Title: A Meeting of Minds
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Rating: PG-13 (for adult language)
Word Count: 5,039
Genre: AU, Romance
Author’s Note: This was originally posted on Evil Author Day as an excerpt of what I wanted to be a longer piece but I never could get the plot that I planned to advance. It just always seemed like I was done and finally I decided that I was. Besides, I don’t have a whole lot of non-explicit slash on the site.
Summary: John is seriously fed up with the loud guy with the nice ass taking his table.
– – – –
John paused in the doorway of the café and frowned at the head that peeked up from the laptop currently sitting at his favorite table. It had been happening for a week and it was getting annoying. He didn’t know who the new guy was but he’d totally invaded the café, John’s space, and his peace of mind. Four days out of six the fucker had managed to beat John to the café and in turn to the table.
John walked over to the table and dropped his computer bag on the bench he normally sat on. “Okay, so here’s the deal. This is the best table in the entire café. It’s the only one that doesn’t get direct sunlight in the morning so there is no glare on my screen. Since you don’t seem to understand that I have seniority and should get the table…”
The stranger lifted his head and his coffee cup at the same time. Bright blue eyes met John’s and the man’s mouth tilted in a rather charming, crooked smile. “Perhaps we can share then?”
John frowned at him to keep from smiling back. He nodded abruptly and went off to get his own coffee and breakfast. Sharing. That really hadn’t been his plan but unless he wanted to threaten the guy with bodily harm over a table that technically wasn’t even his… sharing was going to be the new plan.
“Hey, Professor Sheppard. What can I get you?”
John offered the girl behind the counter a smile and ordered his usual. By the time he returned to the table, the man had scooted to one side of the table and had made space for his computer and books. It was disturbing because he’d been prepared to have the man get twisted and snarky with him like he had every single person John had ever watched him interact with. Not that he was watching the man all the time or anything but the café wasn’t very large and the stranger’s voice carried.
John remained silent as he pulled out his Mac and then flipped through his notebook to find the lesson plans he’d fiddled with the night before. He only had three weeks left to get them ready for the semester and they had to be turned in to the department chair a week before that. He’d turned in his text books list several weeks before so at least that wasn’t going to be a nightmare. His first semester he’d turned them only a week before classes started and the bookstore hadn’t been able to get them in for students until six days into the semester.
“She called you ‘professor’.”
John broke his scone in half and nodded. “Yes, I teach at the university.”
The stranger snorted. “English lit?”
“Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations, Social Choice and Decision-Making, and Game Theory.” John held back a smug smile at the stranger’s obvious shock. “Dr. John Sheppard at your service.”
Another grin flitted across the stranger’s crooked mouth and he sat back against the bench. “Christ, really? You solved the Hodge Conjuncture a couple of years ago.”
“Yeah, I did.” John looked over the man’s face, tried to place him and while he was very familiar no name popped into his head. “You’re not a mathematician.”
“No.” He shook his head. “Astrophysics and Engineering but math has always been something of a hobby. If I had time for a third PhD I’d go back for it.” He held out his hand. “Dr. Rodney McKay.”
John took the hand of the man who had won the Nobel Prize in Physics at the world stopping age of twenty-eight and blushed just a little in shame. “I’m sorry that I didn’t recognize you.”
McKay waved him off and motioned to his notebook. “What are you working on?”
“Lesson plans. The idiots of tomorrow are mine to shape and mold. What about you? What are you doing here?”
“Teaching actually. I left a position with the government and now I’m going to be shaping my own idiots and morons. String Theory, Quantum Computation, and Advanced Quantum Mechanics.” He waved at his computer. “I have most of my lesson plans finished but the Dean sent some of them back because they were too hard.”
John grinned. “That’s why you don’t submit them until the last minute and there is no time for them to really read them much less demand changes.”
“Ah.” Rodney wagged a finger at him. “Excellent to know.” He looked around the café. “You come here every day, huh?”
