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"You can't possibly be this stupid," is what Rodney finally decides to start with.

Sheppard—varsity football, C in history, passive to inertial curiosity—blinks, all dark lashes over deep hazel eyes. He's the kind of kid who Rodney wishes would turn to a life in adult entertainment once high school is over and he's no longer king of the hill, stock up the back shelves of Rodney's favorite porn shop, flushed and slick-red.

"I," Sheppard starts slowly, setting his hand softly over his battered Jansport backpack, "am guessing I failed the exam?"

Rodney narrows his eyes and slams down John's test paper, three pages with three physics problems. The only thing written on any of the vast white spaces is Sheppard's laconic handwriting tracing out: 

θ = 0.348
θ = 2
θ = 7/22

Sheppard blinks again. "I...didn't simplify to the pi symbol?"

"You cheated," Rodney snarls.

This makes Sheppard lean back in his seat, a long stretch of lean muscle and sun-gold skin, the kind of youth that the Greeks immortalized, sought desperately. He smirks, disinterested and mean, and Rodney remembers vaguely the warnings from the other teachers in the lounge his first week, their suggestions just to ignore Sheppard, that he was the immovable object and the irresistible force, that he wasn't worth it.

"That's mean, Dr. McKay," Sheppard drawls easily. "Just because I didn't show my work."

"Yes, and you sit between Theodore Carlin who's never made anything less than a 98 in this class and Cara Henderson who has a 3.76 GPA and behind Darlene Rocquefort, who's dumb as rocks but great at trading sexual favors for test answers," Rodney snaps. "I pay attention."

"That's some really amazing paranoia you have going on there," Sheppard says mildly before he pushes to his feet, shouldering his backpack and smiling. "Look, believe what you want, but I didn't cheat."

"Be here tomorrow at 3:30," Rodney tells him. "If you really didn't cheat, you can take this test again."

Annoyance flits across Sheppard's face. "I've got practice—Coach—"

"Coach will have even bigger problems if I fail you and you get kicked off the team," Rodney interrupts, feeling a thrill at the way Sheppard's mouth goes into a straight line of fury. "Be here at 3:30—and don't bother trying to find the test beforehand: I won't be writing it until you show up."

Sheppard leaves without a backward glance and the next day, when Rodney writes questions onto his battered blackboard, Sheppard answers with the same lazy disregard. The paper he turns in two minutes after Rodney has finished scribbling the last question into the far corner of the board is nearly naked once more, just another row of disinterested θ, θ, θ.


By the third time Rodney forces John to stay after class Rodney is a wreck. 

He's been giving John progressively harder questions and John has taken only incrementally longer to turn in his papers, and it's always right answers and it's always without any indication of effort. Rodney would almost buy into the reality of the whole thing if it weren't for the fact that Sheppard has never turned in a single homework assignment, has—Rodney's checked, three separate times—a C average and participates in a sport where he routinely gets tackled to the ground by large, angry, smelly teenagers by choice.

"It's really beginning to warp my world view," Rodney tells Radek and Elizabeth and Kate and also Laura Cadman but that's totally by mistake. "I don't know what to do and he's starting to look at me like he's going to rend my flesh from my bones."

"Perhaps he is just smart, McKay. It has been known to happen. There are studies done on the natural phenomenon of these things," Radek tells him unsympathetically, eyes never leaving the stack of undergraduate midterms he's grading. Rodney tried at colleges; too much politics and too little science. Funding will come through for him, Rodney's sure of it, there are grants waiting to be offered, he just has to keep a level head and not kill anybody until they are.

"You shouldn't stereotype so much, Rodney," Elizabeth soothes. "Shouldn't you be excited to have a smart kid in your class? You complain so much about them being deficient."

Kate just reminds him that John is underage and that it's unethical for him to continually describe a teenage athlete with terms like "golden," and"rippled," and "mouth made for sucking cock." 

"Hello, you're my shrink," Rodney reminds her. "If I don't work out my statutory rape issues with you, who the fuck am I going to work them out with—the district attorney? Besides which, I said I wish he would go into porno after he graduated."

