Disclaimer: I'm sure we're all very grateful to the writers, actors and everyone connected with the franchise for supplying us (who don't own it) with plenty of fodder to use for our own entertainment.
Author's Notes: Request: a mcshweir threesome fic where aliens make all three of them do it. Liz and Rodney both end up pregnant with John's kids and he finds out and is extremely protective of them. All discussion about whether Rodney and Elizabeth will keep the children or not does occur but takes place off stage to meet the outcome implied in the request i.e. they will keep the children.
Potential squicks: amtdi, mpreg, pregnancy, childbirth, C-section (but not a lot of graphic detail)
Word count: ~7,000
Summary: Rodney, John and Elizabeth take part in an alien ritual in order to secure a trading deal for Atlantis. The outcome of the blessing isn't what anyone expected.
Set in S1/S2.
"We need a moment to discuss this," Sheppard said slowly and only his foot pressing firmly onto McKay's kept the man quiet.
"Colonel," murmured Dr Weir.
"Please," added the colonel, and produced a toothy smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"Certainly, Colonel Sheppard." The Director waved a hand in their direction. She and her lieutenants remained seated. They faced the trio expectantly. "You may speak now," she encouraged when the Lanteans exchanged glances but remained silent.
"Er...alone?" asked Sheppard.
"Time is passing. I had hoped everything would be settled before now. Oh, very well, if you must."
"We must, Director Mariss," said Elizabeth firmly.
The Director stood. "I can give you until four bells." Her lieutenants preceded her through the door. They'd said nothing during the negotiations; one had acted as secretary and recorded the trading terms in a large book, the other had procured food and drinks as the Director ordered. As she stepped into the hall, she turned and bestowed a bright smile upon her future allies. "It is our custom. I'm sure you understand." She twitched the train of her dress and pulled the door closed behind her.
"Not again," groaned Rodney.
"Elizabeth, I'm sorry," began John.
"Well, none of the previous deals I've brokered ever had terms quite like this."
"'It is our custom'," mimicked Rodney. "I never thought I'd miss lawyers or contracts with a dozen sub-clauses for every clause. There's a big employment opportunity out here. Doesn't anyone in this galaxy grasp the concept of sexual harassment? They should be sued."
"But Rodney, I thought this was exactly the type of thing you were hoping for when you stepped through the gate. Alien sex rituals with hot, young priestesses," teased Elizabeth, hoping to lighten the atmosphere, though whether it was more for her own sake than his, she wasn't sure. The Primarens had refused to negotiate with anyone other than the three most senior people; acceptable would be Teyla and the next highest Athosians, with the trade being with the Athosians, or Sheppard and McKay with their leader for the Lanteans, Ford's rank obviously not high enough. With most departments' supplies running dangerously low, Elizabeth had barely hesitated.
"Huh! Hot, young priestesses they're not. Wizened, old crones more likely. And it's amazing none of them seem to practice asceticism except when it comes to stone altars. Does anyone want their ritual performed on any sort of comfortable bed, or even with some sort of thick padding on their sacred dais? No-o-o."
"That's not strictly true," put in John. "There was that time on P23-741. They had those -"
"Yes, yes, all right, but that was an exception," interrupted Rodney before John could give away any of the detail they usually left out of their reports. "That's not helping us now." He turned to look at Elizabeth. "You...we could leave, find someone else to trade with," he offered, and pushed aside thoughts of the reels of extruded composite he'd already earmarked for a dozen different projects, not to mention the image of a roast dinner. They'd been promised some chicken-things.
"Rodney's right," said John. "There's the market Teyla mentioned. It's only six weeks away. Lots of potential for trading then."
"Six weeks is too far off. Even three weeks is too long. I won't increase rationing any further, I can't. Besides," she paused, and then said carefully, "you do realize, I'm not virgin." She hid a smile as she was rewarded with the sight of John's ears turning pink. "And while I'm not a hot, young, alien priestess, I'm not a wizened old crone either." Blithely she continued over Rodney's splutter, "The ritual itself seems straightforward. While it looks like a stone altar is involved, there's no spilling of blood required, nobody is tied up, and thanks to the several plagues that almost wiped out the Primarens, we aren't required to have sex with them, just each other. I'm sure we could negotiate for some sort of cushioning."
"Elizabeth, they're forcing us."
"I'm aware of that, John. I'm also aware of exactly how desperate things are. We have a way to ease the situation. I'll take full responsibility for the decision to go ahead. As it stands, you've taken part in these rituals without any ill-effects, so there's no reason why I shouldn't this time. I'll even order myself to see Dr Heightmeyer when we return."
