Despite Rodney's highly developed brain he could be a little forgetful at times. Ok, a lot forgetful. He had just gotten to the point where he'd trained himself to respond a certain way to Keller. He was polite, held her hand, gave good bye kisses and was just in general a good boyfriend, he even shared with minimal complaining. When Sheppard and Jennifer had switched bodies his mind, for possibly the first time in his life, had been stuck on 'does not compute'. So his subconscious, his muscle memory, had taken over and he'd responded not to John but to what he knew. And it kept happening. He found that when his mind wasn't focused on remembering who was who he forgot all about anything but what he was doing. At these times his reactions were knee-jerk.
He'd never really thought about how he'd been taught to be aware of her presence, though it probably had something to do with how she kept trying to get him into little public displays of affection. It was the reason he had always found her holding his hand and why she wouldn't let him leave without the requisite good bye kiss and somewhere along the way it had become routine without necessarily being wanted on his part. He'd gone along with it, because he didn't want to lose her. It became habit to meet her half way, it was just something he did.
Normally a break-up would bring an end to little things like not holding hands anymore, if the habits had even had a chance to form yet, but this wasn't a break up.
He'd tried to avoid the problem but neither of them were going to let him get away with that and he'd found himself in the company of a Sheppard who kept acting enough like Jennifer to trigger PDAs and a Jennifer who was nothing like the person whose body she inhabited.
It hadn't actually taken him too long to recognize the look Sheppard got whenever they argued or when he bitched, which he wasn't used to being able to do with Jennifer. It was the same look Jennifer got when he tried to be romantic, fond and indulgent, he'd just never noticed the similarities until Sheppard was literally using Jennifer's face for the expression.
He often found himself cutting off his own words, expecting a reprimand from Jennifer about being rude, only to look up and see Sheppard worried and confused. He hadn't thought about how much he didn't say in front of her.
When he was around Jennifer he avoided physical contact because that was what he had always acted like around Sheppard and the first few times Jennifer would curl into him on the couch he had frozen then jumped up and made excuses to leave. He slowly got used to it, being closer to Sheppard than he normally did unless it was a life or death thing and Sheppard was dragging him around or shielding him from a bomb blast.
When Jennifer would say something, innocuous for her, he would respond instinctively with a cutting comment that would probably have made Sheppard laugh but instead he found himself on the end of more talks about remembering to be nice than he'd had to endure since he'd first gotten together with her. It hadn't occurred to him how much he freely said to Sheppard.
In fact, that was becoming a problem. Sheppard, as a blonde woman, was something Rodney couldn't believe he found so intriguing. Sheppard would come and get him for dinner or a movie or racing cars on the pier or try to get him to spar and Rodney wasn't prepared for how much he wished he could keep some of those things when he got Jennifer back in her own body. Sheppard had always had this habit of leaning on things and watching him and smirking but when he did those things now Rodney kept pushing away the thought of how much it resembled flirting. Sheppard had always done it so it couldn't mean anything new, even if he was noticing it in new ways when done in Jennifer's body. He was still attracted to Jennifer, of course, the problem was now he had his best friend in a body he wanted to get naked with and he may have developed an unhealthy attachment to the combination.
There had been a time, way back when he was in school and had only ever slept with a handful of girls and never even had a real girlfriend when he had figured, why not expand the criteria? He'd been on a few dates and jerked off a few times but when he started working for the Air Force he figured it was in his best interest to forget about it. Since then, though, he'd always kind of thought about himself as bi, but as of right now it was still a purely theoretical notion. He wasn't even sure if that counted in this situation. He was still physically attracted to Jennifer and he'd never really considered being attracted to Sheppard, though he'd certainly noticed that the man was attractive, so maybe he was just really confused and everything would go back to normal.
He was more than a little relieved to get them both back to the bodies they belonged in, for his sake.
Rodney expected to be relieved. He expected everything to go back to normal. And it did, just so long as he didn't look too closely. His life felt so surreal between Sheppard's new lease on life and Jennifer's separation anxiety.
Even after Sheppard's giddiness faded his smile seemed more real than it had been before, more like it had before he'd spent over five years at the front lines against the Wraith, back when Rodney had just met him. It wasn't much but he was more tuned into everyone else. And Rodney noticed. He noticed the smiles and the way Sheppard reached out a little more but he wasn't happy for him, instead he felt like he had lost something. Sheppard wasn't paying any less attention to him than he used to but it hurt somehow that the rest of the world was now getting to see a side of Sheppard that Rodney had thought was only for him, like he wasn't as special anymore. He found himself hoarding the attention he received from Sheppard and feeling proud when he would realize he was still getting more.
