anchises: (Default)
anchises ([personal profile] anchises) wrote2008-10-06 07:09 pm

Deceleration. McKay/Sheppard. Mature. 5400 words.


by Anchises

John knows that he needs help to slow down.

McKay/Sheppard. Mature themes and content. 5400 words. A transformative work.

Creative Commons License

"But Moooom!"

John closes his eyes as the sound of the small child's voice screeches through his head, wishing to God that he could go to one of the Atlantis docs and either tranq the kid or get some of the good crack for headaches. The food court of the Chapel Hills Mall was not where he had wanted to spend the afternoon three Saturdays before Christmas. No matter how much they needed to buy clothes that weren't Air Force issue. "Rodney, I am going to shoot somebody in a minute."

"Yes, yes, quiet, Sheppard, I'm trying to have a moment with this dumpling." Rodney bites into the dumpling, golden and glistening on the outside, oily and oozing on the inside. "Mmm--oh, God, I missed you, dumplings. And I missed you too, spring rolls. And you, beef and broccoli. Sheppard, I swear to you, we are bringing back an entire Chinese kitchen and possibly as much frozen Chinese food as I can cram through the Stargate in thirty-eight minutes."

John's voice is low and vibrating with the tension he feels. "Rodney, I--"

Rodney blinks, half a dumpling in his mouth, closes his eyes and winces, then swallows. "Oh, fuck, John, I had no--I didn't realize that--fuck, hang on," and he's squeaking the pieces of styrofoam container together and putting them in a bag, and saying, "I'm so sorry, you know how bad I am at non-verbal cues, oh, damn it."

Thirty seconds later they're out into the freezing Colorado air, thin and colder than anything apart from M-whatever-it-was, the ice planet, and thirty seconds after that they're in the soulless rental car that's pretending to be all muscle, but it's really just protein shake and creatine and molded plastic, and John's trying to hold it all together, because the Reintegration Briefing hadn't really been worth a damn.
"If stress increases, you are more susceptible to experiencing trauma.

Trauma is the result of feeling or being threatened by death or serious injury, to yourself or others."

The powerpoint slides had been a colossal embarrassment of clip art and platitudes mixed with some rotating animations, stock photos of pretty perky blondes in heels kissing their GI Joes and smiling perfect American "nucular" (so the Very Serious presenter had said) families.

"Try not to freak the fuck out, son," Reynolds had said in the Commissary, coffee in one hand and a Krispy-fucking-Kreme in the other.

O'Neill had sent a short email strongly suggesting that John speak to one of four people when he got back. Reynolds had been the only one on-base.

"You're back for a month, not the rest of your life, but try to unwind a little. Tequila helps. Oh, and don't get too hung up on that I-statement-feelings bullshit. It's gonna take some time to come down from almost getting snaked every day, or getting eaten alive by Wraith, or whatever."
They're an hour north on I-25 towards Denver when John finally starts to relax. Rodney's been silently munching his way through General Tso and Moo Shu pork and what seems like a metric fuckton of dumplings. John wonders how Rodney isn't in a coma from MSG poisoning, then decides that MSG is a much better way to die than the Wraith. He reaches over and plucks a dumpling off the top, popping it in his mouth. It's only just warm, wet and a little bit slimy in his mouth, but he forces himself to chew.

Rodney gets John to pull off the Interstate when they hit the south end of Denver. "Seriously, John, I understand where you are in your head right now, but I'm going to need a computer in this galaxy, and we need some clothes and stuff, and you don't need to come in, but--"

John parks at the far end of the mall car park and takes a deep breath, steadying himself.

"Relax," Rodney says, putting a hand on John's arm, "I've got this one, okay?"

John's cycled through all the twenty-three radio stations in Denver more times than he's okay with when Rodney appears in the distance fifty-four minutes later, pushing a mall-branded infant stroller. Inside it, John sees bags from the Apple Store, the GAP, CVS, Borders and a whole pile more. He has a good minute to figure out where the damn trunk release is, and that's a good thing because it's hidden inside the damn center console for some unfathomable reason.

Rodney slides into the bucket seat next to him, waving an iPhone at John and plugging in a charger into the cigarette lighter socket. "I got you one too. How about spending this month of enforced idleness, sorry, I mean leave, in a quiet hotel with enormous bathtubs and some serious massage?"

John feels his eyelids droop in anticipation. "Oh god, yes. Home...isn't."

"Yeah." Rodney grins and starts tapping at the phone. "Okay, go back to the Interstate via that Sonic. I need some caffeine right now, and I'll find us somewhere halfway decent to stay."

