However. I have not been genuinely shocked by a choice of remix before. Except when Katherine freaking redid an entire series and I'm still amazed she pulled that off. That was neat.
So anyway. In a combination of egoism (whee my story!) and also because if the remixer is like me, they stared at it for ten minutes (hours, days) and told ten friends "She is going to hate this and unfriend me and then send ninjas, I can feel it"--what I liked about this.
Shed Your Skin (The Sledgehammer Remix)
Shed Your Skin (original)
Rodney pov - expected, yes. The way she went about it? Fantastic. This isn't, in a lot of ways, a second season story. This is a remix of a second season story into the fourth season. A retrospective, if you will. I was very grounded in first season canon and fanon--one might say, really grounded, but the remix author doesn't have those limitations. A lot more of Rodney's vulnerabilities we know now are on display here, with a complexity of emotion expressed both verbally and in his actions that are very, very post-Grace Under Pressure Rodney and a little post-The Tao of Rodney Rodney.
Rodney and Being Pwned
The first scene is very Rodney in all the ways I love him and he exasperates me, from entitlement to disbelief to anger and all the way back again:
"Okay, he might have said to keep everybody out? But he didn't mean me,"
It's starting to sink in -- John's shutting them all out, even him -- and Rodney's exasperation is transmuting to anger. It burns white-hot and satisfying.
He doesn't like the way the bitterness shows through. Of all the things he wants and isn't supposed to have, John is top on the list. But being locked out of John's private infirmary room? After what they went through to try to get those eggs? That just adds insult to injury.
And below it all, that thread of worry he can admit on one hand and barely acknowledge on the other; it's one thing to have your team leader hurt and rejecting you; it's another if it's a friend; but being the object of Rodney's affection? New freaking world order of complexity.
Kinda have to wonder what John was thinking. Wait, this I know:
Shed Your Skin:
John reaches out with one hand, grabbing clumsily at the bar, one almost-talon brushing McKay's hand.
They both flinch, and John fumbles the candy, letting it fall on the sheet covering his lap. "Shit. Rodney. Did I--" One scratch, that'd be enough, one tiny *prick*, blood to blood, dead sloughing skin chock full of this shit, and McKay would--could--might--
"No," Rodney says, but his hand's in his lap, fingers running over the place John had touched like he's trying to scrub the feeling away. The skin reddens as John watches, feeling sicker by the second. "No, nothing, don't--"
Don't, they tell him, but there are reasons John likes curtains and he likes wall, and even better, he likes his quarters, with locking doors and low lights.
The disconnect is interesting--it wouldn't occur to Rodney that John was afraid. This is John. He rides nukes for fun. Even if it did, it would never occur to Rodney that John would lump team into that group that would potentially be afraid of him. John's their leader, but more importantly than that, he's part of their family. There is no way they wouldn't come for him, stay with him, care for him, or be afraid of him (when he is not trying to kill them actively, in which case they will sedate him and see above). A part of me thinks this also make a fantastic pre-Rodney to Epiphany, where the same issues are explored a lot more thoroughly. It would never occur to the team, or Rodney, to leave John behind. John, however, is not so much hip to this one.
Rodney and the Stages of WTF
The first stage of Rodney's Stages of WTF are, of course, retaliation:
Shed Your Skin:
Beckett sighs, leaning back, but his hand doesn't move from John's wrist. "I can't get into m'quarters."
John blinks. "Malfunction?"
"Strange one. Have to get Zelenka down to get me out this morning. Suspicious."
John almost smiles. "How'd you piss off McKay?"
Beckett's head cocks slightly. "I'm not the one that did, Colonel. But I'll be paying the price until you get your head from your ass."
Carson's life is hard. He doesn't agree, but he does understand, and he knows that the actual problem wouldn't be solved by overruling John even if he could.
"Locking Carson into his quarters was not nice."
Rodney huffs a little laugh. "So?"
"It is not Carson's policy keeping you away from Colonel Sheppard."
"No, but Carson gave in to John's ridiculous demands," Rodney points out.
When in doubt, or when one's commander is behaving in mysterious and illogical ways--well, you take what satisfaction you can get.
I like Zelenka confronts him on it, not particularly accusatory--because this is Rodney, and confronting a hurricane never ends well--but acts as a reminder. The actual point of the problem isn't Carson; what Rodney wants to do, see his friend, offer help and comfort and support, are closed to him. Carson's just the only one Rodney can take his frustration out with; the person he wants is too vulnerable to risk, and Rodney knows that direct action at this point isn't possible. He's still not sure what the problem is.
