Author: jenn (email@example.com)
Spoilers: none specific, second season in general
Codes: McKay, McKay/Sheppard
Rating: R, maybe
Summary: Clothing optional.
Author Notes: My response for svmadelyn's flashfic challenge. I tried to get some of it, but I couldn't get it all. Hope you enjoy it!
This is unbeta'ed and pretty much posted as I finished it. If anyone wants to volunteer for a post-posting beta, leap right up and do so.
And my apologies for it being--God, five days late. I seriously, seriously worked all afternoon to finish it up.
Six hours in, Rodney gives the order to his department and watches in horrified fascination as everyone began to strip .
It--isn't right, on some level that Rodney's brain refuses to process, because he's *not* all caught up in pseudo-Victorian prudery, he's been on *beaches* and saunas and that three day weekend he doesn't remember at all clearly but wow, nudity, he remembers *that*. But there's this part of him that's cringing behind the lab tables in his good boxers (he's no idiot, he saw this coming, he got out his best pair, he was *prepared*) and t-shirt and trying to improve his posture, fighting years of crouching over computer monitors, microscopes, and blackboards before he gives up, and he's *not* self-conscious, but--
But he's a physicist, his life is cubicles of controlled environments, and nature just shouldn't shove itself *in* like this.
And science does not intersect with nudity. It's just wrong.
Hiding behind his desk, he pretends he's hard at work when his fingers are too slick to stay on the keys and there's a sweaty patch growing steadily on the back of his shirt. He keeps feeling this need to hide his feet and he's not sure where that's coming from.
"When I find out who crashed the city," he says, then stops, because oh God, he's *repeating his own rants*. Hands clenched in his lap, he looks up at Miko, trying not to twitch when his eyes settle on her sports-bra clad torso and not her face. He can't help it. It's just--it's *purple*. "You. Get me some coffee."
She gives him a curious look, not the usual instant obedience, but everyone's moving slower, languorous, like they're sliding through molasses. The air's too still, thick with humidity and the life-sucking heat of a city that has no power. The inner rooms and labs are worse, he knows--he heard Sheppard's call for all his people to report to the mess hall, and Rodney thinks his people should be *happy*, because he may be keeping them in here, but at least they aren't doing *calisthenics* or whatever hellish nonsense the military personnel are being subjected to during enforced downtime.
Rubbing his forehead, Rodney blesses naqada generators for their laptop's power supply and closes his eyes to take a drink of semi-lukewarm, mostly terrible instant coffee. "How are we doing?"
"The system still isn't responding," Miko says shortly, like she's saving her words, like it's too hot to *talk*. Rodney forces himself to stand up, and there's a disgusting second where his boxes *peel themselves from his chair*.
Miko makes a sound. A tiny sound. But it could be a laugh.
"I'm sorry? Did you forget we have a situation here? We're going to *cook to death*, while you stand here doing--what are you doing?"
Miko's eyes flicker down, and Rodney thinks in horror that she *could* be looking at his boxers. He opens his mouth, but it feels like too much effort to even *bother*.
This is when you know everything has gone to hell, Rodney thinks, trying not to panic. It's too hot to *care*. "Go. Do something important." He waves a hand in emphasis, doubling as a stealthy fan of moving hot air, not much better than not-moving hot air, really. Miko gives him a single look of shock, then moves away at a controlled scurry.
Falling back in his chair, Rodney wipes his face and tries to *think*.
"We're all going to broil to death," he tells Zelenka, staring at the readings.
"More of, I think, a roast," comes from across the room. "Baked in our own juices, like Christmas goose." Leaning back in his chair, Radek's glasses slide down his nose on a river of sweat. He blinks nearsightedly at Rodney from reddened eyes. "Anything?"
"Yes. I'm just sitting on it to enjoy a little more quality time *drowning in my own sweat*."
Radek's eyebrows raise. The glasses hover at the tip of his nose, like a diver just before a jump. Rodney can't quite take his eyes away, hypnotized, as they seem to just *hang* there.
They both watch the final descent as the glasses finally plop into Radek's lap.
"Well," Radek says, picking them up with an abstracted look, like he's not entirely sure of what they are, "that's a relief. Otherwise, I might think we are screwed."
