- Science Fiction
His skin was tingling. It was the weirdest sensation he’d ever experienced. Sebastian shifted under his covers and took a deep breath. “I’m supposed to be asleep.”
His walls started to glow. Sebastian sighed and slid out of bed. The city was clearly not interested in being ignored. He walked across the hall to his Dad’s bedroom but found the bed empty.
“Daddy?” He walked toward the living room and found his dad pacing. “Something’s wrong.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I know.”
“My skin is tingling,” Sebastian confessed.
John nodded. “Mine, too.”
The walls in the living room started to glow. A sense of urgency settled on his mind, and he rushed forward to grab his dad’s hand. “Oh, we have to go.”
“Do you know where?”
“I…” Sebastian shook his head as they left the apartment. Briefly, he considered going back for shoes but the city wasn’t really cold, and socks would have to be good enough. “No, I don’t think so.”
He watched his dad reach out and touch the wall. His fingers trailed along the smooth surface as they walked. Then he lifted his hand away and activated his radio. “McKay, get up. We have a problem.”
Sebastian looked ahead, and the transporter door opened. “I think she wants us to use the transporter.”
“Yeah,” John said wearily. “Don’t touch anything, okay, buddy?”
“I won’t, Daddy.” He bit down on his lip as they entered the transporter. The control panel lit up and the transporter activated.
Sebastian hesitated as the doors opened and his dad stepped out first then pulled gently. “Where are we?”
“The control chair,” John said. He turned his radio again. “McKay, We’re about to enter the chair room. Is there some kind of problem with the ZPM?”
Sebastian took a deep breath as they entered the room. He’d read about the control chair and had asked to see it, but Dr. McKay had made it clear that was absolutely not going to happen because of his supergene. His dad released his hand and went to the chair.
“Should we wait for Dr. McKay?”
“I don’t think I can,” he said. “Stay close, okay? Don’t leave this room.”
“All right, Daddy,” Sebastian stepped back and rested against the wall.
John slid into the chair and his gaze flicked toward his son as the chair started to shift and turn. McKay was in his ear, rambling about power surges and the ZPM. The gist of the rambling was that the ZPM wasn’t responsible for the power surges. He pressed his fingers into the gel pads of the chair and closed his eyes as his mind sank into the city’s digital interface. Information rushed around him—urgent, fast, and incomprehensible.
“I think…” Sebastian trailed off, and John felt his son’s fingers glance over the top of his hand then slip down to thread between his fingers to touch the gel. “You need more access.”
John started to protest but the interface bloomed brightly in front of him, and the superstructure appeared in his mind’s eye. He’d never had such a broad reach before but he still wanted to tell his son to back away from the chair, but he was beyond speech. Sinking down into the city’s interface within the control chair wasn’t unlike being in a virtual reality. She was guiding him toward something—something significant and potentially dangerous. The city’s touch was gentle as ever but intense.
“John? Can you hear me?”
Rodney had arrived. Finally, it felt like an age since he’d woken up from a dead sleep filled with dread. He tried to open his eyes, but his lids were so heavy that he couldn’t. A crackle of light caught his attention, and he started to move toward it. It turned into a line, and he followed the path it made until he was in a place in the city he’d never been. The stardrive. The broken stardrive. The projected image of the stardrive darkened and started to flicker. John reached out and touched it. It lit up briefly then lifted up out of the cradle it was sitting in. It moved all the way up into the now opened ceiling.
Repair, he thought.
“John? Can you hear me?”
“Yeah,” he said roughly. “Rodney.”
“I’m going to pull Sebastian’s hand away from yours. Is that okay?”
“I think so, yes.” The small warmth of his son’s hand disappeared then a weight he hadn’t recognized lifted off his chest. Sebastian must have been in his lap. His connection with the interface remained vivid and open. “The stardrive is damaged—it’s causing power fluctuations.”
“Yeah, once we repaired the energy drain on the ZPM we realized it also restored power to several parts of the city that were previously without power including the stardrive. But there haven’t been any surges.” Rodney explained. “What have you done?”
“The city guided me to the stardrive, and I touched it.” John opened his eyes and focused on McKay. “It’s been removed for repair.”
“Repair?” Rodney questioned. “The city wants us to repair the stardrive?”
