* * *
John wasn't really paying attention to the meeting. He was sprawled in a chair, his gun strapped to his chest, tapping his fingers against the conference table. He'd led a team to a new planet to take plant samples and make first contact. The people had been nice, but Teyla had never met them, and Elizabeth, the civilian commander, in all her officious capacity, was going to tell him, the military commander, how to proceed on the next mission. Until she did, he really had no need to pay attention.
Until Carson, the doctor, spoke up. "I want to come." The entirety of the Atlantis command staff turned to look at him.
John frowned. "You? Want to come on a mission? Nobody's even bleeding yet. What, is this like an omen?"
He felt slightly guilty when Carson swallowed and said, "The mineral tests have been positive, and the people are healthy. I'd like to learn more. I'm worried about..." Carson trailed off.
John leaned forward. "You're worried about what?"
"Scurvy. Even with the Daedalus, armament is more important than our diets. And the climate on the mainland is more suited to grains and herbs." Carson took a deep breath to gather his strength. "I'm worried about scurvy."
Rodney, whose hypoglycemia was the stuff of legends, looked pale. He got up from the table. "I'm going to go have a salad. Right now."
Carson called after him, "That's a good idea, Rodney."
Elizabeth crossed her arms. "I guess we'll continue with the negotiations. And Carson, you can go."
Carson smiled weakly.
* * *
When their local village guide was taking them through the village toward the river that was their main source of water, Carson wandered toward one of the huts. John stopped the scouting party and watched the doctor begin to make conversation with a woman who was weaving outside.
John saw that she was pregnant, and Carson was talking softly to her, too soft for any of the Atlantians to hear. "Who's that?" He asked the guide.
"Serea. She's been having a difficult pregnancy. The midwife's worried. But I'm surprised she's talking so openly to a stranger like that."
"Carson can get a person to do almost anything," John said. As he said it, he felt a pang, reminding him that he mostly knew Carson from the times Carson was saving his life, and wasn't even sure Carson trusted him.
"It's not that," the guide said. "Her husband just makes her a bit unapproachable."
Carson smiled at the woman, squeezed her hand, and returned to the team. "Seems I've a patient," he said when he got to John's side.
"Nice," John said. "Can we look at the plants, now?"
Carson frowned. "It could be the water, you know."
"That's not the point, Doc."
Carson folded his arms. "Don't you want to live forever?" He beckoned to the guide, and they strolled off.
Rodney came up behind John. "I believe he just put you in your place, Colonel."
"You're not worried about the competition in snarking?"
"I can handle it. I'm still the greatest." Rodney clapped John on the back.
"Well, I'm the one who protects your asses. I'm the one with the biggest gun. Don't forget it." John said.
Rodney smirked. "Biggest gun? I won't forget that."
John rolled his eyes.
* * *
Walking back from the river later that afternoon, muddy and tired and just wanting a bath, they met the man of the house. John didn't even recognize Serea outside her home, thinking that the aliens always looked somewhat the same at first, but her husband knew them, of course. There were only eight on the team, and they stood out.
"I'm Derk," the man said, and focused on Carson. "You stay away from my wife."
"I..." Carson stammered. "Look, mister..."
John could tell from the set of Carson's jaw and the thickening of his native accent that Carson was about to defend his medical practices, which was probably not the wisest approach, even if it was the truth. So he stepped between them, and said, clearly, "Is there a problem here?"
"I know why you're really here," Derk said. His voice was a shrill growl, and John thought if he weren't carrying a gun, Derk's hands would already be on him. "You say you want our water, but you really want our women. You're not getting her."
"We don't want your women," John said.
"What's wrong with our women?"
Rodney smirked, and opened his mouth to say something. John waved at him to hush. "We just don't operate that way. It's a cultural thing."
Derk was sufficiently distracted by processing the phrase that John could take a step back, urging Carson behind him with a push of his shoulder. He didn't know much about water or minerals or, hell, sociology, but he wasn't going to get his team hurt.
"You're lying," Derk concluded. His face contorted with anger.
"No, we're not."
"Oh, effective," Rodney said behind him, and John winced.
"Look, I know Carson's not going to mack on your wife because he's mine." John gripped the barrel of his gun for emphasis. "Mine, do you understand? That's what I mean by cultural."
Derk's eyes widened. He shrugged, and continued his journey down the path toward the river.
"I..." Rodney said behind him.
John lifted his hand. "Shut up."
"I was just going to say, 'That' was effective."
John just shrugged, and started toward the village. Carson fell into step beside him and said "Thanks" in a low voice.
