Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and all related items do not belong to me, only the stories and their related original ideas and characters are mine. No copyright infringement intended.
Characters: Rodney, four-year-old John Sheppard, Jeannie & the Millers, SG1
Spoilers: A few minor ones for S3
Feedback: Is a gift. It’s nice to give :)
Notes: OMG, wee!John ate my brain! That’s the only explanation for the fact that I cannot stop wanting to write him! I totally blame this on loriel_eris, as she continued to enable this ‘verse. It’s all her fault!
Lori, hope you feel better, this is for you *smooch*
Summary: It's at times like this when Rodney can't help his rising hopes that, one day, he might get the real thing back.
This ‘verse started with Five Ancient Devices Rodney McKay Wishes He’d Never Discovered and continues in Just an Ordinary Day.
Rodney McKay has always hated holidays. They’re useless celebrations, constantly used as an excuse for his staff to slack off. And he’s always expected to be cheerful (or at least to allow it in other people). Rodney doesn't do cheerful. It isn't in his nature and he hadn't ever appreciated the constant reminder that he had never had anyone to share said holidays with.
Things have changed since he arrived on Atlantis, not at first, but slowly and over time things had settled into a familiar pattern. He had friends at first, and that made holidays slightly easier to bear, and then friends became family...and he finds that he really doesn't mind so much at all. Not that his staff see any benefit to the change, but Rodney dreads holidays a lot less.
Or he had.
"Calm down before you make yourself sick!" The madness stops suddenly and John's wide eyes stare up at him, watering slightly. "No. Stop it. You're not allowed to cry. You just ate and running is only going to make you sick and I am not going to be the one cleaning it up again. Okay?"
"Okay, Wodney. I'll play nice." The boy nods and goes to sit on the chair in one corner of the room, pulling the book Lorne had given him for his fourth birthday and reading to himself, his small mouth chewing around the words in whispers.
Letting out a long-suffering sigh, Rodney turns back to his case, checking to make sure that Teyla has packed all of John's things correctly and making sure there's still room on top for his (second) laptop. The Athosian really hadn't appreciated having his half full duffel bag thrust at her with the command to 'pack what the terror needs for Christmas', but a quick apology, a serving of Athosian tea and John's puppy dog eyes had helped Rodney's case. He’s had a lot to do and he hadn't felt comfortable at the thought of roaming around Teyla's rooms for John’s clothing and the few toys he's accumulated since being, well, kidified. Teyla's room feels like yet another home he isn't part of.
It’s more than enough to make him wish that John lived in his quarters all the time. But it had been decided, quite quickly, that for John to have a normal routine, he had to have a set bedtime. Whilst Rodney had been more than willing to sacrifice his working habits to take care of the boy, Elizabeth had made an ‘executive decision’ that it wasn’t practical for him to always be unavailable at night. Instead, he and Teyla had John on time-share, as if they were divorced parents. Rodney hated it, but he couldn’t exactly argue with it, because Elizabeth had stuck her neck out to stop the SGC from sending John back to Earth.
"Wodney?” John says, shaking the man from his reverie. “A' we going to visit Jeannie and Kabe and Maddie?"
"Yes." Rodney frowns at the small noise John makes in return, but says nothing more when the boy remains quiet. He's just zipping up his bag (having sacrificed his second laptop) when there's a child standing right next to him and he almost dies of surprise.
"Oh my God! Don't be so...quiet!" he snaps and John blinks, nods and then returns to looking at him innocently.
"What?" He tries not to sound irritated and fails miserably.
"Will Kabe make us eat mush'oom food 'gain?"
Rodney smirks (his heart rate almost returning to normal) and doesn't correct John's second failed attempt at his brother-in-law's name. He wishes Jeannie hadn’t put her foot down when John had first called her husband ‘Kabe Man’. That had amused Rodney endlessly, still did in fact…and perhaps that was why his sister had put her foot down. "We'll speak to Jeannie and see what we can do."
"Good. That stuff was yucky."
"Yes, it was. Now go..."
"I know, go be quiet."
John's huff is almost as insulting as the fact that the boy is rolling his eyes in a manner far too old for him. It's at times like this when Rodney can't help his rising hopes that, one day, he might get the real thing back.
