Chapter 1: Golden Boy
It takes John's reassignment from Atlantis for Rodney to realize it's not just the city that loves him.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for logans_girl2001
McSheplets prompt 249: The day after
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.
Chapter 2: Pride
John never expected to reach twenty-five years of military service.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for Trobadora
McSheplets prompt 250: 25 years
John had never expected to make it to twenty-five years of military service. There had been so many close calls over those years - from Afghanistan all the way to Pegasus - where he had truly believed he would not live to see the next sunrise. Combat missions that went south, experiments that went awry with one almost collapsing the entire universe, and a race of life-sucking creatures that threatened all human life in two galaxies, including his own. He rubbed his chest where he still had a faint scar to remind him of feeling his life force sucked from his body by Todd. Fortunately returned or he would not have made it a few more hours let alone lived to see twenty-five years service.
As he thought back over the years he realized there was a lot more he had never anticipated or expected.
After the black mark on his personnel jacket he had never expected to rise higher than a major. He reached up to run a finger over the single star on his collar - Brigadier General John Sheppard. He wondered if his father would have been proud of him eventually, or whether he would have continued to focus on all the things he hadn't liked about his youngest son - joining the military rather than his father's business, divorcing his father's choice of bride for him - marrying another guy. It's was moot now as his father was long dead, and although his family's opinion had never truly mattered to him, he was glad he had his brother's love and approval.
John looked across the room into the flustered blue eyes of his husband, watching hands twisting in anxiety. Rodney looked good in a tailcoat with a pristine white vest, shirt, and bow tie. He walked over and took his hands, stilling their movement.
"You're going to do great, Rodney," he insisted as he released Rodney's hands so he could straighten the slightly skewed bow tie.
Actions had always been louder than words, and a soft kiss gave the reassurance Rodney needed.
A few hours later it was all over and John smiled into the flare of paparazzi flashes, a propriety arm on his husband as Rodney showed off his Nobel Award.
Although accepting a Nobel kind of trumped twenty-five years of military service, John couldn't think of a better way to celebrate this day than seeing the triumphant, happy smile on Rodney's face.
Chapter 3: Expertise
Too many experts could be a beautiful or a dangerous thing.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for Mekare
McSheplets prompt 251: expert
The problem with the scientists in Atlantis was everyone was an expert in their respective field. Worse, they all knew it and took great pains to ensure everyone else around them knew it too, and that worked out pretty well overall, pushing forward the boundaries of human understanding, until two respective fields clashed or become one field. Teyla likened them to a bunch of children squabbling over a favorite toy, and no one paid too much attention unless it got out of hand and endangered others. Unfortunately that seemed to happen far too often as far as Rodney was concerned, with one scientist trying to prove their superiority over another by taking unnecessary risks.
Rodney had lost too many people that way, including one of his best friends to exploding tumors - for a time.
Those that survived their idiocy felt the weight of his wrath before slinking back to their laboratories, usually maligning him under their breaths but at least they were still alive. The majority tended to settle down after that, learning to share their insights rather than compete against others, and discovered it made them a different kind of expert, broadening their knowledge of their own field by opening up their minds to the expertise of others. Some never learned and eventually paid the price but a few of the so-called experts found themselves booked on the fastest route back to Earth to eventually end up in the back waters of the SGC or Area 51, or drummed out of the Stargate program altogether.
"I have noticed a pattern," Radek stated.
"For those you send back to Earth."
"Other than their stupidity and distinct lack of survival instincts?"
"They endangered your Colonel Sheppard."
Rodney winced. "That's the most stupid thing... Everything we do here endangers... everyone."
Radek pushed his glasses up from where he had been staring pointedly at Rodney over the top of them, and Rodney spluttered because now Radek had pointed it out it had become so clear to him. The latest so-called expert had played around with the environment suits without informing anyone, causing a dangerous mix of air that had made John and another soldier lose consciousness as they checked out a rare world with a poisonous atmosphere. Fortunately the tampering had come to light quickly and Rodney had taken a Puddlejumper through the Stargate with Lorne and Ronon, donning untampered-with suits to rescue both soldiers before they asphyxiated.