Rodney jerks his gaze back to the screen, random combinations of Ancient squiggles that won't resolve themselves into something that makes sense.
When he shifts, his chair makes a sound a lot like a squelch.
Rodney decides not to move again.
Simpson and Kavanagh are sitting on the floor with their laptops. Hot air rises, and while Rodney wouldn't swear there's any difference between the air at five-seven feet and the air at two-three, maybe the psychological factor works for them. Leaning against the wall, Simpson untwists her hair and pulls it into another sweaty pony-tail, Kavanagh copying her in some kind of eerie mirror. From here, he can see the sweat shining on her skin, and she's changed shirts twice now. He's not at the moment where he's actually going to say, do what Miko's doing, let's make this an episode of The Secret Lives of Physicists, but it's a close thing. She makes him hot just looking at her. And not in any good way.
No one looks alive enough to be doing *anything*. Even Kavanagh only spares him a single noxious glance before his eyes drift helplessly back to the useless, useless laptops that aren't telling them anything they don't already know. Their city is dead and they have no idea why.
It just doesn't make *sense*.
Rodney leans against the wall, legs feeling rubbery from inactivity. "Where's Radek?"
Simpson waves one hand toward the far door. "There. Working on. Something."
Rodney pauses, waiting for the cue of Czech invective--eight *hours* of this--but the silence remains just as thick, as hot, and as still as before. Rodney nods. "Right. Carry on."
Rodney realizes he's been staring at the same screen of data for a full hour--my God, did he *fall asleep*?--when he sees Miko and Parrish, kidnapped from the pointlessness of botany to assist, going to the wide-open lab doors with curious looks on their faces. "Where are you going?" he snaps, and my God, they don't even *look at him*. "You. Both of you. What--"
They both pause, peering into the hall like he's *not talking to them*, and Rodney tries to get angry, but he just doesn't have the energy.
In the quiet, Rodney hears voices--*energetic* voices. Pulling away from his chair--another wet-slick sound he's going to hear in his *dreams*--Rodney goes to the door and pushes them aside, sweaty hot skin and lycra and God, he could learn to hate human contact, but there's nothing in the hall.
But, voices, definitely.
From down the hall, heads are poking out of labs like groundhogs, red-faced and sweaty and exhausted, and Radek's actually *going toward the voices*, eyes wide and strangely vulnerable with his glasses clutched in one hand. "Radek!"
Radek pauses, then turns around, slowly. "I--am taking a break."
Rodney stares at him. What? "We don't have time--"
"Yes," Simpson says suddenly, and Rodney's unceremoniously pushed out of the way, Miko and Parrish going with her like solidarity will save them from his wrath. "Yes, break."
"Fresh air," Miko says longingly.
They're like lemmings, Rodney thinks despairingly, as more heads emerge, bodies following, all making their way toward those *voices*, and what the hell is going on down there anyway?
They twist through thick, heat soaked corridors--Atlantis was really not built on a fresh air principle, which until now Rodney approved of--but there's--
"Do you smell--" Radek's voice drops reverently.
After that, Rodney's *doomed*, and he knows it.
Not calisthenics, then.
More like stumbling on an X-Treme Sports special, Rodney thinks blankly, standing at the doors of the mess with his scientists crowded up against his back, but heat or no, he still scares them, and by God, they'll *stay back* until he figures this out.
Definitely not calisthenics.
He recognizes Cadman in sports bra and black biker shorts--they have BDUs for this?--rollerblading by him with a wave and a bright smile, doing something terribly athletic and terribly scary with a table, a chair, and a hockey stick, four people following her at the same dangerous rate of speed. Someone else is doing impossible things with a skateboard that can't, can't possibly be included in the laws of physics. There's *wrestling* and *running*, and people playing *chess* and *cards* and they're actually *climbing the walls* for some reason, and Rodney's mind stops processing.
Fresh, cool salty air washes over the room, and Rodney's body turns toward it without meaning to, and something in him breathes out in utter relief. Behind him, he hears muffled moans. He can't hold them back much longer.
