Title: Try, Try Again
Author: amokeh
Rating: PG
Pairings: Sheppard/Beckett, slash
Spoilers: Irresistible
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: Don't own them. Not making any money off of them.
Author's Notes: Huge thanks to Kyrdwyn for her beta work on this. :D This was actually an idea I had for a team fic/Carson whump fic which I tweaked to submit for the Romance Challenge (first date) at The Beckett-Sheppard List
Summary: On their way back to the gate after a peaceful off-world visit, a sudden run-in with the native wildlife puts Carson and John between a rock and a hard place. Heh.

The first time they tried, it was a series of random power outages causing various systems to shut down without warning. It was amusing at first, watching people walk into doors that didn't quite open fully or passing by a door and hearing a startled yelp as someone's hot water shut off in the middle of their shower. However, when one of the science teams became locked in a lab as the air vented, well, things went from mildly frustrating to life threatening quite quickly. Which, for Atlantis, was par for the course, really. Everything turned out all right in the end; they got the doors open, the scientists out and no one was hurt badly. But the dinner was cold, the candles burned down and they were both too tired to do anything but reschedule.

The second time they tried, Carson went to the trouble of hauling cushions and food out to one of the more remote balconies, but as John was on his way there, he was called to the Gate Room. Major Lorne's off-world team returned early – but without the Major. A misunderstanding with some previously-friendly natives necessitated a hastily-put-together rescue mission. Lorne was brought home safely, although with a concussion that required overnight monitoring. John had to return to the planet with Elizabeth over the next several days to smooth things over, so, once again, they rescheduled. It had taken Carson a couple of hours to haul everything out to the secluded spot he had found, and it took him a couple of hours to haul it back again.

The third time they tried, well, Lucius Lavin happened. Enough said.

Afterwards, neither of them seemed too happy with the other and, by that time, it seemed to both that maybe fate or God was trying to tell them something. So, in a mutual, if unspoken, agreement they gave up trying altogether.

And of course, that's when they finally succeeded.

"Rodney, if you don't stop fidgeting, I'll never get this bandage wrapped tight enough."

"I'm bleeding to death here, Carson! And I'm not fidgeting! I'm sure the sheep you practiced your voodoo on to get that rag you call a degree were a lot harder to hold down! Oh, wait – you probably tranquilized them first, didn't you? Silly me, expecting you to practice your so-called 'medicine' on a conscious patient. You're probably not used to anything that does more than bleat back, hmmmm?"

"For god's sake, Rodney, can it or I'll knock you out myself!" John snapped, cutting Rodney off mid-rant.

"You're not bleedin' to death, Rodney. It's just a scratch, but because of the location I'd rather wrap it tight to keep it from getting worse," Carson stated, patiently. He knew Rodney was just being Rodney, but it would really help if the man would shut up and stop trying to do ten things at once while he was trying to wrap his shoulder.

Rodney swung the Life Signs Detector around again, narrowly missing clipping Carson's head, earning him a glare from the doctor. "I'm telling you, something was there! It just must be out of range now!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah – whatever you say, Rodney." Rodney's belittling of Carson might not be noisome to the physician himself, but John found it increasingly annoying. With as much time as Rodney spent in the infirmary, it was John's opinion that he should be a little – no, a lot – more grateful and appreciative of their efforts to keep him alive. But as he leaned against the rock face next to the pair of scientists with his P-90 at the ready, keeping a watchful eye on the woods around them, he had to admit to himself that he was a bit overprotective when it came to Carson. But then, someone had to be. The doctor was usually too busy taking care of everyone around him to look out for himself.

