Karate John and Uncle RodneyAuthor:
Stargate AtlantisMain Character(s):
John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Teyla, RononWarnings:
Spoilers for McKay and Mrs. Miller, AURating:
PG13Summary: John Sheppard was no stranger to late parents. Still, that was other parents, and Jeannie Miller was the most punctual, organized, stay-at-home mother he had ever met in his six years of teaching karate.Word Count:
My gift to sethoz
for the holidays! Inspired by a romantic plot on Judging Amy--but don't hold that against the story. Fun and fluffy. Enjoy!
John Sheppard was no stranger to late parents. It often occurred shortly after their children began under his tutelage, or if the parents worked full-time and got caught up, or (on one memorable occasion) there had been an engagement party so large there was no parking within a three-block radius of his studio. Still, that was other parents, and Jeannie Miller was the most punctual, organized, stay-at-home mother he had ever met in his six years of teaching karate.
“Thanks for helping me clean up, Madison.” He gave Jeannie’s daughter a wide grin, the one Teyla told him to never use because it caused his students to get crushes on him.
She grinned back, sweeping up the last of the refuse into a dustpan and dumping it in the large trash bin he’d pulled out of the closet. “I don’t mind.” She was also smiling, but John could see the worry in her eyes. Obviously, Jeannie Miller had never been late in her daughter’s life, either. “Do you think she’s okay?”
An hour ago, John would’ve said yes, and blamed the traffic for the delay. But it was now well past the two-hour mark, and John’s own worry meter was teetering towards red. Before he could say anything, Teyla came in and bowed her head.
“Madison,” Teyla squatted down and rested her hands on the girl’s shoulders, “I know you’ve worked hard already, but would you be kind enough to bring out the garbage by the desk?”
“Okay.” Madison set down her cleaning supplies and headed for the back office.
John watched her go, and though he should really be used to it by now, was startled when Teyla suddenly appeared next to him. He didn’t let it show, though. “No luck, huh?”
Teyla glanced towards the office door and lowered her voice. “I am afraid not. She is not answering at home, or on her cell. Nor can I reach Caleb at the school. I can try calling the local hospitals, but it will take time…” She trailed off as Madison returned, dragging the very full square trash bin (from the looks of things, Teyla cleared out the past three years worth of phone books into it). She turned her head away and pitched her voice at a whisper. “Should I call social services?”
A frown tugged at John’s lips. He hated to do that, especially to Jeannie. The Miller family had been excellent customers and staunch supporters ever since they began attendance seven months ago. He’d never sensed anything wrong with the family dynamic. He never got the vibe that Caleb was violent or cheated, that Jeannie was anything other than a friendly (though extremely witty) at-home mom, or that Madison had abuse issues in her past. He really didn’t want to make things difficult for them.
He also couldn’t wait here forever in case they showed up. If he owned a car he’d drive Madison home, but since he was an avid member of the local bicycle syndicate, that was out of the question (and he was pretty sure Teyla took the bus). Sighing as Madison finally dumped the heavy load into the large bin, he shook his head. “Let’s give them another thirty.” The Miller’s wouldn’t have just left their daughter, not unless it was a real emergency.
He began to stride over to Madison when the door bell jangled roughly as the door was yanked open. “Finally! Do you know how hard this place is to find? I’ve been going all over this town to find your place! You could at least have a sign out or something for this hole in the wall!” The man was loud, with thinning hair and striking blue eyes, and was wearing a business suit minus a jacket and tie. “Oh my god! You made her do manual labor?! Do I have to quote you child labor laws?!”
“Uncle Rodney!” Madison dropped the empty waste can and ran across the room, throwing herself around the stranger’s--Rodney’s--legs. “Where’s mom?”
Rodney patted Madison’s head awkwardly. “At your dad’s,” his nose wrinkled, “university. Though really, with the brain-dead drones they’re spewing out, they hardly deserve the title.”
Teyla stepped forward, so that she was two strides from the man. John silently approved. The man was a little too awkward to be anyone’s uncle. “We called the school. No one answered.”
“Yes, well, that’s because of the bomb threat.”
