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FIC: Brains Versus Brawn - Part 5 - Hotitudinosity
fiction by jalabert
FIC: Brains Versus Brawn - Part 5
Title: Brains Versus Brawn
Author: Jalabert
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Ford/McKay
Category: First time
Summary: Brains versus brawn; winner takes all.

Author's Note: Thank you Beth, my little mine canary, for your enthusiastic support and your encouragement of (insistence on?) John's voyeuristic tendencies. ;)

Rodney entered the workout room and looked around. Seeing no sign of Aiden, he smiled and was about to remark upon the fact that he'd arrived early when he suddenly felt a pair of strong arms wrap around his chest from behind.

"Decided to show up, did you?" Rodney teased. "I thought you might be off training Zelenka." Aiden nipped Rodney's throat and chuckled.

"Jealous much?"

"That little geek was all over you at lunch!"

"He didn't lay a finger on me, Rodney."

"His eyes--his eyes were all over you. It was a disgusting display," Rodney said disdainfully. Aiden laughed again and turned him around so he could kiss away his pout. When he pulled away he noticed that Rodney was wearing his sweats.

"Does he know about us?"

"He knows we work out together. I had to come clean," Rodney said sheepishly. "You were right; someone did eventually ask if I'd had cosmetic surgery. Now half the women in the science division want exercise classes." Aiden laughed again.

"Sorry, I only give private lessons," he said as he nuzzled Rodney's ear.

"That's exactly what Zelenka wants."

"Well, they'll all have to settle for working out with the rest of the military contingent under Sergeant Bates' supervision. I've got my hands full with you." Aiden pressed his lips to Rodney's and pushed him up against the wall.


Locked in his quarters, John laid back on his bed and closed his eyes.

"Here goes nothing," he said as he used his ATA gene to do a search. "Find Rodney McKay." Instantly a life signs detector screen appeared. John opened his eyes and saw a flashing yellow dot on the holographic screen. "Location?" A schematic appeared, showing that Rodney and Aiden were working out in one of the vaults where they'd begun their clandestine relationship.

"I should have known," John muttered as he sat up again. He spent a few moments warring with his conscience before he gave the next command. "Visual."

When he saw Aiden and Rodney making out against the wall of the vault, he started to shut down the screen, but found it impossible to tear his eyes away. He looked on with growing fascination as their kisses intensified. They were surprisingly hot together and John watched the tension build between them until Aiden abruptly pulled away and declared that it was time to get to work. Rodney muttered something as Aiden pulled out the exercise mat. Aiden sharply ordered him to drop and give him twenty push-ups. To John's amazement, Rodney did as he was bidden without complaint and with perfect form.

"Why, Rodney McKay," John laughed, "I bet you get off on having Ford ordering you around." He sat back against the headboard to watch the couple working out. "That's just kinky."


"I had a chat with Major Sheppard yesterday," Rodney said as he reached for his toes. "He was seeking relationship advice."

"So he spoke to you about the Carson thing, too?" Aiden replied as he scooted closer and placed the soles of his feet against Rodney's and reached for his hands.

"Yeah," Rodney said as he gently tugged on his partner. "I've got to say that for two guys on the verge of something, they didn't seem very happy to see each other this afternoon."

"Yeah, well, that probably has something to do with a falling out between them. The major said that the doc called him a clueless bastard."

"What? I'm afraid I can't hear you over the sound of my spinal cord being stretched beyond its limits," Rodney complained. Aiden released Rodney's hands and glared at him. "Clueless bastard, eh? That's harsh."

"And probably well-deserved."


John's mouth fell open.

"Why you little--."


"We've got to do something," Aiden said as he changed positions and began to do crunches.


"Because he's our friend and we want him to be happy. And isn't Dr. Beckett your friend as well? Anyway, they're both good guys and they both deserve to have something good in their lives, don't you think? Why should we two be the only ones having any fun?"

"You're just talking while you do crunches to piss me off, aren't you?"

"Get your ass in gear or I'll really piss you off. Two sets of twenty-five. Now."

