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The Wedding Date

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This was pure and complete insanity, Rodney muttered to himself. Insanity, bound to backfire. Maybe he could claim guilty by reason of genius? Geniuses were supposed to be a little crazy, right? Too much intelligence, surrounded by too many idiots who couldn't comprehend his brilliance. Such stifling isolation was bound to have repercussions.

But where the hell was she? The insanity couldn't start if she didn't show, and Rodney believed strongly in the responsibility of other people to be prompt. He checked his watch again, paced the small waiting room for first-class travelers, received another dirty look from the bluff fellow who was getting steadily drunk, and checked his watch again. She was in a service industry; she ought to understand the value of timeliness.

"Rodney McKay?"

Rodney whirled to face an incredibly hot guy with wild dark hair and greenish eyes. He was dressed in a dark blue suit that hung elegantly on his lean frame, and held a garment bag over one shoulder. A runner's body, Rodney thought. Muscled but not too hideously pumped up. The cowlicks ruined what could have been a James Bond look. "Yes, I'm Dr. Rodney McKay."

The fellow offered his free hand. "John Sheppard."

Rodney took it, finding his hand firmly shaken. "Yes, and?"

"Monique can't make it, I'm afraid. She sent me as her replacement."

Rodney gaped wider than the stupidest undergrad because what the hell did he mean, replacement for Monique? "What do you mean, replacement? You're a guy!"

Sheppard cocked an eyebrow, then looked down at himself. "Yeah, guess I am."

"I need a hooker, damn it, not a gigolo!"

Bluff fellow snorted into his martini, and Sheppard dropped his garment bag over Rodney's, taking him by the elbow, pulling him toward the non-existent privacy of the wall. "Look, this is all about appearance, right? You don't want sex?"

"Of course it's all about appearance! The appearance of having a hot girlfriend, in front of the woman who ought to be marrying me, not Mr. Loser, what's-his-name, the alien from outer space. You don't qualify." Anyone from the Stargate project would flip if they heard him reference the groom as an alien from outer space, but it wasn't like Sheppard would even begin to imagine it was the truth.

Sheppard smiled charmingly, unperturbed by Rodney's sarcastic protest, and Rodney had to note he had a nice smile, and a friendly air that would draw people to him. "This works even better than a woman. It's not only that you've found someone better, but that you never really wanted this woman – what's her name – "

"Sam. Samantha. Doctor Samantha Carter."

"Sam Carter, right. So you were trying to blend in, not reveal that you're bisexual. But really, you're not yearning for her and not wishing she were marrying you, because you've always liked guys better. It's the ultimate rejection."

"Yes, or losing her made me gay! Wouldn't that look great. Poor lonely Rodney can't even find a woman - "

"Sexuality doesn't work that way and I'm sure she knows that. Besides, I can make it look convincing. A little cuddling, some kissing… you're not going to look like you're yearning." As he spoke, Sheppard stepped closer, the heat and nearness of his strong body almost overwhelming, his smile wickedly seductive as he promised to make Rodney appear desired.

Rodney stared some more, wondering why his brain couldn't find a way to counter the suggestion. Sheppard was a persuasive fellow, making this adjustment to the already insane plan sound perfectly reasonable, but Rodney was normally made of sterner stuff, fully capable of decimating other people's theories with incisive brilliance. "But – "

"Come on, Rodney." Sheppard stroked his hand down the side of Rodney's face, the touch of his long fingers surprisingly erotic. "This can work. You need an attractive date and I need a job."

"Yes, but – " Rodney glanced around nervously, but bluff fellow had put his head back and was snoring. He hated to admit any concern about his own inadequacy, but Sheppard already knew he'd hired a hooker, he must realize this situation was nerve-wracking for Rodney. "I don't know that I can fake – this. I need her to believe that I've moved on. She'll know I haven't if she realizes that I'm faking it. I'm not good with bluffing. I don't have a poker face. This was never likely to work anyway. Oh my god, this was an insane idea, I don't – "

Sheppard interrupted Rodney's incipient panic attack by taking him in his arms, bringing their mouths together, and sticking his tongue down Rodney's throat. Sheppard's body was lean but hard with muscle, his arms strong and supportive as they bent Rodney's body back, his lips and tongue greedy and devouring. And incredibly hot.

In an embarrassingly short amount of time, Rodney was whimpering in the back of his throat, returning the kiss, trying to get his tongue an equal distance down Sheppard's throat, and beginning to rock his hips against Sheppard's.

"I think that'll work, don't you?"

Rodney jumped away, brushed his hands through his short hair and adjusted his silk tie, making sure he was presentable. He was pleased that Sheppard was having to go through the same motions. Even though he was a highly paid experienced professional, the kiss had disturbed Sheppard too. The only difference was that Sheppard wasn't bothering to try to make his crazy hair behave. "Yes, yes, certainly, we do seem to have sufficient chemistry together. That ought to convince Sam. But I thought hook, er, gigolos didn't kiss on the mouth."

"Escort is good, and I'll make an exception for this weekend, since it's mostly an acting job."

"I've won an award for acting," Rodney noted, ready to snap if Sheppard made a comment about his sudden reversal from insecurity to arrogance. "I expect you to live up to my high standards."

Sheppard's eyes gleamed in amusement. "Don't worry. We'll be very persuasive together. Your ex-girlfriend will be convinced."

