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John really should know better than to touch unknown Ancient devices. But this was the Temple of Life where he didn't expect anything sinister to happen, and the statue had called out to him to touch it, to activate it, to accept the offer of life it promised.

"Uh-oh," John said, when the statue began to glow and the enticing feeling of giving him life somehow turned into a really uncomfortable feeling in his stomach.

~~

"It is not a foreign organism," Keller announced, giving Rodney a pointed look.

When John had told them about the weird feeling in his stomach, Rodney had started telling the others about Alien with pretty graphic re-enactments with his hand that hadn't made John feel better one bit.

Keller had put him under immediate quarantine until she could perform a full scan.

"Then what is it?" John asked, because there was definitely something going on in his stomach. He felt as if someone had re-arranged his innards without any particular care as to whether things might not fit that way.

"Let's go into the infirmary," Keller said with a quick glance up the balcony where the others waited. She smiled at them encouragingly, which John hoped was a good sign.

Once in the infirmary, Rodney joined them.

"Rodney, I think I should discuss this with Colonel Sheppard alone," Keller said. She was friendly but firm. John wasn't quite sure if she'd always acted like this with him, even before they got together, and while they'd been together. Their breakup had been mutual by both accounts.

Not that it mattered to him at this point, now that he actually was with Rodney in a way. Whatever had gone down between him and Keller—and Rodney hadn't talked much about it—Rodney had never made John feel as if he was a second prize. He didn't really feel like a first prize either, but that had nothing to do with Keller. Hell, they'd only started having sex a few months ago. It all still felt very new—and John didn't really expect more.

"I'm sure Colonel Sheppard has no problem with my presence," Rodney said confidently.

"Go ahead, doc," John said.

Keller turned to him with a serious face, though not completely stricken as if he was about to die. "The machine that you touched performed some modifications to your body. I spoke with the linguist who went over the Ancient text that you said was found next to the machine and it seems to fit the diagnosis of the Ancient medical scanner."

"And?" Rodney asked impatiently.

Keller ignored him and kept looking at John. "The machine has provided you with...a fake uterus. It's a bit more complicated than that, but in essence your body has been modified to be able to 'create life' as the text said."

"A what?" Rodney asked, staring at her.

John was too stunned for a moment to say anything at all. She couldn't possibly be saying what he thought she was saying. "You mean I could have a...baby?"

"Yes," Keller said, "that seems to be the purpose of the machine. To allow a male to conceive and carry a baby to term."

"Why would they do that?" Rodney asked. "It's not as if there was a shortage of females among the Ancients. Why re-arrange Sheppard's whole"—he gestured at John's mid-section—"to do something that nature has already provided a tried and true way to accomplish?"

"You can talk to Dr. Phelbs about the details, but I believe the Ancient who did this attempted to give men the opportunity to experience a state which is said to bring great fulfillment. His quest for enlightenment was stalled by the deep longing to have a child with his partner, which wasn't possible," Keller explained.

"His girlfriend was infertile, and this is what he came up with?" Rodney asked.

"His partner wasn't a woman, and they were both obviously fertile because the Ancient succeeded to carry their child to term," Keller corrected him.

John blanched. Did the machine only do this to gay people? Don't Ask Don't Tell was thankfully history, but he hadn't come out to the base at large, and his relationship—if you wanted to call it that—with Rodney fell under fraternization rules, so they hid it.

"Oh my god," Rodney said, looking panicked. "You're saying Sheppard can be impregnated by sperm? How would that work? Specifically, what if he had sex, say last night, and someone had come inside him without protection?"

"Rodney!" John shouted. He couldn't fucking believe that Rodney just outed them like this—to his ex-girlfriend no less.

Keller blinked and stared at Rodney for a moment, before gaining her composure. "The diagnosis machine can detect pregnancies immediately, even just fertilization of the egg. Colonel Sheppard isn't pregnant yet, however sperm can stay alive inside the body for a number of days, so it wouldn't be impossible for it to still reach the egg the machine created. But I would say it's unlikely because of the way the machine transformed Colonel Sheppard's body and because it would probably have already happened."

Rodney sighed in relief. John was relieved too, but also angry at Rodney for outing them and being so happy that John wasn't pregnant with his baby. Not that John wanted to be pregnant. He was still freaked-out that it was a possibility now, but Rodney's reaction still grated on him.

"So how can you fix it?" John asked.

"I will have to look into this," Keller said. "Any information you can get from the machine could be helpful," she said, looking at him and Rodney. "And, of course, if there was a way to simply undo the transformation with the machine, that would be best. I would allow you to go on another mission to P3X-156, but otherwise you're grounded until we can resolve this." She looked at John. "Do you need something against the pain?" she asked him.

"It's okay," John said. It wasn't even a pain so much as a weird pressure that squashed his innards. Which was probably pretty accurate because he suddenly had a uterus in there somewhere. "About what Rodney...well, what we discuss here falls under patient confidentiality, right?" John reminded her.

Keller looked at Rodney, who had the grace to look guilty, then turned to him, "Of course, Colonel."

"Okay," John said, jumping off the bed. "Thanks," he added, before leaving the infirmary.

As expected, Rodney followed him out. "She won't tell anyone," he said.

"I hope so," John only said darkly.

"Look, maybe I could have handled this a bit better," Rodney said, making John roll his eyes, "but I really, really didn't expect that. I mean that was the one thing I thought I didn't have to worry about with a guy."

Rodney had experimented with guys at university and exchanged a helping hand and blow jobs in Siberia because there were no other options, but nothing more. That Rodney reminded him of that now only soured John's mood further. It didn't help that they hadn't yet reached a point where John was certain that he wasn't just more convenient sex for Rodney. Even though they'd quickly moved on from blow jobs to fucking.

They informed Woolsey of Keller's diagnosis—without being specific about the changes to his body—and scheduled another mission to the Temple of Life, letting Teyla and Ronon know that John was in no immediate danger and that they'd go back to the planet the next day.

Rodney kept following John, and when they ended up in John's quarters, he immediately walked into John's personal space.

"I'm really not in the mood," John said, taking a step back.

"Oh," Rodney said, both surprised and disappointed. They usually enjoyed the off-time after a mission together and had sex, either long and lazy or quick and passionate, depending on how the mission had gone.

"And even if I were, we shouldn't risk it right now, don't you think?" John asked pointedly, considering Rodney's earlier reaction.

"We could trade blow jobs?" Rodney suggested hopefully.

"Rodney!" John glared at him.

"Okay, fine. You're not in the mood," Rodney said quickly. Then he added more softly, "I'm sure we'll find a way to fix you. Is there anything I can do for you?"

John was tempted to say, "Just leave me alone," but he was mostly mad at the situation and not at Rodney. "No, I don't think so. Thank you."

Rodney nodded and left him.

~~

The mission was a complete bust.

The Sattek told them that there was no way to turn back the changes and congratulated him on the gift. Rodney's check on the machine turned out nothing, because he didn't dare to touch it and it didn't do anything when John did it. Teyla even volunteered but it didn't react to her either, and as long as it was dead there was not much for Rodney to analyze without taking the thing apart.

Understandably the Sattek had been aghast at the idea that Rodney dismantle their greatest treasure. Gay couples came from all over the Pegasus Galaxy to be gifted with life, and John had to restrain himself from shouting, "You couldn't have told us that before we went in there?"

In the end, John decided that they should leave because he couldn't bring himself to kill people over this—and he didn't want to take the opportunity away for couples who really wanted it.

~~

The thing was, John used to want kids.

As a young man he'd imagined riding out with his kids, climbing trees, taking them on a plane ride. His interest in men hadn't stopped that, because back then he'd figured he was bisexual and his relationships with guys or women never got to the point where family planning was something he'd even consider.

Then there'd been Nancy. He thought she was the one he'd spent the rest of his life with. They'd agreed not to have kids straight away, and before either of them had ever brought it up again, their marriage had ended.

Since then John had had the vague feeling that he'd like to be a father some day, but as he got older and realized that he was gay, he'd gotten used to the idea that it probably wasn't going to happen.

But even if he still wanted kids, being a father and having a baby as a man were two completely different things. It just wasn't normal and the uncomfortable pressure in his stomach reminded him of it every second of the day.

He knew that they wouldn't be given access to the machine again if they revisited the planet now, and he couldn't bring himself to order an attack on these people, so his only hope was that Keller found a way to fix him.

~~

The moment he saw Keller's face he knew that there wouldn't be an easy solution.

"There are a few options," she said carefully.

"Let's start with the best," he said.

"I'm not sure you can easily qualify them as good or bad," Keller said. "The main problem is that the machine reprogrammed your body to be able to carry a baby. It didn't just change your body, it essentially rewrote your DNA so that your body now considers this normal."

"Well, it isn't," John said. "Besides, I can feel it. All the time. How can that be considered normal?"

"You are right, it isn't normal, but your body treats it as normal. The machine is supposed to be used with the express purpose of carrying a child. Immediately. I believe as soon as inception occurs, the body will adjust to make room for the baby as it would for a female pregnancy, which will alleviate some of the pressure. The state your body is in now was not meant to last."

"And I sure hope it doesn't. So what are my options?" John asked.

