A/N: Thanks to Jilly for beta’ing, and Marlislash/fanarts_series for the beautiful banner.
I don’t own Stargate Atlantis. If I did, it’d still be on the air and these boys would definitely be together in the show.
“So have you spoken to the Colonel yet?” Zelenka asked without looking up from his computer.
“About what?” Rodney replied distractedly.
Radek lifted his head, giving Rodney a pointed look even as he pushed his glasses up his nose. It took Rodney a minute to sense the expectant silence requiring his response. Straightening in his seat, he turned to face his friend. “Oh! Yes. Yes, yes, I did.”
Rolling his eyes, Radek let out an exasperated sigh and made a ‘go on’ gesture, though the slight flush on Rodney’s cheeks served as an answer all its own.
Rodney glanced around nervously, making sure they were alone. “We stayed up most of the night talking about it. He agrees we can’t let just anyone mess with it. I mean, God knows what some of those idiots they keep sending here could end up doing. Seriously! We could end up with hundreds of tiny mutants running around the place if we-”
“Rodney!” Radek interrupted impatiently.
“Right, right. Sorry. John and I talked it over. He wanted to make sure we were ready for this. I mean, the man has a point. This wouldn’t be just another science experiment after all, this… this would be creating life. A child we’d have to raise. Keep safe.”
Radek nodded in agreement, his lips twitching with the effort to contain his amusement. “It would be the first child of Atlantis, yes? Not counting little Torren, of course.”
Rodney nodded fervently. “Exactly.”
“So have you come to agreement?”
Rodney bit his lip, then smiled, excitement lighting his eyes. “We’re gonna do it. If Teyla can bring up Torren on Atlantis, then John and I can do it, too. Plus, it’d be a good example for the rest of the expedition.”
Radek’s snort earned him a glare from Rodney.
“As I said, it’d set a good example. It’ll be good to keep the McKay line going.”
Smirking, Radek’s eyes twinkled as he corrected his friend, “The Sheppard-McKay line, you mean.”
“Yes, yes, you know what I meant. Don’t be an idiot. It doesn’t become you.”
“All right, Rodney,” Radek said, bemused. Clearing his throat, he added, “So when?”
Rubbing his hands nervously over his thighs, Rodney said quietly, “Tonight, provided you can help me make sure everything’s okay with the machine before John returns from the mainland.”
“Of course. We will have everything ready. It will work, Rodney, and we will keep child safe,” Radek assured. “Just let me finish this report and I will be yours. So to speak.”
Chuckling, Rodney turned in his seat to finish his own work. “Thanks, Radek. You’re a good friend.”
“Don’t you forget it,” Radek murmured.
“How could I?” Rodney retorted goodnaturedly. “You wouldn’t let me.”
An hour later found the two scientists in an out-of-the-way lab in one of the newly explored sections of the city. Between them, they had already done extensive research on the tech they’d uncovered there, so they had a fair idea of what everything would do and how it needed to function. Rodney being Rodney, though, insisted on going over it all with a fine-tooth comb before actually attempting to use it. He was as much a fan of the X-Men as the next geek, but he would really rather not put any child of his through that kind of stigma. Being related to both him and John would be sufferance enough, to his mind.
Radek set to work on making sure all the parts were clean and functioning, double-checking every crystal for any imperfections that might affect the outcome of the experiment. Rodney, meanwhile, poured over the instructions for what felt like the hundredth time, cross-referencing anything he could. Luckily, for once, the Ancients had actually left behind a comprehensive manual. It seemed that creating life was one area they didn’t really mess around with – much. Rodney was definitely not forgetting their epic fail that had led to the creation of the Wraith.
“The Wraith….” Rodney straightened.
“What about them?”
Tapping his earpiece, Rodney ignored Radek and said, “Carson? Could you come to the…,” he paused, then took a deep breath before changing tack, “I need to talk to you.” Another pause, then a nod. “Keep it quiet, please.”
Perplexed, Radek stared at his friend as he ended the communication.