"It's my job," John said.
"I'm going to have to keep treating her," Carson pointed out, and John felt his gut clench at hearing exactly what he did not want to hear.
"Look." He stopped walking and turned to face Carson. "Just...try and keep us out of trouble for a few hours, okay? That's all I ask. It's your mission." Carson looked so chagrined that the anger in John's stomach subsided, and he reached out to squeeze Carson's arm. "Just a couple of hours."
Carson gave him a bashful smile, and John wasn't sure how to respond to that, so he stomped off down the path. At least he had his dignity.
* * *
Feasting took place that night in the town square, with Carson and Rodney sneakily putting pieces of food into plastic sample bags, and John getting as drunk as possible. He was having difficulty, because they believed in fermented fruit-based drinks, and what he was swallowing tasted like moldy cranberry juice. Once they figured out the secret of life, John wagered, they could give thanks by offering the good people of the village some prime hops.
The mayor smiled at John's scrunched face, as if an alien not liking his food was to be expected, and said, "There will be dancing. Do you dance?"
"I don't...I mean, I haven't, in awhile. We do. As a people." John gestured, waving his mug, and feeling a bit dizzy. "We're capable."
"Not against your culture, then?" The mayor smiled politely, and John felt his belly lurch, not just protesting the disgusting things he was swallowing. Oh shit, he thought. He heard about Derk.
He rubbed the back of his head, feeling the scratchy military stubble, trying to take comfort in being an officer doing what he was trained to do. Because pilots so often faked being gay on alien worlds to save face in delicate negotiations. Hell, maybe they did. He smiled. "I believe you'll find our cultures very similar, Mayor. But not too similar."
The mayor laughed. He raised his mug to John, and after hesitating, John lifted his own mug and clinked it with the mayor's. The mayor seemed surprised, but drank heartily, and after John managed to swallow another mouthful of cranberry delight, he said, "See?"
"I do. What do you call that?"
"We call it toasting."
The mayor shook his head. "What we call toasting is heating something over a fire to stiffen it for eating."
John shook his head. "What do you call this, then?"
John nodded. "Fair enough." He leaned back on his elbows and looked at the crowd gathered. Music started to play, all wind instruments, with a single drum in the background, keeping time. John wondered, as the drum was unobtrusive, if it was just there to keep time for the dancing. He asked.
The mayor seemed confused. "Music without dancing?"
John watched the village women, presumably single, asked his men to dance. None approached him, and at first he thought it was because he was at the mayor's left side, but he saw Carson wasn't being asked, either, nor was the Lieutenant Miller, female officer on his team, being approached.
"What's with that?" John asked, gesturing to Miller.
"The women do the invitations. She must ask someone."
"How does she ask the right person? There's matters of status, and pride, and...marital issues..." John cringed at the thought of Derk.
The mayor smiled. "See the young man at the fringes of the crowd? He is well-liked, but painfully shy, and women have given up on him. A dance with an alien would raise his status."
"Not just make him a further outcast?"
The mayor squinted. "Not unless... something goes wrong."
John cleared his throat. "Right." He made eye-contact with Miller, and then jerked his head toward the boy. She nodded back, and got up to approach the boy. John and the mayor both watched as she extended her hand to him, and he blushed sweetly, but accepted.
"Impressive how you do that without a word," the mayor said.
John hunched his shoulders. "I am the commander," he said.
"Are you going to dance?"
"Do I...have to?" John's eyes went to Carson, who was studiously eating some sort of vegetable soup, and pretending not to notice the slight of not being asked to dance. Before he could react to why he'd looked at Carson first, the mayor interrupted his thoughts.
"It is expected."
John forced himself to watch Miller take her awkward partner in her arms. "Any suggestions on my partner?"
The mayor's breath broke. "Surely, that is not my place."
John shook his head. So it would be Carson. Fine. He got up, wobbled a bit from the alcohol in his system, and brushed his hands on his pants. Memories of 8th grade gym class on ballroom dancing day flooded back to him. He quivered. But the Air Force had toughed him up. He could lead.
He went to Carson. "We should dance."
Carson looked up with an expression of surprise and fear. "We should what?"
John extended his hand. "Come on. They're staring at us."
"Do you even know how ta dance, Colonel?" Carson's brogue teased him, and John scoffed and grabbed his arm, hauling him up.
"I can do a fair shake, doctor."
"It's just," Carson protested, as John dragged him toward the dance floor, "I don't normally dance with men. On alien worlds. After drinking godawful cranberry juice. Whose idea was this, anyhow? I don't like going through the Stargate!"
