Summary: AU, Rodney is at a Bowling Championship and meets someone!
Authors Note: I'm so sorry! They had ESPN on at work where they, for some ungodly reason, were showing Bowling! One of the guys kinda looked like David Hewlett and…well, my mind works in dysfunctional ways.
Disclaimer: Not my toys! And I know nothing about professional bowling so please ignore any mistakes.
Word Count: 1,900
Rodney McKay's eyes narrowed. He took long soothing breaths, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet, bowling ball held loosely to his chest. One last deep exhale and he flew forward swinging his arm around and letting the ball fly.
The small crowd cheered as the announcers gabbled away and Rodney gave a satisfied smirk. He'd done it again. He always does. His team pats his back gratefully but otherwise leaves him alone. If Rodney hadn't been on an adrenaline high he might have grumbled something about how he always has to save those loser's asses.
That night, after the obligatory meetings and interviews, Rodney headed into the park. The championships were being hosted by Six Flags and all the bowlers had free tickets so Rodney planned on taking full advantage of that over the week. He didn't ride much but he found that sitting on the benches and watching the rides while the sun set in the background was strangely soothing. Rodney would focus on a ride and let his mind run away with what it took to make that possible. The equations and theorems just streamed through his head. Bowling was all about physics, too, but nothing to the grandeur of the rides. During the school year he had a boring classroom and people called him 'Professor' but the summers were about actually enjoying physics.
He'd been long lost in his thoughts when he felt a body fall onto the bench next to him. He turned to look at this stranger who smiled brightly through the semi-darkness, the lights circling behind him.
"You planning on riding anything or are you just gonna watch?" The stranger drawled.
Rodney huffed, "well, if you must know I am contemplating the blind faith these people place in theories they don't have the brainpower to understand. I, on the other hand, have complete confidence in the physics behind such rides, it is the human aspect I refuse to place my trust in."
The stranger paused, one eyebrow slightly raised toward his gravity defying hair, "so, that's a no?"
"Not that it's any of your business but I prefer to let my mind do the work rather than risk life and limb."
The stranger chuckled, "well, then, if you don't mind my asking, why are you in a theme park if not to enjoy the rides?"
"Mmm," Rodney hummed, well it couldn't hurt, could it? "I'm here for the bowling championships, the participants all get free admission."
"Oh. Bowling?" Rodney swore he could hear the snicker being hidden.
"Yes, well, it's not everything I do, of course, I happen to be a very well respected scholar, this is just what I do for the summers."
"Oh, of course."
"Yes, and I suppose you do something sooo much more exiting, eh?"
He shrugged, "naw, just a bit of this and that, here and there, you know."
Rodney snorted, "very articulate of you."
Rodney frowned then turned to face the stranger, "huh?"
He had his hand held out, "John, my name is John, now it's your turn."
"Oh, um, yes, ok, Rodney," and Rodney reached out to take John's hand in a casual shake. John then stood up.
"Well, nice to meet you, Rodney," he stretched Rodney's name out so it sounded like it had way too many syllables. "Maybe I'll see you around."
Rodney had already turned back to his watching but gave a fluttery wave good-bye.
The next morning Rodney was waiting on the sidelines for the rest of the team to show up. They had their first game in half an hour. He watched as the other team made their way to their seats and began practicing. They were decent but nothing Rodney felt compelled to worry about. Then he noticed a dark mop of hair among them. Gravity defying hair. Rodney gulped. In the darkness last night he hadn't really gotten a good look at the stranger. John. But that could easily have been a fake name. John. Way to normal to be real, right? But in the brightness of day Rodney was finding it hard not to notice the man's deep hazel eyes, only made more vibrant by the forest green uniform of his team, and his pouty lips that stretched into a smile that made Rodney wonder how many women had tripped over themselves when faced with it.
John turned and his eyes fell onto Rodney. A smile brighter than the ones Rodney had yet witnessed creased John's face and Rodney gulped, just managing to keep enough of his senses to return the small wave.
Rodney wasn't holding out much optimism for John's talent, considering he looked like he could have stepped right out of a magazine how much talent and brains could he have? That would just be too unfair to the rest of the world. He watched John's first turn at practice half hoping for and half dreading the mistakes he just knew would happen. John stepped forward, he didn't take deep breaths, didn't let himself get used to the feel of the ball, balance himself. He didn't even take a few running steps up to the line. John just walked up, swung his forearm around lazily and flicked his wrist. Rodney cringed but kept his eyes open to watch the ball. He almost choked when it make a fast and easy strike. John stepped forward again and repeated the whole thing, all the way down to the strike. Rodney had forgotten how to breathe. Nobody should be able to do that. He made it look so easy, like he was just tossing the ball away and the stike was an afterthought. Rodney's mind flew to physics, trying to work out how that was even possible.
