* * * *
Five days and six interviews later, Rodney was ready to have a screaming fit. None of them would do. The only qualified person he’d interviewed had been a decidedly mousy woman whom he would have destroyed two days in and then he would have felt compelled to put her up in a very nice mental facility for the rest of her life. John had laughed through most of that interview and had actually had to get up and leave at one point.
He currently had SGC security while the men John had hired went through a battery of tests and background checks that closely resembled but was not exactly like the Spanish Inquisition. They’d even had to go through psychological testing. “Ian, would you go ahead and let this last guy in?”
Ian smiled ruefully. “He’s on his phone bitching at someone—should I wait?”
Rodney frowned and stood up. “Huh.” He walked to the front door and opened it. He knew enough about Sean Taylor to be very intrigued. He had a MBA, an undergrad degree in Information Systems, he was twenty-seven years old, had taken another boy to his Senior Prom, had a mom who thought he hung the moon and stars, and was reportedly single. He opened the front door and leaned on the frame to watch the younger man pace on one end of the porch. He’d obviously worked up a head full of steam at someone.
“Look, I don’t care that you’re sorry. And you can take your promises of better behavior and shove them up your ass. It’s obvious I wasn’t clear when I left three days ago, so let’s be clear—you and me. There is not enough money on this fucking planet to get me to come back and work for you, Harvey. Why? Because you suck on a level previously unrecorded on this planet.” Sean stopped pacing. “Look, I’ve got an interview with someone who can tell me if you suck more than anything else in the whole galaxy—so I’m going to have to go.” He hung up his cell phone, turned, winced, and then sighed. “I still have an interview, right?”
Rodney smiled. “Actually, no. You’re hired. Can you start immediately? I can have someone pack up your apartment in Chicago and bring your shit to you.”
Sean stared for a moment and cleared his throat. “I should ask a question… just give me a second to come up with one.”
“Full benefits, 401k, two weeks vacation a year, access to my all of my homes including the one on my private island for the above mentioned vacation if you so chose, a car, the position is live-in as you know, and the pay is two million a year to be negotiated yearly.” Rodney turned and walked into the house. “Ian Wilkes meet my new personal business manager, Sean Taylor.”
“Do you want to know why I quit my last job?”
Rodney snorted as Sean followed him into the house. “You’re very attractive, Harvey Dais is very perverted, and he hit on you one time too many.”
“Yeah.” Sean frowned. “How did you…”
“It’s his standard operating procedure. Harvey has been fucking or trying to fuck the people that work for him since graduate school. He’s under the impression that his money should buy him everything—including a place to stick his cock.” Rodney turned and inclined his head. “You don’t have to worry about that with me, Sean.”
“No, huh, I’ve seen your Colonel.” Sean smirked, genuine relief sparklingly in his eyes. “I was positive that Harvey had blackballed me from getting employment like this again.”
“He tried,” Rodney admitted. “But I hate that fucker so when I heard that he’d marked you off limits – I immediately had my lawyer find you and set up an interview. I’m really glad you’re not some fragile kid or I’d still be looking. I’m really tired of interviews.”
* * * *
John leaned on the counter and watched them with open fascination. Sean Taylor was a mini-Rodney. It was utterly horrific in the best possible way. Maybe Sean was his long lost love child. They were snarking at each other in such a good-natured way that he was almost jealous. He exchanged a look with the newly hired head of security and wasn’t surprised to see the younger man checking out Sean. John had made sure, like Rodney, to pick a man they could trust not to hold their homosexuality against them. The best guarantee was a gay man. He hadn’t had look far—David had found Declan Frost, an ex-Navy SEAL, lots of medals, honorable discharge, and a protective streak six miles wide.
One of the cell phones on the counter in front of them rang and Sean turned to grab it. He smiled for them and then answered. “Dr. McKay’s office. Yeah, I told you it was crap yesterday. What part of ‘smartest man on this planet’ wasn’t clear to you? I told you, repeatedly, exactly what he wanted so if you don’t like what he had to say when he didn’t get exactly what he wanted you only have yourself to blame. He saved the fucking planet you know? So, if he says no yellow on his fucking website—you don’t put yellow on his fucking website.” He shrugged and leaned against the counter beside the coffee pot. “For all I know you are the Master of the Bleeding Obvious—and for the record you had no business arguing with him. You aren’t being paid to disagree with his choices. You know what—you’re fired because you aren’t being paid to argue with me either.” He hung up the phone and started fiddling with it. “We need a new web designer.”
Rodney snorted. “I told you that guy wasn’t going to work out.”
“Yeah, yeah, alright Naomi.” He eyed the other cell phone on the counter. “That’s the last cell phone you get this month so if you throw it—you’ll have to wait. You can’t live at the Apple Store you know.”
“I don’t see why not—it’s a great place.” Rodney eyed him over his coffee cup, his eyes bright with amusement.
“There are things you can’t do there, you know.”
“Fucking, eating, and sleeping,” Sean responded without missing a beat.
John laughed. “Declan Frost—meet Dr. Rodney McKay and his personal business manager, Sean Taylor.” He watched Rodney digest the name. “Declan is the head of security.”
“Ah.” Rodney stepped forward and offered his hand. “Welcome aboard. I trust you’ve found everything to be to your liking?”
“Yes. I have Myers working with the dogs now on security protocol and your set up is – amazing.” Declan flicked a gaze towards Sean and offered his hand. “Are you a doctor as well?”
“No, just an MBA. I lost interest after grad school.” He took the hand. “Call me Sean. I’ll have Dr. McKay’s weekly schedule available to you every Sunday afternoon. If you can come with me I’ll set up your Blackberry to sync with ours so you’ll know about adjustments as I do.”
Declan sought silent approval from John and then followed after Sean.
“So, huh.” Rodney grinned. “I think we have too much eye candy around this house for my piece of mind.”
John laughed and crowded him up against the counter. “Just babies, really. I hate to even arm them they are so young. Speaking of—I’ve talked to Declan about training Sean in basic self-defense and a hand gun if he’s willing.” He nuzzled Rodney’s neck and sighed. “Our house has been full of people for weeks, Mer.”
“I know.” Rodney set aside his coffee. “We haven’t had a lot of time for naked lostness.”
“Right.” John chuckled. “Time has always been my enemy.” He slid his fingers along the waistband of Rodney’s slacks until he got the shirt of his way and caught skin. “I’m going to bring your military team out for the weekend and have them work with the guys we hired so they can work together for travel.”
“You’re going to do military maneuvers in my backyard?” Rodney asked softly, a shudder ran down his back as John’s teeth clenched against the skin of his throat. “So I’ll have a bunch of hot sweaty guys hanging around all weekend? I guess I can work with that.”
John laughed. “I thought you might.” He took a hard, probing kiss and lifted his head when Rodney moaned softly into his mouth. “I invited Declan to dinner so we could discuss things and I figured it was a good opportunity for him and Sean to get to know each other.”
