A Different Kind of Dance
With thanks to cesperanza, astolat and
terrio for beta!
To John's surprise, Rodney was a pretty popular dance partner for the young Athosian women. John had been stalking the guy through six songs so far and hadn't gotten any closer to him than three Athosians back. John thought it probably had something to do with the way Rodney held himself and his partners--graceful, formal, like a guy who'd learned how to dance from his grandmother with his sister as a partner, and was good at it despite himself.
Which, from what he understood, was pretty much exactly how it had happened.
Compared to the rest of the men lumbering around, tripping, sometimes cursing and sometimes so close to getting it right that it hurt to see them step on their partner's toes, Rodney looked like a professional. And Sashi, the Athosian who'd fought off her friends for a second dance, was mooning over him like he was Fred Astaire, Elvis Presley and James Dean all rolled into one, and not a balding astrophysicist fifteen years her senior. It was kind of sweet. John wanted her gone, ASAP.
He edged around the fire, one eye on Rodney and Sashi, one eye on the band. As soon as anyone showed signs of slowing down or switching to another song, he was swooping in. Sashi was getting bolder, her hands on Rodney's ass as often as not while Rodney was starting to get a little red in the face and desperate-looking. The light smoke from the fire seemed to get to him and he turned his head to sneeze, and Sashi was right up against him while he was distracted, all slinky hips and long hair tumbling over Rodney's arm as she arched her back.
That was it. John took a step in their direction, fully intent upon saving Rodney from the clearly predatory Sashi and dragging him off into the darkness so that John could prey on him instead.
Teyla was there with a hand on his arm, stopping him. He looked down at her and raised an eyebrow, and she smiled, wry and wise. "The song will be over soon," she said. "Sashi will not be ready to ask for a third dance. Be patient."
John shrugged one shoulder, casual. Sashi looked ready to ask for a third dance. She'd made her intentions obvious when she'd unlaced her top to show a little more cleavage, unlaced her skirt to show a little more leg, and dragged Rodney into the second dance despite his rather polite-for-Rodney attempts to brush her off.
A second dance was generally considered an invitation to spend the night. John knew as well as anyone else that second dances usually ended early, with the couple slipping off into the woods. Sticking around to the end generally meant a third dance was a sure thing.
And a third dance might as well be a proposal.
It wasn't that John thought Rodney was particularly interested in spending the night with a pretty young woman who was impressed with him beyond belief, let alone interested in spending the rest of his life with her. He was probably just trying not to hurt her feelings. The problem was that he had never practiced that sort of thing, and who knew what invitations he'd accept by accident?
"I'm just thinking McKay looks like a man who could use a drink," he lied cheerfully. "Look at him. He's gonna faint."
Teyla looked. "I think he will survive," she said dryly. "He does not appear in danger of imminent collapse."
Rodney didn't, really, despite the red face. He had Sashi back at a safe distance and was looking out over her head, searching the shadows around the campfire. John shifted and the motion caught Rodney's attention; their gazes met and Rodney mouthed 'Help. Me.'
John tipped his head toward Teyla and shrugged, and Rodney's eyes narrowed. John could almost hear him sniff indignantly, and then he dipped Sashi, whose hands flew to his shoulders as she burst into a startled peal of laughter, and she was spinning, pulling Rodney a little farther out, deeper into the shadows.
Teyla sighed and stepped back. "Or perhaps you ought to go now."
"If you insist," John said, and slipped into the woods, circling around the bonfire again. He nearly tripped over people a couple times--lots of folks had taken off into the trees to have quiet conversations, it seemed, and more than a few had decided to take the chance to make out. John carefully didn't look at faces; there were things a commanding officer didn't need to know and a stranger didn't need to see.
He caught up with Sashi and Rodney again on the opposite side of the fire. The last song seemed to be winding down, and their movements had slowed. They were mostly just swaying together now, and Rodney was talking but not looking down at Sashi, who had tipped her head back and was watching him with a frown. John watched his mouth for a moment, trying to figure out what he was saying to her, then he grinned and headed for them, counting down in his head--five, four, three, two--
The music cut out at just the right moment, and everyone within the radius of the fire's light turned when the sound of a smack echoed loudly through the clearing. Rodney's head snapped back and he put a hand on his cheek, blinked down at Sashi like he was genuinely surprised. Sashi flounced off, her hair bouncing in every direction, and her friends were flocking forward, some of them glaring at Rodney, and some of them on a course headed straight for him.
