Word count: 4,500+
Summary: Coda to Once Upon a Furry Octopus - He was quirky and sometimes obnoxious, and loved to stare at Rodney with just one eye, waiting, waiting patiently and so still until Rodney stared back before bleating, “MINE!” as loud as he could. He liked Brahms and AC/DC and still hated Hernandez, and, after one unfortunate incident in the gym – coupled with the whole pen-bleeding thing from before – he’d taken to screaming whenever he saw Major Lorne.
Warnings: Gratuitous use of robots and babies. Bring your toothbrush.
A/N: This is for dacey *g* Hope you enjoy it!
And They Lived Happily Ever After
Ernie-proofing their new quarters had been exhausting and, in some cases, futile work, since the animal’s limbs were all dexterous and strong, and Ernie was a great escape artist. Smart – even if he wasn’t exceptional – he’d learned early on how to reach up to the control panels and trigger doors open, and Rodney had to remove all of the crystals leading onto their balcony – which they hadn’t had much of a choice about, since all the bigger suites had at least one of them, even at sea level.
Rodney outfitted him with a transmitter, though, a band high-up on one of his tentacles that doubled as an open-channel radio. He knew what ‘home’ and ‘food’ meant, and never ignored a call, so they eventually stopped trying to keep him leashed, and just made sure they always knew his position in the city. Besides, it wasn’t like he wandered far from them very often, and anyone with a pen could still gain his undivided attention, if only for a few minutes.
Mainly, he just followed Rodney around, and when he couldn’t find Rodney, he settled for John, and if the team was off-world, he tagged along behind Radek, and no one ever left him alone with Kavanagh.
He was quirky and sometimes obnoxious, and loved to stare at Rodney with just one eye, waiting, waiting patiently and so still until Rodney stared back before bleating, “MINE!” as loud as he could. He liked Brahms and AC/DC and still hated Hernandez, and, after one unfortunate incident in the gym – coupled with the whole pen-bleeding thing from before – he’d taken to screaming whenever he saw Major Lorne.
Rodney thought it was hilarious. Lorne seemed kind of heartbroken about it, though.
Compared to actually cohabitating with Rodney and Ernie, John thought lell-proofing their rooms had been a cakewalk. A fluff job. Easy as fucking pie.
Because Ernie was louder than a dog and more annoying than a monkey, and John was having some serious issues about the stupid pens - rocks, bits of foil, shiny coins, balls of hair – that the lell seemed to collect and shove into every nook and cranny of their quarters. Add to that Rodney’s complete inability to put anything away and John was living in hell. A dirty, smelly, trash heap shaped hell that was made only slightly more tolerable by all the regular sex. John didn’t want to underestimate the importance of getting laid on a routine basis, but he had his limits.
When he shoved his foot into a boot and got stabbed by, yes, a fucking sparkly gel pen for the sixth time that week, he threw the boot across the room, yelled, “Goddammit, Ernie!” and even the sight of the furry octopus cowering in his basket half under an old t-shirt, four eyes wide and wary, did nothing but make him a hell of a lot angrier. He couldn’t take it any more.
Rodney shifted into the doorway, frowning. “What happened?”
John buried his head in his hands. “I’m moving out,” he said, voice muffled.
“Right,” Rodney scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I’m serious, Rodney.” The place was a disaster. John couldn’t even think straight. “You’re a slob. Ernie’s a slob who only says two words. Over and over again. I’m going insane here.”
Hurt flashed over Rodney’s eyes and John grimaced, but didn’t back down. Changes had to be made, or he was going to snap.
“Please,” John said, standing up and moving towards Rodney, hands out. “Please, just.” God, he didn’t want to leave. Rodney’s mouth was quivering at the edges, and he wouldn’t look him in the eyes, and John slid his arms around him, hooking his chin on his shoulder, taking a deep, calming breath and squeezing him close. Rodney was tense against him, his own arms still defensively wrapped over his middle, and John whispered a tired, “Is there any way we can get maid service?” into his ear.
“Maid service,” turned out to be magic words. And John was honestly amazed at how much scientific inspiration the boys in the labs seemed to get from watching The Jetsons. It was big, almost human-sized, with a slightly rounded head, pinchers on the ends of its arms, and balanced on a single wheel as it spun around the room.
