Once upon a time, in many great forests that cover many, many worlds, stood the ancient and mysterious Great Rings of the Ancestors.  The Great Rings sat with their feet set firm in the mossy forest floor and their cold naquadah arches stretching up to the heavens, looking like stone portals between what was, what is and what is yet to be.

Near the Greatest of all the Great Rings,  in the City of the Ancestors itself, lived a group of explorers and adventurers who had come there from a galaxy far, far away.  Among them were their leader, Dr Elizabeth Weir, a poor astrophysicist and scientist called Radek, and their two boys, John and Rodney. 

John and Rodney (who was really Radek's boss) weren't their children, you understand.  Except when they acted like it.  Which was about once an hour. 

And it didn't matter if you meant Earth hours or Atlantean hours.  Once. An. Hour.

At least.

 

 

Radek admired Elizabeth.  The day that Rodney found out that Radek had a terrible and irredeemable crush on their leader, he sat at his laptop sniggering, hacking into Elizabeth’s email account and using it to send Radek messages full of little heart signs like this:  


“Pretty naked lady with heart wasn’t so bad,” said Radek.  “But this, Rodney, shows you are sick, sick man.  I shall have to kill you.  Also, you are twelve-year old girl.”

Poor Radek pined in (relative) secret—he knew Rodney wouldn’t betray him—as he just wasn't bold enough to approach Elizabeth and suggest that they had a few little Czechs of their own sometime. 

Besides, she’d likely say no.  They were too busy bringing up John and Rodney.

 

 

 

 

 

Even though they’d re-established contact with Earth, the explorers were often on short rations ("No, Rodney!  No more coffee!  You must learn to share.") and erratic power supplies, and often the power conduits failed them altogether.  This halted Rodney’s Very Important Work, especially his hobby of developing time-space continuum engines for the little Puddlejumpers that John loved so much.  And when that happened, John pouted and the Great City of the Ancestors dimmed (Atlantis was, said Rodney, sooooo similar to every Ancient Ascended Woman in wanting to get into Colonel Sheppard's pants that it was spooky and, he thought, genetic) and Rodney shouted and reddened and waved his hands around in outraged anger.

Radek said that he preferred not to think about why Rodney was so angry that John was pouting.  He said that there were some things children really should not tell their parents.  Really. Not. Tell.

And, since they still hadn’t found any more magic ZPMs, Radek would pull miracles out of his brilliant Czech backside and resolve power distribution problems so that Rodney could finish up improving the Puddlejumpers, and John would stop pouting and fondling the gun in his thigh holster.

Although Radek didn’t think that Rodney really wanted John to stop fondling his thigh holster.  Radek was a scientist, after all.  He noticed things.  He made hypotheses based on the scientific evidence and then tested them using experiment and measurement and observation, and different coloured pens for different variants.  He plotted the frequency and duration of times Rodney had stared at the Colonel, mouth open and eyes wide, and was compiling the evidence, cross-referencing his observations and findings against the weather, wind-direction and the availability of blue jello in the Mess.  He told Rodney that as soon as he had enough experimentally-acquired data, he was going to convert it all into a graph. Or maybe a pie chart; with extra symbols for the days there was drool.

Unless, he said, Rodney gave him the weekend off.

Rodney pointed out that a bar chart would be simpler for Radek’s uninformed and uninspired brain to deal with, and at least the bar would give him (Radek) something to rest the moonshine on that he (Radek) was manufacturing in a still out in that secret room on the East Pier.  It smelled like used hyperdrive fuel and old socks, he (Rodney) said, and if Elizabeth found out...

"Maybe Colonel Sheppard's old socks," scoffed Radek.  "Man never wears any."

"Mmn," said Rodney, staring at the Colonel's bare ankles.

"Hah!  Drool,” said Radek.  “I win."  But he took the graph away and only took one day off.

He was a kind parent.

 

 

Lt Colonel John Sheppard was military commander of their expedition, spending all his time playing at toy soldiers and having adventures.  He had a Gate Team, all of his own.  The staff in the control centre controlled the betting over how long it would be each time before John’s team got into trouble.  After all, the first time Elizabeth had sent John out to find some new friends to play with, he'd ended up shooting the previous military commander, waking up a scary, scary Bad Fairy Wraith Queen and bringing home the Pretty Princess Teyla of Athosia, and all her people, for an unscheduled sleepover in Atlantis.

