Reading Time: 18 Minutes
Title: The Silver Fox Era
Author: Keira Marcos
Prompt: Trope Bingo – Pregnancy & John Sheppard takes a leap of faith from the 2021 Prompt Calendar.
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Relationship: Rodney McKay/John Sheppard
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Post-Series Future Fic, Established Relationship
Warnings: Explicit language, Grammarly Betad
Word Count: 4600 (Complete)
Summary: Rodney McKay is table stingy, sometimes babies come in pods on Atlantis, and John is living his best life.
John shut his laptop, stood, and stretched a little before stepping out of his office and looking over the gate room. Taking over as leader of the expedition hadn’t been part of his long-term plan, but he hadn’t wanted anyone else in the chair after Woolsey retired. It was hard to trust people from Earth with the mission against the wraith or with the city herself. Atlantis was special, and it was hard to explain to someone who had never lived within her walls.
More people than ever were on the city, 10 years into their mission and just two years post-declassification of the stargate. The influx of civilian scientists had meant a significant increase in military personnel to protect them. He had a mixture of armed forces on the city now—Air Force, Marines, Army, and Navy. After they’d tipped over the 5,000 mark on the population front, he’d made it clear they needed a police unit. He’d been given a hardass Army Sergeant Major with 20 years of experience as an MP to head that particular unit. John wasn’t mad about the results.
“Good afternoon, General Sheppard.”
John looked up and found his admin, a fresh-faced Air Force lieutenant that had set Rodney off in a complete tizzy the first time he’d seen her. She was lovely, John supposed, but he was pretty certain he had a T-shirt or two older than her. McKay hadn’t been all that secure in their relationship at the start, and John blamed Jennifer Keller for that. She’d done her level best to destroy McKay’s self-esteem before she’d flounced off back to Earth.
“I’m done for the day, Stephanie,” John said and checked his watch. “We have one gate team off-world. If they are even one minute late on check-in, I want to be informed immediately. Major Teldy is scheduled to be on duty within the next two hours so update her on that situation before you leave for the day. Major Lorne is running exercises on the mainland all day and night but make sure the mess knows to expect them back at 0400 tomorrow.”
“It’s on the schedule, but I’ll speak with Chief Hawkins about it before I’m off duty,” Stephanie said. “No need to repeat what happened last time. Even with the civilians having lots of options now—some of them still end up in the mess hall.”
“Routine is important to some of them,” John acknowledged. “And they’re always welcome to eat in the mess if they wish—part of the charter. I’m going to find my husband.”
She grinned suddenly. “He’s at the café on the south pier, sir. I heard he had a bit of a scuffle with Dr. Zelenka about his table.”
John sighed. “As I said, routine. Do you know who won?”
“Dr. Zelenka bought all the chocolate donuts and ran away,” Stephanie confided. “Ronon is hiding him for a cut of the donuts.”
John shook his head and headed for the transporter. It was just a short walk to the shopping/eating district that had been established on the south side of the city. The Starbucks was in the east pier area, which Rodney insisted had ruined the whole area for him, so he even refused to drink beer on that pier after it had opened. Thankfully, their apartment was also on the southside of the city, so the café Rodney preferred wasn’t far from home.
He stopped at the counter, ordered food for two, coffee for himself, and input his credit code to pay for it before going to the table Rodney had claimed for his own months ago and regularly engaged in pitched battle to keep.
“Radek, that rat bastard, bought all the chocolate donuts,” Rodney hissed as soon as John slid into the booth across from him. “I want him fired.”
“He’s the only person standing between you, and a bunch of people you insist are morons,” John pointed out. “You’d be screwed if he went back to Earth.”
Rodney frowned at him, and John raised an eyebrow. “Fair.” Their food was delivered, and Rodney snatched half a sandwich. “But also, horrible. He’s the worst.”
“I’m sure you’ll get your revenge,” John said and opened up his chips. “David is getting married again and invited us to the wedding. His fiancée has some super religious parents, and I think he wants to offend the shit out of them by inviting his gay brother to the wedding.”
“How many sister-in-laws does this make for you?”
“Four,” John said and made a face. “He’s worse than Dad ever was on that front, which I didn’t think was possible. I mean, Dad only married three women, but he had five live-in girlfriends by the time I graduated high school. I don’t think David knows how to be single, and his last ex-wife is a real piece of work.”
