"Hey there, hot stuff, what can I do for you tonight?"
Rodney winced. The voice was incredibly sexy, but probably really some aging pot-bellied drug addict. "Oh god, I can't believe I've become this desperate," he snapped. He'd actually picked up the phone, sat there, and dialed 1-877-HOTGUYZZ.
Colorado Springs was killing him slowly. His only choices for companionship were his admittedly kind of smart, but extremely dull colleagues and the mindless military grunts. He'd been watching some late night TV because he was on enforced leave after passing out in the lab from lack of sleep, and they kept running these corny little phone sex infomercials that had seemed really pathetic and funny at one o'clock, and somehow had morphed into 'good idea' by three.
He was pulled out of his self-loathing by a snort at the other end of the line. "Hey, you want desperate, try working here," he said, and the sexy, sulky voice was now a slow, amused drawl.
Rodney thought about that. "Okay," he said. "You win."
Laughter filtered through the phone and Rodney smiled reluctantly, because it was a really nice laugh, and hell, he'd sunk as low as he was going already. "I've got a list of transcripts here to read from," he said. "What are you in the mood for?"
"Are you serious?" Rodney asked. "Are you supposed to tell people its all fake?"
There was another snort at the other end of the line, and Rodney reluctantly admitted it sounded really cute. His vision of the pot-bellied drug addict was changing up a little. "I figure you seem smart enough that you've already got us all figured out anyway, besides, I've been at this for hours, and I've decided I'd like to be fired."
Rodney frowned, while he flipped through the channels on his muted TV. "How does one go about becoming a phone sex telemarketer, anyway?"
"When one is desperate for money," the voice said, a little sulky again, and a lot sarcastic. "I've been taking odd jobs ever since I got kicked out of the air force."
"You were in the air force?" Rodney asked, intrigued. With the exception of Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter, the majority of the air force and military in general that he'd met had seemed dull and uninteresting, and Rodney's active mind was already creating an exciting and mysterious past for this man.
"I had a little trouble following orders," he said, and sounded amused. "From the look my supervisor is giving me, that might be a problem here too."
"So talk sexy to me," Rodney said, a little thrill going through him. He'd expected to hang up after five minutes, it was just for a little amusement, he'd said to himself, because this so wasn't his thing. And now...
"To be honest, I'm not all that great at it," he said, and Rodney was sure he was grinning. "I'm more of a hands on kind of guy."
Rodney smirked. "Is that why they gave you scripts?"
"Yep," he said, cheerfully. "You want me to read from 'bad boy' or 'inexperienced stranger'?"
This time, Rodney was the one snorting. "Is that the best you have?" he asked.
"I'm embarrassed to even name the others," he said.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "I think I'm going to have to go."
"Yeah, sure," the phone sex guy said. "Just get me all hot and bothered and then hang up. Story of my life."
Rodney broke out into another reluctant grin. "Who's paying for who's services here?"
"If you hang up," he said, slyly, "I'm going to be stuck dealing with some needy pervert, and they're going to make me read from one of the creepy scripts."
"Is this some kind of ploy to keep me on the line for an extra couple of costly minutes?"
"Oh, most definitely," he said. "I work on commission."
Rodney laughed. "Has anyone ever told you that you're a little too honest for your own good?"
"The air force," he said, and he was laughing again, Rodney just knew it. "Among others."
"Why am I not surprised?" Rodney asked.
"So, what do you do?" he asked.
Rodney frowned. "I don't think I'm supposed to tell you stuff like that."
"I asked what you do," he said, and Rodney wondered if everything amused this guy. "Not for your credit card number."
"Oh," he said. "Right. I'm a theoretical astrophysicist, quite widely accepted as the smartest man in the world."
"Wow," the guy said. "That must be fun."
"You'd be surprised," Rodney said. "It's lonely at the top."
There was a muffled pause on the other end of the line, and then, he said, "Look, it's been fun, but I've got to go."
Rodney frowned, surprised, and far more disappointed than he should have been. "What--"
"I've just been fired," he said, sounding pleased with himself. And then he hung up.
Rodney listened to the dial tone for a few minutes, feeling a bizarre sense of loss, of wrongness, before he finally hung up the phone and cranked up the volume on the TV.
