The repeal of the ridiculous and antiquated provision of the US military regulations known colloquially as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ came as something of an anti-climax to Rodney, at least insofar as it pertained to his personal life. There were general city-wide celebrations, of course; Rodney went to as many parties as he could and stuffed his face with rainbow cake, and had to endure one painfully earnest speech of support from Radek, three tearful coming-out speeches, and gratuitous public displays of affection in what seemed like every hallway and transporter. But as regards his own, no longer illicit, very much homosexual romance, there was, not to put too fine a point on it, a distinct lack of glitter.
In a move that made up in simplicity what it lacked in subtlety, Rodney took to haunting the places where he expected John to be. He was doing exactly that, on the pretext of fine-tuning the sensor arrays, when John sauntered out of Woolsey’s office and caught his eye.
“I’m nailing that,” said Rodney, suffused with wonder and pride.
“Yes,” said Chuck patiently. “I know. And I’m sorry, but you’re still not allowed to announce it on the city-wide address system.”
Rodney quickly logged out and went to catch up with John, who was loitering by one of the doors.
“Hey,” said John, starting his saunter again once Rodney fell in line.
“Hey yourself. So, did you tell him?”
John nodded. “Signed a change of quarters form and everything.”
“That’s commitment for you.” Rodney looked John over for signs of panic or other emotional perturbation. He looked like he had that morning - tanned, relaxed, hair still following a different, much less formal dress code than the rest of him. “So, how did he take it?”
John looked puzzled. “He already knew, Rodney. Everyone did. We weren’t exactly secret.”
“Yes, but-” Rodney paused to find a way of saying ‘why aren’t you crying big gay tears of joy like the rest of the club?’ in a way that sounded marginally less homophobic, which proved that the three-hour seminar he’d been forced to sit through (despite trying to claim exemption on the grounds of his long-declared and proven bisexuality) hadn’t been a complete waste of time.
“Listen,” said John as they reached a transporter. “I’m taking the new marines over to PKX-349 for off-world training this afternoon so I might be late back. Have a good day.” He smacked Rodney on the shoulder, ducked into the transporter and was gone before Rodney could even contemplate attempting a gratuitous public display of affection of his own.
John still wasn’t back by the time Rodney went to bed, which meant no celebratory moving-in sex. Not that there had been much in the way of physical moving - most of John’s clothes had already migrated to Rodney’s dresser, and his latest brick-size paperback loomed oppressively over the far side of the bed - but Rodney had hoped for better company than John’s carefully re-hung Johnny Cash poster.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said to the poster and its intimidating gaze when he came back from changing in the bathroom. “I save the universe on a regular basis, who has time to go to the gym?”
Rodney was woken in the middle of the night by the familiar sounds of John clattering round their quarters in the dark. He rolled over, flicked the lights on and saw John sitting on the floor struggling to un-do his knotted boot-laces.
“So what, you just skipped class the day they were teaching combat stealth?”
“Must have clashed with ‘Putting up with smartass comments 101’.” Having finally managed to wrench his boots off, John stood up and made his way to bed, discarding his shirt and trousers on the way like a stripper who was having an existential crisis and could no longer see the point in making a big production of it all.
“You’re really late,” said Rodney as John spooned up behind him. He smelt sweaty and smoky, like he usually did when he’d spent the day running round playing soldiers in the woods. “I felt like an abandoned military wife. Like I should have waved you through the stargate with my tear-speckled handkerchief, or tied a yellow ribbon round the balcony railing or something.”
John didn’t say anything but turned the light off and wriggled closer, draping one arm across Rodney’s middle and insinuating his cold, bony knees into the warm, hitherto unoccupied space behind Rodney’s.
Rodney yawned, stretched, and was about to drift back to sleep when he became aware of the erection nudging up against his ass.
“Huh.” He shifted his hips experimentally. If anything, John’s cock got even harder. “Wanna fuck?”
“No. Sh, ignore it.”
Rodney couldn’t ignore it. John’s cock was his second favorite cock in the universe and they hadn’t had sex in over a week. He tried staying still but couldn’t stop thinking about what a tragedy it would be if they spent the night in bed together without anyone having an orgasm when John’s cock was clearly awake and interested, and then he found that he had an erection too.
Rodney squirmed back against John’s cock and stuck one hand in his shorts.
“Hey, you started it. Just let me get off and then I’ll go back to sleep.” Rodney could feel the dull, blunt pressure of John’s cock teasing him through the cotton layers of two pairs of boxer shorts. He rocked back against it as he tugged his dick with efficient, furtive movements. It reminded him of being a teenager and sneakily masturbating whenever he could to take the edge off the constant horniness, and thus turned him on in a weird, nostalgic way.
“I can’t believe you’re jerking off next to me,” said John, stroking Rodney’s stomach and entirely failing to move away.
“Feel free to get in on this.”
John sighed in Rodney’s ear. “Fine.” He pushed down their shorts just far enough so that he could push his cock between Rodney’s buttocks, then wrapped his arm round Rodney’s waist again and started thrusting.
“Sh.” John licked the side of Rodney’s neck before resuming his lazy, sleepy, graceless, humping.
The slide of John’s hard cock over his asshole was driving Rodney crazy. He slowed his hand and wriggled, trying to get the right angle so that John would slide in rather than over, but the logistics of this maneuver defeated him. “Just get the lube and stick it in already,” said Rodney at last, desperate.
John’s response was to grunt and come all over Rodney’s lower back.
“I hate you,” said Rodney with heartfelt sincerity.
John wrapped one hand over Rodney’s and urged him on. “I’ll fuck you properly tomorrow. However you want.”
Rodney thought about it. “On my knees. With the pillows underneath because of my back.”
