A Ballad of Youth

Summary: John just doesn’t know when to keep his hands to himself… NOTE:This story was written for a recepient on LiveJournal’s helpthesouth fundraiser. It is not one of our best works but we are proud we survived writing it regardless.
Pairing: John Sheppard/Samantha Carter
Author(s): Cowritten with Buggy
Warning(s): None

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Sam was frustrated. Just as she and John had planned a day to talk things over – Sam had caught him masturbating in the showers and he had ended up pulling a fully clothed Carter underneath the shower with him despite him having to go on a mission and had kissed her senseless. Of course he did. What else is there to do? He had already been a menace on the days that he was on medical leave as John was never good at sitting on his hands idly, and now he was off again.

She didn’t care that John’s team was the most valuable and that they were being pushed to their limits every single week. She had been, and probably still was, on the SGC’s main team for years, but still. They needed to talk.

All the people currently on Atlantis were equally important and valued. It would be a relief to her not to see John’s team, or just John, in the infirmary for a week. Or longer. But no. McKay had found an ancient lab in the database and they hadn’t checked it out previously and instead of sending a science team over to check it out, he pulled John along with him.

‘Dinner tonight’ was going to have to wait. Not that the mess hall was the ideal place to sit down and have a private conversation, but maybe it was for the better. After their encounter in the showers, they had had sex occasionally; whenever they needed some release that working out didn’t give them.

Also, she had had a lot of pleasant dreams after their encounter in the showers and despite it making her feel a little guilty – her heart still belonged to Jack but he was galaxies away – and things hadn’t been the same between them since. John was her second in command. They needed to have a good professional relationship. Had they not chosen the mess hall as their rendez-vous point, she could as well have jumped his bones.

‘Dinner tonight’ was turning into breakfast, then lunch and then another dinner and the team still wasn’t back from their mission. Sam was awoken quite abruptly when the call came in that John’s team had returned; with John being unconscious.

She was ready to shred Rodney to pieces, she was sure that he was the reason why John spend so much time in the infirmary. Even last week, John took the blame for something Rodney had done and Dr. Morales had ended up humiliating the good colonel in the middle of a town square filled with chanting women. She didn’t even want to think about the fact that maybe in nine months time, that village would have John’s babies… however, they could have been Rodney’s babies and as much as she had grown to like the man with his antics, she feared that Rodney’s off spring would be even more difficult to deal with than miniature John’s.

Ever since their encounter, Sam couldn’t help but feeling like a lioness when it came to John, her cub, even though the man was perfectly able to help himself and even though they had not seen each other after he had left. It was something in her genes, maybe.

As she ran in to the gate room, followed by orderlies and nurses and Dr. Morales, she saw how Ronon appeared from the gate, dragging John along with him. “What happened?” she asked as she helped Ronon lower John to the ground and onto a gurney.

“I told him not to touch anything!” Rodney said defensively. “But no, when a console wasn’t responding to me, he just had to touch it.”

“What kind of console?” Dr. Morales asked as she checked for his vitals quickly. He wasn’t dead, which was good. His heart rate was slow, which was usual for a person being unconscious but she couldn’t remember John having such a slow heart rate. “Get him to the infirmary. Rodney, you’re coming with.” Worried, Sam decided to follow the parade.

“I have no idea what kind of console it was.” Rodney said as he followed them to the infirmary. “It took us several hours to get to the lab from the gate and it was dark when we got there. The console came to life after he touched it and zapped him.”

Zapped him? That didn’t sound too good. “What happened after that?”

“He was fine for about an hour before he collapsed in agony, and we started to head back to the gate, but as I said, it took us hours to get there and it’s a lot harder to navigate in the dark!”

Sam bit her lip and sighed. “When did he fall unconscious?”

“About an hour ago.”

“Thank you Rodney,” Dr. Morales said as they arrived in the infirmary.

“Will he be okay?”

Dr. Morales glared at Rodney who looked honestly worried. “I don’t know, I know more in a while, let me do my job.”

“Maybe I should get Carson, since you and John…”

Wait, what about her and John? Sam made a note of reading the file of Dr. Morales. As far as she knew, there was nothing between John and the doctor, unless they had started to see each other recently.

“That won’t be necessary.” Dr. Morales pushed the orderlies aside after they had put John on a bed and started to strip him from his vest and shirt in order to hook him up on the monitor.

Does he look younger? Sam wondered silently as Morales looked for eye activity with her light. She then put him under the scanner and at first glance, nothing seemed to be wrong with him.

“Come on John, wake up.” Morales drew some blood and hooked him up on a saline drip to keep him hydrated. John was unconscious alright, she just hoped that a closer look on the scans and his blood work could make her determine what was going on.

It wasn’t long before Morales cleared the infirmary, making Sam retreat to her office, waiting for anything new on the Colonel’s condition. The doctor was a capable woman and regardless of the history that she knew they shared, she was nothing but professional around Atlantis with him and that was the only solice that Carter could take for the time while she was left struggling with her own thoughts.

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Sam decided to check up on John around 7 am. Dr. Morales was asleep at her computer and there was a child crying. It came from John’s bed and for a moment she thought someone was pulling a prank on her.

Making her way over to John’s bed, she gasped in shock. Instead of a grown man, a child, about the age of 10, sat on the bed, crying his eyes out. “Uhm…”

“Sam!” The child jumped up and ran over it to throw itself at her. She just managed to catch him so the boy wouldn’t fall and wow, he was heavy!

“That’s me, who are you?” She reached for a washing cloth and started to clean the boy’s face as she sat him back down on the bed. “Why are you so sad?” She asked, “More importantly, where is John?” She could tell that the clothes the boy was wearing were far too big for a child, and that the shirt that hung around the boy was in fact John’s, but it just couldn’t be John, could it?

“I’m John!” He started to tug on his dark unruly hair. “See? That’s me!”

