When John next awakened the soft grass had been replaced by the cold jumper floor. Keller was kneeling at his side, her fingers holding his wrist. She gave him a comforting, if a little tightly held, smile. "We're almost home, Colonel," she said quietly.
He nodded, too tired to force words past the oxygen mask that covered his mouth and nose. He squinted, trying to make out the faces that surrounded him. Ronon's dreads and Teyla's sling made them easy to make out, and the Marines were a solid block of black: guns, helmets, vests and BDUs. Pratt was there, no missing the suit and tie with white shirt. His heartbeat quickened as he realized Rodney wasn't among them and raised a hand to pull the mask off his face. Keller stopped him, laid his hand back down and bent over him, bringing her face in closer. Not understanding the reason for his agitation she gazed at him with concern. "Is the pain worse, Colonel?"
It was, but he shook his head fretfully. It wasn't what he wanted to tell her but his lips could only form unspoken words hidden by the green plastic.
"We're almost home," Keller consoled again while she rubbed his arm slowly. "Just a quick stop first."
He fell back into darkness to the sound of Lorne shouting, "Dr. McKay, do you read me?"
Cold jumper floor was marginally softer infirmary bed the next time his eyes opened. He winced as the bright lights hit his eyes. He blinked rapidly, squinting and turning his head on the pillow. A hand crossed his vision and the light was knocked off to the side and he sighed with relief, allowing his eyes to relax enough to peer around.
"Get that scanner up and running, people!" came Keller's voice from behind him.
"Dr Keller!" There was no mistaking the southern drawl, and had there been any doubt, Lt Harrison's face hovered into view. "You hangin' in there, sir?" she asked softly.
He nodded, tried to move but was brought up short by the knife in his gut.
"Wouldn't recommend that, Colonel," Keller said with a sad smile as she walked up next to Harrison. "Just relax and we'll get you sorted out." She turned and murmured, "Cadence, could you stay here while I have the team ready theater one, just in case?"
"Of course, Doctor."
John reached out a hand and stopped Keller as she started to rush away. He stared plaintively at her, not caring if his fear was exposed.
Keller took his hand, gave it a squeeze before laying it back down. "I think you may have re-injured your liver, Colonel," she explained calmly. "Your blood pressure is up which is a sign of internal bleeding. But it's not too bad I can't check things out with the scanner first. If you have, I'll just go back in and fix you up, good as before, okay?"
No… no, it wasn't okay - he couldn't do it again. Just the thought of more surgery, ripping him back open a third time… The pain, the debilitation… He still wasn't fully healed from the last time. He shook his head restlessly, grabbed the corner of her uniform top in a shaky hand.
Keller gently removed his fingers from their weak grip on the fabric. Patted his shoulder but he got no comfort from it. "I promise we'll take good care of you, John," she soothed, still misunderstanding him, adding to his distress.
She left him with another pat on his shoulder. John rolled his head on his pillow, anger and fear battling in his head. Hot tears of frustration leaked from the corners of his squeezed shut eyes. He felt a soft cloth dabbing them away as he slipped back out of awareness.
Awakening was slower this time. Softer and mellower, his conscious thoughts swathed in layers of filmy gauze. He was content to lay there, swaddled in a cocoon of warmth and comfort. No light pierced his eyelids, no nausea tied his guts in knots, no knife dug a trench through his middle. He smiled as thoughts of Pink Floyd floated by on an ethereal cloud.
"I take it that means the pain meds are working?" came Keller's amused sounding voice.
He could barely put forth the energy to sigh out an "mmm hmmmmm."
She snorted good-naturedly, then he felt his wrist picked up and held. His hand felt like it weighed a hundred pounds and he wondered dazedly how she was managing to hold it up.
"I do believe this is the most even keeled we've had you in weeks. Score one for Friedrich Sertürner."
Okay… he knew he was more than a little fuzzy, but …. "Whosat?" he managed to croak out.
"The inventor of morphine," Keller chuckled. "And apparently your new hero."
The blanket got pulled back and cold air snaked over his exposed flesh, tearing away another layer of fog. Then fingers started pawing at his stomach, igniting fires in their path.
