Rodney woke up hoping that he wasn’t dreaming, that the warm familiar bulk of Carson was really next to him. If it wasn’t then his bad mood of the last few weeks was going to look like nothing compared to today. He burrowed deeper into the warmth, face tucked in beside Carson’s waist, arm draped over his stomach. It felt real, smelled real, sounded real as he caught the gentle whisper of steady breathing. Good so far. Looked like he wasn’t dreaming.
They’d fallen asleep with Carson still propped up on the pillows and Rodney by his side. Hours later, McKay had slid down and was nestled at the other man’s side. He shifted, craning his neck to look out from the covers. It was barely light out. They could sleep awhile longer before he had to get up. The movement made Carson’s fingers curl along the nape of his neck sending delicious little shivers down his back. Rodney remembered last night, gasped slightly at the thought of how dearly he’d wanted to touch this man again. He burrowed further in, infinitely thankful that Carson still wanted him. Not dreaming, thank god.
The next time he woke, the doctor was idly carding fingers through his hair. “Mornin’, luv.” Rodney rolled on his back, stretching as he smiled up at his lover. “Coffee.”
“You remember where it is.” Rodney stood, stretched again and Carson stared at the body displayed for him. Rodney had lost weight since coming to Atlantis, most of them had. But now he was thinner, almost too thin. It looked fine on Colonel Sheppard, but not on Rodney’s heavier frame. He made a mental note for them to talk about it. Or not…because just then he caught site of the decidedly muscular ass and thighs and couldn’t stop the groan that escaped.
“What?” Rodney was staring at him, perplexed.
“Oh, nothing, just thinking.” A flush rose up his cheeks and Rodney realized that he’d been putting on a display for Beckett. “You like that, huh?” His eyes twinkled.
Beckett grinned back, “Oh aye, turn around slowly and let me see ye.” And Rodney, much to his own surprise, did just that. Put himself on display. “Yer just beautiful, Rodney.” Carson’s brogue thickened with his lust, making it harder for Rodney to say no to anything. “C’mer…”
Both men were hard before their lips even touched. Rodney sank to his knees and Carson pulled him in, invading his mouth, plundering it with his tongue, overwhelming Rodney until neither of them could deny needing to breathe again.
“I want you.” Carson was breathless, intense, hand wrapped around the back of Rodney’s neck.
“Briefing….in an hour.”
“Oh god, Carson. I can’t.” The hand that had been holding him close strayed down to his cock, palming it and sliding down until the heavy balls that hung just below were cradled in his fingers.
“Are ye sure, luv?” He rolled each globe, brushing the skin behind the sack with his finger tips. Rodney lost all resolve and lowered himself, wanting more contact, pressing their cocks against each other when the hand that held him fell away. The dry, heat of skin brushing over skin gave way to slick fire as both men leaked and then it was over…quicksilver, bright lights, earthquakes and a million other clichés, neither wanting to hold out for long and slow. Hips bucked against one another and neither man knew who came first, just that for a minute both were wrapped in identical ecstasy.
“You’re going to kill me.” Rodney’s chest was heaving, forehead resting on Carson’s good shoulder.
“Never, but I do need you to move offa me, luv.” There was pain on Carson’s face and Rodney was stricken. “Oh sorry! Are you alright? Do we…”
“Shh, I’ll be fine, but I think we should both clean up before you have to go.” They lay wrapped around each other for a few minutes longer then Rodney stirred and made quick work of getting Carson showered and the bandages changed. Putting on yesterday’s dirty uniform he gave in to breakfast in the mess, so long as they stopped to let him change on the way. With a half hour to spare they settled in for breakfast. A number of people stopped by the table to wish Beckett well. When Radek drifted by Rodney looked up shyly and gestured to the seat next to Carson. “Join us?” The surprised smile he got in return made the gesture worth it. Carson was looking on with a glint of approval in his eyes.
They chit chatted about Carson and Radek’s recoveries, and Carson complained about Biro and Ikejaku keeping him on bedrest and away from work, which set Radek to laughing in delight. Carson scowled further only to set Rodney off as well. The two men were almost in tears, enjoying seeing the physician dosed with some of his own medicine, when John Sheppard and Elizabeth Weir came through the door. For a minute it was as if they’d all gone back in time. John looked over at the trio and grinned, his eyes twinkling at the thought of what might have set them off. Then Rodney looked up and the laughter died on his lips and John’s smile faltered in it’s wake. Rodney looked away as quickly as he could; it was Carson and Radek who caught the hurt that flashed through the Colonel’s eyes and the sadness in Elizabeth’s.
The two made their way through the breakfast line and over to another table across the room. It was only a few minutes later when Sheppard’s voice interrupted the quiet conversation that had finally started up at the scientists’ table. “Carson, good to see you out and about. Feeling better?”