John turned around and grabbed Carson's shoulders. "Carson. It was your idea."
"Well, being your boyfriend was yours." Carson poked John in the chest.
Carson stepped back and took John's hand, falling into a lively rhythm that matched the steady drumbeat. He tried imitating the locals around him, and John found himself struggling to keep up with the footwork.
"Here." John pulled on Carson's fingers, forcing him into step.
"Ah, you have to lead? Are you that macho?" Carson's eyes twinkled in the torchlight.
"I'm not macho," John said. But he knew, after years of being the skinny nerd, the plane geek, that he wanted to be. "I'm just a pilot."
"Right." The music changed, and Carson swept himself into John's arms, pressing against his chest, before spinning out again. "You're just strong and broad-chested and a leader of men."
John smiled in spite of himself. The remark, coming from Rodney, would have rankled him, but from Carson, it seemed gentle. Like Carson was actually interested in his history. "Well, I wasn't always. You?" He'd been surprised at the strength of Carson's grip, just as he'd been surprised when he'd seen the outline of Carson's back through a thin shirt in the gymnasium.
"Not always a doctor," Carson said, grinning. "I wasn't first string-rugby, but I wasn't sitting on the bench."
"I have to say," John said, as he grabbed Carson's waist and circled him, forgetting about the crowd around them, "I thought you were a bit..."
"That's the Brits." Carson chuckled. "You've nothing to fear from me. And I take it you're a typical red-blooded American."
"That's right." John did his best imitation of a grunt, rewarded at Carson laughing and shaking his head. But he wondered about the undercurrent of conversation, especially given their current situation. As far as this planet was concerned, he owned Carson, and as far as Atlantis was concerned... Who knew what his reputation was. He hadn't exactly been cautious with his escapades, but he hadn't come to Carson with warts on his dick, either. John decided to be bold. "So you're not..."
"Foppish?" Carson looked over John's shoulder, and stepped away from him, dancing in time to his foot movements, but no longer touching him. "This isn't the conversation we should be having while we're dancing together."
"No, no. You're right." John swayed. "But they certainly think... And yet, I don't see any similar couples out here. Do you think we've...contaminated them?"
Carson blinked. He stepped closer to John, into his circle, and John took his waist again. "Is this a Prime Directive thing? Or do you think... Maybe normally they beat it out of their children. And everyone ends up like Derk." Carson actually shuddered, and John held him closer.
"Come on, Doc. I don't think they do that. We haven't seen any evidence... I've read enough of Colonel O'Neill's reports to know what to look out for, and what to take at face value. As long as these people don't have a secret underground bunker full of advanced Ancient technology, we're good."
Carson laughed. "If you say so, Colonel."
"I do say so." John puffed out his chest, and wondered why, when Carson put his hand there, over his heart, his pulse beat harder.
* * *
The road was weaving and waving under John as he clung to the mayor and tried to stay upright until he got to his room at the inn. The mayor was laughing at him, and John confessed he may have enjoyed the food and wine more than he was letting on earlier. As they climbed up the wooden stairs, John saw Miller, decidedly more sober than he was, smiling at the young man she'd picked up. He nodded at her and she blushed, and then the mayor was dragging him inside.
Upstairs he was led to the first room, and the mayor pushed open the door. There was Carson, squinting into a mirror on a dresser and shaving. John blinked. "Carson?" He glanced at the mayor.
"Is it not customary for married couples to share dwellings? I wish to be... accommodating..."
"Yes, it's customary... married?"
Carson was looking at them, razor in his hand, wearing his usual expression of befuddlement and alarm.
"You're not married? But Derk..."
John winced. One little lie to save Carson's butt had escalated into something he was far too drunk to think through. "It's fine," he said, entering the room and turning around to smile at the mayor, hoping to force his usual bravado. "I am honored and humbled by your hospitality."
The mayor bowed his head. "We are glad to have you as our guests. Please feel as if this were your home." Then he left, leaving John alone in the room with Carson.
John sighed. "Home, sweet home."
"There's only one bed," Carson said, as he resumed shaving. "It's comfy, though."
"Comfy? Who says comfy?" John ignored the actual object of the conversation.
"Well, if you don say it with an accent, there's no use saying it at all."
"Whatever." John stomped over the bed and sat down to unlace his boots. "We're adults, right?"
Carson wiped his face with a towel and turned around. "I don't think that's what we should be discussing when we're about to be in bed together."
