blue flamingos

I May Be Some Time

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Slash, PG

Year/Length: 2007/ ~2604 words

Pairing: John/Rodney

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: "You know," John says, "When I said I thought we were due a vacation, I was kind of hoping for somewhere –" "Warmer?" McKay suggests.

Author's Notes: Pinch hit for [info]gothpyle on [info]atlantisbasics, who asked for "Sheppard and McKay trapped on an ice planet, slash/slashy preferred"

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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"You know," John says, "When I said I thought we were due a vacation, I was kind of hoping for somewhere –"

"Warmer?" McKay suggests. "More hospitable? More equipped with hotels and room service and drinks with umbrellas?"

"Maybe not the umbrella drinks," John says, digging his hands deeper into his pockets, for all the good it's doing him, which is to say none at all. When they get back to Atlantis, he's going to do something unpleasant to whoever stocked the jumpers with cold weather gear but didn't include *winter coats*.

"No?" McKay looks over at him then shrugs. "No, you don't really seem the type to enjoy fruity drinks served by nubile, scantily clad young women," he adds with a hint of what might be sarcasm.

John's honestly got no idea if he's just been complimented, insulted, or both, so he concentrates on picking his way along the frozen gravel path they're currently following down the hill they just climbed up the other side of. Although – "Who says nubile?"

"Me, obviously." McKay's foot lands on a particularly icy patch and he slides a couple of feet before he gets his balance again. "Remind me again why we couldn't just stay with the jumper?"

They've been walking for six hours and this is the fourth time Rodney's asked, even though he already knows the answer. "Because the crash knocked out the environmental controls and I'd rather not freeze to death waiting for a rescue jumper to be affected by whatever affected us just so we can have company for this trek." Plus, Elizabeth had refused to send one when they'd remote-dialed Atlantis from the jumper to report the crash.

"Hmm," McKay grumbles, and they keep going, somewhere between climbing and sliding down the slope.

"There's nothing living here, right?" McKay says suddenly, looking back at John. He's wearing a woolly orange hat and a red scarf, huddled down in his science jacket, and it shouldn't look cute, but it kind of does. Clearly the cold is affecting John's mind. "No, of course there's not. We scanned the planet thoroughly before we decided to take its gate. Although, whatever knocked the jumper out of the sky didn't show up on the scans, so that doesn't necessarily mean –"

"McKay," John says firmly. "The only living things on this planet are us and the trees, and if you don't get a move on, it'll be down to just the trees."

"Why?" McKay asks, a note of panic in his voice. "Oh God, we're probably turning hypothermic. Am I still shivering? I'm too valuable to die of hypothermia."

"You're not going to die of hypothermia," John says, thinking mostly uncharitable thoughts about Rodney's layer of padding, something John's never had. Mostly uncharitable thoughts.

"How do you know that?" McKay asks. "You're not a doctor."

"No. But if you don't start walking again, I am going to shoot you and steal your gloves and hypothermia will be the least of your problems."

"There's no need to make threats," McKay says with a huff, but he does start walking again, and stop worrying about all the ways they might die, so John hands over a powerbar from his vest pocket as a reward.

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It looked a lot like Antarctica when they got close enough to see the surface after a three hour flight from the nearest planet with a stargate, completely covered in pale blue sheet ice. According to the database, the planet was 80% water with one main land mass, not unlike Atlantis' planet, but without the temperate climate. Nothing living, no useful resources; perfect candidate for the bridge to Earth, and Elizabeth hadn't even taken much persuading.

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"I have no idea why I let you talk me into these things," McKay grumbles. The slope's leveling out, leaving them in a wide valley; the gate's on the other side of the plane, over the hill, but it's even dimmer down here, and John has no intention of crossing sheet ice in the dark.

"You've said that already," he tells McKay, looking round the hills for some kind of shelter. The walk's keeping him from getting too cold, but he's under no illusions about what the temperature will drop to after dark.

"It bears repeating," McKay says darkly, skipping over the fact that it was him who talked John into the trip. "Unless you're planning on contributing something by way of conversation."

McKay's just being his usual prickly self, exacerbated by the crash and the cold, John knows, but for a second, he really wants to snap back and has to force himself to take a deep breath instead. It won't do any good to be at each other's throats, and it's not like he doesn't recognize that the urge is mostly from low level hurt; he's perfectly capable of holding up his end of a conversation when he's not trying to keep both of them from freezing to death.

