So Much Alike
Rodney gave Daniel a look as he ate the man’s fruit cup. Dr. Jackson was still recovering from his injury and, even though he was about to be relocated back to Stargate Command on Earth for the rest of his time, Rodney couldn’t deny that the linguist was one of the most capable scientists he’d ever encountered.
He knew that Daniel couldn’t help but hold some resentment towards him. Daniel was the one who found the place, after all, and he was the one who had the most knowledge of the Ancients. Most of it firsthand from when he’d been Ascended. So, Rodney felt some obligation to share some time with him and try to, well, “reassure” wasn’t exactly the right word, as he was horrible at that…no, not reassure. Reaffirm. Right. That was the word he was looking for. He was trying to reaffirm that sending Rodney there, instead of Daniel, had been the right decision.
“I mean,” he said, swallowing a bite of peaches, “You did find something out about the base that we never would have known about, otherwise. It just might have been a ticking time bomb all on its’ own, after all.”
Daniel snorted and took another bite of a french fry.
“Yeah, right. Rodney, your bedside matter leaves a lot to be desired.”
McKay shrugged, not taking it personally. He knew he didn’t have a bedside manner, let alone any decent people skills, so he couldn’t find any fault in his words. However, he nearly choked on a piece of cherry when Daniel suddenly asked, “So, you seeing anyone?”
After nearly coughing up a lung, he replied, “Not that it’s any of your business, but no, not really.” He let out two more coughs and swallowed, clearing his throat, and nervously added, “Actually, now that you mention it, has Jennifer said anything about me?”
The doctor’s eyebrow shot up behind his glasses.
“Dr. Keller? You and…Dr. Keller…huh. Well, to be honest, no. And, might I add…you and Dr. Keller? Really?”
“Oh, ha ha, yes, poke fun if you like, but she and I have had several, more than several, I might add, dates, and she seems to find me rather…you know. And I happen to find her, well, rather much the same way. It is mutual, I can assure you,” he quickly added, taking another bite of the jello fruit cup and swallowing. “You sound just like Sheppard…”
Daniel sat up a bit further in his hospital bed, moving his tray to the side, and pushed his glasses up his nose with a finger and said, “Speaking of Sheppard, I couldn’t help but notice how well you two get along. Considering the fact that he’s military and you…well…aren’t, isn’t it some sort of statistical impossibility for you to make a friend in your line of work along with your, well, to put it bluntly, over-inflated sense of ego?”
Rodney’s shoulders immediately straightened and his blue eyes snapped towards Daniel’s.
“Just what are you implying?”
“Nothing, nothing, I just mean--”
“You just mean that you don’t think that someone like me could make a friend? Someone with my lack of…well, okay, fair point, I didn’t take offense earlier, I should feel no need to take offense now…but, wait, I am going to take offense! Yes, I am perfectly capable of making a friend! Why must it shock you so much that he and I are friends? You and General O’Neill are friends, and you two are about as different John and I are! This feels like some sort of pot and kettle metaphor, so, withhold your comments, if you please.”
At this, the linguist’s eyebrow shot up a second time, and he carefully said, “No need to get so defensive. I was just curious.”
They fell silent for a while and then Daniel said, “He’s not a General, anymore.”
“He’s not a General, anymore,” he repeated, taking off his glasses. “He’s, uh…retired.”
Rodney swallowed the bite he’d just taken and looked over at Daniel, not quite sure that he’d heard him correctly, even though he had already repeated himself. He thought about saying something…but instead scooped out another spoonful of jello and swallowed.
And then he asked, in an incredulous tone, “Why’d he retire?”
The archaeologist gave him a look that he didn’t quite understand and said, enigmatically, “He has certain differing…views…on several of the Air Force’s policies. He decided it would be best if he simply retired. He doesn’t want to do missions anymore, so…yeah. It all worked out.”
Rodney nodded, but still didn’t quite understand why Jack O’Neill, the man who made Sheppard look normal by comparison, had retired. He loved the work too much, didn’t he? So…why had he left?
