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Week 11: So Hard to Say

Eeek, literally under the wire.

Title: So Hard to Say
Author: lilyfarfalla
Rating: PG
Pairings: John/Rodney
Word Count: ~1500
Summary: This may be the hardest thing John Sheppard has ever done.
A/N: I kinda feel like I’ve written that summary before? But maybe I’ve just read it. Many awesome times. Hope this lives up to it!

John woke up early the first morning, his toes cold, despite the blanket wrapped around them. He got up for a run, knocking on Ronon’s door to get him going for once and tiring himself out by circling the city in the early morning light.

Breakfast was a cup of coffee and a muffin on the way to senior staff,

During lunch with Teyla, he volunteered to hold Torren and attempt to direct some semi-solid food into his mouth, which meant he took an early afternoon shower to get the non-tomato pasta sauce out of his air.

In the afternoon, he had to deal with requisition forms and Lorne and all of the paperwork that came with getting supplies from Earth, and it wasn’t until he was just a few steps away from the labs, coffee mug in hand that he realized the avoid-thinking-about-it method was working just a tad too well.

John sighed and took a sip of the coffee. He made a face. Black and dark roast, just like Rodney liked it, but Rodney was away from Atlantis and out of reach for another five days, and John liked his coffee with a hint of milk and sugar.

He turned to head back to his office, trying to think of something he could use to fill the afternoon if he wasn’t helping Rodney in the labs.


After years of searching through the databases and scouring abandoned Ancient facilities, it wasn’t until their third harvest festival on P43-KD8 that Rodney had discovered the people there held the secrets to creating ZPM technology. Like much of their best work, it had been purely accidental. The team was busy stuffing their faces with the mashed kirel root that tasted like a mix of pumpkin and potato while their hosts updated them with the general goings-on on Iropia since their last visit.

John had been keeping and ear out for mentions of the Genii and Wraith, and so he’d missed what Beruc had said that made Rodney jump out of his seat and shout “YES YES YES” before sitting back down, and, with more courtesy that Rodney extended even the people he was most afraid of, and asking what he had to do to get into the vault.

“Vault,” John had said. “What vault?”

But Rodney just hushed him and went on listening intently to Beruc describe the “cleansing ceremony” and “week of solitude, week of prayer, week of learning” and so it wasn’t until John was back on Atlantis, minus one scientist and trying to explain to Woolsey what exactly had happened that he realized he wasn’t going to see, speak to, or even email with Rodney for the next three weeks.

The first week had passed quickly, with a shipment of new soldiers and scientists to train and warn about the dangers of Atlantis and the Pegasus Galaxy. It had been Ronon’s idea to stage a couple of fake emergencies so the new arrivals had a taste of what an emergency in Atlantis would feel like before a real disaster came along. Radek tended to use the classic “Oh, did you touch that thing we told you not to touch? Hmm, you may have initiated internalized cell degradation. Let’s just wait and see.” It was highly effective, but John and Evan liked to mix things up with each new shipment of Marines, and the planning and execution of a fake Wraith attack took up a lot of time and energy.

The second week of Rodney’s period of isolation was quiet, as the recently traumatized staff meekly traveled the corridors, and John apparently forgot Rodney was still gone and went to get him coffee in the mess.

John went back to his office and stared at his desk. Neat, complete piles of paperwork were sorted and ready to be scanned to be sent back to Earth with the next data transmission. He’d inventoried all new shipments of military equipment, planned the next three weeks worth of missions once Rodney returned, and spent so much time sparring with Teyla and Ronon that they both refused to hit him with sticks anymore.

He had to face facts. He missed Rodney.

He missed their video golf dates, missed the hilarity of Rodney’s blurry face until his second cup of coffee, and he missed Rodney’s warm feet that were always curled up around John’s own when he woke up in the mornings.

John wondered if Ronon would go for a beer on the pier.


As it turned out, Ronon was busy. (He’d said, “I have a job, Sheppard,” when John had asked. John had decided that this had to mean he had scheduled some time to spar with Marines, because Ronon being more responsible “in the workplace” than John was not something he could handle right now.) Then John headed over to Teyla’s quarters, where she had accepted with alacrity before quickly shooing John out of the room and gently closing the door behind her.

“Torren has been having a difficult time, recently,” is all she would say when John asked.

After reaching the pier, they sat in companionable silence for a while. Teyla took small sips of her beer, but happily accepted a second when John offered. John felt a pang of guilt for never asking her to come out to the pier before, but then he guessed he usually spent most of his free time with Rodney.

He sighed. In his head, he knew that three weeks was not enough time to start pining, but he was having a hard time convincing the rest of himself of that.

Teyla gave him a knowing look. John glared back a little. If she was going to force him to talk about feelings she would never drink another beer of his again.

“You know, the Iropians allow written notes to be delivered to those in isolation,” she said, before taking another sip of her beer and turning her gaze out to the ocean surrounding Atlantis.

John just grunted in response.


Several days later, John finally broke down and tried to write a note. It started off easy enough, as John described the false emergencies and how various new staff had reacted. (Rodney had been a little sad to miss those, but nothing had really been able to dim his excitement over finally learning the secrets behind the ZPM tech.)

But after the update of news on Atlantis, John’s writing petered out. He stared down at the paper. He wasn’t writing a love letter, for god’s sake. He just wanted to tell Rodney to make sure and come back to Atlantis. And maybe that John missed him, or something.

