John couldn't seem to get the image of Rodney—well, Cadman, but in Rodney's body—kissing Carson out of his head.
It was...weird. John wasn't homophobic. He'd traded a friendly hand job or two in his time. He didn't mind gay people. He didn't even mind seeing them being openly affectionate. So it wasn't that. He was pretty sure that if it had been Radek's body, he would have just shrugged it off.
And he had no idea why the fact that it had been Rodney's body would make a difference. Sure, he knew Rodney better. They were teammates. They could even be called friends. But he didn't think he'd be weirded out if it had been Teyla.
He tried to picture that. And yes, it was weird imagining Teyla's body kissing Carson, but it wasn't something that he couldn't get out of his head.
So, it seemed to be Rodney who was the reason. He tried to picture Rodney kissing Teyla. It was weird, but not as weird as Rodney kissing Carson. He still didn't like it, though.
Hmm. So far John had only thought about his hang up as weird. He'd been happy for Cadman and Carson. But the image of Rodney with Carson or with Teyla for that matter made him decidedly not happy. Which was...really weird.
He tried picturing Rodney with Ford, Elizabeth, Ronon... Nope. He didn't like any of it. Then he thought of some of them together without Rodney and shrugged it off.
What the hell? Was he homophobic, but only when it came to Rodney? No, because it wasn't just with other guys. So not homophobic but...
One part of him protested that he wasn't annoyed by the imaginary romantic attention Rodney was getting, while another informed him that it wasn't that kind of jealousy. Not jealousy of Rodney, but jealousy of the others.
Which made no sense because it wasn't as if John... He'd never...
It occurred to him that in his little imaginary Rodney kissing marathon, he'd left out one person. Himself. The obvious thing to do was rectify that now and imagine it. This could also provide valuable information about that whole jealousy thing that made very little sense as of now.
But John found himself hesitating. He had the distinct feeling that there was no going back. It wasn't that he was afraid. Except that it was. He could ignore the whole matter, right? Except that his whole problem was that he didn't seem to be able to forget about that kiss.
John took a deep breath. He needed to do this. How bad could it be?
He closed his eyes and imagined being kissed by Rodney. A quick passionate kiss. That slowed down. Then deepened. Then picked up again.
Oh, wow. He didn't find it weird at all. He also couldn't say that he didn't like it. So much for that homophobia theory.
John opened his eyes again. It seemed that he had a thing for Rodney. A gay thing. Which was...well, yes, weird. But also okay, he guessed. There had been those hand jobs. Maybe that wasn't the kind of thing that every guy did, even if they were straight. Maybe it should have clued John in that he was bisexual.
Which was kind of cool now that he thought about it. He had to admit that after those hand jobs he'd wondered what a blow job would be like. Giving one.
He suddenly pictured Rodney's face, full of pleasure, mouth opened in a heart-felt groan. Because John was sucking his dick.
John shifted because his pants were getting tight. Okay, that definitely looked like being straight was out the window. Which, again, was cool. He could work with that.
He wasn't as sure about Rodney. Not the working part. He could work with Rodney. He just wasn't quite sure what to do about the images that were less about work and more about tonsil hockey and cocksucking—and possible fucking. He hadn't imagine that yet but— Oops, there is was. Both of it actually. Fucking Rodney and being fucked by him. Hell, that looked hot.
John shifted again.
Now that he'd had his bisexual epiphany, what was he going to do about it?
Thankfully the answer to that was pretty straightforward so to speak. Make his interest known and see what happens had worked very well for him so far in life.
"Hey Rodney, wanna come over to watch some Doctor Who. I have beer," John radioed him the next day.
"I... Let me start a simulation and I'll be right over," Rodney answered.
"Don't let me wait too long," John said. He knew Rodney. 'Right over' could be anything from ten minutes to two hours.
"Yeah, yeah," Rodney said.
John went to check himself in the mirror. Simple light blue shirt, unbuttoned to show a bit of his chest hair, and jeans. His hair did what it always did. He was good. He started a round of solitaire and was happy to see when Rodney chimed before he'd finished.
"Hey," John said, opening the door for him.
Rodney gave him a quick once over. "Hey."
John walked to the fridge and got out the beer, Rodney behind him. They sat down on the couch, where John had set up the laptop. John sat very close to Rodney, smiled at him, casually touched him when he pointed something out, and was flirty in general.
Rodney didn't flirt back. He also didn't send any signals that projected that he wasn't interested. He seemed...confused. Which was fine for a start. John could understand that Rodney wouldn't have expected this and thus didn't immediately know how to react.
