All your base are belong to us. The mechanical voice echoed from the console.
"Oh my god," Rodney groaned, "what are you? Twelve?" He had come in to John's room to hang out and watch a movie. Or mock a movie, which was more fun. Seemingly everyone had downloaded copies of every video known to man while the city had been on Earth. The media server was overflowing with unseen – and yet to be mocked – movies and TV shows.
Evidently, there also had been downloaded video games. It was Rodney's misfortune that John had picked almost the worst game video game ever. Well, he had never played Zero Wing but anyone with even a touch of geekiness in their blood knew the bad translation by heart.
John grinned from his seat on the couch in front of the screen. "Come on, it's fun!" He held up a game controller for Rodney.
"It's extremely bad, is what it is," Rodney pointed out without reaching for the offered device.
John fiddled with the controller. "Umm, well, I kept that part, it's classic, but... I kinda fixed it."
Rodney stared. John was always surprising him like this. That didn't help him keep the up the best friend charade when John did something hot like this. "You did what?" he asked softly.
John went still and then let out an embarrassed huff. "I fixed it," he repeated. "Okay, I had it fixed."
"That still makes no sense," Rodney prodded.
"Well, it's a cheesy game, right?" John replied.
Rodney nodded agreement. That was obvious.
"Well, the company that owned the rights to the game was on the edge of bankruptcy and, well, I bought the company," John admitted. His ears tinged red slightly, which Rodney did not find endearing. No, not at all.
Wait. John did what? "You bought the company," Rodney said flatly.
"Yeah, when we were on Earth," John said. "In that vacation they made us take. I really didn't have anywhere to go and..."
"Wait!" Rodney commanded. "John, you should have said something. You could have come with me..." Rodney stuttered to an awkward halt.
...and Keller? I think not... John had enough sense not to finish that sentence. Neither Rodney nor Keller had said much but they had left on vacation together and had come back separately. John had left Rodney freedom to say -- or not –- what he wanted about the obvious breakup.
"You should have said something," Rodney forged on. "We could have..." He huffed. "We would have figured something out."
"Wasn't bad," John admitted. "I needed to tie up some things with the family lawyers and one of them was a closet gamer. He convinced me that the company that owned the copyright to the game was a deal. Since a chunk of my inheritance was essentially found money, I figured it couldn't hurt."
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Found money, eh?" John never talked about money but figured out John had to have millions to his name. He could have brought better chocolate back with him.
John shrugged. "So I bought the company and then worked with the developers to update the game while not making it too slick. The cheesiness is part of the attraction."
"How's it doing?" Rodney asked.
"Pretty well, actually," John replied. "It's kind of a niche game but it's making money."
"Then why isn't there more beer?" Rodney demanded. "Or chocolate?"
John laughed. He could always count on Rodney to keep his priorities straight.
"I've got some really good chocolate stashed away," John said. He reached on the desk and handed Rodney a plain, white box. "Here's a down payment."
Rodney opened it and popped a chocolate in his mouth. And then groaned. "Cinnamon... mmmm..."
John had suspected that the dark chocolate cinnamon patties would be an instant hit. He reached out to take a piece from the box and wasn't surprised when Rodney pulled it away from him.
"Mine," Rodney declared. "You gave it to me."
"Oh, really?" John lifted an eyebrow. He sighed dramatically. "Good thing there's more..."
Rodney blushed, which John thought was completely charming.
"Play the game with me?" John offered Rodney a controller.
"It's still cheesy," Rodney observed, sitting down next to John on the couch and automatically putting the box of chocolates on the end table. Away from John.
Rodney took the controller from John, the controls slightly warm from the other man's hands. "I'm not sure this is fair."
"Why not?" John looked puzzled.
"Well, if you own the company, I assume you were involved in the design of the game," Rodney pointed out.
"Well... Some..." John admitted.
"So you know all the cheat codes," Rodney said.
"Not really," John had to admit. "I only had time to do some basic work with the designers while we were on Earth. They've kept me informed of their progress but it's been more about the work being done rather than about the game itself. This is a final beta and the first I've seen it."
"And you're sharing it with me?" Rodney was oddly pleased at that.
"Who else would I share it with?" John teased.
Rodney grinned and there was a moment of... something. Confused by whatever was happening between them, Rodney looked down at the controller in his hands and thumbed the control to start the game.
"Where do we start?" Rodney asked.
"At the beginning," John shot back.
Rodney rolled his eyes.
"Start with picking an avatar," John gestured at the menu. "It used to be a one player game, so that wasn't a big deal. With more than one player, they built in option to choose your avatar. See what you think."
Rodney scrolled through the list and stopped when he saw a character named Mastermind Roddy. He shot a glance at John, who was biting his lower lip. There was another character named Flying Jonny.
Rodney silently selected the Roddy avatar and read the skills assigned – intelligence and bravery. The image of the avatar was... him. Exaggerated and, if he were honest, better looking.
"What the...!?!" Rodney muttered. "John, what the fuck is this?"
"Rodney!" John looks worried. "It's... I wanted to include you." He held up his hands briefly in a peace sign. "I..." he turned faintly pink and then looked down at his feet. "It's how I think of you," he said softly.
"What?" Now Rodney was totally confused.
John sighed. Now he'd have to explain. Yup. No good deed ever goes unpunished.
"It's how I think of you," John started. "You're obviously brilliant but, well, you're brave and loyal and... and that's how you are." John ground to a halt.
"And... this?" Rodney waved his hand toward the frozen image on the screen.
John had to grin. "It's just... you," John offered.
Rodney sat back and looked at John. John felt the intensity of that look and tried not to shiver at the effect being at the mercy of Rodney's full intellect. For he knew Rodney was thinking, and thinking hard.
"You like me!" Rodney crowed with a triumphant grin.
John rolled his eyes. "D'oh. Yes."
Rodney leaned closer and said softly. "No. You like me." A small, delighted smile. "Me. And you."
John smiled back and leaned closer. "Always."