darkhavens (darkhavens) wrote,

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'Decisions', McKay/Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis, NC-17/Adult

Author: darkhavens
Title: Decisions
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: Nc-17/Adult
Words: 6000+
Feedback/Concrit: darkhavens @ slashverse.com
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Summary: Four drugs, four team mates, four choices.
AN1: Written for slashfest - here. (Very very late, very very sorry.)
Challenge: Stargate Atlantis + John/Rodney: First Time, Aliens made them do it. [Request by forcryinoutloud]
AN2: Apologies for taking so much longer than expected. Every time I thought I had the whole thing nailed I'd think of something John would have considered or Rodney might have said and the whole thing would shift on me and I'd have to rewrite. So, I'm posting now before it has another chance.
ETA: Beta: kitty_poker1, who went above and beyond the call of duty to work on this tonight.


The food laid on by the people of Palathea - the planet otherwise know as P3X-527 - was exquisite. Delicately spiced chunks of soft, tender meat, that seemed to melt the instant it hit your tongue, made John's heart beat faster. Crunchy textured vegetables, in hues of blue and green, nestled in a creamy, buttery sauce of opalescent pink.

John did his best to ignore the colour and enjoy the flavours. He was in gastronomic heaven, but he couldn't quite relax. The food was great, the preliminary trade negotiations had gone smoothly and no one had asked McKay to teach them how to build a bomb. He was waiting for trouble.

It came after dinner.

Greylin raised his glass in one final toast as the table was cleared, showering his guests with blessings for much good trade and simple, Wraith-free lives. Then he dropped the bomb.

"Only one small task remains before we seal our bargain - you must endure the K'Hom el Shahar."

"That can't be good." Rodney frowned at John's suppressive scowl. "What? It's not as if we weren't all waiting for something like this. Pardon me if I tend to get unnerved by the word 'endure'. It doesn't exactly bring to mind images of fun and frolics. 'Endure' usually means pain and suffering and spilled blood. Not exactly something I look forward to."

"Rodney, just… Don't, okay? Let's just wait and see. There's been nothing to make us think these people want to do us harm, and they didn't insist we give up any weapons so we're all still armed. If anything goes wrong we follow standard procedure - we all know that the 'gate is back that way, right?"

Rodney nudged John's pointing finger ninety degrees to the right and rolled his eyes as John forced a smile.

Teyla leaned forward.

"Colonel Sheppard, were you not listening in the briefing room when I mentioned the test of trust the Palatheans use to assess their trading partners? Several of my people have been tested and passed, and no harm has ever come to them. They were honour-bound not to share the secrets of the test, but I do not think we have anything to fear."

Keeping his face carefully blank, John tried to recall the details of the meeting. He knew that if Teyla had brought up anything that might have been a problem, his internal sensors would have kicked in and grabbed his attention. As it was, all he could remember was watching Rodney multitask - coffee in one hand, the fingers of the other blurred in motion over a datapad while, between sips, he'd kept up an almost sub-vocal stream-of-consciousness chatter about coffee, breakfast, unresponsive Ancient tech, alien bonding exercises and uncomfortable underwear. John tried to focus.

"Okay, so, no immediate danger. I guess we just have to 'endure'. Up and at 'em, Rodney."


The room they were led to was blandly beige and almost entirely empty. A handful of padded mats were scattered randomly across the floor, and a heap of pillows in muted tones spread out from one corner.

"If ever there was a place that needed an extreme makeover…"

John's elbow in Rodney's ribs shut him up with a yelp. Greylin smiled vaguely and took John's arm.

"Your associates will remain here, but you must come with me."

The team closed ranks and faced the man as one.

"No deal. Whatever this 'Shahar' thing is, we'll face it as a team. That's just the way it has to be." John punctuated his all-for-one speech with a nod that said 'that's my final word'. It wasn't.

"Of course, Colonel Sheppard, we expect no less, but as leader you must make the final choices. Come now, the sooner you are gone the sooner you return. The K'Hom el Shahar has already begun."

Ignoring Rodney's doleful muttering, John allowed Greylin to lead him from the room and down the hall to another. This one contained a table, a single chair and four differently tinted glasses - yellow, red, blue and white - all full, resting on a silvery oval platter.

"Sit, please. Be comfortable, Colonel Sheppard." Greylin waited until John settled down and then approached the table.