John nodded. "This planet is just full of inappropriateness, isn't it?"
"Aye, and lovely rooms."
Carson was right. The room, duskily-lit by coal in the fireplace and candles on the dresser and nightstand, featured two ornately-carved chairs, a large feather bed, and paintings on each wall. John looked from an alien waterfall to the portrait of a stern-looking hunter. He studied the intensity of the painted eyes, and wondered what on this world was worth pursuing, until he felt Carson's weight shift the bed.
"Colonel... John... I'm sorry if I've burdened you with all this..."
Carson's voice was shy, and John looked over his shoulder to see Carson lying against the pillows, wearing just an undershirt, the blankets up to his waist already. "Don't think about it," he said. "This is my job. Protecting you."
"Well. You do it well."
"Thanks." John leaned back against his pillow and swung his legs onto the bed, wriggling under the blanket. His head ached, but he felt awake, and the awkwardness of being so close to another man in bed was alerting his senses. He could feel Carson's heat near his arm, and he could smell the mix of spiced wine and wood and mud Carson carried.
"So, um..." John wondered what married men talked about in bed. He wondered why he could even think about it so casually, when, God, it was Carson, close enough to feel. "Do you get homesick?" He finally asked, a forbidden question, because leaving Earth for another galaxy had been too big a sacrifice to take back.
"Aye... I miss the green hills... the jagged cliffs... The sound of real fiddle music. I miss my labs, and thinking of how there was a whole world I was helping, not just a few hundred people. I miss the smell of Earth. Every planet is different. And God, how I miss Edinburgh..." Carson sighed wistfully. "You, Colonel?"
John rolled over on his side, looking at the dimming coals in the fireplace. He could hear the music Carson described, imagine the city, feel the longing in Carson's voice. "Yeah," he said. "That's what I miss, too." Sham marriage or not, he couldn't deny that being so close to Carson provoked an ache inside him, one no amount of logic or distance could soothe.
* * *
Morning came, casting golden sunlight on John's face until he was forced to acknowledge it. He stumbled out of bed, and listening to Carson's faint snoring, looked around for the proper way to relieve his bladder. A hole in the corner of the floor, next to the dresser with the water basin and pitcher, seemed the most likely bet. Almost like plumbing, he told himself.
When he was done, he looked over his shoulder at Carson, making sure the man was still asleep. Carson was sprawled on his back, one hand curled on his chest, the other hanging off the edge of the bed. His tee-shirt stretched over a strong chest, and John's eyes were drawn to the thick biceps that peeked from the sleeves. He had always felt scientists were soft, unmilitary, and prissy. But he couldn't look at Carson and see anything less than a man.
He glanced back at the accouterments on the dresser. Another long day of slogging through mud and forest awaited him, but it wouldn't hurt to try and start out fresh. He pulled off his shirt and tossed it toward his pack, and then picked up a towel to dip into the pitcher of fresh water. He scrubbed his armpits and chest, and dampened a different corner of the towel to wash his face. When he stretched to crack his back, he heard a groan behind him.
Carson was watching him with his usual bemused expression, and John's first thought was with Carson's eyes that wide, he looked so young, before the more pertinent thought of how long Carson had been watching came to mind. "How long have you been watching?"
"I woke up when I heard your back pop," Carson said, shrugging and pushing himself into a sitting position. "Do you want me to take a look at that? Not that you look... bad."
John flushed, and between Carson's assessment of his bare back and the thought of Carson's hands on him, he was suddenly very hard, and unable to turn around. "I'm all right." He lowered his shoulders. "You like what you see?"
"Well, it's a bit butch, but it'll do."
With the lilting words enchanting him, intentionally or not, John knew he had to have Carson. Was going to have him. He turned around, his jaw working his face into a predatory sneer, his shorts tented with arousal, but Carson was already sitting up, facing away from him to pull on boots. John watched him pull on his uniform jacket, and then turned around to hang up the towel. Another crick started in his back and he winced.
"Here, let me. Don't cause me trouble, aye?" Carson's presence was behind him. Before John could react, Carson's arms were around his waist, and he was lifting him, changing the pressure on his spine so his vertebrae could shift into a more natural position, and all desire aside, the popping in his back felt wonderful. John leaned back into Carson, momentarily weightless. Carson chuckled against his ear.
The door burst open. "Guys, are you ready to go--" Rodney's voice. John glanced over, to see the look of horror, comprehension, and deep amusement play over Rodney's face as he saw them embraced. "Guess you're not ready yet. I'll wait outside."