"Good. Good. Not that she was quite my girlfriend, just…" Rodney decided he didn't actually need to try to explain his relationship with Sam Carter to the paid escort. Instead, he pick up his laptop case and garment bag, slinging them over his shoulder. "Shall we board?"

Nodding, Sheppard gestured at Rodney to go first. Rodney did, marching out of the room and toward the gate, his worry about potential humiliation now warring with the excitement of spending an entire weekend in Sheppard's company.


"So I figured we should revise the story some," Sheppard said, stretching his long legs and accepting a Scotch on the rocks from the flight attendant.

"You're not going to get drunk, are you? I don't want you throwing up and passing out." Wouldn't that be a great way to start the weekend, to arrive in Colorado with a comatose date?

"I'm not going to get drunk," Sheppard said patiently. "I'm going to have a drink to relax because I have difficulty with flying, okay?"

"Okay," Rodney agreed, still suspicious. "Why change the story? I like the story."

"Because I'm not believable as a personal buyer you met because you're too busy and important to handle your own shopping."

Rodney assessed Sheppard, the masculine body elegantly covered by a dark blue suit and the face that could grace a cologne ad, down to the requisite manly stubble. "You seem believable to me as a personal buyer."

"That's because you've never met one. I'm not," he waved at himself, "plucked enough. I don't know brand names."

Perhaps he had a point. He did seem too comfortably masculine to be a metrosexual. Personal buyers probably knew how to find products that would tame cowlicks. "And your brilliant suggestion is?"

"I'm a math teacher. High school, poor neighborhood. I came to see you to ask your support for the scientific advancement of today's youth. Computers for the classroom, that sort of thing. We hit it off."

Rodney snorted. "That's your great idea? Math teacher? Can you even balance a checkbook?"

Sheppard glared, and Rodney realized he liked his expression better when it was softened from kissing. "I can answer any math question your friends can throw at me."

Not that they would, Rodney thought. Sam would be busy with bridal things, and math was hardly Daniel, Teal'c, or Jack's forte. Definitely not Jack's. Hopefully not the new guy's either, or what's-his-name, the groom. "And teaching?"

"We've all gone to high school. I can wing it."

"I didn't. Well, only for two years, and only because they made me waste my time by refusing to let me test out of everything. They thought I needed the high school experience, as if being stuffed into lockers and tormented by idiot jocks was going to build my character or increase my already superior intellect."

"Monica said you were smart."

"I'm a genius," Rodney answered smugly. This weekend had 'huge embarrassing disaster' written all over it, but at least talking about his own intelligence was a topic he could handle, much more comfortable than trying to have a conversation with this hot guy, who kissed more explosively than an atom bomb. John. He needed to think of him as John, his boyfriend.

"And a very successful businessman, Monica said. A consultant on all sorts of scientific or engineering projects. Exactly the kind that desperate math teachers would hit up for donations."

"Well, yes," Rodney admitted grudgingly. His consulting business was as successful as it ought to be, which meant he was frequently pestered by charities. The plane rocked, hitting turbulence, and John gripped Rodney's arm.

"I hate being a passenger on a plane."

John's fingers were tight on Rodney's arm, squeezing him, and Rodney patted his hand awkwardly, trying to pry them off before he cut off his circulation. "I need that arm," he said finally, and John smiled ruefully, relaxing his grip. It was reassuring to see that John wasn't as perfect and confident as he appeared. Rodney curled his fingers around John's, holding them loosely, letting the touch offer comfort.


"Look, I very specifically asked for two rooms. I booked two rooms. My confirmation number should include two rooms."

The hotel clerk opened her mouth to once again brush over their incompetence without rectifying the problem, but John waved her to silence and hissed in Rodney's ear. "Take the damn room, Rodney."

"But I reserved – " and then Rodney found himself being thoroughly kissed again in that disconcerting manner.

"One room is great," John said to the clerk while Rodney's lips chased for his. "Two keys," he added, giving Rodney a shake.

Rodney cleared his throat and tried to pull himself back to the present. "Yes, fine, if you're – "

"Paying for a second room would be a waste of money, right?" he asked pointedly, his brows shifting toward Daniel Jackson, who stood across the lobby. "It's not like we'd use it, right? So why don't you sign the slip and let's buy your friend a drink, okay? We should thank him for picking us up at the airport."

"Um, right," Rodney said, scrawling his signature on the credit card slip. "I'll be checking all charges carefully," he threatened, before being manhandled toward Daniel.


"Nothing of consequence," John smiled, both of their garment bags over his shoulder. "Got time for a beer? The bar looks nice."

"Sure," Daniel agreed amiably. Daniel had blinked a little at being introduced to John, before welcoming him warmly to Colorado, but otherwise hadn't reacted to Rodney's having a boyfriend. No matter how confident John had seemed that they could pull off this masquerade, Rodney was relieved at the lack of questioning. John gave the garment bags and laptop case to the porter while Rodney and Daniel found a table in the dimly lit hotel bar. Fortunately the menu included Molson's, though Daniel and John opted for Sam Adams.

"So how did you two meet?" Daniel asked.

Now the questions came. Hell, Rodney thought, but John launched into his ridiculous story and surprisingly, Daniel seemed to swallow it without protest. Really, you'd think that anyone who explored the galaxy for a living would know better than to buy that someone as hot as John could teach high school math. Adolescents would be constantly molesting him in the hallways. The only element Daniel didn't accept was Rodney's charitable nature.

"Hey, I can give money away! I can be nice to poor kids!" Rodney yelped, but his assertions were met by Daniel's polite blandness and doubting eyes.

