The bitching had already started when John picked up his rental car at the Vancouver airport, even though he'd chosen a safe practical model. It wasn't even a flashy colour. But Rodney was grumpy because not only had there not been a ship in orbit to beam them to the Miller residence, they'd had to fly commercial from Colorado. And, while they were en route, they'd received a text from Jeannie, saying they were up to their knees with flooding because of burst pipes; but they still wanted to get together, so would meet them at the cabin they'd rented. In Whistler. There was a more detailed voicemail once they'd landed giving them the address in the Whistler Village but any attempt to call the house directly was met with a solid busy signal.
A two and a half hour drive cooped up with an extra-cranky Rodney was threatening to ruin any good vibes John might have had in anticipation of this particular vacation.
Still, it was a vacation and he was determined to make the best of the situation. Now, just how was he going to convince Rodney? Solution: hunt up the best coffee shop. And hope for the best.
Despite John's best efforts – and a small silent reprieve - the grumbling didn't stop until after they'd unloaded their luggage and headed into their home-away-from-home for a week. As soon as they'd examined the entire cabin (more of a loft studio), John and Rodney sat down in the two leather chairs in front of the fireplace and stared at each other.
"You don't think-"
"Of course, I think. She is my sister, after all. If I know her, there are no burst water pipes and the only reason they made that excuse was to get us up here alone. In a cabin that we're supposed to believe would sleep 4 adults and one teenage girl, but has only one working bed in it, upstairs in the loft. Because the advertised Murphy bed down here just happens to be broken, as per the shallow 'Sorry for any inconvenience' note from management."
John was trying to be calm and reassuring. "You know we'll have to share the bed, just as they hoped. The seating out here looks really inadequate, except for these two leather chairs."
Rodney grumbled, "It would serve her right if I rolled off that tiny loveseat in the middle of the night and broke my neck. But, then, she probably thought that would be the only way to get the two of us in one bed."
John was trying to be more reasonable. "It'll be okay. We'll get through it and, when we return...."
Rodney's smile seemed vicious. "We'll make sure she never forgets this week."
John walked to the kitchen area and opened the fridge. "At least they don't seem to be wanting to kill us. I don't see any citrus."
Rodney was examining the official welcome brochure, intently. "Can you make me some coffee?"
John smiled. Distracting Rodney with more coffee and whatever else he might find in the kitchen sounded like a terrific idea. When he returned a few minutes later bearing two coffees and decidedly not-lemon danishes on a tray, Rodney was scribbling something on guest stationary. "They even stacked the deck against us with the activities available, so we'd be stuck indoors. Because there's no way I'm going to put on a pair of skis. Or ride in that swaying gondola we're next to. Or even go snowshoeing. Don't we do enough tramping through all sorts of weather conditions from the Gate and back when we're on missions?"
John sat back and took a deep swallow of his own coffee. "But I could always go do those things on my own." After feeling the blistering glare Rodney directed at him, John reconsidered. "Or, you know, we could just ... relax. I'm sure there's something we could watch on TV as we don't get the latest stuff back home."
Rodney waved a languid hand in the direction of the large flat-screen TV. "Sure. Whatever. If I get bored, I can always do some work. If you get restless, you can go for a walk. But no skiing!"
John adopted a long-suffering pout. "Yes, Rodney." It was going to be a long stretch of days being cooped up with his teammate in this small studio space. He'd have to recommend Rodney use the featured Jacuzzi in their cabin to unwind. And perhaps persuade him to have dinner more than once in the resort's steakhouse.
The knock came again, sounding more insistent this time. When she opened the door, she cringed, seeing her brother and Col. Sheppard on the other side. "What are you two doing back here? We made sure the cabin had enough provisions to last you two through a whole week." And, then, she flushed.
Rodney was leaning against the doorjamb nonchalantly. Since when did Mer do nonchalant? "Well, we thought you'd like to attend the wedding."
Jeannie's screech was not a flattering sound. "Wedding? What wedding?"
The piercing sound had brought Kaleb and Madison rushing in from the kitchen. Kaleb's hands were covered in flour, as were Maddie's.
