Flopping The Little Guy by withdiamonds

The Pegasus Galaxy Remix by

On the whole, the Atlantis thing was one of the easiest things they'd ever done as a group. For one, they'd already played an Atlantis even if it wasn't this Atlantis, and for another, it was in a whole other galaxy.

That made it way cool, to quote Justin. Lance was way past cool. Cool was way back when he'd heard from Johnny that they were being approached regarding doing a USO-type show for the military in a really distant posting. Not that anyone had mentioned other galaxies or aliens or Stargates then, but still.

When they did mention Stargates, Lance had gotten a hard-on that wouldn't quit. Chris'd been jealous, until Lance had gotten him alone in the bathroom later and made it up to him by fucking him over a sink. Chris was romantic like that.

The original plan was for them to go through the Stargate to the Pegasus Galaxy, spend two weeks there doing shows and generally raising morale, then come back on a spaceship.

In Lance's mind, this sounded more like, "Go through a Star!!! Gate!!! Fly on a SPACEship!!!" except it was also a sign being waved around in his head with lots of neon markers and glitter.

At that point, there had been no backing out. Chris wouldn't let them. It would have broken Lance's heart and, as Lance's unofficial official boyfriend, Chris was against that.

So they went. What they hadn't counted on though — what nobody had counted on — was the spaceship blowing up shortly after they arrived on Atlantis. Kaboom. No more ship. And, apparently, it was the only one. With the spaceship gone, there was no way home. Not even though the Stargate, which was how they'd gotten there in the first place. None of them had really understood why they could go one way and not the other, because it had something to do with the difference between zee and zed and a lot of waving arms and not any coherent explanation, but there it was. They were stuck. In another galaxy.

And Lance was happy. Very happy. Despite the fact that he and Chris had to have sex in a twin bed. Lance was all for the floor himself, but Chris kept complaining about his bad knees whenever he suggested it.

There was always the shower, which was large enough for four people plus a small elephant, except Lance had already sprained his wrist once having water-related sex with Chris. Never again.

Chris claimed that was unfair because Lance was pretty when he was wet. And slippery. And mmmyeah. Which was a good argument, especially given the look in Chris's eyes, but not good enough to risk disabling injury when they were in another freaking galaxy.

"But Lance! There's a doctor! If you get broken, he can fix it!"

Lance rolled his eyes at Chris. "He's not a real doctor. And some spinal injuries are permanent."

"That's what you said when I got the trampoline. C'mon, Lance, please?"

Chris tended to believe that looking at Lance with wide eyes would get him everything he wanted. Generally, he was right.

"I sprained my wrist last time," Lance said, backing away from Chris.

Chris, naturally, followed him. Theirs was a predator-predator relationship. Most of the time. Sometimes Lance slipped up, and then Chris would pounce. Like now.

"You don't need your wrist," Chris said. "You only need wrists if you're jerking off. I'll jerk you off all you want."

Somehow that sounded sweet, even though Lance knew it was a ploy. Yes, Chris had jerked him off when he'd sprained his wrist last time — and blew him and did lots of other improbably sexy things, including the one where he sat in Lance's lap and fucked his mind away — but good sex did not make up for pain and anguish. Um. Most of the time.

"No," Lance said again, but he was obviously weakening.

"Wet. Naked," Chris said, stepping in until he was just barely touching Lance. "Sexy."

Lance could almost but not quite feel Chris against him. It made him want to reach out and grab Chris. That this would be counterproductive toward the goal of not having sex in the shower was starting to matter less.

Lance briefly considered the idea of grabbing Chris and seducing him now before they can get anywhere near the bathroom. The prospect of getting Chris all worked up before either of them got their clothes off, so worked up that Chris was unwilling to wait to get his clothes off and would do it right here, against the wall, was sexy. Even the thought of Chris pouting afterward was sexy. They could have makeup sex even.

Lance reached out, intending to put his plan into action.

But Chris backed away. "Nuh-uh. I'm wise in the ways of the Bass. No nookie for you unless you're wet and naked."

"Wall nookie now, shower nookie afterward," Lance bargained, because Chris wasn't always good for two rounds and Lance was. If they did Chris's thing first, then it was likely that Lance would be left frustrated.