"Rodney," John called, but he was gone.
Carson let him go, and went to grab his pack. "I guess my team is already waiting," he said, with a blush that made John feel oddly guilty as he watched Carson rush through the door, still pulling on his utility belt.
John was left alone to inventory of Carson pressed against his bare skin, Carson's arms squeezing him, Carson's scent surrounding him. And there, in the list of sensations, was Carson's cock, pressed against his ass, stiff enough to give him away. As he went to get a clean shirt, John renewed his vow to have Carson.
He didn't believe in the institution of marriage, but he believed in consummation. Carson and Rodney were already gone by the time he made his way downstairs. The mayor was waiting, and so was breakfast, which included a milky root that took away the edges of his hangover. They talked.
Weir joined them before lunch, after a three hour puddle jumper ride. She was eager to negotiate with a world that had never encountered the Wraith, and seemed, according to Carson, to live well. John was reminded of the promised land of Kheb, although these people possessed no mystical properties. As far as he could tell. Derk didn't seem particularly enlightened. John clenched his jaw, and forced a smile when Weir noticed his change of expression and frowned at him.
Kheb or not, these people had never seen an ocean, and Weir used that as the opening point of her negotiations. Atlantis was a splendor they'd never seen, and she was offering it, in return for the splendor they had to give. Win-win, John thought, wondering why they had to spend hours talking about it.
The afternoon waned, and Rodney came in, offering Weir a broad smile somewhere between warmth and smugness. Miller came in with him, and the rest of the two teams, but not Carson. John stood. "Where's Doctor Beckett?"
Rodney shrugged. "He wanted to check on that pregnant woman. She was outside her house when we passed by. Looking all distressed and pregnant, as usual."
Weir scowled. "Rodney."
"And you left him alone?"
"He didn't think the added presence of men would make her relax for her pre-natal," Rodney said. "He sent us on our way."
John clenched his fist. "Why didn't you leave Miller?"
Rodney shrugged again. "I didn't think of it?"
John took off for the door.
"Hey!" Rodney called after him. "I'm sure he's fine. He's a...doctor. Shit." Rodney ran after John.
Weir glanced at the mayor. "What's going on?"
"I'm sure it's just... an overreaction," he said, but he was standing, and Weir stood with him. "We should go, just in case."
"Yes," Weir said, intensity in her voice, "We should."
* * *
Carson was in the middle of the road, crawling on his hands and kneels, coughing up mouthfuls of blood. John found him first, fell at his side, gripped his shoulders. "Carson! Are you okay?" A stupid question that seemed to break Carson, who fell against John, sagging with sudden unconsciousness.
John held him, studying the bruises on his face and neck, restlessly feeling his body for broken bones and internal injuries, feeling tears sting at his own eyes. "You're safe. I've got you."
Carson's breath was ragged, as if he were breathing around a throat full of bones, and John let him down gently, and rolled him onto his back. Then, with his hands in Carson's, holding the bruised and torn knuckles, seeing that Carson had tried to fight back, against his training, against his creed, trying to save his life, John screamed at the top of his lungs a word that would have brought Carson, immortal and omnipotent, running to his side. "Medic!"
Rodney and Miller came instead, and behind them, soldiers with guns drawn. Soldiers that John could order to kill Derk, without cause, without proof, just on the power of his word. He snarled, the words leaping to his lips.
Weir and the mayor came last, the mayor panting. "Oh, by the power..." The mayor said with anguish.
"Not such a perfect world, is it," John spat, holding onto Carson, wanting to make sure Carson was still warm, still full of life. His fingers gripped Carson's wrist at the pulse, so that he could feel the blood keeping Carson alive rush through him, also. Boiling.
The mayor, ashen-faced, said, "We will deal with it." He gave a quick look to Weir, almost fearful.
She nodded her head. "I warn you, Mayor. My people do not believe in capital punishment."
That wasn't quite true, but the veneer of civility soothed John's rage, until Rodney, leaning over Carson, said, "We can't move him far. He's too badly injured. The puddle jumper ride would be dangerous. Is there anywhere we can take him?"
The mayor gestured to the nearest house. "There. I will call our elementalists. They can help him until your doctors arrive."
Weir nodded. By now the mayor's own security forces, perhaps the police, had arrived, and the mayor gestured toward Derk's house. John stood, letting go of Carson. "I'm coming. My men and I."
"John," Weir said, her voice softening from the harsh orders she'd given to the mayor. "You should stay with Carson."
"I should get whoever did this," John said.
