Author: jenn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Codes: McKay, McKay/Sheppard, other
Summary: This is why John should be supervised when playing with other former military boys. Next thing Rodney knows, he'll wake up and John will have bazookas and crates of grenades and God help them all, nuclear weaponry stacked around him, and then Rodney will have to exile him to the floor, which will suck for their sex life so much.
Author Notes: Following Arizona and Puerto Vallarta. The one thing I love best about this series is, beside the obvious, that it's just my place to play wildly with the crazy porn, is that I never have to think of a title. Seriously, why did I never, ever think to use cities *before*?
"So," Rodney says, trying not to swallow when he stares at the nightmare in front of them, in all its rusty, made in the *nineteenth century* glory. "Let's walk."
"Seriously. It's good exercise." And walking the entirety of central America doesn't sound so bad. "That can't possibly fly." It breaks the laws of god, man, and thermodynamics. "We're going to die."
John's hand brushes the small of his back on his way to what appears to be a plane. A very, very old and very, very rusted, and no-way-are-they-stepping-foot-in-that plane. "It's airworthy. She's just a little battered. Aren't you, sweetheart?" And he sounds like he does when Rodney's going down on him, but to a *plane*. One hand runs affectionately over her--it!--not unlike the way he touches Rodney.
This does not make Rodney like her--it!--more. "We're not flying in that."
John turns enough to give him a bright smile. Like those work. Which they do. Except for now. "It'll be fine. What did you expect, a Boeing? Relax." John walks the length of the body, and Rodney swears he's crooning at the thing.
My God. "You're scaring me."
John glances back over his shoulder and smirks, then ducks under a wing, catching up with Lorne, who seems almost as entranced as John is. It's got to be a military thing. Or maybe a pilot thing.
Rodney pulls out a tortilla and looked around the airfield again, the tiny, dilapidated hangar, the cracked pavement and huge, waving trees beneath a dangerously bright sun. A airfield, he thinks, that would not be out of place running, say, drugs, and this, this is the life he leads. Following around a competent not-assassin, avoiding capture or messy, messy death, sleeping in *cantinas*, eating not-goat, and possibly negotiating with *drug lords* (well, drug *flunkies*) for the use of their dilapidated planes and airfields.
Reaching for the bottle of water on his backpack, Rodney tries not to imagine his fiery aerial death, preferring to dwell on the very real possibility of good coffee--not the shit he's been drinking, but something in double espresso; hell, he'd take the raw *beans* at this point. South America might have a reputation for excessive numbers of drug lords, a lower standard of living, and perhaps some scary police, but they're also the home of the best coffee in the world.
John swings back under the wing, looking happier than Rodney's ever seen him, and it only takes a second for Rodney to realize why. "Oh my God. He gave you a new gun."
"Not just any gun." Swinging it down from his shoulder, John holds it reverently in both hands, eyes soft and warm and damned if he isn't glowing. "P-90. Beautiful, isn't she?"
Rodney stares, then takes a bite of tortilla. "Did you name her?"
John flushes. "…no."
This is why John should be supervised when playing with other former military boys. Next thing Rodney knows, he'll wake up and John will have bazookas and crates of grenades and God help them all, nuclear weaponry stacked around him, and then Rodney will have to exile him to the floor, which will suck for their sex life so much. "All right, that's it. No more playdates with Lorne for you."
Glancing back, Rodney spots their disturbingly well-dressed rental guy, gesturing happily as he talks to Lorne. Huh. "Question."
"Shoot," John says, and Rodney catches his face soften from the corner of his eye. The expression, disturbingly, is aimed at the gun.
"Right. Listen. Are we going to be, I don't know, *drug running* or something with this?"
John's head twists around, giving him his special reserved look of utter disbelief. "Yes. What, you didn't know my second job, you know, during my off hours, was the narcotics trade?" Rolling his eyes, he gets a none-too-gentle elbow in the ribs. "No. Jesus no. And hey, guess what? No more bad action/adventure movies for *you*."
"I'm just saying--"
John rolls his eyes, swinging the P-90 back up, then, under Rodney's amazed eyes, *patting it*, before reaching for Rodney's arm and pulling him along. "We're meeting Lorne back at Fortunato's later. Anything you need?" John's eyes flicker as they walk off the small private airfield, approaching the latest in John's string of cars with what Rodney suspects are deliberately broken odometers.
"Just sleep." Rodney's lived in an cashless economy too long, characterized by online transactions, credit cards, and ATMs. He still twitches every time he sees the cash John casually tosses into their bags, because there's just something about seeing paper money that feels wrong. "Though coffee would be good. And hey, could we stay somewhere soon that actually *has* a star rating, or is the entire slumming thing really working for you?"
John's arm settles over his shoulders as they come in view of the car. "You're spoiled. Do the words low-profile mean anything to you?" But it's chased with a kiss, casual and friendly and utterly, utterly John. "And no, but I promise clean sheets and drinkable water."
John opens Rodney's door, ushering him inside, before circling the car, and it never stops being interesting, never stops fascinating Rodney--no matter how nonchalant John appears, he's always watching, even now, the hand that had been around Rodney's shoulder hovering over his gun. He makes it seem natural, like a normal part of living. Putting his bag on the floorboard, Rodney pulls out the bag of remaining tortillas and does a quick count.
Sliding into the driver's seat, John reaches for the ignition. The engine stutters, refusing to turn over. It's a little jarring. "Rodney?"
"Hmm?" He only has a half a dozen tortillas left from Concepcion and part of him wants to space them out, but mostly, he's just hungry and they're extremely portable.
"Question." John's slowly leaning back, and there's an indefinable change in the air, making the hair rise on the back of Rodney's neck. "How fast can you move?"
Rodney doesn't even bother asking why. Grabbing his backpack, he clutches it to his chest, then pauses to pull a tortilla from the baggie. If he's going to die, he won't be hungry while he does it. "Fast enough."
"Count of three." John slowly reaches for the door handle. "Don't open until you jump, and keep running until you fall over, got it?"
Rodney bites off half the tortilla. "Got it." Door trigger, in case the person driving is experienced, like John. It's almost poetic. Better would be an explosion on initially opening the door, but maybe whoever it was worried that it wouldn't get them both. "Ready."
John nods, hand on the door. "One. Two. *Three*."
Later, Rodney's only stopped by the wheezing from telling John that they really need more tortillas.
"Another car?" Lorne says sympathetically over a very dirty glass overfilled with very, very bad beer.
John frowns. "Not my fault. Car bomb."
