Prompt: There’s a mystery gift under the tree for your child. What is it and who gave it to them?
SGA gen. Little Rodney.
All I Want For Christmas
Colonel John Sheppard stood back from the tree he’d just finished decorating and looked it over with a critical eye. It looked pretty good if he did say so himself. Sure, the tinsel wasn’t quite as evenly placed as he remembered his mom doing it and the angel on top was more ragged than pristine, but for a first time tree decorator he’d thought he’d done okay.
Walking carefully on sock-clad feet so as not to waken the sleeping occupant of his room, he crossed to the bureau in the corner and from the top drawer removed the gaily wrapped parcel he’d hidden there when he and Rodney returned from Earth a few days ago.
He’d been rather surprised Rodney had chosen to return to Atlantis with him for Christmas when John had been sure he’d have chosen to stay on Earth with Jeannie and Kaleb and Madison. It had been what Jeannie wanted, John knew. He hadn’t missed the hurt in her eyes when Rodney had emphatically stated his preference as to where he wanted to spend Christmas.
“I want to go back with John,” Rodney had said firmly and John could only flash a look of sympathy across at Jeannie, even while inside he was secretly rejoicing at not having to leave Rodney behind.
Now though, as he looked at the gift he’d bought and pictured the contents, he was wondering if he’d done the right thing. Inside the wrapping was a train set, something Rodney had once told John he’d always wanted but never had when he was a kid. Well, the first time he was a kid anyway, John amended mentally.
He looked over at his bed. Rodney was still asleep, light brown hair flopping messily over his forehead. He had ridiculously long eyelashes for a boy, John thought, walking across to the bed to look down at his best friend. He stood there for a moment, resisting the urge to brush the hair back from Rodney’s face. Instead he contented himself with a gentle pat on Rodney’s shoulder, then, mind made up, he walked back to the tree and pushed the gift beneath it.
He sat cross-legged before it and closed his eyes, thinking back to the day Rodney had returned from an away mission with another team. They’d found nobody on the planet but children Major Lorne had reported back just after they arrived, and there seemed no clue to where the adults were. Rodney had found the answer, as he usually did, and in his own inimitable way, by activating the anti-aging device the Talerians used to keep their population at a static rate. Rodney had been frozen in place on the dais before the machine, bathed in an eerie orange glow. When the light finally went out, instead of Dr. Rodney McKay, astrophysicist and the smartest man in two galaxies, there stood a small boy of around five, the clothing he wore now sagging around his much smaller frame. Lorne had gathered the kid up and lit out for the gate and home.
When they arrived back, Sheppard met them in the gateroom, heart in his mouth at the thought of what he might find. What he found was a little boy who walked unerringly up to him and, looking up, said, “I think I screwed up again, John.”
John held back the snort of laughter at the sound of something so typical of Rodney coming from the small mouth but then relief at realizing AdultRodney, his friend Rodney, was still there inside this miniature version dropped him to his knees. He opened his arms and pulled Rodney in for a hug. “We’ll find a way to fix it, buddy, I promise.”