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Title: In Front
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and are not being used for any kind of profit on my part.
Note: Thanks to Mari for the encouragement, and thanks to my friends from high school and undergrad.  High school au for the wtf_27 challenge.  Title comes from "Man in Black" by Johnny Cash, which I listened to repeatedly while writing this fic.
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“No applications yet?” Kate Heightmeyer shuffled through the large stack of papers on her desk.  God, she hated the start of the school year.
 
John smiled cheerfully.  “Nah.  Haven’t really decided yet.”
 
Heightmeyer glared at him.  “You haven’t taken the ASVAB either.  Or made any inquiries about the Air Force Academy or ROTC programs.  Or….”
 
“Like I said, I haven’t decided.”  John crossed one leg over the other, perfectly casual.  “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
 
Heightmeyer sighed.  “You’re going to need to decide soon, John.  You’ve got a better chance at scholarships if you apply early, and your grades could take you just about anywhere.”  She paused.  “You don’t have to follow in your father’s footsteps.  You can make your own life.”
 
And wasn’t that what he’d been telling himself all these months?  Hadn’t he spent last night repeating those words, practicing making this decision?  John uncrossed his legs and leaned forward.  If he was going to give up flying, he was sure as hell going to get something in return.  “Doc H, can I ask you something?”
 
Heightmeyer put her papers down, looking half-amused, half-serious.  “Anything.”
 
Never losing his cool, John dropped the bomb.  “So how would I go about starting a new student organization?”
 
***
 
On the opposite end of the spectrum of calm, Principal Caldwell paced the floor behind his desk.  John caught a glimpse of a poster reading ‘The Principal is Your Pal!’ and decided it had never been less true.  Caldwell finally spoke.  “You know I have to ask.  Are you…sure about this?”
 
John just smiled.  “Absolutely.  There’s a need in the school community, and if no one else is going to step up and fill it, I guess I have to.” 
 
Caldwell looked unconvinced.  “Have you thought about the potential consequences?”  As if they were deserved, natural results of his actions, as if the disappointment of his father, the scorn of his classmates, the destruction of all hope of his military career, was a consequence, not a tragedy.
 
John did not let it show.  He wanted this, wanted it bad.  There was something about the whole situation that angered him on a very deep level.  It wasn’t right, and if he was going to give up all of his plans for the future for this, he wasn’t going to stay quiet about it.  “I’ve thought about them.  I figure I’d be sorta a coward if I let that stop me.”  It’s about all the right lines at all the right times.  He was good at this. 
 
Thoroughly defeated, Caldwell turned his gaze to Heightmeyer.  “You know I can’t stop you if you want to do this.  I just hope you’ve both considered if the school is ready for this.”
 
Heightmeyer gave him her prettiest taking no bullshit smile.  “Oh, I think the school should always be ready for tolerance.”
 
***
 
No one really knew how to go about advertising, so Heightmeyer and John hung a few flyers, got the news on the morning announcements (less snickering than expected, but really, who listened to the announcements?) and mostly just hoped for some kind of response.
 
On that fateful Thursday afternoon, they got six, not counting John, Heightmeyer, and the other faculty adviser, social studies department head Liz Weir.  They sat scattered around the classroom, nervously watching the door to see if anyone had seen them come in, if there were spies outside, if they knew anyone in the room.
 
After it seemed like no one else was going to show up, Weir clapped her hands.  “Okay, why don’t we get started here?”  The assorted students gave her their attention.  “I’m Dr. Weir, though some of you already know me; I know I have a few of you in AP Government.  Before I became a teacher, I used to work in civil rights law, where I became familiar with the issues that I know some of you are facing now.  So, when Dr. Heightmeyer approached me about sponsoring this group, I was more than happy to volunteer.”
 
It was Heightmeyer’s turn to take the floor.  “Hi, I’m Dr. Heightmeyer, though I know most of you already.  I work in the counseling office, and I want you all to know that if you ever need someone to talk to, my door is always open.”
 
