Mathematics of Love and Loss
McKay/Sheppard; R; ~650 words
What happens when an irresistible force meets an impenetrable barrier? By definition, the force and barrier cannot coexist in the same universe, so the question cannot be answered.
"Do you ever think before you open your mouth? Goddamnit, Rodney, do you?"
The back of Rodney's head hits the wall before the rest of his body with a dull, painful sound, and John doesn't look at all repentant. His face is stonier than Rodney's ever seen it, wiped clean by anger and fear, somehow scarier for it. John's heart has always been in his eyes, visible if only you know how to tilt your head and squint, but right now, no amount of head tilting shows Rodney anything. John's eyes are flat.
"Yes," Rodney says. His mouth tastes of copper. "I had to. I couldn't - I couldn't let them just -"
"It wasn't your choice!" John barks, and Rodney's head connects with the wall again. Rodney braces for a punch, turns his cheek and screws his eyes closed. After a tense minute, John steps back, smoothing down the crumpled front of Rodney's dirty, sweat-stained t-shirt, head bowed to follow the repetitive movements of his own hands. His voice is cold now, nothing like Rodney had expected, and completely at odds with the almost tender touch.
"If you ever do that again, I'll kill you," he says plainly. "Are we clear?"
We're clear, Rodney doesn't say, and, once John's gone, lets himself sink to the floor.
They don’t talk for a week. Rodney starts and finishes dozens of conversations just inside his head where no one can hear, imagines John saying inane, useless things like, "Pass the salt." And then John opens his mouth and practically hisses, "Don't fucking touch me," and Rodney wishes for the silence until his heart aches. But the worst part - the worst part.
"I'm not sorry," Rodney tells Ronon one afternoon. “I’m not.”
Ronon just levels a hard, narrow look at him and says, "Good," because he understands the selfishness that comes of desperation.
"I don't forgive you," John says. "I won't forgive you." His shoulders are tight, the line of his brow low over his eyes, shadowing the jungle green of them into something darker and more dangerous.
Rodney pretends he doesn't notice the violence in each of John's balled up fists because John's here, John's in his room; John came to him. And that means something. Maybe John needs him too.
They fuck on the floor, Rodney on his back with his legs around John's waist and his hands in John's hair, and John leaves marks all down Rodney's chest, paints a livid bruise on the rise of Rodney's right hip with his teeth. It hurts. Rodney's eyes sting; one of his nails bends back and breaks when he grabs at the floor and finds no purchase. John's cock feels too big, and Rodney can't breathe because it's taking up all the space inside him and there's no more room for air. John pushes deeper, watching Rodney's face like he's waiting for a wince (or an apology), but Rodney's not sorry, won't ever be sorry for John whole and safe and alive, and he's more stubborn than John could ever imagine.
He rakes his nails down John's back and demands, "Harder."
John curses at him and snaps his hips harder, harder, making Rodney scramble to get his palms flat on the floor next to his head for leverage. He's almost expecting it when John's fingers curl around his biceps tight enough to cut off his circulation and push down, skim past his elbows and forearms, wrap around his wrists and hold him down.
When it's over and they're messy with Rodney's come, John still hasn't kissed him. His lip is split again, though - from his own teeth, this time, from biting down hard in case he starts begging or screaming or unraveling like a sweater and can't stop - so Rodney blames the blood and resolves not to think about it.