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: Keller, Lorne, five-year-old John, Rodney
Spoilers: Season Three, mainly for 'Sunday'.
Feedback: Is a gift. It’s nice to give :)
Notes: Okay, this is a little different. I mean, yeah, it's set in the wee!John 'verse and he's certainly in it, but this is a lot more about the other characters than the rest of the snippets. It started because loriel_eris and I were having a flailing email conversation that involved Lorne (as all good flailing sessions should) and I started going on about how I really wanted him to have someone in wee!John's 'verse, because he'd lost Janet and he's all alone and, yeah, so I was debating Elizabeth (but couldn't see it anymore, what with him having blackmailed and threatened her to do her duty to John) and wanting it to be Keller, but Janet was a medic and Carson, but yeah. Anyway, she wrote me a wee!John fic!! Which is awesome! She mixed up some of the wee!John timeline (through no fault of her own, I write it in non-chronological order and don't always make it clear that even the sections in the fics I post aren't all happening in the same day/week etc). So, she's off fixing it and finishing it and it will be posted. But to help her with the fall out of the last fic and how to work in a new relationship with the Janet-ness he's been thinking about, I wrote this...
| Five Ancient Devices Rodney McKay Wishes He’d Never Discovered (number three) | Just an Ordinary Day | Christmas with the Millers | Nap Time | Maybe (same post as Nap Time) | Show Me How Tight You Can Cuddle | Sniffles | Little Troublemaker | Paternal Instinct |
* * *
The first time she sees him after, her heart breaks. It's not just because he's five years old and lost one of his best friends, not just that he's got so much of the grown up Sheppard in him, it's that she has this feeling that he'll have to live through this pain all over again when he gets back to being himself. And once is more than enough for any of them.
John enters the infirmary at a subdued pace, shuffling along behind McKay's legs in a way that he doesn't do unless he's tired or sick. He's got one hand clutching the back of McKay's trousers and the other gripping the triangle at the top of his cuddly toy -- the one that she's sure Rodney hadn't the heart to try and take from him today. They all need a little comfort sometimes and she can still remember the look on Evan's face when he found her yesterday; like he didn't know which way was up, didn't know if it was day or night and it was almost like looking into a mirror, because two steps and she was falling apart in his arms.
"Hey John," she says softly, her voice catching a little in her throat, as she crouches to his eyelevel.
He sniffs and holds up his hand, sarcificing his toy rather than his grip on Rodney. "Sore," he says and she frowns, spotting the splinter in his finger. It's swolen and red and she has the feeling that it's been there for longer than it should have been. She reaches out and gently takes his hand, trying to figure out how deep it is and how much it's going to hurt the little guy when she takes it out.
Thankfully, it's not too bad and something tells her that he's hurting a lot more elsewhere. Somewhere deep inside his little chest.
"Okay, let's take a look at this," she says and gathers him in her arms for a quick hug.
"Jenn'fe," he says and she looks down at him, as his eyes fill up. "I wan' Cawson."
She swallows and nods. "Me too, John. Me too."
* * *
She's been in Atlantis a long time; longer than she thinks a lot of people realise, but she's always been happy to sit in the background and follow Carson's schedule, help where she can and just generally take in the wonder around her. She has the gene, not strong enough that anyone would have noticed -- the world doesn't light up for her the way it does for John and Evan and a few of the others -- but enough that she didn't take up Carson's offer of the gene therapy. She gets by and what she can't do on her own, others will gladly do for her. She loves the city, loves the gentle song she sometimes hears in the back of her mind and loves being a part of something so wonderful. She was happy with her life for the first time in a long time. Being CMO wasn't her plan, it wasn't her ambition and she really didn't think that she'd ever enjoy it. She feels almost guilty that she does.
"Yes, John," she says with a smile, happy to have the little guy to herself for a while. She's always enjoyed John's company -- old or young -- and she loves to watch the city sing for him.
"Is Wodney sick?"