John loves SG1. Adores them to the point that Rodney knows he will never live it down when he's returned to normal. Because Colonel John Sheppard really hadn't liked them that much at all. Watching as John runs full pelt down the ramp and into Vala Mal Doran's open arms, it's clear to everyone that John really loves SG1. It's something that kind of annoys Rodney, to say the least. More than that is the fact that, although his small team mate adores Samantha Carter, he won't allow Rodney to get anywhere near the newly appointed full bird Colonel.
Rodney reaches the bottom of the ramp as John crows delightedly at being turned upside down by the woman in question and, yes, it's worse than being on Atlantis, because everyone still coos and fusses over the boy and treats him like he's actually four. Which, Rodney supposes, he actually is, but don't they care that he's likely to remember this when he's back to normal? Don't they care that Sheppard will be horrified beyond belief by this behaviour? And, no, Rodney’s not at all jealous because John never greets him with that much glee. Although, if Sam hadn’t explained to him that kids that age almost always got overexcited to see people they hadn’t seen in a while, Rodney might be pretty put out by the whole thing. He knows that, when they go back to Atlantis, John will be so overjoyed to see everyone that he might make himself sick. Not that Rodney knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that adoration; he chooses to believe that it’s because John barely let Rodney out of his sight and if that isn’t the case, then Rodney really doesn’t want to know.
As Sam finally puts John on his feet, he greets the general with a perfect salute that’s met with so many aww’s that Rodney rolls his eyes. John’s the SGCs little angel and he bitterly assumes that they all prefer him like this, because, even if he’s still causing trouble, it’s not quite the same degree of trouble…well, if you ignore that one time. Rodney usually does, because he’s pretty sure John scared so many years off his life that he lost more hair. Which isn’t something he needed help with.
Perhaps more surprising than anything, however, is the adoration John bestows on Teal'c — or Teek!, as John squeals delightedly on spotting the former first prime. Rodney can't explain it, neither can anyone else, and it's actually quite unsettling. No, that's not exactly what it is, but it's something.
Jackson, at least, doesn't seem to know how to act in front of John. Although Rodney supposes it may have something to do with the fact that Vala constantly points out that, 'wouldn't it be nice if they had one they could keep for themselves' whenever John's around. He can understand the resulting hesitance. No, he doesn't mind it with Jackson so much.
And then there's Mitchell.
He still has vivid memories of the day Colonel Mitchell first met the miniature John Sheppard. Whilst Rodney had always had issues with making friends as a child (telling people they’re stupid never goes across well at any age), John has no such problems. It had taken all of five seconds for them to become best buddies and Rodney had spent most of the evening scowling in his lab, until John had appeared from nowhere, crawled into his lap and promptly fallen asleep.
It had taken Rodney a few minutes to realise that he was being observed. Cameron Mitchell had been leaning against the doorway, his hands in his pockets and a wide grin on his face that not even Rodney could take as anything other than friendly.
Cam had continued to grin and drawled, “He’s a great kid… and, man, that’s just weird.”
Rodney remembers being instantly pissed off and not knowing exactly why. “Oh, yes, this must be so weird for you!”
“You don’t find it weird that that’s Shep?”
“We’re at war with Space Vamipres,” Rodney had muttered sarcastically, as if that made everything about the situation normal. When Mitchell had started to nod in understanding, he’d looked at the man incredulously. “Of course I find it weird.”
After that, it was almost as if they’d come to some kind of understanding. Were he anyone else, Rodney might even say they’d bonded. But, of course, they hadn’t.
It had almost felt like a betrayal at first; when John would team up with Mitchell to tease him, because, young or not, the fact that he’d all but been attacked by the man with a lemon, courtesy of Colonel John Sheppard, still smarts. It isn’t that John has never apologised (well, as much as a wince, a sheepish grin and a shrug convey an apology – and Rodney hates that, for John, they do) for the incident, just that it took the younger version of the man to explain that he only teases because Rodney’s his ‘most fave’wit pe’wson in the whole univewse’ and he’s ‘only playing’. Rodney would wish that John displayed his feelings in the normal manner, but he’s not sure he could handle that at all.
It takes them fifteen minutes to get out of the control room, by which time Rodney’s cursing the genealogy of the whole of SG1, as well as Siler’s, Walter’s, Dr Lee’s and the General’s. He’s angry that his best friend has become a spectator sport and more angry that his best friend is nearly five years old and completely incapable of realising just what’s going on.
