Title: Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology, Part 2/3
Author: Quasar (quasar273)
Summary: Years ago, John recruited a famous wizard for a project that went bad. Now he's asking for Rodney's help again.
Author's Notes: Written for the Away Team in mcshep_match, to the prompt "Call of Duty." Special thanks to argosy for story advice and beta, and to my beloved spouse for discussing this story with me week after week!
Back to Part One
Montreal, QC, July 2004
"You just cost me a job," Rodney growled when they were out on the street. He glanced down at John's hand on his arm and shrugged free once again.
"Yeah, and such a great job, too," John said, following Rodney along the sidewalk.
"Hey! It pays the bills. Some of them."
"A part-time gig playing jazz? Come on, Rodney, you can do better than that!"
"I switched to music because it's safe."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"If I'm just a musician, no one gets hurt by my work." Rodney's quick steps slowed and he swallowed hard. "No one gets killed."
They walked in silence for a while, then John cleared his throat. "Look, I'm staying right around the corner from here. We can talk in my room."
"Assuming I want to talk," Rodney muttered, but he didn't say no.
"It's the Hotel St. Denis." John waited for Rodney to mock his pronunciation.
"Ooh, swanky. Didn't know the NID's budget had increased -- but then I wouldn't, would I, since they don't make it public."
John bit back his first and second responses. "I sprang for it myself, actually." He was here in a not entirely official capacity, but he was sure if he convinced Rodney to take the job he could also persuade the brass to hire him.
"So just a personal budget increase, then?"
"I'm a major now," John said, still proud of the accomplishment even though it had been a couple of years.
"Huh. That means a higher degree, doesn't it?"
John nodded. "Masters in Aeronautics. I considered Thaumaturgy, actually, but no one teaches it like you do."
"Like I did," Rodney corrected.
And then they had reached the hotel and John couldn't safely say any of the things that wanted to come out of his mouth. Entering a hotel lobby with Rodney, ascending the elevator and unlocking the door, all brought back memories so powerful that John almost went into the room first to make sure there were no threats. Instead he stood back with a smile and waved Rodney in.
Near Pervomaysk, Ukraine, May 1992
As usual, Rodney was at the front of the group of dignitaries before they even entered the missile bunker. John, being a supposed bodyguard, was really supposed to enter rooms and buildings before Rodney did, but sometimes it was hard to keep up with him.
John's real job, to keep Rodney from doing or saying the wrong thing, had also turned out to be kind of a non-starter. Rodney talked nonstop and he almost always said the wrong thing, but never by revealing their secret mission. He simply offended everyone, everywhere, until they got angry and stopped listening to anything he said. It was surprisingly effective cover.
"Yes, yes," Rodney was snapping now, "I'm sure the decades-old technology in your control room is very impressive, but I'm more interested in seeing the missile itself."
Dr. Ulyshenko, whose real title John had promptly replaced in his mind with 'tour guide,' had learned by now how to smooth over some of Rodney's gaffes. Fortunately, few of the people working at these silos had English fluent enough to keep up with the details of Rodney's high-speed diatribes.
"And what good is a blast door that's propped open?" Rodney demanded as they moved from the control area toward the silo.
The officer in charge at this particular site was flustered. "The ventilation fans do not work -- we wait for the part to come. We must breathe."
"Yes, apparently you must breathe toxic fumes. Didn't anyone tell the designers of these things that the fuel lines should run separately? You get one little leak here and you're going to be very sick."
"Yes, we know," the officer was saying, "Russian design, what can Ukrainians do?" He shrugged apologetically, but Rodney had already moved on.
They were standing at the top of the deep well which housed the missile; the nose cone was slightly below their level.
"And how many warheads are in this particular missile?" Rodney demanded.
Dr. Ulyshenko stepped in before the local officer could speak. "The RT-23 or 'Scalpel' as you call it can accommodate up to ten warheads."
"I know that, but how many are loaded in this one right now?"
"That information is classified," Dr. Ulyshenko said impassively.
John suppressed a sigh -- it wasn't a surprise, but not knowing how many actual warheads were in place meant that Rodney would have to work his conversion on all ten cavities that might hold fissile material. It was a lot of magic to work, especially without revealing the effort he was exerting.
"I hope for your sake that the real number is zero, because you have some serious problems here. Look at the corrosion over on the -- yes, here, if you could just step out of my way, thank you --" Rodney casually ducked around a hulking Ukrainian soldier, who looked in bafflement at his commanding officer. They had probably been told to be polite to the visiting dignitaries, but they weren't expecting someone like Rodney.
Rodney was climbing down the ladder to the service platform, talking constantly and occasionally twisting around to wave at something on the body of the missile. The local officer and Dr. Ulyshenko followed more slowly, as did a couple of other scientists from the advisory group. John stayed up at the top level with Rodney's briefcase, fading into the background like the other bodyguards.
