kyizi: (teyla)
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Life in Miniature Motion
By Kyizi

Disclaimers etc in Part One

Previous Parts
| Part One | Part Two | Part Three |




* * *

Part Four

* * *


The air of the mainland has a sweet floral smell that Rodney’s never scented anywhere else and it sticks sickly in his throat. He’s spent almost two weeks in a mind-numbing daze, caring for a grieving child and wondering where the huge gaping hole in his chest had come from.

Rodney isn’t really sure when it was that he started to care with such reckless abandon, isn’t really sure that there was ever anyone other than Jeannie he’d ever wanted to care for before coming to Atlantis. It makes him angry, makes him so angry that he can barely breathe, can’t speak because the grief is too raw and he’s never understood before that it could feel like this. He lost Sheppard more than two years before, was given an impostor of a child to look after in his place, and now the universe continues to take from him.

He wants to blame Carson, does blame the stupid Scotsman for being noble and brave and caring and all the other things that Rodney had been so good at avoiding before coming to Atlantis. He blames Carson for being one of his best friends, blames the man for making him care, but mostly Rodney blames him for dying to save someone else when Rodney can’t seem to save anyone.

There’s a sound behind him and he knows without turning that the puddlejumper he saw overhead about ten minutes ago has landed some distance away and its occupants have finally reached him. Or rather, occupant, because he knows there’s only one person coming, knows, without turning, that it’s Lorne approaching.

For all that Sheppard and Teyla and Ronon are his family, for all that John is his home, it came to him with a startling clarity when he was standing over Carson’s coffin, that these last few years with John have somehow made Lorne the person who would seek him out. He doesn’t try to find a place to put the man, doesn’t try to understand what kind of relationship they have in Atlantis’ dysfunctional family, just accepts that Lorne’s here and that’s kind of the way he wants it. The man hasn’t replaced Sheppard, because Rodney would never let anyone take that space, but he realises that he has a friend and, maybe, more so than Teyla’s understanding and Ronon’s silence, he needs someone separate from his immediate family to really see him right now.

Lorne takes a seat next to him, enough space between them not to be imposing, and just settles down, doesn’t speak, doesn’t look at him with eyes that demand answers or outpourings of feelings that Rodney couldn’t hope to quantify even if asked. He just waits.

“I failed him,” Rodney finally says, his voice scratchy, throat raw. “I failed them both.”

“No, Doc, you didn’t. You didn’t fail either of them.” Lorne clears his throat and Rodney feels the weight of knowledge that he’s not the only one hurting. “Carson wouldn’t blame you. John doesn’t blame you. And neither will Sheppard.”

Rodney nods, full of gratitude even if he’s not sure he really believes it. He swallows the ball of grief rising in his throat, and glances at Evan, but he doesn’t say anything, doesn’t really think he can. The look in the man’s eye tells him that he gets his thanks across anyway, because Lorne has faith that he’ll fix this, as does Keller, and Rodney wonders if that’s part of what keeps them together, that understanding between them, that unfailing faith that it will all work out in the end.

They sit there for a long time, watching the sun sink slowly into the horizon and it’s twilight before they both stand, moving with no more than an unspoken agreement that it’s time.


* * *


The loss of Carson affects Atlantis in more ways that Rodney had initially realised. He sees in the way that Keller (and yes, he’s finally learned her name) is tentative in every decision, in the way that Ronon and John sometimes sit together in silence, and the way that Teyla slowly manages to draw Elizabeth once more into her confidence. They’re all feeling it and Rodney sometimes has to stop himself from screaming at them all about his own loss, because he knows that isn’t fair, even if he feels that Carson was his more than anyone’s.

Cadman takes to sitting in his lab more often than not when she’s in the City. She still spends time with John, still chases him and reads with him and makes his face light up and delights in the way she’s always had of coaxing a gentle smile out of the boy, but, often, he finds that she’s just there, even when John isn’t. Rodney doesn’t even mind that much, partly because, even though she and Carson weren’t still together in the end, he knows that she feels that loss more than most, but mostly, because he thinks that she understands how much he lost that day.

Rodney deals with it in much the same way he deals with everything; by losing himself in his work. He spends hours poring over information in the database and trying hard to make sense of the readings he’s getting from the now almost-fully-functional (even if they don’t know how to work it) machine. It’s not until he finds a teary-eyed John and a worried Keller standing over him in the lab one day that he realises just how much he’s started to ignore everything else, including himself.


* * *


“Ohayo gozaimasu, Miko!”

Rodney turns his head and sees John chattering away at Kusinagi’s desk in patchy phrases that he doesn’t understand. He feels an inexplicable surge of jealousy at the bond that’s risen between his scientist and his…well, what was once his best friend, because although it had been his idea, it had actually really been more of an off hand comment when he’d wanted nothing more than five minutes to himself in order to finish some equations. Instead, he’s found that he now has one less hour a day with John than he’d had before and in place of requests for extra algebra, he now finds John spouting incomprehensible phrases at him.

If Rodney’s honest with himself, he really doesn’t mind so much that John’s spending time with Miko. Doesn’t mind because he’s seen her look out for John, has seen her alone and speaking so little to those around her that to see her so carefree with the boy makes Rodney feel like a total heel for ever wanting to take John home at the end of each lesson. After losing Carson, Rodney had lost himself a little along the way, had worked furiously to try and make the loss seem like less, had tried so hard to forget that he’d made himself ill. He had seen Miko then, as well, looking over Rodney when he’d come back to work after those few days Keller had made him stay in the infirmary, had seen her slowly start to let others in. So, no, he really doesn’t mind so much. Even when he does.

“Wodney, dinne’ time!”

