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Rodney is fourteen the first time. They're lying in his bed, talking, just like always. Jeannie is laughing and she leans over him, her breasts brushing his chest as she laughs.
He's fourteen. That's all it takes to get him hard.
Jeannie, being Jeannie, notices. He's humiliated, but when Jeannie touches him he forgets everything but how good it feels.
"What can I do for you, Colonel?"
"For starters," John answers, his hands on his hips, "you can stop calling me colonel. Then you can explain what the hell is going on."
Rodney looks up at him, and then away before the heat in John's eyes can burn him.
"I thought you liked it. No, I'm sure you liked it," John says.
"That doesn't mean we can do it again."
"The phrase 'uniform military code' mean anything to you, Colonel?" It's harder than it should be to sound snide.
"I know what it means, Rodney. I just don't know why you care."
There's vulnerability beneath John's anger, and Rodney doesn't know if he can resist it. "Of course I care," he snaps. "Do you know how hard it would be to break in a new military commander?"
"So you just want to protect my career?" John takes a step closer and Rodney forces himself to look at him. "You know something, Rodney, martyrdom really doesn't suit you."
He's gone for five minutes before Rodney can breathe again.
The second time he touches, too. She's all smooth skin and breathy sighs, lifting her hips toward his searching fingers.
He's amazed when she comes, head thrown back and eyes closed. She's the only person he's ever loved and he made her look like that.
Two days later he enters her for the first time. She's wet and warm even with the condom. His thrusts are erratic, he can't find a rhythm, can't make his body move the way he wants it to. He's afraid he's hurting her, but Jeannie whispers in his ear, tells him it's okay in the same voice she used to reassure him when they were kids. When he clung to her voice because even though she was only eighteen months older, she could drown out the yelling and the breaking glass, could make him feel safe.
After she goes back to her room, he curls up into a ball and cries.
"Tell me why, Rodney. An explanation, that's all I'm asking for."
He should have known John would be stubborn. Should have known better than to let it happen in the first place. But he was so tired of being tired, and John's mouth had felt so good on his.
Rodney lifts his chin. "It was a mistake."
"You care about me," John fires back.
Rodney doesn't have the strength to deny it. He's told too many lies in his life, lived too many. "Yes, but caring about someone doesn't mean it isn't wrong."
Rodney had gone to college expecting to hate his roommate. He'd filled out the lame survey and there was no way that information was going to enable a computer program to select a compatible roommate.
When he and Paul become friends, Rodney doesn't change his mind. He simply concludes that even computers get lucky once in a while.
"Your sister is gorgeous," Paul says, waving his beer around.
"I'd do her."
Too much beer has loosened his tongue and Rodney answers, "I have."
The next day Paul moves out. Rodney tells himself he should be happy. After all, he has a double room all to himself.
The shame settles over him, thicker than ever.
The next time Jeannie visits, they fuck in Paul's bed. Rodney closes his eyes--he always closes his eyes--and gives it to her hard. Jeannie doesn't ask him why.
It takes three weeks, but eventually John stops asking, stops prodding. Rodney knows he should be relieved, but he isn't.
As hard it was to see John's hurt, being wanted is a rare thing in Rodney's life. He'd liked it.
John's face is stony when he looks at Rodney, without the affection filled cracks that were there before. Every time he sees that expression on John's face, it feels like he's been hit.
Rodney looks at him all the time.
His sophomore year, Jeannie gets pregnant.
Rodney rents a car and drives the 300 miles to Wellesley. They give him odd looks at the clinic. He guesses they donít see a lot of brothers coming in with their sisters. Or maybe he's just imagining the looks. It feels like he's spent half of his life imagining that people can see, that they know.
He holds her hand the entire time, not able to look down at the sheet covering her bent knees. For the first time in years, he looks at her face, really looks. All he can see is a pain-filled grimace.
Back in her room she cries in his arms. He can't remember the last time he saw Jeannie cry. She was always the strong one. He was the one who cried.
"We have to stop," he whispers into her hair.
He doesn't sleep. She doesn't either. They don't talk. In the morning, he kisses her and leaves.
He never sees her again.
He wonders if Jeannie saw his message home. He hadn't asked the SGC if it was sent.
He had almost forgotten her, almost hadn't said goodbye. She had loved him. Their parents had been too busy hating each other to care, but Jeannie had cared. She'd bandaged scraped knees, listened to his dreams, taught him to throw a baseball. He had never figured out where she'd learned it. It sure as hell hadn't been from their father.
He'd repaid her by forgetting her, by walling her off. He should have been able to tell her he loved her, but all he could think was that he didn't know her anymore. Didn't even know where she lived, if she'd married, if she had children, if she was happy.
John wasn't happy.
Taking a drink from his coffee, he forced his eyes back to his laptop. His eyes moved over the words, but what he was hearing in his head was I love him.
Rodney glanced at the time. It was late, but not too late.
The door slid open as soon as he finished knocking. Drawing in a deep breath, he gathered his courage and stepped inside.
Dr. Heightmeyer rose as he entered. "Hello, Rodney."
"I need to talk to you."
She nodded, gesturing at the nearest chair.