When he returns to the table, Radek is mostly through with his own breakfast, but he's still sitting there. "You should talk to Carson."
"I don't think he's going to change his mind." Rodney would like to think he could talk Carson into letting him in to John's room, but rationally he knows there's not a chance.
"You might still be able to learn something about how Colonel Sheppard is doing."
Translation: yes, retaliation is fun. Working out the problem is better.
I loved the talk between Carson and Rodney; dry, direct, and on Carson's side, understanding and most interestingly, a clever redirection. Giving Rodney a focus of something to do, something to think about and work on, a way to help John when John's rejecting all help. It soothes the helplessness, giving Rodney a temporary focus of something to do.
"He's scratching himself in his sleep," Carson says, flatly. "The -- molting -- doesn't seem to be painful, but I get the feeling the itching is pretty uncomfortable."
Rodney winces. He had an allergic reaction once that progressed from hives to an eruption of itching on his skin. Being awake was hellish, but sleeping wasn't an option; the itching was too intense. He remembers limping to the bathroom, soaking a washcloth with cold water, and plastering it against his skin. And he remembers wanting to scream when the soothing cold was outweighed by the abrasive qualities of the terrycloth.
"Don't we have anything --"
"The first cream we tried was excruciatingly painful."
And that's a mental image Rodney wishes he could un-see. "Surely we have more than one option we can try?"
"And the second one was apparently worse."
Rodney waits, but Carson doesn't say anything else. "What -- that's it?"
"I shouldn't have told you even this much," Carson backpedals, and Rodney holds up a hand.
And yes, I totally think Carson told him deliberately. It was that or sleep in the hall for a few days. It's also a wonderful look at Carson and Rodney's easy friendship and Carson's understanding of Rodney; when in doubt, give him work. Productive work at that. At this point, all Carson can do is balance them both until one of them is acting reasonably.
"Fine. Let me help."
"He was quite explicit about not wanting company," Carson begins.
"No no no, that's not what I meant." Rodney snaps his fingers and points at the biohazard container. "Give me some...bits of skin," he says. "I'll see what I can come up with that won't be reactive."
Carson raises an eyebrow. "You'll deign to dabble in chemistry?" But he's already getting up and fetching a handful of petri dishes, clear plastic pucks.
Perfect. That entire scene between them is excellent in both how well they know each other, how far they know they can push each other, and compromise. It's not something Rodney has with John yet, not entirely, and it's not complicated with Rodney's attraction to John.
Radek and Carson are fantastic here, basically doing the same thing; redirecting Rodney's unformed frustration into channels that are productive both for Rodney and for John. Rodney's thinking emotionally, not logically, and they both know it, and they both know how to deal with it. They work through Rodney expertly--identify the problem, introduce a solution, send him on his way to terrorize it into submission. It's pretty awesome.
Rodney and The Lotion of Pining
This is my favorite part: the Awesome Seriously Not Thinking of This As Lube, Honestly, Lotion Creation.
Yes, he's supposed to be resequencing part of the power grid for greater efficiency, but he can hand that off to Radek, and he does. The team is grounded until John's himself again anyway, and Elizabeth seems to assume that he and Ronon and Teyla will take some time off while they wait for John to heal.
Instead Rodney commandeers a lab no one else is using, and starts experimenting with different kinds of salve.
*g* I love this, mostly because I can see Rodney doing this with an utter disregard for priority. And in this case, I don't even think it's Rodney's ego at work. A part of him can make the excuse that their military commander is a pretty damn high priority and I doubt anyone would argue it. But this isn't about Atlantis' military commander. Rodney's carrying hideous hives flashbacks and the last time he saw John's hands.
Shed Your Skin
Beckett moves faster than John can--one hand slides around his arm, jerking it out, and John flinches, can't help it, long red lines from talons, fading pink into pale flesh. His lower arm's still half-other, but the area around it is the delicate pink and white of new skin, edged with angry red from sharp fingernails.
This is about John hurting and Rodney restricted from helping, even if the only help he could offer was distraction (they're both actually really good at that; it says a lot about Rodney that he knows the difference between being an asshole and being a friend, knowing the lines and knowing when to cross them and when. John's good at it too; it shows in how they argue and when, how to turn it on and how to turn it off.)
Shed Your Skin (beginning scene):
"It's all vanity, you know," McKay says comfortably from behind the curtain.
