- Evil Author Day
- Rough Draft
- Character Bashing
- Death - Minor Character
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
It was two days later when Patrick next saw his eldest son. John stumbled into the kitchen, bleary-eyed and sleep tousled. He caught sight of the coffee maker and headed directly for it, making Patrick laugh.
‘Is that for you or for Rodney?’
‘Both,’ John muttered, and his father stood to help him pour the drinks since John’s right arm was still strapped to his chest. Patrick wondered for a moment how they’d managed their bonding with John so beaten up and unable to use his primary arm, then shook himself as that was heading very close to thinking about his son’s sex life, something he really didn’t want to know about.
‘Would you like me to carry one of these upstairs for you?’ Patrick asked.
‘No, thanks. I’ll take one up for Rodney then come back down to talk to you. I’m sorry we disappeared so abruptly the other evening. I…we…’
‘No need to apologise, son. We’re all thrilled you finally found your Guide and I’m very happy it’s Rodney. I’ve become very fond of him over the past year.’
‘I’ll just take this up to him and I’ll be back shortly. We do need to talk, about any number of things.’
Patrick filled his own coffee cup then started the machine again. He’d discovered over the last year that one cup of coffee was never enough for his Head of Research and he knew McKay would be demanding refills very shortly.
It was almost an hour before John reappeared and he joined his smirking father at the kitchen table, his one good hand wrapped around his own coffee cup.
‘Get waylaid?’ was all Patrick said, but it was enough to make his first born blush like a teenager.
’Shut up!’ he muttered and buried himself in the coffee cup. A couple of minutes later he raised his eyes to meet Patrick’s. ‘We barely got chance to talk the other night. I had no idea the bonding compulsion would be so strong and so immediate. The books talk about it as an instinct, but we both really felt an absolute urgency. I don’t know if it’s because we’re both so old…What! Why are you laughing?’
‘John, you’re not even 33 yet and Rodney only turned 33 a couple of days ago. Believe me, when you get to my age, you’ll look back at your thirties and think you were barely grown up.’
John gave him a humourless smile. ‘Dad, I’ve seen plenty of things that make me feel every single year of my age, and then some.’
Patrick simply put his hand over the one that gripped the coffee cup so tightly.
A couple of hours later the entire Sheppard family were gathered in Patrick’s study, along with John’s newly bonded Guide. Rodney had yet another cup of coffee in hand and John thanked his stars that as the son of a billionaire, he’d be able to keep his Guide in expensive coffee.
’So what are we doing here? I have work I need to be doing. I was hoping to get in a few hours at the lab and I hope one of you went to let my cat out.’
John smiled as his Guide continued to bitch. Rodney amused him greatly and he was so looking forward to getting to know him properly in the months and years ahead. The ease they both felt in each other’s company, even after barely fifty hours together, was immense. McKay truly was the missing part of him, and although it hadn’t been said yet, he was more than halfway in love with him.
He realised that the room had gone quiet and glanced around.
‘Yes, John-Boy, you called us all together. Now talk!’ his Guide told him.
‘I just wanted to give you all a heads up on something truly fucked up that’s very likely coming my way.’
His father and brothers all sat up at that. Matt put down the stapler he’d been fiddling with.
‘Is this to do with the phone call you got early this morning?’ Rodney asked, looking serious.
‘I’ll get to that bit, but I need to tell you a little more about how I got injured.’ John paused as he thought how to begin without giving away any classified details.
‘I think you’re all aware that I work for Special Forces Command?’ There were nods around the room. ‘I can’t give you any specific details, but I’ve been in the Middle East for some time with a unit of people I’ve known for a while and we all work well together. About a year ago I was sent a very young officer, straight out of the Academy – Air Force Academy’ he added as he saw David open his mouth.
‘Well, anyway, this young Lieutenant had no place being in the unit, but the powers that be had decided they wanted to give some first hand experience to newly minted officers. We couldn’t work out if they were expecting a massive loss of current officers or perhaps knew they would need a large number of extra officers with experience in case they needed to expand the armies. It turned out to be neither – as far as we can tell – and it was simply a case of whose daddy had the best placed friends.’ He sighed and saw that his family and Guide looked furious.
‘Tell me this kid had nothing to do with your injuries,’ Patrick ground out.
‘Sorry, Dad, I can’t do that. He was arrogant, self opinionated and pretty stupid. He barely followed orders and caused us so many problems that I asked numerous times for him to be transferred. I was turned down on each occasion. Anyway, about a month ago we were sent out to…, well, anyway, we moved to a new theatre, somewhere my Sentinel gifts would be invaluable. My whole unit, including the kid were transferred with me and we had a British Sentinel and Guide pair join us as well. The kid refused to have anything to do with them for some reason, and he shied away from much interaction with me which I didn’t mind too much, but with Rupert and Pat… He didn’t downright disobey them, that I could have handled as they were a part of the command chain, but he was skirting disobedience most of the time.’ He paused and took a drink of water.
