After Sumner had been unceremoniously removed from his position, Sheppard had come back to Atlantis with a headache, a low sense of nausea in his stomach, and a mountain of new responsibilities, among which included knowing every member of the Atlantis crew. So in lieu of entertaining nightmares about triggers and foggy, pleading eyes, John had read personnel files, pored over them in his room late at night.
So John knew Simpson had two sisters and two dead parents and that Ford was allergic to sulfa drugs and he always kept two epi pens just to be safe in his vest in case Rodney found an alien bug he was allergic to in addition to plant life, citrus, and certain kinds of barley.
This also meant that John knew Rodney was, actually, all the genius he claimed to be and other stuff that hadn't even come up yet in Rodney's frequent, endless, self-congratulatory pissing sessions with the other scientists--
That didn't explain whatever this was.
"You can tell me," Rodney said earnestly.
John stared at him. He folded his hands in his lap. Then, he folded them again, opening his mouth and shutting it with a click of his teeth.
Rodney's brow furrowed. "I'm right, aren't I? She just left you like that, didn't she?"
Part of John knew it would be in his own interest to put a hand on either of McKay's shoulders, to look into his blue eyes and ask in very short syllables if he'd eaten anything that had been green, fuzzy, sentient, or all three. Part of John wanted to cry, or cry laughing.
Part of John was still seventeen, and wanted to see where this would go.
So after a second, he worked his jaw open again and said, deadpan, "How did you know?"
Rodney smacked a fist into his opened palm, looking triumphant, practically glowing with discovery. "I knew it," he crowed. "It was so obvious once you took in the various physiological side-effects and the fact that, well, you've been putting on some weight and--"
John put his hands over his stomach self-consciously.
"--you have been dragging around like your hamster just died." Rodney paused. "Or, you know, a crazy alien priestess knocked you up and dumped you."
It sounded crazier every time that Rodney said it, and John marveled at that. Biting back a hysterical giggle, he said, "I tried so hard to hide it, Rodney."
Rodney patted him on the arm sympathetically. "Sure, sure. It's just, well, pitted against my sharp, intuitive senses and unflappable scientific knowledge, you really didn't have a chance." He smiled at John in what was probably supposed to be a supportive way but ultimately came out patronizing. "You made a good effort, and all."
"Yes," John managed, because he figured if he tried to make a complex sentence he'd keel over laughing in the middle of it.
Rodney pursed his lips, eyed John up and down where he was sitting on a lab table, and clapped his hands together, still all enthusiasm and energy and said, "Well, it's only eleven, plenty of time for me to run a battery of tests to see how this is actually working, I mean, biologically, though God knows that soft sciences are so--"
John held up a quelling hand. He said in a strangled voice, "Rodney, could you excuse me a minute?"
Rodney's eyes went huge and concerned, and he took a step back. "Do you have to throw up? Oh God, you have to throw up." He searched around frantically for a trash can, and finally produced Kavanagh's field pack. "Here!" he said, thrusting it into John's face.
There were tears in his eyes now from effort, and John pushed off the lab table, and shook his head in what he hoped was a reassuring way, and said, "No, no--I think I just need to be alone for a second." Rodney stared at him, hands limply holding Kavanagh's bag. "You know, to come to terms with all of this," John finished lamely.
Suddenly, Rodney seemed to launch into action, all frantic nodding and dismissive handwaving, tossing the pack toward a corner of the room and saying, "Oh. Right, naturally. Of course, quite."
He took John by the shoulders and steered him delicately out of the room, away from--John realized with another hysterical note--all the research projects with low-grade radiation and toward the lab doors gently.
"Sleep," Rodney decided. "Yes, exactly. Sleep, plenty of rest, and lots of good nutrition--clearly you don't eat enough."
"I thought I was getting fat," John said snottily.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't start this yet. There're months before you have to worry about losing your girlish figure, and you'll still be ravishing anyway."
John opened his mouth to protest or scream or something but Rodney cut him off.
"And anyway, that's fat for you. Which is still anorexic for most other people out there," Rodney said matter-of-factly, while John's brain stopped, rewound, and circled warily around the word 'ravishing.' Rodney then stopped, looked into John's face with huge, inquisitive eyes, and asked, "Are you okay going back to your rooms? I could walk you."
