Warnings: AU after Lifeline.
Disclaimer: SGA belongs to the powers that be. Title from Faith No More.
Author's Notes: Giant internet kisses go to my betas, who really helped me above and beyond. I hope you enjoy this, chokolattejedi.
Summary: Rodney finally finds a ZPM.
When the Jumper finally came into view as they walked over the crest of the hill, John thought he'd never seen a more welcome sight. "Thank god," he mumbled under his breath. For the last eight hours, he'd been on a diplomatic mission from hell. Nothing went wrong, for once, but it was-bar none-the most boring day he'd had in years.
Worse, Rodney had spent the last two hours getting increasingly bitchy about everything from the weather to the lack of food to the need to get back to Atlantis and Radek and some project-which he hadn't bother to pay attention to enough to determine the details-and after that, John tuned him out.
"Finally!" Rodney exclaimed, climbing inside the Jumper. He bustled to the front to sit in the co-pilot seat, and started poking his tablet with a manic expression.
John silently agreed while sitting down in the pilot seat, looking forward to getting the hell out of there and back to his room for some quality time with Johnny Cash, Soduko, and a can of beer.
After that, maybe he would go over to Rodney's for a movie and a little something else.
"Perhaps," Teyla said from the back, in a dry tone "we could persuade another team to pick up the goods we traded for today, when they are ready..."
"Yeah. I almost shot McKay twice, today," Ronon added, conversationally.
Rodney didn't even bother to look up while responding. "You say that after every diplomatic mission. It's hardly my fault that nothing went wrong and you didn't have anything mean and ugly to shoot at."
"There's still you," Ronon said with a grin.
"Yes, yes, insult the genius. This game is always so much fun."
"Just as much as it is to listen to you complain for hours," John added helpfully.
Rodney opened his mouth to retort, but John smoothly cut him off. "Let's just get home, all right?"
And if John flew a little faster than necessary towards the direction of the gate, no one mentioned it.
Once the gate came into view, in the two seconds after dialing home, Rodney said the one word John hated hearing from him the most.
"Rodney," John said, warning in his tone. "Just dial home and we can deal with whatever it is later."
At that, Rodney looked up at him with a glare. "I figured since you have two eyes and aren't, you know, blind, you'd notice that I already did."
"Then why isn't the Stargate activating?"
Rodney's glare hadn't abated in the least. "That's what the 'huh' was for. If I knew, I'd already have explained it to you." His fingers were flying over his tablet as he spoke and only paused once to redial. "I'll explain as soon as I..."
He waited all of two minutes before his patience was spent. John had something thick and uncomfortable settle in the pit of his stomach. "Rodney..."
"I have a bad feeling about this," Rodney said absently, trying once more to dial. John almost cracked a joke at the reference, but didn't. He was picking up on Rodney's nervousness and stress, feeling it seep into himself, and knew that the quip was not meant to be funny.
"What's going on, McKay?" Ronon asked, his tone indicating Rodney had better eschew the theatrics, or possibly face physical pain.
"Do we have reason to worry?" Teyla added after Ronon's query was met with uncharacteristic silence from Rodney.
Rodney looked up at them, all wide-eyed and pale, and said, in a pitch he only used when he thought everyone was going to die, "Something's wrong with the Stargate. Our Stargate. We can't dial home."
John butted in. "That just means it's in use, right? We're just getting a busy signal. Someone else is probably dialing in...it'll be fine in a minute or two," he said, even knowing that to be wrong, but desperate to get Rodney talking, somehow.
"Busy signal," Rodney echoed with disdain, "A Stargate's a trifle more sophisticated than a telephone, Colonel. So, no, we're not getting a busy signal. If it were as simple as that, the chevrons would still lock, as you well know. The only reason this could be happening is..." Rodney trailed off, paling all over again.
John gripped Rodney's shoulder. " Rodney."
"If," Rodney continued in brittle voice. "If the Stargate being dialed isn't there."
John's brain and mouth weren't working in tandem in the sudden dense silence of the Jumper. "What do you mean isn't there?"
"Isn't there isn't there, Colonel! Why wouldn't they have contacted me? Radek is absolutely terrible in a crisis. The first thing they should have done is recalled us back to deal with it!"
"Maybe they did not have the time or the ability, Rodney," Teyla said. She and Ronon had been silent through much of Rodney's rant, but John could sense the trepidation from everyone.