"What. The. Hell," Rodney says, and the skateboarder does something that should end him on his ass, but cross-trainered feet finding floor, and my God, that's *Sheppard*. Sweaty and in track pants and God above, a *tank top*, while the little circle around him cheers him like a high school basketball game.
They didn't lose just the *city*. They lost their *minds*.
Grinning, Sheppard toes the board and pushes it to someone else, flushed with exercise and heat, almost shining with energy, almost *bouncing* as he comes over. Rodney's never felt more uncoordinated in his life, just taking a step toward him before remembering he's *barring the door*. "McKay!" Sheppard says, and running a hand absently through his hair. "Guys," he says, nodding to the hoard that is, Rodney's sure, right now plotting mutiny. At least, Radek seems to be. In Czech.
It's eerie how you can deduce intent by the way he chops his vowels.
"What are you doing?" Rodney hears himself say, calm and composed and utterly not asking why they're doing Military Gone Wild impressions in the mess hall. And the balcony. And-- "I smell food."
Sheppard's smile is like the sun rising on the beach, just fucking *glowing*. Rodney wishes he'd never taken that poetry class, because horrible metaphors are trying to crawl out of the depths of his brain he pushed literature and he--he--. "We were going to call you when it was done."
Sheppard rolls his eyes. "How do you think?"
Rodney frowns. "How. Did. You. Cook. Without. Power?"
"Naqada generators." Sheppard scratches the back of his neck with his most promising clueless look. "You'd have to ask the Marines. They did something with the stove and some pipes and maybe I helped a little. You know. *Survival training*."
Oh God, they're *playing with his city*. "You could blow up something."
Sheppard grins. "That's for later." Sheppard's eyes flicker to the people behind Rodney, eyes lit with unholy glee. "I think they're making barbecue."
Sheppard pulls Rodney to safety before he's trampled, ending near one of the windows--how did they get it open?--braced open with long cables attached to the ceiling with some archaic and primitive pulley system. Sheppard follows his gaze. "The kids were getting bored. I figured a little distraction was in order. The mess has the most windows, so we decided to make it a little less--well. Hot."
Rodney gazes around the room. Tables are all pushed to the walls, others stacked, some set up in an inexplicable obstacle course. There's food on some. God, *food*. "How--what--"
"Elizabeth's idea," Sheppard says, totally lying through his teeth. Elizabeth would never authorize this waste of time and resources. Rodney gets a glimpse of one of the anthropologists and a short Marine arm-wrestling in the corner. Teyla and some of the botany department--traitors--are playing some game involving rocks and bits of wood that bears a strange resemblance to a boardless chess. "We don't really have that much to do, so." He shrugs. "We thought we'd cook for the long-suffering guys who are going to fix the city and all."
"I just--" Rodney looks around, wondering if he's actually feeling resentment. "Oh."
Sheppard's smile fades, giving him a searching look. "Hey. We were coming to tell you. I mean, even you can't live on MREs and Power Bars forever, right?"
It's like all the light just dimmed right out of Sheppard. Rodney feels like a chaperone, suddenly, all disapproval and he's not that old, is he? "Right."
"Colonel?" It comes from somewhere up above them. Sheppard cranes his head, and the smile comes back. Rodney follows his gaze to see Lorne--*Lorne*--on a ladder high above, hooking up what looks like--are those speakers? "I think we got it."
"Cool." Sheppard's smile doesn't dim again, but he looks warier, and Rodney wonders what's showing on his face. "Some of the guys are rewiring the com system."
What? "But those are--"
"Connected to the city, yeah, but we were thinking we could hook them to the laptops. Wanna see?"
"Yes." Yes. He wants to see what horror they're inflicting on his poor, defenseless city. Sheppard takes off at a brisk walk, palms rubbing absently into his thighs, and he has a word for *everyone* they walk by, and actually *stops to laugh* when Zelenka--traitors, everyone--spins by on someone's rollerblades.
My God, it's like they forgot this is a *crisis*.
Back in the kitchen, someone cleared off a section of counter where there used to be strange, esoteric, completely incomprehensible Ancient kitchen appliances, and in their place, four Marines in shorts are grinning over the most frightening tangle of wires he's ever seen. Someone's removed the wall panel. From what he can see, someone very clumsily hooked--something--into the communications. "What are you--"
"Dr. McKay," one of them says, looking horrified. Rodney pushes past them, trying to work out what on *earth*--er, *Atlantis*--they think they're doing. "We're--"
"Trying to blow up my city," Rodney says, feeling his blood pressure start to rise.