"Did you use that excuse with the F-15s?" Lorne asks curiously, and Rodney almost sighs, because it looks like a night of reminiscing, in which Lorne and John exchange war and boot camp stories until Rodney and Gary both want to cry from the horrifying boredom of it all.
At least Gary's not here, sleeping off an apparent, and foolish, attempt at the water. Rodney feels very competent in comparison. He got that over with *weeks* ago. Picking up his beer, in a much cleaner glass thanks to a five second Spanish lesson and John doing his leaning-on-the-bar thing, Rodney takes a drink of what has to be the best beer in creation.
Rodney shifts uncomfortably in the chair as intelligent conversation devolves into a story involving Iran, a goat, and someone's purse, absently patting the holster John had put on him before they left the room tonight. The gun still feels obvious and bulky, even if it's hidden under his shirt, and John had done something strange and magical so the bulk couldn't be seen unless someone was looking very closely. A few experimental draws under John's critical eye were followed by John sighing and saying that in the event of a random shooting, drop and stay dropped until otherwise instructed.
Rodney's good with that.
"..and it turned out I called her mother a goat sucking whore." Lorne finishes his beer with relish, then sets it down with a wistful sigh. "So I kinda had to leave the country."
John grins, leaning both elbows on the table, looking utterly entranced. Beneath, however, one booted foot is rubbing up Rodney's calf with slow deliberation, a reminder of the fact that they didn't get their post-near-death sex, and also that the last of Rodney's tortillas were lost in the fiery blaze. "Any word yet?"
"On the carbomb? No." A pretty girl in bright colors comes by carrying more beer, liquid dark eyes flickering to John, stutter at Rodney's glare, and fix on Lorne as the most likely target.
"Mas cervezas, senor Lorne?" she says sweetly, leaning over more than was strictly necessary, an upward glance taking in the reactions of the table. John's lazy grin doesn't change, and neither does the foot that's pushed behind Rodney's knee.
Lorne smiles at her cleavage, and Rodney wonders how long it will take him to find an excuse to go talk to her alone. "Gracias, senorita."
She strolls away, Lorne watching her like a man faced with steak after six months of goat pie. From the corner of his eye, Rodney catches John's smirk and fights the urge to echo it. "We need to get back," John says innocently, kicking Rodney's knee before standing up. "See what you can find out about our little car problem, would you?"
Getting to his feet, Rodney hastily finishes his beer in a gulp. Lorne barely bothers to look at them, eyes fixed on the bar. One hand comes up to wave them off absently. "Sure thing. Night."
Once outside, John's smirk widens. "You know, I don't think he'll be alone in his room tonight."
"He's sharing with Parrish."
John's smirk becomes a full on grin. "He's in for a treat, then." They aren't too far from the room, an actual *decent* one, with a ratless bathroom and clean towels and a huge, comfortable bed with the least offensive sheets yet. The owner, a tiny old woman who spent the entire negotiation for a room staring at John like a lovesick puppy, had let them borrow a coffeemaker. Rodney could almost like her for that.
John's shoulder bumps his companionably as they walk in comfortable, easy silence. Mexico City is huge and sprawling and dirty and weirdly romantic, and Rodney wishes the hadn't been on the road most of last night and on their feet all of today, that he wasn't so exhausted that even two beers is enough to make him lightheaded and reckless, enough to want to do stupid things like touch John's shoulder, reach for his hand, slide an arm around that slim waist, kiss him here on this dilapidated street where no one speaks English. Take John inside and push him down on the bed and touch him, everywhere, tongue the bruise just below the collar of his shirt that Rodney's seen glimpses of all day today, feel John shift and shudder under him, low moans and softly hissed curses in his ear.
Their room is smaller than the places they've stayed before, but nicer, more of a bed and breakfast type than a motel room, even if the electricity owes more to the fifties than the twenty-first century and the lamp by the bed has a disturbing tendency to spark at random. Rodney's learned to steer clear of it.
John smiles at him at the door, doing a quick search of the room before pulling Rodney inside, a quicker kiss before he starts to disarm.
John's as exhausted as Rodney is, no matter how alert he tries to play it; they both undress mechanically, Rodney climbing in bed while John does his security thing before coming back to the bed and, leaving his gun on the bedside table. There are dark circles under his eyes that Rodney hadn't noticed before, a tightness to his mouth that's new.
"John?" Carefully, he brushes his fingers over John's forehead, smoothing his hair back.
John snorts out a breath. "The car bomb threw me."
Oh. Rodney rewinds, flickering through the events of the day--early morning making out with no orgasms, depressing, breakfast, meeting with Lorne, meeting with not-a-drug-runner-rental-agent, lunch, another meeting, plane, car bomb, no sex, dinner, bar, home. "Kinda seems like par for the course at this point." Except for the sex. It's depressing, actually, now that he thinks of it.
John snorts again, folding both arms behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. "If they could get your second from Colorado to duplicate your work, they would have. If they could get *anyone* to, we'd know about it. So the dead part of dead or alive no longer applies. And most of the countries negotiating to get their hands on you are aware you have to be *alive* to give them information. Or so I assume." An arm unfolds, sliding over to wrap around Rodney's waist as John rolls over. "So it's someone new. And I don't like surprises."
Oh. "Maybe they're worried I'll sell the information--" But no, by now, they probably know he won't. Emphasis on probably. "Okay, this is getting ridiculous. It wasn't enough I had *countries* after me. Now there are just *random* assassins involved?"
John's mouth is curved in an unhappy smile. "I suppose there's no chance we'll get bored." The arm tightens, and Rodney closes his eyes at the feeling of callused fingers rubbing soothing circles into his back. "We'll figure it out." But the look on his face is still worried.
"What else is bothering you?"
John hesitates, then shakes his head. "Nerves, I guess."
John's nerves have become, to Rodney, the equivalent of a mental burglar alarm. "Something specific?"
"Something about our rental guy." John frowns briefly. "He's said some things that make me wonder." John's eyebrows arch a little, amused. "He doesn't know I speak some Spanish, so he's been--let's say indiscreet with his associates. But our only other option is driving straight down, and I don't like that option."
Oh God. *Driving* the entirety of central America. "Jesus."
"Yeah." John's eyes flutter closed, then force themselves back open. "Any suggestions, genius?"
Rodney snorts softly, trying to shift off already sweat-slick sheets. Air conditioning. Come hell or high water, the next place *will* have air conditioning. "Not exactly my usual strength, this plotting thing." John's struggling to keep awake now, and Rodney brushes a finger below his eye. "Get some sleep."
