't tell you about."

Rodney replied. "Aliens, spaceships, doomsday devices, what else is there?"

"Well, you did have me at spaceships," John admitted. "Although aliens and travel to other planets sounds pretty cool."

"Oh, yeah," Rodney scoffed. "There's a lot of running for your life and hostile aliens out there, not to mention snakes that can take over your mind. It's not all pretty out there."

John shrugged. "Not all pretty here," he said. "When Larry told me to apply to the SGC, he didn't say too much but he made it interesting enough that I knew I had to try."

"Electrical engineering?" Rodney asked.

"Larry's idea," John admitted. "I was getting antsy and there wasn't an open faculty position, although I'm not sure I wanted to do that full time. At least not forever and the 'publish or perish' thing would be a bitch at some point. Electrical engineering let me apply the math and I focused on an applied communications theory. I lost a friend when his plane went down in the mountains. He got a message out as the plane went down but once he was off the radar, there was no telling where he really was. I flew on my own over the search area, well, it did tick off the Search and Rescue folk, until we had to admit there was no way he survived."

John took a drink of coffee and Rodney let the silence settle for a moment.

"And?" Rodney prompted gently.

"Some hikers found the plane almost a year later," John went on, not looking at Rodney, absently running a finger around the top edge of the coffee mug. "Holland had survived the crash. Left messages for some people. Best they could figure was that he was injured internally and died two, three days later. If he had a better radio, he might have been saved."

"So you set out to build that better radio?" Rodney asked softly.

"Yeah," John answered.

They ate in silence for a bit. Rodney finished up his plate, got up to put it in the dishwasher and poured himself another cup of coffee. "Want some more?" he waved the carafe at John.

"Sure," John said. "Good stuff."

"The best stuff," Rodney replied smugly. "Wait until you drink the swill they serve in the mess."

"Oh, had that," John laughed. "It was bad. Although that didn't stop Dr. Jackson from drinking down half an urn on his own."

"Daniel will drink anything," Rodney replied. "But when given a choice, he's quite the coffee snob, too." He saw that John was finished. "Put the dishes in the dishwasher. The cleaning folk will run it tomorrow."

Rodney sat back down at the table. Sitting at the couch seemed too... intimate.

"Okay, you've explained some things," Rodney allowed. "How the fuck did you end up at my door pretending to be a hooker?"

John blushed what Rodney figured was a whole-body blush. His mind went into some places he didn't want to go just at the moment, thinking about John's body, warm against his. He drew his attention sharply the man sitting on the other side of the table from him.

"Well, that is embarrassing," John started. "George works for the Air Enterprises business, doing the land portion of some of the tours."

"Wait," Rodney interrupted him. "You own that, don't you?"

John nodded.

"Okay," Rodney prompted. "Go on."

"George drives limo about town when business is otherwise slow and picks up folk at the airport like he did for you. It's his own car and the Air Enterprise accountants have some sort of a deal that he can run credit card charges through their accounts rather than having to have his own," John explained. "Saves him on the credit card charges."

"And?" Rodney prompted.

"George and Nathalie have been trying to get me to go out on a date forever. I'm not interested in just dating for dating's sake, done that. George figured that when he took you to Southern Cal and your person wasn't there in the Math building and you mentioned opera, he figured he'd carry out on his threat to hook me up with the first intelligent person he found, consequences be damned." John looked faintly embarrassed.

"And if it didn't work out?" Rodney challenged.

"I would have begged off, I had a call in arranged that came in when you went into the bathroom at the pizza place. I would have made my excuses with a story, probably something about a sick aunt. George would refund your money and no one would be hurt," John said.

"It was a lark?" Rodney was aghast.

John nodded. "Started out that way," John admitted. "Wasn't really going to stay at all, figured I'd humor George and Nathalie and get out right after dinner." John looked away for a minute. "But then you were... you. You're funny, good looking, smart..." In a smaller voice, John went on. "I had a good time. Didn't want you to leave."

"You idiot," Rodney replied in the same soft tone. "I didn't want to leave, either."

John gave a small, rueful grin. "Now what?"

Rodney sat back and thought. In less than a month he was leaving Earth on basically a one-way trip to a city in another galaxy. He wanted... so much... but he had to be honest.

"What I want to do is tie you to the bed, do filthy things to you for hours, sleep and do it all again," Rodney grinned then sobered. "The problem is that... the Expedition is full up. In fact, we've already added a couple of people Weir has decided are 'mission critical' so it's not like this... we... have much of a future. I don't want to start something I can't carry through on."

"I'm a fully grown person, Rodney," John said seriously. "If I can't go with you, I can't go with you. But, between now and the time you do, we can make some memories that will keep us both warm for a long time."

"I can't ask you to..." Rodney protested.

