RSS

Summary: Sequel to 'Upsides'
Sheppard/Parrish, Jack/Daniel, Rodney/Lorne

Updated: 24 Sep 2011; Published: 31 Aug 2011

Printer
- Text Size +

Story Notes:
This hasn't been beta'd but I have looked it over. Apologies for plot holes and/or being really angsty.
Don't own anything you see in here


John thought there were some upsides to being on leave.
Like peace and quiet... And David.

And good beer whenever he wanted... And David.

And unlimited sex... And David.

And no politics except what David was watching on the morning news... And David.

There were some downsides, too.

Like no awesome explosions and adrenaline rushes.

And no Zelenka's still which now came in five (count 'em five) different flavours.

And no politics.

And no say in the welfare of his City.

But at least he was mildly happy and there hadn't been any mysterious explosions in San Francisco Harbour as far as he could tell. But still... he didn't like being away.
John got up every morning at ten, rather than his usual five, and made himself a cup of tea (because David said it was better than coffee) and then he sat in his favourite leather chair and caught up on the news headlines on his laptop whilst watching one of the shows on plants he'd TiVo'd. He didn't really listen much to them, and usually got about halfway through before he flicked to the Simpsons and zoned out.

David would turn up at about one and they'd make out and then have a late lunch, go for a long walk through the trees around the house, and then have dinner and go to bed. Today was no exception and John was chipper as ever as they trotted along the little path.

"Hey," David began, "I've been thinking-"

"I'd be worried if you hadn't been," John quipped automatically.

"John," David said sternly, and now John was insanely worried because David looked suddenly like he was in pain. Why hadn't John noticed that earlier? "I was thinking... about what happened with you and Mitchell." Ever since that day John had only ever referred to Cam as 'Mitchell', and David had taken it up. Not the friendliness of 'Cam' or the respect of 'Colonel', just Mitchell. General and emotionless.

"You want to break up with me." The words tumbled out before John could think and the sad, humouring look on David's face made John want to crawl into a hole and die. "Sorry. You probably wanted to do it more gently, huh?"
David laughed. "You're so paranoid, baby. I'm not breaking up with you." John was so relieved he side-tackled the poor, unsuspecting botanist and squeezed him tight.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you." John was so unbelievably happy he forgot about David wanting to say something (and his need to breathe) for a minute. "Now," John tugged at the hem of his shirt because it had ridden up while he molested his boyfriend. "What was it you were saying?"

"Mitchell didn't want a commitment." John nodded as the tone of the conversation turned more serious again. "But you did." John nodded again, this time as a gesture for David to get to the point. "And so maybe, I was wondering if you might like to... I dunno... Marry me?" From the way David had said it John honestly expected that sentence to end with 'hang out sometime' but the latter was much better.

"It's only been eight months, David," was what came out of John's mouth, though he had intended to say 'fuck yes'.

"Okay," David nodded, a sad smile crossing his beautiful features that killed John a little bit inside. Why had he said that? "It's alright, I understand. I shouldn't have asked." David took off down the path, the tips of his ears going red.

Damnit. "David." John jogged the short distance until he was at his boyfriend's side. David turned, and John saw tears in those beautiful eyes. "I didn't say 'no'." John's voice cracked and he cursed silently. "I just... You're sure? Because I'm not... I'm not that great, David." John let out a shaky breath and looked at his feet, confident he was about to lose the botanist forever.

"Hey, look at me." John shook his head and kept his eyes firmly on his shoelaces. "John." David's voice held that tone it did when John slept in David's office or his lab and waited for the other man to arrive. That sweet, caring, pissed off and amused drawl that John wanted to hear forever. This might be the last time, he thought, and that thought alone sent tears tracking down his cheeks that he couldn't even be bothered to wipe away. There was a groan and then John had no choice but to look at the botanist because he was on his knees at John's feet... Wait. David was on his knees?

"David, what're you-"

"John Sheppard." John was vaguely aware that that was the first time he had heard the other man use his full name, but he saved that little bubble of happiness for later because David had just pulled out a ring. A very beautiful ring, embossed with rhinestones of different colours around the circumference. "Will you marry me?"

Secretly, John had always fantasised about being asked traditionally, with the man he loved on one knee, an arm outstretched with something symbolic and gorgeous pinched lightly between forefinger and thumb. Exactly how David was now. John had always assumed he'd say yes, pull his partner you and kiss the life out of him. Only that would have been way too much of a cliché. So instead, John dropped to his knees and cried into David's chest until he was pretty sure the seventy percent of his body that was water was entirely gone. Then he stood the both of them up and pulled David back toward the house, remembering his soon-to-be-husband grumbling about an all-nighter and knowing he always waited to eat lunch with John. John set about making lunch for the both of them while David stared at him, features blank. John passed it off as the man being emotionally and physically drained and didn't press it.

Halfway through his lunch, David stood abruptly and excused himself. When he didn't come back in fifteen minutes, John went looking for him. He found the other man curled up on the back porch, crying and whimpering softly.
"David?" John asked quietly, crouching beside the other man and going into 'protective' mode, something he was grateful he didn't have to do very often around David. "Hey, it's alright. Whatever it is-"
"No!" David sobbed loudly, "It's not!" David looked John in the eye and John's stomach twisted painfully. "After all that!" David almost yelled. And David never yelled. "After all that 'I didn't say no' crap, you can't say yes! Can you?" David's eyes were accusing, his body wracked with sobs.

And all John could do was laugh. Laugh at the absurdity of the whole damn situation. "God!" John chortled, clutching his stomach and watching David's face tighten and contort into anger. "You are going to be such a good husband."

