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"What are you doing?" Rodney asked.

John looked up from his desk to the man standing in his door. "What's up?" John asked, surprised. It usually his job to chase after Rodney and roust Rodney out of the labs. Not the other way around.

Rodney shifted in place, projecting uncertainty. "Just thought... maybe..." he stuttered.

John put down the report he was reading and really looked at Rodney. "What's wrong?"

"Can I sit?" Rodney asked, faintly.

"Yeah, sure," John said, pushing his kinda wobbly 'guest' chair in Rodney's direction. It was wobbly on purpose; it was to keep anyone from getting too comfortable and staying too long. Lorne stood a lot when visiting with John.

Rodney sat gingerly.


"You could get a better chair," Rodney complained, trying to get comfortable without (a) falling off the chair or (b) breaking the chair completely.

"You don't even have a chair in your office," John pointed out mildly. "So, what do you need?"

Rodney -- carefully -- fidgeted for a moment before taking a deep breath. "Okay, this is hard because I know we're friends and you're the military commander and all but there are things I can't tell you," Rodney said in one breath.

"And?" John drawled.

"You aren't mad?" Rodney peered at John in surprise.

John shrugged. "There are military things I don't tell you," John said.

Rodney's eyes got shifty for a moment before he got his face under control. John had figured that Rodney had his fingers in the military part of the computer system. There really wasn't anything that Rodney shouldn't see, but he had to play the game.

"Yeah, but they aren't important," Rodney waved it off.

"And you can't tell me something that's important?" John asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Ummm... yes?" Rodney said, ears turning red.


John was intrigued, mostly because he knew the last delivery from the Daedalus had some deliveries for all of them that came... outside normal channels. The every three days dial-in between Earth and the revised gate bridge kept them in touch and reasonably well supplied. But the Daedalus brought people back and forth as well as bigger -- and sometimes irregular -- things.

John had gotten a printed letter from General O'Neill, which wasn't terribly unusual since Atlantis -- and the SGC -- now fell outside the direct military chain of command and reported to Homeworld Security. The IOA had finally imploded when the Chinese had made an attempt to take over and the Brits, Canadians and -- interestingly, enough -- the Russians got tired of the machinations and threw the entire project to the mercy of the Americans. The IOA still got to play, but in a seriously diminished capacity.

But O'Neill was usually an email guy and John knew he hated paperwork as much as John did. The letter itself was classic O'Neill -- faintly mystifying but reassuring in a back handed compliment sort of way that John had finally gotten used to. It had essentially said, you're doing a good job, keep it up. And it wasn't even John's personnel review time. That was at least another couple of months away.

John knew it was all make sense at some point. He wondered if there was any connection to Rodney's mysterious project.


"Okay," John said.

Rodney started in surprise, the chair creaked alarmingly. "Just okay?" he stuttered.

"I trust you," John admitted. "When I need to know more, you'll tell me."

Rodney looked especially pleased at the compliment and John reminded himself he needed to say things like that out loud once in a while. His reluctance to say too much led him to not saying enough to Rodney.

"Thanks!" Rodney replied with a grin.

"What do you need me for?" John asked.

Rodney hesitated, as if gathering his courage, and said, "I need to... work out more." He looked down at his waistline and admitted. "I've put on a couple of pounds since we've been back and not running for my life." He gave a small grin. "Not that I mind that much. Not running for my life, that is. But I'd like to... tone up some."

John sat back, surprised. He would not have thought Rodney would have body image issues like that. John's next through was that Rodney had his eye on one of the new folk on Atlantis and wanted to make a better impression. He tried not to think too hard about why that idea distressed him so much.


John tamped down the feeling and put on a smile. "Sure, we can do that," he said. "What do you think you need to do?"

"I'm not good at this and was hoping you'd... spend time working out with me," Rodney asked, somewhat hesitantly.

John was surprised at the hesitation. "That won't be a problem," he reassured Rodney. "I've been looking for a reason to dump more things on Teldy and Cadman. Working out with you is as good as any."

Rodney's smile was brilliant. John's heart stuttered, just a little.

"What kind of a timeline you looking at?" John asked.

"I have this... thing on Earth in about nine weeks," Rodney said. "That I can't tell anyone about. Yet. But I'd like to look... nicer."

Not a person, then, which made John feel immediately better. Probably showing off for other scientists at some top secret conference. That was something John could get enthusiastic about.

"You know you can't work miracles in nine weeks," John pointed out.

Rodney grimaced. "Yeah, I know. But if I can lose like ten pounds and not wheeze like an asthmatic as I climb stairs, I'll be happy with that," he admitted.