"You aren't asking," John replied. "I'm insisting."

Oh, fuck it! Rodney decided. He got up went around the table and pulled John up, who came easily.

John's hands went to his hips and held him while their mouth's met in a kiss. Soft, then demanding.

"You want to stay here?" Rodney asked when they broke for air. "Plenty of room."

"Hmmm..." John licked at the lobe on Rodney's ear. "A room with you, cooking our own food or room service at the Hilton?" John mused. "Here's a much better deal." A long, lush kiss. "I'll get my things tomorrow."

"Okay, bed now," Rodney insisted.

John laughed and followed Rodney to the bedroom.

After, their skin cooling Rodney drew lazy lines on John's back, not sure how to broach something they'd have to deal with before they went in to the Mountain in the morning.

"Come on," John encouraged. "It can't be that bad."

"Well, the awkward part is, technically, I'm your supervisor and... well, it's awkward," Rodney said.

"Oh, right," John thought for a moment. "How about if you let Zelenka be my immediate supervisor and I'll work hard not to give you reason to have to deal with me that way."

Rodney sighed to himself. Until someone better comes along, that is. It's only until we leave for Atlantis. I can manage that long. He had no doubt that John could do better than him, and would at some point. Aloud he said, "That should work. I'll let Sam know I've co-opted you for the project until we leave."

"Good," John said and wrapped himself around Rodney. "I missed this."

"Yeah, I did, too," Rodney admitted.

They slept like that. Waking in the morning, Rodney realized it brought them one day closer to leaving for Atlantis. One day closer to leaving John.

Rodney found a clean polo shirt John could wear so it didn't look quite so much that he hadn't gone back to his own place. "I'll check out of the Hilton after work and bring my things here," John told Rodney.

After loading up a travel mug with coffee and spreading jelly on a bagel to eat on the road, he kissed John in the parking lot. "See you at the Mountain."

They met up again at the checkpoint and separated when they reached the labs. John was still new enough that he didn't have any special projects to work on, so Rodney sent him off to work with Zelenka. Rodney knew Radek would appreciate someone who was ATA positive to help with some of the things they had in the lab.

Rodney went off to see Sam Carter.

"I've stolen Sheppard from you until we leave," he announced.

"Considering he's not started working for me yet," Sam shot back, "not a big deal. Besides, you're leaving in three weeks, I'll have him then."

"Yeah, I guess," Rodney replied moodily.

Carter eyed him seriously then said, "Rodney! I didn't suspect!"

Knowing his cover was blown and needing desperately to talk to someone, he closed the door on the lab and sat on a stool near Carter's.

"Sam, what do I do?" he begged. "This trip to Atlantis... it's the opportunity of a lifetime. Yes, I know, that's a cliché but it's true. I can't give it up."

"But you don't want to give Sheppard up?" Sam asked gently.

Rodney shook his head, miserable.

"I'm not sure I'm the one to be giving you advice," Sam said. "Just... you have three weeks, Rodney. See what happens."

Rodney nodded, knowing there was nothing to say. He got up and went toward the door. "Ummm... don't..."

She grinned at him. "Not until you leave, anyway."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Thanks a lot."

"You're welcome," Sam said. "Get out of here, you have work to do."

A deep breath and Rodney went on to his lab. Zelenka took John on gratefully, he used John to work on some of the artifacts that had accumulated because they didn't know what they were. Zelenka was hoping John's ATA gene would be useful.

Late in the afternoon as he and Zelenka were going over some of the work submitted to them, Rodney asked casually, "So how's John working out?"

"John, eh?" Zelenka grinned. "It takes you weeks toget my name right, you don't know any one else's name at all and yet Dr. Sheppard is John?"

Busted. "Okay, we... No. I don't have to explain anything," Rodney decided to brazen it out. He crossed his arms. "How is he working out?"

Zelenka just grinned. "Oh, my. This is serious." Rodney's glare didn't affect him at all. "If we could clone Dr. Sheppard and have... oh... three more of him, we could take over the galaxy." He shrugged. "He's good, he'll be better with some practical experience."

"How useful is his ATA gene?" Rodney asked.

"If I weren't straight, I'd want to get in his jeans, too," Zelenka leered as Rodney fought a blush. "It's good but... I want to try something tomorrow before I say for sure."

"Fair enough," Rodney answered.

Rodney knew John had left for the day ahead of him, primarily to pack and move in with Rodney. Whoa... that put an interesting spin on whatever they had going on between them. Rodney had shared apartments over the years but he had never lived with anyone.

"Hey!" John looked up as Rodney came in. "If you needed something, I could have gotten it."

"It's okay," Rodney said as he put the bags on the table. "Thought of this on the way home and it was on the way."

John peered in the bags. "Wine? Steak?" He looked at Rodney.

