title: nature intended
word count: 835
summary: It bothered Rodney that it bothered John. Didn’t John know Rodney would love him no matter what?
If nature had intended our skeletons to be visible, it would have put them on the outside of our bodies. Elmer Rice
Rodney knew it bothered John. On some of the rare occasions that Rodney managed to sneak up on his husband, he’d catch John patting his rounded cheeks with a frown, or pinching the layer of fat at his stomach with a grimace. But Rodney liked the way John looked. He looked cuddly and soft and round, not fat at all, but a sort of comfortable fullness that made Rodney feel all warm and eager to touch. He liked John’s round cheeks, especially when taken in with his pointed ears.
It bothered Rodney that it bothered John. Didn’t John know Rodney would love him no matter what?
After so many years of marriage, Rodney knew better than to bring the subject up first. John would when he was ready, and if Rodney started asking questions or give reassurance, John would balk and they’d never talk about it.
So Rodney waited. He watched as John, who was now retired, struggled to find an exercise activity that didn’t hurt his knees, didn’t make his joints ache. He watched when John grew frustrated and snappy, did his best to show he loved John even now. And it helped, it did, Rodney’s reverent kisses and embraces always made John relax and smile, but the effects never lasted long. He’d be back to frowning in the mirror within hours.
It drove Rodney nuts, and he didn’t have much in the way of self-control to begin with. If John didn’t speak up soon, Rodney would.
Just as he was about to make that first tentative foray into a conversation of an emotional nature, John finally, finally confessed after dinner, while they were sitting close on the couch (not snuggling, they didn’t snuggle), “I noticed that lately I’ve been kind of...I mean, I feel like I’m - uh. Well. I’m gaining weight, you know?”
Rodney fought not to smile, not to shout with triumph. It was about time, really, how can Rodney help John feel better if John won’t cooperate?
“I don’t, I don’t like it.” John swallowed.
“I know,” Rodney said again. John seemed surprised, and his expression made Rodney feel so affectionate, he had to reach over and press a kiss to John’s pointy ear. He slid one hand over John’s belly, cupping the slightly rounded belly. “You idiot, I’ve seen you. I don’t see what the problem is.”
John swallowed again. “You don’t think I...I mean, it doesn’t...you’re fine with it?”
Rodney frowned. “Yeah...” Where was this going?
“Oh,” John said. He paused, seemed to think something over, and said again, “Oh.” John fell silent again, fidgeting with the blanket they kept on the couch for cold nights. Rodney waited, somewhat impatiently, for John to work up the courage to say what he wanted to say. In the meantime, Rodney grabbed John’s sleeve, gently pulling him closer until his shoulder was pressed against Rodney’s chest. He slid his one arm around John’s back, holding him against Rodney’s chest, and continued to rest the other on John’s stomach. Rodney bent his head and pressed his face against John’s soft, spiky hair and hummed with contentment. He loved the way John smelled.
“So you aren’t...you still like the way I look?” John asked, and now he was staring at his hands intently, like he had to watch them to make sure they didn’t do something they weren’t supposed to. It took a moment for Rodney to catch on, to stop watching John stare at his hands. John was worried that his weight gain might mean Rodney wasn’t attracted to him anymore. He seriously thought...
Rodney slid the hand from John’s stomach to his hip, tightened his hold on John’s back, and hauled the other man into his lap.
“John Sheppard,” Rodney said sternly, while John blinked up at him in surprise. “You are an idiot. This is stupidity worthy of Kavanaugh. Of course I still...you know, love you, even with -” Rodney waved his hand around, the less said about John’s weight gain, the better. “You make me crazy, the same as you always have, with your ridiculous hair and horrible laugh and awful, terrible jokes.”
John was smiling now, pink and pleased, a thumb brushing Rodney’s cheeks as he explained why John was so very, very wrong. Rodney didn’t stop ranting until John wiggled against Rodney, pushing his stomach out and pressing it against Rodney, a sly grin curving his full lips. Rodney’s mouth opened and closed a few times, train of thought gone, carefully chosen words evaporated like smoke. Rodney decided, as John pulled back enough to remove his shirt, that words were overrated and actions spoke louder anyway, and proceeded to show John just how much Rodney was still attracted to him.