More Than Words – Part Three

– – – –

John paused at the doors that lead out to the deck with a frown. Rodney and Sebastian were sitting side by side on the steps. The conversation was obviously a serious one. He wondered briefly if he should just walk away but he pushed that aside. He was pretty much of the opinion that neither one of them got to keep secrets from him.

“I was working in a lab in Siberia. I got a little pissed off at O’Neill and took a break from the SGC. Just a few months, helping the Russians on their Naquadah generator project. At the time, it was very important that we maintain a good relationship with them.”

“Must have been cool to be on the ground level on that research.”

“Yeah. It was,” Rodney admitted. “The Russians had a great need for power as you can imagine—big cold ass country they have.” He sighed and leaned back on his hands. “I pushed the scientists on the project hard because after about two weeks I was more than ready to come home but I knew I couldn’t come home until I was done.”

“How long were you there?”

“Close to six months at the end of it. We were working in an old nuclear power facility, dismantled but certainly full of dangerous crap. The Russians were kind of nonchalant about the disposal of nuclear waste during that time. I had a team of about ten scientists—none of which who spoke English. My Russian was passable but we occasionally had communication problems. In the end, rot gut liquor ended up soothing a lot of bruised feelings.”

Sebastian snickered. “I bet.”

Rodney laughed. “So, anyway, the Russians had used their gate for a couple of months before the SGC caught on and we reached an agreement about it not happening again. There was this device in the facility. I was very fascinated by it and harassed the hell out of the base commander to get permission to play with it.”

“Did you get it?”

“Yes.” Rodney sighed. “I did. They figured it was a potential power device and were eager to let me play after I’d begged appropriately. It turned out it wasn’t a power source but a weapon.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, big fucking ‘oh’. I got so wrapped up in what I was doing—I didn’t pay attention to how personnel in the facility started to change out. Before I really knew what was going on most of the scientists were gone and the entire place swarming with military grunts and what was probably the KGB. It happened in a matter of days.”

“So what happened?”

“I’m a vain man, Sebastian. A very vain man. I assumed they would let me leave but I was mistaken. It was hardly the first time someone had kept me a prisoner but they didn’t hurt me. Just forced me to work. I took the thing apart and pretended to start work on backwards engineering it. Instead, I made sure it would never work again.”

“That was good, right?”

“Yeah.” Rodney nodded. “Then I built something else.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh. It wasn’t the first bomb I’d ever built. It wasn’t even the first time I’d set up a bomb to kill people—but I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t account for the details because I was pissed off, distracted, and I’m ashamed to admit a little excited. I used the explosive from the device to build the bomb. I never tested it, had no idea what it would do. I was just going to show those fuckers they couldn’t keep me a hostage.”

“So, it was an Ancient drone right?”

“Yeah,” Rodney nodded. “It was. When I saw it again at the Ancient outpost years later I nearly threw up.”

“How many people did you kill, Dad?”

“All of them,” Rodney said at a near whisper. “I left a crater where most of that base used to be and it nearly killed me as well. I’d planned for it to be a distraction and never considered that it might be more. It took me two days to crawl out the wreckage and by the time I did O’Neill was on the ground looking for me.”

“Did you tell them?”

“No. I didn’t tell anyone what I’d done. I didn’t want to admit it to even myself. And they never asked. No one asked. I guess because they knew somehow I was responsible and they didn’t want to know how.”

“Why are you telling me?”

“Because today you got so wrapped in your discovery and your plans that you neglected the fact that you were dealing with technology that could have killed us all. Every member of your family was in that mountain today, Sebastian. Your Uncle Matthew was in the gym with Cameron. Your Uncle David was on the target range. Your dad and I were in the conference room with your grandfather. Madison and Jeannie were in the mess having lunch with Radek. Jennifer and Carrie were in the infirmary. Five hundred people were in the mountain today when you activated the VPG. You were two floors above the armory and three floors beneath the Stargate. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” Sebastian took a deep breath. “I didn’t think.”

“No. You didn’t.”

“I would never risk anyone’s life on purpose.” His voice cracked. “I wouldn’t.”