"Go. Away." John never knew that he could be annoyed as much by McKay's disembodied voice as the man himself. "Seriously. I'm *molting*."
McKay's head peers out briefly, before John can leap for the sheet. "*Molting*? Really?" The blue eyes are alight with scientific curiosity and not a little sheer glee.
Son of a fucking--John grabs a pillow, but all that Wraith strength was the first to go, and it barely bounces the edge of the bed before falling on the floor. He'd tried the same thing with Teyla and Ronan earlier. It hadn't helped.
And Rodney knows, just like John does, that being left alone to stare at the walls and contemplate is the worst. Thing. Ever. John's internal by nature, the way Rodney isn't. Both of them are used to being able to find something to do outside themselves when they need it; in this case, John doesn't have work and is too freaked out by people to get that. And through Shed Your Skin, it really shows the problems inherent when you don't have that.
"The vote of confidence is appreciated," Radek says mildly. He comes over to peer over Rodney's shoulder. "I knew a man in Bratislava who made lubricant in his lab after-hours."
"Out of what, cornstarch and water?"
"That was one option, but it had the unfortunate tendency to turn into glue."
Rodney snorts. He's only half-listening; he's thinking about the properties of polyethylene oxide.
"But that is not what you are doing."
"I might be," Rodney says. "There are a lot of women in Atlantis who are interested in me."
"Not women only," Radek says, and Rodney looks up and glares at him for that.
Because Radek isn't stupid and while Rodney may not admit being hurt by what feels like a personal rejection from someone he cares about, Radek knows this is a lot more than Rodney feeling entitled to something. There's a lot of emotion, reasonable or not, wrapped up in Rodney's actions, and Radek respects and understands it.
I love how Radek gives suggestions while Rodney works; they're a lot better together in season two, post-The Siege II and Trinity than they were first season, and this reflects the transition that season two had on them as coworkers and as friends.
"Glycerine's going to work better," Rodney says. It will help moisturize John's skin, and doesn't seem to be reactive with the alien tissue. Of course, it will also be obscenely slippery. Now there's a pretty mental image, one Rodney can't resist. He can imagine rubbing the stuff into John's skin. Feeling John respond beneath his fingers.
The back of Rodney's neck prickles uncomfortably. He shouldn't be thinking about this.
Awesome Seriously Not Thinking of This As Lube, Honestly, Lotion that Rodney is not at all thinking of in any way other than pain relief.
But you know, perks. There are always perks.
Rodney and the Lotion of Pining, Take Two
Continuing from the that scene, Rodney and Okay, Fine, It's Not Just About Our Friendship moment.
If he does manage to get this stuff calibrated -- and he doesn't doubt for a moment that he will; this isn't rocket science -- he knows the appropriate thing to do will be to hand it off to Carson. Get one of the nurses who works in the infirmary to apply it. Keep everything above-board and clinical.
But damn it, he doesn't want to. John locking them out just makes him want in, even more than usual.
He wants John to have relief, but more than that, he wants to be the one who brings it to him. Wants to make John confront how much John needs him.
What he wasn't admitting before--what Carson and Radek both knew from the first sign of temper--is that this is personal. This isn't about his team leader; it's not even as much about his friend, though that's a huge part of it; this is about John, and John's need to be self-sufficient because he doesn't trust people to catch him when he falls, and Rodney's need for John to know he can fall all he wants and Rodney will catch him. Not just the people of Atlantis, or their team: after all this time, Rodney wants John to understand this. Rodney will catch him. Rodney will go to creepy caves and watch John do a flying squirrel impression. John is John and the rest does not matter.
But this is John. They've been on a slow trajectory toward collision since they first got to Atlantis. And having almost lost him (again) to the goddamned iratus bugs (again) makes Rodney feel reckless. Like it's about time he exerted a little more gravitational force, because it's possible they won't have all the time in the world to keep orbiting one another.
This is possibly one of the best descriptions of their relationship ever written. I love the wording, the rhythm when you read it, the clarity and certainty of it for Rodney and maybe for John as well. It's never been a this will never happen, not for either of them. It's always been a not yet. Pegasus is hard and it teaches the old fashioned way, where every failure is paid out in blood. It's not that they don't know this; but for Rodney, it's the first time he's been hit with it this hard, when he's restricted from seeing John, from assuring himself that John's okay, from light banter that can cover a lot of sins and a lot of feelings; here, he's left with a frightening absolute. Not yet could turn into not ever.
