– – – –
Three Days Later
“Good afternoon, I am Lt. General Jack O’Neill and we would like to thank you all for coming.” Jack surveyed the crowd in his immediate vicinity. There were close to a thousand people on hand. Far more than they’d wanted and far less than had actually wanted to come to the what the press had dubbed ‘The Rising of the Phoenix’.
“At Stargate Command, it is always a great day when we can welcome a new ship into service. Today, the very first X-500 will be released from the underground hangar where it has been constructed. Before we do that – I’d like to take a few minutes to do something that is very over due.” Jack smiled for the crowd and glanced back to his wife who stood carefully and pulled a small box from her purse.
“Colonel Sheppard, would you join me please?”
John exchanged looks with Rodney but stood and walked to the place where O’Neill indicated and offered him a precise salute. “Sir.”
“As it has always been in our history – we find that the best of us come forward in times of adversity to lead and to sacrifice for the betterment of our species. No one under my command demonstrates that spirit and that bravery more than you, John. On behalf of the President of the United States it is my great honor to promote you to the rank of Brigadier General.” Jack smiled at the shock that filtered over John’s face as he stepped forward and carefully removed the silver eagles on his collar and replaced them with a single star. “I fully intend to line up several more of these on your collar in the future.” He put the eagles in the box his wife still held.
“I won’t be a disappointment, sir.”
“I can’t ever imagine you would be,” Jack murmured. He stepped back and offered a salute which John returned. The audience burst into applause. “I had to fight your father for the privilege of doing this, you know.”
John laughed. “I bet.”
Jack took the box from Sam and offered it. “I bet I know a kid who would get a kick out of these.”
John took the box and slid it into his pocket. “Thank you.”
Jack nodded and turned back to the podium and waited for the crowd to quiet down. “Thank you for indulging a little Air Force business. Now, I am pleased to introduce the designer and chief engineer of the Phoenix—Dr. Rodney McKay.” Jack stepped back from the podium as Rodney stood from his place on the stage.
Rodney glanced over the crowd and tried to ignore the heavy weight of the bullet proof vest he wore. He touched John as they passed each other and took his place at the podium. “Thank you, General O’Neill.” He waited as the applause faded away and wondered if he would ever be able to stand in front of a crowd again without seeing a gun pointed at him.
“I’ve designed many ships for Stargate Command. Some never left the drawing board and some are in use today. The X-301, which blended a Go’uld glider with our technology and wasn’t all that exciting in retrospect. The X-302 which is the corner piece of our plantery defense system. The X-303, our first battle cruiser. We lost the Prometheus only three short years after she was launched and on a day like today is it fitting to remember the men and women we lost with her.”
He cleared his throat. “The X-308 – which makes up our fleet: the Daedalus, Apollo, and Orion. Each of these ships were a job that I undertook for the protection of our planet. We were able to build them – to make those drawings come to life due to the work of Dr. Samantha Carter and Dr. Radek Zelenka who are the best engineers on this planet without exception. Their ingenuity, work ethic, and utter brilliance, have made working with them for the past fifteen years an absolute gift and I do not say that enough.”
Rodney paused. “A year ago I left the planet for the first time. I’m sure that sounds crazy to you since I’ve worked with the Stargate program for so many years. But like many of the civilians within the SGC – it was deemed long ago that our value to the program made gate travel too much of a risk. So, I took a ride in a Puddle Jumper. My first trip through the gate, my first trip into space, my first steps onto another planet…” He laughed when someone from the crowed added to the list. “Yes, yes, and my first date with… huh… General Sheppard.”
John laughed from his place on the stage and nudged Sebastian who giggled.
“The design for the Phoenix project came to me like most of my best ideas do – while I was consuming a truly outrageous amount of coffee. The Phoenix is the best of all the technologies we’ve been exposed to—the most advanced human, Asgard, and Ancient technologies blended together to build a ship that is fast, strong, and beautiful.”
“All the ships we’ve built and put into use for Stargate Command were labors of necessity. The Phoenix is far more than that. It was a labor of love and it was inspired by the determination, the courage, the selflessness, and the dreams of the man for which she was named.” He paused, took a deep breath, and activated his radio. “This ship represents our drive and our ability as a species to thrive in the face of adversity. She is our future. Phoenix – you have a go.”
Five hundred feet away, the ground opened, and the Phoenix rose straight up. The crowd was completely silent as she lifted and then turned.
John stood and walked to stand with Rodney. “I think I just fell in love with you all over again, Mer.”
The whispered words slipped softly over the PA system and broke the silence– applause and cheers filled the make-shift stadium.
Rodney leaned against him briefly. “That’s how the smartest man in the galaxy writes a love letter.”
John pressed a kiss to his forehead and smiled. “Hey Sebastian, wanna go for a ride?”
“Hell yes!” Sebastian jumped up and darted across the stage to join them.
“Language!” John and Rodney responded at the same time.
Sebastian laughed. “Let’s go!”
John shook his head and glanced back at his father and brothers who had stood when he had. Then he clicked his radio. “Phoenix, we are ready to come aboard.”
– – – –
“You know…” Sean stretched leisurely and then looked toward Declan who was sprawled on the other side of the couch as they watched the dedication of the Phoenix on live TV. “They are going to be gone for hours.”
“Yeah.” Declan nodded. “I let most of the guys off for the afternoon. They are in Denver doing things that I’d rather not think about with a variety of people they probably shouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.”
“Well, we have a great health plan,” Sean responded and then laughed a little. “It’s a beautiful ship. McKay is crazy brilliant… wow and the General thing. Did you have a clue?”
“No, no clue about the promotion until O’Neill started talking. Sheppard looked genuinely surprised, which is stunning. I think he should have gotten a promotion when he came home from Atlantis. Do you regret not going out there to watch it be commissioned?”
“No,” Sean shook his head. “This was about them and I’d much rather Lt. Simmons have put up with him being all psycho this morning than me.” He bit down on his bottom lip. “Remember that conversation we had when we first got hired?”
“The one where you told me I couldn’t have you because it wouldn’t be conducive to a productive work environment?” Declan asked, amused.
“Yeah, that one.” Sean looked over at him. “I think I had a very dumb day that day.”
Declan stilled and turned to meet his gaze. “Don’t play with me, Sean.”
“I’m not playing.”
“Well, why don’t we go upstairs and celebrate the General’s promotion?” Declan rolled off the couch and walked over to him.
Sean chuckled. “I can get behind that.” His eyes widened a little as he was pulled from the couch. “Sometimes I forget how strong you are.”
“I would never hurt you.”
“Not even a little?” Sean asked breathless. “Because a little pain can go a long way.”
“Christ, you little freak.” Declan chuckled, he pulled Sean close and sucked in a breath. “I can really handle that.”
– – – –
John put Sebastian on the bed and helped Rodney strip him down to boxers and a t-shirt. “I don’t even remember the last time I went to sleep instantly.”
Rodney laughed. “The sleep of the just.”
