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[ Take Your Self-Importance and Shove It ]
It's either the balled up nerves sitting heavily in the pit of her stomach or morning sickness, but it doesn´t matter much when Jeanie raises her hand to knock on the door only to have to turn and dash to the side of the walk to puke in the bushes.
Everyone's been saying she´d get used to it, and that saltines would help, but all she knows is that she's getting real damn sick of puking at least three or four times a day. And morning sickness? Ha! Try morning, afternoon, and evening sickness. Sometimes 2 and 4 in the morning sickness. Sickness that is Indiscriminate Towards Time of Day more like.
Wiping her mouth she walks back over to the door and raps three times sharply. Rodney opens the door and blinks blearily at her, hair disheveled, coffee stains on his grey t-shirt, boxers twisting in what had to be an incredibly uncomfortable way. Jeannie?’
Hi,’ she says, bulldozing past him and going towards the kitchen, running the water in the sink and cupping her hands to get a few mouthfuls, which she spits back into the sink. Walking over to his fridge she grabs a bottle of Ginger Ale and swigs half the thing down while Rodney stands there, still sleepily blinking at her.
Yes, Mer, it´s me, hi,’ she says, walking over to him and patting him on the shoulder and walking back out into his den, sitting down on the sofa and wiping at her mouth. She crosses one leg over the other and bounces it agitatedly until he finally follows her and sinks down into the couch next to her. Sleeping late?’
Only just went to bed,’ he says, yawning mightily and swiping at his eyes. I was up really, really late doing the last ’ He pauses and cuts her a look. Just, up really late.’
Yes, yes, top secret, can´t discuss with me, whatever,’ she says, turning to face him. I need to tell you something.’
He nods, and she thinks finally he´s awake enough to really be taking her appearance and mood in because he´s starting to look a little nervous. Ok.’
And you can´t be a jerk about it, okay,’ she says, chewing on her lip. You have to be nice to me.’
He frowns. When am I not nice to--’
She snorts. Please.’
Okay, okay, but usually I try to be, ya know as much as I can,’ he says, and it´s true, he does try harder with her than anyone else. Calls her an idiotic moron with far less frequency than other people. I´ll be nice to you,’ he says finally, nodding.
He freezes, and then a silence stretches for three, four seven seconds.
I´m processing,’ he says, barely audible. There is another excruciatingly long silence.
Well,’ she says, waving her hand around. Process faster.’
He stands up and walks to the other side of the room. You´re.’
Pregnant,’ he says, and then, his face twisting, Pregnant?’
She nods, watching him. About 8 weeks along, but I just officially found out a week ago.’
He covers his face with his hands, peeking at her from behind his fingers. What how did this, no, scratch that, my little sister is having sex, that´s how this happened, I really, really don´t need the details, but no, yes, how the hell did this happen?!’
She glared at him. Well he brought me flowers and cooked me dinner and lit candles--’
Jeannie, that´s not what I´m asking and you know it,’ he yells, dropping his hands from his face and pointing angrily at her. Haven´t you ever heard of condoms?!’
And spermicidal jelly, yes, Mer, I actually have, but guess what? Not an exact science, and ooops, the laws of probability didn´t fall on my side this go around, so pregnant!’
He paces, running his fingers through his hair. Well you´re not keeping it.’
She barks out a laugh. Excuse me?’
He shakes his head. I don´t mean, not that I´m telling you ’ He frowns. You´re not are you? I mean, there are many different options.’
She narrows her eyes at him. Funnily enough, Mer, I don´t really want to pass off my own flesh and blood to be raised by someone else.’ She grits her teeth. This is my puppy, I´m going to clean up after it, Dad, can I keep ‘im, huh huh please? Are you serious?’
He sinks down into a chair, his hands hanging loosely between his legs. Jeannie, don´t be stupid. This isn´t like having a puppy, this is this is going to ruin your life.’
I´m not a moron, Meredith, I know it´s not like having a pet, I was mocking your caveman knee-jerk reaction that made you think you could tell me that I´m not keeping this baby.’ Her hand goes to her stomach and she rubs her thumb across it.
He rolls his eyes. Jeannie.’
No,’ she says, slapping her knee with her hand. And what happened to you being nice to me about this? I´m freaked out, Mer, I needed you to be supportive!’
Well, I´m sorry,’ he says, laughing derisively, but I can´t be supportive of my little sister being a moron and getting herself knocked up!’
She feels tears spring to her eyes but she angrily wills them away. It wasn´t exactly planned, jerk.’
He sits there silently for a few more moments, studying her. Who,’ he asks finally, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair.
Caleb,’ she says, smiling softly.
He stares at her blankly.
She rolls her eyes. The English major.’
