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Rodney approached Monday morning with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. He was a sub now, wearing his top's letter jacket. Walking onto the campus, his backpack slung over his shoulder, he found himself looking down, tracing the purple lettering of 'Sheppard' over the breast. His fingers brushed close to his nipple as he did so, making him shiver. Rodney had always found his nipples irritating, too pink, too inclined to poke out, but they fascinated John. He loved to clamp them until they were red and tingling, then release them to suck and play, until they were so sensitive that Rodney thought he might come from one more touch.

Maybe pink, pointy nipples weren't so bad.

"Oh my god, it's true," said Simon, running up to him, brown curls bouncing a little with his stride. "You're Sheppard's sub."

Rodney stopped abruptly, staring at his best friend with surprise. He'd visualized a number of scenarios for how he would announce the news, most revolving around pointing to the name on his jacket, either gleefully or subtly, but he hadn't expected that people would already know. "How did you know? Who told you?"

"It's all over school. Everyone knows. Some people don't believe it, but they'll have to when they see that jacket. I didn't even know you two knew each other. Did he top you this weekend? What's he like?"

"None of your business." Rodney started walking toward the building.

"Oh come on," Simon whined, pushing his glasses further up on his nose. "You can tell me. I won't tell anyone. They say he's really good."

Everyone did know, Rodney realized, as he walked into the cafeteria. First period hadn't yet ended, so those like Rodney, who started with second period, were hanging out in their various cliques. The jocks, the popular kids, the geeks, the stoners, the blacks, Asians, and Latinos, all in their usual spots, waiting for the bell to ring. Normally only the geeks ever paid him any attention, but today heads were turning as he walked by. He walked toward the building's left wing, where the academic classes were held, noting how everyone's eyes glanced at the front of his jacket. John's jacket, the one he'd pulled out of his closet and put on Rodney last night, before driving him home. They'd necked in the car for a few minutes before John had reluctantly pulled away. "I wish your mother wasn't insisting you come home. I could play with you all night." He'd cupped Rodney's fly, gave him a squeeze. "You'd better go while I can still let you," he'd advised, his eyes dark with passion, and Rodney had moaned and fled the car.

Rodney wished that he had been able to stay at John's last night so they could have come to school together, but he stuck his chin out and held his head high. People had been looking at him all his life and they'd keep looking when he started winning major awards.

Simon kept pace with him, badgering him for details. Rodney ignored him until he asked about the hickey, which earned him Rodney's best 'are you insane?' glare. Simon ultimately gave up when they had to go different directions. Rodney strolled nonchalantly into French class, taking his normal seat at the back. When he was a kid, he'd always sit at the front, the better to raise his hand and get attention, but that was when he naively believed his teachers could teach him. Now that he was doing most of his work through independent study, sitting at the back made it easier for the teacher and him to mostly ignore each other.

Class had barely begun when Mademoiselle Dautry looked over at the door, where Mrs. Hayes hovered in the doorway. "I'm sorry, but Casey had to call in sick today. Can I borrow Rodney for this period?" Mademoiselle waved approval, and Rodney grabbed his books and bolted. His ear was perfect; insisting that he attend his foreign language classes so he could practice with the other students as they stumbled over vocabulary with an atrocious accent was only one more way his mother aggravated him. He never minded when Mrs. Hayes drafted him to play piano so the choir could practice. Their singing was definitely the lesser of the evils. Mademoiselle never objected when he left, nor marked him absent, presumably happy to give the other students a break from his intimidating example.

To his surprise, Mrs. Hayes didn't head straight for the other building, instead stopping in the hallway and beaming at him. "Oh Rodney! I'm so pleased for you."

"What? Oh yes," he glanced down at the 'Sheppard,' brushing his fingers over it. "Yes, John is my top now."

"You couldn't have a finer top. I've heard good things about him. And it's so wonderful that you've got your sexuality settled." And then she threw her arms around him and hugged him. Mrs. Hayes is hugging me, he thought, his mind reeling. As late as Friday, he would have been thrilled to have more material for his fantasies about her. She was blonde, beautiful, and intelligent, and she even let him do his musical elective during her free period, so he wouldn't have to be frustrated by playing with the orchestra or jazz band. She acknowledged his genius but wasn't intimidated by it, which made her the most perfect teacher in the school. It wasn't unusual for her to touch him, leaning over him, pointing to a musical cue. But he hadn't been a sub then, and he hadn't been wearing a top's jacket. Rodney couldn't move, couldn't speak, and did not hug her in return, leaping back out of her arms as if scalded as soon as she released him.

"Mrs. Hayes, you shouldn't hug me. I'm a sub. A jacketed sub."

"I know." She touched the gold collar around her neck. "I've seen how you struggled, Rodney. I struggled myself too when I was your age. I'm glad you're settled now." And then she patted his arm. She was touching him again, twice in less than five minutes, in ways Rodney was sure John wouldn't like. He wasn't completely positive, because they hadn't talked about it, but John seemed a pretty traditional top, and traditional tops didn't like their subs touched by other people, not even casually.