“In the summer, I come in to work. I have an office at the university but I’m sharing it with someone who drives me absolutely batshit. Besides, I finished my first major proof sitting at this table so I feel like it’s… good luck. Crazy, right?”
“Well, it won you a million dollars.” McKay grinned then. “So not all that crazy. You don’t mind if we share?”
“No, at least I don’t have to worry about moron cooties.” John pulled an ink pen out of his bag and flipped to a clean page in his notebook. “I try to renew my coffee once an hour and buy snacks every two to keep them from asking for rent.”
Three hours later a turkey sandwich and fresh coffee appeared at his elbow and he shut his laptop. “Hey.”
Rodney motioned towards the sandwich. “She said it was what you always get.”
“Well, it isn’t often that I get to eat lunch with a man who isn’t completely stupid.” Rodney flushed a little and pushed aside his own computer to get comfortable. “How are the plans coming?”
“Good, I’ve submitted everything but the one for Game Theory. It’s a new class for me and I had to all but wrestle it out of someone else’s cold dead hand so I want to put my mark on the course.” John waved his free hand while he picked up half of his sandwich. “It hasn’t been updated in ten years, which is insane in itself. The first thing I did was dump all of the course materials which I’m sure will piss off a lot of students since they won’t be able to buy used books.”
Rodney snorted. “I don’t understand people who part with their course books. I kept all of mine—even the ones that are so very wrong that it is shameful to keep them.”
“I know.” John popped a few fries into his mouth and then waved a hand. “But I’m hoping that the update it will scare off anyone who isn’t serious.”
“You get a lot of girls piling into your classes because of your looks?” Rodney asked amused.
John shrugged. “It doesn’t help that half my students think I’m the real life inspiration behind a fictional character they watch on TV. I think they half expect the FBI to show up any moment to ask for my help on a case.”
Rodney grinned. “You did consult for that show, right?”
“Once or twice. They have an in-house mathematician that actually handles all the real math on their show but I’ve done a few consults at his request.” John flushed. “It’s silly but I do appreciate the effort they go to get some of the math right, even they are forced to make short cuts because of the limits of the medium. Also, they get people excited about math.”
“So you don’t have an older brother in the FBI?” Rodney asked amused.
John sighed. “He is vice-president of the family construction business and at last report still thinks I’m a stuck up academic.”
Rodney’s eyes flashed with temper and then he sighed. “At least they weren’t bought off with money and fame. My father decided I was his son again when I made the trip to Stockholm. Like winning an award from people he’d never heard of suddenly made me being ‘an arrogant little asshole’ somehow more acceptable.”
“Oh, they thought the money was really nice until daddy dearest realized I had no intention of investing it in the company as he’d expected.” John shrugged. “So, you know.”
“Christmas cards and grudgingly made phone calls on your birthday?”
“Yeah, until I stopped answering my phone on my birthday and moved without giving them the new address. Now I get an email once in a blue moon and they leave me mostly alone.” John pushed aside his empty plate and picked up his empty coffee cup. “Refill?”
“Please.” Rodney held out his cup. “I’m on the house blend today.”
– – – –
A month later, John can’t remember when he didn’t share his table with McKay. They normally went from breakfast to lunch at the table and then made their way across the street to the university for the afternoon. It had taken exactly two days for him to wrangle himself an invite into Rodney’s lab and by day four he had his own desk right across from McKay’s.
By the time the semester started all three of his TAs had figured out where to find him if he wasn’t in his own office and that was usually no less than ten feet from McKay or vice versa. They took turns orbiting each other when they weren’t teaching and sometimes even when they were– always full of snark and a dark humor they shared that no one else around them seemed to get.
John tossed a paper across the table towards McKay with a frown. “You need to find out if that kid really does have his BS. I think he might have faked his transcripts to get into grad school.”