* * * *
Rodney and Sean came to the table working. John relaxed with the single beer he allowed himself and watched while the two of them arranged the table to suit them and then reached out calmly and took Rodney’s iPhone and Sean’s Blackberry, iPhone, and ultra mobile pc. He sat them all on the table in a pile beside him and raised an eyebrow at the almost protests he got.
“I’m hungry, gentlemen.”
Rodney sighed and started digging into his pot roast. “Did Maggie come this week? You know—maybe I should hire her permanently to manage the house and supervise the cleaners from the service. I could get her a house off property somewhere close.”
“Or you could build her one on the eighty-odd acres you recently bought that surrounds us,” John responded dryly. “Her background check is good and she doesn’t have any family to speak of. It’s up to you.”
Rodney nodded and picked up his wine glass. “Did you see the questions the Pentagon approved for the Iris March interview?”
John rolled his eyes. “Yes, Christ, why don’t they just ask us to make a sex video and get it over with?”
Sean choked and grabbed for his water. “Sorry.”
John laughed. “No, I’m sorry. That was crude.”
“Not as crude as some of the questions the Pentagon approved,” Sean assured and then focused on Declan. “Speaking of—Iris March and her crew of three will be coming to the house. I’ll get their names for you so you can check them over. The Pentagon only does a check but won’t be here to compare faces… so ya know.”
Declan nodded. “Yeah, I know. Relax; I’ll search them for weapons before I let them past the front porch.”
Rodney snorted. “Won’t that be fun.”
“Well, it depends on how they feel about spreading their legs for a wand.” Declan responded drily and grinned when they all laughed. “All the men have been trained on the use of a THD so it’ll be relatively quick, hands free and painless unless they fight it.”
“If they fight it they don’t come in the house,” John muttered.
“What’s a THD?”
“Tactical Hand-held detector – it’ll pick up ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel weapons. Knives, guns, the small metal components of trigger mechanisms on a bomb… that sort of thing.” Declan winced when Sean paled a little. “Too much information?”
Sean shook his head. “No. Dr. McKay isn’t the first man I’ve worked for that people wanted to kill. Granted, in most instances the people that wanted to kill Dr. Dais weren’t very professional about it or even good at it.” He fiddled with his food. “That reminds me—after dinner I’ll get you a field kit for Dr. McKay.”
“Field kit?” Declan frowned.
“Epinephrine, glucose shots – etc. I spoke at length with his doctor at the SGC about various medical situations that might arise.”
“Oh come on.” Rodney frowned. “I haven’t had a problem with hypoglycemia in two years.”
Sean stared at him. “Doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Better to be safe than in a low-sugar induced coma.” He turned back to Declan. “As for the allergies—a fatal one to citrus– and not just the oil that most people are allergic to. Someone eating an orange two feet away from him could induce an attack and Dr. Lam says he never pays attention to his environment beyond the food on his own plate. So inhalation, skin contact, and ingestion. Nuts from trees—peanuts are okay but he hates them out of spite so no problem there. I’ll provide you and your team a complete list of items that contain nuts and citrus including things like some tooth pastes, cough medicines, etc.”
“I’m here you know.” Rodney shared a glance with John who only shrugged.
“This is what they are here for, Mer. One makes sure your ass is where it’s supposed to be and the other one covers your ass.” John stood from the table and went to find more rolls. “Wine?”
“No, I’m good. I need a clear head for some work.”
John frowned. “It’s practically eight already, Rodney.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve got a project downstairs to take care of and it won’t wait. I have about five hours to complete it – but it shouldn’t take more than one if I can get the satellite time I need.”
John glanced at Declan and Sean. “Did you get their security clearances through?”
“Yes, of course.” Rodney waved it off. “I also got yours upped, by the way. You’re cleared for all of my projects with Interpol, British Secret Service, and Special Branch as well.”
“So spill it.”
“This is actually something for the Navy. I’m updating a surveillance satellite with some new firmware.”
“Why you?” John asked.
“Because I designed and programmed it. It’s been up there for going on ten years and needs new software and firmware. It’s a rush because apparently someone needs an up close and personal look at a few things in the Gulf for a mission. I’d have pushed them off…” He flushed. “But, David is in the Gulf right now and while I don’t know if he’s involved with this mission I don’t want him going in without all the information he needs if he is.”
John slid back into his seat and sighed. “Okay, Mer. I get it.”
“Good, then you won’t be too upset that I need to do some hardware work on it as well this month. The Apollo is going to beam it into the cargo bay so I can work on it.”
“Can’t the Apollo beam it down here?”
“No, I don’t want to risk it.”
Rodney concentrated on his plate for a few seconds and sighed. “John, ten years ago I couldn’t very well power a satellite with naquadah or even solar energy—not with its requirements.”
“It’s nuclear.” John’s gaze hardened. “Did the Pentagon approve this?”
“Of course they did.” Rodney drank deeply from his wine glass. “Let’s not argue in front of the kids until they’ve been here at least a month, okay? I’ll be shielded, monitored, and the power source replacement and the redeployment should be done in under ten minutes.”
“You suck, McKay. When were you going to tell me this?”
“I assumed you’d see it on the mission schedule.”
“Damn it, Rodney. Look you didn’t work on that project alone—who helped and why can’t they do it?”
“It was Sam, okay?” Rodney snapped. “Sam helped me build it and there is no way in hell I’m letting her anywhere near it—she’ll be nearly four months pregnant by that time. It’s a forty million dollar military asset—and I don’t do the repairs in the next six weeks we’re going to lose it through equipment failure. Besides, I’m going to fit it with a few extra sensors while I’m at it.”
John rubbed his forehead and relaxed. “Okay, fine, no arguing in front of the kids.”
Declan and Sean laughed.
* * * *
Saturday morning rolled around quickly and the ten men he’d hired to protect Rodney at home were milling around with the six man team that the SGC had designated as McKay’s military protection detail for travel off and on-world. Jimmy and Ian were in the kitchen making breakfast for twenty – and from what he could tell were working in companionable silence.
John sprawled in his favorite chair, no shoes, wearing a pair of BDUs and no shirt. He cursed himself for the early hour but he had only himself to blame. He’d spent most of the night doing Rodney every which way but wrong and he was exhausted.
Rodney and Sean came down the stairs and into the kitchen area both sniping. “I don’t see why I need one.”
“Of course you don’t. You’re a dinosaur.” Sean responded. “Everyone has a Myspace page, Dr. McKay. It’s for social networking. You know that thing the Pentagon keeps harping on you about?”
Rodney glared. “Bite me. I’m not a dinosaur. I’m the preeminent theorist on wormhole travel for fuck’s sake.”
