Typing away in the laptop, John felt Rodney watching him and turned to find a puzzled expression on the other man’s face. Since they’d been doing nothing but chatting and going over procedures, that didn’t make much sense. Frowning, he prompted, “What?”

“Are you gaining weight?” Rodney asked.

He was, but it made him pissy to know that it was noticeable and so snapped, “What do you think, since I can’t go out on missions and am on restricted duty?”

Rodney’s hands went up defensively and he exclaimed, “Sorry! Geeze! You know, you aren’t the only one whose life has been inconvenienced because Ronon got curious about Earth customs.”

“Oh really? Tell me how your life’s been inconvenienced, McKay,” John growled.

As if sensing danger, Rodney cleared his throat and said, “I think I’ll go check on Zalenka,” before beating a hasty retreat.

The moment the other man left the otherwise empty cafeteria, John regretted scaring the other man off and sighed. It wasn’t Rodney’s fault that he was a mess of both alien and artificial hormones, though the scientist did seem to be the one who most frequently stirred both sets. Looking down at the gentle rounding of his belly, John sighed again and muttered, “I hope you appreciate all of this.”

“Talking to yourself, Sheppard?” Teyla teased as she approached.

John half-grinned and answered, “Not this time. You going to eat that?”

Teyla’s echoed the grin when he pointed to the pastry on her tray and shook her head. “I thought that it would be about time for you to need something else to eat.”

“And we love you for it,” John exclaimed, reaching over to snag it. “You know, Ronon better be kidding about how big Satedan babies get.”

Chuckling, Teyla replied, “At least you will not be having twins.”

John breathed a sigh of relief and agreed, “Definitely. That’s one good thing about all those tests.”

Does Dr. Beckett have a due date as yet?” Teyla questioned.

Shaking his head, John said, “Too many variables. Best he can do is give a general timeframe. Thank God for a/c in the summer, since August’s a helluva month to give birth, even by c-section.”

A few men from another squad came in, talking and laughing, so John grimaced and started eating instead of talking. It would be a couple of months before they were forced to tell the truth about his ‘condition,’ and he had no idea how the rest of the personnel would take it. On the one hand, most of the others couldn’t care less about whether or not someone was gay. On the other, a pregnant man was nothing to sneeze at even in the Pegasus Galaxy. John was expecting to be dishonorably discharged and sent back to Earth, when push came to shove.

The one time he’d discussed it with Ronon, the other man had stubbornly insisted the child would be delivered anywhere but Earth. Not that he blamed the man. It wasn’t like the Earth governments’ reactions were all that trustworthy when it came to aliens, even ones half-human.

“So what do you think about the…”

That was all John heard because without warning, he was doubled over on his hands and knees, throwing up everything he’d eaten that morning. His stomach muscles instantly complained and his throat burned from the force of the bile that practically projected from his body. Teyla was a solid, supportive presence seconds later and he leaned on her as he shuddered and struggled to breathe.

It seemed an eternity later that something sharp jabbed into his thigh and he heard Beckett’s soothing, Scotts’ burr coaxing him into breathing slower. John wanted to snarl at him to shut up, he was trying to breathe period, never mind slower, but his body continued to expel what little remained inside. Thankfully, whatever the doc had shot him up with knocked him out.

*  *  *  *

Teyla kept hold of John when he collapsed, rendered unconscious by the drug Dr. Beckett had administered.

“Carefully now, let’s get him on the board,” Beckett ordered.

The attendants lifted John onto the gurney, keeping him on his side with his breathing way unobstructed. The floor was a disgusting mess of mostly and partially digested food and Teyla wrinkled her nose in disdain even as she stood.

Beckett questioned, “And what brought this on, then?”

Teyla could only shake her head, mystified, and answer, “We were simply talking, Doctor. I suspect it is the Satedan illness that suddenly manifested a dislike for the pastry he consumed immediately prior.”

