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Julianna: The Beginning

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If it had only been himself, John would have toughed it out, but seeing Rodney throwing up in the bathroom brought home the fact that they were both sick. Sicker than they could manage without calling attention to themselves – sick enough that they shouldn't go to work.

"Come on," he put his hand on Rodney's shoulder. "Gotta see the doc."

"Not that bad," Rodney tried to protest. It wasn't terribly convincing considering that Rodney was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, hugging the toilet like it was his best friend.

Which, at the moment, it certainly was. The circles under his eyes from not sleeping completed the effect of making Rodney look as least as bad as he probably felt.

"Yes, it is," John said firmly, swallowing while trying not to throw up himself. "Both of us have some kind of bug and it's gotten worse over the last couple of days." He swallowed carefully. The nausea was pretty bad, and he was tired all the time. He had initially thought that the exhaustion left him open to the bug but with Rodney having the same symptoms and now the nausea, he was worried that it was something serious. Rodney sat on the floor of the bathroom looking green and exhausted.

"Okay," Rodney sighed, giving in with that single word. At which point John realized how bad Rodney had to feel.

John keyed his radio. "Dr. Keller?"

"Yes?" came the brisk response.

"Umm... sorry to be a bother, but can you swing by Dr. McKay's room?" John tried for casual but failed.

"What's wrong?" Keller's quick reply came.

"No one's dying," John tried for reassuring and suspected he failed.

"Speak for yourself," Rodney moaned from the floor. John knew Keller heard it from her "hrmpf" on the radio.

"I think it's a flu-type bug and if it is, we don't want to spread it around," John told her, striving for something approaching reasonableness. Even though they were senior staff, he didn't want to abuse that authority by asking for a house call when others would be requested to go to the infirmary.

"On my way," Keller replied briskly.

John sank down on the bed, grateful to finally give in to his own exhaustion. It wasn't long before Keller let herself into the room. "Both of you?" she asked, incredulous.

John nodded wearily.

"At this point, no one else has reported anything similar, and the city hasn't set up any alerts, so it can't be too contagious," she decided. "I'd like to get you both in the infirmary. I need to figure out what's wrong."

"Whatever," John agreed, too tired to try to fight it and knowing if he went that Rodney would go without too much protest.

Keller called her staff to help move them to the infirmary. John was glad she didn't call any of the Marines – that would have been too embarrassing – and pretty soon John and Rodney found themselves in an isolation room. Assuming they had the same thing for simplicity purposes, she put them in a double room which made it easier for testing and treatment purposes. She took blood efficiently and quickly while asking the usual set of ‘When did you start to feel this way' questions. Laying down and keeping still seemed to help with the nausea – Keller started IV fluids to keep them hydrated. The fact that Rodney didn't whine his way through the entire process was another confirmation for John how bad he really felt. That made John wish he had called Keller sooner.

John started to worry when Keller came back later in the day to do more tests. She took John and Rodney separately through one of the Ancient body scan machines. "What are you looking for?" John asked curiously as she prepped him for the scan.

"If I knew that, I could tell you," Keller replied calmly. "Now lie still so I can get some good images." She took John back to the room and after checking that they were both comfortable she left them alone.

"Hey," John said. "You okay?"

"Better," Rodney admitted. "What's wrong with us?"

"No idea," John replied. "But I'm starting to suspect it's not the flu."

Rodney snorted. "Nothing is ever simple, is it?" he asked, mostly rhetorically, then yawned.

"Sleep," John said. "Should feel better in the morning. Maybe Keller'll figure out what's wrong by then."

Rodney wriggled to get more comfortable then said softly, "Miss my pillow." John could hear the grin in his voice.

"Yeah," John agreed. He missed being Rodney's pillow. Even the last few nights that they hadn't felt well, the contact of sleeping together had been comforting. "Sleep," he repeated.

"Night," Rodney murmured. The three days of illness quickly made itself known as they fell fast asleep.

Morning brought another round of vomiting for both of them. At least this time the medical staff was soothing as they threw up but it was more than faintly embarrassing for both John and Rodney. Since they hadn't eaten much in the last couple of days there wasn't much to bring up anymore and it was mostly dry heaves, but that didn't lessen the upset. They were both exhausted by the time they were done. John lay back panting as he fought another wave of nausea. He could hear that Rodney wasn't in any better shape. Once the worst of the vomiting passed, the staff cleaned them up, hung another IV bag for more fluids and left them to doze.

Keller came in a couple hours later to check on them. "Doc?" John asked desperate for information. "What did you find?"

"Tell me anything that happened to you about... let's see... six weeks ago," Keller directed.

"What?" Rodney protested weakly. He raised his head to try to glare at Keller but the paleness of his face and the exhaustion in his eyes robbed the look of its usual effectiveness.

"Humor me," Keller told them. She looked at the scanner she held in one hand. "Six weeks ago you were..."

John lay back and thought. Six weeks.... "We did that mission to P3D-478. They didn't shoot at us and we got those strawberry-like things from them," John recollected. "We got back from that and Teyla went to the mainland and...." John's voice trailed off.

"And...." Keller prompted.