"Sir, yes, sir," Rodney said sarcastically as he assumed the position.

"First the doc falls for the major, who has no idea, then he starts feeling lonely and comes to realize that there's someone out there for him. And just as he's ready to make his move, the doc decides to give up."

"Carson's...been lusting...after... the major...for...gaah! How the hell do you do that?" Rodney said as he collapsed on the mat.

"I didn't spend my formative years guzzling Ring Dings and candy bars," Aiden said smoothly as he began his second set of fifty crunches. "Give yourself thirty seconds and then start the next set--quietly."

"You think Carson's given up?" Rodney asked as he procrastinated.

"You saw them in the mess," Aiden said as he turned his head to look at Rodney, who reluctantly began his second set. "He wouldn't look at the major at all. They barely talked. They were like a pair of awkward twelve year olds. And earlier today Beckett called me into the infirmary on a matter that he knew perfectly well should have brought to the attention of the CO. He just didn't want to have to face Major Sheppard."



"So...what do we...do?"


"Yeah, what are we going to do? I'm getting desperate here," John said plaintively.


"Rodney, breathe. You're turning red."

"Some mouth to mouth would come in real handy right now," he said hopefully.

"You wish."

"It was worth a shot," Rodney said as he sat up. "You haven't answered my question." Aiden reached out and gave him a hand up.

"I don't have an answer yet. But we'll think of something," he said as he handed Rodney a water bottle.

"Can we think about it later? I mean much later--as in after sex, shower and food later."

"Yeah. Get out the protective gear. Time to practice those kicks."


"Nice to see that the sorry state of my love life is such a high priority for you guys," John pouted. A moment later he smiled as Aiden engaged Rodney in a lively sparring session. "I hope you're wearing a cup Rodney," he said with malicious glee. A moment later, John's mouth fell open. "Holy cow, the geek's got moves! Ouch! Of course, my second has better moves, Rodney. You should have figured that out by now," he laughed.

John watched the rest of the workout, enjoying both the action and the light, comfortable banter between the two men. He didn't allow the fact that he was blatantly eavesdropping on the pair interfere with his enjoyment, but he felt envious of the apparent ease with which the two men talked, fought and generally enjoyed each other's company. John found it highly amusing that Rodney constantly came on to Aiden during their workout, although the Marine remained focused at all times. Aiden occasionally punished Rodney for his transgressions and at other times he merely laughed them off. John quickly realized that it was part of an ongoing game between them; Rodney liked baiting Aiden into punishing him while Aiden, in turn liked keeping Rodney off balance. But as soon as the workout was over, all games ceased. Aiden roughly shoved Rodney to the wall and pinned him with a searing kiss. The sound of Rodney's groan went straight to Aiden's groin, even as his wandering hand found Rodney's.

"Whoa!" John exclaimed as he watched the two men kiss and grope each other. A moment later he swore and shut down the screen when he was abruptly summoned to the door.

"Sorry to bother you, sir," Bates said, "but Lieutenant Ford asked me to bring this report to you regarding one of my security team."

"What about him?" John asked as he gave the folder a cursory glance.

"Well, if you've got a moment..." Bates said. John sighed and admitted him to his room. Bates left ten minutes later, but by that time John was so distracted by the report on Dawson that he forgot about Rodney and Aiden's little tryst till it was too late to catch them.



Rodney looked up from his coffee. He fixed his gaze on Aiden's and smiled crookedly.


"What about the major and Dr. B?" Aiden asked.

"What about them?" Rodney asked, diverting his eyes and setting down his cup as he tried to suppress the wave of desire that fluttered in his belly.

"You said we should think about their problem."


"Are you all right, Rodney? You look a little flushed and distracted."

"Do you have any idea what it's like making love to you?"


"Never mind; you've probably never had the experience of having a younger lover, someone about eight to ten years younger and at the peak of his sexual development--energetic, enthusiastic, flexible..."

"Rodney, if I had a lover eight to ten years younger than me I'd probably be facing rape and sodomy charges," Aiden said tartly. "I'll agree with you on the rest of it, though," he said, leaning forward to look deep into Rodney's eyes. "I am energetic, enthusiastic and flexible--especially enthusiastic. But I thought we were going to talk about major Sheppard and the doc."

