Pairing: Starts McKay/Keller, then goes to McKay/Sheppard. Secondary pairing(s) Lorne/Parrish, Chuck/OMC.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All I own are my thoughts. My dirty, dirty thoughts.
Author's Notes: First of all, thanks to my own little elf who held me (virtually) during my "OMG, I JUST COMMITTED TO PINCH-HIT, BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE!" fit, then gave me the absolutely perfect story to write. Thank you sweetie! You know who you are. Also, two points if you know where the title to this comes from, though it's totally unrelated to that movie (just perfect for the fic, though).
Summary: Set post-series as Atlantis gets prepared to go back to Pegasus, Keller resigns, Rodney follows her, and Rodney panics when he loses touch with John.
It comes as no surprise to anyone, much less Rodney, when the preparation for Atlantis' journey back to Pegasus kicks off with Keller handing in her resignation from the Stargate program. Rodney follows her, and they make plans to move closer to Jennifer's father, Rodney being the subject of a bidding war by every university near their new home and within a time zone in each direction.
"'m gonna miss you, buddy," John says on their last night together, Rodney just nodding, suddenly unable to speak through the tightness in his chest. They stay up way too late, drinking beer and watching the moon rise, then set, and finally part when the sun starts peeking over the Berkeley Hills and into the San Francisco Bay.
Rodney's work at the University of Minnesota (itself a point of contention between Jennifer and Rodney, Jennifer complaining about Rodney always being two hours away in St. Paul, Rodney arguing back that he had no intention of 'teaching farm implementation' at Chippewa Falls Community College) kept him busy enough that he sometimes wasn't able to get home to Jennifer on weekends. He had tried more during the first six months of being in Wisconsin, though lately he let his work consume his free time. An unintended consequence is when the job consumed his relationship as well, without him even really knowing. The only thing that he kept up regularly, almost dutifully, was his email correspondence with John.
SUBJECT: So apparently I'm single...
Somehow during the last round of funding hell and a never-ending supply of whining undergrads, I became single. I wasn't able to get home for a couple of weeks since this semester has been so busy, and when I did, Jennifer looked at me like I had two heads. I guess we'd just drifted apart, and I was too busy to notice. Anyway, I'm back here in St. Paul, freezing my ass off. You know what I didn't miss when we were in Pegasus? Winters. Because Minnesota winters pretty much blow.
Thinking about calling up Sam, though I know I would only come back when both she and O'Neill came crawling on their hands and knees.
Anyway, how's Atlantis? I trust Zelenka is tarnishing the good title of Head of Sciences and not making his minions burst into tears?
Can't concentrate now that I have the image of Sam on her knees, so signing off for some "quality time".
Knight to King's 3
Rodney looks at his watch, knowing Atlantis' usual dial-out would be at 0400 Minnesota time, and it'd be a week until the next wormhole when he got his reply.
SUBJECT: Re: So apparently I'm single...
Sorry about that, buddy.
Radek's pulling what's left of his hair out, but I think he's finally finding his feet. He may even have a lead on ZPM generation. Poor guy. He'll be lonely up on that stage when he gets a Nobel for it.
He's definitely not you when it comes to the team, though. He'll come into his own one day. You should have seen how jumpy he was on his first overnight off-world. I definitely didn't miss your snoring, though.
>Can't concentrate now that I have the image of Sam on her knees,
>so signing off for some "quality time".
Textbook definition of TMI. Also? Gross. Don't ever tell me about your "quality time" ever again. Deal?
Got the new DADT regs last week. It's cool; just need to make sure there's no blowback. On a related note, you owe me $20; Lorne & Parrish are pushing Woolsey for a Spring ceremony.
Pawn to Queen's 4
Rodney smiles at the Parrish/Lorne reference and immediately decides to email Jeannie to ask what he should get for a gay wedding present, then rethinks that, recalling the dressing-down he'd gotten when he'd told her about his own engagement being called off. Studying the chessboard, he moves John's pawn and thinks up a multitude of possibilities in retaliation; he'd beat the bastard yet at their first multi-galaxy chess game if it was the last thing he did.
