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The Sun Leads Me On

Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG-13
High school AU!
Notes: This is an SGA secret santa fic to be posted in the community. I took the title from Half Moon Run (it's a good song). Thank you to my beta outsideth3box for being so awesome and fast. Here it goes!

The Sun Leads Me On



~*~*~*~
9 Years Ago
~*~*~*~

A new student arrives at Dayton Elementary a month late.  The dark-haired boy is welcomed by his classmates and teacher, but groups of friends have already been established and the boy feels alone. At recess, a smaller, rounder, curly-haired blonde boy comes up the him and asks what he’s drawing. The dark-haired boy looks down at his notepad and back up at the other boy. He explains that it’s a plane, and not just any plane but it’s the plane he wants to fly one day. He wants to be in the military, just like his dad. The boys become best friends and practically inseparable over the following months.  However, when the dark-haired boy’s father gets positioned elsewhere, the boy has never been so upset. The boy and his friend see each other for a few more days, but it is solemn and there is no laughter or fighting. They both cry when they have to say goodbye.

A child’s mind is a peculiar thing; it grows with them, but they forget many details. Rodney remembers what it feels like to have a best friend instead of just acquaintances, but he doesn’t remember the name of the boy he cried over. He’d never recognize his face, nor would he expect the other to remember his. He remembers a loss, but it gets buried with all the other losses and rejections he’ll get in his life. Everything seems like a blur, but feelings of nostalgia can creep in. Like the feeling you get when you smell something that triggers some memory, but it’s just out of reach.

~*~*~*~
Presently…
~*~*~*~

High school has not been very kind to Rodney. He used to get picked on in Grade 9 and 10, but that tapered off. Now he is just invisible, not worth the time to make fun of, or maybe they’ve all just found an equilibrium of sorts. He has friends of course, or colleagues as he refers to them in his head.

Rodney shut his locker and jumped a little as Radek stood there with his wild eyes behind thick glasses. “Stop sneaking up on me like that,” Rodney said and rolled his eyes.

“Rodney I have been talking to you for about a minute and fifteen seconds. You didn’t hear me?”

“Oh… No. Sorry,” Rodney said unapologetically and turned around to start walking toward the library. He must have been too busy in his thoughts to hear anything. His free period was next and he planned to try hacking into the school’s server. He used the word hacking lightly as it was probably going to be a cake-walk.

“I was saying,” Radek started again sounding annoyed. “The new guy is already on the football team, can you believe that?”

Rodney rolled his eyes and turned on his heels. “Yes, I’m so glad I tuned into this very important and urgent matter you had to share with me.”

Rodney could understand why Radek was intrigued, but that didn’t mean he cared. The new kid was a month late at starting school and tryouts for varsity teams like football happen a month before school even begins. He probably had some rich parents with connections; probably got transferred from a school that was failing him and getting in the way of a shiny scholarship so his rich parents got him moved somewhere he’d be appreciated or something like that. Rodney had seen it happen before, it wasn’t all that exciting.

“Have you seen him yet?”

“Who?” Rodney asked, mostly just to annoy Radek.

“The new guy!” Radek screeched. Rodney smirked.

“What, you think I’m going to run into him in any of my AP classes? Yeah right.”

“But Rodney, he’s –“

“I’m late for my next class!” Rodney interrupted and headed toward the library.

“But Rodney, it’s your free period!” Radek shouted after him, knowing he’d been defeated.

Rodney walked briskly through the library doors and calmed as the complete silence enveloped him. Finally, he could have some peace and work on his projects. He had a few pieces of homework to get out of the way before he could focus on hacking into the school’s system and finding out about this new kid. Not that he wanted to know, but he knew Radek would just freak when he told him everything there was to know. Rodney didn’t really care about Radek’s opinion of him, but he liked to feel smart and all-knowing.

Rodney found an open computer in one of the small clusters scattered about the library. There were only a few other kids around him, so less chances for people peeking over his shoulder.

Rodney inserted his USB drive and opened a few word documents and began some ramblings. He always did better when he started talking off the top of his head and then sourcing the facts to back him up later.