John looked up at the ceiling of the infirmary and sighed. He could tell from Rodney's stillness that he remembered, too. "Rodney and I went exploring here in the city. Found a room that wouldn't let us in at first. Once it did, seemed benign. There was a moment where something, well, scanned us." It was more than that, but John didn't quite want to go there just as yet. "Nothing else happened and we came back. Went on a mission to M3F-247 about five days later and then, well, really nothing special since then."

"Okay, we need to check that room out," Keller decided. "Where was it?"

Rodney rattled off the location of the room and Keller wrote it down. "Take Zelenka with you, I think," Rodney recommended. "And no gene carriers in the room."

John could feel Keller giving them a hard look. "I have to tell Weir," she warned them.

"Figured as much," John said wearily. He was too tired to really care what Weir thought. He suspected he would care later but not at the moment. It took a while as Keller then her staff fussed over them but they were finally left alone. "Rodney?" John floated.

"What happened to you?" Rodney asked. "I remember something about the city being in my head. It was so fast and then there was a, god this is such a cliché, a white light. Then it was just an empty room."

John had been reluctant to talk about it. Nothing seemed to happen at the time, but now it had come back to bite them in the ass. "It was like the city, but not quite the same feel. Something less, well, robust. Or maybe just a subset – it wasn't as rich as the city usually is. There was a sense of confusion from whatever it was, at first. Then, well the best I can describe it was as if someone had shrugged their shoulders and decided it could work with what was there. It was kinda fast so it wasn't until later that I had a chance to think about what happened. Since it was – or looked like – an empty room didn't give it any thought until now."

"Well, it meant something," Rodney decided. He gave John a look that John knew he'd pay for not telling Rodney more once they got out of the infirmary.

"Why no gene carriers?" John asked curiously, trying to distract Rodney.

"Well, if whatever It was responded to you, then maybe it was the ATA gene," Rodney explained. "Being cautious."

Too late, John thought. The vomiting and nausea caught up with him and he fell asleep between one thought and the next. He vaguely wondered if Keller had slipped them something in the IV, but she didn't seem the type. Carson would have, he knew.... he didn't have time to miss Carson before he fell asleep.

It was late afternoon before Keller came back with both Zelenka and Weir in tow. "I guess we're not contagious," John commented as they came in and settled around the small room.

"Pretty sure not," Keller said agreeably. John could tell she wasn't happy but he couldn't read her mood.

"What did you find?" Rodney asked impatiently.

"The translation took a bit, which is why we weren't here before this," Zelenka reported. "We, Dr. Weir and I, well, we think.."

"Spit it out," Rodney huffed.

"It's a fertility chamber," Zelenka said, obviously reluctant to be the spokesperson.

Keller stepped in, "Turns out you're both pregnant. You're what would be about 6 weeks along."

The silence was deafening.

"Umm. How is that possible?" Rodney asked frantically. "Wrong parts here." John let Rodney rant while he tried to fall into a black hole.

Keller rolled her eyes. "Number one, this is Atlantis. Number two, it's the ATA gene. And number three, it's the two of you. Anything is possible." She sighed.

Weir put in. "We're looking to see what we can figure out. We have more to translate at this point but wanted to talk to you to see if you could tell us anything that might help." She looked hopeful but John resisted telling her anything else at the moment, not that there was much to tell.

"No idea," John told them. He looked at Keller. "Since this isn't contagious, do we have to stay here?"

"For the moment, I think yes. The isolation room gives you some privacy and you're both dehydrated enough that I need to keep an eye on you," Keller said firmly. "I handled most of the last of the tests myself, initially to get used to the equipment, so no one else knows at the moment. If you were female, I'd tell you that another two weeks of this and the worst of it would be over. I have no idea how this will play out."

"We'll deal with that when we get there," Weir told them. "For now, we'll stick with the flu story so you don't have visitors until we get something figured out. We still have work to do on the translation but wanted to let Dr. Keller have an idea of what she's probably dealing with."

Like Keller's dealt with pregnant men before, John thought. He knew it was an unfair thought but the entire thing was unfair as far as he was concerned.

John didn't have to feign exhaustion to chase the visitors out of the room. Zelenka had a few quiet words with Rodney about what was going on in the labs before he left. Then it was just John and Rodney.

"Wow," Rodney breathed.

"Yeah," John replied softly.

"Think I'm going to freak out about this for a while," Rodney decided.

"You go first," John told him. "I'll wait and freak out when you're done." John hated lying there by himself, he wanted desperately to put his arms around Rodney and hold him and.... He started to think.

"Rodney?" John asked carefully a little while later.

There must have been something in his voice that got Rodney's attention. Rodney looked over quickly but said, "Not sure I'm done freaking out yet."

John couldn't look at Rodney, he looked down at the blanket on the bed and idly picked at the lint, said, "Yes." He held his breath.

He knew Rodney got it when he went still. "John?"

John could feel his ears turn red, and he couldn't look up, but he nodded his head at Rodney. At the sounds from the other bed, John had to look up to see Rodney untangling himself from the IV and climbing out of the bed. Rodney took the few steps between the beds and leaned against John's bed. Rodney reached a hand in to take John's and held on.

"I wasn't done freaking out and now you want to say ‘yes' to me?" Rodney demanded. "You have like the world's worst timing you know?"

John took Rodney's hand in both of his and whispered, "Or, well, maybe the best."

"You idiot," Rodney huffed. But John could tell he was pleased. "Why now?" Rodney persisted.

