Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Word Count: ~32,000 in total. In multiple posts due to length.
Rating: R for disturbing imagery and concepts. Gen. See Warnings.
Spoilers: Explicit for 5x01, more general for 5X08 and 5X09
Summary: A year after the events of 5X01 "Search and Rescue", tragedy strikes Atlantis.
Warnings: Character Death(s). Dark.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's notes: Please heed warnings. If you're out of order, here's part 1.
The month after was hard in a new way. A real, practical, every day way. In as much as the memorial service and the funeral had marked the end of Teyla and Rodney’s lives on Atlantis, living without them was something wholly different. It was probably impossible to prepare for the way life went on. Sheppard thought it sucked, anyway.
There were two immediate problems.
Keller brought them both to Sheppard. He was kind of sure that Woolsey had become aware of them first and elected her to be the messenger. Sheppard wouldn’t have minded hearing them from him, but Keller was nicer about it. She was also on his side, which was always good.
She joined him in the crèche, where he was trying to convince Torrin to eat some mashed bananas with his mouth instead of doing a kind of modern finger-painting art on Sheppard’s shirt
“Hey,” Sheppard said when Keller sat down beside him. Keller looked at him, looked at the design on his t-shirt, and cracked up. “Yeah, yeah,” he said. “I know I suck at this.”
“No,” Keller said, “you’re doing really well. Kodak moment.”
But her face was growing serious and she had that look, the one that said she was trying to introduce a more difficult topic.
“What is it?” he asked, giving her an opening. “What’s up?”
“A couple of things,” Keller admitted. She looked at Torrin and smiled grimly. “I’m not going to be able to keep the Athosian babies here much longer.”
Sheppard frowned. “What?”
“I’m not supposed to have done it at all,” Keller said. “I have to reassign staff to watch them,” she continued. “I can disguise it to a certain extent, which I have so far, but eventually the IOA auditors are going to notice a pattern and want to know what’s going on.” She made an unhappy face. “Woolsey warned me,” she said. “And he’s right.”
“And…” She paused. “I don’t think it’s right to keep them here, beyond that. It’s like an…institution. I don’t want an orphanage in my infirmary, you know?”
It was Sheppard’s turn to pause. “That’s fair,” he began. “But…”
“Dr. Biro wants to adopt Danto,” Keller went on quickly. “She wants to take him back to Earth. And I have two nurses and a surgeon thinking about the same thing with the girls and Ellsing.” She gave a sad little smile. “It’s going to decimate my staff, dammit. But I think it’s a really good idea.”
“Oh,” said Sheppard.
“There are some hurdles with the IOA,” Keller went on. “But they can’t say no. They just can’t. Woolsey said he’s going to make a big stink.” She smiled, bigger.
“Huh,” Sheppard said. He looked down at Torrin. “So, you’re saying I should find Torrin a bedroom. Some place else?”
“Eventually,” Keller agreed. She petted Torrin’s back. “I’m gonna miss all these guys.” She raised her eyes to Sheppard’s face. “I wasn’t sure how you were going to react.”
“I think you’re right,” Sheppard said, easily. “They need a family.”
Keller nodded. And then she looked at the floor and sighed.
“Something else?” Sheppard prompted.
“Yeah,” Keller said. “And this is all the IOA.”
“Great,” Sheppard said, sarcastically. He waited.
“I don’t have the facilities to treat Ronon here,” Keller said, flatly. “I don’t have the specialized personnel, I don’t have the prosthetic technology, and I don’t have the kind of rehab environment I know amputee patients thrive in. And the IOA won’t pay to create it here.”
“What?” Sheppard hadn’t been expecting any of that.
“If Ronon were American or Canadian or…from Earth,” Keller said, “I would have to send him back. I would have done it immediately, on the Daedalus. The IOA is totally willing to treat him, they just want to do it there.”
“Oh,’ Sheppard said. He let the first thing that came into his mind cross his lips. “Ronon’s not going to like that.”