Cadman puts salt in his coffee three mornings in a row and calls him a pervert.

"Get your manager," Rodney hisses. "I'm getting your ass fired."

"She has a 16 year-old son of her own," Cadman says, and stares him down.

It's all led up to this, the third and last—Rodney has promised himself in his head—last time he'll do this because it's getting ridiculous and if he can't figure out by now how Sheppard's cheating, then Rodney deserves to let him cheat.

But Sheppard's shoulders are tight with fury and Rodney can recognize a tenuous situation when it wants to punch him in the face, so he doesn't say a word, just slides a handwritten sheet of copier paper across the desk to Sheppard, who blinks down at the problems for a minute—like he's finally been stumped.

Rodney goes to sit behind him, watches for any notes or recorders or voodoo, and ends up watching the strip of skin that's showing between where John's slim hips barely seem to be holding up his jeans and the USAF hoodie he's wearing. He's got three fingers, stroking up and down the inseam of his pants, his dick half-hard and aching before he realizes what he's doing and digs his nails into his leg, horrified and feeling a little nauseated. It's all fun and games until you start wondering if you can lock the door.

When Rodney refocuses on the furious tightness of Sheppard's shoulders more than two hours have passed and he realizes Sheppard's gone all hunched and sullen, still for a minute before he leaves without his traditional glare: half in challenge and half in overt hostility at this point, this fight too personal to keep it detached.

And when Rodney goes to pick up the paper, he finds it entirely blank until he flips it over and sees it crammed in nearly illegibly small print and numbers, symbols and winding trains of thought that make no sense, like an entirely foreign language, until he forgets that he's teaching high school and remembers that the first lines with the second together sing a harmony of a deeply-flawed but wildly interesting Reinman proof, a song about a hypothesis of infinite primes and Rodney has to sit down as he reads it, hands shaking. It's flawed, of course, skipping enormous bodies of work for lack of space, and cursed with a logical inconsistency no more inconsistent than the all the other attempts to give flesh to Bernhard Reinman's suspicions—but it's beautiful, and Rodney reads, enthralled, until the very end where Sheppard has written:

Therefore: fuck you. Love, John.

Rodney goes ahead and writes an A in his gradebook as John's final score—but not before he locks himself into the back stall of the faculty restroom, fists his left hand around his cock and jerks ruthlessly, imagining Sheppard's lazy drawl shaping out variables and numbers and numbers, as huge and unbreakable as the sky.


Rodney keeps the proof, folds it and unfolds and hides it in different parts of his wallet until all the words are smeared. But the suggestion of it, just brushing his finger over the edge of it when he's reaching for a five to pay for a bagel in the mornings is enough to shoot a shiver down his back, to make him think about the line of skin between Sheppard's pants and his shirt, and how Rodney had wanted to lick an equation there.

It takes him a week, but eventually he starts making eye contact with Sheppard during class again, but what he finds in Sheppard's lazy expression is a flicker of interest that makes something burn up in Rodney's stomach. 

"Don't get cocky," Rodney finally says to him, nearly two weeks later. "That proof was wrong."

Sheppard shrugs, clearly unconcerned. "It's one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of mathematics; I'm not crying myself to sleep over my inadequacies or anything."

Rodney stares helplessly after him as Sheppard wanders down the hall and finds himself yelling, "Well! I cry myself to sleep thinking about all your wasted potential!"

"I live to ruin your life, Dr. McKay," Sheppard calls back an waves absently as he disappears around a corner.

Rodney retaliates by giving the entire class a math quiz the next day. It's simple math to know which quiz to write the math puzzle on, and when Sheppard strolls up to the front of the room twenty minutes earlier than everybody else, it's with a playful curl to the edge of his mouth that Rodney's not sure a brain-twister about prime numbers is supposed to put there.

"Where's the challenge, Dr. McKay?" Sheppard says, just softly enough that Rodney can hear the rasp of a whisper in the back of his throat.

