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Hidden Opportunities

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"I know I'm a very handsome and desirable man, but you really need to tune it down," Rodney said by the way of greeting when he put down his tray in front of John. Then proceeded to stuff himself as if he hadn't just said something that was both weird and a bit worrying.

"What?" was all John could ask as he put down his forkful of mystery meat and lime green … whatever it was. "What are you talking about?"

Rodney looked at him in the way he had when he was trying very hard not to comment on the intelligence of people he was talking to at that very moment. John had become very familiar with the look because he saw it every mission when they were interacting with the natives. "Come now, it's not that hard to figure out," Rodney said and then he made actual air-quotes, "'someone' keeps leaving stuff on my workbench. My favorite PowerBars, cake. Yesterday 'someone' actually left a chocolate muffin there."

"And what exactly do I have to do with 'someone'," and damn it if he hadn't made the air-quotes as well, "being stupid enough to leave their food on your workbench?"

Again that look, as if John was being stupid on purpose when John really had no idea what Rodney was talking about. "Stop being so obvious about it," Rodney said, "if you want to do something together, all you have to do is ask. But it won't do your career any good if people start catching on to it." Rodney made a complicated figure with his fork while he was talking which might have meant 'I want more free cake' or 'I think you would look good with piercings in your ears'. It certainly didn't make any sense of their current conversation.

John was just about to open his mouth to say that he still had no clue what Rodney was going on about when Zelenka walked past them and said, "Secret admirer left Mars Bar at your station. Better hurry before someone takes it."

This led to a stunning leap in John's understanding just as he'd finally decided to actually eat what he had on his fork. Rodney's meaningful look really didn't come as a surprise anymore as John nearly asphyxiated on some of the mystery meat.

"See what I mean? Tune it down with the chocolate, Casanova."

By the time John had stopped coughing Rodney had finished his food and was already off, busing his tray. There really was no opportunity to tell Rodney that whoever was giving him the food gifts, it wasn't John.

This really wasn't okay. Rodney thought it was John. How the hell did he manage to get to that conclusion? Sure, John brought Rodney food sometimes, generally when Rodney was too busy to leave the lab. They'd eat together, but it really was just John catching up with a teammate and the CSO. Nothing more.

Secret admirer, Zelenka had said.

And Rodney had thought it was John.

John blinked at his food. Rodney thought John liked him and he didn't have any problem with it whatsoever. He'd said 'all you have to do is ask' and John put down his fork with care, picked up his tray and bused his half-eaten lunch. Rodney hadn't reacted in disgust or punched him. He hadn't told him to keep away, hadn't even told him their friendship was over.

After a detour to his quarters, John went to the lab, where Rodney was sitting all on his own as everybody else seemed to have either fled or was eating lunch. John tried not to think about it when he very, very carefully put the box of Oreos he'd been saving for a special occasion down in front of Rodney and patiently waited for Rodney to register that John was there and then Rodney finally looked up at him. "I figured we could watch a film today," John said and he barely got it past his dry throat.

But Rodney just smiled and pushed the Oreos right back at John, "Great, we can have these. I'll come by at 7. Can I pick the film?"

John blinked. He'd thought this whole … thing, would be something so different, that it would change something. But it really didn't, he figured as he pocketed his box of cookies and went back to sit in his quarters with his head between his knees. He'd really done it.

And it wasn't feeling good or like a relief, it had his heart beating in anticipation at what he'd started now and his stomach turning around on what little food he'd had. He'd never done anything like that, put his mouth where his heart was and reached out. John was US Military, he didn't … he couldn't … and then a warm hand rubbed his back and Rodney was muttering things like 'should have known you'd freak out' and 'you're such an idiot' and 'I should have known you've got more brains than that' and 'we don't have to if you don't want to' and 'I should go'. That last one got John to abruptly sit up and he carefully framed Rodney's startled face and pulled him closer, breathing a kiss on Rodney's lips. Suddenly John wasn't torn to pieces about it anymore; instead he leaned his forehead against Rodney's, Athosian style and closed his eyes.

"No, it's alright," John said, "this is what I want." And the funny thing was that it really was, even though he hadn't known it. Sometimes, John thought, Rodney was more of a genius than people gave him credit for.

The end.