"Want another one?" John asked when the episode was over.
"I'm not sure," Rodney said hesitantly.
"Come on, live a little," John said, casually putting his arm on the armrest behind him. "You never know how long it's gonna last," he added.
"Thanks for the reminder!" Rodney said, giving him a look.
Yes, it wasn't a happy memory for Rodney—or John for that matter—but it brought up the topic. "Hey, everything worked out fine. Even if you could have done without Cadman's invasion. And that kiss."
Rodney made a face. John guessed that jokes about that had been plentiful in the last week.
"It was just a kiss," John said casually. He was still turned to Rodney, his arm behind him, close enough to almost lie around his shoulder. "Have you ever kissed a guy before?"
"It was Cadman!" Rodney said.
"I know," John said. "But it was your body. Have those lips ever kissed a guy before, not counting close relatives when you were a kid?"
Rodney's eyes narrowed. "Why do you want to know?"
John looked at him. Rodney seemed wary. If he was straight he'd have no problem telling John that he didn't kiss guys. So John had to conclude that he did under the right circumstances. "Kissing me could be more enjoyable than kissing Carson," he said, looking straight at Rodney.
Rodney's mouth opened, and he stared at John.
This went on for so long that John got that distinct feeling it was more than momentary surprise. Which was too bad. He'd really liked the idea of exploring this new non-straight side of himself with Rodney. He pulled his arm away. "Uhm, so do you want to play a round of the simulation?" he asked. He didn't want things to become really awkward between them.
When Rodney finally managed to speak it was to flatly say, "You want to kiss me."
John was tempted to say, "Only if you want it too," but he imagined that kiss again, and he simply couldn't deny or didn't want to deny the truth. "Yeah," he admitted.
Rodney scrutinized him for a moment, then asked, "Why?"
"That's a good question," John said. "I don't really know. I just do."
"Since when?" Rodney asked. He clearly still had a hard time believing John. Though John had no idea what purpose lying to him could have.
"Recently," John said. "Since that...Cadman's kiss. It got me thinking."
"How so? You liked the sight so much that you want to experience it yourself?" Rodney asked.
"Uh, no," John said.
"Then?" Rodney asked.
John squirmed in his seat. The whole thing was weird and fairly embarrassing, but he could see that Rodney didn't take his offer at face value, so he'd have to explain himself. "I didn't like it," John admitted. "I didn't like the idea of you kissing Carson. First I thought I was being homophobic but then I realized I didn't like the idea of you kissing other people—female people—either. Then I thought about us kissing and, uh, I realized I like that idea."
"Have you ever even kissed a guy?" Rodney asked suddenly.
"Uh, you mean apart from potentially spin-the-bottle and maybe a drunken bet or things like that?" John asked, without waiting for an answer. "No, I haven't. I've exchanged hand jobs with guys, though."
One of Rodney's eyebrows shot up at that. "What exactly are you suggesting when you say we could kiss?" he asked.
"Well, kiss and...whatever it might lead to," John said.
"Even though you're straight-ish," Rodney said.
"I thought I was straight-ish," John corrected. "Now I think I'm bisexual."
"On account of wanting to kiss me," Rodney said.
"Kissing wasn't the only thing I thought about doing with you," John admitted.
"I see," Rodney said.
"Now that I've answered your twenty questions, maybe you could answer one of mine," John said.
"Yes, I have kissed guys," Rodney said.
"And how do you feel about kissing me?" John asked.
Rodney didn't immediately answer, but his gaze dipped to John's mouth. John smiled. He opened his mouth. "I could be persuaded," Rodney said.
"Persuaded?" John asked mock-hurt. "I'd prefer enthusiastic consent."
"How vocal do I need to be?" Rodney asked with a mischievous smile.
Vocal? That sounded very promising. John moved his hand to Rodney's neck. Rodney's gaze tracked the movement before it turned back to John's eyes. "As vocal as you want," John said and leaned in.
If there'd been any doubt left about his bisexuality, it would have evaporated when he kissed Rodney. The kiss was...indescribable. It started out very nice, but then turned passionate as they deepened it. It left John breathless and needy and hot and with the realization that this wasn't great for a kiss with a guy. It was a great kiss. Better than great. It was exceptional.
It lit something inside John, both filling him and leaving him hungry for more.