He blinks and realises that John’s now standing in front of him with a look in his eyes that’s getting more like Sheppard every day. He ignores the little clutch in his chest that’s followed by a pang when he remembers that he’s now lost his two best friends and shakes his head a little. It’s been three months since they lost Carson and he still can’t seem to make the loss go away.

“Wodney?”

“Yes. Right. Dinner time. Give me a minute.”

Wod-ney!”

“I said give me a minute.” His statement is followed by a huffing sigh that he’s got used to over the last year. John’s moody, expectant phase might have (sort of) ended, but the child still seems to be of the opinion that Rodney’s there only to do his bidding.

He’s a few minutes from finishing when a shadow casts over his desk and he looks up to see Kavanagh leaning over him and glaring. “Are you finished yet?” he asks with an irritating drawl. (Rodney never really thought he’d appreciate a drawl from anyone other than Sheppard, although even Mitchell’s amused drawl is music to his ears compared to Kavanagh’s haughtiness).

“No,” he says, pleased to note that John’s glaring up at the man. “You’ve made too many mistakes for even me to catch in the fifteen minutes since you gave it to me.”

“What-”

“I’m thinking of letting John fix it for his homework this evening.”

“Can I use a wed pen?” John asks hopefully as the scientist splutters and clenches his fist.

Rodney shakes his head. “We’d have to print it out. Resources aren’t-”

“Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese?”

“McKay!” Kavanagh yells.

“Wodney! His name is Wodney,” John yells and stomps on Kavanagh’s foot.

McKay glares at the boy. “Oh how little you know, young man,” he says, completely ignoring the (literally) hopping mad scientist.

“I know wots.”

“Oh, so we’re going to maim the letter ‘l’ today, as well?”

“’Top being mean.”

“Are you doing this on purpose? You are, aren’t you? You’re trying to drive me insane!”

“Is it wo’king?” John asks glibly and Rodney glares at him, wondering exactly what the penalty would be if he just wrapped his hands around the scrawny little neck and squeezed.

“You really hate me, don’t you,” Rodney says with a glare, getting up and heading for the doorway. He really is hungry and John was right about it being time for food. The patter of tiny feet follows him at a trot as he marches to the mess.

“You’s stupid.”

“Oh, yes, thank you for that glowing statement. I’ll make sure to thank you for that when I win my Nobel. You hate me and I’m stupid, wonderful.”

“You is stupid, Wodney.” The boy catches up to him and tucks his hand into Rodney’s. “I don’t hate you, I wuv you.”

“I…” Rodney stops walking and looks down at the boy clutching onto his hand. John’s looking at him as if he’s just gone insane, but he can’t quite move. “I…you do?”

"Wod-ney," John rolls his eyes. "'Cou'se I do."

"Oh," Rodney replies, which is probably more than a bit stupid. Really he should say something more, should bluster that 'of course' and 'he knew that', but 'oh' pretty much covers it.

“Come on, Wodney! ‘s dinne’ time!”

“Yes. Food. Of course,” he says and wonders at the fact that three silly little words can change someone’s world.


* * *


With John’s unflagging trust in him and a new sense of purpose, Rodney’s world quickly becomes focussed only on the boy and the machine. He knows he’s beginning to see more sense in the research and endless hours he’s put in, but he can’t find it in himself to spend 24 hours a day working on it. He doesn’t try to explain why he starts taking full days off work to spend time with John, doesn’t even bother to explain himself to anyone, because no one’s asking. He wonders if his sense of ‘almost’ is somehow obvious to the whole city, because there’s an underlying sense of expectation around him. It’s a mixture of both hope and loss and if everyone has started treating John with more indulgence and care than they had when he was first brought back as a three-year-old with a penchant for mischief, then even Rodney’s not calling them on it.


* * *


The alarms go off about two seconds after Lorne’s barged into his room with a giggling John tossed haphazardly over one shoulder. Evan’s yelling at him before Rodney’s fully awake, but he catches the gist of it; the words ‘ships’, ‘hostile’ and ‘shields at minimum’ breaking through his tired daze quicker than the alarms could even hope to.

It takes him about ten seconds to throw on clothes (he’d almost left without them, but Lorne had thrown some at him before muttering something about taking John to Miko and mobilising the troops) and a further three seconds to grab his laptop and earpiece before he’s out the door and running towards the control tower. By the time he gets there, personnel are flooding in from all directions, but he pays them little mind, instead patching into the cities defences and trying to work out why the hell Atlantis has such little power left for the shields. He’s pulling up schematics and work schedules by the time Elizabeth arrives and demands an explanation.

“What do you mean, no shields?” she cries and he glares at her.

“I have no idea! Lorne said they were at minimal and I’m still waiting to find out why.” He taps his earpiece to call on Radek, knowing that Elizabeth won’t question him any further; they’d long ago stopped querying how those with the natural gene just know these things before their equipment ever does.

“I’m going to kill him!” Rodney yells suddenly, the screen on his laptop making him furious. “Kavanagh!” he barks and waits for the man to respond before letting out a stream of curses and strings of foul language that have the marines at the other side of the room looking at him, impressed.

“I didn’t turn it on!”

There’s something in the man’s voice that tells Rodney that Kavanagh might actually be telling the truth, but the fact is that his experiment is still the cause of their lack of power and, given that John had found a further nine errors in the man’s coding before bedtime the previous evening, there’s no telling what the hell might happen now that it’s running through Atlantis’ systems.

“You need to fix this!”

I’m trying! I’ve found some errors that can’t-”

“Only some?” Rodney barks as he hacks in to Kavanagh’s laptop and just takes over. There are reports coming in from all sides, but he ignores them, demands that Radek find him more power and lets Elizabeth and Lorne worry about the impeding doom of the alien spaceships outside.

"What do you mean there's no more power!" he cries as Radek’s voice penetrates.