"I- What?"

"That means 'yes', David. I thought that was the logical inference from 'I didn't say no'." John rolled his eyes as David continued to look flabbergasted. "Jeez. Have you never watched a chick-flick before?" David shook his head dumbly and John laughed again. He hopped to his feet and held his hands out to the younger botanist. "C'mon. Sleep now, Doc -- you need it."

David shook his head, folded his arms and remained exactly where he was. "No."

"David," John sighed and ran a hand through his unruly hair.

David pulled out the ring. Oh shit. John had totally forgotten about that. David held it up. "Put it on," he ordered, eyes cold, almost as though he thought John wouldn't.

"You," John replied defiantly, holding his hand out. David's hands shook as he put on the ring. It was a little girlish, John supposed, but it was pretty. And hot.

"I really love you, John."

"I really love you, too, David."

****
****

Evan and Rodney were getting married. Rodney was freaking out and Evan was laughing it up (even though he was planning everything). John and David had agreed not to spoil their buzz, so John had his engagement ring around his neck, hidden from all but Daniel, whom he was shopping with.

As it turned out, Daniel didn't much like Mitchell (since he'd ripped Vala out from underneath him -- literally) and John and Daniel were now the best of friends. Sure, they argued like there was no tomorrow and often ended up yelling and screaming at each other in the SGC corridors, but that was no matter. In fact, it was kind of fun.
"So what are we looking for?" Daniel asked, not looking entirely bothered, but more bored, as they strolled through the shopping centre.

"Something that at least measures up to this." John pulled the ring and chain out of his shirt and showed it to the archaeologist.

"Wow. Looks expensive. David give it to you?"

"Yeah." John grinned at the memory and the way David asked him again every morning -- just to be sure. "Asked me to marry him."

Daniel grinned back. "That's great! ... Hiding it 'til Lorne and Rodney tie the knot?" John nodded. "How about in there?" Daniel took a hand out of his pocket just long enough to point at a jeweller's. Or at least John assumed it was a jeweller's. When they walked in they were hit full in the face with incense and candle smoke and there were beads and scarves everywhere. "This is nice, huh?" Daniel looked serious.

"I guess," John shrugged and made his way toward a glass case beside the counter, well in the thick of the overwhelming scents. He knew which one he wanted immediately. It was silver with an obsidian rose vine twisted around it.

Daniel poked his head over John's shoulder and rested his chin. "The pretty obsidian one?" he guessed immediately.

"Yup. That's it."

"Big price tag."

John looked at it. It was only a few thousand dollars. He could afford it easily. "Not really." John had seen plenty bigger prices on things. Daniel's 'hm' spoke volumes. John called over the beaded necklace-clad woman behind the counter and pointed at the ring.

"For your partner?" the woman guessed, her sugar and spice perfume compelling him to answer.

"Yep."

"You're a lucky man," the woman told Daniel, who just sighed and left John to explain.

"Oh, not him." John tried not to slap Daniel and dragging him away from the relic on a nearby shelf. "Noooo. But I guess he does deserve something for putting up with my crap. Add that to the list." John pointed to the sculpture Daniel was admiring.

"Oh, no, John, I-"

"I'm in a good mood." John grinned and nodded for the woman to pick it up and wrap it along with the ring. "Doesn't happen much; take advantage of it."

Daniel sighed, something he did often, and didn't offer up any further objections.

"Do you want this in a box?" she held up the ring.

"Um, yeah." John swiped his credit card, surprised a place this small took them, and offered up what Rodney liked to call his 'flirt reflex' smile. "Thanks." He grabbed up the gifts and was glad to get fresh, air conditioned air into his lungs. "You wanna grab wedding presents for Rodney and Evan while we're at it?" Daniel shrugged. "Right then, my shout."

While Daniel debated over cookware and something artistic for Lorne's benefit, John debated over how he should propose to David. There was no question he was going to ask again, and then probably everyday until somebody made it official, so... how? As if on queue, John's phone buzzed and a text message from David appeared.

Spontaneity - new favourite word.

Spontaneity it is.

"Look," John found himself sighing an hour later. "How about I get the cookware, and you get the statue?"

Daniel nodded and pushed his glasses up. "You don't mind?"

"No, I don't mind." John's reply was exasperated at best.

"Okay."

****
****

"I can't do this, Sheppard," McKay said quietly.

After Lorne's team had realised how totally awesome David was, the Major had been quick to scoop up the botanist as his best man. So John was coaching Rodney and David was straightening Evan's tux. John hadn't seen his fiancé for more than five minutes in two days. He still hadn't proposed, having put it off for almost a month now, and was starting to feel immeasurably guilty.

"Sure you can," John smiled his most reassuring smile. "Evan loves you and you love Evan. I don't see the problem here."

"I fuck up everything I touch." Rodney straightened his tie in the mirror and John put his hands on the physicist's shoulders, meeting his eyes in the reflective shimmer. "I'm going to hurt him."

"No. You're not." John could imagine Rodney hurting just about anyone. But not Lorne. Evan was too strong for that and Rodney was too smitten. John squeezed his friend's shoulders lightly and smiled.

"I won't let you, Evan won't let you, Teyla, Ronon, Stackhouse, Markham and David won't let you. You know that. And if you didn't; you do now." John's little pep talk didn't seem to be having an effect. "Do you love him, Rodney?"

"Course I do." Rodney's reflection looked sure of that.

"And does he love you?"

"I don't know." Rodney was being deliberately unhelpful.

