Coming Home: 19. Home


“Rodney.” Carson gently pried Rodney’s hand from where it was tightly gripped around John’s. “Come on, laddie. We need to talk to you,” he said softly.
“I should stay with him,” Rodney replied, numbly.


He stood there, beside the infirmary bed, gazing at John’s still, pale body, attached to dozens of monitors.


“He’s in a coma, Rodney – and I need to speak to you. I need to find out what happened. That’s the only way we can help him,” Carson insisted, gently but firmly.


Rodney nodded – if it would help John then he’d do it. That was the only thing that would convince him to leave his lover right now.


Carson led him into his office and closed the door behind him.


“I hope you don’t mind but I asked Teyla to sit in on this,” Carson said. “She’s got an understanding of the lifebond that might help us shed some light on what’s happened to John.”


“The lifebond? We’re not lifebonded.” Rodney frowned.


“I think that might be part of the problem,” Teyla explained, sitting forward in her chair. “You had a natural and powerful link, Rodney, and John was forced to sever that in order to allow you to concentrate on getting us home.”


“We think that when he severed the link he caused himself a devastating trauma, Rodney,” Carson said softly. “There’s no medical reason why he isn’t waking up. His heart is fine, and there’s no brain damage as far as we can see.”


“This sounds like so much mumbo jumbo to me, Carson!” Rodney snapped. “Isn’t there some medicine or something that you can give him to cure it?”


“No, Rodney.” Carson shook his head regretfully. “It’s like he’s lost somewhere inside his own mind. There’s no medicine that will heal that.”


Rodney shook his head, frustrated by all this. He was a scientist – he understood facts and figures, had an innate grasp of the theories of physics, and the immutable laws of nature, but not all this talk of lifebonds and people getting lost inside their own minds. That made no sense to him whatsoever.


“If you had been lifebonded this would not have happened,” Teyla told him softly.


“He hates the idea of lifebonding,” Rodney snapped. “His parents….” He hesitated, because that information was private, and he didn’t think John would like him sharing it.


“He lost one and the other died as a result of the bond. I guessed that,” Teyla said. “If you had been lifebonded he would have had greater control over the bond between you and might have been able to prevent you feeling so much of his pain. He certainly would not have been able to sever a full lifebond the way he did the link. It is our belief that a lifebond cannot be severed. When one half of a bonded pair dies, the lifebond is not severed even then – the bond takes the other with him into death,” Teyla said earnestly.


“Which is what happened to John’s parents. Yes. I know,” Rodney said impatiently. “But how the hell is this going to help us get John back?”


“If you can re-establish the link, Rodney…” Carson began.


“How? I have no idea how it got created in the first place!” Rodney protested. “It just happened.”


They stared at each other glumly. Finally, Carson shook his head.


“Then we’ll treat him like any other coma patient. Keep him comfortable, and talk to him. Try to get through to him that way.”


Rodney turned immediately, wrenched open the door, and strode back out to John’s bed.


“There is absolutely no point wasting any more time talking to the so-called medical profession,” he muttered to himself. “And you,” he said, reaching John’s bed. “Are a malingerer. Apparently there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.”


He sat down beside the bed, and took hold of John’s hand again. It was freezing cold.


“Clearly you just want to get out of polishing your boots, or taking your P-90 apart, or whatever stupid military things you spend your time doing when you’re not pestering me in the lab, or getting shot at by the Wraith,” he grumbled.


John remained unmoving. His face had a greyish hue which didn’t look at all natural. Rodney squeezed his hand hard.


“Oh for god’s sake wake up,” he snapped.


John’s eyelids didn’t so much as flicker. Rodney gazed at him blindly, through glassy eyes. He tried to concentrate, searching for some trace of the link they’d once shared. He had so often felt it, just pulsing warmly in the background, quietly connecting them. It had been there even when he’d just been going about his everyday life, barely aware of it. Sometimes he had caught little glimpses of it when he closed his eyes, or drifted off for a moment, and it had been impossible not to be aware of it when they had sex. Then it had cascaded into glorious life, and bathed them both in its sweet glow as their intimacy strengthened and nurtured it. But now all he felt was a raw numbness, like the pain of an amputated limb, and, just beyond that, an inky darkness that was so cold it made him shiver in the warm room. How the hell was he supposed to mend something this badly broken? He didn’t know.


Rodney spent the next twelve hours solid by John’s side, to no avail. He watched the nurses take endless readings, watched Carson change the dressing and examine the wound on his lover’s neck. Watched John lying there, unmoving, dog tags resting on grey, lifeless skin.


“I do have work to do you know,” he told his top. “There are experiments in the lab that Radek is probably ruining as we speak. Or at least I’m speaking. You’re just wasting everyone’s time by taking an extended nap.”


“Rodney – you should go back to your quarters. Get some rest,” Carson said, appearing in the doorway.


“I’m not leaving.”


“If there’s any change I’ll tell you,” Carson insisted.


“I said, I’m not leaving.”


“Aye, you are, laddie,” Carson replied. “You’re worn out, Rodney and you can’t spend every minute here speaking to him. Comas are unpredictable things, Rodney. He could be out for a day, or a week, or a month…or longer. He might never….” Carson bit on his lip. Rodney glared at him. “What I’m saying is that you have to get some food and sleep. You can’t spend the rest of your life at his bedside.”


