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Title: The Rules of Attraction 1/7
Codes: McKay, Sheppard, Sheppard/McKay, Sheppard/Kolya (McKay/Teyla, Sheppard/Teyla (implied), Teyla/Ronon)
Rating: NC-17, AU, prostitution, drug use
Summary: The first time Dr. Rodney McKay met Special Agent John Sheppard, he wasn't Dr. McKay and John was Michael Torres. This was balanced, in Rodney's view, by the orgasms. The second time was a lot trickier. It also didn't involve any orgasms at all.
Author Notes: This is mostly complete but not completely edited, so I'm not sure how many parts it will cut into for livejournal. I've been mentally calling this "The One Where John's an FBI Rentboy and Rodney's Very Confused", but that's a little long for a title. Plausibility is so overrated.
Warnings: Please see Warnings cut tag below.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Warning: This story involves prostitution, dubcon (due to drug use), drug use (intravenous heroin, cocaine, other), violence, and past rehab.
The first time Dr. Rodney McKay met Special Agent John Sheppard, he wasn't Dr. McKay and John was Michael Torres. This was balanced, in Rodney's view, by the orgasms. The second time was a lot trickier. It also didn't involve any orgasms at all.
"How was your flight?" Assistant Director Weir says, looking calm and terrifyingly competent; Rodney thinks if he wasn't slowly starving to death, he'd care a lot more.
"Terrible. You understand this is temporary?" Rodney says, trying not to think of X-Files even when a short, red haired woman passes by smelling vaguely of strawberries. "I agreed to assisting on one case, but--"
Weir gives him a reassuring smile. "I understand and we're very glad to have you with us." Turning abruptly, she opens a door, ushering him into a large, comfortable looking conference room. Rodney recognizes O'Neill immediately, looking vaguely like he wonders when lunch is supposed to be even though it's midnight. Carter's seated beside him, giving Rodney a wave and a tight smile.
"Dr. McKay." Weir says, and Rodney jerks his attention from trying to read Carters' laptop from twenty feet away. Turning, he finds himself staring at cleavage and wonders what on earth the standards are at the FBI. "I'd like you to meet Special Agent Teyla Emmagen."
Teyla smiles, reaching out one fine-boned hand. Rodney takes it and prays to God she never uses that grip for evil, because Jesus Christ. "Nice to meet you," he manages, and doesn’t even clutch his hand against his chest afterward, though God, does he want to.
"And this is Detective Ronon Dex, on loan from NYPD," Weir continues. Another hand is thrust into his, and Rodney looks up--and up--huh. "They're two of the members of this task force."
Rodney's not sure he likes the way Ronon smiles. "Uh. Yes." Retrieving his hand, Rodney scans the room; Carter's talking to O'Neill and that godforsaken Jackson who Rodney thinks does something but honestly, no clue what it is, and Teal'c's staring with deep thought at the snack tray, which Rodney would give a lot to get his hands on. Edging toward the table, Rodney gets a sandwich and sits down as Weir and Dex talk in low voices, occasionally glancing at the door.
Everyone seems on edge, which he really doesn't care about all that much, and tired, which makes him wonder why they did this at night of all times. Glancing at Teyla, he pulls at his tie, wishing he hadn't developed a sudden sense of propriety and bought a suit. He hasn't worn one voluntarily since his last defense, and now he remembers why. Looking around the room at the bland people who carry on monotone conversations, he really wants a drink. Or a hit. Or possibly a weapon. To kill himself before he dies slowly of boredom.
Teyla, to his surprise, takes the chair beside him, reaching for a sandwich with that deceptively tiny and immensely strong hand. "Did you have a good flight?"
Rodney blinks. Small talk. "The weather was atrocious, the flight was late, and the attendant brought me lemon in my tea. This city is a cesspool. That I’m alive today to eat mediocre chicken salad is a miracle."
Teyla tilts her head, mouth curving slightly before taking a bite of her sandwich. "I see."
The dark eyes study him briefly before O'Neill says something that Rodney really cant' bother to listen to, drawing Teyla's attention away and giving Rodney an unanticipated opportunity to study the neckline of her--he can't seriously call that a shirt--top, speculating if glue or force of will is holding it in place.
A second sandwich later, Rodney realizes that even the government is usually more efficient than to call midnight meetings and not actually do anything. "Dr. Weir--" he starts, but the sound of the door opening cuts him off, and Weir turns with a relieved smile.
"John," she says, and Rodney remembers abruptly that he's only met two of the team members; right, their fourth. "I'm glad you could make it." She hesitates briefly, giving Rodney enough time to wipe the his hands on his pants and brush at crumbs. "I'm sorry for the late meeting, but we need to get the ball rolling--"
"I figured as much."
Rodney stops short as the man materializes in front of him, unremarkable in a room of suited people, dark hair and hazel eyes, conventionally handsome and the last, last, last person Rodney had ever expected to see again. "Dr. McKay, this Special Agent John Sheppard, who's the agent in charge of this project."
Rodney looks into John's eyes and is almost sure he's about to have a stroke. "Oh my God."
"I think," John says from somewhere behind Rodney, "that it could have been worse."
Jerking down the paper bag, Rodney glares at the wall; looking at Michael--no, Sheppard! God. Sheppard. This can't be happening--can only lead to places that for the sake of their professional relationship, Rodney thinks they better not go. "You said you name was Michael!"
And that went down the drain. Rodney duck his head and breathes into the bag. Calm thoughts. Calm thoughts. He did not have his cock anywhere near that guy's ass, except oh God, he did, and this is just. So. Typical.
John sighs and Rodney hears his footsteps circle the chair. A second later, Rodney's staring at the person he'd last seen naked and sweaty. God, Rodney realizes, appalled: I ate *Thai food* off that body! "Breathe," John says, looking amused. Rodney glares back, trying not to be distracted by the fact he's almost sure John's still wearing eyeliner. Or should be. Or--something.
Right. Professional. Dropping the bag on the floor, Rodney wonders what on earth he can possibly say now. "So. You're the one running this?" Because suit or not, less than twenty-four hours ago, Rodney saw this guy in unnaturally tight denim and something that by no stretch of the imagination could be considered a shirt. "Aren't you a little old for clubbing?"
John's mouth quirks. "Aren't you a little old to be picking up rentboys?"
