Going Home
by linda.ljc
Characters: Rodney, Ronon, Teyla, Torren, John (I seem to be on a first name basis with all of them!)
Category: Angst, Humor, Comfort, Smarm
Beta by Annie: Thanks for the punctuation corrections, Annie, etc. And for the kind words. :)
Rating: Gen
Warning: a little running from the Wraith.
Series: None
Challenge: None

Summary: The team and toddler Torren on a mission. Rodney's observations prove quite useful.
Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis belong to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corporation. All other publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis or any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story was written by linda.ljc with the love of the show in mind.

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John strolled into Rodney's lab with a bright smile and barely contained energy. Seeing the object of his search he drawled, “Hey, McKay. Are you ready to go?”

Rodney dropped his head forward and sighed in frustration. “No, Colonel. If I remember correctly I told you this was important. That Radek was off on his little jaunt to the mainland to look at the generator and I had to fix the phase adjustment in the waste recycler before we're up to our necks in … waste.”

“Oh. Yeah, I remember. You don't have it fixed yet?”

Rodney slowly spun his chair around to face Sheppard. “No. Soon. Maybe.”

“Oh, one word sentences. You do remember that we're on a deadline for the mission? You've got to be done soon.”

“I know. The sooner you leave, the sooner it gets done.”

John grinned wider. “See. I knew you'd have a plan. We leave in two hours. Briefing in an hour.”

If Rodney had the time to spare he'd manage to have the last word … “Bring coffee!” he yelled at the last moment.

Rodney grinned as he heard John chuckle just as the door slid shut behind him.

<><><>

The briefing was short. The coffee was hot. The village they were visiting was an ally of not only Atlantis, but also of the Athosians for generations before the Lanteans had arrived. It was really almost an excuse for an outing and Rodney would never admit that he was kind of looking forward to it. If truth be told, he didn't really want to miss it. The promise of good food and a relatively easy walk to the village were too good to pass up. And they didn't have citrus anywhere on the planet. Very civilized of them, as far as Rodney was concerned.

The 'Gate dialed the address and received confirmation to step through. The weather was perfect for the mission. It was warm and sunny with a light breeze. Rodney felt quite pleased at the prospect, but stumbled a step when the thought occurred to him that “perfect” and “mission” never went together in the same sentence, at least in his experience. He did his best to lay that thought to rest and concentrated on the idea of “harvest feast”. That was a comforting thought.

Torren was beginning to fuss, which to Rodney's ear was an irritant, but really the toddler hadn't actually cried at all … yet. Rodney was a smart man, even he knew he was whining when he asked, “Why bring the baby to this harvest feast get-together? He won't remember any of it and he's obviously not enjoying himself, and neither will I if he's going to cry all the way there.”

Teyla didn't even try to hide a relaxed grin as she answered. “Rodney, it is important for our friends to know us and our families. It bonds our peoples together. This renewing of ties will introduce Torren to our allies as I was introduced when I was a child. It will only strengthen us.”

Ronon asked, “Do you want me to carry him for a while?”

Rodney's eyes grew wider as he watched the careful transfer of Torren into Ronon's large and callused hands.

John grinned and clapped Ronon gently on the shoulder. “He looks good there, buddy. Got any plans for the future?”

Ronon narrowed his eyes and glared at Sheppard for a moment before gentling his look as he turned it back to Torren. He held the baby with one big hand under his bottom and gently bounced the boy up and down. “My mother used to care for some of the younger cousins. This usually calmed them right down when they fussed.”

It seemed to do the trick Rodney observed, and when Sheppard seemed to actually be impressed, Rodney decided he should remember that little trick even if Madison was a little old for it. You never knew what would come in handy in Pegasus. Or, oh no! If Jeannie had another baby, she'd probably expect Uncle “Mer” to babysit! Observation would be good. The more he learned, the better. He really appreciated self-defense even if it only preserved his dignity.

Rodney knew that it was Sheppard that was keeping watch on that hike to the village, what with Teyla and Ronon passing Torren back and forth. Rodney kept tensing up every time a changeover was suggested. He was afraid he'd be conscripted into the rotation so he kept his life signs detector firmly in front of him to deflect any movement in his direction. He'd let out a tense little sigh every time they ignored him. After a while he was starting to feel a little left out, but firmly quashed the feeling when he thought of trying to soothe the baby. He was an astrophysicist. Baby bouncing was not in his job description.

They had just come over the last hill, and the village and its surrounding fields and orchards were visible spread out in the valley below. Rodney stopped and stared at his detector. He squeaked out, “Wait. Stop. There's something wrong.”

Ronon quickly passed Torren to Teyla, pulled out his very-big-gun and covered their six as John's P-90 came up from its near-resting position. Rodney pondered the energy readings that didn't fit the peaceful village scene before them.

Sheppard asked quietly, “Well. What do you see on that? And where?”