Rodney spends his entire hour of therapy that week trying to argue that socially-restrictive rules about who is allowed to love whom are tools of the patriarchy and inflict upon a thinking society unenlightened, religiously-based philosophies he personally does not accept. Rodney points out that Thomas Jefferson, one of the most respected political philosophers in history and a founding father of the United States was a Deist. He talks about the golden age of Greece.

Kate raises her perfect brows at him and says, "Should I print a copy of the NAMBLA membership form for you or did you want to get that yourself?"

"He started it!" Rodney shrieks hysterically. "He threw prime numbers at my head!"

This argument doesn't work with Cadman, either, who tells Rodney that if he keeps this up she's been seeing a guy who may or may not be willing to teach her how to chemically castrate him.

"I'm really grateful you stopped salting my coffee and everything, but as much as I appreciate your ability to foam milk like nobody else," Rodney mutters darkly, "we don't have this sort of relationship."

"Rodney, your behavior is clearly a cry for help," Cadman tells him kindly and passes him a couple of flyers for very specialized porn shops along with his latte. 


By the middle of the semester, Rodney has started forgoing the artifice of giving quizzes—besides, his class was threatening to mutiny—and started writing so-called extra credit math questions on the corner of his board. After three weeks, John surprises him by getting one wrong and when Rodney flags him down to check his temperature and make sure he hasn't gotten brain damage from taking one too many headers into the turf, John just laughs off his concern and says, "I like keeping you on your toes."

Clearly John also likes keeping Rodney disturbingly-aroused, and as winter bleeds slowly into the sky overhead John starts coming to classes red-cheeked, with chapped pink lips. He starts wearing his letter jacket to school and Rodney starts reciting his "I will not give John detention for being disinterested in his future and shove my cock down his throat and tell him to take it. I will not give John detention for being disinterested in his future and go down on him like two dollar hooker, either," mantra during class.

"But he's just so smart," Rodney tells Cadman sadly on Friday morning.

"I know, McKay. I know," Cadman says sympathetically. "Maybe you'll luck out and he'll get a head injury or something."

It's about eight hours later when Rodney hears about John's tragic concussion and the gaping head wound he received during practice in the staff lounge and shouts, "She didn't mean it! Oh my God!"

After a sleepless weekend where he only once—okay maybe four times—fantasizes about nursing Sheppard back to health and keeping him as a highly attractive undergraduate pet of some kind, Rodney stumbles into class Monday morning to find Sheppard (a) not permanently damaged and (b) wearing a tiny, tiny Batman Band aid over his left eyebrow.

"You were brain damaged!" Rodney yells, relief bubbling up in his chest. "They said you were going to be a drooling, frothing mess for the rest of your life!"

John stares at him strangely, his bookbag half abandoned on the floor next to his desk. It's early and nobody else has showed up for first period yet—don't think about why he always gets her 20 minutes early, McKay, Rodney tells himself—and the room is quiet save for the echo of Rodney's hysterics.

"I...tripped over a cooler," John says slowly, brows furrowing. "Are you okay? You look kind of...completely deranged."

"You—!" Rodney says, but realizes that he's suddenly very close, his hand hovering over John's brow, over the ridiculously stupid and adolescent Batman Band aid. 

He has a single moment of crystal clarity where he knows that if he tips forward, pulls John in, presses their mouths together, that it will be frictionless and elegant, like the imaginary spaces of the physics problems Rodney doles out. He thinks that John will taste like October air and ozone, dizzying and sweet, that John is perfect, perfect, perfect and Rodney would love nothing more than to fall into him, to smooth his hands down his body and teach him in the language of mathematical secrets no one has unraveled.

But then John smiles, and it's so easygoing and sweet that it makes Rodney rock back when John takes his hand, moves Rodney's fingers so they run over the rubbery-plastic surface of the Band aid. John says around his smile, "See? Just fine. Just a cut."

"Yes," Rodney says, swallowing around a ball in his throat, and he thinks that it is just a cut—a cut hidden beneath a Batman bandage that John Sheppard who is sixteen whole years old and sweet and new like a morning probably thinks is really cool, and that he is an utter, utter piece of shit.