Might have been a mistake to drop the bag. Rodney settles on outrage and not remembering John's ass in those jeans. "Do they know--"
"I was *working*," John answers, mouth twitching more. "Until you ran off my contact and, if I remember correctly, promised me a really good time. By the way, fifty will not buy a *handjob* in DC, just so you know."
Sometimes, Rodney wonders how this can possibly be his life. "You didn't have to accept!"
John ducks his head, but Rodney sees him smirk and that's just not winning him any points at all.
"Let's start over," John says finally, and it's almost possible, because the man sitting unnaturally straight across from him, hair neatly combed, expensive suit and understated tie, looks less and less like the guy Rodney spent eight hours in bed with and a lot like someone who is, in fact, licensed to carry a concealed weapon. "Special Agent John Sheppard, FBI."
Rodney mentally flips through the last dossier he received, replacing four different changes in composition in three weeks, along with the name of the person heading it; none of the people he met tonight were in those folders. "I thought--"
"Sumner had another assignment," John says easily, but his expression is a pretty good indicator that Rodney shouldn't go there. "So Elizabeth took over. How much explanation do you need?"
Rodney frowns. "I read the reports on the target; Kolya Genii?"
John nods, stretching slightly. "Currently runs the Genii family out of Mexico, but word has it he's taken over their base in Columbia. If he has, that means he's managed to become the biggest producer and seller in the western hemisphere."
"And this requires a special task force because--"
"Five people we had in protective custody are dead," John answers, voice flat. Somehow, and Rodney had no idea how, the room manages to drop five degrees. "Three adults, two kids. One dead judge and a prosecutor in the hospital. He's not being careful, because he doesn't think he has to be. And he has a hit list a mile long. If he consolidates his power, he could reform the Pegasus Syndicate."
Rodney sucks in a breath; he knows enough about the Syndicate to know this is probably a very, very bad thing. "Got it."
John grins at him, tension gone so suddenly Rodney feels lightheaded; how the hell does he *do* that? "Ready to get back and pretend you've never seen me naked?"
Rodney opens his mouth to answer, but John's already on his way out the door. Struggling to his feet (and now imagining John naked, shit), Rodney follows.
When Rodney was recruited, there'd been a lot of talk of duty before they got around to money, and to be honest, Rodney's really in this for the money. Unfortunately, the money came with a hideously bland apartment in tasteful shades of beige in a residential neighborhood that Rodney suspects also includes families. It's kind of like hell, but in a very understated way.
Rodney sees a lot of lab time in his future.
"It's depressing when the bad guys have better technology than the government," Rodney tells Weir as he reads through yet another hideously thick folder. "My staff?"
"Everyone you asked for." She gestures at the list of personnel that will be showing up tomorrow. Rodney scans it quickly, making a mental note to watch supply requests for excess foil in case Zelenka and crew have been attending alien abduction boot camp again. "You chose some--colorful individuals."
"I only use the best," Rodney answers absently. "Zelenka has Ph.D. in applied engineering and--"
"Called me to ask if I planned to sell him to the gray men," she says. Rodney looks up in surprise at the smile in her voice. "I told him that while I wouldn't harvest his DNA personally, I couldn't be held responsible for what was found around the lab."
"You realize you just doomed the FBI to an expense account solely devoted to cleaning supplies, right?" Rodney shakes off the feeling of incipient panic; he hates the smell of bleach. "Right. This is everyone."
"You'll also be in charge of supervising surveillance of the three main Genii compounds and our operative--"
"Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera," Rodney answers, opening another folder, interested despite himself. Kolya's taking drug cartels into the twenty-first century in a very big way, and that's just the top of his list of illicit, immoral, and very illegal activities; Rodney expects to see 'kills puppies for fun' any minute now. "Wait. Operative?"
Weir hesitates, so briefly that if Rodney hadn't been watching her, he never would have known. "We have someone who has managed to insinuate himself into the Kolya's inner circle," she says slowly, eyes flickering away, but not before Rodney sees a flare of unconcealed rage. "However, there were--problems with his handlers and I ordered him to stand down until we could reassess the situation."
Rodney wonders what that means, but Weir's cell phone rings, cutting through the conversation. Frowning, Weir turns away as she takes the call, voice so low that even leaning halfway across the table he can't hear a thing she says. When she closes it, Rodney jerks back across and has to grab for his coffee before it spills.
"Our agent's going back in tonight," she says, chewing worriedly at her lip before she shoves the phone into her pants pocket. "I need to get down to headquarters. Do you need anything else?"
A foot rub, maybe. "You know," Rodney says, leaning back in his chair, "I was doing some searching in the FBI database." He was recruited for the first project a few years ago, and he's kept up his hacking since for the entertainment factor. "Ronon Dex never worked at NYPD as far as I can trace back. Teyla Emagen seems to be a backup dancer for several pop stars. And John Sheppard--" Rodney stops, watching her eyes narrow. "Last seen in Brazil a year ago, selling himself out to the Genii before their unfortunate slaughter in Columbia. I'm going out on a limb and saying that this is a hell of a lot more than taking out a drug lord who's already made enough enemies that given enough time, his own people will do it for you. So. What am I missing?"
Weir smiles impersonally. "Maybe you're not as smart as we thought," she answers, picking up her briefcase. "You have my number. Have a good evening."
Despite having a 'team', Rodney doesn't actually see them. It's not all that different from any other government project he's ever worked; collecting reports, overseeing some of the most complex forensic accounting he's ever had the misfortune to fall asleep while reading, hacking through the pitiful security of NORAD when he gets bored, because he figures while he has FBI protection, he might as well hit his Top Ten. There are patterns to examine, bugs to plant, and coordination of a massive and frighteningly thorough surveillance system that makes Zelenka's conspiracy mutterings look horrifyingly plausible. The actual watching is carried out by actual agents, but he's the one expected to cut through the interference from Kolya's rather sophisticated defenses. The sheer *amount* of data is enough to make him want to take a nap or a narcotic.
The reports from the undercover agents are both frequent and oddly enlightening, in that way that makes Rodney feel like he's reading a transcript of a very bad soap opera. Rodney entertains himself trying to work out what the guy's place in there is, but whatever it is, he's got access straight through to the phone records.
Zelenka, sporting a new nose ring and a more deeply ingrained sense of paranoia than ever, gives him crappy coffee when Rodney starts yelling at Gaul for making them subsist on the ancient office coffeemaker; Rodney spends fifteen minutes in google printing out all the stories of tragic death due to infection to leave on his desk to show his gratitude.
