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Part 1

"Relax, buddy. I promise not to rock it."

Rodney shivered, wishing he'd worn something a little warmer. He hadn't realized how chilly it was going to get. It seemed like John noticed because he as suddenly closer, his warm length closer to Rodney, his arm resting along the back of the slowly rising gondola. Rodney gradually relaxed against John, soaking in his body heat. When he turned his head, John's face was close, his smile soft under the twinkling lights. For a long moment, Rodney thought John was going to lean in for a kiss, but instead he looked away and up at the night sky.

"Sorry. I promised you stars, but the ambient light is too strong."

Squashing down disappointment, Rodney shrugged, the move shifting him away from John's warmth. "No problem. I wasn't really expecting to see any." His spirits lifted a little when John scooted closer, sharing his heat again, and Rodney decided he could live with just friendship, if it was the only thing on offer.

The elephant in the chair below them rocked the gondola wildly, snorfling through its trunk.

[Group] [200MPHMan]: tofurkey? that really food?
[Group][GadgetBat]: Jeannie thinks it is
[Group][GadgetBat]: Tried to convince her that we didn't need to celebrate Thanksgiving in November because we're Canadian
[Group][GadgetBat]: The Americans won that battle and now they're out at the Black Friday sales
[Group] [200MPHMan]: with maddie?
[Group][GadgetBat]: No, she's here playing with her Legos
System will be offline in 1 minute for emergency server maintenance
[Group] [200MPHMan]: what?
[Group][GadgetBat]: I wonder how long it'll be down
[Group] [200MPHMan]: not even enough time to finish this
[Group][GadgetBat]: Catch you later when it comes back

Rodney was barely able to hit before the game logged him out. He was more than a little grumpy because he'd barely had a chance to chat with John before they'd had to say goodbye. He didn't even have Newton to keep him occupied because the cat was back home being pampered in his favorite cattery. Closing his laptop with a sigh, he resolved to wait at least 20 minutes before trying to log back in and re-connect with John. A few moments later, his phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out, prepared to reassure Jeannie that Madison was fine. A quick glance at the screen corrected that assumption. It was an unknown number with a San Francisco area code.




"Hey, since the game's down, thought we could talk the sort of old-fashioned way."

Rodney chuckled at the thought that a simple phone call was obsolete in the age of tweets, texts, and tumblr accounts. "It is good to hear your voice instead of merely tolerating your chronic inability to use capital letters."

"Just wanted to tell you Ronon deep-fried a turkey and Jen makes the best sweet potato pie I've tasted since I left Virginia."

Rodney's "You are an evil, evil, man skilled in torture," generated one of John's honking laughs, which made Rodney grin in return.

Madison moved her Legos closer and tugged on Rodney's pants. "Uncle Mer, make me something."

"Just a second, let me put you on speaker. I need two hands for this. Just remember, little pitchers have big ears." Rodney set the phone on top of his laptop and scooped up a handful of the plastic blocks. "What did you want me to make?"

"Make her a helicopter," suggested John.

Rodney could hear the amused challenge in John's voice and he leaned over to pick out a few more pieces. "You don't think I can?"

"I have no doubt you can. You're a genius."

Madison scrambled across the room to gather up more pieces, bringing them back to present them with a flourish. "Here, Uncle Meredith. I have lots!"

Rodney winced, not surprised when John snorted a laugh into the phone. "Uncle Meredith? Really? Are you wearing a big hat with flowers and drinking tea with Maddie?"

"Oh, please, my side. You slay me," Rodney said in a flat tone, wishing his sister would just give him a break and call him by his chosen name. "That's why I go by my middle name, Rodney."

"Sorry, sorry. It was just a funny image." John's apology sounded sincere, but Rodney wished he could see his face to be sure he wasn't still being mocked. He'd had more than enough of that growing up, which John seemed to understand with his peace offering. "Sort of 'A Boy Named Sue' thing, huh? Must have been tough growing up."