“Fine.” Rodney got up, all his muscles protesting the sudden movement. He hadn’t realised just how tired he was. Carson had a point. It wasn’t as if he was doing any good here anyway.


Rodney walked wearily back to his quarters and threw himself down on the bed without even turning on the light. He was so tired, but when he closed his eyes all he could see was John’s pale face, lying on that infirmary pillow.


He tried to sleep but it was useless. How could he sleep without John’s warmth beside him, and his reassuring weight next to him? How could he sleep without feeling John’s breath on the back of his neck, and John’s arm slung around his waist? How could he sleep knowing he might never again feel John’s fingers on his body, making love to him so erotically, and John’s magnificent hard cock moving inside his ass? How could he sleep knowing John was lying, cold and lifeless as a corpse, in the infirmary just down the hallway? How could he sleep knowing that the warm, pulsing connection between them had been severed, leaving him feeling cold and empty inside?


He got up and left his quarters without thinking twice about it. He didn’t want to be here. He found himself walking along the hallway to John’s quarters.


He let himself in and turned on the light. John’s leather jacket was slung over the back of a chair. Rodney picked it up and wrapped his arms around it, holding it close. It felt stiff and cold without John’s body warming it. He caught sight of that stupid damn book, War and Peace, sitting on the nightstand. Rodney went over to it and opened it at the bookmarked page, then snorted. “Still on page seventeen I see,” he muttered.


He threw the book down, and then threw himself down on the bed, still clutching the jacket. He buried his face in John’s pillow, inhaling his scent, and then burrowed under the sheets, fully dressed, trying to get warm. He still felt that coldness inside, that iciness he’d felt ever since he’d tried to concentrate on finding the link, back in the infirmary.


“Damn it, I already told you I love you,” he said, to the empty room. “Wasn’t that enough for you? You didn’t have to go and die to *prove* anything.”


He was shivering now. It was so damn cold. He wrapped the blankets around himself, his teeth chattering. He should be warming up by now. Maybe there was something wrong with the temperature control?


He got up and went to inspect the thermostatic controls on the door panel but everything looked fine. “Then why the hell am I freezing my ass off?” he asked out loud, and it was then that the realisation hit him. “I’m not,” he said. “*He* is, isn’t he? And if I can sense that, then the link must still be there, somewhere. If so, there’s still a chance I can reach him….”


He ran back to the infirmary, and crashed into John’s room. His top was lying there, looking exactly the same as he had when Rodney had left him. Carson came running out to see what was happening.


“Go away,” Rodney told him.


“Rodney – what the hell are you…?”


“I said go away,” Rodney replied, bundling Carson out of the door. “I’m not going to hurt him. I just want to be alone with him. Go!” Carson looked befuddled, but he nodded, and did as Rodney said.


When he’d gone, Rodney took a deep breath and surveyed John again. He remembered that the link between them had always grown stronger with physical contact. Holding hands wasn’t enough though. Naked. He needed to be naked. He took off his clothes, and slid under the infirmary sheets. Then he stripped John of his infirmary gown, trying not to dislodge any of the wires from the various machines that were attached to him. When he was done, he wrapped his arms around his top, and held him close.


John felt as cold as he did but it felt good to be beside him again, skin or skin. Rodney wasn’t entirely sure what to do next. He closed his eyes, and tried to focus on where the cold was coming from. “Damn it, I’m the world’s worst person to go tracking down someone lost inside their own mind,” he complained to nobody in particular. “Being lost in my own mind is my default state.”


He traced his fingers over John’s icy skin as he lay there, hoping to warm him with his own body heat. That might help. He really had no idea. He was, quite literally, in the dark on this one.


He tried to concentrate, tried to find the link between them…. Something pulsed, brokenly, and his heart gave a little flip. He reached out towards it – it was damaged but there was definitely something still there…. He just needed to nurture it, to feed it with his own strength and energy, and encourage it to grow again.


He was tired, and now that he was nestled close to John he thought he might finally be able to get some sleep. In fact, he decided, if John pulled through this then there was no way they were spending a night apart again unless it was completely unavoidable. Never, ever again. John was his and he was John’s. He had to stop trying to have his cake and eat it and accept that. It was too late for doubts or second thoughts. He was already crazy in love and there was no going back.


The link pulsed again, faint, forlorn and erratic, nothing like the usual sweet, easy flow of energy he’d felt in the past. Rodney let his mind wander along it. Beyond the pulse was an icy darkness so bleak and cold that every instinct in his body told him not to go there, to turn back, but he couldn’t do that. John was lost somewhere inside that frozen place, and he had to find him.


He felt as if he was walking along a dark tunnel – and then it came to an abrupt end. Beyond it the darkness was impenetrable, and there was no way to breach the gap. He could only wait here, at the end of his side of the tunnel, radiating warmth and reassurance, and hope that John would find his way to him, making the link whole again.


“Come back to me,” he whispered to the cold, still form lying beside him. “Come home.”




John whimpered. He was crouched down, his arms around his body, rocking back and forth, trying to keep warm. It was hard to concentrate, because he was so cold, but he was sure he’d heard something. Or maybe he’d felt something. He wasn’t sure. It was hard to tell the difference in here.