John shook his head and pulled out the velvet box O’Neill had given him. He laid it on Sebastian’s nightstand and stood so they could draw the covers over him. “Did you have any clue?”
“No. They wouldn’t tell me something like that—I would have totally spilled it.” Rodney slipped his hand into John’s, pulled him out of the room, and shut the door. “Wow, did you know tonight I get to be fucked by a General?”
John laughed. “You have a filthy mouth.”
Rodney leaned against the wall next to the door. “C’mere.” He slipped his fingers behind John’s belt buckle and pulled. “Have I ever told you how hot you are in this uniform?”
“Once or twice…” John brushed his mouth over McKay’s and then across his jaw to nuzzle against his neck. “But normally you’re babbling and all of your words run together.”
The door down the hall opened and John lifted his head to watch Declan and Sean leave Sean’s apartment. They both looked thoroughly…wrecked. He laughed. “Good evening, gentlemen.”
“Sir.” Declan nodded. “Congratulations on your promotion.”
“Thank you.” John watched Sean stifle a yawn and shook his head with a grin. “Mer and I are just going to retire for the night.”
“Congrats, you looked really hot on TV getting promoted, the ship is awesome, and thank God you’re going to bed.” Sean turned around and retreated back into his apartment. “I don’t think I have the brain cells to make coffee right now.”
Rodney stared after Sean and then looked at Declan with a sincere frown. “If you broke him—you have to do all of his work until he’s fixed.”
John snickered. “Good night, Declan.” He pulled Rodney to the stairs that lead up the third floor and didn’t say anything else until he’d closed the door. “You know…”
“Yeah, I know they must look so hot when they fuck,” Rodney muttered. “When did that happen?”
“I think tonight.”
“Huh, makes me wish I had surveillance camera in his bedroom.”
John laughed. “You’re horrible.”
“Well,” Rodney pulled his shirt over his pants. “I’m mostly kidding.”
“I know, that’s why you’re horrible.” John paused in front of the mirror and swallowed hard as he stared at the star on his collar. “Sort of unexpected, you know.”
“Yeah, I could tell.” Rodney came to stand beside him. “But, you deserve it John.”
“I sort of wished it would have been done on the base with just… you know… us.”
“Yeah, I get that. But, I think people were really glad to be included in that moment.” Rodney chuckled. “It was all me and your Dad could do to keep Sebastian from bouncing out of his seat.”
“O’Neill told me during the applause that he had to fight Dad for the duty of doing it.”
“I can imagine.” Rodney dropped his cuff links in a bowl on their dresser and pulled off his shirt. “I forgot my vest on the ship.”
“I sent them both down after we took them off. They are in the armory.” He sighed. “I, huh, I’m having one made for Sebastian until he can fit in a standard size.”
“I know, Mer. I know it sucks… but…”
“No.” Rodney reached out and touched his arm. “It’s just horrible that we even have to think about it. I agree with you that he needs one. I spent most of the time I was out there searching the crowd for a gun. I don’t know when I’ll stop doing that. The fact is that when he’s in public with us… a shooter could hit him by accident. It makes me feel guilty to even sit beside him.”
“Yeah.” John nodded. “Let’s put that aside for now—and get naked and lost.”
“That sounds like a plan, General.” He paused. “Wow, that is so weird.”
“If you even think about pretending you’ve got O’Neill in bed with you—I’ll kick your ass.”
Rodney snickered as he undid his tie. “He is a sexy son of a bitch and he has a really nice ass.”
“He does,” John admitted and then winced. “Damn it, Mer!”
“What?” McKay chuckled. “Come here, soldier boy, and I’ll make you forget all about the fact that you just admitted to looking at your Commanding Officer’s ass.”
John dropped his uniform jacket on the chair and quickly stripped out of the rest. “It’s never on purpose.”
Rodney snorted. “You’re digging a hole, John. Just shut up and come here. I want to suck your cock.”
“Is one of your degrees in pornography?” John demanded softly as he walked to the bed. “Because… when you talk like that I can’t even think.”
McKay smirked as he pulled John into the bed and maneuvered him into the position he wanted. “You’re just easy, baby. So easy.” He put a bottle of lube on John’s stomach. “I want you to stretch me while I suck you.”
John shuddered. “Okay, so, yeah I’m really easy.” He curled into Rodney as his cock was swallowed in one skillful move that he would never ever take for granted. “Jesus. You are so goddamned good at that.”
He rubbed his cheek against Rodney’s hip and then opened the lube. John was mostly sure he could accomplish this without losing it. Slicking up two fingers, he pulled Rodney’s top leg closer and let them trail down the crack of his ass. He smiled at the gasp that vibrated around his dick. Yeah, he could do this. He rubbed over McKay’s entrance again and again until Rodney was relaxed enough that he slid fingers right in without having to push. By the time he was pushing in three fingers, Rodney had abandoned his cock in favor of licking and sucking his balls.
“Christ, Mer, I’m not going… you have to stop.”
Rodney laughed and lifted away. He sprawled out on the bed and stroked his own leaking cock with one hand. “How do you want me?”
“On your knees.”
“Oh.” Rodney grinned and immediately turned over and crawled to the head of the bed.
It was a seldom used position as John preferred to see his face when he fucked him. He gripped the top of the headboard and let his head fall forward as John moved into position behind him. A small shiver slid down McKay’s back as his thighs were nudged further apart, the thick head of John’s cock pressed against the muscled entrance of his body, and then he slid in deep and hard.
“Yes.” John groaned as his hips met with Rodney’s body. “God, you’re like a furnace. So fucking hot.”
“Fuck me. Give it to me hard,” McKay demanded as he rocked back against him. “John!”
“I’m right here with you, Mer.” John leaned forward and pressed an open mouthed kiss against Rodney’s spine. “I’m here and I won’t let go. I promise.”
John slid his hands over Rodney’s back and ass –then downward using his palms to rub the light dusting of hair on his thighs. Finally, he allowed himself the pleasure of taking Rodney’s cock in hand. He was instantly rewarded – McKay’s ass tightened around his invading cock like a vice.
“You’re close already.”
“Yes,” Rodney gasped. “So fucking close. More.”
“Shh, I got this,” John murmured as he carefully stroked, working his thumb over the head of Rodney’s cock with every stroke as he continued to work his own cock deep and true into the other man’s ass.
“That’s it, Mer, come for me.” John clenched his teeth in Rodney’s shoulder and they both came in rush of heat and pleasure.
– – – –
“It was awesome, Maggie.”
“I saw it on TV.” Maggie Willis poured Sebastian a glass of apple juice. “I bet it was really fun up close.”
“Yeah, you could feel the air changing around the ship as it moved up out of the ground.” He rearranged his French toast and then cut the pieces into little squares. “You know, you make really good stuff.”
“Thanks.” She pushed the syrup across the counter for him. “Did you still want to do classwork today? Your Dads said you could take the day off you wanted.”
“Nah, I’m good. Dr. Bentley is coming over for Music Theory in the afternoon and then I have a whole two hours planned with Dr. Phelps. I’m going to start work on my new proof this week so I need that time with him.”