Dodging the rest of the SGC isn't easy and, in fact, doesn't work at all, but after they're both checked out by Dr. Lam (an insult to Carson, Rodney continues to point out throughout the entire exam: "You really think Carson would have allowed us to go through the 'Gate if we were carrying something?"), they make a break for the exit. Sam's waiting in her car to drive them to the airport and they get in quickly and without fuss, for which Rodney's eternally grateful.
It’s almost as if Sam can sense he’s at breaking point, because she doesn’t speak to him. The journey is filled with the sound of the woman he used to fancy himself in love with trying to talk his best friend, who’s currently a child, out of a jealous huff because Rodney’s finally sitting next to her in a car. It’s all so messed up that Rodney doesn’t know whether he wants to laugh or cry. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t really matter, because they're heading to his sister's. He knows the worst is yet to come.
Whilst the flight had been stressful to the extreme, Rodney has to admit that it had been less than a disaster. But only because they hadn’t crashed. Rodney’s got used to flying over the years. He even finds that he doesn’t mind being inside the Puddle Jumpers and, although he’ll never admit it to Sheppard, he finds it relaxing at times. Flying through the air in a commercial plane next to a hyperactive four year old, however, has to be one of the most taxing experiences one can ever go through and Rodney knows he’s a far cry from being a patient man.
They collect their bags, with Rodney having finally put John on his shoulders, because (back problems aside) it’s likely the only way he’ll be able to keep an eye on the boy and stop him from throwing himself off something dangerously high. He hadn’t known that Sheppard’s death wish was something that transcended age, but the last time they’d travelled to visit Jeannie and her family John had disappeared and Rodney had been frantic. He’d been found about an hour later doing tricks on the conveyor belt at the baggage reclaim for a flight from London and Rodney had almost had to beat a tall, blonde, Scottish woman to death with his hand luggage to get the boy back. It isn’t an event he’s keen to experience again.
“A’ we day yet?”
“Does this look like Jeannie’s house?” Rodney asks irritably, ignoring the shocked look his tone receives from the mother next to him, whose brats he’d had to listen to fighting for the entire flight.
“Then there’s your answer.”
“What?” Rodney places their bags onto the trolley he managed to procure (one of the few wonders of having a small child as a bargaining chip – he also has to admit that being given priority boarding is another plus).
“When we getting Kissmass pesents fo’ Lizbet and Teya and Sam and Teek and Jeannie and-?”
“If this litany is going to contain everyone you know, stop now, I get the point. We can do some online shopping from Jeannie’s computer, we should be able to get it all delivered before we need to be back home.”
“Nope!” John bounces on his shoulders and giggles.
Rodney hissed and glares. Removing the boy from his perch, he frowns. “What do you mean, no? You’ll do as I say, young man.”
John just raises an eyebrow. “Wodney, dat never wo’ks.”
Rodney sighs. “I know, but it’s worth a try.”
“Lizbet says you got to take me shopping in a mall and you have to buy me pesents.”
“Well, Elizabeth’s not here, so-”
“Pease?” John pleads, wide-eyed.
“Oh, no, don’t do th- fine! But we’re only going once, we’re going when I say we’re going and you will be on your best behaviour, do I make myself clear?”
“As mud!” John crows, delighted with himself and Rodney groans, but can’t help smiling.
“I see you’ve got him under control, Mer.”
They both turn at the voice and John squeals and throws himself at Jeannie. His sister scoops John up and hugs him tightly, listening to the boy talking a mile a minute about so many things that are not for public consumption. At his wide-eyed look, however, Jeannie just shrugs and mouths, ‘who’s going to believe him, anyway’ and Rodney concedes the point. Most kids that age (from what he’s heard) believe in the fantastical. If he’s honest with himself, Rodney can think of a few wonders he’d believed in his own childhood. They hadn’t lasted long and Rodney doesn’t like to think about it.
“Where’s Madison?” he asks, changing his internal subject and interrupting John’s animated retelling of the last time they had to hide Atlantis from a passing Wraith cruiser. Rodney remembers less gunfire and fewer bad guys. In fact, they’d had no contact and the cruiser had gone on, none the wiser, but he learned early on to let John have his way in that respect. Besides, he has to admit that some of the devices John comes up with to get them out of their bad situations are pretty cool, especially in place of whatever actually happened.
“She’s at her ballet lesson,” Jeannie says, pulling him into a quick hug, in which John decides to get in on the action, given that he’s still in Jeannie’s arms. “Kaleb’s gone to collect her; they’ll pick up some pizza on the way home.”
