Length: 500 words
Summary: For the mcsheplets Challenge #68: Play
Part of the occasional Julianna!verse where there once was mPreg but not in this story. Read more of the Julianna stories by clicking on the tag in my journal. But the story stands alone.
Rodney turned to see his daughter standing in her pajamas in the doorway.
"Aren't you supposed to be in bed, young lady?" he asked mildly. Even at five they knew Julianna couldn't be coerced into anything. Bedtime, least of all.
"Yeah," she agreed. "Can I ask you something?"
Rodney set his laptop aside and held out his arms. "Sure," he said.
She scampered into his lap and cuddled under his chin. Rodney enjoyed the closeness, a rare occurrence with this usually willful child. She was their joy and their bane, Julianna-who-was-a-miracle.
"Poppa?" Julianna asked again.
"Yes, sweetie?" Rodney answered.
"Is the Easter Bunny like the Tooth Fairy?" she asked.
Rodney sighed. "What has your Dad been telling you?" he asked.
"That the Easter Bunny will bring candy to good little girls," she recounted.
Rodney closed his eyes for a moment. Damn you, John. He hugged the child gently.
"The Easter Bunny is an Earth custom. Bunnies are usually a symbol of Spring and eggs are an ancient fertility symbol. Together it's a powerful legend that has been taken over by the Christian religions and Hallmark," Rodney explained. He knew she wouldn't understand all the references but she'd think about it. From the beginning, he had always answered serious questions with serious answers, something he and John had finally agreed to disagree about. But Julianna was too bright to not tell the truth to.
"Poppa," she asked solemnly, "can we not tell Daddy about this? He'll be disappointed."
"Sure, honey," Rodney agreed. "Bedtime?"
"Okay," she agreed cheerfully. A small, warm kiss on his cheek and she wriggled down. "Come and tuck me in?"
Rodney did so gladly, always appreciative of any night that was calm, without tears or shouting. "Sleep well," he said, kissing her forehead.
As John crawled into their bed, Rodney mentally groaned at the 3 am time and rolled over to ask, "Everyone okay?"
"Everyone's back. One hurt, in the infirmary," John tallied, "going to be there for a bit, I think. The others are banged up but not enough to require they stay."
"You okay?" Rodney asked.
"Yeah," John grunted. "Using a Jumper made it easier to get them out." He wriggled closer to Rodney, wrapping his cold body around Rodney's sleep-warmed one. Rodney wrapped his arms around John, knowing neither one of them would sleep until they were both warm and John had a chance to come down from the adrenaline high a rescue always created.
"Brat asked about the Easter bunny," Rodney said softly.
"Damn," John replied, frustrated. "I... I just want her to be a kid."
It was a discussion they had had endlessly, one Rodney knew they would keep having. One to which there was no good answer.
"She did ask me not to tell you," Rodney consoled John.
"That's something, I guess," John grumped.
"I think she's in it for the candy," Rodney theorized.
He felt John shrug. "That's not a bad reason," he decided. Rodney could hear the grin in the dark.
"So you can play hide and seek with the Easter basket I know you have in the morning," Rodney soothed. "She'll play along and you both get what you want."
"She behave tonight?" John asked.
"Perfectly," Rodney replied. "Went to bed on time, so she'll be well rested tomorrow. Which you won't be if you don't go to sleep."
John leaned in for a kiss. "Okay, thanks," John whispered. "Night."