John took a deep breath, he needed to get this right. "It's not like I haven't wanted to... I did. I just didn't know if I was really brave enough to do it. But now," he put a hand on his stomach, "Well, now if we really are...you're right, this is too weird, pregnant, well, I want to make sure no matter what happens that we're a, you know, a family."

When he was done, he looked up to look at Rodney. Oh... That must have been the right thing.... Rodney's eyes were shining and he was grinning. Rodney leaned in and kissed him. John reached his other hand around the back of Rodney's neck to draw him in closer.

At a sound from outside the room, they broke apart. They didn't want to risk each other's position by letting anyone know about their relationship. Keller wasn't military and they had gotten to know her well enough to know she wouldn't really care that he and Rodney were lovers. On the other hand, they had to work with her and they didn't want to put her in a decidedly awkward position. They might have let Carson know about their relationship but they weren't ready to confide in Keller until they had to.

~*~

Keller let them go back to their rooms, well back to Rodney's room, two days later. The vomiting had responded to anti-nausea medication and they were able to keep down soft foods. Luckily for Rodney that included jello. Staying in one room meant they could officially keep an eye on each other. "You're both grounded for the immediate future until I see how your bodies react to this," she told them. When John was going to protest she pointed out, "Yes, I know pregnancy isn't an illness, but give me a break. None of us know what we're dealing with and I'm not going to let you hurt yourselves unknowingly." John had to give in to that reasonable request.

To Rodney, she said, "You're going to work anyways, but in your room for the next couple of days. And, yes, Dr. Zelenka can share what he's found about your mystery room with you." Since he could do almost anything from his room, Rodney was satisfied with that.

"Unless you're ready to announce yourselves to everyone?" Keller asked. Seeing John shake his head negatively, she continued, "We'll stick with the flu story for the moment. You're better enough to get out of here, but still sick."

~*~

Just before dinner on their second day out of the infirmary, Zelenka came to visit them. He stood in the doorway of their room and shifted uncomfortably.

"Stop dancing around there and sit," Rodney directed, pointing to a chair. Zelenka sat in the chair Rodney pointed to.

"What?" Rodney demanded.

John put a hand on Rodney's shoulder to calm him and asked more reasonably, "What is it?"

Zelenka blushed. "I've been sent... well, we've, Elizabeth and I, we've done some of the translating from the room. I've been sent so that Elizabeth, well, what she does not really know...." His voice trailed off.

"What she doesn't know, she doesn't have to answer questions about," John finished for him.

Zelenka threw him a grateful look and steadied. "Well, it turns out that, the chamber, is a fertility chamber, that we are now sure. You could not easily open the chamber because it is keyed to female DNA. But your ATA gene," he nodded to John at that, "over-rode that setting. Once you were in the room, it did what it was programmed to do."

John explained, "It scanned us and I felt the confusion. It wasn't like the city... like I've felt in the chair. It wasn't as fully developed as the city but it tried to do its job."

Zelenka turned even redder, if that were possible. "The text... the text in the room indicates that to function that those in the room must have a.. DNA donation from a second person," he explained delicately.

Oh. Oh. No wonder Weir didn't want to be here for this. This outed them completely to anyone that knew how the room worked. John had had time to remember the night before. With the downtime and not needing to be on duty, they had indulged in a long night together. He tried to control himself as he remembered how Rodney had fucked him through the mattress the night before. He had returned the favor to Rodney with a slow morning fuck in the shower. They had debated briefly about just going back to bed and sleeping but John had wheedled Rodney into going exploring. John struggled not to turn completely red but wasn't sure he succeeded.

"Now what?" Rodney asked, a lot more blasé than John would have given him credit for.

Zelenka shrugged. "There is still more to translate, but I think we learn nothing really new." He grinned at John and Rodney, "And you have babies."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Thanks a lot," he said, but he returned the grin. He sobered, "Who needs to know the details? John can't get in trouble over this."

"Not many need to know, some will figure out. Most who know Ancient are busy on own projects," Zelenka replied philosophically. "Most will be happy for you and not care. The few that do care, they are not important."

"Thank you," John told him. For being a friend...

After Zelenka left, John held his arms out to Rodney, "Come here." Rodney sat on the bed next to John and let himself be folded into the warm embrace. "You have your own position to worry about, too," John told him.

"Nah," Rodney disagreed. "Well only to the extent that some bigot would give us a hard time. But most of the science staff are relatively liberal. It's you I'm worried about-- and your damned Marines."

John laughed softly. "Then don't tell them that I already know that a couple of the first wave Marines have as good as moved in with some of your scientists. I pretend to not notice and they don't talk about it. Living in Atlantis tends to change your view of what's important."

"Well, your military isn't going to be too happy to learn of this," Rodney protested. He sat up, "What if they make us go back to Earth?"

"I don't think Weir or Keller will let that happen. Since it was Ancient technology that caused this, our argument is that we need to be here in case there is a way to deal with it," John pointed out reasonably. He had to believe that because if they went back to Earth, they would be even more of a freak show than they would be here. John drew Rodney back down so they were both lying together. "Keller'll be by after dinner. We can nap until then." Lying there, holding Rodney, that's what John needed at the moment.

