DISCLAIMER: As always I own no Star Gate Atlantis character, but if I could it would be McKay. lecherous grin
Authors note: Thanks for the encouraging reviews! Sorry it's taking me so long to get the next chapter up, but I've been sick and stressed out at work. Hope the ending worked all right.
PARTIES AND HORMONES
Three days later Moric granted their request to meet on Elui the next day instead of Atlantis. While Dr. Weir, Sheppard's team, and Ki met with Moric and Neressa the rest of Ki's kitar zipped off to visit with family and friends.
The meeting was the longest yet between the two parties since no one wanted to stop until an agreement was reached. Finally, after several hours of discussion and bickering (mostly between Neressa and McKay) a schedule was set up that would rotate up to six men twice weekly for two days of R&R in return for the steady release of technology from Tapeca. It was also agreed that the Lanteans would have the freedom to come and go from Tapeca to update and revise their list as they continued to discover what was stored in the vast cavern.
The items that topped McKay's list amazingly did not include the two ZPMs, but instead consisted of personal shields, advanced weaponry, spare parts for existing equipment on Atlantis, and what appeared to be advanced medical equipment along with any and all information in the database or stored in Tapeca relating to the equipment that was being turned over.
When asked he had commented, "Hmm, yes, I actually put the lives of the men over my desire for the ZedPM's." To which Sheppard had parried, "Miracles – they do happen."
The following day five very adventurous, but extremely nervous men stepped through the gate having volunteered to be the first to visit the Halls. They came sauntering back through the gate two days later grinning from ear to ear. "Colonel Sheppard, Dr. Weir, reporting for duty." SGT Allens snapped a jaunty salute.
"Everything went as expected, Sergeant?" Sheppard asked.
"Just fine, Sir. Like a first rate resort."
"Hmmm. Well, get Dr. Beckett to clear you and then we'll meet for debrief."
"Ummm, debrief, Sir? You want, ummm, details?" CPL Anders asked flushing.
"Details of what the Halls were like and how you were treated, Gentlemen, not details of any personal experience." Dr. Weir clarified flushing slightly herself.
An hour later the five men sat in the conference room with Dr. Weir and Colonel Sheppard relating their experience on Elui.
Elizabeth glanced down at her notes. "I see Dr. Beckett has given you all a clean bill of health. In fact, he says that your stress levels are down significantly." She looked up at them expectantly.
SGT Allens cleared his throat and started his report. "We stepped through the gate and were met by a couple of Eluians. After the basic greetings were exchanged they teleported us to just outside one of the Halls. They explained to us that there would be food, drink, music, and games inside the Hall. They also made sure we understood that the Julis drink would strip away inhibitions." He paused embarrassed and took a moment to collect himself. "When you enter the building it's like being inside a large dimly lit open area with large plants and scattered seating and tables that have a variety of food and beverages. There are several hallways leading off this main room. We weren't sure exactly what to do at first, but they were real… cough friendly…and…ummm… soon we were all laughing and mingling and then, well, then one of them approaches you and leads you down one of the hallways and into a room and well, sorry ma'am this is just not easy."
"I understand Sergeant. I'm not real comfortable hearing it to be honest, but I feel that since I've asked you all to do this I should at least hear the reports."
"Yes ma'am. Well when we were…finished…we'd go back out into the main room and mingle until we were approached by someone else. When one of us would get sleepy we'd just wander off and find an empty room and go to sleep."
"It's more embarrassing to tell you about than to go through it because of the Julis. It makes you very unselfconscious at the time. Like what you're doing is a normal everyday happening." CPL Parker chimed in red-faced.
"To them it is normal." CPL Anders stated.
"One last question, gentlemen." Dr. Weir shuffled the papers in front of her. "As you know, we get items from Tapeca in correlation to the number of children…"
The men glanced at each other, leaned together, mumbling and shrugging. Finally, they settled back in the chairs finding the tabletop or their uniforms very interesting. SGT Allens murmured, "Between 15 and 25."
That many?" Sheppard cleared his throat. "You don't see a problem arising from the situation, SGT?"
"No, Sir. Like I said, it's like being at a resort. I mean, begging your pardon, Dr. Weir, but who hasn't went on vacation and picked up someone for a weekend fling?"
All the men agreed with SGT Allens' statement and Dr. Weir called the debriefing to a close to everyone's evident relief. The men filed out eager to go boast to their buddies of their exploits. By the next morning the list of volunteers had grown significantly.
