“Are you a pedophile?” Rodney asks curiously.
The man in the tweed vest and official-looking suit-jacket blinks and says, “No,” slowly, like he’s not entirely positive.
“You’re sure?” Rodney pushes. “Because I’ve heard about you old men who hang around high schools and prey on innocent young boys and girls. Are those pants even your size? You should have a tailor look at that hem, it’s totally falling out.”
The man blinks again, looking perturbed. Rodney gets that reaction a lot.
“You are Rodney McKay?” he asks for the fifth time.
“Um, duh,” Rodney says, the ‘you idiot’ heavily implied.
Clearing his throat and straightening his vest, the man recites, “In every generation, there is a Chosen One. Sh – uh, he alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. He is the Slayer.”
Rodney gives his lollipop a contemplative lick. “Huh?”
“This is totally not what I signed up for!” Rodney yelps, groping around on the grass to find his stake. His heart feels like it’s about to beat its way right up his esophagus and choke him to death, and his watcher doesn’t even care. “Why are you just sitting there, I am about to die! Don’t you have a soul at all, you complete maniac! Help! Help would be ni – aaahhgg!”
The newly risen vampire (vampires are real, what the hell) lunges at Rodney’s neck, and, oh god, he is never ever going to let a boy give him a hickey ever again. At the last second, he gets his stake in his fingers and thrusts it at the vampire’s chest, hoping that he’s aiming at the heart.
With a startled bwoosh, the vampire explodes into dust.
“Ew,” Rodney whimpers, flopping back onto the wet ground. “Oh my god, I can never wear this shirt again.”
One Year Later
The whole fiasco with setting the school gym on fire aside (and anyway, that totally wasn’t his fault – vampires!), Rodney’s a great student. The idea of starting at a new school mid-semester is appalling, of course, but he’s confident that – especially in southern California – all the other students will be stupid enough that any minor difficulty he has catching up won’t even register.
Still, it’s kind of annoying when the weird woman behind the library counter won’t give him his textbooks.
“You are the Chosen One!” she argues. “This is not – not a job that you can simply quit; this is your destiny!”
“Oh, don’t tell me you people believe in astrology too,” Rodney sighs, feeling the weight of the world settle onto his shoulders. While the woman is still sputtering, he gathers up his bag and heads out the door.
Thankfully, there’s a whippet-thin girl named Teyla Emmagen in his first class who’s willing to share all of her (surprisingly coherent) notes and let him read over her shoulder when the teacher points something out on page seventy-five. The odd tribal clothes are a bit weird, and the overwhelming smell of incense is horrifying, but Rodney’s willing to overlook all that when he catches sight of her color-coded test charts.
“So, what are you doing tonight?” Rodney murmurs at them, licking his lips.
“Are you well?” Teyla asks uneasily.
When the bell rings for passing time, they pile out into the hallway and make for Rodney’s locker. The struggle with it is epic – finally, just as Rodney is about to get out a screwdriver and go at the bolts, Teyla slams the heel of her palm into the metal, and the door pops open.
“Teyla,” drawls a girl with shiny blonde hair and the kind of boobs that make even Rodney raise his eyebrows in appreciation. Teyla has a blank, resigned look on her face.
“Hello, Laura,” she murmurs.
“What are you wearing?” Laura asks mockingly.
“Traditional Athosian garments,” Teyla responds evenly.
The girl sneers, “No wonder you're such a guy magnet,” and pushes Teyla aside.
Rodney frowns and contemplates the wisdom of making an enemy on the first day of school. Before he can open his mouth to shout after the blonde, Teyla puts a calming hand on his arm and leads him towards the fountain in the middle of the courtyard to meet her friends. Busy fending off all the hands groping for his can of Diet Coke, Rodney doesn’t really catch their names. There’s the wiry, frowning kid, Ronon, and…
“Uh, hi, Barry,” he guesses.
“It’s Brendan,” the kid says.
Some guy turns up dead in one of the girls' gym lockers during fifth period.
Rodney spends fifteen minutes explaining to the librarian, Dr. Werner (or is it Whirr?), why this is not his problem (“- and then there’s obviously the part where I’m deathly allergic to citrus. Didn’t they ever think when they were choosing a Chosen One that maybe he should be someone who won’t be brought to his knees with a well-placed glass of lemonade? Honestly, who makes these decisions?”), and then blithely flounces off to find the cafeteria.