Rodney opened his mouth and John plunged his tongue in, which ratcheted up the need even more. He wanted...something. He grabbed for Rodney's shirt, pulling it out to be able to touch skin.
It felt warm and soft, and just like the kiss it only made him want more.
"Maybe we should take this—" Rodney began to suggest. He didn't get further because John agreed and pulled him from the sofa, still kissing and touching and led him to the bed.
He pushed Rodney down and crawled on top of him, pushing up Rodney's shirt on a quest for more skin. Rodney started tearing on John's clothes as well, a hand sneaking inside his shirt and up to tease one of John's nipples.
John groaned and thrust against Rodney. He was rapidly hardening.
Damn, his fantasy of the kiss had been good, but this was so much better. He opened his pants to relieve the pressure on his dick. Rodney's hands slid onto John's ass, which was all kinds of hot. Then Rodney opened his own zipper and they started wriggling and thrusting until their cocks where free and rubbing against each other in toe-curling ways.
John was rock-hard by now, still kissing Rodney and touching him, thrusting aimlessly because it just felt so, so good. Then Rodney grabbed John's ass, rolled them around and gripped both of their dicks in his capable hand and then John could only moan and jerk helplessly as he came.
Rodney moved his hand to finish himself off and then they lay panting on the bed, mouths touching irregularly in half-kisses, half-pants.
That had been awesome!
Eventually Rodney pulled back and looked at John. He didn't say anything until John raised an eyebrow in question.
"I'm going out on a limb and say that you enjoyed that," Rodney said. He looked almost neutral with only a hint of a smile playing on his face. A far cry from the smugness John had expected.
"Yeah, I did," John said. "And I'd definitely be up for...other things."
"Other things," Rodney said, his smile widening a bit.
"Blow jobs," John said. "Fucking."
"You're really embracing that bisexuality thing, huh," Rodney said. John wasn't sure if he was impressed or surprised.
"Why waste any more time?" John said. "And I'm not afraid of trying new things."
"You'd let me fuck you?" Rodney asked.
"Sure, why not," John said.
This time the expression on Rodney's face was definitely surprise.
"What? You think I consider taking it up the ass unmanly or something?" John asked.
"Well," Rodney began. "Probably not. But there's still... It takes a certain amount of trust to do that—at least for some people." After a moment, he added, "Me being one of them."
"So you never?" John asked. He wasn't sure what to do with that information.
"No," Rodney confirmed. "But I'll be happy to fuck you." John frowned. If bottoming was a matter of trust for Rodney and he didn't want to do it with John... That stung. "And I'm not saying I'd never let you fuck me," Rodney added, mollifying John. "I'm just not as non-chalant about it."
"That's fine," John said. "You should only do it if you feel comfortable about it." There were other things they could do. And maybe John would like being fucked. Imagining it was quite a turn-on.
Not that fucking Rodney wasn't, but he respected that this was a big deal—or at least a medium-sized one—for Rodney. And it was kind of flattering that he was considering it with John. Though considering what they went through every time they went through the gate (and sometimes when they didn't) Rodney had better trust him.
John wasn't really surprised when he didn't find Rodney in his room. They liked to decompress after a mission by fucking but destroying five sixth of a solar system was not even a standard bad mission—of which they'd had many. It had been a real clusterfuck, and John had needed Rodney to understand how serious it was.
John had taken for granted that Rodney was infallible—at least when he claimed to be—and realizing that this wasn't the case and that supporting Rodney rightfully reflected badly on John's own judgement had been eye-opening. They both needed to learn to trust but not trust blindly.
What John hadn't meant was to change their non-professional relationship. But he understood that Rodney might not make that distinction or might think that John wouldn't. Which was why John went to look for Rodney and found him without problems in his most remote lab.
"Colonel," Rodney acknowledged him when he saw John, before turning back to his computer.
John leaned against his desk watching Rodney pretend to work. Then he lifted his foot to stroke Rodney's calf. Rodney looked up, obviously confused.
"Your quarters or mine?" John asked, smiling.
"I..." Rodney began. "You'll have to forgive me, but after your little lecture about trust I thought... Was that just anger that now dissipated?"
"No," John said. "That was realizing that I cannot and should not trust you to never ever make a mistake. And neither should you for that matter. We're all human, and humans make mistakes, no matter how smart they are."
"But you still want to have sex with me," Rodney said.
"Yes, I do. One has nothing to do with the other," John said. Rodney looked doubtful. "I can't tell you that I'm not disappointed because I am. Both in you and myself. But that doesn't mean I like you any less. And I don't find you any less attractive."
