Rating? Oh, G def. G.
Betaed? No, sorry. L’s poorly sick, poor wee pet and L’s busy, busy, busy at University and verrrry quiet.
The continuing adventures of Flyboy, Squirrel and Cranky Pants.
Grant gambolled down the corridor, imagining the bright sparkle of scintillating butterflies flowing in his wake. This was a good place to be in mind, body and spirit. He stopped dead on the crack where two tiles met and peered at a column of water stretching from floor to ceiling. Inner illumination turned the rising air bubbles into silvery orbs.
He loved Atlantis.
It was easy to spin on his heel, arms swinging, and head straight for the gym. Carefully poking his head around the open door, he found the source of his sudden hunt. Flyboy tried to strike Vit e’ Emm-gen with his sticks as she danced around him. The little sharp snaps of their sticks connecting made Grant jump. Teyla flowed to the left, circled and bestowed a sharp slap to Flyboy’s rump. Grant winced with him.
“You are not--”
Grant didn’t get the last word, but judging on the colonel’s chagrined air, it was an accepted rebuke.
“Hey, Squirrel.” He twirled his sticks, relaxing into an open position and smiled.
Teyla attacked. There was a definite squeal as John was driven backwards, step by relentless step. The wall was coming up fast behind him. Grant brought his hands up over his eyes, blocking out the inevitable, complete and utter defeat.
A clatter, smack and a yelp and it was over. Grant peeked through his fingers. Pouting, John was rubbing his butt again.
“You don’t have to hit that hard.”
Teyla’s eyebrow rose elegantly. No words were necessary.
John spun his sticks with an added twirl -- Grant guessed there was some sort of special word for them, but sticks worked –-and stuck both under his right arm.
“Grant, exploring again? Rodney asleep?” he said in familiar shorthand.
Grant nodded. Rodney was sleeping a lot, it was -- as he had been told -- to be expected and nothing to worry about. He cast a surreptitious glance at Vit e’ Emm-gen as she collected her gym equipment.
Shuffling into the room, staying close to the wall, he blurted out, “What is it like talking to her?” He waved a hand encompassing the blocky walls, the amber windows, arching ceiling – the City.
“To Atlantis?” Flyboy’s face twisted making Grant wince. “Oh, Grant, don’t… it’s complicated.”
“Complicated?” Grant couldn’t help but persist, even as he watched John fretfully twist fingers into his sweaty hair.
Teyla had paused in her packing, evidently interested in the answer.
“I don’t ‘talk’ to her per se, it’s--” he thumped a fist over his heart, “-- it’s a sense of completion, rightness, when she… when…” his voice petered away.
Grant waited patiently, but no more words were forthcoming. A red blush darkened the exercise flush staining Flyboy’s cheeks and he glanced to the left, finding the landscape of Atlantis suddenly fascinating.
“Coffee?” Grant offered in the face of that unease.
“Yeah, coffee, great.”
Carefully holding an overfilled mug of milky coffee, Grant shuffled into Rodney’s quarters.
Rodney was ensconced like an emperor on a throne (and a fed-up one at that) on his bed. Back piled up with pillows and a blanket over his lap, he was comfortably situated. The air in the room could, however, only be called edgy.
“Coffee!” Rodney rasped and clicked his fingers. Dutifully, Grant gave the irascible convalescent his caffeine fix (cut with full fat milk and a third of decaf).
Rodney immediately slurped, knowing from the last few days that by the time that it arrived it was at drinking temperature.
“This sucks,” Rodney groused. He was foul tempered since normally force and drive drew him back to his lab. after allergy attacks and sprains, following the bare minimum of recovery period. This time Rodney had taken a hit with a ten ton wet sandbag; he wasn’t bouncing back. Oh, he was recovering, step by step, as predicted by the medical professionals, but joie de vivre had left the building.
Rodney set the mug aside with a careful sigh -- too deep a breath triggered eye-watering coughs.
“What have you been up to today?” Rodney whispered.
“Exploring.” Grant puttered around Rodney’s room. He knew the nooks and crannies, where Rodney hid the chocolate and the coffee and also the sugar free mints. He knew the dust bunnies, Fred and Reginald under the bed. The display of awards across the wall. Setting the invalid table across Rodney’s bed brought a gleam to his eye.
“What have you got?” Rodney asked.
It said something about the slow recuperation that Rodney hadn’t noticed the hard drive that Grant had dropped by earlier in the day, knowing that carrying Rodney’s evening treat of a giant mug of coffee took two hands.
Laptop followed hard drive, angling it just so, so that they could both see the flat screen. Grant plonked down beside Rodney ignoring his habitual whinge and shuffled in. Rodney shifted to the left, closer to the wall, making room.
The laptop recognised the hard drive. Reaching, Grant opened Windows Explorer and an array of files was displayed.
“The mother load,” Rodney breathed. “Oh, we can’t tell anyone about this. How did you get half of these? They haven’t been released. You’ve got Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Holy --” Rodney curved into coughing, whooping into the pain.
“No. no.” Grant tried to help, but could only circle an arm around his shoulders and hold. The coughing curled both their toes. Finally finding breath, Rodney pushed off Grant and sagged, dropping a heavy head down between his shoulders.
Grant felt Rodney’s forehead, but while clammy, it wasn’t overly warm. Rodney irritably batted at his hand, fending him off.
“Water,” he ordered and immediately received. Sipping, he stayed, folded up. “This sucks, this sucks like a sucking black…” he stopped, favouring breathing over berating.
Grant waited patiently. He was good at patient. It was the quintessence of gathering data to make robust models. Sipped out, Rodney proffered his glass, until Grant took it and set it aside.
“Sheppard,” Rodney mouthed pointing at the ear piece hooked over Grant’s ear. “Sheppard!”