"All right," John said, realizing he had to stop Rodney's train of thought. Using his best 'I'm in charge' voice, "First thing, we go to the Alpha site. We can figure out our next step once we get there." He waited a few moments before he nudged the unresponsive Rodney into action. "Come on, buddy. We'll know more once we get there."
Rodney nodded, suddenly looking more exhausted than John had seen him in months. "Right. Of course, Colonel. Sorry. I sometimes react this way when faced with complete and utter doom."
Ignoring that, John focused on flying through the event horizon after Rodney dialed the Alpha site. Hopefully, Lorne would greet them with answers and they'd be able to regroup.
When they landed, John noticed two Jumpers were already there and it quashed his hope that the population of Atlantis was going to be there, awaiting them.
"Here we are," John said unnecessarily. Rodney's face had transformed into the one he had whenever he was solving a particularly impossible problem. Strangely, it made him feel better. If anything could be done, Rodney would figure it out and do it.
Teyla placed her hand on his arm. "Hopefully, we will hear some news to ease our concerns."
"Or find someone to blame," Ronon added, helpfully.
Rodney bustled by all three of them to disembark the Jumper first. "I hate to agree with Tall and Hairy, but he's probably right. Someone fucked up. Who knows if it can be fixed?"
"You must think positively, Rodney," Teyla chided gently.
Rodney scowled at her. "Why? In case it's escaped your notice, we can't dial Atlantis, our home. A Puddlejumper ride from the nearest Stargate would only take, hmmm, let's see, a few years longer than any food we could take with us. We don't have a power source to mock up a hyperdrive to make the trip, and that's just the beginning of the problem!"
Teyla only raised her eyebrow, knowing that Rodney's vitriol wasn't aimed at her; she remained silent.
"Calm down, Rodney," John said, gripping Rodney's shoulder. He gave it a squeeze and let go. "Let's find out what's going on first. We can panic later."
"Yeah, yeah." Rodney mumbled, throwing an apologetic look Teyla's way, who simply nodded at him.
Lorne was already waiting outside with Sherman, Miller, and Parrish when they opened the hatch. "Colonel, Dr. McKay, you're here, good. We tried to dial home, but nothing happened. My team has been here for the last two hours without any radio contact. Corporal Reed's team came in about forty minutes ago. Do you know anything about the situation?"
"Isn't this comforting," Rodney mumbled under his breath and John shot him a glare to silence him.
"Unfortunately, we know just as much as you do," John said. "We should recall any teams still out on missions. There were eight scheduled for today. Three are here. Rodney, do you remember all the addresses for today's missions?"
Rodney looked offended that John had even asked. "Of course I do, Colonel."
"Then do it," John bit out. He had a strong urge to pull out his weapon, but there was nothing to point it at.
When the first four addresses turned up no response from teams, he felt that urge even more. The last address-of course it had to be last-got them in contact with Sergeant Stackhouse, who immediately agreed to rendezvous at the Alpha site without question.
But it wasn't until the event horizon flared to life and the Puddlejumper came through that John let go of his sidearm holster.
The hatch opened and Stackhouse, Dorsett, and Michaels came out, accompanied by Radek Zelenka.
"What the hell are you doing here? Not that I'm not glad to see you. I'm very glad. This situation is marginally less disastrous now."
Zelenka smiled. "That sounded like a compliment, Rodney. Either you have a concussion or we are all going to die." There were a few moments of stunned silence before he added in a rushed tone. "Something is wrong. Tell me what is happening, Rodney."
"We can't dial home," John said, when Rodney didn't.
"Did you try...?"
"And what about...?"
"More than once..."
"Yes. And I also tried..."
"No. For some reason, the Stargate in Atlantis is gone. There's no gate for us to connect to."
"This is not good," Zelenka said with a heavy sigh.
It was a sign of how bad things were when Rodney didn't even mock him for the obvious statement.
"It could just mean it's broken, right?" Lorne chimed in. "They probably just need Dr. McKay or Zelenka to fix it. They'll send the Daedalus as soon as they can, and you'll fix whatever's wrong."
John was suddenly thankful that most people had no idea how the 'Gate worked, because the look of hope on the faces of his soldiers squelched any comment he might have made to the contrary. They needed hope. And even if Atlantis was truly gone, the Daedalus was bound to come, anyhow. Surprised he hadn't already thought of that, he agreed, "Yeah, that's probably it."
