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Ashtaroth and Mrs. Miller

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"Think you can go to Earth?" The question was asked as Rodney walked into John’s office and hitched a hip up on his desk.

John looked up curiously from his paperwork, dark eyebrows rising interrogatively over green-hazel eyes. "I can go, but I sort of promised Gen. O’Neill that I wouldn’t without authorization. The IOA’s afraid that the Ori would instantly sense me and pounce." His expression was eloquent of his opinion of their fears.

Rodney sighed and pressed his lips together at that, his chin jutting out slightly. "Okay, understandable."

"I think it’s insane," John replied bluntly. "Why?"

"Why what? Why do I not think it’s insane? Because there is the remote chance they could sense you or maybe sense someone thinking about you. Why did I ask? Because I have to go."

John frowned. "Why do you have to go to Earth? You belong here. And if they think they can separate us by sending you back, they’re in for one hell of a shock." His eyes filled with flames as he spoke.

"Easy, Sparky," Rodney soothed, "it’s just for a short time. I—I need to talk to my sister."

John’s eyebrows shot up, the flames suddenly banked. "The sister you haven’t spoken to in years?"

"No, the sister I keep locked in a closet here," Rodney snapped. "Of course that sister."

One eyebrow climbed higher. "Forgive me for being surprised," John said in a tone so dry it could have evaporated the ocean around them, "but I was under the impression that pigs would fly, without my assistance, before you’d get in touch with her."

Rodney’s brows furrowed together tightly. "So it’s my fault she threw away her mind to play little mommy? Look at this!" he pushed around John’s desk and brought up a file containing multiple lines of an equation.

"Impressive," John said after scanning it. "Looks like you’re not the only great mind in the McKay family."

"At least I’m using mine for more than making pabulum."

"This doesn’t look like pabulum to me."

"That’s my point! She’s—she’s as smart as I am, and she’s wasting it!"

Even knowing that Rodney was exaggerating, John was impressed by the statement. "So according to you, she doesn’t have the right to decide how she wants to live her life? Isn’t being happy important?"

"At the cost of giving up everything else?"

John pointed at the equation. "Obviously she hasn’t."

Rodney sniffed and walked back around John’s desk. "And that’s why I need to go to Earth."

John frowned again. "I want to go with you."

"And I want you to go with me, but we both know it’ll be easier if you don’t," Rodney sighed.

"Shit, that means you have to come back on the Daedalus, so you’ll be away for a month!"

Rodney sighed and sat on the desk again. "I wouldn’t go if it wasn’t important. This could make things a lot easier for everyone."

"Stop being logical; I’m entitled to a tantrum, and I want it," John grumbled.

"The problem is your tantrums can take out the city."

John just scowled at him, Rodney meeting his gaze steadily, waiting for him to calm. "Some days I really miss being worshipped," John finally grumbled.

Rodney snorted at that. "You mean you miss people kissing your ass."

"Naw, you do that great."

Rodney groaned in answer, and John chuckled, his flash of temper subsiding.

"Well, you do."

"Hrmm."

"It’s entirely mutual," John offered.

Rodney shook his head and finally grinned. "True, you kiss mine pretty damn well, too."

"As I said," John agreed. "So when do you have to leave?"

"Since I’m using the gate to get there, tomorrow," Rodney admitted.

"Great. Though I guess the sooner you go, the sooner you’ll be back."

"Since the Daedalus is there right now, yeah. If I wait, I’ll be on Earth for double or triple the time."

"Like that’s going to happen! I’ll put up with a month, but any more than that, and I’m coming after you. And you can tell them that if they try to delay your return."

"John..." Rodney warned before sighing and leaning in to kiss him. "I’m probably going to be massively bitchy when I come back."

"So I’ll keep you in bed till your mood improves."

Rodney’s eyebrows rose at that. "You know, I’m feeling rather bitchy right now."

"Then I’d say it was my duty to do something about that," John said, locking the door and undressing them both with a thought.

"I can tell it’s such a hardship," Rodney chuckled, noticing that the desk behind him was suddenly cleared of everything.

"Well, a couple of things are hard..." John smirked at him while reaching for Rodney’s cock to make his words true.

Rodney groaned out a laugh and bucked into John’s hand at the same time he reached for him.

"Yup, nice and hard," John said, stroking him before sinking to his knees in front of Rodney and swallowing him whole. Rodney gasped and collapsed back onto his arms, his hips arching up off the desk, pushing his length into John’s mouth. John hummed happily and slid his hands under Rodney’s ass, urging him to fuck his mouth.

"Oh, god, John," Rodney gasped, twisting upward and feeling John’s throat contract around him as John took him eagerly, hungrily. John’s fingers slid along the crack of Rodney’s ass, ghosting over the sensitive skin.

"In me, need you..."

With a final lick, John let the heavy cock fall from his mouth and surged to his feet, covering Rodney as he claimed his mouth in a deep kiss, Rodney clutching at his back and dragging him down against him, his legs hooking around John’s hips.

"Can’t wait," John rasped, preparing Rodney with a thought so he could slide right into him, groaning deeply as he did.

"Not a problem," Rodney gasped, tightening around him before kissing him again.

John gasped and drove forward into him again, his hips setting up a pounding rhythm as if to make sure Rodney would feel him every moment that he was away.

"Good, so good." Rodney’s hands dug into John’s back, and he squirmed, rubbing his cock between them.

"Yes," John panted, trying to get even deeper inside Rodney while bending over so that his belly rubbed Rodney’s erection with every movement.

They moved that way, slamming together, the wet, slapping sound filling the small office, then Rodney cried out and came, spasming beneath John as he came, his semen wetting both their bellies. John groaned and continued pounding into him, riding out Rodney’s climax and approaching his own, the pleasure twisting tighter and tighter inside him until it burst, leaving him limp and shuddering over Rodney.

"I have to go, why?" Rodney murmured against his shoulder.

"Because they need you and it’s the right thing to do."

"Why are you being rational right now?"

"Because if I don’t, I’ll just shut down the gate and make sure the Daedalus never leaves Earth again," John grumbled.

"Mmm, good point."

"I thought so. And in case it wasn’t clear, I really don’t want you to go."

"Yeah, I got that point, and I’d rather not go either, but I need to," Rodney sighed.

"Who’s being logical now?" John pointed out, transporting to them to their quarters and settling them comfortably in their bed.

"Me, which is normal."

"And yet you complain when I am."

"Because you normally aren’t!"

John’s eyebrows rose. "Have you forgotten the whole math thing? That kind of presupposes logic," he pointed out.

Rodney raised a hand and made ‘wah wah’ motions with it, making John snort.

"Only you could love my brain and ignore it when it’s inconvenient for you."

"Well, of course," Rodney sniffed, "you’d get bored otherwise."

"With you around? Never happen!"

"True..."

"Could you sound any more smug?" John laughed.

"Do you want to try me?"

"Well, not for smugness," John replied, running his eyes over Rodney.

"You just tried the other not five minutes ago!"

"So what’s your point?" John asked with mock innocence, only the sparkle in his eyes betraying his amusement as he wound Rodney up.

Rodney sputtered for a minute before glowering in John’s direction. "You are the most infuriating... being I’ve ever met!"

"And I’m all yours, lucky you."

Rodney paused at that and smiled crookedly. "Yes, I am, aren’t I?"

"And so am I," John said, drawing him closer. "So, shower or nap?"

"Hrmm, shower I suppose, they’ll be serving dinner soon."

~*~

John stood beside Rodney as they waited for Chuck to activate the gate and send Atlantis’ codes through. "I want to go with you," he muttered mutinously, clearly considering just walking through once the wormhole was established.

"No," Rodney said firmly, though it was clear that he wanted to drag John along with him. "We’ll be back soon, and you can do whatever you want to me."

John’s whole face lit up, his eyes instantly filling with flames. "Really?" he purred. "Then it’s a good thing I’ll have a few weeks to come up with something worthy of the occasion."

Rodney’s eyes widened, and his complexion turned pale before he reddened. "Oh fuck. Within reason! Anything within my version of reason!"

"Don’t worry, Rodney, I won’t turn you into a woman or anything equally bizarre. But I might lend you some of my energy," John mused.

"Turn me into a wo-" Rodney’s voice rose to a shriek, drawing the attention of the few people in the control room who weren’t watching them already.

"I said I wouldn’t do that," John pointed out, trying not to laugh.

"But you thought it, and I happen to know you have very bad impulse control! So help me, Colonel, if you turn me into a woman, you are never getting laid again!" After he screamed this, Rodney realized how quiet the control room had gotten, and after glancing around the room, he raised a hand to cover his eyes.

"Can you just open the gate?"

Desperately trying not to laugh since he was pretty sure that would incite Rodney to find a way to kill him, John pulled him in for a quick kiss. "I’d never do that," he whispered in Rodney’s ear. "I like what you do as a man much too much. And remember that and hurry home."

Rodney studied him through narrowed eyes for a long moment before nodding, seeming somewhat mollified. "Right, and hopefully I’ll bring Jeannie—if she doesn’t kill me."

It was John’s turn to narrow his eyes. "There will be no killing!"

"She won’t kill me, just attempt to flay me verbally, and we all know how well that works," Rodney sniffed. "Now behave, I’d like to have a city to come back to."

"The city and I will be right here where you left us." John reluctantly let go of Rodney and stepped back to watch him march through the stargate.

~*~

"Mer?!" Jeannie Miller stared at the apparition on her doorstep, briefly wondering if Kaleb had bought the wrong mushrooms.

"Hello, Jeannie," Rodney answered, trying to smile at his sister but doubting it looked genuine. "How are you?"

Jeannie stared at him. "What are you doing here, Meredith?"

"What? I can’t come and see my sister?"

She raised her eyebrows. "You haven’t spoken to me since I decided to marry Kaleb. You refused to come to our wedding. You’ve never even met your niece, so no, I don’t think you just came to visit."

"Are you going to invite me in?" Rodney asked bluntly.

"Oh, right." But before Jeannie could step back, Madison appeared next to her mother, staring up at the man on their front porch.

"Who’s this, Mommy?"

After a brief hesitation, Jeannie answered, "This is your Uncle Meredith, Madison."

"Oh. Did you bring me a present?"

Rodney goggled at her, for the moment wishing John was here with him because he could have thought something up. "Umm, no, I didn’t, sorry."

"Madison!" Jeannie shook her head. "Sorry, we’re trying to break her of that. It’s just that we always bring her something if one of us has to go away." She stepped back, drawing Madison with her. "Come in."