But small fires, he realized slowly. Not post surgery, hacked open and darned back together blazing inferno pain. He blinked his eyes open, lifted his hundred pound hand and placed it tentatively on his middle. The old, scabby bumpy scar was still there. He looked up to see Keller smirking at him as she moved his hand away and covered him back up.
"You do have a bleed," she said calmly, "but I'm keeping an eye on it. I think with bed rest it will heal up on its own. No surgery for now, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," he smiled back. "If you… insist…"
"I do," she answered firmly. She looked warmly at him, tugged the blanket up a bit more onto his chest. "I'm tough like that."
There was a derisive snort from somewhere off to the side. John turned his head to see a massive shadow on the curtain. As he watched it broke into three distinct forms, and one had really big hair.
"I heard that, McKay!" Keller replied to the curtain. The fabric pulled back and Rodney stepped in, followed by Ronon and Teyla. "And I guess that was an invitation in," Keller continued dryly. She eyed John up doubtfully. "You up for visitors?"
"Thanks to Freddie Whasisiname, I'm up for pretty much anything," John said sloppily.
"Oh, this should be a fun conversation," Rodney snarked. "Jeez, Keller, what did you use, a horse tranquilizer on him?"
She slapped Rodney affectionately on the arm as she passed by. "Not too long, guys. Not that I think he'll last that long anyways…"
She closed the curtain as the team settled into the room, Teyla being granted the chair while Ronon took the end of the bed. Rodney appeared intrigued by a blinking monitor but it was clear that he was barely containing himself, flicking his finger at switches and tapping the screen.
"What'd I miss?" John asked for expediency's sake.
"We turned Brenon over to the Dargaran Council," Ronon grunted with a scowl. "Carter insisted."
"It is only right that his people address his crimes in their way, Ronon," Teyla said diplomatically. "Would you have him sit in our brig indefinitely?"
"Yeah. For starters."
"Ronon, we have no formal trial system here on Atlantis."
"Don't need a trial. We know what he did. Sheppard's proof enough." A feral grin spread on his face. "Bet the prince's family would pay to get their hands on him."
"The Dargarans are some of our staunchest allies, Ronon. Tellen assures me that he will receive the harshest of punishments for his actions."
"That would be their form of gibbeting," Rodney chimed in with a harsh laugh. "I uh, did some research on it. Of course they put their own um, twist on things, so to speak. The uh, criminal is enclosed in a small cage and hung out at the low tide mark. The tide comes in and… well. Then they evidently leave the uh, remains in the cage for people to… well, it's considered a crime deterrent."
Ronon raised his eyebrows and nodded, clearly impressed. "That'll do. How 'bout it, Sheppard? That do it for you?"
John frowned and rubbed a hand over his ribs at the ache starting to break through the morphine there. But he didn't have an answer.
"It's -- it's barbaric!" Rodney spluttered. "I'm sorry, but jeez, in Canada we don't even have capital punishment. I know they're still stuck in the Industrial Revolution as Zelenka keeps reminding me but still…" He sagged a little where he stood, then shrugged. "For what it's worth, I don't think Brenon meant to kill you guys when he crashed the jumper."
"He meant to kill Sheppard!" Ronon growled, standing from the bed. "You didn't see it, McKay, but take a look what a near miss did!" He pointed at the bed and John struggled to raise his head and see what the big man was pointing at. He squinted woozily and saw that his left leg was raised on pillows, his entire thigh covered in layers of gauze where even now blood was soaking through in places.
He dropped his head back down tiredly and grimaced. "Wanted to use that axe," he muttered mostly to himself. He sighed, losing another layer of comfort as more pains awakened and more memories from that day came back. "What happened to you, Rodney? You were gone, and I…" He licked his dry lips and sucked air through the plastic at his nose. "You were gone," he repeated lamely.
"Yes, well, it turns out it's rather good that I left when I did. You guys were doing the beating on your chests thing which I figured you could handle, and I… couldn't. And I caught that reading that we found before, the naquadah sign?"
His voice grew more animated and John struggled to keep up and alert.