“I didn’t want to announce to the whole city what we were up to. For now, this is something between John and me. And you and Carson for obvious reasons, but….” Rodney shrugged, looking uncomfortable.
Rodney was glad that Carson already knew about the machine as well as the tentative plans of using it. It hadn’t taken the man long to clue in on what Rodney was trying to say, and within ten minutes, he walked into the room with an expectant look twinkling in his eyes. Rubbing his hands together, he said, “Right then, what do you need help with, Rodney? I’m assuming we’re ready to give the baby-making a try, then? Who’ll it be?”
Not for the first time – or the last – Rodney smiled at hearing the familiar Scottish brogue again. It never sat right with him when his friend was forced to go back to Earth, just because he was the clone of Carson Beckett and not the original. As far as he, and John for that matter, was concerned, Carson was Carson.
Clearing his throat, he nodded. “Yes, actually, and it’ll be John and me first, to make sure it’s safe.”
Carson gave him a knowing grin, and Rodney stamped firmly down on that tiny voice inside of him that told him it wasn’t the only reason. He’d never really given much thought to having kids, what with him being a guy and men not being able to bear children. Yet since they’d discovered this technology and the possibility had opened up for them, it had plagued him. He wanted to have this with John for no other reason than it would be a child born of their love. Not that he would ever admit to such sentimentality – not even to John.
“Right, well, I was just thinking… the bug thing,” Rodney finished lamely, certain Carson would grasp the implications.
Sure enough, Carson’s grin faded and his face blanched a little. He stepped up to the machine and re-familiarized himself with it – he’d spent a considerable amount of time studying it after all, same as Rodney – then nodded to himself. Straightening up, he faced Rodney and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Aye, Rodney, we should be able to work around it. I cannae guarantee some of it won’t go over to the child, but I believe we’ll be able to make it safe. At the very least, it shouldn’t affect it more than it does the Colonel.”
Taking a deep breath in relief, Rodney allowed himself to relax – a little. “Will you need to be here for…?”
Shaking his head, Carson gave a reassuring smile. “No need, I don’t think. We should be able to get everything set up beforehand.”
John leaned against the doorframe as he watched his husband hover by the gestation chamber that held their embryo. Even from here, John could tell that Rodney was pouring over every iota of information the machine gave off. Rodney had been obsessing about it ever since they’d made the attempt two weeks ago, spending every waking hour he wasn’t on duty glued to the pod.
Pushing off, John sighed as he made his way toward the other man. Slipping his arms around his husband, John kissed the side of his neck and murmured, “Rodney, come home. There’s nothing you can do now but wait. You said yourself that you and Carson went over everything and that you’d done what could be done to take care of any issues revolving around… that.” Even after all this time, John hated talking about the bug-thing. Hell, he didn’t even like to think about it, so he avoided it whenever possible.
Heaving a sigh, Rodney gestured feebly to the pod. “I know, I know, I just… I can’t help it.”
Turning him around in his arms, John gently pressed his lips to Rodney’s. “I get it, buddy. I’m worried, too, but there’s nothing more we can do now but wait. You need your rest, Rodney. Especially if everything actually works out and this little miracle results in a baby.”
Rodney’s eyes widened a little at that, cutting briefly to the pod before focusing on John again. “We’re really doing this,” he whispered faintly, looking a little green around the gills.
Chuckling, John nodded. “Little late to be getting cold feet, Rodney,” he chided mildly.
Squaring his shoulders, Rodney attempted to glare, but it lacked any heat. “I am not getting cold feet! It’s just… it’s just….” He floundered, hands waving feebly in the air.
John’s gaze traveled to the gestation chamber, his heart giving an odd twinge at the thought that it held his offspring. “Yeah… I know, Rodney. I know,” he murmured.
“Look, look!” Rodney exclaimed excitedly, pointing at the screen even as he activated his comms. “John? John, get down here. Now.”
