Author: Audrey Lynne
Rating: PG-13 if you don't count language, R if you do (the boys have pottymouths).
Prompt: #17, Taste
Summary: Rodney likes Mondays. Except when they suck.
By Audrey Lynne
This story is set in my "The Bar" AU, which began in the fic of the same title. You don't need to read it to understand everything, but it might help, or you can check out the intro post at thebarsga.
Some people hated Monday mornings. To Rodney, they were pretty much the same as any other morning, except he was sometimes a little more well-rested. He worked nights, so he slept through a good chunk of most mornings anyway, but he had Sundays off, since the bar was closed, and that made Sunday an excellent date night. Especially since his boyfriend, who worked more normal hours, didn't have to be at work until Monday afternoon. Yes, Mondays were fine in Rodney's book.
The alarm went off at eleven, which was more for Radek's sake, since his first class started at two. Radek was usually up before the alarm anyhow, but it never hurt to be safe. He always liked to allow himself an hour to make it to the university, so if they were at Rodney's apartment, he set the alarm to eleven and sometimes he got up. Sometimes he rolled over and went back to sleep. It depended on how tired he was--and how insistent his cat was about getting some attention.
This particular morning, Radek had taken advantage of the opportunity to sleep in, so he was still curled up beside Rodney as they awoke. That had been a pleasant surprise when their relationship became physical--Radek was definitely a snuggler. Rodney liked that. While he wasn't the cuddliest person in the world, he didn't mind having his lover snuggle up to him after a good romp, not at all. It was kind of sweet, actually.
"Morning," Rodney said sleepily, reaching for the alarm to silence it.
"Good morning." Radek reached across Rodney to retrieve his glasses from the nightstand. "I suppose I had better drag myself out of bed and take a shower. My students will not appreciate it if I cancel class simply because I would prefer to stay in bed with you."
Rodney chuckled. "Oh, I don't know. Who says you have to tell them why? When I was in school, I wouldn't have cared if my class got canceled."
Radek leaned forward to drop a kiss on Rodney's forehead. "Yes, you would have, milacku. I am sure you were always eager for each new lecture."
That drew a snort from Rodney. "As
"Like trying to figure out how to create a black hole to lose them in?" Radek teased.
"Exactly." Rodney rolled over and dragged himself from beneath the covers so Radek could get up, since Radek's side of the bed was against the wall. "Not your class, though. I liked the hot professors. Especially the ones with the accents...."
Radek blinked at him innocently--too innocently. Rodney knew that look; it always meant Radek was up to something. "What are you talking about? I don't have an accent--but yours, I find intriguing."
Rodney was tempted to grab a pillow and throw it at him, but that would only lead to them goofing off even more and Radek would end up being late for class. He headed for the kitchen, where his cat was waiting for him. Calling over his shoulder to Radek, he said, "I guess I should just be glad you're not mad at me for not doing anything special for our anniversary."
"What anniversary?" Radek called back.
Rodney shrugged. "Hell if I know, but our first date was on a Sunday, so it's gotta be some-week anniversary." He could have gotten his calendar out and counted, but that was so not the point.
Radek poked his head out of the bathroom to look at Rodney--not hard, as it was a small apartment. "If you can figure it out, perhaps we will celebrate later. But I will hardly hold it against you. I count such things in years, not weeks."
"Yeah, like most of us do." Rodney chuckled. "But that's what John was bitching about Saturday night--his flavor-of-the-month was all pissed that he forgot their six-week anniversary. Geez, the man has gotten some weird ones lately."
Radek snorted, retreating into the bathroom again, though he didn't bother to close the door. "That is why I gave up on women."
Rodney opened a cabinet, retrieving the cat treats and shaking the canister. Alfred showed up at his feet almost instantly, settling onto his haunches and watching Rodney expectantly. "Yeah, well, at least you had that option." He adopted the most stereotypical "gay lisp" he could muster. "I never liked girls."
"A fact of which I am well aware," Radek replied, before anything else he might have said was lost in the noise of his turning on the shower.
Rodney smiled and opened the canister, then shook two of the treats into his hand. He knelt down to feed them to Alfred, patting the tabby's head. "You see what I have to put up with?" he joked. Alfred only purred in response. He wasn't much of a conversationalist, not like Radek's pair of Siamese cats. Sometimes, Rodney could have sworn those cats were answering him, with the little changes of pitch in their yowls.
Radek emerged from the bathroom about fifteen minutes later, still wet and a towel around his waist. Rodney remained in the kitchen for a moment, appreciating the view, then followed him into the bedroom. "I'm heading in to work early tonight--did you want me to feed those psycho cats of yours on my way in?" Radek's apartment was on his way, Rodney had a key, and he knew Radek tended to work later into the evening when he had afternoon classes, catching up on grading assignments.