“He left? Just because he had differing views on Air Force policy? As long as I’ve known him he’s butted heads with the Air Force, so why should one more issue be, well, an issue for him? That doesn’t seem entirely like him,” he added, taking another bite of the fruit cup. “I mean, he usually just ignores them and does his own thing and eventually they come around or they do nothing. That’s been their unspoken relationship for years, so why should it change now?”
Daniel gave him another look.
“Because this time it’s personal.”
Rodney tapped his spoon once on the edge of the cup and said, “By personal, you mean…”
The archaeologist sat up a little bit more and then said, “You know, you suck at reading between the lines, McKay. I thought by now you would have figured it out.”
He immediately took offense.
“Excuse me? I am perfectly capable of reading between the lines, thank you very much, and, may I say, I am offended that you would talk to me like I am a child and would not understand what ‘personal reasons’ means when I am—oh holy god, he’s involved with someone in his command, that’s the only reason why he’d retire, isn’t it?”
Daniel smiled and nodded.
“Now he gets it,” he said, reaching for the blanket and pulling it up from where it had slipped. “Yes, he is involved with--”
“Colonel Carter,” Rodney interrupted. “Dammit, I knew it! I knew something was off when I saw her last! There was something different with how she was acting with me, and I should have picked up on the fact that she obviously was no longer single. Had she been single, there still would have been that thing, that undeniable spark between us, but it wasn’t there, which means she and Jack are--”
“Not a couple,” interjected Daniel, and the scientist looked befuddled.
“Wait…if it isn’t Sam, then who else would it be? I mean,” he said, scoffing, “It’s not like he has the most active social life. The only person other than Sam that he hangs out with is you, and we both know…” His voice trailed as he saw the look on the linguist’s face, one eyebrow arched with a small smirk.
“Oh god…him…and you?”
Daniel rolled his eyes.
“Is it really so hard to believe, McKay? Yes, him and me.” He adjusted his glasses. “He’s never cared for the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, so he decided that it was time for him to, well, retire. And he and I are…very happy. Actually,” he added, smiling broadly, “Things are the best they’ve ever been between us now that we’re not, you know, not asking or not telling anymore…”
Rodney stared at him, trying to wrap his head around it, not quite believing what he was hearing.
“You and Jack are…really…together?”
“Yeah. We are.”
“But how?” he bluntly asked, putting the fruit cup down on the side table, looking utterly perplexed.
The linguist smiled, as if happy he’d been asked the question, and then replied, “Well, we’d kind of been dancing around it for years, to be honest. Ever since he brought me back from Abydos there was a certain respect that he held for me, and I had the same respect for him. It just sort of…grew. It took a while for both of us to get our heads out of our asses, but…yeah. Best decision I’ve ever made, no contest.”
Rodney simply looked at him. He then gestured with one hand and exclaimed, “Since Abydos?! That’s, that’s like…over ten years! Are you telling me that, that, that the two of you took that long to figure out that you had feelings for each other?”
Daniel nodded again.
“Yes. It’s amazing what years of repression and an air force lifestyle will do to a man,” he dryly retorted.
Rodney rolled his eyes, but at the same time he wondered about the two of them. Jack and Daniel? Really? They seemed so…different. Jack was military, whereas Dr. Jackson was a man of science. Well, soft science, since linguistics and archaeology weren’t anywhere near the kind of science that he did, but still. It merited some thought. As he thought it over, he reached across and picked the fruit cup back up, taking a slow bite, and mulled it around in his head.
So…together. Huh. Interesting. He wondered how it worked. Was Jack the pitcher or catcher? Unable to help himself, Rodney opened his mouth to ask, but was cut off when Daniel gave him a look and said, “To answer your question, he’s the catcher. Most of the time.”
“What?” Rodney spluttered. “I wasn’t, I mean, I don’t care that…how dare you think that I--!”
The archaeologist rolled his eyes.
“Oh, please. It was the first thing you thought of. By the way,” he added, “You’re the first person to know, so, please, keep it quiet for now.”
He looked away and then looked back. Finally, he asked what he’d really wanted to ask.
“Daniel,” he started, less than sure if he was going to like the answer. “Why’d you tell me first?”
At that, Daniel’s eyes went wide, and he looked at Rodney in surprise and said, incredulously, “Seriously? You don’t know?”
The doctor glared.
