Just Like Christmas
Author's Note: My first ever SG-A story, written for the SGA_Flashfic community's "First Night" challenge. Thanks to Shalott, Resonant, Merry, and Mia for beta.
"Go to bed, Rodney." Weir's words had floated over a yawn. "It'll all still be here tomorrow." Rodney had glanced sharply to the side and seen her feet drifting toward the door; he'd been underneath the systems console at the time, just checking for himself that the power coupling could sustain the increased pressure of the additional conduits they were adding for their own equipment.
"Yeah, in a minute," he'd replied. He'd even meant it at the time.
"Are you still here?" Some time later, Grodin was standing there. "Really, you should get some sleep."
Rodney just nodded, tapping his fingers as he waited for the diagnostic to finish. "Two more minutes and I'm out of here. They assigned me a room in the south tower somewhere." When he looked up again, Grodin had taken off, apparently taking his sudden interest in Atlantean real estate as a sign of good faith.
Sometime after that, Beckett did a near-perfect double take, first looking at Rodney and then his watch and then Rodney again. "Rodney—for God's sake!"
"Yeah, I—yeah," and he hadn't thought his inability to produce coherent sentences had meant anything, though probably his nonessential systems had been shutting down to conserve power. "I'm gonna—maybe in ten—or, uh—"
"Go to bed, man!" Beckett's forehead was creased with worry—but really, what else was new? "You're dead on your feet!"
"I'm fine. I'm— almost done with—uh—" and he'd been saved by the sudden bleep that meant that Beckett was needed again in the infirmary, where apparently there had been any number of people who'd been suffering from allergic reactions or stress-related illnesses. Rodney would have put out a bucket of inhalers and a sign saying, "Deal with it," but Beckett apparently felt that each case needed the personal touch.
It didn't seem very long at all before a very chipper looking Ford came in and said, "Hey, Doc; I didn't know you were fielding early shift," and then Ford must have gotten a good look at him because he recoiled, raising his arms to protect his face and said, "Whoa, okay. No coffee yet?"
Ford brought him a cup of coffee, and truth be told, he did feel much better.
"Doc-tor Mc-Kay," and okay, all four syllables meant he was busted, and he tried to come up with some story about how what he'd been doing was directly related to saving the universe, or base security, or something even remotely important—except he'd mainly been fucking around. Not that he was a slave to the truth or anything, but his normally agile brain wouldn't even generate the garden-variety lies that he depended on to get him from one minute to another.
And Weir was glaring at him, arms crossed over her chest.
"Uh," Rodney said, wincing.
"Go to bed, Rodney. Now. That's a direct order," she said, and so out he went.
He wandered around the south tower until found his room—or at least a room that he was pretty sure was his room, and that was pretty interesting too. He inspected the closets and outlets and the lights on the tables and the bathroom—and then a panel slid open in what Rodney presumed was his kitchenette and a soothing voice scared the shit out of him by asking him if he wanted a hot drink before bed.
Freaking out suddenly, Rodney made a beeline for the glass doors that fronted onto the balcony. He wanted some fresh air. The sun was fully up, now, and the water was blue and silver, sparkling. He took a deep breath and felt new and invigorated. He wondered if he could take a shower and change his clothes and just pretend to have slept.
He turned back toward the door, this idea nearly driving him back inside— and it was only then that he noticed that someone had dragged a mattress out onto the balcony next to his. Moreover, there seemed to be a heap of black rags piled on the mattress. Frowning, Rodney approached the dividing wall to get a better look— and suddenly the black rags moved and uncoiled and sat up, groggily.
It was Major Sheppard.
"Whoa," Sheppard said, and blinked.
"Hey," Rodney replied; Noel Coward this wasn't, but still, it paid to be nice to your neighbors. He had a sudden pang of longing for his cat, who was no doubt curled up on Maggie's sofa as she watched the forty-eighth rerun of Murder She Wrote. Fucking cat. Couldn't trust 'em. One can of tuna fish, and they were yours for the taking.
"I can't sleep," Sheppard said, and that was kind of ridiculous, since he'd just been asleep, or at least his every-which-way hairstyle seemed to indicate so. "Sleep cycle totally off," he added, slicing his hand in an emphatic gesture that he'd probably learned in military school, maybe to launch planes or something.