Rodney picked up the paper and snorted at the name. “I know. He’s an utter moron. I don’t know how he manages to dress himself.” He dropped it in his graded pile and circled the big red F John had put on it to indicate his complete agreement. Then he pointed to his computer screen. “This test is too easy. Why don’t you just hold hands with these kids and sing fucking Kumbaya?”
John offered him a lazy grin. “It’s just a quiz, Rodney. The mid-term will make ninety-five percent of the class seriously reconsider their chosen profession and maybe even if they should contribute to the gene pool.”
Rodney sniffed as if that weren’t nearly enough and then nodded. “Plans for the afternoon?”
“Oh, I thought I would come along with you to your seminar.” John grinned when Rodney flushed with pleasure he was absolutely not going to express. They’d known each other for going on four months and so far they’d both been playing the ‘friend’ game. John figured that McKay didn’t even know what was coming which was going to make tackling him and nailing him all the more fun when he finally got around to it.
“Just don’t do that leaning thing in the doorway again,” Rodney griped as he started to pack away his things. “They are stupid enough as it is without you leaching out their brain cells with your slinkiness.”
“Slinkiness?” John asked with a pretend frown.
“That’s what I said. Don’t act surprised.” Rodney glared with a frown and sincere finger wave.
– – – –
The large lecture hall had been set aside for McKay’s first seminar on campus and it was filled to capacity. John was amused to note that the crowd was a diverse mix of students and faculty and most of his own students were in attendance as well. He helped Rodney set up and then dropped down in a chair in the front row that one of his TAs had saved for him.
His insane man-crush on McKay was absolutely no secret to anyone that knew him and he was really okay with it. John had done enough investigation on McKay to know that the astrophysicist had dated both men and women in the past so he wasn’t worried about that. Even if Rodney had never dated another man… John was pretty confident that he could seduce him.
John loved to watch Rodney teach; but in a large seminar environment like this surrounded by peers and rather helpless students the man truly shined.
“You’re in love with his brain.”
“Shh,” John elbowed Carson Beckett who had slid into a seat next to him. “What are you even doing here?”
“I came to see the lad who had turned you into a fourteen year old girl.”
John slouched down in his seat and shot the man a glare before focusing on Rodney. Three of the six white boards that had been placed on the stage were mostly full and McKay was launching into his theory on wormhole dynamics and multi-dimensional energy bridges. It was mind blowing stuff, cutting edge and John figured it would earn him a second Nobel one day if he could prove his theories on energy production through the harnessing of subspace.
Rodney was brilliant with bright amazing eyes, broad shoulders, and the youthful exuberance that John figured he wouldn’t lose any time soon. They were only six months a part in age and John had just turned thirty. What he really liked about Rodney was not his big brain or his truly amazing ass… it was the kinetic beauty that put him all together. John was completely enthralled by the man.
– – – –
John was startled at first, unprepared for the empty table in the café. McKay normally woke a full hour before he did and always beat him to their favorite coffee source. Disturbed on a serious level, he ordered his own coffee and went to the table. It was entirely weird to have the whole thing to himself after sharing it with Rodney for months.
He checked his email and his cellphone but there was no message. He spent ten minutes frowning at all of the read messages in the folder where all of McKay’s emails filtered to as soon as they entered his email program and then closed his laptop. It wasn’t like he needed to see McKay before he went to class. It was… just that he had seen McKay every single fucking day for the past three (almost four) months and now the man had… failed to show up.
John jerked when a muffin suddenly appeared in front of him. “I didn’t order this.”
Stacy, the girl that normally remained stubbornly behind the counter guarding the coffee like the two headed dog from hell, frowned at him. “Did you guys break up? Chocolate always helps me when some asshole makes me feel like you look.”
“We aren’t dating.”
She smirked. “Well, I know you aren’t getting any but you’re definitely dating.”
“Hey!” John laughed.
“Seriously, you could cut the UST in here with a knife.” She made the motion of cutting and then handed him a handful of napkins. “Eat the muffin. You look ridiculous.”