Which, unfortunately, was something Chris liked. "Nuh-uh. Shower sex now."

"But Chris!" Lance whined. "You'll get off and then you'll pass out in the shower and I'll have to drag you to the bed. And if I don't hurt myself permanently, I'll end up being horny for the rest of the day."

"Bonus," Chris said, an evil light in his eyes.

"Chris!" Lance protested again, but then Chris pinned him with a particularly intense stare. Lance felt a shiver go down his back, as if Chris had traced a finger along his spine. "Okay. Fine. But if you break me, you have to wait on me hand and foot until I'm well again."

"Deal," Chris said, and the hand he placed on Lance's chest was as good as a leash, drawing Lance toward the bathroom.

"Wet," Chris repeated, when they were standing in front of the shower. He tugged on the bottom of Lance's shirt. "Naked." Lance raised his arms and let Chris pull the shirt off. "Now."

The water was already on behind him, warm spray against Lance's back. Chris's ATA gene at work. Most of the time, Lance was so jealous of that that it hurt. Right now, he was too busy, with Chris's hands touching him and the look on Chris's face and the thought of how good Chris would look wet, too.

And yes, he could end up injured. Possibly even seriously injured. Because Chris was sometimes like a monkey on crack during sex. And that would be bad. But not nearly as bad as not having Chris, as not getting Chris wet and naked against him and in him. Right now even.

Lance smiled.

"Three out of five? Three of them have the ATA gene? That's statistically improbable."

"Aye," Carson said. "But real. It's possible that either of the other two might develop it if given the gene therapy."

Rodney's face screwed up as if he'd bitten into something sour. "That's— that's—"

Carson raised a hand. "I need to talk to JC Chasez again. Do you mind?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do mind—" Rodney broke off as Carson went back to his samples. "Well, fine. Ignore me then." He stalked out into the main infirmary. Not seeing his quarry, he kept moving until he spotted the person he needed.

"You!" Rodney said, snapping his fingers at JC, who was sitting on the floor, back against the wall, talking to Chris and Lance. "JT!"

JC didn't look up. "It's simple, really. Any even number, other than two, isn't prime, because it's divisible by two. Anything that ends in a five or a zero is divisible by five, so it's not prime. Anything where the numbers add up to three or a multiple of three, like 111 or 117, isn't prime because it's divisible by three. And if he gives you a number under 100, then he's fucking with you, because all you have to know are the times tables to figure those out."

"You, you," Rodney said, getting progressively redder. "JT, you cheater!"

"Yo," Justin said, skidding around the corner. "You rang?"

"Not you! Him!"

"That's JC," Justin said slowly, as if to a retarded person. "JC. I'm JT. For Justin Timberlake, y'know?"

"No, I do not know," Rodney said firmly. "I have a lot of important things to remember, and none of them include the names of pseudomusicians. Anyway. Carson wants him in there next."

"The doctor guy?"

"Yes," Rodney said, rolling his eyes. "The doctor guy."

"So. Why the shower sex?" Lance asked afterward when he and Chris had made it to the bed and were lying there together in a tangle of limbs.

"Didn't you like it?" Chris asked, giving Lance a mischievous grin.

Lance rolled his eyes. "You know I did. But I know you, too. Usually you'd be complaining about bad knees and old bones and the lack of safety rails in the shower. And you didn't. You're practically frisky today." Definitely frisky actually, given that Chris was still awake, not passed out like usual, and Chris had his hand wrapped around Lance's cock.

"Duh, we've got a show tonight!" Chris announced. "Singing, dancing, what's not to love?"

"You're up to something," Lance said, thrusting gently into Chris's hand.

"Who me?" Chris asked, fluttering his eyelashes and using his best innocent voice.

"Yeah, you. You gonna tell me what it is or let me figure it out after you've already done whatever it is?" Right now Lance didn't much care which it turned out to be. Not as long as Chris left his hand where it was.

"Well…" Chris said, giving a little twist to his wrist that made Lance gasp, "…it may be that, after all the time we've been here, that my headset is wearing out. It was fritzing out when I tried it on last night. And it also may be that I know a certain individual who some of us love to hate who'll be fun to pull a prank on."

