Words: 2,129 (of 11,492)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney; Jeannie, Kaleb, and Madison Miller; John/Rodney, Jeannie/Kaleb Miller
Warnings/Spoliers: Part 6 of #10 in the Ancient!John 'verse (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5); takes place between "The Siege," part III, and "The Intruder," and contains spoliers for "McKay and Mrs. Miller" as well as all SG1 episodes through "Mobius."
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, quotes et al are properties of their respective owners and I am merely using them under Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine, without intents to infringe upon or defame anyone's legal rights.
Summary: Jeannie and Kaleb have a dinner date.
Notes: I don't know how to explain this chappie. It just kinda happened. But it is the last of the "Advena" arc. Make of it what you will.
An Ancient!John Story
It's their seventh day – and closing in on their seventh night – in Vancouver when Rodney walks out of his sister's kitchen to see John standing by the front window in the living room and peering out it in a way that screams more we're being surrounded by hostile natives than I'm spying on the neighbours. They've plans to leave the day after tomorrow, to head south to Area 51 so the scientists there can pester John about the bits of Ancient tech they've yet to identify and his sister and her husband are using the opportunity to have a night out while he and John watch Madison. Not that Rodney's doing most of the watching. He leaves that to John, who he's discovered, much to his surprise, to be curiously good with children.
Not that John's doing much watching at the moment – at least not of Madison, who's sprawled on the couch, very much asleep. He doesn't even turn around when Rodney comes out of the kitchen, though the light that pours through the door is far too bright for the darkened room, illuminated only by the flickering of Finding Nemo on the turned-down TV.
"John?" he asks, not knowing whether to be worried or amused by this latest behaviour. (During their foray into the local mall to get John clothing that wasn't US military issue, he'd been forced to explain both the purpose and the internal workings of the washing machines on display without making it obvious to anyone who might be listening that's what he was doing. And Rodney doesn't even want to think about the explanations that had been required in Coles that had resulted in the purchase of almost five hundred dollars in history and political science books.) "Something wrong?"
John doesn't turn around, just makes a gesture they use in the field that roughly means quiet and enemy contacts and safeties off, which is vaguely alarming considering the most malicious elements Rodney has found in Vancouver since arriving at Jeannie's so far have been her elderly next door neighbour, Mrs. Chase, who never cleans up after her dog, and a bizarre traffic pattern somehow related to preparations for the Olympics that are to be held here five years hence. And, while annoying neither exactly qualify as enemy contacts.
He makes a come here, see gesture this time, so that's exactly what he does, John carefully stepping back so Rodney can take his place, then leaning in close enough that his breath is warm against his ear when he whispers, "That car. The black one, parked on the corner."
Rodney looks. It's not so much a black car as a black SUV, the kind you always see gangsters and government agents driving in movies.
"It's been there," he continues, "since almost the moment Kaleb and Jeannie left."
"That's almost three hours," Rodney mutters.
"And it's not just the neighbours?"
"They have a red car, one with an H decal, and they left yesterday afternoon, all three of them together."
Stepping back from the window, "Do I want to know how you know this?"
"I notice things."
"There are so many things I could say to that."
"That's just hurtful."
"Says the man who can barely remember to open doors."
John gives a bark of laughter, one that has both their eyes darting towards Madison, who luckily sleeps straight through it. "It's not my fault," he says more quietly still, so Rodney has to strain to hear him, even though there can't be an inch between them, "that your planet is so backwards."
"You're the one who put us here."
"Again, not personally responsible for the failings of my entire race."
Frowning, "You consider humanity to be a failing?"
"Hardly," John says dryly. "I just wish you'd build proper doors."
"There is something seriously wrong with you, you realize that, don't you?"
He feels the other man shrug behind him. "So they tell me. But that doesn't change the fact that a strange car's been parked outside for almost three hours in the best spot on the street to see everything without being seen yourself."
"I think you're overreacting." The SGC probably has surveillance on them – on John, the last Ancient in two galaxies and their meal ticket to unlocking the secrets of the universe, if only they can get John to realize that Earthlings, despite appearances, don't actually already know them. So what if he doesn't know the science? Being able to do the maths is half the battle and leaves Rodney with something interesting to do – here. The SUV's probably theirs. Who outside the SGC knows – or cares – that they're here?
"I'm going out there."
"And doing what?" Rodney snorts. "Tapping on the window and asking if they're NID or VPD or CSIS or some other governmental alphabet soup agency?"
"Something like that," he says, which probably means that's exactly what he's planning on doing and that he hasn't the slightest clue what the NID or CSIS might be, let alone what the difference is between them.
"And if they're not friendly?" the SGC wouldn't issue John a gun for the trip, saying they were having enough bureaucratic issues with the Atlantis Expedition – something about the EU and Commonwealth nations wanting a share of technology and personnel more commensurate to their financial contributions to the IOA (read: larger) – without sending an armed American Air Force officer across country lines.
"I'll figure something out."
