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Title: Advanced Tautology
Author: esteefee
Pairing: John/Rodney
Categories: Post-series, First time, Truth serum
Words: 3,075
Warnings: none that I know of, let me know
Beta and contributor: em_kellesvig
Summary: "You're a great pal," John said muzzily. "Did I ever tell you how—mmph!"
Rodney stared at him, wide-eyed, over the hand he'd just smacked over John's mouth. "Not a word. Not a peep," Rodney said. "Let's get you back to Carson, hmm?"

A/N: for em_kellesvig who wanted fun and happy and goofy and teamy and John and Rodney. Best 2 out 6?


Advanced Tautology

by esteefee



There was something rotten in Plaxville. John drank half a cup of the supposedly non-alcoholic citrus punch, looked across the table to see Teyla glowing softly under the Plax harvest lanterns, her eyes bright as she spoke to Governor Lagner, and found himself saying to her, "God, you're gorgeous. Seriously, Teyla, have I ever told you how beautiful you are?"

Rodney dropped his spoon and stared at him.

John blinked a couple of times and looked into his cup, then put it down carefully. "Uh."

Teyla just gaped, for once caught wordless.

Ronon snorted a little, then turned to Lagner and said, "Thanks for the food. I think we better get going."

"Yes, thank you, Governor," Teyla said, recovering. "We will return again with the agreement signed by Director Woolsey as promised." She rose gracefully and bowed.

Rodney was already yanking John from his seat. "Come on, Colonel Blabs-a-lot," he said, sounding miffed. "No more punch for you."

"They said it wasn't booze," John defended himself weakly. Already he felt dizzier just standing up and had to lean on Rodney as they headed out the doorway. Good thing Rodney was strong enough to support him—strong and sturdy and always willing to put up with him, regardless of how much Rodney bitched and moaned about it. "You're a great pal," John said muzzily. "Did I ever tell you how—mmph!"

Rodney stared at him, wide-eyed, over the hand he'd just smacked over John's mouth. "Not a word. Not a peep," Rodney said. "Let's get you back to Carson, hmm?"

John nodded. He was just going to tell Rodney how much he meant to him—what was wrong with that? But Teyla and Ronon joined them a moment later, and they started walking back to the jumper.

:::

The walk wasn't that long, but John was still hungry since they'd left in the middle of that awesome dinner. He found himself craving a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich like he had when he was eleven and was in Boy Scouts.

"Colonel, please be quiet." Teyla squeezed his wrist.

But it was good to be outside. The night was awful pretty, the sky so close John could taste it; the stars were always scattershot anew across the heavens each time they stepped through the stargate.

"God, he would have to be a poetic drunk," Rodney said. "Thank God we're here."

John mourned a little. Rodney didn't like him very much right now; he was talking too much. This was why John kept his mouth shut around people—

"All right, that's enough." Rodney shoved him up the ramp into the jumper. "Ronon, Teyla—we can't take him back to Atlantis like this. He'd never forgive us."

"I agree," Teyla said.

"Let him sleep it off in the back," Ronon said. "We'll go up front."

Rodney snapped his fingers. "Brilliant. Ronon, do you have your iPod with you? That should keep him amused."

"Hey, I'm standing right here." John poked his own chest, then poked it again when he realized he couldn't feel it. Then he decided it was because he was wearing his tac vest, and so he thought he should take it off. He sat down on the bench and tried to do that for a while. A really long time. Tac vests were complicated, it turned out. Tricky to get out of. Eventually, he got it unbuckled and shrugged it off.

Then he sat there for a second. There was a reason why he'd done that. Oh, right.

He looked up, but there was no one to listen to him; everyone had gone up front and they'd shut the bulkhead doors. A second later, music started blasting out of the jumper's comm speakers. Something sweeping and classical with a lot of violins and horns. After a moment, John identified it as Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

He stopped poking his chest and sat back to listen.

:::

Rodney finished checking in with Carson—"Yes, a non-typical reaction—I didn't try it thanks to the citrus, but Teyla and Ronon were unaffected; no, no allergic effects; yes, we will monitor with extreme prejudice and report back."—then adjusted the HUD so they had a good view of Sheppard relaxing on the jumper's bench seat. "There. This way we can watch him; we won't have to hear a thing, but we can still make sure he's okay."

