Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Summary: Following the events of 5X01, Team Sheppard goes to Earth and takes a roadtrip across the US.
Word Count: 8,261 total
Author's note: Goes AU after the infirmary scene in 5X01 with Sheppard and Teyla. Feedback welcome. In 2 parts due to length. Title shamelessly borrowed from here.
The trip back to Earth on the Daedalus was miserable. Caldwell had his crew working double shifts to get all systems back up, which in this sense meant ‘hovering around 50%’ according to McKay. It also meant the journey would be almost twice as long, chugging on engines going half as fast.
Teyla’s baby hated space travel. It was that or no one had been around a newborn in long enough to remember that newborns hated a lot of things. He wasn’t sleeping, which meant neither was his mom. Sheppard wasn’t actually sure anyone was sleeping. Rodney was constantly being called down to glue shiny bits back on the engines or something. He seemed to be staying there ‘round the clock. Ronon chose to spend most of his time in the hamster cage that passed for a gym on the Daedalus. This wasn’t all that atypical, since Ronon wasn’t a big fan of sleep. But Sheppard knew for a fact that even if Ronon hadn’t been the one crushed under a heavy beam, he had recently survived the implosion of a gigantic building and Keller probably wouldn’t have wanted him doing any heavy lifting this soon.
Colonel Carter was lying awake at night, too. Her reason was slightly different. No one on Sheppard’s team was facing an evaluation from the IOA questioning the efficiency and success of the Atlantis mission, with the threat of the loss of her command on the table. It was hard to tell with the IOA, but Carter seemed to be taking the possibility pretty seriously.
“They aren’t going to remove you,” Rodney scoffed over dinner. He stabbed fiercely at the unidentifiable lump of meat on his tray. “This program’s lost enough people.”
“A number of those under my command,” Carter reminded him.
Teyla wanted to know if she could bring her baby to the interview. “I believe it may help if they could see the lives that were saved by this last mission,” she said, earnestly.
Rodney rolled his eyes. Carter gave a weary smile. Ronon seemed to be ignoring the conversation completely.
“Ah, Teyla,” Sheppard began.
“I appreciate the offer,” Carter said. “I’m not sure that would work, anyways. But none of you are being personally interviewed. The mission reports you all wrote will suffice.”
“I would like to speak on your behalf,” Teyla said.
“They don’t want to hear from two Pegasus aliens,” Rodney snapped. It wasn’t very nice, but it was probably kind of true. “You don’t have any standing in their eyes.”
Teyla frowned. Carter glared at Rodney but she didn’t deny it.
“And they don’t like McKay,” Ronon said, proving that he had in fact been listening.
“The only person they want to talk to is me,” Carter said, cutting off any kind of debate of just who the IOA disliked the most.
“It will be fine,” Teyla said. “You have saved many lives.”
“Let’s hope the IOA cares,” Rodney grunted.
For a second, Carter’s eyes shone brightly. She blinked and it cleared. “It’s not the living they’re concerned about, Rodney.”
The Daedalus dropped Carter off in DC for her interview. Then it did a little unofficial backpedaling and beamed Sheppard’s team to a predetermined spot on the opposite coast. It took seconds, of course, but still constituted a breach of scheduled navigation route.
“I’ll see you in a few weeks,” he said. He fixed his eyes on Rodney. “See that you fulfill your mission.”
But the shimmer of the beam seized them before he could finish, and they vanished from the Bridge.
As luck would have it, or not, they arrived in
Teyla folded her arms more tightly around her swaddled baby.
“It is cold,” she said, hugging herself. “John has always said
She had never been to Earth outside the SGC, and she didn’t look impressed.
“The other choice was
“I do not flip out,” said Teyla, while Ronon sneered.
“Actually the first choice was in
“Nightmare,” said Sheppard.
“Stabbings everywhere,” Rodney said, gesturing with both hands at Ronon.
Ronon blinked at him, not really understanding and not caring to.
“You two sit on that bench,” Rodney ordered. “Try not to scare the Earthlings while I rent us a car.” He waved an index finger sternly. “Stay.”
And he went to all the trouble of backing into the car rental place entrance, as if he thought something terrible would happen if he took his eyes off them.
“He’s overreacting,” Sheppard said, soothingly. Ronon was glaring. Teyla ordinarily might have tried to diffuse him, but her face was drawn and tired.
