Title: The Silent Art of Watching

Author: tafkar
Summary: They're all lost in the woods. The difference is, he's at home there.
Category: Drama, angst, porn
Spoilers: Through "Intruder"
Rating: NC-17
Archiving: Always welcome; just let me know you have done so.
Thanks to: meyerlemon, for the encouraging first read; danvers, for advice and enthusiastic support, carolyn_claire, for kick ass (and ass-kicking) beta above and beyond the call of duty. You made me cry, but it was all in service of the story.
Notes: Written for Scrollgirl for the OT3athon. My first SGA story.

 

THE SILENT ART OF WATCHING

"Drink," the burly man says, passing a cup over to Rodney as they stand around the fire, waiting.

"Thanks, I'm good," Rodney says, holding one hand out to ward off the foul brew.

"Drink," the man says again, and this time there's a threat in his tone.

Trying to suppress his impotent rage, Rodney grabs the ceramic cup out of the Tavran's hand and tosses it back. All around him, the crowd is doing the same; if it's anything like last night, they'll all be insensible before dawn. He remembers reading about a culture on Earth, back in his one mandatory social sciences class in undergrad, that drank until the point of vomiting as part of a religious ritual. There was something about alcohol enemas, if he recalls correctly. It was the Incas, or maybe the Mayans.

He's been hoping that familiarity would make the drink more palatable, but no such luck; it's like the home-brew absinthe his roommate at MIT made, mixed with unsweetened Kool-Aid, bitter with a green tang. His face scrunches up as it burns down his throat, and he throws the cup into the fire as hard as he can, watching it shatter in the flames.

The Tavran slaps him on the back and turns away. Rodney looks at Teyla, worried. "We weren't waiting this long for you last night," he says.

She rests her hand on his arm. "I am sure he will emerge victorious," she says, but the flames show the concern flickering in her eyes.

On the other side of the fire, the crowd noise suddenly gets quieter. Then there's a roar. John stalks out of the forest, squinting in the light. There's blood all over him, but he's walking, which means the other guy isn't, anymore. Something in Rodney's chest tightens at the dead expression on John's face, and he's amazed at how much relief can feel like fear.

Teyla tries to push toward John, but Rodney already knows the response she'll receive, and, sure enough, they throw her to the ground, holding out big knives to keep her from getting through. Normally Rodney would give Teyla odds, but there are a lot more of them than there are of her. He glimpses John once more through the crowd, as a group of women draw him toward the tribal chief's palanquin – there to stay and drink until morning, if Teyla's experience last night is any guide.

He lurches back to the little hut they've been given for the duration of their stay, trying to block out the roar of the bonfire and the pounding drums behind him, his balance distorted by drunkenness and relief. The image of Sheppard stalking out of the forest, cold-eyed and satisfied and covered with blood, is burned on his retinas. Teyla catches Rodney when he stumbles, her arm warm and reassuring around him, helping him get his muddy boots off before coming in the door.

As soon as he gets inside, he sags against a wall, letting his head drop back against it as he releases the breath he was holding in a sigh. It's cold in the cabin, but he'd still rather be here than next to the bonfire, even if they'd let them stay. He doesn't want to be anywhere near these vile people, especially not if they're being forcibly separated from John. "Two down, one to go, eh?" he says. He'd panicked earlier today; he'll probably be terrified tomorrow. Tonight, all he can feel is resignation.

Teyla rests one hand on his arm. "We will think of something," she says, her voice full of reassurance. "There is more to this than knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. Depending on where they choose to have the contest, you may find a way to use an advantage that they do not have."

Rodney scowls at her. "What? There's not an Ancient device for miles around. Unless I'm going to bore my opponent to death by explaining Steven Hawking's theorems to him, I'm hard pressed to think of an advantage I have."

The lantern in the corner gives her tawny skin a ruddy glow. She smiles, one of those wry smiles that makes her look a little wicked. "Your intelligence, Rodney. While my tactics involved a direct attack – and so, I suspect, did Colonel Sheppard's – I believe that cunning and subtlety are where your strengths lie."

"Get him in a trap and stab him in the back, huh?" Rodney says. He smiles, but he can still feel a tingling shakiness in his muscles.

"Exactly," Teyla says, nodding. "We will strategize when the Colonel returns."

