AN: And with this little short snippet, this fic is now finished! We hope you enjoyed it, and tha-tha-that's all folks!
ABOUT A BABY... the epilogue
John was happy.
For once everything in his life was going right. He was finally better. Finally able to go back on missions. Well, it was only one mission so far - but it had been a good one. He had stepped through the gate with his team, feeling an almost panic at leaving Lily behind. But once through, they had met up with the Theolins and had negotiated a trade for fruit, returning back to Atlantis in eight hours with baskets of the stuff and smiles on their faces. No surprises, no injuries, just the thrill of being out again and coming home safe.
Today was a good day too. Today was Lily's first birthday and it looked as if everyone in Atlantis had turned out to help them celebrate it. Weir had conceded to letting the messhall be turned into a party hall and over a dozen people had helped decorate with an Elmo theme. John didn't ask about it, or how Weir had gotten an Elmo doll. Which Lily loved and slept with. The how didn't matter, what did matter was that Atlantis finally felt safe. Lily was safe, his team was safe, Rodney was safe. Life was good.
At the moment, Lily was opening presents. Or, rather, John was opening them, while she watched from her perch on his lap. They were on the floor, surrounded by colored paper and tons of toys and Lily was smiling and repeating 'dadadada' over and over again, making John flush with happiness.
Until he opened Teyla's gift. It was a necklace with pink stones that had belonged to Dreya. As he stared at the gift, John listened to Teyla explain how Dreya had given it to her for safe keeping, along with instructions for Teyla to make sure Lily got it on her first birthday. As if she had somehow known she would not live to see the occasion. John felt the burn of tears in his eyes and he blinked rapidly against them.
Elizabeth appeared by his side, reaching for Lily, as if sensing that he needed a moment to compose himself.
John swiped at his eyes as he rose to his feet, nodding at her with gratitude.
"Take your time," Elizabeth whispered.
"Thanks." John heard the crack in his voice even as he turned and blindly headed for the nearest balcony. The cool night breeze dried the tears that had slid down his face and after a time John felt almost peaceful. He looked up into the night sky and let himself connect with Dreya. Even though she was dead, John still felt the bond between them, like a whisper in the back of his mind. "I miss you," he said softly. "I think Lily does too. She's amazing, Dreya. So sweet and so beautiful. She's walking and talking now, too. I wish you could see it." John broke off, moving over to the corner where he could sit down and stare at the water.
"I love her more than life itself," he continued. "She is my life." And wasn't that a scary truth? But he didn't want to dwell on it. It was a simple fact he had come to accept, without question. "I'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe," John promised Dreya. "Give my own life willingly. I know you understand what that means." Dreya had given her life in a sense. "Thank you," John whispered. "Thank you Dreya, for giving me Lily."
"Thank her for me too, would you?"
John started at the sound of Rodney's voice. He turned to find McKay crouching down beside him. Some military leader he was. Rodney wasn't exactly a quiet and graceful person, yet John hadn't heard him approach. He was about to comment on that when he felt himself shifted as Rodney slid behind him, settling John between his legs with far too much ease. He would definitely have to work on getting his fighting weight back. "What are you doing out here?" he asked, once he was comfortably ensconced in Rodney's arms, feeling the warmth of his lover's chest seeping into his back and making everything seem just perfect.
"You're out here," Rodney countered, as if that explained everything. Which maybe it did. "You okay?"
"I think so." It was a simple statement and, for once, the truth. John turned his head to press a kiss to the corner of Rodney's crooked mouth, then he explained. "Lily is perfect, Atlantis isn't under attack, no more bad guys are popping up and you love me. Life doesn't get any better than that."
Rodney chuckled, a low rumble in his chest. But then he fell silent before whispering in John's ear, "You just jinxed us, you know that, right?"
John decided he wasn't going to believe in the negative anymore. So he shook his head and laughed.
"You need to laugh more," Rodney stated.
"Hopefully I'll have reason too," John replied, and he realized he was content to simply stay here. It was enough just to be alive and be with Rodney.
Rodney, however, was not cooperating. He was shifting around again, this time to stand up and drag John to his feet. "It's cake time so let's go. They're waiting for us."
John pouted. "So that's why you came out here. You want cake. Huh...you love cake more than me." He was teasing and he let Rodney know that by the twinkle in his eyes.
Rodney's response was to bury his fingers in John's hair and kiss the smirk off his face. Which worked for John. They didn't break apart until they needed to breathe, then John was the one leading the way back to the party.
Everyone was already gathered around the cake and John moved next to Elizabeth, reclaiming Lily. He kissed her cheek then looked at Teyla, who started singing the birthday song, which John had taught her. Lily sang her own rendition of it, clapping her hands in delight, then John leaned in with her so they could blow out the candle. She was content to let him do it. "Have a go at the cake, sweetheart," John told his daughter.
Lily seemed to understand him because she plopped both hands into the frosting then brought one fist to her face. More of the frosting ended up on her skin than in her mouth, but she looked happy.
John was happy too, until her other fist ended up smearing frosting over his face when she tried to share it with him. But then he laughed, even as a camera flash blinded him a bit. Elizabeth had smuggled a lot of things to Atlantis, apparently. John was glad. He wanted a reminder of this day.
Ronon had been watching and he turned to McKay. "Lily has your eating habits."
Before Rodney could reply to that, everyone started laughing.
John's eyes met Rodney's over Lily's head. "Life is good," he whispered.
Rodney's smile and Lily's cake smeared face made it all the better.