Prompt: Moonstruck - A widowed Brooklyn bookkeeper is torn between her fiancé and his brother.
Rating: PG-13, mostly for adult language
Length: 6900 words
Summary: A widowed John Sheppard comes to ask Rodney McKay to attend a wedding – John's marrying Rodney's spendthrift sister Jeannie!
Author's Notes: At the end of the fic
Written (and turned in late, sorry!) for the reel_sga Romantic Comedy Movie Challenge.
"There's a John Sheppard to see you," Miko announced.
"Don't know him, send him away," Rodney McKay snapped to his assistant. Miko was more than an assistant, he relied on her to make sure he got to meetings he needed to attend, remembered birthdays and other personal events for his senior staff, and made sure he ate regularly and got enough coffee. She also reminded him regularly she wasn't paid enough but they both knew she really was and that she enjoyed the work.
As he was about to hang up the phone, Miko continued, "He says your sister sent him."
Rodney swung his chair around and looked at the wall in back of his desk not seeing the plaques and diplomas displayed there like the trophies they were. He did not need this right now, he had several projects that needed his personal attention, the Pegasus project they were just awarded needed as much start up work as he had suspected it would and anything Jeannie touched always took too much of his time. Fuck.
"What shall I tell him?" Miko asked after a minute of silence. She was also good at giving him room to think.
With a sigh, Rodney told her, "Send him in, I guess. Call me in ten minutes if he's still here."
"Got it," Miko replied. Rodney knew he could count on Miko to call in exactly ten minutes to rescue him from whatever mess Jeannie had caused this time. He swung back around to face the door on the other end of the room.
The door to the office opened, and Miko announced, "John Sheppard to see you."
"Got it," Rodney said, grateful that Miko had repeated the name so he would have it. He didn't get up from the desk and waved at her to send him in.
From behind Miko appeared a tall, slender man who might actually be skinny, Rodney thought, if his clothes fit him better. The oversized shirt over a suspicious looking black t-shirt and baggy chinos probably made the man look thinner than he actually was. Semi-disheveled dark hair, curling at the collar of the shirt and flopping almost into eyes that sat just behind heavy -- and ugly -- glasses, completed the picture. Rodney mentally rolled his eyes but asked politely, "Mr. Sheppard, what can I do for you?"
The man stood on the other side of the desk, looking Rodney up and down speculatively. "You don't look much like Jeannie," John said.
"Is that important?" Rodney snapped.
"No, I guess not," John drawled, sitting down without waiting for an invitation that wasn't coming anyway in the chair nearest the desk.
"What can I do for you?" Rodney repeated firmly. This... person... was starting to be annoying. "And how do I know Jeannie sent you?"
John looked back at him, and then grinned. "Well, you'll have to check with Jeannie at some point but since she's in Hawaii with your grandmother Nathalie at the moment, you'll have to call her there. The time zones means it's still early morning there, but call her if you want."
"What the fuck is Jeannie doing in Hawaii?" Rodney demanded.
John shrugged. "She told me her grandmother was dying and needed Jeannie to be with her," John answered evenly. "She left Monday morning and has been there all week."
Rodney barked a laugh. "That evil woman has been dying for ten years," Rodney told him, gleefully. "She gets a hangnail and calls Jeannie to come running." Being Friday, Jeannie has been there all week.
"Dunno," John said, rubbing the back of his neck. "All I know is what your sister told me."
Rodney's eyes narrowed. "So, why are you here?"
"Jeannie asked if I would stop by to ask you to the wedding," John replied looking into his eyes. Rodney wished he would take off the glasses so he could really see into those -- green? hazel? -- eyes.
As the words percolated through his brain, Rodney stilled. "Wedding? What wedding?"
"Jeannie and I are getting married," John informed him calmly. "She said you weren't getting along well and would I ask you. We want you to come to the wedding. It would mean a lot to her."
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. It wasn't until he saw the look on John's face that he realized he had said that aloud. "Umm... okay, not sorry," Rodney decided. He looked John carefully and said, "She doesn't have any money of her own, no matter what she may have told you."
That shrug again. "Doesn't matter. I have some savings and a job," John told him, "we'll manage."
"Bah! Manage? Jeannie doesn't know how to manage money," Rodney replied bitterly, "all she knows how to do is spend it."
"She seems to do okay for herself," John said.