That wasn't the whole reason for his overprotective-ness, though. As he watched the handsome Scot work on their friend and colleague, he also had to acknowledge the steadily-growing attraction that neither of them had been given a chance to explore. Every time they had tried to spend some time together, alone, they had been thwarted by emergencies and their respective obligations. It was uncanny; as if some cosmic prankster was getting his kicks by keeping the two of them from hooking up. John smiled to himself at the thought of a Pegasus equivalent of Q. But, as Carson finished wrapping Rodney's shoulder, John's smile faded. He couldn't keep his eyes off of the doctor's nimble hands, simultaneously strong and gentle – and something deep within him fluttered with arousal, imagining those capable hands traveling over his flesh, stroking and caressing his bare skin, and...John gave himself a mental shake, quickly pulling his gaze away. This was neither the time nor the place to think about getting naked with Carson.

Movement off to his right served as a welcome distraction. A flash of brown leather and a lion's-mane head quickly identified the newcomer as Ronon. "Anything?" John asked.

"Nah. Saw some animal tracks, though. Fresh, too." Ronon glanced at the pair on the ground. "How's he doin'?"

"Animal tracks?" Rodney gestured wildly at John. "See, I told you I saw something!"

"He's doing fine, Ronon," Carson replied, ignoring Rodney's outburst. "He has just a wee bit of a scratch, but he'll be right as rain in no time." He started re-packing his kit as Rodney carefully pulled his shirt back in place, soft 'ow's punctuating every movement. "In fact, as soon as I get everything loaded back up and Teyla's returned, we can be on our way."

"What?" Rodney snapped, "Shouldn't I be lying down or resting after blood loss?"

Carson cut him off before he could really get going. "Rodney, you lost maybe a tablespoon's worth. I've lost more when I've cut myself shaving. You'll be fine." He caught John's gaze and grinned, giving him an exaggerated eye roll. John smirked back, sharing his amusement. As long as Rodney was griping, they knew he was all right.

"Sheppard," Ronon lazily nodded towards the trees to the right of John's position. John turned his head in time to see Teyla silently approach.

"See anything?" John asked.

"I saw nothing but our passage," she responded, moving to stand next to him. She tilted her head in Rodney's direction, her eyes asking the question.

"Him? Oh, he's dying." John deadpanned. Teyla raised an eyebrow in response. "Yeah, we figured we'd just let him bleed out as we dragged him by the feet back to the gate."

"Oh, that's just lovely, Colonel. Thank you so much for your concern." Rodney groused back as he fastened his vest. "That's the thanks I get for repeatedly saving your ass, and practically losing my arm in the process..."

"Wait a minute – how exactly did you save my ass by walking into a rock the size of a 'Jumper?" John cut him off, pointing at the boulder in question.

Just as Rodney was taking a breath to respond, vituperatively, Ronon interceded, "Can we get back? They're serving cake tonight in the mess."

"Cake?" Rodney's attention was suddenly focused on Ronon. "What kind?" He looked very hopeful.

"Chocolate. I saw the boxes."

"Hm." Rodney quickly got his pack on, barely wincing as it passed over his 'grievous' wound. "Well, chop chop, people. No point in standing around all day." He quickly strode past them, LSD in hand.

John, Ronon, Teyla & Carson all exchanged amused glances, and hurried after the physicist, who was making his way purposefully around the rock face. They caught up with him before a sharp turn in the trail, where he had stopped to scan the area with the LSD, a confused look on his face.

"What is it, Rodney?" Carson queried, worried.

"Hm? Oh, I'm not sure." He punched a few buttons on the device, then shook it and looked at it again.

"McKay, it's not a Magic Eight Ball. Either there's something there or there's not." John came up behind him, viewing the small screen for himself.

Rodney grunted in response. "It's weird. I saw something, just a flash, and now it's gone." He looked around them, again scanning the woods for whatever it was showing up as a blip on his screen. Seeing nothing but trees, he gave an exasperated sigh and hit a few more buttons.

"Well, if there's nothing there anymore," John suggested in a reasonable tone, "why not keep moving?" At Rodney's distracted nod, John turned to the others. "Okay. Ronon – you're up front with McKay. Doc, you're in the middle with me, and Teyla – watch our six." The rest of the team quickly moved into their assigned positions. "Okay, stay sharp everybody. Let's get going."

