Coming Home: 13. Shadows


Rodney stood in the doorway, gazing after John until he was long gone. Only the rumbling of his stomach finally roused him, and he glared at the little green device on his chest, hating it.


“I’m starving,” he told it reproachfully. “And I’ve just pissed off the best thing that ever happened to me and both of those things are your fault.”


He went and sat down on the bed, needing to think this through – which would have been easier if he wasn’t so damn hungry.


He honestly hadn’t meant to let John think he was responsible for the shield – he was the best top Rodney had ever known but then that was part of the problem. Rodney had never expected to fall in love, and it didn’t fit into the plans he’d always had for himself and his life. He simply had no frame of reference for it – he didn’t even know what he was feeling, just that he was extremely confused. And now, to make things worse, he either had to decide he was in the relationship or end it – because the only alternative was starving to death and he wasn’t particularly keen on that as an option.


Rodney glanced around the room – it was so neat and tidy – so *John*, with the Johnny Cash poster hanging on the wall, and the copy of ‘War and Peace’ on the nightstand, next to the photo of John’s parents. Rodney wondered what, apart from fantastic sex, he and John had in common. He had no interest in Tolstoy and had never listened to a Johnny Cash song in his life. Besides, he was a scientist and John was in the military – although even Rodney had to concede that John was surprisingly smart for a knucklehead.


“I do want him,” he told the shield, gazing at it pathetically. It didn’t even fade the tiniest bit. Rodney sighed. “How can I convince you?” he asked it.


He remembered what John had said about that warm, sweet energy that flowed between them when they were having sex, and he knew exactly what John meant about it being interrupted now they were no longer able to touch. His fingers longed to feel John’s skin again – but somehow that wasn’t enough to overcome his inner fears.


Rodney decided to do what he did best in any circumstances relating to his emotional life – he went back to work, and tried to ignore it. It was impossible to ignore his physical condition though – he was hungry and thirsty, and he was dreading his hypoglycaemia kicking in.


He gave up after an hour or so – his brain was too fuzzy to work, and he kept making mistakes. He had to *do* something. He wandered along the hallway to the rest room where his lab staff often went to take coffee breaks; he could at least smell the coffee even if he couldn’t taste it.


He found Miko sitting there, sipping a cup of green tea while flipping through some schematics on her laptop. One of her subs, a sweet, pretty botanist who he thought was called Katie Brown, was kneeling at Miko’s feet, reading a magazine.


Miko gazed up at him with adoring brown eyes as he entered. She seemed to have some kind of a crush on his brain, Rodney had decided – she always looked at him dotingly whenever he was being particularly brilliant, and he enjoyed it far too much to discourage it. He had occasionally wondered how someone so seemingly meek and mild could be such a demon top that she had attracted three subs, but it was well known around the base that she had two botanists and one marine in her little harem. She’d earned herself the nickname ‘Dragon Lady’ as a result, and she did have a very fine pair of shiny PVC boots Rodney thought to himself, admiring them in passing as he went to stand and inhale the coffee.


Rodney glanced at Katie while he stood there. She seemed very content in her submission, and occasionally Miko would reach out a hand and stroke her sub’s shiny auburn hair, and Katie would lower her head and bestow a little lick on her top’s shiny boots. It was really quite sweet. Rodney’s gaze turned to the magazine that Katie was reading – it looked like one of those trashy rags that he generally despised, obsessed with sex and how to get the top or sub of your dreams into bed and keep them there. Rodney had little interest in that kind of nonsense, but right now he was a desperate man, faced with a whole new world of complex emotional relationships – and as this magazine seemed utterly obsessed with just that topic he found himself craning his head to take a look over her shoulder.


“Top Ten Tips to Tease Your Top!” screamed the header. Rodney winced.


“I think there’s such a thing as too much alliteration,” he muttered. Katie glanced up at him, startled. “Although…” Rodney turned his head on one side. “Is that even anatomically possible?” he asked.


“Dr McKay would like to read, yes?” Miko inclined her head at the magazine. “Katie, please allow the great doctor to have your magazine,” she ordered. Katie handed it over, smiling, looking as if nothing pleased her more than obeying her top’s every command, even if that did mean surrendering her magazine.


“No, that’s okay, I was just looking,” Rodney said quickly, but it was too late. Miko was going into one of her elaborate bowing rituals, and it would have offended her if he’d refused. Katie genuinely didn’t seem to mind – and he could always return the magazine to her later. So Rodney took the magazine with a sigh, tried to make the appropriate bowing gestures in return, and then turned and fled. He took the magazine back to his quarters – if nothing else it might be a good source of distraction, and he didn’t want anyone to catch him reading it.


“Subs in a spin – how to tell if your sub needs taking down,” he read. “Oh for god’s sake! Who writes this drivel?” He kept on reading anyway, seeking enlightenment. “Oh god, these people give subs a bad name,” he sighed, after reading one article too many. “And the tops aren’t much better.”