“Well, isn’t wormhole travel sort of Ancient?” He smirked when Rodney sputtered. “Besides, you’re not just any kind of dinosaur. You’re a man-eating dinosaur. In fact, you were a velcioraptor in a previous life. Those are those small vicious ones that hunt in packs and kill for fun,” Sean informed as he started a fresh pot of coffee. Several of the men in the room snickered at that. “You know in the movie?”
“That movie was stupid.”
“Well, if you had your way there would be like ten movies in existence because the rest are stupid. Why don’t you buy a movie studio and force them to make movies that you like?”
“Like I have time to review scripts?” Rodney demanded. “Who drank the last of the coffee?”
“Me.” John leaned stretched in his chair and looked him over with an easy smile. “I think MySpace would be fun. You can ‘friend’ all the geeks all over the world.”
“You know I have two papers due on Monday—I consider drinking all of the coffee an act of aggression, Colonel.” He returned the visual inspection, his tongue darted out briefly to wet his bottom lip.
John smirked. “You can read your terms of war to me later, Doctor. I believe your preferred battle ground is on the third floor.”
Rodney glared at him. “I hate you.” He turned to Sean. “Fine – you can do a MySpace for the website. And don’t make me be friends with anyone extremely stupid or that I might have fired in the past. But absolutely no Face Book—because that’s just idiotic.”
Sean grinned. “Cool. So, how about pod casts for your lecture series that’s coming up and a blog…”
“I do not have time to blog!”
“Oh come on, you can take thirty minutes out of your schedule that you normally use for manfully complaining and blog. In fact, you could combine them. You can use it to tear other people’s work to shreds.” Sean handed him a new cup of coffee. “You could start with that paper on fluid dynamics that gave you a stroke yesterday—Dr. Frederick Hoffman.”
Rodney glared. “Huh. Even you know he’s an idiot. I’m not sure it… did you get that software to work so that I can talk and it types for me?”
“Yes, but we need to train it. You have a horrible accent.”
“I do not.”
“Okay, so you just have a Canadian accent,” Sean corrected. “Nothing wrong with that.”
“I could fire you, you know.”
“Yes, yes, but then you’d never find your favorite suit because you don’t know what cleaners I sent it to.” Sean ushered him around the island. “Come on, Dr. Carter, is waiting on an email and Dr. Zelenka promised to make me a coffee cheese cake if I get you to finish the paper on inertial dampeners today.”
“Are you sharing the cheese cake?” Rodney demanded as they disappeared up the stairs.
“So, huh.” Jimmy smiled, clearly amused. “Are they always like that?”
“Yes.” John sighed. “Always. From the moment they wake up until they moment they go to sleep.”
“You aren’t concerned about some body that attractive living in the house?” One of the other men in the room asked.
John shot the ex-Army Ranger a look.
Jimmy snorted. “You have taken a good look at the Colonel, right? I mean…” Jimmy waved the fork he had in his hand over John’s lounging form. “And I overheard McKay say once that he was the most amazing thing ever. Since the man is the smartest person in this galaxy…”
John laughed. “Christ, Martinson, you’re so lucky you’re off duty right now.” He stood and put his cup down on the counter. “Don’t leave the coffee pot empty again, you know McKay is a…”
“Velcioraptor?” Ian asked with a small smile.
“Yeah.” John laughed. “I need to make a few phone calls – save me some bacon.”
* * * *
Sean appeared by himself in the middle of the first conversation and five of the sixteen men in the room turned and watched him come down the stairs in a pair of jeans, too tight t-shirt, and no shoes. It appeared to be the younger man’s standard uniform and John had to admit the look was very good for him. All slim-hipped and slinky. He stopped talking because Sean’s sniping was entirely too distracting to continue.
“Look, I realize that it might seem like an inconvenience to you. If you’d like to speak with Dr. McKay’s head of security—I can arrange that but I assure you that it will not change the list of demands we have for Dr. McKay and his appearance at your university.”
Sean put down a tray and got fresh coffee cups. “Yes, well, I’m sure there are plenty of IRA members on your campus as well Dean Marstow. The fact remains that Dr. McKay does not travel without an armed escort and it is absolutely not negotiable. Guns don’t kill people, ma’am. Trust me there are four guns in my line of sight this very moment and not a single one of them has nefarious plans to leap off the table and shoot me.”
He made a face as he rummaged through the breadbox. “Excuse me? You’re a fucking idiot if you think I’m going to tell Dr. McKay anything of the sort. You’re lucky he even agreed to appear. Look – here’s the deal. He does not travel without Colonel Sheppard. He does not travel without a fully armed escort and he does not under any circumstances speak in open stadiums or outdoor venues.”
Sean paused as he piled some muffins into a basket on the tray and sighed. “Yes, yes—of course—I had no clue. I tell you what—I don’t have to ask him because I know his answer. You can kiss his pale Canadian ass because he’s not coming at all.” He turned off the phone and shoved it into his jeans pocket. “Declan, Berkley is cancelled.”
Declan pulled out his Blackberry and started flipping through his calendar. “Will there be a replacement?”
“I’ll have to check.” Sean fidgeted. “Northwestern maybe—I’m not sure he wants to go there because he hates the Dean of Physics—some guy named Jason Morrow.”
“Ex-boyfriend.” John called out as he updated his own Blackberry. “Avoid that if possible- the guy is grabby and I might not have enough restraint the next time we cross paths.” He put the device away and inclined his head. “Come here, Sean.”
Sean sighed and walked over into the living room area where the men were sprawled out. “Yes, sir.”
John smirked. “Only these guys have to ‘sir’ me. Tell me what is going on. What did Dean Marstow want?”
“A private contracted security escort and Dr. McKay without you.”
“Apparently you’re a walking military recruitment poster and she didn’t want you on her campus tainting the young impressionable minds of her students with your shiny patriotism.”
“I see.” John frowned. “Has he encountered that problem before?”
“No, most offer everything short of paying for escorts to get him to step onto their campus or appear at their conference. They don’t care who comes with him, what they have to do to get him, and would probably consent to strip searches at the door.”
“You’re part of the package. Since I haven’t actually attended an event with him yet, I’m not sure if there is anything underneath all of that but we’ll find out soon enough. The organizer of the aeronautics convention in Vegas did make some noise about the number of rooms we needed but frankly she got a little stupid every time I mentioned your name—so ya know.”
John rolled his eyes. “Great.”
Sean shrugged and walked away. “By the way, I called your executive officer and updated your leave schedule for the lecture tour in the fall, set up your vacation for afterwards, and you have your yearly physical next week. He said he would remind you.”
John frowned after him. “You’re his life manager—not mine.”
Sean picked up the tray and sent John a look. “Seriously, did you just say that? Last time I checked you made up one-half of his life. Sometimes more depending on the day.”
* * * *
Rodney took the coffee immediately and eyed the muffins. “You got whole grain muffins?”
“Relax, they are chocolate chip.” Sean sat the tray down and grabbed his own coffee. “And whole grain.”
“So, Dean Marstow just sent me an email complaining about you.”