“No, son, I know that. I just… you’re scary smart Sebastian and the intuitive gift you demonstrated with Ancient technology today was a little overwhelming. The fact is that no one like you has ever handled Ancient tech for us before. Your gene and your intelligence make you dangerous. Everyone around you knows that and I need you to know that, too. I need you to stop and think about the lives around you every single time to set out to do an experiment or make a choice that could take those lives. I need you to promise me that it will be the first thing you think about every single time.”

“I won’t forget. I promise.”

“Good.” Rodney bumped him. “Being a genius is a huge responsibility, you know.”

Sebastian shot him a look. “Are we having a Spiderman moment?”

Rodney snorted. “Shit.”

John watched in silence as Sebastian leaned into Rodney’s side and buried his face against his shoulder. He wasn’t surprised by the way his fingers clenched in McKay’s shirt, he was obviously crying. Rodney gathered him up silently and they sat there. He pulled the door shut gently and shared a glance with his father who was at the table with a beer.

“They okay?”

“Yeah.” John sat down. “I think so. Long day.”

“Very long day,” Patrick sighed. “Those assholes from Area 51 looked at him like he was a potential new weapon, John.”

“I know. They look at McKay the same way. Giddy and terrified at the same time.” He grabbed the beer he’d abandoned earlier and took a long drink from the bottle. “I keep them at bay when it comes to McKay with pure strength of will. They’ve gotten worse since the ZPM stuff came to light. Once he actually charges one… I won’t be able to trust half the people that work with us to keep his best interests in mind. They always pushed him in the past—pushed and demanded and at times forced work out of him no matter the consequences to his emotional and physical health.”

“I read his file. I know he used to work a hundred hours a week, ate like a college student, and consumed coffee by the gallons every single day. Carrie didn’t pull any punches when she laid out his health for everyone to see after his heart attack. She made it clear that she though the government and most specifically the SGC were killing him with their expectations.”

“O’Neill worked hard to correct that but I don’t blame them. McKay let that happen—he was always more interested in the next big discovery and sleep or food took a back seat to that. I don’t want that for Sebastian. I really don’t. I want him to have a life—I want him to enjoy what I’m fighting to protect.” John rested his head on the table in what he was sure looked like defeat. “I want him to fall in love, learn where his strengths are, discover his weaknesses without anyone getting hurt, and more than anything I don’t want him to end up like me.”

“There is nothing wrong with you,” Patrick snapped.

John laughed. “Really? Christ, Dad, I’d hate to think what you think ‘fucked up’ looks like if I’m okay.” He lifted his head. “Seriously. McKay and I are damaged. Maybe that’s why we work. I ignore his nightmares until he reaches for me and when I’m wound so tight I can’t even talk he just waits until I can.” He looked over his father’s face, saw the guilt and the pain drift over features so much like his own and sighed. “Not all you, Dad. I could have fought to repair what happened between us. I always knew I could come home—even when I was still furious and hurt. I knew I could come home.”

“Sometimes I feel like we’ll never get past it, you know.”

John laughed then, sad and a little bitter. “We’re better now than I ever thought we would be. That you’re here and sharing the same work as me… that we’re all working and fighting for the same thing. It’s amazing, really.”

The French doors opened and Rodney slipped inside with Sebastian asleep in his arms. “Thank you, Thomas.”

“No problem, Dr. McKay.” The security guard closed the doors quickly.

“Need help?” John asked.

“No.” Rodney shook his head. “I’ll be back down in a few minutes.”

John watched him carry their child up the stairs and then stood. “So, maybe a snack is in order. Neither one of us ate a lot of dinner.”

“You seemed preoccupied,” Patrick admitted.

“He really did advance our species today,” John admitted ruefully. “Totally advanced. The energy capabilities alone are outstanding. If they can find a metal that is easy to produce on Earth for duplication… on a larger scale. It really could alter the world economy on a scale we haven’t seen since the invention of the combustion engine.”

He pulled a block of cheese from the refrigerator and started slicing as Rodney came back down the stairs. “Hey.”

“Hey, good idea.” Rodney pulled a bottle of wine from the kitchen wine rack and checked the label. “Remind me to contact Jared about updating our wine selection.” He found a cork screw in a drawer and deftly opened the bottle. “Want some?”

“No, I’ve had a beer.” John waved his knife towards the refrigerator. “Ham, roast beef, and turkey are the choices.”

“Roast beef for me and turkey for you?” Rodney questioned.