By morning, John felt bad.
John's always believed that it was a good measure of a man to be able to take a joke or make one, but it kept coming back to how huge and earnest Rodney's eyes had been, the way he'd steered John out of the way of unknown Atlantean gizmos and their unknown, Atlantean radiation. And putting aside the minor blip where Rodney had decided that John was the best science fair project ever, the whole experience left him feeling like a heel.
The night before he'd barely managed to shut the door of his room before he'd crumpled to the ground, laughing so hard at one point he found himself literally pounding on the floor. His stomach had hurt all night after he'd finally crawled into bed but by the time morning had knocked, John woke up feeling like a jerk.
Which was why he was peering around the mess, looking for Rodney.
Though honest to God, how the hell was he supposed to break it to somebody that he wasn't actually the world's first case of a pregnant male?
John went over various ways of easing into the conversation gently, and in a fit of baseless optimism almost all of them ended with Rodney and John laughing together because it had been a good joke. John winced, going through the breakfast line and grabbing a container of fleshy, white Asthosian fruit that tasted like honey but left a slightly bitter aftertaste and put ketchup on it. He swore by the taste of the two combined, but Ford had gone slightly green around the gills the first time he'd seen it and refused to try.
He was waiting for a new serving tray of dehydrogenated eggs to be put out when Rodney snuck up on him and leaned against his arm, peering at John's tray.
"Wow, those weird cravings are hitting you hard," he observed.
It took John a second to wrap his mind around what McKay was saying, the fact that Rodney was all up in his personal space, and how very long Rodney's eyelashes where when viewed from above. He cleared his throat, smiled weakly at the narrowed, suspicious look the Marine on kitchen duty flashed him, grabbed Rodney by the elbow, and hustled them through the line before sitting down in a far corner of the room, near a plant and a large window and nobody else.
"Look, McKay," John said, waiting until Rodney got his first mouthful of eggs in before he started talking in the feeble hope it'd make it go easier if Rodney didn't reply.
Rodney held up his hand, and talking around his food, he said, "Look, Major, I've worked on top-secret military installations for the majority of my professional life, I can keep a secret. You don't have to worry about me blabbing the big news to all your Marines, though God knows the hamster-on-a-wheel reaction they'd have to this." He looked momentarily thoughtful, and added, "And by the way, have you given any consideration to what you're going to do about field work? I know we're all locked down a bit until Elizabeth stops being mad at you about the gross breach of security and all--"
John winced, and waited for the tirade. He'd decided to take them all with suffering grace.
"--but a few more days and she's going to want to put us on active duty again and God further knows what gate travel does to pregnancy and let's not even talk about your reckless, total lack of self-preservation," Rodney finished, stuffing another forkful of eggs in his mouth.
John was speechless for a moment, torn between pointing out the fact that for the first time in days the mention of Chaya hadn't sent Rodney off into a fit and the apparent fact that Rodney had thought about this probably all night.
"Anyway," Rodney said, waving his hands busily in the air, as if to physically push away the thoughts, "Marines and base personnel aside, maybe it'd be better to tell Elizabeth." Rodney turned fire-engine red and motioned abstractly at John's abdomen. "You know, unacceptable risks and everything."
This has officially gone too far, John thought guiltily. He opened his mouth to say, "Rodney, I was just playing with you last night," and instead he said, "What if I haven't decided to keep it?"
Rodney's mouth, which was already open went all tight and in a straight line and instantly John knew he should have gone with "I was just playing with you last night," because that probably wouldn't have made Rodney grab John by the arm and jerk him out to the nearest balcony with a surprisingly strong grip.
So, abashed and squirming and restructuring his entire, "I'm not really pregnant, and have you noticed how insane this is, anyway, Rodney?" speech, John watched Rodney fume at him, hair fluffing up in the ocean wind, breakers crashing against the city fortifications down at sea levels.
Inanely, he said, "Our food's getting cold."
Rodney scowled. "Okay, shut up, I'm putting together my moving and eloquent speech in my head."
John nodded. "Okay," he agreed. Anything to get him out of talking.