It finally seemed to sink in that John was serious. Rodney nodded to himself. "That's...good to hear."
"So, how about you fuck me hard," John suggested with a grin. "Imagine I'm the machine that just wouldn't work."
"No," Rodney said immediately, not smiling.
John sobered. "We can do slow. Whatever you want."
Rodney swallowed. "We could... You could fuck me."
He lifted his head and looked so brave that John wanted to hug him. But John still said, "No." Rodney frowned. "Letting me fuck you is not a way to earn my forgiveness," John said. "You have it."
"But...that's not why I offered," Rodney said.
"Really?" John asked, not hiding his doubts. "Then why today of all days?"
"I've thought about this before," Rodney said.
"But you didn't mention it before," John said. "So why now?"
Rodney dropped his gaze. "I...I wasn't sure if this was just...a temporary thing. Not that it's... I mean obviously everything is temporary in the grand scheme of things, but if you'd...had enough, this would have been a good chance to let it go, but you didn't." He carefully looked up at John.
"I like what we're doing," John said. He didn't know where Rodney got the impression that John might have grown tired of it.
"Yes, I... So do I. And I've seen how much you enjoy being fucked, and I want to see if I'll enjoy it as much," Rodney said. "It's not to...bribe you into forgetting what happened or anything like that."
John could believe that Rodney wanted in on pleasure. He wasn't the kind of guy to deny himself, but John still found the timing of the announcement suspect. "How about you fuck me and we'll slowly work our way up to me fucking you?"
"Slowly?" Rodney asked.
"Let me play a bit with that gorgeous ass of yours before I try to fuck you senseless," John clarified.
Rodney swallowed. "That sounds...perfectly acceptable."
John smiled. "So, your quarters or mine?"
"Mine," Rodney said. Which was the bed of choice for more than a quick fumble. John approved.
John didn't know what it was exactly, but Rodney's silent orgasm when he first fucked him seemed to turn a switch for him.
It wasn't that he felt better topping. It wasn't a power thing. It wasn't that he hadn't enjoyed Rodney's orgasm before that. But when Rodney writhed beneath him until he finally froze, eyes opening wide in a look of perfect bliss, John felt touched in a way that had nothing to do with sex.
He still thought about it days later, and sometimes having sex with Rodney—fucking or being fucked—echoed that moment. It was almost weird, but it was also undeniably a good feeling so John didn't overthink it.
More importantly, Rodney had enjoyed being fucked, so they now switched depending on mood, which worked out quite well so far.
John walked to Rodney's quarters. He'd apologized to everyone that he had treated...unusually during his stint as a—he shuddered—bug, but he'd left Rodney for last because he wasn't sure if he needed to apologize.
He'd gotten a bit out of control during sex when he'd started turning, but Rodney had enjoyed that—as had John for that matter. Still Rodney had treated him differently the last days. And not just in a worried for my best friend way.
Worry had been part of it, but there'd also been something else. As if he wanted to keep himself at arm's length from John. He hadn't said anything, but John wasn't blind. Something was up. He just didn't know what.
The only reason he could come up with that Rodney had been surprised by how much he liked the slightly rougher sex and didn't know what it meant. Maybe he was scared that he could have a kinky side. Or he was scared to tell John.
If it was the latter, John could quickly disabuse him of the notion. John was pretty open when it came to sexual experimentation. Between consenting adults anything that didn't hurt anyone was fair game. Except when hurting was part of the fun, then that was fair game too.
"Hey," John said when Rodney opened the door for him.
"Hey," Rodney said, standing as if he wasn't sure whether to let John in or come up with an excuse not to.
John simply squeezed past him into the room.
"Come in, I guess," Rodney said wryly, closing the door behind them.
"I know something is bothering you," John said. "And I want you to know that it doesn't have to."
Rodney looked at him for a long moment. "I'm not sure it's that simple."
"How about you tell me what it is, then I can tell you why it's not an issue," John said. "Unless it really is and then we can see how to deal with it."
Rodney seemed to think about. Then he seemed to come to a conclusion. "Why didn't you ask Teyla to...do whatever it is we're doing? Or did you and she turned you down?"
"What?" John asked. He hadn't expected this at all. He wasn't even sure what exactly Rodney was asking. "What do you mean ask Teyla? Doing what exactly? Having sex with her?"
"Yes," Rodney said. He had that same look he'd gotten in the last days and now John categorized it as vulnerable.