“Bomb threat?” Madison looked up, her voice a little wobbly.
“Uh,” Rodney paused at that, face crumpling. “I wasn’t supposed to…look, they’re just being held with everyone else that was on campus at the time of the threat. They’re fine, really.”
“Why was mommy at school?”
“I don’t know. She said ‘Caleb’ and ‘romantic’ and I tuned her out. Of course, she shouldn’t have called me from the school. She knows I ignore Caleb’s number.”
John still felt uneasy. He’d never met, or even heard of, an Uncle Rodney before. “So you are…?”
“Doctor Rodney McKay. Jeannie’s brother, and a world-class attorney, so call your little attack minion off.” At that, he put an almost protective arm around Madison. “And it’s not my fault I’m late! I always ignore calls from Caleb’s office--not to mention they called Lorne, who everyone knows has the attention of a magpie, so when Ronon--why am I explaining this to you? You’re the karate instructor!”
“Yeah, well, I’d rather not be accused of letting a child molester take one of my students.” John was coiled and ready to dive forward if necessary, but kept up a lazy front. Amusing as this Rodney was (even as his face turned redder and he seemed ready to verbally explode), he still wasn’t convinced he was safe for Madison.
“It’s okay, John-sensei. Uncle Rodney may be grumpy and a Scrooge,” Rodney sputtered at that, “but he wouldn’t let anything happen to mom. Right, Uncle Rodney?” She turned big, wide eyes up at the man; and now John could see the family resemblance: Madison had the same bright eyes as this Rodney.
As for Rodney, he seemed to soften a little, letting out a long huff of air. “Yes, fine, ruin my reputation as a bloodthirsty attorney.” There was a touch of affection in the tone, despite the words. “Now can I take my niece and find something to eat? I’m hypoglycemic, and it’s a genetic condition, so we need to go eat now.”
Madison’s face suddenly lit up. “Ice cream!”
“Cake,” Rodney countered. “I had ice cream earlier. Lorne made some, and I swear I won’t be able to eat the stuff for a month.” He looked at John once more, a crooked grin in place. “And no, you’re not getting any, because you don’t get to come.”
John exchanged a glance with Teyla, and at her subtle nod, he smirked and leaned against the wall. “Alright, McKay. Maybe we can get cake next time.”
Rodney snorted, turned around (with Madison still attached to his legs, so John was rather impressed the man kept his balance) and started walking out. “Karate, of all things. You’re a McKay! You should be doing more important things, like learning Calculus.”
“I like karate. I knocked Jinto off his feet, and he’s two years ahead of me!”
“Is that the boy that Jeannie says pulls your hair?” John heard Rodney sniff as he shoved the door open. “Well, I guess if it keeps the Neanderthals away… Though a kick to the groin works just as well.”
John felt his smirk grow bigger as the door shut and he lost view of the two people. Teyla quickly locked the door, then turned to face him, arms crossed, eyebrows raised. “What are you thinking, John?”
“Just that McKay’s an interesting fellow. And thank god Jeannie got all the good behavior genes of the family.” He pushed off from the wall and headed towards the rear office. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She bowed her head again, then headed out the side entrance. John waited until he heard the door latch before he started changing into his casual clothes. Part of his mind was still focused on Rodney and Madison, and he made a mental note to call Jeannie at home later tonight, just in case. Though McKay didn’t seem like a bad guy. A bit abrasive, and maybe quick to temper, but like Madison said, not one to let anything happen to his sister.
And okay, a tiny part of him admitted maybe he was a little attracted to the guy. He didn’t fit John’s usual type, but then, John’s usual type had always ended badly (or just ended), so maybe his heart--or subconscious--was telling him to try something different. Putting on his windbreaker, he grabbed his backpack and headed for the side door. He’d have to think about the implications, but at least he wouldn’t have to worry about McKay again. From what just transpired, he doubted he’d ever see the man again.
So he was taken by surprise when he saw McKay sitting with other parents to watch the class; and completely failed to hide it.
