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here is the secret that everyone knows

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John stops wearing his uniform on the two thousand and second day after they arrive.

There's nothing special about the day itself. It's the third day of the week, by the Athosian calendar; it's John's turn to fly shuttles to the mainland.

The number's got a nice kind of symmetry to it, though, so John figures it's as good a day as any.

The thing with him and Rodney, that got started way back on day 486. At the time, he thought the number was random and inauspicious; weeks later, he woke up out of a dead sleep, slapped Rodney on the back of the head, and said, "Oh my god, you're a fucking dork."

If he's going to be truthful about it, it actually got started long, long before that, maybe even in the double digits somewhere. But 486 was the day when Rodney walked into his room and said, "See, the thing is-" before slipping his hand around the back of John's neck and pulling him into a kiss.

John remembers thinking this is where I'm supposed to stop counting, but the numbers just kept ticking upwards in his head.

--

They hold their last Christmas on day 2430.

It's been a pain in the ass, the last couple of years; between atheists and people from non-Western countries, they've got more people who don't celebrate it than do. And besides, Lantea doesn't have anything even remotely resembling evergreens.

--

He and Rodney moved in together somewhere in the lower six hundreds. John really doesn't know when it was, because he can't remember ever having agreed to move anywhere. But one afternoon, he looked around his tiny, crappy little room and realized it didn't have anything in it except a pair of old socks and Rodney's long lost bootleg of The Fifth Element.

He traded the socks for a haircut and gave Rodney the DVD in celebration of day 642, which Rodney kept insisting was his birthday.

Somewhere in the night that spans 2756 and 2757, John has his first nightmare about Earth. Except, that's not really true; John's had all kinds of nightmares about going back to find it destroyed, having the Wraith discover it, having it taken over by zombies- normal stuff.

But this one is the first one where Earth is the villain.

The dream is particularly terrifying because it's so real, so perfectly plausible. If they ever got into contact with Earth again, they could- probably would- take everything he has away from him. They'll start with Rodney and work their way outwards until they just consume him, dry him up and leave him to die under a sky with the wrong set of stars.

He wakes up, sweat-drenched and overheated, and he has to get out of there as fast as he can. Rodney, who knows him better than anyone, murmurs "Yes, yes, go" and "You'd better radio before you do something stupid."

He runs and runs and runs until the daylight comes.

--

He and Rodney got married all the way back on- god, has it been that long?- day 1553.

Teyla, heavily pregnant at the time, presided over the ceremony, looking alternately radiant and like she was going to vomit on someone's shoes at the slightest provocation. Ronon solemnly carried the rings that it had taken them eight worlds to find, handing them over at the right moment so that John and Rodney could slip them on. They kissed, and that was it, John's world changed forever in one simple gesture.

Elizabeth hadn't said a word, because she and Radek totally started it.

--

On day 3020, they receive the SGC's IDC.

It takes them a while to even figure out what it is, long enough that the SGC has to send their old back-up device, a small box with a recognizable signature when it hits the shield.

"Lower it," Elizabeth says, and John can't stop looking at her hands, clenched so tight on the console that her knuckles are white.

Sam Carter's face flickers onto the monitors in the gateroom. "Atlantis Base, this is SGC. Do you read?"

"We read you loud and clear," Elizabeth says, "Colonel-" she stops, adjusts- "General Carter."

"Good to hear your voice again, Doctor Weir," Carter says, smiling. "It's taken a long time, but we'll be sending a ship to relieve you as soon as we can."

Elizabeth looks around at all of them, at Zelenka and Ronon and Miko, at Teyla and Ford and little Torren Aiden, at Jinto and Chuck and Carson, and finally her eyes come to rest on John's. He nods.

She stands up straight and squares her shoulders; she takes a deep breath and she says, "That won't be necessary."

--

They found the ZPM on day 1671.

"If anyone asks," John remembers saying. "If anyone asks to go, we'll send them back."

No one ever did.