General & Dr Sheppard: 2. Culture Clash
General Sheppard was relieved when he finally got his husband back to their quarters. It had been a long and difficult day so far and he was glad to finally be alone with someone he didn’t have to explain himself to.
“At least the city looks the same,” Rodney was saying as they entered the room. “I know these aren’t our quarters and we don’t have our things, but at least when we’re alone we can pretend it’s our universe and not theirs. These people are so weird. Are any of them even in relationships? They all seem to be single. Just walking around in their polite little world without…”
John decided he’d heard enough—if you let Rodney go on, then you could quite literally find yourself listening to him all day. He grabbed his husband’s arm, pushed him against the wall, and kissed him hard on the mouth.
“Unnnhhh,” Rodney finished, melting into him in that very satisfying way he had. His husband’s large hands slid down the back of his leather pants and caressed his butt and John sighed and went back in for another deep kiss. Rodney opened up for him, his mouth devouring John’s hungrily, and John gathered him up in his arms and held him tight. Damn, but it had been a long time! Four days was too long considering how frequently they made love when they were together. John’s cock was already rock hard and he couldn’t wait to get his husband naked and make love to him. Rodney had his own ideas, though, and when John released him, he sank immediately to his knees and reached eagerly for the front of his husband’s leather pants. John grinned, and entwined his hand in Rodney’s wavy hair. This would do—in fact, this would do very well. It’d take the edge off his sexual appetite so when he did finally sink himself into Rodney’s ass, he’d be able to make love to him for a very long time.
Rodney opened his fly and released John’s hard cock and then paused for a moment and gazed up at his husband for permission to suck.
“Oh, yeah—get me off, Rodney,” John urged, moving so that he had his back to the wall now and could lean against it. Rodney didn’t need any more encouragement than that and he dipped his head and took John’s hard cock in his mouth with one expert swallow. John sighed. Rodney really was extraordinarily good at giving head. He stroked Rodney’s hair gently as Rodney deep-throated him and it wasn’t long before he was coming down Rodney’s throat, and then Rodney was cleaning him up with little laps of his tongue, before getting to his feet with a satisfied smile on his face.
“God I missed you,” Rodney said, sighing and leaning against him in that way he had, like a cat. It always made John feel good to have Rodney’s solid body entwined around him, and he wrapped his arms around his husband and sniffed his hair contentedly.
“Missed you, too,” John breathed, reconnecting with the smell and taste and feel of his husband.
“Four days without seeing you and then this had to happen,” Rodney sighed.
“Get over it, Rodney,” John told him. “It happened—but we’re both okay. It’s not like either of us died. I know what your problem is. You’re coiled like a spring. In fact, when you’re this uptight you sound just like Dr. McKay.”
“Hey, I just gave you a Rodney Sheppard special blow job and now you’re insulting me?” Rodney protested.
“It was a very nice blow job,” John grinned, grabbing his husband’s head and looking deep into his eyes. “But you are twitchy as hell, you’ve gone four days without me followed by all these shenanigans, and you need taking down.”
Rodney’s blue eyes widened appealingly at that and John felt his cock twitch again. He might have only just come, but Rodney could make him hard again in no time at all.
“Is that what you’re going to do?” Rodney whispered. “Take me down?”
John smiled affectionately and leaned in for another gentle kiss. “Oh, yeah,” he replied. “Now, get your clothes off and get over to the bed so I can take a good look at you.”
He disengaged himself and walked over to the bed, then slowly undid his belt, knowing that Rodney was watching him, those eager eyes of his missing nothing. John put the belt and all the items hanging from it on the nightstand, then removed his vest and boots before sitting down on the bed. Then he leaned back and gazed at Rodney.
“So…clothes?” John raised an eyebrow. “I don’t want to have to rip them off you because the only other things you have to wear are what Dr. McKay brought you and somehow I don’t think you’re going to look as cute in those.”
Rodney snorted at that, and quickly tugged his tee shirt over his head. He made short work of his boots, kicked off his pants and socks, and then came to stand by the bed, naked. John gazed at him for a good long time, feasting on the sight of his husband’s naked flesh. Dammit, but Rodney turned him on so much. He loved the broad chest and shoulders, the fine covering of chest hair, and the compact hips. But John didn’t miss the tense shoulder muscles and the way Rodney was holding his body, stiff and hunched. Rodney was stressed out, and John was going to make sure that he got exactly what he needed. His gaze rested for a long time on Rodney’s swollen cock. He knew his husband had to be desperate to get off, but he also knew he had to take his time and make this really work—for both of them.
