Rating: Hard R
Summary: "Most women are higher maintenance than the apparently casual liaisons you and I have enjoyed, which we both know have the underpinnings of something far deeper and heretofore unspoken, and which after this will never be brought up again, at least by me. But Elizabeth isn't most women."
Notes: Written in 2.5 hours on 2.5 manhattans, with the few typos, the single accidental POV shift, and the need to make it a little bit bigger found by the most excellent and honorable smaragdgrun. All mistakes, mine.
"Don't follow her."
"And when did you become the expert on relationships?"
"I am a trained observer. I spent years honing my ability to observe, correlate, cross check, brilliantly leap across gaps in the data, and conclude correctly. Don't follow her."
"She's not a physics problem, Rodney."
There was a pause.
"Did you just say I was right?"
There was no answer.
John rolled toward Rodney, filling the space in the bed Elizabeth had just left. He propped his head in his hand and looked down. Rodney's eyes were closed, the corners of his mouth turned up. There was something different in the default smugness that his face usually wore.
"Are you-" John paused, then filled in with the generic question, "-okay with this?"
The creases around Rodney's mouth deepened. "Did you know she cried?"
"What do you mean?"
"She came so hard that she cried, John. We did that."
"But she left."
"I'm finding your one-word answers a little disturbing. I've never reduced you to that."
Rodney opened his eyes. "So that's what this is about? Sexual jealousy?"
"Don't be an idiot."
"I am categorically unable to be an idiot, barring a head wound."
"Or the mind-numbing capacity of good sex."
Rodney closed his eyes again and smiled. "Great sex."
"But she left."
"You are repeating yourself."
"What am I supposed to think?"
Rodney gave him a pitying look. "You were dozing, like you always do, and didn't hear her head set beep. Someone called."
"So she left."
"Oh." John sat up, turning to the edge of the bed, feeling only partly relieved. The sheet fell in the process, leaving only a corner as a fig leaf.
Rodney sat up also, moving across the bed so that he could lean across John's back with his chin on John's shoulder. "More to the point, are you okay with this?"
John took advantage of the moment. Such things didn't come often, and when they did, his usual tactic was to pointedly ignore that a moment might, in fact, be happening. Elizabeth deserved better. "I haven't been with a woman I cared about for a long time, and the last one ended badly."
Rodney snorted. "When was that, high school?"
"Summer break from the Academy. Someone I'd known from high school."
"Did it occur to you that it ended badly because, oh, say, you're homosexual?"
"Right. Don't ask. Don't tell. What an asinine policy, and even given the lame amount of science in the so-called social sciences, there are relatively good data, statistically speaking, indicating that-"
"Put a sock in it."
Rodney relaxed again against John's back. "Sorry. Canadian. Raised with rational social policies and not Puritanical backwash."
John felt a quiet sigh before Rodney answered, "Do you require a military issue sock, or shall we take the metaphorical one for granted?"
John turned, forcing Rodney to sit up. "We don't talk much."
"Sure we do. Mission briefings and debriefings alone account for hours of my time better spent in the lab, not to mention discussions of Ancient technology, and the fact that I have found it useful to formulate my thoughts into linearity while putting them into words when I talk about my latest problems in the lab, and you're not talking about that, are you?"
"You want to have an 'us' conversation."
John turned back to the side of the bed. "Not really."
"But given the events of the last two hours, you feel we should."
"Something like that."
"What's to talk about?"
"Look, I care about her. I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to hurt... us. Whatever us is."
"Now that's part of the issue, isn't it? We've never defined us. We sneak around. We have good sex. As far as I know, neither of us is seeing someone else, and to the best of my knowledge our sexual relationship has never interfered with your command decisions."
"We don't sneak around."
"I apologize. We meet discretely for liaisons, preserving the image of chastity."
John turned back to glare at Rodney.
"Sock. Got it," Rodney said. "You talk."
John turned away again, and said nothing. He felt the bed shift behind him. In his mind's eye, he could see Rodney waiting with his arms folded. "It's different with you," he said. "You're a guy."
"Glad you noticed. Oops, sorry, back to the sock."
"No," John said and shook his head and gave a vague wave, meaning that Rodney should talk if he wanted to. "It's different. Women are-"
Rodney let the silence stretch for a moment, then said, "Women are what? Softer? Naturally lubricated?"
"Yes. Viva la, and all that stuff. What's your point?"
"It's more complicated with women."
"And you're basing this on a sample size of one?" Rodney snorted, and John was certain now that the arms were crossed. "That's not statistically relevant, and even you know that."
"Help me out here. You're bisexual. You've been with women."
"Correction. I'm am not bisexual. I am sexual. The brain is the most potent sexual organ, and having more capacity than most, I'm not limited in attraction by mere details of plumbing. Plus, I can name several women with whom I'm relatively certain you've had sex."
"Fine. You've been with women in actual relationships more than I have."
"Not many. I'm notoriously bad with women. Not so great with men either. The whole dating thing is idiotic. I'm glad we skipped that and went straight to the sex."
