Jeannie Miller smiled to herself as she cleared away the lunch dishes. Madison was watching a random Disney movie which gave Jeannie a little time to herself.
It had been six months since her little adventure, as Caleb liked to call it and she couldn’t stop that little hope that one day she’d be able to come up with something else to take her back to Atlantis.
She heard the door bell and, after quickly checking Madison was still sitting enthralled, she headed to the door, shocked when she opened it. It took her a few seconds to recognise the man standing there, considering he was wearing dress blues.
“John?” she stated, finally recognising the man in front of her and her stomach dropped, filling with ice cold dread, “What’s happened to Meredith?”
John licked his lips nervously; he anxiously played with the bag he was carrying.
“What’s happened?” Jeannie demanded again.
“Can I come in?” his voice was soft, no emotion in it at all.
Swallowing hard, Jeannie stepped out of his way and allowed him inside. She led him into the kitchen away from Madison, checking her daughter was still watching the film before she turned to John again.
“He’s dead,” Jeannie stated, forcing back the lump in her throat, “Isn’t he?”
Jeannie covered her face with her hands as she choked back sobs; she took several deep breaths and looked back at the stoic man across from her, “How?”
“We were trapped,” John explained, leaning back against the counter, “I was injured, so was Ronon and Teyla was outside. He…I don’t actually know what it was he did to get us out but I woke up just as he executed his plan.”
“Can I bury him?” Jeannie whispered, wanting something that would be normal.
“There’s no body,” John couldn’t look at her, “He was disintegrated.”
“Oh God,” she gasped, she gripped the counter, “Oh Mer.”
John handed her the bag, “Here. He recorded some messages before he did it. The one in there is for you,” he shrugged as she pulled out an oddly shaped package, wrapped in brown paper, “That’s a present for your daughter. He got it that morning for her when we were in the market.”
Jeannie gripped it to her, “Thank you.”
“I have to go,” John told her, “I have to get back to Atlantis.”
“John,” she called, making him turn back to her, “Thank you for coming.”
“I couldn’t let you find out from someone neither of you knew,” John replied, he jumped slightly as she hugged him but he wrapped his arms around her, taking comfort himself from the one link he had left to his friend, “I’m sorry, Jeannie. I’m sorry.”
“I know,” Jeannie whispered, letting him go and stepping back.
John turned and let himself out, leaving Jeannie in the kitchen clutching the bag to her.
“Hey,” Caleb Miller grinned when he opened the front door and his daughter came running over to him.
“A man came and made Mommy cry,” Madison told him.
Caleb frowned, picking up his daughter he headed into the lounge finding his wife sitting on the couch, staring into space with dried tears on her cheeks.
“Honey,” Caleb put Madison down, “Go upstairs just now. I need to talk to Mommy.”
Madison nodded; she headed upstairs leaving Caleb standing. Slowly he walked into the lounge and sat beside his wife.
“Jeannie?” he whispered, gently touching her cheek, “What’s wrong?”
Jeannie turned to her husband, “Mer’s dead.”
“What?” Caleb gasped; he didn’t know his brother-in-law very well and had never been his biggest fan but he knew how much Jeannie loved him, “I’m sorry, Jeannie. I’m so sorry.”
He wrapped her in his arms, rocking her as she started to sob on his shoulder, her body shaking as she grieved. After a few minutes she pulled herself together and moved back.
“I should get dinner ready,” Jeannie wiped her eyes, “Get Madison ready for bed, she can eat in her pyjamas tonight.”
“Caleb, please,” she snapped, she took a deep breath, “Just, do it.”
Jeannie sat curled up on the couch as Caleb put their daughter to bed. She was still in shock, she knew it. Glancing over at the table, she saw the two items John had left her, her brother’s farewell message and a gift for his niece.
“It’s not going to jump in the machine itself,” Caleb sat at her side, pulling her to him.
Jeannie cuddled against him, “I don’t know if I want to watch it. I don’t know if I’m ready to let him go.”
Caleb moved and put the disc in the DVD player before placing the small package on the couch beside them.
Deliberately he pressed play, feeling Jeannie cuddle closer as her brother’s face appeared on the screen before them. He appeared tired and dirty, looking directly into the camera he gave a half smile.
“Jeannie,” he took a deep breath, “I’m about to do something very stupid. Something that could possibly kill me if I do this wrong. Trust me, I don’t want to do this but if I don’t…if I don’t then John and Ronon will die,” he reached out of view and brought up a strange looking stuffed toy to the camera, “This is for Madison. I know it looks a bit like a deformed rabbit but I think she’ll like the pink jewel in its collar.”
Jeannie smiled slightly, sniffing back more tears.
“I wish…I wish we got to spend some more time together,” he told her, “It was good to see you and work with you,” he paused again, “I’m sorry I’m doing this, Jeannie. I’m sorry.”
With that, the screen went to black. Jeannie turned to Caleb and relaxed into his embrace.
After a few seconds, she pulled back and glanced at the package, “Could you give that to Madison?”
“I can’t,” Jeannie shook her head, “I don’t think I can tell her that her uncle sent her this when he died.”
Caleb gently kissed her, “Not what I’ll say to her but I’ll go give her it.”
Jeannie waited until he’d left the room before she reversed the message a few frames so that her brother’s face appeared again. She stared at it wondering if he’d suffered, wondering if he realised he was dying or if it was instantaneous. Finally, she switched it off and whispered goodbye to him.
Jeannie took a seat in the office of the school principal, completely stunned that she was being called to the school. Madison loved being in school and, from what the little girl told her, listened attentively to her teacher.
“Mrs Miller,” the woman across from her greeted her, “Thank you for coming.”
“Of course, Mrs Pearson,” Jeannie replied, “What’s the problem?”
“Madison appears to have created an imaginary friend,” Pearson explained, getting straight to the point, “Now, normally it isn’t something that bothers us, a lot of children have them.”
“I sense a but coming,” Jeannie noted.
“This friend, according to Madison, is causing her to disrupt the class,” Pearson continued.
“I’m sorry,” Jeannie sighed, “I didn’t realise she had anything like this.”
Pearson nodded, “Madison also appears to have developed a keen attachment to a rather strange looking stuffed animal.”