Rodney shakes his head. "Tomorrow," he said. "If he's in the shape you were in when you got back this morning, he won't be any use." He and Sheppard had taken turns holding back Teyla's hair while she vomited in the dirt, tears streaming down her face. Then the Major – no, the Colonel, the old title was such a reflex that Rodney keeps slipping – the Colonel had washed her face with cool water and gently put her to bed.

Sheppard had gotten colder and quieter as the day had progressed into evening, awaiting his turn, locking everything down and going to someplace inside himself that neither Teyla nor Rodney could reach. Rodney's never seen that Sheppard before today, but he's pretty sure it's the same one who had killed sixty-odd Genii single-handedly. That Sheppard is ruthless enough to think of something that will save Rodney's ass. Rodney's worried that he's not tough enough to carry it out.

"These people make the Genii look cultured," Rodney says. He walks over to the basin full of water in the corner, splashing some on his face, trying to wash away the stimulating and sense-blurring effects of the Tavran liquor.

"The Genii were doing what they thought was best for their people. The Tavrans are…" Teyla's voice pauses.

"Using the Wraith as an excuse to indulge in all of the worst parts of human nature?" He wipes the water dripping into his eyes with the bottom of his uniform shirt. It's not clean, anymore, but it'll have to do. "All they'd need is a gang rape and they'd put Attila the Hun to shame. God, I wish Ford were here to blow something up."

"I miss him as well," Teyla says quietly, gently running one hand down his back. He hadn't even heard her come up behind him. He leans into her touch, and is a little surprised when her arms wrap around him, pulling him into a hug. Tentatively, he puts his arms around her, and then tightens them, taking comfort from her touch.

She turns her face up toward his, and after a second of blinking confusion, he leans his down, touching his forehead to hers in the Athosian manner. The tips of their noses almost touch, and then he feels his head turning, her face tilting slightly, and their lips brush together.

It starts gently, the sort of thing that can be shrugged off as a friendly gesture, that passes between relatives or people as close as family. But then her kiss gets firmer, and maybe it's because of the alcohol or the adrenalin or the knowledge that this might be the last chance he ever gets to be this close to someone that his does, too. His first kisses usually involve awkwardness or teeth bumping together, but not this time. Her mouth tastes like bitter strawberries, and her tongue makes him crazy, tickling the spot behind his front teeth.

He pulls her tighter, one hand automatically sliding up to twist in her hair. Kissing Teyla turns out to be a brilliant idea, like the time he ate prepackaged cookie dough straight out of the plastic wrapper instead of baking out half of the flavor. He wonders why he never thought of it before.

"Oh," he groans into her mouth, and she cries out in return, a hungry cry that lingers on his lips. He wants her, he wants to feel her. He pushes her up against the wall, shoving an obstruction out of their way with one hasty kick.

The crashing noise as the water basin falls to the floor and shatters snaps Rodney back to himself for a second. He stares down at Teyla, breathing hard. "What the hell was that?" he asks. He's not referring to the ewer.

She licks her lips, looking as dazed as he feels. Maybe this never occurred to her, either. "A release of tension. A desire for comfort." One of her hands slides down, her thumb running against his jaw and sliding up to touch his bottom lip.

" Yeah, okay," he says. He can go with that. It's certainly a better way to while away the time than pacing the length of the tiny cabin, waiting until they send Sheppard home, stumbling and broken and reeking of alcohol.

Her legs hitch up around his hips, and she should feel heavy, but she doesn't. She just feels good, and even better when she tenses her legs to press more tightly against him. He turns around and takes three staggering steps until he's against the bed, then leans forward to lower her onto it, kissing her as he does. For a second he thinks he hears the door, but her hands are tangled in his hair, and when he finally manages to turn his head to look, it's shut, and then she's pulling his mouth back to hers.

They're kissing again. He tastes the sweat on her throat, and feels her hips buck up as she moans. He slides his mouth lower and shucks his jacket carelessly. It's not cold in the cabin anymore. It's hot, so hot that there's a damp sheen on Teyla's skin. She's sweaty, but she still smells clean, like the forest, and he wonders how she manages to pull that off. He slides his hand down over her hip, over her thigh, and back up again, sliding it inside her non-regulation shirt and over her small, perfectly shaped breast. She gasps, eyes heavy-lidded, and then smiles like she just made a wonderful discovery.