The Sonic burger and coke go down way better than they come up again on the snowy grey sludge of the side of the road. John's stomach, it seems, can only deal with vanilla milkshake right now, and he's thankful that Rodney ordered one, and only a tiny bit guilty for stealing it.

Rodney's on the phone now, and John's tuning most of it out as he tries not to go crazy, but he hears "military service" and "returned from tour of duty" and "four weeks' leave" "nothing too fancy" and "concierge" and "serious massage, none of the froofy oils and scents stuff", and "at no point will there be any citrus because I will go into anaphylactic shock", "appreciate that, sir" and after an hour or so "take the next exit, Sheppard", and they're on a different interstate, and shortly they're pulling off it.

The hotel is swanky as all hell, almost too much so, and John does the arithmetic in his head, and oh, yeah, after time in Antarctica and Atlantis on combat pay they can definitely afford it. He's really grateful that the suite isn't stuffed with meter-high folded floral fabric on the curtain surrounds and ruffles on the walls and crap, that the bed is the most comfortable thing he's ever seen, and Jesus it's a four-poster, and that, oh yeah there are two bathrooms, because Rodney is a fucking genius and this means that they can both soak in the bath at the same time without having to turn into human pretzels.

"Sir," the bellhop is saying to Rodney, "the masseurs will be here in an hour. Can I send anything up for you?"

Rodney looks at John, who shrugs, not really feeling like eating anything, and Rodney says, "some sandwiches, and a few big bottles of water, and a cooler full of diet Mountain Dew and ice, and a fruit basket with absolutely no citrus because I am allergic and will actually die, and maybe a cheese plate?"

The bellhop disappears quietly, and Rodney walks over to John, puts his hands on John's shoulders and squeezes, staring straight into John's eyes. John doesn't know what Rodney sees, but he watches Rodney straighten up.

"Stand down, Colonel," Rodney says quietly, blue eyes deep and dark.

John almost gasps with the force of the words thrusting deep inside him like the three-bladed knife on M9X-401, only harder and brighter and louder. The weirdest thing about this, John thinks, is that he doesn't punch Rodney. Probably because it feels so good to not have to keep watching for somebody trying to kill them.

He brings up his hands and rubs them across his face, pulling them down along his cheekbones. The metallic-tasting Atlantis salt air hasn't quite left his skin, just like the metallic ringing undertones of Atlantis herself haven't quite left his head. He tenses, then forces himself to relax under Rodney's gaze. "Yes sir, doctor sir," John says, his shoulders lowering as he stretches his neck from side to side.

"Now take this," Rodney says, reaching into the CVS bag and pulling out a box of Epsom salt, "and this," and he hands John a bar of actual honest-to-god soap, "and this," and a bottle of shampoo, "and go soak until the nice men come to pummel you."

John wanders through the open door between the two rooms and heads into the bathroom. The bath seems twice as high as he expects it to be, and it's long, long enough to lie all the way flat in. The water rushes in from the tap, steaming hot and smelling like hotel water, clean and soft, and John pours the Epsom salt in, unwraps the soap, and climbs into the tub.

He half-hears Rodney calling for the room service to set up in the other room, and he's floating, concentrating on unclenching the muscles in his toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, and all the way up his body.

Jason, Justin and Jared, the three masseurs, are interchangeably good-looking, and apparently do a lot of work for the Rockies when it's baseball season. John pads out of the bathroom in a towel as they set up the massage tables, which are industrial gunmetal gray on the supporting structure below with Astroturf green foam padding on top, and he sinks into the foam quickly. Jason takes Rodney and Justin takes John, and Jared moves between the two, adding leverage and lift and twist and elbows wherever necessary.

Justin's hands are like suede-coated titanium, strong and warm, and the oil he uses is a dark herby blend that opens up John's sinuses and masks the scent of hotel room, and after an introduction, an "always proud to help the men and women serving our country", a "what hurts", a "relax", a "no, really, dude, relax", Justin starts working him over.

The tension under his shoulderblades feels lightning-blue as Justin thumbs over the knots and bundles of muscle, the scars and the ridges of skin. Up on his neck it's a warm orange, and in his lower back it's bright green. Justin, and John mentally notes to tip seriously well for this, isn't a talker, and only murmurs "tense this muscle for me" and "put your arm above your head", and John is off quietly inside his own head, eyes open and staring through the head-hole of the massage table to the deep blue pile of the carpet.

