Rating: All G, I think. For now. Maybe PG
A/N: Okay, so I really, really need to finish my Grease!AU, but I'm stuck. I've had bits and pieces of all these others on my harddrive for awhile now, and I think I really just need to get them out and gauge a reaction.
I'm so burnt out on these right now, that if I knew anything at all about forensic science, I'd be writing a CSI!AU right now, and that is really tempting. There are about a million more I could probably think of, but I'm curious as to whether any of these intrigue anybody, maybe enough to get the juices flowing again.
For those of you actually interested in Act Two of There Are Worse Things, there's a little snippet in here for you. Someday you may actually get the rest of it.
1. The one where Rodney’s a frustrated science fiction writer and John’s the guy he hires to clean his cabin in the woods.
His sister Jeannie married a mountain man. You wouldn't know it to look at Kaleb, an English professor, of all things, but the man loved the outdoors, and had bought a cabin in the woods somewhere in Minnesota. When he injured himself one winter and had to cancel the annual family trip, Jeannie suggested her brother might like a chance to work without interruption.
"A cabin," Rodney had said. "In the woods. In winter. With bears."
Jeannie rolled her eyes. "They won't bother you if you don't bother them, Mer. I'm sure they're hibernating anyway."
At least she hadn't tried to deny it.
"Still," said Rodney, looking revolted at the very idea. "Bears."
Somehow she talked him into it.
He packed up his laptop and a dufflebag, and drove down to Minnesota in his dying Corolla, stopping off in a small town to buy groceries. Though his agent had left several frantic voicemails on his cell phone, Rodney had decided that if he was going to do this, then he was going to do it right, and agreed to borrow the cabin from Kaleb for a month. Jeannie wanted to give him the space for free, but wary of accepting favors from his in-law (as that would hardly set a good precedent) Rodney insisted on paying something.
Jeannie's lips had twitched. "Pay for a cleaning crew," she suggested, trying not to laugh, "and do us both a favor."
When Rodney came out of the grocery store, there were another two voicemails. He deleted them, and drove off into a no-service zone. He never thought there'd be a time in his life when he'd be glad to be out of range, but for once, he just wanted to get away from everyone and their damn expectations.
Kaleb swore the cabin had electricity and a landline, and, really, it wasn't quite as isolated as Jeannie made it sound. It was ideal, though, for Rodney and his writer's block, and at least it wasn't snowing, even if the chill did make his nose run.
It was also a sty, and Rodney had absolutely no intention of cleaning up his brother-in-law's mess. If he were a more charitable man, he would admit that it wasn't messy so much as cluttered, but he wasn't that sort of man, so he just pulled the dusty sheet off the sofa, wrapped himself in a blanket, and plopped down with a bag of chips, flipping on the old black and white television.
There were three stations of something other than static. The first was local news, and given the locale, there wasn't much of it. The second was a sort of Korean Home Shopping Network, and the third played inane children's programming. Rodney couldn't even get a sports channel.
It was probably for the best; Rodney had a Deadline.
First, however, he was going to get some sleep. He found clean sheets in a hall cupboard and made up the bed in the master bedroom, determinedly not thinking about what his sister and her husband might have done there. After coating himself in insect repellent, Rodney put ear plugs in and tried to drown out the sounds of Mother Nature falling asleep.
The phone woke him the next morning, and Rodney groaned into consciousness, blinking against the sunlight that found its way around the thin, drawn, tartan curtains. He was going to have to have a word with Kaleb's decorator.
"Morning," said his sister, far too cheerfully. "How are you settling in?"
"Grunt," said Rodney, or something to that effect. It was freezing. He burrowed further under the covers.
"Fantastic. I'll check in from time to time, just to make sure you haven't destroyed the cabin. Have fun, and watch out for bears!"
Rodney hung up on her. Then he took a deep breath, stumbled to the shower and gasped awake as he was doused in icy water. Oh, someone was going to pay for this. This cabin thing was probably the worst idea he'd ever had.
He really should have gotten straight to work, since that was the whole point of this torturous experience, but as he sat over his limp omelet, wearing mittens, staring around the living room which splintered off from the kitchen, he decided that the place was simply too messy to work in. Since he was absolutely not going to clean it himself, he decided to take Jeannie's advice and hire a maid.