Fortunately, no one--including McKay--seemed to notice the slip up save Madison, who hid a smile behind her hand. Gathering himself, he started class and pretended to ignore the feeling of the man’s eyes on him. He was used to being watched, especially by the mothers, but for some reason McKay’s gaze made the patch of skin between his shoulder blades itch. Still, at the end of the lesson, McKay grabbed Madison and they were gone minutes after John finished bowing.
The next week he was still surprised at McKay’s appearance, but the week after that he wasn’t so much. He even waved, which caused a ripple of flirtatious looks and soft tittering among the mothers. It took a moment for McKay to realize John was waving at him, and when he did he started, before hesitantly half-waving back. John smirked, then turned towards his class (once again spotting Madison hiding a grin behind her hand).
By the sixth week, Rodney came in slightly early with an extra cup of coffee and handed a cup over. “I, um…you deal with these bacterial farms all day and, well…it’s good for the immune system.”
John smirked and took the offered cup. “Thanks.” He sniffed it, and his eyebrows raised when he caught a scent of something other than coffee. “Tea?”
Red bloomed on Rodney’s cheeks. “Madison said you didn’t like coffee.”
“She told you this?” His smirk widened as Rodney’s embarrassment grew. “Did you ask-”
“Shut up and teach your bacterial farms!” With a huff, he turned and stomped over to his usual seat, glaring at John as he drank his coffee. John didn’t realize how much he was grinning until Teyla shot him a curious look. For some reason, Rodney bringing him tea made him extremely happy.
By the fourteenth week, he and Rodney had a little rapport going. Before class Rodney brought him tea and complained about the snot-nosed brats and contracting viruses from every wayward sneeze, and John would smirk and try to push Rodney’s buttons to the point where he huffed off to his seat. Teyla kept shooting him scolding looks, but John couldn’t help it; Rodney was just so much fun to tease.
Still, the Thursday of the fourteenth week arrived with no Rodney; early, late, or otherwise. Madison waved as she left with Jeannie, who also waved, grinning with the same crooked mouth as her brother. John tried not to be hurt or worried at Rodney’s unexpected absence. After all, it wasn’t like any of John’s students were Rodney’s responsibility; hell, he didn’t even like kids. It was probably work, John decided by dinner. Rodney was a lawyer (or so he said), so he probably had to be in court or some such.
Still, when next Tuesday’s class ended, he touched Madison’s shoulder as she headed for the door, squatting down to her level. He let his lips curve into a warm smile and lowered his voice. “Is everything okay with your Uncle?”
John shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “It’s just that he usually comes, and he hasn’t.”
“Oh. He had to leave for something. Mom says it’s a big thing that could get Uncle Rodney on TV.” Her eyes brightened. “That’d be cool, huh? Uncle Rodney on TV?”
John chuckled and patted Madison’s shoulder as he stood. “Yeah, that’d be cool.” He caught Mrs. Miller’s eye as he turned and she raised an eyebrow--how had he missed the family resemblance before? They were so much alike--in askance. He shrugged and waved her off. He had another class to teach, he’d just have to wait to see Rodney when he came back.
When turned out to be almost a month later, surprising John by coming early enough to catch the end of the class before Madison’s. After dismissing his students, he went over, accepted the tea, and bumped his shoulder with Rodney’s. “So didja get on TV?”
Rodney stared at him as if he’d lost his mind. “I was Colorado hammering out corporate contracts for new technologies to be released this year. Why would I be on TV?”
“Madison said--she was pulling my leg, wasn’t she.” At Rodney’s eye roll, John turned to glance at Madison, who wasn’t even bothering to hide her grin this time.
“She likes to think I’m a big lawyer, like the ones on the news. She wants to believe I put away bad guys.” He sighed. “Which, really, is a good ideal for her to have for her Uncle.”
“So this wasn’t a big thing for you, in Colorado?”
Rodney snorted. “One-point-four million commission. It was big enough.”
John choked on his drink and held a hand over his nose as tea started dripping out, glaring at Rodney. “Million?!” Amusement spread across Rodney’s face, a corner of his mouth quirking up, eyes twinkling. “You did that on purpose!”
“Yes, because it’s been my goal ever since I met you to make liquid drip out your nose. You do realize how disgusting that is, right?”