Scowling as they hurried out of the messhall, Beckett replied, “That’s more than a simple ‘dislike,’ but I ken your meaning. Find out from the kitchen what was in that pastry, if you would?”

Teyla nodded and stopped at the transport, letting them enter and then turning back to the cafeteria. Ronon would be most upset about the incident when he returned. He hadn’t wanted to go on the mission in the first place, but the Indorii wouldn’t treat with anyone unless Ronon were present, something they’d discovered a few months before. Since Atlantis needed the supply of crystals that McKay and Zalenka theorized could be a new power source for Earth, the Indorii had to be indulged.

It didn’t take long for her to get a list of ingredients from the kitchen and when she brought it to the infirmary where John was still unconscious, but on his side with a pan under his mouth. A nurse held him steady, keeping a sharp eye on him and Teyla saw the pan partially filled.

Worried now, she walked up to Beckett and handed over the paper with, “It is nothing he has not eaten a hundred times before.”

Beckett glanced at the list and agreed, “He has no known allergies at any rate, certainly none to cause this level of reaction. Involuntary vomiting is the body’s need to expel some sort of dangerous allergen, toxin, or poison, but…och, I’m an idiot! John’s not allergic, the baby is!”

Astonished, Teyla asked, “Is that possible?”

“‘Tis the only explanation,” Beckett replied. “Though how on earth we’d find out which ingredient caused the problem is anyone’s guess.”

In the end, all they could do was watch as John’s body got rid of all traces of whatever the ingredient was. Teyla left the infirmary to report the situation to Elizabeth, which left the other woman sitting stiffly behind her desk. But then, she wasn’t truly accepting of the pregnancy despite outward signs to John and Ronon. All things to do with it made her uncomfortable, at least in Teyla’s presence and they only discussed it when necessary. Elizabeth supported Ronon and John one hundred percent to their faces, and had promised back them just as firmly to the ones John and Elizabeth reported. Privately, to Teyla, she showed her discomfort and that, in turn, gave Teyla pause.

Elizabeth finally questioned, “Does Dr. Beckett have a plan?”

“I do not know. I left before he could formulate one, I believe.”

Nodding slowly, Elizabeth sighed and said, “All right. Are you going back?”

“I am.”

“Good. I’ll be down shortly to check on him.”

Teyla stood and then stopped to ask, “Will you treat their child in this manner?”

Elizabeth frowned. “What do you mean?”

“At a distance, with disapproval you show not to the parents, but to others. I cannot help but feel, Elizabeth, that the people of Earth will have no trouble discerning your ambivalence regarding John and Ronon’s child. I realize that the circumstances of birth are unusual, but I thought better of you.”

She left with the other woman still trying to find something to say.

*  *  *  *

When John woke, his body from the waist up felt like it had been pummeled. His throat was sore and he could barely swallow without grimacing in pain. Teyla sat on a chair next to his…hospital bed? That was when he remembered throwing up in the mess like some kind of green recruit and groaned in embarrassment. Except the groan hurt, too, so he tried not to make any more noise.

Teyla looked up from the leather journal in which she’d been writing and smiled at him. “Welcome back, John. Are you feeling better?”

“Stable, anyhow,” he rasped, then winced.

She set aside the journal and poured some water, bringing it over for him to drink and holding it steady. “Dr. Beckett has determined that the baby has allergies.”

John blinked at her in surprise and then asked, “That’s possible?”

“Aye, it is,” Beckett answered, walking up to them. “Never occurred to me before, but then, this pregnancy is unlike any other we know about, too.”

John glanced around, but only saw the two nurses who were already in on the pregnancy. Disappointed, though of course Ronon wouldn’t have been able to come back the mission just for him getting sick, John nodded and asked, “So now what?”

Beckett explained, “Unfortunately, we can’t do the usual tests to determine allergies, given the circumstances. We’re going to need to do an elimination diet test, instead.”

“Why don’t I like the sound of that?”