Both women turned to stare at John.  He hadn’t wanted to speak, but he turned from his perch on a desk to face the rest of the room.  “Hey, I’m John.  I guess I started this whole thing.”
 
His speech was interrupted by an irritated sputter from the next row.  “Oh PLEASE, because we queers could never get ourselves organized to meet without the help of guys like you.  Where were you when we were getting shoved into lockers, huh?”
 
He too was cut off by a sharp elbow from the scrawny kid sitting next to him.  “Ignore him,” the kid said to the rest of the room.  “He has no friends.”
 
Weir looked at the three of them, trying not to be amused.  “First of all, I think we need to set some rules here.  It is crucial that we remain supportive of one another.  We cannot have insults and fighting in here; lord knows we all face it enough from others outside of here.  Now, if that’s done, why don’t you all introduce yourselves?  Tell us your name, a little about yourself and, if you feel comfortable, why you’re here.”
 
The loudmouth from earlier was, not surprisingly, the first to talk.  “I’m Rodney.  I can guarantee that I am more intelligent than all of you put together.  Why do you THINK I’m here?  It’s a stupid question.”
 
The kid who elbowed him spoke up before anyone could respond to Rodney.  “I’m Radek, my function in life seems to be to shut Rodney up, I moved here five years ago from the Czech Republic, and I too am here for the obvious reasons.”
 
A girl with long hair and obviously homemade jewelry spoke next.  “My name is Teyla, I am an artist, and I believe that it is foolish to limit oneself sexually or romantically to one gender.”  She paused.  “That said, if I was going to limit myself, it would be to girls.  Totally girls.”  She gave an emphatic nod, then folded her hands and resumed her calm demeanor.
 
Next was an obvious underclassman bouncing in the front row.  “Hey!  I’m Aiden and I think this organization is the best thing ever.  I am out and proud!”
 
The guy behind him blinked a few times as if stunned by the energy.  “Uhm, hi.  I’m Carson and, well, actually I’m straight.”
 
“Oh right,” Rodney said with a snort.  “Of course you are.”
 
“No, really!”  Carson protested.  “I’m straight!  I have a gay cousin and a gay best friend, who said she wanted to be here but she had track, and I love them both dearly, but really, I am straight as a….straight thing.”
 
Heightmeyer saw it necessary to intervene.  “Guys, none of us, gay or straight, want to have our identity questioned.  We need to show respect for others’ assertions.” 
 
Everyone shifted uncomfortably, and then all eyes shifted to the back corner, where the last student sat.  John spared a thought as to how he’d learned to do his eyeliner like that.  The kid shifted uncomfortably under the gaze of so many.  “I’m Ronon.”
 
There was a long silence before Aiden prompted, “And?”
 
“And nothing.”  Ronon crossed black-clad arms over his chest and said no more.
 
“Okay!” Heightmeyer said cheerfully.  “I just want you all to know that it took a lot of bravery for you all to come out here today.  I know it seems new now, but I hope that this gay-straight alliance will become an important part of Cheyenne Mountain High.”
 
***
 
Despite everyone’s best hopes, the GSA never got larger than their seven members and two sponsors.  The small numbers did, however, foster a bit more friendship between the members, as Rodney had to grudgingly admit that he did like talking to other gay teenagers, even if they were dumber than sacks of rocks. The strange thing was that with the exception of Radek and Rodney, none of them had really even known each other before—John was mostly a loner, Teyla artsy, Ronon a goth and also disinclined to speak to anyone about anything, Radek and Rodney the sort of brains that didn’t play well with others, Carson a drama geek, and Aiden both much younger than the others and inclined to mostly hang around with giggling girls.  With those kinds of differences, no one would expect them to be friends, but the one thing they all (except Carson) had in common had brought them together, helped them form the bond of one very common interest.
 
As they all started to like each other more, they decided that what they needed was to get together outside of school.  Well, Aiden had decided they needed to do so, Teyla had volunteered her house with her parents away for the weekend, and no one had made their objections public.  John knew enough to be skeptical; school friends were school friends and out of school friends were something else entirely, and it was rare that the jump between the two could be made.  Still, this club had been his idea, so it wouldn’t be fitting to be the voice of pessimism.  Besides, by now it was clear that was Rodney’s job.
 