“Yeah.” John went back to slicing. “Dad?”

“No, I’m good. Rodney, is Sebastian okay?”

“Yeah, just a little upset.” Rodney pulled out some bread and set it on the counter near John for slicing. “I just forced him to recognize something in himself that was distasteful.”

“A lesson he needed?” Patrick asked softly.

“Oh, yes.” Rodney nodded. “I see something in his work—something he probably won’t hit on for another few years that scare the hell out of me.”

“Like what?” John asked.

“Like bombs built out of singularities,” Rodney murmured. “His private proof work, the VPG, and a few other things he’s working on—it’s all leading down a very destructive road.”

John took a deep breath. “Singularity weapons.”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure?”

“He harnessed, controlled, and set up a renewing environment for vacuum energy, John. Granted, he did it by repairing an Ancient device but he understood it. But he figured out how to build more while he was repairing it. Now that we know how it works… we realize it’s a simple device. Simple, beautiful, and powerful.” Rodney rubbed his face with both hands. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“Can you do it now?” John raised an eyebrow in question.

“Yes, I could,” Rodney admitted. “I’ve always considered it a weapon of last resort. Once you’ve destroyed a solar system—you make an effort not to build weapons that could make doing it really easy for others to do with the push of a button.”

“Should we isolate him from the work being done at the SGC?”

“No.” Rodney shook his head. “He did his first proof without us, John. Granted, his mother did a good job of exposing him to advanced subjects when the school he attended couldn’t meet his needs. That she let him skip grades and had private tutors despite the fact she felt she was holding him back… speaks to what she knew about his abilities. His mind is still very fluid and limitless. I haven’t made leaps like he does in years.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you know he took weekly lessons with his grandmother for years to play the violin? One hour on Friday afternoons, and two hours of practice on Saturdays. That’s it—and he plays better than most adults. He’s not as passionate about it. He could be so much more if he put his time into it. I think he plays to remind himself of her.” Rodney sighed. “He’s a contradiction really – full of potential but content to draw out plans for a half-pipe for his rollerblades.”

John laughed. “He’s a kid, Mer. Let’s let him keep that as long as possible.”

– – – –

“The state wants us to put Sebastian in a school.” Rodney dropped into a chair in front of John. “They are insisting.”

John frowned. “I thought we’d gotten approval for home schooling?”

“We did.”

“What does the lawyer say?”

“That we have to play by the rules or we can sue the state.”

John frowned. He figured he knew which route Rodney would want to go. “So, just a school. It doesn’t matter which one?”

“They will certainly try to insist that it’s a public school. It’s politics, John.”

“They can’t force us to put him public school. First and foremost, it would be dangerous for the other children. Second, they don’t stand a chance of actually educating him. He’ll test right out… his mother let him skip several grades before she put her foot down. You know he’d end up in a high school environment and Mer, he’s just too young for that in a public school.”

“They’ve sicced a social worker on us as well. They are saying it’s because our adoption is new but I think it’s the move we’ve been waiting on from the Trust.”

“They’re going to keep it up and I’ll do something they’ll all regret,” John snapped. He pushed back from his desk. “Does he know?”

“Oh yeah, I sort of lost my temper on the phone when Wilson called so he heard all of that. He’s downstairs with Zelenka. They are working on a project for his mechanical engineering studies. There are a few more Ancient devices that are broken. We figured it wouldn’t hurt for Sebastian to take them apart and study them. No activation or repairs, promise.” Rodney sighed. “So, there is that private school… Fountain Valley. It’s up near Pike’s Peak. The tuition is reasonable and we could probably have his curriculum structured to challenge him instead of boring the shit out of him.”

“He comes home every day and the first noise anyone makes about boarding him gets dealt with swiftly. I mean it.”

“Agreed.” Rodney held up a hand. “We have an appointment with the Dean this afternoon if you can swing it. A lot of the kids from the SGC are enrolled there so they are used to our requirements.”

“Except, Sebastian has a body guard.”

“Yeah, there is that to consider.” Rodney paused. “And we have to consent to a home visit by the social worker this week.”

– – – –

“I was pleased to hear from you Dr. McKay.” The Dean of Fountain Valley was one of those sleekly put together women who glided more than she walked, they both found it unnerving. “I’d hoped to get you on our guest lecturer schedule this year but I was informed by your personal manager that your calendar is quite full for the next two years.”

