Author: jenn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Codes: McKay, Sheppard/McKay
Summary: In this place, this room, he sees the galaxy Pegasus will someday be again.
Author Notes: For thepouncer's prompt: wrist, rose, cathedral
Beta courtesy of amireal
At first, the botanists grew roses, twisting along the edges of the tertiary botany lab, and climbing up to the balconies, winding between the rails. They've cut them back a few times, working plant life into living art, bundles winding around pillars and down columns, soaking sun from the four walls of windows and glass ceiling arched high above them.
They bred for thornless, no place to catch on skin or clothing, velvet-soft petals and smooth green leaves. Intense in reds and yellows, the genetically created blues and brilliant purples, a rainbow of heady scent and vivid color. Someone set benches in corners, arbors hand-built from Ancient debris, a pool once used for hydroponics a pond filled with small alien koi. Lab-bred moss carpets the metal edges of the pool, vividly green, dotted with tiny white flowers like pinpricks of light. Box gardens of butter-yellow daffodils line the walls and create walkways between Pegasus bred tulips and Athosian starflowers that glow silver even during daylight. Thick ferns have found corners with tiny apple trees swaying over short strips of grass. The air's always humid, thick with scent, and Rodney never leaves without a thin skin of rosewater coating his skin, soaking into his clothes. In the morning, his room always smells of flowers.
It's a waste of resources and space, overtaxing the water filtration system and the environmentals; careful and meticulous attention paid to humidity and temperature to create something that stopped being a botanical experiment years ago.
Now, it's just beautiful. The days are crowded, people on lunch or break, bare feet dangling in the pool for fish to nibble at their toes. Nights are less so.
Ronon laid out Satedan spices on the far left, yellow and pink and deep blue like the sky in the evening, used for meat seasonings and sleeping aids and flavoring for cake. Teyla brought blue-green heath and bloodberry bushes from Athos, glossy red even at night. Simpson and Miko adapted sunflowers, heads bending lazily over clover and Indian paintbrush; Elizabeth planted cherry trees and narcissus; it's all a foreign language of plantlife that Rodney learns at night, long after even third shift sleeps.
Ten years. It's been ten years; long enough for apples to bloom round and yellow, for cherries to be added to pie. Long enough to adapt to Satedan ginger and prefer Athosian vanilla. Long enough for Rodney to close his eyes and name each flower by scent; astringent alovera and tart mint, subtle breaths of ripening fruit as the environmentals blow cool air through the room, the rich green scent of rustling leaves from Genii hardwoods towering over his head. Atlantis is a fortress, an endless scientific wonderland, a lab, a home, but it's become this, too--everything that a thousand worlds have offered, in gifts and promises, a future created of the fruits of living worlds. When Rodney breathes, he remembers planets Wraith-raped, burned soil and stunted trees, a hundred years for the land to heal; but they have it here, too, and one day, they'll take it back. In this place, this room, he sees the galaxy Pegasus will someday be again.
Rodney smirks as a body settles beside him, watching narrow bare feet slide into the pool beside his own, pants legs hastily rolled up hairy calves. The moss is soft, raising fragrance, heady and sweet, as John sits down. Turning his head, Rodney tries to frown, but he thinks that mostly, he looks happy. He looks into eyes the color of the leaves above them, of the earth that they grow in, a face he knows like his own and sometimes better, faded scars, new lines of time and war, but with a smile that's never changed, never been less than breathtaking.
A shoulder presses against his, easy trust of weight, God, so casual, just to sit together, feet brushing in cool water as fish swirl between them. Creeper vines swing gently against Rodney's leg, fur-soft and light as air, and Rodney reaches blindly, hand resting on John's thigh, warm and solid, no thigh-holster in evidence.
A good day, no missions, no emergencies, no disasters. Just quiet. "Tired?"
John makes a dissenting noise, head tilting, and Rodney closes his eyes at the brush of skin against his jaw, a bright burn of stubble, smelling of gun oil and faded aftershave and clean sweat from a long day. When he turns his head, John tastes like cherries, sweet and tart, and Rodney finds more with his fingers, tangled in John's lap. John's slow when he kisses, methodical the way he's not anywhere else, exploring known territory with careful licks and gentle swipes, teeth a tender graze to mark a spot. Rodney'd never known this before John, that something so familiar could be so new, finding air with a breathy groan and Sheppard's grin against his cheek, surrounded in a world of green.
But he's always been cautious, even when they no longer need to be. "Is anyone--"
"Locked," Sheppard murmurs, one hand sliding from Rodney's throat to his hip, easing him back into soft moss by the pool, green tree limbs spread up above them like a cathedral's ceiling just below the darkness of eternal space. Running his hands up John's sides, Rodney cups his hips, pulling him closer, cherry-stained lips grinning down at him. The world is built of dark trunks of Pegasus trees, the rustle of leaves, the gentle sounds of falling water trickling over native rock, a small space that's warm and quiet and theirs.
John's elbows rest on either side of him, fingers threading through Rodney's hair, thumb smoothing across his eyebrow, his nose, tracing his face with hands like he does with his eyes. A slow brush of lips follows his fingers, pressed to forehead and then cheek and then lips, as quick and soft as the touch of a butterfly's wings. Rodney edges up John's t-shirt with one hand, skin as smooth as rose petals sliding beneath his fingers, warm and fluid, responding to the trace of his nails. He loves this, loves John's weight pressing into him, onto him, loves that he can touch like this, run his fingers over ribs and hips and know John will never want to draw away.
