Fic: Weird As It Isn't (PG)
Author: R. Tom Mato
Series: Not So Imaginary
Notes: The end. Except for the epilogue. Which I haven't even started. I was hoping this part would work out and I think it did. I hope y'all like it.
It was a week after the last Daedalus visit, on what the inhabitants of Atlantis had decided was Valentine's Day (though they were probably off by a couple days, give or take). Couples were exchanging presents ordered from Earth and a few departments were having get-togethers because it was of like mind that any opportunity to celebrate pretty much anything was taken happily. John had his own tradition (three years going!) with his team. It consisted mainly of the chocolate they had picked out of catalogs and ordered and them lounging around in Rodney's room trying it all. The excuse was that they were showing Ronon and Teyla new things, but seriously, *chocolate.*
Ronon had asked for a chocolate orange once and Rodney had all but physically smacked him with the catalog. John had ordered one secretly and when it came in had told Ronon to eat it in his quarters and to brush his teeth before he saw Rodney next because, scarily enough, he would *smell* it and they'd both be in trouble.
It was the height of his Valentine's Day and he was happy for it. In fact, he'd just been on his way to find Rodney to make sure he hadn't been stealing from their team stash when said scientist found him and thrust a startlingly pink, heart-shaped box in his hands without so much as a hello.
"You'll note that I took out the ones you don't like," Rodney stated proudly, gesturing to the box. "I knew you wouldn't mind because you give them to me anyway. I replaced them with the little round ones I usually trade you."
John stared at the box of chocolates as Rodney spoke, his mind taking a moment to realize that his best friend had just given him candy. Valentine's candy. In a *heart-shaped box.* He hoped his face wasn't as warm as it felt. They'd never given each other anything on Valentine's Day before. It was a team thing, getting all different kinds trading the chocolates back and forth. That was completely different from actually *giving.* It was pink!
"I just thought it was a good idea," Rodney continued, shrugging but not losing his smile. "And, to me at least, you've been giving me chocolate for the last few years and until now I've been unable to reciprocate. To you it's been decades and that's even worse. It's a good thing there's no interest on this sort of thing."
Now John was sure he was blushing. The reason *why* he had given Rodney chocolate surfaced fresh in his mind. He had to swallow past the lump in his throat before he could reply. "Thanks." The word was strained in the effort it took to keep his voice from wavering. He felt six and emotional and needy again.
Rodney's smile slipped a little and he stared at him uncertainly. "You *do* still like those ones, don't you? I mean, you had no traumatic incidents that send you into catatonia at the mention of chocolate in the last year?"
"So you like them?"
John held the box of chocolates a little closer in case Rodney decided to take them back. "Yes."
"A little reassurance would be nice. Would it be so hard to say 'thank you, Rodney'?"
The other man's smile returned as something even smugger, if that was at all possible. It made John want to say something to send Rodney into a rant, anything to get that knowing-but-not look off of his face. No words came but an idea did, and later, John still wouldn't know what had made him think it was a good one. Perhaps part of him believed he could laugh it off afterwards.
He leaned forward, pressing his lips against Rodney's too firmly, too ungracefully to be anything to take seriously. He lingered a moment, selfishly, and pulled back. He did *not* lick his lips. "Thank you, Rodney," he parroted, his flippant tone ruined by the high pitch his voice took.
Rodney was staring at him and hey, John did manage to get the smugness off his face. "That was..."
"A thank you," John insisted.
"For the chocolates."
"Chocolates." Rodney gave a dazed little nod and hadn't looked away. It was making him nervous.
"I'll see you after dinner, right? Everything ready?"
The change in topic gave Rodney something else to grasp and John could see him returning to normal. "Of course it is. Ronon's been bugging me all day, asking if they all came in."
"Great!" John grinned and started down the hallway to the transporter. He felt like a run. "I'll see you then."
"All right," Rodney replied, voice echoing after him.
He walked quickly all the way to the transporter, checking that the hallway outside his room was empty before doing a half-walk half-jog and thinking the door open early so he wouldn't have to even slow down. He wasn't freaking out; Rodney wouldn't take this any further than the teasing he'd meant it to be. The box he set on his desk, lifting the lid off to see that it was indeed filled with the ones he liked so much. It was almost comical looking, with some of the square choclates sitting unevenly in the round holes that had contained the ones he really would have just given to Rodney. Sitting on the edge of his bed, John shook his head and quickly exchanged his boots for his sneakers.
