By Annie and Lyn
All Art by Lily
Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard gave the collar of his dress uniform a frustrated tug then looked over at his teammate, Dr. Rodney McKay, who was grinning at him smugly. “I hate wearing these things,” Sheppard growled. “At least I didn’t have to wear a tux, I suppose.”
“You get used to them if you attend as many prize winning dinners as I have,” McKay replied smugly.
“The last time you wore a tux was when you came back to visit that guy you said had stolen your best work,” Sheppard observed.
McKay shrugged. “I attended plenty of black tie affairs before I went to Atlantis,” he said, turning to look across the room where their Satedan friend, Ronon Dex was circling the buffet like a hungry wolf in the middle of a hard winter. “I hope he’s leaving some food for the rest of us,” McKay added. “I didn’t have time to eat before we left. Me fainting from hypoglycemia just as they pin the medal on me isn’t going be pretty… or dignified.”
“How come Ronon’s not wearing a tux?” Sheppard asked.
“I don’t think they make them that big,” McKay said with a small smile. “Ah,” he said gleefully as Ronon reached them, a plate piled high with food in his hands. “Thank you, my Satedan friend.”
“Hey!” Ronon grunted as McKay plucked two pieces of chicken and a sandwich off the pile of food on the plate. “Get your own, McKay.”
“Can’t,” Rodney mumbled around a mouthful, “told Jennifer and Teyla I’d meet them here.”
Ronon fingered the bright medal pinned to the lapel of his black jacket. “Never thought I’d be getting one of these,” he said around a mouthful of food.
“Well, you deserved it,” Sheppard said, giving him a grin. “You did kinda help save Earth and the Pegasus Galaxy a few times.”
“Well, I think we all deserved it,” Rodney said, glancing down at his own medal with obvious pride.
“So do I.”
Sheppard looked around Rodney and saw Jennifer Keller looping her arm around Rodney’s waist. Teyla was just behind her, Torren held securely in her arms. He whistled and smiled when both women blushed.
“Who was that for?” Keller asked mischievously.
“Both of you,” Sheppard replied quickly.
“A very diplomatic answer,” Teyla said, as she pulled her own medal from Torren’s inquisitive fingers. “It’s not a toy, Torren,” she said to the baby who gave her a gummy grin in response and reached for the medal again. “Would you mind looking after it for me?” she asked, unpinning it and dropping it into Ronon’s hand.
“Sure,” Ronon replied easily, putting the medal into a pocket. “Don’t forget to get it back from me. I’m sure Kanaan is going to want to see it and show it off to your people when we get back.”
“I’m sure he will,” Teyla replied, smiling wistfully. “I must admit both Torren nd I are missing him very much and I hope it won’t be too long before we can return home.
John patted her shoulder and smiled sympathetically at her, tickling Torren’s chin with his other hand. “I… We’ll do our best to get you back to him as soon as we can,” he said.
“Rodney, do you think we could talk… alone?” Jennifer interrupted, smiling apologetically at the others. “I’m sorry to drag him away. Just some stuff I need to… Well, it doesn’t matter. Rodney?”
“Sure.” Rodney waved a hand at the others and followed her from the room.
“She’s gonna break up with him,” Sheppard said knowingly.
“I believe it may be mutual,” Teyla interjected, sadness evident in her eyes.
“Ah, they’ll get over it,” Sheppard said lightly. “Plenty of things to fill their time now they’re back home.”
“Well, now, don’t you all look splendid?” a voice with a broad Scots accent said.
“Hey, Doc. Didn’t think you were going to make it,” Sheppard said as he turned around.
“I thought I was going to have to perform an appendectomy on Major Coburn but it turned out to be just a bit too much celebrating in the mess hall last night that caused the problem,” Carson Beckett said with a smile as Teyla hugged him. “Hello, little man,” he said to Torren who reached out and let Carson take him into his arms.
Carson looked around. “Where’s Rodney? Oh, wait a minute. No Jennifer either. I suppose the lovebirds have gone off for a bit of privacy. Ah, here’s Rodney now.” Carson peered around Rodney as he joined them. “Where’s Jennifer?”
“Um, she went to her quarters. She wasn’t feeling well,” Rodney said quickly though the slump of his shoulders looked more like dejected acceptance than concern.
“Maybe I should go check on her—” Carson said.
“No!” Rodney interrupted. “She said she wanted some time alone.” He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand. “Look, you’re all going to find out sooner or later. We broke up.” He started to raise a hand to stop the obviously expected onslaught of questions then shook his head. “You’re not surprised. Guess you all wondered how she put up with me for so long anyway.”
“The thought had crossed my mind,” Ronon grunted even as he patted Rodney’s shoulder.
“Of course not,” Teyla said, shooting Ronon a glare. “You made a lovely couple. Sometimes people simply drift apart.” She took Torren from Carson and leaned forward to kiss Rodney’s cheek. “I should take Torren and put him to bed. I don’t want him getting out of his bedtime routine now that Kanaan and I finally got him into one. Mr. Woolsey kindly organized for some food from the banquet to be sent up to our quarters so I’ll eat there.”
“Wait a minute,” Ronon said, pulling her medal from his pocket and handing it to her. “Wouldn’t want you to forget this.”
“Thank you,” she said, inclining her head. “Goodnight. Wave goodbye to your friends, Torren.”
