[identity profile] sgasesa-admin.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] sga_santa
Title: Momentary Distraction
Author: [livejournal.com profile] tarlanx
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] saffronhouse
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG13 slash
Disclaimer: Not Mine!
Author's Notes: I couldn't resist writing some Rodney hurt and angst, just for you :D I hope you enjoy your story, saffronhouse!

Summary: Forgetting that the city had been left to the ravages of time for ten thousand years, it took only a moment of distraction for one Radek's engineers to bring about the latest disaster... and only two words from Rodney to give John the courage to deepen their friendship into something more.

~

"McKay! McKay! Answer me, goddamn it!"

Hearing the tinny, familiar voice, Rodney reached for the radio that had dislodged from his ear during the explosion, and cried out as a sharp pain radiated up his arm. Rocking back and forth, he cradled the broken arm to his chest while fighting back the tears of pain prickling behind his eyes.

"McKay!" He could hear an edge of desperation in the tinny voice. "Rodney!"

Carefully, he reached over with his left hand, groping in the darkness until he felt the headset. It was awkward to place it over his ear but he managed somehow, and tapped the connection.

"Here. I'm here."

"Rodney." This time he heard relief in John's voice, and felt a stab of relief too as this meant the radio wasn't broken. "Hey, buddy. What's happening?"

"I don't... It's dark. I need to..."

He fumbled around the floor with his good hand, hoping to find his tablet computer if only so he could use it to shed some light around him. At the back of his mind he was softly cursing, for if this had happened off-world then he'd have had a flashlight tucked into one of his vest pockets. Here on Atlantis he wasn't even wearing a vest, just a t-shirt. He had never expected... He groaned at the pain lancing through him that interrupted his thoughts. He should have expected.... Rodney gasped as he leaned over a little too far and felt bone grinding against bone within his rib cage. Perhaps his arm wasn't the only thing broken.

He should have been safe here, but Rodney had learned a long time ago that no place was truly safe; not Earth or Atlantis. Death hid around every corner simply waiting for the opportunity to pounce on the unwary. He should have expected... He hissed as his fingers brushed over a shard of something sharp, feeling the bright blossom of pain as it nicked his finger. He couldn't feel anything else within easy reach and wondered what had happened to his tablet.

"Rodney! Rodney!"

"Here. Here. I couldn't find... It's dark."

His thoughts were fuzzy and his eyes were aching even though there was no light to stab into them. He sucked on his finger, tasting fresh blood. His head hurt, and he reached up to touch at the source of the pain. Wet. Blood? Was he bleeding?

"Head hurts... and arm too. Think it's broken. Ribs too."

"It's okay, Rodney. Just keep still and stay with me," came the soft voice in his ear, and he nodded, regretting the action instantly. "We're working our way towards you."

"John? What happened?"

The silence ran a beat too long and Rodney was about to ask again, fearing he had lost the connection, when John spoke gently.

"I was kind of hoping... you could tell us that."

"Rollingstone." He hadn't been down here alone. He's been working with one of Radek's engineers on... on... Why couldn't he remember? "Where's Rollingstone?"

"Rawlenstein?"

"Huh?" Confusion swept over Rodney.

"Doctor Rawlenstein. He was..." John grunted and Rodney heard the sound of something heavy dropping along with a skittering like pebbles shifting, "...with you, Rodney. Can you see him?"

"Dark. Too dark."

"Okay. Just... hang in there, Rodney. We're... almost there."

Rodney could hear the breathlessness in John's voice, as if he was running or performing some other physical activity. Rodney shivered as his mind wandered, wondering if John would sound as intimate as this in bed with him - a soft, husky voice breathing his name softly into his ear as they rocked together, feeling that slow burn of pleasure building between them.

He laughed softly, his thoughts drifting as the comforting aftermath of that old fantasy played out inside his head in the darkness, sending shivers through his body. He dreamed of being held - safe in John's arms, head pillowed on John's shoulder, and his cheek flush against warm skin.

Safe.

"John?"

"Still here, Rodney."