Teyla somehow convinces him that the greatest place to catch up on his math homework is at a sleazy teen bar called The Bronze. Privately, Rodney thinks that is possibly the stupidest name for a bar ever, but Teyla’s eyes are stern and she promises to go shopping with him over the weekend, so he can’t really say no.
“I don’t like this,” his mother says when she finds him pulling on his favorite t-shirt (a worn, red thing that has a picture of King Koopa on it) at seven thirty.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he tells her while he checks his laptop battery. “I’ll be home by eleven, and this town is stupidly tiny. It took me ten minutes to walk home from school today – can you believe that? I think my history teacher lives down the block from us, because he followed me the entire way. Either that, or he’s a rapist.” Rodney contemplates it for a minute and then decides that, yes; Mr. Grath does seem the type.
His mother looks mildly alarmed. Rodney gets that a lot too.
The laptop is only six pounds, but with his external hard drive, wireless mouse and keyboard, and the two textbooks he has crammed in next to it, Rodney’s getting a little tired of walking. Sunnydale is creepy, too, in a way that makes the hair on the back of Rodney’s neck stand up.
“This town’s supposed to be small, as in not big,” he gripes to himself, voice loud and nervous as he changes the length of his bag’s shoulder strap. That, he tells himself, is the only reason he screams like a little girl when a hand comes down on his shoulder, instead of landing a solid roundhouse.
“God, do you ever shut up?” a voice drawls.
Rodney collects himself and turns around, punching the stranger right in the nose.
“Woops, sorry,” he says. “Only, not. Who the hell sneaks up on someone like that? I could be an axe murderer or have – have pedestrian rage. Are you a complete imbecile? Actually, wait, are you?”
Rodney narrows his eyes curiously at the man, who he can now see is quite attractive – barring the way he’s glowering and cupping a hand over his bloody nose. His hair is in a kind of charming disarray that Rodney is sure takes hours to perfect, and his angular face is very handsome. Symmetrical. Rodney likes symmetry.
The guy shakes the pain off fast, wiping his hand uncaringly on his tight, black t-shirt and putting his palms out: I give. “I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry.” A smirk. “I don’t bite.”
“Yes, ha ha, vampire jokes – very funny,” Rodney grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest.
“It’s weird, but I thought you’d be taller,” the guy says. The cool way he looks Rodney up and down makes Rodney want to hit him again. Or something. “You do pack a wallop, though.”
“Did you just use the word wallop?” Rodney says. “No, I don’t care. Why are you following me?”
Something about the stranger’s stance changes. “The Harvest is coming. The master will rise.”
“Less cryptic this time maybe?” Rodney huffs. “I may be a complete genius, but I’m gonna need a little more than that to work with. Not to say that I want to work with it. I’m perfectly fine not working with it, because I’m retired, and retired people don’t work. Why are you telling me this, anyway?”
“Let’s just say,” the guy says, drawling again, all slow consonants and elongated vowels – really, bizarre people shouldn’t be allowed to look so pretty and tousled – “that I’m a friend, Slayer.”
Rodney scowls. “I don’t like friends. I like minions.”
“I didn’t say I was your friend.” And, just like that, Rodney’s alone.
“Oh, real mature!” he yells at the hedges.
The creepy librarian (Wong? Weiss? Weird?) is at The Bronze when Rodney finally arrives, and that’s not odd at all, considering almost every other person in the club is under legal drinking age. She gives him an enigmatic wave and turns back to the man – beast? – at her left.
Rodney decides to ignore her, making his way across the crowded dance floor, peering over people’s heads to try and catch sight of a familiar face. There’s some kind of ridiculously loud band playing up on stage; by the time he finds Teyla sitting at a table off to the side, he’s calculated the approximate decibel levels and is already preparing his rant for the owner of the club.
“Hey,” he says instead, plopping down on a stool next to Teyla. She gives him a bright, distracted smile and turns away again. It’s only then that he notices the third person at the table. “You!”
The already-familiar smirk is back, even more devastating now that there’s enough light for Rodney to see by; the way the man’s lounging back in his seat is almost obscene.