"Yeah, on other people's money and what Nathalie will dole out to her," Rodney replied. As he drummed his fingers on the desk, the phone rang. "What?" he growled into the receiver.
"Ten minutes," Miko told him.
"Already? Okay, we're not done here," Rodney decided. "I need some food, we're going to the apartment." Even though it was only mid-morning, he could feel the edginess that told him he had better eat something substantive soon or risk his hypoglycemia kicking in.
"You have appointments..." Miko warned him.
"Let Radek and Laura take care of them," Rodney declared. "They need to earn their salaries today, I over pay them anyway. Tell Radek to start on the Pegasus project and Laura can take the others."
John laughed, a slightly braying sound that somehow didn't sound too out of place. "You're too much," he said.
"Come on," Rodney said standing up. "Let's go."
"Where?" John asked, not moving.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "I need to eat regularly or I get even crankier. I have an apartment upstairs and I need to get out of here."
"All you had to do was ask nicely," John replied, getting up.
Rodney led the way out a back door of the office to a private elevator. "Swanky," John commented.
"Secure," Rodney responded.
"That, too," John said with a smile. A real one, this time.
Oh, fuck. That smile lit up his whole face and Rodney could understand why Jeannie wanted to marry this man. He mostly didn't look like much, but this smile illuminated his face and made him beautiful. Rodney swallowed. Fortunately for him, the elevator arrived at the penthouse before he could say or do anything too stupid.
John followed him into the living room and looked around. "Nice digs," he commented.
"It's ok," Rodney admitted. "Had one decorator who tried to sell me on glass and white carpets, fired her ass. The next one listened to what I wanted and it turned out decent." Rodney looked at the cool greens and bright blues as John would be seeing them for the first time. It was elegant yet comfortable, even so, Rodney didn't spend a lot of time here.
By habit, Rodney kicked off his shoes just inside the entrance. He liked walking around in his stocking feet when he could. Seeing John look at him he waved, "Make yourself comfortable," and was faintly relieved when John toed off his sneakers.
Rodney used the studio apartment for keeping relatively sane and healthy when his business tried to derail both. Housekeepers kept the place ready and cleaned up after him when he did use it, mostly for sleeping a couple hours at a time but sometimes ate there when he knew he needed to eat but didn't want to take the time to order out from the couple of places that would actually deliver the food the way he ordered it. Since he hadn't been up here in a couple of days, he knew it would be presentable enough to bring John up. And how was it automatically "John" in his head he wondered?
The apartment had been storage space when Rodney bought the building. He had it renovated to an oversized studio apartment, wanting the space to remain as open as possible. A sitting area with a large-screen television surrounded by obvious audio equipment was directly in front of them and a king-size bed was off to the right -- he was usually the only one there and separate rooms would have made the space too claustrophobic. The door to the bathroom which was located behind the bedroom space was closed at the moment.
"Kitchen's this way," Rodney pointed to the full size kitchen to the left of the entry and led the way. He felt John's eyes on him as he followed -- there was a tingling on the back of his neck that told him John was staring. "Sit at the counter while I start some coffee."
"Had enough coffee," John responded. "Got any soda, or ice tea?"
Rodney turned and looked, "You look like a beer man."
John stared back blandly. "Too early in the day, but don't drink alcohol. Brings me bad luck," he said.
"Drinking brings you bad luck?" Rodney asked incredulous.
John gave a little shrug. "I have bad luck, alcohol makes it worse," he elaborated.
"You have got to be kidding me!" Rodney exclaimed.
John flushed and Rodney could see him shut down, speaking without emotion. "Was out ordering stuff for a party Nancy and I were going to have. You know, friends and family over to the house. Well, I was in the liquor store when all hell broke loose. It was.... when the Towers went down... I lost Nancy and my business that day."
Rodney swallowed. "I.... sorry, I didn't know." But everyone knew someone who had lost family that day.
John's laugh was bitter this time. "The worst part is that I didn't lose her to the Towers, she got hit by a bus in Brooklyn as she was going to work and she was already dead by the time the planes hit. I was trying to get to her but couldn't get off the island. She died before I could get there," John recounted baldly. "An accidental death in Brooklyn never happened as far as anyone else was concerned. Just bad luck to die on that day."
"And your business?" Rodney had to ask, he never did know when to stop.
