Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis/Stargate: SG-1
Summary: Given his daily life, recurring dreams of a hot guy weren't exactly worth mentioning.
Notes: Alternate Universe. Use of a stasis chamber & Ancient technology.
Additional Note: Written as a gift for mific as part of the sga_secretsanta.
“Et sicut sopor. Nemo dicat, pace.”
A sigh, then, “Hic nihil est.”
Habitus cubiculum activa.
The door slamming followed by the stomp of feet from front door to office heralded Rodney's arrival home from school.
Jeannie steeled herself, clutching her coffee cup in both hands before telling Madison to finish her maths and leaving the kitchen behind.
It'd been a hell of a move and sometimes she wondered what she'd been thinking—Colorado might as well have been a different planet to Vancouver—but with the bills stacking up from the legal battle for custody of Rodney and Kaleb's student loans coming due, well, the SGC's offer had simply been too good to refuse. Hell, she'd pretty much been able to set the terms of her contract herself: her own department, a set 9 to 5 work week with the option to work from home when she chose, and a salary that would end their financial instability.
No more worries about job security, no more worries about bills. The SGC have even supplied her with a contact in their legal department so she could discuss Rodney's case with lawyers who could help her navigate the tricky immigration paperwork he would need.
But, of course, Rodney didn't care about any of that.
No, he was angry that she'd once again refused to let her brilliant genius brother graduate at last and move on to college...
(“You need to socialize with kids your age!”
He rolled his eyes and made a throaty, annoyed sound. “Simpletons, the lot of them.”)
…and instead forced him to move to the States to attend yet another high school. He took college courses too, but not nearly enough for his tastes.
Well-adjusted adult, she reminded herself as she entered the office, He needs this to be a well-adjusted adult, and greeted him at last, “Hey.”
He barely looked up from the computer, asking with palpable sarcasm, “Did you know that Newton had three laws of motion? I mean everyone does, but did you know it requires an entire 50 minute class to discuss them?”
“My brain is rotting. Actually rotting,” he interrupted, gesturing at his head with one hand.
“Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I think you'd smell significantly worse if you were decomposing from the inside out.”
“Ha.” He turned his attention fully back to the monitor, the latest lecture from his MIT distance learning course playing, and Jeannie leaned in to toss her arms around his neck and shoulders, hugging him with the chairback between them.
“You've got a few more weeks and then we'll speak with Kate, eh? Re-evaluate your educational plan?”
That got her the hint of a smile; she kissed his temple as she drew back, then reminded him, “Dinner soon. I'll come get you once Kaleb gets home. Oh, and Radek wants you to come to work with me tomorrow so remember to wash up before bed.”
Satus secundum vestibulum.
Work with Jeannie had become the highlight of his days. To be honest, it was just about the only time he felt useful and sane... appreciated.
He savored the minutes he spent at the whiteboard, checking over the maths other scientists had tried and failed to make sense of. He relished when someone would come to him for help, when it was acknowledged that he was as smart as his sister, maybe smarter.
It stroked his ego in amazing ways, which was likely why he was able to sleep so soundly after spending eight hours at Cheyenne: dreamless and peaceful, it was always the best rest he'd get during the week.
“You're a sight for sore eyes.”
“Nothing, buddy. Just... what's your name?”
“Nice to meet you. I'm John.”
It was weird. Rodney didn't normally dream like that, of people or places, but it reminded him too much of some of his favorite video games and the guy was attractive, he could totally admit that.
Hey, he was sixteen. The hormones were a-raging.
He chalked it up to the soda he'd spent the day chugging, his veins probably filled with more Coca-Cola than blood which excited his subconscious, and went on with his life. School, the SGC, home... Jeannie nagging him to make some friends and Rodney snarking back to make some herself.
“I have friends!”
Jeannie was forced to concede that fight, frowning as she did so, and Rodney counted it as victory until Jeannie befriended a handful of people the IOA had brought in. He did the typical teenage thing in response—argued and whined and pointed out that he would find friends eventually—and when he went to bed after one particularly spirited row, he found himself back in his weird little dreamworld, this time chatting with John as if he'd known him forever.
“You know, for a figment of my imagination, you give good advice.”
“Who says I'm a figment of your imagination? Maybe I'm not.”
“Considering the likelihood of my suddenly developing telepathy...” Pause. “Why are you smiling?”
“Aw, Rodney, if only you knew.”
Radek, did you see the latest translations from Dr. Jackson?