Ronon prodded Rodney, and smirked, "C'mon, doc. I'll make sure you don't walk into anything else."

Rodney gave him a dirty look, but started to move slowly, his eyes never leaving the LSD screen. The rest of them followed, scanning the woods to their right as they walked. The trail led them down and around the large rock outcroppings, which were becoming less steep as they got further away from the cliffs protecting the village they had visited. Rodney stopped a few times, each time frowning at the Ancient device in his hands, turning around in a circle to check out the woods, only to shake his head and continue on without further comment. The fourth time he did it, John had lost patience.

"What is it, McKay? Do you see something or not?" he snapped, moving up behind the scientist.

"That's just it, Colonel," Rodney sniped back. "Something just pops up on the screen, and then, just as suddenly, it's gone." He shook the device and then thumped it with the heel of his hand for good measure, looking very frustrated.

"That's all right, Rodney," Carson reassured him, coming up behind him and laying his hand on the other man's shoulder. "We know you're doing your best." Rodney made a face, but John could tell he appreciated the doctor's support. "Now, I'm no geologist, but could there be something in the rock that's interfering with the signal?" Rodney's head snapped up at the suggestion, and he glared at the rocks next to them. John turned to look at the physician, who shrugged, "It just seems to me that we've been getting these intermittent readings for the entire time we've been walking around these cliffs. Maybe it's a coincidence; as I said, I'm no geologist."

"No, but you may have something there," Rodney replied, a sour look on his face.

"Well, whatever may be interfering with the signal," Teyla softly offered, "I do not believe we are in any danger. The woods feel...normal to me. I feel no sense of threat."

"Neither do I," Ronon agreed. "And the longer we take to get home..."

"Less chance of cake, right," Rodney muttered, distractedly. He sighed, heavily, and looked at John, who just gazed blankly back, as if to say 'your call.' "Right." Rodney tucked the device back in his vest, somewhat forlornly. John gave him a reassuring slug in his (uninjured) arm and Ronon tugged at his pack, forcing him forward.

"Okay, people - cake ho!" John punched his fist in the air for effect, to which Teyla rolled her eyes good-naturedly. They moved as a group down the slight hill as the path curved around the rocks. As they turned a particularly sharp corner, they came face to face with the source of Rodney's blips.

The animals looked like a cross between a wild boar and a mountain goat, with small tusks and shaggy fur; there was a whole group of them, and the sudden appearance of the Atlanteans startled them greatly. Actually, it was a toss up as to who was taken more by surprise: Rodney and Ronon, at the head of the group who, respectively, let out a startled high-pitched yelp and whipped his blaster up to "fire" position, or the animals, who all started squealing/hooting and began to frantically run up the rocks in an effort to escape the intruders. Unfortunately, the herd's stampede caused the already loosely packed rockfall to crumble apart and begin rolling down towards the team below.

Many things happened at once: John shouted, "Move, people!" as he grabbed a hold of Carson's jacket, moving them back up the trail; Ronon grabbed Rodney with one hand and pulled/dragged him into the trees as fast as they both could move; and Teyla ran, flat out into the woods, calling for the others to hurry.

John and Carson had gotten no more than a few meters up the trail, when a decently-sized boulder hit the ground in front of them. John yanked Carson back, and was about to pull him towards the trees when he caught sight of another boulder falling directly towards them. Spying the slight overhang of the low cliff face, he pushed Carson under it, and they both fell against the rock wall, John pressing the physician as flat against the rock as he could. Everything around them seemed to be rumbling and vibrating, but nothing more than dust actually hit them. He had no idea how long it lasted, but it felt like forever with his body flush against Carson's, the feel of Carson's heart racing beneath his, both of them panting against the dust and the fear. It felt like the entire mountain was coming down around them.