"This is where you decide the temporary fates of your team members. You alone must decide who consumes the contents of each glass, and each must do so without knowing what it is they drink. Now, listen well, for I am only allowed to say this once. Interrupt and that will bring an end to the trial."

Greylin accepted John's nod with a small, formal bow, clasped his hands and began to recite the words he had obviously memorised.

"Each glass contains a different kind of drug, nothing very harmful. The yellow holds a pain inducer - muscle cramps and nausea, an unrelenting throbbing of the brain and random joints occurs. Occasionally, the one who takes this dose loses all control and curls up on the floor and screams for mercy, but that's very rare."

John swallowed hard and arched an eyebrow. Greylin moved right on.

"The blue is a sleeping draught, nothing more than that. The one who swallows it will be unconscious within moments. Nothing then will wake them until the drug wears off - that's usually half a normal sleep, more or less.

"The red is a powerful tincture - a disinhibitor and aphrodisiac, all in one. The person who consumes this will obey his lower urges; he'll follow every impulse that is usually suppressed."

John frowned. Greylin carried on, looking rather grateful to be on the home stretch.

"The last glass, the clear one - its contents are quite special. It works to stop memories from forming. Swallow this and everything from then until you wake again is stricken from your mind as though it never had occurred."

Greylin noticed John's wary expression and smiled slightly.

"It truly is a powerful tool, and one we do not share lightly. If you pass the test we can talk more on it, if you wish."

There was a moment's awkward silence and then Greylin shook his head.

"My apologies, Colonel Sheppard. My part is now complete. You may speak or keep your own counsel while you make your choices."

John stood, knocking the chair backwards as he rose, ignoring the clatter it made as it hit the stone tiled floor. He was livid.

"You actually expect me to drug my own people without telling them what it is they're taking? No deal! There's no way I would ever make them do something like that."

Greylin held out both hands in a calming gesture that didn't seem to have the desired effect. He took a small step back.

"Force is not meant to be a part of this scenario, Colonel Sheppard. We need to see how your team reacts to taking orders. Do they trust you not to do them harm for your own gain? Do you have their loyalty, their faith? How they react is part of the K'Hom el Shahar, just as much a part as your decisions here."

The fragile, long-stemmed glasses threw off diamond shards of light as John stared blindly at their contents.

"I…" He shook his head. "I won't be a party to drugging them without their permission. That's not the way we do things."

The look of horror on Greylin's face was quite sincere.

"That was never… Oh, my, I truly am sorry. This is my first time administering the K'Hom el Shahar. I apologise for not explaining properly. My deepest sorrow." He shuffled forward.

"You alone must choose which team member receives which glass, but only they can make the decision to drink. They have to make that choice based only on what they know of you. If any one refuses, the K'Hom el Shahar is deemed void. If that happens, your people may send another team through to try again. Of course, the choice they face will not be the same. The K'Hom el Shahar is made up of many different possibilities - the draughts received are chosen by the Council of Elders after careful study."

Greylin sighed at the look of consternation on John's face.

"We are a fair people, Colonel Sheppard, and open to trade, but the K'Hom el Shahar is a necessary hurdle for our trading partners. It has been so for many generations - a protection, if you will, against those who would seek to do us harm. Please, allow yourself to choose, and allow your team members the honour of proving how much they trust you."

John was torn. The Daedalus could only carry so much food and all of it had to be freeze-dried, powdered or otherwise preserved to make the trip. The Palatheans were offering some of the best food in the galaxy, and all John had to do was…

"Teyla said you traded with her people for years. She never mentioned anything about aphrodisiacs or memory wipes."

Greylin nodded rapidly, possibly seeing a way to get the whole thing moving faster.

"Perhaps neither selection was put before their leader, but even if it was so, she would not know. The Athosians are a wise people. They understand the need for sharing only what is necessary. I hope that, in the future, your people will understand the same and keep the secret of the K'Hom el Shahar. Only the first-footers ever know the whole truth, those that come after have no need. Once your team has completed the K'Hom el Shahar, your people may trade freely on our planet."

John tapped a random beat on the table as he considered the possibility of unexpected dangers.

"What if one of my team has a bad allergic reaction? Do you have medics available to provide assistance?"

Greylin reached into his robe and withdrew a drawstring bag, opening it to reveal four small glass vials in familiar colours.