"The most obvious one would be to perform an operation to remove the uterus and undo the other changes the machine performed," Keller said.

"So what's the problem?" John asked, because her face said pretty clearly that there was one.

"The problem is that we're talking about an extremely difficult operation. I have tried to look at the changes to your body in detail and I'm not sure I have fully tracked everything. This operation would be dangerous and would require several highly qualified surgeons. We could find those surgeons with the help of the SGC, but I also fear that since your DNA has been altered that your body will re-act in unpredictable ways to the changes," Keller said. "The best case scenario is that you'll have to take hormones all your life and be otherwise fine."

"And the worst case scenario?" John asked.

"It could be that the Ancient reprogramming is done in a way that it will work around what it sees as mutilation and regrow another uterus, maybe in a way that's even more uncomfortable or even dangerous," Keller said.

"Okay," John said, taking a deep breath. "You said something about several options."

"Right," Keller said. "The changes to your body are not dangerous to you. So instead of an operation that tries to surgically undo the changes, we could try treatments that make it more comfortable for you to live with them."

"Do nothing?" John asked. "You grounded me!"

"Well, that is standard procedure and you did say you felt a constant discomfort," Jennifer said. "We could see if your body naturally adjusts to the change or even do a minor surgery to either decrease the size of the uterus or give it more space. You would still have to take hormones, and you'd have to take measures to prevent inception though we could also do this surgically, then you and Rodney could," she faltered for a second, "you could continue your sex life as before."

John hoped he wasn't blushing. It was bad enough that she knew, but it really didn't make it better that she'd had a sex life with Rodney not too long ago. Which wasn't really the topic at hand, of course. "So these are my options?" John asked. "A possibly life-threatening operation or leaving this thing inside me and just learn to live with it?"

"There is another option," Keller said carefully.

John didn't get his hopes up since Keller looked decidedly uncomfortable.

She took a deep breath. "Actually, this might be the most straight-forward solution, however I do not know if it would work."

"Can it kill me?" John asked.

"No, as a matter of fact it's quite low risk. There would be no negative consequences if it doesn't work," Keller said.

Which sounded pretty good to John. "So what is it, doc?"

"The machine changes your body for the duration and aftermath of one pregnancy. Both the Ancient text and the Sattek have indicated that a man can undergo the procedure more than once by visiting the Temple of Life again. Which means that the changes will revert some time after the baby is born. What we don't know is what happens if the baby is not carried to term. It is possible that inception itself or the implementation of the embryo in the uterus or another point during the pregnancy triggers a successful attempt and as such would cause a reversal after the termination of the pregnancy."

"You mean have an abortion," John said.

"Yes," Keller said. "I'm not sure how likely it is that it would undo the changes, since they are meant to last at least through the pregnancy. It is more likely that a successful attempt will be registered at birth, but I have no way of verifying it, and this option would be comparatively quick and easy to try."

"If getting pregnant in order to have an abortion doesn't bother you," John couldn't help saying.

"I'm sorry. I meant in terms of time and medical risk. I would never under normal circumstances recommend anyone doing this," Keller said.

"I know, doc. I didn't mean— Thank you for telling me my options," John said. "There aren't any more, are there?"

"Well, there is one that's relatively risk free and guaranteed successful," Keller said wryly. At his frown, she said, "Have a baby."

"Of course. Not sure how I could forget that," John said.

"It must be hard to take in. I'm sorry that you weren't more successful with the Sattek. And I wish I could offer you better options," Keller said.

"I know," John said, smiling at her. She'd done her best, and what she could do for him was still a lot better than what a normal doctor on Earth would be able to do. Even if it didn't really make things easier for him at the moment.

"Just think about it. The one good thing is that we do not need to rush. Talk to Rodney," Keller suggested, "or anyone else whom you'd like to get advice from. If you need anything from me, let me know. I can give you mild painkillers against the discomfort. Try to relax if you can."

John took a deep breath. That was a big if. "Okay. Thank you. I'll let you know when I made my decision."

Keller nodded and smiled at him.

~~

He wasn't going to talk to Rodney. At least not immediately. Rodney didn't know the meaning of subtlety, so whatever he thought of John's options, he wasn't likely to hold back his opinion of it.

And John felt he needed to know what he wanted before telling Rodney. The problem was he had no idea.

He wasn't convinced that the 'do nothing' approach would really sufficiently deal with it. He still felt the changes to his body all the time and it was not only a distraction, the constant discomfort was likely to take its toll eventually, physically and psychologically. The strains of his job required him to be in top form. Otherwise he risked his own life and that of others.

The operation at least would only risk his own life, but John wasn't especially keen on doing that unless it was absolutely necessary.

The other two options...

John still couldn't imagine having a baby. It wasn't even necessarily the part where he would carry the baby in his own body, even though that still freaked him out. It was the impact it would have on his life. If he'd been in a relationship with a man for a long time and his partner were open to the idea of having children, in short if the main reason for not having children would have been that they couldn't naturally conceive, John would probably get over the freaking out pretty quickly and take the chance of a lifetime.

However, he wasn't.

John wasn't entirely sure what Rodney's stance on children was in heterosexual relationships. He didn't know if Rodney had ever discussed it with Keller when they were still together.

He did know that Rodney tended to be annoyed by children rather than charmed in general. But he also knew that Rodney was very fond of Torren and Madison, and even if he could be awkward with them at times, they seemed to love him.

None of this really mattered, though, because he and Rodney were in no way at a point in their relationship where talking about having a child together was remotely appropriate.

Hell, John wasn't even sure if they were exclusive at this point. He wasn't having sex with anyone else and wasn't planning to, and he thought that Rodney wasn't either, but they hadn't actually talked about it.

What had happened was really simply that one night fighting for dominance over the remote control had taken a sharp turn into sex, and after Rodney's declaration that they should have done this a lot sooner they hadn't stopped having sex.

That had been the extent of their "relationship" so far. Well, that and years of the most important friendship in John's life, but you usually didn't ask even your best friend to have a baby with you.

And even if that were thinkable in their relationship, it simply wasn't in their situation. The SGC wouldn't allow him to raise a child in Atlantis, which was essentially still a military outpost even if under civilian leadership, and he wouldn't want to if he could. He would want to spend time with his son or daughter, which meant leaving the Air Force entirely or at least finding an arrangement that would allow him to not leave them in the care of a nanny except in special circumstances. He didn't want to be like his father had been.

Going back to Earth was the only option if he kept the baby, and if he carried it to term, he couldn't imagine giving it away.

He couldn't ask Rodney to come with him, so he would have to return as a single father. He would have to give up Atlantis and whatever chance he had with Rodney to develop their relationship into one that deserved that description.

John hadn't thought that his feelings for Rodney would ever have a chance of being reciprocated, but with the sex in addition to their friendship, he now believed that his dreams might come true after all.

He didn't want to give up that chance. He didn't want to give up Atlantis. He didn't want to give up his life.

Which left the "quick and easy" option, even if there was a good chance it wouldn't work.

John was Catholic, but he didn't presume to know better than a pregnant woman what to do with her body. He respected a woman's right to choose.

But purposefully trying to become pregnant with the intent to abort simply felt wrong on a completely different level than having an abortion would have, had the machine induced one in him against his will.

~~

John still hadn't come to any conclusion when Rodney came to his room that evening. "Look, I'm still not really in the mood."

"I wasn't here because—" Rodney began, but stopped. "Jennifer asked if you'd talked to me," he said instead.

John's jaw clenched. "She had no right to tell you."

"She didn't tell me anything. She just asked if you'd talked to me. Is there... It's nothing bad, is it?" Rodney asked.

John's expression softened when he saw the worry in Rodney's face. He could practically see the wheels turning in Rodney's brain, thinking up scenarios where the uterus became life-threatening and killed him in horrible ways. "Depends," John said. "There's no easy fix most probably. An operation would be difficult and dangerous."

"How dangerous?" Rodney asked.

"Possibly life-threatening, but—"

"What? Then let's just go back to P3X-156," Rodney suggested. "We don't have to ask them to get the machine. And if we just take the cloaked jumper they might not even notice if we take it, so we won't have to kill anyone."

"Rodney, I won't take the machine from them. There are couples coming from all over the Pegasus galaxy to have a chance to have a child together. I can't take that away from them," John said.

"So you'll just risk your own life instead?" Rodney asked, clearly not agreeing with John's priorities.

"There might be another way. A simple way," John said.

"There's got to be a catch," Rodney said.

"It might not work," John said. "But it's worth a shot. Keller suggests to kick-start the whole process and then...terminate the pregnancy and hope that the changes will revert after the failed attempt."

Rodney just looked at him for a long moment. John had no idea what he was thinking. Then Rodney said as if discussing dinner plans, "That sounds reasonable. I mean it's a very low risk alternative to a life-threatening operation. With a bit of luck this could be done with and over in two weeks or so. Let's do it."

John was a bit surprised by Rodney's quick analysis of something he'd mulled over all day.

Rodney stepped into his personal space, and smiled seductively. "Hey," he said, putting one hand on John's hip and pulling him closer.

John was momentarily distracted by Rodney's proximity. When Rodney kissed him, he responded without thinking.

