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Thinking Positively


Title: Thinking Positively

Author: chelle

Author's email:

Author's URL:

Fandom: Atlantis

Archive: Ask first

Pairing: John/Rodney

Rating: PG 13

Notes: Thank you to Grrrl and Crysothemis for the comments and criticism.

Summary: Set immediately after "Quarantine." John says more than he intended to.

John kept looking for Rodney, glancing over at the door every time it slid open, but Rodney never showed. Radek was the first to leave, followed by Ronon and Kelleró John wasn't even going to ask what was going on there. When Teyla stood, John had little choice but to follow.

"You sure you're okay?" he asked, not liking the way she kept putting her hand on the small of her back.

"I am fine," she said with her 'please stop being a motherhen' smile. "But I have not yet meditated today. I could use the relaxation."

"Right. You have fun with that."

"I shall," Teyla said, squeezing his shoulder and turning down the hall that led to her quarters.

John watched her for a moment, then started walking. Rodney's quarters were just up ahead. It wouldn't hurt to look in. Maybe Katie had said 'no.'

Or maybe she'd said 'yes' and they were celebrating.

John shuddered at the thought and raised his hand to knock.

"Come in," Rodney called. He didn't sound like he'd been celebrating. John waved his hand in front of the door control and stepped inside. The only light was coming from the setting sun, and Rodney was lying in his bed, fully clothed, staring at the ceiling. John took that as a sign things hadn't gone well.

"Hey," John said perching on the edge of the bed. He pulled in a breath and tried to figure out what to say.

"I didn't ask her."

Relief spread up from John's gut to his shoulders. He opened his mouth to ask why, but Rodney beat him to it.

Lifting a hand, Rodney waved it in a small circle. "I decided that I'd just make her unhappy. This afternoon made it painfully clear that I am hopelessly negative. I have very little faith in other people. Also, I'm petty and arrogant."


Turning his head, Rodney looked directly at John for the first time since John had entered. "I have more flaws you want me to list?"

"That's not what I meant. The whole arrogant, petty, negative thing, it's not exactly news, Rodney. She had to have known that about you before now."

"Yeah, well, knowing isn't the same thing as experiencing it up close and trapped with a bunch of plants and no computer."

John resisted the sudden and completely inappropriate smile. "I knew not having a computer would freak you out."

"Thank you, Colonel Prescient."

"I'm not prescient. I just know you. And the negativity isn't a bad thing. Someone has to look at the worst case scenario."

"That's what I said."

"You just need someone who can keep you from getting immobilized by it, that's all."

"This afternoon made it extremely clear that that person is not Katie Brown."

Well, no, John thought, because that person is me. "So now you're free to play the field," he said, trying to lighten things up.

Rodney snorted. "Yes, because that has always worked so well for me in the past." His expression shifted into something that was more lost than sad. "I thought maybe I'd found someone I could care for who would care for me in return."

"I know," John said, feeling Rodney's sadness as if it was his own. "But you have a lot of people who care about you. Ronon, Teyla, Radek, me."

"In the way a friend loves another friend," Rodney said quoting John.

"What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing. I just wanted someone I could, I don't know, come home to or something. It sounds stupid, I know."

"No, it doesn't."

Rodney didn't say anything for a long moment. "Do you think I'm unlovable? All these flaws, I'm trying to work on them, but do they--"

"No," John said, cutting him off. "No, God no."

Rodney peered at him in the increasing darkness, his bright eyes narrowing. "How can you be so sure?"

"Because..." John was never going to say it, that's what he'd promised himself. But Rodney thought he was unlovable, and the way he was looking at John, suspicious and hopeful, John hated that expression. "Because I love you."

"Friends aren't the same thing."

Rodney was giving him an out. John could take it. He could-- "I didn't mean as a friend."

Make it worse.

Sitting up, Rodney leaned close, staring as if John's love was something he could see in his face. Maybe he could. The thought made John's stomach start to flip. "You?" Rodney leaned back, his eyes widening. "You're serious."

John nodded once, swallowed. "Yeah."

"But you like women. Curvy women. Like Chaya and that woman with the ship who keeps tying you up."

"I like men, too," John said quietly.

"And you never said anything?"

"What was there to say? You're straight. I'm Air Force." John turned away, looked out the window at the sun. It was almost completely down now.