Finally, the rumbling stopped. The air was thick with dust, and as John tentatively pulled away from Carson, he had to pull the collar of his jacket over his nose and mouth to avoid choking on it. His eyes were stinging too badly to see anything yet, but he could hear the others calling their names.

"Teyla! Ronon! We're over here!" John yelled, as he felt Carson's hand fumble blindly for his shoulder. He knew the feeling; his own eyes were tearing up from the dust too much to actually focus on anything in front of him. He grabbed Carson's hand as he took a step forward, and called out again, "Rodney, Teyla - everbody oka...oof!"

Oh, that wasn't good.

He had walked into a rock. Literally. He opened his eyes, and though his vision was still pretty hazy, the wall of rocks in front of him was actually easy to see.

"John? Are you all right? What...oh, bloody hell!"

"Yeah, that pretty much sums it up."

"Colonel? Sheppard, where the hell are you guys?" Rodney was sounding pretty panicked. John could sympathize.

"Uh, Rodney? Do you see the new wall of rock in front of you?"

"Yeah, we're...oh, crap! This is so not good!" Definitely panicked. "How are we gonna get you out of there? How are we gonna get them out of there?" That last one was directed towards Teyla and Ronon.

"Colonel Sheppard, is Doctor Beckett with you?" Teyla's voice floated over the rocks in front of them.

"Aye, Teyla, I'm here," Carson responded, "and unbelievably, we both seem to be fine, other than suffering from dust inhalation." The aforementioned dust was starting to settle, and John pulled his tee shirt collar up to wipe his eyes. That did the trick, and he was able to see just how trapped they were.

The rocks had fallen less than three meters behind them, tumbling back towards the rock wall they had been pressed against. The crescent-shaped ledge that had protected them from being crushed had also directed the rock slide behind and all around them, effectively closing them in. It was well over two meters high with small- to medium-sized holes in between the larger boulders, through some of which the other side could be seen. Nothing big enough to crawl through, however; not that that was even an option, as the rocks were shifting even as he looked at them. He glanced over to Carson, who was examining a slender vee-shaped space on their left, created by the rocks rolling almost flush with the cliff. The gap started about a meter off the ground and, at its widest point, wasn't large enough for either man to squeeze through.

"Ronon - over here, lad." After a few seconds and the worrisome sounds of rocks grinding together, Ronon's face was visible on the other side of the vee.

"Cozy." The Satedan leaned his head around the rocks, careful not to push against any of the boulders.

"Do you think we can get through here if we widen the hole?" Beckett asked, hopefully.

The large man didn't answer right away, scanning the rocks on his side carefully. "Maybe. Maybe not. The rocks are pretty unstable."

"Oh, thank you for stating the obvious! Of course they're unstable, the mountain just fell apart!"

"Rod-neyyyy...you're not help-ing." John sing-songed, keeping his tone light in an attempt to reassure the physicist. As Rodney spluttered out something about Air Force Colonels not taking their imminent death seriously enough, John leaned in next to Carson, trying to peer through the vee himself. His eyes caught Ronon's, and he asked quietly, "Do you think we should chance moving some of these rocks by hand?"

Ronon held his gaze and replied, solemnly, "I wouldn't. The way they're stacked, they could just as easily fall in, and you really don't have much room to run in there."

The softly spoken answer drew a muttered, "Damn!" from Carson, and John grimaced as he looked around their temporary home. It was about four meters long and less than two meters wide at the base. But they had plenty of air as there was open sky above them and they weren't in any immediate danger, so it definitely could be worse. He gave a resigned look at Carson, who merely sighed in response. He turned back to the Satedan and instructed, "Head back to the gate with the others. There's nothing you guys can do for us now. A team can come back with equipment and braces to get us out of here safely."

"What?! Are you insane?" They could easily hear, if not see, Rodney trying to scramble over the rocks to get to the opening.

"Rodney, your IQ is mighty, but it can't move stone." John was gratified to hear Carson snort behind him. At least he could make someone laugh.

