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Transmission Line Theory

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When he'd come to Stanford for the Computational Mathematics and Numerical Computing Conference, Rodney had looked forward to meeting Shcherbina L to discuss Shcherbina's paper on an intriguing model for the acoustic response of loudspeaker enclosures.

L Shcherbina turned out to be Lina Shcherbina, who, despite an unfortunately rhyming name and a steadfast and rather arrogant refusal to listen to any of Rodney's own ideas on Transmission Line Theory, was both female and hot. And if her big hair, tight skirt and heavy eyeliner were anything to go by, encouragingly trashy.

At the mixer after the opening remarks that evening, she asked him if he had a car. When he said he did, she said, "Is my birthday. There is a club nearby." She held out a flyer she'd apparently torn off one of the heavily-papered corkboards.

Once in his Avis sub-compact, she produced a lighter and a pack of Marlboros from somewhere among the many layers of rip-necked tee-shirts she was wearing and cupped a palm to light up.

"Are you kidding me? You can't smoke in here! It's a rental!"

She rolled her eyes, put the cigarettes away, and began rummaging in her purse, producing a can of Aquanet the size of an oxygen tank. Dipping forward and tilting her cloud of hair downward, she depressed the button, filling the car with a fog of perfumed compressed air and hair fixative. Rolling the window down, Rodney stuck his head out the window and inhaled the relatively toxin-free atmosphere of the Stanford parking lot, already seriously re-thinking this entire evening.

Head back in the car, he watched her stow the hairspray again, a little awed. It seemed that her purse was bigger on the inside, somehow—not unlike the TARDIS. The instant he turned the key in the ignition, Lina cranked the stereo up far louder than it really needed to be, and proceeded to wail along with the no-doubt equally hairsprayed glam rock singer the entire way to the club.

*

The bouncer at Nu Wave was a tough looking blonde in leather biker pants. She waved Lina right in but demanded a twenty from Rodney after studying his driver's license for what felt like sixteen years.

Once inside, it took a while for his eyes to adjust to the dim—as expected, Nu Wave was full of neon and club fog and it smelled like every person who'd ever been there had spilled every beer they'd ever ordered on the mercifully invisible carpet. It squelched slightly under his shoes as he tagged behind Lina, who bulldozed her way to the bar for a strawberry Bartles & Jaymes.

In her dedicated pursuit of alcohol, she bumped into a little brunette in white high heels, who spilled her own fruity-looking concoction on her flimsy little blouse and promptly began screeching about it. As the music was loud enough to ring in Rodney's skull like a brass gong, her volume was impressive. The guy she was with, some floppy-haired jockstrap in a pink polo shirt, attempted to blot her shirt with a cocktail napkin, but Brunette just slapped his hand away and stomped off, presumably toward the bathroom.

The moment the brunette had her back to them, Lina took the opportunity to sidle up to the admittedly pretty jockstrap and make eyes at him over the lip of her wine cooler.

"I'm so sorry about your girlfriend."

"It was an accident," the guy said with a shrug and a placid smile.

Lina toyed with her hair, displaying one hula-hoop sized earring and Rodney cleared his throat meaningfully. Tossing him a look of obvious scorn, Lina nevertheless introduced him to Polo Shirt. "Rodney McKay. I am Lina Shcherbina," she said, as he took her extended red-talonned hand.

"Nice to meet you. You wrote that paper on sound transmission, right?"

"You're here for the conference?" Rodney felt himself go round-eyed at the idea that Pretty Boy possibly had a brain under all that hair.

"Yeah. We're hosting it, actually."

"You go to Stanford? The math department at Stanford?"

Stanford arched one eyebrow and extended his own hand.

"John Sheppard."

"Dynamic stability derivatives? That was you?"

"Guilty as charged," Sheppard said, his warm hand closing firmly on Rodney's.

"I have not had opportunity to read it," Lina simpered. "When are you presenting?" She leaned forward on the mirrored bar, the soft blue glow of the neon piping casting deep shadows on her cleavage.

"First thing tomorrow. It's kind of a shitty timeslot, though. Most people will be sleeping off a party, and won't show up until after nine or so."

Lina, already on her second wine cooler, gave this due consideration.

"Likely so," she sighed. Sparing Sheppard a regretful glance, she walked away, leaning over the bar to drape an arm around the bartender and giggle in his ear.

"What just happened?" Rodney asked. It seemed disturbingly plain that any of the hot/gross bathroom sex Rodney had figured he'd had a chance at was now off the table.

Sheppard patted his shoulder consolingly.

"Women, huh?"

Rodney goggled at Sheppard, who just gave his shoulder another friendly squeeze and said, "Let me buy you a beer."

"You mean yours isn't coming back, either?"

"Kim? Nah. Besides, she was gonna break up with me anyway."

"Why?"

"Well," Sheppard leaned forward conspiratorially. He really was ridiculously attractive. "I was going to tell her that I made out with her housemate. That tends to piss girls off, in my experience."

"Why would you tell her that? And was her housemate hot?"

Sheppard made a weird horsey sound that could be loosely described as a laugh. "Well, I feel that honesty's important. And yes, McKay, her housemate is hot."

"Is she blonde?" Rodney demanded.

"He's a redhead, actually."

Suddenly John's pink polo shirt made a lot more sense. And considering the fact that he'd just bought Rodney a beer and was practically breathing down his neck, Rodney felt his prospects for hot/gross bathroom sex had just measurably improved.