sga au

fic: A Theory of Parallels snippet [sga au]

Here's another thing that's probably part of something longer. I even have a maybe-sort-of storyline roughed out, but it's not going anywhere. So give it a kick in the pants. Give me prompts for what might happen further down the line. Or tell me to stop being silly and go back to writing about John being all traumatized by everyone dying.


Rodney opens the door just enough to glare through and snarls, “What do you want?” It’s not a very good snarl—his voice isn’t deep enough, and he sounds more like a whiny teenager (which he technically is, but: not important) than anything worth fearing. The main thing is the volume of hostility behind it, and he’s got lots of that. Enough to make the person on the other side of the door take a step back, although admittedly, that might be because he hasn’t brushed his teeth in a day and a half.

But despite Rodney’s best I will kill you slowly look, the guy doesn’t do more than put down his duffel bag and extend a hand. He’s kind of skinny and needs a haircut, and can’t possibly be on the football team, which is the best Rodney can say of him at the moment, given that he woke Rodney out of a much-needed nap and has the audacity to look like he doesn’t realize what he’s done.

“Um. Room 307. You’re Rodney McKay, right? I’m John Sheppard, your new roommate.” It’s been a shitty, shitty week, and most of that’s due to Rodney’s shitty ex-roommate, so he feels perfectly justified in shutting the door in the guy’s—John’s—face. “Hey!”

Ignoring the aggrieved yelp, Rodney picks his way through the disaster zone which is his room in the wake of said shitty ex-roommate, and goes back to bed. He’s almost finished mummifying himself when there’s the scratch and click of the door being unlocked and opened.

“You know, they gave me a key when they—oh.” Rodney peels the covers a little so he can see John, who’s staring at the mess with open dismay. “Please tell me your last roommate went on a bender and you just haven’t gotten around to cleaning up.”

“My last roommate went on a bender and I haven’t gotten around to cleaning up,” Rodney says as snottily as he can manage, and sits up, pulling the sheets entirely off the bed as he does so.

“Wait, really?”

And then Rodney has the surreal experience of watching his new roommate spend the next two hours cleaning the room. He tries at first to ignore John, burying his face in the mattress and pretending that he is in fact a mummy, because while it would suck to have his brain removed through his nose, at least he wouldn’t have to put up with idiots anymore. But John keeps poking him and asking questions like “Is it okay if I throw away this half-eaten sandwich?” and “Are these smiley-face boxers yours?” and “Do you have a hammer so I can put the shelves back in the bookcase?”

So in the end Rodney gives in and starts ordering John around, because obviously the guy is an idiot who needs to be told what to do—although he has an annoying habit of talking back and being sarcastic.

Eventually the floor is visible again, bed and bookcase and desks reassembled, Rodney’s clothes stuffed back in the dresser where they belong (“What, you aren’t going to fold them?” “Fold them yourself—I’m not a maid service.”), and everything more or less where it was before the shitty ex-roommate decided to trash the place. John’s collapsed on the other bed, seemingly oblivious of how unhygienic the bare mattress has to be, and Rodney should probably thank him for cleaning up what was someone else’s mess.

But he can’t quite bring himself to say the words, because he’s still a little angry about having another roommate forced on him so soon after the last one. Instead, he leans against the door frame and stares at John for a while.

“So, you want to go get pizza or something?” he says eventually, like John’s a friend or something, and John sits up with a sigh, scrubbing a hand through his already ridiculously crazy hair.

“Sure. Pepperoni or mushroom?”

They wind up at Orello’s, because Deenie’s banned Rodney two weeks into the semester for talking too loudly and in too much detail about health code, and John claims that everything at the Pizza Pit tastes like asbestos. Which is clearly ridiculous, and Rodney tells him why in great detail, but John refuses to recant. So there they are in Orello’s, at a somewhat grungy table for two, staring at each other. Or glowering, in Rodney’s case. John just looks tired, slumped down over the table like his spine is actually a slinky.

