Word count: 1972
Summary: “Shut up Rodney, you’ll wake the cat.”
Beta: Becca, seiyaharris
Rodney and John don’t get together till after they come home from Atlantis.
John is forced to retire on medical grounds when he smashes his back up falling down a cliff on planet ‘P3X-let’s not talk about that’. He’s better now, walking at least, but not up for active duty. He lives in Colorado Springs and turns stuff on at the mountain. He helps Doctor Jackson with his Ancient research, and tries not to look up when he hears a jet plane fly overhead.
Rodney leaves of his own accord. About eight months after John goes, he packs his duffel and tells Elizabeth he misses his cats. She pretends it hasn’t got anything to do with Zelenka’s death, but writes ‘PTSD’ on Rodney’s file anyway. He shuns the SGC when he gets back, he refuses tenure at MIT and CalTech, but he buys an apartment in Colorado Springs and moves his cats in.
Six months after that he moves John in too.
The sex is incredible, obviously. John is relaxed and easy and languid. Rodney is frenetic and determined and absolutely obsessed with getting it right. Somehow, that works.
They argue, they argue a lot. One time, Rodney throws a cat. John and the cat retreat to the bedroom for an hour or so, and are treated to contrite Rodney after. He orders take out, and gets cookies, and makes John promise to never ever leave him.
He adds the part about the homing beacon after the make-up sex, when John doesn’t have the energy to make a fuss about it.
Afterwards though, John checks his back in the mirror for new scars. Because he saw Miffy and Bert get their microchips put in (so ‘that girl’ doesn’t try to ‘steal them again’) and he wouldn’t put it past Rodney to try the same on him.
He’s concentrating so hard he almost doesn’t notice the fading surgical scars parallel with his spine.
A year in, when John’s feeling old and achy and miserable and Rodney’s finally going back to the lab (General Carter bribed him, John’s sure), the cats are the thing they argue about the most.
Rodney cleans the litter tray out every day, but forgets to buy cat food. John remembers to take them for their shots, but won’t let them sleep on the bed at night.
Rodney thinks it’s John’s way of pulling away. John thinks it’s just Rodney being an ass.
Both are true.
The change comes when Miffy gets out. They order pizza, and she sneaks out the apartment door. Somehow, she gets out the front entrance and onto the road. Somehow, the ass in the SUV doesn’t see her, and somehow, she survives.
The microchip is good for something. The vet calls at 8am, some passerby brought Miffy in. John’s ashamed to realise he didn’t notice she wasn’t there, and Rodney’s frantic on the drive to the vet’s.
Rodney’s settling the extortionate bill when the nurse brings Miffy out – all cuddled in a blanket and looking pathetic – and John has to get involved. She sits on his lap in the car on the way home, (Rodney shoots them both worried looks) and she spends the rest of the day asleep curled up on his chest. She’s sore and miserable and sleepy, but not really hurt, and John can’t help being pleased and jealous at the same time.
“What sort of a name is Miffy, anyway?” John asks, directs it more at the cat than Rodney. But it’s Rodney who answers.
Which is when they realise about Jenn. Jennifer Deveraux. The only girl John was ever even vaguely serious about, the girl he stood up for basketball and a county fair when he was meant to meet her folks.
He met her not long after he came home from Bosnia, the first time, to deal with his Dad’s estate - his head was in a bad place.
Apparently hers was too.
Because Rodney dated Jenn. Miffy was her cat. Rodney stole his ex-girlfriend’s cat. Stole her. Ex-fiancée, John reminds himself, staring at Miffy, sprawled out and happy on the bed.
Rodney was doing his second PhD at CalTech. He was twenty-four and Jenn was twenty-two. He moved her into his apartment with him and Bert, just like he moved John in. The thought makes John feel a little sick.
After pressing, and arguing, and finally threatening, he finds out they were together for two years, they were engaged, planning a June wedding.
John thinks about the way Rodney railroads him, strokes the cat a little, and thinks about Rodney’s miserable face every time John threatens to leave.
Rodney didn’t get miserable over Jenn, John knows because he asked.
John doesn’t feel the urge to run away from Rodney, because Rodney isn’t going to introduce him to his parents, or talk him into marriage and babies.
John smiles, and tries to remember when he fell in love.
It’s good after that. The cats sleep on the bed, and Rodney comes home on time. In the mornings, sometimes, he won’t leave – he says the sight of a cat curled over John’s head, sharing his pillow, rumpled and sleepy and warm, is too hard to walk away from.
John smiles a little more, and remembers that Rodney walked away from Jenn, isn’t going to walk away from him.
The next five years are better. They move to California, somehow buy a house on the ocean – the cats like the garden. John leaves most of his stuff in packing boxes, he can’t help it, it’s something he’s always done; but the sad look on Rodney’s face whenever he comes out of the spare room makes John think maybe its time to change.
