"Sex, race, religious affiliation - "
"Sexu - "
"Yes, McKay. Sexual orientation. We got it. We got it last time, and the time before that. When did you become a poster child for equal rights anyway?" Jack's tone hovered between resigned and impatient, as it always seemed to when speaking to Rodney.
"Canadian," Rodney responded, as if surely the general knew Canadians were advocates of equal rights. "And since you asked," he add, whipping out his billfold of pictures, "particularly since Boxing Day, when John moved in." He bounced out of his chair, around the conference table, and over to the general's seat, holding out the billfold to proudly display the first photo of John.
Jack gave the picture a brief glance, then waved it anyway. "Not interested in your love life, McKay."
The general's lack of taste didn't surprise Rodney, so he held the billfold toward Sam, who took it. It was an old-fashioned method for showing pictures, but Timothy and John deserved a size larger than his cell phone, and he didn't always have his laptop with him.
"He's cute," she said, sounding surprised. "It's the picture that came with the wallet, right?"
"Not unless you think I hired a model to take pictures with my son." With the billfold still resting loosely in Sam's hand, Rodney flipped the picture over. "John and Timothy adore each other."
"Wow," Sam said, and why shouldn't she? Timothy was an adorable child, John a handsome man, and they were both smiling in the picture, heads close together. "He is hot. I didn't know you had it in you."
"Marie was a beautiful woman," he said, not sure if she was teasing. He always had a difficult time understanding her. He wouldn't even have tried, but Marie had always wanted to hear about his trips, and 'classified, classified, and yes, more brilliant, genius, classified work' hadn't seemed to satisfy her. He'd finally hit on talking about the people, and after some bizarre snit where Marie had seemed to be jealous of Sam, she'd always told him to be nice to Sam, that she'd had enough problems in her life with all her boyfriends getting killed. Not that Marie could be told how Sam's boyfriends had died, which had meant that though she'd been incredibly sympathetic, Sam's run of bad luck had perplexed her. Still, Sam's tone frequently made remembering Marie's admonishment difficult.
"Yes, she was," Sam said simply, and that was better. Maybe the stalker cop guy was still alive and she was feeling less bitter these days. Rodney would have to remember to ask Daniel, who answered questions directly if somewhat vaguely. Keeping track of people's lives wasn't a keen interest of Rodney's, but maybe John would want some stories too. Or perhaps John would be satisfied with 'classified' and Rodney could stop bothering. That would be ideal.
"Do you want - " he scooped the billfold out of Sam's hand and held it toward Radek, but the Czech waved it off too. "You sent me pictures already, Rodney. Many pictures."
Elizabeth reached out, so he handed it to her, as Jack said, "If we're through with all the revisions? It's been fun, folks, and thank you for your input. I'll forward everything to the IOA, get their buyoff, let you know any objections, yadda, yadda."
"It'll be good to have the new hiring procedures and policies in place," Elizabeth said, even as she flipped through the photos. "Timmy's growing up fast."
"He is. John's been teaching him football." Noise erupted from his pocket, and Rodney clutched at his cell phone, recognizing the ring tone John had programmed in and coded to his number. It was a snippet of some lame 70s rock number, but John had been so adamant that he wanted Rodney to know when he was calling, that Rodney had grumbled but let it stay.
And Jeannie always said he would have trouble making compromises for his family.
"John? Timothy? What's wrong?" he snapped into the phone.
"Everything's okay, Rodney," came John's reassuring tone. The others were collecting their laptops and papers, and Rodney accepted the billfold back from Elizabeth, tucking it away with one hand.
"You weren't going to call unless it was an emergency."
"That was only when you were at work. It's almost six."
"Oh." Rodney glanced at his watch. John was right. He'd been so involved in helping them revise the hiring protocols for the Stargate and Atlantis projects that he hadn't noticed the time. It was good he'd come to Colorado, even if the bureaucratic nonsense was boring. Had it been left to the military, the scientists would only be able to publish posthumously, and that absurd 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would be imposed on everyone. "We're wrapping up. Can I call you back?"
"Just come up. We're upstairs."
"Upstairs? Upstairs where?"
"Upstairs above you. In the visitors' lounge. They won't let us come any farther."
"You're in Colorado?"
"Yeah. Today was one of those teacher's days and Monday's a holiday, so we thought we'd spend the weekend here with you."
John had packed up Timothy and brought him to Rodney? "But I have a ticket to fly back tonight."
"No, you don't. I asked your secretary to change it. You changed it last time anyway."
"Oh." He felt himself beaming at the phone, turning away from the others. "You missed me."
"Last time you stayed and worked all weekend. Timmy and I thought you needed a break."
"You missed me," he sing-songed.
"Would you get your ass upstairs?" John hissed.
"Missed me," Rodney gloated again, snapping the phone shut as John did.
"Timmy is here?" Radek asked. "I will come say hello."
"Great." Rodney tossed his laptop and Jack's handouts in his case. "You want to have dinner with us?"
"Dinner sounds good, yes."
"Sam? Elizabeth? General?" Rodney asked, wanting them to meet John, belatedly wondering if John wanted to meet them. He tended to get a little distant when the military was mentioned. Almost like Marie's quietness when her parents had come to visit. Fortunately, the others were shaking their heads to decline, though Sam and Elizabeth decided to come up to say hi.