Rodney moaned quietly, “Wraith! On foot. Two. Opposite side of the village. I don't see evidence of dart signatures. Or a Hive.”

“These could be scouts. Teyla, you need to warn the people. Get them to shelters or off-planet, whatever their plans are for emergencies.”

Rodney glanced at Teyla and saw the anguish on her face before her expression hardened. She glanced quickly at Sheppard and Ronon, and Rodney could tell exactly when her decision was made. She thrust the baby at Rodney, who couldn't help the little yelp of disbelief.

“Will you take him back to Atlantis, Rodney?”

Rodney held Torren awkwardly under the baby's arms and found words impossible to form. He felt himself gaping like a landed fish, when he saw Sheppard nod his agreement.

“That's a good idea. McKay takes Torren back to Atlantis and sends 'Jumpers and help. Send a medical team, too, McKay. Maybe if we can take out these scouts, we can prevent or delay a culling. Teyla … go! Rodney ... get moving. Ronon, you're with me.” And with those orders in place, everyone was on the move. John twisted to face Rodney, “McKay,” he said softly, “keep an eye on the detector. Let us know if Wraith arrive through the 'Gate.” Then he turned and jogged away before Rodney could even gulp an affirmative.

Rodney took only one hesitant step after them, then stopped and glared at Torren. He allowed himself a single, soft, “Oh, no. Why me?” Torren's face scrunched up and Rodney started bouncing him in one hand like Ronon had, but faster. Torren looked startled and then rubbed his fists roughly across his face and started to cry in earnest. Rodney's quick glance told him that unfortunately it wasn't loud enough to reach Teyla who was already well down the hill.

Rodney sighed in defeat and turned resolutely toward the 'Gate. “Ah, shhhhh. Hushhhh, Torren.” Rodney finally realized he was bouncing the baby too fast when he thought back on his observations of Ronon and Teyla. He cuddled Torren to his chest and patted his back gently, trying desperately to be comforting. “What do I know about comforting a child? Nothing! Rien! Nichego! Nic! Betsu ni!”

That earned a tiny sob of interest from Torren and he stuck his thumb in his mouth and stared at Rodney, who rolled his eyes and kept desperately to the path at the best pace he could. They'd taken a leisurely pace on the way to the village. It had been nearly an hour, and it would take almost that long for him to return with him carrying the baby … and watching his detector. The Wraith had nothing to encumber them, and they might skirt the village and head for the 'Gate. Rodney swallowed hard at that realization, and cuddled Torren a little tighter until he squirmed, and Rodney whispered, “Sorry. Sorry.” And patted his little bottom gently. Torren settled in against his shoulder, tucking his nose into Rodney's neck and sighed softly.

Rodney looked carefully at the detector every few minutes. After traveling about half the distance, what he saw on the screen made him come to an immediate halt. The 'Gate had activated and two more Wraith signatures appeared, and they wasted no time heading directly for the village, and Rodney and Torren.

“Oh, I knew this was a bad idea. I just knew it.” He clicked on the mic and whispered a warning. “Sheppard. Two more at the 'Gate. I'm leaving the trail.”

Sheppard simply clicked and said quickly, “Affirmative. Can you evade?”

“Doing my best. I've got the LSD.”

He thought about the path to the 'Gate and tried to remember if there were rocky outcrops, boulders, thick brush or anything that could hide them and their footprints. He turned back toward the village to reach the closest patch. He rounded a curve in the trail and saw the depression he was looking for. It looked like it would channel runoff during the spring and after heavy rains, but at the present was a slow moving stream. He leaned under low branches, trying his best not to break any. He stepped over clumps of dead leaves and dry, broken branches left behind in the gravel. When he slipped on some rocks and smudged them he carefully sprinkled bits of debris on it to hide it from sight. “Hmm. I must have picked up more than I thought from observing.” Finally he was able to maneuver through the little vale until he was out of line-of-sight of the path.

As Rodney had scrambled through the brush, Torren was jounced out of his comfortable niche against Rodney's neck and he began to fuss when he seemed to realize it wasn't Teyla's shoulder he was sleeping on. “Oh, now you wake up?” Rodney tensed and glanced around hastily. “Da – Darn. Must whisper!” He took a fortifying breath. “Didn't I get you this far? Didn't I let you sleep while I did all the work?” When the baby just took a deeper breath and his mouth opened wider, Rodney's eyes widened with horror. “Nononono. Non. Shhhh. Be very, very quiet or the Wraith will get us! Please, baby … Torren. Ummm. Ah, I'll sing for you. That's right. Your mom sings you to sleep all the time. I'll sing really softly.” He looked at the little creek and muttered, “Let's hope it will cover a crying baby, but until then, maybe I can manage a really quiet song.”

What to sing? What to sing? “Uh, okay Michael Rennie was ill The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Rodney swayed slightly with the music and he was encouraged when Torren took a shuddering breath and held it as if in anticipation, or maybe threat. Rodney took a moment to set the detector on a ledge of rock and glanced at it furtively before taking a breath. “Where was I? Never mind … Then at a deadly pace “It Came From Outer Space”. And this is how the message ran: Science fiction, double feature “Doctor X” will build a creature.”