“Oh, I know,” said Keller. “This is going to be a fight.”
“Maybe not,” Sheppard said, after a moment.
“I’m going back to Earth on the Daedalus when it gets here next week,” Sheppard said. “We have to give Rodney’s ashes to Jeannie.”
“Oh.” Keller looked sad for a moment. “You want to trick Ronon?”
“Nooo,” Sheppard said, immediately. “That’s a very bad idea.”
“Yeah,” said Keller. “I’m glad you know that.”
“But he’ll go with me,” Sheppard said. “Once he’s at the SGC, we can work something out.”
“He’s not going to want to stay there without you,” Keller told him.
“I know.” And Sheppard paused. “But I might be staying.”
Keller’s eyes shot wide. “What?”
“Like you said,” Sheppard said. He squeezed Torrin. “I have to take care of this guy now. I don’t think that’s going to be here.”
The trip on the Daedalus back to Earth was okay. It sucked in a lot of ways. Ronon, to his great displeasure, was confined to the infirmary. And Sheppard didn’t want to step foot in there. His memories of that place were all horrible now. He was trying to be at peace with stuff. And maybe he wasn’t doing a great job of it, but he didn’t think spending any time in there was the answer.
The first week, he liberated Ronon and they spent the rest of the journey with Torrin sharing crew’s quarters. The medical staff was not pleased about it, dropped by at all hours to check on Ronon and tell Sheppard all sorts of things he should be policing Ronon to be doing and not doing.
Ronon had a wheelchair now, which he hated. It was better than the gurney, though, because he had some control over his movement. He was learning – swiftly, of course – how to maneuver in it and getting a lot more independent even in the three week journey. Sheppard had no comment on it, since he was pretty sure Ronon didn’t need any cheerleading. But he was glad to see it, glad to see Ronon being active and alert, coming back to himself. It wasn’t something he’d been sure he’d ever see again.
Their mission – and Sheppard was thinking of it as a mission, dammit – on Earth also sucked. It’d been a few months since that horrible rescue on the old Alpha site. It’d been a few months since Jeannie Miller had had an envoy from the Stargate program on her doorstep to deliver the news about her brother. Sheppard and Ronon and the little silver jar of ashes they were bringing were latecomers. Rodney’s possessions, the ones Sheppard had hysterically packaged up at the time, were in Daedalus’ cargo bay. He didn’t think Jeannie would care about those, but they were bringing them, too.
The Daedalus did make some parts of it easier. Instead of figuring out how to rent a car that was wheelchair accessible and navigating their way to Jeannie’s house with a guy who was as likely to be trying to smash the thing as sitting in it, they just beamed down in the driveway. Sheppard, Ronon, Torrin, the silver jar, and six boxes of stuff.
Sheppard’s heart was heavy in his chest as he walked to the doorstep. Ronon was rolling himself along Sheppard’s left side, face already twisted and angry. In Ronon’s lap, Torrin picked up on the emotions in the air and decided it was time to start bawling.
That was the scene Jeannie opened her front door on.
“Hi,” Sheppard began.
He didn’t get any further, because Jeannie’s face crumpled and turned blotchy pink. She opened her arms and launched herself into him.
Talking made them all cry. It was hopeless to resist. And the baby wouldn’t stop fussing, which didn’t help.
Kaleb greeted them after they all made it inside, looked at the whole group, and told his wife he’d watch
It was better this time, if it could ever be described as better.
Jeannie wouldn’t stop touching Sheppard, her hand gripping his forearm. She pulled him down on their couch. Ronon rolled himself so he was facing them.
Squeezing Sheppard’s arm, Jeannie looked from him to Ronon and back again with big, shiny eyes. “Tell me what the hell happened to my brother.”
“He died to protect him,” Ronon said, pointing at the whimpering Torrin.
Then Sheppard told her about Michael, about the Wraith, about the fact that the last thing Rodney had done was save an entire galaxy.
