John Sheppard let Rodney McKay ramble as they stood on the New York street, tuning out the familiar noise and instead watching the people pass them by. So many human beings, none touched by the Wraith or Replicators or all the enemies even closer to home.
It didn't seem real.
Rodney stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and carried on. It was the only thing familiar to John. Rodney talked too much and that was normal.
They were waiting for Elizabeth to finish her conversation, secret and delicate and not at all like the other conversations she'd had before leaving Earth for the first time. Now, she talked and negotiated like a very dangerous woman. John couldn't bring himself to be sorry for her lost innocence. It had saved his life, the lives of his men, far too many times.
So Rodney talked, John ignored, and they waited for Elizabeth to return. In the meantime, John watched the street and all of the ignorant people.
Someone was walking towards them. One face in the masses, but she was familiar in an impossible way. John knew he had never see this young woman before, but the tilt of her head, the cleft in her chin, John knew her.
Even more, he knew those brilliant blue eyes.
The young woman caught his gaze, wondered at his attention as she passed him by. She never even looked at Rodney.
As she turned her attention back to the road, a cyclist cut her off and she stepped back suddenly, bumping into a hot dog vendor. John stepped forward and steadied the girl before she toppled into the road.
Her cheeks burning, the girl looked up at John. She murmured an apology and stepped away, blending back into the anonymous mass of the New York street.
She hadn't noticed John as he had yanked the luggage tag from her bag.
Rodney had. His blue eyes narrowed as he glared at John. "You have got to be kidding me," he said. "We're not on a furlough! Besides, she's young enough to be your daughter."
John fingered the luggage tag. "She sure is," he muttered, tracing the loopy script that spelled out Rory Gilmore.
It was two weeks later when John stomped into Rodney's lab, interrupting a boring looking experiment and sending the lab techies scurrying away.
Rodney whirled, wrath on his face at whoever dare intrude into his experiment. He spotted John through the wires, and his irritation fell away into resigned acceptance. "What do you want?" he asked, turning back to his equipment.
John made a motion to the lab techs. "Hey kids, smoke break," he drawled. Within seconds, the lab emptied.
Rodney eyes John with suspicion. "What do you want?" he repeated.
John pasted an insincere smile on his face. "What were you doing in February of 1984?"
"What?" Rodney dropped his wrench. "What does that have to do with anything? I'm in the middle of a very important experiment and you just barge in here and dismiss my help--"
"They weren't doing anything," John pointed out.
"I know that! It's not the point!" Rodney turned his back on John.
"So, February of 1984?" John pressed. Rodney ignored him. "You didn't spend some time in Hartford, Connecticut?"
Rodney's fingers stopped moving on the switchboard.
John had already known the answer, but to judge from Rodney's reaction, he certainly remembered the trip.
"Just checking," John said, pushing off the wall. "Later, McKay." He left the room, leaving a confused Rodney behind.
From his meeting with Jeanie, Rodney's sister, John knew that intelligence certainly ran in the McKay family. He'd checked the girl out, top to bottom, on every database he could get into without raising suspicions. She was smart, although not as brilliant as Rodney, and her talents tended towards the arts rather than science.
And there was the fact that the girl looked so much like Rodney that it was creepy.
Even the name sounded too close. Rory McKay, John sounded out in his head. It had a certain ring to it.
He continued down the hall. He was probably crazy. This was probably nothing but a coincidence.
Although if there was one thing life with the Ancient gene had taught him, there were no such things as coincidences.
No matter how much John tried, he couldn't believe that running into Rory Gilmore on the streets of New York was a coincidence.