Torren let out a shuddering breath and reached up and patted McKay's lips. Rodney managed another quick glance at the detector and decided to risk another line. “Anne Francis stars in “Forbidden Planet” who o-o-h oh o-o-oh … You know your mother's going to kill me for singing this song to you, don't you? She didn't really know what to think of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, although I don't understand why. It sounds just like home, uh, Pegasus style, anyway.”

He decided now was a good time to try Ronon's bounce-the-baby trick, and not so fast this time. Slow and steady kind of like a metronome, and only as fast as a heartbeat; a mother's heartbeat, not like his own heartbeat right now which felt like it was going to pound right out of his chest.

He really, really needed Torren to be quiet for both their sakes so he took as deep a breath as he could and smiled and made little faces at Torren. The baby must have thought this was interesting and/or fun or just weird because he smiled back and reached out for Rodney's face with both hands and patty-caked his cheeks.

This went on for several minutes. Rodney felt like it was an eternity. Here he was making faces with a baby and bouncing said baby until his arms felt like they were going to fall off. After what seemed like an interminable amount of time Rodney glanced at the detector and sighed in relief. He checked the little ravine and decided to chance a roundabout trip back to the path, and the 'Gate.

They reached the 'Gate without more Wraith activating it. He dialed Atlantis and sent the IDC. And they were home. Walking through the 'Gate was the greatest relief Rodney had felt in a long time. He'd made it back with Torren. Safely. He did it. He couldn't have faced Teyla, or the rest of the team otherwise. He just couldn't have. He was shaking so hard he could hardly speak, but they had to know to send rescue. And medical, too, just in case.

Major Lorne had a 'Jumper and SGA2 and SGA6 ready to go by the time medics were ready. They'd 'Gated out in less than fifteen minutes.

It wasn't until then that Rodney realized the control room team and Dr. Jennifer Keller were waiting … and watching him.

“What?”

Mr. Woolsey cleared his throat and ventured, “Dr. Keller is waiting to do your exam. And I'm quite sure she's willing to take Torren for his exam, also. You've done very well, Dr. McKay. I'm sure Teyla will be very pleased and grateful.”

Jennifer had taken a step forward and raised her hands to take the baby from McKay.

Rodney took a firm step back and rubbed Torren's back with one hand. “Well. No. That's okay. Teyla gave him to me. I'll look after him.”

Jennifer blinked and said, “Oh. Okay.” Then must have realized that her hands were still reaching for Torren and lowered them abruptly. “Well. Let's get the exam over with then.”

The exam went quickly enough with the nurses hovering around the exam room.

Rodney saw them and said grumpily, “What are they looking at? Haven't they ever seen a baby before?”

Jennifer held back a grin and said, “Don't worry, Rodney. They're just waiting to see if they'll be needed when the teams return.”

Rodney shrugged diffidently. “Oh.” He held Torren close as the baby suddenly seemed shy with everyone standing around. Rodney managed to get them both out of there quickly, but stopped at the cafeteria to grab some food for them and then started to head for his room, but stopped after just a few steps. He turned and headed to Teyla's quarters. He needed to get some clean clothes for Torren and to get him down for a nap. He knew the baby was already nodding off in his arms. It wasn't until he got to Teyla's door that he wondered how he was going to get in.

“I guess I'm tired, too, hey, Torren. I'd have to bypass the controls to open the door.” But Rodney was struck speechless when Atlantis slid the door open with no hesitation at all. It shouldn't have done that because he didn't live here, but he did of course have the ability to override, and in emergencies he could open any door necessary. But this, this was different. When the door whooshed open, Rodney stood there for a minute just thinking it through. Teyla had never said anything, but she was someone who often spoke louder with actions. He smiled softly and nodded at Torren.

“Now that's a great welcome home. Since we're here let's see what your Mom's got for clean clothes for you, because you know, you're starting to smell pretty ripe. I don't want Teyla to think I can't take care of you.”

Rodney knew that Teyla would know they had arrived back at Atlantis when the rescue teams showed up, but he wouldn't know until they returned and someone in the Control Room notified him when his team made it back.

For now Rodney could sleep if he wanted, but he thought again about the door being unlocked for him. He knew the protocols for the control crystals in the door. Torren was too young to be allowed to activate the door and in emergencies Teyla knew there were several people with security access that could enter her rooms with a special code.

So, had she set it for him? Well, he was a teammate, and a friend, but it made him feel like maybe it was more. Maybe like family. When Rodney finally nodded off, it was with a smile.

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The End

via Google:
English: nothing; French: rien; Russian: nichego; Czech: nic; Japanese: betsu ni

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Science Fiction Double Feature lyrics
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANdcHWH9PGo