Coming Home: 9. The List


John spent the following afternoon preparing for his date with Rodney. He wanted the night to be special, and he gave it a good deal of thought. He fished out his box of toys, and sifted through them, pondering how he wanted to play the evening.


He had some soft leather cuffs, which he placed on the nightstand, and there was a flogger made of knotted fur that could stroke a sub to ecstasy within minutes. He let his fingers rest on two cock rings – one metallic, and one leather, and then there were a variety of little clamps and clips.


He had a strap and a couple of paddles, and a very nice cock and ball restraint. There was a leg separator, a butt plug, a ball gag…John grinned at that last item. He wondered how someone as vocal as Rodney would react to being denied his voice, and decided that at some point he wanted to find out, but not tonight. Tonight he *wanted* to hear Rodney. He wanted to hear him pant, and moan, and beg, and sigh, and purr with pleasure.


John ignored the curled up whip, and a long, thin cane. Those weren’t implements for a first date – he was very proficient with the whip, having taught himself how to wield it to excellent effect when he’d dated a young lieutenant a few years back who found the idea of being whipped in the open air, tied to a tree, unbelievably arousing. John had got off on his sub’s evident pleasure, and he liked being an expert with the whip, and especially liked the technical aspects of whip play and the responses it coaxed from even the most closed off sub.


John pondered the paddle instead, wondering how Rodney’s ass would feel, hotly spanked, beneath his fingers. Then there were the nipple clamps – he had two sets – one set mildly pinching, for little more than effect, and the other set meaning business.


There was a butt plug, completely new, still in its wrapping – John wondered what it would be like to open Rodney’s teasing pink asshole with the tip of the plug, to press it home with his fingers and make Rodney keep it there, perhaps for hours.


Then there was bondage. Rodney would look good tied to his bed, face down, his legs spread wide, his head angled to one side, gazing up at John with pleading eyes….


All these ideas excited him, but they felt wrong. John wasn’t sure why – he’d never been shy about getting out his box of toys before, not even on a first date, but not this time. This time was different. This time was special. John decided not to make any plans. He put the box on the nightstand and resolved to play it by ear.


John got dressed in a pair of tight black leather pants and a black shirt, complete with his usual wristbands and thunderbolt earring, and then sat back and waited for Rodney to arrive.


This time Rodney wasn’t late. There was a knock on the door at precisely six p.m. and John crossed the room to open it, his heart doing a little flip in his chest as he went.


Rodney was standing outside looking just as nervous as John felt – and completely edible too. He was wearing a pair of soft black chinos that clung to his ass spectacularly, and a loose vivid-blue silk shirt that made his eyes shine an intense shade of blue to match it. John took one look at him, grabbed him by the arm, pulled him into the room, pushed him up against the wall, and kissed him. Rodney hung there, loose and boneless under John’s hands, surrendering utterly and completely to the hungry kiss.


“God I’ve missed you,” John told him when he finally allowed Rodney to come up for air.


“Really? Well, that’s…good. And surprising. But good too. Definitely good,” Rodney babbled and John grinned, glad that he wasn’t the only one who was nervous.


“You look fantastic,” John told him. “I meant to tell you that yesterday but I was too distracted by how hot you looked.”


“Hot?” Rodney was clearly trying to look nonchalant but failing miserably. “Well, I mean, obviously I’m a very handsome man, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been called hot before.”


“Oh you’re hot,” John grinned. “I thought I was going to have to fight off those botanists in the mess hall yesterday when they saw you.”


“There were botanists in the mess hall yesterday?” Rodney looked surprised. “I only remember you, looking all cool with a mug of coffee.”


John laughed at that – cool was the last thing he’d felt sitting in the mess hall yesterday morning, convinced Rodney wasn’t going to show, but he decided not to tell Rodney that.


“What happened to your hair? I noticed you’d done something to it yesterday.” John used that comment as an excuse to run his fingers through his sub’s wavy locks. They were soft and silky under his touch.


“Oh that. I, uh, got Carson to lop a couple of inches off the ends – tidy it up,” Rodney admitted, flushing slightly.


“You got Carson to do it?” John raised an eyebrow.


“Yeah – in the middle of the night.” Rodney winced slightly. “I think I have to stop calling on Carson in the middle of the night. He’s always so grumpy. Plus, he had Ford with him again. Those two are such a bad combination.”


“Oh, I don’t know. Ford is young and eager to please, and Carson likes to spoil his subs. I suspect they make a good couple,” John said, surprised by the news all the same.


“They make a terrible couple,” Rodney disagreed. “Carson needs someone older and more mature, someone he can talk to. Sleeping with Ford must be like having to permanently restrain an over-excited puppy.”


John snorted at that, because Rodney kind of had a point.


“Anyway, they’re not a couple,” Rodney rambled on. “They’re just playing. Ford has it bad for Teyla, and Carson’s just lonely.”


“Oh.” John felt a pang of sympathy for Carson. The doctor had been such a good friend to him during his heartache over Rodney, and he’d never considered that Carson might be looking for a love affair of his own.


“So, something smells good. I wanted to bring something with me, like wine or something, but I don’t have any, not that I drink much anyway – well, most of the time. Of course when I *do* get drunk it can be pretty spectacular. Chocolates would have worked, flowers seemed stupid, although I don’t know, some tops like those kinds of things, but let’s be honest I’m never gonna be one of those kinds of subs, and….”


“Rodney – shut up and walk over there,” John interrupted him.


“Over here? Why?” Rodney did as he was told anyway, walking over to the table.


“No reason – I just wanted to check out your ass in those pants,” John grinned at him.


“What’s the fascination with my ass?” Rodney wrinkled up his forehead.


“You’d need to see it as I do,” John grinned. “And probably be a top too, and think of all the fantastic things that can be done to an ass like that.”


Rodney flushed from his neck all the way up to the roots of his hair. John liked how vulnerable it made him look, and he went over and ran his fingers gently over the back of Rodney’s neck, stroking him like a cat. Rodney immediately relaxed beneath his touch, and leaned into him in a way that John was starting to find incredibly endearing.


