Blue Touchpaper, Green Bees
"It's the Genii's fault," snaps Rodney McKay when he's finished whooping for breath. The air around him is filled with whirling straw and dust but he's grateful that there's something left to breathe, all the air in his lungs having been forced out by Sheppard's unexpected and violent impact on him a minute or so earlier. "Thanks to them, every agrarian society in the Pegasus galaxy wants to be Atomic Amish with nuclear bombs in their haystacks—"
"A primitive form of gunpowder, I think," says Sheppard. He looks a little dazed, his hair is full of dust and bits of burnt straw and his face is smudged with soot. Rodney wonders if there's any look on Sheppard that isn't insanely hot. "If you want my professional opinion."
"What?" Rodney's distracted by the smudge on the side of Sheppard's nose and by the fact that the ditch that they landed in is now covered, roofed in by half a smouldering barn . It's typical that the only (way too small to crawl through) gap is beautifully placed to illuminate Sheppard's face in dust-moted sunlight. Rodney wonders if Sheppard does that on purpose. He reaches up to prod at the barn siding only inches above Sheppard's head.
"The kaboom was gunpowder, Rodney. You can smell the cordite. Radioactive ones? The kaboom's way bigger." Sheppard raises a hand to pick straw out of his hair. "Just sayin'. For the sake of scientific accuracy."
Rodney doesn't know why the man bothers with grooming. Sheppard's ridiculous hair defies the laws of gravity and makes him look like a scarecrow anyway. All the straw adds, is verisimilitude.
"Anti-Newtonian," murmurs Rodney, struck with a new theory as Sheppard's long fingers work at particularly stubborn piece of entangled straw. "Your hair's anti-Newtonian. It's probably a manifestation of an entirely new branch of physics. I could demonstrate string theory with that hair. I could win the Nobel. Twice over."
Sheppard's eyes narrow. "Anti-New—? You sure you're okay, Rodney?"
"What? Yes, of course I'm okay. Let me up." He struggles for a second or two, but Sheppard is heavier than he looks.
"I think we should stay here for a while," says Sheppard. "Just till the straw settles."
"You could get off me!"
"And I could just stay here picking dead vegetable matter outa my hair and protecting you from exploding barns."
Rodney pushes at Sheppard's shoulders, but the Colonel isn't above using dirty military (and Rononesque) tricks to keep Rodney pinned down. He's done it before, as Rodney sourly points out.
"There's nowhere to go until someone hauls the barn off us," says Sheppard, the voice of reason, aka the lazy s.o.b who's using Rodney as protection against the mud in the bottom of the ditch.
"They threw the barn on us in the first place!"
"Well," says Sheppard, judicious. "I don't think they did, really. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"We're collateral damage, you mean? That's insulting!" Rodney gives up on the ineffectual pushing. His hands flutter about for a minute or two, before he settles for resting them on Sheppard's back. Sheppard's wearing his tac vest, as Rodney is all too aware given the number of sharp uncomfortable military objects digging into him – My god, is that a grenade? You have grenades in your pocket when barns are exploding around every corner? Are you deranged? – and much as Rodney normally thinks that Sheppard in a tac vest and thigh holster is a very fine thing indeed, the thickness of the vest is a bit of an impediment. He scrabbles at it for a second, trying to get a hand slid under it, but Sheppard has it tied too tightly. He'll have to speak to him about that later.
"We have a ditch to shelter in. It's a nice ditch, Rodney. Cosy. Convenient."
Rodney sighs. "You're not backside-down in the muddy bits, Colonel. The Mayor warned Teyla about some disaffected elements in the village, didn't he?"
"Well he did say that about twenty years ago they disagreed about which megath field to harvest first or something and have been kicking up ever since. I don't think he mentioned a bombing campaign."
"He was just keeping it quiet for the sake of the tourism industry, by which I mean us because no-one else—the Wraith, maybe, but I bet they won't do the tour bus thing—would come to this dump. Even we don't come for the tour. Oh no, Colonel I-have-no-taste-buds-and-whoa-don't-these-taste-good, we come here looking for megath fruit. Which taste like rotten melons, by the way." Rodney sighs again. "I liked the good old days best, when agricultural disputes were settled with pitchforks and we didn't have any of this modern explosives nonsense. I'm still blaming the Genii for ruining the rustic idyll."