"We're still discussing Rodney's contributions. He's a scientist. He likes to see measurable results." John took Rodney's hand that had been resting on the table, turned it over and pressed a kiss to the palm, a gesture that was more distracting than Rodney had ever guessed it could be. Lips and palm shouldn't be a big deal, but the combination jolted straight to Rodney's groin. "But everything snowballed from there. We haven't spent a lot of time chatting – " and how did he make such a simple sentence imply that they'd been boffing like bunnies? – "so I haven't gotten filled in on all of you guys. How did you two meet? You're a friend of Sam's too?"

Ha! Rodney thought maliciously, letting Daniel figure out how to avoid explaining the Stargate program. Daniel didn't even hesitate as he answered, "Rodney came in as a consultant for the project I work on. It's classified, I'm afraid."

"Classified? I thought you were an archaeologist?"

"Hey, beer! Damn, that looks good. Wish I could join you guys but it's time to mosey to the rehearsal dinner. You must be McKay. I'm Cameron Mitchell. Call me Cam."

The new guy was as much a jock as all the Air Force guys and bore a striking resemblance to Daniel, only without the glasses, and with a louder personality. Rodney shook his hand firmly.

"And you're – ?"

"John Sheppard." John shook hands with Cam, but his face was oddly tight, as if he disliked Cam on first sight. "Rodney's date," he added flatly, and with none of the charm he'd been showing to Daniel since the airport.

"Cool," Cam said, unperturbed, and was no one going to question this sudden change to Rodney's sexuality? Studying John's face, Cam frowned. "Do I know you? You seem familiar."

"I live in New York," John responded, his tone short.

Cam shrugged, dropping the issue. "I just got here from the airport with Sam's brother and his family. They're dropping off their suitcases in the room and then we're going to the restaurant."

Daniel drained his beer. "We'll go on over. Guys?"

They headed to the car with Daniel, but Rodney grabbed John outside, pulling him aside, and Daniel, bless him, for a soft scientist he wasn't a complete moron, made a pointing gesture that he'd get the car. Rodney hissed, "What the hell is the matter with you?"

"You didn't tell me these people were military. Christ, Air Force."

"They're not all military. Daniel's not. Well, he works for the Air Force, but he's a scientist, not a soldier. Airman. Whatever they're called. What does it matter anyway?"

"They're not all – how many of them are?"

Astonished at John's anger, the overt hostility in hazel depths, Rodney floundered. "Sam. Jack. Well, Cam, you could tell that. How could you tell that?"

"I know a flyboy when I meet one. You said Sam was a doctor. A Ph.D."

"She is. She has a doctorate in Astrophysics. But she's a Lieutenant Colonel too."

"Fuck," John muttered.

"Seriously, what is your problem with this? You're an escort, not a pacifist."

A horn beeped, interrupting their tense exchange. Daniel had driven up to the curb, and leaning was over to open the passenger door.

To Rodney's surprise, John grabbed his head in both hands, giving him a demanding kiss before pushing him toward the front seat and getting in the back. Numbly, Rodney buckled his seat belt, wondering what was wrong with John and why it mattered so much.


At least John was over his freak-out by the time they'd reached the restaurant, seemingly calm and laidback as Rodney introduced him to everyone. Civilian clothes were the attire of the evening, so Rodney was careful to add their titles, making sure John wouldn't feel ambushed or whatever the hell problem an escort had with the Air Force. He accepted John's casual nudging to guide them to chairs by Sam's family and away from the military contingent.

Had he had a bad experience with a soldier? Soldiers? Rodney stared at John's face, the hazel eyes, pointy nose and smirky lips, wondering if he'd been – oh god, no – raped by a soldier. The thought of a young John being violated was disturbingly creepy and horrible. But wasn't sexual abuse a common reason for someone to fall into prostitution?

"Hey." John stroked his face, gave him a soft kiss on his lips. "You okay? You look out of it."

Rodney shot a glance at Jack, at Cam. Sure, he'd trust them with his life, with the lives of everyone on the Earth, but… "What is your thing with the military? We can leave if you have a problem. We can go back to New York tonight."

"What?" John was startled, but followed Rodney's gaze to the General. "Christ, Rodney, nothing – it's nothing horrible. My dad was military, that's all. We don't talk any more."

"He didn't, um…"

John smiled, pulled Rodney's face to his so their foreheads met, whispering. "He's just a jerk, that's all. And I was in for a while and got kicked out. I have a problem with following orders, probably because he always gave so many. Nothing like what you're thinking."

"Oh, okay, good. Because we can leave like that," Rodney snapped his fingers to illustrate, "if you want."

Another soft, sweet kiss was his answer, John's lips covering his own, opening his mouth, exploring in gratitude. John was definitely living up to his promise to make Rodney desired, and Rodney found reciprocating his attention very easy.

"Hey, lovebirds, I think you're supposed to leave that to the bride and groom." Jack's call jerked Rodney away from John. "And you're holding up the ordering."

John repeated the bar order for them, Molson's and a Sam Adams, and Rodney wondered if he liked his presumption or not. He wasn't the girl in this relationship. Damn it, John was the one being paid, ergo he was the girl, but his attentiveness made Rodney feel warm and fuzzy inside. He was mostly accustomed to his dates complaining about the inconveniences of his food allergies, not remembering his preferred foods and ordering for him.