Rodney kissed along his jaw to his ear and whispered, "Let's make a baby."

John froze, remembering what he was going to do, and that he hadn't really gotten to a point where he felt comfortable with his decision. Or had actually made one. Although he knew that trying this was the most rational choice. It was the scenario with the lowest risk and highest reward. He shouldn't even have to think about this. Maybe it was a good thing that Rodney had come and stopped him from over thinking this.

"Sorry," Rodney said, pulling away awkwardly.

"It's okay," John said, kissing him again. He let Rodney lead him to the bed, and they just kissed for a while. John never got tired of kissing Rodney.

But when Rodney started undressing him, John tensed. "It's going to be fine," Rodney—of all people—said. "We'll fix this."

John nodded and got out of his shirt, but when Rodney kissed down his stomach, he couldn't help imagining a baby in there. He tried to shake the thought, concentrating on the feeling of Rodney touching him.

He loved Rodney touching him, loved it when Rodney slid his hand into his boxers and stroked him. But today, he couldn't think about anything but Rodney fucking him. He loved that too, more than just about anything, but right now he could only think about the fact that Rodney would come inside him and they'd make a freaking baby. And no matter how many times he told himself that it was just a bunch of cells, the idea of killing what could become their baby made his whole innards tense until it hurt.

Rodney tried to soothe him, but John pulled his hand out of his boxers. "I can't," he said. He got out of the bed, redid his pants and pulled on his shirt. "I'm sorry." Then he fled his own room.

~~

John let Atlantis take him to a random uninhabited part of the city.

He just couldn't stop thinking about the baby that could grow in him. He imagined feeling that life in his body, and then he imagined the baby in his arms. Big curious blue eyes. How smart their kid would be.

He wanted that.

Especially if it was Rodney's. He couldn't imagine having anyone else's child. But to have a child that was part him and part Rodney...he wanted it so badly it hurt. Or maybe that was just the damn uterus.

He was so screwed.

The idea of having a baby was still freaking him out, but he knew that he had to do it. He wanted to do it. He had the chance of a lifetime here. He could have a child with the man he loved. He had to do it.

Even at the price of losing him. He could imagine Rodney's face when John told him what he wanted. Rodney had mentioned several times how convenient being with John was. He'd miss that. And John's friendship. And John still felt the loss of having to give up his chance to see how their relationship would have developed.

But he wanted this child. Their child.

Rodney would stay in touch with them probably. Maybe he'd even come after them eventually. John could imagine him wanting to make sure his kid got the right education. He loved to imagine them as a family, even though he had to admit it was unlikely. And he wouldn't force this on Rodney.

Under no circumstances did John want to push Rodney into a relationship that he wasn't ready for. Either with himself or his child. He would never want Rodney to do something that he'd regret. Most of all, he didn't want Rodney to resent him or their child.

He didn't want Rodney to be with them out of responsibility. He would want Rodney to choose them out of love, just like John had made his choice out of love. Because he had made that choice, John realized. He wanted their baby. But he knew that he couldn't expect the same of Rodney at this point of their relationship.

He was going to have to make sure that Rodney knew that when he asked him to be the father of his baby.

~~

Rodney wasn't there when John returned to his room, and that was probably for the best. Even though he felt comfortable with his decision, the consequences were so enormous that it wouldn't hurt to sleep a night over it.

When John woke up, he hadn't changed his mind. He wanted to have a child with Rodney if Rodney was up to that.

John avoided the mess for breakfast and went to Keller instead to confirm that going through with a pregnancy would not be prohibitively risky. She hid her surprise quickly and told him that he was in a very good condition in general and that the changes to his body had been done to ensure a safe pregnancy with the health of both father and baby in mind.

John told her that he wasn't sure yet if he would have a baby and that he'd only wanted to know his options. He didn't want her to say something to Rodney, in case Rodney didn't want to be a father.

John waited until after he knew Rodney had been to breakfast and then went to see him in his lab.

"Hey," Rodney said, getting up when John came in. "I'm sorry about yesterday. I shouldn't have...This must be difficult for you, and I...wish I knew how to make it easier."

"It's not your fault. In the end, I was the one who activated the machine," John said. He wondered if subconsciously he'd known what it did and activated it on purpose. Not that it mattered at this point.

"We could still go back and try to 'borrow' it. We could return it afterward," Rodney said.

"You could undo this without damaging the machine?" John asked.

"Well, I probably—" Rodney began, but John interrupted him.

"I won't take any chances with this machine, Rodney. And I've made a decision. I'll have the baby," John said.

"You mean get pregnant without an abortion," Rodney said, sounding as if he needed the clarification.

"Just what the machine was built for," John confirmed.

"What will you do with the baby?" Rodney asked, frowning in confusion.

John snorted. "Raise it," he said.

"Oh," Rodney said.

John dropped his gaze for a second. "I'm sorry," he said. Then he looked up at Rodney. "Look, I'm not happy about this. Actually, in a way I am. I wanted kids most of my life. But I'm not happy about leaving Atlantis. Or you."

Rodney stared at him. "Leaving," he said faintly.

"I can't raise our child here. And I know you're...we're not... our relationship isn't... God, it's just been three months. Even if I were a woman, a baby would be last thing on our minds, and I'm okay with that. I...I don't expect anything from you. Well, except...being his or her father. If it can even be a her. I'm not sure how sophisticated the machine is," John trailed off.

Rodney still didn't say a word, staring at him.

"I should probably give you some time to think about it," John said.

When Rodney remained quiet, John gave him a quick understanding smile and left.

~~

John tried to distract himself with work after talking to Rodney.

He didn't see him at lunch. Teyla asked if there were any developments in his condition.

"I'm still considering my options," John said. He didn't want to tell her before Rodney had made up his mind.

"Whatever you decide, we will support you," Teyla said.

"I know," John said, giving her a smile.

John didn't see Rodney at lunch either, and he was beginning to worry. A part of him had hoped that Rodney wouldn't have to think about it, that he'd be proud and happy that John chose him as the father of his child. Other father. This was going to take some getting used to.

He could imagine Rodney being proud of his child. He could imagine him tender and loving and without a doubt that he wanted John and their baby. He could imagine it far too well, but he had to stop because fantasizing would only hurt him when the reality turned out to be different.

John needed to be prepared for Rodney's rejection, sorrowful as he would be. And even if he was willing the have a baby with John, it might well be nothing more than a favor to a good friend.

Rodney eventually knocked on his door that evening.

John let him in, trying to stay calm. "You thought about my suggestion?" he asked.

"Suggestion?" Rodney asked. "You sounded like you'd made up your mind."

"I wasn't planning on forcing you," John said.

"No, I... Of course, you wouldn't. But it's not as if you wouldn't have other options," Rodney said, swallowing.

Actually John hadn't. He didn't think he could do this with another man's baby. He didn't want this with anyone else. But he didn't say anything because he wasn't sure if that would put more pressure on Rodney.

"I'd be honored to be your child's father," Rodney said formally.

Honored. Though he didn't look particularly happy, John couldn't help notice. "Are you sure?" John asked. "I don't want you to feel as if you have to do this for me."

"I want it to be my baby," Rodney said. "I mean, just imagine how smart he'll be. And attractive. And a scientific miracle. Though I suppose you wouldn't tell him that."

You. Not we. John tried not to be disappointed. It didn't have to mean anything. And he'd told Rodney that he didn't expect anything from him. The only thing worse than giving him no choice would be to do so while pretending that he had one. "Probably not," John agreed.

There was a silence, and John wasn't sure if it was an uncomfortable or a comfortable one. "So, I guess..." he said.

"Now?" Rodney asked.

"Unless you don't want to," John said.

"No, I...I want to," Rodney said coming closer. "I always want to," he said, gaze dipping to John's lips before moving back up to his eyes.

John smiled at him and pulled Rodney in his arms.

"Let's make a baby," Rodney said.

John laughed. "You really like that idea, huh?"

"I can't help it. Must be genetic or something," Rodney said, pushing his growing erection against John's.

"All right then. Fill me with your baby making juice," John said roughly.

Rodney raised an eyebrow. "On second thought, maybe let's stick with less talking and more doing."

John laughed, then pulled Rodney into a deep, dirty kiss. When he came up for air, he moved back towards the bed, pulling Rodney with him. "Come on, you big stud. Let's make a baby."

Rodney moaned and followed John.

~~

John couldn't help a few jokes about sending Rodney's little swimmers on a mission or to fill him up with his seed. It was priceless to see Rodney exasperated and turned on by it at all at the same time.

And John had to admit he found it a bit hot himself. It was the kind of thing you saw in horrible gay porn, but the two of them were actually making a baby.

When Rodney collapsed on him and moved to the side, his hand ran down John's chest to his stomach, spreading his come around. He stopped his hand above John's uterus and let it rest there.

He gave John a serious look, then moved to kiss John's stomach.

John closed his eyes. He didn't want to lose this. Rodney could be amazing. It hurt to know that he might have to give him up in less than a year. But he also thought about the fact that right there beneath Rodney's lips, a bunch of cells could soon start to divide and grow and become their baby.

He stroked Rodney's hair and pulled him into a kiss. For the next few months at least, he'd have both Rodney and their growing child.

