: The Bobby Newman FactorAuthor
: ClockstopperFandom and Pairing
: SGA, John/RodneyRating
: PG-13 for swear words and suchPrompt
: Character StudyWarnings
: Pretty vague spoilers for most of season one. See vagueNotes
: This is my jumping back onto the John/Rodney bandwagon, only to most likely jump off it again with another Rodney/Lorne fic that I'm working on. God figure. Also McMinville is a real small town, but it's located in Oregon. Summary
: “Oh my god, he’s going to kill me isn’t he. He’s going to kill me and stuff my body into a freezer and no one will ever know because you live in a town called McMinville.”
John and Rodney go visit John's dad.
John hadn’t grown up with any brothers or sisters, but he was compared to other kids growing up. Bobby Newman was one of those kids that John had to know because their fathers knew each other and were highly influential officers in the Army. Bobby was a spoiled little brat. He had everything he could possibly want. His mother was the type that knew exactly what came with being a military man’s wife and kept her mouth shut for the most important things.
Bobby’s dad, at the time Colonel Edward Newman, believed heavily in toughening a boy up and making him play various sports and giving him the best of everything. Bobby acted like he was entitled to things. John, being raised mostly by his mother who didn’t know the first thing about being a military man’s wife and thus acted out when she saw fit, wasn’t anything like Bobby. John was quiet and polite and always apologized for his behavior.
John was good at a lot of things. Math being one of those things. He knew how to manipulate the numbers in just the way that he wanted them manipulated. His father just didn’t understand why his son was so nerdy. So John tried to be the best man that his father wanted. When high school hit, John tried out for every sport available and was pretty good at most of them.
But Bobby Newman was the star at every sport he tried out for. Good and cocky and John was still compared to little Bobby Newman, only this time John had done spectacularly bad in math that he didn’t even have that to fall back on.
And when John joined the Air Force, Bobby had already been in the Marines and was off to what looked like a promising military career. John would come home to listen to old General Edward Newman and his father go on and on about what new great thing Bobby had done and how he was running whole battalions by himself. John just sat around idly doodling fighter planes on every available writing surface.
John’s mother had been supportive in a way that John could lean on when he needed to, but there wasn’t anything like gaining the approval of your father when you were a little boy. Clearly Bobby Newman had the approval of his and John’s father.
So when Atlantis had presented itself… John took it into serious consideration. He’d already tarnished his reputation with his father by that point what with the whole Black Mark incident and his mother had been dead for a little over a year as well. Here was a place with no Bobby Newman to be compared to. Here was a place where he could just be John Sheppard and possibly fit in. He was almost glad the coin had decided to send him through the gate.
“He’s not gonna like… kill me is he?” Rodney paced around nervously.
They were at the airport on their way to Texas. Four long years on Atlantis since the whole siege thing, battling against the Wraith with never a day off and someone had decided to point out that both John and Rodney were looking a little frazzled around the edges. Elizabeth had immediately sent the both of them on the Daedelus for a much needed two-week vacation on Earth. John thought Texas was as good a place as any to start their vacation.
“Why would he kill you?” John asked.
Secretly, he’d been thinking something along those lines as well, but he’d never tell Rodney that.
“How about the fact that I’m gaying it up with his only son?” Rodney said with that edge of hysteria in his voice that John had learned to ignore over the years.
John tried to roll his eyes in a flippant manner, but ended up biting his bottom lip instead. Rodney eyes went widen and his mouth quivered a little. If he hadn’t looked absolutely panicked, John might have thought it was cute.
“Oh my god, he’s going to kill me isn’t he. He’s going to kill me and stuff my body into a freezer and no one will ever know because you live in a town called McMinville.”
John scowled. Rodney had been making fun of his almost home town for awhile now and it was starting to get a little irritating.
“McMinville isn’t that bad.”
“Oh please if that isn’t the hickest sounding town in all of the United States then I really don’t know what is.”
“I did okay there.”
“Well you’re the rare exception. Now, back to this whole killing business.”
“He’s not going to kill you, Rodney.” John said though his voice was a little unsteady.
Truth was, John didn’t have a clue what his father’s reaction would be. John had told him about Rodney, but it was kind of hard to keep that thing a secret considering their lives had been pasted onto the fronts of tabloids for the last three months.
It wasn’t John’s fault really. Rodney had warned him that they’d have to keep their relationship quiet if they wanted to survive the whole unveiling of the Stargate program and it’s various branches. This of course included the Atlantis expedition.
