By Chandri MacLeod

Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: John/Rodney
Categories: slash, angst, hurt/comfort
Warnings: none
Summary: Somehow, while it was happening, it hadn't seemed strange at all that Rodney would be the one to kiss him first. Deleted scene from Catalysis.
Disclaimer: They're not mine, alas. I'm just using them for fun.

Somehow, while it was happening, it hadn't seemed strange at all that Rodney would be the one to kiss him first. Insofar as such things are concerned they were both of them pretty much cowards, but Rodney was impulsive with people like John was impulsive with things that went very very fast. John thought the image of Rodney bearing down on him, eyes unbearably blue and face determined and angry as he leaned in to crash their mouths together, would be burned into his memory until the day he died.

Even now its presence flashed bright and brief and made him shiver and gasp into Rodney's mouth. John was finding he liked his hands curled around the back of Rodney's neck, pulse against his palms, holding him still so he could angle himself soft into that slanted mouth. He pulled back when breathing turned urgent, and he could feel Rodney breathing in warm puffs against his cheek as he pressed his face into the crook of Rodney's neck. Rodney smelled like sweat and grass and the humid summer of the coast, the breeze at the top of the ridge where Rodney had showed him the Fraser Valley spread out beneath them like a jewelled carpet, all green and water and the Pacific, far far away. He smelled like the ocean carried on the wind, like home.

Rodney's eyes were closed, and his hands were on John's back, in his hair, always moving, petting, stroking, even though the rest of him was still. "You are such an idiot," he repeated, in a rough voice. "You cannot possibly have thought I wouldn't want to spend all my time doing this. We could have been doing this for years."

For the second time that night, John felt guilty, because he had known it, really. Might have known it, if he'd been paying attention. But Rodney was right; he was pretty much an idiot. Jeannie had seen it, even when John had thought there was nothing to see. "Rodney," he said reasonably, in a creditable imitation of his usual voice, "all our time? We'd have been dead dozens of times by now."

Rodney snorted softly. "I suppose that's a fair point."

"Besides," John drawled, smirking, "you told me you don't like guys."

Rodney opened his eyes just to roll them exasperatedly, and drew back. "I thought we'd covered this already."

John shrugged the shoulder not pressed into the mattress. "Humour me with some parameters," he murmured.

"That's exactly what I mean," Rodney huffed. "Parameters. It's all so..." He rolled onto his back, waving the arm not trapped under John's head vaguely in the air. "I don't know. Primitive."

When John said nothing, Rodney turned his head and gave him a nervous, uncertain look that looked strange on his face. "I told you it was complicated. And this is why I don't usually talk about my feelings with..."

"It's okay," John said quickly, "it's just that you're being all... deep. Go on." Rodney's posture had shifted from languid to defensive, and John reached out to flatten his palm between Rodney's shoulder blades, willing him to relax. It didn't really work, so John shook his head a little and pressed a kiss to the corner of Rodney's mouth, and for a second, Rodney shivered, clutched at him.

This was dangerous, John thought, the knowledge that all it took to turn Rodney McKay pliant and liquid was a well-judged touch. John was tempted to derail it there, whatever he'd just said, to be lost again in the slide of their mouths together, the press of sweat-damp skin, the soft rasp of stubble against his lips. Devoting the rest of his life to drawing these sounds from Rodney, who never stopped talking even while they kissed, making him mutter half-words breathlessly into the darkness of Jeannie's guest room, seemed like a really fantastic idea to John. And Jeannie liked him. She wouldn't mind. Really, this was as much himself Rodney had been since they'd come to Earth. It could be therapeutic. For both of them.

When, with effort, he drew back - mustn't abuse his power - Rodney gave him only a brief scowl, and then sighed, eyes on the ceiling. "You may find this ironic, and rightly so, I guess, but I spent a very long time studying other people, when I was younger. Trying to..." his mouth twisted hard tone side, and he muttered: "figure them out" so quickly that John almost didn't catch it.

"It never worked very well, not in the... the actually getting along with them sense, but I sort of worked out my own... my own ideas about... people. I realised that most of the categories people get put in don't make a lot of realistic sense."

"Like what?" John asked, honestly curious and strangely turned on by this contemplative Rodney he'd never seen before.

Two bright spots of colour appeared on Rodney's cheeks as he seemed to think about it. "Look, can we just shut up and get back to the kissing? I don't really..."

This kiss was a rough press of lips and a hot, hot slide of tongue. It made John go "mmph!" and pull him closer for a moment, then two, then a third, caught up utterly in the hand Rodney twisted into his hair and the harsh sound of Rodney breathing through his nose. It was a superhuman feat to slow it down, to kiss back gentle and lazy, to pull back, breathing hard.

"No," he said, licking his lips, "you're on a roll. I wanna hear this."