"Why would I— Okay, what exactly are we talking about here? Are you asking me why I have sex with you instead of Teyla?" John asked.
"Essentially yes," Rodney said.
"I just... When we first met Teyla I thought she was hot, which... Let's be honest, you probably thought the same," John said. Rodney conceded it with a miniscule nod. "And I...I flirted with her a bit, I guess, but she didn't seem like the kind of person to just...have sex with. I mean the whole leader of her people thing... And we'd only just arrived here and needed her. She was more important as member of my team than someone to get your rocks off with, and then she just became...Teyla, and while she's still hot, I just don't think of her that way anymore."
"And yet you kissed her," Rodney said.
John blinked. Was this what this was about? "I also tried to kill people, and I'm sure Elizabeth wasn't too enamored with my impromptu removal of that glass wall. I turned into a bug is what I'm saying. That wasn't me."
"So, did you randomly kiss other people or just her?" Rodney pressed.
"Rodney," John began. "She was the only one, but it's not like I ever got into such close contact with anyone. You know how training can get."
"Didn't you train with Ronon too?" Rodney asked.
"Only running," John said. "I don't want to have sex with Teyla. And I certainly don't want her over you. It might have escaped your memory, but the bug in me was also very much into you."
"I remember," Rodney said, flushing.
"I thought that was what you wanted to talk about," John said.
"Is that something we need to talk about?" Rodney asked.
"I don't know, is it?" John asked back.
"It was...pretty hot," Rodney admitted. "I'm not saying it should always be like that, but I could...see us doing that again." His flush deepened.
A smile spread slowly over John's face. "I'll give it to you as rough as you'll like."
If Rodney got any redder, John was going to call him a tomato.
John couldn't get over the fact that they'd just abandoned him here. He understood that Ancient technology could be tricky, and this shield had protected something valuable before sucking John in.
But Rodney was a freaking genius. There was no way that he couldn't find a way through the shield in a week. And even if they couldn't, they could have sent him a note letting him know that they were looking for him.
Instead John had to go and find a way to survive. Teer and her people were friendly, but it was so boring here. And Atlantis had just given up on him. Rodney had given up.
As weeks turned into months it wasn't a matter of giving them time. There was only so many resources they would spent on trying to save him before they considered it a loss and moved on. He knew that.
But it still hurt. He could understand that Elizabeth would make the decision sooner or later. But that Rodney had given up on him just like that was harder to swallow.
John didn't really want to get used to his new life. Even though the others welcomed him or actively encouraged him to become one of them. He saw the way Teer looked at him sometimes. She was pretty, but John didn't have any interest in her. Not even out of spite to show Rodney that he didn't need him, just like Rodney obviously didn't need John.
He was angry at Rodney. But right now he still felt more like yelling at Rodney and then fucking him into next week. Except there was no fucking Rodney—or yelling at him. There was no Rodney. Rodney hadn't come for him. And if he hadn't done it in months, he never would.
Eventually John broke down and slept with Teer. It was the boredom and the fact that she treated him like the second coming. The sex was okay. Nothing to write home about. If he could do that. Which he couldn't.
He missed Atlantis and everyone on it. Well, not everyone but his team and Elizabeth and Carson and Radek and Lorne. Mostly Rodney.
John really couldn't get over the fact that Rodney had abandoned him.
And then it turned out that he hadn't. He was stuck in a stupid time dilation field, so what had been months for him were only hours outside. He was both unbelievably relieved and still incredibly pissed off. Intellectually he knew that it wasn't anyone's fault, but he'd still spent fucking months here thinking they'd cut their losses and left him to die.
When Rodney had the gall to act all jealous about Teer, John simply growled at him. It was slightly satisfying to see him take a step back.
They finally got home to Atlantis, and he shaved and showered. Then he had to decide how long he was going to be mad at Rodney. Longer than this certainly, but unfortunately he also really, really wanted to have sex with him again, so he went to Rodney's quarters.
"Oh, John," Rodney said when he let him in. "I'm glad... How are you?"
"I'm still mad," John said pushing in. "I was there for months with no reason to believe anything but that you'd abandoned me and moved on with your life. Teer basically threw herself at me, and eventually I didn't pushed her away. It wasn't great, but it was better than nothing."
Rodney's mouth skewed downwards, and he lifted his chin.
"I know that all of this is not your fault and that you did everything you can. But so did I!" John said. "So I'm still mad at you for making a fucking deal out of Teer, but I also missed you like crazy, so let's fuck and not talk about this anymore."
