He found Rodney in the most unexpected of places – on a balcony off the main tower away from the control room with his laptop open but basically unused.
John walked over to the scientist, squatted down in front of him, and touched his shoulder. “Okay. Is that your ‘we’re screwed’ face?”
“This is my ‘I’m exhausted, haven’t slept in three days, and that voodoo priestess in the infirmary won’t give me any stimulants, and even the fake coffee is gone’ face.” Rodney’s hands trembled as he picked up his laptop. “You were right about the device. I shouldn’t have pushed it aside—because it was important and if we’d known sooner we could have planned better—understood what Michael was really after.”
“None of us thought it was more than what it appeared to be. We all missed the big picture on this one. It’s obvious he wanted Keller and Teyla. Teyla for her Wraith DNA, so he can figure out other Wraith had mixed with humans before, and Keller for her gene – then we’d have probably had more than one little Carson Beckett running around this place.”
“Do you have any idea how that fucks with me?” Rodney demanded. “Seriously. Any idea?”
John nodded. “As much as it bothers the two of them – as much it feels like Michael violated them both and forced them into a situation that left them without choice.”
“Just like we did him.”
“Yes. Just like we did him. The irony of it is not lost on me. Teyla manipulated him a great deal when he was human and Carson was the reason we were able to do it at all. He clones Beckett, holds him hostage and never tells him what he is or why he has to masturbate in a cup or be shot in the head, and all the while Teyla’s so-called lover is working for Michael — pushing another man’s semen into her while she sleeps. Yeah, it’s fucked up. It’s fucked up ten ways from yesterday and I can’t fix it. I can’t protect them; I can’t fix it for them. What I can do is kill that bastard so they can come home where they belong. So talk to me, Rodney.”
“Long range sensors show we’re clear – there are several Wraith ships within a month travel of us but they are showing no sign of heading in our direction. I’ve got the team preparing sensor buoys.”
“I thought you said the buoy system was unreliable.”
“It’s better than nothing. We’ll scatter them through the solar system and maybe we’ll get lucky. We have to assume that Michael is on his way – that he’s tired of trying to find women among the peoples of this galaxy with the gene when there are several on the base that will suit his purpose just fine. He’s crazy enough to come here and try it. So he’s coming. We don’t know when and probably not even how—but he’s coming.” Rodney dropped his gaze to the laptop screen and started typing. “Lorne was released from the infirmary?”
“Yeah. Doc figures he’ll rest better in his own quarters but he’s on restricted duty.” Rodney nodded but John could tell he was already losing himself in his computer again. “How about the shield?”
“Nothing that three fully charged ZPM’s wouldn’t fix,” Rodney muttered. “Barring that we have maybe four days of the shield at full strength under bombardment and it will cost us everything we’ve got. I do mean everything, John. We’ll have sacrifice life support by the end of day three, but the chair will fail by the end of day two so we’ll be right screwed before we die of asphyxiation.”
“Your optimism stuns me, really.”
“If you want someone to blow sunshine up your ass go visit…” He paused. “Forget it, we sent all of those people back to Earth already. Annoying fuckers. Look, John, we’ll do the best we can just like always. You’ll blow shit up, try to kill yourself, I’ll channel Miracle Max, and a chocolate coated ZPM will magically appear – and then we’ll all go storm the castle and everything will be fine.”
John tilted his head. “When you watch that movie are you the princess or the pirate in your head?”
“The night is getting cool. Come in before you get sick.”
– – – –
John let himself into his quarters with a thought, engaged the privacy locks immediately, but encouraged the lights to stay dim. He needed darkness, sleep, peace, and escape at this point. He was half naked by the time he reached his bed and discovered that it wasn’t empty. Laura Cadman was sprawled in it on her stomach, the blankets covered her to the waist, and if the beautiful expanse of bare back was any indication—naked. It was like Christmas and his birthday rolled into one. The light from the bathroom provided just enough illumination to make her pale skin glow against the fall of red hair.
He finished stripping and slipped into the bed with her. He ran one hand down the middle of her back, aware that she was awake. “I’m trying to decide if I should take Ronon’s opinion on this matter.”
“What opinion?” she asked softly turning her head on the pillow so she could look at him.
“The one about getting to fuck who ever is in his bed.”
She laughed softly. “I was hoping you might.”
“What happened to you playing hard to get and pretending this was a mistake?” He asked softly as he pulled her into his arms.