So there they were, one Friday evening in November, sitting around Teyla’s family room.  Radek and Aiden were on the floor playing X-Box, Ronon was fiddling with his spike necklace (they’d gotten him to take off the combat boots but he insisted on wearing his trenchcoat), and the other four were laying around in various stages of sloth.
 
It was Aiden, winning the game and setting down his controller, who started it.  “So, when did you guys all know?”
 
“Oh God, is this turning into a big gay slumber party?” Rodney asked, rolling his eyes. 
 
John hit him with a throw pillow.  “If it was, we would have painted your nails by now.”  That said, he looked over at Aiden.  “But seriously?  You want to have this conversation?”
 
To everyone’s shock, it was Ronon who answered.  “Not like we can talk to anyone else about it.”
 
Can’t really argue with that.  John leaned back.  “Fine, Aiden, but you’re starting.”
 
Aiden radiated excitement, and John had to forcefully remind himself the kid was 15, just a baby really, and couldn’t be blamed.  “Well, I guess it was the eighth grade dance, I was just totally not excited about my date and I realized that it was because I didn’t want to date her or any other girl and it all just clicked that I was gay and I haven’t looked back since.”
 
“Wow, that’s very profound and enlightening,” Rodney said sarcastically, prompting Aiden to stick his tongue out.
 
John broke it up before it could get any further.  “Well how about your story then?”
 
Rodney blushed, but then shrugged and said “What’s there to tell?  I was born, I looked back and thought ‘that’s the last time I’m going near one of those.’”
 
Radek groaned louder than anyone else at the overused joke.  “For me, it was not so easy.  My family are very good Catholics, so it was hard to say ‘yes, this is what I am, and if I go to hell, I go to hell.’”
 
Teyla touched his shoulder.  “Do you parents know that you’re gay?”
 
Radek shook his head.  “No.  I do not think…they would not be happy, but I think they would get used to it.  I hope.”
 
Teyla smiled at him.  “I’m sure they will.”  She looked around the room.  “It didn’t occur to me until I was about sixteen that my feelings were not the normal feelings I was supposed to have for my female friends.  I knew my parents would be supportive, but it was still very difficult to tell them.”
 
“I’m really glad to hear that,” Carson said.  “I hate those crazy parents on TV who act like it’s a personal betrayal of them that their kid is say.”  He grinned.  “For what it’s worth, I knew I was straight when I kissed Kelly McCarthy in the third grade and knew my life afterward would be dedicated to trying to do it again with as many women as possible.”
 
Everyone laughed, and for a long moment, John thought he’d be expected to go next, but then Ronon blurted out “I was twelve and he was fifteen and he wanted to try it, and I knew I didn’t really want to touch him again after that, but I thought maybe with some other guy, yeah.”
 
Silence, before Rodney, voice no gentler than usual, asked “You realize that’s really fucked up, right?”
 
Radek punched him in the arm.  Hard.  He moved closer to Ronon.  “God.  I’m sorry.  Did he…?”
 
Ronon shook his head.  “No.  Didn’t force me, which is more than a lot of kids in the system can say.  He ended up in a new group home after awhile, I ended up with a new foster family and now here I am.  It all worked out okay.”  He shoved his hands in his pockets.  “I don’t really talk about it.”
 
Teyla, ever the best communicator, saw the need for a subject change and looked over at John.  “We haven’t heard your story yet.”
 
John fidgeted a bit.  This was the hard part, because all groups have their membership requirements, and he was beginning to feel insufficiently gay.  “Well, I wasn’t really like most of you.  I never really thought about guys that way at all until” and here’s the hard part “last year.”
 
Rodney choked on his sip of pop.  “You started a GSA when you’d only been gay for a year?  Weren’t you still supposed to be telling yourself it was only a phase at that point?”
 
John was very careful to hit Rodney in the same spot Radek had earlier.  “Fuck you.  I figured out pretty quickly that it was permanent.”
 