“It was a gift,” Jeannie explained, “From my brother. He…he died recently.”
“That explains it,” Pearson mused, “She refers to this friend as her uncle.”
Jeannie shook her head in disbelief, “But Madison only met Meredith once.”
Pearson frowned, “That’s not the name she uses.”
“What is?” Jeannie asked, she started to chew on her pinkie nail.
“Rodney,” Pearson replied, “She told me earlier that her Uncle Rodney wanted her to write out an equation.”
Jeannie stared at her, “Equation? Can I see it?”
“Of course,” the other woman pulled out a file and showed Jeannie the childish writing on the paper.
“That’s my…” Jeannie murmured, trailing off as she felt a chill run down her spine, “I wrote this one day several months ago. She obviously remembers it.”
“And this Uncle Rodney?” Pearson asked.
“Rodney was the name my brother preferred to use,” Jeannie whispered, “He…he died only a few weeks ago. It’s possible she’s picked up on that.”
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Mrs Miller,” Pearson told her, “However, Madison is my priority right now and I feel that for today she should not go back to class.”
“I’ll talk to her,” Jeannie assured the other woman, “Thank you.”
“What happened?” Caleb asked.
Jeannie slammed the kitchen drawer shut angrily, “I’m screwing up my daughter.”
“Honey,” he soothed, “You’re not. Madison liked Meredith when he was here. It’s probably why she’s chosen him as her imaginary friend. Not to mention he gave her Rolf.”
“Rolf, the deformed rabbit,” Jeannie rubbed her forehead, trying to keep the headache at bay, “Where did she get the name Rodney from?”
“She probably overheard one of us saying it,” Caleb reminded her, “Maddie is as smart as you, remember?”
Jeannie nodded, “I guess.”
“Look, you finish up here,” Caleb told her, “And I’ll put little Miss Troublemaker to bed.”
“No,” Jeannie disagreed, “We’ll both do it.”
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, giving her a comforting hug before they headed upstairs to where their daughter was drawing.
“Bedtime,” Jeannie called when they entered the room.
“But I’ve not finished,” Madison cried.
“You can finish it tomorrow,” Caleb told her.
Madison grimaced, “But Uncle Rodney says it needs done now.”
Her parents glanced at one another and Jeannie crouched down to look at her daughter.
“Madison, where did you hear that name?” she asked.
“He told me,” Madison pointed just to Jeannie’s side, as she clutched Rolf tightly in her hand.
Jeannie turned to where she pointed, standing up she tried to stop the tears threatening her.
“I’ll put her to bed,” Caleb soothed, “And Rolf will not be staying with her tonight.”
Jeannie sat staring at the stupid stuffed animal on the table, the stupid stuffed animal that Madison was so enthralled with. There had been tears and a tantrum when Caleb had taken it from her but finally Madison had gone to sleep. Jeannie, however just couldn’t relax, so here she was at one in the morning, drinking hot milk and staring at the last thing her brother had ever sent. She just couldn’t understand why it was affecting Madison like this.
“You’re going in the bin,” Jeannie decided to the toy. She stood, picked it up and stared at it.
“Just give the kid her damn toy back,” a familiar voice came from behind her.
Jeannie spun. Seeing her brother standing behind her, she let out a squeal of shock, dropping the toy. As she let it go, he disappeared.
Breathing heavily, she glanced down at the stuffed animal lying at her feet; slowly Jeannie knelt down and lifted it again. Standing up again, she stared as Rodney stared back at her.
“You can see me?” he gasped.
Jeannie was shaking as she gaped at him; her fingers gripped the cloth of the toy.
“Jeannie, if you can hear me,” Rodney said softly, “I really need you to give some sort of indication.”
“Mer,” she whispered, she slowly reached out with one hand and jumped back as her hand went straight through him.
“Don’t do that,” he cried annoyed, “It’s creepy.”
Jeannie fell back into a seat continuing to stare at him.
“Could you talk to me?” Rodney yelled, “Jeannie, please just say something.”
“You can’t be here,” Jeannie whispered, “John said, he said you were dead.”
“Jeannie, I need you to focus here,” Rodney snapped, he smiled at her suddenly, “Thank God you can see and hear me. I’ve been attached to a five year old for the last few weeks. Finally, some adult conversation.”
“Why haven’t I seen you before?” Jeannie murmured, her fingers still gripping the toy.
“I don’t know,” Rodney cried, “All I know is one minute I was activating a device to get us out of an Ancient lab then I was here, in Madison’s room,” he smiled slightly, “She likes the rabbit thing.”
Jeannie smiled as well before shaking herself, “All right, I’m sleeping. That’s what this is, I fell asleep and this is a dream.”
“Well if it is,” he snapped, “I’m having the same one. Damn it, Jeannie, I need your help here. Snap out of it.”
Jeannie let go of the toy and he disappeared. She could just go to bed, just drop the rabbit in the bin and go to bed, forgetting all about this insanity.
“Please don’t do that,” Rodney whispered when she took a hold of the toy again, “Jeannie, I need you.”
“What do I do?” she asked softly.
Rodney sat leaning against the wall, watching his baby sister sleep curled up in the chair. He wished he could throw a cover over her every time she shivered slightly in her sleep but he couldn’t. It confused him, he’d been here for two weeks and wasn’t tired, wasn't hungry or thirsty. With a sigh, he stood up and went to look out the window for a while. Jeanie seemed to live in a nice neighbourhood, he decided as he looked at the houses.
“Honey,” his brother-in-laws voice made him turn, he saw Caleb leaning over Jeannie who was stirring, “Have you been here all night?”
Jeannie sighed slightly, “Needed to think.”
Caleb lifted up Rolf, “Will I get rid of this thing?”
“No,” Rodney and Jeannie shouted in unison, though Caleb only heard Jeannie.
Caleb frowned confused, “Last night you wanted to burn this.”
“Is Madison up yet?” Jeannie avoided the statement.
“Yeah,” Caleb frowned a little confused.
Jeannie pulled herself off the chair and took the toy from her husband, “Make some breakfast, we’ll be down in a few minutes.”
Jeannie glanced back at Rodney, trying to motion him to follow her as she exited and shut the door.
“What are we doing?” Rodney appeared at her side through the wall, making her jump.
