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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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sgafic: the rules of attraction 3/7
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Title: The Rules of Attraction 3/7
Author: Seperis
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 this entry for warnings.

*****

I was thinking "The Part Where Rodney Hates Telephones For Betraying Him and John Sings So, So Badly" might work here. But the current title, while lacking in descriptiveness, is at least shorter to write.

*****

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7



Rodney realizes half-way through dinner three days later, sprawled on John's bedroom floor, between one forkful of enchiladas and the next, that there's a better than good chance they're dating. Normally, this would be a cause for alarm (and perhaps a broken employment contract and a trip to Anywhere, Anywhere But Here), but then John starts playing playing Guitar Hero and it's all a teenage date blur until he's back home before midnight and jerking off in the shower and remembers he left his passport in Phoenix.

Besides, he thinks the next morning, brushing his teeth with grim determination, FBI. Not someone who takes that kind of shit well. What he needs to do is call John--then Rodney takes a moment to think about John's mouth and loses his train of thought.

Safely in his lab, no John in sight, Rodney stares at the jewelry resentfully. "I get why you have a preference on who turns you on," he says, head in his hands. "But I don't *do this*. And he's an FBI agent! This just can't end well. You see this, right? He *wears suits voluntarily*. He *owns property*. And I have a suspicion his credit rating is flawless."

The jewelry doesn't answer, which is so not a surprise, because when the hell had it been of any help anyway? With a sigh, Rodney pushes it away and picks up the phone, checking the clock. Entering a meeting with Weir in three, two, one--now.

Voicemail picks up. Rodney listens to open line waiting for his message and ignores the churning sense of not-right. "Um. Rodney. I mean, this is Rodney. Lab's really getting busy so I'll probably work through lunch and dinner. I'll call you later."

When he hangs up, he turns off the phone and gets to work.

*****

By work, he means, sulking and pretending his phone vanished when he actually hid it in the lab bathroom before he did something incredibly stupid, like answer John's calls. Or call him. Or turn it on.

Emerging from his lab for the first time in two long, hideous days, Rodney stares blankly at Zelenka, who hands him a towel and a bar of soap and directs him back into his lab and the chemical shower. Rodney honestly can't blame him.

Coming back out, he studies his desk (currently covered in Zelenka's latest paranoid ramblings on mind control and how to rescue Weir from Jack's nefarious ("Nefarious?" Rodney had said blankly. "Really?") influence, which apparently requires nudism in the desert. Or something). It looks a great deal like no one's left a single message asking where the hell he is and why he hasn't called.

He might just be missing it. "Any messages?" Pushing the printed power point presentation aside, Rodney finds what seems to be someone's bad impressionist artwork. Then he realizes they are prototypes for Zelenka's next tattoos.

No. He doesn't want to know.

"One," Zelenka says, picking up a piece of paper from the pile and letting Rodney have ten entire seconds of absolutely not hope before he says, "Agent Emmagen sent Agent Sheppard's latest report." He points at a folder on Rodney's chair.

Rodney snatches the note before Zelenka can say anything else, but it does say, in fact, just that.

Please give Dr. McKay Agent Sheppard's latest report.
--Emmagen

"That's it?"

Zelenka gives him a blank look. "You expected ponies?"

Well, no, but--" But. "She has this number, doesn't she?" Which would mean, say, John would have this number. To call. And yell.

Zelenka stares at him, then nods very, very slowly. "Yes. This is how I knew to wait for her to drop off the folder."

"Teyla was here?" Looking around frantically, Rodney wonders if right now, a sniper has a gun trained on his head. He should never have left the lab. Ever. "Where? When?"

Zelenka takes a slow step back. "This morning," he says, then points at his lab. "I will be in there. Looking for a cure."

"Cure?" Rodney searches his desk desperately, but other than what looks like a letter for a future edition of Penthouse (oh God, it's Miko's; is she talking about *him*?), there's nothing. No phone call, no note, *nothing*. What the fuck? "For what? Look, was the phone turned off?"

"For stupidity."

Spinning around, Rodney considers violence, but Zelenka's already vanished. Through one of the observation windows, Rodney gets a glimpse of Miko watching him speculatively and quickly grabs John's folder and retreats to the lab behind the unbelievable comfort and safety of a DNA locked door.

Safely inside, he throws it on the lab table and stomps toward the bathroom, taking a deep, careful breath as he opens the medicine cabinet. Taking out his phone, he turns it on, going back to his stool at the lab table, and sits down, bracing himself to for the voice mail. In his head, he carefully rehearses what he'll say: it's not you, it's me. And maybe your suits. Wait, no. I mean, I'm not ready to settle down. Ever. God, you're hot. What in the name of God was I thinking? I like chess. And suits are--not that bad. When you aren't wearing them.

Ten minutes later, Rodney's still staring at his phone. No one had called.

*****

It takes him another twenty minutes before he opens the folder and sees the date at the top.

*****

"I've been trying to reach you since last night!" Rodney shouts into the phone at five in the morning, having picked it up at the first ring and realizing only belatedly that will give John the wrong impression. "What--"

"Dr. McKay," Teyla says coolly, stopping him cold before he can say another word, "your assistance is required. We need surveillance installed at a new location and Dr. Weir wishes you to oversee it personally. Is tonight convenient?"

Rodney stares at the phone for a second, then clears his throat. "Right. Um. Have you seen John anywhere?" What if Rodney broke his heart and he's in a gutter somewhere? Or Rodney pushed him off the clean and sobermobile and he's getting high with Chaya and legions of faceless rentboys who probably can't even do *simple addition*?