“No, she’ll do the repair,” John said and cleared his throat and closed his eyes. “Give me a minute.” He drifted back to the where the stardrive had been housed then went up to look at its new location. The stardrive was in sitting in the middle of a white room, and a black mass was swarming all over it. “Oh.”
“Oh?” Rodney prodded.
“How many nanites would have to be in a single place to be a visible mass like swarming bees?”
“Trillions upon trillions. Perhaps as many as a googolplex,” McKay said dully. “John? Do you see a nanite swarm?”
“I…maybe? They’re labeled as repair nanobots in the system. They’re all being directed by the city’s central computer program. They don’t appear to have any sort of autonomy.” The city reassured him in her own way that the repair lab was isolated and they wouldn’t be in danger of the bots. “She says it’s safe.”
“Okay, I need you out of that chair right now.”
John opened his eyes. “Why?”
“Because you’ve been in it for five hours,” McKay explained.
John looked around. “Where’s Sebastian?”
“He fell asleep in your lap after about an hour,” Rodney said. “I was afraid to remove him without your okay since I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on. He’s asleep on a gurney in the hall.”
John shifted forward, and the chair lifted up then spun around so he could leave it. He went weak in the knees, and McKay caught him. “The stardrive almost exploded.”
“I took note of that,” Rodney said grimly. “Congratulations, you saved the city. You’re both going to the infirmary.”
“Okay, but I want Biro to take care of us,” John murmured.
“I’ll make sure,” Rodney said.
“Don’t let them take any of his blood and no injections,” John continued. “Unless you’re there to verify what he’s being given.”
– – – –
John woke to the sound of his son laughing. He turned his head and found Sebastian sitting up in an infirmary bed playing some sort of game with Teyla on a tray table. They were in an isolation room.
“Having another argument with Dr. Beckett,” Sebastian said and shrugged. “How do you feel, Daddy?”
“Tired, thirsty.” John pressed the button on the side of the bed to raise up the head. “You?”
“Fine,” Sebastian shrugged. “You did all the work. Dr. Beckett wants to take blood samples from me and tried to get around Dr. McKay to do it. He tried to argue and say that Dr. McKay didn’t have the authority to prevent it. And he tried to ask me if I would give him blood. I told him no. Dr. Weir said that Dr. McKay is our next of kin.”
“Yeah, in case I’m not capable of making decisions for whatever reason,” John admitted as Teyla put a glass of water on his own tray table. “Where’s Ronon?”
“Standing next to Rodney so he can glare more efficiently at Carson,” Teyla reported. “He was very put out by the fact that Biro is your family doctor of record. Apparently, he didn’t notice you’d made that change shortly after Sebastian’s arrival.”
John frowned. “Beckett wanted to use Sebastian’s gene for more ATA gene research. I declined, and I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t have any sort of legitimate access to him.”
The door opened, and McKay entered. “Good, you’re awake. You can argue with the witch doctor.”
“I’m not arguing with anyone,” John said flatly and just raised an eyebrow when Beckett entered. “I already told you that you aren’t allowed to take my kid’s blood for any single reason. I don’t appreciate you using this situation to circumvent my parental authority.”
“You’re being unreasonable and considering what happened last night, we need to know more about his gene.”
“No,” John said flatly. “End of discussion. You can go.”
Rodney just shrugged when Beckett glanced his way then left the room with a glare toward John.
“I’m a 100% done with him.” John focused on Elizabeth who was standing in the doorway. “I mean it.”
She nodded. “I’ll take care of it.” The door shut as she walked away and John slouched back against his pillow.
“Put your scary face away,” Rodney said. “You’re freaking the kid out.”
“I’m fine,’ Sebastian said with a laugh.
“Fine, you’re freaking me out,” McKay corrected.
“Can we get out of here?” John asked.
“Dr. Biro said you were both just sleeping normally and could go back to your quarters once you woke on your own,” Teyla said.
– – – –
John threw his feet up on the coffee table and used his spoon to move his Fruit Loops around in the bowl.
“Dr. Beckett isn’t a very good scientist,” Sebastian said as he stared at his own cereal. “I mean, he’s got some terrible ethics. I’m not legally allowed to make any sort of decisions about being involved in a medical experiment, and he just didn’t care at all. Plus, he tried to ignore Dr. McKay. He does that a lot I think, which is rude and terrible since Dr. McKay is in charge of all the research on the city so he shouldn’t be ignoring him on that kind of thing.”
