Recipient: goddess47

Pairing: McKay/Sheppard

Rating: R - NC:17

Word count: 22,969

Warnings: none given

Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis, the characters and universe are the property of the Sci-Fi Channel and MGM.

Summary: Jingle Bells had been stuck in his head as he waited for the ten o'clock train, and Deck the Halls had kept him up until almost two in the morning as his mind repeated falalalala lalalala about a thousand times a minute.

Notes: This is for Goddess47, they asked for: John/Rodney, some angst on the way to a happy ending, adventure, something with jumpers, almost any AU, John gets that PhD, Harlequin, mpreg, saving Pegasus/Earth from the wraith, mission goes right, mission gone right, going back to Earth together. I wish I could have stuck all of that into this one story, but sadly I couldn't. This story is a fusion between SGA and the movie While You Were Sleeping. I'd like to give huge thank you's and hugs to my Beta, who will be named after the reveal. Hope you enjoy it Goddess47!!

Rodney shivered and pulled his coat tighter around himself as he stood on the train platform. Sometimes he regretted his decision not to get a car. Sure it was better for the environment and he could let his mind wander when he rode the train, not to mention the small fortune he was saving by not having to pay parking meters, but at least with a car he'd be warm. Warm and toasty and...

Rodney's train of thought was derailed as he came into view. He was the one thing Rodney looked forward to now days. Every morning at eight thirty the brown haired man would hurry onto the platform just mere seconds before the train came around the corner. His hair was light brown and very meticulously kept, he always wore perfectly pressed suits, carried a brief case and he was absolutely beautiful. Rodney had dreams about that man almost every night, and he didn't even know his name. He'd only started riding Rodney's train about three months ago, but it felt like he'd been there forever.

He watched as the man hurried past, catching a whiff of his cologne and Rodney's stomach tightened just a little bit. There were things that he wanted, the brown haired man was certainly one of them, but Rodney had made his decision a long time ago. His work was the most important thing to him and he put in so many hours that he didn't have time for things like relationships. Normally that didn't bother him too much, he had those few seconds each morning and his dreams to look forward to and that was usually enough. Although Rodney didn't celebrate Christmas, the season never failed to make him wonder if it was all worth it. He watched the couples coming and going through the city and it made him realize just how alone he was.

What he remembered of his family life hadn't been horrible, but that had been a long time ago. Things started falling apart when his dad died. His sister Jeannie was only six, he was thirteen, and his death had hurt him in a way he'd never forget. He had been the hinge that held the family together and Rodney still missed him. Things were still good for awhile; they all seemed to be just floating in the cloud of his father's memory, but it hadn't lasted long.

His mom died almost ten years ago, but that hadn't hurt nearly as bad. He hadn't seen Janet McKay in three years when he'd gotten the call that she was sick. The cancer had spread quickly and before Rodney had gotten the chance to make it to Canada; his mother was barely even still alive. Jeannie still lived there, but she didn't really like him and Rodney couldn't say he felt much different about her. They hadn't spoken since their mother's funeral, which so happened to be the day Jeannie had told him that she was married and pregnant. It wasn't that that had bothered him though, it was the fact that she was giving up a promising career to be a stay home mom. Rodney resented her for her wasted genius, because their father had dreamed that his two brilliant children would change the world together.

Rodney startled when the train squealed to a stop and he watched as the brown haired man got on and then he stepped into the train as well. One day he was going to ask what his name was, but this wasn't that day and Rodney knew that it more than likely wouldn't ever happen. A man as beautiful as him deserved a partner that would be there for him and Rodney wouldn't be able to, not to mention, the man was probably straight, and might even have a wife and a few kids for all Rodney knew. Sighing, Rodney made himself turn around and stop staring at the beautiful man behind him.


The building was decorated with garland and Christmas lights when Rodney walked in. He knew it was left over from the company party that he'd skipped the night before. He'd left work at nine thirty not because he was finished for the day, but because the music coming from the floor below him was too loud. He didn't know how anyone could stand listening to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree that many times in a row. Jingle Bells had been stuck in his head as he waited for the ten o'clock train, and Deck the Halls had kept him up until almost two in the morning as his mind repeated falalalala lalalala about a thousand times a minute. Now he had to dodge the sprigs of mistletoe hanging off the ceiling as he walked to his office. He didn't believe in Christmas or all the stupid traditions that went along with it, but he'd learned his lesson last year when Gladys from accounting had pinned his arms down and assaulted him with her too red lips.

He sighed as he stood in his office door and saw the white board with the unfinished equation staring at him. He hated leaving problems unfinished, it always took him a minute to get back into the groove he'd had going when he stopped. Not to mention, even though he knew the problem was correct, he did it after all, he still had to go over the entire thing before he felt comfortable enough to continue on with it.

"Good morning, Dr. McKay."

Rodney turned around at the sound of his friend's voice and smiled slightly. He and Radek had been hired by Atlantis R and D on the same day and had been working together for the last eight years. Radek was more than Rodney's co-worker, he was his friend and Rodney always turned to Radek on the occasion when he needed someone to talk to. "Good morning, Dr. Zelenka," he replied and made his way over to the white board.

"How was Mr. Wonderful today?" Radek asked, sitting down at the computer console. Rodney didn't exactly have a problem with computers; he just loved the feel of a marker in his hand. Nothing was more satisfying than the squeak of a dry erase marker flying across the board as he wrote the numbers that were moving around in his mind.

He sighed and shook his head as he turned to face Radek. There were very few things that Rodney really regretted, but telling Radek about the brown haired man on the train was one of them. Radek would ask about him every morning, always calling him Mr. Wonderful and Rodney could never think of a good response.

"Why do you not just speak to him, Rodney? Perhaps he would be interested in having a drink," Radek suggested after a moment.

"Seriously? Radek, I don't have time for a drink with you, why would I ask a beautiful man like... whatshisname... to have a drink with me when I wouldn't be able to make it?"

"You could make it if you would leave this building earlier. You work too much; you need to explore other parts of your life."

"Just get to work, Radek. I don't have time to talk about this." Rodney turned back to the board and started working on his equation.

"You could at least ask his name."

"Radek!" Rodney said, slapping his marker down on the ledge.

"Alright, I will drop it, but a simple question is not difficult. You are scientist, questions are your life."

"Yes, Radek, but hey baby what's your name isn't one of those questions," Rodney spat back.

"You would not have to ask in that manner."

Rodney sighed and threw his hands up. "I'm working from home today, Radek." That was one of the aspects of his career that he really liked. Except for the simulations, he didn't have to be in the building to work. "Call me if you need anything. See you tomorrow." He gathered a few notebooks out of his desk drawer and headed toward the door.

"Rodney," Radek called as Rodney left the room. "I did not mean-"

Rodney wasn't listening.


He knew Mr. Wonderful wouldn't be on the train, and he felt like he needed to get rid of some pent up frustration, so he walked. It was cold and his breath puffed out in visible white clouds, his coat doing very little to keep out the frigid Chicago wind.

There was a woman walking down the other side of the street, her arms weighed down with bags from at least ten different stores. He nodded politely as a couple passed him, their fingers interlaced together; he was asking her what she wanted for Christmas. He reached the corner just in time to steady an elderly woman as her foot slipped on a patch of ice.

"Oh goodness," she said as she stepped off the ice. "Thank you young man."

Rodney nodded and made his way across the street. Everyone was always so nice this time of year, and that was another thing Rodney didn't understand about Christmas. Why did people who wouldn't look twice at another person all of a sudden have the urge to smile and say hello? Any other time of year he'd walk down the street and be greeted with things like 'watch it pal,' and 'I'm walkin' here!' Not to mention a colorful array of curses. Today, however, everyone he passed happily wished him a Merry Christmas or happy holidays and Rodney simply didn't have the energy to tell them all that he was an atheist.

It took him an hour to get to his apartment building but as he stood at the front entrance he didn't really have the urge to go inside. Stark was in there, but the cat had been fed not even three hours ago and was probably curled up on the end of Rodney's bed and would be rather upset about his nap being interrupted without it even being dinner time.

Shaking his head, Rodney continued walking and wondered when his life had started revolving around his cat. He'd been in relationships before, and it had been nice to have someone waiting for him when he got home. That never lasted long though, he'd leave for work in the morning and the sun was usually down before he came home. People got tired of waiting for him and Rodney was never surprised when he walked into an empty house. He missed the sex more than he missed the people, and that had eventually made him realize that he hadn't ever really liked them that much to begin with.

Mr. Wonderful though, would be different. Rodney would gladly leave the office at a decent hour if he'd be waiting for him; that relationship would work because Rodney really did like him. He knew it was irrational to think you were in love with someone you'd never even really met, but he thought that maybe he was. Three months ago Rodney had started getting up and leaving the house for something other than work, and even though it was just a couple of seconds on the train platform, it made him happy. Only, not really. Rodney realized that he was pretty much living his life for a brief and silent encounter every morning and that he was very lonely and extremely pathetic.


When Rodney finally made it home he found Jennifer struggling to get a Christmas tree down the hall.

"Rodney," she said happily as Rodney walked past her without offering to help with the tree. "Look what I got for you."

Rodney looked at the mutilated pine and cringed. "You got me a tree?" he asked.

"Well," she said as she dropped the tip of the tree and leaned against the wall. "I noticed that you never have one delivered so I thought it'd make a nice gift."

"It's a nice tree," he told her, "but I'm pretty sure it was much nicer when it was in the ground. You know, making breathable air."

"You don't like it?" she asked, sounding utterly crushed.

Rodney sighed and looked at the tree on the floor and then at her. "I don't celebrate Christmas, Jennifer. That's why I never buy a tree, it's also why I never come to those parties you throw in the court yard. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm very tired and all I want to do is go to bed."

She sighed, "Okay then. Hey, if you're going to be around tomorrow, Daddy wanted me to invite you to Christmas dinner."

"I'm working tomorrow."

"On Christmas? No one should work on Christmas."

"It's just another day to me. You have a good one though." He smiled and gave her a slight nod before continuing down the hall and into his apartment.


Thankfully, the tree was gone when Rodney left his apartment the next morning. He buttoned his coat as he walked toward the elevator and pulled his hat over his ears as he walked out into the wind. It was snowing and Rodney added that to the list of things that were making his day horrible.

First, he was woken up an hour earlier than normal by the children in the neighboring apartment screaming that Santa had come. Then to add insult to injury he opened the cabinet only to find that he was out of coffee. He berated himself mentally for having forgotten that fact yesterday when he'd specifically made a note to buy some on the way home. Of course, worst of all was that fact that he just knew that Mr. Wonderful wouldn't be on the platform today. He was probably sitting on a big chair in a comfortable and very warm robe, his overly beautiful wife sitting on his knee while his urchins made a terrible mess with brightly colored paper and ribbons.

Rodney almost swallowed his tongue when he rounded the corner only to find Mr. Wonderful standing on the platform looking as good as ever and with a wonderfully steaming cup of coffee in his hand. He cleared his throat and managed not to stumble as he made his way over to his usual spot.

Mr. Wonderful looked at him, nodded and said, "Merry Christmas." His voice was amazing, not too deep and as smooth as silk.

"I don't celebrate it," Rodney replied and then mentally kicked himself in the face. 'Merry Christmas to you too,' he said in his mind. 'That's a very nice coat,' 'how are you today?' He bit the inside of his mouth to keep from looking like a complete idiot.

"Oh, sorry," Mr. Wonderful replied with another smile.

"Uh," Rodney replied sounding nothing like the genius he was, but before he could think of something to actually say, the man was moving off.

"Now I remember why I don't drink coffee," he said.

Rodney nodded and turned away, only rapists and murderers watched people walk to the bathroom.

He was verbally abusing himself mentally when he heard the commotion behind him, turning just in time to see two thugs push Mr. Wonderful onto the train tracks.

"Oh fuck!" Rodney grumbled as he hurried over. When he got to the edge he saw Mr. Wonderful splayed across the track that their train would be on in just a matter of moments. He turned around frantically looking for someone to help. "Someone!" he called as he looked back down at the beautiful man on the tracks. "Help me," Rodney called a moment before he leapt over the edge of the platform.

"Hello," he said as he gently patted the man on the face. "God you even bleed beautifully," he said stupidly when he noticed the gash on the man's forehead. "Wake up! Sir, wake up." He smacked the man's face harder as his mind helpfully showed him a ticking clock. "What the fuck is wrong with you! Get up! The train will be here in a minute and as beautiful as you are I am not going to die with you!"

Rodney's ears pricked when he heard the whistle of the train. "Oh God!" He cursed as he looked up. His body froze when he saw the train come around the corner. "Shit! We're going to die. Wake up mister!" He shouted again. He grabbed the lapels of the man's coat when he noticed the gap under the platform. Throwing himself to the side, he and Mr. Wonderful rolled off the tracks and under the platform just in time for the train to pass beside them.

The man rolled his head and his eyes opened, looking up at Rodney.

"You're an idiot." Rodney said softly. "Who falls that way when there are train tracks there?"