“Looks pleased to see me,” John commented with a nod at Rodney’s cock.
“Yeah, like it’s never not pleased to see you, General Tightpants,” Rodney shot back.
“Shame it’s not allowed to come, then,” John told him pleasantly.
Rodney sighed. “You’re evil,” he muttered.
“I know.” John grinned at him. “Now turn around—let’s see that beautiful ass of yours.” He twirled his fingers and Rodney turned, with an insouciant swing of his hips, to reveal his butt. John gave a happy sigh. He loved all of Rodney, but he had a special fondness for his husband’s ass. It was just such a nice ass—round and firm and so eminently biteable, spankable and fuckable.
“Mmmm…hold still,” John said, grabbing Rodney around the waist and placing a big kiss on his husband’s butt. Rodney giggled, and John’s heart positively sang at the sound. He hadn’t heard Rodney giggle once since they’d arrived in this universe, and it was a sound he’d missed. He kissed Rodney’s butt some more, and then sank his teeth gently into it, just enough to leave a little mark because he liked marking Rodney’s flesh, and after four days away, all his previous marks had faded. He knew Rodney got off on being marked, too, and his husband gave an excited little gurgle and glanced over his shoulder.
“I might have known it would only take you a few minutes to make sure you put the Sign of John back on me,” he commented.
John laughed. “I hate it when there’s not something of me here,” he said, stroking Rodney’s ass appreciatively. “Your whole body is like a blank canvas—and this ass of yours is a work of art of all by itself so it doesn’t need that many enhancements; a nice little bite mark or handprint just sets off the color of your skin perfectly. Now come here.”
He reached out and pulled Rodney down on top of him. He liked this—him fully clothed, Rodney butt naked. It felt sexy as hell. He kissed Rodney hard on the lips again and Rodney moaned and rubbed against him.
“Are you sure about the whole not coming thing?” Rodney whimpered when John released him.
“Very sure,” John said firmly. He knew that Rodney would hold on because he’d commanded him to and his husband would never disobey him on this, but he also knew that the initial frustration would only add an extra frisson to their lovemaking and Rodney would come all the more explosively when he was allowed to.
“God, I hate you,” Rodney sighed, kissing his way along John’s jawline and ending up at his mouth again.
“Mmmm…yeah…I’m really getting that whole hating vibe off you right now,” John laughed, placing his hands on Rodney’s butt and squeezing. “How long has it been since I last spanked you?” he asked, stroking the soft skin affectionately.
“I don’t know. A week?” Rodney glanced at him.
“That would explain why you’re so mouthy, then,” John said. “You really shouldn’t go more than a couple of days without being spanked.”
“Are you going to spank me first or fuck me first?” Rodney asked, lying contentedly in his husband’s arms, his naked body laid out over John’s clothed one like a feast.
“Neither—I’m going to play with you first,” John said, pushing Rodney up onto his haunches, and then pulling him down again so that his chest was level with John’s mouth. “First these…” John closed his mouth around one of Rodney’s hard nipples and sucked down on it and Rodney moaned ecstatically. John rested his hands on Rodney’s butt as he worked, sucking forcefully. Rodney loved having his nipples played with and could take some quite rough play, but John wasn’t in the mood to do more than suck and nibble. Rodney was sighing, and his hands came to rest on John’s shoulders. John held him even tighter, and gave a little teasing bite to one of his nipples. Rodney squealed and drew back.
“As you were, Rodney,” John told him, pulling him back so that he was close again and going in for another bite. Rodney squealed again, wriggling in John’s grasp, but he stayed where he was and let John torment his nipples some more. John bit down gently and then soothed the sore nub with his warm tongue before repeating the action and Rodney was moaning now, begging John to stop, for the torture to end, but sighing in pleasure all the same.
Finally John drew back. “Over my knee,” he said throatily, grabbing Rodney and pulling him down over his knee. Rodney’s legs were splayed, revealing just a pucker of asshole, pink and inviting. John reached for the lube, rubbed it liberally over his fingers and then slid one deep into Rodney’s waiting ass.
“Oh, shit…” Rodney sighed, opening up under John’s questing finger. John kept the finger in place and then slapped Rodney’s ass with his other hand. Rodney’s buttocks gave a little wobble as they were spanked and John loved the large pink handprint he left in his wake. It soon faded and John slid another finger inside Rodney, as deep as it would go, and slapped his ass again, harder this time. Rodney gave a deep moan of frustration.