"So I, uh, followed the clues, right? I mean, that's why we were there, right? And I found a… come on, all together now, folks…. That's right, an underground bunker. I think every time we visit a planet that's progressed beyond fire we should immediately have a ground sonar detection unit go over every square meter if it… Anyways, the bunker? Ancient equipment!" he crowed. "Found a, um, well, something similar to a Mark I generator running it. It's um, almost depleted, but I think we could spare some naquadah to get it back up and running for them, after all they are--"
"Rodney!" John broke in, more roughly than he'd meant to.
"Sorry… well, the equipment was in total disrepair. Crystals burnt out. Anyway, I puttered a bit, got it up and humming along. Something like a HUD popped up, showed the position of your jumpers. You performed some really neat but incredibly stupid aerobatics and then… well … I saw it falling so I um, stopped it."
"You stopped the jumper?" John asked incredulously. "You stopped the jumper?"
"Mm hm," Rodney confirmed with a little smugness.
"Rodney… I…" John thought back on the plummeting jumper, the goodbyes he'd made… then the way the craft had been settled so gently on the ground. He smiled and locked eyes with the physicist. "Your landing? Perfect."
Rodney blushed and looked away before returning the smile. "Where's Zelenka around when you need him? He always complains about my landings."
Teyla reached out and squeezed Rodney's hand affectionately before turning back to John. "Tellen and Mina met with the Council and they confirmed, there are stations scattered about the planet. They were left to protect the planet from the Wraith, but it has been so long since they were last culled, the knowledge of how to work the machines was lost over generations."
"Brenon had no idea how the thing worked," Rodney commented. "And even if he did, the machinery was so broken down, it would've been hit or miss. It's really quite ingenious. I imagine the original idea was to um, superimpose the will of the one manning the machine over the darts as they came through. They couldn't necessarily get them all, but they could then turn the controlled darts against the others. Pretty cool, really."
"Cool," John agreed as his eyes began to drift shut. He blinked them back open, struggling to stay awake; there were still so many questions…
"Any casualties?" he asked Ronon.
"Just you," the big man huffed. "And I think Pratt mighta gotten a little roughed up."
"Ronon, you --" He tried sitting up but Teyla placed a gentle hand on his chest and calmed him with a sharp look at her teammate.
"He is fine, John. Ronon thinks he is funny. Mr. Pratt was untouched and remains here on Atlantis while he finishes his report." She uttered the last word as if it left a bad taste in her mouth.
"I think systems might just be up and running again," Rodney smirked cheerfully. "His report should now go out right on time…"
"What? What was wrong with our systems?" John asked, concern once again stirring him to action.
Rodney just waggled his eyebrows and bounced on his tiptoes. "Hmm… let's see… Wraith virus, porn… oh, and mice."
It had to be the morphine. Next thing pink elephants would start a conga line though his room. Before he could even begin to address the crazy things Rodney had said, Keller came bustling back in.
"Okay, kids. Time's up. The colonel needs sleep and you all need to grab some food and shuteye yourselves. How's the hand, Rodney?"
As if realizing for the first time that it was still bandage covered, Rodney raised his hand and stared at it. "Huh." His face wrinkled and he moved the fingers slowly as if they pained him. "Actually, it is starting to hurt a little. I had to work on the machine to save Sheppard's life, you know."
"We know, Rodney," Teyla said fondly as she rose from the chair. "Let's see if a brownie sundae doesn't make it feel better."
She began gently prodding Rodney out as she glanced back at John. "Sleep well, John. We will visit again soon."
"Yeah, feel better Sheppard," Ronon said as he rose.
"Thanks, guys," John said sleepily. "Not sure why she's chasing you out. I…" His last words were swallowed by a giant yawn and he heard Keller's voice next to him at the same time he felt a tug on his IV. "You'll have plenty of time for visits, Colonel. When I say bed rest, I mean just that. No early dismissals this time…"
"Not in any hurry," John mumbled. He was comfortable right where he was. For now.
It turned out that bed rest was code for utter boredom. It wasn't like he'd been awake for most of the previous two days; it seemed like he'd wake up long enough to get sleepy and fall back asleep. It was the whole: been here, done that, got the t-shirt feeling of being grounded. Again. And now on the third day he was feeling antsy.
"You know, sighin' isn't gonna get you sprung any sooner, sir," Harrison said, breezing in to change his bag of saline. "Although, I guess sighin' is better than growlin'."