As usual he had paced a hole into the infirmary floor waiting for news from Carson before being allowed to see John, and hopefully take him home to their shared quarters and large comfortable bed. He'd been particularly hard on Stevenson, threatening him with attempted murder charges until the man was as white as a ghost. He'd already drawn up the request to have Stevenson sent back on the Daedalus.
"Doctor Stevenson is young and foolish, but he understands now the consequences of actions and is wiser for it. Let him stay."
Rodney ground his teeth as his memories flitted between the ghostly pale faces of both John and Stevenson, one from a near-death experience and the other from the shock of realizing what he had done in some convoluted desire to prove his expertise.
Later, with John tucked up beside him in their bed he decided to ask John's opinion on what he should do with Stevenson.
"I hear the gas levels in certain... under parts of the city need adjustment. I'm sure Stevenson can put his expertise to use making the air cleaner down there."
Rodney grinned and held John tightly, deciding he would bow to John's expertise this time.
Chapter 4: Manners
John makes sure Rodney doesn't miss meatloaf night.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for twinsarein
McSheplets Prompt 252: dinner
It was nothing special, just a couple of filled trays from the mess hall but John knew Rodney would appreciate the gesture, especially as John knew how much he hated to miss meatloaf night. He shook his head because it was his least favorite food on the weekly menu but Rodney loved it and John would have had to live with Rodney's whining until next week if he missed out. He balanced the trays carefully as he made his way through Atlantis to the laboratory Rodney had claimed as his own, not surprised to find Rodney the only person still working this late in the evening. Likely, he had dismissed the others on the pretext that he needed the peace and quiet to think but they all knew Rodney's bark was far worse than his bite, and that he had a soft spot for his science team.
Deliberately, John slid the tray across the top of the bench, a loud screech of metal on metal, gaining the expected startled and irritated reaction right up until Rodney spotted what was on the tray.
"How about you take a break and eat," John ordered, though it took barely a second's hesitation before Rodney was digging in and mumbling ecstatically around a mouthful.
Jennifer had always hated that about Rodney, chastising him so often for talking with his mouth full he had started to look miserable every time he entered the mess hall. Of course it hadn't stopped him as all good manners tended to fly out the window once he got onto an exciting topic of conversation. John and Teyla had always managed to chastise him with a pointed look or a raised finger but Jennifer had never managed to master that skill with Rodney, making both of them miserable and uncomfortable. He doubted it was the only reason why she had decided to take another posting on Earth when Atlantis returned to Pegasus, but he had heard them arguing a lot in the days leading up to her transfer. Last time he had seen her she was smiling on the arm of another guy. Happy, and he was glad for her. Carson Mark II had taken back the CMO position but John still felt a little guilty for being glad Jennifer was no longer in the city, and not just because she was a brilliant doctor and surgeon so a great loss to the medical team on Atlantis. He was fully aware his feelings towards her were colored by his previously hidden desire for Rodney.
Previously hidden, but not any more. Not since he finally made a move and discovered Rodney had wondered all along but, like John, he hadn't wanted to risk their friendship if he'd been wrong.
Rodney practically inhaled the last mouthful of meatloaf and gravy before John was even halfway through his dinner choice.
John put down his utensils and dug an Almond Snickers bar out of his top pocket.
"Hey!" he called out as it was snatched from his fingers, the wrapper torn off, and a big bite taken.
"You hate almonds," Rodney mumbled around a mouthful of chocolate.
"But I do value my fingers."
Rodney looked remorseful for all of two seconds before he grabbed John's hand and pressed a kiss against his fingers. John rolled his eyes and slowly finished his dinner. Afterwards he leaned over Rodney and kissed him hard and dirty, leaving Rodney stunned breathless and flustered. He ambled off with an evil smile that grew wider at Rodney's sudden realization and exclamation.
