Good Luck Charm
Warnings (highlight to view): explicit sex
Spoilers for 3x03, "Irresistible" and 3x04, "Sateda". Takes place between those two episodes.
As soon as it occurred to Rodney that it had been over a week since something crappy had happened to him, he knew that something crappy was about to happen to him.
It was actually close to five hours later when the skunk-like thing dropped out of the tree in front of him and decided without provocation to spray him from head to foot in the most foul secretion ever to emerge from an animal. After Rodney stopped retching, Sheppard dragged him down a hill to the nearest stream.
“Strip,” he commanded, holding his nose with one hand and pointing toward the water with the other.
“What?” Rodney squeaked, and God, wasn’t it just like his luck that when Sheppard ordered him to take off his clothes (fantasy #407, but who was counting?) it was because he smelled like something that had been rotting for three weeks.
Sheppard rolled his eyes. “Rodney, your clothes are ruined. I’m not even sure if we can salvage you yet.”
“Your voice sounds even more stupid like that,” Rodney snapped, turning and attacking his vest straps viciously.
It turned out his pack was ruined too, along with his change of clothes. John tossed him a bar of soap from his own pack, then a small towel, then his spare t-shirt. Ronon supplied an extra pair of pants – part of the BDUs he’d been issued but never bothered to wear.
“You’ll have to go commando,” Sheppard informed him.
“What, doesn’t Teyla have a pair she can let me have? Something with dainty little roses, maybe?” Rodney pulled up the pants; they fit perfectly around the waist, but the damned legs were six inches too long. Grunting, he bent and started rolling up the cuffs.
“What do you think Teyla’d do to you if I told her you were speculating on her underwear?” Sheppard drawled.
Rodney’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t.”
Sheppard smirked, the bastard. Glaring, Rodney snatched the t-shirt from him and shrugged into it. The black cloth was slightly stretchy, he noted as he pulled down the hem. The material slid against his skin, hugging him like a lover, and he realized with a start that this was the softest damned t-shirt he had ever worn in his life.
“What are you doing?” Sheppard demanded; Rodney looked up at him and realized he may have just been touching himself in an inappropriate fashion.
“Nothing! It’s just – this shirt is really, um, comfortable,” he finished lamely.
Sheppard pursed his lips. “So I don’t like to wear scratchy shirts. Is that okay with you?”
Rodney pointed at his own chest. “This isn’t military issue?” The truth was, he’d always suspected there were a couple of things about Sheppard’s outfit that were non-regulation, but he hadn’t cared enough to ask. Of course, that was before he’d worn the shirt.
“No,” Sheppard said, exactly like a fourteen-year-old who was trying to tell you you’d just asked the stupidest question in the history of ever. Then he kind of – shimmied a little. Maybe it was a squirm. “Are we done here?”
Rodney nodded. “Yes, done, fine. How do I smell?”
Sheppard sniffed delicately, then wrinkled his face like a vampire bat. “Like dainty little roses.”
“Oh, har de har,” Rodney snarled, or rather tried to snarl – the shirt distracted him and made it come out more like a purr.
The moment he got back to Atlantis, Rodney checked the label and made a note of the brand, then added half a dozen extra-large t-shirts (unlike Sheppard, he wasn’t into skin-tight apparel) to his shopping list for the Daedalus’ next run. He then decided to order one for Beckett and a couple of women’s versions in assorted colors for Teyla and Elizabeth. There was no reason Sheppard should have all the fun on this expedition.
The next night, Sheppard showed up at his quarters with a smug grin curving his annoyingly pretty mouth. “So, all de-stinkified?”
Rodney folded his arms. “Yes, thank you. I took six baths and got a haircut. I have no skin left and even less hair.”
Sheppard’s gaze flicked upwards and then, before Rodney knew what was happening, Sheppard’s fingers were ruffling his hair with something that might have been affection. Rodney felt the reaction hit a couple of seconds behind the actual touch, so that by the time his brain kicked his libido into overdrive, Sheppard’s hand was back at his side.
“Geez, that’s almost a crew cut,” Sheppard said; the grin was still in place, but Rodney noticed a rough quality to his tone, as though he was still getting over that cold. “You’re not afraid of showing off the bald spot?”