She settled herself on the bench, holding her son carefully. Ronon dropped heavily beside her.
“This is dumb,” Ronon hissed. He was doing a pretty good impression of a petulant child, which was not a good start.
Teyla adjusted the baby with one arm, so she could put the hand on Ronon’s knee.
“It is important,” she said, and she sounded just as tired as she looked. “I wish to see Earth.”
“Earth is dumb, too.” Ronon said, crossing his arms.
Teyla patted him on the leg. “It is important,” she said, again.
“Come on, guys,” Sheppard tried. “This supposed to be fun.”
Ronon had raised one hand to his face, covering his eyes. Teyla continued to pat him on the leg, eyes fixed on her baby.
It wasn’t really surprising, but Rodney managed to turn the parts of that trip that should have been the easiest into two separate fiascos. Part of it was Sheppard’s fault. The car he wanted apparently wouldn’t fit the car seat they needed. But, he hadn’t really anticipated making this journey plus one baby, so it was, in fact, Rodney’s fault. Instead of the convertible Corvette, he picked some ridiculous hybrid that ran on vegetable juice or something and looked like Ronon could crush it like tinfoil. And, to quote Ronon, it also looked ‘dumb’.
Size issues meant Ronon automatically got shotgun. He shoved the passenger side seat as far back as it could go, and his knees still bumped the dashboard.
“McKay,” he growled.
“Be nice,” Sheppard said from the backseat, where Rodney was struggling to install the car seat.
“Ungh – how the hell does this – where does that – Ronon, shut up – Teyla, put that strap there, no not there –”
The epic struggle with the car seat took so long, Ronon got out of the car and went back to the bench, where he glared balefully at the city. Sheppard went to join him, because the only help he’d been providing was comments on how McKay could keep an ancient city running but not install a simple modern child safety restraint device, and strictly speaking hadn’t actually helped.
He got the feeling Teyla thought the device was absurd and wasn’t sincerely trying to get it securely attached.
“I can hold my own child,” she said repeatedly, in between Rodney yelling instructions and cursing.
“No, no you can’t,” Rodney said. “His skull isn’t even solid yet! And half the people in this country drive like Sheppard!”
“Well,” Sheppard said, “maybe you shouldn’t have gotten a tin can on wheels, Rodney?”
But eventually the car seat was safely attached and the baby securely inside, even if Teyla acted like she was placing him in some kind of torture device. Mercifully, the kid didn’t even mind, and slept through the entire procedure. Sheppard scooted in next to him, watched the kid’s dark eyelashes flutter briefly before he decided that it wasn’t worth waking up.
Equally miraculously, he also slept through Rodney’s ranted instructions about seatbelts and how he’d murder them all if he had to pay for any damages since it was his name on the contract. Teyla and Ronon looked unimpressed, Teyla fumbling with her seatbelt.
“Why don’t we just get a Jumper?” asked Ronon, glaring at his trapped knees.
“Wouldn’t be the same, buddy,” Sheppard said.
“IOA wouldn’t let us,” Rodney said. “I asked.”
“Rodney,” Sheppard said. “Road trip.”
“Don’t blame me,” Rodney said, starting the engine. “None of this was my idea.”
“We should do this correctly,” said Teyla, reliably supportive even if she was still looking worryingly at her son.
The hotel was less of a fiasco and probably less of Rodney’s fault. There really wasn’t anyway to distribute two aliens of opposite sexes and a baby while still providing proper supervision. It wasn’t that they didn’t trust Ronon and Teyla, it was just far too likely that something innately Earthy would happen and one or both would react badly. In truth, this was more likely to happen with Ronon. In the end, Rodney booked a double with Ronon and Sheppard joined Teyla and the baby in an adjoining double.
Ronon and Teyla remained unimpressed by the hotel. In fairness, it was nice. There weren’t any bedbugs or needles in the carpet. But there probably wasn’t a Pegasus equivalent for a massive building with level after level of identical rooms. It might have felt a little institutional and maybe creepy. It was hard to tell, since Teyla was polite and Ronon was silent and wearing his ‘I hate everything’ expression.
It was late evening in
Teyla went down first, curling up around her baby on top of the sheets, fully clothed all the way down to her shoes. Ronon looked at her, then he looked at Rodney, and his face assumed an expression of martyred boredom.
Rodney rolled his eyes. “There’s a gym, Ronon. Stop pouting and go get your grunt on.”