He found the phone book in the cabinet under the television and arranged for someone to come over every day for a few hours to tidy up, do laundry, and other assorted menial tasks while Rodney worked on what was bound to become his next bestseller. The service promised to send someone right away.
Rodney had some vague fantasies about opening his door to a lovely blonde, possibly Swedish, woman who spoke very little English and who would inevitably fall in love with him as the weeks progressed, and was therefore extremely shocked when he opened the door and found a tall, possibly handsome if you liked that sort of thing, man with helmet hair from his motorcycle standing on the front porch wearing a leather jacket and aviator glasses.
The biker opened his mouth and said, brightly, "Hi."
Rodney immediately replied, "I haven't got anything worth stealing - this isn't even my cabin."
The other man sort of laughed and looked confused. "I'm from Miss Maid," he said, holding out a hand and pulling off the sunglasses. "John Sheppard. Call me John. Dr. Rodney McKay, right? You hired me to clean up."
He looked like the sort of man you might hire to kill someone. He was slinky, dangerous - though that impression probably had something to do with the leather and the motorcycle.
"But you're a man," Rodney said, still flummoxed.
"Yes," said John, stepping forward and forcing Rodney to back up inside. "Very sharp. I can tell you're a man of superior intelligence."
Rodney scowled; was the man-maid making fun of him? "The service is called Miss Maid. Naturally I assumed you'd be female."
"What, men can't clean?" John took a look around without a hint of an expression, like some kind of food critic judging a meal. "I can see I got here just in time."
There was a pause, and then:
"Just so we're clear," John said, eyebrow raised, "you were aware you were calling a cleaning company and not a call girl service, right?"
"Of course!" Rodney sputtered.
"Cool, then there's no problem." John was completely inside the cabin now, and showed no sign of leaving. "Where d'you keep your cleaning supplies?"
2. The one where John’s lost his memory of the last four years and Rodney’s trying to get him back to Atlantis.
John Sheppard's dreams are scattered, confused, bits and pieces of lives he's sure he's already lived. One person, one voice – someone he never manages to see clearly – remains a constant. Whether John dreams of running in the first Olympics, designing aqueducts and fighting for the Holy Roman Empire, or test piloting aircraft during the first World War, there's always another man at his side - usually complaining about the situation.
He doesn't remember much, but he remembers this.
John wakes with a slightly blurred number written on the palm of his hand. 91279. A phone number, he thinks, at first, until he realizes there aren't enough digits. That's also when he realizes it's not a number, it's a date.
For a moment he's so shocked he can't move. He's in a strange bed, in a strange apartment, the navy comforter pushed to the side due to the heat of late summer, with the date of his mother's death scribbled on his hand. What the hell is going on?
He lifts his head and looks for the photo of his mother on her wedding day that he brought with him to Antarctica. Since it’s not where he left it (he’s not where he left himself) he starts exploring the strange space. When he finally finds it (in the bathroom of all places) and picks up the frame, he finds a CD taped to the back.
"What the heck," John says aloud, after running the tap and splashing his face with water, just to make sure he’s awake. "How much more cloak and dagger can it get?"
So he puts the CD into a laptop which sits open on the desk. His desk, apparently.
A video pops up, and to John's further shock, he's staring back at himself.
The John Sheppard lookalike adjusts the camera lens then takes a seat and leans back. Everything - from the messy brown hair, to the slouch, to the rumpled black t-shirt - it's all disturbingly familiar.
"Hey," his doppleganger says, addressing the camera. "Sorry for all the cloak and dagger stuff. Hope you had a good night's sleep, John. It's you."
Video John explains:
"I'm recording this on June 10th, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois. I know what you're thinking: that's impossible. It's only 2003 and you’re supposed to be at McMurdo. But it's not and you aren’t. Basically, uh, me, there was an accident and your, our, memory of the last three and a half years has been erased. I'd tell you more, but at this point, I don't know anything else. Hopefully we, on some later date, will find out what exactly happened. Anyway, the reason I'm making this tape is that apparently our short term memory was also damaged in the accident - you think it's September 3rd, 2003 because you're incapable of remembering anything afterwards. You're not even going to remember watching this video - let alone making it."
"This is crazy," John mutters.
"You're not crazy," video John continues. "And I'm really you. Remember this?"
He lifts his shirt to display his rib cage and a white scar that runs jagged in the hollow between his ribs and hip. John presses his fingers to the identical one on his side.
