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Into the Fire

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John had planned to give Rodney a morning blowjob to take the nerves off, but by the time he wakes up at five am on the dot, Rodney's not even in the apartment anymore. John can hear the fan going in the bathroom, so at least it hasn't been long enough for the steam to clear.

By the time he walks the three blocks to Charlie's and peeks his head into the kitchen, Rodney's cooked up a storm. There are three quiches sitting on the baking racks, next to rows of croissants and cherry-cheese danishes. "Mmm," John says, stealing one of the danishes and heading to the front just as Ed comes in.

"Morning," he says, and Ed growls at him in greeting and grabs his usual stool. Lorne rushes in on Ed's heels and gives John a grimace as he heads into the kitchen. "Not the day to be late," John says, but Lorne just shakes his head and puts on an apron.

Their normal morning rush has come and gone before they see the red Camaro and accompanying van in the parking lot. John doesn't say anything to Rodney, just goes out to greet them, and asks them to film their bits with the exterior before coming in. The less time Rodney has to worry, the better.

Guy Fieri shakes his hand and he's twice as effusive in person as he seems on TV, energy rolling off him. He seems completely at home on and off camera, and John is a little envious of his bright cheerfulness. When they come into the diner, a couple of people sitting in a booth halfway back shriek. John told most of the regulars that Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives was coming, but they have a pretty heavy non-regular crowd now, and it wasn't like he was going to put up a sign.

Rodney must have figured it out because he comes out of the kitchen, his eyes going wide at seeing Guy. "Mr. Fieri," he says, holding his hand out to shake. Guy laughs and shakes it heartily.

"Hear that?" he asks his crew. "Mr. Fieri. I'm the man."

Rodney blushes, and John puts a hand on his back to steady him.

"I smell something delicious," Guy says, turning to the booths and wandering down them, sniffing. When he doesn't find what he's looking for, he starts back along the counter, stopping in front of Teyla, where she's finishing up a piece of the quiche. "What is that?" Guy asks, sniffing harder.

"Quiche," Teyla says. "My mother's recipe."

Guy's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. "Really?" He looks up at Laura, who's standing by with her coffeepot in hand. "Can I get some of that?" he asks, and she beams at him.

"Anything else?" she asks.

Guy turns to the diner at large and asks, "So what shouldn't I miss?"

There's a whole lot of noise, and John makes out the names of a few things, but mostly it's just a roar. Guy turns back to Rodney. "Why don't you give me one of all your specials?"

Rodney nods, dumbfounded, and nearly trips over John as he turns around to get to the kitchen. "Lorne!" he shouts as soon as he gets into the kitchen, and John grins at Guy. "He's usually more chatty," John says.

"So I've heard," Guy says. "Several of the emails talk about the sharp tongue of the chef."

John's a little surprised there was more than one email. He'll have to quiz Jinto about that - it wouldn't surprise him to find out he organized an email campaign. "All part of the atmosphere," John says.

"So what would you recommend?" Guy asks.

John has to think about it; Rodney usually throws something together for them, something off the menu. "The grilled cheese and strawberries," he says, and Guy looks skeptical. "And the risotto mac and cheese, and bleu cheese pulled pork sandwich." He shrugs at Guy's grin. "It's Wisconsin. We do a lot of cheese here. Actually, the couscous is pretty good."

"Couscous?" Guy asks. "As an entree?"

"Yep," John says. "Turns out we have a large vegan crowd, so Rodney's tried to make sure they have some decent food to eat. The quinoa burger's pretty good too, but don't tell him I told you that."

Guy shakes his head. "Man, you think I'd stop being surprised after all this time, but people just keep pulling out the craziest stuff."

Rodney can't seem to make up his mind about what to serve, so Guy's surrounded by plates before he begs for mercy. Teyla, Ronon, Jinto, and his crew are all tasting the dishes, offering up their opinions. Ed just grunts at them all, but he's the guy that finishes up every plate when they're done. "Okay," Guy says, "I think we have a few things I'd really like to see you make. Ready?"

Rodney's grinning at the assembled crowd through the little window, and John can't help grinning back.

Lorne's kicked out of the kitchen when Guy goes back, only a little earlier than Rodney usually sends him home anyway, so he comes around to sit at the counter and listen to them in the kitchen. Rodney's on his home turf back there, snapping and talking a mile a minute, Guy injecting humorous or obvious cooking information when he can get a word in edgewise. He seems amused with Rodney, which John's found is one of only a few ways people take him. Either you laugh at him or you cry because of him. He's lost more than one customer to Rodney's sharp tongue, but on balance, John doesn't mind.

