This story was written for the Voyeurism Challenge on sga_flashfic and was betaed by the ever amazing Shalott and Terri.
The closed-circuit cameras in Atlantis are astonishing marvels of technology. Better resolution than you get even from the puddlejumper scanners, and those make the HELIVAS Visual Approach System he trained on look about as sophisticated as a pinhole camera made out of a cardboard box. With a little concentration, a person with the gene can even get the camera to move a bit to follow the subject around.
With a lot of concentration (and a tiny earpiece that transmits visual information directly into the brain through aural frequencies; "Uh, can I have this?" he'd asked Zelenka, who hadn't even bothered to look up at him, just waved his hand and said, "Yeah, sure, what am I going to do with it?") a person with the gene can receive the camera's images as technicolor 3D images in his head.
His first thought had been to use the cameras for security, which was what he figured they had probably been designed for—and it seemed really cool to him that the military head of operations could see practically anywhere in Atlantis on demand. So he took to wearing the earpiece all the time, just in case; it disappeared into his ear, anyway, and was a real pain to take out. However, most of the cameras were in empty rooms (or in boring ones), and when it came to the gate room or the labs, he liked getting his information in person. Sometimes though, he sat on his sofa and stared into the only cool room he'd found, a room with huge see-through pipes full of various brightly-colored, pulsating liquids, and listened to Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
That was fun.
But one night, after jerking off during the climactic part of "The Trial" (the orange tube obliging him by pulsating threateningly the entire time: Tear! Down! The Wall!) he'd decided to do a final systems check of Atlantis while he wiped off his cock. Sprawled on his sofa, listening to the final, calming notes of "Outside The Wall", he flipped relaxedly through the boring, empty rooms—the calmness of the gate room, the laboratory where only Zelenka was still working. And suddenly there was a giant face peering down at him, hanging in the middle of his living room like the Great And Powerful Oz, and he lurched back, practically falling over the arm of the sofa before seeing that it was Rodney. John's brain wished desperately for another, less intimidating angle and then—whoa, okay, he got one, Thank You, Ancient Gene, and now Rodney was normal sized, staring—not at him, but down at his computer screen.
How the hell could there be a camera in Rodney's computer screen?
Well, of course there was a camera in Rodney's computer screen; all the laptops were video ready. And Rodney's computer was hooked into the network, so why wouldn't the network adopt his camera as its own? No reason at all.
The holographic Rodney was hunched over his laptop in the middle of John's living room, and John slouched back and stared at him curiously; what was he looking at? Whatever it was, it must be pretty damn interesting to keep McKay staring like that. He tossed the tissue he'd been using to clean himself into the wastebasket and suddenly noticed that Rodney's shoulders were shaking, and his arm was—
His hand, Rodney's hand was—
Holy shit, Rodney was jerking off to some internet porn or something—and before he could really think about it, the image of Rodney had broken up into static, and then his brain changed cameras on him, showing him the nice boring laundry room, thank God.
Right, that was bad; that was just wrong. If Rodney wanted to—well, whatever, jerk off to whatever porn he wanted to jerk off to—that was Rodney's own business. Still, the thought of porn made his cock twitch, and he berated it with, "you've had yours already," for about 30 seconds before giving up with a groan and sliding his hand back into his shorts. He was more sensitive now that he'd come already, but that was okay, he just let his head loll back and took it slow, teasing himself with the lightest touch he could manage. God, he wondered what Rodney was watching. It was worth asking him about it—Rodney was a good guy, he thought, beginning to gasp raggedly now that his balls were tightening up, and if he had porn maybe he wouldn't mind—God!—sharing!
In the back of his mind, he thought he heard a groan not his own, but that was probably the Ancient technology fucking with him.
The next time he lay sprawled on the sofa, staring at the trippy multicolored pipes and jerking off to Led Zepplin's "Kashmir," he found himself vaguely saddened that all the rooms in his mind were empty, literally and figuratively. No people anywhere. He stared at the pipes, wondering what the hell they were (neon tubes? slurpee machine? lava lamp?) and made a note to ask Rodney about it, Rodney would know—and then suddenly he remembered the desperate slump of Rodney's shoulders, the way he curled in on himself like jerking off almost hurt him, and without really thinking about it, his brain connected to the camera nearest to Rodney and put Rodney in his living room.
For a moment, he thought that he was playing back some sort of memory, because the image he saw in front of him was so similar—Rodney, hunched in front of the computer monitor, jerking off with a sort of abject longing. John stared at him, his brain obligingly turning the image until he had a good view of Rodney's face, the strong, square hand wrapped around his cock—and then, responding to the spike of pleasure this brought him, John inhaled deeply and began matching Rodney stroke for stroke.