Grant obeyed, clicking their private frequency.
“Yes?” John drawled. “I hear clicking. Grant is that you?”
Rodney nodded, and then pointed his chin at the computer.
“Squirrel? Where are you? Rodney’s room?”
“Yes.” Grant managed. He didn’t really like the mike around his ear, concerned about radio waves close to his delicate temporal bone and the brain beneath. He didn’t need his brain scrambled.
“Coming,” John said sharply.
Rodney reached for the mike. Adroitly, Grant leaned out of reach. “Bring snacks.”
“What?” There was the skittering of feet coming to an abrupt halt.
“Chips?” John echoed. “And dips?”
“That would be nice.”
“Chips and dips, it is,” he said much more sedately,
The door seemed to open a moment later. The colonel stood in the threshold, movie-sized bag of chips in one hand and a jar of garishly red salsa in the other.
He held them up, cockily. “As ordered.”
Grant was already shuffling further over the bed, forcing Rodney against the wall. Still erring on the side of not talking, Rodney could only mutter as he gave space. Grant patted the bare edge of mattress that was freed, in invitation.
“Party?” John finally entered the room, letting the door close behind him.
Rodney pointed at the computer screen.
Eyeing the meagre portion of space and the dearth of chairs, John settled for clearing the bedside table and pushing it up against the mattress. A liberated pillow from behind Rodney served as a seat. He dumped the packet of chips on Grant’s lap.
“What we got?” John licked his lips as Grant flicked the mouse shutting off the screen saver. “Ooh, shiny.”
“Okay, that was fun. The fight scenes were great,” John whispered as the credits rolled. “But… Anakin, you’re breaking my heart,” he mocked.
Grant’s lips curled in his shy smile. “I think that I would like to be a Jedi,” he whispered.
“Light sabre? Cool. Being a rebel pilot would be cool, too.” John craned his head and peered around Grant’s bulk. Rodney had inevitably slumped like a bag of potatoes against the wall. Head canting forward, his mouth was open as he breathed lightly but regularly. “Out for the count.”
Grant chuckled quietly. “We will have to watch it again.”
“Not really a hardship,” John observed. “Rodney won’t protest if we fast forward through the relationship stuff. Or set it up in the rec room. I’ll drink beer and go potty during the boring parts.”
“Yeah, hall on level seven, has a plasma-like television, soft chairs, table. Sits about twelve-fifteen comfortably, twenty five at a push.”
“You need a bar,” Grant said sagely. “A place where lots of people can go after work.”
“I’ve said that before. And I’ll say it again.” John grinned at Rodney’s cousin. “It’s not a dry mission, by any sense, but we’ve never really even discussed it. Now were getting more personnel, I guess it’s time to raise it in one of Elizabeth’s discussion sessions. A designated bar room might be an idea. We normally just hang out in the canteen.”
“Like the party when we arrived here. The punch was blue,” Grant said apropos of nothing.
“Liquor made from Adynt fruits. It’s nice enough, can’t beat a beer at the end of the day, though.”
“No beer here.” Grant scanned the room as if he expected a four pack to materialise on the computer desk in the corner.
“Oh, there’s beer. It’s brewed on the mainland. It’s heavy, though. It’s not refreshing. The Athosians make a hard cider from a sour pear thing. That’s okay.”
The door swooshed open, both men leaned over to the right to see the doorway clearly when no one was revealed. Mr. Jinx padded on white tipped toes into the room.
“I thought Carson asked you to look after Mr. Jinx? To stop him coming near Rodney, to protect Rodney’s lungs or something?”
Grant lowered his brows and stared at John chidingly. Like that was going to happen. John snorted. Jinx sauntered in, skirting the edge of the bed, but not coming near the men.
Grant shrugged as Mr. Jinx remained aloof, heading for the window to jump up and sit on the sill.
“A cat’s a cat,” he said philosophically.
“Hey, I’m going to book, okay?” John stood, turning back to pick up the pillow. His ass was a little numb. It was getting late, and he was usually early to bed, early to rise. “Do you need any help with Rodney?”
Grant rolled off the bed into the space that John had made. The dip of the bed disturbed Rodney. He shifted, face twisting blearily. John swung the invalid table away rescuing the laptop and hard drive before he could kick it off the bed.
“Sleep, sleep,” Grant cajoled, pulling back Rodney’s quilt scrunching it up at the end of the bed.
Rodney grumbled at the cooler air, shifting down the bed. Swiping out with one hand, he threw a gaggle of pillows onto the floor. Punching the final one into submission, he flopped sideways, face planting onto it. He never even opened his eyes.
“You going to leave his bathrobe on?” John asked, pushing the table up by the computer desk. He absently slapped the lid down, setting the computer to stand by.
Grant nodded even as he tugged at one of Rodney’s socks and then the other, revealing long, knobbly toes.
“He doesn’t like his feet to get too hot,” Grant volunteered. “Never did.”
That was just the sort of weird-assed thing that Grant always seemed to know. Plainly practiced, he caught up the quilt, shaking it out and letting it drape down.
“You’re a good big brother,” John said softly.
Grant smiled bashfully, ducking his chin. “Do you have a big brother?”
“Do we leave Mr. Jinx with Rodney?” John said at exactly the same as Grant spoke.
Both turned to look at the cat. Jinx viewed them inscrutably, sitting sphinx-like. Absently, John rubbed the final scabby remnants on the back of his hand and stuffed his hands deep in his pockets.
“Dander,” Grant said cryptically. Fearless, he ambled over, already reaching for Mr. Jinx. Hanging loosely, Jinx draped over his arm, neither helping nor hindering.
“Go ‘way,” Rodney grumbled, twisting onto his side.
John jerked his head to the door.