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24 September 2012 @ 03:41 am
[Stargate: Fiction] "Alterations" [John/Rodney, G]  
Title: Alterations
Prompt: writerverse challenge #05, prompt #04 quote by Anne Lamotte
Word Count: 1,447
Rating: G
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairings: Rodney McKay/John Sheppard
Note(s): originally written for writerverse and posted to the wv_bookclub (even though it was unfinished, itstill counted— but I just had to finish it!)
Summary: tag to “The Last Man”, alternate!Rodney manages to find some happiness as he makes a plan to save John.


“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
—Anne Lamotte

After everything that happened, no one was really all that surprised when Rodney left the SGC to take the job at a community college. They were surprised that he managed not to get himself killed by his students before the end of the first month, but anyone who actually knew Rodney knew why he’d done it.

Or, at least, they thought they did. Because Rodney himself hadn’t understood exactly why he was so determined to change the timeline until the first week of his eighth semester of teaching, when his room full of physics students had so much like a lab of Atlantis scientists that he’d turned toward the classroom doorway with his mouth open to say, “See what I have to deal with, Sheppard?”

But John wasn’t there. John was lost in a wormhole that would send him forty-some thousand years into Atlantis’s future, and Rodney suddenly missed him so much it was a physical ache. He ended class early and headed straight for his apartment, where he collapsed on the couch and stared at his collection of equation-covered whiteboards.

Even if this worked, and he found a way to send John back from the future, he, the Rodney from this timeline, would never see John again. Somehow, he’d never thought of that before, and is chest ached again.

And it was apparently the day for such revelations, because he realized a moment later that he didn’t miss Jennifer. Oh, he was still sad about her death, but mostly because she was too nice to have had something so horrible happen to her, because she’d had a family that loved her. Rodney had loved her, too, but he realized now that he hadn’t been in love with her. He didn’t think about her that often, anymore, and found he couldn’t even remember what color her eyes were.

He still remembered everything about John, right down to his stupid hair— all this time, he’d been in love with John Sheppard.

Rodney shot to his feet, ignoring the way his knees popped loudly, and began scribbling furious equations.

Manipulating time was a tremendous undertaking, and doing it so that he could send a person back several thousand years to exactly the right point in a past that would suddenly be changed was nearly impossible, but Rodney wasn’t about to let that stop him.

At first, Jeannie tried to talk him out of it, and when she couldn’t, she began to help. And while the math certainly went faster with someone to check his work, his sister’s real contribution was bringing Madison along when she came to see him. A project like this could easily have become an obsession, but in exchange for Jeannie’s math skills, he had to supply Madison with grilled cheese sandwiches and stories about Atlantis, and she was what kept him from going crazy.

He made the stories sound made-up, when she was still little. But he kept the important parts true, the people, Elizabeth, Carson, Teyla, Ronon, Sam… and John. John featured in a lot of his stories, and Rodney found that talking about him made the ache of losing him hurt a little less.

Eventually, the Stargate Program was declassified, and he could tell Madison some of the scarier stories about fighting the Wraith, and the truer ones, about the Athosians and their other allies. And as she got older, Madison started to help. She chose a college nearby and could always be counted on to suddenly ‘need’ something only her Uncle Mer could bring her at the dorms. She was just trying to get him out of his apartment, but somehow, he didn’t mind.

Madison met a boy at college, an accountant who was nowhere near good enough for her, but he made her happy, and that was all that mattered. Rodney got the third dance at her wedding, right after the groom and her father.

But she didn’t give up helping Rodney with his work. She and her husband lived nearby, halfway between him and her mother, and she came over regularly. Madison brought containers of meals he could heat up later, and went over his equations with him.

A few years later, she brought her daughter, Annie, and Rodney had a new audience for his Atlantis stories. Annie loved them just as much as her mother had, and usually begged to hear one the moment she came in the door.

When the answer finally came, it was Jeannie who found it, in a proof Madison had written using the math Rodney had invented. Rodney was in the kitchen, making grilled cheese and helping Annie with her calculus homework.

