A long time later, Jennifer will realize that, looking back, it all started much earlier than during the vacation. But at the time it seems like the vacation – or at least, the planning of it – that marks the beginning of something she didn't even know she wanted until it happened.
It's an IOA-enforced vacation, of course; only the threat of permanently stationing him somewhere else could get most of the senior staff, but most of all John out of the city to take some down-time. Rodney is just as bad, really, though he somehow seems to believe it isn't so, which Jennifer finds highly amusing. It's very funny, watching Rodney nag John about his unwillingness to take time off when he himself is just as unwilling to actually leave the city. Especially because John seems to be thinking along the same lines as Jennifer, if the looks he keeps throwing an oblivious Rodney every time Rodney starts in on him are anything to go by.
Anyways, the vacation. All of the senior staff are almost literally being forced off the city for two weeks, and John has basically been in denial about the whole thing since the first time they were informed of it two months ago. Now, said vacation is nearly upon them, and Teyla made the mistake of asking John during dinner what he was planning to do in his time off.
John had ducked his head and mumbled something indecipherable – Jennifer is almost sure she heard the word "surfing" somewhere in there, but of course, Rodney understood "death wish" and "adrenaline junkie" and "break every bone in my fucking body, including the tiny ones in my wrists". It's a slight over-reaction that might also be due to the fact that John is still recovering from three arrow-wounds in his thigh and back that at the time had been cause for great concern, even if they're on their way to healed by now. Jennifer can't say she approves of the surfing idea either, and actually she had been about to veto on it on medical grounds, but Rodney beat her to it with a rant about the stupidity of certain Air Force Colonels. At any other time, it would be amusing, but John isn't rolling with it this time. Instead of turning his eyes heavenwards and drawling his "really"'s out until they have about ten syllables more, he pokes his fork into his mashed vegetable, face carefully blank, and it sort of hurts to look at him.
That's probably why Jennifer's mouth says, "He could just come with us," before her brain can catch up with her.
It's successful in one thing, at least; Rodney shuts up. His mouth is still open, though, so it doesn't take him long to recover enough to repeat, "With us?" John has looked up as well, pretty much staring at her, and Jennifer is fairly sure Teyla is looking at her in approval.
It's that look from Teyla that clues Jennifer in on the fact that John's most recent issue must go a little deeper – though that's probably not a good way to put it, because all of John's issues are deep. So deep that she doesn't know any of them apart from the obvious, and she's pretty perceptible.
"We're going to visit my father," she tells John, as if John hadn't known that already; she's fairly sure that Rodney keeps John on a live update on everything that is going on in their relationship. She actually knows for a fact that it's due to John that Rodney didn't forget their six months anniversary, though neither John nor Rodney know that she knows. It's sort of cute how they think they're being totally inconspicuous.
"In Nantucket," John says and glances at Rodney, who looks torn between liking the idea of taking John with them and disappointment because he thought it was a meet-the-parents kind of visit. Which it was, but that doesn't mean they can't bring a friend, especially not if it's a friend like John. Sometimes it almost feels like John is lying in bed with them, he's such a presence in their relationship; it's a good thing Jennifer figured out the co-dependency thing he and Rodney have going pretty early on, so she had the chance of taking it into consideration before entering a relationship with Rodney. Neither Rodney nor John appear to have clued in on that yet, though, and while usually it's amusing, it suddenly dawns on Jennifer that maybe there are some deeper-lying issues there. She doesn't know what happened to John and Rodney's relationship during Rodney's relationship with Katie, but maybe she should try to find out.
"Yes," she answers John's not-question. "We're renting a cottage there, there's more than enough room. Don't worry, I won't make you come spend time with my dad if you don't want to." Unlike Rodney, whom she definitely and unscrupulously will make.
"Uh." John sends another quick look to Rodney, who is finally recovering from his shock and wearing a thoughtful face. "Don't you want to, you know, spend some time alone?"
Rodney quickly shakes his head before she can and says, "No no no, it's a great idea. There's no surfing and no bungee jumping anywhere near."
"Also," Jennifer adds, sending a look towards Rodney, "We would enjoy your company."
Rodney at least has the grace to look chastised, even if there is also a fair amount of impatience in his face. And then he says, "Yes, yes, of course we would," as if that's a given, so Jennifer forgives him for sounding like John is a suicidal adrenaline junkie that needs to be constantly supervised lest he throw himself off the next cliff.
John ducks his head, quickly glancing at first Jennifer and then Rodney through his eyelashes in a way that makes him look very coy. He doesn't mean it at all, though; it took Jennifer all of two hours upon making his acquaintance to realize that John definitely isn't flirting with intent, and that actually most of his flirting is accidental. "Alright," John then says, and Jennifer sends him a beaming smile. "Great! We'll let the SGC know so they'll book you another ticket on the plane."
The rest of dinner is spent telling Teyla and Kanaan about Nantucket, but Jennifer takes note of the fact that John seems a lot looser in the shoulders than he had been before. Previously, she had attributed it to left-over pain from his healing wounds, but it's clear now that it was something else entirely.
She mulls that over for the next couple of days. Her first instinct is to attribute it to jealousy, or at least to feeling left out; after all, every member of his team except John himself is in a relationship now, he's bound to feel like the odd man out occasionally. But she is very sure that Rodney still spends a lot of time with John, as do Teyla and Ronon; they might or might have not talked about not neglecting John, though Jennifer has been sworn to absolute secrecy, because John would be very furious and very hurt if he ever found out.
Her second idea is that it might be her; maybe he doesn't like her, and while she wants to believe she would have noticed if that were the case, she can't be absolutely sure, because John is incredibly good at pretending when he actually makes an effort. But she doesn't think he would have agreed to come with them to Nantucket if he really didn't like her; that would just be an exercise in masochism, and of the kind even John isn't prone to, she doesn't think.
Her third thought is that maybe John is in love with Rodney – it would explain a lot, among others John's lack of serious relationships in the last five plus years despite a high number of potential partners. But again, if that were the case, he probably wouldn't join them on their vacation, Jennifer is fairly sure.
Unfortunately, after that she is completely out of ideas. She's half tempted to go and speak to Teyla about it, but Teyla might not even know, and even if she does, Jennifer would rather like to solve this issue on her own. Not out of pride, but because she's planning on sticking with Rodney for a while to come. It's one of the reasons she has made the effort to get to know all of his friends, and she would like to think she is friends with some of them herself now – John among them.
Which is why she eventually makes the decision to go talk to John about it. Something is clearly going on, and the fact that John acts like it isn't only makes her more sure of it, and she apparently isn't going to figure it out on her own. Talking to John about feelings will be like pulling teeth from a mad tiger without narcotics, but she has learned to handle him at least a little, because he's one of her most regular patients, apart from being her boyfriend's other half.
John looks fairly surprised when he opens the door for her; his hair is wet and sticking up in places, and his t-shirt and sweatpants have wet patches on them like he put them on hastily before he was properly dry.