Rodney laughed and shrugged. “Space travel… it can make scheduling a real nightmare.”

Dr. Brooks flushed. “Yes, of course.” She put her hands together over the folder on her desk. “I reviewed Sebastian’s transcripts from his previous school and while his age is a concern I believe we could place him in our advanced placement program at a ninth grade level. It does put his graduation from our institution at the age of fourteen. We know that he could sprint through a public school much faster than that.”

“We’d prefer that he didn’t,” John murmured. “He isn’t going to catch a lot of breaks as it is. Do we need to talk about his body guard?”

“No. I fully expect him to have an armed body guard. He won’t even be the only one in the building. We have several secret service agents on the campus at any given moment and we have our own security team on the property 24/7. Many of the students who are housed here come from prominent and wealthy families.” She inclined her head. “How does he feel about coming to school here?”

Rodney shrugged. “I don’t know that he cares particularly. He’s not had a great year and I think he lets change roll right off of him rather than absorbing it.”

“We have a counselor on campus…”

“He has a psychologist with a high government clearance. It’s best if that arrangement stay as it is. Due to the nature of our jobs he’s exposed to information even in passing that can’t be shared.” John stood and walked to the large window in that filled up half a wall in the office. “None of the teachers are allowed to ask him questions about the SGC. He understands what he can and can’t share with others. That being said, he’s required to report anyone that questions the work that his parents do.”

“We’re aware of that policy. We have thirty children on campus who have parents at the SGC or at the Air Force Academy.” Dr. Brooks raised an eyebrow. “Granted most of them didn’t get to ride on the Phoenix when it launched. It makes him special. I’ll make sure the staff is very aware of what topics they can’t discuss with him.”

John turned and leaned against the window seal. “When he was in foster care, he was mistreated by other children. It is one reason why I didn’t want to put him in school at all. He’s an attractive child and he has a smart mouth. I need to know that if I’m leaving our son in your care on a daily basis that I don’t have to worry about him coming home and telling me that…” He trailed off. “Even with a bodyguard, things could happen. I don’t actually expect our security personnel to follow him into the locker room or a bathroom stall.”

“General Sheppard, I understand your concern. I can assure you that Fountain Valley does not tolerate physical or emotional abuse between students or between students and staff. We have two hundred and sixty children on campus during the day and it is our goal to see them educated and protected in every way possible.”

John nodded. “Okay, so what do we need to do?”

“His transcripts are good. I’m concerned about his last semester at his former school but considering his intelligence, how unchallenging a public school environment can be for a child like him, the loss of his mother, and an abusive foster care situation I’m a little stunned his grades slipped only minimally. His abilities will be a challenge, but I’ve discussed the situation with our staff already and we are prepared to make him work. Our classes are normally around twelve students but he’s unique. We’ll strive to make him feel as normal as possible while we prepare him for whatever career suits him best. His SSAT scores put him in the top one percent of children in the country and our math department is… well to be frank… the head of the math department giggled when I mentioned in the staff meeting this morning that we might have Sebastian for a student.”

Rodney laughed. “I’ll want to be involved in his curriculum planning.”

“We suspected so.” The Dean inclined head. “Your input would be appreciated as you know him better than we do but he must meet the standards of the state as well as your own.”

“Understood.”

“We are nearly finished for the year so his first day of school will be September 9th as a Freshman. We’ll get registration and the other details taken care of over the next few months. He’ll be required to be on campus from 8:00AM to 2:30PM and I’ll need the names of all the security personnel that you’ll be sending with him.”

“We can forward you their government background checks.” John tilted his head when the woman flushed. “I wouldn’t even think about leaving our son in your care if I didn’t think you’d be doing background checks on every single person that comes onto this campus. Especially those that carry loaded weapons.” He sighed. “That being said, one of your professors has a rather large FBI file for a civilian and was dismissed from his last position for teaching creationism.” He held out a hand when McKay inhaled. “Mer, we agreed that I’d discuss this because you nearly had a stroke just thinking about it.”