"I do not know how else you want me to say it, Rodney! We have no more power! The shields will fail in four minutes, thirty nine seconds."

"We need more time than that!"

"We do not have more time!"

Rodney growls and somehow finds an extra ounce of speed to propel him through the coding faster. All systems other than life support aren’t functioning, the ships (now identified as Wraith cruisers) outside are firing with full force and he’s functioning on little sleep and no coffee. He’s seriously going to kill the stupid little fucker who caused this.

“Rodney,” Elizabeth says in that tone that always makes him want to shake her, because does she seriously think he’d let things get this close if he could actually do anything about it? He values himself alive, thank you very much, and now even more so, because he has a five-year-old kid to look out for and that kid is Sheppard. He’s doing the best he can.

“I…” He looks up at her and shakes his head. “I can’t…I don’t…”

“Rodney?”

“I’ve stopped the virus,” he says, knowing they’re all hearing him in the hush that’s suddenly taken over the room. “But…there’s no power left. We…we haven’t got any power.”

His words sink in just as he hears the sound of darts over head, hears the beeps of the proximity alarms. He only has enough time to wish he could say goodbye to John, to wish he could say sorry to whatever trace of Sheppard is buried in there, before the city suddenly swells with light.


* * *


"Oh my God!"

Rodney looks around in wonder, trying very hard to keep his wide eyes from so much as blinking because he’s seriously afraid this entire room is going to just disappear if he does. He glances down at the beautiful, wonderful thing he’s cradling in his arms and wonders how life could possible get any better.

"Nice, isn't it, Doc?"

"Ni-nice?" he splutters. "Nice? It's...it's..."

"Wonderful." Rodney glances at Radek, who picks up another ZPM, and smiles.

He turns around in a circle. “I…this is…incredible. But how does it all work?"

"Like dis."

Rodney turns to look at John and almost whimpers when consoles and screens suddenly appear out of nowhere. He rushes straight to the nearest one and taps on the display, suddenly needing to know everything about anything and needing to know it all right now. He’s already discovered the reason for their lack of power (a coding glitch that was inadvertently activated by routine maintenance – he’ll let Kavanagh stew a little longer) and is calling up more schematics than he knows what to do with. The room is full of wonder and excitement and a million possibilities that Rodney needs to discover, needs to dedicate all his time to, needs to play with and have fun with, whilst Sheppard-

He blinks. Sheppard. He glances around the room at the scientists gleefully tapping away and exclaiming at everything and anything and realises, with a deep, aching pain in his chest that he needs Sheppard for this. Not the boy who’s currently curled up in the control chair in the centre of the room, drooling on Evan’s chest, but Sheppard, the man who shares the adventure that Atlantis brought into their lives.

“I…”

“Rodney?”

He turns to face Radek, blinking at the concern on Radek’s face and, for the first time since Carson’s death, lets someone new in. “We need Sheppard.”

Radek lets out a breath, almost seeming to deflate slightly, but he offers a small smile and nods. “Yes. Yes, we do. We can help.”

“I…not with this. I need you to…” Rodney licks his lips, frowns as he tries to think it through. “I need you to run the labs.”

“Of course.”

“I want only you, Miko and Doctors Nair and Vickovic working in here until I…until…”

“Until Colonel Sheppard is back and you are free to do so.”

Rodney nods. “Yes. I…Elizabeth. I need to speak with Eliz-”

“It’s okay, Rodney.”

He turns around to find her standing behind him. There are tears in the corner of her eyes, but he can tell that she’s trying to ignore them, so he does the same.

“It’s okay,” she says again. “Figure it out and bring him back to us.”

She turns to head out of the room and Rodney waits a moment, looks at John, and then rushes after her. “Wait,” he calls out, as she turns the corner at the end of the corridor. “Elizabeth.”

By the time he’s finally caught up to her, he’s not sure what he even wanted to say, isn’t sure what he thought he possibly could say to her, but he knows there’s been a growing distance between them for a long time. He gets that people think he doesn’t notice these things, that he doesn’t care about them, but he’s seen how she’s distanced herself from everyone, but people are the one thing he doesn’t know how to fix.

“Rodney?” she asks and he sighs.

“What’s wrong?” he finally asks and she knows he’s asking about everything. He’s asking what it is about John as a child that turns her around so much, is asking what happened to put so much strain and tension on whatever friendship she might ever have had with Evan, he wants to know, because he’s lost one friend and is so close to finally getting another one back that he doesn’t want to lose out on anymore.

For a while she doesn’t say anything, just looks at him until he begins to wonder what the hell he’s supposed to do now. Finally she lets out a long breath and smiles at him. It surprises him so much that he realises he can’t remember the last time he saw her do that.

“I…thank you, Rodney,” she says softly, reaching out a hand to squeeze his arm.

“For what?”

“For asking.”

“You’re not going to answer me, are you?”

She shakes her head. “No,” she says. “At least, not now. But thank you for letting me know that I can.”

Rodney nods and clears his throat, shifting on his feet. He feels almost light headed and free, because he knows, he finally knows that it’s all going to be okay, even if he’s lost someone along the way.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” she asks, breaking the almost comfortable silence.

“Yes,” he says and then, swallowing more pride than he ever has in his life, asks, “Can you contact the SGC? I need to speak with Colonel Carter.”


* * *


“I still don’t see why you needed to bring the shrimp,” Rodney says with a glare.

Rodney.” Carter sighs and gives him a look and the girl next to her glares at him.

“I’m taller than you,” she responds and turns her attention back to the consol in front of her.

“And,” Sam continues when he starts to interject. “Cassie’s the one who gave you the idea to re-think your approach. She’s been helping me with the research you sent back for months now. And she’s-”

“-standing right here,” Cassie interjects with a glare.