John cut in, stepping out of the trees just as one of the women was about to pounce. "Sorry," he said, smiling at her as he slung a friendly arm over Rodney's shoulder. "Dr. McKay probably needs to sit a few out, don't you think?" He steered Rodney away without waiting for an answer.
"She hit me!" Rodney said, paying no attention to the Athosian women. "Did you see that? I've had a few drinks dumped over my head before, but I've never been smacked."
"Some women don't deal well with rejection," John said, leading Rodney in the direction of the food tent. If they didn't quite make it there, nobody would even notice.
Rodney was prodding at his jaw with his fingertips. "Sashi really likes me," he said. "She was asking me if I'd dance with her again and I told her I needed to cool off. So she asked me to join the men's dance for her. Apparently she's got a couple of the Athosian guys wanting to battle it out for her favors, but she thinks I could take them."
John guided Rodney off the path and into the cover of the trees. "Could you?"
"Are you kidding?" Rodney turned his head, looking horrified. "It's essentially a big mosh pit, Sheppard. Full of guys who don't use horses or machines and just push the plow themselves. I'd rather take on a Wraith with, I don't know, a letter opener!"
John grinned and then turned and pushed Rodney gently, backing him against a tree. He spared a moment to wish that Rodney hadn't gone with khakis and a white shirt that glowed in the moonlight like a beacon, then sort of solved the problem by pushing himself into Rodney's space, an arm braced by Rodney's head, a hand on his hip. Rodney slouched against the tree and tipped his head back, his eyes wide, his fingers still on his jaw.
"Would you have told her you couldn't do the third dance because you were waiting for me?" John asked, half-seriously, his hand tightening over the solid curve of Rodney's hip. He grinned, a little relieved when Rodney just rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Whatever. Maybe I should've let one of those other women get you that far."
"You wouldn't have dared," Rodney said, and the smugness in his voice, the gleam in his eye told John that Rodney knew that, just as well as John did.
"Probably not," he agreed, still grinning, and he dipped his head to finally kiss Rodney after what must've been a week of watching him dance with the Athosian women, wanting nothing more than to slide him out from under their hands and get him back where he belonged.
It was a little awkward because Rodney's hand was in the way, his knuckles bumping against John's jaw and scraping against his stubble. Rodney's mouth was open for him, though, and all John had to do was reach up and capture Rodney's wrist, bringing his hand down and pressing it gently against the rough bark of the tree. All the awkwardness was gone, melted away by easy familiarity and the smooth, dark desire John had been feeling ever since the second dance, when Teyla had stepped away from Rodney with an affectionate smile, and Sashi had first gotten in John's way.
It was a warm night, humid, and Rodney's shirt had long sleeves. John slipped his hands up under it and wasn't surprised to feel Rodney's back and sides lightly damp with sweat; dipped his head to Rodney's neck and found the skin there hot, a little salty.
"I could use a shower," Rodney panted, then groaned and let his head fall back when John nipped at him, curious. He smelled like wood smoke and what had to be Sashi's perfume.
"You're good," John said, and rubbed his jaw against Rodney's neck, his coarser stubble rasping against Rodney's. A quick kiss, dipping his tongue inside and drawing it back so that Rodney followed him, mapped the inside of John's mouth, and then he went back to Rodney's neck and was satisfied to find it smelling more like his aftershave.
Rodney groaned and started to scrabble at John's back, trying to get his shirt up. "This is ridiculous," he said. "I haven't made out in the woods since I was a teenager. Any moment now, Dee Anne's mom is going to come pounding through the trees with her flaming marshmallow on a stick, demanding to know what I've done to her daughter."
John pulled back and got his t-shirt off over his head, went to work on Rodney's buttons. "Dee Anne's mom doesn't seem to be a big deterrent," he said, pushing his hips lightly against Rodney's, pleased with Rodney's groan and the way it took him a minute to come back and say, "Are you kidding, I'd just debauched her daughter in the woods, I felt like a porn star," and the way he lost it again when John grinned fiercely and thumbed his nipple, bit his jaw.
"I'll show you debauched," John said, and slid to his knees in the leaves, one hand pushing Rodney's hips back against the tree and holding him up while the other went for his zipper. He worked it down fast and startled Rodney into a twitch and a yelp and a "Watch it--watch--oh," as he took Rodney in deep right away.
