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Better Than Before

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“Okay, I need to ask,” said Dave.

He was still coming down from the high of flying a spaceship with his mind that he didn’t feel quite diplomatic enough not to let his curiosity get the better of him.

“Ask what?” said John, who had taken over piloting again for their return to Atlantis.

“Why Rodney?” he asked, then added, at his brother’s scowl, “I think he’s great for you, Johnnie, I just… I’m surprised, that’s all.”

John smirked. “Not the kind of guy you expected me to bring home?”

“No,” Dave agreed, ignoring the obvious opening about a sexuality his brother had either never known or needed to keep hidden – probably the first one, if he knew John. “But after Nancy, I thought you might not bring anyone home. And Rodney seems…”

“Arrogant?” John suggested. “Condescending? Irritating?”

He was still smirking, so Dave nodded. “I wouldn’t have put it quite that way, but, yeah. So, what is it you see that nobody else does?”

“He—” John said, keeping his eyes on the puddle jumper’s console, though there was nothing but empty space ahead of them. “He makes me better.”

“Better?” Dave repeated, surprised again.

“Yeah,” said John. “You know how terrible I am at talking about, you know, stuff. Important stuff. Feelings and whatever. But Rodney… I mean, he is arrogant and irritating, but he understands me. He never makes me feel like I have to talk about stuff, but he makes me want to. Sometimes.”

Dave nodded. “He makes you happy? I mean,” he added quickly, “not happy, but— I just mean…”

He trailed off as John laughed. “Yeah,” he said again. “Yeah, he does.”

They were quiet for the rest of the way back to Atlantis, but it was a comfortable kind of silence, and John set their ‘jumper gently on the bay floor.

Rodney was waiting for them.

“Well?” he demanded, before the hatch had fully opened.

“Spaceships make everything better,” said John, smiling.

“And did you get your…” he waved a vague hand “… whatever all sorted?”

“I think we’ve worked something out,” said Dave, and Rodney nodded absently, attention going back to his handheld computer, until John had sidled up into his personal space.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” John asked.

Rodney frowned. “Your brother’s still here.”

“So?”

“Fine,” said Rodney, then added, deadpan, “Oh, my returning hero, long have I waited for you. Now, hurry up and kiss me so I can get back to work.”

John laughed, the horrible braying laugh that Dave hadn’t heard for a long time, then kissed Rodney.

The scientist leaned into him for a long moment, then pulled away. “Work, Sheppard,” he said. “You’ve heard of this concept, I’m sure. There’s probably a whole stack of reports on your desk, if you can find it.”

“I know where my office is, Rodney,” John grumbled, but he was still smiling. “I’ll see you at dinner?”

“If the idiots the SGC claims are scientists don’t blow up my lab first,” Rodney replied, and kissed John again, absently, before he left.

“You have an office?” Dave asked.

John nodded. “This way…”

“You know,” said Dave, after a moment, “Rodney didn’t really have to come meet the puddle jumper when we came back, did he?”

“No,” John agreed, grinning. “He didn’t.”

THE END