‘About ten days ago we were in the field and he… Well, to cut a long story short, he finally disobeyed a direct order and put himself and the S and G pair in danger. I went in to attempt a rescue, but the kid got killed, and the other three of us were injured. I was the least badly injured, a simple through and through in the shoulder, a couple of cracked ribs and some cuts and bruises. We three were flown out to a hospital ship and then all flown back to the US. Pat is still in hospital after surgery, but will make a full recovery. Rupert, his Sentinel, has a compound fracture of the leg and is staying with him in Portsmouth, but I’d like to invite them both here when Pat is released if I may. Neither of them have family over here, and although they’d be well looked after, they did save my life and—’
‘John, stop.’ Patrick put his hand on that of his son. ‘You three all know that any of your friends have always been welcome here. Especially if they save your life. We’ll sort it.’
John took a deep breath. ‘So, the kid was killed and the three of us injured. The problem is, though, that the kid’s father is a Senator and is claiming that we, I, deliberately put his son in danger and that I’m the reason he was killed.’
Rodney stood up from the table and started pacing while Patrick sat bolt upright. ‘What?’
John closed his eyes and took a deep breath. ‘He’s managed to get hold of the requests I made to have his son removed from my unit and is claiming negligent homicide.’
Patrick paled and Rodney ceased his pacing in shock.
‘How likely is it that it’ll be accepted?’ he asked his Sentinel.
‘I spoke briefly with my C.O, General Jacobs, before I came home. He says it’s very unlikely to stick, but it might stall my promotion chances, and more worryingly, create problems for other Sentinels and Guides. And it’s almost certain to be used by the S and G Council as a reason why Sentinels and Guides shouldn’t serve in the general military.’
‘What?’ demanded Rodney. ‘Don’t they want Sentinels and Guides to serve at all?’
‘They want us to serve in a unique S and G branch, controlled by them,’ John told his Guide.
‘But that’s just fucking ridiculous! The government isn’t going to let them create their own fucking army!’
‘They’ll use this case as an example of what can happen if Sentinels and Guides serve with mundanes,’ Patrick murmured, then put his hands flat on his desk. ’But don’t worry, John. We’ll get the best lawyers we can and we’ll fight this fuckwit.’
‘Give me his details and I can make sure he’ll be far too busy sorting out his own crap that he’ll forget all about you. Miko can help. She hasn’t been able to ruin anyone’s life for months,’ Rodney told John in all seriousness.
Patrick glared at him. ‘Have you two been hacking into other people’s computers?’
‘Please,’ Rodney told him scathingly. ‘I haven’t ‘hacked’ anyone for years. I’m far more subtle.’
‘It was you!’ Patrick pointed at his Chief Science Officer and the three brothers exchanged looks of confusion while Rodney just pasted on a look of supreme innocence.
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
‘I wondered why the IRS never followed up their investigation. Did you do something?’
Rodney began to whistle and gaze at the ceiling while John started to laugh. David and Mattie joined in and soon they were all laughing.
We’ll get through this, John thought to himself. Together, we will get through this.
John and Rodney retired early that night and after a considerable amount of time spent exploring and deepening their new bond, they finally lay cuddled together and just talked. John learnt about Rodney’s unhappy childhood and his deep dismay at losing his sister, and John told Rodney how he came online as a Sentinel after his mother died in 1984. At hearing the date Rodney sat bolt upright.
‘5th of April, right?’ he demanded.
‘Yeah. How do you know—’
‘Because I came online the very same day. I remember feeling excited that the gene had woken in me, because my mother’s family have had it for years but no one ever came online until me. But at the same time as I was so excited, I remember feeling so worried, too. I think I realised that it would make my parents hate me even more than they already did because they’d much rather Jeannie have had the ‘live’ gene than me.’
The way Rodney said that so matter-of-factly made John hurt inside, even while he struggled to get his head around a parent hating their offspring. He’d felt the loss of his mother deeply, as they all did. Hell, Mattie had only been six years old and didn’t really understand where or indeed why his Mummy had gone. He reached up to tug his Guide back down and tightened his good arm around him, while thanking God that his parents had both loved he and his brothers with all their hearts.
The more time they spent together, John realised, the more of Rodney’s emotions he began to feel. He’d been told about this when he first came online, that the emotions of one would bleed out over the other, but he hadn’t fully understood it. Now he did, and he could feel Rodney’s anger and hurt at the treatment of his family and John vowed to himself to do everything he could to protect and shelter his mate. However, even as he thought that he felt Rodney pinch his arm and he scowled at his Guide.