Teyla gave Rodney a slow nod.

"What? He might decide to, I don't know, dig up the C-4 and use it as Play-Doh or something."

She merely leaned over and patted his arm. "You are a good friend, Rodney. He will appreciate our efforts to respect his privacy."

"Yes. I really think so." Rodney already felt a shiver of secondhand embarrassment at what Sheppard had inadvertently revealed. At the same time, he felt the tiniest shred of regret at losing possible insights into Sheppard's mind—only the smallest regret, though, because the embarrassment superseded it, and his worry that afterward Sheppard would avoid them all like the plague.

Besides, hearing Sheppard's earnest comment about Teyla had pretty much thrown Rodney's hopes in a ditch as it was. No need to belabor the point.

Rodney arranged a check-in timer and then sat back with his laptop to lose himself in Spider Solitaire.

:::

The music cut off during a Justin Bieber song; John had never been so grateful in his entire damned life.

"Thank God," he said. "Ronon, I can't believe you listen to this crap—"

"Sheppard," Rodney's voice ran over him. "I've turned off the comm up here, so give us a thumbs up or thumbs down—are you feeling all right?"

Just to be an asshole, John gave one thumb up and one thumb down.

"What the hell does that mean? Scratch that—are you going to puke? Are you physically ill?"

John shook his head.

"Oh, my God. Are you bitching about the music selection?"

John nodded forcefully.

"Canadians everywhere are weeping. Moving on to the next track. Bang on the door if you feel sick. And there's water in the packs—think of hydrating, because I'm betting you're going to have a doozy of a headache in the morning."

"If anything's going to give me a hangover, it's an hour of this teeny-bop disco crap," John yelled at the bulkhead.

And then the speakers kicked in with some weird-ass guy singing in a droning croon while playing a banjo or something, and then sort of whistling at the same time he was singing. It was kind of awesome, and it made John tap his toes.

When Johnny Cash broke in a track later with "God's Gonna Cut You Down," John started grinning and jumped to his feet.

:::

"Oh, dear God." Rodney winced at the HUD.

"What is he—?"

"Cool," Ronon said. "Can we keep this? Play it again later?"

"No, we certainly cannot." But Rodney couldn't stop staring, because John was, well—not to put too fine a point on it—but some might call that—

"Is this how your people dance?" Teyla asked dubiously, and then John's legs—and he, with his hips— "Mother of all Ancestors," Teyla said.

It was so very wrong; and yet somehow—in an indefinable, slinky-hipped, lip biting, unhinged kind of way—it was so very right. Rodney squirmed in his chair and hastily cut the video feed, but behind his eyelids he could still see it in glorious Technicolor.

Ronon draped himself over the back of the pilot seat and started giggling.

:::

"Bagpipes? Seriously?" Rodney turned down the volume in the cabin and gave Ronon a glare.

Ronon scowled. "I like it—Beckett gave it to me."

"It's very...unusual," Teyla said, all tact.

Rodney flicked the HUD back on to find John had curled up on the bench and was fast asleep.

"Well, would you look at that?" Apparently bagpipes made the perfect lullaby for a hyped-up, drugged-out lieutenant colonel. "Who knew?"

"How long has it been, Rodney?"

Rodney checked his laptop. "Four hours. It's possible he's past the worst of it. We'll give him another hour and then check."

Over the next hour, they got through Cosmo Jarvis, Steel Pulse, The Sex Pistols, Tom Zé, Tony Bennett, Led Zeppelin, Lionel Richie, Zap Mama, Nirvana, and Chopin's Etude no. 3 in E major, "Tristesse." Rodney was starting to wonder if Ronon's incredibly eclectic taste in music was a sign of a shattered psyche; or if, perhaps, he was searching for pieces of his Satedan heritage and finding small echoes of it here and there.

Whatever the reason, he seemed to be enjoying it all as much as John was. It had kept John from bouncing off the walls of the jumper or banging on the bulkhead doors to yell out his innermost thoughts and feelings, so that, at least, was something.

Finally, Rodney clicked off the music, turned on the intercom and, with bated breath, asked John how he was doing.

"Great," John said, his voice a gravel pit of irony. "Just awesome."

Rodney turned to Teyla and Ronon and grinned.