"Kolya asked for his company earlier than expected," Teyla answers. "Dr. Weir will give you the address of the building. Is eleven tonight convenient?"

Rodney blinks; Kolya wasn't due back for a week. And Rodney knows this because maybe he once glanced at John's schedule. He was pretty good at picking a password, Rodney has to admit. "Yes, of course."

"Very well. Good night, Dr. McKay."

*****

The condo is one of the newer, modern lofts that make Rodney faintly queasy; there's some kind of glass and steel chic going on that reminds him worryingly of a hideous one night stand between a blizzard and minimalism after it got high. Checking the equipment, Rodney sends the geeks back three times, then gives up and goes to Radio Shack himself, sending them scuttling off with the blueprints while he scans the apartment.

There's not much furniture yet, which just adds to the entire impression of too much white space and a professional decorator's initial work. The walls are still clear, though; no surreal modern art or geometrically shaped creepiness, but Rodney thinks it's really only a matter of time. Going through it once, the discomfort increases at the stretch of white walls around him; worse, he's fairly sure he should know exactly what's bothering him.

Teyla, scarily professional in a maroon suit and dark sunglasses, directs various agents to different rooms for various, insane purposes that he doesn’t care about. Mostly, he's staring at the state of the art entertainment system and wondering really, how much free time Kolya can possibly have between murder, mayhem, and fucking John to appreciate in-wall speakers and a ninety-six inch plasma screen.

He should probably say something.

"I was busy," Rodney tells her an hour later, when she comes up behind him to study the screen. Three engineers are currently talking about soundwaves in the vocabulary of porn that's as creepy as it was in grad school. Rodney had a private bet they have never known the touch of a hand other than their own. "This week," he clarifies when she doesn't answer.

Teyla looks at him blankly. "Did you expect this to be easy?"

"No. I mean--about John. Um. Missing dinner." He motions toward the computer. "And the--thing. Researching it."

"I hope we can find an answer," she says with a tiny sigh, taking off the glasses. She looks exhausted; Rodney thinks of the Apartment of Secrecy and winces.

"How long has he--been with Kolya?" Rodney asks, turning his full attention back to the screen.

"He called when John and Ronon were out of the city," Teyla answers, rubbing her forehead before she takes the chair beside him, sighing. "John suspected Kolya had a specific purpose and so agreed."

Rodney frowns, typing one handed as he picks up one of the blown-up blueprints. "Purpose?"

"This apartment."

Rodney jerks his head up, blinking slowly. "Kolya bought John this?" Looking around again, Rodney notices the white rugs on the floor, the almost overwhelmingly anal level of neatness, and suddenly hates it.

"Kolya bought the building," she answers, picking up a report with a frown. "Do you think--"

"Wait." Rodney sends off the next set of commands and turns to look at her. "Stop. If Kolya's back in town, why didn't you call me for surveillance?"

Teyla takes a small ice age to lift her head; marking her place on the page with a finger, she look at Rodney curiously. "I was not aware you wished to participate."

"The other night--"

"Ah. I had thought you were merely curious. We can handle it, Dr. McKay, do not worry." With a reassuring smile at the dismissal, she goes back to the report. Rodney feels like he just missed something important.

"Just because I--didn't call him doesn't mean I'm not part of the team," he answers awkwardly, attempting professional and failing miserably. "I'm a professional." So is John, he almost snaps, but he honestly can't see John barring him from observation, because that would require John know he was there at all, and he just can't see Teyla, no matter how honest she and John are, telling him about that. "I can't do my job if I don't know what's going on."

Teyla points at the bag behind her. "The surveillance footage is there. But I doubt it will be of any help."

"Don't tell me what I do and don't need to know," Rodney snaps, standing up. "Gaul! Get in here and take over. I want every wire and every centimeter of wall accounted for and recorded. Kolya's people will be all over this place when we're done and they can't find anything, got it?"

"Yes sir!" Gaul trots up, looking at Rodney with wide, terrified eyes. For one of Zelenka's kids, he's disturbingly cute and has only begun his long journey into the joys of body modification, which makes Rodney feel vaguely like a child molester. Grabbing the indicated bag, Rodney looks around, wondering where he can go to watch this.

"The bedroom is unoccupied," Teyla says without looking up. "It has already been secured."

And what a great place to do this.

The bedroom's partially furnished as well, which tells Rodney that there's some fast forward in his future. He gives the bed a long look, then decides that he doesn't care, sitting crossed-leg in the middle and rebelliously booting up the laptop, pulling the portable hard drive they keep the raw footage on and plugging it in.

FBI computers, Rodney thinks as he squints at the screen, really need to learn that lowest-bidder should not apply to technology. Flipping through scenes from the hotel that he can live without (though he thinks he'll probably be haunted through his nightmares by the sound of Kolya's grunts), he watches until everyone is decent and hits play.

John, in hideously overpriced jeans and a frighteningly white button-up shirt, wanders into the living room, feet pale and bare as he crosses to the couch. He pauses, looking for the remote with narrowed eyes, and remembering the precise order of John's apartment, Rodney has to smile. Hunting it from under a slick, black leather cushion, John sits down on the arm, turning on the TV as Kolya comes in.

"Turn it off."

John tilts his head, eyebrows raised. "Not tired yet?" he says with a slow, suggestive smile that makes Rodney twitch. Kolya's mouth softens, but he simply goes to John's side, taking the remote and flipping off the cooking channel (barbecued ribs, Rodney notes. Have to find a copy of that), wrapping a hand around the back of John's neck and pulling him into a slow, familiar kiss.