Lance was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate. "Rodney? He's not gonna look at your headset even if you covered it in chocolate."

Chris gave a wicked little laugh that had Lance groaning and spilling into his hand. "Let's just say I know a way to flop the little guy."

Chris, as it turned out, had the strongest gene out of all of them. Justin could usually get the doors to open for him, but that was about it, and no one was sure about JC. It was the opinion of the guys that JC thought the city was a live person who he hadn't managed to meet yet. Rodney's opinion on the matter, which he had expressed loudly to anyone who would listen, ran more to probable overuse of hallucinogens.

Lance had been there when Sheppard approached Chris about possibly piloting one of their puddlejumpers.

"C'mon," John had wheedled. "You can just sit in it. You don't have to actually fly it anywhere."

"No," Chris had said with a calmness at odds with how his fingernails were clenched into the doorframe. "I don't think so."

But then he came back one day, all bright-eyed and bouncy and since Lance knew Chris wasn't the kind to be getting sex on the side, he'd realized something was up. He just hadn't expected it to be that.

"You flew," Lance said disbelievingly.

"Yeah," Chris said. "It was cool."

"You flew," Lance repeated.

"Yeah, I know. I was there. It was cool. A lot cooler than I expected. I mean, there's the whole heights thing, but it's different in one of those babies. It's almost like you're the ship. You think about not falling and then you're hovering. You can't fall. It's so cool." Chris left out the part where they'd been hovering above ground for about thirty minutes with an increasingly steely eyed Sheppard repeating, 'Just land the damn thing already.'

"I can't believe you didn't take me," Lance said wistfully. A wistfulness out of all proportion for the situation. Chris could take him up some other time. But he couldn't give Lance the ability to fly on his own.

Chris apparently realized that, because he took Lance's hand and squeezed it. "I'm sorry, man."

Lance didn't look up. "I— I'm not really surprised, y'know? I am, but I'm not. I keep having this stupid idea that I belong up here. In space. And I keep finding out that I don't. Now even my own body is saying I don't."

"Moron," Chris said. It was an endearment.

Lance loved Chris's pranks, as long as they weren't on him. Lance had a sense of humor, but it was a lot more fun watching Chris play the prank than being the object of the joke. In a way, Lance's current relationship with Chris was a result of that. In the beginning, when NSYNC was still in Orlando and dreaming of someday cutting an album, Chris had taken advantage of the two of them sharing a room to make Lance's life a living hell. In response, Lance had started watching Chris more carefully so he could tell when Chris was about to pull a fast one. He'd learned a lot about Chris that way, including how heady it was to be on the receiving end of one of Chris's puckish grins, how rarely Chris meant to actually hurt someone and precisely how attractive Chris's ass was, both in and out of clothing.

They'd done several shows on Atlantis and it was old hat by now. Headsets with mikes built in connected wirelessly to the intercom system and gave them their sound equipment. A couple of tables moved aside in the mess hall gave them their stage. And JC and his glitter gun made the most of out of what they could use for costumes.

"You brought a glitter gun to Atlantis?" Rodney asked incredulously. "This is something you couldn't live without? Something you had to bring instead of, oh say, actually important supplies, such as coffee or chocolate?"

There was a moment of silence, heads turning to look at JC.

Sheppard cleared his throat. "I have to say, I sort of agree with him."

"Hah! Even the major agrees with me!" Rodney said triumphantly. "A glitter gun is a phenomenally stupid piece of equipment to bring to another galaxy."

JC shrugged, unaffected by the tirade. "I like it."

Rodney grumbled, then shoved a small grey object at JC. "Here, make yourself useful. We know what this does and even you can't kill anyone with it."

JC held it, stroking it with his index finger. Cocking his head, he hummed to himself for a while before handing it back to McKay.

"Well?" Rodney said impatiently. "You're supposed to think 'on'. On as in the opposite of off, which is what it is now. Or is that too complicated for you?"

JC shook his head. "It doesn't want to turn on. It doesn't like it."

They'd settled into a routine of doing two shows a week, one with just them and one with everyone who felt like performing. At this point, they were taking requests and singing anything anyone wanted to hear, although Justin had flatly refused to do anything Aaron Carter had ever recorded.