"That I did lose to the Towers. Lost some of my records -- the backups weren't as complete as the support guys claimed they were -- and a couple of employees," John told him. "Work out of the house on my own now."
"You said you have a job," Rodney recalled, "what exactly do you do?"
John hesitated, then said, "I'm a bookkeeper. Do some of the books for my dad's business. Momma's brother has a deli that I do some of the books for, too. Occasionally I do taxes when I'm looking to keep busy but not too much. Just for the family, mostly."
"And you think that'll be enough to keep Jeannie happy?" Rodney scoffed. "Ha! You have a big surprise coming."
"It's okay," John maintained. "Jeannie's met my family and they adore her."
Rodney's laugh was bitter. "Oh, Jeannie knows how to make a good impression, alright. She's pretty and polite and sweet as can be. But when the money runs out? She's out of there." Rodney sighed. "I love my sister and all, I've just stopped enabling her. I can't do that anymore." Rodney turned to look in the refrigerator, "I have root beer, if that's okay with you."
"Sure," John agreed. Rodney took out a can and put a glass on the counter. He wasn't surprised when John ignored the glass and took a swallow from the can. The act of tilting his head back revealed that John had a long, delicate neck and Rodney found himself unconsciously licking his lips.
Focus, Rodney said to himself. "Food. Right. I have..." He peered into the refrigerator again. "Not much." He moved to the large free-standing freezer. "Anything special you'd like?"
John got up and moved close to Rodney to peer into the freezer. Rodney could feel the heat radiating from John's body as John looked into the freezer, fully stocked with frozen dinners.
"Don't be silly, I can do better than that," John said. "Lots to eat. Want me to fix you something?"
Rodney squawked, "You can make a meal from..." he waved a hand at the nearly empty refrigerator, "that?"
John was opening cupboards and taking things Rodney didn't even know he had out and putting them on the counter top. He looked into the freezer and selected a couple of the frozen dinners and set them on the counter. "Sit. There," John said firmly and pointed to where he had been sitting a few moments ago. "You need a keeper."
Rodney sat, bewildered. He watch John root through the kitchen for utensils and knives and put together the oddest combination of foods. "No citrus," Rodney yelped suddenly. John looked up. "Deathly allergic," Rodney explained. "Lemons are the worst but any citrus is bad for me."
"Like you'd keep something that could harm you in your own kitchen," John deadpanned. "Okay, no citrus."
Rodney watched, fascinated as John used a saucepan for boiling water and pasta.
"What sorts of things do you watch on that TV?" John asked.
"Movies, mostly," Rodney replied. "Original Star Trek, Babylon 5, lots of things I've seen. Mostly to fall asleep in front of."
"Figured you for a Trekker," John stated as he chopped some stuff, cooked parts of the frozen dinners in a fry pan, and stirred something else in a saucepan.
"Not so much anymore," Rodney defended. "Just.... it's comforting."
John grinned, "What's the best bad movie?"
"The Fifth Element," Rodney shot back.
"That is a great bad movie," John answered. "Have you seen Transformers?"
"Optimus Prime!" Rodney enthused. "You're right, that was spectacularly bad."
"The Bumblebee Camaro was pretty cool, though," John offered.
"Fast cars, why doesn't that surprise me?" Rodney teased.
"I like football, things that go more than 200 miles per hour and Ferris wheels," John put in. "Now you know all about me."
Oh, there's lots more to you than that, Rodney thought to himself as he watched the other man work in fascination. There was something unconsciously sensual about how he worked with food. The conversation added to the growing awareness Rodney had of John.
"Thought I saw.... yes..... bread," John muttered mostly to himself. He divided everything up on two plates and slid one in front of Rodney. "Eat." He came around the counter and sat next to Rodney at the bar.
"What is it?" Rodney asked suspiciously.
John smiled that smile -- the one that Rodney knew he'd do anything for. "Glorified chicken and pasta thing, try it," John explained. "Dig in while it's hot."
Rodney took a taste. "Oh, my, god, this is wonderful," he moaned gratefully through a mouthful of food. It was the best meal he had in days. Before he knew it, he was mopping up the last of the sauce with the bread and washing it down with coffee that had appeared at some point. "Oh, god. I'm ruined," Rodney groaned. "How did you do that?"
John grinned, "Momma taught me to cook before I even went to school. Uncle Steve, the one who owns the deli, is her brother, so it's a family thing." He leaned over the counter and brushed a thumb across Rodney's bottom lip. "You missed some," he murmured.