“What are you doing here?” Rodney demands. “Are you stalking me?”
“You two know each other?” Teyla asks, raising an eyebrow.
Ignoring both questions, the stranger leans across the table, holding his hand out for Teyla to shake. “I’m John.”
Rodney slaps at Teyla’s hand when she goes to take John’s and steels himself against her surprised glare. “Don’t touch him, Teyla, you don’t know what he might have. He’s been stalking me, he met me on the way here – how exactly did you get here before me, anyway? Why isn’t your nose still bleeding?”
Teyla gives Rodney an appalled look. “You punched him?”
“…Just a little,” he squeaks defensively.
John oozes back into his chair, all self-satisfied charm, one arm thrown across the back of it in a way that makes Rodney think he doesn’t have a spine. It’s not – natural to be able to contort like that without looking at least a little bit uncomfortable. Which, um.
Blushing furiously, Rodney points a finger at John. “You’re – you’re not answering the question!”
“There was a question?” John inquires mildly.
The night goes downhill fast.
As if having Teyla practically fawning over John and refusing to share her notes because Rodney punched him (completely ignoring the fact that John deserved it) isn’t enough, Ronon is nowhere to be found, and some tall, lanky kid drags Brendan off onto the dance floor and never brings him back. Teyla doesn’t seem worried at first, but Rodney can’t help eyeing the completely disgusting shirt the kid has on – no one living wears floral patterned silk shirts outside of Florida.
Close to nine, John suddenly shifts in his seat, fluid spine straightening until he looks dangerous and alert. “Your friend’s in trouble,” he says.
Rodney doesn’t waste time with Teyla’s concerned questions, pushing through the mass of bodies on the dance floor with a few well placed elbows and scathing insults. He can feel John at his back, which probably shouldn’t be reassuring since, oh yeah, John’s a stalker, but Rodney’s learned to take his allies where he can get them.
And at least this way he’ll have an eye-witness to say the burnt down public building totally wasn’t his fault.
John disappears somewhere between the club and the cemetery.
“Oh dear god, you’re ugly,” Rodney says.
The vampires clustered around Brendan and Ronon turn to look at him.
“No, really,” Rodney continues, impressed, “you on the right there? You might actually be the most hideous thing I have ever seen. Wow. Be so glad you can’t look into a mirror.”
The one on the right narrows her eyes. “Leave, boy; you have no business here.”
Rodney heaves a sigh and strolls down the crypt steps. He easily blocks a punch from the scrawny one and – okay, he might not be the most coordinated slayer who’s ever lived, but give him some credit – slides the stake out of his pocket, plunging it into the vampire’s heart without breaking stride. The vampire stumbles back, comically clutching his chest, and falls to the ground in a cloud of dust.
“Go, I’ve got them,” Rodney orders Ronon and Brendan over his shoulder.
The female stares at him, wide-eyed and too startled to move out of the way when his foot snaps out and connects with her stomach, sending her to the floor. He settles his foot in the middle of her chest when she struggles to stand up again.
“Who are you?” she asks fearfully.
“Don’t you know?” Rodney says incredulously.
A large hand curves around the back of Rodney’s neck and squeezes dangerously, cold fingers digging in on either side of Rodney’s windpipe. All the hairs on the back of Rodney’s hands stand up, and, oh god, oh god, this is so, so not good.
“No,” a deep, amused voice says, “and I don’t really care.”
Rodney collides with the stone wall so hard his vision goes gray, but he doesn’t have time to scramble to his feet before the vampire – amazingly, they can come uglier than the one from before – has him by the throat again, feet dangling uselessly below him while his fingers scratch and pull desperately at the strong grip.
“Sora,” the vampire says calmly, “get the others.”
“Y-yes, Kolya,” the blonde vampire says, scurrying past them and out the crypt door.
It’s barely a distraction, but Rodney takes it, kicking out with all his strength. Kolya doesn’t go very far, only far enough that Rodney can breathe again and stumble hopefully towards the entrance. He’s not really surprised when a hand catches him by the elbow and flings him hard against the corner of the sarcophagus.
