- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
Rodney has three freckles on his right shoulder. John thinks they are the constellation pointing home – an isosceles triangle where he is both lost and found. This piece of fragile flesh demands the brush of John’s lips each morning – his silent prayers breaking against his lover’s skin. Rodney is so warm that John believes his man is stardust. The violent, explosive heat of a galaxy captured and formed into caffeinated snark and brilliance. Here, perched on an alien sea, he has learned new definitions. Home is never forever. But, sometimes John finds eternity in a shaft of light and the salt-sweet taste of three freckles.
John snores. You’d think his insane donkey laugh would be the most horrible noise he makes. But no, he snores like a lumberjack. Rodney knows he’s in love the first time he finds the snoring endearing instead of annoying. It doesn’t stop him from shoving the man off the bed and onto the floor. Really, if people expect Rodney to perform heroic acts of genius to keep them all alive, he needs his beauty sleep.
John asks about the piano thing. Rodney’s casual relaying of the story makes something hard and tight press against the back of John’s ribs.
Jeanie had shown John pictures of her and Rodney as kids. She’d laughed about the out of date fashions and unruly hair but John had seen how sad Rodney looked. Always a little awkward. Just a little apart from everyone else in the frame.
Of course there were all the pictures of Rodney alone holding one award or another. Ribbons, trophies, plaques, certificates, but always the same sad eyes looking at the camera.
He wondered when Rodney learned to pull on a mask of arrogance instead. To set his jaw, lift his chin, and narrow his eyes as if daring the photographer to take fault. “Piano teacher” was added to John’s list of all the people who failed Rodney.
He watches Rodney take apart the control panel of Jumper One, swapping out crystals, muttering to himself as he reroutes the power coupling and improves the sensitivity of the drone targeting. And John can imagine it, those same brilliant hands at the piano. The twist of his wrist, tendons sliding around the delicate bones, fingers flying across keys, creating music out of possibility, probability.
It is days after the piano conversation, but John suddenly hears himself say “She was wrong.”
Rodney looks up from the Jumper components “What? Who was wrong? About what?”
“Your piano teacher. She was wrong. No one could watch you do anything you love and think you lack soul.”
“Of course she was wrong. She was an idiot. Why are we even talking about this?”
John doesn’t have an answer. He just shrugs and says “Lunch? They have the almost ham from PX847.”
Rodney rigs the DHD to blow the Stargate in 10 minutes. Ronan has Col. Sheppard draped over on shoulder while he and Teyla lay down cover fire to keep the natives back.
Rodney isn’t good at romance. He knows this. He can’t remember birthdays or anniversaries. He never notices when someone is wearing a new shirt or got a haircut.
He can’t even do the sort of romance that John is so good at. John doesn’t say much, but he makes Rodney feel loved in a thousand small gestures: bringing him dinner, trading him the good chocolate chip protein bars in exchange for the nasty oatmeal raisin ones, not complaining very much when Rodney slides his cold feet under John’s thigh while they watch movies on his laptop.
But, Rodney has always been greedy. He’s always known how to declare things “mine”. He may suck at romance, but he damned well knows how to make even the biggest bully think twice about taking anything of his. So when some backwater planet thinks they can lay hands on John… Rodney has no compunction about blowing their gate to smithereens and leaving their entire people as sitting ducks for the wraith.
He may still have trouble saying, “I love you” without feeling like he’s going to choke on it.
But he has no trouble ensuring everyone in this messed up galaxy knows John Sheppard is his.