She frowns, puts down the little shirt she was folding and crosses the room to sit by him on the floor. He's playing with the toy fire engine Caldwell brought him back on the Daedalus' last run, but he's not fooling her for a second. He never could.
"John, what makes you think that?"
"John, if you think Rodney's sick, I need to know so that I can help him."
He stands up and holds out his hand to her. "Show you."
* * *
Her back is killing her by the time they reach the science labs, but she hadn't wanted to let go of John's hand. Despite Evan's ability to now treat John like any child he loves, Jennifer can't help but remembering that it's the Colonel and would he be happy to know that she'd just plucked him of the ground and settled him onto her hip whenever she felt like it. And she's not ready for whatever else might follow. It's not that she dislikes children, she doesn't; loves them in fact, but she's well aware of Evan's thoughts on the matter and isn't sure she's ready to go there. Not yet. He lost a lot when his last real relationship ended and the thought of meeting his almost-step-daughter kind of scares the crap out of her. She's not ready to complicate matters further.
John turns to her and holds his finger over his mouth, shushing her before she can make a sound and tugging on her hand a little. They creep forward and look into the room. There's the normal hustle and bustle of the science team; Radek and Miko conversing over a laptop that seems to be beeping every few minutes, Erin typing furiously on another and Irina and Rajesh running tests in the background. There are other people coming in and out of the adjoining room in the background and chatter filtering through, but it's Rodney that has her attention. He's hunched over his laptop, his face taut and drawn and suddenly she wonders how on earth she missed it.
Rodney's exhausted. Not just tired, but looking like he's at the onset of a deep-to-the-bone exhaustion that is killing him by inches. She knows that Carson and John were his best friends, knows that she's so very grateful that she didn't have to see his face the day he came back to Evan's room looking for the only thing he had left of them; the five year old child that seems to know so much and yet be so much less than Rodney needs. Through no fault of his own. But what's worse is that Jeniifer is pretty sure that John knows; somehow she thinks he just knows that he's meant to be more than he is.
She catches Radek watching her, sees the look of relief in his eyes that she'll do something and suddenly all that pressure of being CMO is once again on her shoulders. Another gentle tug on her hand and she looks down to see the same look reflected in John's eyes.
She takes a deep breath and enters the lab, bringing John along with her for support, but whether she's supporting him, or he her, she's not entirely sure.
"Rodney," she says softly and the man jerks as if a gun has just fired right next to him.
"What? What's wrong? John, are you hurt?" He's off his chair in seconds and Jennifer can see a raw panic on his face that almost kills her.
"He's fine, Rodney! He's fine!" She crouches down, both of them now level with John.
"But you not," John says softly. He sniffs. "Jenn'fe take ca' of you."
"I...I'm fine, I'm-"
Jennifer reaches out a hand to squeeze Rodney's arm. "You're not fine, Rodney. And you're scaring John. You're scaring all of us. Come on."
It's a testement to just how exhausted he is that he comes without another word.
* * *
"Is Wodney gonna be okay?" John asks as she settles him down for the night.
"Rodney's going to be fine, John. I promise. He was just tired." Jennifer resists the urge to lean over and ruffle his hair. "He's going to sleep in the infirmary tonight, where Ryan and Alissa can look after him. And I'll take care of you until he's better, or until Teyla and Ronon get back."
John nods solemly. "Wodney's gonna fix me," he says decisively, glancing up to see Evan smiling at them from the doorway.
It takes a moment for what he's said to sink in, but they look at each other in shock, before Evan crosses the room to crouch down at her knees, reaching a hand up to ruffle John's hair and she feels a moment of jealousy that she doesn't feel she has the right to do the same.
"John," Evan says. "Do you understand what it is that Rodney's trying to fix?"
John shakes his head, then shrugs a little, like maybe he does know more than he's letting on. "Nope. But Jeannie and Kabe said he's gonna make it all bette'. But fi'st, Jenn'fe has to make Wodney bette'."
Evan grins up at her and she feels her heart skip a little. "She will." He turns back to John, leaning up and over him to tickle him. John squeals and she hits Evan on the back.