Four bells sounded and there was no further time for talk.
"Then we're agreed," said Elizabeth as the Director entered the room. "I'd like to clarify a couple of things before we proceed."
She was heartily sick of the number three by the time she'd cleansed herself three times according to the ritual and perfumed her body with three aromatic salves, although the light floral scents were pleasing and blended well and made Elizabeth think of spring and gardens. The garments she'd been handed consisted of three long pieces of shiny red fabric. Mariss, who'd prepared herself alongside Elizabeth, insisted they omit formal titles and Elizabeth found herself laughing as she struggled to follow Mariss' directions on the correct method of wrapping her body. Irritatingly, but not so surprisingly, she managed it on her third try.
There was food to be consumed before the main event. Elizabeth took her place at the triangular table, with John in green to her left and Rodney in blue to her right. Mariss sat between her companions, not the lieutenants of earlier, but a striking young woman and a rather taciturn man, also in green and blue. The three priests were garbed in robes of muted shades of the same colors. Three blessings, three toasts, three courses.
"We didn't negotiate who was going first," muttered Rodney as they joined onto the end of the line headed by the priests. They hurriedly arranged themselves so order of their colors matched the others'.
"I don't think we get a choice," answered Elizabeth. "Look! That must be ours." She nodded at the leftmost of the three altars standing on a platform at the end of the room into which they'd decorously filed, heads bent and eyes down. A dozen cushions and several blankets could be seen stacked at one end.
"Huh. They actually listened," said Rodney. He stopped contemplating the thickness of the blankets when John sighed. "What? Oh, god, it's an Ancient TSA. We're going to be screened and your gene's going to light it up like a Christmas tree." His anxiety was obvious as as he watched each person pause to stand beneath an arch from which a light beamed out and scanned them from head to toe. Instead of gold as it had been for the first two, a blue glow illuminated priest number three, and then Mariss when she took her turn.
John turned and mouthed 'not Ancient' as the blue light briefly washed out his color. It glowed no more strongly for him than it had for the others. Nothing else happened. The first priest beckoned him forward so Elizabeth and Rodney could be scanned in turn. Except for a brief moment when there seemed to be a flicker of silver, the glow remained gold for both of them.
Three final blessings, couched in enough flowery language to raise even Elizabeth's eyebrow, were offered and each trio headed over to an altar. At a nod from Mariss, her female partner slipped over to the Lanteans, none of whom had made a move to undress, although Rodney had bent to pick up a cushion. He let it fall as he stood, trying to hear what she was saying to John. When he nodded, she hurried back to Mariss, unwinding the strips of green as she went.
"What was that about?" Rodney asked, not waiting for John to speak.
"Ah, you know the colored light thing? That was apparently a sign from their gods."
"Like anyone could tell from all that mumbo jumbo. Flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la. So what have their gods decreed?"
"John?" interrupted Elizabeth. She glanced over at the other altars. Both groups were already naked. She sighed and slowly started to unwind her wrappings. She was the one who'd agreed to this and it had been easy enough to do when everything was theoretical.
"I have to...with both of you. You don't, with each other."
"That'd be right," grumbled Rodney even as he shrugged the first strip of blue onto the floor. "In any particular order?"
"Don't think so. She didn't say."
"Ladies first then?" offered Rodney. "Watching's good. You're lagging," he pointed out when he noticed John hadn't moved. "And they're not exactly watching," he added, catching sight of the action at the other altars.
"Who's lagging now?" John interrupted Rodney's frank ogling. He and Elizabeth were now naked, while Rodney's hips remained covered. "The gods are waiting." He tugged, spinning Rodney until loops of blue spilled from his hand and Rodney"s state of dress matched theirs.
"Hmm? Very well. Hold on then." Rodney shook out one of the blankets then folded it neatly in half before placing it on the stone. He urged Elizabeth to take a seat and motioned John to begin. He chose a white bowl at random from the selection on a nearby table. He gave a cautious sniff before dipping his fingers into cream so white it was almost pale blue. "Okay?" he murmured into Elizabeth's ear as he stood behind her and began massaging it into her shoulders.
Elizabeth wriggled her shoulders and hummed her agreement into John's mouth. She forgot about the others. Rodney's hands were warm and she felt his touch rapidly became less clinical, more sensual. John's lips were warm too, as he kissed her forehead, her eyelids and the tip of her nose. She gripped his shoulders while his hands roamed up and down her sides, stroking Rodney's fingers each time they touched.