"A souvenir from Afghanistan. By the way, there's a scar on your neck and you're not going to remember how it got there. The doctor who checked me out told me not to worry." Video John rolls his eyes, and John feels like doing the same, though his hand also goes to his neck where he feels puncture marks. "Now's when you're going to go out to get the paper and check the date. Pause this video." Video John smirks. "I'll wait."
John presses pause and goes to collect the paper. 2007. That's impossible. How could four years of his life just be missing? How could he not even remember making that tape?
The paper's folded neatly on his porch. His porch. He can’t remember the last time he had a porch. He can’t remember the last time he went outside without a parka. For a moment, when he sees a report on the war in Iraq, John thinks that the video really is an elaborate hoax, but the date above the headline reads: June 11, 2007.
Shit, John thinks, almost four years later and we're still in that fucking country.
He thinks this mostly because if he thinks about anything else, he's going to freak out, and he definitely can't afford that right now. He's got to see the end of that tape. The tape he made yesterday.
"Welcome back," Video John says when John presses play. "By now I'm guessing you've seen the paper and you're coming to the conclusion that this isn't just some crazy dream. You can turn on the TV if you want, just to be sure, but be warned: there's still nothing on."
John pauses the video again and turns on the TV behind him. It's still early enough to catch the news, and John doesn't recognize any of the anchors. He's starting to feel sick, and just a little desperate.
“I just got back from the doctor – at the moment, there’s nothing they can do or say. Apparently after this ‘mysterious accident’, I was shipped stateside to recover. There’s a VA hospital here that seems determined to keep a close eye on me. You. Us.
"So, since I have no idea when you're watching this," Video John says, running his hand through his hair, "and this would be confusing even if I had short term memory, I had this idea: every day add a message to the end of this tape. Talk about what happened during the day. That way, if I listen to my own advice, I'll have a pretty good idea of what's happened since this accident. Or rather, you will. We will. You know what I mean. Or, you should, since you are me.”
“I need to shut up,” John mutters. This is an awful lot of information to get first thing in the morning.
“By the way,” Video John adds, “I probably don’t even need to say this, but better safe than sorry. Put the CD back where you found it, and make sure the numbers on your hand are clear. I’m pretty sure this place has been ransacked once, so...”
John wants to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over his head.
3. The one where John’s a member of the City Watch, Rodney’s a disgruntled wizard, and Death asks them to stop a Necromancer from destroying Ankh-Morpork.
"So," says Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, staring at his potential new recruit, slouched in the chair opposite, "let me see if I've got this straight."
He hates this part. There are certainly a million other things he could be doing at this very moment, and it's not as if he needs to personally interview every new applicant, it's not as if he's going to remember their names…
But there's something about this one. Vimes watches him, watches the way he leans away from everything, the guarded look in his eye, the slight smirk at the corners of his mouth. He's thin, dressed entirely in black clothing that's a little too tight to be a uniform, and then there's his hair. Vimes rubs at his receding hairline almost out of jealousy.
"You were kicked out of the Assassins Guild for-?"
"My moral code and unfortunate sense of fair play," drawls John Sheppard with a half-hearted shrug. Every movement he makes is smooth, planned out well in advance. He would make a perfect assassin.
"The Assassins have a very strict code of honor regarding fair play," Vimes says, though he really thinks that's a crock.
"That's a crock," says Sheppard, cheerfully. "They have a lot of very nice rules about the ways you are and are not allowed to kill people, but very few rules about what you're allowed to do when someone is trying to kill you."
For some reason, Vimes has a hard time imagining anyone would want to kill Sheppard. It's almost annoying, really, how likeable he is, and undoubtedly without that blinding charm he wouldn't be sitting in Vimes's office in the first place; any other man in his position would probably be enjoying the view from the bottom of the Patrician's scorpion pits.
"Also," he adds, "they wanted me to cut my hair."
"And the Thieves Guild?" Vimes asks, scanning the young man's resume.
"Refused to steal the final exam answers."
Vimes blinks. "And they booted you out for that?"
Sheppard pauses and then stares across the desk at Vimes. "It's the Thieves Guild, sir. Stealing the final exam answers was the final exam." He pauses again and adds, "I don't like cheating."