“No, you can’t be John.”

“I am, I am… I am!” the boy insisted. “I… I… woke up, found I shrinked.”

“You shrunk?”

“That’s what I say!” The boy pouted. “I’m hungry.”

Sam glanced over to the bed and saw it was empty. If this boy truly was John, Rodney was going to be in big trouble. “Alright… I’m going to wake up Dr. Morales to run a few quick tests on you to-”

“It’s me.”

Granted, the boy did look like a miniature version of Colonel John Sheppard, but she just couldn’t believe it. She needed proof first and then alert Carson, and Woolsey and see what happens after that. She crossed her arms and looked at the boy. “Prove it.”

“It’ll gross you out.” The boy answered with John’s trade mark smirk on his face. “It grosses me out thinking about it.”

“What?”

“A few months ago you walked in on me when I was in the showers jerking off.”

“Yes, hearing that coming from a kid…” She shook her head. “Where are we?”

“Atlantis, I ain’t stupid.”

“I’m not impressed.”

“You have a birthmark on your ass.” iJohn/i said proudly. “If I am an alien with mind reading abilities, I can’t have know that.”

“Your language skills certainly declined,” Sam said making a face. Rodney was in trouble now!

“Can I get a sandwich now?”

“Yeah…” she looked at John oddly. “How are you feeling?”

“HUNGRY!”

Sighing, she walked to the breakfast cart that the kitchen had seen when she had walked in and grabbed a tray of it. She sat down next to John’s bed and put the tray on his side table. “I’ll have to wake up Dr. Morales and Carson and then inform Woolsey about your condition.”

John grabbed the jello off the tray and started to eat it. “Coffee?”

“You’re what? Ten?”

“And?”

“Iced tea.” Sam smiled, secretly enjoying herself that her John was a small boy now, well not small. He was about her height now.

“No thanks.” He made a face and held out his hand. “Radio please.”

“Why?”

“So I can yell at Rodney and tell him to fix this.”

“You’re not going to do that until I’ve informed Woolsey and Carson…”

“Sam…”

“John, don’t make me pull rank. I am going to make sure the doc will wake up and she’s still going to run tests on you to see if you’re not further de-aging or if you have a virus or anything like that. You’re not going anywhere and you are certainly not going to do work related things. I will yell at Rodney for you.”

“You can’t stop me.” John said with a full mouth. “I run faster.”

“The infirmary is equipped with restraints and sleep medication.” Dr. Morales’ voice sounded from behind them, she sounded sleepy and when Carter looked at her she was looking at John with wide eyes. “What on Earth…”

He pouted. “You’re mean!”

“Eat your breakfast.” Sam said, “I’m going to fill in the good doctor here.”

“You’re mean! You’re a big meanie!”

Dr. Elsa Morales didn’t believe a word Sam was saying and was ready to get iher/i admitted to the infirmary as well to check up on her mental health. “If you have a history with Sheppard, I suggest you ask him something he could only know if you don’t believe me without running tests on him.” Sam suggested. “I’m going to wake up Rodney and look through the data they collected yesterday, don’t worry Elsa, I’ve dealt with a teenage Jack before, I’m sure John will be a walk in the park.”

Elsa continued to stare at John before looking over at Carter. “I am not so sure. You didn’t know him like I did back then,” she said before silently pointing at the Colonel’s bed for him to go back to it.

“Ah, yes. You both grew up together before joining the Air Force. I remember reading that in your files,” Sam said as she looked back at the boy who had narrowed his eyes on the doctor. “I’ll go find and deal with McKay. Keep me updated.”

“Will do,” came the reply before the sounds of bickering filled the infirmary between the doctor and kid!John.

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Of course, there’s a icrisis/i going on and the leader of Atlantis is leaving her to looking after said crisis. Elsa kept John in a line of sight as she went about to radio Woolsey and Carson and gathered a tray to draw some blood from John’s arm. “I know, Carson, you have to see it to believe it…” she said over the radio and then heard the sound of feet on the cold infirmary floor. “John! Get back to bed!”

“NO!”

She radioed Woolsey as she started to run after John, who made it halfway down the corridor without tripping over the over-sized shirt he was wearing before bumping in to Ronon. “Stop that child!” she told Ronon who reached for the boy’s shirt and lifted him off the floor.

“Who’s this?”

“Sheppard,” Elsa said, thankful for Ronon’s fast actions. John smirked at Ronon as Elsa took his hand after Ronon set him down again. “And he’s being a pain in the ass.”

“That’s Sheppard?” Ronon chuckled. “No way.”

“Check his bed, it’s empty.” Elsa started to walk back to the infirmary as John started to pull on her shirt.

“Let me go!”

“No, I’m not done with you yet.” She closed the infirmary doors behind her. “Must you really be this petulant?”

“I don’t like it in here.”

“I know that. Please, John, I beg of you, don’t act out.” She set him back down on the bed and got the tray so she could draw some blood. “Give me your arm.”

“NO!” John said with big eyes. “Are you insane?”

“I’m a doctor, you know full well I need a new batch of your blood to compare it to the sample I took from you when you were still an adult.” Elsa rolled her eyes when John’s eyes started to tear up. “That won’t work on me,” she said as she put on a pair of gloves. “Be a big boy and eh… I’ll give you some more jello.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.” Elsa said, worried about John’s transformation. Not only had did he have the physique of a ten year old, his mental state was starting to get on her nerves too. She had never been comfortable with children, and this was only different because this boy wasn’t supposed to be a boy but an adult. “It won’t hurt that much, it’s just a little pinch, you know the drill.” Even though Elsa wasn’t close friends with Carter – yet – she wished the woman had stayed with them.

John squeezed his eyes shut as Elsa withdrew some blood. She put a band-aid on his arm after she was done and handed him a cup of jello. She was relieved when the doors went open and Carson stepped through the doors. “Close the door!” She told him. “John’s a flight risk.”

