- Explicit Sex
- Science Fiction
Due to the security surrounding my mission, I’m unable to tell you where Sebastian is. He is safe and well-cared for. If you’re willing to sign the longest non-disclosure agreement known to mankind, go visit O’Neill again and ask to be read in. I’ve already sent him an email about the possibility so he’ll be expecting you.
I’ll have several weeks of leave in a few months, I’d like to see you all at that point. I think it would be best, security-wise, if we allowed O’Neill to make those arrangements for us. He’ll know what the best options are and what would be the safest situation for everyone. If you get read into the situation, you’ll understand why that’s important.
Feel free to offer Nancy a job, she certainly deserves to make more money than she’s making in whatever government job she currently has. Despite our divorce, we didn’t part on bad terms. She knew before I did that I could no longer force myself into being the man she wanted. By the way, her maiden name is Hooker. I thought you knew? I’m entirely convinced that she made the choice on which men to date based on potential new last names.
“We all look a lot alike,” Sebastian said.
John looked up from his laptop and focused on his son.
He flicked through another screen on his tablet. “Daphne and I could pass for siblings. Looks like Isabella got her mom’s blonde hair.”
“Your grandmother was a blonde as well,” he murmured. “On both sides actually. Your mom used to joke that she was the only natural blonde she knew in Santa Barbara.” He looked up from his book and found his son frowning. “What?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
“They’re going to love you,” John promised.
“You and Grandpa have been fighting for a long time.”
“Not fighting, not really. We just stopped talking, and there is a lot of blame to go around on that. But the love’s still there, ya know? I just got frustrated with trying to defend my choices and walked away. He eventually stopped trying to get me to come back, and we existed in this kind of terrible limbo where we were both too stubborn to reach out. I imagine that’s how it would’ve gone until…” John trailed off.
“One of you died,” Sebastian said flatly. “I know your job is dangerous Daddy. You came back bleeding from a mission with a hole in your side.”
“A small hole,” John said. “Hardly any sort of injury really—it was just bloody. It didn’t even get listed in my jacket as an official wound since there won’t be a scar.”
Sebastian made a face and concentrated on his tablet. “Uncle David’s wife is beautiful.”
“Very,” John admitted. “I haven’t met her, but she’s probably equally brilliant. He’s always gone for that sort—smart and beautiful.”
“What did you and grandpa argue about?”
“My career choices for a start. He didn’t mind the military service, in fact, he was proud that I wanted to serve since he’d been in the Navy himself. The Air Force choice bothered him a lot, but he was even more appalled by the fact that I didn’t major in a field that would lead to a job at the family company after a few tours. Then he realized I intended on being a career officer. His disagreement was aggressive and at times completely out of line. He stomped all over my boundaries, and I reacted very badly to that. In retrospect, he was terrified I’d get myself killed, but all I saw was disapproval, and it made me resent him.”
“Can you get past that now?”
“I hope so,” John said. “I miss them, but I learned to live without them. I can’t say it was great, but over the last couple of years, I’ve allowed myself to make a family here on Atlantis with my team. It was helping…things were easier.”
“Then I came along.”
“Weirdest and best day of my life,” John said and smiled when Sebastian laughed. “I thought for certain I was about to get my ass handed to me.”
“Well you were pulled off duty from another galaxy by your CO,” Sebastian said. “I guess that was unnerving. I was worried—that you’d say no. I mean I knew I had places I could go but I was scared, I guess, that you’d be angry about being pulled away from your duty station and about mom keeping me a secret.”
“I…” John sighed. “Honestly, I’m quite furious with your mother about keeping you a secret from me. I’d have very much liked to have been part of your life long before now.”
“You wouldn’t have Atlantis,” Sebastian said. “You wouldn’t have gone on a one-way mission if you’d known about me.”
“No, I wouldn’t have,” John agreed. “But I think me and Atlantis had a bit of a date with destiny so I’d have met her one way or another.” He stood. “You have a lesson with Dr. Kusanagi in twenty minutes.”
Sebastian slid his tablet into his messenger bag and whistled softly. Avery wiggled out from underneath the sofa and waddled to him. “I don’t know what’s so interesting under there.”
Avery nooted at him and flapped his little wings as Sebastian put him in the leather backpack. John just watched as the kid shouldered the pack and the penguin started nuzzling his beak through the dark hair curling around the boy’s collar.