He found an article entitled, “Learning to love a stern top.” It told the story of someone called Simon who loved his top, Denise, outside of the bedroom but found her too strict during sex. It all ended happily with Simon learning to embrace his submission, and Denise rewarding him with seemingly endless amounts of hot sex. Rodney turned the page, irritated beyond belief.


The advice column wasn’t much better. “Oh for god’s sake! These aren’t real problems!” Rodney berated the magazine. “How about something useful, like: Dear Cosmo, I’m a genius, I live in another galaxy, and I currently have about four days to live unless I can figure out my fucked up feelings. Please advise.” Rodney made a face. “Yeah, somehow I don’t think you’ve ever come across that one before.”


He threw the magazine onto the floor – it was making his stomach churn and he didn’t want to add to his stomach’s problems. The lights flickered. and Rodney glanced up, frowning, wondering if there was a problem with the power supply, but he didn’t have a chance to investigate further because at that moment the door chimed. Rodney opened it – and his stomach lurched when he found John standing there.


“Can I come in?” John asked, in a strained voice. Rodney nodded, and stood to one side. “I’m sorry about earlier. I was…” John’s gaze fell on the magazine. “Cosmo? You’re reading Cosmo?” he asked, with an ironically raised eyebrow.


“Ha ha, yes, very funny,” Rodney said sourly, booting the offending magazine under the bed so it was out of sight. “A copy of it came into my hands, and I thought it might have some advice.”


“Really?” John made a face, and Rodney sighed.


“Yes, that’s how desperate I am,” he replied forlornly.


“And did it?” John looked like he was trying hard not to laugh.


“Nope. It’s mainly obsessed with things you can do in bed, and seeing as the sex between us is pretty damn fantastic already it’s not much help. Although if I ever do get this thing off my chest then there’s something really hot I can do to you involving whipped cream. Apparently.”


“I can’t wait.” John grinned, and then his expression changed. “So, no luck with the shield then?”


“No.” Rodney shrugged.


“Right.” John stood there for a moment. “Look, Rodney, what I said earlier – I was angry. This problem isn’t just yours – it’s mine too, and if there’s anyway I can help then I will.”


“I know that,” Rodney said softly. “But thanks.”


“Usually after a big argument there’s great make-up sex but…” John nodded at the personal shield, and made a helpless gesture with his arms.


“Yeah.” Rodney gave a wan smile.


He sat down wearily at the table, feeling weak. Damnit he wanted to have something to eat, and he wanted to have sex, and he would quite happily do both at the same time if only he could. John sat down beside him.


“I’ve never read Tolstoy,” Rodney told him. John gazed at him quizzically, and then realisation set in.


“Oh. Neither have I,” he said. “I just brought that book along for something to read. I haven’t got beyond page seventeen yet. You know, I was thinking – this whole thing is about honesty, Rodney. You don’t want to move in with me – that’s fine. I was just thinking it’d be more convenient but it freaked you out. I don’t mind if you’re not there yet. I just need you to be honest with me about whatever you’re thinking and feeling.”


“Sounds like a plan.” Rodney nodded, and then gazed at his shield expectantly. “Still not working though,” he said, when the shield continued to glow greenly in response.


John glanced around the room. “Man, you *are* messy,” he said, with a wry grin. “So, that’s another reason for not rushing into this. In fact, I’d kind of appreciate it if you took your time.”


Rodney gave a snort.


“You know – this whole thing with the shield might be for the best,” John told him. Rodney raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “What I mean is – we’ve been having a lot of great sex but maybe at the expense of talking.”


“Oh god. You’ve been reading that magazine haven’t you?” Rodney sighed, rolling his eyes in the general direction of the bed. “It’s obsessed with communication. Did you know that Simon learned to love his submission once he had a conversation with Denise about helping him find his subspace? Up until then he’d faked it, and she’d been waving her whip around too hard too soon so sex was becoming an ordeal for him. But once they sat down and talked about it they lived happily ever after.”


“There see – so it’s not impossible,” John grinned. “Living happily ever after I mean,” he murmured softly. Rodney sighed, and rested his hand on the table, thrumming lightly with his fingers.


“I don’t know,” he said.


“I do.” John put his hand on the table beside Rodney’s, as close as it could go. The forcefield glowed green. Rodney gazed at that hand, longing for real, physical contact, wanting John so much that it hurt but it made no difference –the shield remained resolutely switched on.


At that moment Rodney’s radio buzzed, and he reached up a hand to activate it.


“Rodney – we’ve got some strange power fluctuations in the city,” Peter told him.


“Where are they coming from?” Rodney got up, glancing at John who fell into step beside him as they made for the door.


“They started on the lower level about half an hour ago, and since then….”


“Half an hour ago – I noticed the lights flickering in my quarters. What else happened half an hour ago?” Rodney demanded, reaching the end of the hallway, and taking the stairs two at a time.


“What do you mean?” Peter asked. Rodney reached the control room, and vaulted over a crouching technician to reach Peter’s work station…then held onto the console, wishing he hadn’t done that as his head swam. John reached out a hand to steady him, but couldn’t do anything other than hover nearby, arm outstretched, unable to touch Rodney.