Radek shrugged. "If you wish. They will not starve if their dinner is an hour or two late. I believe they have become accustomed to it on Mondays."
"True," Rodney allowed, "but I wouldn't want them to decide it was a life-or-death thing and try to eat your pigeons."
Radek chuckled. "Ne, I doubt that will be a problem. They are quite finicky and I hear pigeon is gamey."
Rodney shook his head and reached to strip off his boxers, but then paused. "Did you leave me any hot water?"
"Oh, good." Rodney finished divesting himself of the boxers and headed into the bathroom for his own shower. He usually got to work around seven, but this time, he and his coworkers were meeting for a late lunch. It was an annual tradition--since the staff of Atlantis consisted of Rodney, John, Teyla, and Ronon, it was hard to take any time off, except for the Sundays the bar was closed. So Atlantis closed for two weeks every year in the spring, when business was slower anyway, in order to give them all a break. Usually, a week before, they all met for a late lunch before Atlantis opened for the evening to celebrate their upcoming vacation, as well as another successful year. This year, Rodney had even more reason to look forward to the vacation--the second week of it coincided with Spring Break at NYU, when Radek wouldn't have any classes at all to handle. He grinned at that thought as he stepped into the shower spray. He and Radek would have a week to themselves to do whatever they pleased. Damn, he was looking forward to that.
Rodney had been dating Radek long enough that Radek's cats recognized him--or at the very least, they had accepted he wasn't a threat and he knew how to work the can opener. They no longer eyed him suspiciously whenever he entered the apartment, but instead rubbed up against his legs, mewing and imploring him with eyes as blue as their owner's to either pet or feed them. Sometimes both. "Yeah, yeah," Rodney told them, giving each a token pat as he made his way into the kitchen, "I hear you. 'Feed me, human slave.' That's what it comes down to, isn't it?"
Once in the kitchen, Kazi yowled and leapt up onto the kitchen counter, looking down on the empty food bowls below with feline disdain, while Ryba hovered near Rodney's feet. Rodney pulled out the cans of cat food, dumping it into their dishes, and stepped back as the cats swooped in to devour it, not unlike Alfred had when Rodney had fed him before leaving his own apartment. Rodney wandered into the living room to check that the pigeons were, in fact, still in their cage, untouched, and their food supply seemed adequate. Despite the little bit he'd learned from Radek, Rodney still didn't know the much at all about the birds, so he was satisfied to note they were both alive and there was food and birdseed in the little cups in the cage. Beyond that, there wasn't much for him to do. He went back into the kitchen and dropped the empty cat food cans into the trash, then picked up his keys. "All right, you little nuts, I'll see you later. Stay away from that kitty porn on the internet."
Whether it was the tone of his voice or merely some cat thing Rodney wasn't capable of understanding, Ryba chose that exact moment to look up at him. Rodney simply stared right back. "I mean it. Radek hates when that stuff shows up on his credit card bill. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be going." Ryba went back to her food, apparently deciding Rodney was no longer worthy of her interest. That suited Rodney just fine--as the saying went, you were nobody until you'd been ignored by a cat. "Thank you. We human slaves have to eat too, you know." With that, Rodney headed out the door, making sure to lock it behind him, and down the nearby stairs. He dug his iPod out of his pocket and untangled the earbuds and their accompanying cord. The subway line that would get Rodney to the restaurant was a couple of blocks further than the one he'd taken to get to Radek's apartment, but the weather was lovely; it would be a nice walk.
There was no traditional place for the pre-vacation lunch; it generally ended up being wherever everyone decided sounded good. When they had discussed potential restaurants, John had mentioned taking a date to an Italian place
Rodney sized up the restaurant as he entered. It was medium-sized, with the usual crowd one would expect this time of day in a
"How's it going?" John asked as Rodney slid into his seat.
"Pretty good," Rodney replied. "Please tell me you got rid of Ms. Six-Week Anniversary."
John nodded. "Damn straight I did--and in the best way possible."
"You mean where she thinks she got rid of you?" Rodney asked.
"Yup," John drawled, then sighed. "I think I'm taking a break from dating for awhile. All the nuts keep finding me."
Rodney couldn't argue with that. "Yeah, you've picked some real winners lately."
John grinned. "Is dating guys any easier?"
"John!" Teyla chided playfully, smacking his arm. "Be nice."
"I'm serious!" John insisted, laughing. "I want to know."
