Rodney's in the middle of pouring the concrete foundation for their new shed when he hears the twin, high-pitched screams of the illegitimates, so he rolls his eyes and starts toward the house.
It's taken him half a decade but he's finally learned how to differentiate My Little Brother Has Just Set Himself On Fire! screams and I Have Just Caused Myself Grave Injury! screams and Dad Why Are You Ignoring Me And Yes I Am Comeuppance For Being Such A Diva When Daddy Was Your TA! screams. This was, Rodney thought philosophically, based on the particular treble and insistance, the sustained length, a Oh My God The Neighbors Got A New Baby Wolf Puppy And He Licked Me And He Loves Me And I Love It And This Is The Best Thing Ever In The History Of Ever!
He turned off the cement pourer and checked that all the power tools were off before he pulled off the workgloves -- it was silly, Rodney knew, but they were John's and if he tried hard enough, it was sort of like holding hands -- and shoving them into his pocket as he stomped round the side of the house and toward the front. Joanna's shriek finally petered into extremely enthusiastic noises, still in a register heard only by dogs and bats and long-suffering parents of aspiring auteurs.
And when he got to the corner of the large, brick house, he had to put a hand on a tree to steady himself.
John was standing somewhat precariously in the driveway, Joanna hanging around his neck down along his back even as John bent over to try and pull Andy -- who had attached himself very stubbornly to his leg -- off and John was laughing, nearly hysterical with it and Rodney finally started hearing what John was saying: "Hey, come on, guys -- let a guy breathe a little," and, "You know, I don't think I missed you two nearly this much," and "Fine fine, I take it back."
Rodney just stood there as John disintangled their children, finally, and smoothed down his dress blues, heavy with wings and medals and other reasons he's going to keep leaving Rodney -- which can't happen again, Rodney knows with sudden clarity, it just cannot, cannot, cannot happen again -- before he wraps Joanna and then Andy and then both of them into a hug with his long, long arms.
Rodney watches John stroke Joanna's hair, to rub at the marker spot on Andy's face, and watches John's face soften and warm until John says to them, "Hey, hey -- when did you guys get so big? Did I tell you you could do that?"
"Well, you weren't here to supervise," Andy says flatly, frowning and tugging at John's sleeve.
And that's when Rodney takes another step forward, the motion just enough to catch John's eyes. They darken and round and Rodney just stares at him long enough to make the illegitimates squirm, to make Andy say again, "You weren't here to supervise," which seems to break the moment, and John finally looks away.
"That's true," John says, not so much sheepish as rueful, and Rodney wants to tell him what else he missed: Andy's sprained ankle and Joanna's Incident at the children's salon and how they can never go to the penguin exhibit at the zoo again. About how red and miserable Joanna's face had been when Rodney had picked her up at the school.
But John just pulls the illegitimates in closer and takes a deep, long inhale of the smell of them: sunshine and wet grass and laundry detergent -- whatever they've spent this misbegotten afternoon rolling in without Rodney's constant supervision.
Joanna says, leaning against John's chest and staring up at him, "You look handsome, Daddy."
She looks at Rodney and says, "Doesn't he, Dad?"
"Yeah, your Daddy's the prettiest girl in the whole world," Rodney snaps, and suddenly losing his inertia, pushes over and removes the offspring, giving them a good shove toward the house and saying, "And you two -- you are not the prettiest girls in the world. You're covered in -- I don't even know what and I don't want to know. Just wash it off and we'll all order pizza for dinner while I go show your father his new bedroom."
"New bedroom?" John asks, quirking an eyebrow.
"No talking," Rodney shushes him, and Joanna and Andy, soothed most easily, as all children are, gave one last, shrieking laugh, tackled John's legs in a hug and ran into the house, yelling.
And as they disappeared through the opened garage door, John asks again, "New bedroom?"
"I'm kicking you out," Rodney growls, and fisting his hands, started stomping toward the backyard again, hearing John following closely, keeping his hands to himself because it's not like he doesn't know Rodney or anything.