Well, maybe that last bit wasn't so bad.  Princess Teyla was very helpful and grateful, and, more to the point, very pretty.  Not as pretty as John, maybe, and the Ancestors City didn't light up for her the way it lit up for John, but everyone said she was prettier than Rodney.

John didn’t seem to notice.

 

 

Rodney was on John’s Gate Team, naturally.  John  always took Rodney with him, which the other expedition members thought was rather a bonus; and he took Teyla, which the other expedition members thought was rather a shame. 

Whenever they got short of rations, Elizabeth sent John and his team out  looking for more new friends.  And over the last couple of years, sometimes they came home full of hope that they’d found some ("They're nice, friendly Amish, Elizabeth.  Sure we can give them some C4.  They just want to blow up tree stumps, or something.") and sometimes they didn’t ("Well, how were we to know that they were Taliban, not Amish?  At least Rodney didn't really build them an atomic bomb."); and sometimes they came home without people ("Ford's out there, somewhere.  I'll find him.") and sometimes they came home with new people ("His name's Ronon, Elizabeth.  Just look at his gun!  Can we keep him?  Huh?").

The mission reports showed that like most kids they couldn't really be trusted when they got out of sight and were out in the big bad world beyond the city.  They forgot about the evil things that lived in the forests and lay in wait for straying children.  They forgot the time, playing with their new friends and squabbling over that energy signature, or this Ancient warcraft or that Ancient Ascended Woman with her hands on/in* John's BDUs (* delete as appropriate/inappropriate).  And they got lost a lot and had to have their minder, Major Lorne, sent after them nearly every time. 

Rodney said that it was John’s fault that they got lost so much.  He said that John's hair (which was very, very pretty, although Rodney would never admit it) interfered with the ability of John's brain (such as it was, said Rodney) to map their spatial co-ordinates.  John just pouted. 

John was very good at pouting.  And lounging.  And shooting things and blowing other things up.  And keeping his hair alert and ready for action.

He was less good at following orders and keeping his BDUs up over his skinny, skinny hips where they kept slithering down and showing a sliver of warm, sun-kissed skin across John’s back or John’s stomach (depending on which side you were looking at) and, sometimes, the top of John’s all-too-loose shorts underneath.  Rodney often went over his drool quotient for the day when John’s BDUs slipped south.

 

 

Rumour had it that Elizabeth had been heard to say that if they didn't come back, her life would be easier and less careworn, and she'd have less trouble with Colonel Caldwell who did nothing but complain about the noise the children were making and keep them off my lawn, why don’t you? 

It has to be said that sometimes Elizabeth was less diplomatic earth-mother and more sort of scary step-mother. 

 

 

John’s team always came back, Rodney said, because Rodney was the smartest man in two galaxies. Between Rodney being Genius Here and John being very brave (and, really, quite smart himself), Teyla being polite and  Ronon shooting the big gun John liked so much, they always got back home again.  Sometimes Colonel Caldwell was sent to help, but that made him even grumpier and really, said John, they didn’t need him.

"No sweat.  We followed the white pebbles back to the Stargate," said John.

Rodney snorted.  "They were twelve foot high monoliths, Colonel.  Even your hair follicles couldn't miss them."

Elizabeth’s eye twitched. "I wonder why the people there—"

"The Malonin.  A very nice, spiritual people," said Princess Teyla.  “My people have traded with them for generations.”

"Yes," said Elizabeth, her eye twitching faster.  "You often say that.  I wonder why they built the monoliths.  Do you know, Rodney?"

"Me?  Do I look like Daniel Jackson?"

"Not so much," said John.  "Less hair."

 

 

And then, one day…

As ever, the Stargate opened onto a big forest—“Oh, look!  Trees!” said Rodney— and John led the way deeper into the forest, where they had never been in their lives been before.  Not even Teyla had been there and not even Teyla could remember the Athosians trading with the people who lived in the village in the forest.

“Athosians are allergic to nuts,” she said.

Which explained why dealing with John and Rodney brought on her headaches.

When night came, the villagers made a great fire and the Atlanteans sat around it until it was dark night, and John argued with Rodney about whether they should wait until the moon rose to show them their way home again.  When the moon came and the villagers got very, very restless, they set out for home, running as fast as they could. 

“I’m allergic to spears,” panted Rodney.

“Shut up and run!”

“Oh, yes, abuse the genius.  It wasn’t me that just got married to the village headman’s pre-pubescent daughter!”