Maggie raised an eyebrow. “Okay.”
“I have a ton of questions.” Sebastian assured. “And he gets paid to answer them.”
Rodney laughed as he came down the stairs. “He also gets paid to challenge you—but I think you end up challenging him.” He ruffled Sebastian’s hair as he walked by. “You need a hair cut. You have the Sheppard hair in spades.”
“I like the hair.” Sebastian frowned at him. “How much we talking?”
“An inch or two? It’s getting kind of ridiculous.” Rodney found a coffee cup and leaned against the counter by the pot for his first cup. “Keep protesting and I’ll send you to work with your Dad so the base barber can do it. He only has one hair cut—Marine crew cut.”
Sebastian shuddered. “It’s a travesty. I swear.”
Maggie rinsed out her own coffee cup. “Dr. McKay, would you like me to cook breakfast for you and the General?”
“No, we’ll handle ourselves. Thank you. Did you make some of those casserole things? Matthew is going to eat us out of house and home with his love for hash browns.” He eyed Declan and Sean who were at the breakfast counter eating in silence.
She laughed. “Yes, I made one for every day this week actually. I’ve set up meals in the freezer as well. Lasagna, a chicken alfredo pasta bake, a chicken fried rice dish, a stir fry is prepped…for the wok. You should be all set.”
Rodney nodded. “When do you come back?”
“Next Sunday. I’ve done all of the grocery shopping—the most you might need is milk and eggs.” She pulled on her jacket. “I don’t have to go—I know that Airman Wilkes will be coming tomorrow and everyone is in town for the Phoenix.”
Rodney smiled. “It’s okay. We’ll be fine as long as we have food. The Air Force is providing for Ian’s care and he’ll be able to walk. He’ll have regular nurse and doctor visits and Rico was a medic in the Army.”
“Okay then. Feel free to call me and bring me home if need be.”
“No, I promised you and your new guy a week in the Seattle house and that’s what you get. The plane is waiting for you. Go have fun.” Rodney waved her off and went for more coffee as she left. He reached out and snagged a square of French toast off Sebastian’s plate which earned him the ‘Sheppard Death Glare’. “You know you’re a little OCD about your food.”
“It’s all that time I spent in prison,” Sebastian said with a stern expression.
Rodney chuckled. “I think you came out of the womb this way, kid. I bet you color coordinated your crayons by color and shade.”
“And what is wrong with that?” Sebastian demanded. He jabbed his fork in the direction of the hand that approached his plate again. “Seriously, get your own.”
“Stop stealing the kid’s food before he tells on us.” John rubbed his head as he headed for the coffee pot. “I’ll have cereal. I don’t have time for anything elaborate.” He pressed a kiss to Sebastian’s forehead and stole a square on his way. “What’s on your agenda today?”
“Getting new parents that don’t steal my food, music theory, calculus, self-defense and meditation with Teyla, then I thought I’d download some porn off the Internet, maybe take a swim if I can get Rico to clean his gun by the pool instead of on the side patio, and then start my proof.”
John poured milk in his Frosted Mini Wheats and sat down at the counter. “Do not show Zuri the porn—she’s still a baby.”
Sebastian snickered and glanced towards the puppy who was currently sunning herself in front of the French doors. “So, what are you doing today?”
“Well, I have to meet with General O’Neill and Colonel Caldwell. Then I’m meeting with Airman Wilkes. After that I have to beam to Washington to have a meeting with the Senate Arms Committee on something stupid that I barely remember. I have personnel reviews in the afternoon and there are about ten officers in my command up for promotions. Then after that I’m going to beat up some new Marines they brought in so they understand how truly badass I am.”
“Full day.” Sebastian grinned. “Dad, what are you doing?”
“I’m going to fire two engineers, do an interview for Time magazine, then I’ve set aside an hour of my time today to figure out when your father and I can get married. After that, I’m going to fire a botanist, visit with Dr. Heightmeyer, bring Ian home and get him set up in the guest bedroom, read through the progress reports from your professors, berate you if any of them say you’re a slackass, finish a paper on solid state lasers, and then I’m going to go over the final calculations for the ZPM recharging station.”
Two pairs of green eyes left their food and looked right at Rodney. “Seriously?”
“Yes.” Rodney laughed.
“Very cool.” Sebastian grinned. “Is it a secret?”
“For now, yes. I don’t know if I’m ready… Sam and Radek will spend the next week going over all the numbers to make sure I’m not smoking crack.”
“That’s great news, Mer.” John smiled. “So… how long?”
“I really have no idea how long it’ll take to be ready to try the first re-charge but I’d like us to get married before we do that because once we start down that road—the Pentagon will green light the Atlantis mission. Maybe four months and I don’t want to leave Earth without having the shield in place.”
“Sounds very doable.”
“Not so much.” Rodney frowned. “I’m going to have to think about our shielding technology before we let Sebastian set foot on a planet with no atmosphere.”
“I could stay on the ship or something.”
“No way.” Rodney turned and got more coffee. “That’s a team event and we’re most definitely a team. Which means I just have to prove how smart I am so it will be absolutely safe for you. I’m already working on the shield technology for Earth anyway—it’s not that far of a leap. Just a little different since it would be required to hold in a controlled life support environment in a large space for a prolonged length of time.”
“Cool.” Sebastian tilted his head. “That solid state laser thing… does that mean you could make a light saber?”
Every man in the room turned to look at him and Rodney chuckled. “Maybe, if I can get a power source to sustain it.”
“That’s way sci-fi.”
“I know.” Rodney sighed and then frowned a little as he went back to the coffee pot. “What proof?”
“The Yang-Mills and Mass Gap.”
John dropped his spoon and Rodney barely got his coffee down.
Sean rubbed the back of his head and looked at Sebastian. “That’s a Millennium problem, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve already solved one.” Sebastian cut up his sausage links and started dipping them in syrup.
“Which one?” John asked softly.
“The Mills-Yang Theory.” Sebastian shrugged. “I didn’t have anyone to check it for me, so ya know. It’s just for me.”
“Dr. Phelps couldn’t?”
“No.” Sebastian shook his head. “It’s a little above his pay grade.”
Rodney snorted. “Yeah. Hmmm, huh, well how about I bring some one to the house who could check it for you?”
“That would be cool,” Sebastian agreed. He finished off his sausage and hopped down off his stool. “I’ll see you guys after work.”
John watched him dart away and then turned to Declan. “Rico doesn’t really clean his gun outside, right?”
Declan grinned. “No.”
“And he can’t really download porn?” He looked toward Sean for this question.
Sean frowned. “Honestly? I have a filter set up on the server and a firewall. I can keep the perverts out. But to be frank, sir, he’s smarter than me and he’s already an above average computer programmer. That being said—while I can’t keep him from downloading porn I will know the moment he does.”
“Okay.” John frowned. “I guess that will have to do.” He looked toward Rodney. “Do you think he solved the Mills-Yang Theory? Why can’t you look?”