"Do you think revenge is what Carson wants?"
"No." Rodney said it, leaning over Carson, cutting open his shirt with the bayonet he carried at his belt, far more adept than a scientist should ever be at triage. "That's what you want."
"Wouldn't your husband want you at his side when he wakes up?" The mayor's innocent question made Weir's eyes widened and she looked at John.
John gazed down at Carson, broken and still, and his hands tightened into fists.
Rodney spoke again. "Yes. That's what he would want." Even though he was stating, in his mind, the blindingly obvious, John felt the gentle tone in his voice, and his shoulders slumped.
"I'll coordinate the triage," he said, and then Weir and the mayor and his soldiers were gone, without him, to mete out justice. He was left to concentrate his whole being on keeping Carson alive. Carson moaned, and John fell to his knees in the dirt, cupping Carson's neck, stroking his cheeks to comfort him through the pain. "I was supposed to protect you. That's the only thing I'm supposed to be good at. I'm sorry, Carson."
* * *
Six hours later, Derk had confessed and was under house arrest, and the doctors flown in from Atlantis were reporting their findings to Weir. John listened from Carson's bedside. Rodney and Miller were elsewhere, packing up their samples, getting ready to leave. The mayor had protested the abandonment of negotiations and diplomatic relations, but Weir was only thinking of Carson. Gentle Carson, who brought out the sin in others so often when he was only trying to help.
"Cracked ribs, some internal bruising, but nothing burst. Broken arm, probably from trying to fight back. Nasty concussion. As far as what we see goes, the assaulter was a real wimp." The doctor forced a laugh and rubbed the back of his head. His voice withered under Weir's steady gaze.
The mayor cleared his throat. "I believe Serea, his wife, intervened. Derk would never strike her, and thus, she was able to block Doctor Beckett's escape. Once out of sight... out of mind." He shrank back after the report.
"Something like that," came a raspy voice, and they all turned to see Carson, eyes still closed, dampen his lips. "She can move pretty fast, for a pregnant woman who may be breach."
"Breach?" The Atlantian doctor looked alarmed.
"Aye," Carson said, panting, his eyes still closed. "And due any--"
The door to the cottage burst open, and Derk came in, his hair wild, his eyes wide with fear, blood trickling from his forearm, perhaps where a wound had torn as he fought off his guard. "Serea! She's birthing!"
John lunged at him, grabbing his arms and pinning him to the wall near the door. He was breathing heavily, but made no other physical move beyond restraint. Derk being in the same room as Carson wasn't acceptable to him. John wanted to make up for failing Carson before. "Get out," he growled, letting his breath blow over Derk's face. Derk twisted in revulsion, trying to get away.
"You had your chance. Look what you did." John knew, feeling Derk squirm against him, that the doctor had been right in labeling Derk a coward. Derk had gone after the weakest of the alien team, and all because he'd felt threatened. Planet after planet, galaxy after galaxy, it all came down to manhood. John felt the anger rise in him again, thinking of Derk going after Carson because he was the gentlest, but he also wanted to laugh, wanted to shake Derk, ask the mayor what Derk had been like as a child. To see whether he was like Carson, who'd played rugby, or John, who'd grown up and gotten himself a gun.
"I have to go to her," Carson said, struggling to sit up.
"You can't--" John turned around, still keeping his hands on Derk, twisting his shoulders to see Carson's grimace of pain. Weir went to Carson's side, held him.
Carson shook his head. "I have to help her. The midwife can't do the Caesarian alone. She doesn't trust anyone else."
"It's true," Derk said, shaking against the wall.
The mayor went to Carson to help him up, and John released Derk, who went to Carson's other side, but Carson shrank away with a faint cry of fear. The sound broke John, and if he'd still had his weapon in his hands, he'd have killed Derk right there. But Derk led the way, and Carson, his ribs wrapped, his skin ashen with pain and weakness, followed.
John was left with Weir, who came to his side. "He's just a man," John said.
"Not so alien after all?" Weir put her hand on his shoulder.
"Not so perfect."
* * *
Carson was back in his own infirmary on Atlantis, lying in a bed, still strapped to monitors. "Some fountain of life I found," he said, his voice cracking, when John came toward his bed.
John smiled. "Well, I feel refreshed."
Carson just rolled his eyes.
"How are you feeling?" John sat on the edge of the bed.
Carson put a hand to his temple. "Well, I never want to go off world again, I can tell you that."
"Aye?" John grinned.
Rodney ambled in. "Well, well. The happy couple."
