John and Rodney arrive on P3C-273
-- Aglaia, as the database had called it -- to an uninhabited
city, exactly as the MALP had shown them. The place seems safe
enough, just empty streets and empty houses, still with that
lived-in feeling, but devoid of life. Not even any animals roaming
the streets. Based on the MALP's intel they had agreed that
it was better to step through the event horizon one person at
a time. The wormhole fails before Ronon and Teyla can walk through.
Thirty degrees Celsius. The sun blazes, making
Rodney complain about the heat and John quip that they'll be
back on Atlantis for a cold shower soon enough. There may have
been a wink. Nothing John does when they’re not alone.
Rodney doesn't remember, because shortly after, he finds that
all the control crystals from the gate have been removed. No
Atlantis dials back to check-in two hours later,
and Rodney almost damages his vocal chords yelling at Ronon
and Teyla to stay where they are. The stargate destabilizes
and cuts out over and over again, making it too damn dangerous
to send anyone through. Thirty-five degrees Celsius and rising.
John strips off his tac-vest. With no nearby stargates and the
planet far out of jumper-distance, Elizabeth agrees to send
the Daedalus, but it's returning from Earth, halfway
between galaxies, and will take weeks to reach them.
Perfect time for R&R, John says during the
night that doesn't cool down, kissing Rodney, hands splaying
over his damp back, hard against his hip. Rodney shifts uncomfortably
at the feel of warm hands on his skin. "Yes, perfect,"
he repeats. John's long, lean body next to his is more than
enticing -- they haven't had time to themselves in ages -- but
it's so damned hot. A fountain nearby gurgles and whispers.
Rodney rises and dips his arms in the basin that is too shallow
and small to even dunk his head into it. He heaves an exasperated
sigh. Even the water is warm. John doesn't follow.
Day two. Interference begins to disrupt communication
with Atlantis. Elizabeth sends water and food. Forty degrees
Celsius and rising. Rodney wishes she'd sent ice.
Day three. Elizabeth is on the radio with Doctors
Schwarz and Liacescou, their voices uncomfortably hacked to
pieces by interference from solar winds gusting around the planet.
They have checked the Ancient database again -- belatedly --
and discovered that Aglaia’s extreme axle tilt and eccentric
orbit are responsible for the rising temperatures and the unstable
wormhole connection. At its closest approach to the primary,
nothing human will be able to survive on the surface. The native
fauna dig deep burrows and hibernate through the 'summers' that
occur once every eight hundred years, while the people of Aglaia
descend deep underground into caves, where they go into their
own species-specific hibernation until the planet cools again.
Seven Ancients died of heat stroke it turns out, trapped just
as John and Rodney are, before the rest of their people were
Rodney flings his soaked and reeking shirt at
a nearby wall. It leaves a damp stain. Forty-five degrees Celsius
Day five. Inside the room, a solar-driven ceiling
fan stirs the hot air lackadaisically, doing nothing to help.
The tiny refrigeration unit they found in what seemed to be
a kitchen kicks on again and the fan slows drastically. Not
enough energy from the small solar cell to use both items at
a time, but they can’t afford to turn one of them off.
"That'll burn out the motor pretty soon,”
Rodney had said earlier, watching the blades turn.
John just groaned and doused his head in water
again. The pumps run from the same solar cells as the fan, but
the pressure in the water lines is dropping steadily. The wells
are going dry. Rodney would shut off the line that feeds the
little bird fountain, but the only shut off he finds kills the
whole system. They still have the drinking water sent from Atlantis,
so he doesn't tell John to ration the local stuff. It will be
gone soon enough.
Day six. Communication with Atlantis breaks
down completely and there is nothing Rodney can do. His laptop
has succumbed to the heat. Forty-seven degrees Celsius and rising.