Only just finished them.
What do you think?
I think we will be spending much more time down here than we will like.
I'll warn Kaleb.
Manente virtute infra minimum exigentia.
“Veni cito, Rodney. Tempus breve est.”
By the winter that year, Rodney had realized two things: A) Jeannie was actually pretty awesome, all things considered, and B) his dreams about John had become all the more vivid. Nothing dirty, which of course had made him feel strange: had his subconscious seriously made up someone just so Rodney could have a friend?
It was disconcerting: hot guys in one's dreams did not generally show up to chat.
So he deemed latter had been something of a wake up call for him and while he still refused to befriend the morons within his age group, he gladly built relationships with people like Radek Zelenka, Daniel, Jackson Carson Beckett, and Elizabeth Weir. He and General O'Neill never quite clicked, but it wasn't nearly the adversarial rapport he had with Richard Woolsey.
Oddly enough, too, his grades clicked even higher—if one could elevate past a 4.0, well, Rodney did—and time seemed to move move faster. His days were split between school and work, his afternoons and nights filled with research, lectures, and Maddie, who'd suddenly decided he was the most amazing person ever.
(That development he really could have lived without.)
The dreams stopped.
He'd never told anyone about them when they'd started and he didn't tell anyone when they ended, and later, he'd learn the actual correlation to their coming and going. At that moment, however, he paid them no mind: new tech had been discovered off-world and Rodney, finally, was getting the chance to see another planet.
Of course, Jeannie was being overprotective—“You stay with me, understand? Wander off and I'll put you back in the lab with Kavanagh, so help me, Rodney...”—before and after arrival, but she loosened her leash a teeny bit once camp was set. (She didn't, but Rodney would hold that she did.)
This would be how he came to be in the ruins on his own, eyes wide as he examined the Ancient devices that were scattered about.
This was also how he came to be under the ruins an hour later:
“I told you to stay in the camp!” Jeannie was yelling through the radio, belying exactly how worried she was, “I told you the structural engineers needed to secure it first!”
“I didn't listen,” he grumbled back.
She didn't answer, but he could sense her fretting up above him; Rodney closed his eyes then, his head pounding as blood dripped down the side of his face, and he only vaguely thought to tell Jeannie, “Tired,” before falling asleep.
“I'm no medic, but you look like you need a doctor.”
“Brilliant deduction there, Sherlock.”
“Just sayin', Rodney, you look like hell.”
“Yeah, well, have a ten thousand year old laboratory fall on your head and see how you look.”
“Been there. Not exactly a career highlight, to be honest.”
“Yeah. Not quite ten thousand years old, but a warehouse being used for human experimentation—spent hours under the debris, nearly bled to death.”
“How'd you get out?”
“It's hard to explain.”
Rodney cocked his head to one side and made a face, daring John to start talking.
“What do you know about Temporal Prime Directive?”
“From Star Trek?”
“I told Cadman you'd say that...”
He jolted awake at the screech of his name, Jeannie's face floating into focus, and he muttered, “Just when we were getting to the interesting part.”
Tertiariis rationem finis.
After the lab was destroyed, Rodney had enough humility to expect O'Neill to dropkick him out of Cheyenne without so much as a last glance at the Stargate.
But the destruction had made it easier for the various departments to sort through the artifacts and determine what should be brought back through to Earth, and O'Neill grudgingly told him, “You're gonna have paperwork to sign—if we're going to drop buildings on you, you're getting a salary instead of the hourly wage.”
It left him smiling, despite the bandage around his head and the double vision and Jeannie hovering like the worried mother she was. The mama bird routine was helpful though, as she brought him every last thing he asked for, up to and including the artifact he'd been looking at when the building fell apart.
“What do you think it is?” she asked as she set the large cylindrical object on a rolling table.
He shrugged in response, glancing between her and the laptop screen. “It was glowing when I found it. Light source maybe?”
“And you're interested in it...”
“It's self-contained. If it was glowing by itself, it must have its own power source,” he told her matter-of-factly. He smiled faintly when she did and added, “It shouldn't take me too long to study.”
“There are days I honestly think you're just flagellating yourself.”
Rodney growled at his sister, glaring at the device in front of him: four years. Four years he'd been working on understanding it in an effort to learn how to locate and reverse engineer the power supply. How could something so small could cause so much aggravation, he didn't know.