"Yeah, sometimes." Rodney's fingers had been busily clicking blocks together as they talked and he presented Madison with the final product. "There, a helicopter. Its propeller even turns."

Madison grabbed the toy with a squeal of joy. "Yay! Thanks, Uncle Mer!" She jumped up and began flying the helicopter around the room with whoop-whoop sound effects."

"Oh, to be young and so easily pleased." Rodney chuckled as he absently sorted the remaining pieces. "If only we could be so happy now."

John was so quiet on the other end of the line that Rodney thought he'd lost the connection, but then he spoke again, his voice oddly tentative. "So Ronon and Jen wanted me to ask you to come over for Christmas, I mean, if you're going to be in town. It's sort of an open house, nothing really fancy, lot of the people from the clinic and their...people." He'd spoken faster with each word that spilled out and finally stopped with a gasp for breath. "I promise not to say a word about the Meredith thing, so think about it?"

"Mommy, Daddy! Uncle Mer isn't gonna be here for Christmas! How will Santa find him?"

"It's DeLorean time," John crowed as he walked into Rodney's house for the first time, waving a copy of 'Back to the Future' over his head. He came to an abrupt halt at the sight of Newton trotting downstairs to greet the stranger. "Whoa! That's not a cat! It's a damn panther!"

Rodney laughed as he closed the door. "I guess I should have mentioned that although his mom may have been a plain black alley cat, his father was likely a Maine coon."

"Jeez, now I understand the tripping thing."

Watching a movie together had been John's idea. When he'd suggested seeing the latest blockbuster together, Rodney had sheepishly admitted that other people hated watching movies with him because of his running commentary. After he mentioned being content with his 52-inch HDTV, John had shrugged and suggested a trial run at Rodney''s house to see if Rodney's bad habit would be a problem.

It wasn't. Even though John's choice of movie was guaranteed to bring out the worst in Rodney, his comments made John laugh so hard that he spit popcorn halfway across the room.

"So it seems I wouldn't be the problem in the movie theater," Rodney declared as the ending credits rolled. "You, however, would probably be removed for throwing food at the back of people's heads."

John merely rolled his head on the back of the sofa and rubbed his stomach where it had cramped from a bad case of the giggles. Newton, who had been sprawled across both their laps enjoying double the attention, got up to check whether the cat food fairy had visited. "Now I have a cold spot," John complained, and Rodney bit his tongue instead of offering to take the cat's place.

"Got to get going. Early meeting tomorrow." With an exaggerated groan, John stood up and stretched, his shirt riding high enough to tease Rodney with a glimpse of dark curls and surf-tanned skin. "This was fun."

'Yes, it was." Rodney followed John to the door, thinking about the miniature working Ferris Wheel he'd bought on a whim. Just as John started to walk out, Rodney blurted out, "I know we already have plans for Christmas, but maybe you'd like to come over for dinner on Christmas Eve?" Rodney backpedaled a bit, explaining, "I don't really cook, but we can order pizza or Thai or whatever and watch another movie?"

John wiggled his eyebrows and grinned. "I do a mean lasagna. You supply the garlic bread and Chianti."

"I can do that," Rodney said then he snapped his fingers. "And the bakery by the coffee shop has the best cannolis."

As he walked out the door, John cocked his finger at Rodney and nodded. "Sounds like a plan."

Rodney closed the door and let out a sigh of relief before flipping a rude gesture toward the elephant snickering in the corner. As he walked upstairs to bed, Newton following behind, he couldn't help wishing that John had said "It's a date."

John laughed at Newton sprawled out under the tree, exhausted after hours spent watching the lights glinting off the ornaments and windows. Not only had Rodney pulled the artificial tree down from the attic - no real tree because of his allergies - he'd actually strung up all the outside lights Daniel had insisted they needed during Christmases past. Rodney hadn't bothered the previous year. Daniel was gone by then and Rodney had spent Christmas with the Millers, his house closed up and dark as his mood. This year he was home and sitting on the sofa with John watching 'It's a Wonderful Life," pleasantly full of lasagna and mellowed by wine.