"John," Rodney's voice was softer, less certain than John had ever heard it. "I don't know what to say."

"There is a first for everything," John said. Rodney began to lift his hand and John stood before Rodney could touch him. "I only told you because if I can--" John stopped, unwilling to say it again. "Someone else will, too."

"Thank you for telling me." Rodney still sounded shaken.

"You're welcome." John said. He knew he sounded curt, but he needed to get away. Now. Crossing the room, he left without looking back.

He headed for his quarters as quickly as he could without attracting attention, the words "stupid, stupid, stupid," echoing through his brain. It wasn't like he'd expected Rodney to make any sort of declaration in return.

Except, maybe, a small part of him had hoped, and now he didn't even have that.


Sleep didn't come easily that night, or much at all, really. His only consolation was that when Rodney took the seat across from Teyla's at breakfast, he didn't look like he'd slept much either.

"Morning, Rodney."

Rodney looked closely at him before saying, "Good morning, John." He glanced at Teyla. "Teyla."

"Good morning, Rodney."

"It's just like The Waltons," John said, forcing a smile.

"No, that would be good-night and we'd be calling you John-boy, and you'd be annoyingly earnest."

"Are you saying I'm not earnest?"

"Not so much, no."

Feeling something inside him loosen just a little, John grinned and said, "I'm insulted."

Rodney pointed his fork at John. "You should be."

That thing loosened just a little bit more.


By the end of the day, John was feeling like maybe they were going to be okay. Not as okay as he'd hoped, but okay. The relief outweighed the disappointment.


Rodney had been acting more-or-less normally all day. He'd given John a couple of odd looks, but that wasn't really abnormal for Rodney. He'd also been a little more distant than usual, but John figured in a day or two it would be as if his confession had never happened.

And that was how it should be. That was how he wanted it.

John was trying to decide whether to reread the latest Fantastic Four arc or work on his video golf swing when Rodney knocked. Rodney's knock was always the same. It had a rhythm John was sure Rodney wasn't even aware of. "Come in, Rodney," John called.

"How do you do that?" Rodney asked, stepping inside.

"Colonel Prescient, remember?" John said, instantly regretting the reference.

"Right, well, I, um, I wanted to-- Hey, is that the Fantastic Four?" Rodney asked, starting toward the pile of comics on John's desk.


Stopping, Rodney turned to look at John again. "Right, look, I've been thinking about what you said, about, well, um, you know, and I wanted to ask if maybe you would consider dating. Me. Dating me."

"You're straight."

"I know, I know," Rodney said. "I don't even know if guys date, but you, you said you have feelings for me." Rodney gestured at John, then pulled his hand back. "And I really like you. You're pretty much my favorite person ever, and I was thinking that maybe we could explore the possibility... If you want to."

"Yes," John said. He should probably have cut Rodney off sooner, not let him babble, but 'favorite person ever,' that was good, that had to count for something. "Yes," he said again, in case Rodney hadn't heard the first one.

"Okay, good, that's good."

"Tomorrow night. 20:00. I'll pick you up." It wasn't as though John knew exactly what he'd do with Rodney on a first date, where they'd go. Okay, maybe it was.

"Oh, um, right. That's a good plan, I guess."

John smiled. "It is, you'll see."

Rodney's eyes met his for a long moment before Rodney turned back toward the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," John said, still smiling, ignoring the part of him that was whispering about how dating Rodney was a sure road to heartbreak.

"Good-night, then," Rodney said.

"'night, Rodney."

The door slid open and Rodney stepped through it.

John dropped onto his bed and smiled up at the ceiling. He had a chance.


Rodney didn't eat breakfast or lunch with the team the next day. John was only a little disappointed because he was having dinner with Rodney, just the two of them.

He arrived at Rodney's door at 19:55. Wiping his hands on his jeans, he knocked. The door slid open revealing Rodney in a pair of jeans and nothing else. John tried not to stare at his bare chest as he stepped inside.

"I didn't know what to wear," Rodney said, gesturing at his bed which was now home to a tangled pile of shirts.

Walking over to the bed, John pulled a navy blue sweatshirt from the bottom of the pile.

"Are you sure?" Rodney asked, taking it. "It's not very date like."