Jeannie, naturally, made it a point to tease him as much as she could over the continuing frustration, though at that moment it would more than likely have just set him on a tirade: it'd been a long few weeks and Rodney had crossed from overtired in hyper-exhaustion, making him easily the grouchiest person in the entire department.
“Come on, we're both in overtime and you've got a class in the morning. Let's head home.”
Almost on cue, Rodney let out a prolonged yawn while blindly reaching for his hours-old coffee cup. “I'll be right behind you. I've got a couple of pictures to look over for SG-3. Shouldn't take more than twenty minutes.”
“All right. Make sure it's only twenty, hm? You need to sleep and we've got a full staff meeting tomorrow afternoon.”
“I'll set a timer.”
She knew he'd forget to do that and made a mental note to ask Jennifer to come by in half an hour to throw Rodney out; obviously, she didn't tell him that. Instead, Jeannie kissed his temple and said, “Love you.”
“Love you too. See you at home.”
He lasted about five minutes once she was gone before his head was down on the lab bench, head pillowed on his crossed arms.
John gave him a lopsided smile, relief clearly written on a face that hadn't aged a day. “Hello again.”
“Okay, this is weird.”
“Not to be blunt, but I have friends and am stable emotionally. Why are you back?”
“Kind of complicated.”
“I sense a but.”
“But you'll figure it out soon.”
“That's not an infuriating answer at all.”
“Eh, it's the best I can do.”
He flinched awake.
The device was glowing.
“Jeannie. Jeannie, it doesn't have a power source. It is a power source. Jeannie... It can power the 'Gate.”
The manic sputtering was hard to understand at first, but as she finally woke up, Jeannie realized what her brother was saying. “Rodney, the readouts...”
“Atlantis. We've can go there now. I mean, not right now, although yes, we could, but we can go. This thing—ZPM, we're calling them ZPMs—should be able to sustain the wormhole.”
She drove back to base without changing out of her pajamas, though she was not the only one to show up in similar clothing. (Photos of the science department, Samantha Carter included, circulated the private e-mails, many jokes made about their brightest minds coming to work in Frozen nightgowns and Deadpool onesies.)
“You, go down to the infirmary now. Janet's got a bed set up for you to sleep,” she ordered Rodney once she'd gotten everyone else shifted from excitement to work, “I don't want to see you in the lab for at least six hours.”
“You cracked it, Rodney. You'll get all the credit for that. Now either you report to Janet or you can go home and report to Kaleb.”
Sensing he wouldn't win the battle, he deflated a little and told her, “I'll go sleep in the infirmary,” not only so he could remain in the Mountain: the adrenaline rush had ebbed and there was no way, as he fought to just get one floor down, that he would have made it home before passing out.
Although he realized, shortly after arriving in Janet Fraiser's tender mercies, that finding a driver to take him home might have been a better plan.
“Stop twitching,” Carson chastised.
“Stop stealing all my blood!”
“It's not even a pint, you baby.”
Rodney's expression dropped from annoyance into frustration and he bitched, “I have delicate skin and anemia.”
“I'll get you a steak and some arnica.”
“I hate you sometimes.”
“Sometimes? I must be slipping.” Carson finished filling the last tube, pressing down on Rodney's arm as he withdrew the needle. “You know, if it wouldn't inflate your ego, I'd tell you that this might help us further our chances of getting to Atlantis. But I'd like you to be able to get through doors without damaging that delicate skin,” he told Rodney as he took the gauze and tape from Janet.
“My ego is perfectly sized, thank you.”
“Go to sleep now.”
Rodney flapped a hand in response and closed his eyes.
“There's a gene component. Carson's been working on it for years using General O'Neill's blood, but my gene is more pure.”
“Preen a little more. It's too subtle how proud you are of that.”
“Hey, not only did I have the breakthrough that got us a power supply capable to sustaining a wormhole from one galaxy to another, my gene is the one we're going to give people on the expedition! I am amazing.”
“You know, I'm glad to see that despite everything, you're still you, Rodney: pride before humility.”
“Oh, shut up.”
“You love it.”
“Shockingly, no. Not really.”
“You forget I know you far better than you know yourself.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes. Subconscious manifestation of everything I wish I was.”
“Aw, buddy, you're everything I am.”
“I'm not getting existential with my own brain. I've got too much to do to waste time with that mumbo jumbo.”
“That too.” He sighed. “I really should wake up soon—Jeannie and Radek were going to go over the latest simulation results and then I was supposed to join them to get ready for the IOA sit-down with Elizabeth to look over possible expedition members.”