“I hate you,” he said, then snatched the napkin out of Rodney’s hand and held it up to his nose. “Hate.”
“The midgets await,” Rodney tucked a hand in his pocket and hummed as he wandered to his usual seat.
The next week, he ended class early, then waved Rodney over as the kids ran to their parents. After trying not to swear as he stumbled through the throng of children, Rodney finally tripped and nearly fell in front of John. Fortunately, John saved him from smashing his nose on the mat. “Geeze, graceful, McKay.”
“Hey, some of us have to work for a living, and that work doesn’t involve learning to stand on fence posts on one foot.” He glanced over to Madison, who was talking with Jinto.
“Yes, what? Hurry up. That little mongrel is trying to paw his way into my niece’s life and I want to stop it before I have to blow up his parent’s car.”
“Do you even know how to do that?”
“Hello! PhD in astrophysics! And if I could build a nuclear bomb in grade six-” At John’s raised eyebrow, he let out a short huff of air through his nose. “Non-working model.”
“Anyways,” John crossed his arms, “I have a tournament this Saturday. The Millers are invited, and since you’re so interested in karate…”
Rodney crossed his own arms. “What time?”
“Starts at eleven. And yes, there’ll be coffee available.”
Rodney sniffed, looked up, then tapped his fingers against his arm. “Eleven, Saturday. Got it. Can I go now? Jeannie wants me to pick up Thai for dinner.”
“You’re a good big brother,” John teased.
“Bite me.” He snapped his fingers as he headed to the door.
Madison looked up from her conversation, and quickly ran over to John, beckoning him down with quick arm movements. John knelt accommodatingly. “Did he say yes?”
John raised an eyebrow. “And how do you know what I asked him?”
“Because you like him,” she answered, matter-of-factly. John felt his ears go pink, and Madison leaned forward, putting a hand up to hide her mouth from Rodney as she lowered her voice. “It’s okay. Uncle Rodney likes you too.” Rodney’s snapping sounded across the room again, and Madison rushed over to her Uncle. “Sorry, Uncle Rodney.”
“Don’t sorry me. I saw you talking with that urchin. What does your mother think about this?”
“Mom likes Jinto.”
Rodney huffed again. “We’ll see about that.”
John stood, ears still burning, but he could feel his smile threaten to expand beyond his ears. So, Rodney liked him too. Well, it wasn’t like he’d invited Rodney to show off his skill--okay, maybe a little, but he liked showing off, and he was willing to bet he could talk Rodney into staying a little after the show, maybe for some dinner.
“I know what you’re thinking, John,” Teyla suddenly said from beside him. “As good a news as this is, you have a class to teach.”
He turned to her. “Did you know he liked me?”
Teyla gave him an exasperated look. “John, he brought you tea.”
John felt his face nearly split. “So cool.”
“Yes. Now,” she slapped his ass, “get back to teaching.”
Saturday rolled around quickly, but John wasn’t too nervous. The tournament was mostly alumni, putting on a show for parents, students, and potential new customers. He did it once every few months to try and bring in new business. The early morning was handled with the alumni fighting each other, with John and Teyla greeting people and pointing out the skills of the fighters. Come eleven, it would be John’s turn on the mat with his former students, and at three Teyla would take over to show how effective women could take down men of all shapes and sizes (Teyla ran a woman’s defense class three times a week).
John was fairly busy in the morning, but come ten-thirty John made a conscious effort to look for Rodney every few minutes. When Teyla tapped his shoulder, he gave one last look around before heading for the mat. In between bouts, when he and his ex-students addressed the crowds to explain what had transpired during the spar and the benefits of learning karate, his eyes always scanned the room for that certain pair of bright blue eyes. By two, he was bitter enough to land his opponent only minutes into the match and he apologized quietly as he helped the man--Bates--up.
When he looked at the crowd at half-past two, he found one set of blue eyes, belonging to Madison, just watching quietly, tightly holding her mother’s hand. Jeannie offered a weak smile, sympathetic even, and John realized Rodney wasn’t going to make it. Waggling two of his fingers together, Teyla separated from where she was schmoozing with potential clients and approached. “Well, I think I’ve done all the damage I can.” he bowed to his former students briefly, and then to Teyla. “I think it’s time I turned the floor over to Teyla.”