The touch was electrifying. There was an increase in the tension between him and John that went beyond explanation -- a connection that suddenly went deeper than he ever would have imagined. Rodney reached up and grasped John's wrist to stop him from taking his hand away. He turned his face into the palm of the warm hand and pressed a kiss into it. Rodney leaned in so that he could reach.... so he could touch... more..... He felt John's arm around his waist, drawing their bodies together.
"Bed," Rodney moaned into John's mouth. "Just.... there....." He steered them across the room toward the bed. It wasn't that large of an apartment and they shed clothes with each step so that by the time they fell on the bed they were mostly naked.
"I'm not so sure this was a good idea," John murmured into Rodney's hair some time later.
Rodney had never considered himself a cuddler, but there was something... comforting... about being held by John and half laying on top of the other man. "Considering you're supposed to be marrying my sister, I guess not," Rodney agreed without thought. He felt John stiffen. "Don't...." Don't go....
"I.... I need to use the bathroom," John stuttered. He crawled out from under Rodney and walked naked into the adjoining room. Rodney could hear the water running and several long minutes of silence. John came out and walked to the edge of the bed. It gave Rodney a chance to see the sleek body that had been hidden under the baggy clothes, a body he was itching to get his hands on again but he held still.
"I should go," John stated, reaching for his clothes.
Rodney scrambled out of the bed, reaching for his own clothes. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to..... I don't usually..." Rodney babbled. He stopped. "Come with me to the opera. Tonight." Where did that come from? He realized he didn't want John to walk out and not see him again.
John turned to look and Rodney could see him considering.
Rodney turned to the voice and stared. He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. This.... this couldn't be John....... He was so fucked. He suppressed a moan.
John was gorgeous. He had found the time to get a haircut that made his hair much shorter -- the straggling hair on the collar was gone and neatened up, the bangs shortened, and the rest shaped up, although now it stood up haphazardly on the top of his head, not spiked but ... just.... standing there like it had a mind of its own. Rodney knew how soft it was and it made him want to run his hands through it right now. The ugly glasses were also gone and stylish wire frames let Rodney see the hazel eyes that seemed to light up at seeing Rodney. Rodney didn't know fashion but he knew good fitting clothes and the tux fit John like a second skin. Gone were the baggy clothes from earlier.... he knew John was good looking naked, but this..... The effect was devastating....
Uncertainty crept into John's voice, "It's okay, isn't it?"
Somehow that vulnerability snapped Rodney's brain back into action, "What are you, fourteen? Of course it looks good. Now let's get you inside before someone propositions you!"
John grinned at him and looked up and down critically. "You clean up pretty well yourself," John told him.
"Oh, please. Jeannie made me buy this ages ago for some event she made me go to, so I wear it to get my money's worth," Rodney snapped back. "And you can't tell me you got that off the rack."
John looked down at the tux, "Momma has some friends who do tailoring for her." He shrugged. "They were nice enough to do this for me."
"Well, they do nice work," Rodney allowed. "Let's go in?" He led the way to the entrance of the Metropolitan Opera House.
As they settled into the seats in the box Rodney had, John commented, "Great seats."
"One of the things I indulge myself in," Rodney admitted. "Between my allergies and the general crowd, I can't stand sitting in with the auditorium. Better lines of sight here, anyway."
"La Bohème is one of my favorites," John admitted. "It's nice to go with someone who appreciates the music."
"Took a date once that said at the end how impressed she was that Mimi could get up from her deathbed and still sing," Rodney shook his head. "She got it -- but she didn't."
John laughed at that. "Okay, you have me beat there," he replied. "I haven't seen Angela Gheorghiu as Mimi yet, but I was fortunate to see Rosemary Musoleno in Marseille years ago."
Rodney felt his eyes go wide. "How did you get tickets to that? I was going on a business trip then and tried and no one could get me in. The best I could do was get tickets to a Zurich performance, but the dates just didn't work."
"Got lucky, I guess," John said. "I was in France for a couple of months on business at that point, before I got married, and a friend of a friend had an extra ticket at the last minute."
Rodney hummed, "Good friend."
"Yeah, they were," John allowed.
