Title: You Only Ever Lose One
Word Count: ~3000
Genre: AU, CRACK (Seriously)
Beta: F7 in Microsoft Word
Warnings: Just .. oh god. Technically it's none but, there SHOULD be some sort of warning for this.
Summary: John and Rodney are socks. Yes, socks.
Author's Notes: Happy Birthday, abremaline . This is all your fault. Also it is now 3am and I have training in 6 hours so the ending sucks, sorry.
Rodney was of fairly average height. He was comfortable and soft and 100% cotton. He lived in the Top Drawer with his partner, Katie.
They were work socks.
Rodney was a very smart sock, as proven by his marking of choice. He enjoyed going to work everyday and helping his human around the lab. He enjoyed attending conferences and pointing out loudly how wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong the other work socks were. Especially Jameson's retarded socks.
But he did wish that he could have just one bath to himself.
Cleaning time was his least favourite time of the day, because it meant he had to socialize. And not just with their Top Drawer neighbours, a variety of silks and cashmeres whose names Rodney had never bothered to learn. Oh no, all manner of riff-raff turned up at cleaning time. Like the ratty house clothes from Third Drawer and the backup work socks for days when Rodney needed to be changed at lunch for whatever reason. Or worse, the crass Unmentionables whose sole purpose in life, it seemed to Rodney, was to be stupid, crude and only ever talk about whose Unmentionables they met on floors, or the furniture and one time, that bathroom in the nightclub on Hill Street.
Yes, bathtime socialising was the bane of Rodney's cottony existence.
It was on one such occasion that he and Katie accidentally bumped into the sportswear. He hadn't quite been ready for the switch to the second spin cycle and had smacked straight into a woolen sweatsock that he had then yelled at to watch where she was going. Katie swiftly stepped in and apologised for him as usual, a really annoying trait but one that was probably necessary. The situation forgiven and forgotten, the sweatsock introduced herself.
"I'm Nancy, this is my partner John. We take the evening run around the nearby park."
And Katie and Nancy talked small talk, the weather, the news, the latest washing liquid, while Rodney pondered a particularly difficult equation that had cropped up in his human's work notes that day. He'd almost figured it all out when the male sweatsock, Jim? James? Jack? Jock? Maybe Jock, nudged him, making him lose his concentration. "What?" He snapped.
"Contemplating the universe, something your empty thread would never be able to grasp. How about we just spend this time together in silence until you can go back to your lousy Second Drawer existence."
Somehow, even after such a wonderful first impression, they became sort of ... well Rodney wouldn't go so far to say friends maybe, but they were friendly, in their own unique way.
One day, during the dreaded bath, John and Nancy didn't show up. Katie and Nancy had become very good friends, so the two pairs usually spent at least a little time together while getting clean. It was the only time they even saw each other seeing how they lived in different Drawers.
"I wonder where they are?" Rodney asked Katie during the fabric softener cycle.
"John and Nancy."
"Oh, well maybe they needed some time with just the two of them after yesterday."
Rodney nodded absently, thinking that might be it. John and Nancy had seemed tense around each other during the last few weeks. Rodney had suspected they might be fighting at home, a theory mostly confirmed by the huge argument they'd had only yesterday, in the middle of the spin dry.
"Hmm, yes, what? Yes, Katie?"
"I'm just going to have a quick word with a couple of the t-shirts."
"Yes, fine, I'll wait for you here."
Rodney swished and swayed as the water churned, surprised to realise he sort of missed his ... friend.
The next day while soaking, Rodney bumped into a new sweatsock, a sombre looking male being shadowed by a bright-smiling female. Rodney tried to ignore the flash of panic that came with the realisation that John and Nancy had been replaced.
"I'm Ronon. I'm a runner. This is Teyla."
And that was about it as conversation with Ronon went.
Two weeks later, Rodney was washing something unspeakable out of his toe when Teyla and an obviously sullen John drifted over. Katie and Teyla instantly went off to talk to one of the shirts, leaving the guys behind to look at each other awkwardly.
"John. Haven't seen you around lately."
"Yeah. Nancy, she ... well she left me. Right after that big fight. She just swished away and when we all went into the basket ..."
Rodney nodded. He'd heard about sock pairs who'd gone their separate ways in the wash. "So you and Teyla ... ?"
"Nah, nah it's not like that. Ronon went AWOL in Second Drawer for a bit and the human grabbed me out of Bottom because I was on the top of the pile, you know."
Rodney cringed. John had been relegated to The Bottom Drawer? That was serious. That was bad. That was one step away from being binned. He awkwardly patted John's top and the two spent the rest of the wash in silence.