Rodney gave in when he realized John wasn't going to let him go. He wrapped an arm around John's waist and put his head on John's shoulder. "You're giving me bad habits, you know," Rodney complained but ruined it by yawning.

They woke when the door chime rang. John called, "Come in." John helped Rodney sit up to make it not quite so obvious they had been... well... cuddling.

Keller came into the room as Rodney was yawning himself awake and said, "Sleeping is good. You both need to sleep more than I know you usually do." She sat in the chair Zelenka had used earlier. "How are you feeling?"

"Pretty good now that the nausea has cleared up," John answered. "Tired still, but haven't been doing anything and might feel better once I get back into some routine."

Rodney shrugged. "Mostly okay, I guess," he reported. "I'd like to get back to the lab soon, though. Zelenka's good but there are some things only I can do."

John had to give Keller credit when she attacked the larger issue, "I made Zelenka explain to me about the requirements of the machine. He didn't want to do that, he was trying to protect both of you. Your relationship falls into medical confidentiality at the moment and it's up to you who you feel you need to share that with. The official story will continue to be an Ancient lab that you both happen to be in at the same time."

"Thank you," Rodney told her. That was more than they had any right to expect and he was grateful for her understanding.

"I'm letting you both back on limited duty," Keller decided. "No off world missions except in an emergency for another week and I'll evaluate that again at the end of the week. If it weren't you two," she held up her hand to forestall the protest that Rodney was forming, "no offense, but you two are trouble magnets. If it weren't you two, I'd let you go on routine missions but there never seem to be routine missions. Think about what you'd like to do and we can talk about it."

John sighed. He had been afraid Keller would ground them completely and, while there was enough to do on Atlantis, he knew it would be hard on Teyla and harder on Ronon. Teyla would be happy to have some extended time with the Athosians but he'd have to see what Ronon might be willing to do.

Chapter Text

Since there weren't any obvious physical changes as yet, John and Rodney went back to work at the end of that week. Keller still wouldn't let them go off-world unless there was an emergency, but there were any number of things to do in Atlantis that they never had time for before. Rodney worked in the labs, John worked with the military personnel and they explored the city.

John never wanted to have to explain themselves to Teyla ever again. Same-sex relationships among the Athosians evidently were mostly unknown since they didn't result in children after all, so it took some fairly detailed stammering explanations before she understood John and Rodney's relationship. The fact that they were going to have children was the one thing she did understand and was inordinately pleased about that.

Ronon rolled his eyes at them, mostly disappointed that they wouldn't be going off of Atlantis for while. John offered to set him up with another team but was glad when Ronon turned him down. "After all the running, guess I'm due to stay in one spot for a while," Ronon decided.

~*~

It was Zelenka who finally helped them break the news to the rest of the residents of Atlantis. After watching John and Rodney flail ineptly with one bad idea after another, he said in disgust, "I'll take care of it." A series of comments in the right places about ‘latest stupidity of Dr. McKay who dragged the Colonel into Ancient lab' had the effect of generating sympathy for John, some teasing for Rodney and a general level of acceptance they never would have achieved on their own. Rodney didn't mind taking some heat since it distracted anyone from thinking John and Rodney might really be in a relationship.

It had the added benefit of letting them move in together "for Keller's sake" ostensibly to allow her to keep an eye on them. There was some eye-rolling from John as they moved in, "I gotta move in with McKay?" when he really wanted to kiss Rodney senseless and murmur, "I get to move in with Rodney!" Keller had them on a close watch, requiring them to check in every other day as she monitored the development of their babies.

One evening as they watched Dr. Who on Rodney's laptop, John took the opportunity between episodes to ask, "Rodney?"

"Yeah?" Rodney answered somewhat distractedly.

"About that question...." John floated. That got Rodney's full attention. John took Rodney's hand and continued, "I... I really would like to do something. I just don't know what."

Rodney closed up the laptop and set it aside. "Well, unless your government is going to come to its senses, which I don't see happening any time soon, I'm not quite sure what we can do." He sighed in frustration.

John took a mental deep breath and said softly, "I'd go to Canada with you." A pause. "If you want."

Rodney reached over and put his free hand on the back of John's neck. "Look at me," he commanded. John raised his eyes and put all the honesty and love he could in the look he gave back to Rodney. He wasn't sure what Rodney saw there but relaxed when Rodney leaned in for a brief kiss. "You would, wouldn't you?" Rodney sighed. "No, not going to let you do that," Rodney huffed. "You love this city and until there's a good reason to give it up, you're not going to leave," Rodney moved his hand from the back of John's neck to place a finger on John's lips. "Don't even say it. I appreciate what you're offering but I'm hoping we don't have to leave here to be together."

Rodney tilted his head in thought and then snapped his fingers. "Paperwork! I put you on my paperwork as health care proxy and for anything else that needs a second name, and you do the same for me. Elizabeth will notice but if we time it so that we do this in two different data bursts to Earth, then no one else should see anything unusual."

John kissed him. "Good idea. If we do the health care things first, then we can do the benefits later. So we should time it over at least four data bursts.... I want to make sure that if anything happens..." it was John's turn to put a finger on Rodney's lips to still the automatic protest, "yes, we have to think that way... but I want to make sure we can speak for each other."