The hazel eyes fluttered closed as the man's head rolled to the side.


For once, Rodney was thankful that most people were shut up in their houses on Christmas day. He made it to the hospital in record time for having walked the distance. Not that he was exactly walking, and by the time he made it up to the fourth floor he was completely out of breath. He had exactly thirteen seconds before he reached the nurses' station, and in that time he wondered how he was supposed to ask about someone when he didn't know his name.

"Can I help you, sir?" the nurse behind the desk asked.

"About two seconds ago a man was-"

"Name?" she asked quickly.

"No, he was-"

"You don't know his name?" she interrupted him.

Rodney looked away in frustration just as the doctors were wheeling a bed down the hall behind the glass doors. "There he is," Rodney said and walked toward the doors.

"You can't go back there," A young doctor said, cutting off Rodney's view of Mr. Wonderful.

"No, I need-"

"Its family only," the doctor told him firmly.

"I know but-"

"Are you family?"

"No, but-"

"Family only."

The man walked away and Rodney watched as the other doctors and nurses fussed over his stranger.

"He's a fucking moron," Rodney said aloud as the bed was wheeled out of his sight. "I can't believe I was going to spend the rest of my life with him." He stared at the doors for another moment before turning away, but before he could leave, another nurse had her hands on his shoulders.

Rodney didn't argue as she turned him back toward the doors and led him inside. As they walked down the stark white halls the nurse put her arm around Rodney's shoulders and softly rubbed his arm. "I'm sorry about Dr. Hertz, he's new here," she said as she took Rodney into a room and over to a chair beside the bed.

Rodney sat down without a complaint and looked at his beautiful stranger. His eyes were still closed, and the gash on his forehead had been taped together with butterfly bandages. He was paler that Rodney had ever seen him.

"Let him hear your voice, sweetie," the nurse said just before she left the room.

"Uh," Rodney replied, watching her leave the room only to turn around and look in through the large window. He looked back at the man in the bed and smiled softly. He had no idea what to say, or even how any of this had happened. Jumping onto a set of train tracks when he knew that the train was only minutes from coming wasn't something he ever thought he'd do. Then he'd been kept from following the bed into the ICU only to be led in there a moment later even though he wasn't family. Suddenly he remembered that he was supposed to be talking to him and he shook his head, looking for something to say that wasn't an insult. "You're going to be okay," he finally spoke; his voice so soft even he barely heard it. "I just know it." Once that was said, Rodney's mind went blank and he just sat there, staring. He startled when a throat was cleared.

"Excuse me, sir?"

Rodney looked up to see a police officer standing beside him. "Yes?"

"I'm sorry to bother you, but I have to ask you a few questions."

"Okay," Rodney said numbly as he stood up and stepped away from the bed.

Before the officer could say anything, an older doctor interrupted them. He opened his mouth to speak but there was a commotion out in the hall. Rodney looked up to see a group of distraught people filing through the door. Three women, one of which was ancient and another who was probably twelve, and two men, one older and the other about Rodney's age.

"Oh my baby," the middle woman said as she reached out to touch Mr. Wonderful's hand.

"Hello," the doctor said as he moved over to the group. "I'm Dr. Jameson."

"What's wrong with Dave?" the woman, obviously the man's mother, asked. Rodney nodded as he looked at the bed; at least he had a name now.

"He's in a coma," the doctor said.

"On Christmas day," the woman whined and took Dave's hand again.

"How did this happen?" the older man, probably Dave's father, asked.

"He uh- was pushed off the train platform," Rodney offered before he even realized he was going to speak at all.

"Who's he?" the father asked.

"He's the fiancé," the nurse who had brought Rodney into the room said.

Rodney's eyes went wide and he shook his head. "No no," he protested but no one seemed to be listening.

"Fiancé?" the father asked, glaring at the nurse as if it were her fault.

"Oh dear," the ancient woman said as she slumped down into the chair Rodney had been sitting in.

Rodney grimaced and hissed in a breath. He didn't know if the man was even gay and somehow Rodney had accidentally outed him to his family. "Only me," Rodney said quietly, "This could only happen to me."

"Is she okay?" the doctor asked, pointing to the ancient woman.

Rodney looked at the people, they were all obviously family; the resemblance to Mr. Won... Dave, was uncanny. Except for the man who told the doctor that the elderly woman had a heart condition. He was tall with dark skin and dreadlocks.

"Maybe he was busy?" the ancient woman asked.

"Too busy to tell his family that he's getting married?" The mother practically shouted.

"Um-" Rodney said and stepped forward. "Okay look, um..." No one was paying him any attention, and he was about to just sneak out of the room and run away when the young doctor from the nurses' station came in.

"Doctor," he whined and tipped his head toward Rodney. "What's he doing in here?"

"Hey pal," the officer said from the corner, Rodney hadn't even known he was even still in the room. "He saved his life."

"You saved his life?" Mom asked, turning her tear filled eyes to Rodney.

"Well..." Rodney started.

"I thought he was pushed," dad said, moving a little closer. Rodney took a step back from him; he looked perfectly capable of beating Rodney to death.

"He jumped on the tracks," the officer added helpfully.

"You jumped on the tracks?" mom asked.

"Yeah, well... see I-"

"It's family only," the young doctor growled, only to have his chest smacked by the back of Dad's hand as he slid between the two doctors.

"He is family," dad said, and a moment later the entire family, and the big dark guy, were surrounding Rodney.

Rodney wanted to run away, he wanted to hide under the bed or disappear or any number of other things that would keep him from being in this position.

"We haven't seen him in a long time," mom said as she moved even closer, her hands held out toward Rodney. "We didn't know." Rodney watched as her eyes welled with more tears. "I always wanted him to find a nice boy... I'm so glad he found you," she wailed as she reached for Rodney, pulling him into a tight hug. An instant later, Rodney was being hugged by everyone in the room, save the doctors and the officer. There were hands all over his back and shoulders, all three women were crying and Rodney had no idea what to do. On the bright side, now he knew that Dave was gay.


Once the commotion died down a little, Rodney excused himself claiming that he had to use the restroom, and found the trouble making nurse.

"Hey!" he called as he jogged to catch up with her.

"Yes?" she asked, turning around.

"Why the hell did you do that?"

She looked utterly confused. "Do what?" she asked.

"Why did you tell them I was engaged to him?"

"Because that's what you said," she told him matter of factly.

"I never said that!" Rodney protested.

"You said you were going to spend the rest of your life with him."

"Oh God, why do stupid people always assume that just because someone is speaking that they're talking to them?" Rodney asked, mostly to himself.

"I'm sorry," the woman spat, insulted.

"See, there again, not talking to you!"

"Okay, so you aren't engaged to Mr. Sheppard?"

"No! I'd never even spoken to him until today."

"So, you're just a love sick idiot then?"

"I'll have you know that I'm a genius!"

"Yeah? Then what are you going to do about this mess?"

Rodney sighed and shook his head, his shoulders slumping. "I don't know."

"Excuse me," the deep voice of the dreadlock man came from behind Rodney. Rodney closed his eyes and bit his lip, hoping the huge man hadn't heard the entire conversation. "I need a pharmacy," the big guy continued. "Millie needs her heart medication." He turned toward Rodney and clapped him on the shoulder. "You know what, buddy, you saved more than one life today."

Rodney forced a smile.

"You saved the whole family."

Rodney watched as the big guy walked away, following the nurse down the hall.


Rodney was heading toward the elevator when the family came out of the room and dad caught him around the shoulders and led him into the waiting area. Millie, who Rodney had decided was Dave's grandmother, sat in one of the chairs and began rubbing what looked like rosary beads. Rodney rolled his eyes and moved toward the couch, but mom and the twelve year old got there first. Dad was pacing and the dreadlock guy was sitting on the chair beside Millie, only leaving the footstool free for Rodney. He sighed and sat down, feeling every eye in the room on him.

"What's your name anyway?" Millie asked. "Dave never talked about you."

"Mom," Dave's mother interjected. "That was very rude."

"No it's okay," Rodney said, thinking that maybe this was his chance to stop looking like an idiot and learn everyone's names. "He never talked about any of you either." He had no idea why he wasn't just telling the truth, but he thought maybe it had something to do with the size of the other men in the room and how they were looking at him expectantly.

"I'm not surprised," Dreadlock man said. "Dave's kind of a dick."

"Ronon!" Mom scolded.

Rodney quickly did the simple math; he had two names now, three if you counted Dave. That left mom, dad, and the kid.

"Well," mom said and rubbed the kids' hair as she leaned on mom's shoulder. "My name is Claire I'm Dave's mom. That's Patrick, his dad, and this is Sarah, Dave's younger sister." She looked at the dreadlock man and sighed. "That rude monster over there is Ronon, Dave's cousin."

Rodney nodded and tried to make his smile convincing. "I'm Rodney," he told them.

"How did you meet David?" Millie asked and Rodney sighed. How was he supposed to answer that question.

"Maybe he doesn't want to talk about it," Ronon suggested.

"I bet it was very romantic," Millie said, ignoring Ronon.

"How do you know it was romantic?" Patrick asked.

"Why wouldn't it be? David is a very nice boy," Millie argued.

"Dave may be nice, but he's anything but romantic," Ronon told her.

Rodney sighed and shook his head, wondering if his family would have been this weird if his mom had lived.

"Did he pick you up in his fancy car?" Claire asked.

Rodney looked at her, "No, actually we met at the train station."

"You saved his life at the same place you met him?" Sarah asked and pressed closer to her mother's side.

"See, I told you it was romantic," Millie said smugly.

Rodney sighed softly and smiled at the family. He usually didn't have any regard for other people's feelings simply because they were complete idiots. He wasn't sure yet if the Sheppard family were complete idiots, but it was certainly looking that way, which was why he didn't know why the thought of telling them the truth was so scary. Sure, Patrick and Ronon were big, but Rodney was sure that if he explained what had happened and how everything had just moved so fast, they'd understand.

The truth was that he believed Ronon when he'd said that Rodney had saved the whole family. The memory of Claire's teary eyes and Millie's shaken voice hurt Rodney in a way he hadn't even thought possible. The tears had stopped once Rodney was brought into the picture and everyone had started smiling. They were worried and tentative smiles, but they were there and Rodney had caused them. He didn't want to be the reason for the return of their tears.

Not to mention, if Dave hadn't been pushed, and Rodney had eventually gotten the courage to talk to him and they got together, this would be his normal life. Not in a hospital waiting room of course, but these people would be in his life, they'd be his family. He knew it was pathetic even as the thought occurred, but for right now he could feel like he belonged somewhere, and he couldn't remember the last time he'd felt that.

Sarah yawned and while Millie was currently awake, she'd fallen asleep in the chair three times in the last hour. Rodney wasn't even sure how much time had passed, but the family had asked him questions like 'what do you do, Rodney?' and 'How long have you known Dave?' Thankfully none of the questions were things he'd had to make up answers for. Then everyone had gone quiet, and it was the kind of quiet that usually made Rodney antsy and paranoid, but he hadn't had the urge to start pacing.

Everyone eventually made their way back into Dave's room and gave him good night kisses on his forehead or patted his hand softly, and then Rodney was alone. No one had thought twice about him being there, and none of them had tried to make him leave. He'd felt welcome and the family obviously thought Dave was safe with Rodney there.

He only stayed long enough for the others to have left the hospital, then he told Dave good night, and left.


Rodney's answering machine was full when he got home, all the messages were from Radek asking where he was and if everything was alright. Each message ended with "Call me when you get my messages, no matter the time."

Rodney looked at the clock, it was nine pm and Radek would be home by now, so Rodney picked up the phone and dialed his number. He wasn't sure what to say, he'd spent the entire day at the hospital with the family of a man he'd only ever dreamed about being with. He was just about to forget the phone call and hang up when Radek answered.

"Rodney?" Radek asked frantically.

"It's me," Rodney answered.

"Where have you been? I have been worried about you."

"Yeah, sorry I didn't call."

"It is not like you to miss work."

"I know, I said I'm sorry."

"What has happened?"

"I've been at the hospital all day," Rodney said before he had time to think up a good lie. He was a bad liar anyway and Radek would have known.

"Oh my goodness. Did you do experiment at home and blow yourself up?"

"Radek!" Rodney chided. "First of all, I would never blow myself up; I'm too smart for that. Second, how would I be talking to you if I had been blown up? And third, you're an idiot."

"Why were you at hospital then?"

Rodney sighed and told Radek the story. He started with the horrible morning with the screaming kids and the lack of coffee and slid smoothly into Dave Sheppard being pushed off the platform at the train station.

"Who is Dave Sheppard?" Radek asked.

"You call him Mr. Wonderful," Rodney replied.

"You spoke to him? Did you ask him out? What did he say?"

"Yes, I spoke to him, no I didn't ask him out, and all he said was merry Christmas."

"You do not celebrate Christmas."

"I know that, and I told him... instead of saying thanks or you too."

"Wait..." Radek interrupted. "You said he was pushed off the platform."

"I did."