Eight weeks later, the Bottom Drawer opened and Rodney slumped down next to John who twitched out of curiosity.
Rodney glared and stared up at the bottom of Third Drawer. "I don't want to talk about it."
John nodded and then bumped their tops together lightly. "Okay."
"It was because of you." Rodney said suddenly, one day. He'd been Bottom Drawer Scum, and boy was he never calling them that again, at least not out loud, for almost a week and it was driving him crazy. He didn't go to work anymore, he had no new equations to ponder, he was going around the bend, he was absolutely sure of it.
Rodney rolled over to lie on his heel and moved to look at John. "Me and Katie, it's what we were fighting about."
"Yeah. I was trying to figure out a way to smuggle you up to come live with us. I guess I got a little obsessed about it because six days ago during bathtime ... well you know how that ends." Rodney huffed, still a little annoyed at Katie's obvious stupidity. "I just hated the thought of you down here on your own."
"We're not exactly alone here, you know?"
This was true. The Bottom Drawer was stuffed almost to bursting with solo socks, Christmas gift sweaters, birthday ties and the clothes that no longer fit.
"Well, no, I know that. But it's cramped and well, I used to think, um."
"Yeah, you're a snob, Rodney. I had kind of noticed."
"I am not! Just because I'm smarter than everyone else in the entire Dresser and have little time for the morons I'm surrounded with doesn't mean I'm a snob. And that wasn't what I was going to say anyway. I meant ... um I sort of ... missed you." Rodney looked back to the ceiling, reminding himself to not call it the bottom of Third. "We only got to see each other like once a week when Ronon or Teyla would disappear and ... I missed our fighting and, you know, those things we do to drive each other crazy. So I got this idea of sneaking you up to live with us because well, you're my friend. And I thought that maybe I was yours. And that ... you might need a friend ... after Nancy left."
"You are my friend, Rodney." Rodney got a rare smile and a top-bump. "A good one, too."
"Can I ask you something?"
"What made Nancy leave?" Rodney watched as John shifted slightly to the side, avoiding looking at him. "Sorry, I shouldn't have ... sorry."
There was a soft sigh. "No, it's okay. I mean, you told me about you and Katie."
Rodney waited quietly as John seemed to gather his thoughts.
"We just .. we just weren't working out."
"A few reasons. For example, we used to argue about the job a lot."
Rodney frowned. "You didn't like jogging?"
"Well no, that's why I chose to be a scientist's work sock."
"I ... I wanted to join the Air Force."
Huh, that would explain John's markings. "Well, why didn't you?" And wow that was a really awkward twitch from John. Rodney frowned, wondering what could be so bad.
"Ah well, you know. It turns out I'm not Air Force material."
Rodney saw the outright lie in that vague reply. He knew for a fact the Air Force issued wool socks but he didn't call him on it. "So running was?"
"Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy running, I just ... I always thought I could do better. I wanted to fly."
Rodney nodded, thinking that over. "I didn't always want to be a scientist's sock." He offered.
"Yeah. For a long time I had to make a choice between science or being a sock for Russell T. Davies."
"The TV writer?"
"Yeah. I thought that'd be great, you know. Help him out with the new series of Doctor Who. I love that show."
"So why'd you choose science?"
Rodney smiled wistfully. "I love that show. If I was helping write it ..."
"Yeah, I get it. It wouldn't have been the same."
"No." Rodney nodded in agreement and they lay next to each other quietly for awhile.
"Do you regret your decision?"
"Sometimes I think I do, when I reflect on the whole thing of my partner left me for attempting to be considerate and I've been relegated to Bottom Drawer. But no, I don't. Not seriously."
And they were both quiet for a long time.
Rodney didn't know what was going on, and the truth was he never would find out what happened to the new pair of work socks, but one day the Bottom Drawer opened and he and John were pulled out, put on and taken to work.
Rodney was fucking ecstatic.
The entire day was spent introducing things to John ("And this is the computer, next to Jameson's desk.") catching up on handing out some positive-reinforcement to the other scientists' socks ("Hey! Jameson's socks! You guys are still morons and even the potted plant over there can tell your formula is wrong. And it's plastic!") and explaining many work related things to John ("Those are Jameson's socks. Total morons." "Right, got that the first six times, Rodney.").
He would have wept with joy into his hands, if he had hands. Or tear ducts.
That evening, he had a bath and he loved it. He swished, he frolicked, he spun himself over and over until he tied himself into a knot and John had to hunt down Ronon and Teyla to help him sort it all out.