Together, they lowered her to the bench. John took her right hand and Rodney her left. As one they laved her fingers, licked the creases on her palms, pressed open mouthed kisses over her wrists. She couldn't keep back the moans of pleasure as they worked their way along her arms. She closed her eyes and let sensations wash over her. Someone's hand cupped her breast and she arched her back. Someone's fingers stroked her thigh and she parted her legs.
She drew a fingernail along the length of someone's spine. John's, she knew. When he bit her nipple, she did it again and felt him shiver. The fingers of her other hand tangled in Rodney's hair as his mouth worked her to fever pitch.
Smoothly they changed places. Elizabeth tasted herself as Rodney devoured her mouth while John climbed onto the altar, positioning himself between her legs.
"Now. Now, please," she begged. She locked her ankles across the small of John's back and thrust up to meet him. Bolts of pleasure shot through her. "Oh god, yesyesyes!" She moaned incoherently, loving everything Rodney's wicked hands and mouth were doing to her breasts, while John slipped a hand between their bodies and drove her over the brink.
Elizabeth wanted nothing more than to roll over and snuggle up to a warm body, but the ritual wasn't over yet. She gave a satisfied sigh as she stretched out then swung her legs over the side.
"Ssh." She stroked her fingers along John's jaw. She turned and placed a kiss next to Rodney's ear. "They didn't say we couldn't do this for a bit first, did they?" Her voice was low and sultry as she sank to her knees and took him in her mouth.
She looked up through her lashes to watch John lick Rodney's neck. She saw him bite down when Rodney reached back to tug at John's hair. She gave his cock a final swirl with her tongue then nibbled along his groin. Her fingers tangled with John's as he used the massage cream to prepare Rodney.
Elizabeth moaned softly. She scrambled to her feet and helped Rodney settle John onto his back. Rodney's idea of settling involved a lot more impatient urging and shoving than hers. She grinned as they teased one another with promises and threats. Then not totally for John's sake, she decided to distract Rodney for a minute or two. She turned his chin to her and kissed him wetly before slyly pinching his nipples. Rodney returned her kisses with interest and then retaliated with a couple of pinches of his own.
"Hey, what about me?"
"What about you?"
"We're falling behind." John waved a hand in the direction of the others, who had apparently already changed partners in accordance with the ritual.
"I wouldn't exactly describe things as falling." Rodney turned reluctantly and stared at John's groin. He gave Elizabeth a broad wink so as John could see. "Although, I suppose we could give him a hand, don't you think?" he remarked solemnly and then, because he couldn't help it, licked his lips.
"Indeed," murmured Elizabeth, choking back a laugh at Rodney's lascivious expression.
She and Rodney ranged themselves on either side of John and proceeded to give him more than a helping hand, until John begged for mercy and Rodney clambered onto the altar.
It paid to have a definitive conclusion to a ritual, concluded Elizabeth a short while later as the nine of them milled around in front of the altars. She raised an eyebrow in Mariss' direction, not wanting to say anything out of place.
Mariss gave herself a shake. "We shall drink to the success of the blessing and then finalize the trade terms," she announced imperiously. The Director had returned. With a wave of her hand, everyone reformed the single file in which they'd entered and she led the way back beneath the arch, which lit again for each person.
Elizabeth's mission report was as carefully worded as any of John's or Rodney's. She drew on everything she'd learned in the course of her career and at least in public, behaved toward John and Rodney as though nothing other than drinking tea and a handshake had occurred. The fact that she wished there could be a repeat of what they did together, without the excuse of a ritual, she kept to herself.
Three months later
She'd just close her eyes for five minutes. The words on the screen weren't making any sense. She jolted awake when someone called her name.
"Sorry to disturb you." Sheppard leaned against the door frame.
"It's all right. You haven't. Really. I'm awake. I was...thinking." Elizabeth gave John a guilty smile.
"That's the third time I've caught you thinking in your chair this week. You should go back to your quarters. Get some rest."
As she opened her mouth to protest, she noticed the time. She'd been asleep for almost an hour. "I will, soon," she promised. "What did you need?"
"Actually, I'm here to issue an invitation. For dinner, tomorrow night. Would you care to join Rodney and me in my quarters? He says he'll be free around eight."
"It'll be like a team dinner, only for the chiefs. Chief Science Officer. Chief Military Officer. Chief of Everything Officer," coaxed John. "I'll invite Carson too. I'm sure he'd jump at the chance to have a chief team dinner. I'm sure he's been on your back to relax as much as he's been on ours. This way he can see for himself we're following orders."
