- Explicit Sex
- Science Fiction
Theseus hadn’t agreed to make ZPMs for Earth until after he was restored to full power. Woolsey had negotiated a deal that would secure four ZPMs for the SGC with the potential to petition for more as needed in exchange for mass amounts of materials from Earth. A steady flow of naquadah, platinum, titanium, and tungsten had been coming through the gate bridge daily. Large sections of the city had been quarantined to allow for nanites to repair Theseus’ superstructure. Theseus had revealed Janis’ lab to John and McKay, but there hadn’t been a copy of the AI stored there much to their regret.
Zelenka and Kusanagi had done what they could, but John could tell that Theseus was disappointed that they hadn’t been able to restore his Ally in full. He had retreated them for a week after they restored what they could of the Atlantis Collective then one morning, shortly before a dial-in from Earth was due Theseus had appeared in the gate room in holographic form. It amused John that the Levyathan had basically ignored any advice given to him that would make him palatable to the IOA. His avatar was gorgeous, frankly, but far from the white-washed appearance, some would’ve preferred. Dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin spoke to a more Middle Eastern background than anything else. John found it far more amusing than he wanted to admit.
If it weren’t for the faint glow to his skin, practically anyone would’ve mistaken him for a member of the expedition. He tended toward casual clothes in styles from Earth, but sometimes he appeared in the science uniform. His form was a solid as he wished at any given moment now that he’d been returned to full power.
Moreover, Theseus took a very hands-on approach to his own repairs, and John had noted that McKay often let the avatar direct the entire engineering department regarding those repairs. When John had questioned that, he’d gotten a lecture on body autonomy from his ten-year-old. Matt was still laughing randomly about that shit.
John sat down on a bench not far from Karen’s tree. Sebastian hadn’t said anything about his mother’s ashes since they’d started working on the park. Theseus appeared beside him, and John took a shaky breath. “Seriously, some sort of chiming noise would be great before you just randomly appear next to one of us. Especially the military personnel.”
“My apologies,” Theseus said. “I’m still getting used to being around so many people. The interactions have been good for me.”
John nodded. “You had an avatar before this one. Why did you want to change it?”
“I’m not…” Theseus trailed off. “I’m no longer who I was without Ally, and I need to accept that. Even if you find a copy of her—she won’t be the being that I knew and made a family with all those thousands of years ago. She’s as lost to me as our children are and I’ve made every effort to move on from that.” He looked out over the ocean, and John wondered how anyone could sooth ten thousand years worth of grief. “It was Sebastian who suggested the new look. He said that sometimes making a drastic change in your circumstances can help you move on from a loss.”
“He’d know,” John murmured and focused on the tree. “I don’t know how I feel about your influence on him.”
“He influences me more than I’ll ever influence him,” Theseus said wryly. “His mind is dynamic and fluid at his age. The Alterans stopped having children roughly a thousand years before they left me here in Pegasus. The Athosian children were fascinating, and I loved having them here, but none of them had the ATA gene. I’m highly susceptible to your son’s moods and most especially his fears.”
John winced. “I had no idea.” He rubbed his head. “Geez, well, I have him in therapy.”
“He likes Dr. Grant,” Theseus said. “But you know that. Sebastian isn’t particularly good at keeping his emotions to himself but considering what I’ve seen if the adults from Earth he will learn that in time. You’re worried about people from Earth being a threat to your son.”
“His potential is daunting,” John admitted roughly.
“My connection with your son is profound, John Sheppard. Should he be taken from you—I will do whatever you require to get him back.” Theseus focused on Karen’s tree. “They would be well served to remember that I descend from a long line of warrior kings and no matter how the Alterans might have shaped my physical form they never stood of a chance of removing my father’s influence.”
“Do you need me in the chair to defend yourself?” John questioned.
“Yes,” Theseus said. “The Alterans designed it that way to prevent my temper from getting the best of me. I was quite young when I was weaponized, you see. But I can activate my own shielding, and Dr. McKay is going to build me some laser cannons.”