Just then the lights went down to signal the start of the opera and they settled into their seats. All through the first act, Rodney was acutely aware of the man next to him. John was focused on the music and the singers and Rodney could see him follow the story. Thank god he wasn't a sing-along type, Rodney thought at one point. People who thought they could sing along with the soloists were the worst, interfering with the music and ruining the entire night, as far as Rodney was concerned.
They sat out the rush at intermission, an usher that Rodney had tipped before the performance started brought them bottled water so they didn't have to deal with the crowd. At the end of the performance they found themselves at the end of the departing audience, allowing most of the rest of the theatre-goers to empty out ahead of them. Talking about the performance and comparing the sopranos of various productions they had seen over the years was exhilarating to Rodney. He had never found anyone -- well, anyone who would put up with him -- who not only had the interest but had any depth of knowledge about opera the way John did. They didn't agree about any number of things from the casting of some of the singers to the staging to the strength of the orchestra, but the discussion never waned.
"Where are we going?" John asked suddenly, stopping.
Rodney looked up. He hadn't been paying attention to where they were walking, he had been distracted by the conversation they had been having. "Umm..," Rodney swallowed. "My place is a couple of blocks from here." He took John's hand, "Come back with me."
John looked down at their joined hands and then into Rodney's eyes. "I shouldn't." Rodney could see the debate in John's eyes.
Not letting go, Rodney said softly, "Please."
A moment's hesitation made Rodney's heart beat faster but John just nodded. They walked hand-in-hand in silence the two blocks to the apartment. Rodney fumbled for his swipe card, not wanting to let go of John, almost afraid he would bolt if they separated.
"Installed the security myself," Rodney offered. "Well, my company did, but I designed it. We couldn't keep a doorman for any length of time and it was easier to do the electronic security than anything else."
"We?" John asked, curiosity in his voice.
Rodney nodded. "I... well... the company.... own the building. A management company does all the work."
John laughed, "I don't see you as a landlord."
"No," Rodney shook his head. "I know better than that." He led the way to the elevator and they rode in silence. The elevator opened to a small lobby with a single door.
"The entire floor?" John asked.
Rodney shrugged. "It was empty when I was looking to move in... never had the ambition to move after I got in." The swipe card got him into the apartment.
Rodney had the same decorator who decorated the apartment at the office also do this apartment. He didn't have much company but Jeannie had nagged at the 'frat boy who never grew up' look that the apartment had for the first few years. It was worth the cost and the nuisance of redecorating to shut Jeannie up, he had figured.
"This way," Rodney tugged at John's hand.
John tugged back harder until he had Rodney within reach. He put his free arm around Rodney and drew him in for a soft kiss. Rodney felt himself relaxing against John, allowing the other man to plunder his mouth with soft kisses until he was lost in the sensation.
Rodney woke to see John standing naked in the window, bathed in moonlight. The pale light accentuated the sleek body making it look like marble... only the faint stirring of breath showed that he wasn't a statue. The beauty of the other man made Rodney wonder again what John saw in him.
Crawling out of bed, Rodney moved behind John, put his hands around the other man's waist and chin on his shoulder to peer out the window. "What you looking at?" Rodney asked.
"The full moon," John replied, placing a hand to cover Rodney's.
"La bella luna," Rodney murmured.
John looked down that their intertwined fingers and said softly. "I never slept with Jeannie..."
Rodney lay a kiss on John's shoulder. "The selfish part of me is glad," he admitted. "But it doesn't matter."
"It does to me..." John whispered. "You are.... unexpected ... in my life."
Rodney laughed, "The full moon is said to be for lovers.... come back to bed....." He tugged on John's hand.
When Rodney woke to the early daylight, he immediately knew John had left. He lay back on the rumpled sheets and sighed. He really didn't want to get up, even though it was only Saturday and he hadn't taken a Saturday off since... since he didn't know when. Maybe today... he'd just lie here for a while and enjoy the afterglow....
After about five minutes, he was bored to tears. He decided he might as well go in and see what kind of a mess Laura and Radek had created. He threw off the sheets and padded to the bathroom. He stopped when he saw the note hanging on the mirror...
Call me.... 212-555-4747..... JS
He stared at the mirror. JS..... JS...... JS....... Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. His good mood evaporated as the initials percolated through his memory.... it couldn't be.... his heart sunk....
"Miko?" he bellowed into the phone. "Yes, I...well, no I don't know what time it is. I need you....." Rodney took a deep breath and slowed down. "Okay, yes, I owe you another vacation day. You never take any anyway," Rodney granted. "Okay, I need you to track something down for me..."