After studying the board, he hits 'Reply' and sends along his next message, chastising Zelenka for being too much of a linear thinker to ever win a Nobel, waxing poetic about a new Kona blend he'd found at a local independent coffee shop, and whining ever-so-slightly about wanting to do real work (and leave the undergrads back to rot). He finishes with his own chess move, confident that he'd have John in check within half a dozen moves, and goes back to work.
Rodney and John continue their banter back and forth for six months, Rodney filling John in with all the happenings on Earth, and John letting him know what was going on in Pegasus. Sometimes they say everything, sometimes nothing.
>Should have seen Zelenka. He got a bunch of new recruits fresh from the IOA and
>their entire peptalk on field work consisted of, "I don't have to run fast, I just
>have to run faster than you." I swear half of them peed themselves.
Oh, I don't doubt that Czech bastard is having fun. At least he's living up to my standards. Finally.
Rodney survives a Minnesota Winter, and wants an award for it, from the letters he sends John.
>These people are barbarians, John. Do you know that my TA actually
>refused to shovel my walkway this winter? What do you think they won't cut
>my grass come springtime? I mean what's a TA for, anyway?
I'm pretty sure a TA is there to, you know, grade papers and shit, Rodney.
One message from Sheppard piques Rodney's curiosity.
>Did you know we've got a bunch of kids on Atlantis now? There's talk about
>starting a school. Woolsey's doing his version of "Pegasus outreach" and
>we're taking in people from around Pegasus and helping with resettling
>efforts. Some of the families are staying here for training. Rugrats everywhere,
>McKay. If I thought you were coming back, I'd give the kids crayons and
>let them decorate your old lab. Kindof a 'welcome back' gift.
You know, I never considered Earth to be boring, but it is. At a reception a couple of weeks ago, someone asked me about the scar on my arm, and I told them it was from a classified military operation from my past. They gave me a ghastly look, and backed away slowly.
>Woolsey's asking about getting resources from Earth for early-childhood
>education. Maybe I should retire and teach the kids math.
Oh yes. And when they don't get it, I'm sure you'll be happy to get out your trusty P90. Either that or make Ronon deal with them. On the bright side, I'm sure your truancy rate would be in the very low single digits.
Each week, nearly like clockwork, each man sends and receives a message, John getting Rodney on the ropes with their chess game in his most recent message. Rodney types out a hasty reply and adds a chess move, sends out the message to be delivered, then goes back to work.
A week without a reply was pretty okay, Rodney understanding the ins and outs of the Pegasus galaxy. When week two goes without a response, he becomes nervous, though not allowing his thoughts to become too morose. He thinks about sending Teyla and Ronon messages, but he isn't sure if they are using their accounts at all, though he'd taken the time to set them up before he left. Teyla said she had an aversion to technology, and would rather talk face-to-face. Ronon just grunted and said, "Sheppard said I could use this for porn. Can I?"
Still no answer after the third and fourth week dial-ins, Rodney starts to panic. He automatically picks up the phone and places a call to Cheyenne Mountain, ignoring the fact that it's the middle of the night.
Rodney ignores the sleepy sound of Carter's voice and barrels on. It didn't help that he'd had way too much caffeine the last twelve hours. "Sam? Is Atlantis all right? Did anything happen?"
Sam yawns as her voice becomes agitated. "Everything's fine, McKay. Why?"
"Well," Rodney says, stammering slightly. "It's... It's just that I haven't heard from John in a few weeks."
"The dial-out happened today like clockwork, McKay. Maybe he's just busy."
"Busy? But what would..." Rodney stops, then rethinks his strategy. "You guys need any help out there?"
"Are you really calling me at," the sound of the phone fumbling and rubbing against blankets overwhelms Sam's voice for a moment, and she returns with, "5:08am, asking me for a job, McKay?"
"Well," Rodney turns the conversation around, "as long as you bring it up..."