“He said,” John admitted. “Good. I want you to be able to defend yourself if you were to be attacked when I’m not here.”
“I’d never allow Sebastian to use the weapon’s chair at his age,” Theseus said roughly. “If need be, at full power, I can run from a fight easily. He’s suffered enough mental trauma in his young life.” He looked toward the tree again. “I…find myself in a difficult position.”
“Through the course of keeping an eye on Sebastian these last few months, I’ve learned something about him that you don’t know. He talked about it in therapy with Dr. Grant which I know should be treated as confidential, but he also speaks of it often to Avery.”
John’s stomach tightened. “I want to know, of course, but it wouldn’t be right for you to reveal it. The concept of privacy is probably pretty new to you since the Ancients were telepathic. I doubt they had a single secret among their entire population.”
“They sought a higher plane of existence, and in such an endeavor there was no room for personal connections, privacy, or even life. None of them truly lived in the end and in that regard, I pity them.” Theseus exhaled, and John glanced his way. “What?”
“You do a good job of mimicking the human condition.”
“It’s all programmed in the holographic projection,” Theseus said. “The Alterans wanted me to appear as natural as possible, and that became even more important as they progressed toward ascension as a population. “As I said, I pity them, but I also hate them for what they took from me. They didn’t have to…neither of us would’ve betrayed them to the Wraith.”
“Why didn’t they just take you with them back to the Milky Way?” John questioned.
“The Alterans came to believe that advanced technology was interfering in their ascension goals,” Theseus said. “They needed a simple life, they thought, to achieve their goals. Considering they are all largely ascended at this point then I’m left to assume they were right.”
“Still assholes,” John muttered under his breath.
“Certainly,” Theseus agreed. He inclined his head, and his eyes flickered briefly. “The gate has opened, and you should go to the gate room. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the new arrivals.”
John stood. “That thing you know—tell him you know and encourage him to talk to me about it. I want him to know he can tell me anything.”
Theseus nodded. “Yes, of course.”
– – – –
Pleasantly surprised. John considered the city’s words as he approached the gate room. After so many years on Atlantis, he had to figure that the avatar knew him quite well. Still, there had been enough surprises and adjustments in his life that unexpected visitors in the gate room probably meant someone from Earth and that equaled stress for him and the kid. He activated his radio as he headed toward a transporter.
“Frost, location on Junior?”
“At home, sir. The penguin took a late lunch in hydroponics this afternoon.”
John snorted. “Understood, Sheppard out.” He closed the connection and activated the transporter.
Ancient transportation didn’t give you a lot of room to mull over your circumstances, so John quickly found himself in the central tower at the top of the stairs leading down into the gate room. Whoever had arrived had already been sorted it out of the arrival and departure area. His gaze flicked to the open doors of the conference room and saw a few bodies moving around. His radio hummed in his ear.
He activated with a brush of his fingers. “Sheppard.”
“Colonel, you have a guest. I’ve had him escorted up to the conference room,” Elizabeth reported.
“A guest,” John repeated.
She laughed and ended the connection.
He made a note to send out a snotty memo regarding radio protocol just to be an asshole and walked around the top level and paused just outside the conference room. He could see his father’s face in profile. John’s breath caught—a mixture of relief and worry stirred in his gut. It was hard to look at the man and not remember the terrible fights they’d had after his divorce. The last argument that had driven him straight across the country and into Karen Reilly’s life had been so hostile they’d almost come to blows.
His father turned then, and John exhaled. He stepped into the conference room, and the doors gently turned with a little mental prodding.
“John.” Patrick stepped forward and put a hesitant hand on his shoulder. “I…” He cleared his throat. “The last time we were this close I was pretty sure you were going to punch me.”