Rodney feels himself stiffen with a sudden start of a completely unfamiliar emotion when Kolya draws back, wiping a thumb over John's bottom lip. "I have something for you."

"So not tired?"

"Do you think of nothing but sex?" Kolya says indulgently as he eases John to his feet. Warm brown eyes smile down at John as he pulls him unresistingly toward the door.

The hall view is just walking; Rodney fast-forwards through the elevator because Kolya decides that his tongue's been out of John's mouth far too long and needs to rectify that. It takes ten minutes by the clock; Rodney wishes he'd asked for alcohol.

Outside, the streetlights are just coming on, light fading from the grey-pink horizon, and John looks mostly bored until he stops short, looking utterly surprised.

The camera pans enough to bring the Lamborghini into view, taking up a no-parking zone with flagrant amounts of fuck-you to say, city ordinances. Rodney squints a little as John leaves the frame then comes back in at the hood of the car.

"You got me a car?" John says slowly.

"I had hoped," Kolya says from off-screen, voice tinny, "that it might--convince you to accept my next offer."

John stiffens. "Offer?" he says slowly, turning around. Kolya comes into view as John leans back against the hood. "Such as?"

"I want you to move in with me."

John frowns. "I told you--"

"Not the house." Kolya blocks the camera briefly as he comes up in front of John, one hand resting casually on John's hip, fingers sliding beneath the loose hem of his shirt. "Somewhere new. For us both."

Rodney can just get a glimpse of John's face, but not nearly well enough to see anything but the faint outline of his profile. Where the hell were the other cameras? "What's the catch?"

Kolya hesitates. "I understand you have other--interests. I'd prefer you no longer pursue them."

"We talked about this."

"We have. However, your--objections--rested on faulty premises. I do not want to share you."

Rodney bites his lip at the sincerity behind the words; *now* the fucking camera changes, and he can see John's face and Kolya's right when he really doesn't want to. John looks--

--looks nothing like Michael at that moment. He doesn't quite look like John, either. "Kolya--"

"You must know how I feel about you," Kolya says quietly. "And I understand you do not feel the same. I do not care. Let me take care of you."

Jesus. "Kolya--" John tries again, voice unsteady.

"Acastus." Closing the distance between then, Kolya cups John's face in both hands. "I understand. And I do not care. You may have whatever you want. Anything you want. You need not even ask. Just do this for me."

John will say yes; of course he will say yes. This is what they've been waiting for. And hey, right now, Rodney's watching this soap opera in the fucking *bedroom*, but--but God, he wants John to say no. Be Michael again, pretty and glittering and false as rhinestones and not look quite so real.

"I--" Kolya stops him with a slow kiss, utterly different from the elevator's semi-porn. When Kolya lifts his head, John's staring at him like he's never seen him before. "You want me that badly?"

"Yes."

John licks his lips nervously, then nods. "Yeah. Okay. I can do that."

Kolya kisses him again with that foreign tenderness, in the middle of a sidewalk in fucking DC, with cars passing in the background. Rodney realizes he's got the bedcovers clenched between his fists and forces himself to let go before he rips through the silky cloth. When Kolya draws away, coaxing John back to the stairs of the hotel, Rodney shuts the computer off and fights down the urge to trash the room, because last night when Teyla called him, Kolya was fucking John in this brand new room in this--their bed.

He can't get off it fast enough.

*****

Teyla comes in just as he's trying to decide if a small, localized fire in this room would really be that big a deal. "You are finished already?" she asks, eyebrows raised as she leans against the doorway.

Rodney, on the floor closes to the window, glances at the closed laptop at his knee. He's not sure how long he'd been watching, but it feels like he's been here a week.

"They're living together?" That's a lot more than a rentboy. That's-- "They're *living together*? Who thought that was a good idea?"

"No one. However, to have full access to Kolya's business and contacts, it's required." Teyla looks around the room. "I have spoken to Zelenka--"

"Tell me the truth this time," Rodney says slowly, staring at the laptop beside him on the floor and not yet in component pieces. "Just for the hell of it. You said Kolya inherited him. But I think you forgot to mention it was before Cowen actually died."

Teyla hesitates. "I do not know--"

"Bullshit. If anyone would know, you would."

"I would not," Teyla says, voice steady, "because I did not watch. I did not care. I did not care about anything but that we continue to be cared for." Her voice drops. "I do not know if Kolya was involved with John, nor do I know if I was, nor do I know a great deal about--" She closes her eyes, voice beginning to shake. "John does not--Cowen was generous with his men. And John and I were considered--property. It is probable."

"You never asked him?"

Teyla looks away. "Until this week, I did not know to ask." Her eyes flicker around the bedroom with obvious disgust. "And I am not sure how much John--will remember."

"From what I'm seeing, he remembers a hell of a lot more than he's said."

Her head snaps up. "Dr. McKay--"

Rodney rubs his forehead, fighting the urge to start yelling; it won't do any good, and she's armed. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He's not even sure why he's doing this. "Where is he?"

"With Ronon while Kolya is out of the city. He needs stability between these--sessions--and Ronon is an old friend."

Rodney ignores the implication. "Where does Ronon live?"

"I think it's best if he's--with people who know him well," Teyla answers slowly. "It is difficult enough--"

"I was working," Rodney blurts out, because of course she thinks he's trying to crawl in John's pants and then blew him off. Which is--actually what he did, but not like she thinks.

