He was so late. Of all the times for his alarm call to fail this had to be the worst. Jennifer was going to kill him if he didn't make their lunch date for the third day in a row but he'd been up most of the night dealing with a problem with the auxiliary control console, not getting to bed until well after four that morning. In truth he could have done with a few more hours sleep after this past week of hell. Several systems had shown signs of damage following the desperate flight to Earth to stop the Wraith.
He thought he was just in time when he rushed through the mess hall doors and saw her still sitting there, but she started to rise as he approached, the remains of her lunch on the tray in her hand. Rodney pushed by a marine who was taking up far too much space standing around one of the other tables, ignoring the muted cry of outrage and called out to grab her attention.
Instead of being pleased to see him, she smiled tightly as he reeled off the events that had led to him being late yet again, expecting to see her eyes soften with understanding but instead, she shook her head.
"This isn't working, Rodney. I thought I was important to you but you keep putting your work before our relationship."
Rodney looked at her in shock. "My work is of ultra importance to the continued survival of...and, wait, didn't you cancel our last date because of surgery?"
"I'm the chief medical officer."
"It was a impacted wisdom tooth! Hardly life threatening! Any one of your surgeons could have handled it," Rodney exclaimed because he might not recall the names of all his staff but he sure could remember their recent medical histories, probably as a byproduct of being so concerned about his own health issues.
"I take my responsibilities very serious, Rodney."
"And I don't?"
"I asked Radek. No one would have died if you'd left that console until you had more time to spare."
"Oh, and if the Wraith attacked while I was waiting for that fictitious free time, and they took out the main control console, then we'd all die because we didn't have an auxiliary control console to keep the shields up."
Jennifer stared at him wide-eyed, with her cheeks flushed, and only then did he notice the deathly silence filling the mess hall with all eyes turned in their direction. With anger fueled by embarrassment, she glared at him and walked away, busing her tray and leaving the mess hall without a single backwards glance.
A warm touch on his shoulder had him looking round to find John standing beside him. "Oh god, I think I just broke up with Jennifer."
A grimace confirmed it, and Rodney didn't object when John nudged him out the door and into the nearest transporter, away from the stares following his very public argument and break up. It wasn't until he felt a cold beer pressed into his hand that he realized they were in John's quarters and he was sitting on John's ridiculously short bed. He felt John sit down beside him, shoulders and thighs touching; the jab of an elbow made him take the first swallow.
"You know, I'm actually relieved. I mean, I know I should be devastated but...but I'm not."
"Yeah, I know."
Rodney froze as the words sank in and he turned to face John, partly in horror, partly in irritation. "You know?"
"Okay, I suspected."
John shrugged a shoulder. "You always make time for me."
"I?" It felt like one of those comedy light bulbs flicking on in his head. "I--I do, don't I?"
He did. He always managed to make time for racing cars on the east pier, or a game of chess, or catching up on the latest episode of whatever science fiction series they were currently working through, even if it was terrible. He made time for lunch too, though admittedly, John usually swung by his laboratory to drag him away from whatever was holding his attention, or returned with a piled lunch tray if he really couldn't get away. That brought a fresh thought. How many times had John simply sat on a spare lab stool--and where did that spare come from anyway-- chewing on a sandwich and stealing coffee while Rodney carried on working? It had to be a fair number of times as no one ever remarked on his presence.
"Oh god! We've been dating for years!" He poked John hard in the shoulder. "Why didn't you tell me?" But instead of embarrassment, all Rodney saw on John's face was open-mouthed, dumb shock, and it wasn't a good look on him. Rodney rolled his eyes. "Of course...Mr. Never-sees-it-coming."
Hazel eyes narrowed. "Oh yeah...Mr. Oblivious?"
Rodney stabbed him with a finger again, slopping beer over his hand in the process. "Ha! So you admit it!"
"That we're dating. That we've been dating for over four..." Rodney stared at John, aghast. "You cheated on me with that hussy, Laurie."
"Larrin, and no, I didn't cheat on you because we're not dating."
"Oh we so are, and you so did."
John poked Rodney in the chest. "If that's the case then what about Katie Brown, and Carter? Don't deny you had a thing for her." He waggled a finger. "Fruit basket? Come to think of it, what about Keller?"
"That was... They were..." He slumped. "I like dating you. You're easy," he rotated a hand, oblivious to John's mouthing of the word easy. Rodney bristled. "Though there could have been a little more intimacy involved, perhaps some kissing," he added wistfully.
"That could be arranged," John stated softly, leaning in to press their lips together almost chastely. John drew back and his lips were now shiny; he licked them, making them even more shiny and inviting, and Rodney was not one to deny himself anything within reason.
When he pulled back from the slightly deeper kiss, Rodney felt lightheaded. "It's lucky I figure this out just in time."
"You figured it out? Just in time for what?" John's eyes seemed a little glazed and his words a little slurred even though they'd barely touched the beers.
"To stop you from losing me forever." He saw John's brow crease in confusion but decided they'd said enough for one day. Instead he leaned in for another kiss.
Tomorrow he'd delete the half-written resignation letter for there was no longer a reason to stay on Earth with Jennifer, not when everything he truly wanted and needed was right here on Atlantis, with John.