They wake to the dull roar of rain against the roof, an early summer squall pelting the house and the garden with a truly galling level of energy. No one's eager to get up; everyone gets a little squirrelly. Rodney can't find his pants, and Finn swears there's a monkey under his bed, and John doesn't seem to have a toothbrush anymore, and someone started singing Three Blind Mice, but it doesn't matter who since they're all at it five minutes after. It's John's morning for Finn patrol, his turn to coax him through the regular morning hoops of face-washing, bed-making, and a running argument of some kind or another, because what's the act of getting dressed if not an excuse to turn your father's hair a little more grey?
"Baffaaaaaaaa . . ." Finn whines, navigating the stairs.
"We had this talk, buddy," John says patiently, steering Finn into the kitchen by way of a hand set gently upon his head. He idly wonders if there's any chance someone could harness the whining of an average three year old, and use it to solve the world's energy crisis. "You can go outside when it stops raining."
Finn sighs with the dramatic flair he's been mastering for the last four months, and Rodney looks up sharply from his cereal bowl. He glances back and forth between Finn and John, cradling his bowl close to his chest as if he fears someone might try to steal his breakfast.
(It's not so dumb a thing to fear in their particular brand of madhouse, John concedes).
"What?" Rodney asks.
Finn pouts, opening and shutting the trunk of his Hot Wheels ferrari.
John makes a beeline for the coffee.
"What?" asks Rodney again.
"Baffa's mean," Finn offers.
John rolls his eyes. "Told him he couldn't go play outside until it stops raining."
"Well that's sensible," Rodney offers.
Finn sighs some more, and shuffles a little for added effect.
"You'll just – " Rodney gestures with a spoon, showering the table with droplets of milk. "Get soaked to the skin and catch pneumonia or trip and fall face down in a puddle and drown and I'm . . . . against that," he finishes lamely.
John chokes on his coffee.
"Besides which you'll get your clothes wet," Rodney says emphatically, and eats more cereal as if that settles everything.
"Good job," John says, patting Rodney on the shoulder and wandering to the pantry. "You want toast and PB, Finn? Cornflakes?"
"We're out of cornflakes," Rodney clarifies, raising his voice.
John scans the shelves. "Cap'n – oh yeah, no, sugar, bad idea. Um . . . Shredded Wheat?" He wrinkles his own nose at that. The box is probably a year old – a remnant of the unfortunate month where Rodney's digestive tract turned bitchy and stubborn. "Raisin Bran?" Who the hell bought Raisin Bran? He pushes things around. "Cheerios. You want Cheerios, buddy?"
The screen door slams in reply, and John sticks his head out of the pantry - finds himself looking at the back of Rodney's head and a distinct absence of kid.
"Did he just . . . ?"
Rodney lets his cereal bowl clatter to the table. "He took off his clothes!" he says, gesturing helplessly toward the jeans, socks and shirt piled by the kitchen door.
John crosses the room and yanks the kitchen door open, ready to let loose with the sort of yell he swore he was never again going to employ once the military was behind him. Instead he gapes, then presses his lips together in a valiant attempt not to laugh.
"What, what?" Rodney asks, rounding the table and coming to stand beside him. "Is he . . . " His words grind to a halt. "Jesus."
Finn's running rampant through the deluged backyard, clad only in a pair of red rain-boots and an overlarge cowboy hat – a gift from Laura that Finn adores in roughly equal proportion to how much Rodney hates it. With a blood-curdling yell of joy, he jumps feet first into the biggest of all the puddles, splashing himself and everything in a five foot radius with muddy water.
John pushes open the screen door and steps out onto the porch, giving up the ghost and allowing himself to grin. "Hey puddlejumper," he yells above the noise of the rain. "Come back in here."
"S'FUN BAFFA!" Finn yells back, running hell for leather through more puddles, getting dirtier every second.
"I see that!" John shouts, and turns his head to look at Rodney, who's clearly trying to work out where his genes fell short. "We should go join him. He'd love it."
Rodney gapes. "Are you insane? It's pouring! It's cold! It's . . . " He gestures wildly as if to take in all the other obvious but unnamable things the morning's turned out to be.
John quirks an eyebrow and clatters down the porch steps, jumping in a puddle near Finn and dousing him in mud. Finn screams with joy and takes off in the other direction.
"AT LEAST HE'S NAKED," Rodney yells.
"WE'RE NOT DOING THAT IN FRONT OF THE KID," John shouts back.
Rodney flushes bright pink. "THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT." He ventures out from beneath the shelter of the porch, shivering and grimacing as he walks down the porch steps. "WE HAVE LOST IT. THIS IS MADNESS. GOODBYE NOBEL PRIZE."
"Daaddddddddyyyyyyyy!" Finn shrieks happily, and runs clumsily to Rodney, clasping him in a hug, arms around his knees, smearing dirt and water up Rodney's khaki pants.
Rodney shakes his head ruefully. "You're a menace," he offers weakly.
Finn beams at him. "Come play in the puddles!"
"Play in the puddles, I ask you," Rodney repeats, huffing. But Finn's already taken his hand to tug him further out into the yard.
"S'fun!" Finn giggles and jumps in a puddle to demonstrate.
Rodney wipes mud from his eye and throws John a look as if the whole thing's his fault. "You can shut up," he sighs. "Standing there, looking rakish, soaked to the skin looking hotter than anyone has a right to, while I just wrinkle up like a prune . . ."
"I like prunes," John murmurs, hooking a consoling hand around the back of Rodney's neck.
"That says something terribly unflattering about me or your bowels," Rodney mutters, tilting his chin. "I don't know that I want to know which."
"Should we talk about the Shredded Wheat?" John asks, low, licking rainwater from Rodney's jaw.
"No," Rodney whispers tremulously.
"Didn't think so," John murmurs, smiling for a fraction of a second before he kisses him.
"KISSING," Finn yells, running up and down the yard, waving a rock he's picked up from who knows where. "YOU'S KISSING!"
Rodney breaks the kiss, laughing. "Oh God, we're all doomed," he mutters, forehead against the wet fabric at the shoulder of John's shirt.
"S'alright by me," John grins, and scrubs both hands through Rodney's hair, making it stick up in a dozen different directions. He cackles wildly before taking off up the yard, Rodney in hot pursuit.
"War!" Rodney yells. "It's war, Sheppard!"
Finn sits down in the middle of the yard and solemnly pulls off his boots. "My daddies are the bestest," he tells his rock, then takes off after them in only his cowboy hat, slipping and sliding in the mud.