“It’s just a prototype,” Rodney said, grinning winningly, bouncing on his feet.
John couldn’t help but grin back. It was a freakin’ robot, and damn near the coolest thing ever. Hell, John was tempted to make more messes himself just to see it work its shiny metal ass.
Ernie, of course, was terrified of it. Especially since Rodney had programmed it to say, “Hello, Ernie,” in a tinny replication of his own voice whenever it spotted the lell. Ernie’d hid for three hours under their bed the first time it happened, and only ventured out when John offered him one of his black tees and the blue and lilac Eeyore pen he’d been saving for a special occasion.
Rodney’d also programmed the robot to call John, “Pookie,” and “Love muffin,” and occasionally, “Honey bear,” and although he figured Rodney mainly did it to teach him a lesson – he had threatened to move out on him, after all – John secretly enjoyed the endearments. It wasn’t like Rodney would ever say them himself.
At first, no one realized anything was wrong. But then Rodney spotted a pink sparkly Hello Kitty pen on Miko’s lab table and snarled, “How long has that been sitting there?” and he felt horrible – nauseous – because Ernie had been moping for days, but he figured he was just still mildly upset about the robot.
Miko stared at the pen in dawning horror. “Since Monday,” she said, and everyone turned towards the corner of the room, where Ernie was buried under his USAF tee, his voice box faded to a dull gray.
Rodney tapped his radio. “Carson, we need a medical team in the labs,” he demanded, moving to kneel by the lell’s basket. He passed a hand over the soft fur, and Ernie blinked at him, all four eyes at once. But there wasn’t any of his usual intensity in his gaze, and his, “Mine,” was barely a murmur.
“What’s happened?” Carson asked, before barking out a muffled order to grab some supplies.
Rodney took a shaky breath, and his voice absolutely did not break on, “Something’s wrong with Ernie. He’s sick.”
“Something’s—” Carson paused, then went on calmly, “Rodney, I’m not sending out a medical team for that. Just pick her up and bring her down, and we’ll take a look at her, all right? I’m sure she’s fine.”
“There’s a pen, Carson,” Rodney protested, but he bundled the furry octopus up into his arms, worry reaching gamely towards panic when Ernie’s tentacles were only a light shackle around his neck, resting on the crook of his elbow, leaning his weight heavily against Rodney’s chest.
“Aye, I’m sure there was.” Carson sounded bemused, flippant, and Rodney snapped, “Oh yes, let’s make fun of Ernie’s adorable pen fetish while he’s dying.”
“I’m on my way,” he cut him off, hugging Ernie tighter.
“Miiiiine,” Ernie drew out, soft and plaintive and, thank god, he didn’t sound like he was in pain. He just sounded really, really sad, and Rodney mentally rehashed the entire week, trying to recall if anything he and John had done could’ve affected him this way.
They’d fought, but they always fought, and Ernie mostly seemed to find that amusing.
John met them just outside the infirmary, and Ernie waved weakly at him, not even bothering with his normal, “Yours” greeting, and the colonel’s face crumpled, hands coming up to frame Ernie’s furry head.
“Hey, buddy,” he said softly, thumb stroking just under an eye. “Not feelin’ too hot?”
Ernie managed a gravelly purr, catching John’s wrist loosely, and the voice box dropped out of his grip, landing with a clatter as it spun across the slippery floor.
Carson had no idea what was wrong with Ernie.
He – well, technically she, of course, since Carson and the zoologists were ridiculously scrupulous with terms – seemed physically healthy enough, from what they actually knew about lells, and Carson said he suspected it was mostly a state of mind. In short, he thought Ernie was probably depressed, and gave them censorious looks.
With an accusatory, totally uncalled for eye, he suggested they reevaluate their life, and Rodney reluctantly erased the voice program on their robot-slash-maid and set her for times when Ernie would most likely be out of the rooms.
John found the book, though, its pages dog-eared and rumpled, bent open and ripped slightly, stuffed in with Ernie’s growing collection of John’s t-shirts – which he’d taken to shoving under the bed, and freaked out if he saw anyone touch them, or if the pile seemed disrupted. John had to be very, very sneaky about washing and wearing them without Ernie noticing.