Most people, upon having had one desperate slip, and having called 1-877-HOTGUYZZ, would do the smart thing and never think about it again. Dr. Rodney McKay was not most people.
Dr. Rodney McKay was losing it.
The voice of his mysterious and sarcastic phone sex buddy was haunting him. On the radio, on the way to work, there was a commercial for Larson Insurance that played every day around 7 AM.
"My car was totaled, so I called Larson Insurance, and suddenly everything seemed alright..."
He'd know the Voice anywhere. And now, at work, Jack O'Neill having just said, "Can you get that for me?" he was standing under twenty feet of rock, in his safe haven, and the Voice was saying "Hello?"
"Yes?" he said, a little harsher than he'd meant to, but he was thrown.
"Jack?" The Voice was a slow drawl, exactly the way he remembered it.
Rodney snorted. "No, just his highly overqualified assistant."
At his desk, Jack rolled his eyes, but he was on the red phone, taking a more important call, so he couldn't comment.
"Oh," the Voice said. "Damn. Okay, I'll call back."
"Hey, wait," Rodney said, but then there was a click, and a dial-tone, and Rodney was sure he was losing his mind for real.
Jack hung up the red phone and leaned back in his chair. "Who was it?" he asked.
"Some guy," Rodney said, trying to focus. "He didn't leave a name."
Jack nodded, and Rodney straightened up. "So, I really think that I should be excused from such superfluous events, I have important work that--"
"You're not getting out of this," Jack interrupted, with a smirk. "If I have to go and be miserable, you do too."
Rodney's eyes narrowed. "Sam is a far better choice, she's good at that sucking up thing."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Look, you just have to pretend to be nice for a couple hours, schmooze with the brass and their families; don't think Carter wasn't my first choice to represent the science department, either, but she's off-world, and anyway, Daniel's going to be there to smooth things over in your wake."
Rodney frowned, thwarted. "Fine, but if the people there are as idiotic as I'm expecting, I'm going to do my best to sneak out early."
"Well, you can try," Jack said, "but you're going to have competition."
Rodney glared at him a little and then spun on his heel and left the room. Jack reached over to check the caller ID, and saw exactly the number he was expecting. He dialed it and leaned back in his chair, planting his feet up on his desk.
There was an answer on the third ring. "Hello?"
"John," Jack said, with another little grin. "I thought that was probably you calling. The answer is no."
"You're going," Jack said. "Your father wants you there, and I told him I'd make it happen, so don't let me down."
"Fine," John said, with a sigh, "but don't think I'm staying for the whole thing."
Jack grinned. "Don't worry," he said. "I don't think anyone actually is."
Dr. Lee was spiking the punch bowl along with Dr. Simpson, snickering madly all the while, and Rodney sneered and turned away. It was like he was working with children; stupid little children.
"Try smiling," Daniel suggested, as he came to stand beside him.
Rodney glared at him. Sure, he sounded completely innocent, and everyone thought he was a saint, but Rodney knew better. "I am smiling," he snapped.
Daniel flashed him his own grin. Daniel got a kick out of Rodney McKay. "Just checking," he said.
"Why aren't you off dazzling the brass?" Rodney asked. Daniel Jackson was the SGC's all-purpose diplomat, Jack's secret weapon when it came to getting funding, and he was usually off working the room.
"Jack told me to keep an eye on you," Daniel said.
"Where is Jack?" Rodney asked, glancing irritably around the room.
"He left five minutes ago," Daniel said wryly.
"The bastard!" Rodney shouted, drawing a little attention. "He beats me out of here every time."
Daniel laughed and grabbed his arm, and began steering him across the room. "I want to introduce you to someone."
"Why would you want to do that?" Rodney asked, incredulous. "Don't you know me at all?"
The corners of Daniel's lips slipped upwards and back. "General Sheppard is an old friend of General Hammond and is a very powerful supporter of the SGC. He wants to meet the head of the science department."
"Sam isn't here," Daniel said, pushing him further across the room. "You are."
Rodney watched as a tall, attractive grey-haired man walked up to them, wearing air force blues. There was a younger man behind him, wearing a black suit and a wicked grin, with the kind of hair Rodney usually only saw on cartoons.