An hour later, Rodney stood in front of an upscale brownstone at the address in Brooklyn Miko had found for him, and hesitated. He wanted -- so much -- and yet he was afraid of how badly this would turn out. He took a deep breath, climbed the stairs to the porch and pressed the doorbell.
He didn't have to wonder if he was in the right place when he saw the woman who answered the door, "Mrs. Sheppard?" John had her eyes.
She nodded politely and answered, "May I help you?"
"Sorry... I know it's early, but... I'm.... I'm a friend of John's," he stuttered. "Is he home?"
She looked him up and down for a moment and then smiled John's smile at him. "Yes, he is. Come in, I was just making breakfast." She opened the door and waved him in. "I'll let John know you're here." She started to walk away and then turned back and grinned, "You have a love bite." She pointed to his neck. "There." She left him staring after her.
Rodney turned to the mirror in the hall and was equally appalled and fascinated to see the red mark on his neck. He had been so mesmerized by the note on his mirror, that he hadn't seen himself at all. He touched it gently and closed his eyes trying to remember....
"Rodney!" John's voice startled him. "I didn't expect you here."
"You gave me a hickey!" he hissed.
John put a hand on his shoulder, drew him in for a brief kiss and murmured, "You gave me one too, but not anywhere I'm going to show Momma."
Rodney had to draw on his resolve not to just melt into the kiss. "I.... You....." Deep breath. "We have to talk," he gasped out.
John drew back and must have seen the look in Rodney's eyes. He sighed. "In the living room. We'll have some privacy there." He moved away and Rodney tried not to miss the warmth.
Rodney wasn't normally aware of such things but he couldn't miss seeing the antique furniture and paintings that he suspected were real. The living room looked comfortable and lived in, a look that took time and family... all the things Rodney had never had.
"What did you need to talk about?" John asked warily, arms crossed.
Rodney looked at the handsome man in front of him, "I don't know how I missed it. I've seen your picture in too many places. You're JS Financials." One of the most successful independent financial advisement firms in New York. If not in the country. It - John - only had a few clients but they were all wealthy, and getting wealthier listening to John. Rumor was that John also took his own advice and had more money than most of his clients. "Bookkeeper, my ass," he said with some satisfaction.
John looked down at the carpet and rubbed one hand on the back of his neck as his ears reddened. If it weren't so endearing, Rodney would be furious.
"Is it really important?" John asked softly, looking up wide eyed. Rodney was struck by the pain there... pain that he suddenly realized he had caused.
What was important, he realized, was that John was standing across the room from him, alone and looking lost. If Rodney had turned and left, John wouldn't follow him --and he'd be throwing away something infinitely precious and never get a second chance at it. "No, I guess it's not," he replied, moving to close the distance between them. "Sorry. Bad habit and... just sorry," he said into John's shoulder as he put his arms around John's waist, burrowing in.
John's arms wrapped around Rodney and held on. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I've just been hiding from the press and.... everyone.... for so long that I forgot how it looks sometimes," John whispered, running a hand up and down Rodney's back.
"Breakfast!" came the call from the kitchen.
"Be there in a second, momma," John called back.
Rodney raised his head. "You live with your parents?" he asked incredulously.
John shrugged. "Didn't have anywhere else to be." He paused and went on, "Was thinking about moving out, though."
"Recent thoughts?" Rodney asked with a smile.
"Very recent," John replied, leaning in for a kiss.
"Invite your friend for breakfast," Mrs. Sheppard called.
Rodney groaned. "I'm not good at this," he warned.
"It's breakfast, how bad can it be?" John teased.
"It's your mother," Rodney moaned.
"Ummm.... about that......" John started.
"What?" Rodney asked warily.
"Dad, too," John stated. "And it's Saturday, so Uncle Steve and Aunt Liz will show up any minute. They live next door."
"Oh, shoot me now," Rodney muttered.
"You'll be fine," John soothed.
"I'm not responsible if they disown you because of me," Rodney warned.
John leaned in for another kiss, "I know where the bodies are buried," he laughed, "and they'll love you."
"Momma, this is Rodney McKay, Jeannie's brother," John introduced them in the oversized kitchen. "Rodney, this is my momma, Katherine."
"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Sheppard," Rodney said, reaching out to shake her hand.