"And you saved him?"

"I did that too. I jumped on the tracks; I have no idea what the hell I was thinking."

"What did he say at hospital?"

"Nothing, Radek, he's in a coma."

"You spent the entire day with a man in a coma? Rodney, I have friend who would love to meet you, you do not have to spend your time pining for a man who barely even knows you are there."

"Thank you, Radek, but the last thing I need is to have you for a match maker. I didn't spend the day with him, his family showed up."

"You spent the day with them?"

"That's where it gets complicated." Rodney closed his eyes and wished he'd just hung up the phone when Radek answered.

"I am scientist, Rodney, nothing is too complicated."

Feeling slightly challenged by the statement, Rodney went on, "they think Dave and I are engaged."

There was a long pause in which Rodney began to wonder if Radek had passed out or something, but then Radek cleared his throat.

"Why do they think that?" Radek asked, his tone accusatory.

"Well I didn't tell them!" Rodney defended.

"If they still think it, then you did not tell them different either. Rodney, I want the entire story, right now."

So Rodney told him everything.

Almost two hours later, Radek said something in Czech and hung up. Rodney sighed, put the phone down and looked at Stark. "I don't know what he said," he told the cat, "but I think he just insulted me."

Stark took a breath and turned around on the bed before curling up in the pile of blanket.


He tried to sleep, but at midnight Rodney found himself walking into the hospital and taking the elevator up to the fourth floor. He walked into room 417 like he had every right to be there, and no one had stopped him.

He stood inside the room for a long time, just staring at the bed, not even necessarily the man in it. Someone hurried past the door and that seemed to wake Rodney up to where he was and he looked around the room, sighing heavily as his eyes fell upon Dave Sheppard. Rodney looked at him for a while; thinking about everything from the fancy car Dave didn't drive to where ever he went every morning, to his family and how much they loved him. Part of him wanted to hate Dave for the family he had and apparently took for granted, but the bigger part of him couldn't do that.

He shook his head and moved a little closer to Dave. He had no idea how this had become his life. He was sitting in a hospital room with a man in a coma, a man that never even looked at him until that morning. He was so lonely and he hadn't even really realized it, and suddenly he wanted to call his sister. He wanted to pick up the phone, never mind the time difference between Chicago and Vancouver, and tell his baby sister that he finally understood how she could make the decision she had. He wouldn't find her in this position; if she wanted someone she would go after them. Rodney wasn't as brave as she was, and he knew that he hid behind his mind most of the time because of that. He decided that it was time to start changing some things about his life and himself, and there was no better time to start than right now.

"Hello," he said softly, moving even closer to the bed. "I don't know why I'm here, but I think it's important that I tell you that your family thinks we're engaged. I don't know how it happened really... no that's a lie; I know exactly how it happened. I've got this sort of... I guess you could call it a crush... but a manly crush, on you and I have for a long time. Some stupid nurse heard me say something that I shouldn't have said aloud, knowing that all people are idiots. Oh, not that I think you're an idiot," he corrected and reached out, touching Dave's ankle only to apologize for the uninvited touch.

He moved over to the chair and sat down. He didn't look at Dave, but instead down at his own hands as he wrung them together in his lap. "Look, I'm sorry about this whole mess, and I'm going to find a way to make it better. Hopefully before you wake up and try to kill me. I have to admit that I'm more than a little intimidated by your cousin; he's very big and unnaturally scary."

He sighed and started picking at a loose thread on the knee of his jeans. "I wanted you to know that I'm sorry. Not for saving your live, of course, but for everything that happened after that. I could've... and yes, I should've told your family the truth, and in my defense, I tried. They didn't exactly listen, but you probably know that. Not that I'm insulting your family, because I'm not, they're great... well, as far as I could tell, but it was a very trying day for them. Anyway, like I said, I tried to tell them the truth, but then your mom..." Rodney closed his eyes, remembering the reactions of the family. He sighed, "she hugged me so tight, and your grandma was going to have a heart attack if I told them, and your dad... he said I was family. I haven't had a family in ten years. Okay, I do have a sister, and a niece and brother in law I've never even seen but..." He paused and shook his head. "I'm sorry; you probably don't want to hear about that. Not to mention, the whole thing with brainwaves and coma patients dreaming hasn't been proven to my standards, and if you are dreaming, I don't want to give you nightmares."

Finally, Rodney looked at Dave; he was still beautiful, even with a healing head wound. "You think I'm an idiot, don't you?" he asked quietly. "My own cat thinks I'm stupid... hell, he's probably right. I am sitting in a stranger's hospital room being more open than I've been to anyone that I would actually call my friends. I'm sure Kate, that's my psychiatrist, would tell me that this wasn't healthy, maybe even that I'm delusional and psychotic. I'm not, by the way. Just thought you should know that. I'm actually a genius, I don't get paid as much as I should but, I guess that's my fault for staying with Atlantis for so long."

Rodney leaned back in the chair and got comfortable. He was on a role, and with every sentence he spoke, he felt a little braver. He decided to just go ahead and spill his heart out while Dave couldn't hit him with a restraining order.

"Radek, he's my partner- uh, in the lab. My lab partner, not my partner partner. He says that I need to stop working so much and start living life a little more. Today, being here with your family has showed me that he's right. My sister told me on the last day I saw her that I was a coward. She said I was going to work my life away and end up living with five hundred cats and that I'd die alone all because I'm too afraid to take what I want." Rodney bit his lip as he forced himself to keep looking at Dave. "I wanted you, and look what it got me. Oh God, not that I'm blaming you, I'm not. I'm just saying that for the last three months you've been riding the same train I do. You brush past me every morning and I've never even said hello. Maybe if I had, things would be different right now. Not that we'd have run off and gotten married and be living happily ever after in some distant land, knowing my luck it wouldn't have worked out anything like what I'd hoped. But maybe we'd be friends; maybe I'd have played a big part in you not getting hurt today." He shook his head, "then again, I'd probably have dealt with your rejection so badly that I bought a car and stopped taking the train, then I wouldn't have been there this morning to save your life."

He was quiet as one of the nurses came in and checked the machines Dave was hooked up to. He smiled when the woman nodded at him, and then he leaned forward putting his elbows on his knees once she'd gone.

"My sister was right, I am a coward, but I'm going to stop being so afraid. I'm going to tell your family the next time I see them that I'm not your fiancé. I'm going to tell them the truth, because it's time to stop hiding. I need to start living."

He smiled at Dave, feeling better than he had in a long time. "Thanks for listening," he said.


Rodney's eyes popped open as if an alarm had gone off. He looked at his watch and saw that it was eight in the morning; he'd fallen asleep in the chair beside Dave's bed.

He stood up, draped his coat over his arm and smiled at Dave. "Bye," he whispered.


Rodney almost ran into Claire Sheppard when he turned around. "Oh uh- good morning." He looked from Claire to Patrick, then to Ronon and back to Claire and suddenly he wasn't as brave as he'd been the night before.

"Did you spend the night here?" Claire asked.

"Uh yeah, kind of."

"I could always sleep anywhere too," Millie told him.

"Well I can't really..."

"How's Dave?" Patrick interrupted as he walked past Rodney.

"He's looking a little better this morning," Rodney observed.

"He looks better," Patrick repeated. "Look, he has some color."

"He has color," Claire added helpfully.

Rodney hooked a thumb over his shoulder. "Yeah well, I have to go. Um- I was supposed to be at work two hours ago," he told them as he backed toward the door.

There was a hurried conversation held in whispers and then Patrick was heading toward him. "Listen," Patrick said. "We didn't get to celebrate Christmas so we're doing it tonight. We'd really like it if you could come."

"Oh," Rodney said wishing he'd had the courage to just tell the truth and get it all over with. "I don't really cel... I... see, I have to work. I shouldn't."

"Come on, Rodney, it'll be nice to have Dave's partner there," Sarah said, it was the first time she'd spoken to Rodney personally.

He smiled and tried to think of a way out of it, "well see, I..."

"John will be there," Sarah said as if that would mean something to Rodney.

"Have you met John?" Claire asked and Rodney shook his head.

"Not yet."

"Then you have to come, you haven't met the entire family," Patrick ordered.

"I can't... see I don't... um- I don't really-"

"Of course he'll be there," Ronon said, crossing the room and draping an arm over Rodney's shoulder. It felt like a building was about to fall on him. "Won't you buddy?"

"Yeah," Rodney said with a smile and a nod, trying very hard to keep his voice from shaking. "Of course I will."

"Good," Patrick said and handed Rodney a card. "See you at eight."

Rodney nodded again and hurried out of the room. He banged his head on the wall of the elevator as it made its way down to the lobby.


"Did you tell the family that you are a horrible lying pile of-"

"Good morning to you too, Radek," Rodney interrupted as he made his way into their shared lab.

"I take that as a no," Radek sighed.

"No, I didn't tell them."


"Because I'm a fucking moron just like the rest of the planet's population. The only difference is that everyone else would be smart enough not to get into a situation like this."

"You are not a moron, Rodney."

"What would you call me then?"

"A genius that is very bad with people?"

"You're not helping at all."

"Have you had coffee yet? You seem very agitated this morning."

"No," Rodney replied. "I came straight from the hospital."

Radek coughed and spun his chair around to face Rodney. "You stayed there all night? Rodney what were you thinking?"

"I don't know!" Rodney nearly shouted and then he flopped down into the other computer chair. "My back is killing me! I should have robbed the pharmacy for some vicodin before I left."

"No, that would be-"

Rodney looked at Radek when his sentence was cut off.

"A brilliant idea actually. You would spend time in the prison, and that would be bad of course, but at least you would be let off the hook with the family."

"Radek, I'm not sure I know you," Rodney said flatly as he let his head fall onto the back of the chair.

"Look at bright side, you would be in prison, but the family would be so relieved that their son was not engaged to a criminal that they would be overjoyed with your lie."

"Yes, and I'd be in prison. It'd be much easier to tell them the truth and let cousin Ronon kill me and hang my head on his wall."

"But then you would be dead and there would be no hope of winning a Nobel."

"I don't think they give Nobel prizes to ex-cons."

"Another bright side, in prison you would likely find a lasting relationship."

Rodney looked at Radek, disgusted. "I hate your guts, you know that right?"

"I know nothing of the kind, you love my guts but they are out of your league."

Rodney huffed a short laugh and shook his head. That was why he put up with Radek and his ridiculous accent, Radek made him laugh. "I'm leaving," Rodney told him as he pushed himself out of the chair. "I'm going home to take a long hot bath in my stupidly amazing tub. I'm going to feed Stark because he's probably starving and plotting my death, and then I'm going to pass out."

"Rodney," Radek called after him. "That friend I told you about would like to have dinner this evening."

"I'm busy," Rodney yelled back as the elevator doors opened.


Rodney had no idea what the etiquette was for this sort of thing, and he spent half an hour in the grocery store trying to decide if he should get white wine or red. He finally decided on one of the stupid poinsettia's that were now fifty percent off.

He took deep breaths as the taxi made its way toward the Sheppard house. They were supposed to be relaxing but they only served to make him light headed.

As he stepped out of the cab and looked at the huge house, Rodney had the urge to throw the flower at the snowman in the yard and run away. He was just about to do that when he heard his name. Turning to his left, he saw Ronon coming toward him.

"You made it," Ronon said.

"Yeah," Rodney replied. "I said I'd be here. So, are you related to Patrick or Claire?" He asked just so they wouldn't plunge into another silence.

"Neither," Ronon told him, but he didn't sound offended by the question, which was good. "I married Claire's niece, Malina."

"Oh, will I be meeting her tonight too?"

"No, she passed away a few years ago."

"Oh, I'm uh- I'm sorry to hear that."

"You're not too good with emotion are you?"

Rodney chuckled and shook his head. "You noticed that did you?"

"Couldn't really miss it. Anyway, Claire and Patrick had made me a part of their family when I married Malina, and they kept me even after she died. I didn't have anyone else, no family, so they mean a lot to me."

"Family is important," Rodney said truthfully, and he believed it.

"Yeah, so I'd never let anyone hurt them."

Rodney looked up at the house. It looked warm and inviting, and rather intimidating. "Neither would I," he said, and he believed that too.


Rodney looked up at the sound of his name and smiled as Claire and Sarah came out onto the front porch.

"Come in you two, it's freezing out here."

Rodney nodded and followed Ronon up the walk and into the house.

"Everyone, Rodney's here," Claire announced and once again, Rodney was being surrounded.

"Here," Rodney said as he handed the flower to Claire. "I hope you don't have cats."

"No," Claire said. "Dave's allergic."

"Oh," Rodney said sadly. "Right, how could I forget."

"Thank you, this was very thoughtful."

Rodney smiled and nodded as he was ushered out of the foyer and into the large living room.


"And this was when Dave came in second place in the all school Track race," Sarah told Rodney as she pointed at a photo in the album they were looking at. "John came in first," she said proudly.

