|the cigarette girl in the sizzle hot pants
Rodney says, "This is officially the worst coffee in the history of two galaxies. Seriously, John," shoving his heavy ceramic mug under John's nose and slopping coffee over the side and onto his fingers, "this is the worst coffee I've ever tasted, and I have drunk shitty coffee in Russia, Nevada, and ... other places these people can't even imagine, and this is the worst coffee ever."
John doesn't say anything, just shoves the mug away from his face and watches another slop of coffee spill onto Rodney's fingers. If they weren't in a Waffle House in Jasper, Tennessee, John would have leaned over and licked it off; but here, the only other people in a Waffle House on TN Highway 41 are truckers and bikers, and John's been too careful in the military for too long to get the shit kicked out of him here.
The guy flipping eggs at the grill looks familiar to John; like maybe before John went off to shoot aliens and save Rodney McKay's ass in another galaxy, John had seen him somewhere before. John squints at the guy over Rodney's shoulder, tries to pin him down to Sportscenter or the bar in Denver where John gave his first blowjob or somewhere, but he can't figure it out. Not even when the tired-looking waitress shoves a plate under the fried egg on the guy's spatula and he says, "Thanks, beautiful."
Two weeks leave on Earth; three days of briefings at the SGC, and then ten days before they had to step back through the ‘gate. John had plans, before they got back: he was going to eat a lot of pizza and a lot of take-out Chinese, and he was maybe going to go see the Rockies play if they were in town, and he was going to spend a couple of days in bed with Rodney without any kind of disaster, accident, or alien invasion hauling them out of bed mid-blowjob.
But then Rodney had to fly to Atlanta to vet some geneticist at the CDC, and John didn't feel like hanging out in Colorado alone, so he went along. Rodney spent a couple of days talking this guy into coming out to the Pegasus Galaxy so Carson could come home (his mother was sick), and John hung around and was bored some place new.
He'd flown commercial and military transport through Hartsfield a hundred times, but John had never been to Atlanta. So while Rodney was terrifying geneticists into going to work for the Stargate Program, John was a tourist. He ate six hotdogs at the Varsity and got yelled at by Rodney because John didn't bring him any. He went to an afternoon game at Turner Field and watched Smoltz strike out the Cubs' side in the ninth with the late afternoon sunshine slanting down over left field. By the time Rodney was finished with the geneticist, John was feeling lazy and relaxed and well fed, in a way he hadn't in years.
So the night before they were supposed to fly back to Denver, and from there drive up to Cheyenne Mountain, John was lying on their hotel bed, naked, with a beer between his thighs. Rodney was already back at his computer - one good orgasm wasn't enough to slow Rodney down - and John was trying to drag Rodney's attention back to him.
He wasn't really thinking when he said, "Hey, why don't we cash in our tickets and drive back to Colorado? We don't really have to be back until the day before we dial out, after all."
Rodney looked up from his laptop and said, "Oh, God, why do you think that's a good idea?"
"We could stop at Waffle House," John had said, and Rodney's eyes had gone glazed and happy.
John cashed in their plane tickets and rented a cherry red Mustang convertible; Rodney, attached to the phone in their hotel room to continue berating the geneticist (who still hadn't made up his mind), had taken one look at John's face when he'd gotten back with the car and said, "I swear, your dick was perfectly adequate when I fucked you this morning, you didn't need to prove anything."
John drove 90 miles an hour all the way to the Tennessee state line for that, just because he could.
(When they crossed the Georgia state line into Tennessee, John said, "Hey, Rodney, why's the school color of the University of Tennessee orange?"; Rodney, in his best long-suffering why-are-you-such-an-idiot voice, said, "I have no idea"; John said, "So you can go to the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday, and back to work on Monday morning"; Rodney said, "Is that supposed to be funny?")
Rodney, it turned out, was less of a terrible traveling companion than John's previous experience had suggested; after the first hour, when he clutched at the handle on the door like it would save him from certain death, he slumped down against the window and fell asleep, and John listened to a scratchy country station playing old Merle Haggard and Roger Miller tunes as the stars got brighter and the road got emptier.