“Hair cut tomorrow.”
“Fine, when that penguin starts grooming out your bad feathers, don’t come crying to me.”
Sebastian’s eyes went wide. “I don’t have bad feathers.”
“Like he’s going to see a difference?” John questioned and laughed when Sebastian stared at him in horror. “Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out some way to minimize the bald spots.”
“Maybe a small haircut,” the kid conceded and ran his fingers through his hair.
A few moments after dropping Sebastian off with Miko, John wandered into McKay’s lab and took a seat on a stool across from the scientist who was having a discussion full of wand waves and disdain with Radek Zelenka and Helen Simpson. John glanced down and noted with some amusement that no one had bothered to make Simpson put on matching shoes for the day. She had on sneakers—one blue and one white.
Rodney paused long enough to push a tablet across the table and John picked it up. It took just a few seconds to realize he was looking at Sebastian’s battery project. It wasn’t allowed out of the lab due to security protocols, and he hadn’t been around to see the final version that they were using to build the model. The design itself was descriptively simple—there was an influence underneath it all that spoke to alien technology, but John knew that only a select few people on Earth would ever even suspect it as long as the project remained classified.
The inside of the Mini-Z was a tiny maze of metal with just a micron of distance between the walls. He let his mind wander a bit as he considered the theory behind the battery and the idea of capturing Zero-Point Energy so it could be contained in a vacuum. The ZPM was entirely crystal based. John wondered if that was the problem. The Ancients had become dependent on crystal-based technology near the end of their scientism renaissance. They’d retooled large parts of the city to accommodate that as they’d secured Atlantis with the ATA gene. Still, not every function of the city required the gene.
It was brilliant and on some level kind of horrifying because he could see the applications for weapons spread out in front of it and he didn’t want that for his son. “A little Asgard, a little Ancient, a lot Casimir,” John murmured. “Most will see the Casimir influence only which is for the best.”
“You’ve read Casimir’s work?” Rodney asked in surprise.
“Dutch physicist,” John said. “Yeah, not a lot but it was interesting, and I had to take one physics class in graduate school. When Sebastian asked me about ZPE, that was the only name I could offer so we did some reading on him a few weeks ago.” He set the tablet aside. “I know we can’t really control what people will do with this technology but how do I keep my son out of the business of building weapons of mass destruction, Rodney?”
“Did you send the email to O’Neill about your father?”
“Good, because Sheppard Industries is the perfect front for the Mini-Z on Earth. They’re all up in clean energy already, and your father has the money to back the project to hell and back. I don’t want him building weapons either, and currently, the idea of it is horrifying to him which is good. I can’t promise he won’t change his mind later and we can’t control that either. The best you can do is teach him there are other ways to solve problems and hope his mother’s lessons really stick to him because she really was a bleeding heart liberal.”
John laughed. “Yeah.” He rubbed his head in frustration. “I want things to work out with my father but we…haven’t really gotten along since my mother died. That’s a lot of years of hostility to work through. I held onto my grief for a long time and my anger for even longer.” He glanced around the room and found it empty. “Where did Zelenka and Simpson go?”
“Off to do their own thing,” Rodney said. “I only share my lab when the kid is here because he needs the stimulation. We honestly prefer to work alone for the most part unless we’re working so a specific project that requires a team. Sebastian likes the energy of a full lab and the noise that comes with it.”
John glanced toward the door and locked it with a thought before focusing on the tablet. “This is going to work.”
“Yes and it will blow people’s minds,” Rodney said. “Because it’s deceptively simple and a lot of scientists on Earth are going to be honestly flabbergasted by the fact that they didn’t think of it. It’s revolutionary on the level of say the…wheel.”
John exhaled sharply and rubbed his face. “I…”
“I know.” Rodney huffed. “And the little shit hasn’t even been here a full two months. Imagine what we’ll be looking a year from now.”
Sheppard made a face. “Gah, Rodney, shut up.”
McKay laughed. “Seriously though, he’s been eyeing the plans for the Jumpers, so I have no idea what’s on his big brain. He hasn’t asked for any source materials on aeronautics, so maybe that’s just boy-curiosity in space ships.”
John hummed. “Well, the Jumpers are powered with kinetic energy, so maybe he’s been comparing them to the rest of Ancient technology and his own project.”