A miniature Ferris Wheel sat on the coffee table, surrounded by crumpled blue and silver paper. Rodney smiled as he remembered John's exclamation of delight when he'd unwrapped the gift, his infectious excitement when he wound the tin key until the wheel began to turn and the music box inside played 'Fly Me to the Moon.' Rodney thought about how they gotten there, about that fateful first night at the stadium - suddenly remembering John been carrying two of everything. He twisted toward John, snapping his fingers in excitement as it all began to fall into place, validating what he'd postulated to Daniel. "It wasn't an accident, you meeting me at the game, was it?'

John began to straighten from his usual slouch. For a moment, Rodney thought he was preparing his escape, but then he shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding Rodney's eyes. "No, you'd mentioned trying it out and uh, it was kind of a Hail Mary finding you in the stands."

"And showing up at the coffee shop with a travel chess set?"

"I knew you liked the place and I saw you playing in there one day with that fuzzy-haired guy - around the same time of day we first bumped into each other."

"So you were stalking me?" Rodney was determined not to find that creepy since it had worked out so well for him. "I mean, that place is just off campus for me, but isn't exactly close to the clinic."

John sidestepped the accusation with a different confession, finally looking at Rodney. "Yeah, about that. I'm not at the clinic anymore."

"What happened? They can't have fired you!" Rodney protested. "You own a third of the place."

"I'm not going to ask how you knew that, genius." John grinned and shook his head. "I sold it to Teyla - the other therapist - and I invested in that airfield I told you about."

"So you gave up on physical therapy?" Abandoning something you loved was still as foreign a concept to Rodney as it had been when Jeannie had left school to be an at-home mom. It was the reason he'd never questioned Daniel's move to New York City and why he'd stayed behind.

John shook his head again. "No, I'm still seeing a few patients every week at the VA, but I really missed being up in the air." He mimed flying with a swoop of his hand. "I'm going to be giving helicopter tours of the Bay Area and flying lessons in both helos and fixed wings.

"Tours and lessons." Rodney knew how much John loved flying, so the change made sense. "You know, Parrish keeps babbling about taking a book about aerial views of famous gardens and forests. I'll send him your way." He settled back against the sofa again and watched the movie for a few moments, gathering his thoughts. He deliberately didn't look at John as he began again. "So I did some research back when this...thing between us started, because we met as patient and therapist. You know this isn't transference, right? I mean, I was okay with not seeing you again after I was better, but then you kept showing up."

John's response wasn't immediate, but it was exactly what Rodney was hoping to hear. "And it's not counter-transference on my part." Reaching forward, he used the remote to pause the movie before turning back to Rodney. "You're not my patient anymore and you never will be again."

"So if I mentioned that putting up the tree was tough work and that a massage would be nice, it wouldn't happen?"

John licked his lips and moved a little closer. "Don't tempt a starving man. It's been a long time since I've had my hands on you."

Rodney sighed and nodded his head in woeful agreement. "Weeks and weeks of computers, coffee, football games, and chess. I mean, it's been great having you as a friend, and it would be okay if that's all it'll ever be, but then I thought on the Ferris Wheel you might...."

Narrowly avoiding a flailing hand, John cut off Rodney's rambling with a soft kiss. Pulling back after a few blissful moments, he smiled and murmured, "I was afraid I was moving too fast. I didn't want ruin things with you because I really like having you as a friend too."

"Well, you are 200MPHMan and you've taught me a little speed can be fun." Rodney teased, then it was his turn to maintain their momentum under twinkling lights.

A muted buzz from John's wrist elicited an irritated grumble from Rodney. It was the first time John had stayed all night and Rodney didn't want it to be over. After a luxurious stretch, John turned on his side to face Rodney, a hand wandering out to gently stroke from the nape of Rodney's neck down along his spine to the curve of his buttocks, soothing the pleasant ache from the night before. While it wasn't quite a purr he elicited for Rodney, the appreciative hum was close.