He was unable to resist pulling Rodney in for another deep kiss and then, reluctantly, let go of him because otherwise they’d never get to eat, and he didn’t want Rodney passing out on him through low blood sugar just when he’d got him naked.


John started serving up their meal while Rodney hopped nervously around his quarters, talking non-stop, very little of it in any way coherent.


“So, I sent an email to Radek about the…but Carson can actually cut hair, although he’d deny it…wow, real leather…but no, sunburnt a bit from yesterday…amazing the city is still standing really as he’d cut off all the power and I was out of contact being kissed on a beach and…oh…are these your folks?”


John turned to find Rodney looking at the photo he’d put on the nightstand. “Yeah,” he nodded.


“You look like him – is he the biological?” Rodney asked, pointing at Adam. It was common for same gender couples to hook up with another couple of a different sex. They usually agreed to have two kids – one for each set of couples. How they went about it was up to them – sometimes all four parties would take part in the actual act, so they all felt included, and sometimes it was done by artificial insemination, depending on how the couples in question felt.


“Yeah.” John smiled, liking the rapt expression on Rodney’s face as he gazed at the photo.


“You were cute. Well, you still are,” Rodney babbled and then he looked stricken, as if he’d said too much.


“I’m glad you think so, considering the plans I have for later,” John grinned at him.


He couldn’t resist going over and putting a hand on Rodney’s shoulder to calm him down again. There was something so incredibly loveable about how clueless Rodney was – and John was amused by how easily panicked he was as well. He knew the scientist was socially dysfunctional but that didn’t faze him at all – he just enjoyed the fact that he knew how to calm Rodney down with a look, or a judicious stroking – and he suspected he’d find some other methods that worked well too.


“What’s this?” Rodney asked, picking up the box with the collar in it, and fumbling it between his big fingers.


“That’s not for tonight,” John said, smoothly intercepting the box and rescuing it from Rodney’s sweaty palms. “But maybe one day,” he said softly, putting the box back on the nightstand. “Now, you need to calm down, Rodney.”


Rodney gazed at him, his blue eyes stricken. “I’m getting stuff wrong,” he said. “I know that. Yesterday wasn’t so bad because I was pretty sure I didn’t like you and nothing was going to happen but then it did, and then you kept kissing me, and now I’m your sub and you want to *explore* me, and I wasn’t expecting any of this so I’m totally freaked out and you’re *hot* so I have no idea why you’ve picked me to be all deep and meaningful with when you could be shallow and have a whole harem of subs in your bed.”


“Ssh,” John said, running his thumb gently over Rodney’s lower lip. “You’re doing fine. You just need to relax. Come and eat – that should help.”


“I do like to eat,” Rodney agreed, looking happier.


“So, you came along to the beach yesterday even though you were pretty sure you didn’t like me?” John grinned as they sat down at the table. Rodney looked confused.


“Is that a bad thing to admit? But you’re military and I just assumed it would go wrong or be unpleasant because frankly, that would sum up my love life so far, but then it kept being good, and…nice, and the kissing was hot, and…before I knew it somehow I’d agreed to let you be my top, and I was totally not expecting that. Too much again?” He grabbed some bread and thrust it into his mouth, whole, and starting chewing. John frowned.


“No…well, maybe a little,” he said. “And you could try slowing down a little – both with the eating and the talking.”


“Slower. Right. Okay.” Rodney said, around his mouthful.


John grinned at him. God he loved this man, and that was kind of surprising of and by itself, because he’d never have imagined his ideal partner would be a brilliant scientist completely lacking in social skills. Rodney grew calmer as they ate, and he was duly impressed by John’s culinary skills, which was gratifying.


“God, this is fantastic! Better than that stuff they serve up in the mess hall, although actually I quite like a lot of that stuff. But this is *good*. How did you learn to cook?”


“My dad – Gil – insisted on it. He was big on self-sufficiency,” John replied. “Also, it was something we could share. Adam hated cooking and he was such a big personality it was good to have some quiet time alone, just me and Gil, cooking, side by side. I was too small to reach the worktop as a kid so Gil built me a special stool so I could see what I was doing.”


“Really? Wow. My parents lived on take out. I didn’t even know there was any other kind of food for years,” Rodney replied, finishing his meal and sitting back with a happy sigh.


They talked over coffee for a long time, and the conversation was easy and comfortable now that Rodney’s verbal diarrhoea had dried up. They came to a natural pause, and gazed at each other over their empty coffee mugs, and John cleared his throat, feeling his cock shift inside his pants in eager anticipation of what would come next.


“Right,” Rodney said, flushing again in response to the frankly sexual look that John was giving him. “Okay. It’s that time now I think. Right. Um…I should talk about the stuff I did with my previous tops. Oh, and I brought my list.” He fumbled around in his pocket, retrieved a folded piece of white paper, and slid it across the table at John.


“What’s this?” John frowned, taking the piece of paper.


“My list,” Rodney repeated blankly. “We’re…we’re negotiating now, right? Agreeing to what kind of stuff we like to do. It’s that time of the evening isn’t it?”


John gazed at him, feeling slightly winded. It was common practice for play partners to negotiate, but this wasn’t a sex game as far as John was concerned – and he’d never, ever had a play partner who’d provided him with a *list* before. Although, thinking about it, it was kind of a Rodney thing to do.


He picked up the piece of paper and glanced at it. Rodney seemed to have made a neat spreadsheet of all the sexual practices he could think of and then graded them according to whether he’d do them or not, and how he liked them done if he *did* do them. John read through the list until he’d had enough, and then he looked up, and, very slowly, and very purposefully, screwed up the list and threw it into the waste basket.


“What?” Rodney protested. “Why did you do that? That’s my list!”


“Rodney, I can’t make love to you using a list,” John told him, shaking his head.


“But…why not? It’s safe sex!” Rodney replied.


“Rodney, I’m not taking you as a play partner,” John explained. “I want to make love to you, not just fuck you.”


“There’s a difference?” Rodney frowned.


John threw his napkin on the table and got up angrily. “Yes there’s a difference and you know that. You’re just being obtuse!” he growled.