Cautiously, he looked up. Was it his imagination or had the darkness lightened a little? It didn’t seem so inky black as before. Yes, there was something *there*, shimmering a little in the distance. Something warm and inviting.


John struggled to get to his feet. God he ached. And his body was so cold and numb that he had to force it to unfurl and obey his commands. When he looked up again the shimmering had gone, and he could have wept with frustration. He forced himself to concentrate, and there it was again, faint and fragile. He took a tentative step towards it, and then another.


As he walked he felt his fingertips tingle, and he realised they were growing warm. He tried to walk faster, but it was still so cold, and he was so tired. The shimmering didn’t fade as long as he really concentrated on it. If he allowed himself to let go, even for a second, then it disappeared, and there was only darkness again. It was hard, and it took all his energy and focus. He crept along, feeling his way, guided by that light in the distance. It was brighter now, he was sure of it.


The warmth in his fingers crept up his arms and along his chest, and all the time that shimmering light seemed to get a little closer. He felt like he was trapped at the end of a tunnel, and the light was the only thing he could see in the darkness. It was a long journey, and he was trembling with tiredness, but he walked doggedly on, never once swerving from his path towards that light, shining in the distance.


It was brighter now, and he tried to call out, to draw its attention towards him. It glowed brighter in response, pulsing, warm and sweet, calling back to him. He redoubled his efforts, running now, throwing himself towards the light.


The heat in his body seemed to spread as he got closer to the light. First his fingers, then his arms, and torso. Then it spread down thought his groin and into his legs, all the way down to his toes. And he could feel it creeping up too, up his neck towards his ears, and then enveloping his face. The light was so bright now that he could feel it, bathing him in its heat, welcoming and warming him.


Then there was a whooshing sound and the warmth was everywhere, coalescing with the bright light, which was so close now it was blinding him, and then everything exploded. Starbursts erupted around him, white and beautiful, and he had the overwhelming sensation that he was safe. He was so tired that he barely noticed he was warm again, before falling into a deep, restful sleep.


“No you can’t,” someone was saying when he woke up. “I don’t care – I’m not moving. Go away. I’m telling you I can feel him again, somewhere in there, so I am not moving just so you can measure the circumference of his head or whatever useless pseudo-medical nonsense it is you want to do to him.”


There was a muttered reply, just out of earshot. John ignored it. He honed in instead on the faintly irascible sound that was like music to his ears.


“See the trouble you’re causing, you lazy oaf?” He felt a finger poking into his side. “I know you’re in there so you can stop lounging around and get your ass moving again. I’m not spending my whole life lying around in here – naked I might add – fending off idiotic nurses who want to take your pulse every five minutes. I felt it you know – a few hours ago. That…I don’t know…all those lights and fireworks going off. I can feel you now. I can’t believe you’re *still* not waking up for god’s sake!”


With a great effort of will, John forced his eyelids open. He lay there for a moment, blinking. His body ached, and his neck was sore, but he felt warm and content. He realised that was because he was lying half on top of his sub, their bodies pressed closely together. Rodney was sitting up, slurping hot coffee from a mug, and John realised that he was using Rodney’s body as a pillow, his back pressed against Rodney’s chest, Rodney’s arm slung around him to keep him there. It was, in typical Rodney fashion, kind of awkward and yet comfortable at one and the same time.


“I don’t have to wear this collar you know,” Rodney was saying to him, stroking his arm absently and affectionately with his fingertips. “If you’re not interested there are plenty of other tops around who are.”


“If they lay one finger on you…” John began, the words out of his mouth before he even realised that he was fully awake. Rodney’s mug of coffee clattered to the floor.


“John?” His face was being held between two big hands, and two bright blue eyes were gazing at him – or maybe glaring at him. John wasn’t entirely sure.


“Who are these other tops?” John said, clearing his throat. “I’m gonna kick their asses.”


“Right now you couldn’t kick your way out from under this sheet,” Rodney said, a wide grin twisting his crooked lips.


“What happened?” John croaked, his fingers going cautiously to his neck just to check that damn bug wasn’t still there.


“I saved the day – obviously – and got us home. You then proceeded to sulk inside your head for three days while I had to endure Teyla and Carson warbling on about how you were in a coma because of this lifebond-not-lifebond situation we have going on. Oh, and while we’re on that subject – you and I have a new rule.”


“We do?” John glanced up at his sub.


“Yes. We do. What? You thought you were the only one who could make the rules? Hah.”


“And this new rule would be?” John prompted, snuggling a little closer to Rodney and wondering, absently, how long it would be before they could have sex.


“You do not ever, ever, ever…and I mean *ever*, try to sever this link thing we’ve got, ever again. Even if you’re dying, or some other hideous Pegasus galaxy type drama is going on in our lives.”


John remembered a terrifying dark coldness, and he shivered. “I think that’s a rule I can agree to,” he said, as Rodney took hold of him, wrapped his big arms around him, and pulled him even closer in response to his shivering.


John was too exhausted to move and he just lay there, loving the scent of Rodney’s skin, and the feel of Rodney’s body against his own.


“I don’t understand though. I thought I severed the link,” John murmured wearily.


