Title: one of the Tales from the Front
Series: SGA AU War Stories. Comment-fic, in which pancakes are made.
"And the car, it went bang, and Daddy said a bad word." Sean blinked up at John, his eyes wide with self-righteousness.
"He said fuck," Max reported with a worldly shrug. She was setting the table with careless enthusiasm, the plates spinning into place just barely. "Don't burn the pancakes."
"I've never burned a pancake in my life," John said, flipping them with well-practiced ease. He wasn't so much lying as he was indulging in a little historical revision. When he was learning how to be left-handed, there might have been a few pancakes cooked well-done. He squinted at Max, wondering how much she remembered and how much was bluff.
"What?" Sean demanded, pulling on John's shirt for attention. John nudged him away from the stove automatically. Max waved to get Sean's attention.
"Dad's bragging about how good he cooks again," Max explained. She lured Sean away from John with the promise that she'd let him pour the juice himself. John signed her a quick thank you, tossed a dishtowel on the back of his chair (just in case gravity got the juice), and added the pancakes to the perfect golden-brown stacks already steaming on the platter. Max whisked the platter off to the table and mopped up a small puddle of juice in a quick efficient swipe with her free hand.
Part of John practically teared up at his little girl being so adult and responsible and thoughtful.
The rest of him wondered if she was planning on hitting him up for money, or a ride, or a new cell phone.
John yelled breakfast out the kitchen window before dropping into his own seat. Sean was tearing his pancakes into bite-sized pieces and dipping them in the syrup. "Fork, buddy," John said, just as Rodney banged into the kitchen, sweaty and grease-stained.
"Oh my God, you're letting him eat with his fingers again?" Rodney said. He wiped his filthy hands on the towel, flipped three pancakes onto his plate, and winked at Sean. "You know your dad's anal about manners," he told Sean, leaning in as if the conversation was a secret.
Sean asked what anal was. Max shoved half a pancake in her mouth and launched into a graphic explanation. Sean laughed with his mouth full, and Max said he was disgusting.
"I am," Sean shouted. "And you love me." (John couldn't remember who started this family tradition; he hoped that scientific studies never proved that it was psychologically warping to think that one's appalling habits were lovable.) Sean threw himself sideways and gave Max a syrup-sticky hug. She returned it, but mostly just so that she could hold him down to deliver a slobbery wet kiss to his forehead.
"When you told me you wanted kids," Rodney said loudly, through a pancake, "I had no idea it was solely for the purpose of perpetuating your juvenile sense of humour." He jabbed his unused fork in John's direction. "Devious, devious planning. Oh. And my car is dead, by the way."
"I doubt it." John gave Rodney a superior smile. "You're just crap at engines. Oh — and your MP3 player's in jail for two days — " (he pointed up at the dented cardboard box on top of the china cabinet ) — "because of swearing in front of the kids."
"I hate you," Rodney said matter-of-factly. "I just keep you around because you make the best pancakes ever. And because the kids find you amusing, or at least a really bad role model. You're driving both of them to their soccer games, since my car is dead."
"I'll fix it. You drive them."
"Deal," Rodney said, quickly. John wondered how badly he'd messed the car up. He'd probably been whacking random things with a wrench, again. The squabble on the other side of the table was turning rough. Rodney shook his head at Max and caught Sean's eye. "Your dad's got to work on the car. He says he needs your help."
Sean jumped up and down, arms up, as if he'd won the lottery. Too much TV, John thought, plus too much sugar, plus being five years old.
"Max and I will tidy up," Rodney continued. Max rolled her eyes but didn't complain. John would have to warn Rodney; she was definitely gearing up to something. "But first you both need to brush your teeth and get dressed. Go on. Shoo." Rodney flapped his hands, and they took off running.
"You're sexy when you're bossy," John said, getting up to clear the table and then remembering that he didn't need to. "Too bad you hate me, or I'd grope you."
Rodney recklessly stacked plates in a pile and carried them over to the sink. "Grope me now quick, before they come back. Or better yet — " he grabbed a handful of John's shirt and tugged him over — "I could grope you." His free hand slid up John's leg to his ass.
John ducked his head to kiss Rodney, who was syrup-and-buttery sweet. "You are such a —" he said, his voice weighed down by the sweetness, and he kissed Rodney again when he couldn't find the right word.
"Yeah, but you love me anyway," Rodney said, smug. John shrugged, neither confirming nor denying, and tried to give Rodney everything he couldn't say with his mouth and his hands — quickly, before the children caught them. He didn't think he succeeded — he never could — but he thought he did well enough.
He thought he was pretty damn happy and pretty damn lucky, and he made some pretty damn good pancakes, besides.