~~

John wasn't sure if they'd be successful the first time. He certainly would have no problem to keep trying.

He didn't feel any different the next morning. His uterus was still putting pressure on his innards in weird ways, but it still didn't hurt, and Keller thought that it would get better once his body adjusted to the pregnancy.

He was going to have to tell people about his decision soon. Teyla and Ronon deserved to know. On a personal level, John would have preferred not to tell anyone else until Keller was sure that things were progressing as they should, but since his decision would keep him grounded until his departure, it would make sense to assign a new leader to his team, and Woolsey would want to know about his progress. They'd have to find a replacement for John after all.

But his first stop was the infirmary.

"Colonel," Keller greeted him cheerfully. Then she became more serious. "Have you made a decision?"

"Yes," he said.

"You're going to have a baby," she said, a smile tugging on her face.

"Yes," John said, smiling as well. "I hope so," he added, putting a hand on his stomach.

Keller dropped her gaze to his stomach, then looked back at his face. "You and Rodney have... I mean, I assume that..."

"Yes," John said. "Rodney's the father. Other father. I mean if it already... You said you could check even now?"

"Yes," she said, walking over to the diagnosis machine.

He obediently lay down.

Keller activated a few buttons and scanned the monitor. Then her eyes widened and a smile spread on her face. She turned the monitor towards him, pointing at a little blob of two cells. "Congratulations, John."

John stared at the monitor and...he couldn't call it his baby at this point. It was really just a pair of cells, but nine months from now they'd be a little human being that he and Rodney had made.

Jennifer squeezed his arm. "I'm happy for you. Both of you."

"I..." John had a hard time tearing his gaze away, but managed to look at her. "Thank you."

~~

Jennifer printed out a scan of his bunch of cells, and John had to force himself not to skip through Atlantis. On the one hand, pregnancy—wanted ones at least—seemed to be an understandable reason for such a display of happiness. On the other hand he was still—and would be for the next months—the commanding officer of the base, so he tried not to overdo it.

He was so happy that he felt now was probably a good time to tell Woolsey.

Woolsey was visibly surprised by the news. "I thought this machine was to allow a man to have children with another man," he said. Then, apparently realizing the implied question in his statement, he added, "I'm sorry, Colonel, your private life is obviously none of my business. I only meant in general."

"Yes, that's what the machine does," John said.

Woolsey nodded. "Congratulations, Colonel. I hope that your pregnancy will develop without incidents and that we can soon welcome a new member of the expedition."

"It'll still be a while," John said. "And not for long," he added.

"You plan to leave us?" Woolsey asked.

"I don't think Atlantis is the right place to raise a kid. Even Torren spends much time with the Athosians. Kids need other kids around them. And I...I want to take extended leave to take care of my child," John said.

"I understand, Colonel," Woolsey said. After a moment of hesitation, he added, "Will you be the only one who leaves us?"

John knew exactly what he was asking without trying to. "As far as I know, my child and I will be the only ones. But I will let you know if that changes."

Woolsey nodded.

~~

After walking to his office, John started thinking about a suitable replacement for himself on their team.

He could ask Lorne to take over. He was a good team leader and would work well together with the others, but he had his own established team, and John didn't feel good about splitting them up.

He would have to talk to Lorne anyway about the changes. Maybe he could simply present it as one of several options and see what Lorne thought.

The alternative would be to promote Teyla to team leader. She certainly had the experience and abilities to lead their team. They'd only need a fourth man in that case, a marine to back them up.

John decided to talk to Teyla about it. He had to tell her the good news anyway.

He found Teyla meditating in one of the gyms. He sat down next to her and tried to relax, but he was too excited to even keep still.

Eventually Teyla turned to him, looking amused. "Is there something you wish to tell me, John?"

"I'm pregnant," he blurted out.

Her eyes lit up. "John. I am so happy for you," she said. "And Rodney?" she added.

"Yes, it's Rodney's baby," John said. "It's our baby."

"I did not know that you considered this option," she said with just a hint of curiosity.

"Yeah, I...didn't really know either until I realized that this is what I want," John admitted.

Teyla smiled at him, but there was a slight frown on her face. "You do not look entirely happy. Is there a danger to the baby or you?"

"No," John said. "I mean, I guess a pregnancy is never without risk, but there is no reason why anything should go wrong."

"I am glad to hear it," Teyla said.

"But I won't be able to go out on missions while I'm pregnant and after the birth I'll...return to Earth," John said.

Teyla took that in for a moment before saying calmly, "While it saddens me to see you go, I can understand your decision. You should be able to be with your people. You and your child and Rodney. I hope that we will still have the opportunity to see each other. Maybe we could visit you with Torren, or you could return to Atlantis for a visit."

"Uhm, about Rodney," John said. "He's not...coming with me."

"Why not?" Teyla asked.

"I couldn't ask this of him. He didn't sign up for this. It was my decision," John tried to explain.

"I assume he was somehow involved in getting you with child," Teyla said.

John flushed, remembering the previous night. "Well, yes, but...we've only been together for a few months. And we haven't really..." He faltered. There was no way he was going to try to explain to Teyla that they'd been fuck buddies more than anything else. "I cannot ask him to give up Atlantis because of this. It was my mistake and my decision. I am happy that he was willing to be the baby's father. I can't ask more of him."

"You may not ask it of him, but I think you will be surprised to learn what Rodney is willing to give to you," Teyla said.

"If that's how he feels I'll be happy to go back to Earth with him. But I don't want him to do this because he feels responsible," John said.

"I am sure Rodney will consider what is best for all of you," Teyla said.

John only nodded.

~~

Ronon took the news in his typically casual way. "You'll be a good father," he said. "Don't know about McKay, though," he added.

"You know?" John asked.

"I've known you for five years. Never seen you this happy. I figured you finally made a move on him," Ronon said.

John didn't quite know what to say. He hadn't known that Ronon suspected his feelings for Rodney. And he hadn't had any idea that he appeared any different after starting the thing with Rodney. He wondered what it would have looked like if it had been a real relationship, before dismissing the thought.

"I'm not gonna be able to go on missions anymore, and after the baby is here, I'll go back to Earth with him or her. So...I won't be part of the team anymore," John said. He wasn't sure how Ronon would take the news.

Ronon nodded. "Family comes first," he said. "Want me to join another team?"

John shook his head. "You, Teyla, and McKay should stay together. I've talked with her about it. She can lead the team. We'll try to find another marine."

Ronon looked at him. "McKay's not going with you?" he asked.

John dropped his gaze for a second, before looking up again. "We'll see," he decided on answering.

~~

It was only after he'd left Ronon that it occurred to John that he hadn't told Rodney the news yet. He knew about the important things, of course. That John was going to have a baby and leave, but still he should know that they'd managed on the first try.

The Ancients who'd invented the machine had really done their homework, John had to admit. Except for the part where they could have made it clearer what the machine did. A little pictogram could have prevented all of this from happening.

Thinking of his little bunch of cells, John was grateful that they hadn't been clear enough for him to know better. He never would have dared to make this choice consciously. At least not now. And who knew how long it would have taken him and Rodney to come to a point in their relationship that John would have even allowed himself to think about this.

John walked into Rodney's lab, finding him frowning at the computer screen. "Hey," he said, prepared to have to lure Rodney away from the screen.

But Rodney turned around immediately. "Hey," he said. His gaze turned down John's chest to his stomach as if he expected to see something there.

"You know, even if my body changes sooner than a woman's would, it's gonna take more than half a day," John said.

Rodney gaped, eyes snapping back up to him. Then a wide smile spread on Rodney's face. He looked positively radiant.

John held his breath for a second because he hadn't expected Rodney to be so...happy. He had to shake himself to gain his composure. Then he thought of the scan that Jennifer had made. He hadn't planned to show it to anyone because you couldn't really see anything, but after seeing Rodney's reaction, he pulled the scan out of his shirt pocket.

Rodney took the scan. "Clearly, a very good-looking zygote," he said. John wasn't sure if he was teasing John or actually proud.

"I know you can't really see much," John said.

"You can see two cells," Rodney said, giving him a look, but then he smiled again. "But it's our two cells."

John didn't dare to speak, so he nodded.

Rodney got up from the chair. He looked at the scan again. "We're going to have a baby."

"I know," John said. They didn't initiate anything outside of their quarters usually, but he couldn't help it. He had to lean forward to kiss Rodney.

Rodney returned the kiss eagerly. He put one hand on John's stomach.

"Nothing to feel yet," John said, between kisses.

"You," Rodney said, his voice deep and breathy. "Want to feel you."

Now John remembered why they didn't initiate things outside their quarters. They just couldn't keep their hands off each other. "Okay," he said, unable to stop kissing Rodney. "Should go...somewhere."

Rodney snorted. "Very eloquent."

"Fuck me," John countered, pressing his growing erection against Rodney.

Rodney groaned.

~~

For the first month John didn't even notice his pregnancy all that much.

Keller had been right. His body had started to expand a bit. It wasn't really necessary for his bunch of cells—as he still fondly called them in his mind—but it made things a bit more comfortable for him.