Whoops. Yeah. The past few weeks had not been some of his prouder moments. "About that," John squirmed, shoving his old glasses back up. Damn, but he was ticked he'd lost the new ones on the planet.
"No need for you to say anythin', sir. There are rules when dealing with lions and big old bears. Don't mess with 'em when they have thorns in their paws. And you, Colonel, had an entire pricker bush in yours. That can make the fiercest creatures on Earth grumpy." She threw away the waste in a bin. "Or on Atlantis."
He didn't say a word when she fussed with his pillows. "Alright, Lieutenant. But I owe you three gallons of ice cream. Just name the flavor."
The nurse beamed. "Colonel…" She whistled low. "How'd you find out my weakness?"
"Didn't become military commander without some crack recon skills."
"I'll be sure to thank Dr. Keller," Harrison chuckled before reverting back to professional. "You still good, sir? Pain level okay?"
"Not too bad," he replied, but quickly added with her stern look, "ribs still ache, but it's tolerable."
"And your leg?"
"If I don't move it then I'm fine," he said, clearing his throat.
"Guess you and Mr. Dex won't be tryin' to walk to the gym anytime soon."
Between his hip and the gash in his thigh, that wouldn't be possible for days. "I think you're stuck with me for a while… sorry."
Harrison smiled. "I'll make due, sir."
He felt like a cat playing with a toy, but he gave the swinging softball several bats, sending it spinning about. "12...G...32...C...21...7...A."
"Ahhh. 'Wery' good, Colonel. Is easy, no?" Pirogov held the ball above his lap by a string. "You can tie this to ceiling and do yourself. Just be sure you have someone write the letters and numbers in different sizes and colors."
"Gotcha." It was odd 'playing games' to improve his sight, but he'd do anything.
"You can do simple exercises. I have many newspapers for you. Take turns tacking different sections on your wall. Make sure you are three meters away and start reading the headlines, then bylines, then fine print. This will help maintain focus. Also rest your eyes often, using the palm technique you've learned."
John blinked. "Yeah, I've been doing that." When no one was looking. He slipped back on his clunky lenses. "Thank you."
Pirogov rested his plump hands on his large belly. "Is my job, but also a pleasure, my good Colonel. I am sorry your accident brought me here. But my visit has been most amazing. You do good job protecting such marvelous city. She is a beautiful lady."
Everyone always fell in love with Atlantis; she was indeed a seductive woman. John had doubted being fit for the task, but slowly, very slowly, he accepted the passing grade Atlantis and her people gave him...well, those who counted the most.
"I am sorry you lost your new glasses, but you are blessed to have such a wonderful, intelligent man who I think will be able to help you."
"What am I supposed to help with now?" Rodney pushed aside the curtain and looked up at the bushy-headed neurologist. "I've been kind of busy now that I'm not trying to keep a certain moody pilot from crashing his jumper or getting railroaded by tight asses from the IOA. Have I mentioned what I've been doing the past two weeks while Sheppard's done nothing but bitch and lay around?"
Pirogov carded his thick beard. "I was referring to Dr. Zelenka. I know he is most valuable asset to the city but I think he might find the time to make Colonel Sheppard another set of glasses."
Rodney glowered at his actions being ignored. "I dunno, I like the nerdy look. Call it karma for picking on all the geeks in school," Rodney said righteously, crossing his arms. "I'm sure Sheppard was never stuffed in his locker as a kid."
"I wasn't a jock, McKay," John grumbled. He looked up at the physician. "And about the glasses?"
"I do not predict dates, Colonel. But bleed is gone, nerves are calming down. With therapy and glasses, your vision should return close to what it was before the crash. You will be fine for flight status," he added quickly, waving his hand to calm John down. "You might have need for normal prescription lenses from now on, but not for everyday use."
"That's what happens when you hit forty. You begin falling apart," Rodney snarked.
John sent him a fiery glare but Pirogov interrupted. "I must be going. I have to get back to University. I have so much research to do."
"Thanks, Doc. Again. For everything," John said with added emphasis.
"Budem zdorovy, Colonel." And the eccentric man bowed and left.
"I'm not going to miss that mothball odor," Rodney muttered.
"It wasn't all that bad," John said, relaxing into his pillows, feeling wiped out already. "Beats this antiseptic smell."