When Jeannie could speak, she asked the only question she had.
“Michael killed him?”
Sheppard glanced at Ronon, who answered immediately. “Yeah.”
And then Sheppard told lies. “He didn’t suffer. It was fast.”
Jeannie tried to narrow swollen eyes at him. “Really?”
Ronon answered. “It doesn’t matter.”
It looked like Jeannie might disagree, but then Torrin started crying for all he was worth. Ronon put a hand under the kid’s bottom.
“He’s wet,” he said.
“We have diapers,” Sheppard said. He’d shoved some in his bag, which he abruptly realized he’d left on the front porch. “I’ll get ‘em.”
As he was rising, Jeannie somehow had taken Torrin from Ronon and undressed the kid down to his diaper. She laid him on his back on the coffee table and was lifting his legs and undoing the dirty diaper with practiced skill in the next second.
“Oh my God,” she said. “He has horrible diaper rash!”
“I kind of suck at that,” Sheppard said, moving towards the door.
“I’ll teach you some tricks,” Jeannie called after him.
Sheppard had barely stepped outside when the door swung shut loudly behind him
“About time,” said a voice Sheppard thought he’d never hear again. He whirled, searching with his eyes for something that had to be an auditory hallucination.
But it wasn’t. Sheppard almost tripped over his own feet, because standing on Jeannie’s front porch was Rodney.
“Uh?” he said, stunned.
Rodney, but wearing strange, soft beige clothes Sheppard had never seen him in. Rodney, but so bright he almost glowed.
“Please don’t cry,” Rodney said. “It makes me really uncomfortable.”
Stupidly, Sheppard shoved his hand out to touch him. Rodney immediately took a tiny step out of reach.
“And that’s just creepy,” Rodney said.
“You –” Sheppard stuttered. “You-“
“Yeah,” Rodney said, nodding, He waved one arm through the air, the movement somehow highlighting the glowing aura surrounding him. “Pretty cool, huh? And I thought I was a genius before.” He paused. “Well, actually, I was.”
“Rodney,” Sheppard said. “What the hell?” And he really, really wanted to try to touch him again.
“No crying,” snapped Rodney, but it was mostly a joke. “C’mon,” he said, more sincerely. “I don’t have much time.”
“I’m not supposed to be here,” Rodney said. “Not supposed to interfere. Not supposed to communicate. Everyone else here is kind of an asshole, you know that?”
Sheppard just stared at him.
“I have you,” he said, stupidly. “In a jar. In my bag. Next to Torrin’s diapers. I’m gonna give it to your sister.”
Rodney gave a little grin that broke Sheppard’s heart. “You have the ashes of a Wraith in a jar,” he corrected. Then, he frowned. “Please don’t give those to Jeannie. That’s just gross.”
“Zelenka burned you,” Sheppard said.
“Burned it,” Rodney said. “I named it
“You –” Sheppard tried to start.
“I wasn’t around for that,” Rodney said, honestly. “I got the choice to stick around or not.” He waved his white hands in front of his body. “Corporeality suddenly got really overrated.”
“Oh.” Sheppard said. He swallowed hard. “What – what are you doing here?”
“Well,” Rodney said, sticking his chin out. “I wanted to say goodbye, for one. Let you know that I’m okay, that I was never a Wraith, and you can stop that nice little case of PTSD you’re developing based on the idea that you killed me.”
“Did I?” Sheppard asked.
“Not going to tell you,” Rodney sang, and rolled his eyes. “Don’t even try.” He paused. “Besides, you know Keller couldn’t have reversed it.”
“Yeah,” Sheppard said. And he wanted to look at the ground, but he couldn’t tear his eyes off Rodney.
“You need to tell Ronon,” Rodney said, suddenly serious.
“You need to tell Ronon,” he repeated, uncharacteristically earnest.
“I did,” Sheppard said, confused. “I did.”
