Title: Half a League Onward
Pairing: Sheppard/Sumner, an AU to the AU where Sumner survives, circa The Brotherhood/Letters From Pegasus
Word Count: 2,880
Etc: This pairing was entirely raisintorte's idea and was written to cheer her up while staying at work until 11pm. wojelah was a huge help in helping me figure out Sheppard's major malfunctions. They and omglawdork were fabulous enablers. The title and Sumner's quote near the end are from "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Lord Alfred Tennyson.
Half a League Onward
John sat down stiffly in the chair next to Sumner's desk and took the cup of whiskey his CO handed him. He took a gulp, bracing himself against the acid warmth in his mouth and throat, and then looked Sumner right in the face. "We're going to have to tell her," he said.
"She already knows," Sumner said, knocking back his own drink. "She doesn't know what she knows, but she knows something happened on that Hiveship and she knows we've been lying about it ever since."
John stared at the amber liquid in the dull metal cup. "You know," he said, in what he thought was a fairly mild tone. "I thought I'd seen a lot. Gotten used to a lot. And really, intergalactic space vampires who eat your life through their hands and then spit it back in to you - " He paused to consider the statement. " - it really doesn't sound all that bad before you say it out loud."
"You think you've seen a lot?" Sumner asked disparagingly. "Try going through the gate in our own galaxy. O'Neill tell you about the Nox?"
John shook his head. "I probably read about them when I was mainlining mission reports but I don't know. There was a lot to read and not much time to do it."
"Creepy little fairy people," Sumner said. "They sparkle."
John looked up to say Seriously? but the words wouldn't pass his lips. Because of course Sumner was serious. Sumner was never anything but serious. He let his eyes linger for a long moment, whiskey - God, his tolerance was shot - and impending death making him brave. Sumner's jawline was sharp and appealing, tighter than it had been when he stepped into Atlantis. The skin around his mouth smoother. His eyes, still lined, but the skin didn't puff or sag. If Elizabeth hadn't already guessed, she knew, at least, that something had happened, even if Sumner was right and she didn't know what.
"What are you looking at?" Sumner asked, but his voice didn't have its usual bite.
"Nothing. Sir." John returned his eyes to his whiskey, feeling irritated at being caught but neither ashamed nor frightened. Nothing like some intergalactic space vampires bearing down on you to keep things in perspective.
"Nothing?" Sumner asked. Then, "If you see something you like, John, you should go for it. Not much time left."
John looked up at the sound of his given name and found Sumner's blue eyes steady on him. They were assessing, like always, but the coldness and judgmental cast were gone. In their place was fondness, amusement, maybe a little ruefulness. John set his cup on Sumner's desk and leaned forward. He rose halfway out of his seat and braced one hand on the desk beside him. Sumner lifted his chin and when John hesitated, lifted his hand to wrap around the back of John's neck and pull him close.
John didn't know what to do with his hand as they kissed, so he finally just rested it on Sumner's shoulder. Sumner's hand closed over his wrist, strong and sure. John shifted his palm to press against the skin of Sumner's neck, just inside the collar of his t-shirt. It was an odd and awkwardly sweet kiss. John wasn't in the most comfortable position and Sumner didn't have much leverage.
It took him a moment to realize Sumner was pushing him away.
"I, uh - " he started, straightening up with a painful twinge in his back.
"Can't be comfortable," Sumner said, standing up and putting both hands on John's shoulders. His grip was hard, grounding.
"Sir," John said, and he'd used that word more that night than he had in the months since they stepped through the gate.
"My friends call me Mack," Sumner said, his voice hardly above a growl. "Call me Mack, John."
John nodded, not ready to force the shape of that name through his lips, and kissed Mack instead.
Mack's hands found the skin of John's back under his shirt and John pressed closer. They'd been ramping up to this ever since they tumbled out of the Wraith Queen's lair, wide-eyed and in serious denial. "Up," Mack grunted, dragging John's shirt up over his head and off. John shivered, the ocean air cool on his bare skin. He felt pale and hairy and thin, but this wasn't about showing off. This was about the secrets between them - all of them.
Mack wore his shirt tucked into his trousers and John had to fight with his belt to get the tail of it free. He was cursing under his breath when he realized Mack was chuckling at him. "I told you you'd warm up to me," John said with as much charm and as little guile as possible, "when you got to know me."
Then Mack laughed for real, a deep, warm laugh and said, "Get on the bed, already."
John followed directions for once, sitting on the edge and leaning down to yank loose the laces on his boots while Mack - it was getting easier to think of him as that now - stripped off his shirt and unbuttoned his trousers. John kicked off his boots and lay back on the bed, slowly undoing the buttons of his own trousers as Mack stripped to the skin.