A dirty hand grabbed at Ronon's shirt, and pushed the larger man against the rock wall as Rodney lurched into view, huffing with anger. "We can't just leave you here, you..." His voice trailed off as he saw exactly how small a space they were trapped in. "Oh," Rodney deflated, his eyes darting around the tiny area. "Wide open fields, wide open fields," he muttered, his face going pale.

"Rodney, for god's sake, breathe, man!" Carson pushed next to John, reaching for the physicist to calm him.

"I'm okay, I'm okay," Rodney panted out, and leaned his hand against one of the rocks forming the slant of the vee. The slight pressure was enough; the small boulder immediately shifted, and so did all of the stone above it. Ronon snatched Rodney back away from the hole, and as rocks started raining down in front of them, Carson and John pulled each other back to the opposite side.



Once again, dust reigned. But this time, it was only for a brief moment; the air cleared quickly, and they could see that they had lost about a meter of space where they had been standing, as well as most of the opening. The fall looked a little more solid, but there were still enough larger boulders high up on the pile that tottered precariously upon their perch to discourage thoughts of simply climbing over them.

"Colonel Sheppard? Doctor?" Teyla's voice sounded very close. John looked to his right and could see Teyla peering in through one of the larger holes.

"We're fine - just a little dustier," John coughed out. Teyla pulled away from the hole, but was back in a few seconds to carefully ease a water bottle through to them.

Carson moved to hurriedly retrieve it from her. "Thank you, love. We might need a few more of those as well, if you can spare them." Very quickly, two more bottles followed and, after some shuffling on the other side, Rodney's face appeared again, looking very anxious and apologetic.

"Here, take a few power bars, too. I've got extra." Rodney handed them through, and Carson took them, gratefully.

"Thank you, Rodney," he smiled at him, then looked down at the wrapper. "Chocolate Chip, Rodney? But these are your favorite!"

"Whoa," John took one from the doctor. "He likes us. He really, really likes us!"

"Brat," Carson swatted the pilot affectionately.

"Are you guys going to be all right in there? I mean, I could stay and keep you company..."

"Thanks for the offer, but we need you to figure out how to get us out of here," John grinned at him. "After all, we count on you to repeatedly save our asses, remember?"

Carson chuckled next to him, "That's right, Rodney. Don't worry - we'll be fine. We'll just sit and have a rest, that's all."

"Right," John chimed in. "We'll have a picnic." He grinned at Carson, who smiled back. And if the smile didn't quite reach his eyes, well, he wasn't going to be the one to point it out to Rodney. "Anyway, the sooner you leave, the sooner you can come back for us, right?"

"Right," sighed Rodney. He didn't like it, but...what else could they do? "Just...sit tight, okay?" he offered, tremulously, as he pulled back cautiously from the hole.

Ronon snorted loudly as he took McKay's place at the hole. "Now who's stating the obvious?" He shared a quick, if mirthless grin with John before looking at him very solemnly. "Don't touch anything. We'll be back soon."

"Thanks for the tip," John snarked back at him. He was about to tell him to be careful going back when Carson gently pushed in front of him.

"Ronon," the Scot spoke softly, "Make sure Rodney eats somethin'. His blood sugar usually drops when he's overly stressed."

"I'll take care of him, Doc." Ronon moved back from the hole, to be immediately replaced by Teyla. She carefully reached her hand through the hole, and both men took their turn to squeeze it firmly.

"We will take care of Rodney," she quietly reassured them, "and you must take care of one another."

Without looking in Carson's direction, John replied, "You can count on it." She nodded, then pulled her hand back through the hole and she was gone. Both men stood silently, listening to the retreating footsteps. When all was quiet, they looked at one another with no trace of their earlier humor. Carson motioned to the ledge behind them and picked up a bottle of water as he moved towards the solid rock wall. Sheppard grabbed the other two and followed, setting them on the newly fallen rocks to the left so he could shrug off his pack. Carson followed suit, and soon they were free of gear and sliding down the wall to sit side by side. Water bottles were distributed, along with a towel from Carson's pack, and they both took the opportunity to clean some of the dust off their faces and necks. John took a big swig of the water, swishing it around his mouth to clean out the dust, and spat it out to the side. Carson grunted and did the same, then finished off the rest of his bottle in silence.