“I really need to come!” he cried.
“I know,” John said soothingly.
“Can I?” Rodney asked.
“Nope,” John replied, spanking him again.
“I’m dying here!” Rodney complained.
“If you come before I say you can, then you’ll be sleeping on the floor tonight with a really sore ass and not in the bed with me with a pleasantly glowing one,” John told him. Rodney let out a wail of utter sexual frustration and John grinned to himself. This was what he loved about Rodney—his husband was in no way stoic. He wouldn’t hold on grimly because he’d been told to—no, he bitched, and whined, and wriggled, and wheedled—and John loved it. His own cock was now hard again, but he ignored it. This ass was too tempting a target for his hand, and besides, he loved fucking Rodney best when his lover had a warm butt. He slid his fingers back and forth inside Rodney’s ass, all the time keeping up a firm rhythm with the palm of his other hand, and slowly but surely Rodney’s ass turned from a deep creamy color to a beautiful shade of bright pink. John’s slaps were firm but erotically so—this was a pleasure spanking and they both knew the difference between this and a punishment spanking. Luckily John didn’t usually have to deliver many of those.
Finally John slowed his pace, before stopping altogether, and Rodney lay over his knee, moaning softly. John noted that the tightly bunched muscles in his shoulders were already starting to look looser.
“I think that’s taken care of. Now I’m gonna fuck your brains out,” John said.
“Promises, promises,” Rodney muttered.
John laughed. “When do I ever not keep my promises?” he said, pushing Rodney off his knee only to pounce on him, and kiss him again. Rodney lay there, naked and accepting, while John covered him in kisses. Then, slowly, with a grin of total sexual evil, John slid one finger along the underside of Rodney’s erect cock. He could see the goose pimples spring up on Rodney’s flesh and the sheen of sweat break out on his face from the effort of not coming.
“Oh, God…evil, cruel, evil, inhuman…” Rodney muttered. “Hate you, hate you, hate you…”
“Still holding on?” John asked, moving his finger rhythmically up and down, up and down the hard shaft.
“Just about…no thanks to you,” Rodney wailed. “Really hate you now.”
John grinned again and moved his hand away to pinch Rodney’s nipples tight.
“Ow!” Rodney cried, but John swallowed the sound with a deep kiss, keeping his squeezing grip on Rodney’s nipples throughout, loving the sounds Rodney was making in the back of his throat and the way he was squirming under the fierce caress. Finally John released him and Rodney sank back, his face now nearly the same shade as his ass.
John decided it was time to put him out of his misery. He’d taken him about as far as he could go and he didn’t want to push him over the edge. The last thing he wanted was to have the bed to himself later this evening—Rodney would bitch all day tomorrow if he wasn’t allowed to sleep in his arms tonight and besides, John hated it when he had to sleep without Rodney beside him.
John pushed Rodney’s legs open, got between them, and then slowly teased his husband’s anus with his hard cock, just dipping it a little way in and then withdrawing. Rodney let out a strangled moan.
“Please…you’ve gotta get in me,” he muttered.
“Mmm, but it’s so much fun just teasing you,” John replied. Rodney gazed up at him, his hair disheveled and his eyes needy. John took pity on him, and slid his hands underneath his husband’s warm buttocks and pulled them apart. Rodney gave a throaty growl that became a shriek of pure pleasure as John pressed his hard cock against his anus and then slid inside him. Rodney’s legs immediately came up and wrapped themselves around John’s back.
“Oh, God…that’s deep…but need you deeper,” Rodney said hoarsely, gazing up at John blearily, his blue eyes dark with arousal.
“Okay…you can come any time you like,” John told him, leaning over him, still fully clothed.
“Oh, thank God!” Rodney cried.
“Any time you like after I’ve come,” John clarified.
“Noooo! No! No! No!” Rodney moaned at the caveat, banging his head back on the pillow repeatedly in time to his protests. “You already came once when I sucked you so you’ll be ages!”
“I know. I’ll be a nice long time,” John told him smugly. “Just lie back and enjoy.” He patted Rodney’s face affectionately, then grabbed his hips and began sliding in and out, with slow, leisurely thrusts. Rodney’s body had lost most of the tension that John had noticed earlier, and now he was almost completely relaxed as he lay there, his arms akimbo on the bed, his erect cock standing out proud from his body as John thrust into him powerfully, taking his time.