"I am sure he understands that," she says without a trace of irony. "But this is very difficult for him. For everyone. It is better he has--"

"I didn't mean to hurt him." Except for all the ways he actually did, and that is the exact reason he doesn't *do* this shit. "I just--"

"Do not trouble yourself," Teyla says, straightening from the door. "John had no expectation that you were interested in him for anything other than recreational---pursuits. However, he needs time to rest. With friends."

And right there, Rodney finds out there are in fact, new ways to be an asshole and not even know it. "It's not because of--of this," he says desperately, getting to his feet. "Teyla, let me talk to him. It has nothing to do with him."

Teyla inclines her head without a trace of belief in a word he says. He almost can't blame her, but he options to do it anyway. "Agent Ford will relieve me within the hour," she says, switching to professional. "If you require more staff, do not hesitate to ask. We will get you anything you require."

He opens his mouth, almost asking for John, thanks, but that can only go horribly wrong, and she's not the one he has to explain himself to anyway. And won't that be a treat and a fucking half?

While he's still considering asking her to at least *tell* John something--God knows what, he doesn't have a clue--she nods shortly and goes back into the main room, almost immediately swarmed with agents.

Rodney's never hated life more.

*****

The best thing about being the designer of a surveillance system is that he also knows how to tap into it. Kolya's goons hadn't found any of their modifications the first time through, so Rodney felt fairly comfortable adding one more thing. Just in case.

John's not at the apartment of serial killing white death, nor at the one that they use for surveillance; inquiries to Weir get him a confused look that he *knows* is a lie, and he'll very possibly be found in his component parts if he tries Teyla or Ronon.

So he watches a room being searched and remodeled by goons, eats Taco Bell on his living room floor, and tries not to wonder what the hell he's doing. On the surface, he admits it looks like a lot effort put into someone he had decided firmly was off-limits for recreational--pursuits.

God, he hates Teyla.

Zelenka shows up late two nights after Rodney's part in the condo is done, apparently convinced he's been implanted with something (it turns out to be a mole, but Rodney tells him it's broadcasting and lets him hide under the kitchen table for three hours before the munchies draw him out) and spends a precious two hours reminding Zelenka that yes, they have slept together before, and yes, it had been very, very bad.

"It could be better next time," Zelenka says without any real conviction, curling up on Rodney's beige couch in a fit of utter torpidity. "There were orgasms--weren't there?"

"No," Rodney says between gritted teeth, because hello flashback, so not what he needs. "You didn't warn me about the piercing. There was dental work later. Did I mention I heard Weir say they're selling your ass to the aliens?"

"Elizabeth is a pawn in their conspiracy," Zelenka says pleasantly. Jesus, he's high. "You are merely frustrated. Go have sex."

Rodney tilts his head back against the cushion and considers his life. So far, he's become equivalent of a very skilled telephone operator for the FBI right now. Well, no, but he's too tired to think clearly. And no, he hasn't had sex, not since Teyla, but he's not even sure it qualifies as sex when neither of the participants are enjoying themselves at all, and God does that say a lot.

"What if he was hurt?" Rodney tells the ceiling. "They'd tell me, wouldn't they? Or he died? Or needs stitches?"

"You will stitch him up with your lack of a medical degree?" Zelenka slurs above his head. "You are acting strangely."

"Still not implanted."

Zelenka huffs, then noisily settles back in the cushions like a small, pink and silver haired elf. Rodney can't get over how he makes something so cool so terrifying. "You could call him."

He *could* actually, but while he's willing to hijack an official FBI security system, using the phone somehow seems like too much commitment. And it also seems like the phone isn't working, because he had Miko call for him and it went straight to voice mail. That's just irresponsible. What if someone needed to contact him in an emergency? "You know the weird part? Kolya kills people. All the time! But he's a good boyfriend. How the fuck does that work?"

Zelenka snorts.

"No, really. John frowns, he's got interior designers genuflecting and promising up their firstborns." Rodney stares at the sad bottles of what used to be water and the carefully arranged empty takeout boxes with a Fiesta Nacho combo perched on top like a halo. "John wants a car, Kolya calls up fucking *Italy*. John pouts and Kolya's falling over himself to find out what will make him stop." And does Rodney wish he hadn't watched the rest of that footage. "It's irritating."

Something's wrong, Rodney knows it, and he thinks Teyla does too. She knows because she lived it already once, and she saw John after that club thing (which, Rodney will admit, was partially his fault, but there was no way he could have anticipated ex-prostitute mentor showing up). Worse, he thinks John knows it, too.

"Why does it matter to you?" Zelenka mutters, muffled by cushions. "It is another job. A few months, another job. And another. You will not see him again after this is over, no?" Zelenka pokes the back of his head. "Why are you here and sober on a Friday? I suspect--"

Rodney's phone rings abruptly, and Rodney lunges for it, not even glancing at the number. "Miko."

"He's here," Miko whispers loud enough for passing airplanes to hear. Rodney grits his teeth and fights the urge to rub his ear. "He was just dropped off."

"Good. Great to hear. I--" Rodney winces. "Owe you."

"I intend to collect," Miko purrs, hanging up. Rodney lowers the phone and stares at it for a moment, letting the horror wash over him briefly before he sets it aside for some free time to think of a way out of it. Because so many kinds of no, please, no are going on there.

When he turns around, Zelenka is staring at him. "Who is 'he'?" he asks, pushing himself up on one arm before crashing back down. "Rodney. Do not tell me you are stalking again."