"Yeah; listen, why don't we talk about them somewhere else?"

"Sure, but why?"

"Well, someone might hear us for one thing," Rodney said pointedly. Aiden just as pointedly looked around the dining hall.

"We're the only ones here."

"Yeah, but it's not very private," Rodney replied plaintively. "Anyone could just walk in."

"And you're going to suggest that we go somewhere--."

"...Where we couldn't possibly be disturbed," Rodney said as he began to rise.

"Down, boy," Aiden said as he reached out to push Rodney back into his seat, not at all fooled. "We agreed: workout, sex, shower, food and then talk."

"I'd like to revisit the sex part," Rodney suggested hopefully. "Then, while we're comfortable and relaxed, we can talk about what's his name."

"Dr. Beckett," Aiden said.

"No, I meant the other guy," Rodney said abstractedly. "...The one with the hair."

"And I mean Dr. Beckett. He's coming this way."

Rodney turned and saw Carson, who'd entered the dining hall in search of hot coffee, heading toward their table.

"Fuck," Rodney whispered. "I told you anyone could just walk in."

"It's just as well," Aiden whispered back. "Maybe we can learn something." He looked up as Carson reached their table. "Have a seat, Dr. B."

"Thank you, lieutenant," Carson replied. "I must say I hardly expected to find anyone here at this hour. I thought I'd have to make my own coffee and have the entire place to myself."

"I thought your people brewed their own in the infirmary," Rodney said.

"Not at this hour," Carson replied, suppressing a yawn. "What are you two doing up so late? I would have thought--." He abruptly shut his mouth.

"You would have thought...?" Rodney prompted. Aiden lightly kicked him under the table and glared.

"Come on, Rodney," Carson said. "I know the two of you are an item. I figured it out that day in the infirmary when I treated your bicep."

"I take it you're okay with... this," Aiden said.

"Oh, aye; I welcome the development. I would be very worried if people here didn't form relationships with each another. People have needs: companionship, love, sex, diversion... the whole gamut of human interaction. Denying oneself such things would be entirely unnatural no matter what galaxy one lives in. I applaud your initiative," Carson said wryly, "for all that you are last two people I'd expect to see together. But you've got my blessing, for what it's worth."

"Thanks, doc," Aiden smiled sheepishly. Rodney smiled as well. The two men exchanged a look; neither of them had missed the melancholy tone of the doctor's voice. "What about you?" Aiden assayed. "Have you formed any personal relationships since arriving here?"

"I've made friends easily enough," Carson sighed. Aiden and Rodney exchanged another look. Rodney rolled his eyes impatiently and Aiden's eyes grew wide as he worried about what he was about to say.

"Have you considered just talking to him?" Rodney said exasperatedly. Carson looked up.


"Oh, come on, Carson! You figured things out; we figured things out. You've got--."

"What the doc is trying to say is that we're aware of your infatuation with Major Sheppard," Aiden interjected.

"Am I that obvious?" Carson asked.

"To everyone but the major, apparently," Rodney sighed. Aiden kicked him again. "Ouch!" he cried with a glare at his lover.

"What Rodney means is that people close to you have noticed that you seem a little depressed," Aiden said tactfully.

"More like a walking bundle of sexual frustration," Rodney corrected.

"You might be joining him soon," Aiden said through clenched teeth.

"Hey! Please, don't you two get into a tiff on my account," Carson said.

"Oh don't you worry, doc; Rodney and I are quite capable of getting into arguments on our own," Aiden said with another glare. "But right now, we've got more important things to worry about."

"You're worried about me?" Carson frowned. "Why?"

"You haven't been yourself, Carson," Rodney said.

"Who have I been, then? I'm fine, I assure you."

"And Major Sheppard hasn't been himself since you called him a clueless bastard," Aiden added. "I think he's finally come to realize his mistake and he's not sure what to do about it."

"Well," Carson bit his lip. "I have no answer for that. It was his own doing."