“I can’t be the first person to see it, John.” Rodney frowned as he said it. “Christ, that sucks. But, if one of us looks at it—they might not believe he did it on his own. So, I need to make a few phone calls today.”
“Yeah, okay.” John nodded.
“That’s the math problem that wins the million dollars right?” Declan left his stool in favor of the refrigerator for more milk.
“Yeah.” Rodney nodded.
John sucked in a breath. “I wonder when he solved it.”
“What do you mean?”
“His mother said in the letter that she left me that she knew she was holding him back. I just wonder if he solved it before she died and she knew.”
“Oh.” Rodney sat down at the table. “So, Sean, what’s on your agenda for today?”
Sean looked up from his cereal. “Huh, well…”
John laughed. “Christ, did you get any sleep?”
He flushed. “So, okay, I have to finish prepping the fall lecture schedule. I’ve kept it down to five dates as requested- all academic environments.”
Rodney nodded. “I want to add CalSci.”
“California Institute of Science?” Sean grabbed his mobile PC from his place in front of him and started working. “I thought you liked to stay away from Dr. Fleinhardt.”
Rodney chuckled. “Larry and I have a past but I’m going to ask for a big favor and then I’m going to owe somebody at CalSci a big something. So, put that on stand-by until I let you know.”
“What kind of past?” John asked with a frown.
“The kind that involves lots of lube and blow jobs,” Rodney answered with a little smile. “Excellent blow jobs. We don’t get along professionally because he’s far more theory than practice—and I find that frustrating. He came to the SGC for a few months two years ago. I wanted to strangle him by the end of the first week.”
– – – –
“I should retire.”
John grimaced. “Come on, Caldwell, you know damn well that we need you around here to make sure the General and I don’t forget where the rule book is.”
Steven laughed sadly. “I’m not the man I was, Sheppard; I doubt I will be again. There is too much in my head that shouldn’t be, and spending two years as a prisoner in my own body has fucked with me more than I ever want to admit. It’s for the best.” He cleared his throat. “Really. I don’t trust myself to lead.”
Jack’s hand fisted on his desk. “Why don’t we do an extended leave instead? Six months.”
“Steven.” Jack stared back at him. “We’ve a war coming to us and we need every man. Every single man. You’re not expendable. I understand you’ve been mind-fucked without the courtesy of a reach around but I’m not ready to let you go. So, we’re going to put you on leave for six months and in six months if you can still sit in that chair and say the same thing I won’t say another word and I’ll process your retirement personally.”
“Yeah, okay.” Steven nodded.
“There isn’t a man in this room that hasn’t suffered this in one form or another,” Jack murmured. “We’ve had our bodies used against us; our minds ripped open with torture, there have been times when I would have gladly died to end it. Hell, I can’t even tell you how many times Ba’al killed me before I finally escaped his fun house. You’ve seen what the Wraith did to John. What happened to you was slower…”
“More painful,” John murmured.
Steven shook his head. “I’ve seen that tape, Sheppard. I can’t imagine anything hurting worse than what I saw you go through.”
“I can.” John leaned forward. “Having some thing in my head destroying my life, killing my relationships, taking the love out of my life, turning my son against me—trust me all that would be more painful than having a Wraith suck the life out of me. At least with the Wraith, it’s all biology. It’s like coming up against a hungry lion. Part of you can hate the animal for what it’s about to do but another part of you knows that it’s all about the food chain no matter how perverse and horrific that might sound.” John stood and put a careful hand on Caldwell’s shoulder. “We have the two Go’uld in stasis. When you’re up to it—you can go down to the lab and take great personal pleasure in killing the things. Maybourne’s trying to pretend he’s above that sort of thing.”
Caldwell snorted. “I’m not.”
“Good, because that’s normal.”
– – – –
Jimmy Martinson was sitting in a chair beside Ian’s bed when John entered the room. “Sir.” He stood and offered a crisp salute. “Congrats on your promotion.”
“At ease and thank you.” John pulled over a chair. “I thought you were on your way out of the mountain this afternoon?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “I should be going now.” He touched Ian’s shoulder briefly and then stepped way from the bed. “You have my cell. Call me when you get settled and if you don’t beat the kid at Halo 3 at least once while you’re there, our friendship will be in mortal peril.”
Ian laughed weakly. “He’s a shark with that game.”
“I can’t beat him,” John said dryly. “And trust me I put my back into it last time.”
Jimmy grinned. “I taught him well.”
John watched Ian as Jimmy left with a little wave. “So, huh, I thought you weren’t going to do that.”
Ian flushed. “He’s impossible, sir. We’re just friends.”
John chuckled as he got up to close the door. “I think he wants more, but then I probably would too.” He went back to the chair and sat down. “I never was satisfied with half-relationships.”
“He’s a slut,” Ian muttered.
A snort escaped before he could help himself. “You have spent too much time with McKay.” John rubbed his face with both hands. “So, here’s the thing… when you interrupted Rodney being assaulted and prevented him being raped… thank you didn’t covered how I felt.”
“Shut up, Ian.”
“Yes, sir.” Ian smiled then. “This General thing looks good on you by the way.”
“Thanks.” John sat back in his chair. “I’m a blunt person—because it’s always just been easier. What you did for my son literally put me on my knees. I don’t know how I could have survived what would have happened in that room if you hadn’t acted. Because I know I would have lost them both. I know that. But I didn’t. I didn’t lose them because you were there.” John shook his head. “General O’Neill told me that you were estranged from your parents.”
“Yeah.” Ian nodded.
“You want to talk about it?”
“They found out I was stationed at the SGC and everyone knows the people in this mountain get paid a lot more than normal.”
“Yeah.” John nodded. “You earn every penny.”
“Well, apparently it was enough money for them to think I should be getting married and settling down with my high school girlfriend. The one that apparently has been bonding and shit with my mother since I went off to college.” Ian laughed ruefully and groaned. “Damn.”
“Yeah, gotta be careful using those muscles.” John relaxed in his chair. “So, you told them you wouldn’t marry her.”
“Not at first. I thought maybe I could do it and then…” He sighed. “I thought about what you said about your marriage and I knew our circumstances weren’t all that different. It’s obvious that women don’t interest you any more than they interest me.” Ian’s jaw clenched. “I was home on leave when the news broke that you were missing. Just like everyone else who wasn’t in the mountain, I started packing immediately to come back. My father actually tried to order me to stay home until I was recalled officially.”
“People who never served don’t always understand that it can be more than duty.”
“Yeah, I get that.” Ian nodded. “So, my mom suggests as I’m packing, that I should get an engagement ring for Sara.”
“Yeah.” Ian rolled his eyes. “Christ. So, I tell her no that I’m absolutely not going to do that.”
“And she says that I should do it before someone in town decides to beat me to it and she knows I have the money for it because she’s been opening my bank statements that come to the house.”
“Nice,” John muttered dryly.
“Yeah. I was floored. The first thing I did after we were on stand down and you were on your way home was get a PO Box in town and get all of my stuff transferred to it so she couldn’t go through my mail anymore.”
“What did you tell her about the ring?”