"Sorry, is this a bad time?"
"Er, no," John says, eyes flicking past her as if he expects her to not be alone, which, fair enough. She has been in John's quarters exactly five times, and each time she was accompanying Rodney – and two of those times had been sort-of-team movie nights (different from the actual team movie nights because they allowed outside parties where the actual team movie nights didn't).
"Okay, good." She sort of pushes past him, except he makes room for her at the last moment, and sits on one end of the couch, waiting until he has taken a seat at the other end. It takes him a bit longer than it should, he clearly didn't expect her to just barge in like that. She knows she's being impolite, but she's on a mission, and besides, he must definitely be used to it because if Rodney and "polite" ever came upon each other, there would be bloodshed.
"So, I wanted to talk to you about something." Of course, those words make John tense up like she just announced that she's going to tie him up and dress him in pink clothes and pulled a gun on him to ensure his cooperation.
"What is it?", John asks, voice inflectionless. He's staring at the wall behind her, face devoid of expression. Like maybe he expects her to tell him he isn't coming with them after all, which, no.
Jennifer sucks her lower lip into her mouth and hesitates. For two days, she had thought about how to formulate her question, but it hasn't gotten her anywhere, so she ends up starting clumsily by asking, "Are you alright?"
It at least makes John meet her eyes with genuine confusion, so before he can tell her he's "fine" (as his doctor, she has learned very quickly that whenever he uses that word, he's anything but), she hastens to add, "It's just, you seemed a bit... unhappy recently." He's still staring at her, so she huffs and leans back into the corner. "I mean, I'm probably not the first person you would want to talk to about it, probably not even the fifth, but... I don't know. Look, do you like me?"
John seems utterly confused now, actually vaguely freaked when he says, "Yes?" like he doesn't know if it's the right answer. The poor guy, she's messing this up completely.
"Because I know I'm sort of taking Rodney away from you-" and whoa, John's face goes shuttered so quickly she nearly gets whiplash.
"I don't know what you're talking about," John says, but his voice sounds like he definitely does and really, really, really doesn't want to talk about it. Like he would rather have another three arrows stuck in him than talk about it.
"Look." Jennifer leans in a little. "I know you and Rodney... you're more than best friends. I know there's something else between you, and I would never want to get between that. But Rodney seemed genuinely confused when I asked if there was anything sexual going on with you two-" John interrupts her with a bitter laugh that seems accidental, and then he curses and covers his eyes with his hands. Jennifer gets a very, very bad feeling, and she thinks she maybe should have let it rest, should never have brought it up, because if it is sexual... she is well aware that, if Rodney had to choose between her and John, he would pick John. That's not to say it would be an easy decision for him, but he and John go a lot farther back than Rodney and her, and their relationship is a lot deeper, with countless turns of saving each other's lives and living in each other's pockets, not to mention that first year that the expedition spent cut off from Earth. She'll never be able to touch that, and she's long contented with that fact, but that doesn't mean that John is as content with the idea of Rodney being in a sexual relationship with somebody else. But if he weren't, that problem surely would have cropped up way earlier than now? Rest assured, Jennifer would never ask him to pick either her or John, and not just because she knew she'd lose.
"No," John bites out then. "There's nothing... sexual."
She carefully takes in his expression. "But not because you don't want to."
"No!" John takes his hands away from his face to look at her with eyes wide, mouth pinched. "I don't. I really, really don't."
"Okay," Jennifer says. She can't help but believe his expression, so she doesn't know why she says what she says next. "But if there were... it would be okay with me." She's always been awkward during deep discussions, but this takes the cake, really.
John seems pretty incredulous as well. "You mean you want me to want to have sex with Rodney?"
"No! I'm just saying that... look, I know how Rodney feels about me, and how he feels about you, and I'm content with the way things are going so far, but... something has been bothering you, and I want you to be happy."
Now he looks at her like she told him she's pregnant and it's his, which, fair enough, is probably justified. They're friends, yes, but getting to know John is about as easy as getting a clam to open up, and they're not good enough friends at this point to warrant such a deep discussion. She might have gotten carried away a little by the fact that he and Rodney are so very involved with each other, she sometimes feels like she's involved with John as well just because she's in a relationship with Rodney.
"Okay." Her face is probably beet red at this point. "It's just... it's about that vacation." And yes, there John goes again, face closing up like he still expects her to tell him he can't come after all. "If Rodney weren't coming with me, he guaranteed would have gone with you; you probably spent all your vacations so far together, haven't you?"
"Most of them," John says, mouth pinched.
Jennifer nods, then takes a breath and gets to the thing that made her think something was seriously not alright with John. "And the other day, during dinner, when he... well, when he said that you need someone to come with you and supervise you constantly, you winced. And there was this expression on your face, like maybe you... I don't know. And if it weren't for me, Rodney would be going with you."
John's mouth twists. "So, you, what? Invited me along out of pity?"
And Jennifer can't believe how he can jump to the totally wrong conclusions so quickly; it's like his secret super power or something. "No! I meant it when I said we – I – would like for you to come along. I enjoy your company, and we both know that Rodney will be a lot happier with you there as well."
"Then I don't understand what you're trying to say," John says, clearly frustrated. He runs a hand through his hair, messing it up even further.
"I don't really know anymore either," she replies helplessly; she totally botched this up. "I guess I'm just, you know. Worried about you."
Naturally, John says, "I'm fine," and then there's really not much else to say. She leaves pretty soon afterwards.
The conversation stays with her, though, because she's still no clearer on what she should have said; she just knows that somewhere along the way, she took a wrong turn. Maybe it was the thing she said about it being okay with her if John and Rodney had sex, that was probably a bit weird. She's just grateful John doesn't say anything to Rodney about it, because Rodney would take it the totally wrong way; it doesn't mean fidelity isn't important to her, or that she doesn't love Rodney. It's just different if it's John, because he and Rodney have this whole brothers in arms thing going, on top of a bunch of other things; they act like an old married couple a lot of the time. At the beginning, Jennifer really hadn't been sure what to make out of it, but she turned it around in her head for a while until she decided that, whatever it was, she was fine with it. Clearly, if she started a relationship with Rodney she would also have to take John into account, and she had, and it was okay. She doesn't need to be Rodney's Number One in everything; she is perfectly fine being his girlfriend and friend without also being his best friend. And she knows she is important to Rodney, so even if John and Rodney started to have sex, that wouldn't negate her position in Rodney's life. Their relationship isn't based solely on sex, after all.
Probably, though, if she would have to try to explain this to anybody, it would come out wrong, and Rodney has issues trusting people anyway – or rather, trusting his importance to them. So Jennifer is fairly glad that John doesn't say anything to Rodney, and after a couple of days he even stops giving her weird looks, so she decides to let it rest until she has something more tangible.