Even less traditional tops didn't like their subs touched, though they might not be so quick to take offense. Only those weird monosexuals allowed people to touch their partners, but that was mainly because they didn't seem to have tops and subs. Rodney loved science fiction and the creative exploration of new possibilities, but even to him, that seemed rather perverted.

"John wouldn't like you touching me. He's my top."

"Don't be silly, Rodney. We're both subs and I'm your teacher. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. Now come on, class is waiting." She turned and trotted off toward the choir room.

The sound of a door shutting made Rodney jump, and he looked around, trying to determine the origin of the noise. Had someone gone into class late and seen that hug? And if they had, would they say anything? Normally, no one much cared to discuss what Rodney did, but now he was the sub of the football star... Well, if someone had seen it and told John, surely he would understand. He had to. Mrs. Hayes seemed convinced he would. Rodney shifted his backpack higher on his shoulder, following her departing figure, and hoping for once that an adult wasn't a total idiot.

~~~

Anger wasn't a common emotion for John. His dads said he'd been a happy child, and most people agreed he'd inherited Adam's temperament as well as his looks. But when he got angry, he was all Gil, seemingly calm, but burning hot inside.

He thought he'd covered all the bases. Rodney had his jacket. He'd called Mitch and the others on Sunday night, made sure that they were aware Rodney was his sub now. The last thing he needed was for one of them to run into Rodney first and make some stupid assumption that the jacket was stolen. Also, he stated quite plainly that no one was to talk about what had happened on Friday night. Only the six of them and their parents needed to know.

They'd apparently listened about Friday night and kept their mouths shut, but they'd trumpeted Rodney's new status to the skies. The casual inquiries had begun as soon as he arrived at school, annoying at first, then increasingly irritating. "You really took Rodney as a sub? Rodney? The geek? What's he like? Did you have to gag him so he'd stop talking?" He'd thought people realized that he wouldn't reveal details about his subs, but apparently the fact that Rodney and John seemed like such an unlikely pair made people dense in their curiosity.

And then the gossip about his sub started rippling through the school. Some geek named Simon was shooting off his mouth, that he and Rodney had played, gloating that he'd topped John's sub. The lie was infuriating, but John had rolled his eyes, like it amused him that a geek was trying to cash in on his rep. Then Rodney was seen hugging Mrs. Hayes in the hallway. Cute, blonde, brown-eyed Mrs. Hayes, who everyone loved because she was barely out of college, enthusiastic and charming, and not burned out like so many of the other teachers. And sure, she wore a collar, but what if she was a switch who married a top? No one knew for certain. People judged by collars and belts, but switches were deceptive. She could still be interested in Rodney, now that his status as sub was clear, people said. Mostly behind John's back, but that didn't make him any happier.

Rodney was the main topic of conversation during the breaks between periods, and as far as John could tell, also in the notes being unobtrusively passed around class. John was rapidly discovering that he didn't like people talking about his sub. They shouldn't even be thinking about him, much less indulging in gleeful speculation.

At the end of 4th period, John went to find his sub, locating him in the locker room, finishing dressing after P.E. He was putting on John's jacket, smoothing it down. "John!" he said, smiling with happiness. "Are we going to have lunch together?"

"Rodney." John cupped Rodney's head, gave him a firm kiss, pleased that Rodney's body leaned into his with the bonelessness of a cat. "We need to talk."

"Talk?" Rodney's eyes flashed with worry. "Oh god, someone did see her, didn't they? I told her not to hug me. I told her. I said you wouldn't like it. She listens as well as my parents do. I did not hug her back. I swear to you, John, I didn't."

A little of the tenseness eased from John's gut. Rodney hadn't wanted to be touched. Adults didn't listen. He couldn't do anything about Rodney's parents, but he could handle Rodney's teacher. He'd complain to the principal if necessary. Protecting his sub was just part of being a top.

"Really, I told her. She thinks since we're both subs, it's okay."

"Shhhh." John gave him another firm kiss. "It's okay. I'll deal with it."

Rodney looked even more alarmed. "Deal with it? What - "

A loud muffled sound interrupted him, as Mitch and Chad dragged Simon into the locker room. Mitch and Chad both still bore bruises, evidence of John's instinctive urge to protect Rodney. Chad's hand was clapped over Simon's mouth, keeping him from talking, but not from making garbled, hysterical noises in the back of his throat, as he twisted between them, trying to escape. The few kids who'd been dawdling by their lockers, trying to overhear John and Rodney's discussion, hastily lit out, leaving only the five of them in the locker room.

"Mitch, what are you doing?"

"Hey, John." Mitch beamed proudly. "We figured we'd shut him in a locker and that'd teach him to keep his mouth shut about your sub."

"Oh my god, you morons, let him go," Rodney hissed. "John, make them let him go."

"Mitch, let him go and leave him alone," John ordered. "I'll handle this with my sub."

Mitch asking, "Are you sure?" with disappointment clashed with Rodney's frantic, "What do you mean you'll handle it with me? Handle what? What the hell have you been saying, you moron?" he shot at Simon.

With a pout, Mitch released his hold. Simon yanked away from Chad and took off running, the doors to the locker room banging behind him. "He shouldn't be disrespectful like that," Mitch muttered.

"I'll handle issues with my sub from now on," John said flatly, hoping Mitch would get the point.

Mitch and Chad slouched off. John guessed he'd have to talk to them again because clearly their heads had taken too many hits while being tackled, but Rodney was his more pressing problem.

"What has Simon been saying? What issues?"

"You don't know? It's all over the school, Rodney."

"Like anyone talks to me! I'm not exactly part of the in-crowd. Besides, I played piano for two periods and then Coach made us run laps. I haven't talked to anyone." A couple of people had approached the piano and tried to talk to him, which had been so surprising, he'd stared at them with disbelief, and they'd huffed off.

John took Rodney's hands, threaded their fingers together, and held Rodney's hands over his head, pressing him against the locker door. "Simon has been saying that the two of you played together. That he was your top before I was."

"That lying worm!" Rodney burst out, though he stayed passive in John's grip. "He was not my top! I thought I was a top!"

"So you two never played together, right? He was making it all up?"

The expression on Rodney's face was a punch to John's gut. Simon hadn't been making it all up, not if the evasiveness in Rodney's eyes was any indication. "You said you hadn't played before," he added, his voice hard, leaning his weight on Rodney, trapping him firmly against the cool metal. "Did you lie to me?"

"I said I hadn't done *much.* And I hadn't! We just jerked each other off once. We wanted to know what it was like. But we were both acting like we were monosexuals and it was - well, it was weird. Okay, but weird. We didn't try to do it again."

"Just hand jobs?"

Rodney nodded frantically.

"Anything else I should know about?"

"There was a girl in Space Camp. She jerked me off and I used my fingers on her. And that's all, I swear John. I swear."

"And just the once with both of them."

"Just the once."

"Good." John's muscles relaxed, his mind clearing, his dick instinctively stiffening as it registered that it was cradled against Rodney's hips. "You're mine, Rodney." He snuggled their hips together, pleased with the flush that crossed Rodney's face. "I don't want anyone else touching you."

"They won't, John. At least - "

"Don't worry about Mrs. Hayes," John said, bending his head to nip at the bruise on Rodney's neck. Rodney moaned, his body sagging, only remaining on his feet because he was trapped between a locker and a hard body.

"John? Rodney? You two should be going to lunch."

John softly growled in Rodney's ear, but released him. "Coach. We were just heading there." He took a step away from Rodney, giving him room to move, but kept hold of one hand.

"I understand congratulations are in order."

"Yes, Coach," John said. Coach Crandall was a great football coach, one of his favorite teachers, but right now John wished he'd stayed in his office, doing paperwork.

"I want to talk to Rodney for a minute. Go on to lunch and he'll be with you soon."

For a second, it was on John's lips to flatly disagree. He was tired of people getting between him and his sub. But Coach was Rodney's teacher and had a right to talk to him privately. "Yes, Coach," he agreed, but he cupped one hand over the back of Rodney's neck, giving him a fast but firm kiss. "I'll get a plate for us," he said, making the status of their relationship plain. At least he could trust Coach to not hug Rodney. Coach never hugged anyone.