"Agreed," Rodney said. "But now that you've brought the matter to his attention you can't just leave it at that."

"Why not? The major can just go stuff himself, for all I care," Carson lied.

"Wouldn't you rather stuff him instead?" Rodney asked. "And so help me, Aiden, if you kick me again you'll spend the next three weeks reacquainting yourself with your right hand," he said before the Marine could react.

"Actually, I'd be more worried about what you'll be doing for those three weeks if I was you," Aiden shot back. Carson quickly intervened before Rodney could form an appropriate retort.

"Please! Please!" He leaned back in his seat and ran his hands through his hair. "Just because my love life is nonexistent is no reason to destroy yours."

"This has nothing to do with you, Dr. Beckett," Aiden said crisply. He slowly rose to his feet, his eyes still glued to Rodney's. "I've had it up to here with your threats, Dr. Science." Rodney leapt to his feet.

"And I've had it with your macho, swaggering attitude and your idiotic assumption that just because you--."

"Gentlemen! Gentlemen!" Carson cried as he jumped up and put himself between the two men. "If I promise to go and try to make it up with the major, will you two try to make it up between yourselves?"

"He's hardly worth the trouble," Rodney said disdainfully.

"Oh, now you're lying and you know it, Rodney. Don't be an ass," Carson said. "You two sit down and talk things out. I've got to get back to the infirmary. Promise me... promise me you two won't break up over this."

"Well, that depends on the ass, doesn't it?" Aiden said as he sat down. Carson looked at Rodney in silent appeal. Rodney rolled his eyes.

"All right, I'll talk to the young punk." Rodney sat down, refusing to make eye contact with Aiden. Carson backed away.

"You'll talk."

"We'll talk," Aiden assured him.

Carson continued to back away, alarmed by the apparent discord between the two men, who seemed quite content with each other before he joined them. Now their body language practically radiated hostility. He said a silent prayer that he hadn't accidentally ruined things for them before he turned and went through the doors. Aiden watched him leave and waited for five seconds before he spoke.

"He's gone."

"Well, that depends on the ass?" Rodney repeated. Aiden shrugged.

"You called me a punk," he said, "and you threatened to withhold sex for three weeks."

"Well, you knew that was a damned lie," Rodney said. Aiden chuckled softly.

"Yeah, that was a pretty lame threat. So do you think he'll talk to John?"

"I think so, yes, but not because we scared him into it," Rodney said with a smile.

"Then why?"

"I think he was more impressed by what he saw before we started fighting. I think he was envious from the moment he walked in and saw us together. He's got no one he can come down to the dining hall and drink coffee with at midnight."

"Yeah; I think he really wants that," Aiden agreed. "He's been alone all this time."

"Aiden, don't think for a moment that I don't appreciate being able to do this with you," Rodney said as he reached out and took hold of Aiden's hand. He toyed with the soldier's long fingers as he continued. "I was lonely, too. I never thought to look for this--what we have--but I consider myself very fortunate to have found it."

Aiden leaned forward and brought his lips to Rodney's. They shared a brief kiss before he sat back.

"Me too," he said, "even if you are an ass."

Rodney rose from his seat and chuckling, led Aiden out of the infirmary and back to his room.


John descended the steps to the gate room where his team awaited his arrival. He checked his weapon, clipped it to his vest and turned back for a parting comment to Liz before stepping through the gate. When they arrived on the other side, Teyla and Rodney immediately started down the path leading away from the gate. Aiden, however, hung back for a word with his commanding officer.

"Is everything okay, sir?"

"Just ducky, lieutenant," John replied as he put on his sunglasses. "Let's move out."

"If you don't mind my saying so--," Aiden began. John turned to look at him.

"Yes, Ford?"

"You seem a little..."

"A little what?"

"I don't know, exactly. You avoided me in the mess this morning, wouldn't look me in the eye during the briefing--have I done something wrong?"

John shook his head.

"Why would you think so?"

"Well, as I just said--."