He can feel her hand slide down between them, working to unfasten the buttons of his fly, and for the first time he really realizes that she might want this as much as he does. Oh, yeah, yeah, if he could get these pants off her he knows he could slide into her right now; he's hard enough. But it's not what he wants. "Huh-uh," he says, snatching at her wrist and playfully pushing it up above her head. "It's my last night alive, remember?" And it's probably the truth, but right now the thought of his imminent death has been pushed away by the feel of her body against his. If he stays focused on her, he doesn't have to think about tomorrow. "No way are we rushing through this." He buries his face in her neck again, licking her smooth, slick skin, and whispers, "I want to taste every inch of you."

She gasps again, pressing her lean warrior's body against his, and he realizes he's smiling against her throat. He slides her jacket off her shoulders, feeling the newly bared skin there with his lips. He's tingling, he feels like he's about to burst, but he pushes all those feelings to the back of his mind, slipping his hand under the hem of her top to brush against her stomach. He's going to take his time.

He can tell she likes the feeling of his hand on her stomach; she likes it even better when he slides it up to run one thumb slowly, lightly over her nipple. She laughs a little with the pleasure of it, and rises up a little to kiss him, slipping her jacket off behind her. He pushes her shirt up slowly, following it with kisses across her flat, dark belly, her ribcage. The ruddy cast to her face is no longer just from the lantern. She slides one foot over his thigh, across his ass, up to his lower back, gentle and precise, and he's amazed by the dexterity she has in her feet. He wonders if it's an Athosian thing.

Lying beside her, propped on his left elbow, he moves his mouth toward her nipple, and she watches him, lips parted in breathless anticipation. He blows air across it, then licks it quickly with the tip of his tongue, then blows again, never letting the fingers of his right hand stop their wandering path across her torso. Her eyes widen as she looks down at him, and she's smiling. He grins a wicked grin, and then flicks his tongue out again, just letting the tip brush against the dark hard flesh. She cries out, running one hand through his hair, trying to pull his head closer as her hips swing toward him.

He brushes his closed lips against her breast, feeling the texture of her skin, how it changes from smooth to crinkly and puckered as he slides them over her areola. He stops just before his lips meet that hard little knob of flesh, and smiles up at her. She laughs suddenly. "You are a tease!" she says gleefully. "I never expected it of you."

"Never?" he asks, sliding her shirt over her head.

She shakes her hair back from her face and smiles again, tugging his shirt up. He takes the hint and removes it, tossing it to the side. "I thought you would be…oh…" She's distracted from what she's saying as he slips his fingers between her legs, brushing lightly at her lips through the fabric of her pants. She presses herself against his hand and grinds hard, one hand toying with the hair on his chest, her smile replaced by a lustful, dark-eyed look.

"What?" he asks, enjoying the effect he has on her.

She closes her almond eyes, breathing in sharply, tilting her head back. Then she looks at him again. "I expected you to be tentative."

"Yes, because that's an adjective that describes me," he grins down at her. She narrows her eyes at him a little, but she's still smiling. He slides his hand up, then insinuates it into her pants. She tilts her hips slightly to make it easier for him. He's surprised to feel the coarse curls under his fingers. He never knew she went commando. There's a lot he didn't know about Teyla Emmagen.

"I did not think you would be this…aaaaaah…" she moans. She's unbelievably wet, his fingers are already slick with it, and the moisture seems to tighten the knot of arousal at the base of his spine. He starts rubbing his cock against her hip, reflexively, and has to take a second to collect himself before he slips his fingertip around and around her clit. She lets out a deep, throbbing moan. He swears the drums outside are in time with his pulse.

"I didn't think you'd be like this, either," he says, his voice sounding a hell of a lot more in control than he really is. He lets out a shuddering breath as he slides two fingers into her, keeping his thumb on that little sensitive spot as he feels her grip him. If he took her pants off, this would be a lot easier on his wrist, but he's kind of enjoying the illicit feeling of this – it's like being back in high school. "I thought you'd be serious. And in control."

She smiles at him again, that wicked, wicked smile of hers, reaches down to pop open a couple of buttons on her fly, and then, with an effortless twist, flips him onto his back, coming up to straddle him. She looks down at him with dark intensity, holding his wrists down by his sides, her hair a wild tangle around her shoulders. He gasps as she slides herself on his crotch – she's so wet that, even through his pants he can feel that humid intensity. She's gorgeous in the light of the lantern, hair glowing a burnished red, her muscular body softly highlighted.

And just when he thinks she can't get any more beautiful, her serious, intense expression breaks. She laughs, looking down at him. "You're wonderful, you know that?" he says, staring up at her and wondering again why he never thought of doing this before.