"It's fine." John averted his eyes as Rodney tugged the sweatshirt over his head.

"You look nice," Rodney said, eying him critically, and sounding as though John telling him to wear a sweatshirt was some sort of nefarious plot to be better dressed than Rodney.

"Thanks," John said easily. It wasn't as if he was dressed up. He was just wearing a black turtleneck sweater and black jeans. "You ready?"

"Sure. Where are we going, by the way?"

"You'll see."

John led Rodney tower two, as they called it, then up to the eighth level and out onto the balcony where he'd stashed the food. Grabbing a blanket from behind the pillar where he'd tucked it earlier, John spread it out. Picking up the basket he'd tucked the food into, he placed it next to the blanket.

Then he looked up to find Rodney glaring at him, arms folded across his chest. "This is the same first date you had with Chaya."

"It's a different balcony," John said. Rodney's expression hardened. Clearly that hadn't been the right answer. "Look, this will be nothing like my date with her."

"And how will I know that? After all, I wasn't on your date with her."

Could've fooled me, John thought, but he said, "You're just going to have to trust me."

"Bad at putting faith in other people, remember?"

"I'm not other people."

That must've been a good enough answer, because Rodney lowered his arms and approached the blanket. John knelt next to the basket, and Rodney sat on the edge, legs crossed awkwardly.

"I ate dinner," Rodney said. "I didn't know it was a dinner date."

"Oh," John said, putting back the cold chicken he'd snagged from the mess.

"Wait, is that fried chicken?"

"It's cold."

"Hand it over," Rodney said, holding out a hand.

John grinned.



"I should not have eaten two dinners," Rodney said resting his hand on his stomach.

They were lying side-by-side on the blanket staring up at the stars, shoulders brushing. "Next time I'll tell you it's a dinner date," John replied, tilting his head to the side and lifting his arm to point at the sky. "That one looks kind of like Casseopia."

Rodney tilted his head, almost bumping his temple against the top of Johns' head. "It does, but it's missing the leftmost star." He raised his own arm and pointed. "Bat signal."

The stars Rodney was pointing to did kind of look like the bat signal. John pointed off to the left. "Surfboard."

Rodney let out a soft huff. "At least you aren't seeing skateboards."

"That one's a fish," John said, pointing again.

"You see that star there," Rodney said, pointing to one of the stars in the fish's tail. "It's really a galaxy. It's just so far away that it looks like one point of light."


"It is cool."

Feeling Rodney's eyes on him, John turned to look at him. "What?"

"Nothing. It's just, I didn't think it'd be so easy."

"Are you saying I'm easy, McKay?" John asked, intending to tease, but maybe hoping just a little that Rodney would say 'yes.'

"Don't be dense." Rolling onto his side, Rodney lifted himself up onto one elbow and looked down at John. "I'm saying it's easy to hang out with you. Except there's still this undercurrent of expectation because it's a date. It's weird."

Weird wasn't the adjective John had been hoping for. "But you're having fun?"

"Yes, of course. I--" Rodney's eyes locked on his and John waited for him to finish his sentence. But he didn't and the moment dragged, Rodney's eyes getting brighter and larger with every passing millisecond. "Can I kiss you?"

"Sure," John said, trying to sound as if Rodney leaning over him asking to kiss him wasn't making his heart pound, and really he was too old for this shit.

Even though it felt kind of good, like this was what being alive really meant.

While John was being philosophical, Rodney had shifted closer, and now he was moving, leaning down so slowly John was starting to suspect they'd fallen into a time warp.

Then Rodney's lips were on his, unsure and nervous, but there. John groaned a little in relief and moved his lips against Rodney's.

Drawing back, Rodney said, "You have really soft lips."

"Is that a problem?" John asked, because it would be just like Rodney to complain his lips were too soft.

"No, no, I like it."

"You can kiss me again, if you want."

Rodney didn't answer. He just leaned back down.


Whistling while shaving wasn't a good idea, so John forced himself to stop long enough to scrape the whiskers from his face. Then he started again.

He and Rodney had kissed. Several times. When they finally stopped Rodney had been looking a little dazed, so John had done the gentlemanly thing and walked him home.

He hadn't kissed Rodney good-night, because the hallways were a little public for that sort of thing.

But still, first base.

With Rodney.