“Well, obviously not! This is strange, to say the least, and the fact that an air force general retired just so he could be with you is sort of still not quite processed in my brain at the moment, so I was hoping for a little bit more clarification, here! I mean, out of all people, you decided to tell me. Was it just because I was being persistent, or was it because you actually trust me?”
“Neither, actually. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s no reason to explain it to you. My god, you are the dumbest smart person I’ve ever met.”
“Was that an insult or a compliment?”
The linguist gave him a look and snapped, “Of course, you’d take that as a compliment. Why am I not surprised?”
Just as he started to snap back at him, Sheppard walked into the room, looking pleased at seeing Daniel awake. He approached the two of them, one hand resting on the gun at his hip, while the other one reached out and placed a firm grip on Rodney’s shoulder.
“Hope you’re not talking him to death just after we got him back, Rodney,” he said with a wry grin.
The doctor rolled his eyes.
“Oh, ha ha. Very funny. No, he and I were just discussing the fact that General O’Neill has just retired,” he said, taking yet another bite of the fruit cup. Jackson hadn’t told him he couldn’t mention the man’s retirement, just the fact that he and Jack were involved. He wasn’t breaking any kind of promise.
John’s eyebrow shot up at that.
“Retired? When did this happen?”
Daniel answered, giving Rodney a glare through his glasses, “A little over six months ago,” and McKay simply shrugged, unaffected by the linguist’s glare. John’s hand dropped from his weapon and moved to his hair, mussing it slightly, and then he looked at Daniel. And then at Rodney. And then at Daniel, again.
Licking his lips, the military man hesitantly said, “Uh, Dr. Jackson…any particular reason why you’re upset with Rodney? I mean,” he quickly reassured him, “I don’t blame you, I’m just curious if it’s for the same reasons why I usually am.”
The linguist looked up at him, one eyebrow arched, and unexpectedly replied with the question, “John, what’re you doing tonight?”
Daniel rolled his eyes.
“I said, what’re you doing tonight? Dr. Keller has cleared me to get up and move around in about an hour and I’m looking for someone to show me around, maybe grab a bite to eat after? Just you and me?”
At this, Rodney’s eyes shot up, not quite sure if he was hearing him correctly. Was Daniel Jackson asking out John Sheppard on a date? Right in front of him? He was aware of DADT wasn’t he? Why the hell would he ask Sheppard out if he was with O’Neill? Of course, John would say no—
“Sure, why not?”
Rodney, for some inexplicable reason, felt his stomach turn at hearing John say yes to the archaeologist. Why did it bother him that his friend was spending time with a colleague? Well, the two of them weren’t exactly colleagues, but…still. It bothered him. And he didn’t know why.
Suddenly feeling awkward, he stood up from where he sat on the end of the bed and said, “Well, I have a few things to check back at the lab, so…I guess I’ll be going then. Uh…see you later, John?”
Sheppard absently nodded and waved a hand in his general direction.
“Yeah, sure. Later, then.”
As Rodney left the room, Daniel said something to John, and Sheppard laughed. Rodney knew that laugh. That was normally the kind of laugh only he ever managed to get out of him.
Feeling every insecurity rise up at once, the scientist left the room as quickly as he could. It doesn’t mean anything, he tried to mentally reassure himself as he strode quickly down the corridor to the computer lab. Dr. Jackson’s just being nice, he’s with General O’Neill, and he wouldn’t try to—Try to what? There was not a single word to finish that sentence that made any sense for him to worry about. Try to…be friends with him? Be a better friend than Rodney was? Be…well, that last one might be a legitimate reason to worry. But still. Nothing to worry about.
He decided to not think about it, and threw himself into his work, brushing off Zelenka’s usual questions. Work. He just needed to work.
A few hours later, however, he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on, so he marshalled what little courage he had and ventured outside the lab, only to nearly run into Ronon. Quickly, not really thinking about it, he asked, “Ronon, have you seen John?”
The burly man grinned.
“He’s in the mess hall.” Just as Rodney turned to go, however, Ronon added, “Daniel Jackson seems to be a good companion for him.”
At that, Rodney pivoted sharply on his heel and asked, “What do you mean by that?”
The tracker shrugged.