It was easier than he would have thought to synchronize himself with Rodney; it was like Rodney was already working at his speed or something. It also made him feel a lot better, like they were doing this together, even if—okay—Rodney didn't know they were doing this together. Still, kind of almost nearly together felt better than doing it alone.
His eyes drifted shut a couple of times, but when he opened them, he saw that he and Rodney were still exactly on the same page—Rodney'd reached down to grab his balls just when he had, and now he saw that Rodney was thumbing circles around the head of his cock just the way John liked to do. He grinned happily, then let his head fall back and jerked himself hard and fast, racing toward orgasm—he wouldn't have thought—God!—that he and Rodney had this much in common—but—geez, who knew?
Afterwards, when he was smiling up at the ceiling and panting and trailing his fingertips through the splatter of come on his belly, he decided that he really had to get his hands—so to speak—on whatever porn it was that Rodney was watching. Because he and Rodney were clearly sexually simpatico, amigo, oh my-o,—and whatever it was that was working for Rodney would probably work just as well for him. He stared up at the ceiling and his brain obliged him by projecting Rodney up there, then circling around his shoulder and zooming in on the screen to get a glimpse of the porn. Some guy—and wow, okay, he hadn't figured Rodney would swing, but maybe that explained it; maybe there was some sort of underlying bisexual taste at work here—with his cock hanging out, sprawled on his sofa and staring up at the—
Wait one fucking minute.
He stared up at Rodney, who was staring at him, who was staring at Rodney—-and for a moment he felt totally fucking dwarfed by the infinite recursiveness of it all. Slowly, deliberately, he slid his hand down along the thin line of hair that arrowed to his cock, and watched as the guy on the sofa did the same thing—and gee, okay, that was kind of hot. He fisted his still-erect cock and pointed it toward where he'd triangulated the camera, and it was like the guy on the sofa was offering his dick to the viewer, which was—wow, okay, yeah, really working for him. Feeling smug, he pulled the camera back to check Rodney's reaction and saw that Rodney wasn't even watching—Rodney had gone over the edge and was breathing hard, eyes closed, looking totally blissed out. For a moment, he was outraged, because—hey, he'd just been doing something really sexy there and Rodney hadn't seen him do it—but he found himself staring up, fascinated, at the look on Rodney's face.
He was Rodney's porn. He'd put that look on Rodney's face. And John felt weirdly touched by that—because of all the people Rodney could have chosen to look at, maybe fantasize about, Rodney had chosen him. And maybe he should have felt creeped out by it, but he wasn't creeped out and he honestly couldn't see the harm. Rodney could have jerked off to porn. Rodney'd chosen to jerk off to him, instead.
He wasn't sure if Rodney was still watching, but he undressed slowly, just in case—crossing his arms over his torso, grabbing the hem of his t-shirt, and pulling it off, over his head; pushing his shorts down his legs and leaving them in a puddle on the floor. He opened his closet door, pulled his towel off the hook, and—draping it about his neck rather than around his waist, as he usually did—went off to take a shower.
Later, under the cover of stretching, he looked around and tried to spot the cameras; man, he'd been so dumb to assume he was the only one who knew about Atlantis's closed-camera system. He should've figured that Rodney'd have the whole thing wired up to his laptop; John might have had the gene, but Rodney knew the city better than anybody. He spotted a camera across from the sofa, one in the kitchen area, one over his bed—and what the fuck were the Ancients thinking, or, uh—was that really obvious?
Rodney wasn't obvious, anyway; in fact, if John hadn't caught him red-handed, he'd never in a million years have guessed that Rodney watched him jerk off. Rodney was exactly the same as he'd ever been—prickly, incisive, investigating everything with narrowed eyes and a curious sideways tilt of the head. Still, though, now that he was looking for it, there seemed to be some very subtle signals that he'd been missing. Rodney looked up from projects when John walked in the room, and if he only maybe stared at John for a long second or two, that was a lot more than most people got—and some people had to tap Rodney on the shoulder three or four times before Rodney even looked up to go, "Huh?"
It took a week after the shield conduit on the east pier blew out for John to be awake enough to think about doing anything in his room except falling into a comatose sleep—a week in which they'd had to call a red alert and put everyone at battlestations and then Rodney had needed some kind of metal for the patch job that they hadn't had any of and so John had had to go hunting on yet another godforsaken planet that looked like a state park. Ford had done some weird thing where he drilled into a rock and then Brisbane had done some weird thing with a sieve and a beeping machine—and John had gone and lain down in the grass to stare at the sky, cradling his machine gun, so he was the first person to notice that the bird-things were beginning their attack.