“I mean…” Rodney said, when he regained his balance, “that if the power started fluctuating half an hour ago then it’s very likely that something *happened* half an hour ago to cause it. Radek?” He tapped his radio and Radek’s voice sounded in his ear.


“I know, I know! There are power fluctuations – but it is not anything we are working on down here!” Radek told him.


“Nobody’s working on something that could have caused this?” Rodney asked, frowning.


“No,” Radek assured him. Rodney turned to John.


“What about your people? What have they been doing today?” he asked.


“Well, I sent Hicks out with his team to explore the east section of the city. We haven’t been in all the rooms over there yet, and I wanted to check them out.”


“Did they come back okay?” Rodney asked.


“Fine. They reported in just before I came to see you.”


“But they’re marines so I expect they blundered around the place, opening doors and boxes and…oh shit. Get Hicks up here and ask him if he opened any boxes,” Rodney snapped.


“They’re under strict instructions not to open anything without a scientist being present,” John said. “It was just a recon mission.”


“Yeah, well, no offence, Colonel, but they’re not exactly the smartest circuits in the system so who knows if they even understood the order,” Rodney growled.


John gave Rodney the faintest hint of a glare but tapped on his radio all the same, while Rodney sat at the workstation, his hands moving at the speed of light over the console.


“Power outages are occurring all over the city but they seem to be linked to massive energy dips in the lower eastern part of the city,” Rodney said, a few minutes later.


He glanced up, to see Hicks coming to stand smartly to attention in front of John. There was a little flush on Hicks’s pale skin, and he gazed at his commanding officer with a look of abject adoration that made Rodney’s blood boil.


“What the hell did you do down there?” he demanded of the young man, more annoyed about the way Hicks was looking at John than the fact that he suspected the idiot had screwed up his beloved city.


“Uh…we just followed orders. We looked in the rooms to see if the Ancients left anything around but mainly we’re still just mapping,” Hicks stammered, glancing at Rodney fearfully. Rodney glowed a little – he liked it when the marines were scared of him, and he especially liked that Hicks was scared of him – if he looked at John like that again then he’d have *reason* to be scared of him.


“Did you open anything – or even just move anything?” Rodney asked. Hicks hesitated. “Come on, quickly – we’ve got a crisis here which is almost certainly of your making.” Rodney snapped his fingers, unsettling the marine, whose face went a deeper shade of crimson red.


“Uh, I’ll take it from here, Rodney,” John said, shooting him a look. “It’s okay, Hicks. We don’t know if you caused this problem or not – we just need to get to the bottom of it,” he said soothingly. Rodney rolled his eyes.


“We did move some boxes yes, sir. I don’t think we opened anything – if we did then it was by accident but I recall that we did knock over some storage containers by mistake so it’s possible….”


“Aha. As I thought,” Rodney announced grimly. Hicks looked as if he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him.


“Alright,” John tapped on his radio. “Teyla and Ford meet me down on the lower east side. Hicks – you’re with me.”


“What – you’re going down there?” Rodney said, feeling panicked. “And with *him*?”


John raised an eyebrow, and Rodney flushed and shrugged. “Okay. Fine. But, you know. Watch your back. You don’t know what might be down there.” He gave Hicks a vicious glare as he said that, and the sergeant stumbled backwards slightly from the force of it. Rodney gave a triumphant little smile and turned back to his work.


“And take a camera with you,” he shouted after them. “Send me back live footage. I’ll see if I can get the power grid working again from here.”


Rodney turned his attention back to the console, working hard to see if he could track down the source of the fluctuations. Something, somewhere, seemed to be literally sucking the power dry, and two of the naquada generators on the lower east side were already completely drained of energy.


A few minutes later he started receiving the pictures John and Hicks were sending back. It was creepy watching the camera pan cautiously down the dark, lower hallways. Rodney worked on the power grid manically, one eye on the footage that was being sent back.


John had sent Teyla and Ford up to the higher levels, while he and Hicks continued to explore the lower levels, and for awhile there was nothing, just the sounds of the two men walking…and then, suddenly, the screen became a blur of motion.


“Hicks…move! Shit…move, move…what *is* that?” John’s voice.


Rodney looked up sharply, his heart suddenly in his mouth. He saw a massive, moving black shadow filling the screen, and then he heard the sound of someone screaming. Both the camera and radio went dead at the same time.


“Colonel Sheppard? John?!” Rodney called, but there was no reply – only static from the radio. Rodney was barely aware he was moving yet suddenly found himself running full pelt across the control room in the direction of the nearest transporter. “Get Carson down there. Now!” he yelled at Peter as he ran.


Rodney didn’t even think about the weird black shadow creature he’d seen just before the footage went dead. He wasn’t thinking about anything except John as he ran out of the transporter on the lower east level, and down the hallways towards their last known destination. He rounded a corner, and came to a skidding halt as he saw two bodies lying on the ground at one end of the hallway. He walked slowly towards them, his heart pounding in his chest, less afraid that the black shadow creature might still be lurking nearby than that John might be dead.