“Maybe, let’s hope. If he busts out with the plans for an X-wing, I’m not going to be mad.”
“I’m not even sure if he’s seen Star Wars,” John said thoughtfully. “We should probably investigate that.”
“Certainly,” Rodney agreed and cleared his throat. “But I need you to know that the SGC is going to see the Mini-Z as a solution in a lot of ways for powering the city, powering the SGC, adding power to the ships, and to the ship’s weapons. The Asgard were against giving us their weapons, so we’ve had to make our solutions. A laser cannon powered by a Mini-Z could cut a hive to pieces, John, in a matter of minutes.”
“I know,” John said and frowned. “Can we just agree that he can’t be involved with the actual design or construction of weapons until he’s eighteen and can make a decision for himself. I don’t want to put him on that path, not ever, but I’d like to stand in the way of it until he’s an adult. And I can’t say I’m not going to make sure he understands that I’d prefer that he focus on saving lives and creating things that help versus destroy.”
“His Mini-Z could and certainly will save lives on Earth. That’s what we’ll focus on. I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep the details from him regarding the SGC’s use of the device, but I agree that making weapons should be the last thing he ever thinks about doing. I don’t do it unless I have no choice. In fact, I hadn’t built a weapon of any sort in eight years until I had to build those two nukes during the siege. It was necessary but also morally repugnant.”
John nodded. “I know.”
“That being said, I need you to look at the other open document on that tablet.”
John raised an eyebrow but gamely retrieved the tablet and flicked through several screens. He settled on a document called McKay’s Hammer. His mouth dropped open. “Is this…” He scrolled down quickly and took a deep breath. “You’re going to use the Mini-Z to power a wraith detector?”
“Kind of,” Rodney said. “I’ve had the idea for a while, but the city doesn’t have enough power to govern the system which will be housed here on Atlantis. Basically, the city gate will become the governor of all gates in the galaxy. The set up is already there so I think the Ancients might have controlled the gates at one point which is why many in Pegasus call it the Ring of the Ancestors. At any rate, the program will track the wraith who use the gate and allow us to hunt them. I considered outright destruction in transit, but they’d catch on to that way too quickly. But we can also use to create a sanctuary world where no Wraith can go. If we put a stargate down on a world that doesn’t have one and control how people get there—they’ll never even know it exists.”
“Or like our perfectly inhabitable moon?” John questioned. “Then we could defend them if a ship comes.”
“Yes,” Rodney agreed. “That moon is easily the size of Earth, so it would have plenty of room for people. Lots of land and fresh water as well. I’ll be pitching this to the IOA with Elizabeth’s help after we confirm the viability of the Mini-Z.”
“Have you shared it with Sebastian, yet?”
“Not yet. I wanted to run it by you first.” Rodney raised an eyebrow. “What do you think?”
“I think we could find their nest world with this,” John murmured. “It could change the tide of the war we’re fighting here. And it’s not a weapon but more of a surveillance device, so I’m not opposed to him seeing or working with it in some fashion if he has ideas to improve it.” He paused. “Not that I think your work needs improving.”
Rodney laughed. “You don’t have to pander to my ego, John.” He nudged him a little as he sat down on the stool beside him. “Sleeping with one of the hottest people on the city is doing quite enough for my self-esteem.”
John felt his face heat with a blush and rolled his eyes. “You’re such an asshole, McKay.” He sighed and refocused his attention on the plans. “So how does this work?”
“A person or object is transmitted through the gate system in a discrete package. The system is designed to make sure your package remains intact and unmodified by anything else that could be traveling with you.”
“So, no The Fly-like incidents,” John summed up.
“Exactly. Well, the system is keeping track of genetic codes already, so it was the work of nothing to isolate various species moving through the gate system in Pegasus in historical data. But to get that data processed while the system is in use requires a lot of power for the city’s supercomputer. In fact, I previously thought I’d need a ZPM dedicated to the project to make it viable. So it’s not been any sort of option until recently.”
“And we couldn’t use this program to alter the Wraith, like with Beckett’s plan? If he got access to this data could he propose some kind of genetic manipulation?”