Suddenly, Rodney wasn't so certain of what he had done. He shuffled his feet and stuttered, "Well, you and I are... living together and, well, I've never done that before and..." Deep breath. "Thought maybe we'd, um... celebrate. Or something." He trailed off.

"Rodney!" John said softly. "Breathe. It's good." He stepped closer and gave Rodney a soft kiss. "Wish I had thought of it."

Rodney returned the kiss, enjoying the feeling of John's warm body against his.

"Thanks," Rodney said. "Let me get out of these clothes and get this started."

"I can start the potatoes and I pour a mean salad," John offered. "Go and change."

The sheer domesticity of sharing dinner and cleaning up made Rodney want to weep at the thought of losing this when he went to Atlantis. It wasn't anything he thought he'd ever want but now that he had it...

Lying in bed that night, John's arms wrapped around him, Rodney finally understood why Jeannie had dropped out of school to marry her English teacher. If what Jeannie and what's-his-name had was anything remotely like this, someone to love who loved her back, no wonder she gave everything up to keep it. He couldn't be sure John loved him the way Rodney knew he loved John but ... he could hope.

Rodney would give up Atlantis for John. If John gave him any indication that he would stick around, would welcome Rodney in his life, he'd give up Atlantis in a heartbeat. The realization stunned Rodney. He lay awake a long time, just thinking.

"Hey, sleepyhead," John teased. "Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you can lie in bed all day."

"Wha... " Startled, Rodney's head jerked up. "What time is it?"

"You're not late," John said. "Yet. But you will be if you don't get going."

Rodney shut his eyes to get the gritty feeling out of them. "Do I have time for a shower?"

"Not really," John was apologetic. "You were dead to the world so I let you sleep."

If Rodney had slept through John getting up and dressed, he had been pretty out of it. He knew it was related to his late-night epiphany but he'd worked on little to no sleep before. He could manage for one day.

"Be ready in ten minutes." Rodney slid out of the bed. He used a washcloth to freshen up and hopefully help wake himself up. He dressed in whatever was on top of the pile of clothes and made a mental note that they needed to do laundry soon.

It was mid-morning when the alarms went off. "Internal security alert. Bomb disposal to lab 47. Bomb disposal to lab 47. Shelter in place and base lockdown in effect."

Fuck! Lab 47 was where John was working with Zelenka this morning. The base lockdown meant that it wouldn't be easy for him to get to the lab from where he was and communications were co-opted by base security. Luckily, he had his own backdoors.

Rodney tapped into the communications network, a babble of voices that he mostly ignored. He connected his laptop to the network and searched for Zelenka's laptop that should be in Lab 47 with him. Zelenka must have the sound muted he thought as he watched what he could through the video camera in growing horror.

John stood in the middle of an open space with his hands on a glowing device. John's eyes were closed and Rodney could tell he was concentrating, most likely on the device he was holding on to. Members of the bomb squad, identifiable by their bulky gear, ran into the room. One of the bomb squad members seemed to be telling John to let go and John just as obviously wasn't going to.

Rodney recognized a Captain... Lorne? who came into the room and carefully approached John. John didn't move but seemed to be directing Lorne to place his hands next to John's. Lorne must be ATA positive, Rodney realized, and John needed someone else to help him. Lorne was talking to someone else and Rodney could hear O'Neill on the emergency communication channel directing that the Gate be dialed.

The device suddenly flickered and went dark. John barked something at the bomb squad and they scooped the device into a container and left the room at a run.

John and Lorne relaxed slightly, Zelenka coming up to check on them. It wasn't long before an 'all clear' came over the base system and the lockdown was lifted.

Rodney raced down to the lab and demanded, "What the fuck was that?"

"See? I told you Rodney would watch!" Zelenka announced.

"Yes, of course, I watched but you have the microphone turned off," Rodney ranted. "What the fuck happened here?"

"One of the toys Radek had me working with turned out to be a bomb," John explained. "I could almost keep it from exploding but until..." John looked at the other man who introduced himself as "Evan Lorne."

"Until Lorne here came in, it wouldn't turn off," John continued. "Since we couldn't be sure how long it would stay off, O'Neill had it sent out through a space gate."

"I could tell I wouldn't have been able to keep it from exploding," Lorne put in. He turned to John. "Your ATA gene has to be much stronger than mine and there aren't many here who have a stronger gene."

"Really?" Rodney jumped it. "It's that strong?"

"I'd classify it up there with General O'Neill's," Lorne stated.

"Zelenka?" Rodney asked.

"I was thinking John's gene was good, not sure until now how strong it was," Zelenka answered. "Now, I think it may be stronger than the General's."

"How can we..." Rodney snapped his fingers. "I know. John... come with me."

"Rodneee..." John whined.

"Oh, give me a break," Rodney protested.