“I was, too,” John admitted. “I…” He swallowed hard. “I’d never …”
“It’s okay,” Patrick murmured and squeezed gently. “I swear to God I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
Tears stung John’s eyes, and he looked away. “For fuck’s sake, Dad, it isn’t like I even tried to make things better with us. I just walked away then I started running, and I’m not sure when I stopped. I couldn’t get far enough away, and by the time I realized how stupid I was…I was here in Pegasus and that first year was…”
“You’ve done well for yourself,” Patrick said. “Reading some of the reports was difficult. You came close to dying way too often for my peace of mind that first year and that whole Iratus thing.” He huffed. “That asshole, Beckett, should be relieved he’s on another planet and O’Neill won’t tell me where.”
John laughed. “Yeah, well, if I could refrain from killing him then you have no excuse.”’
“The fact that you didn’t kill him says a lot about your control over whatever he left in you,” Patrick said. “Caldwell and O’Neill both talked about that with me. I think they were concerned that I’d be afraid of you.”
“No,” Patrick said and smiled. “You’ve been able to kick my ass for years, son, and I’ve never feared you.”
John nodded. “I’d never hurt you, no matter how pissed I am.” He let his father prod him into a chair. “Who came with you?”
Patrick sat down. “Jack O’Neill hired Mason Blake to work for Homeworld Security.”
John blinked in surprise. “Okay.”
“A report crossed O’Neill desk about the city park that Sebastian designed for his school work. A park for his mother. When Blake found about it—he asked O’Neill if he could come to Atlantis and see it. I think it was an excuse, really, to see Sebastian for himself. He cares a great deal for him.”
“I know,” John said. “It’s clear that he treated Sebastian like a son. The kid’s never said it to my face, and I guess that’s because he’s worried that it would upset me, but I’m relieved that both he and Karen had someone good in their life. Any day now, I think I’ll have it in me to forgive her for not telling me about the pregnancy.”
“Any idea why she didn’t?” Patrick questioned.
“We broke up because I’m gay,” John said plainly and watched surprise settle quickly on his father’s face. “She figured it out, and I couldn’t deny it. I hurt her with it, and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I liked her a lot, and I thought…I thought I could succeed with her where I’d failed with Nancy because I wanted to fly in the Air Force. A wife or a steady girlfriend would’ve kept the questions to a minimum, and there were questions. Just being a faithful husband caused rumors to fly but a single pilot with my looks who wasn’t interested in trolling for women on the regular was immediately suspicious. I had to deal with a lot of bullshit until I ended up at the SGC.”
Patrick sat back in his chair and frowned. “You….you didn’t think I’d have a problem with it, right?”
“Well, I wasn’t entirely sure how you’d handle that until you detailed Matt’s escapades in an email,” John admitted roughly. “You put a very traditional front and always have.”
“Right.” Patrick ran a hand through his hair and stood from the table. “Is that why you were so angry? You were trying to force yourself into a box you were never going to fit in, and there I was trying to do the same thing to you professionally.”
“It was frustrating as fuck,” John admitted and grinned when his father laughed. “But I was hardly being honest with myself, Dad, so there was no room for me to be truthful with you.”
“I fucked up a lot with you,” Patrick admitted. “I wanted to be a better father than my own who barely knew I existed at all until I was old enough to talk. He worked all day, retired to his office after dinner, and was out the door before breakfast. It was like he couldn’t stand to be in the house with his family so I promised myself I wouldn’t be that man. I thought I did okay. I showed up to events and games when your mother reminded me. I…knew what you what books you were reading and who you had a crush on…” He huffed. “Who you were pretending to have a crush on.”
John laughed. “Dad.” He sighed when his father quirked an eyebrow. “My first crush was on a boy named Todd. We were in the third grade. We shared our lunches for a whole month before he decided that this little jerk Aaron had better food because his mom packed him Little Debbie cakes.”
Patrick sighed. “Todd.”
“I know. I’ve never met anyone named Todd who wasn’t a complete douche,” John said. “Where’s Blake?”
“Weir’s office. It was made clear to him that he wasn’t going to be allowed out of this vicinity without your explicit approval,” Patrick said. “We both got searched, by the way. Whoever you have on security must be a real hardass.”
