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The first night aboard the Daedalus, John is so exhausted he falls asleep the second he sits down on his bunk. Some personnel files are crumpled the next morning (those that remained clutched in his hand), others he has to pick up and re-order (the ones that drifted to the floor). He still feels a bit nauseous from that last pizza at Anthony's.

The second, third and fourth night, falling asleep takes a bit longer, but his mind is still running in enough circles to stop any attempt at dreaded introspection.

The fifth night, he tosses and turns and wears out the shuffle forward key on his MP3 player.

The sixth night, he gets up several times to go to the bathroom, because, damn, there has to be a reason he cannot fall asleep, and perhaps he drank too much coffee.

The seventh night, he plays chess with Dr. Wilson. They play for hours until Wilson concedes defeat and stumbles off. John remains sitting and absently stirs his cup of long-cold coffee. He misses work-outs with Teyla, and the ship's corridors are too small to allow for any running. Besides, Zelenka would flip out if he damaged any of the science department's stuff (and yes, the Daedalus' cargo hold is full already, and yes, Caldwell is pissed they have to squeeze around pallets of 'delicate equipment' crowding up the upper decks). He returns to his quarters two hours before the normal 'day' shift begins, and thank God, his brain is blank enough that he even falls asleep.

The eighth night, he gets through a quarter of "War and Peace" and is stunned to discover he perhaps should have brought a second equally thick (and boring) book from Earth. He doesn't even try to go to bed. Breakfast consists solely of coffee. He takes delight in the observation that Zelenka and Wilson both look worse than he does. They have the dark-rings-underneath-their-eyes thing up to a science, and he snickers helplessly at his own pun. He remembers college and groans - sleep deprivation makes him punchy, chatty and, strangely enough, happy.

The ninth night, he tosses and turns again and concentrates on the absence of sound - he misses the creak of leather that would prove that Teyla or Ronon are on watch outside their tent, and he misses Rodney's snores (sorry, deep breaths - Rodney insists that, while he might have allergies, he never snores per se). That's it, then. He throws on a shirt and sweatpants and hasn't taken more than a few steps when he practically falls over two marines on night watch and has to return to his quarters before they are certain their commanding officer is totally wacko. Damn. He tries to read the rest of "War and Peace", but he cannot concentrate. He misses Atlantis. He misses his team. He misses--

The tenth night, he is exhausted. Not only from the lack of sleep, but also from Zelenka's persistence. The Czech tried his best to hang around unobtrusively (hah!) in the hopes of John slipping and letting him know "what was on his mind". John usually takes delight in the close ties formed between the military and the scientists that went through the gate first and lived through the 16 months they were on their own, but not today. Zelenka is far too perceptive, and he is a friend of Rodney's. Fuck. There he goes again. He gets up from his bunk, sits down in front of his computer terminal and e-mails Lieutenant Miller that he won't be giving his tenth lecture to the newcomers on "how to get along with your geeks and how not to get eaten by the Wraith" today. Then he puts his face in his hands and groans (punching the wall would have been far more satisfying, but the Daedalus' walls are reinforced whatever-ium and way more robust than his fingers).

He can't put it off anymore. And really, he never expected to be able to do so indefinitely, now, did he?

He knew it was wrong the second he did it.

Since puberty, he's had two weaknesses, and he's always been aware of them -- he can rarely resist a pretty woman, and he has always tried to impress the few of his COs who didn't treat him like a screw-up from the beginning.

Colonel Carter's looks are a thing of legend (at least according to the gossip in the science department of Atlantis), and she shook his hand, smiled and told him how much she and General O'Neill appreciated the good job he did in the Pegasus galaxy. She and the rest of SG-1 had theoretically been on-base in the SGC for a change, but that guy Teal'c had been off-world to see his family, Dr. Jackson had been off to Washington, and so it had only been Mitchell and Carter - apart from Landry, Caldwell and another roomful of generals, secretaries of state and whatnot from various countries, of course. Mitchell was the kind of guy John had always been envious of - the proverbial good, upstanding officer everyone wrote glowing recommendations of -, and Carter had been every bit as blonde, pretty, competent and scarily smart as Rodney had described.

He'd told himself he only wanted to know exactly what Rodney saw in her, but he'd known that thought for the bullshit it was. After endless hours of briefing with Landry's entourage, she'd taken him to what she told him was her team's favorite hangout in Denver, they'd switched from beer to cocktails, and an hour later they'd stumbled into a motel room, laughing and kissing and drunk.

John can only remember that her skin was so soft, that she smelled like flowers and that he'd been thrown by the fact that there were breasts in his face instead of chest hair. There were snatches of conversation (something about Jackson - he'd always thought SG-1 was thick as thieves, but boy, there was major resentment there), red lipstick that tasted not at all like the cherry it looked like, and soft sheets and creaking bedsprings that made them both laugh hysterically (Atlantis' beds have no springs and Rodney's bed would never dare creak... or else Rodney would scream and run to Carson and Elizabeth, and the next day there would be a new, not-creaking bed in Rodney's room, and a smug smile on Rodney's face before they kissed), and--

-- and John --

-- remembers --

-- kisses in the transporter, and in the back of the puddlejumper, in the shower in his room, in Rodney's (their) bed, and --

he is aboard the Daedalus, and in seven more days he will have to face Rodney, and dear God, how, how is he supposed to tell Rodney that he slept with Colonel fucking Carter (or rather, fucking Colonel Carter - isn't that hysterical), and how... and what... and--

he slams his forehead against the top of the small desk in front of the computer terminal in his quarters, and fuck, his cheeks are wet, he cannot sleep and Rodney is going to kill him.

He could lie, of course, but he won't. Carter was all still and quiet (and hungover) in the morning, and they drove back to Cheyenne Mountain in utter silence, and he knows she and Rodney correspond regularly, and of course it will come out, and Bates and Mitchell saw them come back to the base together, and Rodney...

Rodney will flip, and his eyes will be all hurt and devastated underneath the fury, and John will feel even more like a heel than right now.

And he won't be able to sleep ever again until Rodney speaks to him again.

"Stargate: Atlantis" ficlet by allaire mikháil, 1.289 words, McKay/Sheppard, Sheppard/other, Sheppard POV, rated PG-13.

This is set one year after "The Siege Part 3" and while it does not make explicit reference to any events of season 2, it is still intended to stand in a universe in which "Trinity" happened. Furthermore, let us assume that the second time part of Atlantis' senior staff is summoned to Earth, the people get to go who had to remain behind the last time, while Sheppard (still being "on trial" as the commanding officer of Atlantis' military contingent) is once again obligated to brief his superiors directly.
I have issues with several authors' characterizations of Sheppard and McKay. Said characterizations (and issues) kicked off this story.

Thanks to ljtemve for once again braving a fandom she's not directly a fan of to give this a spit-and-polish final beta pass.

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