“Pizza!” John almost screams and they wince, but can’t help smiling at him. “We don’t get pizza in ‘Lantis.”
“I know,” Jeannie says with a smile and it’s only the fact that the indulgent look on her face is one Rodney’s seen her give grown up Sheppard that makes him not care.
“No, put it back!”
“Wodney! I wan’ it!”
Rodney takes a deep breath, closes his eyes and counts to ten, before reaching down and plucking the offending item from John’s hands and putting it so high on the shelf that the boy can’t reach it. He tries not to kill the little brat when John just pulls another one off the shelf from where he got the first one.
“John Sheppard, you put that back this instant.”
“Fine, but I don’t know who you expect to pay for it, because it won’t be me.”
“Stop being mean!”
“I am not being mean, I am telling you that it is almost Christmas and you will be getting enough junk to haul all the way back to At- home and this,” he plucks the other one from John’s grasp, “will not be one of them!”
John’s lower lip quivers. Then his eyes start to water. His little hands curl into fists at his side and his chin drops to his chest.
Rodney gets all of two seconds warning before he feels his heart break and he curses everything in the entire universe for the fact that one crying four year old can reduce him to doing anything to make it stop.
“I really hate malls.”
“Is that what I think it is?” Jeannie asks, her mouth wavering in a manner that tells Rodney she’s trying very hard not to laugh her ass off at him.
“Not a word.”
“No, really, Mer, is that wh-”
“What part of ‘not a word’ are you having difficulty understanding?”
“I think it’s cute,” she says and Rodney’s glare intensifies.
“Okay, so maybe if it hadn’t been the purple one with the handbag, but-”
“Jeannie.” He likes to think he’s perfected his ‘I’m ready to kill you now’ voice since his first trip through the Stargate, but it has no effect on his sister whatsoever.
“Well,” she says, grinning at him. “It certainly answers a few questions.”
Rodney tries very hard to knock the door off its hinges when he slams it behind him.
“Wodney! Wake up! It’s Kissmass!!!!
“Wake up, Uncle Mer, it’s Christmas!!!”
“Oh, my God,” Rodney groans, letting out an undignified squawk as two small children decide he’s a trampoline. “Okay, okay, I’m up! I will also be broken in less than five seconds if you don’t stop jumping!”
“Sorry, Uncle Mer.”
The two not-quite-repentant voices make him groan again and he reaches out to flip on the lamp by his bed. Suddenly the main light in the room is blinding him and he curses, causing disbelieving giggles from the pair of miscreants still perched on his aching legs.
“Merry Christmas, Mer. Watch your language in front of the kids, please.”
“Yes, Merry Christmas, Jeannie. Thank you for blinding me. If this is what I can expect from today’s ‘gifts’ I’ll go back to sleep, thanks.”
“Meredith!” Jeannie’s laughing and it’s been so long since he’s really heard the sound that it startles him. He looks at her, standing in his doorway in her dressing gown, Kaleb behind her, and she’s grinning at him with so much affection that he suddenly misses her. Misses having her in his life so much that he actually feels the ache in his chest. Or possibly that’s the small, bony elbow that just winded him.
“Be careful!” he wheezes, shifting an unrepentant Madison off his chest. She giggles and John frown-glares at her, almost as if he’s not sure how to react.
“A’ you hu’ted, Wodney?” he asks in a small voice.
“I could use a new lung, but I’ll be fine,” Rodney gripes. John still looks unsure until Kaleb coughs.
“I think your Uncle Meredith is waiting for an apology, Maddie.”
Rodney half-glares at the man. He knew that it was silly to expect his brother-in-law to call him ‘Rodney’, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t asked. Repeatedly. His reaction, however, is missed, because he’s suddenly being smothered by a dressing gown as his niece throws her arms around his neck, choking him as she apologises. “Sorry, Uncle Meredith.”
“Mewdif!” John cries with a giggle and decides he wants a hug, too.
Well, Rodney can think of worse ways to spend Christmas morning.
Jeannie’s standing at the sink when he finally finds her. Her back is to him, so she doesn’t know he’s there and he takes the opportunity to watch her. He’s regretted their estrangement since his self-righteous anger dissipated, an event that came far quicker than he suspects Jeannie realises, but it wasn’t until he saw her in her own home, relaxed and singing Christmas carols with Maddie, John and Kaleb that he truly understood her decision.