"Hey." Mack crawled onto the bed next to him, a tight fit, but kind of cozy, in a surreal kind of way, and slipped his hand into John's trousers. His hand was warm and solid and fit around John just as perfectly as he'd ever wanted. "So what do you like?"
"I like this pretty well," John said, pushing into Mack's palm, and that was no lie. This was pretty much the best he'd felt since leaving the good ol' Milky Way and if Mack just kept on moving his hand like that, John would be a happy man.
Mack's grip firmed but he stopped moving. Stopped moving except for his thumb, which still swept up and down John's length. "What else do you like?" he asked huskily. "If you just want this, that's okay by me, but we've got six hours 'til dawn and the words, I'll sleep when I'm dead, just got a whole lot more meaning."
John closed his eyes and turned his face into the pillow as a wave of tension rode his body - not an orgasm, but sensation that took him to the edge before backing away. "Are you offering to fuck me?" he asked, words deliberately muffled by the pillow.
"If that's what you want," Mack said, his own words muffling against the skin of John's neck. John shuddered with another roll of pleasure. He wanted to ask, What if I wanted to fuck you? What if I wanted you to suck me? but wasn't brave enough. Because that wasn't what he wanted.
"Yeah," John said, biting down on his own lower lip between breaths. "That's what I want." John knew he was a control freak of the highest order, knew his COs had said he had no respect for authority, knew that everything they said was true. It was hard to take orders from people when you knew, without a doubt, that you were smarter than them, that you could see things more clearly, that you were right. But Sumner - Mack - he was a good man. Honorable. Smart. Tough. Worthy.
"Take your pants off," Mack told him, slipping his hand up to push the trousers off John's hip. John lifted his butt off the bed and shoved his pants down. Mack helped him kick them off and then they were lying skin-to-skin, cocks nestled together. It was hot and they weren't even doing anything, just lying pressed together from hip to shoulder.
John rolled his hips, trying to push Mack into acting, but Mack just chuckled and caught John's knee. "Are we going to do this?" John asked, half-challenging, half-accusing. Mack had started this and John would be damned if he didn't get fucked tonight.
"Yeah," Mack said in his ear. "We're going to do this." He took a deep breath and let it out and John was surprised to realize it was a little shaky. "You just slow down and let me enjoy this." He released his grip on John's knee and rubbed his palm up, over the back of John's thigh. It was startlingly sensitive and John's dick jumped a little. John tensed, pressing closer, letting Mack's hand slide up to cup the curve of his ass.
He pushed with his hip, meaning to roll them both, but Mack was in immovable object and his grip tightened. "Mack," John warned under his breath.
"I told you to hold your horses," Mack said. The muscle in his jaw twitched and John leaned forward to lick it, earning him another shuddery exhale.
"I don't know if you've noticed," John said, biting his way lightly up to Mack's ear. "But following orders has never really been my strong point."
Before the words had completely left his mouth, John found himself shoved to his back. Mack pushed his leg toward his chest and pressed one finger against his opening. "Funny thing," Mack said dryly as if he hadn't just easily manhandled John into a wide-open, vulnerable, position. "I figured that one out pretty fast."
John barely heard him. A wave of pleasure rocketed through him, carried like oxygen to his lungs. He pushed against Mack's fingers, urging him to slide inside, to touch John where he needed it. "Please," he gritted out, squeezing his eyes closed.
"Hold on." Mack's voice was reassuring. He braced John's leg against his own hip as he leaned over, stretching full length across John to open the nightstand drawer. He eased back, dropping a condom on the bed at John's hip, and thumbing open a tube of Astroglide.
John widened his legs and pushed up a little, a silent hurry up that wouldn't get him scolded.
Mack slicked up his fingers and tossed the tube to the side. Then he touched his finger to John's ass again, sketching careful circles before edging inside.
John groaned at the first push, a wordless confession to how badly he'd needed this.
"You done this before?" Mack asked as he slipped his finger deeper, then stroked it in and out.
"Yeah," John grunted, tired of Mack's verbal probing. He rocked his hips up and down in an impatient demand. "Lots."
"Just not recently," Mack observed and John gritted his teeth. Like he needed a reminder.
Not recently, no, which was pretty obvious by the way he was fucking himself on Mack's hand. It wasn't something he did in the bathrooms at bars, on leave with strangers. But he missed it and if Mack didn't get a move on, John was going to go out of his mind.
John blew out his breath harshly and said, "Fuck me." It came out rough and brittle, like broken glass, and with an undercurrent of need that he hoped Mack hadn't recognized.
"Kids these days," Mack muttered fondly, twisting his finger just enough to make John's hips jerk upward. "No patience at all."