"Okay. Okay. You've convinced me," Elizabeth said with a laugh. "Eight tomorrow. Shall I bring anything?"
John shook his head. "Just yourself. No uniforms," he added.
John's door slid open before Elizabeth could signal she'd arrived.
"Come on in," he said, and stepped aside. He'd forgone his usual black and was dressed in a white shirt and jeans.
"Here." She handed over a bottle of wine.
"PX4-274?" queried John, examining the pale liquid inside the unmarked bottle. "I'd say you shouldn't have, but thanks. I thought we'd finished that."
"I had a spare bottle put away."
"Sorry I'm late." Carson joined them. He also wore jeans. His sand colored shirt was one Corporal Marks had produced with cloth they'd got in a trade several months ago. "I had to wait for this."
John took the hamper. "Dinner," he explained.
"It smells delicious," said Elizabeth, feeling overdressed in her more formal skirt and tailored shirt. "I hope Rodney gets here soon."
"I'm here, I'm here. I didn't think I was that late." He'd remembered to change, although he looked uncomfortable in a shirt that seemed a size too small by the way the buttons strained at the buttonholes.
"Relax, you're fine."
"Oh, good. I'm starving."
"Then I suggest we eat straight away. It wouldn't do to have Rodney fade away," said Carson.
Nobody raised any objections and they took their seats. John served generous portions of lasagna the cooks had packed with vegetables supplied by the Athosians and the talk turned to food - what Pegasus foods tasted good, what most resembled what they were used to (and what they missed), and what was just plain bad.
Carson watched with interest as both Rodney and Elizabeth picked out the slices of a purple-skinned vegetable and set them aside.
"What? I've never liked eggplant," said Rodney.
"You usually eat it regardless," put in John.
Rodney shook his head. "Not since I worked out it was giving me heartburn. I haven't eaten it for five weeks now and voilà! No more indigestion."
"You've never mentioned your heartburn to me." It was most unlike Rodney not to present to the Infirmary demanding an antacid, if not a scan, thought Carson. "Are you sure you haven't been replaced by some sort of pod person?" he wondered aloud.
"Remember M8T-45S? We ended up asleep for almost an hour. Perhaps they cloned you then." John joined in with the teasing.
Before Rodney could blow a fuse, Elizabeth chimed in, "It's okay, Rodney. They do they same to me too. I don't eat them anymore either."
"Both of you should report to the Infirmary in the morning," insisted Carson. "We should get to the bottom of this."
Arguments and Infirmary visits hadn't been part of the plan when he'd proposed the four of them get together, so John changed the subject and soon the four were laughing over the misfortunes experienced by Stackhouse's team on their latest reconnaissance mission. The four had returned covered in goo that not only smelled disgusting, but also stained everything it came in contact with. It had taken a week and some hard scrubbing with a concoction boiled up by two of the biochemists to get rid of it.
John and Carson exchanged glances when Elizabeth and Rodney turned down coffee in favor of returning to their quarters for some well-earned sleep. Neither heard Carson muttering to John he'd see them both in the morning for full examinations as they yawned their way onto their feet and over to the door.
"I've been tired, that's all. Missing home a little too. That's why I've put on a couple of pounds. Given our situation, I'm sure everyone's indulged in a little comfort eating now and then." Elizabeth stepped off the scales and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Six pounds is a little more than a couple, Elizabeth," said Carson gently. "And you haven't been comfort eating. If anything, you've been skipping meals. I checked with the kitchen staff," he explained over her protests. "Now, up you get. We'll see what the scanner says." He patted the examination table.
"Elizabeth...." Carson paused as he frowned over the image on the screen.
"What is it? Carson?"
"Elizabeth, lass...." He shook his head. "You should have told me."
"Told you what?"
"I've got some supplements here somewhere. Of course, they're only a general one, not a specific formulation, but that wasn't something the budget, or space, or regulations for that matter, allowed for." He turned to look in cupboard.
"Carson," pleaded Elizabeth. Fear colored her tone and she half sat up, trying to get a look at the screen.
"You could have gone back on the Daedalus. To have the baby back on Earth. You're pregnant," he elaborated as she clutched at his jacket. "Around three months, by the look of things. ''ll need to do some calculations. It's been a while since I needed obstetrics."
"Pregnant? No. No, I can''t be."
"Here. Look." Carson moved the screen. "Head. Arms. Spine," he pointed out. "She, or he, is a bonny wee thing. See, there's the heart, pumping away."