“You mean Dr. Phelps.” The Dean grinned. “Yes, I realize he’s something of a firecracker but he wasn’t actually teaching creationism. That was just the excuse they used to get rid of him. He was teaching a Human Development course and used several books from the Old Testament to outline how humanity used morality and oral history to shape society. He’s an atheist and considers the Holy Bible an allegory at the least and one of the most fascinating pieces of fiction ever put on paper at the most. You’re welcome to meet him. I’d promise to keep Sebastian out of his way but honestly—all the children on campus gravitate towards him. I doubt your son would be an exception.”

“Your website mentioned an essay and an interview?”

Dr. Brooks nodded. “Yes, we normally require those but Sebastian’s circumstances are different and let’s be honest, gentlemen, there are schools all over the area that want him. He solved a Millennium Problem and having him in our student body is a boon. I imagine the state wants him in a public school so they can artificially inflate their average test scores and of course, whatever school he ends up in will get the benefit of having a billionaire as a contributor to various funding opportunities.” She wrinkled her nose at that. “It’s the nature of the beast. I’m glad you chose Fountain Valley but beyond being lax on his admission—he’ll be treated like every other student at Fountain Valley. He’ll be required to meet all of the standards like other students. He’ll be sheltered because of his age—but he isn’t the only child under the age of ten we have. Granted, he’ll just be one of two but we’ll do everything within our power to see that he’s socially educated.”

“You mean Rachel Davis, right?” John relaxed a little. “General Davis’ daughter.”

“Yes. Rachel will be joining us in the fall when her father’s appointment as the superintendent of the Air Force academy is formally announced. She’ll be turning ten over the summer.” She flipped open the file. “Within the same week as Sebastian. Perhaps you could get the two of them together before that—help them create a friendship. They’ll need that kind of support coming into a new academic environment and being special on top of everything else.”

“Will they share classes?”

“Yes, they’ll share probably half their classes. Her focus will be slightly different because currently she intends become a medical doctor like her late mother.”

– – – –

“What’s not to like?” Sebastian swung his feet and glanced around the deck. The woman had wanted to stay in the house but he’d vetoed that choice. If he was going to be interviewed by a social worker it was going to be on his terms.

“Surely there must be some adjustments to be made.”

“Sure, sure. It was pretty hard to get used to sleeping through the night and not having to worry about some other kid hitting me or stealing my stuff.” He shot her a look. She wasn’t all that different than the social workers he’d dealt with in California. Jaded and so overworked they’d long forgotten why they ever got into social services to begin with. He wondered how long it had been since she’d actually helped a kid. “I have no complaints, Ms. Dawson.”

“I understand your father enrolled you in Fountain Valley for the fall semester. Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a school environment where you had children your own age?”

Sebastian shrugged. “I wasn’t all that comfortable in my old school and I literally surrounded by kids my age. My Dads say that the school will be a good environment for me and I’m taking a tour tomorrow. They said if I don’t like it we can check out others in the area.”

“Do you have any questions or concerns about your father’s sexual relationship with Dr. McKay?”

He laughed. “Wow. That was blunt. I don’t think anyone but the psychologist I see has never been that blunt about the gay sex thing.”

“I’m required to ask.”

“I’m sure.” He rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe they leave the SGC in this backward, ridiculous state. It’s kind of stupid. I think we should move the whole thing to somewhere more progressive and forward thinking—maybe Seattle, Washington. They at least have a decent football team.”

“The Broncos…”

“Lady, they suck.” Sebastian pointed a finger at her. “Seriously, they suck. They haven’t won a Super Bowl since I was born and that’s pretty horrible.” He leaned back in his chair and picked up his glass of juice. “And don’t do that again.”

“What?”

“Talk about my other dad like he’s just…” He waved his hand. “They are both my parents, Ms. Dawson. Legally they have equal rights and it doesn’t matter to me that one of them contributed biologically and the other one didn’t. If for some reason that I can’t fathom they split up—I’d make them share custody until they saw reason and got back together. They are my parents and it’s insulting for you to insinuate otherwise.” She just stared. “And as for the sex thing—no I don’t speculate about their sex life. It would be really weird if I did. I’m nine years old. My biggest concern on any given day is getting a few hours of time on the PS3. Which, you know come to think of it, is a complaint. They totally Bogart the PlayStation.”

She fought a smile. “I see.”