“I do not have a – ” Rodney spluttered, then caught the glint in Sheppard’s eye “ – oh, shut up,” he finished, torn between the desire to close the door in Sheppard’s face and drag him over to the bed and strip that t-shirt off him. He frowned then, staring at Sheppard’s chest. “How many of those do you have, anyway?”
Sheppard blinked, then stared down at himself. “Just this one and the one you’ve got,” he said defensively.
Sheppard’s mouth thinned. “In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t get much chance to go shopping. And my clothes tend to keep getting ripped and burned and…”
Sheppard made a face. “Don’t tell me.”
“I tried to wash it!” Rodney protested, which was a lie; he’d washed it once and it smelled fine. It was sitting in his closet, neatly folded.
Sheppard held out a hand. “Give it to me, I’ll clean it.”
“No! It’s – I’ll wash it a couple more times, it should be fine. I’ll get it back to you as soon as I can.” There, that wasn’t a complete lie. He just was failing to mention that he…
…didn’t want to give Sheppard back his incredibly soft t-shirt. And besides, it wasn’t like he didn’t have a spare.
Sheppard glared at him for another few seconds before nodding tightly. “Fine,” he said. “As soon as you can.”
The moment the doors closed behind him, Rodney strode over to his laptop and added an extra couple of t-shirts for Sheppard to his order. Then he called it up again and added two more, because considering the Colonel’s luck was nearly as crappy as his, he had to allow for a couple of casualties.
After a week or so Sheppard gave up asking for his shirt back, which was just as well because Rodney had probably stretched it out of shape by now. Of course, he never wore it during the day, for fear Sheppard would see him wearing it, but he did wear it at night now and then (all right, every night). He was aware his behavior was obsessive and possibly pathological, but he told himself that as neurological disorders went, this one was fairly mild, and he also told himself that there was no way he was ever going to tell Heightmeyer about this.
“So why do you think you’re wearing the shirt to bed?” Kate asked.
“It’s just – I just sleep in it!” Rodney spluttered, rising up off the couch. “I don’t do anything – why does everything have to be about sex?”
Kate blinked at him, nonplussed. “I didn’t say – ”
“You said ‘to bed,’ which everyone knows is a euphemism for sex!”
“Rodney, I – ”
“I never masturbated while I was wearing it – well, all right, I might have thought about – but I didn’t – I took it off before I - because that would have been sick – ”
Rodney flopped back onto the couch. “Okay. Breathing.”
“We’ve established that you might associate the shirt with your sexual feelings toward John. But I don’t think that’s the primary issue.”
Rodney frowned at her. “No?” God, there was something worse than using Sheppard’s old – though, in his own defense, pornographically soft – t-shirt to fuel his sex fantasies?
Heightmeyer held his gaze. “Think back. When did you first notice the Colonel’s t-shirt?”
Rodney shook his head. “I don’t remember – ” he began, but his subconscious makes him a liar, because suddenly –
– he remembers the thin, sharp ripping sound as Teyla tears Sheppard’s shirt down the middle, exposing a chest that’s much paler than Rodney has envisioned. It seems so fragile a shell for a man he’s preferred to think of until now as invulnerable.
“Do it!” The command is too loud in the tiny space, echoing off the walls, making Rodney jump. Ford presses the pads to Sheppard’s chest and then Sheppard’s whole body convulses before slumping into an awful stillness –
Rodney covered his eyes with a hand. “Oh, Christ,” he groaned. “Sex and death. As soon as I figure out a way to work my mother in there, I really will be nuts.”
“Okay, enough with the animals,” John sighed.
Rodney stared stupidly at the four-inch-long gash in Sheppard’s upper arm; the weird beaked creature had lunged out of the tree and sliced right through the t-shirt with its curved talon. It was bleeding a fair bit, but it didn’t appear life-threatening at first glance. Before he had time for a second glance, Ronon had calmly taken out his pistol and blown the creature’s head clean off.
“Here,” Rodney said, when his brain kicked back into gear. He reached into a pocket for the small first aid kit he always kept handy, then dug out a pressure bandage and topical antiseptic.
“It’s only a flesh wound,” Sheppard cracked in a truly execrable British accent.