“We’re going to talk to Madison,” she said softly.
Confused, Rodney followed on to Madison’s room. Jeannie entered and motioned him to hurry up.
Madison was sitting on her bed and looked up warily as Jeannie entered.
“Are you still upset?” the little girl asked, her eyes wide.
“No, sweetie,” Jeannie smiled at her.
“Can I get Rolf back?” Madison asked, reaching out for the toy.
“No, not today, honey,” Jeannie moved it back slightly; “I need to ask you something though.”
Madison pouted, “But if Rolf isn’t with me, then Uncle Rodney can’t come to school with me.”
“When did you first see Uncle Rodney?” Jeannie asked, glancing at her brother who was leaning against the wall.
“When Daddy gave me Rolf,” Madison replied, “He was in that corner,” Madison pointed across the room, “Daddy didn’t see him.”
“Daddy’s not the brightest spark,” Rodney laughed.
Jeannie glared at him, “Don’t bad mouth my husband in front of my daughter.”
“She can’t see me or hear me,” Rodney retorted, “Unless she’s holding the stupid rabbit.”
“He came with me to school,” Madison continued, not paying attention to them arguing, “Does he have to stay home because he told me to be bad?”
Jeannie laughed slightly, “Can you see him now?”
Madison shook her head; Jeannie sat beside her daughter and placed the toy so it touched both of their hands.
“There he is,” Madison smiled, pointing at Rodney, “Can you come with school with me today, Uncle Rodney?”
Jeannie motioned her brother to answer the question.
“I have to stay with your Mom today,” Rodney crouched in front of Madison.
Madison pouted, “But I like you being there.”
“I know, kiddo,” Rodney bit his lip slightly, “But you have to make other friends. I told you I might not be here long. I need to leave now but I’ll try and come back.”
Madison looked sad but nodded, “I love you, Uncle Rodney. Come back soon.”
With that said she bounced off the bed and went to have breakfast, leaving the siblings together.
“Once they’re both away,” Jeannie told him, “We’ll work out what to do next.”
“What if she thinks I’m crazy?” Jeannie paced the kitchen, Rolf held loosely in her hands.
Rodney rolled his eyes, “Make the call, Jeannie. I’ve been stuck here for weeks as the imaginary friend of a munchkin. Carter will be able to help sort this.”
Jeannie raised a questioning eyebrow at him.
“I’m almost sure of it,” he finished lamely.
“All right,” she took a deep breath and picked up the phone, “What’s the number?”
She dialled as he spoke, waiting nervously for the other end to be picked up.
“My name is Jean Miller, I need to speak to Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter,” Jeannie said, the moment her call was answered, “Yes, I’ll wait.”
“They’re transferring me,” Jeannie told him. She moved to set the toy down and Rodney let out a cry of shock, “What?”
“Don’t put it down,” he whispered, “I don’t want to be alone.”
Jeannie nodded and slipped her hand through Rolf’s collar so it sat at her wrist, “Colonel Carter?” she said suddenly, “It’s Jeannie Miller, I need to speak to you but I need to see you in person.”
She paused as she listened before sighing in relief, “You are? That’s great. No, if you could get here as soon as you can. Thanks.”
“Well?” Rodney demanded the moment she set the phone down.
Jeannie shrugged, “Apparently, she was coming to see me anyway. Something about just finding out about your ‘death’.”
Rodney looked at her, “What do we do till then?”
“I don’t know about you, Mer,” Jeannie laughed, “But I have to tidy up.”
I know how crazy this sounds,” Jeannie said to the woman sitting on her couch sipping tea, “But Sam, he’s here and he’s alive.”
“Just invisible,” Sam Carter noted.
“This is nonsense,” Rodney snapped from Jeannie’s side.
“Mer,” Jeannie muttered, “Shut up.”
Sam raised an eyebrow at the woman across from her, “Annoying even when he’s not really here.”
Jeannie laughed slightly, especially at her brother’s splutter of indignation.
“He could be out of phase,” Sam suggested, “A similar thing happened to Daniel several years ago.”
“But you couldn’t see him at all,” Jeannie relayed her brother’s comment, editing it slightly, “I can see Mer, so can Madison.”
“Your husband couldn’t,” Sam noted, “Right?”
Jeannie frowned as she thought about this, “No, he couldn’t. And he has held this thing several times.”
“Okay,” Sam tapped a pen as she thought, “He’s out of phase, this…toy seems to be a catalyst to being able to see him, yet only his sister and niece can see him.”
“Well done for stating the obvious,” Rodney muttered.
Sam tapped a fingernail on the side of her mug thoughtfully, “Can I use your phone?”
“Ah, sure,” Jeannie handed her the phone.
Sam quickly dialled and waited as it connected, “Daniel, good. Are you busy?” she smiled at his reply; “Hold on,” she turned back to Jeannie, “Do you have a speaker phone?”
Jeannie quickly pushed the button.
“Okay, Daniel,” Sam continued, “I’m with Jeannie Miller who has a slight problem.” She quickly told him the situation, watching as Jeannie played with the toy in her hands.
“Wow,” Daniel murmured, once Sam had finished her explanation, “It sounds horribly familiar.”
“Dr Jackson, how did you get back in phase?” Jeannie asked, her interest piqued.
“I was able to return to the planet it happened on,” Daniel told her.
Jeannie frowned in thought, “But if you couldn’t contact them? How did you manage to get them to go back to a dangerous planet, Dr Jackson?”
“My grandfather was able to see me,” Daniel replied, “And call me Daniel.”
“Of course, Daniel,” Jeannie laughed at Rodney’s roll of eyes, “Like both Madison and I can see Meredith.”
“Do you have to call me that?” Rodney complained in Jeannie’s ear.
“I always assumed,” Daniel continued, “That it was because Nick had been through a similar experience.”
Jeannie tilted her head to the side as she thought, “A blood relation,” she noted, “Mer can be seen by blood relations. Could that be the connection?”
“It’s possible,” Sam mused, “I think the only solution is for you to go back to Atlantis.”
Jeannie’s eyes widened, “Oh.”
“From what I remember of the experience, if you wait too long,” Daniel warned, “When Rodney is moved back into phase, the shock might kill him.”
