Everyone's a moron. The world hates him. He hates the SGC. Blah blah, as far as Rodney's concerned everything's just like it always is, except at least the latest mishap at the mountain means he's been transported here from Area 51, so he might as well harass Sheppard a bit.
It's not even seven, so Sheppard probably hasn't eaten yet. And if he has, he can just keep Rodney company.
Rodney walks up the stairs to Sheppard's tiny apartment, missing Atlantis' transporters but still feeling light at the thought of a spirited discussion over Hollywood's latest attempts to ruin good franchises. He's been building up a rant over the last two days when he was stuck in a lab with people who apparently couldn't talk and avert planet-threatening crises at the same time. Idiots.
He knocks on the door, and as soon as it opens—thank God Sheppard doesn't let him wait—he asks, "We could go out or order something in, I don't really care, as long as it happens relatively soon. Oh. You look..." Rodney trails off, eyes running up and down the suit Sheppard's wearing. Unless things have changed, this is not the kind of thing John wears after work on a weekday. Wait, maybe it isn't...? No, it is. It's Thursday.
And that definitely sounds surprised. Also, Sheppard's eyes are shifting. This is... "Am I interrupting something?" Rodney asks.
"Uh," Sheppard says evasively.
"You're not alone," Rodney says.
"Actually, I am," John corrects him.
"Oh. Okay." Rodney shakes off the weird moment. "Back to my question. We could got out or—" He stops when John's gaze moves straight past him. Rodney turns.
A tall dark-haired man approaches them. He's also dressed in a suit but casual. Like Sheppard. Like what you'd wear on a date.
"I should go," Rodney mumbles.
"Rodney," Sheppard says awkwardly.
The guy—John's date—looks between them, giving a forced smile.
Rodney decides to make a run for it before he can ask, "Is this a bad time?" He doesn't look back, but calls, "I'll call you," over his shoulder, because... well, he doesn't really know why. He just needs to get out of here.
Fuck, what has he been thinking? That a guy like John would sit alone at home every night just waiting for an old friend to drop by unexpectedly? Damn, why didn't he call? This whole embarrassing scene could have been easily avoided and—
It comes from behind him, and he hears John's rapid steps following him out of the building. Rodney slows down, but doesn't stop until John says his name again, right behind of him. Rodney stops and turns.
For a moment they just look at each other. Awkward doesn't even seem to cover it. He feels strangely guilty. It's like they're both sorry, though Rodney doesn't have the slightest idea for what.
"I'm sorry. I should have told you sooner," John says. "There just never seemed the right time."
Well, Rodney supposes there is that. "I should have called," he says. He can't quite meet John's eyes. He feels strange. As if there's an itch all over his skin and he can't reach it. He forces himself not to squirm. And to look at John.
"No, it's... Any other day, I would have..."
"But today, you have a date," Rodney finishes for him.
"Yeah," John says. "Uhm. Tom asked me out, and I... I thought why not."
Rodney nods. Of course. Why not? Why would John not go out with a handsome guy who asked him out? There's no reason. No reason at all. Rodney's stomach feels hollow. He really needs to eat.
"You still here tomorrow?" John asks.
Rodney nods absent-mindedly, though he really has no idea. He hasn't thought that far. He's only thought, "World saved. Now Sheppard."
"Great," John says, grinning. There's only the slightest trace of awkwardness left. "We can do something together tomorrow. I'll call you."
"Yeah," Rodney says, though the sound feels weird in his mouth.
John gives him a strange look for a moment, then smiles quickly. "See you tomorrow, buddy!"
He's turned around and taken a few quick steps back towards the building—towards his date, presumably still waiting inside—when Rodney hears himself shout, "John".
Sheppard turns and looks at him expectantly, and Rodney opens his mouth but nothing comes out.
He has no idea why he called him back.
Actually that's a lie. He knows the words that are on the tip of his tongue, but he absolutely cannot say, "Don't go with him." He can't because that would be stupid, because what right on Earth would Rodney have to tell John whom to date? And why would he even want that?
Apart from the obvious reason.
Which doesn't make sense either because it's not as if... Hell, he's never thought about it. Well, not consciously at least. There's this...buzz in the back of mind that tells him it doesn't quite come out of nowhere. Like John dating men. It could have been a surprise, and right here, right now, it is, but still, not completely unexpected. It's just like that.
John is gay, and Rodney is...in love with him?
Scratch that. Not the question mark. Everything. Because this is clearly idiotic, and if it isn't in general, it clearly is today because John's date is waiting for him back in the building and John... John is slowly coming back to Rodney, frowning. Worried. Because he cares.
Something in Rodney's heart twists because...maybe it's not the worst possible time. Okay, it is really bad, but maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe it just had to happen this way, because for some reason neither hours on the phone with John nor the fact that all the time while he saved the world his thoughts were on the moment after when he'd get to see John again clued him in to the fact that this is what he wants.
Maybe this is how it's meant to be.
He takes a deep breath, steps up to John, puts his hand on the back of his head, and moves in, when suddenly John's hands come up like a shield.
"Oh god," Rodney says, immediately letting go and stepping away. "I'm so sorry."
Rodney can hear the pity in John's voice even if he doesn't dare look at him. "I should go. You have a date and I...should go. Sorry," he mumbles again and then turns and walks to his car.