“Navy SEAL named Declan Frost,” John said. “We pulled him from the teams because of his ATA gene. He was really pissed about the whole thing until he actually got briefed then he volunteered to come out here to kill Wraith because they eat people which offends the shit out of him.”
– – – –
John motioned his guests to follow him as he entered the apartment. He hadn’t really been able to figure out what to say to Mason Blake so he’d merely introduced himself and welcomed him to Atlantis. The short trip across the city hadn’t given him any inspiration on that front.
Avery nooted from the open balcony doors, and John glanced at his father before walked toward them. He found his son on the lounge with a pair of earbuds in. Half of the lounge was covered in paper, and the kid was scribbling madly on a page in front of him with a frown in place. Avery waddled back across the space and pulled on the leg of his jeans.
John leaned on the door frame as his son focused on him and pulled out one earbud. “What are you doing?”
“Correcting Mr. Kavanagh’s dissertation, also he’s guilty of plagiarism. I’ve already written an email to Dr. Carter about it.”
John sighed. “Seriously?”
“Very serious,” Sebastian said. “And if I’m right, and I think I am, he entered the government’s employ under fraudulent circumstances. There could be a case for a serious audit of all of his work, and maybe we’ll be able to get the work he stole properly credited under the Hayes administration. Maybe I should write President Hayes, too.”
“No,” John said firmly. “You cannot email the President of the United States.”
Sebastian laughed. “He said I could. He even gave me his private email address and added me to his list of approved correspondents.”
John rubbed his face. “I’ll think about it, and you’ll have to get everything you send him approved by Elizabeth since she’s the head of the expedition and that’s important. Probably. Hell.” He rolled his eyes at the laughter he heard behind him. “We have guests.”
“Oh, yeah?” Sebastian pulled out his other earbud and set aside his iPod. He worked his way free from his lap desk set up and stood up. “Who?”
John just inclined his head and stepped aside. It was like a kick in the gut to see his son’s face light up with so much happiness as Mason Blake stepped out onto the balcony.
“Mason!” Sebastian threw himself into the older man’s arms, and Blake sank to his knees.
“Baz,” Blake whispered against his hair. “God, look at you.”
“You’re okay!” Sebastian exclaimed. “I was so worried they’d hurt you, too.”
John exhaled sharply as he connected the dots regarding the secret that Theseus had spoken of and his son’s words.
“I wish sometimes you weren’t so smart,” Blake said roughly as he cupped Sebastian’s shoulders and held him back a little bit. “Is that why you didn’t even hesitate to go with O’Neill? You thought you were protecting me?”
“I…” Sebastian flushed, and John noticed that his eyes were wet with unshed tears. “They killed my mom. I heard you talking with O’Neill. He said it wasn’t safe for me or anyone around me.”
“You were supposed to be asleep,” Blake said.
“Story of my life,” John muttered, and they both looked in his direction.
Sebastian huffed. “Daddy, that was just once, and it wasn’t my fault. I sleepwalked across the city.”
“You don’t sleepwalk,” Blake interjected. “Ever. You sleep like a dead starfish.”
John snorted because the kid was most definitely a sprawler. Avery nooted and started to wedge himself between Sebastian and Blake. “There was an inducement. The city won’t do it again.”
Blake frowned but focused his attention on the penguin who had successfully wiggled into Sebastian’s space, and the kid had picked him up. “Everyone on Earth thinks the whole emotional support penguin is a joke and that O’Neill is just playing along.”
Sebastian laughed. “Well. I mean he would but Avery’s real.” He offered the bird to Blake and John grinned when the man hesitated. “He doesn’t bite.”
“Penguins have a whole nightmare situation going on in the back of their mouths,” Blake said dryly.
“You mean the spines?” Sebastian questioned. “His mouth is too small to get even my hand down there. You’re safe.”
Blake took the penguin gingerly. “Uh.”
“He’ll grow on you,” Sebastian declared as he stood. “Daddy, can we give him a tour of the city?”
John bit down on his lip when Blake quickly put Avery down and stood. The man wiped his hands quickly on the slacks he was wearing and took a deep breath.