Rodney dodges some of the monstrous oaks to which he is deadly allergic and that John won't let him cut down and says airily, "Oh, it's something I decided on while you were in the process of leaving us abandoned and things. Don't worry: I'm pouring it an actual cement foundation and everything -- God forbid structural damage kills you and the little bastards start hitting me up for therapy mone -- "
"Hey, Rodney, come on," John interrupts softly. "I just got home -- we shouldn't -- "
"What?" Rodney demands, stopping in front of the halfway poured foundation and switching the pourer back on with an angry flick of his wrist. "Fight? What, we shouldn't fight because you just got back from God knows where after being gone for -- "
"You agreed," John says firmly, glaring, and Rodney is so pissed off and elated and exhausted that John is back that he can't even find that inappropriately hot like he normally does. "We talked about this and you agreed."
"I agreed, yes, but because you looked at me like it was the only thing you'd ever wanted! Which, by the way, I'm not letting you off the hook for because between the little monsters and your making secret airplanes for the government and hello -- me! I think you got pretty fucking much everything anybody ever wanted without you having to leave for -- "
And then John just sighs, unbuttoning the jacket of his dress blues and reaches out, pulling Rodney in and shutting him up with one of those kisses that made Rodney spend the first year of their cohabitation seriously questioning if before John had gotten his bartending license had he been one of those guys in the alley thataway.
As hot as it was normally, Rodney feels like he's kind of flying off into a dozen pieces and John kissing him like a common slut isn't really helping -- and he's about to let him know that when Rodney feels one of John's arms wrap around his waist, feels his fingers stroking the side of Rodney's hip the way he'd been doing for a decade now. And then John's mouth softens like a flower, growing sweet and safe and so well-remembered and dear that Rodney puts his arms aroundJohn's neck -- like Joanna had earlier, he thinks stupidly, like family would do -- and pulls John in. Pulls him close with a sudden, renewed desperation because the thing that had hurt the most was that John had seemed to forget that no matter what he wanted, he didn't belong to the Air Force anymore. He belongs to Rodney and the illegitimates and this house and their home and he'd forgotten all of it -- the moment he'd gotten that phone call from General O'Neill.
"I'm sorry," John says, finally. "I am -- I didn't know -- "
"That's what you should be sorry for," Rodney snaps, close to John's mouth, still breathing heavy. "You forgot."
John pulls away, just enough so he could look more closely into Rodney's pinched, unhappy face. He says, "Only for a little bit." He smiles crookedly. "Thank you for the photo reminder. It made watching several high level Air Force officers not asking very entertaining."
Rodney snorts, hands still fisted in the cloth of John's dress jacket. "Oh, please -- we're making out in the yard. You're still wearing your little Army of One -- "
"Air Force," John corrects brightly.
" -- Armed Prostitute for Hire," Rodney shoots back, "uniform. Anybody who still needs to ask is seriously stupid."
John laughs and kisses him again, smile bright against Rodney's mouth, and starts sliding them together in some rather exciting and illicit ways and Rodney says, "Okay, so if I give both the kids Benedryl they can be out in half an hour and then -- " just as they heard Joanna screaming a bad scream which was when they both looked down and realized they were standing in a mound of overflowing wet cement.
Later, John says, "That really wasn't how I was hoping you'd ruin my pants as soon as I got home," as Rodney scowls, biting John hard in the shoulder and listening to his sullen yip of pain with deep satisfaction before going back to entertaining himself with John's broad too-long-gone back, sucking kisses along his spine. "Okay yes, this is far more similar to what I had on mind."
"Well," Rodney says, licking a stripe down John's side and dropping to his creaking knees in the shower, "I am a genius." He settles his hands on John's hips and presses a few teasing kisses where John's thighs meet his ass -- the soft skin there he knows will always, always make John groan in frustration. Right on time, John growls:
"Rodney -- come on."
Just to be a bastard, Rodney spends some time nuzzling the back of John's balls -- slick with the pounding hot water -- and humming to himself in deep satisfaction. "No, I think I'll just take my time, thanks."
"You know," John says, voice playful. "In my vast military experience, people are usually much more giving in group showers."