"Hey! What about the trays?"
Chapter 5: Explosion
The explosion rocked the city, throwing Rodney off his feet.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for juniperphoenix
McSheplets Prompt 253: explode
The explosion rocked the city, throwing Rodney off his feet to fetch up against the wall in his laboratory. He sat stunned for a moment as the Ancient klaxon blared out in its single strident alarm, his mind going through all the possibilities and none of them were good. Rodney pushed up to his feet and raced towards the nearest transporter, flicking on his radio and yet unable to think clearly because he knew John was somewhere in the city.
"Heading to the gate room."
Rodney closed his eyes momentarily in relief at the sound of John's voice. This feeling of dread and relief was nothing new to Rodney and he had felt it long before they took that final step in their relationship, moving from friends to lovers.
"No, meet me in the chair room," he ordered because he needed someone with a strong ATA gene to check the integrity of the city following the explosion. He needed to be able to order repair crews to the areas that mattered most to avoid an even bigger explosion and ensure Atlantis stayed afloat. He opened his comm to all channels. "This is McKay. Status report!"
Reports came flooding in from around the city. Some were insignificant and he set them lower in his mental action list, almost forgetting it all when he rounded the corner near the Chair room to see John just ahead of him. By the time he reached the door John was already in the reclining chair, the blue activation lighting up all the panels in the room. A holographic image of the city formed above John's head and Rodney allowed Atlantis to guide both his and John's thoughts to where the damage was more life-threatening. Rodney knew his expertise was needed in several areas and with a tight smile he left at a fast pace.
"Rodney! Wait up!"
"What are you...? I need you in the Chair."
"Lorne's taking over the Chair. I need to ensure the safety of our Chief Scientist."
He wanted to argue because the Chair Room was the safest place in the entire city, and he needed John to be safe, but he knew it would be a waste of breath. John had never run from danger before, and he would never let Rodney raced towards danger without being by his side. It was a humbling thought even as it scared Rodney half to death but this was what he had signed up for when he finally admitted his feelings for John after everything fell through with Jennifer.
Hours later, with the worst of the danger over Rodney sank down against a wall and drew his knees to his chest, tired beyond belief from the adrenaline rush and the urgency of saving the city. They had lost three people, two at the epicenter of the blast and one who had fallen from a balcony, reminding him of Kate's death all those years earlier. The two scientists had arrived on Atlantis while she was floating off San Francisco, too arrogant in their own belief of brilliance to check with him or Radek before adjusting the parameters on the star drive, causing a partial ignition that erupted into a fireball. Rodney had repaired the immediate damage to ensure the safety of the city and its inhabitants but it would take weeks to get the star drive back online. Radek and other repair crews were handling damaged systems competently as usual, for which he was grateful. He'd lucked out when Radek Zelenka joined the expedition all those years ago, almost the last minute, transferring in from Siberia of all places. Having been stationed in Siberia years earlier he could understand why a one-way expedition to another galaxy might be more desirable.
"Hey," John stated softly as he sank down beside Rodney.
"Hey yourself," he answered softly.
He could feel the reassuring thrum of the city both physically and mentally through the wall behind his back, but was comforted more by the warmth bleeding through from John as he leaned against him. Safe for another day.
Chapter 6: Misunderstanding... or Not
Jeannie's invite for Christmas was extended to John rather than Jennifer.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for lilyleia78 - a Christmas theme :)
McSheplets Prompt 254: misunderstanding
Rodney thought it had to be a mistake because he distinctly recalled telling Jeannie he had a girlfriend but the invite for Christmas had been extended to John rather than Jennifer. He had not noticed any friction between Jeannie and Jennifer when they last met but even he had to admit he was clueless when it came to such things. For all he knew this was simply a misunderstanding between him and his sister, with her refusing to believe he could actually get a girlfriend, and had nothing to do with Jennifer at all. Yet when he mentioned it to Jennifer she seemed strangely not surprised, told him she had other plans that didn't need to involve him, and had been a little distant with him since then.