“I wish Jeannie would marry someone else,” Rodney said. “Anyone really—even Bill Lee would be an improvement over the English teacher. She wants to come out here, but he doesn’t, so, of course, she won’t migrate. He got really furious when he found out that she’d been to the city twice and had the gall to forbid her from coming again. I told her that I’d pay for her divorce. Who gets in the way of science like that?”
“You don’t really want your sister living out here,” John said. “She’d be a nightmare.”
“Maybe…” Rodney took a bite of his sandwich and chewed slowly, then swallowed. “Yeah, it’d be horrible actually but science, John. She’s wasted doing what she’s doing, and…” He shrugged. “But I guess it’s what she wants, or it’s something she can live with. That isn’t the same, really.”
“It’s not,” John agreed. “Did you finish reading the data that Biro sent?”
“Sure, sure.” Rodney nodded. “I think…well.” He picked up his coffee and took a sip. “I mean, if you…it would be great if you think it’s great.”
“I think it’s great,” John assured. “It would mean some adjustments, but the technology is sound. Someone has to go first, I suppose, and I trust that Alyssa wouldn’t have given her approval if she had any concerns about it. We’d have to be prepared for a loss, of course, but I’m willing to try if you are. If it works, as it should, then it would mean a lot to people on Earth who can’t have children naturally for one reason or another.”
“Can we make them stop calling them incubation pods, though?” Rodney questioned. “I don’t want our kid being called a pod baby.”
John laughed. “I think that ship has sailed, buddy, but they won’t be the only one, so…is that a yes?”
“Yeah, that’s a yes,” Rodney said and tapped his fingers on the table. “Let’s make a baby.”
“I know this is your favorite table, Rodney, but there are limits to its usefulness,” John told him and laughed when Rodney sent him a dirty look.
* * * *
John tossed his toothbrush in the cup by the sink and walked into the bedroom. They’d gone by the infirmary, given the blood required for the procedure, and watched their pod, which had turned out to be the size of a football, be set up. Then Dr. Biro had picked the pod up and promptly handed it to them. Rodney had been horrified, and John tried to give it back to her. As it turned out, they had to keep the pod with them for the whole 18 weeks of gestation. John was relieved it wasn’t like a regular pregnancy, but Rodney was flipping completely out.
“It kind of looks like a football.”
Rodney huffed. “Shut up. Like pod’s not bad enough!”
John grinned and watched Rodney pace back and forth in front of the pod, which they had in a blanket-lined crate at the moment. It had been too late to figure out any other solution, but he suggested that they go to New Athos and buy a sling or something for pod wearing since that was apparently a thing, too.
“I think there was a whole page missing from that document she sent us!” Rodney declared. “Nothing in that section on bonding said we had to carry the pod around, John. I thought we could just stop by once a day in the infirmary and say hi to it!”
John grinned. “Rodney.”
“This is serious,” Rodney hissed. “I have work. You have work. We have stuff!”
“Well, in 18 weeks, we’re going to have a baby,” John pointed out. “We might as well start figuring this shit out now.”
“We get six weeks of paternity leave,” Rodney said huffily and slouched down on the bed to stare at the pod. “We might as well put in for it now so we can figure out how to handle things…this is the most impulsive thing we’ve ever done.”
“I’m pretty sure the most impulsive thing I’ve ever done is offer you sex when you told me Keller dumped you,” John said wryly.
“Right there on the spot, even,” Rodney said with a laugh. “I mean, honestly—what kind of friend are you?”
“The best kind,” John defended. “You got dumped; I offered you filthy sex. What’s better than that?”
“Not much,” Rodney said with a huff. “But also, kind of rude considering how you phrased it.”
“I am hotter than her,” John defended. “And it was awesome. I should get it put on a T-shirt.”
“That’s probably the kind of thing that would get you in trouble—I’m hotter than your ex, so we should fuck, it’ll be awesome—blazed across your chest would…” He trailed off with a laugh and focused on the pod. “A week, and we’ll know the gender.”
“You said you didn’t care. We could’ve picked.”
“I don’t care which we get, but it’ll be fun to know who’s coming, right? We can argue about names and buy stuff.” He pulled the crate up the bed and peered down at it. “Maybe bonding with the pod won’t be so bad—I can talk to them about science all day and make sure they’re prepared to deal with morons as soon as they decide to exit this weird little thing.”
John laid down on his side and watched Rodney stare at the pod for a long moment. They’d only been married for about a year, and that had taken some doing on his part. Part of him figured that Rodney hadn’t really thought he was serious until they were actually signing all the necessary paperwork on Earth.
“I love you.”
