Mar. 1st, 2008 10:10 am
Series: Parallels 'Verse
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Summary: How John and Rodney met, Pegasus-free version.
Author's Note: More Long Way Home follow-up fic! Because they're my favorite things to write! So, amnesiajane said she wanted to know how the John and Rodney that stayed on Earth, with adopted kids no less, happened. Possibly I took you too literally when you said you wanted to now how it happened. Because what we have here is the very beginning.
Rodney McKay meets John Sheppard when he's twenty-one. In the supermarket. Specifically, in the produce section of Big Malcolm's Grocery. Rodney is in a state of nearly complete panic, because Jeannie's flight is going to be arriving in under three hours and he's nowhere near ready for her visit, and he's frozen, staring at his arch nemesis, cradled as it is between the apples and the pears.
Jeannie loves oranges. Loves them. Rodney stares at them for another brief moment, contemplating the possible repercussions of grabbing them and hoping for the best, when he realizes that there's a man standing not two feet away, poking through the apples.
Rodney pulls one of the produce bags off its spool, shoves it in the man's direction, and blurts, "Can you bag me up three of these? I'm deathly allergic to them but my sister loves them and she's flying in from Maine to make sure I'm not completely ruining her chances at being the smartest one in the family and I promised her I'd have some at the house without considering the logistics of how I was supposed to actually procure them."
The guy looks at him, blinks, and then grins. He's got a nice grin. Very white. Tanned skin and short, dark hair, shaved up into a high and tight. The guy takes the bag out of Rodney's hand, leaning over to inspect a few oranges before dropping three into the bag and handing it back. He says, "I don't work here."
Rodney gives him an impatient look, "I know. You're not wearing the uniform. Anyway. Thank you from saving me from citrus-y death."
Rodney tosses the oranges in the cart beside the eggs and tofu-sausage that Jeannie had insisted he provide. He still has to clean up his apartment and pray that Jeannie's cat allergies don't act up because he couldn't get anyone to watch Milton for a few days.
The guy says, leaning one hip against the fruit stand while Rodney pulls his cart away, "So if you want to find me later, I won't be here."
Rodney pauses. The guy is watching him, dark eyes intent, and Rodney watches him back for a moment. Staying to find out how this plays out suddenly seems like an excellent idea. Rodney steps away from the cart, extends his hand to shake, "Rodney McKay. So where can I find you?"
The guy has a firm grip, and he holds on a beat too long. Rodney's stomach does a completely embarrassing flopping thing, and he can feel the flush climbing up the back of his neck. It doesn't improve when the guy shrugs, "John Sheppard. I'm staying at the Holiday Inn. Hadn't decided until recently that I wanted to stick around here."
Rodney is saying before he even thinks about it, "You're staying at a motel? Oh, God. Do you even know what lives in those beds? Not to mention the odds of being robbed or murdered by a vagrant. Have you no sense of self preservation?"
John shrugs again, he seems to be making a habit of it. Rodney would point out that it's bad for his posture, but John's also smiling, and saying, "But they do have an indoor pool."
Rodney opens his mouth, "But the chlorine!" He takes a deep breath to go into just what, exactly, the concentrations used in pool water can do to you, and then realizes that he's on a time table here. Instead he turns back to the cart, tearing off the corner of his shopping list and grabbing the pencil he keeps behind his ear—never know when brilliance will strike—and scrawls out his address.
John looks bemused when Rodney shoves it into his hands, but his expression brightens when Rodney says, "We're having dinner at five. Don't argue. You can bring wine. And...yes, you can bring some flowers for Jeannie. I'm not going to have time to pick any up. Carnations! Yellow!"
Rodney leaves John staring down at his address, and pushes his cart towards the check out aisles.
By the time five rolls around Rodney has completely forgotten about the conversation in the supermarket. Jeannie is fussing over Rodney's text books and badgering him about why he isn't taking more classes when the downstairs buzzer goes off. Rodney presses the intercom with his elbow, stirring the spaghetti and trying to yank his quantum physics theorem out of Jeannie's hands at the same time. He snaps, "Yes, who is it?"
There's a brief pause on the other end, and then, "Uh, John." Rodney curses, shoves the spoon in Jeannie's general direction and heads for the front door. Sometimes he wonders what made him decide to lease this tiny apartment on the third floor of this crappy old building. And then he remembers how much money he makes.
John is leaning against the doorframe when Rodney throws the door open. He looks pretty much exactly the same as he had earlier, with the added bonus of holding both a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers. Rodney beams at him, ushers him in, and plucks the wine from his hands. "Oh, excellent, come on. She's probably burning the water."
Rodney pounds back up the stairs, louder than he strictly needs to be, but his downstairs neighbors play their music ridiculously loudly at all hours of the day and night and he figures it's only fair to repay some of the noise terrorism they dabble in. John sounds amused when he says, "You don't really have low gears, do you?"
Rodney flashes him an incredulous look, and then they're back in his apartment. He yanks the spoon out of Jeannie's hand—the noodles are already boiling all over the stove—sets the wine to the side and gestures between his two guests, "Jeannie, this is John. John, my sister Jeannie. Give her the flowers."
John does, along with a smile that makes Rodney's stomach ache. Then Jeannie smacks Rodney in the head with the carnations, her voice dripping aggravation, "Why didn't you tell me you were seeing someone? I've been trying to figure out how to set you up with Ryan for ages and look!" She makes a hourglass gesture at John, which Rodney is pretty sure doesn't actually apply to men.
Rodney rolls his eyes, opening his mouth to point out that she's making wild assumptions with absolutely no foundation in anything resembling fact, but doesn't get the chance. John slides up behind him, arms bracketing Rodney in as he turns down the heat on the stove. John's voice is a rumble that sends chills down Rodney's spine, "We wanted it to be a surprise."
John shifts just a little closer, and Rodney turns his head, blinks at John over his shoulder. The man is still smiling, and he leans forward, presses a soft, absent, kiss to the corner of Rodney's mouth. "Surprised?"
Rodney blinks, and then drops the spoon, reaching up to grab John's collar and pull him in for a proper kiss. John's mouth is unyielding for all of a second, and then he's relaxing with a soft sigh. Rodney finds himself making out with a guy he met in the supermarket in front of his baby sister while his spaghetti noodles go all to shit and pulls back enough to say, "We catch on quick."
John is staring at his mouth, and Jeannie sounds like she's trying not to laugh when she says, "Maybe you should get a room?"
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