by Kass

Set after S5 x 09, "Tracker." Thanks to Lamardeuse and Sihaya Black for their excellent beta suggestions!

"They've been flirting with each other for ages; why did he have to choose now to step it up?"

John let his head thunk onto his pillow and didn't answer.

Rodney stepped out of the bathroom, toweling his hair more vigorously than it actually needed. "I mean, where's the justice in that?"

"So why'd you decide to go after her in the first place?" The question came out sounding pretty level. John felt proud of that.

"Hm?" Rodney looked genuinely puzzled as he tugged on his boxers. "She's...Jennifer."

"Thanks, Captain Obvious," John said, though he knew what Rodney meant. You couldn't mistake her for anyone else. She was irreducible.

As was Rodney.

"And she seemed interested." As if it were a no-brainer.

John counted backwards from five before opening his mouth again. "Y'know, some people might think it's a little unfair that you're pursuing her."

Rodney blinked. "What? You're not --" He waved a hand between them, as if to indicate -- what? that it hadn't occurred to him that John might mind?

"Taking that chance for happiness away from Ronon."

Bullseye: he could see the uncertainty forming in Rodney's eyes.

John pushed on. "After everything he's been through--"

"He was married," Rodney offered, as if that gave Ronon some kind of boost in the lifetime happiness sweepstakes.

"And his wife was killed right in front of him," John said. He was starting to sound angry now. "You know, she was a doctor."

"Like Jennifer," Rodney said, quietly. He sat on the edge of John's bed.

"Some people might call it unfair to entice her away from a guy like that, when they obviously make each other happy -- especially when you've, I don't know, already got somebody." Whoops. He hadn't meant to sound quite that defensive.

"There's an economy of scarcity for men like me," Rodney began, and John stared at him. Rodney thought he didn't know scarcity? John raised his eyebrows but didn't say anything, just waited.

"Look," Rodney sounded pained, "there've been a lot of dry spells in my adult life." He grimaced. "In adolescence, too, who am I kidding?" He seemed to be waiting for a response.

"And?" John was not throwing him any kind of rope right now.

Rodney's mouth was pinched and unhappy, which usually made John's heart go out to him. But right now it seemed only fair, since that was exactly how John was feeling.

"A woman like that seems like she might be interested in me? Of course I go after her," Rodney said. "It's a law of nature. If I don't pursue opportunities, they'll stop opening up."

"How many more opportunities do you need?" John sat up, because lying down under a thin sheet felt way too vulnerable for this conversation. "Is being in the closet bothering you that much?" He'd thought Rodney was handling it fine, but maybe...

"Only in the sense that your government's moronic regulations annoy me." The answer didn't seem to require any thought, so he was probably telling the truth.

When the next thought occurred to John, he felt like his heart was in a vise. "Do you want kids, is that it?"

"No!" Rodney looked appalled. "I mean, I don't know, maybe someday," he hedged, "but my interest in Jennifer is not about me looking for a suitable carrier for my genetic material!" He sounded wounded that John would even suggest it.

"So I'm just -- not what you really want." There was a cold knot in the pit of John's stomach. This was worse than how things had ended with Nancy. He hadn't been this invested, then.

Rodney stared at him. "What? That's not remotely -- what are you talking about?"

John was out of words: he just looked at him. Trying to memorize.

"I didn't think you wanted anything serious," Rodney said. "I mean, you didn't seem to mind when I -- with Katie--"

"I thought you were just blowing off some steam," John said, "until one day you had that fucking ring in your hand--"

Now Rodney's eyes were huge. "This is serious," he said, as though it were a revelation.

"Of course it's serious, you moron," John said, almost yelling. "We've been doing this for four years. My marriage lasted for six months. You do the fucking math!"

Rodney climbed across the bed and pushed John back against the wall, kissing him as if they'd been apart for days. It was hard to stay furious with Rodney practically in his lap, licking his way into John's mouth as if he were desperate for it.

When they broke Rodney pressed his forehead against John's, his eyes closed. "I didn't know," he murmured. "I thought I was doing what you wanted, I thought that was how these things were supposed to work."

John pushed him back so they could see each others' faces. "'These things?'"

"I mean, I know we're friends," Rodney said, "but I kind of figured I was..." He shrugged. "Convenient."

Now it felt like John's heart was breaking in half. No wonder Rodney had been backwardly, dorkily, wooing Jennifer. Becaause he was a moron.

Or maybe John was a moron, for assuming Rodney just -- knew.

But that was not a conversational road he wanted to go down. Feeling like a lovesick teenager was bad enough; he didn't want to sound like one. So he took a different tack.

"Convenient? Jesus, Rodney, being involved with you is the exact opposite of convenient!"

Rodney was smiling now, that unselfconscious smile that John was pretty sure nobody else really got to see. "Jerk," he said, fondly, and his eyes flicked to John's mouth, as if he wanted to kiss him again but wasn't sure if he should.

John rolled his eyes and leaned forward, taking Rodney's head in his hands.

"Idiot," he whispered, kissing the side of Rodney's mouth before shifting the angle and kissing him for real.

When they broke for breath, Rodney murmured, "You, too."

The End