Rodney and Sarah were sitting in a large armchair in the back corner of the living room. He wasn't at all surprised to find that the furniture was a set and that it matched the carpet and the heavy drapes perfectly. There was a fireplace and the mantle was laced with stockings, the last one was stuffed full and had his name on it. He couldn't say that it bothered him, he liked getting things, but it was a surprise. These people hadn't even known him before yesterday, which meant that they'd had to have gone out last night after leaving the hospital. The tree in the back corner of the room was decorated with blinking lights, garland and enough ornaments to almost be gaudy. Rodney decided that what saved the tree from being hideous were all the home made ornaments, probably from all the kids.

"Look here," Sarah said and pointed at another picture. "This was when Dave failed his tenth grade math class. Dad said that even though it wasn't one of his greater moments it had to be documented for posterity. I call it black mail material; he's going to be pissed when he finds out that I showed it to you."

"Dave has always been horrible at math," Claire said as she walked through the living room with a tray of mugs.

Rodney was happy to be getting this look into Dave's history, but he was quickly realizing that a life with the man would be pretty much impossible. First, he was allergic to cats and there wasn't an animal that Rodney loved more. The math thing though, that was what really turned the light on for Rodney. There was no way he'd be able to make a life with someone who wouldn't understand what he was talking about when he told them how his day had gone.

"Hello family,"

Rodney looked up at the unfamiliar voice. Coming through the doorway into the living room was a tall dark skinned man with ridiculous dark hair that stuck out of his head in every direction. Rodney had to force himself to close his mouth and take a deep breath, the last thing he needed was for the family to see him drooling over another man.

"John," Sarah squealed and jumped out of the chair.

"Hey kiddo," John replied as he lifted her off the floor in the biggest hug Rodney had ever seen. "Hey, who's this?"

Rodney swallowed hard and stood up, holding his hand out to the man. "I'm Dr. Rodney McKay."

"Doctor?" John looked worried. "Why's a doctor here?" he asked Sarah.

"Oh, I'm not a medical doctor," Rodney told him. "I'm a scientist, astrophysics actually."

"Whoa, that's some pretty intense stuff."

"Yeah, well not so much actually."

"So, not to be rude but, why are you here?"

"Oh he's Dave's fiancé," Sarah supplied.

John looked at Rodney, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open. "Really?"

"Yeah," Sarah told him. "None of us knew."

"John? Patrick, John's here," Claire yelled just before she wrapped her arms around him.

"Hey mom," John greeted, kissing the top of her head. "How's Dave?"

Rodney watched the exchange, his heart warming just a little. If he'd known there was someone in the family that was even more beautiful than Dave he wouldn't have had such a hard time telling the truth. John Sheppard was the most beautiful person on the face of the earth, and Rodney was stuck in a one way relationship with his brother.

"Dinner's ready," Millie called from the dining room and everyone headed that direction.

Rodney hung back for a moment, watching as John walked away. "Why does this always happen to me?" he asked himself quietly.

"Everyone has that reaction when they see him for the first time."

Rodney jumped when Ronon spoke from behind him.

"Hell, even I had that reaction and I'm not even bi-sexual," Ronon chuckled and dropped an arm over Rodney's shoulder. "Don't worry, it'll pass."

All Rodney could do was nod as Ronon led him into the dining room.

At the table, Rodney realized that his title of 'man with the worst luck ever' still reigned supreme. He was sat directly across from John and once again something he wanted was so close that he could reach out and touch it, but he couldn't.


Rodney cleared his throat as the dishes were uncovered. He had a tightening in his chest and throat that he knew wasn't coming from John.

He looked at Claire, his eyes a little wide. "What's for dinner?" he asked with a cough.

"Oh, Dave's favorite, lemon chicken," she said.

"Shit," Rodney said and stumbled away from the table. He made it about half way to the living room when his legs gave out and he crumpled to the floor.

"Rodney!" John shouted and was at his side in a matter of seconds. "What's wrong?" he asked as he knelt down beside him.

"Lemon..." Rodney grunted, forcing the word out through his tight throat. He could barely breathe, "allergic."

"Where's your EpiPen?" John asked as if he'd known Rodney for years.


Then John was gone in a flash, only to return a moment later to stab Rodney in the leg. The relief wasn't fast enough and the world faded to grey.

Rodney could hear shouting voices for a moment longer, then there was nothing.


Rodney opened his eyes to the familiar white walls of the hospital. "It wasn't a nightmare," he said. His throat was on fire and his head was pounding, so he closed his eyes again.

"Nope, not a nightmare."

Rodney opened his eyes again and looked to the side only to find John Sheppard sitting in the chair beside his bed.

"Why didn't you tell mom that you were allergic to citrus?" John asked.

Rodney swallowed and grimaced at the pain, he didn't want to speak. "I didn't know..." he said before he fell into a coughing fit. Everything felt worse when he finally stopped."I didn't know they were serving dinner," he finished.

"I'll get the nurse," John told him and disappeared out of the room.

Rodney decided right then that there must be a God and that he hated him. Either that or the universe that he loved so much was working against him.

A moment later John returned with a nurse, thankfully one that Rodney hadn't seen yet. She checked his vitals and listened to his heart and lungs. "I'll get the doctor," she told them before heading out of the room.

"You don't have to stay," Rodney told John.

"Well, I brought you here; I may as well take you home."

Rodney sighed and nodded. He hated his life.


The doctor told him that he was lucky he'd gotten his EpiPen so fast, to which Rodney replied that he was never far from it.

"The damage is minimal," The doctor continued. "You're throat will be sore for a few hours but you'll live. I'm going to go ahead and release you, but I don't want you to be alone. Is there anyone you can stay with?"

Rodney thought about it for a second, the only person he knew who liked him enough to let him spend the night was Radek and he was busy tonight. "No," Rodney replied.

"I'll stay with him," John said.

Rodney looked at him for a long moment, unsure of what to say or even how to say it. "You don't have to do that," he said finally.

"It's no problem. Your fiancé isn't able to keep an eye on you. Either I stay with you, or you stay with my family."

Rodney sighed; he knew he'd been beat. "Alright, you can stay with me."

"Good," the doctor said happily. "I'll get your release papers and you can be on your way."

Rodney closed his eyes as the doctor walked away; he really did have the worst luck ever. It was one thing to have to pretend to be engaged to Dave for a few hours with the family, but John was going to be in his apartment all night long. Not to mention, it had been easy to pretend when he'd thought that Dave was gorgeous. Compared to John, Dave was homely at best.

If he'd lived in a normal place it wouldn't be such a big deal, but except for the bathroom, Rodney's apartment was just one big room. He had his paranoia to thank for that; when he'd gotten the apartment he thought that if he could see everything he'd feel better. That was usually the case, but tonight, seeing everything included John and Rodney wasn't sure he could keep up the act for that long. Maybe he could just say he was really tired and they'd both go to bed right away.


John's truck was nice, it was bright red with black leather interior and it smelled great. There was plenty of leg room, which Rodney thought was important when you were as tall as John. Of course John wasn't that much taller than Rodney, but he carried it better. If Rodney hadn't fallen completely in love with the man the second he saw him, he might have been intimidated.

Inside, Jennifer was coming out of the elevator as John and Rodney were going in.

"Hey Rodney," Jennifer said as she slid between the two men. "Who's this?"

"Oh, Jennifer John, John Jennifer. Good night Jennifer," Rodney waved as the elevator doors were closing.

"Oh, okay goodnight."

"That was kind of rude," John observed as they rode up to Rodney's floor.

"What was rude about it? She wanted to know who you were and I told her."

"Yeah, like she had the plague and you needed to be far far away from her."

Rodney sighed and leaned back against the wall. "Look, she's a nice kid, but that's all she really is. She's too young for me... not to mention, she doesn't have the parts I'm interested in."

"Ah, strictly gay then? No bi-curiosity for you." John smirked and Rodney's knees almost buckled.

"No," Rodney told him plainly. "I did that in college, women are too complicated. They get too emotionally invested and the second you come home late from the lab they automatically assume you've been sleeping with someone else."

"Speaking from experience huh?"

"You have no idea."

"How many women have you been with?" John asked innocently.

"What kind of question is that to ask a total stranger?"

"You're not a total stranger; you're going to be my brother in law."

Rodney barely stopped the shudder as he was reminded that as far as John knew, Rodney wasn't available. "One," he said after a moment. "Her name was Theresa Geldar and she was insane. She kind of turned me off to women from the start."

"Ever thought about trying again?" John asked as they walked out of the elevator.

"No, men are much easier to understand. Not to mention, sex isn't a one way thing with men."

"I'm sorry?" John asked as he stepped between Rodney and the door he'd stopped in front of.

Rodney looked at him and swallowed. He cleared his throat, "you know what? Never mind," he said as he pushed John to the side and unlocked the door.

"Oh no, you started it, you can't just leave it hanging like that. What did you mean?"

Rodney heard the door close behind him but he didn't turn around. He didn't want to see John looking at him, didn't want to see that they were alone in Rodney's apartment. He sighed. "Just that, with women," he said, still facing away from John. "You pretty much only get one option. The only way they can do what I want is if they wear something, and then I don't get the reaction of their mutual pleasure."

"So you like to bottom," John observed.

Just then, Stark came out of the bathroom, yowling his head off.

"I don't think this is going to work," John said.

Rodney was glad John was behind him, because he was positive that he looked disappointed. "I told you that you don't have to stay," he said, keeping his voice level. "I'll be fine."

"That's not what I meant," John replied and moved around to stand in front of Rodney. "I meant you and Dave. I don't think it's going to work."

"Wow, thank you so much for that." Rodney shook his head and headed toward the kitchen area; he needed a beer.

"I'm sorry," John said, following him a moment later. Rodney handed him a beer without asking if he wanted one, but John took it. "It's just that, you're allergic to citrus and Dave's favorite meal is lemon chicken. You obviously like cats and Dave's allergic. You like to bottom... and so does Dave."

Rodney looked at John before taking a long drink from his bottle. "How do you know that?"

"We're brothers; he told me."

"Yeah, well every relationship has its problems."

"Those are kind of major points, Rodney," John said.

"Are you saying that you don't want me to be with him?" Rodney asked, feeling angry for some reason.

"No, no I'm not saying that it's just... never mind."

"No, it's just what?" Rodney asked, taking a step closer to John.

"Well, to be honest, you're not really Dave's type."

"Yeah?" Rodney asked and drained his beer, grabbing another. "And just what is his type?"

"He likes them tall dark and dominating. He's actually kind of a freak; I'm surprised a guy like you was even interested in him."

Rodney wasn't sure what he was feeling. What John had said had hit him hard, it was the first time someone had said they were surprised he was interested in someone and not the other way around. Part of him wanted to actually believe that John was interested, but he knew better. Maybe it was the years of hearing that he wasn't good enough, or pretty enough, he'd certainly heard it enough when Jeannie had learned to talk. Someone like John couldn't possibly want someone like Rodney. Not that it mattered, John thought Rodney was in love with and engaged to his brother.

"You know, it is possible for people to change," Rodney said. He had wished people would die plenty of times, but never for real. He thought it was probably really bad for him to be thinking that everything would be much better if Dave just died in the night.

"Possible, but not probable," John told him as he took his first drink of his beer. "Dave's had a lot of boyfriends, all the same, and none have worked out. I've done the math and the possibility that Dave is going to change is astronomical. No offence to you, I'm sure you're a great guy and that's why I don't think it's going to happen for you two."

"Your vote of confidence is utterly inspiring," Rodney said as he pushed past John.

"Rodney come on," John said and Rodney looked back to see John following him toward the bed. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have said those things. I just... Rodney look at me!"

Rodney slouched and turned around. "What?" he asked.

"Look, it's obvious that you love him. You jumped on the fucking tracks with a train coming. Rodney, Dave is an asshole, and I just..." he paused and sighed, "I just don't want to see you hurt."

Rodney shook his head, how was this even his life? The man he wanted was telling him that his fake relationship wasn't going to work and Rodney couldn't tell him the truth any more than he could tell the rest of the family.

"Let's just go to bed, John," Rodney said as he moved toward the closet door. "I'll get you a blanket and pillow."

"But I haven't finished my beer," John protested.

"I don't care," Rodney replied, throwing a pillow at John's head.


When Rodney woke up John was gone. There was a note on the pillow on the couch that read: "I decided at about three am that you were going to be fine. See you later, John."

He thought about the night before as he made himself breakfast. John had been only a few feet away, and although Rodney couldn't exactly see him, he'd been able to make out his shape in the darkness. John had barely moved at all, and within half an hour after they lay down, he was asleep, Rodney could tell because John's breathing had gone shallow and even. Rodney just lay there looking in John's direction for awhile longer before he finally fell asleep too.

After breakfast, he met Radek on the bridge not far from work.

"I'm having an affair," Rodney told Radek as they leaned against the railing.

"I'm sorry?" Radek asked confused.

"I like John," Rodney said.

"Who is John?"

"Dave's brother."

Radek sighed, "Rodney, when was last time you saw Dr. Heightmeyer?"