Sean glared. “She said you couldn’t bring the Colonel with you to your lecture there because he was a killer and she didn’t want him tainting her students with his ridiculous notions of patriotism. Then she called him a walking recruitment poster for the military establishment and implied this whole lecture tour was just an elaborate recruitment effort on the part of the Air Force. So I told her to kiss your pale Canadian ass and that you weren’t coming at all.”
Rodney glared and went back to his laptop. “What a cunt. How much of that did John over hear?”
“I only told him the recruitment poster thing because he asked me point blank and lying to him is rather difficult.”
“No, don’t ever lie to John.” Rodney frowned. “Not ever—he doesn’t take dishonesty well. He’d rather be punched in the face than lied to.” He hammered out a response to Marstow and hit send. “So, let’s replace Berkley with Northwestern.”
“The Colonel said I should discourage that choice because Dr. Morrow is a grabby ex-boyfriend.”
Rodney waved him off. “A grabby ex-boyfriend who is petrified of John. It’ll be fine. Besides I’m an alumnus of the damn place—I should be willing to lecture there at least once.”
* * * *
“So, you honestly expect us to leave you behind?” Adam Marks was an ex-Marine who had gotten a medical discharge because he’d been told he’d never walk again. A year later—he was on his own two feet and while he’d been offered to return to duty—he’d told them no.
John eyed him. “You’re not here for me, Adam. He is your own only concern; no matter the situation. I can’t fathom a circumstance where I would allow him to be separated from me—but if that happens, your only mission is keeping him safe. You don’t want to be the man to lose McKay.”
“He fights you, tries to stay or any way endangers himself during a conflict—you are to use any means necessary short of injuring him to get him out of the situation.”
“So we’re authorized to physically force him from a location,” Declan asked, his eyes a little wide.
“Yes. He’s a brilliant man—the smartest man on this entire planet—but he’s also stubborn and unreasonable. I don’t want a repeat performance of Chicago but if that situation where to happen again—I would expect you to get him out of the room and into a safe location no matter my condition.”
Ian shook his head. “Sir, seriously, if we left you bleeding on the floor…” He swallowed hard. “The man can build bombs that fit into ink pens. I watched him make a bomb out of an ounce of enhanced C4 and his wristwatch last week. It punched a hole the size of my fist into a target dummy’s chest. You might kill me—but I’d see that coming. McKay is the kind of man who would let a man suffer for years before taking him out in some malicious and painful way.”
Jimmy laughed. “Christ that was funny as hell. Did you see Major Jenkins face?”
“Well, he shouldn’t have bet with him. It was stupid. You don’t bait a man with an IQ of 230.” John shot both men a look. “And don’t think I’ve overlooked the fact that the two of you let him build a bomb in my mountain with a sports watch and an ounce of enhanced C4. In fact, I’d really like to know why you didn’t report that he was down in a chemistry lab making his own C4.”
“Ask Major Cadman.” Jimmy tossed his superior officer out in front of him like a shield. “It was entirely her idea. You know she likes to blow shit up, Sir and she also has an intense dislike for Major Jenkins—so it was like geek warfare down there with a little C4 tossed into the mix.”
“Yeah, right.” John rolled his eyes. “The rule remains- McKay is your first priority. If I am, in fact, bleeding on the floor you can come back for me. That would be appreciated, as I hate to bleed in public places. There will be times when you will have to work together on the property or when McKay travels. McKay has two planes and three pilots on staff. I do most of the flying when we travel by plane. Declan—get the dogs.”
John grinned at Declan’s smirk as he rolled out of the chair and went to the door. “Fall in!” The sharp command made several in the men room jump a little and then appearance of four pit bulls had more than one tensing and checking for their weapon.
All four dogs came into the house and came to sit in front of John. “Gentlemen, meet McKay’s babies—I was vetoed on the dog breed choice. I wanted a Siberian Husky. Brewster is the red and white, Tallis, is our pretty grey boy here, Riley is the black female, and Maxwell is black male. The only thing they love more around here than me is him. Don’t ever give any of them a reason to think you mean him harm. This means you don’t ever raise your voice in anger while he is in the room. They are trained for security, guard, containment, threat assessment, and explosives. He treats them like children.” He sighed. “Speaking of—you should meet the top dog around here.” He whistled sharply and there was a thump from upstairs. Then Quark ambled down the stairs and took his place in the middle of the dogs—in the space they’d obviously left for him. “This is Quark. I fairly sure he’s not an alien and he’s probably a cat.” The decidedly orange animal used one paw to rub his face and stared at John in silence. “Probably.”
* * * *
“Wow.” Sean leaned forward a little. “Rodney, seriously, you have to come see this.”
Rodney looked up from his computer and shook his head. “I take it they all joined John for his run this morning.”
“Oh yeah.” Sean sighed. “So, huh, I should ask—am I allowed to fraternize with security or should I find my fun off property?”
“I won’t tell you who you can fuck or date—just don’t bring any drama into my house.”
“And be careful some of those guys are a little on the rough side.”
Sean chuckled. “Yeah, they sure look it. Is the Colonel like the best lay ever?”
Rodney grinned. “Yeah, he really is.”
“Let’s get some lunch. The service left a casserole and some stuff.”
* * * *
John jerked his t-shirt over his head and was just about to enter the impromptu sparring space that they’d marked off in the backyard when the house alarm went off. It was one of the panic buttons in the house.
He got into the house just in time to see Sean stab an epi-pen into McKay’s leg and toss the syringe aside. “Sean?” John fell to his knees at Rodney’s side as a seizure hit.
“Anaphylactic shock.” Sean tucked his phone into the side of his neck as he loosened Rodney’s shirt. “Yes, Dr. Keller, he’s breathing but it’s shallow and his pupils are blown. His pulse is erratic and he’s not tracking. He’s had two seizures.” Sean jerked his own belt off, folded it half, and shoved it into McKay’s mouth and then light hit him and disappeared. Sean sat back in shock. “No, he’s gone. Okay, no I’ll tell the Colonel.” Sean shut off his phone and swallowed hard. “The Apollo beamed him into the mountain. They’ll retrieve you on your signal.”
John took the shirt Declan pressed into his hand and jerked it on with shaking hands. He stood, walked to the shelf where he kept all of his things and started with his watch. By the time he shoved his radio into his ear, he’d stopped shaking. “Sean, figure out what happened here.” He clicked the radio. “Apollo, I am ready for transport.”
Seat sat back against the counter as Sheppard disappeared and closed his eyes aware that he had sixteen soldiers looking right at him. “Right, figure it out.”
“Here.” Declan helped him up off the floor. “You did well with this, Sean. You said some of his allergies could be fatal. That seemed like a pretty strong reaction. What does he react to the worse?”