You couldn't really see it in the mirror without looking closely. But John noticed when he sucked in his breath.

"See?" he asked Rodney to show him.

Rodney came close to cup his stomach. "Now breathe," he said.

John glared at him and exhaled, making his stomach expand to normal size.

"That's more like it. You're not that skinny. They'll notice soon enough, don't worry," Rodney said.

John sighed. "It's not even my bunch of cells at this point. It's just the uterus that's moved a bit."

"Want to have sex?" Rodney asked. John had half-joked once that he really only completely forgot about the pressure in his innards when they had sex and Rodney was blowing his mind.

John looked at his watch. It was just before dinner. "Let's go to the mess first," he said.

"You know I'm always at your service," Rodney said suggestively. He stepped closer to John, nearly making him change his mind about dinner, then walked past him with a grin.

Their relationship hadn't really changed.

Rodney sometimes directed his tenderness towards John's stomach now, kissing him there in particular, but Rodney had been tender with him even before John had touched the machine.

Their sex had always been a wonderful mix of fun, passion, tenderness, and the occasional moment where John really felt that what they were doing meant something.

But as before they didn't stay the night, there weren't any declarations of love, and no promises were made.

The first one however changed when John started to have morning sickness and found out that it really would be more appropriately named the-whole-damn-day-long sickness.

Thankfully he didn't have to actually vomit all that much, but he felt nauseous from all kinds of smells or even just sitting too long.

Keller suggested to him to lie down and to avoid the food that made him nauseous and the mess in general. Thankfully Teyla had some good recipes that tasted basically like nothing, but at least didn't make him vomit.

Rodney checked in on him frequently and set up a monitor in his room, so that he could play video games when he got bored, lying around. Though he couldn't play anything that made him even vaguely motion sick.

When he realized that giving blow jobs also triggered nausea, he was ready to cry.

"Hey, it's okay," Rodney said, full of understanding.

"I hate this," John said with feeling.

"No, you don't," Rodney said, sitting up and putting an arm around him. "Well, this, but not having a baby. Or do you?"

John shook his head. He still wanted his little bunch of cells to turn into a baby, but god, he could really do without feeling sick all the time. Especially when he had sex with Rodney.

Keller had warned him that his sex drive might be affected, but so far they hadn't noticed anything of that. He still was crazy about Rodney, which made it even harder that he couldn't suck his beautiful—John jumped up and ran into the bathroom to throw up.

When he was done, Rodney was behind him with a wash cloth and a glass of water. John gratefully rinsed and cooled his face while Rodney stroked his back.

They went back to bed. "We don't have to...tonight," Rodney said.

John leaned his head on Rodney's shoulder. "Let me give you a hand job at least," he said, wrapping his hand around Rodney's soft dick.

"If you insist," Rodney said.

John had to grin. At least Rodney didn't play the martyr. John was worried that he'd been trying Rodney's patience far too much already.

It was nice to jerk Rodney off while kissing his shoulder, chest, neck. He made beautiful noises, and John would never get tired of hearing Rodney call out his name breathlessly.

He even got hard himself, and thankfully at least he didn't get nauseous getting blow jobs as long as he didn't think too much, which was pretty impossible once Rodney did his best to suck his brain out.

"Thank you," John said when he was capable of speech again.

"It's the least I can do," Rodney said, settling down next to John, his hand moving to John's stomach.

John smiled happily and closed his eyes.

"I could stay in case you feel sick again," Rodney suggested.

John opened his eyes. He wasn't entirely sure if Rodney was trying to be helpful or if he actually wanted to stay with John, just as John wished he would. "I might get up in the middle of the night," he warned.

"That's okay. I'm a heavy sleeper. And you can wake me up when you need something. I'm at your service as your own personal pain medication," Rodney said.

John snorted. Now he wondered if Rodney just saw a chance to have more sex and combine that with making John feel better. It was a win-win scenario after all. Either way, he wasn't going to say no to the offer. "It's going to be a tight fit," John said, looking down the tiny Atlantis bed.

"Just lie the way you feel most comfortable, and I'll see what'll work best," Rodney said. "Unless you'd be more comfortable alone," he added, sounding uncertain.

"No," John said hastily. "Sounds like a good idea."

"So? Do you want to lie on your side?" Rodney asked.

"No, this is fine," John said, putting his arm around Rodney.

"Then maybe you could move just a bit," Rodney said, pointing at the narrow slip of free space that was on John's other side.

John moved over with a grin. There was no way they'd comfortably sleep here together. Which made it all the more sweet that Rodney had offered. John hoped that it wouldn't be so bad that Rodney would return to his own room. He'd love to wake up next to him at least once.

~~

Considering the size of the standard Atlantean beds, they actually slept quite well. John felt almost like a normal human being that morning. Rodney's face was mashed into the pillow, and he didn't stir when John reluctantly got up to go to the bathroom.

When he returned, Rodney had moved to the center of the bed. John smiled. He wrote Rodney a note that he was going to go on his morning run with Ronon and be back.

He no longer did this every day, but he tried to when he felt up to it, and Ronon was always happy to see him.

They went for a long round, and Ronon didn't go easy on him though John kept running at his own pace, simply letting Ronon wait for him every now and then.

When he returned, Rodney was still asleep. John wondered if coffee would wake him up. Which wasn't a good idea, because suddenly he felt nauseous again. Just great. He sat down on the sofa, hoping it would pass.

On the bed, Rodney stirred. He opened his eyes and looked around, before his eyes settled on John. He smiled. Then his eyes narrowed. "Are you all right?"

"So-so," John said, putting a hand on his stomach.

"Can I get you something? Maybe a coffee?" Rodney offered.

"Really not," John said emphatically, making a face.

"I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't drink coffee any longer," Rodney said.

"Could you stop talking about..." John gestured.

"Sorry," Rodney said, sitting up. "Is there anything I could do for you?" he asked, pushing the blanket down until it exposed his half-hard cock.

John had to admit that Rodney was the best medication against his nausea by far.

~~

John enjoyed sleeping in the same bed as Rodney, though it wasn't really the most comfortable. He knew that Rodney felt the same though he didn't say anything.

At least not to John. As it turned out, Rodney spoke to Teyla about finding them a bigger bed. He would have even talked to Woolsey about bigger quarters but at least he'd learned his lesson from what had happened with Keller and asked John first, this time.

"So, I was thinking we could get bigger quarters—and especially a bigger bed. Teyla said she can organize one, and I've found suitable quarters that aren't far from a transporter," Rodney said one morning after giving John a blow job and jerking off on him.

John was still enjoying the afterglow, so it took him a moment to process Rodney's words. Rodney wanted him to move into bigger quarters. No, Rodney wanted them to move into bigger quarters. "You want to move in with me?" John asked.

"I'm sleeping here every night," Rodney said, as if it was the same thing.

Maybe it was to Rodney. And maybe it was in general. John didn't want to read anything into it, but it felt like it was at least a little deal if not a big one. "We'll have to tell Woolsey."

"I know," Rodney said. "I would have talked to him, but I wasn't sure if you'd be okay with that. It's not as if he doesn't know you've been sleeping with a guy. And I'm sure he can guess who it is."

Rodney made it sound as if John was trying to hide something. Which John realized was true. There'd been no reason to volunteer that information, but it occurred to John that now that he was no longer on Rodney's team, there was no longer a reason to hide their relationship. "You'd be okay with him knowing?" he asked.

"He'll know sooner or later anyway," Rodney asked.

"Why?" John could help asking. If Rodney didn't go with him back to Earth—and he never mentioned anything about it—there was no reason for anyone to know for sure that Rodney was the father of his child, even if they guessed it.

"It's my child," Rodney said. "It'll be in the paperwork, and I want to be with you when he or she is born. I already asked Jennifer if I could stay when she does the Cesarean. Do you want people to not know that I'm the father?" He asked the last with a slight hurt in his voice.

"No," John immediately said. "They can know. I just thought maybe you..." he trailed off. He didn't want to bring up that Rodney had only agreed to be the father because John had asked him to. He didn't want to make Rodney feel as if he wasn't the real father of the baby. Quite the opposite.

Rodney sat up. "I didn't make the decision lightly, John," he said.

John nodded. He remembered that it had taken Rodney a bit to agree.

"And I'm proud of what you're doing. I don't think I could have done it," Rodney added, making John flush.

"So you said something about a bigger bed?"

~~

The hormones that caused his morning sickness had other effects too. John didn't have to shave as often, which was fine by him, but he also felt more emotional, which made him really uncomfortable.

One day he nearly started crying when Teyla talked about the time after Torren had been born when Kanaan struggled with the effects of his time in captivity.

Teyla still was certain that Rodney would go with him when he left. John asked if Rodney had talked to her, but she said she knew Rodney well enough to know this.

John also worried about Rodney when he was on missions. It was more than the general worry for any of his teams and more than the general worry about his friends. He wasn't sure if it was some biological thing to be especially anxious for the father of his child, or if it was one of the more subtle effects of the machine.

He could have asked their psychiatrist, but John was quite happy that Matthews had signed off on the healthiness of this pregnancy without much fuss and his worry for Rodney was thankfully not paralyzing nor particularly necessary.