*Snap*

Rodney flinched and paused. It was quiet again and Rodney looked around. He started typing again, getting back into the swing of where his idea was going and…

*Snap*

Rodney exhaled loudly. He leaned to the side, and saw there was someone at the computer across from him who happened to lean over at the same time. The kid used his tongue to peel the chewing gum off his lips and then he smiled.

“Sorry, I didn’t really mean to pop that bubble… twice,” the guy said, still smiling which only annoyed Rodney more.

“Yeah, well, if you could just… not. That’d be great. Some of us are trying to do work,” Rodney huffed. The guy’s smile was slightly unnerving, mostly because it made Rodney’s stomach do a little flip.

“Yup, totally. I get it. My bad.” The guy leaned back to be hidden by his monitor so Rodney did the same. Who was that kid anyway? Had Rodney seen him around before? Not that he knew every kid at his school; he had much better things to do than memorize faces. In fact he didn’t know the name of half the classmates he saw every day. Rodney shook his head. Why was he obsessing over this?

He looked back at his monitor and the words he’d written and got back to it. Slowly working his way back up to rambling speed. He’d worry about editing later.

“Hey,” came the voice of the guy across from him. Rodney slowly leaned to the side.

“What?” Rodney whispered sharply.

“Do you mind… not typing so loud? I mean some of us are trying to work,” the guy said with an annoying grin. And why were his teeth so white and perfect anyway? And his hair! Rodney didn’t even want to get started on that disheveled mess, he just wanted to run his hands through it and –

Rodney realized he’d been silent for a bit too long. “Yes, haha, very funny,” he replied snidely. Rodney returned to his own computer and stared at the screen, arms crossed.

He just wanted to get some work done and that clearly wasn’t going to happen now that he was self-conscious of his own typing. He tried to start writing again, slowly clicking each letter as softly as he could.

“Well now that’s just ridiculous,” said the guy’s voice. Except now it was coming from behind Rodney.

“What – how are –“ Rodney stammered as he spun in his chair. The kid was leaning against an empty table behind Rodney, his hips cocked in the most enticing way. Rodney’s cheeks reddened.

“I’m quiet, I know,” the other boy winked.

“Who are you anyway,” Rodney said, acting offended by the boy’s existence.

“John. John Sheppard,” the boy said with an outstretched hand. “I’m new.”

Oh. Right. The new kid. The one Radek couldn’t stop whining about. The one whose files Rodney was going to hack into before being interrupted by said new kid.

“Right…” Rodney said as he took John’s hand and awkwardly shook.

After a pause, John raised his eyebrows as if he was waiting for something.

“Oh right, I’m Rodney. Rodney McKay. I’m not new. I mean you probably knew that, or maybe you didn’t because hey, you’re new. I could have been just a little less new. But I’m not.” Oh no, word vomit, Rodney thought. “So football,” Rodney blurted out, just to cut himself off. “I heard that you play that.”

“Yeah,” John replied, making a contorted face of amusement and confusion. “Sort of. My dad really wanted me on the team.”

The lull in the conversation was the excuse Rodney needed. “Well I’ve got to go study… somewhere.”

“But not in the library, right,” John nodded and smiled. Not the same cocky grin as before, but a more genuine smile and it reminded Rodney of someone he couldn’t put his finger on. Rodney took one more glance at the unlawful head of hair gathered his things quickly and left. He spent the rest of his free period looking over textbooks that he didn’t actually read and wondering if he’d ever seen someone with such ridiculous hair before.

After school, Rodney hurried onto his bus and sat patiently waiting to attack. As soon as Radek sat down beside him with a ‘hey, Rodney,’ he exploded.

“How could you! How could you do that to me! You ramble on and on and this guy who plays football and you don’t for one second mention – ugh, nevermind,” Rodney breathed.

“Mention what, Rodney?” Radek asked with feigned innocence.

“I can’t believe you.” Rodney sank into the seat and crossed his arms. “Do not make me say it.”

“I really did try to warn you, Rodney. You just didn’t want to listen,” Radek replied.

“Warn me of what? You don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Rodney glared back.

“I was just about to warn you that he is exactly your type and you should definitely avoid him for as long as possible to save yourself embarrassment, of course,” Radek said in a matter-of-fact tone that grated on Rodney’s nerves.