Three days later another five men went on R&R and when they returned two days later they were each carrying a box of fully charged personal shields.
"Over two hundred personal shields, Colonel." Lt. Peterman grinned as he handed over the box to be checked out and inventoried.
"Great, Lieutenant," Sheppard grinned back. "I see our casualty rate decreasing rapidly already. The only problem we have now is the men that don't have the gene."
The lieutenant sighed. "Your right; perhaps Beckett or McKay can figure a way around that."
"Maybe," Sheppard frowned. "I wonder what's next on McKay's shopping list."
"Weapons." The smug reply came from behind him. Turning Sheppard found Rodney and Ki standing behind him. "Weapons that look like they are a match for Ronon's nifty blaster and don't need the gene to use from what I could tell at a quick glance and then medical equipment after that."
"Your men are reporting no difficulties, Colonel?" Ki asked earnestly.
"No, in fact, some are complaining about the wait."
Ki smiled softly. "The Halls are…entertaining and somewhat opulent."
"Your name on the list" Rodney quirked a half grin teasingly at Sheppard.
"No. I want to make sure everything is on the level before upper level staff and officers go." Sheppard glanced over at Ki. "No offense, Ki."
"None taken. My father will have a hard time regaining anyone's trust." She placed a hand on her gently swelling abdomen. "I will not return to Elui myself until after my child is born."
"Speaking of which," Teyla interjected having joined them, "may I ask what may be an indelicate question?"
Ki looked at her thoughtfully. Perhaps this would be better?
Teyla jumped –startled. I will never get used to that! Several women have noticed that you are showing already and were wondering about the time frame involved in Eluian pregnancy.
Ki laughed. "That is not indelicate at all Teyla. Our pregnancies last five months."
"Five?!" Rodney yelped looking panicked. "When were you going to tell me this? We haven't even begun to get anything and it doesn't take awhile to order from Earth and arrange delivery and…"
"Rodney!" They all shouted at him. Ki touched his arm. "There is plenty of time and to be honest I did not think about the fact that your people would carry a child longer. I can always get whatever is needed from Elui."
"Oh, I didn't think about that." Rodney still looked panicked. "Well, then, plenty of time." I thought I had nine months to prepare to be a father. Crap! Five! I'm not ready. I don't know anything about babies or parenting or…or…
Rodney. Calm down. You are going to be a very good father.
And you crystal ball showed you this?
I know because you are worried. You are going to be very conscientious and loving and that will be sufficient.
"No, it won't. I'll screw it up. I never should have…" He snapped out loud.
Ki lost her calm. "How much do you think I know about babies and being a mother? Nothing. That's how much, Rodney McKay. So don't you even dare to think that what we've created is a mistake!"
Rodney just stared at her as her composure crumbled and she began crying right in the middle of the gate room then he moved. He gathered her into his arms and held her tight. "Damn it, Ki. I didn't mean that and you know it."
Chaz, Teesa, and Myr glided in to see what was going on, the control room techs came to the railing, and Dr. Weir left her office to peer down at them. "John, is she okay?"
"She's fine. Pregnant woman -emotional distress," John replied off-handedly not thinking of how Kilaran would react to his blasé comment. A small blast of energy knocked him off his feet. "Hey!"
"Do not dismiss my… " Ki snapped upset and still crying.
"Ki!" Her kitar gasped and threw shielding around her and Rodney so that her next lashing splattered across the shielding.
She paled as realized how she had reacted. She crumpled to the floor. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, John. I…" She began sobbing uncontrollably. Rodney knelt in front of her enfolding her in his arms comforting and protecting at the same time.
Elizabeth had hurried down the stairs and was by John making sure he was okay. The kitar was hovering uneasily between Ki and Rodney and everyone else. "He is correct. Her hormones will affect her emotional state."
"Yes, it is the same with us." Teyla stepped forward – a calm presence in the midst of heightened tensions.
"Yes," Elizabeth added. "Pregnant women of Earth are notoriously emotional so please don't let it upset you further."
"How come she didn't blast you for saying the same thing I just did?" John asked aggrieved.
Teyla and Elizabeth gave him a pitying glance. "We are empathizing not belittling."
"I wasn't…" he trailed off at Teyla's stern glare.
