The man previously known as Lieutenant Aidan Ford cracked his neck to one side and swung his arms by his side, calming himself. Peyt had radioed that he had a captive, and Ford wanted to be in control for this interrogation.
A man was thrust into the cave, followed by Peyt and Barlin, and Ford recognized one of the Athosian hunters that they'd saved that day, the first day he'd seen Wraith darts and learned that life-sucking space vampires existed. That had been an extraordinarily bad day, and it was seared unforgettably into Ford's memory. "Hey, Herron, isn't it?" He smiled and helped the man to his feet. "It's good to see you."
"Lieutenant Ford," Herron said gravely, because the Athosians were all like that, fucking grave like a funeral was happening every day, but Ford caught the nervous glance at his eye. Everyone looked at his pure black eye like he was some kind of freak, and it made him angry.
Forcing himself to smile again, he said, "It's Ford. Just Ford. Hey, come on, sit down." He guided Herron over to the wooden benches they used for chairs.
"What do you wish of me?" Herron said, following and sitting down by him, perched on the edge of the bench like he'd run if he got a chance. Peyt and Barlin remained standing in the entrance to the cave.
"I just want to hear what's going on, Herron. I miss Atlantis. I miss the people. What's happening there?"
"On the mainland, we work on our farms and hunt. There is still much to do, to settle and ensure a good harvest for our people."
"But Teyla must visit and tell you things that are happening in Atlantis. Like, where's McKay been? We know he hasn't been going on missions. Is he okay?" Herron's eyes shifted around, like he was looking for an out. "Come on, man. You're scaring me. McKay was a friend of mine. He's okay, isn't he?"
"Doctor McKay is very healthy. There was an accident with the Ancient technology, and he became pregnant. He did not go on missions while he was carrying the twins."
Ford laughed, looking at Heron, who looked very seriously back at him. Ford laughed some more, glancing at Peyt and Berlin, who smiled like they got the joke. "You mean, you're telling me that McKay was the first pregnant man? All swollen with twins? He must have been hysterical."
"We understand from Teyla that he became somewhat reclusive and stayed in the labs most of the time, or with the Colonel."
"With the Colonel? Yeah, Sheppard's good with kids. I can see McKay going to him for support." But a hesitant expression flashed on Herron's face, and Ford pounced. "But it wasn't just that, was it? What was it? Why is Sheppard involved with McKay's kids?"
"The accident with the Ancient technology also involved Colonel Sheppard. They are both considered fathers of the children and are raising them together."
Sheppard. McKay. John. Rodney. A couple? A fucking couple? Raising kids in the Pegasus Galaxy like gay dads? Ford had to stand, had to pace, feeling the energy, the agitation rise in his blood. "An accident? What happened?"
"They have never released those details."
"And you guys just bought that? You just believe that Sheppard wasn't fucking McKay at the time?" The question was really, how long had Sheppard been fucking McKay? Had it started while Ford was still on Atlantis? Was that the reason for those stares they always gave each other? Fuck, had it started in Antarctica? Was that why Sheppard had come to the Pegasus Galaxy, even though Sumner had obviously disliked him?
"It is not our concern how the accident occurred. Children have not been born in the city of the Ancestors for 10,000 years. We regard this birth as a blessing, and a sign that the future is changing for our people. For all of the planets that have been cursed by the Wraith."
And that was the funniest thing Ford had heard in a long time, perhaps the funniest thing since he'd left Earth. "What, you think McKay's the Virgin Mary or something? That those kids are like Jesus? They're Messiahs?" He fell to the bench, lying on his back, laughing so hard his belly hurt. That was even funnier than the thought of a hypochondriac like McKay being pregnant, to think he was honored for something that was all about his body and nothing to do with his brain.
Herron said stiffly, "I do not understand these terms you use. But we welcome these children, as we have welcomed the protection of those in the Ancestor's city. Your people have kept us from the Wraith."
"Not my people, not anymore," Ford answered softly, his laughter dying. Hell, the Colonel probably revered McKay for giving him kids. Sheppard loved kids. Athosian kids, the ones on that planet where they killed themselves… Sheppard always gave them chocolate or played football with them. And now he had his own kids. Saint McKay, crazy Ford.
"We understand from Teyla that they would welcome you back. That the Colonel in particular would like you to return."
"Hey, maybe I will. I should take the kids a birthday present. Yeah, a birthday present for the little McKays." Ford waved his hand at Herron, addressing his men. "Lock him up." Peyt and Barlin hustled a protesting Herron to his feet, and deeper into the cave. Ford needed him gone, needed some quiet to think. What would be a good birthday gift for the Colonel's kids?
Something special, he had to find them something special, something that would prove to the Colonel he could still be trusted.
~ the end ~