John was just as clueless as him so all he gained was a nonchalant shrug of acceptance for the invitation.
"Why? Have you a burning desire for Tofu Turkey?"
"I'm sure it'll taste great, Rodney, and I like Jeannie... and Kaleb," he added before Rodney could remind him Jeannie was a married woman... and his sister.
Tofu Turkey turned out to be not the worst thing he'd ever tasted. That prize still went to the Ledanii, and was a taste memory he hoped to forget. Forever. The company was good with Kaleb and John having an in-depth discussion on Russian literature of all things while he helped Jeannie clear away the dinner plates. He decided to take advantage of being alone with her.
"I have a girlfriend. Jennifer."
Jeannie looked up at him, smiling tightly before turning back to the dishes, leaving him confused. He was about to reiterate when she sighed and turned to face him.
She pointed to a seat at the small breakfast bar in the kitchen and because she sounded so scarily like their mother, Rodney had done as he was told before realizing. He made to get back up but she pointed a finger at him in warning.
"I'm going to say this once. Jennifer is lovely. She pretty, she's smart, she's a nice person... but she's wrong for you."
"You've only met her twice!"
"You can't decide on a person having only met them twice."
"Mer, you're gay."
"What!? What!?" He could barely speak out of shock. "How can you...?" He pointed a finger, stabbing it towards Jeannie, now convinced this was a huge misunderstanding. "That was one time... and I was young."
Jeannie smiled softly, wrapping her small hand around his stabbing finger. She looked towards the other room, to where John was still in a deep conversation with Kaleb, before turning back to him.
"When you were losing your mind to that parasite you forgot everyone, including me... and Jennifer." She paused, looking at him with an intensity that demanded he pay attention. "Everyone except for him. He's the love of your life, Mer. He's the one."
Rodney glanced back through the door. John must have felt the weight of his stare because he paused and looked across the room, their eyes meeting. It was if a veil had lifted from Rodney's eyes, as if he was truly seeing John for the first time. John narrowed his eyes, then they widened a fraction before a smile curved his lips. Rodney knew that look: about time.
Chapter 7: Crossroads
Life was a series of crossroads.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for spiralicious
McSheplets Prompt 255: crossroads
There were moments in every life where a person reached a crossroads and had the choice to go left, right, or carry on straight ahead. Rodney figured every one of those decisions created an alternate or parallel universe, leading to an infinite number of possibilities. He recalled some of the major decisions of his life; MIT, Harvard, or Northwestern; the SGC, building his own DOT.com company, or joining the Canadian military; Area 51, Icarus Base, or Atlantis.
Each one of those choices would have affected him in some way, perhaps reshaping him into a different person altogether. Equally, his presence might have reshaped the world, the galaxy, or even the entire universe. As an example, if he had chosen Icarus Base then he might be a million light years from home right now, trapped on an Ancient ship heading towards the center of this universe on some Holy Grail quest, or perhaps all of those people trapped on Destiny might be safe on Earth if he had been there to override Rush's programming of the Stargate during the attack.
Rodney knew for certain where two of those roads had led him. He had met one parallel universe version of himself - not that he had like Rod all that much, admittedly out of jealousy for a man who seemed to have overcome many of Rodney's less than stellar characteristics. Compared to him Rod had been competent and charismatic. He knew of one other version of himself after hearing Sam Carter let slip of a parallel universe she had encountered where he seemed to have done well particularly for himself... right until the Ori reached Earth.
Rodney knew he would have met a version of John in some of those parallel universes, and definitely in Rod's universe, though he still had a hard time imagining John as a bespectacled mathematician and card-carrying Mensa member. Yet he knew there must be an infinite number of universes where their paths had never crossed, and he couldn't help but feel saddened and dismayed for that version of himself. That Rodney would never experience the pleasure of having John in his world: debating superheroes, comics, and watching dreadful science fiction programs, or simply lying together under the blankets on their semi-regular day off, teasing and playing with gentle kisses and soft caresses.