Rodney opened his mouth, closed it again, then said, "Okay."
John tried really hard not to breathe down Radek's neck, but they needed Rodney's location stat. They had no idea in which state the puddlejumper was and how Rodney and the pilot were doing.
John felt helpless. He couldn't send out teams to assist or seek allies. Atlantis wasn't telling him where Rodney was and if he was fine. He could do nothing but make sure that Radek did all he could to find Rodney.
Of course, he knew that Radek did his best, but it didn't make John any less anxious.
"We'll find him, Colonel," Radek said at one point.
"Sooner would be better," John only said tersely. He didn't do well with sitting and waiting. If he didn't have anything to do, he started thinking, and even though he liked to make fun of Rodney always assuming the worst, John wasn't entirely immune to it either.
It was far too easy to imagine the puddlejumper filling with water until Rodney drowned. For all they knew he could already be dead.
The idea made John— He immediately threw up all mental blocks that he could. They knew nothing. And as long as that was the case, they needed to operate under the assumption that Rodney was fine and waiting for them to rescue him.
He wouldn't disappoint him. He thought about feeling abandoned in the time dilation field. He couldn't bear the thought of Rodney dying alone, maybe thinking that John could have done more.
John felt an almost physical ache for Rodney. He wanted to pull Rodney into his arms, wanted to assure them both that everything was fine.
Everything would be fine. It had to be.
Except that wasn't how it worked. John knew that all too well. He thought about Grodin and Ford and all the others who shouldn't have ended up the way they did. Would Rodney be one of them? Would the next time he thought about whom they'd lost include Rodney?
John wasn't overly religious, but he found himself sending off a prayer, not necessarily because he believed it would help, but to express how badly he wanted Rodney to be fine. Please. He didn't want to lose Rodney.
He thought about Rodney in his arms, cupping his face, kissing him. He'd never experienced the kind of intimacy he'd experienced with Rodney. He didn't mean the sex, though that was great. It was just that being with Rodney made him feel like he was exactly where he was supposed to be in that moment.
He didn't want to lose that.
And thankfully he didn't have to when they rescued Rodney. He was cold and wet, stumbling as they helped him cross to their puddlejumper.
"He... You..." Rodney said.
"We're here, Rodney," John said. "We got you." He pulled Rodney a little bit closer, not daring to kiss him in Radek's presence.
"You did," Rodney said. "Thank you."
There were so many things John wanted to say. 'Of course we got you. I was worried out of my mind. The thought of losing you drives me crazy.' But in the end he only squeezed his arm harder. Now was not the time. They needed to get Rodney warm and dry and to the infirmary.
John tried not to hover in the infirmary, but when Carson said Rodney was okay, John volunteered to take him home. Rodney raised an eyebrow but didn't otherwise comment.
In Rodney's quarters, John pulled Rodney into his arms and kissed his forehead.
"I, uh," Rodney said. "I'm sorry, but I'm pretty tired."
"I wasn't... Rest," John told him. He watched as Rodney got ready for bed and slipped under the cover. He waited for Rodney to say that John was weirding him out or to tell John to leave, but he didn't.
When he was under the covers and his breathing had slowed down a bit, Rodney said, "I imagined you were there with me."
"In the jumper?" John asked.
"Yes," Rodney said. "You told me someone would come for me."
"We came as fast as we could," John said, sitting down on the bed. "Ask Radek. I threatened him at some point."
"I'm sure he deserved it," Rodney said, quirking a smile and looking at John. "I'm really glad I didn't die," he said seriously.
"Rodney," John said, biting his lip because he didn't want to actually start crying or saying anything that...
"I'm fine," Rodney said, reaching out to squeeze John's hand before closing his eyes.
John took his hand and kissed it. Then he waited for Rodney to fall asleep—and sent out a thank you prayer.
John couldn't get out of the infirmary fast enough. Technically he and Elizabeth had shared the same experience so they were most equipped to understand and commiserate with, but between the kiss and trying to kill each other John's embarrassment weighed out any kind of need to bond over what had happened.
He threw himself into writing a report and doing other stuff, occasionally getting up and flexing his muscles just to see that he was still the sole arbiter of what his body was doing.
For lunch he did the cowardly thing and waited until Elizabeth was done before sneaking in and out with sandwiches and looking for Rodney.