"Works for me."
"Mmph," says Rodney.
"It could have been an accident, you know. Teyla said that they have fireworks at the harvest festival. Coulda been some farmer's stash of rockets going up."
"By themselves?" scoffs Rodney.
Sheppard looks up, his expression sharp.
In the distance Rodney can hear faint shouting and what might be the pounding of many feet on the dirt road. "The cavalry?"
"Teyla and Ronon, maybe. It won't take them long to get this stuff off us."
"Mmph," says Rodney.
The cavalry arrive and it gets noisy. There are shouted enquiries as to their whereabouts and welfare in a deep voice (Ronon), ditto at a higher pitch (Teyla), assurances about their physical well-being (Sheppard), speak for yourself and hurry it up Chewie he's broken my back (Rodney), abject apologies and frantic explanations about the harvest festival (the Mayor), see Rodney I told you it was fireworks (Sheppard again), wails of despair about economic ruin (presumably the one-time owner of the exploding barn), orders to Ronon to put the one-time owner of the exploding barn down until they get Rodney and Sheppard out and then Sheppard will talk to him sternly about firework safety and storage (Sheppard again) and crisply ordered instructions about getting them the hell out of there (Rodney again).
"How long, do you think?" asks Rodney when the noise resolves itself into meaningful rescue activity.
"Five, ten minutes maybe. Why?"
"I thought we could finish what we started, that's all. Didn't you say something about kissing me behind the barn?"
"Yeah, well, that was the mission objective. Go behind the barn, I thought. Out of the way, I thought. Somewhere quiet and private where I could lick your lips and kiss your clever, clever mouth— hey Rodney, did I ever say how much I like your mouth?"
"It's crooked," says Rodney.
"It suits you. Anyway, I wanted to lick your lips and kiss your clever mouth, and maybe get my hands in here—"
"And in there," gasps Rodney, tightening his grip.
"And in there. And then someone throws a barn at me. That wasn't in the mission objective."
"Didn't they teach you anything about tactical alterations to the battle plan?"
"I probably dozed through that one," confesses Sheppard.
"Back of the barn, bottom of a ditch—all that's changed is the terrain."
"Right," says Sheppard, doing that funny thing with his eyebrows that makes Rodney want to say bad, bad words, like 'cute' and 'sweet'. "Okay. Cool."
He licks his lips, and Rodney decides he likes John's mouth. John has pouty lips, pretty lips, lips that are surprisingly soft when he lowers his head—Finally! Get with the programme, Colonel!—and mouths his way up the side of Rodney's neck. Rodney really likes it when John does that.
Rodney likes it so much that he gets his hands in between their faces. Normally, Rodney's hands are his second voice; they cajole, deride, threaten, explain, map out theoretical certainties and uncertainties, shout, enthuse, plead. But here he finds a kind of silence for them, a stillness that they seldom have. He uses them to cradle the line of John's jaw, thumbs pressing gently against John's pretty, pretty mouth. John's all lazy smiles now, and Rodney can see the red tip of John's tongue snaking out to lick at the full underlip. He wonders if it will taste of megath fruit. Almost before knowing he's doing it, he leans forward, using his mute hands to guide John down to him.
John does taste of megath fruit, and the light beer the Mayor served them, with a faint hint of toothpaste in the background. John tastes of John, really; entire and of himself.
And when John's teeth nibble at Rodney's crooked lower lip, his tongue soothing the little bites before pushing into Rodney's warm and willing mouth, Rodney closes his eyes and against his eyelids bloom the pistils, the comets, the silver fish and green bees in a glitter of sparks.
Rodney wriggles a little when he gets his mouth back, and John's gone back to mouthing little kisses down the other side of Rodney's neck. He smiles. "Is that a firework in your pocket or are you glad to be lying here on top of me, jammed under a barn?"
"I wouldn't get jammed under a barn with anyone else," says Sheppard seriously.
And he kisses Rodney again, a soft kiss, a precise kiss, the kiss of a military strategist reaching his goal. And all the while he's pressing down harder so that Rodney has concrete evidence that whatever the Colonel has in his pocket, it's no skinny-malinky Roman Candle.
A Colossus, maybe. Even a Jumping Jack.
Rodney's so looking forward to lighting the touchpaper and finding out.