“From now on, when it comes to the city and our connection with it—you’re not to talk to anyone but Dr. McKay about it, okay?”
“Not even Dr. Kusanagi?”
“I…no. Just McKay,” John said, and his stomach knotted slightly. “It’s not that I don’t trust Miko—it’s just that I trust Rodney the most, okay?”
“What happened when we were in the chair?”
“The city guided me to the stardrive so I could unlock it and have it repaired,” John explained. “After you found that panel you found was repaired, it restored power to various parts of the city including the stardrive.”
“Is…” Sebastian trailed off and frowned. “I think she’s alive, Daddy.”
“I think so, too,” John murmured.
“We shouldn’t talk about that, though.” He shoved a spoonful of cereal into his mouth.
“No, let’s keep that to ourselves for a while.” John cleared his throat. “Let’s get dressed, and we’ll go see if your emotional support penguin is around.”
“Awesome,” Sebastian said. “Are you off today?”
“Dr. Weir gave me two days off and suggested I give you a break as well,” John said. “How about some rollerblading? We can check out the city park and start making a list of things we need.”
Sebastian hurriedly finished the last of his cereal and hopped up. “Yes, all of that!” He trotted into the kitchen then made a beeline for his room.
John left the sofa to take care of his own bowl then went to rummage in his closet for his skates. He hadn’t worn them in ages but had purchased the kid a pair before they’d returned to the city when he’d found it he could skate but didn’t have his own. A few minutes later they were racing down pier six.
“She feels new,” Sebastian said as he caught his dad’s hand. “Renewed, maybe.”
“Fresh,” John supplied. “Like she’s shaking loose the cobwebs and…” He looked back over the towers. “Waking up.”
“Yeah,” Sebastian agreed. “Is that a good thing?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted honestly. “I don’t think it’s necessarily bad, but some people wouldn’t be thrilled with such a development. Many on Earth are more interested in controlling the city as a resource than anything else. To find out that she’s capable of independent thinking would make them uncomfortable.”
Sebastian frowned. “You won’t let them hurt her, right?”
“I’ll do everything I can to keep the city safe,” John said. “But I’m not superhuman here.”
“But neither of us are all human either,” Sebastian said. “You have a little extra going on now because of the Iratus thing.” He flushed when John focused on him. “I overheard Dr. Kavanagh telling someone in the mess that you should’ve been removed from the city and sequestered at Area 51 for study. He said you’re a monster on the inside, even now, because of the Iratus because Beckett did a hack job of getting all of the genetic manipulations out of your body.”
John felt the blood drain from his face. “I…”
Sebastian smiled and squeezed his hand. “It’s okay, Daddy.” He pulled him toward a small docking platform. “I’m not afraid of you or anything. Let’s sit—Avery will come when he realizes I’m here.”
John sat down beside his son and clunked his skates gently against the side of the pier. “I think we can lower the platform on this.” He ran his hand along the front, and a control panel flicked open. He pressed the button and the docking platform slide out from the side of the pier and lowered until they were almost at sea level.
“Cool.” Sebastian patted the water. “Hmmm, what about the shark things from the other side of the city?”
“Part of the reason your penguin is on this side of the city is that there is an emitter underneath that sends out a pulse that aggravates the sharks. They won’t come within three miles of this area as a result. McKay thinks the Ancients probably used this area for recreation and kept predators out of the water.” John cleared his throat. “About the bug thing…have you seen what I turned in to?”
“No, all those files are locked in the infirmary,” Sebastian’s cheeks pinkened. “And since I avoid that place as much as possible because of Beckett, I don’t have any lessons in there. Dr. Biro offered to be my tutor on human anatomy which is on my schedule for next quarter, but we’ll meet in the mess in the mornings on her days off.”
John figured he owed half the city a lot of various chocolate and caffeine products. “I didn’t turn into a bug, but I did…take on a lot of characteristics of the Iratus because of the retrovirus I was exposed to. And Kavanagh was right about there being a lot left in me but I…”
“You think Beckett did it on purpose to see what the results would be?” Sebastian suggested.
“I wish you weren’t so smart sometimes,” John said roughly and grinned when the kid laughed. “I’d never hurt you. I promise.”