Reporters and world leaders and people of that nature had all piled in through the Stargate. John and Rodney and Elizabeth and Carson had stood in a line at the top of the stairs that led from the control room to the gate room posing a united front. John had smiled charmingly at them. Rodney had held up his chin in an arrogant sort of way. Elizabeth gave her best ‘I’m a diplomat, I know how to be cordial’ look. Carson looked like he wanted to vomit.
They’d answered questions, some a little more long winded in their answers then others. They gave the five cent tour, John making various things light up just to hear them go ‘oooh’. They showed them all the weapons and scientific things, Rodney standing proud at their discoveries while Carson stuttered through some simple explanations. They’d done everything right.
Except, of course, they didn’t really think that their every move was being monitored. And so, when the reporters and world leaders left through the gate, because they’d searched and searched and their searches found them three working ZPMs, none of the four expected their lives, and the lives of various Atlantis crew members, to be plastered on the morning news.
Reports that Weir and Caldwell were in some sort of love hate relationship that involved various forms of weird sex made it onto Star magazine. Similar things were said about Carson and Laura Cadman. As if the sex lives of the people were important. But the big shocker, the one that no one saw, was the posting of a very fuzzy, but somehow very recognizable, picture of Rodney and John making out in a deserted hallway with the headline ‘Military Man not Afraid to Break the Archaic Rules’.
It caused a field day in Washington and Rodney had been very close to hypoglycemic shock that whole week from not eating properly and worrying himself. John internalized his fear, Elizabeth backing him up and surprisingly, Caldwell standing up for him as well. John had joked, much, much later that that had been Elizabeth’s doing.
John still remembered his conversation with General O’Neill.
“Better you than me.”
That was all O’Neill said and John was left to find out that major changes had been made in the army through a Marine who came up and hugged him and thanked him for being the starter of something huge. Apparently DADT had been ‘temporarily’ deemed unnecessary when it came to the Atlantis mission.
John’s dad had simply requested to meet Rodney. It had been one eerie letter.
“Yes, yes he’s going to kill me and then try and send you to some camp where they’ll brainwash you into thinking you’re bad and try and get you to see God’s way or something.” Rodney said.
“Rodney, even if he did want to kill you, which I don’t think he does, do you really think he’d get away with it. We’re like… important.” John said.
John was almost surprised that they weren’t being bombarded by reporters or photographers. A few months ago they were dying to get pictures and comments from both him and Rodney. John guessed that some celebrity doing something outrageous probably outshined them. He was just glad they weren’t there.
“Oh that’s a ringing endorsement for him not killing me.” Rodney said sarcastically.
“Rodney, you’ve gone up against nanoviruses, a 10,000 year old super-Wraith and whatever terrors the Pegasus galaxy has thrown at us. How could you be afraid of my dad?”
Rodney got quiet and looked like he was in thought.
“I knew what to do in those situations.” Rodney said.
John snorted and cocked his eyebrow.
“Okay, so I mostly knew what to do in those situations. I mean I knew I’d be able to figure something out. This… this is new territory for me.” Rodney said.
“So, you’d rather take nanoviruses over my dad?”
“Any day of the week.”
“That’s how I felt growing up.”
They arrived at John’s dad’s house on a Sunday afternoon, the Texas air crispy and hot and suffocating. The drive from the big city where the airport was located to the house in McMinville was a three-hour drive. Rodney had taken it upon himself to complain during the whole drive, but to John, Rodney’s never ending stream of complaints was the perfect background noise to John’s insanely fast driving. You didn’t get to be with someone for almost five years and not learn how to deal with him or her.
When they got to McMinville, Rodney tried to keep his comments on how cliché the town was to the barest minimum. John really appreciated it. The house was still just as John remembered it, white with dark blue trim. The porch had wooden floor and was surrounded by brick. The front door was wide open and the screen was closed. The porch swing idly swayed in the breeze.
Rodney said it looked nice and John just nodded. Rodney didn’t like to talk about his childhood much. He merely stated that his parents were insane and yelled and his sister was almost normal and married with three kids. John had met her once via web cam set up. She seemed like a nice enough woman. John wondered if they would visit her during their vacation.
“Hey, dad, you here?” John called from behind the screen door.
When he got no answer, he opened the door and walked inside.
“Aren’t you gonna wait to see if he’s home? What if he thinks you’re some sort of intruder and shoots you.” Rodney asked.
John rolled his eyes.
“You’re right about one thing when it comes to small towns… there isn’t really much crime. Now my dad may be a General, but he’s not gonna think someone is breaking into his open home. Besides I think he may be out back.” John said.
“Whatever you say.” Rodney grumbled.
They walked into the seemingly empty house and looked around. John walked in front, Rodney close behind him. They made their way to the back of the house, big sliding glass doors separating the kitchen from the backyard.