"For every drug we use there is a countermeasure, Colonel Sheppard. We truly have no wish to cause harm. At the first sign of any untoward reaction, I will administer the remedy and then call the healer. He will see if anything else needs to be done."

Somewhat mollified, John sat back and gazed at the wall, mentally running outcomes and scenarios at lightning speed until he hit on the one that seemed least likely to go wrong.

"Me, Teyla, McKay and Ronon."

John tapped the rim of each glass in turn and grinned at Greylin's obvious surprise.

"You're… sure about your choices, Colonel Sheppard?"

John nodded, and Greylin bowed deeply at the waist before picking up the platter that held the glasses.

"Most unusual, I'm sure the Elders will agree. Now come. We're free to return to the others and continue the K'Hom el Shahar in their presence."


When Greylin opened the door, John saw Teyla, Ronon and Rodney huddled in a corner next to a pile of their gear. Rodney was obviously trying to come up with a 'rescue' plan while Teyla was the unheard voice of reason. Ronon looked amused.

"Hey, guys. Did ya miss me?"

Teyla smiled her usual patient smile, which spoke volumes, Ronon grunted something that might have been 'See?', and Rodney covered up his concern with the usual flap and bluster.

"Have a nice time playing footsie with the natives, did we? Please, tell me you didn't do anything stupid while we were waiting, like trade man mountain here for a hundred head of cattle, or whatever beast that almost-beef-but-better was carved from." He 'hmm'ed and gave an excited little bounce. "On the other hand," - Rodney turned an insane smile on Greylin - "how many of those creatures would you give us for the dreadlocked one? He could probably do their work in half the time - are they beasts of burden? Never mind, I don't really care, just curious. That really was a most delicious meal - I could live on that. Well, that and coffee. Ooh, I wonder -"


As usual, when Rodney wasn't given enough to do his brain slipped into overdrive and bounced between ideas. It never failed to amuse John how Rodney could entertain himself, hypothesizing, proving then destroying his own arguments. Feed him a piece of trivia and he was off like a hound on a rabbit's tail, equally noisy and almost as impossible to stop.

"What? I was only saying…"

"Believe me, McKay, we all heard you. And no, there'll be no trading of team members for mystery meat, no matter how good it would taste on a sandwich with a dab of mustard and a pickle or two."

Rodney's eyes glazed.

"Not now, McKay! You can dream up recipes later when this whole thing's done but, right now, I need your full attention. See the tray our friend here is holding for us? It's part of the K'hom el Shahar. Every glass contains something different. Rodney, the red glass is yours, so drink up. I'm not allowed to tell you what's in it, but you trust me, right?"

To John's complete astonishment, Rodney tossed the liquid back without voicing a single qualm; in fact with barely even a sniff.

"What…? Dammit, McKay! What the hell were you thinking, doing something as crazy as that?"

Rodney frowned down at the glass in his hand before turning worried eyes on John.

"It wasn't some kind of mind-altering poison, was it? Because, just before you came back, Teyla assured me we were quite safe. She's never even found a hint of citrus on this planet." He blanched. "It wasn't poison, was it?"

"No, Rodney, it wasn't poison. Though you'll probably wish it was before we're through but, hey, too late now!"

Horrified, John realised he had actually been relying on Rodney to turn his nose up at the whole idea. The thought of drinking anything that was some sort of 'test' should surely have sent him off on a rant. He wondered what his assumptions said about him, and Rodney, but right now, he didn't have the time for revelations.

Between one stunned blink and the next, synapses firing wildly, John rearranged his whole plan from 'Rodney won't…' to 'Time for damage control'. He could only hope the choices he'd made wouldn't backfire on them spectacularly, and thanked every deity known to man that he'd actually thought it through and assigned the drugs the best way he knew how.

Ignoring Rodney's sputtering demands to know what he'd just swallowed, John turned his attention to the rest of his team.

"Teyla, yours is the blue one - I'd suggest you sit down first. Ronon, you've got yellow. This one's mine."

John tossed his drug of choice back quickly, grimacing at the bitter under-taste. He watched as the others did the same and then turned to Greylin, who was smiling at them all.

"Most admirable. And now I must take my place in the viewing chamber. I will return when the K'Hom el Shahar is complete. Please do not attempt to leave the room or you will break faith and the K'Hom el Shahar will be declared void."

