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The Life Partner

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John had a great life. The city of Atlantis, the greatest city in the two galaxies, stretched out before him from his balcony. Inside he had a comfortable apartment, which, apart from the frequent interruptions by his friends, was clean, orderly, and calm. He breathed in the sea air, enjoying a moment of peace before he headed down to the comedy club for his evening set.

The door slammed: moment of peace gone. He never should have given Rodney keypad access, even if they were best friends.

“Well, it’s over, John! Completely over!” Rodney announced before he had even divested himself of his coat.

John had barely entered the living room from the balcony when the door opened again and Ronon skidded in, a man on mission.

“How much peanut butter have you got?” he asked.

“How much do you need?” John asked suspiciously.

“As much as you’ve got, John, as much as you’ve got,” he rummaged through the cupboards, pulling things out at random.

“I don’t even like peanut butter,” John said, “See now, you’re making a mess. Come on, Ronon.”

Mostly he said it for show, he had long since given up trying to control or even understand any of his neighbor’s actions. Never should have given him access—that was John’s first mistake. His second was feeding him. Never feed a stray, that’s what they always tell you.

The door opened and slammed again, a very pregnant Teyla waddling through the door. Now Teyla had access because John had really wanted her to like him. And she was probably the only friend John had who would actually be useful in an emergency situation.

“My bladder is about to explode,” she said, heading for the bathroom.

Ronon had completed his search and ripped into a brand new bag of Cheetos. Damn it. John thought he’d hidden those pretty good.

“Oh, Cheetos!” Rodney said, distracted from whatever dating disaster he had come to share with John. Teyla came out of the bathroom and took over the sofa, flipping through a TV Guide as she stretched out and took her shoes off.

“You were saying something about—who is it this week? Jennifer something?” John prompted Rodney, hoping to get out his apartment and be relatively on time to his show.

“What?” Rodney looked up from the bag, his fingers and mouth already covered in a fine orange dust. They were the puffy kind, Rodney’s favorite. John definitely didn’t keep them stocked in his cupboard for that reason. “Oh, yes, yes. Well, we had lunch today and she told me her ex-boyfriend was in town last night on business.”

“And?”

“Ex-boyfriend, John! Ex-boyfriend!”

“So?”

“So, she said they had dinner and went back to her place and—and I quote—‘yada, yada, yada,’” Rodney enunciated each word as he loosened his tie and collapsed in the armchair across from Teyla.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” John said incredulously. “You can’t yada, yada sex.”

Rodney looked up hopefully.

“I have yada, yada’d sex,” Teyla said without taking her eyes off the TV Guide.

“You have not,” John said.

Her mouth curled into a smile at his challenge, “Indeed? Kanaan rented a romantic cabin on the mainland and took me to one of the expensive restaurants where the chef forages the ingredients. I ordered a brûléed fig the size of my face and we went back to the cabin and yada, yada, yada, now I am pregnant.”

“But,” John struggled for words, “You skipped the best part.”

“Oh,” Teyla smirked, “I mentioned the fig.”

Rodney tossed his head back into the cushion. “I just want to meet an attractive, intelligent person who wants to have sex with me but let me keep the rest of my life entirely the same as it is now. Is that so much to ask?”

“Never knew you were such a romantic, buddy,” Ronon says from the kitchenette, crunching up the now empty bag with his hands and placing it back on the shelf where he found it. John slapped his forehead.

“Serenity now,” he muttered. Then he gathered his zip up jacket and wallet, made sure his button down shirt was tucked tightly into his belted jeans, and left.

“Lock up when you leave,” he called behind him as the door clicked shut.

#

“And what’s the deal with peanut butter?” he asked his audience later that night. “There’s no butter in it. Its just peanuts!”

The audience laughed politely, but it really wasn’t his strongest material. Wait until he hit them with the bit about laundry. Always leave them on a high note, John, he told himself as he nodded politely at their response.

#

“I’m gonna die alone, John,” Rodney said as they slid into their usual booth at the coffee shop that was aptly named The Coffee Shop. “I’ll be eaten by my cat.”

“So you and what’s her face are definitely over?” Why was he smiling about that? Get a grip, John.

“I’m glad this is so funny for you,” Rodney spat out.

“Hey, buddy,” John said, schooling his face into a commiserating expression. “I get it. A life partner who doesn’t try to change your life, that’s the dream, right? That’d be perfect.”

Rodney eyed him suspiciously. “Are you talking about your feelings? Who are you and what have you done with my best friend John?”

“I’m talking about sex, Rodney. Regular sex without all the weird domestic stuff.”

“Yeah. I don’t need someone to go the farmer’s market or get brunch with.”

“Exactly. And if I want to stay in a watch a movie, that’s my business.”

“Yeah,” Rodney said again, with feeling. “Oh, hey, do you wanna watch a movie tonight?”

“Sure, I’ll pick up the latest Jean-Claude Van Damme at the video store on my way home. He apparently plays brothers, so there’s like, two of him.”

“That sounds like a dream I had one time,” Rodney muttered before realizing what he said and turning beet red. “Um—”

Thankfully, the waitress turned up just then to take their order.

“Coffee, and lots of it,” Rodney ordered.

“Same,” said John. “And a bowl of Cherrios.”

“Who orders cereal at a restaurant?” Rodney asked for the millionth time.

“I think this is more of a café,” John said.

“Save your observational humor for the audience,” Rodney snarked, then snaps his fingers at the retreating waitress. “Oh, and can I get a big salad to go?”

She glared at him a little, not that he noticed, but wrote the order down on her pad.

“For Teyla,” Rodney explained. “I figured I should be nice to her since she’s, you know, spawning.”