“John,” he whispered as he got close. One of the men moved, moaning softly, and Rodney hurried along the last section of the hallway to see who it was. The moaning man turned out to be Hicks – his pale skin was now a dark red, as if he’d suffered some kind of extreme sunburn, but he didn’t look injured apart from that. Rodney barely spared him a glance as he went on towards the other, silent figure.


“John?” Rodney knelt down beside his top. John was out cold, his face un-naturally pale, and Rodney couldn’t even tell if he was breathing. One outstretched hand was as burned as Hicks was. Rodney tapped on his radio, urgently. “Carson – where the hell are you?” he demanded.


“On our way – we’ll be there in a few minutes. What’s the damage?” Carson asked.


“It’s Sheppard – he’s down and I can’t tell if he’s breathing,” Rodney said desperately.


“Take his pulse – if he’s not breathing administer CPR,” Carson told him, and then the radio went dead.


Carson had clearly forgotten about his current predicament. Rodney glanced at the shield on his chest, and then at John, lying there, possibly dead, and needing medical assistance fast. Rodney didn’t even hesitate. He reached out a hand towards John’s neck, and the shield winked out immediately and fell off his chest to land harmlessly on the floor. Rodney found a pulse – strong and steady – and he breathed a sigh of relief.


“You’re not dead so wake up, damn you,” he said, cradling John’s head in his hands. John’s eyelids fluttered open, and he gazed around, blankly, and then his hazel eyes fixed on Rodney, and he gave a wry grin.


“Hey,” he muttered. “What happened?”


“You had a fight with a weird, energy-sucking, black shadow thing,” Rodney told him. “You lost.”


“Yeah. Feels that way. Hicks?” John sat up, with a wince.


“He’s down too but he’s moving so I guess he’ll be okay. Your hide must be thicker than his because he’s looking like he just spent ten hours in the desert without sunscreen, while you actually look kind of pale,” Rodney frowned.


“I went down and knocked my head – that thing, whatever it was, just winged me but it completely enveloped Hicks,” John said, trying to move towards the sergeant. He went even paler, and stopped, then retched onto the floor.


“You said you knocked your head?” Rodney grabbed John’s head and dug his fingers in, searching for a wound.


“Ow – shit, Rodney, that hurts. And…is there something you wanted to tell me?”


John glanced at Rodney’s chest, now without the personal shield, and then up at Rodney, a broad grin on his face. Rodney rolled his eyes.


“Carson said you might need CPR,” he admitted feebly. “Hard to do that if you can’t touch someone.”


“Aw. You were worried about me. You love me,” John told him, still grinning inanely. “Admit it.”


“I was simply concerned that my only source of hot sex was about to expire,” Rodney replied with a snort. John just continued grinning at him. “Oh shut up,” Rodney said, grabbing the fallen shield and stuffing it into his pocket.


At that moment Carson appeared with what appeared to be half the base’s medical staff, and Rodney was pushed out of the way. He took a step back, still hovering anxiously, and ran straight into a somewhat belated Ford and Teyla.


“Where the hell were you two?” Rodney snapped at them.


“The creature trapped us in the upper levels,” Teyla told him, glancing anxiously over his shoulder at John. “Is the colonel going to be alright?”


“Well he’s breathing and talking but beyond that I have no idea,” Rodney replied, still glaring at them. He turned back and forced his way into the melee around his top. Carson was busy loading the two injured men onto gurneys, and Rodney didn’t even get close enough to touch John.


“I’m fine,” John told him, over Carson’s shoulder. “And we do still have a crisis situation, Rodney. Go do your job.”


Rodney glared at him for a moment, but John didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger so he reluctantly returned to the control room, to try and figure out a way to trap the energy-hungry black shadow that was currently stalking the Atlantean hallways.




John submitted to Carson’s attention for just long enough to satisfy the doctor that no permanent damage had been done, and to find out that Hicks was going to be okay, and then he ran out of the infirmary. He didn’t like hanging around when there was the possibility that his city – and his sub – were both in danger.


“Where are we at?” he asked, arriving in the control room to find Elizabeth, Rodney and Peter standing there, having an urgent discussion.


“This thing, whatever it is, was kept in a containment box,” Rodney told him, speaking even faster than usual. “The Ancients clearly knew it was dangerous so they kept it nicely locked up for ten thousand years and that’s where it would have stayed if your men hadn’t released it. Right now it’s having a feeding frenzy on our systems.”


“So shut them down,” John said.


“Humans emit energy too,” Elizabeth said softly. “If we shut down the systems it’ll come after us.”


“And, as it’s getting stronger from all the power its consumed, I can assure you that the next person who tangles with it won’t just end up with a bad case of sunburn or a mild concussion,” Rodney said, in an exasperated tone.


“So we thought we’d try and lure it here, and send it through the stargate,” Peter added.


“Which is a bad idea on many levels,” Rodney said, rolling his eyes.


“Do you have a better idea?” John asked.