It's dark when Justin and Jared fold up the table and leave, Justin with a quiet admonition to put on a sweatshirt or something so he keeps his core temperature up, and John's suddenly really glad for the sandwiches and coffee that Rodney had ordered, not to mention the hoodie and pyjama bottoms from the GAP that John just slides into.

Rodney's converted half of the living room of the suite into a little office, with MacBook Pros and a hard drive and a router and an enormous LCD screen over the desk and the table and the low chest of drawers. He points John to one of the laptops and says "that's yours, and so's the iPhone on it", and John picks it up and perches on the king-size bed.

Rodney cocks his head at John and then the bed. "No expectations, first night back, okay?"

John closes his eyes and nods, slightly. "Thanks."

"Edmonton's playing Detroit," Rodney says. "Wanna watch?"

John grins at the flat panel that comes out of the damn wall at the touch of a button, because the thing is enormous, and they've been watching games in Atlantis on someone's LCD projector, courtesy of the .avi recordings of games that arrive on hard drives on an all too infrequent basis, and even on the projector he can see the blur. Now, it's in HD, and John's mesmerized, and Rodney looks up from the laptop and scoots onto the bed next to John, edging up next to the padded headboard.

In the first commercial break, John lets his head fall onto Rodney's shoulder. Rodney leans down and kisses John. "Hey, take it easy, sailor, okay?"

"Shut up, professor," John murmurs into Rodney's lips.

Rodney snorts. "Hey, you hungry? Want to get some room service?"

John shakes his head. "Nah. Sandwich and cheese and fruit is good. I'd forgotten how much I like pears."

"Eh. I'm in a trans-fat refined flour coma from the bologna sandwich." Rodney grins. "Ahh, the progress of modern science."

The Oilers are crushing the Red Wings, and John smirks slightly, not because he's that into hockey but because his hand is slinking its way up Rodney's shirt, and Rodney just raises an eyebrow at him. John wiggles slightly, smiling up at Rodney, and turns his attention back to the game.

Edmonton wins easily, and Rodney turns the TV off with a swipe of the remote. "So," he says, turning to sit cross-legged opposite John on the bed, "how're you doing?"

John runs a hand down the red-and-black check of the pyjama bottoms he's wearing, then looks up at Rodney. "Rodney, I--"

Rodney's eyes narrow. "Oh. Ohh. All right. Not too soon?"

"No, I--I need--"

Rodney reaches up smoothly and places a single finger on John's lips. "Shh."

John straightens up -- Jesus, the knots along his spine are pretty much gone -- and bows his head. Rodney uncurls himself and walks over to the closet, returning with a length of braided leather and a pair of boxer shorts. John watches.

Rodney nods at John. "Usual safewords."

John nods.

"Then this is for you. Go change."

John slides off the bed and takes the thin length of braided black leather and the boxers, his brain starting to grow quiet. The leather's a foot or so long, with a ring of cool steel tied in the middle, and the boxers are soft black flannel, new, from Abercrombie, the man in black. Rodney turns to the laptop as John pads to the bathroom.

The light inside is bright and white, deep in the heart of Texas, his mind says quietly, in rhythm, and he draws himself up straight as he shucks the pyjama bottoms and hoodie, standing nude before the sink. He bends, straightens, hangs up the clothes and breathes deeply, looking into the mirror, able to just stare into his reflection for a brief moment.

He takes the dog tags off, and now he's naked, even as he puts one leg and then the other into the black boxer shorts, pulling them up so they ride low on his waist, stretching his arms above his head, arms of the angel. He breathes again, using the lower end of his lungs, and closes his eyes, then ties the leather around his neck. The steel feels cool in the hollow of his neck, the leather warm and soft and just the tiniest bit scratchy, and the world goes silent around him, the sound of silence.

Thu-thump, his heart goes, thu-thump, and he walks out into the bedroom in time to it, a jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine.

Rodney stands there in a light grey t-shirt and darker grey pajamas. The light is dimmer, warmer, calmer. He has some things in his hands. John doesn't feel the need to stare at them. He looks only at Rodney's eyes, slate blue and there.

Slowly, infinitesimally, Rodney's eyebrows slide up his forehead. Rodney reaches forward and touches the steel ring at his neck. It's warm now, John realizes. Rodney looks John up and down and nods. "Good. Kneel."

John does, the carpet soft and then firm beneath him. Rodney runs a hand through John's hair, dragging his short blunt nails along John's scalp. John murmurs appreciatively, because it feels incredible and the thu-thump of his heart speeds up.