The rehearsal dinner went much better than Rodney had expected. With John's warm hand occasionally caressing his thigh or holding out a tidbit from his own plate for Rodney to taste, sitting across from the gorgeous woman who should have had his children and the lame-ass loser what's-his-name she'd settled for was far less disturbing than he'd feared. John was certainly earning every penny of the exorbitant fee Rodney had paid, and Rodney squelched the wish that this evening represented more than just a job for him.

Sam's niece was on Rodney's other side and though he normally hated talking to teenagers, she took after her aunt, blonde, bubbly, blue-eyed, and fascinated with science. Unlike her aunt, she was gratifyingly eager for his input and advice, leading to a lengthy discussion on how to build an atomic bomb for her senior science project.

Rodney kept an ear open to John's rumble, not because he normally bothered to monitor a date's social trivialities, but to ensure their stories stayed matching and to make sure John was having a good time. John spoke mainly with Vala, who'd somehow ended up on the other side of him, even though Rodney could have sworn that Sam's sister-in-law had started out in that chair. Vala waxed enthusiastically for the longest time about the many joys of the mall which jeez, John knew not to sound like an escort, hadn't anyone told Vala not to be obvious in her alienness? Their conversation did convince Rodney that John was correct in his assertion that he wouldn't have been believable as a personal shopper. John knew less about malls than Rodney did, and Rodney only went clothes shopping when his sister, during her annual visits, dragged him. He could be brilliant in a ratty t-shirt and boxers as easily as in Abercrombie and Dolce.

John trotted out more of his math teacher story and yes, okay, he was quite believable, complete with details of his students' lives and goals, and the computer equipment and software John hoped to provide for them. Rodney was unwillingly impressed by John's thoroughness.

They'd finished dessert, Rodney licking the dish to get every trace of his chocolate mousse, when John tugged him to his feet. "Dance with me."

"What? No! There are – there are speeches!" His imploring entreaty fell on deaf ears as Jack waved them away.

"Tomorrow, Rodney. Tomorrow. Let's not have any more speeches than we have to."

Rodney was dragged in John's wake toward the jukebox, and he was a genius, how could he not find an excuse out of this? But then John had popped coins in the jukebox and some sappy popular romantic song began playing, and John's arms were around him which, well, was pretty nice. He was quickly becoming accustomed to being touched and held.

"Jeez, Rodney, I'm trying to talk to you." The words were cranky but the tone soft, spoken directly into Rodney's ear as John's body shifted against his in tune to the beat. "It's going okay, isn't it?"

Okay, swaying with the music, not real dancing. Rodney could handle this. Stand in one place, transfer weight from one foot to the other, try not to get an erection. "Yes, it's going quite well. Sam totally buys us. Are you, um, okay now?"

"I still can't believe you didn't mention they were military. Wasn't that the biggest problem about showing up with a boyfriend?"

"I didn't think of it," Rodney answered truthfully. Even geniuses had occasional blind spots. "It's not like homosexuality ever gets mentioned. Everyone on the project is straight."

John snorted, the release of air tickling Rodney's ear. "Yeah… no. That's 'don't ask' don't tell' at work. Some of them are gay."

"Really?" Over John's shoulder, Rodney watched Jack and Daniel talk to each other, Sam and her groom, what's-his-name, Teal'c, Cam… "I don't think so."

"There's a bunch of people on this deep space telemetry project, right? You know the stats. Some of them are gay."

"Huh." Of course, if he'd thought to tell John that he couldn't bring a boyfriend because the airmen might be offended, then John might have stayed in New York, and they wouldn't be dancing together. Overall, Rodney decided he was pleased to have not considered that issue.

"Yeah, but the gayness of the Air Force isn't the issue. Vala said there's stuff planned tomorrow. Breakfast and taking Sam's brother and his family on a tour of the city. Do you want to go with them? Or hang at the hotel?"

"I, um, what do you want to do?"

"We might as well go. Look like we're being social."

"Yes, yes, that's good."

"Okay, good," John answered, and that was all they needed to discuss but somehow Rodney found his head resting on John's shoulder as they kept swaying in time to the music.


Rodney weaved into the hotel lobby, feeling quite jovial. The evening had gone well, really, really well. John had been the perfect escort, even despite his insistence on dancing several times. Swaying. Sway-dancing. Whatever. Rodney giggled.

John's hand was loose on his arm, keeping him moving toward the elevator, but hey – there was an ATM.

"Oh, money," Rodney said, beelining toward the machine. Sighing, John followed, keeping a hand on him. Not that it was needed, because Rodney was fine.

He pulled out his wallet, dropped it, bumped heads with John as they both bent down for it. "Ow," he complained, massaging his forehead.

"Maybe you should do this in the morning?" John suggested, handing him the wallet.

"No, need it now." Rodney fumbled through his wallet. "Mensa card," he said, showing it to John. It seemed important that John understand that Rodney was very intelligent. "I'm a member."

"I could've been in Mensa. Passed the test."

"You did?" Rodney frowned. "Then why aren't you?"

"I've never been much of a joiner. Weren't you going to get money?"

"Oh. Yes." Tucking the Mensa card away, Rodney found his ATM card. John caught his hand, inserting the card in differently from the way Rodney tried to put it in. "Are you sure that's the right way?"

"Put in your pin, Rodney."

"Look away."

John rolled his eyes but then averted them as Rodney typed in his pin. "Two hundred?" He typed in the digits 200, hit enter, waited for the machine to cough up his money.

"Two hundred for what?"