"Love you," he breathed as all remaining conscious thought slipped away into the darkness.

****

John stopped digging through the debris at the entrance to the laboratory when Rodney went silent, holding up his hand to stop the others too. Rodney and Rawlenstein had been working in there before an explosion rocked the central tower. They were supposed to be making some minor repairs and adjustments to stabilize a power fluctuation in the long range sensor array.

"Fifteen minutes. Half an hour, tops," Rodney had said as he headed down into the lower levels beneath the central tower with Rawlenstein following behind him.

It should have been Radek, but Chuck had needed Radek to oversee another engineering problem with the communications panel in the main control room. Using the wormhole drive, the battle above Earth, and the subsequent landing just off the coast of San Francisco, had shaken more than a few things loose. Plus, it was also easy to forget that the city had been abandoned for over ten thousand years before their arrival, and left to face the ravages of time and the ocean of Lantea with her shield slowly collapsing.

Fifteen minutes.

John had barely paid attention to Rodney's words at the time, caught instead by the way his muscles moved beneath the dark t-shirt and bulged in his biceps as he lifted his heavy toolbox. Instead John had looked away, hoping no one had noticed his momentary distraction. He wasn't supposed to look at his best friend that way; wasn't supposed to have those kinds of feelings for him. Yet, every time he thought he had buried those feelings deep enough, something happened to re-ignite that flicker of hope.

This most recent time it was Jennifer breaking up with Rodney.

Though she had not come out and said it openly, he had seen her glance towards him with a slightly bitter twist to her lips when she told Rodney that he cared more for certain others than for her. Rodney had seemed so confused at the time, staring around him as if that certain other would step out into the spotlight and announce him or herself to him. His blue eyes had passed right over John, oblivious as always, except for a slight hesitation that could have meant anything, but it had been enough to fan the tiny spark of hope into a flame once more.

In his fantasies, Rodney would finally figure it out, his eyes alighting on John with all the intensity that he brought to his work on Atlantis. He would truly see John for the first time; see the desire and need and want that had filled John from the moment they first met. Perversely, John's nightmares mirrored his fantasies, except in those dreams Rodney would turn away in disgust rather than embrace him. It was fear that had always held John back from letting Rodney know how he felt about him, even after the change in military regulations that would allow gays to serve. He needed to know for certain which way Rodney would fall before taking that final step, unwilling to risk their friendship on the long shot that Rodney could love him back with equal passion.

Love you.

The soft words had whispered through the radio, stealing into his soul. Fear gripped at his heart that he finally had the certainty he needed when it was too late.

"Rodney!"

John tore back into the debris, heedless of the cuts from shards of glass, marble and metal until Ronon pulled him back.

"Sheppard!"

He tried to shrug off Ronon's hand but Ronon held on tighter, digging fingers into John's shoulder. Ronon slapped a pair of thick, work gloves against John's chest and glared until John hurriedly pulled them on. They were clumsy, making it harder to pull at the smaller pieces of debris but he realized he was working faster now he was no longer flinching from the sharp pain. A team of engineers under Radek's supervision began to shore up the ceiling to prevent a further collapse, handing John a crowbar to lever aside more of the debris barring his access to Rodney.

Another hour passed with ominous silence from Rodney before they had cleared enough debris to reach the only entrance into the laboratory. John stood back as Radek set to work, fists clenching and releasing in frustration as he waited for him to open the doors wide enough for a person to slip through. Without waiting, John squeezed through the gap into the destroyed laboratory. He shone his flashlight around, pausing when he caught sight of a shoe. He picked his way across the floor with care, glancing over his shoulder at the sound of shifting debris and relaxing when he realized it was Jennifer. She looked nervous but determined, having come a long way from that scared young doctor who had taken over from Carson all those years ago.

John recoiled when he reached the body only to find a slab of wall where the man's head should have been, feeling guilty when relief washed over him; it wasn't Rodney.

"Rawlenstein," he murmured, and panned the flashlight across the rest of the laboratory.