“Citrus.” He glanced around the kitchen. “The service knows better than to bring anything into this house he’s allergic to. We were eating and he got up to get some more coffee- Christ—you know he drinks way too much coffee. I had some of that casserole dish first—I didn’t taste anything citrus like in it but that doesn’t mean anything.” He went to the refrigerator and started pulling out bottles. “Okay, you guys take the cabinets. It has to be here somewhere.”
Thirty minutes later, they found a bottle of dressing in the trashcan that had pomelo in it. On the back of it, they found the recipe for the casserole that the service had made and put in the refrigerator. Sean and Declan stared at the bottle for a few seconds and exchanged looks of concern.
“Okay, so we need to go through every food product in the house. If it has been opened- it gets thrown out, no exceptions.” Declan bagged the bottle of dressing and then dropped it in a second bag to seal it. “All of the surfaces in the kitchen need to be scrubbed down; all of the dishes need to go through the dishwasher. Sean, get on the phone with the cleaning service and see who did the cooking and shopping for us for in the last week. Then call the mountain and see if you can get a status report.”
* * * *
“The reaction was severe but it was caught very quickly.” Jennifer rearranged McKay’s blankets. “I’m getting tired of seeing you in the infirmary, Rodney.”
Rodney laughed softly. “Sorry.” He reached out and curled his fingers around John’s hand. “So, huh, we have to stop meeting like this.”
John closed his eyes, a helpless laugh slipped past his lips. “What about the seizures, Jennifer?”
“He had one more after he was transported.” Jennifer frowned. “I’ve done some scans and I’ve taken a lot of blood for tests. We’ll figure it out. His exposure was small and all in all the reaction wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I’m going to keep him overnight.” She met John’s gaze. “Look, his body has had quite a few shocks in the past couple of months. Sometimes a seizure can be caused by low blood sugar, light triggers, changes in hormones, lack of oxygen. His throat tissues swelled fast so it could be that simple. We’ll test for everything. We got to him very fast and he’s in very stable condition right now. If he stays this way I’ll let him go home in the morning.”
* * * *
The house management service was one of the best in the country and catered to the rich who didn’t like live in help. They had been investigated and all of their staff vetted. They were required to report new hires and to never send a new person to McKay’s house. It had always been this way—yet somehow that is not what had happened.
The owner of the company and Margaret Willis, the woman who normally did McKay’s shopping, were standing very still in the kitchen with the entire security team while Sean vented his considerable temper on the owner—a man named Vincent Moore. Moore had started out apologetic but clearly not accepting blame and now he was staring at Sean in shocked fury.
“Dr. McKay has a contract with my company and it simply can not just be severed… there are punitive clauses for such a breach.”
“There are punitive charges that can be taken against you—charges like attempted murder, criminal negligence, gross indifference to human life, conspiracy to commit murder, and even murder for hire with the right DA,” Sean responded evenly. “You sent a woman who had no prior knowledge of Dr. McKay’s medical situation and you nearly fucking killed him! If he had been alone in this house, he would have been found dead on the floor of his own kitchen. Frankly out of all the places on this goddamned planet where the man is not safe—he should be fucking safe from food in his own home!”
“It was an accident.”
“You’re paid ten thousand motherfucking dollars a month to make sure accidents like this don’t happen, Mr. Vincent.” Sean balled his fists on the kitchen island. “You’re fired. Get the fuck out of here. You’ll hear from Dr. McKay’s attorney and I’m sure Colonel Sheppard will be in touch with you personally.” He turned to the woman. “Mrs. Willis, if you would stay—Colonel Sheppard wishes to speak with you about employment.”
“She comes with me.” Vincent reached out for her arm.
“Lay a hand on her and you’ll regret it.” Declan carefully stepped between them. “Marks, Stevens—escort Mr. Vincent to his car and make sure he leaves.”
Sean waited until Vincent was gone and then turned to her. “Maggie, why didn’t you do McKay’s shopping this week?”
“Mr. Vincent sent me on temporary assignment to New York for a special client. While I normally don’t handle such assignments—the client is picky and wealthy, like Dr. McKay, and his majordomo was incapacitated.”
“We threw out everything basically so if you could help create a grocery list that would be great.”
She nodded. “Of course.”
Sean winced suddenly. “Sorry about the language, ma’am.”
Maggie laughed sadly. “My Charlie was a Navy man. You didn’t say anything I haven’t heard plenty times before.”
“How long has your husband been gone?”
“I lost him in Iraq two years ago.” She gave a little nod. “I’ll just get my laptop out of the car and go over Dr. McKay’s preferences. We’ll get menus and a list squared away. Since you threw out everything—I’ll probably need help with the shopping.”
“Won’t be a problem, Mrs. Willis.” Declan promised and watched her leave. “She’s a Navy widow?”
Sean nodded. “I hadn’t realized her husband died in action.”
* * * *
Declan found John Sheppard in the basement in the shooting range. The basement itself was two floors deep one of which held a full armory, Dr. McKay’s safe room, the main security room, and a target range. He was unloading a 9mm into a target, his stance perfect, controlled. Every shot was a kill shot.
“How is he?”
“We beamed home an hour ago. I would have let you know but it appeared you were busy helping Sean not die.”
Declan chuckled. “He was a little upset—so we introduced him to the fine of art of drowning one’s temper in really good bourbon. He’s a very cheap date.”
John laughed softly. “Yeah, I bet. He probably weighs a buck fifty soaking wet.” He reloaded but didn’t start again. “McKay is fine. He’ll need to rest a few days but the reaction wasn’t as bad it could have been or would have been if Sean hadn’t been there. It’s just—Christ—if one more thing puts him in a hospital bed this year I’m probably going to lose my fucking mind. His infirmary records are as thick as mine and he’s never even seen action.”
He winced. “Sucks wide, sir.”
“Tell me what you’ve got planned for the day.”
“Stevens, Jacobs, and Marks are working with the dogs—just basic stuff. I have Hollis and Rico working on external camera placement and the rest are off duty. They went into Denver in one of the SUVs to see a game.”
John nodded. “Good. Have you picked the team you want to travel with us in March?”
“Beyond the four men from the SGC you want? I’d like to take Jacobs and Rico. Both have civilian bodyguard experience and they’ll blend in better than the others. Stevens is great in a fight but he isn’t going to disappear into a crowd.”
“And, on the schedule you have an interview scheduled with People Magazine in the morning.”
John rolled his eyes. “Yeah, fuck, I know. Have you heard anything so stupid in your life?”
Declan laughed. “I don’t know how to answer that. On one hand I can agree with you—which implies that I don’t think you’re the sexiest man alive OR I can disagree with you and then you’ll think I’ve got a hard-on for you. It’s a lose-lose for me, sir.”
John dropped his head and laughed. “Jesus.” Then he shook his head. “I know who you’ve got a hard-on for around this place.”
Declan schooled his expression. “Sir.”
“Oh, drop that.” John shook his head and picked up the 9mm. He took it over to the gun rack and put it away. “I don’t care, really, just be careful with it. Sean doesn’t seem the type for anything casual and we don’t need any drama around here—McKay generates enough on his own.”