Rodney’s entire body seemed to unravel a little more with each inward stroke of John’s cock and John smiled to himself. It might have been merciless to insist that Rodney couldn’t come, but it was that lack of mercy that had turned Rodney into the boneless heap of goo currently quivering under his touch. He paused for a moment, and leaned his fully clothed body over Rodney’s naked one and deposited a long, deep kiss on his husband’s lips. Rodney opened up eagerly for him, kissing him back, passionately, with total abandon. John loved getting Rodney to this stage, to where he just surrendered, completely and utterly, to whatever John wanted to do to him.
John lowered his face and nuzzled at Rodney’s nipples, kissing and sucking them, and Rodney whimpered in pleasure, his hands patting at John’s back in a totally incoherent gesture of appreciation. Finally John pulled away again, and started thrusting once more. He looked down on Rodney panting and mewling beneath him and felt a wave of total love for his husband. Rodney looked so damn beautiful here like this. Thank God that beam that had brought them to this universe hadn’t separated them because John knew he’d be beside himself with worry if that had happened. At least they were together—and even if they could never find a way home, they’d always have each other.
Rodney was smiling up at him, and John wondered if he was thinking something similar. Rodney’s ass was milking his cock, making each thrust even more pleasurable, and John knew he was close. He moved up the pace, pounding into Rodney faster and harder, until he was coming, ejaculating his warm semen deep into Rodney’s body. He hung there for a moment, gasping and blinking as his orgasm continued for what felt like a very long and intensely pleasurable time, and then moved his hand to take firm hold of Rodney’s cock.
“I’m done, Rodney,” he muttered. “So you can come—any time you want.” He slid his hand up and down Rodney’s hard shaft a couple of times, but that was all it took and then Rodney was coming over his hand and over his own naked stomach, with a cry of absolute sexual pleasure.
John grinned, and rolled over, wanting to avoid getting splattered while he was still dressed. He removed his clothes and then got back into bed and took Rodney in his arms. Rodney nestled against him, in that way he had, melting against John’s body, and they lay there for a long time. Every so often, John moved his face and kissed Rodney’s hair, or forehead, or lips, and Rodney would reciprocate by stroking John’s bottom with those big, clever hands of his.
“What were you thinking, earlier?” John asked. “When you smiled at me?”
“I was wondering why I’d been getting so pissed off with Dr. McKay for bringing us here,” Rodney replied. “No, this isn’t our universe and we don’t belong here—but when you were looking down on me just then, as you made love to me, I just kind of figured that none of that matters because wherever you are is home.”
John didn’t have a reply for that. He just gathered Rodney up in his arms and kissed him deeply on the lips for a very, very long time.
* * *
Rodney McKay tried turning on the QDD for the 25th time and for the 25th time in a row got a faint flicker of light followed by a noise that sounded like a depressed parrot wailing down a well and then the light disappeared, the noise ended abruptly, and the QDD went black and dead—again.
“Oh, God.” Rodney sat down and buried his head in his arms. He’d been working on the device non-stop ever since the accident that had transported their doppelgangers into their universe, apart from his brief sojourn to give the newcomers clothes. Carson had dropped by a couple of times, but had left fairly soon once Rodney started snapping at him. Even Radek had eventually had enough of his foul mood and had disappeared somewhere, but Rodney couldn’t stop working. If he could have gotten the device working by sheer force of will alone, then he would have, but in his heart he knew that the other Rodney’s prognosis that it might take weeks was probably correct—and he couldn’t stand the thought of it. Weeks! Weeks of having to put up with his irritating alter ego and his freaky relationship with the doppelganger John. It made Rodney’s palms sweat and itch just thinking about it.
“Hey,” a voice said, and Rodney stiffened. Oh, no. Not now. This was the last thing he needed.
“You’re still working on this? It’s been hours. I thought Dr. Sheppard said it would take weeks to fix. So it doesn’t matter how many all-nighters you pull, Rodney, those guys are still going to be hanging around here for a while.”
Rodney got up without saying a word, and then, completely ignoring Sheppard, picked up some tools and headed back to the QDD.
“Rodney?” Sheppard sounded bemused behind him. “Look, I know you screwed up and you’re feeling responsible for this, but it’s not a total disaster. Well, it’s a small disaster, but not on the Arcturus scale, for example. No solar systems got wiped out.”
Rodney could imagine the colonel had a stupid grin on his face when he said that and that just annoyed him even more. “Hello—ignoring you right now!” he snapped, holding up a hand.
“Ignoring me? Why?” Sheppard asked, sounding genuinely puzzled.