"Rodney," John was firm. He didn't move.

"All right," Rodney gave in. "The Daedalus is in orbit. We can be transported to the Antarctic site and..." he hesitated. "He can sit in the Chair," he proposed to Zelenka.

"Chair?" John asked, confused.

"Ancient control Chair," Rodney explained patiently. "The one O'Neill used to save the planet from Anubis."

"Wait. General O'Neill saved the planet with a chair?" John asked, confused and looked between Rodney and Zelenka.

"Long story," Rodney cut off Zelenka's and Lorne's explanations. "Trust me?"

John sighed. "Okay," he agreed. "Teleporting? Really?" His face lit up and Rodney had to laugh.

"Stick with me, kid," Rodney laughed. "It gets better."

Rodney led John down to O'Neill's office. "We need to get to the Antarctic Outpost. The Daedalus is in orbit and can get us there and back in no time."

"McKay! It's not your personal transportation," O'Neill huffed.

"I think Sheppard's ATA gene is stronger than yours," Rodney offered.

O'Neill raised an eyebrow at that. "Really?"

Rodney crossed his arms. "Really."

O'Neill threw up his hands, "Fine! Go!" He leaned out the door and spoke to Walter. "Get McKay and Sheppard to Antarctica."

A flurry of activity got them parkas before they moved to a location where they could be transported to the spaceship. The look on John's face when they stood on the Daedalus briefly was worth the scare he had earlier. Then they were on the ice in Antarctica and Rodney shivered in the cold air.

He hustled John into the elevator and they were greeted by Dr. Elizabeth Weir at the bottom.

"Rodney! General O'Neill said you were coming," she welcomed them. She held out a hand to John, "Dr. Sheppard, glad to meet you."

John shook her hand, "Glad to finally meet you."

"Come on, come on," Rodney bounced on his toes.

"Excited much?" John drawled.

"Yes. Now come on," Rodney all but dragged John down the corridor toward the chair.

They entered the chair room and John slowly walked around the chair, looking it over carefully. "I just sit on it?"

"Well, yes," Rodney answered, suddenly wanting to let John take this at his own pace.

John straddled the foot rests and eased himself into the seat. The chair lit up before he was settled in it and it eased back and extended. A low hum emanated from the device and Rodney would have sworn it was a hum of happiness.

"Now what?" John asked.

"Think of where we are in the universe," Rodney told him.

A globe - Earth - and its moon appeared above John's head. It shrank and the sun and the rest of the planets appeared.

"Hold it there!" Rodney commanded. He wanted to see what kind of control John had.

The image stopped moving and held, frozen, above them.

"Oh, my!" Weir said faintly from behind Rodney.

"Did I do that?" John asked with a touch of awe in his voice.

"Now," Rodney prompted, "expand the view to the next level."

John briefly closed his eyes and the display changed. The solar system shrank and more suns appeared.

"Now, go back to the solar system and show the Earth and the moon," Rodney directed.

He could see the concentration cross John's face for a moment until there was an unspoken Aha! moment. The picture shifted and the image became the Earth and the moon as Rodney had asked.

"What else?" John asked.

"I think that's it for now," Rodney decided.

John must have told the chair to shut down since it sat him up and powered down as he climbed out of it.

"That was... weird," John declared.

"Weird-good or weird-bad?" Rodney probed. "Talk to me."

"There's coffee," Weir announced before John could answer. "Let's get some and talk."

Rodney had forgotten she was there. "Good idea," Rodney replied.

"Thanks," John said. "I need something to drink."

They got coffees all around and sat around a table that Weir had evidently appropriated as her own.

"Tell us about it," Weir directed.

John took a drink of coffee, obviously to have a chance to gather his thoughts. "It... it was in my head," he started. "I couldn't quite talk to it but it responded to clear directions. It's not alive but... it is. It knows we're here and it's conserving power but it has an imperative to talk to Ancients... whoever they are."

"Okay, where's Daniel when we need him?" Rodney complained.

"I suspect we need more than Dr. Jackson," Weir decided. "How about if we all go back to the SGC and see if we can make sense of this."

"Good idea," Rodney replied. "Besides, it'll be warmer there."

John didn't say anything on their walk back to the elevator but he hesitated in front of the chair for a moment.

"John?" Rodney asked softly.

"It..." John was obviously frustrated. "I don't know what it wants."

Rodney moved closer and pulled John into a hug. It was faintly awkward in the parkas but it was an impulse that Rodney decided not to resist. Knowing Weir was waiting for them, Rodney let go and herded John toward the elevator.

John was withdrawn on the transfer back to the SGC. They handed the parkas over to the waiting Marines and Rodney led John and Weir to a meeting room. Fortunately, someone had left them coffee and sandwiches and they gratefully dug in.