“No, he couldn’t. The gate system has dozens of redundancies built into the system to protect the traveler’s genetic code. We’d have to break the whole thing permanently to do that, and it wouldn’t be safe for anyone to travel through it. Besides, Beckett doesn’t have computer or programming skills to decipher and alter the gate code which is written in Ancient.”
John nodded. “Sometimes I wonder if our way is any better. I’m not sure we have the moral high ground on the Beckett situation. Even as fucked up as his ethics are.”
“You’re not sport hunting, John,” Rodney snapped. “In any single fight, the Wraith have every chance of defeating us. We aren’t fighting over territory or oil or even resources out there. We’re defending the lives of the innocents against a genetic experiment gone wrong. Honestly, we’re cleaning up the mess an Ancient version of Carson Beckett left behind. Seeking the destruction of their species might not be the most moral choice we have but what’s left? They think we’re food and they have no desire whatsoever to investigate alternate food sources.”
“Right.” John set aside the tablet. “It’s a fucked up situation no matter how you look at it, and our choices are few. I guess we just have to…do what we can live with. Live being the operative word.”
– – – –
The moment he set eyes on her, he regretted walking from the engineering tower to the botany department. It would’ve been safer to take the transporter despite the sunny day. He picked Avery up and took a deep breath as Dr. Heightmeyer smiled at him.
“Good afternoon, Sebastian.”
“Hi, Dr. Heightmeyer.” She patted the bench beside her, and he couldn’t help but grimace. “I have a lesson in botany in just a few minutes.”
She raised an eyebrow. “It’s about an hour from now, right?”
Ambush, he thought sourly and exhaled sharply. “Avery’s hungry, so I’m going to take him to hydroponics for a snack first.”
“Just a few minutes won’t hurt anything.” She patted the bench again.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” he blurted out and his face heated up when she blinked in surprise. “Just leave me alone!” He turned on his heel and made for the nearest transporter.
– – – –
John entered the apartment and dropped the bag of food he’d brought from the mess on a table by the entry then headed for the kid’s room. He could hear Avery nooting very softly and wasn’t all that surprised to find Sebastian curled up on the bed. The penguin was perched on the pillow plucking gently at the kid’s hair like he was petting him. Avery turned to John and squawked in what he thought was indignation. The little thing was very attuned to Sebastian’s emotions—something John figured he should report to biology.
He sat down on the edge of the bed and Sebastian turned to him. “Hey, buddy.”
“I yelled at Dr. Heightmeyer.”
“She told me she upset you,” John said. “She wants you to know that she wasn’t waiting for you. She’d just finished a session with a patient and was resting there a few minutes before she went to lunch.”
Sebastian lowered his gaze as tears slid down his cheeks. “I can’t talk to her. Not ever.”
John picked him up, and Sebastian burrowed against his throat and started to cry in earnest. “Okay.” He patted his back. “I swear I won’t make you but…I think you need to talk to someone other than me about your mom. Keeping all this in isn’t healthy.”
Sebastian’s fingers dug a little into his arms as he held on. “I know.” He pressed his face hard against John’s neck. “But not her.”
Avery tried to hop up onto John’s thigh and tumbled off onto the bed. The bird made a little chuffy sound that spoke to pure frustration. Sebastian laughed just a little before reaching out to pick him up.
John shifted slightly to accommodate boy and penguin then took a deep breath. “What about Kate puts you off? She’s the only psychologist on the city with experience with children and grief counseling.”
“She reminds me of Mom,” Sebastian blurted out and rubbed Avery’s back. “They could be sisters, Daddy. And every time I see her I have to…all I can think is that I’ll never see my mom again and it’s horrible. It hurts.”
John closed his eyes. “I feel…like an idiot.” He pressed a kiss against the kid’s forehead. “I’ll take care of it, and I’m sorry I didn’t notice the resemblance. I should’ve. If I were still trying to be straight, Heightmeyer would’ve been…”
“Your first target,” Sebastian said wryly.
John winced. “Rude way of saying it, kid.” He poked the boy in the side gently, and Sebastian laughed, so John dumped him on the bed and Avery squawked as he rolled across the mattress. “I’m just saying that she’s the type of woman I’d have gone for. Even my ex-wife Nancy was a blonde when I met and married her. She started dying her hair brown shortly after our divorce. She said it was to make people take her seriously.”