“What made you realize it in the first place?” Aiden asked.  “I mean, you would have been, like, seventeen.  That’s really old!” 
 
“Shut up!” came the chorus from the six seniors in the room.  When the glaring at Aiden had died down, John looked down and admitted “It was Tom Brady.”
 
Confused silence, until Ronon (who lived with two other straight male teenagers and therefore knew of their world) asked, “The football player?”
 
John nodded.  “Saw him win MVP of the Super Bowl and, well, I realized I felt something more than manly inspiration, and it was all downhill from there.”
 
Rodney snickered.  “Only you could be turned gay by a fucking football player.  You’re the straightest gay boy in the world.”
 
Teyla glared at him.  “Rodney, you’re perpetuating the stereotypes that have been used to demean and oppress LGBT people for years.”
 
Rodney glared right back at her.  “Well, I think that by embracing these stereotypes, making them our own, we can take away their power to hurt us.”
 
John just leaned back, watching the discussion.  Maybe, just maybe, they could all become real friends after all.
 
***
 
Of course, life never goes quite so smoothly, and Caldwell got complaints from parents and Heightmeyer stuck up for the club and Weir got really angry, and at times John just wanted to quit, to say ‘yes, I’ve stirred up enough excitement, let’s end it now,’ but then he looked around at his new friends, his only friends, and he decided that some things were worth standing up for, and besides that, if the club was disbanded, might they all just drift apart? 
 
Fact was, they were all so busy that it might be easy to be pulled away from each other.  Teyla was frantically trying to get her best pieces together to submit portfolios to art schools, Rodney and Radek were pouring over acceptance letters and scholarship offers, looking for the best deal, Carson was pretty much looking for anyone who wanted to give him any kind of scholarship, and John was actually starting to feel motivated to perhaps do something.  He’d even met with Heightmeyer to discuss his options; maybe the Air Force was gone for him, but there were still other ways of flying or at least being involved, and John was going to find those ways if it killed him.
 
Ronon and Ford were left on the outskirts of these conversations; Ford would try to work in how he planned on being a star of the swim team next year while Ronon, who had once said roughly that college wasn’t an option, was characteristically quiet.  John worried about him a bit, but figured that if Ronon seemed to be anything, it was resilient, and he’d get by. 
 
Amidst all the chaos, even with the busy schedules, they were still growing closer and closer.  They often met at Teyla’s house, in Radek’s basement, or when all else failed, at John’s house during the many, many days his father worked late.  They didn’t talk about it, but for some of the members, this was a refuge.  Aiden’s grandparents, while apparently sweet and supportive, were still convinced their grandson would grow out of his homosexuality.  Rodney’s house was apparently a war zone (he had no hesitation about admitting this) and it was clear to all that Ronon could use as much time as possible away from his foster home.
 
John had been waiting for them to start pairing off.  At first, he had this horrible vision fueled by too many young adult gay books that everyone might start having sex without him, but as he realized that the rest of the group were as socially unfortunate as he was, he switched to waiting for the inevitability of group dynamics to assert themselves.  Sure, they all liked each other, but everyone likes some people more than others, and smaller friendships were bound to happen.
 
And happen they did, some predictable, some not.  Carson and Teyla found in one another similar artistic spirits, and somehow they ended up adopting Aiden into that group, apparently amused by his enthusiasm.  Radek and Rodney had initially been close, and remained so, but circumstances had intervened, which was how John eventually found himself sitting on a couch next to Rodney, thinking that he should be watching TV but completely unable to pay attention.
 
Rodney seemed to be having a similar problem.  “I don’t know what his deal is,” he ranted.  “If he’s going to run around wearing stupid makeup and stupid clothes then I think he should be prepared for someone to tell him he looks like an idiot.”
 
John turned to face him.  “Okay, but you maybe didn’t have to phrase it as him giving a bad name to teenagers everywhere, nor did you need to do the impression of him writing a letter to Morrissey.  The joke about his parents was real classy.”
 