O'Neill came in as Rodney was finishing a second sandwich. John had more played with a sandwich than eaten it but he had had more coffee. "Well?" he asked.

"I'd like to have Dr. Sheppard assigned to the Atlantis Expedition," Weir started. "It looks like his ATA gene is at least as powerful as yours, if not more powerful. That's a tool we need to be able to take advantage of."

"Dr. Sheppard? You interested in going on what may be a one-way trip to an unknown galaxy with these crazy people?" O'Neill asked.

John looked at O'Neill and hesitated. "You sat in that chair."


"How do you turn it off?" John asked with a faint level of desperation in his voice.

Rodney was up and moving before he realized what he was doing. He spun John in his chair and put a hand on John's shoulder. "John? Talk to me!" he commanded.

O'Neill was just behind him. "Easy," he said much more gently than Rodney would ever have given him credit for. "McKay, find Daniel and meet us in the infirmary."

"What can I do?" Weir asked from across the room.

"Call the Infirmary and tell them we'll be down shortly and need an isolation room," O'Neill directed.

Rodney tamped down his rising concern and moved away from John, to let O'Neill in. He watched as O'Neill guided John up and started to move out of the room. Rodney focused on what he needed to do to find Daniel Jackson.

Having to trust O'Neill to take care of John, Rodney went to Daniel's office. "O'Neill wants me to bring you to the infirmary. John sat in the control chair and... he needs some help."

Daniel got up immediately, to Rodney's relief. "Sure. Come on."

They hurried to the infirmary and Rodney outlined for Daniel what they had done at the Antarctic Outpost.

There was minor confusion at the Infirmary. Carolyn Lam had John in an isolation room, O'Neill was in there and they waved Daniel into the room. Weir waited outside the room and Rodney stood next to her. He was torn, wanting to be with John but not wanting to disturb whatever was going on.

Carson Beckett came up and asked, "Dr. Lam just had me paged. What's going on?"

Weir put a hand on Rodney's arm to stop him from speaking. "John Sheppard turns out to be highly ATA sensitive. We were just at the Atlantic Outpost and he and Rodney were using the control chair to test Dr. Sheppard's sensitivity. Evidently something went wrong, John was just complaining about something not 'turning off' in his head. O'Neill brought him down here and everyone's just got here."

"Thanks, Dr. Weir," Carson said. "Let me see what I can do to help."

"I know Carson is ATA positive," Rodney complained. "But he's so frightened of the gene that I'm not sure what good he can do."

"I don't know either," Weir replied patiently. "Let's just find some chairs and get comfortable for a bit. They'll tell us something when they know something."

Eventually, Weir made Rodney leave the infirmary with her to get some food, using Rodney's hypoglycemia as an excuse. Rodney ate mechanically, fretting all the time they were away from the infirmary. Elizabeth make Rodney focus on the plans for the Expedition by asking questions of plans that had been made, things that still needed to be done, items they wanted but hadn't been able to get. Rodney had to think hard to be able to keep up his end of the conversation but he was grateful to Weir for the distraction.

Back in the infirmary, Rodney sat watching the room they had John in. Eventually, Carolyn Lam came out and said, "He's asking for you. You can have five minutes."

"Is he..." Rodney couldn't ask. He just found John, he couldn't lose him now.

"Oh, sorry, someone was supposed to talk to you," she sighed tiredly. "He'll be fine, we just want to keep him overnight now."

"What happened?" Weir asked.

Lam shrugged. "It's related to his ATA gene, far as I can tell. Best I can explain is that several of the ATA positives helped him organize the information the Chair poured into his head. Daniel had helped the General with that the second time he had an entire Ancient repository downloaded into his head. Between the General and Dr. Becket, they helped Dr. Sheppard maintain his equilibrium until he was able to manage on his own."

Rodney didn't care at the moment what had happened, just that they fixed it. He stopped Dr. Lam from explaining further. "I can see him?"

"Sorry," she said. "Yes. He'll fall asleep on his own shortly. But I suspect he'll fight it until he gets to see you."

Rodney went into the isolation room, catching sight of John lying still under the sheet.

"Hey!" he said softly.

John's eyes opened, green and bright, even in the low light. "Hey!"

"I'm not taking you anywhere again," Rodney said the first thing that came to his mind, slipping his hand into John's.

"Hell of a field trip," John agreed, gripping Rodney's hand tightly.

"You... scared me," Rodney managed to get out. "I... I've gotten used to having you around."

"Not going anywhere, Rodney," John said, the eyes glittering seriously.

"You're supposed to sleep," Rodney said.

"I sleep better with you, you know," John replied.

Unaccountably pleased with that thought, Rodney couldn't hide the smile. "Dr. Lam wouldn't approve."

"Dr. Lam wouldn't approve what?" her voice came from behind him.