"I was never arrested for that," Rodney snaps back. "And I'm worried. About this *job*. Of which he is an integral part. Give me your car keys. How the hell did you drive?"

Zelenka shrugs, face planted in a cushion, then goes still. Warily, Rodney checks to see if he's still alive; he is. And asleep.

Gingerly, Rodney checks his jeans pockets, pulling out the key ring and sighing in relief to see there are no used condoms attached (wow, another unpleasant flashback), and turns his head so he doesn't suffocate.

Now the real challenge will be to see if he actually parked somewhere in a mile radius. Or say, in the city.

*****

John is wide awake and almost insultingly surprised to see him. "Rodney?" John says with a frown. "What--it's two in the morning."

"You didn't call." Rodney pushes past him and into the endless white nightmare of John's living space. Fun game: compare and contrast John's living spaces. Somehow, it's even worse now, seeing the similarities between them. Couch and coffee table, replace the gauze curtains with Venetian blinds and they might as well be in Michael's condo. "What the hell was that about?"

"Did you--did you know you're wearing boxers and no shoes?" John says slowly, closing the door. "Were you robbed?"

"I was *worried* about you," Rodney shoots back. John's wearing jeans and a button-up shirt at two in the morning. Rodney might be dressed inappropriately--and by might, yes, for a visit to another person, sure, he'll give John that if it makes him feel better--but John is in *jeans* and it took almost an hour to track down Zelenka's car.

John blinks. "Uh. Why?"

Rodney waves his phone. "No call! Then your phone was turned off. You could have been lying in a *gutter*--"

"Everyone knew where I was," John says in bewilderment. "Someone told you I was dead?"

"No! That's not the point." And Weir totally knew where he was. John is still staring at him, but Rodney can't think in this room. On the other hand, John's bedroom, the only sane room here, seems maybe not the impression he wants to make.

John shifts from foot to foot, then sighs. "Look," he says finally, not moving any farther from the door, like he expects to be opening it again and ushering Rodney out the door as soon as he's done, "you don't owe me any explanations. We weren't dating--"

"That!" Rodney points his phone at John. "That. You see, we kind of were." The sky does not open and send down lightning, nor does the world ends. Even the nausea isn't so powerful he has to run to the bathroom. "I mean, there was three days of food which were provided followed by touching. Granted, I wasn't paying attention to what we were doing, but it was *regular* and then I didn't show up after a truly *stupid* voicemail--

"I never expected you to," John interrupts, eyebrows drawn together.

And who knew five words could feel like that? "--and you don't even *ask why*?"

John opens his mouth, then closes it with a click.

"There should be angry voicemail. There should have been, I don't know, *yelling*." God, he sounds insane and John's looking more confused by the second. "Okay, don't take this the wrong way, but if we don't get out of this room, that serial killer test is going to be tested. How can you stay here and not have a psychotic break?"

John shrugs. 'I'm used to it."

Rodney can almost feel John weighing the odds of getting Rodney out the door against just going with it; Rodney could have told him which way to bet. After all, Rodney's never been known to make anything easy.

Finally, John sighs, scratching the back of his neck. "Yeah. Okay. Come on. I'm not sleeping anyway." He pads by Rodney with a good two foot space between them, and Rodney finds himself staring at the long column of his throat, pale gold with a fading hickey just below his ear, pale purple edged in green and yellow.

Kolya probably never stands him up, and that thought proves the entire theory; this room is insane. He is not comparing himself to John's alternate persona's boyfriend.

Numbly, he follows John down the hall, finding himself in John's comfortable and too-familiar room where, when he left with a hard-on and a faint sense of panic, had cushions on the floor and three game systems spread out like tentacles everywhere you stepped. Everything's gone.

John didn't expect him, but maybe he'd hoped. Rodney hadn't known he could feel worse, but the lack of Guitar Hero is physically painful.

John sits stiffly at the foot of the bed. "I really--have no idea what you want me to say," he says slowly. "You canceled. I never expected you to--"

"Why not?" Rodney says suddenly.

"I--what?"

"Expect me. Be pissed if I blew you off. Call and yell at my voicemail. Something. Because I was--I don't even believe I'm saying this--I was waiting for you to and you didn't and that just leads to Miko stalking you and now I owe her and God knows how she'll collect."

"Wait. Why would Miko be stalking me?"

"Because you didn't call and I--I thought you would. At least--at least try."

"Oh." John shifts, hazel eyes flickering away. Then, "I didn't call. I was pissed, though."

Rodney almost sighs in relief. Grabbing a cushion from the terrifyingly neat stack beside the door, Rodney drags it toward the bed and sits down. "That's a start."

John's mouth twitches.

"The thing is," Rodney continues, ignoring the shocky feeling running through him, "if you'd just shown up and yelled at me, this would have been a lot easier on us both."

John smiles then, which Rodney takes as the victory it is. Then the smile fades, and John leans back on one arm. "This isn't a good idea."

"No one has ever accused me of having a *good* idea," Rodney answers sharply. "Ran away from my own *life*, drugs, tattoos, that unfortunate incident with a sailboat--huh. I never told you about that. Please don't ask. Where's Guitar Hero?"

John's eyes widen, and surprisingly, he flushes.

"You threw it away." Twelve years ago, give or take a year (the nineties are a blur), his not-girlfriend-actually-a-boyfriend-wow-gay-revelation-there had thrown away everything he'd owned (two unmatched socks, four shirts, and three issues of Spiderman; the bastard had kept the pot) when he'd gone out for cigarettes and ended up in Philadelphia for a month. That was when Rodney a.) realized he'd been in a relationship and b.) people could be deeply crazy when they were jealous.