“No. Which is why we’re going with the bad one.” Rodney nodded his head at the M.A.L.P standing in front of the stargate. “We’ve loaded that up with a naquada generator to attract it here. We’re going to shut down the other systems and try and get it to chase after that onto a barren world.”


“Okay. Let’s get to it people,” Elizabeth said. “Rodney – dial up the stargate.”


John pressed a button on the M.A.L.P to set it moving and then he chased up the stairs after the others, and watched as the black shadow entity filled the room below.


The hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end as he sensed the sizzle of power that the thing below was emitting. There was something so all-encompassing about that inky blackness, and it was now three times the size it had been when he’d met it in the hallway earlier. Now it had gorged itself on even more naquada energy, and was pulsating as it undulated across the room towards the M.A.L.P. and completely enveloped it. The M.A.L.P, which had been trundling towards the gate, suddenly stopped moving.


“Oh no,” Rodney said. “Oh shit. That thing could be feeding off the generator, or off the Stargate. I mean, this is a disaster.”


John watched, helpless, as the black shadow creature swelled. If it *was* feeding off the stargate then it would bleed the city dry, and then they’d be well and truly screwed.


He was so lost in this train of thought that he didn’t notice Rodney taking the shield out of his pocket, sticking it on his chest, and activating it. The darkness had spread so far by this point that the first he realised what was happening was when he caught a glimpse of his sub walking down the stairs, a stubborn set to his shoulders.


“Rodney!” John yelled, running out of the control room, and towards the encroaching darkness, but he was too late, and could only watch as Rodney walked into the darkness, the green forcefield flickering around him. John wasn’t a scientist but he doubted Rodney would have long before that creature sucked all the energy out of the shield.


He ran down the stairs, and was dimly able to make out Rodney grabbing the naquada generator from the M.A.L.P and throwing it through the open stargate. The black shadow followed the generator through and someone, presumably Peter, closed the gate immediately behind it.


As the darkness lifted, the first thing John saw was Rodney, lying on the floor, pale and lifeless, and John felt his stomach clench. He gasped for air, and then struggled to run the remaining few steps to his sub’s side.


“Rodney.” John crouched down beside his sub and rested a gentle hand against Rodney’s throat. “Damnit, Rodney, wake up so I can tan your hide for doing something so stupid,” he hissed in an undertone.


Rodney didn’t move, and John looked around, seeking help. Elizabeth and Peter reached them, and Elizabeth crouched down beside Rodney and touched the shield on Rodney’s chest. John bit back a low growl.


“The power must have been drained by the entity,” Peter said grimly.


John couldn’t take his eyes off Rodney, still lying there, his face pale. He reached up and slammed his hand onto his radio. “Carson, get a medical team to the gateroom. NOW!” he yelled.


“It’s okay. He’s not burned. He’s breathing,” Elizabeth said softly. “Rodney?”


Rodney opened his eyes, and John knelt back on his heels, struggling with the strength of the emotions coursing through his body.


“What happened?” Rodney muttered.


“You did it,” Elizabeth told him, smiling down at him. “It went through the gate.”


“You passed out,” Peter told him. “Being brave and heroic exhausted you.”


“Ha ha,” Rodney muttered, getting to his feet. Peter reached out a hand to steady Rodney’s elbow, and John growled again. “I’m fine,” Rodney said, shaking off Peter’s hand. “Just a bit dizzy.”


John just stood there, trying to get himself under control. His feelings were spiralling away from him, and he felt crowded out.


“I’ll take him to the infirmary,” he said, in a low tone, just barely holding onto his emotions. Elizabeth shot him a surprised look.


“Carson’s on his way,” she reminded him.


“So call him and tell him to go back. I’ll bring Rodney to him,” John said, just wanting to get his sub out from here, to get him alone and away from all these enquiring faces and people who seemed to think it was okay to maul him.


John struggled to get a grip on himself but he realised he was fighting a losing battle while all these people were around. He needed to have Rodney to himself, to satisfy himself that his sub was okay.


He took hold of Rodney’s arm, and helped him down the stairs and away from the gate room. He didn’t trust himself to speak to his sub – all he could think about was how Rodney had looked, pale and lifeless, lying on the floor, and how, for a couple of minutes, he’d thought he was dead. John tightened his grasp on Rodney’s arm, and Rodney gazed up at him, a puzzled look in his blue eyes.


“That hurts,” he said. John loosened his grip a fraction. “I’m okay,” Rodney said. John just shook his head, still unable to speak. “John…I’m fine. I just passed out. I don’t even need to see Carson,” Rodney told him.


“You’ll see Carson,” John growled.


“What the hell is wrong with you?” Rodney demanded.


John closed his eyes momentarily, and saw Rodney running away from him into an inky black darkness, and he couldn’t find a reply.


They reached the infirmary to find Carson waiting for them, an anxious look on his face.


“Are you okay, Rodney?” he asked.


“I’m fine. I was incredibly brave and noble though,” Rodney told him.


“Elizabeth told me you walked straight into that creature,” Carson said. “That IS pretty brave and noble, Rodney.”