The money popped out of the slot. Rodney pulled it free, handed it to John. "For you. Is that enough?"

John stared at the money in his hands, at Rodney's hand wrapped around his. "Enough for what?"

"For sex. Enough for sex."

"Christ." John shot glances around the empty hotel lobby, glaring at the receptionist behind the counter. "We're not having sex."

"Why not?" Rodney asked, and he was so not pouting. "Do you need more?" He turned back to the ATM, but John was there first, hitting the 'no' button and making the machine give back his card.

"Not even a blow job?" Rodney asked plaintively, stroking John's lips. "I bet you give fabulous blow jobs."

"Keep your voice down! Or better yet, shut up." John bent down to get Rodney's wallet and when had that landed on the floor? Maybe he'd dropped it when he'd stroked John's lips.

"I want to have sex," Rodney lamented as John hustled him across the lobby and to the elevators. "Can't we have sex? You have sex with other people."

John shoved him into the elevator. "You're wasted McKay. You couldn't get it up anyway."

Rodney studied the front of his trousers, considering that accusation. "I think I could. If you were naked I'm sure I could." Naked John was undoubtedly as appealing as clothed John.

"You'll be lucky to make it to bed without passing out." John dragged him out of the elevator and down the hallway, muttering, "Come on," at the door lock as it slowly took its time turning green.

"I want to have sex with you. You're really hot. And funny. And charming. Sam was so jealous. You're much better looking than what's-his-name. Hey, no pushing!" he yelped as John thrust him through the open door.

"This weekend was never about sex. You hired me to be an escort, not a hooker."

Stumbling from the momentum of John's shove, Rodney flopped onto the nearest bed. "Can't we change the terms of the contract? Add an addem, addem, addendum? I've got – " Rodney patted his pockets. "Two hundred more dollars, somewhere around here."

"Right here." Placing the money on the nightstand, John knelt by Rodney's feet. Rodney brightened instantly. John on his knees was a good sight, even though Rodney's happy smile made John glare. "I'm going to help you get undressed and into bed and that's all."

"Are you really a hooker? You don't act much like a hooker."

"Yeah, how many hookers have you hired?" John asked as he tugged off Rodney's shoes and socks, removed his jacket and button-down shirt and hoisted him to stand to take off his trousers before pushing him under the covers.

Rodney couldn't help but watch John as he worked, the hair that had gotten even messier, the wry twist to his lips, his lean body in the blue suit, still as appealingly elegant in a rumpled fashion as he had been in New York, before they'd flown to Denver and spent the evening in wedding festivities. "Are you sure?" he asked as John tucked the covers up to his chin. "Really sure? I can't change your mind? I could give you a blow job. I've been told I'm very good at oral sex, even by women who said I was an arrogant asshole. Very, um, focused. I bet I'd be superb at blow jobs."

"I'm sure. Go to sleep." John snapped off the lights and went into the bathroom. Rodney heard water running as he fell asleep.


Rodney woke feeling like someone trapped on the edge of a black hole, his body painfully stretched into a thin layer of particles by the power of gravity. He groaned in misery, glaring at John, who was sitting in the armchair by the window, the curtains open enough to allow him light to read a heavy hardback book sitting open on his lap. Instead of yesterday's suit, John wore a black t-shirt and faded blue jeans, his feet bare. Even so casually dressed with his hair uncombed, he was way too hot.

"You should have some water. And there's coffee and cranberry juice."

Giving another groan, Rodney buried his head under the covers. He heard the noise of John moving around, and then felt him sit on the bed. "Come on." John patted Rodney through the covers. "Have some aspirin."

Reluctantly, Rodney struggled out of the covers, downed the two pills in John's hand, drank the glass of water, and burrowed back down, sheltering from the limited light. "How are you even awake?" he asked.

"I wasn't the one who did shots with Tilk." Shots hadn't been on the agenda, but Sam had left to get a good night's sleep, taking her brother and his family with them, and Jack had decided they needed a little impromptu bachelor party for the groom, paying the waiter to bring them a bottle of whiskey. Jack was a wicked man who didn't deserve to be a General.


"Yeah, Tilk. That's what I said."

"Yes, and if you're going to say I told you so, you can shut up."

John patted him again, and Rodney could almost feel the waves of amusement. "The non-vocal laughing can stop too."

"I'll go back to my book. You can sleep another four hours."

"Oh god, we were supposed to do something with teenagers." They had agreed to join the family tour, hadn't they?

"I called Daniel and cancelled for us. Sam's family should already be touring the city."

Rodney was sure he should reply in some way, appreciation for John's notifying Daniel or something. Express a wish that John had implied they were going to have hot raunchy sex this morning, not that Rodney was hung over. Instead, he fell asleep.


The extra sleep, a hot breakfast from room service, and a half-pot of coffee left Rodney feeling much more mellow as he watched Daniel walk Cassie Frasier down the aisle. The gray-blue suit was a good color on Daniel, and Cassie had grown into a gorgeous young woman, looking very striking in a flirty wine colored dress. They took their places, Daniel by what's-his-name, Cassie on the other side, and everyone paused, waiting for the bride.

John poked Rodney as the wedding march started, and he belatedly rose, realizing everyone else was already standing. Sam was beautiful in a white bridal gown and veil, holding onto Jack's arm. Jack was dressed as a General, not in a tux, giving a sense of earthly reality to the fairy-tale picture.