Rodney turned around, feeling utterly exasperated. Was the man completely clueless? “Are we on the same page here?” he exploded. “Those two men are…. The other Rodney is…. Don’t tell me you’re not seriously freaked out by their relationship!”
“Well…maybe a bit,” Sheppard acknowledged. “That’s partly why I’m here. Look, don’t freeze me out, McKay. You’re the only other person around here who understands how weird all this is.”
Rodney gazed at him for a moment. He had a point. Nobody else had a clue—not even Carson, for all his bustling attempts to be sympathetic earlier.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m just…finding this really hard to handle,” Rodney said miser-ably, putting his tools down. “They look just like us, Colonel! I mean—nobody should have to know what they look like from behind, or that their hair does that stupid thing at the back, or how they sound when they’re talking too fast.”
“But they’re not us, Rodney—they’re them. I guess it’s kind of like having a twin brother or something,” Sheppard told him.
“A gay twin brother who wears a collar and gets off on being pulled around on the end of a leash by his scary boyfriend,” Rodney groused, sitting down again with a sigh, feeling utterly bone weary.
“You thought the general was scary? I thought he was kind of cool,” Sheppard said, sitting down beside him.
“Yeah—and that’s another thing. You get the cool doppelganger while I get the irritating one,” Rodney replied.
Sheppard turned and gazed at him steadily.
“Oh, don’t even say it!” Rodney snapped.
“Say what?” Sheppard said, spreading his arms.
“That they’re just like us. That your doppelganger is cool and mine is irritating because you’re cool and I’m irritating,” Rodney muttered.
“I wasn’t going to say that,” Sheppard said, although Rodney thought he detected a trace of smugness in his expression. “What I was going to say, Rodney,” Sheppard said quietly, “is that this whole thing is strange. Not them, per se, but the fact that this means that there really are an infinite number of different versions of me living out their lives in various different universes. I mean when you think of the scale of it…it’s mind blowing. And also…kind of humbling. I always used to think I was unique, but now…well, I guess I’m not.”
“You’re still unique in this universe,” Rodney told him. “We were never supposed to meet our alternate selves—the fabric of space/time isn’t constructed that way.”
“Yet the Ancients built the QDD and made it possible,” the colonel pointed out.
“Yes, but…maybe they never got it to work properly.” Rodney bit on his lip.
“Rodney?” Sheppard was looking at him intently, and Rodney examined his hands in some detail. “Rodney?” Sheppard asked again.
“I don’t know!” Rodney said finally. “I’m just saying—maybe the drawback is always that you can’t send people back. Maybe we can fix it and maybe it’ll work, but even if it does—we don’t have a clue how to focus it, or make it do what we want it to. We might get it working, but that’s no guarantee we’ll be able to send them back. Maybe we’ll just suck more people over here. Or maybe we won’t even get it working and we’ll be stuck with these guys forever and I seriously don’t think I could stand that. I’d have to ask for a transfer back to Earth.”
“It won’t come to that,” Sheppard said firmly. “Rodney, you have to give these guys a chance. Yes, I know there are some…cultural differences, but none of that is a reflection on you. Their preferences aren’t yours. Their relationship doesn’t say anything about you.”
It all seemed so reasonable. Rodney glanced up, miserably, and looked into Sheppard’s hazel eyes. They seemed sincere—he didn’t appear to be laughing at Rodney.
“I just… You know, the rest of the base is going to be having a party with this,” Rodney muttered wearily. “They’ll be laughing at me.”
“Hey—you’re not the guy whose alter ego wears the tight black leather pants,” Sheppard grinned. “If they’ll be laughing at anyone, it’s me, but, seriously, I don’t think they will. Now look, I said we’d meet them in the mess hall around seven. Why don’t you come along?”
“I’m not finished here,” Rodney said quickly.
“Yes, you are,” Sheppard told him firmly. “How long since you ate something, Rodney? You’ve been locked up in here avoiding everyone since this happened. You can’t stay here forever and you can’t skulk around hoping to avoid two men who are on the same base. You’re going to have to work with Dr. Sheppard—so you might as well at least try to get to know the guy so you can have some kind of a professional rapport with him.”
“Dr. Sheppard— I mean, just the name…” Rodney shook his head in disgust. “And he’s so arrogant!”
“Yeah, well…that seems to come with the face,” the colonel said, getting to his feet.
“Hah! I am not that arrogant!” Rodney protested.
“Sure you are,” Sheppard replied. “If the situations were reversed and he’d sucked you into his universe, then you’d be the one making the digs at him—and of course you both know exactly which buttons to press to really wind each other up.”