"He certainly is... energetic," said a voice at his shoulder. Dr. Elizabeth Weir quirked an eyebrow at John. As one of the diplomats in the group and the youngest member of the delegation besides Rodney, she had proved very helpful in smoothing some of the ruffled feathers he left in his wake.
"But must he do this at every silo that we visit?" chimed in Dr. Trinh, one of the more senior members.
Dr. Weir smiled. "He does seem to be finding different things to comment on at each site."
"Primarily variations on a common theme," said Dr. Pappathanapoulos, who was leading the delegation. "I think we have established the essential steps required for successful decommissioning."
Weir tilted her head thoughtfully. "Dr. McKay does have a point -- each case offers unique challenges, and they may find that a single strategy doesn't suit them all."
Rodney's voice floated up from the service platform: "And you'll want to be sure to drill at least one hole in the nose cone -- after the warheads are shipped away, of course --" as he pointed at the top section of the missile. No one would guess that he was performing magic as he spoke.
But even as good as Rodney was at hiding it, the magic still had its price. When John saw him panting up the ladder, he stepped forward to offer Rodney a hand up to the top level.
"Rodney?" Elizabeth Weir came toward them. "Are you all right? You seem rather flushed." She laid the back of her hand against his forehead. "And you're burning up!"
"I'm okay," Rodney gasped. "Just, uh, overdid it a little."
"Maybe it was something you ate?" John suggested quickly. Some of the delegates had expressed surprise at how much food Rodney packed away at each meal, especially since none of it showed on his slender frame.
"Yes, uh, I guess that could be it," Rodney murmured. He swayed a little, and John tucked a hand under his elbow.
"We're done with official business for the day," said Weir, watching Rodney with concern. "Maybe you should skip dinner and just head back to the hotel? Dr. Pappathanapoulos can make your excuses to the mayor of Pervomaysk."
"Yes, of course, this will not be a problem," Pappathanapoulos agreed at once. He wasn't a big fan of Rodney's conversational style.
"That sounds good, but can you spare a car and driver just for the two of us?" John asked.
"We will make it work," said Pappathanapoulos, apparently eager to get rid of Rodney.
It was nice having a car to themselves for a change. With a barrier between the compartments and a driver whose English was suspect at best, they had a kind of privacy. John opened his own briefcase and handed over one of the water bottles he had taken to carrying. "Headache?" he asked.
Rodney moaned. "Awful." He was slumped back against the seat, eyes closed and face glistening with sweat as he gulped blindly at the water. "Food?"
John had already unwrapped the leftover sandwich from lunch. "What's the matter, forty warheads in one day too much for you?" The final two Scalpel silos had been squeezed into their tour at short notice, on top of the Stilettos they had anticipated.
"It's crazy," Rodney mumbled around the sandwich. "Even with the tricks I figured out to maximize efficiency, that's pushing it." He opened his eyes cautiously, squinted at the light, and closed them again.
John grimaced. "I'm sorry about the change in itinerary. If I'd known they were considering it, I would have --"
Rodney flapped a hand weakly. "Nothing you could do about it. The fever and headache will pass in an hour or two. What else do you have in that briefcase?"
John handed over the candy bar he'd been saving, and it disappeared in a couple of bites. "We'll get a proper meal back at the hotel."
"Better be a big one. Wake me when we get there." Rodney tipped his head back against the seat and drowsed the rest of the trip while John sat in thought, reflecting on the missile commander's offhand comment about Russians.
The short nap and a dinner big enough for three people perked Rodney up, and he brought out the travel chess set they'd been exercising off and on.
"I'm curious about something," John said once the game had gotten started.
"What would happen if the Plutonium in the warheads was contaminated with Pu-240?"
"It already is. Up to seven percent -- that's about the best anyone can do. Isotope separation is very inefficient."
"But what if it were more, like fifteen or twenty percent?"
Rodney looked up. "Like Maybourne wanted me to do?"
"Basically what I said. I mentioned a crane operator getting killed? That really happened -- Japan, I think. As much transport and handling as these things are scheduled to go through, an explosion would be almost inevitable."
"Oh, not like Chernobyl or anything. Enough to kill a few people, possibly contaminate the plant or train depot or whatever."
John sat back and thought about what that might do to the decommissioning process.
"The colonel was right in that they would probably assume it was bad quality control, and never connect it to us."
The missiles came from Russia and would be going back there for decommissioning, so that sounded potentially bad for the troubled relationship between Russia and Ukraine. "But it would work, right? I mean, it would make the warheads unusable?"
Rodney opened both eyes this time. "Not necessarily. The critical mass would be higher -- maybe higher than the mass of the warhead. But it's risky. Depending on the exact concentration and location of pockets of Pu-240, the chain reaction might still take off."
John bit his lip and decided that was enough of that topic for now. "Checkmate."
"I -- what? You did that on purpose! You distracted me!"
"Shouldn't play chess when you're exhausted, McKay," John said smugly.
"Best two out of three?"
"Maybe tomorrow. Right now I think you should get some sleep."