Sam's smile was radiant as she walked up the aisle, her attention captivated by her future husband. Rodney glanced back at what's-his-name, his happy face similarly shining as he watched Sam approach. He'd never been to a wedding where the couple was so obviously deeply in love with each other. For the first time, he conceded that he didn't absolutely hate that he wasn't the one standing there.

"You okay?" John whispered softly.

Rodney took his hand, curling their fingers together. John was wearing a black suit, looking just as attractive as yesterday, and still being sweet and thoughtful. He had the rest of the day to pretend that they were lovers, that John cared for him, and he was going to enjoy it. "Yes. I'm good."


One of the benefits of attending a wedding organized by a hyper-successful Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Doctor was that the arrangements ran without a hitch, and decidedly with a keen appreciation of the guests' comfort. None of this endless waiting for pictures of the wedding party to be taken or tedious minutes spent standing in a reception line nonsense. Ceremony over, the caterers were efficiently serving the food, a veritable smorgasbord of selections, chicken and steak and vegetables and salads and warm rolls and an open bar. Rodney loaded his plate but stuck to water, deciding not to risk another hangover.

Daniel's speech as best man was amusing and brief and didn’t interrupt Rodney's eating, which was his main criteria for a successful speech by someone else. (His own speeches tended to be long and insightful and he hated to hear the clatter of silverware while he was making them, but that wasn't relevant today.) As substitute-father, Jack offered a champagne toast that was even more amusing and shorter, and also didn't interfere with Rodney's second serving. Sipping his token glass of champagne, Rodney was feeling quite pleased and mellow.

John leaned close to Rodney, his breath warm on Rodney's ear. "I thought Daniel was Sam's friend, not the groom's. Why's he the best man?"

Great, he had to be curious. "The groom's from someplace foreign. Gallifrey or something. I don't think a lot of his family or friends could come."

"Yeah, I'm sure your Lieutenant Colonel Doctor is marrying a Time Lord."

"You know Doctor Who?" Really, could this man be any more irritatingly perfect?

"Yeah, Rodney, I know Doctor Who." He glanced around the room. A number of scientists from the Stargate project were there, but also a lot of airmen, and though not all of them had worn dress blues, their posture and good health and short haircuts tended to make even those in civvies identifiable, especially to John, who had that weird eye for flyboys. "Aren't a lot of these people Air Force? Are any of the groom's family here?"

"Oh, look! They're going to cut the cake."

John rolled his eyes at Rodney's obvious diversion, but they both scooted their chairs to watch as Sam and what's-his-name cut a slice of cake – chocolate, once again proving that Sam was an intelligent woman who would have been the perfect mother for his children – and feed each other bites without any of that disgusting shoving it into their faces.

The seemingly relaxed but still precisely timed unfolding of events continued. Cake served to everyone, Sam and her husband danced the first dance, then Sam with Jack and hubby with Cassie, then all sorts of variations with Sam's brother, sister-in-law, Daniel, Teal'c, Cam, and Vala, who looked like she was planning on dancing the night away, and were single women supposed to wear black dresses that slinky to weddings? Rapidly bored with watching, Rodney focused on finishing his second piece of cake, taking the last bite seconds before Sam's niece dragged him to the dance floor and made him sway-waltz while pestering him for tips on how to make an accurate casing for her bomb in metal shop.

It was a good thing that he'd eaten so well, because if Sam heard what he'd been discussing with her niece, she'd kill him, and Rodney never wanted to die on an empty stomach.

The dancing had to pause for Sam to finally throw her bouquet, and Rodney was pretty damned sure Vala dug an elbow or two into other women's stomachs before she emerged triumphant, flashing the elegant red roses over her head. And then, oh god, why did people insist on these embarrassing rituals? Daniel and Cam dragged Rodney and John to stand with the rest of the bachelors to catch the garter, and then tried to hide behind them, but fortunately for all four of them, Sam's teenage nephew lunged for the frilly loop, drooling over Vala as he got to pose for pictures with her.

"Almost time to go," Rodney muttered happily and quietly to John as they wound back to their table. "Another piece of cake, watch another dance or two, and let's grab a cab back to the hotel."

"Sounds fine." They sat down at their table, but Cam had followed, snagging a free chair, turning it around, and sitting down on it.

"I do know you. You're John Sheppard."

"You have truly brilliant skills of observation. That's how he introduced himself yesterday."

"Major John Sheppard. You were in Afghanistan." Cam pointed his finger at John, who flushed slightly but otherwise didn't react.

"Is this getting to a point?" Rodney snapped, not interested in the new guy disturbing his blissful evening with whatever he thought he knew about John. "He's a math teacher."

"He tried to save buddies of mine," Cam directed to Rodney, his voice serious. "Mitch's mom wanted you to come to the memorial service. She had a couple pictures of Mitch and you and the rest of your unit on a display."

John's voice was oddly gravelly. "I was getting discharged at the time. It didn't seem right."

"What do you mean, didn't seem right? You tried to save them."

"Tried," John repeated, his voice bitter.

"John?" Rodney asked, not understanding what was happening. John had said something about being in the military, but he hadn't specified it had been the Air Force. No wonder he recognized flyboys.

"Hey, we're not Yoda here. Trying matters. It mattered to Mitch's mom and Dex's folks."

John shook his head a little, like he wasn't willing to believe. Cam reached out, squeezed his arm. "It mattered," he insisted. "We don't leave people behind. And I'm sorry they discharged you for it. That wasn't right."