“Sheppard doesn’t seem so tense. Why do you ask? Jealous?” he goaded, a spark in his eye and a smirk on his mouth.
“What? No, I’m not—well, I mean—hold on, what’re you trying to imply?”
Ronon let out a bark of something not quite laughter and replied enigmatically with, “The doctor was right,” and turned and walked away down the corridor, while Rodney yelled at his retreating back, “What do you mean the doctor was right? Ronon?”
Feeling even more agitated, he walked as quickly as he could (without running) over to the mess hall. Ronon’s words rang in his head the entire time, practically keeping time with his hurried footsteps. The doctor was right. The doctor was right. The doctor was right. What the hell did that mean?
As soon as he stepped inside, the weird, sick feeling returned to his stomach as he saw John laughing once more, Daniel laughing along with him. Instead of sitting at one of the main tables that could easily seat six, they were sitting at a table for two in the far-right corner, intimately sitting across from each other; intimately meaning that the table was small enough that their’ knees were touching under the table. The feeling in his stomach worsened.
He turned to go, but then John’s voice rang out.
“Rodney! Hey, pull up a chair!”
Fighting against his instincts to simply run, he reluctantly turned and noisily dragged a chair over to their table, feeling like an awkward third wheel as he attempted to scoot close enough for it to look like he was actually a part of their small pair.
“Hey, Rodney,” said Daniel, stirring his soda with a red coffee stirrer. “Where’ve you been?”
At this, John scoffed and answered before the scientist could, “In the lab, of course. Zelenka driving you nuts already? That’s the only reason why you’d leave after only three hours.”
Deciding to simply go with it, Rodney nodded.
“Yeah. You know Zelenka.”
John shifted in his chair, and his knee was now pressed up against Rodney’s. Normally, he would have said something sarcastic and shoved it out of the way, but this time he said nothing. Sounding braver than he actually felt, he quickly asked, “So, why the corner table? Plenty of open seats out there. It’s a bit cramped, isn’t it?”
Before John could say a word, Daniel answered, “It was kinda packed when we got here. Dinner rush, apparently.”
Picking up where he left off, Sheppard supplied, “And we just sort of, you know, got caught up in conversation and forgot to move…”
Rodney simply nodded, unsure of what else to say. After a brief period of awkward silence, Daniel finally broke it with, “So, what’re you currently working on, Rodney?”
Knowing that he didn’t really care, he thought about giving a flippant answer, but his ego won out and he rattled off the several things that he had been working on, trying (and most likely failing) to impress John. But he wasn’t sure why he felt the need to impress him. John was already his friend, so why did he suddenly have the urge to…what? Mark his territory? Stake his claim? That made no sense. They were friends, after all. Just friends.
But…still. He had to make sure that Daniel knew that he couldn’t sway John over to his side. Not that they were on opposite sides, or anything. God, why was he acting like this?
Daniel gave him a look over the edge of his glasses, while John’s eyes glazed, and he said, “Sorry I asked,” and John smirked at that and replied, “Oh, I’ve learned to never ask in the first place.”
Realizing that he’d just done exactly the wrong thing, the doctor felt his minimal confidence shatter. It wasn’t going to matter what he said, there just wasn’t any room for him at that table: physically or otherwise. Daniel had something that he didn’t: people skills.
Feeling as uncomfortable and out of place as he’d felt in the infirmary, Rodney abruptly stood up, causing his chair to scrape on the floor, and then clumsily put the chair back and said, “I just remembered that there’s some important…stuff…that I have to get done before tonight. I’ll, uh, see you later,” and then scrambled out of the mess as quickly as he could, trying to preserve what very little was left of his dignity. He was just going to concede the fight to Daniel.
Not twenty minutes after he’d left, he'd buried himself back into his work, and was silently grateful that Zelenka was gone, leaving him alone in the lab. A knock came at the door, and his eyes snapped up to see Daniel standing in the doorway.
“Dr. Jackson,” he said brusquely. “What brings you by?”
The archaeologist rolled his eyes and stepped into the lab, shoving his hands into his pockets, and said, “Oh, c’mon, Rodney. Don’t play dumb with me. You know exactly why I’m here.”
