What is taking them so long? Rodney asks himself for the fifth time since John had reported they were on their way back. He's retreated back into the jumper with the marines John had sent back already, reasoning that if John wants any more information about the hive ship, Rodney can either point out that they don't have the time, or try interfacing with the jumper. He's making notes of what materials he's going to need from Atlantis to send into the dilation field with whoever's going through, in order to disable it when John pages Rodney on the radio.

"McKay, can you give me a life signs count on the hive?" Rodney tries to calm his sense of urgency and calls up the jumper's HUD. There are two clusters of life signs directly in front of each other; they're the only ones on the ship. Huh, Rodney thinks, and reports this.

"You need backup?" Lorne asks John.

"No. They're Athosian," John replies. The life signs were hybrids then, not Wraith, which is comforting in some ways and not in others. A minute or two later, John and Ronon show up with the group of hybrids in tow; John grabs a radio from a marine and promises their leader that the Daedalus will be in contact. It's incredibly difficult for Rodney to suppress his urge to shoo John up into the jumper and back into space, but John takes the hint from Rodney's tightly compressed lips and gets moving.

"I thought Michael was supposed to be in control of them," Lorne says, nodding back at the ship as they race for the Stargate.

"It didn't look like Michael was in control of much of anything," John observes. "Though that had a lot to do with McKay's quick thinking." He turns to flash a grateful smile at Rodney that lights up the whole jumper. "Thanks again, Rodney."

Marines in the jumper, marines in the jumper… Rodney chants in his head as he smiles back and mutters something inconsequential. Then they're landing in the jumper bay and Rodney has a self-imposed deadline of ten minutes to gather everything he needs, crutches be damned.

"Find the person you're sending through the portal in the next ten minutes and get them to the control room so I can tell them what they'll need to do," is the last coherent thing out of Rodney's mouth that John can understand before McKay starts for the door with as much speed as John thinks he's ever seen from him, injured or not. John doesn't start canvassing his troops for volunteers, though, because it's been obvious to him who has to go, whether Rodney's too busy to realize it or not. He starts for his quarters; even if Rodney can orchestrate dropping the field in half a day, that's still over a month of time for anyone inside it, and John doubts he will be greeted by a peaceful sect of people looking to ascend, this time.

"Hey," Ronon calls out before John gets far out of the jumper bay. He turns around to see Ronon tossing an object toward him: His second blaster.

"You'll want it in there—doesn't need ammo," Ronon says, turning to walk away. John's still trying to process this development, but he manages to tell Ronon to hold up.

"Where did you—"

"McKay. Said it was for you." Ronon shrugs. "Figured three years of begging was enough, and you deserve it."

This time when Ronon turns away, John's too overcome to stop him. Rodney made him a blaster! John hardly knows anyone that's seen Ronon's gun in action who doesn't want one, and he's hardly known Ronon to be without it. He's touched by Ronon's faith in him, yes, but what's really getting him is the fact that Rodney took time he didn't have to do something like that for John, without asking for anything in return. Because, Rodney had been right—he hasn't treated John any differently, despite John's immediate change in behavior. John's pretty sure Rodney hadn't intended to ever let John know how he feels.

Again, John's drawn back to that moment outside the stasis chamber, when he asked Rodney's hologram if he'd rather John just stay trapped, so that Rodney's brief happiness with Jennifer wouldn't be erased. John walks into his quarters, looking for the most comfortable, durable clothes he has to take with him. In his mind, he can hear himself telling Rodney that changing the future means there's no guarantee that he'll end up with Jennifer.

"Yeah, that's what I'm counting on," Rodney had said. But at that point, John hadn't known how Rodney felt about him. It was almost as if Rodney would rather live alone in a world with John than have a relationship in a world without. John's adrenaline is flowing; he's about to step through to a time dilation field he has no sure guarantee he'll ever get back out of… for the second time in his life. That's not what has him so off-balance, though. He feels like he's come to the break point, where he either needs to fly off on his own or keep to formation.