He sees Teyla in passing twice when going to the FBI to find out if Carter's gotten over her crush on O'Neill; once in the cafeteria, reading something thick that Rodney later recognized as a Spanish dictionary, a piece of paper beneath her elbow with squiggles that represent someone's truly atrocious handwriting; once in Weir's office, dressed in an electric blue minidress that Rodney suspects will provide his newest jerk-off material and five inch heels, bringing her almost eye to eye with Weir while she argues something with sharp gestures and soft, edged words that say more than shouting ever could. Ronon and John he doesn't see at all, and other than their regular reports, he could almost forget that any of them exist.
Of course, the second he decides to blow off a night and get laid, it has to change.
"Now," Weir says, voice loud enough to cut through the speakers playing something execrable through the club. Rodney blinks at his phone and thinks about hanging up.
"Off," he enunciates into the phone. "Tonight. For the first time in *weeks*--"
"We found something." There's an edge to her voice he's never heard before, and Rodney finds himself paying his tab, saying goodbye to the woman he'd had high hopes of getting on her back in the next ten to twenty minutes, and going out into the damp, sleeting evening in time for a car to pull up *on the sidewalk*. A man he doesn't recognize looks at him with flat patience when the passenger side window rolls down.
"This is subtle," Rodney says when he sees the badge flash. Getting in, he brushes the sleet from his hair and looks wistfully back inside. "Also, do you people do anything *during the day*?"
"Not really," the guy answers, but his mouth quirks up on one side. Resentfully, Rodney checks his pockets, finding gum, an empty box of breath mints, and a dollar in change. "You need anything from your apartment besides your laptop?"
Rodney stares at him, then glances at the backseat, somehow unsurprised to see his laptop is already in residence. "You went into *my apartment*--"
"Nice security," the guy says, making a turn at roughly the speed of sound. Rodney tries not to cringe. "Helps if you lock your door."
"I did lock my door," Rodney says, eyes narrowed.
"Get a better lock. Agent Ford," he says, giving up on stoic altogether. He looks about ten. Rodney dislikes him on principal. "We haven't met yet. Just got transferred from Sumner's unit. I'll be your--"
"Driver?" Rodney says poisonously. "Because you suck at it."
Ford's grin widens. "If you can't drive, I can do that too. I'm in charge of your security."
Who on earth had that brilliant idea? "You're kidding."
"Nope." They make another nightmarish hair turn, and Rodney vaguely recognizes the brownstones in neat lines, but he's more intent on surviving the drive. "So you're a doctor?"
Rodney stares at the slick road with a sense of inevitable doom. "I'm a security specialist."
"Hacker," Ford answers airily. "Something about crashing an airline or a boat or blowing up your school when you were a kid--"
"You read my file and can't even remember what it said?" Rodney's always been badly torn; on one hand, government employees tend to take a dim view of a criminal record that stretches back before puberty. On the other--well, *twelve*. Being the best means sometimes you have to remind people that you were building black boxes before you got out of diapers. "Never mind. Just Rodney." Dr. McKay makes him twitch and he hasn't tried Rod in years, not since that porn starlet thing and how the hell was he supposed to know her ex's stage name?
Ford, however, seems done with conversation, careening them into an area of town that Rodney knows mostly by reputation, and they skid to a stop on crumbling concrete, where three feet away Rodney swears someone is giving someone a blowjob. "You can't be serious."
"It's safe. They're ours."
Rodney presses his face to the window. It sure looks real. "Really?"
"They're professionals. Through the door, third floor. Lorne'll let you in."
Rodney looks at him suspiciously, then reaches back, grabbing his laptop and pulling the strap over his shoulder. He gives himself a second to check the couple--yes, *still* looks real--then goes to a door that's seen better millennia. There's a buzzer, but the exposed wires make Rodney wary--gingerly, he taps on the warped wood, wincing at the wet sound. Mold. Could be black mold. Could be *toxic* black mold.
The door opens so suddenly he jumps. "McKay," the guy says--Lorne?--looking Rodney over before reaching out and grabbing him by the front of his jacket, pulling him inside. "Third floor, first door to the left."
Rodney would feel more confident if Lorne didn't look vaguely like a junkie who tricks on the side, but then again, blowjob outside. Crazy secret project people, who the hell knows? Edging by, he passes two nearly-believable prostitutes (both of whom he's fairly sure are probably better armed than the average soldier on a battlefield), a pimp (in a hideous yellow suit) and four vagrants who look just a little too alert no matter how many bottles are stacked around them.
Rodney spent his early twenties getting stoned and living in places a cut or two below this, but then he turned thirty, grew out his Mohawk, dyed his hair back to brown, and rejoined society, and it's not like he usually regrets it. But there is a second of nostalgia, because while yes, he likes having large, large piles of money, back then, he could go weeks between showers, have sex without having to buy dinner first, and eat a lot of 7-11 burritos.
With a sigh for times gone by, he gets to the third floor and knocks on the indicated door.
Teyla opens it--well, Teyla's gun opens it, aimed right between his eyes. "Uh."
She clicks it off and slides it back into a thigh holster. "Dr. McKay," she says, stepping back just enough that if he takes a deep breath, he can wedge himself inside. "Come in."
The apartment's nothing like the building; the small living room is fitted out as a surveillance station, three kids that couldn't possibly have graduated high school, much less college lounging in the chairs, though all three come to sharp, awed attention when they see him, and Rodney gives them a sneer so they can tell their little friends that yes, they saw Rodney McKay and he hates everyone just as much as he always did. It's nice to get the awe. It's even nicer to step on it.
"I am sorry to interrupt your evening," Teyla says, but her voice tells him she's not sorry at all. "But this cannot wait until morning."
Teyla leads him to the kitchen and through to a small bedroom sparsely furnished with a couch, a small refrigerator and a table. More people, but not Rodney's kind; suited and intense, staring at him in his jeans and t-shirt like he just crawled out of the slums to get their suits dirty.
Whatever. "What's going on?" The tension between the men and Teyla is almost visible. Rodney thinks that's stupid; those are five inch stiletto platform boots and she moves like she knows how to use them. Rodney had many pleasant memories of women in boots like that, and a few scars to remind him of the less pleasant times.