They find suitable clothing in the house they have set up camp
in -- pale linen, momentarily cool against their skin and blissfully
looser than their BDUs. Sweat rolls down Rodney's body, mingling
with the dust that sticks to his skin; dust caught on the wind
swirling along the empty streets and between the houses, with
their dried up gardens and barred doors. Dust that catches at
the back of his throat, dry as the riverbed they glimpse in
the distance. He hates the oppressive heat. Hates the continuous
sweat, the threat of dehydration. Hates the lack of cold showers.
When John tries to kiss him again that night,
he holds up a hand weakly, head pounding. "Too damn hot
for touching." John lies back down, shifts away from Rodney.
Neither of them sleeps that night. They don't talk in the morning.
Rodney feels even worse than before.
John is gone most of day seven. Only returns
in the evening and brings Rodney a glass of mercifully cool
water like a peace offering, along with a smile. It hurts the
back of Rodney's throat when he swallows greedily. It helps.
Forty-eight degrees Celsius and rising. Any movement makes him
nauseous, dizzy and light headed. Rodney’s just glad that
the migraine from hell he had during the first three days hasn’t
returned today. He’s running out of Tylenol. His brain
is about to dribble out his ears. He doesn't ask where John
Day eight, the heat is so oppressive neither
John nor Rodney can bring themselves to move. The sun is nearly
below the horizon and the stars are just becoming visible, but
even breathing is an effort. They've stripped down to their
pants, stumbling out of the shadowed interior of the house they've
appropriated as their own, to the little courtyard in back.
The house is retaining the day’s heat, making even the
furnace outside seem bearable. Staring up at alien constellations,
they're lying on the faintly cooler stones of the patio, sticky
with sweat and exhausted by the endless day. The closer the
planet drifts to the sun, the longer the days appear to get.
Sleep is impossible; when Rodney tries it's restless, plagued
by strange, sensuous, heat-induced dreams, and he wakes feeling
tired and frustrated, fresh sweat on his skin and his throat
"It can't be this hot here all the time,"
"People get used to anything," John
says, sounding nearly asleep when Rodney knows he's not.
"Not this." Rodney turns his head
far enough to see John's profile. "I can't even touch you."
John opens one eye and squints at Rodney. "You
said you hated touching when it's hot."
"I do." God, did he ever. "The
very last thing I want when I'm sticky and sweaty and so hot
I’m sick is having someone touch me.”
"You made that pretty clear a few days
back," John mutters, closing his eyes again, but Rodney
can hear the undercurrent of hurt mingled in John's voice. "So,
what's the big deal now?"
"It's been a week."
"Noticed that, huh?" John stretches
and groans when a vertebra pops.
Rodney watches the long line of John's body:
the sweat-slick skin, his pants riding low on his hips, hair
matted by perspiration, nipples dark brown and flat against
his chest. Rodney swallows. He remembers the last time his hands
moved over John's body, the way it shivered under his fingertips.
Remembers how he looked, naked under the shower that was too
warm even when turned on cold, head back, eyes closed.
The tip of John's tongue darts out, licking
stray drops of perspiration off his lower lip. Something clenches
in Rodney's stomach. It's been a week in this oppressive heat.
A week of sweat and misery, with no movement in the air, no
rain, no way to cool down even for a second. And it will just
get worse, they both know. No touching while he had John on
display every single day. When Rodney sleeps, he has dream-flashes
of John stretched out over him, moving slow and deliberate,
rubbing his cock against Rodney's, of John under him, eyes wide
as Rodney moves inside him, of John's kisses and of John's hands
on him and in him and every single time he wakes up, he is aroused
as hell and too sweaty and too damn hot to even touch himself,
much less have John touch him.
"I hate this."
"Just one more week, Rodney."
Rodney thinks of another week of those dreams
taunting him without being able to bear touching John and groans.
"I'm not going to survive."
John's mouth twitches into a wry smile. "I
bet you were a pain in the neck on summer vacations."
"I don't mean the heat."