“I know,” Sebastian said and smiled. “I did read about the Iratus. They’re actually very protective of their nests and offspring. The Wraith are also pretty militant about their nest world and their breeding queens, so I have to think on some instinctual level that you regard me as your offspring. Which is why you’re so aggressive with Dr. Beckett and his interest in my gene. When really giving him access to my ATA gene wouldn’t be all that different than giving him access to yours. I think we have the same gene I’m just younger, and my mind is more open to Ancient technology because…well…adults are kind of jaded.”
John blew out a surprised breath then laughed. “Right.”
Sebastian patted the water again, and Avery popped up. The penguin made an excited little thrilling sound and hopped right up on the platform then into Sebastian’s lap where he rubbed himself all over the kid’s chest. “Ugh, you’re getting me wet!”
John laughed. “You’re the one that thought he wanted an alien waterfowl for a pet. He’s cute.” He leaned back on his hands and watched Avery sprawl across Sebastian’s legs. Apparently, the kid wasn’t the only one eager for companionship. “Biology says he doesn’t have a family group.”
“I don’t think…” Sebastian glanced down briefly. “Hmmm, he’s about half the size of the others, but he’s clearly an adult so I think he might have some form of dwarfism. I meant to ask Dr. Taylor about it, but I got distracted. He looks like a little penguin from Earth, and they’re small like this, but the others are probably twice his size—which still isn’t all that big by Earth standards. They don’t pick on him though, and I’ve seen some of the older penguins helping him get food when biology feeds them the fish scraps from the mess.”
“I emailed Dr. Taylor asking about his needs. If we have to fish for him—you’re gonna have to get tips from O’Neill cause I’ve never fished in my life.”
Sebastian laughed. “Maybe I’ll ask him to come to visit us and teach me.”
John figured the general would be more than willing to take a fishing trip to Pegasus. The idea was amusing, so he was going to encourage it.
“I really get to keep him?”
“As long as he doesn’t…listen, if he doesn’t thrive and it becomes a problem you have to be willing to let him go so he lives the best life he can. He clearly wants to be with you, but there may come a time when he wants to return to the wild.”
“Don’t worry, Daddy, I wouldn’t keep him against his will. My mom would be really disappointed in me if I did something like that.”
The sound of skates on the pier caught his attention, and he looked up to see Rodney rolling their way.
“Caught him?” McKay asked as he sat down on the top part of the pier and dropped down to their level with more grace that John would’ve thought him capable of.
“He came right over and crawled in my lap,” Sebastian said proudly. “I didn’t know you could skate.”
Rodney frowned at him. “I’m Canadian. I grew up on skates of all kinds but mostly ice skates. Rollerblades are just a less dangerous version of those.” He sat down beside John and raised an eyebrow at the penguin. “I guess we’ll need to build him some kind of bed or something. Maybe a little miniature version of the tents the Athosians prefer.”
“Maybe,” Sebastian said as he rubbed Avery’s head. “Can you fish?”
Rodney made a face. “No, but you could probably talk Chief Cooper into giving you a small allotment from the city nets or from the scraps before the rest is given to the big colony.”
“I’ll ask,” Sebastian said. “I heard in the infirmary that you and Dr. Brown broke up. Do you need emotional support?”
John laughed a little when the kid gamely offered Avery to McKay.
McKay sighed, but he took the penguin who made a little nooting noise and rubbed his beak on Rodney’s chin. “Weird.”
“I thought he’d smell fishyish,” McKay admitted and laughed when Avery flipped his little wings. “He just smells like salt water.”
“I’m not mad about that,” John said wryly. The whole city pretty much smelled like salt water, so they’d grown very accustomed to that smell.
“He’s a little lighter than I thought,” Rodney said.
“Yeah, I was thinking about three pounds, but he’s less than that. I’ll ask Dr. Taylor to weigh him when we have our check-up,” Sebastian explained.
“Probably a little under two,” McKay said and set Avery down.
The penguin nudged under John’s knee, so he lifted his leg, and the animal wiggled under and flopped across his thigh with a chuff. John snorted and patted his back.
– – – –
John leaned on the doorframe of his son’s room and sighed. They’d made a temporary nest for Avery, but the penguin was currently snuggled under the covers with Sebastian, using his kid for a pillow. Taylor in biology had ruled him healthy, disease free, and certainly a dwarf of his species. Lifespan unknown, 1.9 pounds officially, and he’d suggested they take him back to the pier to hunt for his own food every day to keep his skills in the water up with the rest of his species.
