Author's Notes: thank you to my wonderful beta, who provided such great insights, as well as her usual comma-wrangling help!
Summary: . . . and since introspection's for the fucking birds, for the shrinks, for Nancy's friends, for that one guy who liked quoting poetry during sex, it's not surprising he stumbled over this without really knowing he wanted it, without acknowledging he'd been pulling Rodney's pigtails for four goddamn years.
If asked, even now, with his skin still cooling from Rodney's touch, with his hip pressed firm into the curve of Rodney's belly, with Rodney's breathing chasing sleep from his mind, John couldn't begin to tell you exactly what this is, how it came to be, why his body has relaxed in trust, why he's lying here (almost peaceably), why his fingertips map Rodney's hand, why this, above all, should feel right.
He should have known, he guesses, that he had a thing - but his things have always been hard to figure out from inside the foggy recesses of his mind. There've been other beds, other bodies - he knows he likes men more than women, likes angles more than curves, has a thing for stubble, even when it burns. He's run through more than his share of experiments in location, position, gender, and looks; he thought Nancy was it, for real, the one with whom he could fumble along, but it ended up he had more secrets than even he knew how to deal with, so he's never blamed her for wanting out. There have been some rules, he supposes - no subordinates, no commanding officers - but it's mostly been a free-for-all, a muddled careening from one furtive hook-up to the next, and since introspection's for the fucking birds, for the shrinks, for Nancy's friends, for that one guy who liked quoting poetry during sex, it's not surprising he stumbled over this without really knowing he wanted it, without acknowledging he'd been pulling Rodney's pigtails for four goddamn years.
Because that's what it adds up to - the banter, the needling, the raised eyebrows, every roll of his eyes. His dating skills haven't evolved since grade school, since he yanked on Sally Henderson's braid and she socked him in the face, then kissed his jaw better, which was pretty confusing, but okay, cool. He's been looking for braids to yank ever since - for stupid ways to get attention, and he figures flying a nuke into a Hive ship is something Heightmeyer'd call escalation or something, and he had other issues - motivations, yeah - but Jesus, it's embarrassing to realize he was poking Rodney hard in the chest, saying hey, I like you, and man, it makes him squirm.
Because even now, he only gets it because Rodney got it, because Rodney lost his temper, said e-fucking-nough, only more Canadian, longer vowels; because Rodney shoved him up against the wall of that transporter and kissed him so filthily he rolled with the (maybe sort of sadly metaphoric) punches, and shit, he's textbook, Freudian, Jungian, something, waiting all this time for someone else to rear up in anger in the face of his bullshit and prove they liked him back - and shit, proof, was this what he needed, a guy who could bend his head to a tablet, sculpt math to match the arc of his mind, scribble out the hypothesis of John fucking Sheppard, antithesis, synthesis, hypothesis again?
He could count this a revelation, that this is what he wants - some bitching, emotionally stunted, energizer-bunny genius - if it weren't for the fact he knows that's just ducking out from under himself again. He likes smart, he knows that, likes pushy and demanding, likes loyalty, likes courage, thinks competition's cool, and it's more than that, it's staying power, it's Rodney still hanging with him after school, playing chess, playing Xbox, playing cars, playing life. It's the fact that Rodney won't say shit to the man cutting open his arm, that he'll pull his gun and shoot a Wraith when he's quaking inside, that he'll trust John's not a hallucination, open up a Jumper on the ocean floor, that he saves their asses, that he won't back down. And who's John kidding - Rodney's almost died, and it's killed him every time to consider that space, to make his plans for his own reincarnation, for a world reordered and another friend gone, another life taken, and god, this tastes of bile, this shattering idea, Rodney dead and John alive, and he should have known then, maybe would have if Rodney had just called him a jerk - called him a jerk in the way John needed, with his tongue and with touching and with a desperate catch at the back of his throat. Lying there, thinking it through, John feels the physical click of pieces snapping into place; the trust, the staying - this is relief.
John shifts to his side, shivers soft at the drag of sheets beneath his hip, lets Rodney mumble sleepily, press up against him, feels the touch of their skin when they match their breath.
"Sorry," he whispers, for being so dense, for taking so long to realize the orbit he'd chosen, for yelling and pushing and making Rodney make the move. And Rodney's asleep, and it's probably the sort of thing you're supposed to tell people when they're conscious, but he figures Rodney probably knows and all that matters is that he says it, that he gets it, that okay, he's chicken-shit, and it'll be six months or maybe more before he can say that kind of thing while Rodney's awake. So he'll lie here a while, think of ways of just doing stuff, asking Rodney if he wants to take the morning off, go meddle with some Jumper parts, some ordinary, concrete, foundational thing, and he'll pass him a wrench and call him a name or two, but he'll get it this time, and the Jumpers have a cloak.
And even now, if asked, with his skin still vibrating from Rodney's touch, with his chest pressed close against the heat of Rodney's body, with Rodney's breathing chasing doubts clean out of his mind, John couldn't begin to tell you exactly what this is, why he's falling asleep, why his fingers have slid between Rodney's own. But there's comfort - weird; he's never figured himself that kind of guy - and there's acceptance, and he's known here, and when Rodney wakes up he'll bitch about his back, and moan about coffee, and maybe they'll make out just a little, and that makes it right.