"Yes, because you sound so much like him," Chris had retorted.

Lance hadn't been sure what that was supposed to mean, especially given that none of the Atlantis people had asked for anything by Aaron. Mostly they were asked to sing oldies, show tunes and the occasional thrash song. Joey was in heaven.

Tonight they were doing Richard Marx and Disney tunes, which meant they could do "This I Promise You" without looking completely cheesy.

Lance was kind of looking forward to it. In the three months they'd been there, they'd gotten away from the NSYNC catalog and done some really cool stuff, even if they were the only ones who realized how neat it was to be able to play around with the music like this.

He remembered how it had gone after the Daedalus had blown up and they'd been faced with the reality that they could be stuck here for an indefinite period of time, perhaps forever.

"Oh. So you mean it's like Germany," Justin had said, dismissing the issue with a casual air that didn't fool any of the other four, but seemed to aggravate McKay to no end. The others in the briefing room didn't look too happy either — Dr. Weir was frowning, for example — but McKay was having a full-blown snit fit.

"Do you even—" Rodney started, hands going up in front of him like he wanted to strangle Justin. "You— it was a stupid idea to bring you here in the first place. I said it from the beginning—"

"You didn't know until after they got here," Sheppard interjected.

"Yes, I know that, and if I had known, then they would never have gotten here, because we could have used anything other than them. Just the thought of what could have been sent through instead of them is physically painful. 600 pounds of coffee. Laptops. Real food. Actually intelligent people!"

Chris was watching Rodney with interest as was Lance. Not for the same reasons, Lance didn't think.

The sound of clapping came from Justin. "Great diva fit, man, but it could use some work."

"Yeah," Chris agreed immediately. "A for effort and all, but—"

"We've seen better," Justin finished for him.

"You—" Rodney said, stabbing out a finger at Justin before waving his hand to include all of NSYNC, "You parasites cannot just sit around here and look pretty or whatever it is that you supposedly do. The power and resources it takes to house and feed you aren't worth it. The best thing to do would be to leave you on the mainland with the Athosians, but as some bleeding hearts would probably bring up how utterly and completely incapable any of you are of surviving in the wild, you're most likely going to be allowed to stay here. Which means work! Real work!"

"We know what work is like," Lance said, matching Rodney's tone with his own highly-cultivated snarkiness. "Being a pop star's not all about booze and bad blowjobs."

To the surprise of most of the room, Rodney flushed.

John looked at Rodney. Hell, everyone looked at Rodney. Except Chris.

"What was the attraction?" Chris whispered to Lance. "I mean, really. How drunk were you?"

Lance looked up at Chris through his eyelashes. "What can I say? I go for the mouthy ones."

Chris giggled, which came out loudly in the now hushed room. He followed the other's gazes to McKay.

"Hello?" Rodney said obnoxiously as soon as he realized they were all looking at him. "Statistically 80% of humans are in some part bisexual. As in preferring both men and women. And it was Russia. Cold and very few attractive people of either gender. Not the important point here."

There was a snicker at that, but Sheppard had his face under control when Rodney whipped his head around to look at him.

"Like I said," Lance said. "We know what work is like."

Joey, Chris and Justin all nodded. JC was still using a pen to draw on his jeans.

"Pop music is work," Justin said.

"And, contrary to popular belief," Chris added, "some of us had quote-unquote real jobs prior to jumping on the music bandwagon and ending up working even more hours every day."

Rodney threw his hands up. Before he could speak, Dr. Weir took control. "Yes, I'm sure we can find something useful for you to do. But it would be nice to still have performances as well. Nothing too stressful," she added diplomatically, "just whatever you feel like doing to contribute."

Singing now was more companionable than anything else. Not so much about performing and more about goofing off in front of other people and doing what they loved best. Lance thrived on it; it was less stressful than touring, but still performing, still the adrenaline and the rush. Plus, great sex afterwards when Chris could be persuaded to stay still long enough. Or even when he couldn't be persuaded, but could be forced. Or when he was allowed to be all manic energy and abrupt, inventive moments.