“You’re a physics major, right?” he says eventually.

“Yes, and what of it?” Rodney snaps, because he’s tired of getting blank looks whenever he talks about what he studies. He should be used to it, has been dealing with an increasingly disinterested world for years, but it still stings.

“Nothing—just noticed you had a lot of books on the subject. Was trying to be friendly.” John’s got his head on the table now, and if the pizza doesn’t come soon, Rodney will probably wind up eating it by himself, because John’s eyes keep sliding shut.

Really, John has no way of knowing that that’s Rodney’s sore spot, that he spent his childhood being told he should ‘be more friendly’, that it’s been the end of more conversations than Rodney wants to remember. Rodney knows this, just as he knows that it’s not John’s fault Rodney’s got yet another roommate, but he just can’t do this yet again—

And he tells John so in a carefully modulated voice (because he doesn’t want to get banned from Odello’s too), using words of few syllables, like he’s explaining something to the neighbor’s dog (after fifth grade, Jeannie started leaving the room whenever he tried to tell her about anything, and his parents had never been willing to listen), pausing only briefly when the pizza finally arrives. But the odd thing is that John’s still wearing a look of sleepy but amiable interest, even when Rodney, in increasing desperation to get the whole ‘what are you, a robot?’ part of the evening out of the way, starts throwing around actual math.

“That’s Maxwell, isn’t it?” John says after one particularly long string of variables and constants, and then yawns like a cat, tongue curling a little and eyes closed. And because it is, Rodney can’t help but fall a little bit in love with John Sheppard. Or would, if, you know, they weren’t both guys and going to be living together (because that could get kind of awkward) and John didn’t have hair like he’d stuck a finger in an electric outlet.

So he pays the waitress, grabs John’s wrist, and drags him out, informing him about the consequences of sleep deprivation and irregular sleeping habits as they go (never mind that Rodney’s been known to pull all-nighters in front of the department’s supercomputers—that’s for science). And John just follows, making mm hm noises as appropriate, with creases at the corners of his eyes and a soft-edged smile Rodney’s never seen on anyone under the age of twenty-eight. It’s a little disconcerting.

When they finally get to the dorm, Rodney has to steer John up the stairs, because if left to his own devices, John will happily spend twenty minutes leaning over the railing, staring at the floor however many dozen yards below. And if the guy gets like this every time he’s sleep-deprived or whatever, Rodney doesn’t see how he’s managed to survive this long into the semester. Or he doesn’t until the RA walks past, and John’s suddenly fully upright and coherent, even if the topic of discussion is the primeness of prime numbers, which is ridiculous, even for a math major (which John apparently is).

Once the RA’s gone, John lapses back into dreaminess, although the talk about numbers continues, and Rodney can’t help but be a little impressed—both by John’s ability to juggle insanely large numbers in his head like they’re three and four, and by the way he actually talks about the numbers. He should sound either insane or cracked, but there’s a note in his voice that Rodney’s heard in his own while talking about particles and waves and the mysteries of matter.

By the time they reach their room, John’s fallen silent again, and when confronted with his bed, he simply kicks his shoes off and curls up under a blanket—no pillow, no sheets. Rodney watches him sleep for a while, half in fascination, half because a little part of him still wants to dislike the guy, but can’t. Eventually he follows John’s example, although he takes the time to brush his teeth first and change out of his jeans.

He’d never admit it to anyone, but it’s easier to fall asleep when there’s someone else in the room, breathing softly.
Yay! I love this! More please! I adore John being Mathy.

What happens the next morning? Breakfast? what do they eat? What time do they get up? Is John a morning person? Is John in any of Rodney's classes?

John's pov? Definitely romantic. Love story. Their marriage? Sorry that's too far ahead. But I adore this. They are rommates and friends and then lovers and then they get married and live happily ever after. Drs. McKay + Shepphard.

Write them as lab partners! Maybe they do a great big project together and jointly win the Nobel Prize?

Hope this wasn't too much.

