She's gone for the day. The smell of her shampoo is still in the pillow case. Rodney lies there, awake, unmoving. He doesn't want to leave this moment, ephemeral as it is. But he knows John's coming, It's nearly 0900. He always comes at 0900. Breakfast, then the walk to the labs, then Lt. Col. John Sheppard gives a small smile and leaves Dr. Rodney McKay to his work.
If there's a brush of knuckles on the way, if glances are passed back and forth, if smiles turn up the corner of Lt. Col. Sheppard's mouth, well, neither of them will mention it. Then they will have lunch, linger over silences while they chew, laugh at each others' stories of subordinate ineptitude, share a long look or two and several smiles that are just for each other – no one else. Each incident will slide into the next, unremarked, undiscussed, unacknowledged. Because at the end of the day, Lt. Col. John Sheppard is in the United States Air Force and Jennifer waits for Rodney. Usually with a soft smile, a large mug of coffee, and arms that are comfortable when they curve around Rodney's shoulders.
Then military regulations change. Fraternization rules are relaxed, the U.S. Military policy so ineptly named "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed.
Lt. Col. John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay, one day, will linger over breakfast. The soft smiles gone. They will not touch at all as they make their way to Rodney's lab. They will not even look at each other. But Dr. McKay will find an excuse to go into his rarely occupied office and Lt. Col. Sheppard will follow him.
The door will lock.
Rodney will lean against his desk, and begin to say, "What do we do now?"
But John will shake his head. He will step forward, slide his hand along Rodney's jaw, wait for Rodney to close his eyes, as though struck with a searing ache, then he will lean in and do the thing that he's wanted to do since he sat down in an alien chair and heard the words, "Major. Tell me where we are in the solar system."
It's no sacrifice he will make to do so. Rodney's lips will be firm and mobile beneath his. Rodney will taste of coffee and not-bacon and blueberry muffins. It will be the culmination of years of wanting, of sublimating, of denying. And it will go on for what seems like ever.
Then Rodney will pull away, smile, and say, "I thought that was what you might say."
And Rodney's pillow will lose the scent of citrus and sunshine, replaced with gun oil and sandalwood. There will be boxers instead of tiny cotton panties left in his laundry, and there will be books of Russian literature instead of medical journals on his nightstand.
And there will be dogtags next to his skin when he sleeps.
Summary: Because Lt. Col. John Sheppard is in the United States Air Force and Jennifer waits for Rodney.