“I always negotiate,” Rodney said, pushing out his chin obstinately. John felt his heart sink, knowing *that* sign all too well. “All the safe subs do that. Are you an unsafe top, John?”


“No I’m damn well not!” John exploded, furious. Rodney looked startled.


“Okay, because you’re looking kind of unsafe right now,” he muttered. John took a deep breath.


“I’m just upset. Look, Rodney, I thought I made it clear to you yesterday – you’re my sub now, and we’re not playing at this. This is the real deal. I told you that yesterday. I told you I wasn’t playing.”


“I don’t understand,” Rodney said helplessly.


“It’s simple. I want you, Rodney; body, mind, heart and soul. I don’t want any damn list.”


“Supposing I don’t like what you want to do to me,” Rodney said suspiciously. “Because I’ve been there, done that, and it was really unpleasant.”


“I’m asking you to trust me,” John told him.


Rodney’s eyes clouded over, troubled. “What about a safe word?” he asked. John shook his head and Rodney’s eyes widened. “You ask me to trust you and you won’t even give me a safe word?”


“You don’t need a safe word because we aren’t playing!” John said desperately, wondering how the hell he could explain this. “If you don’t like something I do to you then you can just tell me! It’s not a scene, Rodney. It’s for real. I want your real responses.”


Rodney sat there, his shoulders tense and hunched. “I can’t do that,” he said miserably.


“Why not? Because it’s too intimate? Because you won’t let your guard down?” John pressed. Rodney just shook his head, mutely. John knelt down in front of him, and put his hands on his knees. “What are you so afraid of, Rodney? Letting someone in, letting someone care about you?”


“You’re asking me to go into this blind. To let you do anything you want.”


“I’m asking you to give up control – isn’t that what being a sub is all about?” John said, stroking Rodney’s knees gently. “You give up control and I take it? It’s a journey we can both go on together.”


Rodney gazed at him, shaking his head. “Maybe when I get to know you better,” he said. “Maybe we can build up to that? You could start out with the list and….”


“No. No, we do this together, from the beginning, feeling our way, or we don’t do it at all.” John told him firmly.


“I don’t see what’s wrong with just following the list,” Rodney snapped.


John got up, went over to the waste basket, and fished out the list. “How about this for starters,” he said, smoothing it out and putting it on the table, leaning over Rodney’s shoulder and pointing. “Anal penetration. You don’t do anal penetration? What the hell is that about?”


Rodney flushed. “I don’t like it. It hurts. I used to see this woman and she had this strap-on…and I hated it. Then there was this guy and…well, I only let him do it once because it was too painful, and I panicked, and it ended badly. There’s plenty of other stuff I like though. I give truly spectacular blowjobs if I do say so myself, so my tops don’t usually mind that I won’t do other stuff. Here, let me show you.”


He made to get up, but John put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him back down.


“I’m sure the blow jobs *are* truly spectacular,” he said. “But, Rodney, I’m going to want to make love to that fantastic ass of yours. That’s non-negotiable. There is no way I’m going to be able to have that ass so tantalisingly close and not be able to sink myself into it – into *you*. I want to make love to you every which way it’s possible – I want to throw you onto your back and look into your eyes when I enter you, and I want to lie behind you and open your ass cheeks and slide into you, slowly and lazily, and I want to put you on your hands and knees and take you from behind, raw, and fast, and hard, until you pass out from pleasure.”


Rodney stared at him, looking utterly stunned.


“If it hurts we can work on that,” John told him softly, running his fingers gently up and down Rodney’s cheek. “But I suspect it only hurts because you don’t trust anyone and that means you never relax. You never *really* let anyone in, Rodney, and this is just symbolic of that. Everything you say screams at people to keep their distance – all the sarcasm, all the snarking. I won’t be kept at bay, Rodney. I want you, and I want all of you, and I won’t be held back by some goddamn list!”


“I can’t!” Rodney shook his head.


“You can.” John took hold of his face, and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. Rodney shivered under his touch, and leaned in towards him, and John wrapped his arms around him and held him tight. “Surrender to me, Rodney,” he whispered when the kiss finished. “Have you ever really surrendered to anyone before, or has it always just been a game?”


“I don’t know. I can’t…I’ve never….”


John saw his answer in Rodney’s eyes. Rodney was undoubtedly an eager, compliant sub, but he never went outside his comfort zone, and never really submitted to the will of his top. He only gave as much of himself as he needed in order to get off. John empathised with him – he didn’t think he’d ever truly taken responsibility for any of his subs before – he’d been playing at it as much as Rodney had, taking what he needed in order to enjoy the sex, but never really taking control. Now he wanted to do that – he wanted to do this for real, and have Rodney come with him on the journey. He knew it wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but he suspected it would be all the sweeter for that.


“You won’t know if you don’t try,” John said, cradling Rodney’s face between his hands. “I think it’ll be good – and you can trust me, Rodney, I promise.”


“I’m not good at trusting people.”


“I know, and I can understand why, from everything you’ve told me about your upbringing,” John said quietly. Rodney stared at him from frightened blue eyes. “Come on. Come over here. Let’s do this together,” John said, getting up and taking hold of Rodney’s arm, leading him over to the bed. Rodney went, but then stopped before they got there.


“I can’t,” he said again. “I honestly can’t. This is never going to work, Colonel. You’re asking too much of me!”


They stood there, face to face, and then Rodney’s face crumpled, and he shook his head, and walked swiftly to the door.


“I’ll still be here, Rodney,” John told him. “If you change your mind.”


“Why can’t you do it my way?” Rodney said, desperately, turning in the doorway.


“Because I love you,” John told him, and it felt like such a relief to finally get the words out. Rodney’s eyes widened, and he looked completely and utterly shocked. “I mean it. I love you and I want to do this right – for both of us – and that means not doing it your way, Rodney.”


“You love me? How can you love me? When did this…?” Rodney just looked flummoxed.