Rodney swallowed, and turned back to the clear whiteboard, deciding that maybe if he just ignored him, he would go away. Of course, he didn’t have such luck. As he tried to finish an equation, he heard Jackson walk the rest of the way into the room, his footsteps loud and coming to a stop right behind him.
Before Daniel could say a word, Rodney snapped out, “Look, I actually have quite a bit of work to do and you being here is only--”
“Only what? Making you distracted?” the linguist interrupted. “I find that hard to believe considering that you’re already on the wrong side of the board,” he quipped, and that was when the scientist realized that he was right. He let out an exasperated sigh and dropped his hand.
“Okay, fine. Yes, you’re distracting me, but not for the reasons that you’re thinking of. I am more than capable of realizing that you are merely trying to make a new friend, as you have a limited selection, and I am understanding enough to be willing to let you borrow John for the time being; while you’re here, that is, and--”
“Borrow? Excuse me, but did you actually just say that I could ‘borrow’ your friend?”
Unsure of how to respond, Rodney swallowed and fidgeted with the marker in his fingers. Sometimes he cursed his ability to speak so quickly, because it occasionally backfired on him, like just now. How was he supposed to fix what he’d just said?
Finally, he found his words and replied, “What, what I meant to say was that you can, you can spend your time however you wish, and…and if it happens to be with John, then…that’s fine, too.”
Daniel rolled his eyes.
“Oh, I am so pleased that I have your approval,” he sarcastically drawled, and Rodney couldn’t help but be reminded of Jack O’Neill in the way he said it. “Now that I know that you approve, a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I am so glad that you’re okay with me being his friend, too!”
Attempting to recover, he stumbled over his words, replying with, “That, that’s not what I meant, Jackson, and you know it, I, I’m just…”
He paused, and Daniel raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Just what?” He took a step closer. “Over protective? Territorial?” Rodney scoffed. “Jealous?”
Rodney swallowed and tried to take step back, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, but found the clear whiteboard directly at his back, keeping him caged. He licked his lips and locked his eyes firmly with the archaeologist’s left shoulder and muttered, “I don’t care for what you’re implying, Dr. Jackson. Yes, it’s true I hold John Sheppard in high regard, as well as consider him a close friend in many ways, but he and I are merely--”
“My god, just how deep is that closet you’ve fallen into, Rodney?” Daniel exclaimed.
The man in question was certain he looked like a deer in headlights.
“What…what are you talking about?”
Daniel’s posture relaxed, and he leaned against the nearest table and said, “You…you really don’t realize it, do you?” Continuing to feel lost, and certain that it was showing on his face, Rodney said nothing, but it didn’t matter as Daniel spoke back up, accusatorially saying, “You’re in love with him, McKay. I’m not entirely sure how long, but it’s been long enough that you’ve gone straight into denial. Which, by the way, is not a river in Egypt. I should know, after all,” he finished with a smirk, and Rodney felt his hackles rise…and then immediately fall.
Was…was Daniel right? But, no. Friends. That’s all they’d ever been. Just because he’d never liked it when Sheppard had kissed a girl, or spent time with other people (mainly women), or that he occasionally had fantasies involving brown eyed, dark haired military men, that didn’t mean—
He was right.
Daniel just stared at him, trying and failing to not smile at his epiphany. “You’re…,” Daniel gently pressed, trying to get him the rest of the way there, while Rodney continued to have a small freak-out. The linguist waited a bit longer, and then let out a frustrated sigh.
“Rodney.” He looked at him. “Just say it.”
He hesitated a bit longer, and then finally managed, “I…I…I can’t.”
“Yeah…that’s what I figured.”
And he turned and left, leaving Rodney feeling very much alone. And more confused than ever. It wasn’t like he’d gone looking for it. He had always felt that his relationship with John was that of a best friend, and nothing more than that. Sure, he knew that he was attracted to men on occasion, but he had never thought of John in that way before…had he? But, yes. He had. He just hadn’t realized it until Daniel, of all people, had pointed it out to him.
How was he supposed to suddenly come to terms with the fact that he’d apparently been in love with John Sheppard for the past…oh…three years, at least?