"Okay. I'll answer that for you. Yes. And do you want to spend the rest of your life with him?"

"Hell, yes."

"Then that's that and you're going to walk down that aisle and kissing the life out of that man," John made it an order. "Because I am not letting your paranoia mess this up for Evan. He's my XO and he's going to be happy."

The ceremony was a quiet affair, mostly consisting of Rodney sweating like a pig and Evan grinning like an idiot. David shot a glance at John from the technical bridesmaid side of the aisle. He was also grinning like an idiot. John wasn't sure if he was or not, but thought he might've been because when Rodney looked at him the expression passed on and Rodney's smile was radiant.

"I do." Evan said quietly, placing the gold band on Rodney's finger.

"What? Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes." Rodney mumbled like a man who was head over heels in love.

The distinct sound of somebody face-palming could be heard from the crowd.

"You're supposed to say," John whispered in his befuddled friend's ear, "'I do'."

"Oh. Right. Yeah. What he said."

"Mer-e-dith." This time it was Jeannie who coached the physicist.

"Oh, shut up. I'm nervous, alright?" Rodney raised his arms from his side and made a scene. "Why is everybody looking at me?"

"Hah!" Evan collapsed, clutching his stomach and laughing like a maniac. John bit his lip so hard it bled to keep himself from following with a fit of his own.

"What? Oh." Rodney made an incoherent noise and snapped at poor Mr Woolsey who was supposed to be pronouncing them man and husband. "Ohmygod. I do. Will you say I can kiss him already?"

Woolsey sighed dramatically and rushed out at a hundred miles an hour. "And so before God -- or Gods or who or whatever it is that you believe in -- I hereby pronounce you husband and husband you may now kiss the Major."
There were a few laughs, a lot of 'aww's' and a whole lot more kissing than John felt appropriate for a ceremony held in a military rec room. But he had said 'kiss the life out of that man'.

"Wow," David mouthed, staring at the public display of affection.

"Yeah," John murmured when he'd skirted around the still lip-locked lovers and sidled up beside the other man. "You reckon we'll be like that?"

David shook his head definitely. "Not in front of our peers."

John laughed and kissed David on the cheek. "Okay."

****
****

The reception was quiet, and John spent most of it idly chatting with Daniel, Evan and David. Rodney's time was taken up mostly by Sam and Radek, which amused John greatly because it caused Rodney so much pain. Finally, when John thought the poor Canadian couldn't take anymore, he pulled Rodney away and took Evan with him, locking them in one of the SGC guests' quarters for the night.

"We'll deal with the guests. Have some fun."

"How did we end up cleaning all this up?" David asked, pile of plates and napkins in both hands and gesturing around at the mess in the mess.

"Don't worry, we'll make them return the favour at our wedding," John bent down to scrape some wedding cake of the floor.

"You're getting married?" John sat up suddenly at the familiar voice and smacked his head on the underside of the table he'd crawled under. "You right, John?"

"That's Colonel Sheppard to you," John stood and said somewhat smugly. "Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell."

"You have a party?" Mitchell looked around at the food and drink strewn everywhere.

"Doctor McKay and Major Lorne got married," David explained coldly, continuing his clean-up but keeping one eye on the Kansan Colonel.

"Oh. And I didn't get invited?" Mitchell's gaze was cold and starting to put John on edge. Like he might explode and kill everyone if he was so much as poked.

"Thought marriage wasn't your thing," Daniel quipped from where he was cleaning off plates into a bin.

"Doesn't mean I can't enjoy some good grog 'n' grub." John snorted and that was the poke.

"You got a problem, Colonel?!" Mitchell advanced on John and shoved him backward. John did his best not to trip over a chair and barely succeeded.

"You know what's funny?" John's laugh was on the verge of hysteria. "I really don't. But you do." John smirked because Mitchell regretted the day he ever broke up with John and it was comforting.
"Oh you think so, huh?" Mitchell raised his fist but David got in the way at the last second.
Mitchell's fist collided with David's face and John threw a punch back, seeing Daniel automatically diving to check on John's boyfriend. Mitchell hit back, and hard, but John knew his opponent well enough to deflect every move without throwing another fist himself. John flipped Mitchell onto a table and pinned him there as a few Marines, including Stackhouse and Markham, ran in, guns blazing.

"It's cool," John assured them, "I got him." John passed off a slightly subdued but still pissed off beyond belief Mitchell.

Who of course escaped and got a well placed elbow into John's temple. "You're such a slut," Mitchell managed to whisper before oblivion hit John almost as hard as Mitchell had.

****
****

"Colonel? Colonel that you?" Stackhouse asked nervously.

"Yeah, Sergeant, it's me."

"God, Sir. I am so sorry." John groaned and swatted at his face.

"Ouch," Markham answered. Oops.

"We didn't... I mean if we'd have known..."

"Yeah, yeah," John grumbled. "S'not your fault."

"But we," Markham stuttered, "We did that to you. And you just act like everything's normal."

John sighed. "It is normal. You didn't- Where's David?"

"Knocked out," Ronon grunted.

"Oh. Hey Big Guy." John still couldn't open his eyes. He was now aware that the whole right hand side of his face hurt. "Fucking Mitchell."

"I hate him," Daniel muttered. "Least Rodney and Lorne got away before he turned up."

John nodded. "Stackhouse, Markham."

"Yes, Sir. We'll go, Sir."
"Ugh." Fucking thick headed Marines. "Clean-up finished?"
"Not yet, Sir."