"You're imagining things, lieutenant. Let's catch up with the others." John moved out, leaving Aiden to wonder at his odd behavior. John swallowed his guilt and jogged to catch up with Teyla. Rodney turned to wait for Aiden.

"What's up?" he asked when Aiden reached him.

"The major's acting weird."

"What makes you think he's acting?" Rodney quipped. Aiden shot him a look.

"Have you noticed that he wouldn't look either of us in the eye this morning?"

"Yes, I did, as a matter of fact. He seemed rather distracted during the briefing. I attributed it to a lack of sleep due to his frustration over Carson."

"...Or something else," Aiden suggested. "Maybe he doesn't really approve of us."

"Don't be ridiculous! How could he disapprove of us while he's pining over Carson himself?"

"I don't know, but there's something on his mind and I don't think it's Dr. Beckett."

"Are you two planning to join us?" John called to them. As they talked, they'd fallen further behind. Aiden and Rodney immediately picked up the pace.

By the time they returned to base six hours later, John was treating them normally again, although at one point Rodney caught him staring at Aiden's mouth. He dismissed it as woolgathering on John's part; he'd been pensive all day. Rodney worried about his friend and hoped that Carson would keep his promise to fix things. When they returned to base, Elizabeth herded them into a quick debriefing before allowing them to head to the infirmary for their post-mission checks.

"Here goes nothing," Rodney murmured to Aiden when they reached the medical facility. John hesitated at the door and he unceremoniously shoved him forward. Aiden glared at him but Rodney just shrugged and followed John into the room.

"Ah, major," Carson said affably, "I'm glad you and your team made it back in one piece. We've had a fairly busy day here, what with that virus going round. We're really up to our necks in it; I'm the only one available so I'm afraid you'll have to wait your turns. Who's first?"

"That would be me," Rodney said immediately. "I've got work I need to get to elsewhere," he said, stepping forward. Aiden rolled his eyes; Rodney returned a look that took a few seconds to seep into Aiden's head. He smiled and sat down to wait. John sighed and joined him, as did Teyla. When Rodney was done, John began to rise, but Aiden suggested that Teyla go next. John glared at him but said nothing.

"All done, Teyla," Carson said as he pulled back the curtain. "Lieutenant?"

"I'm next," John said as he rose to his feet. "Rank has its privileges." He lumbered over to the table and hopped up on the bench. Aiden sighed and folded his arms. He found Rodney in the dining hall nearly an hour later.

"So? Did they talk?" he asked as Aiden sat down at his table.

"I thought you said you had work to do."

"You know I can't think on an empty stomach. And you know full well what I was trying to do back there."

"Well, your plan backfired. Teyla went after you, but the major insisted on going ahead of me. He didn't say a word to Dr. B through the entire exam, even though the doc spoke to him," Aiden reported. Rodney sighed.

"That thick-headed, clueless, obtuse, asinine--hello, major," Rodney said abruptly shifting gears. "Care to join us?"

"Who were you laying into just now?" John asked suspiciously as he sat down.

"You, sir," Aiden said bluntly. Rodney looked at him in surprise.

"And to think, just yesterday I got kicked for being honest."

"Me?" John asked.

"You! Yesterday you were put out because the doc wouldn't give you the time of day," Aiden complained. "Today Dr. Beckett was trying to make nice and you just gave him the cold shoulder."

"I did not," John protested lamely.

"You answered his questions about the mission with 'Ask Ford.' And when he asked how you were feeling you didn't say anything."

"Maybe I smiled."

"Maybe my ass!" Rodney spat back. "Major, if you want to--."

"John," Aiden said calmly as he grabbed Rodney's flailing wrist and placed it on the table, "don't blow this. At least hear him out, find out what the doc has to say."

"Yeah, aren't you a little too old to be playing hard to get?" Rodney asked. Aiden and John shot him a look.

"What Rodney's trying to say is--."

"Rodney's right here and perfectly capable of speaking for himself," Rodney snapped.

"We all know that well enough," Aiden said with a roll of his eyes.

"Look, I'm trying to help the major deal with his pathetic excuse for a love life."

"Hey!" John protested.