Lance collected his headset from Justin, who had custody of the hardware and slipped it over his ear. It wasn't their one of their customary headsets, the kind they used to use on tour, but rather something that had been supplied to them when they arrived here. Lightweight, the headset fitted around one ear, terminating in a pickup near the cheek. It was a lot like the kind they used on tour, but blessedly wireless. There was a lot he didn't miss about touring, especially having people's hands all over him, touching him, taping things in place, fitting the battery pack for the headset in under his clothes, all of that. At this point in his life, he was happy to have Chris be the one who touched him.

He watched Chris put on his own and frowned. Why was he putting it on if it was broken?

Lance looked around the room. No Rodney McKay either. That was a little unusual. For someone who claimed to despise them and everything they stood for, Rodney tended to show up for most of their performances, usually early.

He gave Chris a look. Chris grinned conspiratorially back at him and winked.

Joey caught that and raised his eyebrows at Lance.

Rolling his eyes, Lance spread his hands helplessly. Joey's guess was as good as his. He knew Chris was going to do something, but he had no idea what.

The mess hall was open for business most of the day and well-frequented. Lance had yet to find a time when there wasn't anyone there, even if the only things to eat were cold leftovers from dinner. So people were watching them, sitting at tables and eating while keeping an eye on the boybanders.

Lance grinned at the floor. They were the most interesting thing going on around here even when they weren't doing anything. Of course, the quality of the food had a lot to do with it.

Joey stabbed at his meat with his fork. "What the hell is this crap?"

The question got the attention of a passing corporal. "Refried crap. Tomorrow's roast crap."

"Nah," another Marine replied, "tomorrow's leftover refried crap. We won't get roast crap until all of this is gone."

They laughed and the second man moved on. The corporal gave them the slightly superior smile of someone who had already gone through the whining stage, the hating it stage and had progressed to the stage of enjoying it in order to freak out others. "It's as good as it gets around here. Especially without the Daedalus."

Chris and Justin groaned. Lance, who was grimly cutting his meat up, didn't bother saying anything. There wasn't anything to say.

"Like hell it is," Joey said, standing up. "Where's the kitchen?"

After that, things had gotten better, but only when Joey was cooking. Lance knew that Joey'd made an effort to get across the culinary basics to the other personnel in the kitchen, like the concept of marinating meat to give it a flavor, mixing strong-tasting vegetables with bland sides like the seemingly infinite supply of powdered potato flakes and making cheese from milk. However, Joey hadn't had much success. Cooking was a rotating chore that most of the personnel hated. Lance suspected that Rodney had a lot to do with that, given his complaints about nearly everything that hadn't come out of a package from Earth.

Joey, on the other hand… Lance'd heard several stories about the time when Rodney had very nearly declared his undying love for Joey's cooking.

"Him I like," Rodney said, digging into his lasagna. "He's a good guy. For a pseudomusician."

John's eyes danced with laughter. "You should tell him that."

Rodney gave him a raised eyebrow look. "Use compliments to ensure a smooth flow of edible food? A radical strategy, but it just might work. Hey!" he yelled across the room at Joey. "You! Emeril! Good grub!"

Sheppard kept his face mostly straight.

Chris nudged Lance with an elbow. "Hey. C'mon, Bass, wake up. Time to warm up and, y'know, actually sing something."

Lance gave him a wide-eyed look. "Sing? But I have stage fright."

"Good thing we aren't on a stage then," Joey said, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. "What do you wanna start with?"

"Something sappy," Chris said. "What about some Limp Bizkit?"

JC frowned at him. "We're not doing them tonight."

"And the real control-freak JC surfaces!" Chris said. "Score!" He raised his hand and, dutifully, Lance smacked it.

"'This I Promise You'," JC said firmly and hummed. They had their background music with them for their stuff, but only for their songs. When they'd decided to start doing other songs, they'd gone a capella for everything. It wasn't like they needed the music. They really could sing. Even McKay hadn't been able to find anything nastier to say about that than a mutter of 'waste of talent', which was practically a compliment from him.

There was a thumbs up from a guy with a French shoulder flash standing near the intercoms and, when Lance came in, he could hear his voice reverberating in the hush that had fallen over the room.