"When the city comes back on, you'll fry everything here. *Fry*. Flambé? Should I use smaller words? What on earth are you *doing*? This isn't your home stereo system you're *screwing with*, it's--"
"--Atlantis*. Do you even know what--"
"He's an electrical engineer," Sheppard says shortly, and Rodney looks up to see Sheppard's frown is back. "I think he knows what he's doing. Turn it on, Lieutenant. Lorne says they're ready."
The lieutenant in question gives Sheppard a worried look. "Sir?"
Slowly, edging around Rodney like he might *bite*, the lieutenant slowly pulls up a screen and taps a few commands. Rodney waits for the explosion.
What seems to be the first stanzas of Madonna float through to them, and Rodney backs off a step. Sheppard steps past him, pulling up the playlist. "Let's go with something less in Erotica? Good job. Your official title is DJ for the remainder of the emergency." John waves to what appears to be a small mountain of ipods. "Have fun." And before Rodney can say a *word*, Sheppard's got his arm and *pulls* him out of the kitchen.
Something with a bass beat comes on, almost shaking the floor. From near the ceiling, Lorne's grinning like an idiot. "A few adjustments, we should be good."
"Go at it, Major," Sheppard says, but his smile doesn't reach his eyes. "Rodney, we isolated the comm system in here before we started. So no, we won't blow up the city. The kitchen, *maybe*. But your city will be fine when you get the power back on."
"Believe it or not, even non-geniuses can turn on a stereo without you to personally supervise. So. Get something to eat. And stay away from the grill. You really, really don't want to see how they hooked that up." With a kinder push on his shoulder, Sheppard walks off, one foot kicking out to catch a skateboard and then just *gets on it*, rolling away like a high school senior on break to a group who just started *dancing*. Sheppard skids to a stop when someone's hand catches him, and like that, he's bright again.
It's just so--surreal.
Rodney retreats to the buffet table, where Elizabeth and Parrish are steadily making their way through a mixed raw vegetable platter of completely unidentifiable vegetables. "Elizabeth. You--approved this?" He takes a semi-tomato, because he can be pissed and eat at the same time.
Elizabeth delicately extends a foot and moves a chair toward him. He realizes she's in a tank top and tries not to take it personally. "Sit down, Rodney." Taking a drink of something that looks cool, she smiles, eyes flickering over the room of controlled chaos. "Should have seen it earlier when Ronon was giving an exposition of traditional dances. They resemble unarmed combat to a startling degree."
Rodney sits down. "Crisis. No power. No lights." A sudden glow of illumination bathes the room, and Rodney stares hatefully at Lorne, still on his ladder, hooking up the field lights. One by one, the corners of the room light up, and that's just annoying. "They're--"
"Doing their job." Below Lorne, Zelenka's holding the ladder, staring up like he can't believe what he's seeing. "They've been working most of the day. The messhall seemed the most logical place." She waves at the open balcony doors, panels pulled off the walls around each one. He's twitching just *thinking* about what he'll have to repair after this is done. "Better air flow."
Rodney frowns, leaning back to pick up a drink. "We could have done it."
Elizabeth's eyes flicker to him. "You and your department had more important work to do." Setting down her drink, she frowns. "What's bothering you?"
"Why isn't this bothering *you*?" John dances so *badly*, awkward and weird and he's still *glowing*. Rodney feels embarrassed on his behalf. He's also laughing, and Rodney's never seen him like that. "This is--"
"No Wraith. No Genii. No countdown to destruction." Elizabeth begins ticking points off with her fingers. "We have no power, that's all. And right now, not a crisis."
"So we wait until there *is* one before people take it seriously?"
Elizabeth's eyes widen. "Exactly what are you objecting to?"
Rodney opens his mouth, then shuts it, reaching for a cracker. "This. All of this. They're acting like it's a vacation or something!" And it's so *not*.
"Rodney." She cuts herself off, shaking her head. "They've been *working*. Just like you have. Everyone needs a break."
