Rodney was pretty sure dying was not the way he wanted to ring in the new year. To be fair, he wasn't dead yet, and if he survived he'd have experienced near-death experience number 147.63. And it still wouldn't be how he wanted to bring in a new year in Atlantis. Ideally, the new year would start of with a bottle of champagne, a warm bed, and a heartfelt declaration of unrequited love from one John Sheppard, and lots of hot, dirty sex. But Rodney was a practical man, and this was Atlantis, so he'd just settle for the hot, dirty sex.

What he got were aliens who wanted him dead, rain, and mud. A LOT of mud.

"Happy new year, Rodney!" John said, fixing him with his biggest I'm-shooting-big-guns-isn't-that-AWESOME grin. Rodney hated that grin; it usually accompanied his near death experiences. But it also made John's eyes sparkle and his laugh lines crinkle and Rodney loved that grin. But John didn't want to know that, so Rodney scowled at the Colonel, because if he didn't scowl, he's pretty sure he'd get punched. Because for all of his genius Rodney couldn't lie—REALLY couldn't lie to JOHN—and straight Captain Kirk military Colonels didn't take kindly to such feelings from other men. So Rodney scowled.

"Because being pinned down by murderous aliens who want to sacrifice me is such a great way to ring in another year. And the mud makes it perfect. I'm probably getting the Pegasus version of ring worm which will end up eating away at my skin, and I'll have to try and teach Radek everything I know on my death bed so he doesn't kill you all. What happened to the New Year's kiss? Why don't I get a new year's kiss? I've saved everyone enough times that I deserve a new year's kiss and to NOT BE SHOT AT!" Rodney yelled that last part at the intrepid native who tried to scale the muddy slope up to their hiding place.

Lorne's team chose that moment to mount a slightly anti-climactic rescue wherein the natives ran away in terror from the magically appearing puddlejumper. Lorne even had the good grace not to laugh (audibly) at the bedraggled state of the chief science officer and military head of Atlantis.

Freshly showered, clothed, and debriefed, Rodney stumbled towards his quarters. If he simply i had /i to be almost murdered on new years, he figured he could get away with a few indulgences. Like a full night's sleep.

"McKay, wait up." Sheppard came jogging up behind him. Rodney merely grunted at him and held the transporter. As part of his new year's indulgence, Rodney allowed himself to observe Sheppard, John, from the corner of his eye, taking in that ridiculous hair that irritated him because it just i begged /i his hands to tangle in it, the laugh lines at the corner of his eyes, those snarky lips that were so unbelievably expressive. Rodney scowled as he realized he was morphing into a thirteen-year-old girl.

When he moved out of the transporter, John stopped him on the threshold.

Rodney was half way through wondering what John wanted when he realized John's lips were pressed against his own, soft and tender and i there /i and oddly restrained. John was kissing him. Rodney was still processing that when John pulled away, his face a lit with a smile Rodney had never seen before and desperately wanted to see again.

"Happy new year, Rodney," John said, and was gone.

Once Rodney had the where-with-all to go looking, he found John on one of the balconies that overlooked the city. It was vast and peaceful and home. It was, even to the smartest mind in two galaxies, humbling. Rodney plunked down next to John and stared out at his city. The part of his brain that usually ran a hundred miles a minute, calculating vectors and rehashing formulas and unlocking the secrets of the world, was uncharacteristically silent, while the part of his brain that told him about hunger and thirst and other human things was dominant. He suspected this was how the average person lived, and wondered how anyone could stand it.

They sat in silence, watching the new day of the new year slowly break over Atlantis. The Magic Hour, one of his annoying arty Professors had called the time that stretched between night and day, neither one nor the other but some beautifully balanced mixture of both.

John shifted and his knee brushed up against Rodney's leg. The genius part of Rodney's brain wanted to roll its eyes and ask John just who he thought he was kidding, John Sheppard never touched anyone on accident. The other part told his genius to shut the fuck up.

They sat there, in the Magic Hour, suspended in time, somewhere between two places.

Then Rodney's body betrayed him; in a glaring example of the weakness of the human form, Rodney yawned long and loud, his jaw stretched to the limit. When he opened his eyes and glanced sheepishly at Sheppard, he saw dark eyes and a hint of tongue.

The Magic Hour broke, light burst joyously over the city, catapulting them with wild abandon into day and the second kiss was way better than the first.