"Alright." John sighed and fought the reflex to run a hand through his hair because his damn arms felt too heavy. "Go sort that out."

"Sir, yes, Sir."

John waited until they were gone to attempt to open his eyes. "Why do I feel so crap?"

Somebody snorted to his left.

"Who was that?" he demanded angrily.

"Oh, I don't know," David said, shit-eating grin he must've learnt from Lorne evident in his voice. "Maybe 'cos you got the living shit beaten out of you?"

"Fuck you, Doc."

"Don't call me Doc."

"Hey!" John played the 'hurt puppy' card. "I go out and torture Daniel with all my 'shopping-ness' and buy you a beautiful ring that's just as totally awesome as the one you gave me, and all you do is bitch, bitch, bitch."

"Oh, ha h- You did what?" John loved that little 'you still scare the shit out of me sometimes' cute look.

"Oh, as if I wouldn't. Daniel, could you get my jacket please?"

"Mm-hm."

"And help me up."

"Uh-huh."

John managed to stand with Daniel's help and made his way over to David's bed. Only to drop to one knee and open the little velvet box he pulled from his jacket. "David Parrish. Will you marry me?"

David swung his legs over the edge of the bed, amused but not impressed. "Spontaneity?" He crossed his arms and John frowned.

"Nothin' more spontaneous than a punch up." He flashed a smile and tried to coax the proper response out of his partner.

David heaved a dramatic sigh and held out his hand. "Oh, alright."

****
****
"Danny!" Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill called in the halls of the SGC. John had never heard anyone call Daniel 'Danny' before. "Oh, Daa-ny boy!"
"General O'Neill, Sir." John asked, slinking up from his place against the wall. "Can I help you with something?"

"Lookin' for Danny," he said distractedly, looking around.

"He's off-world working with the Jaffa Counsel, Sir. They think they've found some Ancient technology." John personally thought it was a load of bull, but he wasn't about to tell the General that.

"Probably crap," O'Neill muttered, looked at John when he appeared to be struck with an idea. "Colonel. How would you like to join me for a beer?"

John shrugged. Technically he was still on leave, but hadn't actually left the base since the wedding, scared that they wouldn't let him back in. "Alright, Sir."

"That scientist guy..." O'Neill appeared to be having trouble remembering something. "With the X or the Z or whatever... He still got that still? That stuff was good."

John smiled. "That would be Radek Zelenka, Sir. And yes, he does."

O'Neill held his liquor well, John found out rather quickly, and he didn't like to talk very much.

John groaned after about an hour of silence and spoke up. "So why were you looking for Daniel, Sir?"

O'Neill shrugged. "Missed the sex."

John choked on his alcohol. "What?" One of my best friends is gay and he didn't tell me?

"Despite the fact he slept with Colonel Mitchell last year."

John nearly choked to death again. "Sir," John said shakily, "I was in a committed relationship with Colonel Mitchell last year. Twelve months ago I found out he had cheated on me. I'm sorry, Sir. I didn't realise he'd done it before." John swallowed the last of his glass and poured himself another. He was going to get hammered with a General tonight.

"What are you sorry for?" John shrugged and swallowed another mouthful of Zelenka's slush. "You think you weren't good enough for him so he cheated on you? 'Cos that's bull. You know it, and I know it."

John did know it. He just felt bad. "Right, Sir. So you forgave him?"

"Couldn't help myself. You gonna forgive Mitchell?"

John was starting to get the feeling O'Neill was really very smart. "No. I'm engaged to David Parrish." John grinned proudly.

"That annoying botanist who can't shut up?"

"That annoying archaeologist who can't shut up?"

"Touché."

"Thank you, Sir."

****
****

"Da-vid," John sang like General O'Neill had, pretty much kicking the door down as he stumbled in. "Oh, Da-vid!"

"J-John?" David sat up slowly on the couch, wiping sleep from his eyes. "It's four in the morning. I was worried. Where have you been?"

John chuckled and made his way to the kitchen for a glass of water. He'd had way too much to drink. "Slowly. One thing at a time."

"Okay." David looked positively pissed. "Where were you?"
"Drinking at Zelenka's still with General O'Neill," John answered simply.

"Why?"

"Daniel was off-world and he was lonely."

"You missed dinner."

John finished off his water and put the glass upside down on the sink. "We were having dinner?"

"I dunno... It's our twelve month anniversary." Shit.

"Oh, shit, David, I-"

"No, it's alright." David certainly didn't look alright. "I'm going to bed. Have a shower and come join me when you're ready."

John groaned. He'd fucked up big time now. "David."

"Goodnight, John!" David called, and John could hear his footfalls on the stairs.

"Goodnight," John whispered.

He slept on the couch.

****
****

David was still shitty the next morning.

"Eggs, John?" he asked curtly.

It was five. The ten o'clock sleep-in thing had grown old fast and John had a hangover. This was going to be a bad day. "Sure, baby."

"Coffee."

John sipped blindly at the mug before him, eyes partially closed to keep out the kitchen light. "Can you pass me the Aspirin?"
"Here." David passed him the little pill bottle and remained deathly silent, not an 'are you okay' or even a snarky comment. In hindsight John probably should have seen that as a sign.
Instead, what he said was, "You seem quiet."
David laughed softly, hollowly. "Yeah, you seemed quiet too last night. Oh, wait. You didn't come to bed."
John groaned and finished his coffee, doubting the painkillers would set in before this argument got into full swing. "I thought you didn't want me to."

David got up and started doing the dishes. John always did the dishes. "Just because," David began with his back to John and the kitchen table, "I'm not happy with you doesn't mean I don't expect you to come to bed. It was actually an invitation to talk things out."