"But, Carson, I haven't -" Elizabeth paused. She hadn't, except for the Primarens' ritual, three months ago. She started again. "I can't be. I have an IUD. You know that. It's in my records. There must be a mistake."
"There's no mistake." He examined the scan more closely. "There's also no sign of your implant, but we'll do another scan to be sure it hasn't been missed."
After drawing more blood and running every test he could, Carson ordered Elizabeth to get dressed and join him in his office.
"There's no doubt," he said. "No IUD and a healthy thirteen week fetus."
Elizabeth didn't know what to say. She could see by Carson's changing expressions he had a myriad of questions he wanted to ask, but she was thankful he remained quiet, giving her time to get her own thoughts in order.
"I thought it was stress," she blurted out. "When I missed a month or two. What with Kolya and the siege, going back to Earth and having to justify every decision I made, the Wraith, Lieutenant Ford...well, you know. It wouldn't be the first time stress affected me like this." She looked down at her still flat belly. "I'm having a baby. I'm actually having a baby."
The smile she gave Carson was tremulous and her eyes were suspiciously bright, but they told Carson what he wanted to know and like a flash, he was out of his chair drawing her into a hug and offering her his heartiest congratulations.
"So, I wasn't aware you were seeing anyone," said Carson, blatantly fishing for information.
Elizabeth flushed. "I'm not." She watched Carson squirm for a moment and then took pity on him. "Three months ago I had to broker a deal with the Primarens. Part of the deal included taking part in a ceremony."
Carson groaned. "All teams are supposed to report participation in any time of ceremony, ritual, blessing, or otherwise to me, especially the kind that doesn't make it into official reports." He leaned forward. "I remember that one. You all had only the standard post-mission check. I'll be having a word with Colonel Sheppard. He should have told you to report to me. Most of these bloody rituals don't allow the use of condoms. I need to make sure nobody catches any alien STDs. Do we need to be prepared for these people to arrive through the Stargate in another six months demanding you hand over their savior?
"You didn't even see Dr Heightmeyer, did you?" His eyes narrowed. "Elizabeth, being forced -"
"I agreed, Carson," interrupted Elizabeth. "I knew the terms in advance and I accepted them. You can't have forgotten what it was like back then - stores running perilously low, with no thought we'd ever be in contact with Earth again? I did what I had to do and I'd do it again. I was also the one who decided you weren't to be told, so you don't need to get angry with John."
"He knows my rules. He even agrees with them," protested Carson. "We simply can't afford -"
"He's the father."
"- an outbreak...what did you say?"
"He's the only one I did the ritual with." Elizabeth spoke quickly. "There hasn't been anyone else. He's the father. John's the father," she wound down softly as she placed a protective hand on her belly.
"Then Rodney...?" Carson trailed off.
"You should ask him."
Despite Carson's coaxing, Elizabeth refused to say anything else on the subject. She held out her hand for the vitamins, promised she'd try and rest when she felt tired and announced she was ready to return to work. "I'd like to keep this between us for a little while, Carson. I need a little time to think things through."
"What about John?"
"Don't worry. I'll tell him, just not right now."
"Very well. I'll set up a schedule for your appointments and send it to you."
Elizabeth headed back to her office, where she shut the door and sank into her chair. Pregnant. She had a lot to think about.
Two hours later, John barged into Elizabeth's office without waiting for permission to enter.
"I need you to approve a mission back to the Primarens," he said. "Carson will be accompanying Ronon, Teyla and me."
"But Carson said -" Elizabeth bit her tongue. "Wait, why isn't Rodney going? Is he all right?"
John narrowed his eyes. "What did Carson say?"
"Nothing about Rodney." Elizabeth brushed John's question aside. "Why does Carson need to go with you?"
"It's a medical matter. You know I can't give you any more details without permission." He tilted his head and stared at her more closely. "Elizabeth, is there something you should be telling me?"
Neither of them expected her to burst into tears. John pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. "It's clean," he said awkwardly as he shoved it into her hand. "Damn, I'm sorry," he apologized, before calling for the presence of McKay and Beckett.
Carson prodded Rodney into a chair as soon as they arrived. Rodney promptly crossed his arms over his chest and glared at John.
"I haven't said anything," said John getting in first. "Look, all I did was say we needed to go back to the Primarens and she started crying."
"He says I can't go." Rodney pointed an accusing finger at John. "If anyone should be going, it's me. Carson says it'd be okay."
"You can't go. They might want to keep you, or even keep...something," protested John. "Besides, how does Carson know for sure Gate travel is safe?"