John had never doubted that he had loved Rodney, no matter how many people dismissed a young child's emotions as silly or somehow inferior to their own. That hadn't changed, and he loved the slightly more bitter, socially awkward Rodney he'd followed to Atlantis as well. What surprised him was that about a year in, after still losing Ford no matter how *hard* he'd tried to change it, he found himself becoming *attracted* to his friend. He had always wanted Rodney to kiss him when he was younger, but that was because that was how he knew people who loved each other acted then. As he grew older his knowledge had grown and he'd learned that love had categories. He hadn't really thought of it much because it hadn't lessened how he'd felt back then.
Suddenly, though, kissing wasn't where it ended. He wanted Rodney over him and in him and the combined fact that he'd never been attracted to men before in the first place and that this was his *Rodney,* for god's sake, shook something inside him violently. He'd tried to distance himself and things had just gone downhill from there. They had found and lost Ford again, the Arcturus project had him screaming into his pillow at the betrayal he felt and his own uselessness at being unable to prevent it (Rodney had never even told him), he'd been turned into a *bug,* Ford had *captured* them, and then he'd gotten himself stuck in a time-dilation field for six months.
Six months was a long time to think when you had nothing to do but wait. He knew they'd come for him (though he didn't know when) and John had pretty much given up on changing history because somehow it always ended up how it was in the stories anyway. All he could think about was Rodney. Eventually he made peace with his feelings and accepted them, but told himself he'd never act on them. Easy enough when Rodney wasn't even there.
By the time his team had come for him John had worked things out, but during the next few weeks he realized just how badly he'd damaged his friendship with Rodney. It had taken the months up to their second anniversary in Atlantis to get it even close to where they had been. Their habit for barely escaping those imminent-death situations had a hand in it, he was sure, because John could never entirely get rid of those 'what if's that hovered in the back of his mind.
He wasn't pining; he'd done that. Just having Rodney around was enough for him. They were best friends, though even that didn't feel enough to describe them. This was the happiest he'd ever be and he was so, so grateful. He stood, pulling off his uniform jacket and draping it over the chair at his desk, then opened the door and stepped out of his room.
Rodney grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back in without pausing in his stride. The door shut in a decisive manner and John saw the privacy lock go on.
"Rodney," he started, but was cut off by a sharp motion from the other man.
"Hush, I'm still thinking," Rodney told him, eyes narrowed as they stared at John. "I didn't expect to get here so quickly."
John nodded, eyeing his friend warily. He knew he shouldn't have stopped to change his shoes.
A very long, awkward moment later, Rodney nodded, taking a deep breath. "All right. I knew, from the first day we met, that we would either end up loving each other or trying to kill each other. Now we do have our off days and no matter what trouble we tend to get into off world I don't think the near-death experiences are intentional. I never could place my finger on it before, but there was something between us.
"My little adventure into your childhood answered a lot of that. You already knew me, so of course you'd get along with me. Still, there was something else I couldn't figure out but I've recently, as in just now, come up with a solution...weird as it is. So just close your eyes."
John's eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"Come on!" Rodney huffed. "I'm not going to hit you or anything. This will just be a lot easier if you're not staring at me like that."
John wanted to say that he wasn't staring 'like that,' whatever 'like that' was. The pleading look Rodney gave him had him closing his eyes, half waiting for a punch and half waiting for...something else.
He nearly jumped when he felt hands cupping his head and he had to squeeze his eyes shut to keep them from flying open. Rodney's thumbs rubbed at his temples until he relaxed, then slowly, slowly pulled him forward without any resistance and kissed him.
Part of John had been expecting this, hoping for it. One thought had dominance over all the thoughts whirling in his head and that was that this was *Rodney.* Rodney, his best friend, was *kissing* him and one of his hands was moving down John's side and curling over his hip and sending shivers up his spine. John's own hands hung restlessly at his sides, fingers twitching, and he brought them up to lie flat on Rodney's stomach. He felt the muscles contract and clutched at the material.
Rodney broke the kiss and John could feel his breath. "Too weird?"
He shook his head, leaning forward and bumping their lips together again. It shouldn't have surprised him as much as it did; this was Rodney. It wasn't weird at all.