John stood there, his hand still gripping Rodney’s arm tightly, unwilling to ever let his sub go again.


“Uh, Colonel Sheppard – if I’m going to examine Rodney you’ll need to let go of his arm,” Carson said.


The words somehow penetrated the fog that was enveloping John’s brain, and he took a deep breath, and forced himself to release his grip on Rodney’s arm.


“I could have died!” Rodney said proudly to Carson. “I mean, yes, I had the personal shield, but I knew I didn’t have long before that thing sucked all the power out of it.”


“You’re truly a hero, laddie,” Carson said, rolling his eyes slightly in John’s direction.


“I had no idea whether the shield would protect me at all!” Rodney babbled. Carson grinned at him.


“Come and sit on the bed, Rodney, and let me see if there’s been any damage,” he said, and as he spoke, he reached out a hand and cupped Rodney’s elbow, guiding him over to the bed.


It was all too much for John. He’d had to endure the distress of not being able to touch Rodney while he’d been wearing that damn shield, and then he’d been forced to watch his sub almost die, and people had been standing over Rodney, casually putting their hands on him as if they owned him, and now…now Carson was touching him without even looking in John’s general direction to make sure that was okay. John’s emotions spilled over to the point where he couldn’t control them any more.


“Get your damn hands off him!” he snarled, grabbing hold of Carson and throwing him back against the wall.


“Easy, laddie,” Carson gasped, John’s hand tight around his throat. “It’s okay. I’m just going to examine him.”


“John? What the hell are you doing?” Rodney’s eyes swam into his field of vision, blue and shocked, and it was like someone had poured cold water over him.


John released Carson, and then turned and ran out of the infirmary. He made it to the south-west pier and then stopped, leaned over the balcony, and threw up into the water below. He spilled his guts and then sprawled back against the wall, breathing heavily. He had to get himself under control. This was ridiculous.


Carson didn’t know he was Rodney’s top – there was no reason why he’d think to ask John’s permission to touch him. And this wasn’t about Carson anyway. This was about Rodney, about nearly losing Rodney, about the rollercoaster that had been the past day.


John reached into his vest and took out a canteen of water. He swilled some around his mouth and spat it out, and then took another deep, satisfying gulp and swallowed it down.


Rodney barrelled onto the balcony a few seconds later, blue eyes blazing.


“I thought I’d find you here. What the hell was that about?” he demanded. “What were you thinking? Carson is our friend, and a damn good one. Why the hell did you….” He trailed off and his eyes softened as he got a good look at John. “Shit you look bad,” he murmured, coming to stand in front of his top.


“I’m sorry.” John doubled over and held onto his stomach, which was still roiling with emotion.


“Hey, it’s okay. John? What’s all this about?” John felt Rodney’s warm arms encircle his body and the lurching in his stomach eased off a fraction. “Is this because I was dumb enough to walk into that thing?” Rodney asked, bestowing a little kiss on the side of John’s neck.


John wrapped his arms around Rodney’s body, feeling the pressure inside ease off even more as he was anchored by that firm, solid flesh.


“Nope. Yeah. Maybe a bit,” he muttered. “I thought you were dead,” he whispered into Rodney’s neck.


“Well join the club. When I found you in that hallway earlier I thought *you* were dead,” Rodney snorted.


“You should have told me what you were planning to do,” John told him.


“I didn’t know what I was planning to do!” Rodney protested. “Planning is over-stating it anyway. There wasn’t much planning. It was more of a spur of the moment kind of thing.”


“When you disappeared into all that darkness…I couldn’t see you. I haven’t been able to touch you because of that damn shield and then….”


“Okay. It’s okay.” Rodney’s hands soothed his back, and the cramps in his stomach started to subside. “It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have asked you to keep our relationship secret. If Carson had known then he would have asked your permission to touch me,” Rodney murmured.


John inhaled, deeply, needing to draw in Rodney’s scent. “I’ve never been this kind of top before,” he muttered. “I didn’t know something like that could ever bother me. It never has before.”


“I don’t mind it.” Rodney gave a little chuckle that vibrated against John’s ribcage from where he was holding his sub so tightly. “You see, I’ve been moping around, thinking how damn perfect you are, and then you go and do this. It’s the kind of little imperfection that makes you endearing. Makes you seem less damn smug.”


“Smug?” John pulled back, and glanced at his sub. Rodney grinned at him.


“Kinda,” he said, but John wasn’t quite ready to smile yet. He pulled Rodney close instead, and pressed his lips to his sub’s mouth, hard and demanding. Rodney opened up easily, returning his kiss with passion, and John felt some equilibrium returning to his world. He needed this – they *both* needed this. They parted only for air, and John kept a tight hold on his sub.


“I need you,” he said urgently. “I need to be inside you.”


“Not here.” Rodney took hold of his hand and led him back into the city, taking him towards his own quarters, which were closest.


John felt lost, and he was glad of Rodney’s hand in his own, pulling him along. If it had been down to him he’d have taken Rodney out there, on the balcony, because that restless hum of blood in his veins hadn’t stopped. The build up of the past few hours was reaching a crescendo, and John was totally blinded right now, walking completely in the dark with only Rodney to guide him. He needed Rodney, in a way he’d never needed anyone before.