* * * *
John paused briefly as he was exiting the basement, his gaze going to McKay who was at the piano. His hands were drifting over the keyboard drawing out a beautiful and haunting melody that he’d never heard him play before. He looked fragile to John—delicate and very breakable. Uncomfortable with that line of thinking he walked into the kitchen and poured himself some coffee. Sean was sitting at the counter eating, his gaze flicking to Rodney every once in a while as if to assure himself that he was there and okay.
John slid up onto a stool beside him and bumped shoulders with him. “Thanks.”
Sean nodded. “Yeah. Mrs. Willis will be back in the morning to talk to him about the position he wants her for. He asked me to scout for an architect to build her a suite onto the house or build her own if she prefers.”
John nodded. “Have you ever read Rose Red?”
“Stephen King is a scary bastard.” Sean smirked. “I’ll keep an eye on the house and make sure it doesn’t start growing on its own. The people for the pool will be here next week as well. They are bringing in large digging equipment starting Tuesday. I figured we should ask security to kennel the dogs or something.”
“We can just keep them in the house.” He paused. “You did well you know—he barely had a reaction all because of you. Little swelling, just a little muscle fatigue, and the seizures were probably anxiety related.”
Sean smiled then. “Good.”
“How’s the hangover?”
“I feel much better since I threw up.” Sean confided.
John chuckled and then looked over at McKay who had stopped playing to scribble on a piece of paper in front of him. “Something new, Mer?”
“Yes.” Rodney nodded. “Do you want to hear it?”
“You know I do.” John accepted the plate of eggs and bacon that Declan shoved under his nose and stole a piece of toast off the platter in front of Sean. “Have you eaten?”
“Yes.” Rodney nodded and then started to play.
It was the song he’d been playing before but this time there was a rich melody blending in with the notes and then Rodney added words. John stopped and stared. He’d never heard the man sing and it was like a punch in the gut. Passionate, beautiful, an intriguing mix of baritone and tenor – it was a voice that could have made him famous. John glanced towards Sean and Declan and found them both staring as well. It took John several seconds to catch on—to hear his own words in what was being sung. His chest got a little tight as he realized the song was actually about him—about them. Then it was over and the last notes of the song drifted over his skin like silk.
Sean cleared his throat. “I figured out why you’re an asshole.”
Rodney laughed. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah, it’s the only thing that keeps perfection at bay. No human being should be perfect.” Sean stabbed a piece of sausage and used it to point at him. “Seriously. Why don’t you do that professionally? Why do you need astrophysics and nuclear weapons when you can do that?”
“Huh.” Rodney let his fingers float over the keys but his gaze centered on John. “Is it still okay that I can’t drive?”
John nodded. “Yeah, Mer, it’s still very much okay.”
He smiled, amused and relieved. “As for this—I had a teacher tell me when I was very young that I had no passion for music, no soul for it. Technically perfect – but that was all I’d ever have.”
“Well, obviously he was jealous and stupid,” Declan muttered as he put his own plate down at the breakfast bar. “Really stupid.”
Sean picked up his mobile computer and started fiddling with it. “Northwestern said ‘hell yes’ by the way. They cleared a whole day for you, cancelled classes, and the entire physics department is required to attend. A crowd of four hundred—students and faculty only. He wants to know if you’ll consent to a Q & A and dinner with him afterward.”
Rodney chuckled. “Cheeky, stupid bastard. Yes, to the Q & A as long as it’s moderated by members of faculty and ‘hell no’ to dinner. We’ll fly out right after the lecture anyways—we have to be in New York the next morning.” He glanced towards John who wasn’t even pretending to look pleased. “Look, it’s a good place to lecture. I received one my PhDs from the place and that makes for good public relations. The kids will be smarter than average unless requirements have dropped dramatically in the last fifteen years. He wasn’t even a good lay so stop looking at me like that. I don’t even know why I dated him as long as I did—he was a very selfish bottom. We couldn’t have been less compatible.”
John snorted. “What’s the difference between a selfish bottom and a greedy bottom?”
“The ability to give head,” Sean responded as he slid off his stool. “Greedy ones always suck like a Hoover.”
Rodney laughed and turned back to his keyboard. “Right, the key is being able to pitch and catch with equal skill.”
“You know,” Declan began. “We shouldn’t let them spend a lot of time together—they are already nearly unmanageable.”
* * * *
“Uniform or casual dress?”
“Casual dress. They’ll get uniform pictures from the Pentagon.” Rodney tossed him a pair of slacks and then a mint green button down shirt. “So, how far up the chain of command did the order to go along with this interview thing come?”
“Secretary of Defense.” John pulled on the shirt and started to button it. “I even tried to get Dad to interfere—not happening. They couldn’t be more pleased. They are also quite tickled by the intimate portrait of our relationship Iris March has planned.”
Rodney sighed and walked to stand in front of him. “So, let’s just make a really dirty sex tape and put it up on my website.”
John pulled him close and hugged him. “Don’t even tempt me. Everyone and their brother is in our bed it seems like.” He pressed a kiss on McKay’s mouth and sighed. “Are you going to stick around for this?”
Rodney raised one eyebrow. “I love you, John, but there are some things that a man must face on his own. Prostate exams, passing a kidney stone, being interviewed by People Magazine…”
An hour later, John had his picture taken far more than he’d ever planned in his life but he’d nixed posed pictures. So they were all candid while he’d showed the interviewer various parts of the house—including their large and stupidly decadent bedroom that took up the entire third floor of the house. He noticed that Sean and Declan had made themselves invisible as well. Resigned to the fact that he’d been abandoned, he dropped himself into a chair in the living room by the fireplace and smirked when the reporter eyed Brewster with wide eyes. The large pit bull sprawled at John’s feet, his eyes fixed on the strangers. So—not completely abandoned.
“Why did you join the Air Force?”
“I wanted to fly and I wanted to go into space. NASA has always had a special fondness for Air Force pilots when it comes to recruitment into the space program. Eventually I was rejected from the space program because of my special ops training. By then I was far more soldier than pilot.” John rubbed Brewster’s wide head with his toes and the dog moaned his contentment. “Then I joined the Stargate program and all of my dreams about space came true in spades.”
“How does it feel to be in the spotlight—to be a celebrity?”
“Oh, I hate it.” John grinned when she looked shocked. He glanced at the recording device resting on the coffee table. “It’s what my life is though so I’ve made all the adjustments I can. I knew when the program was declassified that I would face public scrutiny for a variety of reasons. It was a shock to see how much of my personal life was a part of that but I’ve made do.”
“The press has romanticized your relationship with Dr. McKay a great deal. How do you feel about that?”
John shrugged. “It amuses people to speculate about us—I can’t do much about that. We have a great relationship and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He’s brilliant and fascinating man—so life is never boring.”