She isn’t his mother and, whilst he’s always known that, it’s nice to see that her life, her marriage and her children, are turning out so much better than their own family life had been. Because he doesn’t think he could have handled her being miserable.
“Are you going to stand there all night?”
He frowns and then catches her gaze in the pale reflection in the window. She must have been watching him watch her.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, stepping into the kitchen. Her surprised and wry smile tells him that she’s commenting on his apology without saying a word. He rolls his eyes and picks up a dish towel, helping her dry off the glasses and put them away.
Dinner had been an adventure to say the least. With Kaleb’s parents and his and Jeannie’s mother in the same room, it had been set to be an unmitigated disaster. His mother’s first words (on seeing John), ”Who let you procreate?”, had been followed by an angry tirade about being kept out of her own ‘grandson’s’ life and her last (on her first taste of the dinner Jeannie and Kaleb had been preparing for hours) , “What on Earth is this awful concoction made from?”, had been when Jeannie had asked her to leave. Both he and Jeannie had been on edge, gritting their teeth and biting their tongues the entire time. Which had upset John and Maddie.
The uncomfortable silence following his mother’s departure, in which Kaleb’s parents had looked ready to flee, had been saved when John declared, “this tastes yucky, I fought we wew getting no mush’oom stuff, Wodney,” and the ice had been broken by laughter and Jeannie’s indulgent smile when she realised that she’d served him the wrong food and Madison was enjoying the turkey Rodney had bought. After that, he’d discovered that Christmas with family wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“So,” Jeannie says, pulling him back to the present, and he can tell that she’s waiting for him to say whatever he came to say. He’s not sure he has the right words yet, so he remains silent. She seems to understand, in that way that only Jeannie ever could, and they continue to empty the dishwasher in silence, the only sounds around them the squeals of delight from the back yard, where Kaleb, John and Madison (having seen off Kaleb’s parents) are playing in the snow.
“You really miss him, don’t you?” Rodney tries to look confused, but Jeannie glares. “Don’t try to play obtuse, Mer, I’m serious.”
They’re almost finished clearing up when he whispers, “Yeah. Yeah, I really do.”
When the kitchen is all but spotless, they both stop and watch the fun ensuing outside, identical smiles of endearment on their faces, albeit that Rodney’s is smaller. John is chasing Madison with a perfectly constructed sphere of snow and Rodney’s niece is merely kicking loose snow up behind her, in the futile hope that it’ll stop him. John’s military precision shouldn’t be so charming, but, in the child that he currently is, even Rodney finds it makes him smile almost indulgently. But he also finds it brings him hope that his Sheppard is still in there.
“Thank you,” Rodney suddenly blurts out, startling Jeannie for a moment. “For the books. I mean, for the toys as well, but…for the books.”
She gives him a wry smile. “I don’t think he knew what to make of them.”
“But he will and that means…well…a lot. That you, you know…”
“Mer, he’s got you,” she says simply and he’s so startled by her complete faith in him that he’s momentarily winded. “I know that, despite that comical frown and the stilted thank you I got, that when you fix this, John will appreciate those books. I know that because of the way you were looking at them. If you think he’ll like them, that’s good enough for me. Although, you can tell him when he’s changed back that I’ll be waiting for a more appreciative thank you.”
“They keep telling me to get used to it,” he says, the need to confide in someone finally overwhelming him. “Elizabeth’s so sure that he’s stuck like this. She’s going to try and talk him into growing up to be a diplomat, I can just tell. Lorne’s treating him like his son and I know he thinks he’d do a much better job than I am. Teyla’s been talking to Halling about having him put into classes with the Athosian kids, as if she’s his mother and I’m convinced Radek and Miko are planning to steal him from under me and adopt him. Ronon’s the only one I trust to not steal him away from me!” He takes a deep breath, aware that his fears sound almost ridiculous when spoken aloud. What he doesn’t expect is Jeannie grabbing his arms tightly and looking at him with a fiercely protective gaze.
“They will not take him from you, Rodney. Any of them. They know that you are the best person for him. Every single one of them. You will fix this, because you’re my big brother.” She lets out a breath, her fierce determination ebbing away, and smiles softly. “You’re my big brother,” she repeats. “And you can fix anything.”
“You called me ‘Rodney’.”
Jeannie chuckles delightedly. “So like you to pick up on that over everything else, Mer.”