Rodney didn’t give John the chance to respond, closing the line. His eyes were fixed on the screen in front of him, taking in every tiny detail it held. The embryo was growing. It was becoming a person.
John came running into the baby-lab, as Kavanagh had dubbed it – something Rodney loathed, but it had stuck. “Rodney? What-? Is the baby okay? Did something go wrong?” he panted, coming to a halt next to his partner.
Blinking, Rodney looked up, confused. Radek, who’d been monitoring everything with him gave a snort, but remained quiet. “Why would you think something was wrong?”
John huffed in annoyance. “Oh, no reason. Maybe the directive to come here so suddenly?”
“Oh,” came the quiet response. “Sorry, I just…. Look!” Rodney pointed at the screen, his eyes lighting up again.
John dutifully looked where Rodney indicated and gasped. “Oh. My. God,” he whispered, awed. “That’s…”
“I know! It’s becoming a real person, John! With arms and legs and everything!”
At this, Radek laughed, though he quickly – and wisely – turned it into a coughing fit. Waving his hand, he beat a hasty retreat. “Ah, I … I need to… I’ll just….”
And he was gone, leaving John and Rodney to stare at their little miracle.
Weeks passed, and the fetus grew as expected. Both John and Rodney were enthralled by their little miracle, and it was a frequent topic of discussion – and not just between them, but for everyone on Atlantis. They were halfway through the gestation process now, and word had spread of the experiment, causing much excited anticipation.
Try as they might, though, neither Carson nor Rodney could detect the baby’s gender, which frustrated Rodney to no end. “You would think,” he ranted one evening, “that the Ancients would have thought that sort of information to be worth noting, but no. Oh no, no, no. Gender is the one thing in this process that they seem to purposely make impossible to figure out!”
John, who’d heard all of this before, just listened to his husband as he continued to rail against the unfairness of it all. The utter stupidity of the Ancients and how they always seemed to manage to mess up something with their tech. When Rodney made another round through their apartment, John decided enough was enough and stepped into his path. “Rodney. What’s the big deal? So we don’t know whether it’s a boy or a girl. So what?”
“So what?” Rodney blustered, arms flailing. “So what, he says! How are we supposed to prepare for it? Names? Clothes? Toys?”
With all the patience John could muster, he put his hands on Rodney’s shoulders and guided him to the couch. Once he was seated, John knelt in front of him. “The same way other parents do. We pick names for both a boy and a girl; we keep everything else gender-neutral. Besides, it’s more fun this way, don’t you think?”
“Fun,” Rodney huffed, but John could tell by the corner of Rodney’s mouth tilting upward slightly that he’d won this round.
“Have you given thought to a name yet, John?” Teyla asked, banta rods easily parrying John’s blows as they sparred.
“Yes,” John grunted, “but we haven’t settled on anything yet. Can’t seem to agree on anything.”
Teyla shot him a bemused look. “I see.”
Rolling his eyes, John stepped back as Teyla advanced on him, wincing as she landed a blow to his hip. “Yeah. You know how it goes,” he quipped.
Her lips twitched. “Indeed, I do.”
They continued for a moment, the only sound in the room that of wood striking wood. After a while, John huffed. “I was thinking William for a boy, and Gabrielle for a girl.”
Teyla paused mid-strike, staring up at John. “Gabrielle?”
The tips of John’s ears burned as he nodded, his cheeks following as he saw the penny drop for his friend.
“Xena?” Teyla asked, looking a strange mixture of uncertain and amused.
John nodded again, silently cursing Cadman for exposing Teyla and Ronon to Xena: Warrior Princess.
Pursing her lips, Teyla tilted her head slightly. John reluctantly admired her restraint as she said quietly, “I take it Rodney does not approve?”
John watched dispassionately as Carson drew blood for tests. He was used to it by now, getting poked and prodded after every mission. The rest of his team as well as Major Teldy’s team were all getting checked out, and John let the small-talk wash over him.
“So you still haven’t settled on a name, Colonel?” Captain Vega asked as she peered past the nurse checking her blood pressure.
