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February 2008

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Radek is love

audreyscastle in thebarsga

We've Only Just Begun, 1/2

Hey, all, back with another segment of The Bar AU.  Pull up a stool, have John pour you a drink; it's date night.  Yes, I finally got around to writing Rodney and Radek's first date.  Consider it retroactive, as it takes place right after "The Bar" (the intro story) but before any of the others.  No need to read The Bar first, though author's pride makes me encourage it.  Just remember, it's AU, and you can find the info on the set-up in the intro post or on the comm info page.  That said...bring on the fic.

Title: We've Only Just Begun
Author: Audrey Lynne
Rating: PG-13 because Rodney lives in New York here and he swears frequently. :)
Pairing: Rodney/Radek
Summary: Rodney and Radek go on a date.  Their first.  If you can't immediately think of three things that could go wrong, you don't know these characters very well.  :)

We've Only Just Begun

By Audrey Lynne

 

It didn't matter that he was over thirty; it didn't matter that he'd once been projected to be "the future of Canadian physics research" by one of his university professors.  It didn't matter that he was a musician by choice now, playing piano at a Manhattan bar and he loved it.  No, it meant nothing that he was completely comfortable with himself and his choices in life, because when it came to first dates, Rodney McKay might as well have been a pimple-faced teenager again.   Well, not always.  When it was the "I'm taking you on a date so we can have sex later" kind of encounter he got down in Greenwich Village sometimes, then not so much.  When it was a date with someone he actually liked and wanted to pursue a potential relationship with?  Oh, yeah.  And Radek Zelenka was definitely someone Rodney would have liked to pursue a relationship with.

 

Rodney had sworn off dating academics some time ago, but he was willing to make an exception for Radek.  The Czech professor was fascinating on so many levels, not to mention seriously hot, and Rodney had always been a sucker for those Eastern European accents.  And through a little help from John, Rodney and Radek had a date in about...twenty-three hours.  Yes, Rodney thought as he checked his watch to confirm, I'm counting down the hours until my hot date.  I'm twelve.  Or maybe fifteen.  Rodney didn't think twelve-year-olds had hot dates, and if they did, he really didn't want to know about it.  But, nonetheless, he was acting like a teenager when it came to his upcoming date--and the worst part was, he was too excited about said date to care.

 

That wasn't to say Rodney wasn't nervous.  Oh, he was.  Boy, was he ever.  He really liked Radek, and he didn't want to screw things up.  Rodney might have left the world of science behind him when he'd made his decision to give it up and go back to his music, but he had never denied that he was still a geek.  He had always been a geek, and he rather embraced that side of himself.  However, geeks were not necessarily known for their social prowess, and Rodney had never been an exception to that rule.  He could deal with his friends well enough, the regulars at the bar, but dates?  In Rodney's experience, dates were always minefields for potential screw-ups.  Sure, Radek might have been a regular at the bar, and sure, Rodney liked to consider him a friend, but those facts didn't negate the bigger issue--they were going on a date.  And that meant Rodney had about four hundred eighty-seven chances to ruin things for himself spectacularly.  It was a random number, in no way scientific, but Rodney liked it.  It was a prime number, and...that didn't mean anything, really, but it made Rodney think of the night before at the bar, when he and Radek had tossed a couple numbers back and forth, declaring whether they were prime or not.  That could be a fun game, Rodney thought, then shook his head.  It would be one of the geekiest games in all of history.  Not that there was anything wrong with that.

 

"What's so funny?"  John Sheppard looked up from where he was wiping down the bar counter with a towel, prepping for when the bar actually opened in another forty-five minutes.  He dropped the towel on the counter, leaning forward with eyebrows raised.  "Listening to the voices in your head again?"

 

Rodney made a face at him, but he couldn't get too upset.  After all, John had been the one to nudge him and Radek together.  If it hadn't been for him, Rodney would probably still be lusting without any hope of actually getting that first date.  "No.  For your information, I was thinking of marketing Prime or Not Prime as the newest form of geek entertainment."

 

John blinked at him.  "You mean that thing you and Radek did last night where you guess if a number is prime or not?"

 

"Well, I suppose you could guess," Rodney replied, though he highly suspected John knew more about math and science than he let on.  John was too quick on the draw when discussing technology news with Rodney, before he seemed to catch himself and feign confusion.  "I calculate.  Or just know."  He lifted the lid on the piano, then grinned back over his shoulder at John.  "Three thousand, two hundred seventy-one."

