By Chandri MacLeod

Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis/Murder She Wrote
Rating: G
Pairing: John/Rodney
Categories: pre-slash, angst
  Warnings: none
Summary: When John first sees Rodney in the sweater, he spends a lot of time imagining kissing Rodney in it.
Disclaimer: They're not mine, alas. I'm just using them for fun.
Author's Note: Just a little Sweater 'Verse snippet for mcsmooch - takes place between Knitted Goods and Casting On. Imagined kisses. Betaed by artemisiabrisol.
This story was nearly titled Thermal Underwear Stitch, which would have been 100% artemisiabrisol's fault. Soon I'm going to run out of cutesy knitting-related terminology to use as titles, and then what will I do?

When John first sees Rodney in the sweater, he spends a lot of time imagining kissing Rodney in it. Not that he hasn't imagined kissing Rodney quite a lot before he sees him wearing the thick, warm sweater knitted for him by his great-aunt. But the sweater gives him a sort of added softness, something that changes how John looks at him: like finding out he wasn't making up all of those allergies or his hypoglycaemia or meeting Jeannie did. Like catching Rodney's face in an expression of hurt or surprised gratitude. Like he's seen Rodney in an angle of light that made him seem vulnerable and human and all the things that around most people, he tries not to be.

For a long time John's fantasies of kissing Rodney involved Rodney sleep-rumpled in ratty t-shirts with condescending slogans on them, or the orange fleece he was wearing when he first bulled his way into John's life. But after he sees Rodney in his - secret! - sweater, it starts to take front row centre in his mental theatre.

John has two categories of fantasy where Rodney McKay is concerned. The first is the more common kind that everyone has about people they're attracted to - the straightforward, lustful, hot-and-heavy kind that are pretty much the same no matter who you're fantasizing about. But with Rodney, in a way he's done with almost no one else, John pictures it differently - imagines touching more freely, kissing Rodney sometimes slow and patient, sometimes not. But just kissing.

For two solid weeks after he walks into Rodney's room to see him zipped up snug in a sweater hand-knitted by a high school English teacher from Maine, John's fantasies involve a lot of sidling up to Rodney on a balcony slipping fingers under the hem, the collar, to feel the warmer skin there; fingers circling Rodney's oddly graceful wrists under the too-long cuffs.

The day he catches himself stroking the sleeve of the sweater where it hangs on the back of Rodney's desk chair while he waits for Rodney to emerge from the shower is the day he realise s he's in bigger trouble than even he suspected.

It's ridiculous and teenaged and would be fifteen kinds of humiliating on top of the likely awkwardness that would ensue were Rodney to find out that John even has categories for this, so John tries not to smile like an idiot too much. He's kind of afraid that Rodney might catch him at it — Rodney may not be all that perceptive when it comes to other people, but if he ever chose to pay attention when John was staring at him like that, John's pretty sure that even Rodney would figure it out in three seconds flat.

But he can't help but imagine it sometimes: surprising Rodney with arms around his waist, sliding hands under the sweater to press against his sides, warm through his t-shirt. Kissing the startled corner of his mouth as his eyes flutter closed, waiting for Rodney to settle into the moment, something he does only with an effort, and kiss back, opening to John with a sigh, leaning into John's body like he trusts John to hold him up.

It's trouble, and he knows it — knows it'll be worse, in the long run, to let himself imagine at all. But after a couple of years of trying to keep it out of his head altogether, he knows he doesn't have a lot of choice in the matter.

So he sits down on the foot of Rodney's bed, stares at the closed bathroom door and lets himself imagine. By now he's had a lot of practice.