Rodney had to acknowledge that there was some truth in that. He got to his feet, reluctantly.
“Come on,” Sheppard said, gesturing with his head in the direction of the door. “It won’t be so bad.”
Rodney sighed and allowed himself to be persuaded, much against his better judgment.
* * *
The mess hall was crowded when they got there and Rodney seriously suspected that was because everyone wanted to gawk at the newcomers. There was certainly a little crowd around them; Elizabeth, Carson, Ronon, Teyla—even Radek and Major Lorne were gathered around where the two men were sitting. Rodney grabbed some food and then followed Sheppard, frowning at everyone who so much as dared to glance in his general direction.
Rodney dumped his tray on the table and sat down beside Sheppard, grateful at least that he had some moral support in the situation. He noticed that the other Rodney had changed into one of his tee shirts—and it pained him ever so slightly to see that it hung a little more loosely on his doppelganger than it did on him. He also noticed that both men had slightly wet hair and he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying hard to banish the mental image of the two of them sharing a shower together.
“I was just saying,” Carson told Rodney and Sheppard, “that the results of the DNA test were startling. These two men have identical DNA to you two. There isn’t even the slightest variation. You are, to all intents and purposes, exactly the same people.”
“Except for them being, you know, them and not us,” Rodney said pointedly. “With their customs and ways and freaky lifestyles and not our more sensible arrangements.” He glared at the other Rodney, who just grinned at him in return. Rodney frowned. This was different.
“Well, obviously they’ve had different life experiences and come from a very differently ordered universe, but on a genetic level there is no difference,” Carson pressed. This didn’t help the way Rodney was feeling. If these men were the same as them, then how did that explain the difference in their sexual preferences? Rodney took a large mouthful of food and tried to let the conversation wash over him.
“I’m sorry—we should let our guests get something to eat,” Elizabeth said. “We got so engrossed in conversation that we got a little sidetracked.”
“Great. I’m starving,” the other Rodney said, his eyes lighting up. He glanced at the general, who nodded to him, and even that irritated Rodney. Did the other Rodney have to get permission for everything? It was so demeaning! The other Rodney got to his feet and then paused, and looked at him. “So, Dr. McKay—any news on the QDD?” he asked, in a more pleasant tone of voice than Rodney had heard from him all day.
“It’s still not working,” Rodney told him grumpily between mouthfuls of food.
“I’ll report to the lab first thing tomorrow—see what we can do with it,” the other Rodney said, turning and almost scampering over to the food trays.
“Yes, because once we have your shining intellect in the lab, I’m sure it’ll be fixed in the blink of an eye,” Rodney muttered into his dinner.
“Rodney. Play nice,” Sheppard whispered to him. “I think he’s trying to be friendly.”
“How can you tell?” Rodney countered under his breath. Sheppard just glared at him.
The other Rodney returned to the table with an enormous plateful of food and Rodney scowled at him.
“Seriously—even I’ve never been that hungry,” he commented.
“It’s for both of us,” the general said calmly. “Rodney always gets my food for me.”
“Oh, God, no,” Rodney groaned, as the other Rodney sat down beside the general. The two men looked very relaxed and at home. They seemed more at ease now than they had been earlier, and Rodney flushed deeply when he realized the probable reason why. He really didn’t want any more of these explicit mental images taking up space in his head so he shoveled another large portion of food into his mouth and chewed on it glumly, trying to concentrate on anything other than the idea of these two men having sex with each other.
The general started cutting up some food, took a bite, and then offered a forkful to his husband. The other Rodney took it with a smile at his husband and then the general started making conversation as if all this was a totally normal way of behaving. Rodney swallowed down his own mouthful of food with difficulty, his mouth suddenly having gone dry.
“So, we were talking to Carson earlier about our different customs,” the general said. “And…” he glanced around the table speculatively, “judging by the way you’re looking at us right now, I’m figuring that we’re doing something you don’t normally do.”
“You could say that,” Rodney snapped. “Normally we feed ourselves. We don’t need someone else to do it for us. We’re all grown men, not babies.”