The light reflected back from the cracked glass of a tablet similar to the one Rodney often carried, and as the light moved on, he caught sight of dark material, working his way up the body to the face.

"Rodney," he breathed fearfully, and made his way towards him cautiously with Jennifer just a step or two behind him. There was nothing either of them could do for Rawlenstein.

Keeping the light on Rodney, John crouched down beside him, leaving enough room for Jennifer. He reached out and placed two fingers against the pulse point, letting out a breath he wasn't aware of holding when he felt the thready pulse beneath warm skin. Letting Jennifer set to work on her patient, John began to carefully clear away some of the debris surrounding Rodney, looking up when Ronon and another medic reached them.

Aware that they would only get in the way, John stepped back with Ronon, and watched as a third medic joined Jennifer. He felt useless as they prepared to move Rodney but didn't want to take his eyes off him in case Rodney slipped away, willing him to stay alive.

Behind him he could hear others uncovering Rawlenstein, and he glanced over in time to see them zip the man into a body bag, not needing to take as much care with the dead as Jennifer was taking with the living - with Rodney.

An ominous creaking made John look up in concern, his flashlight bouncing off what remained of the damaged walls and ceiling. He licked his lips, tasting dust, and mentally hurried Jennifer along, following behind quickly as Rodney was placed on a backboard and carried out. By now the door was open wide enough for them to pass through without jostling Rodney too much. Once outside the room, John froze. Part of him desperately wanted to follow Rodney to the infirmary but duty called to him too.

He was spared the decision when Radek stepped in front of him.

"Go with Rodney! Structural repairs are my responsibility."

John nodded his thanks and headed off towards the infirmary at a jog. A nurse barred his way from following Rodney, and John could only clench his fists as he watched the blurry activity beyond the ornate, translucent glass of the door. A light touch on his arm drew his eyes away.

"Let me see to your hands."

John blinked at the male nurse, picking up the name from the tag on the man's white uniform - Odesky. He nodded and let Odesky lead him to the closest bed, sitting on the edge and holding his hands out. The pain he had forced to the back of his mind became sharper and his gritted his teeth as Odesky cleaned out the cuts and abrasions, grateful for the numbing salve applied before the bandages. All taped up, he flexed his hands to check out how much movement Odesky had allowed and nodded his thanks.

Jennifer came out a few minutes later.

"He's going to be fine. Has a hard head, our Rodney," she stated with a closed smile. "We're keeping him in under observation for a few days."

"He won't like that."

"He won't be given a choice!" She reached out and her small hand clasped John's forearm above the bandages, eyes turning serious. "Don't waste any more time, John."

John swallowed hard, brutally pushing down the automatic denial that rose in his throat, and he nodded tightly. Jennifer gave him a wistful smile as she patted his arm.

"He's sleeping... but you can go check on him. A few minutes only."

He nodded again, licking dry lips anxiously as he followed Jennifer through the door to Rodney's bedside. He drank in the sight of Rodney, noting the stark white bandages and cast against pale skin. Smaller cuts and scrapes stood out among the darkening bruises but John knew they would all heal quickly. Rodney had been lucky. If he'd been standing next to Rawlenstein at the time of the explosion then they would have carried out two bodies in zipped up bags.

True to her word, Jennifer allowed him only a few minutes before he was ordered away.

****

Rodney came round to the all-too familiar beeping of medical monitors for a second time. He cracked his eyes open slowly, squeezing them shut tight and moaning a little as the light stabbed into his eyes. Disjointed memories flooded back, remembering admonishing Rawlenstein for banging impatiently on the access panel when it didn't release smoothly.

"Oh how stupid of me! Why use a purpose-built tool to pull open the panel on the fragile, ten thousand-year-old technology when your fist will do instead," he had snarked in annoyance, glaring down Rawlenstein.

Rawlenstein had muttered some obscenity under his breath, and Rodney had looked back up in time to see him stab a metal screwdriver into the mess of optic wires rather than use the plastic tool designed by him and Radek for the job.