“That it wasn’t going to happen because Sara was a twit and that I had plans for my life that didn’t involve an ambitionless wife. She still lives at home and doesn’t even work for Christ’s sake.”
John laughed. “Okay, for real, I’m going to limit your exposure to Rodney. He’s a bad influence on you.”
“I can not stand lazy people,” Ian muttered. “So, anyway my mother got really upset with me as you can imagine and started fussing about everything. Finally, I just told her. I just told her that I was gay and it would be a cold day in hell before I married a woman.”
“Good for you.”
“My Dad would have hit me if I wasn’t bigger than him and combat trained.”
“For real.” Ian looked away. “So, yeah, that didn’t go over well. I’m sorry to put you out—I know—.”
“Stop right there, if I didn’t want you in my house I’d rent an apartment and put you up with twenty-four hour care. You know McKay and I have the money for that so shut up.”
Ian flushed. “Yes, sir.”
“You’re family, Ian.” John stood and checked his watch. “You’ve been family for a while. My home is yours—you couldn’t be more my family if I’d fathered you.”
Ian’s eyes widened.
“McKay will be around in the next four so hours to beam home with you and get you settled with Sean. Keep your radio on and call me personally if you need something and I mean that.”
– – – –
Rodney was upstairs in a visitor’s room, one that they normally reserved for meetings with VIPs who didn’t have all the security clearances they needed to get deep into the mountain. He was ensconced in a chair, travel coffee mug in hand, his eyes bright with amusement as he talked to the woman seated across from him. John found him insanely attractive in that moment and sort of hated the woman that had put that look on his face no matter how ridiculous it was to feel that way.
“So, how do you feel to be on the short list for the Nobel Prize?”
Rodney shrugged. “I’ve been on the short list for a Nobel most of my adult life off and on. With declassification, there is renewed interest in my work but I walk a fine line between innovation and backwards engineering. I imagine it will make things difficult for the selection committee.”
“You’ve made ground breaking discoveries in physics with the concept and construction of the Phoenix. Can you tell me about the engines that will make it possible for her to travel between galaxies in a few days versus the weeks it takes for the other ships in our fleet?”
“The engines on the Phoenix literally fold hyperspace like an accordion.” He put down his cup and picked up a napkin from a near by table. “Currently to cross the surface of this napkin—you would have to take a direct path across. But, if I fold it…” He folded it carefully several times. “The space between the edges decreases until it’s almost nothing. That’s what the engines on the Phoenix will do to hyperspace once we have the power to implement the new drive for an extended period of time.”
“And that is all your work.”
“Yes.” Rodney smiled then. “It’s neither Ancient nor Asgard.” He inclined his head. “So are you interviewing everyone on the short list this year?”
She smiled then. “No, just you.”
“Cool.” His gaze left her and traveled around the room until he saw John. “Hey, you.”
“Hey.” John came fully into the room and pulled the door shut behind him. “I thought we could get some lunch but you look busy.”
He waved a hand. “This is Cecilia Carson with Time Magazine. She’s interviewing me because of the Nobel Prize short list.”
“Ms. Carson,” John inclined his head and offered a small smile when she blushed. “I trust you’re trip into the mountain has been a good one.”
“Yes, General. Thank you.” She dropped her gaze back to her notebook. “Okay, I have about ten more questions if that is okay?”
“Sure,” Rodney nodded and then looked towards John. “I could meet you in your office?”
“Yeah, I’ll send Simmons out for some food.” John touched his shoulder and then walked away. “Got something in mind?”
“You could send him over to the bar to get some chicken wings.”
– – – –
Sean sat back in his chair and rubbed the back of his neck in frustration. He was fucking exhausted but it was really hard to be pissed off about why.
“Having a problem with the schedule?”
“No. Yes.” He turned and looked at Declan. “Suddenly all of these people are getting really demanding—asking for more time then he’s allotted for each university. I’ve had ten different organizations try to make appointments with him in the last two hours. Something is up and I don’t know what it is.”
Declan leaned on the corner of the desk and put down the fresh cup off coffee he’d brought up for him. “He said he was being interviewed by Time magazine today.”
“Yeah, he’s on the short list for the Nobel…” Sean’s mouth dropped open. “Fuck, they think he’s going to win.”
“When does it get announced?”
“Within the week of the first lecture stop. Which we might have to put on hold if the recharging project goes as planned.” Sean took the coffee and wrapped both hands around it. “Shit. That’s… I mean.”
“A big fucking deal?”
“A huge big fucking deal,” Sean corrected.
Declan nodded. “So, I should prep for an influx of reporters?”
“Probably. I mean… if his peers are gearing up and thinking he’s won it. Yeah, you need to be prepared.”
The sound of the fence alarm being activated shrilled through the house and Declan left the room at a dead run. “Where is he?”
“In his room.” Sebastian met them in the hallway, Quark clutched under one arm, and Sean grabbed his hand. “Safe room?”
“Safe room.” Declan pulled his gun as he lead them down the stairs, the men on duty were scrambling, and he could hear the dogs from several different directions. “Zuri, heel!”
The dog immediately left her place by the door and followed them down into the basement. Sean pushed a radio into his ear as they entered the safe room and then turned to Declan. “Be careful, I’m not finished with you.”
He chuckled. “Feeling is mutual.”
Declan pulled the door shut and waited until it activated before he hit radio. “The package is secure. Rico, do we have a perimeter breach?”
“Confirmed. Two targets. I repeat we have two targets.”
Declan checked his watch as he took the stairs two at a time. He clicked his radio until he hit the secure channel for the SGC control room. “Paradox is Situation Red. I repeat, Paradox is Situation Red.”
“Understood. Paradox is Situation Red. The General is requesting status on the package?”
“The package is secure.” He entered the armory and pulled off four clips. “The General may join me at my current location.”
A flash of light to his immediate right signaled that Sheppard had joined him. “Two targets. Rico is on the ground.”
“Sebastian?” John demanded as he pulled on a tac vest.
“Yours and mine are in the safe room, sir.” Declan switched back to the home frequency. “Sean, do you see anything on the cameras?”
“No, but the life sign detector clearly shows two signals in quadrant six, section four. They aren’t moving, but it could because there are four very fast and loud life signs heading in their direction.”
“The dogs,” John muttered. “Have Rico call them to guard at a distance. If they are armed I’d rather that no one get a shot at them.”
“The K-9 vests came in this afternoon.” Declan grabbed a P-90 and loaded it.
– – – –
“I’d like to congratulate you both on the fact that you did not piss your pants.” John crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the two teenagers that had managed to neutralize a section of the fence long enough to get across it. “Hand it over.”
“Hand what over?”
“The jammer you used on our fence.” He held out his hand. “Right now.”
John raised an eyebrow. “We can do this two ways—you can hand it over or I can have you searched. Your choice.”
“I’ve got rights.”
