Series: Highschool Heroes
Characters: John, Rodney, the Sheppards
Warnings: None. Well. UST, I suppose, but that's a general warning for the series, at this point.
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Summary: It's John's birthday. Rodney is full of surprises.
Author's Note: Yup. This year John's birthday gets its very own special oneshot. Hells yeah!
It snows the night before John's birthday, and follows that up by snowing some more in the morning. John wakes up to the sound of the heater running, Rodney curled up against him, the other boy's nose cold where it's pressing against John's neck. John nudges Rodney after a long moment, just able to see the white outside through the side of his blinds.
Rodney mumbles, "S'cold," attempting to get even closer, not even looking up.
John grins, throwing the blankets aside which makes Rodney yelp and grab for them. When John rolls out of bed Rodney has already managed to bury himself under all of the blankets, blinking owlishly up at John. John yanks the blinds up, motioning excitedly towards the snow still falling heavily outside, "It finally snowed!"
Rodney grumbles, slowly pushing himself up onto his elbows, his hair sticking out every which way. Rodney says, after a moment, "Yes it did." And then, stretching his arms above his head, "Happy birthday."
It is so far. John bounces on the balls of his feet, dropping the blinds and trying to remember where he put his gloves. He says, throwing the closet door open and digging around, "Come on, I want to make a snow man." John realizes that he's acting like a little kid, but he's always liked snow, and he'd been starting to think that they just weren't going to get any all winter.
By the time John manages to grab their winter coats, gloves, and a scarf for Rodney, Rodney is out of bed. He's standing by the window, the blinds actually pulled up, one hand pressed against the window pane. The white light streaming in gilds him, and John's mouth hangs open without a thing coming out of it.
Rodney says, distracted, looking out the window, "We have to open up the presents first."
John nods, distracted himself. They'd put off any opening of presents until today, because it hadn't felt right after the kids had been hanged. John's present for Rodney is burning a hole in his pocket, and he cuts a look at his dresser, where it's safely secreted, wondering how to get it out without Rodney noticing.
At least he found something to spend his paycheck on.
They end up in the living room, the entire family, in robes, t-shirts, and flannel pants. The red and green wrapping paper looks kind of out of place, but John barely notices. Rodney insists on giving his present last, grinning like a lunatic and bouncing in place.
By the time they're getting close to finished there is wrapping paper everywhere, and John is fidgeting with the present he got for Rodney. His father had assured him, repeatedly, that it was perfectly fine, but the nervous tangle in John's stomach won't ease. But there are no other presents to stall with, so John takes a deep breath, and shoves the small, gold wrapped, box towards Rodney.
Rodney blinks at him, cocking his head to the side when he takes the present. John's lungs are burning from holding his breath, his hands balled up into anxious fists. Rodney pulls the wrapping paper apart carefully, smoothing it out and going curiously still when he reveals the black box inside.
John can feel his parents smiling, which is kind of disconcerting, but he can't take his eyes off of Rodney to glare at them for their amusement. Rodney turns the box over, before gripping his hand into a fist around it and then taking a deep breath, his shoulders visibly rising and falling. When he finally opens it John finds himself biting his lip, his heart thundering unreasonably fast.
For a long moment Rodney just stares into the box, and then he's smiling, looking up, meeting John's gaze. John feels his breath escape in a rush, almost lightheaded from how long he'd been holding it, relief burning across his skin. John blurts, the words tumbling out, "They're real diamonds. I mean. Not big ones. Or anything. But I thought you might, um, like them?"
Rodney hasn't changed the silver studs in his ear since he put them in. John hadn't been sure if that was because he just liked them or because he didn't have anything to replace them with. In any case, Rodney fidgeted with them constantly, and so John's theory had been that he wouldn't mind a few options.
Rodney is beaming at him, and John has a half second to be completely blinded by that before Rodney is hugging him, laughing delightedly, babbling, "They're great. You got me earrings! I-" he squeezes John again, shifting back and reaching for the box again, carefully removing the backs of the earrings before reaching for his ears.
John watches him change the earrings. Rodney catches his tongue between his teeth when he pushes the new studs in, making a face when he pushes the backs on. When Rodney drops his hand he's smiling again, huge and crooked, his cheeks red when he demands, "Well, what do you think?"
John's brain has unhelpfully shut down. John swallows heavily, shifting towards Rodney, reaching out without thought to tuck Rodney's hair behind his ear. And then his hand kind of just stays there, his fingers tangled with Rodney's curls, Rodney's ear red from being agitated.
Rodney is watching him with wide eyes, and John rubs his thumb across Rodney's cheek, his heart thundering insanely fast for some reason. Rodney's tongue flicks out across his lips, and John sucks in a breath, because that makes Rodney's mouth shine, just like the earrings shine.
And that's when the phone rings. John startles, shaking himself, his heart still racing. Rodney is blushing again, cheeks crimson when John's mother hands over the phone, whispering that it's John's grandmother. John barely registers the conversation, feeling dizzy and off balance, unable to look away from Rodney, who starts fidgeting and doesn't stop. John hangs up accidentally in the middle of her goodbye, not sure he heard a damn thing she said besides 'hello' and 'happy birthday'.
