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by astolat

Rodney McKay was a cuddler. That was more than John had really wanted to know, but he'd involuntarily figured it out after the third or fourth time he woke up offworld in their shared tent, too warm, with a heavy arm slung over his chest and Rodney's face getting intimate with his neck. The first time, he groggily said, "What the hell," pushed Rodney off, and went back to sleep. The second time, it didn't take: by morning Rodney was reattached and snuffling at him again. The third time, John prodded him until he woke up, and told him to stop; Rodney stared at him, vaguely said, "Okay," and went back to sleep; he was snuggled in again by morning.

John irritably shoved him away again and went out to get coffee; when Rodney finally dragged himself out and John pointedly reminded him about the middle-of-the-night conversation, Rodney just said, "Huh? What, was I talking in my sleep? Did I say anything about the ZPM compression field structure? Because I've been working out some equations for that -- " and he was off and running.

The fourth time was a couple of weeks after they'd lost Brendan and Gaul; they were on M7X-R44, which had a nighttime low of minus 30, which was colder than John liked to sleep even with a good tent and a top-rated sleeping bag. He didn't exactly encourage Rodney, but he didn't make a point of complaining when Rodney rolled over and did his octopus imitation, either, and after that it felt kind of unfair to make a fuss about it. Rodney wasn't groping him, they had about ten layers of sleeping bags and clothes between them; it wasn't anything.

He put up with it for a long time; except then Rodney blew up five-sixths of a solar system and almost himself and John along with it, and afterwards John seriously wasn't in the mood. The next time they went offworld, he stuck both their packs in the middle of the tent between their sleeping bags, instead of anchoring the corners of the tent with them like usual; and for good measure added in a few other pieces of equipment he ordinarily left outside and tarped. The tent was crowded, but Rodney didn't say anything; he looked confused for a second, then he flinched and just unrolled his sleeping bag in the narrow cramped space left between the pile of equipment and the tent wall.

John woke up in the middle of the night, with a sense of vague unease; he looked over and saw a little reflection of light in Rodney's eyes; they were open, and he was staring at the ceiling. "Go to sleep," John said harshly.

"Oh, thank you, Colonel; I was just lying here trying to think what it was I was supposed to be doing, I just couldn't quite remember," Rodney snapped.

"We've got a long day ahead of us," John said. "We aren't going to be able to slow down for you. Quit brooding."

"Right, because it's not like you made a point of reminding me by building fortifications or anything," Rodney said, and he crawled out of his sleeping bag and ducked out of the tent. "I can't sleep anyway, go lie down, I'll take this watch too," John heard him say to Ronon.

"Sure?" Ronon said.

"Yes, yes, at least someone can be well-rested tomorrow," Rodney said. "Just keep me from walking into a ditch and we'll call it even."

"Okay," Ronon said equably, and there was some brief rustling as he went back into his own tent.

John rolled over onto his back and swore for a while, privately and inventively, at Rodney and at himself.

He didn't stack up the gear between them the next night, but apparently he'd made a permanent impression, because he woke up cold and unstrangled, and Rodney was curled over on his side, facing into the tent wall, all the way on the other side. Stupidly, John almost felt sorry.

That lasted until their first mission after he'd been cleared for offworld duty again, post-retrovirus; that night he woke up blissfully warm: Rodney was clinging again. "What, it takes me almost getting turned into a bug?" John said, out loud, yawning, and closed his eyes to go to sleep again.

Rodney said, "What?" John opened his eyes: Rodney was staring down at him, really awake for once, sitting straight up, wide-eyed and embarrassed. "I don't know what made me -- I didn't mean -- " he stammered.

"Relax, it's not a big deal," John said, trying not to feel as embarrassed as Rodney looked. "It's fine."

"It's fine?" Rodney said, baffled. "What, you get groped in the middle of the night all the -- oh my God," and Rodney was humping away with his sleeping bag still on like a caterpillar, looking stricken, "have I been -- is that why you stacked up the -- why the hell didn't you say something?" he demanded.

After that, Rodney was the one stacking gear between their sleeping bags.

John put his foot down about having half the camp moved inside with them. One pack was enough, if they even needed that, because Rodney was staying squashed into the corner again. But Rodney insisted on bringing in at least one, and John couldn't exactly complain; what was he supposed to say, no, I want to be cuddled? He just wanted Rodney to quit freaking out, not take their relationship to a deeply weird level.

A couple of weeks later John was sitting down in the mess hall when Katie Brown, giggling over something with her lunch-mates, sighed and said a little wistfully, "but that part was really nice; most guys won't really cuddle for that long -- "

His first gut reaction was to turn around and punch her in the face. He was so shocked at the feeling that it went away as soon as he'd had it, and then he dropped his untouched tray at the bussing station and went straight to Dr. Heightmeyer's office, because he wasn't an idiot.