Rodney looked up and flushed. “I, huh.” He frowned and looked at the pod. “I love you, too. It messes me up. I didn’t plan for any of this, and now we’ve got this pod baby thing. Jennifer emailed me last month, asked me to come back to Earth.” He flushed and focused on John. “I guess she hadn’t heard that we’d gotten married, so I told her, and frankly, I’m surprised her response made it past the SGC. It was profane, to say the least.”
“No, but certainly pointed in her assessment of you. She hates your guts, and I don’t know why. Hell, you saved her life twice while she was out here and had nothing to do with our relationship falling apart. I told her I would never live on Earth again when the city first returned to Pegasus, so it was bullshit that she thought I would quit and go home after declassification. Sure, I could’ve made money hand over fist doing the lecture circuit or working in some private research lab, but who’d give up Atlantis for that?”
“I wouldn’t have,” John said. “And I was offered my choice of postings in the Air Force. I told the Air Force Chief of Staff that I’d prefer to stay in Pegasus indefinitely and would retire on the city given a choice. Of course, my gene status means that I’ll get to do exactly that.”
“More than one, you think?” Rodney questioned as he stared at the pod. “We can use this pod three times, right?”
John relaxed. “Yeah, we can. Let’s start with one, buddy, and see how it goes. If we don’t totally suck at it—we can have another in a couple of years. We’ve got time.”
“I’m almost 50,” Rodney pointed out. “And so are you—we don’t have as much time as we want to pretend we do.”
“More than enough,” John said. “Let’s put the pod somewhere safe and have sex like we aren’t nearly 50.”
Rodney made a face. “Do you think they’ll hear us? Should we put the pod in the bathroom?” He paused. “John, we don’t even have room for a nursery! What were we thinking?”
“They won’t hear us,” John assured. “And we’ll pick out a family apartment this weekend. Stop stressing out; it’s bad for the pod.”
“You’re making that up,” he muttered even as he reached out to pat the pod. “Probably. I need to read that document Biro sent me again—more thoroughly, and I should’ve asked questions. I’m a terrible parent already, John. You’re going to regret all of this.”
“How could I?” John asked. “We’re married, stupidly in love, and in a few amazing months, we’re going to have a baby.”
“We should have more time to get used to this,” Rodney declared. “I think that’s why a human pregnancy is 10 months, John, so parents have time to properly freak the fuck out.”
“Well, we’re gonna need a swear jar,” John said tartly and plucked the crate from the bed. “Don’t cuss in front of the pod.”
“You want to have sex in front of it,” Rodney muttered and crossed his arms as John took the crate into the bathroom. “Leave the light on! It might get scared.”
“You realize it’s just a few cells right now, right?” John questioned, but he did leave the light on. He hesitated just briefly before shutting the door and felt like an idiot for it.
He pulled off his T-shirt as he stopped at the edge of the bed and grinned when Rodney wiggled out of his pajama pants and under the covers.
“What? It’s cold in here. Is it cold in the bathroom? Did Biro tell us how warm the pod has to be?”
“The pod is a self-contained environment, remember?” John questioned as he slipped off his boxers and joined Rodney under the covers. “Come here.”
He mentally prodded the lights to dim them as Rodney grumbled but slid across the bed and into his space. John pressed a kiss briefly against McKay’s mouth even as he complained. “Rodney.”
“We made a baby today,” John whispered. “Just you and me. How crazy is that?”
“It’s even more crazy that Alyssa Biro watched,” Rodney muttered and laughed when John huffed. “Seriously, though, it’s pretty amazing. I’m glad it was just blood—I did worry we’d have to jerk off in cups.”
“You barely read that document she sent.”
Rodney hummed under his breath. “I thought we were going to fuck.”
“I was afraid the science would ruin it for me,” Rodney blurted out. “Or I’d get too wrapped up in the process to not pay attention to what we were doing. So, I just skimmed it. Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” John soothed and kissed him. “No apology needed. You should’ve just said. Remember that promise we made to each other?”
“Which one?” Rodney questioned. “The one about being honest about any impotence issues or the one about not cheating or the one about taking turns picking out what to watch on TV?”
“The one about communication,” John said in exasperation.
“I made no such promise,” Rodney denied. “I’d never do something that foolish.”
“Oh, you did, McKay,” John assured. “I was there for the whole wretched conversation. We promised to communicate honestly with each other to avoid doing dumb shit to hurt each other.”
“Right… did my sister make us promise that? Where’s the lube? Shouldn’t we get used to hasty sex now? In a few months, we’ll be lucky to get five minutes for a hand job.”