Shit. This may be the hardest thing he’d ever done. John wished for a moment that there was a nuke he could fly into a Wraith ship, but he quickly repressed that thought. Rodney always seemed to know when he was thinking that and always got unreasonably upset.

John made a couple of false starts, talking about playing video golf by himself and accidentally drinking too-black coffee. He mentioned Ronon’s “I have a job” comment, which Rodney would get a kick out of, and then Teyla’s eagerness for a little time away from the family.

“Still,” he wrote. “Teyla is great and all, but it wasn’t the same without you there buddy. Hope you get the learning done in less than a week and you can come back early. Love, John.”

He sent the message with AR-8, who were visiting P43-KD8 to do a study on the fungus-repellant (and delicious, John liked to add) pumpkin-potato plants.

The next week and a half passed slowly, and John didn’t get a letter back from Rodney. He just figured the Iropians didn’t allow people in isolation to send notes out, or maybe Rodney was too busy committing the knowledge of the Ancients to memory.

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” he thought. He was out on their pier, practicing his golf swing, so he didn’t hear the offworld activation of the gate and didn’t know that Rodney had returned to Atlantis until a voice interrupted him mid-swing.

“Golf, Sheppard? I thought this was our special place!”

John turned around abruptly, hitting himself in the shin with the golf club.

“Ow! Shit!” he said. Then, “Rodney! You’re back early!”

Rodney smiled. “Well, as you said, it really didn’t take me a week to learn everything I ever wanted to know about ZPMs.”

He seemed giddy, and John couldn’t help grinning back. “S’good to see you buddy,” said John.

“Yes yes yes,” said Rodney. “You’re letter was similarly terse and understated. I missed you too. It was awful, three weeks alone in a cold bed, no one to talk to. I finally started trying to recreated my super-genius math, so you can imagine how much fun I had. The food was awful, too, don’t even get me started—”

Finally, John had to interrupt, and grabbed Rodney by the shoulders and kissed him until the last couple of weeks and his surprising loneliness faded away in the reality of Rodney’s presence.

“I really did miss you,” John said.

“Jesus,” said Rodney. “You’re saying that aloud? Do you have a fever? Should we go to the med bay?”

But John just interrupted him again, and Rodney subsided, kissing John back as Atlantis sparkled in the sunlight behind them.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
Aw, poor John! Pining and lonely for his Rodney!

This is sweet and cute, in a funny (not haha) sort of way. I love the underlying affection and love in it and the glimpse at life on Atlantis.
Aug. 14th, 2011 02:34 am (UTC)
Hee, your icon is perfectly appropriate.

And I'm glad you enjoyed, and I'm so glad the things your point out were there for you. I wrote this ridiculously quickly, but I guess it turned out ok!
Aug. 13th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
Awwww, this is so adorable!
Aug. 14th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
Thank you!! I'm surprised it's coherent I wrote it so quickly.

PS. It's nice to see you in this neck of the woods! ;)
Aug. 14th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
I like to amble through from time to time! :D
Aug. 13th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)

Sweet reunion......kisses kisses and kisses....

Aug. 14th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
Heeeeee. EXACTLY. Thank you!
Aug. 13th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
eee! Ronon's job and Teyla wanting to escape her family were such awesome touches, and John plotting to hold back *beer* if she tried to get him to talk about feelings was just hilarious.

but oh John missed his Rodney and his warm feet! and vice versa and this was so sweet and adorable. \o/
Aug. 14th, 2011 02:37 am (UTC)
Yay, thank you dude! I need to finish reading the rest of the MILLION AND ONE stories that people wrote this week, but your advice to go to bed and write it in the morning was good.

I love the idea of Ronon being like "Sheppard, seriously, do you never work?" and Teyla TOTALLY deserves some beer.
Aug. 14th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
dude, your Teyla and Ronon are of the awesome!!
Aug. 13th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
Awwww.... yes, John would be lost without Rodney for any length of time....

Aug. 14th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Aug. 14th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
This is lovely, particularly the little character details: Ronon has a job, Teyla needs a beer, and Rodney comes back early because John asked him to. <3
Aug. 14th, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
<3! Thank you my dear! I'm so glad those rang true for you.
Aug. 14th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, John, who would rather ride a nuke into a Hive ship than talk about feelings. I loved this.
Aug. 16th, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I love that this got an "oh, John" out of you.
Aug. 14th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh lovely! I think that my favourite bit -- apart from the reunion and John forgetfully making his coffee as Rodney likes it and the kisses and Atlantis sparkling and John showering not-tomato pasta sauce out the the Awesome he calls hair -- was Ronon's "I have a job." That? Awed me.

Edited at 2011-08-14 03:39 pm (UTC)
Aug. 16th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
Hahaha! Yay! Seriously, Ronon has work. What does Sheppard DO all day?
Aug. 14th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Aw, the two of them make me so happy. :)
Aug. 16th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
<3! Me too!!
Aug. 14th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
Awww, so sweet. :-D
Aug. 16th, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Aug. 15th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Oh my god, AWWWWW. John trying to write a heartfelt--or even casually affectionate--letter is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. ♥
Aug. 16th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
Hahaha. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. I don't know why it didn't occur to me until I was in the middle of this story, but seriously. John. Not with the words.

But anyways, thank you!
Aug. 15th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)

Made of win! Loved John writing Rodney the equivalent of a repressed Flyboy's love letter. Rodney is such a genius. :)
Aug. 16th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
Hee, thank you!
Aug. 16th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)

Loved Ronon "I have a job" Dex! And Teyla trying to escape from her family. So cute!
Aug. 17th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
Yay, thank you!
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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