Feel free to ignore these too detailed prompts.
What happens the next morning? Breakfast? what do they eat? What time do they get up? Is John a morning person?

This definitely kicked things back into gear. Just need to write things out. And get some sleep. Preferably in the reverse order, I think.
Yes, this must be finished. But... so must the mentally-shattered John fic. Oh, the dillemma!

The general theme, so far, seems to be Rodney having jumped to conclusions about John, having decided not to like John, and slowly coming to realize that Sheppard is someone he not only could be friends, but wants to be. Except the latter he won't, and probably never will, admit to himself - it'll just happen. So this is a story where you could have a variety of things happens - situations where John, maybe, annoys Rodney at first, then does something to win even more of Rodney's respect. Rodney, in turn, fights not to like John, but John keeps doing things that make it impossible not to like him (they discuss math, then, maybe, John drags him to the fair and they ride the ferris wheel, or something.)

You could have something happen where Rodney - to express the friendship he will not admit to - does something for John: either stick up for him, helps him with something (a tough assignment, or something that was stolen) or John comes down with the flu and Rodney reluctantly takes care of him.

Anyways, those are my thoughts to be considered or ignored, or some parts considered and others ignored. What ever works ;)
This is helpful--it's stuff that I've been sort of thinking about, but collected into a much more coherent whole. John dragging Rodney (or Rodney allowing himself to be dragged) to a fair has distinct possibilities.

John comes down with the flu and Rodney reluctantly takes care of him.

This is really neat! I don't know what it is about SGA that makes AUs so incredibly appealing. I love how Rodney's determination not to like John falls slowly apart under prolonged exposure. It's been 10 years since my dorm days, but this brought the feeling rushing back -- the late impromptu runs to cheap restaurants, the feeling of being thrown together with people you don't know and might not like and end up bonding with anyway.
I don't know what it is about SGA that makes AUs so incredibly appealing.

I'm not sure either, but there certainly are a lot of them. It must be something about the characters, and how utterly themselves they are, even under completely different circumstances.

It's been 10 years since my dorm days, but this brought the feeling rushing back

I should probably mention paper-thin walls and really loud parties at one in the morning, just to make it really authentic. ^_^
Robotics competition. . . hm. That has distinct possibilities. Though probably no laser eyes of death (much to John's disappointment), since I'm trying to keep this semi-realistic. (Mostly because I don't think I've seen a version of this that wasn't completely cracked-out.)
! and there's more - or, a beginning really, to the other piece. I am very much a fan of college au. And falling asleep standing up!John is love. Is this going to be slash? It seems to be leaning that way, but I wasn't sure. Maybe there's a girl (or another boy) that starts to occupy John and Rodney is oh so totally not jealous because really, he never wanted a roommate in the first place and clearly if the administration had seen the extent of his genius they would have built him a room directly off the science labs, or a science lab in his room - so when he has his nobel prize winning epiphany at 2:30 in the morning his notes won't end up written on a discarded candy wrapper or in the margins of John's math homework. er... I think I veered off there - point: Rodney is jealous, even though he'll never admit it. And John is... oblivious? slinky, perhaps, as well.
Hee! What you've described is almost exactly what I've got in my head--I figure Rodney hasn't had many friends, let alone romantic relationships, and so doesn't really know what he feels toward John. So when John starts bringing Lucy around (at first just because her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend insist on having sex at all hours of the day, and they don't care whether or not Lucy's there, but later because he thinks Lucy's pretty cool--she does crew and makes paper airplanes and knows how to muck out a stall) Rodney can't help resenting her. Not because John stops hanging out with him, because he doesn't, but because Lucy's always there too. Or it feels like she is.

And there's misunderstandings and a little bit of angst and stuff, and eventually Rodney kisses John, and it feels like kissing Jeannie (back when she used to insist on being kissed goodnight) and John just stands there. And Rodney is hideously embarrassed, but then John drags him over to the arcade and trounces him at Pacman or something and everything's fine.

