Let's just list this out.
1.) Physically incapable of leaving a pet store without a new rabbit treat and/or toy.
2.) Angsting over vegetable combinations longer than it takes the rabbits to eat them.
3.) Obsessive house rabbit website reading.
4.) Sudden, inexplicable desire to build a small rabbit mansion out of Home Depot items. Like, say, wood. And nails. And hinges.
For those who don't get the absolute terror of this--many have read of me and dissecting the TV, the butterknife and the VCR, and the way I managed to install a DVD writer into Brian. Do any of you really, really think seeming me with a hammer can end any other way than with an ER visit and a cast?
The biggest issue is the food. Pellets! Evil! Pellets! Good! Lettuce! Evil! Lettuce! Good! Clover! Poison! Clover! Delicious! Never feed your rabbit bananas! Only buy hay from stables! YOU ARE KILLING YOUR FURRY FRIEND YOU ANTI-RABBIT WHORE.
Okay, they didn't say that, but by God, they implied. So I took them off pellets, then read at the official houserabbit website that they should have unlimited supplies and panicked, then there was alfalfa angst, and romaine-lettuce salads only, and frankly, the rabbits eat better than I do. I'm also picking up a wide collection of bunny claw scars, one of which is showing a case of mild infection. First vet appointment for Reggie the Netherlands Dwarf (I want to say Neanderthal *so much*), Bryante the Holland Lop, and Sloppy the Holland Lop (renamed by Sister Who Technically Owns But I Care For) are at teh end of the month. I am not looking forward to this in an epic way, but I do have a rabbit magazine (first joke gets you stepped on, I swear) and have highlighted relevant chapters to discuss.
And the less said about Bryante's hind leg nail clipping the better. Seriously. I'm hyperventilating over my rabbit's pain and terror while my mother stares at me blankly while trying to trance him and asking me if I need medical intervention. The paper bag did nicely.
And so half my flist doesn't defriend me into disgust--you advertised as fannish and now you are Twenty-Four Seven Rabbit!--a snippet from Teacher's Pet 8, still in production on my hard drive. And by production, I mean, it's sitting there, mocking me. This was originally written for svmadelyn, and--yeah, I'm not even going to try to commentary on this one. I'll just--be over here.
I can honestly state, however, that when I started? This is not where I ever expected to be.
John's still sleeping when Rodney gets back to his quarters, passed out on the cot that matches the ones in Teyla's and Ronon's rooms. Since the last mission, John hasn't been out of sight of any of the team for a second, and if that means none of them sleep well when John sleeps badly, so be it. That's what coffee was invented for.
He's rolled up in his blankets like a small burrito, a tuft of messy dark hair the only part of him visible, not having moved since Rodney left. Glancing at the clock, Rodney thinks about his laptop and new simulations, but he goes straight to his bed, taking just enough time to change into sweatpants and a clean t-shirt, aware that the scent of gun oil will follow him into sleep again tonight, like it does every night, reminding him of the shot he missed and won't ever miss again.
John shifts on his cot, and Rodney raises himself on an elbow, watching John push free of the sheets with one hand, languid and frantic at the same time. Rodney wonders what he's dreaming.
Sometimes, he remembers, and sometimes, he doesn't. John doesn't know that the night before, he'd relived the death of two scientists on a deserted planet; Rodney's blurred memories of sand and fear and the willingness to trade Gaul for Sheppard, even when he hadn't known that was what he wanted to do.
Rodney remembers waking up to John twisting, skin slick with cold sweat, mouth curved in a tight, bitter line as Rodney sat by the bed, stoking the damp dark hair, whispering meaningless reassurance until John sighed and stilled, cheek turning into Rodney's touch before falling into deep sleep, safe from dreams.
John settles with a sigh, though, and Rodney lays back, staring up at the ceiling, and listens to the steady breathing half a room away as John falls back into sleep.
He wakes to the sheet being pulled stealthily away, cool Atlantis air against night-warm skin, and he just barely finds it in him to wonder when a small body insinuates itself onto the bed beside him.
And since Katie hasn't spoken to him since he forgot her again-- "John?"