"Isn't this a déjà vu moment? I come to visit and you want to fall asleep," Rodney accused.
John removed his glasses, rubbing at his eyes before slipping them back on. "My head aches and my pain meds are wearing away. Kind of feeling a bit wrung out right now." He tried adjusting his sore body, grunting at sharp and dull flares of pain down his middle.
Rodney fumbled at just standing, dashing looks at the chair. "Hmmm. Liked it more when you were less forthcoming about how you felt."
"I'm trying for more honesty, McKay," John sighed.
"Always a good policy, Colonel," Richard Pratt announced, pulling away the cloth divider. "In fact, maybe if you had let Ms. Emmagan know about the kidnap plot, you could have saved the IOA a lot of time."
Even after being cleared, the bureaucrat was finding ways to pin things on him. John opened his mouth but Rodney McKay was very good at lashing out at people who ticked him off.
"Please, save your breath. Do you not read e-mails?" Rodney snapped.
"Twenty-two filled my inbox last night. I deleted them. Couldn't risk getting a virus, could I?" Pratt grinned. "I mean, with the systems around here being so prone and all."
"If you had bothered to ask about the importance, you would have found Major Lorne's follow up report. Leora asked Sheppard to act normal to avoid raising suspicions that night."
John didn't need a defense lawyer. "I still don't recall the evening or most of the week. I probably should have mentioned it to Teyla but I'll never know what I was thinking at the time."
"Yes, well. Maybe something to keep in mind for the future." Pratt stood tall, joining his hands behind his back. "I came by to inform you that I'm turning in a revised version of my report to Stargate Command. Colonel Carter has a copy and I'd be glad to send you one."
"Oh sure, give a copy to the guy you came here to persecute last. How thoughtful. Did you happen to mention in there somewhere your unethical practices of interrogation?" Rodney was out of his chair, his face turning red.
"Knock it off, McKay," John said tiredly. "It's over. We both have other things to focus on."
Richard Pratt's words to him in their earlier 'interviews' still stung, having done their job. However, it took time to realize they were just verbal expressions of his own guilty conscience. The IOU guy had twisted the darker, more deeply buried aspects of his many regretful decisions, but they had finally seen the light of day. His team had helped him face those uglier versions of the truth and maybe John could reconcile with the rest one day. Something he'd never before thought possible.
Rodney McKay in the meantime was a man on a mission. "You may be willing to let this guy walk away scot free, but I'm not. I'm sure Stargate Command would like to know how he used his power to steal private medical files!"
Pratt raised a perfectly curved eyebrow. "Do you really want to discuss ethics and things like sabotage and other illegal activities that have been overlooked?"
That popped McKay off. "What about the IOA learning the real reason why you took this assignment and pursued it so eagerly? Blindly, many would say."
"McKay," John warned, not wanting to go there.
"No!" Rodney whirled on him. "It's… it's so asinine. He almost ruined your career! Trampled over your life!"
"I don't know what on Earth you are going on about, Dr. McKay," Pratt said annoyed.
"In 1988, Patrick Sheppard was involved in a hostile takeover of a rising energy company, Horizon Technologies. A firm your father founded from the ground up and lost to a more ruthless corporate raider type. I guess that's where you stole pages from the underhanded rule book."
Richard Pratt stood even straighter, jaw locked in place.
"I'm not the only one with connections," Rodney huffed. "Daddy was never the same after he lost the company was he?" he needled.
John didn't want to go down this road, but he'd never been given a choice since he'd been a passenger the whole time. "Rodney...give us a moment, would you?" He looked at his friend, not wanting an audience.
"Sure, whatever. Just don't, you know... revert back to a pod person before I get back."
John used both hands to push himself up, resisting the urge to groan as his ribs shifted painfully.
"He's some attack dog. Funny how you have two of them at your beck and call," Pratt scoffed.
"Don't ever talk about my people with such disrespect. Is that understood?" John growled.
"Perfectly," Pratt grit out. The bureaucrat adjusted the cuff links of his GQ suit. "I was able to keep personal bias aside. I am a professional."
"That's bull and you know it. But I don't really care. My father and I didn't exactly get along. He was an asshole and I hadn't even talked to him in years," John said exasperatedly, his father's death still a raw pain.