Rodney's breathing had deepened into half-snuffles, half-snores when there was a soft tap at the door. There was no peephole, so John called softly, "Who is it?" through the heavy wooden door.
John cracked the door open.
Elizabeth looked past his shoulder at the dim lights in the room. "Is Rodney all right? He looked pretty rough earlier."
John smiled easily. "Yeah, he started feeling better after a nap."
"Good, I'm glad to hear it." She glanced down at the white paper bag she was holding. "I suppose, if his stomach is bothering him, he won't want this. I brought some leftovers from dinner."
"Oh hey, that's really thoughtful," John said. He figured Rodney would appreciate the food in the morning, or if he woke up in the night.
She handed the bag over. "John, could you tell me..."
"Why does Rodney need a bodyguard? Most of us on the team don't have one."
"Ah." John grimaced. It was true; none of the other scientists had bodyguards, only Dr. Trinh and Dr. Pappathanapoulos who were both high-powered diplomats. Those were private contracts, but Elizabeth thought John was a private hire as well, since he hadn't mentioned his NID employment and Rodney never addressed him by rank. "It isn't so much about this trip, as some of Rodney's other work," John said in a confiding tone. "And I'm afraid I can't really talk about that."
"I see. But... is he in danger?"
John swallowed. "He might be."
"You don't think his illness today is --?"
"Oh, no." John tried to think of the right thing to say to allay her suspicion but not make himself look either stupid or unneeded. "Actually, I did consider that at first, but it passed off quickly. I think he's just tired. I'll keep a closer eye on what he eats from now on." His hand clenched in the paper of the bag.
Her mobile lips pursed thoughtfully. "Take good care of him, then. I'll see you both tomorrow."
The conversation left John feeling nervous enough that he took a small taste of each of Elizabeth's offerings. He could always tell Rodney he was checking for citrus.
He was sprawled on his own bed and a couple of chapters into his latest book when his suitcase rang. Cursing and hoping Rodney wouldn't wake, John pulled out the briefcase-sized satellite phone and carried it into the bathroom before answering.
"How's it going?" Maybourne's voice crackled. The signal was scrambled and supposedly secure, but as an extra precaution they never used names or ranks in these conversations.
"Pretty smoothly," John said. He started the water running in the sink, just in case. The elderly plumbing had a habit of banging; that noise in addition to the sound of the water itself should thoroughly foil anyone trying to listen in. "There have been some changes to the itinerary, nothing major. We're about halfway done."
"Good. We've checked at this end and found no sign of the plans. He must have the papers with him."
John winced at the thought of what Rodney would find when he got back to his lab in Princeton.
"I need you to get copies of those plans."
"That wasn't part of the job, sir," John protested, but he remembered the small camera he'd been issued. Apparently someone had had this possibility in mind all along.
"The job -- the mission is whatever it takes. You know how important this is. Get the plans." Maybourne hung up.
John turned off the water and closed the phone's case again. He sat on the closed toilet for a moment, thinking. 'Spy' wasn't a job he'd ever signed up for. That was supposed to be for the guys who asked to go to NID, not someone who was assigned to NID as punishment. John just wanted to fly. Anything -- jets, props, choppers -- anything was better than being stuck on the ground. But apparently he needed to play the spy for now if he ever wanted to get back in the air.
With a sigh, he carried the phone case into the bedroom. He would replace it inside his suitcase, get the camera, casually pick up the scientist's case instead, carry that into the bathroom -- and then he'd have to figure out how to get past the lock somehow.
The lights were up in the main room, and Rodney was seated at the table humming happily over the contents of Elizabeth's bag.
"You're awake," John said in surprise.
"I could hardly sleep through that phone ringing and then the stupid pipes banging. You do know you're not supposed to take the phone in the shower with you, right?"
"Ha ha." John slipped the bulky phone into his case and hesitated a moment, reaching into a side pocket.
"I guess I slept what, two hours? I feel pretty good, though. How about a rematch at chess?"
John unclenched his fist from around the camera. "Sure, sounds great."
Montreal, QC, July 2004
"Um, feel free to... have a seat." John hastily grabbed his bag from the chair and dumped it on the floor.
"Traveling light, hmm?" Rodney sat in the chair but didn't put his music bag down. His knuckles were white where he gripped it.
"Uh, yeah. Just out here for a couple of days."
"To talk to me."
"That's right." After so much waiting and preparing for this moment, John felt unaccountably at a loss for words. He rubbed the back of his neck. "You want something to eat? I have a -- no, well, I could order --"
"I'm fine," Rodney said quickly. One hand relaxed from the music bag to rest self-consciously on his stomach. "I don't eat so much these days. Don't need to."
"Because you're not doing magic."
"You look, ah, you look good. You've filled out."
"By which you mean, fat."
"No! Really, you were way too skinny before. Not that I thought -- I mean -- um. You look good."
Rodney looked up. "I notice you're not commenting on my hair."
John gulped, his palms itching with the memory of the soft golden waves from a decade ago. "Definitely not commenting on the hair. Well, it does, um, show off your eyes better."