Rodney grumbles, ignores her, and turns back to his computer. “Well, she’s kept Lorne out of my way, at least.”

Sam laughs and he happily ignores her, too. It’s been clear since she and Cassandra Fraser arrived in Atlantis that Rodney actually cares about the people around him. He doesn’t stop to think what that might look like to those who knew him before coming to Pegasus, doesn’t really want to or care, because there’s so much else he has to focus on.

They’re making more headway with the machine than he has in the last three years combined and, even if he knows that it’s his ideas and all the work he’s done in the preceding time making things easier now, he knows he’s likely to be a little resentful that he had to ask for help when it’s all over. At this moment, however, he can’t be anything other than grateful.

Having Samantha Carter in his life has been Rodney’s wish for so long that he can’t actually remember a time when he didn’t want her there. He doesn’t stop to think about when that need changed from unrequited lust to a need for her professional acceptance and possibly even her friendship, but regardless of the type of need, he never really expected that she’d be there voluntarily.

When he’d returned to Earth that second Christmas and spent time with his family, both women had looked over his research and provided him with some alternate perspectives and Carter had even offered her assistance in person. He’d believed, however briefly, that she’d meant it, but in the time since, began to think he’d imagined her sincerity. That she’d given him a full-watt smile that once would have left him weak-kneed and said, ‘of course’ she’d come when he had finally asked, had left him stunned. Even if she had brought Evan’s (sort of) daughter along for the ride, he has no doubt that her presence might just be the turning point.

“Rodney?”

“What? Sorry.” He blinks and looks up at her, startled when he sees an indulgent smile on her face and realises that they’re alone in the room.

“I think it’s time to call it a night.”

“No, you go. I…I think I almost have it.”

She smiles and nods. “We’re almost there, Rodney. I can see it.”

“You’ve been up for about forty hours,” Rodney says testily, “I’m surprised you can see anything at this point. You look like crap. Go get some sleep.”

She laughs and heads for the door. “You always know what to say to a woman, McKay.”

He finds himself smiling, even as he returns to his work. It doesn’t take him long to fall under the spell of numbers and theories and before he knows it, he’s racing through his calculations, fiddling with the wires and contours of the machine until he’s staring, dumbfounded and shaking, at the thing that’s caused him so much grief and loss and love and wonder over the last three years.

“It’s…but…” he expels a breath and blinks back tears as he slides to the floor.

He wants to scream and shout and…something at the inanimate object in front of him. Wants to explain it all, even if only to himself. But Rodney’s a mathematician to the core; physics, astronomy, everything in the universe boils down to the one universally constant language of numbers. He figures that there has to be some meaning, some mathematical equation that explains it all, some basic hidden reason that the machine first bubbles into action, fully complete and understood, three years to the day they were captured. He figures there has to be some explanation behind the fact that he’s thinking about how much he loves the child asleep in his room at what he’s pretty sure is the same moment three years after he had the realisation, when he was bound and gagged on a basement floor, that it was one of the worst night’s of his life.

He’d thought that having his best friend turned into a three-year-old was the worst thing that could ever happen. But he was wrong. He hadn’t bargained on how much harder it would be to face the day when he had to turn him back.

He jerks as he feels two small arms wrap around his neck. “John?” he asks, surprised. He turns awkwardly in John’s tight grasp, and tugs the boy around and into his lap. “What are you doing here?”

“Lantis sent me,” John replies, frowning and looking up at him. The look in the boy’s eyes makes his breath catch in his throat. “Why a’ you sad, Wodney?”

“I’m…I’m not. Not really. I just…it’s…”

“Lantis says you fixed it, but what did you fix?”

“I…” Rodney trails off, blinking back tears. He won’t cry, can’t let himself cry.

“Don’t be sad,” John says and, after a moment, smiles up at Rodney and hugs him.

“John, I…”

“It’s okay, Wodney. You can fix me now.”

Rodney swallows and nods. “Yes,” he says softly. “Yes, I can.”

John nods and settles into the tight embrace Rodney’s offering him. “Not ‘til mo’ning,” he says with a yawn. “We need to wait for Lizbet and Evan and Jen and Teyla and Wonon and evwyone. It’s bette’ that way.”

“Yes,” Rodney says and slumps forward into the embrace. “Yes, we’ll wait until morning.”

He takes a moment, letting himself just breathe in the smell of soap and sleep and little boy that surrounds him. He feels the same ache in his chest that has plagued him so often since he lost Carson, the same ache that took so long to dull when they first lost Sheppard. He’s going to get Sheppard back, he knows this now with a startling clarity that brings a fresh wave of pain. He’s going to get Sheppard back, but he’ll have to lose John to do so. And Rodney’s really not okay with that.

He takes a deep breath and, after deciding that he’s not going anywhere, shuffles back against a wall, careful not to jostle John too much. He rests his chin on top of the boy’s head and just sits, blinking back sleep and tears and more emotions than he knows what to do with.

The lights in the room dim and Rodney wonders if John’s awake enough to be doing it himself, or if it’s just Atlantis tucking them in for the night. He feels a sense of loneliness coming from the city herself, feels a brief moment of kinship with her that he’ll never be able to understand, or explain. They’re both losing him, they’re both about to lose the child they’d never really wanted, but had fallen for all the same.

He knows now that he’s crying, but cares too much to try to stop his tears. He has to say goodbye now, because tomorrow it’ll be too late. This is his moment. This is his time to say goodbye. Even if he really doesn’t want to.

John gives one last sigh and Rodney knows he’s about to succumb to sleep. Somehow, it’s important to speak, to tell John how much he means to him, but his voice is clogged and all he manages is a soft, ‘I’ll miss you’.

Rodney listens to John as he settles, breathes in his smell and holds him tight.

He doesn’t sleep.