“Mer!” she breathed. “Mer, this is it!”

“What?” Annie grabbed the skillet as he raced into the other room. He looked over every number of the proof, then looked it over again. The whiteboard marker clattered to the floor as Rodney collapsed into his armchair.

“This is it,” he breathed. “I can fix it. I can fix everything.”

“But how?” asked Madison. “You said the solar flare had sent Uncle John forty-eight thousand years into the future.”

His expression fell. “I…” He snapped his fingers. “Madison! That hologram technology you’ve been working on!”

She frowned. “The one based on the hologram room in Atlantis, that uses Ancient— Uncle Mer, you’re a genius.”

Rodney grinned. “Yes, I know.” He shot to his feet, pacing across his tiny living room. “The hologram is just the beginning. Our program will be able to predict a solar flare, yes, but the right kind of solar flare might take years. We have to keep John alive until then… of course, we have to get to Atlantis first…”

Jeannie put her hand on his shoulder. “We’ve come this far, Mer. You can do this.”

“You think?” he asked.

Annie came in from the kitchen, carrying a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, which she pushed into his hand. “Eat something, Uncle Mer. We’ve got work to do.”

“We?” Rodney repeated.

All three women leveled him with a look and he raised his hands in surrender. “Okay. We.” They beamed at him and Rodney smiled back for a moment, then scowled. “So what are you standing around for? Let’s go!”

When he was Annie’s age, Rodney would never have believed that his plan only succeeded because of his friends. Madison— without consulting him, of course— enlisted Radek to help make sure the hologram would still work forty-eight thousand years later. And it was Lorne, General Lorne, commanding officer of the SGC, who authorized a civilian study of Atlantis’s Ancient technology.

“I’m going with you, Uncle Mer,” Madison said, when they had gotten the green light, and he was smart enough not to argue. It would be easier to set up the hologram with another person, and Madison was the foremost expert on Ancient technology— after Rodney himself, of course.

They stepped through the wormhole into Atlantis’s ‘gate room, and she grabbed his arm.

“It’s beautiful, Uncle Mer! It’s the perfect place for your fairy tale!”

“My what?”

Madison grinned. “When I was little, I really didn’t understand what you and Mom were working on. But the stories you told always sounded like fairy tales, and this one did, too— Uncle John being stuck in the future was like he was under an evil spell, and you were the brave prince who was going to rescue him.”

Rodney snorted. “He would be the princess in this story.”

She walked around the Gate Room, looking every inch like the little girl she once was. When she reached him again, she lowered her voice, “Uncle Mer, when… when the timeline resets, if I still grow up to be an astrophysicist, can I come to Atlantis with you and Uncle John?”

He hugged her, ignoring the Marines in the Control Room. “Absolutely,” he said. “Now, let’s get to work.”

With Madison there to help, it seemed almost easy to get the hologram initiated, to set up the solar flare program, to prepare the stasis chambers. When they were finished, Rodney stood at the window, looking out across the city.

This was it. This was what he had spent more than half his life working toward… and he’d done it. Forty-eight thousand years from now, his hologram would activate to greet John when he finally arrived, and send him back to change the past. In the corrected timeline, even Rodney himself wouldn’t know what he’d done to save John.

And, strangely, he was all right with that.

“Come on, Uncle Mer,” said Madison, softly, resting a hand on his shoulder. “You promised my daughter a dance at her wedding.”

“I did,” Rodney agreed. “Let’s go home.”