“Aye, well, it’s unpleasant. We basically feed you different things and see which ones cause an adverse reaction.”

John glared at him. “No way. Forget it, Doc.”

Beckett gave him a helpless look and answered, “We have no choice, Colonel! It’s that or you go about your business never knowing when something will set you off. At least here, we can monitor you and know exactly what affects you.”

Shaking his head, John snapped, “Not a chance. I am not being experimented on!”

“John, you must see reason,” Teyla said gently. “It is far better to do this in a controlled setting than have another incident in public.”

John’s arms crossed defensively over his chest. There was no way he would deliberately inflict that kind of physical response on himself. He repeated firmly, “I’m not doing it! Forget it!”

Beckett told him, “This is to benefit the baby, Colonel. What if you injured the baby by flailing about and vomiting uncontrollably? What if we didn’t get to you in time?”

John hesitated and then swore under his breath. It was an argument he couldn’t get around and everyone knew it. He gave in with a bitter, “Fine! Do what you want.”

Beckett and Teyla exchanged a look, but John wasn’t up for interpreting it. He curled onto his side and hugged one of the pillows, wishing with all his heart that Ronon were there. He wasn’t, though, so he would have to get by on his own. It wasn’t like he hadn’t done so most of his life.

*  *  *  *

It wasn’t until the next day that the testing started, since Dr. Beckett wanted to give John time to rest. Teyla informed Rodney that John was ill and would be in testing for a few days. Rodney showed up that night to visit, staying long enough to thoroughly annoy John. Of course, since it put a sparkle in Sheppard’s eyes, even one of annoyance, neither Teyla nor Beckett minded. Elizabeth showed up that night as well. Teyla couldn’t tell if her words had had any effect, since the other woman acted the same as she always did with John.

Teyla slept well that night and returned in the morning to be with John where Ronon could not during the testing. John joked as he always did when uncomfortable or nervous, keeping the nurses grinning as they set up monitoring equipment for both him and the baby. When the wires were all in place, one of the women frowned and then called Beckett over to look at the monitor output.

Beckett frowned and took out his stethoscope, placing it over John’s belly and moving it to two different places, going back and forth multiple times. Teyla couldn’t help the nerves that made her take John’s hand and hold it fast. Surely this wasn’t routine?

“All right, Doc, spit it out,” John ordered. “What’s got you all in a tizzy?”

Beckett’s lips pursed and he said hesitantly, “There appear to be two heartbeats, Colonel.”

“Well yeah. There’s two of us.”

“No, Colonel. Two heartbeats other than your own.”

John gaped at him and then howled, “You did not just tell me I’m having twins!”

Teyla slapped a hand over his mouth as he continued to shout without care for who might hear. It wasn’t until the doctor held up a syringe for John to see, obviously threatening a sedative, that he calmed down. She waited for another few seconds to make sure there wouldn’t be another outburst before removing her hand.

Looking as dangerous as she’d ever seen him, John commanded quietly, “You want to tell me exactly what the hell is going on, Beckett?”

“I-I don’t know, Colonel,” Beckett admitted, eyes wide with a healthy fear. “I’ll do an ultrasound so we can see for sure what’s, ah, who’s in there.”

One of the nurses went over to close the infirmary so no one could just walk in and see what was going on, while the other brought over a machine on wheels. Teyla watched, fascinated, as Beckett squirted some kind of fluid over John’s bared belly and then moved a semi-rounded device over the same area. On a small monitor, something appeared moments later, though she could not make out what they were looking at.

“Okay, now, at almost three months we should be able to see general body features and…oh dear…”

Through gritted teeth, John demanded, “What?”

Looking somewhat sickly, Beckett admitted, “There’s two now. You’re ah, you’re definitely having twins, Colonel.”

Teyla waited in readiness for any reaction, unsure what John would do.

He remained stationary, though, and questioned, “How is that possible?”

“Ah, well, it’s not completely unheard of…you know the phrase, ‘Irish Twins?’”

