I was having trouble working on my WIPs (couldn't concentrate, sounding stilted and awkward, no end in sight, plot issues), so I decided to play instead. This is inspired by and dedicated to my favorite cashmere sweater (which is not black and which will probably come apart at the seams soon), even though it's summer. I won't see you again until fall, and even then, it doesn't get nearly cold enough around here for proper sweater wearage, but Sweater, I love you.
Colonel Sheppard’s New Sweater, McShep, 1,178 words, PG
“Welcome back, Colonel.”
Rodney looked up from his laptop to see John Sheppard walking towards the control area, the event horizon of the wormhole he’d just traveled through still shimmering behind him. The bluish light created a sort of backlit glowing aura, and Rodney’s mind suddenly supplied him with an image of John above holding himself up on his bed, muscles in his arms flexed and strong. The lights on the ceiling in John’s room had lit him in just the same way, peeking through the gaps between the cowlicks in his hair.
John smirked down at him, undoing his tac vest. “Get a lot done while I was gone?” he asked.
Rodney smirked back. “Without you interrupting with stupid questions all the time, I got plenty done.” Actually, he’d done very little work while John was away, but the man really didn’t need any more encouragement. He’d spent some time telling himself he didn’t miss John and some time actually missing John and a lot of time worrying about him. “What about you, bag any space bimbos while you were gone?”
“As a matter of fact…”
Rodney’s heart quickened with alarm. “What are you—?” Before he could continue, John had brushed his hand quickly over Rodney’s, quieting him.
“Kidding.” John’s smirk turned into one of those gentle, almost shy smiles he only ever wore in private or sometimes when watching the Athosian kids. Rodney knew his own expression became far too sweet in response to that look (sometimes he even blushed!), so he ducked his head, looking down at their hands next to each other, one pointed in each direction. He wanted so much to stroke his finger over the back of John’s hand, but he’d have to be happy just…studying it for now. Of course, he’d seen it many times before, but he had a little private project going: memorizing every bit of John Sheppard. He’d been working on the hands for a long time now, and he knew all the curves, the jut and movement of bones under skin, the swell and taper to the wrist, and—what was this?
Rodney looked up the arm at the black crewneck that John was wearing. It was fuzzy and sleek and definitely not part of John’s wardrobe when he’d gone through the Stargate the day before. “Where’d you get this?”
John looked down at himself. “The sweater? One of the women on the planet gave it to me.” Rodney frowned. “What? It was cold, and the whole settlement slept in tents!”
“And they just gave you this sweater? You didn’t, say, trade them sex for it?”
John furrowed his face into his I’m-not-listening-to-your-dumb-accusatio
Rodney hesitated, but John was stroking his own arm enthusiastically, so he reached out a hesitant hand and rubbed John’s forearm. Oh, wow. That wasn’t just soft, that was, that was…
“Mmm.” Rodney’s eyes widened when he noticed the sound he’d made.
“Isn’t it nice?” John asked enthusiastically.
“Isn’t what nice?” Rodney turned at the question. That was
“This sweater!” John said. “Feel it!”
The three of them crowded around John, extending hands to touch the sweater, as though they’d just been waiting for an invitation to stroke him. Rodney was suddenly on the outside of a huddle around his (admittedly secret) boyfriend, spit out like a cherry pit. The commotion had caught the attention of some of the other people in the gateroom, who gathered around excitedly. Somehow, the news of this sweater (or of John’s open invitation to finally let people touch him, Rodney wasn’t sure which) spread like wildfire, and more and more people appeared in the gateroom, fondling hands ready.
Rodney sighed. He could get mad at John for this, but it wasn’t really his fault. John didn’t seem to realize how attractive he was, not just in a physical sense. Everyone who met him just wanted to, to pet him. He was like a freaking labrador retriever. No. Not a retriever, a border collie. A skinny, lightning-quick, flyball-playing, sheep-herding, silky-haired, black and white border collie. Might as well name him Fly and throw him a frisbee. He was just friendly. He could raise his hackles and growl like the best of them, but his default greeting was a wagging tail. And what a tail it was… And that was the problem. John didn’t mean to encourage them, but he just never saw it coming. Quite likely he was too busy running after the tennis ball.
Rodney saved the work he’d been doing, shut his laptop with a click, and tucked it under his arm. Let them make their fuss over him. Rodney could wait. He always waited, and John always came.
Much later, Rodney was once again on his laptop, stretched out on his bed, when John came in, making little yawning sounds.
“Get enough attention today?” Rodney asked without looking up.
John sat down next to him, nudging him over with his hip. His arm rested casually across Rodney’s neck, hand massaging his far shoulder. “Not from you,” he murmured.
“Mmm.” Rodney suddenly realized that something wasn’t quite right. He gave in and looked up. “Where’s your sweater?”
“Still making the rounds of the Expedition. Once they started touching it, everyone wanted their ten minutes, and I was getting tired, so I took it off and let them fight over it.”
Rodney thought seriously about not saying what he was about to say. “I was, uh, hoping you’d still have it?”
John cocked an eyebrow. “You too, huh?”
“It’s so soft! I don’t know how anything could be so, it made me want to touch it and touch it and rub it against my bare skin, it’s the most nice, warm, wonderful thing, and what’s the matter with me?”
“Don’t worry, Rodney, it’s been doing that to everyone today,” John said with mock seriousness. “It won’t take away your inherent humbug and replace it with the warm fuzzies.”
“Hrmph.” Rodney just looked at John for a moment, inspecting the little bits of sweater lint on his t-shirt. “You’ll get it back?”
John laughed. “Sure, I’ll get it back. I might not have to, though—if negotiations go well, the sweater people’ll let more than one person through at a time, and we’ll have enough of this wool for everybody. Though they still have some rule limiting it to people with green eyes.”
“Hmm. Maybe Atlantis can adopt a sheep.”
“Teyla’s already got her people drawing up plans for an enclosure on the Mainland.”
Rodney looked right into John’s dancing eyes. “So,” John said. “I know I’m not as appealing without the sweater…”
Rodney set his laptop on the bedside table. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “You can make yourself more appealing without the t-shirt.”