Which is why they're in Jasper, Tennessee, at 3 a.m.; they hadn't left Atlanta until well after midnight, because Rodney had to be pried away from the high speed wireless like a dog from a postman's ass, and when he'd woken up, he'd demanded to be fed.
Rodney rejected Cracker Barrel, an all-night Taco Bell ("You think I'm riding in a car with you after you've eaten six pounds of Mexican food? No way, not even for a Nobel Prize."), and a greasy truck stop diner. Finally John had yanked them off I-24 and bumped into the potholed parking lot of the Waffle House, whose sign was missing letters and flashing "WAFLE USE" at the unsuspecting middle of the night travelers heading towards Memphis.
Rodney slammed the door and stomped off into the too-bright interior; Rodney was never a morning person, even for values of morning that equaled 3 a.m. Which is how John ended up with Rodney's coffee cup under his nose while three truckers, four bikers, two twenty-somethings, and a big-nosed, curiously familiar short order cook stared at them.
John smiles his best CO-pleasing smile and waves cheerfully at the rest of the restaurant while Rodney orders half the menu ("Extra large hashbrowns, scattered, smothered, covered, topped, diced, and capped; two orders of bacon; four eggs, over easy; a double waffle; and do you have any coffee mugs bigger than this one?"). John orders himself a burger and a bowl of grits and an order of hashbrowns - scattered, covered, and chunked, the same way he's ordered Waffle House hashbrowns in every Air Force and Marine Corps town in the South, all his life - and leans back against the booth to stare at Rodney making eyes at his coffee cup.
Rodney is still grumbling about the coffee and waving cigarette smoke away from his face when John slouches down, stretches his legs across the tiny space between the two benches and presses his knee against the inside of Rodney's thigh. It makes Rodney sit up a little straighter, his eyes go a little wider, and the coffee mug jerks in his hand, sending another trickle of bitter black liquid running down the inside of Rodney's wrist. Rodney heaves a great put-upon sigh and sets the cup down on the edge of the table, bringing his arm up to lick the drip of coffee off.
John squirms a little, cock half hard in his pants, and presses his calf against Rodney's. He almost rolls his eyes, because it's like the sight of the blinking yellow sign and the grimy cigarette burnt counter are waking up muscle memory he didn't know he had: the sight of a Waffle House immediately makes him 17 and watching Lucy Prentice eat hashbrowns across the table from him, hoping she'd let him slip a hand up her skirt in the backseat of his father's car later.
John never had a cherry red Mustang convertible parked outside the Waffle House in Cherry Point, though.
And the thought of the Mustang wakes John's dick up the rest of the way.
"Colonel," Rodney says through a mouthful of coffee, so it's kind of garbled and nowhere near menacing. He drops his voice to a whisper and at least Rodney has that much discretion. "Are you trying to feel me up in a Waffle House?"
"No?" John says hopefully, and stares pointedly in the direction of the familiar stranger at the grill in hopes of being saved by the imminent arrival of waffles and bacon. And hashbrowns.
"I cannot believe you get turned on in restaurants that represent the worst of the American South," Rodney says grumpily. The moon is rising, almost full; John can see it through the window behind Rodney's shoulder, huge and orange. Even after four years in the Pegasus Galaxy and only three trips home, John's still got a soft spot for their moon and their highways and their rental car.
"Hashbrowns, McKay," John says. "Waffles, Mr. I-Ordered-Half-The-Menu. Open 24 hours, anywhere in America. No red-blooded man in the world doesn't get a little hard at the thought of Waffle House."
"Well," Rodney says, because Rodney even at his best has no argument against waffles, and the waitress is sliding plates and plates and plates of steaming food on the table in front of them. "This coffee is terrible."
"You want more, hon?" the waitress says, swinging a coffee pot from two fingers, and Rodney looks up at her with an expression of joy and surprise usually reserved for John's blowjobs. "Guess that's a yes." She fills Rodney's cup up to the brim and leaves John's plate of hashbrowns teetering on the edge of the table.