Rodney glared, then softened his gaze.  “Okay, maybe not, but still.  I don’t know why Radek had to go running after him.” 
 
John ignored Rodney’s crankiness.  “I hope everything’s okay.”
 
Rodney snorted.  “What are you, our den mother?”  Still, he stood.  “We could go check if that would make your maternal instincts stop overreacting.”
 
John got up and followed Rodney to the window.  There, they saw Ronon sitting on the porch steps, Radek next to him, and as they talked, Radek reached over to hold Ronon’s hand.  John spoke before Rodney could say anything.  “Wow, you must have upset him more than we thought.”
 
Ronon’s hand closed around Radek’s, and as John and Rodney watched on, Radek pushed long hair out of Ronon’s face and kissed him gently.
 
John let the curtain fall.  Rodney straightened up.  “Well,” he said, smirking, “was that one my fault too?”
 
***
 
By the next meeting, it was official—Radek and Ronon were Going Out.  To their credit, they did their best not to make it too awkward, though that may have been due to Weir’s strict “No PDA” policy than anything else.  Still, though, they sat very close together, Ronon glaring at anyone who came close, Radek smiling with fond amusement at him, Rodney glowering off by himself.
 
No one knew quite what to do about the new couple.  Teyla was quietly proud, apparently thrilled that Ronon was interacting with another person.  Aiden was positively giddy that he now knew an actual gay couple, and Carson, veteran of drama club drama, seemed to be slightly convinced that they’d break up very soon.  Rodney just looked pissed, but John wasn’t stupid.  He knew that underneath the anger was a deep sense of loss, because it was clear to one and all that Radek was Rodney’s only friend, and now Radek had someone else he liked better.
 
He wasn’t sure when he started doing it or why it really happened, but John started sitting by Rodney.  He’d done the whole loner thing, and while he had it perfected to an art, Rodney just sat there and scowled, so John figured he’d try to take one for the team and attempt to cheer him up.  Of course it didn’t work that way—Rodney just bitched to John, but at least he was talking rather than stewing in his bitterness.
 
One day in February, John was eating his lunch when Rodney plopped down noisily and heavily next to him.  “Guess where Radek is.”
 
John looked around.  “Is this like Eye Spy?  Is he under the table?” 
 
Rodney rolled his eyes.  “He’s in California.  He’s visiting Stanford.” 
 
“Why didn’t he tell anyone?”  Radek had been debating between schools since October; the visit seemed to be suggesting a commitment.  John thought something that cool should have been mentioned to his friends.  It was California, after all.
 
Rodney crossed his arms.  “He’s all moony-eyed because he’s gotta leave his stupid boyfriend.” 
 
John rolled his eyes.  “Rodney, he’s your best friend.  Shouldn’t you be at least a little bit happy for him?” 
 
“No.”  Rodney looked mad enough to spit.  “It’s stupid, because how many people from high school actually stay together?  It’s just….it’s really stupid.” 
 
John poked him.  “And?”  He was fairly sure that if there wasn’t something else going on, Rodney would have kept up the rant.
 
Rodney sighed.  “And I signed the acceptance form for MIT yesterday.” 
 
John punched him lightly. “Really?  That’s awesome!  Congratulations!” 
 
Rodney waved it off.  “Yeah, yeah, whatever.  We didn’t…” He stopped abruptly.
 
Now John got it.  “Ohhhhhh.  You’re gonna be split up, huh?  That’s pretty harsh.”
 
Rodney wouldn’t even look at him.  “We knew we’d probably end up at different schools, but it’s still…yeah.”  He smiled without humor.  “Stupid, huh?” 
 
John shook his head.  “Nah.  It would be hard losing your best friend.”  It hit him like a sack of bricks.  “At least you’re going somewhere.  I’m just going to watch everyone leave me.  How bad does that suck?”
 
Rodney, never one for tact, replied “A lot.”  He paused.  “You are going to college though, right?  You’re not completely stupid, you could make it.” 
 