But the book was one that’d come in recently on the Daedalus, among the Earth toys and treats they’d brought for the growing Athosian population, and it featured babies. Lots and lots of babies. In animal costumes.
Rodney blinked at him. “Are you kidding me?”
“His biological clock is ticking.” John only found it a little funny. Mostly he was still worried about the lell, and worried about what Ernie’s biological clock might mean for them. It wasn’t like the city was overrun with eligible furry octopus mates.
“Have you been spending time with Heightmeyer?” Rodney asked suspiciously. “Because this sounds just like one of her harebrained ideas.”
“What, that Ernie wants a baby? Really not all that hard to put together, Rodney.” He shook the slim hardbound book in front of his face. “He squealed when I showed this to him earlier. It was the most animated he’s been in days.”
They both peeked down to where Ernie was crouched at their feet, two tentacles idly playing with the ends of John’s shoelaces. He sighed and slumped down even more, and didn’t even notice that the two men were watching him with wide, anxious eyes, just gently clacked his still-dull voice box on the hard hallway floor. At least they’d gotten him to take it up again, even though his interest in his pens remained distressingly lackluster.
“Can’t we.” Rodney snapped his fingers, mouth quirking up. “Can’t we just get him a kitten? Like what’s-her-name did for that gorilla?”
“You want to get a pet for our pet,” John deadpanned, and Rodney shouted, “Well, it’s better than getting him a baby!” and John glared at him, arms crossed over his chest, one brow arched, since he certainly didn’t appreciate Rodney’s tone, and it was absolutely the worst time for Carson to come bustling up and brightly exclaim, “You two might want to consider adoption.”
They opted for trading Katie Brown Rodney’s stash of Lindt hot-cocoa powder for her Raggedy Ann doll. John suspected that she would’ve given it over without anything in return, had it not been for the city-wide consensus in favor of bringing a real live baby into the mix. She would’ve been insane to turn down the chocolate, though.
Ernie cooed delightedly when presented with the doll, limbs reaching out to caress its round, cloth face, drawing it close and carefully cradling it against his body. His eyelids drooped and he let out a low purr, and his voice box brightened some, a stuttering glow of blue, as he whispered a quiet, “Mine.”
If John was the sort to get teary-eyed, he might’ve blinked back some moisture and sniffed.
“Do you think it worked?” Rodney whispered in his ear, and then the lell tightened his grip on the doll and the head popped off.
“Shit,” John cursed, just before Ernie started honest-to-god wailing and he hastily scooped him up with soft admonishments of, “Shush, Ern, it’s all right.”
Rodney gaped at him. “It’s not all right, are you insane? What if that had been a kitten? Apparently, we own the furry octopus version of Lennie the puppy killer.”
“Not helping,” John growled, glaring at him. He jostled Ernie and hushed him some more and he finally quieted down to painful little hiccups, the headless doll body still wrapped in his tentacles. “What are we going to do with you, buddy?”
Ernie whimpered, stuffing the doll up against John’s chest, and Rodney sighed, leaning into John and threading his fingers into the longer fur that grew just above the lell’s arms. “I hate seeing him like this,” Rodney murmured.
“We both have off tomorrow,” John said, trying desperately to find something that would make it all better. “How about we take Ernie to the beach?”
Ernie normally loved the beach. It was a little annoying for Rodney and John, since afterwards they’d have to scrub all the sand out of the lell’s fur, but most times Ernie’s pure joy at frolicking in the sun, the gently breaking ocean waves, far outweighed the extra work at bath time.
Rodney sat in the wet sand, pant legs rolled up to his bent knees, waning tide lapping at his bare toes, and watched as John tried to coax Ernie out into the shallows. He held up a shell, washed a smooth-edged purple-pink, but Ernie only slapped the foamy water with a listless garble.
But then a small group of Athosians spotted them and shouted fond hellos, and three kids came charging down the beach to greet Ernie, the youngest a sturdy five.
“Jolen,” John cautioned the oldest, “Ernie might not be up to playing today,” but Jolen and Rand and little Lupe splashed into the ocean with calls for Ernie to follow, and the furry octopus bleated louder than he had all week, voice box bright as he undulated a limb, his litany of, “Mine, mine, mine,” trailing off as he slipped beneath the waves.
John dropped down next to Rodney and knocked his shoulder. “He’s good with them,” he said.