"General Sheppard," Daniel said brightly. "This is the man I was telling you about, Dr. Rodney McKay."
General Sheppard held out a hand and Rodney took it mutely, eyes on the man with the crazy hair. "Nice to meet you, Doctor," he said. "This is my son John."
"Doctor," John said, holding out his own hand.
Rodney let go of the General's hand and it fell limp to his side. He stared at John, hypnotized, and then shouted, "It's you!"
The General frowned, glancing from his son to Rodney and then back. "You two know each other?"
Rodney's eyes widened as he realized not only had he almost just admitted calling a phone sex hotline in front of the saint of the SGC, but he'd also almost outed John as having worked there right in front of his father. "Um...no," Rodney said quickly, which, really, was true enough. "But you're...you're on that insurance commercial, right? On the radio?"
Daniel was looking at him oddly, and John ducked his head, biting down on a laugh. The General just rolled his eyes and turned to look at his son. "Don't tell me you're doing those stupid radio spots again."
John blinked innocently. "I've been told I have a nice voice," he said, and his eyes slipped to Rodney conspiratorially before returning to his father.
General Sheppard gave a long-suffering sigh and then nodded a goodbye to Rodney. He took Daniel by the elbow and started leading him away. "So, where is Jack?" he was asking, before they both disappeared into the crowd.
Rodney's gaze was still stuck on John Sheppard, who was definitely not a pot-bellied aging drug addict like he had thought, and looked even better than he sounded.
"So, Rodney--can I call you Rodney, Rodney?"
The Voice was speaking to him again. Rodney blinked. "Uh..."
"Great," John said, grinning. "So, hey, wow, you were serious?"
Rodney tried to regain focus. He licked his lips nervously, and then said, "Serious about what?"
John leaned forward, way too close for Rodney's peace of mind, and whispered, "Being the smartest man in the world."
Rodney felt light-headed, but he grinned, widely, because this time John couldn't hang up, and Rodney had no intention of letting him get away.
Rodney McKay met John Sheppard through an 800 number, and his life hasn't been the same since. He kind of got railroaded the way those poor saps in romantic comedies always do, with a slightly different spin on love at first sight. He fell in love over the phone.
John barreled into his life for a second time at a Charity Ball, dressed to the nines and looking like the poster-boy for the well-adjusted military brat. It only took about thirty seconds with him to realize there was far more to him than that, and no matter how many little facts Rodney pulls from John about his life, there's still pieces missing, and he still wears mystery like a shield.
He ran a check on John's file and saw that he'd graduated with a 4.0 from a good college, and been kicked out of the air force six months later at age twenty-three with an honorable discharge and no reason why. When he asked him, John said the military frowned on finding you in bed with a commanding officer, and left it at that.
Rodney was pretty sure General Sheppard had pulled some strings to keep the whole thing quiet, but John really didn't seem all that concerned. As far as Rodney could tell, he hadn't found anything that concerned him yet.
Every time he learned about some odd job John had taken at some point, he would write it down on a list. So far, he'd learned about John's career in modeling, bartending, a brief two day stint as an accountant (before he got bored), a helicopter pilot flying tours over the Grand Canyon, voice acting as Steve the Penguin on Saturday morning cartoons and various radio commercials, and, of course, that one time he was a sex telemarketer.
Rodney had tried to get John to take a job more suited to his obviously above average intelligence, but John had just grinned, called himself naturally lazy and continued to skate by on his looks and not unsubstantial charm.
Rodney didn't really mind, John was just the free spirit type, which was fine. Except that John had a little extra money these last few weeks, and he wouldn't tell Rodney what he was doing to get it. He'd toyed with the idea of having him followed before throwing that out as creepy and stalkerish, but it was still eating at him.
He was worried that with John's track record, he was off stripping or, god forbid, making porno out of someone's basement. Well, okay, maybe not porno, but the stripping was a definite possibility. There was also another, more likely possibility that John was once again working at 1-877-HOTGUYZZ.
He'd been calling for the better part of the hour, and so far had talked to Kurt, Michael, Ethan, William and Jimmy--but whenever he asked if John was there, they'd try to distract him with obscene noises and he'd be forced to hang up.