"Shut up, Radek. I can't tell her about this, she'd have me locked up in a nut hatch by noon."

"Perhaps that is best place for you."

"I'm not crazy," Rodney protested.

"No, you are just pretending to be engaged to a vegetable while you make puppy eyes at his brother. That is the very definition of sane."

"I thought you were my friend, Radek," Rodney said, feeling a little abandoned.

"I am, but I do not know how to help you with this. I do not even know how you got into this mess."

Rodney sighed, "That makes two of us."


John was standing outside Rodney's apartment when he got home. Rodney saw him as soon as he stepped off the elevator, he was leaning against the wall, one foot pulled up so high he was practically sitting on it and the sight of him nearly took Rodney's breath away.

"Hey," Rodney greeted as he walked down the hall.

John looked up, a smile on his face. "Hey," he replied and stood up straight. "Sorry I ran out on you this morning, I uh-"

"No need to explain," Rodney cut him off. "It didn't feel like a one night stand or anything, and I had told you that you didn't have to stay in the first place." Rodney sighed, knowing he just sounded like a dick, so he added, "but thank you."

John nodded and looked down at the floor. "Anyway, the hospital called this morning and said that it was customary for friends and family to give blood. Everyone else already did it but I was busy this morning so I thought, if you hadn't donated yet, maybe we could go together."

Rodney just looked at him for a moment, torn between doing anything John wanted and his fear of donating blood. There was really no way of knowing what they did with the blood once they got it, and Rodney was a genius so they could use it to make a little genius clone for evil purposes or something.

"Then, since we really haven't gotten to know each other, I thought we could have an early dinner," John added.

"Sure," Rodney said. This sounded suspiciously like a date, and Rodney thought that it was probably a bad idea, but it was John.

"Great, come on then."

Rodney nodded and followed John back to the elevator.

They took John's truck and within half an hour of meeting John outside his apartment, Rodney had a needle stuck in his arm.

"How do I know that you're not going to do something awful with my blood?" Rodney asked.

"Like what?" the nurse questioned.

"I don't know, like make an evil clone of me."

"Why would we do that?"

"Because I'm a genius."

"Right, well all I can do is promise," she said as she walked away.

"That's not good enough," Rodney called after her.

John chuckled and Rodney looked over at him. "What?" he asked.

"You really work that whole paranoia thing don't you?" John asked from the bed beside Rodney's.

"Well they don't ever tell you where the blood goes," Rodney defended.

"Into people who need it I'd assume," John replied.

"Or so they want us to think."

John laughed again and shook his head. "Alright, let's talk about something to take your mind off it."

"Like what?" Rodney asked.

"When did you meet Dave?"

"September sixteenth," Rodney said, remembering the first time he'd seen Dave on the platform.

"Wow, only three months huh? That's pretty fast."

"You have no idea."

"So what was the first thing you noticed about him?"

Rodney sighed, it was one thing to talk about those things with Dave's parents, but this was John. "His mouth," Rodney said truthfully. It had been the first thing he noticed, unlike with John, where his mouth had been the second or third thing. John's hair was what had caught Rodney's eye the moment he'd seen him. If he didn't know they were brothers, he wouldn't have guessed; they were so different. Dave's lips were thin and tight, John's were full and loose and utterly gorgeous.

"You know those aren't his real teeth, right?" John asked.

"What?" Rodney asked, being pulled out of his mental observations.

"They're caps. Dave had the worst teeth in history, even braces couldn't straighten them."

"You have nice teeth," Rodney said without meaning to.

John smiled, showing off his beautiful teeth, the bottom ones were less perfect. "Thanks, the braces worked for me."

Rodney couldn't help but smile back.


"So tell me about your family," John said after he and Rodney were shown to a table. Rodney had always wanted to go to The Turtle Club, but it wasn't the kind of place you go by yourself.

"Why?" Rodney asked as he accepted the drink menu from their waiter.

"Well you've met my family," John replied.

"You're not the one I'm marrying." Rodney could have licked a lemon at that moment; instead he just bit the inside of his mouth.

"Touché," John said and looked at their server. "We'll have a bottle of white wine."

"You're driving, John," Rodney said but he nodded at the waiter. "I'm not riding with you if you drink."

"So we'll leave the car here and walk. Has Dave met your family?"

"What?" Rodney asked, losing track of the conversation at the idea of spending more time with John.

"You won't tell me about your family because I'm not the one you're marrying, so has Dave met them?"

"No," Rodney said.

"Why not?"

"Because my parents are dead and my sister hates me," Rodney said truthfully.

"Oh she doesn't hate you."

"Trust me, John; she hates me just like everyone else does."

"Well I don't hate you," John told him with the smirk that made Rodney forget to breathe. "And I'm sure Dave doesn't hate you either."

Rodney shook his head and looked down at the table. "Dave doesn't even really know me," he said under his breath. When he looked back up, John had an expression that Rodney couldn't read, and he was staring at Rodney. "You know, who really knows anyone?" he tried to recover.

After a moment, John just smiled and shrugged. "I guess you have a point," he said, and Rodney could swear he sounded a little disappointed.

"So what do you do?" Rodney asked, wanting to do anything to take that look off John's face.

"Well, there's the family business," John told him.

"You don't sound very enthusiastic about that."

John shrugged and leaned back in his seat. The waiter brought their bottle, poured a glass for each of them and put the bottle in a bucket of ice beside the table.

"Are you ready to order?" the waiter, Todd, asked.

Rodney looked at the menu that was still folded and shook his head. "Give us a few minutes?" he asked.

"Of course," Todd said and walked away.

"Maybe we should actually look at the menu," John suggested and picked his up.

Rodney nodded and did the same and it was quiet for a while as they each decided. Todd came back and took their order, then John refilled their glasses.

"So, the family business," Rodney urged John to continue.

"Oh, right," John said and rolled his eyes. "Buying out bankrupt companies isn't what I want to do with my life. I mean, most of the companies that my father buys are family owned. A lot of them were built on the blood, sweat and tears of someone's father or grandfather and then we sweep in at the slightest sign of financial trouble."

"But they get paid for their company, right?" Rodney asked.

"Yeah, but it's not much in the long run. Not when you consider that if they kept the company they'd be making more money over the years."

"But if they can't afford to keep the company afloat isn't it a better decision to sell and make a profit than to keep it and flounder until they have nothing?"

John sighed and shook his head. "You think just like Dave. He's all about taking something from the little guy and putting more money into his own pocket than giving someone a hand."

Rodney was hurt by that, he hadn't been thinking that. "That's not what I was saying," he protested. "What I was saying, was that... look, never mind that. Couldn't you take over your father's company and do things differently? Instead of buying a company couldn't you sort of assist them? You know, give them a hand while they pay you a certain amount for your help and after a set period of time, if they're still doing poorly, they have the decision to sell to you or keep it without your assistance."

"And if they're not still doing poorly?" John asked.

"Well of course they could still make the same decision, or they could just cut the ties and be done with you."

John smiled as he shook his head. "I was right," he said.

"About what?"

"You and Dave aren't going to work."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "So what would you rather be doing instead of running your father's company?"

"Actually, I was thinking about going back to school."

Rodney had to push down the bile of disappointment at the knowledge that John was a high school dropout. "Yeah?" he asked. "Studying what?"

John shrugged and Rodney's heart sank a little further. "Well, I have my Masters in applied mathematics, so I was trying to decide to go for my doctorate, or starting aeronautical engineering."

Rodney had to bite his lip again before he did something awful... like come in his pants. It was ridiculous, the brother he thought he wanted was apparently dumb as a box of rocks and the one he couldn't have had a degree in math.

"What do you want?" he asked after a moment.

John shrugged again, "I like planes," he said simply.

"Well there you go. Be brave, go after what you want."

John smiled and nodded, "That's good advice," he said.

"Yeah, I should take it."


Dinner was good and they drank the entire bottle of wine. Miraculously, Rodney didn't say a thing when he caught sight of the check John insisted on getting.

Yeah, totally a date, Rodney thought. The question was; was John trying to set him up or feel him out? Either way, it probably didn't mean good things for Rodney, so he'd have to be careful. The problem with that was that he was completely comfortable around John and he didn't even have to think before he spoke, which wasn't good at any time, but especially when you were on a date with your fake fiancé's brother.

"So what do you do?" John asked as they walked. They weren't exactly heading toward Rodney's apartment but that didn't bother him, it wasn't too cold yet.

"I'm a scientist."

"Yeah, you said that already, but what do you do?"

"Well I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you."

John laughed and Rodney lost his breath again. Spending time with John couldn't be good for his brain.

"So, top secret government scientist making evil clones with all the blood of people who donate without thinking to ask what's going to happen with their blood?"

"Exactly," Rodney joked.

"I knew it!" John exclaimed.

"What about you?" Rodney asked, looking over at John. "You mentioned wanting to go back to school and not wanting to run your dad's business, but you never said what you do now."

John shrugged, "nothing really," he told Rodney.

"Oh I don't buy that for a second. You left my apartment in the wee hours of the morning but you didn't donate blood with your family because you were busy. You had to be doing something." Rodney regretted saying that the moment it was out of his mouth. For all he knew John was married with kids, or at least in a serious relationship with someone. He really had no right to ask about John's life, and he wasn't sure he really wanted to know about it.

John didn't answer right away and Rodney didn't ask again. After a moment, John hissed in a breath and blew it out in a long cloud of white smoke, a testament to how much time had passed since they'd left the restaurant. It was already much colder and the sun hadn't even set yet.

"I used to be in the Air Force," John said in a rush. "I'd seen quite a bit of action before I left and sometimes I have nightmares. I left your apartment because I didn't want to sleep there and have a nightmare and wake you up. You needed your rest. I didn't donate with my family because I went home and crashed. I didn't have any nightmares though."

Rodney took a deep breath and looked at John again. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked."

"No, it's okay," John replied without looking at Rodney. "It's just that it's kind of embarrassing, I'm a grown man who has nightmares that wake people up."

"It's understandable though. I mean I've never been in the military, but I've seen movies that may or may not be accurate. If you did the things that those actors pretended to do... I can understand why you'd have nightmares."

"Some movies are more accurate than others," John said softly.

Rodney nodded but he didn't respond, and they fell into a silence. Rodney snuck little glances at John from time to time as they walked. Sometimes John would be looking at him, other times he'd be looking ahead or at the ground. Rodney wanted to take him by the shoulders and kiss him until his lips cramped up, but he didn't.

By the time they actually got around to heading toward Rodney's apartment it was late and the sun had gone down. Rodney blew into his hands and wrapped his arms around himself.

"You look cold," John observed.

"That's probably because I am," Rodney told him. "You're powers of observation are astounding."

John laughed, "What can I say? Some of us are geniuses in other ways."

"I'll be in the front row when you get the Nobel for observational genius."

"I'm going to hold you to that."

"I won't hold my breath."

"Probably a good idea," John laughed. He shivered and patted his arms. "We better talk more before our teeth start chattering."

"It was your idea to walk," Rodney said with a smile.

"So it was. Alright, I'll choose the topic, um... if you could be anywhere but here, where would you be?"

"That's the topic you chose?" Rodney scoffed.

"It's all that came to mind on short notice."

Rodney laughed and shook his head. "Okay, not Canada," he replied.

"Really? Why not? I hear Canada is pretty nice."

"It is, but that's where I was born, and more importantly it's where my sister is."

"You really think she hates you." John said.

"I know she does," Rodney replied. "I'm not upset about it or anything, I don't like her very much either. We're just not... sibling material. I think each of us was meant to be an only child."

"You sure it's not just sibling rivalry?"

Rodney shook his head. "We haven't spoken in ten years, and before that it was rarely anything nice."

"Family's important, Rodney," John said, stopping to lean against the wall of a building. "Maybe you should call your sister and invite her down. You know, once Dave wakes up. I'm sure she'd love to meet him."

Rodney stood in front of John, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans. "That's the last thing I should do. Besides, you have a good family, that's why you think it's important."

John shrugged and ducked his head, "Maybe."

Rodney got the impression that there was something John wasn't saying, but he didn't want to push the issue. "Come on, it's freezing out here."

They continued walking toward Rodney's apartment building, making conversation along the way. They each changed the subject when they came upon a topic they didn't want to talk about, neither pressing for more information.

"Shit," John cursed when they reached Rodney's building. The walkway was covered in a thick sheet of ice. "Alright, let's go."

"You don't have to come up with me," Rodney said.

"Well I brought you this far, I may as well take you the rest of the way. I don't like leaving things unfinished."

Rodney shrugged but he stepped onto the ice. Beside him, John did the same.

"All we need now are skates," John joked as his feet slipped a little.

"You know how to ice skate?" Rodney asked, carefully concentrating on his steps.

"Yeah," John replied. "I played hockey for a while when I was younger."

"I think I like you more for knowing that," Rodney said, finally looking up at John rather than at the ice below him.

John looked up too and smiled, an instant before his eyes went wide and his feet slipped. Grunting, he grabbed for Rodney, wrapping his arms around Rodney's waist.