Rodney wasn't surprised to see Kaleb's face turning pink, too, while Madison was smiling in the secretive manner of most teenage girls.
"Well, ours, obviously. Isn't that what you were hoping to achieve?"
Jeannie stammered, "We – we just wanted the two of you to finally get together, because we couldn't stand the idea of both of you being so blind to one another, even while you were giving each other these longing looks when you thought our backs were turned."
Rodney clutched John, both of them now laughing uncontrollably, trying to remain upright. "You thought we had feelings for each other and were ... pining? And decided you'd engineer a way for us to finally come to our senses by faking an emergency and leaving us stranded in a romantic setting?"
"Well, yes. And I can see it worked. Though is there any reason why you're rushing into this marriage?"
Rodney was still laughing, verging on wheezing, and hugging his chest, so John propelled him into the living room and down onto the couch, before turning back to the Millers. "Jeannie, Rodney and I have been together for years. The only reason why you might have caught us glancing at each other the last few times we stayed over was because we hated the idea of being separated and not being able to sleep in the same bed."
Jeannie's mouth was not the only one that dropped open. There wasn't any sound for a long moment. Then her face scrunched up. "That doesn't make any sense. Why couldn't you sleep in the same bed? You'd always shared before."
Rodney had caught his breath enough to talk. "As teammates. Nothing more than how we'd shared on missions. But, once we were a couple, we couldn't just hide that, not for days in front of people we knew. The temptation of sleeping together without ... doing anything about it – yes, I'm talking about kissing and cuddling only, so don't pretend to be offended – was more pressure than what we wanted to endure. So, suddenly, just for your sake, John became a restless sleeper who needed to crash on the couch to avoid hurting me with his pointy elbows at night. We could never be sure you wouldn't pop around the corner at any time, so pretended we weren't a couple. No touching. Nothing except for the looks which you weren't supposed to see."
Jeannie sank down into her comfy chair. "But, still, a wedding? Why now? Or here"?
It was John's turn to step in. "We'd gotten together after DADT was repealed, but it was still a secret. Just because I could be open wasn't the best thing for my career or Atlantis. It was only after a few high-ranking members at the SGC came out, and Rodney convinced me that my position was secure, that we began talking seriously about getting married. And liked the idea of having you witness it during our vacation here. Considering it's Family Day in Canada and all."
John walked over to Rodney, finally sitting next to him on the couch. "As for why now-now, well, it's 2016."
One look at Jeannie's puzzled face was all that Rodney needed to take over the explanation. "Look, Jeannie-bean, you know how paranoid I can be ... but right now I'm too worried about what's happening south of the border. Neither John nor I have the time to be up on the latest political gossip, but we have an active GSA back home and people looking out for us. So, any time they think something important is happening, they'll let us know. Right now, they're worried because of the political situation. Should the Republicans win in November, I don't want to think of what rights might be removed, Supreme Court ruling and 14th Amendment be damned. So, we're getting married here with you as our witnesses (if you're willing) and, then, on Tuesday John and I are driving down to Seattle where his brother Dave will meet us, to get married again, just in case some Moron-In-Chief next year decides our 'foreign' wedding isn't legit. Mind you, if some asshole decides to make life impossible for John because of me, well ... we have contingencies we're not ready to reveal just yet. But I'm not prepared to give John up for anything."
John grasped Rodney's hand. "And I'm not prepared to give Rodney up, not even for my – as Rodney would put it mildly – stupidly backward country. I know it's a holiday here tomorrow, but we've already booked an officiant to do the ceremony downtown. The SGC arranged for consular attachés in both countries to procure our marriage licenses in absentia."
Kaleb wiped dusty hands on his apron, then came up to shake both men's hands energetically. "I think that's great news." He turned to Jeannie. "Don't you agree, honey?"
Jeannie frowned, feeling a headache coming on. "I'm not crazy about the fact that they deceived us."
Rodney raised his other hand in protest, but lowered it when John tugged the hand he was holding. John shook his head slightly, indicating to Rodney that he wanted to deal with Jeannie.