It wasn’t a bad idea, even if Rodney delivered the suggestion as unpleasantly as possible. Sheppard noticed he failed to mention that he was leaving the hotel for a quick shopping trip. It was probably better than another insulting lecture about staying out of trouble. Rodney was only going to get away with so many of those before it got him into trouble.
Ronon vanished to find the gym. Rodney dashed off with the car keys in hand. For his part, Sheppard stayed and watched Teyla and the baby sleep. It was kinda nice and peaceful, after so long of not knowing where she was, and imagining terrible things Michael might have done.
Rodney, of course, managed to ruin the peace when he returned. He must have found a 24-hour Wallmart, because he came back with giant, overstuffed plastic bags and promptly woke Teyla to show her what he’d bought. To Sheppard it looked like a bunch of brightly colored plastic things, mostly covered with ugly designs intended for infants.
God knew what Teyla thought of it all, because she was blinking sleepily, trying not sound mad, and kind of repeating “what?” every time he opened a box.
“I called my sister,” Rodney said. “She said you need all this for the baby.”
Carefully setting her sleeping son to the side, Teyla sat up. She grabbed Rodney firmly by the shoulders and pulled him down so that he had no choice but to take a seat on the edge of the bed.
“Rodney,” Teyla said, enunciating forcefully while still keeping her voice hushed. “Thank you for these supplies. I greatly appreciate it. But what I need at this moment is uninterrupted rest.”
“Duh,” said Sheppard.
“Oh,” said Rodney, and at least he said it a little softer than his louder introduction of his purchases.
The baby had slept through all that, but he woke immediately when Ronon banged the adjoining room’s door open with his hip and walked into the room. The baby stirred, began to whimper, and soon transitioned into full blown wailing. Teyla grabbed the kid and shot a death glare at Ronon, standing in the doorway.
“Ronon!” she said.
“Don’t you know there’s a sleeping baby in here?” Demanded Rodney.
Sheppard would have pointed out Rodney’s hypocrisy, but his attention was caught by Ronon’s face. His eyes were red and shiny, lids swollen and pink.
“What the hell happened to you?” asked Rodney.
“The water has chemicals in it,” snapped Ronon. “In the pool.”
That was the point at which Teyla began to take her shirt off to feed the baby, and the men immediately scattered, closing the adjoining door behind them.
“It’s chlorine,” Rodney said. “To keep the water clean from the great unwashed, like you.”
“It burns,” Ronon said, and scrubbed at his face.
Rodney threw another Wallmart bag at Ronon, who let it bounce off his side. Not because he didn’t see it, of course, but because he didn’t want to catch it.
“I got you some clothes that normal people wear,” Rodney said. “You look like you marched out of a gay porno, you’ll scare the natives.”
Ronon said nothing and glared. Sheppard had had this argument with him the last time they were on Earth. Of the number of things Ronon thought were stupid about Earth, or at least the
“Wear ‘em,” Sheppard said. Then to Rodney, “There’s no way you found anything to fit him at Wallmart.”
“Wait a minute,” Rodney said. “You were swimming? What the hell were you wearing?”
Ronon blinked at him out of reddened eyes. “Nothing.”
The hotel stay didn’t really give anyone much time to recover. Sheppard had wanted a few days for everything to settle, but his team had no intention of chilling out. Ronon, evidently, truly did not sleep. He liked to run in the halls, finding the gym puny and ill-equipped. He also kept swimming, even though it made him look like he’d been punched in the eyes. Ronon scared the ever loving crap out of the housekeeping staff for more reasons than the usual and Rodney made an immediate return to Wallmart to get him some swim trunks, which he delivered with a hilarious explanation about American mores about nudity. Sheppard caught Rodney dolling out a few hundred in bribes to both employees and other guests not to complain about their nocturnal or naked encounters with him. He would have congratulated him on his quick thinking, but Rodney then proceeded to be extremely resentful about it and do more totally unhelpful yelling at Ronon. In general, Ronon had better social skills than Rodney and he was certain the female guests who had caught Ronon skinny-dipping weren’t unhappy.
The adjoining rooms meant everyone got to hear just how little Teyla’s baby liked to sleep. Rodney pulled the pillow over his face every night, but sometimes Sheppard went into their room and he could tell from the tension in his body that the man was too stiff to be sleeping.