"It worked out. I like teaching math," John responded, sounding awkward. "And… thanks."

"Mitch's mom and Dex's folks would want to see you, any time you could stop by."

"I'll keep that in mind."

Satisfied with John's response, Cam stood, swinging his leg back over the chair. "Well, I promised Vala another dance. Better go find her or I'll never hear the end of it." He gave a nod to John and Rodney, and wandered off.

Leaning close to John, Rodney hissed, "You were in the Air Force? You were a pilot? You said you hated flying!" Rodney hated being uninformed about any subject, but found it particularly offensive that Cam knew more about John than he did. John was his date.

"I hate being a passenger. I love to fly."

"What did he mean, you tried to rescue buddies of his?"

"It was in Afghanistan. I tried to rescue a couple of guys. I couldn't leave them behind. I failed. I had the option of milk runs for the rest of my career or an honorable discharge. I took the discharge. End of story. Can we drop this now?"

Rodney didn't want to drop the subject. He wanted to know everything about John, where he'd been raised, why he'd gone in the Air Force, where he'd served, why the hell he'd turned to prostitution. But John was looking miserable, the gleam dimmed from his eyes, his mouth a flat line, hands clenched into fists on the table, and for the first time in his life, Rodney found himself patting someone's hand and shutting up.


Some time after Cam had wandered off, long enough that John seemed relaxed again and was bobbing his head in time to the music (proving that (a) he loved music and (b) the lack of rhythm displayed while sway-waltzing was no fluke) and Rodney was contemplating whether he should ask John to dance, Sam showed up at their table.

"I thought you would have asked me to dance by now, McKay."

Rodney glanced at John, who only raised his eyebrows and said, "You should dance with the bride."

Taking Sam's hand, Rodney escorted her to the dance floor, pulling her into an embrace and beginning to sway-waltz like he had with John last night, only not bringing their bodies so close together.

"I like your friend," Sam commented. "And Cam said he was very brave in Afghanistan."

"Not that the Air Force agreed," Rodney sniffed. "They practically kicked him out."

Sam's mouth twisted unhappily. "Not every military decision is the wisest. If he decides he wants back in, have him contact me. Or Jack. We can always use more good people on the Stargate project."

Rodney checked on John, who seemed content to watch him dance while chatting with Sam's brother. "I don't think he will, but I'll let him know."

"Teaching math is a valuable thing to do."

"Yes," Rodney agreed, suddenly wanting to confide in Sam about the monumental waste of a highly trained pilot. She was bright as she was beautiful and occasionally had good insights mixed in with her abysmally incorrect ideas. Certainly she should understand the military mind better than he did. Of course, if John hadn't walked away from the Air Force and started working as an escort, he wouldn't have been in a position to help Rodney this weekend, and these two days could have been hellish without him. Maybe some things were best left alone. "Is your groom working for the Stargate project now?"

"Only on a consulting basis. Kind of like you," she grinned.

"Yes, well, as much as I'd love to work full-time saving the world, I won't get my Nobel only doing classified work."

"You've written some interesting papers."

She read them? Of course she did. Sam was smart enough to keep up with the world of published scientific research and opinion. "Thank you," he said, pleased.

"Good luck on your Nobel," she added as the music drew to a close.

"And good luck on your marriage. I wish you the best." Even if it wasn't with him, so no, not ever the absolute best. But still, they seemed like they'd be a happy couple, and Rodney was pleased for her. Now if only he and John…

"Thanks McKay." Her groom approached, sweeping her into his arms, but Rodney spared only a glance at the dancing couple as he returned to the table and John. "Can we go home now?" he asked, and John rose instantly, giving Rodney a gentle kiss.

"Yeah, let's go," he agreed.


They walked in silence through the hotel lobby and rode the elevator, still without speaking. In the hotel room, Rodney nerved himself, something he didn't normally have to do, and said, "John, I want to make love to you."

John's expression was bleak. "Rodney, we went over this yesterday."

"No, we didn't. No, hear me out. I don't want to hire you. I don't want to have sex with you. I want to make love to you. Top, bottom, I don't care. I need…I need to show you how much I appreciate what you've done this weekend, how much you've come to mean to me."

"And you think you can do that with sex?"

Rodney wasn't often embarrassed – embarrassment was for people who did things to be ashamed about – but he felt the flush of blood pinkening his cheeks. Perhaps he did sound ridiculous to someone who made his living from prostitution, but John hadn't always. The profession was new to him. "Yes, yes. I think I can."

"Okay." John spread his arms wide, his eyes…accepting. "I'm yours."

He'd asked for this and now he'd received permission and what was he going to do? Rodney had never made love to a man. Don’t think of homosexual sex as a completely new and foreign subject, but merely as a variation of skills he already possessed. Sensual, Rodney thought. He could do sensual. Not grabbing and needy like John's clients. Caring. Like someone who'd been so patient and supportive deserved.

Cupping John's face, he placed gentle kisses everywhere, on that slightly pointed nose, on those ridiculous ears, most especially on the soft lips, easing John into being comfortable with his touch before stripping his clothes from him with reverence. He'd seen some of John's body when he'd gotten dressed in his suit, the furred arms and legs as he'd wandered around in t-shirt and boxers, but now his chest and torso and groin was revealed, all of it new ground to worship. Rodney watched John's reactions the entire time to see what pleased him, repeating those touches until John was gasping.

Dropping to his knees, Rodney encouraged John to turn his back to him.