He heard Bates groan--for some reason, he always ended up with extra bruises when he fought Telya--as he left and made his way towards Jeannie. “Mrs. Miller, Madison.”
“John,” Even Jeannie’s voice was sympathetic, “he would’ve been here, but, well…”
“He had a case.” McKay did strike him as the workaholic type. “I get it. He has an important job.” He kept his voice even, though he was hurt and felt a small ball of anger settle in his stomach. Rodney had said he’d come.
“No, actually.” Jeannie sighed. “It’s just, he’s been so careful for so long, it caught him off guard, and then Lorne forgot to call us-”
“Uncle Rodney’s in the hospital,” Madison admitted quietly. “He got sick.”
The anger immediately morphed into worry, sending a cold chill through his chest. “Is he-”
“He’s fine,” Jeannie assured him. “Just an allergic reaction. He’ll be out by tonight, they just wanted to keep him for observation.”
John glanced at the crowd, noting the parents he knew eavesdropping on his conversation, and the line of parents waiting to sign their kids up for his classes. He needed to be at the registration table, he knew that. His business didn’t need new clients to survive, but it would ensure he was in the black for months to come.
It wasn’t enough, though. “Where is he?”
“Saint Francis Memorial.” It was well over fifteen miles away, but John could probably bike there in a few hours. Jeannie grabbed his arm and pressed her keys into his hand. He blinked. “I assume you know how to drive?”
“Uh, yeah.” Just because he didn’t drive now didn’t mean he hadn’t once. “Are you sure-”
“John, go. I’ll take care of the registration.” She smiled. “I did go through it once, I think I can guide other parents through it.”
John smiled back and hugged her briefly. “Free karate lessons for life,” he whispered in her ear, the only way he could say thanks, then he left. He knew which car was hers, and while a station wagon wasn’t his first vehicle of choice, it had a full tank and would get him to Rodney quickly. Teyla would kill him later, but he totally owed Jeannie for this.
For a slow Saturday afternoon, the hospital parking lot was rather full, but he found a spot and jogged towards the ugly gray building. The attending receptionist was more than willing to give out McKay’s room number, and as John approached room 145A, he understood why.
“Already taken care of, McKay.”
“And tell Lorne-”
“He’s pushing all your cases back three days.”
“Would you shut up, McKay? You’re supposed to be resting.”
“I did not hire you-”
“For unsolicited opinions.”
“Well…as long as you understand. Now get me more chipped ice!”
“If you’d stop trying to yell-”
There was a heaving sigh, and then a large Hawaiian with dreadlocks and a leather trench coat exited the room. He stopped when he caught sight of John. “You the boyfriend?”
“Uh,” John blinked, looking up at Ronon. “Hi.”
“Try to shut him up.” That said, Ronon lumbered down the hall, presumably to find some crushed ice.
Blinking at Ronon’s retreating back, John straightened his gi and stepped into the room. “It’s about--oh. Um, hi.”
“Hi.” Rodney didn’t look too sick. His skin was paler than usual, and his eyes were bloodshot, but other than the hoarse voice, he seemed healthy. “You okay?”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “My new idiot secretary put lemon in my coffee. Lemon! In coffee! Who in their right minds does that!”
“I’m told it’s a California thing.” John grabbed the chair against the wall and dragged it over by the bed. “So you’re…allergic to lemon?”
“Citrus. Deathly allergic.”
“You look alive now.”
“Because Ronon keeps epi-pens hidden in his hair and can sprint across entire offices in less than two seconds. My throat was swollen shut for barely any time.” Rodney coughed roughly, holding a fist to his mouth. “I hate when this happens.”
“I’ll bet.” John let his own beating heart slowly return to normal. Since Jeannie hadn’t been panicking, John hadn’t been too afraid, but he’d still been worried.
Lowering his hand, Rodney fisted the sheet between his fingers. “I just had to do some work for an hour, maybe two. I, uh, really wanted to see you today. I made a big deal about it, and left plenty of time to get across town, but then….” Rodney went silent.