“No, no, go back to Rodney. I didn’t say a word!”
She grins at him and turns back to look out the window. A moment later, she knocks to attract Kaleb’s attention. She taps her watch and her husband pleads, holding up his hand, indicating ‘five more minutes!’ before getting the kids to do the same. Rodney rolls his eyes, but is secretly amused when Jeannie relents.
“I better get the towels ready,” she says, squeezing his arm and heading towards the living room. She’s almost disappearing into the hallway when he finds his voice.
“You really think I can do it?” he asks softly, not even sure if she’s heard him until she stops and turns around.
“Meredith, I honestly believe you that can do anything.”
“Oh, you take care of yourself, you hear?” Jeannie’s hugging John so tightly, Rodney’s ready to warn her in case she cracks a rib. “Promise?”
“I pwomise, Jeannie.”
“Okay, and you have to promise to take care of Meredith for me, too, okay?”
John grins and crows, “Mewdif,” delightedly, as Rodney groans.
“You realise I will have to put up with that until he grows tired of it? Four year olds have an irritating tendency to stick to things like rabid terriers when they know they’re annoying someone.”
Jeannie grins. “I know.”
“I hate you.”
“You love me,” she says, passing John over to Kaleb for a goodbye, as she pulls Rodney into a tight hug.
He lets out a breath, sinking into her embrace. “Hey, how are you?” he asks softly, “How’re you doing?” in a matra that’s become necessary for him whenever he sees her. It’s his reminder to never push her out of his life again.
“I’m good,” she says and Rodney knows that she’s trying not to cry. “Take care of yourself, Mer. John, too, until you can fix this and then you promise me you’ll go back to protecting each other.”
“I don’t know if I can-”
“You can. Bring him back, Mer. You need him.”
“Yeah,” he admits, swallowing a lump in his throat. “I do.”
“I want a hug!”
They chuckle and pull apart as Rodney leans down to awkwardly accept his niece’s exuberant goodbye. He’s got comfortable with her since their first meeting, but Rodney doesn’t like goodbyes, so he feels ill equipped to deal with the sudden surge of sadness he feels at leaving them all behind again.
“You be good,” he says, feeling Madison nod against his shoulder. She pulls back and kisses his cheek.
“I love you, Uncle Meredith. Bring me presents next time, too!”
“Madison!” Jeannie cries, but Rodney just smiles. He discovered at Christmas that he could get used to being an uncle. He delights in spoiling Madison, because he can tell she takes after the McKay family; smart. That deserves a little spoiling in Rodney’s book, because it’s something he never really got himself. Neither did Jeannie and that’s why he knows she doesn’t really mind.
“Come on, Wodney, we have to go fly!”
Jeannie and Kaleb’s laughter is contagious and he finds himself chuckling as he stands up, but it fades quickly when he sees the abomination clutched in John’s tiny hands.
“Where did you get that?” he demands and John scowls at him.
“In de bin whayw you put it.”
“Did it occur to you that I put it there because that’s where it belongs?”
“Nope.” John looks unrepentant as he waits for Rodney to get over himself and get in the taxi.
“Fine! But I am never letting you live this down when you’re big again, do you understand?”
John just lets out a huff and waits for Rodney to get in the car. Jeannie’s smirking at them and Kaleb’s grinning as he reaches down to pick up Madison.
“Say goodbye,” Rodney finally says and John waves.
“Bye Jeannie, bye Kabe, bye Maddie!”
“Bye Johnny!” Rodney’s niece bubbles and even John winces at that. It’s nice to know that some things don’t change.
Whilst staying the night at the SGC might have been a good idea to let them unwind before making the trip home, the truth is that Rodney was glad they were getting underway within an hour. John was tired and cranky by the time they had reached the mountain and Rodney was secretly pleased when not even Sam or Mitchell could coax a proper smiling goodbye out of the boy. John had stuck his thumb in his mouth, cuddled the purple abomination and clawed at Rodney until he’d been picked up. And, despite his hatred for the thing in John’s arms, not even Rodney was cruel enough to let Daniel snap the photo he so desperately wanted.
He glances at his laptop and indicates that Sam needs to lower her voice. She winces and glances around to the left as if that will allow her to see a different view through her computer screen.
“I didn’t wake him, did I?”
“No, he’s out like a light.”