~~~

Rodney watched John walk out, and he was a genius, he should be more articulate, but he could only think... fuck, fuck, fuck, why did teachers keep talking to him privately today? Coach barely tolerated him due to his athletic incompetence, which suited Rodney just fine, so why was he suddenly interested in him? "Coach?"

"I didn't even know that you and John knew each other before today."

"Everyone knows John. He's the football star. He gets introduced at every rally."

"And everyone knows you, don't they, Rodney?"

"I think so?" They didn't generally like him, but they probably knew him. Several other people took a few classes independent study, but he was the only one doing most of his curriculum in the library by himself, with only minimal supervision. He was actually done with his high school classes and studying for the college classes he intended to take, but he wasn't advertising that fact until he could make sure his mother wouldn't find a way to mess up his plan to graduate this year.

"I have a mystery, Rodney." Coach put a foot on the locker bench, bracing one hand on his raised knee. He was wearing yet another dark blue tracksuit and sneakers, and seemed like he must have been born grizzled and gray-haired. "We had a great game on Friday. The best. And on Monday, two of my players have been beaten up, though they both claim to have walked into doors, and my top player suddenly has a new sub, a kid he should barely know. And no one's talking about how those things happened."

Fuck, fuck, fuck, he hated teachers who wanted answers when he didn't want to give them. Rodney had never been good at bluffing. "Um, yes?"

"You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to, but I'm here if you do, Rodney. Some of the young tops, things can get out of hand." He looked pointedly behind Rodney, at the locker where John had held him fast to question him.