Rodney traces a line down his ear, along the outer edge and down to the lobe. Rodney digs in a fingernail to the lobe, and John gasps through his nose, the breath sharp and fast.

"Good," Rodney says, letting go. John's earlobe is sensitive and throbbing gently. Johnny B. Goode.

Now it's dark. It's soft. Rodney has tied something around his eyes. It feels like cotton on his cheeks, heavy at the back where the knot is. There's a sliver of light between the line of the cotton as it stretches from his nose to his cheekbones, and he can see his toes and Rodney's toes below.

He feels a finger hook into the leather around his neck and lift. "Come." He stands smoothly and lets himself be led across the room, knowing that Rodney won't lead him into the path of a table or a laptop. He feels the air temperature shift as they walk through the door into the adjoining room, walk the line. This one is cooler. A window's open, because he can hear the noise of the hotel below.

Rodney lets go of the leather and John stops. He hears the window close, and listens as Rodney's feet rustle the carpet on their way back to him.

Roughly, Rodney pushes him back against the bed, and he goes sprawling, panic rising momentarily until he realizes that Rodney's hand is still there on his chest, still pressing against him. Still reassuringly solid, feeling, touching, touch-a-touch-a-touch me.

"Are you all right, John?" Rodney asks, seemingly from galaxies away.

"Mmm," John says. "Yes. Green."

"Good," and Rodney's voice is nearer now, purring in his ear.

Further away, there's the clink-clink of ice and glass, crack-snap-fizz and plastic-on-plastic sound of a bottle of something carbonated being opened, and the splash-fizz-fizz-shh of it being poured into a glass.

He feels leather being tied around his wrists, his arms pulled above his head, and hears a clank as something metal is fixed in place. His heartbeat slows. Thu-thump The leather is soft and feels worn, although it has to be brand new from the mall. A belt. Fake-old. The muscles of his chest relax as he leans back, stretched out on my bed.

A hand grasps his right ankle, and leather slides around it, pulling it to the right. The left ankle goes to the left. He tests the strength of his bonds, then relaxes into them.

He feels fingers sliding up his chest and arches up into the touch. Fingers circle his pecs, the circle of life, and he murmurs quietly as they flick and fly and flutter over the sensitive skin and the hairs that surround his nipples. He murmurs quietly as the fingers start to stroke and pinch, and he moans loud and long as the gentle pinching turns to fire with a plastic click, the pressure continuous and strong, a ring of fire. The hands move off down the side of his torso, feathery soft.

"Do you like that?" the voice in his ear says.

"Mmm," he says, and after a fingernail-on-plastic flick noise and a brief flare of pain in his right nipple, he continues. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

Fingers stroke down his chest again, and he feels cool air on his skin, and there's cold on his nipples, really cold, ice cold, ice cube cold. It's an ice cube, of course. There's more air, the whistling sound of blowing, blowing in the wind, and he twitches at the thought of Rodney's mouth close enough to his nipple to blow air swiftly over it.

The ice cube traces its way down his chest, following the dips and curves of his abs, coming to rest on his navel. A trickle of melted ice makes its way slowly, tantalizingly down his skin, and he shudders and twitches.

"Oh, Jesus," Jesus forgive me for the things I'm about to say, and he arches upwards as the clamps on his nipples pull upwards and outwards and away, and he's moaning, from his ass through his cock, up through his chest and into his throat.

"Shhh," Rodney says, stroking lightly up John's chest. "Good boy."

John makes a tiny noise in the back of his throat, reedy and tentative, and Rodney stops.

"Are you all right, John?" Rodney's voice is close, and John's somewhere in the endorphin haze.

"Green," John murmurs, the green green grass of home, and he's away and soaring, flying, thinking let's fly, let's fly away, the fires on his chest burning out of control under him, burning body and soul, and it bursts into a great ball of fire as Rodney takes off the blindfold and the lights of the room smash at c into his eyes.

* * *

Rodney's keeping physics on track, using the iPhone and the MacBook. The iPhone, John finds out, is for shouting at people. "Ah, Gerhard, so good to talk to you again, and how is Marina? Oh, wonderful. Look, so sorry to hear about your lobotomy, or was that paper you wrote in the April Fool's issue of Annalen der Physik? Oh, no, Issue 8, I see. Tell me, did recovery take very long?"