"I'm ready," Rodney informed him, to which John nodded again. "Right. Well, as an enlightened--heh--man in the modern era and being of Canadian origin I can't in all good conscience say anything as dimwitted as abortion is immoral. After all," Rodney said, motioning dramatically, "I support women's rights and the right to choose and frankly, at this stage, it's probably just a little blob of cells and not a baby--" John nodded slowly "--but in conclusion it would be wrong and a blow to science and you'd be killing a baby Ancient and we wouldn't even know how to abort it anyway."
John blinked and scowled. "That was your version of moving and eloquent?"
"Shut up!" Rodney snapped, waving his hands. "You can't get rid of it! Think about all we could learn from it!"
John's eyes widened in horror. "You want to dissect it?"
"Well, no!" Rodney admitted, cheeks spotted red. "I'd--you know, scan it and stuff! But I can't very well do that if you're going to put it into the blender and hit frappe, can I?"
John thought Rodney knew very, very little about the technical aspects of abortion, and cleared his throat, determined that this insanity would go on no longer.
"Look, Rodney," he said wearily. "Don't get all worked up about this, all right?"
Rodney brightened immediately. "I knew it. It was just passing cold feet, right?"
"No, Rodney, I was just--"
"Tut tut," Rodney said generously, "it's forgotten. I am magnanimous like that. Anyway, it's kind of cold out here, and this dampness can't be good for little Johannes or Annie."
John groaned. "We can name it later."
"Right, right," Rodney said cheerfully and started pushing John toward the doors into the mess again, apparently unconcerned by the small and fascinated crowd that was attempting to be discreet while mostly just staring gap-jawed. Teyla had one eyebrow raised. John groaned and tried to bat Rodney's hands off his shoulders.
"Look, no, for serious, Rodney, this is ridiculous. I'm not--"
Rodney stopped, and sighing, turned John to look at him. His eyes were blue and softer than John remembered seeing, and it made John feel suddenly vulnerable, awkward. John always knew how to act around Rodney, never had to fake it.
"I know you're scared," Rodney said seriously, low and honest and John would be touched if he wasn't overwhelmed by how completely insane all of this was. "But we'll figure this out somehow."
There was a stupidly ridiculous grin on Rodney's face for the rest of breakfast, and John bowed his head under the curious stares of the people around them, who had all moved much closer to their table in their brief absence. John considered six new and different ways of breaking the news to Rodney, but all of them died on his lips when he looked up from his Asthosian fruit and ketchup and saw Rodney's enchanted expression.
"I think you're glowing already," Rodney reported.
"Oh, I'm something all right," John muttered, and shoved the rest of the fruit in his mouth.
And John suspected he would have continued to feel progressively worse about the entire thing if it wasn't for the fact that Rodney seemed to equate "confidant" with "asshole." By about the third day of Rodney winking exaggeratedly and snapping at John every time he so much as jogged around Atlantis base, John was ready to snap. He'd tried--at current count--fourteen separate times to tell Rodney that his ninth grade biology book had been right, that human men did not do the thing with the womb, but Rodney always snapped right in the middle of John's explanation with something dismissive like, "Oh, please, Major. I know you're scared but honestly, denying Cannon's existence doesn't change anything."
"I thought it was named Johannes," John found himself saying mulishly.
Rolling his eyes, Rodney said, "Annie Jump Cannon, my God, did you never take an Astronomy class?"
"Rodney, I'm not pregnant!" John yelled, and one of the biologists gave John and Rodney a wide berth in the hallway before skittering away, John yelling over his shoulder, "Sorry! Don't freak out! It's all cool."
Rodney frowned at him. "You're really not helping," he snapped. "Oh, by the way, I've taken the liberty of arranging a meeting with Elizabeth for you, since I think she's scheduled our first off-world trip for day after tomorrow." Rodney looked at him meaningfully. "Now, it was one thing when you were only taking our lives into your hands--this is something else entirely. God knows I don't want to come out of the Stargate to see horrible, fetal recombinant errors--"
"Sorry, sorry," Rodney soothed, and John realized that somehow they were standing in front of the closed door of Elizabeth's office, though she was looking at John intently through the glass wall. John winced. Rodney waved brightly, opened the door, and said, "Here he is, Elizabeth--" Rodney was practically bouncing and John wanted to kill him "--and whatever you do, hear him out. Also? I told you Chaya was a danger to society."