The smile slips from John's lips and he opens
his eyes again. "What do you mean, then?"
Rodney closes his eyes to escape John's gaze
and rolls onto his back again, arms spread at his sides, just
far enough to be close to John, but not touching him. It hurts,
but he really can't --
He keeps his eyes closed, just lets the words
rush out: "I mean that I would give up half a year’s
supply of coffee to have ice-cubes so I could rub you down and
finally touch you. I want to have a cool summer rain and fuck
you right out here on the patio while the rain washes the dust
and the sweat off. I want to rub up against you and feel you
clench around me." His breathing comes faster, despair
creeping into his voice that he can't keep even anymore. "I
want a walk-in freezer so I can kiss you and feel your body
all along mine, skin on skin without the sweat and the damn
heat making me dizzy. This planet is killing me, and the thought
of having to stay here another week is enough to have me crawling
out of my skin. I can't abide touch in this weather, and yet
every night I dream--" He clamps his mouth shut, just pushes
a frustrated huff through his teeth.
John doesn't answer, and Rodney knows that he
thinks it's stupid. John has spent much more time in hot climates,
after all. The heat makes Rodney sleepy again, thoughts moving
sluggishly and erratic. John had been hiding the hurt over Rodney's
rejection well, but the fact that he hadn't tried so much as
touch a finger to Rodney's tells him enough. It's his own damn
fault that he's suffering from a bad case of blue balls. Rodney
knows John's touch deprived, and yet he can't make himself overcome
the disgust and nausea that is scorching heat, sweat and touch
combined. He really wants those ice-cubes. He could take one
between his teeth and slide it over John's chest, lower over
that trail of dark hair, down to the jut of his hips.
Something cold on his cheek startles him out
of the frustrating fantasy and he blinks his eyes open.
John is kneeling next to him, his face unreadable.
In his left hand, he has one of the hand-blown, dark-blue glasses
they found in the house. Condensation moistens the outside.
In his other hand, there is one of the long, richly ornamented,
Asian-looking artist’s brushes the house's inhabitant
left behind. The white hairs forming the tip glisten with moisture.
Something playful yet determined flashes over
John's face. "Let me try something," he murmurs, eyes
hot and curious. John bites his lower lip in concentration;
dipping the brush into the glass. He brings it out, a drop of
water hanging precariously on the tip, and looks speculatively
over Rodney's body.
"Close your eyes," John says, and
Rodney shivers despite the heat. He searches John's face, but
can't read him at all. "Do it," John repeats, voice
low and rough.
So Rodney does. Feels his body flush, skin tight
with the thrill of anticipation. Fresh sweat breaks out along
his chest and arms. Damn.
For long moments, nothing happens. Rodney can
hear John breathing; can hear the musical play of water in the
small backyard fountain, the song of a nocturnal bird -- sweet
and aching. Can feel the weight of sultry air pressing in around
him. John's testing his patience, and Rodney would hate him
if this weren’t turning him on so intensely.
"I'll just go to sleep, then," he
remarks, goading John.
He imagines the way John's lips reveal his teeth
for a broad grin. Hears it in his voice. "Trust me, you
won't." The words are light, teasing, but the undercurrent
Rodney swallows and shifts uncomfortably on
the limestone floor.
Seconds pass. Minutes. Maybe hours. John takes
When the touch finally comes, it's a shock to
Rodney's heightened senses. Cold, soft, slick. Under
his eyes. Brush-stroke, delicate. Over his nose. Brush-stroke,
tickling, John's musky scent. Around his lips. Brush-stroke,
sweeping, shaping, teasing. He can't help but catch a droplet
that runs off the brush with his tongue.
The bird is closer now, its song the harmony
to the symbols John is painting onto him.
The brush continues caressing his face, dipped
in water time and time again, leaving behind wet trails on Rodney's
skin until he believes he can make out patterns -- but never
completely, not when John's breath fans his cheeks, air cooling
the tracery of his brush work.