Someone takes the phone away from him, and John is grateful. For a long moment he and Rodney just stare at each other, and then John's mother clears her throat, prompts, "Rodney, I think there's one last thing?"
Rodney blinks rapidly, jumping, "Oh, right. Yes. Right." Rodney jerks to his feet, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a tiny green something, ordering, "Hold out your hand and close your eyes." John obeys automatically, not sure that there's anything Rodney could tell him to do that he wouldn't immediately hop to, at this point.
The thing that Rodney places in John's palm is small, almost weightless, and warm from close contact with the other boy's body. John bites his lip and forces his eyes to stay shut, and then Rodney is blurting, "Okay, okay, look, open it, come on."
John cracks one eye open, then the other. Rodney is standing in front of him, bouncing up and down, not succeeding in any effort to contain his excitement. John grins, looking down at his hand, and feeling, again, like he just got the wind knocked out of him.
It's not hard to see the shape of the key, because Rodney's wrapping job didn't make any effort to disguise it. John pulls the paper off, feeling his mouth fall open in shock, staring for a speechless moment down at the key.
Rodney's voice is nervous, hesitant, "John?"
John looks up, aware that he probably looks like an idiot, too shocked to collect himself. His voice sounds funny, not quite like his own when he says, "You got me a car?" He wonders if this might be some kind of joke, but he has no idea what the punch line would be.
Rodney shifts his weight from foot to foot, "Yes. Well. I mean, it definitely has potential to be a car. I mean. You know that-actually, I can show you. Can I show you? Come on." Rodney reaches out and grabs his wrist, and John goes willingly, following Rodney out the front door in his bare feet, mouth falling open all over again because there is a car in their driveway that he's pretty sure wasn't there last night.
Rodney drags John across the lawn, yelping at the cold, but heading doggedly for the car anyway. The car is, really, falling apart. John has no idea what color it's supposed to be under the dirt and snow, but he sees at least three different colors of paint and lots of rust. One of the tires is flat. One is missing. There's cardboard over one window, and the side view mirror is hanging from one wire. A fender appears to be being held on by duct tape.
It is the most beautiful vehicle John has ever seen.
Rodney yanks the driver's door open, bracing one knee on the seat, which has springs popping out, and reaching to pull a lever. There's a sad sounding click from the hood and then Rodney is shifting back, stepping around to the front of the car and trying to sweep the snow off. John helps, still reeling.
And then Rodney is pulling the hood up. John doesn't know anything about cars, really, but he has a feeling that engines are not supposed to look the way this one's does. Rodney braces the hood up with a stick, rubbing his hands together, and John frowns because Rodney's skin is turning red. Before John can suggest that they go inside before Rodney freezes to death, Rodney is talking, "It needs a lot of work, but I can fix it. Or, um, I actually thought maybe we could fix it together? If you wanted? I can show you. I mean-we don't have to. If you don't want to. But this is a 440 six-pack, if you can believe it, and even if I don't, um, upgrade it, she'll be fucking fast."
John nods helplessly, having completely lost the thread of conversation somewhere after Rodney wanting to work on the car with him. John has to clear his throat before he can speak, "I'd like that. Helping. I'd like to help."
Rodney looks up at him, grinning from where he's leaning over the engine, his eyes so bright. "Good. I was-I hoped you would." And then he's off again, "I wasn't sure if you'd want to keep the bench seat or not, but that's easy to change. Well. Easy for me. And really, that barely matters. Can you believe they had this just sitting in that junk lot? I mean, this is a classic. I don't want to keep it the original color, though. I mean. Orange?" Rodney makes a face. John wonders how he knows what color it was.
Then Rodney makes a face, hopping from foot to foot, hissing, "Ow, ow, ow," and John rolls his eyes, closing the hood.
John says, "How about you tell me about it inside?" And picks Rodney up before he freezes his feet solid.
Rodney is still talking about the car when John drags him back outside, properly dressed, to play in the snow. Rodney is being incredibly smug about how he'd managed to convince John's mother to go talk to the man that owned the car, sneaking it back to the house without John noticing.
John must admit that he is very impressed, and he listens to Rodney babble happily about how much horsepower the engine will have when they have it restored and dry rot and his brain keeps getting hung up on the thought of Rodney, greasy, working on the car. John is very glad that he's wearing approximately three layers of pants.
John does most of the actual making of the snow man, Rodney constantly getting distracted and sketching pictures in the air of what they'll have to do. Rodney's breath is forming white clouds, his words all running together in his excitement, and John might not have a clue what any of it means, but it doesn't really matter.
Rodney finally runs out of steam while John is considering making a second snow man so the first doesn't get lonely. Rodney rubs his gloved hands together, biting at his bottom lip before asking, softly, "You do like it, right? I mean, you didn't want, like, a brand new car or something, right?"
For a half second John boggles at him, and then he shakes his head, reaching out to grab Rodney and pull him close, because physical touch reassures Rodney fastest now, "It's perfect, Rodney. I can't wait to work on it."