Case in point: he owes Miko a favor. Wow. He owes Gilly (Gilbert?) an apology.

"No," John says too quickly, still flushed. "I just let Ronon borrow it and the Playstation. So you know, never getting that back. Ever."

Rodney thinks of Ronon and has to agree; it would be a brave man to face him down for the wireless controller. "We'll get a new one," Rodney says without getting sick at all. That was very encouraging. John grins back, hazel eyes bright. Too bright. "When's the last time you slept?"

John's expression changes, and Rodney almost kicks himself; Kolya's been giving him cars and condos and fucking him in that bed that, God willing, when this is over, Rodney will be allowed to destroy in some petty yet satisfying way. "It's been a long week," John answers slowly, not meeting his eyes. "Busy."

"I don't care."

John's face freezes. Right, rewind.

"I mean," Rodney says quickly. "About--the entire thing with the--" Rodney motions toward the bed, because while before, sure, he'd said rentboy *before*, it's *different* now and he's heard that referring to people's job as rentboying might not go over well. "With Kolya."

John squints. "It's killing you not to say rentboy, isn't it?"

Rodney thinks it has to say something about them that John knows that.

"There really aren't any good euphemisms, are there? I wouldn't know them even if they were. Look. I do not care if you are fucking Kolya and his entire goon squad--" John winces, biting his lip, "--or selling your ass for the FBI like, every day--"

"Uh, Rodney--"

"What? Why's that so hard to believe?"

"Because while you don't care, you just tore through the fabric of that pillow," John points out. Rodney looks down and realizes the soft stuff that he's been clutching is actually cotton. "Look, this can't work, not right now, anyway. I can't--ask you to do what I can't."

Rodney translates Johnese so easily it's almost frightening. "You don't have to ask," he answers, discreetly pulling his fingers free of the cotton. "I don't know if you noticed, but the people here are very, very boring." Before John can think up any more insane objections, Rodney gets to his feet and discreetly kicks the pillow into the corner for later disposal of the evidence. "Get undressed, " he says, pointing firmly toward a pillow that had seen better days in the eighties. "For sleep," he clarifies when John stares at him. "Maybe making out until sleep? I'll lock the door, " he adds helpfully before John can open his mouth.

When he gets back, John's in his boxers, and Rodney can see the scratches on John's back, the places Kolya left his marks on John's body. It's deliberate, he knows, by the set of John's body, the way he holds himself. Rodney thinks how convenient it is that he came over ready for bed, flipping the lights off and climbing onto a hideous mattress that groans unpleasantly with every shift of John's body.

John tenses the first time Rodney touches him, and Rodney remembers how Kolya surrounded him, and keeps his touch light, carefully harmless, until he coaxes John close enough to curl up against him.

It's been years since he slept with someone and meant it, wanted it, and he's not sure he's ever wanted it quite like this before. Not when all he really wants is for John to relax, feel him go liquid by degrees until he turns his head and catches Rodney's mouth in a slow, soft kiss, sleep-edged and sloppy and wonderful.

John falls asleep between one kiss and the next, head warm and heavy on Rodney's shoulder, and if it weren't for the springs trying to crawl through the mattress and impale his back, this might be the most perfect night of Rodney's life.

*****

Rodney opens the door on Teyla and immediately wishes he'd just cut the wire on the doorbell and gone back to sleep. "He's sleeping!" Rodney whispers frantically. "Kitchen, yell in the *kitchen*." Ushering her inside, he points her toward the coffee (coffee can fix almost everything) before running back down the hall and carefully closing the door.

Though really, if that obnoxiously loud doorbell didn't do the trick, Rodney could probably start a small LAN party in the bedroom and John probably wouldn't twitch.

When he gets back, Teyla's making coffee with a viciousness that leaves grounds all over the counter. "What are you doing here?" she asks icily.

"Sleeping." When she jerks open a drawer that's filled with knives, Rodney revises. "I wanted to explain."

She takes out a spoon. "He does not need additional stress."

"He's sleeping! Obviously I'm *helping*." Rodney crosses his arms, trying to look like determined and not worried when she doesn't close that damn drawer.

"Until you need to work again," she answers shortly, shutting the door with just enough force to be obvious but not enough to make any noise. She leans both hands on the counter, closing her eyes. "Dr. McKay, I understand you have a different--way of living your life. But this is not--we cannot--"

"I'm not going to do that again."

She turns her head, looking at him. "You do not understand."

"I know. But I want to." Teyla's expression doesn't change. "I'm not," Rodney grits out, "trying get him into bed just to see if I can fuck his head up worse than Kolya's already doing. I'm not that hard up for sex. I can get that anywhere."

"Then why are you here?" she asks tiredly. Rodney sees the same tension in her as John, and some part of him hates Weir and O'Neill for authorizing this, because nothing can be worth what it's doing to them.

Seeing the coffee is almost done, he opens the cabinet and gets out two mugs, keeping the FBI one for himself, remembering John's hands wrapped around it. "Because he's here," Rodney says, staring at the coffee steadily. "Because he should have called and told me I was being an asshole. He--should have known he could do that."

"That--" Teyla stops, studying him. Rodney tries not to twitch as the seconds tick by, but he wonders what she's seeing, what she's remembering (maybe the fact he fucked her and how it's probably not a good recommendation for his character), what she knows about him, balanced against the sleeping man in the next room. "You should go back to bed," she says suddenly, taking the cup away from him.