Leaning closer to the mirror, John frowned. His hair was all going to the right. He'd accepted the whole sticking up thing a long time ago-- it helped that Rodney had once called it rakish-- but it didn't look remotely rakish when it was all going to the right.

He reached for his comb.


Rodney was already seated by the time John got to the mess. He and Teyla were at the team's usual table and John slid in next to her without asking permission. "Good morning."

"You look chipper this morning," Teyla said.

"I am," John answered and pointed at the large stack of half-finished pancakes on Teyla's plate. "Hungry?"

"Growing a child requires a great deal of nourishment," Teyla said.

"I wasn't criticizing." John shifted his attention to the other side of the table and Rodney. "How are you this morning?"

"Fine," Rodney said, the pinkness that appeared in his cheeks making John grin. Rodney leaned across the table. "Did you know Ronon was seeing Keller?"

Picking up his coffee, John nodded. "It happened during the quarantine."

"They had sex during the quarantine?"

"I believe they merely got to know one another better," Teyla said, cutting another bite from her stack of pancakes.

"In the biblical sense?"

"Rodney," John said, trying to put an end to the conversation before Ronon reached their table.

"What? It's a valid question."

"What's a valid question?" Ronon asked, taking the chair next to Rodney's.

"Whether or not you had sex with Dr. Keller," Rodney said.

"I did," Ronon answered, reaching for his own coffee.

"Really?" Rodney said, leaning toward Ronon this time. "She's very attractive."

"She is," Ronon agreed. "Especially naked."

John didn't have to be told Teyla had kicked him under the table when Ronon said, "Hey."

"Be respectful," Teyla said.

"I'm not being disrespectful. I'm saying she's beautiful and I like her. A lot."

Feeling Rodney's eyes on him, John shifted his gaze away from Teyla and Ronon. Rodney smiled at him.

John smiled back.


This time it was John who couldn't decide what to wear. He had no idea what Rodney had planned, other than food. Rodney had been very clear about the food.

He also didn't know how prepared he should be. What if they went beyond kissing? Should he wear 'easier to get your hand into' boxers or 'tighter and therefore sexier' briefs? Plus, he had black briefs, but all his boxers were pretty much just shades of blue.

The briefs might look too much like he was expecting to get lucky, even though they were just cotton.

Deciding he was being stupid, John tugged a pair of jeans over the light blue boxers he had worn all day. Now he just had to pick a shirt.

John had just decided not to tuck in his shirt, the better to encourage wandering hands, when Rodney knocked.

"Hi," Rodney said when John stepped out of his quarters.

John smiled. "Hi."

"This way," Rodney said, turning and heading for the transporter.

John followed. If he let his eyes drop, that was just to make up for the fact that Rodney hadn't smiled back.


They ended up on the highest balcony in the city. "I know it's kind of an imitation of your date," Rodney said. "But it's not like we can go for dinner and a movie."

"It's fine, Rodney," John said, looking out at the city below them.

"I thought it might be nice to look at the city instead of the ocean."

"Good thinking," John said.

This time Rodney smiled.


Dinner was sandwiches. "I couldn't get any chicken. How did you do that, anyway? Let me guess, you pulled the handsome, heroic colonel thing."

"Nope," John said, leaning back against the pillar next to Rodney. "I save that for you."

"That's flirting," Rodney said, pointing at him. "You're flirting with me."


Rodney grinned, and John thought maybe it would lead to another kiss, but Rodney said, "I was wondering what Ronon would say if I told him I was dating someone really good-looking, too. Do you think he'd be okay with it? With you and me?"

"I don't know." The one time John had mentioned the idea of a male-male relationship to Ronon he hadn't gotten much of a reaction.

"Maybe they were homophobic on Sateda."

"Maybe they weren't," John countered.

"What about Teyla? I haven't seen any same sex relationships among the Athosians, have you?"

"I think Teyla's pretty open-minded."

"Maybe," Rodney said.

"Considering the worst-case scenario?" John asked.

Rodney winced. "It's what I do."

"I'm not faulting you for it. But it might be a good idea to put that big imagination of yours to work picturing the best-case scenario once in a while."

"And that would be?"