There had been plenty of times in his life when he wished he had taken a different path but no longer, because the choices he had made had brought him here, to his John, and he wouldn't change that for anything.
Chapter 8: Breathless
2 days was enough of a lifetime for Rodney.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for squidgiepdx
McSheplets Prompt 257: unscheduled activation
A single day was a lifetime as far as Rodney was concerned, and so far he had survived 12 days with no news since a freak solar flare happened when John stepped through the Stargate. Rodney had managed to go through most of the steps for Grief but got stuck on DENIAL. As far as he was concerned John was still alive, and if he had to spend the rest of his life trying to find him and bring him home then he would do it without question, no matter the cost to him personally. John was everything to him. His whole reason for being, and even though he had a tentative relationship forming with Jennifer he knew his first love would always be John. Ronon had made sure he had seen the video of him slowly losing his mind, revealing the true depth of his feelings for John despite his earlier proclamations of love for Jennifer.
"Unscheduled Off-world Activation."
The call went up from the control room and Rodney raced to the gate room. They had sent out requests to every ally in Pegasus to look out for John Sheppard, even the Genii, but so far no one had anything.
"It's Colonel Sheppard's IDC."
And so ended 12 days of hand wringing and arguments, with a potential for a lifetime more of the same. Rodney had to force himself to remain professional as John stepped through, looking unharmed despite his ordeal. He looked a little older though, with a few extra silver strands threaded through his dark hair as if it had been more than 12 days for him. Theoretically it was possible, but Rodney had to wait what seemed like another lifetime before he got his answer.
"You saved me, Rodney."
Rodney grimaced. "Technically the other Rodney saved you."
"No. You saved me. And you gave up everything for me. Fame, fortune... Atlantis. Least I can do is answer ONE question."
"Did this older version of me have hair?"
"Is that really going to be your one question?"
Rodney crossed his arms and gave him his most derogatory stare that questioned John's IQ count. "Sheppard, that future is already gone. Kaput. It changed the moment you stepped back through the Stargate and saved me a lifetime of teaching at a low grade college just to save your bony ass."
"Hey, my ass isn't bony."
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Obviously it's a very fine-."
He cut himself off abruptly, realizing what he was about to say, and right to Sheppard's face. If there ever was a time when he could wish for the ground to open up and swallow him then this was it because John was looking at him weirdly.
"You ass isn't bony either," John stated softly, hesitantly, licking his lower lip nervously, and Rodney stared at him, both mesmerized and dazed until everything suddenly clicked into place.
"Oh my God, this is flirting. We're flirting with each other!"
John took his words like a slap on the face and that was exactly the opposite of what Rodney had intended by his Epiphany. He grabbed hold of John before he could walk away and kissed him hard, and maybe a little sloppy because he'd never been that good at kissing. Not enough practice, he guessed, because Cadman had managed to kiss the breath out of Katie using his body that one time... and Carson too, though he tried not to dwell on that too much, if ever.
He realized he had pulled away looking a little disgusted, setting John ill at ease.
"Last time I kissed a guy it was Carson."
John looked a little sour-faced in remembrance.
"How about we vanquish that memory for all time," Rodney asked breathlessly, and he gained his answer when John smiled and pulled him back into another kiss.
Chapter 9: High Stakes
John is still mad at Rodney over reactivating the nanites in Elizabeth.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for willidothefandango (nagth) - Tag to Lifeline
McSheplets Prompt 258: luxury
Time was not a luxury any of them could afford as they made repairs on the city. Atlantis was stranded between the stars and the shield was slowly collapsing, leaving much of the city exposed to the vacuum of space, and to any space debris that they happened to pass through. Radek was in the infirmary after having a micro-meteor tear a hole through his leg, and that could just as easily have been John who was injured out there, and worse. Activating the nanites inside Elizabeth had been a dangerous risk, but Rodney still considered it a necessary one to save her life at the time. He had been a little less easy over using her assistance in raiding the Asuran home-world for a ZPM or two.
