It had begun when Rodney had been in a crashed jumper at the bottom of the sea. He had searched for ways to keep the water from coming in as fast as it was. In the process, he had gone to check the gash in the jumper.
He did not notice the water slowing as the gash partially closed at his touch, tiny transparent crystals forming. He did notice, however, that the water wasn’t rising quite as fast all of a sudden.
And that gave him precious time.
It happened several other times over the next few months. Slowly, Rodney became aware that he possessed a para-human ability. That he’d likely had it since birth, thanks to the radiation his parents were routinely exposed to in their work.
He theorized that it was coming out now because it was the first time since puberty that he was actively taking care of himself and growing healthy – because his team needed a fourth that could hold his own.
But still, he would wake up at night, his heart pounding with the shock of what he could do. What the hell could he do with this?
Super-strength, sure. Flight – oh, John would be jealous. Speed, telepathy, telekinesis – all kinds of abilities, all of them very useful on missions. But… this?
So he determined he’d find a way to be useful with it. And somehow, keep it secret. No need to scare everyone over the mutant in their midst.
Life went on like this for six more months. Rodney grew healthier, leaner, more active. His strength and stamina increased. He slowly became a soldier as well as a scientist by dint of the constant missions.
And his control over his ability grew tighter. It became harder and harder to hide it. When he’d slip, there was always a plausible excuse.
But one day, Rodney’s luck ran out.
PFL-381 was a world whose civilization was retarded by frequent cullings. The native people viewed the team with open suspicion.
Open suspicion turned to open hatred when they had brought the team to the town square – and the leaders had caught sight of John’s ears.
Their version of the devil was a charmer – a handsome man with dark hair whose only mark of ‘otherness’ were subtle points to his ears.
So – once again – the team was on the run. John wound up taking a crossbow bolt to the shoulder, and was leaning on Rodney as they rushed to the gate, separated from their faster teammates who were obeying John’s order to “Get the hell out of here!”
“This is the last time we come to a world without a Jumper!” Rodney snarled, and John grunted agreement through the haze of pain.
They arrived at the Gate just in time to see the wormhole activate. John slid his good arm from around Rodney’s shoulder and waved Ronon and Teyla through and as soon as Teyla sent her IDC, they were through.
As John and Rodney staggered to follow, Rodney glanced over his shoulder – to see a crossbow being fired from the woods.
“NO!” Without even thinking, Rodney shoved John to the ground and stepped in front of him – dropping to one knee and thrusting his hands straight out, then flinging them over his head.
John gaped as a nearly-transparent, shimmering wall of something that looked like crystal arched delicately over them. The crossbow bolt hit it and bounced off.
“Get to the Gate!” Rodney roared over his shoulder, making the wall just a little wider.
“What about you?” John roared back.
“Go! I’m right behind you!”
John gained this feet, racing to the Gate – then pausing, turning to make sure Rodney was following.
Rodney dissolved the… the…. the… whatever-the-hell-that-was and raced to join John. “Why are you still—“
A noise caught their attention, and John saw Rodney fire two six-inch long bolts from his outstretched hand, toward the noise. There was a satisfying “thunk” and a groan of pain.
Then Rodney shoved John into the wormhole and leapt in after him.
“What the hell was that?” John gasped as Rodney walked into the infirmary.
Rodney rolled his eyes. “’Why, hello, Rodney, my shoulder’s doing much better’ would have sufficed.”
“Don’t you change the subject,” John snarled. “What the hell did you do back there?”
Rodney sighed and sat beside John’s bed. He stretched out his hand, palm up. “It’s just air,” he said softly, as a tiny Jumper slowly shimmered into transparent existence. “Only it’s hard as a rock.”
John was staring at the Jumper. “It looks like crystal,” he breathed. “Can I--?”
“Oh, sure.” And Rodney smiled as John lifted the tiny sculpture from his palm. “It’ll dissolve back into air in an hour if I don’t dissolve it first.”
“Could you always—“
“No. I was born with it – I think – but it just came to light when I started taking care of myself so I wouldn’t be a liability to the team.” He smiled again. “And you have no idea how good it feels to finally have someone to share it with.”
John studied the tiny Jumper, then he looked up. “I tell you what, Rodney – I’ll make a deal with you.”
“You clearly want to keep this under wraps for awhile longer. I’ll keep it there with you – and I’ll have the others help keep you healthy.”
“And the price for this generous offer?”
John grinned. “As many of these little sculptures as you can do – when one dissolves, if you aren’t busy or off-world or…”
Rodney matched his smile. “I’ll take that deal. Thanks, John.”
“That’s what friends do – we take care of each other. You saved my life back there because of what you can do. That’s worth my silence.” He held up the Jumper. “These? Are a party bonus.”
And Rodney laughed. Then he leaned forward and put his finger on the black wristband.
John’s eyes went wide as a thin row of tiny crystals formed around the exact center of it, meeting back where Rodney’s finger touched. He lifted the finger, and John raised his wrist, turning it back and forth.
“Just for an hour,” Rodney smiled. “Something to think of me when you see.” He patted John’s shoulder and stood, heading out of the infirmary.
“What, the Jumper wasn’t enough?” John called after him, and Rodney turned and grinned at him before the doors closed.
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