John leaned against the door of the Infirmary and watched Rodney play. He watched the crystal balls form in Rodney's palms, then watched Rodney juggle them idly for a few moments before dissolving them. He watched Rodney form crystal around everything he could think to --- and dissolve it.
Jennifer spared him a smile as she walked around him --- and stopped dead in her tracks. "RODNEY McKAY!"
Rodney jumped, gulping guiltily as he caught the large ball of crystal he had been tossing up and down. "What? I was just... I mean, I ... oh, hell, Jennifer, there's nothing to do here!" He dissolved the crystal and handed her back the clipboard.
"Now I know you've been hanging around Colonel Sheppard too long," she teased him. "But it's nice to see you using your powers again."
Rodney frowned. "What do you mean?"
John blinked and walked in. "You mean nobody told you?"
"Told me what?"
"That was the first clue something had gone very wrong with you." John stood by his bed. "You lost the ability to form crystal."
Rodney looked at him wide-eyed. Jennifer slid out of the room after a cursory examination.
John shrugged. "I know. The power loss didn't show up at all on any scans --- and then Teyla and Rodney remembered Second Childhood. And then we found the parasite...."
"You....stayed," Rodney whispered, eyes still wide. "I remember.... being on the pier at five AM?"
"You tried to get me to say goodbye."
"I don't remember that --- but if I know you, you wouldn't do it."
John shook his head. "Glad I didn't."
"Yeah, me too. Hey." Rodney held out his hand, palm up.
John lay his right hand in the palm, knowing what Rodney wanted. What he'd done many, many times. What he had not been able to do for the long, torturous weeks of the Second Childhood.
Rodney smiled and touched the wristband. When John pulled away seconds later, he wore a crystal bracelet formed over the black cloth.
The first time Rodney had put it there, he'd said, "To remember me when you see it." It had since become a visible symbol of their friendship, and both felt awkward when it wasn't there.
Now, it was a symbol to both of them of that friendship tested by catastrophe -- and forged closer than ever.
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