“You did. I restored it,” Rodney told him, a hint of smugness in his voice.


John frowned, and tried to concentrate. He couldn’t feel the link between them but there was a fragile warmth there, hovering just out of reach, that made him think that Rodney was right. Maybe he’d feel it pulsing again when they had sex.


“You’re thinking about sex aren’t you?” Rodney said, kissing his hair noisily.


“Mmm. Did you get that through the link?” John asked.


“Nope. I got that from knowing you all too well,” Rodney snorted. “Don’t let Carson know you’re thinking about sex. He’ll probably say you’re not allowed to even contemplate it for weeks and weeks. Maybe even months. Years.”


“Yeah, but he knows I won’t take any notice of that, right?” John grinned up at Rodney. He was far too weak for any kind of physical activity right now, but he still really liked thinking about it. Especially as Rodney was so completely naked.


“Yeah. He knows.”


Rodney leaned down and kissed John on the lips. It felt so sweet, so good. John just lay there, allowing Rodney to kiss him, and he felt the vitality returning to him as every second passed.


“We should probably tell him you’re awake,” Rodney murmured between kisses.


“Not just yet. I’m sure he’ll want to perform dozens of his tests once he knows, and I don’t want to do anything but lie here with you right now.” John felt completely relaxed, lying in Rodney’s arms. It felt so good to be warm again. “How were you able to restore the link if I severed it?” John asked, frowning.


“Apparently you just shut down your end and the trauma of that sent you off somewhere within your own mind. My end was still there,” Rodney said. “I think of it like connecting two pieces of wiring. Mine was still pulsing – I just had to find yours and get the two back together again so my pulse could start yours and mend the gap. Teyla probably has reams of mumbo jumbo to explain it but my explanation is easier to understand.”


“As always,” John agreed, because one thing Rodney was really good at was technical explanations. And truly spectacular blow jobs. And many other things besides. “Although I do seem to remember doing some of the work myself. Not that it’s like you to take all the credit or anything….” He definitely remembered staggering towards a bright light. He was pretty sure they’d both helped restore the link and it hadn’t *all* been Rodney’s doing.


“I’m sure you helped in some minor way,” Rodney said patronisingly.


John grinned to himself. It was so good to be back.


“Teyla did say that if we’d been lifebonded none of this would have happened because you wouldn’t have been able to sever the link. She also said that lifebonding would give us more control over the link,” Rodney said. John stiffened. “I know, I know. I told her you’re not a great fan of lifebonding, and I have to say I’ve never been very enthusiastic myself, but, one day, I might have to insist,” Rodney murmured, kissing John’s hair again.


“I thought you were a commitment-phobe?” John raised an eyebrow.


“Yes, well, there’s only so many times you can watch someone you love die. Once is more than enough, thank you very much. You are not, under any circumstances, to die again.”


Rodney prodded his arm forcefully, making John wince.


“I’ll try my best, but I’m a soldier, Rodney,” John said softly. “And if there’s any dying to be done we’re usually first in line. If you and I were lifebonded, and I died, the city would lose both of us – and your brain is too valuable to waste.”


“Well, agreed, it would be an enormous loss to the universe. However, did you ever stop to think that being lifebonded might actually *save* our lives? We could heal each other and share any injuries.”


“True,” John said slowly.


He still had very ambivalent feelings about lifebonding. He had spent the past eighteen or so years resenting it bitterly, and the previous few months starting to understand the appeal, but it was hard to let go of almost a lifetime’s prejudice so quickly. He didn’t feel like he wanted to be having this conversation right now so he threw what he knew would be a highly effective spanner into the works.


“Suppose we had kids though? I don’t think it’s fair on the kids of a lifebonded couple.”


The spluttering took up most of the next minute. “Do I look,” Rodney blustered at last, “like someone who would be good with kids?”


“I think you’d make a great dad,” John said, smiling up at him cheerfully, and that ended any further conversations about lifebonding – for the time being at least. John was under no illusions that this subject wouldn’t arise again, because regardless of what he wanted, or even what Rodney wanted, the universe clearly had different ideas on the subject.


“On the subject of fathers…” John smiled. “You were wrong. They do like you.”


“What?” Rodney frowned, blue eyes bemused, but John didn’t have time to explain because at that moment Carson stuck his head around the door, and, seeing John was conscious, called every nurse in the infirmary to come check on him. Rodney was dispatched out of his bed and then, as John had predicted, he was subjected to every known medical procedure under the sun.


John made a swift recovery, and within a couple of days he was clamouring to be allowed to return to his quarters. Partly he was bored, but he was also hungry to be alone with Rodney, and make love to his sub.


Despite the fact that Rodney had assured him that the link between the two of them was working again, John wanted to feel it. He was scared that he’d somehow damaged it irrevocably, and that it might not be as strong as it had been before.


He missed that warm, pulsing energy and the sense of being connected to Rodney. If he concentrated, really hard, he thought he could feel it, but he knew that he needed to make love to Rodney, to be *inside* Rodney, to stand any chance of returning it to its full strength. It had always been stronger when they were physically close, and strongest of all when they were making love.


Carson was being difficult though. John tried every trick in the book, from charming the doctor to pulling rank on him, but Carson seemed to be prepared for each and every one of them.