"Shouldn't you have brought flowers, Colonel?"
"If I had flowers," John said, narrowing his eyes at Rodney, "I would have shoved them up your ass."
Carson laughed, then winced with pain. "I'll let you know, Rodney," he gasped, "If John's a better kisser than you are."
Rodney frowned. "Right. Hardly. Well, I was stopping by to see a real doctor. One that's not in the middle of 'Physician, heal thyself.' I'm glad see you've got your man to take care of you." He gave a little wave and wandered to the next compartment of the medical lab.
Your man. John looked at Carson, who, with the fading bruises on his cheeks and the sleepy slackness of his jaw, looked even more vulnerable than he had planetside. Something tugged at John's insides, and he swallowed hard, wondering what to say, to feel Carson out, without losing himself. Suggesting a date would be inappropriate, and John thought, he'd never really been on a date. He'd just fucked and tried to forget about it in the morning, the way he tried to forget Carson's scent. The way he suddenly missed Scotland, even though he'd never been there. John said, "We should...talk."
Carson's eyes found his, held them, less cautious than Carson's voice, which whispered brokenly, "Aye, we should." And John saw desire there, or rather, felt it, in the way Carson's weight shifted on the bed, so that his hip pressed into John's, an accident of the smallness of the bed if John wanted to think about it that way.
John stood, and leaned over the bed, bracing himself on the metal bars on each side. He leaned close to Carson, and said, "When you're well."
Carson swallowed, and nodded.
John felt an answering twitch in his crotch, and wondered if he could wait that long. But he could. Crisis after crisis came, and the Daedalus, and physical therapy and off-world missions that turned into hostage situations or slaughters. John lost one of his men in the passage of three months, but he didn't lose Carson. He thought about Carson while he was off-world, while he was in the shower, and now he was going to find out if Carson thought about him.
He found Carson in his office near the medical lab, and entered, locking the door behind him. Carson was deep in concentration over a computer, and hardly looked at him. "Are you all right, Colonel?"
"Just fine. Came to see how you were." John kept his voice low, and when Carson looked up, studying him curiously, he tried to remind Carson that they'd been married three months ago, and it had been almost good. "There was an offer on the table."
Carson cleared his throat. "To see if you were a better kisser than Rodney, aye."
"So you have been thinking about it," John said. He crept closer to the desk.
Carson looked away. "I have."
"And how are you feeling?"
Carson closed his eyes. His lips were slightly parted. The lips John wanted to feel on his own, and on his body. He reached out to cup the back of Carson's neck. Carson arched into the touch. "I'm a man who gets what he wants, Doc," John said, and if Carson had had a chance to back out, it had already passed.
"And I..." Carson wet his lips, and then pursed them, seeming to draw strength from inside himself. He still didn't look at John when he finished saying, "...Am a man who gives people what they need."
John pulled Carson out of his chair, and while Carson was still teetering to find his balance on his feet, John kissed him, hard and fast and wet, pressing his tongue against Carson's lips until Carson opened up to accept him, and then Carson was sucking on him and John was the one stumbling forward, his hands gripping Carson's head tightly.
Carson's arms slid around his waist, yanked him closer. When John lifted his head, gasping for breath, Carson's teeth found his neck, and John groaned, wondering how he'd managed to go so long without Carson's lips on him. Even now, it was unbearable, and he seized Carson's mouth again, sucking on his lower lip, and pushing Carson backwards, until he ended up against the shelves lining the wall.
"Tell me," John said, running his hands along Carson's chest, kissing along his jaw, feeling the sharp prickle of the short beard.
Carson groaned, digging his fingers into John's shoulders. "When I met you, I suppose. You were so... so much more than a man. The kind of man who'd never talk to me. But I didn't know what I was doing." He sighed when John spun him around, and pushed up against him, so that John's crotch rubbed against his ass. "But... what it's like to dance with you. To be married to you. I didn't know I could feel those things with a lad."
John licked the back of Carson's neck and Carson moaned. "Oh, but I'm feeling them now."
"I have to have you," John said, and bit into Carson's earlobe.
Carson arched back, pushing his ass into John, showing strength and fight that surprised him, and stoked his desire. When Carson said, "Anything, anything," John lost the ability to think. He gave into his lust, with the promise that he'd make it soft and gentle for Carson later. Now, conscious enough of Carson's sore ribs and knitting arm, he angled himself back, until his thighs hit the edge of the desk. He sat down, quickly unbuttoning his pants. Carson followed, falling into the desk chair.