Oh, God,’ he says, burying his head in his hands. Couldn´t you at least pick someone equally as smart as you to procreate accidentally with, Jesus, an English major.’
She glares at him. I love Caleb, Meredith. He makes me happy.’
Well not for long he won´t,’ Rodney says, looking back up at her. When the diapers start happening and the puke and the crying and the screaming and the Jesus, Jeannie, how could you be so stupid!’
She stands, knowing that the tears are coming and she won´t be able to hold them back this time. Thanks, Mer. You´re such a great brother. I´m so glad Mom and Dad aren´t here anymore, it gives us such an opportunity to form such a wonderful, strong, supportive bond with one another.’
You´re lucky they´re not here anymore,’ Rodney spits out, following her on the way to the door. Dad would be so disappointed in you!’
She laughs and looks at him. Go to hell.’
They don´t speak for the seven remaining months of her pregnancy and she cries every night for the first week with Caleb holding her in his arms and telling her everything´s gonna be alright.
He´s all I have left,’ she says. Why does he have to be such a dick?’
You have me,’ Caleb says, and she smiles. And the baby. You have your own family now,’ and she hugs him tight and decides Rodney´s not worth her tears anymore.
The first day home from the hospital after Maddie´s born Caleb is in class and Jeannie packs a few diapers and bottles into a big beach bag and plans on going grocery shopping. She finds herself in front of Rodney´s apartment complex instead, in the complete opposite direction from the supermarket.
He opens the door in rumpled khaki´s and a t-shirt she bought him. I thought you might like to meet your niece,’ she says, lifting the baby carrier and gesturing for him to move aside so she can come in.
She sets the carrier down on the couch and Rodney sits down beside and peers inside and his mouth plays on a hint of a smile. She´s beautiful,’ he says, reaching down the swipe a finger down her cheek. Looking up at her he grins. Oh, Jeannie, she´s gorgeous.’
She bursts out in simultaneous tears and laughter and he hugs her until she´s able to breathe properly again and says I´m an asshole, I know, I know, I can´t help it, it just comes out, I´m sorry’ against her hair.
You were a dick,’ she says, and she swats him and then laughs again, and proceeds to talk for an hour about what oh my god pain there is when you´re giving birth and how she and Caleb are planning to get married and yes she knows that´s backwards but she´s never really played by the rules anyway and how looking at Maddie´s little face makes everything, everything, everything worth it
He nods along and pretends to be listening even though she´s sure she lost him five minutes in.
It´s a temporary reprieve of course because Rodney always has been and always will be a conceited, self-important jackass.
So you´ll be returning to school in the fall, yes,’ he asks one Sunday afternoon, feeding Maddie mashed up and pureed string beans out of a jar.
She chews her lip and knows what´s going to come but says it anyway. No.’
His hand stills. No.’
I´m not going back to school,’ she says, focusing on him.
His jaw clenches and he slowly puts the jar of string beans down and turns to face her. You mean in the fall. You´ll be returning in the Spring though.’ She shakes her head. Summer?’
His mouth opens several times and then he stands, pacing before facing her. Certainly you don´t mean that you´ll never be returning?’
She meets his eyes. I don´t want to be like Mom and Dad. I want to spend time with my kids. Have fun with my kids. Be a comfort to my kids.’
He snorts. Yes, living on an English Major´s salary.’
She rolls her eyes. Money isn´t everything, Mer.’
No, but it´s important,’ he says, shaking his head and pacing a bit. I don´t think you understand how colossally stupid you´re being.’
She glares up at him. Thought you were making an effort here. You´ve been great since you decided to get your head out of your ass and be supportive of me, why has that changed?’
You have too good of a mind to waste, Jeannie,’ he yells, and she looks at Maddie. Not old enough to hold up her own head but still, that volume and tone can´t be giving her positive feelings. You should be out there making a contribution, using your mind for something other than, what, standing barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Is that what you really want to be, Jeannie? A baby machine who makes cookies and wears cardigans?’
I´m not going to pawn off my kid to a day care center so I can go out and selfishly pursue my career.’
No, what´s selfish is you taking yourself out of the game,’ he says, voice quieting just slightly when Maddie makes a noise. He looks down at her and his expression softens. I´m not saying parenthood isn´t a worthy goal, I´m saying Jeannie, you´re so smart. You could be out there making a contribution to the world. You´re depriving the world of everything that you could be doing because you want to play house!’
I don´t want to play house, Meredith, I want to be a Mother!’ She stands up and walks until she´s in his face, pointing her finger in his chest. Maybe we don´t all want to be this great Next Coming of the Christ scientist, Mer, maybe I don´t give a shit about credit and ego and curing the world. Maybe I don´t want to be you, with no life and no friends to speak of and the only thing you have to look forward to is some Doctor Who episodes and really good coffee, okay?’