"Now that's Sheppard," Ronon said, and Rodney spun in his chair and started up the jumper.

:::

John felt like four hundred miles of bad road. When Carson came at him with the penlight, he bared his teeth until Beckett backed down.

"Pretty sure if you use that thing on me, you'll be cleaning my brains off your walls, Doc."

"Yes, well—I suppose we'll make do with the blood test, Colonel. But it sounds like the ATA gene has possibly cursed you again, since Rodney didn't drink, and Teyla and Ronon weren't at all affected."

John closed his eyes with a weak nod and held out his arm, accepting with small grace the poking and the blood pressure test—anything to get some meds for this god-awful headache.

The whole evening was starting to come back to him, memories slotting into his fragile state of mind like a plane with a busted prop coming in for a rough landing on a bumpy runway.

He remembered telling Teyla she was beautiful. It was the clearest memory he had right before everything went hazy. He might also have told Rodney about his old scoutmaster, who always smelled like Ben-Gay and gave John a merit badge for repairing his radio with a paper clip.

Jeez. John had actually bragged about that.

He also remembered, though, that Ronon had freely given up his precious iPod—he loved that thing more than his gun, practically—so Rodney could blast music at him. And on the walk back to the jumper, Teyla had wrapped her fingers around John's wrist and told him to be quiet, squeezing him every time he started to talk. That had worked for a while.

Then his entire team had stayed behind, babysitting him so he didn't go babbling to all of Atlantis; God knew what would have come out of his mouth.

As more and more memories started to filter in, John realized he owed them all, big time. Also, a little bit of bribery would go a long way toward helping them "forget" what had happened.

:::

John had traded his short board a while back with Saito for his vintage Seki fighting knife. The metal was so fine and tempered it was blue, but the lines of it were curved and elegant—it was perfect for Teyla, and John knew she was less than happy with her KA-BAR, her Athosian knives having long been lost during capture. John had been meaning to give it to her on her naming day, but this was an emergency.

She answered his knock almost immediately, took a look into his sore eyes, and bit her lip.

"John. You look like you could use some more rest."

He shuffled his feet then leaned against the doorframe. "Yeah. Soon. Just—I wanted to give you this. And say thanks. You know, for all you guys did." He passed her the sheath, hastily wrapped in a finished Sudoku puzzle and tied with an old bootlace. It wasn't going to earn any brownie points for presentation, but he hoped the prize inside would make her overlook that.

"I should think your compliment last night was gift enough," she said, raising an eyebrow.

"Aw, Teyla..."

She untied his messy bow, a saucy grin teasing the edges of her lips. Her smile faded as she saw the hilt of the knife.

"Oh, John..." She pulled the knife from the sheath and hefted it, then switched her grip to overhand, an astonished smile lighting her face. "So light!" She shoved the empty sheath and wrapper at him and ran her fingers over the smooth blue metal, carefully touching the edge. "I've never seen a better blade."

"Good." John cleared his throat. "It's good, then?"

"It's wonderful. So balanced, so beautiful, so deadly."

John nodded. Exactly. He didn't say it, but she must have read his thought, because her smile trembled a little. She bowed her head, and he responded automatically, careful of the blade in her hand; as always, careful for this blade of a woman—balanced, beautiful, deadly.

:::

Ronon took one look at him and started laughing.

"What?" John scowled. "Is this about the Bieber?" He just knew Ronon was having him on. "That was a rotten trick. Maybe you don't deserve these." He held up the six-pack of Guinness Extra Stout that gleamed so dark in its bottles John could practically taste the silty thick of it. In fact, considering the way Ronon was still laughing, maybe John would just take his ale and head on over to Rodney's.

"Seriously, what is wrong with you?"

Ronon just slapped his leg and then did something with his hips, a little shimmying motion that made John feel uneasy for some reason.

"I'll just...leave these here," John said, setting the six-pack inside by the door. "And, you know, thanks."

Ronon's laughter heated John's ears all the down the hallway toward Rodney's. There were still some memories that hadn't quite found their way back; maybe it was better that way.

One in particular, though, had sunk in vividly—it was the expression on Rodney's face when the whole mess had started. Teyla had been dumbstruck at the compliment John had given her, but Rodney had looked...weird. Upset. Mad, even.