"You have been briefed," Teyla says flatly, crossing her arms over the top of a sequined bikini. "We have work to do. Please leave"
"Sumner ordered," the first one starts, but one of the others shuts him down with a look. Teyla raises an eyebrow. "We have--"
"No authority over John or the project and you may tell him so."
They dither briefly, but when the other door opens and Ronon stomps in, they suddenly realize it's late and vanish with a lot less dignity than they probably think they have. Rodney appropriates their couch and coffee table, sorting through the fridge filled with snacks and beer, sitting back as Ronon and Teyla speak quietly. Rodney notes Ronon's worn jeans, mud caked on the knees, and then realizes that it's not just mud.
Teyla's head jerks around, like she forgot he was there. When Ronon turns, Rodney stares at the bloodstained shirt, big hands striped with brown, and what seems to be about six guns. "Jesus."
"Ronon," Teyla says warningly. Ronon's eyes narrow, but he walks out, going out the second door again, closing it behind him. "I'm glad you could come," Teyla says, seating herself gracefully on the couch beside Rodney, smoothing the mini dress over the tops of her thighs. She doesn't look like a hooker now no matter how she's dressed; the calm brown eyes look into his with utter confidence. "Our agent was able to get a prototype of something we have heard--rumors of."
"Prototype of--ooh. Huh." Rodney watches as she places what looks like cheap jewelry on the coffee table, studying it. It's not cheap jewelry, but nine point nine out of ten wouldn't know what they were looking at. Picking it up, Rodney feels--something--vibrate into his palm, stopping almost as soon as it started. Weirdly, he feels like it was testing him. "Interesting."
"We think so, yes."
Rodney turns it over, checking for manufacturing signs, something to trace, but it's smooth, silvery-edged and cool. "This is old."
Teyla nods. "It's the first that was created; it took our agent a--great deal of time to discover where it was."
The hum of power strengthens slightly as a noise comes from the other room; Teyla's head snaps up, calm dissolving. Rodney keeps his attention on the jewelry, running his fingers over the surface, studying the jointure. "What does it do?" he asks. He's run into obscure tech before, but nothing like this.
"Our agent says it can block bullets."
Rodney jerks his head up. "You're kidding." From the other room, another sound; the thing surges slightly, just a bare vibration that Rodney can feel in his bones. "How? Is it on?"
"No, but it--" Another sound, and the thing *shivers*. Rodney watches her eyes cut to the door again. "It requires something we have not yet been able to replicate. It seems to bond to a DNA signature of some kind--"
Teyla nods tightly. "And a few others. This is not the first thing we have acquired, but the first that functioned."
Rodney nods, tucking it into his bag; he'll need his lab to run a complete analysis. "I take it this isn't something I can share with my staff?"
"No." Teyla sighs softly; she looks tired. Reaching into the fridge, he gets her a beer that she takes gratefully. "We would have called you sooner, but Sumner's men--made it difficult. I was forced to call Director Weir for clearance."
Rodney picks up his Snickers and takes a bite. "Who were they?"
She hesitates, looking at him again, and it's like touching the jewelry; he's being tested. This time, though, he's not sure for what. "They were our agent's--handlers," she says finally. "They are unhappy they have been replaced and the project removed from their care."
Rodney nods encouragingly, taking another bite, but she leans back, closing her eyes. "Bad night?" he asks after a few minutes, when it looks like she might be drifting off to sleep. Not that the view is bad; he's at the perfect angle to see her thigh holster.
"Yes," she answers, eyes still closed. She looks like she might be relaxing.
"…Jesus fuck, what *business* of yours is it?" a voice shouts, breaking through the quiet. Teyla slips so fluidly to her feet that Rodney's still chewing a mouthful of Snickers when she gets to the door, pulling it open and giving Rodney a view of what seems to be the other bedroom.
It's an actual bedroom, or close to it; a functional bed, a dresser, and a rug. It's not a bedroom in the fact that he can see what appears to be a half a clinic's worth of medical tape, gauze, bottles, and--
It takes him a second, the length of the room, pausing at the door because John's glare stops him cold. The brown hair he remembers is bright blond, edge of gold that yells peroxide, slick looking leather pants coating long legs, something green and shimmering on the floor in pieces, and a long, angry cut recently stitched that stretches from hip to just below his ribcage. "Jesus," Rodney says, feeling Teyla's hand on his arm, nails prickling his skin in warning. "You okay?"
Ronon's standing a few feet away with his back to them; now Rodney can see where the blood came from. Rodney can't see his face and kind of thinks he doesn't want to, not when his posture screams berserker rage.
"Fine," John snaps out, turning away; tiny bruises like fingerprints walk up and down his back, red lines bisecting his spine, uglier bruising at his shoulders. Grabbing a t-shirt off the bed, John jerks his head at Teyla. "Can you finish the bandaging? Ronon's leaving."
"No, I'm not," Ronon says shortly. Teyla looks between them, then crosses the room, reaching gently for John's arm. Rodney doesn't miss the way he stiffens before he lets her lead him to the bed, easing himself down in a way that tells Rodney the leather is hiding more than just flesh.
It's impersonal, and it's not, not at all; Rodney feels like he should leave but can't quite make himself, watching as John closes his eyes, barely breathing as she tapes the bandage. When she's done, he sits up, face blank, taking the t-shirt Teyla offers and pulling it over his head.
There's a lot going on in here, but a few things are clear. "I didn't know you were the agent," Rodney says, pulling the reports together. Judging on appearances--such as, leather pants, say--Rodney knows exactly what the agent's function is. Michael Torres suddenly makes a lot of sense.
John gets up, picking up a gun from the edge of the bed and sliding it into the holster wrapped incongruously around one thigh; it's a weird feeling, looking at John halfway between agent and--whatever he is. And not. Anyone seeing him now wouldn't be fooled by the pants or the pretty, black-lined eyes.
Though Rodney generally has a low opinion of humankind; maybe they would be. "Hello, McKay," John says, and now he just sounds tired. "You get it?"
It? Right. Rodney nods quickly, noticing that Ronon's edging toward John again. Teyla seems to catch on as well; she glares briefly, then picks up a jacket off the bed. "John requires rest," she says neutrally, but the low voice ripples a warning that stops Ronon in his tracks. John glances at her, exchanging a wordless conversation that ends with a nod, letting her help him into the jacket before she tucks herself beneath his arm, shifting his hand until it rests against the curve of her ass. "Gentlemen."