Rodney takes back his hand and takes one step, two back—do not, Rodney tells himself, look at John's face right now—and makes it eventually behind his desk. Later, the other students will trickle in and Rodney will clear his throat and start to talk about EM fields, about polarities and get distracted, briefly, by a question about gravity and how it curves around the masses of things. 

On Tuesday, there's no math problem on the board. Rodney had one itching at his fingers, wanting for chalk. It's like a secret he can't tell, shouldn't even know, so he forces himself to leave the board blank and yearning, and doesn't watch as John pauses in the doorway after the bell, watches him for a minute before he goes to second period.


Rodney reads a lot of Harlan Ellison during what he calls his Post Child-Molester Phase and must look so terrible that Cadman starts giving him extra shots in his lattes—makes little hearts in the foam and offers them up with a hopeful expression. 

"I'm proud of your moral fortitude?" Cadman tries.

"Whatever," Rodney says and sits by the window of the coffeeshop to sulk and hate football players. 

There's a long silence before Cadman says, "Oh, McKay," in an outward exhale like she's just realized something. For the next week, she gives him a free danish with his coffee, an encouraging smile with the heart in his latte foam.


Rodney has almost convinced himself that his little brush with getting a rape van was a hallucination on his part when he's clearing up some papers after school's let out only to hear the door of the classroom shut—the turning of the lock.

When Rodney lifts his head, John's standing at the door, looking confused.

"John," Rodney says and his fingers go slack around the latest round of physics tests—class average C minus. John got a 99, but only because he still didn't show his work and Rodney took off a point for attitude.

John shuffles a bit where he stands, dropping his backpack near the trashcan and stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He looks as young as he really is, finally, nothing like the faux-tanned twinks in the videos Rodney's got lined up in alphabetical order in his bedroom; he looks a little scared.

"Something wrong?" Rodney asks and looks away because he has this irrational desire to comfort Sheppard, to stroke his hands down John's back until all the tension goes out of his shoulders and he's all soft and yielding again, mellowed. "You look upse—"

"What did I do wrong?" John finally says, urgent. He looks up at Rodney with suddenly-dark eyes. "I don't—did I piss you off? What?"

Rodney closes his hands on the edge of his desk to keep from reaching out. "No," he croaks.

"Then what the fuck, Dr. McKay," John snarls, lip curling, taking three angry strides forward until he's leaning into Rodney's personal space—and Rodney was right: John smells like October air and ozone and he is still, even angry, dizzying, sweet.

"I—I ran out of math puzzles," Rodney says stupidly and leans away. He wishes John was in college already. That they met over coffee with Cadman murmuring filthy suggestions along with Rodney's morning order. That when Rodney saw John, it wasn't for 45 minutes before his next class.

John puts his hand behind Rodney's head—against the wall and oh God, Rodney's being boxed in against the wall—and says quietly, "That is not what I was talking about."

"Then I don't know what you're talking about," Rodney lies and tries to get away, shoves ineffectually at John's arm, feels his pinky slide under the wrist of John's letter jacket to stroke tantalizingly over the whisper-soft skin at John's pulse—which must be what makes John make the wordless noise of desperate frustration and shove Rodney back against the wall, nearly into a window, to kiss him with the awkward need of somebody who's given up on words.


Rodney couldn't even decide what to do first: to fuck John's mouth, to bite at his neck, at his collarbones and the insides of his ams, to suck down the line of his sternum, press sultry, open-mouthed kisses at John's bony hips.

He ends up doing all of it, after trying to shove John away—without much luck or any real effort—and just pulls John in instead, slides his hands down the parabolic curves of John's back, the lean lines of him and tightens his hands on John's slim waist, his thin hips. John's moaning into Rodney's mouth, adrenaline washing off into a lesser, more vulnerable need. Rodney takes the opportunity to bite at one corner, then the other, of John's lips—yeah, made for sucking cock, Rodney always knew, made for kissing and biting—before licking into John's mouth.

"God," Rodney says, in between heavy, atmospheric kisses that are leaving his chin wet, that are making his thighs ache, that are making him slide his fingertips underneath the loose waist of John's pants and just touch, longing, longing for more. "You're just trouble."