Afterwards, there'd been feathers in their hair, on their uniforms, in the samples, in the vents of Ford's drill, and Rodney had looked all skeptical and asked if they'd been attacked by Foghorn Leghorn. John had just shrugged, having already decided that silent cool was his only defense, but he was secretly delighted when Ford began to tell a terrifying (and totally fabricated) tale of airborne creatures with razor sharp talons and fangs, because John thought it made his silent cool look all the cooler.
Still, fighting insane flying chickens was exhausting, as was welding metal in the rain while Rodney yelled directions that got lost in the wind, and so it was a couple of days after things returned to more-or-less normal that John fell onto his bed and, on the verge of dozing off, rolled over and found he was hard. Humming sleepily and feeling contented, he gently rolled onto his back again and slid a hand down into his shorts—and then, suddenly, it all came back to him, Rodney and the cameras, and the jolt of excitement woke him up entirely and set his heart pounding in his chest. He'd been meaning to slowly jerk himself to full hardness, but the thought of Rodney watching this made him instantly hard, and he had to cinch his cock tightly, right under the head, to stop himself from coming. He stared up at the ceiling and thought about the cameras, thought about Rodney, and the earpiece obligingly projected Rodney above his bed.
He knew right away that this wasn't a repeat, because Rodney looked as tired as he felt, and had propped one arm underneath his chin as he stared down at the computer screen and slowly drank from some steaming mug of liquid. John willed a jump cut so he could check out Rodney's screen, because Rodney could be running numbers on an experiment or checking his email—but no, he wasn't, because there he was, John Sheppard, lying sprawled across his mattress, with his hand—
Actually, no, John realized a second later; you couldn't see his hand because the covers were kind of draped across his waist. But Rodney didn't look impatient or anything, Rodney was just watching the screen the way—well, the way that John had watched his iguana for hours on end when he was a kid, kind of because there was nothing better to do, and kind of because sometimes it would do something really interesting, like eat a live cricket or spit. Rodney took another sip of whatever he was drinking just as John writhed and feigned waking up—and then he kicked the blankets down to the foot of his bed and slid his shorts down over his hips in one, swift motion.
Rodney, he saw, had frozen, eyes huge over the rim of the mug.
Still, John hadn't spent all those years watching a lizard for nothing; he knew that the key to being an entertaining lizard was to keep your subject off balance—stop and start, look like you were going to do something really interesting, and then stare glassily into space for four days. He wasn't sure that he could get Rodney to sit there for four days, but it didn't matter anyway because he wasn't going to make it for ten minutes; his dick, now fully exposed to the camera, had decided that it wanted top billing in this performance and was leaking steadily onto his belly. He stretched, and rolled over onto his stomach, resting his head on his folded arms, drawing one leg up a bit to give his erection some space, like he was just trying to find a comfortable position. He closed his eyes and let the moment stretch out for one...two...three...beats before letting himself roll backward onto the mattress and reaching down for his cock.
He jacked himself lazily a couple of times and watched as Rodney carefully set the mug down on the desk with both hands, then began to unzip his pants. John felt his excitement rising and had to close his eyes; Come on, Rodney. Attaboy. Be with me, here. Eyes still closed, he raked his nails up and down over his stomach, which sent shivers up his spine and made his nipples go hard without his even having to touch them. Christ, that was good, and when he opened his eyes to check on Rodney (who was currently floating near his bathroom door), things got almost a little too good: Rodney'd gotten his dick out and was matching him stroke for stroke.
Instinctively, John switched from his right hand to his clumsier left, trying to slow himself down until he could bring Rodney right along with him; even now, Rodney was trying to unzip his shirt with his other hand while still matching John stroke for stroke. And then, Rodney shocked him by switching hands, perfectly imitating John's motion. He was now jerking off with his left hand rather than his right, and John nearly lost his own stroke as the implications of that set in.
With his right hand free, Rodney was able to shrug out of his shirt in a matter of seconds, and then he was raking his own nails across his ribcage, his hands the exact mirror of John's. John squeezed his eyes shut again, but this time it didn't help—the image of Rodney, heavy-lidded and touching himself, was being projected on the inside of his head, or maybe his brain was doing that. He gasped and slowly moved his hand down over his body, knowing that this was making Rodney caress himself, too—he was moving Rodney's hand down, over his rib cage, around to his balls, and he was rubbing a thumb over the leaking head of his cock, then sliding down the shaft, jerking him off—
And suddenly his hips were snapping upwards and he was fucking his own hand, hard, so close to there that he was there, already. He cursed under his breath and opened his eyes wide, because he wanted to see if Rodney was coming, if Rodney was with him, to be there with him—and shit, fuck, goddammit, Rodney was there, but Rodney was gone, his head had rolled back and he was gasping, but he wasn't looking—he wasn't—please, Rodney, look at me—
John came, then, gasping, hips bucking, shooting come over his belly. A moment later, Rodney's face contorted and he was coming, too, hand still working steadily, coaxing himself through all the aftershocks. John lay there panting, unable to tear his eyes away but also feeling slightly disappointed—they'd come together, okay, but Rodney hadn't been with him. And then, with one simple gesture, Rodney made it all better; he lifted his hand and pressed it, blindly, to the laptop screen.