Rodney rolled his eyes and tried to ignore the fact that his hands were shaking as he ripped the ruined fabric away, then grasped Sheppard’s elbow firmly and poured a generous amount of the antiseptic over the wound, washing it clean. Sheppard winced and gritted, “Ow, ow, ow, fuck, ow.”
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition,” Rodney muttered, placing the pressure bandage over the wound and securing it with clips.
As though they’d all discussed it, they turned and headed back toward the gate. Sheppard elbowed Rodney with his good arm and said, “Hey, I’m down to my last one.”
“Now you have to give back my shirt.”
Rodney thought about the parcel currently speeding toward them through hyperspace via the Daedalus. “I’ll think about it,” Rodney said archly.
“You’d better,” Sheppard said, shoulder bumping his as they walked. “It’s my lucky one. You wouldn’t want me to run out of luck, would you?”
Rodney rounded on him, the words pouring out without his conscious consent. “What the hell kind of a question is that?” he snarled. “Really, do you think about anyone’s feelings before you say something so insensitive? Do you imagine I want you to, that I would ever want you to – to – ” He stumbled to a halt at Sheppard’s poleaxed expression and the open stares of Ronon and Teyla. Clamping his lips together, he hurried on ahead in silence, leaving the others to catch up at their own pace.
A few dozen feet from the gate, Sheppard suddenly stopped and said, “Okay, I don’t mean to panic anybody here, but – I can’t feel my toes.”
“Oh, shit,” Rodney breathed, searching his face anxiously. Sheppard’s lips had turned blue.
“That’s bad, isn’t it?” Sheppard asked.
“Okay, which one of us is the fastest runner?” Rodney demanded. Ronon cocked an eyebrow at him. “Stupid question, stupid question. All right, you need to go, quickly, get what’s left of that thing you blasted, but do not touch the claws. They must be tipped with some sort of venom, and Carson is going to need them to – why the hell aren’t you gone yet?”
Ronon’s lip curled, but he turned and sprinted off down the trail. Rodney ran in the opposite direction, toward the DHD, and began dialing.
“Wait a minute,” Sheppard growled. “We’re not splitting up the team.”
“Like hell we’re not,” Rodney snapped. The puddle whooshed to life, and Rodney slapped his comm button. “Atlantis, this is McKay. We have a medical emergency. Repeat, we have a medical emergency.” He turned back to Sheppard. “Get going.”
“Rodney – ” Sheppard began.
“Shut up. Teyla and I will wait for him. Just go, and be sure to tell them everything you remember about that animal. There might be something already in the database about it.”
Sheppard opened his mouth to speak again. “Please,” Rodney rasped. Sheppard’s eyes widened, and Rodney realized his expression must be giving away every secret he had, but at this point he didn’t give a damn, so long as it made Sheppard move.
It was only when the gate had finally swallowed Sheppard up that Rodney whispered, “Luck.”
Ronon came chugging down the trail nearly half an hour later, and when they finally came through Sheppard’s luck was close to running out. He was on a respirator by the time they got back, and he went into cardiac arrest just as Carson was injecting the antivenom into his femoral artery. Rodney stood by, helpless, the persistent whine of the heart monitor filling his ears, thickening the air.
“Clear,” Carson said, but before he could press the paddles to Sheppard’s chest, the whine changed to a beep on its own, and Rodney watched Sheppard’s lungs expand of their own volition, heard him cough around the tubes. He himself sucked in what felt like his first breath in over an hour. Dimly, he felt Teyla’s fingers squeeze his, felt Ronon’s hand come to rest on his shoulder. Shrugging off both touches, he broke and ran toward his quarters, not stopping until he’d found what he was looking for.
When he returned, it was to the bemused gazes of Beckett, Ronon, Elizabeth and Teyla and the weary one of Sheppard, who blinked up at him and smiled faintly. Rodney didn’t smile back, only pressed the rolled up t-shirt into Sheppard’s sweaty palm.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I’m sorry.” Before Sheppard’s puzzled frown could resolve itself into a question, he fled.
“You’re sort of a crazy person, you know that?”
Rodney scowled as Sheppard muscled past him into his quarters. “Why did they let you out?” he snapped.
“Because I’m fully recovered,” Sheppard retorted. “Not a trace of the toxin in my bloodstream.”
“You were dead yesterday!” Rodney exclaimed.