"Rodney could stay," John asked wistfully.

"Rodney can go sleep in his own bed tonight," she said firmly. "And not come back until almost lunchtime, either."

"Geez, Doc!" John whined.

"Dr. Sheppard needs to sleep," Dr. Lam ordered. "Alone."

"You're no fun!" John protested.

But Rodney could see that he was only staying away by sheer force. Fuck it. He leaned in and gave John a soft kiss. "I'll be back to spring you tomorrow," he promised. "Okay?"

John raised his head a fraction and Rodney gave him another kiss. "Promise?" John asked.

"Yes," Rodney promised softly.

"'kay," John lay back and closed his eyes. The hand Rodney was holding squeezed his once and then let him go.

"'night," Rodney said.

Weir must have guided Rodney to a room, he found himself standing blankly in a room looking at a bed. He used the bathroom, stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers and dropped off to sleep.

Rodney fumbled for his watch when he woke up. 9:00! He rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom. He hesitated before turning on the shower, figuring that if things had gone bad, Weir would have called. He'd also feel generally better.

He eyed his used clothes and put them back on since he had nothing else to wear. When he was dressed, he went back out into the SGC and to the Infirmary.

It was with relief that he saw John sitting up and eating. John looked up and smiled when he saw Rodney. "Hey, you!"

"Got any more of that?" he eyed John's breakfast as he leaned over for a quick kiss.

"Not allowed to share," John said sadly. "Lam thinks I'm too skinny and told me I had to eat everything on the tray."

"Then I need to find some coffee," Rodney decided.

"Awww... you came to see me before you got coffee?" John teased.

Rodney felt himself blush. "Well, don't get used to it," he grumped but smiled to take the sting out of that. "I'll be back soon as I can."

"Lam's not going to let me out before lunchtime," John told him with a grimace. "She has some more tests she wants to run and will make me eat lunch."

"She hasn't seen you eat like I have," Rodney said. "You do fine."

"Dunno," John said, picking at the last of the breakfast. "Go get some food. Check in your labs. I'll make sure someone calls you when I'm ready to get out of here."

"You sure?" Rodney asked reflexively, secretly grateful that John understood he had things to do, now that John was out of danger. "I can come back."

"Tell me you have nothing to do," John rolled his eyes.

"Okay, yes, I do," Rodney leaned in for a longer kiss. "Call me when Lam's ready to spring you."

Multiple cups of coffee and some food made him human enough to face the labs. Zelenka had been picking up the slack over the last day while he and John were first in Antarctica and then when John had collapsed.

"I take it John is better?" Zelenka asked as Rodney made it to the lab.

"Yes," Rodney replied. "He should be able to leave the infirmary after lunch."

"Well, that just adds to the good news then," Zelenka informed him with a delighted grin.

"What? What do you know?" Rodney demanded. "They've found another ZedPM and are letting us take it with us!"

Zelenka shook his head. "Well, not quite that good." He gave a smile. "But almost."

"I don't have time for twenty questions," Rodney sighed, frustrated. "Tell me."

"Kavanaugh turned in his resignation. He's not only not going with us to Atlantis but he's quitting the SGC entirely," Zelenka said with a smile.

Rodney stared. "What? What happened?"

"He has been offered his own lab," Zelenka said, slightly less enthusiastic. "He has been offered carte blanche to take over the lab at some place called Korval Industries. 'Huge paycheck and I am in charge,'" Radek mimicked.

"Korval Industries? What do they do?" Rodney wondered.

"Does it matter?" Zelenka asked. "Hopefully, he will not damage too much nor kill too many people before they realize how incompetent he is."

"Should we warn them?" Rodney asked.

"I think not," Zelenka dismissed the idea. "Or he will come back like bad pfennig."

"True," Rodney agreed. Discussion turned to other tasks they need to complete in the time they have left.

Weir was in John's room when Rodney came in response to John's call that Lam had indicated he was free to leave. He was holding the clothes from yesterday and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Good, you're here," Weir said when she saw Rodney. "I take it you've heard that Dr. Kavanaugh has resigned from the SGC and the Expedition?" When Rodney nodded, she continued. "I've confirmed that Dr. Sheppard will be taking his place."

"About time!" Rodney was glad this had worked out. "John's ATA gene will be a major asset."

"What do you remember from last night?" Weir asked John.

John shifted uncomfortably, which Rodney knew that John had something he didn't want to really talk about. "Not too much," John hedged. "It was like being in a crowded room and everyone talking at once. And I know most of it wasn't even in English. It was just overwhelming. When it got loud, then it got to be too much."

Weir nodded and Rodney figured she would accept that. For now.

"Can I get out of here?" John all but whined.

"Oh, yes," Weir told him. "Do let me know if you remember anything?"