What the fuck was he driving at? Why did people have to be deliberately obtuse? "Um, yes?"

Coach sighed, as if Rodney was a bit dim, which was insulting because Rodney's IQ probably doubled that of someone who made his living by watching kids sweat. "You're not alone, Rodney. No sub should be manhandled if he doesn't want it."

"Wait, you mean - " Fuck, he thought John was abusing him or something? That the three had fought over him and John had been the victor? Which was not completely inaccurate, but - "I am proud to have John Sheppard as my top," he said fiercely, passionately. "And what happens between John and me is our business. Not yours."

"And nothing's happened without your approval?"

"John - " Rodney realized he was almost shaking. "John Sheppard is my top. I will stay his sub as long as he will have me. And I trust him implicitly."

Coach studied him, as if he thought Rodney might change his mind, and finally nodded. "Fair enough. I'm glad to hear it. You should go to lunch."

Rodney rushed away, down the row of lockers and to the door, almost slamming into John, who was waiting. From the grimness of his face, he'd been listening. "Teachers are insane in this school," Rodney hissed, as John wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling him outside. "Maniacs."

~~~

Rodney was shaking against him as they walked to the cafeteria, and John felt like he was shaking too, though he was striving to maintain a cool façade. John really wasn't sure whether he wanted to swear with rage or swing Rodney with glee. Coach, who had always believed in him, apparently questioned his ability to be a proper top. On the other hand, Rodney had ferociously defended him and affirmed his loyalty. "Find us a good spot. Someplace private," he said, pushing Rodney toward the tables as they entered the cafeteria, before heading off to get their lunch.

Walking through the line and making choices, remembering Rodney's citrus allergy and trying to recall what he liked to eat, helped John calm down. Rodney was still fuming when he slid onto the bench next to him.

"What the hell is wrong with the teachers today? Did someone slip stupid pills in their coffee?"

"Rodney." John turned his upper body on the seat, enough to put his hands on Rodney's shoulders and turn him so they faced each other. "Remember Saturday night, when I first fed you?"

"Yes. I will never forget that," Rodney said, the memory calming him a little, as John hoped.

"Think how good you felt. Your body was relaxed and you were beautiful. Your wrists were cuffed to the bed and all you had to do was let me take care of you." It was working. John could see Rodney's shoulders dropping as the stress dissipated and he fell into subspace. "I'm going to feed you now. I only want you to think about us and what we mean to each other."

"If people would stop getting - "

"Rodney." He gave Rodney a little shake. "You and me. That's all that matters right now."

He could see the struggle reflected on Rodney's face, and the moment when his determination to be a good sub kicked in. "You and me. That's all that matters."

"Good." John began feeding him slowly, taking regular bites for himself. Rodney had a tendency to eat too fast, so John was trying to change his pace. "I thought about you last night and this morning. How hot you were, how good it feels when you submit to me." John pitched his voice low, only for Rodney's ears. Even with the background clatter of the cafeteria, he wouldn't be surprised if someone was trying to listen. This conversation was private, between his sub and him, not fodder for the gossips.

"I didn't think about you. I couldn't."

John tried not to flinch at Rodney's words.

"Crap, that didn't come out right. You said you liked to watch me. You want me to wait, don't you? Until we can be together and you can watch?"

Oh God. Rodney had interpreted his words as an order not to masturbate. That was so hot. John dropped the fork, took Rodney's head in his hands, and fucked Rodney's mouth with his tongue.

"That's good," John said when he finally released Rodney. "I like that. I want you to wait for me."

Rodney was panting a bit, struggling for composure. "I don't know that I'll always be able to stop myself. When I start thinking about you, it's hard to refocus. But I've been trying."

"That's good of you, Rodney. Really good." John resumed feeding them both.

"My sister has her after-school program today," Rodney said between bites. "So I don't have to be home to watch over her."

"Good. You can come home with me for a few hours." He hadn't even thought about Jeannie and whether Rodney might be responsible for her, instead already planning what they would do in the afternoon. Damn. He needed to learn more about Rodney's daily schedule.

"John." Lorraine stopped by their table, with two of her friends hanging behind her. She was the ideal cheerleader archetype, long honey-blonde hair, green eyes, and great body. John had played with her once, soon after he'd joined the football team. She'd approached him and it had been exciting, but he'd never felt he'd broken through her veneer of the perfect, popular sub. He hadn't been attracted enough to keep trying.

"Lorraine," he answered cordially. "Patti, Dawn."

"Everyone says you have a new sub," she said, flicking her gaze at Rodney with calculated boredom.

"Everyone would be correct."

"For once," Rodney muttered. "What?" he asked at John's glance. "It's not like they're ever right about much of anything else."

"I suppose this is another time you play with someone for a few days. You're good at that."

"Rodney will be wearing my jacket for the rest of the school year."

She tossed her head, flinging her blonde hair over her shoulder. "You really think he can entertain you that long?"

"He'll be wearing my jacket for the rest of the school year," John repeated flatly. Gil had never felt obligated to explain his relationship with Adam to anyone, and John intended to follow that example.

"Some of us have depths," Rodney snapped at Lorraine.

"The only thing you have is your ego," Lorraine snarled back. John growled in the back of his throat, starting to rise, not sure what he'd do, only conscious that insults to his sub made him violently angry. But Lorraine and her friends were already flouncing off, walking fast as if they knew the wisdom of escaping from John's presence.

"It's okay. It's not any worst than anything else I've heard all my life."

Sinking back onto the bench, John tangled his fingers with Rodney's, needing to hold him. "You shouldn't have to listen to that and you won't anymore."

"You can't protect me from everything and everyone."

John wanted to deny the truth of Rodney's statement. He should be able to protect his sub from all dangers. It was his biological imperative. But he couldn't. He couldn't even protect him from his own parents. "I will protect you from all I can. I can protect you at this school. And I will."