John hesitates, but exhaustion is exhaustion, and he falls off so fast that Rodney almost smiles. John's been a light sleeper since Puerto Vallarta, easy to disturb with a turn in bed or a restless dream. Restless as euphemism for bad, sometimes men in black who come to the door and drag him away, sometimes small rooms and endless questions, and sometimes, Ronon's bullet going through John's heart because Rodney had hesitated a microsecond too long.
Rodney closes his eyes, but he's pretty sure he's not going to sleep well tonight.
John likes things that go very, very fast--this is the man, after all, who came searching for him in a very subtle Lamborghini in the desert. So it is completely unsurprising when he says, "Let's go find a car" that they end up staring at a high end Porsche. "Okay, I'm exercising partner veto here."
John gives him an amused look "I hadn't heard about this partner veto."
"Partners?" Rodney waves a hand between the two of them. From some distance, the salesguy watches them, looking confused. "In crime? Running across the continent escaping evil men out to kill us, and yes, *partner*, and no, not a Porsche."
John's eyes narrow. "What did you want to look into? Something in domestic?"
"You," Rodney says, getting hold of John's arm and pulling, "are not buying a Porsche for a week before we leave. Have you *seen* the driving here?" It's like there are no basic laws. John's eyes gleam. "And no. Come on. Let's find something to eat."
John waves sadly at the salesman, looking like his favorite puppy just got run over. "We have to meet Lorne in an hour," he says, looking mutinous. Rodney doesn't care.
"That's nice. Strangely, that doesn't change the fact that I'm *hungry*. You want a car, find something in not-noticeable and disposable." With luck, a working odometer, too. "Those fish things that you got last night--"
"Yes, where did you get those? Get a few dozen. And some empanadas. And tortillas. And some fruit. Wait. Let's get ice cream."
John's tongue is firmly pressed into his cheek for a second. "Do you want to do the grocery shopping?"
"Tragically, my Spanish is limited to 'beer', and 'please remove your hand from his ass, thank you'." John's eyebrows shoot up. "I asked Lorne. So no. Food. Sleep. Possibly sex, if you bring me ice cream and a car that doesn't scream, I like to drive really recklessly."
John snickers softly, knuckles skimming Rodney's arm before he flags down a cab and, with elaborate politeness, ushers Rodney in first. "Where are we going?"
"Back," Rodney says firmly, because John's still eyeing the car lot with an expression that doesn't bode well. "And you're not coming back to get it either, so just put that out of your head right now."
"You lack a spirit of adventure." But John's grinning when he says it, turning pointedly toward the front as the car starts to move. "Habla ingles o espanol, senor?"
"English," the guy says with a frighteningly Yankee drawl, and Rodney almost grins at the look of surprise on John's face.
"English, then," John says pleasantly. "Also, pull over."
The guy's eyes in the cracked rearview mirror don't look away from the road. Rodney sees John's hand slide down to his waistband. "I wouldn't," the guy says, and Rodney wonders when they stumbled into a Bruce Willis movie, because this shit is getting really old really fast. "The car blows if I get shot. So just dial it down, commando. Someone wants to talk to you."
"I don't have to kill you," John says calmly, and he moves so fast, Rodney's never gotten over that, one hand wrapped around the guy's throat, half across Rodney's lap. Rodney fumbles for his own gun under the cover of John's body, holding it against his stomach. To think, two months ago? He'd never held a gun before in his life.
"Just talk," the guy grunts, somehow managing to stay on the road. "If you kill me--"
"I'll take my chances unless we're stopped in the next five seconds." John's knee digs into Rodney's thigh in a completely painful way, far too close to the groin for Rodney's peace of mind. "Four. Three. Two--"
The car curves into the side of the road, coming to an abrupt stop. Rodney breathes again when John shifts a knee onto the seat and decides he won't mention the horrifying pain in the spirit of gratitude that John saved his life.
"Rodney, give me--" Rodney pulls John's gun and silently holds it up into John's line of sight. "Oh. Thanks." Through the rearview mirror, he sees John's grin flash out. "Best partner ever. For that, no Porsche."
"We'd already decided that." John's other knee is still pressing into the seat between his legs. It's distracting. "For this, chocolate. Can I get out now?"
"Look out the back and tell me if you see anyone," John says calmly, and Rodney twists around, careful of John's precarious balance. He doesn't recognize the street--and hey, Mexico City, he barely recognizes *their* street, but it's deserted. Which for some reason strikes him as weird.
Or maybe he's getting a little paranoid. "No one."
"How far are we from whoever you're taking us to?" John asks. In response, a gargle. "Right. I'll let you breathe now. That could change. How. Far?"
The man coughs, a little dramatically in Rodney's opinion. "A mile. Maybe two. What--" He's cut off again with a sound like a watermelon against a brick wall. Not pleasant. "Yeah. You get some sleep there." If he cranes his neck, Rodney can just see the guy slumping into the steering wheel. "Go ahead and climb over the seat. I don't want you in the open."
"Do I look like a contortionist?" Yes, this is normal. He's climbing the tiny space between John's body, the seat, and the ceiling. It's not pleasant.
"I don't know," John drawls, then makes a sound like a kitten being stepped on. "You seemed pretty limber last night."
Christ, he'll just flirt no matter what, won't he? "Cute," Rodney huffs, getting his palms into the front passenger seat and using his feet to push him off the backseat. "Just. Fuck. Out in the open might be *safer*."
"Not so much with the entertainment value, though," John says as Rodney gets his feet over. Accidentally, Rodney's foot brushes his forehead. Just a brush. "Also, ow, what the hell? You want to drive this thing?"
"I am driving this thing," Rodney answers, watching John as he begins to pull their erstwhile driver out. "Because there's no way in hell I'm doing the watching the prisoner thing. Just slide him over and hey, maybe the car won't blow up."
John snorts. "He was lying."
Rodney cranes his neck back to stare at John. "How the hell would you know?"
"Job requirement," John says. "Can you get his feet, please? I'd kind of like to get out of here. If you could spare the time?"
Rodney doesn't even bother with a reply, shifting the guy under John's directions until the seat is clear and Rodney can angle over the gear shift. Standard. Great. "Seatbelts."
John's head pokes out from whatever he's doing in the back. "What?"
Tentatively, Rodney turns the key, relaxing when the engine turns over. "Seatbelts. I've seen how people drive here."
John makes a face Rodney usually associates with people in deep physical pain. "McKay--"
"And you can keep this car." Flipping to first gear, Rodney warily checks the roads. "Where are we going?"
"Lorne," comes the firm reply from the back. "He can pry himself off Senorita Braless or whoever he's picked up since this morning to help me figure out what the hell's going on."