"Ah." Vimes scans the sheet again. "It looks like you've been bounced around most of the guilds in the city since you were a boy, including-" His eyes widen. "The Guild of Seamstresses?"
Sheppard grins and leans even further back in his chair, reminiscing. "Oh, yeah, that was a fun couple of months. You'd be surprised what you can learn there."
"How old were you?"
Ah, that explains it then. Vimes is pretty sure he doesn't want to know, but he asks anyway. "Why'd you leave?"
"Oh, you know," Sheppard says with another all-too-casual shrug. "Thimbles."
Vimes looks down at the second sheet of paper he's got; Sergeant Angua once wrote him a list of questions to ask the applicants, after that brief disaster with Kevin "I’m Sane I Swear" Smith, who had passed what the watch called 'The Vimes Test'.*
*The Vimes Test™ basically amounted to Vimes looking at the new recruit, sizing him up, and then asking, "Have you got your own mind?" The answers ranged from "Yes,"** to "No," to "Well, actually, I've got thomeone elth'th too," in the case of Igors.
**Unfortunately, sometimes the applicants lied.
Vimes looks at Angua's list again. "Have you got a problem with werewolves, vampires, trolls, dwarfs, gargoyles, zombies, gnomes, golems, Igors, and/or humans?"
He stresses the word werewolves very slightly.
Sheppard appears to think this over, then shrugs. "Not today. Can't make any promises about tomorrow, though."
Vimes is taken aback by this entirely correct answer. It's almost too good – as if Sheppard knows exactly what he wants to hear and is parroting the answers.
"You know, we're an Equal Opportunity employer," Vimes says, carefully repeating the words Sergeant Cheery Littlebottom has had him memorize. He keeps one eye on Sheppard's follicles and slightly pointed ears. "We discriminate pretty equally around here. Doesn't matter what you are if you're no good at it."
Sheppard's eyes widen slightly, and his grin gets even wider, but he doesn't say anything.
"So," Vimes continues, a little put off, "you can, er, feel free to be who you want to be. The lads may give you a hard time, but it's all in good fun. No haircuts required."
Sheppard nods, but he's still smirking, and Vimes just can't stand it anymore.
"Do you even want to be a watchman?" he asks. It's not that good-looking people don't join the watch*, it's just that unless they have a tendency to turn into something else on their time off, they find better things to do.
*Though the First Annual Miss Ankh-Morpork City Watch was deemed a rousing failure by all, and they agreed never to speak of it again. Especially the talent portion.
Sheppard shrugs. "It's pretty much the only option left, other than Begging, and I don't have my own cup. Plus, I prefer wearing leather to eating it."
Vimes sighs; he's got one copper who wears a dog collar already, he's not sure he can handle another. The choice, however, is out of his hands. The Patrician, Lord Vetinari, has made it very clear that accepting Sheppard is entirely optional - the other option being that Vetinari makes Vimes's life miserable. He hates having watchmen forced on him; the vampire was bad enough, and this one is definitely hiding something.
Then Vimes catches sight of a file on the floor – the area he lovingly refers to as his 'in-box' - and he has an ingenious idea. Now he'll see just what John Sheppard is made of.
"Well, I'm sure it'll come as no surprise to you," Vimes says, sliding a badge across the desk, "but you're in. We take just about everyone who can walk and talk, and sometimes they don't even need to talk, so don't feel special. I'll start you as a Constable, given your background, and I've got your first assignment – a noise complaint in the Shades."
Sheppard does a double-take and the smirk falls away, to be replaced with confusion.
"Sorry," he says, "but did you say a noise complaint in the Shades?"
"Yes," Vimes says, and really, perhaps Sybil's right; he needs to get out more. "Is that a problem?"
Sheppard shrugs again, and Vimes really hopes someone will train that out of him. Possibly with a sharp stick.
"No, sir," he says with a look that says, 'I can handle anything.'
Oh, just wait, thinks Vimes. Wait until you meet Rodney McKay. It's almost unfair.
4. The one where Rodney’s the new Dr. Frankenstein, John is a Mountie, Ronon’s the monster, Teyla plays the violin, and Zelenka is Igor.
McKay Manor, Montreal December 31st, 1897
Dr. Rodney McKay had his letters delivered at home. It might not seem like an important detail to most – and, in fact, it was not an important detail to him – but to his neighbors, it smacked of arrogance and isolationism. Rodney simply didn't have the time to run to the post office and make pointless small talk with the clerks, but he also didn't have time to explain that to people, so they assumed he was pompous.