Teyla and Ronon took good care of him, and the newest member of their team—a young lieutenant who was explosives expert and had the ATA gene—seemed to fit in quite well, even if she had to get used to the somewhat idiosyncratic ways of her new team mates.

Rodney hadn't complained about her nearly as much as about the others they'd tried, so John figured she was the right person for the team.

He still wished he could go out there with them. Not just because it might make him worry less about Rodney, but also because he missed being out there with his team.

Of course, he'd had to get used to this. It would be quite a while before he went on regular missions again, if at all. He still wasn't sure for how long he'd want to be a full-time parent. The SGC had granted his leave for a year. But it was hard to think beyond that if he didn't even know if he'd be a single parent.

He tried to assume that he would be. He didn't want to pressure Rodney. But he couldn't help hoping that Rodney's support during his pregnancy so far would extend to after their baby was born.

~~

As it turned out, even moving into shared quarters wasn't really outing them as a couple. Their slightly larger ones were in an area of Atlantis that wasn't inhabited by other Atlanteans, so there was nobody who could start wondering why they came out of the same room every morning. Which was okay with John. Sooner or later people would see that he was pregnant and he suspected it wouldn't take long after that, that they would put two and two together.

And Rodney was exceptionally obliging to John. He helped him through the morning sickness with sex, a glass of water, or simple moral support. He gave John massages when his body hurt. He even stopped drinking coffee in John's presence, which pretty much made him deserving of a sainthood.

When John went to the infirmary to have Keller check up on the baby, Rodney accompanied him unless he was needed at the lab.

"Everything is fine," Keller told them, reading the information of the scanner.

His little bunch of cells had taken form by now, even though they didn't look human yet.

"He has hands," Rodney pointed out.

"Yes," Keller said, smiling at him.

John still thought he detected a faint touch of bittersweetness from her when Rodney came in with him, but Keller never was anything but supportive, and she did seem genuinely happy for them and a bit excited about the prospect of this medical miracle.

"Do you want to know the sex of the baby?" she asked.

"How can you tell?" John asked looking at the blob on the screen. "There isn't even..." he vaguely gestured at the rump, which didn't even have discernible legs.

Jennifer laughed. "The scanner also checks the DNA," she said.

"Right," John said.

"So what is it?" Rodney asked. "Unless you don't want to know," he added, looking at John.

"I, uhm," John said. He hadn't expected to make this decision until much later.

"Or she could just tell me," Rodney suggested.

John gave him a look. "Because you could keep this a secret for more than three minutes when you'll say he or she."

Rodney frowned unhappily.

"Just tell us," John told Keller.

"Are you sure?" Keller asked.

"Yes, I'm sure," John said, reaching for Rodney's hand to squeeze it.

"Why wouldn't you want to know?" Rodney asked.

"It's fine," John said. "I just didn't expect it."

They turned to Keller, and she looked at John, then Rodney, before turning back to John. "It's a boy."

Rodney smiled widely.

John wasn't sure how to feel. He hadn't had any preference for a boy or a girl. But knowing that their son was growing inside him, made his bunch of cells feel just a bit more real.

~~

Their son's growth was astounding.

It felt like every week he rapidly came closer to being human shaped rather than a clump of cells, and John couldn't help the slight panic at that because he'd thought he'd still have time.

He was still a month away from entering the second trimester when his bunch of cells began to have little legs, but the most amazing thing was when Jennifer allowed them to hear his heartbeat for the first time.

John was entirely speechless when he heard the rapid thumping, while Rodney mumbled, "That's faster than mine," in awe.

Rodney was incredibly proud of their baby.

Occasionally, he'd put his hand on John's stomach and just grin, which made John feel both happy but also twisted his heart because it seemed so weird to imagine that Rodney would just let them both go after their son was born.

John was determined not to bring it up first, but it became increasingly harder because Rodney was so involved in his pregnancy, so visibly enthusiastic about their baby.

It wasn't even just his active involvement. Simply having Rodney around, working at his desk, while John lay in bed and read a book, gave John a feeling of being safe and at home.

Even though they'd never discussed their relationship since John became pregnant, it certainly felt as if it was a real one now.

John loved having sex with Rodney, but watching him yawn and scratch his ass as he sleepwalked into the bathroom was somehow just as intimate, and John didn't want to give it up.

~~

By the time the second trimester rolled around, John began to start feeling human again most of the time.

He ran with Ronon every morning and worked full-time again, prompting speculative looks from Lorne.

They hadn't made any announcements yet, so Lorne only knew that he was barred from off-world missions for the time being. His morning sickness had been a plausible reason for that, but right now he seemed to look more than healthy.

People gave him appreciative looks in the halls, making Rodney growl whenever he saw it. John always took the next possible opportunity to prove to Rodney that he didn't want anyone else.

And he was happily giving blow jobs again too.

Even the fact that their future was still nebulous didn't weigh as heavily on John. For now he managed to trust that they'd be a family in one way or another and that they'd be happy.

~~

John had kept checking the size of his stomach pretty much every morning and night since he became pregnant, though there hadn't been much change since the initial slight enlargement from the movement of the uterus.

"You really can't wait to start letting your pants out, huh?" Rodney joked one day. "How will you even get male maternity wear?"

Which was a fair enough point, but thankfully Ronon offered to change his clothes, prompting Rodney to ask, "So you'll have leather maternity wear?"

It felt like forever until even Rodney couldn't deny any longer that he was definitely showing.

John had always worn his shirts quite loosely, so it wasn't immediately visible to everyone, but John knew that he would have to tell people soon, or they'd start coming up with strange ideas—or even more strange than the current speculation about his status of being grounded.

Lorne was the first that John told.

His second in command looked surprised for a second, before he pulled himself together. "Congratulations, sir," he said, giving John a genuine smile. "To you and Dr. McKay," he added.

John raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. Lorne had never given a hint that he knew about their relationship. He knew that John had moved quarters, but John didn't think he knew that Rodney had too.

Later that night, he relayed Lorne's congratulations to Rodney who didn't seem surprised in the least, and instead asked, "So we're telling people now?"

"Uhm, well, I can't hide it any longer, and it's probably easier to just tell them the truth rather then let them speculate about," John rubbed his stomach. "Whom did you want to tell?"

"The scientists," Rodney said without thinking. "They noticed that something is up. I'd like to tell them the reason why I won't work as long and why I want to be able to leave the labs on short notice."

Want to be able, John repeated in his head. He'd noticed and appreciated how often Rodney checked in on him to see if he needed something, but he'd never really considered that Rodney had stopped actual work for that. Because he wanted to do this for John.

"Thank you," John said.

"Well, it's not really much, considering what you're going through," Rodney said. "I've felt pretty useless honestly, but if there's anything I can do to make this easier for you, I want to do it."

"You're not useless at all," John said, pulling Rodney close into a kiss and walking backwards toward the bed.

~~

The thing with scientists was that if you told a handful something, it spread from them to the whole base in proportion to how interesting the topic was, and the male commanding officer expecting a baby by the chief science officer must have broken a record.

John couldn't walk ten feet without someone congratulating him and looking at his stomach. Even hiding in his office didn't help because people found reasons to talk to him and then took the chance to congratulate—and stare.

When he overheard plans for a baby shower, John decided that escape was the only option so he hid in an unoccupied region of the city in an empty lab.

This was...too much. He enjoyed the heartfelt congratulations of people he was close to, but he'd never wanted this to become a public event. People looked at him and what was worse, he could practically see in their eyes that they wanted to reach out and touch.

And those were the friendly and well-meaning people.

They were the majority of what he'd seen in the last hours, but he'd also seen looks from the sidelines that were decidedly not congratulatory.

After making his decision to have this baby, John had mostly forgotten that it wasn't normal. The changes his body went through were a new experience for any woman who got pregnant for the first time.

But with some of the looks he'd gotten, he was reminded that this was not normal. He was a freak in their eyes. John didn't know how much of it was the fact that another man was the father.

And truthfully, he wouldn't feel better if their looks were the result of homophobia. He hadn't planned any of this. An accident had presented this opportunity, and he'd taken it.

He didn't want to make a statement. He really just wanted to be with Rodney and have his baby. He wanted to live a life that made him happy, and he didn't want to be judged for it. Actually, he didn't want to be celebrated for it either. He wished people would just leave this alone—leave him alone—and let him be.

John looked out of the window. He wondered if Rodney was enjoying all the congratulations he got.

The problem was, he had no idea. He was twenty-one weeks along, and he still didn't know what Rodney wanted. Rodney could be so loving to him—and the baby that was growing inside him—but the fact that he couldn't or wouldn't commit to them after the birth made John feel terribly alone at times like this.

John wished he could feel the baby at least. Jennifer had told him it could happen any moment now. He just needed to be patient.

He tried to be. He tried to be patient with the baby, patient with Rodney, patient with himself. But sometimes it felt like he'd already waited a lifetime for the moment when it all fell into place.

Standing alone in an abandoned lab, John couldn't help wonder if that moment would ever come. What if Rodney wouldn't come around? What if he'd send his money and gifts, but stay on Atlantis? What if raising their son alone wouldn't make John happy? What if he regretted his choice? What if this would turn out to be the worst mistake of his life?

