Once Upon a (Prescription) Mattress
~ or ~
How Prince Rodney, who was surrounded by pea-brains (seriously, I don’t think there’s enough room in all the infinite possible universes for you people to be any more wrong if you tried with both hands for a week) found his (pretty, pretty, psycho-killer) princess (maybe)
~ * ~
Once there was, in the far, far kingdom of Atlantis, which gently rocked (except for how the inertial dampers didn’t let it) on the tides of a distant sea, a woebegone ruler named Rodney (actually, His Royal Highness Prince Meredith Rodney McKay, Despot Despot, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to point it out).
It was not a mystery surpassing the understanding of even his least and most incompetent minions (which is to say pretty much all of them, with the possible exception of that little fellow, with the hair, what’s his name, he’s not completely useless, go ask him, I’m busy, groundbreaking science happening here, I don’t have time for this, are you damaged?) that Prince Rodney was not a happy man.
It was, in fact, the considered opinion of the collected populace of Atlantis (and they had to pass a fairly strenuous entrance exam to be considered for the privilege of Prince Rodney’s disregard, so they were at least in aggregate on the multi-cellular end of the neuro-challenged spectrum, not that he’d ever tell them so) that Prince Rodney really, really needed to find himself a princess (although there was a significant minority who felt they needed to dwell even in their hopes and dreams within the realm of realistic probability and had their fingers crossed for a compatible website or a reasonably friendly watermelon).
Secretly, Prince Rodney might have sort of agreed with all of them.
~ * ~
Prince Rodney spent his long-ago not-so-comfortable childhood in the bucolic land of Vancouver (the foliage in his adopted lands of Pegasus still gave him an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu). He wasn’t a prince yet, or at least if he was, no-one realized it but him (and a couple of scarily affectless men from the CIA back in sixth grade, although he suspected them of Jacobin tendencies so it didn’t help, much).
Sadly, pretty much everyone knew he was different, and that didn’t work out too well for him.
For the King and Queen (who were not very nice people or afflicted with a great deal of empathy and probably shouldn’t have had children, if by "probably” you mean they should, in Prince Rodney’s opinion, have had to undergo intense therapy before they were allowed to own a goldfish) he was a metaphorical stick they could use to gleefully beat each other with, if not one they spent a great deal of time polishing when it was not in use.
For pretty much everyone else, Prince Rodney was different in just the kind of way that inspired a certain type of person to think gleefully of pissing on hydrants, and mostly everyone else to avoid him (and the very real, and very scary, possibility that by being his friend, they would attract the attention of the first group).
It didn’t help that he wasn’t (and let me throw a parenthetical clause in here to draw this into sharp relief) a very nice person. Nice wasn’t anything he was ever rewarded for, really, by his parents or by anyone around him, and it wasn’t as if he saw considerate behavior at home or picked it up from the other kids (when you’re raised by wolves, there aren’t a lot of play dates).
So Prince Rodney became his own blunt instrument, and beat the world (and then a bunch of other worlds) into submission with the power of his mighty brain, and if maybe the reason he didn’t show a great deal of kindness himself was he wasn’t all that sure what it looked like, and if he maybe thought it might be nice not to be alone, that was his secret to keep.
Well, his and his sister’s.
~ * ~
Princess Jeannie (who their parents valued largely for the opportunity to prove they could be loving parents to the right child, and who wasn’t such a terribly nice person either, although she dedicated her own only slightly-less-mighty brain to figuring out how to channel it in a socially acceptable way) was on a bit of a mission to bully Prince Rodney into finding a princess.
For someone who had a great deal to say about respecting other people’s life choices, she wasn’t terribly kind or gentle about it (after all, she was raised by wolves too, and had definite hydrant-seeking tendencies of her own), but she did mostly mean well. Princess Jeannie wielded her own marriage, which she was just a little more married to than she was to her husband, like a talisman against personal failure and their parents’ misery, and she genuinely wanted her royal brother to find someone to experience his own nice and normal with.
She just wasn’t particularly particular about who it was, and she didn’t think he should be either.
All of which meant Prince Rodney (whose one fuddling attempt at a grand passion had left him more intimately familiar with pickled fish, russian television and space age thermal fabrics than he ever wanted to be) was searching for a princess with a laundry list of traits to provoke envy and acceptance in others, and no clear idea that there would be a person attached to them.
~ * ~
Trapped in the Botany Lab, Prince Rodney stared at the ceiling with the dazed horror of a man with no computer and no-one to insult in the face of impending death while Princess Katie (Sweet? Check. Breasts? Check. Academic distinction in a suitably lesser field? Check.) chirped cheerfully in the background about having a positive attitude.
I am going to die, he thought to himself, lying on the floor surrounded by soft science, and if I am remembered, it will be as the namesake of a disturbingly penile cactus-thing. Prince Rodney was starting to think there was a flaw in his sister’s reasoning.
~ * ~
In the end, of course, John, the Captain (or Lieutenant Colonel, depending who you ask) of the Guard saved him (with the help of the little fellow with the hair - see? Told you he wasn’t completely useless).
This time, though, John didn’t save him by ruthlessly and efficiently killing a really lot of people (although he’d certainly done that before, and Prince Rodney thoroughly approved, because, hello? Saving his life).
This time, John saved him by paying attention to what he had to say and understanding it (and by some free climbing up the side of a building, and if that had anything to do with escaping the threat of Teyla’s ominous fecundity the world would never know).
All of which made Prince Rodney feel warm and unsettled, in a way that had very little to do with breasts and the lamentations of lesser astrophysicists and trying for a rough approximation of his sister’s life and everything to do with the fact that someone, someone who got his jokes, someone he liked who was not stupid, understood how his mind worked and wanted to spend time with him anyway.
Although the fact that alien princesses and ascended ancients and the city they lived in and (bite it, Jeannie) his sister thought John was hot didn’t hurt a bit.
~ * ~
“So,” Prince Rodney murmured into John’s neck, as soon as he could arrange for a private audience and after a certain amount of time spent not talking. “It has come to my attention that breasts and hairlessness and a general air of non-specific nice do not loom as large in my personal legend as I may have thought, and I’m wondering if you’ve given any thought to a future in princessing?”
John smiled (maybe just a little smugly).
“Sure thing, Rodney. That’s why I climbed the tower. So I could sit atop it and wait for my prince to come.”
Which, Rodney grumbled, was a regressive and sexist view of the role of the modern princess in...
“Relax, your royal crankiness. Next time, I'll be trapped in durance vile and you can rescue me.”
...really don't think you're taking this at all with the kind of seriousness that...
"Save me, Obi Wan. You're my only hope."
"That's Princess Dork to you."
Then they made a variety of interesting noises, and subsequently lived happily, if not more nicely than was strictly necessary, ever after.
~ The End ~