"It'll only take a second. Be right-"
Rodney grabs his arm as John turns for the door. "This isn't the Pegasus galaxy," he says, caught for a moment by the Ancient's too-intense stare. "We're not alone here and..." He pulls his cell phone out of his pocket, hitting the speed dial that takes him straight through to the SGC's emergency phone line, "...there is such a thing as backup."
It turns out that a couple of the IOA representatives – the British, Canadian, and Australian ones in particular – didn't like the idea of an alien running around their territories unwatched. Rodney rather thinks it has less to do with John being an alien and more to do with the fact that both of the officers the Marines had sent to Pegasus originally were dead by John's hand before the end of the first year of the Expedition, but refrains from mentioning this to John, who takes the news with what seems like causal aplomb, shrugging it off like nothing these Terrans do actually matters to him. Instead he sits at the floor in front of the couch and pulls out his notebook – the one he's doing all the equations in – and opens it to a blank page, staring at it unseeingly for the longest time. His hands clench at his sides, hidden almost completely from sight by the coffee table, like he's fighting the urge to hit something, but other than that he looks exactly like a man trying to write up a grocery list, or something similar.
Rodney does the only thing he can do; he turns off the TV, grabs his computer, and takes a seat next to him. "So, we've two weeks – three tops – before the Daedalus arrives to take us home. Which means we have twenty-one days at most for you to finish your proof for the Riemann Hypothesis in time for it to be reviewed and published before the end of the year so you can qualify for next year's Fields Medal, and while technically you'll still qualify with the birth date they cooked up for you for the 2010 prize, I hold out hope that by then we can have you on track for a proper Nobel. Something easy – medicine maybe."
John leans his head back against the couch and groans.
"I'm sorry but, frankly, when they finally declassify the Stargate Program and I get the recognition I deserve, I'd rather spend the after-party talking about my discoveries than having to constantly explain to people that, yes, you do have a brain."
"Well I'm sorry if I'm ruining your plans to pretend to be just another idiot flyboy but the fact is you're not, so get over it and explain this proof to me so I can write it up for you."
John's liberated a chair from the dining room and is sitting it in, backwards, about three feet from the television in his sister's living room when said sister and her husband arrive back from their date some two hours later. He's determinedly trying to suss out the plot of Doctor Strangelove with his very limited knowledge of the Cold War. During the commercials, he's explaining his proof to Rodney, who's still sitting in front of the couch, laptop actually balanced in his lap, trying to type up the monograph he'll need to submit to the Clay Mathematics Institute if he ever wants to prove John's solved one of the Millennium Prize Problems. John's still not too keen on the idea but he's willing to let Rodney write it up in his name in exchange for assistance avoiding Doctor Jackson when they're at Area 51, which Rodney would have given anyway, so it all works out.
"Well," Jeannie says, "I guess it was too much to hope that two grown men could manage to put a three-year-old to bed on their own."
"She's in her pyjamas and her teeth are brushed," John says absently, frowning at the TV,
Rodney, however, does look up from his computer. "I tried but she has John wrapped around her little finger."
"And he," Jeannie says, sitting down on the floor next to him while Kaleb gathers up Madison, "has you wrapped around his."
He tries snorting derisively at this – the kind of snort he saves for Kavanaugh's more preposterous ideas – but it comes out all wrong, not quite qualifying as a bark of laugher (it's too soft for that) and a few decibels too much to count as a what can you do? sigh. Feeling he has no other option after such a pathetic showing, he hits save and passes over the laptop. "Tell me how this sounds so far."
Jeannie gives him a curious look and does as he asks.
Two minutes in she says, "Is this what I think it is?"
"Depends on what you think it is."
"But you're an astrophysicist."
"It's not mine."
"Then whose is it?"
Rodney tilts his head towards John, who's still frowning at the television screen.
"But he's a pilot. A military pilot."
"Karl Schwarzchild derived his solution to Einstein's field equations while an artillery lieutenant on the eastern front during World War One."
"Schwarzchild is a special case and you know it."
"John's..." Rodney trails off, unable to find a word that comes anywhere near describing the miracle that is John. Because John shouldn't exist.
(It's not just that he should be dead so many times over with what they know about Alteran stasis technology and the wounds he'd been suffering from when they found him. It's not even his propensity for throwing himself into situations where the best case scenario is that they'll find all of the pieces he'll be blown into at the end of the day. No, its the way John can even smile after having to live his entire life in a city under Siege by the Wraith and then wake up ten thousand years later to fight the same enemy, knowing that they were stronger than ever; the way he's anything less than a sociopath after being raised more by a sentient city with more personality disorders than rooms than by the father who apparently drilled it into his head that his life meant nothing if he isn't willing to do whatever is necessary to do what needs to be done.)
"...it's classified," he finishes unsatisfactorily.
It's her turn to snort, but she goes back to reading the proof without questioning further.
Two days later they're just on the American side of the border, heading for Area 51 when John says, apropos of nothing in particular, "Terra is strange."
"But you like it?"
"When we haven't been underground? Yeah, I think so."
Continue on to the next installment.