John makes a desperate noise in the back of his throat and jerks his hips into Rodney's, awkward and imprecise and Rodney has a moment of such suddenly-crystallized realization that he doesn't even have time to be horrified before he's nearly crippled by the heat of it: John's a virgin. This is the first time he's done this, first time anybody's laid hands on him. John is the undiscovered ocean, an elegant, mathematical truth without a proof, and Rodney wants to map him, to write him, to figure him out, to examine him and lay him out bare in the secret language of numbers.

"Ohfuck," Rodney moans and he slides his hands further down John's pants and helps him, drags him in closer like a yearning moon calling at the sea. "Come on, come on—yeah, come on," he chants and he watches John's face, eyes shut tight and dark hair falling across his cheek as he's rubbing himself off against Rodney's thigh—cock thick and hard through the fabric of Rodney's khaki's and John's own denim.

"God—Dr. McKay, I need to—I've gotta—" John says, whisper-sweet and moaning into Rodney's ear, his mouth seeking, trailing blind kisses over Rodney's cheek until Rodney takes pity on him, catches John's swollen lips and hooks a leg over around John's thigh. John's sixteen and nearly incandescent with it and Rodney can feel John cresting, his hips getting jerky and rough and so he reaches one hand down the hard muscle of John's ass, under his worn Levis—the tip of his finger ghosting over John's opening as he says into John's mouth:

"Yeah, come on, do it, John. Come on: give it up for me."

Which makes John say, "Ohfuck," and come, every muscle taut for a long, long moment before he collapsed against Rodney, against the desk, panting hotly against Rodney's neck. 

Rodney's going to have bruises tomorrow the line and thickness of the desk, but who the fuck cares, he thinks, and turns John to look at him—he's glassy, eyes glazed and mouth thick and cheeks red and Rodney thinks he was never more right than about John's promising career in the adult entertainment industry, too bad Rodney will kill anybody else who touches him.

He kisses John once, twice, hard and closed-mouthed just to keep John from starting to overthink this, and Rodney says, "Will you let me show you? Can I show you?" and John says, "Yes, yeah. Show me. Teach me how to—"

But Rodney gets so far as hearing "teach me" before the rest is swallowed in the sound of his own moan, the feel of John's body heavy and warm in his arms as he dips in for another kiss, hands slipping away from hot, damp skin to tug impatiently at the button on John's jeans, to work at the zipper. And John is trying to figure out where to put his hands, in Rodney's hair, on his back, clutching at his arms, and the indecision itself is hot.

Rodney spares a moment to feel fiercely possessive, to know that he's the only person who gets to do this, who gets to break a kiss with John—to drop another, at the bow of his upper lip in apology at leaving—and to drop to his knees, to listen to John's inward gasp as Rodney pulls John's cock out of his soaked, sticky boxers. Rodney hums a little and he wraps his hand around the base of the softening dick, squeezing affectionately before he glances up, meets John's bright, bright eyes, and closes his mouth over the slick tip of John's cock.

John's leaning over the desk now, bent over and holding himself up with his two palms flat on Rodney's desk calendar, thumbs sliding next to a pile of—Jesus Christ, Rodney thinks distantly, hollowing his cheeks around John's dick, tasting him finally—that week's physics tests.

"Oh, oh," John keeps saying, soft and soul-deep and moaning, and he cuts in a "Dr. McKay," and a "please, please," just often enough that when Rodney pulls off John's dick with a soft pop he's not surprised to see it half hard again, red and slender and nested in dark curls and a frame of denim and blue striped boxers.

Rodney pushes himself up, comes up right between John's arms and kisses him so John can taste himself, because Rodney's a good teacher and John should welcome new experiences, learn new things, find endless delights. "See?" Rodney pants between kisses, feeling the wet tip of John's cock leaving damp trails on his pants as John shoves himself into Rodney over and over again, trying to get deeper in Rodney's mouth with the rest of his body. "See? Do you see?"

"Yeah, I—" John pants.

"Can I fuck you?" Rodney asks suddenly. "I can fuck you, right?"