The issue moves into the background over the chaos that swaps over them when it's just two weeks to their vacation; suddenly there's a ton of stuff to do to ensure things will run smoothly in their absence. Sure, each of their second in commands are competent and capable (no matter what Rodney may say), and Atlantis' chain of command is by necessity as well as bitter experience built in such a way that nobody is truly irreplaceable (no matter what Rodney may say), but that doesn't mean they can just flounce off. At least not if they don't want to return to an administrative chaos. So there are barely enough hours in the day for her to relay the details of their leaving – when their flight will leave, when they will arrive etc – to John and Rodney, not to mention any other kind of conversation.
Suffice to say, by the time their vacation rolls around, they all more than need it. So naturally, as soon as they step through the gate, the first thing they have to do is debrief for several hours, as if they didn't send weekly reports back to Earth already. Rodney mutters cynically about how that is the real reason the IOA wanted them back; either that, or they're planning to take over the city in their absence. The latter of which is one of his favorite complains about the vacation; probably because it's completely ludicrous. The IOA couldn't wait to get the city off the planet as soon as possible, and everybody on all sides had been pretty relieved when she had settled back safely on an ocean in a galaxy far, far away from Earth. Jennifer is fairly sure Woolsey, Rodney and his scientists had something to do with that, but she'd really rather not know, thank you very much.
In the end, their debriefing only lasts about five hours, which must be a new record, and then they're all being chauffeured to the airport, where Woolsey says his goodbyes and boards his plane. Jennifer, John and Rodney have to wait another two hours for their plane, but it's a good thing, really, because seriously. Burgers.
Once on the plane, they all settle back for a nap, and Jennifer spends the rest of the trip in a vague doze, letting Rodney lead her around with a firm grip on her elbow when they have a layover, slumping into him to drift off to sleep while they wait to board their other plane. She barely wakes up to board the second plane, but as soon as she's in her seat – between Rodney and John, because John needs to sit by the window and Rodney needs to sit by the aisle to properly harass flight attendants – she falls asleep again.
When she wakes up, it's either very, very early or very, very late, depending on how you look at it, and her face is buried in John's neck.
At first she thinks it's Rodney, even though the shoulder feels sort of bony, and it doesn't really smell like Rodney usually smells, but they've been traveling for over twenty hours, from a different galaxy and through two airports. She wants to meet the person who goes through all that and comes out smelling like roses. And punch them.
But then she hears Rodney's voice on her other side, muttering to himself, and when she blinks her eyes open she finds that it's really not her boyfriend she fell asleep on. It's slightly embarrassing, but not much; at least she didn't drool, and when she pushes herself upright, she finds that John is asleep too. Anyways, if he had minded, he could have woken her or pushed her off or something. She's absolutely sure he would have, because John's personal space is like, sacred. He would certainly not have suffered in silence if he had been uncomfortable with her all in his personal bubble, much less fallen asleep.
Satisfied with that line of reasoning, Jennifer stretches until her back pops, and then she yawns until her jaw cracks, and then she slumps in her seat and heaves a heavy sigh. Rodney throws her a curious look; he has his laptop open and is looking through what looks like an online astrophysics journal. He doesn't like reading online journals usually because it's hard to use a red pen to write derisive comments in the margins on the Internet, but apparently he can make do if need be. "Sleep well?", he asks, but there's nothing pointed about the question, so she knows he doesn't mind her little cuddle session with his bony best friend.
She makes a noise somewhere between "yes" and "no" and then asks, voice hoarse, "Coffee?"
Rodney snorts and flaps his hand into the direction of the flight attendants; he has apparently trained them well, because one of them comes over pretty quickly, a long-suffering expression on her face. "Two coffees," Rodney orders, then amends, "Make that three," with a glance over Jennifer's shoulder.
Jennifer turns to find John blinking, wearing an adorable confused face, like he doesn't know why he's awake, and how did that happen. "Morning," Jennifer says, and John blinks again, eyes sliding to her face. For a moment he looks like he doesn't know who she is, or what it is she's doing with her mouth, before he seems to recognize it's speech. He mumbles something in reply, then seems startled at the noise.
"First five minutes in the morning, you can forget him," Rodney says on her other side. "Well, except if we're in a war zone, or if he's armed."
Jennifer is pretty sure John is armed right now, though they didn't go through any security processes, so she can't be sure. It's not like it matters, though, except in how she now knows that John is utterly adorable when he wakes up. As long as he's not in a war zone.
The flight attendant comes back with their coffees, and for the next couple of minutes they're all quiet, doctoring their cups – well, Rodney doctors John's for him, and then Jennifer pulls John's table down for him and puts the coffee on it when John doesn't make any move to take it. After she has imbibed some caffeine, Jennifer feels a little more human again. John finally starts to move like he recognizes his limbs again too, though after he has gotten some necessary information from Rodney – what time it is, how long until they touch down, what happened to his peanuts – he turns quiet, staring out of the window. He had been doing that for most of their flights, though, so Jennifer doesn't worry. Must be a pilot thing.
About an hour later, the plane lands, and another hour later, after they have gotten all their luggage and made it through customs (Jennifer still isn't used to the special passes that allow them to go through without a security check, how is that even possible?), John and Rodney are in the middle of an argument about who gets to drive their rental. They're so involved in the rhythm of it – Jennifer is sure this isn't the first time they've had this argument – that they don't notice that she is the one with the keys until she's sitting behind the wheel and looking at them through the window. "Are you getting in or what?", she asks, slightly impatient.
Rodney huffs and he and John share a look before they promptly start arguing about who gets to ride shotgun. Rodney wins by virtue of the fact that he claims he gets sick if he doesn't look through the windshield, a claim which John meets with skepticism. He nevertheless lets Rodney win, and Jennifer doesn't know how he expects to ever be allowed to ride shotgun ever again with that kind of positive reinforcement. Then again, John has over four years of experience of handling Rodney on her, so he might know a trick she isn't privy to yet.
It takes them about three quarters of an hour to get to the cottage they have rented; Jennifer knows for a fact that her father pulled some strings to make sure it was available to them on such short notice, but she can't bring herself to feel even a little guilty about it. They regularly save the galaxy, and on occasion even the one this cottage is in, so they surely deserve some special treatment in their downtime.
The cottage has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a spacious living room and a kitchen, both of which equipped with top of the line tech. Jennifer had been here before – as a teenager, she used to clean for the owner to earn a bit of money – so she doesn't need to look around. "Just pick any room you want, John, we'll take whichever rooms are left," she thus orders and lets Rodney be a gentleman and carry her bag. Not that he doesn't do it without whining.
John throws her a weird look, then glances at Rodney and sighs before taking his laptop bag off him. "Aren't you sharing a room?", he asks, then immediately grimaces like he regrets it. If Jennifer didn't already know that on sleep-deprivation, John's tongue seems to be a bit loose, she'd be puzzled.
"Are you kidding?", Rodney grumbles. "We'd kill each other."
Jennifer raises an eyebrow. "We sleep together, but if we had to spend all our time in each other's space, there'd be bloodshed."