They're good together, at ease and relaxed and
just as they were before there had been sex involved. But for
all that Rodney enjoys it hard and rough, he admits freely now
that he never would have thought that sex with a man would be
this … gentle. Slow. Then again, his brain submits helpfully,
this isn’t sex with just any man. It's with John. This,
now, this is new; usually when they have sex, it's frantic and
fast and immediate, all about need and yes and right
now. This is teasing and slow, and the sweeping brush strokes
may drive him insane. But for all this is different, the point
is -- it's John. Not just any man. John. And he really should
learn to stop being surprised by John Sheppard.
The brush leaves his face and Rodney finds himself
fighting a whimper. The touch of the brush had been both a sweet
relief and torture; its loss is almost painful.
To stop himself from opening his eyes, Rodney
tries to concentrate on the silver tinkle of the fountain, on
the rhythm of his heartbeat, on the texture of the stone beneath
his bare back and under his palms. He scrapes his nails along
the rough surface, making his fingertips tingle.
"Keep them closed," John encourages,
and the sound of his voice is like smooth red wine.
Rodney wants to kiss the words away to find
out if they taste the way they sound, but knows he can't summon
the energy, lethargy and John's request prohibiting any movement.
His fingers claw at the limestone again, breathing,
anticipating John's next move --
And almost arches off the ground when John pours
a trickle of the ice-cold water along his jaw. It runs down
his neck, part of it dribbling along his shoulder blades to
the ground, some pooling in the hollow of his clavicle. His
cock is achingly hard, pressing insistently against the light
linen of his pants. Rodney has to fight to settle his hips back
against the floor when he wants nothing more than to rip the
damn pants off and.... He struggles to draw in shallow gasps,
heat and arousal mingling. If it weren't for the temperature,
The brush is back and Rodney hisses at the unexpected
contact. John guides the brush lightly, using the water pooled
in the hollow of Rodney's throat to draw a line down to his
sternum, under his heart and up along his ribcage. The brush
is almost dry by the time John reaches the little pool of water
on Rodney's chest once more; it tickles mercilessly against
skin slick with sweat. Repeating the motion, John circles Rodney's
chest again, finding new, exciting places that make Rodney whimper,
shift, seek relief: the juncture between arm and shoulder, the
inside of his elbow, the back of his hand, every single fingertip.
By the time John's brush -- dry again, every single hair palpable
against his skin -- has reached his pinkie finger, Rodney is
"You like that?"
John's rich voice is near his ear suddenly,
startling Rodney so badly he opens his eyes. He swallows. John's
face is so close he could just reach out and touch -- dark lashes
shadowing green eyes that gleam in the slowly dimming light,
first crow's feet around the corners that are such a delicious
sign of John's age that Rodney wants to stretch up and kiss
them -- but John's skin is radiating heat, heat that makes him
hard whilst stealing air that he needs to breathe.
Rodney forces himself to relax his neck and
shoulder muscles and close his eyes again.
"No. I'm just doing my Yoga exercises."
A taunt, again, he knows John can't resist those.
Blinking one eye open, he sees a wild, feral grin flash over
And Rodney really should know better than to
mock John, because, oh, God, after he has instructed Rodney
to close his damn eyes again, Rodney hears him rise to his knees
-- a soft susurrus of fabric against the limestone. Another
few excruciating seconds of waiting, where Rodney is ready to
just come right there, without John even touching him. John
tips the glass and lets a thin stream of ice-cold water run
into Rodney's bellybutton; coldness so abrupt on hot skin that
Rodney arches upwards, gasping out loud. John doesn't stop and
the feeling of the water, cold as ice, burning like fire through
the heat, goes on and on, travelling inside and out, along his
skin and through his body, into his cock, centering there until
Rodney is writhing, arousal wound to a nearly painful pitch.