“Good.” She smiles at him and he’s suddenly very aware that, a few years ago, he would have done anything for her to look at him like that. Now, however, he’s waiting to see another grin that he longs for and, with Jeannie’s conviction renewing his faith in his own ability to do something about it, he thinks he might not need to wait for forever to see it again.
“I looked at the data you left me and thought I’d contact you while the Daedalus was still in range.”
“Do you see anything?”
She grimaces. “Honestly, Rodney? No, I didn’t. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. In fact, I was talking to Cassie, who’s a little upset that you didn’t let her say hi.”
“We didn’t have time to visit the entire state,” he says irritably.
“Fine, tell her I’m sorry. Did you give her Lorne’s present? He manipulated a four year old to make sure it got there, so if you lost it-”
“Yes, Rodney, Cassie got the present and there’s a note and a gift from her for Evan in the bag I gave you.”
“Right. Fine. You were saying?”
“Yes. Cassie thinks we’re looking at the whole thing wrong.”
“And with her years of experience and her vast knowledge on Ancient technology, not to mention the two PhD’s she has, I’m sure it’s a valid point. Be sure to tell her I appreciate her input.”
“Rodney, she has a point.”
“Then will you please get to it?” Rodney thinks it might be possible that he’s a little tired and cranky himself.
“She thinks it might be an idea to stop trying to reverse what the machine did to John and try to find a setting that does the opposite instead.”
“Think of it like a lever; instead of trying to throw the switch in the opposite direction, try to look for another lever instead, one that’s programmed to have the opposite effect.”
“Huh.” Rodney frowns. “Instead of trying to use the same equation to get the opposite answer… Instead of putting a negative in front of the equation-”
“-try to find a different equation that gives the answer you need.”
“That could work.”
“Listen, you should get some sleep, or you’ll be in no mood to deal with an energised child in a confined space come morning.” Rodney winces and she smiles at him. “When you get back to Atlantis, take another look at the machine and, if you want a fresh mind to look over it, send me what you can. If you think it’ll help, I’ll see if I can get the General to okay my visiting Atlantis.”
Rodney looks surprised. “You’d do that?”
“Rodney, as much fun as he is like this, we want Colonel Sheppard back as much as you do.” He refrains from pointing out that he doubts that very much and instead, and for a change, decides to take the statement as its intended.
“Oh. Thank you.” He clears his throat. “I’ll send more data when I get back. And speaking of, any idea when Dr. Lee might actually manage to fix the network leading to the midpoint station so that we can cut three weeks back to half an hour?”
“It won’t be three weeks, actually. When you reach the midpoint, you’ll be able to use the rest of the network, which will cut your journey time.” Rodney only grunts and she smiles, about to say something, when a voice interrupts her from off screen. She has a short conversation, before turning her attention back to him.
“I’ve got to go, but I’ll get to work as soon as you send me the stuff.” He can’t quite say thank you, but she doesn’t really expect that he will. “You’re okay?” she asks, seriously and, rather than brushing her off, he nods. “You’ll fix this. You know you can. If you need anything, you know SG1 will help. Just let us know what we can do.”
Not taking offence, but rather appreciating that she’s sincere, Rodney nods. “Yes, thank you, but its fine,” he says. Because it really is. It doesn’t matter what everyone back on Atlantis has been telling him, he knows that John isn’t going to have to grow up again (although, Rodney questions whether he ever did in the first place), because Rodney will figure it out. It’s what he does. And for John, he’ll do it no matter what, because Jeannie was right. He really misses his best friend, even if he doesn’t think he’d be able to admit it aloud again. Sheppard’s coming back; Rodney’s going to make sure of that.
Taking one last look at the sleeping boy curled up in the middle of his temporary bed on the Daedalus, he frowns. He’s also going to make sure that the first thing the Colonel sees is that hideous purple thing with the handbag. Because, really, Rodney’s had to clean up the kid’s puke; he deserves a little retaliation. Revenge is sweet. Or it will be. All he has to do is make sure he gets Sheppard back.
And, for the first time in a while, he truly believes that he will.
On to 'Nap Time' and 'Maybe'
Okay, so, yeah, this came from out of nowhere! I seriously intended to write more of the actual Christmas and less of the Rodney angst, but it kind of ended up this way and I kinda like it :)
Also, if you’re wondering about Lorne and Cassie, I have an outtake (Lorne babysitting John!) planned and it’ll explain that
Hope you enjoyed!