“Oh no he didn’t! Ronon knocked me up a second time?!”

Teyla’s respect for Ronon’s virility increased. Or possibly her respect for John’s fertility. Probably both. She wasn’t entirely certain.

Seeming relieved that Sheppard was staying put and not going to kill the messenger, Beckett admitted, “It seems so. The second fetus, ah, baby, is quite smaller than the first. I would put it at a guess that they’re approximately a month apart. I would also hazard a guess that the two of you should not have further unprotected sex for the duration of the pregnancy. Just in case.”

If looks could kill, Dr. Beckett would be a stain on the floor, Teyla mused.

John only said stiffly, “Fine. Are we doing the tests now, or what?”

“Aye, I think it’s best we do it now and get it over with, if you’re up to it?” Beckett confirmed.

Glaring full force still, John retorted, “Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”

The testing took all day and, for the most part, was anti-climactic. Everything they gave to John, he ingested without incident until the end of the day with butter. And then again with milk. And cheese.

“One of them’s allergic to dairy?” John demanded and then spit in the pan again.

Teyla handed him a glass of water as Beckett replied, “It certainly seems so. Likely the second little one, as you had no problem before now. We’ll keep an eye on him, when he comes out.”

John hesitated and then asked, “Him? Isn’t it too early to know?”

“Oh, aye,” Beckett confirmed hastily. “Sorry, I was just using ‘him.’ Could as easily be a girl as not.”

There was more testing to be done, but Beckett declared an end for the day. It was just as well, since Teyla was uncertain John could take much more. It had been an emotional day for him, regardless of how well he was putting up a front. She smiled at him and asked, “How are you?”

John offered a wry smile as he answered, “Just ducky, thanks, Teyla. And, um, thanks for being here. I appreciate it.”

Patting his shoulder, she replied, “It was my honor, John. I am, however, going to get something to eat. Shall I bring you anything from your quarters?”

John’s face scrunched awkwardly and then he admitted, “Maybe ah, something from Ronon’s closet?”

Teyla stroked a hand across his hair. “I’ll be back directly after the evening meal.”

“Thanks, Teyla,” John said gratefully.

She smiled and left the infirmary, but not just to get something from Ronon’s closet.

*  *  *  *

John was sound asleep when a familiar caress over his cheek gently broke through his troubled dreams of too many babies and not enough time to take care of all of them before they got hurt. Blinking awake, John found Ronon standing by his bed and a mash of relief, love, need, and anger, ran through him. The tender expression on his lover’s face nixed most of the anger in its place and he sighed, rubbing his eyes. “Beckett told you?”

Teyla called me,” Ronon corrected.

John half-grinned at the revelation. It was just like her to take matters into her own hands.

Ronon sat on the edge of the hospital bed and took his hand, bringing it up to kiss the palm and ask, “How are you?”

“Mixed up,” John answered honestly. “One baby, I could handle. It was weird, but you know, a baby. Twins? How in hell are we going to handle two babies?”

“There are two of us,” Ronon pointed out.

John snorted. “Yeah, but…”

Ronon put a finger over John’s mouth and interrupted, “There are two of us, Sheppard. I will be caring for these children as much as you, this I swear. You will not be abandoned.”

Relief edged out the anger entirely at that and he sighed, relaxing in a way he hadn’t since Ronon had left Atlantis on his mission. Sitting upright, he put an arm over Ronon’s shoulder and drew him in for a long, reconnecting kiss. It had only been not-quite a week, but felt like forever. His partner’s matter-of-fact tone reassured him, as did the unflinching way Ronon faced things. Breaking off the kiss, John teased, “I’m still kicking your ass once I deliver these two.”

Ronon chuckled. “I expected no less, Sheppard.”

And even though it was the middle of the night, John got out of the bed and insisted on going back to their quarters. Once they’d settled down in their own bed, Ronon surrounding him from behind, John let out a contented sigh and knew his dreams wouldn’t be nearly as troubled.