John nodded and Weir left. John started pulling on his clothes.

"Can you leave?" Rodney asked. "We both need to get out of here and some clean clothes would be nice."

"No one said I couldn't," John answered with a small grin.

Rodney called Zelenka to check in and let the other man know he'd be leaving the Mountain. "Early tomorrow, yes, I'll be here," he promised knowing he was leaving Zelenka somewhat in a lurch -- again -- this close to their departure date.

Rodney drove them back to the hotel in silence, giving John some space. Clothes dropped in the bedroom on the way to the shower where showering together was more about caring than sex. Rodney made John eat some soup and a roll before guiding him to bed. Rodney had 'slept' in the infirmary more than once and knew John was even more tired than he was.

It was dark when Rodney woke, alone in the bed. He padded to the bathroom and then out to the living room to find John watching the Home Shopping Network.

"Huh," Rodney offered. "Maybe we can take some of those as beads to trade with whatever natives we find." The jewelry offered for sale wasn't - quite - tacky but it came close. Even to Rodney's non-fashion senses. "Want some coffee?"

"It'll keep you up," John answered.

"I am up," Rodney pointed out wandering into the kitchen area. He started coffee for himself and blearily watched the television as it brewed. He fixed two cups, one for himself and the other for John and took them both out to the couch. He handed John one cup and sat on the opposite end of the couch.

"Want to talk about it?" Rodney asked, taking a drink of his coffee.

John took a drink of his coffee. "Not really," he replied. "But, it just is so weird."

Rodney snorted. "Welcome to the SGC," he said. "It gets worse."

"Thanks," John laughed.

Rodney let him be for a moment. "So, tell me about it."

"It wasn't anything special at first," John recounted. "Sitting in the chair was actually cool. But, I think that's where it happened. All the things I've handled in the lab didn't feel like that but the chair... pulled it together, I guess. By the time we got back to the SGC, it was like there was a voice... voices... in my head and most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about." He took a drink of coffee. "There would be phrases in Ancient that would almost make sense... kind of like Spanglish... a combination of Ancient and English to make a phrase, a sentence that was totally out of context and made no sense. By the time we saw O'Neill it had pretty much taken a life of its own."

"What... how did they fix it?" Rodney wondered.

John shrugged. "O'Neill and Jackson at least pulled me out of it enough to focus and then I think it was O'Neill and that doctor..."

"Beckett," Rodney filled in. "Carson Beckett."

"Yeah, him. O'Neill's gene is stronger than Beckett's but Beckett's handled more Ancient equipment and has a better... feel for it. Together, they used their gene to get the..." John hesitated, looking for a word, "attention of mine, to allow me to get control over it."

"Now?" Rodney asked.

"It's still there," John answered. "But I have some control over it. Daniel said if we had more time, he'd teach me something about meditating, he thinks that should help with fine tuning the control. Right now it's essentially dialed down and set on mute. But no one's sure what it will take to have any real control over it."

"Is it safe for you to go to Atlantis?" Rodney really didn't want an answer to that question.

"No one knows," John was pragmatic. "It may be fine, it may not."

Rodney was silent, thinking through the alternatives. He offered, "If you think we should stay here..."

"No!" John was firm. "Whatever happens, we're..." Rodney was absurdly pleased with the emphasis on the we, "going and going together."

"I suppose," Rodney pretended to think about it but gave his own grin.

"Come back to bed," John declared. "Tomorrow's going to be a long day."

"Really long," Rodney agreed. "I owe Zelenka big time at this point. I should let him have a couple days off after picking up the slack." He looked down at his empty coffee cup. "Not sure I'm going to sleep, though."

"Who said anything about sleeping?" John leered.

Rodney laughed, "Okay, that I can do." He followed John into the bedroom.

Morning came too early but Rodney was feeling too good to mind. In the lab, he awkwardly offered to Zelenka, "If you have anything you need to do... I mean, you've been... helpful and all. Maybe you need a day to.. do something?"

Zelenka peered over his glasses, "Did you two get any sleep at all last night?"

Rodney pretended to scowl, "Fine then."

"No, no... yes, I have things I would like to do. Is today good?" Zelenka put in.

"Go, do, "Rodney waved a hand at him."I'll manage."

"Thank you," Zelenka replied. He shut down his workstation and started to leave. "Oh, rumor has it that Kavanaugh's new job at Korval is part of Bending Industries."

"What?" Rodney exclaimed. "They'd know better than to take someone like Kavanaugh on." Then a thought clicked. "Unless..."

"Unless what?" Zelenka demanded coming back into the lab.

"No, let me see what I can find out," Rodney answered. "Go. Enjoy your day."

"I will," Zelenka said.