Which is about when Rodney pulls John around so that -- hello -- John's dick is bobbing in his face and John's smirk is smirking down at him and Rodney can snap, "Oh? And have you been taking many group showers recently?"
John pulls a face of total innocence. "Just with some of my commanding officers -- but they said they wouldn't promote me otherwise." Rodney makes a wordless noise of fury. "They even let me pretend I had dropped the soap."
"I fucking hate you," Rodney says vehemently and goes down on him with such ferocious annoyed infatuation he bets John can feel Rodney's stupid 14-year-old crush on him through his dick.
"I -- ah -- understand," John gasps, and puts a hand on the back of Rodney's neck, rolling his hips -- oh my God, Rodney thinks, savoring the familiar weight of John's cock on his tongue, that's so fucking hot -- into Rodney's mouth, his other fingers carding through Rodney's slick-wet hair. "God -- I fucking love -- " and whatever John was going to say gets swallowed up when Rodney swallows him down and John comes down his throat with a deep, luxurious moan.
Rodney sucks him through the aftershocks and when he finally let's John's dick fall out of his mouth with a soft pop underneath the sound of water pounding, Rodney says, "Hah! How about that?"
John stares down at him, dreamy and post-coital and says, "Fair to not-bad," and before Rodney can finish yelling, "Fair to not-bad --!" John's shoved Rodney against the other wall of the shower, mouthing kisses along Rodney's shoulder, down his arm, sucking the fingers of his left hand into his hot, hot mouth, and it all renders Rodney somewhat speechless, to suddenly have this again after sleeping along for months and months. John complains about Rodney being a dirty tease and then he takes what feels like hours, mapping out a body Rodney knows John knows by heart.
By the time have run all the water cold and fall, hot and desperate and dripping wet to their bed, Rodney can only think that he's so grateful he locked the door before they came in here because John's slicking himself up and pressing into Rodney, slow and careful after a long seperation until Rodney digs his heels into John's back to make him move faster, to make him hurry up and come the fuck home already, after being gone so long. And when John finally bottoms out -- settles into the cradle of Rodney's hips and rocking deep and sweet and lingering, in no hurry at all, Rodney puts his hands on John's shoulders and says in a breathless whisper, "You're finally back," and John says, "Yes -- yes I am."
They have just enough time -- after Rodney and John inspect one another again, relearn old scars and while Rodney looks suspiciously at a new one, shaped like a teardrop on the side of John's neck -- to lie together and drowse for a bit, wrapped up in old t-shirts and shorts until the illegitimates start shrieking that the pizza's here! The pizza's here! And they're soooooo hungry.
John cracks one eye open, and Rodney feels himself smile involuntarily at it. "We could run away," John suggests.
"You just got back," Rodney points out. "And also, the illegitimates would starve."
John sighs and rolls off the bed to his feet, extending a hand to help Rodney and say, "We should really stop calling them that."
"What," Rodney says, unlocking and opening the bedroom door to see Joanna and Andy standing there, eyes huge and pleading and shining with hungry light. "And let them get all uppity?" he says to them specifically, which makes Andy yell, "We're not uppity, we're starving!" with a kind of extravagent pain he must have picked up from Joanna.
"Um," comes a yell from downstairs, "I need to get paid? Kind of?"
John smothers a laugh and leans over to press a sweet, indulgent kiss to the corner of Rodney's mouth while the kids scream the Ew Dad And Daddy That Is Super Gross Never Do That Again! scream before he goes downstairs to pay for dinner. And
Rodney watches him go, his terrible bedhead disappearing down the steps and his voice, faint, saying, "Sorry about that."
"Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad," Andy chants and Joanna tugs on his hand and says, "Come on, Dad, come on! We're dying."
All Rodney can think is that he hasn't seen them look this happy in months, hasn't heard them so loud and cavalierly annoying in ages and he never thought he'd be grateful for their misbehavior. And when he passes a mirror as he tails them downstairs and sees himself: mouth swollen and red and he's definitely going to have a hickey in the morning, he thinks that he looks pretty good, too.