As conversations quieted, he could hear their voices clearly, picking out Joey's, JC's and Justin's. Chris, however, was silent.

He turned his head slightly to look toward Chris. Chris was on his right, mugging like usual, lips moving along with the song.

It puzzled Lance for a second because, even with Chris's headset on the fritz, Lance was standing close enough that he should have been able to hear something. Except he didn't.

And then he got it. It was an effort not to grin at Chris as he picked up on what Chris was doing. He was pretending to sing, but not actually making any sound. Typical Chris shit.

The guy with the French shoulder patch looked confused. Most of the audience hadn't caught on that only four of the five were producing sound. Lance could tell because most of them were either ignoring the singing or smiling and nodding along. Only a few people were frowning and starting to ask questions of those nearest to them.

Lance kept an eye on the French guy. He saw him talking into his own headset and when Rodney — finally — entered the mess hall, pulling him aside and talking urgently to him.

He couldn't help the smile that pulled at the corners of his mouth. Chris's idea wasn't so stupid after all. Rodney had started waving his arms and — wait for it — yes! Was stalking toward them, a perturbed look on his face.

"How anyone could break something this simple is beyond me," Lance could hear Rodney ranting as he got closer. "But of course, none of you were exactly selected for your brains, now were you?"

One by one, they stopped singing, JC last, only stuttering to a halt after several bars, then giving them a frown for having stopped.

"Give me that," Rodney said to Chris, hand out for the headset.

Chris blinked at him, as though unaware of what Rodney was talking about. Lance bit his lip to keep from laughing. Chris could not do innocent.

"Oh for the love of—" Rodney snatched the headset off of Chris's head quickly enough that Chris was left rubbing his ear.

"Hey, you could've asked," Chris said.

"Yes, because I believe in your verbal comprehension as much as I believe in the Tooth Fairy and Mother Nature," Rodney said, taking his scanner out of his pocket and running it over the headset.

"He has a point," Lance said straight-faced.

"Et tu, Bass?"

Rodney fiddled with the headset for several more minutes, pulling first one gadget then another from his pockets, and finally a screwdriver. When it had been tinkered with to his satisfaction, he ran the scanner over it again, gave a satisfied nod and handed it back to Chris. "There. Even someone as minimally educated as you should be able to use it now."

"Thanks?" Chris said, putting it back on. He waited for Rodney to get back among the crowd before saying, "JC? Want to start us off again?"

Rocking on the balls of his feet with barely leashed tension, JC nodded and hummed again.

Lance was fairly certain Chris wasn't done fucking with Rodney. Chris'd been, well, not jealous of Rodney, but certainly fiercely involved in one-upping the man ever since he'd learned about Lance and Rodney's former involvement.

But when they started singing again, there were five voices, not four.

He turned his head to see Chris, raising his eyebrows to ask what was going on. No way would Chris have abandoned the prank this soon.

Chris's eyes were wide as he looked back, not a fake innocent look this time, but a genuinely freaked out expression.

Not willing to piss JC off more by interrupting the song a second time, Lance waited until after the song to push his headset aside and turn to Chris.

Chris had his own headset off, staring at it.

"What's up?" Lance whispered. "Did you decide not to keep up the joke?"

"Lance—" Chris said, looking up at him with the same stunned expression, "I wasn't singing that time either. Not out loud anyway."

"But I heard you," Lance replied. The sound of Chris's voice was something he knew very well and was not going to mistake for anything else. And it had definitely been Chris singing.

"I wasn't." Chris's brows drew in. "I was singing along in my head because, well…"

"It makes it easier to lip sync and you can't help yourself anyway."

"Yeah, right. That. But this thing made my voice come out."

On Chris's far side, JC was bouncing again, his way of showing impatience. Justin looked between JC and Chris and hurriedly went over to JC, asking him something. Lance felt grateful for the reprieve.

"What do you think happened?" Lance asked.

"Obviously McKay did something," Chris said. "It didn't work and then it did work."

Lance snorted. "What did he do? Make it so you could sing with your mind?"

Curiously, Chris seemed a little relieved by that, like even a nutso explanation was better than not knowing why the freaky shit was happening to him. "I do have that ADD gene, you know."