They sat in silence for a moment, and Rodney started at the back of the seat in front of them.

“Alright,” Radek broke the silence. “Just how bad was it?”

“Awful! Terrible! He had this hair!”

“Uh huh, hair, got it,” Radek repeated as he opened a book and got ready to listen.

“And this smile! And not a good smile, no, it was like an evil smile! Set out to torture me,” Rodney finished.

Rodney tried not to go on any more rants about John for the rest of the bus ride, but every once in a while he’d be thinking something like “I can’t believe I brought up football” and he’d accidentally say it out loud.

“Which, by the way, he’s totally not my type because football? He’s probably just a dumb jock who’s gotten one to many blows to the head. I’ll be over this as soon as I see what an idiot he is, I swear,” Rodney mentioned just so Radek knew he hadn’t really won, because John definitely couldn’t be his type.

The next day, Rodney was proved wrong when he stepped into his AP history class and there was John. The bell rung just as Rodney entered, so the teacher made everyone take their seats and he begun his lecture. Rodney couldn’t help but look over and see that John was actually taking notes, and actually seemed to understand what the teacher was talking about. One time, John glanced back over at Rodney, but Rodney had turned his gaze every so slightly to look out the window, and yeah John definitely hadn’t noticed him looking.

At the end of the class, the teacher announced a project that would be done in pairs. Rodney hated group projects, and once again cursed Radek for taking biology this semester, which completely altered their schedules from each other. People instantly jumped into pairs with their friends and Rodney waited to see who would be left over. He was surprised to find John wandering over to his desk. John seemed like he’d be the popular type who had kids fighting over him, but maybe he was just too new. He saw girls look at John and whisper to each other, but partner projects were risky for getting to know a new kid.

“Hey,” John said as he stood in front of Rodney. “Don’t have a partner yet do you?”

Rodney tried really hard not to give a sarcastic response that would make him look like an ass. “No, and I see you don’t either,” was what he ended up with.

“Nope,” John said, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Rodney rolled his eyes with exasperation. “Okay, so would you like to work on this idiotic project with me?”

“Sure,” John grinned that same grin from the day before. “Not a fan of history I take it?” John grabbed an empty desk and chair and moved them to right alongside Rodney’s.

“I’m not really a fan of anything where I have to take other people’s opinions as fact,” Rodney grumbled.

John laughed. “Of course you aren’t.”

Rodney wasn’t really sure how to make small talk, or what exactly to talk to John about at all. “So… you’re in AP classes,” was what slipped out.

“Yeah. You surprised or something?”

John didn’t let Rodney off easy for that one. Rodney stammered and John just stared and waited for an answer.

Rodney ended up saying, “Shut up,” gaining him another annoying grin from John. Rodney just opened his textbook and began to work.

After class, John asked if they could work on the project after lunch since they both had free period at the same time. Rodney agreed and then ran off to find Radek. He dragged his classmate into an empty physics lab that they used to hang out in.

“What is going on Rodney!?” Radek shouted as Rodney pulled him into the room and shut the door, checking the hall first to make sure no one saw them.

“He’s smart!” Rodney threw his arms in the air as if this was the end of his world. He collapsed into a chair and rested his head in his hands.

“Do not tell me you dragged me in here against my will just for that, Rodney.” Radek crossed his arms sternly. “You have gone too far with this.”

“I’m doomed. My life is over. I will forever be in love with an unattainable jock.”

This only mildly intrigued Radek. “How do you know he’s smart? You have spoken with him more?”

“He’s in my history class. We have to do a project together,” Rodney explained.

“You asked him to work with you?” Radek was quite surprised at the thought of that.

Rodney responded indignantly, “Is that so hard to believe?” And then continued, “Well, no I didn’t. He came over to me.”

“Oh. Oh, I see.” Radek thoughtfully stroked his face.

“See what! You can’t just say that. What is there to see?” Rodney grasped at straws. He was surely losing his sanity.

“John seems to be under the impression that you two may be friends. Or at least that’s how it looks to me. I mean, I know how that concept confuses you, Rodney.”