And they went to work the next day, too. And the next. And then they were living in the Top Drawer and going to work every day.
Rodney was happy at work, and John was proving to not be as dumb as Jameson's socks so that was good. And John seemed happy, especially when there was a conference to fly to. Rodney found himself uncharacteristically happy when he heard they were taking a flight somewhere but Teyla and Ronon were too, so he figured it was a good friend-thing to do.
Rodney looked over, he'd been drifting around some bubbles with the latest formula buzzing through his thoughts and wasn't sure what the group was talking about. "What?" He said to Ronon, who shrugged.
"Why are you and John the work socks now. You don't match."
"Well no, I guess we don't. He's taller than me. And our markings are different."
"And you are of cotton while John is of wool."
Rodney nodded at Teyla's statement, thinking it over. "True, but our colouring is identical. And my markings wouldn't show to other humans because they're covered by the shoe. And John's are up high, covered by the trousers. And you can't really tell that he's wool and I'm cotton unless you're up really close." He paused, flicking his top from side to side. "I guess our human doesn't mind. We can pass for a pair." Rodney smiled as Teyla and Ronon nodded, accepting the theory, though he noticed John didn't seem to be paying much attention, staring blankly off at a group of Unmentionables reenacting Jackass skits over near the jets of water.
There was nothing special about that day. No major breakthrough in the lab. No new gossip on the line. It was just an ordinary bath. But the switch to second spin caught Rodney off guard again and he bumped rather hard into John. It was awkward, because, well, the position they ended up in, pressed against the side of the machine as they were, was not normally a position you would do with a friend and Rodney mumbled an apology as he tried to shift away. Which was difficult as a herd of shorts decided to amble passed right at that moment.
After a full ten seconds of fruitless shifting and squirming, Rodney noticed John was ... different. He wasn't sure how, it was subtle, but John definitely felt different. Softer, maybe. Like his thread was fraying. Or like how Rodney sometimes went when he ... oh. "Oh."
Rodney nodded. "No, it's ... my fault, clumsy. I'd give you some space but the shorts ... Well, they'll probably move off soon and ... sorry."
The shorts weren't moving off and jees, what? Were they setting up a volleyball game or something? Rodney tried not to look at John, he really did, but that was rather difficult seeing how pressed up together they were. And then the day just got worse as Rodney felt his own thread respond and great, he was starting to remember he really hated bathtime. "Sorry, I just ... sorry."
"Not your fault."
Rodney flinched slightly. John had moved into mumbling, something he rarely did and never when good times were being had. "Well look, in my defense it's a perfectly healthy reaction to such a close proximity to someone with a weave as attractive as yours, so let's not get all weird about it."
"You think my weave is attractive?"
Rodney snorted at the thought of John being surprised by anyone saying that. "Just because I don't have eyes, doesn't mean I'm blind."
"But, well, you know. Male sweatsock, here."
"Yes, I had noticed. Grasping the concept of gender isn't too taxing for a genius like me, you know." Rodney glared briefly back at the shorts, still not seeing a gap he could move into and away from the soft, wonderful feeling of John. "Is this the part where I point out I'm male in case you missed it?"
"Not really necessary. I ... well ... I noticed, if you couldn't tell. I guess you could say I ... um ... I'm ..."
"Not Air Force material?" Rodney said more to himself than John as a few things started to make a lot more sense.
"Something like that, yeah."
And Rodney knew this was the part where he was supposed to say something.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaany second now he would say something that would ... well, probably be the wrong thing and make this whole situation worse, but at least then he would be saying something and not staring at John like a moron.
But he didn't say anything. What he did was shift, ever so slightly, which caused his arch to wrap tentatively around John's heel. And then he waited for John to say something. Something like how he liked Rodney, but not like that, or that it was a bad idea, or that it would never work and they were fools for thinking about it, or that the others just wouldn't understand and it would be too dangerous.
John didn't say anything either.
And of course they grew old together and lived happily ever after and all that. After all, you only ever lose one sock in the wash.
I am so, so sorry. However, fear my bad Photoshop skills as I horrify you further with ...
Sock!Rodney, Sock!John, Sock!Teyla & Sock!Ronon
AU!Sock!Rodney if he'd chosen to be a sock for Russell T. Davies (Not done by me ... actually found this in a Google image search for a stencil to make something similar ... the internet is scary)
And may I please state now to my RL friends there will NOT be a sequel involving sock!mpreg and booties. There will not be a sequel PERIOD. So shut the fuck up, right now. My will is strong.