"Can you deny it, major?" Rodney asked. John pouted and scratched his head.

"No." He glanced at each of the men.

"So talk to him," Aiden pleaded. John sighed.

"All right, I'll talk to him."

"Now," Rodney said.

"He's busy now," John replied. "You heard him; he's up to his--." John abruptly rose to his feet and picked up his tray. Aiden frowned.

"Where are you going?"

"Don't you worry your pretty little head about it," John said enigmatically. He saw Radek approaching with a tray. "Worry about him." He went back to the counter, pausing to greet Radek as he passed.

"Swell, your groupie is back," Rodney groaned. "Let's go."

"I'm not done eating," Aiden complained as Radek reached the table.

"Ah, my two favorite people in Atlantis," he grinned as he sat down opposite Aiden. Rodney rolled his eyes and groaned again.


"Where's the doc?" John said as he entered the infirmary. A nurse looked up and smiled.

"He's in his office and if that's for him I think you've just made a friend for life," she replied, eying the item in his hands. John smiled and walked over to Carson's small office, where he found the doctor sitting back in his chair with his eyes closed.

"Looks as though I'm just in time," John said as he walked in. Carson opened his eyes just as John placed the tray on the desk in front of him. He started, but John placed a hand on his shoulder to still him.

"Major?" Carson sputtered. "What's all this?"

"It's called food, something you keep insisting I need more of," John said wryly. "You told me to go eat something when I left earlier. I figured that since you were stuck here with all your patients..."

"Thank you, major, that's very thoughtful of you," Carson said as he eyed the tray laden with sandwiches, mugs of coffee and a few pieces of native fruit that resembled a persimmon. "There's quite a bit of food here," he observed.

"Figured I'd stick around and join you, if you don't mind," John said tentatively. "Dr. Zelenka had just arrived in the mess when I left and I wasn't up for watching Rodney having another meltdown."

"Not at all, I'd appreciate the company," Carson said as he reached out and snagged a second chair with his foot. John considered shutting the door before he sat down, but Carson used his ATA gene to do it before he could ask permission. "There, now we can dine uninterrupted. And we can talk. We should probably talk, John."

"Yeah," John said. He watched Carson pick up half a sandwich and did the same. "I guess I owe you an apology."

"I'm the one who should apologize," Carson said. "I called you a clueless bastard and that wasn't fair, not to mention unprofessional. I was reacting to my own frustration."

"You were frustrated by my obtuseness," John insisted, but Carson shook his head.

"You're a smart man, but you're not a mind reader, John. I couldn't expect you to know what I was unwilling to say."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

Carson put down his sandwich and took a sip of coffee before he spoke again. John waited impatiently, chewing food he could no longer taste.

"The Babe," Carson said, as though that would explain everything.

"What's he got to do with anything?"

"I thought you were like everyone else around here. And being around him more than anyone else, I assumed you'd succeed where others failed."

"Carson, Ford's my second in command! I wouldn't screw him even if--. All right, so yeah, I was interested; I'm only human. But I would never have followed up on that interest because it's inherently dangerous. I'm relieved to see that Ford's thing with McKay hasn't affected their behavior in the field one bit, which is probably why I never imagined that there was anything between them. But I'm not like them, Carson. When I fall I tend to fall hard. I don't think that I could ever be emotionally distant from someone I cared about, so if Ford and I were involved I would inevitably compromise us in the field. So, yes; I think he's hot, but there was never a snowball's chance in hell that I'd act on it."

Carson said nothing as he picked up his sandwich and continued to eat. John picked up his own sandwich and then put it down again.

"And Ford was well out of the picture when this tension between us began, anyway," he added. "You knew he was with Rodney!"

"You asked why I'd never spoken," Carson said calmly. "I knew Aiden Ford was gay, knew that he could have his pick of lovers in Atlantis, and assumed that he would pick you. I didn't know your sexual preference, but I figured if he wanted you, he would persuade you to see things his way. I've seen more than one straight man who'd be willing to try things his way if he just said the word."

"But after you found out--."

"By the time I found out about him and Rodney I had all but given up on you," Carson admitted.