John transforms, just like that; hazel eyes go glassy, emptying of expression, a slight smile softening his mouth as he leans into Teyla. Teyla vanishes under a glazed expression, and suddenly, Rodney's alone with Ronon, and a prostitute and a junkie are emerging into the chilly night.
When he looks at Ronon, Rodney sees something raw and unhappy. It's probably time to go home.
There have been few things that Rodney couldn't find out with enough work; the universe is his database and they haven't yet found a system he couldn't crack.
But welcome to his team. *Nothing*. Except the shit that he knows isn't even close to true.
Weir comes by his lab while he runs is umpteenth analysis on the piece of jewelry that officially stopped doing a damn thing once he got it here. He stares at Weir resentfully while she flutters around his lab and pretends she knows what she's looking at.
"I don't think it's a social visit, and you can't even *read that*," he says, snatching the printouts from her hand--they're actually binary crossword puzzles, but she doesn't know that. "What do you want?"
"I wanted to see how you were doing," she says, sitting neatly across from him, long legs crossed; Rodney just can't look at her and connect her with the fact she has an agent whoring himself for technology.
He must look his annoyance, because she sighs, mouth tight. "I should have explained more fully. John's been in a--precarious position. I didn't want to increase his stress."
Rodney looks his disgust on that. Shaking her head, she leans an elbow on the table. "Believe it or not, Dr. McKay, this project is new to me as well. When O'Neill gave it to me, he was--not as frank as one might have hoped." Her expression darkens. "Knowing what I do now, I can understand why he was concerned."
Weir looks away. "None of us realized what Sumner had ordered John to do. By the time we were--appraised, there was no way to remove John from the situation--"
"And no reason to, since he seemed to be getting the job done." Rodney's not sure why he's so angry; it's been stewing since he left that apartment, and it's not just the secrecy that's getting to him. Need to know, whatever; this *is* need to know, and need to know fucking *yesterday*. "There's secrecy and then there's stupidity. I can't work like this, not when I'm not even sure what the work is supposed to be."
Elizabeth gives him a flat look. "What do you want to know?"
"Beginning and we'll go from there. Who are they? All three of them?"
Weir folds her hands neatly on the lab table like a finishing school graduate. "Teyla was an undercover agent with narcotics and John's former partner. Ronon *was* NYPD until he and John met during an undercover sting in New York and we recruited him."
Rodney crosses his arms. "Sheppard?
"John came to us from NSA; we needed someone with a military background, and John was bored with his work."
Encryption. Rodney gives himself a second; MIT, Yale, maybe Northwestern, military--
"Air Force pilot. Training in special forces, retired after an injury in the line of duty."
War to numbers; interesting. Rodney adds that to the list. "And?"
"He was--acquired by Sumner a few years ago. It seems," and her voice changes, thickening, "that they had served together. At the time, there was no reason to suspect that it was--"
A bad idea. "And when the FBI doesn't like someone, they prostitute them? I feel so comforted these are the people that see to my safety on a daily basis."
Weir visibly grits her teeth, but her voice remains smooth. "O'Neill got suspicious after his partner Teyla came to him to voice her concerns and had John pulled out." She looks away. "We--John took leave for a few months with Teyla."
Rodney rewinds. "Where was he when they pulled him out?"
She hesitates. "They were in Columbia."
"So by leave, you mean rehab." That clicks the last piece into place; the too-thin body and edges on him in that room, temper held on too tight a leash. "So they were hooked and undercover--"
"Yes." She licks her lips. "We didn't pull them out before John--finished."
Rodney waits for a second for her to elaborate. "And you mean finished--"
"He killed them."
Right. His team is insane. Rodney takes a breath, thinking longingly of Los Angeles, then shakes his head. "So now you send a junkie out of rehab to fuck drug dealers, and his handler is *another* junkie. I like this. It's poetic. There are a lot of very depressed teenagers writing in blank verse all about this as we speak."
Weir gives him a look that says she doesn’t like him all that much; he's not sure he likes her either. "Dr. McKay--"
"Speaking as someone who spent a summer learning the finer points of vomiting copiously while engaged in cold sweats and a variety of deeply humiliating hallucinations--and I know that's in my file, so please don't pretend you didn't know--this is nuts. However, it's nuts with results. Such as, that useless piece of jewelry that doesn't do anything. Who makes it work?"
Weir blinks. "Who--"
"I've run every analysis I know, then I pulled out my sci-fi collection and went alphabetical by author. I'd like to try something that's actually outside of the greatest minds in science fiction. Get me the person that makes it light up and I'll tell you what it does."
Weir looks uncomfortable, which is kind of an answer, if the fact that it hasn't so much as *twitched* since Rodney brought it here is any indication. "Of course. Our crazy junkie. I want him tonight, seven. That work?"
Weir tilts her head at him, dark eyes suddenly brightening. Reaching across the table, she snags his crossword puzzle, getting a pen from her purse, and starts to write. After a few seconds, she pushes it back.
"Tell him yourself. Also, 3 down is pencil. I don't have time to convert it. Have a good day, Dr. McKay." Getting up, she slides the pen back into her purse and saunters out.
Rodney's still looking at the paper when Zelenka knocks on the door. Later, he'll swear the stool was unbalanced, which is what caused him to fall.
"Go away. I am changing the laws of the universe."
"You are surfing porn with a stolen credit card," Zelenka says clearly from outside.
"Not since yesterday! What do you want?" Getting up, Rodney shoves the papers under his bag and runs his hand over the panel, waiting impatiently as it pings green, and comes out to see Zelenka hovering at the doorway. "What do you want?"
Zelenka holds up a cell phone. Rodney notes the black nail polish and kind of hates Zelenka a lot. "You have a call." Glancing toward the main door, Zelenka gets an oddly speculative expression. "Does Dr. Weir visit often?"
Rodney blinks. "Why would someone call me on your cell phone? And she's my boss." The speculative look increases, and Rodney has a horrible feeling. "Oh no. No no no. You don't even--she--" Rodney stops himself before the terrible images can start. "Give me the phone and don't scare my boss."
"I would not scare. She is open-minded, yes?" Shoving the phone into Rodney's hand, Zelenka saunters back to his groupies, all twelve year old girls with masters degrees and a startlingly bright variety of hair colors that have absolutely no relation to nature. Miko waves suggestively, but Rodney doesn't even think of hitting that; she's a black belt vegan and doesn't shave. Rodney can deal with the lack of razors, but no one sane would give up rib-eye steak. Rodney nods at her in what he hopes is a way that does not suggest sex and slowly backs toward his lab.