He was surprised when she wrapped her arms around him for a hug and said, "Welcome. I can tell you're a good friend to my Johnny and you're always welcome here. Now eat."
Rodney figured the kissing and hugging had disconnected his brain because he found himself being seated at the kitchen table and a bowl of oatmeal placed in front of him. He looked up at John, "Citrus?"
John looked at what was on the table, and shook his head, "Nope. You're safe with what's here." He looked up at his mother, "Rodney has a citrus allergy, don't serve the coffee cake."
Katherine looked curiously at Rodney, but only nodded her head, "Not a problem. You eat now."
"Thank you," he said reflexively. He saw John pouring milk on his and asked, "Is there any brown sugar?"
"Of course," Katherine Sheppard replied, handing him a bowl. "Coffee?"
"Yes, please," Rodney went with the flow. He put sugar on the oatmeal and then a splash of milk. "Now I know John got his cooking skill from you. This is delicious," he had to admit. How anyone made plain oatmeal taste like heaven, he didn't know.
When she beamed at him, he knew it was the right thing to say.
"McKay." A flat voice at the door.
"Patrick," Rodney answered.
"What are you doing here?"
"Umm.... eating breakfast?" he replied and winced. Patrick Sheppard wasn't known for his sense of humor but surprised Rodney by laughing and sitting at the table.
"Didn't know you knew John," Patrick Sheppard said.
"We... ummm.... met recently," Rodney babbled not sure what to admit. He never put the ‘Sheppard' names together when John was in his office yesterday – only yesterday? – and his focus on discovering John's business this morning made him forget that he would know John's father. Some genius he was.
"Rodney is Jeannie's brother," John put in. "Jeannie sent me to invite him to the wedding and I didn't know who he was until later."
Rodney dropped his spoon. "I forgot. Jeannie!"
"Jeannie was here last night looking for you, John," Katherine Sheppard put in. "I told her I didn't know where you were and to come back this morning."
A knock on the door and they could hear someone walking in. "Hello?" a female voice called.
"We started without you," Mrs. Sheppard called. "Come on back."
Rodney looked up and felt himself pale.
"McKay." Another flat voice, this time with a hint of a question in it.
"Caldwell," Rodney acknowledged.
"How is it you know my entire family and we just met?" John whined, wriggling in his chair.
"Well, your dad and I are pretty much competitors and our paths have crossed recently," Rodney started.
"He stole the Pegasus project out from under me," Patrick protested.
"I didn't steal it, you..." Rodney stopped his automatic retort at a nudge from John. "Okay, not going there now. Your Uncle Steve's employees didn't understand the importance of knowing what the ingredients of their sandwich spreads are when asked since I almost died in his deli one day." It was Rodney's turn to nudge John, "He picked up the hospital bill and let me yell at the kid who made up an answer to my question when he didn't know." Rodney grinned. "That was fun," he allowed.
"You never met Elizabeth, did you?" Steven asked, indicating the woman with him. "Rodney is the fellow with the citrus allergy I was telling you about."
She nodded, "Glad you're ok. I didn't know you were a friend of John's."
"We... umm... met recently," Rodney stuttered.
"Jeannie's brother," John put in.
"Ah! Lovely girl," Elizabeth answered. "All wrong for our Johnny, but a nice girl. No offense to you. But nice to meet you." She looked critically at John, "You look better, you know. I can finally stop nagging you about a haircut."
Rodney perked up at the unexpected ally, but just then the doorbell rang. "This might be Jeannie," John's mother announced. She got up to answer the door.
John's hand on his thigh prevented Rodney from moving or saying anything. The warm hand stopped Rodney from thinking and he suspected his brain shut down completely as it moved up toward his groin and he became instantly hard. He hoped he wasn't going to have to stand up any time soon.
"Rodney! What are you doing here?" Jeannie asked in surprise as she walked in the door.
"Eating breakfast," John answered. Rodney rolled his eyes.
"John, you cut your hair!" Jeannie exclaimed. "And you have new glasses! It looks so nice!"
"Thank you," John replied blandly.
"John, I need to talk to you. Can we go somewhere... more private?" Jeannie asked looking around at the full kitchen. Uncle Steve and Aunt Liz hadn't sat down yet and were milling about the room.
John stood and Rodney missed the warm touch on his leg. John moved closer to the doorway and stopped. "I suspect anything you need to say, you can say in front of my family," John stated.