“It’s good that you do.” His hand tightened into a fist in his lap. “I had to put up with a lot of crap to get here, you know. No one believed me when I said who my biological father was. No one believed me until I said it to them. My Dads took me seriously when everyone else just called me a liar.”

“Surely you have to understand the point of view…”

“No, I don’t. It would have taken one phone call from social services in California. One phone call that would have resulted in a conversation with my Dad. If he hadn’t known my mother at all—it would have been over. But they didn’t even do that and as a result I spent six months in foster care where if I got through the day without someone punching me I considered it a good day. You’ll excuse me if I don’t have the inclination to see anyone else’s point of view on that subject.”

“Your parents have dangerous jobs. How do you feel about the upcoming mission to Atlantis?”

“I’m very proud of what they are going to do for the security of our world. If I grow up to be half the man either of them are—I’ll consider myself lucky.” He pushed his empty juice glass around. “Are we done?”

“Almost.” She tried to smile but failed miserably. “Did you ever meet a woman named Susan Manning?”

Sebastian’s felt his stomach tighten and bit down on his bottom lip. “Yeah, she was my mother’s step-sister. My grandmother was married to her Dad for a while in the nineties I think. My mother and Dr. Manning kept in touch but they had an argument over me. More to the point—my mom’s ex-step-sister tried to say that I’d better off with her since she was married. My mother refused and they spoke once a year until she died. I met her two years ago when we buried my grandmother. She didn’t attend my mother’s funeral, such as it was, and I haven’t had any contact with her at all.”

“She didn’t know your mother was dead and since she wasn’t a blood relative she was never approached by the state of California. Mrs. Manning has contacted us and is seeking to visit you.”

“I have no interest in seeing her.” Sebastian stood abruptly. “You should ask my Dads to see what they think.”

– – – –

John watched Sebastian slip through the French doors, toss an irritated look towards the social worker who was following, and make a beeline for the stairs. Zuri offered the social worker a throaty growl before following.

“Well, that lasted longer than I expected.”

Helen Dawson stiffened. “Yes, well, your son is difficult to talk with when he doesn’t wish to communicate.”

“Most people of his intelligence are.” John motioned her to sit at the table. “Dr. McKay regrets that he couldn’t remain. There was a problem at the mountain that needed his immediate attention.”

“I see.” She slide into a chair and put her brief case down on the table. “First, he seems to be adjusting to his new situation. Second, he’ll probably do well at Fountain Valley. They have an excellent reputation and have often worked with gifted children. Granted, I doubt they’ve ever dealt with anyone quite like Sebastian. I’ll pass my approval for the school with other recommendations.”

“What other recommendations?”

“We’d like him to see a psychologist.”

“He already sees a psychologist.”

“A state psychologist.”

John shook his head. “No, it’s not possible. Sebastian is by the nature of our jobs exposed to classified situations and circumstances that he could not discuss with anyone outside the SGC. He sees Dr. Kate Heightmeyer three times a month and that will have to do.”

“We aren’t privy to her reports.”

“You don’t have the clearance to be privy to her reports and patient notes concerning Sebastian. You’re the fourth social worker that has tried to gain access to him and the Pentagon refused them all but you.” He inclined his head. “Your background was thoroughly investigated before we allowed you on the property. They even searched your house and made a list of all the men you’ve ever slept with in your life. By the way, your boyfriend from high school is interested in seeing you again.”

She flushed. “Excuse me?”

“He’s at risk, Ms. Dawson. There are people on and off this planet that would like to have me or Dr. McKay at their mercy in some fashion or another. The best path to that is our child.”

“I see.” She opened the file in front of her. “He did have one complaint.”

John’s eyes widened but he kept his mouth closed by sheer will. “Okay.”

“Apparently the two of you ‘Bogart’ the PlayStation.” She bit down on her lip and then looked up. “It concerns him greatly.”

“He’s rotten,” John muttered. “Spoiled rotten.”

“Yes, but under the circumstances it doesn’t seem to be doing him any harm. After the last year… I’d say he deserves to be coddled.” She cleared her throat. “Now, his mother had a step-sister, actually his mother had several step siblings over the years. Apparently, her mother got married a lot.”

“Yes, it was something of a hobby for her.” John chuckled. “Great lady though. I really enjoyed Joanne. She wasn’t like anyone else I’d ever met in my life. So what about Karen’s step-sister?”