Holding the phone gingerly to his ear, Rodney answers. "What do you want?"
"Hear you need someone to test your new toy," John says cheerfully from the other side. He had better be high, Rodney thinks viciously. He sounds too happy.
"How the hell--" Oh, what is he thinking. "Four o'clock. Bring food and a useful attitude. And hey, and if you feel like getting stoned, *don't*."
"I'll keep that in mind. Later."
Crazy. Rodney shuts the phone and throws it across the room, then stalks back to his lab.
"I spent all of 1989 living above a bar in Seattle," Rodney tells John as John makes the little brooch light up. It's disgusting. Rodney hates the FBI. "I had conversations with Einstein, my dog, three aliens that Star Trek never discovered, and my great uncle Martin, who used to be a go-go dancer named Martina and is also *dead*. My girlfriend was pink and had wings; later, I found out she was my boyfriend and that explained why I spent so much time on my back and my ass was so sore. And that is *still* less insane than this moment."
"You have really heartwarming stories of your youth," John says earnestly as he sets it down for Rodney to pounce on, even though like the last ten times, once it stops touching John Sheppard, it turns off. There's an obvious sexual metaphor in this that Rodney can't bring himself to use quite yet; he's waiting for the perfect moment. "Tell me again about the time you threw up on that police officer when he told you that you couldn't sleep on a park bench."
Rodney really hates him. "What happened to the blond?" he says. John's back to brown and looks too normal and respectable. In comfortable jeans and a polo shirt, he resembles a nice suburban guy that should be pushing some sort of stroller while walking a large, furry, very stupid dog. It's kind of horrifying.
John shrugs, leaning both elbows on the table, blinking wide, innocent eyes at Rodney. "I was thinking red."
"Black," Rodney hears himself say, then shakes himself. Blue-black, though, spiked on top. Silver jewelry. Bring out that edge of danger that the blond doesn't. Blond's sweet, pretty, stupid, someone Rodney would fuck through the mattress and forget before he finished coming. "Nevermind. Touch it again."
John's mouth quirks, but he reaches out, running long fingers over the top, bathing his hand in green. Rodney studies the manicured nails, fine skin, someone who spends time in salons getting manicures, not quite the hands of a guy who flew planes and worked numbers. The perfectly straight, neatly parted hair is all a piece of it, and even knowing this isn't John Sheppard any more than the blond junkie last night, it's impossible to see anything else.
They've been doing this for hours; it's closing on midnight and Rodney's got everything he's going to get. But he slept half the day and had enough caffeine to qualify as an addict in some circles. John looks well-rested, but the signs of insomnia are all around the eyes, too bright, chemically edged. "Amphetamines isn't better," Rodney says abruptly.
John snorts. "I doubt No-Doze qualify as a controlled substance quite yet," he drawls. Rodney gives up, going back to stare at the screen in bitter hatred of the government and wishing John were slightly less attractive. It's distracting.
"So when we were recruiting you, funny story," John says suddenly. Rodney jerks his gaze from his screen. "That address thing. By which I mean, you don't seem to have one."
Rodney raises an eyebrow. "I have a PO box in Los Angeles."
"And Seattle, Phoenix, New York, London, Memphis, Dallas, and Chicago," John recites like he's reading off a list. "Which you don't seem to check very often."
"I move around a lot." His stay in Los Angeles while on a consult with IBM was a record three months of mind-numbing boredom; even the clubs were boring, and Rodney had systematically checked every one of them. "I don't like staying in one place too long." One of the nice things about being a very highly-sought after consultant is the fact that he rarely has to stay anywhere for very long. "I bet you haven't so much as moved once since you left the army."
John grins. "Air Force. I like having somewhere that's mine."
After a few more pointless minutes--staring at this data won't make it magically comply with the laws of physics--Rodney straightens. "I'm hungry."
John looks at him. "No you're not."
He is, but-- . "Bored," Rodney admits. He works when he feels like it. DC is straight lines and people in suits and a suffocating routine of lab, secret apartment, home, start over. Zelenka's kids are too awed (and terrifying) to be interesting, and he misses people that don't live life like a rehearsal for the real thing.
John looks interested. "What do you do at home?"
Get laid, for one, and not from women who look like Barbie. Rodney plays with his watch. "What do you do for fun?"
John's surprise is unsettling. "I--huh." Leaning his chin on his hands, he frowns. "Do some projects for NSA. Watch TV. Read."
"Right." Getting up, Rodney kicks over a pile of papers he'll have to clean up someday and finds his bag. "I just realized it's Friday."
"Yes," John says patiently. "And?"
Rodney looks around the lab; he left this life the second he finished his doctorate. The world's huge outside these walls, and he thinks if he owes his twenties nothing else, it's setting him free of ever being trapped here again. "Don't you ever--is this all? Work and sleep and--just. This can't be it."
John frowns. "What?"
Jesus. "How long until you have to go back--to the thing?" How do you refer to what John does, anyway?
"Uh, Monday night. Weir wants me to decompress." John eyes him warily, and Rodney wonders if he's gone crazy; the guy he fucked was a *job*, except-- "Come on."
John slides off his stool. "Why?"
"We're getting out of here," Rodney answers. Pulling his bag over his shoulder, he reaches for John's belt loops, ignoring the twitch. "And since I am terribly important and you are very, very armed, you're going to be my security."
"Ooohkay," John says slowly, following Rodney to the door. "Uh, where are we going?"
"Anywhere but here," Rodney says grimly, then stops to stare critically at John's perfectly normal clothing. "But we've got to get you something else to wear."
"You know," John says, looking a little less collected than earlier, "I asked the wrong question."
"You really did," Rodney answers, leaning over the scarred bar and waving a twenty at the bartender. Unfortunately, the bartender is staring at John, and Rodney doesn’t blame him, but--crawling up on a stool, Rodney picks up a shot glass and throws it. "Money here! Wants to be spent! Now! Are you deaf or stupid? Also, he's *straight*."
Luckily, John's keeping in two feet of him; Rodney can't tell if it's because John takes his duties as bodyguard seriously or he's just that freaked out. Rodney reviews what he read about John's life up to now and figures it about half and half. It's one thing to enter the world with a persona; it's another when John, who seems to have had the kind of childhood and adolescence more appropriate to a fifties sitcom, is having to do it as himself.