The MacBook is for pounding, with fingers or with fists, for stabbing with a frustrated finger, for cursing at, and for putting down with a forced bright gentleness. Rodney's set up an IRC channel for himself, Zelenka, Kuznetsova, Martin, Johnson and Peng, and they coordinate their assault on "the morons on this planet who think they're at the forefront of rational thought" and "the cretins that actually print what they're sent".

Rodney is blasting through a set of revisions to an article that the Air Force censors have forced on him, and it sounds from the occasional phone call that Rodney makes that Zelenka and Peng have received similar revisions.

John sits at Rodney's feet all the while, reading, or catching up on recent history -- thank God for Wikipedia and tabbed browsing -- or emailing people he hasn't seen in forever. He wonders, idly, whether there's a way they could get Facebook on Atlantis. He spends a day trawling through iTunes picking up new covers of songs he loves, and by the end of it his credit card has got to be glowing blue like Frodo's sword. As he thinks about it, he trawls through Amazon for a stack of DVDs and books that he doesn't have, because he really will watch all of the DVD extras of the latest release of The Lord of the Rings. Idly, he orders back-copies of the American Journal of Mathematics, Acta Mathematica, Inventiones Mathematicae and The Annals of Mathematics, because despite the shiny new screen on the MacBook, there's something to be said for just scribbling away in the margins and ringing things in red and writing ! next to things.

The concierges get used to John and Rodney, because Rodney's not a dick to them, John notices. It's a good thing, too, because you can get so much more on the Internet now than John remembers, and it's mostly easy to get it delivered to the concierge desk, although the whole shipping address issue is tough even with a APO billing address. Tom, who's on the early shift from 6-2, is a ski bum in a sharp suit from southwest Connecticut, but is nice enough for that. Kammi, who takes 2-10, is a grandmotherly type who can get any restaurant within fifty miles to deliver, but whose real strength is guiding them to the places that real people eat at. Andy, who's the Brit on the graveyard shift, is usually happy for something to do to break the boredom, and is always happy to see Rodney ever since he shared some of the Canadian chocolate, which is apparently the same Cadbury's that he's been missing from back home.

And nobody's trying to shoot them, or to eat them, or to blow them up, and that's a nice change.

* * *

John had woken Rodney up after their first night in the hotel with a guttural scream, from the nightmare and a shadow of a Wraith inside his head. Rodney had woken John up after their second night with a kiss, a blowjob and a promise of more.

John shifts, face down, his arms and legs stretched out on the bed, bound with belts to the four posts of the bed, just floating. Rodney walks by every so often and sometimes he slides a finger into John's hand, and John always squeezes back, two long squeezes and a short squeeze in Morse, because G means green and good and go ahead and sometimes guh, and he doesn't need to speak or do anything but lie there. Sometimes Rodney will perch on the bed and slide a hand up the back of John's leg, from ankle to calf to hamstring to buttock to lower back, and just leave it there for a moment. In his mind's eye John can see Rodney looking down at him with the appreciative, inquisitive look with which Rodney epitomizes science, not just in the modern sense, but all the way back to the Latinate scientia, knowledge.

Rodney knows John, and John knows that Rodney knows John.

They don't know each other in the Biblical sense -- Lieutenant Covey, who in addition to being the finest sniper Atlantis has is also apparently an expert on Biblical Hebrew, had given them an hourlong treatise on the fact that John's retort of "Biblically?" to Rodney's "I don't know you, Sheppard" was historically inaccurate -- but ever since the mission to the planet they never actually speak of, Rodney has known how to take John out of himself for a while, to let the gears of John's admittedly impressive mind stop racing, to hit pause on the fast-forward that is John's approach to just about everything.

On the third day, Rodney rose and gave in to the temptation to order some things from, and Tom grins when Rodney sends John down to collect the package. It's not marked LARGE BUTT PLUG or VIBRATING NIPPLE CLAMPS or CAT O'NINE TAILS or WHIPPY RATTAN CANE or anything, but the TBC return address is always the same if you know what you're looking for. Tom, clearly, does, and John, dressed as the Preppiest Preppy in Preppyville from the GAP, gives him a winning smile.

Later, after tying John down to the bed for a good two hours before even opening the box, Rodney slides the cool, slick metal butt plug into John's ass, and John moans, bucking backwards against the leather of the belts, and Rodney slaps John's ass hard and goes back to his laptop.

John stills after a few minutes of twitching, and Rodney gets up, walks over, flicks a switch on the butt plug, strokes John's ass and returns to the desk. John's twitching and clenching and spasming with the seemingly random setting of the vibrator, which buzzes gently and kicks hard and everything in the middle.