John never asked Rodney if he'd brought any porn to Atlantis; he never let on that he knew that Rodney had silently joined his nightly routine. But night after night, he watched Rodney watching him and imitating his actions. Granted, Rodney switched back to his right hand after a couple of nights, and his fingers sometime stole up to rub and harden nipples that were clearly less sensitive than John's own. But other than that, Rodney followed wherever John led him, even through the prolonged self-teasing that John liked so much, especially when it was combined with a long, slow fingerfucking. John tried to keep his eyes open from start to finish, and the earpiece helped with that—he could turn his head to the side and still be watching Rodney, slackjawed, with two fingers up his ass. But after a while, it wasn't enough for him to see Rodney, or to be seen by Rodney.
He began to become obsessed with letting Rodney know he could see him. He began to fantasize about standing up, looking straight into the camera, and saying something reasonable like, "Rodney, why don't you come down here? I'll fix you a drink, and then you can fuck me for real."
What stopped him was the thought that Rodney might just end the whole thing-after all, it was Rodney who'd set up the ground rules, and the ground rules seemed to include an oblivious John Sheppard. And Rodney'd never said a word to him about it, never indicated that he might want anything from him other than military protection during the day and a sex show at night. Maybe secrecy was Rodney's kink, and telling would ruin it, or maybe he was just a hot body Rodney was projecting his fantasies onto—maybe, on the porntastic internet back home, Rodney would have been a regular subscriber to hotmilitarystuds.com or fuckaflyboy.net. Rodney wouldn't have wanted to be any closer to those guys, just like John'd never really wanted to fuck a six-foot-tall amazon with breasts the size of her head or one of those shaved, pouty boys with eight inches and a sixpack.
Why should this be any different?
Still, he found himself moving his eyes nearer and nearer to the camera—never looking quite at it, but above it, below it, just to the side of it. Still, wherever he moved his eyes, the earpiece projected Rodney—and now John tended to select a full-on frontal view—so it was almost like face to face. He stared right into the blue eyes of the 3-dimensional Rodney and conducted a frantic, whispered dialogue with him in his mind: c'mon, c'mon, that's it, look at me, oh yeah, oh yeah, that's right, deeper, yes, deeper yeah oh yeah come on and fuck me— and sometimes he lost it and jerked his face to the side just in case his lips were moving, "—Rodney...god, that's it, Rodney, please look—fuck!—that's...ohhhh...."
His eyes would fall shut. It was too much.
It wasn't enough.
It had to be enough. He pressed his lips together and determined to shut up. He had other things to think about—keeping Atlantis safe, trying to think of something really, really dirty to do for Rodney's birthday. But sometimes he found himself frowning down at the carpet, wondering if he ought to just take the fucking risk. All Rodney could say was no. But then again, he might end it, and then John would be alone with the pipes again.
One night, Rodney surprises him by suddenly standing up in front of the laptop. This isn't in their nightly routine, and it's not responsive to anything John is doing—John is sitting on the sofa, fingers in his ass, jerking off. But there Rodney is, standing there, naked, one hand still on his cock—and this is maybe the first time that John's really gotten a good look at his body, pale chest tapering down to narrow hips, blond hairs on his thighs, and a truly fantastic ass. Rodney is naked and so very vulnerable looking—and John leans forward helplessly, wanting, wanting, Rodney, jerking himself furiously.
And then Rodney lets his head roll back on his shoulders and comes. And John can't take his eyes off him, he's so beautiful, and then he lifts his hand to his mouth and tastes his come—and suddenly John stares into the camera, wanting Rodney to see, wanting Rodney to know that—that—
He comes so hard it hurts, and he's sucking for air between his gritted teeth. But although his heart is pounding, he feels oddly calm. He wants Rodney to see. He wants Rodney to know. Still panting, he reaches for his discarded t-shirt and begins to wipe off his stomach. He wants Rodney to know, so he's going to have to tell him. He's faced worse odds than this. He's a guy who understands risk.
John pulls on a pair of sweatpants, pulls on a clean t-shirt and shoves his bare feet into a ratty pair of tennis shoes. And he's about to bolt out of his apartment when he suddenly he stops, turns to the camera and says, "Rodney, I'm coming."
After that, he runs through the corridors of Atlantis, and he doesn't stop until he's pounding on Rodney's door.
Continue on to Part III: Composition by shalott