"But was it okay for you to deceive the two of us? Jeannie, Rodney and I are real people, not dolls you can manipulate to fulfill your own tunnel-vision fantasies. From what Rodney's told me, you've had a kind of creepy obsession over his love life. And made some unflattering comparisons between him and me. Listen, I get that Rodney hurt you badly when he dismissed your marriage, but I thought you'd put all that behind you when you first came to Atlantis. Did the video recording I showed you mean nothing? Or that he nearly sacrificed his life to save yours during the kidnapping."
John could feel Rodney trembling and burrowing his face against John's neck, so lifted his arm to encircle the other's back, rubbing soothing circles into his shoulder.
Jeannie was oddly defiant, putting her hands on her hips. "I don't remember him doing that."
John's voice was cool. "Because he knows better than to tell you important stuff these days. But I knew, because he begged me to allow him to do it. You may be his only sister, but he was my ... teammate and I just couldn't ... I couldn't...."
As John's voice failed him, he pressed dry lips tightly together, trying to contain his emotions.
Kaleb judged the tense situation in the room, remembering that his teen daughter was still present. He reached out with his arms to the other men and his wife. "Hey, I'm just the current brother-in-law to you, Rodney, and possibly a future one to you, John. And I'm your husband, Jeannie. Could we try to deescalate the situation, please?"
Madison fidgeted as she watched the standoff. "I'm going back to baking my Valentine's cookies. If you guys are really getting married tomorrow, I'd better be your bridesmaid – even if mom and dad don't come. I'm wearing purple and want a real bouquet to match!" As she hurried back to the kitchen, her command with its conditions – and the prospect that the Millers might not attend – pierced through the tension in the room.
Kaleb began, "Well...."
Jeannie added, "That's so embarrassing, to have my own child be the sensible one."
John offered, "You've got a terrific daughter there."
Rodney embellished, "Who'll look amazing in purple in our wedding photographs." He added, a little slyly, "It'd be a shame for her parents to miss our wedding."
Jeannie threw her hands up in the air. "All right, all right, you win. We'll be there. Consider the Whistler cabin a we're-not-married-yet-but-on-our-honeymoon present."
Rodney's smile was dazzling and wicked. With Madison out of the room, he could be more direct. "Thanks, Jeannie. Kaleb. We had a wonderful time relaxing, the way we wouldn't have been able to in the city. The Jacuzzi was a nice touch, considering I – well, we – have a great tub like that in our quarters at home. And, then, there were the nights, just the two of us in our loft bed, appreciating the privacy and no chance of being interrupted."
Jeannie was turning red again. "Verging on TMI territory, Mer, TMI. Uh ... I'd better find something suitable to wear, then. Coming, Kaleb?"
As she left, Kaleb laughed. "Welcome to the family, John. Remember, you enter at your own risk."
John didn't have to look at Rodney to know he'd have a smug look on his face. "Worth every moment no matter what the cost, Kaleb."
Kaleb looked thoughtful, then nodded. "That's the great secret behind the best relationships, isn't it? Well, I guess I'd better get back to the cookies. And to tell Madison we'll all be sharing in your special day."
Once they were alone, John kissed Rodney. "Isn't it great that we can finally do this? And tonight we can sleep together in the guest room."
Rodney paled. The horror of being "out" to his family had unintended consequences. "Is it too late for us to book a hotel room for a couple of nights?"
John's voice was firm but affectionate. "Yes, it is too late and wouldn't send a good message, considering this may be the first time in decades that you and your sister aren't throwing stones at each other's life choices. And we have a much bigger problem to try to solve."
"Hmmm?" Rodney was distracted, thinking of sleeping in with John, as the wedding wasn't until mid afternoon tomorrow. "What's the bigger problem?"
"Just where does Madison expect us to find her a purple bouquet on Valentine's Day and holiday weekend?"
The look of horror was reflected on both men's faces. As one, they looked up at the ceiling and yelled, "Jeannie, we need your help!"