"What are you doing?" John asked, but pivoted as Rodney's hands demanded.

"You have such a great ass," Rodney breathed. Small but rounded and tight with muscle. Rodney spread John's cheeks apart, licking between them, gratified when John gasped and swayed, planting his hands on the bed for support. Keeping his hold steady, Rodney dragged his tongue up and down John's crack, spearing the tip into his hole, the sounds of John's moaning music to his ears. He'd heard about rimming, but he'd never realized how easy it was to do, or how dramatic the results.

"God, Rodney." John pulled away from Rodney's grasp, crawling onto the bed. "Fuck me."

"Are you sure?" Rodney asked, restraining himself from stripping instantly and leaping on John, his body fully on board with this new kind of sex. "I don't want to do anything you don't want."

John spread his legs as Rodney was speaking, the space between strong thighs beckoning to him, answering his concern. "Keep it soft and slow. I like that."

"God, yes, I can do that." This was better than Rodney had dreamed when he'd asked permission. Not only to show John how much he cared, but to be inside him? His clothes hastily discarded, Rodney gave his dick a fierce squeeze, staving off impending orgasm.

"Shit, I didn't – there must be lotion in the bathroom." He turned to head there, but John rolled to his feet with a "Don't worry, I've got stuff," and Rodney had to halt to watch, because a naked John Sheppard walking across the room to rummage in his luggage was officially one of the most gorgeous sights ever.

"Here." John placed a condom and lube in Rodney's hands. "You're drooling," he teased, kissing Rodney gently before positioning himself on the bed again.

"I can hardly be blamed for that," Rodney defended himself, settling on his knees between John's legs. "You are – "

"What?" John prompted, sounding genuinely curious.

"Handsome. Attractive. Intelligent. Supportive. Charming." Rodney supplemented his words with a gentle caress of John's ass, letting him get accustomed to the feel of his hands before introducing one finger to his opening. "Tight," he added.

"Yeah, I don't – don't do this a lot."

Which seemed off, that any client would pass up this opportunity, but Rodney didn't want any reminders of other men in the bed. This was for John, for him and John. "So tight," he crooned, taking his own sweet time, playing with John's body, "so good." He worked diligently on learning how each touch within John could cause him to react, what made him gasp loudest, what caused his hips to buck, how more fingers could make him writhe until he was begging.

"God, Rodney, I'm ready, please."

"Anything you want, John. Anything." A moment's delay to roll on the condom, and then Rodney gave John what he wanted, what they both wanted, Rodney's hard dick plunging deep within, Rodney desperately trying to retain enough control to listen to John's sighs, to judge the speed and angle he liked the best.

"Rodney, stroke me."

"Anything, John," Rodney promised again, though obeying took some coordination, to balance on only one hand, to get the other on John's dick, while maintaining the easy thrusting with his hips. The actual masturbation was easy, like doing it on himself. John's dick was a little longer, a little thinner, but this part Rodney knew well. "God, this is – "

"Good, really, good," John gasped, a sentiment with which Rodney would have agreed, except that John's cock was jerking in his hand, come spurting over his fingers, as John's ass clenched on Rodney's dick. The intensity of the pressure forced Rodney abruptly into orgasm, his eyes momentarily losing their ability to focus, the pleasure made perfect by being shared with John.


They woke entwined, and Rodney pouted at the time displayed on the clock radio. They would need to move soon, to shower and pack and catch their flight home. He didn't want to disturb this cozy feeling, snuggling closer to the warm body next to him. "John?"

"Yeah, I'm awake."

"We need to move soon."

"Yeah." But neither of them did, sleepy bodies cradling each other. Finally, John said, "So you did figure out I'm not a prostitute, right?"

He wasn't? "Um, yes. Yes, of course."

John sighed with exasperation, and smacked Rodney on the head. "Hey!" he yelped, wincing at the blow.

"I can't believe you still think I'm a prostitute."

"Of course I don't. You're a math teacher. High school." He must be, right?

"Yes, I am. And just for that, you're not only coughing up the computers we need, you're speaking at Career Day."

"I am?" Rodney asked, as John rolled out of bed.

Crossing to the bathroom, John answered, "Yes, you are. And don't even think you can pretend you can't afford them, because I've heard from Monica how much consultants can make."

Sitting up in bed, Rodney asked, "Monica, Monique, she is – "

John paused in the doorway. "She's my sister. My dad disowning her is one of the reasons we don't talk. She couldn't make your weekend and when I heard about you, I offered to fill in. And I'm very close to her, so you'd better plan on inviting her to all your social functions."

"Um. Sure." Not that Rodney ever had a lot of social functions, but if John were attending, he'd be happy to see his sister too. Maybe he'd even have a few social functions, so he could invite both of them.

"My Monday is nuts, but we can have dinner Tuesday," John said, disappearing.

"We can? To, uh, discuss Career Day?"

Water began running and John returned to the bathroom doorway. "Career Day's not for another two months. But we can talk about it if you need that much preparation. Want to shower together?" John disappeared again into the bathroom, and Rodney, always a genius, finally realized that Tuesday's dinner was a date, and that the threat about his sister meant John expected them to meet each other's families. He'd gone to Colorado with a paid escort and was coming home with a high school math teacher boyfriend. Jeanne would be ecstatic. "Rodney? Shower?"

Who said weddings were only for the bride and groom? As he threw himself out of bed and bolted for the bathroom, Rodney figured he'd received the best present of all.

~ the end ~