“We’re not adopting a kid,” Rodney snapped, but he couldn’t help the warm glow that settled around his heart, watching Ernie climb onto Rand’s back, tentacles splashing water over their heads.
“He’s smart,” John went on, almost proudly. “He knew the doll wasn’t real.”
“So you’re assuming,” Rodney said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. “Besides, it’s the Pegasus Galaxy. People are culled here.” He jabbed a finger at him. “Not exactly brimming with unwanted children.”
John shrugged. “Over half of PX3-M55’s adult population was decimated by that disease two weeks ago—”
“How convenient,” Rodney groused, toes digging into the sand. They were not getting a baby. It was a completely ludicrous idea, and he couldn’t believe Carson had actually suggested it.
John frowned at him. “They won’t be unwanted for long,” he stressed, and Rodney really, really wanted to ignore the implication. Act now or forever hold your peace. John pouted so prettily, though.
“Now,” Carson said, slipping a disk into his laptop, “you’ve several young lads—”
“I want a girl,” John interrupted, and Carson gave him an indulgent smile.
“Aye, there’s some of them, too.”
He clicked open the drive and pulled up the slides, and John leaned close to the computer, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth as picture after picture of babies filled the screen, some grubby-faced, some wet-cheeked, some grinning sticky smiles for the camera.
“What is this, the baby home shopping networ—oooh, she’s cute,” Rodney said, and the next thing he knew he was signing papers and Carson was shaking his hand, and in the space of a few whirlwind days he was holding a barely one year old toddler in his arms, hair as dark as John’s curling just over her ears, dimpled hands patting his neck, jaw, nose, little open mouth snuffling against his shoulder, and by the way John was gazing at her, hazel eyes awestruck, Rodney knew he was already in love.
Her given name was Ama, but Rodney pronounced her his Temporary Insanity – which he hadn’t meant half as harsh as most people thought – and they’d taken to affectionately calling her Temp.
Ernie, of course, thought the sun and moon rose just for her.
When he’d first spotted her, when Rodney had first stepped out of the puddlejumper with Temp cuddled up to his heart, he’d given her a Rodney-worthy, “MINE!” climbed John’s pants to settle in his arms, and offered the baby girl the still-headless Raggedy Ann doll he’d refused to give up, with little purrs and soft garbles, and something thick lodged in Rodney’s throat as the lell trilled a happy coo.
Instead of grabbing the doll, though, Temp had fisted both hands in Ernie’s fur and yanked as hard as she could. And Ernie’d just wrapped a tentacle around Rodney’s bicep and pressed his furry face close to Temp’s, and Temp had giggled as Ernie buzzed a low, “Yours,” against her cheek.
Possibly, the only thing that would’ve made John completely happy with the universe was the total annihilation of the Wraith. But they weren’t an immediate threat, and he had Rodney and Temp and Ernie and the robot who made sure Ernie’s under-the-bed collection was manageable, and that Rodney’s damp towels weren’t breeding mold on the floor, and that Temp had relatively clean clothes to wear everyday.
So. On the whole, John was feeling mellow, and the cake had been delicious, and Rodney was leading him back to their rooms without Ernie and Temp, so yeah. John was really looking forward to getting laid.
Rodney slammed his hand on the control panel, though, and as the doors slid shut he turned on him with a look that, unfortunately, did not scream sexual predator.
“Okay, hi.” John ended with a squeak as Rodney curled his fingers into the front of his shirt and tugged him forward, then spun and pushed him back onto their bed, climbing up on top of him and spreading his knees to straddle his waist.
“Did we just get married?” he demanded sharply.
John’s eyes flew wide. “What?”
“That,” Rodney flailed a hand, “that ceremony Halling performed. Did we just. Get. Married?”
“I thought he was blessing our... union.” His voice grew faint and he licked his lips and Rodney nodded, face dark.
“Married. We’re married. We have a pet, a baby, a home,” he ticked off his fingers, “Ronon raised a glass and grunted, Radek made a speech, and I think I might have to kill someone, or least make them feel unimaginable pain.”
“Unimaginable pain!” He grabbed onto John’s biceps and leaned over him ‘til their noses bumped. “You really didn’t know?” he hissed.
John swallowed. “Um... I kinda suspected,” he confessed. He totally wasn’t afraid of Rodney.