“Isn’t he always, lass?” Carson sounded chipper but his smile faded when he saw a bored mini John sitting on the bed, smearing Jello all over his hair. “Good lord!”

“Hi!” John smiled widely. “You talk funny!”

“It’s not just his body that looks like a ten year old, he acts like one and yet, still has all the memories of his adult self.” Elsa informed Carson. “Last night I drew some blood and made scans, and I have only just been able to draw blood from him.”

“Let me take care of that, why don’t you take the Colonel for a shower before he makes the whole infirmary a safety hazard?”

“That’s it? You’re not even doubting my own sanity?”

“I am sure he has told you details that only you know to prove that he is indeed our Colonel Sheppard, Elsa.” Carson smiled at her. “Let’s see if we can find a medical explanation for his condition.”

“It’s Rodney’s fault!” John yelled. “Well no, it’s iyours/i, because his ATA-gene isn’t all that great and iI/i had to touch the console and it was iI/i who turned into this!”

“Keep your voice down, young man!” Carson said sternly. “Control your temper, this is not our fault, nor yours, don’t take it out on me or Elsa or even Rodney. Accidents happen.”

“At least I’m not turning into a bug this time!” John kept yelling.

“Alright, that’s enough out of you.” Elsa lifted John off the bed and put him on the floor. Taking his hand, she dragged him to the bathroom that was attached to the infirmary. “Did you really have to put the jello in your hair?”

John shrugged. “I was bored and needed a shower anyway.”

She closed the bathroom door behind her and reached for the shower to turn it on. “Let me know if this is too hot or too cold.”

“COLD!” John said as he walked underneath the spray. “Warmer please!”

“Pull your shirt off mister.”

“Oh… that is an idea.” John nodded shivering. “Too HOT!”

It was ten minutes later when the temperature was finally right and John had discarded his over-sized shirt. Elsa was glad to see that the scars of John’s old injuries were still present, but that along with the obvious changes to his body, all the hair he had on it had disappeared as well.

“You checking me out?” John asked as he was gurgling some water in his mouth. “That’s reason to throw you in jail you know.”

“I am not!” Elsa rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Go wash your hair.”

“Why? I like the water, I could stay here all day!”

“Well I can’t.”

“You don’t have to babysit me, you can get Teyla but I don’t need someone to look after me.”

“Carter ordered me to.”

“I promise I won’t climb into a jumper and fly off,” he tried to barter with her.

“Like I believe that. And you wouldn’t be able to reach the controls anyway.” Elsa chuckled as she sat down on the toilet seat. “Hurry up.”

“No.” John smiled widely as he started to splash water into Elsa’s direction.

“Don’t make me ground you.”

“I’m already grounded! I don’t see how much closer to the floor I can get without hitting the deck!”

“You know what I mean.” Elsa said tiredly. “Please John, just wash your hair and your body and get out from under the shower so you can dry yourself off.”

“You’d like that, would you?” John waggled his eyebrows.

“Stop that.”

“Party pooper.” John pouted as he picked up the body wash from the floor and started to wash his hair and body. “Done.”

She got up and handed him a towel. “Here you go.” She took a dry towel and handed him a dry towel to cover himself up. “I will have to find you something to wear,” she said as she exited the bathroom and ran into Woolsey.

“I… my God.” Woolsey reacted. “Is that? Are you sure we’re not all hallucinating?”

“You’re not hallucinating Mr. Woolsey. Right now I wish we were,” Elsa answered.

“Hi! You’re bald!”

“John, stop it!” She snapped, having wanted to strangle him. She really wanted to hurt him but man he knew how to get under her skin. She took a deep breath to try to compose herself. “We’re going to find something for him to wear. If all fails, well…”

“Are you sure you’re taking him out of the infirmary?” Woolsey asked.

“He’s not contagious, and his transformation hasn’t been caused by a virus as far as I am aware. I see no reason to keep him here other than his appearance.” Elsa said. “Until Carson has checked his blood work and says otherwise, I’m taking him out.”

“This is Rodney’s fault, I need to yell at him.”

“We’ll see.” Elsa took him to his quarters and settled for giving him a shirt of his own for the time being. She tied a knot at the bottom of a shirt, handed him a pair of shorts that needed to have a knot at the waist line and made him wear his over-sized socks.

“I look ridiculous.”

“Well I’m sorry John, Torren’s still a baby, I doubt Teyla has big boy clothes laying around and for the lack of better and getting you somewhat more presentable than wearing a towel, this will have to do.”

“Fine.” John said and took Elsa’s hand. “Let’s go and tell Rodney that he needs to fix me.”

“I thought you didn’t need a babysitter?” Elsa mused.

“I don’t,” he grumbled and pulled her along with him.

Elsa rolled his eyes at him as she followed him towards Rodney’s laboratory. “Please control yourself.”

“Stop sounding like my mother.”

“What! I…” Elsa huffed as she opened the door. “Rodney? Are you in here?”

“Yes, what?” Rodney’s head popped up from behind a table. “Oh… that’s interesting.”

Sam looked up from the computer and shook her head. Elsa looked as if she was about to strangle someone and looking at John, Sam realized that the colonel was pushing her buttons.

John let go of Elsa’s hand and started to hit Rodney. “Fix me! This is your fault!”

“Ouch ouch!” Rodney cowered and then looked at Sam. “A little help here?”

“He has the body of a ten year old, I doubt he hits that hard.” Elsa hopped on one of the tables and looked at mini John’s attempt of beating the shit out of Rodney.

“How is this my fault? If I recall correctly, I wasn’t the one touching that console!”

“You better get your ass back there and figure out how to reverse it!”

Rodney looked at Sam in shock. “I am not taking him with me!”

“I don’t expect you to,” she replied simply. “But you’d better get your team together along with some scientists so you can fix him.”