"Sabon is as healthy a youngster as you would find anywhere, not to mention Marli." Carson named the first two Athosian babies born on Atlantis during the first month after the expedition had arrived in the Pegasus galaxy. "Their mothers went through the Gate on several occasions."
"Their 'mothers'," emphasized John. "Mothers. This situation is completely different."
"What situation?" Elizabeth finally managed to get a word in.
"Rodney, you need to tell Elizabeth," said Carson, before staring firmly at Elizabeth, whose lashes fell beneath his direct gaze. She acquiesced to his silent command with a slow nod.
Rodney's face mottled with an ugly flush as he mumbled something.
"I didn't catch that," she prompted.
"I said, I'm," and his voice dropped away. "Oh, god," he moaned as he covered his face with his hands.
"I'm pregnant," he said baldly. "With child."
"Got a bun in the oven," added John helpfully.
"Knocked up - by him!" Rodney continued with a stream of invective directed at John for a full two minutes before he wound down.
"But Carson, how is that possible?" asked Elizabeth, when Rodney finally paused to draw breath.
"It was the Primaren ritual. It did something, causing Rodney to grow an extra organ in which the baby's growing. He's also acquired a new gland that supplies all the proper hormones. It's quite remarkable. Think of what this would mean for homosexual couples. It could revolutionize the IVF program." Carson's eyes sparkled for a moment before gesturing to Elizabeth.
She coughed. "About the ritual. This wasn't how I planned to break the news, but Rodney's not the only one who's pregnant."
"Snap?" she offered weakly as her gaze flickered between John and Rodney.
"From the ritual?" John ran a hand through his hair.
"Yes. Some ritual, huh? So, in light of everything, I think a return trip to the Primarens is in order." She rode roughshod over Rodney's protests at being excluded, and when a wave of fatigue hit her, she dismissed everyone with instructions to meet back the following afternoon.
John lingered in the doorway. "Elizabeth."
"Not now, John."
"We should talk."
"The three of us need to talk, but let's wait until we have all of the pertinent information from the Primarens."
"Tomorrow." She turned her back to him so he couldn't see her gnaw at her bottom lip or wring her hands in front of her belly.
If someone had told him a month ago he'd be firmly ensconced with Rodney and Elizabeth in a large suite he'd probably have laughed in their faces. If they'd said both Rodney and Elizabeth would be pregnant with children he'd fathered, he'd have confined them to quarters until whatever drugs or alcohol they'd been sampling had cleared their system, or personally escorted them to the Infirmary for Dr Beckett to check for an alien infestation or something. But here he was, on his way home to his, their quarters with a packet of herbal tea in one hand and a bunch of flowers in the other.
Beckett had approved the tea as safe for Rodney to consume. Rodney was finding his sudden caffeine intolerance hard to bear; they all were. But Rodney was finding a lot of things worthy of complaint - the weekly scans upon which Dr Beckett insisted, ditto the dietary changes, the need to stay away from sources of radiation, which drastically interfered with a number of his pet projects, his removal from the gate team albeit a temporary one he was assured. He'd surprised everyone with how well his body was coping with changes it was never meant to undergo, but apparently that was all due to the mysterious extra organ that had developed along with the fetus. That didn't mean he was happy about it. He'd acquired an assortment of baggy clothing to disguise his expanding belly and the burgeoning breasts nobody but Beckett had seen, not to mention added staring at him to the list of things people were not allowed to do.
Elizabeth had blossomed once her initial tiredness had passed. She still worked ridiculously long hours, dealing with each crisis as it occurred in her usual inimitable style, but she made time to exercise with Teyla and swim in the pool set up by the marines. She'd commandeered the largest room in their suite, although she'd taken to spending most of her time in the living room when the three of them were home at the same time where she persevered with her attempts to knit a tiny cap for the baby.
John sighed when he found the place empty yet again. He'd just spent two days with the Primarens. Much to everyone's relief, they'd been delighted to hear their gods had blessed the Lanteans. They'd immediately gifted the medical data Dr Beckett had been anxious to acquire. Rodney had been horrified to find his body would grow a 'birthing channel' about a month before the baby was due and demanded a cesarean. While Carson bemoaned a lost medical opportunity, he agreed without too much fuss. Rodney promptly made John swear to make sure Carson ignored the Primarens' insistence on allowing nature to take its course and perform the operation when the time came.