Rodney's hand was resting next to his on the ground and John slid the palm of his hand against Rodney's before he could tell himself it was a hokey thing to do. "You decide you like dating me, and eventually the government changes the rules, and we tell our friends we're dating." John squeezed Rodney's hand to keep him from commenting. "They congratulate us. After a while we take the next step and move in together. You win a Nobel and I'm the first person you thank in your acceptance speech."

"You would be anyway."

"We retire and get a place on the beach, and live happily ever after," John continued.

"By the time we're ready to retire global warming will have wiped out most of the beaches."

John laughed.

"I'm being negative again."

"S'alright," John said. "I like that you say what you think."


"Sure. Honesty is good. It's how you know you can trust someone." John could feel the weight of Rodney's curiosity. The silence stretched and John glanced at Rodney.

Rodney was simply looking at him, waiting. It was weird, because Rodney never waited for someone else to speak. Maybe he did when he was dating, but that was--

"My mother cheated on my father, for a long time, years. I didn't blame her. I did at first, but not when I got older. He was always gone, and she was alone with just me. She took a part-time job at a publishing company when I was in sixth grade. I liked it because she was happier. She had always wanted to be a writer. She used to tell the best stories.

"Anyway, she went to work, and then she had an affair with one of co-workers. I overheard her on the phone one night when she thought I was asleep."

"You never told?" Rodney asked.

"I didn't want my parents to break up. It might've been better if they had, because it was all just lies and secrets. Pretending. I even lied for her a few times."

"That sounds horrible," Rodney said.

John turned to look at him. "That's why I like it that you say what you think, no pretending."

"I want to kiss you, again."

Not bothering to answer, John closed the distance between them. It was a good kiss, slow and easy, more assured than last night's kisses had been. John relaxed into it, letting Rodney go carefully deeper.

By the time John shifted, stretching across Rodney's lap, he was already aching with arousal. It didn't help that he was resting one hand on the side of Rodney's shoulder and that Rodney was holding him, one arm around John's back, his free hand resting on John's waist, warm and broad.

Stopping their kiss, Rodney rested his forehead on John's shoulder. "I thought about kissing you all day."

"Me too."

"I don't want to mess this up," Rodney whispered, as if he was confiding a secret.

"I don't either," John said. Shifting so he could pull Rodney closer, he pressed a kiss to Rodney's temple.


"I heard McKay and Dr. Brown broke up," Ronon said.

Panting harder than he wanted to be, John said, "Yeah." He'd long suspected that Ronon deliberately waited until John was winded to start these little conversations.

"You gonna take your shot?"

John thought about asking why Ronon thought he wanted a shot. He thought about denying he was interested. Instead, he said, "I already am."

"Good," Ronon said and put on a burst of speed that made John groan.


John had no idea what to do for their third date. The balcony thing was getting kind of old, but there wasn't exactly a plethora of date spots in Atlantis, at least that offered the kind of privacy he and Rodney needed.

And having the date in his quarters might seem like pushing it.

Part of him really wanted to push it.

So he'd made the part that wanted to push it and the part that was terrified of screwing up compromise. They'd have the date in his room, but he wouldn't wear the black briefs, and he'd make sure they sat on the chairs or the couch instead of the bed.

Rodney showed up right at 19:00. He was still in his uniform. "I didn't have time to change," he said, pointing his thumb back over his shoulder. "I can go change if you want."

"No, that's fine. But you might want to take off your jacket, get more comfortable." John said, the words coming out before his better judgment could stop them.

"Good idea," Rodney said, reaching for his zipper.

John diverted his eyes. "I got us dinner from the mess. It's spaghetti night, but they had those rolls you like." Rodney tossed his jacket onto John's bed and John shifted his gaze back to Rodney, and the really nice biceps that were now highlighted by Rodney's dark grey t-shirt.

"Good," Rodney said, rubbing his hands together. "I'm starving."

John followed him across the room to the folding table he'd borrowed from storage. Rodney had already picked up his fork. "Did you see today's databurst? Kavanaugh sent his latest research, and I use the term research very loosely..."

John smiled to himself and let Rodney's words wash over him.


Unfortunately, they couldn't spend the entire evening eating. The plates were bare, the rolls eaten, and John had no idea what to do next. He should've had a plan for this, but by the time he'd finished choosing his underwear he'd run out of time.