He found Rodney in a lab. The moment Rodney looked at him, John thought, "Uh oh." He'd seen that look. He had to think for a moment before he recalled the situation. It had been after the whole bug debacle when he'd kissed Teyla and Rodney had been all weird about that.
"I can't believe you're jealous of Elizabeth," John said. "It was not us!"
"I'm not jealous of her," Rodney said, eyes narrowing and chin moving up.
"But something is up," John said, setting the sandwiches down and leaning against the desk.
"What Thalan said," Rodney began, "about how you feel about Teyla..." John sighed. "So what?" Rodney asked. "Was that a complete lie?"
"It was..." John stopped himself, not sure what to say. "It's not like I hate her or anything, you know that. She means... All of you mean a lot to me."
"He only mentioned her," Rodney said.
"Because he wanted to manipulate her," John said. "It didn't work thankfully. And actually I think it was a lie. I think Teyla has a pretty good idea how much she means to me—and in which way. Unlike certain people who seem to bring it up again and again."
"Again and again?" Rodney asked, looking outraged. "The last time I brought it up, you'd kissed her."
"The last time you'd brought it up, I'd been a bug!" John countered.
"Okay, let's forget about that," Rodney said. "I just... You said you were attracted to her, but that she was too important to start something casual with that might have risked her staying. But it's not like that anymore. I mean you— Unless you've been sleeping with other people."
"I haven't," John said automatically.
"Was it...hard for you?" Rodney asked.
"To not sleep with other people?" John asked. "No. I'm perfectly fine with— Rodney, what exactly are you saying? And why do you keep pushing me towards Teyla? Do you...want out of our relationship?"
"No," Rodney said. "But..." He took a deep breath and exhaled. "I want you to be happy. And if Teyla is whom you want and the reason you're not with her is because of the commitment that you weren't sure you could offer... I think the last months have proven that while technically there was no commitment, you don't have a problem to be in something which you just called a relationship. I don't think she'd ask for more than you can give her. You can be with her."
John stared at him. "What about you?"
Rodney dropped his gaze, then he swallowed and lifted his chin. "I'll be fine."
"Well, I wouldn't," John said. "I don't know how much clearer I can get, but I do not want Teyla or anyone else. I'm with you. I like being with you. I don't want anything to change."
Rodney looked stubborn. "So if Teyla came to you today and confessed her feeling to you..."
"We both know that's not going to happen, but for the sake of argument, if Teyla confessed her undying love for me today, I'd gently let her down and tell her that I'm sorry and already in a relationship."
"You keep calling it a relationship," Rodney said. "Is that what it is? Not just technically, but what most people think of when they hear of a relationship—a romantic relationship."
John shifted from one foot to another. He was aware that when they'd started it had been a mixture of experimentation and recreational fucking. And things hadn't changed officially. But he certainly felt like they were in a relationship. "Yeah, I think so," he said.
"When did that happen?" Rodney asked.
"I don't know. At some point in the last months," John said. "Or year if we count my time in the time dilation field, which we're not talking about. Is this a problem? Would you rather keep it more casual?"
"No," Rodney said.
John was relieved. He would have been surprised if Rodney had said yes, but it was good to actually hear it. "So we're good?" he asked.
"Yes," Rodney said. After a second, he added, "Well..."
"Yes?" John prompted.
"Nothing," Rodney said.
"Rodney," John said. "I don't really want another Teyla thing happening a few months from now. Spit it out."
Rodney hesitated. "So we're in an exclusive 'committed' relationship."
"Why are you making airquotes around committed?" John asked. "We're...in a relationship and at this point both of our intention is to stay in this relationship...with each other and nobody else. Right?"
"Yes," Rodney said.
John had the feeling that he was still missing something. "Did you want more of a commitment?" He wasn't even sure what that would look like, considering they couldn't be out.
"No," Rodney said.
"Okay," John said. "I brought sandwiches."
"Didn't want to eat at the mess and risk running into Elizabeth?" Rodney asked with a smirk, taking a sandwich.
"I don't get why you don't get irrationally jealous of her," John said, starting to eat as well.
"I'm not sure," Rodney said. "You get so uncomfortable when she so much as worries about you, I just can't see you having sex with her."
John shrugged. "I can't see it either. But I could see us after dinner—if you're done here."
John watched Rodney and Norina and quietly fumed. He was itching to go over and give her a piece of his mind, but he didn't for two reasons. The first was that she wasn't explicit about flirting with Rodney. It was all covered under admiration of his scientific mind. John didn't buy that that was all it was, but she had plausible deniability going for her.