Rodney posts a hasty resignation letter to his office door, sends one inter-office to the Dean, and wakes his TA up way too early to make sure Monday's classes would be covered. He packs what little he has in his modest apartment and buys a ticket to Colorado Springs, practically pacing the airport, and then the plane, until he gets to the Mountain. Carter told him that he'd be going out on the Daedalus, though with Hermiod's new hyperdrive changes, the trip had been shortened from eighteen days down to twelve.
"I'm sure he's fine," Caldwell says.
Rodney shakes his head, "Yeah, but-". He cuts himself off as he watches Caldwell turn on his heel and leave. Sighing, Rodney decides to head back to his quarters and reacquaint himself with the active Atlantis projects, deciding which he wants to work on.
As soon as they are in range, Rodney has Hermiod beam him into the Atlantis control room. He smiles instantly with the familiarity, trying to instill a calm feeling of home within his bones, though he's not quite there yet (he knows he will be once he knows his team - or rather, Sheppard - is all right). "Doctor McKay," a voice calls from the railing.
"Mister Woolsey," Rodney says with a nod to the man.
Walking towards Rodney, Woolsey says, "I've taken the liberty to make some appointments with all current department heads. I'm sure you're aware that-"
"If it's okay," Rodney says, already walking away, "I'd like to check up on a couple of things first." He's away before Woolsey can even offer a reply.
Rodney makes his way through the corridors; they hold a familiarity that most of the new personnel don't. He steps in front of Sheppard's door and waves his hand over the lock (grateful that Sheppard had always keyed his door to unlock for him) and steps inside - finding an empty room. "What the hell?" he asks.
Stepping back out into the corridor, Rodney instinctively goes to his radio and just ends up swatting his hear; he hadn't been issued a radio yet. Heading towards the mess hall, he spots a familiar face. "Corporal Jinks," he calls.
"Doctor McKay - welcome back!" the man responds. "Oh, but it's Sergeant Jinks now. What can I do for you, McKay?"
"Sheppard?" Rodney just blurts. At Jinks' curious look, Rodney adds, "I went to his room, but it's empty."
"Oh, Colonel Sheppard just moved to the family wing. New section of housing we opened up a few months ago."
Rodney just looks at him.
At Rodney's curious look, Jinks continues, saying, "Transporter destination E5. Sheppard's in room E306."
Rodney nods and is off without a second thought.
Standing in front of E306, Rodney braces himself for the unknown. Had Sheppard gotten married? Surely he would have mentioned something. He waves his hand over the door once. Twice. By the third wave, it's obvious that the security isn't set up for him (yet!). He goes to knock on the door and it suddenly opens, Rodney looking down as a small child makes a quick escape from the room, spotting Rodney before trying to climb him like a tree.
"Zachariah Eugene Sheppard," John's voice bellows from inside the room. "You'd better get your butt back--"
Sheppard stops at the sight of Rodney, and Rodney's not sure if he's more confused or if it's Sheppard that holds that honor. "John?" he asks.
Sheppard smiles, despite the dark circles under his eyes and worn-out look, then goes back to the child at Rodney's feet. He swoops him up, and that's when Rodney notices John has not one, but two children - one under each arm. "Here," John says, handing the previously Rodney-scaling child over. "Hold him. Merra needs to be changed."
Rodney stands in the hallway holding the squirming boy at arm's length. "Um, Sheppard?" he asks.
"Come in, come in!" Sheppard calls back. "And sorry about the mess. You know how it can be with kids."
"First off," Rodney says as he puts the child down. He then turns and swaps a few crystals in the access panel near the door, preventing it from being opened from the inside without a swipe at the adult-level panel. "That's so your..." Rodney gestures towards the small boy crawling pell-mell towards the door, "spawn don't get out," which causes John to laugh.
"They're not my spawn, McKay," John tosses back.
Ignoring the man, Rodney continues. "Second of all, what the hell? And third?" Rodney puts his hands on his hips, cocking an eyebrow at his former teammate and asks, "Who the hell did you knock up, Kirk? And when were you going to tell me?"