John's face immediately takes on the expression that means he's in deep thought; Jennifer shrugs and unlocks the door, stepping aside to let Rodney and John walk in. While the two of them go exploring, whistling over the brand new gaming system, she goes to check on the contents of the fridge, and yes, it looks like her dad went shopping for them. There's a note from him on the counter, welcoming her back and apologizing for his not being able to pick them up at the airport, like it's his fault he couldn't get out of work for her.
When she goes upstairs to check on the men, they have decided on whom gets which room; John will take the big master bedroom and bathroom, and Jennifer and Rodney will each get the other two rooms and share the second bathroom between them. It's perfectly fine with her, as long as she gets to take one or two baths in the master bathroom. John seems a bit embarrassed at that and offers to switch, and he really has to relax. If anything, they're her guests, not the other way around.
"So, breakfast or nap?", she asks once she has assured John that she's perfectly happy with her room.
Rodney says "Nap" at the same time as John picks breakfast. They then share an awkward glance.
"Okay, honey, you go sleep, we'll make breakfast," Jennifer decides. She's really looking forward to when they both will relax; she doesn't know what it is that has them both nervous, but she hopes they'll settle down soon. All this awkward shifting and sharing embarrassed glances is annoying.
Before they can get the food out of the way, though, Jennifer really needs a shower; she doesn't know why, but somehow traveling always makes her feel dirty and sticky. John seems on board with the "shower first, then food" plan; Rodney doesn't care either way, because he plans to go straight to bed.
Jennifer hurries through her shower, because she suspects John showers in like, three minutes, and she doesn't want to leave all the breakfast making just to him. When she steps out of her room, though, clean and in fresh clothes with a towel wrapped around her head, she finds John waiting for her, looking a lot dryer than the last time she saw him fresh out of the shower.
"So, what would you like?", she asks him on the way to the kitchen. "Eggs and bacon, pancakes, waffles? All three?"
"Eggs and bacon is fine with me," he says.
"Okay. We could make some nice scrambled eggs, there's cheese and peppers and onions and tomatoes. What do you think Rodney will want?"
He seems startled at the question, looking up from where he's been perusing the fridge. After a moment he catches himself, though, and offers, "Pancakes, probably, if there's real maple syrup."
"He's only Canadian if it gives him opportunity to complain," she observes with amusement while she takes the ingredients John hands her.
"The irony," John agrees with an amused snort. The next couple of minutes they spend in silence, getting out ingredients and negotiating space and kitchenware. Jennifer ends up making the pancakes while John makes the scrambled eggs; they put most of the pancakes aside for Rodney to have later.
This is what she likes about John, Jennifer muses while they eat; the way he never feels the need to fill the silence. If Rodney's awake, he's generally also talking, and while she likes listening to him, sometimes it gets a little too much. John knows the art of silence, though, and it's never awkward, like maybe they aren't talking to each other because there is nothing to say, nothing they have in common. Mostly because neither of those is true, probably; Jennifer is as much of a geek as John and Rodney are, and the three of them have spent a lot of time in Rodney's quarters watching scifi TV shows or discussing the accompanying novels.
"So, when are you going to meet your father?", John asks eventually, trying to spear a cherry tomato with his fork and failing.
"This evening," Jennifer replies, hiding her amusement at his frustrated expression in her coffee cup. "He has a gallery opening today, that's why he couldn't pick us up at the airport. He's a curator at the Nantucket art gallery," she adds, because she's not sure Rodney considered that important enough information to pass on. "You want to come with us?"
His eyes glide to the side and he shrugs uncomfortably. "I don't want to intrude."
"Yeah, and how about you stop thinking you would," she replies dryly. "If you were, I wouldn't have asked you to come. This will hardly be a proper meet-the-parents thing, my dad will be pretty busy. Look." She puts her fork down and concentrates fully on John, who stills and somehow gives the impression of a deer caught in the headlights without looking like it at all. "I don't know where this is coming from all of a sudden. You have never worried about intruding, and I'm not saying you should, seriously! You're Rodney's best friend and the most important person in his life, and I'm sort of fond of you too. I wouldn't have invited you to come along if I didn't enjoy your company, so knock this nonsense about intruding out of your head."
John is silent for a moment before he nods. He opens his mouth to say something-
And Rodney barges into the kitchen, looking cranky, hair standing up on ends like he had a fight with a pillow. "Couldn't sleep," he grumbles, making a beeline for the coffee machine and proceeding to pour himself a cup while complaining under his breath about how he used to be able to fall asleep whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted. Jennifer glances towards John and finds him glancing at her already; the corners of his mouth twitch and she has to stifle a laugh. They both manage not to rib Rodney about his age, though, which is the important part.
Rodney's mood improves only marginally after he had some coffee and pancakes; Jennifer was originally planning on showing the two of them around, but they're all knackered and so instead they settle in the living room, Jennifer and John with a book, Rodney with his laptop. After about an hour of reading in silence, Jennifer feels a foot nudge hers. She looks up to find John looking at her intently, pressing one finger to his lips; he then tilts his head towards Rodney, who has drifted off in his armchair, laptop dangerously askew on his knees.
Jennifer and John share a look, and then they both get up at the same time. John carefully pulls the laptop away from Rodney, somehow managing to replace it with a pillow for Rodney to clutch at without waking him up; it has something of Indiana Jones. Jennifer goes to get a blanket and spreads it over Rodney's lax form, tucking it in around his shoulders. She and John share another look, and then they each go back to their books.
Rodney only sleeps for about two hours, but that at least means he's not cranky anymore when he wakes up. Instead, he gives the impression of a confused chicken, clearly not knowing where he is at first, and then, when he finds Jennifer and John – John on the couch, Jennifer in her own armchair – both looking at him with similarly fond smiles, he flushes and mumbles something before stumbling away.
A bit later they have a light lunch, and then Jennifer shows John and Rodney around a bit in Nantucket – she grew up here, so she knows all the nice, hidden places (not that there are that many, it's not like Nantucket is all that big). During the tour, Rodney uses the word "quaint" a lot, and then, when they steer off to walk back along the beach, he starts whining about skin cancer, because he didn't have the foresight to bring his hat. John and Jennifer, with a skill born of much practice, manage to keep him on the level where he complains vigorously, but without being truly unhappy.
After they've gotten back, Jennifer decides to take a short nap; she's pretty knackered. Before she does that, though, she wants to clear whether or not John is coming with them tonight.
Getting a straight answer turns out to not being all that easy, however. John keeps saying things like, "I can stay here" and "I wouldn't want to be in the way", even though it honestly pisses Rodney off when he does that. Jennifer gets pretty annoyed as well, and finally, just when Rodney is about to explode himself, she huffs and crosses her arms. "You're coming," she decides firmly.