Jennifer, on the other hand, was clingy in a way she hadn't been before. Oh, she was happy and adjusted back just fine, but she kept closer than she had before when he was around. He knew he hadn't been as touchy and comforting as he probably should have but he was having enough trouble ignoring potential personal revelations without having John's body curled into him.
He wasn't sure exactly what it was he missed more: John with Jennifer's body or Jennifer with John's personality but after only a few short weeks it became clear that Jennifer just wasn't… enough for him anymore. He cursed John for bringing this whole thing about. He'd been happy living in ignorance, with Jennifer, but now… well he'd never not known so much in his life. He liked Jennifer, wanted her, but she felt so two dimensional now when he looked back on those three weeks. He didn't want to give up what they had, and he may be a bastard and an ass, but he wasn't going to just keep stringing her along.
That night when Jennifer was starting the movie and he was waiting on the couch he heaved a huge sigh, "Jennifer, I, ah…"
She came over to sit next to him, placing her hand on his thigh, "what?"
He rubbed his face then picked up her hand, turning it over and watching his fingers twist through hers rather than looking at her face, "I've never done this before, I can't believe I'm doing this now, I," he took a deep breath, "I'm pretty sure I still love you."
She stiffened next to him, "what?"
Rodney gathered all his courage and looked her in the eye, it was probably a bad thing that he thought of John when looking in her eyes, "it's never going to get better than this, more than this, and I didn't think I needed more but I think I want it now. I can't describe it but it's just, we're not," he pulled way, resting his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands, "enough."
Jennifer leaned away, wrapping her arms around her knees and not looking at him, "there's someone else, isn't there."
Rodney wasn't sure so he just said, "it's not about anyone else, this is, it's just, what I need."
"And it isn't me."
"I'm sorry, really, I can't believe I'm doing this. I've never been happier in a relationship."
Jennifer turned her head but he could still see her hand swiping at her cheeks, "just leave. Please."
Rodney nodded, standing up, and when he turned around at the door his eyes might have been a little too bright but all he said was, "I'm sorry," and he was gone.
The next couple of days Rodney avoided other people as much as possible but he couldn't escape Sheppard. He worked in his private lab or found some remote area to work on but Sheppard still showed up to bring him coffee or make sure he ate or to bring him back to his quarters for sleep. It was so bizarre that Sheppard was still Sheppard. After being in Jennifer's, no, in Keller's, body and wreaking Rodney's view of the world it felt like Sheppard should be missing something the same way Rodney was.
Three days after his break-up, when Sheppard dropped him off in his room for the night, Rodney sat on the bed and said, "I broke up with her."
Sheppard sat down next to him, "I know, buddy."
Sheppard shrugged, "word travels fast, even when you don't want it to."
Rodney sighed, "it's your fault."
Sheppard stayed very still for a few minutes, "what?"
"I liked her, I think I loved her, and then you go and get body swapped with her and mess up my life!"
He was standing and yelling now and Sheppard has folded in on himself a bit. Rodney wasn't going to think about how it made him want to hug him. Then Sheppard gathered himself and looked up, defiant, angry, and hurt, and it made Rodney sorry he'd said anything.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to taint your view of her. I should leave."
Rodney grabbed Sheppard's arm and pushed him back onto the bed, "that's not how I meant it. You were. I, I think I miss it."
Sheppard sighed, "miss what."
"You, her, like that."
"Like what, Rodney?"
"I know it was Keller, but it was also you. You, blonde with breasts and you, she's hot but she was hotter when she was my best friend, too, you know, and now she's not. She's not you, too, and it's like she's missing something I didn't know I wanted and I couldn't just ignore it so I broke up with her."
"Rodney," Sheppard swallowed, "what are you saying?"
"I don't know! I mean, it was like she wasn't enough anymore but what made her enough was you and I can't tell if that's because we were missing a deeper friendship or because…" Rodney cut himself off, he often got carried away with Sheppard because he could, but he shouldn't say this. Sheppard probably hadn't been flirting with him before so saying this could definitely ruin their dysfunctional friendship and Rodney couldn't live without it. He could go without Jennifer but he'd be lost without Sheppard.
When he glanced over Sheppard had the same scared look on his face but it was toughened with resolve, "what?"
"Nothing, no, nothing, I just, I'm tired, you know, and maybe I just need some sleep, so…"
"Rodney," Sheppard said in his calmest command voice, the one edged with steel, the one that always got a salute from the marines, then he got up to stand right in front of Rodney, "because what?"
Rodney swallowed, "I, I, please don't hate me, I can't, god!" He shut his eyes, took a deep breath, then opened them again, "it's you. I chose between Jennifer's body and your mind and you won, ok? You," Rodney reached up to run a few fingers across Sheppard's forehead, "this is what made her, you, perfect."