The game flew by, Rodney and John swiftly outshining the rest of their teams. They exchanged amused but challenging glances. It was the most fun Rodney had ever had during a game. After the final scores had been announced Rodney looked over to the other team, he wanted to congratulate John on a good game, but John was already gone.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. He was shuffled with his team from one arena to another playing teams that Rodney felt, frankly, shouldn't have made it past their little hometown leagues. The opposing players didn't appreciate these sentiments but Rodney refused to not voice his opinions.
That night, after another round of interviews and meetings, Rodney made his way back to what was, he decided, his favorite bench in the park. He didn't have to wait long before John fell lightly next to him.
"So," Rodney started, "bowling?"
John laughed, "Yeah, it pays alright and I get to keep traveling around."
"Well, I used to do lots of stuff, made the circuits with surfing, snowboarding, golf, even did some rodeos. Now, though… well, after a certain age they kinda push you to the sidelines and it's just not worth it anymore."
"Well, I still like to show up sometimes but mostly I just stick to golf and bowling. It works, you know. So, ah, Scholor?"
"Mm," Rodney shrugged, "Well its certaintly not exiting and dangerous but I have two PhDs in Theoretical Physics and Engineering which means I get to skip out on the terminally dense underclassmen and only have to deal with the slightly less dense upperclassmen and grad students."
John chuckled, "Yeah, well I always enjoyed the lower level classes, the students are much more fun."
Rodney's eyebrows furrowed. "You, wait, you mean you liked taking those classes, right?"
John just smirked, "I did have a life before I settled into the circuits. I was a grad student, they had me teach some 100 level classes."
"Grad student. Really? That's, huh, what was your degree in?"
Rodney didn't usually find himself at a loss for words but this? Really? That was almost too much for his considerable mind to handle. And so damn hot.
John must have noticed something was wrong because he quirked an eyebrow and leaned closer. "You alright? Rodney?"
Rodney cleared his throat, "yes, fine, thanks."
"Okay, suit yourself. So, you gonna sit here much longer or do you feel like getting something to eat?"
"Food. Food is always a good idea." Rodney smiled at John and led the way to one of the smaller in-park restaurants.
The week passed quickly and Rodney was startled to find that he had grown rather attached to the man he had been spending his evenings with. The bright smile still made his breath catch but he had found out there was so much more to the man than a beautiful face. He berated himself for not having the courage to find out if this could have been a fling. It was too late for that now; they would probably never see each other again.
The last night at the park Rodney waited for John at his bench, Sorry he had to say good-bye to someone he had fast become comfortable calling a friend. A good friend, even. John showed up moments later smiling like nothing in the world could ever be wrong. Rodney looked up and John's smile slipped.
"Hey, what's wrong, buddy?"
Rodney tried to hide his misery with a smile but failed, "nothing, really. Just regrets."
Rodney tried to look blank, "nothing, nothing you should worry about, um, how 'bout dinner?" Rodney bolted up.
John reached out to grab Rodney's arm and pulled him back down onto the bench. He was smirking coyly.
"Regrets, about me?"
"No! I mean, can we just forget I said anything. Lets go eat."
"No. Rodney look at me."
Rodney forced himself to calm down and face John. The expression looking back at him was not at all what he had expected. It was kind and understanding. John leaned closer still, until his lips were brushing gently along Rodney's. Rodney couldn't breath. John pulled back just enough to look into Rodney's eyes and asked quietly, "Is that what you were worried about?" Rodney leaned uncertainly back in for another kiss. When it became clear that John was truly as interested in this as he was Rodney pulled back indignantly.
"I hate you."
John looked confused but patiently waited for Rodney to continue.
"You couldn't have done that sooner could you? We could have had a week not just a night! Now we have to say good-bye and you'll disappear and I'll just go back to my boring life regretting we didn't get more time."
"Rodney! Calm down, buddy." John sighed and pulled a business card out of his pocket, handing it to Rodney, "I'm not the 'love 'em and leave 'em' type, I know people like to assume, but I'm not, and I had kinda hoped this was more the beginning than the end for you, too."
Rodney looked dumbfounded, glancing quickly between John and the card. He turned it over to find another number handwritten on the back. Rodney gulped and looked back to John.
John smiled, "the beginning," and leaned back in for another kiss.