Elizabeth's brow furrowed and she opened her mouth, but Rodney shoved John into the room, shut the door behind them, and stood outside, arms crossed over his chest, an expression of pensive waiting on his face.
Elizabeth said seriously, "Whatever it is, John, you can tell me."
John made a face and flopped down into a seat in front of her desk, playing with one of the goodwill gifts the many cultures not interested in killing them had given to Elizabeth as a sign of cooperation. John swore most of it was erotic art, but after the first time he got stuck getting coffee for everybody at the staff meeting, he'd learned to keep his mouth shut or at least make dirty jokes about Elizabeth out of her earshot.
"Rodney said," Elizabeth started carefully, her years of experience in diplomacy showing, "that a health situation has arisen." She looked like she was blushing and John would have thought this was funny if it wasn't him and he didn't have to strangle Rodney. "Whatever it is, John, all embarrassment aside, if it's in any way going to affect your ability to lead the team or affect other people on Atlantis I have no choice but to--"
"Oh for--I don't have alien STDs, if that's what you think," John snapped, irate. "It's just that Rodney got some harebrained idea that Chaya knocked me up and he's been acting like a lunatic ever since."
Elizabeth's mouth fell open with a soft sound.
"I know," John sighed.
She made a pained expression. "Have you--?"
"Only about a hundred times," John assured her.
Elizabeth rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Do you want me to talk to him?" she asked.
John snorted, and Elizabeth grinned, showing all her teeth. "Or would he just convince himself that it was part of a campaign against your secret, alien love child?" she asked innocently. John had always known Elizabeth was evil--a beautiful woman didn't reach that level of command without having balls of steel. He just hadn't known they were titanium. He squirmed in his seat.
"Please don't say that," John said feebly, wincing.
Folding her hands on her desk, she smiled at him and said, "Okay. So what do you want me to do about this? Rodney wants me to take you off active duty."
"This is ridiculous," John muttered. "I'll go talk to him again."
"See that you do, Major," Elizabeth said, but her eyes were twinkling and John didn't even know why until he found out that the scientists were fascinated by a new wrinkle in gate-travel energy readings and they were grounded for the next month while Rodney took apart the DHD and dissected their Stargate anyway.
In a weird way, the pattern that appeared in the following days was soothing.
"Good morning, Rodney," John said.
"Did you sleep well?" Rodney demanded, mouth firm and eyes appealing. "Sleep is very important for expectant, well, parents. Parent. Oh, here," he said, pressing a few vitamin tablets into John's hand. "And don't go spreading the wealth. Those are from my secret stash. They have lots of folic acid. Here, here, I saved you some fake milk. Calcium and all."
He beamed at John and John sighed and said, "I'm not pregnant, Rodney."
"Sure, sure," Rodney said dismissively, poring over some files before his head snapped up and he grinned at John and said, "Oh, hey, I made a dirty bet with Simpson and got all her Bach onto my iPod. I was figuring out a way to rig some speakers." He made a curving motion with his hands. "You know, play some music for Johannes."
"I'm not naming it Jo--Rodney!" John snapped, and Ford, from where he was sitting with Teyla three tables over grinned so hard it nearly cracked his face. John reminded himself to put Ford on morning inventory for the next three weeks.
"Okay, okay, maybe that can wait for later," Rodney said diplomatically, rolled up a few schematics, set away his files and looked John grimly. "Have you thought about you know, telling Chaya?"
John covered his face. "I'm not pregnant," he said pathetically. "I'm not."
Rodney patted his elbow sympathetically. "Don't worry, Major. You don't have to go through this alone."
John glared at Rodney for a full minute, and then he sighed and took his damn vitamins with the fake milk because who was he kidding, Rodney was right, the damn nutrients were making him glow. Or maybe he was just reflecting Rodney's grin, which was probably visible from outer space, from Earth.
At the end of every day, at the afternoon staff meeting, Elizabeth would cock her brow at him and say something like, "Any luck?" and John would whine, "Why don't you just tell him?" to which Elizabeth would say, "Honestly, Major, I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt the bond your team has created," with hugely innocent eyes.
And after that became routine, so did Rodney harassing John into going to Carson for checkups. Carson had to excuse himself for a solid five minutes after John had explained tiredly what was going on, and John could hear the laughing all the way through the very thick door of the infirmary storage area. When Carson had come back wiping away his tears, John had shot him a withering glare and said, "Look can you just tell Rodney that he's out of his mind? I mean, come on, Doc. I'm aguy. It doesn't work like that."