She looked at him, then around the room and sighed, giving in to the inevitable. "John.... There's been a miracle! Grandmother Nathalie is going to live!"
"Evil woman is probably going to live forever," Rodney muttered. He almost yelped when John's mother kicked him under the table. Rodney risked a glance but she wasn't giving anything else away. Rodney suspected that maybe Jeannie wasn't quite as adored by John's family as John thought.
"But..." John drawled when Jeannie didn't continue.
"It was a miracle! One minute she was dying and when I promised her I would not marry you she was able to get out of bed and make dinner!" Jeannie exclaimed. "I've never seen anything like it! She was so afraid your bad luck would rub off on me."
Rodney swallowed his instinctive reply when he felt a warning tap under the table.
"So we have to call the engagement off," John replied in a voice so horridly neutral that it made Rodney shiver. He hoped he never did anything to have John use that tone toward him.
"I'm so sorry," Jeannie said sadly, casting down her eyes and wringing her hands artfully.
John looked at her carefully. "Okay," he said briskly. "No problem." He moved back to his seat next to Rodney. "You can keep the ring," he told her.
Rodney wasn't surprised to see a gleam of satisfaction in Jeannie's eyes before she protested, "No, I couldn't...."
"I insist," John said gently. "I won't be needing it for anything else."
"Join us for breakfast?" Mrs. Sheppard asked.
"I already had tea at the house..." Jeannie started prettily.
"Sit and eat," Katherine said. "Now that Rodney's here, you might as well join us."
With settling Steve and Liz also around the table, Jeannie ended up across the table from Rodney, "How have you been?"
"I've been worse," Rodney answered. He put a hand on John's leg and said, "A lot worse."
"I see John went to ask you to the wedding," Jeannie said. She looked at John, "Sorry that I wasted your time."
"Umm... about that," Rodney started. Before he could stop himself, he said, "Maybe I can return the favor and invite you to my wedding." He felt John go still under his hand.
"Rodney?" John asked cautiously.
"I'm Canadian, it's legal there if you didn't know," Rodney turned to face John. "If you want, that is," he said shyly.
"John? Do you love this man?" Mrs. Sheppard asked into the silence that followed.
Without breaking eye contact with Rodney, he smiled that smile, "Yea, momma, I do." He leaned in for a kiss.
"Ah! You'll drive each other crazy!" Katherine Sheppard predicted but with a smile on her face.
"This calls for champagne!" Aunt Liz proposed.
Some efficient bustling found them all in the living room with champagne flutes in their hands. Rodney was blushing furiously when Katherine proposed a toast to "John and Rodney, may they always be happy together."
As he watched John take a drink, Rodney had to ask, "What about... you know... The bad luck thing?"
John's eyes danced merrily, "I think my luck has changed, thanks to you." He leaned in for a long kiss that promised more and only came up for air when his mother exclaimed with a laugh, "John!"
Breakfast turned into brunch as soup and sandwiches appeared by magic. Rodney looked up hopefully when Katherine asked, "Cake?" and he heard John laugh softly in the background.
As she ate, sipping more champagne, Jeannie whispered furiously to Rodney, "This is Cristal! What makes you so special?"
Rodney knew John overheard when he leaned in to say, "He loves me." Not his family, not the promise of money – and won't Jeannie be pissed when she figures that one out, Rodney thought to himself – and not the things that make up John's life. John put an arm possessively around Rodney's waist and Rodney leaned back automatically.
Jeannie had the grace to blush. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"Nathalie will take care of you," Rodney had to give Jeannie that much. Even if he had to go to Hawaii and make sure of that himself. John would know how to dole out Nathalie's money when she was gone to keep Jeannie from spending it all in the first year.
Rodney placed a hand over John's on his waist and turned his head for another kiss. "The moon's still full tonight," he said softly.
"It is, isn't it?" John grinned.
Author's Note: I knew I wouldn't be able to do justice to all the lovely sub-plots in the movie and it struck me that telling the story from the Nicholas Cage side of the story would help me there... of course John has the Cher part -- that was a given right from the beginning *grin*... And I do adore Jeannie, she's not bad here as much as mis-guided.
Many thanks to fenchurch1 for the beta in the middle. She never did see the ending or the tinkering I did after so any remaining problems are my own. And I did learn how to spell Grandmother Nathalie's name correctly!