Rodney had never expected her to order them to leave without her, sacrificing herself to save them all, but maybe he was doing her an injustice. It was never only John who was willing to put Atlantis and the others before himself. Most of the people close to him on Atlantis had a hero streak. Carson, now Radek, most definitely John, and even he had risen to the occasion more than once over the past years. He knew this wouldn't be the last time they disagreed because their roles would put them on opposite sides of the line occasionally. More worrying, Rodney didn't have the best history with relationships but the stakes had never been so high before he fell for John. He hated being at odds with John.
On the way back to Atlantis, no longer feeling triumphant after losing Elizabeth, Rodney pressed a panel control that would ensure privacy in the cockpit of the puddlejumper.
"I know you're still mad at me, and even more so now with... and I'll understand if you want to move back into your-."
"No." John cut him off. "Yes, I'm still mad at you," his voice softened. "And Elizabeth. But that hasn't changed how I feel about you, or about what we have."
Rodney almost sobbed in relief because what they had was the best thing in his entire life, better than winning a Nobel award. Losing that would be... too much. More than he could possibly bear, especially with the weight of Elizabeth's loss already lying heavy on his shoulders. He leaned into John, pressing their foreheads together, as intimate as any kiss.
"That's... That's good, because..."
They didn't have the luxury of time to talk things through but as long as they were both willing to set the anger aside and keep working on this relationship Rodney knew they could make it.
Chapter 10: Ice Cold in Aridanii
Fulfilling their trade agreement beneath the binary suns was hot and thirsty work.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for Melime
Title idea stolen from the movie Ice Cold in Alex :)
McSheplets Prompt 259: craving
John sighed. He could kill for an ice cold beer right now but there was little chance of that happening so he sipped at the lukewarm water in his canteen. He could tell the heat was getting to Rodney too judging by the way his normally fluid arm gestures were getting jerky with irritation. When Lorne's team had traded vegetables for assistance in designing and building an irrigation system for the Aridanii's fields it must have been late Winter as the Aridanii only had two seasons - hot and cold. Personally John preferred the cold to the heat, which was why he hadn't found it so hard following his black mark and reassignment from the almost unbearable heat of Afghanistan to the sub-zero of Antarctica. He hadn't lied to O'Neill when he told him he liked it at McMurdo.
Aridanii was a binary system and now he was back out under the heat of the twin suns, and even watching the sweat dripping down Rodney's stocky body, t-shirt sticking to emphasize broad shoulders and chest, could not replace a craving for an ice cold beer.
His radio mike crackled slightly.
"Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne is on his way."
"Yeah, tell him I'll be the sad puddle of melted human flesh in the middle of the main field."
"You and me both, sir. Kaster out."
John heard the smile in the Sergeant's voice.
The Puddlejumper uncloaked and settled at the edge of the field and John willed himself the energy to head towards it, reaching it just as the ramp settled onto the heat-cracked field.
"Lorne, I hope you left the air con on," he quipped as he made his way into the shade of the Jumper, nodding to the agriculturalist and the engineer who stepped off the ramp.
"Can do you one better." Lorne handed reached into a cooler and brought out a root beer. Ice cold.
"Oh God is that..? Gimme!"
Rodney snapped his fingers ignoring the look on Lorne's face, if he even noticed, and he was opening the can and chugging down the ice cold contents instantly, like some hot guy in a drinks commercial. For a moment a different craving overcame John, though it was almost quashed when Rodney smiled happily at Lorne.
"If I didn't already have one of these I'd marry you right this minute," Rodney stated, showing off his wedding band.
"Hey!" John exclaimed softly while Lorne raised both hands and stepped back.