Rodney nodded before frowning. "And Rodney, I’m your Uncle Rodney, not Meredith."

Madison nodded. "That’s better. Meredith is a girl’s name."

Jeannie smothered her laughter, looking up when her husband joined them. "Kaleb, look who’s come to visit."

Kaleb looked at the stranger and then back at Jeannie, his eyebrows raised questioningly.

"Oh, right. This is my brother, Meredith. Mer, Kaleb."

"Rodney," Rodney grumbled, nodding at the other man, who looked surprised to see him.

"Er, nice to meet you..." Kaleb hesitated over the name before deciding on, "Rodney. Please, come in; we were just about to have dinner. There’s plenty for everyone." With a smile and nod, he headed back into the kitchen.

"Dinner?" Rodney asked, before frowning suspiciously. "What is it?"

Jeannie smirked. "Tofu chicken."

"Tofu chicken?"

"It’s good," Madison promised, and Rodney gave a sickly smile.

~*~

Once dinner was over, Kaleb took Madison upstairs for her bath after extracting a promise from Rodney to say goodbye to her before leaving, and Jeannie and her brother moved into the living room.

"All right, Mer, spill it. What are you doing here?"

Rodney took a deep breath and looked down at his hands while letting it out. "Well... it’s because..."

Jeannie waited him out, knowing Rodney never could let a silence drag on.

"That proof! Do you know what you wrote?" Rodney demanded.

Jeannie regarded him thoughtfully, experienced in deciphering Rodney-speak. "How long would I be gone?"

Rodney stared at her distrustfully. "That was too easy."

"You haven’t answered my question."

"You need to sign this agreement first." Rodney dug into his pocket and handed over a folded piece of paper.

"You need to sign this agreement first." Rodney dug into his pocket and handed over a folded piece of paper.

Jeannie frowned at it. "I’m not signing anything till you tell me what this is all about and answer my question."

Rodney drummed his fingers on the table before finally looking at her. "A couple of months, tops, but you need to come with me right now. Your proof could lead to something groundbreaking."

"A couple of months? Are you joking? I... Madison has her first ballet recital next Tuesday."

"She’s four!" Rodney exclaimed. "How good could she possibly be?"

"That’s not the point!" Jeannie exclaimed.

"She’s not going to remember you not being there."

"I’ll remember me not being there," Jeannie retorted, beginning to grow annoyed.

"Jeannie, this is important; you have no idea how important."

"We’ve had this conversation before, Mer. You belittle my choices, I get furious at you, and we don’t talk for four years. I’m not all that anxious to do that again," Jeannie sighed, starting to turn away.

Rodney sighed. "You leave me no choice." Rodney pulled something out of his pocket and walked over to her. "Give me your hand."

Jeannie hesitated, started to reach toward him and then jerked her hand back, still eyeing him warily. Finally, with an annoyed huff that all of Atlantis would recognize, she stretched her hand out to take his and a moment later was staring around in shock as she found herself somewhere completely different.

"What just happened?"

"It’s okay," Sam Carter said, smiling reassuringly at the woman she had met the week before, "you’re perfectly safe."

"You’ve been transported to an interstellar vessel in orbit around the planet," Rodney added.

"Please. Teleportation is about as likely as time travel," Jeannie said in a very McKay tone of voice only to trail off abruptly when Rodney turned her to face the view port and she found herself looking at the Earth. "Oh my."

"Oh yes," Rodney nodded.

"What have you gotten yourself involved in here, Meredith?" Jeannie demanded after a short introduction to the science used on the ship and the stargate program.

Rodney groaned, and Sam stared at them. "Your name is Meredith?"

"Can we get back to the fact that your work has real-world applications you never thought or dreamed of?"

"Meredith McKay," Sam snickered before returning the matter at hand. "You see, there are some... very bad creatures out there that want nothing more than to destroy this planet and everything that you hold dear."

Jeannie stared at her. "Uh, did you say ‘creatures’? Like... like alien creatures?"

Sam nodded.

"The work we do is important, Jeannie, not to just you or me, but to every living thing including Madison and, urmm..."

"Kaleb," Jeannie filled in absently, staring out the port.

"We can’t do this without you," Sam said.

"Jeannie?" Rodney asked when she didn’t answer.

"Look, it’s just a lot to take in right now, okay? Just give me a second, Mer," Jeannie said quietly, still staring down at the Earth. "So somewhere down there, my husband is giving my daughter a bath."

~*~

Late that night, after Jeannie had returned, telling her brother she’d have an answer for him in the morning, and told Kaleb everything that had happened, he woke up, seeing Jeannie sitting on the side of the bed, looking out the window.

"You have to go," he said softly.

"Yes," she sighed. "I’ll tell Mer in the morning." She got back into bed and crawled into Kaleb’s arms, pressing close as they both settled back into sleep.

~*~

With a sigh, Rodney stepped inside his small cabin, rubbing his forehead as the door closed behind him. "I so want to be home," he groaned.

"Will a visit from home do in the meantime?"

Rodney spun, his eyes widening. "John! What are you—if—where—"

"I missed you," John replied, pulling Rodney into his arms.

"I missed you too—are you going to get in trouble for being here?" Rodney demanded before hugging John tightly.

"No one knows," John said with a shrug. "I’ll go back in the morning."

"Morning? You can stay?"

"If there’s a crisis, my radio will reach me here, but otherwise, I’m all yours tonight."

Rodney pulled him close and kissed him. "I missed you."

John nodded. "No more long missions apart. We stick together from now on."

"Three weeks and it feels like three years," Rodney murmured. "Is everyone okay? Is the city still floating?"

"The city is floating, the people are good, and Lorne is hiding from me, along with all the Marines."

"How about you?"

"I don’t like missing you."

"I can relate to that," Rodney nodded. "And I can live without going back to Earth too."

"Good!" John’s arms tightened around Rodney. "And if they ever need you to go back again, I am going with you. We’re not putting up with this again."

"No! If they want me, they can come to Atlantis; I’m not having you smited by the Alterans for showing up!"

"Smited?" John laughed. "Oh, I do love you," he chuckled, stripping them and moving them to the bed with a thought.

"Well, what would you call it?" Rodney huffed even as he settled more comfortably against John in the small bed.

"Unlikely in the extreme." John kissed him before he could argue, Rodney muttered against his lips before letting his mouth fall open to deepen the kiss. John’s hands roamed over Rodney’s body, reacquainting himself with every curve and hollow.

"Top or bottom?" he rasped.

"Want to be in you, so much better than my hand," Rodney murmured, licking his way over John’s ear.

"Oh yes," John rasped, rocking against Rodney and wrapping his legs around Rodney’s hips. "Want you in me."

Rodney shuddered at the naked need in John’s voice, pulled back enough to situate himself, then pushed forward into John’s ass, counting on the other man having gotten himself ready.

"Yes," John groaned. "Wanna keep you here forever." He clenched down around Rodney, shuddering with pleasure, the flames spilling out of his eyes, the sight causing Rodney to gasp and drive deeper into him.

"Missed you," he rasped, staring down into the molten depths, and John nodded.

"Not doing this again. We belong together." He groaned and arched up, his nails digging into Rodney’s back.

Rodney nodded, his reply lost in a gasp as he thrust harder, loving the feeling of John around and under him.

"Oh fuck yeah," John panted, matching the rhythm eagerly. "Perfect."

"Mmhmm," Rodney nodded, biting at John’s lower lip as they moved together, the pressure of John’s cock caught between them a brand against his lower abdomen. John’s hand curled around the nape of Rodney’s neck, pulling him down more so John could take his mouth in a deep, possessive kiss, claiming Rodney as much as Rodney was claiming him.

Rodney groaned into John’s mouth and shuddered, knowing he wasn’t going to last much longer. John stared up into the blue eyes, his own full of flames. "Yes," he rasped, "come. Wanna feel you come in me." He knew wasn’t going to last much longer either.

The rough words did Rodney in, and he spasmed, driving deep into John before he came, John tightening his arms and legs around Rodney, holding him inside as his own climax ripped through him.

"Can you really stay the night?" Rodney murmured, nuzzling John’s throat.

"Try to get rid of me!"

"Not going to happen."

"Good." John tilted Rodney’s head up with a finger under his chin so he could kiss him.

"And vice versa," Rodney murmured.

"I should just stay till the Daedalus gets back to Atlantis," John mused.

Rodney sighed at that. "You’re making me be the rational one again."

"I gave in about Earth, but it’s no more dangerous for me to be here than on Atlantis," John replied mulishly.

"And what if we get back to Atlantis and find there is no Atlantis?"

"I told you my radio works. I’m pretty sure someone would yell for me before things reached that point."

"And how am I supposed to explain your sudden appearance to Jeannie? Hi, sis, meet my significant other; he just popped in for a visit?!"

Left without an answer, John pouted at him, and Rodney glowered back.

"You want me to leave."

"No, I don’t want you to leave!"

"That’s the way it sounds," John said sulkily, showing that he still wasn’t very experienced or good at dealing with not getting what he wanted all the time.

Rodney rolled off him and rubbed his hands over his face. "Fine, you want me to be selfish and freak out not only the US military but also my sister, I will; go ahead and stay."

John glared, anger causing his eyes to burn. "So, what? You were planning to hide me in a closet till your sister left? I’ll still be the same person in Atlantis as I am here," he snapped.

"And have I ever asked you to be anything but that?" Rodney shot back, moving his hands to glare back at John, not in the least intimidated by him. "It’s not like I see you taking me home to see your parents!"

"My parents are Ori!" John yelled. "I don’t think anyone wants them showing up here!"

"Well, of course not!" Rodney growled. "We don’t have death wishes!"

"So it’s hardly comparable," John snapped. "I was under the impression I was going to meet your sister when she got to Atlantis; I fail to see how it would freak her out more to meet me here!"

"Because maybe I’d like her to meet you as my partner first, not some grand mystic thing from a race who are trying to destroy the planet!"

John stared at him. "You’re planning to lie to her about what I am?"

"Did you listen to a word I said?"

"Every one of them, much to my dismay," John replied angrily.

Rodney sat up and glared at him at that. "Then what is the problem?!"

"You’re ashamed of me." John wouldn’t meet his eyes.

"What the hell are you talking about?!" Rodney demanded.

"You want me to be an ordinary human, not an Ori," John said, staring down at his hands. "You don’t want your only family to know what I really am."