"Pillow talk?" John heaved himself up and wrapped his arms around his fiancé, kissing his neck. "Oh, honey."

David wormed away and stood back at the table, hands dripping soap on the tabletop. "Don't 'oh, honey' me. That might've worked a few months ago, but not now. I thought... I thought you..."

"What?" John asked softly. "Thought I'd gone off-world without telling you? Thought I'd volunteered for some crazy suicide mission and not told you? Because I promise, those days are over."

David shook his head. "I thought you were... gone."

"Gone?" John's brow furrowed. "What do you mean 'gone'?"

"Well... Mitchell called and-"

"Mitchell did what?!"

"And he said that you... and he... and. John, I know I shouldn't have believed him, but-"

"Wait." John held up his hands. "Stop. Are you telling me... that Mitchell told you we were back together and I was just going to walk away without saying anything to you?" David nodded numbly, crying. John softened his voice as much as he could. "And you believed him? Oh, honey."

David crossed his arms in an effort to look more manly and less like a worried, crying wife. He tapped his foot.

"Didn't I just tell you not to do that?" he asked curtly.
John ignored his little display of wannabe-alpha-male-ism and crossed his own arms. He didn't understand. Well, he understood Mitchell being insanely jealous and David being worried about losing John, but he didn't understand how David could have believed the crap Mitchell had spun. "Why did you believe him?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I've made it pretty damn clear how much I hate that man. How could you ever think I'd..." John trailed off, afraid of letting anymore tears fall for this man because he'd never cried so much as when he was around David. And it scared him.

"He's hot, he's smart, he's fun, he drinks, he tells jokes, he's doesn't talk about plants for hours on end. He's a soldier instead of a scientist. He's..."

John stepped forward and enveloped David in his arms before he could say another word, pressing the botanist's head over his heart. "He's not you. He's mean, he's arrogant, he's stupid, he's nowhere near as hot as you, he tells racist jokes, he doesn't talk about plants, he's a soldier and he's really just not you."

They were silent for a while until David looked up and laughed. "You know what I heard?"

"What?" John asked, eager for the mood to get a little lighter.

"I heard that Stackhouse and Markham got engaged."

John snorted. "Finally."

"You knew?"

"You didn't? First Rodney and now you. The sexual tension between those two Marines does my head in. How could you not notice?" Stackhouse and Markham were like an explosion testosterone and other assorted male-sexual hormones. How they had managed to keep it secret from so many people for so long was totally beyond him.

"I thought they were just friends!"

"Yup. Just like 'Danny' and General O'Neill are just friends." John rolled his eyes.

"Danny?" David asked incredulously.

"That's what General O'Neill calls Daniel. They're dating."

"Really? Daniel's gay?"

"Yup."

"Huh. Well... I'm glad your gaydar works, because I think mine is seriously broken."

"Hey, you knew I was gay."

"Only because of the way you were looking at Mitchell in the mess hall that day. Before then I thought you were totally straight."

That revelation had John stumped. Did he really look straight on the outside? He had always been paranoid that he was too obvious about his sexuality and was going to get called on it.

"John?"

"Hm?"

"You're crying."

John brushed his cheek with his fingertips. So he was. "Meh. I love you."

"I love you, too."

John sighed contentedly and wrapped his arms a little tighter around David's body, realising with glee that his hangover was gone and his love-life was put back together.
Maybe this wasn't going to be such a bad day after all.

****
****
When John snuck back into the SGC he was met head-on by Ronon, who appeared to have a lot of work to do. His arms were piled with loose sheets of paper and manila folders.
"Hey, Chewie. Whatcha doin'?" John asked casually, secretly very bored.

"Paperwork," he answered simply. "Only avoid it for so long."

"Need a hand?"

"Nah. Already asked Lorne."

John laughed silently at that. Lorne got all of John's paperwork and therefore it was assumed that he was very good at it. In truth, John was actually better at it than Lorne was... He was just extremely lazy. "Well, you could always use another hand," John said, effectively inviting himself.

Lorne had no idea what he was doing, even after five years of doing all of John's work, he ended up passing everything he attempted off to John. John, after about two hours, threw the man a crossword and told him more or less to fuck off and sit in the corner with his game. That didn't work very well, since the Major didn't know any of the answers to John's puzzle and had to ask every five seconds.

"Hey, what does VIP stand for?"

John groaned and put down Ronon's first ever mission report. "Seriously, Lorne?"

Lorne grinned. "No, Sir. It's Very Important Peoples, Sir."

"Person," Ronon grunted in correction.

"See, even the Wookie knows more about the English language than you do," John chided, smiling.

"Oh, well that's only because Evan's vocabulary seems to only include 'gun', 'sex', 'food' and 'beer'," Rodney snarked, entering the room and finding a comfortable spot on the floor beside Lorne.

'Now, snookums," Lorne said softly, and John bit back his laughter, "You know you don't mean that."

"Of course not, honey-bear," Rodney replied, and John prayed he was playing along with some sort of joke.

"Baby-cakes."

"Sweetie-pie."

"Sheppard," Ronon grunted, interrupting the vomit-verbalisation. "Remember our agreement?"

"Fight to the death." John nodded, still stifling his laughter.

"Oh, c'mon. You don't know who we're imitating?" Rodney asked, he and Lorne joining in on the laughter.

"Stackhouse and Markham?" John guessed.

"Stackhouse and Markham are dating?" Lorne put in.