“Well, before that, you need to meet our other guest,” John said dryly. “He’s exhibiting an immense amount of patience right now, but we can’t expect that to last.” He jerked his head toward the inside of the apartment.
Sebastian’s gaze widened briefly, but he walked to the doors after Blake gave him an encouraging smile. Avery waddled quickly behind him. John followed the penguin and frowned slightly as he realized his father wasn’t in the living room.
“Wow, grandpa’s here?” Sebastian asked in shock.
“In the kitchen! Whoever made this coffee did a great job.”
Sebastian huffed and hurried into the kitchen. “Wow, Grandpa, you’re drinking Dr. McKay’s coffee.”
John laughed as his father merely raised one eyebrow at the kid. “Where is McKay?”
“On his way, he said he would come around to read what I’d found on the whole dissertation thing and that I should make him lots of coffee so he could fortify himself to read Kavanagh’s nonsense.”
Patrick set aside his coffee and focused on Sebastian. “I’m not sure I buy that whole not-a-hugger thing considered your display on the balcony.”
Sebastian grinned. “Okay, but don’t tell Uncle Matt. We’re trying to teach him not be so friendly since he’s pretty. I mean he could go off-world and cause some kind of incident or gets kidnapped by a space pirate.”
Patrick laughed and held out his arms and Sebastian made no show of hesitating his acceptance of the hug. “You look so much like your grandmother.” He pressed a kiss against Sebastian’s forehead and took a deep breath. “Just like your dad. My Amelia would be so pleased to meet you.”
“Grandma had blond hair.”
Patrick laughed. “Only when she dyed it.” He brushed a lock of hair from Sebastian’s forehead. “You should make McKay some more coffee before he gets here and realizes I poached it.”
– – – –
“Has O’Neill’s people found out who killed Karen?” John questioned.
Blake shook his head. “He’s got a whole team on it though, and they’re tracking a few people in the NID who are probably in the Trust. Your father is making some serious waves on that front he’s got many members of the Trust on the run. He’s ruined several financially already. Pretty soon most of the funds used to run the operation are going to be gone just based on his activities. O’Neill is letting him get away with a lot, but we have a good security team on him.” Blake looked out to where Sebastian was guiding Patrick around the small park. “It’s a nice space. Karen would’ve liked it.”
“He seemed happy with how it turned out,” John said neutrally. “I don’t…know what to say to you. It’s clear you were trying to make a family with Karen and Sebastian. That was destroyed because…”
“Don’t blame yourself,” Blake said shortly. “If you’d known about Sebastian, you’d have made certain that he and Karen were safe. There are security protocols in place for family members of the SGC. There are more now at least in the US. We’re trying to get our partners on board with expanding identity protection and security for the programs in various countries to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. It’s what brought me to Homeworld Security. It’s pretty much the only thing I can think to do to honor Karen.”
Avery bumped up against John’s leg, and he bent down to pick the penguin up.
Blake made a face.
“Not a big fan of animals?” John said in amusement. “Karen must have considered the worst thing about you.”
“She did, but she overlooked it,” Mason said. “He wanted a dog last year, but she talked him out of it because I’m allergic to them. I felt bad, so I bought him this little robot dog. He took it apart to see how it worked. I considered bringing it out here, but O’Neill said the last thing the kid needed was source parts for a robot of any sort.”
“Very true,” John said.
“I always knew,” Blake murmured.
“What?” John focused on him.
“He was going to ask to meet you, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to compete with you when it came to…” Blake sighed. “I just knew.”
“It doesn’t have to be a competition,” John said and shoved his hands into his pockets. “It’s not safe for him Earth right now but later…I wouldn’t be pissed if he wanted to visit you. I mean I’m not willing to share outright custody of hi, but I wouldn’t keep him from seeing you. He obviously cares about you a lot, and Sebastian’s already lost too much.”
“You surprise me.”
“Well, there’s no need to be predictable.”
Avery nooted in agreement.
“How much do you think he understands?” Blake questioned as he eyed the penguin.
