Summary: He forgets his resolution to never, ever, fall in love at first sight again. He forgets because that's when Rodney McKay steps into the hall.
A/N: Set in the Life Less Ordinary universe.
i. Her name is Patricia and she teaches kindergarten.
At five years old, John has already lived in six different countries and can speak the rudiments of four different languages; it's not the best tool for making friends when his peers are still struggling with English.
His mother walks him into the classroom, and his grip on her skirt is so tight that she warns him not to tear the fabric through puckered lips. John thinks any ordinary mother would be murmuring assurances, but he knows his mother has her eye on her mid-morning martini and can't be bothered with the wide-eyed panic of a boy who can count on one hand the number of times he's been with children his own age.
She gives him a sloppy kiss on the forehead, breath heavy, and is out the door before John, disoriented from the alcoholic fumes, can find his footing.
No one stares, no one even spares him a second glance. They've already made their allegiances, and there's no room for a scrawny little boy dressed in funny clothes who cries for his mommy with an undefinable accent - even if he is staying put this time.
Then there's her. She's beautiful and warm and human and tells him, just with her eyes, that everything's going to be okay. He actually believes her, there's a glow about Miss Patty.
A few months later, hair painstakingly combed and parted, he asks her to be his Valentine, having practiced before the mirror for days. His heart is broken when she politely declines.
'I'm flattered, John, of course, but, well, I'm afraid I've got a Valentine, and I don't think he could handle the competition.'
She smiles, and tries to make it seem like it's her fault, but John can taste the failure. It's the first time he's swallowed by the green-eyed monster, and he promises that next time, he won't take no for an answer.
ii. Her name is Sue and she's Derek's girlfriend.
John and his cousins wrestle, stage mock battles, and have a habit of trying to drown one another in the swimming pool, but it's understood by everyone in the family that it's all in the name of 'boys will be boys'. They tease and they bicker, but really they're the best of friends.
Then there's Sue, and she's beautiful, with straw blonde hair and a cute half smile and freckles that wash across her cheeks up to the corners of her eyes. When she laughs, it's an insane little giggle that sends tremors down John's spine. He hears her laugh before he ever sees her.
Unfortunately, she's already taken.
John, fifteen to Derek's sixteen, is not unattractive, or incapable of attracting the opposite sex. Jack likes to say it's all in the infamous Sheppard hair, and does whenever he's not busy sucking face with a future Mrs. Dr. Jack Sheppard, much to Derek and John's amusement and disgust.
It's not John's fault, really. He wants to put that out there. Sue came after him. He can't help the tightness in his chest, or the way her hair catches the light, or the whiteness of her teeth.
Derek doesn't see it that way and says he can't help his fist meeting John's face.
It's the first time one cousin has hit another out of anger, and it'll send ripples through the rest of their lives.
iii. His name is Jeremy and he's not open for discussion.
There is no earthly reason for John to be attracted to Jeremy - he's not handsome, or charming, or even witty - so John blames it on med school and the lack of sleep.
He wishes he could blame it on the ridiculous amount of time they spend together pouring over medical texts, hands occasionally brushing like two teenagers with a bucket of popcorn, but really, he feels it in his gut from the moment they meet, and knows he's doomed.
Jeremy broods and snaps and has a 174 IQ. He's usually a pain in the ass, and John can't find one redeeming quality about him. It takes more than a year for him to figure it out.
Jeremy's attractive because he's unattainable. John really thinks he has the worst taste in men, and this belief is confirmed the day he makes a move, and runs headfirst into the Great Wall of Heterosexuality, ruining their study sessions and threatening the future of their MCATs.
John thinks maybe after he graduates from Johns Hopkins, he'll go back to being attracted to women, but he's wrong.
iv. His name is Chris and he says yes.
They meet-cute in a department store; John is trying to buy his stiff, military, golf-loving father a birthday present and Chris is returning everything that reminds him of his last boyfriend - including a set of golf clubs.
John says something about golf, Chris laughs and swears he only likes it in miniature, then proceeds to spend the next five minutes making the store clerk cry. John knows he's screwed, so he invites the man out for a drink.
They spend the next six months together, share each other's lives, become practically inseparable. Chris drinks, John works, they fight. Endless circular fighting. John would almost rather it were a fist to the face than this ceaseless rhetoric; at least then there's a connection. Chris leaves on a business trip, and when he comes back, he moves out.
He's met someone else. He has a disease. He's knocked up a woman in Kuala Lumpur. There's a number of possible reasons, and John doesn't care about any of them. It's over. He was a fool to let someone get that close.
He vows to never fall in love at first sight again; you never know what you're getting into until it's too late to back out.
v. His name is Rodney and he's an egomaniac.
The words are not exactly the sort that normally get John's blood racing; though, 'coconut' does have a vaguely risque aftertaste. The fact that Rodney disputes the science of Gilligan's Island in his spare time, for fun, should not be a turn on.
What John likes best about Rodney is that he is inherently himself; there is no pretense. What he sees on Christmas Eve is what's really there. Blue eyes, biting sarcasm, incredible intelligence, and a talent for hypochondria.
John doesn't make connections; he doesn't have close friends, and he doesn't let people in. Rodney doesn't listen; he just throws himself at the walls of John's defenses until they crumble. He doesn't take no for an answer, but he also never asks for permission.
His name is Rodney - and he's the one.