“I’m the doctor, you’re the patient, and I say you’re not ready yet,” Carson told him, smiling at him sweetly as he filled in John’s chart. “Now, I don’t argue with you when you take me offworld do I? You’re in charge there. I’m in charge here.”


“I’m fine though,” John growled, pacing around the small area around his bed like a caged tiger.


“Aye, well, I’ll be the judge of that. And you should be getting back to bed now, laddie, before you wear out the flooring over there.”


“Rodney?” John glanced at his sub, who was sitting in a chair to one side, legs up on the bed, typing vigorously into his laptop.


“Hmm?” Rodney glanced up, and then shook his head. “Oh no. No, no, no. I’m not getting involved. Carson always wins and he’s like an elephant – he *never* forgets. So next time I end up in here he’ll make me suffer for taking your side in oh so many nasty little ways.”


“I’m really not that vindictive, Rodney,” Carson said, in a wounded voice. Rodney gave him a sceptical look, and Carson was unable to suppress his grin.


“There – see. It’s true!” Rodney said, pointing.


John sighed and sat back down on the bed. “How much longer?” he demanded.


“We’ll see,” Carson said. “If you were a normal person I’d release you now – but I know that the minute I *do* release you, you’ll ignore all my advice about taking it easy and run off and do something stupid, or heroic, or both, and then I’ll have to mend you all over again.”


“Oh excuse me – I mended him this time!” Rodney pointed out.


“You did a fine job once he was breathing again, laddie,” Carson said, smiling at him patronisingly. “But let’s not forget who got his heart started. Now, Rodney – visiting hours are long since over, not that you ever take any notice of them. You should be on your way. The colonel needs rest and you’re not a restful person.”


John grinned at Rodney’s outraged look, and grabbed his sub for a forceful goodnight kiss before sending him on his way with a slap to his ass.


He watched that ass disappear out of the door, gazing at it wistfully as it went. Damnit but he was missing that ass. He was desperate to get his hands on it again, and really play with it.


“Down boy,” Carson said, rolling his eyes. “That’s another reason why I’m keeping you here. You’ll jump his bones the minute I let you out, and you’re not quite ready for that yet, John.”


“I feel ready,” John complained, but Carson just grinned, and shook his head.


“Tomorrow,” he said.


“Really?” John looked up eagerly.


Carson nodded. “I want to run some final tests on you tomorrow morning but if they’re okay, I’ll release you around lunchtime,” he said.


John fully expected Rodney to show up at the infirmary for his release, but by the time Carson finally handed over his uniform and gave him permission to leave there was no sign of his sub.


“He probably got engrossed in something in the lab and forgot the time. You know what he’s like,” Carson said sympathetically as John tied up his bootlaces.


“Yeah. I know.” John shrugged. It wasn’t important. He’d track Rodney down somewhere in the city. He shook Carson’s hand, and then pulled him into a big bear hug. “Sorry for, you know, being a crappy patient,” he said.


“Och, I’m used to it. Between you and your wayward sub I’m surprised my hair hasn’t turned white,” Carson replied, grinning at him. “Off you go, John, and remember to take it easy…oh what am I saying? I’m just wasting my breath.”


John laughed out loud and slapped Carson’s arm. “I’ll be fine, doc.”


He walked back to his quarters, taking with him the little bunch of cards and gifts from wellwishers that he’d accumulated in the infirmary. He’d drop them off first and then go track Rodney down. He opened the door to his quarters, stepped inside, and then stopped short.


He backed out of the door just to check these were his quarters, and he hadn’t somehow come to the wrong room, but no. He stepped back inside. The room was completely empty. There was nothing here – no book on the nightstand, no Johnny Cash poster on the wall, no clothes in his closet. There was a note though, in Rodney’s untidy scrawl, lying on the bed.


“Come home. R.”


“Idiot,” John grinned.


He threw the cards and gifts down on the bed, grabbed the note and stuffed it into his pocket, and then he ran out of the door and down the hallway towards Rodney’s room.


Trust Rodney. Only he could be so stubborn as to move in with John by making John move in with him.


Home. The note had said ‘home’. John hadn’t felt any place was home in nearly two decades but he did now. He skidded to a halt outside Rodney’s quarters, then reached out and put his hand on the lock. In all the time they’d been together, Rodney had never re-programmed the door to allow John automatic entry. Which wasn’t to say that John couldn’t gain access if he wanted to – Atlantis opened all her doors to him upon demand – but Rodney had never made it easy for him.


This time the door opened smoothly, and he stepped inside. Rodney turned around from where he was shoving some underwear into a drawer, and straightened up, looking slightly panicked.


John paused, and gazed around the room. It was tidier than usual – although he was guessing it wouldn’t stay that way.


His Johnny Cash poster was on one wall, opposite Rodney’s many framed diplomas and degree certificates. His copy of War and Peace was on one nightstand, along with the framed photograph of his parents. On the other nightstand was a framed picture of Rodney’s cat, an open laptop showing a bewildering table of calculations, and, more promisingly, a tube of lubricant.