Rodney half-heartedly tries to hold onto the cup, but it's a foregone conclusion who will win in that contest. The truth is, even coffee isn't as tempting as crawling back under covers warmed from John's body and sleeping. Rodney hasn't been sleeping well either. "But--"

"We will return at lunch," Teyla says, pouring herself a cup of coffee. "Go. Rest. We have much to do today and will be fresher for the rest."

Rodney nods slowly, then stops and considers the plural. "We?"

"Ronon," she says, taking a sip of coffee. "Now go."

Ronon. Oh God. "Teyla," Rodney starts, but she just sets her cup aside and pushes him out of the safety of the kitchen and into the hall.

"Shh," she says, leaving him halfway down the hall with no clear idea how he got there. "Go to bed before he wakes up."

And not wonder where Rodney is. Right. That.

Rodney creeps back down the hall, slipping in the darkened room, and buries himself in warm blankets that smell of them both.

John opens a sleepy eye and follows Rodney's coaxing until he's sprawled comfortably against Rodney's side. "Morning?" John mutters without any actual interest.

"Who cares?" Rodney brushes a kiss against John's hair. "More sleep, less talking."

"Mm." John hand settles on his chest and snuffles before he's boneless. Rodney thinks about Ronon for a moment of terror, then gives it up and goes with him.

*****

Rodney cleverly wakes up before Teyla and Ronon arrive and steals John's sweatpants to go to the local Best Buy and get a new Playstation; by the time Ronon shows up, narrowed eyes and very, very large, they're halfway through their second game and John's massacring a song so badly that Ronon takes it away from him to show him how to do it right.

By the time they're done playing and Teyla has wiped the floor with them (ten pm, two calls for takeout, one case of beer, three pots of coffee), Rodney's integrating their reports and everyone (Ronon) is too busy to remember to beat Rodney up. There's nothing particularly new, except the system in the new condo is working perfectly, which John listens to without changing expression, and that the other apartments in the building are being systematically filled by Kolya's people.

"You know," Rodney says, taking the last breadstick with a frown, "if we blew up the building, we'd solve a lot of problems pretty quickly." At everyone's horrified looks (except Ronon, who nods hopefully), Rodney rolls his eyes. "Oh please, like that's the worst idea in history."

"No, it's really the worst idea in history." John steals his breadstick and dips it into marinara sauce with a frown. "Besides, that won't get any of his businesses." John leans back against the foot of the bed. "He's working on something pretty big right now. He's taking a lot of late night calls, and he's never done that before."

Rodney glances at Teyla, who watches John behind the rim of her cup. "Was Kolya in Colombia?" Teyla asks casually. "I do not remember."

John hesitates; only for a second, but Rodney knows Teyla sees it. "Cowen called him in," John answers, not quite reluctant, but something like it. "He--stayed a couple of weeks, they argued, and he left."

"Cowen was becoming paranoid near the end," Teyla tells Rodney, but her attention's on John. "Is that when he arrived?"

"I--think so." John's frown is so faint that Rodney almost misses it. "It was--when Cowen cut us off."

Teyla stiffens. "I do not remember that."

"He was pissed about the leaks. He didn't really think it was us, but he needed a target." John bites his lip. "He helped me get--"

"More."

They exchange an unreadable look, then Teyla nods, almost to herself. "It is late," she says, ignoring Ronon's startled look. "It is several days until you will be called, John. You should rest."

John nods jerkily, getting to his feet, and Rodney watches in bemusement as Teyla and John maneuver Ronon out the door before he has a chance to stop them. Rodney stacks up the takeout boxes and carries them to the kitchen, ignoring John hovering near the door.

After a few minutes, John gives up, cleaning up the spilled coffee grounds and stains on the white counter, breaking down the boxes in some display of anal-retentive horror, and generally being so busy that even if Rodney could figure out a subtle way to reintroduce the subject, there's no way he could do it over the noise.

And that's assuming Rodney's ever been acquainted with subtle. "So," Rodney says when John finishes washing his hands, like the scary neat freak he is, "tired?"

John doesn't stiffen, but even Rodney sees the flare of discomfort. "A little," he says warily, which Rodney ignores. "Why?"

Rodney leans against the counter. "Grand Theft Auto IV. And by the way? Going to kick your ass."

All the tension melts away like water. Wiping his hands on a towel, John reaches almost casually for his hand, fingers sliding across Rodney's palm, pulling him out of the kitchen and down the hall. "Bring it on."

*****

He seriously, seriously hates John's mattress.

*****

Rodney gets a voicemail from Elizabeth halfway through a day where he has a.) complete success in monitoring at least three Kolya goons now enjoying federal hospitality b.) complete failure getting that fucking jewelry to work and c.) a complete and total breakdown when Miko gives him the terms of his agreement.

"You want what?"

"It will only take a few hours," she says soothingly. "Pencil only."

Rodney sits helplessly on the edge of his desk. "Nude sketches."

"Wearing this." She hands him a pair of bright silver heels.

"Silver's not my color," he manages, like it matters. "And aren't these Zelenka's?"

"He helped me pick them out."

Zelenka will pay. In fact, Rodney's halfway through sending his email address to Focus on the Family for literature when he notices the red blinking on his office phone and finds out that Kolya's flown back from Cozumel and John's back on duty.

There's a second voicemail on his phone from John, telling him that he'll be out of touch for a while and if he wants the Playstation, Teyla has his key.

Rodney remembers the next two weeks in dream-images of work and sleep on his lab couch, yelling at Weir over the phone, sitting through nights in the apartment of secrecy with Ronon and losing to him in Maddon NFL 08.