He ate his muffin, input the grades he had pending, and took himself off to class all the while telling himself that it was perfectly okay that he hadn’t seen McKay. His day was absolutely not ruined.
Twenty minutes into his first class, he lost his temper. It was probably the first time a single one of his students ever saw him lose his cool.
He tossed aside the marker he’d been using on the whiteboard and turned on the student who hadn’t answered the question he’d asked over his shoulder as he worked. “Mr. Brandt, did you even open your text book last night?”
“I—well—I had.” Scott Brandt flushed. “No, sir.”
“I see.” John’s gaze lasered around the room and half the class looked away. He figured the ones that didn’t were the only ones that had bothered to read the assignment. “Put your books away, a single sheet of paper on your desks.” He turned his back on them, pulled down a fresh board and quickly wrote out an equation that would’ve made McKay a little giddy. “You have the rest of the class to complete this and turn it. Show your work, explain yourself at every step. I don’t expect any of you to solve it but you will be graded on your efforts or lack thereof.” He tossed another marker, signaled one of his TAs to the front of the room to proctor, and stalked out of the classroom.
“Doc,” Jake Nelson called trotting after him. Jake had been the first TA he ever hired to work for him and like the others on his staff he was auditing the Game Theory class. “Look, why don’t you go see him? I know you must be worried but I bet they would let you in…”
John frowned at him. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Jake’s mouth dropped open and his eyes widened. “Oh, Christ, you don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?” John demanded through clenched teeth.
“McKay. He had some kind of bad allergic reaction yesterday afternoon at that party the President made him attend. I mean, they had to give him some kind of shot and CPR on the scene. He’s in the hospital.” Jake reached out and grabbed his arm to steady him. “I didn’t… I thought you knew.”
“No.” John shook his head. “Is he… what do you know about his condition?”
“Not much. His TAs are teaching his classes and his department chair is supposed to send out some kind of email this afternoon with an update.” Jake’s grip tightening. “Shit, you need to sit down. I thought you went to that party with him.” He prodded John into the office he rarely allowed himself to go to.
John shook his head to clear and push the sudden nausea away. “The President stopped inviting him me when I made it clear I didn’t like his daughter hitting on me. He figured he would spare me the drama.” He rubbed his face with his free hand. “Do you know which hospital?”
“Yeah, General downtown. Let me call his department and see if someone has an update.” Jake pushed him into a chair. “Geez, I’m sorry. I mean you were all distracted and pissed off in class—I figured you worried about him.”
“I was pissed,” John admitted. “I thought… well he wasn’t there for breakfast.”
“Oh.” Jake raised an eyebrow. “You thought he stood you up?”
“It isn’t like we made a date or anything,” John snapped.
“Right.” Jake picked up John’s phone and started dialing. “By the way, that was cruel what you did to those guys.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I bet some of them are in there crying.”
“It’s a solved, published proof.”
“That absolutely none of them could solve from memory.” Jake shook his head. “Could you?”
“I solved it,” John snapped. “Yes, I could do it from memory. I doubt they even know what it is which makes it all the worse.”
“You know the Dean is going to have call you into his office if another student drops your classes.” Jake tucked the phone and waited briefly. “Hi, Stephanie, this is Jake Nelson—Dr. Sheppard’s TA. I was wondering if we could get a status report on Dr. McKay and do you know if Dr. Sheppard could go…” He trailed off. “Ah, I see. In that case, why don’t you pack up everything he requested and bring it over here. I’m sure Dr. Sheppard would be glad to take it to him and it would save you a trip into the lion’s den.”
– – – –
John eyed the suitcase on wheels he’d been presented with by two very grateful Physics grad students one of whom had seriously, and without a smile offered him a cross and his sincere prayers. He pushed McKay’s doorbell and did his best not to lean and look slinky.
The door flew open and McKay blinked at him for a few seconds and then motioned him in. “I take it that none of my TAs were brave enough to come over here?”