Rodney stared at his sister while Jeannie gasped slightly in horror, “When can I go?”
John dialled the Gate in the halfway point of the network, which would take him back to Earth. Ronon sat at his side, silent as he had been for the past few weeks. Since Rodney had killed himself to save them.
Sending the GDO signal, John manoeuvred the Puddle Jumper through the Stargate into the SGC and moved to the Jumper Bay they’d created. John opened the back of the ship and he and Ronon exited the ship.
“Welcome to Earth,” General Landry greeted them, “Colonel Carter needs to speak with you immediately.”
John looked a little surprised; he’d expected a debriefing before anything. He handed Landry the disc with the reports from Atlantis before heading to where Carter was waiting for him.
“Jeannie?” John stared in shock at the woman pacing the room, “What’s going on?”
“John,” Sam stepped forward, “It looks as though Rodney is not dead.”
“That isn’t funny,” Ronon growled.
“Believe me, I know,” Jeannie told him, “But he’s not dead.”
“Jeannie,” John started tiredly, “I know this isn’t easy, Trust me, all of us are still grieving…”
Jeannie slammed her hand on the table, making John jump and he trailed off as she glared at him.
“Do you think I’m crazy?” she snapped at him, “Because at first so did I. But I have him at my side at this precise moment in time, hoping that you believe me.”
“How can you see him and we can’t?” Ronon demanded.
Jeannie showed him the toy, “Remember this? It seems to be some sort of catalyst which allows me to see and hear him while he’s out of phase.”
“Out of phase?” Ronon looked confused, John just looked angry.
“I want him to be alive too,” he snapped, “But I saw him die.”
“No,” Jeannie argued back, “You saw him get hit by a beam of energy which seemed to disintegrate him.”
“John,” she cut him off, “I am coming back to Atlantis with you. Then Radek and I are going to find some way to bring Meredith back into phase with the rest of us.”
“These are your orders, Colonel,” Landry said from behind him.
“Yes, sir,” John replied, his voice tight with anger.
“Thank you, Sam,” Jeannie said as they stood waiting for John to arrive, “Thank Dr…Daniel also, from both of us.”
Sam shrugged before smirking, “Tell…Meredith he owes me one.”
Jeannie bit her lip at her brother’s reply to that, “He already knows.”
Sam grinned and headed back to the control room. Jeannie sat down on the bench; she knew John wasn’t happy about this but right now she didn’t care if he believed her or not.
“He’ll come around,” Rodney said, he was sitting across from her, “John can be a little stubborn.”
“Like someone else I know,” Jeannie replied, she absently toyed with Rolf’s ear as she spoke. She’d been holding the toy constantly for the past few days that it had become almost a part of her.
A shadow crossed her and Jeannie glanced up to see Ronon standing there.
“Is he here?” he asked.
Jeannie pointed across from her, “There.”
“Good,” Ronon moved to the front of the Jumper, “Sheppard will be here soon.”
“Jeannie,” Rodney said once Ronon was away from them, “You know this could be dangerous. “
“I know,” Jeannie nodded, “But…I prefer not to have to hold a stuffed animal to see and talk to you.”
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” he continued, “Tell Ronon, when we’re on the planet, he’s to protect you.”
“Mer,” she frowned, “I’m not going to…”
“Tell him,” Rodney cut her off, “I’ll keep on at you until you do.”
Jeannie rolled her eyes, “I’ll let go of Rolf.”
Ronon turned back to look at her, “Something wrong?”
“Tell him,” Rodney growled at her.
Jeannie sighed, “Meredith insists I tell you that you’ve to protect me when we go to the planet with the lab.”
“Where is he?” Ronon asked again, turning to where Jeannie pointed, “Already done, McKay.”
John marched in; he dropped his bag on the same bench, narrowly missing putting it through Rodney before he headed to the pilot’s seat. He closed the back of the Jumper, starting the engine; Jeannie glanced at her brother nervously.
“He’s a great pilot,” Rodney murmured to her, “We’ll be in Atlantis before you know it.”
Jeannie nodded but still gripped the bench she was sitting on tightly.
Elizabeth stared in shock at the woman walking into her office, John and Ronon at her side.
“Jeannie?” she gasped, “What are you doing here?”
The sister of her recently deceased Chief Scientist moved towards her, “He’s not dead.”
“Hear me out,” Jeannie cut her off, Elizabeth frowned noting the other woman holding a strange rabbit like stuffed animal, “We think he’s out of phase, and we need to return to the planet it happened to return him to normal.”
“Huh,” was all Elizabeth could manage.
Jeannie frowned, “I know you think I’m crazy, I know how insane this sounds but it’s the truth. Mer is standing right next to you looking about as happy as I feel right now. All I ask is that you help us.”
Elizabeth glanced at John, finding him staring back with a completely blank expression on his face.
“Landry ordered her here,” Ronon spoke up, “I say we try.”
Jeannie gave Ronon a grateful smile, turning back to Elizabeth, “I have a few ideas, so does Mer but we need Radek’s help.”
Elizabeth nodded stunned, “Of course. Ronon, if you would take her to see Dr Zelenka.”
Ronon motioned Jeannie out and she gave them a quick nod before heading out of the office leaving Elizabeth and John standing.
Elizabeth looked at her friend, “You don’t believe her.”
“Rodney’s dead,” John snapped, “I saw him die. She’s clutching at straws.”
Elizabeth shrugged, “She can see him.”
“I don’t know what that is but Rodney’s gone,” John replied, “We all have to accept that.”
With that said, he turned and marched away.
Radek stared at the toy Jeannie held loosely in her hand as he listened to her explanation. Rodney paced around the edge of the lab, annoyed he couldn’t communicate with anyone but Jeannie.
“This is…” Radek trailed off, “Unusual?”
“Oh well done, Radek,” Rodney’s scathing remark came from the window, “I’m so glad you’re here to try and save my life.”
Jeannie turned and frowned at her brother before turning to the scientist across from her, “I think something must have happened when Mer activated the device, I need to see the lab where this happened.”
“I do not know if that is a good idea,” Radek told her, “The planet is friendly but the lab was in a very dangerous part of the planet.”
“Radek,” Jeannie replied, “I’m going and short of drugging me, there’s no way to stop me.”