“Roger that,” said John, and he pressed one knuckle against Rodney’s asshole and Rodney came with a slow sweetness that left his body humming all the way down to his toes.
It also left him sticky and disinclined to move.
“Ugh, we’re going to be so gross in the morning.”
John grunted, stretched, rolled out of bed and padded to the bathroom.
Rodney lay still listening to the running water and trying to convince himself that he should do the same, even though he knew he was going to fall asleep in thirty seconds max and regret it in the morning. The bed dipped as John returned and something cool and damp touched Rodney’s back, which in his sleep-addled state took him a couple of seconds to identify as a washcloth. John carefully, gently wiped Rodney’s back and stomach and hand before heading back to the bathroom while Rodney tugged his shorts back up.
John climbed back into bed. “Night.”
Rodney grunted in response, and lay there listening to John’s breath slow and even out until it was painfully obvious that John was fast asleep and he wasn’t.
Insomnia, as a general rule, was one of the few things Rodney didn’t suffer from. It wasn’t just that life on Atlantis was exhausting; Rodney had always been able to put his head down and sleep, whenever, wherever. On the rare occasions he did have trouble getting to sleep, it was because his subconscious mind had spotted something wrong that his conscious mind hadn’t, and was waiting for the right moment to jump out and slap him with it. Rodney closed his eyes, found the niggling feeling at the back of his brain and concentrated on tracing it back to its source.
“What’s up?” said John.
“I thought you were asleep.”
“I can hear you thinking.”
“Rodney. What’s the matter?”
Rodney took a breath to compose himself, just like in Teyla’s stupid breathing exercises, because he was nearly as certain that John’s answer would be ‘no’ as he was that this was the right question, and his heart was thundering in his chest. “Do you want to get married?”
John didn’t answer right away. “You want to get married,” he said eventually, with the caution he normally reserved for bombs and very small children.
“Yes,” said Rodney. “To you,” he added for clarity, because in his experience it was surprisingly easy for people to get confused at this point in the proceedings. Clarity over romance, that was a good principle – plenty of time to get sappy later when the basic facts had been established.
John stayed silent. Rodney was familiar with a wide range of John’s silences, from the stoically enduring silence to the painfully awkward silence that John projected when people had emotions near him. This was one of the nicer ones, a listening silence made up of John’s slow, steady breath and his arm around Rodney’s waist and the warm, comforting darkness of the room.
“I thought you were looking for a hot, blonde wife,” said John, his voice neutral.
“Plans change,” said Rodney confidently, entirely refusing to acknowledge that five minutes ago he’d still been operating under the unconscious assumption that he’d resume the search for Mrs McKay when this thing with John fell apart. That plan was of the past, and its flaws had been self-evident as soon as Rodney had spared a moment to examine it, and there was no point in dwelling on old, inferior plans when there were new, better ones to implement. “I bet shacking up with a Nobel Prize winner-to-be wasn’t part of your five-year-plan.”
“I never planned any of this,” said John quietly, like a confession, as if it wasn’t plainly obvious to everyone that John was surprised anew each year to still be alive. “I was pretty bad at it last time.”
“Big whoop, she wasn’t me. I’ll grant you that your ex-wife is seriously hot but I am much, much smarter.”
“It’s just a piece of paper.”
Rodney waved one arm blindly in the darkness. “You’re speaking to the man with how many framed certificates on his wall?”
“Heh, true.” John touched his toes to the soles of Rodney’s bare feet. “Ok.”
“Ok, I’ll think about it. Ask me again in six months.”
Which wasn’t the most resounding response but was still better than the last two times Rodney had attempted to propose (he still couldn’t decide which was worse - the panic attack and non-proposal he’d inflicted on Katie, or Jennifer’s gentle refusal that had made for such a sad, awkward end to their Valentine’s Day dinner that he’d faked an allergic reaction and she’d actually gone along with it). He’d take it.
“Now,” said John. “It’s late. I’m tired, you’re tired, we’ve had sex, we’ve talked - can we please go to sl-”
Rodney was asleep before John finished the sentence.
The next day Chuck had just started his shift when Dr McKay bounced into the control room.
“Hey, chuckles,” he said, snapping his fingers obnoxiously in Chuck’s direction. “Put a note in the calendar. I need you to remind me in six months.”
“What’s in six months?”
“It’ll be six months from today, obviously.” Dr McKay stared at Chuck as if he was an idiot, and for a brief moment Chuck genuinely wasn’t sure which of them was the crazy one.
He pulled up the city calendar. “You know, you could do this on your own-“
“Done. Also on Radek’s, Miko’s and the lab calendar. This is important.” Dr McKay stared at Chuck again, his serious expression at odds with his untucked shirt and fluffy, lopsided bedhead.
“Done,” said Chuck, showing him the screen.
Dr McKay relaxed suddenly, dropping his shoulders as a smile split his face like sunshine piercing a thundercloud. “Good. That’s good.” He clapped his hands together, rubbed them, bounced up onto his toes, looked around, then strode off as abruptly as he’d arrived.
Unnerved, Chuck took the first opportunity he had to mention it to Colonel Sheppard, who started to shake his head before pausing with the oddest expression – sort of surprised and rueful and pleased, all at once.
“Do you know what he’s talking about, sir? Because it the city’s going to explode I’d like to take my annual leave early.”
“Relax, no-one’s in any danger.” Sheppard tilted his head on one side, considering. “Depending on your point of view.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Sheppard gave him a ‘trust me’ grin, full of promise and shiny white teeth, and moved away. On his way out of the control room he paused by Amelia’s desk, fished a tiny rainbow candy out of the half-full jar she had there and popped it in his mouth before striding off.
Chuck filed his leave request anyway, just to be on the safe side.