“I never see it coming,” said John, and sent Ronon and Teyla one way, while he and Rodney went another.

To confuse the villagers, he said.

But they couldn’t find the Stargate.  They walked the whole night (the villagers gave up after a couple of miles) and all the next day too from morning till evening, but they couldn’t get out of the forest. 

“Huh!  Hair!” said Rodney, staring grimly at John’s.  “Let’s hope Conan and the Warrior Princess get help.”

“But I’m sure the Gate’s this way,” said John.

They were pretty hungry, for they had nothing to eat but two or three berries, which grew on the ground (Rodney was saving his power bars for later to stave off incipient hypoglycaemia).  And then they came upon a strange place, a huge place that was buried half in the ground and covered in trees.

“But where isn’t covered in trees?” demanded Rodney.
Suddenly a door opened, and a woman as old as the hills came creeping out with all her sons around her, and each and every one of her  sons was whitey-blond and tall and terrible, and had bad teeth because there was a distinct lack of orthodontists in the Pegasus Galaxy.

“Oh shit!” said John. 

But Rodney’s genius and John’s P90 weren’t enough to stop the woman’s sons from taking John and Rodney to her. 

 The woman nodded her head, and said, "Oh,  who has brought you here?  Thank you, Michael!”  And to John and Rodney, she said: “Do come in, and stay with me.”

She and her sons were very persuasive  and insisted on John and Rodney staying for the night because the forest was so dangerous. 

“Do you think they’ll give us something to eat?” whispered Rodney, seeing all the good food set out on the table in the woman’s room.  There was  milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts.

But the  woman had only pretended to be so kind; she was in reality a wicked witch, another Wraith Queen who lay in wait for humans.  When a human fell into her power, she killed it and ate it, and that was a feast day with her. Witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but they have a keen scent like the beasts, and are aware when human beings draw near.

The Wraith Queen laughed, seized John and wrapped him up into a cocoon, but Rodney she had brought before her throne.  She had the contents of their packs spread out before her.

“Lantean,” she said, and Rodney shook a little with fright.  “Unmistakably Lantean.  But you are no warrior.”

“Scientist, here,” said Rodney, wondering if she wasn’t hungry, or something.  Maybe not.  There was a guy sitting at the table who looked like she’d just eaten.

She smiled.  “Then you will help us repair our ship.  The other is to be made fat.”

Rodney snorted, grateful that he wasn’t going to be dessert.  “Good luck with making Colonel My Body is a Temple, fat.  He claims he just has a fast metabolism, but I reckon he doesn’t eat enough—”

“And when he is fat, I will eat him."

“Oh,” said Rodney, and thought about weeping bitterly, but it was all in vain, for he was forced to do what the wicked witch commanded.

And while the best food was cooked for poor John, Rodney got very little to eat and had to work hard to help the Wraith repair their ship.  Every little while, the Wraith Queen went to the storage cocoon, and cried: "John, stretch out your finger that I may feel if you will soon be fat." 

But John had found a reminder of a previous occupant of the storage cocoon (the Wraith were really very poor housekeepers) and stretched out a little bone to her.  And because the Wraith Queen’s red eyes were dim, she thought it was John’s finger, and was astonished that there was no way of fattening him.

“Anorexic,” scoffed Rodney, passing by the storage cocoon as he did often on his way about the ship doing work for the Wraith.

“Get me the hell out of here,” said John, every time.

“Busy,  here!”

But at last the Wraith Queen wouldn’t wait any longer.  “All living things must eat,” she said.  “And our feeding grounds grow thin.  I will feast upon him now.”

“Right,” said Rodney.  “You might want to see this first.  I’ve just finished this incredible upgrade here that will get your hive ship airborne.  I’ve upgraded you to VF/FCUK-U2 engines, each one powered by three oscillation overthrusters with extra Banzai Institute flanges for a more even power distribution at middle speeds.  I’ve added several external wing stations for an assortment of space-to-space and space-to-ground laser missiles, and two nacelle fuselage stations for  the McKay Forward-Looking Sensor Array (FliSA) pods and a centre station for fuel tank or space-to-ground weapons such as those nifty laser guided bombs you people like.  This means your ship is now missionised for traditional attack, culling, multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance and close space support roles through selection of external pods to accomplish specific mission objectives—”

?????

“It’ll go faster and make more noise,” said Rodney. 

“Show me,” said the Wraith Queen, hungrily.

