War at Home: The Struggle Continues
Chapter 1: Bad Day for Some...Looking Bright for Others
"Are you sure you are okay with this?" Jennifer sighed as she spoke into the radio. She was nervous about her parents wanting to see their granddaughter. It would not be a big deal if she was on Earth with Evan, but with Stephanie staying with Rodney there were questions she knew her parents would have. The hardest to explain would be Chrissy's resemblance to her. Jennifer knew her mother would question the similarity and she knew Rodney would not tell the truth of where he and his daughter came from. But she wondered what kind of memories it would stir up for him and the emotions it would bring with it.
"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" Rodney's voice faltered only a little. He knew how to deal with her father from his own experience, but her mother was new territory.
"Your voice," she pointed out. Jennifer never met the Rodney that was originally from her universe as he disappeared right after Carson's funeral, never to be heard from again. From the stories she heard, the physician did not think she would have liked that man, but the one that she knew was very different from the stories. It bothered her that some people still held the original's actions against this Rodney. "You dealt…"
"Not exactly," Rodney cut her off. "I never had a mother-in-law. So this is new territory for me."
"If you can't handle it I can tell them not to come. I can reschedule when Evan or I could be there," she knew it would be a long time before her husband would well enough to make a trip to Earth.
The scientist frowned, "Don't worry. I can handle this. No talk of alternate universes. Chrissy and I will be fine. There is no need for you and Evan to worry. If any problems come up I'll let you know."
"Mommy, why do Poppy and Nana want to see me? They aren't going to make me go with them are they? I love staying with Chrissy and Uncle Rodney," Steph pouted as she spoke to her mother.
"No Sweetie, they just want to see you. They haven't seen you since you were a baby and this is the first time you are close enough for them to visit," Jennifer explained. "They miss you, Steph."
The child let out an annoyed sigh, "When are they coming?" Steph crossed her arms over her chest in defiance.
Jennifer knew exactly what her daughter was doing, "Uncross those arms, young lady. They will be there tomorrow afternoon."
"But we were supposed to go to Cave of the Winds on Thursday. Can I still go?" her mind was very set on the trip.
"If they want to go then yes. You can go to the cave anytime, but your grandparents are only here for a few days," Jennifer said in a firm but soft voice.
"Fine," Stephanie said with a dramatic sigh. "I'm done," she dropped the radio and stomped over to the next room where Chrissy was reading a book. Even though she missed her parents, Steph liked that it was easy to drop the radio and walk away when they annoyed her.
"I know. No desert for her tonight and put to bed early," Rodney said with a sigh. "Chrissy and I won't go to the cave without her. Don't worry, Jen everything will be okay. This visit will go smoothly." I hope.
"I hope you are right. If you need help don't hesitate to check in," Jennifer hoped all would go well. There was so much that could go wrong and it tied her stomach in knots to think about it.
"Seriously what can go wrong? Wait don't answer that..."
"Just don't let my mother get to you. I know she is going to ask about Chrissy," It was Rodney's daughter that Jennifer was most scared about. She had a strong gut feeling that her mother would not give up on the strong resemblance between her and the child when Jennifer was the Chrissy's age. The mother knew her parents would never understand the concept of alternate universes (security clearance not withstanding) and would find the idea what Rodney was married to her from another universe and Chrissy was a product of that union bizarre.
"And all she needs to know is that I'm a widower raising my daughter by myself. The rest is none of their business. I know our situation has always been odd, but it works for us," Rodney shrugged. He never had a problem distinguishing this Jennifer from his. It was difficult in the beginning as the loss of his wife was still a raw wound, but now they were good friends. One day he might tell Chrissy the truth of where they came from, but the five year old was too young to comprehend the complexity of everything.
"And one last thing. Don't be mad, but when I told them who was watching Steph, I used your real name. They are old-fashioned and I knew it would not sit well with them that a single man was watching my daughter," Jennifer was not sure the reaction that she would receive and she braced herself for the worst.
"You've got to be kidding," came in a long whine. "So you left to me to explain. That is really messed up. Was telling them the truth so hard?" Rodney stood in the same pose Stephanie had been in moments before.
Jennifer heard the anger in his voice, "I'm sorry. I know they would think of all these worst case scenarios if they knew you were a man."