"Are you serious, Colonel?" Rodney sneered. John glared at him, shaking his head minutely, his eyes cutting towards the Marines. "Yes, Rodney. It makes sense, doesn't it? They probably just can't get along without your big brain."
Rodney paused a moment, catching the signal for what it was, before nodding awkwardly, "Yes, yes. Sorry. They obviously can't do anything without me. They didn't even have Radek there to hold things over 'til I got back."
John wanted to laugh. Rodney clearly didn't believe a word he was saying, but everyone else seemed relieved after he boasted. Only their team and Zelenka could hear it for the bullshit it was.
John took charge. "All right. It's been a long day and there's nothing we can do but wait. Let's get to where the supplies are stored and set up camp. There's a decent supply of MREs, too. We should eat and catch an early night. Everything else can be dealt with tomorrow."
"That is a good plan, John," Teyla said, which made him feel better. His men trudged over to the camping supplies and dug out the tents while the four scientists huddled off in a group, clearly in an intense discussion.
It took little time to get eight tents set up in a circle around the fire pit he and Ronon built. Rodney had meandered back from the huddle to procure the MREs for the scientists. He looked even more upset than he'd been in the Jumper.
John wanted to say something, but felt it best to wait until they didn't have an audience. Dinner was a subdued affair, everyone lost in his or her own particular thoughts. John poked absentmindedly at his macaroni and cheese. Tomorrow had to be a better day.
One by one, everyone headed off to their tents until it was just he and Lorne remaining. "I guess we should call it a night."
"Sir, permission to speak freely?" Lorne's voice sounded calm, but anxiety marred his face.
John inclined his head. "Go ahead."
"Atlantis is gone, isn't it?"
After a few moments of an uncomfortable silence, John said, finally, "There's a chance that there's just a problem with the gate itself. But, yeah, it's very likely that the gate is gone." He let the silence after speak volumes. He couldn't say it out loud, not yet.
"I'll lead the men on a run first thing tomorrow. It'll be good to establish a routine early on while we wait. There's nothing worse than idle Marines."
"Good idea, Lorne. We'll talk after that, come up with a plan of action."
Lorne nodded. "Good night, sir."
Rodney was already on his side, burrowed in between two sleeping bags when John got inside the tent. He quickly stripped down to his tee-shirt and boxers and crawled in, next Rodney, curling around him.
"Hey," he whispered, not knowing what to say. Rodney shifted back against him, but didn't speak.
John placed a kiss on the nape of Rodney's neck and settled down to sleep. Rodney would talk to him when he was ready.
"Do you think it would have made a difference if I was there?" Rodney asked quietly. There was self-recrimination in Rodney's tone, which surprised John. Rodney wasn't usually the one to feel guilt over things beyond his power.
He simply held Rodney even tighter, kissing his neck again, not sure what Rodney wanted to hear. "Don't do that to yourself. It doesn't matter."
"How can I not think about it? What if-" Rodney's voice rose in pitch, and John placed his hand over Rodney's mouth gently to stop him. Rodney would spend the night sleepless worrying about things he couldn't change, otherwise.
John rested his forehead against Rodney's shoulder as he calmed down. He took his hand from Rodney's mouth and wrapped it around Rodney's belly, pulling his body closer. "Just sleep, Rodney. The Daedalus will be in here in no time and they'll have answers, or can take us home to see what happened."
"Of course, you're right." Rodney sounded a calmer, but sighed in frustration. "I just hate not knowing. I hate it."
"Yeah, buddy, I know." Rodney twisted around to look at him over his shoulder and gave him an awkward kiss, almost missing his lips entirely.
Sleep didn't come easy, but it did come. John dreamt about Elizabeth; the look on her face the last time he'd seen her alive. When he awoke, his stomach was unsettled from the emotion. Rodney looked as bad as he felt, dark circles under his eyes, and John wondered which of Rodney's nightmares revisited him.
"We need to set something up while we're here. Bored Marines are never a good thing," John said to Rodney after they finished breakfast.
"Yeah, well, bored scientists are no picnic either. They'll need something to do, too."
John agreed, remembering missions that didn't include some sort of ancient tech or food to keep Rodney occupied, such as their last.
"We'll take 'em out hunting," Ronon said, surprising him. He tried very hard not to jump, knowing Ronon would laugh at him. Hard. Rodney jumped, of course, almost spilling his coffee. "Thanks a lot, you ninja bastard," he grumbled as he got a better hold of his cup.
