Rating: PG for the overall series
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoiler for beginning of season 4
Summary: Elizabeth left letters behind for her friends
Note: Thanks to Fenchurch1 for the beta and encouragement and for the nickname variation!
Others in the series:
umm... read these first if you haven't...this stands alone but it's better as part of the series
Even though nothing meaningful had been said, the exchange with Rodney left John exhausted. In spite of that, when John got back to his room he opened his computer to re-read Elizabeth's message to see if he could figure out what was going on. "Huh," he muttered. He shouldn't have been surprised to see a second message from Elizabeth.
Rodney didn't say anything, did he? And you, you didn't say anything to help, did you? I wish I were there to knock your heads together.
For all the hair-brained, dangerous, suicidal and impossible things the two of you have done for Atlantis, you're entitled to something for yourselves. Take it. Take that last step this one time. It's worth it.
Don't make me come back there to shake some sense into both of you.
John grinned at that.... he hoped that Elizabeth would have that chance to shake some sense into them. About whatever she was talking about -- without more to work with he had to hope for the best but his heart beat faster with a thought....
When John stopped by the lab the next day, he found Rodney and Zelenka huddled in a corner with their backs to the door so that they didn't see him enter the room. Zelenka's head was bowed, Rodney's hand was on his shoulder -- John realized he was intruding on something private. As he went to leave, Rodney must have seen the movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up to look at John. "Can you come back later, Colonel?" Rodney asked quietly.
Zelenka started slightly but Rodney kept a firm hand on his shoulder to keep him from moving. "Sure, not a problem," John told him as he left the lab.
At dinner it was just John and Rodney for the moment, so John asked quietly, "Radek okay?"
Rodney looked sharply for a moment and sighed. "You knew?"
"Suspected," John had to admit. "You knew," he added with conviction.
Rodney grinned. "Yeah," he said. "They were... " he rolled his eyes, "cute. But don't tell Radek I said that."
"Never," John promised -- teasing was one thing, but now it would be cruel.
"He's taking losing Elizabeth particularly hard," Rodney told John. "He was doing relatively well until she sent those damn letters. Now he's a basket case and I can't believe I'm saying this but we need an emergency to give him something else to focus on."
John shrugged. Not something he wanted to do on purpose.... "Chess tonight?" John asked, working hard on a casual tone. Since there was nothing pressing at the moment, it was something they would have done together. Before... before the letters..... John saw Rodney hesitate and floated, "If you're busy with something...."
"N-o-o..." Rodney drew that response out and somewhat reluctantly agreed, "Give me an hour?"
"Sure," John answered easily like it didn't matter whether Rodney came to his room or not. John radiated casual interest in an evening to be spent with a friend....
When Rodney tapped lightly at John's door almost two hours later, John gave a sigh of relief. He had been afraid Rodney wouldn't come at all. "All set up, want a beer?" John asked as if nothing unusual had happened.
Rodney stood inside the door way as it closed behind him and shuffled his feet. "I.... ummm.... shouldn't....." Rodney stuttered waving his hands at everything and nothing. In a rush, "I shouldn't be here. I'm gonna go..." He turned to leave.
John had been ready for this, one of the better of the myriad of disastrous scenarios he could think of and plan for all afternoon. At least Rodney had shown up and John now had him trapped in the room since he had disabled the door opener from the inside. John had learned a lot about how doors worked over the years and it wouldn't take long to fix, but it slowed Rodney down -- stopped Rodney from leaving until they had a chance to talk.
"Let me leave," Rodney whispered to the closed door his hands now silent. "Please." This was not the Rodney John knew..... he was too quiet, too still.
John was next to Rodney in a heartbeat. Rodney leaned his head against the door in obvious frustration and John moved close enough to feel the heat radiating from the scientist's body. John moved infinitesimally closer, soaking up the heat. "Not until you talk to me," John said softly -- he needed an answer. He placed a hand on Rodney's shoulder, rubbed his thumb on the back of Rodney's neck.
Rodney arched into the touch, then flinched. "We can't...."
"We can do anything," John declared firmly. "Genius, remember?" He rubbed his thumb over the same spot, indulging in the feel of soft skin under his touch... Just touching was more than he had.... yet not enough.....
Rodney shrugged off John's hand and whirled around, his back against the door and panted, "I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This." He wouldn't look at John, focusing at a point over John's shoulder.
John stared for a long moment, then stepped back with his hands out, baffled. "Okay," he replied stiffly. He moved to the wall panel and reset the crystal that he had removed earlier. As the door opened, John couldn't stop himself from asking helplessly, "Tell me.... tell me why."
Rodney gave a short, bitter laugh, "As awkward as this is, and as awful as I feel now, it's nothing to how I'd feel if I was the reason you got sent back to Earth. I'm not going to do that to you."
"Don't I get a say in this?" John demanded hotly. It wasn't loud but was no less angry. Anger was all he had left now. "Who died and made you God?"
"Elizabeth," Rodney answered in a flat voice.
"Oh, wrong answer, my friend," purred John, instantaneously sure of what he needed to do.