* * *


The changeover happens with such ease that Rodney almost feels bitter. He’s spent the last three years trying to get the thing to work and now that it has he almost wants to re-programme it so that it’ll give out a fanfare or a burst of bright, coloured lighting; something to say that this moment, this moment is the one where everything changes.

Instead, they’re gifted with a short, high pitched whine, a tiny flash of white light and a naked John Sheppard blinking up at them from the floor of the lab. For a few moments, everyone just stands there in silence, just looking and taking in the fact that John’s gone and Sheppard’s sitting there in his place looking, come to think of it, increasingly more embarrassed by his nakedness. It’s almost enough to make Rodney laugh, given the number of times he’s chased a naked butt around the city these last few years, but he knows that whatever laughter he might let out will turn hysterical.

Keller blinks into action and suddenly Sheppard is covered up and bundled off to the infirmary with such speed that Rodney’s left standing in his lab startled, bereft and more than a little hurt. Someone clears their throat behind him and he turns slowly to see that Lorne, Teyla, Ronon, Sam and Cassie are still in the room.

He’s not sure what to say to them, isn’t sure what he’s meant to say or feel or think. Instead he just stands there, mind calm and blank.

“Thank you, Rodney,” Teyla says finally and he thinks he can see tears in her eyes. She steps forward and places one hand on his shoulder and the other at the back of his neck, gently pulling his head to rest against hers. “Thank you,” she whispers and, in an uncharacteristic move, tilts her head up to place a kiss on his forehead. “Thank you.”

Teyla has barely taken a step back when Rodney finds himself pulled into a tight embrace, as Ronon lifts him from the ground, muttering his thanks and then dropping him again with a laugh. He pounds Rodney on the back again and nods, smiling at him with a grin that Rodney’s only ever really seen aimed at Sheppard before. Sam and Cassie grin at him from the doorway and he slowly finds himself smiling back at them. He doesn’t realise who’s missing from their group until Lorne appears in front of him, laughing in a carefree manner that startles Rodney, and actually pulls him into a hug. The man steps back, pats him on the shoulder and nods.

“Nice work, Doc,” he says and, offering a sloppy (but somehow still proper) salute, turns and heads for the door. He slips his arm around Cassie and says something to Sam, who turns to Rodney and smiles, before they filter out of the room, leaving them alone.

“We are very proud of you, Rodney,” Teyla says a moment later.

“I just…I wanted him back. For you. For all of us.”

“We know.” Ronon nods.

They stand there in silence, waiting for Rodney to disengage the machine and then break the damn thing so well that no one will ever be able to fix it again.

As much as he wants to, Rodney doesn’t head towards the infirmary after. He wanders the hallways slowly, feeling safe and at home between Ronon and Teyla, and heads to his room. He stops outside the door for a moment, thinking about how it looks inside, filled with the daily mess John always left behind him, thinking of the bed that John was almost getting too big for and all the toys and clothes that would be tucked into strange spaces in the room.

“Rodney,” Teyla says, placing a hand on his arm.

“No, no, it’s okay. I’m okay.”

He nods to them both and enters the room, letting the door shut behind him. They know he needs to do this alone. Needs to say goodbye alone.

He works quickly, meticulously packing up everything until the room feels empty and unlived in. He feels kind of empty himself, as he sits on the bed, exhausted in every possible way. He’s about to get up and do…something when he spots it; a hint of purple underneath his bed covers and, before he can stop himself, has pulled out the now-one-eyed abomination. He looks at the boxes on the other side of the room, knows there’s plenty of space for it, but he can’t bring himself to throw it away.


* * *


When his short stay in the infirmary is over, Sheppard locks himself in his room and not even Rodney can bypass the controls to get in and see him. The Golden Child – and oh, that is so the wrong choice of words – is back and Atlantis is protecting him with all she can, but even Rodney has to admit that he doesn’t try too hard. Elizabeth demands he get in and he does all he can to override the doors. Almost. And if there’s a missing circuit hidden in his room somewhere, then that’s entirely a coincidence, because, really, this entire city has seen John in all his glory. Rodney thinks that deserves a few days of hiding out.

When a few days turn into a week and a half, however, even Rodney’s losing his patience. He’s spent three years of his life trying to fix his best friend and, in the process, he’s lost a child he hadn’t even known he wanted. He’s lost Carson and now he has Sheppard back he’ll be damned if he’s going to let the man shut him out.

Its early morning when he finally gives in and pulls the circuit from it’s hiding place (he feels almost guilty for slicing through the back of John’s stuffed toy to conceal it, but it had seemed appropriate) and heads to Sheppard’s quarters. It takes him all of two minutes to slip it back into place and start tapping away at his computer pad.

Just as the door opens, Elizabeth turns the corner, her face lighting up for that split second before Sheppard’s arm appears and Rodney is hauled into the room. The door slides shut behind him and Rodney blinks, stares at him for a moment. It’s been so long he almost feels as if he’s dreaming.

Suddenly registering the wide-eyed look and the gesturing, Rodney snaps out of it. “Oh!” he says and turns around, breaking the controls to the door before anyone else can get in.

Sheppard plucks Rodney’s communicator out of his ear and they back up to the window, so that they can justifiably claim they couldn’t hear what was being said to (shouted at) them from behind the closed door. They stand side by side and listen to Elizabeth’s muffled words, people joining her, and then banging on the door for what feels like a long time. Finally the people outside give up, but even without being able to hear Elizabeth’s parting words, they get the sentiment.

They stare at each other for a moment and Rodney opens his mouth, tries to speak, but nothing comes. When he tries again, he doesn’t get the chance to speak, because suddenly Sheppard’s hugging him, holding him so closely and so tightly that Rodney’s momentarily unable to breathe.