Rodney's hand twitches, moving to touch himself,
and John stops. Sets the glass down with an audible clink. Rests
the wooden end of the brush against Rodney's wrist and pushes
the hand back to the floor.
"You said you hated touching when it was
warm." John's voice is light and deliberately admonishing.
Rodney groans. He's in hell. John's going to
make him pay for what he said. He's going to bring him to the
edge and then leave him there, denying him the chance to fall
over it. Fresh sweat breaks out over his body. He hates the
feeling. Hates John for a quick, irrational moment, for turning
him on so much.
"I'm sorry, all right?" Rodney grinds
out between clenched teeth. He wonders if he could get enough
friction if he just moved his hips in the right way. If he could
get his cock to rub against the rough linen --
The brush is back, slender wood pressed against
Rodney's hipbone. "Don't."
The whimper Rodney gives sounds pitiful even
to his own ears.
Then the pressure of the brush is gone and Rodney
hears John rise.
Half glad John isn't touching him, half disappointed
because he isn't even trying, Rodney raises his head to look
around, something that only makes him sweat more, damn it. He
doesn't care. "Pants?" he asks, and no, that really
isn't his voice.
"Sorry." John shrugs, all mock consideration.
"If you want them off you gotta do it yourself. Too hot
for touching, remember?"
Rodney drops his head back against the stone
floor with a thunk. "I hate you."
John steps into his line of vision and just
smiles sunnily as he lazily runs the brush from his left hand
over his arm to his torso. "This is nice," he says.
Rodney stares, unblinking. The planet’s
axle tilt is more obvious now. The night here is no longer completely
dark. There's light even when the planet has rotated the hemisphere
they're in away from its sun, reminding Rodney of Siberia and
the White Nights. He never would have thought he'd miss Siberian
winters one day. Or Antarctica. Or Canadian winters, with their
mountains of snow. The winter light, that strange, eternal,
age-old light had been the same in all three countries. It's
less pronounced here, less bright, but during what should be
night here, the light from this sun bathes the city around the
gate in an eerie ginger twilight. Bathes John, too. John's hair
is haloed by it, his skin warmed from a regular tan to damp
golden velvet. The water from the brush glistens on John's arms.
Rodney's throat is too dry to swallow. He wants to taste --
John's skin, the salt on it, lick the gold away and feel it
on his tongue, trace a long wet stripe down John's navel to
the top of his pants, not touching, just licking, tongue is
good, tongue would be okay --
John catches Rodney's gaze resting on his crotch
and grins. Paints the infinity symbol on the inside of his lower
arm. Again and again, over his chest, down his own stomach,
mimicking what he did to Rodney, until the brush is dry and
Rodney swears he can hear the brush moving through John's incredibly
"When they find us, you'll be the one to
explain to Elizabeth why I died from sexual frustration."
"Are you frustrated?"
"No, this is fun. Fun." Rodney heaves
a helpless laugh. "Seriously, the thought of going down
with a hard-on is just so very appealing. It’ll get me
a good start in the afterlife. "Hi, I'm Rodney McKay, genius,
Fabric shuffles, rustles. Rodney stops talking
and raises his head and his brain short-circuits.
Skin, too much skin, only skin, a cocked eyebrow.
Rodney has never thought much of crying when a situation got
desperate. He's about to reconsider that tactic.
John's standing there, gloriously naked, his
skin glowing in the eerie light, his cock hard and inviting
and yet John's impossible to touch, too warm, too hot, too.…
damn. Rodney just wants to die.
Well, no, he doesn't want to die. He wants to
come and he wants to feel John come, to watch his eyes go wide
and blind with pleasure and follow him over the brink, but it's
too hot to breathe hard and his head keeps spinning from just
sitting upright. Arousal has slipped past urgent to uncomfortable.
Any longer and the teasing is going to become torture. Despite
the damned heat, he's going to have to turn the tables on John.