"McKay to Sheppard—you have five minutes to find your guy," Rodney reminds him. John's really kind of scared that he already has.

Thanks to the transporters being down, it takes John six minutes to get to the control room, and all through the last minute, he's certain he's going to hear Rodney's unhappy complaint that he's late. When he gets there, though, Rodney's worked up, but not because John's late, but because Rodney's not ready.

"This is complicated," Rodney says, frowning at his computer. "I can do it, but if the person we send through isn't good at thinking on their feet, it's not going to work. I'm not sure how Michael was going to get around that part," he adds.

"That won't be a problem," John tells him, setting his tac vest on the floor beside the console. "Let me know what to do, and I'll—"

"No, no, no. We're not playing telephone with this. Bring them here, and—"

"I mean I'm going," John interrupts. "Tell me how to do it."

Rodney looks at John for the first time since he got to the control room, clearly taking in John's soft cotton shirt and his tac vest with its pockets stuffed full.

"Sam?" he calls out. "Heading into the conference room, radio if you need me," Rodney says without waiting for a response. He starts for the doors of the conference room while John's still standing there trying to process what just happened. He catches up with Rodney easily, and when they both cross the threshhold, Rodney turns around so fast John wonders if the crutches are just for show, now.

"I won't argue that you're not the perfect candidate for this, but you can't go," Rodney says. "And please don't tell me you think it's because of how I feel—"

Even though Rodney says this in a low voice, John still takes another step inside and lets the doors slide shut.

"I don't think that, Rodney," John says.

"—because that's only a small part of it. The city needs you, and I'm not comfortable with the idea that I might have spent an entire lifetime without world-class research grants or a Nobel only to see you get old and gray because… Because I had to rush this. It might not work, John," Rodney admits unhappily. "And I want Teyla back, believe me, I do, and I sound horribly selfish, but it's on behalf of the city, and this is one of those times where you don't have to go off and do something dangerous thanks to something I'm in charge of—"

John hears the words, understands the complex sentiments behind them, and recognizes that there's one sure-fire way to derail Rodney's desperate monologue. The question for John is whether he's ready to go there. What motivates him is the thought of what Rodney might think for the rest of his life if John doesn't say something and somehow does get stuck in there forever. Because, whether or not Rodney would ever say that John owes him for bringing him back, John knows he does.

"I uh…" Just say it, John, he tells himself. But he was never one for a willing heart to heart conversation, even when he'd been married, so instead of telling Rodney what he's been thinking about, John shows him. He steps close to Rodney, who hadn't stopped talking before, but he does now. Placing one hand on each of Rodney's shoulders, John tips his head forward, shutting his eyes and waiting for Rodney to complete the gesture. When, a tense thirty seconds later, Rodney does, John opens his eyes, having thought of the perfect phrase that conveys everything he wants Rodney to know.

"I trust you," John tells him, his lips three inches away from Rodney's. I'd trust you with anything, John hopes his actions convey. He's not quite ready to give Rodney what he wants, but he's done running away from the idea, anyway.

"Wow. Okay, um," Rodney says, blinking at him in astonishment for a few seconds before pulling away and grabbing his computer in a bemused rush. "Here's what you have to do…"

Rodney knows he's a complete idiot.

He isn't entirely certain he could have avoided it, but this isn't any consolation now that John and his confusing (possibly-not-completely-hating-the-idea of maybe being with Rodney?) self is growing an undoubtedly sexy beard in the time dilation field right now. But John's been a heterosexual all his life, Rodney's pretty sure (not that he hasn't devoted a few nights to picturing a young John Sheppard experimenting in college), and now Rodney's gone and given him months' worth of time to persuade himself that's what he wants after all. Not to mention the fact that if Teyla hasn't been there as long as Michael claimed she was, John might decide that a beautiful and intelligent woman right there in front of him is better than a balding and hesitant man who had a chance to speak up for years and—

He's got to stop torturing himself, but unfortunately he can't help build the phasing beacon they're building to send through the time dilation field, and Rodney got all of the coding done for it in the two hours since John left. They sent Lorne out a half hour ago in a jumper stuffed to the brim with food, supplies, and a camera to record whether they've been picked up, but it takes time to walk from the jumper through the woods to the portal, and he's not back yet.