With one final bow, steadfastly ignoring McKay's demands for more information, Greylin backed out of the room and closed the door. At the sound of the key turning in the lock, Rodney fell silent. For a moment.



"Yes, yes, whatever. Colonel, may I ask what exactly it was I just swallowed? Your reaction, needless to say, has me worried. You asked if I trusted you, I proved that I did, and then you… Well, you acted as if I shouldn't have. That's very unnerving, and I…" Rodney blinked, squinted at John and then shook his head. "Hmmm, that's… very odd. I seem to be… Oh, wow!"

The last was uttered as John turned away to deal with Teyla and Ronon, and John ignored the whispered 'Oh, hot, yes! Very hot!' as he grabbed a couple of pillows off the heap in the corner and moved to where his other team members had settled.

Teyla was seated on one of the padded floor mats, leaning back against the wall, while Ronon stood over her as though on guard. John smiled crookedly and offered up the pillows.

"You should make yourself comfortable, Teyla. This might take a while."

Teyla nodded slowly, slightly puzzled but, as always, trusting John to know what must be done, or seeming to.

Then John turned to Ronon.

"Whatever happens, I want you to make sure that Teyla's safe, but I don't want anybody hurt more than they have to be."

Ronon frowned and reached back to touch his sword hilt. John sighed.

"No weapons, Ronon. Just don't let McKay get near her. I'll do my best to keep him on the other side of the room, but you know he can be a determined little bastard when he wants to be."

Great, now Ronon's eyebrows were practically in his hairline.

"Look, it all comes back to those pretty little glasses. Rodney's going to be rather - frisky, for a while. And, ah, sorry for… Oh, you'll figure it out. Just look after Teyla and -"

They both paused as Teyla slumped sideways, unconscious, landing with a barely muffled thud. Ronon knelt and swiftly arranged her comfortably on the mat and pillows, throwing a brusque nod in John's direction to show he understood.

With a sigh, John started back across the room towards Rodney, slowing as Rodney's fervent gaze roved from head to toe and back.


Suddenly John wondered if he'd somehow got things wrong. He'd always thought that Rodney was straight.

Sure, he'd seen the scientist checking out Ronon's ass a time or two, but then it really was an amazing ass, so who could blame him? And wasn't he always lusting over SG-1's Major Carter on the rare occasions he'd had the time to kick back and sink a few? A glass or two of Athosian ale was usually all it took to get Rodney reminiscing about his earth-bound major. He'd ramble on about how he wanted a breasty, brainy blonde, then make a vague excuse and stumble off to his bed. And then there was the Katie Brown thing, though that had bombed…

John blinked and realised Rodney was still staring.


"You… Wow. Major…"


"John. You don't mind if I call you 'John', do you?"

Rodney prowled closer and John's response was lost as his brain stumbled over the unexpected image of sexual-predator Rodney.

Oh, this wasn't going to plan at all.

"You know, that baggy pants thing really works for you. It makes me want to see how easily they'll slip right off."

John edged backwards as Rodney moved closer, too stunned to notice where he was being herded until too late. His boot caught on something soft and then he was tumbling backwards, landing in a sprawl amidst the soft, pale pillows.

Rodney smiled a hungry smile.

"Of course, I'd have to unbuckle that thigh strap first. You know it accentuates your cock, right? I've imagined unfastening it with my teeth but that would take too long. Maybe when we've got more time to spare, hmmm?"


John tore his gaze away from Rodney and levered himself up on one elbow to look across the room at Ronon.

The Satedan was sweating and holding his gut, obviously in pain, but his attention seemed to be fixed on Rodney.

"You need any help?"

John shook his head. Maybe Rodney was fixated on him for the moment, but if Ronon interfered he might transfer his lust to Teyla. Unconscious, she was a much too soft target. He'd take his chances, not that he thought he'd have any trouble fighting Rodney off, if it came to that.

"No, thanks. You keep an eye on Teyla. I'm sorry for the -"

"I've had worse." Ronon's expression didn't invite questions. "If you need any help with him, call out."

Turning his back - for privacy's sake? - Ronon settled down near Teyla's head and started breathing rhythmically. John vaguely recognised it as part of Teyla's meditation training, though personally he'd never got the hang of it.

Hands high on his thigh yanked his focus back to Rodney, who now knelt between John's splayed legs, unbuckling the thigh strap of his holster.