It was in that moment that John felt like he was fourteen years old again.
Standing outside throwing a football and looking impossibly younger than the last time John had seen him, was Bobby Newman. His lovely wife was seated at the patio table along with General Newman and his wife and John’s dad. Bobby was playing with his four kids, all boys and smiling about something.
“John, is there a reason we’ve stopped?” Rodney asked.
He didn’t ask about the scene outside, but John felt like he was going to.
“If we leave now we can make it to Houston in two hours and get a hotel there and come back tomorrow.” John said turning to Rodney.
“John, it took us three hours, three very long hours I might add with you driving like a maniac, to get here. What is the big deal? So you’re dad forgot that you were coming and invited people over. Maybe he did it for you.”
And that was just the kind of thing his father would do. His father would think that John would love to see Bobby and his perfectly family with his perfect kids. All the while General Newman could rub it in John’s face that Bobby was so successful and powerful and probably throw in a few jibes about the whole Atlantis DADT situation. He’d more than likely sneer at Rodney and John throughout the whole meal.
“Just trust me on this Rodney. We want to get as far away from here as…”
“Oh look, John’s here.”
John was doomed.
When John was a junior in high school he had a report on Gettysburg. It was the one time he had decided to say ‘screw it’ and not do it. He must have been asleep when the teacher said they’d be giving their reports orally even if they had nothing prepared.
John had stood up in front of thirty of his peers and stuttered through the facts that he knew about Gettysburg, which weren’t nearly enough for two whole minutes of talking. It had been one of the more embarrassing moments of his life.
And sitting at the patio table of his old home with his dad and the Newman’s and Bobby Newman with Rodney was just another one of those embarrassing moments in the life of Jonathan Joseph Sheppard.
“So, John, aliens. That must be exciting.” Bobby said.
He could just imagine Rodney was suppressing the urge to roll his eyes and howl at the top of his lungs. They’d had to field the stupid questions before and Rodney had just gotten to the point where it bothered him less.
“It keeps me on my toes.” John said.
“It’s just amazing that they kept something like that secret for so long. I mean you gotta wonder what else they been keeping from us.” Bobby’s wife, Joan, said.
“Yes, well had the scientist had it there way the US would have been leaking out information about the SGC for years, but well as you can see… they didn’t.” Rodney said.
It was a hot button subject with Rodney.
“I think the military knew what it was doing.” General Newman said.
Mrs. Newman merely shook her head.
“So how’d you end up with the job anyway John. Last I heard you had six months left in your career. McMurdo not exciting enough for you?” Bobby said.
He’d meant it in a teasing way, but with Bobby Newman, nothing would ever be teasing to John. He gritted his teeth and put on his best charming smile. He didn’t even have to look over at Rodney to know he was frowning.
“Just my luck I guess.” John answered cryptically.
The truth was it was just pure luck that John had landed upon the best thing that ever happened to him. Oh sure Atlantis was filled with life sucking aliens and less than happy natives, but it was a city that lit up under his finger tips and paid attention to his every whim. The people on Atlantis were his family. Atlantis was his home.
“Oh please, he underestimates his importance. Colonel Sheppard was a vital part of us even making it in the Pegasus galaxy.” Rodney said beaming slightly.
John couldn’t help it. When that smile was aimed at him, John couldn’t help but smile back.
“I don’t get it. Are you supposed to be the boyfriend?” General Newman asked.
Rodney looked affronted.
“Yes.” He said simply.
John was watching his father, who was staring intently at Rodney.
“Well, it’s just… you called him Colonel Sheppard right now. Not very loving.”
The truth was Rodney calling him Colonel actually became somewhat of a term of endearment in their little world. Rodney didn’t do baby or sweetheart or honey. On fact he outright refused. And besides, he could get away with calling John Colonel sweetly without anyone saying anything. Not that anyone in Atlantis really cared about it.
“You have to know Rodney to understand.” John said.
General Newman merely raised an eyebrow.
“So how long have you two been dating, if you don’t mind me asking?” Joan asked.
John smiled at her. He remembered Joan from high school. She’d been the complete opposite of who John thought Bobby Newman would end up with. She was sweet and pleasant and not a cheerleader. She was pretty smart, but not as smart as the nerds of the school. She was just a kid going to high school, much like John was.
She was trying to make things seem normal. She was trying to keep it from getting too tense and weird and John really had to thank her for that.
“Oh, what, like five years now?” John said looking over to Rodney for help.
“At least. It was after the whole intergalactic space whore incident and before the two Elizabeths thing.” Rodney said.
“You know you can call her Chaya.”