"Glowering is not motivating, Rodney," Radek pipes up from behind his welding helmet. "Speed makes mistakes, as you know."

"You were never able to prove that it was my shortcut that caused the breakdown," Rodney protests, waving a hand as though to dismiss Zelenka's argument entirely. "And even a shortcut takes weeks of Sheppard's life—"

"Enough!" Radek lifts the helmet to frown at Rodney. "You are wasting my time with distraction. Go sit by the Stargate and pine for your team leader while leaving me alone!"

The thought that Rodney was prolonging the building process was enough to send him away, though after the third time he asks Sam to get a status report from Zelenka, she tells him Radek is threatening to refuse to ever fill out Rodney's staff assessment paperwork ever again.

When Lorne returns, his news isn't any more heartening—though they'd sent paper and crayons (Sam's idea; the wax might prove easier to pinpoint in the dark cave with a low light video recorder), John hasn't set up any kind of status report whatsoever. It takes six hours to complete their part of the plan, twice as long as Rodney had hoped. It's another half hour until they are able to drop the phasing beacon, but thanks to the revolutionary equations that Michael's schematics had included (that Rodney totally intends on using to humiliate most of the scientists on Earth, if the SGC ever lets him), they're able to nullify the tidal forces just long enough to send a 'cease' message to the receiver Rodney knows John has already built at the transmitter.

The bubble that's developed thanks to the dilation field below seems to flicker just once, but Rodney knows that at the rate the time is racing through it, they were two full hours apart for John. The nearly four months (instead of the two Rodney had been hoping for) he had to spend down there should have been more than enough to locate Teyla and her son, neutralize any threats that might remain, and show up at the portal in time for the second shut-down, but Rodney's terrified that their crazy Pegasus luck will strike at the worst time for his teammates.

There's no way in hell Rodney's going to make it through the autumn woods on crutches, so he waits anxiously at the jumper as Sam and Ronon head toward the portal. Five agonizing minutes later, he hears rustling through the brush that lines the forest floor. The sound of running footsteps join the rustling leaves, and then a piercing giggle as two figures burst straight through a dry pile of leaves. Rodney's relief is so strong he has to sit down on the bench inside the puddlejumper.

It's John and a little boy of about three or four years old. The boy is wearing what had clearly been one of John's field shirts on top of pants made of animal skin and bare feet covered with mud. His long black hair is full of leaves from his trek through the woods, and as Rodney watches, John scoops the little boy up and turns him almost upside down in his arms, shaking all of the leaves off. John looks fantastic, his shaggy beard matching his shaggy hair and well-worn clothes. The grin on his face is genuine and unguarded, and Rodney feels almost hopeless at the idea of ever being able to prompt such a reaction in him.

Rodney's body is blocked from John's sight by the shadow inside the jumper, and Rodney doesn't know what to say, so he stays hidden until adult voices herald the arrival of Teyla, Sam, and Ronon.

Teyla's hair is long and full, and she's wearing a ringlet of flowers on her head that Rodney's sure John must have put there. She looks happy and healthy, and Rodney's overcome with the emotion of having missed her. This is the Teyla he knows and loves, with her joyous smile and proud bearing. He grabs at his crutches with hands that are trembling, and by the time he makes it to the bottom of the ramp, Teyla's at his side and offering a hug.

"You'll never believe—" Rodney starts to say, then stops, remembering the words the clone had spoken to him about his selfish disregard for anyone but himself. And while he doesn't want to be that person, and she may have had a point, this—here, now—was Teyla, his teammate and friend. "—what we went through to find you!" Rodney says anyway, and beams when Teyla leans her head against his and laughs.

"I missed you also, Rodney," she says.