“For thirty seconds,” Sheppard said, flapping a hand. “That doesn’t count.”
Rodney opened his mouth.
“I’ve been dead for a lot longer,” Sheppard added, shrugging.
Rodney suddenly felt queasy. “God, don’t remind me,” he breathed, staggering to his bed and sitting on the edge with his head in his hands. After a few moments, he felt the mattress dip as Sheppard joined him.
“Hey,” Sheppard said awkwardly, “it wasn’t your fault.”
“How can you be sure of that?” Rodney demanded.
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t get attacked by the Venomous Vulture of Doom because I didn’t have a lousy t-shirt with me,” Sheppard shot back.
“It’s not a lousy t-shirt!” Rodney protested, looking at Sheppard. “It’s your lucky shirt, and – ”
Sheppard’s gaze darted sideways. “Look, I was kidding about the lucky t-shirt thing,” he admitted. “Really.”
Rodney blinked. “What?”
Sheppard shook his head. “A lot of pilots went in for that superstitious stuff; I never did. I learned pretty quickly that all the rabbits’ feet in the world didn’t make one damned bit of difference when your number was up.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, your number’s been up pretty damned frequently in this galaxy,” Rodney snapped.
“Yeah, well, I happen to think the fact that I’m still breathing says a lot more about my team than my luck,” Sheppard said quietly.
“Oh,” Rodney managed, feeling foolish and strangely proud. “Well.”
“Yeah,” Sheppard said roughly, and then they subsided into manly silence for a few moments.
“Still,” Rodney managed, clearing his throat, “they are comfortable shirts.”
“They are,” Sheppard agreed wistfully. “I’m gonna miss this one when it’s gone.”
“No, you won’t.” At Sheppard’s confused look, Rodney blurted, “I may have ordered you a few.”
Sheppard stared at him. “You – ”
“A few for you, a few for me, one each for Teyla, Carson, Elizabeth,” Rodney admitted. “I don’t think they make Ronon-sized wear. I imagine they’ll be here on the Daedalus tomorrow.”
Sheppard stared at him some more. “Oh. Well, thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” Rodney said softly, curling his hands around the edge of the mattress to keep from fidgeting or worse, reaching for Sheppard.
“So I’ve kinda been wondering…” Sheppard began, voice low.
Rodney’s heart flipped. “What?”
“Why you kept it all that time.”
Rodney swallowed. “I suppose saying I forgot – ”
“ – Wouldn’t cut it, no.”
“I thought not.” Rodney’s gaze dipped to the shirt, tracing the outline of the dogtags under the thin material before rising again. “I – I guess it became a sort of – talisman.”
“Talisman?” Sheppard’s eyebrows crinkled. “Huh. And here I thought you were using it for your jerk-off fantasies.”
And that would be the point at which Rodney choked on his own spit. Sheppard helpfully whacked him on the back, and Rodney waved a hand to stop him.
“You – you, um – ” Rodney stammered; Sheppard raised his eyebrows encouragingly “ – you don’t seem overly traumatized by that possibility.”
One corner of Sheppard’s mouth jerked. “Should I be? I mean, you didn’t imagine me naked in a vat of blue Jell-o, did you?”
Sheppard waggled his eyebrows. “Or sprawled over the hood of a time-traveling DeLorean?”
Rodney made a face. “You know I hate that movie.”
Sheppard turned his head and leaned in, and suddenly Rodney could feel the soft, warm puff of Sheppard’s breath against his lips, alive and real. “Then no. Not really all that traumatized.”
Rodney’s oh got lost in Sheppard’s first tentative kiss, and after that he was perfectly happy to let Sheppard swallow the rest of his eager, needful noises, because otherwise it would have been embarrassing to allow them both to hear how very much he’d been wanting this. When Sheppard released a half-wild sound of his own, Rodney was perfectly willing to return the favor.
Soon he had two fingers gliding up Sheppard’s belly, the other two hooked in the hem of the t-shirt as he shoved it upward. The contradiction of soft and rough threatened to short out his brain, but he didn’t care; he’d happily allow the greatest mind of his generation to melt into slag if it meant Sheppard stayed here under his hands. Obligingly, Sheppard raised his arms over his head, but before Rodney could push the shirt all the way off he got an idea. An awful, terrible idea.