Rodney falls on his food like John's been starving him for the last three days, just because he didn't bring Rodney any hotdogs two days ago. There's an amused snort from the direction of the counter, and John turns to see the cook grinning at them. John shrugs and smiles and bites into his own burger; it's good, as good as Waffle House burgers ever get, and whoever the guy is, he's clearly found his calling in tending grill in Jasper, Tennessee.
They eat quickly and linger anyway; Rodney keeps slurping down cup after cup of coffee and John flirts with the waitress, and it's not like they've got any place to be. John looks at the blinking lights of the Jasper Sleep Inn across the street and thinks that they could crash for a few hours, be up again to see the sun rise over the highway, but Rodney's hands are twitching against the table top. They could get a motel room, but they wouldn't get any sleep, and there's something about driving too fast down a highway in the middle of the night; it's almost as good as flying or fucking, if you ask John.
The waitress cuts off Rodney's coffee supply at quarter past 4, and John pays for their meal with his government credit-union issued credit card - credit card, he thinks, God, since when did Waffle House take credit cards - and the waitress says, "Hey, Colonel Sheppard, thanks for stopping by." The boy in the fatigues who's been slumping at the counter over a plate of fried eggs snaps up and out of his chair, straight to attention, and John smiles at him and says, "At ease, soldier. Don't stand on any ceremony for me, okay?"
Rodney snickers behind his hand, all the way out into the parking lot where the light is turning pink around the edges; sunrise is the same in every galaxy. He's leaning against the car and laughing, and John is fighting off the urge to snap "What?" even though he knows exactly what's so funny, when Rodney lifts his head up and pins John down with a single look.
Rodney wears a lot of expressions in Atlantis: frustration, contemplation, triumph, and terror, and determination, and exhaustion. But as long as they've been doing this whatever-they're-doing - John doesn't ask and Rodney's not exactly forthcoming on the subject of his emotions other than hunger, irritation and pain - John can count on his two hands the number of times he's seen Rodney's face pulled in a genuine smile, just because something's funny.
Most of them after sex, or not dying at the hands of the Wraith.
Rodney stands in the parking lot of the Waffle House and laughs until there are tears running down his cheeks, at the terror of what John knows Rodney will call a military grunt (as soon as he stops laughing) faced with an unexpected superior officer. Rodney's hair line is receding and John's going gray - and Caldwell, that jerk, won't let John requisition hair dye on the Daedalus's supply runs - and they both have a lot more wrinkles than they did four years ago. But in the middle of Tennessee, Rodney looks happy, and he looks at John.
John fishes the keys to the Mustang out of his pocket and says, "Hey, Rodney, catch."
Rodney's not really coordinated enough to catch a set of flying car keys while laughing like a hyena at the same time, but he manages; plucks the keys out of the air, chokes off another sob of laughter and looks at John. "Seriously?"
"Yeah," John says. "Go for it, if it'll make you happy." Rodney grins at him again, sun coming up behind him on the horizon, and that's that.
(Rodney shoves the car into reverse and the transmission groans; "You can drive stick shift, right?" John says; "Oh, shut up, Colonel," Rodney says; "Actually," John says, "that wasn't a joke, seriously, I'm not buying this car just because you made the clutch give out.")
They pull out of the parking lot - the transmission finally stops groaning - and onto the state highway that will take them I-24; 24 will take them most of the way to St. Louis, John can see the map in his head, and then across Missouri on I-70, and then Kansas, too, and all the way to Denver. Kansas is a wide state, and it does not have any Waffle Houses.
Rodney drives the way he still, after all this time, reluctantly pilots the puddlejumpers. He's competent, safe, but uninventive. Rodney doesn't speed and he doesn't push the car to its limits. John can feel the restrained power of the engine humming underneath him; it makes him feel anxious, too much energy caught up underneath his skin and nowhere to expend it.