"We're supposed to be calming him down for bed." She notices the exchanged glances a little too late and before she knows it, she's bodily covered by a tickling five year old and Evan's deft fingers are already in the ticklish spots at the sides of her hips. She screams and laughs until she too exhausted to move and finally John yawns, stretches out on top of her and falls asleep before she can even think about moving.
She lets out an exhausted groan and tries to move. John's effectively pinning her to the bed and, whilst he's very small and skinny for his age, he's heavy enough to make moving difficult. She grins and turns her head to find Evan looking at her with something in his eyes that makes her stop thinking at all.
* * *
They've never really talked about kids. Never really talked about Janet, either, but then Evan finds it hard to talk about the important things. She understands that, understands that it's all about his actions. But there are times -- times she's likely to remember in minute detail until the day she dies -- that he'll just blurt something out unexpectedly and her heart will jump into her throat and she'll find herself speechless whilst he stutters and stammers out what he wants to say. Ineloquently and just so very Evan and she finds that it's enough to make her want to just hand over her heart and never ask for it back. She isn't entirely sure she hasn't done that anyway, possibly had already done it before he first said those three important words. It seems so long ago, when she thinks back and remembers that it was the first day they had a pint-sized John on their hands, but she can recall the memory like it was yesterday. And then there's Janet. That ghost in the room that she sometimes feels she could never compare with, because no matter that they called it off before he lost her, he'll always love her, because Jennifer's pretty sure they weren't finished saying goodbye before she died. And Cassie's as much his as if he were her real father.
"Penny for them."
She jerks and looks up, smiling as he simply plucks her out of the chair and sits down, settling her on his lap. They both stare at the child in Jennifer's bed in silence. Sometimes she thinks she's not so good at this stuff herself.
"He knows, doesn't he?" she says evenutally. They'll get around to her thoughts soon enough, but she wants to know that she's not the only one who's figured it out.
Evan sighs, his arms tightening around her a little. "Yeah. Yeah, I think he does. Or he knows something. I don't think he remembers so much as he's heard a lot more than he was ever meant to."
"I'll miss him, but then I remember that I already miss him. He used to come into the infirmary some nights. I think he'd come on auto pilot whenever Rodney was there. He'd pretend he was coming to see Carson about something, but he just wanted to look out for his team. After a while, he'd come in when I was on night shift sometimes, not because anyone was there, but just to talk and keep me company."
"He didn't sleep much," Evan murmurs and she nods.
"I know. I offered him something once and he just gave me this look and said he'd be fine. I used to think he was untouchable. I mean, he came in hurt so many times, but... he always got out of it and... I keep waking up and thinking, this is the last day we'll have him like this, because his lucks about to come back and he'll be the Colonel again."
"Rodney will fix it."
"I know, I've never doubted that-"
"Sometimes I think we're the only ones who never do."
She smiles at him. "No, we're not. There are a lot of people who have faith that Rodney will fix this. They just lose it sometimes, because things happen and they know that the Colonel could help, but he's not here. And I know we'll get him back, I just..." She looks at John again, sleeping soundly and letting out little sighs in his sleep. "I'll miss him."
She remembers the first time Evan came back from the nine hour babysitting stint Rodney had forced on him. Remembers all the times since when she's wished she'd had a camera and the times when she had had a camera. But Evan very quickly got over thinking about John as Sheppard (had had to given the number of times the little tyke had stripped naked and gone for a jog around the city) and she knows he encouraged Rodney to think about doing the same, because they need to care for John as he is; he's a child and he needed them to remember that, too.
"Do you ever think about what your life would be like if you and Janet had had kids?"
She feels him freeze, his hands stopping the gentle, soothing movement up and down her arms and she almost wishes she'd kept her mouth shut.
"I... sometimes. I guess."
She nods. "You never really talk about her. I don't expect you to," she hurries on, turning to face him. "I just... I mean, this must be hard."