"I'm sorry it took us so long," Rodney tells her. "I was completely ready to watch the baby for you, you know," he lies. Teyla sees through it easily, and Rodney wonders how he could ever have mistaken the recognition in the clone's eyes for the honest affection in Teyla's.

"So John has said. But your lateness has had the happy effect of Torren being able to spend his first years in grass and sunshine," Teyla says, after rewarding him with a skeptical look for his offer. "John has begun to teach him how to read and write."

Torren, hearing his name, wiggles free of John's arms and approaches Ronon, who seems to be carrying their accumulated possessions in the large duffel bag Rodney had sent with Lorne. Torren looks cowed by Ronon's size (but not completely intimidated, as Rodney suspects he would have been if Ronon still had his longer hair), but he stands his ground, asking for his 'papers' in childish but clear language.

"So that's where the crayons ended up," Sam says when Torren finally pulls what he wants from the bag. Torren sits on the ground by Ronon's feet and spreads a handful of crayon drawings out in the grass in front of him, clearly looking for a particular one. When he finds it, he surprises everyone by holding it out to Ronon.

"This you?" he says, pointing at a tall man with long snake-like hair standing next to a figure that has to be Teyla. Ronon crouches down and nods soberly. Torren reaches out a small hand to pat Ronon's head gingerly, a sad expression on his face.

"Want a ride?" Ronon asks him, leaning over far enough that Torren could climb onto his shoulders. His dark eyes wide, Torren nods and clambers on.

Rodney watches as John observes Torren throughout this exchange with a look pretty close to fatherly pride. He hasn't glanced Rodney's way once, and the whole rescue strikes Rodney as bittersweet; he'd known this would happen, but for him, it's only been a few hours since John had given him the hope he'd never expected to feel. Telling himself he would regret drawing attention to himself, Rodney calls out to John, who's gathering up the papers Torren has left on the grass.

"You want to fly us back, Sheppard? You've got to be itching for it by now."

As expected, John's response is focused on his new family, and not Rodney.

"What do you say, Torren—do you want to fly in a real spaceship?" Torren's wide-eyed nod is adorable even to Rodney, who had been horrified at the prospect of diaper changes, and isn't so sure he's any happier about whatever messes a toddler has in store for him.

Ronon sits in the co-pilot's chair with Torren, Teyla on seat behind them. Rodney defers to Sam for the seat behind John and chooses to sit on the bench, feeling just as isolated emotionally as he does physically. At least when they land, he's able to vacate the jumper quickly, and it's easy to lose himself in the crowd of expedition members waiting to welcome Teyla and her son back home.

Rodney hasn't had a real shower in a long time, because it's difficult enough to wrap a leg cast in plastic bags on Earth where one has a never-ending supply of them, much less in Atlantis, though for different reasons. Here, most of them have been appropriated by the poker club as doggie bags for their winnings. Rodney really, really sucks at poker, but he's managed to acquire a large black garbage bag that fits perfectly around his leg. A few lengths of duct-tape later and he's enjoying a long, hot shower that might have been obscene in other circumstances. Rodney's just too depressed for that right now (which is depressing in and of itself, really), so he finishes up with a luxurious hair lather and after ripping off the ugly bag, he wraps himself in the huge bath towel that he'd bribed his sister to bring with her on her last visit.

He hops out his bathroom door and reaches for his crutches.

"Hello, Rodney," John says.

Rodney jerks in surprise, his towel sliding one way and his crutches another. He opts for the towel, because being rejected twice in the same room is bad enough without being naked the second time.

"Hey. Um?" Rodney says, at a complete loss. He stares at John for a second, noting his damp-looking hair and freshly-shaven face. "My robe?" he finally blurts out without thinking.

"Oh, right," John says, actually standing up from Rodney's loveseat and retrieving the robe from Rodney's bed… which is strewn with Rodney's clothes from getting ready for the shower, the clothes he plans to wear to bed, and the clothes from the drawer he hides his bath towel in (because you can't be too careful with luxury items like that). John's circling around behind him, apparently to drape the robe over Rodney's shoulders, and there's only one way this could be more embarrassing—

"Hey," John says conversationally, "Did you know that there's a tag on your ass that says 'Property of Dr. Rodney McKay?'"