"You have yet to learn just how wonderful I can be," she grins, eyes sparkling, and leans down to kiss him. As she leans down, he sees a shadowy figure standing behind her and gasps, sitting up halfway, ready to attack the Tavran standing there, or run. Her eyes widen in alarm and she twists around, immediately on the defensive.

The Tavran turns his head slightly, and the lantern light catches his features. Rodney realizes it's not a Tavran at all; it's Sheppard. His face is an unreadable blank.

"Don't let me stop you," Sheppard says, his voice light, but with something cold underneath.

Rodney's stomach flips. "We weren't – " he starts to say.

"Weren't what?" Sheppard says, his voice a low, dangerous murmur. His head tilts slightly, something feral and hungry in his stance, all the civilized bits that make up the military man left behind in the forest.

Rodney tries to respond, but for once, he's speechless. He's just been caught absolutely shattering an unwritten rule – never fuck your teammate – and he can't find a way to explain it away. He doesn't want to die with Sheppard's anger on his conscience.

He wonders when he arrived – when they were talking, just now? Was that why he never heard him? Suddenly, the room is cold again.

"John," Teyla says, her voice full of concern. She begins climbing off Rodney, turning to face Sheppard.

"No," Sheppard says, his voice lashing out, hard and brittle and on the edge of breaking. "I said, don't stop." It's his command voice, the one he rarely uses. Rodney opens his mouth, about to protest, afraid of what will happen if they keep going. Then Sheppard tilts his head a little more, shifting the shadows on his face, and Rodney sees something wounded and desperate in his eyes, the shivering strain in his mouth, and he's afraid of what will happen to John if they stop. He shuts his mouth, and John nods, so slightly that Rodney probably wouldn't even see it if the team hadn't spent the past year intertwined like the vine and the trellis.

Teyla turns back to Rodney slowly, the corners of her eyes and mouth tense. She locks her fingers in his, and he knows she's seen what's in Sheppard's face, too. Rodney slides his hand over Teyla's arm, then down to start slipping her pants off. She works at the buttons of his fly with sudden concentration.

Sheppard takes the lantern from the corner of the room and rests it on the table beside the bed. He still hasn't put his shirt on, and there's a smear of someone else's blood over his chest. "Slow down, Rodney," he says in his laid-back drawl, but there's something harsh and frightening underneath, something anticipatory that's spackling over that latent brokenness. "It's only polite to make sure the lady gets off first." This isn't the Sheppard that talks about Ferris wheels and college football. This is the Sheppard that Rodney's heard about but never seen, the one that emptied a clip into the Wraith they had locked up in an Ancients' cell, the one who took out the Genii who invaded the base without a shred of regret or remorse. He's leaning so close that Rodney can smell him, musk and dirt and the cool copper of death. His pupils are dilated, his eyes flat and dark, and for a minute he doesn't look like himself at all.

"Major," he says, wanting to say we don't have to or I'm sorry or your turn or anything that might smooth over this suddenly fraught situation.

"Colonel," Sheppard says. It's not harsh, and yet there's an underlying whipcrack, and Rodney might snap back if he didn't see a flicker of something like broken glass grinding against itself in Sheppard's eyes. He's afraid anything he says will shatter it more.

The colonel moves back to the chair in the darkened corner of the room, and Rodney can't see him through the glare of the lamplight. "You said you wanted this to last all night."

Teyla's hand tenses around Rodney's arm. He's been here the whole time, Rodney thinks despairingly.

Rodney looks up at Teyla, sliding his hand up to brush her hair out of her face, revealing her wounded look. She looks down at him, her eyebrows drawing in worriedly, then turns her head to kiss his hand. With unspoken agreement, they turn so that she's on her back again, sliding her pants off. Her scent, like sage being burnt on the beach, fills the room. He slides down, kissing his way down her stomach. From the corner, he hears a long, slow exhalation. He kisses her hip, licks the inside of her thigh, and her low moan is almost loud enough to block the subtle whisper of flesh on flesh from where Sheppard sits.

He kisses his way between her legs, lapping at her with long licks that slowly become more focused. It's wrong, so very wrong, because he can feel Sheppard's eyes burning into his shoulder, hear the man's breath going ragged, and Rodney's a twisty mess of turned on and discomfited. Teyla's thighs lock around his ears as he licks harder, blocking out sliding sounds from the corner. She's rich and salty on his tongue.

