Rodney didn't see the flash of lightning so much as he sensed it. Locked in a dark closet, he couldn't really see anything, but the crackle of ozone in air was rather distinctive.
When the inevitable crack of thunder sounded, he felt his legs start to give way. The humidity rose as the rain began to fall, and it was all suddenly too much.
It was his own fault, he supposed. Mom was at the hospital having a baby and Dad was with her and everyone else was asleep. Dad always said his curiosity would get the better of him one day.
Now he'd just have to wait till Grandmother woke up or Dad got home. He'd be let out eventually. He just had to wait.
But it was hard to wait with the lightning flashing and the thunder rumbling and the rain making it so humid and he couldn't breathe right and were the walls closing in? But what choice did he have?
Curled into a miserable ball on the closet floor, the six-year-old looked over at the softly glowing yo-yo beside him. Suddenly, the intense desire to see if it really would glow in the dark as advertised just seemed stupid.
Miserable and overwhelmed and terrified, Rodney began to cry.
The bed dipped and Rodney stirred just enough to realise he was no longer alone. He felt a gentle hand card through his hair and heard a gentle male voice whisper, "Shhh, you're safe now. You're safe, you're home. I've got you."
He felt an answering noise come out of himself, but he wasn't awake enough to realise what kind it was. He felt warmth along his back and the hand never stopped the soothing touches and it was just too much trouble to wake up.
After all, he was safe and protected.
Of course, this would have to happen his very first night permanently away from home.
Building that working model of a nuclear bomb in sixth grade had accomplished his purposes. Firstly, it got the bullies off his back and secondly, it snapped his parents out of their delusions and helped them realise hey, yes, he's bored out of his mind, he needs to move up a few grades!
The visit from the American CIA hadn't hurt, either....
So here we was, a college freshman at 14, spending his first night in a dorm room in Massachusetts, a very long way from Toronto.
And, of course, it stormed.
While his roommates slept, oblivious to the flashing lightning and rumbling thunder and the torrents of rain streaking past his fifth floor window, Rodney stood a respectful distance from the window, arms wrapped around himself, watching the storm with wide blue eyes.
And desperately wishing his mother was there to hold him and give him some hot chocolate.
Once more, he stirred when the bed dipped. Once more, there were soothing touches and whispered sounds made to quiet his sounds of distress.
But this time, the hands were smaller and the words were in a female voice. "All is well, Rodney. I promise you, all is well. You are not alone. You will never be alone again."
He gasped slightly as he felt himself cocooned by warmth and realised he was being held front and back.
"You are not alone," the woman whispered again and he felt himself trust her completely.
And fell back to sleep.
He howled as the knife bit deeply into his arm, bringing his blood out into the open. He felt nothing but shame as he babbled away, trying desperately to save both himself and Elizabeth.
But it wasn't working. Nothing was working with this madman. He was hell-bent on murder, insane, and he was in their city!
And, of course, it was storming. Lightning and thunder all around, rain coming down in torrential sheets....
The world always went to hell when it was storming. Just once, they couldn't be facing megalomaniacal aliens when the sun was shining brightly and anywhere away from Atlantis? No, it had to be lousy weather. It had to be storming.
He wasn't sure he was going to make it out of this. He clutched his bleeding arm and mentally sent up "I'm sorry"s to everyone he knew that was in this fix with him. He didn't know what was going to happen next.
And the lightning flash blinded him as the thunder deafened him. Too close. Too damned close....
Rodney woke with a stifled scream, to find himself unable to move. He had warmth pressing from either side of him, and there was a warm palm pressing on his forehead.
"Easy, McKay," a deep voice rumbled as the palm's pressure eased a bit. "You're safe. It was just a dream."
"No," Rodney whispered. "No, they were...they were memories." He flinched as lightning lit the room to reveal Ronon withdrawing his hand. "Hate storms," he breathed. "Bad stuff always happens when it storms."
"Not this time." Ronon smiled and gestured at the bed where Rodney lay. "We won't let it."
"We?" Rodney woke up enough that he could figure out that the warmth was bodies pressed against his. He raised the lights slightly. Looking down his body, he gasped to see a man's arm adorned with the homemade bracelet that John wore off-duty was locked securely around his waist, and that he was loosely holding a sleeping Teyla in his arms. He looked up at Ronon, his eyes huge with confusion.
Ronon chuckled. "Whenever it storms at night you have a hard time sleepin'. Nightmares. Sheppard coaxes Atlantis into letting us in. Usually we just touch you and you settle down. Tonight, it was bad."
"Exhausted from the mission. Sheppard crawled up there to settle you down and he went to sleep a few minutes later. Teyla did the same when you started getting restless again. She never moved off, and I found her asleep. Then you started getting restless again and I tried to settle you. Didn't mean to wake you."
"That's okay." Rodney squirmed. "Uh, could you coax Colonel Clingy to let me go so I can" he gestured toward the bathroom.
Ronon's grin only spread as he lifted John's arm and let Rodney slide out of the bed via the foot of it.
On his way to the bathroom, Rodney turned. "So this is a team thing, then. Soothe the scientist?"
Ronon thought about it. "Nah. More like an 'us' thing helpin' our friend."
Rodney pondered that all the way through taking care of business. When he came out of the bathroom, he saw Ronon had joined the others in sleep, curled up at the foot of the bed in a near-fetal position. Easily woken from that if necessary.
Rodney studied them. His three teammates made a 'U' on the large prescription mattress. Teyla had rolled over and was now facing outward, her hands curled near her face and her legs relaxed.
John had rolled over as well and was also facing outward, his arm dangling ludicrously off the side of the bed and his chin tucked almost to his chest. And Ronon had started to softly snore.
They'd done this. For him. That thought made him feel well, indescribably good.
But there seemed to be something missing from the picture they made.
Smiling, Rodney realised what it was. He padded across the room, crawled over Teyla's legs managing to not disturb any of them, and how cool was that? -- and took his place in the middle of the 'U'.
Instantly, John murmured and shifted until he had his arm around Rodney's waist again. Teyla snuffled softly and rolled over, her arm curling around Rodney above John's. And he felt Ronon move, one hand closing over Rodney's ankle.
"Rest," Ronon rumbled sleepily. "We're watching over you." Rodney took comfort from that, and found himself asleep in mere seconds.
No more nightmares disturbed his rest. He even found himself ignoring the storm as it continued to rage outside.
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