John looks at her wide-eyed, eyes flickering back and forth between her and Rodney, and makes as if to say another idiotic thing about bothering them or whatever, but Jennifer talks over him before he can, saying, "I want you to stop with all that nonsense about being in the way and bothering us or whatever. If we hadn't wanted you here, we wouldn't have invited you, or we would've put you in a different house, and we definitely wouldn't have invited you to come along to the gallery opening today. Okay?"
"It really pisses me off when you do that," Rodney adds seriously. "It's like you think you're less important or something, just because we're together. I mean I love Jennifer and I want to spend time with her, but that doesn't mean I love you less or want to spend less time with you. You're my best friend, for god's sake, John."
They're way more than best friends, Jennifer knows; they're Team, and there is a connotation to that word that not many people on the planet – in two galaxies, really – can understand. She doesn't at all get where John is coming from with his insecurity and inferior issues, and she makes a mental note to ask Rodney what their relationship had been like while Rodney had been with Katie. She had until recently never thought to ask.
John ducks his head, face turning tomato red as he nods. "Sorry," is all he says, and Jennifer and Rodney share a look; they know this matter isn't at all solved, but it's obvious John isn't going to talk about it.
Well, they'll just have to show him, Jennifer decides firmly. "Okay. Tonight, you're coming with us, and you'll meet my dad as well. Dress nicely but not overly fancy."
"No smoking?", Rodney asks hopefully.
"No, definitely not. Dress pants and a button-down shirt at least, though, but you don't need to wear a tie." With that last instruction, she heads upstairs to go sleep a bit.
It's only due to the fact that she's a doctor who did her fair share of interning, with all the brutal schedules that implied, that she's able to fall asleep at all; the whole thing with John keeps going through her head. She and Rodney really need to have a talk about John.
When she gets up, it's to find John and Rodney in front of the TV, playing racing games. She watches for a while, listening to them trash talk each other with the great familiarity and comfort of people who've been insulting each other regularly for years, and then she joins in on the game. Naturally, about ninety percent of the time she ends up in third place, except for when they try skiing; for some reason she can't explain (she's never even been skiing, neither in real life nor virtually) she wins every game of those. Rodney decides it's a fluke and keeps trying to beat her, and he never manages; Jennifer and John keep sharing looks and trying not to laugh, it's hilarious.
After that, they have a snack dinner; Jennifer is sure there will be snack foods at the gallery opening, which has Rodney suddenly very eager to go. So they all dress up – John completely in black, of course, and Rodney in a nice dark grey suit with a pale red shirt; they both look very smart. Jennifer wears a velvet, midnight blue dress and fitting high-heels – she just doesn't get enough opportunities to dress up in Atlantis, it's sad. Maybe she'll try to do something about it when she gets back.
The gallery opening is just picking up when they get there, but very soon after their arrival, the crowd has at least doubled in size, as has the noise level. Rodney is anxious, but more because he's worried all the food will be gone than because of the fact that he's going to meet her dad for the first time. Jennifer doesn't really mind. Her dad is busy right now anyway, greeting people and networking; he'll have time for them later in the evening.
She and John leave Rodney at the buffet and slowly walk through the rooms, looking at the art displayed there; it's mostly three Nantucket-based artists collaborating in some way, and most of it is at least vaguely water themed. Jennifer meets a bunch of people who all mistake John for her boyfriend; the first few times she corrects them by telling them that he's her boyfriend's best friend, but eventually she just shortens it to "our best friend". The first time after she did it she asks him if he minds, but he says he doesn't in a quiet tone of voice that either means he does mind or means he doesn't mind but it made him thoughtful for some reason. Jennifer thinks about that for a while, taking in his reaction carefully every time she thereafter introduces him as her and Rodney's best friend, but she eventually comes to the conclusion that he truly doesn't mind – once, he actually faintly blushes, though Jennifer is really not sure if that's due to her introduction or to the fact that her high school friend threw them both a knowing look.
Eventually, the two of them go to pick Rodney up again; he enthusiastically makes them try his favorites from the buffet, and he has actually made them a plate because he was worried the snacks were going to be gone by the time they come back, it's really sweet. Jennifer takes a few bites and then leaves John and Rodney on their own to go and find her dad.
She does find him talking to one of the artists and some reporter and discreetly waits until he can get away, and then there's lots of hugs and kisses and updating each other on how they are. It's actually only been three months since they last saw each other – Jennifer had gotten called back to Earth for an emergency at the SGC, and she had managed to get a day away to visit her dad before she returned to Atlantis – and it's not like they don't email, but still. The great distance between them (that Jennifer is much more aware of than he is, really; he just thinks she's stationed on some obscure, top-secret base in some remote area of the planet) makes every visit a lot more emotional, though.
"So, where is the infamous Rodney?", her dad asks eventually. "You did bring him, didn't you?"
"Of course," Jennifer says, rolling her eyes. "Last I saw them they were at the buffet, and they should still be there, really, I doubt John managed to drag Rodney away."
"So John is a good friend of yours?", Jeremy asks while they stroll through the crowds towards the buffet. People keep trying to involve him in conversations, but he has the great ability to smile and fend them off with a few nice words that make them leave him alone in under a minute without any bruised egos.
"The best," Jennifer replies firmly. "He and Rodney go way back. He's the military commander of the base we're stationed at, and he's saved our lives countless times." Theirs, two galaxies' and countless planets'.
"I'm looking forward to meeting them both, then," her dad says. She knows he means it.
Rodney and John are indeed by the buffet; Rodney is nibbling some cracker with one of those cheeses that have fruit in them, frowning and gesturing with the other hand as he tries to explain something to John. Probably how art is a complete waste of time, going by John's amused, indulgent expression.
John notices them first; probably due to the fact that he always has an eye on the whole room he's in, maybe even the whole building. He straightens and says something to Rodney. Rodney stops mid-sentence and turns around, looking a little like a deer caught in the headlight.
There's no reason for that, though. Jennifer introduces Rodney and John to her dad, casually mentions the fact that her dad likes building miniature flying airplanes as a hobby, and in under the minute the three of them are involved in a deep conversation on the physics of flight and the philosophies of what other people call "toy" airplanes.
The evening ends as a complete success on all areas. Jennifer is quite smug about the whole thing, but she thinks she deserves to be. After all, she's said so from the beginning.
The next morning, Jennifer, John and Rodney head off to spend some time on the beach after breakfast. Rodney this time doesn't forget his hat, and also not three towels, his SPF 100 sunscreen, a parasol just to be on the safe side, as well as a lot of water and several power bars, in addition to his two books. He likes to be well-prepared; Jennifer thinks it's cute. It's also very practical, because that means if she forgets anything, she can just borrow it from him.
Naturally, Rodney refuses to go into the water, and John takes her aside when Rodney's head is turned away to let her know in a whisper that she has to let him get used to the thought; he'll probably wade in the water tomorrow, and maybe get into it up to his chest the day after, and after that he'll have no problem taking a proper swim. He just has to get used to it at first. Jennifer is neither surprised nor bothered by this; she knows Rodney is fussy sometimes and often worries overly. It's just the way he is, she doesn't mind.