Which he was. Extremely so. And for good reason.
He was in the top of his field; a brilliant scientist with invitations to lecture at the finest universities – so, naturally, he was conceited. Unfortunately, that conceit translated to extremely poor people skills, and in the interest of not being run out of town with torches and pitchforks, he rarely left the house.
Having no friends and few acquaintances, Rodney was extremely surprised New Year's Eve when someone started to pound on his door, just as he sat down to work on his design for harnessing solar energy – he'd show those condescending French bastards at the Lycee de Tours.
It had snowed all day, and the only ones foolish enough to brave the weather were transient, so Rodney was not surprised when he opened the door to discover a short man with spectacles and hair so wild it looked as if he'd recently been struck by lightning. The surprise came when he noticed two tattered suitcases at the man's feet. He was even wearing a bow-tie.
"Hello, you are Dr. Rodney McKay?" asked the man with a thick accent; Russian, or German, or some such – Rodney had never been much for languages.
"I-uh-yes?" was Rodney's response.
"Good. I am called Radek. The Agency sent me."
"Agency? What agency?" Rodney rubbed his hand through thinning hair, shivered against the cold, and stared at the folded piece of stationary handed to him by...Radek. What kind of a name was Radek? The letter explained nothing; it seemed to be an invoice of some kind.
"Did you not send for me?" It wasn't really a question, though Radek frowned slightly when Rodney shook his head. Was it Rodney's imagination, or were his eyebrows not on straight? "I am here to...assist."
There was something ominous about the pause before 'assist'.
"I'm sorry," said Rodney, flustered, "but you must have the wrong house. I didn't write to any agency."
Radek bowed his head, but looked up at Rodney with surprisingly sharp eyes. "You are Dr. McKay, are you not?"
"Well, yes, obviously-"
"Then I am in the correct place." Radek pushed his way inside and brought his suitcases with him; was one of his legs longer than the other? Either way, he was dragging snow across Rodney's clean floor.
"I really don't need any assistance at this point," said Rodney, trying to interpose himself between the intruder and his living room.
"I like your settee," said Radek, taking a seat before the fire. "Shall we discuss ze Project?"
"Z project?" repeated Rodney.
"Ze project," Radek said with some emphasis, winking as if Rodney were in on the joke. "What I am here for, yes?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Rodney said slowly, enunciating every word. "I'm working on a machine to harness solar output, and besides, I can't afford an assistant right now."
"Payment has been taken care of," Radek replied, investigating Rodney's bric-a-brac from countries he had not actually been to. "Shall we begin? I shall need to see ze la-bor-a-tory."
Thunder rumbled outside; this was starting to get ridiculous.
"Ze la-bor-a-tory." More thunder; Rodney yelped. Radek looked up and shook his head. "Oh dear. Doctor, I am not certain we understand one another."
"I'm certain of that; I don't understand you at all!"
"The Agency sent me to assist you. There is a particular brand clientele with whom I have a...rapport. I specialize in the, how you say...creatively unusual."
Rodney gaped. "The what?"
Radek tried again. "The charmingly eccentric."
"I don't follow."
"The mad. As in: crazy, insane - those who are not in their right minds!"
Rodney stumbled backwards, away from the crazy little troll. "You think I'm some sort of mad scientist?"
"Are you not?" Radek was beginning to wonder if he had gotten hold of the wrong address by mistake. It was not like the Agency to make mistakes. To get into bed with serial killers, yes, but to make mistakes, no.
"How many times have you left this house in the last month?"
Rodney deeply resented the accusation – especially since, in all likelihood, it was true. "Plenty!"
"Do you have any extracurricular activities?"
Rodney tried to recall what other people did for hobbies. Something about stitching and furniture repair. Did drinking count as 'extracurricular'?
"I will take that as 'no'. Do you have any friends?"
"I wouldn't call them friends exactly." Rodney shifted from side to side. "More...friend-like acquaintances."
He really wanted this Radek out of his house; he had work to be getting back to. Plus, he was beginning to feel self-conscious, and Rodney McKay was anything but self-conscious.
Radek inspected his glassware. "Ever feel given to maniacal laughter?"
"Oh, well, we can work on that. It is important you have cooperative weather; it does not work as well with the kite and key."