“Susan Manning.”

“Ah, yes, I met her once.”

“She’s petitioned the state of California for custody of her sister’s child. The filing came through this morning. She’s seeking custody of Sebastian on the grounds that you are in an amoral relationship.” She held up a hand when he started to speak. “She’s also seeking to visit him and has filed a request with the state of Colorado. Mrs. Manning has absolutely no standing in court because she isn’t even a blood relative. Even if she were, the rights of the biological father would supersede any claim she might have.”

“Our lawyer…”

“Will get a copy of the filings within the hour. I was asked not to release the information until after I’d interviewed the child. He has met Susan Manning once but told me he’d rather not see her again. He left the final choice for you and Dr. McKay. He’s not aware of that she’s contesting your custody of him.”

“Shit.”

“She’s also demanding DNA tests be conducted by the state.”

“She’ll have to through a Federal court to get my DNA,” John murmured neutrally. “And even then the Pentagon might fight it.” John stood and started to pace. “Okay, so what do we do?”

“Talk to your lawyer, get your ducks in a row, and allow a state psychologist to interview Sebastian. He or she can be vetted by the Pentagon and sign a non-disclosure agreement if necessary. His current psychologist can even sit in on the meeting. The court has ordered supervised visitation until a hearing and it would be best if you didn’t fight us on it.”

“Anything else?”

“He doesn’t seem to have a problem with your relationship with Dr. McKay and got angry with me when I purposely implied that you were his parent and Dr. McKay was… just your friend.”

John frowned at her. “Why would you do that?”

“It’s important. They’ll ask me in court about how he feels concerning the adoption by Dr. McKay.” She closed the folder. “Your marriage isn’t legal in this state, General. It’s important to remember that.”

– – – –

“I wonder how much the Trust is paying her to do this.”

John grimaced. “It must be a lot for her to afford to go against us in a court. I’m his biological father and the money… she’s not going to win.”

“But in doing this she might get access to DNA. Yours and Sebastian’s for paternity tests. I’m really surprised the Trust never smuggled that out of the NID.”

“They have no hope now—Maybourne is a genuine asshole and he’s taking no prisoners when it comes to the running of that place.”

“What does Sebastian know?”

“That she wants to visit him.” John grimaced. “He’s not… he’s going to figure it out so we might as well tell him.”

“Yeah.” Rodney sighed and started to pace back and forth across their bedroom. “It’s dangerous, John. Very dangerous. You know there are plenty of people who would give a lot to get their hands on him. His genome is almost ninety-eight percent Ancient. He’s practically a clone of you in that respect.”

“I know.” John closed his eyes and rested back on the bed. He knew better than most what it was like to be wanted because of a quirk in his DNA. “I think his mother had a latent ATA gene.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because…” John sighed. “Because I was attracted to her. Very attracted to her at least physically. She’s probably the only woman I’ve ever kissed because I really wanted to.” He sat up and rubbed his face. “I was compelled to sleep with her. I think that’s how the ATA gene has managed to stay with us for so long. I think that ATA gene carriers must seek each other out for procreation.”

“Jesus, John.” Rodney swallowed hard. “Seriously?”

“My memories of her are fuzzy in some places and vivid in others. Physically, we were drawn to each other and very… passionate. I couldn’t connect with her emotionally and that is the reason we eventually parted ways.” He looked towards Rodney. “After you received the gene therapy…”

“Yeah?” Rodney asked, suddenly amused.

“I’ve always been drawn to you. I’ve wanted you since the moment I set eyes on you but after you got the gene therapy it all sort of…. ramped up.”

Rodney nodded. “Yes, that is something I do understand. I noticed that I was a little more keyed up to be with you… I just didn’t realize…” He sighed. “We should really discuss this with Jennifer and Carrie. They should know this about gene carriers.”

“Yeah, maybe. Maybe they already know.” John left the bed and walked to the set of French doors that lead to the new balcony off the room. It had been installed while they’d been on the lecture tour and while he enjoyed it he’d never asked McKay why it had suddenly appeared. “Susan Manning. Can we do some research on her?”

“Yeah, I’ll get someone on it.”

­ – – – –

PART FOUR

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It's not the usual kind of hobby for a "domestic engineer" in her 30's but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people's expectations.

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