Word count: 1050
Prompt: ::headdesk:: I don't know why I thought the current mcsheplets challenge was "Open" when it's really "Order"... so now it's for prompt 111: Present
Note: I love NaNo... it makes me write more things! Part of the ongoing Julianna!verse... use the tags on my journal to read more!
John looked at the package suspiciously. It was actually two boxes, wrapped separately and stacked one atop the other. Each box was about the size of a sheet of paper. He poked at it, but at least it didn't tick.
Rodney sat back in his chair, trying surreptitiously to inch away. John stopped him with a glare.
"Go ahead, open it," Julianna coaxed. Her eyes danced with unrestrained glee.
John and Rodney had long had experience with anything that made Julianna this happy. It usually ended in chaos and general unhappiness.
Actually, John had to admit, as Julianna had gotten older, things had gotten better. Her teen years had their ups and downs – in a wild, head-spinning roller-coaster fashion – but as she had grown up all of their lives had gotten… smoother. He was reserving judgment on better.
At twenty-three, Julianna had inherited the best of both John and Rodney. She had John's height, slim build and good looks. She also had Rodney's slightly crooked smile, his blue eyes and – most importantly in John's mind – Rodney's brains.
"I'm not so sure it's safe," John had to say.
"Come on, I was ten!" Julianna protested.
"I still have the scars," Rodney offered with a grin.
Julianna rolled her eyes. "It was a scratch!" she shot back.
John leaned in to look over the package. Packages. "No booby-traps?" he asked.
"No booby traps!" she promised. "Open it!"
John took the two boxes and separated them. He went to hand the bottom box to an obviously reluctant Rodney, when Julianna said, "One at a time. The top one first."
John mouthed Traitor! at Rodney when he looked relieved at the reprieve.
Setting the lighter box down, John took the top box and rattled it. There was a semi-solid thunk within the box as something shifted.
"It won't break," Julianna said.
Working carefully, John eased the tape away from the paper so he could cautiously remove the paper from the box. He set the wrapping paper aside to look at the plain, white box.
He set the box on the table in front of him and slowly eased the top off. Whatever was in the box was nestled in tissue paper. He set the top aside and moved the tissue aside.
John looked at the writing on the framed document inside and looked up at a beaming Julianna.
"Really?" he said.
She smiled Rodney's smile at him and nodded.
"What?" Rodney demanded.
John picked up the diploma in the box and held it up so Rodney could see it.
Rodney surged out of his chair and went to wrap his arms around their daughter.
"You idiot! You could have just told us you'd finished that degree!" he scolded her. But his eyes were slightly damp and his voice was proud.
"I needed to do this on my own," Julianna said. "You know that!"
"I know, I know," Rodney assured her. "But you could have told us!"
"I just did!" she grinned.
John got up to give his own hugs.
"So it's Dr. Julianna Sheppard-McKay now!" he said. "Good going!"
Julianna had blown through an atypical undergraduate program while most of her peers were still in high school, earning Bachelor Degrees in both Chemistry and Physics. She had been itching to do serious work on her undergraduate degree long before that, but Rodney had sat down with her and they had talked about some of what he had gone through as a 'child prodigy' and being seriously younger than his classmates. Didn't mean Rodney stopped throwing adult projects at her in the labs, but her official schooling was slightly closer to her age group than it could have been.
Rodney had managed Julianna's learning for the most part. John had made sure that she had some fun while she was studying. There had been Spring Break trips and summer vacations that the three of them had taken and John had made sure that Julianna had a chance to take trips with her friends.
John and Rodney knew she was working on her PhD in Electrical Engineering, just not how close to finishing she had been. She had to have gotten Radek and MIko to help her with the last pieces, to be able to keep it secret from Rodney.
John looked at the second box still sitting innocently on the table. "And that?"
"Open it," she said gently.
"That was the good news, is this the bad news?" John asked. Old habits – rather, old suspicions -- died hard. This was still Julianna, who could come up with anything.
"Nah, it's all good news," she said, rolling her eyes at him.
John opened the much lighter box carefully. Another plain white box with a nest of tissue paper appeared. He moved the tissue paper aside and stared…
"Sweetie?" John's voice was strangled.
Rodney's head came up. "What is it?"
At a loss for words, John handed Rodney the box who looked at the contents with a small frown.
John looked at Julianna, who had an excited but slightly scared expression on her face. John knew when Rodney realized what it was when he got the same determined but scared look on his face,
"Surprise?" Julianna said weakly.
Rodney lifted the sonogram image out of the box. "Twins?" he asked weakly.
Julianna nodded, holding her breath.
"Is it… Scott?" John asked gently.
"It had damned better be Scott!" Rodney growled.
It was the right thing to say, Julianna laughed. "Of course it's Scott!" she replied.
"There had better be a wedding in your immediate future," Rodney said.
She rolled her eyes at them. "Hey! Dad got pregnant with me before you got married," she defended.
"The city did that to us!" Rodney protested. "Not like we thought anything about either of us having babies!"
"Well, getting pregnant and then getting married is now a family tradition," Julianna grinned. She put her hand on her still flat stomach. "I fully expect these kids to do the same thing."
"Hey! I'm married to a grandfather!" John teased. He couldn't help the wide smile.
Rodney's eyes got big when that percolated through his head. "I'm going to be a grandfather!" he said, slightly panicked. He took a deep breath and repeated with a touch of awe, "I'm going to be a grandfather!"
"Yes, you are!" Julianna grinned.