Rodney's mouth quirked. It seemed more slanted than it used to be, and John wasn't sure if that was from age or unhappiness. He felt a sudden urge to kiss that frown away, see if it evened Rodney's mouth out, see if he still tasted the same.
Chernivtsi, Ukraine, May 1992
Rodney flipped on the room light. "Oh no! They gave us one bed again!"
John lowered his suitcase and took in the room. "At least this one is bigger."
"I'm going down to the front desk and --"
"They don't have any more rooms, Rodney. Relax, I promise to be a perfect gentleman." John put a hand over his heart.
Rodney snorted and tossed his own case onto the bed. "I can't wait for this trip to be over."
"Today wasn't so bad, I thought. We got done early, anyway." John yanked off his tie and scratched under his collar, envying Rodney his less formal clothes.
"It still wasn't a day off! Haven't had one of those in over two weeks."
"Three more days and we'll be done."
Rodney rummaged through his suitcase. "That's a good thing, because I'm almost out of clean clothes."
"And by 'clean' you mean 'worn less than ten times since last washing?'"
"Hey, it's not like I've had time to go to a laundromat, you know!" Rodney tossed his sports jacket over the back of a chair and frowned. "Do they have laundromats in Ukraine?"
"You can get the hotel staff to clean your clothes. You just have to pay them."
"Oh, I'm sorry I neglected to include a budget item for bribes in my grant proposal!" Rodney clicked the switch for the desk lamp, frowned when it didn't come on, and reached into the top to check that the bulb was screwed in properly.
"It's not a bribe, McKay --" John had just pulled his own jacket off, but a sharp gesture from Rodney made him pause in the act of twisting out of his shoulder holster. "What is it?"
Rodney made an odd sound of annoyance. "Here, take this." He turned and deposited something small in John's palm.
"It's okay, I deactivated it," said Rodney.
"Are you sure?" John asked, just as the faint odor of burnt electronics reached his nose.
"Of course I'm sure! I fixed the lamp, too -- bad switch." Rodney clicked it on defiantly. "You would think, if they're going to plant bugs in lights, they would at least make sure the light is, oh, working? So it doesn't draw attention?"
John hmmed and set the bug on the table while he went for his briefcase.
Rodney looked around the room. "Do you think there are others?"
"There might be." John got the signal detector out of his case and extended the antenna. "Can you deactivate them all?"
"Sure, if you'll find them for me."
John arched an eyebrow. "I thought you didn't need to see something to be able to affect it."
"I need to know where it is, though!"
"Well, I'm not finding anything," John said, eyes never straying from the needle on the detector. "Let me check the bathroom... no, nothing in there either. I guess we're clear."
"Who was it, anyway?" Rodney asked. "Who bugged us?"
"Could be anyone. GRU, CIA, Interpol, Ukrainian police, half a dozen intelligence agencies."
"Can't you tell from the, the design?"
"I can't. They didn't really cover this sort of thing in flight school, you know. But maybe someone else can; that's why I'm saving it." John frowned down at the dead bug on the table. "I guess I should put it in something. Um..."
Rodney made an impatient sound and grabbed his own briefcase. He pulled out a small three by four inch manila envelope (John was briefly diverted, wondering why he was carrying it around), stuffed the bug inside, fastened it shut, and handed it to John.
"Thanks." John put the envelope and signal detector away, hyper-aware that Rodney's briefcase with all his notebooks and papers was still sitting open on the table. He searched for something casual to talk about. "So, um, I'm still confused about what you can and can't do."
If Rodney thought the change of topic was odd, he didn't hesitate to follow -- probably because magic was his favorite subject. "I still can't detect things with magic. Can't read minds or sense the astral plane or whatever crap they like to spout in New Age tea parlors. Or find bugs, case in point."
"But you can affect things you can't even see, right? Even the books and movies usually stick to line of sight."
"It's a common misconception, and the belief perpetuates itself because mental state is so important to magic. But really, you just have to know exactly where the thing is that you want to focus on."
"So you couldn't deactivate a bug if you didn't know it was there."
"Right. It's -- I tell my students magic is a lot like music. Everyone can sing, if they have ears and voices. Everyone can press a key on a piano. But very, very few people do it well enough to make a living at it. Magic is like that. Someone with limited talent can improve a lot through proper training. But no amount of training is going to turn Pee-wee Herman into Luciano Pavarotti."
"So natural talent does matter, but almost anyone can learn to get around the line of sight. That so-called rule is much less important than, say, emotional limitations on magic. Movies always get that part wrong, too; they make it seem if you want something badly enough, the magic will just work. In fact, it's almost the opposite."
John nodded. "I think I read about that. Something about the blood supply in the brain?"
"Exactly. The phaba, the organ that produces and directs thaumons, is located down in the lower parts of the brain, far from the cortex -- that's partly why it takes so much work to achieve the right mental state for certain kinds of magic. The other reason, of course, is that the phaba is right next door to the hypothalamus, which is involved in strong emotions, especially anger. When the hypothalamus is stimulated, the blood flow to the phaba is reduced. And that means no one can work magic when their emotions are strongly engaged."