"Do not take me with you," Rodney demanded. "I have a bad back and a fall like this could have me in bed for a week."

John let out a small laugh and pulled his feet back under him, straightening himself. "Well we wouldn't want that," he said.

"Exactly. Now- shit!" Rodney squeaked as his own feet slipped. He grabbed John's shoulders and kept himself upright, but just barely as he couldn't get his feet to cooperate. His left foot slid one direction as his right slid in the other. As he pulled them back together, one slid forward while the other slid backward. John's hands we a warm weight on Rodney's waist, holding tight as he tried to keep his own footing.

Their gazes locked as Rodney finally got his legs under control and stood up. His hands were still on John's shoulders and John's hands hadn't left Rodney's waist, they were still barely beating the ice at its evil winter game. In that moment, Rodney knew that if John were to move toward him, as if for a kiss, Rodney wouldn't stop him. He hoped John would make the move; it would save Rodney from having to waste time trying to work up the courage to tell the truth.

They just stared at one another for a long moment, each still slipping comically on the ice. Their visible breath was the only thing that told Rodney that it was still cold. The heat radiating from the spots where John's hands were resting was spreading quickly to warm Rodney's entire body. John dipped his head, his eyes never leaving Rodney's, and Rodney saw the pink tip of John's tongue as he licked his lips.

Rodney tipped his head slightly to the side and parted his lips just a little, hoping, wanting John to move forward. John's eyes were sparkling and his lips were just a bit wet and Rodney wanted him, more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. His heart was pounding in his chest and he was about to take Jeannie's advice and just take what he wanted when John cleared his throat and looked away.

Rodney sighed, looking back down toward the ice, what had he been thinking?

"Come on," John said and started moving toward the building again. "This is ridiculous, we're grown men and we can't even cross a little patch of ice."

Rodney stepped carefully, not wanting to fall and bruise his ass as well as his ego. Just as Rodney lifted his foot to take another step, John let out a rather unmanly sounding squeal, and the next thing Rodney knew they were both on the ground.

"Damn," John groaned. "I think I tore a muscle."

"Was that what that sound was?" Rodney asked, unable to keep from laughing.

"I think so," John replied.

Rodney lifted his head and saw that they were within a few feet of the salted sidewalk. "I got this," he said as he lifted himself onto his hands and knees and crawled like a toddler.

"Very sophisticated," John laughed as he reached for the hand Rodney was holding out to him.

"Hey, if it works..." Rodney defended as he dragged John across the ice and to the safety of the de-iced bit of the walk.

They stood up and Rodney saw what had made the ripping sound when they fell.

"Um..." he said and pointed to the seat of John's pants. "I don't think it was a muscle you tore."

"Aw damn," John said, reaching behind him to feel the tear. "I thought it felt a little cooler out here. You wouldn't happen to have an extra pair of pants would you?"

Rodney smiled, wondering how corny it would be to make a joke about John wanting to get into his pants. After a second of thought he decided to forgo that mistake and just nodded instead. "Yeah, come on up."


John followed him into the apartment and closed the door. Rodney couldn't let himself think about what had just happened, or almost happened, or could have happened. The apartment was warm, but with the absence of John's hands, Rodney still felt cold and he wanted to be warm again. He wanted John's hands on him, wanted to be close to John again, he wanted so much more than he could have, so he moved toward the closet without saying a word.

"I don't think I told you that you have a nice place," John said from behind him.

"Thank you," Rodney said even though he knew John was probably lying. Even Rodney didn't really think he had a nice place. It wasn't horrible, but he'd definitely seen better. "Here," he turned around and handed John the sweat pants he'd dug out of the back of the closet. "They'll probably be too big, but at least your ass won't be hanging out."

John chuckled and reached for the dark grey pants, his fingers brushing Rodney's as he took them.

Rodney looked at John, and John looked back, not moving away. Rodney's heart was racing, either he was reading too much into things, or John really was interested in him. Rodney had to be brave, he had to reach out and take what he wanted while he was standing in front of him. The thought of rejection from John though, cut Rodney to the bone.

"John," Rodney breathed when it looked like John was about to turn away like he had in the courtyard.

"Yeah?" John whispered back, still looking into Rodney's eyes.

Rodney swallowed; he wanted John so bad his body ached for him. "You were in the military," Rodney said.

"Yeah," John replied.

"You were discharged?"

John swallowed and Rodney heard it. "Yeah."

"Why?" Rodney was moving closer to John, he couldn't stop himself.

John's breathing was shaky and unsteady. "Because I'm gay and they found out," he said.

Rodney let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. That was the answer he'd been hoping for. Then John's hands were on his waist again, pulling him forward and Rodney went willingly.

John's lips were soft and warm against Rodney's, his tongue slick and firm as it slid into Rodney's mouth. Rodney wrapped his arms around John's shoulders and pulled him closer. The kiss was frantic, like they'd both been starving for it their entire lives.

John grunted and pressed his hips forward and Rodney felt the hard heat of John's erection. He let out his own soft grunt in reply, and pushed John back toward the bed. He couldn't believe this was happening; this was exactly what he wanted and it looked like, for the first time in his life, things were going to work out for him.

They eased down onto the bed and John rolled over, pressing Rodney into the mattress. They continued kissing, the sound of smacking lips and soft moans filling the room as John slid forward and back, rubbing their confined erections together.

It had been ages since Rodney had had sex with anything other than his hand, and he could already feel his orgasm building. It was going to be utterly embarrassing if he came in his pants just from a little kissing and rubbing.

He turned his head, tearing his lips away from John's. "John," Rodney moaned and lifted his hips against John's.

John leaned up and looked down at Rodney, his lips red and swollen, his hair even messier than usual. "Rodney," he said and blew out a harsh breath.

Rodney watched as John's face changed right before he pushed off of Rodney and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Jesus, Rodney, I'm sorry," John said, putting his head in his hands.

Rodney sat up and looked at John. "Why?" he asked.

John looked at him, "Dave," was all he said.

Rodney swallowed; he had to tell John, had to make John understand how things had gotten as far as they had. "John, I have to tell you-" he was cut off by the sound of John's phone ringing.

John kept staring at Rodney, sorrow and disappointment on his face. Then he dug into his pocket and pulled out his phone. "Sheppard," he said.

Rodney sat there, thinking about how to tell him, what to say. What if John thought he was a pathetic loser and left anyway? What if John didn't really like Rodney? What if all this was about John wanting the things Dave had? There were so many questions that didn't have answers, but Rodney'd had a taste of John, and now he wanted all of him.

"Okay," John said with a nod, "we'll be right there." He looked at Rodney, a forced smile on his lips. "Dave's awake."

Rodney's heart sank as John stood up and took the sweat pants into the bathroom. He'd wanted to tell John before Dave woke up. If he was still in a coma, Rodney could maybe make John understand how things had gotten away from him. They were all no doubt expecting Rodney to be in the room, and when Dave looked at him and asked why the hell some random guy from the train was in his room... he'd never even get to explain.

John came out of the bathroom wearing Rodney's old sweat pants, and Rodney wanted to cry. He'd been this close to getting what he wanted.

"Rodney," John said as they were heading down the hall toward the elevator. "I'm sorry about what just happened. I know it's wrong for me to ask this but, do you think maybe you can keep it from Dave? I don't him to think that I was trying to take you away from him."

"John," Rodney said as the doors closed and they began their decent to the first floor. "John I-"

"He deserves to be happy," John said interrupting him. "And I think maybe you're the thing he needs to be that way."

Rodney's stomach hurt and his heart ached. He was dying to just grab John and shake him, screaming in his face that it was never real. He hadn't even known Dave when he saved him, but for some reason, his voice wasn't working and his throat was so tight he could barely breathe.

"John," Rodney finally managed as they hurried through the lobby.

"Yeah?" John asked, stopping to zip his jacket and pull his hat over his ears.

"I have to tell you something."

"Not now," John said in a rush. "We have to go, no car remember."

"Oh," Rodney sighed a second before John was practically pulling him out of the building. They cut through the snow piled high on the grass so they wouldn't have to cross the ice again.

John was relentless, yanking on Rodney's arm as they ran down the street and toward the hospital. Rodney was reminded that John was Dave's brother, and that he loved him. John was concerned for Dave's well being, and even thought John didn't want Dave to know that he and Rodney kissed, he was happy and excited that Dave was awake again.

Rodney looked at John, watched as his ridiculous hair blew slightly in the wind caused by the speed of their running. His chest tightened even further when he realized that these were probably the last moments he'd get to spend with John. In less than an hour, Rodney would be alone again.

He stopped running, nearly falling as John kept running, and clutched his chest, his breaths coming in hot and heavy. John turned to face him.

"Fuck, Rodney, you're not asthmatic are you? Dave will kill me if I bring him back a dead boyfriend."

Rodney squeezed his eyes closed at the words and shook his head.

"Heart attack?" John asked breathlessly.

"No," Rodney managed. "I need to tell you-"

"Come on then," John grabbed his hand and they started running again. "Tell me after we see Dave."


By the time they reached the hospital, Rodney had a sharp stitch in his side and was so out of breath that he couldn't speak if it would save his life. John pulled him into the elevator when the doors opened and Rodney watched as he pushed the button for the fourth floor.

The entire family was standing outside the elevator when the doors opened again, and Rodney wished that the cables would snap and he'd plunge to a very happy death.

"Come on, come on," Claire urged as she grabbed Rodney's hand and pulled him down the hall.

Rodney's heart was racing as they went into the room and surrounded the bed. Dave was sitting up talking to a nurse and Rodney realized that he wasn't as pretty as he'd been the last time he'd been there.

He leaned back just a bit and looked through the open door at the exit sign that was just barely visible from his position. He wondered how fast he'd be able to make it there and down the stairs. If he was fast enough, the family wouldn't even realize he was gone until he was out of the hospital. He took a deep breath and the stitch in his side pinched him hard, and he realized that there was no way he'd be able to make it.

After another moment, the nurse patted Dave's shoulder and walked away. Dave smiled and looked at his family members, Rodney watched as his eyes moved from one person to the next and the next until Dave was looking straight at him. Rodney bit his lip and straightened a little, and he could feel his fight or flight response trying to kick in.

"Who's he?" Dave asked and Rodney took a step back only to bump into a wall. He turned his head to see that it wasn't a wall, but Ronon.

"Oh, shit," Rodney groaned.

"Oh my God," Patrick said and pulled his wife close to him. "He has amnesia."

"I do?" Dave asked.

"That's Rodney," Sarah said. "Don't you remember him?"

Dave looked at Rodney, squinted his eyes and tipped his head to the left just a little. "He does look a little familiar."

"He's your boyfriend you idiot," Millie said.

"He is?" Dave asked, and Rodney thought he looked just the tiniest bit disgusted.

Rodney was barely standing, his muscles were quivering and his heart was pounding so hard it almost hurt.

'Fraidy cat!' Jeannie said in his head, and Rodney heard it as clearly as if she'd been standing in the room.

'Don't be a cowardly custard,' his mother backed Jeannie up. It was what she'd always told him when he was too scared to do something that Jeannie did very well, like dive off the high board.

'Rodney's a fraidy cat, fraidy cat, fraidy cat. Rodney's a fraidy cat too scared to move.' Jeannie sang in her teasing voice.

'You can't let fear run your life, Rodney,' his father told him encouragingly just before he died. 'You'll never be happy if you're not brave enough to go after what you want.'

Rodney took a deep shaking breath and looked at John. John was looking back him, his eyes dark and his mouth drawn down at the corners.

"Wait," Rodney said and his voice was so small that even he barely heard it.

"What was that dear?" Claire asked.

Rodney cleared his throat and closed his eyes, taking another deep breath. He pushed all the voices from his past away, but he held onto his father's supportive words. He'd been right, after all, the only thing Rodney had ever reached for was science, and as much as he loved his work, it wasn't enough to make him completely happy. He opened his eyes again and looked at John before sliding his gaze to Patrick and Claire.

"I have to tell you something," he said, his voice a little stronger than before. He took another breath and said, "I'm in love with your son."

"We know that," Millie said. "Are you feeling alright?"

"No, not Dave. I'm in love with John."

"What?" Patrick almost shouted. "John, what did you do?"

Rodney looked at John, his eyes were as big as saucers and he looked a little scared.

"John didn't do anything, it was all me," Rodney told them. "I was never engaged to Dave," He said in a rush. "I wanted to tell you, but things moved so fast, and you were all so nice to me and I felt like I belonged in a family again, and I haven't felt that in a long time. I hadn't even spoken to Dave before that day on the train platform." He took another deep breath and blew it out.

"Rodney," John said softly. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"I wanted to, but I didn't know how."

"john?" Patrick asked and John looked at him.

"Yeah dad," John said. "I think... I... well-"

Patrick groaned, flopped down in the chair in the corner and looked at John. "I thought you had found yourself on the wrong end of one too many bar fights. You know they don't send anything home that says "your son was dishonorably discharged for being gay." Why didn't you ever tall me, John?"