“McKay’s got light brown hair. I guess it might have been blond when he was younger,” Sebastian said. “He’s got, ya know, feelings, Daddy. So I hope you don’t break his heart or anything.”
John flushed. “Hey, I’m not an asshole.”
“I’m not saying you are,” Sebastian protested and grabbed some tissues from the nightstand. “I just…I overheard Dr. Kusanagi say you were allergic to commitment but that she thought being a father had changed you.”
“Miko’s not necessarily wrong,” John admitted. “I’ve avoided relationships since I met her actually so…yeah…but Rodney is my best friend, and we’re trying to figure things out between us. I’d never hurt him on purpose, and I know that he’d never set out to hurt me either. I want to make it work with him, and I’m working on sorting out my own feelings. Can that be enough for now?”
“Yeah,” Sebastian said. “I mean I’m not trying to get in your business.”
“We’re family,” John said. “And I know McKay is important to you. I think on some days you like him more than me.”
The kid laughed and shrugged.
“That’s okay because some days, I like him more than you, too,” John said wryly and flicked the kid’s nose when the kid pretended to be insulted. “Hungry?”
“Starving. And also, I didn’t feed Avery in hydroponics ‘cause I got so upset about Heightmeyer, so I’m a terrible penguin keeper today.”HeiHHe
“Chief Cooper sent me some raw fish for Avery, but he’s eating it outside on the balcony because—gross.”
“We haven’t penguin proofed, so I guess we’re all eating outside,” Sebastian reminded.
– – – –
John rapped his knuckles gently against the doorframe of Heightmeyer’s open office. “Hey.”
Kate smiled and motioned him in. “Is he okay?”
“Upset but not angry anymore,” John conceded. “He did think you ambushed him and that was pretty upsetting for him. I canceled the rest of his lessons for the day, so he’s going to take Avery to the public swimming area and do that for a while.” He offered her his tablet as he sat down in the chair in front of her desk. “That’s his mom.”
Kate stared at the tablet for a long moment clearly startled. “I see.”
“Do you? Because I didn’t, and I feel like a jerk.”
“She looks like my sister,” Kate said. “In fact, I could put her picture in amongst my sisters and me, and no one would question the relation.” She sighed. “I…I’m clearly not the person he needs for therapy. Perhaps if he saw the resemblance as a positive one, it would allow me to bond with him. But this combined with your very pointed email to the women on the city about not mothering him tells me that’s not ready for that kind of interaction with a woman.”
“Katie Brown was making him uncomfortable with her efforts to…as he put it ‘mom’ him. I don’t know what she was doing exactly, but he started avoiding her like the plague. Since he isn’t avoiding all women, I get the feeling she was throwing out a maternal vibe that put him off completely.”
Kate nodded. “I’ll speak with Dr. Brown if you’d like?”
“I think she’s going to transfer back to Earth so unless it escalates there’s no reason to single her out,” John said. “I know she has some issues…around that whole thing and I wouldn’t want to be unduly hurt by the situation.” He blew out a breath. “I mean…well.” He exhaled sharply. “There’s the whole thing with McKay already so yeah.”
Kate laughed. “I shouldn’t be so amused to watch you stumble around your emotions.”
“Good thing you’re not my therapist now,” John said wryly. “Or I’d be really offended.”
“Speaking of Dr. Grant, I believe due to the circumstances that Sebastian might do well with him. I’m not diagnosing your son, but it would be a mistake to overlook his reaction to me. I’m clearly a trigger of some sort.”
“His mother was murdered, Kate. I don’t think he knows that but he’s smart so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s starting to question that and maybe…” John sighed. “Jesus.”
“Dr. Grant does specialize it PTSD,” Kate said gently. “So let’s work on getting Sebastian into his office sometime within the next two months, okay?”
“Okay.” John slouched back in his chair.
Kate smirked suddenly.
She glanced toward the tablet and quirked one eyebrow. “I’m your beard-type, huh?”
“Shut up,” John said huffily. “And yes.” He waved a hand. “I’d be all over it if I were still trying to be that guy.”
Kate put on a grave face. “Let me know if you need that sort of assistance. I would be delighted to lie my ass off on your behalf regarding our nonexistent two-year secret sexual affair to practically everyone except for McKay.” Then she smirked again. “Because I’m not a moron.”
John blew out air between his lips loudly. “Thanks.”