“Will you come with?”

“Probably not,” Sam chuckled. “I think I can do more here, and I’m sure Elsa could use some help with dealing with the Colonel.”

“Oh yes, thank god!” Elsa cried with relief.

“And you better fix me! I have no intention of re-living puberty!” John had stopped hitting Rodney and just glared at him. “Well? What are you waiting for? Go!”

“You know, you can’t force me to do anything, maybe I’ll keep you pint sized like this, you’re easier to miss.” Rodney remarked as he started to gather his tablets.

Sam saw how John kicked Rodney in the shins. iOh that’s gotta hurt/i, she thought with a wince.

“Hey! That’s not fair, John. Rodney’s going to do his best. Now, let’s get something to eat, I’m starving.” Elsa hopped off the table and started to drag John away from Rodney. “Fix it, Rodney.”

“Let me go! I can take him!”

“I’m sure you can, John.” Elsa said as she pushed him in front of her. “But he’s also the only guy who can probably fix you, so you’re going to leave him alone for now. You’ve made your point. Colonel Carter, are you coming too?”

“Sure, why not,” Sam nodded as she took a tablet with her as she followed the two of them out of the lab.

“Can I get a coffee?”

“No.”

“I hate you.”

“I know.” Elsa said with a smile on her lips as they walked into the mess hall.

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Of course, everyone was looking at John and struggled to not laugh at him for his unfortunate transformation and it was up to a point where even John had enough of people staring at him. Or maybe that was just his young self, no patience whatsoever. Eventually, Sam sent Elsa to her quarters to catch up on her sleep and Sam took John to his quarters where he idly played with his skateboard. Between trying to focus on the data on the pad and John’s obnoxious behavior, she was tired. She was glad when it was 9 pm. Time for John to go to bed.

“Alright, go brush your teeth,” Sam said as she carefully placed the tablet next to her on the couch.

“Why?”

“You’re going to bed.”

“It’s 9 pm!” John balked as he threw his skateboard on the floor.

“You’re ten now.” Sam pointed out. “You need your sleep.”

“I’m not tired yet!”

“Go brush your teeth, John.”

John sulked as he went to the bathroom and Sam could hear him fooling around in there. She was not made to babysit, however, she wouldn’t want to inflict John’s teenage antics on anyone else either other than Elsa, who was currently asleep herself.

Comparing the unfortunate Jack cloning experiment of Loki with John’s transformation, she was glad that Jack hadn’t turned into a real teenager, only visibly. It seemed like Sheppard was deliberately causing trouble or that he didn’t really care that he acted like a child despite not wanting to re-live his puberty.

“You’re not going to tuck me in,” John said as he exited the bathroom and reluctantly crawled in his bed. “Nor are you going to stay the night.”

“I had no intention of staying, but I am going to have someone outside your door to make sure you don’t sneak off,” she smiled.

“Whatever,” John muttered. “Did you find anything yet?” He pointed towards her tablet that was on the couch. “Or does Rodney have to do all the work? Not that I mind, he earned it!”

Sam glared at him for a moment. “I was looking through the database but you know how much information is in there,” she said carefully. “Everyone is working on it. Now go to sleep. Hopefully you’ll be more tolerable in the morning.”

“I’m *not* going to sleep. I’m in bed, and I’m not going to sleep.”

She took a look at him before reaching up to her earcomm. “Carter to Morales,” she said simply. “We’re having some conflict with a certain someone not wanting to sleep.”

“I’ll be right there with something,” Elsa replied before disconnecting.

“Okay, it’s official; you’re evil.” John nodded and pulled the covers over his head.

A few minutes later the doctor arrived and looked over at the lump in the bed. “He’s not asleep,” she said as she looked over at Carter.

“Nope,” Sam shook her head. “Was he really this bad when he was a kid? Poor you.”

“Hey!” John protested sleepily. “She was worse!”

Elsa smiled at Sam and shook her head. “He really was. I could tell you stories of the stuff he talked me into pulling on his brother. You would never believe the trouble he got us into.”

“Me?” John pulled the covers off his head. “If I remember correctly it was you who convinced me to put peroxide in my brother’s shampoo bottle!”

“Don’t you dare to leave that bed,” Sam told him. “You’re going to sleep.”

“You didn’t object or stop me,” she grinned at him. “Kinda makes me want to almost do it again…”

Sam looked at John who was looking at the two women with a big grin on his face and then at Elsa. “You’re not even joking,” she said shocked.

“Nope. Imagine him with a blond mess on his head, full grown,” she smiled sweetly.

“Elsa…” John growled.

“You know, that doesn’t sound as threatening as it usually does,” Sam noted, “It’s actually cute now.”

Elsa nodded. “Yep. There are other more embarrassing things though I could tell you,” she added lightly as she eyed John with a look that communicated a shared knowledge of first times.

“NO!” John quickly said. “I’m sleeping! See? I’m sleeping!” He pulled the pillow over his head and tried to ignore the two women in his room.

Nodding again, more satisfied, she nudged Sam out towards the door. “Good to know that I can still win in the end,” she sighed. “There are some things that a man just doesn’t want shared no matter the cost.”

“If only that worked to get him to do his own paperwork from now on instead of handing it all to Major Lorne.” Sam shook her head as she went to pick up her tablet. “Thanks Elsa, sorry I had to wake you.”

“It’s alright. I know about Lorne and offered to help him but the man doesn’t mind it seems,” she shrugged. “This is why John hid for the first two weeks when I got here. He knew that I have a lot of information on him that no one else had. Even the Air Force.”

“I bet he has the same kind of information on you,” Sam chuckled.

“Stop talking about me, I want to sleep.”

The next morning, Sam hadn’t heard from Rodney yet and decided to dial the gate to ask him for an update. “Not yet, stupid thing doesn’t want to cooperate.”