“Oh shut up,” Rodney said before Radek could continue with his stream of attacks.

“Such hostility,” Radek teased. “Well, I’m leaving now. You should sit here and contemplate this crazy new idea.” Radek ran out into the hallway just as Rodney threw a nearby textbook at the place where Radek had stood seconds earlier.

Rodney knew Radek was messing with him, but he wondered if John really did consider him a friend already. It seemed quite odd to Rodney, but then again Radek’s jokes weren’t actually far from the truth about Rodney’s lack of friendship skills.

So Rodney went from freaking out about John in general to freaking out about possibly being friends with John.

Rodney spent the rest of his lunch convincing himself he could totally be friends with John Sheppard, the smart, gorgeous, football-playing new kid.

On his way to the library, he buried his head in a physics book to distract himself.

“Oof,” he grunted as he collided with another body in the hallway. “What are doing not looking where –“ Rodney started as he kneeled down to grab his book off the floor and ended up face to face with John who was also kneeling to grab the book.

“Sorry,” John spoke, unmoving from their matching positions.

Rodney couldn’t help but see John’s eyes. Like really see John’s eyes.  There was something about them that gave Rodney an odd sense of deja-vu. He seemed to be getting that a lot lately.

Rodney cleared his throat and stood up. “No, it’s okay. That was my bad.” Crap. He could so not be friends with John Sheppard.

John also stood up and then handed Rodney his book.

“Thanks,” Rodney mumbled in return and took off toward the library. John followed at a much more relaxed pace.

Rodney found a small empty table to work at and as he looked around he saw people wearing their school’s football jerseys. Right, it was game day, which meant that all the players wore their jerseys during the school day to show school spirit or some crap like that. John came and sat down, getting a notebook and books from his bag.

“Where’s your jersey?” Rodney inquired, thinking he was starting small talk or something. He expected ‘I forgot it’ or ‘it’s in the wash’.

“I quit the team,” is what John answered, but definitely not what Rodney was expecting.

“You what?” Rodney asked, shocked. Not that he actually cared whether or not John played football, in fact to him it was a plus if he didn’t. Yet it seemed like John liked football if he got on the team so quickly.

“Well, I was kicked off if you ask coach. But it was mutual, really,” John said nonchalantly.

“What happened?” Rodney asked, trying to speak more softly. He didn’t know if John was trying to act cool about it as a defense mechanism or if he really was fine with it.

“I stopped going to practice. Well, actually I barely started going. Rodney, don’t look so worried. My dad really wanted me to be on the team, but I didn’t.”

Oh, that made some sense to Rodney.

“Plus, coach is a total douchebag and according to the principal of my last school, I have a ‘problem with authority’,” John said using air quotes for the last part.

Rodney couldn’t help but let out a little burst of laughter. He wasn’t expecting this side of John at all. In fact, John just kept surprising Rodney at every turn. Rodney thought to himself he should maybe stop making assumptions about people all the time, though most of the time he was correct. SO maybe just stop making assumptions about John.

“Sorry,” John said, looking embarrassed suddenly. That threw Rodney off. “I don’t really have anyone to vent to. My brother always takes me dad’s side.”

“No, it’s okay. You can, uh, talk to me. I get it,” Rodney said awkwardly.

John raised an eyebrow.

“Hey, what?” Rodney said defensively.  “Just because I’m a genius doesn’t mean I haven’t rebelled against my parents or the school system.”

“Oh, really?” John said in a playful tone. Gone was any trace of embarrassment from his earlier sharing.

“Yes, in fact,” Rodney started and then lowered his voice. “You know all those announcements you hear about our report cards being delayed due to a glitch in the system?”

John nodded and leaned in closer.

“That was me,” Rodney whispered proudly.

“Wow Rodney, I’m impressed.”

Rodney couldn’t tell if John was being sarcastic or not so he rolled his eyes, but didn’t try to hide the small smile that formed on his lips. He hadn’t even told Radek about that one, but Radek had glared at him a lot the first time the announcement happened, so he probably guessed.

Rodney might be able to get used to this friendship thing. Sure, he had to fidget a lot to resist the urge to reach out and run his fingers over John’s arm and play with the black wristband he always wore, but Rodney had some self-discipline.