When the plug kicks hard, John starts leaking precum onto the sheet beneath him, but that's nothing after Rodney returns, slides the plug out and slides his cock into John's ass, stroking agonizingly slowly at first, hands gripping the trapezius muscles on John's shoulders and squeezing, speeding up gradually and moaning pornographically into John's ear about all the things that he, Rodney, wants to do to him, John, and how there's absolutely nothing that will stop him from doing them.

John comes, hard, harder than he's come in a long time, his muscles clenching as he spurts over the sheets in ribbons, as Rodney slows his fucking and rubs John's back before speeding up again and coming long and hard inside him.

Rodney levers himself up, off and out of John, and John turns his head to watch Rodney pad towards the bathroom, hears him wash himself off, and then watches him return with a washcloth to clean John off. The silence, broken by the damp strokes of the washcloth, is more comfortable than anything John's worn in weeks.

Rodney slides a finger inside John's hand. Two long, one short, and Rodney smiles down at John and strokes his hair. "Beautiful."

* * *

John's bent double on his side, blindfolded and tied up with thin black ropes in neat tidy knots on the floor as Rodney explains calmly and politely to the peer review people that their opinions on his article are possibly factually incorrect and do morons like you have a separate taxonomic nomenclature or are you just the missing link between homo sapiens and Britney Spears?

"Oh," Rodney says as he leans over John, "There you are. Are you all right, John?"

"Mmmm-mmmm-mm." The ball gag is in his mouth. It tastes of silicone and leather and toothpaste. A small line of saliva is sliding down his cheek.

"Good good," Rodney says, cheerfully. "All right, I'm going to take a shower, and when I'm done I'm going to beat you to within an inch of your life."

John's muscles contract. Rodney strokes his back, fingers snagging on the ropes. John's mind is blank, not a ripple crossing the pond of his thoughts behind the darkness of the blindfold. He notes the sound of feet on the carpet, the bathroom door closing, the shower starting, the shower stopping, the door opening, feet on the carpet, and breathing. A swift rustle of clothing, and then snip, snip, snip, and the ropes are sliding down his skin.

"Stand," Rodney says from high above him. John can see the command trickling down his body like a Presidential Order. His legs protest slightly. His arms are slow to respond. His ass feels the lightning fire of the whip across it almost before his ears hear it. It's followed by "Beautiful." John's spine uncurls. He raises his hands, muscles in his arms protesting, and interlaces them behind his head. The lightning fire crackles again. Again. Again.

The ambient music appears in his consciousness between one moment and the next. The beats are the loudest part of it, slow and measured, and the fire on his ass, back and shoulders blossoms in time to it. He smiles as he floats in the timeless void of his mind, the golden white light of each stroke glowing shadowlessly across its vast expanse.

"Very nice, Rodney says from behind him. "Very nice indeed. I do good work. Are you all right, John?"

"Mmmm-mmmm-mm," he murmurs around the ball gag. His back is hot and glowing. His ears are ringing in the silence. His dick is steel hard, and then it's wet and warm and, oh, that must be Rodney's mouth on it, and that feels like Rodney's tongue under the head there, and that's Rodney's hand pulling on the leather tied around his balls, and he's falling, falling into ecstasy and darkness and backwards onto the bed.

He comes round to the feeling of a hand stroking his back. It's cool, soft, gentle, wet, and cottony. He's face-down. On the bed. He breathes in through his mouth. The gag is gone. He stretches his mouth and yawns. He opens his eyes against the pillow. The blindfold is gone too. He breathes in and out deeply.

"Hi," Rodney says as John turns his head, continuing to stroke John's back. "Welcome back."

John smiles at Rodney and makes a little high, happy noise.

"Yeah," Rodney says, smiling. "I know."

* * *

Rodney drives the ridiculous car back to the Mountain, trunk filled, back seats down and covered with everything he hasn't had delivered straight to the SGC APO. Once they've unpacked it, they'll leave the car with the usual people, who will drive it to Peterson and hand it back to the usual company.

John's quiet on the drive, lost in thought.

"Thanks," he says, as Rodney turns off the Interstate towards the complex. "For everything. You know."

"Yeah," Rodney says, smiling. "I know."

Author's Note: Particular thanks go to the people who keep me on track and put up with me pasting things at them and emailing things to them and going WHAT TENSE IS THIS at them: alphabetically, [ profile] anatsuno, [ profile] ivorygates, [ profile] longtimegone and [ profile] synecdochic. You are my sunshines.

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