“Rodney, are you alright?” Sam noticed how his voice sounded off.

“Zelenka and I have been… well… but we’re fine. In fact, the smaller hands make it a lot easier to… yeah… anyway, we’re normal. We’ve shrunk but that’s it.”

“Do you want me to come and help?”

“YES! However, that might not be a great idea… just in case we ican’t/i reverse the process.”

“Alright, Rodney, keep me posted, good luck.” She motioned for Chuck to disengage the gate when she saw Woolsey coming in. “Sorry Sir, they haven’t made progress yet. I’m just about to see if Sheppard wants some breakfast.”

Woolsey sighed and nodded. “Very well. Good luck with that Colonel.”

“Could be worse, I suppose,” Sam managed to smile. “He could have turned into a small child or a baby!”

“Considering the complaining Dr. Morales was making in the infirmary, I believe that he would be more manageable as an infant.”

“Oh well…” Shaking her head, she walked off to Sheppard’s quarters. She was worried about Rodney now too; the machine obviously had turned him into a kid as well, but he didn’t sound as childish as John. She needed to figure out iwhy/i but all she could do was speculate. Maybe Rodney was grown up for his age when he was little? “Yeah right,” she laughed. She opened the door to John’s quarters, finding him still in bed, rolled in in his blankets and laying on the end of the bed. “Wakey wakey.”

“Leave me alone!” John grumbled. Sam saw the lump on the bed shift until it fell off the bed. “Ow fuck!”

Sam chuckled and made her way over to Sheppard to start unwrapping him from his blankets. “Well at least you’re awake,” she said chipper.

“Please tell me you’ve brought coffee and good news.”

Carter tried hard not to laugh when she finally reached Sheppard’s head. “Uhm… no… and no news from Rodney yet… and ehm…” she couldn’t help but giggle madly and fall flat on her ass.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Sam giggled and continued to unwrap John from the blankets, not that he needed any help but he wasn’t doing anything to stop her. How was she going to tell that he had spots all over his face? “You should get dressed.”

“I’m not going to the mess hall for breakfast.”

“You can take your skateboard with you?”

“Alright, deal!” John jumped up and ran to his clothes before catching himself in the mirror. “Oh crap!”

Sam turned away, trying to look at anything else but her friend. “Perhaps some clothes?”

“Either I’ve got the measles, again, or those are spots. Ugh!” John got into the shorts he had been wearing the day before. “You don’t have to look away, you’ve seen it before.”

“I’ve seen you as a grown adult John,” she replied. “It’s just wrong now. Do you want me to get Morales to look you over or are you going to go to the infirmary voluntarily?”

He sighed. “Can we have breakfast first? I’m starving and I want coffee.”

“Sorry, Dr. Beckett insisted to keep the coffee away until they know more. He did say you can have tea,” she smiled.

“I’ll go for a coke then,” John sighed as he pulled on his shirt. “I need caffeine.”

“Let’s go then,” Sam said as she headed to the door.

He ran to his skateboard and skated out of his quarters after Sam opened the doors for him.

“Don’t go too far ahead! Please John!” she called after him before having to sprint to catch up, the last thing they needed was for him to topple off of something or injure someone else other than himself.

Sighing, John hopped off the board and took it in his arms. “I know my way around, Carter.”

“I know you do but even you would have someone follow McKay, Morales, or I around if this happened to them,” she replied.

“Sure, but who says I was going to get out of your sight?” He smirked up to her. “Hurry up I’m starving.”

Sam could see how Sheppard tried to block out everyone who was staring at him. She actually felt kind of sorry for him, even though he seemed to be doing better today and less cranky and his usual playful self was coming back to the service. Kids do bounce back, even if their memories were still that of an adult. At least he was speaking properly again. “You never told me how you were feeling today,” she offered as she entered the transporter with him.

“Great.” John rolled his eyes at her and took them to the mess hall. “You know, this is crap.” he said as they waited in line. “One of the best things about my childhood was my friendship with Elsa, but other than that? I hated the rest of it all.”

“Why?” Sam looked at Sheppard and he just shook his head. “Fine, then don’t talk about it,” she shrugged as she got them trays and reached for the turkey sandwiches for John – today of all days they decided to put them out of reach instead of their usual spot. Probably because the crew wanted to have some fun watching John. She put some other sandwiches on her own tray before they moved on to the salads. When she put some of the green stuff on her tray, John made a face. “What? Salad for breakfast is good!”

“Grab me a donut.” John pointed to – once again – the top shelf.

She put a donut on his plate and then they moved to the drinks. Sam poured a large mug of steaming hot coffee for herself – she knew she was going to need it – and grabbed a can of cola for John.

“You’re not being fair. You’re denying me coffee and yet you take it yourself,” John pouted as they walked to a table in a corner. He then sulked even more when he started to eat his sandwich.

“I am also in my own adult body,” she pointed out. “When you are back to normal you can have all the coffee you want but until then you’re stuck with what the doctors say.”

“Yeah yeah… I know…” he opened his can of cola and took a sip, almost regretting for deciding on drinking the drink for the caffeine as it felt too cold on his stomach. “Ugh, kid insides.” he muttered and then downed the entire can in one go before continuing to eat his sandwiches.

Sam rolled her eyes at Sheppard. “Don’t be such a baby, tell me why you hated being a kid the first time?”

John looked at her and shook his head. “It’s not important.”

“What? Didn’t you get enough love from mommy and daddy?” Sam teased as she took a sip of her hot coffee. “Did they try to bribe you with money, expensive gifts? Yeah, your childhood must have been hell.” She rolled her eyes at him, but was glad that John didn’t sound like a ten year old today. Something must have happened or maybe John was struggling with it himself… maybe he had managed to get a grip on his emotions and speech patterns during his sleep.