"Good idea," John said evenly, mirroring the smirk on Ronon's face.
"Leave a few Marines behind," Rodney interjected. "Parrish'll want to look at daisies or something. I'll have Radek do something with the Jumpers. The other one..."
"Yeah, him. He's useless. Maybe I'll send him off with Parrish and a couple Marines to watch them, in case they do something stupid. Well, more stupid than usual."
"Sure thing, Rodney." John thought it was a good idea for all of them to know their terrain, just in case. They'd all been well familiar with the Alpha site for some time, but no one had spent any real length of time here.
"Also," Rodney continued, "we need to contact anyone who is expecting us in the near future, and reschedule if possible. We don't want to upset our allies by just not showing up. We'll keep the situation to ourselves, for now, and we'll hopefully have more answers before we need to go to anyone for help."
John grimaced, and nodded. "Good point. Some of our allies are only "allies" because we had the power of Atlantis to back it up. I can only imagine with the Genii would do if they knew what was going on." He didn't have to look to know everyone was tensing at that thought. "All right, Rodney, you contact them all and tell 'em we have a virus or something, and let them know we'll get back to them."
"Contagious? Or just extremely gross?" Rodney asked, smiling for the first time this morning.
"Very contagious." John smiled back. Maybe later, they could do more than sleep in their tent.
No one mentioned it when day fourteen came and went. They'd been expecting the Daedalus by now, and the SGC were well aware of the Alpha site. The same silence followed days fifteen and sixteen, and the ship still not arriving was a bad sign. A really bad sign. Dinnertime as a group had become a somber affair.
It was a Marine from Reed's team who started it. During dinner on the seventeenth day, no one was saying much when Spencer blurted out, "I bet it was the Replicators."
"They didn't know where we moved the city to, did they?
"Maybe they were planted amongst us and activated the self-destruct when no one was looking!"
"It could happen."
"No, if anything, it was probably a virus. Spiraled out of control and the city self-destructed."
And it went on to become a part of the nightly routine at dinner. "Guess what destroyed Atlantis and/or the Daedalus" was a game John never played, nor the rest of his team. He found it all a little disturbing, but figured it was cathartic or something for whatever reason.
Rodney often watched these debates with an odd expression. Odder still, he never said anything, neither contributing nor castigating those who did.
It was two weeks before Rodney opened his mouth after Reed launched the opening salvo: Maybe they were attacked by a big motherfucker, like in Alien.
"No, no, no. There's only one reason why any of this could have happened." Rodney piped up, his voice dry.
"And what might that be, Rodney?" Zelenka asked. There was something in his tone that piqued John's curiosity, as if Zelenka had been waiting for Rodney to join in. Everyone seemed to be waiting for the shoe to drop.
Rodney scowled. "Kavanaugh. It has to be. He's a menace. They probably dialed from Earth, booted his ass through the event horizon, and left him here before he could destroy the Milky Way."
No one said anything for a few moments. John had a hard time not laughing at the utter sincerity in Rodney's tone.
Finally, Zelenka piped in, "This idea does have merit."
Then everyone chuckled, the pressure released.
After the laughs died down, Rodney looking pleased with himself. Radek smiled at him as the Marines started back up.
"Nah," Stackhouse countered. "It was a meteor. A giant, flaming meteor."
And they were off again.
At first, Rodney spent most of his time during the day and evening with Zelenka, often hurrying to meet him before swallowing the last bite of his breakfast. It was so reminiscent of the way things were on Atlantis that it was almost painful for John to watch sometimes. They discussed everything from possible reasons for what had happened to ways for them to find out from where they were to possible ways to get home from there.
Recently, Rodney dallied longer before begrudgingly joining Zelenka in whatever debate or project was up for the day.
Today, he still hadn't finished his first cup of coffee. John nudged him once with his knee. "I think Zelenka's looking for you."
"Yeah, well, he'll just have to wait," Rodney said sullenly, taking an absent sip of his probably long-cold coffee.
"If you don't go, he'll think you're conceding the argument. He'll think he won." John hoped goading Rodney would bring back that spark that he loved seeing so much. Rodney was positively gorgeous-which made him wonder about all the concussions he'd received over the years-when he got a roll, all arrogance and excitement.