Rodney starts hopping back towards the bathroom.

"Do you really need the 'Dr.' part on it? Wouldn't the—"

"John?" Rodney manages. "What are you doing here?"

"Yeah, about that," John says awkwardly, rubbing his hand on his neck in that way he has when he's uncomfortable.

"If you're here to tell me about you and Teyla, I figured it out," Rodney says, holding his head up proudly. "I won't try to get in the way."

"You won't? That's kind of disappointing."

Rodney tries to turn around slowly, the effect marred by the way he has to hop, and thus clutch his towel to make sure it doesn't fall off.

"I mean," John continues, looking around the room as though this weren't a possibly life-changing conversation. "I'd figure someone like you would play dirty. Fluctuating shower temperatures, squeaking radio malfunctions, that sort of thing."

"Squeaking radio malfunctions?" Rodney can't help asking.

"Rodney," John says, and holy hell, John Sheppard is in his room whining while Rodney stands in the doorway of his own bathroom in nothing but a towel and robe. "Can we please skip this and get to the part where I'm not stuck in a hut milking goats imagining all the things you can do with your hands?"

"You milked goats?"

"Rodney," John practically growls. There's another second where Rodney's still stuck on the image of John Sheppard, flyboy Kirk, milking goats, before his brain catches up to the rest of the sentence.

"Oh," Rodney says, a little stupidly. "Well, okay, yes!" he says, snapping his fingers twice and clapping before he can stop himself. There follows a few seconds of silence that should be uncomfortable (really, he just did a freaking 90's snap-clap move like they were about to do a science fair project together) but actually isn't that bad until they both realize at the same time that they're waiting for the other to make the first move.

"How did I ever think of you as Kirk? Get over here," Rodney adds in a voice that he hopes to hell doesn't sound as vulnerable as he feels, because, okay, he can't reach his crutches, and hopping is already totally not sexy even without a 'Property Of' tag waving around in the vicinity of his ass.

"I'm not one of your lab assistants," John says, even as he starts walking towards Rodney.

"I used to think you were smarter than all of them," Rodney confesses, "until three seconds ago when you still weren't—"

John's kiss is every bit as cocky as his behavior leading up to it, which suits Rodney just fine. He lets himself be led wherever John wants him to go, which happens to be deep and dirty, and maybe Rodney's starting to get why John's commanders let him get away with the non-regulation hair and untidy uniform, because there's a kind of joy to John's insolence, here. It's like he's reminding himself with every sloppy kiss and caught breath that this could cost him his job. It's exhilarating and sexy right up until the moment that John drops to his knees.

"Yes, yes, yes, but no, can't stay… standing—God yes—seriously, bed, NOW, and um, John?" Rodney stammers, various parts of his body warring for bloodflow. There's something he needs to ask, but what…

It comes back to him right as John releases Rodney's towel, something in the rebellious look in his eye that sends the red flag of worry back for another round of qualms in Rodney's head.

"This is quite possibly the stupidest thing I'll ever say, but—this isn't like, a big 'fuck you' to your draconian government, right? I didn't unleash some sort of…"

"Rodney," John interrupts, his hot hands resting on Rodney's thighs in a way that will haunt his dreams whether or not he ever gets to have this again. "I'm going to suck you. Then, I'm hoping you'll touch me however the hell you want, and I promise you when I come I will not be lying back and thinking of Uncle Sam, okay?"

Rodney files away the prospect of dirty talk for the future under 'Please, For the Love of…' He has to be sure, though.

"I just—"

"Four months, Rodney," John says just before he dips his head, and Rodney forgets everything he was going to say thanks to John's excellent powers of persuasion. John's mouth is hot; the swirls of his tongue are exactly right, and by the time John's hands trail sweat from Rodney's thighs to pump him a few times as he sucks, Rodney's right on the edge. Rodney's been clutching his comforter in a vain attempt to keep from pulling John's hair, but when John's tongue twists one way and his fingers curl in another, the friction is too much, and Rodney forgets himself.