"Yes, I read about his passing."
John wondered if that was it? Pratt couldn't build a large enough global empire to topple his old man. Had this case been an unexpected opportunity? He shook his head as he realized he really didn't give a damn.
"Go back to the IOA, Pratt. Remind them that this place isn't as cut and dried as mission reports and budgetary concerns. We need funding. We need their support. We're at war. One that's been going on for a long time. Yeah, some of the stuff we've done here hasn't helped... but we've made progress. And we have an obligation to stick it out and help the people of this galaxy." John took a deep breath, arm braced at his side, his energy gone.
"Spoken like a true military commander, Colonel Sheppard."
John hid a smirk, knowing that was the pencil pusher's way of admitting he was wrong. He gave the man a half wave. "Thanks, Dick."
Pratt scowled but grabbed his briefcase off the floor and walked away.
"Is he gone?"
John rolled his eyes. "Yes, Rodney."
"Can you believe that arrogant, pompous prick? When the SCG gets a hold of my report - and Sam's, she wrote one, too- I bet he'll be facing an inquiry of his own."
"I doubt it," John drawled, removing his glasses and placing them on the table. "People like him slither upwards. He gets results and they don't care how. He'll probably even get a bonus. It doesn't matter, though. Because his opinion never did," John said smiling as he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
It was two very long weeks before John was sprung from the infirmary. The story of how everyone had banded together while he'd been healing had been told to him in bits and pieces as he was able to stay awake for longer periods. Keller told him it was exhaustion, completely natural given the amount of trauma his body had received from the crash and the fight with Brenon. It frustrated him, but as he grew stronger each day, he had reluctantly come to the realization that she was right. Rodney's pointed reminders that they were 'old', now that they'd crossed the thirty-nine and holding barrier, and didn't bounce back as quickly rankled but were probably also right. So he allowed the fussing and bed confinement. He read a lot more as his vision continued to improve, exercised his arms and legs and ate everything they put in front of him.
He also made an effort to keep his spirits up. It was hard at times. He couldn't stay on morphine forever, and aches and pains woke up in just about every part of his body. He'd even experienced a migraine his first week, something he thought he'd put behind him for good and good riddance. But whenever he'd hear his words get a bite to them, or he felt like withdrawing and being left alone, he reminded himself of what everyone had done. And how that made him feel. He knew that it bothered his team to see him down, so he made a concerted effort not to allow them to see it. It was the only reward he could offer them at the time. The only way he could convey his appreciation.
But now, after those two very long weeks, John found himself humming to himself contentedly as his team settled themselves in the rec room. They'd insisted he take the couch, Ronon folding his lanky form down in front and Rodney piling up a monstrous mound of pillows next to him. Teyla took the other end of the couch and spread a blanket over them as John rifled through a pile of DVDs.
It had been a good day. A productive day. His first visit had been to Radek's lab. The little Czech had been delighted by his gift. John had made arrangements with some of his Air Force connections for Radek to be flown to Russia during his next leave and a suite at the five star luxury Baltschug Kempinski hotel right on Red Square was his for a week. Money had never ruled his life like it had his father and brother's but that didn't mean it wasn't nice to have access to it on occasion. And Radek was ecstatic at the thought of hanging with Pirogov at the University. John envisioned days filled with geek talk and nights of vodka shots.
Carter had been next. And the toughest. He wound up tapping on the shoulders of men he knew to 'know someone who knew someone' and was able to put together a box of items he thought she might like. The Colonel had smiled and blushed as she pulled out packages of candy bars, teabags, gourmet coffee and even a box of HoHos. But the bottle of single malt scotch got the biggest and best reaction.
Major Lorne had been the easiest. After Colonel Carter had filled him in on what the younger man had done, even while holding his temporary command position, John sat down and wrote up the most glowing commendation letter he could think of and had Chuck ask Walter to put it directly on Landry's desk. A new set of Nike clubs, just like the ones Tiger Woods used, was on order, but the major had been more pleased with John's promise to play a few rounds of 'pier golf' with him once he'd healed up more.