"You picking up anything on that?" he asks instead, with a nod to McKay's scanner.

"Like what, Colonel? They don't come with the Pegasus Holiday Inns pre-programmed."

"All right!" John snaps. "You want to give it a rest for five minutes?"

They walk a few yards in awkward silence, then McKay says, "Sorry. I'm just – there's supposed to be chocolate cake at dinner tonight."

"I know," John says. "Next time. I'll save you a double portion."

"That might almost make it worth being trapped here," Rodney says thoughtfully, surprising John into laughing.

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The cave they find isn't much warmer than the jumper was once it lost its stored heat, but there's room to build a fire, which helps, and McKay cheers up when he gets his hands on an MRE. John picks at his – chicken surprise, which he hates, but McKay won't trade because he suspects it has lemon in it somewhere, and John's really starting to feel the cold now he's stationary.

Maybe they should have kept going. It's a clear night, he can navigate by the stars, better than he can by landmarks, and it's basically a straight line across the ice. Hell, they could probably lie on their stomachs and slide like penguins, he thinks, and laughs.

McKay eyes him suspiciously. "Colonel? Care to share with the rest of us?"

"Not really," John says, swallowing the laugh that threatens to bubble up again, and McKay's suspicious look turns into a frown.

He shuffles across the foot of space separating them and puts his hands on John's shoulders, peering into his eyes from very close. John lets himself look back for a long moment, then bats him away. "I'm fine. I'm just cold." He shivers to punctuate the statement, not entirely on purpose, grateful when Rodney leaves his hands where they are, heavy and warm. "Neither of us is going to die of hypothermia."

"Well, you would say that," Rodney says. "Particularly if you *were* dying of hypothermia. You're probably delusional."

"I'd say it if I wasn't as well," John points out. He doesn't know how Rodney can be so warm; he feels like he's been dipped naked in a bucket of ice, except for his feet, which are too close to the fire and feel like they're starting to melt.

"Regardless. Put your hat back on."

"I don't look good in hats," John says. It's true, though he's never met a commander who thought this was a good argument for why he took his off as soon as he wasn't being forced to wear it.

Rodney sighs. "As you've already pointed out, Colonel, we're the only sentient life forms on this planet, and it's going to take more than a bad hat for me to –" He cuts himself off and jams John's green wool hat down over his ears. "Just put the damn thing on before your ears fall off."

"Whatever you say," John agrees easily.

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It gets light a lot earlier than John expects, and they've been walking for an hour when his ear piece beeps. "Colonel Sheppard? Dr McKay?" Elizabeth's voice asks.

"Still here," John says. Though not for lack of trying on the part of the planet; it's been trying to snow since they set out, a slick coating under their boots, and he's got a horrible feeling they're going to lose the path soon and have to walk across the sheet ice that he thinks would be a lake if it ever got warm enough.

"Glad to hear it," Elizabeth says warmly. John curses her in his head for being warm in Atlantis while he's wearing mittens. "Do you need anything from us? I hope it's not too treacherous out there."

"It's fine," John says, before McKay can start in on all the many and varied ways that he's convinced the planet's trying to kill them, maybe half of which are a viable threat. "See you in a few hours."

"Be careful," Elizabeth says, and John imagines he can hear the gate shutting down on the other side of the hill, the sound carrying in the empty silence of the planet.

John likes this planet, even if he is freezing. It's got everything he liked about Antarctica – the ice, the snow, the amazing landscapes – and none of the things he didn't. Plus, as much as he annoys John sometimes, it's got Rodney McKay, who isn't bad company, even when he's worrying about being eaten alive by polar bears – there's no reason they couldn't have come from this galaxy, Colonel – and there's always a chance they'll have to huddle together for warmth like last night, pressed back to back in the cave...

"Colonel? Honestly, you promised you weren't going to turn hypothermic, because let me tell you now, there is no way I'm carrying you –"

"McKay." John catches Rodney's wrists before he can remove his gloves to check John's temperature against his forehead. "I was just wondering how much further we've got to go."

"Oh." Rodney looks down at his PDA, then points in the direction they've been headed. "About another four hours that way."

"Let's go then." John adjusts his pack on his shoulders and nudges Rodney forward. "There might even be chocolate cake left at lunch."