"But that's a good thing, right? I mean, otherwise there'd be a lot more cases of magic getting used in domestic violence, or road rage, or murder, right?" There were still the odd sensational stories of magical serial killers, but those were psychopaths with messed up emotional responses.
"Yes yes, that's probably why the phaba evolved that way. Toddlers who kill their parents during a tantrum have a poor survival record. However, it also means that someone whose house is burning down can't suppress the fire with magic. Someone whose spouse has a heart attack can't send a jolt of electricity to restart the heart. Someone being stalked in an alley, or even just bullied on a playground, has no recourse to magic for defense!" Rodney's voice shook with feeling. "You have to be calm to work magic, and that means it's not there when it's needed the most!"
"Whoa, Rodney, I had no idea you cared about this kind of thing so much." John's eyes strayed to the papers in Rodney's briefcase.
"Yes, well. It's a . . . thing, I suppose. Something I've been working with, trying to find a way around it."
"And did you?"
"Maybe. Maybe." Rodney stood up and stretched his back, wincing. "Hey, is it okay with you if I get the shower first?"
"Sure, no problem." John tried to look casual, pulling his paperback out while Rodney moved his suitcase to the floor and headed for the bathroom with his toiletries. The last few days had made John acutely aware of how often Rodney tended to change his mind, reverse directions, pop back out of the bathroom for a last word or to write a note on an idea that had just come to him. So John waited until he heard the shower actually running before he reached for the briefcase Rodney had left on the table.
It didn't take him long to find a notebook with exactly what he needed -- a series of closely-spaced notes and diagrams about Rodney's biggest breakthrough. Some of the notes were mixed in with other material, so John wasn't exactly sure how much of it was important; he had to assume all of it was. He set the desk lamp to shine on the pages and grabbed his camera. It took longer than he'd expected from spy movies. He was only three-quarters of the way through the written pages when the shower cut off -- and he still hadn't even glanced at the loose papers in the briefcase.
Rodney showered and dried as fast as he talked; John had time for a couple more pages, but he couldn't finish them all before his internal alarm told him to start cleaning up after himself. He put the notebook back in the briefcase again, moved the desk lamp further away, stuffed his camera in his pocket and grabbed his book to lounge innocently on the bed.
Then he waited. Apparently this time Rodney had decided to linger after his shower, unlike every other time since Maybourne had told John to copy the plans. After five minutes John couldn't stand it anymore. He should at least look at the other papers in the briefcase and figure out if they were important too. So of course he was standing there with Rodney's papers in his hand when the bathroom door opened.
"Hey there," John said. "I knocked your stuff off the table, sorry. I'm not sure if I put everything back in the right order."
"It's not a problem," said Rodney, but his mouth was slanted uncertainly.
John set the papers and notebook back inside and closed the briefcase, hoping Rodney wouldn't notice it was still unlocked.
Rodney wasn't paying attention; he was bent low over his suitcase, sorting through the clothes. John stared at the line of his spine and the rounded ass below, barely covered by one of the hotel's skimpy towels. The towel came loose and Rodney reached back to grab it before it fell, but he didn't bother wrapping it around his waist again. John swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry.
"So, not such a perfect gentleman, after all?"
"Huh?" John realized Rodney had turned around, and he was still staring. He tried to drag his eyes up to Rodney's face, but the hand holding the towel moved and drew his gaze again.
Rodney tossed the towel aside. "I guess the quoting show tunes thing wasn't just a fluke, huh?"
John gulped. "Rodney, look, I..." He had no idea what he was about to say.
Rodney stepped forward -- did his hips normally swing like that? -- until he was directly in front of John. His interest was unmistakable. "That's okay. This is a lot more fun than chess." Then he took John's face between broad palms and leaned in for a kiss.
Rodney's mouth was hot and minty, his narrow lips surprisingly soft. For a moment John felt self-conscious about his unbrushed teeth, but then Rodney made a small sound of appreciation and plastered himself against John's body, and everything else became very unimportant.
John's hands roamed hungrily across smooth, heated skin. Rodney had a broad frame, though there wasn't much meat on it. John's fingers mapped every dip and swell, the rise of muscles and the hollows of joints. Rodney's chest hair was more abundant than it looked, the blond wisps nearly invisible against pale skin. Below the navel the hairs grew coarser and redder, curling around heavy brown balls that swung whenever Rodney moved. His cock was average-sized but looked bigger jutting between his slender hips. Even fully erect, it pointed straight out from Rodney's body instead of up along his belly the way John's did.
While John was looking his fill, Rodney was ready to start some exploration of his own. He had the bottom two buttons of John's white shirt undone and was reaching up underneath it with eager hands. Startled to realize he was still dressed while Rodney was naked, John started to shrug off his shoulder holster.
