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Location is Everything

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Everyday was a new question. Most of the time the daily query had everyone stumped. It wasn't easy to explain to a four year old boy that wasn't from Earth what a slugger was, considering he'd never seen a baseball game even after all that time on Earth. Since Colonel Sheppard was the one who'd taken to calling Torren by that nickname, everyone sent him back to the source to get the answer.

But some days it was more existential than simply wanting to know what something meant. Very often, he wanted to know the why of something. Why do we all have five fingers on each hand? Why is my skin this color but your skin is that color? Why do I see a movie when I close my eyes at night? Why does the puddle jumper hover? On those days, he was often sent to Dr. McKay, seeing as he was the one man that didn't answer with Because.

For one week, Torren was obsessed with finding who people were. He was beginning to understand what it meant that he was Athosian so he'd begun to take an informal census of the rest of the city. Radak was the first one to answer his questions, seeing as he was the one who started the whole thing when he had to explain his accent.

"Why do you talk different than Dr. McKay?" the little boy had asked one morning, his head propped up on his elbows as he watched the scientist tap away at his computer. This was so common place that many of the scientists didn't even notice him staring at them anymore as they went about their work any longer. Except for his questions (that he normally kept to one a day, per a request by Dr. McKay and duly enforced by his mother and Mr. Woolsey), Torren was welcome in the lab as long as he wasn't supposed to be somewhere else at the time. None of the science team relished being chided for keeping the little boy away from his nap again.

"Because I am from the Czech Republic. Rodney is from Canada."

The way he said Canada, as if it tasted bad in his mouth, made Torren laugh. He tried saying it a few times himself, marveling at the way the word formed in his mouth. After asking for the spelling so he could add the word to his repertoire, he asked his third question. Normally this would have made Radak look at him over the top of his glasses and remind him of the rules. Three questions was unheard of. Instead, the man smiled as Torren asked, "Is the Czech Republic a nice place to live?"

And so began the hour long discussion of the better aspects of the country, along with a history lesson of the last one hundred years or so. When he was done, Torren gave him a thumbs up (something he'd learned from Colonel Sheppard and used whenever he found something to be especially delightful) and wandered out of the lab. With a huge grin, Radak went back to work on the latest set of equations.

By dinner time, Torren discovered at least seven unique countries from Earth represented in the city. Amelia had been nice enough to pull up a map of the planet on her computer and shown him where they were located, as well as her hometown of Phoenix in the southern part of the United States of America near where they had stayed in San Francisco. He didn't remember much of that time seeing as he was just a baby.

"Do you want me to print you out a copy of this?" she asked after they pinpointed all the different places that he'd found represented. "There's still a lot of other people from different countries here. You could ask around and get all their locations and plot them here."

At dinner, he showed off the map to everyone who walked near the table. Every single one of them admired it and, if they weren't already plotted, gave him their home location so he could place a new sticker. By dessert, theirs was the most popular table in the whole room. So many people were sharing stories about where they'd grown up or a place they'd visited on vacation that no one noticed when Torren snuggled up against Ronon and tried not to yawn too often. One of his favorite ways to fall asleep was with words flying around him so he always protested having to leave the Mess Hall while there was still conversations going on. Tonight, Ronon just cuddled him close and they sat quietly, listening to the words flowing around them.

"Can I put Sateda on my map?" Torren asked, keeping his voice quiet so that this was just a conversation between the two of them. He'd discovered quickly enough he was sure to get a response from Ronon if he kept his voice pitched low so they were the only two that could hear the words.

"This is a map of Earth."

"I mean, can I get a map that Sateda would on? So I can put a sticker on for where you're from?" The man was silent for long enough that Torren twisted his head around to look at him. "Do you think Amelia will be able to find a map of Sateda for me?"

"If anyone can, it would be Amelia."

"Yeah," the little boy agreed, settling back down in place as a huge yawn kept him silent for a moment. He would much rather fall asleep against Ronon than in his own bed, the comfort of the familiar, firm body better than any pillow. "I'll ask her tomorrow."

"You do that."

And if Ronon squeezed Torren a little tighter than normal when he finally carried him back to his bed and covered him with his favorite blanket, he didn't notice because he'd been asleep for hours. The next day, everyone seemed to be wearing a smile but he didn't realize that he was the reason. He was just happy to have his maps.