The child gave a broad, gummy smile and waved over Teyla’s shoulder as she walked away.
“I’m sorry, buddy,” Sheppard said, turning to Rodney. “No fun being dumped, is it?”
“Oh, like you’d know, Captain Kirk,” Rodney snarked as he grabbed the plate of food out of Ronon’s hand. “Anyway, what makes you think she dumped me? Hmm? Maybe I was the dumper, not the dumpee.”
“And were you?” Carson asked, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
“It was mutual, if you must know, Dr. Nosy McParker,” Rodney snapped back. He shoved a piece of quiche into his mouth and chewed it quickly then grabbed the last sandwich and handed the empty plate back to Ronon.
“Glad to see it hasn’t affected your appetite,” Carson said, grinning as a disgruntled Ronon went back to the buffet table.
“Well, even people with broken hearts need to eat,” Rodney mumbled around his mouthful. “Anyway, as I was saying, it was mutual. We both decided maybe we’d rushed into things because of the situation we were in, the life we were living. You know, never knowing whether each day was going to be your last…”
“Aye, my parents got married for the same reason,” Carson said sagely.
“Oh come on, your parents never went to another galaxy and fought life sucking creatures,” Rodney said scathingly.
“No, Rodney, they didn’t. I’m talking about the second World War,” Carson replied, shaking his head. He rubbed his hands together. “So… What’s everyone going to do now we’re back on Earth. I’m off to visit Mum tomorrow but I’m at a bit of a loose end after that.”
“Well,” Sheppard clapped Carson on the back, “I have to go see my brother and I want to go check on Ford’s grandparents but after that…” he waited till Ronon joined them, his plate of food held protectively against his chest, “I thought we’d go fishing. You know we never did get to go fishing with you last time round and I know this little place up near the Cascade Mountains-“
“Fishing? I hate fishing,” Rodney spluttered. “I was thinking Las Vegas, casinos, scantily clad dancing girls…”
“I like the sound of his idea best,” Ronon said, pointing a drumstick in Rodney’s direction. “Did enough fishing when I was a kid.”
Sheppard gave him a none too subtle kick in the ankle and inclined his head toward Carson who was looking crestfallen. “We missed the last chance we had to go fishing with Carson,” he said. “So, who’s in?”
“Yeah, all right, I’ll go,” Rodney agreed reluctantly, “but we head for Vegas on the way back.”
“Sure, why not. They should have cleared all the Wraith out of there by now,” Sheppard said, grinning as Rodney paled.
“Fine, Hollywood, New York, somewhere besides a cold lake with slimy fish,” Rodney said.
“Ronon?” Sheppard asked.
Ronon nodded. “Yeah, okay, for the doc.”
Carson beamed broadly at them then looked sidelong at Rodney. “If you’ve something better to do… I don’t want you to come out of a sense of guilt, Rodney…”
“It’s fine. Fishing, it is.” Rodney winced as Ronon nudged him. “Yeah, okay, Conan, I get it. I’m not completely without feelings, you know.” He turned to Carson. “I want to go,” he said. “I mean, look what happened last time you couldn’t find anyone to go fishing with you.” He shuddered. “Worst time of my life.”
“Why, thank you, Rodney,” Carson said.
“You Scots are seriously weird, you know that, right?” Rodney held up a hand as Carson opened his mouth. “Rhetorical question. So,” he looked around the group, “I’m exhausted and I’ve got an early start in the morning.”
“So you heading off to see Jeannie?” Sheppard asked.
“Yeah, Madison’s taking me for show and tell at school,” Rodney replied glumly. “Jeannie’s promised me lunch at a decent restaurant afterwards though,” he said, his mood suddenly brightening.
Ronon snorted a laugh and Rodney glared at him. “What?”
“Only you’d agree to do something if it involved the promise of food,” Ronon said, stuffing a piece of pie in his mouth.
“Look who’s talking.”
“Children!” Carson remonstrated but he was smiling as he placed a hand on each of their shoulders. “Fishing!” he said as he wandered off towards the buffet table with Rodney hot on his heels. “You’ll love it, Rodney. I remember when I was a boy of around ten…”
Sheppard shook his head then smiled at Ronon. “It’s a nice thing to do. So what are you going to do before we leave?”
Ronon shrugged. “It’s not like I’ve got anyone here to visit. I’ll find something to keep me out of trouble.”
“You could come with me when I go see my brother. It’s not like he hasn’t met you before.”
“Nah. He’s likely to get the wrong impression if I show up at his house with you again,” Ronon said.
“What wrong impression?” John asked suspiciously.
“You know, that we’re sharing a bedroll,” Ronon said easily, grinning broadly.
“Oh,” John said, “well, have fun anyway.”
“I’ll hang out with Teyla, maybe babysit Torren for her, let her have some time to get adjusted to being on Earth,” Ronon said easily.
“There’s a total mushball underneath that barbarian exterior,” John observed with a grin.
Ronon shrugged. “I like kids.”
“Okay, well, I’m heading off. Got an early start tomorrow. I’ll see you when I get back. How about we head off Sunday morning around 0530.”
Ronon shrugged. “Fine by me but McKay’s gonna kill you for making him get up that early.”
“Ah, he barely sleeps anyway. He’ll be fine.” John took a last look around the room and waved goodbye to Rodney and Carson who were still standing at the buffet table then he headed for his quarters and a much needed night’s sleep.
To Part Two