"Look," Rodney said as Radek stood and started to inspect the rest of the house, "I'm not mad, I really don't understand what's going on here, and I don't see what my personal life has to do with any of this!"
Radek was now thumbing through his library, and stopped on a slim volume tucked out of sight. Rodney had never even seen the book before. Turning to Rodney, Radek pushed his spectacles up his nose and intoned:
"What do you know about...Frankenstein?"
5. The one I should be writing because I’ve left it half done...Here’s part of what I have so far...
V. It's Raining on Prom Night
When the topic of prom comes up with his friends again, John decides to ask Chaya, figuring she won't be able to come and then he'll have an excuse for not going.
Unfortunately she says she'd love to go and was hoping he'd ask. She's already got the dress.
He feels sick.
Rodney, it's decided (against his will), will be going with his group of friends in a limousine, and he's expected to dress up. Radek's escorting the Japanese prodigy Miko Kusanagi who beat him in the school's chess tournament, and Kate, lacking a date, has vowed to make Rodney dance at least once with her. Carson and Elizabeth refuse to talk about their plans, other than the fact that they're going.
Rodney thinks they're all nuts.
Two days before prom, John gets a letter from the Air Force. He decides not to tell his mother, and spends the night staring at the ceiling, wondering where it all went wrong.
Two days before prom, Rodney gets letters from MIT, Cornell, UC Berkley, Stanford, and Yale. He celebrates by getting extremely drunk, and then spends the next day listing all the ways he's going to fail.
The night of prom, John sees Rodney in his tuxedo standing at the punch bowl, looking like a lost penguin, and he feels his entire body melt. Chaya's iron grip on his arm brings him back to his senses, unfortunately.
He manages to get a minute away from Chaya when she goes to the bathroom to check her hair, and before he can lose his nerve completely, he heads in Rodney's direction.
His path, however, is blocked by Elizabeth Weir.
She's wearing a beautiful red dress and has a matching corsage tied around her wrist. Her hair is pinned up, and John can't remember a time when she's ever looked so feminine.
"May I have this dance?" she asks, and despite the fancy dress, her expression means business.
Unable to say no without sounding incredibly rude (and she probably won't accept it anyway), John nods and she takes his arm.
"No," she says as they start an awkward box-step, neatly avoiding Teyla who's dancing with Carson Beckett.
"Funny," John says, and his voice sounds unnaturally high, "you asked me to dance."
"This isn't about the dance," she replies, leading him around the floor. "The answer is no, Sheppard. You can't do this to him."
John's face lost all its color. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You two can fool the rest of the school," Elizabeth says, guiding his steps by stepping on his toes, "but you can't fool me. I saw it from the very beginning. Rodney's my friend, John. And I won't let you do this to him again."
"What makes you think I've done something to him?"
The look she gives him says it all. "Don't talk to me like I'm an idiot, John. Just, let him be. He's got his entire life ahead of him, and he has a hard enough time surviving in this world - don't make it harder for him."
She steps away from him before the song ends. "Thanks for the dance."
Then she goes to Ronon who's standing at the edge of the dance floor in a suit with his tie open around his neck, holding drinks. She beams up at him and John feels like the worst person in the world.
Rodney stays long enough to see Elizabeth get crowned prom queen, then ducks out the back door of the gym. He can't bear the idea of watching John dance another dance with his girlfriend.
There's a figure in shadow leaning against the wall, face barely lit by the red glowing tip of his cigarette.
"I didn't know you smoked," Rodney says, and he's kind of surprised that his voice is so calm.
"I don't," John says, stubbing it out and tossing it away. "Air Force pilots need healthy lungs."
Rodney doesn't approach. "So you're in then."
John nods, not looking at him. "Right after graduation. Heard you got into every school you applied to."
"Except for the ones that required a personal interview."
It's supposed to be a joke, something to make John laugh, to crack his hard, cool exterior, but the truth behind it, the truth behind them, causes the line to fall flat and shatter.
Rodney will never know what finally does it (a noise? a smell? a look?), but John comes at him, and forces him against the wall with one hand pressed to his chest. Rodney's horrified to see tears in John's eyes.
"Goddamnit," he says, voice cracking. "What do you want from me?"
And Rodney surprises them both by saying, "I'd like to see you happy."
So, if you made it through all that, any preferences?