“Thank you, John.” The two men exchanged courtesies, but there was a question in Sheppard’s eyes that was answered by a slight shrug from the doctor. “Yes I am, bit by bit.” Rodney had looked up long enough to see the exchange but then focused on his tray, not meeting either man’s gaze.
“That’s good.” He patted the uninjured shoulder and looked at the other two men sitting there. “Radek, good to see you too.”
“Thank you, Colonel. My head, it is too hard to do any real damage.”
“I could have told you that. But let’s not do it again, anyways.” The two men chuckled and Sheppard looked at his watch. “Meeting soon, guess I’d better be on my way. Carson, Radek.” He nodded to the two men and smiled. “Rodney.” McKay still didn’t look up to meet his eyes.
“It is time for me to get back to my room before my keepers will come for me.” Rodney looked at the Czech scientist oddly.
“You are not the only one with minions, Rodney. Biro and Ikejaku, they a whole army of them. They use the threat of big needles to win the hearts and minds of the people.” That attempt to lighten the mood worked, and McKay smiled.
“Do you need help getting back?”
“No, I am fine. You take the doctor back to his room, then have good meeting. I think I like being invalid after all. There is less talk talk talk.” He left as the other two stood. Out in the hall, they headed for Carson’s quarters.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” They were walking slowly, at a pace Carson could handle without wearing down.
“Oh come on, Carson. I saw the look between you and the Colonel.”
It was a few seconds before the doctor answered. “First, thank you for emailing John and Elizabeth yesterday. They came by while you were gone.”
Rodney nodded. He’d figured that they wouldn’t visit while he was around. While he had no desire to see them, he knew that Carson would.
“So what did you tell them about how to get back in my good graces? That’s what the look was back there, wasn’t it?” If it came out a bit sharp and cynical, it couldn’t be helped. Carson stopped walking, hand steadying him against the wall.
“You know Rodney, hard as it may be to believe, not every conversation in Atlantis is about you.” And didn’t that just wipe the knowing look off Rodney’s McKay’s face. Carson was standing there and he was angry. Angrier than Rodney thought he’d ever seen the man. But they were in public and the Scotsman wouldn’t cause a scene.
“Carson, I’m sorry, I did…”
“For your information, Rodney, we didn’t talk about you being his friend again. I think the scene that played out in your room the other day got your message across. The Colonel was pretty detailed telling me about it. He and Elizabeth know they’re not wanted. They hate it, but they’ll learn to live with it.”
Now he was feeling outright guilty. When he’d seen Sheppard in the mess, just that split second after he’d shut down his laughter and wiped the smile off of John’s face, he’d seen the hurt and regret that John had buried behind the military presence. He’d ignored the other man after that, knowing he could inflict pain just by flaunting his own hurt. It was petty.
“And don’t think I didn’t notice how you played the Colonel back there.” Rodney’s eyes flew open in surprise, he could swear Beckett was reading his mind. “Didn’t think I caught it did you? So how long are you going to punish them for making a mistake? How long are they going to have to work at it to earn your trust back?”
Carson started walking again, leaving Rodney standing in the hallway staring, “You know, at least they stopped when they realized what they were doing. What’s your excuse?”
Rodney was the last to arrive at the conference room, slipping just before the meeting was scheduled to start. With Radek out of commission he’d had to start attending all of the meetings that he’d been delegating to his second in command. Before he could take his seat, Elizabeth spoke up, “Don’t sit down Rodney.” Everyone in the room froze, wondering what was going to hit the fan now. “Please follow me, all of you.”
She rose from her chair and walked past Rodney taking his arm lightly so that he had to walk next to her. They filed out onto the balcony overlooking the gateroom and she stepped up to the railing. All activity had ceased the minute the senior staff had appeared overhead. Curious faces, scientist and military alike, stared up at them, waiting. Before Rodney could bolt, Weir gripped his arm more firmly, touched her earpiece so that her voice was broadcast throughout Atlantis, and cleared her throat.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like a word with you.” She made herself look Rodney in the eye, then back out over the staff. “I owe all of you, but most especially the gateroom staff and Dr. McKay an apology. The day the Arcturus project exploded I failed you as the leader of this expedition, and I did it in the worst way possible, publicly and at the expense of an expedition member. Rather than accept that the responsibility for what happened that day rests solely with me, I berated Dr. McKay, placing the blame on him. And I forced everyone here to witness it. So I want to make it clear to all of you that as the leader of this expedition, the responsibility for what happens ultimately lies with me. I know that…” she turned to Rodney and looked him in the eye, “and I truly regret what my lack of leadership that day brought down on the members of this expedition. Rodney, I’m sorry.” She turned and left before he could lose the shocked, deer in the headlight expression. Stepping into her office, she was shaking and never heard the scattered applause that echoed behind her.