“I’m perfectly fine calling her the intergalactic space whore, thank you very much, Kirk.”
“You know she did help us that one time.”
“Yeah after Daniel had to get Oma to tell her she wouldn’t get kicked out of the club if she did. And lets face it she was basically panting when she saw you.”
John could feel the whole table’s eyes on them as they bickered. Chaya still brought up some sore points for Rodney as did a few others.
“My, you two certainly have had some adventures.” Joan said.
“Well you don’t get to be in another galaxy with evil space vampires and weird natives without a few stories.” Rodney said.
“Yeah, we got loads of them.” John said.
“Some not as pleasant as the others. I mean it’s a wonder neither of us has died.” Rodney muttered.
“Died? It’s that dangerous huh?” Bobby asked.
“Oh extremely dangerous. I mean we’re in another galaxy where anything could happen. For a whole year we were cut off from contacting Earth. Lost a lot of good people that year.” Rodney said.
John knew those deaths still haunted Rodney. Knew that the deaths since hadn’t made it any easier. Rodney was a scientist. He wasn’t prepared for death.
“And they let a Lieutenant Colonel take care of all that?” General Newman asked.
John plastered on another fake smile, but Rodney practically sneered at him.
“Some of the best people in the Stargate program are Lieutenant Colonels.” Rodney said.
John knew he was talking about Samantha Carter who had just recently given up off-world travel for a job at area 51 and Cameron Mitchell who was still running SG-1 with his usual gusto. Daniel Jackson had left for a desk job sometime before Sam and Teal’c had gone off to finish what was left of the Jaffa rebellion and help organize. Didn’t stop Mitchell from running the new recruits ragged.
“But Generals run things.” General Newman said.
“Well I suppose in the political sense. Of course General O’Neill’s just there because he’s a veteran of the Stargate program.” Rodney said.
“What about General Landry? He runs that… SGC I think you call it.”
“General Landry does run the SGC, but he put John in charge of the Atlantis expedition. He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t have complete faith in him.” Rodney said.
John bit his lip. Landry hadn’t had complete faith in him. He’d been ready to hand the job over to Caldwell who had wanted it at the time. It was Elizabeth’s faith and surprisingly Jack O’Neill’s as well that got John the job. And considering O’Neill had been out in the front lines, John considered it a huge compliment.
“Just seems strange that after all this fighting against these space vampires and they haven’t at least made him a full bird Colonel.”
“No body on Atlantis cares about John’s rank.” Rodney said.
Well that wasn’t entirely true. Major Lorne seemed to take great offense to it, but John got the feeling that was because they wouldn’t promote him. They couldn’t have two Lieutenant Colonels.
“Oh, Rodney was your name right, everyone in the military cares about rank.” General Newman said.
“Atlantis is different.” Rodney said stubbornly.
“I’m sure it is, but that doesn’t stop the obvious. John, you would probably love to get promoted wouldn’t you?” General Newman asked.
“Well, sure.” John answered honestly.
“See, everyone wants to move up in the ranks when it comes to the military. You wouldn’t be able to understand. It’s a military thing, where you’re just a scientist.” General Newman said.
“Just a scientist! I’ll have you know that you’re ass wouldn’t even be here today if it wasn’t for ‘just scientists’ like me.” Rodney said.
“I’m merely stating that you can’t understand the ranking system because you’re already at the top. Why I bet it just get’s on John’s nerves that Bobby here is up for promotion to General.”
It was probably a ruse just to get to the point where he could point out that Bobby was going to be a General. Just to shove it in John’s face that Bobby wasn’t accomplishing amazing defeats in an almost MacGyver way and he was still doing better than John was. It was probably also meant to rile Rodney.
“Well that’s good for Bobby, but when was the last time he faced down a 10,000 year old Wraith with nothing but a gun and a few magazine clips. When was the last time Bobby flew a puddlejumper with an atomic bomb strapped to it on a suicide mission Hmm… I don’t think Bobby’s done any of that.” Rodney said.
“No one’s saying John hasn’t been brave, Rodney. I’m merely saying that apparently what he’s done hasn’t merited promotion.”
Rodney’s eyes narrowed in that way that was only reserved for the stupidest of scientists and when he was trying to be brave against the Wraith. John had seen that look before and he knew it meant Rodney was pretty pissed.
“You know what, its Dr. McKay to you.” Rodney said getting out of his chair and marching off into the house.
John followed after him.
He found Rodney sitting in the car, the backseat and John had been with Rodney a couple of times to Earth to know that when Rodney was in the backseat it meant he was thinking. John sighed and opened the door to the seat next to him.