Time flew. Elizabeth made no comment on the small flurry of paperwork, but Keller confirmed that the proxies had been completed for them. John supervised the gate teams but Lorne officially took on a lot of the day-to-day running of the military operations on Atlantis that he had been doing anyway.

It was Cadman who let the other shoe drop one movie night. She was laughing with Ronon and Teyla in the corner and John heard her say, "Boy, you scared the crap out of those two. They won't be giving the Colonel any shit." When she saw John across the room, she blushed and became quiet. She snuck out at the end of the movie before John could stop her. He also didn't want to say anything in front of Rodney to cause him to worry.

John took advantage of Lorne's organization to see where he could catch up with Cadman the next day.

"Lieutenant," he greeted her.

"Colonel," she answered warily.

"Off the record. Is there something you'd like to tell me?" John asked.

"Didn't want to bother you with it," Cadman told him with an only slightly guilty air. "Already taken care of."

He decided to play dirty. "Laura, please," he asked again gently. "If it involves McKay, I think I ought to know." He knew he had won when she sighed.

"Okay. A couple of the newbies, Peterson and Lockwood," she looked at him and he nodded that he knew who she was talking about, "were, umm, speculating just how it was that you and Dr. McKay, being such good friends and all, happen to have both gotten pregnant." She blushed slightly. "It wasn't very complimentary and most of the rest of the guys ignored them. When no one else said anything, they thought they had an audience and didn't realize they were being ignored, so they stepped it up. Bad news for them was Ronon came in to start his training session just then and allowed them to, umm, volunteer to help him demonstrate." She grinned at the memory of that. "Word also got back to the Major and they've been put on sewage detail, ‘to learn the ropes' as he put it, for like the foreseeable future."

John grinned, knowing how Ronon's training sessions could go. "Anyone else?" he had to ask.

"Nah," she smiled. "This is Atlantis where the impossible regularly happens before breakfast. Everyone else is pretty copacetic about the entire thing. Most think it's cute." She put her hand over her mouth. "Oh, god, I wasn't going to say that ever."

"If anyone had ever said McKay was cute before this, I'd have sent them to Kate to deal with the psychosis," John agreed with her. "And I'll deny it if you repeat it, but McKay is cute."

She giggled at him and agreed, "Not a word."

"Seriously," John added, "thanks for keeping an eye out for trouble." He hesitated. "I... We appreciate it."

"It's nothing," she replied. "But I get to be Aunt Laura."

"Deal," he agreed.

~*~*~*~*~

They settled into a routine of exploring the city, the occasional mission as backup to other teams and doing the endless paperwork Elizabeth threw at them. Elizabeth ruthlessly took advantage of their availability to make them complete personnel evaluations, mission reports and write papers both SGC and IOC wanted. Rodney took lead on most of the papers, something he was used to in his area and dragged John into helping him with some of the math. He also made John read the documents the IOC wanted figuring, "If you understand it, it's reasonable enough. I can't help it if they're too stupid to understand what I write."

At first John had to work hard on the math since he hadn't done anything anywhere near that level for a long time. Some of it came back easily but trying to keep up with both Rodney and Zelenka made him sweat.

Then came the day he said to Rodney, "This isn't right," pointing to a formula in the middle of a paper that would be going back to Sam Carter at the SGC.

"Then fix it," Rodney threw back over his shoulder, so immersed in his own project that he was not really paying attention to what John was talking about.

"Huh," John replied, not expecting that response. "Okay." He wandered off and worked his way through not only the incorrect formula but made the corrections in the rest of the document. He worked on and off for several days and when he thought it was done, sent it off to Rodney.

They went off on a mission to P9R-947 which was theoretically uninhabited but the MALP showed some interesting energy readings. Rodney had played the ‘pregnant man here!' card to let them take a Puddle Jumper instead of hiking to the site of the energy reading.

Chapter Text

John woke when Rodney moaned in his sleep. There was pain under the sound that John knew wasn't right. "Rodney?" he shook the sleeping man gently. Rodney didn't answer, but curled into a ball holding his stomach.

"Rodney!" John said again trying to get his attention.

"Pain," Rodney ground out. "Can't... breathe...."

"Keller," John called on the radio.

He could hear the sleep in her voice but she answered immediately, "Yeah?"

"Rodney's in some major pain and having trouble breathing," John tried desperately to remain calm. He knew that losing his cool wouldn't help. Rodney groaned again. "Infirmary, now," he decided.

"He shouldn't walk and don't you dare try to lift him or make him walk," Keller warned John. "Be there in two minutes."

John understood but it didn't make it any easier to wait. He knew that Rodney needed to be in the infirmary and now. Just as he was reaching to help Rodney up in spite of Keller's direction, Keller came flying in, pushing a wheelchair. "Help me get him into this," she directed.

John wrestled Rodney up from the bed and between them they eased Rodney into the chair. John put a hand on Rodney to help keep him in the chair and Keller set off at a brisk trot. Keller had to have called her staff on her way to get Rodney because there were hands to help once they got there. Rodney was efficiently stripped and put on a bed. Keller put an oxygen mask on Rodney and once his breathing was stabilized, she started taking blood samples. John stood in a corner of the room. He wasn't leaving at this point and Keller didn't say anything.