Rodney caught an arm to stop him. "Leave it on," he breathed huskily.
"I -- uh, I can't..." John couldn't form the words to explain that it was too dangerous, that he didn't mix guns and sex, that the possibility of accidental injury left him cold.
Rodney seemed to get it, anyway. "You can take the gun out, but leave the holster on."
"Uh... okay." John pulled out his gun, checked the safety, and set it on the bedside table. "You like the holster?"
"Oh yeah," Rodney murmured. He undid the top button on John's shirt and leaned in to lick at the hollow of his throat. "Makes you look dangerous." He sank to his knees and pressed his mouth to the bare skin just above John's waistband where the shirt was gaping open.
"I am dangerous," John managed. He was half-leaning against the bed for support, his hands on Rodney's shoulders, resisting the temptation to push him down further.
Rodney looked up at him, eyes glinting. "So am I." He popped the button on John's black pants and pulled the zipper down in one motion. Then he was mouthing John through the cotton of his boxers, mapping his length and position. As usual, John's erection was trying to grow up past the waistband; Rodney discovered he could dip his tongue just past the elastic and tickle the head of John's cock.
John closed his eyes and tipped his head back, fingers twisting through silky hair. "Rodney..."
Rodney hummed interrogatively, the vibration going right through the cotton to John's skin.
John groaned. "Rodney, please!"
"Please what?" Rodney murmured, pulling the elastic down an inch and giving John's cock another swipe of his tongue.
John swallowed hard. He'd done this before, of course, but not with a lot of different people. He could never quite guess how someone might react. He tried to keep his hands from fisting in Rodney's hair. "Suck me?"
Rodney grinned broadly and pulled John's boxers down until the elastic pressed firmly on the base of his cock. "Okay." And then he slurped John into his mouth.
That was definitely John's preferred reaction.
Rodney was eager and confident enough that this couldn't be his first time, but not perfectly skilled. His technique felt damn good to John, but he kept pausing to adjust the angle of his head or John's cock. After a moment he half-rose off his knees, but that didn't seem to work either. With a frustrated growl, Rodney pushed John back against the bed until he overbalanced and fell, sprawling across the coverlet. Rodney grabbed John by the legs and pulled until his hips were nearly hanging off the bed; then, with a small noise of satisfaction, Rodney squirmed between John's knees and bent to suck him in again.
This was good. Rodney's mouth was hot and deep, and John could just lie back and groan. Rodney swirled his tongue expertly on the upstrokes and took him a little bit deeper with each downstroke. Then, just as John was starting to get lost in the sensation, Rodney went a little bit too deep and his throat fluttered oddly around John's cock.
Rodney pulled back and swallowed hard, his lips swollen and wet, one hand curled loosely around the base of John's erection. "Sorry! I always wanted to do that, but I, I never have time to practice. You know I'm a really busy person, and --"
"Shhh," John breathed. "It's okay. You don't have to swallow me." It was fun to think of, but John really didn't want to risk being puked on. "Just stick to sucking. That was good. That was awesome."
"Oh, right. Okay." Rodney bent to it again, this time with more tongue work, teasing the slit while his hands massaged John's balls and the base of the shaft. When Rodney's jaw got tired, he licked his palm and jacked John hard, squeezing and twisting, his hand moving in a sort of circular motion so it was never still, never pausing between strokes. There was always slick skin moving over John's hot flesh, and it was glorious. The sensation kept him right on the edge for an agonizing few minutes that felt more like a couple of hours, until Rodney bent and started sucking again. That was too much, and John exploded so fast and hard he didn't have time to give any warning beyond a startled shout.
Rodney eased off the suction but kept his mouth in place until John started to get too sensitive. He swallowed, but didn't quite manage to suppress a little grimace at the taste. John liked knowing that Rodney would do that for him even if it wasn't the most delicious thing he'd ever eaten.
"I didn't mean to finish you off so fast," Rodney said a little regretfully.
"Then you shouldn't be so damn good at that," John huffed. He stretched a little on the bed, feeling the glow of satisfaction spread through his muscles.
Rodney looked a little smug. "Like I said, I don't get as much chance to practice as I'd like. But I was hoping to try, um, some other stuff." He looked down at his erection, flushed and eager and pointing straight at John.
"You could fuck me."
Rodney's cock twitched. "Oh! Um. I don't know if I -- that is, I wouldn't want you to -- I mean, if you're not going to get anything out of it..."
"Oh, I will," John promised warmly. "I'll probably get hard again." He glanced down, realizing he must look debauched with his shirt half-undone and his nice pants creased and his hair probably defying regulations -- not to mention his softened dick hanging out in the air. He stood up slowly and undid his remaining buttons, making a little tease out of shrugging off first the holster and then the shirt. His pants and boxers were barely clinging to his hips; a little shimmy and they fell, so he could step out of them. It was no elaborate performance, but Rodney seemed half-mesmerized anyway. John crawled onto the bed and lay on his stomach, hitching one leg to the side appealingly. "Come on. You got any stuff?"