“Sure thing.  Can I?”  And Rodney pointed to the console beside her throne.  “Thank you and—” He pressed the right button “—goodnight.”

The Wraith Queen began to howl, quite horribly, as the special only-affects-Wraith gas (TM) that Rodney had very cleverly created and installed right in front of their noses, hissed and seeped throughout the ship.  All her tall, dentally-challenged sons screamed, just as horribly, as they staggered and fell to the decks, unconscious.

“That should keep them quiet for a while,” said Rodney, and set the self-destruct.  He ran like lightning to John and opened his cocoon.  “Genius here!  I saved us!  Come on.  We only have half an hour before this place blows!  We’ll have to run for it.” 

John leapt out.  How they rejoiced and embraced each other, and danced about and kissed each other!  

Whoo-hooo! thought Rodney.  At last!

“Oh man,” said John, getting his hand into Rodney’s BDUs.  “Rodney—”

“Uhhhhh,” said the man with the biggest brain in two galaxies.   “No time!  No time!  Come on.” 

And Rodney regretfully pulled John’s hand out of where it was nice and warm and rubbing him so nicely, and held it tightly  as they ran from the great hive ship, passing hundreds of unconscious Wraith on the way. 

“I am sooo smart,” he crowed.  “They’ll stay unconscious for hours and hours, and be blown to bits when the ship goes up.”

“Seems a shame that they won’t feel a thing,” said John, who was a little unforgiving at times.  Rodney thought that John’s military training had probably coarsened some of his sensibilities.

“Rodney!” shrieked the Wraith Queen,  when they were running through her chamber.  “Rodney!”


“Looks like the gas doesn’t affect the queens.  I hate queens,” said John, and he dropped Rodney’s hand, snatched up a Wraith stunner and ran at the Queen, jabbing it straight into her body just below the rib cage, angling back and up.  “That has to kill you,” he said.

“You’ve done that before,” said Rodney, critically.

“Hey, you got a successful move, you use it,” said John, and they were away.  “How far should we go to get out of range?”

“A fair distance.”

“And by ‘fair’, you mean, ‘far’?”

“And by ‘distance’, I mean ‘run for your life’.”

 

 

Major Lorne was waiting for them just outside the Hive ship.

“Dr Weir sent us when Teyla and Ronon got back and told us what had happened,” he said, rematerialising the Puddlejumper and beckoning them inside.  “We spotted the Hive ship on our scanners when we came through the Gate and we were just sitting here figuring on how to get in to rescue you.”

“I thought we should blow it up,” said Ronon.

Teyla just smiled, touching her forehead to John’s and Rodney’s in the traditional Athosian greeting.  “I am glad to see you both unharmed.”

Surprised, too, but she didn’t say so.  The Athosians were a very polite people.

John grinned at them and took the controls, getting the little Puddlejumper as far away as possible before the Hive ship blew.  “Nice, Major.  How did you know we were in there?”

Lorne stared.  He waved a hand from John to the Hive ship.  “You.  Hive ship.  Hive ship.  You.”  He paused and shrugged.  “Sir,” he added, respectfully.

Behind them the Hive ship exploded into the fire of a thousand suns.

“I must have set the oscillators a bit high,” said Rodney.  “Shame, that.”

 

 

Back on Atlantis ,  Elizabeth and Radek were both waiting for their wandering boys and it was quite some time before the celebrations stopped and John and Rodney were able to creep away to John’s room.

“Hey,” said John.  “We made it.  We’re home.”

“Nothing gets past you, Colonel,” said Rodney.  “So.  You kissed me.  When I saved you.  You kissed me.”

“I’ve always wanted to kiss you,” said John.

“With tongue,” said Rodney.

“Yeah,” said John, smug.  “Tongue.”

“And you shoved your hand in my pants.”

“I’ve always wanted to do that, too,” said John.  “Is there a problem?”

“It wasn’t as good as I was expecting, that’s all.”

“I was in a hurry,” protested John.  “You were blowing things up again.”

“I saved your miserable life!  And for that I get one miserable handjob with clothes on that we didn’t have time to even start, much less finish?”

“Naw.  For that you get this—” said John, unfastening his own BDUs.

“I have this theory,” said Rodney, moving in as fast as only a geek after the last cup of jello in the mess can move, “that it’s a whole lot better without pants.”

John smirked.  “Prove it.”  He grimaced as Rodney rushed him.  “But maybe without the drool?  Because… ewww!”

 

 

And so they lived together in perfect happiness, for ever more.