John had tried to fix it later, but Rodney hadn't wanted him talking. Not that John wasn't grateful—God, so grateful that Rodney knew him, that Rodney cared enough to protect him from saying shit he'd regret later. It meant everything that Rodney understood how important it was to John he had that control.

He couldn't come up with a gift good enough to thank Rodney for that, so he'd come up with something else; the only question was whether Rodney wanted to accept it.

:::

"You look like crap," Rodney said, letting him in. "You've got the eyes of a weasel with hay fever. After a three night bender."

"Gee, thanks, Rodney." John wandered inside and leaned against Rodney's dresser. Rodney gave him a wary look and went back to his computer.

"What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you'd be sleeping it off."

The thing about that was, John had slept it off already, and the words he'd lined up in his head were no nearer to getting through his throat and out of his mouth than before this whole fiasco. So he just shrugged noncommittally and said, "Already slept in the jumper. Feeling antsy."

"Hmm. Teyla radioed me to say you'd stopped by." Rodney raised a cool eyebrow at him and then frowned down at his laptop even more fiercely.

Oh, crap. "She tell you I gave her and Ronon thank you presents for putting up with me last night?"

Some tension seemed to ease out of Rodney's shoulders. "She didn't mention Ronon, no." Rodney spun in his chair. "So? Where's mine?"

John winced and raised his empty hands as Rodney gave him an exaggerated look-over.

"Aw, no, don't look like that," John said when Rodney scowled.

"Don't look like what? Like I didn't merit even a lousy, used paperback?" Rodney stood up and crossed his arms. "Teyla said you gave her some fantastic antique knife, but then I suppose she's...she's—" Rodney cut himself off, his throat moving.

"See, that's just it!" John pointed. "Teyla's easy! No, not—" John slapped his hand over his eyes. "Listen, okay? Just listen. I had this all worked out and now I'm messing it up."

Rodney just stared at him, wide-eyed and quiet for once.

John took a breath and searched for even a little of the freedom he'd had the night before, but it was gone, all gone, the words sucked straight from his head.

He tried anyway. "Yeah, of course Teyla's beautiful, she's pretty gorgeous, right? But you, you're just really...you, Rodney. And that's better." John cleared his throat. "Way better."

"Better? I'm—really?" Rodney's lips turned up, his face turning pink.

"Yeah. The best." John took a step closer. "I couldn't think of what to give you except that. You wouldn't let me say it last night when I tried." And John could see Rodney got it—of course, he did. The guy wasn't an idiot.

Rodney looked down. "Well, I couldn't let you keep blithering on like a fur-brained moron." His flush grew even deeper. "Of course, I had no idea what you were trying to tell me at the time."

He looked up, and John wasn't sure who moved first, but all of a sudden they were close, kissing close, their lips meeting clumsily until John cupped Rodney's face in his palms to steady them both. Then he slipped the tip of his tongue past Rodney's lips, and Rodney responded, pulling him in. John could feel his face flushing, his ears getting hot, and he was really glad he wasn't on the Plax punch at this moment or he'd be babbling about how long he'd wanted to do this, how crazy Rodney's mouth made him.

"Do you have any idea," Rodney said, pulling away, "how very badly I've wanted to do this?" He smacked the back of John's head. "That's for making me wait, you idiot."

"Ow! The hell? Why didn't you say something?"

"Why didn't you?"

"I just did!"

"Oh. Well, then—what are we waiting for?" Rodney said, and dragged John off to bed.

John might have done a little babbling later but if so, it wasn't in words.


End.
A/N: Tuvan Throat Singing So awesome.

seki_al_mar



Comments

( 51 comments — Leave a comment )
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em_kellesvig
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:56 am (UTC)
Six for six! So much fun and goodness here, cupcake! Team taking care of John, John being goofy and true, Ronon blasting music like a weapon, Teyla as beautiful as a blade, and Rodney -- oh, Rodney! You and John just go in circles. Love it!
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:10 am (UTC)
We thank you for your support! But I'm sure it would be a pretty lame story without you, lambchop. :)
selenic76
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)
This was just all kinds of wonderful :) I love your use of language, beautiful descriptions and comparisons, like Teyla and the knife, and what John says about seeing the stars after stepping through a new gate. You write so well, the story jus flows.