Rodney picks up another semi-tomato and frowns at it. "Is that an order?"
"Does it need to be?" Picking up her drink, she stands up, her smile back, but it's forced, he knows that look, he gets it a lot. "Just relax for a little while. You'll all do better with a little relaxation, Rodney." Smiling at Parrish, she strolls away, walking by a group playing some card game. She pauses there, then pulls up a chair, and Rodney watches her being dealt into the hand.
It's so--Rodney picks up something green and vaguely cubed, biting viciously as Radek drops beside him. "They're going to blow up my city," Rodney says, and Radek sighs, pushing his glasses up. He looks considerably less sweaty. It feels like a betrayal.
"I looked, while you walk around being very disapproving," Radek says, taking a handful of grapes. "All will be fine. Most blown up will be the mess hall. We will survive."
Their current seating lets the wind from the open doors and windows wash over them. Rodney doesn't want to relax, but he's doing it anyway.
"I wonder where they got the music. All the doors are still locked."
Radek's eyes flicker to him. "Same as the doors in here, I think."
Rodney straightens. "They're *massacring*--"
"We did the same to get into the labs." Radek takes a slow, thoughtful bite, eyes on the crowd moving in and out of the balcony doors.
"And to get into our quarters."
"For *work*. Not for *entertainment*." That's what's bothering him. "Do you realize how many repairs will have to be done now?"
Radek looks thoughtful. "They did a clean job. Minutes, maybe." Radek shrugs, taking another handful of fruit. "I think you are being very annoyed for someone who complained many hours about starvation and death alone in the dark."
The smell of barbecue is almost overwhelming. Rodney turns around to watch as several trays of--dear God, it even *smells* right, and his stomach takes over, ushering out objections. Grabbing a plate, Rodney sets himself to the important task of eating.
He'll worry better on a full stomach.
Sheppard vanishes, and Rodney belatedly realizes this after he catches himself searching the room for the fourth time in as many minutes. The more strenuous activity eased up as the sun dipped toward the horizon, and everyone's settled in groups to talk or play. At some point, more lights were set up on tripods to give a little more illumination, but the room's still bathed in pink and gold from the wide windows. Rodney goes outside, avoiding the chatting groups to find a chair, the cool Atlantis evening washing over him. It's--nice.
It's relaxing, dammit, and no matter how hard he tries, Rodney can't make himself get up and leave.
After awhile, Elizabeth comes to sit with him, eyes on the sunset. "I don't watch this enough." She extends a cup, and Rodney stares at the coffee--and not that instant crap either.
"They hooked up the coffee makers," he says, not even trying to be outraged. It tastes too good to be upset. So they set up coffee makers, using ridiculously powerful *naqada generators* to make coffee. That's fine.
She smiles over the rim of the cup. "Feeling better?"
Rodney waves at the skyline. "So what if they've possibly crippled the city. We'll worry about that tomorrow. When we'll worry about everything, I suppose."
Elizabeth grins at him. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were angry at not being consulted." Her grin widens when he stares at her. "Just think, Rodney. People can tie their shoes without your personal authorization." With another smile, she leans back, bracing a foot on the balcony rail, and Rodney takes a breath, then another, then sits back.
He always forgets they're surrounded by water. He so rarely just looks at it. "Where's Sheppard?"
"They're taking security sweeps of the city in shifts," Elizabeth says easily, and the last of the sun dips below the horizon, leaving pink and gold and purple painting the sky. "He should be back soon."
It's full night when he shows up, heading straight for the buffet table with Cadman a step behind him. They look tired, but Sheppard's smile flashes out the second he realizes he has an audience.
And what an audience, Rodney marvels. This is more skin than he's seen outside of porn. Everyone who can is down to the basics, and very basic they are. He tries not to enjoy it. Too much.
Rodney leans into the wall with his coffee and watches Sheppard work himself through the crowds, clutching a plate and a bottle, slipping so carefully they probably never knew he was trying to escape. Rodney's used to that little trick, tracking him until he finds a spot out of the way of lights, falling into a chair gracelessly, looking just as exhausted as Rodney felt when he came in here.
