Times Like These - Ch. 5
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 Rodney does not enjoy children. He never has, didn’t enjoy them even when he was one but perhaps it’s simply knowing that this child in particular is John fucking Sheppard that makes it a bit more bearable. Which is to say not bearable at all but he supposes it could be worse. A six year old Ronon… now that was a terrifying thought. No, Tiny Sheppard is curious and quiet, not entirely as stoic as his adult self but Rodney imagines that this is about the age that Patrick Sheppard began to teach his son that feelings were nonsense, that boys just simply didn’t show emotion, didn’t cry and it almost makes Rodney want to continue to scour the database for any remnants of Janus’ time machine just to travel back to 1973 and kick the elder Sheppard square In the balls. Anyway. Anyway. While Rodney does not enjoy children, he doesn’t mind the company of this particular child which is why Tiny Sheppard is sprawled out on his belly near Rodney’s work station, working on some easier equations that Rodney had written down for him while Rodney, you know, tries to figure out a way to fix this. It’s a particular brand of torture for him, having John right here but not here at all. There’s a quiet sigh from the floor beside him and Rodney glances down to see John drop his head to his arms, equations only halfway finished. “Oh, hello. Yes. What’s the matter with you?” “’m tired of doin’ this, Rodney,” he huffs, voice muffled by his arms but something twists inside of Rodney the way it does every time Tiny Sheppard says his name, the lazy drawl that is so familiar, except so foreign with the tinier voice. “Yes well, chop, chop. Back to it. We need to keep your mind sharp.” “My head hurts,” he says and Rodney can’t see his face but he knows he’s pouting. He can hear it in his voice, can practically see his John in his mind’s eye and in this moment, he’s struck by just how much he misses him that it very nearly steals his breath. He’s so caught up in his own misery that he almost misses the quiet whimper that escapes from the child. Rodney sighs, a loud put upon thing that everyone knows is just for show when it comes to John, even in this miniature form. “Get up then.” “Where’re we goin’?” He asks and he pushes himself up much quicker than he’d laid down, practically bouncing on the falls of feet despite just claiming not feeling well. Little shit. Rodney has a sneaking suspicion that maybe he’s been had. “If all of this,” Rodney says, gesturing broadly to the lab, “doesn’t hold your interest, perhaps some of the other labs will. Zelenka and I found a couple new pieces of Ancient Tech in the lab below the East Pier.” John looks almost giddy at the thought of that and he runs ahead of Rodney, leaving the scientist to roll his eyes as he follows behind. At least this hasn’t changed.
--- The thing that John notices is how loud it gets in his head the closer they get to the East Pier. He can feel ‘Lantis almost all the time now but he likesher. She’s soothing and even though he knows she exists only in his head, she’s warm and he knows that he’s her favorite. He knows it just like how he knows that Rodney likes Blue Jell-O, just like he knows that Rodney and Teyla and Ronon are his family, in that no one has to tell him or remind him. It’s just there. But now, ‘Lantis seems unhappy with him, the thrum of her in his head getting louder. He stops in the hallway, pressing his hand to his forehead as Rodney continues on and he’s loud and he talks a lot but usually it’s comforting. Now though, it just hurts. “Rodney,” John says and Rodney stops, turning back to him. “Well, I told you it was a long walk from the lab,” he huffs and he comes back toward John. “What’s—oh.” John can feel something trickling down his nose and he reaches up, touching it with his finger. Blood. He can hear Rodney, sort of, on his comm calling for someone, but it kind of feels like that time they were on vacation at Nantasket Beach and a big wave knocked him under water. The thrumming has gotten louder and he gasps, dropping to his knees, hands gripping the sides of his head. He thinks he hears someone calling his name before there are hands touching him, guiding him to floor before something explodes inside of his head. --- Rodney remembers the first time Jeannie had a seizure. She was five and they were in a department store, the two of them left to their own devices outside of the fitting rooms while their mother tried on about twelve different dresses. Jeannie was hiding in the clothes racks, trying to goad him into finding her but he was too old for such nonsense and besides, he knew Mother would be incredibly unhappy if she came out to find him engaging. He was sulking near the doorway, hands in his pockets when all of a sudden, Jeannie’s giggles stopped. She came out from one of the clothes racks, complaining about her fingers having gone numb, eyes wide in something that Rodney would later come to understand as a feeling of panic that presented just before. She opened her mouth, called his name and before he closed the space between them, she dropped to the floor and began to seize violently. He remembered screaming for Mother, remembered the well meaning trying to hold Jeannie down, remembered the feeling of not being able to breathe until it finally stopped just under three minutes later. It would be several seizures later before there was an official diagnosis as initially, Mother and Father wrote it off as some attention seeking behavior, and Rodney had already hated them for some years prior to this but that just cemented his opinion that they never should’ve been allowed to procreate. He doesn’t need Carson to tell him that John had a seizure. Rodney remembers, thankyouverymuch, and what he needs for Carson is for him to explain whyit happened. Which, of course, he cannot. Which, of course, sends Rodney in an almost apocalyptic rant about voodoo scientists and shitty ancients and this entire god damned galaxythat takes both Teyla and Ronon to drag him from the infirmary. Thankfully, or horrifically, John remains unconscious for the whole thing. Rodney hates this place. --- He spends the next twenty seven hours in his lab. He bars everyone except Zelenka and between the two of them, they manage to decode a disgusting ten percent of the database specifically on off-world outposts. Teyla stops by several times, twice to bring him food and a third time to tell him that John was awake and asking for him. Rodney likes to think that John will forgive him for not coming, given the fact that he’s trying to figure this out before there’s another seizure and perhaps the loss of valuable brain cells. After twenty seven hours, one minute and thirty nine seconds, Ronon shows up and drags Rodney bodily from the lab with an order called over his shoulder for Zelenka to go get
some rest. Even Rodney, tired as he is, hears the unspoken threat that if he comes back and Zelenka is still there, Ronon will throw him over his shoulder and carry him out himself. “I have to figure this out,” Rodney protests as Ronon palms the door to his quarters open and shoves him inside. “Think of how much stuff you might be missin’, McKay, because you’re too tired to focus. Sleep. Get somethin’ to eat and then go back to it.” “But--.” He watches as Ronon figures his blaster (set to stun hopefully) in warning and he holds his hands up, but only because he’s too tired to argue. “Fine,” he huffs. “But if John can’t recite Pi to the twenty sixth digit when he’s back to himself, I’m sending him after you.” “Go for it. Get some sleep.” He turns and before he can stop himself, Rodney calls out to him. Ronon turns, brow raised in question. “Who… who’s sitting with John? I just mean… well, he doesn’t like the infirmary and--.” “McKay,” Ronon says again. “We’ve got him, alright? Get some sleep.” Rodney’s shoulders slump miserably as he nods and then disappears into his room. Twenty seven hours, twenty three minutes and four seconds after John had a grand mal seizure in the corridor leading to the East Pier, Rodney finally, reluctantly, lays down. Two minutes and forty five seconds later, which is the amount of time that Jeannie had seized that first awful time, Rodney gives into sleep.