Rodney almost bounced on his heels as the elevator zoomed up the many floors of Stargate Command to the surface, where all traces of travel to other worlds were disguised as an Air Force deep space telemetry research project. He loved consulting on the Stargate project, reviewing Radek's reports and the artifacts from Atlantis. Even working with the military on refining the bureaucratic rules had been tolerable, because it guaranteed that he would ultimately be able to publish and that if he ever went to Atlantis, he could bring John. The downside of these trips was the misery of not seeing Timothy every day and falling into a lonely bed without his lover every evening. Maybe he could do future meetings of this type by teleconferencing, and reserve traveling for scientific assignments.
John and Timothy were in the visitors' lounge, both in jeans, Timothy in a blue polo shirt, John in a green short-sleeve button down shirt, their heads lowered over a map. John seemed to have an entire lesson plan of life for Timothy and had already started teaching him navigation.
"Dad." Timothy ran over, launching himself into Rodney's arms. Rodney caught him, holding him close, and giving him a big hug. He'd always wanted children, knowing that his genes should be passed along to the next generation, but sometimes the strength of his love for Timothy surprised him. He'd worried some when Marie was pregnant, whether having a child would get in the way of his work, but then he'd held Timothy, and everything had changed. Everything.
Not that he'd ever admit it to Jeannie, who'd repeatedly told him that would happen.
"Hey," John said simply, folding his arms around both of them.
"John," was all Rodney managed to say before John kissed him. Very little tongue, not a lot of passion likely to cause an embarrassing erection, but a very sweet, very deliberate and sustained, 'Hi I'm here and you're mine' kiss. It was John's public kiss. Rodney had begun cataloguing John's kisses, a task that he never found tiring and hoped would never end.
Timothy giggled in his ear and Rodney broke away.
"Hey, Uncle Radek," Timothy exclaimed, and the two hugged while Rodney watched them fondly. Timothy had his looks and brains, but he had Marie's ability to relate to people. Radek had adored him since he was born, and had been happy to be a surrogate uncle. Jeannie's English teacher seemed to make her happy, but he hardly fulfilled the male role models Rodney thought Timothy should have.
"I could not bring you much, but I found you this," Radek was telling Timothy, as Rodney introduced John to Sam and Elizabeth, both of whom seemed duly impressed. And why shouldn't they be? John looked particularly hot and masculine and was making that kind of 'so nice to meet you, Rodney speaks of you often' banality, excelling at it as well as Marie.
"Look at this, Dad," Timothy demanded, and Rodney glanced at his hands, seeing a shiny blue oblong disk. It had a leaf preserved inside it, like an insect fossilized in amber, only obviously manufactured.
"It is a leaf from a rare plant, preserved in plastic," Radek explained, which Rodney realized meant a plant from the Pegasus Galaxy, though Timothy couldn't know that. And the blue material was unlikely to be plastic but again, that wasn't up for discussion.
"Cute," he said, because he'd learned from Marie that 'it's a plant that can't be eaten, who cares?' wasn't an acceptable response.
"I'm going to research and figure out what it is. Uncle Radek doesn't know."
Timothy was such a scientist, Rodney though, ruffling his hair. He'd never be able to identify it, but he'd try with a dedication that reminded Rodney of himself.
"I wish - " his throat seized up because he was going to say that he wished Marie were here to help Timothy, but did he really? It still hurt to think of her gone, but he loved John. "I bet John would help you. You can teach him about classification systems."
"He is not a help if he has to be taught, is he?" Radek asked, but Timothy leaped in to defend him.
"Uncle John knows lots of things. He's teaching me all about football and Johnny Cash."
"Football and Johnny Cash. Yes, these are very good things to learn," Radek replied gravely.
"Johnny Cash is iconic," Timothy announced proudly.
"He certainly is," John agreed, resting his hand on the small of Rodney's back, his touch making Rodney's skin tingle even through the fabric of his suit jacket. "You guys ready for dinner? Sam and Elizabeth have to go."
And indeed, the two women were preparing to leave and there was a flurry of goodbyes, after which the women went back to the elevators, to return to the SGC. Then bless him, Daniel came off the elevator as the women were stepping in, with Rodney's clothes hastily thrown into his suitcase at the general's order, who truly wasn't as ditzy as he liked to appear. Or who was ready for Rodney to leave. Rodney understood Jack even less than Sam.
They finally headed out to the parking lot, Timothy telling Radek about everything that had happened while he was gone, with special emphasis on Einstein and John moving in. Rodney offered expository comments as they walked and John held his hand, tangling their fingers together.
As they piled into John's rental car, Rodney contemplated the evening. They'd have dinner, make Radek take a taxi back to the SGC, go to the hotel... Rodney very much hoped that John had had the forethought to rent a suite.
"Hey," John said softly, driving out of the compound, talking quieter than Timothy, who was still regaling Radek with stories in the backseat. "It's okay that we came, right?"
Rodney glanced at John's profile, the absorbed expression he always wore when driving, noting the hint of hesitancy in his eyes. John hadn't waited at home, but had packed up Timothy and come to Rodney. Theoretically, this trait could be problematic, if it interfered with Rodney's vital work. He did have a Nobel to win. But... no one in Rodney's life had ever simply come and got him. His parents and his college roommates had been happy when he disappeared studying; Marie had occasionally fretted at him about his long hours and said she missed him. Only John had ever wanted to be with him so much that he showed up at his work.
"Yes," said Rodney. "It's perfect."
~ the end ~