Rodney's sitting on the porch when John comes home that evening. It's spring, but just the early kind, frosted 'round the edges with mornings too pale for comfort, and it's not exactly warm even now, five-after-five with the sun turning gold. But Rodney's learned to adapt, to embrace the outdoors after a winter of snow drifts and hail storms and ice up his nose. His coat may be zipped to the chin and his hands buried deep inside gloves, but he's outside, dammit, toes wriggling inside his boots, the sunlight playing games with his laces while Finn wrestles with Burp off in the pasture, his shouts and laughter a spring-song to match the birds'.
"Hey," John offers as he gets out of his truck. He ducks his head back inside the cab, roots around and tucks an insulated coffee cup under his arm.
"Hey, back," Rodney replies, scribbling in the margins of Physics Today before he forgets his perfect insult of Mannieri's hair-brained ideas. "Good day?"
"All right," John says, but his voice says more – that he's satisfied; happy. Rodney looks up, pleased; sees John wave a hand toward Finn; frowns when he spots the ragged piece of fabric tied around one palm.
"What did you – "
"Oh," John says easily, rounding the truck, walking with the easy grace that frustrates Rodney's knees to their core. "Just – had an accident."
Rodney means to say a lot of things in response to that – most of them sharp and panicked and insulting – but all he manages is to squawk as he shuts his journal with a snap.
John raises his eyebrow. "What was that?"
"That was . . . that was! Oh my god, John Sheppard, you will be the – come here! Let me see!"
John ducks his head and climbs the porch steps. "I just caught a nail, it's nothing – "
"Caught a nail," Rodney says icily. "With your hand."
"Geez, Rodney," John murmurs, but he looks abashed as he sets his mug on the windowsill and holds out his inexpertly bandaged palm. "It's not like I signed up for the STD of the month club."
Rodney heaves himself out of his chair (easier said than done in a winter coat) and pulls off his gloves, drops them on the floor and starts to pull at the knot in John's bloodied handkerchief. "Just the lockjaw of the day society," he mutters, easing the fabric away from John's palm. He winces. "That is gross."
John grins at him. "Thanks."
Rodney smacks him on the arm. "Not a compliment!"
"But I was just – I mean, if you could've seen it!" John says, suddenly enthused. "I had the beam back up and – what?"
Rodney's turned him around and is pushing him toward the kitchen door. "I suspect you cleaned that up with spit, is what. Maybe rubbed a little snot right into the wound before you sealed it all in. I should thank the universe for small mercies – at least it's not a tack cloth, or that rag you use for cleaning the oil stick, or the hem of someone's petticoat." He propels John through the door and over to the sink, before turning on the faucet. "Rinse!"
John hisses when the warm water hits. "Ow."
"Shut up," Rodney says tightly, heading to the pantry and rummaging for first aid supplies. "Ow? I'll give you ow, cutting your hand open on a rusty nail – "
"Wasn't rusty," John protests.
"— widowing me and leaving our child an orphan," Rodney finishes. He crosses the kitchen and dumps hydrogen peroxide, cotton buds, band-aids, bandages, Tylenol, and an elastic ankle brace on the draining board before looking back up at John. "What?"
John's wearing the strangest expression – like he wants to laugh but can't quite manage it; like he's confronting Johnny Cash right in his kitchen; like Rodney's bread pudding or an ice-cold beer or maybe a movie about baseball watched too many times. "You," John says.
"Me, what?" Rodney asks a touch impatiently. Really, he ought to be sainted, living with a Sheppard. He's pretty sure John's mother was some kind of cherubim not to have strangled him five minutes after birth.
"Just you," John says, and he leans in and plants a kiss on Rodney's lips, a lush, sweet, slick kiss that makes Rodney a little light-headed, makes him sway as John pulls back.
He blushes, feeling terribly exposed. "Oh. I." He swallows. "Huh."
John grins at him. "Think it's clean now?"
"Um. Probably?" He tilts John's hand toward him, holding it gently, probing the edges of the cut with careful fingers. "Yes, I think so. I can . . . "
But John turns off the water, slides over and presses Rodney back against the draining board, kisses him some more, his uninjured hand sliding into Rodney's hair. Rodney makes a small, strangled noise – he's not exactly used to making out while one of them's bleeding, but John doesn't seem to mind, and they've finally worked out how to use bleach, so their clothes are safe. "God," John murmurs at last, sliding kiss-swollen lips along Rodney's jaw. "You're so . . . when you . . ."
And Rodney – through leaps of logic and a gut-punch of understanding – gets it; that it still surprises John to have someone in his life who gets panicked about nails and diseases of the blood; to fall asleep beside a man who finds it soothing to tangle up their fingers when they're in bed. "I love you," Rodney says incredulously. "God. You're such a dumbass."
John's ears turn pink, and he rubs the tip of Rodney's nose with his own, holds out his hand. "Think it needs some ointment?" he asks. And Rodney has to kiss him again.