Great. Lorne's staying in a bar in the northern part of the city. That's a lot of nightmarishly bad driving to navigate. "Right." Shifting into second, Rodney watches two cars run a red light with a sense of inevitability. "You so owe me chocolate."
Lorne takes their reluctant prisoner off their hands, since John's tension's skyrocketed just in the brief time they spent in the open area near the bar. Whoever the taxi driver is, he's making John nervous, and a nervous John seems to be one who talks too fast and goes too quiet and stands too close.
Not that too close is bad, necessarily, but Rodney'd prefer less life or death situations for it to manifest. Also, John's crowding him from his beer, and it's not good beer, but it's all the apparently infatuated bartender will give him, while throwing John come-hither glances that aren't in the least amusing, even given the thick mustache and John's utter obliviousness. "Tomorrow." John says, leaning into Rodney's shoulder briefly, and damn, he missed part of the conversation.
"We told them in a week."
"That was before two attempts on our lives in less than twenty four hours. Call me paranoid, because I'm kinda getting there."
Lorne frowns, glancing to the stairs. "I'll try--"
"You'll *do*." Standing up, John's hand slides to hook in Rodney's belt. Ah, so it's time to go. Why waste words to *ask* when he can just pull Rodney along like a puppy? Deliberately, Rodney takes another drink of beer and smiles when the bartender frowns. "Nine tomorrow morning." Another pull, less subtle. Rodney glares over his shoulder, making a show of finishing the beer and standing up on his own power. Lorne gives them a narrow look. "I'm not kidding. We're either on that plane or I'll take him somewhere even your Weir can't find him."
Lorne leans an elbow on the bar. "Sheppard--"
"This conversation is over." Another pull, even less subtle than the last one. Rodney glares over his shoulder. "See you then." And John lets go, but only to give Rodney a long look that's kind of like an order. Right. Time for the dramatic exit. And God knows, interrupting John's drama would be a waste of time and a really good performance.
Outside, John's hand closes over his upper arm on the short walk to the car. "The belt thing was annoying."
"The carjacking thing was annoying, too," John answers shortly, and Rodney fumbles out the keys, sliding into the driver's side before John can say a word. "Hey--"
"Get in," Rodney says. "Hey, you're the one armed to the teeth, I'm the powerless and helpless civilian, and hey, look, we're *not moving*. In. Now."
With a look suspiciously reminiscent of a pout, John crosses in front of the car, sliding into the passenger side. His mouth is a sharp, tight line that makes Rodney want to lean over and kiss it softer, but he knows better than to even try. Starting up, Rodney maneuvers slowly onto the dusky road. "On a guess, we're not going back to our room."
"That genius is showing." John's eyes scan the street, hand near his gun. "I'll find us someplace else and go back to get our stuff--"
"Alone?" Wow, does that sound like a recipe for stupidity? Yes, it does. "Right. I mean, no, *wrong*. You're not going without me."
The hazel eyes turn on him, full attention. "No."
"You need someone to drive. I'll--you know," he says, waving a hand at the steering wheel. "Do the getaway car thing."
John stares at him. "No movies for you at all ever again. Seriously."
"No running off doing the commando alone thing ever again, ever. Seriously." Turning, Rodney hazards a guess and decides that he recognizes the direction. "Just tell me where you want me to wait."
"In the hotel."
"You aren't helping. What do I know about subterfuge? I could drive straight up to the door, right?" Not that he *would*, but it's almost worth it for the horrified expression on John's face. "Well. Then you'd better show me, right?"
The hazel eyes narrow in a way that Rodney reads as victory and, grinning, he shifts wildly into second gear, feeling weirdly reckless and a little hungry. "I thought you'd see it my way."
It's the longest thirty minutes of his life; longer than when Ronon held the gun on him, longer than the feverish fifteen minutes he'd waited for the first lab explosion, longer than that nightmarish hour in his bathroom when he'd stared into his own eyes and saw someone different looking back.
Thirty minutes, God knows who, and their room. His laptop never leaves his body, so that's safe enough, but survival's a lot less possible without money or weapons. Fingers drumming a discordant rhythm on the steering wheel, Rodney tries to gather his thoughts, press them into some kind of order. John's good at this, great at this, fucking *genius* at this undercover-fugitive-running thing. He does by instinct what Rodney couldn't learn in a hundred years. He doesn't need to worry.
That doesn't change a goddamn thing, and Rodney realizes that his hand's on the butt of his gun, finger perilously close to the safety. He'd probably shoot himself before he'd even get it out of the holster. It's comfort though, the only kind he has right now, without John and the safety that Rodney had begun to take for granted. Like John really could hold off the entire world all on his own.
It's so fucking *teenage girl*, but God, he doesn't think he'll breathe again until John's in the car.
Quarter of a mile to their room. Quarter mile back. However long it takes for John to scout it out, get inside, do--whatever (*kill them, him, her, whoever is there*) come back out. John's good at the killing thing, Rodney thinks, then flinches.
Rodney's getting good at it, too.
In this part of the city, there aren't outdoor lights, and the car's parked with the only decent angle to catch enough moonlight to see someone coming. Rodney watches, hideously aware that anyone competent in this sort of thing could probably sneak up on him pretty easily and get a gun to his head before he even has time to draw a breath.
John, he thinks, taking a deep breath. John. Come back now. Fuck the money. Fuck my remaining tortillas. Just come back. Come back.
The passenger door opens and Rodney sees John seconds before he accidentally fires off a shot that will assure a severely limited sex life for as long as he lives. "Jesus, Sheppard."
"Go." The worn duffle bag is against his chest--the other he tosses over the back seat. Rodney spares him a quick look but shifts into first immediately. He's learned John.
Blood has a smell, Rodney's learned, and even without light, he knows John's wearing it, soaked into his shirt, rubbed into his skin, sprinkling the bags. They drive in silence, John's single word directions leading them into yet another part of town. Shoving the bag onto the floorboard, John unzips it as they drive, pulling off his shirt. Even in the dark, Rodney can see the darker stains on pale skin. It's an effort to control the urge to pull over. "You're hurt."
"Graze," John says shortly, grabbing an identical black shirt from the bag and pulling it on, not even *wincing*. Rodney bites his tongue as John wipes his gun down with the ruined shirt, reholstering it, then takes out a knife that looks less clean than when he went in.
Rodney can't stop himself. "John--"
"Not *now*." The green eyes flicker up, looking at Rodney for the first time. "Pull over."