Carson had been deadpan as he said, "Well, honestly, Major, we don't know. Pegasus is an all new galaxy and there's an ocean of undiscovered medical and health--"
"Okay, fine, be like that," John had snapped, and started to storm out of the infirmary when Rodney blindsided him and demanded a urine sample so Carson could check his glucose and protein.
John had always thought he was a reasonable guy, but he drew the line at compromising his dignity and peeing into a cup so a deranged Scottish doctor trying not to die laughing could test his damn blood glucose to make sure his pregnancy was going well. He also ardently refused a sonogram, a move which he regretted immediately when Rodney had looked thoughtful and decided, "You're right, we should you know, be surprised. We'll love a boy or a girl." He'd gone all misty at the thought, probably painting little Johannes or Cannon's room pink in his mind, that crazy, crazy bastard.
"You know what? Give me the sonogram," John snapped later that week. "It'll prove I'm not pregnant."
Rodney was hovering worriedly in the doorway, doing his concerned father act, which was seriously beginning to creep John out. If he got stopped midway through his workout or guilt-tripped into taking folic acid any more he was going to have to trick-wire Rodney's door to blow up every time he tried to open it and that was more beginning bombmaking than he'd had to do in a long time.
Carson bit his lip so hard John thought he was going to bleed. "I'm sorry," he said, strangled. "I promised Rodney. You know. You'll thank me on the big day--for the surprise."
"I'll kill you!" John roared, spinning on his heel.
Rodney held up his hands peaceably, an expression of serene love on his face. "Now, John--"
"John?" John asked hysterically.
For a second, Rodney froze up, and then he set his mouth in a firm line, so belligerent and scared and brave that John almost wanted to chuck him on the chin more than he wanted to wrap his hands around Rodney's neck and squeeze.
"Yes, well," Rodney said, busily and shortly, with exaggerated efficiency, and he fussed with his sleeves, looking everywhere in the room but at John. "It's not like Chaya's going to step up to the plate and support you in your time of need or anything, and I've been sharing my vitamins and hoarding the fake milk and harassing everybody into going easy on you--"
"I'm not pregnant!" John yelled.
"Please, Major, temper tantrums can't be good for the baby," Carson managed, before he covered his face, shoulders shaking.
"You're on my list, too, buddy!" John snapped, pointing at Carson.
"The point is!" Rodney interrupted, annoyed. "I figure at this point I've earned you know, a time-share on Johannes or Cannon." He folded his arms across his chest and continued to look so belligerent and scared and brave that John lost steam and the intricate plan he had to kill both Carson and Rodney and make it look like an elaborate accident disappeared in a puff of guilt.
"Rodney, seriously," John croaked tiredly. "I'm not pregnant."
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Look, are you going to give that urine sample or not?"
John figured that after his little 'outburst' in the infirmary and being essentially sent to his room, he was totally in the right to hack into Atlantis systems and booby-trap Carson's bathroom. It was total playground stuff, cold water and overflowing toilet, but John figured Rodney'd 'forget' to fix it since Carson had manhandled John out of the infirmary while Rodney had said with rising concern, "Hey! Hey, hey! Pregnant Major there! Pregnant Major!"
Later that night, Rodney showed up with sort-of chocolate and a stubborn expression, which was as close to groveling as Rodney was ever going to get.
"So," John said, hoping stupidly that Rodney was about to say, "Okay, so you weren't pregnant."
Rodney held out a very small piece of the sort-of chocolate and added, "Here." Then, he held out a DVD. It had nothing to do with babies, so John decided that this evening might not end in bloodshed. Then Rodney said uncomfortably, "I shouldn't have presumed."
It took John a whole thirty seconds to figure out what Rodney was talking about, and then he discovered all new levels of feeling like an asshole that dwarfed the first time he'd made his mom cry, the first time he'd made his girlfriend cry, and the first time he'd made his not-boyfriend cry all combined.
"Oh, hey, Rodney," John said, soft and sheepish. "I didn't--" and Rodney looked so nobly miserable that John concluded, "Look, if--it would be you, okay? It would be you."