“Oh, you really suck,” he croaks. “You suck so much I can’t even begin to tell you.” The stone is cool under his hands, too smooth for handholds, and he suddenly realizes has no idea where his stake is. “Fuck, fuck, I am so fucked.”
“Save your breath, boy.”
Kolya’s booted feet draw closer, and Rodney only just manages to dodge around the side of the sarcophagus before the next brutal kick comes. He gets hold of something on the lid and breaks it off, hoping to god it’s big enough to do some sort of damage if he chucks it at the guy’s head.
“Okay,” he says, psyching himself up for it, “you can do this, McKay.”
But when he pops his head over the top to look for Kolya, the crypt is empty.
“Oh, this is. This is just stupendous.” Rodney crosses his arms over his bruised chest, glaring at Teyla (who had arrived just in time to nearly get herself made into a meal) and Ronon. “Fine; whatever. I’m sore all over, my arm might be broken, and it’s distinctly possible that I’m going to have to walk around for the next week looking like a battered spouse, but sure, I’ll go rescue the idiot who couldn’t follow directions.”
“I’ll come,” Ronon volunteers gamely.
“Jesus Christ, save me. Do you even know which end of the stake is pointy?” Rodney says, horrified. “Go home.”
“He’s right, you shouldn’t be here,” says a voice behind them.
Rodney doesn’t even waste a minute recovering this time, just wheels around and punches John furiously in the arm. “Where did you go?” he demands. “What, did you need to make a stop home to grab your rubber gloves so you wouldn’t get reanimated tissue under your freshly manicured nails? That freak of nature almost killed me!”
“You were doing fine,” John assures him.
Rodney sputters, ineffectually flailing his arms. “You – I – god, I hate you. Why must you plague me?”
He tries not to notice the way John’s smile quirks up at the side and turns playful, telling himself he just hasn’t eaten in a while and that’s the only reason he feels a little light-headed.
“I’m still coming,” Ronon interjects, ruining the moment.
“I wish to join you as well,” Teyla puts in.
“What? No!” Rodney stares at them each in turn, disbelieving. “Oh, fine. When you die in a really painful, bloody way, though? Not my fault.”
“We will keep that in mind, Rodney,” Teyla says serenely.
The tunnels are dank and dark and just this side of too narrow. Every step has Rodney either scraping against the slimy walls or bumping hips and shoulders with John or straying a little too close to where Ronon is busy whittling a tree branch down with his knife to make a stake.
Rodney hadn’t asked where the knife came from, because he’s not actually an idiot, but it’s disconcerting to see the slight shine of moonlight off the blade out of the corner of his eye over and over.
Instead of letting it get to him, though, he busily focuses on informing Teyla of all the various ways to kill vampires (“You have to be very careful about the degree of entry. If you don’t hit the heart on the first try, it’s very likely he’s just going to backhand you into a wall and you’ll be too dead to try again,” he says with great gravity, and John presses against Rodney’s arm to give Teyla a mock-solemn look, advising, “You have to push it deep enough, too. Kind of embarrassing if the vamp’s just standing there going ‘is it in yet?’”) and neurotically checking to make sure he has his stake and holy water.
No matter how many times he’s done this, walking into a blatantly dangerous situation never fails to make his lungs seize up with nervousness.
“Chill,” John whispers beside him.
“Chill?” Rodney squeaks back. “Chill? God, you really are from California.”
“They’re not expecting you yet,” John continues as if Rodney hasn’t spoken. “It’ll be fine if you just stop freaking out.”
“I should have stayed in retirement,” Rodney says mournfully. “I got to watch TV at night and eat Twinkies without wondering whether they’d slow me down if I had to run for my life. I was gaining some weight, you know, and I think it really looked good on me.”
“Are we there yet?” Ronon asks.
Finding Gaul isn’t as difficult as Rodney had expected it to be, but, then again, the Gaul they find isn’t exactly what Rodney expected either. Even with all four of them fending off the nest of vampires, they’re backed into a small room without an exit in no time, only a flimsy metal door between them and their very messy deaths.
Brendan says, muffled through the door, “I can hear the worms in the earth, man.”
“That is just wrong,” Rodney shouts. “Why would you tell us that? Keep your insanity to yourself, it might be contagious!”