"Rodney, I really don't think you want to -"

"You've no idea. You really have no idea how long I've wanted this, have you? From the moment you sat your skinny Air Force ass down in that chair, I haven't been able to get you out of my head. And that's been so annoying, let me tell you."

Fingers worked busily - too busily - near John's groin, teasing apart the thin strips of leather as Rodney spoke his mind.

"Everywhere I looked, there you were, with a sexy smirk, one of your black tee-shirts and these baggy pants."

A tug had them slipping down an inch, exposing underwear. "Hmm, blue pinstripe. I haven't seen those for a while. I'm pretty sure I've seen just about every pair you own. Another reason I really like these pants."

With a flourish, Rodney let the thigh straps fall open, transferring his attention to John's belt. Reflexively, John grabbed hold of Rodney's hands as they touched down and squeezed until his finger bones ground together.

"Ow! Ow! And did I mention ow? Why have you suddenly reverted to caveman tactics? A simple 'Slow down, Rawd-nee, let's take our time,' would have been quite sufficient, I assure you."

John opened his mouth, ready to deny that had been his intent, but Rodney barrelled on relentlessly.

"Not that I don't occasionally like it rough, because I do, but I thought our first time should be gentler, eh?"

John boggled.

"I wasn't… Didn't… Rodney, I can't -"

"I know, I know, you're in the military and that can make things difficult, but really, we're in another galaxy, and Caldwell's cool. He's been getting blowjobs off Hermiod for months. Apparently, Greys really have researched human anatomy."

John's brain twitched and tried to hide from the mental images that Rodney's words induced.

"You probably shouldn't mention that to Hermiod, or Caldwell. The - the blowjob or the thing about anatomy. Is that still classified? Oh, and don't worry, Elizabeth's fine with it. She already thinks we're fucking. In fact, I think she thinks that's why you haven't killed me - yet."

Rodney wiggled his fingers in John's tight grasp.

"Still being crushed here, not a good pain. If you damage my fingers permanently, we're all pretty much screwed. Fixing up my city takes skill and a deft touch. There's only room on this mission for one Fumbles McStupid and Zelenka earned the title, fair and square. Let go, please!"

John let go immediately and watched as Rodney carefully examined every inch of skin, prodding at the joints as if they might explode at any second.

"Hmmm, thank you." He smiled crookedly. "Now, where were we?"

Trying to slow things down, John reached up and grabbed Rodney's shoulders. With a swift tug, he tumbled the horny scientist into the cushions, rolling them both so they lay face to face.

"We were slowing down."

"We were? Oh. Okay, I can work with that. Damn, you know, you really are hot."

John squirmed a little under Rodney's laser-sharp study.

"You make my nipples hard. You wouldn't believe the chafing you've caused, just being you. It's a good thing I'm not the type to get embarrassed easily, or I'd never be able to spend any time with you without turning all shades of pink."

John's eyes dropped to Rodney's very perky nipples and he swallowed a groan. He'd noticed - who wouldn't? - and he'd wondered, and now he knew. The fact that he was responsible was boggling, not to mention an amazing ego boost.

"It's all down to me, huh?"

Rodney nodded, then tilted his head, considering.

"Well, maybe not every time. Atlantis can get chilly, you know - all that sea breeze. But if you're in the room, you can bet that you're a contributing factor. Look at them now; it's lovely and warm in here but there they are, trying to rub their way out through my shirt. I could get friction burns!"

There was a flurry of limbs, during which John had to duck to avoid an elbow, and then Rodney was beaming, naked to the waist, and much much closer.

"That's better. So, um… I want to kiss you."

John froze as Rodney hovered close for a moment, obviously waiting for some kind of signal. He blinked, and Rodney took that as 'Yes, please kiss me!', and John wasn't entirely sure that that wasn't what he'd meant.

Rodney's crooked lips fit perfectly over his, warm and moist and, oh, so very focussed. John's bottom lip was trapped between hard, blunt teeth and nibbled until he had to gasp for breath.

He managed one quick gasp before Rodney took advantage, tongue darting into John's mouth to take control, and that was where John completely lost it.

Hands, callused and hard from handling a P-90, moved to cradle Rodney's head and hip and drew him closer, groin bumping gently against groin. John groaned.

Rodney hummed and burrowed closer, curling one leg up over John's thigh and pushing in.