“She threatened to break your fingers, didn’t she?” John smirked.

“Not so much threatened as heavily implied,” Rodney blanched at the memory.

John tilted his back and laughed, feeling contentment steal over him as he rested his arm on the vinyl seat back. Rodney glared at him from across the booth.

#

They caught the farmer’s market on the way back to John’s apartment, just to pick up a few things, and John’s door opened for him before he even had a chance to thumb the keypad.

“This city has the hots for you, you know,” Rodney said.

“You’re just jealous.”

“Got a show tonight?” Rodney asked as they hung their jackets by the door.

“Yeah. I’m think I’m gonna do the ‘Those Wacky Ancients’ bit, it’s a pretty good crowd pleaser. Gonna catch the show?”

“God, no.”

John shrugged, and then Ronon burst through the door, clearly high on adrenalin—or something else—and immediately went for the fridge, pulling out a brand new package of lunchmeat and tearing into it.

“My turkey!” John whined.

“Gotta carb up, man,” Ronon said with his mouth full, “I’m doing the Aids Walk tomorrow.”

“You’re eating protein,” Rodney pointed out.

“I had to beat up this mugger earlier,” Ronon said in a conversational tone, as though it explains the turkey.

“Yeah, I was on the citywide transport and this dude just starts waiving a knife around and yelling a lot. The driver fainted, so I had to grab the wheel after knocking the guy out, but then he came to and started choking me and I’m driving—“

The story came complete with hand motions so that John and Rodney had to duck for cover a few times.

“—So I got the door open and kicked him off at the next stop.”

“You kept making the stops?” John exclaimed.

“Well, people kept ringing the bell,” Ronon shrugged.

“Oh my god, you’re Batman,” Rodney said in awe.

#

“Rodney told me about your idea,” Teyla said in lieu of a greeting as the door swung shut behind her.

John was eating a bowl of cereal on the couch and flipping channels.

“Yeah, I don’t know why we don’t have talking dogs already. I mean, we have the technology. Presumably. Somewhere in the vast files the Ancients left behind. Rodney said he’d look into it.”

“Not that,” Teyla said, plopping down next to him. “The idea of a life partner that will not change your life while still participating in regular sex.”

“Oh,” John said, bracing himself for a feminist rant he definitely deserved. “And?”

Teyla smiled in that way that made John squirm. He knew for a fact she did it on purpose.

“I could not help but wonder what about your current life is so remarkable that you resist change, John.”

“Well, I have the freedom to go the Coffee Shop whenever I want, just meet Rodney for brunch or coffee without having to schedule around another person.”

“You schedule with Rodney,” Teyla said apropos of nothing.

“Yeah?” John said, confused but he plowed ahead. “And I can just stay in and watch a movie without anyone nagging me to go out if I don’t feel like. Or making me go to the farmer’s market, I hate that.”

“You and Rodney just went to the farmer’s market.”

“It was on our way, it didn’t have to be, you know, a thing.”

“You are exhausting me, John.”

“Thanks?”

“I am going home to rest. Think about this conversation and what all your examples have in common.”

#

John had learned to heed Teyla’s advice after a disastrous incident with some bodega sushi she had recommended he not eat. So he tried to think about what she said. But he couldn’t make any sense of it.

His thinking drove him to the East Pier just as the sun was setting (Lantea had a different orientation than his native earth). Leaning on the railing, he replayed the conversation for the millionth time, but could come up with no common factor beyond Rodney’s presence.

Rodney. Huh.

The bright orange sun sunk to John’s eye level, leaving sparks in front his eyes as he blinked.

Between one blink and the next, he came to a decision. He had to see Rodney.

Without further thought, he ran right through a group of seagulls, sending them arcing into the air, backlit against the hazy sky.

#

“John?” Rodney blinked at him through the open door. The sun had fully set and the only light coming from Rodney’s apartment was the blue light of a desktop computer against the far wall.

“Did you forget to turn on the lights again?”

Rodney looked around, surprised. “Oh, I suppose I did.”

“Can I come in?”

Rodney stepped aside and John hit the light switch on his way through the door. He got halfway though the front room before turning back to face Rodney. He crossed his arms then uncrossed them. This had seemed easier on the pier.

“Um,” John said eloquently.

“So,” Rodney said at the same time.

“Teyla told me you told her what I said about the perfect life partner.” John wanted to dig a hole in the floor and crawl into it. This was all a little too junior high school for him.

“Oh, I thought she’d find it funny,” Rodney squirmed. “Are you mad?”

“No, she just did that thing where she told me to think about it and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it and it got me thinking—”

“I feel like this is where I’m supposed to make a joke about not straining yourself beyond your mental capacities.”

“Haha, I’m dying laughing. Leave the jokes to the professional.”

“Let me know when you find one.”

And suddenly John was back on firm ground and knew exactly what he what he wanted. He reached out and reeled Rodney it by his “I’m With Genius” t-shirt until their bodies collided and their mouths met.

Minutes later, when John had caught his breath, he explained, “You’re already my life partner, we’ve just been missing out on the regular sex because we’re idiots.”

“Speak for yourself.”

John raised an eyebrow.

“Perhaps you have a point,” Rodney conceded graciously. He ruined it by adding: “Does this mean you think I’m perfect?”

“No, definitely not. You have an open bag of Cheetos half hidden behind that sofa cushion. But,” he said, punctuated with another kiss, “We might be perfect for each other.”

A few more minutes later, draped over each other on the couch, Cheetos crunched beyond repair, Rodney said: “I’m never letting you live that down, I can’t believe you said that.”

“Shut up, you loved it.”