"Not that I have any real basis for comparison," Rodney told him, "but I don't think so. There are still plenty of nuts out there. Especially in this town." Now he was the one grinning, though his was a bit more mischievous. "But if you ever decide to jump the fence and find out, I know a couple of guys who would go wild for that whole bedhead look you've got going on. And with the elf-ears?" He growled appreciatively. "You're not my type, but I'm not the one dating you." Fortunately, Rodney thought, he was out of Teyla's swatting range, but she settled for giving him a look of mock exasperation.
Ronon's timely arrival a few seconds later saved the conversation from going further downhill. "Hey." Greetings were exchanged all around as he picked up one of the menus on the table and began to look it over. "What've they got here?"
Rodney waited for John to provide some smartass answer like "Food," but when he didn't, Rodney answered. "Looks like the usual range you'd expect at a place like this." He flipped the menu over to the back to glance at the dessert selection. "Oh, damn, look at that chocolate cake. That's just evil."
"Ooh, yes." Teyla turned her own menu around. "These pictures look good enough to eat. And those lemon bars...."
Rodney looked at the photo of said lemon bars, about halfway down the page. "Yeah, that's just seven kinds of pure death."
Teyla gave him a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry, Rodney, I--'
Rodney waved her off. His friends knew about his citrus allergy, but he didn't expect them to plan their lives around it. "Forget it. They do look damned good. I would just like to avoid having my throat close up on me today; it's not very pleasant. You can go ahead and try them, though. As long as you don't force-feed me, I'm good." He would be quite content with the chocolate cake. Now he just had to decide what he was actually eating for lunch.
The waitress came by a few minutes later and with all the time they had spent drooling over the dessert selection, none of them were quite ready to order. "Can I get you all some water while you decide?" she asked. "Or one of our wine selections?"
Ronon and John passed on the offer, but Teyla opted for a glass of white wine. Rodney frowned, considering it. He didn't want the wine, but water didn't sound half-bad. Except, as always, there was one concern. "Do you guys put that little slice of lemon on the water glass here?"
The waitress nodded. "Yes, sir, we do. Would you like a second one?"
Rodney had to give her credit for trying to be helpful, but he really couldn't help but chuckle at the look on John's face. Teyla was watching Rodney, as if waiting for a reaction, and Ronon looked like he was trying very hard not to laugh himself. "Ah, no--actually, skip the lemon entirely."
"So, a glass of water, no lemon slice," the waitress confirmed. At Rodney's nod, she smiled. "Got it. I'll be right back with that--and your wine, ma'am."
"Thank you," Teyla said as the waitress hurried off.
As soon as the waitress was out of hearing range, John burst out laughing. "Two lemon slices...how many kinds of 'pure death' is that?"
"Yeah, you laugh it up." Rodney shook his head. "And it's seven. It's always seven."
"It's a good number." And an arbitrary one, but Rodney didn't have to admit that.
They did finally manage to make up their minds by the time their oh-so-perky waitress returned and Rodney scribbled John's phone number on a napkin and slipped it to the girl, who had been subtle but not undetectable in her attempts to check John out. She gave Rodney a smile of thanks and slipped it into her pocket as she jotted their orders down.
Teyla sipped at her wine. "Well, I'd wait until she gets back with your drinks, boys, but let's make this an unofficial toast--here's to another year at Atlantis."
Ronon nodded. "I don't need a drink to salute that."
"Thank God for the hotel across the street, huh?" Rodney asked. It had never been debated that the travel crowd paid most of their bills. "They keep us going and our regulars keep it fun." Hell, Radek had been one of the regulars until John had played matchmaker for him and Rodney. Radek still dropped in frequently, but it wasn't just for a drink any more. He took a few sips of his water and frowned, then offered it to Teyla, who was least likely to balk at drinking after Rodney. "Here, does this taste funny to you?"
Teyla looked dubious, but she took a sip anyway. "You're right. It's like they added something to it. It's very faint--I can't tell what."
John took the glass from Teyla. "Yeah, some of these places let cucumbers soak in the water so it tastes 'fresher.'" He tried it himself. "Weird. I don't know what it is either--it's not lemon."
Rodney tried to set aside his rising anxiety--he didn't know where it was coming from. The taste of lemon, he could pick out a mile away; that hadn't been it. Wasn't lime, either. What the hell else would they have put in water? Cucumbers, he could handle. "Ask the waitress when you see her."
"Here, let me try." Ronon took the glass and Rodney was about to make a crack about the communal water glass when he decided it might be a better idea to dig out his Epi-Pen, just in case. He was sure the tingling lips were just his imagination and his chest really wasn't tightening; it was just anxiety. But he felt safer holding the epinephrine in one hand...just in case. Ronon took his test sip, then another, as if confirming. "Oh, yeah, my grandmother used to do this all the time; she liked the taste. It's orange...." Suddenly, he got it. "Oh, shit. You're just allergic to lemon, right?"
To be continued in part 2 :)