“It’s just our way,” the general said, flashing an easy and utterly disarming smile in his direction. He gave his husband another forkful of food and then rested his hand gently on the back of the other Rodney’s neck and stroked the ends of his wet curly hair affectionately. Rodney didn’t know where to look. It was just so…embarrassing somehow. He noticed that he wasn’t the only one freaked out by the blatant displays of affection between the two men. Major Lorne looked as if someone had slapped him on the face while Elizabeth had her best diplomat’s face on—the one she wore when she was trying to be friendly and non-judgmental even when she was seriously freaked out. Others seemed less bothered by it—Ronon was mainly only interested in his food, and Teyla had that benign look on her face that came from having met a lot of people from a lot of different cultures and being familiar with and unfazed by their different customs. Radek also seemed to have adapted relatively quickly and was more interested in finding out about what had happened to him in the newcomers’ universe.
“It was during the siege of Atlantis,” the general told him, shaking his head. “God, it feels weird to be talking to you again, Radek. Weird and totally fantastic, of course. To be able to see and talk to someone who has died, it’s…well, it’s wonderful.” He gave a wide and genuine smile, looking utterly delighted. “Anyway, during the siege, you and Rodney and Lewis went to an Ancient orbiting weapons platform and tried to get it working so you could take out some of the hive ships. You got trapped onboard and were killed when it was destroyed. Rodney was really cut up about that when he got back. He missed you in the lab—hell, we all missed you, Radek.” He beamed at Radek fondly.
“We had that siege, too—about a year ago?” Sheppard said, nodding slowly. “So the events in our universes are similar, but not quite the same?”
“It would seem so,” Elizabeth mused. “We lost Peter Grodin in the way you describe—not Radek.”
“Peter?” The other Rodney glanced at her and then at the general. “Our Peter is still very much alive.” He looked at Elizabeth and bit on his lip. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth,” he said to her.
Elizabeth looked confused. “Why are you sorry for me?”
“Well, in our universe, you and Peter were in a relationship.” The other Rodney shrugged. “I can imagine how devastated our Elizabeth would be if she lost Peter. He’s totally her right hand man and she relies on him.”
“Really?” Elizabeth looked stunned. “Peter? Me and Peter Grodin?”
“They got together after the siege,” the general told her. “Obviously that never happened here if Peter died.”
“And also there’s the fact that you people don’t seem to have sex,” the other Rodney added. “So you probably wouldn’t have gotten together, anyway.”
“Rodney,” the general murmured in a low, reproving tone, and that hand he had on his Rodney’s neck squeezed warningly.
“Well, that’s an interesting observation,” Elizabeth said, looking uncomfortable.
“And there, see—every time sex is mentioned, you all go very tense and weird,” the other Rodney added, munching heartily on a mouthful of food.
“Did you actually want to go to bed hungry?” the general growled at him. “Because right now I’m not feeling inclined to give you any more food.”
Rodney stiffened—the general got to decide what and how much the other Rodney got to eat? That was such a horrible thought that he jammed some of his own meal hurriedly into his mouth almost as a reflex action against the notion of it being forcibly taken away from him.
“I’m sorry.” The other Rodney nuzzled against his husband apologetically. “I honestly didn’t mean that to be insulting. I just find it curious, that’s all. I mean, are you people all
The Atlanteans exchanged glances.
“Well, I guess we are, yes,” Elizabeth replied.
“Which would explain the level of stress on this base,” the other Rodney commented. “I mean, all that sexual tension!”
“We’re not stressed. We’re here to do a job, not spend our lives rutting like rabbits!” Rodney snapped, unable to bear it.
“No, you don’t seem remotely stressed to me,” the other Rodney told him calmly with an ironically raised eyebrow.
“We’re getting the impression that your society is a bit more open about sexual relationships than ours,” Elizabeth interjected smoothly.
“So—you’ve been fighting the Wraith, just as we have,” Ronon cut in, in that deep, gruff voice of his, clearly uninterested in all the talk about relationships. “Have you found a way of defeating them yet?”
“Unfortunately, no,” the general replied with a sigh. “I was wondering if you’d come up with any more effective ways of fighting them than we have. Maybe we could swap notes?”
“I’d be glad to show you our military reports,” Sheppard told him. “If there is any knowledge we could pool, then it would benefit us both. Perhaps we could go through them tomorrow morning?”
“Good. Yes. Thank you, Colonel.” The general nodded thoughtfully and Sheppard looked kind of proud and pleased with himself. Rodney could understand that—there was something about General Sheppard; he just made you want to impress him, to be noticed by him, to get a nod of approval from him. He was so effortlessly cool.
“I was wondering—you two seem to have a complex hierarchy when it comes to chains of command and law and order,” Carson mused. “Is your entire universe like that?”