“Well, they weren’t exactly protesting when I offered to bring it over for them.” John rolled the suitcase in and propped it up against the wall near the door as McKay shut them both in. “You look like shit.”
“That’s what I like about you, Sheppard, you’re unfailing honesty even if the face of decency and human compassion.” Rodney shuffled away, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand, his flannel robe flapping around him like a cape as he disappeared into the kitchen.
John followed. “I figured I would leave the ass kissing for your students.”
Rodney shot him a dark look. “They are too busy cowering in fear to kiss my ass.” He filled up his coffee. “Thanks for doing that by the way—I really didn’t want to see any of them anyways.”
“Well, you know, if you’d called I could have done it sooner.” John crossed his arms when Rodney turned and looked at him. “I just found out you had some kind of medical emergency an hour ago.”
“Oh.” Rodney frowned. “I didn’t call you?”
“No, asshole, you didn’t call me!” John dropped down in a kitchen chair. “I spent the better part of the day pissed off because you didn’t show for breakfast—and now I feel like an asshole because you’re obviously unwell.”
“You could have called me.”
John glared at him. He was pretty certain that the man that got stood up didn’t have to call anyone. “The coffee girl thinks we broke up.”
Rodney sputtered around a mouthful of coffee and sat his cup down abruptly. “We aren’t dating.”
“We aren’t fucking. We’re definitely dating,” John corrected and glared at him. “You just didn’t notice.”
“But…” Rodney frowned at him. “Really?”
“Rodney!” John exclaimed exasperated. “Exactly how many meals have you eaten alone since we met? Who do you call when you can’t sleep?”
Rodney considered the questions and drank his coffee in silence for several minutes. “Well, this is bullshit. You’re entirely too hot for me not to be fucking you.”
John stared for a few seconds and then started laughing. “Is that so?”
“Yes, I’m surprised someone hasn’t questioned whether or not I actually have my degrees because everyone on campus must think I’m stupid for not sleeping with you.” He sat down his cup. “And this is something you could have mentioned sooner—you know like on a day when I wasn’t recovering from having the President’s wife perform rescue breathing on me.”
John frowned. “What exactly happened?”
“I’m allergic to citrus. I did ask the server if the dish she gave me had citrus in it and she assured me it didn’t. Five minutes later, I’m stabbing myself with an EpiPen and everyone at the party lost their mind. I didn’t even know the President’s wife was an MD.”
“She’s the new wife,” John explained. “He snagged her right after his divorce was final. I’d say she was a trophy acquisition but I thought trophy wives were supposed to be vapid and stupid.”
“Yeah, she seemed nice enough. The daughter is grabby. I bet she chases you all over the house.” Rodney stared down into his coffee cup. “Out of curiosity, when did we start dating?”
“Hell if I know,” John responded and rolled his eyes. “Somewhere between a turkey sandwich and me getting my own desk in your lab?”
“We’ve been dating for almost four months and I haven’t gotten laid?” Rodney sputtered. “Are you always this difficult to get into bed or are you just playing hard to get?”
“Oh come on, you didn’t even know we were dating.”
“That’s beside the point.” Rodney pointed a finger at him. “Wait, were you pissy yesterday when I didn’t ask you to come with me to that stupid party?”
“No, I hate those stupid parties. I never go because she does chase me around the house. The last time I was there—she told me she could cure my ‘gayness’.” John went in search of a coffee cup and found one in the fifth cabinet he tried. “You had some company move you into this place, right? Because the organization is horrible.”
Rodney glared at him. “If you take the last of the coffee, you are required to make more.”
John casually shot him the bird and leaned against the counter with his cup. “Did you need anything else while I’m here? I’ve got a four o’clock class that I should go back for.”
Rodney shook his head. “No, I’m good. My maid service will be over in an hour to take care of my shopping and then…” He paused. “Are we exclusive?”
John’s gaze narrowed. “Yes.”
“Good.” Rodney stood, grabbed his coffee, and stalked out of the kitchen. “Come back for dinner.”