There's a breath against his lips before the next kiss, soft-mouth and closed, smooth like the flow of water over rock, gentle, like Rodney's fragile when he's anything and everything but.
Rodney slides a wet foot from the water, trailing it up John's bare calf, smiling into the next kiss as John breathes a laugh against his mouth. Rodney licks open John's lips, feeling sixteen and stupid with this, this happiness that's in this place, this time, embodied in this man he can't remember living without. Winding both arms around his neck, Rodney pulls him in, ankle locking behind John's knee--*mine, give it to me*--tasting John and cherries and over a thousand nights just like this one and nothing like them at all. He's greedy and lazy and warm, rough cotton caught between them until Rodney reaches down to skim it away, baring pale gold flesh and dark hair, metal tags brushing the skin of Rodney's throat. Reaching up, Rodney tangles his fingers in warm metal and licks open John's mouth to remember John's taste again, like it's something he could ever forget.
"John," he murmurs, turning his head as John slowly mouths down his throat, teeth grazing over tendons, tongue slicking away the sting, sucking slow and soft at his pulse, wet and so good Rodney's hard against Sheppard's hip.
Ten *years*, and this is still somehow new, running slow fingers up Sheppard's back as he arches like a cat, leaning into the scrape of fingernails like there's nothing he wants more. Rodney feels John growl against his throat, teeth skimming up to his chin, a gentle bite below his ear, sucking cherry-red circles into his skin. John's hard, too, but lazy, moving as slowly as the leaves that shelter them, stretching time like it's taffy, like they can be here forever doing nothing else.
John eases away, as far as the length of metal chain tangled in Rodney's fingers, flashing a grin as he reaches down, sliding Rodney's shirt up, warm hands following bare flesh, raising goosebumps everywhere he touches. Wet calves settle on either side of Rodney's thighs, wet cloth soaking cool water through his pants against Rodney's skin, and John's head turns away briefly, hand reaching for something in the shadow of their bodies. When he turns back, Rodney sees a cherry between his teeth.
John presses it between Rodney's teeth with the tip of his tongue, flesh unbroken, drawing back to retrieve another, this one nestled into the hollow of Rodney's throat. Rodney watches the third come to rest in the center of his chest, brilliantly red, glossy from John's mouth and tongue, before John turns his head, taking a nipple in his mouth.
Rodney shakes at the sudden touch, a hand against his shoulder holding him still, watching as John works lips and tongue and teeth, licking the tip like a cat, grazing teeth over the hardening flesh, sucking slowly, luxuriously, tasting Rodney's skin like ripe fruit. When he pulls back, licking his lips, Rodney's flesh is the color of the cherry and he can feel every brush of air like a touch.
Rodney's not ready when John's lips close over the other, even watching the pink length of John's tongue draw a line across his chest, circling the nub lazily, hardened by the time he nips, cat-quick, sending a shock down Rodney's spine like electricity. Rodney breathes into the suck of John's mouth, the hands tracing slow circles on his sides, sliding up to link the fingers of one hand before he lifts up, reaching down and biting into half the cherry in Rodney's mouth, tart-sweetness flooding Rodney's mouth, spitting the pit away before sharing the taste.
"Yeah," Rodney breathes as John's head dips, picking the second cherry; another discarded pit, another burst of flavor, while John licks the juice from his lips, his cheek, following it down the line of his chin and cheek, hips pressing to Rodney's to keep him still when he wants to be anything but. "John."
"Shhh." The third he bites in half, coming back up to Rodney's mouth in a single fluid moment, tongue pressing it inside, then following, wet and sticky and so good that Rodney's twisting against John, trying to get pressure, rough scrape of material, anything that he can get, an ache that's spreading through his body like heat. The second part of the cherry is pushed into his mouth just as John leans back, on the edge of the chain in Rodney's hand, lifting up enough for deft fingers to unbutton the top of his pants, sliding them down just enough to free his cock, soothing it with one slow, sticky stroke. John pulls against Rodney's grip, but Rodney pulls back, pushing up to get an arm around John's neck, take his mouth, drag him back down, warm and heavy, rubbing against the bare flesh of John's stomach, smooth skin and silky hair.
The world's narrowed into nothing but this; soft, soft moss rubbing against his back; John, warm and heavy in his arms; John's hot, wet mouth and shifting hips, swaying shadows dappling them both as they fall into a rhythm they know so well that it's coming home. Reaching between them, Rodney gets the button of John's pants unfastened, pushing them down narrow hips, lining them up with one trembling hand and tasting John's gasp.
Rodney's world is John's soft, broken gasps against his mouth, his ear, the slick sound of their skin, the way John looks down at him, wide-eyed, pupils blown to the endless dark of space, wonder filling them with light. It's a narrow strip of soft ground and the whisper of leaves, and John, who says *love you* with soft pants of air and gentle twists of his body, and Rodney answers in the language he knows as well as the flowers that surround them.
Heat crawls up his spine like clinging vines, lighting up every place they touch and every place they don't. He comes with his tongue in John's cherry-flavored mouth, surprised, shocked, still for a second that lasts forever, slicking the space between them before John comes with a bite to his lip, soothing an apologetic tongue over the sharp taste of blood.
Ten years, and it's still so new that Rodney still shakes with it.
He eases John's head down, fingers lost in silky hair, feeling John's contented sigh as John settles on his chest, Rodney's arm tightening possessively when he shifts. "Not going anywhere," John murmurs, and Rodney smiles and closes his eyes. "I know."