Jerking the steering wheel, Rodney rounds to the crumbled curb, glancing up at the old, dilapidated building behind scraggly hedges, then keeping his eyes on the road as John gets out. "If I'm not back in five minutes--"
"I'll be sitting here waiting to die," Rodney says harshly. John pauses, hand tightening on the door. "I'll be here."
John hesitates, then nods. "Right." Slamming the door shut, he walks away, every movement sharply controlled.
Keeping his eyes on the road and his gun in his lap, Rodney gropes behind them, feeling for his other bag. Alcohol, peroxide, gauze bandages, surgical tape, things he'd never used, never thought he'd need to learn. The scar on his arm throbs in reminder. The case is below clothes, and he pulls it to the top, rezipping the bag by touch.
John's back a few seconds later. "Leave the car." Grabbing the duffle bag, he straightens again, with an almost invisible wince. Rodney says absolutely fucking nothing, getting his gun back in the holster in a smoother movement than he'd ever been able to achieve before tonight, laptop over his shoulder, second bag under his arm, pulled right out from under John's hands. He gets a frown but ignores it, crossing in front of the car to wait while John pulls out and comes up beside him.
Glancing down, Rodney can see the gun in his free hand. "We got a room," John says, as casual as a late afternoon walk in the park.
"I miss LaQuinta." John goes first, thumb resting on the safety. "It was nice. It was quiet. It had air conditioning."
John doesn't answer, leading Rodney to a stained wooden door, pushing it open with one hand, gun pointed inside. After a few seconds, he flips the lights, going around the room in his security check while Rodney lists into the doorway and wishes desperately for coffee. And his tortillas. Definitely more tortillas.
"Okay," John says in a tired voice, and Rodney comes in, dropping their gear in a pile at the foot of the bed and kicking the door shut.
John turns, looking at him with wide, unreadable eyes, like he forgot Rodney was there. "Rodney--"
"Strip. Now." And John just *stands there*, the bare overhead bulb brutal on the tightly drawn skin, the strain around dark eyes, the blood on his forehead and smeared over one high cheekbone, down his throat, on one arm, bruises like smears of dirt. Reaching out, Rodney touches soft clean cotton of the changed shirt, and John--flinches.
Flinches with a step backward, and Rodney freezes, eyes going to the gun still in John's hand. "John." His fingers are white-knuckled around the grip, and Rodney moves as slowly as he knows how, wrapping his fingers around John's, loosening them one by one until the gun falls into his palm. Checking the safety, he tosses it on the bed, and this close, he can smell the blood like it's on his own skin.
He wants to ask, how many, but that would be stupid and he's not sure John could answer anyway. Still slow, he reaches for the bottom of John's shirt, pulling it carefully up and over his head. The hazel eyes are fixed on the far wall, like he's not even aware that Rodney's here at all.
It's worse beneath. The graze is clotted, thin and too clean to be a bullet. There's bruising across his chest, reminding Rodney vividly of the edge of the dresser in that room. Another cut just above his nipple, jagged-edged, smaller. Holding the t-shirt in one hand, Rodney circles him, flinching from the darkening bruising on his back, reaching out to touch, then stopping himself. "You're going to feel like shit tomorrow," Rodney murmurs, and he hears John make a small sound, agreement or amusement, he's not sure which. Coming back around, Rodney reaches for the button on the cargo pants, and John eyes flicker away. "Look at me."
"Rodney." One hand closes over his wrist, sticky and damp. Rodney slides two fingers in the waist of John's pants, keeping his hold. "You--"
"You need to get clean," Rodney says softly, giving John a careful tug. John's skin is fever-hot against his fingers. "Come on."
There is a shower, which Rodney murmurs thankful prayers for, stripping John's pants and boxers and shoes as they walk, pushing him behind the plastic curtain into warm, sulfur-thick water, kicking off his own shoes and socks to climb in after. John's leaning into the wall, eyes closed, and here, the light's kinder, revealing only exhaustion. Rodney picks up the rough soap from the wall socket, rubbing it between his hands.
"Shut up," he says, spreading his hands over John's chest, and John falls silent. Blood runs off in pale pink streams from the nicks, resisting on the graze on his side until Rodney gently washes the dirt away. He's careful and thorough, studying John's skin with his hands, learning it in long sweeps of his palms over sensitive, bruised flesh. John's still and silent beneath Rodney's touch, and Rodney gets more soap, moving to strong arms, long fingers, narrow hips. John's all sharp bone and too-thin, too fragile flesh--he can count the lines of his ribs, finger the knobs of his vertebrae, slickly wet.
John watches him from beneath water-wet lashes, tongue touching his lips, and Rodney goes on his knees, running his hands down slick thighs, hearing John's catch of breath over the rush of the water. Leaning forward, he brushes an open mouthed kiss against the delicate skin of his inner thigh and gets a soft gasp. "How many were there?" he says into wet flesh, running his tongue to the sharp jut of John's hip, reaching up to slide curious fingers over John's waist.
"Six," John whispers, almost lost in the water. Wet fingers touch his face, and Rodney nuzzles into the hollow of John's hip, trapping water between them. "There were six." John's hand brushes through his hair. "It's nothing I haven't done before."
"Or me," Rodney whispers into John's stomach, drawing equations with the tip of his tongue. Naqada generator power curves, the entropy rate of a fully charged ZPM, chemical formulas with elements that don't appear on any known periodic chart. John's breath hitches when Rodney uses his teeth, biting just below his navel, pulling back to watch the skin redden in the shape of his mouth. He wants to do that everywhere--lick every bruise, take them, make them his, so when John looks, touches them, he thinks of nothing but Rodney.
John's hand slides to the back of his neck--resting, not urging, nails sweeping slow streaks across sensitized skin. He can feel the press of John's cock against the base of his throat, hot and hard. Sliding his hands up from John's knees, Rodney urges the long legs apart, thumbs resting on the crease of thigh and groin. John's breath catches as Rodney licks down the trail of hair, pulling back just as he reaches the base of John's cock.
John hisses softly, and Rodney reaches for the soap, slippery between fingers that aren't as steady as they were. Lathering his hands, Rodney slides thin suds down each leg, wrapping his fingers around a narrow ankles, working the heel of his hand into John's calves, relaxing each muscle. John's liquid under his hands when he stands up, reaching around to run soapy hands over John's ass, careful and gentle and thorough, biting the back of his shoulder when he turns him around.
His cock's pressing painfully against the zipper of his jeans, sodden and heavy, chafing the delicate skin, but Rodney ignores it, soaping his hands again and gently lathering John's hair.