It’s John who finds the vent in the ceiling a few minutes later – though Rodney maintains that if he hadn’t been busy having a shouting match (“You’re just jealous of my awesome new powers!” “Do you even listen when you speak?”), he totally would have found it first – and they’re most of the way out, only John and Rodney himself still to go, when something grabs Rodney by the ankle and yanks him down. He kicks desperately and hears a dull thunk, then scrambles gracelessly out behind John and slams the sewer cover down on a groping hand.
The first light of dawn is creeping over the horizon already, painting the sky purple and gray. Rodney collapses gratefully on the gravel, groaning, “Well, that could have gone less horribly.”
He looks to John for sympathy and is pleasantly surprised to see him actually still there. He’s fidgeting, though, his normally smooth, agreeable features creased in discomfort.
“Oh my god, you’re…” Rodney says in sudden comprehension.
John bites his lip and glances sideways at Rodney pleadingly. “I can explain.”
Rodney ignores him, striding closer and hiking the hem of John’s t-shirt up. “Where is it?” When John doesn’t respond, he lets the shirt go and puts both hands on his hips. “Right, yes, of course. Well, my mother won’t be pleased to find an older man in – in my bed, so maybe the school would be better. That Whirr lady is bound to have first aid supplies, right?”
“McKay, I’m not –” John cuts off, snapping a fearful look at the beam of sunlight breaking through the buildings around them.
“Oh,” Rodney says, “oh,” and, “Jesus Christ, are you serious? That is so my luck.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” John asks in hurt tones.
Teyla peers between them and says with all her characteristic calm, “I believe it would be best to leave and find shelter, Rodney. You mentioned something about a…Whirr lady?”
“Hi,” Rodney says, pushing past the groggy librarian and tugging John in behind him by the wrist. Ronon and Teyla follow of their own will, and then bar the door with a nearby chair. While – oh, that’s it! – Weir is still gaping at them, Rodney pulls down all the shades and shoves John unceremoniously into a chair. “Explain it to her,” he demands. “And don’t leave anything out.”
Wide-eyed and a little oddly flushed around the ears, John complies. When he’s half through describing the link between the Master and his Vessel, Weir drops an ancient looking tome on the table and starts paging through it, muttering to herself.
“Aha,” she exclaims finally, and picks up a dry erase marker, scribbling a warped, A-shaped symbol on the board. “This marks the Vessel, correct?”
“Kill him, and the whole thing ends, no Master, no mini-apocalypse,” John confirms.
Rodney glances around the table and says, “I need to pick up some supplies.”
Peeking over Rodney’s left shoulder, John says, “Wow, you’re really well stocked. Hey, cool, is that a crossbow?”
“You know what?” Rodney wheels around furiously, prodding John in the stomach with the blunt end of a stake. “I should just get it over with and kill you right here. Sure, the mess would be hell to clean out of my new carpet, and I don’t think my mother’s unpacked the dust buster yet, but you’re annoying enough that I am seriously contemplating it.” He pushes a little harder. “And why the hell have you been helping me, anyway? Shouldn’t you be flitting off to go join your undead family?”
“I’m not like them, Rodney. I don’t hurt humans unless they hurt me first.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you’re helping me,” Rodney points out. “And furthermore –”
John steps closer, closing his fingers around Rodney’s wrist between them and pushing it out to the side. His green eyes are more serious than Rodney’s ever seen them.
“Maybe,” he says softly, with a hint of a snarl, “I really like loud mouthed blondes.”
The back of Rodney’s foot hits the wall, but John doesn’t stop advancing, his hands splaying out against it on either side of Rodney’s head. “This is such a bad idea,” Rodney whispers shakily, but he leans into the gentle press of John’s thumb on his jaw anyway.
“Tell me to stop,” John murmurs, and his mouth is right there, so close Rodney can taste his breath, “just tell me and I will, I promise. Say it.”
“Don’t stop,” Rodney moans, and presses forward to meet John halfway.
The kiss is wet and slow and every time John’s blunt teeth scrape his lower lip, Rodney whimpers and tightens his hands on John’s shoulders, trying to pull him closer, closer, until there isn’t a place from chest to knee where they don’t touch. It’s heady, feeling the slide of John’s cool tongue against his, being able to reach up and touch the messy shock of his hair, but eventually Rodney has to breathe, even if John doesn’t – which, okay, entirely new category of depraved fantasy material right there. While Rodney’s mouth is occupied delivering air to his lungs, John’s slides across Rodney’s jaw and finds his ear.