John retrieved the lube from the nightstand because the man had a point, and he wasn’t going to argue it. He prodded Rodney gently onto his back and slid astride him. “Is it too dark for you to see?”
“I can see you just fine,” Rodney said.
John opened the lube and poured some into his palm before closing the tube and tossing it aside. “I know you like to watch me ride your cock.”
“Yeah, fuck, I do.” He shuddered as John wrapped a hand around his cock and slicked him up. “It’s ridiculous how hot you are. When are you going to get old and look terrible?”
“Based on family genetics, never,” John admitted. “You’ve got a whole silver fox era to look forward to.”
“You vain…” Rodney sucked in a breath as John shifted forward, braced one hand on the headboard, and sank slowly down on his cock. “You…did you prep in the shower?”
“I sure did,” John murmured. “Are you complaining?”
“No, I mean that would be silly, right?”
“Good?” John questioned as he started to move.
“You know it is,” Rodney muttered but caught ahold of John’s hips and spread his legs to improve the position.
It was nothing short of perfect, John thought as he rocked down on Rodney’s cock repeatedly. The sex had been good from the start—intimate, rewarding, and full of a stupid amount of trust that came from years of friendship. He hadn’t known what he was missing until he’d finally let himself admit he was in love with McKay and took that leap of faith. There was nothing quite like it, and John knew that he’d do a lot to keep what he had.
Rodney wrapped one hand around his cock, and John stilled just briefly with a little shiver. It was delicious. It was also an indication that Rodney wasn’t all that sure he would last that long, which was fine—he was long past caring about things like stamina as long as they both got off. It didn’t take long at all actually for them both to come, and he leaned down to kiss McKay before he could offer an apology.
“You made a mess of me,” Rodney complained as soon as John lifted away and dropped down on the bed beside him.
John laughed. “Stop acting like you’re mad.”
Rodney huffed but then rolled over onto his side. “So, are you going to stop dying your hair so we can get started on this whole silver fox era?”
“Fuck you,” John muttered and sighed when Rodney started to laugh. “You asshole.”
* * * *
18 ½ Weeks Later
She was late. John was certain it was McKay’s fault. The man was never on time for anything if he can avoid it, so it made all kinds of sense that their daughter was taking her sweet time coming into the world. There were four more active pods on the city—most conceived several weeks after their own though Lorne and Zelenka had set up their pod just a few days after they had.
Rodney had insisted going into the last week that the pod stay with John as much as possible since his gene was stronger, and they weren’t certain if that mattered. John hadn’t disagreed as he hadn’t wanted to take any chances either. He started to stand and head out into the gate room since a team was due to arrive when the pod vibrated gently against his desk.
John stared at it, startled for a few moments, then picked it up with careful hands. He slid it into the sling he was wearing and activated his radio. “Rodney. She’s ready.”
“What? Who? Oh! Fuck! Meet you there!”
John laughed as the radio connection snapped off. He left his office, one hand pressed against the pod, and headed for the elevator just as the stargate activated. He cycled his radio as he walked. “Teldy, I’m heading for the infirmary, so I need you to come on duty a bit early.”
“Of course, General, and congratulations,” Teldy said warmly.
Rodney was waiting, bouncing a little on his feet outside the transporter when John stepped out. “Well?”
“Just vibrations so far,” John assured.
“Zelenka thinks the gestation took longer because we aren’t ancients,” Rodney said as they walked into the infirmary. “Miko says he’s full of shit, but she’s been a real bear since she got pregnant. She told me if she has another, it will definitely be in a pod because pregnancy is ridiculously uncomfortable.”
“It looks it,” John pointed out.
Alyssa Biro was waiting beside the incubation cradle thing they’d used to start the process. “Major Teldy radioed to tell me you were on the way.”
“Oh, sorry,” John flushed. “I wasn’t…I’m lucky I remembered to call anyone.”
She grinned. “It’s fine. Let’s get this little miracle out and about.”
John slipped the sling over his head, and Rodney took the pod gently from the leather pouch and put it back in the cradle. He almost protested because it felt weird to let her go—the thought was also weird, so he kept his mouth shut. There was a little snick of sound, and the pod flipped open. There had been no internal scans during the process—just reports from the pod to the cradle regarding sex and health. So, John wasn’t exactly prepared to see a wiggling pink sack.
“Relax,” Alyssa said with a laugh.
She picked up a scalpel, and Rodney’s hand clenched down on John’s arm like a vice.