"Yes," McKay replied. "I told you. Ages ago."

"Yeah, but I didn't think you were right."

That was the wrong thing to say.

"Oh, so you believe him but not me?" Rodney pointed accusingly at John.

"Well, he's my CO."

"You know," John cut in before Rodney could go off his nut, "David says they're getting married."

"Oh, well that's nice," Lorne said.

"Yeah," Rodney agreed, anger (thankfully) forgotten.
Ronon just raised his eyebrows slightly at John over a sheet of paper. John knew what he was saying. John and David were still wearing their rings around their necks and hadn't told Rodney and Evan yet. Ronon was wondering if Stackhouse and Markham were going to get married before John and David were.

John shrugged, thinking that since neither John nor David had made any attempt to set a date or plan anything, that they would.

"Sounds like more good booze." Ronon settled on, and John was thankful.

"Mm-hm."

There was silence for a moment before Ronon changed the subject, for which John was grateful. "So who were you 'imitating'?"

"What?" Rodney asked, as the question had mostly been directed at him.

"Honey-bear," Ronon clarified.

"Oh. Right."

"O'Neill and Jackson," Evan got in before Rodney could.

"Seriously?" Ronon asked, looking surprised.

"Yep... Sheppard," Rodney said, prompting John to look up from what he was doing, "Why don't you look surprised?" Rodney had obviously hoped for a major reaction.

"Drinkin' at Radek's still with O'Neill last night." A ghost of a headache crept back in as John thought about what Daniel had done with Mitchell. He had hoped to talk with David about it, but now thought bringing up the 'Mitchell Subject' might not be a good idea for a while. His next choice would have been Teyla, but she had enough problems still not being allowed back to Pegasus. She'd missed a whole year of her son's life. "Anyone heard from Teyla?" The last time they had talked to her had been a couple of weeks ago when Vala (Teyla's new best friend) had insisted they get away and go shopping and watch sat movies and eat ice-cream for 'a while'.

Both Evan and Rodney shook their heads but Ronon remained quiet.

"Big Guy?" John picked up on it first.

"Came back a few days ago," he said quietly. "Been staying with me."

John nodded. "She okay?"

"Better. She's staying with me."

"Yeah, you just said-" Rodney began to correct the Satedan. John held his hand up and waved Rodney into silence.

"Okay," John said quietly, letting the matter rest.

"Sheppard?"

"Yes, Rodney?" John asked pleasantly, shooting him an 'if you say anything I will kill you' look that he usually reserved for the Wraith.

"Nothing." Rodney looked down at Evan's crossword and started giving his husband the answers.

****
****

"So you boys gonna tie the knot anytime soon?" John asked Stackhouse and Markham at lunch. He was worried about Teyla and Ronon and needed something to take his mind off it.

Markham grinned and Stackhouse answered. "Two months, Sir. We would have done it next month, but it would have coincided too closely with Doctor Jackson and General O'Neill's wedding -- we caught them sealing invitations last week."

John nodded and felt a little sad. Everyone was going to get married before David and John. "That's cool. O'Neill and Daniel seem happy."

"Yes, Sir," Markham nodded and nudged Stackhouse in the ribs.

"You do it," Stackhouse whispered.

"No. You do it." Stackhouse's whisper had nothing on Markham's. It was deadly, almost homicidal.
"O-kaay. Sir," Stackhouse coughed and John played the intimidation card, secretly smirking, "We were wondering if... Maybe you'd like to... Um... Well... You're our CO... And without you we'd probably be dead or we'd never have met and... We know you pulled strings to keep us on the same team when we got back to Earth and well, Sir... We just... Look, will you... marry us? Please?"

Whatever it was John had been expecting, it hadn't been that. "Okay," he shrugged and took a bite of his sandwich.

"Really?" The Marines were in disbelief.

"Yeah," John rolled his eyes. "You're my Marines. How could I not?"

"Oh. Thank you, Sir."

"No problem."

****
****

"John!"

John turned to see Daniel jogging toward him. John had noticed that he'd looked more haggard since he'd found out three weeks ago that the archaeologist was getting married. Today was especially bad, since it was two days out from the wedding and they had a practice dinner tomorrow.

"Yes, Daniel?" John asked, smiling in an attempt to calm the other man.

"I..." he panted. "I... I totally forgot and I... I just... Well... I..."

"Spit it out, Jackson."

"Be-my-best-man?"

John took a minute to un-jumble Daniel's statement and then grinned. "Okay. I'll get my suit cleaned."

"R-really? But Jack said you talked to him and he told you about... I just, there was no-one else and... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked," he rushed.

John rolled his eyes and held Daniel in place with two hands on his biceps. "Daniel," he said slowly, leaving no room for misinterpretation, "I forgive you. And I am your friend. So I'll do it. Okay?"

Daniel nodded. "Okay."

"Good. Now, breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out." Daniel did as John instructed. "Please don't tell me I'm going to have to feed you lines like I had to with McKay."

Daniel shook his head, "No. Jack maybe. But not me."
John nodded. "So who's gonna be his best man?"

"Teal'c."

John nodded and put an arm around Daniel's shoulder to guide him down the hall toward his office and help him with the last minute preparations.

****
****

John sighed and lay down on the couch. He was beat. Flowers and cake and rental cars and guests and caterers and John's head was going to explode. He would get his and David's suits cleaned tomorrow morning -- and probably Evan's and Rodney's and Ronon's and Teyla's dress and... "Oh, God."

"John?" David came out, hands caked in dirt and a streak of soil along the right side of his face. "Everything alright?"