"So what's tonight's feature?" Rodney asked as he grabbed the bowl of microwave popcorn. "And please don't say Die Hard. I'm sorry if I couldn't quote every stupid line like you can, but I have seen it before and I've gotta say… not that impressed. I rooted for Alan Rickman."
John fought a smile and handed over the DVD from the top of the pile.
Rodney groaned as he looked at the cover. "Harry Potter? Are you serious? What did you suddenly become eight years old again?"
"That the kid on the broom?" Ronon grunted doubtfully.
"Yes, it's the kid on the broom, but hear me out, guys." He rubbed the back of his neck as he considered his words, then slumped against the pillows at his back and averted his eyes to the patterned blanket. "See, I wound up finishing the books. I'd already started them a month ago. Then these last couple weeks, well, I just kinda plowed through them. I mean, they aren't exactly War and Peace - thank God - and they are pretty easy to read. And yeah, they're kinda for kids but Harry… See he's this kid who has a really crappy home life. Feels like he really doesn't fit in with the family he lives with, and he kinda just muddles through his days without any hope of things getting better. Then one day he meets someone who tells him he is special. He's got something in his blood… like a magic gene… and… well, he winds up in a place he never could've imagined was real, not in his wildest dreams."
His team was quiet and John squirmed with the attention, but this was something he had to do. Even if he had to convey it through a stupid children's book. "When he gets there, he makes new friends. There's a girl, Hermione, who's smart and fiery and independent. Fiercely loyal. And a smart but socially maladjusted geek named Ron, who knows a little something about being picked on. He and Harry hit it off immediately. And then there's Hagrid. He's this giant, scary looking guy but he's got a heart of gold. And really big hair… Yeah, I think the metaphor's a little too literal with you, Ronon. Anyway… they help Harry fight off the big bad evil, along with about seven novels worth of other characters. And Harry loses some people he loves along the way… but… yeah. Anything else I say would just ruin it, you know?" he asked as he finally looked up.
Teyla reached over and patted his leg. "I would love to see this movie. Thank you, John."
Rodney smiled as he stuck the disc into the player. "I heard it has really neat special effects," he conceded.
Ronon appeared to consider, then eased back against the couch, grabbing the bowl of popcorn from Rodney. "The giant guy sounds cool."
"He is," John said quietly as he put on his glasses and settled in for the start of the movie. "They all are."
I wanted to thank my partner in crime for all her late night chats, phone calls, and last inning heroics on this monster. Always love writing with my Ms. Grammar Ogre and this was indeed a wonderful time.
We write for ourselves things we want to see and have a sense of glee and accomplishment when its all said and done, but seeing how much our readers were excited was a huge reward. Bear hugs to those who left us feedback and Ronon hugs to those amazing people who hung on to every chapter and gave us love.
We really appreciated it. After six months of planning and writing it was the best gift.
Herein is my author's note, quick and dirty. Thank you. Thank you to those who joined us on this journey. Thank you to those who participated with your concrit and kind words. And enthusiasm! Boy, as things started coming to the end we could feel the whips coming out, urging us onward, faster. This was MY kind of fic, and it was really fricking cool to see that others enjoyed it so much as well.
And thank you to my awesome co-author. We nursed this baby for six months and now it's bittersweet, seeing it leave the nest for the last time. My only consolation is knowing that this is certainly not our last work together.
Lastly, I offer a little map to some things that got mentioned throughout the story that may have stymied and mystified some -okay - most of you. My bad. I get a little happy with the pop culture references and it's no fun reading a joke you're not in on.
Les Nessman is a character on WKRP in Cincinnati. He protests his lack of an office by placing tape on the floor to symbolize walls. Rent the DVDs. I cannot urge you enough.
When Rodney calls Ronon "Lennie" it's a reference to Of Mice and Men. Lennie is the mentally disabled man who likes bunnies and pretty ladies.
Prophecy was a cheesy 70's horror movie I was fortunate enough to see first run at the drive-in. One of those cautionary eco-movies. Scared the poop outa me.
Mr. Magoo was a cartoon character who couldn't see his hand in front of his face. That was the shtick. That's it.
Oh, and catching fish with a stick of dynamite… that's for mei-mei.
PLEASE feel free to email me if anything else left you feeling "huh?" In fact, feel free to email me, period. Suddenly find myself with some time on my hands…