Rodney stopped going to Radek to rant about John. It just became running commentary in Rodney’s head that he kept to himself. Rodney’s mind was a gift, yes, but sometimes it could be a curse. John kept surprising him so he stopped assuming he knew what John was thinking, but then that also meant Rodney shouldn’t assume John actually wanted to be friends. Maybe John was just desperate for some good grades, so he partnered up with Rodney. Except surely John couldn’t have known how smart Rodney was after their single encounter in the library, and John was also really smart, so that couldn’t be it. His thoughts kept going in circles.

Rodney found that they worked really well together, though. They both got distracted by different things and then would get each other back on track when it happened. Except sometimes they both got caught up in arguing, though Rodney always swore he didn’t start it.

“But how can you possibly think Clooney made the best batman?” Rodney huffed. “I mean there’s opinion and there’s fact, and this one is just not debatable.”


They were sitting on a couch in Rodney’s house, where they had agreed on meeting earlier, being sick of the library.

Rodney’s parents had left a little while ago to take Jeannie to a friend’s house and then go to dinner.

“I need a break,” was all John replied to Rodney’s argument. He took that as a win.

“Good change of subject,” Rodney said, but agreed that he needed some air as well and shut his books. “We could take a quick walk and then finish this assignment off finally.”

“Yeah, sure,” John said. Rodney ignored the weird hesitance in John’s voice.

Rodney decided to lead John o a short walk around his suburban neighbourhood, pointing out places where he’d tripped and got a bloody nose or a pole he’d walked into and chipped his tooth.

“And that’s where mom picked me up and drove me straight to the hospital to get a single stitch. Embarrassing, really,” Rodney said. The thought of it still bothered him.

“They’re nice though, your parents. They love you,” John said, sort of solemnly.

Rodney tried to lighten the mood after that comment. “Yes, well smothering is more like it.” Then he pointed down a street as they circled back toward Rodney’s house. “And down there is my old elementary school.”

“Yeah, I know,” John laughed and then stopped himself.
Rodney was confused. “What do you mean you know?”

“What? Oh, I meant it as a figure of speech,“ John shrugged.

“I don’t think that’s a figure of speech people commonly use,” Rodney said.

“Well, I just did. I didn’t mean anything by it,” John said, trying to act cool but coming off a bit harsh.

They walked the rest of the way to Rodney’s house in silence and Rodney’s eyebrows remained knitted together in confusion. He didn’t want to drop it, but he didn’t know what else to say. Why would John say something so off and then get so defensive about it?

When they got to Rodney’s front door, John stopped and grabbed Rodney’s hand to get him to stop. It pulled Rodney back abruptly and he spun around almost bumping into John’s chest. Their faces were close and Rodney could feel John’s breath on his face. His heart was pounding. He stood frozen, unable to process what was going on, let alone do anything about it. He heard the voice in the back of his mind screaming at him to lean forward but he was too nervous to move.

“Rodney I—“ John stopped. “I have to go.”

And with that, John released Rodney’s hand, got in his car and left.

Rodney stood in the same spot, staring at nothing, his mouth hanging open slightly. Finally, he slowly turned and walked back into his house.

The next day, Rodney awoke with determination. He went to school early to go the library, and went straight to the first free computer. He wasted no time hacking into the school’s system to do what he’d been planning to do a week ago when John had interrupted him.

Rodney went through John’s info, unsure about what he was looking for. John’s dad was in the military, John had move schools a lot, he was involved in extracurriculars at each school, but only ever for a few weeks, but his GPA was great. Rodney got distracted by all the little details of John’s life, wanting to know more about him. Then he remembered he had to find out why John had acted the way he did last night. It all started with John’s weird comment about Rodney’s old school.

No, it couldn’t be that simple, Rodney thought to himself.

He looked up the list of schools John had attended. There was his answer, staring him in the face. John had gone to school with Rodney many years ago, just for part of grade 2. But why would John not just say that? Did he know the whole time? Why would he bother lying about it? Rodney may have gotten one answer but it brought up a whole lot more.