John glared at her as he munched on his sandwich. “Cut down on the snark,” he eventually managed to say, and quickly finished his sandwich. “Can we go now? I’m sure Carson or Elsa would love to prick some holes into me and draw my blood.”

“I’m not done yet.” She felt sorry for him, maybe she was being too snarky about John not wanting to tell her about his childhood, but she wanted to know and he seemed to be genuinely upset about it. Maybe it wasn’t her place to know, but there was little known about this man, even after all these years of serving the SGC, and she was just curious. She didn’t, however, wanted him to shut down on her and withdraw from any social interaction, but maybe it was already too late.

Sam looked at him again and sighed before throwing the rest of her breakfast back onto her tray. “Fine. Let me just go get a lid for my coffee and we’ll head back up to see how their progress is,” she said as she got up from her seat. “Don’t run off anywhere. Please.”

“I’m a good boy, Sam.” John grabbed his skateboard as he got up. “I’m not leaving your sight.” He looked at her sullenly as she went to get a lid. She looked almost as if she was afraid of something, there was something she wasn’t telling him and he was curious to know what it was. Maybe Rodney did get in touch with the SGC and the news could have been pretty bad and she wasn’t telling him to avoid… what, exactly?

He really wished that Rodney would find a way to reverse the process because there was no way that John was leaving Atlantis, and there was no way in hell that he’d spend the next thirty years re-living his life and there was no way that he’d allow himself to be taken care of by Carter or Elsa as some sort of kid.

“Rodney did get in touch with you, didn’t he?” He asked her as they walked out of the mess hall. “And it wasn’t good news, wasn’t it?”

“Rodney’s smart, he’ll figure it out,” Sam smiled warmly. “Don’t worry John, whatever happens, we’ll fix you up or at least make you as comfortable as you can be.”

“I prefer the fixing part.”

She bit on her lower lip for a moment. “Well…I think they experienced some – problems with the device that caused you to be – like this. You know Rodney won’t give up, and neither will the rest of us to get you back to normal. Believe me, we iall/i want you back to your regular adult self,” she explained with a raised eyebrow as she smiled at him.

“Good, because you and I need to talk and I doubt you want to do that when I’m like this,” He started to scratch his face, the spots were already itching. “An adult in a kid’s body with no way of controlling impulses.” He put his skateboard on the floor and made his way to the transporter, making sure that he was in Sam’s line of sight. There was one thing he did like about his current situation; nobody thought he was crazy when he used his skateboard as transportation.

“Yeah. It is a bit of an odd scenario for that type of conversation. If we don’t hear from the off world team by the end of the day today, I’ll go over and check things out. That um, means that you will likely have to sit with Elsa or Carson all day tomorrow. Does that bother you?”

“The question is, will it bother them?” John pointed out. “I know I need to be watched at all times, it’s either that or locking me up somewhere and I don’t want that.” He was still scratching his face as the transporter doors opened and they got inside.

“I actually think that they would give you the least problem aside from some small jokes here and there. They would look at you objectively at least and not the result of a freak accident,” Sam shrugged. “Don’t worry. I’ve been through this before. Except the status of my relationship with Jack was more clear at the time.”

“Yeah, nothing surprises you, doesn’t it?” John then looked at her with a look of ‘are you kidding me?’. “You really want to have that conversation with me in a body of a 10 year old and with a voice of an altar boy?” he squeaked.

She looked around as they made their way around the corridor after exiting the transporter, to make sure that no one was eavesdropping. “Sorry John. You think and speak almost like an adult, it’s just the visual part that is a bit more mind boggling.”

Relationship? he thought. What relationship? Is there a relationship? Or just convenient friends? Ugh, I shouldn’t think about this now! Gross! “Well I’m glad that I don’t sound too much out of control like yesterday,” John nodded. “But honestly, we can have any conversation you want, apart from that one, because it kinda freaks me out.”

“Sure. No problem,” she nodded and continued into another transporter. She waited for John who was standing into the hall staring out over the water as they had unknowingly stopped in their walk.

John realized that Sam was waiting for him and rolled into the transporter. “And nothing about my childhood either,” he pointed out and jumped to reach the console to take them to the infirmary level.

It didn’t take them long to make their way into the infirmary where Carson had his face in one microscope and Elsa asleep next to another. “Colonels,” he greeted quietly. “How is your morning so far?”

“About as expected,” Sam replied. “Any news yet?”

“Sorry. Miss Morales has been up all night studying every blood sample we’ve gotten from Colonel Sheppard over the years. Aside from her rambling notes that you eat too much red meat, Colonel, she had not found much of anything that we can contribute to your situation.”

“I don’t eat too much red meat!”

“Keep your voice down lad, she’s sleeping.”

Sam saw a wolfish grin appear on John’s face. “Oh no you’re not!” She said, but it was already too late. John had already gone to the sink and had filled a clean bedpan with water and he was about to throw it on poor Elsa. “John!”

“What? I’m not doing anything!”

“Throw that water over me and you’re dead,” Elsa muttered as she sleepily opened her eyes and looked at him. “I mean it.”

“Yeah well…” John grinned as he poured the water over Elsa’s head.

“Crash! I hate you!”

Sam put her hands in front of her eyes. “And we just talked about how much of an adult he seemed compared to yesterday…”

“Even if Crash was full size, he still would have done that!” the doctor glared at the boy as she yanked a sealed package of fresh scrubs off a storage shelf and made her way to the back restroom.

“Ha!” John punched the air with his fist and grinned. “That was awesome!”

“Payback is a bitch Crash!” Elsa yelled back, causing Sam to look at John sympathetically.

The two were the worst pranksters on Atlantis and she knew that as soon as things got back to normal, it was going to be a war between them. “You know, I think I will go check on Rodney today if you two don’t mind keeping John around.”