John reached into the cooler for an ice cold root beer, and as the ice cold liquid flowed down his throat, cooling him from the inside out, he had to admit he could see Rodney's point. Almost. Lorne chuckled softly and moved off towards the Aridanii, relinquishing the Puddlejumper to John as Lorne and his scientists took over the field work.
"Ready to head back?" John asked and saw more than simple relief in Rodney's blue eyes.
He had assuaged one craving for an ice cold beer, and now he wanted to satisfy the other.
Chapter 11: Napping
Rodney desperately needed a nap. Just a few hours of peaceful sleep.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for chase_acow
McSheplets Prompt 260: nap
All he needed was just a quick nap. A chance to recharge the batteries, so to speak, but every time he laid his head down on the pillow he was awoken by one of his scientists needing his authorization or assistance. Rodney thought these days were behind him but having Atlantis drifting off the coast of San Francisco meant greater access to a larger number of scientists. All of them had pet theories they wanted to pursue, running him ragged around the city trying to keep them from blowing things up. He was exhausted. He barely gained a few hours sleep at night.
"And I can't recall the last time we raced cars in the hallway," he added before slumping onto the side of John's bed.
"Shouldn't you be taking this to Jennifer?" John asked without looking up from whatever comic he was reading.
"Jennifer? Why would I want to race cars with Jennifer?"
"You're kind of missing the point here."
Confused, Rodney asked, "What point?"
John sighed. "Okay, give it here." John pointed towards his radio and Rodney took it out of his ear and handed it over. "Now lay down."
"Do you want me to run interference for you while you nap... or not?"
He awoke some time later to the sound of a firm voice telling someone at John's door to take the problem to Zelenka or sit on it until Rodney was awake. Rodney smiled when John casually warned the insistent scientist.
"I need you to know I am armed, and I will shoot you."
The door closed and John faltered when he turned and saw Rodney awake. "I'm sure it's nothing Zelenka can't handle," he said with a shrug.
"Um... Thank you."
"Hey, that's what friends are for," John looked away with a smile and picked up a golf magazine.
Rodney thought about that for days afterwards, reminded of an old saying: a good friend will bail you out of jail; a great friend will pick up a shovel and help you bury the body, no questions asked. By its very definition John fell under the category of a great friend, someone he trusted with his life. Someone he cared for deeply, and he realized he would never have that with Jennifer. Once he opened his eyes he noticed all the ways John showed how much he cared, and how they never seemed to need anyone else to be happy and content, except each other.
Years later, when anyone asked how he and John got together as more than just great friends, he would tell them he had an Epiphany while taking a nap.
Chapter 12: Trust
John has to play a game of Truth or Dare to win a trade agreement.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for stargatesg1971
McSheplets Prompt 262: truth or dare
Truth or dare was not the sort of game John wanted to play with his team members even though they knew him better than anyone else in two galaxies, let alone on an alien world and prompted by a people who wanted them to prove they would make good trade partners. He still had his secrets - some deep and dark while others might earn him pitying stares - and he did not want to air them in public, not even for a vegetable that was both good for eating and for its medicinal properties, and would keep them well-stocked in case of another Wraith siege. Still he had to weigh up the risk of what truth they might want revealed against the kind of dare they might ask of him. Teyla had never met these people before so she could offer no advice.
"Truth," John stated.
"What are the patterns of your home world?"
John winced, knowing they wanted the coordinates of Atlantis... or maybe even of Earth. "Sorry, I can't give you that."
"Then you will forfeit an agreement with us and must leave our world immediately."
John dipped his head. "Then I guess we have to leave."
They made it all the way to the Stargate and were halfway through dialing the Beta site when the village elders stepped out of the surrounding woods. John nodded to Teyla, knowing Rodney and Ronon would watch their backs as they met the village elders partway.
"We are ready to trade with you." The elder smiled at John's confusion. "We could never trust someone willing to give up the address of their home world to a stranger."