 

John thought for a second.  "Prime."

 

"And the law of averages works in your favor."  Rodney chuckled.  "You had a fifty-fifty shot."

 

"Oh, come on, it's in the top five hundred," John called back.

 

Rodney looked over at him, trying to avoid openly staring.  "Okay, that's it.  You are not allowed to play dumb ever again."

 

John shrugged, spreading his hands in front of him in mock innocence before he grabbed the bar rag again.  "What?  It was on a math test in high school.  The teacher was hot."

 

Rodney rolled his eyes.  "It's times like this I'm glad you're straight."

 

"What does that have to do with anything?"

 

"I'll never be tempted to date you," Rodney shot back.  "Honestly, it'd drive me nuts in a week, this 'I have no idea what you're talking about, except I really do' business of yours."

 

That caught John's attention.  "Speaking of dates, did you take my advice last night?"

 

Rodney dusted off the top of the piano with his sleeve.  "More like he took yours.  I can't believe you told him to look me up in the phone book."

 

John threw back his best Who, me? look.  "Hey, we're not supposed to give out employee phone numbers.  I did tell him to look up M. Rodney McKay."

 

"Yeah, and if you'd told him what the M stands for, I'd have had to kill you."

 

John winked.  "Your secret's safe with me...Meredith."

 

Rodney resisted the urge to roll his eyes again--instead, he snatched John's towel off the counter and threw it at him, managing to hit John in the face.  Score.  "I hate to break it to you, but you're not nearly as funny as you think you are."

 

John tossed the towel under the counter with a too-smug smirk.  "That's a matter of opinion."

 

Rodney shook his head and tried to think of a suitably snarky comeback.  Fortunately, they were spared further continuance of this sure-to-become-inane argument by the timely arrival of Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex.  They had been in the back room, discussing something or other related to their plans for the future of the bar.  Atlantis might have been a dive, yes, but it wouldn't have been going for as long as it had without the business know-how its owners had picked up over the years. 

 

"Hey, boys."  Teyla looked way too pleased with herself.

 

"Hey."  Rodney glanced over at Ronon.  "I'm guessing she won the argument?"

 

"It wasn't an argument, it was a discussion," Teyla corrected gently.  "And yes.  We're adding a menu."

 

"Menu?  As in food?"  John glanced around--the bar wasn't all that big to begin with.  "We're getting a kitchen?"

 

"We're getting a microwave," Ronon explained, "and another freezer to throw a bunch of stuff in.  It's not like anyone's really been asking for food around here."

 

Considering they were across the street from a large hotel with its own restaurant and on the same block as several popular dining establishments, that wasn't surprising.  But Teyla had been pushing for a limited menu of easy-to-prepare food for awhile now, and if it made her happy, Rodney didn't see anything wrong with it.  "Well, it'll be...there."

 

"Exactly," Ronon and Teyla both declared at the same time, in differing tones.  If Rodney didn't know better, he'd have sworn they planned it.  He and John exchanged amused glances.

 

"So what else is new?" Ronon asked, looking from John to Rodney and back again.  "You two look like you're in a good mood tonight."

 

"It's Saturday night.  Who wouldn't be?" John asked innocently.

 

Rodney was surprised John hadn't immediately volunteered the news about Rodney's upcoming date.  "Yeah, tell me another one.  You're just proud of yourself because your great yenta plan hasn't backfired yet."  And, frankly, Rodney really hoped it wouldn't.  If this worked out, he was going to owe John one.

 

John angled an empty shot glass at him before lining it up with its brethren along the edge of the bar.  "Hey, I've been watching you drool over him for weeks.  It was about time someone said something."

 

Teyla brightened even more, which Rodney would have thought impossible a couple of minutes ago.  "Oh, did you finally set him and Radek up together?"

 

I don't believe this.  Rodney lifted his hands in mock exasperation.  "Is everybody here obsessed with my social life?"

 

"Not everybody."  Ronon shrugged.  "I could care less who you're sleeping with."

 

Rodney inclined his head in Ronon's direction.  "I realize that--and thank you."  He looked back at John and Teyla, lifting his eyebrows in question.  "What's your excuse?"

 

"We're not obsessed, we're interested," Teyla insisted.  "I think you two would complement each other nicely."