"Why? You never even tried to--."

"I knew I wasn't the only one looking, hoping... You're just as desirable around here as The Babe. If he didn't get you it was only a matter of time before someone else did."

"And you were just content to sit back and let that happen?" John said incredulously. Carson shrugged.

"I know my limits, John. I have no hope of competing against the likes of --. Well, you've got too many admirers to name."

"I'm only concerned with one right now," John said carefully as he drew his chair a bit closer. "I'm concerned about the guy who seemed to take it in stride that Ford, who by your account could have anyone he wanted, chose Rodney out of all the people in Atlantis. Is it so inconceivable that I might choose you?" Once again, Carson didn't speak right away. John heaved an impatient sigh and took the sandwich from his hand. "Carson?"

"What do you want me to say, John?"

"Tell me that I have a chance!"

"Why? Because you know I want you? Forgive my bluntness, John, but I've got more pride than that."

"Than what?" John cried, leaping out of his seat.

"Why are you suddenly so interested in me?"

"Oh, I get it," John said, as he began to pace. "You think I'm just throwing you a bone here. And you called me a clueless bastard. You know, I've actually thought long and hard about your question. Ford pretty much asked me the same thing, not in so many words. I sloughed it off at the time, but I've given it a lot of thought ever since."

"And do you have an answer?" Carson asked, still stinging from John's insult.

"Yes," John said as he turned his chair backwards and sat down again. He folded his arms and rested them on the back of the chair. "Yes I do," he said with a glowing smile. "When he asked, I told him that you and I were both lonely guys and we could be lonely together. But if that were simply the case, I could choose anyone, as you said."

"So?" Carson prompted when John didn't continue. Not that he minded the way John was staring at him...

"So I thought about it and I figured out why I wanted you. You know, I've got to hand it to the kid; he's pretty smart."

"The Babe?"

"Yeah. Get this; Ford said that what he had with Rodney was important. That's a great word, isn't it? Important."

"I'm not following you, John."

"I could sleep with someone--with anyone, really--and it would ease the loneliness for a time and satisfy a physiological urge to fuck, but when it comes right down to it, that's not what I want. I want to be important to someone, the way Rodney and Ford are important to each other. I think I'd be important to you."

Carson considered John's words with an odd little smile on his face; he wasn't sure he completely understood what John was talking about but he liked the sound of it.

"People lust after guys like The Babe and me," John continued. "They don't really care about us, they just crave us. Like Radek; you saw how he fawned over The Babe in the mess yesterday. No doubt he'd bed Ford if he could, but he would be just as content to sit there and bask in his presence. Why? Because it's not Ford he really wants. He wants a little excitement and being around Ford gives him that. Am I making sense?"

"Yes," Carson said. "You're talking about lust versus... something more."

"Yeah; I don't want a little excitement. I want to be with someone who wants me to be a part of his life. Ford said that he and Rodney began their relationship looking to scratch an itch and found that they had more to offer each other--that what they had was important."

"And you would be important to me," Carson nodded. "But could I be important to you?"

"You're already important to me," John said, reaching out to caress his cheek. Carson felt his heart swell as he placed his hand over John's but before he could do anything more he was summoned by the nurse. Carson sighed and rose.

"Eat," he commanded as he headed for the door. John grabbed his hand to prevent him from leaving. He rose to his feet and pulled Carson to him. "John," Carson warned. But John claimed one brief, chaste kiss before he let him go with a promise to talk later.


Aiden dodged and feinted but to his delight, Rodney continued to pursue him aggressively. He hesitated to attack, however, and Aiden began to goad him into making a move. It came faster than he expected; Rodney abruptly swept out a leg in a smooth arc and threw Aiden to the floor. He dove onto Aiden's chest and pinned him neatly.

"Good job," the Marine said proudly. "But you haven't won yet." He flipped Rodney onto his back and reversed their positions. "What did I tell you about immobilizing your opponent?"

"Oh," Rodney panted, "knew I forgot something." He flipped Aiden over again, kicked his knees apart and spread his arms so that he couldn't get any leverage.