Rodney smiled at Radek’s shocked face.
“Take it easy on him,” Rodney said to his sister, as he jumped up onto the bench, “He doesn’t have our brains.”
Jeannie coughed to cover her laugh, biting her lip as Radek looked at her concerned.
“I am sure that you going to the planet is what you believe will help,” Radek said carefully, “However, persuading Colonel Sheppard to take you there will be another matter.”
“I can handle him,” Jeannie told him, “I have Mer to help.”
“Of course,” Radek nodded, “However, firstly I believe I should do some tests on…”
“Rolf,” Jeannie finished for him, smiling at the look on the scientist’s face, “My daughter named him.”
“Despite advice,” Rodney rolled his eyes at her side.
Radek was about to say something else but was called over the radio. As he moved away from her, Jeannie turned to her brother.
“I meant to ask,” she leaned against the wall, “Where did the name Rolf come from?”
“One of those stupid TV programmes you let her watch,” Rodney replied, “I think the dog was called Rolf.”
“What did you do all day?” Jeannie asked, now she was here and waiting for things to get organised she had time to talk to him.
Rodney shrugged, “Wandered around the house. Maddie would leave the TV on for me at night down low. When she was at school I wandered round that.”
Jeannie saw the defeat in his brother’s eyes and tilted her head to catch his eye, “I’m not going to give up until we’ve fixed this. I promise, Mer.”
He nodded, “Look, get Radek to scan that thing, go get something to eat and I’ll go wander.”
“Are you sure?” Jeannie didn’t want to leave him alone and unseen.
Rodney shrugged, “I can spy on what my teams are doing.”
Rodney wandered through the halls of Atlantis; he always made sure that nobody walked through him. It creeped him out more than he could say.
It felt good to be back in Atlantis; he knew they would find a way to get him back to normal.
John appeared through the door to the mess, Rodney watched his friend march through the corridors and noted how everyone jumped out of the way. Rodney debated for a few moments before he followed the other man. Why not use his ability to be invisible?
He was shocked that John walked past his room and ended up in Rodney’s.
“You know,” Rodney said, watching as John wandered around the room, “I don’t like you touching my stuff.”
He sighed as he was ignored, even though he was pretty used to it over the past few weeks. John continued to wander through the room, he didn’t touch anything but he continued to stare at the pictures, the certificates and small figurine that Teyla had given him for his birthday.
“So, are you here?” John asked to the room, “Is your sister really seeing you or is she nuts? Come on, Rodney. Give me something.”
“Oh yes,” Rodney snapped sarcastically, “I’m out of phase, invisible and people walk through me but I’ll be able to send you a message.”
John dropped to sit on the bed, “Maybe I don’t want to believe it.”
“What?” Rodney demanded, “I thought you didn’t hate me? Anymore.”
“Because if you’re still alive,” John continued, “I don’t want to get you dead again.”
Rodney shook his head, “You’re an idiot, Colonel.”
John let out a disgusted sigh and left the room. Rodney stood in the centre of his quarters; he looked around at how bare it was. He thought back to Jeannie’s house and the way it reflected that people lived there.
If he got out of this, he was spending some time on Earth and buying Madison a crate load of toys.
Jeannie looked around the lab, Rolf held loosely in her hands. She wanted to yell his name but decided that wasn't a good idea.
Instead she watched Radek as he typed away. She nervously bounced Rolf off her leg, sighing in relief as Rodney appeared through the wall.
“Okay,” he said when he saw her, “I could get used to this.”
Jeannie frowned at him, “What have you been doing, Mer.”
Rodney grinned as Radek’s head came round for a second. Once he realised Jeannie was talking to her brother, he went back to work.
“Well?” Jeannie demanded.
Rodney laughed, “Well, the next time Cadman tries to annoy me, I have the perfect comeback.”
“I have something,” Radek interrupted them, “Jeannie, look at this.”
The siblings moved over together, and looked at the energy readouts on Radek’s laptop.
“That’s coming from Rolf,” Jeannie gasped, “Is that why I can see Mer?”
“No,” Radek and Rodney said in unison.
“I believe it is what is holding Rodney out of phase,” Radek continued on alone, “Here, look at it properly.”
Jeannie took the seat Radek vacated and read over everything, “Hmm,” she moved back from the screen, “If we can get the device he used to reverse this field, we should be able to get him back.”
Rodney smiled at her proudly, “This is what you should be doing.”
Jeannie shot him an annoyed look before returning her attention to Radek, “Let’s talk to Dr Weir.”
“If you ask me one more time if I’m sure,” Jeannie threatened John, stopping as Teyla rested a hand on her arm.
“Mrs Miller,” Elizabeth stepped into the danger zone, “Jeannie, we have to be cautious. If we do this wrong then Rodney could be destroyed forever.”
Jeannie jerked her thumb to her side, “We know this. Mer also knows what he did originally and can talk me through it.”
“John,” Elizabeth turned to him.
The man in question let out a sigh, before he nodded, “It’s getting far too quiet around here without him.”
“You leave first thing tomorrow morning,” Elizabeth told them.
“Tomorrow?” Jeannie demanded.
“It’s too late at night on the planet,” Ronon explained from his slouch in the corner, “It’ll be easier to get to the lab in daylight.”
“Jeannie,” Rodney said to her softly, “Trust them.”
With a glance at her brother, Jeannie nodded to Elizabeth, “All right, morning.” She turned and left the briefing room.
“Radek?” Elizabeth asked once the other woman was gone.
“He is there,” Radek told her, “There is a strong energy signature and I did some readings of the room,” he tapped the keyboard once bringing up the scan that clearly showed the slight outline of a third figure in the lab with Jeannie and Radek.
“Rodney,” John grinned relieved, “He is alive.”
Elizabeth smiled as well, “Then everyone get some rest. I want him back as soon as possible.”
“Caleb wasn’t happy,” Jeannie spoke up suddenly, turning to look at the woman sitting on the balcony beside her, “That I was coming back here. He couldn’t see Mer, so it couldn’t be real. I don’t think we’ve ever fought like that in all the years we’ve been together. Mer had to distract Maddie while we argued.”
Teyla handed Jeannie the tea she’d brought, “The things that happen here are unusual and when it affects those who do not understand, it can be difficult for them to accept.”