Rodney’s mouth dropped open, and he sputtered silently for a moment. "When did I ever say that? I never said that!"

"You just did."

"When?" Rodney nearly shrieked.

"You said, and I quote, ‘some grand mystic thing from a race who are trying to destroy the planet’. That’s who you don’t want your sister to meet. But I am an Ori, Rodney. I don’t want to enslave or destroy the human race, but I am an Ori."

"And before that I said I want her to meet my partner first, or did you not hear that?" Rodney snapped defensively, rolling out of bed and wrapping himself in the robe that had was thrown over the back of the single chair.

"Yeah, but you don’t seem to want that partner to be me, not all of me, anyhow." John finally raised his eyes to look at Rodney unhappily.

"What the hell are you talking about?!" Rodney finally screamed. "When did I ever tell you that, and don’t repeat the thing about the mystic being thing!"

"Well, what the hell else did you mean then?" John yelled back.

"What? You can’t read my mind and figure it out?"

"You told me not to do that!" John nearly shrieked in frustration, and Rodney forced himself to keep from pulling at his hair.

"Fine, then use your damn brain! I told the damn SGC I’d resign if they made you leave; why would I care about what you are?"

"Then why don’t you want Jeannie to know?!"

"I didn’t say I didn’t want her to know!!"

John groaned. "Then what are you saying?"

Rodney took a deep breath and let it out. "I said that I want her to meet my partner first. She doesn’t have a damn clue what an Ori is, and I wanted her to get to know you first!"

There was a moment of silence, then, "Oh."

"Oh? That’s all you have to say for yourself?" Rodney demanded.

"Umm... I misunderstood?"

"You really thought I would do that?"

John looked sheepish. "I know I kind of railroaded you into this, and I don’t exactly have any experience at this sort of thing."

"You railroaded me into this?" Rodney asked. "When has anyone ever railroaded me into anything?"

John opened his mouth, thought about that, and shut it again. After a moment he tried again. "Sorry?"

"For what, ‘railroading’ me into this relationship?"

"For acting like an ass."

Rodney sighed and scrubbed his hands over his face. "You plan on doing it again?"

"No, but it’ll probably happen occasionally," John admitted.

"Yeah, same here."

"Guess it’s a good thing we love each other, huh?"

Rodney nodded as he dropped back onto the bed beside John. "No one else could survive us."

John laughed wryly, settling back against Rodney. "No, they couldn’t."

"I’m sorry too," Rodney blurted. "That you thought that I thought—well, what you thought."

"It’s possible that I might have an issue or two of my own," John admitted.

"Really?" Rodney asked dryly.

"No snark," John ordered, smacking Rodney’s chest lightly. "We’re on the same side, remember."

"Fine, fine," Rodney sighed.

John settled half on top of Rodney, the tension between them gone as quickly as it had blown up. "So how did your visit with your sister go?"

"It went," Rodney said noncommittally.

John poked him. "Details, Rodney."

"She’s here; isn’t that what matters?"

John eyed him. "Since you’re so touchy about it, I’m guessing it wasn’t unmitigated bliss."

Rodney raised his chin to stare at him through slitted eyes. "And how would you describe your own family reunions?"

"Armageddon comes to mind."

"That’s nothing when it comes to two McKays."

John opened his mouth to reply, stopped and really considered what a clash between two McKays would be like, and shut it again with a shudder. "Okay, that’s fairly apocalyptic," he agreed.

"Exactly." Rodney kissed John’s shoulder and sighed. "We used to be closer, it just... fell apart."

John suddenly seemed to find the wall behind Rodney fascinating. "Er, you do realize that before we had our agreement for me to stay out of your head, I made kind of a study of you, right?"

Rodney closed his mouth, pressing his lips together before finally nodding.

"So, uh, I kinda know what happened between you."

"Then I don’t have to explain any more. Good."

"It didn’t really go so well, huh?" John kissed Rodney’s chin.

"I took her away from her kid for several months—how well did you think it went?" Rodney muttered.

John winced and hugged him. "Sorry," he offered. "But at least it’ll give you time to get to know each other again."

"How about you sell my good points?"

"But I want to keep those for myself," John said with a mock pout before kissing Rodney again. "Of course I will."

"I can’t promise that she’ll listen though."

"If she’s as smart as her brother, or even anywhere close, she will. Eventually. Even the legendary McKay stubbornness has to yield eventually. And she has the benefit of really knowing you."

Rodney pondered that for a moment before finally nodding. "True, you are an irresistible force..."

"And you’re an immovable object." John grinned at him, causing Rodney to groan and shake his head.

"Clean us up so I can curl up with you; I haven’t slept well since I’ve been gone."

An instant later they were clean and the bed crisp and fresh under them as John slid off of Rodney and settled next to him. "I’m glad it’s not just me."

"I thought you didn’t need to sleep," Rodney murmured, maneuvering them around so that he was comfortable, then sighing happily.

"I don’t, but I still don’t like our bed without you in it," John grumbled.

"Same here, but there’s not much we can do about it until I get back."

"No one needs to know if I’m here at night," John suggested, and Rodney scowled though he looked tempted.

"You need to be on Atlantis."

"I may not need to sleep, but I still get downtime, and I can be back in a second if something happens."

"You do realize that me telling you no in this instance is exceedingly difficult," Rodney sighed.

"Is that supposed to be a bad thing?"

Rodney glowered at him.

"Come on," John wheedled. "You know we’ll both be more productive if we can relax at night."

"Jo-ohn..."

"Do you want more sleepless nights?"

"No!" Rodney exclaimed, shuddering. "Fine, if there’s nothing going on, you can come here."

John beamed and kissed him. "See, that wasn’t painful at all."

"It never is."

"So why do you keep arguing?" John asked with a smirk, causing Rodney to smack him in the shoulder.

"Because that’s what I do! And not arguing would go to your head, so get used to it!"

His shoulders shaking with laughter, John hugged him close. "I already am."

"Then why do you fight against it?"

The sound of John’s mirth filled the room. "You enjoyed that, didn’t you?" he demanded once he could speak again.

Rodney snickered at that and shrugged. "Actually, I did," he smirked before yawning.

John was still chuckling as he pulled Rodney closer. "I’ll get my revenge when we’re home again. Now go to sleep. I’ll wake you before I leave."

"You’d better," Rodney murmured, yawning again and closing his eyes.

"Promise," John whispered, pressing a kiss to Rodney’s temple. "I’m glad I came. We both needed this," he murmured almost inaudibly.

~*~

"We’re going to arrive in Atlantis soon," Rodney told Jeannie pedantically. "When we get off the Daedalus, be careful; we’ll be on a pier."

Jeannie rolled her eyes. "Even Madison wouldn’t fall off a pier, Mer. You can stop worrying."

"Well, forgive me for worrying about you," Rodney huffed.

"Yes, Mer, thank you, Mer." Jeannie herded her brother toward the door. "Now let’s go; I’m looking forward to seeing this city of yours."

Rodney glowered at her but said nothing as the hatch opened and he led her down the ramp onto the pier and over to where the small group of people waited. "Jeannie Miller, meet Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the head of the expedition, Col. John Sheppard, military commander, and Dr. Carson Beckett, chief medical officer."

"Welcome to Atlantis, Mrs. Miller," Elizabeth said graciously, stepping forward. "We’re very grateful for your assistance."

"And looking forward to hearing about Rodney as a kid," John added with a charming smile, knowing he was going to pay for it later.

"Once ye get settled of course," Carson said quickly but not before Rodney glared at John.

"We’ll be much too busy for that!"

"We’re never too busy for that," John assured him while Jeannie watched with interest.

"Friends, Mer?"

"Yes," he shot back, almost combatively.

"Mer?" Elizabeth repeated quizzically, making John dart a glance at her and smother a snicker and Rodney glare at him.

"Meredith," Jeannie supplied. "It’s his name."

"My name is Rodney."

"Meredith?" Ronon repeated from where he and Teyla were standing behind John, both having come to greet Rodney on his return. "Isn’t that a girl’s name?"

"Thank you so much, Jeannie," Rodney muttered.

"It’s one of those names that can be used for either," John explained to Ronon. "It’s just a little old-fashioned, unlike Rodney, which is why that fits him better." Amused though John might be, he wasn’t going to let anyone else laugh at Rodney.

Ronon looked from him, to Rodney, who was glowering at him, then to Jeannie. "Makes sense. What did your parents name you?"

"Jeannie," she replied. "And you are?"

"He’s Ronon Dex," Rodney cut in quickly. "And this is Teyla Emmagan."

Jeannie gave them a quick smile before looking curiously at John, who was standing closer to her brother than most people found comfortable, a fact that Rodney noted.

"What?" he finally asked, glaring at her.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with friends before, Mer."

John’s eyes narrowed, but he waited to see how Rodney would react.

"Welcome to the Pegasus galaxy, you’ll see lots of things you haven’t before," he snapped, and John moved closer, sliding an arm around his waist.

Jeannie’s eyes widened as she stared at them. "It would seem so."

Rodney smirked at that but poked John in the back as he circled his arm around him as well, and the group walked toward the tower.

"What?" John grumbled quietly at him. "It’s not like there’s anyone here who doesn’t know."

"Welcome back, Dr. McKay," Lorne said as they entered the control room and he handed a report to John. "Maybe now the colonel will be in a better mood."

"And that will have the rest of us in a better mood as well," Teyla commented.

"Thank you, Major," Rodney answered, ignoring the laughter around them.

"Performance reports," John growled at Lorne, who just laughed at him.

"This is some place you work, Mer," Jeannie chuckled.

"You have no idea, ma’am," Lorne replied fervently. A sudden thought struck him, and he darted a glance at the colonel before turning his attention to Elizabeth. "Will Col. Caldwell be joining us?" he asked carefully, hoping the man had survived the voyage with Dr. McKay.

Elizabeth had to fight back a wry grin, remembering the harried colonel’s message. "No," she replied in an even tone. "He informed me that he’ll be remaining aboard the Daedalus."

"I think Mer scared him," Jeannie commented wryly.

John snickered. "Good." There was no love lost between the two colonels, a situation only exacerbated by the revelation that John was an Ori.

"Oh, as if that’s difficult," Rodney sniffed.

"You are better at it than most, Mer," Jeannie pointed out with a smirk.

"Oh ha ha," Rodney muttered. "Why don’t you go get settled in your quarters? I’m sure Dr. Weir can show you where they are." The last was added almost desperately, and Elizabeth took pity on him.