“If a guy named Lorne isn't on the list, get him on it.”
“Trust me, he's going to be more useful than you know.”
How was the meeting?
Elizabeth's been named Head.
I think there would have been a mutiny if they'd gone with Woolsey.
You would have been the only one to have mutinied against Woolsey, Rodney.
Did you see the list?
Yes. Jeannie's bringing you a copy.
By the way, you feeling better?
You mean am I no longer bright orange and puking? Yes.
SG-5 and I are not on speaking terms right now, however.
Was someone named Lorne on the list?
Evan Lorne? No. He's taking over SG-1 for Cam.
He was a member of an SG team years ago and has been assigned to the Alpha Site until this week.
Just wanted to confirm some gossip I heard going around.
Rodney leaned against his lab bench, eyes firmly on the screen and the blinking cursor. He felt unsettled: he'd expected to have heard Lorne's name somewhere around the SGC, explaining how John had been able to mention him, but Alpha site crew was kept secret. Discussing the assignment with others was not permitted for the safety of everyone involved.
So where and how had Rodney come into at least a passing knowledge of the man?
It bothered him greatly, but as time wore on, it was pushed to the back of his mind in favor of finalizing plans, finalizing supply lists, finalizing policies...
(“We'll be on our own for at least a year since we'll be taking the primary ZPM with us. The Icarus was being rushed through the production line, but I think we'd rather have a safe vessel than earlier contact,” Elizabeth told the gathered personnel, “so we need plans in place for survival. I'd like at least 2 years just in case.”
Parrish nodded at her, assuring, “Dr. Brown and I have a supply of seeds packed and ready for planting as soon as we arrive. We would bring seedlings as well, but there isn't enough space in the pods for live plants.”
“How long after the planting can we expect a harvest?”
“A few weeks for some of the strains, a few months for others, but a good sustainable harvest that we could live off of will take a considerable amount of time. We will need a food supply for the interim.”)
...and calming Maddie.
When Jeannie and Rodney were offered Atlantis, it had been a bittersweet moment at first—they'd worked on the project for years, helped to find her and studied her people, but to go would mean leaving Kaleb and Maddie and that simply wasn't an option—until the IOA had, in desperation, offered select members the option to bring immediate family. Safe, most likely not, but they wanted Atlantis too much to lose the people who could bring her back to life.
Surprisingly, Kaleb had been fine with it.
(“You're really okay doing this?” Jeannie asked for the seventh time.
He smiled at her warmly, squeezed the hand he was holding, and admitted, “When you told me what you were working on, I knew, one day, you'd ask me to go there. It gave me plenty of time to decide that I'd rather go see this amazing thing that's taken so much of your time than hate it.”)
Maddie was not that accepting.
Much like Rodney years before, the idea of leaving behind everything she knew and loved was agonizing and she fought every step of the way.
“What did you expect? She's twelve.”
“Excitement? Wonder? We're going to another galaxy!”
“She's twelve. You're lucky she's not smothering you in your sleep for making her leave her friends and her school.”
“Please, like she even needs school.”
“Shockingly, Rodney, not everyone wants to skip grades or be treated differently because they're a genius.”
Rodney snarked back, “And those would be people who say they're a genius and are not,” before settling a little closer to John, feet dangling over the edge of the pier. Below the waves were gentle, splashing against the metal bulkheads, soothing him further.
John leaned in to bump Rodney's shoulder. “Are you ready?”
“I think so. I mean, packing space is at a premium and I've gotta share crate space with Madison, but the computers and the equipment are ready. Carson's probably going to want to vampire more blood out of me before we leave though.”
“Nice redirect there, buddy.” John smirked at him.
“What do you expect me to say? I'm as ready as I'm going to get. It's not like I've got precedent for what it'll be like there.”
“There really isn't.”
Rodney felt the following emotions in order upon arriving in Atlantis: awe, astonishment, fear, joy, peace, terror.
One minute they'd been moving around, exploring, the next slammed into walls and floors as the city gave up on trying to keep them on the ocean floor. If there were supposed to be inertial dampeners or the ascent slower or even chairs, not a single member of the science staff could say. They could only hold onto the consoles as they rode to the surface.
Thankfully the resulting injuries from the jolt were few; a soldier had held onto Maddie and kept her safe until Rodney could grab her back, only vaguely aware of the name patch on her uniform that read Cadman.