“He knows about Atlantis,” Jeannie said.
“Knowing does not mean understanding,” Teyla reminded her, “When I first arrived in the city, one of the children accidentally released a creature that fed on the energy from the generators and would keep doing so until we were all that was left for it to feed on.”
As Teyla sipped her own tea, Jeannie turned slightly, getting comfortable for the story.
“Where is Rodney?” Teyla asked, nodding to where Rolf sat on Jeannie’s wrist.
Jeannie shrugged, “He’s away wandering again. Something about looking for blackmail material.”
Teyla laughed, “Good. I do not want him to hear me saying something that may give him an even bigger head.”
“One thing Mer does not lack,” Jeannie laughed, “Is ego. So, what happened?”
Teyla smiled at her, “We lured it to the Stargate in the hope that it would go through but our plan did not appear to be working. Rodney, using the same personal shield that Rod had, walked into the cloud and threw the generator through the Stargate. The creature followed and we were safe.”
“Wow,” Jeannie murmured, “That’s pretty incredible.”
“And I was terrified,” Teyla said, “This place to me, this place to all my people is a legend. This city is the home of our ancestors, those we looked on as our guides.”
Jeannie stared out across the ocean, “I just wish he could see this place, I wish he could understand why I had to come here.”
“What about your daughter?” Teyla asked, “How does she feel about you leaving again?”
Jeannie smiled, “She wants her Uncle Rodney to be able to come home so she can hug him,” she laughed, “You know how bad he is with kids, except he was amazing with her. Than again she was the only one who could see him for weeks.”
“You should get some rest,” Teyla said, getting to her feet, “We shall be leaving very early tomorrow.”
“In a bit,” Jeannie took a deep breath, “I want to sit and look at the view for a while.”
“Goodnight,” Teyla nodded to her, disappearing and leaving Jeannie alone on the balcony.
“You need to sleep,” Rodney appeared behind her.
Jeannie jumped and frowned at him, “Meredith, stop walking through walls. It’s annoying.” She suddenly laughed, “I never thought I’d say those words.”
He smiled slightly, and stood beside her, “I love this view. This city is…”
“It’s your home,” Jeannie finished for him.
“That’s not a bad thing, Mer,” Jeannie laughed at him, “Why is it so hard for you to just say you’re happy?”
“Because every time I have,” Rodney whispered, “It’s all gone wrong.”
Jeannie dropped her eyes for a second; she knew what he meant but didn’t want to say the name. She’d seen him just after that particular disaster.
“Go get some rest;” Rodney told her again, “Tomorrow’s going to be hard work.”
“I have a five year old,” Jeannie reminded him with a grin, “Trust me, I can keep up with your friends.”
Rodney rolled his eyes, “Go.”
“What are you going to do while we all sleep?” she asked.
Rodney shrugged, “Wander. Go see what I can find.”
“Spy on people?” Jeannie raised an eyebrow.
He rolled his eyes at her, “I’ll come get you for breakfast.”
“Goodnight,” Jeannie smiled as she left the balcony before calling back over her shoulder, “Meredith.”
“All right,” John said, once they were ready to leave, “Jeannie, stick with Ronon. Do exactly what he says while we’re on the planet.”
“Of course,” Jeannie nodded; she tugged slightly at the collar of the borrowed uniform.
Ronon appeared at her side and gave her a nod. He motioned her into the Jumper where Teyla was already waiting; John followed them in and took his seat.
“Flight, this is Jumper One,” John reported over the radio, “We’re ready to activate dialling sequence.”
“Bring him back, John,” Elizabeth replied.
John nodded; he glanced back at Jeannie who motioned to John’s side where Rodney was watching.
“Don’t worry about it, Elizabeth,” John told her, “We’ll fix this.”
With that, he dialled the Gate and took control of the small ship. The moment they burst through the Stargate on the other side, John knew something was wrong.
“What’s going on?” Jeannie demanded, as the members of the team all stared out of the front of the Jumper.
“Wraith,” Rodney breathed from beside her.
“Wraith?” Jeannie repeated, panic in her voice.
“They’ve been here recently,” Ronon said, “And it doesn’t look as though anyone survived.”
“Oh, I feel sick,” Jeannie whispered, leaning heavily against the co-pilot’s seat.
“Hold on,” John murmured to himself, “Pastor Helvar told me they had a way to avoid culls. I hope they managed it this time.”
“John,” Teyla spoke up, “We must get to the laboratory as fast as possible.”
“No argument here,” John muttered, “Hold on and get ready to move.”
Jeannie felt a chill slide along her spine the moment the back hatch of the Jumper opened. She could smell burning, and resisted the urge to grab Ronon’s arm.
“Come on,” Ronon touched her shoulder, moving her forward.
Jeannie could see Rodney just ahead of her at John’s side, both scanning the horizon as they moved slowly forward. Glancing backwards, Jeannie saw Teyla moving behind them, slowly and carefully.
“We’re nearly there,” Rodney called back to her.
“Good,” Jeannie breathed. She gripped Rolf tighter, afraid of losing the connection to her brother moments before she was going to save him.
John stopped suddenly and motioned them to move forward, into a cave. Jeannie found Ronon pushing her in front of him and she jogged forward before stopping dead.
“Oh my God,” she gasped, staring at the clean, smooth walls surrounding her.
“Jeannie,” Rodney’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts, “We don’t have time for you to sight-see.”
His sister frowned at him before she looked around properly, “All right, Mer. What do I do?”
Jeannie listened as Rodney explained the machine in front of her, she frowned at him and he stopped talking.
“What?” he demanded.
“When you are solid again,” Jeannie told him, “I’m going to strangle you.”
Rodney looked at her completely confused, “Why?”
“Because that has to be the dumbest thing you possibly could have done,” she snapped at him, aware the others were watching her fight with thin air but didn’t care, “I can see at least three other things you could have done to get everyone out.”
“I didn’t have the time,” he replied quietly, “And I had one chance. It was the only logical thing to do at the time.”
Jeannie rolled her eyes, “You do know this makes this even harder. Don’t you?”
Rodney shrugged, “Sorry.”