Keller gave Rodney an injection, watched for any immediate reaction before she came over to speak to John. "It's essentially pre-eclampsia. Rodney's blood pressure has been slightly elevated for a while now. I've been watching his protein levels and they've reached a critical stage. He and I talked about this. There really is no other option than ending the pregnancy. If I don't do anything, it will kill both of them."

John never noticed that she had taken his arm and made him sit down. "He didn't tell me..." John stuttered. "I knew he was watching his blood pressure, but he didn't tell me it was that serious."

Keller sighed. "He was supposed to, damn him," she said. "There really is no choice, now that it's progressed this far. We have to end the pregnancy." She hesitated and said softly, "I'm sorry, but I need your approval since Rodney's in no condition to make a decision."

Rodney.... John wanted to weep. Rodney really wanted this baby. But he wasn't going to lose them both. "Do it," he told Keller sadly. As she started to walk away he asked, "Can I stay?"

"Since I don't understand what's going on here, yes. He'll be calmer if you're with him even under the sedation. Get some scrubs and I'll get a chair moved into the operating room. I don't want you standing that long under this stress," she directed him. As he stood there she said, "Move. There's no time."

John went out of the room and someone handed him scrubs. He took them blindly and changed. He assumed it was the same nurse under the scrubs and mask who led him back to the operating room and he was told kindly, "They're prepping Dr. McKay now. Wait here." The nurse sat John down in the chair and he waited.

Rodney was wheeled into the room on a table and slid into a space next to John. John reached up and took Rodney's free hand. "I'm so sorry," he whispered to the now-sleeping man. John rested his head next to Rodney's shoulder.

Keller and her team came in. She didn't make John move too much, just re-arranged them so she could do what she had to do. Too soon she asked, "Scalpel." John heard the instrument slapped into her hand. He closed his eyes, he couldn't watch.

A sudden intake of breath made John open his eyes. Floating above Rodney was a... damn, it had to be an Ascended being. He had never seen one outside of Chaya and even then she hadn't taken anything like this form, but he had read enough of the SG-1 mission reports to realize what he was looking at. "Stay where you are," John commanded. "Nothing we can do to stop it, and, maybe...." He held his breath. He didn't know what he hoped for.

The being extended two glowing tendrils, reached toward Rodney and then touched him. From within Rodney came a smaller glowing light that escaped from him and into the extended tendrils. They joined momentarily and then the smaller light grew slightly. They hovered above Rodney for a moment, the smaller being reached out and touched Rodney's forehead. Together they rose to the ceiling and out of the room.

Rodney sighed in his sleep and relaxed on the bed. That was Keller's signal to shake herself and go back to what she was doing. Before she cut into Rodney she stopped. She lay a hand on his stomach and said, "What the hell?"

"What?" John asked her.

"I... The baby looks like it's gone..." she told him. "I have to check...."

John laughed sadly. "Rodney, Rodney, Rodney....." He leaned over and lightly kissed Rodney's forehead. "Who loves you as much as I do?"

Keller interrupted him and said, "What the hell just happened here?"

Holding Rodney's hand, John turned to her and said, "Our baby just ascended. I have to assume it had some help. Hopefully Rodney can tell us something when he's awake." John said softly, "Let's get him out of here."

Since there no longer was a need to operate, and since nothing had been done, Keller had no option but to go along with John's suggestion. She took some more blood samples and palpated Rodney's stomach to check his physical condition. She ran a hand scanner over Rodney to check his physical condition and "tsk'd" at what she saw but didn't explain to John. Once done, they moved Rodney back to a quiet room, took out the IV they had started and left them alone. John sat down to wait for Rodney to wake. He knew Keller wasn't far away and hoped they would have some privacy before they had to explain whatever happened.

~*~

"Rodney, lad?" Carson's voice sounded like it came from far away. "Rodney, I need you to pay attention."

Rodney opened his eyes and found himself standing with Carson out on the East pier. The sun was setting and the air was mild. Rodney took a deep breath of sea air. "Good to see you again, Carson," Rodney said turning to face his friend. "I'm dreaming, aren't I?"

"Mostly," Carson replied. "But I had to come for the wee one." His voice was soft and sad. "It was my fault this happened to you and I asked to come and make it right." Carson held out his hands and the small glowing bundle there grew in size and took shape. It became a young girl of about 10 or so, Rodney never could tell the ages of children that well. She stood next to Carson holding his hand.

"Papa," she said, "they've let me say hello and good-bye in one visit. You would have been such a good papa, you and dad together. As you will be for my sister, Julianna. Although I think she will give you some trouble along the way. Be patient with her and I will help you keep an eye on her. They will let me do that much."

Rodney swallowed and stared. "Carson? How... What...."

Carson reached out to Rodney. "The gene therapy. It was enough to allow you into the room and to be treated by the machine. So young Jeannie here came to be. But it wasn't enough to prevent the complications. The ones that would have taken both of you and I wouldn't let them do that to John. He would have had Julianna -- your daughter -- but without you, he would not be the same." He looked down at the young girl next to him. "By taking Jeannie back now, you live. You and John can stay together and raise Julianna."

Rodney knelt down to look at Jeannie on her level. "You look like your dad, you know. You have his eyes," Rodney told her. "He would have been proud of you." Rodney took a steadying breath. "I wish.... I wish you did not have to go."

"You can talk to me, sometimes, papa," Jeannie told him serenely. "Tell me what you're thinking or what we might have done together." She smiled at him.