I can't decide if Lucy winds up sticking around. I think she might.
oh, I wholly approve of this. *nods*

Crew girls are tough - I shared a room with one in college. Oooh her and John could go for five AM runs together and Rodney could be all like - bzah? It's freaking cold out there shut the door and then Lucy (or John) could put sneak in and stick freezing cold fingers down the back of Rodney's t-shirt so he squeals and jumps out of bed with his hair sticking up in nine hundred directions and his blanket wrapped crookedly around his shoulders.

Also, I secretly think that Lucy should have a thing for Rodney. Maybe. Because he is sort of adorably rumpled. :D

Oooh her and John could go for five AM runs together and Rodney could be all like - bzah? It's freaking cold out there shut the door and then Lucy (or John) could put sneak in and stick freezing cold fingers down the back of Rodney's t-shirt so he squeals and jumps out of bed with his hair sticking up in nine hundred directions and his blanket wrapped crookedly around his shoulders.

Totally. John (this version of him, anyway) grew up on a farm (there's a long and complicated backstory to this which I really ought to write out at some point), so he's used to getting up reeeeally early, which Rodney cannot understand at all. Sure, Rodney pulls all-nighters with increasing frequency as the semester wears on, but to voluntarily get out of bed once you're in it--crazy.

And John (and Lucy, once she and Rodney come to an understanding) loves to do stuff to Rodney (who is a wimp and not ashamed to admit it) like stick his cold fingers down the back of Rodney's neck and drip on him after he's been out in the rain and drop snow down his coat.

I think Rodney decides he could be friends with Lucy after something happens to John (some kind of not-too-major injury) and they sit in the emergency waiting room together, Rodney wishing he could remember John's parents' phone number and Lucy trying not to cry, because she was on the periphery of whatever happened to John and is sort of in shock. She does break down eventually, and gets Rodney's shirt all wet, and after that it's kind of hard to keep on disliking her.

That's when he realizes that John doesn't belong to him. (Not that he'd actually thought that before, except that he kind of maybe had. A little.)

Afterwards, Lucy starts treating him like a little brother. Which is irritating, even though she is two years older than he is.
and then suddenly, it's like Rodney has people; people that care about him and worry about him when he stays in the science labs all night; people that pull his face off the keyboard and push him into bed at 2 in the morning so he doesn't walk around for three days with the impression of the return key carved out in red on his cheek. He's not sure what to do with this new information, it doesn't fit into his programming. No one, besides Jeanie, has ever cared about him as more than competition for lab time or another mouth to feed. No one has ever left sticky notes of stick figures dancing across the front of his notes so he has to struggle not to burst out laughing in the middle of a lecture, has ever known how to make him laugh at all. He doesn't know how to act in return, how to absorb the affection and give it back as anything other than snide remarks or blustery narcissism. It almost leaves him speechless, and for Rodney McKay that's saying something.
He tries to show them that he does get it--kind of, sort of, a little bit--even though it's hard. John and Lucy don't seem to need the same way Rodney does, the way he has for years and just never realized. But he does small stuff, stupid stuff, like play poker with John's friends (even though they all cheat all the time and Rodney wins only when they let him) and drag himself out of bed on a Saturday morning just so he can go to one of Lucy's regattas. It seems insignificant in the face of everything they do for him, but maybe it's enough--they don't get frustrated with him, as other people have in the past. When he forgets to meet them for pizza, they simply bring it to the lab and play three dimensional tic tac toe until he's too distracted to continue his calculations. And for some reason, he doesn't get mad at them for the interruption.

It's not just that they seem to want to spend time with him, it's that he wants to spend time with them, even though John's determined to waste himself on farming (except Rodney' not sure anymore if he wants to think of it like that) and Lucy doesn't know what string theory is.

