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Title: Satedan Dating Tips
Author: esteefee
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: R
Categories: Dating, ER
Words: 1,784
Warnings: none, don't think; lemme know.
Beta: em_kellesvig
Summary: Rodney tries to figure out this whole thing with John.
A/N: for the Week #8: Rare prompt and the SGA...10 Years Later Fest. Just
two days left until the Anniversary!

Satedan Dating Tips

by esteefee

This happens once in a blue moon—though Rodney detests the phrase—but the occasion is as rare as, well, a day off in Pegasus, a day where his radio doesn't squawk or something doesn't go critical, a single moment where his brain isn't layered eight levels deep in thought, each vying for importance with another.

It takes Colonel Samantha Carter visiting with that Mitchell guy, and Dr. Jackson wanting to look up something absolutely imperative but completely arcane in the Ancient database, and John's firm grip on his arm dragging him out of the lab and into the jumper bay—"I'm sure they've got things under control here, Rodney. What do you say?"—for Rodney to feel like things were stable, if not, well, a little too crowded on Atlantis at this time, for him to agree to go.

So, he accepts the somewhat forceful invitation and climbs on board and they set out for, well, he isn't really sure where. John planned the trip with input from Ronon, not giving Rodney any real indication.

"It was his idea," John says cryptically, and once through the Gate, Rodney understands, because this is Sateda, unmistakable in its ruined glory.

John doesn't linger but sets a course past what once was a great city. "They had landspeeders, you know?" he says, envy under the wistful sadness. "Ronon recognized 'em from Star Wars. He used to come out here."

Here is a cracked playa leading to a mountain range of crooked red and orange rock formations; there's what obviously used to be a road leading up to the top, crumbling now with age, and Rodney looks down at it and thinks of Ronon speeding up it recklessly at night with his friends, young and carefree and stupid, and wants to deny the awful ache in his chest.

His life was much easier when he wouldn't have even noticed these kinds of things.

But John points at something and gives a low chuckle—when Rodney follows his finger, he sees what surely must be Satedan graffiti painted on a smooth support wall, and he wonders what vulgarities have been immortalized—wishes he could take a picture and ask Ronon.

Something flickers on the HUD, and it freezes with a perfect image of the graffiti wall.

"Did you do that?" John asks, sounding amused.

Rodney nods, a little amazed. "I guess so."

"Cool. We'll ask him what it means."

Rodney shouldn't be surprised John is on his wavelength and understands Rodney's intent without asking. It's been that way almost from the start between them. Rodney's never had a friend like that before. Maybe that's why it took him so long to risk it, to try for the statistically impossible.

"This will sound absurd—and it is, because you are the most ridiculous, absurd person, but I swear the first time it happened, the first time I realized what you meant to me, I thought I was having a myocardial infarction, I wanted you so badly. You do that to me, all the time now—and seriously, Colonel, I think you should take some responsibility, because I don't think I could stand it if you didn't—"

But then John had pushed him against his desk and kissed him, so it was all right. His heart didn't stop, though it was a near miss.

Now this thing between them continues to happen occasionally, but not with enough regularity that Rodney has grown accustomed to his heart's strange beat, the quiver in his limbs, the odd burning tingle that rushes through him and makes his brain lose acuity.

Rodney would like to map the events, put them in a spreadsheet to calculate an algorithm for their occurrence as with other cosmic phenomena, but he seems to have lost his ability to record data as well. He tries to remember when—how—what the triggers are, or perhaps even the sequence of events, but those details slip away from him almost at the moment they occur. It's as if his analytical mind switches off—an occurrence of almost statistically insignificant rarity—and he becomes merely a sensor.

For John's hands, fingertips pressing, stretching over Rodney's ribs, sweeping and ever moving to thumb his nipples, stroke his inner thighs, cup his balls, stroke his cock, as though Rodney is John's favorite jumper flying under his fingertips.

And the kissing. Rodney found it awkward at first, never having kissed his male dalliances in the past, and he wasn't prepared for the strictly carnal plunge of John's tongue into his mouth again and again, echoed by the thrust of his cock against Rodney's thigh, and then later, inside him, pushing in while Rodney clutched at John's back and uttered helplessly mindless noises that ever after he would be unable to un-hear.

It is all so terribly confusing and disorienting and it just keeps happening in between the chaos and the fire drills and the catastrophes so Rodney has never really had a chance to understand it all.

This is the first time, in fact, he's had a moment to think since the whole thing started.

He looks over at Sheppard, who seems to be contemplating the deepening colors of gold and red the sunset washes over the mountainside. They rise up over a steep edge and hover just over a dusty plateau, broad and flat and ringed by the same orange and red rock formations, striped like rocket pops. It really is an awe-inspiring sight, and it can't be mere chance that has brought them here.

"This was Ronon's idea?" Rodney asks as John sets them down on the smooth rock.

"Yeah." John shrugs, and then shakes his head. "Well, I asked him. You know. For a good spot."

"A good spot for what?"

John shoots him a wary look and then shuts down the pods and swivels out of his chair, heading toward the back of the jumper. But then he mutters something under the whine of the rear hatch opening that Rodney's pretty sure sounds like, "Big brain, my ass."

"What was that?"

"I said grab the bags. There should be two of them behind the pilot's seat."