John shook his head, and Rodney groused, “No, we haven’t. Colonel I-Shouldn’t-Name-Anything over here won’t agree to my suggestions.”
Rolling his eyes, John ignored his husband’s complaint. Captain Vega and Sergeant Mehra exchanged grins, even as Dr. Porter said, “How about Joy? I always thought that was a pretty name for a girl.”
Vega and Mehra burst out in unison, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”
John and Rodney stared at them in shock, then shook their heads and said in tandem, “No!”
Porter blushed slightly.
Major Teldy’s lips twitched briefly. “What about Paula?”
“Hey, Paula, I want to marry you. Hey, hey, Paula,” Vega sang.
“Henry?” Porter offered tentatively. “That’s my father’s-”
“I am Henry the eighth, I am, Henry the eighth, I am, I am,” chorused Vega and Mehra and even Carson joined in. The women fell silent at Rodney’s glower, but Carson caught on half a beat too late and continued until John cleared his throat.
Carson flushed and stammered, “Sorry, lads.”
The nurse checking Teldy said quietly, “I always thought if I had a girl, I’d name her Sue.”
John perked up and opened his mouth to say he liked it, but Rodney put his hand over John’s mouth and cut in, “No! No, I will not have a child named Sue. Boy or girl, it’s not happening.”
“But,” John protested through the barrier of Rodney’s hand.
Rodney’s point was made by Vega and Mehra’s quiet chuckling, interspersed with them singing bits and pieces of various songs with the name ‘Sue’ in it. Pinning John with a glare, he stated firmly, “Not. Happening.”
Lorne sat down at their table and chuckled upon catching the tail end of Teyla saying, “…name them after someone you know and respect.”
“That’s not a bad idea, Sir,” Lorne said, adding his two cents to the conversation.
John nodded. “Yeah, it’s something we’ve been thinking about, right, Rodney?”
Rodney hummed agreement, mouth too full of almost-potatoes to respond verbally.
Lorne’s eyes twinkled. “Laura?”
Rodney nearly choked on his food at that. “No! Absolutely not! No way!” he wheezed between coughs.
Ronon chuckled, slapping Rodney between the shoulders to help him breathe. “Aww, why not, Rodney? Laura’s a pretty name.”
John had to fight to keep a straight face. He knew perfectly well that hell would freeze over before any child of theirs would be named after one Laura Cadman. After the whole sharing a body thing, Rodney stayed well away from her and anything to do with her. Like John and the bug thing, Rodney absolutely hated reminders of that particular incident.
John grabbed a couple of fries and dragged them through ketchup as he said, “I was actually leaning toward Danielle, but-”
“No,” Rodney said after taking a drink of John’s water. “No way am I giving Jackson the satisfaction of even thinking our child is named after him.”
“Yeah, but-,” John started, though he knew it was pointless. He’d already lost this particular argument that morning.
Teyla placed a hand on John’s arm and interjected quietly, “How about Richard, if it’s a boy?”
John stayed quiet. He caught the movement of someone coming toward them but wasn’t able to stop Rodney’s response until it was too late.
“No way. I am not going to have my kid be called Dick. Do you know the kind of flak he’d get with a name like that?” Rodney said scornfully.
A quiet gasp had Rodney turn to look over his shoulder even as John groaned and briefly covered his eyes. “Mr. Woolsey,” John said, taking a calming breath as he slowly met the man’s gaze.
“Oh,” was all Rodney could manage, his face ashen.
Richard Woolsey stood by Rodney’s shoulder, looking as stoic as ever they had seen him. “Dr. Sheppard-McKay. Colonel.”
Carson took a steadying breath as he checked the vitals for the baby a second time. John clamped his hand over Rodney’s mouth, preventing his husband from badgering the good doctor further. He hissed into Rodney’s ear, “Leave him be. You know he’ll tell us if anything is wrong, so stop badgering him.”