John realized that kind of made sense because someone willing to give up their own world's address, or lie by giving the address of another world could just as easily betray them.
"Perhaps we can ask you another truth or dare?"
"Sure," John replied but he was anything but sure. "Truth... again."
"Would you accept another man as your beloved in all ways?"
John licked his lips. "I already have," he replied, glancing towards Rodney.
If these people had a problem with him and Rodney being together then they could keep their vegetables, but the elder smiled broadly.
"It is the truth," he proclaimed to his people.
Two days later they returned to Atlantis via the Beta site with a trade agreement and contented smiles.
Chapter 13: Actions Speak Louder
Actions speak louder than words.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for Ilien
McSheplets Prompt 263: flirt
"Are you flirting with me?" Rodney asked.
John tried to fake genuine shock but Rodney's lips were twisting in a smile that meant he had gained his answer and it was the opposite of the one John had just given. He bristled a little before remembering he'd been flirting with Rodney for years, hoping Rodney would finally catch a clue. Part of him was convinced Rodney was simply too oblivious to notice, and that he would end up married to the wrong person. To the only person who managed to get him to notice them.
John had hoped after the parasite incident Rodney would look through the video documenting his mental decline and realize he had forgotten everyone, including Jennifer and his own sister. All of them except for him. He still remembered Rodney banging on his door in the middle of the night, scared, and seeking him out. Not Jennifer. That short time seated on the pier sipping beer was still a cherished memory.
"Maybe I was flirting with you."
"I knew it," Rodney crowed, and then he looked awkward. "Um... does that mean what I think it means?"
"That depends on what you think it means."
Rodney rolled his eyes. "You're going to make me do all the work, aren't you?"
John raised both his eyebrows and waited, wondering if Rodney could get eye strain from rolling his eyes yet again.
Rodney lurched forward and kissed him on the mouth, just a quick kiss, awkward and a little off center. He pulled back, wringing his hands.
"I thought you'd do better with actions than words."
"Okay," John said after he licked his tingling lips, and to prove it really was okay he reeled Rodney in and kissed him properly this time.
Finally the years of unresolved sexual tension and oblivious flirting had come to an end.
Chapter 14: Oppressive Heat
John has an ulterior motive for leaving the Jumper behind on this mission.
Written for Fandom Stocking 2017 for vexed_wench
McSheplets Prompt 264: fan
John could just feel the downdraft of cooler air as the ancient ceiling fan thunkered round noisily, taking away precious little of the oppressive heat from the room. This reminder of hot days in Afghanistan made him appreciate the air con back in Atlantis all the more, and how the city intuitively altered the temperature and humidity to perfectly match his mood or activity. The Tanadi had no Ancient technology left, their once great cities leveled just like Sateda when they attempted to fight back against the Wraith, though the Ancient database hinted at subterranean levels that might not have collapsed over ten thousand years.
On the other side of the room Lorne was putting his geologist skills to great use with some of Rodney's scientists and the Tanadi as they debated the best locations to search. Rodney waded in now and then, hands waving as he questioned some of the assumptions being made, and quite rightly too as they had lost enough people to stupidity since arriving in Pegasus. Eventually they seemed to come to some agreement before tempers flared too high in the heat. Rodney stomped over, heavy footed from heat fatigue and John handed him a bottle of cold water, watching as he took several large swallows.
"So who's idea was it to leave the Puddlejumpers behind," he asked, and John could hear the irritation in his voice from knowing full well John must have made that decision.
John winced but he had to admit he'd had an ulterior motive as there was something very compelling about Rodney when he was hot. He had a glow about him, and his perspiration soaked t-shirt clung to his body in all the right places. Of course the pay-off was when they headed back to their quarters on Atlantis and he got to strip the clothes off Rodney so they could generate a different kind of heat together. Though, as he pulled at the clothes sticking to his own body he wondered if, just maybe, he had misjudged the heat this time.