"Oh, oh yes, this is… Wow!"

Rodney reclaimed John's mouth and let his hands roam free, carding through John's chest hair to find and tweak his nipples. John resisted the urge to do the same and left his hands in place.

As open, wet kisses were trailed down his neck and over the scar left by the Iratus bug, John reconsidered. A tiny voice in his head whispered of forgetting. The drug would wipe away the memories of what he did here, leaving him the opportunity for true denial.

A hasty glance showed that Ronon still faced the wall and that Teyla remained in a deep sleep, so they were safe enough. And he was pretty sure that Rodney would forgive him. Eventually. Maybe. Once John had been suitably punished. There was no way Rodney would press the issue after John made his feelings plain. Whatever happened now, it was for the good of the city, and Rodney would understand that it didn't mean -

Teeth closely tightly on one nipple through his shirt and John arched up - denial, orientation issues, wiped away in a split-second flash of pleasure-pain. Oh, he was definitely doing this.

Rodney gave a high-pitched whine as John's hands left his skin, and then hummed with pleasure as they returned immediately to thumb his nipples.

"Yes! Please, yes! Oh, that's… Oh!"

In one smooth move, John pushed Rodney onto his back and dropped down on top of him, straddling one thigh. The pressure against his cock was sublime and Rodney must have felt the same, the way he arched beneath the weight and held on tight.

"Oh, oh, that's… Yes! More!"

Hastily, John unzipped them both and tugged their hot flesh free, suspiciously un-freaked by the reality of his hand on another man's proudly erect cock. He was doing this.

Sliding his knee higher between Rodney's thighs, John sought and found decent purchase amongst the pillows. Once in position, he used the better angle to start a slow, insistent grind, hands hooked beneath Rodney's shoulder to hold him steady.

Rodney's hands fluttered over John's back as he begged for more - faster, harder, please, fuck, now! - until they finally settled, one on John's ass, the other in his hair. Then they clamped down and Rodney held on for the ride, broken pleas and curses pouring out, interspersed with suggestions of what they could do next.

The kinky, dirty, downright filthy words that fell from Rodney's mouth only served to crank John's fever higher. In response, the pace of his already frantic thrusts increased, cock rubbing hard against cock.

In one small corner of his mind John knew that this was going to hurt like a bitch once they were done, that there should be some kind of lubrication involved to ease the friction, but he couldn't bear the thought of stopping to dig out Rodney's sunscreen, and Rodney would probably kill him if he tried.

"Now! Now, yes! Fuck, yesss, please, John… Oh!"

Rodney came, vocalising sounds that shivered through John's balls, sending him over the edge as Rodney's semen slicked their stomachs. John's back cracked as his hips jerked twice and then twice more, and then he slumped, sated and exhausted onto Rodney's chest.

"That was… Wow!"

Then John slept.



The sound of his name in Ronon's growling tone brought John back to consciousness, just in time to see the door to their room swing open. Greylin entered, followed by another blue-robed Palathean who was carefully pushing a covered, wobbly trolley.

"Congratulations. You have successfully completed the K'Hom el Shahar. Janir has hot water and warm towels for your comfort. If any of you feel you need the skills of our healer, I can summon him immediately. Once you are refreshed you can meet with the Council of Elders and finalise the trade agreements you earlier discussed."

John sat up, realised his pants were undone, and dragged a beige cushion into his lap to hide his sticky flesh. Pants. Sticky flesh. John swallowed hard.

A look around the room showed him Teyla's bemused expression, Ronon's bizarrely expressive 'I didn't see nuthin' facial mask, and Rodney, pink-eared with embarrassment as he stood as far from John has he could get, hands knotted together.

And then John remembered.


A quick scrabble beneath the cushion to tuck, zip and button, and John was on his feet in front of Greylin.

"I wasn't supposed to remember, was I? I thought that was the point. Everything from the time I took the drug should be a blank. Dammit, that was why I -"

John ignored the shocked hiss of fury from Rodney's corner.

"That was why I did… what was necessary. I don’t understand why it didn't work."

Greylin sighed heavily and waved Janir out of the room, returning to pass hot towels to each team member before speaking.