With a long groan of pleasure, Rodney slides his hand through John's hair and just then, John lets out a moan of his own. The vibration is too much for Rodney, and he tugs on John's hair in a desperate last-minute warning.

"I'm—" he breathes, and John pulls off to rest his head on Rodney's thigh, palming him with the perfect amount of pressure through his orgasm, pulling off right when Rodney is trying to work up enough energy to flail at him.

"That…" Rodney tries to say. Then, "You—I—"

"I know," John says, wiping his hand on Rodney's bath towel before sitting on the floor leaning against the bed. A few minutes pass as Rodney tries to reassemble his brain Dr. Manhattan style.

"Don't think I missed your nerd moment, Solo," Rodney says. "Up here, please, I was never young enough for the floor."

The way John hoists himself up onto the bed with his arms makes Rodney stare with no shame. John had taken his shoes and socks off while Rodney was still recuperating, and the sight of John Sheppard's bare feet on Rodney's favorite old comforter makes it all real to him. It's the sort of detail he wouldn't have bothered with in his fantasies, just as he wouldn't have pictured the way John's body loses its tenseness the second Rodney slides his hand down John's chest.

Rodney slowly unbuckles John's belt; the button on his pants comes undone easily thanks to the pressure of John's arousal against the fabric. The tension breaks slightly when Rodney struggles in vain to pull John's pants off in a way that doesn't make them both look like inexperienced teenagers, but with John's help, both pants and boxers end up in a pile beside the bed, and Rodney's faced with everything he's always wanted, and then some.

"I knew there was a reason why you wore them baggy," Rodney says, sacrificing a few hours of back pain to the pleasure of kissing John's clever mouth and stroking him at the same time on the narrow bed. The way John moves underneath him—alive and so very real—fuels Rodney's desire just as much as John's own ministrations had. John's cupping Rodney's head in a way that feels more like holding on than anything else, and Rodney isn't quite sure how in the hell he's managing to move his hand and kiss at the same time, he's so overwhelmed with pure want.

Then, John's hands move down to Rodney's ass, and everything is friction and wetness and heat until he doesn't care whose wet spot he's lying in and Jesus, it's a good thing spontaneous human combustion is a bunch of hooey, because Rodney's pretty sure they would have proved it, right there.

They lie there for a long time just breathing each other's air until the reality of drying body fluids, morning staff meetings, and full bladders becomes more pressing. They look at each other over Rodney's defiled towel and Rodney tells himself he doesn't even mind that John took the Star Wars route of vocal reciprocation.

In what Rodney later determines is a rare moment of perceptiveness, though, John nudges Rodney when he gets up, nodding towards his discarded clothes.

"Check my pocket," John says as he heads into the bathroom, gracelessly hopping into his boxers on the way. Somehow Rodney manages to look away from this spectacle long enough to grab John's trousers and, sure enough, there's a creased piece of paper inside. He unfolds it to find a crude crayon drawing of two stick figures, one with a mass of black hair, another with a prominent frown and big blue eyes.

"Torren drew it," John says over the sound of the toilet flushing. "It's us."

It isn't until John's gone back to his own quarters and Rodney's absolutely not stupidly staring at Torren's drawing that he notices the John and Rodney figures are holding hands.

Four Months Later

During his first weeks back in Atlantis, visiting Teyla in her quarters with Torren instead of at their house in the abandoned cloister had felt truly strange to John. What had really made him feel at home, though, was the first time he sparred with Ronon. John had left with a bruise on his chin and a small cut on his finger that had merited sucking kisses (Rodney loves to mark him, but John can't risk it—unless he has a reason for the bruise) and a bitchfest, in that order. It turns out that Rodney likes John's hands about as much as John likes his, which is an interesting development. Exploring this became the reason Rodney didn't lose his temper and fire his entire staff when he saw that he needed to go over everything that Michael's virus touched in order to make sure that all traces were gone ("I swear, if I ever go crazy and decide to enact some diabolical plot via computer virus, I'm going to make sure it's self-erasing, because the guy cleaning it all up afterwards seriously doesn't need this shit!"). The private celebration Rodney has for the completion of that particular job makes John wonder why the hell Rodney took so long to tell John how he feels.