When he has nightmares now, they're not about other people getting awards that should go to him: they're about him standing at the podium, Nobel prize in hand, unable to find John and Lucy in the audience.
Ok, so, in your five versions of John someone asked if you'd written anything about the fourth version, and I totally didn't connect this (one of my favorite favorite favorite stories of yours that always makes me wish I could yawn like a cat, only I'm not sure it would be as adorable on me as it most definitely is on John) to the fourth version of John, so I followed the links you provided, and then started reading the new comments, and you have a CREWBIE! A woman crewbie! Aiee! *happyhappyhappy*

So yeah. Umm... Have you heard of Quantum Tic Tac Toe? It's considered a formal interpretation of quantum mechanics, and I could definitely see Rodney and John playing it.

Oh, and Rodney going to one of Lucy's regattas? Ultimate sign of friendship. Regattas are miserably boring things to try and watch. They are long, you can't see the race all that well, and what you can see you only see for, like, half a minute. And the weather is either too hot and sunny or too cold and rainy. I've never managed to get my roomie to come to one of mine - even the ones on the creek!

P.P.S: Why is a farmer going to college as a math major? :D It's a very John thing to do, in any case.
Lucy was definitely inspired by you and your insane crewbie ways. :D

I want very much to write more of this, as I think I said fairly recently somewhere--it's just a much more mellow story and so keeps getting shoved to the back of the line by all the other brain-eating WRITE ME NOW stories. Which I have a fair number, some of which I have to keep deliberately squashing or I'd never get anything done.

But it's very much ideal for little snippets of things here and there, so perhaps I'll be able to work it back into my somewhat irregular repertoire. I hope so. It's nice to write about the characters being happy and not in danger of being eaten by space vampires.
And there's misunderstandings and a little bit of angst and stuff, and eventually Rodney kisses John, and it feels like kissing Jeannie (back when she used to insist on being kissed goodnight) and John just stands there. And Rodney is hideously embarrassed, but then John drags him over to the arcade and trounces him at Pacman or something and everything's fine.

*g* Oh, I really love that -- it's just so Rodney that he'd be so unused to friendship that he doesn't even know what it feels like or how it works! And not too different from what happens to a lot of people in college, as they find themselves having to figure out the rules of adult social interaction and figure out their own sexualities too. By the way, have you ever read this? Kind of a similar idea -- not really slash, just John and Rodney being so socially clueless that they don't know what friendship is supposed to feel like.
That story's very similar to what I had in mind. Except John's quite sure he has no interest in kissing Rodney (or doing anything else along those lines), so it doesn't go past Rodney accidentally biting John's lip. And then trying to melt into the floor when John asks him what the hell was that? Although John doesn't sound angry, just--bemused. Which, although not very comforting, is better than him punching Rodney in the nose.

That doesn't stop Rodney from back-peddling until he runs into the wall and has to stop, babbling all the time sorry, sorry, sorry.

(I find myself much more interested when crossed signals wind up with people discovering they're not in love--though I'm not sure if that's because I think it's more realistic, or because I'm tired of the same old story being rehashed for the umpteenth time.)
Í love how Rodney is slowly and grudgingly succumbing to John's charms. It's hilarious as well as cute.
Thanks! Rodney doesn't want to be won over, but it's awfully hard to resist John when he's let his shields down. Especially when he voluntarily cleans your room.
Oh, now, that's ADORABLE! Sorry, no story ideas (a permanent condition with me, unfortunately =[ ), but you could do *anything* with a start like that, and it would be pure gold!
Well, I do have a bunch of plot bunnies lurking in the comments, as you can see, so now it's mainly a question of *getting* to them. But yes, people do seem to like this AU. So it will get written. Eventually.
Thanks for the heads-up about the rec! I wondered why people were commenting on this old thing.
I always try to give people a heads-up when they've been recced because I always like to know if it happens to me!
I am a huge fan of Smart!John. Please do continue. Do slash, do Gen; I don't really care, but I like the tone of this already!
I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed writing this AU, but now that you guys have reminded me that I wrote it in the first place, I definitely want to play with it a little more. Dunno if I'll actual manage it, but I'll try to get something new written soon.