When he ducks John beneath the spray, John reaches for him, pulling him into a slow kiss, soft lips and softer tongue. Rodney can taste the soap, the faint trace of sulfur on his lips, and wraps an arm around John's waist, sliding the other through wet hair.
John lets him take him to the bed, wrapped in a thin, cheap cotton towel, sitting on the edge while Rodney dries him and applies the peroxide and antibiotic from his case, fingers pressing gently to hold them in place while he bites off the tape and secures each bandage. John's still through it all, eyes fixed on Rodney's face with that addictive focus, like there's nothing else in the world but the two of them.
Kneeling between the long legs, Rodney pushes them apart, running his palms down John's inner thighs, feeing shiver that runs through John's body when he presses his lips against the earlier mark, fitting his teeth against smooth skin.
"Rodney," John says softly, sounding like he can't breathe. Kneeling up, Rodney curves a hand around the back of John's head and kisses him, licking the soft lips open, pressing inside to taste John, reaching for more skin, trying to leave himself everywhere on John's body. He can't erase what John had to do tonight, but that won't stop him from trying. John's hands cup his face, hard and careful all at once, and maybe, John wants that, too.
Rodney could do this all night, kiss John and trace his body out, learn it with his hands all over again. Stretch John slowly out on the worn brown bedcover, wrap John's fingers around the thin headboard, brace his hands on John's hips and go *down*, and feel John twist beneath him.
Feel John's cock in his mouth, John's taste thick on his tongue, John's fingers threaded through his hair. His hips tremble beneath Rodney's hands as Rodney presses fingerprints into his skin, marking the places he's been, the places he wants to go.
"Rodney," John whispers, and John's hand tightens in his hair, pulling him off. He barely has a chance to wonder before John kisses him, pulling back for a breathless second. His eyes are the green of leaves at night, dark and hungry. "Fuck me."
They're getting good at this, so easy that Rodney has him open and twisting in seconds, wet from his mouth, leaving for painfully long seconds to find the lube, coming back to John, panting and flushed and bruised in places that Rodney doesn't know how to touch. Long fingers close over his hips, rolling Rodney on his back. Straddling his hips, taking the lube from Rodney's nerveless fingers, John wets his own fingers with an expression that Rodney can't read.
Then his hand is wrapped around Rodney's cock, slicking him slow and careful. Rodney watches, wide-eyed and breathless as John shifts, bracing a hand on Rodney's thigh. "You need to--" he stops when John looks down, eyes as dark as the night outside.
"I want to feel it." The hand around his cock holds him steady, and Rodney grabs for the sheets at the first tight pressure against the head, breath squeezed out of him as John bites into his own lip. He's not ready enough, Rodney knows that, but he keeps the words trapped behind his teeth, closing eyes against the feeling of John stretching around him by sheer will, too good to fight. Broken breathing above him, but John doesn't make a sound as he takes him as far as he can, ass settling slowly on Rodney's thighs.
When he opens his eyes, John's staring down at him, hand braced by his shoulder, testing angle, shifting against Rodney, hitched breathing, this has *got* to hurt, but it doesn't show on his face. Slowly, Rodney unclenches his fingers, moving a hand to cup John's hip, sweat-slicked and bruised, fitting his fingers over the reddened marks he'd left before, and John finds his balance and *moves*.
"John," he says, and he wants to say, Christ, and yes, and please, and more, but he keeps losing his train of thought with every brutal twist of John's hips. He wouldn't even know it was pleasure if John's cock wasn't brushing his stomach, leaking steadily, leaving wet streaks across his skin. John's all focused concentration and sharp movements, God, it's got to *hurt*, but John rides it easily, and Rodney watches John close one hand on the headboard, improving his leverage, and oh God, yes, *yes*, Rodney tightens his grip and arches up into it, shockwaves washing though him centering on his cock and moving out. John leans down for a brush of lips, too short. Rodney slides his free hand in John's hair, jerking him back down, opening up his mouth with a thrust of his tongue.
John jerks away, both hands on Rodney's shoulders, pinning him down. The dark eyes are glassy, face flushed, and Rodney sees an impression of bloody teeth in John's lower lip. "No."
John moves pushes himself back on Rodney's cock hard and fast, with a twist that steals breath, then pulls back up, settling into a painfully slow, jagged rhythm. Every muscle Rodney touches is drawn tight, and John's cock is flushed dark red, so *close*. John slaps his hand away when he reaches for it, fingers circling Rodney's wrist and pinning it to the bed. "No. I want all of it."
It's got to be killing John's back to bend like that, licking across Rodney's collar, biting sharp and fast on the bone, and Rodney shudders, trying not to come at the shock of sensation. John's eyes close, mouth opening for panted breaths, breathtaking to watch.
Time stretches and compresses--Rodney has no idea how long John rides him like that, ruthless with them both, points of contact John's ass stretching around his cock, John's hand on his wrist, Rodney's on his hip, almost impersonal and too personal all at once. Rodney's never had sex like this before, he'll feel this for days, not enough lube and too much heat, John lost somewhere that Rodney can't touch, and he wants to come and can't quite, John somehow *knowing* every time he comes close, varying the rhythm to keep it hovering tantalizingly out of reach. "John," he finally whispers, his voice cracking and not enough air to fully form the words, but it brings John back, too-vivid and too sharp, pupils swallowing up the iris, no one familiar looking back. Prying his fingers from John's sweat-slick hip, he reaches up, cupping the bruised cheek, feeling John flinch, like fucking isn't as intimate as this touch. "John."
John leans down, watching him with pleasure glazed eyes, clearing for the brief second before John kisses him, soft mouthed and tasting of copper, then pulls Rodney's hand to his cock as he whispers, "Now."
Rodney wraps his fingers instinctively around the hot length--so fucking *close*-- and John's head goes down with a strangled, sharp breath, clenching around him, and Rodney can't stop it, *nothing* can, orgasm scraping down every nerve like a razor, so sharp and vivid it *hurts*. Distantly, he can feel John spurt across his stomach and chest, John's choked breathing against his ear.
Wrapping his arms around John's back, Rodney keeps him there, going soft inside him, riding out the aftershocks from John tight around him, stroking a slow hand up from ass to shoulder, trying to bring them both back. John's breath is hot on his neck, and the hand around his wrist, closed so tightly there'll be bruises he won't be able to hide with any shirt, loosens by slow degrees.
A few long seconds later, Rodney finally shifts John to the bed beside, hating to pull out, lose that tight warmth, lose *John*, depositing him carefully on his stomach, seeing the red scratch of his nails in raised ridges on John's back, fingertip bruises on his ass. A wary check of John comes back damp with speckles of blood mixed in, but not nearly as much as he'd thought. "John," he breathes, chest tight.