He tried to focus on the work on the board, moving to the correct side, but gave up after a while. Nope. It wasn’t happening tonight. Giving in, he put down the marker and left the lab coat in the room and headed down the corridor to his quarters…but at the last second, changed his mind and headed for the pier.
It had been a long time since he’d been there. The last time he’d been at the pier, he’d gone with John. That had always been their spot. Now it was…just a spot. He sat down on the end of it, his feet dangling over the edge, and he stared into the distance. The sun was just going down, and the colors were more vivid than anything on earth; swathes of gold and deep pink, along with stripes of meridian orange. It made him wish that John was…
No. Don’t go there, he told himself. Going there meant thinking about the fact that he’d been lying to himself for three years.
He didn’t like thinking about that.
Instead, Rodney continued to watch the sun drop beneath the horizon and stared as the stars came out. The nights on Atlantis were stunning, and he and John had spent time together trying to come up with new names for all of the new constellations. Some of them were massive, and others, like the one they called “Cup and Saucer”, were merely a few meager stars.
He didn’t know how long he sat there, only that the temperature was dropping and his coat wasn’t anywhere near warm enough.
He shivered for a long while, ignoring the chill for as long as he could, and then caved. Sitting outside moping wasn’t doing him any favors, so there was no point in staying. Letting out a frustrated sigh, he pulled himself up to his feet to walk back…and nearly ran into John.
“Woah, there,” he said, the older man’s hand up on his shoulders to stabilize him. “Where’re you going? I brought beer.”
He lifted his other hand and Rodney smiled at seeing a pack of Molson’s, but then his smile dropped, his brow furrowed, and he asked, “Wait, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be showing Dr. Jackson around the place?”
John rolled his eyes and sat down on the end of the pier, tugging on the scientist’s sleeve to get him to do the same, and drawled, “Yeah, I was. Until he said something to me that sort of, well…let’s just say that I’m kind of an idiot.”
He threw back a long sip of beer, and Rodney felt a strange feeling in his gut as he sat back down beside him, and he had the vague inkling that something similar had happened to John that had already happened with him. He quickly grabbed a beer to keep his hands occupied.
“Oh?” he said lightly, feigning ignorance, palming his Molson and popping the top with his ring. “And, uh…what makes you say that?”
Sheppard swallowed and looked down.
“Well, a few things, actually. Daniel and I were talking about Atlantis and how, you know, each of us got here in our own way…and then he asked me why I was still here.”
He paused for a long moment, neither of them saying anything, until Rodney hesitantly asked, “Why would he ask you that?”
John looked out over the water and took another long swig of his beer, and then said, “I was offered a permanent position at Cheyenne Mountain with Stargate Command a little over two years ago. They said the position’s open for me whenever I want to take it, even though I’ve told them I’m not interested.”
“Why the hell not?” Rodney snapped, gesturing widely with the beer in his hand. “You could be back home! Earth side, for crying out loud! No more wondering when the next wraith attack is going to be, no more wondering whether or not you’re even going to survive the day, let alone the next week! No more crises, no more weird diseases, no more life or death situations! You, you, you could have beer and football and women on a regular basis and live a, well, somewhat normal life! Why haven’t you taken it?”
Instead of answering, he took another long drink.
Finally, he said, “That’s a good question. If you’d asked me an hour ago, I would have told you it was because I love the work here too much, I have a responsibility to Atlantis, and I don’t want to leave my friends behind…”
His voice trailed, and Rodney gently prodded.
John sighed and rolled his beer between his hands.
“But now, I have to be honest with myself. You know,” he quickly added, “Daniel is…remarkably observant. Annoyingly so, actually.”
“Well, yes, but what does that have to do with…?” Rodney’s question remained unfinished as John gave him a look, one eyebrow arched, and he quickly turned his head away. “Oh. So…he talked to you, too. About…”
“Yeah. He did.”
A long silence stretched between them, interspersed with each of them taking long pulls from their Molson’s, neither of them looking at each other, resolutely trying to ignore what now lingered in the air between them, still unspoken. The words that neither of them were willing to say. Goddammit, Jackson, was the only thought on both of their minds. Why’d he have to go and ruin a good thing?
Finally, John said, “I never took the job, Rodney, because…well, because of you.”