"I’m sure you’d both like to get some rest after the long trip here so you can start fresh tomorrow," she said graciously. "Mrs. Miller, if you’d come with me?"

Rodney breathed a sigh of relief when Jeannie followed Elizabeth out of the control room, then looked sharply around the area as if expecting to find it in a shambles due to his absence.

Cutting him off at the pass, Radek informed him, "The city is still floating, and no disasters are in progress. Go calm your colonel."

John snickered, and Rodney rolled his eyes. "It’s not as if he hasn’t seen me—ahem, well, yes, I should do that."

"Come on, honey, and I’ll welcome you home." John caught Rodney’s hand in his and started drawing him toward the transporter.

"Honey?" Rodney asked once they were alone. "Oh, you are so getting it for that."

"It had to be said," John laughed, pulling Rodney into a hug. "It’s better than snookums."

"Keep it up and you’re going to make me sick!"

"Sugar bear?"

Rodney made a gagging sound.

"Aw, what’ve you got against pet names?" John asked with a pout even as he wondered how Rodney was going to make him pay for this. "Hmmm, Merry? Hey, my merry man. I kinda like it."

Rodney’s eyes narrowed to thin blue slits, and he glared at John. "Does that make you Robin Hood?"

"Hey, that sounds like fun! I don’t think I’ve ever shot a longbow," John mused, backing up slightly in case Rodney actually took a swing at him.

"Why don’t you go do that then." It actually sounded as if Rodney was grinding pieces off his teeth as he spoke.

"’Cause it wouldn’t be any fun unless we did it together. And you just got back." Looking at Rodney, John was fairly certain that if he wasn’t an Ori, he’d be in mortal danger.

"Exactly—and now I’m going to take a shower alone!" Rodney stomped off toward the bathroom, muttering under his breath the whole way.

John didn’t hesitate for a moment before following him. "Now who would wash your back if you showered alone?"

"I swear, if you come in here with me, I will find a way to take away your powers and make you pay," Rodney snarled.

John blinked in surprise. "Aw, come on, Rodney. You know I was kidding... and no one was around to hear it."

"Ask me if I care." The bathroom door slid shut in John’s face before the splatter of water running sounded from behind it.

"Ro-odney," John whined.

"Go away!"

"Since you’ve just come back from being away, I don’t think so," John replied, appearing in the shower behind Rodney as he finished the statement, and a bottle of shower gel hit him in the chest.

"So you can harass me more? I don’t think so!"

"Ouch!" John protested mildly. "Okay, are you really this freaked out by seeing your sister again? Because you and I both know this is one hell of an overreaction. And stop throwing things!" he said when Rodney grabbed for the shampoo. "I love you, you cranky asshole, and I’m not going anywhere."

"Cranky asshole?" Rodney asked, sputtering with outrage. "I come back, and you call me names, and you call that an overreaction? Look, you flaming commando, I don’t know where the hell you learned it, but it’s not nice!"

John hadn’t heard anything after "flaming commando," which he repeated incredulously. "Okay, that’s it. You’ve called Radek far worse than anything I said, not to mention teasing. So what’s up?"

Rodney crossed his arms over his chest and hunched his shoulders, apparently oblivious to the water beating down over him. John inched closer and moved behind Rodney again to massage his stiff shoulders, patiently waiting for him to be ready to talk.

"I don’t like going back there," Rodney finally admitted though it sounded as if the words were being dragged from him.

Despite wanting to promise immediately that Rodney would never have to go again if that was the case, John restrained himself and considered the words. "Back to the SGC, Earth, your sister’s house...?"

Ignoring the question or perhaps answering in his own way, Rodney shrugged. "You know I had a crap childhood. It makes me think about it, and I hate how that makes me feel—and I take it out on you because you can handle it."

John nodded and pressed a kiss to Rodney’s shoulder while continuing to work the knots from his back. "Do you want me to send Jeannie back to Earth?"

"Then what was the point of my going?"

"It wasn’t to make you miserable. Do you really think I give a damn about anything else?"

"Seeing Jeannie didn’t make me miserable," Rodney corrected. "She just knows exactly which buttons to push—something you do almost as well."

"Sorry," John said sincerely. "I didn’t realize I was tearing at an open wound."

"Not your fault; I told you not to read my mind." Rodney finally turned and pulled John into a fierce hug. "And I am so not your merry man."

"But you are mine, just like I’m yours," John said so softly the words were almost lost in the sound of the water.

Rodney nodded and hugged him tightly, pressing a kiss to his jaw. "That’s one thing I count on."

"Good." John smiled. "Since you made me fall in love with you when I didn’t even believe it existed, now you’re stuck with me."

A deep breath preceded a soft chuckle. "Same’s true in reverse, just... remember I’m not at my best right now."

"Well, if I married you, I’d have agreed to ‘for better or for worse’," John pointed out.

"And because we aren’t?"

"We just haven’t said the words," John replied with a shrug.

Rodney stared at him at that, his head slowly tilting to the side.

John stared back. "What?"

"What you said—do you really believe that?"

John looked confused. "What did you think I meant when I said forever?"

"I—I never thought of it that way," Rodney admitted.

Now John was starting to look worried. "Don’t you... aren’t you... don’t you want that too?"

Rodney stared at him at that. "Of course I do; why would you think I didn’t?"

"Because you just said you never thought about it!"

"I said I never thought of it as a marriage!" Rodney protested. "And if that’s what this is, you are so the bride!"

"You want to see me in white silk and lace?"

"It should bother me how that idea is both disturbing and arousing at the same time."

John burst into laughter. "Not even for you am I shaving my legs and wearing heels."

Rodney stepped back at that and gave John a visual once over before sniffing. "It’s not as if you couldn’t be back to normal in a twitch of your ponytail."

"I am so not crossing my arms, blinking and saying ‘yes, master.’"

Rodney’s lower lip stuck out as he pouted outrageously, so John leaned in and nibbled on it.

"Not even for me?" Rodney wheedled.

John regarded him with a narrowed gaze. "What’s in it for me?"

"I didn’t realize that we were in a tit for tat relationship?" Rodney commented, leaning back against the cool, wet shower wall, his eyebrows raised as he waited.

John scowled at him. "You’re going to push this, aren’t you?"

"What, are you chicken?"

"No, I just know you’re never going to let me forget it..." John sighed, "Master."

"Would I do such a thing?" Rodney asked, his goading expression morphing into pleased smile at the single word.

John’s raised eyebrow was eloquent response before he kissed those smugly smiling lips, which curved with laughter under the pressure of his. "I saw no crossed arms and blink," Rodney murmured.

"Oh, now you’re just pushing it."

"No, but I might be doing something else to it if you feed my fetish."

The eyebrow arched again before John crossed his arms, blinked hard, and said, "Yes, Master." He even threw in a gauzy but thoroughly masculine version of a harem outfit in bronze and a mossy green that matched his eyes.

"Oh hell," Rodney whispered prayerfully, his eyes widening as the water spraying down on them plastered John’s lightweight garment to his body. He dropped to his knees and licked at the water gathering in John’s navel, his hands going to the other man’s hips to support him as he nipped and licked at the warm, wet flesh.

"Okay," John gasped, "I can live with calling you master." His hands settled on Rodney’s shoulders, lightly kneading as he gave himself up to the pleasure of Rodney’s touch.

Rodney hummed in response, still exploring the shallow indentation of John’s navel while his thumbs brushed over the hollows of his hips.

"So good," John panted, rocking forward with shallow thrusts, Rodney’s teeth grazing across the taut skin of his abdomen. His hands moved, catching the sodden waistband of John’s harem pants and tugging it lower, the sensation of teeth, lips and tongue following the lowering garment.

"I’ll call you master any time you want if these are the results," John said with a breathless chuckle, combing his fingers through Rodney’s wet hair.

"Next time add an earring and belly-button ring," Rodney murmured, tugging John’s pants lower and capturing his cock in his mouth the moment it was freed by the sodden fabric.

"What, no nipple rings?" John asked after inhaling sharply, his hips surging forward uncontrollably as Rodney sucked strongly on him in retaliation. "Oh fuck, that’s good!" John rocked into Rodney’s mouth, loving every second, the scientist clenching his hands in appreciation of the praise as he bobbed his head, moving in counterpart to John’s motion before suddenly pulling off him and smirking.

"Hey! Get back here!"

"Come get me," Rodney challenged, backing out of the shower and into the bedroom with John in hot pursuit. As soon as he got near the bed, he found himself toppled onto it, with an aroused Ori on top of him staring down with a gaze full of fire.

"Tease!"

"Now, now, you can’t call me that; I plan on putting out," Rodney corrected, his breath catching in his chest as he met John’s flame-filled eyes.

"Prove it," John demanded in a deep, throaty tone. Rodney narrowed his eyes slightly, then grabbed John around the waist, pulling him down on top of him and wrapping his legs around John’s waist.

"That prove it?"

"It’s a good start," John allowed, slotting his erection between Rodney’s cheeks and rocking forward, precome making him slide easily against Rodney’s heated flesh.

"What? You want verbal encouragement? Oh baby, give it to me, give it to me hard."

John burst into laughter, collapsing on top of Rodney as his entire shook with merriment. Finally he managed to get out, "You never told me you wanted to be a porn star!"

Rodney sniffed, trying to look offended. "You said you wanted proof, and I never do anything in half-measures."

"I’ve noticed," John replied, still chuckling, even the flames in the depths of his eyes dancing. "You are definitely unique."

"You’re just realizing this now?" Rodney asked dryly before arching his hips up against John’s in invitation.

"Hardly. But some things bear reiteration." John quirked a smile at Rodney’s movement, shifting to slide his cock back between Rodney’s cheeks and nudge at his opening, causing Rodney to groan.

"And you call me a tease."

"As someone told me recently, it’s not a tease if I’m planning to put out," John informed him, applying the least bit more pressure.

"So put out already!"

"Have I mentioned how much I love it when you get demanding?" John bit down on Rodney’s throat at the same instant that he pushed into him, drawing a low groan from Rodney.

"Keep—keep mentioning it," he gasped, scrabbling at John’s shoulders even as he arched up to meet him, the pure pleasure of the claiming making his eyes go unfocused.

"Whatever you say... Master." John drove into him, knowing that hard and fast was what they both wanted this time.

"Oh fuck, there has to be something wrong with the way you saying that turns me on," Rodney gasped, clenching down on John’s shaft, feeling the slight ache and burn of stretched muscles but reveling in it as each stroke had John’s body rubbing against his cock.