"I'm fine." Slowly, like the energy to talk is too much, John moves his head, hair hiding his eyes. "Seriously."
"Seriously," Rodney says, holding up his fingers so John can see the flecks. "You're going to hate me tomorrow."
John's mouth stretches in a slow, exhausted, utterly sated smile. "No. I won't."
It's not like he has the energy to argue. Hell, he barely has the energy to *breathe*. Slowly laying back down, Rodney wonders how much his cock is going to hate him in the morning for this, sensitive skin abraded pink. Fuck underwear. Fuck *pants*. Sarongs sound good. Naked sounds even better.
But. He gets up, stumbling to the bathroom, wetting down a clean washcloth and coming back, grabbing the antibiotic from the beside table, because irony isn't his friend and it would somehow just *work* that a few slices of a knife are fine, but John ends up seriously injured from fucking.
"Stay still," Rodney says when John lifts his head at the first cool touch. When John starts to sit up, Rodney sets a palm in the center of his back, pushing him into the bed. "I said, *stay still*." Nudging John's knees apart, Rodney kneels between them. Not much blood, but then again, Rodney's never fucked anyone to this point, so. John's body works at not flinching from every careful touch, Rodney can read it in every tense muscle when he strokes an extremely slick finger inside. "Breathe."
John shifts once, and Rodney looks up, but the angle and dark hair hide his expression.
After, Rodney collapses beside him, wondering if he should say something. Tentatively, he reaches out to touch John's hair, a mindbending mess that he loses his fingers in, still damp from the shower and sweat. John leans into it, shifting closer with every stroke. It's easy to coax John's head onto his shoulder, smelling of soap and sex and sweat, and Rodney touches now, just to feel him, the length of his back and the curve of his shoulder.
"John," Rodney says softly, and beneath his hand, he can feel John's back tense. "What happened?"
"I found out who else is following us." John lets out a breath, tilting his head up to give Rodney a disappointed look. "Way to kill post-coital glow there."
"Deal." Rodney rolls slowly onto his side, pulling John closer. "Who is it? Ronon's partner?" John's eyelashes feather down, hiding his eyes, and Rodney runs a slow thumb over his swollen lower lip.
"Partner," John confirms, eyes still closed.
"They were your friends."
Pressed together from head to toe, John's knee between his legs, arm over his waist, John can't hide anything with his body. Rodney strokes slowly up his back, soothing and gentle.
John's eyes open. "We all served together for years."
Two and two equal-- "You were their commander."
John smiles, quick and bright and so sharp it hurts. "I knew you were called a genius for some reason. Yeah. We--after I resigned, we drifted a little. Ronon and the others joined up with a private contractor." There's more in his voice than Rodney quite knows what to do with, but Rodney can read the tension, and bites back further questions. John's here, and they're--not. Won't be, if the bruises on his body are any indication.
"His partner? Did you--was he there?"
"Her," John says softly. "And no. They were hers, though. Had a message to deliver." John blows out a breath, rolling Rodney on his back, pulling his arms above his head, trapped in John's hands. When John kisses him, he can taste copper. "Stay like that," John breathes, sitting up in a fluid motion, like less than ten minutes ago he hadn't been boneless in their bed. The bruises are more vivid now, more than there were, darkening purple black, but John moves like he doesn't feel them. Rodney opens his mouth to object--there's no way he's up to this, that either of them are--but John's mouth is soft and sleek on his throat, his hand wrapping around Rodney's cock with a light, teasing touch, and oh. God.
"John," he says, word slurring when John's mouth moves down, tonguing his nipples soft and careful, sensitizing him, matching the light stroke on his cock. He's getting harder, skin stretching tight and sharp, painful and good all at once. Dark hair tangles around his fingers, and he opens his mouth again, thinking he'll say something, with John mouthing his stomach, his hips, leaving the impression of teeth in sharp bones, moving down and nuzzling against his cock. It's over then. "Oh God," he whispers, hard all at once, aching like he hadn't just been fucked through the mattress, and John looks up with a grin, painting his lips glossy wet with the tip of his tongue and holding Rodney's eyes when he swallows his cock.
Rodney forgets what he was going to say.
John's fully dressed when he wakes Rodney up, still dark outside. "We need to get to Lorne's."
The hand on his shoulder pulls back, John moving away from the bed while Rodney tries to figure out a way to make sleep-stiff, sex-bruised muscles relax and move, rolling slowly out of bed and barely getting his feet out before he lands in a puddle on the floor. "Oh. God. Never again."
Pressing his palms to the bed, he looks up to see John smirk from across the room. "That's not what you were saying last night."
"You did." John comes up beside him, crouching to look into his face. The still-swollen pink lips widen in a smile. "Come on." Gentle hands coax him up, leading him on the epic journey to the bathroom, where the shower's already on, invitingly warm, the sulfur content almost comforting in its familiarity. "You'll feel better with a shower."
He does, though not by much, coming back out with a threadbare towel wrapped around him, too sore to even bother drying his back as he pulls on the t-shirt and jeans on the bed, comfortably loose, the soft boxers rubbing against his skin uncomfortably, but no way is denim going to be any better without the protective layer. Sitting down, and noting John biting his lip against another smile, he pulls on his crosstrainers, screw socks.
Then John comes over, carrying a religious experience wrapped in a cheap ceramic mug, and Rodney sighs at the smell. "Give me that."
"Mmm. More human now?" John sits beside him with no sign of unease. Rodney tries not to resent it. Much. "Drink up. I want out of here." The green eyes flicker over the walls and door reflexively. "I packed up the car."
"The taxi?" Rodney asks, and John ducks his head. "You didn't get that Porsche. You *promised*."
"Oh God. I knew I shouldn't have fallen asleep."
"--I *didn't*, but no, I got something else. Something *domestic*." John's nose wrinkles on the words. "Drink up, I have thermos for you in the car." Standing up, John moves away but not, Rodney thinks with some comfort, as fluidly as he usually did. Rodney watches him automatically do a weapons check, wondering if John might just deserve a nice bazooka or maybe even one of those zats they'd been developing before his quick departure from the Cheyenne base. He could build him one, given materials and time, and just imagining John light up using one of those makes him grin, makes standing up easier, and he follows John to the door and the predawn gloom outside, wondering what kind of supplies he can get in Brazil.
Rodney kicks his heels in the hall outside the door, where he and Gary had been regulated when John came in, so subtly that Rodney hadn't realized he was doing it until the door was shut in their faces.