“I’ve been in love with you for a long time – I just didn’t want to spook you. Look, Rodney, I told you – I’ve been celibate for over a year and I can wait a bit longer. I’ll wait for as long as it takes. You’re my sub, Rodney, and I’m not giving up on that.”


Rodney gazed at him blankly, his blue eyes completely at a loss. “I don’t understand any of this,” he muttered at last.


“Then take your time. Get your head around it,” John told him calmly. “I won’t pressure you but when you come back here, I’ll want your complete surrender, Rodney. I’ll want to love you and make love to you, to be both your top and your lover. I won’t accept anything less – and no list. Just you and me.”


Rodney shook his head. “I don’t think I can give you what you want. You should go and fall in love with someone else,” he said.


“Too late.” John gave a rueful grin. “And I’m not put off that easily. I’m not going anywhere, Rodney. I’m going to be here, waiting until you come to me.”


Rodney didn’t say anything more. He just turned, and walked out of the room, taking John’s heart and hopes with him.




Rodney returned to his room in a complete daze. He thought he had known what to expect from this evening, and he’d been looking forward to at least some good sex. He didn’t expect it to last, but he thought he’d take what was on offer while it was on offer. He’d asked around – discreetly – and nobody had anything negative to say about Sheppard. As far as it was possible to know, he assumed the colonel would be a safe enough top.


Rodney had never had a close or lasting relationship – he’d had crushes on people a couple of times, but had never been in love. In fact, his feelings of friendship for Carson and Elizabeth aside, the only person he’d ever loved was his sister. Yet here was John, standing there, saying he loved him, and Rodney didn’t know where that had come from.


None of his previous tops had been all that enamoured of him. One had simply enjoyed fucking with his mind, and one had found him amusing but too much like hard work. None of them had shown any indication of loving him, and, to be fair, Rodney had never wanted that. His parents were lousy role models for how relationships worked, and, as a result, he had never believed in romantic love. He remembered that picture of John’s parents, laughing at the camera, clearly very much in love, and sighed – the colonel obviously had a much rosier view of relationships than he did.


Rodney threw himself down on his bed and gazed at the ceiling. On one level he felt flattered – John was a good looking man, and, more than that, he was a popular man – intelligent, likeable, funny and strong. He had it all, and Rodney had no idea what attracted him to an irascible scientist like himself. On another level Rodney was just plain miffed – it had been a long time since he’d had any decent sex and John had looked hot this evening.


Rodney closed his eyes and remembered John’s long legs, encased in all that firm black leather, and the way he moved around the room, like a caged panther waiting to pounce. He’d wanted to be pounced upon, dammit! He’d wanted to be thrown down onto the bed and very comprehensively mauled if he was honest – but not without the safety net of ultimately being in control of the whole event. Rodney just didn’t trust anyone enough to give them that degree of power over him.


He’d learned his distrust at his mother’s capricious knee, knowing that any sign of affection from her was usually manufactured as part of her ongoing war with their father. His father had been even worse, demanding constant reassurance that Rodney loved him more than his mother, and sulking for weeks on end if Rodney did the slightest thing that made him suspect that wasn’t the case. Rodney had never been good at interpreting complex emotional signals, and between the manipulations of his mother, and the emotional demands of his father, he had ended up thoroughly confused. Now he simply didn’t trust that anyone might love him for himself – yet, try as he might, he couldn’t think what John’s ulterior motive might be.


What if…what if John was telling the truth? What if the man really was in love with him? What would it be like to surrender to him without the safety net of his list and his safe word? Could Rodney ever bring himself to trust someone that much that he’d just let go, let his guard down, let them in? He didn’t think so. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to, just that he *couldn’t*.


He hadn’t anticipated any of this. He had thought the beach date would be a disaster, and that John would soon lose interest in him, but instead there had been all those hot kisses, hundreds of them, searing his lips and leaving him dazed and confused. Then there had been that impossibly romantic stroll along the beach, hand in hand. For the first time in his life Rodney hadn’t tried to over-think the occasion – he’d just gone along with it and allowed himself to be swept up by it. But that was just one day, and Rodney was under no illusions that one day, no matter how romantic, could be the basis for a life-long relationship of the kind that John seemed to be suggesting.


Rodney spent a sleepless night, tossing and turning, trying to figure out a way he could have John but not on John’s terms, but he didn’t come up with a solution. He was just getting dressed the following morning when there was a knock on the door. He opened it and his heart immediately flipped when he saw John standing there, dark hair tousled, smiling at him.


“Morning, Rodney.” John leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek and Rodney just stared at him, wondering what the hell was going on. John had said he would wait, that there was no pressure – turning up here at the crack of dawn wasn’t Rodney’s definition of ‘no pressure’ and he thrust out his jaw belligerently.


“If you’re here about last night I haven’t changed my mind,” he snapped.


“I’m not.” John gave one of those deceptively lazy smiles. “I’m here because today is the first day of your drills, remember?”


“What?” Rodney glared at him. He’d completely forgotten about the stupid, hand-to-hand combat drills that the colonel was so intent on putting him through. “Oh. Well…why did you just kiss me?” he demanded.


“You’re my sub – I haven’t seen you since last night, and I was wishing you good morning. You think a kiss isn’t appropriate?” John raised an eyebrow.


“But…last night…we didn’t have sex!” Rodney blurted, because he felt that was somehow central to the whole discussion. John gazed at him steadily.


“No, we didn’t,” he drawled eventually, making it sound like he was talking to an imbecile. “Am I only supposed to be affectionate towards you if you put out?”


“Yes! No! Hell, I don’t know. I’m confused enough as it is,” Rodney grumbled.


“Well then let’s forget about that and get on with the drills,” John said and Rodney wasn’t happy about that, either, but at least it got them off the tricky discussion.


He ambled down to the practice room beside his top, and John rested his hand on Rodney’s shoulder as he always did when they walked anywhere these days. Rodney was still pondering the whole ‘you’re my sub’ comment. True, John had taken him as his sub and Rodney had formally accepted him as his top, but in light of what had happened the previous evening it didn’t *feel* like they were sub and top.


Major Lorne was waiting for them when they got to the practice room and they got warmed up with some stretches, and then John pointed to the mat.


