Competitive Spirit
by lamardeuse

Rating:  PG-13

Pairing: McKay/Sheppard

Warnings (highlight to view):  nothing to warn for

For sweetvalleyslut, who wanted a fic including the words jealousy, giggle and flush.  Spoilers for Inferno.

John wasn’t much for diplomatic receptions, but he figured this one had been going pretty well, all things considered.  They’d assembled the dignitaries from a dozen different worlds and thrown a gala reception for them, celebrating the latest victory over the Wraith.  The Daedalus had returned stuffed to the gunwales with caviar, champagne, and filet mignon, and every ounce of it was disappearing. 

And since nobody had tried to kill anybody yet, he was now prepared to declare the evening a success.

“You’re looking pleased.”

John spun around to see Narina smiling up at him.  Well, not quite up at him – she was nearly as tall as he was.  “I am pleased,” he acknowledged.  “Seems like everyone’s having the time of their lives.”

“Thanks to you and the Orion,” she said.  “You have every reason to be proud, as do my people.”

John shifted from one foot to another, feeling uneasy at the compliment.  “I only wish we’d had it a year ago,” he murmured, not bothering to add before half the damn galaxy got eaten, because she knew it as well as he did. 

She shook her head.  “You can’t blame yourself for that, John,” she said kindly, and John’s gut clenched, because Jesus, she had no idea.

“Yeah, well,” he said after a moment, “I’m glad to hear things are going well with the resettlement.”

“Yes,” she said, accepting the subject change graciously.  “It’s been rewarding work, but difficult.  I was ready for a bit of frivolity,” she added, nodding at the crowded room.  When she turned back to him, there was a look in her eyes that John hadn’t seen in a while, but oh boy, he recognized it. 

Trouble was, he wasn’t sure if he felt like a bit of frivolity.  He’d had just enough champagne to feel like a bit of screaming or running or punching an inanimate object, or maybe a combination of all three.  And that was where it started to get dangerous, because he was pretty sure Narina wasn’t in the mood for any of those options.

And that was, mercifully, when Rodney staggered over.  John had been watching him off and on for a couple of hours, since he’d arrived grumbling about having to socialize when he had much more important work to be doing, like furthering the scope of human knowledge.  He had been drinking steadily for a while – John had counted three glasses of scotch, though Rodney might have slipped in a couple more while he wasn’t looking.

Evidently McKay wasn’t in a frivolous mood either, because the scowl on his face could have blown up a solar system.  John felt a strange swirling sensation start up in his gut, turning counterclockwise.

“How’s it going, Rodney?” John drawled, putting on his best smirk.

Rodney ignored him, swaying in the general direction of Narina.  “You’re very blonde,” he said without ceremony.

Yup, he was drunk, thought Sheppard, trying not to panic at the way Narina’s eyes bugged out at that.  “Excuse me?” she demanded.

Rodney waved a hand.  “No, no, no, no, don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing, a good, good thing.  I mean that sincerely.  You’re very, very, ah, beautiful?”

Narina smiled at him as if he were a slow but attractively freckled child.  “Thank you, Rodney.”

“But you’re not, and how can I say this – ” Rodney paused to think about it, and John realized they were screwed “ – um, you’re not as smart as John.”

John closed his eyes.  Oh, Christ, scratch that civilization as a trading partner.

When he opened them again, though, he was surprised to see that Narina only seemed serenely amused.  Her gaze darted back and forth between John and Rodney as though she were watching for something interesting to happen.

“And I don’t mean to say you’re not smart,” Rodney blathered on, “because I’m sure you’re smart, but it’s just that, that John is surprisingly intelligent once you get to know him – ”

“Rodney…” John warned, insulted and yet weirdly flattered at the same time.

“ – and I just can’t, I mean, no matter how much you might be my ideal of womanhood – ” Narina’s eyebrows climbed skyward “ – I have to admit that’s not enough any more.  I’m sorry.”  He ground to an abrupt halt and waited expectantly.

To John’s utter shock, Narina merely reached out and patted Rodney’s hand like a maiden aunt.  “Rodney, I understand completely.”

“You do?” John and Rodney chimed in unison.

She smiled at them indulgently.  “Of course.  Surely you don’t think I took your interest seriously.”  At John’s mystified look, she added, “Oh, come now.  Anyone could tell you were far more interested in the competition than the prize.”

“Um,” John said.  The champagne had obviously scrambled his brain more than he’d thought, because Rodney seemed to be nodding his agreement with whatever Narina was implying.

“Thank you for understanding,” Rodney said warmly, leaning in to give her a peck on the cheek.  “I hope there are no –  hard feelings.”

“Don’t be foolish.  You will always be my very great friends.” 

And while John was still trying to figure out what the hell was going on, Rodney turned to him and grinned.  “I knew she’d understand.  She’s very smart.”

“Well, obviously I’m not,” John snapped.  “Rodney, would you mind telling me what the – ”

“Come on,” Rodney said, wrapping long, strong fingers around John’s wrist and nearly tugging him off his feet.  “Time to go.”

As John was unceremoniously dragged from the reception hall, engendering a variety of stares and giggles, it occurred to him that this might not be so bad after all; at least it would get him a free ticket out of here.  Casting a what-can-I-do shrug in Elizabeth’s direction on the way out, he allowed himself to be led in whatever cracked direction Rodney intended to take him.


“Mmmphhh!” John said.

He wanted to say, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” but that was a little difficult with Rodney’s mouth on his and Rodney’s hands in his hair and oh, yeah, how could he forget Rodney’s big, solid body grinding against him with the precision of a very drunk man trying to get fresh with you.