Leaning into the opposite wall, Rodney glares at Gary, who tries not to look panicked and failing utterly. Now that he's seeing him in good light, Rodney vaguely remembers him from the labs, a scurrying presence that tried his best to keep out of Rodney's warpath. "Botanist?" he says, just to see Parrish jump. It's relaxing. He misses having people to bully.
"Y-yeah," Parrish answers, looking at anything but Rodney. From behind the door comes indistinct yelling, something slamming down. Parrish straightens, looking alarmed. "Okay, what the fuck?"
The door slams open, Lorne stomping out, then spinning to glare. "You're fucked, Sheppard. They said you were an asshole, but not crazy."
John strolls out, for all the world like Lorne isn't having a slow attack of apoplexy right in front of him. "Then my reputation definitely has been maligned. Just chill. It'll work."
Lorne turns on Rodney, eyes narrowed dangerously. "And he knows?"
"We decided Brazil was the best option," John says easily, slipping between Rodney and Lorne, hooking a finger in Rodney's belt loop to pull him along. "It'll work, don't worry so much." With a bright grin over his shoulder, he leads Rodney to the stairs. "Meet us at the landing strip. I'll talk to our nice little salesguy, okay?"
Talking, as it turns out, is a euphemism for negotiations requiring the show of force and locking him in his own office, windowless and small, while he yells things that are probably filthy if Rodney knew the language at all. Thankfully, he doesn't. "He'll be fine," John says airily, pocketing the keys. Rodney blinks slowly, but honestly, at this point, nothing John does can surprise him. Glancing at his watch, John checks the sky, frowning at full sunrise. "They should be here."
Like in answer to John's will, a smoking little Kia Rio drives up, both men spilling out almost as soon as the engine has stopped. "Okay," John says with a bright smile, holding up the keys for Lorne to see. "Leave the money in the outer office. When he gets out, that'll soothe his hurt feelings."
"I knew I shouldn't have left it to you," Lorne says despairingly, but he ushers Parrish and their baggage toward the small private plane, still a nightmare of rust and horrible handling, but Rodney figures he'll just try and drug himself into sleep while they're in the air. Somewhere in his bags he has to have that ambient script. Somewhere. And he will find it.
John's eyes stay on the road into the airfield, like he's searching for something. Rodney follows his gaze, not seeing more than broken asphalt and deserted buildings. "What?"
John shrugs. "Always watch for the unexpected," he says, like that makes any sense. "Go load up," he says gently, pushing Rodney's arm. "I'll keep watch."
Parrish helps him stow everything away. Rodney looks up from kneeling behind the drivers' seat to see Lorne starting up. "Hey, I thought John was flying."
Lorne looks back at him sharply. "There was a change in plans."
A frisson of alarm runs down Rodney's back. Getting to his feet, ignoring the twitch of tense muscles, Rodney goes out the hatch, stumbling backward when he sees John waiting at the bottom of the stairs
Rodney's chest clenches. "You coming?"
John licks his lips, smile fading just a little. "Lorne is flying you straight into the country. Weir's people will be at the rendezvous point to take you to her, and trust me when I say, no one fucks with that lady. In my bag is all our cash and a new ID, just in case. But I don't think that'll be necessary. She'll take care of you."
Rodney's throat closes over as John takes a step back. "What are you doing, John?"
John straightens, grinning, snapping a salute so sharp that Rodney can almost hear it in the air. "So long, Rodney. Lorne. Good flying."
It's too fast. Rodney left his gun in his bag, because John hadn't reminded him to put it on, and he's sprawled on his back, Parrish, terrified and determined, perching on his chest. The hatch door shuts with a finality he can feel in every bone.
"Son of a bitch," Lorne says above him, rolling him sharply onto his side and snapping something around his wrists. "Son of a fucking *bitch*. Don't you fucking *dare*, McKay. We don't have time--he doesn't have time. That bitch is on her way here." Rodney stares up at him as Lorne jerks him into a sitting position. "We gotta get of here. The deal said she'd leave you alone for good if Sheppard stayed. That doesn't mean she won't go after us if you're still *here*."
"We can't leave him." Kicking at Parrish, Rodney tries to find his feet, but the hatch is shut tight and beneath him, the plane's begun to shiver, knocking him off balance. "What the *fuck*, Lorne? What deal? You let Sheppard stay back there? He's your friend, isn't he?"
Lorne's head twists around even as the plane starts to move. "This isn't about friendship, McKay, so shut the fuck up." The plane begins picking up speed, and Rodney gets Parrish off him with a kick, getting over a patched chair to look out the window. Far behind, he thinks he can see John, standing where he left him seconds ago.
They haven't left the ground. . They can still…. "Go back for him, Lorne. I'm not--"
"You're going," Lorne says grimly. "You're going to shut the fuck up and let me get us out of here so this won't be all for nothing." There's a stomach turning second of vertigo, nausea rising sweet and sharp in the back of his throat. They're in the air, and Parrish behind him makes a sound like a squeezed kitten.
Rodney stares at the ground below, rushing past, getting farther away, then pulls at his hands. "Unfasten these," he says softly. Parrish scrabbles behind him, cold fingers fumbling the handcuffs off, and Rodney turns as soon as his hands are free, punching him hard enough to send him to the deck.
"Fuck, McKay!" Lorne yells from the front, but Rodney's already there, staring at the jumble of the cockpit. He can't wrestle away control. He'd crash them. He has no idea how to fly a plane. "Don't you--"
"We have to go back," Rodney says, feeling for the gun that isn't against his hip. "We can't leave him, Lorne, we have to--"
Lorne tears his eyes away from the view for a few brief seconds. "It's already over, McKay." His voice shakes, shock or anger, Rodney's not sure. "She was coming up when we left." The dark eyes flicker straight ahead again, but Rodney can see the tell-tale tremble of his hands on the controls. "It's over."
Sinking into the copilot's seat, Rodney stares out the window. "Why?" he hears himself say.
"Getting you out is what he came to do," Lorne says slowly. He doesn't look at Rodney again. "Go--go get some rest. It'll be a while before we get to our first refuel point."
Numbly, Rodney stumbles to his feet, feeling the speed of the plane in every tendon, balance shot, and he lurches into a seat, stomach turning over when he looks out into the clouds.
"McKay?" Parrish's voice is soft with worry, maybe from a broken nose. Rodney ignores him. "Do you need anything?"
"No," Rodney says, remembering John before he stepped away, the sharp salute, and that quicksilver smile. Circling his bruised wrist with light fingers, he closes his eyes. "I don't."