"Anything that feels this good can’t be wrong," John retorted, added a swivel to his hips on his next stroke that had Rodney gasping and clutching at his back as he shuddered beneath him, his body convulsing as the pleasure became too much.

"Oh yeah, that’s it," John rasped out, continuing to drive into Rodney through his climax, shuddering with every spasm around him. Rodney whimpered, wanting to just collapse under John and drift away but realizing that he hadn’t come yet and that he wanted his partner to know as much pleasure as he had felt, so he tightened around John again, rocking against him, urging him on.

John could only groan and slam in and out of Rodney until he too came, buried as deep inside the other man as he could get. "Love you," he whispered, slumping on top of Rodney and nuzzling his throat, his eyes closed. Rodney didn’t answer as he was too occupied with trying to stay conscious and breathe though he kept a tight hold around John’s torso.

After a moment, John rolled to his back, bringing Rodney with him, and groaned happily as he stretched with Rodney on top of him, the familiar weight of him pressing John into the mattress.

"I may never move again," Rodney finally mumbled against John’s chest.

"Sounds good to me," John replied agreeably. "I have everything I need right here."

Rodney sighed at that and snuggled closer, soon oblivious to the world as he slid into sleep.

~*~

"So," John said, watching Rodney over their morning coffee, "think we should tell your sister about me today?"

"About you being my paramour or about you and your history?" Rodney inquired. "We have to do one before the other."

"Paramour?" John repeated incredulously. "Oh, yeah, I want to be there to hear you tell her that."

"Would you rather I call you my boyfriend?" Rodney demanded.

"Nothing wrong with that or lover or partner or... okay, they all sound ridiculous. Call me whatever the hell you want. It all comes down to one thing: yours. And you’re mine too."

"Exactly." Rodney nodded in satisfaction though it was clear he was still trying to come up with a word that wasn’t ridiculous or offensive.

"Getting back to the point, I think we need to tell her both. Otherwise, she’s going to be pissed at you for hiding one or the other."

"We’re telling her about us first," Rodney reminded him. "One thing at a time."

"I get that, but we’d better not wait too long on telling her the rest, especially since everyone here already knows."

"With that in mind, she may know everything already," Rodney sniffed.

"All the more reason for you to tell her. She’s not going to appreciate finding out something like that from a stranger. I don’t have a family, and even I know that much!"

"Then fine, let’s go find her and tell her!"

"Isn’t that what I said?"

Rodney only glowered at him, and John laughed, leaning over to kiss him. "Want to have breakfast on the balcony or go find Jeannie and have it with her?"

"As she doesn’t know anyone else here except for me, I’d say we should go find her."

"Good point," John agreed. "So shall we?" He gestured toward the door, clearly waiting for Rodney to precede him, Rodney walking out with a very obvious rolling of his eyes.

When they reached the room Jeannie had been assigned, however, she wasn’t there, and Rodney frowned. "Where has she gotten herself off to now!? She just got here; she doesn’t know anyone!"

"And the best way to get to know people is to actually leave your room and meet them," John pointed out. "She’s probably already in the mess hall."

Without saying a word, Rodney turned and started for the transporter, his mind churning with worst-case scenarios—scenarios that were supported when they arrived at the mess to see Jeannie sitting with Carson, Radek, Ronon and Teyla, all of them laughing uproariously.

"See, told you she’d find new friends. Why don’t you go join them, and I’ll grab trays for us," John suggested, making a conscious effort not check what anyone was thinking.

Rodney made a pained face and started toward the table, eyeing everyone suspiciously when he heard their laughter and caught the not so subtle glances toward him as he stopped. "Something amusing?"

"Your sister has been sharing some tales from your youth," Teyla replied diplomatically which Jeannie laughed again, and even Ronon grinned broadly.

"Oh, wonderful," Rodney’s voice was higher pitched than normal, and he looked vaguely ill.

"Your world has... interesting... customs," Teyla observed, looking over Rodney’s shoulder at John, who was standing in the food line with all his attention on his teammates, a frown on his face.

"Jeannie..." Rodney growled as she laughed.

"Oh come on, Mer, lighten up some."

John must have cheated some because he joined them at the table in time to hear that and state, "Rodney’s plenty light, thanks." He sat down next to the scientist, his leg pressing against Rodney’s under the table, and Teyla looked down at her food to hide a fond smile.

"And you’re one to know, Colonel," Carson chuckled.

The comment reminded John that they weren’t alone and that Rodney was likely to do him an injury if John forced him into a conversation about his relationship with John in the middle of the mess hall. "I’m in charge of the military around here; I’m supposed to know everything," he replied drolly.

"Ahh, that is the reason," Radek snickered, hiding his face behind his coffee mug when Rodney glared at him.

Jeannie looked from Rodney to the colonel and back again. "You two are friends?" she asked, sounding surprised despite having witnessed their reunion the previous day, and John bristled again.

"Yes, we are," Rodney shot back. "Why is that so hard to believe?"

"Well, look at you, Mer," Jeannie said, gesturing at them. "He’s... him, and you’re... not."

John’s eyes narrowed, a hint of orange in their depths, and Rodney kicked him in the shin before focusing his gaze on Jeannie. "Funny, because he seems to like me very much; in fact, he was telling me that when we woke up this morning."

Jeannie’s jaw dropped, and she gaped at them. "You... and you?"

John smirked. "Yup."

"What is so hard to believe about that?" Rodney demanded while most of their tablemates hastily covered their snickers.

Jeannie gestured helplessly, her eyes widening when John leaned over and kissed Rodney hard. "Not a damn thing," John assured him.

"Ye get used to it, lass," Carson chuckled when Rodney fisted his hand in John’s shirt and pulled him in for another kiss.

She stared at Carson, slightly stunned. "Do they do this often?"

"As often as possible," he laughed. "Ye never know what ye’ll walk in on here."

"Certainly not us!" Rodney sputtered. "John has—extraordinary hearing!"

"And extraordinary focus," Radek muttered into his coffee, making John snicker and the faint orange glow of his eyes fade.

"You’re just jealous," Rodney smirked.

Teyla smiled gently. "It would be pleasant to find what you have together."

"Thank you." Rodney looked over at Jeannie at that, and the tension that had left him during the kiss returned. "So, Jeannie, are you liking it here?"

"It’s certainly not what I was expecting," she replied, still appearing somewhat shell-shocked. "But the city seems extraordinary."

"It is. And Rodney has been able to help us figure out a lot of it," John said.

"It’s been an adventure," Rodney allowed, darting a quick glance at John and giving a small smile.

"We aim to please." John returned the smile, catching one of Rodney’s hands in his and squeezing gently while Jeannie watched with a bemused expression on her face.

Rodney stared at her, his brows furrowing, creating a ‘v’ in his forehead that grew deeper at his sister’s amusement. "Just what is so funny?" he finally barked.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen you happy before," she replied softly, finally smiling.

"I’ve been happy," Rodney protested vehemently. "Plenty of times! I just—I’m happier now." He glared at the others at the table at this point and jabbed a finger toward all of them. "And one word, one joke about this and you all will pay!"

Ronon rumbled a chuckle, and Teyla smiled serenely while Carson and Radek grinned as John pulled Rodney into another kiss.

~*~

"All right, it looks like everything’s set. Ready to try this?" Rodney asked, glancing over at Jeannie, who nodded, looking eager as her hand hovered over the controls.

"Together?" she suggested.

"I—sure, together." Rodney smiled gamely as they reached out and pressed the enter key, starting the energy collection.

Their eyes remained fixed on the readings for several seconds before Jeannie crowed, "It’s working!"

"Yes!" Rodney punched a hand into the air, sharing a grin with her before collapsing back in his seat. "This calls for a celebration—once we prove it stays steady."

"It will. It wouldn’t dare defy two McKays," Jeannie laughed.

Rodney smirked at her at that and settled back in his chair to watch the data flow.

"Are the two of you going to watch that all night?" John asked, coming into the lab a little later.

"Look, Col. Know-it-all," Rodney sniffed, "just because you’re fr... full of it doesn’t mean we can’t come up with something that hasn’t been seen before."

"I never said it did. But do you think you could take a break for dinner while you’re waiting to confirm it?"

Rodney frowned slightly, and Jeannie poked him in the arm. "C’mon, Mer, we have to sit at five percent all night anyway; I think it’ll be safe to let someone else watch—and you know how you get when your blood sugar drops..."

John snickered. "It’s a scary thing. Come on, Rodney, you’re outnumbered."

"Bullies! I’m surrounded by them!" Rodney huffed, giving the two scientists who were staying in the lab explicit instructions as to what to do, namely, call him—and touch nothing, while they were gone.

"It’s a rough life," John informed him while Jeannie laughed. "And you know you want dinner, so quit arguing." They both ignored the grins on the faces of people who passed them.

~*~

The night passed without incident, and they were eating breakfast in the mess when Rodney and Jeannie were paged over the intercom.

"What’s the problem?" Rodney huffed when they reached the holding area.

Looking over his shoulder, John stopped in his tracks, his eyes widening. "Uh, Rodney, there’s another you."

"What?" Rodney shrieked, the other version of him looking up as if he heard the sound.

"It is you, Rodney—or a you," Jeannie mused.

"I’m not sure Atlantis is ready for two Rodney McKays," Elizabeth mused. "Though at least he doesn’t come with another John Sheppard... of any description."

"Why is he here? Surely not to sightsee because theoretically at least his universe is the same as ours."

"He asked to speak to you," Elizabeth said. "Or rather to the person in charge of the bridge project."

Rodney cut his eyes toward John, who shrugged, then at Jeannie, who did the same, and sighed. "Then I suppose we should go see what he wants."

"It could be kind of interesting having two Rodneys around," John mused.

"Don’t even think it!" Rodney snapped as they headed toward the room where the other Rodney was being held, and John laughed.

"As if I could keep up with more than one of you."

"You’d have to be super-human," Jeannie laughed while whatever Rodney was about to say turned into a coughing fit.

John smirked, ignoring Elizabeth’s laughter that he could hear over his radio. "Maybe I am."

"Very amusing." Rodney huffed, elbowing John in the side.

"What, you don’t think I’m extraordinary?"

Rodney snorted at the question and glowered at John as they entered the observation room and he squared off against his look-alike.

"Wow, Jeannie too? I expected me, but Jeannie didn’t come to Atlantis in my universe."