“No, I would imagine not. Can we talk about his father?”
“No.” John shook his head. “Off limits.”
She nodded, obviously disappointed. “You recently reconciled with your own father after nearly ten years of separation. What would you say to men and women who are currently estranged from their parents because of their sexuality?”
“That life is hard enough without family and if you can’t have the family you were born with—you can make a family out of the friends you gather around you. I’m lucky—because I was able to bring both my father and my brothers back into my life. I don’t resent the years we lost but I’m very glad we won’t lose any more. If you get a chance to reconnect with family that you’ve lost and it’s healthy to do so I would encourage anyone to take the risk.”
“How can you not resent all of those years?” She asked with a frown.
“Every moment of my life brought me to this one. If we’ve learned anything with the Stargate program, it’s that any single moment, any single decision can alter a person’s life in a thousand different ways and not all of them pleasant. I missed my father and brothers during the time we did not speak. It was like living with a hole in my heart the entire time. That being said—I wouldn’t change a moment. I can’t regret anything that brought me to this point; to the point where I found Rodney and we connected. I can’t imagine my life without him. I don’t want to imagine my life without him.”
“How did you feel when you found out you’d been chosen as this year’s sexiest man alive?”
“Amused. Rodney and I discussed it and we agree one hundred percent that Christian Bale is the sexist man alive.” John winked when she laughed. “We’re both HUGE Batman fans. But really—I guess it’s fun and it certainly goes a long way towards putting gay issues in the main stream media. I think I’m the first openly gay man to be named, right?”
“Yes.” She smiled then. “It’s going to cause something of a ‘thing’. We’re super excited about that part.”
“I bet.” John laughed.
“So, everyone asks—and I can’t help myself—is marriage on the table?”
“Well, a few months back we exchanged so much paperwork concerning medical proxies, living wills, etc that we’re probably one piece of paper short of being married. I can tell you that nothing could make me feel more committed and dedicated to him – not even another piece of paper. Maybe one day. I’ve nothing against the concept but he finds it old fashioned and a little simplistic.”
“Now that the Stargate Program has been declassified and the world is beginning to understand how small we are in the universe – are you worried about how your actions within the program are being received?”
“No. I did my job. It’s that simple, and that complicated. I followed orders, kept people alive under extreme situations, and we all did the best we could. Since the planet is still here—I think we can consider our past missions quite successful.”
“Agreed. In a recent news story, someone pointed out that you are obsessively protective of Dr. McKay. That you often put yourself between him and anything that might be dangerous.”
“Yes, I saw the report. I am protective of him—your visit here today probably brought that home to you better than anything I can say. I’ve already almost lost him once because someone thought they could take a shot at him. I won’t make that mistake again.”
“Okay—so I’m supposed to ask some personal questions feel free to say no to anything you don’t want to answer.” She flipped through a notebook in her lap. “Favorite color?”
“A day ago I would have said ‘I Walk the Line’ by Johnny Cash.”
“It’s a song Rodney wrote—I don’t know if it has a name. He rarely titles his music as far as I can tell.”
“German chocolate cake.”
She blushed then. “Top or bottom?”
“Mostly top but bottom has it’s appeal.” He chuckled. “Are you seriously going to print that?”
“It was the one question my editor added to the list.” She pursed her lips. “Where did you and Dr. McKay go on your first date?”
“I took him on a picnic to Mars and let him walk on the planet. He’s the first man in our documented history to set foot on Mars.” John grinned when her mouth dropped open. “I have it on good authority that taking an astrophysist into space and letting him walk on another planet is practically a sexual experience.”
She laughed. “I bet. So, best first date ever?”
“Definitely. He claimed he was ruined on dating forever.”
“I think I’m ruined for dating forever.” She admitted ruefully. “I can barely get a guy to come pick me up at my apartment—much less fly me around in a space ship to another planet.”
“You’re definitely dating the wrong kind of men.”
* * * *
The first time one of the female scientists came to his office with a copy of People magazine for him to autograph—John decided to go on vacation for a whole year. They were everywhere in the mountain and he was so fucking tired of seeing himself. The picture on the cover was taken on the back deck, the mountains stretched out behind him. That stupid green shirt Rodney had put him in and made his eyes look ridiculously bright and green. He sort of hated him for it. There were seven pages of article and pictures – some formal ones from the Air Force—others taken of him and Rodney as they were leaving the Aids Research Foundation benefit months before – both looking their shiny best.
After he scared off the evil little scientist who had tried to get his autograph—Rodney had sent out a strongly worded email to all the civilians on the base telling them to leave him alone, which had made the General laugh so hard he cried.
John slouched in a chair in front of the General’s desk and glared. “I’m a fucking hero, sir. I shouldn’t have to put up with bullshit like this.”
Jack smirked. “Sucks to be you, Colonel.”
“It really does!” John crossed his arms. “I can’t even beat up Marines—because they all smirk at me and I want to break bones which I promised Dr. Lam I would not do on purpose.” He sucked in a breath. “General Maybourne called me this morning and giggled in my ear like at third grade girl.” John hissed.
“Sorry, that had to be traumatic.” Jack bit down on his bottom lip. “Look, it’s excellent publicity for the program, John. The approval rating for the SGC went up fifteen points in the past two days. The Pentagon is pleased.”
“Yeah, well they aren’t the one fielding requests from Play Girl for a photo shoot.” John pointed. “I will not be doing it—I don’t care who wants it. The President couldn’t make me strip naked for Play Girl. I’m entitled to my dignity, sir.”
Jack held up his hands in mock surrender. “No Play Girl Magazine. I’ll make it perfectly clear.”
John stood. “I have to go—Mer is doing that satellite project for the Navy this afternoon and I want to be on board the Apollo when it happens.”
Ten minutes later he was beamed to the bridge of the Apollo and sent everyone visible a glare that earned him a chuckle from Colonel Ellis. “Relax, sir, we will be your haven. I haven’t let a single copy of that magazine on board.”
John relaxed slightly. “I don’t know how much more I can take, just so you know.”
“Understood, sir. Dr. McKay is already aboard and in the lab we are using for the project. Dr. Keller came aboard with him to monitor his health and radiation exposure. He’s suited and ready. We were just waiting on you.”
“Is there a place for observation?”
“Yes, we made sure to use a lab with an observation deck.” Ellis motioned to a civilian scientist who was standing near the door. “Novak will show you.”
The walk through the Apollo calmed his nerves a little – no one on board smirked or looked to long at him as he walked by which was a relief. The ship could fast become his favorite place to be besides home. He entered the observation room after Novak and found Dr. Keller and Dr. Carter watching. Radek Zelenka was moving around with Rodney below—both dressed in heavy radiation suits. There was a mixture of English, Czech, and French filtering through a speaker and into the room.
“Do they even understand each other when they are like this?” Jennifer asked.