“Hey, the important thing is you’re okay,” John said, easing a hand onto the bed and gently rubbing Rodney’s wrist. “I’m really glad you’re okay.” Rodney relaxed his hands, and John moved his own so he could hold Rodney’s. “Really glad. Because I kinda wanted to know if, uh, you’d like-”
John’s brow creased. “You don’t know what I’m going to-”
“You’re asking me out, I’m accepting. How about tonight--no, no. Jeannie will want me at her place to show Madison I’m okay. Tomorrow? Tomorrow’s good. As long as we don’t go for any crunchy food, because my throat will still be sore-”
“Hey, hey! I still haven’t asked you out!” John pouted, but his thumb was stroking the back of Rodney’s hand. “I was going to ask if you’d like karate lessons.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Yes, of course you were going to ask that, because I’m so obviously athletically inclined.” He paused a beat. “Unless that’s a euphemism. Is it a euphemism? Cause if so, then yes. Yes. I want to learn lots and lots of karate-”
“It’s not a euphemism! Geeze!” But John was smiling, because Rodney was babbling, and that meant he was fine.
Rodney huffed. “Fine. No karate lessons, but dinner would be nice. And maybe a movie. With cuddling. And sex.”
“I thought Canadians were supposed to be polite.” John felt himself warm when Rodney’s crooked grin tugged at the corners of his mouth.
“How long have you known me? Have we even met? I don’t do polite. And no blow jobs, at least from me. For a week. But I can do other stuff, really good other stuff.” John couldn’t help it, he laughed, squeezing Rodney’s hand. He was still laughing when Ronon returned with a cup of ice chips.
“Did McKay try to seduce you?”
The outraged “hey!” that erupted from Rodney made John laugh even harder, turning it into a rough braying noise.
“That’s your laugh? Well, I guess nobody’s perfect. As long as it isn’t always like that. You don’t laugh after sex, do you? It might ruin the mood post-coitus.” John put his head down on the bed, still laughing even as Ronon shoveled ice chips into Rodney’s mouth to shut him up.
“You gonna keep him? Cause I don’t think Lorne and I can put up with another courtship without killing him.”
John let his laughter die into chuckles. “I dunno. You wanna have sex?” Rodney squaked. Ronon shoved more ice into his mouth.
“No thanks,” Ronon shrugged one shoulder, leaning against the wall behind Rodney’s head. “I’ve got my eye on that hot chick you work with.”
John raised his eyebrows, then turned his attention to Rodney. “Rodney,” he drawled out the name as long as possible, “just what have you been telling your colleagues?”
“Mmph,” Rodney grunted sullenly around his ice chips.
John went to pull his hand away, and found Rodney was holding on tightly to it. John let out a put upon sigh. “Well, I guess I’ll keep him.” Rodney squeezed his fingers lightly, and John smiled softly. “He’s not such a bad guy. Bit of a strange uncle.”
Ronon snorted, placed the cup with the remaining ice chips in John’s hand and headed for the door. “You should try working with him.”
John shook his head, sat forward, and leaned down to plant a soft kiss against Rodney’s chilled lips. “Why don’t we try dating first, and see where things lead.”
Rodney swallowed the last ice chip and smiled, almost shyly. “Maybe to sex.”
John smirked. “One track mind, McKay.”
“You’re hot, can you blame me? You think I sat through all those classes because I needed to?”
“You weren’t trying to protect Madison from the big, bad Jinto?”
“I was ogling your ass, like all the other parents there. Madison can take care of herself.”
“Well, I can see how ogling my ass would make you focus on sex. It’s a good ass.”
“It’s a flat ass. You’re practically assless. And that so shouldn’t be that hot, but it is.”
John felt his own quirky smile form. “Rodney.”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
“Oh god, how cliché--fine. But one Shakespearian utterance and you’ll find ice chips down your pants.” Then, Rodney finally kissed him.
And John dumped the rest of the ice chips on Rodney’s crotch. After all, all’s fair in love and war. And John was pretty sure he’d finally found the former.