“Thank you,” he says softly, his breath brushing against Rodney’s cheek and Rodney nods.

“Okay…for what?”

“For being you and for treating me like me. Even if I didn’t know it.”

“I…” Rodney swallows. “You’re welcome,” he says and hugs back tightly.

They stand there for what seems like an age and yet feels like mere seconds when they finally pull apart. Rodney can’t help staring, can’t help taking in the lines of Sheppard’s face, the intelligence behind his gaze, the way his face moves when he breathes. His best friend.

“Three years,” Rodney says hoarsely and Sheppard nods. “I…”

“I know, buddy.”

“Do you? Because I don’t.”

“Yeah.” Sheppard takes a deep breath and shifts on his feet. He rubs a hand over the back of his neck and looks up with a self-deprecating smile. “Guess things are…weird now.”

Rodney moves his hand in a helpless gesture. “I…”

“Yeah.”

“Sheppard-”

“You can call me John, ya know.”

“No, no I really can’t,” Rodney says emphatically and he sees the moment Sheppard finally gets it.

“Yeah, okay, that’s a little weird.”

“A little?”

“Yeah, fine. But seriously, you’re going to keep calling me Sheppard?” He frowns for a minute, before grinning.

“What?”

“Would it be easier if you just did what you used to? When it first happened?”

“You want me to pretend you don’t exist?”

Sheppard rolls his eyes. “Pretend that was my son, that you were taking care of my son. That’s what Ev- what Lorne told you to do, wasn’t it?”

“You remember,” Rodney says and Sheppard nods, wincing a little.

“Everything.”

Suddenly Rodney can’t help but smile wickedly. “Everything?”

“I swear to God if you even think of using any of that against me-”

Rodney’s fairly sure the smirk on his face isn’t reassuring in the slightest, but that’s fine, because he doesn’t really mean it to be. Finally Sheppard laughs, a barking, stupid barn yard animal laugh that makes Rodney grin so hard he thinks he might just hurt himself.

“You know I’ve spent the last week thinking this place is too quiet,” he muses.

“You spent the last three years telling me to shut the hell up!”

“You were a noisy child!”

“You’re a noisy adult!”

“I see your maturity level is back to normal.”

“Hey, I’m mature. And smart,” Sheppard says, grinning.

“Which is precisely why you’re going to start pulling your weight in the lab,” Rodney retorts and settles himself on the desk chair as Sheppard falls back onto his bed and makes himself comfortable.

“No chance, McKay.” When Rodney just looks at him, knowingly, he groans.

“You just realised how much blackmail material I have, didn’t you?” Rodney asks smugly.

“I hate you,” he says, but Rodney can still hear the five-year-old voice telling him different, so he doesn’t pay any mind. “Fine. An hour a month.”

Rodney doesn’t even bother to argue, he knows he’ll get his way, just as he knows that Sheppard actually wants to spend some time using his brain. They fall into an easy banter, remembering all at once how to be friends with an ingrained instinct that needs no prompting. They talk for longer than they ever have, about everything and nothing at all and, slowly, the ache in Rodney’s chest begins to fade. He wonders if it’ll ever go away, wonders if he even wants it to, but most of all he wonders at the fact that he doesn’t feel so alone any more. He knows that he’ll never have that same bond he had with John with anyone else, but, deep down, he knows it doesn’t matter, because he’ll always remember. And he has Sheppard.

He thinks that maybe that’s enough.


* * *


When Sheppard refuses to leave his room the next morning, Rodney takes great pleasure in sending in Teyla and Ronon to guilt and drag him out in that order. He grins smugly as the team make their way to the mess, finally, gloriously whole again, and totally ignores the glares that his friend is sending his way.

“It will be all right, John,” Teyla says intercepting the look with a smile, but he doesn’t look convinced.

“You remember the last time I was in there, right?” Sheppard hisses and Ronon snorts.

“We’re trying to forget,” Rodney says, smirking.

Teyla smiles, but they can all tell she’s trying not to laugh. “I am sure everyone will be so glad that you have decided to wear clothing this time that no one will mention it.”

They enter the mess and, as suspected, everyone stops to stare. After a tense moment Sheppard clears his throat, jerks his hand at them all in a kind of pathetic wave and goes to collect his food. Rodney snorts and follows, noting that Sheppard looks pleased (and a little awkward) to find himself standing behind Keller and Lorne. Rodney notes that he sort of ignores Sam and Cassie, who’re standing by Evan, almost as if it’s hard enough dealing with the rest of them.

“Colonel,” Lorne says, looking a lot like he has no idea what to do with his hands and Rodney, knowing exactly how he feels, exchanges a look with the man.

“John, how are you feeling?” Keller says with a bright smile.

“I’m good,” he responds, unconvincingly, but smiles as she draws him into conversation. Rodney watches him relax by degrees, surrounded by his friends and buoyed by Teyla’s gentle calm and Jennifer’s bright enthusiasm.

They’re all preparing to take their seats when Cadman enters the room. She clocks Sheppard immediately and winks at Rodney before walking across the room.

“Lau- …Cadman,” John says, inclining his head.

“You back on duty yet?” she asks and, when Sheppard (looking a little confused at the abruptness of her question) shakes his head, ‘no’, she grins unrepentantly and pulls him into a hug that once again surprises the room into silence. “Glad to have you back, Johnny,” she whispers, so softly that Rodney barely hears her. A moment later, she pulls back and smirks at him. “Now that you’re you again, feel free to turn up to breakfast naked as often as you like.”


* * *


“Thought I might find you here.”

Rodney looks over his shoulder to see Lorne approaching him from the trees. He tries to smile a little, but it comes off as more of a grimace. Because the look is mirrored in Evan’s face, he doesn’t bother trying to cover up how he’s feeling. He’s not even sure he knows how he feels, only that he’s just as lost as he ever was.