"You could have given me a bit more heads up. Am I going to have to deal with them freaking out, thinking I am some kind of pedophile that lives with lives with two young girls? Sounds bad when you say it aloud, doesn't it?" He was not letting the anger go. "It's bad enough that I get odd looks when I buy Chrissy clothes. Why is the concept of a single father raising his daughter so hard for some people to grasp? Your parents included."
Jennifer pursed her lips, angry that he was taking his foul mood out on her, but she was the one who caused it. "I know you are not some sicko."
Rodney wanted to take a page from Steph's book, "I'm done." He threw his hands up and sighed.
"I said I was sorry," she did know what else to say. It was clear that other issues were at hand and this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
"I'm just tired of the assumptions people make and you lying to your parents just fuels that. Like raising Chrissy alone is something I want to be doing?" Rodney raised his voice so that it got the attention of the two girls playing twenty feet away. The look on his daughter's face broke his heart, knowing he had worded his last line wrong. "Just forget it," he slammed the radio down and turned to his daughter who looked like she was about to cry.
"You don't want me, Daddy?" Chrissy lip quivered and tears welled up in her eyes. No child ever wants to hear their father does not want them.
The father sighed as he knelt in front of the upset child despite the intense pain in his left knee that he had surgery on six months ago, "Chrissy, baby girl. I didn't mean it like that." Rodney put his hands on Chrissy's shoulders. "I wouldn't trade you for anything. You are one of the best things that ever happened to me. I meant that I never expected it to be just me and you. I thought your mom would always be around."
"But it isn't just us. We have Steph living with us too," she said with an innocence only a child could have.
"I know that, but when her dad gets a little better it will be just us again. Besides I'm not too good at this girly stuff. I only wish we still had your mom around. I really miss her," Rodney hugged his daughter tightly.
"You do a pretty good job, My Bestest Daddy. I wouldn't trade you for anything either," Chrissy put her arms around her father the best she could.
"Bestest?" Rodney asked with a raised eyebrow. "Are you sure about that? I'm the only one you have."
Chrissy smirked impishly, "I mean the Bestest Daddy in the whole universe."
"Hmm. I'm not sure I'm really that convinced," Rodney looked over at Stephanie. "What do you say, Steph? A little tickle punishment is order?"
The other girl nodded and laughed. "Yes."
"Not fair," Chrissy whined in typical McKay fashion.
Jennifer tossed her radio aside, knowing she should never have lied to her parents about Rodney's name. She was thinking about returning to Earth to help Rodney with her parents. She needed to discuss it with Evan first. "Hey you," the torn woman sat next to her husband and took his hand. Even though the man was getting better every day, it was still a slow process.
"What's wrong?" Evan knew his wife well enough to see she was putting on a fake brave act and he knew she had just got done talking to their daughter which meant Jennifer also talked to Rodney and Chrissy. "Did something happen with Rodney?"
"I royally pissed him off," Jennifer let her face fall. "I kind of lied to my parents when I told them our friend Meredith was watching Steph while you recovered.
The man had to laugh, "That would do it. One time I called the Rodney you never met, Meredith and he dropped the temperature of my quarters to below freezing." It was a sore point with every McKay he met.
"And Steph doesn't want her grandparents visit to ruin her plans for Cave of the Winds," the mother shook her head. "It was not a good call all around."
Evan squeezed Jen's hand tightly, "How about I cheer you up?"
"How are you going to do that?" There was not much that could put Jennifer in a better mood at this point.
"This," Evan threw the covers aside and carefully slid out of the infirmary bed and stood for a minute before falling back on the bed. "Little surprise I've been working on under your nose," he said coyly.
The simple act of standing bought Jennifer to tears as it this was the first time since the attack that she had seen Evan stand. "That cheered me up," she wiped away the tears of joy.
"Now it will be no time before I can walk and run around with Steph," he reached up to brush the tears from his wife's delicate cheeks.
Jennifer encased Evan's hand with hers and drew it to her lips, "No time at all." This wasn't going to be a bad day after all.
"That's not how you do it," Evan pull his wife to him to show her how kissing your spouse was supposed to go.
To be continued...
A/ N: This is a continuation of the my response to Penelope the Perky Penguin's song fic challenge a couple months back. After some of the comments, I could not put this story to rest and this was born. All questions posted from the original will eventually be answered. And a big thanks to Shadows-of-Realm for the beta.