“Gee, thanks,” the scientist snarked, taking it the wrong way, along with another sip of his beer.
“No, not like that,” Sheppard quickly corrected. “I mean…dammit, this is coming out all wrong. Like I’ve said before, I’m no good with, you know, talking about my…feelings.”
“Something we have in common, then.”
John rolled his eyes, and continued with, “Besides that fact, Daniel was right about a lot of what he said to me, and I’m not going to keep on lying to you or to myself any longer.” He looked up at Rodney, locking eyes with him. “I never took the job because I…I couldn’t leave you. And not in the way you’re thinking,” he added, cutting the scientist off before he could make a flippant remark. “You’re more than capable of handling yourself in the field. I just…you know…you’re my friend. You’re…my best friend…”
Rodney couldn’t help but smile at that, and looked down at the water beneath them.
“You’re the one person who I know will always have my back, the one person who won’t…who won’t…” He looked back up at him. “Ah, screw it,” he muttered, dropping his beer, and knocking over Rodney’s as he leaned in and suddenly put his lips on the scientist’s.
Rodney was frozen. What was Sheppard doing?
John suddenly seemed to realize that Rodney wasn’t reacting, and he immediately pulled back, saying, “Sorry, I shouldn’t’ve, I mean--”
Rodney cut him off, speaking rapidly, “No, no, it’s alright, I’m not complaining here! Kissing is good, very good, and I would have totally kissed you back just then, but I wasn’t really expecting it, so I didn’t really have a chance to, you know, react to what was happening! I mean, kissing is a new thing, surprising, really, but I enjoy those kinds of surprises--”
John smirked and leaned in.
“Shut up,” he whispered just before putting his lips on the younger man’s again. This time, they both seemed to be on the same page, and Rodney leaned into it, getting used to the feel of stubble against his chin. They took their’ time, both of them trying to remove the space between them, inching closer on the pier.
They started off slow, tentative, neither of them ever having kissed a man before, but after a while, things slowly heated up, and soon Rodney found himself running a tongue along John’s lower lip and they both let out a sound of relief as their lips parted and their tongues finally met. Yes. This was what they’d been missing. They took their time, until the scientist finally pulled himself back, one hand on John’s knee, and licked his lips and said, “I could get used to this.”
“Yeah. Me, too.”
At that, Rodney threw him a grin as well and added, “I have to ask…what did Jackson say to you exactly?”
John looked away and then let out an annoyed sound and replied, “He said that I had the same problem as the General. I put my needs at the bottom of every other list in my life…” His voice trailed for a moment, and he looked back at Rodney and added, “Also, that I should get my head out of my ass and just do something about it.”
“That sounds like Jackson.” He reached over as if to grab John’s hand, hesitated, and then grabbed it anyway and said, “I’m willing to take a risk here, if you are. I mean, if this was a one-time thing, I get it, I just don’t want us to act like this never happened, because, to me, its kind of a big deal and--”
He arched an eyebrow and gave him a look and drawled, “Yes. I’m willing.”
The scientist’s shoulders dropped in relief, but then tensed back up as his worries rose to the surface, and he blurted out, “Oh god, what about DADT? I’m gonna get you court marshalled! I’m gonna get you kicked out of the Air Force and it’ll be all my fault, and--”
“They can’t touch me out here, Rodney,” John quickly snapped out. “This isn’t an Earth base, it’s an Atlantis base. And, to be honest, things are looking…better in that area. I’ve heard some rumours it’s gonna repealed sometime soon. So…don’t worry about it.”
He squeezed his hand to reassure him, and Rodney relaxed.
“Oh. Oh, then…that’s good. That’s good, then.”
“Yeah. Now, care to finish some beers with me?”
Rodney nodded, and stood up, grabbing the pack of remaining Molson’s, and John looked up at him, confused.
“Where are you…?”
The younger man gave him a look, one eyebrow arched.
“I thought, you know, maybe we could…finish them in my room?” he asked hopefully, a playful look in his eye, and John jumped to his feet.
“I like the way you think, Dr. McKay,” he muttered into his ear as he brushed past him, and they both grinned. Yes. Daniel was right. They were different, but they were alike in the ways that mattered the most. So much alike.