“You’ve got ten fucking seconds to hand it over or I’m going to let your father in before he calms down enough to be a rational human being. Because right now, kid, he’s foaming at the mouth.” John leaned right down in his face. “You are trespassing, you nearly got yourself killed, you scared my child, my astrophysist is ranting on a level that might give him a stroke, you tasered one of my dogs, and you have a device that can circumvent a security system designed by the smartest man on this planet. That makes you a threat to my family, Jeremy, and threats to my family don’t last long around me.”
The kid glared, pulled out a device, and dropped it quickly into John’s hand. “You know you don’t look like an asshole on TV.”
Declan sucked in a breath at the insult. “Sir, the parents want to know if we’re going to file charges.”
“Let’s go out and ask McKay.”
Out in the living room, two sets of parents were in a row on the couch while McKay paced and spoke rapidly in French. John tossed the device at Rodney as soon as the man looked up at him. Rodney caught it deftly and frowned at it. “Which one of you made this?”
“Me.” Jeremy crossed his arms.
“Both of you sit.” He pointed to the empty section of the couch and the two seventeen year old kids dropped in nearly identical slouches. “Sebastian, come here.”
Sebastian hopped up from the chair and took the device when Rodney offered it. He pulled a multi-tool out of his pocket and flipped out a screwdriver. “Looks like a cannibalized… huh…” He removed the back of it deftly. “Radio Shack special.” He walked away muttering. “It’s hitting a low end frequency on the shield. Can’t believe you missed that, Dad.”
“Yeah, whatever, that’s your engineering homework for the next week. Figure it out, backwards engineer it, and come back with a solution to the fence problem. Go upstairs to your room, please.” Rodney focused on the teenagers again and found them staring after Sebastian as he went up the stairs. “Eyes front and center, gentlemen, I’m a busy man and I don’t have all day to berate you. You’ve cost the tax payers of this country around twenty million dollars today. Are you aware of that?”
They both paled.
“Thought that might be a surprise. Let me tell you why you cost the tax payers twenty million dollars. When you broke onto my property—you activated security protocols from here to Washington, DC. Ten X-302’s at the SGC scrambled for combat, three Stargate teams that were scheduled to go off-world today were put on stand down because the threat was perceived to be substantial. The entire squadron stationed at the SGC was activated for ground combat. Men and women all over this country were pulled into the mountain via the Apollo using beam technology which by the way is not cheap.”
“Jesus.” Jeremy swallowed hard. “Dr. McKay…”
“Shut up, Mr. Styles.” Rodney pointed a finger at him. “There are no excuses accepted in this household. There are actions, reactions, and consequences.” He looked at the other kid. “So, you’re Michael, then? The little asshole that likes to cause trouble and drag your friends a long for the ride? You’ve got six arrests and you aren’t even eighteen. The only reason you aren’t going to jail today is that I’ve got plans for your ex-friend. Mr. and Mrs. Calder, you may collect your child and leave my property. If he comes here again, he will face trespassing and a variety of other charges that could land him in a federal prison. Am I clear?”
“Yes.” The father snapped and pointed at his son. “In the fucking car, Michael.”
Rodney said nothing until they were gone.
“Can I apologize now?” Jeremy asked.
“No, apologies only have value when they are sincere. You’re far more scared out of your mind than you are apologetic.”
John laughed softly and dropped down in his favorite chair. “And you thought I was an asshole.”
Jeremy blushed. “I am sorry about the dog. I didn’t know he had a taser.”
“Tallis has recovered. Your parents will get his vet bill.” John shot them a look when the mother opened her mouth to speak. “Be lucky I’m not charging you for the energy we had to use when we beamed him from our yard to the vet’s office. The other kid would have never gotten near our dogs or our house if Jeremy hadn’t been around to do all of the work.”
McKay focused on Jeremy. “You spend time with that kid because you think he’s cool and he pays attention to you. He gives you attention, Jeremy, because you have absent parents who don’t pay attention to the shit that you do in their own home, so he can get away with shit with you and at your house. He’s not cool. What he is, is a jail sentence waiting to happen.”
Rodney stared at Jeremy until the he shifted on the couch and then looked away. “Your father is so angry with you that he thinks I should file charges against you for trespassing. What he’s too pissed off to realize is that it wouldn’t just be trespassing. Your intrusion on to my property with a device you made could get you labeled a national security threat. This means that if I had you arrested—you wouldn’t get bail. You’d end up in a prison cell until the Feds came to collect you. You’re seventeen, so they probably wouldn’t isolate you. You’d end up in a county jail with a bunch of grown men who would look at you like you were a piece of candy and by the end of the night you’d have a dick in you one way or another.”
Jeremy’s mother let out a harsh gasp and his father paled.
Rodney raised an eyebrow. “Was that too blunt for you, son?”
“No, sir. I understand.”
“It’s good that you do. You’re the very top of your class. You’ve been accepted by MIT, Cal-Tech, Northwestern, and CalSci.”
“Yes, sir. Full scholarship to MIT.”
“I know,” Rodney responded coolly. “I spent twenty minutes on the phone with the Dean of Engineering while you were in the security office with my General.”
Jeremy’s face fell in horror. “Christ. Dr. McKay. I really needed that scholarship.”
“You still have that scholarship. Here’s what’s going to happen. For the next year, until you graduate from high school, you have absolutely no contact with that little asshole I just threw out of my house. I’ve called the principal of your school and he’ll make sure Michael is transferred out of any classes you might share now and in the future.”
“You owe the United States government twenty million dollars, Jeremy. This is how you are going to pay it back. Every day, after school, you will drive to Cheyenne Mountain and report to Dr. Samantha Carter. She will supervise the internship you earned yourself today. Two hours every weekday and eight hours on Saturday and Sunday. In the summer, you will report at 8:00am every morning for no less than six hours of work everyday. You will not argue with her, you will treat her with all the respect she is due, and you will walk a line so straight and so fucking narrow that people will think you trotted right off the Good Ship Lollypop. You will graduate from high school in the top one percent of your class.”
“Yes, sir.” Jeremy’s eyes got wide.
“Your internship will end with the SGC the day before you are due at MIT. Once at MIT, you will report to Dr. Kyle Rogers. He is the best engineer on the campus and he has agreed to take you on as an intern for the entire time you are at MIT.”
“Yes, sir.” He swallowed and glanced briefly at his parents.
“He’s a son of a bitch. In fact, I learned to be the son of a bitch I am at his knee.” Rodney tilted his head and looked over the kid’s face. “Straight As, parties to a minimum, girls or boys—whatever you chose to fuck—at a bare minimum. You will graduate in the top five percent of your class. You will go to graduate school, my preference is Northwestern, and the day after you’ve earned your PhD in engineering you will report to me so you can finish paying back the twenty million dollars you cost the United States government. Am I understood?”
“Good.” Rodney walked away. “Don’t make me regret how nice I just was to you, Jeremy.”