“I told you we should have made a run for Houston.”
“Does that asshole really think he’s right? I never thought I’d meet someone that incredibly stupid.”
“It’s just the way they are, Rodney.”
“Your dad didn’t even say anything. Here I was worried he was going to kill me and instead he has friends over that berate you. I’m not very happy about that.” Rodney said.
“I was really hoping this whole thing would go smoothly. That I was just panicking for nothing.” Rodney said.
“Nothing goes smoothly when it involves my dad and the Newmans.” John said.
They were quiet for a few minutes before Rodney started talking.
“I mean it’s one thing if I call into question your intelligence level, but I’d never demean anything you’ve done in Atlantis. You know you’ve kept the place afloat, right?” Rodney said looking at him with pleading eyes.
“Of course I know I’ve done a good job. But you’ve really kept the placing working properly.”
“Why do you think I do that? My self-preservation aside… I do it for you. For everyone on Atlantis. I’ve never been good at relationships dealing with family, but Atlantis… everyone there… that’s where we belong.” Rodney said.
“Yeah, it is. I suddenly can’t wait to get back there.”
Rodney nodded and leaned into John, his head resting on John’s shoulder.
“I love you. I love everything you do. You’re worth a thousand Bobby Newman’s.” Rodney said contently.
John smiled, his head turned into Rodney’s hair and his arm hanging on Rodney’s waist.
“Of course, this does explain your issues.”
“I do not have issues.”
“Please, you and Atlantis are the biggest attention whores I’ve ever met. It’s no wonder you get along so well. I’m sure Kate knows the clinical terms.”
John just smiled.
It was sometime after the Newman’s left, that John’s dad sat them down and asked a few vague questions. Rodney was still miffed and ended up going to bed early. John thought it was for the best. Rodney had been working hard lately.
“He seems nice.” General Joseph Sheppard said.
John nodded. He looked up at his father, who looked all of his sixty-three years. John didn’t look much like his father. He had his father’s eyes and that was about it. Joseph Sheppard was a tall bulky man, whereas John had always been somewhat gangly and lean. His hair was a light brown that was now filled with mostly gray.
“He is nice… once you get used to him.”
“He’s just the type of person I pictured you falling in love with. Someone like your mother.”
John nodded again because sometimes Rodney did remind him of his mother. Stubborn and strong willed and extremely clever were definitely traits they had in common.
“I’m sorry about earlier John. They just… came over. I ran into old Edward at the hardware store and it slipped that you were coming. He just… invited himself over. I think I knew what he was planning. Old habits.” Joseph said.
“I don’t think it bothered me as much as it did Rodney. He’s taken a lot of that crap when he was younger and I think he just hates it now that he’s older. He’s really brilliant.”
“Yes, I know I’ve looked up some of his work. Talks about things I couldn’t even begin to understand.”
“I can’t understand most of it either. The math I get…”
“Yes, you were always gifted when it came to numbers. I didn’t help much with that did I?”
“You had different expectations.” John said as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Yes, well, they weren’t for you, were they. I look at you know, everything you’ve done and I wonder what I possibly did to have a son that’s as brave as you are because I don’t feel like it was much.”
John looked up at his father, a little confused at what his father was trying to say to him.
“I’m trying to tell you I’m proud of you, Johnny. Promotions or not. You’ve done some amazing things with your life and I haven’t been around for most of it. And I wanted to meet Rodney because I wanted to meet the man that succeeded where I had failed. He loves you very much.” Joseph said.
“Yeah, he does. I love him too.” John said.
“Yes I can see that. Look. It’s late, why don’t you gone on up to bed. We can talk more tomorrow.”
“John, call me dad.”
It was when they were back home, Rodney lying in his arms as he slept that John realized quite how lucky he was to have this. To have Rodney and the city and his friends. To be among people who understood him and respected him. It took going back to being John Sheppard, the guy who knew Bobby Newman, to really appreciate it.
“Colonel, you’re thinking too hard and it’s disrupting my sleep.” Rodney muttered in a sleepy tone.
“I’m thinking too hard? Rodney I don’t believe you’ve ever said that to me.”
“Go to sleep John. We’ve got a long day tomorrow. Big celebrations all around.”
“Yeah, Lieutenant Colonel Lorne looked pretty pleased with himself.” John said.
“Yes, yes, we’re honoring everyone, including you Colonel, that’s getting promoted. I know. I had to sit there and listen to Cadman go on and on about becoming a Captain. Not to mention everyone else. Now please, John, go to sleep.” Rodney said.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about how lucky I am.”
“Could you do it at a more reasonable hour?”
John smiled. He was pretty lucky indeed.