Neither of them spoke for several moments. John was just about to break the comfortable silence when his radio chirped in his ear. Apparently, Carson's did, too, as they both reached up to tap their headsets at the same time. Seeing John react as well, Carson aborted the motion and let John reply. "Sheppard here. What's up?"

"So, are you still okay?" McKay's voice sounded plaintive.

John sighed and let his head fall back against the rock. "We're fine, Rodney. We're sitting."

"Oh. Okay." Silence. "Well, we're on our radios, you know, so if you need anything..."

"Got it, Rodney. Thanks. Sheppard out." He could see Carson's chest shake a little with held-back laughter out of his peripheral vision, and he turned to look fully at the doctor, a puzzled grin on his face. Carson dared a glance at him, which, for some reason, prompted him to shake harder. Having no idea what was cracking up the Scot, but finding himself starting to grin in response, he asked, "What? What's the joke, Doc?"

Carson squeezed his eyes shut and tucked his chin to his chest, trying to keep from losing all control. "You do realize," he croaked out, gasping a little, "that he's goin' to call every five minutes, don't you?"

John's groan in response quickly turned into a chuckle. "Yeah, but imagine if he had stayed behind…"

"Oh, lord, that would have been torturous!" Carson's mirth died down a bit and he settled into a deeply-dimpled smile. John just sat there, admiring the view for a minute. While Beckett was always attractive (at least in John's opinion), when he smiled or laughed he was simply…breath-taking.

His eyes still on the man next to him, John began, "So, since we're stuck here for a while…" His voice trailed off as Carson turned to look at him, the smile still on his face, causing John to momentarily lose his train of thought.

Carson looked at him, questioningly. "Yes, John?"

John swallowed hard, but decided to forge ahead. "Well, you know how we've been trying to spend some time together..."

He had Carson's full attention now. "Yes," the Scot nodded, his smile gone. "I…well, to be honest, I figured you weren't interested any more, at least, not after the whole Lucius fiasco."

Startled, John's eyes locked on Carson's. "Not interested? Why would you think that?"

Carson looked very uncomfortable, but to his credit, he didn't break their gaze as he replied. "I just made such a mess of everything," he said, miserably, "I made a right fool of myself, I compromised the security of the city, I…"

John cut him off. "Hey, don't even think like that, or think for one second I thought any less of you." He reached for Carson's hand, and Carson gripped it back, tightly. "You were drugged, Carson, everybody was under that guy's spell. I don't hold you, or anyone else responsible for anything you or they did or may have said." Carson's eyes searched his, wanting to believe his words. John squeezed his hand, stroking his thumb over the other man's, trying to convince him with the simple touch as well.

"But…" Carson started, looking slightly confused, "after, you acted so distant, I just figured you were disgusted with me, with the way I acted, especially in the 'Jumper." His face turned red a little at that, remembering his emotional breakdown while "de-toxing."

"No!" John was quick to deny his words. "That wasn't it at all!" John shook his head, chagrined. He took a deep breath before continuing, very softly. "I was jealous." He grimaced at the admission.

"Jealous?" Carson sounded incredulous, and John couldn't blame him. Feeling very sheepish, he looked away from Carson's too-blue eyes, and instead focused on the bottle of water he was holding, rolling it back and forth against his leg, nervously.

"I know, it's lame, but…you were just so into that guy. I know, I know," he was quick to cut off Carson's indignant response, "it wasn't your choice, you were drugged. I knew that, but, well, sometimes you just, you know, feel the way you feel, I guess."