Rodney curls upward, feels sweat and water slick
on his belly and on the inside of his elbows, sticky and horrible,
but he needs, needs this.
Faster than John expected, Rodney can see from
the way John braces himself against the wall behind him, Rodney
moves toward John. Hands firmly on the ground. Just his head.
Moving until in line with John's cock. Rodney's gaze sweeps
over it, takes in the familiar shape, colour, texture. John's
a beautiful man in every aspect.
Rodney's mouth waters, saliva pooling under
his tongue. He bends closer, takes in the mingled scent of sweat
and musk. Opens his mouth and blows carefully on John's cock.
A shiver races through John's body, and there's a throaty: "Rodney."
Rodney looks up through his lashes and smirks,
knowing exactly what this does to John.
"You said no touching," John says,
hoarsely, while Rodney continues to just breathe on his cock.
Rodney's smirk grows wider, the role reversal
making him bold. "Oh, but I'm not touching." His tongue
darts out, just a single moist dab to hot, smooth skin. "I'm
tasting. You do know the difference, right?"
When he looks back up, John's eyes are dark,
his mouth slightly open and Rodney's stomach clenches. He moves,
without thinking, opens his mouth and leans forward, feels the
silk of John's cock against his lips and tongue, breathes in
the scent of sex, grinds his own cock against rough linen pulled
tight by his movement and John sounds, John --
"Colonel Sheppard? Dr. McKay?"
Rodney jerks back as though electrocuted. Teyla.
That's Teyla's voice.
Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit. Next
to him, John scrambles for his pants and pulls them on with
enough force to make Rodney wince. They're both wide-eyed and
painfully aroused. John's pupils are blown wide, his breath
coming in rapid pants, face flushed and God, he smells so damn
good that Rodney wants to bury his nose in his --
"Colonel Sheppard, this is Lorne, are you
Rodney presses the heel of his hand against
the obvious bulge in his pants and curses fate. Lorne. Of all
"We're here, Major," John calls back,
and Rodney really, really isn't amused to hear the squeak in
Ronon and Teyla round the corner to their yard
just when John is about to pull on one of the loose linen shirts
"Are you all right?" Teyla asks; concern
threaded through her question.
"Fine, just fine," Rodney snaps. He
doesn't look at her. She reads him like a book, and he really
doesn't feel like being on the receiving end of that knowing
"Hot here," Ronon remarks, matter-of-factly.
"Yeah. Hot." John isn't looking at
him, and Rodney is incredibly grateful for that. Even the ginger
twilight wouldn't hide the blush that's threatening to creep
into his cheeks.
Lorne rounds the corner as well. He is down
to a basic shirt that shows dark patches under his arms and
on his chest. "There you are."
John makes a sweeping gesture toward the yard.
"Join the party, Major."
"Ready to go?"
"No, I thought we'd stay here for a bit
longer, work on that tan some more," Rodney gripes. "What
do you think?"
Lorne grins. "Let's go. We have cool-packs
in the jumper."
They walk in silence to where Lorne has landed
the jumper. Later, he'll ask how they got here faster than seemed
possible and who figured out how to do it. For now though, the
sun has begun to rise, tinting the smooth sandstone buildings
of the empty city in blood red. Already 40°C and rising
again. It would top 50°C today.
Rodney walks with Teyla and Ronon between him
Stepping into the air-conditioned interior of
the jumper is pure bliss, and Rodney sighs. Drops on the soft
black seat in the back and closes his eyes.
"Do you want to take her up, Colonel?"
"Go ahead, Major," John answers, and
Rodney hears him settle down next to him -- just far enough
to not touch, but close enough to hear him breathe.
Cool air moves over them in waves, the chill
"Are you certain you are feeling all right,
Rodney hears John smile. "Sure. No need
to worry. I just need a long, cold shower."
Rodney coughs. John's finger is on his thigh,
Twenty-five degrees Celsius and falling.
Rodney smirks. He's looking forward to that