John finishes diapering Merra and puts her down on the floor where she streaks off towards Rodney (Rodney quickly moving around the room, as if she were a rabid pit bull, Merra just laughing and chasing him). "I told you, Rodney. They're not mine." After a sheepish look, John adds, "Well... Not biologically mine."
Rodney looks at the various child-centric objects around the room. "You wanna tell me?"
"Sit," John commands. Rodney goes to sit on the sofa, his backside landing on a squeaky toy that instantly captures Zachariah's attention. He makes his way over to Rodney, hands flexing in a classic motion that every one year old child in any galaxy knows as 'gimme'. Rodney hands the toy over to the child, and it instantly starts a squabble between the siblings, John quelling it a moment later when he produces an identical toy and handing it over to Merra. "Oh, god... Where do I begin?" John asks as he looks first at Rodney, then back to the children, who have now started a slap-fight over the toy Rodney originally sat on.
"That's it," John bellows. "Time out. Now!" He captures both suddenly wailing children, one under each arm, and takes them to an adjacent room, where Rodney hears John's voice and the tone usually reserved for idiots, Wraith-worshippers, or Kavanaugh. "Ten minutes," he says, then comes back to the living room and sits next to Rodney, smiling sheepishly.
Fighting a yawn, John explains about a mission to MX3-848, a planet where a hemp-like product grew like a weed. Formal negotiations had taken place for part of the crop - in exchange for some medicines and technological advances in farming - concluding rather easily. The only thing left was the "Binding Ceremony of Báneros", which even Teyla was unfamiliar with. The team was led into a brightly-lit building that seemed overflowing with children. With a nod, two small children were picked up and placed in John Sheppard's arms, one on each hip.
"Um, what?" John managed, then looked at his team (ignoring the haunted look Zelenka was displaying, his mind obviously on the Lord of the Flies planet). "Teyla?" he asked.
Teyla nodded and turned to the leader of the negotiations. "Pontarra," she started. "Can you..."
The man blushed and nodded. "Of course. These are two orphan children of our planet, given to Colonel Sheppard in good faith to seal our agreement."
John's eyes widen in horror. "I can't-" he babbles.
"Pontarra, surely you cannot use children as part of a trade agreement."
"Teyla Emmagan," the trade negotiator said as his face turned serious. "This is the way of our people. You, above all others, should know this."
"Yes," she replied. "But-"
"These two children represent the essence of our people. Our good will. And Colonel Sheppard must keep them in good health as long as our agreement is in place." With a smile to the squirming little girl, he added, "And this way, we insure that, if the gods see fit to have the Wraith cull us out of existence, our progeny will still be spread far and wide throughout the galaxy. So we will truly never be gone."
"Oh, shit," Rodney says.
John yawns and nods toward Rodney. "Teyla and Ronon were able to help out at first. But Amelia is in her last trimester, and just got ordered to bed rest until she delivers, so Ronon's staying with her. Teyla is on the mainland with the Athosians for the next week. So..." John says, as if his gesture could explain why he was a single father.
"Why didn't you just pawn them off on - I don't know - some unsuspecting couple that actually wants children?" Rodney asks.
"Remember Woolsey's 'Pegasus Outreach' program I told you about?" John asked. "Well, we've got a bunch of Thuna'arians here on Atlantis working with the botanists and engineering to better their crop yield. They... well, they stop by from time to time." Closing his eyes for a second, Sheppard adds, "Besides. I always said I wanted a kid. Now I have two."
Rodney considers the situation, something unheard of on Earth, but really an everyday occurrence in the Pegasus galaxy. After a few minutes, he turns to John and asks, "So is this why I haven't heard from you in-" He cuts himself off when he sees John, mouth agape and snoring gently, as if he hasn't slept in weeks.
When John doesn't immediately wake (Rodney thinking he must need it if he fell asleep that easily), Rodney gets up gently from the couch and grabs John's radio from a counter. Tapping it, he quietly says, "McKay to Lorne."
