"Please, People! May I have your attention!" Woolsey's voice rang out across the city and everyone stopped and waited to hear what Woolsey had to say. "Atlantis is going home...to Pegasus, and..."
The rest of his words were lost in a roar of jubilation from the expedition members working in the laboratory with Rodney. Others, who had been brought on board to help with the repairs or to simply study the Ancient city had expressions ranging from confused to concerned to downright angry. Rodney could understand every emotion, aware that some of those scientists would be losing this unique opportunity to study the technology if they were not offered or if they had to refuse a place on the science team. The offers and reassignments would already be winging their way to various email accounts, triggered by Woolsey's announcement, and Rodney suspected that there would be more than a few disgruntled people stomping their way to his office later--and then to Colonel Carter's or even General Landry's. Some might even try to climb as high as O'Neill in Washington but Rodney had insisted right from the very start on being able to choose his own people.
Sometimes he had made mistakes but rarely had he been disappointed with the results even if he often implied the opposite.
Sadly, his biggest fear was not for the scientific contingent but for the military--and for its commanding officer in particular. He couldn't see the US military swallowing its pride and offering John another promotion, this time to full Colonel, but he knew of at least four full bird colonels who were jockeying for the chance of taking over as military commander of Atlantis. None of them came as too great a shock to him, except maybe Colonel Ellis. Rodney was sure the man hated his guts so why he'd want to work closely with Rodney here on Atlantis was bewildering. Unless he believed that he could put a big divide between the military and scientific elements of the expedition. In which case he'd soon learn that out there, they all had to rely upon each other to survive.
Sam had made a reasonably good leader of the expedition once she had stopped trying to do everything and let Rodney handle the science and John the military, and it seemed she was willing to take a demotion from that former position just to get back. He'd had a real crush on her once upon a time but the reality of seeing her every day on Atlantis had quickly burned away what lust remained. She was a friend now, and a colleague. Admittedly, a very intelligent colleague who had some good ideas every once in a while. Maybe not quite reaching Jeannie's level of genius but not falling far short.
Cameron Mitchell was an unknown quantity, and Rodney wasn't all that keen on working with someone who had threatened him with asphyxiation from anaphylactic shock by waving a lemon at him. It didn't matter that he got the idea--and the lemon--from John. Rodney trusted John not to actually follow through with the threat whereas, for all he knew, Mitchell might think his lemon allergy was just a big joke. Still, Mitchell was a little like John so if the US military, in its stupidity, did assign a new military commander then Mitchell would gain his vote if only because he was a friend of Daniel's.
The other contender was Caldwell, and though they had come to a begrudging respect for each other over the years, Caldwell was only marginally better than Ellis in understanding how a civilian expedition should be run.
The best choice would always be John but this time there was no Elizabeth Weir to bend the ear of the President of the United States, although Rodney had done his best to stir up a few USAF generals and IOA committee members. And he would keep at it until one of them sat up and paid attention to him.
An hour later, Rodney looked up from the meal he was wolfing down as fast as possible--because he had a lot to do and time was running out--only to see Carson slide into the seat opposite and grin at him.
"Hmm! Guess you'd be happy to get back to Pegasus," he stated as he shoveled in another mouthful, glad that Jennifer wasn't around to berate his eating habits again--it's not like he didn't use a knife and fork like Ronon--or his seeming callousness in mentioning that Carson had nothing left on Earth to stay for. Carson's family considered him dead and they had the charred remains of his original body buried in the family plot to prove it.
"Aye! And they've offered me back the post of Chief Medical Officer--and I've accepted."
Rodney swallowed the mouthful and put down his fork, looking to Carson. "What about Jennifer?"
Carson's eyes went round with shock and dismay. "Did she not tell you her decision to stay on Earth?"
Rodney looked down at his almost cleared plate, appetite gone. Of course, he'd been dumped again. Why not? It wasn't as if they'd been spending a lot of time together since they got back to Earth. One hug on the balcony overlooking San Francisco Bay and then she'd been packing her bags to visit her family--alone. He was supposed to have asked for leave to join her but he'd had too much to oversee--all the new scientists and dignitaries vying for a chance to walk on Atlantis, with most of them unable to keep their grubby fingers off the technology. He had almost preferred the wraith because at least they were proficient at sucking the life out of their victims quickly rather than slowly on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis. She'd contacted him last week and he should have known it was an ultimatum but he'd never been good at recognizing social cues. In truth, he'd barely thought about her over this past month, too concerned with losing John to reassignment back onto some SG team in this galaxy, and then there was convincing Radek not to accept the offer of a professorship at Charles University in the Czech Republic--a prestigious position.