John pulled out his penis, already hard in his hand, and when Carson's head descended, with an "Oh god, yes," coming from his lips before they encircled the head, John stopped even thinking about how more injured Carson was going to be at the end of it all, and just fell backwards onto the desk, scattering papers, as his cock disappeared into Carson's mouth.
Carson sucked him with a novice eagerness, taking as much of John's cock as he could, then too much, and gagging. He backed off, licking all over, tasting the fluids that leaked onto his tongue. John gasped, and blindly pushed Carson's head, forcing him back onto his cock, until Carson got the idea and closed his lips, creating a wet, slippery suction that John pistoned against, until he was rock hard in Carson's mouth and wanting more.
He sat up, and pulled Carson's head up again to kiss him. Carson's kisses tasted like him, like sweat, like cock, and he urged Carson to his feet, so that Carson's crotch was even with his. Carson grunted wordlessly and bucked when John cupped him, feeling the penis straining against Carson's pants, feeling the weight of his balls, touching him boldly as if the clothes he wore every day were nothing.
Carson tugged on his ears to focus his attention on kissing, and John gave himself into the biting and sucking, while he worked open Carson's pants and reached inside for his cock, short and thick in John's grasp. Carson was forced to pull away from the kiss to breathe when John started jerking him. "Have you fucked a man, Carson?"
"I..." Carson closed his eyes. He held onto John's shoulders, leaning on him, panting. "...haven't fucked much of anyone."
John smiled, feeling wild, wanting all of Carson at once, knowing only one way to do this. He pushed himself off the desk and bent over, taking satisfaction in Carson's, "Oh, god." John was usually the one doing the fucking, but this felt right. He was still in control, still directing Carson, and he knew being filled would only make him more of Carson's man, and more fulfilled, himself. Flexing his arms against the desk, he waited with delicious anticipation for that rough, burning touch from Carson.
"We should have...protection," Carson said, his Gaelic lilt almost indecipherable as he mumbled against John's back, where he was taking a taste, grazing his teeth along shoulderblades.
John thrust back, feeling Carson's cock, exposed and hard, press between his cheeks. "God, Doc. Of all the people who would know my medical history..."
"Aye. Good point." Carson stepped away, rummaging through the supply cabinet next to the wall, and came back, spreading something cool against John's anus. Gel that quickly warmed on Carson's fingers as they slipped into John, and then Crason gripped his ass, and with almost clinical precision and pace, entered him. John felt the pain as the ring of muscle stretched, grudgingly allowing in the slippery, lubed cock, and he cried out, but then it was his strength he used to dictate the fucking, thrusting back onto Carson, impaling himself, until Carson just grabbed him around the waist and held on.
John felt Carson's weight, fought against it, pushed back with his own weight, and squeezed Carson's cock inside him, and he didn't know he was growling until Carson said against his ear, a little breathlessly even though he was on top, "You sound like an animal." John closed his eyes, enjoyed the humping, and listening to the increasing, heavy pants against his neck that turned into guttural moans that told him Carson was going to come first. John relished it. "Yes," he said. "Now."
Carson bellowed, and then seemed to stop breathing altogether, and then John felt a rending at his ass and wetness. The warm liquid trickled down his thigh, followed by another spurt that landed against his cheek, and he grinned, almost laughed.
"Oh, God," Carson said, and John heard him fall into the chair. "Just a moment, and I'll..."
John turned around, and stood in front of Carson, still mostly dressed, with his cock in his hand. "Just, hold still..." He said, and though Carson was leaning toward him, lips parted, John grabbed his shoulder and held him at bay, while her jerked himself with his other hand, knowing what caresses, what pressures, would bring him release while he studied Carson's flushed, sweaty face and swollen lips. "You are... handsome," he said, and he came, spilling onto Carson's chest, staining his shirt, gasping as he jerked himself until his come barely dribbled from the tip of his cock.
Carson grinned bashfully. "Aye, thank you, John. You're not such a bad looking one yourself."
John fell back onto the desk, letting his cock rest limply against his thigh for the moment. Wanting water, but still feeling heat and desire. After all the waiting, that had happened faster than he'd planned. "What now?"
"You know what they say... First comes love, then comes marriage..."
"Then comes..." John cringed. "Maybe just... this again."
Carson nodded. "That's acceptable. But... we can never tell Rodney."
"Agreed. But don't worry." John rubbed the back of his head. "He knows married couples don't fuck."
Though he was a pilot and an astronaut, Carson's responding laughter carried him higher than he'd ever been.