"How often do you touch people?" she asked, after listening for a while.

"What, so I've been letting Rodney get away with this because I wanted a hug?" John said, annoyed.

"Get away with?" she said.

John remembered that he really hated shrinks.

"I owe you an apology," John said firmly. He was a little embarrassed that it had taken him a week to work up to this, but he wasn't going to let that show. Okay, if you counted the week he'd spent trying to convince himself he didn't need to say anything, and the week he'd spent working out what exactly to say, and the week he'd gone out to the mainland to help with the planting, not at all to avoid Rodney or Heightmeyer, it had been closer to a month, but what mattered was, he'd gotten here.

Rodney rubbed his face and looked bleary and baffled all at once. "Uh, okay?"

"About the thing." John waved his hand vaguely.

"Have you hit your head or something? Lately, I mean; or I suppose it could be a cumulative effect -- " Rodney came closer and peered at John's eyes like he was checking for pupil dilation.

"I made it out to be -- I acted like it was some weird thing you were doing and I was putting up with it," John said, carefully not backing away.

"Oh, that thing," Rodney said, turning red.

"I could've stopped it," John said determinedly; he was going to get out his speech, goddamnit, and then they could move on. "I could've stopped it anytime, and I didn't. I didn't want to."

That was where he'd been planning to go into Heightmeyer's whole theory about needing physical contact, and how he couldn't really touch anyone here being the CO, and how letting Rodney do the cuddling had been a completely understandable if chickenshit way of getting the human contact he needed, except Rodney was standing really kind of close, within-arm's-length close, so John kissed him instead.

"Oh, huh," Rodney said, dazedly, when John stopped.

John said, "I really shouldn't have done that," calm with terror, and got the hell out of Rodney's quarters.

"Okay, scratch that theory," John said, barging into Heightmeyer's office.

She looked up from her computer and lifted an eyebrow.

"I kissed him," John said. "Uh, this is confidential, right?"

"Yes," she said. "How did that make you feel?"

"What fucking difference does that make?" John demanded. "Jesus Christ, I can't go around kissing guys on my team."

"Would it be okay if he wasn't on your team?"

"No!" John said. "But that's not the point, the point is, your theory sucks! I didn't kiss him because I needed some physical contact!"

"So why did you kiss him?" she asked.

"I have no fucking idea," John said, and threw himself down on the couch. He waited. She didn't say anything.

"I don't know," he said. "Why does anyone kiss anyone?"

She looked at him.

"Oh fucking hell," John said, and put his head in his hands.

He decided, with noncommittal noises from Heightmeyer, that he needed to just back off some more and get his head wrapped around the idea that he was apparently attracted to (a) guys, (b) geniuses regardless of gender, (c) truly obnoxious people, and/or the possibly most terrifying option, (d) Rodney McKay. He figured he'd ask Elizabeth to stand the team down for a couple of weeks, go back to avoiding Rodney, do a lot of working out and flying, and get himself into a place where he could handle this.

His great plan lasted for about thirty seconds after he walked into his quarters and found Rodney sitting on the bed waiting for him. "Hey, about earlier," John said, edging back towards the door.

"Not a chance," Rodney said venomously. He stood up and pointed something at the door that made it go click-click-click.

"I'm sorry," John said.

"You're sorry?" Rodney said. "Okay, first of all, apparently we were sleeping together for months and I didn't even know about it, and then you broke up with me without telling me, and now you want to break up with me again just when it's gotten to the point where I could actually get laid, and not a chance." He pointed at the floor in front of him. "Get over here."

John went.

"Kiss me again," Rodney said.

John slid his hands into Rodney's hair and kissed him and kissed him and kissed him, and while he was doing that Rodney unbuttoned his pants and his shirt and started stroking him, putting his hands all over John's bare skin, pushing away the clothing until John's pants and boxers had slid down around his ankles and his shirt was hanging off his elbows and Rodney's fingers had stuttered over every bump of his spine and Rodney's palms had curved against his ribcage and his hips and Rodney's thumb was tracing restless little circles over the head of his dick.

Rodney stepped back and they fell onto the bed, and John buried his face in Rodney's neck and his hands traveled all over the soft, welcoming planes of Rodney's body -- god, how badly he'd wanted to do this, all those nights lying so carefully still with Rodney breathing soft and moist and tender on his throat, keeping his own hands rigid at his sides, not allowed --

"You can," Rodney was saying, "are you kidding me, you can touch me anytime you want -- " proving it, offering himself up, and John groaned and pressed him deep into the covers with his whole body; and afterwards, they lay down together with their heads on the one pillow, and John slid his thigh between Rodney's legs and put his arm around Rodney's back and just held on and on and on.

= End =

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