~~~

Rodney headed to the library, his mind reeling from everything that had happened. He reminded himself that he was a genius who should be able to process this better, but human emotions were always so complicated and messy compared to the purity of science.

He'd never had anyone treat him like John did. He'd had little romantic involvement, and never with someone who was so... jealous?... that he'd pin Rodney with his own body and interrogate him. John had been a little scary, his face set in stone, his green eyes so laser-intense it had felt like they could burn straight into Rodney's brain.

The fear had been alleviated by something deep within Rodney, the sub's biological imperative. He liked being held by John, feeling helpless in his grip, wondering what he would do next, but knowing instinctively that John would never go too far.

It wasn't the first time he'd been held and questioned. Over the years, both of his parents had grabbed his arm or his shoulders, demanded to know what he was doing, thinking, which he loved better. The manipulation and power games were exhausting, particularly since neither of his parents had ever been satisfied.

John had been angry, but he'd listened and accepted the answers. He'd promised to deal with Mrs. Hayes and hadn't let his goonish friends beat up Simon for being stupid. He'd held him and fed him and announced to that bitch that he was keeping him.

God, Rodney hoped the last was true.

But even if this didn't last long, Rodney knew John wouldn't keep throwing anything that happened today into his face for weeks. He wouldn't be constantly surprised by, "You let her hug you!" for days or weeks or even months after the fact.

John wasn't like his parents. He controlled his power and was generous with his... affection?

Rodney's musings were interrupted when he caught sight of his friend in the hallway. "Simon!" he yelled.

Simon jerked, turned, and started to flee. Rodney broke into a run, his backpack thumping against his shoulder blade. Though he wasn't a fast runner, he was taller than Simon, which gave him a longer stride. He grabbed Simon's arm and shoved him into the bathroom. "What the hell did you think you were doing?"

"I have to go to class." Simon tried to dart around him.

Rodney stretched his arms out, blocking the doorway. "Oh no you don't. Are you trying to ruin the best thing that ever happened to me?"

"He's just a jock. You're smarter than him. I'm smarter than him."

"I'm smarter than 99% of the world's population and you apparently have no brains whatsoever. You're lucky he didn't let the Neanderthals stuff you into a locker. They would have twisted you like a pretzel to make you fit."

"We did play. I wasn't lying."

"We jerked each other off, you moron. That's hardly playing. You didn't top me."

"It was playing and we did it first. And you're a sub so I was the top," Simon declared mulishly.

"Are you listening at all?" Rodney stalked toward Simon, backing him up to the wall. "You were never my top and you are not going to screw this up for me."

To Rodney's horror, tears welled up in Simon's eyes, though he hastily blinked them away. "I didn't lie," he insisted, a note of hysteria entering his tone. "We played. I was the top."

The brief sight of tears penetrated Rodney's anger, and he backed away a step. "Are you lying about this because you're jealous of John? Or of me?"

"I'm not jealous and I'm not lying!" This time Simon succeeded in darting around him, and fleeing the bathroom.

Rodney leaned against the sink, staring sightlessly at the stall doors, wondering if "both" would have been the correct answer. Why were people so confusing?

Then one of the toilets flushed, and a stall door opened, and a kid that Rodney vaguely recognized but didn't know stepped out. Rodney buried his head in his hands. "I suppose you're going to tell everyone about this?"

The kid snorted, washing his hands. "That the loser is jealous of John Sheppard because he wants you? Yeah, like anybody would believe that. And everyone already figures he's jealous of you for having John and that's why he's shooting his mouth off."

The kid did not use near enough soap and didn't scrub the proper amount of time, Rodney noted absently. No one in high school had a proper sense of hygiene, not even the nurse. "So you're not going to tell anyone anything?"

"Maybe I'll just tell John I saw his sub having a serious conversation with his best friend in the toilet," the kid smirked. "And they were talking about their relationship."

"You wouldn't!"

"Jesus, Rodney." He ripped a towel off and dried his hands. "Don't have a heart attack. I'm not stupid enough to make John mad." Tossing the towel toward the vicinity of the garbage can, he walked out.