John hesitates, just long enough to say, "I don't—" and for Rodney to smooth his hand down John's back, skin stretched over lean muscle and to stroke indulgently at him, soothingly, and to press deep, open-mouthed kisses against John's mouth and say, "I'll show you, I'll show you everything."

It's how John ends up bent over Rodney's desk, physics tests scattered on the floor around them with one of his hands gripping the edge of the wood and the other pillowing his face as he makes sobbing, gasping noises. John's tight—so tight, Rodney thinks hazily, too tight—and hot and perfect around his cock and Rodney can't do anything but let his hips jerk forward over and over again, listening to the muffled slap of skin and khaki on John's ass.

Rodney's always been kind of a hands on guy, but he can't stop watching this time, can't decide whether it's a sign of feast or famine that he's torn between closing his eyes and tipping into the sensation or watching, watching, consuming every second of seeing his dick slide into John's body, the perfect gold skin of John's lower back, the curve of his ass, Rodney's hands on his thin hips.

John's making incoherent noises into the desk, soft, moaning sounds that Rodney wishes he could listen to every moment of every day for the rest of his life. Rodney leans over, hips snapping once, twice, and pries one of his hands off of John's hips—and his fingers brush the edge of John's jeans as they move: soft denim and threadbare—to slide up his body, along the sides of John's fucking letterjacket until he finds purchase on the collar of the jacket, tightens his fingers around it and pulls John up, pulls him closer, fixes the angle between them.

"Come on," Rodney moans. "John, you've got to—"

John makes a huffing noise before he pushes up again, move of supreme concentration and Rodney can feel the muscles of his thighs flexing, his ass tightening around Rodney's cock—oh, Jesus, Rodney can't believe he almost turned this down, turned John away—as he pushes himself to his elbows and then Rodney tilts forward a little, cants his hips, keeps his hand fisted on the collar of John's jacket and shoves forward and that's when John makes a yelling noise that dies in the back of his throat. "Oh my God," John croaks, voice hiccuping and breaking with Rodney's thrusts, "oh my—God, oh Jesus—"

"You like it?" Rodney pants. He can hear his own voice breaking. "Do you like that."

"Oh my God, Dr. McKay," John moans, eyes shut tight and sweat beading on his eyelids, his mouth dewy and slick and Rodney wishes he could do more—could be fucking John's mouth and sucking his dick and sliding his fingers three-deep into John at the same time. He wants John to feel every second of it.

Rodney knows he's being a dick—not touching John's. But John's sixteen and always on the knife edge of an orgasm anyway, and Rodney wants to feel it again, see it again, get to watch John's face this time when he comes so he just shoves away, hearing the desk creak and jerk forward on the tile of the classroom floor underneath them, wood protesting.

Rodney also knows he's close. It's too good to last and he bites his lip hard enough to draw blood when he slams one, two, three desperate times into John and listens to John pleading underneath him—"Dr. Mckay, please, Jesus fucking—Dr. Mckay, please!"—before he's gasping John's name and coming, collapsing across John's back.

When everything focuses again—in slow blocks of sensation: the soft material of John's letterjacket under his cheek, the lean slide of John's thighs against his own, John still tight all around him—he hisses, over-sensitized. Rodney reaches up with a trembling hand to card through John's hair when he realizes John's shaking, too, and there's something to nakedly dear about it that Rodney can't help but to tug at the collar of the letterjacket, to pull it down and reveal John's bared neck so Rodney can press sweet, slow kisses along the back of it, to hush whispers into John's skin until John stills.

Rodney says, "It's okay, shh—it's okay," and John says, "Please, Dr. McKay—" until Rodney presses another kiss into the back of John's neck and rolls his hips gently again, cock still half-hard and the angle perfect now, because he can hear John's choked gasp with every shift.

John's talking again, or trying to, mouthing words without any words, and Rodney just hushes him with more kisses, on his shoulder, at the soft skin behind his ear, holding John down so he doesn't fly too far apart, keeps rolling his hips in and in, giving John what he needs. Rodney wants John to remember this and to love and to want it, wants to do this right, so he just keeps smoothing kisses on John's skin and wraps his free hand at the base of John's dick, hard and leaking under the desk and strokes him just right until Rodney whispers into the base of John's neck, "Yeah, come on, John, come on, right now—give it up to me," and John does, his whole body shaking as he yells Rodney's name—

Which isn't Rodney's name at all.

Rodney's eyes snapped open halfway through John's orgasm in the dream, and it says something about dreams and the intangibility of the mind that he hears the rest of it echoing through his ears even though it never happened, even though it'd all been a little too perfect to be real. Rodney's not a fucking porn star and John isn't ever going to be, despite Rodney's once-fervent wishes.

Rodney can feel his dick still slick with his own come and his boxers uncomfortably sticky, there's a sheen of sweat all over his body and he's obviously been giving it to his fucking pillow good for the past hour—from its appearance of obvious abuse, and Rodney gets out of bed to go clean up and splash cold water on his face and mutter, "Fuck. Shit. Fuck," under his breath.

He was half-hard all night after he'd shoved John away, thoroughly dressing him down, channeling all his frustration and fear and desperate want into being angry that John was beautiful and offered and completely untouchable. He'd watched John's eyes get big and sad before they'd gotten narrowed and pissed and then Rodney had gathered up his things with numb fingers and slammed out of the classroom without giving John a backward glance. He'd made it all the way to the car before he'd ground the heel of his hand into his cock, through his pants, and moaned, putting his head on the steering wheel with a whimper.

Rodney ends up staring at his own reflection in the mirror for a long time, watching his red-rimmed eyes and flushed skin and his mouth and thought he should have known it was a dream from the start, that it had been wrong from the start, because if it were real, he would have said, "No, no," and said, "Call me Rodney—call me Rodney."

He puts on pants and a sweatshirt and drives to the school, sits in the parking lot until it's dawn and he figures out what he has to do. Principal Herman shows up at half past seven and Rodney is in her office quitting his job at 7:32.


Rodney had always thought that Canada had prepared him for cold but he was completely, totally wrong, because there was something about the bleak whiteness of Antarctica that makes it even colder.

Rodey hates everything right now: he hates the SGC; he hates the stargate; he hates Sam Carter and he hates himself for signing on their dotted line when they'd flashed words like "alien" and "top secret" and "wormhole physics" at him without asking if he was going to lose his testicles in an unfortunate incident with permafrost and a penguin.

The chopper blades over head are unbearably loud and kick up a white mist of snow and Rodney resists the adolescent urge to shout, "Stop it! I quit! Go away! I don't want to go look at the fucking awesome Ancient chair!" when the helicopter comes to a graceful, almost lazy stop on the Earth.

"That's your ride, Dr. McKay," somebody shouts to him. "Go on!"

Rodney snaps, "Well fuck you, too!" and starts stomping through the small mountains of snow toward the helicopter, creating a numbered list of things he hates in ascending order. He's just getting to thinking about how he hates this almost as much as his first week teaching high school physics when John fucking Sheppard steps out of the chopper and Rodney falls flat on his ass.

"Holy shit," John yells over the noise of the blades.

"Oh my fucking God," Rodney yells at the sky. "What the fuck did I ever do to you?"

John starts laughing, and he keeps it up until he reaches one gloved hand out to Rodney and yells over the blades, "Good to see you again, too, Dr. McKay."

The helicopter ride is surprisingly not awkward until Rodney says:

"Okay, look, I know you're probably seriously considering whether or not you can have me killed somewhere between here and the outpost, and okay, yes, this would be a convenient accident: downed chopper! Only the pilot survived! The world mourns the lost genius of Rodney McKay, who many thought to be slated for a Nobel any day! But you have to consider that (a) as CSI argues, forensics are getting more amazing every day and (b) that would be really mean and petty of you to still be holding a grudge against me since like, your sophomore year of high school. And really, the only reason I turned you down and uh, yelled at you was because I would have been sent to jail and passed around like a joint and I'm really not made for prison life and also it was for your own good I didn't shove you down and usher you into manhood."

John stares at him, mouth half open in astonishment.

"Oh my God," Rodney says, distresses. "Oh my God, you are going to crash us. You still hate me. You're going to kill us in this Arctic tundra, aren't you? Oh Jesus I'm too young and amazing to die for doing the right thing!"

"Wow," John finally says. "This is a really unflattering side of you I didn't notice in high school."

"Well I was forced to fake decorum to gain your respect!" Rodney shrieks, embarrassingly high-pitched. "Oh my God—they let you fly planes? Did you tell them how many head injuries you got? That you used to routinely trip over coolers into the turf?"

"There's also the fact that after you up and quit in the middle of the year," John says lazily over the comm, "the teacher they got to replace you was pretty substandard." He takes his hands off the controller and says, "What was that stuff you were always talking about? Gravity?"

Rodney screams most of the rest of the way to the outpost and by the time they touch down John has to let himself out of the side of the chopper, collapsing into the snow, laughing so hard he can barely stand.


By the time Rodney has figured out his youthful indiscretion is actually a human aphrodisiac for the Ancient technology, he's nearly mellowed out, after having a discussion where John told him to "chill out" and that it was "all cool" and that he was still young and stupid then and Rodney yelled, "Hey!"

"What I'm saying," John had said, rolling his eyes, "is that I get why you did what you did."

"You do," Rodney repeats uncertainly.

John grins at him over his aviator shades. "Yeah, I do."

"No lingering bitterness? No half-forgotten plans to murder me for breaking your teenage heart if we ever met one another again?" Rodney asks suspiciously.

"I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Elizabeth meant when she told you to brief me on the Stargate program," John says sweetly.

A few weeks later, John and Rodney are too busy nearly drowning and trying to save the city or being forced to cobble together a rescue mission and having to shoot their commanding officers to worry about their high school shenanigans, and after a while Rodney even forgets that when John does physics in his head, it's Rodney's shortcuts he's using.

And then a few weeks after that, John asks Rodney if he'd like to be on John's gate team, the alpha team, and Rodney has to excuse himself before he passes out from awesome like a 14-year-old girl. Apparently his and John's teenagedness are inversely proportional.

It's later—long after awkward reintroductions, and after they have met each other all over again—that Rodney realizes it's happening again. This time, it's not the jock slouching in the third row, but the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel slouching across the conference table, making stupid faces and killing fifty-five people with a Stargate. (I never wanted that for you, he remembers thinking the morning after, when all the ugly secrets had come out, I'm sorry you had to grow up to do this.) This time, it's John and his total lack of direction, his unbearably-hot knowledge of the Batman television series, his playing along with Rodney in their arguments about the relative value of American and Canadian penal systems. This time, John's lost all the awkward grace of adolescence and mellowed into his body, assured and confident, with longer arms and legs and a strange grace that makes Rodney weak in the knees. This time, John's in the fucking Air Force.

The unfairness is almost unbearable: John's finally legal and now he's military. Maybe his adolescent gayness really was a phase, Rodney thinks depressively.

Rodney tries not to sulk about it much but he mostly fails, and it's on their two year anniversary on Atlantis that John finds him in one of the labs, long after midnight and hunched over a power simulation. 

"What do you want?" Rodney mumbles out of the corner of his mouth, distracted and suddenly one hundred percent in tune when John strokes three fingers down the back of Rodney's neck. "Um," Rodney says intelligently. "Colonel?" John looks a little shy and a lot hopeful.

"You know what they say about your first crush, Rodney," John murmurs.

"No, what do they—?" Rodney starts to say before John gets an impatient if slightly amused look on his face and Rodney gets with the picture.

"Oh, thank God," before he shoves John against the lab counter, catching John's laughing mouth in a kiss and running his hands down John's sides, making incoherent, grateful noises between kisses.

"Why, Dr. McKay," John purrs, pushing a thigh between Rodney's legs when he finally breaks away to catch his breath.

"Call me Rodney," Rodney gasps, slipping his hand down the back of John's pants, a smile creeping across his mouth. "Oh—and lock the door."