John inclined his head toward Sebastian. “Avery skipped the nest and is using my kid as a pillow.”
Rodney sighed. “Here’s hoping the animal instinctually knows better than to foul it’s own nest.”
John grimaced. “Ugh.” He was entirely sure he hadn’t signed up for penguin shit.
They left the doorway and went back into the living room.
“Thanks for letting me hang out today,” McKay said.
John frowned at him. “You’re always welcome.”
“Katie said…well, she said a few weeks back that I should let the two of you be a family and that I spent too much time with the both of you.”
“Back that co-parenting thing, right?” John said and dropped down on the couch. “Look McKay, Katie Brown doesn’t know me at all. She’s probably said less than thirty words to me ever. She’s nice enough, I suppose, but her relationship skills aren’t great at all. And I have to say her inability to reason out why Sebastian is uncomfortable with her certainly doesn’t add points to her social IQ as far as I’m concerned. You’re my best friend, and I know we had a few rocky months before the kid came along, but nothing is going to change that.” He patted the couch. “Sit before you start to pace.”
Rodney frowned at him but sat. “I don’t want to intrude. I know you’re still working on building a relationship with him and that’s going to take time.”
“Yeah, we’re still building something but he kind of latched onto me like a duck the moment he set eyes on me. So I’m not jealous or whatever about how much he truly loves to be around you. McKay Day is single favorite thing ever, and I include the emotional support penguin in that. You give him the kind of mental challenge I’d be hard-pressed to do on my own.”
“You’re smart,” Rodney said. “Smarter than you let on.”
“Yeah, but not smart like you or him and I don’t have a problem with that. He needs the kind of stimulation you provide just in everyday conversation.” John turned so he could face McKay. “What’s on your brain besides Brown’s bullshit advice? You ready to talk about your feelings?”
“No, and how dare you ask,” Rodney muttered peevishly. “Fatherhood has been good for you, but it’s also made you weirdly nurturing. I don’t need nurturing.”
John laughed and let his arm fall along the back of the couch then he rested his chin there. “I don’t buy that for a minute.”
Rodney glanced his way then huffed. “It’s not like I’m having some kind of emotional crisis. Didn’t you just ever realize you had some feelings that you hadn’t accounted for?”
John hummed under his breath. “I developed an unexpected crush on one of my instructors at OTS. I was married so, of course, I’d have never acted on it. He was actually a real bastard, and I’d never been all that interested in that sort before that. We crossed paths at McMurdo. I was surprised to see him in the field, but he said he’d gotten bored with teaching which I guess I get, but there was no explaining his interest in serving way the hell out there. With his time in rank and experience, it had to be because he requested it. Regardless, it was kind of a relief to realize I’d gotten over my crush.”
John grinned. “I still climbed him like a tree because he was gorgeous and I was single. It was the best ride I’d had in years. When O’Neill transferred me out, General Corwin offered to interfere to keep me on the base and, frankly, in his bed.”
“You really should be ashamed for banging your superior officer,” Rodney muttered.
“Not even on a bet,” John said with a laugh. “He retired last year. He sent me his address and let me know I was welcome to visit whenever I was available.”
Rodney glared at him. “From now on, you should engage in proper relationships to set an example for your kid.”
John sighed. “That reminds me, I’m going to have to talk to him about the whole gay thing.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “At least thanks to Kavanagh I don’t have to come out of the bug closet. Apparently, he heard all about the Iratus incident already thanks to him.”
“I’m going to transfer that asshole to the Icarus Base,” Rodney said darkly. “Carter says it’s the worst assignment in the whole program because Rush is running it. Was Sebastian upset?”
“If he was, he processed it before he talked to me about it,” John said roughly. “We’re good on that front at least. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with the gay thing, but I really don’t know how he’s going to approach his whole matchmaking thing with that in play.”
Rodney snorted. “Well, he’s really fond of David Parrish. Fortunately for you, he’s in a relationship, or you’d be getting a lot of set-ups thrown that way.”
“I’m really curious about your feelings.”
