Warnings/Spoilers: Minor reference to Midway
Length: 700 words
Summary: For the mcsheplets Challenge #28: Earth
John and Rodney are forced to take some R&R and end up in NYC.....
Listening to the voices on the headphones, John only realized that Rodney had a death-grip on his hand when the bones started to grate. John silently gripped back, understanding the need to hold on. To not let go. To reassure.
Samantha Carter had essentially ordered them both to take some down time. John hadn't wanted to take both him and Rodney away from Atlantis at the same time because the selfish side of him wanted it too much. He had negotiated Sam's demand to take two weeks down to ten days which, when she gave in, John suspected was her goal all along. With the gate-bridge, vacations back to Earth were easier without the travel time delays and it made it easier for everyone to take a real break.
"Do you know what she's done?" Rodney demanded in John's office. "She's thrown me out of here for a.... a vacation!"
"Us. She's throwing us out of here," John drawled, waiting for the double-take.
"She has no right...." Rodney started as if John hadn't spoken but John knew the nanosecond the sound waves hit Rodney's consciousness when he suddenly went still. "Both of us?" The hope flared in his eyes. "Together?"
"Well," John temporized. "It doesn't have to be together. But it is the same time."
"Together," Rodney declared firmly and John had to grin.
"Where do you want to go?" John asked. "We can visit Jeannie if you want."
"Maybe a quick visit," Rodney allowed. "We should do some real tourist things for a change. Somewhere we've never been...." Somewhere no one would know them, he meant.
John thought for a moment. "New York?" he floated. "Then we can swing back up to see Jeannie." John paused for effect. "There's a new Apple store."
John wanted to laugh at the happiness in Rodney's face at the thought. "Sounds good!" Rodney agreed. "Haven't been there in a long time and never as a tourist." And it would be nicely anonymous.
No trip to New York was complete without a stop at the World Trade Center site. They had just missed the guided tour and rather than hang around for most of an hour for the next available tour, they had decided that the self-guided audio tour would do. Which is how they found themselves listening to the eerily calm voices on the headphone.
Without knowing the history, it now looked like any other New York building site. Nothing about the construction activity gave any indication of the horror of that day. Only the audio tour gave voices to those that died -- allowed family, friends and rescue workers to tell a few of the thousands of stories.
When the current portion of the audio ended, John reached around and pulled Rodney to him. Rodney's free arm snaked around John's waist and he put his head on John's shoulder. They held on to each other and John felt Rodney take a few deep breaths.
"Where were you?" Rodney asked quietly.
"I had just been sent to Afghanistan that summer," John reminisced. "We got to spend a lot of time in the air chasing ghosts. In the end it didn't accomplish anything concrete but at least it felt like we were doing something."
"I was in Russia. The SGC wouldn't have me back at the time so I was stuck there," Rodney recounted. He raised his head and looked at John. "I never want to feel that helpless again."
John leaned in for a brief kiss. Then hugged Rodney close.
"As awful as this was, this was something we did to ourselves," John whispered. "At least we have a chance to make sure something worse than this doesn't happen to Earth."
"Oh, that makes everything better," Rodney huffed, winding his arms more tightly about John. "No pressure."
"What would you think about going to Jeannie's tomorrow?" John suggested. It was five days earlier than they had planned. "Think she'll mind?"
Rodney drew back without letting go. "I.. I think that's a good idea. No, she won't mind."
Author's note: I was on vacation a while back and this is a powerful, moving experience -- highly recommended. Make the time if you are ever there.....