“I was right, wasn’t I?” Sheppard said, smiling crookedly at Rodney’s hesitation. “You do have some secret kink.”
“Shut up, I’m thinking,” Rodney bit out. After a moment’s deliberation, he pushed the shirt up over Sheppard’s head, then grasped the material firmly and twisted it a couple of times, preventing Sheppard from easily freeing his raised arms.
“You’re stretching it all out of shape,” Sheppard complained, but his eyes were bright and his chest was rising and falling rapidly.
Rodney swung one leg over his hips, straddling him. It was a bit of a balancing act to hold onto the shirt with one hand and unbutton Sheppard’s trousers with the other, but he managed it. “Don’t worry,” Rodney told him, nipping at his neck, then licking the spot he’d bitten. “I’ll buy you all the damned t-shirts you want.”
“Fuck,” Sheppard groaned, arching up to get more of Rodney’s mouth. Rodney felt Sheppard’s arms twitch, then go still. He could have freed himself easily, but he was choosing not to, and that was hotter than hell.
Sheppard raised his head for a kiss and Rodney gave it to him as his hand slid into Sheppard’s pants and pressed experimentally against the hardness he found there. Sheppard groaned and bucked beneath him, nearly toppling him, but Rodney dug his thighs into Sheppard’s hips and righted himself at the last moment. Cupping his palm over the front of Sheppard’s boxers, he began a ruthless stroking motion.
Sheppard broke the kiss and gulped in air. “Jesus, Rodney,” he panted, “keep that up and I’m gonna last about five seconds.”
Rodney leaned in closer, pressing his own fully-clothed groin against his moving forearm while he kissed and licked every square inch of Sheppard’s chest he could reach. The place where the dogtags had rested was bitter as his tongue slid down Sheppard’s sternum; he pressed his lips to the spot and sucked strongly. Under his mouth, Sheppard’s body shuddered and stiffened. Rodney didn’t realize he’d let go of the shirt until he felt Sheppard’s fingers carding through his short, spiky hair, tickling the sensitive skin of his neck.
“Did you – ?” Sheppard murmured. Rodney closed his eyes and rested his cheek on Sheppard’s chest, then shook his head. Wordlessly, Sheppard tugged him up for a kiss, then rolled him over and began stripping him slowly. When he had Rodney naked and spread out beneath him, he picked up the shirt and trailed it down the center of Rodney’s chest, down his belly, over his cock. Rodney tightened his hold on Sheppard’s biceps and hissed air through his teeth.
“We need this anymore?” Sheppard asked him softly.
Rodney’s eyes flew open. Searching Sheppard’s face and finding no answer there, he looked for one inside himself. What he found surprised him.
“No,” he murmured finally. “No, I don’t think we do.”
Sheppard grinned at him, the openness of the smile exciting Rodney more than sinfully soft cotton ever could. “Cool,” Sheppard said approvingly, tossing the shirt over his shoulder and diving down to meet Rodney as he surged upward.
One Week Later
“Okay,” Rodney gasped. “That is definitely not regulation.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” John purred, shoving a leg between Rodney’s thighs as he pressed him back against the wall of his quarters.
Rodney tried to find oxygen somewhere, but all he inhaled was the heady scent of leather. “Where did you get it?”
“Won it off Caldwell's exec in a poker game,” Sheppard said. “You like it?”
“Um,” Rodney said, suddenly unwilling to give Sheppard the upper hand. Well, more of an upper hand than he had already.
John’s hand stole to the front of Rodney’s trousers as he buried his nose in Rodney’s neck. “Oh yeah. You like it.”
“This is about the t-shirts, isn’t it? Now that we’ve uncovered your secret, you have to up the fashion stakes.”
John’s hands deftly undid Rodney’s pants and slid them over his hips. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said blandly.
“Tell me something,” Rodney asked. “How have you gone so many years without the whole universe knowing you’re gay?”
John sank to his knees, taking Rodney’s boxers with him. Rodney's brain melted obediently. Oh, God, here it comes: fantasy # 408. He gripped a leather-clad shoulder and held on as John took the first slow lick up the underside of his cock.
Then he felt Sheppard’s teeth graze his balls, and he yelped. “Hey!”
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition,” John said, and Rodney swore he could feel the bastard’s smug grin against his tingling skin.
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