He takes a deep breath. "I think about her sometimes," he says and she can't help but feel like he's just stamped on her heart and handed it back. "But..." he signs and closes his eyes. "I'm not good at this. You know I'm not." She nods, but she won't let him off the hook; she needs to hear this. "I loved Janet. A lot. She and Cassie were my whole life for a long time. Cassie still is, I guess. Doesn't matter how far away she is. But... we weren't meant to be."
"You don't know that. You don't know what would have happened."
"That's true, but I do know what wouldn't have happened." She frowns and he shifts a little, sitting up straighter and rubbing his hands over his face. She's still sitting on his lap, curled up and clutching at her legs now. "Janet and I could have got married. We could have had kids, built a life, been happy and content. But that's not what we wanted." At her frown, he smiles. "It took a long time for us to realise that we wanted so much more for each other. I wanted her to have someone who could give her the whole world and make her feel like she deserved it. I wanted her to meet someone..." he takes a moment to keep himself composed and she reaches out to take his hand. "I wanted her to be loved by someone who wanted her so much that it blinded him and made him cherish the ground she walked on. I loved Janet, but not like that. And she wanted me to have the same. We were best friends, who loved each other very much. But I wasn't in love with her by the end. And she wasn't in love with me."
She stays very still, staring not at him, but at their joined hands. She knows he's watching her, knows he's waiting for her to finish processing.
"You know," she says softly, a few moments later. "I think that's the most I've ever heard you say."
He lets out a huff of air that isn't quite laughter. When she remains quiet, he uses his free hand to tilt her chin until she's looking at him. "I think about kids, too," he says softly, glancing briefly at John. "And I think about you. All the time."
Her breath catches and she smiles slowly. "I think about you, too."
"We're not quite there yet, are we?"
"Not yet," she agrees, almost wishing it wasn't true. "You're still not over her."
"I am," he argues. "I'm just not over losing my best friend. Speak to Rodney, he'll tell you it takes a while."
"Don't say it like that, that's not fair."
He sighs. "I know, I'm sorry."
"I know you are."
"You'll never be her, Jenny, and I don't want you to be." He tugs on her chin until his lips brush over hers. "I want you to be you. Only you. For as long as you want me."
"Even if that's a really long time?"
* * *
"Jenn'fe', is Wodney weally bette'?"
"Yes, John," she says, once again banking the urge to just scoop him up. It's been two years, she really should be used to it by now. "He's had lots of rest and he's ready to take care of you again."
"Good," he nods decicively. "I like stayin' wif you and Evan, though."
She grimaces. She knows John's seen them together, spent time with them together, many times before, but this is the first time he's stayed with them both for over two days. She supposes it's rare enough to have more than a few nights where they actually get to be together.
"John, do you know what a secret is?" The boy nods, regarding her warily. "Well, you see, Evan and I together, we're kind of a secret."
John looks at her like she's a little crazy. "That's silly."
"Maybe, but...well, for now..."
"I can keep a secwet."
She grins. "Atta boy."
There's a noise from behind her as Rodney bumbles into the room. He looks better than she's seen him for a long time and there's a determination in his eyes that makes her smile. She's never doubted Rodney's ability to get John back to himself, because she's seen what this team, what this entire city is capable of when it comes to looking after their own. But it's when she sees that look in Rodney's eyes that she just knows it won't be much longer.
"Feeling better?" she asks, already knowing what he'll say.
"I was fine," he protests and she smiles indulgently. "But...yes. Thank you. I guess."
She nods and he reaches down to ruffle John's hair, glaring the minute he spots the stuffed toy at the boy's feet. Sometimes she thinks John hates the thing, too, but keeps it just to bug Rodney.
"So, is everything okay?" she asks, referring to the comm call from Elizabeth that had him running out of the infirmary about twenty minutes before.
"Yes, yes. Disaster averted. Again."
"Thank you," she says, startling him. It's not like everyone in the city doesn't know that he's usually the one to fix things, but she supposes it's rare that he hears how much they appreciate it.
"Well...yes," he blusters. "I should think so. And. Well. You're welcome." He clears his throat, avoiding looking at her. "So, I need to finish things up in the lab. Can you... I mean-"
She grins and looks down at John. "What do you say to one more night sleepover, John?"