John watched the waves of the ocean crash into the pier, trying to clear his mind of his doubts. He would have to wait and see. His son would move at his own pace. And Rodney would eventually announce his decision, if he was even thinking he needed to make one. The only thing in John's power would be to ask, but he still didn't want to pressure Rodney, and more than that he didn't think he was prepared to deal with Rodney saying no.

Even uncertainty was better than to deal with that.

~~

Thankfully things calmed down after a few days. John wasn't sure if Lorne or Teyla and Ronon had a hand in it, but people treated him normally for the most part after the initial wave of either congratulation or disapproval.

Rodney hadn't talked about his own experiences, apart from mentioning that he hoped people would get useful things for the baby shower.

John didn't talk about his own feelings with anyone. He was too much of a coward to talk to Rodney, and everyone else wouldn't be able to help him and he didn't think he could take their well-meant understanding.

It was in week twenty-two that his son decided it would be a good idea to let his daddy know he was alive and kicking.

John was in his office, going over proposals for re-arranging things in their armory, when he felt the movement in his belly.

He held his breath, heart beating faster. Then it happened again.

John put one hand on his belly and the other on his earpiece. "Rodney? The baby just moved."

He could feel another movement and smiled widely, not even realizing that Rodney didn't answer until he rushed into the room out of breath.

John moved his hand to the side, letting Rodney's hand join his, but their son apparently had enough for the moment.

They waited for a few minutes, but eventually John said, "Sorry, it was just for a few moments."

Instead of looking disappointed, Rodney gave him wide smile. He cupped John's face with the other hand and leaned down to kiss him tenderly, the hand on John's stomach stroking him.

When they parted, John was overwhelmed by the happiness he felt in this moment and that Rodney seemed to feel the same.

He had the words "I love you" on his lips, but held back in the last moment because he didn't want to taint this moment with any awkwardness or disappointment.

~~

As the baby grew, John had to realize that while his body might have been modified to perform the task of carrying a baby to term, nowhere did it say it had to be a comfortable experience.

Different parts of his body took turns in hurting. His sex drive had decreased slightly and it became more difficult to find a position that was comfortable.

Spooning worked very well, but John longed for a time when getting on his knees to blow Rodney was something he simply did instead of calculating how to best approach it and eventually dismissing it because the thought of kneeling long and then having to ask Rodney to haul him up just pushed it into the not worth it column.

It didn't help that he was beginning to feel like a whale. Grown men shouldn't waddle. Even worse than that, he'd started to grow small breasts in preparation for nursing his son.

Rodney talked about how healthy this would be for the baby, but John felt like a genuine freak of nature when he looked into the mirror.

It wasn't all bad, thankfully.

John felt closer to the baby now that he could feel it sometimes. It almost felt as if they were communicating and getting to know each other.

He'd never forget the moment when Rodney was holding him in the aftermath of sex, and the baby stirred.

Rodney gasped. "He moved!"

"I know," John said, smiling.

Their son kicked again, and Rodney opened his mouth in awe. He put his ear on John's stomach, smiling widely, and John laughed, stroking his head.

Rodney's support was a double-edged sword for John, just like the obvious love for their growing child John sensed from Rodney.

He was grateful for it, but the closer the date of the birth came, the more John thought about the fact that he'd soon lose him. Rodney did pretty much everything right that John could have expected of him.

He didn't even mind John's growing breasts, though John wasn't sure how he felt about that either. It only reminded him that most of Rodney's previous experiences—and all of his relationships—had been with women.

It was one of the things that made him wonder if Rodney would want to take the plunge with John, after only a few months of sex. John had a whole battery of reasons why Rodney wouldn't go with him.

Every time he felt Rodney's love in almost tangible ways, doubts would creep up in him and remind him that even if Rodney did love him, it didn't have to mean that he wouldn't make the choice to stay on Atlantis.

And sometimes he felt as if all of Rodney's love was only for their baby.

John knew that he wasn't being rational. Rodney did so many things specifically to make John feel better, but he sometimes felt that all of it was just gratefulness for what John was doing for them. That if Rodney had accidentally impregnated a stranger he'd do the same things for them, and it hurt because it meant that they hadn't really moved on from where they'd started: Friends who'd decided to be fuck buddies as well.

The next time he had his check-up with Keller, she noted that he seemed stressed.

"What?" Rodney asked, turning to him. "You shouldn't be doing anything stressful at all."

"I'm fine," John ground out.

Rodney put his hands on his hips. "Well, apparently not!"

"Rodney," Jennifer said softly.

Rodney relaxed his stance. "I mean, I'm not saying you're doing stressful things on purpose. But if you are stressed, you should try to relax. We can take care of things. We'll have to learn anyway when you're gone."

And wasn't that a slap in the face. John hoped he managed not to show how he felt. He turned to Keller. "But everything's fine with the baby?"

"Yes," she assured him. "There's nothing to worry about."

Back in their room, Rodney let warm water in the bath tub.

John felt stubborn and was inclined to refuse, but he knew that Rodney only wanted to help, so he let it slide.

However when he got out of the bath and went back to his office only to find that Lorne had taken all his paperwork, he was pissed.

Rodney stormed in. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you in bed?" He took John's arm and dragged him away.

"Did you tell Lorne to clear my desk?" John asked, reluctantly following Rodney after shaking himself free from his grip.

"He can handle it," Rodney said.

"Well, so can I! I'm not gone yet," John said.

"I know, but you need to take care of yourself," Rodney said.

"Oh, really? Do you mean take care of myself or the baby?" John asked.

People got out of their way as they approached the transporter.

"Since the baby currently resides in your body, I'd say both," Rodney answered, pressing the button to their quarters.

"The baby is fine. Doing paperwork won't hurt him," John said.

They stepped out of the transporter into their quarters.

"And now?" John asked, turning to Rodney.

"Now you relax," Rodney said, lifting his chin.

"I was going to! It doesn't get more relaxing than signing off on requisitions," John said.

"You don't sound relaxed to me," Rodney said.

"That's because I've been kicked out of my own office and am apparently a prisoner now," John said.

Rodney looked slightly hurt, but John couldn't let it go, even if Rodney only meant the best. "I could give you a massage," Rodney suggested.

John made a face. He was too mad at Rodney for that kind of intimacy now.

"Sex?" Rodney asked next.

John shook his head. Right now, even sex seemed to be more for the benefit of the baby than about being with John. And maybe it would be better if he got used to not having Rodney at all sooner rather than later. "I'm going back to work," he said.

John was glad that Rodney seemed to realize that he was serious. No matter the reason, Rodney didn't try to stop him.

~~

Lorne felt embarrassed when John got back his paperwork, but John didn't hold it against him.

They were all just trying to help. Even Rodney, who couldn't know that he was the source of John's stress. And if John was fair, he had to admit that they wouldn't be in the situation if he would finally ask Rodney for his decision.

Work was a good distraction. That evening John ate early in the mess with Ronon.

Back in his quarters, John wondered if he should apologize to Rodney—or insist that Rodney apologize to him. They'd had their small quarrels throughout the pregnancy, but minor disagreements were part of their relationship. This went a lot deeper, and John wasn't sure if they'd just pretend it hadn't happened.

John was already in bed when Rodney came in. Rodney gave him a quick smile and disappeared into the bathroom. He came out wearing boxers and a shirt, slipping under the covers next to John.

Tentatively he moved closer, putting a hand on John's arm.

John kept pretending to read for a few seconds, before closing the book and putting it aside. He turned to Rodney.

Rodney just looked at him, moving his hand on John's stomach and leaning closer to kiss him on the cheek.

John swallowed. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't stay mad with Rodney when he was like this.

Rodney kissed his neck, while his hand moved up over one breast, before stroking his shoulder.

Rodney's mouth moved down John's neck, a bit along his shoulder before dipping lower down his clavicle. He stroked John's side with his hand while his mouth traveled back up to kiss him again.

John returned the kiss, opening his mouth for Rodney.

They kissed for a long time, Rodney's hand stroking parts of his body, for once not paying attention to his stomach.

When they pulled apart eventually, Rodney gazed down at him for along moment. "I love you," he said.

John took in a sharp breath, and then felt himself choking up.

Rodney looked slightly worried, and John turned away, unable to keep the tears from falling. "Stupid hormones," he mumbled.

Rodney snorted, but molded himself to John's back and started stroking his arm in a soothing manner.

John abruptly turned around, throwing his arms around Rodney. "I love you too," he sobbed into Rodney's neck.

"I know," Rodney said, squeezing John. "And I forgive you for ruining my shirt."

John hit his back playfully, before blowing his nose into Rodney's shirt on purpose.

~~

John woke up early the next day. By the time he was ready to go to his office, Rodney was still mostly asleep. John only gave him a quick kiss and left to have an early breakfast.

It was as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders—even though that might not be the most appropriate metaphor considering what he carried in front of him all the time now.

Rodney's words hadn't really been a surprise to John. His actions in the last months had shown how much he cared. But it was still different to have it confirmed.

Confirmation meant that John could no longer drive himself insane with doubt. He no longer had to think of worst case scenarios where Rodney really only cared about the baby and would be happy to move on to the next fuck buddy.