John tensed up as she made a very careful incision and the sack split in a disgusting fashion to reveal their daughter—looking pretty gross, too. It was probably less gross than actual childbirth but surely not by much. A nurse offered them both gloves, and John pulled his on and waited while Alyssa used a little ancient device to clean the baby’s nose and mouth. He watched her pick up a pair of scissors and offer them to Rodney.
Rodney cut the cord that connected the baby to the sack and huffed a little with relief when nothing horrible happened. John totally understood.
“Okay,” she murmured and looked at them expectantly. “Marie’s set up a bathing area for you two.”
“You do it,” Rodney said. “I might drop her.”
John wasn’t sure he wouldn’t and was kind of horrified, but he tried to keep from looking disgusted as he gently lifted their daughter out of the amniotic sack, which was starting to disintegrate. She started screaming immediately. A few moments later, John sat her gently down into the shallow bathing table. It was scary as fuck, so he kept his hand under her head.
“You wash her,” he said.
“Yeah, okay,” Rodney said. “This tub thing looks stupidly huge, and look how small she is. Did we know she was going to be this small, John? We’re going to screw this up entirely. We don’t even have her things. I should’ve stopped and gotten the bag.”
“I brought the bag to Alyssa last week,” John reminded. “It has everything she needs.”
“It’s right here,” Marie said with a little laugh as she presented the bag they’d packed with the baby’s supplies and first outfit. “She’s a perfect size.”
“She’s tiny,” John complained.
“Seven pounds, even, and 19 inches long,” Biro reported as she studied the device in her hand. “Vitals perfect. Congratulations, gentlemen.”
“She has your hair,” Rodney said as he gently washed the baby’s hair. “What there is of it.”
There were a lot of little black curls. “My mom’s hair, actually.” He flushed when Rodney looked his way. “She had curly black hair and blue eyes.”
“Are you both still in agreement about the name you chose?” Alyssa asked.
John focused on Rodney, who nodded. “Yeah.” He focused on their daughter. “Matilda McKay Sheppard.”
“No hyphen,” Rodney said firmly with a look in Biro’s direction.
“We’ll do 24 hours of observation,” Alyssa said. “We have a room ready for the three of you in isolation just in case. Do you need help with the diaper situation?”
“No, we’re old hands at that part,” John said. “All three of Teyla’s children used the cloth diapers we chose.”
“None of her kids were this small,” Rodney muttered under his breath.
John agreed but didn’t say anything out loud since Biro was already looking at them like they were a couple of idiots. Rodney finished, and John gratefully plucked her from the water then wrapped her in a blanket that McKay offered so they could be taken into the isolation room. The baby chuffed a little, pursed her lips, curled out her tongue briefly, and started to cry again.
“Oh, that’s a McKay through and through,” Marie said with a laugh. “I’ll get a bottle ready for you two.”
There was a plastic crib in their room, so John put her in it, and they both stared down at her in silence which was fine because she was screaming her little head off. John pulled off the gloves, tossed them in a trash can near the door, and went to wash his hands. “Let’s get her dressed.”
“Right. Dressed.” Rodney put their bag down on the table and took a deep breath. “This is weird.”
John laughed. “Rodney.”
“I really didn’t have enough time to panic about this shit,” he muttered as he rummaged through the bag. He pulled out a diaper, the pale-yellow onesie thing that had come in a box they’d gotten from Jeannie, and another blanket since the first was kind of wet from the bath.
Surprisingly enough, they’d also gotten one from David, who’d labeled his package ‘a baby shower in a box’. John still didn’t know what half the shit his brother had sent him even was. The instructions for the nose cleaner thing was the stuff of nightmares, and he was pretty sure it violated the Geneva Conventions. Between the two of them, they got her dressed with very little additional trauma for all involved, and Marie returned with a bottle.
John took the bottle but offered it to Rodney, who made a face at him. “Come on, McKay, man up.”
Rodney picked her up like she might be a bomb, and Matilda stopped crying. “Okay, okay, so far, so good.” He sat down in the chair. “Remember when Torren was this small?”
“Never, he came out twice that size,” John declared. “I mean, maybe not. It’s fuzzy—what with the wraith and Michael and all of that insane shi…crap.” He offered McKay the bottle again, and he took it.
She sucked the bottle greedily, and they both relaxed a little.
“Hey, John,” Rodney began and looked up—blue eyes a little damp. “We made a baby.”
“We sure did, buddy,” John said and pressed a kiss to the top of McKay’s head as he leaned a hip on the arm of the chair.