Rodney's tongue darted out and swiped across his own bottom lip, his eyes fixed on John's mouth. "I-" He was bright red from hairline to collar, and looked, now, at least as annoyed as he did embarrassed. Which was, John congratulated himself, at least something. He could handle Rodney angry. Rodney vulnerable was alarming. "Fine."

John smiled at him as he rolled onto his back again. "Well?" he prompted.

Rodney sighed. "Well, regarding, regarding sex, for one. As far as I could tell, the way people acted and wanted to act didn't match up with the way the rules said they should..." He shot John a narrow-eyed look. "I know for a fact you went to grad school, even you must have read Kinsey at some point. Even Stanford has breadth requirements, doesn't it?"

"You read Kinsey?"

Rodney nodded, his chin sticking out. "When I was eleven. Oh, don't look so shocked. I read everything I could get my hands on. For a while I honestly believed that science could explain the stupidity of human beings. I gave up, eventually."

John blinked at him in mock surprise. "Rodney McKay invoking a social scientist," he murmured. "The world must be coming to an end."

Without hesitation, Rodney reached out and flicked him on the ear. "It's not social science," he retorted, and continued in more relaxed tones: "It's just... common sense. Look, when you were a kid, and you were attracted to someone, was your first impulse to analyse the hell out of it and try and figure out where the impulse fit, or where it placed you in the grand social scheme? No," he answered, before John could formulate a verbal response.

"Of course not. The human brain doesn't work like that. Not on its own. Mine doesn't, anyway, and I think we can both agree that mine is an excellent specimen of the ideal. Stupid crap like that has to be taught." He gave John a scornful look that John knew was meant for the entire United States of America.

Rodney shut his eyes again, looking tired. "Nobody ever taught me anything like that. And when I got around to figuring it out on my own, it always seemed like other people made it way too complicated. I thought, yes we have brains for a reason, and a lot about attraction can be directed and codified and... and tempered, but outside of the purely chemical aspects, I mean, ultimately it's just down to... to... to how you feel when you're not paying attention."

John couldn't quite keep the grin off his face, but he gave it a serious effort, rubbing his cheek against Rodney's arm. It was all really startlingly insightful, and who would have pegged Rodney as insightful? Then again, this was Rodney, who mounted fifteen-minute lectures to explain the basics of waste-reclamation maintenance, because if he didn't map the path between theory and practice out loud, then the two simply couldn't meet. And John had to admit, Rodney's explanations made a lot more sense when you got the whole thing, never mind that a Rodney not suffering the cognitive dissonance of having his thought-process interrupted was a lot easier to deal with and a lot more efficient.

The last time Ellis had done that, cut Rodney off during the briefing before the attack on Asuras, John hadn't known what to do, had been seriously thinking about just hauling off and punching the smug, interloping asshole in the face, court martial be damned. Ellis didn't know them, hadn't earned the right to insult them, and this was Pegasus, he didn't understand.

John had been just about ready to kiss Sam Carter for putting the man in his place, because Sam understood. There was a world of difference between theory, with no limits and no consequences, and practice, where there were walls and boxes and blood and categories and sometimes people died.

Rodney's eyes flickered right, just for a second, before he closed them again, looking worried but determined and slightly panicked. And when the hell, John thought wonderingly, had he started finding Rodney sexy when he babbled? He watched Rodney swallow, hard, and take a deep breath and continue in a calmer tone.

"One side effect of not caring either way was that neither of my parents ever tried to build boxes in my head or told me which ones which emotions were supposed to go in." He rubbed the bridge of his nose, dropped his arm limply to his side, and when he spoke again, it was in a much softer voice. "Though I guess a lot of things would have been simpler if they had."

John was silent as he watched him for a long moment, eyes closed, chest rising and falling, before he reached out and gently brushed the back of his hand along Rodney's cheek. Rodney's eyes flew open, but he didn't move. "I never liked simple," John told him quietly, turning his hand, letting just the tips of his fingers brush across Rodney's forehead, down the other cheek, along the side of his neck.

"I've noticed that," Rodney replied hoarsely, and John felt the skin under his fingers growing warm. He swallowed, licked his lips, making them shine. "People aren't."

"People aren't what?" John pushed himself up on his elbows until he was leaning over Rodney on the flowered bedspread. He couldn't seem to look away from Rodney's mouth.

"Uh. Simple."

"Hm," John agreed, not trying to stop the warm slow smile from spreading across his face.

"I should... I should tell you, I'm not very good at this," Rodney said, a little desperately.

"Good at what?" asked John, finally meeting Rodney's eyes, which were wide and bright-sky blue.

Rodney's mouth slanted uncertainly to one side. "People," he explained, sounding like he'd had to concentrate to get the two syllables out.

John laughed. "I've noticed." And then he kissed Rodney's sweet, wet, crooked mouth.