Rodney had already declined several offers, including MIT, because nothing compared to what he could see and learn on Atlantis. Fortunately, Radek had felt the same so he was spared having to find someone new to break in as his deputy--and friend. Thinking of Radek and Jennifer at the same moment, he realized that maybe Radek was right when he told Rodney that Jennifer was not the one for him because she could not accept him for the way he was and expected him to change for her.
That had hurt at the time, especially as he had changed after five years on Atlantis. Even Sam had commented on it, and Daniel. It just wasn't enough for Jennifer, and he wondered if anything beyond having another alien amoeba in his brain would be enough for her. She'd liked him well enough when he was slowly losing his mind.
He blinked rapidly and looked straight into Carson's concerned eyes, realizing that he had allowed his attention to wander.
"Rodney, I'm really, really sorry. I thought she must have told you. I never meant to be the bearer of bad news."
Rodney shook his head and gave a tight smile and picked up his fork. "No. It's fine, Carson."
Carson leaned across and patted his hand. Perhaps it was for the best. He wasn't really cut out to be the boyfriend type anyway. He'd hated her choice of movies; she'd never even heard of Adam West; flowers made him sneeze, and she always picked out all his favorite chocolates for herself, leaving him with the sickly cream-centered ones.
Five hours later, as he sat down wearily in the cafeteria for supper with a laden tray, Rodney smiled as John sank down opposite. He kept scratching at his name tag, and it was annoying.
"So, how's it going, Rodney?" he drawled out Rodney's name, raising his eyebrows comically.
"We ready to fly out of here?"
Rodney blinked as he parsed the sentence. "We?"
John scratched at his tag again, and this time Rodney paid attention and realized that the wording had changed from LT COL to just COL. Rodney knew he was gaping in shock. "They promoted you?"
"You don't have to look so surprised. I did just save the planet from the wraith...again." He preened for a moment and then sobered. "I heard about Keller. Sorry."
The words seemed sincere enough but John's eyes shifted as he gave his condolences, reminding Rodney of the way he would placate the Pegasus natives with a charming yet insincere smile. In that moment Rodney knew that John wasn't really that sorry at all, and if he had to be honest, John almost looked happy. At first he thought John was just insanely jealous of Rodney finding someone smart and beautiful, or maybe he had wanted Jennifer for himself but Rodney wasn't sure if John even liked Jennifer. Certainly he always changed the subject when her name was mentioned and he found excuses to leave when Jennifer joined them in the cafeteria. One time he could swear John had made up a call on his radio as an excuse for dumping a nearly full dinner tray but he'd never called him on it.
He wanted to call him on it now.
"What? She was too good for me? Is that it?"
"No! No. She was...nice."
Rodney frowned at the shifty look that John couldn't seem to hide from him, and then it fell into place. It wasn't just Jennifer, it was all of them. All of the women--and men--who had paid attention to Rodney over the years since they first met. From the occasional off-world chick to the simpering, hero-worshiping lab tech. It would explain why John had taken so long to warm to Miko, and only became friendly with Katie after the quarantine incident when they broke up. What was the betting that he'd be on first name turns with Jennifer now the boyfriend-girlfriend thing was off? And none of it was to gain the person who'd been with Rodney. If anything, John had made it his duty to spend every possible minute with Rodney following each break-up, lavishing him with attention.
"Oh my god."
"What?" John seemed vexed now.
Rodney smiled because John always broke out the good beer when he drank with Rodney--if there was any to be had, of course. And he always saved Rodney's favorite chocolate bars for him. He preferred non-flowering plants in his room and...
"Who's Adam West?"
John looked at him bug-eyed, as if Rodney had gone insane. "The one and only Batman...though Christian Bale came close on the serious side." He eyed Rodney strangely. "I managed to snag a crate of Moosehead. East pier?"
Rodney felt his lips curving up into a smile. No wonder John was always so pissed at him whenever he had a girlfriend. He'd been dating John for years and hadn't even noticed. In fact tonight would be the start of a new year; this the anniversary of the day they first met in the chair room in the Antarctic Outpost. Since then they had shared practically everything except each other, and that was about to change because Rodney had no hang-ups on gender. It was the person that counted, and John now had his full attention.
"No. How about my quarters... in fifteen minutes? Jeannie sent me The Sixth Sense."
"Sure! I'll bring the beer. You might finally get to see the last half of the movie."
A couple of Moosehead and half a movie later, Rodney leaned over and kissed John. He never did get to see the ending that night but with John lying quiet and naked and happily sated in his arms, Rodney considered that a very small price to pay.