"Yeah. Know what you mean," Rodney said, although he didn't really, not having had a normal sleep cycle himself since graduate school. He put his hands onto the low, thickish wall, having had some vague idea of just hopping over in a graceful, "Anyone for tennis?" kind of way, but actually he had to hoist one leg over and then roll on his belly, hugging the wall, until his foot touched the ground on Sheppard's side, and then kind of hop until he could pull his other leg down again. Less hopping would have been good.
He sat down on the mattress and leaned back against the apartment wall the way Sheppard was doing. "So listen—"
"I'm listening," Sheppard said, tilting his head to the side.
Goddamned literalist. Sometimes he really didn't know what to do with people who weren't abstract thinkers. He leaned forward a little bit, in confidence, and Sheppard's dark head moved to meet him half way.
"Did the coffee machine talk to you?"
To Rodney's extreme relief, Sheppard nodded solemnly. "Yeah."
"Okay, good." He felt a distinct lightness in his chest. "I thought maybe it was just me."
Sheppard shrugged. "You can turn it off."
"Oh yeah? How?" Rodney asked.
Sheppard was staring straight ahead and blinking slowly, like the question was taking up all of his processing power; actually, he did look really, really tired. Finally he turned, eyebrows raised, and said, "Actually, maybe you can't turn it off. I can turn it off." Sheppard raised his hand, solemnly, like an Indian. "I have the hand of power."
"Okay, so I will love you forever if you can make sure the goddamned thing never, ever talks to me again." Rodney closed his eyes and began to massage his aching temples.
"Forever?" Sheppard repeated. "That's kind of a long time."
"How long do you want?"
He'd been kidding, but Sheppard seemed to answer him seriously. "I dunno. Figure...twenty minutes?"
Rodney opened his eyes, and yeah, Sheppard still looked pretty serious. Well, all of him except his hair, which was ludicrously flat on one side and pointing straight up at the other. "I'm sorry, you mean—"
"I'm on an alien world," Sheppard said flatly, and suddenly Rodney understood that Sheppard's reasons for not sleeping weren't the same as his own reasons for not sleeping. He was almost out of his damn mind with excitement; he had a galaxy of new toys to play with. Sheppard, though, didn't look excited. "In a flying city. Where the coffee machines talk." He stopped for a moment, and gnawed thoughtfully at his lower lip, the gesture making him look somehow four years old. "Nobody even knows I'm missing."
"Yeah," Rodney said quietly, not knowing what else to say. "I know what—"
Sheppard just kept talking, like he hadn't said anything important. "So something—familiar—would be kind of a good thing right now." Sheppard looked at him, and Rodney just stared back at him, and thought: He isn't. He isn't—is he?
It didn't help any that his brain was so tired. He sat there for a moment, heart pounding with nerves, then decided to take a chance. "And the sleep-inducing properties wouldn't hurt either, I'm guessing," he said in his most wisecracking voice, hoping for some thin veneer of plausible deniability. But Sheppard's expression—an open, glorious smile—made any self-protection redundant. "Right. Yeah. You understand perfectly," and then he squeezed his eyes shut and moaned, "Christ, I need some sleep..."
It felt safer, somehow, with Sheppard's eyes closed. Rodney hesitantly—and stupidly, reaching out and pulling back and then reaching out again—pressed his hand to Sheppard's chest just below the shoulder. The skin below the thin black t-shirt was hard and warm. "I, uh—I won't make it over the wall again."
Sheppard opened his eyes. "Got a mattress right here," he said, and Rodney couldn't argue with that.
The most awkward part of it was the first kiss, when Sheppard bent forward and for a moment Rodney didn't know whether to lean left or lean right and instead just bobbled from side to side until Sheppard grabbed him by the open neck of his shirt and pulled their mouths together.
After that, it was all easy enough—and almost familiar, kind of—lying back with a hand in his pants, his fingers closing around an erect cock. Except normally, it was his own hand on his own cock. He gasped as he felt Sheppard's broad thumb stroking the lip of his cockhead, and he tightened his own hand, pulling and squeezing in his own favorite rhythm. Sheppard, rather gratifyingly, let out a long, desperate-sounding moan just as his cock jerked in Rodney's hand, and Rodney somehow managed enough presence of mind to keep stroking even though his own orgasm was rapidly approaching. Lot of great new toys here on Atlantis.
Sheppard heaved out a few, panting breaths and gasped, "Excellent," before rolling onto his back and falling into a deep, open-mouthed sleep. Rodney lay there for a moment, dimly aware that Sheppard's hand was still deep in his pants, before drifting off himself.
When the sun finally set, neither of them was awake yet to see it.