Rodney nodded, "I can do that." The grin became watery. "I miss you already, you know."

She leaned in and brushed a ghostly kiss across his forehead. "They aren't paying attention and I can leave you this. Remember me...."

Rodney closed his eyes to treasure the moment.

~*~

From the side of the bed, John watched Rodney open his eyes. John had dozed in the chair, with his head on his arms on the bed. John felt Rodney move a hand to settle on his arm to let John know he was awake. "Rodney?" John asked softly.

"She was so beautiful," Rodney said wistfully. "She had your eyes, and your hair. I... if it was a girl I wanted to call her Jeannie. I didn't think she'd mind." Rodney sighed. "She was bright and cheerful the way you always hope your children will be."

John eased himself into the bed and put his arms around Rodney. "What happened?" He listened as Rodney told him about meeting Carson and their daughter.

Rodney put his hand on John's growing stomach. "Her name is Julianna," Rodney said softly. John could see the unshed tears. "She'll be a handful but comes with a guardian angel."

"Jeannie I understand, and she would have like that, you know," John assured him. "Julianna?" he asked curiously.

Rodney shrugged. "Not from me, figured maybe you had something to do with it," he replied. Seeing John shake his head, he went on, "Well, guess we don't have to work on a name, then." Rodney gently rubbed a hand over John's stomach.

"You going to be okay?" John asked softly.

Rodney hesitated. "I don't know. Physically? Carson took care of that," he decided. "I suspect some more freaking out is to be expected." He grinned slightly, "I have you to worry about, too, you know. So, yes, I'll mostly be okay." He turned and kissed John.

Footsteps in the hall alerted them to the arrival of company. Dr. Keller stepped into the room. "I need to check Dr. McKay. Sorry, out," she directed John to sit in the chair. She palpated Rodney's stomach, took his blood pressure and took a blood sample. "Okay, what can you tell me?"

Rodney ran through a condensed version of the story he told John. He had better control of his emotions at this point and he left out some of the more personal details.

When he was done, Keller stood thinking. "Well, at this point, there's no sign of the pregnancy, your pressure is back to normal and I bet your blood work will come back near to normal. I still want to do a full body scan before I let you out of here but there's no other reason to keep you here." She shook her head and pointed at John. "You're still pregnant and you need some sleep."

"Yes, ma'am," John agreed, willing to do almost anything now that Rodney was safe. He knew he was starting his own freak out

Chapter Text

John sat out on the East Pier. Far enough away from everyone that he knew they'd leave him alone but he left on his radio. He needed some time to himself, away from everyone but he knew better than to leave his radio behind. It was another six weeks before Keller planned to do the Cesarean and John had enough of the curiosity and well-meant good wishes that he needed to get away.

He now understood the stories about women saying "get this thing out of me" and was feeling out of sorts and awkward. Rodney was busy in the labs and while they spent their nights together, he was somewhat lonely now that Keller had put him back on limited duty and Lorne had conspired with Weir to take over most of his day to day work.... Feeling this needy made him uncomfortable. All of the feelings and emotions were whirling in his head and he needed time to settle his thoughts before he went back.

Footsteps alerted him to Ronon's presence. John knew Ronon made some noise to not startle him. If Ronon hadn't wanted to be heard, John wouldn't have known he was there.

"McKay send you?" John asked.

"Nah. Thought you could use some company," Ronon replied.

"Okay."

Ronon sat on a step below his so that he was slightly ahead of John. He sat and leaned back on his elbows like he had all the time in the world and nothing serious to do. John let Ronon be and they sat in silence for a long time.

"Getting to be dinner time," John floated eventually.

"Mashed tormack tonight," Ronon floated back. John knew that was one of Ronon's favorites and he had come to like the mashed tuber also.

"Suppose we should be getting back," John replied. "Before Rodney eats it all."

"Yeah," but Ronon made no effort to move. He turned to look at John, "What's going to happen.... After?"

John shrugged. "This is as new to me as it is to everyone. I have no plans to leave Atlantis, if that's what you're asking. Teyla is looking for someone to serve as a nanny," at Ronon's blank look, he expanded, "caretaker." Ronon nodded, "for the baby so we have some help. Rodney and I have already talked and we're going to be going back on missions." Rodney hadn't been so sure about that decision but was willing to give it a try.

~*~*~

John woke lazily... today was the day Keller had decided it was time Julianna would be born and he was glad it had finally come. He was really only physically comfortable lying down, on his side, anything else led to a backache after too short a period. It wasn't enough to complain about but it was wearing.

Rodney was curled around his back, still sleeping. They hadn't had too much time together recently and it felt nice to just lie here and absorb the warmth. Rodney's hand reached over him and lay open on his stomach – the large, capable hand was comforting and reassuring.

John had resorted to the ‘puppy dog' eyes to get Rodney out of the lab early the night before. He knew he and Zelenka were on the verge of a major breakthrough in being able to recharge a ZPM but he had wanted this one last night together. There weren't any other crises, all of the off world teams had come back on time and without injuries, and there wasn't anything that really couldn't wait another day. So John had pulled rank and played the guilt card to get some time alone with Rodney. They didn't do anything special but watching some Torchwood and snacking on popcorn that Rodney seems to have an infinite supply of.