That gets a smile from Rodney, one of his arms snaking around John's waist to hug him awkwardly through their coats. Then Rodney looks to the side, at John's snowman, frowning, "He needs a buddy. So they can panic over the coming of spring together."
John laughs, rolling his eyes and bending to start rolling again. The rough sphere is just starting to reach decent size when something cold, hard, and wet smacks him in the back of the head. John feels icy cold water slide down the back of his neck, straightening and batting the snow away, twisting to look over his shoulder.
Rodney is grinning, eyes dancing, right as he throws another snowball at John. This one catches John square in the chest and John finds himself smiling wildly back, declaring, "Oh, it is so on," and bending to scoop up handfuls of his own.
Rodney laughs, taking off, throwing another snowball in passing, sprinting across the lawn. John starts after him, the cold air burning in his chest, tossing a snowball at Rodney's back, not hard enough to even make him stumble.
Within minutes John is thinking that perhaps not knocking Rodney down immediately was a mistake. Rodney is quick and sneaky, and has distressingly good aim. John is splattered with snowballs, and would feel badly about it, except Rodney is every bit as covered with sad remnants of snow projectiles as John is.
Rodney is still laughing, though he sounds breathless now. There are footprints everywhere, the snow churned up, and John puts on a burst of speed, managing to tackle Rodney right before he launches another attack. They go down in a mess of limbs, Rodney's laughter getting louder as he goes to the ground.
John blinks, and finds himself staring down at Rodney. Rodney, who is laughing, his cheeks and nose stained red from the cold. Rodney, who has snowflakes caught in his eyelashes and hair. Rodney, who is wearing the earrings that John bought him. John lets out a shuddering breath, shivering though it has nothing to do with the cold.
Rodney only stops laughing slowly, still smiling wildly when he subsides. He blinks up at John, and John opens his mouth to say something, anything, but no words come. All he can do is stare, watching Rodney's eyes go soft and gentle.
After a moment Rodney reaches out, brushing the snow out of John's hair with one gloved hand, then leaving his hand resting on John's shoulder. It feels like a lead weight, pulling John down, and he licks his lips, aware suddenly of how dry they are, of the fact that he's lying between Rodney's thighs, of the way Rodney's smile makes his stomach ache and his heart race.
Rodney brings his other hand up, rough glove brushing across John's cheek, his blue eyes wide and amazed. John wonders what he's seeing that's making him look like that, his throat too tight to ask. John leans down slowly, only half aware of what he's doing, the cold tip of his nose bumping into Rodney's.
John's father chooses that moment to shout, "Teyla's here, she wants to know if you two want-"
John's mother talks over him, sounding exasperated, "Regan! For God's sake, why would you-oh, never mind. I can't believe you just did that." None of which makes any sense to John. He shakes himself, blinking dazedly down at Rodney before blushing and scrambling to his feet.
Rodney looks as off balance as John does when John pulls him to his feet. John feels shaky, blinking rapidly and trying to figure out what just happened. He's still seeing Rodney's big blue eyes in his mind, feeling the cold press of his nose, the warm brush of Rodney's breath against John's mouth.
Teyla comes out the backdoor, smiling and waving.
They spend the day with Teyla and Ronon, who shows up a half-hour later. They mess around in the snow until they get cold and then going inside to warm up before doing the whole thing over. The others leave when the sun starts to set, and John drags Rodney inside to make him hot chocolate.
Rodney's feet are cold, and he sticks them in John's lap when they sprawl out in John's room to play video games. John has limited success concentrating on the game after that, but he doesn't mind. Particularly because Rodney laughs delightedly every time he beats John.
By the time they finally crawl into bed John is exhausted, limbs leaden, eyelids hanging heavy. He pulls the blankets back, blinking at Rodney expectantly, surprised to find Rodney standing off to the side. John frowns, "Rodney?" wondering what's gone wrong.
Rodney lets out a long breath, blurts, "Hold on one second," and then disappearing into the closest. He reappears a half second later holding a belt, and John feels something jerk in his chest. Rodney hesitates a step away, holding the belt out, staring at the ground, "I made some adjustments to the combustion system. It shouldn't burn as hot, now. Um. I know the last one was kind of trouble, but I figure we can keep it quiet and no one will-"
John grabs him, because it's the only thing he can think to do. Rodney makes a surprised sound, but John is too busy hugging him to figure out what it means. John's throat feels like someone is squeezing it, and he buries his face against Rodney's neck, holding him tight.
Rodney hugs him back without hesitation, the belt digging into John's back. John finds himself rocking the other boy back and forth, not sure why he is, but unable to stop himself. His chest aches with pressure, and he rubs a hand up and down Rodney's spine.
After a long time John pulls back, cupping Rodney's face and smiling at him helplessly. John says, feeling like he's pulling apart from the rampaging emotions in his chest, "I- God, Rodney." And then he can't find anymore words, pulling him close, holding him until Rodney pokes him in the shoulder and tells him he wants to go to sleep, now, thank you.
It's the best birthday that John can remember having.
::go to 'Sweet Sixteen' —>::
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