Students began trickling into the library more and more, signalling that class would be starting soon. Rodney was distracted all through calculus and then took his time on the way to history. He got into the room just as the bell rang, and he only looked at John briefly to see an awkward barely-there smile aimed at him. At the end of class, Rodney waited to see what John would do. He didn’t even look at Rodney as he was leaving the class, so Rodney shot up and grabbed John by the wrist just as he got into the hall.

“You are coming with me,” Rodney demanded and started dragging John down the hall. John made no verbal objection to this, but Rodney could only imagine the faces he might be making.

When Rodney finally got John into the empty physics lab, he saw that John mostly just looked nervous.

“What the hell!” Rodney yelled. “Why didn’t you tell me John? It makes no sense,” Rodney exclaimed as he started pacing.

“I’m sorry, Rodney. I didn’t know how you’d take it,” John replied. “And judging by your yelling I still have no clue.”

“I’m not mad about it,” Rodney stopped pacing, trying to cool down. “I’m just confused why you couldn’t just tell me in the first place.”

“What, just walk up to you and open with hey, I’m John and I’m gay?”

“Wait, what?” Rodney said, eyes wide. “I was talking about the school thing.”

John’s eyes now went wide with understanding. “Oh.”

“Oh,” Rodney repeated.

“Oh. So not about how I almost kissed you last night?” John asked.

“You wanted to kiss me?” Rodney exclaimed and threw his hands up in the air. Everything was getting more complicated.

“Okay, back up. The school thing. Let’s start with that,” John said. “My dad told me we had lived here before and I had a good friend but he couldn’t remember the kid’s name. I did, though. Rodney’s a hard name to forget,” John smiled slightly. “I just didn’t really remember much else. Until I saw you, that is, and then I knew it was you and I felt this connection with you.”

“Yeah, I… I had this weird feeling I’d seen you before or something,” Rodney said in a daze, like he was trying to grasp at the memory. He looked at John, tilting his head and then it came back to him. The new kid at school. He remembered going up to the lonely kid standing alone with the wild dark hair and deep brown eyes at recess. Doing everything together after that, crying when his friend moved away so abruptly.

“Oh my god, John,” Rodney said. “How could I forget that? How could you remember?”

“You’ve got a lot more important things locked up there, I’m sure,” John said, smiling more brightly now.

Rodney stepped closer to John. “So back to that kissing thing you were saying?”

“I don’t remember saying anything of the sort,” John said and before Rodney could glare at him he closed the distance between them. John leaned in slowly, putting his hand under Rodney’s chin to tilt his mouth up to meet John’s. They kissed softly and Rodney felt like everything was perfect for a few seconds. Everything fit and everything made sense all because of this moment. John leaned back first but Rodney didn’t let him get very far, wrapping a hand around John’s neck and pulling him back in. This time, Rodney wanted more, he wanted to taste John and remember this, remember everything about John and this moment.

When they finally broke apart, lips wet and pink, the world started coming back in around them. The bustling of people in the hall told them the bell should be ringing soon.

“So wait, why did you lie about the school thing last night? Why didn’t you just tell me then?” Rodney asked, completely breaking the moment they had before.

John just laughed. “I don’t know Rodney. I felt weird. It felt like this weird secret I had and I should have told you when we started talking a lot but I didn’t want anything to be weird. And when I saw you, you just looked so… and then I talked to you and you were so… I don’t know. I just wanted you and I didn’t want to screw it up,” John finished.

Rodney felt his cheeks get red at John’s declaration. In response, he grabbed John close again to kiss him, slightly rushed but still so good. They kissed until the bell rang for class and then straightened each other’s clothes and hair to make sure they were presentable. They were both slightly late to their next classes, but neither cared. Rodney had never looked so forward to having history the next day.

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
brumeier
Dec. 2nd, 2015 04:16 pm (UTC)
I love a high school AU! So sweet, that they were best friends for a short while and then came back together years later.

Loved John trying to be all smooth, and Rodney obsessing - accurate! LOL! Sweet and funny, and a perfect ending!
allofspace
Dec. 3rd, 2015 04:20 am (UTC)
ahhh thank you!! so glad you enjoyed it :) :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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