 

John finished lining up his row of shot glasses and moved to lean against the counter again.  "And I'm just tired of watching you check him out every time he's in here and fail to do anything about it.  You've got to be bold about these things, make a move."

 

"Says the man who has the most bizarre relationship history of anyone I know."  Rodney couldn't resist--John sometimes seemed to be going for quantity over quality in his dating experience.  He'd picked some real winners in the time Rodney had known him.  "Thanks.  That makes me feel so much better."

 

"Boys, boys," Teyla chided, shaking her head with her usual tolerant affection.  She looked at Rodney.  "So?  You have a date?"

 

"Tomorrow," Rodney confirmed.  "And if it brings any joy at all to your voyeuristic little lives, I have a good feeling about this.  Assuming I don't manage to screw it up."

 

Teyla patted his shoulder.  "You won't.  I'm sure of it."  She joined Rodney on the piano bench, checking her watch as she sat.  "We've still got a little time--play something for me?"

 

They did this, some nights, before the bar opened.  Sometimes after it did.  Teyla loved to sing, though she'd never been able to make a career out of it, and she was good.  When things were slow, she would occasionally have Rodney play something in particular for her so she could sing along.  They both enjoyed it, especially since Rodney didn't sing, and so Rodney was quick to agree.  He liked to play around a bit and warm up before they opened anyway.  "Sure.  What did you have in mind?"

 

Teyla thought for a moment.  "Oh, I don't know...'Someone Else's Story,' maybe?"

 

"Chess," Rodney said, nodding in approval.  "Nice."  And he knew that one, which was always a bonus.  Of course, Teyla rarely requested anything in particular of him unless she was sure he knew it.  Rodney had some sheet music available, but it could be a pain to deal with when things got busy.  After he played a song a handful of times, he generally knew it well enough to play without the music, unless it had been a long time.  "I wish they'd stage that one again--never got the chance to see it live, but I'd love to."

 

"So would I."  Teyla stood up, moving to lean back against the piano slightly as Rodney began playing the intro.  "Long ago...in someone else's lifetime...."

 

As Teyla continued to sing, Rodney focused on his music, his fingers hitting each note with practiced ease, and if it wasn't technically perfect...it wasn't.  The quest for perfection had kept him away from what he loved for too many years; he wasn't going to let it happen again.  Sure, he could have had fame and fortune elsewhere, but when it came right down to it, he loved his job, and that made everything else worth it.  And, besides, he had a hot date tomorrow.  Life certainly could have been worse.

 

----------------

 

            The first thing Rodney did upon getting home, as he did every night--well, morning by that time; it was nearly three am--was to feed his cat, then change into his favorite t-shirt and boxers and fall into bed.  Depending on how wired he was, sometimes the falling into bed came a little later, but he had a date tomorrow and he definitely needed to get a good night's sleep.  Alfred crawled into bed beside him, purring like a diesel engine, and Rodney could have certainly thought of worse ways to end his day.  No matter what happened, he knew his cat loved him--or, at the very least, tolerated his existence.

 

            Rodney wasn't meeting Radek until six, so he had time to sleep in--which of course meant he woke up around nine am and couldn't get back to sleep.  It was probably just as well, though.  It gave him some time to plan, prepare, get some advice.  It helped that his best friend lived upstairs.  Rodney finally dragged himself out from under the covers around nine-thirty, checked to make sure that Alfred's water bowl was full, gave him a treat, and started a pot of coffee brewing.  He'd shower later, before he got ready to leave.

 

            After a cup of coffee and breakfast, Rodney headed upstairs to Carson Beckett's apartment.  It was nearly eleven, and he knew Carson would be up--he worked days, so he kept a schedule that tended to align better with the rest of the world than Rodney's did.  Fortunately, Carson was off most weekends.  Rodney knocked a couple of times in rapid succession, his usual "hey, it's me" knock.

 

            Carson answered quickly.  "Well, you're up awfully early, aren't you?"

 

            Rodney rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  How's it going?"

 

            "And you're in a good mood, too--wonders never cease."  Carson stepped back from the door to let Rodney in.  "What's the occasion?"

 

            Rodney shut the door behind him.  "I have a date tonight."