Somewhat surprisingly, Ronon was good with kids. He couldn’t do the feeding part, but that only really amounted to half of the reason Teyla’s kid was usually screaming his head off. Maybe the baby had some innate understanding it was in the arms of someone who could eat him for breakfast and decided to quiet down, or maybe it was just happier knowing it was in the arms of someone who could also eat just about anyone else, too. Either way, it worked out well. Ronon also figured out the disposable diapers, which baffled both Teyla and Rodney.
“I do not understand these,” Teyla growled. Exhaustion made her impatience come out. It was kind of cute. “This is not what we use on Athos.”
Rodney tried to apply one, failed, and ended up coated in baby poo to his loud disgust. After that, they kind of left that task to Ronon.
After three days, it was time to start on their schedule. They had an appointment to keep with the Daedalus in only a little over a week, and the few empty days did nothing but enable everyone to start getting annoyed with each other.
Unfortunately, no one was really excited about the first stop. Ronon was pissed off about the floral print on his trunks. Teyla didn’t look the most comfortable in her suit, either. Rodney, of course, was not happy.
“Why am I wearing this?” Teyla asked. They’d had to go to a maternity store to find her a suit, and although she hadn’t said anything other than “I am no longer with child,” a bunch of times, Sheppard got the impression that annoyed her anyway.
Rodney looked down at the list he’d taken to carrying around constantly.
“Surfing!” Sheppard said, enthusiastically.
“Surfing,” said Rodney, and scowled. “And you have to wear clothes, Ronon.”
They’d booked a private section of the beach for a whole afternoon. Sheppard had had an old friend called in to give lessons. Duane was a friendly beach bum who’d also more than effectively fried some of his higher brain function on acid. He was hard to offend and generally had no business thinking anyone else was weird.
Rodney behaved just as Sheppard expected. He refused to take off his shirt and slathered every inch of exposed skin with some of his own homemade sunscreen, which meant he must have packed it for this express purpose. He also declared himself the official babysitter of the day, meaning he couldn’t possibly set foot in the water.
Teyla wanted to know if it was safe for Rodney to be covering her child with his sunscreen, and Sheppard thought she had a point. The kid was already wrapped in a too large bathrobe with bear ears, little more than the tips of his toes showing.
Ronon and Teyla were finally impressed by something. Maybe the
“Oh, come on,” Rodney said, when he noticed her reaction. “You live on an ocean!” Then he remembered Duane was there. “Um, I mean island. She lives on an island.”
“Which one?” asked Duane.
Teyla blinked. “Yes,” she said. “Magadasker.”
Sadly, surfing didn’t really go over well. Rodney kept his promise not to participate, sitting on a towel on the sand, pretty far back from the shoreline, as well. He wasn’t even close enough to listen in on the conversation Teyla and Ronon were having with Duane, and they could have been telling him all about the fact that they were from another galaxy for all he knew. Teyla ran back periodically to check on and feed her son, and once Sheppard saw what kind of looked like she was yelling and kicking sand, so she might not have thought it was fair.
Teyla, bless her heart, tried. In truth, it might have been a little too soon post-partum, because she looked very uncomfortable doing just about everything, and that was unlike her. Sheppard didn’t want to know the girly reasons and felt a little bad about the timing.
Ronon was probably not trying. Since Sheppard had never seen him not totally excel at any physical activity, it only figured that he didn’t feel like giving a shit. He didn’t suck, of course, and he even stayed standing on his first time through. It was just that he clearly wasn’t enjoying it and was going through the motions rather than actually trying to have fun. He was also being a total dick to Duane, for no real reason. Duane wasn’t even hitting on Teyla.
Duane’s six hours ran out and he didn’t stick around a minute longer. Sheppard didn’t blame him; Ronon knew how to be scary.
“This was enjoyable,” Teyla said, afterwards when she was sitting back on the sand holding her son.
“No, it wasn’t.” At least Ronon was honest. “I didn’t like that guy.”
“He was a friend of John,” Teyla said. “He was very helpful.”
Ronon just grunted.
“Way to bail,” Sheppard said to Rodney, who was still covered in a visible coating of white sunscreen.
“That’s one off,” Rodney said, producing the list from his pocket and miming penciling an item out.
“What’s next?” asked Ronon, probably mostly so he could preemptively decide he hated it.
“Pain and suffering,” answered Rodney.
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