"Rodney," John calls again, but Rodney keeps going. He doesn't want pity. He doesn't want understanding. He just wants a hot meal and then forget this day happened. Maybe he can convince himself that it was all just a dream. A nightmare. Or at least they can pretend it never happened.
He hears John's steps, walking back to the building. Rodney's not sure if he's relieved or disappointed. It's not as if John could have said anything to make him feel better. "Sorry, I don't feel the same," is worth about as much as, "Sorry, I can't fix it." It's still the end of the world.
Rodney walks to his car and gets in. He doesn't start it, though. He doesn't even know where to go. Someone said something about a hotel he recalls vaguely. He's got the address in his pocket. He doesn't move to get it.
He doesn't understand it. Why? Why now? For fucking years, he and Sheppard... Not that it matters. What would it have changed if he'd realized this sooner? He would have known why neither the split with Katie nor the one with Jennifer left a mark. Maybe he wouldn't have even tried to make those relationships work. Or maybe he would have been more successful because he wouldn't have subconsciously compared them to— Is that what he did? He certainly felt that something had been missing, hadn't been quite right.
He thinks about dinner discussions with Sheppard. Racing cars. Playing games. His heart aches almost physically.
Rodney jumps when the passenger door opens. When John slips into the seat, Rodney drops his gaze.
"What about your date?" he asks.
"I told him this wasn't the best time," John says.
Rodney doesn't know if he should feel happy or guilty. He's leaning towards the latter because he doesn't want to mess up John's life just because he's...
"Why did you want to kiss me?" John asks.
Rodney looks at him. Is that some kind of trick question? But Sheppard looks serious. Still, Rodney has no fucking idea how that question could ever be necessary to ask unless you were a cruel bastard, and while Sheppard could be both, he wouldn't be in this. Rodney really hopes. Because the way he feels right now, there's no telling what John can do to him. "I tripped and fell," he says with as much sarcasm as he can muster.
John frowns, then turns in his seat and puts one hand on Rodney's arm. "Rodney," he says.
"What reason could I have to kiss you?" Rodney shouts.
"Look, I'm sorry," Rodney says, more softly, but still slightly bitter. He drops his gaze, unable to face John.
But John squeezes his arm and turns him gently, until Rodney looks up at him. John's eyes are searching his, Rodney doesn't know for what. Then John's gaze dips down to Rodney's mouth, and he leans in. Rodney watches him come closer, then pulls out of John's reach.
John looks surprised, then confused, then pulls away as well. "I'm sorry. I thought..."
"I..." Rodney stammers. He's still not sure what is happening here. He feels completely out of his depth and he hates that feeling. He's terrible at this. He doesn't know how to do the right thing, so he simply blurts out the truth. "I love you." At least that should clear up any and all confusion.
John's and his own.
John stares at him. For a long, long time.
"So?" Rodney asks, because he figures that either way that deserves some kind of answer.
"I love you too!" John says, thought it's almost a shout. It's so loud that John looks slightly startled by himself.
Rodney feels amusement tugging on the corners of his mouth, but then he realizes what John just said. "You love me?" he asks.
"I do," John affirms.
Rodney thinks that he should be reacting in some kind of way, but somehow the words don't have any meaning, though he vaguely knows what they're supposed to mean. It just doesn't feel quite real yet. It's as if he needs some tangible proof on the matter.
He leans forward.
John raises an eyebrow. "Are you sure?"
Rodney nods and this time they both lean in. Their lips meet. It's a soft touch. A gentle first kiss. They slightly adjust the angle, open up their mouths, and deepen the kiss. Rodney begins to feel it in his body. He moves one hand into John's hair and the other around his body.
God, this is good.
John pulls him close, and the kiss becomes more passionate than sweet, more urgent than slow, more demanding than exploring. Kissing in a car is not the most comfortable thing ever, but kissing John is quite possibly the best thing in existence, and Rodney doesn't know how he could have lived without this for so long.
They keep kissing, mouths moving against each other, with each other, hands roaming, tongues carefully getting into play.
"John," Rodney has to pant. He wants...so much.
"I know," John answers, sounding just as breathless.
Rodney suddenly buries his face in John's neck and just pulls him close. He's overwhelmed for a moment. John is...everything to him. "I miss you so much," Rodney whispers into John's neck. It's true. He misses Teyla and Ronon too, and the others, but he thinks of John all the time.
"We talk every day," John says, and Rodney can feel his amused smile.
He pulls back to see it. "I can't do this through the phone," Rodney says, taking John's face in his hands and kissing him again.
John kisses back, nodding.
When they pull apart, Rodney looks at John's kiss-swollen lips. "I can't go back," he says. He's not sure if he means Area 51 or being without John. Or maybe they're the same thing.
"We'll figure something out," John says.
Rodney nods. "I really have to eat."
John checks his watch. "I should still have a reservation at a nice Italian place."
"Are you asking me out on a date?" Rodney asks.
"I guess I am," John says. He smiles almost shyly and cups Rodney's face. "Please say yes," he adds and kisses Rodney again.
Rodney kisses back. Of course, he'll say yes. What else could he answer? This is what he came for after all.
It only took him a couple of years to figure it out.