"Help me out here," John said again.
John expected further snark, but there was a long moment of quiet before Rodney moved to wrap himself around John once again.
"I observe, John. Astrophysics is part observation, part calculation. Experimental physics is part calculation, part observation. People are not physics problems, but the principle remains: Observe."
"Yeah? And calculate?"
"Not really. Sometimes. With people there are often too many variables. My observations tell me you love her."
John could feel Rodney's arms tighten in response to his own sudden tension, and Rodney said, "You do."
"I do." He slumped down, but Rodney's arms stayed tight.
"In your own maniacal way, you love me, don't you?"
John couldn't say anything for a long time, and then he said, "I never thought I'd end up in bed with her. She's not exactly my type."
John could feel Rodney's slight vibration, a chuckle deep in the chest. "You didn't end up in bed with her. She ended up in bed with us."
Rodney's amusement irritated John like a stone in his emotional combat boots. "And that makes it okay?"
Rodney seemed to understand John's annoyance, and answered seriously. "Most women are higher maintenance than the apparently casual liaisons you and I have enjoyed, which we both know have the underpinnings of something far deeper and heretofore unspoken, and which after this will never be brought up again, at least by me. But Elizabeth isn't most women."
Rodney pulled John back to lie at an angle across the bed and leaned over, one hand supporting his weight, the other reaching casually to rest on the corner of sheet between John's thighs. "Do you have any idea what that was like, watching you with her?"
John closed his eyes. Remembering the combination of abandon and restraint, of gentling his mouth on hers and holding his weight while at the same time giving in to the sensations and letting the rhythm take both of them.
Rodney was still talking, curling his fingers, "Do you have any idea what it was like, knowing that most of the slickness I felt in her was from you?"
John felt himself stir. If there were anything left in him, he'd be arching into the possessive grip. And then Rodney started talking about the reason there was nothing left. "Do you have any idea what it was like knowing that you were hard again from watching her with me? How hot it was feeling you in her, too? Being shocked out of the moment to analyze the strange sensation of moisture on my face and realizing it was her tears?"
John opened his eyes. "Did I hurt her?"
"Good god, no. At least, not in any way she didn't like. Twice."
"What do we do?"
Rodney sat up. "We do what we've always done. When things go to hell, we fix them."
"I mean with Elizabeth."
"You don't think she fixes things when things go to hell?"
"You know what I mean."
Rodney didn't have to answer. There was someone at the door. "Yes?"
Rodney moved his hand. "Come in."
John eased himself up on his elbow, peering around Rodney to watch Elizabeth come through the door.
"Sorry about that," she said, taking off her head set and holding it in her hand. "I, I didn't want to just leave."
"Crisis solved?" John asked.
"Nothing major, just details. Everything is details," she sighed.
John realized she intended a double meaning. He decided to pretend she was a guy. "Coming back to bed?"
"I should, you know, I should be seen coming out of my own quarters in the morning."
"I know." John knew all too well.
Elizabeth looked at them both, and didn't say anything. All of her body language projected nervous uncertainty. John got up from the bed, pretending he was in uniform and not naked. He took her hands, feeling the head set she held, and bent his forehead down to touch hers. "You're in command," he said, "out there and in here. We're here when you need us."
She tilted her head back and looked at him. "Moral support?"
"And immoral support," added Rodney, "from some small-minded points of view"
John grinned. "And morale support."
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows, as if not sure how to take the jokes.
John said simply, "We love you."
Elizabeth's mouth tightened in an almost smile, and the lines around her eyes relaxed a bit. "You're not going to stop arguing with me, are you?"
"Nope. You're not going to stop sending us off to certain death, are you?"
From the bed Rodney groaned, "Please, god, I hope so."
Elizabeth shook her head, then said, "Sometime... again?"
"Sometime again," John said, trying to put into his inflection everything he meant, speaking to her, and to Rodney.
Elizabeth looked to Rodney on the bed, then back to John. She squeezed his hands, then let go, and walked out the door.
John turned to look at Rodney. "You didn't say much."
"There are times were superfluous verbal engagement is best avoided."
"You spoke for both of us, though it was a bit of a presumption on your part to use the first person plural."
"'We love you.' I don't know that I've ever expressed such feelings about Dr. Weir to you."
"But you do. You're not the only one who can observe."
"I love her the way you do, John. The incredibly hot body is just window dressing on a brilliant mind and capable leader. It's a pity she went to a soft subject for her second doctoral degree. The person who put the words 'political' and 'science' in juxtaposition should be shot." Rodney lay back on the bed.
John sat next to him. "So, we're okay?"
"Didn't you tell her that just now, in more tangentially related words?"
"We're okay," Rodney said, in mock reassuring tones, and turned on his side to face the wall, drawing the covers up to his chin. "Take as a given the long heart-to-heart about the unchanged status of the relationship we're not having, and come back to bed."
John felt part of himself unwind, and he slid in under the sheets. He tucked his knees in behind Rodney's, and wrapped an arm around his chest.
"It's not like I'm not teachable," he said to Rodney's neck.