Maybe the burning desire to touch has something to do with the need to reassure himself that John is real, and alive, and breathing. And maybe it's just the thing he's always wanted -- the thing he's pretty sure John's wanted, too -- and this is, finally, the chance he can't resist.
With everything else stripped away, he's left with that, with knowing what he wants and more importantly, with knowing that he can act on it.
Like I said, Rodney's all about external focus to get internal balance. Rodney's found his internal balance. It's more than I want, it's even more than I can have, it's the fragile realization that there's intersection--What I want is what he wants. And that changes everything.
Rationally he knows this will constitute taking advantage. John couldn't be much clearer about wanting walls. Distance. Defenses. But -- damn it, John had to know that pushing Rodney away was only going to make him find a way to break in. There's nothing like a barrier to make him want to push through.
But wanting isn't in the same ballpark as having, either, and in all honest, he doesn't want to take what's not freely offered. Mostly, what he wants is for John to at least acknowledge the chance, and give them both the opportunity to try. And he knows right now may be his best bet, not just because John's vulnerable, but because Rodney can show him, show him what this means to him, what John means to him, in a way he can't otherwise.
I am all about the verbs here.
And besides, he can't shake the feeling that John thinks they're afraid of him. Or should be. And that's actually more than Rodney can bear.
And boom, we have revelation, that unsure niggling feeling that's been chasing him. Rodney wants to know why more than anything; he's a scientist who has spent his life devoted to answering that question.
Rodney and the Clever Plan
Ruthlessness is hot on Rodney. It's also fascinating to see him work; he's not assuming it'll be easy. He just assumes he'll get it done anyway. He builds nuclear bombs in a few days and saves Atlantis weekly; there's no way he can fail. First, the things he knows.
It's not hard to find out who's working third shift in the infirmary. Five nurses, though only two of their names are familiar. Susie Lavande is French and younger than Rodney. She likes to drink. He emails her an offer of a bottle of Athosian brandy -- incredibly expensive now that the vineyards of Athos are not only untended but destroyed -- and she accepts instantly. She's in his pocket now.
Rodney wants to groan with exasperation when he sees the next name: Chris Kaplan. Kaplan is a pain in the ass. He tried to start a multiplayer Quake server not long after they got to Atlantis. Only someone on the support staff -- and Rodney can't help seeing the nurses and the cooks that way -- could fail to understand why people like Rodney don't want to spend their spare time shooting at things. Rodney scowls at his computer, but just like that, the answer's obvious: Kaplan's been lusting after Rodney's X-Box ever since it arrived.
Rodney doesn't give a damn about the X-Box. Video games that used to seem so inventive have, not so oddly, lost their lustre here. It's hard for anything on a little screen to compare with the actual adrenaline rush of life in Pegasus. He emails Kaplan and offers to trade the X-Box if Kaplan will look the other way. Kaplan responds so quickly Rodney rolls his eyes. That's two.
Like I said. No way he can fail. And the less obvious are just new and exciting ways to Get Shit Done. He Dr. Rodney Fucking McKay, after all; just freaking bow already.
Right. I know. I just love this entire scene ridiculously.
Now, security footage:
And then he turns his attention to the security feed. Getting his hands on nighttime footage isn't hard; he knows where the buffer files are. All he really has to do there is hack into the system, loop the footage, and create a macro so that a quick combination of keystrokes will shift the actual camera feed to his feed.
Making the digital time readout in the corner of the screen continue to creep forward, on top of the looped footage, is slightly harder, but Rodney figures it out in about twenty minutes. Of course, he wants to page John and crow about the discovery, but he can't.
For his three unknowning conspirators--first, he needs information.
By then Lorne has written back. Fine doesn't really know the Colonel, he says. She seems kind of scared of him, actually. These days. That's exactly what Rodney needs, though anger thrums like a tight tripwire in his gut. It's no wonder John has a complex if his own nurses are frightened of being around him.
And boom, he has his entry. He also has his confirmation of what John's thinking; it's not about self-sufficiency or a sudden and inexplicable loss of sanity. This is about fear, both other people's of John and John's own.
"I'm not comfortable leaving Colonel Sheppard unattended," she says.
"Okay, first of all, you're not comfortable attending him either," Rodney snaps, and he can see from her flinch that he's scored a hit. "And secondly he won't be unattended, because I'll be with him."
There's a pause. He stares at her, practically daring her to argue. He knows she won't fight him on this, and sure enough, she doesn't.