Rodney's never suffered from an excess of attention, so he makes his way over normally, catching a chair that someone was foolish enough to leave unattended, and parks it beside Sheppard's. "How's the city?"
Sheppard's head jerks up, mouth full, almost comically surprised. He was raised completely wrong, Rodney thinks, trying not to find it cute that John chews fast and almost chokes himself swallowing. "Fine. Hey. How--"
Rodney gives him a sour look. "So maybe you won't destroy my city with your little--things."
Sheppard blinks. "Thank you?"
Rodney frowns at his glass. "If I'd known, I would have helped." He gives the speakers a pointed look. "Especially with that. But with the other stuff, too."
"I know." Sheppard's smiling, but the glow isn't there. "You were busy. We just--" He waves around the room with his fork, "--just thought we'd. Make dinner."
"You *opened doors*." But he doesn't resent it as much as he did. "You look--well, like shit. What were you doing out there?"
Sheppard shrugs over a mouthful of not-potato salad. "Just sweeping." His hairline is wet with sweat, and this close, Rodney can smell it on him, reminding him of endless hours in the lab, soaked into everything until there was nothing else. Atlantis is all inner rooms and no natural light. It's got to be an oven. He lets John finish eating, drinking the entire bottle of water before he reaches down and picks up the two he got from the refrigeration unit someone, somehow, hooked up. He won't even wonder how they did it. He *won't*.
Sheppard blinks up at him, confused. "What?"
Rodney's not good at mysterious, but he can try. "Just get the hell up and come on."
He's never been out here at night. Come to think, he may never have been out here, period. Rodney's idea of a good time isn't staring at the various views of water, many though there may be. Settling down on the edge of the pier, Rodney strips off his shoes, thinks about it, then his shirt.
"I should--" Sheppard makes motions behind them, but he's staring at the dark, empty water almost hungrily. "To make sure--"
"If your men--and I use that word in the universal sense--can manage not to wreck the mess hall playing with the wiring, I'm sure they'll survive a few hours without you watching them." Pushing shoes and shirt a safe distance from the water, Rodney tests with a foot. My God, that feels good. Why hadn't he done this earlier? "Come on. You ever wonder what this was? Boat dock?"
John loses the boots so fast that Rodney thinks he breaks the laces. "I'm trying to imagine the Ancients in boats."
"Don't strain something. I haven't managed it either." Rodney keeps Sheppard in view from the corner of his eye, pants dropped, revealing extremely standard grey boxers, then his shirt, tags clinking when they settle again on his chest. "You know, I always forget we live on the equivalent of an island."
John grins, coming up to drop neatly beside him. "Sometimes, I do too." Sheppard extends one narrow foot, touching the water with his toes, a shiver running up his body. He's close enough for Rodney to feel it too, and then Sheppard shoves both feet in, almost *luxuriating* in the silky lap of salty water.
It's quiet, and Rodney keeps his eyes on the water. He wants to coax that feeling from Sheppard again, because last time he was too tired to appreciate what he was seeing. Careless energy. Happiness. He's never seen it, not like it was today, and maybe he can admit that it annoyed him, that other people saw that, got that, before he did. Maybe even annoys him more that he managed to shoot it down when he did see it.
Above and beyond the fact they *totally screwed up* his city.
Sheppard sighs, slowly stretching until both feet are in the water, then gives up and just lays back. "It's like babysitting," he says, and Rodney can't help looking now. Sheppard's grinning up at the sky. "At least, what I imagine it's like."
"Over a hundred Marines with nothing to do?" Sheppard's grin widens suddenly, stretching again, and without the shirt, Rodney can see every shift of muscle in chest and arms. It's not conductive to clear thinking. Also--a hundred Marines with nothing to do. My God. They might have declared war on *each other*.
"So you sent them to redecorate the mess?"
Sheppard's grin widens. "Pretty much."
Make a weird kind of sense, if you're Sheppard. "It wasn't--a terrible idea," he admits, then rubs a hand on the back of his neck. "Maybe even kind of--"
"Nice?" Sheppard nudges him with a hip. "Wow. From you, that's equal to saving the world."