There was a moment of silence as Carson digested that, and then John felt the other man shift so he moved closer, his leg pressing against John's. Their hands still linked, Carson gently tugged at John's arm to get his attention. "Hey," he prodded softly, "You really don't need me to tell you that you had no reason to be jealous, do you?"

John snorted. "No, believe me – intellectually I know that there's as much chance of you being attracted to someone like that as, well, Teyla being attracted to Kavanaugh."

It was Carson's turn to snort. "Well, thank you for likening me to Teyla in that equation." John looked up at Carson, who was grinning kindly. John grinned back.

"Well," he drawled, "Teyla is pretty hot, so it's a good comparison." His grin widened as Carson flushed slightly.

"You think I'm 'hot,' do you?" Despite his blush, the Scot was still capable of gentle teasing.

"Oh, yeah," John whispered. "Extremely." At that moment, he fully registered how close Carson was, their shoulders and thighs touching, their noses centimeters apart and suddenly, his mouth went dry and his heart sped up. Both of their grins faded as their eyes met and the heat between them ratcheted up several notches. Carson's vividly blue eyes drifted down to John's lips and then darkened as he licked them, nervously.

"So…" John whispered, leaning almost imperceptibly closer to the other man.

"So…" Carson responded in kind, his eyes moving back up to John's, intense.

"Back to what I was saying about us spending time together…"


"Does this qualify?" John's voice was softly teasing.

"Qualify as what?" Carson's brows raised in mock-confusion.

"A date? I mean," he gestured to their surroundings, "we're in an exotic locale." Carson huffed at that, but John continued. "We've got food and drinks," he jiggled the bottle in his hand.

Carson sniggered, "Hardly qualifies as a picnic, John. That's basic prison fare, in my opinion."

"Hey, work with me here," he joked, squeezing the other man's hand. Carson squeezed back and tipped his head, considering. "We're alone." John's voice dropped on the last word, and Carson's eyes darkened to indigo.

"Aye, we're definitely that," Carson replied quietly, his breath ghosting across John's cheek as he leaned in even more. They were close enough now that their noses were almost touching. "But I'd hardly consider this a date, stuck here behind a wall of rock…" His voice trailed away as John closed the distance between them, his lips brushing warmly against Carson's. "Oh," the Scot breathed, but didn't speak again as their lips met more fully, the kiss gentle, tentative, as each man shifted to turn slightly towards the other. Carson was gripping his hand almost painfully, so John resumed his gentle thumb-stroke, coaxing the doctor to loosen his hold. Carson's other hand raised slowly to cup John's cheek, the fingers barely grazing the soft flesh as he stroked gently down towards their joined lips. John had been holding his breath, but at that delicate touch let it out suddenly, shuddering as he dropped the water bottle and raised his own hand to caress up the side of Carson's face and tangle his fingers in the thick, dark hair at his temple. It was slightly gritty from the dust, but he didn't care as he slid his hand around to cup the back of Carson's head, lightly stroking the shell of one ear with his thumb. Carson moaned into his mouth, and the kiss became hotter, wetter as they melted against one another. Lips parted, tongues met and mated languorously, and, as Carson's hand began a slow slide down beneath the collar of John's tee-shirt, their headsets chirped, amazingly loud in the complete stillness.

Both men jumped at the sound, smacking their foreheads lightly together. "Crap!" John exclaimed, one hand going to his forehead, the other reaching up to tap his headset. Carson was rubbing his own head, alternately wincing and grinning at John.

John grimaced, shaking his head in dismay and responded, curtly, "Sheppard here."

"Colonel?" It was Rodney. Of course. "Everything okay?"

John sighed heavily, and glanced at Carson, whose eyes were shining with laughter. "Yeah, Rodney, everything's just peachy."

"Oh. Okay, uh, well, you know, just checking in." Rodney's voice sounded a bit strained.

"Seriously, Rodney, we're fine. Really. If anything catastrophic were to happen, you'd be the first to know. I promise." He rubbed his head again, and watched as Carson raised one hand to cover his mouth, his dimples deepening with barely-suppressed mirth.