The sun is starting to crack the horizon behind them when they hit Paducah. John doesn't remember falling asleep, but he must have, because Rodney's retuned the radio to something that sounds suspiciously like early White Snake and is humming along in a low voice. John would have argued about that if he'd been awake.
The sun is streaming over Rodney's shoulders, and in the pale orange spill, he looks younger than John knows they both are. The road is empty except for them; no one driving north from Paducah, Kentucky at 6 in the morning. They passed a state trooper about a mile ago, just as John was waking up and being grateful that Rodney wasn't speeding, and John knows highways well enough to know that there won't be another state trooper for at least a couple of miles, and probably not until after they hit the turnoff for I-70 outside of St. Louis in 5 minutes.
Rodney is humming along to Poison, of all things, when John slides his hand up onto Rodney's thigh, running his thumb along the crease of Rodney's hip. Every rose has its thorn, the radio wails, and John edges his hand further up and slides his fingers underneath Rodney's shirt, edging along to the button of Rodney's jeans. John pops the button free and shoves the zipper down, and Rodney finally snaps of out his hair metal induced trance and whips his head around to stare at John - whose eyes have never left the road in front of them, no matter what his hands have been doing.
"Eyes on the road, McKay," John says cheerfully, and shoves his hand inside Rodney's boxers, where Rodney's dick has gotten with the program way faster than Rodney's head has; it's half-hard and warm in John's palm when he twists his wrist to get a better angle on it. Rodney makes a strangled noise and John glances over. Rodney's got his eyes back on the road, maintaining speed just a couple of miles over the limit, but his hands are white-knuckled on the steering wheel.
"Think about driving," John says. "Don't think about this."
It's been years since John has done this; decades, even. And after he frees Rodney's cock from his pants, after he's twisted himself sideways between the backs of the seats and the gear shift, he thinks that clearly he was smaller then, or maybe cars were bigger, because he doesn't remember it being quite so cramped.
John leans down, wedges himself between the steering wheel and Rodney's stomach, the gear shift and the useless storage compartment between the seats, and swallows Rodney's cock down in one swift motion. He knows that speed is of the essence, because otherwise he'd have to explain to the state troopers and the military and the entire Stargate Program exactly how Rodney managed to lose that piece of his anatomy in a fiery car wreck.
He pulls his mouth off Rodney's cock - Rodney's breathing is heavy in the air, louder even than the Def Leppard on the radio - and licks his palm, wrapping his hand around the base of Rodney's dick before he goes back down. John gets three good strokes in, runs his tongue underneath the head of Rodney's cock, and Rodney comes, wheezing, "Oh God, John." It's hard to swallow tangled around Rodney and the Mustang like this, and John ends up with come smeared all over his mouth and his chin before he can even think about it.
The car shudders to a stop on the shoulder, bumping over gravel and broken glass, and Rodney finally manages to down shift into neutral - smacking John in the neck with his elbow all the way - and cut the engine. John still has his face in Rodney's lap, cheek resting on one thigh, and Rodney drops his forehead against the steering wheel. He'd be staring down at John except that he's got his eyes closed, and it's quiet and still in the car for a long moment.
Finally Rodney opens his eyes and looks down at John and grins. "Thank you," he says. "And by the way, I missed the turnoff for I-70 about half a mile ago, which is so totally and completely your fault."
Then he pulls John up and licks his face clean, licks his way into John's mouth, and kisses John until John can't breathe. When Rodney pulls away, he reaches one hand out and tunes the radio station back to a channel playing Merle Haggard. Rodney says, "When we get back to Atlantis, we're taking one of the jumpers out. You can drive," and grins at John again, wicked mouth and teasing eyes.
John just grins back.
author's notes: h. did the beta. j. told me the joke about the university of tennessee. elvis costello provided the title, from "crimes of paris". the route they take from atlanta to st. louis is actually the best one, but the distances have been fudged for the sake of the porn. and the grill man in the waffle house is ... well, either you know or you don't, and if you don't, well. the setup's not worth the punchline, i promise.