Rodney's bedroom had been something close to quiet, Rodney's snores being muffled by John's chest. Then the radio comm buzzed. It buzzed again before John cracked an eye and looked around the room. It was still dark out, no light peeking through the windows, but he could still make out the three radios on the bed table next to Elizabeth. The middle one's light was blinking.
"That's yours, Rodney," John mumbled into Rodney's hair.
"Rodney." Elizabeth this time.
"'S not." Rodney rolled over and buried his face between Elizabeth's breasts.
"Dr. McKay?" the radio chirped.
"Crap." Rodney reached over Elizabeth and fumbled his hand toward the bed table, eyes still shut. His hand closed around the offending radio. He keyed the mic and spoke in his second most annoyed tone. "McKay. This better be good."
"Actually, it's pretty bad. We need you down here in the lab. Now. We have coffee…"
"I'll be right there," Rodney responded, crawling over John to get out of the bed. John watched as Rodney managed to navigate through the clothing strewn about the floor, get dressed, and get out the door without cracking just one eye more than half open.
John closed his eyes and rolled over to the middle of the bed, expecting to catch a cuddle and a few more winks. He opened them again when his extended arm found nothing but comforter where Elizabeth had been. She was now sitting on the edge of the bed, looking as though she were about to get up. He sat up and scooted over, wrapping his arms around her from behind and setting his chin on her shoulder.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"You don't feel odd being here with me when Rodney's not here?" Elizabeth asked.
"No. I've always stayed before. Don't see why that should change." He buried his face in her neck and began to lightly nibble.
"So if we had all been in your room, and you were called, you wouldn't mind if Rodney and I stayed in your bed and…" Elizabeth made a vague motion with her hand.
One of John's hands ran down her leg. "I think I'd be disappointed if you didn't."
"I'll keep that in mind. Meanwhile…"
"Elizabeth?" Rodney's voice came over the radio.
Elizabeth snatched her radio off the table, breaking the contact with John. "Yes, Rodney?"
"We've got a situation here. You might as well see if you can round up Colonel Sheppard on your way down."
"On my way," she replied, standing up. "…Meanwhile, duty calls." She mimed activating the radio again. "Colonel Sheppard? Sorry to wake you, but Dr McKay has requested your presence in his lab."
There was no order as to whose quarters they went to on any given night. Life in Atlantis was far too unpredictable for making plans. Not to mention the fact that making plans would mean talking about whatever this was. None of them were ready for that yet.
They seemed to end up in John's quarters more often. Everyone joked about how the city loved John, but Elizabeth and Rodney could feel the difference between John's room and theirs. The temperature was always right, as was the lighting. And even Rodney couldn't find fault with the bed.
Some nights they each just went to their respective quarters. Once again, no discussion; they seemed to have a sense of when extra space was needed. There was no routine. None.
This left plenty of room for surprises.
Rodney knocked on John's door. The door opened to an empty living room, but the bedroom door was open, though the lights were out. Rodney walked in, setting the DVD he brought down on a table as he crossed the room. "John?" he called.
"I'm in here," John said from the bedroom. As Rodney crossed the threshold, the lights came on. John was reclined on the bed, hands behind his head.
It was hardly the first time Rodney had seen John naked. But seeing him laid out like an all-you-can-eat buffet was new. He stood there gaping, grasping for something to say. John helped him out.
"So, do I get a prize for averting today's life-threatening crisis?" John drawled, stretching his body out along the bed, extending his arms over his head.
Rodney regained his senses quickly in the light of John's terribly obvious display. He crossed his arms and leaned in the doorway. "I'm not so sure about that, Colonel. It was a team effort and all…"
John smiled and sat up, dropping the show. "Speaking of a team effort, where's Elizabeth?"
"She took a stack of work back to her quarters. She said, in a questionable tone I might add, that she wanted to get caught up and go to sleep at a reasonable hour."
"Tell me that wasn't a stack of your work I heard dropped when you came in."
"It was a movie." Rodney turned around and went back to the front door to retrieve the DVD. "I thought you did indeed deserve a prize for today's heroics." He came back to the doorway and held up the box.
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off?"
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."
"Point taken. Movie. Then bed. Sleep."
Rodney kicked off his shoes and climbed into the bed.
"Why do we still call it paperwork when there's no paper?" Elizabeth asked, looking up from her laptop. No reams of paper on the table, but there was the equivalent on the computer waiting to be handled. One thing to be said for the less efficient paper system — at least the height of the paper gave an indication of how far along one was.
"It's never-ending, isn't it?" Rodney didn't miss the paper. Paper was much too easy to lose, fold/spindle/mutilate. But he could envision the virtual stacks sitting around Elizabeth's table.
"It's nothing I didn't sign up for."
"That's not quite the point." Rodney reached across the table and held Elizabeth's hand, running his thumb along hers.
"I know." She shrugged, then smiled. "But I still wouldn't trade it for anything."
Rodney knows just how true this is. For everyone on the expedition, really. He was just a bit more familiar with Elizabeth's particular story.
They sat on opposite sides of the table, stockinged feet in each other's lap while getting work done on their respective laptops. It was much more practical than trying to work on the couch, and comforting as well, making it easy not to think about John being out on a patrol in an unexplored part of the city.
"He quoted Ferris Bueller at you?" Elizabeth raised an eyebrow.
"It was appropriate! And you two can quit ganging up on me now." Rodney pointed back and forth between the two, then crossed his arms.
"Rodney, we're not ganging up on you. Yet." John leered.
"It is your turn, Rodney." Elizabeth mimicked the leer as she ran a hand up the front of Rodney's shirt. John's hand joined hers for a moment before sliding down to unfasten Rodney's pants.
"Oh," Rodney gasped. "Well. In the interest of keeping everything equal…"