Rodney looked over at John, who looked like he wanted to answer his father's question, but didn't know how. Rodney felt horrible; he hadn't meant things to end this way. Patrick cleared his throat and drew Rodney's attention back to him, he was looking at Rodney.

"Don't get me wrong," Patrick said to him. "I love John just as much as all my other kids, but apparently I'm plagued with gay sons." He rolled his eyes and dropped his head back onto the chair. "Sarah, you'd better have a son before you're married so he can be called Sheppard."

"Dad," Sarah complained, embarrassed.

Rodney looked at John who was staring back at him, his face wide open with emotion. In that face, Rodney could see the hurt and betrayal John felt. Rodney supposed John was pretty disgusted with him and Rodney couldn't really blame him, he was disgusted with himself. As John stared at him, Rodney saw his happiness slip away. He'd been so happy with John, he knew that he could spend the rest of his life with John, and regardless of whatever problems came up, it wouldn't matter. That was over now, he'd ruined his chances with John, and even if he still wanted Dave, he'd ruined his chances with him too. After what felt like a hundred years, Rodney took a deep breath; John was still staring at him. "I'm sorry," Rodney mouthed before backing away and walking out of the room. No one followed him.


"Rodney, what are you doing?" Radek asked the next day as Rodney was putting his things in a box.

Rodney shook his head, Radek was his friend but Rodney didn't want to talk to anyone at the moment. "I'm leaving," he finally replied, pulling a stack of papers out of his desk drawer and shoving them into his briefcase.

Radek pushed himself between Rodney and the box, and stared at him. "We are this close to winning the Nobel, you cannot just quit."

Rodney stared back for a moment before shaking his head. "We're nowhere near winning the Nobel, Radek. There are several more months worth of calculations to do, not to mention the hundreds of simulations that will fail, causing the calculations to be redone, followed by more simulations."

"Rodney," Radek sighed, "I have never seen you like this. Talk to me my friend, do not just leave."

"I have to, Radek," Rodney told him, turning around; he pulled the picture of his cat off the wall. "You can finish the project, I have faith in you." He put the picture in the box and turned to get his favorite dry erase markers. "I can't stay here anymore."

"Is this because of what happened with Mr. Wonderful?" Radek asked quietly and Rodney turned to face him.

"No," he answered just as softly and sat down in the computer chair. "No it's not about Dave. This has nothing to do with him, although, I guess that's not right. I wouldn't be where I am right now if it hadn't been for him. The problem is," Rodney was staring at the wall behind Radek now, no longer talking to him, but coming to a realization himself. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing."

"Rodney," Radek began, moving closer to him. "You have never taken vacation. You have time, take it. Get away, take a break and come back in the New Year with a fresh mind. Do not leave because some man broke your heart. This is not you, you are better than this, you are a better man than him."

Rodney took a deep breath and sighed it out. "Dave didn't break my heart, Radek, and neither did John. I did this to myself. But, after all these years, I've finally learned to be brave. I know how to reach out and grab the things I want. I was afraid before, that the things I wanted wouldn't want me back, and now I know that even if that's the case, life goes on."

"What happened, Rodney? Tell me, what has you this way?"

Rodney took a deep breath and closed his eyes, remembering everything with vivid detail. "John and I had a great time, it was perfect, the kind of thing I'd always thought about. We talked and laughed and joked and it was wonderful. In the end, we came this close to having sex, and it was what I wanted, I wanted John, so very badly. Then Dave woke up. I tried to tell John that I wasn't ever engaged to Dave, but he wouldn't let me talk. He was in such a rush to get to the hospital to see his brother that he just dragged me down the street. I ended up telling the entire family right there in the hospital room."

"How did they take it?" Radek asked when Rodney stopped talking.

"Well, first of all, his dad didn't even know he was gay, I outed John in front of his whole family. After that, I was so intent on John that I didn't even care about the others. John looked so... confused and hurt, but mostly he looked betrayed, like I'd ripped his heart out and fed it feral cats. I apologized and left. I waited for him, I stood outside the hospital for almost an hour, waiting for him to come out and tell me that he felt the same way. He never did."

"What are you going to do now?" Radek asked.

"I don't know," Rodney replied truthfully. "The Athos Corporation has been trying to get their hooks in me for as long as I can remember. They're offering to double the amount I make here, give me everything I want and I get to publish as many journals as I want. I could probably talk them into tripling my pay if I wanted."

"Are you going to try?"

Rodney shrugged, "I don't know. I really don't know what to do right now. I was thinking I'd take some time, maybe go see my sister. I'll probably change my mind as soon as the plane gets in the air and I'll get on the first flight out without ever even leaving the airport in Vancouver. But I've been told that family is important, and I think I owe it to myself to see if Jeanie has changed any."

"I will certainly miss you, my friend," Radek said and held out his hand to shake.

Rodney took the hand and pulled Radek into a hug. "I'll keep in touch; you're not getting rid of me that easily."

"You'd better stay in touch. If not, I will ruin your project on purpose."

"Oh you won't, it's as much your project as it is... was mine."

"This is true."

Rodney smiled, picked up his box and clapped Radek on the shoulder. "See you later, Radek."

"Good bye, Rodney."

Rodney left the building without looking back. It was time to move on with his life. It had been a busy month for him, he'd spoken to, saved the life of, and got engaged to the man he thought he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Then he met the man he really did want to spend the rest of his life with, had a fantastic time with him, and then ruined his chances because he'd been too chicken shit to tell the truth.

He was finished being afraid, he'd learned that his father was right. He was never going to be happy if he didn't take what he wanted. Now though, with John out of the picture, Rodney wasn't sure what the chances were that he'd really be happy, but he guessed he had to try.


Rodney took a deep breath as he looked around his empty apartment. He was really going through with this; he was walking away from the life he'd been comfortable in for the last several years. With one last glance at the clean spots on the walls, he turned toward the door. It was time to go.


Rodney jumped at the unexpected voice that greeted him as soon as he opened his front door. He found himself face to face with John. He was just as beautiful as ever, although he looked tired. "Hey," he responded.

"You're leaving," John observed as he looked over Rodney's shoulder and into the empty apartment.

"Yeah," Rodney said.

"Where are you going?"

"I don't know." Rodney wanted to pull John into the apartment and fuck him on whatever surface he could find, even if it were the floor. He couldn't do that though. John apparently had something on his mind, why else would he be standing in front of Rodney's apartment? Rodney pushed away all his wants and focused on John's eyes. " John, what are you doing here?" he asked.

John shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at the floor for a moment before meeting Rodney's eyes again. "I came to... do you think..." He sighed and shook his head. "Can we talk, Rodney? Just for a little bit."

'This is not a good idea,' Rodney's mind screamed at him, but of course Rodney didn't listen. He just looked at him for a long time before he finally nodded. "Yeah, but not here. I have to turn in my key." Being alone with John was the absolute worst idea ever.

John just nodded and stepped out of the way so Rodney could walk past him.

"There's a coffee house down the street, it's usually pretty empty this time of day," Rodney said as they walked toward the elevator. "We can talk there."

Rodney gave his key to a teary eyed Jennifer, and she threw herself in his arms as she handed him an envelope. "I'm going to miss you," she sobbed into his shoulder.

Rodney hugged her back for a moment, patting her shoulder until she pulled away, sniffling.

"You're deposit is in the envelope," she said, seeming to sober a bit. She looked past him at John and her face went stony. "You take care of him, or I will find you and you'll wish you'd never met me."

Rodney started to protest that he wasn't moving in with John, but Jennifer closed the door before he could get out a single word.

"Wow," John said. "She's a pistol."

"She's something," Rodney replied and headed toward the front of the building.


Rodney ordered himself a large black coffee and followed John to the table in the back corner. He'd been right, it was pretty empty here. The only other person was in the front of the coffee shop pecking away at their laptop and paying John and Rodney no mind at all.

Rodney sighed and pulled the lid off his coffee cup so it could cool. He didn't want to look at John, he still wanted him after all, and he'd had this conversation several times in his head. Each imagined talk with John had a different scenario but they all ended with John pissed that Rodney had taken advantage of his family during that rough time in their lives. Rodney had tried to imagine a conversation with John where he wasn't upset, but he wasn't able to make it happen. He supposed that was because he was a little pissed himself, so John had to be practically livid. Besides, why wouldn't John be mad at him? If nothing else, Rodney could have told John right when they started kissing, and they could have had gloriously hot sex, but he hadn't. That was enough to piss anyone off. Reluctantly, Rodney looked up at John and asked, "What did you want to talk about?"

"Look, Rodney," John began, looking down into his own coffee cup rather than at Rodney. "I don't really know how to say this, I've been thinking about it since the other night at the hospital and I haven't come up with any brilliant ways to tell you."

"John," Rodney cut him off. "You don't have to. I'm sorry that I didn't tell you the truth before I did, I was trying but you wouldn't let me. I'm sorry I embarrassed you in front of your family, and I'm sorry you had to be outed the way you were. I also know that you were in an emotional place, your entire family was. Nothing happened between us so there isn't anything you have to explain."

"Rodney," John said, holding up a hand. "Will you let me talk for a minute?"

Rodney just looked at John for a moment, taking in the dark circles under his eyes, he looked tired but he didn't look angry. "Sorry, go ahead," Rodney apologized, just a bit hopeful that John wasn't secretly thinking about taking him into the ally and beating the crap out of him.

"You said nothing happened between us, but that's not right-"

Rodney shook his head frantically, he just couldn't keep his mouth shut. "A few kisses don't really count as-"

"Rodney," John said a warning in his tone.

"Sorry." He looked down into his cup again and made a conscious effort to keep quiet.

John was quiet for awhile, as if expecting Rodney to start talking again the moment he said a word. Finally John sighed, but it was another moment before he spoke. "Something did happen," he said, and something in his tone caught Rodney's attention and made him sit up straighter. John continued without missing a beat, "I had fun, I found someone I could laugh with, and that's something I've always looked for but never found. I wanted to come after you when you left the hospital, but my brother had just come out of a coma. There was a little drama in the room and my family had about a million questions."

Rodney nodded, he didn't doubt that his family had questions. Rodney had just let them know that their US Military son was gay. He just looked at John, unsure of what to say, he was concentrating on continuing to breathe, his heart was beating too fast and his head was spinning. He wasn't sure what John was trying to tell him, but it sounded like the very thing Rodney wanted to hear. "What are you saying?" he finally managed.

"I'm saying that I'm in love with you, Rodney," John told him and leaned over the table just a little, as if trying to get closer to him. "I'm saying that the last few days have been the best of my life. For so long, while I was in the military, I had to hide who I was so I could do the thing I loved the most. When I got out, it was still hard for me to really be myself, because being who I was had cost me the sky and that was a price I hadn't wanted to pay. But for the first time in a long time... Rodney, I don't miss it when I'm with you. You make it easy to be me, and that hasn't ever happened."

John stopped talking and looked at Rodney so hard that Rodney wanted to look away, but he didn't. He forced his gaze to meet John's and he didn't see anything but emotion and the truth in those beautiful hazel eyes. After a short moment, John shrugged and shook his head slightly. "Rodney, I'm saying that I don't care what really happened or didn't happen between you and my brother. Hearing that you were never with Dave was the best thing I'd heard in my life. Rodney, what I'm saying is that I want to be with you... forever."

Rodney's chest ached and he realized that he'd stopped breathing. He sucked in a deep breath and smiled, this couldn't be really happening, things like this just didn't happen to him. "You mean..." Rodney said, but he didn't know how to end the sentence.

"I mean," John said and stood up. He moved around the table and knelt down on the floor beside Rodney. "It's not going to happen here, and it probably won't happen for a very long time, but... Rodney McKay, will you marry me?"

"Holy shit," Rodney said and had to take a few deep breaths to keep from passing out.

"Was that a yes or a no?" John asked seriously and Rodney had to laugh.

"Yes," he said breathlessly, reaching out to put his hands around John's tired but still gorgeous face. "That was a yes, John Sheppard. I'll marry you... whenever and wherever."

"Excellent!" John said triumphantly and got off the floor. "Come on, we have to go tell everyone."

"Everyone?" Rodney asked as John pulled him out of the booth and through the café. "Who exactly is everyone?"

"My family of course," John responded.

It felt like they were running to the hospital again, John was practically dragging Rodney down the street, talking over his shoulder. This time, however, Rodney didn't mind, and his racing heart was a good thing for once. As unbelievable as it was, Rodney had finally gotten what he'd always wanted, and all it took to get it, was almost losing the thing he thought he'd always wanted.

As he hurried along behind John, his mind sparing only a single moment to wonder why they hadn't taken John's truck, he realized that his life wasn't going to be the same from that moment on. He'd come home to a warm body in his bed, and John was different than all the others. He was stronger and smarter and Rodney knew that John wouldn't run out on him without a word.

Rodney hated surprises and change, and nothing about his life was ever going to be the same. He smiled as he realized that he welcomed that change, and that John would likely be a surprise every morning when Rodney opened his eyes and found John in the bed next to him. And surprisingly enough, Rodney was perfectly okay with that.



