Green was the color everyone associated with envy, and jealousy, so John was not surprised when the Ancient mood device cast a muddy green light over him, shot through with a myriad of other colors that almost matched the hazel-green of his eyes. Jealousy seemed to be a permanent state of mind with him since Rodney announced his engagement to Jennifer, and there was no use in denying that he was jealous of her and not of Rodney.
What surprised him was that Jennifer's aura alternated between a light and a murky pink, streaked with a tarnished gold--colors of deception, of desperately trying to prove herself. Yet, she had always appeared so carefree and focused in his eyes--young and full of energy--that he had expected bright colors to halo her blond hair and blue eyes. He expected to see her looking angelic, with Rodney's eyes drawn to her in adoration.
The thought made his jealousy flare, and his aura churned a muddier green and brown before lighting up with flashes of yellow, blue and emerald as Rodney turned to him. John wondered whether those were the colors of love and futility, of regret for not having spoken up when he had the chance. And there had been plenty of chances over the years but he had squandered them all, blaming DADT and regulations when, in truth, he was simply an emotional coward.
In contrast, Rodney's aura was a mixture of bright and dull yellows and orange, shot through with flashes of dark blue and muddy pink, while Teyla and Ronon's auras were mainly soft blues streaked with various shades of red. An old girlfriend had been into all that New Age spiritualism--auras and crystals--and John had taken an interest purely to get close to her. Since then, he had associated soft blues with meditation and red with anger and strength, which seemed fitting for his perception of his friends.
The old woman--the priestess--smiled warmly at Jennifer. "You are not ready for commitment to this one person. You must tell him before you begin walking the wrong life path, for that will lead only to sadness and regret for you both."
John glanced back towards Rodney, who was now looking at Jennifer in confusion. If it were not for the strange energy wrapped tightly around his body, holding him frozen except for his eyes, Rodney would probably have been mocking the priestess by now, calling it voodoo and mumbo-jumbo. John could see Rodney struggling to speak; his aura changing with his heightened emotions.
The priestess turned to Rodney, smiling at him as if she knew exactly how he felt--and perhaps she did as his aura was still flashing muddy reds of anger through the other colors. She reached out and stroked his cheek, reminding John too much of that time when a Wraith Queen had prepared to feed off Rodney while John could only struggle powerlessly within the grasp of two Wraith drones. Only Teyla's psychic intervention had saved Rodney that day, and he could see Teyla's aura changing as she struggled to free herself now.
Even though John knew in his heart that the old woman meant them no harm, he hated being powerless, recalling one too many occasions when he was driven to his knees by a Wraith Queen or held captive. He cursed silently, feeling responsible for allowing them to walk into this trap.
She smiled at Rodney. "For one who speaks his mind so clearly, and with so little provocation, you hold many secrets. But some secrets should be revealed, and you will find he will listen and speak his own secrets in turn." Her eyes dipped towards John.
"Oh how incredibly cryptic. Did you read that off of a..." Rodney stopped abruptly, suddenly aware that he could not only speak by move as well.
John felt a tingling sensation as the aura surrounding him faded, leaving him free once more. He reached for his P90 automatically but let his fingers curl around it without true intent to use it. The priestess turned and hobbled away, leaning heavily on her staff. After a moment, they followed her out of the cave and back into the sunlit valley. The crowd surrounding the cave entrance were smiling happily, parting as John and the others approached, until they were standing back at the center of the village. Jennifer's medical supplies and field kit were exactly where she had left them earlier, untouched.
"Come," the old woman stated. "Let us celebrate our friendship."
Yeah, he thought. The whole point of following her up into the cave had been a show of friendship though, next time, he would be a little more cautious. At the very least he would have Rodney scan for Ancient technology.
Night fell quickly, and an hour into the celebration, John saw Jennifer lead Rodney just beyond the light from the main fire and the revelers. He didn't need to guess what was happening as he saw her take the engagement ring from her finger and hand it back to Rodney before kissing him lightly on the cheek. She returned to the fire leaving Rodney standing alone, staring at the ring in the palm of his hand. Unable to ignore Rodney's pain, John went to him, startling Rodney when he called out, "Hey," softly.
The ring fell to the ground and Rodney snatched it back up and made to put it in his TAC vest pocket but stared at it instead. Rodney had presented Jennifer with the ring while Atlantis was still on Earth so John had not seen it close up until now. Unlike the ring bought for Katie, this one was more exquisite, more feminine, and John wondered if Jeanie had picked it out for Rodney.
"She said she can't marry me and..." He looked at John. "And I'm... not exactly upset about it. I don't think..."
John waited for Rodney to continue but he seemed lost in thought. "You don't think?"
Rodney cleared his throat. "I don't think she was the one. In fact, I know she wasn't. There's someone else. Has been for some time and... but I didn't think..."
"Didn't think?" John prompted again.
Rodney swallowed hard, chin tilting up defiantly. "You. It was meant to be you." Rodney looked away, huffing in self-derision. "I don't expect--"
Before he could finish the sentence, John had reached out and turned his face back, pressing his lips against Rodney's softly.
"Yes," John whispered. "The answer is yes."