“Okay – we need to figure out what to do if you get captured again,” he said. “Like the other day.”


“The chances of that happening again must be very low,” Rodney protested.


“But it could happen,” John said firmly and there was a look in those hazel eyes of his that said that no matter how obstinate Rodney could be, when John got an idea into his head he could be equally stubborn. Rodney sighed – on this at least he could see that he’d have to give in.


“All right. Whatever,” he said sulkily.


“Okay. Now, Lorne, if you’d like to grab Rodney from behind, one arm across his neck… that’s it.”


Rodney stood there, while Lorne did as he was told, holding Rodney in a pretty secure neck lock. Rodney didn’t like the sensation – he could hear Lorne’s breathing in his ear and the man’s arms were slightly sweaty across his body. Rodney fought down an urge to twist out of the major’s grasp, and looked expectantly towards John for further instructions. John was just standing there though, glaring at them, breathing heavily, a frown creasing his forehead, his hands clenched into fists by his side.


“Well?” Rodney demanded. “Are you going to show me some fancy footwork or what?”


“No,” John said, in a tight voice. “This isn’t going to work like this. Lorne, take your hands off him. I’ll play the part of your attacker, Rodney.”


“Oh for god’s sake! What the hell is wrong…?” Rodney began but then he had a sudden flash of startled realisation; even though the colonel had told Lorne to grab him, he wasn’t at all happy to see another top with his arms around Rodney. John was…jealous?


John stomped towards him, exchanging places with Lorne, and, standing behind Rodney, slid his arms around him, holding him tight. Rodney’s body behaved the way it always did when John got close to him – he went completely limp in his arms, and leaned back into John. He was annoyed with himself, and wished his body didn’t betray him like this whenever John was around, but he didn’t seem to have any control over himself.


John was still breathing heavily but, unlike with Lorne, Rodney *liked* the sound. It made him glaze over and lean back even more. John’s arms tightened around Rodney, and they were now pressed much closer together than was strictly necessary. Rodney could feel the hard outline of the colonel’s body against his back, and he loved the way it felt to be captured, imprisoned within John’s arms like this.


“Okay,” John said, in a low tone, directly into his ear. “When I say the word, I want you to come towards us, Lorne. Rodney, don’t do anything until I tell you.” Rodney’s cock started to stir in his pants at the sound of his top’s voice, so close and commanding.


“No, no, no. This isn’t going to work either!” Rodney said, trying to elbow his way out of John’s grasp. John released him.


“Why the hell not?” he demanded.


“For a very similar reason to why it didn’t work for you when Lorne was playing at being my attacker,” Rodney growled, glancing down at his pants which were ever so slightly tented at the front. John glanced down too, and a look of realisation flashed into his eyes. Lorne, standing behind them, didn’t see any of this.


“Oh,” John muttered.


“Yes. Well.” Rodney flushed, feeling embarrassed. “Is there any other way of doing this?”


“Can you think of one?” John shrugged. Rodney shrugged back. “Okay then,” John said, in a falsely bright tone. “Let’s leave that one and try something else. How about…what to do if someone comes at you with a knife?”


The rest of the drill session passed without incident and Rodney took a shower, got changed, and set off for his lab. He was surprised, at noon, when John arrived in the lab, and settled his long body into one of the chairs, swinging on it aimlessly.


“Were you waiting for something, Colonel?” Rodney asked tetchily, still far too confused by everything that was happening to be polite.


“You. It’s lunchtime,” John told him with that lazy smile of his.


“I’m busy,” Rodney said tersely, because it was freaking him out that John was behaving just like he had before Rodney had refused to sleep with him.


“Not too busy to eat,” John said. “You like eating.”


“I know, but right now I’m busy.”


“Then finish up and we can have lunch.”


Rodney glanced up at the slight note of steel in the colonel’s voice. John’s hazel eyes glowed in that deceptively good humoured way but he clearly had no intention of going anywhere.


“Hypoglycaemic remember?” John told him.


“And I’ve managed the condition perfectly well for the past 37 or so years, Colonel,” Rodney snapped at him. “Who appointed you as my personal health supervisor anyway?”


John shrugged. “You did. A couple of days ago. On the beach,” he said softly. Rodney gazed at him, stricken. John *meant* it. He really was that kind of top – concerned, caring, but kind of no-nonsense too. Rodney wondered what he’d do if Rodney told him where to go…but then he remembered that punishment session and decided he didn’t want to risk it. Not that he thought John would throw him over his knee right here and now when there were people around but… the truth was he didn’t know John well enough to know *what* he’d do. With a pained sigh, Rodney finished up and allowed his top to escort him to the mess hall.


Of course he could just repudiate him, Rodney thought to himself a few days later, as John once again made one of his small but serious suggestions – this time that Rodney was working too late and should leave the lab and go to bed.


“I haven’t finished,” Rodney told him curtly, toying with the idea of repudiation. All he had to do was tell John their arrangement was over, that he wasn’t his sub any more, and they could put a stop to all this…and yet…something was stopping him from doing that.


“You’re beat. You’ve been working on this for eighteen hours solid and you need some rest,” John told him firmly.


“It’s my job,” Rodney snapped at him. The lab was empty so there was no danger of anyone overhearing them. Rodney wasn’t sure where they stood on that anyway. He’d accepted John as his top but they weren’t exactly at the sharing a plate stage yet so nobody knew about it. Rodney hadn’t even told Carson – he was too confused by the whole not-having-sex thing and he was pretty sure he knew what Carson’s advice on *that* would be.


“It’ll still be there tomorrow. We’re not under attack or anything. This can wait,” John said, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. It was the ultimate in mixed messages, Rodney decided. John pretending to be lazily unconcerned, but the crossed arms making it clear he meant what he was saying.


“We should maybe have a talk about how this works between us,” Rodney said, gesturing with his fingers back and forth between the two of them. “You see, I’ve never had a top that really cared what I ate, or what time I got to bed before. Mostly they only cared that I sucked them off or genuflected appropriately at their feet. You, on the other hand, seem not to care that I’m not sucking you off, but you *do* seem to care when I work too hard.”