Sheppard swallowed thickly, opened his mouth, closed it, and then melted into Rodney. Rodney moved closer in the embrace, into Sheppard's arm's holding him and the warmth of his chest seeping through their shirts. He moved his hands up Sheppard's neck and tilted his head then whispered, "can I?"
Sheppard nodded, moving forward until their lips met. It was tender and almost chaste and Rodney's heart was fluttering wildly.
Rodney looked up into Sheppard's smiling eyes, "what?"
"I'd really like it if you called me John, everyone else already does anyway."
Rodney hadn't really thought about it but, yeah, everyone else did. Not the marines, of course, but the civilian personnel all called him John. Why didn't Rodney, his best friend, call him by his first name?
"You never asked me to."
John smiled and kissed him on the forehead, "I didn't think I had to."
"Oh, well, huh. Sorry?"
John laughed. Rodney shut him up with another kiss. A long, open mouth, tongue involved, kiss. John made a pleased sound against Rodney's mouth and Rodney held on tighter as John sank closer, putting more of his weight on Rodney. When they broke apart this time John leaned forward and mouthed the area right under Rodney's ear.
"Oh, that's nice."
John smiled against his skin and moved back for one more light kiss, "I should go."
"What? No, I thought…"
"Rodney, this isn't…casual, for me. I won't be a one night stand or a rebound. I need you to know this is what you want."
"I do, I…"
"I also need to do this right. Have dinner with me tomorrow?"
"I, yes, of course."
"Good," he kissed Rodney one more time then disentangled himself and moved toward the door, "good night, Rodney."
"Yeah, good night, John," and Rodney got ready for bed shocked but grinning.
Rodney had lost two scientists that day. It was stupid and entirely their fault, if they'd only been a little smarter, or followed directions a little better maybe…Rodney sighed, maybe nothing, they were gone and it hurt. Drs. Gordon and Bergher weren't very high up on the chain and Rodney hadn't even met them more than a few times since they'd arrived almost a year ago, when John flew the city back, but he was still in charge. They were his responsibility. Rodney didn't take it well when he lost someone. His people weren't supposed to die.
So it had been a long day and Rodney had finally cleaned up the mess and managed to retrieve all the data his scientists had been working on from their busted laptops: Rodney wasn't letting them die for nothing. Now he just really wanted to curl up somewhere warm and soft and safe…
Rodney stopped at John's door. It was late, really late, so late is was well into morning. John was most definitely asleep.
They had gone on a few dates over the past two weeks, mostly things they already did but now with more touching and looking, and they had spent a few evenings making out but Rodney wasn't sure they were here yet. Since John had realized that Rodney hadn't done anything like this with Keller, and really where did he ever get that idea? John had been cautious not to move things faster than Rodney was ready for, but if they were going to go at his pace then it was his move, right? Except this isn't exactly sex he's thinking about, it wasn't about getting off, and that made this so much more intimate. And potentially dangerous.
Rodney turned to face his room but couldn't leave. He gathered his courage and opened the doors to John's quarters.
John stayed still but his eyes snapped open when Rodney entered, "sorry, I, um, can I?" Rodney gestured toward the bed. John scooted over, sitting up a bit, so Rodney could sit next to him.
"Yeah, I heard. Sorry, buddy. Do you, ah, need to talk about it?"
They sat quietly for a few moments then Rodney spoke, "I just, can I?" He looked pointedly at the space next to John.
John smiled and patted the bed, "c'mon then."
Rodney got up and stripped down to his boxers and tee shirt, anything less and it might be uncomfortable, and laid down somewhat awkwardly beside John.
John scooted closer and wrapped himself around Rodney, a hand on his chest and his head leaning on his shoulder. He kissed Rodney next to his collar bone and Rodney let out a long breath, bringing his arms around John.
"That's what boyfriends are for."
Rodney chest flooded with warmth, he kissed the top of John's head.
Rodney woke up warm, so warm he was a little sticky, with an even warmer weight curled partially on top of him.
"Sleep well?" John mumbled against Rodney's shoulder.
They lay there for a few more moments while the lights flickered on in Rodney's mind. He blinked a few times, face slowly forming into a frown, "I should have left, shouldn't I?"
John lifted his head, "what? Why?"
"I should have been gone by morning so nobody would see me leaving."
John snorted. He leaned down to kiss Rodney, close mouthed, "Naw, you're fine."
"But what about…"
"Everyone will be out of the living quarters by eight but even if you did run across someone it's late enough that nobody's gonna question it, you just came to check something or make me come play light switch, whereas, if you get caught in the hallways before dawn…"
"Huh. I never thought of that."
"You've never had to sneak around."
Rodney opened his mouth, then closed it. He tried for casual, "have a lot of practice sneaking?"