So she and John go and take a swim on their own; at first they just test the water, and then they get their air mattresses and go out properly, so far out that there aren't any people anymore. As they drift along, enjoying the quiet and the water and the sun, John starts lamenting the lack of surfing opportunities. He mentions it so often that eventually, Jennifer promises him they'll go to a proper surfing place next time, just so he'll shut up – a way of dealing with John she has learned from Rodney, admittedly. Inwardly she can't help but be giddy that John is starting to really warm up to her, even going so far as to interact with her somewhat like he would with Rodney. And just like Rodney, she honestly means it when she says it, too.
It works in turning John quiet, but he goes completely silent instead of just changing the topic. Jennifer at first doesn't really get why, but eventually she figures out that it's what she said - not about the surfing, but the "next time" part. It must be the thing again where John thinks he's bothering them or something.
For a brief moment, Jennifer considers not saying anything, but she can't really just let it go; not when it so clearly is something that John is really insecure about. "I really do enjoy having you here," she says quietly, trailing her fingers through the water and staring down into it so he doesn't have to try to covertly avoid her eyes. "Rodney can be a bit much sometimes, and I'm probably a bit annoying on occasion too. You're somehow mitigating both our more unpleasant character features – not to mention that you're just fun to be around and that we both like spending time with you."
John is silent for a moment, and then he rolls off the air mattress and throws himself into the water. As far as his strategies to avoid talking about his feelings go, it's one of his to date most amusing ones. It doesn't quite beat throwing himself mid-mission off-path into a field of stinging nettles that had given him a rash that had lasted a week (admittedly, he likely hadn't expected that bit), but it gets close, she thinks. Especially when he doesn't come up for almost two minutes. She's somewhat proud of it, actually; depending on his level of panic, John usually is a little smoother in his avoidant tactics. This must have been upper-level horrifying for him; below the stinging nettles (nobody on the team will tell her what that had been about, unfortunately) but above the "there's a fire and there's probably children trapped in it I have to go" excuse John had used on Teyla once (also for reasons Teyla will not reveal, but they usually don't talk about the whys, only the hows). When John finally emerges again, his face is read and he's gasping for breath. Jennifer takes mercy on him and acts like nothing is going on.
For lunch, the three of them head into one of the restaurants; it's not quite tourist season yet but that doesn't mean there's not already a bunch of tourists around. Luckily, Jennifer is well-acquainted with the owner of the restaurant, so they don't have to wait. John acts normal throughout the meal, but afterwards, he all of a sudden he runs off with nothing more than a hastily murmured excuse, leaving Jennifer and Rodney to blink after him in confusion.
"What was that?", Rodney asks incredulously.
"Hm," Jennifer makes. She doesn't have a clue. "I just told him earlier that we like having him here and that without him we'd be at each others' throats in under a day. But that's no reason to run away like we're trying to marry our virgin daughters off to him."
Rodney snorts. "That's actually quite accurate. I wonder what's going on in that fuzzy head of his now."
Pursing her lips, Jennifer links arms with Rodney and directs him into the direction of their house. "Something has been going on with him for a while," she tentatively nudges. If Rodney has any similar thoughts at all, that should be enough.
And, yes, there it is. Rodney takes a deep breath, and Jennifer expects a rant of epic proportions, but instead, Rodney suddenly lets it go and says, voice tentative, "So you noticed as well."
Jennifer squeezes his arm. She didn't expect this to get to Rodney so much. "Do you have any idea what it's about?"
Rodney shakes his head and shrugs helplessly. "I don't even really know what it is, but something is… off about him. He's been acting like a skittish colt."
"Do you think we should talk to him?" Admittedly, she somewhat deserves the look Rodney throws her at that, but still. "It's not like we'll find out what's wrong if we don't talk to him."
"It'd be easier stealing tormack from Ronon," Rodney snorts, and Jennifer has to agree.
They share a look, and then they say at the same time, "Alcohol."
Naturally, it's not that simple. They have a dinner engagement with her father that day, and John hasn't come back yet before they leave – Jennifer figures that's his way of getting out of having to make a decision as to whether he'll come with them or not. It makes her uncomfortable to go alone with Rodney, though she can't really put her finger on why. Her father seems a bit confused for a moment as well, eyes flicking behind them as if he's expecting John to only be lagging behind. The dinner goes well, but from the look her dad throws her Jennifer knows that he knows something is off.
Rodney and she don't talk about John on the way back; they're rather silent, especially when they, upon coming home, find that John's door is firmly closed. Rodney starts acting like he's been personally insulted, carelessly throwing his clothes about as he gets ready for bed and muttering to himself about "sensitive colonels" and something about hedgehogs. Jennifer lets him get it all out first before she, when they're already lying in bed, says quietly, "It's not just me, right? He should have been there."
"Of course he should have," Rodney bursts out, and then, when the implications of what he's just said become apparent to him, turns silent.
"Okay." Jennifer supports her head on one hand and looks down on her boyfriend. "Are you sure there's never been anything… sexual between you?"
It earns her a glare. "No! What kind of asshole do you think I am? I would never have started a relationship with you if there were!"
Jennifer purses her lips. "It's perfectly possible to be in a relationship and not have sex, though, and I'm starting to think that, well. I know that there's a lot between you I can never understand," she adds hastily when Rodney's glare intensifies. "But I think that what's between you might be going a bit further than friendship. And I don't mind, and I told him I don't mind-"
Rodney sputters. "You talked to him about it?" When she nods, he sits up abruptly. "Let me get this right, you talked to my best friend about how you wouldn't mind if I, your boyfriend, were in a relationship with him?"
Put like that, it sounds a little stupid. But well, in for a penny… "Yeah, because it's true!" Sitting up as well, Jennifer crosses her arms, then deflates at his bewildered, hurt look. "Look, Rodney." Wrapping her arms around his neck, she leans their foreheads together. "I love you, and I know you love me. And I also know that you love John, and that John loves you. I'm rather fond of him as well, by the way. Your relationship is very deep, and I'm honestly not jealous. I know that I have a place in your life, and I am satisfied with the space you made for me. Though sometimes I'd like it if you spent less time at work and more time with me," she adds dryly. Rodney huffs, but he looks less like she just stabbed him in the chest with a rusty spoon. "And I know that John is a very important part of your life, and I would never want to get between that, or, I don't know, interfere. I never got why some people get so jealous when their significant others spend time with their friends. Everybody needs friends, and I wouldn't let you interfere with my friendships either."
"As if I'd want to get involved in your stupid girl coteries," Rodney says loftily. "I have better things to do than gossip about imbeciles and exchange nail polish tips."
It earns him a punch in the shoulder. "Stop being such a misogynist, I know you know better." He had been quite jealous, though he'd never admit it, when she, Laura and Alicia had organized that jell-o bomb war for Miko's birthday, even if he still wouldn't believe her when she told him that in private, Miko was anything but shy. There had been explosions. It was legendary. "Anyways, what I was trying to say… I don't think your relationship with John could get any deeper even if you started to have sex."