"I hate weddings."

"John?"

"Ugh. Not our wedding. Daniel's wedding."

"Why does that affect you?" David wiped his hands with the cloth he held and sat on the coffee table opposite John.
"Daniel was stressed, so I-"

"Offered to organise everything, took on too much and will probably be cleaning up the mess at the reception again," David sighed and kissed John's hair. "You're too good. I love you."

"Love you, too. Oh, and I'm marrying Stackhouse and Markham next month."

"John!" David's 'do not sleep on the floor in my office' voice made an appearance.

"Well it's not like I have a galaxy full of Wraith to attend to anymore," John defended.

"Yeah," David said softly. "Do you miss it?"

John nodded. "All the time," he sighed. "But what we've got now... It's enough."

David kissed him again, this time brushing his lips over John's. "Marry me?"

"One day," John promised.

****
****

Daniel and Jack's wedding was in a small country church in Colorado Springs. The ceremony went without a hitch and Jack even had his own vows. They were beautiful, all about sacrifice and love and hurt and surviving against the odds. John and David had shared a look and decided that they'd write their own vows when they got married.

The reception was quiet and David spent most of the time getting a little tipsy and telling John exactly what flower arrangement they would have. John committed every one to memory and when David moved on to food and drink, John took out pen and paper (okay, so he might have confiscated them from Daniel's coat pocket when he was busy making out with Jack) and took notes.

It was going to be huge, according to a slurring David, and there was going to be chocolate cake and chocolate coated strawberries, and all manner of chocolate. John had a whole page dedicated to a mind map with the word 'chocolate' circled in the middle.

****
****

Stackhouse and Markham's wedding was much the same as Daniel and Jack's and Evan and Rodney's, only there were a lot more Marines who thought he was God and John had a copy of Woolsey's altered speech in front of him.
John drawled out about a third of the crap when suddenly Markham poked Stackhouse.

"Uh, can we skip to the good bit, Sir?" Stackhouse asked obediently.

John grinned. "Do you, Christopher Stackhouse, take the, Nickola Markham, do be your lawfully wedded husband?"

"I do."

"Do you, Nickola Markham, take the, Christopher Stackhouse, do be your lawfully wedded husband?"

"I do."

"Then by the power vested in me by the State of Nevada- I mean, um, Colorado." He cleared his throat. "I now pronounce you husband and husband, you may now kiss the Marine."

"Vegas?" David asked, first opportunity he got.

"What?" John blushed when David did that stern look of his. "I married my ex-wife in Vegas," he admitted.

"Nancy?"

"No. The other one," John snarked and took a drink. Tonight it was his turn to get drunk and pick out wedding decorations.

"Teyla!" John said brightly. As it turned out, John held his liquor better than David and David was now planning the rest of their wedding with Daniel, because John was 'the man in the relationship and therefore not allowed to help by law'. "How are you?"

"I am well. And you?" She appeared serene and calm but John knew better.

"Pretty good. David's drunk, Rodney's drunk, Lorne's drunk, Zelenka's keeping Stackhouse and Markham from dying of boredom and you and Ronon are keeping each other from going crazy. Everything's almost good. 'Cept, you know, not being home and missing our extended Pegasus family."

All the right buttons pushed and Teyla began to open up.

"Why will they not let us go back, John?" she asked. "It is our home."

"We'll get back, Teyla." John put his arm around her. "You'll see your family again, I promise."

"And when will that be?" To anyone else they would have looked as though they were having a perfectly normal, quiet conversation. But in truth, Teyla was growing angry and bitter. If she wasn't already.

"I don't know. But I'll push it, alright?"

"And how do you expect to do that?"

"I don't know."


John didn't get much sleep that night, and by the morning he had a plan.

"I'm going to Washington," he informed David over breakfast.

"You're what?" David dropped his spoon into his cereal and droplets of milk splashed over the table.

"Teyla is..." John shook his head, unable to think about it. "It's been a year, David. We have to get her back home. We have to get us back home. And I know people."

David's eyes lit up. "You think you can get us home?"

"I think I have enough bargaining chips to get the possibility back on the table, at least."

"Okay. How long will you be gone?"

John thought about it. Family friends and people he'd worked for during his time in Covert Operations. There were a lot of them. "A while."

"How long's a while?"

"I don't know." John saw the light in David's eyes that he'd put there only moments ago go out like a light at his words.

"Can I come?"

"So they can kidnap you and use you as their bargaining chip?" John shuddered to think. "No, honey. I'm sorry."

"Guess we'd better make the most of it then."

David's head rested over John's dogtags, leaving a mark on the side of his face, just like they always did, while John carded through the other man's hair.

"When do you think you'll leave?"

"Few hours." John had booked the flight the night before and was packed in less than an hour.

"Mm."

"What are you doing today?" John asked, attempting to coax a little more information from his husband-to-be.

"Was going to do some more wedding planning with Danny and Vala. But now I'm staying here with you." John pressed a kiss to his lover's head. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

"You know Evan and Rodney still don't know." John chuckled at the absurdity of that. Evan was David's best friend and Rodney was John's. And yet they were the only two people who didn't know.

"McKay's going to eat me," David groused, softly raking through John's chest hair.

"Nah. He'll be too full after he eats me," John assured the botanist.

"I dunno. McKay can eat a lot," David warned him.

"True. There was this one time in Pegasus when he ate a whole pig."

"There was not!" David protested indignantly.

"There so was! Even Ronon couldn't finish the damn thing!"
David punched him for his lies and John chuckled at the tiny man trying to hurt him. All was well in Colorado.
On to Washington.