Shooting John a half-amused, half-exasperated look, Carson murmured, “Thank you, Colonel. Now, Rodney, as I was telling you before you interrupted, the baby appears to be just fine. The stats are changing because it’s almost done cooking, if you will. It’s only a matter of days, now.”
“Are you sure?” asked Rodney, straining to look at the screen.
“Rodney,” John chided, though in truth, he really wanted the reassurance as well.
“Aye, I’m sure,” Carson sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “Honestly, you two are worse than most of the mothers I had to deal with on rotation back in-.” He stopped abruptly and shook his head. “Well, never ye mind that. I know this is new to all of us, but I’m a hundred percent positive that everything is as it should be, Rodney. You two had best prepare yourselves because I doubt it’ll be more than a week before we get to meet him or her.”
Rodney turned to John, eyes alight with excitement. “Less than a week, do you hear that, John?”
Laughing quietly, John nodded as he pulled his husband into his arms. “Yeah, buddy, I heard.”
John stared down at the little bundle in his arms, completely in awe of the tiny rosebud lips, the little button nose, the tiny, tiny hands and feet. He was riveted, and he wasn’t the only one.
Rodney was crowded close, his finger ever so gently tracing over the baby’s delicate features. He chuckled softly as he ran over the shock of dark hair. Glancing up at John, he grinned. “Well, she’s definitely your daughter; she’s going to have your hair. And look, not blue!”
John laughed hoarsely. “God help her,” he murmured.
Just then, she blinked her eyes open, and two bright, blue eyes gazed up at them. John smiled. “She’s going to cause so much trouble,” he whispered.
Carson peered at her and hummed. “Aye, I believe you’re right. So, have you figured out a name for the wee lass?”
John and Rodney both shook their heads. Carson huffed. “Well, ye better hop to it, lads, we can’t go around calling her ‘the baby’ or ‘lass’ for all her years now, can we?”
John carried their daughter as they walked into the mess hall which had been transformed to hold the party to welcome Atlantis’ first born. There were pink and white balloons and streamers everywhere. A table was laden with finger foods, all of which were baby-themed. Another had glass upon glass of champagne and fizzy drinks on it. And last but not least, two tables had been pushed together to accommodate all the gifts.
Everyone wanted to see the newest addition to the expedition, but Mr. Woolsey called John and Rodney to the side and got everyone’s attention. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you would be so kind as to settle down. I believe it is high time we were properly introduced to our latest citizen – or perhaps better put, first citizen – of Atlantis. I trust you two gentlemen have finally settled on a suitable name?”
John grinned and Rodney nodded. Holding on to his daughter’s hand, Rodney beamed as he pronounced, “Her name is Beatrix Dorothy. Beatrix after Beatrix Potter because John loved her work plus she was a scientist, albeit in soft sciences. Dorothy after Dorothy Hodgkin, the second woman to receive a Nobel Prize and a noted scientist as well.”
“Bea for short,” added John, kissing the top of his daughter’s head.
Neither man caught on to the various responses at first, so entranced were they with their miracle. After a while, they looked at each other in confusion. The reactions were many and varied. Some people were genuinely pleased for them and seemed just as puzzled by some of the commotion.
There were several who had turned away, red-faced with embarrassment. Some who appeared to be in shock. And then there were Lorne and Radek, who both seemed barely able to remain upright for laughing.
“What?” asked Rodney indignantly.
Radek took a few gulps of air in an attempt to regain control of himself, though he had to lean on Lorne to stay on his feet. “You… you named…” he spluttered before devolving into giggles again.
“What?!” Rodney repeated, starting to get upset.
John held his daughter closer, scowling slightly, though still at a loss himself as to why his second in command and Zelenka were losing it.
Finally, Lorne managed to regain his composure enough to mutter, “Sir, you… did you even think about…” he paused to take another deep breath and fought a grin as he continued, “B.D.S.M.? Really, Sir?”
Woolsey hid his face in his hand, a muffled, “That poor child,” escaping him.
John and Rodney stared at each other, dumbstruck. “Oh, crap.”