By mid-afternoon, Rodney's headache had expanded to the point that the next person who came with a stupid problem was going to get their head taken off and stuffed up their ass. He truly appreciated how Zelenka had 'protected' him from the most moronic of the staff and wondered if there was any way he could get the man a raise.

"Hey!" A voice came from the doorway.

"WHAT NOW?" Rodney yelled over his shoulder, deeply immersed in the simulation he was running that had been interrupted too many times to count.

Warm hands came on his shoulder, "Okay, you need a break. Now." John's hands massaged tight muscles and Rodney all but moaned as John hit a tight knot.

"Lunch," John insisted. "Well, almost dinnertime."

"I've finally gotten some work done," Rodney whined. "I need to get the power projections run to get them to Sam so she can take a look at them tomorrow."

"Food... coffee..." John drawled. "I'll get you back in half an hour. Promise."

Rodney sighed. "Okay, let me set this up..." He tapped at the keyboard and watched the information start running across the screen. He locked the terminal and turned to John. "Let's go. I need to get back."

"Hey, I'm not the one stopping to do something before we leave," John teased. But he put a warm hand on the small of Rodney's back to usher him out of the lab.

Since it was between lunch and dinner and the mess didn't have much hot food to offer, they had sandwiches and coffee. There were chocolate chip cookies, so Rodney was happy enough.

Around a mouthful of sandwich, he said, "Thank you for getting rid of Kavanaugh, by the way. What did you have to give to have that happen?"

John gave him the worst 'who me?' face Rodney had ever seen.

"Turns out that Korval Labs is part of Bending Industries?" Rodney prompted.

John shrugged. "Maybe he got that on his own," he answered.

"Bending," Rodney sang. "As in Nathalie Sheppard Bending."

Another shrug but a small grin this time. "Auntie Nathalie made me promise to call if I needed anything..."

"Auntie Nathalie is going to kill you when she figures out what you've made her do," Rodney pointed out.

"Oh, she knows," John smirked. "I wouldn't do that to my worst enemy. She's only got to keep him occupied until we leave, then she can do what she wants. Which will most likely be to kick him out on his ass."

"You are evil," Rodney laughed.

John placed a hand on Rodney's. "You want to go to Atlantis. I wanted to go with you," he said softly. "I don't do it often but since I could pull strings like that, I did."

Rodney turned his hand so their fingers twined together. "Thank you."

Before Rodney knew it, it was the Departure date. He and John had given up their room in the Residence Inn and moved in to the SGC full time. Rodney, and everyone else, worked close to twenty hours a day, sleeping for a few hours only when John would drag him back to their shared room.

Rodney watched as Sergeant Siler put the finishing touches on the jerry-rigging they had attached to the ZedPM. "That should do it, Dr. McKay," he announced.

"Okay, Sergeant, give it a try. The ZedPM should light up when it senses the conductive connection to the Gate." Rodney reminded him.

Rodney dropped the ZedPM into the slot and couldn't help a huge grin when the system lit up. "Oh, yeah!"

Weir walked to the front of the Gate room. "Alright, here we go. We are about to try to make a connection. We have been unable to predict exactly how much power this is gonna take and we may only get the one chance at this, so if we are able to achieve a stable wormhole, we're not gonna risk shutting the Gate down. We'll send in the MALP robot probe, check for viability and go. Everything in one shot. Now, every one of you volunteered for this mission and you represent over a dozen countries. You are the world's best and brightest; and in light of the adventure we are about to embark on, you are also the bravest. I hope we all return one day having discovered a whole new realm for humanity to explore, but as all of you know, we may never be able to return home. I'd like to offer you all one last chance to withdraw your participation."

No one moved.

Weir looked up at the control room, "Begin the dialing sequence."

Rodney could see several of the scientists hold their breath as the Gate dialed. ... six ... seven ... "Chevron eight is locked," a voice intoned. The whoosh of a wormhole connection made this a reality.

Rodney watched a MALP go through the gate and rushed to the control room. Commandeering a terminal he held his breath until MALP telemetry starts to flow.

"Radar shows a large room," Rodney announced from his screen.

"It's structurally intact?" Daniel asked.

"Sensors say there's oxygen, no measurable toxins. We have viable life support," he reported. Straightening from the screen he said, "Looks like we're not getting out of this."

Rodney wanted to applaud when Weir didn't let Sumner take control. They went through the wormhole together and he and John were in the next wave.

They came down the ramp, side by side, looking around at the dark room in front of them. As John stepped off the ramp, the floor under him started to glow. They went up a set of stairs and they lit up as John walked up them.

Looking down at the steps, John said in a voice of wonder, "I did that!"

"John, talk to me," Rodney commanded.

John closed his eyes for a moment and then looked at Rodney with shining eyes. "It's talking to me... she's talking to me." He turned in place, taking in the light growing about him.

"Rodney, I've come home."