"Your hands are always so warm." Rodney murmured, his eyelids drooping sleepily. "Does that mean you have a cold heart?"

John's hands stilled for a moment before continuing the long sweeps along Rodney's spine. Rodney's question hung in the air between them until John cleared his throat to answer the not quite rhetorical question.

"Not since I met you."

"Hmmm...oh! That's good. Really good."

"Hey, I've got to get going." John paused to clear his throat before continuing, his voice a little less gravelly. "Or I'm going to be late for my first appointment."

Rodney shifted to face John, blinking sleepily, barely managing to cover a yawn as he mumbled, "And I have an early class." Propping his head up, Rodney wiggled his eyebrows and leered, "I could call Miko...."

"Tempting." John laughed and leaned forward to kiss the silly grin. "It's one of my VA guys and I can't cancel so easily."

With a huff, Rodney rolled over and climbed out of bed. "Right then." He leaned over to grab his boxers from the floor and jerking them on. "I'll go start some coffee, so you can have your shower first."

In a few quick movements, John caught Rodney before he opened the bedroom door. Placing his hand on Rodney's chest to hold him in place, John asked in a worried tone. "Hey, you're not mad at me, are you?"

Rodney's expression shifted from grumpy to puzzled. "Do I look angry?"

"You did."

Pointing at his face, Rodney scowled. "Default mode, remember? I'm an adult, I understand you have to leave and I'm just thinking about coffee right now."

"So we're cool?" John asked, his hand sliding up and around the back of Rodney's head to pull him forward, resting his forehead against Rodney's.

Relaxing against John, Rodney smiled, his voice fondly exasperated as he corrected John. "You're cool, I'm fine."

"Good, then can I take a rain check on that incredibly tempting offer and uh...." John paused to snatch another quick kiss. "...share a shower instead?"

Rodney pulled back to ask warily, "And risk slipping and hurting myself again?"

"I promise to be very, very careful," John wheedled as his hands argued his case across Rodney's body. "Very."

With an exaggerated sigh, Rodney said, "I guess the coffee can wait," and pulled away to head for the bathroom.

Annoyed at his ban from the bedroom the night before, Newton thudded down the hall as the shower went on - only to have his entrance barred by a carefully placed foot. "Sorry, buddy," John apologized as he closed the bathroom door on the disgruntled cat. "You'll have to wait your turn."

Newton's law of universal gravitation states that any two bodies in the universe attract
each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses
and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

Supplemental Notes:

This story almost didn't see the light of day - stalled in the middle as I dithered. It isn't the 1950's anymore and today Doctor Rock Hudson would be censured for marrying his patient Ms. Doris Day. I performed due diligence in my research on physical therapists becoming involved with former patients. I recognized the potential triggers - even in a fictional context. Then I remembered that the show writers didn't have a problem with Keller/McKay and the story stopped spiraling down the drain with Newton chasing down the last drops.

A few of the many interesting items I researched: Cupid's Arrows or Poison Darts? and TV Tropes:Florence Nightingale Effect

Oh, and while I try to be accurate with locations and times, I tinkered a bit with the Stanford football schedule, shifting the Oregon Ducks game to September-ish.

John's new toy: http://www.wayfair.com/Collectible-Decorative-Tin-Toy-Musical-Ferris-Wheel-MS488-ALX3027.html


( 6 Danced — Dance with Me )
Dec. 25th, 2015 10:17 pm (UTC)
This was fun! :D I missed reading these boys, thanks for getting me back.
Dec. 26th, 2015 02:57 pm (UTC)
It felt so good to write something after so long. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and welcome back! :-D
Dec. 25th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
Lovely fic! Nice twist on the usual meeting and ship development. Adored it. :)
Dec. 26th, 2015 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for letting me know you liked this! *twirls*
Jan. 2nd, 2016 06:44 am (UTC)
Very nice--I particularly liked John's warm, soothing hands, and Rodney's enthusiasm for the role-playing game. Good game names for both guys.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 02:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed this! :-D
( 6 Danced — Dance with Me )


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