Rodney makes a strangled noise and lets it go on for a while before he reluctantly pushes at John’s chest. “Gotta save the world,” he reminds breathlessly.
John pouts prettily. “But it’s not even near dark. We have hours yet.”
“So not the point!” Rodney protests feebly, feeling his resolve slip through his fingers. “As much as I utterly approve of where this is headed, the apocalypse would really put a damper on m – our first time.”
After a long pause, John gently suggests, “What if we only sleep?” his voice gone all warm and low. He gets an arm around Rodney’s waist and pulls him towards the bed, walking backwards. His hands climb higher, slipping underneath Rodney’s shirt and following the curve of his body up. “Raise your arms.”
Shyly, Rodney raises his arms above his head and lets John undress him.
“Do you have an alarm we can set?” John asks when they’re both stripped down to their pants, shoes kicked off towards the corner.
Once that’s done, they pile into bed together. It’s awkward at first, because Rodney hasn’t exactly had much experience sharing his bed before, but finally John gets fed up and loops an arm around Rodney’s shoulders, pulling him in, and they fit together more easily.
“I shouldn’t trust you,” Rodney muses. “And you’re still not off the hook for being a vampire. You could be very dangerous.”
“Okay, Rodney,” John sighs.
“Really,” Rodney insists, “don’t eat me.”
“Go to sleep, Rodney,” John growls.
“You’re not inspiring much confidence. Should I get you my old mouth guard?”
All five of them show up at the Bronze half an hour after sun down – weighed down with (all together) fifteen stakes, three vials of holy water, and five crosses – trick the bouncer out of his spot and put Ronon there instead, and wait.
“This is boring,” Ronon complains after fifteen minutes, and Rodney politely proposes he shut the hell up. “Wow, you’re in a good mood.”
“Hello! Imminent catastrophe!”
In the end, though, it’s absurdly anticlimactic. The group of vampires is obviously not expecting them, completely unaware of the stake Ronon has up his jacket sleeve and the rest of them huddled behind a half-opened door. The blonde one from the crypt is even walking backwards to give Kolya adoring smiles. Figures that bastard would be the vessel.
“No way is it this easy,” Rodney mutters out of the corner of his mouth, astonished.
John grins wildly at him and picks up the crossbow, setting the arrow in its place with deliberate, loving care. He looks disturbingly like he might coo at any moment. And then the spell is broken and he’s glancing up at Rodney through his eyelashes, lips curved wickedly. “You want to do the honors, Slayer?”
Rodney flushes and shifts a little closer, letting John curl their twined fingers around the trigger (and pointedly ignoring the muffled noises of outrage and amusement from Weir and Teyla respectively). “That’s – okay, yes, just.” Together, they take careful aim, and let the bolt fly.
“That was kind of beautiful,” John sighs dreamily as Kolya screams and turns to ash, the rest of the vampires scattering down the street.
“You’re totally turned on right now, aren’t you,” Rodney accuses.
“…Maybe,” John admits. “You could –”
“Let me out, let me out,” Weir interrupts a little desperately.
They spill out onto the street in a tangle of misplaced limbs, and the whole scenario is so ridiculous Rodney starts laughing uncontrollably. “How is this my life?” he manages between embarrassing giggles.
Teyla pats his arm soothingly, and John touches his elbow. Ronon ambles over from the front of the club and leans against the lamppost next to Weir casually. The five of them stand like that – a loose circle with Rodney at it’s center – for a few minutes, connected.
Then John clears his throat. “Twinkies, anyone?”
“Oh my god, yes,” Rodney says immediately, with Ronon grunting yes directly after him, and Teyla tipping her head in agreement.
“May we buy the kind with the strangely colored filling?” she asks.
“That is so the best kind! Especially when they have the holiday ones,” Rodney gushes excitedly, voice fading off as the four of them walk further away. “I think the gas station on the corner probably carries them.”
Weir watches them, sighing. “The Earth is doomed.”