John waited until Rodney was gone and then dropped a folder on the table in front of Jeremy’s parents. “The internship is a paid position. It will give him enough to live comfortably through school if he budgets himself. There are documents in this folder both you and he will have to sign. He will not be allowed to discuss the work he does at the SGC with you. Do not ask him. You think he’s being rewarded for this very bad behavior. But he isn’t. He’s being saved from himself, and he’s being saved from a federal prison sentence. Your son is a threat to national security. The shields he broke through today are used in a variety of classified ways that make him so high on the threat scale that he could be viewed as a terrorist. His stupid friend would get a year for criminal trespassing and Jeremy would get twenty years for an act of terrorism.”
“I don’t know how…”
“Make sure he holds up his end of this deal, that’s what you can do, Mr. Styles. If he fails to comply with this deal—the Defense Department will step in.” John shoved his hands into his pockets and stared at the Jeffrey Styles for a few seconds. “You’re still pretty pissed. Don’t let me find out you vented your temper by hitting your kid.”
“I… we don’t do that.” Susan Styles closed her eyes. “We don’t do that.”
– – – –
“Just smart enough to be stupid,” Rodney muttered.
“Yeah,” John agreed. “But you did a good thing.”
“I hope so.” He laughed then. “He wouldn’t be the first would be criminal I’ve pulled out of the fire.”
“It’s better that they work for us than against us.”
“Always been my opinion. The government hasn’t always agreed with me but they normally let me have my way.”
“How long will he be watched?”
Rodney shot him a look. “He used a remote control from a toy plane, a transmitter from Radio Shack, and a home made EM field generator that is smaller than anything I’ve ever even seen, to break down the shields that currently protect the Daedalus, Apollo, and the Orion. If he works for us—he’s okay. If he doesn’t… he’ll never know a single day where there isn’t a government agent sitting a few hundred feet from him. Eventually, they’ll find a way to charge with him something and he’ll disappear.”
“We’ll just make sure he does what he’s supposed to.”
“Yeah.” Rodney nodded. “When I was looking at him, all I could think was that could have been Sebastian in a few years. If he hadn’t come to us… if he hadn’t escaped foster care and whatever the TRUST had planned for him. Angry, lonely, and so starved for attention that he would attach himself to anyone who looked his way. Only it would have been worse because while Jeremy is a naturally gifted engineer, above average intelligence he isn’t a genius like Sebastian. Jeremy has the potential to be destructive, granted. But, John, Sebastian could have been so much worse.”
“But he won’t be because he has us to make sure he learns all he needs to make moral decisions and treat life like it’s precious.”
– – – –
Rodney didn’t so much mind beaming – it was the rematerializing in a strange place that bothered him. He flinched only slightly as he appeared in Professor Charles Eppes Advanced Discrete Mathematics class. Several students squeaked which earned them glares from him and Eppes. Mathematicians should never squeak. It was a rule.
“Sorry, Rodney, the class is running long.” Charlie checked his watch. “Two minutes?”
“Sure. Sure.” Rodney walked away from the front of the room and hazarded a glance out the window. He worked so often in the mountain that it was interesting to see a work environment like this. He turned and leaned on the window ledge and frowned. John was going to be really pissed that he hadn’t brought along an escort, but it was supposed to be an in and out procedure. Twenty seconds tops. His radio was chirping in his ear quite insistently, Novak was letting him know that Ellis expected a signal for beam out in the next minute or he was sending a team of Marines to watch his ass.
“Okay, obviously the arrival of Dr. McKay has killed all of your brains. You can go.” Charlie tossed a marker on his desk and gathered up his computer bag. “Rodney, shall we?”
“Sure.” Rodney crossed to him, slapped a transmitter on his t-shirt. “Apollo, we are ready to transport. Location Paradox, please.”
Seconds later they reappeared in his living room. Charlie chuckled. “That’s… wow, McKay. After we’re done can I take a ride on the Apollo?”
“Sure, you can see the whole solar system. I know Larry brags about that incessantly, right?”
“Not until declassification and it got out he worked for the SGC instead of NASA for all of those months.” Charlie put down his bag and looked around. “Nice place, McKay.”
“Thanks, its home.”
“So, seriously, your kid solved the Mills-Yang?”
“I don’t know. I know he’s brilliant. I know he says he solved it. I haven’t looked.” Rodney shot Charlie a pained look. “Do you have any idea how that is killing me?”
Charlie laughed. “I have an idea. But you shouldn’t worry, no one on this planet would believe for a second you’d let anyone take credit for your work. Not even your kid.”
Rodney glared. “He should earn his own stuff.”
“Exactly.” Charlie put down his bag and slid into a seat at the table. “Don’t hold me in suspense, McKay. Bring out the kid and the math.”
– – – –
John paused in the doorway and stared. Sebastian and Rodney were pacing back and forth at a steady pace. Quark was laying on the table in front of a young man he’d never met but instantly recognized, and Zuri was standing in what could only be called attention—her gaze darting back and forth between Sebastian and Rodney as they moved. He looked at Sean who was sitting at the breakfast bar his thumb firmly between his lips while he chewed on a cuticle.
Sebastian turned. “Daddy! Dr. Eppes is here looking at my proof. He’s like the best mathematician on the planet.”
Rodney snorted but didn’t disagree. Eppes’ magic with math was well known. Very few people on the planet even came close. The twenty-eight year old kid had done more than his share of ground breaking proof work in the math world and Rodney had talked once or twice about recruiting him for the SGC. It was actually too bad that the man was too wrapped up in working for the FBI to really be tempted by what the SGC had to offer.
“General Sheppard.” Charlie smiled. “It’s a pleasure.” He stood and held out his hand. “My brother thinks you could be the best thing ever.”
John took the hand with a grin. “I thought all the FBI agents hated me.”
“Nah, just the ones that you catch failing to do their jobs. The rest find you highly amusing.” Charlie looked back down at the notebook he was studying and then looked back at John. “I gotta…”
“Yeah.” John nodded and watched the younger man plow back into the notebook. He walked to where Rodney had stopped pacing. “Hey. How long?”
“Does his brother know you’ve snatched him out of his classroom at CalSci?” John asked amused. “I think genius-napping could be a serious thing.”
Rodney frowned. “Charlie, did you tell Don you were going to be here today?”
Charlie glanced up and his eye brows lifted slightly. “I’m a grown man, McKay.”
“So you didn’t tell him,” John translated. “Seriously? Dr. Eppes.”
Charlie sighed and pulled out his cell phone. “He hasn’t called.” He made a show of flipping through his digital phonebook and pushing to make a call. “Hey, Don, I’m in Colorado Springs with Rodney McKay so tell Dad not to hold dinner and I’ll let you know when I’ll be coming home in the next couple of hours.” He hung up and smiled. “There. All notified.”
John shook his head. He was pretty sure that voice mail wasn’t going to cut it but that was between the Eppes brothers.
Four hours later, his entire family was sitting in the living room taking turns staring at Charles Eppes. Ian Wilkes was ensconced in a recliner near the fire place and both Dr. Lam and Dr. Keller had arrived to check on him. They’d made over the young man enough that he’d eventually started slapping at their hands in a painless but effectual manner. Then the two women had started puttering around the kitchen with Jeannie and found food to make for dinner.