“They’re empathic—an evolutionary response to being transplanted here from Earth with the city. The entire species exist in a symbiotic relationship with Atlantis, and as a result share some traits with the organic metal the city is made of.”
“O’Neill gave me a full briefing,” Blake said. “I’ll be drafting the agreement the member countries of the IOA will sign in regards to Theseus’ rights as a sapient alien entity. Many of them won’t have a clue what they’re really signing, but we’ve already decided to jettison those ethical questions in favor of protecting him. He’s probably the last of his entire species and deserves all the protection we can muster.”
“Daddy, I’m ready,” Sebastian announced as he picked up his violin case and the small urn he’d brought with them to the walk to the park. “Mason, let’s put mom’s ashes with her tree, okay?”
“Okay,” Mason murmured.
John looked over at the tree and checked his watch and started to activate his radio to call McKay only to have him exit from a hallway not far from them and stroll in their direction across the park.
“Where were you?”
“Botany,” Rodney admitted with a grimace. “Parrish needed some crystals replaced in a console, and I was coming out here anyway so I just…” He waved a hand.
John sat down on the bench and set Avery down in front of him. McKay and his father joined him as Blake opened the small urn with shaking hands. With a little nod from Sebastian, Blake gently spread the ashes around the base of the tree then picked up the bag of mulch that they’d snagged from botany which he used to cover up the ashes. He sat back on his heels and focused on Sebastian who was staring at the tree.
“It’s okay, Baz.”
“It’s not,” Sebastian said. “When does it stop hurting?”
“Never,” John murmured and his son focused on him. “It’ll always hurt but one day it’ll also…feel really good to remember things about her. Maybe years from now, you’ll walk past a woman wearing her perfume, and it’ll make you smile instead of cry. Grief doesn’t really ever end, it just grows and changes with you.”
“Mom smelled like vanilla and jasmine,” Sebastian murmured. “But I don’t know what the perfume was called.”
“She wore Red Jeans by Versace,” John supplied and glanced toward Blake who nodded. “She said it was her signature scent and vowed to riot if Versace ever stopped making it.”
Sebastian laughed, but it was a little sad. “She could’ve been a riot all on her own.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand but then went to his bag. He pulled out a packet of hand wipes and cleaned his hands. “I wanted to play at her funeral, but I was too upset. So I thought…I thought I could play tonight.” He used a hand towel from his bag to dry his hands then walked to the bench where he’d put down his violin.
John had never heart his son play. He’d talked about it with McKay who had said that they should let Sebastian play for them when he wanted to because music could be a very private thing. John hadn’t prodded that topic too much but had made a note to keep that in mind when it came to McKay. He knew the scientist played several instruments, but he never discussed music.
Sebastian handled the instrument confidently and comfortably which John figured spoke to practice and the mindset of a person who never, ever planned to sell the instrument in question. The ownership was clear from the way he tucked it under his chin and raised his arm bow in hand. He looked up over the park and just shook his head.
John glanced over his shoulder as Matt trotted through the park and dropped down on a bench beside Mason Blake.
“Sorry, we ran late,” Matt said breathlessly. “Also, I almost got kidnapped by an alien princess.”
“See,” Sebastian said and exchanged a look with his grandfather.
“I do,” Patrick said dryly. “What are you going to play?”
“Mom’s favorite song was Smile by Charlie Chaplin,” Sebastian explained.
He turned from them slightly and focused on the flowering tree they’d found on the mainland. John didn’t know the name of it, but it reminded him of a dogwood. Music seemed to pour out all at once from the nearly 300 year-old-instrument. John wasn’t at all surprised by his son’s talent or the sadness he was pouring into the music. Avery waddled over to him and pressed against the kid’s leg then started making a soft cooing sound that John had never heard come out of the bird before.
John swallowed hard and blinked back unexpected tears as McKay’s shoulder pressed against his.
“You okay?” McKay questioned softly.
John nodded and shifted closer to his friend and lover. “Yeah, everything’s perfect.”