He flipped through the possibilities. Movie, they'd done that a hundred times. Same with video games, chess, and pretty much every other leisure activity Atlantis offered. "Do you want to dance?"

Rodney frowned at him. "No."

Ignoring him, John went to his laptop and plugged in his speakers. Then he pulled up his playlists, choosing the one labeled "Moody Jazz."

Slow, decidedly sensual music filled the room. "You listen to Louis Armstrong?" Rodney asked.

"You thought I only listened to the Man in Black, didn't you?"

"And the Beach Boys."

John grinned. "Wouldn't that make you a surfer girl?" Rodney glared and John added, "Come on, Rodney. Get your ass over here."

"I have two left feet."


"When you end up with squashed toes, don't say I didn't warn you," Rodney said, but he'd risen from his seat and was walking over to John. "Now what?"

Taking Rodney's hands, John placed them on his waist. Then he rested his hands on Rodney's shoulders. "Now we move."

After a couple of steps, Rodney said, "You realize we're dancing like we're in grade eight."

John thought about pointing out that he was trying to avoid messing things up. Instead, he said, "Fine," and moved a little closer.

Rodney pulled him closer still, until they were touching from their shoulders to somewhere around mid-thigh. Tightening, his hold on Rodney's shoulders, John rested his cheek against Rodney's and followed Rodney in a slow, rhythmless shuffle.

Rodney's warmth was seeping into him and the feel of Rodney's broad chest against his own was becoming more arousing with every shuffle. Then Rodney moved a hand, sliding it from the small of John's back slowly upward.

John moved his hand a little to the right until he could brush the back of Rodney's neck with his thumb.

Rodney tightened his hold with the arm still around John's waist and caressed his back again with his free hand.

John moved the pads of his fingers across the back of Rodney's neck, feeling the soft tickle of hair and the smoothness of Rodney's skin.

Moving his hand to the side, Rodney stroked John's back again.

John stroked the back of Rodney's shoulders.

Each touch was a little bolder than the last. Rodney's breath was hot on the side of his neck, and John could feel his arousal growing.

He could also feel Rodney's arousal growing. Literally.

Then Rodney's foot came down on his. "Ow."

"I told you I'm bad at this," Rodney said, letting go of John. "I wouldn't have even tried it if I didn't love you."

Wanting to get Rodney back in his arms, John reached for him, saying, "It's not--" He stopped. "What did you just say?"

"That I told you I'm a bad dancer."

"After that."

"That I might, possibly, you know, um..." Rodney was looking at the floor.

John stepped close and kissed him firm and quick. "We've only had three dates."

"I've known you for years. I was just confused by the whole," Rodney lifted a hand, gesturing at John's entire body, "penis thing."

"Penis thing?" John said, letting himself smile, because so what if Rodney had only broken up with Katie three days ago, John was pretty sure he'd never said those words to her.

"I didn't expect to fall for someone who had one."

"I see."

"Do you have to sound so smug about it?"

"Yup," John said, leaning in for a kiss. "I do."


"Why are we doing this again?" Rodney asked, shirt collar damp with sweat, as he plopped himself down on the box he'd just been carrying.

"Moving works better when you unpack the boxes instead of sitting on them," John answered, dropping his own box onto the bed. "And we're doing it so we can have early morning shower sex." Not that they hadn't had their share of early morning sex over the past year, especially after the regs changed, but John was sure it'd be even better in their own place and their own big, comfortable bed.

"We already have early morning shower sex."

"Not every morning. Come on, get up."

Rodney stood and opened the box he'd been sitting on. "We've lived in another galaxy for five years how can we have so much crap?" Pulling a stack of books from the box, Rodney added, "Also, why do you own Sense and Sensibility?"

"Just unpack, Rodney."

Carrying the books to the shelves along the wall, Rodney placed them upright. "Are you sure about this?" he asked, turning to face John. "I can be--"

"I'm sure," John said, cutting him off before he could finish. He held up Rodney's Scooby-Doo boxers, instead of placing them in the drawer. "I know exactly how you can be. Years, remember?"

"Right," Rodney said, starting to smile. "So am I going to find Romeo and Juliet next or Wuthering Heights?"

"I'm pretty sure the gay porn is at the bottom of that one."

"Really?" Rodney said and began digging into the box.

John smiled to himself. Motivating Rodney was easy when you knew how.