Rodney's room was half-lit, the last glow from the sun casting golden shadows against the walls. The air was still, a distant hum from the environmental systems buzzing just beneath the surface.
Rodney's breath was heavy against John's neck, a stark contrast to the whisper-soft touch of his fingers sliding up John's spine.
"How was it?" Rodney asked, hands tightening around John's shoulders in preemptive sympathy.
"About as awful as you'd expect." His voice cracked around the words, heavy with regrets that had been left too long and now would never be settled completely.
"Did you have a chance to clear the air with your brother?" Rodney's lips brushed the words beneath his ear, a string of almost-kisses. John shivered, eyes closing as he leaned more heavily into Rodney, trusting his strength to hold them both.
"Yeah, sort of. We're cool."
Somewhere between understatement and wishful thinking, the words seemed inadequate to describe the uneasy peace they had reached. Two hours of dancing around questions and answers that his brother already knew, declarations that had sent John barreling from home with his father's curses driving him forward a lifetime before, had left John drained. In retrospect, he wondered if the amiable silence that had fallen between Dave and himself was the result of true understanding, or just fatigue.
Rodney sighed, turning to press a quick kiss against John's jaw.
"I'm glad to hear that. I wanted to come with you."
"I know." John tightened his arms around Rodney's waist in reassurance.
"At least Ronon was there. But you shouldn't—" have had to go without me, the words unspoken but clear between them.
"I'm just glad it's over," John replied. "I don't…" want to be so far away, don't want you off-world unless I'm there to watch your back.
"I'm just relieved you made it back in one piece," Rodney groused. "I don't like you getting yourself into trouble without me there to get you out of it."
The words startled a chuckle out of John, an exact mirror of his own disquiet the past few days.
"That's just what I was thinking." The yawn that ended the sentence earned a look of fond exasperation from Rodney.
"How long since you've eaten? Or slept?"
John shook his head. "You don't want me to answer that."
"Hmmph. That's answer enough, I think. So—food? Bed? Infirmary?"
"Don't be ridiculous, I don't need to see Keller. I'm just tired." Worn to the bone in a way he couldn't explain and far more melancholy that he would have expected given the years and distance, both emotional and physical, between himself and his father.
"I know." Rodney's voice was tender, and John wanted to protest the kid-glove treatment. Instead, he went without protest as Rodney urged him over and onto the bed.
John wondered, briefly, about asking Rodney to stay. The point becomes moot, however, as Rodney tugged off John's boots and jacket and then his own before curling around John on the narrow bed.
"We'll worry about feeding you later. Sleep now." The words were brisk, but the hand that slipped inside John's, thumb stroking his palm, was anything but.
"Thanks," John murmured, squeezing Rodney's fingers.
"For—" caring, being you, coming home safe, being here, being—"everything."
For once, Rodney let the opportunity to mock yet another "John Sheppard witticism" pass. Instead, he burrowed closer.
His whispered "you're welcome" was the last thing John heard as he drifted off to sleep.