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Kiss the Groom

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John stood outside the door to Rodney's quarters, tugging at his dress uniform jacket in a futile attempt to make it feel more comfortable. Right now, he suspected he wouldn't feel comfortable in anything. He palmed the door, but it didn't open. "It's me," he called. "Let me in."

There was a pause, and then the door slid open about a third of the way. John hadn't even known the city's doors could do that. "He doesn't want to see you before the ceremony," Ronon said. "He says it's unlucky."

"It'll be unluckier for him if he doesn't see me," John said darkly, and pushed past him.

Inside, Rodney was fussing with his cufflinks while Teyla looked on indulgently. He glanced up sharply when John came in. "What are you doing here? Go away!"

"I have to talk to you," John said.

Teyla and Ronon exchanged a look, and Teyla said, "Perhaps we should leave."

John thought about that, and then figured there was no point. "No, you might as well stay and hear this." To Rodney, he said, "Look, you know how I've already been married once?"

Rodney paled and went very still. Then he said, "Oh, God, she's here, isn't she? You're going to tell me that through a series of administrative errors you never got divorced, and somehow she's actually come to this galaxy and she's out there right now and at the part where they ask if anyone knows any just cause or impediment --"

"Rodney!" John held up a hand, cutting him off. "Of course she's not here. Our lives are weird, but we haven't yet reached soap opera levels of weirdness, thank Christ."

"And you are divorced? You have the papers and everything?"

"I didn't actually bring them with me," John said dryly, "but, yeah, divorced."

Rodney relaxed fractionally. "Okay. Okay, then. So what's the problem?"

John sat down on the end of the bed, clearing a space by pushing aside a couple of shirts that Rodney had clearly tried and rejected. "It was train wreck," he said. "We were married for a year and a half, but really it was over after the first six months. And I just, I don't --" He looked at Rodney in appeal. "Maybe we're okay the way we are."

"Oh my God," Rodney said. "You're jilting me."

"No!" John raised his hands, then let them fall again. "No, I'm just -- suddenly not so sure this is a smart idea."

"Well, that's just fine," Rodney said, his voice rising shrilly. "Would you like to tell our 240 wedding guests that or shall I?"

John felt suddenly sick. He was wondering whether he'd ever manage to command any respect at all from his staff if he backed out of his own wedding when Teyla crossed the room and hunkered down on the floor in front of him, so she was slightly below his eye level. "It is not the case that you doubt your commitment to Rodney, or his to you," she said.

It wasn't a question, rather a statement of fact; just hearing her say it out loud helped. "My track record with big public displays of commitment -- let's just say it's not good." John heaved a sigh and looked at Rodney. "At least this time it's not your parents paying for the reception."

"If he calls it off, can we still have the party and the cake?" Ronon asked, jerking a thumb in John's direction. "The cake looks good."

Teyla shot him a look before turning back to John. "I understand your custom is to make your vows before many witnesses, but among my people, it is not so. A couple's pledges are to each other, and what is said is kept between them and is not shared. Perhaps, if you made your oaths in private, now, the public ceremony would not be so… unnerving." Her mouth twitched upward a little on the last word.

John looked at Rodney, who gave him a thin-lipped little nod and said, "Yeah. Let's -- let's do that."

Teyla nodded and stood up. "Ronon and I will wait outside. You may call us back when you have said all that you must."

They left -- Ronon looked amused by the whole thing, and if he ever got married, John was damn well going to enjoy watching him suffer -- and then John was alone with Rodney. He stood up, so that they were standing in the middle of the room, facing each other. "Do you want to go first?"

"This was your idea," Rodney said. "I don't see why I should -- Oh, for God's sake, all right, then." He hesitated, then cleared his throat. "I didn't think I was ever going to get married, you know. For a long time I convinced myself I didn't even want to. I mean, I had my work, and then I had Atlantis, and I thought that was everything I'd ever need. Except I was… I was wrong, and I didn't even know it, because everything I need… everything I need is right here in this room. Don't ever think I don't know how lucky I am, because I do, and I promise -- I promise not to forget that."

"Me too," John said.

"'Me too'?" Rodney repeated, when the silence had gone on so long that it was clear John wasn't going to say anything else. "Your marriage vows are, 'me too'? God, you are the most frustrating, repressed, uncommunicative --" Then he stopped dead, mid-rant. "You know what? That's fine. I know what you mean. And it's not as if I didn't know I was going to have to do enough talking to cover both of us. Are we ready to call Teyla and Ronon back in here?"

"Not yet," John said. He lifted a hand and cupped it against Rodney's jaw. "Do I get to kiss the groom?"

"I'm tempted to say no, since you were planning to leave me at the altar."

"Rodney," John said. He lifted his other hand, and gently angled Rodney's head so that their mouths met in a gentle, sweet collision. "I'm glad we decided to do this," John said when they'd finished.

He felt Rodney's smile against his cheek. "Me too."