– – – –
The second time John rang Rodney’s doorbell, he was relaxed and totally in control of himself. It wasn’t his fault, at all, that McKay answered the door in a pair of old jeans, a Van Halen T-shirt, and bare feet. A man only has so much self-control.
Rodney huffed out a little laugh as John crowded him up against the wall and groaned a little when their mouths met. John was shaking by the time he lifted his head. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Rodney pulled him in for another kiss. “I’m sorry about not calling you. It’s been a while since I’ve had anyone my life that I… could depend on.”
“I want you to depend on me,” John murmured against his jaw as he reached out and shoved the door shut. “I should have done something about this sooner—and then you wouldn’t have been alone last night.”
Rodney’s fingers trailed down his neck. “Oh, trust me, I wasn’t alone. I was harassed most of the night by nursing staff – being sort of famous has its rewards you know.”
“Is that a reward?”
“Well, not the almost dying part but the part where everyone felt guilty for trying to kill me? That’s gold right there.” Rodney laughed. “I’ll never have to attend another dinner party at the President’s house again.”
“There is that,” John murmured as he shifted closer. “Is this okay? I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Yeah, I’m good.” McKay ran a hand down his back and settled it on one hip. He pulled John closer and took a deep breath. “It wasn’t even a bad episode. They just wanted to keep me over night to make sure I didn’t have a secondary reaction.”
“Except the President’s hot wife did mouth to mouth on you.”
Rodney chuckled. “Your mouth is nicer, much nicer.” His fingers clenched on the back of John’s neck as he wet his bottom lip. “I’m supposed to be taking it easy for the next day or so.”
“Yeah?” John leaned in and brushed their mouths together. “I can’t think of a damn thing that I want to do to you that would be considered restful.”
Rodney laughed. “I bet.”
John sighed and let his hands play with the hem of Rodney’s t-shirt. “I’ll just have to do all the work.” He brushed another kiss over McKay’s mouth.
“You can’t talk like that,” Rodney protested. “You’ll kill my brain and then your government will revoke my green card because I only got it because I’m very, very smart and they feel like they stole me from Canada.”
John snorted. “I’m not going to hurt your brain, McKay—it’s one of things that makes me want to crawl all over you.”
“Really?” Rodney sucked in a breath as fingers dipped into the back of his jeans. “What else?”
“Your eyes,” John murmured as he nipped at McKay’s jaw. “Your ass. Your shoulders. I could go on but I’d really like to get you naked and suck your cock. Unless you don’t agree?”
“You can have anything you want,” Rodney promised solemnly and then pushed him towards the stairs.
John would love to say their clothes just disappeared, flowing off of them in different directions like it happens in movies but what really happened was that they damn near killed themselves trying to undress each other until McKay put his foot down—demanded they separate and undress themselves.
“Two intensely smart people should be able to undress each other and not kill themselves in the process,” Rodney muttered as he pulled John toward the bed.
John chuckled and followed willingly. “We’ll just have to practice.”
McKay smirked at him and pushed him onto the mattress. “Yes, we will.”
John raised one eyebrow as Rodney crawled up between his legs. “I thought I was doing the work.”
“In a minute,” Rodney murmured as he ran his hands down John’s thighs and groaned a little when John obligingly spread his legs. “Four months? Really?”
John grinned. “Probably even before we met when you were bogarting my table at the café.”
Rodney turned his head and nipped at the skin of John’s inner thigh. “You have got to stop hanging out in the student union when I’m not around. You’re starting to sound like those morons we teach.”
John bit down on his bottom lip as Rodney nuzzled against his balls and then licked him from the root to the head of his cock before swallowing him in one wicked maneuver. “You teach morons—my students are just garden variety idiots.” He dropped back against the bed and spread his legs wide. “Jesus fuck, Rodney.”
Rodney hummed a little around his dick and John choked on nothing but air. He’d thought all along he had the upper hand in their relationship but he was so absolutely wrong but that.