When the bartender finally brings them tequila, it's worth it, because he's staring at John too much to take Rodney's money. "Rodney," John says, taking the glass and staring at it like he's never seen alcohol before. "I think--"
"Drink," Rodney says, suiting action to words. John blinks at him but does it, and it's just--Rodney can't get over it. John looks *uncomfortable*, in a grey t-shirt that tries but never manages to make it to the top of low slung jeans that could qualify John as a walking safety hazard. Rodney spent ten minutes getting his hair out of those neat, straight lines, ignoring the tension that leaked from John like melting water. He's the prettiest thing Rodney's ever seen, and he has a rod up his ass the size of a flagpole; it's *bizarre*.
How Sumner looked at this and thought rentboy would be a good persona says a lot about Sumner and none of it good. It says even more about John that he learned to do it, but Rodney can't figure out what that is yet. "Relax," Rodney says, letting the music sink into him, beat catching on his pulse, driving it up.
John frowns at him, seemingly oblivious to the bartender already pushing a new glass at him. Rodney smiles, all teeth, and the guy backs off. When John finishes it, Rodney reaches for his wrist, pulling him off the stool before he can fight it, toward the crowd of dancing bodies that blur beneath the dim lights, feeling the energy starting in his spine and slowing easing out; God. He's *missed* this.
"Rodney," John says, digging in his heels; there's something very real flaring behind the hazel eyes; Rodney wonders if it's fear.
"You did this before," Rodney says, changing his grip to John's belt loops. "Come on. Relax."
"Not as-- as me," John says, but at least that appalled look is gone now that he's focusing on Rodney. Rodney keeps the eye contact, pulling John backward step by step. "This isn't what I--"
"But I do. Seriously. You *read*?"
"And play chess," John admits. "I was voted most likely to become a stockbroker or a real estate attorney in college."
"That is the most depressing thing I have ever heard." And it really is. Rodney gets him another grudging step, far enough in that they aren't lingering at the edges, then steps up, sliding his hands around John's waist. John jumps, almost pulling away. "Please. If you tell me it's just your personas that are gay, I'm seriously going to laugh myself sick right now."
He's straight and unbending; it's like touching wood. Rodney slides a hand up the back of John's shirt, letting his fingers skate over sweaty skin, avoiding the places that memory tells him John is still bruised. "I forgot about your side," he says, which is a lie. "Does it hurt?"
John shrugs awkwardly. "Didn't notice." Tentatively, John's hands rest on his shoulders, relaxing, probably because keeping up that level of tension is pretty damn exhausting. "You know--"
Rodney shifts his grip to John's hips; his rhythm is a nightmare. It's too much thinking; he's got to get over that. "Hm?"
"Uh. Chaya brought me here. I mean, not here-here, but this place. To teach me about Michael." He relaxes more, moving with Rodney's hands. Excellent. "When I was building him."
"One of Sumner's contacts. She used to trick here before she set up her own place downtown." He tightens up a little then; Rodney notes the name away for further study. "She always said I--" He stops, frowning; Rodney runs soothing hands over his waist, avoiding the gauze on his side. "It was hard."
John looks at him; they're barely an inch apart in height, and this close, Rodney can read a history that Weir's words didn't begin to cover, something that's slow anger, touches of humiliation that tell Rodney exactly what she must have done to get him ready. For John, this bright place, people dancing around him, music like breathing, joy in losing yourself in movement and rhythm and step, touching another person and having them touch you back--
Jesus. What the hell were they trying to *do* to him? Weir answered that already, even if she doesn't know it. "Close your eyes," Rodney says. John frowns. "Come on, just relax. I promise not to drug your drink and assault your virtue. Though let's be honest; I am very good at it."
John's mouth cracks in a smile. "Yeah, you are." And he closes his eyes.
Rodney cups his hips gently, pulling him in, feeling John's body relax against him, pliable and warm. Rodney keeps his touch light, almost chaste, even though John's thigh is pressed right against his cock and it can't be any kind of mystery why.
"When I was a kid, I ran away," Rodney whispers, close enough to John's ear to smell aftershave, just a hint of sweat. "You know the story; bad home life, bored, too smart, it's practically a cliché."
John nods slightly, stubble scratching Rodney's cheek.
"I hitchhiked half the country. It was amazing. Well," Rodney thinks. "Not the part where I didn't have money, but it was--I promised myself when I made my first million I'd do it again. Except with my own car. And sleep in hotels. And with food."
"So just like the first time, except for everything."
"Pretty much. I built a nuclear bomb when I was twelve; that was in my file. I had half your country offering me anything I wanted for my mind. The mailman had a bag just for me; you name it, they wanted me. Anything I wanted. Everything I wanted."
John's breath catches softly; Rodney isn't sure why, but the hands on his shoulders loosen, shifting, sliding a little down his back.
"I was a kid; who the hell knows what they want when they're a kid? I had two degrees and a lab to myself before I'd even lost my virginity; they said I'd be the next Einstein, the next Newton; they said I'd change the world."
Rodney closes his eyes, too, feeling John's body stop fighting, stop thinking, stop hiding. "The world was fifty by thirty-two feet, painted white and built of steel. And I knew I had to leave."
John's head turns; Rodney opens his eyes to see John watching him. "Was it worth it? Giving that up?"
Rodney grins and jerks John in until there's nothing between them but cotton, air-soft, and he can feel John hard against his leg, heavy, feel the hard beat of his heart. "Hell yes."
For a second, he can't see John's face, chin tilted down, but he thinks he can feel John's smile and can't help touching his face, stubble bright against his palm, and when John looks at him again, it's like watching the world wake up with dawn.
The world tilts, reshapes, flattens with the single word, sharp and amused, a voice that Rodney hates for what it does to the man in his arms, going straight and flat and hard, eyes blank. Rodney turns his head and sees a tall, beautiful woman standing inches away, one hand on Johns' arm, manicured nails pressed against tanned skin.
"Chaya," John says calmly. Pulling away from Rodney, John faces her with a kind of lazy calm that makes Rodney tense too.
"Off the clock slumming?" she says, hand crawling up his arm like she can't see or doesn't care that John looks like he's considering cutting it off of her. "Or are you someone new tonight?"