When Lorne joins him, they sit in silence, staring out at the sea and watching as the sun slowly makes its way across the sky. Rodney doesn’t know how long they sit there, just watching, but he knows it doesn’t really matter. Just like when they lost Carson, he knows that Evan will wait until he’s ready.

“I feel like he’s dead. Like he’s just…gone. It wasn’t…it was supposed to make everything okay.”

“Yeah,” Evan says with a sigh. “Yeah, I know.”

“He wasn’t my son,” Rodney says, needs to hear himself say it, even if he doesn’t really believe it. Because, for the last few years, that’s exactly what John was to him. He may have started trying to think of the boy as Sheppard’s son, but, at some point, Rodney knows that John became his.

“Yeah, he was.” Evan clears his throat. “And sometimes, I let myself think he was mine, too.”

“No one else seems to feel it,” Rodney says softly, not even questioning that Lorne’s right.

“Because it wasn’t the same for them. We…You made him part of your life and you let me do the same. Teyla, Ronon, Elizabeth, even Jennifer…it wasn’t the same for them. They never let themselves forget who he really was.”

“I tried not to.”

“And I talked you out of it. I’m not sorry. You gave him something I don’t think he ever had; you let him be a kid.”

Rodney snorts. “He never grew up,” he says and Lorne chuckles.

“Yeah, I guess.” Evan frowns at him for a moment, then sighs. “Rodney,” he says, smiling a little when they both realise it’s the first time he’s ever used the name. “It’s okay to miss John.”

“He’s not gone, I just fixed him. I…” Sighing, Rodney looks out at the ocean again. “I just…I always have to lose something I need to get something I want.”

There’s a slight pause before Evan says, “Very poetic.”

Rodney glares at him, even if he does appreciate that the mood has just been lightened. “I hate you.”

Lorne chuckles. “Yeah, I know.”

They sit there a little longer before Rodney sighs and looks at his watch. He doesn’t really want to go back, isn’t really sure that he’s managed to solve anything, or that there was even anything to fix. He feels a little less lost now that he’s actually said it aloud, even if he does feel, somehow, that he’s betraying Sheppard by even thinking it.

“We should get back,” Evan says a moment later. “It was hard enough to talk the Colonel into letting me come instead of him.”

“Yeah, we should…yeah.”

“Hey, McKay,” Lorne says as they stand and head into the woods. “You think we could fix some laser beams onto my robot now that John’s Sheppard again?”

“You think he’s any less likely to kill himself now?”

“Yeah, good point.” Lorne sighs and looks at him hopefully. “Not even small ones?” When Rodney feels himself wavering, he smiles. “Sheppard mentioned something about robot wars …”

“He did?”

“Yeah, I think he just wants an excuse to play with his robot without everyone thinking he’s still three years old.”

“You play with yours,” Rodney points out and he smirks.

“Yeah, but mine doesn’t resemble a teletubby.”

Rodney can’t help but laugh. He knows that things aren’t okay, knows that he still has a child-sized ache in his chest, but he has Sheppard back and about three years worth of blackmail material.

Somehow, he thinks that everything might just be all right after all.


* * *


THE END


I’m actually kind of sad to see this one end! I have every intention of writing some more snippets and I will write more about what comes next, but I really feel that whatever aftermath I deal with will need to be Sheppard’s story.

I’m half way through ‘Five Reasons Ronon’s Not Allowed to Babysit for Wee!John’ and I have every intention of finally telling Elizabeth’s story. I realise her involvement comes across as very harsh throughout this fic and also the snippets, but she has her reasons, but I’ve just had no way of getting them across when writing from someone else’s PoV.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this and I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you who has encouraged, cajoled, goaded, begged and blackmailed me into getting this finished; you know who you are and I love you all and I appreciate all your continued support and feedback.


* * *

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-07 12:27 am (UTC)
ext_2180: laurel leaf (Default)
From: [identity profile] loriel-eris.livejournal.com
[ETA: OMG I broke the goddamned comment limit. By about a thousand characters.]

God, I yell at you for this every. Single. Time but oh god, I can't believe you killed Carson when John was wee. Wee!John is devastated, Sheppard will feel even worse because he wasn't there and will be grieving long after everyone and worst of all Carson doesn't get to see John fixed. I swear to god, I really do hate you right now. Y'know, through the tears that are steaming down my face.

“Can I use a wed pen?” John asks hopefully as the scientist splutters and clenches his fist.

*laughs through the residual tears* (The whole damn section up until this point, is heartbreaking. I still hate you.)

“You is stupid, Wodney.” The boy catches up to him and tucks his hand into Rodney’s. “I don’t hate you, I wuv you.”

“I…” Rodney stops walking and looks down at the boy clutching onto his hand. John’s looking at him as if he’s just gone insane, but he can’t quite move. “I…you do?”

"Wod-ney," John rolls his eyes. "'Cou'se I do."


*insert handwaving flailing incoherence* (I'm still not forgiving you for the above.)

He glances around the room at the scientists gleefully tapping away and exclaiming at everything and anything and realises, with a deep, aching pain in his chest that he needs Sheppard for this. Not the boy who’s currently curled up in the control chair in the centre of the room, drooling on Evan’s chest, but Sheppard, the man who shares the adventure that Atlantis brought into their lives.

Ok, so much glee for the bit before this, but oh god. *heart shatters*

The whole scene where Rodney has fixed the machine and John comes to Rodney and Rodney says goodbye? Heartbreaking. And I think I'm crying again.

Suddenly registering the wide-eyed look and the gesturing, Rodney snaps out of it. “Oh!” he says and turns around, breaking the controls to the door before anyone else can get in.

Oh thank god they're getting some time to themselves before John has to face the city.

