Length: 1220 words
Summary: For the mcsheplets Challenge #39: Locked Up
If you're a parent or know anyone with small childred, you've been there......
"Daddy? I'm hungry." The small, dark-haired girl stood in the doorway to her bedroom wearing one of Rodney's t-shirts that she had swiped from the laundry when Rodney wasn't looking. Actually, the "Genius" shirt was an accurate description but the oversized shirt made her look smaller and frailer than normal. John knew the frailty to be a total illusion.
Looking up from the report he was writing, John wanted to hit his head on the wall in frustration but resisted. Mealtime had been a mine field, and a battle field, growing up and he wasn't going to go there again willingly. He looked at seven-year-old Julianna as she stood in the doorway to her room and replied calmly, "Sure. Come and sit in the kitchen."
A very transparent look of rebellion briefly flashed over her face but John had long ago learned not to react to that. He went into the kitchen and put a bowl on the table for her. "Cereal or fruit?" he asked.
"Fruit in the cereal?" came a wistful reply as she clambered into the chair.
Fresh fruit, dry cereal, simple snack food and a very limited supply of canned goods were all that were available. Even with regular supply runs from Earth, new trading alliances and judicious use of the Stargate, it was more efficient for the residents of Atlantis to eat food prepared in the common mess area. However, they had learned early on that it saved a lot of problems if families with children had some supplies on hand for between-meal feedings and snacks.
John efficiently cut up an almost-apple, threw in some berries and put the dish of cereal in front of his daughter. Wordlessly, she dug in and ate the entire bowl. She drank the glass of juice he had poured and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
"Better?" he asked.
She nodded at him, warily. She opened her mouth to obviously ask a question but closed it without a word at John's continuing silence.
"Wash your hands before you go back to your room," John instructed. Julianna got down from the chair and went into the bathroom.
"Good night," she said back in the doorway of her room.
John gave a little sigh and leaned over saying, "Come here." He opened his arms and picked her up. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tightly. "Maybe tomorrow'll be an better day," John declared cheerfully. He could feel her nod against his cheek.
He carried her into her room and sat on the bed, cuddling for a moment. "Okay, sleep."
"Love you, daddy," she whispered.
"Love you, too," he kissed her forehead.
He tucked her into bed and smoothed the covers. "Sleep tight."
"Don't let the bed bugs bite," she giggled. The quick change in mood wasn't a surprise, they had learned to accept it from the beginning.
He closed the door and let out a much bigger sigh. He moved to the kitchen to clean up after the impromptu snack. He poured himself a bowl of cereal and a glass a juice and sat to eat the simple meal. As he was finishing up, Rodney came in.
"Hey! The door was locked," Rodney announced, shedding files and his computer all over the table. He reached for John, "Missed you."
John dropped the towel he had next to the sink and wrapped his arms around Rodney. "Not as much locking you out as locking us in."
Strong arms held tight and John relaxed into the warmth, letting go.
"What happened?" Rodney asked gently.
"She threw a tantrum as we were getting dinner because there wasn't any chocolate cake for dessert," John recounted. "When she wouldn't quit, we came back here."
Rodney laughed softly, knowing it wasn't funny. Julianna's tantrums were legendary and the only reaction that worked was a strong non-reaction. Coming back to their rooms and having to finish the tantrum in solitude in her room was the only effective way to deal with it. At seven, they knew Julianna was capable of controlling herself but for some reason she couldn't, or wouldn't, stop. They were less frequent as she grew older but more traumatic when they did happen.
"Did you get anything to eat?" Rodney asked. The fact that the apartment was quiet told him that John had handled their daughter reasonably well.
"Cereal," John answered. He leaned back in the embrace and brought their lips together. "Want you," he muttered against Rodney's lips.
Rodney brought one hand up to the side of John's face and deepened the kiss. As they broke for air, Rodney asked, "Think she's asleep?"
"Should be," John answered. "She had some fruit and cereal a little while ago and I put her back to bed then."
Rodney put a soft kiss on John's lips and said, "Go clean up and I'll check on her."
"Check the locks while you're at it," John suggested.
Julianna's sleep habits were worse than Rodney's and she frequently got up and wandered around the apartment in the middle of the night. With her ATA gene, she could coax the city into opening any door that they hadn't keyed to not open for her. In an emergency, she could get out of the apartment but they had gotten into the habit of locking themselves in to make sure she wouldn't wander around the city by herself. It was a lesson hard learned after a couple of scares where it had taken some quick work with a life signs detector to find the missing child.
John was starting to drowse by the time Rodney climbed into bed but the feeling of skin-on-skin as Rodney leaned over had him wide awake. John realized there was a needy note of desperation in his "Fuck me" that he knew Rodney had heard when he reached for the lube. When they were done, Rodney gathered him up after a rough cleaning and John wrapped his arm around Rodney's waist.
"Better?" Rodney dropped a kiss on his head.
"Mmmm... thanks," John murmured. "I needed that."
"Talk to me," Rodney said firmly.
John lay listening to Rodney's heartbeat for a few minutes. "Its... just that sometimes...." Deep breath. "I worry that I'll turn into my father."
Rodney snorted, "Fat chance of that." He nudged John around so that they were looking eye to eye. "We know this is harder than we ever imagined, you and me raising a kid. Especially this kid. But we're better parents to Julianna than ours ever were to us."
"I know, I know," John agreed. "Just... days like today....."
"You could have called," Rodney reminded him. "We're in this together."
"I know," John leaned in for a quick kiss. "Happened so fast and it was dinner time that I didn't get to think too much about it." He shrugged. "Figured you were coming home soon anyways, so I just dealt with it."
"Tomorrow should be better," Rodney offered.
John laughed. "We always say that," he replied, but as he fell asleep wrapped around Rodney he thought Today wasn't that bad, after all.