“No,” Rodney said. “You told him about my brilliant idea to have the Wraith destroy themselves. You didn’t tell him there wasn’t anything that could be done to undo Michael’s voodoo.”
“Oh,” Sheppard said. A bad feeling was growing in his gut. “Why does he need to know?”
“Teyla,” Rodney answered, simply and directly.
Sheppard couldn’t help it. He looked around Jeannie’s front porch, desperate to see someone else.
“She’s not here,” Rodney said. He shook his head. “This isn’t her destiny.”
“Oh,” Sheppard said, blinking to fight back tears.
“Ronon saved Teyla,” Rodney continued, quickly. He was looking around like he was running out of time, suddenly speaking faster.
“What do you mean ‘saved’?” Sheppard whispered, afraid he already knew.
“You didn’t read her autopsy,” Rodney said.
“Hell no,” Sheppard said. “No.”
“Ronon slit her throat,” Rodney said. “Right before she would have become Michael’s queen.”
“Oh my God.” The bad feeling turned into the need to vomit.
“Teyla begged him, too,” Rodney continued, startlingly objective about it. “This was after he took Michael apart like a Barbie doll. She could already feel herself changing.”
Sheppard was sinking to his knees on the porch, afraid he was going to fall down if he didn’t.
“He slit her throat,” Rodney continued, “and then he set the building on fire. That was when you showed up.”
“You…” Sheppard began.
“I was floating around,” Rodney said. “At the time.”
“I didn’t know,” Sheppard said. “I had no idea.”
“I know,” Rodney said. “And Mr. Long Suffering in there sure as hell wasn’t going to tell. So I had to come before anyone did something stupid.”
“I wouldn’t,” Sheppard began.
“Not you,” Rodney snapped. “Like jump out of another three story building. Like that.”
“Yeah.” Rodney was growing whiter. Whiter and brighter. He looked down at himself.
“Wait,” Sheppard said.
“I can’t,” Rodney said, apologetically. “Not allowed. But look on the bright side. I get to personally hunt down and berate every single idiot Ancient and tell them just how stupid they were when they built…hmm…oh just about everything ever.”
“Rodney,” Sheppard called.
But the other man was vanishing, the space where he’d stood turning to blinding, glorious white until the shape of his body had completely dissipated.
Sheppard was left on his knees, alone. The door behind him opened then.
“John?” Jeannie was standing there, bewildered. “Are you alright?”
He forced himself to nod, struggled back to his feet and grabbed his duffle bag.
Jeannie fitted one arm solidly around his back, drawing him back into the house. She changed Torrin’s diaper for him, but Sheppard didn’t hear a word of her lecture while she did it. He was staring instead at Ronon. He had no idea how the man was still here, how he was sitting so calmly.
“What Michael did,” he said, then. “Keller couldn’t fix it. She couldn’t bring them back, even if we’d gotten there sooner. You should know that.” He mumbled it, his voice thick and slurring. Jeannie didn’t catch it, but Ronon did. He nodded, but his face didn’t change. "You did the right thing with Teyla," he went on. "Thank you. I'm glad you were with her." He leaned forward and grabbed Ronon mightily around the shoulders, just holding for a few seconds. Jeannie was looking curious and Sheppard wasn't going to share, so he let go.
"You did the right thing with Teyla," he went on. "Thank you. I'm glad you were with her." He leaned forward and grabbed Ronon mightily around the shoulders, just holding for a few seconds. Jeannie was looking curious and Sheppard wasn't going to share, so he let go.
Sheppard reached into his duffle. He ignored the silver bowl of Wraith ashes. He’d dump that down a toilet or something, later. Instead, he found the DVD recorded for Rodney’s next of kin.
“Here,” he said. “It’s um…his goodbye.”
Jeannie was rising and heading for the DVD player against the wall before he could even say anything else. She’d inserted it and was searching for the remote.
“It’s for family,” Sheppard said.
Rodney’s sister glanced over her shoulder at him. “What do you think you two are?”
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