So he's not in the first stage of WTF and retaliating--that doesn’t mean he can't twist the knife a little. He's on a schedule and has a mission; he doesn’t have time to deal with stupidity. But it doesn't hurt to remind her that at any time, he *could*.
It says something, though, about him, about his focus, about how important this is to him, right here:
As he walks back to his lab, he's already thinking about nightfall.
He's already forgotten she exists.
Rodney and the Room of Requirement
And time for action. Everything goes as planned; this is Rodney, after all. Then he sees John.
John tied to the bed is every bit as arousing, and disturbing, as Rodney expected. For a moment Rodney tries to imagine they're in John's quarters -- his Johnny Cash poster hanging overhead, the dull sparkle of the old Lantean curtains -- but the mental image falters. This is the infirmary, plain and antiseptic, and the thought of John alone in here fills Rodney's heart with compassion that almost hurts.
For me, this was a gentle reflection of a later scene in the original--foreshadowing, if you will, on Rodney's later methods, what he's been hoping for longer than he wants to admit.
Shed Your Skin:
"I'll come by at night. After you think everyone's sleeping. When you're not ready for people. When you're not ready for me. And you'll answer the door and you'll try to snap back into the image, but you won't have time. I know better than to let you. Once you're inside yourself, I'll never be able to get you out again." McKay's fingers draw a slow pattern on John's lower stomach, across the line of another peeling line of flesh, scratching idly. "It's so frustrating, you've got to know that. How much you hold back. But I want everything from you, and if this is the only way I'll get it, I can do that. I'll push you inside and close the door."
John's eyes close under the double assault of fingers and voice, and his body arches into the touch instinctively.
"You don't expect it, so you just look at me, and I touch you, here." The warm hand cups John's bare hip. "You're not ready for it, and you try to get away, try to get some distance between us, because I finally found the one thing that scares you, that someone might get close." McKay's other hand slides over, fingers pressing hard against his left hip. "I'm not letting you get away that easily.
"Open your eyes, John."
In a few lines, that's a fantastic reference to that later scene, complete with both Rodney's certainty and his hope all together; he never found a way in before, never found a way he thought would work, that this isn't just something he wants, but something he wants John to want, too.
He sets that aside. It's not what he needs right now. Besides, he's pretty sure it'll look like pity to John, and that's definitely not the mood he's going for.
And wouldn't that be a quick way to short circuit all of it. John takes pity very, very badly. He doesn't want that with them, with him, even the possibility of it.
The overlap here is perfect between the two; I like the beginning and how it's reinterpreted through Rodney, who's entire focus is reinforcing what he wants John to know; that John doesn't scare him, that John's important, that this is important, important enough to risk a confrontation on something neither of them until now have fully acknowledged. Even a hint of being uncertain will break this; John will read it as fear and Rodney already knows that's the worst possible interpretation there can be.
Rodney and the Afterglow
To this day, I wonder why on earth I left Rodney without an orgasm. I mean, I know why, but I felt bad about it, because, well, that was hot. And it was cruel. And Rodney spent a lot of time being painfully turned on and still try to look like he totally knew what he was doing.
He doesn't allow the giddiness to bubble through until he steps into his quarters and the door closes behind him.
"Nice work," he says to himself in the mirror, yanking his shirt off over his head and grinning goofily at his reflection.
Though his glee dims a little when he remembers John saying I didn't know who I was. What I was. Idiot. John honestly thought he'd lost himself. Okay, maybe John had, a little, but -- he thought he had to do all of the finding, too. Like he can't lean on the team. Like they won't want him if he doesn't have a complete grip on who he's supposed to be.
I love this reflection of the scene in the original:
Shed Your Skin:
Rodney's quiet for a second. "Cadman wasn't the same." His voice is thoughtful. "It was separate entities sharing the same space. And don't make me go into how utterly against the laws of man and nature what happened *was*, because it will just piss me off. But. When you wake up in the morning feeling like someone else used you, touched you--places that aren't theirs, that they don't have the right to touch, seeing what you saw even when you don't want them to, feeling what you felt--yeah. When you look into the mirror and think you see someone else looking back at you--I can understand that."
John closes his eyes. "Yes."
"Those things change you. But don't assume that--Christ, John. If you had to stay like this, between two, we'd just get you a uniform that goes well with blue skin. Seriously. *What the hell*?"
It's not pity and it's not fear and I love how that reflects between the two so well. A good reference back to that scene without rewriting it. Also, paydirt. All objectives achieved. It is totally time for a party.
