Rodney didn't have birthdays. Not since he was seven and his mom had blown up the kitchen trying to bake him a cake while drunk. That was okay by him, he had better things to do than eat too much cake and listen to his parents sing out of key. Rodney didn't have birthdays and he never really missed them.
John always had a birthday. Every year his mom made him chocolate fudge cake and his Dad took him flying and his little sister made him handmade cards with dogs and kites and sometimes with planes. It was great and John loved it, the attention, the presents, the cake and candy. John always had a birthday and when they stopped he missed them.
The first year in Atlantis, John was too busy trying not to die and keep everyone else alive, to notice it was his birthday until three days too late. Elizabeth gave him a card, which was really just paper with a 'happy birthday' note written on it, but it was a nice thought.
The first year in Atlantis, Rodney was too busy trying not to die and to keep the city running, to notice it was his birthday, he didn't notice in fact, until almost a week later when John said a belated happy birthday and gave him a manly slap on the back.
The second year on Atlantis when nothing was really less manic, but there were at least more people to share the burden, Elizabeth remembered John's birthday a week before and organised a small gathering, just his team, herself, Radek and Carson. Evan somehow managed to wrangle an invite too, but John didn't ask and Evan didn't tell.
Rodney's birthday came upon them much more suddenly. In the midst of a week long stay in the infirmary, his team and close friends, came with cake. Rodney cursed at Carson, telling him the lights were too bright and hurting his eyes... he of course, wasn't crying.
By the third year, when the craziness Atlantis threw there way, was so *normal* that even the fact John had almost died the day before, didn't stop the birthday celebrations, which tripled in size and reminded John of the joys of birthdays, he hadn't had since he got the black mark in Afghanistan.
Rodney's birthday was forgotten that year, lost in the shadow of loosing Carson and Rodney didn't care, because his best friend was gone and it suited him just fine to be bitter and alone.
At the start of the forth year, after they'd almost died *again*, John and Rodney made a pact of sorts, or at least, a tentative agreement and that year, John's birthday was spent, just the two of them and a puddle jumper.
When Rodney's rolled around, they took off for a deserted section of the city, unseen for several days. If anyone thought it odd, they didn't say it and that suited them both fine.
Their fifth year on Atlantis, when they were considered old hands and the newbies looked at them with something akin to awe; John took Rodney up on to one of the balconies on the East Pier for his birthday. The sun was setting and the sky ablaze with a multitude of colours, John softly caressed Rodney's check, before pulling him close and kissing him. It was sweet and tender, passionate and hot. When Rodney whispered softly against his skin 'I love you John,' it made all his past birthdays pale by comparison.
On Rodney's birthday, Rodney was again in the infirmary. John sleeping, his head nestled against Rodney's side, Rodney's hand clasped lightly in his own. Rodney stirred, whimpering in pain, soothed when John kissed his fingers gently, smiling at him with tears in his eyes and 'I love you,' on his lips.
The last birthday they spent *on* Atlantis, was John's. The Wraith came and the battle raged, until finally, unbelievably it was over and over twenty wraith hive ships floated in pieces around their city. John lost an eye and even he knew, that was the end of that. He couldn't be the military head of Atlantis with one eye... Rodney blustered and panicked, packing their belongings and making sure Radek knew everything Rodney thought he should know... the sixty data disks he left might have been a bit much, but Radek shook his head with affectionate amusement and accepted them with good grace.
They left, officially speaking, the day before Rodney's birthday, but as always the Daedelus was late leaving and it was after midnight Atlantis standard time, making it officially Rodney's forty third year. As Daedelus took off, the engines roaring, the slight shake of a ship that had seen too many battles, John curled warm against Rodney's back. 'Marry Me?'
That first year back on Earth, John got his degree and found himself with a job offer at the SGC, which he turned down, to teach mathematics to high school students Rodney swore didn't appreciate it. On his birthday, Rodney presented him with a golden apple.
When Rodney's birthday came around, John gave it back. 'See, I told you teaching was fun,' Rodney felt that was a matter of opinion, but he still gave up an hour after lunch to tutor the one student he told John, 'might possibly, maybe have a brain.'
Rodney had a birthday every year. With presents and cards, cake and ice cream. With a partner who woke him with kisses. With a partner who put him to sleep with hours of gentle loving.
John had a birthday every year. With presents and cards, cake and ice cream. With a partner who woke him and kicked him out of bed to make coffee and then thanked him with very enthusiastic kisses. With a partner who put him to sleep with passion and laughter.
John and Rodney had a lot more birthdays, more cake and ice cream, more laughter and some tears, long loving nights and fights filled with just as much heat. Every birthday not only another year past, but another reminder of all that had gone before and another promise to keep going. And they did.