"Sorry," John says, sounding thick and exhausted. Rolling over, Rodney takes in John, still mummified in his own sheets, trying to pull the blanket back over him. "I just--" In the faint Atlantis light, the hazel eyes are ringed in purple, pupils blown wide and afraid, and even from here, Rodney can feel the trembling, see the sweat-slick skin of John's forehead and cheeks. "Sorry, I--"
"Don't be sorry," Rodney says roughly, because John doesn't take sympathy well and there's no point in making it worse. "Try not to hog the covers."
John relaxes, and Rodney pulls up the blanket around them, thinking irony so isn't his friend right now. "Okay." His voice is almost inaudible, even in the silence. "Thanks."
Rodney shifts over more, trying to give John some space. The beds on Atlantis are ridiculously narrow, though, and every movement just slides John closer until he's pressed against Rodney's side, and a hand comes out to anchor himself, wrapping in the hem of Rodney's t-shirt, face pressing into his shoulder with a tiny, sleepy sigh. After a few long seconds, John's a mostly comfortable ball of prepubescent boy, taking far too much space for someone not yet five feet tall and less than ninety pounds.
"Why don't I remember when I'm awake?" John whispers into the dark, the only place that he can probably ask that, here, and God, does Teyla deal with this? Does Ronon? Licking his lips, Rodney shuts his eyes for a second, imagining it's almost six months ago and turning down that priestess, going back to his team and going home. But no, he hadn't, and he'd come back to an eight year old going on thirty-something, fragile and stubborn and terribly, terribly vulnerable in a way Sheppard's never been before.
"What happened--" Rodney starts, then stops. They'd had the talk, and they'd had the questions, but how the hell did an eight year old comprehend being an adult once upon a time and now not? "I don't know."
John's breath is too fast and too sharp; keeping back tears or anger, Rodney's not sure, isn't sure he even wants to know. "I don't understand," John whispers, and Rodney finally pushes John over, rolling onto his side to look at him, the pale smudge of his face, staring up at the ceiling, wide-eyed and more alone than anyone Rodney has ever seen. "I--I don't want to. To know. I don't want to know any more."
Reaching out, Rodney rubs a thumb under John's eye, finger coming away wet. "John--"
"I kill people, I--the Wraith--" He shudders all over, teeth clenching together. "I don't like him, I don't want to *be him*--"
"I don't want that!"
Calm, stay calm, God, how does Teyla deal with this? Looking down at John, watching the way his mouth goes tight and thin, fingers picking at the edge of the blanket, he suddenly wonders if John does this with anyone else. "What does Teyla say?"
His eyes flicker away, and Rodney has his answer, weird and inexplicable though it may be. John goes to Teyla and Elizabeth for scraped knees and bruised chins, cuddling and warm laps, Ronon and Lorne for playtime and weapons and the things that made John Sheppard the Colonel, but he comes to Rodney for this, whatever this is.
And he wants to ask, why and how and what the hell, but John's a terrified eight year old child and wouldn't know the answer anyway, even if Rodney could figure out a way to ask the question. When he touches John's hair, though, John turns into it, and Rodney reads everything in the way John's eyes flicker closed, sighing into the pillow and curling closer, soft and warm. This is safety, and comfort, and the place John trusts when he can't even trust his own mind.
God, it makes him want to pack John up somewhere safe, here, never let him out again to be bruised and scraped, hardened and cut to pieces and put back together again. He wants John to sleep like this, peaceful and quiet and the too-old lines to be erased, take away the memories that John can live without; a Wraith Queen, the death of a commanding officer by his own hand, the people he's watched die and break and betray him. The Pegasus galaxy and how it's rebuilt them all, the past before Antarctica that Rodney thinks John might trade anything to forget. Just keep him safe.
Christ, give him one night that belongs to him and not his past.
"You're extraordinary," Rodney whispers when John moves closer, hair brushing Rodney's chin, and he can almost see Teyla's disapproval and doesn't even care. "When you grow up, you're going to be amazing."
John twitches, just a little. "I--"
"Amazing," Rodney says firmly, breathing in the scent of clean child and night sweat, overriding the smells of gun oil and the metal of the armory levels down. "When you remember, I want you to remember that."
The fingers in his shirt twist tight for a moment, then loosen a little, and Rodney listens as John's breathing evens out, slow and deep as he falls into sleep, finally, quiet and heavy and deep, and please God, please Atlantis, please whoever the fuck watches over children and idiots, no more dreams. Not tonight.