"Lorne here," comes the reply. "McKay? When did you get back?"
"About half an hour ago. Listen, are you still in your quarters?"
"No," comes Lorne's reply. "I moved in with David. Easier to move me and all my stuff than all of his plants. That's where we are now," he adds. The sarcasm must have been for David's benefit. "What can I do for you, Doc?"
"You're still Sheppard's second in command, right?"
"Affirmative," Lorne says.
"I'll be right there," is all Rodney says in reply. He goes to the kids' room and looks at them, wondering just how he can move both at once. Taking one on each hip, he ignores the twinge in his back (and makes a mental note that Sheppard owes him a professional massage), he makes a quick escape of the apartment and heads to David Parrish's room.
Barging in as soon as the door opens, Rodney ignores Lorne's protesting, "Oh no!" comments and instead drops both children with Parrish. "Sheppard looks exhausted. Can you just take the kids-"
"Colonel Sheppard," Evan says, plucking each child from David's hips and giving them back to Rodney, "is on two months' leave so he has time to deal with these two."
"Oh, Evan, come on," David nearly whines. "It'll be fun. It'll give us a chance to practice. You know; before we have kids of our own."
"Kids of our own?" Evan says, voice showing just how incredulous the situation was. "We're not even married yet, David. Much less worked out if we want kids."
"Yeah, well..." David says.
Lorne turns to Rodney and gives him a stern look. "Sheppard may be my commanding officer, but not when it comes to kids. Besides," Evan says grinning maniacally, "I don't have to take orders from you." Though Evan is forceful in his persuasion, his tone does show a bit of lightheartedness over the whole ordeal. "And now, I think you should take the 'little darlings' and find someone else, while my fiancé and I have a chat about our own possible child."
"Children," Parrish replies, then gives Evan his best puppydog eyes.
"Bastards," McKay mutters. "Both of you. Complete bastards." With a kid on each hip, he twists and turns, but can find no way to get to the radio in his ear. "Miko Kusanagi is still here, right?"
"Yep," Parrish replies. "We just got back from another expedition from MX3-848 two days ago."
"Do me a favor," Rodney says. "Radio her and tell her I'm bringing her presents."
Both children deposited with Miko (who fawned more over the kids than Rodney's return, which she barely acknowledged), Rodney returns to Sheppard's apartment, finding him face down on the sofa. Assuming he's slept about as much as they both did during the first year's Wraith attack on Atlantis, he lets John sleep and putters around the apartment. In cleaning up and putting things away, he finds a third bedroom with a bed similar to the one he used to have. "McKay to Woolsey," he says into Sheppard's radio.
"Woolsey here," comes the reply. "Are you settling in, Doctor McKay?"
"Yes, yes," Rodney says. "Two things. First, would it be possible to get my own radio?"
"Absolutely," Woolsey says. "I'll send a Marine to your location with one."
Rodney nods. "That'd be great. I'm in Sheppard's room, but tell them to bring my stuff, too."
It takes a second before Woolsey responds. "Doctor McKay," he says cautiously, "are you saying you're moving in with Colonel Sheppard, Meredith, and Zachariah?"
"Yes, I'm- Wait. Meredith?" Rodney asks. "He named the girl Meredith?"
Woolsey laughs through the comm. "I assumed you knew, Doctor McKay."
"Yeah, well, there's apparently a lot that I don't know about yet, Mister Woolsey." After a second, he adds, "Tell them to use the comm. to let me know when they're here. John's passed out, and I don't want to wake him."
"Certainly," comes the formal reply. "And don't forget," Woolsey says, "formal meeting with all department heads is tomorrow at 0900. Woolsey out."
Rodney meets the Marines, who manage to make plenty of noise, but John just sleeps through it. He unpacks his belongings into the third bedroom and starts to tidy up around the apartment as he waits for Sheppard to wake. "Seriously, John," he mutters quietly six hours into John's nap, "you didn't used to be like this."