He kept his niece close after that, leaving Jeannie and Kaleb alone with Elizabeth and some of the other Senior Staff to start organizing the teams and sorting supplies while he and a small team went down to the power room with the ZPM.
Once there, the only thing that kept him from shanking Kavanagh during the installation was the blare of the citywide alert.
“What the hell happened?” Simpson shouted from the other side of the room.
“It's not us!” he yelled back, looking up at the screen that'd lit to the side of the room: a specific area of the city had come awake ahead of the others, but something was wrong and it was drawing too much power. He dove for the ZPM with a handful of others, each getting a good shock as the city's failsafes overrode the extraction and kept it firmly in place.
He growled at the unit, glanced at the screen once more, before grabbing Maddie's wrist and taking off in a run.
“Rodney?” Maddie's eyes were huge.
He turned to her, dropped his hands onto her shoulders, and pushed Maddie back until her back hit the wall. “Stay here, okay? Don't move unless I tell you,” he told her; he clicked the radio at his ear, calling, “Jeannie?”
“Rodney, what is going on down there? Kavanagh and Simpson are reporting burns, and no one can find Maddie.”
“I have her. Lock on my location—we're going to need a medical team, Radek, and you.”
Jeannie was the first to arrive, Radek on her heels, and both skidded short as they came to see what it was that had Rodney calling for help.
“Oh, my God.”
Rodney made a noise of agreement without looking up from the console he was hovering over; he wondered exactly how long it would be before he caved and met his sister's eyes, who would inevitably demand to know what it was he hadn't told her.
Elizabeth charged in shortly thereafter, giving him a little bit longer of a reprieve when she gasped, “His uniform...”
If Lorne was surprised or excited or even upset, it was hard to tell, his expression unchanged, though his hand did twitch against his leg.
“I know,” Jeannie neared the console, trying to wedge herself in between Rodney and Maddie.
“I can't stop the power surges. I don't know what it's trying to do, but every time I try to shut it down, it institutes an emergency protocol to stop me.”
“Have you tried...”
She huffed a breath, then, “Rodney, stop.”
His brow furrowed and he demanded, “What? Why?”
“The longer we fight, the more power Atlantis draws. Just stop, let her do whatever it is she's trying to do.”
“But,” he tried, catching her gaze. For a moment, he was sure she could see the resistance in him, the reason why he wanted to keep the chamber locked up and quiet; her expression went calm, understanding, and she repeated, “Stop.”
Listen to her, John's voice was a whisper in his mind.
He lifted his hands away and Atlantis, taking the permission for what it was, pulled in the power she'd been needing. The room grew brighter as the field within the chamber began to pull back, panels on either side coming on to show the change in vitals as the life support system shut down.
When it was over, barely an hour later, John was leaning against the back of the cubicle, a little bit shocky and a little bit tired despite the millenniums of rest, and he looked right at Rodney before he passed out.
“You know, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably the least terrifying thing I've ever done.”
“Good. Because your life is going to be very different when you come out of here, John.”
He couldn't stop himself from the hope that gave him, something he doubted Janus expected, and he told the other, “It better be,” as an explosion rocked Atlantis. “Make sure Rodney gets the gene.”
“And the relay?”
“He'll come in contact with one of my inventions, I promise you. Once he's activated it, the signal will take a few days to get through the network, but it will reach Atlantis.”
“It'll be like a deep sleep. Dreamless, peaceful.”
“Until he connects.”
John took a deep breath—this plan hinged on entirely too many ifs to be perfect—thought once last time about the city he was leaving behind, and sighed. “Here goes nothing,” he muttered as he stepped into the chamber.
He slept for days, which gave Rodney plenty of time to tell Jeannie—and Carson, and Elizabeth, and Radek, and pretty much the entire expedition—about all the dreams he'd had, the bits and pieces of things that now made sense as he came to accept that John had been a flesh and blood person all these years.
“You could have told me,” he grumbled to John after finally giving his sister the slip.
Still sleeping, he didn't respond, but Rodney didn't care, needing more than anything else to vent. “Why didn't you tell me? I could have handled it, you know! And more importantly, why me? I think you deliberately chose me which is just weird, I have to say.”
“Because you're important.”
Rodney's eyes snapped to John's and he stepped close to the bed, one hand gripping the rail to try to steady his shaking. “Am I?”
John gave him a content smile. “The best man I've ever known.”
Also available on AO3.