"Very good. Now what?"

"To the victor goes the spoils," Rodney declared.

"Are you sure you've won?"

"Might makes right in your world, right?" Rodney said as he stretched Aiden's extremities a wee bit farther, just to be on the safe side.

"Indeed it does."

"I've got ten pounds on you, you're as mobile as a pithed frog--."

"And how do you walk away from this fight," Aiden asked, "or do you plan on just holding me down till I starve to death?"

"Well," Rodney said thoughtfully, "generally speaking, either you or the major comes along to save my sorry ass at this point. But since I no longer have a sorry ass..." Rodney moved swiftly--not as fast as Aiden would have liked but competently enough to probably succeed. He rose up and, keeping Aiden's wrists firmly pinned, planted a knee in his chest. "...I apply sufficient pressure to cut off your oxygen supply."

"Good job," Aiden said proudly.

"I've got to say I preferred the other position," Rodney said as he slipped back to his place between Aiden's legs. "Now what was I saying earlier? Oh yes, to the victor goes the spoils..."

He bent his head to kiss Aiden, who lifted his own to meet him halfway.


In his room, John shook his head disparagingly.

"Rodney, that's the oldest trick in the book. He is so going to get your ass."

But to John's surprise, Rodney released Aiden's hands and they wrapped around his back, slowly massaging their way down to his waist and into his pants.

"Huh," was all John could say as he watched the kiss become more intense. After a couple of minutes, Aiden did flip Rodney onto his back. "Hah!" John cried, but Aiden sat up and pulled off Rodney's sweats before dropping his own and stretching out over Rodney's body again. Aiden allowed himself to be rolled onto his back and John watched in awe as Rodney tore Aiden's tee shirt open and began to kiss his way down his chest.

"So do you watch them often?" Carson asked casually. John shrugged.

"I get bored."

"I never took you for a voyeur, John."

"Well, it's taken nearly a week to get an evening alone with you. I had to pass the time somehow," John said unrepentantly.

"Shamelessly eavesdropping on Aiden and Rodney every night?" Carson said, slightly aghast but turned on in spite of himself.

"Not shamelessly and not every night," John pouted. "They only work out three times a week."

"And do they always have sex during their workouts?"

"No; this is a first," John said as he concentrated on the display. "Definitely a first," he said as he turned his head to get a slightly better look at the action.

"And you just bring up this screen and watch whenever you want," Carson said, as he watched Rodney dip his tongue into Aiden's navel.

"Not whenever I want; I only learned they were sleeping together last Tuesday," John said defensively. "Hey, I was frustrated after you called me a clueless bastard and I got to thinking how good they seemed together and you wouldn't talk to me and I had nothing better to do the other night..."

"I have an idea for something that would help you pass the time," Carson replied, reaching over to take the bowl of popcorn from John's lap. The bulge in John's pants elicited a smile from Carson, who pushed him down on the bed and rolled over to lie on top of him.

"What's your idea?" John said as he let his hands wander under Carson's shirt.

"Still playing dumb, are you?"

The screen disappeared and the lights went out in the room.

"Did you do that? I prefer to make it with the lights on, myself."

"Sorry," Carson said as the lights came back on. "I lose control of my gene when I'm aroused."

"Is that a fact," John said as he nibbled on his throat. "And you know this because..."

"I'd rather not explain it."

"I see," John said with a smile. He'd pursue that at another time. "In that case, I'd like to hear this idea of yours."

"I was thinking that maybe we could do a little wrestling of our own," Carson suggested between kisses to John's face.

"You know anything about hand to hand combat?"

"No," Carson admitted.

"Well, if you're planning on asking Ford for lessons, forget it. Rodney's become a tad possessive."

"I know; I'm the one who treated Dr. Zelenka's black eye. But I figured I'd steer clear of Rodney and just have you teach me anything I need to know."

"You only need to know one thing, Carson," John said earnestly as he pushed Carson's shirt up and urged him to pull it off.

"What's that?" he replied as he sat up so that John could undress.

"Winner takes all."

The End

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