"Come, Kilaran," Elizabeth gently extracted her from Rodney's embrace. "Come have tea with us." She nodded at Teyla who immediately agreed. Together they ushered Kilaran into Elizabeth's office firmly shut the door on the men and opaqued the windows.
"I am sorry." Kilaran murmured as she sank into the small sofa.
"Don't worry about it." Elizabeth replied gently pouring tea for the three of them. "Men, especially John and Rodney, can be trying on the best of days."
Ki gave them a watery grin. "He can be, can't he?" She stared down into her cup. "He's just so worried that he won't be a good parent. He says…he says he didn't have very good examples growing up."
Teyla and Elizabeth shared a look at this insight into Rodney's childhood. "I believe," Teyla responded slowly, "that he may be an even better father for just that reason. He apparently knows what neglect feels like." She smiled indulgently. "If anything he may spoil the child."
"I agree." Elizabeth smiled fondly. "When does Rodney ever do anything half-heartedly?"
"Never." Ki sighed. "I want to thank you for everything, Dr. Weir. My people haven't given you a lot of reasons to trust us and you took my kitar in and made us feel at home."
Elizabeth leaned forward and laid a hand on Ki's arm. "You have been honest, sometimes painfully honest, with us from the beginning. Besides," she grinned, "you are probably the one woman in two galaxies that's a match for Rodney."
Ah, laughter. Does that mean everything is back on an even keel? Myr asked, masking her concern beneath her teasing.
Yes. You can all relax now. I'm not going to toss anyone in the water.
"I have taken enough of your time, Dr. Weir." Kilaran stood up.
"Please, call me Elizabeth. You are part of our family now."
"Elizabeth, then," Ki bowed her head slightly. "I'd better go let Rodney make sure I'm okay." She grimaced, but the women felt how much she loved him.
"He means well," Teyla replied softly placing a hand on Ki's arm.
Kilaran sighed. "Yes," she grinned. "Let's just say it is well that I can read his emotions as well as hear his words."
Four and a half months later –
Kilaran and Rodney sat on a low divan at one end of a large multifunctional room. Practically the entire Atlantean compliment filled the room. Kilaran leaned contentedly against him as the low murmur of multiple conversations and good will swirled around them.
"So this – baby shower – is a custom on Earth?" She eyed the mounds of colorfully wrapped boxes in front of them.
"Yes," Rodney laid one hand gently on her burgeoning belly and bent to kiss her temple. "Babies can be quite expensive to take care of on Earth and so friends and family gift things to the parents to help them out."
Kilaran lifted her eyes from the daunting pile and surveyed the crowed room. "So everyone here considers us friends or family?" Her eyes misted over as she looked to him for confirmation.
He just smiled softly at her knowing she could sense what everyone felt.
"Could I have your attention, please?" Elizabeth called and a hush fell over the crowd. "It's time to let our happy parents-to-be open the gifts since it looks like it might take awhile." She grinned and a happy cheer went up.
Chaz, Myr, and Teesa floated over by Ki and Rodney and settled into physical form. Myr was to get the gifts to them, Teesa was to record who gave what, and Chaz was to port the presents to their room and the trash to the containers.
They received want seemed to be an endless supply of baby lotion, baby shampoo, baby oil, talcum powder, teething jell, diapers, and other toiletries. Then there were pink, blue, green, and yellow outfits; baby blankets, tiny towels and wash rags, hair brush sets, nail clippers, baby monitors, sheet sets, mobiles, crib toys, teething rings, and rattles.
From Elizabeth there was a baby journal that already had 'how your parents met' already filled in; Teyla gave them a beautiful hand made outfit and blanket; from Ronon a card that said simply 'it's in your quarters' and from John a mobile of – no surprise – puddle jumpers.
They reached the apparent end and Rodney stood up clearing his throat self-consciously. "We want to thank everyone…"
"Wait," Sheppard interjected then muttered into his radio. "I think someone is missing." He grinned hugely as he turned toward the doors.
Rodney and Kilaran looked over toward the doors as they slid open and then shut, but could not see who had entered because of the crush. People began moving back clearing the way for whomever it was and then the crowd parted and Rodney stared in shock at who stood before him grinning like the Cheshire cat.
They stood staring at each other of a second and then Rodney rushed forward and wrapped her in a rib cracking embrace. "Jeannie! I can't believe…How did…How long?"