"Come on, John," Rodney said as he walked through the house looking for his lover. "You promised Millie that you'd wear the sweater she made for you to the party tonight."

"That was before I saw it!" John called back, giving away his position.

Rodney shook his head and walked into the bedroom, stopping to stand in front of their mirrored closet doors. It had been ten months since John and Rodney got together, and they'd been living together for four months now. Rodney learned early on that John had a flare for the dramatic, and often would act like a dejected child when he didn't like something. Rodney would just laugh and poke fun at John's unhappiness, and within half an hour they were naked and sweaty. "John, I thought you were done hiding in closets," Rodney said to his reflection.

"Shut up, Rodney. I'm not coming out of here until you leave the house long enough for me to burn this road kill Millie has the nerve to call a sweater."

"Oh come on, it can't be that bad. She made us the blanket we keep on the couch and it's really nice. Come on out and let me see."

After a long silent moment, the closet door slowly began sliding to the side and Rodney had to bite his lip to keep from bursting into laughter. John was standing there in his tight blue jeans with the low-rise hips, the ratty work boots that never failed to turn Rodney on, and the sweater Millie had made for him. It was at least two sizes too big and made out of a brownish-green yarn that looked like something that came out of both ends. She'd knitted what was probably supposed to be a moose or a deer into the center of the front, but it looked like a moose or a deer that had lost a battle with oncoming traffic.

As John stood inside their closet looking utterly miserable, Rodney couldn't hold it in any longer, he simply had to laugh. It was the most hideous thing he'd ever seen, and John was wearing it. Rodney bent over and braced his hands on his knees as his stomach began to hurt from the laughter, he could hardly get a breath in before he was laughing again.

"I don't know why I love you," John said as he slunk out of the closet and over to the bed.

"Aw come on," Rodney said, sobering just a little. He knew John wasn't serious when he said things like that, and he never took it personally, but it put everything back into perspective. Rodney's life was absolutely perfect. "I have an idea, I'll pull a thread and unravel the sweater, but you have to show up to the party without a shirt. That way we can hand Millie the ball of yarn and say you got snagged so she'll have to make another one. The second one has to be better than that thing."

"At least we hope so," John replied, looking down at the gift from his grandmother. "I'm not going to unravel it, Millie made it for me, and you never know how many more Christmases she has with the family. I need to appreciate all the time I have while I have it."

Rodney took a breath and smiled at his lover. John was a softie and family really was important to him, he never took a single gathering for granted. When Patrick had ended up in the hospital with chest pain back in June, John hadn't left his father's side, and Rodney had stayed right beside John. Family had become important to him too, after all. John's family had become Rodney's family and the center of his world. Because of them, Rodney and Jeannie were in the process of mending their relationship; although Rodney didn't doubt that a reconciliation would be years in the future.

"Hey," Rodney said softly, making John look up from the nightmarish Christmas gift. "We don't have to unravel it; we can just tell her that it was too nice to be worn. Or maybe that we noticed a small knick in one of the threads and we didn't want to take the chance that it would get ruined. Hey, tell her that I spilled coffee on it right before we left and you didn't have time to wash it, I don't mind taking the blame."

Thankfully, John smiled and shook his head. "I should just tell her that it was a thoughtful gift, but it's not my style."

Rodney shrugged, "That works too. But now you have to think about what you're going to wear and we only have about twenty minutes until we're expected to be there."

John looked at his watch before pulling the sweater over his head and tossing it into the corner. "Twenty minutes huh? That'll give us time to shower after."

"No it won't," Rodney protested but he moved into John's open arms anyway. "You can't even pretend that you don't turn into a snuggle bunny after sex. It'll be at least an hour before we even think about getting out of bed, then we'll have to take a shower and get dressed again and-"

"There's nothing wrong with being fashionably late," John said as his hands pushed up the back of Rodney's shirt. "Besides, mom already told me that she expects us to be late anyway."

"Huh?" Rodney asked, lost in the sensation of John's hands pushing their way into his pants.

"She calls us newlyweds," John continued, running his finger up the cleft in Rodney's ass and making him shiver. "Ronon asked the other day if I feel like I have to put my scent on you before we can go out."

Rodney laughed even as he slid his hands between their bodies to work open his pants. He had never said no to John and he couldn't even imagine a situation that would make him start. "He's so primitive."

"I do like it when you smell like sex," John said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively as he pushed Rodney's jeans and boxers down.

Rodney just sighed happily and went willingly when John urged him down onto the bed, then John was kneeling in front of him, removing his socks and shoes. Rodney's pants were removed completely while Rodney took the opportunity to discard his shirt. Once again, Rodney found himself completely naked while John was still half dressed.

John had changed his world in so many ways that Rodney couldn't even keep track of them all, but his favorite change was how John made him feel about his body. Rodney hadn't been physically fit since he was about sixteen, he was soft and a little pudgy and his hair was thinning, all things he didn't like about himself before. John had changed that though, he seemed to almost worship Rodney's body, the softness and the curves. He could spend hours just running his hands over Rodney's body, tracing every line with his fingers. The first time John had done that, Rodney had been so self-conscious that he could barely even maintain his erection. John's soft voice and adoring gaze had been the only thing keeping Rodney from pulling the blanket over himself. John had told him why he loved each and every part of his body, spending extra time on the parts he knew Rodney saw as imperfections. Rodney was still soft and a little pudgy, but he knew beyond any shadow of doubt that John loved him and it no longer bothered him to be naked with John was still clothed.

Rodney gasped and arched up off the bed when John wrapped his hand around his dick. He moaned and shook his head, reaching down to take hold of John's wrist. "I want you naked," Rodney told him in as firm a voice as he could muster. I never took any further encouraging to get John to strip, and this was no different. Giving Rodney's dick a gentle quick squeeze, John released him and began taking off his pants.

Rodney watched, his eyes following the movement of John's hands as he pushed the button through the hole, his fingers as he gripped the zipper and pulled it down. John was wearing the black silk boxers Rodney had gotten him for his birthday, but Rodney couldn't care less as John pushed them down. Watching John's cock spring free from his boxers always made Rodney's stomach tingle, it was long and thick and just slightly bend in the most perfect way. Even after almost a year, Rodney could still hardly believe that he'd gotten as lucky as he had.

Rodney licked his lips as he looked at John's dick, John tasted better than any man Rodney had ever been with, the memory was still vivid in his mind. The first time he'd sucked John had almost short circuited his brain. The feel of John's dick sliding past his lips, the weight of it on his tongue, the way John had rocked his hips just slightly until Rodney pushed forward letting John know it was okay, then the explosion of the flavor of John as he came, fucking Rodney's throat and grunting his name. Rodney loved sucking John's dick, but he didn't want John in his mouth right now. He wanted to feel that hard shaft splitting him apart, opening him up the way only John could, with long slow thrusts to start then leading into a frantic pumping of John's hips toward the end. Just the thought of it was enough to almost make Rodney come, but he didn't.

John took a step toward him, his dick bobbing just a bit as he moved over to the bed. Rodney wanted him from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to bed, and John very rarely disappointed. As much as Rodney wanted to feel John inside him right now, he knew that they would only be that much later if they did that. Rodney opened his arms to John and smiled. "Come here," he said and John kneeled onto the bed, laying himself down gently on top of Rodney.

John sighed and closed his eyes as their erections pressed together for an instant before John's slid to the side, resting neatly beside Rodney's own hard dick. "Fuck, Rodney," John aid after a moment, and then they were kissing. John's tongue pressing into Rodney's mouth as it had done thousands of times before. Each kiss always felt new though, Rodney never got tired of John and he couldn't imagine that he ever would. He wanted to spend the rest of his life kissing John.

After a short moment, Rodney reached down and grabbed John's ass, pulling his hips down more firmly. John grunted and pulled his mouth away from Rodney's, resting his forehead on the pillow as he began pressing his hips against Rodney's, rubbing their cocks together with the perfect amount of friction. It wasn't long before John started trembling; he always treated sex with Rodney as if it were the only thing keeping him alive. No matter how long it had been since the last time, John always told Rodney how much he needed him, and Rodney would always reply just as breathlessly, saying that he was John's.

They were both grunting now and thrusting against each other hard enough to leave bruises. Rodney's hands scrabbled for purchase on John's ass as he felt his climax rushing forward. He pressed his fingers into the muscled flesh, grunting John's name as he came, warmth spreading between them a second time as John came a moment later.

The weight of John's body rested completely on Rodney, pinning him to the mattress. It was a position Rodney had gotten used to, he looked forward to it and welcomed it. It was John's warmth seeping into Rodney's cold body when he got home from the train station after a long day at the lab. John's cool damp body fresh from the shower pressing down on Rodney's over heated form. It was also the weight of John's calm pressing down against Rodney's panic, it was comfort, it was life and most of all it was love. Rodney couldn't even fathom having felt this way with Dave.

The thought of John's brother nudged Rodney's mind back in the original direction. "The party," he said softly, running his fingers through John's sweat damp hair. John hardly ever really perspired; he could jog around the entire city and come back with a slightly damp collar. The second he started having sex with Rodney, however, John's pores just seemed to open up, it was almost like John was coming with his entire body. Rodney found it ridiculously hot and loved moving his hands over John's slick skin.

"Screw the party," John said, rolling to the side and snuggling into Rodney's side. Rodney shivered as the cooling come on his stomach was exposed to the temperature of the room, but he laughed and pulled John a little closer.

"Told you," Rodney said and kissed John's hair. "Snuggle bunny."

John chuckled and pinched Rodney's nipple. "Shut up," John said. "I'm not snuggling, I'm resting."

"Right, with your head on my shoulder and your thumb lovingly stroking my nipple."

John scoffed and rubbed Rodney's nipple harder. "You like it."

"I do, but we have a party to be at, so we need to take a shower and get ready. You promised your mom we'd be there."

With a heavy put upon sigh, John heaved himself off on Rodney and stood up. "Okay," he breathed and made his way toward the bathroom.


The music was practically blaring when John and Rodney pulled up in front of the Sheppard home. The lights were twinkling, the snowman was back in the yard and there were more shadows dancing behind the curtains than John had family members.

This time last year, Rodney had been sitting in a hospital room with John's comatose brother, unaware of how drastically his life was about to change. A few days from now, he'd take a taxi to this very house and have the urge to throw that stupid poinsettia plant at the snowman. Thankfully Ronon had stopped him from making what would have been the biggest mistake Rodney could have ever made.

Now he stood outside that same house, but instead of a plant in his hand, he had John's own glove covered hand. He'd spent time with the family since he and John had gotten together, but tonight it felt strange. He'd gone from pretending to be engaged to one brother to actually being engaged to the other. He couldn't help but wonder how many of John's family members would be thinking about last year, and what had happened to get John and Rodney together.

"Come on, Rodney," John said as he gently pulled Rodney up the sidewalk to the house. "Mom said she has a surprise for us."

"Really?" Rodney asked. He'd made it clear to the entire family that he was atheist and therefore didn't celebrate Christmas, but none of that seemed to bother them. Every time Sarah called to talk to her big brother, she'd tell Rodney something along the lines of "you're never going to believe what mom got you for 'not-Christmas." It always made him laugh, how a simple word like not could take a holiday that was so important to them and make it include Rodney, who really couldn't care less.

John rang the doorbell before pushing the door open and stepping inside.

"Hey everyone, John and Rodney are here," Claire called out as she hurried out of the kitchen to wrap them both in her arms.

The rest of the family made their way into the foyer, hugs and handshakes to be had from everyone. The face Rodney was surprised to see, however, was Radek. They'd stayed in contact and remained good friends. Several times, Radek had accompanied John and Rodney to the family's house for dinner on Sunday nights. Radek was almost part of the family now.

"Hello my friend," Radek greeted, giving Rodney a light hug. "How are you?"

"Perfect," Rodney replied, and it was true.

"You're never going to believe who flew in from New York just for Christmas."

The twinkle in Claire's eyes was enough to make Rodney want to turn around and run away as fast as he could. Of course, before his legs got the message from his brain, Rodney felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.

"Hey, Rodney."

Rodney thought he'd probably recognize that voice from a million miles away, so he wasn't at all surprised to see Dave standing behind him. He smiled and felt a light flush make its way up into his face. "Hi, Dave," he returned politely.

"Hey look," Sarah said and pointed above Rodney's head. "You're under the mistletoe you guys."

Rodney's eyes went wide as Millie said, "Go on you idiot, kiss him." Dave chuckled but was moving forward, his lips slightly pursed.

Just before Dave got close enough to actually be able to kiss him, Rodney felt a familiar warm hand cover his mouth and he leaned back into John's warmth.

"I don't think so buddy," John said and turned Rodney around to face him. "You had your chance... you slept too long."

The sound of soft laughter made its way through the room as Rodney let himself be pulled even closer to John, but everyone in the house ceased to exist the moment John's soft lips touched his.

The End... although, it's really the beginning isn't it?