Rodney scowls, then shakes his head. "Just a little--disconcerting." He sighs, turns his head enough to bring John's grin in view. "God. Why can't we *fix* this?" He can't make himself turn around and look at Atlantis--this side of the pier, the lights from the messhall aren't visible. It was bad enough just walking here.
"You will," John says tranquilly, hands folded loosely on his stomach. Rodney indulges a few seconds in just taking in the view.
Then the sense of John's words penetrates. "You do?"
The dark lashes flutter shut. "Yes."
It's--annoying, actually, in a way that makes Rodney want to pull him up and *shake* him. "You could be wrong."
John nods, eyes closed. "I could be."
"You have been before."
What the-- "But not this time?"
Sheppard's eyes slit open, dark and dancing, then he pushes himself up on one hand. It's immensely distracting. "I never make the same mistake twice. And with you, I've been wrong *once*. So yes. Yes. You will figure out what is wrong with the city. Then you will fix it. Then Atlantis can rediscover the joys of clothing. Which granted, will be kind of depressing."
Rodney thinks of Teyla's tinier-than-usual halter top and leather shorts with a pang. "Yeah." Then he shakes himself. "You realize what you said doesn't make sense, right?"
Sheppard's teeth gleam in the growing dark. "I want to swim."
No one sane would keep talking with mostly-naked John Sheppard standing a foot away. Rodney's not sure he can even breathe. Sheppard steps out into the dark water, and Rodney pushes himself up enough to watch. "It's night, you know. The statistics on risk of injury in night swimming--"
Sheppard grins at him from waist high water, little more than a darker shape with glittering eyes and white teeth. "I used to night surf. I think I'll be okay in our little bay here."
Night surf. "Of course you did."
John turns again, water chest high. "Come on. The water's amazing."
Rodney frowns at the water.
"You won't drown." Sheppard vanishes under the water for a heart-stopping second, then emerges again, wet and grinning, and Rodney couldn't resist that, couldn't imagine anyone who'd *want* to.
The water's cooler than the city, washing over off sweat-tight skin, and muscles he hadn't even known were clenched relax. When he looks around, blinking salt from his eyes, John's only a few feet away. "We won't die of heat suffocation," Rodney says, licking the salt from his lips. John comes a little closer, eyebrows raised, hair ridiculously plastered to his forehead. "We'll drown."
"You can touch the ground, Rodney." Sheppard vanishes under the water again, and Rodney turns in a slow circle, trying to find ripples on the slowly moving surface. Something ghosts across his ankle--oh God, son of a--"
"You asshole," Rodney says, when he comes up for air, spitting water, nose stinging. John's a very safe few feet away, grinning like an idiot. "Did I say drown? Killed by stupidity."
John--stupid to call him Sheppard when he's discovering his inner nine-year-old--smiles more and holds something up.
Rodney's eyes narrow. Should have seen that coming. "That's just childish."
John waves the purloined boxers like a flag of victory, pushing water-wet hair from his forehead with one wet hand. Rodney's breath catches in his throat. They don't need power, Rodney thinks, dazed. John could light a city.
"I'll isolate each room," Rodney hears himself say. John stops waving the boxers dementedly, eyebrows going up. "The city. We'll isolate each room and power it up with the generators. We were going system by system, not room by *room*."
John comes closer. "You know what's wrong?"
"Christ no. I have no fucking *clue*." But the comm system, Ancient built and Ancient stamped, is playing something he suspects is Britney Spears right *now*. "The mess hall is up and running fine on just the generators. So we'll start there and move out until we find what's short-circuiting everything."
John's close enough now that Rodney can almost feel him. "That'll take a while." Rodney feels a ghost of air over his skin. He could be imagining it.
"You know, I was thinking about that. You know some bored Marines who'd want to help?"
He licks the salt from John's smile, tastes it on his tongue, John's long, wet fingers circling around the back of his neck. He's never been this close to anyone this alive, it's like a contact high. Warm shoulders and water-smooth skin and John laughs into the kiss, pulling back for a fast breath. Rodney mouths the rough, salty line of his jaw, biting to feel John press against his leg. That's *so good*. "Now?"
Rodney pulls John in, slick skin, hard muscle, amazingly soft lips smiling against his. "No. I'm relaxing right now."