“Huh,” said Daniel, stopping just inside the door to Atlantis’s mess hall.
“What?” Rodney demanded, then spotted what had caught the other man’s attention. “Huh.”
It was the tail end of the dinner hour and there were only a few people in the room – a group of scientists still arguing about their current project, a table of Marines discussing what looked like combat maneuvers, other groups in civilian clothes dotted around in twos and threes – and, at a table overlooking the water, sat two very attractive dark-haired people.
John was sprawled in his chair, one arm across its back, tipping it just slightly onto two legs, smirking his patented charm-the-natives smile. Vala sat across from him, chin resting on her interlaced fingers, countering with her own charming smile and what was probably a very nice view of her cleavage. She laughed prettily at something John said – they were too far away for Rodney and Daniel to hear – and the colonel smiled back, slouching even farther.
“She really is very good at that,” said Daniel, appreciatively.
“At what, flirting?” Rodney asked. John was talking again, motioning with his free hand, and Vala continued to look like she was hanging on every word. “Shouldn’t you be worried that your wife is flirting with my husband?”
Daniel shrugged. “If I worried about everyone that Vala flirted with, I wouldn’t have time for anything else. Vala flirts as easily as she breathes. It’s just interesting to see her doing it when she’s not conning someone for a mission. Or with me.”
“You’ve been married for however many years, and she still flirts with you like that?”
“All the time,” said Daniel, sounding equal parts fond and exasperated. “You mean, John doesn’t?”
“Not like that,” Rodney protested. “All… fake. Not that I’m implying that Vala is—”
“No, no, I can see it now. Flirting is Vala’s default setting – she doesn’t mean it most of the time. Even with me, she only plays it up more, knowing I’m a sure thing. She enjoys it. And I can tell John doesn’t.”
“No,” Rodney agreed. “He doesn’t – he can flirt, and he’s good at it, but it’s an effort. When it’s me, when it’s us, he doesn’t even talk half the time.” He paused, then scowled. “Not that it’s any of your business.”
Daniel laughed. “I think it’s great you found someone who married you for exactly who you are. I didn’t think there was anyone in the galaxy who could.”
“Yeah, I was lucky that Sheppard and I—” Rodney broke off, frowning. “Hey!” he yelled, but Daniel had already started across the mess hall.
“Daniel, darling,” said Vala, breaking off mid-eyelash-batting to smile at him. “And Rodney. We were wondering when you were going to join us.”
“I figured the lure of food would eventually get them out of the lab,” added John, but when he turned to look at Rodney, his smile was broad and genuine, crinkling the corners of his eyes. He tipped his chair back even further, so the back rested on Rodney’s hip, completely trusting his husband to catch him. “Any later and the kitchen would have been closed.”
Rodney snorted, as if John had never charmed the cooks into making food for him after hours. “Have you eaten?” he asked, instead.
“We were waiting for you,” said Vala. She stood, taking Daniel’s hand. “Come on, darling, John tells me they have these berries that…”
John put his chair back on four legs, catching Rodney’s hand, too. “Hey,” he said, his smile sliding into a smirk. “Are you and Daniel done playing with science for today? Because I’ve got a few experiments with biology of my own I want to try.”
He added an exaggerated eyebrow-wiggle, and Rodney kissed him, right there in the middle of the mess hall.
“I’m all yours,” Rodney said, and he had never meant it more.