John shrugged.  “I’m thinking about it.  Not sure.”  The truth was, for all his bravado, he still didn’t know how to tell his father that yes, he really did want to work with planes, but not in the Air Force.  It would be like…John couldn’t come up with an accurate analogy, but he knew it would not be a fun conversation.
 
“You should do it.”  Rodney swallowed the last bite of his sandwich.  “Gotta go check something in the lab.  See you at the meeting.”  Just like that, he was gone.  Rodney was never one for small talk.
 
John looked around the cafeteria, spotting Ronon sitting alone.  John picked up his tray and moved over.  “So.  California.”
 
Ronon didn’t respond other than to repeat “California.”
 
John realized this wasn’t going to be easy and that, in the interests of being a nice guy, he had to ask.  “You okay?”
 
Ronon shrugged.  “I’m not stupid or anything.  I knew this wasn’t going to be forever.”
 
“It still sucks.”  John realized he actually felt bad about this, that Radek’s dream was going to split him and Ronon up, even him and Rodney up.  “I’ll still be here, though.”
 
Ronon almost smiled, which was about as much as he ever did.  “Yeah.  Thanks.”
 
They sat quietly after that, just eating.  It was pretty much like that for the next few months; Radek and Rodney ran around in a havoc of orientations, Teyla got into art school in LA, Aiden tried to share in everyone else’s excitement, and John and Ronon just sat back and watched. 
 
In March, John got an acceptance letter from University of Colorado.  He put it in his sock drawer, still not sure what to do with it.  Somehow, this was even more difficult than starting the GSA.  That had only been for a year; this was a decision about the rest of his life.  A small part of him said that it wasn’t too late, that if he really wanted to, he could still join the Air Force, but when he looked around at his friends, he realized that there was no way he could give that up, pretend to be someone he wasn’t.
 
John accepted admission to college.  He sucked up all his courage and put the acceptance letter on top of his father’s papers.  Two weeks later, he received a manila envelope from his father’s commanding officer.  There was a post-it note stuck to it, reading “Congratulations!  This must have got mixed in with your father’s papers by accident, figured you’d want it back to save.”    All John could feel at that was a sense of relief.
 
The months left of school eventually turned to weeks, turned to days, and after the last bell rang on the senior’s last day of school, the group met in Dr. Weir’s classroom for their last official meeting.  It was mostly socializing, exchanging contact information, new college addresses.  As the meeting started to wrap up, Aiden cleared his throat and said “We have something.”
There was silence as everyone looked around at each other.  John was totally baffled, even more so when he saw Carson elbow Rodney. 
 
Rodney jumped, rolling his eyes.  “Oh, right.  One rather undeserved award, coming right up.”   He pulled a piece of official-looking paper out of his folder and handed it to John.
 
John took it, reading the text out loud.  “We, the undersigned, in honor of his service to the LGBT population of Cheyenne Mountain High School, do proclaim John Sheppard to be King of the Gay.  May his reign be long and prosperous.”  The certificate was signed by all the other group members, along with Dr. Weir and Dr. Heightmeyer.  John was oddly touched and, for a moment, almost speechless.  “Thanks, guys.  I mean….really.  Thank you.”
 
Teyla grinned at him.  “We mean it.  Many of us were open about our sexuality, but it was very brave of you to start this organization.”
 
John found himself a little choked up.  “It was nothing, really.”  He smiled at them in what he thought was a cool, confident manner, and either they believed him or took pity on him, because the topic quickly changed to one less emotional.
 
Prom, due to scheduling difficulties, was held during the weekend between the end of school and commencement.  Radek danced with Ronon, much to the shock of the rest of the student body.  Carson danced with his date and with his best friend, Laura, who’d set a state record in track a few weeks before.  She led.  John sat and laughed at how happy they looked.  Rodney didn’t attend.
 
All of them, except for Carson who was busy with his date and a cheap motel, went to Teyla’s basement after that, spread out on her floor and her couch.  Rodney and Aiden came to join them, and Rodney brought with him some highly illegal alcohol.  They drank it, getting giddy and stupid and tired and nostalgic.  Aiden, the youngest, was the first to drop, curled up in a corner of the basement near the stereo.  Teyla eventually fell asleep in a recliner, Ronon and Radek tangled together in a pile of blankets. 
 