He remembers what it felt like on his fingertips. How John reacted to the lotion, and to Rodney's touch. It won't feel as good to him as it did to John, obviously -- he's not molting, for fuck's sake -- but he wants to try it anyway.
He pushes his boxers down his hips and slathers a handful of the stuff on his cock, which has been semi-hard since he first touched John tonight. The lotion is slick, it feels luxurious, and he remembers the way John bit back a gasp when he touched John's nipple. How John arched into his hands.
Rodney's cock throbs, at that, and for a minute he just holds his hand steady, pretending he's not going to move. It's as if his hand remembers what it felt like to clasp John's dick, hard and hot and filling his palm, and now his own dick is closing the circuit.
Unlike John, he's not tied to his bed; Rodney kicks the sheet away, bends his knees and plants his feet, and lets his hips thrust up a little. Picking up the pace. His other hand reaching down to cup his balls (John liked that; he's pretty sure John whimpered), rubbing just there --
He's fucking up into his closed fist, now, the salve making obscene slick sucking sounds as he moves. Remembering how it felt to skim his fingertips along the ridges on John's neck and jaw, the bumps and scales on his chest. How John's own skin looked alien where Rodney peeled the blue away.
Or an orgasm. Yes. The Lotion of Longing has done its job.
They're going to do this again. He's going to torment John again tomorrow night: more stories, another handjob. Maybe even the night after that. And by the time John gets out of the infirmary he'll be eager for payback. He'll hold Rodney down and suck his dick, maybe. Or -- oh -- turn him over and fuck him. John could probably make him beg, if he set his mind to it.
And even when John's body is back the way it was, Rodney will remember this. And so will John. That's what does it for him: the thought of John moving in him, payback for how he slid inside John's defenses. John, fueled by these memories, fucking him slow and hard and so, so good.
Rodney and the Morning After
So he got his point across. He got John. He got an orgasm. If there was a list (and I bet there was), all objectives were fulfilled. Next time, orgasm with John, but next time, he won't be working through their issues.
He can hear their voices from down the hall, Ronon's low rumble and Teyla's delighted laughter.
"Rodney, thank you," Carson says, as Rodney walks by. "The lotion's quite successful, I think it's already improved matters significantly."
In other words, John was calm and vaguely cheerful and didn't stare at Carson resentfully for breathing. Carson pays absolutely no attention to the wastebasket with all that dead skin that there is no way John could have gotten to, the fact John's so relaxed he actually smiles, or the terrifying feeling he's walked into the end of a porn movie. There are some things Carson seriously does not want to know. Ever.
"I wasn't sure you were coming," John offers, nonchalant as can be.
Rodney's insides do a somersault, at that. He's pretty sure what John's really saying is, I thought you'd changed your mind.
On some level he's disturbingly flattered by the notion that he could so easily turn John Sheppard into a jilted teenaged girl, but that's not a part of him he wants to indulge. Besides, the power differential between them right now is incredibly fucked-up. It's not like he's not going to enjoy that while it lasts, but he wants to make sure John gets it. Weird sexy power games? Absolutely. Actual emotional manipulation? Not his idea of a good time.
An interesting reminder of Rodney earlier, that line between taking something and having something freely offered. Only the second is worth pursuing and only the second gives him something he can keep.
The team stuff is excellent; Ronon and Teyla keeping it light and friendly and warm, emphasizing the security Rodney wants John to have with them. They're not being careful at all; they're being honest, and John can see that now.
And the promising ending:
"We'll see about that," John mutters. Just like that, heat flares up Rodney's spine. He remembers John straining to reach him, his whole body arched like a bow. The hunger. The kiss.
"I should, ah, I told Zelenka I wouldn't be gone long," Rodney says hastily. Ronon and Teyla are going to figure them out, but it's too soon; he doesn't want them to know yet, and he's afraid if he keeps sitting there he'll give it away. He stands and folds his tablet under his arm.
"Leaving so soon?" Teyla asks, and the way she's looking right through his defenses makes Rodney wonder whether she isn't figuring them out already.
"I'll swing by later," he says to John.
"See you, McKay," John says, and -- slowly, lazily -- smiles.
Maybe John has some stories to tell as well.
Overall; wonderfully executed both in an exploration of missing scenes and as a story that stands well on it's own. I think reading this one probably doesn't require reading the other (then again, I have no idea, I wrote the other, I have it internalized), and I love that it both refers to the other and also stands as it does.