The boy grins and nods, clearly just happy to have Rodney back in working order. It's not as if it's unknown for John to stay with other people in the city, although it's usually Teyla or Evan, and she's glad she's trusted enough to look after the boy.
"Excellent. Thank the Major for me, too."
She blinks and opens her mouth a few times. "Oh...I don't- I mean wh-"
"Oh, please," Rodney rolls his eyes. "Even I'm not that oblivious." He says goodbye to John, whilst she's still trying to recapture her voice and before she knows it, she's standing in the room with just a grinning five year old.
"Oh, God." She wants to ask. Wants to know how many people know, whether they've been fooling anyone and why no one told her they knew. She wonders if Evan knows that their secret's out and whether or not he cares.
"Jenn'fe'," John says, startling her out of her thoughts. He yawns. "I'm sleepy."
She wants so much to just scoop him up into her arms and carry him back to Evan's room, but she won't. She wants the Colonel to come back, wants him to want to look her up on nightshifts and be normal again, so she won't. She walks to the door, but soon realises no one is following her.
"John?" she asks, heading back to the spot she left him.
John cocks his head to the side, gives her a full blown smile -- the kind she's not had from him since before Carson died and she 'took his place' -- and holds his arms out to her. She starts, takes a moment to realise what he's asking of her and then her hand flies to her heart as she says, "oh", sounding a little awed. Evan's words ring in her head again and she can almost see him not-quite-berating them all in the conference room again.
We've got to remember that he's a little boy. He needs us to remember that.
"Yeah," she says softly to herself. "He does."
Smiling, she reaches down to him and picks him up, settling him on her hip as he yawns, rubs his eyes and then nuzzles into her neck for a moment before sticking his thumb in his mouth and promptly falling asleep. She carries him down the corridor, pretty sure she's smiling like a loon the whole way to Evan's room.
She palms the door open, not even realising that she hasn't bothered to check the corridor to see if it's empty (two botanists and a marine having a conversation about ten feet away suddenly have something new to discuss), and spots Evan immediately. He's sprawled face first on his desk, his entire body contorted into a position that he's going to hate himself for later. She rolls her eyes and leaves him for the time being, getting John ready for bed and trying not to make indulgent, gleeful noises at the adorable sounds the little boy makes. After he's curled up on the spare mattress they've had set out for him, she turns back to the man drooling on his paperwork and crosses the room.
"Evan," she says softly, brushing her lips against his cheek. "Come on, sleepy head, time for bed."
He stirs and turns his head for a quick kiss. "I'm not John, you know," he mutters, groaning as he sits up and stretches. She laughs and pulls him to his feet.
They get ready for bed, much in the same way they have the last few night; quietly, so as not to wake John, and following a routine she didn't even know they had. They're curled up, Evan holding her from behind, his chin on her shoulder, when she speaks again.
"So apparently we're not as much of a secret as I thought," she says, almost afraid about what his reaction might be. She's not expecting his soft laughter. "You knew!" she accuses, twisting, so that she's looking at him.
"I'm the Military CO in charge of the base," he says, his eyes twinkling. "Of course I knew."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
He shrugs. "You wanted to get used to it. You needed to get used to it. And you needed to be ready to accept that I'll always think about Janet, but that doesn't mean that I'm still in love with her."
"Yeah," she says softly, finally, possibly letting herself believe that maybe he's telling the truth about his relationship with Janet. "Yeah, I guess I did."
"You about done?"
She smacks his arm. "Go to sleep, Evan."
"Good night, Jennifer."
"I swear to God, the next words out of your mouth had better not be 'Good Night, John Boy' or you're sleeping on the floor."
She settles herself back against him as he laughs, her gaze falling on the boy sleeping a few feet away, and wonders if maybe they're closer to being there than they think.
* * *
As I said, it's more of a wee!John 'verse fic than a wee!John fic. I hope you enjoyed it anyway :)
Continued in Prodigy