She drawls the words, eyebrows lifting, implying a thousand things with her quick glance at Rodney. "Don't let me interrupt business."
"You're not," John says easily, shifting away so casually that he's out of both their reach before Rodney realizes what he's doing.
"Need some help?" She sways slightly, brushing against Rodney's side, drifting to stand behind him, one long-nailed hand on his shoulder; she's the one that taught John how to move like Michael had, sinuous and sexy and practiced, polished. Taught John Michael's amused, knowing smile, easy grace, how to move like sex and know he meant it.
She taught it and made John hate it all at once. Rodney can't stop his body from responding, biological reality, and can't stop John from seeing it, either. John doesn’t so much as change expression, but something flares bright and hot, and Rodney doesn't like the way John's eyes flatten, a smile curving up one corner of his mouth.
One second, he's watching; the next, he's against Rodney, and the stiffness is gone like it was never there; what it took Rodney time to coax out is given up like it means nothing, slinky and slow, a hand dropping low on Rodney's belly, thigh pushing between his, and he's painfully hard almost instantly.
John never looks at him, but maybe he doesn't need to, one hand trailing under his shirt, nails scratching gently against his hip, fingers crawling to the small of his back, tilting Rodney back against Chaya while he cups Rodney's jaw.
Chaya's hands close over Rodney's hips, and he's trapped, and he can't even say he really wants to be anywhere else *ever*, because Jesus God, what the hell? Lips brush the back of his neck, making him shiver while John trails a finger down his throat, following it with a wet tongue, stopping to bite sharply just below his jaw.
He can't not move, not with the two of them around him, and he's drowning in the feeling of Chaya's breasts pressed against his back, her hand resting on Rodney's collar, fingers spread wide, and Rodney watches her lean over his shoulder and lick John's mouth open wide and wet.
She's the one that pulls away, startled, and Rodney sees her lick blood from her lip, starting to pull back, but she can't any more than Rodney can; when John kisses him, Chaya's other hand drifts down, unbuttoning Rodney's jeans and slipping her hand inside. "He's the best I ever trained," Chaya whispers in his ear while John kisses him like slow, lazy fuck, languorous and elegantly cruel. Chaya squeezes once, drawing her nails up his cock while he shivers, fighting the urge to just drop on his knees and take whatever they feel like giving him.
John's mouth scrape across his cheek, his jaw, licking slowly over the curve of his ear before catching the lobe between his teeth. "Unbutton my jeans," John murmurs, and Rodney's hands do it without question, fumbling butter-soft denim, so smooth with age the button fly comes open before he can stop to think, and John's cock is in his hand, hot and smooth, wet head sliding across his palm. "Yeah," John groans against his ear, breath hot. John lines up their hips while Chaya peels Rodney's jeans down, and Jesus God, they're doing this in the middle of a crowded dance floor.
"John," Rodney manages; where he got the air or the voice is anyone's guess. John's back is slick under his hands, and he wants to touch him so badly he can barely think, craving more skin and more feeling, taste him and smell him and feel him, Goddammit, *look at him*, but wherever the hell John is, it's not in the hands guiding his hips in a slow, steady rhythm that matches the music rumbling beneath their feet. The teasing rub of cock against cock is driving Rodney out of his mind, and Chaya keeps whispering God knows what, "he's a natural, isn't he? Made for it. It was so easy", and every word is sharply edged and meant to draw blood.
He can't stop this, can't even get together enough to bring it under some kind of control, with John jerking down the top of his jeans far enough to scratch sharply across his ass and Chaya to lick the back of his neck, sucking a bruise into his back when John works a finger in slow circles around his hole--
"Jesus," Rodney whispers while John says, "Easy, got you, give it up, Rodney, you want to, just give it to me." Rodney pushes his face into John's shirt, panting, biting through the cotton when he feels himself come, shaking and sweating and clawing, feeling blood beneath his fingers from every scratch.
John gives him seven seconds of afterglow and then his jeans are up and buttoned, shirt jerked down to hide the stains. Rodney keeps his grip on John's shirt, letting him take his weight, because there's no way on earth he can stand normally right now.
"Like I said," Chaya says, sounding breathy and post-coital and mocking. "Best I ever trained. Was it good for you?"
John's arm slides around Rodney, sliding down his back. "Hurts, doesn't it?" John whispers, so low that Rodney wonders if Chaya can even hear him. Making the effort, he pushes away from John. Chaya's eyes widen, amused mockery fading into something else. "That's as close as you'll ever get. Been fun, baby." With that, John turns, Rodney pulled right along by the fingers looped in his belt. Emerging outside, Rodney takes stock of his night and jerks away hard enough that he hears the denim tear.
John stops, but he doesn't look surprised.
"What the fuck was that?" Rodney snaps. There's come freezing him into his jeans and he can feel every bruise, every touch of their hands. He wants a shower, suddenly, desperately. Sex has never felt like this before.
The--the thing from inside melts away; Rodney watches as John straightens his shoulders, back a flat line, the body that begged for sex vanishing into a middle class FBI agent. It's so sudden and so smooth Rodney feels the universe tilt slightly, realign into flat blocks, a straight road, a world like a white room filled with metal and steel and rational corners.
Rodney takes a deep breath of cold air and tastes cheap tequila and dried sweat. "That's who you were looking for when you brought me here," John says quietly. "That. You were good, better than she is; you pretended you liked me first."
Rodney licks his lips. "That's not why--"
"I go on the clock midnight Monday; you get here before Kolya, maybe you'll get lucky. Until then, I think I'll stick with reading, if it's all the same. Been fun." John turns on a heel like he's in a parade, hailing a cab that appears like magic. John gets in with a lazy grin and the door closes behind him.
Rodney's still standing there ten minutes later, which is probably why Teyla materializes. Rodney can't even be surprised to see her; that little performance can't be the first. "You know," he says when she throws the coat he forgot inside over his shoulders, "this is the first time I welcome the idea of being watched constantly. Really. This is nice. Tell me this means you have a car."
She doesn't look happy with him, but then, he's not happy with himself. Following her to the car parked across the street, he gets in the front seat, since the back has Lorne looking grim and tired. "This happen often?" he asks. Teyla shoots him a poisonous look.
"No," Lorne says from the back. In the rearview mirror, Lorne look at him soberly. "He usually just stays home and reads."
Rodney stares at the road. "So I've heard."
Next: Part 2