“Ah – so you admit you’re working too hard,” John said, with a grin. Rodney fought down a sigh of exasperation. “Rodney – I told you, I love you,” John said. “I care about you and I’ve seen how you don’t always take very good care of yourself. You collapsed on me just a few weeks ago remember?”


Rodney thrust his jaw out. “There were circumstances there that….”


“I know.” John nodded. “But I’m not sure how much those circumstances have changed, Rodney. I think you’re doing better than you were – you sure as hell *look* better.” His eyes travelled appreciatively over Rodney’s body in a way that made Rodney’s cock start to harden. “But I don’t think you’re completely out of the woods yet, and I want to make sure you stay on track. A lot has happened to you these past couple of months and, now I’m your top, I want to make sure you don’t backslide.”


“Are you honestly telling me that you care what I eat and what time I get to bed? Because it seems to me that this is more of a control thing,” Rodney muttered.


John’s body language changed completely at that – and Rodney knew he’d just pissed him off. John pushed himself away from the wall and walked over to where Rodney was standing.


“I know you’re not used to someone caring about you so I’m going to let that remark pass – this time,” John told him, in a low, ominous tone. “But don’t ever talk to me like that again. We haven’t talked about discipline yet, but we can, if you really want.”


Rodney stared at him, a little shaken by the sincerity in his top’s voice. John’s expression softened, and he reached out an unexpected arm, looped it around Rodney’s neck, pulled him close, and kissed him gently on the lips.


“You have to get used to having someone around, Rodney,” he said softly. “You’re not on your own any more.”


“So you seriously didn’t come here for a blowjob?” Rodney muttered into John’s neck. John laughed.


“No. I don’t care how truly spectacular they are. I want your heart, Rodney, and I’ll see that in
your eyes when I take you for the first time. Not that I’m not looking forward to the blowjobs too but there’s plenty of time for that.” He kissed Rodney again, and then glanced around the lab. “Take ten minutes to finish up and then get some rest, Rodney,” he said, before walking towards the door.


“Wait – you’re not going to hang around to make sure I do?” Rodney asked, surprised.


John shook his head. “Nope. I trust you,” he replied, and the little curving grin on his face made it clear that he was hoping that one day Rodney would return the favour.


Rodney thought about this for the next ten minutes. If John *had* hung around and made a big deal out of it then Rodney knew he’d have fought him on the subject tooth and nail – and won – but the fact that John had just made his point and left struck a chord with him somehow.


He *was* feeling kind of tired, and it did feel nice to have someone who cared about him and worried if he worked himself into the ground, so, ten minutes later, he packed up his stuff and left the lab. He just hoped that John wasn’t lurking anywhere, watching him, because he really didn’t want him to know that he was obeying his orders.


A week later, Rodney found himself offworld with the team, on the trail of another ZPM. There was some kind of power-dampening field that meant they had to land the puddle jumper and walk for a couple of days towards the energy signal.


Rodney was in two minds about the whole expedition. On the one hand, he was excited by any kind of mission that had the word ‘ZPM’ in it. On the other hand, the idea of a two day trek through the planet of unending rainfall didn’t appeal to him in the slightest. And then there was the fact that he’d be spending even more time than usual with his erstwhile top, about whom he had some very conflicting emotions….


Rodney shouldered his backpack with a sigh as they set off. John wasn’t an easy man to avoid but at least when Rodney was working he could forget about the dilemma in his personal life. In the safety of his lab, and his quarters, he was quite resolute about the fact that he would never agree to John’s terms, but when he was around the actual man himself, his body seemed to have ideas of its own, and he was finding it increasingly hard to control his responses to the colonel.


Today was no different. Rodney found himself walking behind Sheppard, his gaze fixed on the colonel’s ass in his BDUs, painfully aware that even straggling along like this, rain pouring down his waterproof cape and trickling into his eyes, he was semi-erect.


It was a miserable trek, and the rain never let up once – and neither did Rodney’s litany of complaints, which he kept up continuously as he got more and more damp and cold. John remained ridiculously cheerful throughout though, and every now and then he’d turn and give Rodney what was probably supposed to be an encouraging smile. Rodney could barely bring himself to glower back in return.


They decided to camp for the night as dusk fell. They had brought two small, lightweight tents with them, and found some shelter beneath some tall trees which kept the worst of the rain off them.


“We have to sleep in those?” Rodney grumbled, surveying the small tents. “The ground is bumpy! I’ll wake up with backache and be unable to walk tomorrow – that’s if I get any sleep at all because I’m damp and it’s cold and I can never get to sleep if my feet are cold. I’ve always hated camping anyway. It’s uncomfortable, and there are bugs.”


“Is there anything you haven’t whined about today?” Ford snapped, looking close to losing his temper.


“That’s enough.” John stepped between them with one of those calm smiles of his, with just a hint of steel beneath the surface. “I always thought camping was kind of fun,” he added, radiating a kind of insane good humour that was hard to resist, and which succeeded in diffusing the situation. “And I think the tents look kind of cosy.”


Rodney rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything more, and Ford just glared at him and turned away. They ate, huddled together under a shelter Teyla had constructed from their waterproof capes, and then there was nothing else to do but go to bed.


“I’ll share with Teyla,” Ford said eagerly, before anyone else got a chance to put in a request for a sleeping partner. “Sorry, Colonel,” he grinned, flashing John a rueful smile and grimacing slightly in Rodney’s direction when he thought the scientist wasn’t looking. Rodney felt his mouth settle into a crooked line, and his jaw jut out. Much as he was used to these kinds of casual jibes, a lifetime of familiarity with them didn’t make them any more pleasant to receive.


“Sounds good to me,” John replied amiably, putting a hand on Rodney’s shoulder and squeezing. Ford looked a little surprised but he was so eager to get some alone time with Teyla that he just laughed, and threw himself into the tent. Rodney glowered after him. He wondered whether Teyla would ever take pity on Ford and put him out of his misery but somehow he doubted it. There was something cool and aloof about the Athosian woman, and he suspected she was the kind of top who chose her subs very carefully indeed.