“Welcome home,” Rodney said quietly. John just stared. “Um…I hope this is okay? I mean, I could have moved into your quarters but frankly they aren’t as nice as these and besides I’m kind of attached to this room. Also, you have less stuff than me, or maybe it just looks that way because you keep it all in drawers. I don’t know. Anyway, I’ve put all your stuff away in the closet. You’ll probably want to re-arrange it all because you’re anally retentive that way. It must be something to do with how the military mind works. I have no idea why I’m even with you. I swore I’d never get involved with anyone from the military ever again but you wore me down with your sneaky charm and obsession with romantic dates on beaches and….”


“Rodney…where are my toys?” John said, interrupting him.


“Uh…well, they’re under the bed. You want me to get them out?”


“Nope. I just wanted to know where my gag was because I might need to use it sometime soon,” John replied.


“Oh. I see. I’m talking too much. I do that when I’m nervous. You know that. But you haven’t said anything yet, and I have no idea if you’re pissed with me or not, and….”


John decided to shut him up without resorting to the gag by the simple expedient of striding across the room, grabbing hold of him, pulling him close, and kissing him hard on the mouth.


Rodney melted against him, his hands going around John’s waist. John kissed him hungrily, his tongue exploring Rodney’s mouth, his hands wandering down to Rodney’s ass and cupping it.


It felt like a lifetime since he’d last been able to do this, and he devoured Rodney as if he was a feast, needing to taste him. Rodney’s lips were as soft and willing as ever, and John kissed him several times, unable to let go. It was like that first time, back on the beach, when they’d kissed each other for most of the day. It felt that intense – and that necessary.


When at last he released his sub Rodney’s eyes were heavy-lidded, and glazed. John slid his thumb gently over Rodney’s lips, and Rodney sucked it into his mouth. It was such a small gesture, but so intensely sexual that John instantly needed more.


He moved his hands down to Rodney’s body urgently, and slid his fingertips under Rodney’s shirt, feeling the enticing, intoxicating warmth radiating off Rodney’s skin. The heat was also rising inside his own body, combined with a desperate need to get as close to his sub as possible, and he pushed Rodney’s shirt up and trailed his mouth over Rodney’s chest. He sucked on a nipple, and then worked on its twin, loving the sounds Rodney was making as he teased the sensitive nubs of flesh into points.


John drew back but only so that he could take hold of Rodney’s hand, and draw him over towards the bed. He lay down and pulled Rodney on top of him. His sub came eagerly, sinking down onto him, and kissing him vigorously. John slid his hands down the back of Rodney’s pants, and squeezed his buttocks. Damn but this felt good – he always loved the way Rodney’s ass felt in his hands. He kissed Rodney again, just as hard and hungry, and then rolled his sub over onto his back. He straddled him, grabbed Rodney’s arms, and pinned them above his head, looking down into his sub’s wide blue eyes.


“I’m going to make you mine again,” he whispered.


“Well, uh, regardless of the whole regrettable link-severing debacle, I should point out that I never stopped being yours,” Rodney replied.


John’s eyes flickered over the white gold collar that Rodney wore around his throat; the collar that bore *his* name. His cock throbbed in response.


“You need to know it and I need to feel it – every time we make love I’m making you mine again,” John said, leaning in to nuzzle Rodney’s jawline.


He felt the dominance surge through his veins. Beneath him was a man he loved more than he loved his own life. Beneath him was a willing sub who loved surrendering to him just as much as he loved accepting that surrender. They were like a key and a lock – they fitted together perfectly.


“I’m going to undress you,” John said, feeling the urgency again. He was desperate to feel their naked bodies pressing together, and he longed to feel the link between them pulsing again.


He fumbled to undo Rodney’s shirt, with shaking fingers. His sub lay there, watching him, and John wanted to do a dozen things at once. He wanted to be undressing Rodney, and kissing him, and entering him at one and the same time, and his fingers were too slow, frustrating him.


“Here.” Rodney brushed his fumbling fingers away and quickly undid his shirt, and then he sat up and pulled it off to reveal his broad, pale chest. John moved to one side, and slid a hand over Rodney’s shoulder blades, then planted a kiss on the back of his sub’s neck.


“Now your pants,” he said, shaking slightly from raw emotion. It had been days since they’d made love, and so much had happened in the meantime. He’d died and been brought back to life again, but he needed to be grounded in the reality of Rodney’s body before he felt really *alive*.


Rodney quickly unfastened his pants, and he pushed them and his boxers down and shucked them off. His boots and socks followed suit, leaving him naked. John reached for him as soon as he was done, wrapping one hand around Rodney’s beautiful, smooth, curving cock.


It felt so good to have Rodney’s cock in his hand again, to be able to caress it, and make love to it. It was ramrod hard and John trailed his fingers delicately up and down it, making Rodney sigh.


John gazed at him, drinking in the sight of his aroused sub. He loved the way Rodney looked, his head flung back, his eyes closed, sweat beading his hairline John had a sudden flashback to the moment when he’d severed the link between them, and he felt as if he’d been slugged in the gut. He knew *why* he’d done it, but it felt almost as bad as if he’d rescinded Rodney’s collar – worse maybe. He made a guttural, whimpering sound in the back of his throat, and Rodney’s eyelids flashed open, his blue eyes dark with concern.


“It’s okay,” Rodney murmured, pulling John close and kissing him again. John wrapped his arms around his lover, and buried his face in Rodney’s neck.