00. Sig Tag 01

Current Mood:
Accomplished, McGee, NCISaccomplished
popkin16: ♦ no ships like partnershipspopkin16 on September 24th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
I was not prepared for the emotions this ficlet gave me ♥
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Thank you! (Or sorry? Whichever you need.)
popkin16: → trace you with my fingertipspopkin16 on September 25th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
Thank you works :D
Martha: Moon Games by LaurentLavendersaffronhouse on September 24th, 2012 05:36 am (UTC)
Oh, what a comfort this story is! Rodney's happiness is so wonderful!
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 01:57 am (UTC)
Thank you!
No Whimsy, Sugar: Rodney Worktaste_is_sweet on September 24th, 2012 10:23 am (UTC)
Trying not to cry so my husband won't laugh at me. :) Fantastic story. Thank you.
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 01:57 am (UTC)
Thank you, and you're welcome!
Helenka: SGA-John&Rodney last manhelenkacan on September 24th, 2012 10:53 am (UTC)
Wah! ::glares:: It's too early in the morning for crying. I wasn't expecting the emotions reading this would create. But it's the perfect antidote to a whole bunch of things that irked me in TLM. Like Jeannie abandoning Rodney to his obsession (which follows her tendency to pursue a more mundane life). So having the continued support of three generations of family was a terrific idea; even better that Maddie had become a hologram expert. You've also expressed very succinctly how genius simply cannot operate within normal and often confining parameters of what's important in life.

The inclusion of the fairy tale allusion was a howler. Yup, John is certainly the pretty, pretty princess waiting to be saved by Rodney.

I don't know long a semester is in your fic, but it was still tangibly painful to see Rodney turn as if to make a remark to a now long missing John. But, then, the ache lessened with the idea that Rodney could talk about John, about Atlantis, with his family.

The only thing that bothered me was the fact that everyone of Rodney's family called him "Mer". I suppose he just sighed and gave up (though I simply don't like the fact that Jeannie managed to steamroll her way over HIS choice of HIS name through multiple generations).

And you've left off an "h" here:
Somehow, he’d never thought of that before, and is chest ached again.
Okay, time for rereading and a bit more GOOD crying.
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you! I was mostly fixing/explaining things that bothered me, but I'm glad you liked it.

I think Rodney's family would call him "Mer", though. My dad's name is Thomas and he goes by "Tom" but his entire family-- parents, siblings, neices & nephews-- all call him "Tommy". He's never liked that name, but that's who he is to them. And when he calls his siblings, he says "This is Tommy." So, yeah, I think Rodney gave up and went with it.

And those darn typos! I usually write drabbles and I can catch them better *pouts*
StarWatcherstarwatcher307 on September 24th, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
That is so sad-happy, and so beautiful. Well done!
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you!
george: sga rodney genius teegeorgiesmith on September 24th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
This was the best way to kick off the week. Thank you.
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you, and you're welcome!
Patpatk on September 24th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
What a great tag to this episode! I loved how you included Jeannie and the following generations of McKays and gave the Rodney in this timeline some comfort by knowing that he managed to fix what went wrong. Even if he himself could never experience the effect of it. :-)
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
Thank you!
StarbucksSuestarbuckssue on September 24th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
My heart ached for Rodney, I loved his determination in this episode and what it said about his relationship with John and this expands on that beautifully and the support he got from Jeannie, Madison and Annie was just wonderful.
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
Thank you!
rufios_girlj_2am on September 24th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
This...this is wonderful, a emotional packed wallop in such a few words. So touching. I rarely read very short fic, but I'm glad I read this lovely, lovely fairy tale. It was so nice to see Jeanie, Mads and even her daughter stand by "Uncle Mer"
Ami Venami_ven on September 25th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Aisling: SGA - Homeaislingde on September 25th, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
What a beautiful story, Rodney having a family caring for him and loving him.

Thank you!
Ami Venami_ven on September 26th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC)
Thank you, and you're welcome!
kisakisahawklin on September 25th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was lovely. Three generations of McKays, how wonderful. I also love McShep stories where one of them isn't there - and you've done it beautifully.
Ami Venami_ven on September 26th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC)
Thank you!
gg_fangirlgg_fangirl on October 21st, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
Aw. I sit here with tears in the corners of my eyes and a stupid grin on my face. Great fic!
Ami Venami_ven on October 21st, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That was kind of the reaction I was going for.
gg_fangirlgg_fangirl on October 23rd, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
Then you succeeded. :) Congratulations!