Jeannie stands close to John, leaning slightly into him as she watches the screen. With one hand covering her mouth and the other arm hugging herself tightly, she shakes her head in denial.


I’m Mr. McKay.”


No, you’re a doctor,” corrects Keller off-camera.


Rodney shakes his head belligerently. “No, I’m a mister. Not a doctor anymore. Doctor is a title for smart people. I’m not smart anymore.” He glances away in an attempt to hide the pain of his confession. Turning his attention back to the camera, he adds in a quiet, slightly petulant voice, “I was the smartest person ever, but I’m not anymore.”


Muffling a cry, Jeannie turns away, hiding her face briefly into John’s chest before gathering herself. Squaring her shoulders, she glares at Keller. “How did this happen? How could you have missed this?”


Keller flushes as she attempts to explain, but she falls short. John can’t help but feel a small amount of satisfaction at Jeannie’s outrage, especially when it’s turned on Keller who looks younger than ever.


Teyla slips away to prepare Rodney for Jeannie’s visit, as Jeannie insists on seeing her brother right away. John and Ronon share a glance. Clearing his throat, John places a hand on Jeannie’s arm and tries to smile reassuringly. “We’ll be right outside, okay? Give you some time with Rodney. If you need anything…” His voice trails off, unsure how to convey what he’s trying to say.


Jeannie nods, patting his hand. “Thanks, John, I appreciate it. I still can’t believe that Rodney-” Taking a stuttering breath, she struggles to keep her composure.


“I know. Trust me, I know.”


Flashing him a grateful smile, she nods at him. Just then, Teyla returns and guides Jeannie to the room. As soon as the door closes behind her, John turns to Ronon and jerks his head before walking out of earshot. Ronon follows.


“Ronon, if you get the chance, talk to Jeannie.”


Ronon raises an eyebrow in question. Rolling his eyes, John makes an impatient gesture. “The shrine thing. Tell her about it. No matter what Keller says, Jeannie’s the one that has final say now that she’s here. She deserves to know, and you and I both know Keller would never tell her.”


Nodding, Ronon grumbles, “Yeah, okay.”


Colonel Sheppard to the gateroom.”


Tapping his earpiece, John frowns. “Chuck?”


Sir, we have a team coming in hot. I’ve already called medical and they’re on their way.”


Straightening, he nods to Ronon, indicating he stay put. “On my way. Have Lorne’s team ready, just in case.”


Yes, Sir. They’re already gearing up.”


John smiles at Chuck’s efficiency. He gets to the gateroom in time to see SA-5 come in — two of them running backwards and guns blazing, covering for the other two. With a nod to Chuck, the shield is up and everyone relaxes. Keller rushes forward with her team to take care of the injured, while John walks up to the team lead.


“What happened, Major?”


Major Kersey salutes curtly. “Sir, would advise we strike M6R-936 off our lists.” At John’s quirked brow, he adds with a brief twitch of his lips, “Very hostile… natives, Sir.”


“Natives?” John deadpans, glancing at the injured Marine.


“Yes, Sir. Animals, Sir, but not sure how to describe them. They did not like us encroaching their territory, Sir.”


Running a hand through his hair, John breathes deep. “Right. Okay, so no need to send in a team for negotiations, then.”


At that, Kersey grins. “Doubt they’d accept an apology, Sir. Or ever give one for that matter.”


John can’t help but snicker. “Alright, Major. Go get yourselves checked out by Keller and Lorne will debrief you at 14:00.”


After checking in with Lorne to make sure he’s aware of the debrief, John makes his way back to the infirmary to see how things are going with Rodney and Jeannie. He’s several feet from the infirmary when he hears raised voices. Hurrying, he sees Jeannie standing in front of Keller, her arms crossed and her eyes as cold and hard as ever he’s seen her brother’s be. Jeannie’s voice is ice. “You mean to tell me that you knew about the shrine, and you just blew it off? Who are you to decide that for my brother?”


Keller straightens herself, her cheeks flushing. “I’m his doctor! I know what’s best for Rodney-”


“Dr. McKay,” Jeannie cuts in sharply, startling Keller.




“Dr. McKay, to you. You haven’t the right to be so familiar with him. And I’m his sister, which means I’m his next of kin and I get to decide what is best for my brother. Not you.”


Jeannie’s eyes flicker briefly to John, who has to bite his lip to keep from grinning. Even he knows that would be inappropriate right now, but he can’t help feeling both hope and triumph as Jeannie states unequivocally that they will take Rodney to the shrine, Wraith base or no.


Keller’s jaw clenches as she tries to argue, saying that there’s no scientific evidence and that the whole thing is a waste of time, not to mention dangerous to Rodney.


John clears his throat as he leans against the wall, arms loosely crossed as he gazes flatly at Keller. “We don’t go, Rodney dies anyway. We go, Rodney can be himself for a day and we get to say goodbye. At least when he dies there, it’ll be with dignity rather than what he’s facing now. You know that, Doc. As for danger; we take the Jumper through cloaked, the Wraith won’t even know we’re there.”


“But-” Keller starts, scowling.


“No buts. We are going and that is final,” Jeannie says firmly.


Huffing, Keller nods. “Fine, but I’m going with you to keep an eye on Rod-” At Jeannie’s glower, she amends, “Dr. McKay.”


“Not a problem,” John concedes. “C’mon, Jeannie, lets get you geared up and I’ll clear everything with Woolsey. Doc, I want to leave in thirty, have Rodney ready and meet us in the jumper bay.”


Without waiting for a response, John walks Jeannie down to the ready-room even as he radios Woolsey to get clearance. As expected, Woolsey gives the all-clear and John calls Ronon and Teyla to gear up.


Half an hour later, everyone’s in Jumper One. While they get situated, John pats the console and murmurs under his breath, “If this works, I’ll tell him. I have to at least let him know.”


The gentle, somewhat saddened nudge from Atlantis makes John smile slightly. Nothing can come of Rodney hearing what John has to say, but maybe it’ll mean something to Rodney to know he is loved.