"She’s visiting," Rodney snapped, already disliking the other version of him who seemed all too cocky in his black leather jacket.

"Ah, didn’t want to leave Kaleb and the kids, I suppose. I can understand that. I’m Rod, by the way. And you go by...?"

"Rod?" Rodney’s voice rose with the question even as Jeannie asked, "Kids?"

"Not Rod, apparently," the second McKay observed before replying to Jeannie’s question. "Yes, Madison, Bradley and Robbie. You don’t have them in this universe?"

"No, just Maddie," Jeannie replied, looking shocked when Rod pulled out his wallet and offered to show her pictures of her alternate’s children. "You have pictures of my kids?"

"Well, of course I do. I’m their uncle."

Rodney’s expression grew closed off as Jeannie hurried over to Rod’s side, examining the pictures and exclaiming over them.

"So why exactly are you here?" he asked loudly.

"And what the hell was your Sheppard thinking of to let you come alone?" John demanded, gaining an odd look from Rod.

"Dr. Sheppard lost the toss, so I’m here," he replied slowly.

"Dr. Sheppard?" John repeated incredulously.

"Well, also Col. Sheppard, but he prefers the doctor title," Rod chuckled. "I think it gets him more points in his Mensa meetings."

Rodney gaped at him at that before shaking his head to recover. "Will you answer the question!"

"Exotic particles created by your bridge are flooding into my universe, and if you don’t shut it down, you’ll destroy my universe."

Jeannie punched Rodney in the arm. "You said that wasn’t going to happen!"

"I said the odds were a trillion to one!" Rodney protested. "Is it my fault his universe was the deal breaker—and that hurt!" He glared at her in reproach as he added the rest.

"Well, you deserve it! We almost destroyed a universe."

"I’m going to have to start paying more attention," John murmured to himself, gaining an odd look from Rod, who overheard.

"It was a trillion to one chance!" Rodney protested, his voice rising in volume and pitch. "And fine, we’ll shut it off then, and Rod can go home."

"The bridge was uni-directional," Rod said softly, making Jeannie regard him with sympathetic dismay.

"What do you—oh." Rodney glanced at John, one eyebrow going up questioningly, and John nodded.

He thought they would be able to find a way to send Rod home, but if it came to it, he’d intervene and use his people’s knowledge of alternate realities to do it. He wasn’t going to allow Rod to remain and make Rodney unhappy for the rest of his life.

"It was that or allow my universe to be destroyed," Rod commented before Jeannie cut in.

"Shouldn’t we turn off the generator before we discuss this?"

"I’m sure Rodney’s already taken care of that," John said, having noticed Rodney having a brief conversation on his radio.

"Then my work here is done," Rod said.

"But... you can’t leave," Jeannie said, frowning as she spoke.

"No, but now I know that that everyone and everything I care about will survive," Rod replied. "Seems a fair trade to me."

"Why don’t we get you settled in, Rod," Elizabeth suggested. "You might as well be comfortable while you’re here."

John drew Rodney away, leaving hospitality for their unexpected guest to Elizabeth. "Come on, you need something to eat since breakfast was interrupted, and then you and your team can work on figuring out a way to send Rod back where he came from."

"I’ll go with Rod," Jeannie offered, and Rodney’s eyes showed hurt for a split-second before he covered it up.

"Of course, I’m sure he’d appreciate it."

John gave Jeannie a dirty look and slid his arm around Rodney’s shoulders, drawing him into a half embrace. "You do that, Dr. Miller. I’m sure the scientists here will be happy to help Rodney."

Rod stared at the gesture, looking shocked before chuckling. "And Jeannie and I will be there to help once I get situated."

"Wonderful," Rodney muttered so quietly that only John could hear.

John’s expression was far from friendly. "I’m sure we’ll all be happy to get you home again."

Rodney looked at Rod closely, then smirked as he and John walked away. "He has no idea," he crowed when they were in the relative privacy of one of the hallways.

"About us or me?" John asked. "It doesn’t look like he has a clue about either."

"Which proves I’m smarter," Rodney smirked.

John’s eyebrows rose, but he’d long since learned that there some battles it wasn’t worth fighting. "Or I am," he replied simply.

"Than your counterpart? Obviously."

"Because I went after you?"

"Damn straight."

John chuckled. "I knew a good thing when I saw it. Apparently my counterpart isn’t that observant. Or yours isn’t as interesting."

"Or both."

"I like our reality better."

"I’ll like it better once he goes home," Rodney admitted.

John smiled wryly before leaning in to kiss him lightly. "I know. And Atlantis really doesn’t need more than one Rodney McKay. I’m pretty sure that’s a universal limit."

"Exactly, and that’s why I need to get him home." Rodney frowned slightly, the line of his lips curving downward. "I think Jeannie likes him more than me."

"Jeannie doesn’t know you." John’s arm tightened around Rodney’s shoulders. "Give her a chance. I happen to think you’re a pretty lovable guy."

"You just want to get laid," Rodney tried to tease.

"You mean that’s not a given?" John exclaimed, looking horrified.

"I’m amazed they didn’t think you were a satyr back in the day."

"What makes you think they didn’t?"

"A demonic satyr? That image is oh so wrong," Rodney snorted.

"Where do you think the idea of incubi came from?" John smirked at him, and Rodney rolled his eyes even as he shook his head.

"Only you."

"That’s what I like to hear from you."

"Oh, like that’s ever a question."

"A guy still likes to hear these things." John batted his lashes at Rodney, camping it up to make the other man smile.

"You sure you weren’t a succubus?" Rodney snorted.

"You of all people should be sure of my gender."

"Now, maybe," Rodney commented as they entered the lab, "but who’s to say you weren’t a girl in the past?"

"I have never been a girl!"

The other scientists in the lab all stopped what they were doing to stare at the couple, and several of them covered their mouths to hide their snickers.

"Well," Rodney shrugged, "you never know."

John glared. "You did that on purpose!"

"What?" Rodney asked innocently.

"Innocence does not suit you!" John shook his head and stopped walking to pull Rodney against him and kiss him thoroughly to the snickers and cheers of the other people in the lab.

"As if you’re one to talk," Rodney sniffed, though his eyes had a glazed look to them—at least until he turned to level a glare on the watching scientists. "Back to work—no, wait, new project. We need to get my counterpart home."

"And Rodney’s going to be even more irritated than usual as long as there’s more than one of him in Atlantis," John said by way of motivation.

Several pairs of eyes widened at that, and the activity level in the lab resumed at a much increased rate, causing Rodney to turn a gimlet stare at John. "Trying to take my job?"

"Just providing a little inspiration," John replied cheerfully. "I want him gone too so you can go back to concentrating on me when the world’s not about to end."

"Just out of curiosity—not because I don’t think I can find a way to send him back—could you, you know," Rodney attempted to wiggle his nose.

John had to be bite back a snicker. "Do I look like a sixties suburban housewife to you?" he wanted to know. "And yeah, I could, but it’d be noisy, so let’s try to deal with it your way, ‘kay?"

Rodney nodded and scrubbed his face with his hands. "Right, now that I’ve scrubbed the image of you in an apron out of my mind, how about I get to work?"

"Sure... and when you’re done, I’ll be in our bed, without an apron or anything else." John sauntered toward the door.

"Wonderful, like I’m going to get anything done with that image in my head!" Rodney groaned.

John’s grin said that was exactly what he’d planned, and Rodney glowered at him, raising his hand and pointing a finger at him in accusation. The only reaction was the widening of John’s smile as he paused in the doorway. "I’ll be waiting."

"It’s a good thing I love him," Rodney muttered to himself as he headed for his work station, determined to find a way to get rid of Rod.

Radek snickered as he peered over his laptop at Rodney. "For which of you?"

"Oh shut up and work!"

~*~

John looked up with a smile that faded when he realized that the man sitting down opposite him was Rod, not Rodney. "Can I help you with something?"

"Hope it’s okay to join you," Rod smiled, offering John one of the brownies on his tray. "I was just hoping to have some time to talk."

"Why?" John asked, leaning back in his chair, away from the brownies. He wasn’t about to take anything Rod offered because he knew that if he did, that would be the instant Rodney would walk in and misinterpret his actions.

Rod looked surprised at the question. "Because I know the John Sheppard in my universe, I’d like to know you."

John couldn’t prevent his snort. "No offense, Rod, but I don’t think you know your John Sheppard very well at all."

"And how do you know that?"

"Because if you did, you’d be together, and he’d either be sitting here beside you, or you wouldn’t be here at all."

Rod frowned in confusion at the statement. "The field could only hold one person and if no one came, my universe wouldn’t exist in the near future."

John laughed and allowed flame to fill his eyes as he met Rod’s gaze, the other man staring in shock before trying to stand and ending up tumbling backwards out of his seat, both crashing to the floor and drawing the stares of everyone in the cafeteria.

"You—you—"

"He’s an Ori," Laura Cadman filled in helpfully as she stared down at the man who had fallen to the floor at her feet, nearly ending up with her lunch tray on his head. Auburn eyebrows rose as she added, "I’d think you would know that."

"What’s an Ori?" Rod asked, the pitch of his voice approaching Rodney’s at his most hysterical. "He’s got flames in his eyes!"

Now everyone, John included, was staring at Rod in disbelief. "’What’s an Ori?’" John repeated, sounding shocked. "The Ori don’t exist in your reality? They never split off from the Alterans?"

Rod slowly climbed back to his feet, brushing himself off and still staring at John warily. "The Alterans don’t have any splinter groups that I’m aware of."

"Oh, that’s just weird," John muttered, shaking his head. "So no Ori, no weapon to destroy them invented by Merlin, no Priors, no plague... what is your SGC doing to keep busy nowadays?"

"Oh, I don’t know, fighting the Wraith?" Rod suggested.

"No split priorities? I’m surprised you haven’t already defeated them then."

"We’re pushing them back," Rod allowed. "Or we were until I had to come here to stop you all from destroying us."

"I’m really surprised he didn’t come with you," John mused.

"Maybe he couldn’t," Rod mused, slowly getting his bearings back at this new discovery.

John snorted, his opinion of that possibility clear. "You two aren’t together, are you." It wasn’t a question.

"He likes women," Rod shrugged.

"He likes anything sentient, actually, although I will admit a preference for human."

Rod spun, nearly ending up on his ass again, and the Marines in the mess hall all jumped to their feet, reaching for their weapons. "John?!" Rod’s voice was reaching that high-pitched level again.