The children would remain with their parents, said the Primarens. John had to return every moon to report on Elizabeth and Rodney's progress, and later the children would be presented at designated intervals. They accepted Dr Zelenka in Rodney's place to negotiate future trades, although they still refused Teyla as a substitute for Elizabeth. Eventually Dr Kate Heightmeyer found herself in the unusual position of diplomat. Her degree in psychology proved unexpectedly helpful and with some coaching by Elizabeth, turned out to be quite a skilful negotiator.
Dumping the flowers into an empty jug and leaving the tea on the bench, John spent all of a minute debating with himself whether to track down his missing roommates, neither of whom had been in the Gateroom to greet him on his return, or take a shower, but the lure of a hot water proved too strong. Besides, they'd both made their feelings on his checking up on them clear, though John explained he found he couldn't help it. He also knew neither would complain if he had a hot meal all ready to eat when they deigned to come home. Mentally he reviewed the contents of their cupboards. He thought there would be enough ingredients to whip up some sort of pasta sauce. Even Rodney, the airline food and MRE aficionado, expressed a fondness for John's pasta sauce.
"My feet are killing me!"
John killed the shower and grabbed a towel, which he wrapped around his hips. Rodney was home. He started the tub filling, threw a double handful of bath salts that purported to relieve muscular aches and hurried out.
"Hey," he greeted. "How you doin'?" he asked carefully, hoping he wouldn't get his head bitten off.
"My feet are killing me," repeated Rodney, before launching into his day's woes. His neck cracked loudly as he rolled it.
"Bath's nearly full," interjected John as he winced in sympathy. "I was just about to start making dinner if you'd like to go soak for a while."
Rodney's face lit up and John felt a warm glow inside. He discreetly tried to see whether Rodney's ankles looked swollen as he passed John on the way to the bathroom but it was impossible to tell.
John jumped and dropped the carrot he'd fished out of the sauce to test. He turned to face Elizabeth as she laughed at his expression.
"Taste away," she said breezily and waved her hand. "How did everything go?"
"Good. How're things here?"
"Good. Is Rodney home?"
"He's in the bath."
"Dinner might be a while then."
John shook his head. "He'll be out soon." He speared another piece of carrot and chewed it thoughtfully. Five minutes was his verdict as he set the timer.
"I'll set the table, shall I?"
"It's all done. You sit down until it's time to eat."
Elizabeth acquiesced. She toed off her shoes as she headed for her favorite seat. John carefully removed her knitting before she had a chance to add even a single stitch and standing behind her, dug his fingers into the knots in shoulders.
"Ahhh. There. Over a bit. Oh, yeah. Mmmm. Don't ever stop," she ordered and closed her eyes. "Oh, no," she groaned when the timer went off.
"Don't move," said John over his shoulder as he slipped into the kitchen. He worked quickly to get the simple meal ready to serve then covered it to keep it warm. "It"ll keep until Rodney's ready," he said as he stood behind her and resumed working. This time his fingers made small circles on her scalp and she hummed with pleasure. John almost hummed along with her, loving how her hair felt skimming his hands, but neither she nor Rodney ever indicated they'd be interested in a repeat of what they'd done in the ritual he kept his feelings to himself.
"My turn," said Rodney when he joined them ten minutes later.
"Aren't you hungry?" asked John.
Rodney pointed to his head. "This first."
John lightened the pressure he'd been applying and finished off Elizabeth's massage with an ostentatious wave of his hand. "If Madame would care to rest here for now?" He tucked a cushion behind Elizabeth's neck as she laughed at his atrocious posh accent.
"For Sir's feet." John kneed the low coffee table closer to Rodney's chair and deftly settled Rodney's feet on the cushion he'd put there. "Rodney," he groaned when he felt through the thick socks that Rodney's ankles were indeed swollen. He refrained from saying anything further, contenting himself with giving Rodney a look as he grabbed another cushion.
"Don't say it," warned Rodney, as he settled his feet a little more comfortably.
It would spoil the atmosphere if John started an argument by reiterating Carson's instructions about Rodney not spending hours on his feet. "If Sir would close his eyes." John resumed the role of masseur and started with small circular movements at Rodney's temples.
He took the opportunity to stare down at Rodney's belly. He could no longer say Rodney looked like he'd simply put on weight from overindulging and not exercising, he was definitely rounded. Elizabeth's shape was quite different in comparison, but there was no doubt - they both looked pregnant. Even Rodney's breasts, and didn't that give John pause for thought, couldn't be called manboobs. They'd taken on a sort of indefinable shape that said 'breasts'. Carson poured out a stream of medical information at every check-up, and with Rodney's permission John had seen the scans even if he'd yet to glimpse the real thing, so he knew there were milk glands in there. Just as he knew his and Rodney's daughter was six and a half inches long and moving around even though Rodney claimed he couldn't feel a thing. The boy Elizabeth carried was six and a quarter inches. She joked she'd swallowed a goldfish and declared he'd be born with gills.