"ATA," Lance corrected automatically. He looked over at Rodney who was talking to Sheppard and didn't seem to be aware of what was going on with Chris. Rodney'd gotten Chris without even knowing he'd done it. "Huh. You know what?"

"What?" Chris asked, turning the headset over in his hands.

"I think Rodney just flopped the little guy."

It took a second for Chris to get it, then he growled, dropped the headset and launched himself at Lance. Lance went down hard and it was several minutes before Joey and Justin could get them untangled enough to sing the next song.

Lance's own job on Atlantis amounted to little more than cleaning. He hadn't brought up his cosmonaut training, but Justin had and the snorts of laughter that had gotten…. well. Lance didn't have the gene, he didn't have a useful skill like Joey, so basically this was it. He didn't mind it that much. He had been serious about the work thing. Compared to the amount of work that went into rehearsals, that went into a tour, that had gone into putting the group in the first place? Picking up things and putting them away was nothing.

It did involve him being on his alone a lot, too.

"So," a voice said.

Lance turned his head as Colonel Sheppard pushed himself off a wall and sauntered toward him. "Yeah?"

"You and Rodney, huh?"

"Yeah," Lance replied curtly, discouraging the conversation.

"What was that all about anyway?" Sheppard asked, falling into step next to Lance.

Lance stopped. The other man's expression was amused, a little detached, but definitely amused. "Why do you want to know? Going to use it against him?"

Sheppard held up his hands. "Whoa. Awfully defensive, aren't you? Don't you have someone else now?"

He gave the colonel a narrow eyed look. "I'm with Chris, yeah. But I'm not going to give you dirt on McKay, if that's what you think."

An eyebrow went up. "Must've been something. Rodney treats you like crap and here you are trying to protect him anyway."

Despite what he'd said earlier to Rodney in the briefing room, the sex had actually been damn good. Lance wasn't sure how much of that was due to how lonely and starved for sympathy he'd been by the end of everything that had happened in Russia. He'd had to put up with the looks, the comments, the attitudes of everyone who thought he didn't belong there and, worse, the pity of the few people who were on his side. His encounter with Rodney had been pure chance, but it had been what Lance needed. A stranger who didn't know who or what he was, who wanted the same thing he did, and who, with his mouthiness, had reminded him a little of Chris.

Yes, Lance did feel a little protective of Rodney because of that, but only a little, as it had been obvious from the first that Rodney, like Chris, was the kind of person who took care of himself. That wasn't why he didn't want to talk to Sheppard about it though. No, it was because of both of them. Because of all of them, if you counted in Chris, JC and anyone else who was gay or bi and in Atlantis.

"Not just him," Lance answered. Then going on the offensive, he asked archly, "Why does it matter to you anyway? You interested in him?"

Lance wasn't surprised when Sheppard didn't meet his eyes and looked at the floor instead. He was surprised though to hear a mumbled, "Maybe."

After their performance, Chris stuck close to Lance, as though he were still a little freaked out. Lance kept a hand on Chris as much as possible; touch tended to ground Chris. Lance was still hoping that he could wean Chris off of getting that touch through wrestling people to the ground and onto less violent means.

That Chris didn't protest or pull away from Lance's hand on his waist said a lot about Chris's mental state. So did the tongue Chris stuck out at Rodney.

Rodney only rolled his eyes at Chris, though. "How mature."

Lance felt Chris tense up, ready to start something, even though McKay probably hadn't deliberately turned Chris's prank back on him. Rodney would, Lance had no doubt of that, but the other man's attitude didn't show that kind of gloating glee.

"Hey," Lance whispered in Chris's ear. "Leave him alone. I have better uses for that tongue."

Chris immediately fixed his eyes on Lance. "Wet, naked, now?" he asked hopefully.

"Well…" Lance drawled. "You didn't kill me the first time. I suppose we could try it again…"

Chris whooped and grabbed Lance's arm, pulling him toward the door.

Lance laughed, happy here with Chris and with his guys and in another galaxy. "Isn't this where we started out today?"

"You got a problem with that, Bass?" Chris asked, pulling harder.

"No," Lance said, giving in and allowing himself to be hauled away. "Not at all. Especially since I want my own chance to flop the little guy."