The John native to that reality regarded his Marines with amusement. "Yo, guys, good reflexes, but Ori or Alteran, he’s still immune to anything you could do," he pointed out, making the Marines sink back into their seats with sheepish expressions. Laura Cadman, who had sat down at the table with the colonel while Rod was still picking himself off the floor, observed the new arrival with interest.

"I never would have believed you could look geeky, sir." At John’s glare, she grinned. "Can you hold that long enough for me to get some marshmallows to roast?"

John sighed and turned back to the newcomer, only to find him intent on Rod.

"I gave it a day after the bridge shut down, but you still didn’t come back."

"Sorry, the me here is a little distracted, oh and by the way, is there something you forgot to tell me?" Rod demanded.

Dr. Sheppard sent a dirty look toward Col. Sheppard, who shrugged and grinned. "If I hadn’t shown him, someone here would have mentioned it. Everyone in Atlantis and a lot of people back at the SGC and the IOA know about me."

The alternate John glared. "So you felt the need to tell my Rod that you’re an Alteran?"

"Ori," John corrected.

"What?"

"I already asked that," Rod informed him. "Apparently there was a split within the Alterans; I believe from the flames in his eyes, the Ori are the bad guys."

"What the hell is going on here?" Rodney demanded, having been radioed by one of the scientists in the mess hall. "Some of us are trying to..." He paused, seeing the pair of Johns, and blinked. "Oh, come on!"

"Oh, like you didn’t see this coming," John scoffed. "Do you think I would let you go haring off on a one-way trip to another reality and not do anything about it?"

"You, no, but they aren’t together, are they?"

"No, but as you proved to me, I was in love with you for a long time before you made me admit it to myself," John pointed out, ignoring their audience.

"Which just goes to prove who’s the smartest here, doesn’t it!" Rodney rounded on the new John at this. "And it isn’t you!"

"Hey! That’s uncalled for."

"Why the hell haven’t you made a move on him?" John demanded of his counterpart. "I had the added disadvantage of my people being at war with Earth, and I still did, so what’s your problem?"

"I’d really like to hear the answer to that myself," Rod muttered.

"Because you’re sleeping with Laura," the alternate universe John answered calmly, causing both Rodney and Cadman to squawk.

"Is my counterpart insane?" Laura demanded. "Being stuck in your head was bad enough!"

"Keep it that way," John growled, taking Rodney’s hand in a possessive grip while regarding the lieutenant suspiciously.

Ignoring the byplay, Rod glared at his John. "That’s just a fuck-buddy thing and you know it! Try again, Dr. Sheppard!"

The Alteran studied him mildly from behind his metal-rimmed glasses, his eyebrows raised. "Because, Rod, you go after everyone you want; I’m old enough to know we’re just friends."

"Okay, he’s an idiot," Rodney muttered.

"I’m forced to agree," John said, staring at the Clark Kent version of himself with bemusement. "Did you get dropped on your head as a baby?" he demanded.

"No!" for the first time the other John’s calm cracked as he glared at his double.

"Then you’re just a congenital idiot!"

Rod looked as if he was torn between defending his teammate and agreeing vehemently while Rodney was trying not to laugh.

"What do you think is so funny?" the other John snapped.

"The fact that he didn’t do anything either," Rodney snickered, pointing to Rod.

"I thought he was straight!" Rod protested. "And I don’t push where I’m not wanted."

John snorted. "You didn’t have the guts, you mean. Either of you."

"He kidnapped me," Rodney announced almost proudly, and the other John gaped at them both.

"Kidnapped?"

"Just within Atlantis," John assured their visitors, trying to ignore the way Cadman had her head on the table as she doubled over with laughter. "It wasn’t as if I was holding him for ransom.... just sexual favors," he finished, unable to resist.

The other John goggled at that. "You’re insane!"

"I didn’t put out," Rodney commented.

"He made me wait a whole day! Or was it two?" John asked Rodney. "Stubborn bastard."

Rod regarded them with fascination. "He really kidnapped you?" he asked almost wistfully.

"You want to be kidnapped?" John asked while Rodney nodded smugly.

"The colonel is a little emotionally backward; it was his equivalent of courtship."

"Haven’t you heard of flowers?" the other John asked.

"He’d probably be allergic."

"I am," Rod put in helpfully. "You know, I never thought of myself as Scarlett O’Hara, but that’s really kind of hot."

"It was," John agreed. "Eventually."

"We’ll have to do it again sometime," Rodney nodded.

"You want to be kidnapped," the other John asked again, staring at Rod at the same time he carefully removed his glasses, put them in a case, and tucked it into his pocket.

"It’s a lot more fun than being ignored... with the right kidnapper, of course," Rod amended judiciously, reminded of some less fun kidnappers in the Pegasus Galaxy.

"I think they’re starting to figure it out," John whispered to Rodney.

"You want to be kidnapped." At that, the other John stepped forward, grabbed Rod by both his arms, and they vanished.

Rodney looked from the now empty space to John, then his expression turned alarmed. "Shit!"

Unlike Rodney, John looked amused. "Rodney, the guy completely blew his cover as an ordinary human being by showing up here because Rod didn’t find a way out of an impossible situation and back home in less than a day. Do you really think he’s going to do anything Rod doesn’t want him to?"

"I could care less about Rod! I’m worried about his little power display there alerting the Alterans to you!"

"I was a little concerned about that myself when he appeared, but if anything was going to happen, it already would have. And that little disappearing act, unless he actually took Rod back to their own universe, is minor." John paused to consider that. "Hmm, I suppose he might have; there’s no reason for them to hang around here any longer."

"I hope not! We’re the only one who should be having illicit sex here!" Rodney realized that everyone in the mess was listening to their conversation and flushed.

John snickered. "The only way that could have been better would be if Caldwell had been here to hear it."

"Rodney, what are you doing here?" Jeannie asked as she came into the mess. "I thought you were working on sending Rod back."

"Done already."

John chuckled. "It seems his Sheppard objected to the idea of him staying here."

She frowned at him at that. "And how would that get Rod back home?"

"Um..." John was left floundering as he remembered that there was one person in Atlantis who didn’t know about him, and Rodney apparently still wanted to keep it that way.

"Because he can," Rodney said pointedly.

"John can help Rod get home?" Jeannie asked, understandably confused.

"You know how I told you about the Alterans and the Ori?" When she nodded, Rodney continued. "John is one of them."

Jeannie sat down abruptly. Unfortunately, there was no chair behind her, so the next several seconds were rather confused.

"Jeannie, are you okay?" Rodney asked worriedly as he crouched down beside her. "Should we call Carson?"

"Just help me up, Mer," Jeannie said somewhat snappishly, her gaze on John, who returned it calmly, allowing a hint of flame to appear in the depths of his eyes.

"But I’m on our side," he said. "Atlantis’."

"It’s okay, Jeannie," Rodney said even as he helped her up. "He’s still John."

"Is that supposed to help?" she demanded, only then noticing the other person at the table. For a change it wasn’t one of her brother’s teammates but one of the American military, a woman Jeannie had met and liked, and right then Lt. Cadman was eyeing Jeannie as if sizing up the enemy.

"We already fought the SGC and the IOA to keep the colonel, Mrs. Miller," Laura said bluntly. "We’re not going to let anyone try to get rid of him."

"Cadman, if it weren’t for the fact that John is insanely jealous, I could kiss you," Rodney informed her.

"I think I could kiss her," John informed them.

"Please don’t, sir. Then everybody’d think I was taken, and I’d never have any fun."

"You all are insane!" Jeannie exclaimed.

"It helps here."

"I remind myself of that every day," Elizabeth sighed as she walked past their table to get her lunch. "I’ll expect a report from you, Colonel."

"Just as soon as I figure out how to phrase it," John called after her, grinning.

"I’d like to read it when you figure that out," Jeannie murmured.

"Talk to Lorne," John advised. "I think he has some arcane method of determining who gets them when. I know for a fact that the weirder ones circulate around the city for weeks."

"And sadly, they’re usually about us," Rodney pointed out.

"Unfortunately. But some of Lorne’s have been pretty funny too. Who know how much trouble a botanist could get into?"

"Remember that mud pit they fell into?"

John snickered. "They looked like the Swamp Thing."

"And smelled like it," Laura put in, wrinkling her nose at the memory.

"Mer! Aren’t you worried about Rod?" Jeannie demanded.

"Why? He’s back where he belongs, and since the only working theory I could come up with involved using our one ZPM, I’m glad his John finally came to his senses and took him back!"

"It looked like they both came to their senses," John put in. "I think there’s going to be a room freed up soon in their Atlantis."

"And he thought he was so smart..."

"He couldn’t hold a candle to you," John assured him, making Jeannie snort, sounding just like her brother.

"He does not need his ego stroked, John!"

"And why is that?"

"Because it’s already bigger than any three other people’s!" Jeannie informed her, getting another dirty look from John for her trouble.

"Maybe because he does as much any three other people, and not too many people even bother to thank him," John snapped.

"Easy, Sparky, no flaming my sister," Rodney murmured, though his eyes held a wounded look.

John pulled Rodney closer with an arm around his shoulders, and Jeannie rolled her eyes. Opening her mouth to shoot back another snarky response, she paused, taking a good look at her brother’s expression, and frowned. "Well, of course he does," she said instead. "It’s what he does."

Rodney blinked at that response before nodding slowly. "Right."

John held the hard look on Jeannie for a few seconds longer before he nodded sharply. "Good. That’ll make family holidays go a lot better."

Rodney looked at him sharply at that. "What are you babbling about?"

John rolled his eyes. "She’s your sister, Rodney, and I’m your whatever we’re calling it. I think we’re likely to encounter each other at Christmas, Thanksgiving, anniversaries, you know, family events?"

"We have to get back to Earth to go to those," Rodney pointed out, though he cut a look at Jeannie as he spoke.

"Obviously we won’t be able to make all of them," John agreed, "but we do get leave."

Jeannie eyed them both. "It would be nice for Madison to get to know her uncle."

"And his boyfrie—partn—sig—and him!" Rodney waved a hand in John’s direction. "We really need to decide on a term!"

"I’ve always kind of liked husband."

"What?!" Rodney and Jeannie both chorused, two sets of blue eyes wide.

"You want to marry me?" Rodney gasped at the time Jeannie spouted out, "It had better be where Kaleb, Madison and I can come."

"Then I hope you’re all willing to come to Atlantis because this is our home, and everyone here should be there."