"Would you like me to do your feet?" offered John in his normal voice as his hands slowed.
Rodney's eyes slitted open. "Maybe later. Food first," he said as he pulled away and rolled his shoulders. "Mmmm." He jerked his neck from side to side, moaning with relief at the resultant cracks.
Elizabeth shuddered and John laughed.
It wasn't so late when Elizabeth laid aside her knitting. The bonnet had been unpicked so many times, she'd given up and started on a scarf. Eight inches of multicolored stripes now dangled from a needle and she'd promised to make a matching one for Rodney's baby when she finished. She pointed in the direction of the bathroom. When she returned, she held a bottle of lotion.
"It helps prevent stretch marks. Would you help me apply it?"
John exchanged glances with Rodney. He wasn't sure which of them she meant.
Equally inarticulate, they stared at her and then at each other once more.
"You mean John," said Rodney uncertainly.
"I mean both of you. I've been thinking. I want more than what we've got and I believe you do too. I'm not wrong, am I?"
"Let me get this straight. You want this...our...umm...." John struggled with the words.
"Relationship," prompted Elizabeth. "What else would you call it?"
"Oh my god, this is a relationship. I'm bad at relationships. Everything was going so well. Now it'll all go to hell."
"Rodney!" John and Elizabeth spoke together.
"Listen to me, both of you."
It took Elizabeth longer than she expected to get them to agree they were in a relationship of sorts, they'd agreed to raise the children together, that they wanted to remain on Atlantis, that the Primarens required the children visit regularly, Carson was the one with the medical knowledge relating to Rodney's situation, and not in the least that the Gate teams had been surprisingly supportive of their situation, possibly because they realized it could be any of them in a similar situation. Besides which, nobody believed their relationship was platonic.
Suddenly sick of talking, she stood up and pulled off her shirt. She picked up the bottle of lotion. "So." She smiled as both men followed her to her room.
"Four more days, Rodney. You can wait that long."
"My back is killing me. I can barely move. I haven't seen my feet for months, let alone my dick. Besides, what if I go into labor early? I'm not doing that, Carson. I told you months ago."
"And you've constantly reminded me ever since. Four days. You're doing fine."
"It's what's best for Cupcake," said John.
"Don't patronize me," snapped Rodney, hating John's soothing tone, but he accepted his assistance to get down from the table.
Suddenly Chuck's voice paging the Infirmary and calling for Carson's presence in the Gateroom rang out over the comm. system.
"It's Dr Weir. She's having the baby."
"Stay here, you two," ordered Carson as he grabbed his bag.
Rodney clutched John's arm when he would have followed. "John." He wasn't sure whether he was begging John to go or to stay and he felt strangely relieved when he saw John looked equally conflicted.
The decision was taken out of their hands when the med team with Elizabeth on a stretcher rushed back into the lab.
"It's okay," she called out. "My waters broke. I'm fine."
"I'll be the judge of that," said Carson officiously.
"I told you I was fine," said Elizabeth thirty minutes later when she, John and Rodney were in the isolation room that had been turned into a birthing suite.
Music played on Rodney's laptop. John offered ice chips, a back rub, a heat pack and then fished in his pocket for the crumpled piece of paper with the list of things he could do to help out during the labor. When Elizabeth declined them all in favor of reading her book in between contractions, Rodney demanded a massage.
"I'm the one that needs the massage," groaned John after he'd finished with Rodney's back, shoulders, hands and feet, followed by Elizabeth's feet and then her shoulders as the intensity of her contractions ramped up.
At 0700 hours, Chuck's voice could be heard over Atlantis announcing the arrival of Justin David Weir Sheppard at 0414. Dr Parrish scooped the pool with the closest estimates for date time and weight and he could collect his winnings at the end of Chuck's shift.
Three days later, Annabelle Treasa Sheppard McKay was born at 0900 by cesarean section. To everyone's annoyance, Dr Parrish was again closest to guessing the birth weight. He swore he didn't have any insider information but managed to mollify them when he spent a portion of his winnings on a large beast that was suitably spit roasted as part of the Athosians' feast in honor of the new arrivals.
As for the children, they disrupted the household in all the ways that children do and Elizabeth, Rodney and John muddled through as best they could, which turned out to be a pretty good best.