There was a moment when the baby was tap dancing on the inside of him that John took Rodney's hand and together they felt their daughter move.

"Rodney..." I'm scared...

Rodney cleared his throat. "Me, too," he said softly. I'm here...

John closed his eyes to breathe and compose himself -- now wasn't the time to fall apart. Rodney's other arm went around him and drew him in close.

"Carson'll be watching," Rodney assured him.

"He better be," John muttered.

Rodney laughed. "Think of the basket case we'd be if we were both going through this," Rodney teased.

It was this, as much as anything, that reassured John that Rodney had been able to deal with losing Jeannie. He had caught glimpses of sadness as Rodney had watched Julianna's development but outside of their normal, casual, "You OK?" and "Yeah" conversation, they never had talked about it. This was Rodney's first overt reference since the night Carson had taken the baby away from him.

John leaned back from the embrace and put a hand on the side of Rodney's face. Rodney leaned into the touch.

"You okay?" John asked. Seriously....

This time, Rodney didn't answer automatically and John could see him going through his own internal checklist.

"Yeah," Rodney finally responded with a small nod, "I am."

John leaned in for a soft kiss, one that Rodney returned just as softly with an added layer of caring and love.

"Let's get some sleep," John suggested.

"Last chance at undisturbed sleep for a while," Rodney agreed.

John finally couldn't lie still any longer and as he shifted he heard Rodney mutter, "Is it time?"

"Shhh.... Not yet," John reassured the sleeping man. "She's sleeping on my bladder. Be right back." He eased out of bed and padded to the bathroom. He was again glad for the rugs on the floors to keep the morning chill away.

Crawling back into bed, Rodney said, "Hey.... Come here."

John snuggled back into the warmth. At some point the alarm went off and Rodney stretched over John to shut it off.

Deep breath. John let it out and said, "Let's go have a baby." Since he wasn't allowed solid food before the surgery due to the anesthetic, Keller figured first thing in the morning would be best. John suspected she also wanted to keep Rodney's level of stress down to manageable levels and the less time he had to fret the better it would be for everyone.

In the infirmary, Keller pointed, "Rodney, I had a tray brought, eat some breakfast. Nothing you can do for the moment and you need to eat."

John added as Rodney was about to protest, "It's right there, go ahead." Rodney gave a quick squeeze of John's hand and moved across the room.

"Okay," Keller drew John's attention to her. "How are you feeling?" she asked as she attached monitor leads to him.

"A little nervous," John admitted.

She leaned in a bit and whispered, "Me, too!"

"Don't let Rodney hear that!" John rolled his eyes.

She grinned at him. "Oh, never! Why do you think I had coffee and breakfast brought in for him?" She sobered, "Piece of cake. We've been over this, any last questions?"

John had learned more than he had ever wanted to know about the differences in male and female anatomy over the last two months as Keller explained the changes in his body and what she would be doing to ‘deliver' Julianna. Since this really was a surgical delivery, John was going to be unconscious but Rodney would be there – only after John had made him promise to not badger Keller during the operation.

"Ready?" Keller asked the room in general.

Rodney was at John's side, concern evident in his eyes but he said lightly, "See you on the other side."

"No giving Keller a hard time," John reminded him.

"You either," Rodney shot back.

"Go, scrub," Keller directed Rodney.

After Rodney had left, they wheeled the bed into the room where she was going to do the surgery. Handling the anesthesia herself, as she finished up the injection Keller directed, "Okay, Colonel, count backwards from one hundred for me."

John got to eighty-seven before everything went dark.

~*~*~*~*~*~

"Carson! What's wrong?" John asked in a panic.

"Shh... nothing. Sorry to scare you," Carson Beckett soothed. "Just checking on you. Jennifer has done fine, although I'm not sure I could say the same about Rodney. Tsk.." He shook his head.

"Carson!"

"Oh, right. Nattering," Carson answered cheerfully. "Thought you might want to meet Jeannie. This is the only chance we'll have." A young girl appeared next to Carson.

Rodney was right. She was perfect. Her smile was bright and... she had Rodney's eyes.

"He misses you," he said huskily.

"Poppa talks to me," Jeannie replied. "It's good for him. And he has you and now Julianna to take care of." She held out her arms and John picked her up and sat her on one hip. "Tell Julianna about me and give Poppa a hug." She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed. Leaning back, she put a hand on the side of John's face in a caress and said softly, "This is for Poppa..."

~*~*~*~*~*~

"Hey! Sleepy! Wake up and meet your daughter," Rodney's voice called to him.

John fought his way to consciousness. When he thought he might be able to manage, he started to move to sit up but a hand on his arm stopped him. "No sitting up, remember?" Rodney said. "Hold on." He fiddled with the bed so the back moved up to get John to sit up slightly.

"Ready?"

No... "Okay," John answered. With the reverence Rodney reserved for delicate crystals, he handed John a bundle that he seemed reluctant to let go of.

"While you were napping, Keller and her staff cleaned her up, counted that she has the proper number of fingers and toes and took an amazing amount of blood for the screenings," Rodney recounted and John looked down into the face of their daughter.

"Rodney..." she's beautiful... "We did this?"

"Yeah." A whisper.

John held the sleeping child. He poked into the blanket to find a tiny fist that wrapped itself around his exploring finger.