The second and more serious reason was that what he really wanted to say was something along the lines of "Hands off, he's mine!" The problem was that he couldn't say that without risking it coming back to Atlantis. He didn't feel particularly guilty about breaking fraternization rules, but openly flaunting it would not only bring that to light but also violate Don't Ask Don't Tell.
So he kept it at glares and standing a bit closer to Rodney than was strictly necessary.
Rodney for his part wasn't making things worse by actively flirting back. He couldn't help preening a bit at Norina's attention, but that was Rodney's normal reaction when he felt that his genius was rightfully admired.
John watched them and reminded himself that Rodney would come home with him and that Norina didn't have a real chance. But it still felt wrong having to stay quiet and watch her subtly make a move on Rodney.
He really wanted to be able to say, "I'm sorry, but he's taken." This had never been an issue for him before. He'd had no problem with hiding their relationship. He was a pretty private person anyway, and on missions they acted in their professional capacity. It shouldn't matter whether they were open about their relationship or not.
But suddenly it did matter. Suddenly, the omission of this information felt like a lie.
Their relationship was a private matter between the two of them. Except when it wasn't. Except when being in a relationship said something about who you were because you met someone and fell in love and started a journey with them full of excitement and work and pleasure and responsibility and so much more.
He'd worn his wedding ring until the day of his divorce, not because he regretted the divorce but because he stood by the decision he'd made even if he'd failed in the end. He thought he was doing pretty well with Rodney. Their commitment hadn't been as explicit but John felt it now in a way he hadn't before.
He thought their recent discussion after his (and Elizabeth's) body had been taken over had been helpful, but now he realized that it didn't seem enough. Was that what Rodney's issue had been? That he'd wanted more but knew that he couldn't ask?
John knew he could ignore this because at this point in time no amount of wishing would change their situation, but he still brought it up with Rodney after they'd returned to Atlantis.
"Thank you for...not flirting back with Norina," John said.
Rodney raised an eyebrow. "Well, you already had a pretty impressive glare going, so I didn't think it would be wise to tempt fate."
"You would have flirted back if I hadn't been there?" John asked.
"Uh," Rodney said. John pouted. "Only playfully, of course," Rodney said. "I would never risk— We're in a relationship and at this point intend to stay in it. Wasn't that what we'd established?"
"'At this point'? Was that what I said?" John asked. It sounded like a qualification the way Rodney said it, and John didn't think he'd meant it like one.
"I'm pretty sure it was," Rodney said. "Why? Did you...change your mind?" The question was neutral, but John could see the tenseness in Rodney's stance.
"I wish we could be open about our relationship," John said, getting to the point, though when it occurred to him that Rodney might read that as deflection, he explicitly added, "And no, I have not changed my mind."
"You wanted to tell Norina to keep her hands off me?" Rodney said, clearly happy with the idea.
"What do you mean 'hands off'?" John asked, eyes narrowing. "Which hands were on you?"
Rodney's smile widened into a grin. "You're jealous."
"Hell yes, I am," John said. "She had no business fawning over you like that."
"If it makes you feel better I could tell people in the future that I already am in a relationship," Rodney offered. "Though they might ask about my partner. What should I tell them then?"
"It's not really..." John began but stopped. "Yes, it's a bit about making people like her stop, but it's also...about other things. Like people knowing that we, uh, chose each other." That had sounded less weird in his head.
"Being a couple," Rodney said, a soft smile playing on his face.
"Yes," John agreed. "Being a couple. Being someone who is in a relationship. A serious relationship that they hope..." What he wanted to say was 'will last forever' but the implications of that...
"Will last," Rodney finished for him.
"Yes," John said. He thought about his prior marriage again. He still wasn't entirely certain if he could have handled it differently and made it work. He'd promised himself not to try again until he was sure. He couldn't say for certain that a marriage with Rodney would last, but it was worth considering at some point in the future. The future they wanted to have together.
"This is all I ever wanted," Rodney said. "After you and Elizabeth... I know we can't be openly together at this point. But I wanted to know that it's something that you want. And one day..."
"One day," John said, nodding.
One day they'd come out as a couple. One day John would tell Rodney that he loved him. And maybe they'd even get married one day. It was hard to believe that less than a year ago he'd considered himself straight and the sight of Rodney's body kissing another guy had been inexplicably weird to him.
His life had changed since then but at the same time it felt like a natural progression. And maybe it had been a bit weird how he got here, but he couldn't wait to find out where it would lead him.