Rodney picked up a brush and, as he'd been instructed, wet it with his tongue before dipping it into the black powder piled on the dish before him. He looked nervously at Teyla. "So, it doesn't matter what I draw?"
Teyla shook her head from her position on the bed, looking down to where John, Ford and Rodney were seated on the floor. "You may draw what you please. It's the placement that's important, not the subject matter."
"I'm doing Mickey Mouse over here," Ford added, peering over John's shoulder to where Rodney was sitting and facing John's bare back.
"All right," Rodney murmured, more to himself than to anyone else. Anything. He could draw anything. Pursing his lips in thought, he then smiled slightly, and began drawing. All that time with the Russians was about to come in handy.
First, he traced the Russian word for peace, myr, in Cyrillic, on John's shoulder, above the shoulder blade. Then their word for health, which he sent spiraling up the back of John's neck. Prosperity went around the curve of his throat. Rodney could see goose-bumps raising on John's skin, so he placed his own hand along the back of John's neck as he worked. "Tickles?" he asked.
"Nah, I'm good," John answered softly.
This was probably the first time he'd ever touched John's skin - well, in quite this way. Feeling the occasion was deserving of something special, Rodney slid himself along the floor so he could better reach John's face. Then he let the Russian for caring curve along John's jawbone, up over one cheek. He looked to where Ford was working beside him, and sure enough, there was Mickey Mouse in all his glory, adorning the right half of John's chest. Mickey Mouse in tack vest with P-90, mowing down several Wraith. He met John's eye for the briefest of seconds, and couldn't stop himself from smirking.
John raised a brow. "I think I'm afraid to ask."
"You should be," Rodney replied as he sent the Russian for desire swirling up John's temple. He felt John's breath against his wrist, and his hand trembled. Closing his eyes against the sudden sensation of feeling, he lowered his head and dipped the brush in the pigments again.
"We just need to do his chest on up, right?" Ford asked.
"That is where such tattoos would be expected, so yes, that should be fine," Teyla said. "I believe what you've done should be enough."
"You want to do one before we wrap up?" John asked.
"They insist such markings can only be made by those of the same gender."
"How would they even know?" Ford asked.
Teyla simply said, "I'd know."
Ford put his brush down and, with satisfaction, announced that he was done. "Masterpiece!" he added, pushing himself up off the floor. He held his hands out in front of him, fingers blackened by the powder. "I've got to wash my hands."
Teyla stood as well. "There is a ritual for that. The powder is not easy to remove, and yet..." As she lead Ford from the room, Rodney looked down at his own fingers, now blackened at each tip.
"I can see what Ford drew," John said, voice quiet.
Rodney looked up, meeting John's gaze.
"What did you draw?"
"Russian words", Rodney said, shrugging.
"This one, back here, is peace," Rodney said, placing his hand where the symbols were.
John reached around and touched Rodney's hand, then raised it to his neck. "And this one?"
"And this?" John said, tugging Rodney's hand along his jaw.
Rodney's hand shook. "Caring," he said, his voice cracking slightly.
"And this?" John asked, tracing the figure on his temple.
"Desire," Rodney said softly, pulling his hand away.
"Desire," John repeated. He gave Rodney a half-smile, and then reached out and grasped the brush from where it had fallen on the floor. He took Rodney's hand and turned it, palm up, and began to draw. Rodney recognized the character as Asian - Chinese or Japanese. When John finished, he blew on Rodney's palm, causing goose bumps to raise all along Rodney's arm. Then he looked up at Rodney, green eyes bright through is fall of hair. "Desire," he repeated softly. He curled his hand around Rodney's, closing it. Then he smiled softly.
Rodney heard someone approaching, and pulled his hand away - but not before he returned John's smile with an awkward one of his own.
"You guys ready?" Ford asked, poking his head through the curtain.
"I am," John answered, holding Rodney's gaze... And Rodney felt that gaze to the pit of his stomach, and at that moment, he knew. John was ready. And so was he. Hell-yeah, so was he.