A shadow fell over Rodney, breaking him from his hazy memory of the explosion; of being swept backwards off his feet, and slamming into the wall console behind him. He forced open bleary eyes again, recalling John had been with him when he awoke last time, and learning that Rawlenstein was dead.

"John?" His throat felt rough and dry, and he was grateful for the sip of water from the glass held out to him.

"I'll let Colonel Sheppard know you're awake again... once I've checked you over."

Rodney submitted to the usual torture begrudgingly, wincing as a light was flicked over each eye to check pupil reaction, and his blood pressure and heart rate were checked. He ached all over, knowing he had fared worse than the last time, when Michael's building had collapsed on top of them while they searched for Teyla. At least John hadn't been caught in the explosion this time around, recalling how he had refused to give into the mind-numbing fear that he had lost John.

When Jennifer gave her reasons for breaking up with him, he had been so confused at first, and yet deep down he had known all along that she had been referring to John. Since then it had become harder to keep those feelings buried inside, pretending to be oblivious to how he felt about John rather than risk losing his best friend. If he was brutally honest with himself then he could admit that these feelings were nothing new, and that he had wanted so much more from John than friendship for a long time.

Jennifer had figured it out, and he was almost certain that Teyla knew as well - judging by the cryptic remarks that suddenly made sense.

"Hey, buddy."

Rodney blinked in surprise and turned towards the door, seeing the object of his thoughts leaning against the wall.

"How long have you...?"

Rodney winced and sighed, almost hating the way John always managed to sneak up on him unawares for fear that John would catch him with his guard fully down one of these days and figure out everything that Rodney was hiding. He rolled his eyes in annoyance at the tiny smirk that lifted the corners of John's sexy mouth and crinkled the skin around his beautiful hazel eyes.

Rodney struggled to sit up, hissing in pain as he pulled on his ribs and sore arm. He tensed momentarily as John came forward and wrapped his arm around Rodney, supporting him as he found a more comfortable position. Rodney leaned into John, resting his head against John's neck and cheek as he waited for the pain to abate. He wrapped his right arm around John's back, leaving his heavy, casted left arm resting on John's lap. John's arm stayed around him, holding him close.

"Maybe you should lie back..."

"No. Just... No. This is actually quite comfortable," Rodney remarked, not wanting to give up this closeness so soon, especially as he could feel no uneasy tension in John's body. He closed his eyes, concentrating on John's warmth and the rise and fall of John's chest as he breathed easily. Slowly the sharpness of pain dulled to an ache and Rodney found himself drifting. He blinked open his eyes when he felt a feather-light brush of lips against his temple when John moved his head just a fraction.

"Rodney," John whispered, and this time the brush of lips was less tentative.

Rodney turned his face, angling up so the next kiss touched his lips, soft and gentle. He felt John take a ragged breath before kissing him again, firmer, more confident, and Rodney parted his lips to deepen the kiss, humming in pleasure at the taste and touch. When they eventually parted, his lips were tingling.

"Hey," John breathed softly.

"John?"

John leaned in and kissed him gently, pulling back almost immediately; his face scrunched up. "We can talk about this later... maybe."

Rodney snorted, all too aware of how that would go if they ever tried. Neither of them was that good with the emotional, touchy-feely stuff.

"Or not," he replied, making sure John didn't take his words the wrong way by drawing him down into another kiss.

"Or not," John echoed.

As the arms tightened around him, Rodney leaned into John, comforted by his strength and presence. When someone walked in on them a short time later, he smiled, happy and content for their future when John held him closer still, refusing to let him go.

END

Date: 2012-12-17 06:24 am (UTC)
ext_442067: (adorkable)
From: [identity profile] squidgiepdx.livejournal.com
That was incredibly wonderful. But poor Rodney... At least John's there to get him through it, though!

Well done.

Re: Momentary Distraction

Date: 2013-01-07 04:27 pm (UTC)
tarlanx: (McShep - Xmas2007 anim)
From: [personal profile] tarlanx
Thank you :) Poor John was going frantic with worry!

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