Rodney's head thunked back against the tree and he was quiet for a long moment, then took a deep, shuddering breath and made a dreamy little noise. He never talked much during sex, which had come as something of a surprise. In the beginning, John had worried a little. kept stopping, backing off, asking if Rodney liked it. Finally Rodney had snapped at him and said that he would much rather that John just stop and go away instead of interrupting Rodney's enjoyment with questions that didn't make sense.
Now his small, thoughtful noises were almost unbearably arousing, and John always felt heat at the base of his spine when Rodney made them in the field, or while he was playing with Ancient tech, or eating his pudding. It was ridiculous. John loved it.
He worked Rodney hard. Normally if he wanted Rodney to come fast, he played with his balls, slid a finger inside him just right. But if Rodney's khakis hit the ground they were going to pick up mud, grass stains, and no one would even have to wonder why. It wasn't entirely an unappealing thought, but as open as the culture of Atlantis tended to be, he had to at least fake respect for the regs a while longer. So he tried other things; a sharper angle that made Rodney's breath stutter in his chest, pressing his thumbs over Rodney's hip bones, running his nails lightly over Rodney's stomach.
Rodney's hands were restless; patting his head, cupped over his ears, fingertips running lightly over his face, and then Rodney was pulling at him. John looked up and Rodney said, "Come here, come up, I want--" and John trailed his mouth off Rodney's dick, wrapped his hand around it instead, and slid up Rodney's body.
"With me," Rodney said and John nodded, let Rodney undo his pants and pull him out of his boxers and he pushed against Rodney's body, trapping their hands between them. It went fast and hot and messy between one breath and the next, with Rodney gasping against the side of his neck, and John choking down groans that would surely have brought someone running if he'd have let them out.
He was more worked up than he'd realized and it didn't take long, maybe just a few minutes before he was pushing up into Rodney's hand and grunting, coming hot against their stomachs as his own hand faltered in its rhythm on Rodney's dick. When he was done, he dropped his forehead on Rodney's shoulder, the white shirt hot and too dry against his cheek; he wanted Rodney's skin, but Rodney was so close there wasn't time. He stuttered his hips and then he was spilling over John's hand and making a broken sound in his throat like it hurt to come that hard.
And then Rodney was slumping against him and they were holding each other up against the tree, sweating and wrung out in the sweet summer air, and it was about as perfect a moment as John could've imagined having in the Pegasus galaxy; in his life.
It lasted until Rodney caught his breath and said, "I'm going to have bark prints on my ass for a week, you know."
John grinned against his shoulder and pushed back, digging in his pocket for tissues. "I'll rub them out for you later," he promised, cleaning Rodney's stomach, their hands.
"I'll hold you to that," Rodney said, threatening, and then he stretched a little, languid the way he only got after orgasms and really big meals followed by really long naps. "Or I could sleep until they're gone."
"I like my plan better," John said, and started doing their clothes back up, amused by Rodney's calm, matter-of-fact acceptance that he didn't have to do anything; this was John's idea so it was John's cleanup, although things that weren't John's idea were often his cleanup too. He brushed dirt off his t-shirt and the knees of his pants, glad it was all black, then leaned in and put his hand on Rodney's jaw, giving him a sweet kiss, nearly chaste.
"Next year, you should save a dance for me," he said.
Rodney snorted. "I'll save you as many as you want, Colonel," he said, clearly disbelieving, and John grinned and kissed him again, and again, until the firelight flickering through the trees had died down and it was time to go home, together.
"Hey," John said, from three Athosians back. "Pick me."
Rodney raised an eyebrow at him. "I already picked you," he pointed out. "Twice."
"I noticed that," John said. "Pick me again."
Rodney looked around at the crowd; scientists and military from Atlantis, some of them, John knew, were watching with great interest, while hopeful Athosian women watched with big, wide eyes and Teyla and Ronon watched with barely concealed amusement. Rodney looked back at John and tilted his head. "Huh," he said. "Really?"
John didn't even try to hide his smirk. "I seem to remember that you made me a promise last year, Rodney."
"Well, yes, but I didn't think--" Rodney waved his hands at the people crowded around. He looked a little nervous and John took a step forward, held out his hand as people moved out of his way. Rodney glanced down at his hand then frowned at him. "Are you sure?"
"McKay," John said, exasperated, and crooked his fingers. "Hurry it up."
Rodney frowned at him for a moment more, considering, then took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and nodded. "Never let it be said that I am not a man of my word," he announced grandly and reached for John's hand while John laughed, a little more relieved than he'd have ever admitted, and pulled Rodney in for their third dance.