John was shocked and amazed and a little turned off by the drunken grinding, but to be honest there was a lot more of him interested in the kissing than he would have expected.  If someone had asked him an hour ago, how would you like McKay to shove you against a wall and kiss you? he definitely would have answered, no fucking way, thanks.  He’d seen Rodney’s technique first-hand and it wasn’t anything to write home about, but then he remembered that had been Cadman’s technique rather than McKay’s, and oh, hey, tongue, wow, nice

But even if he had seen the real Rodney in action, no amount of observation would have prepared him for the experience of Rodney’s wide mouth, which was less about wet and sloppy (which is what he would have expected) and more about hot and thorough and devastating (which certainly was not).  Rodney kissed like he’d spent half his life theorizing on the process, considering the vectors and forces involved, the complex geometry of sucking face in three dimensions.  Four, actually, because time was also an important component of the McKay technique:  he’d spend a sharp half-second teasing your upper lip with a nip of teeth, then soothe it with a molasses-slow three seconds of tongue-tip, and John was beginning to suspect he could keep this up for hours.

John groaned into Rodney’s mouth at that thought, because suddenly kissing Rodney for hours was about the hottest thing he’d ever imagined, and you know, by now he was used to new and weird things happening on a regular basis, but this was quite possibly the weirdest thing that had ever happened to him in the Pegasus galaxy. 

Not that he was complaining.

“Christ, John,” Rodney gasped, pulling back and staring at him with wide, dilated eyes.

John rested his head against the wall and did a little gasping of his own, seizing the opportunity to gulp down some oxygen before the next round.  He found he was really looking forward to whatever McKay had in store. 

“I, uh,” Rodney said slowly, “I think I’m gonna puke.”  He shoved himself away from John’s body, spun on his heel, then tottered toward the bathroom as quickly as his unsteady legs would carry him.

Okay, John amended as he heard the muffled sounds of retching, maybe not so much.


Rodney awoke three hours later with a loud snort and a rusty groan. 

“How’re you feeling?”

Rodney jumped at the sound of John’s voice near his ear; he may have produced a sound somewhat similar to a bleat.  “Like my skull has been squashed flat by a very angry zamboni driver,” he said tartly, massaging his forehead.

“Jesus,” John said, whistling, “now I can see why you go to Heightmeyer so much.”

“I was drunk last night, right?”

John couldn’t help smiling.  “Yes, yes you were.”

“Good,” sighed Rodney, “that explains it.”

“Explains what?”

Rodney flapped a hand at him weakly.  “Why I’m hallucinating you in my bed.”

John stared at him for a moment.  Then he reached out and pinched Rodney on the arm, hard.

“Ow!” Rodney jerked his arm away, affronted, and then his eyes went as wide as saucers, and he muttered something that might have been “oh fuck”, and then he was scrambling out of the bed and sprinting for the bathroom.

John lay back and waited, listening to the sounds of panicking Rodney.  It was kind of cute when it didn’t involve the threat of imminent death, he decided. 

Eventually the muttering and whining yielded to sounds of splashing water and swishing toothbrush.  A final flush – or rather, a dignified whoosh, because the Ancient toilets were a lot classier than Earth ones – and Rodney emerged again, freshly scrubbed and de-puked.  He stood silhouetted in the doorway, his hands restless against his sides, and John could practically hear the wheels turning.  And four hours ago he would’ve let him stand there and stew in his own juice, but four hours ago he hadn’t known that Rodney handed you a small piece of his soul when he kissed you, and John was determined to hang onto that unexpected gift.

“Hey,” he said softly, lifting up one corner of the blanket in invitation.  Rodney stood stiffly immobile for a few moments, then slowly shuffled back over to the bed.  Gingerly, he sat on the edge of the mattress gazing down at John as though he didn’t recognize him.  Wordlessly, John flapped the blanket until Rodney lay down next to him.  They watched one another for a few moments before Rodney suddenly groaned, rolled onto his back and closed his eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“I just remembered what I said to Narina.  At least I think I do; I find it hard to believe I could be that stupid.”

“Oh, don’t sell yourself short,” John drawled.

“Kill me,” Rodney moaned.

John smiled, because he’d done a lot of thinking while he watched McKay sleep and he’d come to certain inescapable conclusions.  “She was right, you know.”

Rodney’s eyes popped open.  “About what?”

“Maybe we weren’t really interested in her as much as we were interested in keeping one another from getting her.  And maybe that had less to do with her than with us.”

Rodney gaped.  “And you’re just figuring this out now?”

John’s face fell.  “Okay, so I’m a little slow on the uptake.  But I think I started to get it when you dragged me out of the reception.”  He raised his eyebrows.  “I think everyone else did, too.”

Rodney covered his face with his hands.  “Oh, my God.  I’d forgotten that part.” 

John grinned.  “I think displays of drunken jealousy are kind of flattering, actually.”

Rodney scowled through his fingers at him.  “Where did you get your model of romance from, Jerry Springer?”

John reached up and pulled Rodney’s hands away from his face gently, enjoying the way Rodney’s eyes grew startled, then hopeful.  “You think you can improve on my model?” he husked, leaning in.  Rodney breathed a quiet ‘oh’ into his mouth as their lips touched, and John felt the vibration of it all the way to his toes. 

When he drew back, John couldn’t look away from Rodney’s wide, giving mouth twisted in a wry smile, as if he knew something the universe didn’t.  John decided he liked that smile a whole hell of a lot, and silently resolved to find ways to put it on Rodney’s face as often as possible.

“Yeah,” Rodney admitted, fingers sliding into John’s hair, “I think I can.”


February 2006

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