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An hour and a half later, it's clear that, if there is chocolate cake, they won't be getting any of it.

"Oh for –" McKay says, stumbling on the frictionless ice. "This would be a lot easier if we weren't wearing combat boots."

"I'll be sure to mention that next time I'm requisitioning uniforms," John says. It's not like McKay doesn't have a point; their boots are designed to grip, not to slide, but they don't grip well enough on the ice for it to be anything other than an extended exercise in frustration. "Or maybe ice skates."

"You know, that's actually not a bad idea." McKay waits for John to catch up to him. "This would make a great place to play hockey."

"You play?" John asks, surprised. It's not like he hasn't heard McKay enthuse about the 'sport' at length, especially in the early days of the expedition, but it never occurred to him that McKay wasn't just talking as a spectator.

McKay stops to give him the look he gives to the most idiotic of his scientists. "I grew up in Canada, Colonel."

"Right." Like he could have forgotten. He clumps along for a few more steps; the snow, which might have provided something for their boots to grip, has of course stopped, and what little fell is turning to slush under their feet. "Do you think we could turn this into a hockey rink?"

"Well, I'd still like to harvest the gate, if we can figure out what made the jumper crash, but until then..."

Although Heightmeyer's on another of her recreation time kicks right now, so John won't hold his breath for them getting the gate once she realizes there's a playground on the other side of it. "Cool," he says with a grin, and McKay grins back, open and happy, even freezing cold in the middle of Planet Ice.

McKay shakes himself out of it first. "You don't really seem the hockey type, Colonel. I thought it wasn't a real sport."

"It's not," John assures him. "My mom sent me to skating lessons when I was a kid." He'd loved it, the speed and the precision; he's still got his adult skates, in storage in Colorado Springs.

And that, of course, is the moment his feet go out from under him, and he lands on his back with a jarring thud.

"Colonel!" McKay drops to his knees next to him, running his hands over John's arms and legs.

John lets him do it. "I'm fine." He pushes himself up onto his elbows, not looking forward to the bruises he's going to have tomorrow.

McKay rolls his eyes, but gets to his feet and holds out a hand to John. "I see those skating lessons really paid off."

Just for that, John takes the offered hand and pulls, dragging Rodney far enough off-balance that he does a weird slow-motion fall, pushing John onto his back and landing mostly on top of him with a startled, "Oomph."

"Oops," John offers unrepentantly. He doesn't let go of Rodney's hand.

"Yes, very amusing, Colonel. I have very brittle bones, you know. One –" He stops, confusion flashing over his face, and John suddenly regrets giving into the childish impulse.

"If anyone's broken anything, it's me," he says. He's letting go of McKay's hand. Just as soon as he remembers how to make his muscles work. "You landed on me."

"Yes," Rodney says absently. "You're an excellent cushion." He meets John's eyes with a frown. John gives him his most open, innocent smile, like they're not holding hands and he's not noticing how McKay smells, cold and alien air and home. "This is –"

John's brain throws up a number of possible ends to that sentence, too many for him to settle on one, and impulse has kind of carried him through so far, it might as well carry him a little further. With that thought, he wraps his free, mitten-clad hand round the back of Rodney's neck and kisses him.

Rodney kisses him back without hesitation, hard and fast like John would have imagined if he'd let himself think about it, cold lips warming up fast, Rodney's body relaxing under his hand.

Unfortunately, even a great kiss that's been two years coming can't change the fact that he's lying on a frozen lake in an expedition jacket, and the full body shiver that runs through him has very little to do with the feel of Rodney McKay's body pressing against his.

He breaks the kiss with one last suck of Rodney's lower lip and looks into blue eyes so close they're blurred. Rodney blinks. "That was..."

"Yeah," John agrees. He nudges Rodney off him gently. "Want to pick it up again when we're back on Atlantis?"

"Atlantis?" Rodney asks, still sounding dazed, then his eyes clear and he scrambles to his feet, dragging John up with him. "Yes! Definitely. With hot showers and clean clothes and, honestly, you could do with a shave, unless you want to me to get beard burn and for everyone to –"

"And beds," John cuts in, striding – as much as he can – in the direction of the gate.

"Yes, beds," Rodney says behind him, then, "You're not just doing this because we're going to die of hypothermia, are you?"

John laughs; best vacation ever.


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