"Sheppard." That was Ronon.


"Can I really drag him back by his feet?"

The bark of laughter escaping the man beside him made John chuckle in response. "Sure, if you can stand the non-stop bitching, go for it." He could see Beckett's shoulders shaking in his peripheral vision. Forcing back the laughter bubbling up in his chest, he determinedly did not look at the man directly; he knew that if he did, he'd lose it, too.

"John, we will strive to restrain Rodney's paranoia, and will not bother you again until we reach the gate."

"Thank you, Teyla. Sheppard out."

He keyed off his headset and finally dared to look at Carson. Catching his look, Carson just gave it up and leaned against his companion, laughing helplessly. It was too much; Carson was just too adorable that way and John let the laughter take him over as well. It didn't last long, but it was enough to melt away all of the tension that had been building up between them over the last several weeks. As the last of their laughter died away, and they leant against one another gasping for breath, John reached again for Carson's hand, and drew it up against his chest, a silent apology and thank-you. Carson sighed and let his head gently fall to the side to rest against John's. After a few moments of silence, Carson offered, "Well, he did manage to wait 15 minutes before calling us again."

John smirked in response, "True, there is that." He slightly rocked his head against Carson's, a gentle caress, and fell silent, just enjoying the companionable closeness. After a few moments, he felt Carson shift against him as the other man pulled away slightly to rummage for something in his pack. John swiveled his head to see what Carson was doing. "Whatcha lookin' for?" he lazily queried.

Carson gave a short grunt as he struggled with his pack. "A blanket," came the brisk reply.

"A blanket?" John asked, his voice teasing. "You cold?"

A huff of laughter was the response. "Hardly. Ah, there it is." John settled back against the rock to watch as Carson unfolded the blanket. "Scoot forward," he directed, pointing towards the rockfall in front of them. John obeyed and watched as, with a flick of his wrists, Carson flapped the thin material out to lie where they had just been sitting.

Carson started smoothing it out and John moved to help. "So, taking a nap, then? Am I that boring?" John drawled, jokingly.

Carson grinned at him and then colored pink. "Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of making out."

John gasped, pretending shock. "Doctor Beckett! That's so forward of you!" He grinned at Carson, who grinned back despite the deep blush across his face. "I…kinda like that."

"I thought you might," Carson shot back, lying down on the blanket and motioning for John to join him. John grabbed their jackets to use as pillows and quickly did just that. Once they were situated on their sides, face to face, John's hand leisurely trailing down Carson's arm, Carson murmured, "You know, for a first date, this isn't too bad."

"You mean, despite the almost getting killed part, being trapped behind a wall of rocks and the added excitement of Rodney potentially chiming in periodically?"

Carson's chuckled deeply. "Aye, besides that." His hand raised to lightly stroke John's cheekbone. "It isn't what either of us had planned, but…"

"But," John continued his thought, "things here, in Pegasus, don't always go according to plan?"

"Aye," Carson replied. He opened his palm and laid his hand flat against the other man's cheek, his thumb softly stroking John's lips until they parted. "But, I think we shouldn't balk at what's given us."

"Beggars can't be choosers?" John's voice was breathy and deep, as he captured Carson's thumb between his lips, flicking the calloused pad with his tongue and gently sucking.

Carson's own lips fell open with a gasp. "No," he breathed out, "What I mean is, life is so precious here, and it could be gone in an instant." He pulled his thumb from John's mouth, the wet sound of it making both men breathe a little harder. Carson pulled John's head to rest against his own, catching his breath. Then he pulled away a bit and looked John in the eye as he said, "We should make the best of the opportunities we're given, no matter how they may seem at first." John nodded, and raised his own hand to gently touch Carson's face. If it was shaking a bit, well, neither man saw fit to mention it.

They lay like that for a few moments, just breathing each other in. Finally, John spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. "I still expect dinner and a movie."


The End

A/N - Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. :) - amokeh