Title: Meaningful Numbers
Fandom: Pairing: Stargate Atlantis: Slightly John/Rodney, mostly teamfic
Concrit: darkhavens @ slashverse.com. If you spot a typo, please feel free to tell me in comments. I want you to!
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Summary: "...the lush lower curves of Rodney's ass are screaming out to be decorated with Pi - he knows Rodney would appreciate the punnish humor."
Notes: Written over several days for mini_wrimo and also because someone somewhere, ages ago, made a post asking for John writing on Rodney and the idea lingered. Posted for mini_wrimo day 26. (+267 words today, none yesterday.)
This time, when they bring him back, he's naked and jittery, wet-eyed and all folded in on himself. He looks broken.
John is off the bed and across the room, gun in hand, jaw tight and eyes burning black and angry without even being aware he's told his feet to move. Teyla appears at his side, one hand settling on his arm while the other rests gently on her own weapon.
Standing just behind Rodney, Ronon half shrugs, the other shoulder heaped with the clothes and gear that Rodney is not wearing.
"He came out of it like this. They took the robes back and tried to get him dressed and he got… twitchy, uncooperative. He wouldn't say a thing or look me in the eye. There's not a mark on him, he just won't… connect."
John had already taken a visual assessment, checking for marks, bruises, cuts, abrasions, any tiny sign that someone had laid their priestly hands where they shouldn't be, but he's still pathetically grateful to hear Ronon's assurances.
"You must help him reconnect."
The hushed words draw the team's attention to the tiny wizened priest, Arael - the oldest living person on the planet and, as such, a priceless treasure to his people.
"He is adrift now he's no longer a part of our order again. We feared this would come to pass."
As he speaks, Arael carefully lays a fragile-boned hand on Rodney's arm and leads him over to the bed, directing him by touch to lie down on his belly.
Rodney obeys with unnerving passivity.
"Each time he sheds his unity with you to join with us, and then also breaks those vows to return to you, he has to fight to rediscover his connection with the Lanteans. Our rituals are meant to welcome him, to help him adjust to being one of us. These past months I have witnessed no such attempts by you to do the same when he returns. Forgive me if I speak wrongly, but he would be much aided by your touch and acceptance. Connection brings connection. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - they are all intertwined and reliant on one another. Unity is key."
John feels each 'you' is aimed directly at him. Though Arael's gaze is clear and totally free of blame, John feels as though he's being chastised by a parent for not doing his chores. It's unnerving. He wonders what Arael has learned from spending each three day visit in their temporary home - a willing and insistent hostage, meant to reassure the team of Rodney's continued safety within the sacred boundaries of the temple, a partially decayed Ancient outpost.
A sharp nod from Arael has another priest stepping forward bearing a tray of shallow dishes filled with brightly colored paints and dark toned inks.
"Over time, we have found this to be the simplest, most efficient way to help the lost return. Use the colors to paint images that have meaning for you, ink and quill to share those texts that give your lives meaning. Each touch will bring his spirit closer to your own; each stroke will help him focus."
The priests exit as silently as they came, leaving John in the center of a fog of awkward silence.
Teyla is the first to move, sinking gracefully to her knees to one side of the bed. She cradles Rodney's right hand in her left and then chooses a brush, loads it up with deep, rich blue and swirls a large circle onto his palm. She's finished filling it in before John reacts.
"So… we're, uh… We're actually going to do this?"
Ronon bumps him out of the way, grabs a pot of ink and a couple of brushes.
"I can carry him back the way he is, if you want. It wouldn't be the first time."
Despite his words, Ronon moves around to the other side of the bed, folds himself to the floor and takes up Rodney's left hand with intent. John blinks.
"O-kay." He shrugs. "He'd just bitch about everyone seeing his pasty white ass again anyway, right?" John pretends he doesn't hear Ronon's snort, that he doesn't see the tiny smile on Teyla's studious face. Then he looks back at Rodney and sees the broad stretch of shoulders, the long sweep of his back and the dip at the base of his spine and…
He can't draw for shit, everyone who's ever seen his stick figure doodles knows he's not an artist and he's pretty sure Rodney wouldn't appreciate wearing misquoted fragments of War and Peace. But he does know math and Rodney does love numbers.
The quill feels odd in his hand. He's used to the sleek rigidity of USAF-issued plastic pens and mechanical pencils, not the rough flexibility of a cut-down feather. A couple of scratchy practice strokes on his own forearm make him change his mind and swap it out for a fine-haired brush. Rodney's going to be unhappy enough about the whole naked, messy and insensible thing, without the additional irritation of multiple scratch marks and the 'threat' of blood poisoning.
He starts simple, with a double line of primes - sexy primes, that he hopes nobody recognises or reads out to Rodney once he's himself again - marching down the length of his spine from nape to coccyx. John lets them dry for a moment while he thinks about what to write next, and takes a look at what Teyla and Ronon are doing to Rodney's lax hands.
Teyla has added light swirls of white to the blue on Rodney's right palm and is now carefully inking in the basic outline of Atlantis as it's so often flashing up on screens in various parts of the city.
Ronon is laying down lines of small spidery symbols - Satedan script - along each of Rodney's fingers, muttering softly all the while. It takes John a moment to recognise that he's hearing Ronon's maternal lineage, something Ronon's told him all Satedan children memorise long before they learn to read and write.
Curiosity satisfied, John turns back to his task of 'connecting' with Rodney, and decides that the lush lower curves of Rodney's ass are screaming out to be decorated with Pi - he knows Rodney would appreciate the punnish humor.
With careful brushstrokes and a little judicious stretching of the 'canvas', he manages to write out Pi to 57 decimal places, by which time he's aroused and also hungry.
He's just finished decorating the broad span of Rodney's shoulders with the algebraic formula for the Golden Ratio when Rodney finally moves, turning his head to glare at John out of the eye that's not now squashed against the grass-filled mattress.
"Why am I naked? Did something go wrong with the shield repairs? Was I injured? I… Is everyone else okay?"
Rodney's flailing about as he works himself up into a frenzy, trying to turn over and sit up and do who knows what else, all at once. John reaches out in self defence and tugs him over onto his back, his hip and thigh pressing up against John's bent knees. John tries not to notice that Rodney's dick is half hard, curved up towards his belly.
"Calm down, buddy, you're fine. You were just a little out of it after the priests did their 'You're no longer one of us' Jedi mind trick. Apparently we were supposed to help you reconnect by… ah… touching you, after every session. They finally mentioned it when they brought you back twitching and drooling and refusing to let anybody help you get dressed."
John leers comically and Rodney rolls his eyes and reaches out to pull the sheet across to cover his nakedness. Any embarrassment at being on display to people who’ve seen it all before anyway is forgotten when he sees his palm.
"What the… Is… Is that Atlantis?" He stares at the still damp miniature for a moment and then grins, delighted. "I hold Atlantis in the palm of my hand. That's very perceptive of you, Teyla."
There follows a questions and answers session where Rodney makes Ronon explain exactly what he's written and on which finger. Five minutes later, after Rodney has dragged his uniform back on, covering up John's math with barely a pause and a 'We'll talk about this later' glare, Ronon is badgered into repeating everything all over again - to reassure Rodney that he wasn't making it up the first time.
"Huh. Yes, that… that sounds right." Rodney squints at the un-smudged lettering and scowls. "Did anyone think to ask if this stuff washes off?"
mini_nanowrimo running total: 11231 words, in 26 days