Jeannie shook her head and looked back at the device in front of her, “All right, we need you to be back where you were when this happened.” She looked up at the other three and frowned, “I mean you.”
“We thought…” John started, trailing off at the familiar glare. He quickly obeyed as did Ronon.
“I was not here,” Teyla reminded her.
“Then stand just at the entrance to the cave,” Jeannie ordered, “All right, Mer you were here, where I’m standing,” he nodded, “Where was Rolf?”
“Next to John,” Rodney told her,
“Okay,” Jeannie tapped Rolf off her leg, “That’s us. Everyone stay precisely where I’ve put you and don’t move until I say.”
“She is his sister,” Ronon noted to John, who smothered a grin at Jeannie’s raised eyebrow.
“If you’re quite finished,” Jeannie said, she turned to her brother, “Ready?”
Rodney nodded, fear in his eyes, “You’ll have to hit the button from the ground, otherwise…”
“Good point,” Jeannie replied, Rodney watched as his sister placed the deformed rabbit beside his friend, she returned and crouched down, “Three, two, one.”
Bright light filled the room when she hit the button.
John shook his head to clear his vision, “Where is he?”
Jeannie looked up to where her brother should have been standing, “Dammit,” she snapped, crawling over to the toy and grabbing it.
“I think something went wrong,” Rodney noted blandly.
“You were the one who set it up,” Jeannie reminded him, she rubbed her neck in frustration.
“Jeannie?” John asked, only to be silenced by her raised hand.
“What did you miss out?” she demanded of her brother.
Rodney grimaced, “Nothing, I’m sure of it.”
“There has to be something,” Jeannie gestured, Rolf being tossed from side to side, “Something you missed.”
His eyes followed the deformed rabbit and a grin spread over his face, “Rolf.”
“Meaning what, Mer?” Jeannie demanded.
“Jeannie?” John tried again.
“Shut up,” the siblings snapped.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Jeannie turned back to her brother.
Rodney grinned, “The jewel. The jewel on his collar, it must have reflected the beam off it and that’s why it hit me.”
“So, if I fix it so the jewel reflects the light,” Jeannie mused, “That doesn’t make any…of course. It’s not the fact it was reflected, it has to be something within the jewel that did this to you.”
The siblings both frowned, Jeannie looked closely at the jewel and continued to theorise.
“John,” Teyla’s voice cut through the silence, “The Wraith are coming.”
“Dammit,” John snapped, he turned to Jeannie, “We only have time for one more try at this.”
“John, we don’t know if this will work or not,” Jeannie replied sharply.
“And if the Wraith find us, we won’t get another chance,” he shot back.
“Jeannie,” Rodney called, “Set it up now.”
John watched anxiously as Jeannie set the rabbit thing beside him, fixing it until the pink jewel in the collar was facing a particular way. The sister of his best friend crouched just below the control panel of the device, stretching her hand up once more and hitting a button. The light came again, only this time it hit off Rolf’s collar and ricocheted off a mirror hidden in the corner of the lab before returning to a spot just to one side of Jeannie.
He stared in amazement and relief as a figure came into view. “Rodney,” he breathed, as his friend appeared before him.
Rodney stared at John for a second, “You can see me?” he said before he started to crumble.
John scrambled to his feet to catch his friend, Jeannie managed to get there at the same time and they caught Rodney before he hit the ground. John pulled out the injection Carson had given him before they left and injected the contents into Rodney’s arm.
“John,” Teyla called, “We must go, now.”
“Teyla,” John ordered, “Help Jeannie get Rodney to the Jumper. Ronon, take point.”
Jeannie could see the opening to the Jumper as they left the cave, her brother’s weight on her. She could hear noises behind them, strange noises that she didn’t want to think about as she ran for safety.
“C’mon,” John yelled from behind her, “Almost there.”
Jeannie gave a cry as her foot was caught in a hole, she fell twisting her ankle and almost bringing Rodney down with her.
“Sheppard,” Ronon yelled from his position at the hatch.
John spun and yelled Teyla to continue on, he grabbed Jeannie and she found herself being carried by the Colonel. She could see the Jumper just before them, Ronon and Teyla firing from the hatch at the things coming after them. Jeannie gave a cry of shock as John flung her to Ronon, the big man catching her easily. Teyla continued to fire as John headed to the pilot’s seat, Ronon set Jeannie down gently, moving to help Teyla until the hatch closed completely.
The moment they were in the air, Jeannie turned to her brother and silently hugged him. She heard his deep sigh of relief as his arms tightened around her.
“Thank you,” she heard his whisper, Thank you, Jeannie.”
Jeannie grinned, “No problem, Mer.”
“How are the patients?” Elizabeth asked as she walked into the infirmary.
Carson smiled, “Patient number one is fast asleep, he was dehydrated so I’ve got him on an IV but he’ll be fine.”
“That’s good,” Elizabeth sighed, “And Number two?”
“I’m fine,” Jeannie interrupted, “I’ve twisted this ankle dozens of time.”
“I’ll be releasing her soon,” Carson continued, ignoring Jeannie purposely, “As long as she uses the crutches for the next few days.”
“You can talk to me,” Jeannie snapped at him.
Carson smiled, “I believe, I have been doing that for the last ten minutes and you’ve been ignoring me.”
“Because I know everything you said,” she laughed, “I’m an adult, Carson. And I take care of myself all the time, not to mention a five year old.”
“Considering who I usually have to fight with,” Carson nodded over to the unconscious lump on the next bed over.
“I’m trying to sleep,” the murmur made them smile.
Before either of them could reply, the man in question was fast asleep again.
Rodney groaned as consciousness invaded the comforting black he was in. He managed to open his eyes to find Carson standing above him, smiling.
“How’re ye feeling, Rodney?” the doctor asked.
“You can see me?” Rodney whispered in relief.
“Aye, Rodney,” Carson answered with the tone of someone who’d answered the same question several times already, “I can see you. We all can.”
“Good,” Rodney sighed, he blinked several times as his fuzzy thinking cleared slightly, “Jeannie?”
“She’s resting her sore ankle in her room,” Carson assured him, “If you think you can stay awake this time, I’ll call her down.”
Carson quickly called Jeannie, alerting her of Rodney’s conscious state before he helped his friend sit up properly.