"We’ll talk to Elizabeth," Rodney assured her before rounding on John. "And that was the most sideways proposal I’ve ever heard!"

John grinned at him. "Which makes it just perfect for us, don’t you think? And I haven’t heard an answer yet."

"That’s because I never heard a question, and would I have any other answer except yes considering I mentioned talking to Elizabeth about getting my family here?"

"Good point." John pulled Rodney into a deep kiss and then beamed at him when he drew back, leaving Rodney panting for air.

"No, we aren’t going to have sex right now," Rodney gasped in between trying to drag air into his lungs. "I want to visit with my sister."

"You make it sound like I’m always dragging you off to have my ‘wicked way’ with you!" John protested.

Several snickers sounded from others around them until Rodney glared them quiet.

"That’s not all we do!" John grumbled.

"Exactly!" Rodney echoed.

"Are we voting?" Laura snickered, getting a glare from her commanding officer that only made her laugh harder.

"You can leave now!" Rodney suggested.

"I’m still eating," she replied sweetly before taking another bite, and Jeannie chuckled.

"I like you, Lieutenant."

"Laura."

"Jeannie."

"Oh, shoot me now," Rodney groaned.

"Eat your lunch, Mer," Jeannie ordered. "You don’t want your blood sugar to drop." She smiled at Laura. "You seem to know my brother fairly well," she said, obviously looking for an explanation.

"I don’t have any lunch," Rodney grumbled as Laura launched into an explanation as to just how well she knew Rodney.

"Yes, you do," John said, as a tray full of Rodney’s favorite foods appeared in front of him. "Should we be afraid?" he asked in a low tone.

Rodney nodded as he started to eat, darting glances toward his sister, who was now in deep conversation with Laura. "Maybe we should just elope and come back once she’s gone."

"Shouldn’t your sister be leaving? The project’s over, excitement’s over, her family’s waiting for her."

"Now that Rod’s gone, she can."

"She’s still here," John pointed out.

"What? So we’re supposed to kick her through the gate right this second?" Rodney asked before taking another bite of his sandwich.

"You think this is preferable?" John asked, pointing at the two women with his turkey sandwich.

"So order Cadman to leave her alone!"

John snorted. "You think she’d pay any attention to an illegal order about her personal life? How ‘bout you try ordering your sister to stay away from her; that should work about as well."

"You’re kidding right? She just started talking to me again!"

"We’re so screwed."

Rodney looked up from his food at that, his expression verging on frantic. "We could go have sex—at least then we won’t be thinking about it."

John stared him, his sandwich forgotten halfway to his mouth. "You want to have sex to forget about your sister and Cadman? I feel so used," he said, trying not to laugh.

"Excuse me, you’re the one who uses anything as an excuse for sex!" Rodney’s tone was rising, and he caught himself by eating more of his meal.

John grinned. "Yeah, but not when I’m pretty sure they’d just follow us."

Rodney groaned.

John leaned back in his chair, looking from Rodney to the two women. "So how long do you think she’s going to stick around?"

"Didn’t you ask me that not five minutes ago?" Rodney asked with a slight frown.

"You didn’t answer me. Saying she can go doesn’t say when."

"I think she’ll go home soon, but then I really don’t know—ask Cadman, they’re hitting it off."

"I wish I knew if that was a good thing," John mused. "I guess it has to be better than her hating everyone and everything here," he decided.

Rodney set his food down at that and sighed. "Probably."

"At least she’s talking to you again. And you’ll have family at our wedding, whenever we decide to have it."

"You will too, have family, I mean. Here." Rodney waved a hand at the people around them and then looked sheepish.

John nodded. "They’re our family, all of them. Well, almost all," he amended, catching sight of Kavanagh.

Rodney looked in the same direction John was and chuckled. "Doesn’t every family have an insane cousin? Or maybe it’s an inbred cousin..."

"Definitely inbred," John replied, laughing as well. "Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll go back to Earth again."

"That kind of luck would mean we’d have disastrous missions for the rest of our lives," Rodney groaned before starting to eat again.

John shuddered. "On second thought, I can live with him at the wedding. And if he gets annoying, I’ll drop him in the ocean."

"You do that, you’ll have to pull him out again," Rodney reminded him.

"On my wedding day?" John pouted.

"Oh, well in that case..."

Laughing, John leaned over and kissed him. "You’re too good to me."

"I know, but I love you any way."

"Right back at ya." John smiled at Rodney happily, but before he could kiss him again, he got a call from Lorne over the radio.

"Sorry to eat and run," John said, getting to his feet, "but I think my XO is going to start looking for places to hide my body if I don’t get down to my office and do my share of the paperwork."

"Feeling the love," Rodney snorted before waving John off. "Go have fun."

Jeannie watched the colonel leave, then turned and regarded her brother intently, causing Laura to smile. "You should go talk to him."

"The colonel?" Jeannie asked, surprised.

"Rodney."

"Ah, yes. I intend to." Jeannie gave Laura a crooked smile instantly familiar to anyone who knew Rodney well. "I think we’re due."

"Good luck," the younger woman grinned back before she glanced at Rodney again, "to both of you. He misses you, Jeannie."

Jeannie frowned, looking down at her plate. "It was Mer’s choice. He’s the one who walked away from me when I married Kaleb."

"Hey, I don’t know anything about that, just that you’re both here now."

Jeannie sighed. "I just don’t know if Mer wants me here. If it hadn’t been for my proof, he might never have called me again." She looked over at her brother, her expression oddly intent.

"Maybe, but he did and you’re here. He’s not going to bring it up, and you know it." Laura smiled wryly at the last. "It took me hounding him for months to get him to talk about me being in his head."

"I guess it’s up to me then," Jeannie agreed, getting to her feet and going around to Rodney to take his arm.

"Come on, Mer. It’s time for us to talk."

"About what?" Rodney asked, sounding cranky.

"About our family," Jeannie replied, her tone brooking no argument.

Rodney opened his mouth to answer, then sighed and stood. "Can we do this somewhere other than here?"

"That would probably be best," Jeannie agreed. "I don’t think we need an audience for this. And we have a lot to talk about."

Rodney’s sigh was almost a groan. "Come on, we can go out on the balcony. Just don’t throw me in the water; it’s a long drop."

"Mer, if I didn’t hunt you down and kill you after you didn’t come to my wedding, I doubt I’m going to do it now." Jeannie gave him a very dry look as they walked toward the door.

"Well, you never know, do you?" Rodney huffed, leading her outside and turning to look at her once he reached the balcony railing.

"I’m not planning to kill you, Mer," Jeannie sighed wearily, leaning against the railing a few inches away from him. "I’ve missed you."

Rodney pressed his lips together before looking over at her. "I... missed you too."

She reached over and smacked the back of his head. "And whose fault was that?"

"I didn’t see you trying either," Rodney huffed, glowering at her.

"You were the one who refused to come to my wedding and then disappeared off the face of the Earth... although I’ll admit I never thought that you’d literally done so."

Rodney’s mouth tightened at the reminder. "I—you’re happy, right? He makes you happy?"

"Yes. I love him, and he loves me, Mer. And we have a beautiful little girl together." A smile curved Jeannie’s lips as she thought about her family. Looking at her brother, she continued, "I may have delayed some things, Mer, but I can have it all: my family and science. I think the fact that I’m standing here proves it."

"That’s... that’s good, what’s important—to be happy with everything," Rodney nodded.

Jeannie turned to face him directly, her expression intent as she regarded him searchingly. "That’s quite a change in attitude from you."

"Yes, well, blame it on John," Rodney muttered.

"About him..." Jeannie hesitated, then blurted out, "He’s not human, Mer!"

"You have to be kidding!" Rodney blurted. "What is this? Because I objected to you marrying Karl, you’re complaining about John?!"

Jeannie glared at him, her blue eyes all but shooting sparks. "You know better than that, Meredith Rodney McKay!" she snapped. "Forgive me if I’m a little uneasy about my only brother dating an alien from a species who just happens to be trying to destroy our entire planet!"

"Don’t you Meredith Rodney McKay me, Jeannie Ethel McKay Miller," Rodney snapped back. "Do you want to know why everyone knows just who he is?"

"Do tell," Jeannie replied, her glare not diminishing one iota.

"He was in a meeting here in the city, and I got blown to shit on some planet that was supposed to be peaceful. He vanished between one sentence and the next, got to where I was, and healed me—he opened himself up to all the shit people here could give him because of me. Me!"

Jeannie gave that due consideration and then nodded. "Good. Maybe he’s good enough for you then."

Rodney had his mouth open to continue his tirade, but when Jeannie’s words sank in, he fell silent and blinked several times. "He asked me to marry him."

"You are inviting me to the wedding." It wasn’t a question.

Rodney pressed his lips together as he nodded. "And Madison and Kar—Kaleb."

Jeannie rolled her eyes. "You know his name perfectly well, Mer. And why exactly didn’t you tell me any of this during the three weeks on the Daedalus?"

"Because we just agreed to get married, that’s why!"

A snort was Jeannie’s eloquent opinion of that. "I’m fairly certain that he didn’t look at you on our arrival and suddenly succumb to an unexpected and undying passion, meaning that you were in a relationship before you went back to Earth. So again, why didn’t you mention your boyfriend?" she demanded.

"Because I wanted you to meet him first!" Rodney sputtered. "And just why don’t you think that might have happened?" The last was added with a huff.

"Because if some man proposed to you out of the blue, I think you’d be yelling for a doctor, not a justice of the peace!"

"You have seen John, haven’t you?"

Jeannie chuckled. "Point," she admitted. "But that would get you into bed, not necessarily married."

"I just... wanted you to meet him first," Rodney said again, his voice dropping away to a mumble at the last.

Jeannie hugged him. "I’m glad you found the right person, Mer."

Rodney stood still, stunned, before he hesitantly hugged her back. "Thank you, Jeannie. I—I’m glad you’re happy."

"And it’s going to make for an interesting family Christmas," Jeannie added, watching Rodney out the corner of her eye.

"If we can make it," Rodney cautioned. "It depends on what’s going on here."

"Of course," Jeannie agreed, nodding. "But sooner or later we’ll manage a family holiday."

"I’d like that—for all of us to be together."

Jeannie beamed and hugged him again. "I’m glad you came to see me, Mer."

He hugged her back at that, his grip tight. "I’m glad you agreed to come."

"Saving two galaxies is pretty important," Jeannie replied, pausing before adding, "Almost as important as getting my big brother back."

END