After Rodney snaps at Guy's guesses at his cooking times and spice mixtures a couple times, Guy cuts the camera for a second to talk to him, low, and John can't hear Guy, but he hears Rodney loud and clear and can imagine his flushed face when he says, "Oh. I hadn't thought of that." Guy claps him on the back loud enough to hear and the filming starts again, Guy still his cheery self and Rodney taking a while to get back to his patter about whose recipe things are and how the diner's staff and patrons are the family they get the family recipes from.

Guy only takes a bite or two of most of the things they make, so Rodney puts them up in the window for whoever wants the rest. Ed's eating well enough that John's a little worried he might pass out on his stool, and they'll have to set up a cot for him in the back. Teyla also packs in a lot of food, but he's always known she's got a hollow leg or bottomless stomach so he doesn't worry about it. Ronon's picky, so while he doesn't eat most things, he tries them all to see if he might like them. He normally sticks to the same three dishes when he orders and John doesn't expect it to change anytime soon. Jinto tastes a few things before he has to leave for class, and John tells him to bring his dad with him when he comes back.

Guy spends hours in the back with Rodney and John's attention wanders after a while. He talks about the draft with Teyla and Ronon, asks them how their businesses are going, asks Teyla some stupid questions about taxes he should be able to remember but can never seem to. Ronon brings out his iPad and shows John some ideas for new menu designs and John nixes half of them before Rodney can see them and has a seizure. He'd adamantly said absolutely no orange or yellow in any of their designs and given John the stinkeye when he said it wasn't the colors Rodney was allergic to.

Guy and Rodney come out of the kitchen, Guy grinning from ear to ear like he does and Rodney looking pink and pleased. John's back at the register because their early dinner crowd is coming in and he can't just shoot the shit with Teyla and Ronon all day. Well, not on the wrong side of the counter. Katie and Marie are running around with drinks and salads and sides, explaining about the shooting and that it may take a while to get their food out.

When Rodney sees the number of people in the diner, his eyes go round. "Katie!" he growls at her, looking at the window. "Where are all the tickets?"

"You were busy, boss," Katie says sweetly, and puts a pile of saved-up tickets in the window.

Rodney's mouth drops open and John pats his shoulder and gives him a quick peck on the cheek. "Relax," John says. "I called Halling in early, he should be here any minute to help out."

Rodney turns a brighter shade of pink and disappears into the kitchen, snatching the tickets out of the window and riffling through them angrily. The bell rings and Jinto comes in with his dad, who immediately steps through to the kitchen and into Rodney's angry monologue. "I need six orders of fries, two orders of onion rings, and four pork and bleu sandwiches," he gripes, and Halling's mild answer is too soft for John to hear.

Guy's been cruising the tables, talking to people about the diner. A lot of them are regulars, and they talk about how they can't live without their particular fixes, and how the diner is just a nice place to come in and hang out, how friendly everyone is and how good the food tastes - now that Rodney's in the kitchen. John tries not to be upset about that, he's always known he wasn't a good cook.

Guy interviews him for a while, telling him he needs something to do while they wait for the food to come up – he can go around the crowd again as soon as there's food on the table. He asks John about the history of the place, and John tells the whole story about O'Neill and his uncle and Rodney. Guy's eyes crinkle a little when John talks about Rodney. John's not the blushing type, but it's hard not to be embarrassed when he gets compliments on him and Rodney as a couple. It's weird, he never thought couples got compliments. But apparently people like the pair of them, and John has never known quite how to react to that.

After Guy takes another tour of the diner, everyone's mouths full and big smiles on their faces, John calls Rodney out of the kitchen as Guy and his crew get ready to say their goodbyes. Teyla, Ronon, Jinto, and Halling all come out to grin at Guy like starstruck teenagers. "It was a trip," Guy says, shaking hands around the group. As he waves from the Camaro, John puts his arm around Rodney, feeling the tension drain from him as Guy's frosted hair disappears into the sunset.

"Come on," John says, giving Rodney a squeeze. "I don't know about you, but I need a drink."

"I'm buying," Ronon says, and Teyla punches him on the arm before handing over several folded bills.

"Ronon bet that they would have to stop the cameras for Rodney's –"

Rodney's glare keeps her from finishing her sentence.

"I was the one who thought you would control yourself," Teyla says, her jaw jutting out in a tiny pout.

"So I'm buying," Ronon says again, and John slaps him on the back.

"Good save, buddy." John herds Rodney out the door and they head across the street to the bar that gives them most of their late night business, Caldwell serving up their beer before the even get up to the bar.