"Oh, oh, yeah," Rodney turned toward Ki keeping his hand on Jeannie's back. "Ki this…this is my sister, Jeannie Miller. Jeannie, this is Kilaran, my wife." He beamed happily at both of them.
Jeannie stepped forward hand extended. "It's nice to meet you."
Kilaran could feel how bowled over Rodney was; how much it meant to him that his sister had made the trip to Atlantis. She stepped forward and took the proffered hand. "I'm glad to meet you too." She said as love/joy/protectiveness/uncertainty washed over her.
She sorted out the meaning behind the emotions as Rodney introduced his sister to her kitar. Jeannie loved Rodney and was glad he was happy, but she wanted to be sure that Kilaran loved him; she did not want her brother hurt and had reservations about any woman who claimed to love him since he was admittedly prickly and hard to get along with. Instead of offending Kilaran it cemented her good opinion of his sister that she would travel so far to be sure her brother wasn't being taken advantage of.
"I thought you might like to have these, Mer." Jeannie held out a small package.
Rodney looked at her confused and opened the package. Inside was a set of six books. His eyes were bright and his voice choked when he asked, "You kept these all these years?" These were my favorite storybooks when I was little.
Jeannie shrugged and flushed a little. "Yeah. Madison's outgrown them so I thought…"
Kilaran slid an arm around his waist as she bent over to look at them. "We shall take very good care of them. Thank you." She stifled a yawn. "I'm sorry. It seems I'm always tired here lately. I think I will retire for the night." She saw Rodney's eyes dart between her and Jeannie and saw the light dim in Jeannie's eyes. "Stay and talk with your sister." She turned to Jeannie. "You are staying a few days, aren't you?"
"A week actually." She grinned at the happy look on Rodney's face.
"Then perhaps we could get together tomorrow and get to know each other."
"I'd love that." Jeannie replied and then stared in utter shock as Ki kissed her brother and disappeared.
Rodney! Oh my, you'll never believe what Ronon gave us. It's absolutely lovely.
Is this twenty questions, Ki or are you going to tell me?
Ki chuckled in his mind. A crib. No more than just a crib. The note that was with it says that he had Sheppard take him to Sateda to get it. It was his crib and was to be his child's crib, but the Wraith came before he and Melana had a chance to use it.
She popped back into the reception room next to Ronon, threw her arms around him, sobbed a heartfelt 'thank you', and disappeared. Ronon looked pleased and embarrassed. Rodney took a step toward him, but Ronon growled, "Hug me and I'll hurt you."
Rodney looked at him like he was crazy and held out his hand. "Thanks."
Ronon took his hand. "Your welcome." Rodney clapped him on the arm and returned to Jeannie.
Early the next morning when the sun was just thinking about rising above the horizon Kilaran gasped as a sharp pain rippled across her. In moments it was gone and she lay there wondering what had caused it. Just as she was about to drift back to sleep another ripple of pain crossed her abdomen. This time she felt the muscles contracting and she smiled in spite of the pain. It was time. Soon her daughter would join her in this wondrous world and would begin her own journey.
"Rodney," she murmured poking him in the arm, "the baby."
"Hmmm," he mumbled and she closed her eyes briefly. If she were to say 'system failure' he'd be up in a shot – wide awake and ready to diagnose the problem.
Rodney, my labor is starting.
What? he mumbled.
Frowning, she lightly linked them and let him feel the next contraction as it took hold of her body.
He came awake with a gasp. "Ki? What was that?"
"It's time." Kilaran struggled to get up. "Help me up."
"Time?" He looked panicked. "No, no, no, we still have a couple weeks."
"Apparently, your daughter is as impatient as you are." Ki collapsed back onto the bed as another contraction, stronger this time, wracked her body.
Suddenly, Myr and Teesa were there and then they were all four in the infirmary where Chaz met them with Dr. Beckett who was rubbing his eyes and trying to wake up.
Five hours later a very exhausted Kilaran and Rodney greeted their daughter as she took her first breath and let everyone know she was not happy with cold/bright light/smells/strangers.
Rodney took her tiny bundled form from Carson and snuggled her to his chest whispering, "Hush little Jessa, you're safe." And to everyone's surprise, except Ki's, Jessa stopped crying and turned contentedly against Rodney's chest emoting warm/content/love/belonging.
Kilaran fell asleep knowing that no matter what happened tomorrow or the days that would follow today everything was right in her world.