He faintly remembers threatening to kill Zelenka when his staff takes a day to be one with nature or some shit that has the result of lab nudity. Nudity doesn't belong under fluorescent lights or near lab stools. It's like very bad porn that at any second will segue to a horror movie.

He remembers every second he watched Michael curled up in Kolya's bed, the pretty former junkie who fucks Kolya for luxury cars and new clothes, and he remembers he doesn't see John at all.

The third week starts with John calling the contact number; Kolya's taking him out of the city and he'll be in touch. Teyla stumbles as Weir tells them that Michael's passport registered in Colombia before they vanished off the radar.

"He--he would not have agreed," Teyla whispers as Ronon rubs her back helplessly. "Not if he knew where they were going."

Maybe. Rodney thinks of the last two weeks and how little of John he'd seen in the man in Kolya's bed. Telling her that won't be news, but it might be confirmation of something he's pretty sure neither of them are ready or willing to hear. "How did he sound?" Rodney asks Weir, who looks only marginally better than Teyla.

Weir frowns. "Unusual," she says. "More relaxed than I've heard him since we met."

"Relaxed?" Teyla's head comes up sharply as Rodney's voice breaks. "Relaxed as in, oh, *drugged?"

Weir closes her eyes. "He gave the safe codes," she says finally. "If he was in trouble--if he was in trouble, he would have told us, or he wouldn't have been able to use them at all."

"That's not what I meant."

"I know what you meant." Weir straightens, looking between them. "I trust him. If I stop now, I could get him killed." Folding her hands on the desk, she glances at the phone, like she's willing a second call. "When he makes contact again, I'll call."

There's not much left after that. Teyla leaves first, Ronon belatedly on her heels, leaving Rodney wandering out after them, vaguely aware he should go back to his lab and knowing he wont' get anything done.

Instead he drags himself home, showers with the soap he stole from John's hideous apartment and stares at the ceiling of his living room for three hours. Giving up, he calls a cab and breaks into John's apartment, walking through white-washed silence to the warm bedroom and the view of the city that John's not in.

He finally falls asleep on John's uncomfortable mattress wrapped in John's worn blankets, wondering if it was Michael or John who called Weir today, then wondering when he started thinking of them as two separate people.

*****

Next: Part 4


We're only at part 3 of this and I'm already horribly addicted. There's just something about the angsty rentboy/FBI-agent combo that pushes all my buttons.

Still haven't read part 2 yet, but looking forward to laying around tomorrow and reading the last two parts :) I love this AU, how damaged they are. Great work.

Oh wow, those poor woobies!

I am collecting the parts to enjoy as a whole; I look forward to reading this.

Oh John, oh honey. And Rodney, way to fall fast and fall hard. And Teyla, god, OW. Her worry over John is exactly right for an agent worrying for her partner in a dire situation. Also, yay for her sending Rodney back to bed before John can wake. ♥

*frets over them all*

Ouch. :( :(

(Also, is it possible that you've never posted this part before? I think I've read a bit of what comes after - maybe? - but this was completely new to me.)

It's from teh second draft, all of it, so no, you haven't seen it. *G* I forgot--you're on that filter.

THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME! *curses you out*

*laughs* Good! Thank you!

wondering if it was Michael or John who called Weir today, then wondering when he started thinking of them as two separate people.

they really kinda are two separate people, though I suspect it's hard for lots of other people to recognize that

these incarnations of the characters keep surprising me; so vividly different and yet so recognizable as *them*. I'm wibbling for John right now - and really feeling for Rodney

Thank you! And yeah, they really *are*, I think.

THIS IS LIKE HEROINE AND I NEED MY NEXT FIX NOW, PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

I -- Rodney wants John to follow a script! A boyfriend script! And is mad that he isn't, and then thinky and bing bing bing he gets everything and it's so amazingly not Rodney in the same way that it's so amazingly Rodney and the only thing that stops me from basically ripping my hair out in worry are the hints about Zelenka and his crazies -- and god, MIKO! that's perfect -- and you?

You are fucking excellent.

Now GIMME MORE!! I'll beg. And, um, offer stuff. Anything.

It *isn't* like Rodney, is it? But it is. I kind of thought the same thing while writing it. He would--you know. Be pissy John *didn't even try* dammit. The bastard. And inconvenienced him! AND MADE HIM WORRY ABOUT GUTTERS.

Ok
I adore miko and the other crazies... the silver shoes *snickers*.
how many more parts are there roughly?? i am just anxsious... ohhh john seems to be getting subsummed by michael oh no!!!

*GLEE* Thank you!

Um, from the separation so far, probably three, unless the rewrite of the ending is longer than it looks. So we're probaly halfway or so? It's around sixty thousandish words, so give or take from that.

(Deleted comment)
*speechlesswithawe*
-----}-@

I am looooving this. They are slowly (very slowly, Rodney), working their way towards each other. Teyla is wonderful.

Thank you very much! Yes, it is slow. And weirdly funny for me with Rodney trying to work out how this relationship thing goes and John not knowing either.

Oh, this is so, so good, and yet so very disturbing and fucked-up, like holding dark chocolate infused with chili pepper on your tongue and letting it melt so slowly and letting the chili build and build till your mouth is on FIRE.

This especially broke me: "Because he should have called and told me I was being an asshole. He--should have known he could do that."

Oh, JOHN. Oh, Rodney.

Thank you! *happy*

...I'm seriously boggling. I didn't think many would be all that interested in an AU this extreme.