“I’m going to get you something to drink and eat,” Carson told him, “Just take it very slowly.”
Rodney watched Carson leave, not sure how long it actually was but to him it was only seconds later when Jeannie hobbled into the infirmary.
“Mer,” Jeannie cried in relief, hugging him tightly before she dropped into a nearby seat, “Awake at last.”
Rodney frowned, “How long was I asleep?”
“Almost two days,” Jeannie replied, “I was getting worried but Carson assured us that you just needed the rest.”
Rodney tried to fight the yawn that hit him, he failed and after he yawned he turned to his sister slightly sheepish, “Thanks, for helping me.”
Jeannie laughed, “Well, considering it was this or we let you continue to make my daughter misbehave at school.”
“What happened to Rolf?” Rodney demanded at the reminder of Madison.
“We left him,” Jeannie replied, “I didn’t get a chance to grab him while we were getting out.”
Rodney rolled his eyes, “Great. Now I have to get her a new toy.”
“You need to get her a huge present,” Jeannie told him, she took a deep breath, “And you need to give her it yourself.”
Rodney looked at her confused.
“I want you to come home with me for a while,” she explained, “So you can recover and spend some time with your family.”
“You really want me there?” Rodney asked, wary but hopeful.
“Of course I do, Mer,” Jeannie reached out and squeezed his hand, “I mean it.”
Rodney suddenly smiled at her, “That’ll be good.”
“Here,” John pulled out a seat for Jeannie, helping her and taking the crutches once she’s comfortable, “How is he?”
“Sleeping,” she replied, smiling her thanks at Ronon who handed her some coffee, “Carson says he’ll probably sleep for the next few days and he’ll be tired for a good while but he’s going to be fine.”
“It’ll be good to have things back to normal,” John grinned at them, “Peace and quiet gone again.”
Jeannie took a deep drink, “He’s coming home with me.”
“What?” Teyla asked, confused.
“For a while,” she explained, “I want him home, he wants to come back for a while, spend time with Maddie and recover.”
The three members of Rodney’s team all frowned and looked at anything but each other and the woman sitting with them.
“It won’t be for long,” she promised them, “Do you really think my brother will be able to stay away from this place for long? Come on, this is his home, you’re his family.”
John nodded, “All right, just remember to feed him every few hours or he gets cranky.”
“Oh you have no idea,” Jeannie laughed, “Remember who you’re talking to here, Colonel.”
“I bet I can beat any story you come up with,” John challenged.
Jeannie leaned forward, a sly grin on her face, “You’re on.”
Caleb sat playing with his daughter, wondering when Jeannie would get back. Madison asked him every day when Mommy and Uncle Rodney would be coming home, and the only answer he had was soon.
Frustrated with the whole situation, Caleb jumped as he heard the thud of the car door outside. He moved to the window and smiled, seeing his wife and brother appeared from the dark blue car.
“Maddie,” Caleb called, “I think Mommy’s at the door.”
The little girl’s head shot up just as the door opened, within seconds she was scrambling out of the lounge and launching herself into the arms of her mother. Jeannie laughed, hugging her little girl tightly.
“Hi, baby,” she gently kissed Madison’s head.
“I missed you, Mommy,” Madison told her.
Jeannie smiled, “I missed you too. And look who else missed you.”
Madison turned to look behind and grinned, “Uncle Rodney,” she squirmed out of her mother’s arms and ran to her uncle.
Jeannie laughed as Rodney was attacked by the little girl; she turned to her husband and embraced him tightly, “Missed you too,” she murmured in Caleb’s ear.
Rodney watched Jeannie’s reunion with her daughter, shocked at the excited squeal from Madison when she saw him. Suddenly the little girl was charging at him and instinct meant he scooped her up so she didn’t ram him.
“I missed you,” Madison told him, she hugged him.
Rodney was astonished by the girl’s admission but he smiled, “I missed you too.”
“Where’s Rolf?” the girl asked.
“I’m sorry, Madison,” Rodney told her, “But I…he…we…”
“Rolf had to stay so Uncle Rodney could come home,” Jeannie explained for him, she smiled up at Caleb, “I thought you would want him home more than Rolf.”
“I do,” Madison hugged Rodney, who was staring at them both in complete bemusement.
“All right,” Jeannie told them, “Maddie, honey you take your Uncle Rodney to the guest room.”
“‘Kay,” Madison squirmed again so Rodney would put her down. She grabbed his hand, pulling him along.
“Honey?” Caleb asked.
“He’s staying for a few days,” Jeannie told him, “No arguments; I promise it won’t be long.”
Rodney sat smiling as Jeannie dropped to sit at his side. It’d been a week since they’d arrived back and Rodney had spent a lot of it sleeping, as well as a great deal of time with Madison. He was teaching her everything he could, as well as showering her with gifts. Caleb at one point pointed out he was trying to buy her love, Rodney simply replied that he owed the kid at least four years backlog of birthday and Christmas presents. Jeannie knew however her brother just wanted to spend time with the one kid he actually adored.
“How’re you feeling, Mer?” she asked, leaning back against the couch.
Rodney shrugged, “Not as tired.”
“Carson said it’d probably take a while before you don’t tire easily,” Jeannie reminded him.
He shrugged. He opened his mouth to say something before closing it again, not sure how to.
“Meredith,” Jeannie said warningly, “What?”
“Should I go back?” he asked softly.
“To Atlantis,” he clarified, “I’ve been gone for so long, they don’t need me.”
Jeannie smacked his arm, “Don’t be stupid.”
Wide blue, hopeful eyes stared at her.
“I spent some time with your team while you were still snoozing,” Jeannie told him, “They were all so happy to have you back. And when I told them I was taking you home for a while…I thought I’d be tied up and tossed onto the Daedalus so I couldn’t.” She laughed at his surprised but ecstatic look, “You idiot.”
“Me, Caleb and Maddie,” Jeannie reminded him, “We’re your family and we’ll be here for you always but you belong on Atlantis.”
He smiled at her, “I called the SGC today. The Daedalus is leaving in three days.”
“All right,” Jeannie hooked her arm through his, “Then I expect you to keep in proper contact with us and I don’t want John appearing at my door again.”
“I’ll try,” Rodney promised.
“Good boy,” she smiled.