Then Rodney did that thing where he smiled like John had given him a ZPM and a blowjob and a kitten all at once and John went a little stupid and melty and let him in. Halfway through the movie, which they were watching on John's laptop from where they were propped up at the head of John's bed, Rodney began absently rubbing John's ankles.
"Are they swollen yet?" Rodney asked, almost anticipatory.
"I'm not pregnant," John murmured, distracted.
"Hmm," Rodney said, and kept rubbing.
John thought that maybe there were certain perks to being an expectant mother.
At some point, he must have given up, because three weeks after that night in the lab, John was going along with all of Rodney's little expectant father insanities with barely more than a perfunctory, "I'm not pregnant," which really didn't hold that much water if he was going to let Rodney gush about the new apartments he'd staked out and was tricking out to include a nursery. Or how he was already creating a personalized curriculum for what he'd started to refer to as, "Johannes or Cannon, our very own baby Ancient." He'd very conveniently forgotten Chaya's supposed part in all of this, which John always found sort of morally disturbing until he reminded himself that oh, yeah, he wasn't pregnant.
And for a while, Atlantis was in wonderfully peaceful stand-down. The scientists babbled at one another in several different languages over something they'd discovered about energy conservation, and Rodney had had the good grace at least to admit that he'd been lying initially about the gate. "But I was doing it for the baby Ancient," Rodney argued. The Marines, who'd been put through the wringer, enjoyed the downtime and Ford and Teyla very carefully took no part in whatever it was that crazy old McKay and Sheppard were doing, though John's very good sources had it that hysterical laughing could frequently be heard from the infirmary.
John learned not to think about it too much when Rodney started coming over to his room every night, sometimes with movies and food, sometimes just with work. And sometimes they spread it out on the floor and hashed it out together and sometimes John read War and Peace--"Still at page twenty, John?" and "I'm right on schedule."--and Rodney would glance away from his laptop sometimes to run his hand over John's side, which was still flat and smooth, and make a soft noise in the back of his throat.
The third time Rodney camped out in John's room John fell asleep, and when he woke up, Rodney was curled up around him on John's bed, having pulled the covers over both of them. Rodney's cheek was pressed into the convex beneath John's ribcage like he was listening for a beating heart and his hand was on the small of John's back.
There were a thousand reasons that this was wrong, not in the least because Rodney had been really excited earlier that night to show John a picture of a modified bouncing baby harness, but John just muttered, "Still not pregnant," and went back to sleep, curling one hand into the hair at the base of Rodney's neck.
Off world travel had been okayed again and Rodney was on pins and needles but Elizabeth approved the trip and Carson told him to stop acting like a total overprotective lunatic and they went through the gate with Rodney trying everything he could think of to create some sort of stasis bubble around John so that, quote, "No fetal arms are sticking out of your face when we get onto the other side."
No fetal arms, John thought ruefully, but girls with crushes on Rodney--who, of course, didn't notice, but babbled about the joys of discovery and ZPMs and almost started talking about fatherhood before John had cleared his throat, and said, "Rodney? Focus."
Then there were some Genii and a pretty rough fight, which had ended with Rodney wailing about his eyesight and clutching a ZPM and taking a few really petulant kicks at Kolya, who seemed terrified and completely bewildered when Rodney said, "If you'd hurt John or the baby, I would have made this hole the last place you ever saw." His voice had been low and horrible and John had broken the moment as quickly as possible, because those were the kinds of things he hadn't thought Atlantis' science team would ever need to say.
Things had not been improved by Rodney's crazy kind-of-girlfriend taking their damn ZPM or John spraining his ankle on the trudge back to the gate or the way Rodney had hovered the whole time. He looked worried sick and pissed off and guilty and he kept talking about recoding the personal shield and tweaking it so John could eat and go to the bathroom.
He kept it up all the way back to Atlantis and all through regular medical exams and was almost back to reiterating how foolish he'd been to let John go through the gate at all when John scooted forward on the exam table and frowned. Rodney automatically put his hands on John's knees, steadying him with a question on the tip of his tongue when John finally sighed, held Rodney's face between his hands and stared into his eyes.
They were filthy and tired and John's ankle hurt like hell.
John said, "Rodney."
"Yes?" Rodney asked, high-pitched.