"And you told John that." Rodney sounds quite incredulous, but he stopped looking hurt, so she kisses him on the lips and leans back so she can look him in the eyes.
"I told John that I wouldn't mind if there were something sexual between you – and I wouldn't, unless you didn't tell me. And he said that there really, really isn't anything." Jennifer grimaces. "I came across as a bit wacky, I'm afraid."
Rodney rolls his eyes. "As if that's anything new." She punches him in the shoulder again and ignores his subsequent whining. It wasn't all that hard, it's not even going to bruise.
"Wait," Rodney says suddenly, shoulder forgotten. "So what are you saying? You think I should have sex with John?"
Jennifer rolls her eyes. "Yes, clearly, that's what I meant. No, Rodney. But I think you should find out how John feels about you – and me, possibly, though that's not as important – and you should figure out how you feel, being in two relationships at the same time."
"What do you mean, two relationships?" Rodney sounds both unsure and confused; apparently she's not being clear enough. "I'm- what? I'm in only one relationship."
"No." Jennifer throws him a look. "That's what I've been saying all this time. You're in two relationships, one of which is with me and entails sex, the other is with John and does not. And I think you and John should have a relationship talk, by which I don't mean you should break up, I think you should find out whether he's getting everything from your relationship that he needs, and if he isn't, what it is he wants, and whether you're comfortable with that." She bites her lower lip. "It might be me he's having a problem with," she says quietly and shushes him when he tries to say something; automatic denial, from what it looks like, and while it's sweet, he has no way of knowing that for sure. "If that's the case, we need to have a talk and figure out what it is that's bothering him and how we can solve it." She really, really hopes that won't happen, because just because she doesn't have a problem with Rodney being in a relationship with both her and John doesn't mean John doesn't have a problem with it, and if John would make Rodney choose… he probably wouldn't; that's not the person he is. He'd rather break up with Rodney himself and spend the rest of his life pining, but that really is not on either. Jennifer would feel incredibly bad, and Rodney would never stand for it.
They're both quiet for a moment, thinking about that, until Jennifer shakes her head. No point wondering about it until it happens. "Look. Clearly, something is going on with John, and it's either a recent development, or it's something that has been going on for a while and he just never let on. You know how he is." They share a look, because they know indeed. John is the most complicated person Jennifer has ever met. "And I know he hates talking about his feelings, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have them, and it doesn't mean he doesn't have needs."
"You realize that we're unlikely to ever find out what's going on with him, right?", Rodney replies quietly. "In all the time I've known him, we've never talked about feelings. Not even Teyla can get him to do it, and she's usually armed."
"So, you're saying we're never going to find out what's eating at him?"
Rodney grimaces and flaps his hands around. "Usually, I get him drunk and then I guess until I figure it out, and then I tell him what an idiot he's being, and then he avoids me for a couple of days, and then we pretend it never happened."
Well. "That's somewhat dysfunctional, but if it helps… okay, so you'll do that tomorrow while I'm off meeting with Suzanne. My friend from high school," she adds, because it's highly unlikely he'll remember that bit.
Rodney's eyes widen. "I will?"
She sends him a look that makes him huff, but he doesn't protest.
A while later, long after they've settled in to sleep, Jennifer thinks she hears him say "Thank you", but when she wakes up she's not entirely sure she wasn't dreaming.
The next day, John acts as if nothing's wrong, and if Jennifer didn't know it's not true she might never have known. He's really quite good at that, which makes her wonder if, when he isn't, that means he's slipping up or whether that's his way of letting other people know that something is wrong. It's complicated, and so she drops the thought after a while; it's not like it matters either way. The result is the same.
They spend the day quietly, reading and playing video games. John doesn't suspect anything is wrong when Jennifer goes out in the afternoon to get some alcohol – her father stocked them up with beer, but she figures they'll need something much stronger to get John to loosen up. He also doesn't catch a clue when immediately afterwards, she leaves to meet up for dinner with her childhood friend and spend the rest of the evening catching up.
Jennifer is looking forward to seeing Suzanne again; the two of them grew up together, and Suzanne is one of the few people of their year that has never left the island. But the whole evening, Jennifer has to struggle so she won't be distracted wondering what's going on with Rodney and John right now, what John is saying (or not saying, as it were); she desperately wants to know. Suzanne probably notices, but she doesn't say anything, not even when Jennifer heads home when it's barely eleven. She just can't bear waiting any longer; she's going to apologize to Suzanne later.
When she gets to the house, she finds all the lights turned off and no sign of John or Rodney. She finally finds them lying in the grass in front of the back porch, along with several empty bottles of beer and a three quarters full bottle of scotch they probably passed back and forth. Not anymore, though; they're both passed out on the grass, John curled up on his side and Rodney flat on his back. A quick check reveals that it's not alcohol poisoning; there's not enough standing around for that anyway.
It takes a lot of shaking before John wakes up; his head lolls about a bit while he blinks at her in confusion. John, she has been reliably informed, is an affectionate drunk unless he keeps on drinking; at one point, he turns very silent and very pliant. That's probably the only reason she manages to maneuver him up the stairs and into his bed; he obediently follows her every suggestion, verbal or otherwise, and then he falls asleepas soon as he's horizontal again. Rodney is easier to wake up, but more difficult to maneuver; he keeps trying to sit down. He also won't stop babbling, mostly nonsense, nothing useful. Jennifer clearly won't find out what went on between the two of them today, or anytime before afternoon tomorrow, what with the massive hangovers the two of them will be nursing.
She's right, of course; John and Rodney spend most of the morning with sunglasses, looking pale and tired and wincing with every noise someone makes despite the water and aspirin and vitamins she forces onto both of them. Rodney isn't even able to complain about how she's supposed to be a doctor, what use is she if she can't even cure a hangover, as he usually does. It's not much of a loss, as far as Jennifer is concerned.
It's clear the both of them know she's waiting for something, though, because all of a sudden John slinks off to "take a bath" (as if, Jennifer knows for a fact that John finds them baffling; he doesn't understand why someone would take an hour to get clean if it works just as well with a shower and in far less time) and she's alone with Rodney, who clears his throat, winces, and then whimpers. With a sigh, Jennifer directs his head into her lap and starts massaging his temples, which makes him go silent for a full five minutes. He's been rather quiet all day, and she's not fully convinced it's only due to the hangover, and so Jennifer eventually asks, gently, "What's going on?"
Rodney purses his lips. "He thinks we're going to get married and move to Earth and have two point seven children and a dog and a white picket fence."
Jennifer frowns. "That's ridiculous."
"That's what I said," Rodney replies with great satisfaction. Then he frowns. "Wait, what?"
She rolls her eyes. "We might at one point do half of those things, but I'm not much of a fan of dogs, or moving to Earth or having children anytime soon. Also, I'm not sure about the getting married part."