"Like what?" John asks from the couch. He goes from a sleepy expression to wide-awake in seconds. "Where are the kids?" he asks.
"Zachariah and Meredith are with Miko right now," Rodney replies.
Rodney notices John wince ever so slightly at the reference to his namesake daughter. "I, uh... I was gonna tell you," he says, nervously rubbing the back of his neck.
"Oh, yeah?" Rodney challenges. "And exactly when were you going to tell me?" he adds as he empties what must be an ancient dishwasher, putting the clean dishes into an overhead cabinet. "When you told me about the kids?"
"Sorry," John manages, and to his benefit, he truly does look a bit ashamed. "It's just... I haven't had any time since I got dumped with Merra and Zach. Though Woolsey was having fun filling out adoption certificates instead of birth certificates for once. You know we have twenty kids on Atlantis now?"
Rodney just sighs and returns to John's side, sinking into the couch. "Seems like there's a lot that I missed out on," he says.
"I'm glad you're back, McKay," John says with a smile. After a beat, he says, "Come on." Getting up from the couch and grabbing Rodney's hand, pulling him up, he adds "Let's go get the little monsters so you can meet them. Properly this time."
Which is how John and Rodney spend Rodney's first night back on Atlantis: introducing the kids to Uncle Rodney, and having what they'll later look back on as their very first family night.
Rodney's meeting with the department heads the next morning goes off without a hitch, both John and Rodney holding a wriggling child in their lap until Chuck saves the day, bringing in large sheets of paper and crayons.
At a strange look from Rodney, Chuck says, "What? Jinks and I are looking forward to kids one day." He adds, "And using the Atlantean school system. Doctor Kiang has already offered to surrogate for us. We're just waiting on Justin's sister. She's going to harvest some of her eggs so the kids are both biologically related to us."
Rodney's immersion into Atlantis goes more smoothly than anyone would have thought. What he hadn't expected was the adopting into the Sheppard household, and how his honorary role as uncle had just started, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Six months of dancing around each other later, after Rodney has packed both kids off to Aunt Teyla's for a sleepover with Torren John as a surprise for Sheppard, Rodney receives a surprise of his own; during their escape from Atlantis (in a puddle jumper, under the premise of deep-water pressure testing, but really just a reason to get away from Atlantis for a while), John parks the puddle jumper on a deep-water overhang and just relaxes in Rodney's company, during which he kisses Rodney, like it was something they always did.
On their return, under the guise of, "Well, the kids are getting older. And since they're boy and girl, they shouldn't have to share a room," Rodney moves in with John. And to the kids, "Uncle Rodney" just becomes "Poppa."
John and Rodney are accepted like every other parent on Atlantis, and their lives fall into a somewhat predictable normality - or what passes for normality in Pegasus. They are dragged through the lessons of childhood, conveniently forgetting everything Teyla tells them to expect, waking her (and others) up in the middle of the night when it comes to temperatures or loose teeth or how to effectively put your child in timeout (with a straight face) for asking one of the visiting IOA administrators if they really managed to get a large stick up their ass. "Do you like to climb trees like Merra? Is that how it got there?" Zach had asked, Merra just grabbing the administrator's arm, pulling him from the conference room and saying, "I know the bestest trees to climb!"
It's clear Merra has somehow inherited the daredevil gene, adoption be damned. By the time she's six years old, she manages to make a tower out of household items, figuring out how to escape their apartment while Rodney takes a nap (and John is off-world), ending up in the Gateroom. She sneaks into Woolsey's office, sticking her tongue out at him and gets chased by most of the Marines stationed there until she stops just behind the gate, then turns to a Marine and asks if she can go get her skateboard, and would the gate make a good substitute for a half-pipe?
By the time she's eight, she's broken an arm, wrist, and two toes, scored about a million and a half bruises, and has had almost as many stitches as John has in his lifetime. Anyone who sits with her (well, any girl that sits with her, because - as she contends - boys are gross) for more than a few seconds is subjected to stories of her daredeviledness, culminating with the chipped tooth she got while coming down the railing on rollerblades. Rodney and John are just secretly happy that she's stopped pulling up her shirt to show various scars on her shoulders, stomach, and back; the talk with Teyla about being 'demure' must have finally taken (on the seventeenth try).