"Hmm? Yes! Yes, I do," Rodney breathed and dove for his toiletries bag. He came up with a small bottle of AstroGlide and a strip of condoms, which he dumped on the bed. Then he started petting John's back, easy sweeps up and down with a tantalizingly light touch.
It was John's big secret, his sensitive back. He considered it his biggest and most neglected erogenous zone. Only a couple of lovers had ever realized how much he loved to have his back stroked, and even they had rarely used just the right touch -- light enough to tease and stimulate, firm enough not to tickle. If he hadn't known it was impossible, John would have suspected Rodney was reading his mind, because he did it perfectly. Soon John was panting and twitching like a puppet under Rodney's skilled hands, his cock lengthening all over again.
The hands strayed lower, caressing John's cheeks and exploring the cleft between. "Are you... um, have you --?"
"Yes, Rodney, I've done this before and I know I like it," John drawled. "Get ready and get in me."
Rodney made a strangled sound and fumbled around behind John, tearing and squirting and shifting his weight. "How, uh, how do you want to do it?"
"This is good." John lifted himself up to hands and knees. Rodney palmed his ass cheeks almost reverently, and then blunt fingers were at his hole, spreading slickness and checking how loose he was. John wasn't exactly promiscuous, but he knew how to relax those muscles at will, so he didn't need a lot of preparation. "Fuck me already."
Rodney edged forward, his knees pressing John's wider apart, and then he was pushing inside. He felt bigger than he looked. It took a moment to find the right angle, John canting his hips up and down while Rodney paused and shifted and pushed again. Then he was sinking in, sinking deep, and John felt the burn, that peculiar satisfaction of being filled.
"Yeah," John moaned. "Hard. I like it hard." He thought about Rodney's heavy balls swinging, bumping up behind his own, and that brought him back to full hardness.
Rodney pulled back slowly and then pushed in fast. His hips smacked against John's cheeks, and their nested thighs flexed together. He did this a few more times, slow and then fast, but pretty soon he was speeding up.
John gasped and moaned and squirmed, trying to get his prostate into the act. There! With his elbows braced straight and knees spread wide, John got the benefit of every hard thrust straight on his pleasure point. The bed squeaked with Rodney's steady rhythm. The GRU wouldn't need bugs inside the room to know what the two of them were doing; the thought made John laugh out loud.
"What--" Rodney gasped, "What's funny? Oh -- oh, god, never mind, I don't care, just -- oh, yeah, like that --" as John distracted him with some well-timed squeezes. His fingers spasmed across John's back, his breath hitched, and he was really leaning into it now, hips pumping hard. Belatedly he started to reach around John's hip to give him a hand, but it was too late; Rodney's fist clenched around John's cock and stayed there as if clinging to an anchor while he rocked and groaned into John's shoulder.
"Sorry, sorry," Rodney breathed, pulling out and leaving an ache behind. "Should've... touched you earlier." He was still breathing hard, collapsed on his side on the bed, flushed and sweaty, his hair plastered in curls to his forehead.
"It's okay," said John, drinking in the vision while he jacked himself slowly. "I can take care of it."
Rodney's eyes popped open. "No, no, I want you to fuck me." He stripped off the condom and tossed it in the general direction of the trash.
John hesitated. "Are you sure?"
"Yes! It's what I had in mind earlier, but I was too, um, with the blowjob."
"Have you done it before?"
Rodney nodded. "Not... not a lot. I might need more, ah, stretching than you did. But I want it. I've been thinking about it since the first time I met you."
John remembered Professor McKay in the classroom, and how the khakis had clung to his backside. "So have I." He propped himself up on an elbow and stroked a hand along Rodney's chest. He wanted to find the other man's hot spots, the way Rodney had discovered his sensitive back. But it turned out most of Rodney's torso was acutely ticklish, and what should have been a makeout session quickly became playful wrestling instead.
Either because of the laughter or the recent orgasm, Rodney seemed pretty relaxed when John started to explore with a finger. He left just that one finger inside, unmoving, while he stroked Rodney's half-hard cock and licked at his sensitive nipples. The tease worked; Rodney was soon squirming in search of more sensation and making little sounds in his throat that were something like whimpers.
John sat up and let his free hand roam across Rodney's chest. Sure enough, several of the spots that had triggered laughter earlier made Rodney whimper even more now. "Something you want?" he breathed.
"More. Need... more!"
"Like this?" John brought a second finger up to tease the edge of Rodney's hole, twisting the one that was already inside.
"Yes, no. Want..."
"What do you want, Rodney?" John had the second finger inside now, scissoring carefully. A little bit further -- yes, there was the sweet spot.
Rodney gave a lush groan and apparently lost the power of speech.
"Tell me what you want," John urged, enjoying the sensation of having a powerful, mouthy wizard completely helpless under his touch.
Rodney gulped. "You. Want you. Inside -- oh!" as the fingers twisted again.