He clung onto Rodney as they walked, fast, and then when they finally reached the privacy of Rodney’s quarters, John threw himself on his sub. He tore Rodney’s shirt from his body with a growl of ownership, and then buried his face in Rodney’s neck. His hands slid down Rodney’s bare back, needing to feel skin beneath his fingertips, and he sucked on Rodney’s neck urgently, needing to drink in Rodney’s taste.


Rodney, by contrast, was calmer than John had ever known him. He gentled John, talking to him in a low, soft voice, and John keened against Rodney, bucking his hips against Rodney’s groin, shuddering to himself as he tried to get the events of the past few hours out of his mind. It was as if there was an endless replay going on inside his brain – Rodney surrounded by that forcefield, untouchable and miserable, driving John insane by being so close and yet so out of reach; Rodney walking into the darkness, disappearing from his sight; Rodney lying on the floor, pale and lifeless, and those terrible couple of minutes when he’d thought his sub was dead.


John felt like he was surrendering to a necessary catharsis that he was powerless to resist. He was drinking in Rodney’s scent, his fingers scrabbling over Rodney’s skin, seeking the flesh-to-flesh contact. His cock was hard, weeping with the need to be inside Rodney, to be lodged tight in his sub’s warm, welcoming body, where he belonged.


Rodney was in charge now – John didn’t even know his own name at this point. He was aware of Rodney stripping him, taking care never to be out of physical contact with him, skin always on skin, talking to him throughout, grounding him with the sound of his voice.


Then Rodney was leading him over to the bed, and John went, the need to be inside Rodney so strong it was all he could think about.


Rodney got onto the bed and pulled John down on top of him, and John came to rest on Rodney’s chest. He could feel Rodney’s hard cock pulsing against his own, and he wrapped his arms around Rodney’s body and kissed his sub hard again, losing himself in the sensation of closeness.


Rodney’s mouth was so warm and inviting, his kisses both intoxicating and calming at the same time, but John knew that nothing would bring him out of this dark mood except putting his cock into Rodney’s anus and riding him hard until he came deep inside him. That was the only thing that could connect them again, and bring him any kind of peace.


He opened Rodney’s legs and struggled to get his cock positioned but Rodney was talking to him, reminding him of something…he wasn’t sure what. All he could think about was pushing himself into Rodney’s body. He felt something cold and wet land on his cock, saw Rodney pushing lube frantically into his own body, trying to prepare himself, and he grabbed the lube and slathered some onto his fingers.


“Let me…let me…” he panted, pushing Rodney’s hand aside, jealous of anyone touching Rodney, even Rodney himself. He slid his own fingers into Rodney’s body and it felt good, so damn good. John worked on automatic, stretching Rodney while kissing him, always kissing him, pausing only for breath and then diving back for more.


He felt a hum start at the back of his mind, pushing the darkness away, and the faintest, tentative sensation of that warm sweetness that always flowed between them when their lovemaking was at its most intense. It was more than he could bear, and he removed his fingers and pushed his hard cock towards Rodney’s hole.


“It’s okay…it’s fine…” Rodney was whispering, his hands stroking John’s trembling body. “I can handle it…get in me, it’s okay, I’m ready…” and John thought that was a good thing because he honestly couldn’t hold on any longer.


He parted Rodney’s buttocks with his hands and lodged himself forcefully in Rodney’s hole. Rodney breathed faster, but he didn’t say a word, just smiled up at John and guided John’s cock into him, and John pushed, hard, and then found himself sliding in, up to the root, so that his entire cock was buried deep inside Rodney’s body.


John felt the pressure at the back of his mind ease off now that he was in Rodney. He paused, and abandoned himself to the sensation of smelling Rodney’s arousal, as familiar to him as his own, and to the sheer heady joy of feeling Rodney’s internal muscles clenching tight around his cock, embracing and welcoming him in.


Rodney was still talking to him, in those low, gentle tones, and he was dimly aware that he would never have expected Rodney to have such a calming quality to his voice, but he was beyond much by way of coherent thought so the surprise slipped easily out of his mind.


All he could think about was being in Rodney, and he was acting entirely on instinct as he slid his hips back, and then pushed them forwards again. Rodney’s breathing hitched in response to the forceful thrust, and John adjusted his position and did it again – and again. Rodney’s breath hitched each time in a way that was arousing, exciting him even more.


John felt as if he was falling through space and time, falling into the dark, and Rodney was there beneath him, holding him as he fell, keeping him safe. John didn’t need to be in control because Rodney was. Rodney could stop him with a word but he didn’t. He just lay there, legs wide open, ankles wrapped around John’s back, and took John inside him, as deep as it was possible to go, and John let go of any last vestige of control and surrendered himself completely to the darkness.