“Shut up,” Rodney said crossly. “I never should’ve said anything at all. I was blindsided by stress and the trauma of being covered in your blood. You’re always getting your blood everywhere! Ronon was decent enough to keep his blood to himself.”
“He still had the arrow in his leg when we came through the gate,” John protested and laughed when Rodney just huffed dramatically. “Sorry I got blood all over you then.”
“You should be,” Rodney said and sighed. “I want…”
“What?” John questioned quietly. “Come on, buddy, talk to me. You’re being weird, even for you.”
McKay rubbed his face with both hands briskly then shifted slightly so he could face John full on. “You said I was your best friend and nothing would change that. Did you mean it?”
“Yeah, of course, I did. We got past blowing up a solar system, right?”
“Three-fourths,” Rodney corrected out of habit and took a deep breath. “I thought I had that under control. I’d never risked your life on purpose.”
“I know that, Rodney. Everyone agreed the risk was worth it,” John murmured. “Plus Carter said it wasn’t your fault, remember?”
Rodney nodded then leaned forward and very carefully brushed his mouth against John’s. It was so startling that for a very brief moment, John’s brain kind of went blank on him then he moved into the kiss because McKay was shaking and the desire to reassure him was almost as strong as the sexual want that was snaking down John’s back. He curled one hand around the back of McKay’s neck and stroked his tongue gently into the other man’s mouth. Rodney groaned softly into his mouth.
“Daddy! I think Avery needs to go to the bathroom….Woah.”
They sprung apart like they’d been struck and John stood abruptly from the couch. “Hey buddy, hmmm.”
Sebastian blew out a surprised breath then raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think kissing is in the approved methods of emotional support, Daddy.”
John flushed and laughed.
“I’ll just be going,” Rodney announced loudly and practically darted out of their quarters before either Sheppard could say anything.
“I…” John took a deep breath.
Avery waddled down the wall at that point and nooted at them indignantly then walked into the bathroom.
John hurried in that direction because he had no idea what the penguin thought it was doing. Sebastian followed along. They both arrived just in time to watch a little bowl form in the floor. Avery waddled right into it to do his business. John stared in shock and glanced toward Sebastian who was looking as perplexed as he felt.
“How old did biology say he was again?” John asked.
“They just said he was a young adult,” Sebastian said. “But…how’d he know to do that?”
The bowl closed as Avery left it and they watched him waddle right out of the bathroom and back into Sebastian’s room.
“The more important question is why did the city meet his need?” John said.
“Do you think he has the ATA gene?” Sebastian blew out a breath. “Man, Ancients are weird.” He rocked a little on his feet. “So…hmmm…bisexual?”
“Gay,” John muttered.
“But you got married, and there was mom…” Sebastian frowned. “Gah, Dad, how long were you in the closet?”
“I still technically am because of DADT,” John pointed out. “But I tried to play it straight for a long time. Longer than was healthy at least. Your mom was the last woman I was involved with in that way.”
Sebastian nodded. “And Dr. McKay?”
“Buddy…” John exhaled sharply. “I got no idea. That came out of nowhere.”
“So he dumped Dr. Brown for you,” Sebastian summed up then shook his head. “You homewrecker.”
John snorted. “They weren’t even living together.”
“At least Avery didn’t see it—he’s probably too young for those kinds of shenanigans.” Sebastian flicked a hand. “Thanks for the assist, Atlantis.”
John watched his son go back into his room, help the penguin back onto the bed and snuggle down his covers. “You’re okay with the…gay thing.”
Sebastian sent him a dirty look. “Of course, Daddy, I’m not some maladjusted homophobic moron.”
John laughed. “Go to sleep.”
He walked back into the living room to gather up the dishes they’d used and left behind earlier in the evening and went into the kitchen. He activated his radio to his private channel with McKay.
John laughed. “The kid’s assured me he’s not a maladjusted homophobic moron.”
“The city made Avery a potty in the bathroom floor,” John said. “Then closed it when he was done.”
Rodney sputtered, and John laughed.
“You cool?” Rodney questioned.
John hated how uncertain McKay sounded in that moment. “We’re both cool. I promise. You didn’t have to run off.”
“Yes, well, I didn’t want to be in the way if he had…a strong reaction. Kids can be unpredictable, even smart ones. Probably, honestly, most especially smart ones.” Rodney paused. “I liked it.”
John leaned against the counter with a smile. “I did, too.”