Rodney and John sat propped against the couch, staring straight ahead at the empty bottles.  “I will not miss high school at all,” Rodney declared.
 
“I’ll miss you guys,” John admitted, alcohol making him sincere.  “The rest of high school sucked, but you guys were cool.”
 
“You were okay too,” Rodney said magnanimously.
 
John tilted his head back slowly.  “Thank you.” 
 
Rodney smiled, looking more than a bit spaced-out. “College is going to be so much better.  No more of this petty bullshit.  Maybe I’ll even find a good boyfriend.”
 
“Good luck with that,” John told him.  “Hell, maybe I’ll find one too.”
 
Rodney’s grin became a smirk.  “Oh that’s right!  Poor Johnny’s never done anything with a guy before.”   
 
John sighed loudly.  “Yeah.  Poor me.” 
 
They looked at each other for long moments before Rodney said “I could fix that you know.”  John said nothing, only nodded, and Rodney rested one hand on the back of John’s head, pulled John toward him, kissed him hard.  It was awkward and clumsy and John started off not knowing what to do with the strange tongue in his mouth, but he quickly relaxed and found that hey, this kissing thing was kinda fun.
 
Rodney pulled back, a hint of awareness behind the drunken haze in his eyes.  “Are you okay?”
 
John had to smile.  “Very okay.  Maybe even better than okay.”
 
“Good.”  And that was it, no more movement, no more conversation.  They were both too drunk and too tired, but as they both drifted off to sleep, they were smiling.
 
Epilogue-
FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
 
Rodney McKay works for NASA.  He is still close with Radek and he speaks to John on the phone at least once a month.  He also sends him short, caustic, e-mails in the meantime.  They slept together during spring break freshman year and while it was pretty good sex for their first time, they agreed it probably wasn’t a good idea to keep it going.  He’s had rotten luck in relationships but is currently together with his partner of one year, an electrical engineer.
 
John Sheppard got a degree on aeronautics and along the way, he realized that while flight was awesome, what he really wanted to do is design.  He moved to California where he now works for Boeing.  He has been living with a pilot for the past five years and they are quietly happy.  The certificate is still in a frame on his wall.
 
The first thing Radek Zelenka did after graduating from Stanford was take the money he’d saved and make a security deposit on an apartment.  Two weeks later, he was leading a blindfolded Ronon Dex in.  When he took off the blindfold, he said “It’s ours.  This is our home.  We’re going to stay here, both of us.”  It was the first time Ronon ever felt he’d had a home.  Radek teaches at Cal Tech now; Ronon used his newfound security to go to college and is currently working on his Masters in Social Work.  They plan to marry should it ever become legal in California.  They have two adopted children and are, in Rodney’s words, sickeningly domestic.
 
Carson Beckett got his teaching certificate and ending up teaching English.  He runs the school’s drama club.  He is married with four children who like to put on plays in his backyard.  They all adore their Aunt Laura, especially when she introduced them to their new Aunt Katie.
 
Teyla Emagen runs an art gallery in New York.  She does not have a long term relationship.  She is blissfully happy without one.
 
Most people who’d known him when he was younger lost contact with Aiden Ford shortly after his 19th birthday.  It was almost too hard, too much worry about AIDS or other STDs, when he just didn’t seem to care about the anonymous sex in the bars, the risk he was subjecting himself to.  They all feared the worst until Carson got a new puppy and discovered Aiden was the vet tech, having finally got his life together.  He’s still looking for the man of his dreams, but is no longer in danger of scaring said man off with the power of his gay.
 
Elizabeth Weir and Kate Heightmeyer continued to run the GSA at Cheyenne.  At the last count there were 35 members, most of them staunch allies.   It’s not perfect, there’s still a lot of fear and hate, but all things considered it’s one of the safest schools in the state.  Most of the students find it hard to believe that there used to not be a GSA, and maybe that’s the best indicator of progress of all.