Sighing, Rodney slumped down, sliding his nose down John’s cheek and nestling into his neck. “I hate you.”
“You made me a robot,” John pointed out, tentatively bringing his arms up, sliding his palms along Rodney’s sides. Robot equaled love in John’s book.
“True.” Rodney relaxed against him, slowly straightening his legs until his full-length pinned John to the mattress.
John’s fingers clenched and unclenched in the fabric of Rodney’s shirt. “And I think Ernie and Temp would be really upset if you hurt me.”
“Speaking of,” Rodney licked his neck, the skin just below his ear, “how long?”
He hooked a leg around Rodney’s calf and tilted his hips and growled out, “Ten minutes ‘til Ernie notices we’ve left. But with Temp there...” He trailed off with a gasp as Rodney wormed a hand between them, fingers deftly working on his zipper.
Rodney chuckled. “Another twenty for Ernie’s whining to get irritating enough for them to give her up, right?”
John meant to say, ‘yeah,’ which was an easy enough rejoinder, requiring minimal oxygen, but then Rodney’s mouth was hot on his, and his hand was inside his pants, closed over damp cloth, fingers scrambling for skin, and he was wasting valuable time thinking, because it was thirty minutes at the outside and you could never underestimate Ernie’s powers of annoyance.
He shimmied and dropped his hands to his loose waistband, and shoved his pants and boxers down as far as they’d go, trapped at the thighs by Rodney’s weight, and John was pretty sure he was close to dying when Rodney palmed his cock, murmured, “Okay, so. Quick,” his other hand pressing flat on his stomach, and all the feeling left John’s fingers, tightly fisting the sheets, and, Jesus, tingles shot through his calves, the bottoms of his feet, so fast it was almost painful, and Rodney’s throat flexed around him, and it was possibly the best thing ever.
Lorne looked pathetically dejected, lounging in a chair across from Ernie in the commissary. The furry octopus was eyeing him suspiciously, and he’d screamed for three full minutes when David had pushed the major into the seat, but he hadn’t budged from his spot at the table. David was beginning to think it was more of a game for the lell than anything else.
“Here,” David said, putting an enormous slice of wedding cake in front of Lorne.
“Parrish, I don’t want—”
“Just eat it, Major.” David pulled out the chair next to him and sat down, crossing his legs and going for his best I’m-a-scientist-I-know-what-I’m-doing look. He honestly wasn’t all that good at them, but they always seemed to work on the major off-world.
Flicking a forlorn glance at Ernie and an annoyed one at David, Lorne picked up his fork, stabbing it into the fluffy cake with more force than was strictly necessary. But Ernie’s attention followed the bite to Lorne’s mouth, voice box tapping rhythmically on the edge of the table, and David smiled.
Two tentacles snaked out onto the tabletop, inching surreptitiously across the smooth surface, but David didn’t want him to steal the cake, so he said, “Major, call Ernie over.”
Disbelief layered over annoyance. “Are you kidding me?”
David sighed. “You’re being difficult on purpose, aren’t you?”
“Fine.” Lorne rolled his eyes. “C’mere, Ernie,” he called, and let out a surprised huff of breath when Ernie quickly clambered up onto the table and slid over, planting himself directly in front of his piece of cake. And then Lorne’s mouth curled up and his posture automatically snapped straight, and Ernie jerked backwards.
“He doesn’t trust you,” David said softly, placing a hand on his arm. “Just relax, and don’t let him take the cake without you offering it first, okay?”
Lorne nodded, and David could feel some of the tension seep out of him, and Ernie, sensing it too, leaned forward again.
“Go ahead,” David urged. A proud grin stretched his lips as Lorne moved the small plate, nudging it carefully until it was resting in between a few of Ernie’s arms.
The major prodded the dessert with a finger. “You can have it, Ern.”
Ernie blinked at him, one eye at a time, as if judging Lorne’s sincerity, and then his limbs were out and icing-smeared, and David thought Rodney would probably kill him when he saw the mess the lell was in, but it was worth it just to see the happiness spread across Lorne’s face.
The major reached out and gently swept a hand over Ernie’s furry head, and Ernie only paused a split-second to give him a curious look.