That made Rodney look up at him. "You're right. Can't let him get all uppity. He'd be impossible to live with after that."
John had a fierce desire to kiss him right then, but Lorne and Stackhouse were a few feet away and neither he nor Rodney had ever been into public displays. Instead, he squeezed Rodney's knee, a sign they both recognized, and smiled when Rodney headed off, berating Zelenka loudly before he even reached him.
Ronon had taken to the survival camp like he'd been born to it, of course. John appreciated how Ronon had taken charge of the hunting and gathering parties. He'd demanded the marines and scientists alike join him for exercises, from calisthenics to extreme sparring.
But one day, he'd just stopped. He didn't leave his tent for several days, Teyla often joining him for what appeared to be meditation for long periods of time. John, never one for exploring feelings, eventually became concerned enough to ask Teyla if Ronon was all right, if he'd been injured.
Teyla had only shaken her head sadly. "Ronon had no time to mourn his people when Sateda was culled and destroyed, John." She looked towards Ronon's tent, where they could see a shadow of Ronon, sitting cross-legged in front of a single candle, not moving at all. The moon was full and though the night was warm, John shivered.
"This time, he is not on the run, he is not being hunted, and he must accept and mourn the loss of Atlantis, which was as much a home to him as Sateda was. He mourns for them all."
Oh. John waved a hand towards his tent. "Should I go and-?"
"I do not think you can help while you are still fighting for hope, John. You have not yet reached a stage of mourning. Ronon has much to catch up on. He will be fine, soon."
John could only watch her walk away, forcing himself to remain standing.
"So, it has been four months since you last had contact with anyone from your planet?" Keras asked kindly.
John nodded. Of all their allies, these kids were one of two to whom he felt comfortable acknowledging their situation. "Yeah, that about sums it up."
"I am sorry, Colonel Sheppard. There is not much we can do for you, aside from offering our sympathies. We do not make much in excess to trade and we do not have the capacity to add your numbers to our own."
"I didn't expect as much," John agreed diplomatically. It was disappointing, but theirs wasn't a big settlement and it wasn't too long ago they would off themselves as a means of population control. John would have liked to have the wraith shield for protection, however.
"Still," Keras continued, "I do wish there was something we could do for you, if only to ease your burdens a little as you have done for us on more than one occasion."
"Don't worry about it," John said with a smile. In the background, he could hear Rodney squawking as the youngest children surrounded him, asking for candy, stories, and anything else he might have that would prove interesting.
His reverie was broken when Keras jumped to his feet a moment later. "I have just the thing," he said as he hurried off to the center of the village. John wondered if he really wanted to know.
"What are all these boxes?" Lorne asked as soon as he and Ronon hefted the first of four crates given to them by the kids.
Rodney snorted. "They felt the need to foist on us their used Hanukkah decorations and clothes three generations out of style. Probably in kid sizes, too."
"Hanukkah decorations?" Lorne asked, snorting in amusement.
Waving his hand in dismissal, Rodney continued. "Whatever the Pegasus equivalent is of old, useless decorative crap in dusty old boxes no one has looked at in more years than any of them have been alive. They know we're blocked off from home and decided they'd give us the crap they couldn't sell off in a yard sale."
John laughed before he could stop himself. "Aren't you curious, even a little?"
"Curious, sure. And we won't even have to look for firewood this evening." Rodney bounced on his feet a little.
The first box contained just what Rodney suspected, various knickknacks and curios, mostly broken. The second box, however, had something no one would have suspected.
Rodney, staring at the box, just started to laugh. "A...ZPM?" He didn't make a move to touch it, instead, he wobbled backwards, still laughing, but it was now reaching a high-pitched tone, and near hysterical.
Immediately, John went to his side. "Rodney, you all right, buddy?"
"Yes, yes, why wouldn't I be? A ZPM! Isn't it wonderful? I'd bet it's full, too." Rodney's face was red, laughter still bubbling over, but his chest was heaving to the point of hyperventilation.
Before John could say another word, Rodney turned, and sped off toward the tents.
"I think, perhaps, you should see to him, John." Teyla looked as concerned as he felt.
"Lorne. Sort through the rest. I might be awhile."
Nodding, Lorne said, "Yes, sir."
Mentally bracing himself, John entered the tent, not knowing exactly what he was going to say. Rodney was face down on his makeshift pallet, mumbling to himself. "...there was that mysterious lab Radek and I had yet to figure out. And the self-repair directives in the damaged parts of the city. Then there's the shield, the beautiful shield."