He dialed the number again, nearly losing his resolve, when a familiar voice answered with a husky, "hey, sexy."
"Aha!" Rodney shouted. "I knew it! I knew you were doing it again!"
"Rodney?" John snapped. "What are you doing? Why are you calling a phone sex hotline?"
"Looking for you," Rodney said. "What are you doing working one? I thought you said your days of peddling sex were over!"
"I was going to tell you," John said.
"No you weren't," Rodney said, indignant.
"Okay," John said, and Rodney could feel the smile, "no, I wasn't."
"Come home right now," Rodney snapped.
"I can't," John said. "The pay is great. Jeremy offered me double to come back. I guess people kept requesting me after I was fired."
"People REQUEST you?" Rodney snapped. "What the hell did you say to them?"
"Are you actually jealous because I'm talking to people on the phone?" John asked.
"That's how we met!" Rodney said.
"We met at a Charity Ball," John corrected.
"We first met on a phone sex hotline!"
"It'll be such a lovely story to tell the grandkids," John said wryly. "I'm going to have to hang up, alright? You're going to get me fired. Again."
"You wanted to get fired before, and you should now!" Rodney said. "You don't make obscene sex noises like those other guys, do you?"
"Of course I do," John said.
"Seriously," Rodney said. "You're going to have to quit."
"I have to pay my rent, Rodney," John said with a sigh. "And this isn't such a bad job, really. I mean, yeah, okay, I have to entertain perverts with lewd sexual dialogue, but they're just lonely, really, and I'm glad to help."
"I'll pay your rent," Rodney said. "I'll buy you a house. Or even better still, you can just live in mine."
John snorted. "I'm not going to be your kept man," he said.
"Why not?" Rodney demanded. "I've always wanted one."
"Rodney," John said, his tone pure exasperation.
"Fine," Rodney said. "I'll give you a job, then. You can be my personal assistant."
"I don't want to be your assistant," John said. "You try and order me around enough as it is."
"Don't make me call your father," Rodney said. "I'll do it."
The other end of the line was silent for a moment, and then, "you wouldn't dare!"
"He likes me," Rodney said, smugly. "He told me to keep you out of trouble and to call if I needed any extra help."
"If you want me coming over at all tonight," John said warningly, "you'll take that back."
"Fine," Rodney snapped. "I won't call him, but I will call General O'Neill. Maybe I can get you reinstated, and you could join our...telemetry project."
John laughed. "You told everyone that would listen that we were sleeping together, and that's kind of what I got kicked out for in the first place."
"You could at least try to think of alternatives to prostituting your voice," Rodney said.
John sighed. "Look, a new season of Penguins in Space comes out in spring, and I'll quit then."
"That's months away!" Rodney yelled.
"I know, but, Rodney, I need the money--"
John was cut off mid-sentence. Rodney could hear someone at the other end of the line yelling John's name, and then the phone clicked off.
Rodney had waited all of sixty seconds after John had hung on him, hung up on him, before calling in a favor from Sam Carter. She told him she didn't want to know why he wanted the address to a phone sex hotline, and he promised he had no intention of telling her, but she got it for him and that was all he cared about.
He'd deal with the teasing later.
The label on the door was "Relationship Simulation Hotline," which was blatantly misleading, and they should really just be honest and say, "Get Phone Sex Here." He pushed his way into the office, and all the occupants turned to face him.
Mostly they all looked fairly ordinary, but there was a kid in the corner with spiked hair and a nose ring, and a woman seated near the front, wearing a bright red dress and calling herself 'Ned' to whoever was on the other line in what was a rather impressive imitation of Sylvester Stallone.
He finally caught sight of John, slouching in a desk chair and watching him with wide eyes.
"John!" Rodney said. He took a step and then the room tilted. Next thing he knew, he was on the floor with one of the largest people he'd ever seen sitting on his chest, and he worked with Teal'c, so that was saying something.
"Are you John's stalker?" the man asked darkly.
"Bruno, it's okay," John was shouting. "Bruno!"
John pulled the man off of him. "Hey, Rodney, are you okay?"