John and Rodney are woken up on the eve of Merra's thirteenth birthday by a hysterical Zelenka. Neither can tell if Zelenka's hysterical from fear or from laughter as he reports that Merra has distracted one of the Marines and stolen a jumper, and is currently on the largest beach on the mainland - with John's best surfboard. John's not sure if he's more angry or proud.
With as much as Merra is a daredevil, Zach is another thing altogether. A curious child, he took to reading much earlier than other children. By the time he was in Atlantis' version of second grade, he was sneaking Rodney's physics journals, asking pointed questions about 'just what exactly Rodney didn't like about Hawking's quantum theories'.
Rodney is proud his scientific curiosity has seemed to fall on Zach's shoulders, until Zach comes home from school one day and asks if Rodney could get him journals on psychology and sociology, because "people are so much more interesting and unpredictable than physics could ever be," (which causes John to snort beer through his nose and Rodney to threaten to make him sleep on the couch).
While Merra was stealing a puddle jumper on her birthday, Zach was asking his parents if he could spend time with Ronon to learn more about Satedan poetry. He also wanted to learn sculpting from Jinto, who had blossomed into an accomplished artist. Rodney thinks that since Zach is more artistic, maybe he should finagle a way to get a piano onto Atlantis, but decides to start with a Casio-type keyboard first. That idea goes out the window when he walks in on John and Merra with Zach's keyboard, recording various body-orifice-produced sounds, and setting them to music, Zach just rolling his eyes and going back to his copy of Psychology Today.
Just after the kids seventeenth birthdays, John and Rodney stand in front of the Stargate, their nearly-grownup children itching to go through the wormhole by themselves. "Can we go already, Poppa?" Merra implores Rodney. "Classes start tomorrow, and I want to meet my roommate."
Crinkling his eyes in a smile, Rodney pulls Merra close and drops a kiss onto her head. "Don't be so quick that you miss what's important, Meredith," he says.
Merra rolls her eyes. Shooting a look at John, she says, "I still can't believe you named me after Poppa."
Grabbing Rodney's hand into his own, John says, "Oh, whatever." He beams at his daughter. "Kick some ass at the Academy," he adds with a wink. "And you," John says, pulling Zach into a hug. "Make us proud, son."
"Dad..." Zach says.
"And keep an eye on her," Rodney adds.
While Merra was indeed her father's daughter, complete with enrollment in the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Zach, at Teyla's insisting, had enrolled at Colorado College, a small, private liberal-arts college, also in Colorado Springs.
With both kids going off-world, both John and Rodney are glad that they're going to be close together, instead of spread across the country. Atlantis was a galaxy away, easy enough to get to with the help of the multitude of ZedPMs at Atlantis' disposal now that production was available (thanks to Nobel prize-winner Radek Zelenka, who went out of his way to not mention Rodney in his acceptance speech, causing the man all sorts of fluster - though Rodney did feature prominently in Radek's memoirs). But still, John and Rodney liked that their kids were just miles apart.
"Bye, kids," John says, pulling Rodney to him. They watch as both kids turn back to wave, then pass through the wormhole, speeding toward their own futures.
"God, what do we do now?" Rodney says, directing John from the Gateroom.
"I don't know about you," John says, "but I've got Calculus tests to grade."
"Maybe later," Rodney says, then pulls John towards the jumper bay. "How 'bout we first go for a little ride?"
John gives Rodney a look. "Yes, yes, you idiot," Rodney says. "I already have your surfboard in the back of 'jumper one. Now that we're empty nesters, I guess the embargo on your daredevil days are officially over. Though," he adds, with a smack to John's head," you will not. I repeat, will not, leave me a widower."
"Yes, dear," John just says with a laugh, then laces his fingers with Rodney and smiles.