“See? All better,” David said, satisfied. The hang-dog expression Lorne’d been sporting for weeks had been consistently wrenching at his heartstrings. It was pathetic, really, how much he looked forward to the major’s smiles. Even off-world he’d been woefully blue.
Without thinking, David let out a heavy sigh and a fleeting goofy grin, and Ernie glanced back and forth between him and Lorne, all four eyes half-lidded with something akin to lazy speculation, and then he gave David a sly, throaty, “Yours.”
David felt a flush start in from his ears.
Lorne, clearly bemused, said, “I thought he only called Colonel Sheppard that.”
“Yes, well.” David rubbed a palm over the back of his neck, ducking his head slightly. He glared up through his lashes at the lell, and Ernie bleated once, then flicked a messy tentacle, hitting the botanist on the cheek with a glob of icing. “Ernie,” he hissed through his teeth, and Lorne barked a laugh, and David wanted to crawl under his chair and die.
Something touched his face and David started, turned to stare at Lorne questioningly, and the major held up a folded napkin, half-smiling. “Just cleaning you up,” he said.
David’s whole body was burning, lips thin with embarrassment and mind chockfull of painful threats for Ernie that he would never air, since Rodney could sniff out ill will towards the lell a mile away, and was very, very good at reaping vengeance. Or having Radek reap vengeance for him.
Lorne just chuckled, though, and said, “You sure blush an awful lot, Doc,” and he leaned forward onto the table, resting his chin on a fist as he watched David so very carefully, expression the exact same one he wore when the botanist got caught up in the field, nattering on about a new find, and David wasn’t at all sure what to make of that.
He had to force himself to sit still and not bolt, hands twisted together on his lap, and he couldn’t think of a single thing to say that wouldn’t most likely come out as, “Guh.”
And then Ernie screeched an ear-piercing, “miiiINE!” and undulated all of his limbs, finally noticing that Rodney and the colonel were no longer in the room.
It broke the tension, at least, and David wasted no time grabbing hold of the reprieve, hastily gathering the upset furry octopus up into his arms, unmindful of the pink and blue icing that Ernie subsequently smeared all over him in his frantic wiggling, tentacles grasping at his neck, arms, shoulders. But Lorne got to his feet with him, catching his wrist before he could get away.
“Here,” Radek said, striding up with a disturbing twinkle in his eye. “I will take Ernie over to Ama. You two,” he waved a hand, “go. Have fun.”
David was only slightly panicky deep down inside when Radek pried his desperate grip off the lell and grinned evilly up at him before strolling over towards where little Ama was holding court, bouncing on Dex’s lap.
Lorne waggled his eyebrows. “Your place or mine?”
David swallowed hard. He was in so much trouble.
John woke to the soothing roll-click of their robot-slash-maid as she tidied up the room, and... the distinctive tenor of Russell Hitchcock.
“Did you program the robot with Air Supply?” John asked with a groan, dragging an arm across his eyes.
Rodney yawned wetly against his shoulder, voice muffled on, “It’s my love song for you,” and John snorted.
He preferred torture by endearments. Other than the soaring notes of Lost in Love, though, their quarters were disturbingly quiet. “Hey—”
“Are we missing Ernie and Temp?” Rodney demanded, head snapping up, thin hair sleep-mussed and half his face creased by the chain of John’s dog tags.
John reached out for his radio, but came up empty when he tried to hail Lorne. Elizabeth answered right away, though, amusement plain when she said, “We’ve kidnapped your babies.”
“I see,” John said slowly, and Rodney was getting a manic look in his eyes, and the robot-slash-maid had moved on to Making Love Out of Nothing at All. He grinned. “Sounds good to me.”
“Are you insane?” Rodney snapped when John clicked off his radio and tossed it far, far across the room.
“Nope,” he drawled, and pulled Rodney down for a kiss.
Temp’s first word was, predictably, “Mine.”
And then soon after came, “Da,” and, “Mama” – which John swore he’d never forgive Rodney for, since he’d clearly taught her to call him that, but really he was secretly pleased in ways he couldn’t properly express – and her fourth word was, “Bozo” - which Radek would probably never forgive Rodney for - and she also spoke fluent lell.
John would’ve thought it was creepy if she wasn’t his daughter.
Ernie just seemed immensely satisfied.
Ernie & Rodney Manip by Sealie: