John and Rodney arrive in Vancouver after a two-day delay in Salt Lake City, only to hear that the same storm might be on its way there. It takes ten minutes for Jeannie to realize they're a couple ("Exactly what happened in Utah, Mer? So I guess you two won't have a problem sharing the guest bed, then?" Rodney blushed while John slid a proprietary arm around him), and only fifteen more before the siblings get into a spat. Rodney tears through the kitchen looking for real coffee while Jeannie yells at him about the mess he's making.
"It's this or nothing, Meredith," Jeannie spits as she shakes the box of Trader Joe's Instant at him. "It's the only thing left that was organic and fair-trade. You know how people stock up when a storm is coming."
Rodney cuts his eyes at her before transferring his glare to John. "I told you we should have gotten a car. The nearest grocery is-" Rodney abruptly throws up one hand in the classic 'just a minute' gesture, turns on his heel and clomps out to the garage. John and Jeannie stare after him and jump at his triumphant, "AHA!" He steps back in brandishing a half-filled bag of gourmet coffee beans. "I stashed these in the big freezer right before we shipped off to Pegasus."
"Will they still be good?" John asks hopefully. It seems he isn't looking forward to instant coffee either.
"Beans can stay frozen for years," Rodney replies distractedly, looking around the kitchen. "Now I just need to...grinder?"
"Sold it on Craigslist three years ago," Jeannie says smugly. "This is a tea household, Meredith."
Not so easily dissuaded, Rodney glares back. "Fine!" he grits out, reaching for the spice grinder. When Jeannie balks, he waves her off, "Don't worry. You run some fresh bread through and it cleans it out." He scrounges a hot dog bun from the countertop breadbox and grinds it to remove and trace of spices. Satisfied with the pile of marjoram-scented crumbs, he pours in a measure of beans, enticing John to lean in for a sniff as the grinder pulverizes them.
Rodney doesn't bother looking for a coffee pot, figuring it went the way of the coffee grinder. He grabs Jeannie's Bodum tea press, snapping, "It's either this or I build a freaking coffeemaker," to silence her objections.
With his relationship in the open and the coffee situation solved, Rodney can settle down and actually enjoy a chat with his sister. Madison tries to monopolize John and Rodney's attention, which makes Jeannie ask John what his intentions are and if he wants kids, which results in John quickly volunteering to take Madison out for a bike ride.
"In fourteen inches of fresh snow?" Jeannie asks.
John scratches the back of his head and smiles sheepishly, before suggesting they go out to dinner, his treat.
Rodney buys a digital video camera to capture Madison's graduation and then gives it to her as a graduation present, even though Jeannie protests that he's spoiling her.
Over the next couple of weeks, they eat in together, dine out together, go skiing together, and spend nearly every waking moment as a family unit. That would be fine if John and Rodney weren't newly together – and if their bed didn't have box springs that squeak inordinately loudly with the slightest movement.
John and Rodney manage to snatch moments: the touch of a hand on the arm or back when they're in public, or quiet kissing sessions in their room or the shower. It doesn't help that Madison thinks nothing of barging in, closed doors be damned. When Jeannie tries to convince her to stop, she cries, "But Uncle Rodney and Uncle John came to see me, and I'm just trying to spend more time with them!" John isn't making it easy on Rodney, either; blowing in his ear when he passes the salt at dinner, or slowly sliding his hand up and down Rodney's thigh while they watch television.
After a tortuous dinner - where John sat across from Rodney, insinuated his foot into Rodney's crotch, and wiggled his toes whenever Rodney took a drink - Rodney suggests that they go to the movies. Madison decrees that they have to see the latest Disney offering, but when they get there, Rodney announces that he and John are going to see the big-budget slasher movie playing two screens over.
"Come on, Mer," Kaleb says. "You know those movies have no redeeming social value." Turning to his wife for support, he says, "Tell him, Jeannie."
Jeannie blushes brightly and says, "Actually, I want to see it, too."
"Nope," Rodney fires back instantly. "We're going. Us two. Just us. Alone." Grabbing John's arm to pull him across the lobby, he's driven into guilt by Madison's forlorn pout. He's about to say that he'll buy her two of everything from the concession stand to stop making that face when Jeannie's stern glare stops him short. He does insist on buying her a pretzel and some Jujubes.
John and Rodney settle into the back row of the nearly empty theater. Before John can even settle the giant tub of popcorn in next seat over, Rodney's kissing him, practically climbing in his lap.
"Um, don't you want to wait at least until the previews start?"
Rodney shifts back into his seat with a knowing grin. When the house lights eventually go down, so does he.
During the remainder of their visit, Rodney buys presents for just about every event in Madison's life that he's missed, and both men promise to come back for her next graduation. At the end of the three weeks they cab to a hotel next to the airport (pleading an extremely early flight the next day), and spend the night holed up together, ordering room service rather than venture out for dinner.
They oversleep the next morning, and end up having to rush to the airport and through security. They're the last passengers to board, arriving just before the doors close. Rodney blames John for keeping him up late, but John just smirks in reply. Any 'keeping up' was fully mutual, and he has the bite marks to prove it. When the flight crew starts the beverage service, Rodney's nearly quivering in anticipation of the first cup of his daily ration of coffee.
"I'm sorry, sir, but the plane's hot water system is out," the flight attendant reports.
Rodney cycles through a myriad of emotions, all reflected in his expression. After a few seconds of watching him open and close his mouth like a fish, John tells her, "He'll have a Coke, and I'll have a beer."
The flight attendant has vanished into the galley by the time Rodney finally regains the gift of speech. "This is an early morning flight! How can they not have hot water for coffee?"
"We're going to Hawaii. There'll be plenty of coffee there, I promise," John says reassuringly. He turns to page 127 of War and Peace, but Rodney's complaints (which devolve into whining in under 30 minutes) keep him from making any headway. Rodney segues from there into ever more fantastical plots to achieve caffeination. ("They can microwave the water." "No microwaves onboard – only a convection oven." "They can bake the water." "There's no way to get it into the coffeemaker." "How 'bout they give me a bag of grounds to chew on, then?") The second hour starts with John convincing the flight attendant to fortify Rodney's sodas with rum (which she does happily. Rodney knows, but doesn't protest), and he soon falls asleep against John's shoulder, drooling peacefully.
Rodney wakes up as the plane touches down in Honolulu and starts chattering about getting some coffee as soon as they deplane. "Hey, I saw that," he says after John rolls his eyes. "You know I can't function without my coffee."
"Airport coffee sucks, McKay. You know it won't be up to your standards."
"Too true," Rodney replies, "but after all the times we snuck out to Tim Hortons at Jeannie's, you know I'll drink just about anything if I'm desperate enough."
John nods as he gets their bags out of the overhead bin. "Okay. But I don't want you raving about undrinkable swill when you take that first sip."
Rodney's quietly chanting, "Coffee, coffee, coffee," while they make their way off the plane, and starts scanning for a coffee stand or restaurant as soon as they hit the terminal. He jerks to a stop in front of a café and stares at a pair of pilots, the taller one picking at a cup of shave ice and smiling at the other, whose nose is buried in a coffee cup. "That way."
"C'mon," John pleads. "How about we get to the hotel first?" They'd barely had a chance to clean up that morning, and the nearly seven-hour flight hasn't left them any fresher.
Rodney smiles at John, but takes off toward the counter. Finding only a "Closed" sign at the register, he heads over to the pilots' table.
"Can I help you?" the dark-haired man asks, though Rodney's ignoring him in favor of the blonde's coffee.
After taking a deep, appreciative whiff, he asks, "Where did you-"
John cuts him off. "Come on, Rodney." Checking the pilots' uniforms and finding each with four stripes, he says, "Let the nice Captains enjoy their break, okay?"
"Seriously," Rodney pleads. "I haven't had coffee in nearly 24 hours. I'm desperate, and yours smells wonderful. Where can I get some?"
"Not here, sorry," reports Steve McGarrett, who flies for Island Hopper Air according to the badge John reads. "As a pilot, I can tell you with authority that pretty much all airport coffee sucks. Right, Danno?"
The blonde ('Daniel Williams, Pilot, Island Hopper Air') finishes communing with his caffeine and looks at Rodney. "Yep," he verifies.
"But... But..." Rodney protests. "So where did you-"
Williams pulls a thermos from his lap and sets it on the table with a thunk. "I bring it from home. Steve here got me hooked on a really good Kona blend from the Big Island." He opens the thermos and pours himself another cup.
Rodney groans. "I'll give you a thousand dollars for the contents of that thermos," he states, pulling out his wallet.
The pilot freezes and gapes at Rodney for a moment before fixing John with an incredulous look. After taking a sip and savoring it (while Steve grins), he turns back to the avidly watching scientist. Putting his cup down, he says, "Absolutely not. I need it for the last three legs we're flying tonight."
At Rodney's crestfallen face, he lifts his hands pacifyingly and says, "I'll tell you what, though. There's a diner about five minutes away that's got pretty good food, and damn fine coffee. Are you staying near the airport?"
John jumps in. "No, up at the North Shore. I haven't surfed Hawaii in years."
"Ah, yes. How could I forget the jellyfish swarm and skin cancer portion of our vacation?" Rodney snarks.
"Don't forget death by falling coconuts," Williams says, prompting John and McGarrett's immediate eyerolls. "What?" he demands. "It happens."
"I knew I was leaving something out," Rodney says as he backhands John's bicep.
"I like this one," Daniel says. He offers his hand and introductions. "Danny Williams and Steve McGarrett."
"Dr. Rodney McKay and John Sheppard," Rodney responds, and the four men exchange a round of handshakes. "So this diner?"
"Right. You getting a car?" Danny asks. At John's nod, he continues, "Okay, when you leave the airport, take the left fork to Kamehameha Highway. The diner's on the corner of Kamehameha and Radford. It's called Puopos and you can't miss it."
"The plate lunch is awesome," Steve says.
John beams, Danny rolls his eyes, and Rodney returns to a much more important topic. "Thanks. Any coffee suggestions near the North Shore?"
"Actually," Danny says, "You might want to head over to the Big Island. There are a ton of coffee plantations, and they all have really good stuff."
"Yeah. And most of them offer tours and samples," Steve adds.
Rodney turns to John. "Here's the deal. You get nine days of jellyfish swarms, skin cancer, and suicidal fruit, and I get one day of coffee tourism. We can hit a few places and ship back a ton of beans." Sighing contentedly at John's nod of agreement, Rodney concludes, "It'll be like a wine tasting tour for grownups."
"So - the Big Island," John muses. "After we check in, I'll call and have the Mountain look into flights. Is one day better than another?" he asks Steve and Danny.
Steve fishes out his wallet. "You don't need to call a travel agency." He extracts a card with the Island Hopper Air logo, turns it over and writes something. "Call Kamekona and tell him Steve and Danny said to fix you up." He hands John the card.
"Wait, wait, wait," Danny objects. "We have next Thursday off, right? We have to go, too."
"Seriously?" Steve asks. At Danny's admonitory look, he laughs, "Okay, okay." He retrieves his card from John and jots down a phone number. "That's my cell. Call me in a couple of days and we'll set it up."
Tucking the card in his pocket, John asks, "Cool. So, know any good surfing spots?"
Steve manhandles Danny's left arm around to check his watch. "We've got an hour before we report back. Have a seat."
John and Steve start using words that don't even sound like English to the other two at the table. Danny fills his coffee cup to the brim and hands it to a bewildered-looking Rodney.