“Complex? I don’t know about that,” the general said. “Your society seems way more complex to me. Ours is relatively straightforward. Once you’ve figured out your power dynamic and preference, it’s relatively easy to fit into our society. Of course, figuring it out isn’t always easy. God knows I had my difficult teenage years when I didn’t know what I was or what I wanted and I got into a lot of trouble while I figured it out, but eventually you grow into yourself somehow.” He glanced at his Rodney and grinned. “Even Rodney figured it out eventually.”
“Yeah. With some help from you,” the other Rodney said, smiling fondly back at his husband. “Before he came along, I was a basket case. Totally screwed up.”
“And that’s different to what you’re like now how?” Rodney raised an eyebrow of his own back at his nemesis.
The other Rodney refused to rise to the bait, though. He just…giggled. There was no other word for it. He giggled. His face creased up, and he made a little gurgling sound at the back of his throat. All the Atlanteans around the table gazed at him, surprise etched on their faces at such a very un-Rodneylike sound emerging from the other Rodney’s mouth. The general grinned, and tickled his Rodney’s neck affectionately, then leaned over and kissed his ear.
Rodney wished the earth would open and swallow him whole. Did they really need to be so overt about their relationship? There was just no way you could ignore the fact that these two men were besotted with each other and that made Rodney glance sideways at Sheppard, only to find that Sheppard was glancing uneasily back at him, and they both exchanged discomforted looks.
“It’s completely different,” the other Rodney said eventually, still giggling a little. Rodney noticed that the giggle appeared to be infectious as Elizabeth, Carson and Radek were all grinning away madly as well. “Before I met John, I couldn’t figure myself out at all. Tried to top, tried to bottom, tried to switch. Nothing seemed to work for me. The thing was, I never met a top who was smart enough to handle me until John came along and I knew it. I ran rings around them all. But, John—well, John had me all figured out in that quiet way of his and before I knew it….” The other Rodney shrugged and slapped his hand down hard on the table, making Rodney jump. “Bam. He had me over his knee and eating out of his hand. Literally—in both cases.”
“Oh, God. That’s way too much information,” Rodney growled, struggling to suppress another one of those irritatingly persistent mental images.
“I think it’s interesting,” Elizabeth said brightly, in a slightly forced tone. “Carson was saying that your whole society is structured around these power relationships?”
“That’s right,” the general said.
“So what happens—you get to punish Dr. Sheppard when he does something wrong?” the colonel asked.
Rodney clenched his fists tightly around his cutlery and thrust another large forkful of food into his mouth and began chewing savagely on it, more as a way of distracting himself than because he was actually hungry.
“Yeah.” The general nodded. “I’ve given him a few pretty hard spankings when he’s been out of line.”
Rodney spat out the mouthful of food he was eating, much to everyone’s general amusement. “I sincerely hope this isn’t giving anyone around here any ideas,” he spluttered.
Elizabeth grinned at him and patted one of his hands affectionately. “Don’t worry, Rodney,” she said with a little laugh. “Nobody is going to spank you.”
“Although we’ve all had our moments of wishing we could,” Carson muttered.
Rodney glared at him. “You’re supposed to be a doctor and against harming people on principle,” he said stiffly.
“I’m just saying, it seems to work okay for these nice people,” Carson teased, with a wide grin.
“It’s all just…completely crazy,” Rodney growled.
“It’s how our universe works. Always has,” the general shrugged. “I don’t actually understand how your universe works. You must need so many rules to govern all your interactions. Things are much simpler where we come from.”
At that moment, Colonel Caldwell came over to their table, bearing a tray of food.
“Excuse me—can I join you?” he asked politely, his eyes flickering over the new John and Rodney with a look of fascination.
Rodney sighed. He guessed there wasn’t anybody who didn’t know about the newcomers by now. He suspected that total strangers could gate in from the furthest reaches of the Pegasus galaxy and know about it within 30 seconds of arriving.
“Of course, Colonel! Good to see you!” the general said. “I was wondering when you were going to show up.”
“Uh…I have a meeting…with some other people…back in the…my place…you know…the, uh, infirmary,” Carson said hurriedly.
Rodney frowned at him, wondering what the hell his problem was, but Carson was so eager to be gone that he almost knocked over his chair as he scrambled out of the mess hall.
Rodney decided he didn’t want to stay for much longer, either. Despite what Colonel Sheppard had said about not pulling an all-nighter, he knew that was exactly what he was going to do. There was no way he was going to allow his doppelganger into his lab tomorrow without having a much better handle on what exactly was wrong with the QDD and how to fix it.
End of Part Two
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