It isn't until Jennifer announces that she's successfully duplicated the serum that John remembers that not everything is back to normal.

Teyla wakes from stasis without pain, neither of which she had expected. When her eyes adjust to the light in the room, she sees that she isn't alone. Ronon is sitting a few feet from her bed, his gun held loosely in his lap.

This, she had expected.

When he notices that she's awake, Ronon leans forward, meeting her eyes and offering her a genuine smile, despite the way he's adjusted his grip on the gun.

"Morning," he says.

"Is it?" she asks, many other questions inherent in her reply.

"Torren and Teyla and Kanaan are fine," Ronon answers, nodding. "Michael's not."

"Good," she says, shutting her eyes to process the implications. She'd almost hoped that Teyla wouldn't have named her son Torren, that somehow they were different enough that she could have been wrong about that. What she really wants to do is demand to speak with Elizabeth and impress on all of them the necessity of changing their approach to her galaxy, but Elizabeth is gone, and Atlantis isn't even on the same planet as her memories tell her it should be. The many reasons that she does not belong here flood through her mind, but before she can be overwhelmed, two thoughts float to the forefront.

"Ronon, did you stain your own tattoos?"


His quick response simply reinforces the conclusion she's already drawn—she has clearly overstayed her welcome. She still knows him well, whether he is willing to acknowledge that or not, however.

"Because, though Torren is not my son, I still wish to protect his mother's identity as separate from my own, when I leave here."

This proves to be the correct answer, and the conversation that follows is friendly enough that Teyla almost tells Ronon the main reason why she wishes to distinguish her appearance. Whether her virus-poisoned blood will hasten her death at the hands of the Wraith, she doesn't know, but she hopes she'll be able to kill half as many as Ronon has, before the supply of serum Michael had hidden away runs dry.

The night after Teyla's clone is taken out of stasis, Rodney and John take some beer and walk out to the farthest pier to drink it, far enough away that the lights of the city don't obscure the stars they can see in the southern hemisphere.

"So," John says to Rodney when they're both pleasantly buzzed. "What do you think our next crisis will be? Renegade Asurans? The Ori?"

"Don't you dare," Rodney says, pointing an unsteady finger. "Every time you say something like that, I end up building some contraption that you fly off in, all stupidly heroic—"

"That only happened once, Rodney," John says pleasantly.

"Bullshit," Rodney protests. He always swears when he's drunk. John can't help but find it strangely endearing. "I keep a running tally, Colonel Suicide Mission."

"Well, you know, that which doesn't—"

"Kill us?" Rodney interrupts in a voice that's bordering on high pitched. "I'm strong enough, thank you very much."

"I was going to say, 'that which doesn't sexually frustrate us to death,'" John says, lying back and resting his head on his crossed arms. "But—"

Rodney doesn't let him finish, but that doesn't bother John in the slightest. He doesn't plan on telling Rodney that his new habit is to say outrageous things on the hopes that Rodney will interrupt him. It's much healthier than his previous habits, which included running for his life and risking his neck at every opportunity. John doesn't necessarily plan on halting these activities either, but he's got Atlantis, his team, and Rodney, and that's all he really needs to beat the odds, anyway.

The End

Thank you for reading! This was written for the SGA Big Bang challenge in 2009, and there's a lovely piece of art that goes with the story. I'll be getting that link up in the profile ASAP, but until then, you can do a google search for SGABigBang and see if the site is up (it had some technical difficulties. There's a LiveJournal community as well as an official website--both link to each other), and look for the story under my usual moniker of Darsynia. If you feel like it, do comment here (or there! Anon comments if you don't have a LJ account are welcome) before you head over--positive or negative, I love to hear how people feel about my writing.