John's new-found calmness lasted for all of two hours at which point it occurred to him, that while Rodney might love him, it didn't necessarily mean that he'd give up Atlantis for John and their baby.

This time however, John wasn't willing to let his doubts overcome everything else.

He couldn't go back to the constant fear of losing Rodney. If that was Rodney's decision, John needed to know. And maybe they could talk about it.

John still didn't want to pressure him. But if they loved each other—and even if doubt came far too easily to him, John didn't doubt Rodney's words—they could and should discuss their future together. Even if it meant that Rodney would stay on Atlantis for a while before joining them.

But maybe he didn't even want to stay. Or at least didn't want it more than being with John and their son.

John stroked his stomach, then got up to go find Rodney.

~~

Finding Rodney turned out to be easier said than done, though.

John checked his main lab first, only to find it empty. When he radioed Rodney to ask where he was, there was only a hurried answer of, "Very busy. Can't talk."

"Where are you?" John asked.

"Sorry. Talk to you later," came Rodney's quick answer.

"Rodney?" John asked, but Rodney didn't answer again.

John frowned. He hadn't heard of any emergency, and Rodney hadn't mentioned any important simulations or anything similar. And he'd gotten very good at letting John know beforehand when he wouldn't be available, even if he really didn't have to be available to John every hour of the day. It was one of the things that John appreciated about Rodney.

John tapped his earpiece and contacted Zelenka. "Do you know where Rodney is?"

"He's busy, Colonel. Can I do something for you?" Zelenka answered immediately.

"You could tell me where he is," John said, because this was beginning to look like a conspiracy. If John didn't know for a fact that the baby shower for him was in three weeks, he'd expect people to jump out of hiding any moment now.

"He's working on an experiment," Zelenka said. "Do you need something? Is anything wrong?"

Okay, now John knew for sure that something was up, because Zelenka wouldn't misunderstand him like that unless it was on purpose. "Radek, there are two options. One involves me trying to hunt down Rodney when he obviously doesn't want to be found, two is you sparing me the work and telling me where he is or giving me a plausible reason why I shouldn't see him now. Do you honestly want to make me waddle all over Atlantis to find him?" John didn't really want to play the pregnancy card, and he'd probably be able to recruit help instead of actually having to walk around Atlantis himself in search of Rodney, but he still felt this was the best strategy in the situation.

He didn't want to postpone his talk with Rodney. He was too afraid to change his mind and chicken out of this conversation again. And he really wanted to experience the rest of his pregnancy with at least that amount of certainty, even if so much of his life would change in entirely unpredictable ways.

Zelenka hesitated, but relented. "He's preparing a surprise for you in the north tower." He gave John the exact position. "I only told you because I don't want to be held responsible for causing stress for the baby."

"I'll be sure to mention it to Rodney," John said, smiling. "Is he alone? This isn't the baby shower you've been planning, right?"

"No, this seemed to be spontaneous," Zelenka said. "And yes, he's alone as far as I know."

"Thank you, Radek," John said, making his way to Rodney.

~~

"That Czech can't be trusted with the simplest things!" Rodney said as soon as he saw John. He tried to hide the table he'd been preparing, but realizing the futility approached John and stepped aside.

John took in the table with candles and some flowers. Two seats had been brought in from the mess and a laptop, which looked slightly out of place, sat on the table.

"You wanted to surprise me with a special lunch?" John guessed.

"Dinner actually," Rodney said. "I've asked the mess to prepare your favorite meal. Though I guess it's moot now."

John smiled at him. "We can still have dinner here," he said. "Thank you," he added, leaning forward to kiss Rodney.

When they pulled away, Rodney still looked slightly distressed that his surprise was ruined.

"I really appreciate it," John said.

Rodney didn't answer, so John thought this was probably the moment where he should finally come out and ask what he hadn't dared to ask since he'd first decided to have this baby.

"I need to ask you something," John said. Rodney looked decidedly alarmed, but John pressed on. "I need to know...I...I know that I told you that I don't expect anything of you, but I need to know if there's a future for us. Together. And when." John took a deep breath after finally saying it.

Rodney stared at him. Then he dropped his gaze.

John's heart plummeted. He tried not to despair just yet. Maybe Rodney only wanted to finish a few things here on Atlantis before joining them.

"I wish," Rodney said, gaze still on the floor. "I wish I could say, 'How can you even ask me that?'" He looked up at John. John frowned, not quite sure what Rodney meant. "There is a future for us," Rodney said emphatically. "Well, at least I hope so," he went on more quietly. "It's not as if my record with relationships is stellar. We haven't even had time to become a real couple and the baby won't make that easier. But if the question is if I want to be with you then the answer is yes."

John sighed in relief. That was all he needed to know. Even if Rodney wouldn't be able to join him immediately.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner," Rodney said.

"I could have asked," John admitted.

"I'm glad you didn't," Rodney said, which surprised John. Rodney dropped his gaze again. "I'm not sure I would have been ready when you first asked me to be the father of your baby."

John didn't quite know what to say to that. "It's okay," he said, swallowing.

"Is it? You were ready to go through all of this alone, and I couldn't even say that I would support you," Rodney said.

"You did support me, Rodney," John said, unable to listen to Rodney talk like that. "I wasn't alone."

"I know," Rodney said. "But that was after you'd made the decision. If you'd have asked me to make that choice with you, I'm not sure I could have said yes."

John frowned. "I don't want you to feel trapped," he said. "You don't—"

"No," Rodney said immediately. "John, I want this baby. I want you. I want us to be a family. But I didn't know that back then. There was just the two of us and the most difficult decision was whether to fuck or trade blow jobs and who'd top. And I'm not saying it was just sex between us, because I don't think it ever was, but I didn't have to think about how much you meant to me when we just had sex. I could wait and see what happened."

"I'm sorry I took that away from you," John said.

"You didn't," Rodney said, taking John's hands. "You made me see what I wanted and what I was capable off. I was so worried that I'd mess up what was happening between us, and then you were pregnant, and I was pretty sure I'd royally screw up to a point where you wouldn't even want me to come with you back to Earth."

"Never," John said.

"I did mess up the other day," Rodney pointed out. "And I'm sorry for making you feel as if I didn't care about you as a person."

"You were only worrying," John said.

"That's no excuse," Rodney said. "I should have let you know how I feel about you much sooner. You were surprised when I told you I love you, weren't you?"

"Not surprised exactly," John hedged.

"You cried," Rodney said.

"That was the hormones," John said, scowling.

"You just asked me whether we'd have a future," Rodney said.

John dropped his gaze. "I'm aware that asking you to leave Atlantis is asking a lot. Even if you love me." He carefully looked up at Rodney.

"There's no if," Rodney said. "And while I'm not exactly looking forward to leaving Atlantis, I know for sure that I wouldn't be happy here without you and our son. I can find a job back on Earth, but I couldn't find another you here on Atlantis. Actually, I don't think I could find another you anywhere in the universe."

John smiled at him and squeezed Rodney's hands. He'd never met anyone like Rodney, someone who could drive him up the wall one minute and make him want to do anything in his power to make him happy the next. That Rodney felt the same, that what they had together was unlike anything they'd experienced before was almost as amazing as his pregnancy.

"And that's why," Rodney began, searching for something in his pocket, "I wanted to do all this." He waved the little box that he'd fished out towards the table.

John stared at the box. He suddenly thought of walking down the aisle with Nancy, the hopes and dreams he'd had back then. He wanted those same things with Rodney, and he fervently wished that this time around he'd make it work.

Rodney seemed to realize that John had recognized what he held. "I guess the cat's out of the bag," he said.

"Well, it's still in there," John said. When Rodney didn't make a move, John poked at the box. The lid popped up, revealing—an empty box. John frowned.

"I told you I was planning for dinner. I've put Zelenka in charge of getting materials and was going to get soldering once I was done here," Rodney said.

"You are making my engagement ring?" John asked, grinning.

"It's not like I can just walk into a jewelry store here on Atlantis, and I wanted it to be specifically made for you. We can get real rings back on Earth when we get married," Rodney said, slightly defensively. "If you, you know, say yes."

John looked fondly at Rodney. He wasn't sure how he could even ask that. Then again John wasn't one to talk. "Yes," he said. "Very much yes." Then he pulled Rodney close and kissed him again.

Rodney melted into the kiss, which soon turned heated. When John pulled back, he scanned the room to see if it offered anything bed-like. Unfortunately it didn't.

"Our quarters?" he suggested.

"Yes, please," Rodney said urgently.

John grinned and took his hand, dragging him away.

~~

That night John lay in Rodney's arms completely relaxed and more happy than he could ever remember being.

Life with Rodney and a baby wouldn't always be sunshine and roses, but it would be what John had always wanted and given up on before he'd touched the machine. They had a challenging, promising, exciting future as a small family ahead of them.

John smiled at the thought of Rodney with their son.

It was a beautiful image. John leaned back into Rodney and clasped their hands together on his stomach, thinking that as much as he loved his son, raising him would be even better if he shared the experience with Rodney.

He felt Rodney's squeeze and a soft kick in his stomach and chuckled quietly.

Life would be great. He couldn't wait.