The day after Atlantis arrived back on Earth should have been a momentous occasion for Rodney. They had saved the planet from a Wraith superhive ship using his wormhole drive, he had survived the encounter with the Wraith, and he had got the girl - Jennifer - and yet Rodney didn't feel like celebrating. He couldn't quite put his finger on it but something seemed wrong. At first he considered the possibility he was trapped in some virtual environment but he hadn't noticed any glitches in the Matrix or anything else peculiar, like in that other movie Sheppard had made him watch... Inception.
Thinking of John had ramped up that sense of wrongness another notch and he thought back to the last time he had seen him. It was back on the balcony as the cloaked Atlantis stealthily moved into position in view of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Everyone had been excited and he had Jennifer pressed against his side, and John had been.... alone. A solitary figure looking across the ocean pensively, distanced from everyone else as if he was deliberately drawing away from them. He couldn't recall seeing John in the mess hall for breakfast this morning, or at lunch. Of course he could be caught up in paperwork, and debriefings, but 'work' had rarely stopped John from finding some excuse to be in the mess hall.
"Major Lorne! Have you seen Sheppard?"
Lorne looked a little guilty or uneasy, Rodney couldn't really tell as his expression reading skills were still not up to 'normal human standards' despite Jennifer's best endeavors to make him more aware, and her constant despair. No one had cried in his presence for at least a week so he must have improved a little.
"Colonel Sheppard is preparing to leave the city."
"Hmm... I guess most people will be heading home to see family."
"Yeah," Lorne replied but he didn't sound too convinced, ramping up Rodney's worry yet another notch.
It took only one call to find out Sheppard had been transferred.
"No, no , no. You cannot replace Sheppard. He's... he's... He's the city's golden boy. Atlantis loves him. I lo-," Rodney cut himself off when he realized what he'd just intended to say without thought, shocked to realize it was the truth. He loved John. He had always loved John.
It took only seconds to process that information along with everything he needed to dissuade the military from reassigning John, calling in favors and even resorting to begging. At some point over the weeks that followed he and Jennifer split up. He wasn't sure when or where that happened but she transferred off of Atlantis and it never occurred to him to stop her. He felt a pang of regret but she hadn't been surprised by his fervent need to bring John home, more resigned, as if she had known all along.
The day John beamed back into Atlantis Rodney was the one to greet him, hugging him in the middle of the gate room. He felt the tension drain from John's body, and a soft brush of lips against his hair before they parted.
For once he could read and understand the expression on John's face, and see the warmth and love in his eyes, all for him. It was a good start.