“We can do that later.” She pressed her lips against his throat. “I’ll let you chase me all over the city convincing me…” She shuddered when his hand delved between her legs. “Yeah. You can convince me, fuck me, convince me some more. I’m totally making you work for it… tomorrow.”
John urged her onto her back. “I didn’t get… things went too fast last time.” He lowered his head and caught one nipple with teeth—worrying the tight flesh gently. “I’m very willing to work for it right now.” He pushed the blankets aside and moved lower. He placed soft kisses on her belly. “Unless you don’t agree.”
Laura shuddered as he spread her legs and ran his fingers through the silky red hair that covered her sex. “John.”
“You’re communication skills aren’t all that great.” He slid one finger down her middle, teasing her clit with the kind of light stimulation that was more frustrating than relieving. “Tell me. Do you want me to work for it?”
Laura clenched her fists into the sheet beneath him and spread her legs open completely. “If you don’t put your mouth to better use in the next ten seconds I’m going to break your jaw.” He pushed one blunt finger into her and she hissed. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5…” Her breath caught and she shiver slid down her back as his tongue met with her with the aching flesh of her sex. “John Sheppard you are a god.”
– – – –
Laura leaned against the wall in John’s shower – her body still humming with pleasure and her mind rushing with doubt and guilt. Would it always come? How could she let him risk so much? It made her fool, a stupid little fool but she pushed those thoughts aside when he joined her in the shower. The visual feast of his long, lean, muscled body was too much of a distraction for much else.
“You’re beautiful.” She bit down on her lip, realizing she’d said that out loud.
John laughed and pulled her into his arms. “So, are you.” He buried his face in the side of her neck. “A very beautiful distraction.”
She tilted her head when he nuzzled her neck with his clever mouth. “No marks.”
“I know,” he whispered. His hands cupped her ass as he pressed against her. “I could make a meal of you.” His mouth sought hers and she surrendered to the kiss with a moan. John pulled away, his hazel eyes serious and dark. “You tempt me beyond reason.”
Laura gasped when he turned abruptly and pinned both of her hands above her head against the wall. He wedged one thigh between her legs and she spread without a word, tilted her hips, and screamed his name when he pushed his thick cock into her without another word. The water pouring over them heated and then rushed cold in a series of bursts that left her gasping and breathless – but he did not relent with the water or his body– he thrust into her repeatedly, his hands clenching on top of hers with each thrust.
“John!” Her breath came in quick jabs of air and a sob burst from her mouth as she came.
“Fuck.” John held her tight, his teeth clenching on her shoulder as he came. “Laura.” Her name left his mouth in a ragged whisper.
– – – –
Jennifer rested her head on Ronon’s chest and shivered a little when he ran his hands down her back. “I think we need to find quarters with a balcony—something a little more secluded.”
“You’re the CMO, you could request quarters near Woolsey and John, there aren’t many people up that way – just upper level staff.”
Jennifer nodded. “I didn’t want… it was hard taking Carson’s place. Even harder now because he’s… back. God. I got an email from Teyla – if we don’t get them all three back to Atlantis soon she’s going to start killing people, I just know it.”
The song changed and Ronon pulled her closer. “I miss them all.”
“I know.” She lifted her head. “You want a baby, right?”
His eyes widened. “What?”
“When you held Teyla’s son… I saw a different side of you. There was something there.” It made her jealous, she thought. Watching him holding another woman’s child and watching him totally infatuated with another woman’s child.
“I want a life with you; a family with you.” He ran his fingers along her face. “But, unless you have something to tell me—I’d rather wait until we’re in a safer place.”
Jennifer chuckled. “I’m not pregnant. It would be sort of silly for a woman of my medical education to accidently get pregnant. I take conception shots.” She ran one hand down his chest pleased with the way he moved against him. She’d never known him not to be graceful, at ease with his body. It was one of the many things she found insanely attractive about him. “And I agree about the waiting… I’d rather not give birth in a war zone if I can help it. If something happens and that isn’t a choice any more we’ll just do the best we can.”
“Seems to be the theme of our lives.” He kissed her mouth gently and groaned when she opened for him. Reluctantly, Ronon lifted his head. “What ever Michael wants from you – he’s not going to get it. I’ll rip him apart with my bare hands first.” He pushed his fingers into her hair. “I still mean it.”
“Mean what?” She asked softly.
“The first promise I ever made to you.” He rubbed his lips over hers. “There is nothing that can take you away from me. Nothing.”