"That means you won't say anything, right?" Rodney plaintively asked the empty room. He contemplated whether he should track John down, but he'd be in class already. He needed to ask John for his schedule so he could find him in the future. Finally, he decided to follow his schedule and go study in the library. He really needed to get out of high school before it drove him insane.

~~~

John cut seventh period for the first time in his life. He felt restless and distracted, his relationship with his sub more important than American history. He thought Gil would understand.

He tackled Coach first, finding him watching students run around the field, occasionally shouting encouragement.

"Coach."

"John. Aren't you supposed to be in class?"

"I had to talk to you. About Rodney and your conversation this morning."

Coach gave him a sideways look, yelled at the kids to pick up the pace. "I thought I didn't hear the door shut."

"I would never abuse Rodney. Or any sub," he added, though he couldn't imagine other subs in his future.

"Look, John. You're a good kid. But something happened on Friday night and probably on school grounds, and three of my best players are lying to me. And I don't like that, John. I don't like that at all. Now I know you and Mitch and Chad don't need anyone taking care of you. But for all of his arrogance, Rodney's a sub. It's my job to look after you kids, particularly the subs."

"No." John felt a weird possessive rage, though he understood Coach was only trying to be helpful. "It's my job to look after Rodney. He's my sub."

Coach arched his bushy brows in surprise. "I hadn't expected you to feel that strongly about it."

"I didn't protect Rodney as I should have Friday night. But everyone involved has been disciplined, including me. I won't make that mistake again. Rodney will always be safe."

Coach studied John searchingly. "I've never seen you this intense when you weren't on a football field."

"I've never felt this way until Rodney," John admitted.

"Sometimes it takes the right sub to bring that out in a top. You're lucky to have found him so young."

"So you'll trust me to take care of him?"

"I'm glad you came to talk to me, John. But don't cut class again."

"I won't. But I just felt - being a top was more important."

Coach smiled, a rare expression on his gruff face. "Don't tell the school board members I said so, but yes, it is. Now you'd better get to class or off-campus before someone tells the principal you need to be disciplined."

"Yes, sir," John replied, feeling better for having talked to Coach, but not taking his advice. He still needed to talk to Mrs. Hayes. Whether it was Adam or John, Gil had always handled issues regarding his subs swiftly, and John intended to follow his example.

~~~

Rodney's fingers flew over the keys. The music felt differently today, more inspiring, more enthralling than normal, as if he was melting into the notes, while at the same time, they were sinking into his bones. It was similar to having sex with John, both of them so united they seemed one person.

The song ended and his hands stilled, resting on the keys, oddly exhausted. Mrs. Hayes applauded wildly, and he heard a ripple of clapping from the dark auditorium. Startled, he held a hand to shade his eyes, trying to see who was watching. "Who's out there?"

"They're just drama students waiting for after school practice," Mrs. Hayes said. "That was wonderful, Rodney. I've never heard you play with such passion."

"Thank you." John was the reason that Rodney felt the emotion in the music so strongly, but he didn't want to share that revelation with Mrs. Hayes. "Can I talk to you? Privately?"

"Sure. Let's talk in the back." She turned to the other students. "The stage is all yours!"

Kids started coming onto stage as Rodney left the piano, following Mrs. Hayes through the curtains and backstage. "You have to not hug me again, ever," he said bluntly.

"Now, Rodney, I - "

"No, listen to me." Rodney's skill at talking over people was highly developed and he didn't hesitate to use it. "You ought to treat me as you would treat any sub. Which means no touching."

She smiled fondly at him, as if Rodney were a cute, small dog yapping at her ankles. "You're still a kid, Rodney. You're putting too much importance on that rule."

"You are not listening to me. John is traditional. His family is traditional. His dads don't hug me without his permission. His dads. He doesn't even know you. I'm not a kid now and I will not lose John because of you. If you can't promise to treat me like you would treat any sub, I will drop your class tomorrow and I will not be available to help with choir practice. Ever."

"I didn't realize it would upset you so much, Rodney. I was just happy for you," Mrs. Hayes said, bewildered.

Rodney stiffened momentarily as he felt an arm circle his waist, then relaxed, letting his body sag as he recognized John's strength.

"You didn't have to handle this. It's my responsibility," John whispered in Rodney's ear. To Mrs. Hayes he said, "Rodney's right. Even though we're in high school, you should still treat him like any sub. Like your top would expect people to treat you."

"Yes, of course. If it matters that much to the two of you?" she asked, still with that air of not understanding, that made Rodney grit his teeth. At least John's dads seemed to be sane, which gave him some hope that not all adults were phenomenally stupid.