“I’m not too sure,” Carson looked shocked. “Dr. Morales is really tired and I have the infirmary to tend to… but you just go and help out Rodney, we’ll manage.” he added, almost determined. “If not, there’s always the holding cell, isn’t there?”

“Don’t you dare,” John stared at him. “You’re not going to put me in a holding cell.”

Sam grinned as she avoided looking at John. “You have my permission Dr. Beckett. Just call Major Lorne if you need any help in getting him secured if you need it.”

John growled and walked towards the restroom Elsa was getting changed in. He kicked against the door. “Hurry up Martian, Carter’s going away to help Rodney and I don’t want to be put in a holding cell so you have to keep an eye on me!” He kicked against the door again for good measure.

“Yeah, he won’t be any trouble, good luck.” Sam smiled and walked out of the infirmary.

“John if you know what’s good for you, you will go sit down and wait for me to finish changing,” Elsa replied.

“No, you know what’s good for me? Coffee! Sam didn’t allow me to drink it but I’m sure while I’m under your supervision I can have some! Hurry up!”

The woman sighed as she pulled her scrub top on over her wet bra and threw the door open. Grabbing her friend by the ear she dragged him off with her to find some place to stuff the kid for the day and prayed that their colleagues would come back with an fix soon.

“Not the ears! Please Elsa… let me go…” he begged. “I’m sorry!”

It was dinner time and John was glad that Elsa brought dinner to his quarters. She did look like hell and he truly felt sorry for her. She didn’t particularly liked to baby sit him and he knew that he had to have a talk with her as well as beside childhood friends, they had been way more than that and their break up had been messy. However, he never dared to talk to her about it and she never mentioned it so why bother? His current situation made him realize he did needed to talk to her, but his priority was Carter while he still wrapped his head around the fact that she had dropped the word ‘relationship’.

He had finished his dinner while listening to Johnny Cash – where were his Bon Jovi cd’s anyway? – and then played some with the basketball until he almost hit Ronon in the head With it as the man had entered his quarters. “Come on, little John, Friar Carter is waiting for you.”

“Oh, bad joke.” John replied, “Who paid you to say that?”

“Parrish,” Ronon shrugged.

Elsa snorted from her position on the couch where she was reading a book in attempt to keep her sanity. “Please tell us that they came back with a solution,” she said.

Ronon nodded. “Colonel Carter found the reverse button within an hour she had arrived, something McKay or Zelenka had missed. Of course, it didn’t help that they were about his age,” Ronon motioned his head towards Sheppard. “They’re back to normal and with Carson in the infirmary, and I am taking him through the gate to fix him.”

“Thank God!” John exclaimed.

The woman jumped up, throwing her book aside as she made her way over to John and grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him towards the Satedan. “He’s all yours. Please. Take him. Keep him. If I see him again like this when you come back through the gate, trust me when I say that if you think Dr. McKay is a pain in your ass, I can be ten times worse than he can ever arise to.”

“Big aspirations she has,” John nodded and walked out of his quarters. “Love you too Martian!”

cv-line-divider-hi

John was sound asleep in the infirmary, grown up, adult John. Asleep in the infirmary and Carter didn’t leave his side. For some reason, the transition back to his usual self was harder than it had been for Rodney and Zelenka, and it might have had to do something with the fact that John had been removed from the device, whilst Rodney and Zelenka had been around it ever since they got there.

It wasn’t a pretty sight when she had arrived on the planet and in the lab. Both Rodney and Zelenka had turned into bickering ten year olds and they were pretty mean to each other; especially because Zelenka had somehow lost the ability to speak English. The rest of the science team had set up camp outside because they were afraid that they’d become kids as well.

She was glad that everything had turned out okay, and after finding the device’s power source, they would inever/i return there again unless they found a proper off-switch for it so they could study the device if necessary. Why the ancients; Janus, probably, would have built such a device, was a mystery to her.

“Relax, John, you’re home now, and in one piece.” She said as she carefully put a hand on his shoulder as not to startle him while he stirred in his sleep. “Sleep, you’re safe.”

“Sorry. Just afraid of waking up four feet tall again,” he mumbled as he tried to relax against the pillows again. “How long have I been out?”

“Couple of hours, it’s…” She looked at her watch and shook her head. “Four am, go back to sleep.”

He grunted as he lifted his head again and looked around. All he noticed was two nurses on the other end of the infirmary working quietly and the light on in Carson’s office, assuming the man was in there. “I can’t sleep now,” he sighed.

“Then at least stay down so you can rest.”

“I’m not going to argue that,” he grinned as he looked over at her. “Sorry for being such an ass the last couple days.”

“Don’t be sorry, it wasn’t your fault.” Sam smiled as she sat back down in the chair. “It could have happened to anybody… it actually did, Rodney and Zelenka… uhh it wasn’t pretty.”

John raised an eyebrow at her attempt of trying to make him feel better. “Thanks, but I know that I was unnecessarily harsh to you and Elsa in particular. It was wrong of me and I even knew then that what I was doing was wrong.”

“Well, you said it yourself; you were still you, with less inhibitions and self control. I don’t blame you, although you might want to give Elsa a month’s rations of chocolate… she came here about two hours ago, checked you over and telling me that she was glad that it all turned out okay because she was close to actually hurting you.”

“Yeah, and she will in her way. I know I’ll be making McKay taste test all my food in case she laces it with a diuretic or something.”

Carter chuckled. “So, why did she call you Crash? Did you crash stuff a lot when you were younger?”

“Nah. It was actually later on before Atlantis. She broke up with some asshole, I was just getting over the divorce with Nancy and she had tickets to a Bon Jovi concert so we went together. It had to do with one of the band’s songs. Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars,” he shrugged, leaving out that they ended up making out during that song unexpectedly and later slept together.

“Ah, ‘Martian’ makes a lot of sense now too,” Sam nodded. “You know, I think it’s great that you have someone around that knows you the way she does, we all could use someone that familiar around here.”