"What part of me?" John insisted, partly out of perversity and partly to buy a few more seconds of stretching. Rodney was pretty tight.
"Your, your -- oh, god, yes, right there! Um, your penis."
John raised a brow at the choice of word. Either Rodney wasn't used to dirty talk, or he really was bordering on non-verbal. Whichever it was, it was sort of sexy in a backwards way. John liked the thought that no one had made Rodney feel like this before, no one had made him beg for it.
John got a third finger into play while he tore a condom package open with his teeth. Rodney was hard again, dick pointing up at the ceiling as he twitched his hips back and forth.
John felt pretty clever about getting the condom on left-handed, but then he dropped the lube off the side of the bed. Rodney groaned with disappointment when John pulled his fingers free to go get it. Slicking himself up hastily, John used the opportunity to get Rodney positioned just the right way, with knees lifted up and spread wide.
"I thought, um, I thought," Rodney babbled as John leaned over him. "I thought face-to-face was supposed to be harder? For, um, people with less practice."
It confirmed what John had suspected; if this wasn't the first time Rodney had ever been fucked, it was pretty close to it. Maybe he'd never felt just how good it could be. "I've had practice," John promised, "and for the way I'm built, this works better." With his cock trying to curl up against his belly, John could hit his partner's prostate every time by fucking face to face. "And I want to see your eyes. Open your eyes for me, Rodney."
Rodney's eyes obligingly went wide as John pushed in. He was almost painfully tight, but after a moment he took a deep breath and the muscles relaxed enough for John to ease forward carefully. "Oh!"
"This all right?" John choked out, holding himself still against the sweet, hot grip of Rodney's body.
"Um, it's... yeah?" Rodney sounded uncertain.
John groped for Rodney's cock with his dry left hand and found it still hard. A few gentle strokes, and he could feel Rodney's muscles shift as his focus went from inside to outside.
"Oh! That's... okay, that works," Rodney gasped.
John looked down at the cock in his fist, still pointing right up at the ceiling. As a teenager, John had succeeded a few times in sucking himself, just barely getting his lips around the head. He wasn't quite so flexible now, but their relative positions brought Rodney up higher by several inches. Maybe... John pulled his knees forward. "Here, can you push up with your hips?"
"What are you -- mm! Oh." Rodney pushed up, and John got his knees under Rodney's butt, and he had the feeling his dick was pressing right up against Rodney's prostate now.
"Let me try something, okay? I'm not sure if I can do it, but --" John curled his spine down. He could almost make it -- the tip of his tongue grazed Rodney's slit. John let out his breath and pressed down harder, and he was able to get his lips on the head and give a proper suck.
Rodney cried out and bucked his hips involuntarily, throwing John off. He was staring as if John were some kind of god. Catching his breath, John grinned down at him and gave it another try. This time Rodney managed to hold still, though John could feel the pulse leaping in the shaft under his hands and tongue.
"How can you --" Rodney choked.
John straightened. "Like I said, practice." He gave an experimental thrust and found Rodney had relaxed from too tight to just very tight. "I can't really move properly while I'm doing that, though." He jacked Rodney consolingly while he started to move his hips.
"You're incredible. I've never heard of -- oh! Oh my god, do that ag-- uh!"
"There we go," John murmured, starting a proper rhythm that would hit Rodney's prostate each time. It was just as well they hadn't done this first, because John would have gone off within seconds of getting his dick into that tight slick flesh. As it was, he could feel the potential orgasm starting to lick at the base of his spine as he pistoned in and out.
Rodney had gone completely non-verbal, his head tossing from side to side and his hips lifting to meet each thrust. He was beautiful like this, with his hair mussed and curling, his eyes thin rims of blue around wide pupils, his sweet crooked lips swollen with desire, parted and panting.
John tucked one hand under Rodney to massage his butt while the other stroked his cock. Remembering the trick of the unceasing circular motion, John tried adding a twist of the wrist, and Rodney's cries turned up a notch. John hitched his knees further forward and started pushing harder into each thrust, shaking the bed with his force.
"That's it, buddy," John grated. "Give it up for me, come on..."
Rodney went still and silent, his eyes fixed on John's with a stunned expression as if he'd never felt anything like this before. Then the lids drooped closed and his face squeezed up and the shaft in John's hand pulsed hard, hot spunk spilling out over his wrist. John put his head down and drove his hips faster, the rhythm going wild and uncoordinated as he felt his body seize up, everything concentrated down to one central point of perfection.
John swayed and had to let go of Rodney's softening dick to catch himself. He stared down at the man under him for a few seconds, suspecting that they wore matching dopey expressions. Then, with a sigh, John pulled free to let himself flop over beside Rodney, one hand trailing across his chest.
"Well, that was, uh..." said John. It had turned out a little more intense than he'd expected.
"Wow," said Rodney.
"Yeah," John breathed. He felt a grin stretching his face. "I knew we'd be good together."
Under John's hand, Rodney's stomach growled, and both of them burst into laughter.