"Right." Rodney sees them—standard-issue sleeping bags. "What?" He grabs the bags anyway and sees John pick up what is undeniably a cooler and an umbrella, and Rodney starts smiling helplessly as he follows John down the ramp and out onto what appears to be a sandstone mesa overlooking the canyon.

The vista is breathtaking.

The brilliant orange, red, and yellow rocks form jagged peaks before them, looking like mini fortresses protecting a non-existent castle. Formation after formation, they span the ridges that rise up to a towering mesa far above them. Below is only a canyon filled with dense, green forest.

"Wow," Rodney says. "That really is something, isn't it?"

"Yup." John sounds very satisfied. "Worth it, coming out here?"

"Well, I'm not sure. Did you pack lunch, or do my eyes deceive?"

"Heh. Nothing gets past you, McKay." John stakes the umbrella with one vicious thrust and then opens it. Rodney gets busy with the bags, unrolling them to make some comfortable seating. He's not too proud to say he's a little old to be scrabbling around in the dirt, and that sandstone looks uncomfortably hard.

By the time he's got their bedding rolled out, John has set out a very nice feast for them: begort meat pie, which Rodney knows for a fact has real potatoes in it; coleslaw, though Rodney can't vouch for the cabbage; fresh tilsa rolls; and, of course, a six pack of Molson.

"Nice spread," Rodney says. "Now, what are you after? New upgrades for the jumpers? Or is this about Ronon's blaster again? I already told you, Sheppard, I simply don't have the time to reverse engineer something just to accommodate your excessive—"

"Nothing. Nothing, okay?" John said, interrupting him. "Jeez. Forget it. Eat your pie before it gets cold."

Now John is pouting, which doesn't bode well for sleeping bag sex, which is unfortunate because there is nothing Rodney loves better than sex under the stars.

"I'm sorry, all right? You know I'm bad with people—"

"So get better at it," John says. "You got better at shooting, didn't you?"

Rodney stares at him, stunned. Never, never in all the years they've known each other has Sheppard ever outright told Rodney to change. Cajoled him, yes, made him want to do things he didn't dream he was capable of doing, of course, all the time, but this—

"You want me to change," Rodney says flatly.

"No, that's not what I'm saying. I just—Christ, Rodney. Have I ever bribed you into doing something for me? I mean, other than trading blowjobs."

"No." That was certainly true.

"Then why did you think I wanted something?"

"Because you're being nice to me?"

John frowns at him.

Okay. That certainly came out wrong.

"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," Rodney says hastily.

"Right. I get it," John says. "And the answer is, because Ronon gave me dating advice, which is a joke. Neither of us knows anything about dating. Last time I dated seriously was before I got married. Last time he dated, the Wraith were invading, so..."

"I get the picture." Rodney feels a pang, and grabs his pie and starts eating. "So," he says around a mouthful, "we're dating, huh?" Well, that would certainly seem to solve the mystery that was them. The excruciatingly hot sex, the sensory overload, the puzzlingly intimate kissing.

Oh, dear, he'd said that out loud.

But John grins, suddenly, brightly. "Yeah. I guess it does."

Rodney considers that. "And this dating—it includes picnics in exotic locations, and sex under the stars, and such?"

"Yup." John takes a sip of his beer.

"So, I'm your what? Your boyfriend?"

John squirms a little. "You're my guy. You know, my go-to guy."

"Hmm. Acceptable, I suppose." Rodney can't contain his grin, though, and John leans over and hooks him in for a kiss. John's lips taste like beer, and a little bit like... "Hey, you taste like chocolate! Where is this chocolate, and why don't I have some?"

"Like I said—nothing gets past you, McKay." John reaches into the cooler and pulls out a box of Lindt chocolates. Rodney grabs the box and hauls it over to his side of the sleeping bags.

"These are staying over here with me."

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

Just as they finish their meals, the sun sets over the orange rocks, painting them bright gold.

"I guess Ronon was right after all," John says happily, tucking his arm around Rodney's shoulders.

Rodney has to agree.



[Image credit: http://www.mrwallpaper.com/wallpapers/bryce-canyon-national-park.jpg]

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of those places on Earth that defies the eye. It really does belongs on another planet.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 14th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC)
I love the visual richness of this story, how your writing is so spare but every detail comes through so clearly.

Oh, Ronon! Yeah, it was probably just an offhand remark -- "Hey, I know a place." -- but he gave John and Rodney the gift of place from his past, with a wealth of memories, where they could make new ones.

And John just straight out telling Rodney to learn better social skills because they're just as important as shooting and science. (Jennifer was right, you know.)

Because dating is important, as important as sex, as important as friendship. AS important as chocolate.

Brilliantly done.
Jul. 14th, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
oh, wow, thank you, buddy.

yeah, Ronon opened his heart here, offering them a gift. and it worked! <3 <3 <3

AS important as chocolate.

Jul. 15th, 2014 07:50 am (UTC)
I have such happy memories of visiting Bryce Canyon & now I can think of the boys being there, too (sort of. *g*)
This is lovely!
Jul. 15th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)
I do, too! What a great thought. <3 Thanks, bluespirit.
Jul. 15th, 2014 10:35 am (UTC)
Lovely! :)

Edited at 2014-07-15 10:35 am (UTC)
Jul. 15th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! <3
Jul. 17th, 2014 02:11 am (UTC)
Go-to guy!! They are a little bit ridiculous and adorable, and this is a really lovely thing :D
Jul. 17th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC)
They are so ridiculous, Jenns! <3 Thankee.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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