 

            "Brilliant!"  Carson's face lit up, before he switched gears to eye Rodney suspiciously.  "Wait, you didn't go down to the Village and pick up the first lad who caught your eye, did you?  I know you've been radgy lately, but--"

 

            Rodney had no idea what "radgy" meant, but from the context, he was going to assume it had something to do with being horny.  Most of the Scottish slang Carson used, Rodney had figured out by now, but there were still times something caught him by surprise.  "No, as a matter of fact, I met him at work, thank you."  He stooped for a second to pet Alba, Carson's beagle mix, as she hurried into the room, her tail wagging a mile a minute.

 

            "Didnae your mum ever tell you not to date men you met in bars?" Carson teased, his eyes sparkling mischievously.

 

            "Funny," Rodney countered dryly.  "Actually, she told me not to pick up women I met in bars, but amazingly enough, that hasn't been a problem for me.  And you can laugh all you want, but I think this one's got potential."

 

            "Oh?"  Carson gave Alba a quick pat as well, but then his attention was entirely on Rodney.  "Anyone I know?"  Carson stopped by Atlantis a few nights a week, mostly because he had gotten to know the staff there pretty well through his friendship with Rodney.

 

            "You might."  Rodney knew Carson had gotten to know a few of the regulars simply from being around at the same times they were, but he'd never kept track of exactly who it was Carson knew.  "Radek Zelenka--he teaches engineering at NYU?"

 

            Carson's curiosity quickly gave way to excitement.  "Oh, fantastic.  John said he was working to set you two up."

 

            I really don't believe this.  "Did everyone know about this but me?"  Before Carson could reply, Rodney waved a hand in that general direction.  "Never mind.  The point is...."  Did he have a point?  "Can I borrow that blue shirt of yours--you know, the one your girlfriend bought for you last month?  I promise, I'll get it right back to you."

 

            Carson looked vaguely puzzled.  "Aye, sure, but what's wrong with the clothes you've got?  Did you forget to do your laundry this week?"

 

            "No, I've got clothes," Rodney said, "but they're not...European cool."

 

            Carson laughed.  "I hate to break it to you, my friend, but neither are you."

 

            "I know," Rodney protested, "but--"

 

            "But what?" Carson asked.  "He's seen you at Atlantis.  He knows how you are.  Obviously he likes something about that if he's going out with you.  And if he didn't, why would you need him?  You're not the kind of person I'd normally think I'd have to tell to be yourself, but...be yourself."

 

            Carson had a point.  Rodney sighed.  "I see what you mean.  It's just--"  He shrugged a little, offering Carson a lopsided grin.  "I really like him, Carson."

 

            "And you don't want to muck it up," Carson finished.  "I understand.  But if it's going to go anywhere for you, it's got to go there with both of you knowin' exactly what you're gettin'."

 

            "You're right."  And he was.  Rodney considered it.  The blue shirt was nice-looking, especially on Carson, but it really wasn't Rodney's style.  "We're not going any place fancy...I guess I'll just throw on some decent jeans and a shirt or something."

 

            "You could always wear a nice-fitting shirt with that brown jacket of yours," Carson suggested.  "It's a wee bit nippy out, so that might be nice to have."

 

            Carson could be such a mother hen sometimes, but he wouldn't have been Carson otherwise.  And it wasn't a half bad idea--that was one of Rodney's favorite jackets.  He'd had it for years and it was worn enough to be comfortable without looking ratty.  "Hmm...yeah, that might work.  Thanks."

 

            "No problem."  Carson walked toward the kitchen, patting his thigh so Alba would follow.  He refilled her water bowl, then moved to the dining room table, motioning for Rodney to join him.  "So...tell me more about this date of yours."

 

            Rodney was happy to oblige--despite his nervousness, he really was looking forward to it.  "Well, I'm meeting him for dinner at some new place downtown.  I've never been there, but he says it's good."

 

            "Dinner, hmm?" Carson asked.  "Sounds reasonable.  Anything planned after that?"

 

            "What, are you gonna give me a curfew next?" Rodney joked.  "No, we don't have anything planned.  We kind of thought we'd play it by ear, see how dinner goes."  And that was going to be the question, wasn't it?  God, he hoped things went well.  It wasn't as if there wouldn't be other opportunities out there, but this one...well, it didn't seem to be much of a secret that Rodney was smitten.  He had a good feeling about this, if only he could keep from getting in his own way.

 

----------------

To be continued in Part II



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