“I’ll never rescind your collar,” John babbled, knowing he wasn’t making much sense. Rodney didn’t tease him for that comment, he just nodded, understanding.


“I know that. And I’ll never repudiate it. It’s okay. C’mere…okay…okay….”


He pressed a series of little kisses to John’s mouth as he spoke, his big hands caressing John’s shoulders. John felt himself calming, and he held on tight to Rodney. Rodney was his anchor in the storm of his emotions, and with Rodney he felt safe. Slowly he started to feel better, and he began caressing his sub again.


“Let me see that fantastic ass. I’ve been dreaming about that ass for days now, and I need to see it,” he whispered throatily.


Rodney nodded, and rolled over onto his stomach. John knelt beside him, drinking in the sight of his ass. It was as beautiful as he remembered it. Two perfect globes of white flesh, round and enticing.


He reached out and stroked it softly, then lowered his mouth to it and kissed the smooth skin reverently. He licked and sucked and kissed his way over every single inch of Rodney’s bare bottom, lost in the joy of holding it, and caressing it.


He opened Rodney’s butt cheeks and slipped his tongue into the dark crevice between them, moaning to himself as he inhaled Rodney’s scent. This was where he needed to be. He enjoyed tasting that secret flesh for a long time, his tongue lapping deep inside his sub. Then he withdrew, and pressed his lips to the white fleshy buttocks again, frowning. Something was missing. Something important. Something *necessary*. The skin was too pale and bare – it needed his mark.


“Hold still for me,” he growled, his lips closing on that soft, round surface. He sucked for a long time, then bit, and Rodney gave a little whimper but he didn’t move until John was done. John felt a little better once Rodney was marked. He didn’t know why – just that he had some need, deep inside, to place his mark upon Rodney’s flesh – preferably his plump ass.


He fingered the little red mark happily, and then turned Rodney over and kissed him again, hard this time, on the lips. Rodney’s body was as loose as a ragdoll, utterly compliant, and that just made John’s arousal even stronger.


“You’re still dressed. Can I undress you?” Rodney asked eagerly. John nodded, grateful that he didn’t have to fumble with any fastenings himself when he was in such an intense emotional state.


Rodney leaned over him, and began slowly unzipping his black shirt, his blue eyes completely focussed and intent as he worked. He paused, and examined the little marks on the side of John’s neck where the bug had fixed itself, his big fingers tender and careful as he touched it, as if he was handling the most delicate circuitry.


Then he moved his head and lapped at the marks gently with his tongue, sucking and kissing. John mewled, lost in his sub’s attention. Rodney released his neck and began making his way down to John’s pants. He opened them, and gave a little sigh of happiness as he released John’s hard cock. John grinned, pleased that his body turned his sub on as much as Rodney’s body turned him on.


Rodney swiftly divested him of the rest of his clothes, and John pulled him down on top of him again, *needing* to feel naked flesh on naked flesh. Their cocks rubbed together as they kissed; John could feel them pulsing as their tongues clashed wildly.


He explored Rodney’s mouth thoroughly. He had missed this so much; the taste of Rodney, the feel of his cock…he couldn’t hold back for much longer. His fingers dipped into the cleft between Rodney’s butt cheeks, and he knew he had to take him soon, but not yet…he had to do something else first.


“Need to look at you, need to play with you…be still…be still,” he whispered hoarsely, pushing Rodney down beneath him.


He roamed over Rodney’s body, reacquainting himself with it, needing to touch every single familiar inch of his lover’s naked skin. His hands, lips and tongue were never still as he explored every part of his sub. He could hear nothing except the sound of his own heartbeat, and the soft little moans Rodney made as he rubbed, licked and caressed him.


Rodney responded by opening up wherever John went, moving arms and legs, rolling this way and that, offering his hard cock to John’s mouth, or holding open his ass cheeks for John to slip his tongue into his hole, or lube it with his fingers. John was relentless. He couldn’t get enough of Rodney. He needed to devour him, caress him and become one with him once more.


He knew that his urgency was in part fuelled by his own fear; he still hadn’t felt the warm pulsing of the link, and he wondered if it was too badly damaged to ever be fully restored. He tortured himself with the worry that it might never come back, that he had broken it forever.


“Hey.” Rodney caught hold of his face and looked into his eyes, making him focus. “Ssh.” Rodney stroked his hands down John’s arms, calming him. “It’s there…you can’t force it. Just relax.”


John nodded, taking a few deep breaths, and then he returned to what he’d been doing, but slower this time, taking his time and really savouring it.


He cupped Rodney’s ass in his hands and squeezed, remembering how it had been the second thing he’d noticed about Rodney, back on McMurdo, what felt like a lifetime ago. The first thing he’d noticed, of course, had been Rodney’s attitude, and that had been what he’d first fallen in love with. The ass was a close second though.


He gazed into Rodney’s blue eyes, and remembered how Rodney had turned his head during that first public disciplinary, these same blue eyes resigned, dignified and heartbreakingly sad all at the same time. That look would stay with him for the rest of his life. John moved his head and kissed Rodney softly on the lips, needing to comfort him long after the event. He resolved to himself, fiercely, that Rodney would never again be exposed to that kind of punishment, no matter what he did. John would take it for him if need be, and punish Rodney in private if it was deserved, but he’d never allow the rest of the city to sit and gawp at Rodney that way again.