Rodney laid on the ground for a moment, dazed, blinking up at him. Then he replayed the conversation, and shouted, "You have a stalker?"
John kneeled down beside him. "No," he said. "No, of course not. He doesn't even know who I am, so obviously he can't stalk me."
"Oh my god," Rodney said. "Done! You're so done with this whole business." Rodney noticed that the wall that was Bruno was still glaring at him. "Oh, unclench, would you? I'm his boyfriend. I'm allowed to stalk him."
"It's okay, Bruno," John said. Bruno continued to glare, but he moved away with a nod.
"Does that guy take calls too?" Rodney asked warily, as he watched him walk off.
"He can turn on the charm when he wants to," John said with a grin.
"Is his name really Bruno?" Rodney asked.
"No, it's Clarence," John said. "I just call him Bruno."
Rodney didn't know if he was being sarcastic or serious, and that just pissed him off more. "I can't believe you came back here," he snapped. "You've been cheating on me with a bunch of needy perverts."
"It's not cheating," John said. "It's like...like acting. I even have scripts."
Rodney dusted himself off and got to his feet, and John followed suit. "You're way too smart to be working with a bunch of sexually frustrated morons!" he shouted.
The office quieted down, and as one, all of the sexually frustrated morons turned to glare at him. John sighed and took a deep breath.
"He's talking about my other job," John told them, and they all said "ah" and got back to work.
Rodney grabbed his arm and pulled him off to the side. "Seriously," he said. "A stalker? Seriously? When were you going to tell me about this?"
"There just never seems to be a good time to bring it up," John said. "Besides, he's not even a real stalker, he just calls me up and makes panting sounds. I mean, what is that? That's nothing. I get paid to do that."
Rodney could feel a migraine coming on. He should have known that finally finding someone that could put up with him would have a catch. He had to put up with them. "Okay, look, I can find you a job, alright? It's not a problem. You've got qualifications, you can use them."
John rolled his eyes. "I know that, but--"
"No buts!" Rodney said. "You're not keeping this job."
John crossed his arms and glared at him. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, don't do that," Rodney said irritably. "Don't do that whole 'just because you said I have to do something I'm not going to do it' thing. It's really childish."
"Oh, but shouting 'no buts' is the epitome of rational behavior?" John snapped.
Rodney pointed at him. "Ha!" he said. "Epitome! People that work at phone sex hotlines don't say words like 'epitome' in casual conversation."
John looked over his shoulder. "Hey, Bruno, define 'epitome.'"
Bruno looked up. "A prime example of class or type," he said. "A brief abstract, as of a book or article." Then he went back to work.
John turned back to Rodney with grin.
Rodney faltered slightly. "Okay, well, that's just weird," he snapped. "And you're so missing the point."
"What is the point?" John asked.
"You should be working somewhere your skills can be put to good use!" Rodney said.
John flashed him a cheeky grin, and Rodney rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't even," Rodney said. "Talking dirty is not a skill."
"Hey, Shep," someone shouted. Rodney glanced up and saw a middle-aged man glaring over at him. He had a greasy ponytail and thick black rimmed glasses. Rodney disliked him on sight. "I thought I told you that you had fifteen to minutes to pack up and get the hell out of here."
"Oh, don't worry," John called back. "I'm as good as gone."
Rodney gaped at him. "You've been fired?" he shouted. "You let me go on and on and you've been fired?"
John gave a small grin, looking almost shy. "Actually, I quit. He hung up on you, I wasn't going to let that go."
"He hung up on me?" Rodney asked.
"What? You thought I had?" John asked, eyes going wide. "I would never do that."
Rodney smiled, feeling something loosen inside, because he'd been worried, though he wasn't sure about what, and now it all just seemed really ridiculous and inconsequential in the face of finding someone that wouldn't ever hang up on him again. "So what are you going to do now?" Rodney asked.
"I don't know," John said, shrugging. "I thought I might try out surfing."
Rodney snorted, but still couldn't stop smiling. "Come here," he said, grabbing John by the front of his shirt to pull him in for a kiss. John stumbled, knocking them both against the wall and leaving them laughing breathlessly, trying to share air.
"Hey, none of that in here," Bruno shouted. "Keep it on the phone line."
The sequel: The Partyline