The darkness was all around him now, and all he could hear was the sound of his own thrusting, and Rodney’s panting little cries, and then suddenly *it* was back, warmer and sweeter than ever, flowing between them, finally unblocked. It was if that moment stretched on for infinity, John buried deep inside his sub, Rodney laying himself open, offering himself up to his top, and the flow of energy between them was like a fire, blazing with an intense, pleasurable heat.


The darkness was more intense now than ever before, darker than that shadow creature that had almost consumed them both earlier. John could feel wetness on his cheeks but he had no idea what it was. He just knew that he loved this man beneath him more than he would have thought it was possible to love anyone. Rodney was his, and he’d nearly been lost to him. Rodney was his, and he’d been unable to touch him. Rodney was his, and now he had to claim him back – from death, from the shield, from all the people who had laid their hands on him. Rodney was his…his…his….


The darkness was suddenly replaced by a flashing white light, so bright it knocked out every sensation in his mind, and then he was falling again, for real this time, and Rodney *was* there beneath him, catching him in his arms and holding him tight, and John closed his eyes and allowed himself to be held, for the first time in a very long time.


When he came to, the darkness had gone, and he felt weak and dizzy. The emotional turmoil of the past couple of hours had completely receded, leaving him exhausted but able to think straight for the first time since Rodney had walked into that black shadow. He shifted, and realised that Rodney was stroking his back, gently, and pressing little kisses into his neck. His cock was still buried deep inside Rodney’s body but he didn’t want to move just yet.


“Better now?” Rodney asked, still stroking him with those big, capable hands of his.


“Yeah. I’m sorry,” he croaked, moving his head and finding himself looking into Rodney’s blue eyes.


“It’s okay. I’m just glad you’re back. You were so out of it.”


“Did I hurt you?” John lifted his head anxiously.


“No.” Rodney shook his head. “I mean, I doubt I’ll be able to walk in the morning, obviously, and I’m not saying it wasn’t kind of scary – but that was partly what made it so hot.”


“Sorry,” John said again, feeling pathetic. Rodney pinched his buttock.


“You’ve said that once,” he said.


“Mmm. Felt like it needed saying more than once,” John replied, resting his head on Rodney’s chest. Rodney stroked his hair and John sighed and relaxed even more. “I will move. In a minute,” he said. “I just…still need to be inside you for a bit longer.”


“No rush,” Rodney replied. “I like it anyway.”


“Mmm.” John angled his head sideways, and Rodney leaned in and kissed his mouth.


John zoned out again, just revelling in the rightness of being here, alone with Rodney, their bodies still joined in the aftermath of the most out-of-control sex John had ever had.


“I love you,” someone said.


John sighed, thinking it was probably him who had just said that because Rodney hadn’t said those words to him yet.


“Mmm,” he murmured. Rodney’s hands drifted down towards his buttocks, and came to rest there, just lightly.


“I love you,” the voice said again, right in his ear. He looked up, startled. “Well I wanted some reaction seeing as how you made such a fuss about it earlier,” Rodney told him.


“Wait – you said that?” John frowned.


Rodney laughed and kissed the side of his face. “Do you want me to wait until the blood has returned to your brain and say it again then?” he asked.


“No. Say it again now,” John instructed. “I’ll concentrate very hard.”


“Okay then. I-love-you.” Rodney’s blue eyes were ridiculously close, but entirely sincere.


John grinned. “It would have killed you to say it earlier? You had to make me wait?” he groused. Rodney frowned.


“Are you saying it wasn’t worth waiting for?” he asked.


John grinned, and pressed a kiss on Rodney’s chest. “Definitely worth waiting for,” he said. “What took you so long?”


“I just needed to know I wasn’t going to be the only total screw-up in the relationship,” Rodney said, looking a little smug. John couldn’t argue with that.


“I’m surprised you haven’t run screaming for the hills,” he sighed. “I’ll apologise to Carson in the morning of course.”


“I’ll come with you. It’s partly my fault – we should have told him about us earlier and I know you wanted to.”


“Does this mean you’ve changed your mind about moving in with me?” John asked.


“Not yet,” Rodney replied. “I just need some time to get used to all this.”


“That’s cool.” John kissed Rodney’s neck. “Whenever.”


He must have drifted off to sleep as he woke up an hour or so later feeling cold. The sweat had dried on his skin, and they were both ass naked on Rodney’s bed. Rodney shifted beneath him, and John realised his sub was awake.


“You should have woken me up,” John said. “I’m still inside you.”


“I know. I like it but….”


“Yeah.” John pulled his hips back, and his cock slid out of Rodney’s body with a soft plop. Rodney winced.


“Sorry.” John grabbed a blanket from the untidy heap at the bottom of the bed and pulled it up over both of them. Then he rolled over and slung his arm around Rodney’s waist. If he concentrated, John could still feel that warm energy flowing between them, sweet as honey. It wasn’t as powerful as it had been earlier, but he’d never been able to sense it before except during sex so this was different. He wondered what it was. It didn’t feel wrong – on the contrary – it felt very right. John closed his eyes, and let the warm energy wash over him, bathing him, and soon they both fell into a deep, contented sleep.



End of Part Thirteen



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