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If You Can Hold On

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“What is wrong?” Teyla asked. She was sitting beside Rodney on the tour bus as it rolled along the highway. The tour was almost finished, and soon they would be able to go home, rest, and contemplate the future of the band. She wished Jennifer well, sent her postcards at every stop along the way, called and left messages sometimes, but Teyla had her family to think about.

Rodney also had his family to think about, his sister Jeannie and her education. Right then, however, he was thinking of neither his sister nor the band, frowning out the window.

“I don’t get it,” Rodney said finally.

“Get what?” Teyla asked.

Rodney nodded at the Snakesinners bus, which was in the next lane over. “John and Mitchell.”

“What about them?”

Rodney rolled his shoulders. “It’s just - John said he was in love with me. Has been, since high school.”

“Were John a girl, I am sure he would have written your name in hearts all over his binders and notebooks,” Teyla said.

“But if he’s in love with me, why is he with Mitchell? Still. Now that I know.”

Teyla had been alarmed when she first learned of John’s liaison with the lead singer of the other band, worried that he was deluding himself or leading on Cam or something, but from everything she’d seen, he and Cam were happy together. Cam was kind to John; John was affectionate with Cam. That no one outside of the bands knew of their relationship was a testament to the formidable combined powers of Elizabeth, Evan, Xiaoyi, and Walter. (No one knew about John’s cancer, either, though Teyla suspected Dave Sheppard’s hand in that.)

“John appears to be happy, and I am happy for him.” It had taken Teyla a while to be happy for John, but now she was. Perhaps that was also because he looked healthier, now, more energetic.

“I just don’t get it.”

Teyla studied Rodney for a long moment. “You think, perhaps, he should still be pining for you? He has pined over you for six years, Rodney. It is high time he moves on, is it not?”

“I guess,” Rodney said. He didn’t sound very convinced.

He watched John closely over the next few days, out of the corner of his eye, while he was pretending to do sudoku puzzles or harass the long-suffering Siler about the soundboard and John’s effects rack. He managed to be be somewhere in John’s vicinity every time Cam was present, no matter how innocuous John and Cam’s interaction. Rodney still wasn’t really speaking to John, which was astonishing, given how much chemistry the two of them had onstage. Anyone who saw them together onstage - or in interviews - would think they were the best of friends.

But between sets, John let Cam pull him into the shadows for soft kisses, and after shows they would stick together while they talked to the fans backstage, and they would retire for the evening quickly, one right after the other. John rarely slept on the Space Monkeys bus anymore.

“Do you think,” Rodney said to Teyla one night, while they watched the Snakeskinners from the wings (and John watched from the opposite side of the stage), “that John doesn’t love me anymore?”

Teyla shrugged. “If you wish to know, you should ask him. But what does it matter to you? Because you do not love him.”

As Rodney had taken over Jennifer’s part on keyboards, he’d also assumed some of her harmonies and parts on songs, retooled into new keys that both he and Teyla could manage, and she started to notice how Rodney would look at John during Everything You Want, while John strummed his guitar and hammed it up with Ronon, who was also on guitar.

And then one night Rodney said, “Can we try something new? On Everything You Want.”

Ronon nodded. “Sure. Want to have one of the Snakeskinner girls duet with Teyla? Even if it’s not a cover.”

“John,” Rodney said, and John blinked, startled to hear Rodney say his name. “Why don’t you sing it with me?”

“Sure,” John said. “If Teyla doesn’t mind.”

Because Teyla was curious, she said, “I do not mind.” And she didn’t. Instead she watched and waited and listened.

She saw the hopeful look in Rodney’s eyes when he sang, “You’re waiting for someone to put you together.

And she saw the way John stared at his own hands as he sang in reply, “You’re waiting for someone to push you away.

After the Space Monkeys set, Rodney hung back, waited respectfully while Cam greeted John with his usual kiss. But then he reached out to John and said, “Hey, want to join us in the pit?”

John looked startled, wary, but he smiled a little bit and said, “Thanks, but not tonight. Maybe next time.”

Rodney smiled back, nodded, and headed for the stage door.

Teyla and Ronon joined him in the pit, Ronon losing himself in the crowd with abandon. Teyla pretended she didn’t notice Rodney dancing with a dark-haired boy.