"Yes, it does," they both answered with finality, and Rodney hoped the message had sunk in.

~~~

John had known Rodney was intelligent, but not that he was a musical genius. He'd gone looking for the music teacher, finding her in the old auditorium, sitting on the stage, watching Rodney play. Several students, who John recognized from drama productions, were sitting in the audience. He slipped into a seat, listening in fascination as Rodney poured his heart and soul into the music.

At one point, Rodney had finished a piece and was talking quietly to Mrs. Hayes about what to play next. John couldn't quite hear the names of the pieces they were discussing, but he didn't think he'd recognize them anyway. Gil and Adam had raised him on rock and country.

"I think this is the best he's ever played," a voice said in his ear, and John glanced to see a girl he didn't know learning forward in her seat to talk to him.

"Does he play every day?"

"Yeah. He's too good to play with the regular orchestra or the jazz band. Most of them hate his guts because he doesn't hide it. But Mrs. Hayes likes him, so she lets him play during her free period."

"Why are you guys watching him?"

"We're waiting for after-school drama practice."

Then Rodney had started playing again, and John had turned back, becoming enthralled again. He hadn't realized how much he had to learn about his sub. It disturbed him to think of Rodney always playing solo, only heard by kids with time to kill. He ought to be with the orchestra, leading them to excellence.

The bell rang, and Rodney finished playing. John started applauding, which seemed to encourage the others and confuse Rodney. Didn't he get applause every day? John hoped to catch Mrs. Hayes alone, but she and Rodney disappeared to the back as the drama students took the stage.

Following them, he listened as Rodney tried to make Mrs. Hayes understand they weren't kids. He joined them to hug Rodney from behind, pleased when Rodney relaxed against him as bonelessly as he had in the locker room. Mrs. Hayes agreed to behave appropriately, and they walked out.

John kept an arm around Rodney's waist as they headed to the parking lot. Many others kids were around, but John didn't pay them any attention, fully focused on his sub.

"I'm sorry, I know you said you'd handle it, but I know her better. I thought she'd listen to me."

"It's okay," John said soothingly, giving Rodney a one-armed squeeze.

"It is?"

"Adam likes to fix things too, so Gil doesn't have to handle everything." He stopped at his car, opening the passenger door for Rodney. "A good top and sub pair look out for each other."

Rodney smiled hesitantly as he got into the car. John shut Rodney's door, then settled into the driver's seat and started the car.

"I, um, I guess I should mention I tackled Simon too. To ask him what he thought he was doing and to tell him to shut up."

"You didn't have to do that."

"He made me angry," Rodney admitted. "But some kid was in one of the stalls. I don't know what he's going to say about it."

"I didn't like hearing you talked about, but the important thing is our relationship, not what other people say."

"Yes. Yes, of course," Rodney answered, but John heard a note of disbelief in the overenthusiastic tone. They'd come together too quickly, he realized, forced by circumstances rather than drawn to each other by mutual attraction. Rodney seemed overly confident, but he obviously wasn't, as witnessed by his remarks to both Coach and Mrs. Hayes. He was concerned their relationship wouldn't last. John needed to reassure Rodney of his commitment, and he thought he knew the right way.

~~~

In his bedroom, John said, "Strip," and Rodney did, eagerly. After the weekend, he was comfortable about being naked in front of John, and dying to find out what he had planned for the afternoon.

John picked up a cuff from the dresser and held it out. Rodney offered his wrist, and John buckled the cuff around it. "I'm not going to tie you up today. I just like to see them on you and know that I can."

"I like wearing them," Rodney admitted. "So if you're not going to tie me up?"

"You talked to Coach and Mrs. Hayes like you thought I might end what we have," John said, fastening the cuffs one by one on Rodney's wrists and ankles.

Fuck. Had he? He'd been so furious at both of them, he hadn't thought about what he might be revealing. "Um, yes?"

"You don't think I'm going to keep you for long, do you?"

Trying to determine what response John wanted, Rodney answered with a fact. "You said we were going to be together all school year."

"But you don't believe that, do you?"

Rodney froze. Was John going to discipline him for not trusting him? Both of his parents got angry if he ever openly doubted them.

John only sighed, hugging him. "I want to do something I've never done with anyone else. To show you how much you mean to me."

"Whatever you want," Rodney said, pressing against John, relieved by his calmness.

"I need to be relaxed first."

Rodney responded to the cue instantly, dropping to his knees, placing his hands on John's fly. It seemed forever since he'd sucked John's cock, and his mouth watered at the thought. "May I?"

"Yeah, Rodney." John curled his hands in Rodney's hair. "Suck me dry."

Rodney went to work, freeing John's cock, licking and sucking him. He'd been paying attention to John's responses, and he knew what John liked best, when to pay attention to the head, when to take as much of the length in his mouth as he could, how to play with John's balls.

"God, you're so good. You haven't been practicing on anyone else, have you?" John asked teasingly.

Pausing, with his lips hovering near the flared head of John's cock, Rodney said seriously, "Never. I never would, John. But I did read all the sexuality books in the library today." And then complained quite vociferously to the librarian about the small selection. How could she have overlooked providing instructional tools for one of the most important elements of life?