“Well, they both speak Czech and French fluently—their English is often debatable.” Sam slid up onto a stool and put both hands on her ever-expanding belly.
It was ridiculous how fast she’d started to show and he wasn’t the only one to think so. She appeared to have regular daily check-ups with Jennifer and Carrie in the infirmary and over the past month there had been a scary level of happiness and confusion. He figured any day now they were going to announce she was having twins.
“So tell me what they are doing?” John asked as the satellite suddenly appeared in the room.
“They have some circuit boards to change out and they are replacing the nuclear reactor we have powering it with a naquadah generator. The nuclear material will go first and it will be beamed out as soon as possible. It’ll be beamed into the atmosphere of Jupiter. Best place to dispose of it in the solar system. As far as we can tell—Jupiter has no life whatsoever. We’ve found some microscopic life forms on several other planets in the solar system—Mars being the most abundant because of the water on the planet.” She watched contently. “Okay, he’s pulling out the reactor. Careful…” Her words were almost a whisper as if she was actually talking to the two men she’d worked with for the past ten years.
The energy core disappeared in a flash of light a few seconds after it’s removal and Sam relaxed visibly. “Good.” Her hands, which had clenched in the material of her shirt slowly relaxed. “Good.”
John relaxed with her. He watched in silence as then and as promised the entire project was finished very quickly and the satellite was removed. Radek and Rodney went through a decontamination bath both in their clothes and then stripped naked before they appeared outside the lab in fresh clothes. Everything they had been wearing would be destroyed—including the suits.
Jennifer took the radiation monitors she’d had taped to their skin for testing and then took blood from both men. “Looks good. The suits did their jobs.”
* * * *
Two Weeks Later
Sean Taylor was on the phone in the middle of the kitchen, ranting, when Declan found him. He’d go to the store and get another bottle of bourbon but he didn’t want to turn the man into an alcoholic.
“Look, I’m sure you think this situation is fine but when I have to tell Dr. McKay that you lost Colonel Sheppard’s birthday present somewhere between Montana and California he is not going to be pleased. I can’t even fathom how fucking unhappy he’s going to be with you. So I suggest you stop making excuses to me and find her!” He turned off the phone and looked at Declan with a sigh. “The airline lost the puppy, Declan. McKay is going to fucking flip. Even when they find her—she won’t be here in time for the dinner he has planned.”
“You’re forgetting what we have access to.” Declan walked over to him and looped an arm around his shoulders. “When they find her—we’ll just contact Dr. Zelenka at the SGC and get his help beaming her here.”
Sean leaned into him in defeat. “Yeah, okay, you’re right. IF they find her. My God—if she’s gone or they let her die on the plane… he’ll lose his mind.” He jumped when his cell phone started ringing. He walked away from Declan as he answered. “Hello? Yes- well thank God. No! Absolutely not. You cannot to be trusted to put her on another plane. I need to know your exact latitude and longitude. Dr. McKay’s Head of Security will come get her personally.”
* * * *
John entered through the garage and started taking off things left and right. It had been a long stupid day—too stupid of a day for it to be his birthday. Next year he was taking a vacation on his birthday. It was going to be a new rule. No one should have to shoot someone on their own goddamned birthday. His fingers twitched slightly as he considered the extraction on what had turned out to be an Ori controlled planet they’d faced earlier in the day. He pulled his radio from his ear and dropped it into a bowl next to McKay’s. His keys, wallet, and pocket change followed.
He was grateful to be home and so glad that Rodney was upstairs in bed probably dozing but waiting for him – he could barely stand it. He glanced over at the table and the birthday dinner he’d been jerked away from unexpectedly. It was irritating how much trouble McKay had gone to only to see it wasted. John reached out carefully and stroked the waxy surface of one of the fat candles on the table.
John nodded and cautioned a glance at Declan. “Upset?”
“No. Resigned, perhaps. He knows what he signed on for.” Declan walked to the security board that was on the wall near John and armed the systems he’d kept off line so that John could enter the house without waking everyone. “Says it’s like being in love with an intergalactic cop.”
John laughed softly, and tried to ignore the helplessness that suddenly flooded him. “Every time I go through the gate I tell myself over and over again not to break his heart by not coming back. I don’t know that it’s enough.”
“It is. If it wasn’t—he’d have found someway to push you out of his life by now.” Declan touched his shoulder. “Go to bed, sir. You look exhausted.”
“John. You can call me John, you know.”
“I know.” Declan walked away, his hands tucked into his pockets.
* * * *
There was a lamp still on in one corner of the room and Rodney was doing his best to take up the entire California king sized bed they shared. His eyes opened the moment John sat down on the bed.
“Things go well?”
“We got everyone back.” John dropped his shoes on the floor beside the bed and rolled so that he could lie on his side. “Sorry about dinner.”
“No worries, Zuri enjoyed the steak.”
“Zuri?” John asked amused.
Rodney grinned and flipped back the covers a little to reveal a fluffy silver and white puppy. “Zuri. It’s French—it means beautiful. If you don’t like it—you can think of a new name.”
John reached out and let his fingers run through the silky fur on the husky puppy’s head. “Mer.” The puppy opened her eyes and focused eyes just as blue and as beautiful as Rodney’s on him. “Well, hello Zuri.”
The puppy stretched, rolled over on her back, and yawned.
“Happy birthday, John.”
“Wow.” John rubbed her belly. “I thought we agreed that the pit bulls were…”
“They are for security and protection.” Rodney covered his hand with his own. “That is not to say that they aren’t my big babies—because they all are. Zuri is for you—her only job around this place is running with you in the morning, lying on your feet when you watch TV, chasing the ball, and maybe swimming in the pool.”
John leaned forward and kissed his lips gently. “Thank you. She’s perfect.”
Rodney grinned and sought another kiss, which John gave without hesitation. He sighed. “She’s got a little bed over in the corner beside Quark’s. Why don’t we put her in it?”
“Yeah.” John grinned. “I think so.”
Rodney scooped the puppy up and took her to the bed. Quark immediately crawled into bed with her and curled around her protectively. “He thinks that she’s his baby.”
John stripped off his clothes quickly and was back on the bed by the time McKay had gotten rid of his. He watched his lover crawl up the bed and between his legs. “That’s okay.”
“She’s supposed to be your baby,” Rodney confided as he placed a soft kiss just above John’s belly button and then moved upward.
John cupped the back of his neck and pulled him closer. “No, you’re my baby.”
“Yeah?” Rodney asked amused as he settled his weight on him.
“Yep.” He brushed their mouths together and sighed. “I love it when you kiss me, Mer. It’s the best thing. I can forget about everything but you when you’re with me like this.”
“Is that what you want?”
“Yeah. I want to forget everything but you.”
“Done,” Rodney promised.
Read the Next story in this series:
Author’s Note :
Read the Iris March Interview. This interview is mentioned in February Song– the next part in this series but it’s not necessary that you read it to “get” the story of it.