John felt like sobbing and he felt like punching Mack in the face, and he felt like reaching down and jerking himself off, just to stop the endless anticipation. "Bastard," he croaked, reaching for Mack, not sure which of the three he was going for.
"Yeah," Mack said, pausing. He caught John's wrist and pressed it down on the bed. "You'll thank me tomorrow," he promised, and pushed two fingers inside John.
John gave it up. He wasn't about to admit it, but Mack's hand pinning him down, even just the partial restraint, was unbearably hot. He grabbed the pillow behind his head and pushed down on Mack's fingers.
"You'll feel better if you come," Mack said, pressing in and out steadily.
"Not yet," John murmured, riding with the rhythm of Mack's hand.
"Up to you," Mack replied mildly.
Coming might make things more comfortable, might help him relax, open up. But he wanted to come with Mack inside him, and he didn't have the refractory period he had in his twenties, so he'd draw this out as long as possible.
"Over," Mack said, sitting back and tugging on John's wrist.
John tugged the pillow under him as he rolled, one hand still caught in Mack's. It wasn't uncomfortable, not yet, and he was ridiculously hard from the tension of his arm tucked behind his back. He pulled one knee up, resting his captured forearm on his hip. It should have been an awkward position but it was oddly easy to settle into and he kept his arm where it was, even after Mack let go.
The wait couldn't have been as long as it seemed, and then Mack's hand was back on his arm, grip light, and his other hand was stroking up John's thigh, over his ass. He felt Mack's dick edging up against him, latex smooth and slick with lube.
Mack pushed in with one firm stroke, filling John with a dull, sweet ache that he'd feel for two days. John groaned against his own wrist - the one still clenched in the pillow.
"You all right?" Mack asked, his breath warm on John's shoulder and ear. He didn't wait for an answer before rocking in and out of John.
"Yeah, yeah," John grunted, agreeing and begging at once. He let his chin drop to his chest as Mack's strokes developed a rhythm. He let Mack fuck him, braced only on one forearm until Mack pushed his other arm down. Mack slid his hand down the length of John's arm, wrapping his fingers around John's wrist. He planted his other hand on the bed, next to John's shoulder, and leaned forward - John felt him shift inside. He gripped the blankets and sheets, and the mattress cover beneath, Mack's palm on his wrist and Mack's mouth on his shoulder until he couldn't stand it anymore. "I'm gonna come," he gasped,
"'Bout time," Mack said, and John felt, rather than heard, it in the drag of Mack's mouth and the vibration in his voice. Mack moved his hand, sliding it up the inside of John's thigh to the base of his dick. No one knew how to jerk a guy off like another man, and John had been ready anyway. It took about one stroke for the dam to break and send him shuddering into the mattress, Mack sliding down over him.
Mack was murmuring something as he shifted his grip to John's hips and John felt his strokes go harder and deeper until he groaned out John's name. John closed his eyes as the world pinwheeled at the edge of his vision and he felt Mack's unsteady hands ease them onto their sides. Mack had done this before, too, maybe 'lots' - when he slipped out, John barely felt any discomfort. Mack's hand stroked his hip a couple of times and then was gone. John could feel him on the bed, the warmth of his body perceptible against John's back.
It was time to go. John knew how these things worked. Roll off the bed, pick up the pants, make awkward conversation, run like the wind. He set his jaw and rolled up - yeah, he was going to feel that for two days, if not three. His pants were at the foot of the bed and he had to disentangle his boxers from the trouser legs before he could put them on. His shirt was on the floor; so were his socks and his boots. He collected them and sat in the chair he'd started the evening in to finish dressing. He didn't look at Mack, who was putting on his own shorts. The cup of whiskey sat on the small table, and John picked it up and downed what was left in the bottom. Maybe if he left Mack's room smelling of whiskey instead of sex...
He started to put the empty cup back on the table but tensed when Mack laid a hand on the back of his neck. "Get some sleep," Mack said gently. "I need you thinking straight tomorrow. There's two hundred people on this base and every life saved's a victory, got it?"
John let the cup slip from his fingers to the table with a clatter. "Got it," he said, the knot in his stomach loosening. He stepped away, sketching out a fairly poor rendition of a salute as he headed toward the door.
"John," Mack said before the door opened. John glanced back and met his eyes. "Ours is not to reason why," he quoted.
"I always hated that poem," John said. "Our lives are victories too."
Mack smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow, Sheppard."
John nodded his assent. "Sir." With that word, boundaries were redrawn, positions were re-established, and John no longer belonged in Mack's room in the middle of the night, lingering in the doorway. He turned away, not wanting to see the rueful cast to Sumner's smile. The door opened with a wave of his hand and when he stepped into the hushed lights of the hallway, he could almost pretend his life was normal. John set off toward his quarters, one foot in front of the other.
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