Rodney keeps frowning and eventually sits up to face her. "You don't want to get married?"
Jennifer returns the frown and tilts her head. "I thought you'd be happy about that. At first I wanted to, but then I thought about it, and I realized it wouldn't be a good thing for us."
"What? Why?" Rodney looks honestly troubled now, and boy is Jennifer looking forward to the day when he stops correlating everything to his person.
"Rodney." She leans in to fixate his eyes. "What will change between us if we get married?" He only looks confused, so she clarifies, "Will it make us more committed to each other? More faithful? Will it change the nature of our relationship in any way if we exchange rings and have some stranger declare us a couple, something which we and everybody who knows us is already aware of?"
"…no?" He sounds like he's guessing, and she huffs.
"No, it won't. We're a couple, and everybody knows we're a couple, and getting married would be nice in the sense that we could celebrate that with our friends, but we don't need to do that." She waits for Rodney to nod before she continues. "Now. What will change between you and John if you and I get married?"
He doesn't get it, she can see that. "Right now, I'm your girlfriend and John is your best friend, for lack of better term, even though we all know there's so much more between you. Do you agree?" Rodney nods, though he still looks somewhat confused. That's okay; he has troubles quantifying his feelings, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. He and John are much alike in that aspect, actually. "John and I are officially on vaguely the same level in our importance to you, at least in the eyes of those who know us on Atlantis. Other people probably wouldn't think so, they think because I'm your girlfriend I should be more important to you than your best friend, but that's because the term "best friend" doesn't really fit for your and John's relationship. Now, if you and I got married, I would be officially more important to you than John, because you are committed to me in a way you aren't – can't officially be – to John. Which does not at all reflect our relationships, but it's not possible to get married to more than one person, much less in a platonic way, which is what you and John would do, if you and I got married. Or let's be honest, it's what you would have done years ago, if you could."
Rodney keeps frowning as he works that over in his head. "Are you trying to say I should get married to John?"
Jennifer rolls her eyes, hard. "I'm trying to say that, if you got married at all, it would have to be to both me and John, because if you only get married to me John will feel inferior and abandoned and like you're locking him out of your life."
"That's utterly stupid," Rodney says with conviction.
"Yes, thank you, I agree. But it's apparently how he feels. And it's why I don't want to get married." It had admittedly been a very difficult decision; she had been dreaming of getting married for a long time. When she had realized that if she and Rodney did that, something would inevitably turn sour between him and John, she had at first been angry, unfairly, at John. After all, she had figured, they were his issues; she shouldn't have to have to abandon her dream just because of him. And then she had realized that she wouldn't have to; John would never say a word, and Rodney likely had no idea. John would let them get married and quietly retreat, until one day they'd realize that they hadn't spoken to him in weeks. Which was really frustrating; she wished John would sometimes just say when he wanted something, but that's just not who he was. So in the end, she wasn't abandoning her dream for John, she was doing it for Rodney – because if she let it happen, when he realized what had happened, Rodney would likely never forgive himself. Jennifer would likely not forgive herself either, because honestly, John had become quite important to her too, and not just because of his importance to Rodney. So in the end, she loved Rodney and, in a more abstract way, John enough to tell Rodney no for all their sakes, if she ever had to.
Rodney stares at her for a moment, and she waits while he realizes all these things she had figured out a long time ago. Then, suddenly, Rodney takes hold of her face with both hands and kisses her thoroughly. "I love you," he says earnestly when he pulls back.
Jennifer flushes and smiles. "I love you too." She wants to kiss him again, but things would probably go into a direction they shouldn't right now, if she did. First they have to tell John what an idiot he's being.
So she pulls away and gets up. "Come on, let's go talk to John."
Rodney's face falls for a moment – his thoughts had likely gone into the same direction as hers – but then he gets back on track and agrees. John, as she suspected, is not taking a bath; he's sitting on his bed, staring out of the window, looking both dejected and stubborn, like he's trying with all his might to convince himself it's fine, whatever scenario he has concocted in his head. His eyes widen and he looks like a deer caught in the headlight when they come in, especially when Jennifer sits down on his one side and has Rodney sit down on his other side.
Rodney scowls and punches John in the shoulder. "You're an idiot," he says.
John returns the scowl and rubs his arm. "Thanks."
With a huff, Rodney crosses his arms. "For your information, Jennifer and I are not going to get married, and also she doesn't like dogs, so you can stop pouting like a thirteen years old girl."
Which is incredibly helpful, really. It's no wonder the two of them never talk about feelings.
Jennifer rolls her eyes. "What Rodney is trying to say is that we really are not going to get married, and we're certainly not going to move to Earth anytime soon. I figure we have at least ten years before they try to promote you away from Atlantis, so there's really no point anyway. And if we have children, we can have them on Atlantis just as well."
Both Rodney and John look at her, startled. "We can?", Rodney says.
Jennifer raises an eyebrow. "If Teyla can do it on her own, the three of us would probably manage as well." Sure, Atlantis is not exactly the safest place around, but Jennifer would feel like a hypocrite if she left to raise her child on Earth. The people in Pegasus don't have that option, after all.
John makes a choked noise. "What do you mean, the three of us?"
Oops. Apparently Jennifer jumped ahead a little. It would probably have been better to leave that part off to talk about later. Oh well, it's too late now. "You do remember what I told you before you threw yourself into the ocean, right?"
"You did what?", Rodney demands loudly.
"From an air mattress!", John quickly disclaims. "It was yesterday, Rodney, jeez!"
"As I was saying," Jennifer quickly interrupts before the two of them can start in on each other again. It works; they shut up and stare at her again, both wearing the same deer in the headlights expression. Jennifer takes mercy on them and drops the children topic; it's too early anyway, she shouldn't have brought it up. Instead, she looks John in the eye and says seriously, "You and I are of equal importance to Rodney. You're as much part of his life as I am. If he makes any life-changing decisions, he will certainly take you into consideration; he won't just abandon you to flounce off with me into a picket fence life. That I, by the way, don't even want."
She doesn't even have to prompt Rodney to agree; he does that all on his own, huffing and saying, "Honestly. Don't be such a moron."
John pulls up his shoulders and stares at the floor; he looks incredibly tense, but he does manage to choke out a strangled, "Okay." After that, it's only a matter of seconds; Jennifer quietly counts down from five, and before she arrives at three, John has jumped up and tells them he's going for a walk before he literally runs off. Jennifer looks after him fondly, and when she glances at Rodney she finds the same expression on his face. When he notices she's looking at him, Rodney turns to face her and raises an eyebrow. "That went well," she says.
Rodney rolls his eyes. "That's only because he was still weakened from the alcohol."
Jennifer rolls here eyes as well and gets up. "Come on. He won't be back for at least half an hour," she says and heads over into his bedroom. She smiles when he scrambles after her.
When they go see her dad the next day, John comes with them.