"The K'Hom el Shahar tells us many things, not just how you treat your team but whether you trust them, and whether they, in turn, trust you. The combination you were given was based on the number and members of your team - one female, one military leader, one warrior, and… We confess to being slightly confused about Doctor McKay. We could not decide on a category for him - the loud one, maybe, or the smart one? We decided, by majority vote, that he was the one most likely to be punished, and that is how the Council came to their decision."

Rodney huffed but stayed out of the way in his corner so John ignored him.

"That still doesn't explain why I remember… everything. Did you switch the drugs?" A small spark of hope lit John's eyes. "Did you give me something else that made me -?"

"Dammit, Major - Colonel - John! I get it, okay? There's really no need to batter me over the head with the fact that you took one for the team under false pretences. Now, shut the fuck up and let us hear what the man in the dress has to say about why he didn't drug you like he did the rest of us!"

A heavy lump formed in John's gut as he studied Rodney's clenched jaw and white knuckles, and then Greylin was talking again, drawing his attention.

"What you did, Colonel Sheppard, was unexpected. It has been many generations since a team leader chose to take the memory draught, but it is considered a bold move. It shows immense trust in one's team members, no matter the reason you chose to take it."

John was getting frustrated, and more and more bothered by Rodney's tense neck muscles.

"That still doesn't explain -"

"My apologies, Colonel. On the rare occasion that a team leader chooses to take the memory draught, a substitute is provided - a simple bitter root sap. We found, many generations ago, that having a team leader with memory loss involved in negotiations was foolish. They are much too bothered by what they have forgotten, and find it impossible to focus on the terms of trade."

Rodney snorted, and threw his now cool towel onto the trolley, pointedly avoiding getting anywhere near John.

"You had to believe you were taking the draught or the K'Hom el Shahar would be void. We truly did not expect you to choose that path. In a team with a dynamic such as yours, the choices usually fall along very different lines."

Greylin turned to face each team member, one by one.

"The pain is normally visited on the one most likely to be punished; the aphrodisiac goes to the team leader. The memory draught is given to the female and the warrior is put to sleep. This is, sadly, the usual way of things. Your choices have the Elders very much enthused. I believe you will come out of the negotiations well."


The negotiations had gone well, even with Rodney refusing to acknowledge John's presence at the table or accept his hastily muttered apologies en route to the puddle jumper.

The debrief had been awkward, to say the least, though they'd skirted any potential minefields by sheer force of will. Ronon wasn't saying much, Teyla had nothing to say, and John and Rodney both wanted to keep certain things quiet.

In the end, Elizabeth went away unsatisfied, knowing that something serious had happened but not what. She knew about the drugs and, though she probably could guess, she had looked as though she didn't really want to.

John found he couldn't really blame her.

Too wired to sleep, he lay in bed and made the ceiling panels change colour, contemplating what might get him back on Rodney's good side. He really didn't want the supreme geek of Atlantis plotting to bring the world down on his head, but what could he do?

His bedroom door slid open and the geek himself strode in, and John could see that only sheer determination had carried the scientist this far.

"You jerk. Did you really think a pat on the head and a whispered 'I'm sorry, Rawd-nee,' was going to make me forgive you for acting like such a shit? You as good as said you only had sex with me because you didn't expect to remember it. Did you honestly think I'd let you get away with that, even if it was true?"

Something must have shown on John's face because Rodney's face turned red and an accusatory finger was thrust straight at John's chest.

"You did! What? You thought I'd be too embarrassed? Too mortified at having made a move on you while drugged? Honestly, as though that hasn't happened to me before. It just so happens that most of my finest hours have been… Yes. Well. That's… That's beside the point. The fact is, you were the one who had us rutting like dogs. I was planning on something more sedate, like a blowjob."

Rodney's eyes dropped to John's groin and the sheet twitched, and Rodney 'hmm'ed in gleeful satisfaction.

"Now, I'm not saying you'll never feel my mouth on you. That would be rather stupid, as we both know how long I've wanted you. But, if you want it, you're going to have to earn it."

The sheet twitched again under Rodney's stare, and he smiled crookedly.

"But I'm sure you can do it, if you really want to try."

John was still gaping, open-mouthed, when the door slid shut, leaving him alone with too-familiar words and an aching cock.

With not a little trepidation, he started making plans on how to 'earn' McKay's hot wet mouth on his cock. Some things were worth striving for, he thought, reaching down to take himself in hand. A way to keep Rodney quiet for more than a few seconds was definitely something worth his full attention.

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