****
****

"Colonel, please. Put the gun down."

"I don't think so, Senator. Now, give me what I want, and we won't have a problem."

Fucking home security systems. Harder to get past than a Wraith guard.

"Okay, okay. What is it that you want?"

"I want the Pegasus expedition back."

The Senator quirked an eyebrow. "Seriously? That's why you're trying to kill me?"

"That, and I'm having a bad day."

"Alright, alright."

Two down, four to go.

****
****

Rodney turned up with Ronon and Teyla two weeks after John arrived. Rodney had a much appreciated letter of encouragement from David and more of Radek's swill than John could have hoped for.

"So why are we spying on a US Politician in his bedroom?" Rodney asked.

"So we can blackmail him into voting for the Pegasus outpost to be re-established."

"I see."

"No you don't. You have no mind for politics whatsoever."

"True."

"Oh my God. I thought his file said he was married!"

"He is."

"Oh. OOHH! I see. Don't you think using someone's sexuality against them -- especially considering your sexual orientation -- is a little... dirty?"

"I think that if he's cheating -- whether it's with a male, a female, or a weird combination of both -- it's wrong and he deserves to be blackmailed. End of story."

"Fair enough. I'll get the camera."

"Cool."

Four down, two to go.

****
****

"Hey, baby," John said quietly, making the other man startle out of his seat and right into John's arms. Perfect.

"You're home!" David looked dishevelled, as though he hadn't slept in a while. His clothes were rumpled and now John was worried. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too." John invited the botanist for a kiss that tasted of stale coffee and two months apart. "I love you." John braced his hands on either side of David's face and pressed his entire body into the other man.

"I..." David couldn't finish his sentence because their lips were locked, and it wasn't like John didn't know so he didn't care.

"Ahem." Someone coughed behind them and John groaned when they were forced to separate. John looked around and was a little shocked to see former-Sergeant Marshall Bates standing in the doorway of David's lab. "Colonel Sheppard." Bates avoided eye contact with John at all costs.

"Bates." John replied coldly. "What can I do for you?"

"The IOA is here to brief you on your team's mission to the Pegasus Galaxy."

"My team's mission?" John's stomach flipped apprehensively.

"Yes. You, Doctors McKay and Zelenka, Teyla, Ronon and I are going to take the Providence to Pegasus and report back on the status of the Wraith war."

John heard David sit down and he wanted to say something comforting, but all that came out was, "Why are you coming?"

"Apparently," Bates said bitterly, "I approved of too many of the decisions you've made over the years."

"Right." John glanced back at David. "Give us a minute?"

"Of course, Sir." Bates' sad smile was genuine and John felt his dislike of the man dissipate and hoped Teyla wouldn't attempt to tear his head off.

John stuck his head out after him. "Bates," he barked.
"When are we leaving?"

"Four hours, Sir." What Bates didn't say his eyes made up for. The IOA wants us gone. And quick.

"Right." John turned and David stood to meet him in a tight embrace. "We're leaving in four hours," he whispered. "I need... I need you to look after yourself, okay?" John forced the botanist to look at him. "For me?"

David nodded. "Anything for you."

"Good." John kissed him frantically and left the man with his plants. As he walked with Bates a memory floated to him. It was something David had said to him one night, when John had waited up for him in his lab.
"What drew you to plants, David?" John had asked sleepily.
"When I was a kid," he'd begun quietly, so quietly John had strained to hear him, "I didn't... I mean I wasn't... I didn't have very many friends. But I had a lot of problems... And my mother's garden."

John wasn't sure whether to be depressed or comforted. David had his plants and they would keep him going, but was that a good thing? David was almost as good as McKay at working his fingers to the bone and isolating himself from the people who cared about him.

The briefing took two and a half hours, and then they were taken through the updates to the hyperdrive and then they had to gear up and check their supplies and equipment and then they had twenty minutes and John and Rodney rushed off to say goodbye to David and Evan.

"Sheppard to Parrish."

"John." There was a smile in David's voice and John couldn't help but grin to himself. "Meet me in my lab, please?"

"Yeah," John panted, already running toward the botany labs. "David?" John called, wheeling in and nearly running into... Woolsey? "Richard! Didn't expect to see you here."

Woolsey's smile was a little unnerving. "No, I suppose you didn't."

"John Sheppard." David held out his hands and John took them obediently. "You are... The. Most. Perfect man in the universe. And I am going to spend the rest of my life with you." David sniffed and his eyes were wet. "You know. I had this whole big speech planned. And now there's no time. So. I take thee, John Sheppard," David pulled a gold band from his pocket that would match John's engagement ring, "To have and to hold. In sickness and in health. 'Til death do us part."

John felt a ring slipped into his pocket and silently thanked Woolsey. "I take the, David Parrish. To have and to hold. In sickness and in health. 'Til death do us part." John grinned and slipped the ring on his finger. "You saved me David." John pressed a kiss to the other man's head.

"Come back."

"If it takes forever," John vowed.

"Then, by the powers vested in me-"

"Colonel Sheppard." Bates interrupted.

"Just a second."

Woolsey had to rush again. "And so, before God -- and whatever Ascended ghosts are hanging around in this city -- I now pronounce you husband and husband. You may now kiss the botanist."

John did, then offered Woolsey a hurried handshake and a thank you, then kissed David again and ran to meet his team in the 'gate room.

"Parrish to Sheppard."

"David."

"You said forever," David stated softly.

"I did," John agreed.

"I'd wait longer... For you."