He licks and sucks, drowning as she writhes under his mouth, moving his hips just a little bit to press his hard dick into the mattress. She's gorgeous to look at from this angle, like a beautiful landscape – the valley of her stomach giving way to the mountains of her breasts, her mouth half-open, her eyes wide and staring down at him. Her toes slide along his spine again, caressing him.

He slides his fingers into her, feeling around for that small, spongy spot and then curling his fingers slightly in a come-hither gesture. She explodes; if he wasn't ready for it, she would have broken his nose when her hips snapped up. Her voice echoes through the little shack, harsh, short, animal cries. He licks harder, harder as she clenches around him, firmly enough, he swears, to leave bruises on his knuckles. One of her hands twists in the blanket. The other tightens in his short hair.

He rises, and she slips her legs off his shoulders, back down to the bed, reaching down with trembling hands to unfasten his pants. He looks down at her, sliding his hand down her body, wishing this could be perfect.

"No," Sheppard's voice comes from the corner, low and slow and full of need, reminding him of just how far they are from perfect. "Teyla, you go on top."

Rodney rolls onto his back, sliding his pants and boxers down until they tangle at his ankles. Screw it, he thinks as Teyla climbs on top of him. He's not an exhibitionist. The feeling of Sheppard's eyes on him makes him want to cover himself, and yet he's still hard, still moans as he feels Teyla hot and wet on top of him. He wonders if it's a side effect of the Tavran liquor.

Her eyes are dark as she slides on top of him. Her legs are spread so that her slick lips surround his cock, which is flat against his stomach, and her clit rubs against the head of it, over and over. He reaches up to touch her body, anywhere, everywhere, feeling suddenly sad.

With a tilt of her hips, he's suddenly sliding in, and he forgets all about Sheppard for a moment when she surrounds him. Oh, this, yes, this is what he's been waiting for all night. Her dark skin is limned by the lantern, and she tilts her head back, eyes closed, hair streaming over her shoulders. Her hips are moving in a complicated figure-eight pattern, and Rodney wants to know where she learned to do that, but he's too busy moaning to ask. He puts a hand on her waist, guiding her, harder, faster. His other hand slips between her legs, playing with her; he wants to feel her spasm again before he comes. Usually he'd run through theorems for asymptotically Euclidian Einstein-matter solutions in his head, but the knowledge that Sheppard is watching is all he needs to hold off orgasm.

Then she cries out, and he feels her cunt clutch him again, again, again, rhythmically, and half of Atlantis could be watching and it still wouldn't keep him from coming, his world narrowing down to that one spot where their bodies are joined. He curls up to wrap his arms around her and pull her to his chest, groaning "Don't stop, don't stop" as everything fragments and goes dark around the edges. The world slips in and out for a minute, a choked, muted moan from the corner echoing hollowly in his head, and then he's lying under her, his face buried in her hair, arms so tight around her he's surprised he didn't break her ribs. Her lips brush against his cheek, and she's whispering, but nothing he understands.

Then he remembers who's watching them, and hides his face a little more in her neck, sliding his arms down her body. She lifts her body up a little, and her hair falls around both their faces, creating a momentary private world. Her forehead rests against his, and suddenly that gesture holds a world of meaning for him.

She slides down so she's lying next to him, leaving a wet trail across his body. His arm automatically stretches out to wrap around her shoulders, and her head nestles on his chest. He unsnags his pants from his ankles and kicks them off, then the socks and boxers, grabbing at the last to clean away the warm stickiness.

He can hear movement from the corner of the room, and suddenly Sheppard is there. He catches a glimpse of the Colonel, long and lean and naked as he wipes off his half-hard cock with a bandanna, before the other man turns out the light. Rodney rolls onto his side, miserable. Teyla curls up behind him, pressed against him, pulling the blanket over them both. She wraps an arm around him, and he twines his fingers between hers, lifting her hand to press dry lips against it.

" By the way, Rodney, I did your killing for you." Sheppard's voice comes through the dark, a little less like the sound of glass shattering, now. The mattress shifts as he settles on the other side. "You won't have to fight tomorrow. The party's over. The chief's a little pissed, but they're letting us go."

Teyla's fingers tighten around Rodney's. He stares out in the dark and wonders what it cost Sheppard to make that happen, wonders how he can ever fix what's gone wrong, and holds Teyla's hand a little tighter to his chest.

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