"I'm so lucky to have you as my sub," John replied, equally seriously, before smiling. "Now finish me off. I want to move to the next step."

Rodney didn't answer, just took him in deep again, sucking with as much pressure as his mouth could generate, and John thrust a few times, coming down Rodney's throat. Rodney held off coming too, though it was difficult. John tugged Rodney to his feet, holding him close. "I want you to fuck me now."

~~~

"You said you'd never done this with anyone else," Rodney said, his voice high. John's dick was flaccid, his body satiated, but his mind was alert to the mixed signals that Rodney was broadcasting. His dick was hard, but his eyes revealed he was scared, intimidated by the responsibility.

"I haven't." John stripped off his clothes. "I wasn't interested in that with anyone else." He got the lube out of the nightstand, tossing the covers and top sheet to the bottom of the bed, and sprawled naked, displaying his body for Rodney. "I want you to be the first. So you understand how important you are to me."

"I haven't - you know I haven't done this before. What if I mess up? I could go too fast. I could hurt you."

John squirted lube on his fingers and spread it thoroughly over Rodney's cock. "I trust you," he said simply. He wondered if anyone else trusted Rodney to do anything except be brilliant.

Rodney took the lube, spurting a healthy amount on his fingers. "You're going to enjoy this," he promised John.

"I know I will." John put one foot flat on the bed, spreading his legs some, tilting his hips in invitation. He released Rodney's cock to tuck his hands under his head.

Carefully, Rodney inserted one finger, copying John's example from Friday night. Patiently, thoroughly, he worked John open, like he was performing an experiment where sloppiness would screw up the test results.

John smiled at his Rodney's diligence, enjoying being stretched. He didn't think he'd ever come to crave the sensation, but it was interesting. When Rodney had three fingers inside, still moving excruciatingly slowly, John took hold of his cock again. "I'm ready, Rodney."

Rodney bit his lip, gingerly moving into position on top of John. For someone who'd thought he was a top until last Friday, Rodney seemed hesitant to take advantage of the opportunity he'd been given. John hoped Rodney's reluctance meant he'd discovered how much he loved being on the bottom, and not that he was still petrified about screwing up. "Yeah, come on. You're doing good," he encouraged, curling his legs around Rodney's hips, his heels on the underside of Rodney's butt, urging him forward. "Show me what it's like."

Bracing himself, Rodney captured John's lips, kissing him, as he thrust forward. Not too far but enough that John would feel his dick entering him.

John focused on his body, on how it felt to be penetrated. He was losing his virginity to Rodney McKay, and there was no one else he'd rather have as his first.

"Okay?" Rodney asked, as if he wasn't capable of a full sentence.

"Yeah. Keep going."

Rodney obeyed, falling into an easy glide.

John was stretched enough that Rodney's cock didn't feel painful, just a little bit of a burn. He'd let a few of his subs finger him, but Rodney's cock was definitely larger. John's cock was happy enough, slowly stiffening to poke into Rodney's torso, and it was surprisingly cool, to lie back and let Rodney take charge.

Reaching between their bodies, Rodney took hold of John's cock, stroking in time to his thrusts. His pace stayed smooth, unhurried, like a musician keeping a good tempo.

Rodney's cock felt good, plunging in and out of him, gradually becoming easier to take as John's ass became accustomed to the stretch. Best of all was the determination in Rodney's eyes, as if every cell in his body and genius brain was focused on pleasuring John, on making sure that he enjoyed surrendering his virginity.

"Come now," Rodney said. "You should come first."

John gave him a little smirk to reassure him, kissed him, and obeyed, throwing back his head and moaning as his come erupting from his cock, covering Rodney's fingers. Definitely good, and worth repeating from time to time, if nothing else for the hotness of Rodney's determination to satisfy him.

Rodney gave a sob of relief as he came, revealing that he had been nervous. He collapsed momentarily on top of John, before gathering his strength and heaving himself to the side. "Are you okay?" he asked anxiously.

"Hmm... that was good." Rolling to his side and propping his head on one hand, John smiled down at Rodney, feeling the twinge in his ass and thigh muscles. "Thank you, Rodney."

"Thank you. For trusting me."

He stroked his thumb along Rodney's lips. "Next time I bottom, I'm going to tie you up so tight that you can't move, and then I'm going to ride you for as long as I like."

Rodney's Adam's apple bobbed as he gulped before nodding in agreement.

"But you won't come until I say, will you Rodney?"

"No, John. I won't," he promised, his eyes reflecting his sincerity.

John ran his fingers through Rodney's hair. He loved that Rodney had switched control back to him completely, letting him play as he wished, lying complaisantly on the bed. "You're the best sub I've had. I've played with others, but with you... it's like we were meant to be together. You feel the same way, don't you?"

"I can't believe you let me be your first. I want to be your sub forever."

"And I'll be your top forever," John promised, claiming Rodney's lips with his own, pressing him into the mattress as he kissed him slowly and completely. Forever sounded just about perfect.

~ the end ~