Elizabeth comes home to visit, and claps when she finds out about them. John resists the urge to laugh when Rodney rolls his eyes – just. He’s happier now, relaxed. Sometimes he flies to Colorado and helps out on SGC projects, but not often, he doesn’t feel like he needs that connection now.
He sits in on Rodney’s classes sometimes, and puts serious thought into doing that PhD. He’s too old though, not quick enough anymore – the wrong side of forty now.
He signs John up at CalTech, finds him an advisor, and threatens him into going to the first meet up session.
John balks a little, then reminds himself that Rodney bought the beach house without his input, and that worked out okay.
He goes to the meet up, settles on a thesis subject and gets it done in two years. Rodney only preens a little.
He collects his PhD (‘The Beauty of Numbers’) and nearly trips down the steps when he sees Jenn Deveraux in the audience.
She tells him he’s got chubby. Rodney tells her she’s got fat. She rolls her eyes and tells him she’s pregnant, for the fifth time, and Rodney shuffles off to get canapés (mumbling something about being ‘lucky’).
She smiles at John, like he never did anything wrong, like he never let her down in front of her parents. When he dredges up the balls to ask her why, she shrugs, and says.
“Who am I to judge?” and adds, “John, you were obviously confused,” when he frowns at her.
It’s only after, when she’s introducing Rodney to her husband, and explaining that he’s on the staff here, that John figures out what she means.
He was gay. She thinks he was gay all that time and just didn’t know. She thinks he didn’t care because he was gay and she wasn’t what he really wanted. He shakes his head a little and waits for a break in the conversation so he can tell her how wrong she is.
Then he watches Rodney argue with Chad (there’s a name for a Chemistry Professor with five kids…) and wave his hands and snark and smile at the same time, and realises: she isn’t wrong at all. She’s right.
John was never blasé or afraid of commitment or scared of meeting a girl’s folks.
He was waiting. He was waiting for someone who’d put up with him, who’d argue with him, who’d stay with him, however much he pushed them away.
Apparently, he was waiting for Rodney.
And apparently, it took nearly getting killed in another galaxy and the cat getting run over for John to realise that.
“How’s Miffy?” he hears Jenn ask suddenly, and tears his eyes away from Rodney’s wonderful mouth. He blinks, a little, at Jenn’s knowing smile, and listens to Rodney babble.
“Dead. She’s dead. Got run over, didn’t she John?”
John smiles, and nods, and makes pained little faces, because that’s what Rodney wants him to do.
At home, that night, he draws Miffy to him and cuddles into her warmth. She’s getting old now, she’s stiff and arthritic, but she purrs in John’s ear and kneads his chest with her needle-sharp claws. He pulls the blankets up, and settles her on the pillow to go to sleep, smiles when he feels Bert heave himself up onto the end of the bed, the two of them purring in chorus.
Rodney switches the lights off when he comes up, tucks himself in and next to John and curls around him, warm body close. He slides one hand over John’s belly and tucks one leg between his thighs, then leans down to kiss his ear.
John smiles into the pillow and thinks, home. This is home. He travelled the world, travelled many worlds, and never found anywhere that felt as much like home as this.
“You ever want that?” John murmurs, sleep creeping up on him.
“What?” Rodney asks, snuffling, moving his hand and pushing Miffy’s tail away from his face.
“Marriage, kids… something to stop me running away?” he adds, very quietly.
He feels Rodney smile against his neck
“You’ll never leave me, the cats would miss you.”
“I might,” John answers, feeling daring, feeling the need to push, to test.
Rodney just tightens his arms around John’s chest and burrows his nose into John’s shoulder.
“What about the homing beacon?” he asks, and John laughs.
Much much later they buy another, nicer, house, and John works toward his own tenure. Rodney’s going a little bald and John’s getting a pot belly, they never have kids, and they never get married, but they’re happy, really stupidly happy.
They bury Miffy at the end of the garden, under the cherry tree, right under the spot where she liked to sit and watch people go by, right next to Bert, who slipped away years ago.
They don’t cry, but they do hold hands and stand quietly for a while because really, each of them always secretly thought that Miffy brought them together. Rodney thinks she was there when he came to his senses. John thinks she kept them together, stopped him from running away.
They get a kitten, because they’re cat people, and John lets him sleep on the bed straight away. They argue over names so much, that in the end he just gets called Cat (and John’s really super pleased they never had kids).
He sleeps on John’s head, just like Miffy used to, and the sight of it sometimes makes Rodney really sad. Mostly, it makes him smile, and turn the alarm off and cuddle closer into the nest of blankets and cat and John.
In the dark, one night, when Cat’s curled up in his usual spot, and John isn’t sleeping because of the pain in his back, Rodney pulls him close and says,
“You know I’d miss you if you ever came to your senses and left, right?”
John sighs, and turns, and pulls Rodney down and whispers, “Shut up Rodney, you’ll wake the cat.”
And they live happily, cattily, ever after.