John got serious, "not here, not on Atlantis, Rodney. Not at all for a long time."
"It's just something that stays with you, you know?"
"Rodney," John leaned closer, kissing him then resting their foreheads together, "just you, ok?"
Rodney nodded. He leaned up to kiss John again, holding him close and running his hands into John's hair.
John kissed him again, licking into his mouth. Rodney shifted his hips to press his growing erection against John's thigh. He moaned in to John's mouth but John pulled away. Rodney grabbed him, keeping him close.
"No, I'm letting you protect my virginity anymore, I'm tired of this."
John settled back on top of him, "are you sure?"
"God, John, I swear, if you ask me that one more time I'll stick you with cold showers and, once you do decide I can handle sex, I'll leave you with the worst case of blue balls ever, got it?"
John fought to keep a straight face, "ok, Rodney, whatever you say."
Rodney slapped him lightly in the back of the head, "bastard," then cut off John's laugh with a hard kiss.
When they resurfaced both were rocking against each other, breathing heavily. Rodney ran his mouth over John's stubble, letting his teeth scrape gently, "I want to touch you, can I touch you?"
"Yes, please," John huffed out and Rodney ran his hand down from its position on John's shoulder, fingers pulling on John's shirt until John cooperated and let him pull it off. He threaded his fingers through the soft springy hair he found there. It wasn't anything like what he'd experienced before but instead of turning him off it was like being a teenager, or, in his case, early twenties, and finally getting to explore someone for the first time. It was hot as hell.
John wasn't pushing into his hands like he'd had women do but that was ok because he did look happy and content, like a cat. Rodney rubbed his thumb around a nipple then leaned in to kiss it. John made a pleased sound, reaching up to run his hand over Rodney's shoulder and into his hair.
Rodney's hand continued its journey down the path of hair, marveling at the change in texture when he got below John's belly button. His fingers slid under the waistband of John's boxers. John shifted to support himself on one arm and reached down to help Rodney peel them off.
Rodney pushed John over so he was on his back and Rodney was the one leaning over him. He watched as he brushed his fingers through the hair around John's cock, then over the cock itself. He watched, fascinated, as it filled more, moving slightly up to meet his fingers.
John breathed out a whimper, "Jesus, Rodney, you're killing me. More."
When he wrapped his whole hand around John's cock John sucked in a breath, holding it for a moment. John's cock felt hot in his hand, so hot, and he could feel John's pulse beating in counterpoint to his own. It was so much like his own yet so far from what he knew. He moved slowly at first, swiftly gaining confidence when John made little moans and started shoving into his hand. Rodney rocked against John's thigh, not enough to make him come or anything but enough to ease some tension. John threaded his fingers through the hair at the base of Rodney's neck and tugged him down for a breathy kiss.
They stayed like that, faces close together, Rodney settled above John and jerking him off, while John's breaths got shorter and his thrusts into Rodney's hand got more erratic. Rodney watched with wide-eyed fascination when John's body went taut beneath him. He could feel the flow of semen as it left John's body and the white hot splash against his skin, the droplets cooling as they ran off his hand.
He sat there, holding John's softening cock until John ruffled his hair again, "hey."
"Hey, that was, wow. John."
John pulled Rodney closer for a kiss. He pushed Rodney around so he was on his back, tugging Rodney's shirt off as he went. Rodney hastily wiped his hand off before John threw it across the room.
They kept moving at Rodney's pace, John never asked for anything they hadn't tried before, but at least he was asking. Rodney liked that John could ask him for stuff. It was a good sign, Rodney hoped that once they got through all the basics that Rodney knew he needed to be comfortable with first maybe John would start asking for new stuff, too.
Once he had handjobs down he moved on to blowjobs. His first time giving one was quite possibly the most embarrassing thing ever to happen to him during sex. He almost gave it up then as a lost cause but John seemed to enjoy giving and Rodney hadn't really minded the taste and at least John hadn't laughed so he kept at it.
They'd been together for four months before Rodney got anywhere near John's ass. It was a mistake the first time. Rodney was blowing John and the finger pressed behind his balls as he was holding them kept slipping with sweat and when the tip ended up pressed to John's hole Rodney was afraid he'd gone too far but John just groaned deeper and pushed down.
They'd had a bit of a discussion after that and Rodney decided he wanted to be introduced to something that could make John make noises like that. So, one afternoon when they had the time, John walked him through the whole thing. Lube and fingering and finding the right angles. It had been a long time for John, too, so they did it with John on his hands and knees or his stomach for a while before getting to do it face to face.
It was six months before Rodney asked John to fuck him.
"I'm so glad you're not a woman."
John burst out laughing. He shook so hard he slipped out of Rodney.
John leaned down and kissed him, "so am I."