He looks hurt, and she feels bad, but she refuses to take it back, refuses to apologize, because it´s true, and he hurt her first.
Maybe I don´t want to corner away in an office, miserable and alone. Maybe I like living, having friends, maybe I like the idea of spending more time with Caleb and my daughter and being a good Mom.’ She looks at him and pleads with him with her eyes to please, just try to understand. This is what I want, Meredith. Family. Love. Home. A sense of self. I can go back to work and back to science when Maddie´s older, but right now? I just want to be happy.’
He looks at her and his lower jaw sticks out and he crosses his arms and she knows the battle is lost before he even opens his mouth.
That´s stupid,’ he says, and that´s it. She´s done.
She doesn´t hear from him or speak to him for four more years, when she´s standing there with her heart in her throat as Maddie hugs him without prejudice in her front doorway.
And she´s so distracted by everything, by subspace and theoretical physics not being quite so theoretical anymore and aliens that want to kill you, that she forgets those four years of angry silence.
When the alternate version of Rodney shows up though, she´s reminded through him at what could have been, how Rodney could have and should have been Uncle Mer, a Godfather, a brother, could have and should have been a part of her life, a part of Maddie´s, a part of Christmases and birthdays and weekend barbecue´s.
She thinks, after that awful fight in the lab with all of Rodney´s colleagues and her brother from another universe´s timeline watching, that she´ll never be able to forgive him. She thinks, he doesn´t even think he´s wrong, he doesn´t even care.
She thinks, after this, it´s over. She´s done.
Rodney´s pretty sure you hate him,’ John says, leaning in her doorway on her last night there. It´s distracting how sexy he is but she´s so furious at Rodney she just goes back to packing her bags. I take it he´s not wrong?’
I don´t hate him,’ she says, shoving a shirt in her bag and wiping away a stray tear. I just no, yeah, I kind of hate him.’
He´s pretty hard to deal with,’ John says, walking into her room without her inviting him in, a laptop under one arm. Petty. Arrogant. Bad with people. He´ll even admit to it.’
She laughs, sitting down on her bed to look at him. How the hell do you put up with him?’
He shrugs, sitting down. Kinda hard to hate a guy that´s saved your ass about a million times.’
I think you know a side of him that I don´t.’ She chews on her lip. You guys seem to actually like him. You, Teyla, Ronon. Elizabeth. Even Radek, which, I do not understand, because Mer is awful to him. But you seem to all like him. Like, genuinely.’
John grins. Yeah. We´re kinda used to him.’
She shakes her head. I don´t hate him. I´m just so angry at him.’
John puts the laptop on the bed. There´s something I thought you should see,’ he says, opening it up and navigating through a few folders. She´s pretty sure the folder it´s ultimately located in is labeled For when You Feel the Urge to Murder McKay.
Just, like you said, I think maybe there´s a side of him you haven´t seen. Opening the .avi file he hits pause before it can play. And before you go on for the rest of your life kind of hating him, maybe you should see it.’
It´s long. He talks about leadership (or tries to, many, many times) and being hunted by the wraith and he talks about impossible odds. He talks about their dog, and he talks about girls he´s loved but never had chances with, and he talks about their Dad.
Then he talks about her, and she´s crying and thankful that John´s turns his head and pretended to be reading a magazine, but she´s forgiven Rodney before he even started talking about her and now that he has she doesn´t even know why she was so angry to begin with.
And it comes back to her like a flash, the one thing she should have always remembered: Their Mom and Dad fought and were miserable for years and years, and it was because they´d always resented the sacrifices they´d had to make when their Mom had gotten pregnant with Rodney.
It´s the first time it´s occurred to her that maybe that´s where this whole thing came from. From Rodney not wanting her to be like their Mom. From Rodney not wanting her kid to wind up like him.
And even if it´s not, even if Rodney´s just an ass, it´s always been true that Rodney always has been and always will be a conceited, self-important jackass, but he was her brother, and she loved him, and he loved her.
All the other stuff is just bullshit.
Further Notes: Okay, what episode was it in SG1 where Rodney blew up Sam's hand? LOL. Because it's... I think Redemption Part 2? He says to her that music was his salvation from an "uncomfortable childhood" sicne his parents were always fighting "because of [him]." And it's never fully clarified, I don't think, but I've always read it as him disrupting their lives, that resentment people get, "I coulda been something and then YOU came along." I don't know. And I always thought it was his MOM that was the scientist whose life got disrupted but they said his Dad was a scientist, so it may not be. But then again, it could have been that they were both scientists and his Dad got to be one because the man's life is never all that messed up from unexpected pregnancies but the woman's life inevitably is, and maybe she used to be too but couldn't any longer be once they had Rodney. Anyway, that's my take on it.