"Hey," John greeted as he sat down next to Rodney, rubbing the small of his back in a soothing, circular motion.
"It's great, isn't it?" Rodney said, manic and angry all at the same time. "What I've spent the last four years of my life searching for when I wasn't too busy trying not to die."
"I know," John said, swallowing thickly. It even hurt him to see that ZPM there nestled in that box, and he never felt the way Rodney did about them.
Rodney suddenly rolled over and onto his back. "Even greater is that we don't even have the means to utilize it here. We don't have the necessary tools or algorithms to modify a hyperdrive on our Jumpers. All that's back on Atlantis. I mean, we can reconstruct it, me and Zelenka, but without the tools-"
Before Rodney could go further down this line of thought, John lay down next to him on his side. Cupping the back of Rodney's head, John encouraged Rodney to look at him. He placed one kiss on the side of his mouth and another directly on his lips and then another until Rodney began kissing back.
This was what Rodney needed, what they both needed, a chance to forget about things for a little while. It hadn't taken long for them to get over any potential embarrassment, having sex where anyone could figure out what they were doing. Instead, they both learned to be a hell of a lot quieter and ignore any of the smirks on people's faces during breakfast following days.
Rodney moved closer, throwing his leg over John's hip, pressing their groins together. He still looked devastated to John, but he was losing that expression in degrees. John ran his had down Rodney's arm, offering comfort, before turning his attention to unbuttoning their pants and pushing them and their boxers down and out of the way.
"I...I need," Rodney whispered against John's neck, hand in a white-knuckled grip on John's shirt.
John curled his hand around both of their cocks, stroking them slowly, firmly. "I know. I'm right here."
It was over quickly, despite his attempt to take it slow, but both of them had far too much emotion coursing through them and their bodies needed release.
Rodney slumped against him, turning his face until it was buried against John's shoulder, but he was simply out of words. Not even bothering to right himself yet, John held Rodney close, rubbing his back again when he felt the shuddering, the tears against his skin.
It surprised John that it took Rodney this long to do this. He'd actually been waiting for it to happen after the third week at the site had passed. It made him wonder when he'd be doing the same, but he didn't have that luxury right now. Not yet.
"John, I wish to speak with you for a moment," Teyla said, intercepting him before he had a chance to go to bed.
He was never excited to hear those words, but he smiled. "Sure thing."
"I know that it is a very trying experience to lose so much," she began gently, seriously, "but it is imperative that we do what is best for those who remain."
"Yeah." John was suddenly sad, realizing that Teyla must have had this conversation before, many times with many people, over the years as a Pegasus resident. It didn't make it any easier.
"Winter is coming, but it is not just that. What we have here is only for temporary living situations. It is not a home. It was never intended to be as such. Your people, they must come to terms with the fact that this galaxy is their home, now. I think it would benefit all if we resettled into more permanent surroundings."
John swallowed over a lump in his throat. "Yeah," he repeated.
"You have offered me and my people a home and sanctuary on Atlantis. It would be an honor to offer you the same." With that, Teyla leaned forward and John did the same, pressing their foreheads together.
Teyla had been taking groups over to New Athos often, to give them a break from the Alpha site, each team taking turns to go and enjoy a few nights surrounded by other people, to enjoy food and ale that wasn't MREs. But no one had wanted to leave the Alpha site for too long, staring at the skies waiting for the Daedalus. John appreciated the gesture, appreciated Teyla's offer for what it was. A home.
When John came back from visiting everyone, he didn't find Rodney in their slipshod cabin, which everyone helped make. It only took a few minutes of searching before John found Rodney where he always was when left alone.
"Hey buddy," John said, sitting next to Rodney on a bench nearby.
Rodney gave him a half a smile and went back to staring at the sky. He'd been doing that more and more, lately. He'd abandoned most of his projects, even Radek visiting with more theories and ancient trinkets had stopped motivating him.
"Ever think that maybe," John began tentatively, as this wasn't going to be an easy conversation, "we should join the rest of the team on New Athos, and start considering this galaxy home?"
Rodney leaned so his head was resting on John's shoulder and said in a quiet, pained voice. " I'm sorry, John. I can't. Not yet."
Wrapping an arm around Rodney's shoulder, John sighed. "Then we'll wait."