"I'm not pregnant," John said, and his gaze didn't waver and he wouldn't let Rodney look away.
"What, not this again," Rodney snapped, frowning. "Look, I've entertained your month and a half of albeit understandable denials but honestly, John, we're talking about a whole different galaxy. I mean, the deadbeat dad could morph into a directed energy weapon for Christ's sake so really you just need to get over this and lay down so that Carson can see if--"
John shook his head firmly. "No, Rodney. You're not listening."
"Of course I'm listening. I have perfect hearing, you're just--"
"Rodney," John said, and his voice was really, really soft. "I'm not pregnant."
Rodney's eyes were tired for a minute, and then horrified and angry and then he just looked sad.
John felt like shit. He fidgeted. "Tell me what you're thinking," he instructed.
"I thought you were going to kiss me," Rodney said.
John rolled his shoulders. "I could do that, too."
"It would help me feel like less of an idiot," Rodney said quietly. "And make me less inclined to put a bomb in your favorite puddlejumper."
"Okay," John murmured, and because they were so close anyway it was easy to lean in and press his mouth to the soft inward curve where Rodney's lips met in a sad, slack frown, and easy to coax Rodney's mouth open with an apologetic brush of John's tongue, to trace Rodney's teeth and taste the flesh-sweet inside of Rodney's mouth, which John had always thought he'd had enough of. Not that John was ever going to admit he was wrong--especially after enduring six weeks of Rodney's schematics for a better baby carriage.
But kissing Rodney was weirdly like coming home and leaving it at the same time, wonderfully easy and terrifyingly good and a little anticlimactic, like all things John had been afraid of had been. And then Rodney put his hands on John's shoulders delicately, like he still thought that there was a baby Ancient in the equation, and pushed him away.
"Okay," Rodney said, and he wouldn't meet John's eyes. "I'm--going to go away for a little bit now."
John nodded sympathetically. "Okay," he agreed, since it seemed to be the only thing he could say.
When Carson came back into the room about ten minutes later, he found John lying back on the bed with an arm thrown over his eyes, and he went about wrapping John's ankle without comment. Before he left, he patted John's foot comfortingly and said, "It's always hard to lose something like that, Major."
Which suddenly made John furious. "I wasn't fucking pregnant!"
Carson only stared at him coolly. "Aye. And I wasn't talking about the baby."
John went around the rest of the day feeling like dirt and taking it out on everybody. Ford went on KP, but did it with such a sympathetic glance that John couldn't even get a kick out of it. Teyla beat him hard at the sticks, but she didn't smack him in the ass or mock his skinny calves so it didn't really count. The Marines tried real hard to beat the shit out of him, but John kept winning, either because he was wily and field-smart or just really pissed off. Either way, by the time ten o'clock rolled around and most of Atlantis was in bed, he found himself freshly showered and aching from exertion, sulking and reading page twenty-three of his book.
At midnight, when John was still rereading the exact same paragraph and not at all sleepy, there was a knock on the door, and when John willed it open, he saw Rodney, arms full with his laptop and overflowing files. He had that look on his face again, belligerent and brave and scared, and he stomped into the room and shoved John over on the bed and settled his laptop by John's ankles, muttered, "Don't say a word," and started to type furiously.
John grinned. "Okay," he agreed.
Rodney scowled at him. "I thought we weren't talking," he reminded John.
John made a zipping motion with his mouth and Rodney turned back to his laptop, but after a few minutes John started to nod off to the sound of keystrokes and when he swam back into consciousness, it was to Rodney asking quietly, "Does your ankle still hurt?" and rubbing it gently, around the pressure bandage.
"I'm not pregnant," John said, knee-jerk.
Rodney snorted. "It wasn't even my baby. I rubbed your ankles anyway."
John wriggled deeper into his pillow. "Okay," he said drowsily.
He woke up deep into the night at the sound of rain outside his bedroom, and he found Rodney curled up around him, head at the butterfly of John's ribs, listening for John's heartbeat, Rodney's hand on the small of John's back, the sheets pulled up around them and the laptop abandoned on the floor.
John smiled and whispered, "It would have been kind of cool."
"Copernicus, Galileo," Rodney muttered, half asleep and burying his face deeper into John's shoulder. "Rodney."
John pressed a kiss to Rodney's temple and said, "We can name it later."