Rodney and Radek Zelenka had kept Eppes properly caffeinated with the very good coffee, and Sebastian had retreated behind his iPod sometime in the last hour. Don Eppes had called him personally to verify the safety of his brother and John had invited the man and their father to the house for dinner. The Apollo was going to beam them over in an hour.
That maneuver had caused a shit storm of curiosity at the SGC so he wasn’t surprised when O’Neill, his wife, and the twins had arrived shortly afterward. Sam had taken one look at Eppes and pounced on Rodney for verification of the ‘rumor’ that was already flying through the entire mountain. This news had made Sebastian shrink further away from them and John figured it was because if he was wrong—everyone would be disappointed. Don and Alan Eppes arrived with little fanfare and were quickly invited into the group of people by the fire with a glass of wine and the promise of food.
Finally, Charlie stood up from the table and closed the notebook carefully. “Sebastian, may I speak with you?”
Sebastian jerked off his iPod and slid out of his grandfather’s lap with relunctance. “Yes, sir.” He walked across the room and cocked his head at him.
Charlie squatted down so they were at an eye level and grinned. “You just rocked my world.”
“It’s… perfect. It’s absolutely perfect.” Charlie smiled. “I’d be jealous if I wasn’t so pleased to have been the first to see it.”
“You’re sure?” Rodney asked.
Charlie stood. “Yes, I’m sure. There are some people at Cambridge that will never be the same.”
John wanted to be happy about it—but in that moment he just felt devastated. How in the hell could he protect them both? He smiled but Rodney looked at him with concern. He watched McKay’s eyes soften with understanding and then Rodney snatched Sebastian right up off his feet for a hug.
“Seriously?” Rodney sighed. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me this the moment we met.”
Sebastian laughed and hugged him back. “Seriously? I was too busy trying to win you over with my insanely perfect personality.”
“Ah, kid.” Rodney fisted his hands in Sebastian’s shirt and sighed. “You had me from minute one—just like your dad.”
– – – –
“It’s not easy.”
John looked over at Alan Eppes. “Keeping track of the grown up one takes every ounce of training I’ve got.” He glanced over at Sebastian and Rodney—everyone had split up after dinner. All the geeks to the left and everyone else to the right. They’d made a dash to Rodney’s office to make copies of the proof—and now they were all elbow deep in it. Occasionally one of them would make Sebastian defend something he’d done with it. John knew they were preparing him for the presentation of his proof. That was a little unnerving as well.
“Charlie never let anything hold him back,” Alan swirled his wine in his glass and sighed. “Never let anything stand in the way of what he wanted. I fought his mother on sending him off to college so young but I lost that fight.”
John shared a look with his own father. “It’s different for Sebastian. By the time he’s ready for college—Atlantis will be here. He’s already at risk just by being our kid and now on top of it the world is going to know…”
“How smart he is.”
“Yes.” John sighed. “Rodney and I have discussed it with the DOD. We’re going to offer which ever university Sebastian wants—we’re going to offer them a satellite campus on Atlantis. We’ll probably offer it to several major universities—it’ll be a good resource for the military personnel as well as civilians on the base. I can’t risk him being that far away from us. Not until he can defend himself and I can’t honestly send him off to college at twelve or thirteen with a bunch of security guards either. It’s bad enough that I missed the first ten years of his life.”
“That’s a good idea.” Don frowned. “I think we’ll lose Charlie to a project like that.”
Alan laughed. “Oh, yes. I believe so as well. He and Larry will be chomping at the bit to get CalSci into that situation.”
“CalSci is at the top of Sebastian’s list,” John admitted. “He’s very enamored with your son’s work.”
– – – –
John leaned in the doorway and watched Rodney and Sebastian. They were at Sebastian’s desk talking softly. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Rodney turned. “What’s up?”
“I thought we could take a ride.” He raised one eyebrow. “In a Jumper.”
“Yeah. The Eppes family is on the Apollo getting a tour and apparently trying to talk Ellis into a side trip to a different solar system so they’ll have one up on Fleinhardt.” John grinned. “I don’t think Ellis likes Larry—so they are probably half-way to another solar system by now.”
Rodney chuckled. “Larry gave Ellis fits the entire time he was on board the Apollo.”
Sebastian turned carefully in his chair and stared at his father. “If you don’t want me to publish this, Dad. I won’t. It can wait until I’m older. It’s already waited more than a year.”
John swallowed hard. “Sebastian.”
“I know you’re upset.” Sebastian glared and Rodney sighed.
He took a deep breath. “Let’s take that ride. Major Lorne brought the Jumper to us.”
– – – –
“Holy shit.” Sebastian took a deep breath as the atmosphere of Earth melted away to space. Then turned and frowned at both of his parents. “No plea for better language?”
John laughed. “There is nothing that could be said that is more appropriate for that moment.” He inclined his head. “Can you feel her?”
“Yes.” Sebastian nodded. “Does the city feel lonely?”
“No.” John shook his head. “I deactivated the AI before we sank the city so that she wouldn’t be alone again. It took us months to mend the damage done to her when the Ancients abandoned her.” He cleared his throat. “I promised her that she would sleep until I returned for her. The echo in the Jumpers is just a sub-routine that allows her to keep track of the Jumpers. When they are plugged back into Atlantis—she can tell if there are problems and download logs—all of that.”
“I want to go.”
“No,” Rodney and John said at the same time.
“We’re a team, right?” Sebastian asked his eyes dark with emotion. “You said that, Dad.”
Rodney flushed. “It’s dangerous, Sebastian.”
“Living is dangerous.” Sebastian leaned forward and looked out the window. “The Phoenix is the most advanced ship we have, right? You’re building those super shields that cloak?”
“So, I want to go.”
John was quiet for a moment, he knew that Rodney was going to leave this decision to him. He sort of hated him for it for a few seconds. Then he pushed that stupid, petty notion aside and cleared his throat. “I want you to publish the proof.”
“Yes, really.” John sighed. “But, you aren’t going to Atlantis with us.”
“Dad.” He frowned.
“Sebastian. If I fail to bring her home… you’ll be her only hope of recovery. I want you to stay on Earth with my father while we make this attempt. If Rodney and I don’t make it—you’ll be the only hope the SGC has of making her live again. I owe that to Atlantis. None of the other gene carriers on Earth will be able to fly her. It’ll be up to you and I’m leaving behind all the support you could ever need if it should come to that. You’ll have to work hard, train well, study… but when the time is right, when you’re older, you’ll be able to try again for Earth, for Atlantis.”
Sebastian stared out at the space in front of them for a few minutes. “Okay, then, so I should learn how to fly a jumper and we should go to the outpost so I can sit in the chair with you.”
“C’mere.” John slid back in his seat and Sebastian easily scrambled into his lap. “I’ll be right here so don’t worry about mistakes.”
“Okay.” Sebastian took a deep breath and slid his hands on top of his father’s. Then released it as John pulled his hands away. “Oh, it’s in my head… oh my God. Nothing can be better than this.”
Rodney and John laughed.
“This is my wish for you,” John whispered. “The universe will be yours to explore.”