He moved to sit astride Rodney, and held his sub’s hands above his head again, remembering that exquisite first kiss, on the seashore, a few months previously. Rodney’s lips were still as sweet. He kissed them again, reliving that moment. It was so vivid that he could almost hear the waves crashing on the beach, and taste the salty air on Rodney’s mouth.


He moved again, down to the neck that another top had dared to try and collar. He growled at the memory of Bates’s choke chain, and then calmed himself by nuzzling at the shining metal that encased Rodney’s throat. His collar. Rodney was his, and he’d fight the entire galaxy to keep him, if necessary. Bates had just been the first.


John traced the cool metal with his tongue, remembering how Rodney had knelt in front of him in the glow of the beach fire, and bent his head so sweetly to take John’s collar. It still made him quiver.


He worked his way down to suck on the nipples that were always so sensitive, then moved down to the cock that was the most beautiful he’d ever seen, and took it in his mouth. He could feel the heat in his own cock as he remembered how exciting it had been to snap that cock ring around Rodney, and keep his sub in a state of total submission. How that had led to the most extraordinary sex of his life, when they had started moving as one, merging into one complete being…and then John felt it – the faint, pulsing warmth of the link, gently morphing back into life. He saw the little crooked smile curve on Rodney’s lips and knew that he’d felt it too, and gave a sigh of relief.


“Oh thank god!” he whispered, kissing the smile on Rodney’s mouth, all his worries and doubts disappearing. The link was still there, flowing between them, tentative and weak but definitely there.


John knew that it was time now. He knelt between Rodney’s legs and gently pulled his buttocks open, then gazed into Rodney’s eyes as he entered him slowly. It felt fantastic, the way it always felt being inside Rodney.


He could feel his cock pulsing in time to the sweet pulsing of the link, and when he wrapped his hand around Rodney’s cock he could feel that pulsing to the same rhythm. They were whole again, connected, and John pushed forward, making love to his beloved submissive slowly, sensuously, pushing in and out in time to the undulating of the link. It was glowing now, sending warm, sweet, honeyed waves of energy back and forth between them.


John found himself moving faster, keeping time, flowing in and out of Rodney just as the link was flowing back and forth between them. Rodney’s blue eyes were locked with his, sharing an intense gaze, and John felt a sense of tranquillity descend on him. He was back. The link was unbroken. All was well. He was home.


When they both came, it was a gentle release, sweet and loving. John felt himself ejaculate deep within Rodney’s welcoming body, and then he felt Rodney’s warm come spurting out onto his own fingers a few seconds later.


Exhausted but happy, John lowered himself shakily onto his sub’s sturdy body, and lay there, resting his head on Rodney’s chest, his cock still embedded in Rodney’s anus. Rodney put his arms around him, wrapping him in their comforting warmth, and there they stayed, for an hour, or a day, or a lifetime, at one with each other. John closed his eyes, and dozed to the sensation of the link flowing powerfully between them, back to its former strength – maybe even stronger than ever.


Only when the sweat had cooled on their bodies, making them cold, did John finally withdraw. He immediately rolled onto his side and took Rodney in his arms. He loved holding Rodney like this, Rodney’s ass pressed against his groin, Rodney’s broad shoulders against his chest.


“That was incredible,” he whispered. “Did you feel it? It felt so good.”


“I’m glad it’s back,” Rodney replied softly. “I don’t want it to ever go anywhere, ever again.” He rested one of his hands over John’s where they were clasped around his waist.


“So, what made you change your mind?” John murmured. “About the whole living together thing?”


“Losing you – obviously,” Rodney replied softly, in one of those moments of blank honesty that was so completely Rodney. “You may come to regret it of course because another of my new rules is that we don’t spend a night apart unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.”


“Sounds fine to me,” John said, nuzzling his sub’s neck with his mouth. “You’re not bad at making up new rules.”


“Well obviously. My genius is all-encompassing,” Rodney sniffed. John grinned and bit his shoulder. Rodney squirmed happily in his arms. “Oh, this will amuse you. I was looking through my files today and I found my list.”


“Ah – the famous list.” John kissed the back of Rodney’s neck. “So, that whole thing about not liking anal sex…?”


“Yeah. I’m kind of over that. You might have noticed,” Rodney said, with a trademark Rodney giggle.


“God I love that sound. What did you do with it? The list?”


“I deleted it. There didn’t seem much point to it any more as you’re always going to do exactly what you want regardless.”


“You have a problem with that?” John stroked Rodney’s arm gently.


“No. I like it. In fact, I possibly like it too much. It’s kind of addictive.”


John smiled. He caught sight of the photo of his parents on the nightstand and gazed at it for awhile. He wasn’t sure whether he believed in any kind of afterlife but that brief moment he’d shared with them when his heart had stopped beating had seemed so real. Maybe it had been the hallucination of a dying brain, but he liked to think they were out there, somewhere, watching over him. The last time he had called anyplace home had been when they were alive.




John remembered Rodney’s note, and kissed the back of his sub’s neck again.


He had finally come home.


The End




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