John made a face as he tried to think about it the way she was but couldn’t see it. “Not really. Maybe if one of us were back at the SGC or something because what she knows about me I really don’t like the idea of the possibility of her babbling around. She’s worse than drunk frat guys when she gets a little alcohol in her if you get the drift.”

“Maybe you should loosen up a little and stop being so guarded. You’re amongst friends here, family. They might laugh and mock you once Elsa will start sharing her stories about you, but they would still respect you and would probably understand you a little better,” Sam pointed out. “Because I know how hard it is to get through to you or get your attention or even talk to you about private things. You’re not only my friend, you’re also my second in command and I respect you and like you, and maybe even more than like, but you need to learn how to trust people with maybe a few trivial things about your life. I mean, you like Johnny Cash and Skateboards, what else is there?” She shrugged.

“Um, ferris wheels, football, and anything that goes more than 200 miles per hour?” he replied innocently.

“You’re describing the average pilot…” Sam rolled her eyes. “I meant stuff like…” she took a moment to think of something. “When I was about seven, my brother and I got into trouble when we decided to remove all clothing hangers from the house, including all of them that were hanging in closets. We took them outside to the woody area behind our house and buried them all. That same night, my father was calling the military police because someone had broken into our house in broad daylight and had tossed his bedroom… it were just the clothes from the hangers that my brother and I had gotten rid of but still… we then had to explain that there were no burglars, and we had to dig up all the hangers in the dark, clean them and return them to their original place. And then, dad took away our toys. It took me a year to earn them all back.”

John didn’t know what to say as most of his memories not involving Elsa were arguments with his father and brother after his mother died. “Until my mom died,” he eventually shared. “My dad used to get model planes to build with me. I’m talking the ones with hundreds of little pieces that you have to put together. After she was gone, he changed. Began beating into Dave and me about the importance of the family business, like our dreams no longer mattered.”

“I’m sorry…” Sam tried hard not to feel sorry for him, because that was the last thing he needed. “Oh! We used to do that too! We had a special place in our garage that had shelves full of model planes, we started off with the cardboard ones and when we couldn’t find new ones, we went on to plastic and then wood and eventually motorized things. It was one of those things that made me realize I wanted to be like my father and join the Air Force… because only then I would be able to fly at least one of the planes we put together from the boxes.” She smiled.

“Heh, if Elsa was here now, she would likely be suggesting us working on something like that together. She was more into horses and microscopes and slides. Her room was just weird.”

“Ugh, I know! All the girls in school were into barbies and pink stuff… I always hung around with the boys and they found that weird.” Sam shook her head. “But horses… they’re always pretty.” She then smiled and placed a hand on John’s arm. “See? It’s not that hard to share trivial things.”

“No, no. Her room, aside from the horse stuff, was like a mini-lab. I think that even McKay would have been jealous with some of the equipment that her parents got for her and she was only in high school!”

“Oh, that is weird,” Sam agreed.

John shrugged. “She knew long before then that she wanted to be a doctor. I think she even considered being a vet at one point. Actually it seemed very likely, which made me confused as hell when I learned she went for genetics and bio-engineering in medical school. Anyway, enough about her.” He looked over at Carter and let out an uneasy breath, finding it difficult to start speaking what he knew that they should just get out of the way already.

Sam waited for a while until John found the words, because she knew what he wanted to talk about and then sighed. “John, I need to know where we stand. I mean, it’s great to have casual sex every now and then because our jobs are stressful enough as it is, but I need to know if there is more to it.”

He looked down at his blanket and shifted uncomfortably. “Well, we both know that our only other major relationships are essentially dead ends,” he said slowly, thinking about Elsa and how she was even more afraid of true commitment than he was, which was really the main reason why they always fell short of getting anywhere. “I can’t promise you how things would end up between us, but I’m – not afraid of trying, as long as we can try to keep it between us for awhile just to make sure it doesn’t explode in our faces…”

Right, commitment issues, she thought, What was I thinking? “John, I don’t mind being your friend with benefits, if that makes you feel any better. Personally, I think that would work even better for us, considering that your heart is still with Elsa, and maybe, one day, when we get back, Jack will be waiting for me. I care for you, deeply, as a friend and as your co-worker and yes, even more, but…-” She bit her lower lip as John interrupted her.

Throwing his blanket off himself, he sat up and turned to her. “I’m not saying that at all. I mean – yeah, I still have feelings for her. I always will. Just as you’ll always have feeling for O’Neill, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel for more than one person. I like you – a lot – and I will reluctantly admit more than I should for any person here, but I am willing to give you and I a shot for that something more.” He finished, staring at her carefully, knowing that it would be a rocky relationship regardless.

Sam nodded slowly. “Alright, but we should lay down some ground rules. Such as keeping our work responsibilities and work-related emotions separate from us. We agree a lot, but we disagree a lot too when it comes to certain things related to work. I don’t want that to be an issue after work hours.”

“So, on duty, nothing changes?” he asked with a small smile.

“No… although I might be a little bit more hesitant into giving you what you want when you request a suicide mission.”

“Well that’s no fun,” he pouted. “But, if that’s how it has to be. So be it.” Leaning forward he grinned at her as his eyes moved over her face. “How about a kiss then? For all the torture and punishment I’m about to go through with Elsa coming up. She already got Carson to keep my discharge from her for the next three days so that she could be my personal torturer.”

“Sorry, John,” Carter grinned, “Even I can’t get rid of doctor’s orders.” There was something in his eyes, something playful that she hadn’t seen before and it was fascinating. “I could… well I could send her off world to the kids for three days to medically check them all up…”

“Yes, please. Now, kiss me already!”

John was nearly hanging out of his bed as she was a small distance away from him in her chair. “You’re worse than a ten year old.” She stated as she moved forward and grabbed his hair as she kissed him.