‘What was that for?’
‘I’m not some girl, you know!’
‘Believe me, I know very well that you’re not a girl,’ John responded wickedly, and nipped Rodney’s neck with his teeth.
‘Stop it you, you caveman!’ Rodney squawked, all the while twisting his neck for John’s better access. ‘I meant that I don’t need sheltering.’
John stopped his kissing and frowned down at Rodney. ‘You actually got ‘sheltering’ through our bond? I had no idea it would come over so clearly. Is it because we’re so close physically?’
‘I have no idea, but this is not the time for talking. You started this and you’d just better finish it,’ Rodney told him, glancing down at the erection that John’s kissing and nipping had awoken.’
‘A moment ago you were telling me to stop.’
‘Yeah, well, you’ll learn that my mouth is often not on the same track as the rest of me. It’s got me into a lot of trouble sometimes, but right now, less talking and more kissing…and stuff,’ Rodney mumbled as he buried his face in John’s neck.
When John awoke the following morning he was alone in his bed. The pillow beside him was cool and he realised his Guide had been up a while, even though it was only 7am. The dressings on his arm needed changing so he decided to have a shower while they were off, but after struggling to get his boxers and pants on, went to find someone to help him with his bandages and shirt. After knocking on the doors of each of his brothers, he tried his fathers room and was relieved to hear a call to ‘come in, for heaven’s sake’. Grinning in relief – it was a large house to search in unfastened jeans and no shirt – he entered his father’s bedroom for the first time in a number of years.
‘Dear God, John! Are you sure you should be out of bed,’ were the words that greeted him.
John glanced at the wound on his shoulder and the bruises on his chest, then looked guiltily at his father.
‘It looks worse than it really is.’
‘Do I need to call a doctor?’
‘Nah, I know you have some first aid training, hell you lived with a nurse for sixteen years, some of it must have rubbed off!’
‘Come and sit down here, then,’ Patrick motioned towards a bench at the foot of his bed.
As his father examined the wound very carefully, John realised just how different his relationship with his father was to Rodney’s non-relationship with his only living relative, his sister. From what his Guide had said, they’d never really got on. Rodney was excluded from the family unit his parents and Jeannie formed, and although he’d tried hard to do his best for her after the death of their parents, she’d eventually turned her back on him. Rodney had tried to be fair to her while he was explaining this to John, telling him he knew he was arrogant and petty and that he’d tried to browbeat his sister into a graduate degree, but John had been able to read between the lines, and, moreover, he had access to Rodney’s emotions through their bond, and he could feel the guilt and sadness and hurt his Guide was experiencing while he spoke of his sister.
‘Am I hurting you?’ Patrick asked when John was silent for so long.
‘Hmmm? No, no, sorry, Dad, I was just thinking, that’s all.’
‘Penny for them?’
‘You and Mum loved all of us, right?’
Patrick sat down, abruptly. ‘John! Of course we did! We loved all of you. I still do. What’s brought this on? Did I say something—’
‘No, God no! Dad, I’m sorry,’ John interrupted. ‘No. I, we, we know you loved us, love us. It’s just… Rodney was telling me about his family. He’s quite frank about the fact that they hated him, but I know it cuts him up inside to even admit it to himself. I can feel his emotions through our bond, but I’m struggling to understand how a parent can hate their child.’
Patrick was silent for so long that John began to worry.
Patrick gave him a small, sad smile. ‘It’s okay, son. I was just thinking about your mother. She adored you boys, even when you were little hellions. Mattie didn’t sleep for what seemed like months when he was a baby and I was away at sea for most of that time so Mary had to cope with him alone. Even when she hadn’t slept for days on end and was almost at the end of her tether, she still loved all of you with every part of her being. I couldn’t even imagine what would have made her change her mind on that.’
‘I remember getting up in the night and holding Mattie and sitting in that rocking chair Granny B gave you when I was born. I used to sit and rock him and he’d eventually fall asleep, but if I put him down, he wake and start to yell again.’
Patrick laughed ‘He did that for your mum and I as well, in fact you were the best with him. As soon as he was able to crawl he’d do his damnedest to follow you around.’
John laughed as well. ‘I thought he’d never outgrow that. I should remind him of it sometime.’ He paused and sobered. ‘I never for one moment felt you didn’t love us, any of us, even when we were doing things you considered we shouldn’t. Mum used to say ‘I might not like you very much right now, but I’ll never stop loving you’ and I never doubted her and though I probably didn’t say it enough, I loved her too. It just hurts me that Rodney could never feel that. I want to go and find his parents and kill them all over again.’
‘Me too, son, me too.’