I really loved the part about Ronon and his selection of music, and how it was used :D Nnd most of all, that one bit where Rodney wonders if something about the music reminds Ronon of Sateda. Things like that, no matter how small they are, always give more depth to a story and the characters. And I love how they are a team, always there for each other when needed, even if they might make fun of each other later on :)

The fic is so funny, witty, and sweet, and so very much like John and Rodney, ♥! ^_^
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:33 am (UTC)
awww, jeez. thank you, sweetness! ♥ ♥ ♥ they are the best team. \o/
altyronsmaker
Aug. 10th, 2013 10:20 am (UTC)
That was lovely! And John, Dancing? I had in my mind a picture of young Forest Gump. Yes, Young Forest Gump dancing while Elvis played the guitar in his room...This is how John' dances when the music moves him ugly.

I'm not sure if I'm too fond of Rodney's thought that eclectic taste in music is demonstrative of a shattered psyche, though... My music collection is just as far flung as Ronon's. Darn you. hahah.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
Rodney just doesn't understand us. Pedestrian. :DDD

(or John's dancing, apparently. :) Doesn't he know John learned it on P8M-699, commonly known as Ork?)

Edited at 2013-08-10 05:59 pm (UTC)
mific
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:26 am (UTC)
This was great! I do love John when he's drunk/drugged and unusually loose-lipped, but of course for him it's a nightmare.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)
thanks, me too. I thought it would be fun to see what would happen if he didn't give away the state's secret. :D
melagan
Aug. 10th, 2013 12:38 pm (UTC)
This is the best 'teamy' kind of story. Everyone working together to protect the most vulnerable one of their team, in this case John. Dear blabbermouth John who is utterly adorkable.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
\o/ team! and I do love John under the influence, the poor schlub. thanks, mel! <3 <3 <3
jimpage363
Aug. 10th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC)
Yay, team!
I loved how Rodney easily said what John was too frightened to say aloud, even if he was already in Rodney's arms. It nicely highlighted John's problem and didn't make it go away magically. You just got him what he wanted in spite of himself.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC)
to be fair, John said it first in his broken way. poor schlub; I have his same stutter. :D

so glad you enjoyed! <3
syble4
Aug. 10th, 2013 03:14 pm (UTC)
John on truth serum is always a blast. Good thing for him his team was looking out for him. Well, except Ronon. I just know he managed to keep a copy of John 'dancing'. LOL
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:32 pm (UTC)
hee. you know Ronon added it to his mix and plays it when he's feeling down. <3
panisdead
Aug. 10th, 2013 03:15 pm (UTC)
I laughed out loud at Teyla's reaction to John's dancing. Good lord.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
heeeee! I think he was doing the broken robot. MY EYES.
rhuad
Aug. 10th, 2013 05:06 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
\o/ thank you!
goddess47
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
Yummy goodness... team and alien food and babbling John!

Yes, John's team would take good care of him... especially Rodney!

Nice!
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
they are the bestest team...especially Rodney. <3
enigmaticblues
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, boys. I love how well Rodney knows John, and I love the team here. So good!
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
<3 thank you! yis, Rodney knows him so well!
melodysparks
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully goofy. Loved it.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
thank you kindly! <3
pionie
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
Lovely story. "mother of all Ancestors!" - what a great reaction.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
heh, thanks. I had to put on my Athosian translator for that one. :D
mab_browne
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
This made me grin all the way through and the line his voice a gravel pit of irony seemed particularly appropriate to both the story and poor John.
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
hee. I liked that one. thanks! :)
wanted_a_pony
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
Everyone else already said what I was going to, but better: loving the poetry that's locked up in John, & Teyla = gorgeous & balanced & deadly, & Rodney wondering if Ronon finds echoes of lost Sateda in music, & "Mother of all Ancestors" (dang, I really want to know what John was doing with his hips that could shock Teyla!), & how they all work together smoothly to protect John & his dignity no matter how much each of them individually would love to know just a little more about him. ~ si-i-igh ~ Wonderful fic!

Thanks very much for writing & sharing this with us. <3 <3
esteefee
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I'm wishing Ronon had a copy of that so we could *all* see what made Teyla say that. *sigh* Lost for all time, alas. :))

Thanks, my pony! <3
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