“Three years,” Rodney says hoarsely and Sheppard nods. “I...”

This. God, this I am going to come back to later, when I've finished.

They fall into an easy banter, remembering all at once how to be friends with an ingrained instinct that needs no prompting. They talk for longer than they ever have, about everything and nothing at all and, slowly, the ache in Rodney’s chest begins to fade. He wonders if it’ll ever go away, wonders if he even wants it to, but most of all he wonders at the fact that he doesn’t feel so alone any more. He knows that he’ll never have that same bond he had with John with anyone else, but, deep down, he knows it doesn’t matter, because he’ll always remember. And he has Sheppard.

And my heart is breaking all over again, because of what Rodney's lost, and that he can't have that with Sheppard and my heart is breaking.

“You back on duty yet?” she asks and, when Sheppard (looking a little confused at the abruptness of her question) shakes his head, ‘no’, she grins unrepentantly and pulls him into a hug that once again surprises the room into silence. “Glad to have you back, Johnny,”

Laura is kinda awesome. *g*

[cont'd]

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-07 12:28 am (UTC)
ext_2180: laurel leaf (Default)
From: [identity profile] loriel-eris.livejournal.com
[cont'd]

Lorne and Rodney's conversation at the end. Is so much awesome. But I think I would actually break the comment limit if I C&P'ed the awesome bits. I love that you made it that Rodney (and Lorne) felt the loss more, differently, from the rest. That Rodney (they) actually lost someone. So much more poignant.

I really feel that whatever aftermath I deal with will need to be Sheppard’s story.

Yes. This. A million times omg this, because, have I mentioned THREE. YEARS?!!!???!!!!? All that stuff that John missed. And people changing. And how are Lorne and John going to deal with command. Because Lorne's been doing it for three years. But I Atlantis is John both in soul, and command. And I swear, you're not taking that away from John. But jesus, John missed three goddamned years. You know what, this is Alias all over again. I swear to god, it is, and that still makes me flaily and incoherent and omg how could they do that. Just, y'know, to forewarn you what to expect from me for the next decade.

And omg god, you've made me incoherent and inarticulate and completely failing in the English language.

And yes, I love this so very, very much.

Also. I think your timing etc (the bit you were worried about on the phone) of aftermath of wee!John is fine. I mean, part of me wanted to see a lot more of Sheppard and Rodney, but if I put aside my own omg-they're-showing biases for a minute, it works. And, I may hate myself for this, but I think that Rodney and Lorne is the right ending for the story, and that you managed to write a good ending and the right ending. As well, this is Rodney's story, and you've finished up Rodney's story. I think that all the bits I wanted to see are actually part of Sheppard's story. And thus don't belong here. So yeah, I think you've done the right thing.

And did I mention awesome? *g*

Three goddamned years. I'm not letting you off with that in a hurry.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-07 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyizi.livejournal.com
Okay, words cannot express how utterly nervous I was waiting for your reaction, because wee!John has been your flailing point for as long as it's been mine. I don't think I'd've written anything past the original five things if it hadn't been for you, so yeah, so nervous! I should be asleep right now, but I had to wait for you to finish!

The end? When I spoke to you on the phone, I actually had it finishing at the end of the scene in Sheppard's room, but it just felt like I wasn't done, so I added the next two scenes. I'm glad that you understand why I really couldn't deal with more of the aftermath from Rodney's PoV, because it needs to be John. I need to deal with Elizabeth's story and possibly a bit more of Lorne's (maybe even Cadman's), but really I need Sheppard to be the one to round the whole thing off.

I'll reply to the rest tomorrow, I just wanted to say rtfn *smooooooch* and thanks for the feedback, sweetie!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-07 01:17 am (UTC)
ext_2180: laurel leaf (Default)
From: [identity profile] loriel-eris.livejournal.com
Oh honey! I'd've read quicker if I could've! And it is awesome.

The end. Hmm, if you'd finished is with Rodney and Sheppard in Sheppard room, I think it would've made there seem to be more Sheppard than there was. (Not saying that this is a good or bad thing, just that John&Rodney bias would've happier. (You will note, that all my bias needed was the appearance of more John&Rdney. *headdesk* Yeah, I don't know either...) However, I think know that it would have short-changed Rodney's story. And given that this is Rodney's story and not hi-there-my-biases-let-me-show-you-them, we'll go for not short-changing Rodney being a good thing. *g*

You're welcome. *g* *smooches back*

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-07 03:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syble4.livejournal.com
If I can stop crying long enough, I'll tell you how wonderful this is. You had me in tears for the whole last part.

I've wanted you to write how John gets changed back into Sheppard forever, but now I feel like Rodney at the end, and I'm really sad - and happy - that it finally happened.

Of course, now I can not wait until your muse has you writing the next bit from John's pov. I love that you left him with all his memories intact.

Oh and you made me love Lorne even more with his understanding and friendship with Rodney.

Thank you!!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-08 01:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mlevins.livejournal.com
Thank you again for this, and even more for taking that "5 reasons" into such a wonderful direction. I think you really caught the complex layers and variety and *depth* of the relationship between Sheppard and Rodney. Nothing more exemplifies it than the realization that "...Sheppard often knew the answer, but let him explain anyway".

And needless to say, I also love your depiction of Lorne, steadfast, stalwart, and just *there*--a friend for Rodney in unspoken ways. Thanks!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-09 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] romyra.livejournal.com
I've been following the wee!John snippets for a while now and I really want to thank you for giving us the full story. It was a wonderfully original take on a useful trope and I adored every moment of it. A simply beautifully beguiling tale.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-12 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gail19.livejournal.com
Thank you.

I'd list all the extra special bits, but I'd just be copying most of the story over, so I'll refrain from cluttering up your space.

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