Rodney realised that John was watching him with amused hazel eyes, and now, suddenly, he woke up to the fact that he was about to spend an entire night crushed up at very close quarters with a man he had spent the past couple of weeks avoiding, wherever possible. John opened the tent and pulled the flap aside, and, with a sigh, Rodney trudged over and got in.


The tents were tiny – just enough room for two people to sleep side by side. Rodney unpacked his bedroll and sat down on top of it to remove his boots. There was no point getting completely undressed, so he just loosened his belt, took off his jacket, and unfurled his bedroll. John slid in beside him and zipped up the tent.


“I’m sorry about this,” Rodney told him. “I mean…obviously it’s awkward.”


“Why?” John took off his jacket and hung it from the roof of the tent to dry out, then toed off his boots and slid into his bedroll.


“Well, because…you know…” Rodney floundered. “I’ll put my pack down the middle so we don’t have to get that close.” He put his backpack in place, and then scooted over as far as possible towards the edge of the tent.


John smiled at him, and then leaned over, removed the backpack, and slung it down by Rodney’s feet. Then he reached out, put one arm around Rodney, and pulled him back against him so they were snuggling close together in the small tent.


“Uhh…” Rodney said.


“Relax,” John told him. “You’re my sub. I want to hold you.”


Rodney lay there, blinking. Truth was, being held by John was extremely nice, and his body didn’t seem to need much ordering to relax – it was already melting back against John the way it always did when the colonel got close. He felt John’s lips against the back of his neck, bestowing a fond little kiss, and sighed.


“I’m not having sex with you,” he said, in case John had misinterpreted that sigh as a sign of weakness.


“I know. Apart from anything else I doubt you brought your list along,” John said, a definite note of amusement in his voice.


“Ha ha,” Rodney responded, mirthlessly. John laughed into his ear, and then kissed him on the back of his neck again.


“I’m looking forward to just holding you all night,” John told him. “Feels good.” He squeezed his arm around Rodney, and pulled him in even closer. Rodney sighed again, and closed his eyes. It did, definitely, feel good.


Despite his dire prognostications that he wouldn’t get any sleep, he actually slept like a log – better than he ever slept in his own bed back on Atlantis, and he woke, around dawn, to find himself lying with his head on John’s chest, and his arms wrapped around his top’s body. He blinked, trying to figure out where he was, and then he remembered, and came to. He hoped John was asleep and hadn’t noticed that his sub was lying almost on top of him, in a pose of abandoned surrender, and he started to move but froze when he felt John’s hands ghost gently over his back. He glanced up, and saw the flash of John’s eyes and teeth in the dim morning light.


“Hey – you’re awake.” John moved his hand up and wrapped it in his hair, stroking softly. Rodney wanted to tear himself away but it felt too warm and too good, and, with a whimper, he let his head drop onto John’s chest again. They rested there for awhile, and then John’s hand went lower, dipping down the back of Rodney’s pants and covering his ass. Rodney’s cock, already semi-hard, perked up even more.


“One day, when you’re ready, I’m going to undress you – very slowly,” John murmured into his ear. Rodney went quite still, all his senses flaring into life at the promise in John’s words. “Not until then though – I want to savour the moment,” John told him, and his hand began to slowly, rhythmically, stroke Rodney’s bottom. “There are so many things I want to do to you,” John whispered. “So many things I know you’ll enjoy – and maybe even a few you won’t enjoy, but I’ll make you submit to them just because it’ll be so sweet to see the look of surrender in your eyes. I think you’ll get off on that, once you give yourself up to it. I think it’ll make you come harder than you’ve ever come in your life before, but first you need to learn to let go a little.”


Rodney swallowed down hard, his entire body trembling in response to his top’s words. The stroking was so seductive, and now John was cupping his hand around one of his butt cheeks, and kneading it. Rodney bit down a little whimper.


“I bet you look beautiful when you surrender, Rodney,” John was whispering. “I bet you shiver and shake and yell and scream – I don’t want you to keep anything in. I like the idea of how responsive you’ll be when I slide my tongue into your ass.


Rodney moaned, and pressed himself against John. “Not now though,” John told him. “Not here. When you’re ready. When you trust me.”


Rodney raised his head and looked at John in the half-light. John grinned at him, his teeth flashing again.


“God you’re good,” Rodney sighed. “And evil.”


“I try my best,” John grinned at him. “Now, roll over and lie on your side, facing me.”


“Why?” Rodney asked suspiciously.


“Because I want to kiss you, and I believe we’ve established that kissing is one of the things you’ll do without me having to refer to the list,” John said, moving his body so that Rodney rolled onto his side next to him, and they were lying there, face to face. Then John reached out, stroked Rodney’s cheek, and pulled him in for a kiss.


Kissing shouldn’t really be this good, Rodney thought to himself. He’d never really seen the appeal of it all that much before – it was just something that happened as part of sex. John though, seemed to enjoy kissing without anything else happening at all, and Rodney was starting to get a subtle appreciation for that himself.


When John was kissing him he lost all sense of himself – there wasn’t some small section of his brain working overtime pondering some equation, or wondering if his top was getting bored with him – or whether he was getting bored with his top…with John all he could think about was being kissed. John’s mouth was always warm and hungry, and his kisses were territorial, claiming, without being overly aggressive. His arms slipped around Rodney’s shoulders and pulled him in closer, kissing him deeply, and Rodney gave himself up entirely to the sensation.


Rodney lost track of time as he was kissed more forcefully and comprehensively than he’d ever been kissed in his life, and he really did think he would be quite content to lie here forever, just being kissed by John.


A noise outside startled them, and before Rodney knew what was happening John had pushed him against the wall of the tent.


“Keep still and don’t move,” he hissed, throwing himself silently towards the entrance to the tent and unzipping it cautiously. His gun seemed to have miraculously appeared in his hand, and he slid out into the grey world outside. Rodney untangled himself from his bedroll and followed him out, just in time to see John wing off a shot into the distance.


“What was that?” Rodney asked, panicked. John turned, an angry look on his face.


“Some kind of wild animal – a cross between a bear and a wolf by the look of it – and I thought I told you to keep still and don’t move?”


“You could have been in danger,” Rodney replied, his jaw jutting out. “And nobody ever kissed me like that before so I want to make sure you stay alive to kiss me some more.”


John’s angry expression turned into one of amused exasperation and at that moment Teyla appeared, half-dressed, sticks at the ready.


“I heard gunfire,” she said.


“Just a wolf thing – but it’s light so we should get moving,” John told her. She nodded and disappeared back into the tent.


“You and I really need to talk about this whole ‘doing what you’re told on missions’ thing,” John told Rodney, as they returned to their own tent.


“Well, while we’re at it we could also talk about your insane fixation with unquestioning obedience,” Rodney muttered, feeling a wave of annoyance that had little to do with their current situation and more to do with his growing sense of sexual frustration.


“What is it with you and doing the exact opposite of whatever I tell you to?” John replied as they went back into the tent and started pulling on their boots.


“I’m just saying, if it weren’t for you we could be having hot sex. Lots of it,” Rodney snapped, hopping around to try and get his feet into his still damp boots. They seemed to have shrunk overnight.


“Ditto,” John replied, sitting down and tying up his own bootlaces, only with more finesse.


Rodney stumbled, then fell over John’s backpack and landed beside him, gazing up at him miserably.


“Do you think this is just going to come down to which one of us is the most stubborn?” he sighed.


John smiled at him, and ran his thumb over Rodney’s lower lip – a gesture that Rodney was starting to become familiar with.


“No, I don’t,” he said. “This isn’t about either of us being stubborn – it’s about you learning to trust me, and I think you will, one day – and I’m happy to wait until that happens.”


Rodney gazed at him, lost for words. John was so sure of himself – he seemed to think this was so inevitable, and he gave no sign at all that it was remotely likely he’d ever give in. They finished dressing, packed up the tent, and got moving. Rodney followed on behind John, just as he had the previous day, only today it was even worse because he’d just spent a whole night wrapped up in his top’s arms and now he wanted more.


They found a ZPM – but it belonged to a group of children who needed it as a defence against the Wraith so they returned home empty-handed, once more. Rodney was unsettled by the whole experience, and on their first night back he lay in his bed, unable to sleep, just remembering how it had felt to be held in John’s arms.


He tossed and turned for hours, and then, eventually, gave up and walked furiously down the hallway to John’s quarters. He thumped on the door and John opened it, blearily, several seconds later. He was only wearing a pair of boxers, and Rodney paused, all memory of why he was here temporarily vanishing from his brain as he took in the sight of a nearly naked John Sheppard. He’d seen glimpses of John’s body before, clad only in a towel, some months previously, but that had been before the man became his top. Now…Rodney licked his suddenly dry lips as his gaze wandered over a lean, washboard stomach, and a slim but tautly muscled upper body, with a fine covering of dark chest hair.


“Is there an emergency?” John’s eyes were glinting with amusement, and that was enough to make Rodney tear his gaze away.


“Yes! No! I’m very angry with you!” Rodney said, pushing past him into the room. When he turned, that lazy grin was back on John’s face. “I’m your sub. You can’t seriously tell me you don’t want some sexual favours,” he growled.


John gazed at him searchingly. “You know what I want,” he said.


“Well, leaving that aside, we could at least be having some kind of sex in the meantime,” Rodney told him.


“Just you, me and your list?” John raised an eyebrow. “I don’t do threesomes.”


“You’re an insane control freak!”


“So are you.”


“I’m just being safe! You’re the one who wants total submission to his every whim!”


“Hello! Top!” John shrugged, grinning.


Rodney gazed at him, helplessly. Then he went over to John, pressed himself against him, and kissed him. John wrapped his hands around Rodney’s body and held him tight, returning the kiss hungrily.


“Let me suck you,” Rodney whispered throatily when the kiss finished. “Let me show you how good it can be if we do things my way.” He started to get down on his knees, only to find that John had a tight grip on his elbows.


“No,” John growled.


“Oh come on. You want it.” Rodney pushed his hips forward and found John’s hard cock poking through his boxer shorts. “You can’t deny you want it,” Rodney purred, his hand going southwards. John caught it before it got there.


“No,” he said again, firmly.


“For god’s sake!” Rodney yelled, angry all over again. “You can’t be serious. You have to want more than just kissing and cuddling!”


“I do,” John agreed. “But I don’t just want more – I want everything, and until that’s what you’re prepared to give me then I’ll wait, thank you.”


Rodney gazed at him, helplessly. John reached out, and pulled him into an embrace.


“You know, the kissing and cuddling are pretty nice,” he murmured into Rodney’s ear, his hands gently stroking Rodney’s back, soothing him.


“I hate you,” Rodney told him, relaxing helplessly into the embrace.


“Yeah. I know.” John pressed a kiss to the side of Rodney’s face. “Now, if you want to spend the night here, with me just holding you, like I did in the tent, then I will. You only had to come and ask – the ranting and raving weren’t necessary.”


“What? I…” Rodney drew back. “I did not come here for that!” he snapped, angry and startled at being so easily read. How could John possibly have known?


“Okay then.” John pushed him away. “Then we’re done. Goodnight, Rodney.” He took hold of Rodney’s face, kissed his forehead, and then led him firmly to the door and pushed him out into the hallway. “You can keep on lying to yourself, Rodney but don’t lie to me,” he said, and then he thumped the door control and the door slid shut.


Rodney stayed looking at the shut door for a few minutes, wondering what to do. He thought of John, getting into bed again, and longed to crawl in beside him, and just lie there next to him for the remainder of the night, but in order to do that he’d have to admit that was why he’d come here tonight. Why was it easier to come here and ask for sex than it was to ask for company and closeness, he wondered to himself? Why was it easier for this to be about sex than for it to be about love?


Rodney hunched his shoulders and walked away, disconsolately, back to his room. He got into bed but didn’t sleep. He didn’t expect to.



End of Part Nine




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