Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Warnings: Tiny bit of car/pedestrian related trauma, no one gets really hurt
Summary: “‘Uh, a little… help?’ John asked weakly, head poking up from a tangle of tentacles and an oddly shaped little body.” – in which John and Rodney accidentally adopt an undersized cephalopod, and somehow fall in love along the way.
Rodney glared at the small Cephalopod, watching as it lazily waved a fin at him. They had quickly discovered that, while the tentacles were useful for holding on to John and Rodney, physical communication happened using the fins. Anger or fear was displayed by a truly ferocious blaze around his head, tiredness or the dehydration sickness induced flat, unhealthy looking fins. Happiness had eventually begun to produce spasming, joyful flaps that John swore he’d learned from Rodney. And after a few days, they noticed that when they thought about him, talked about him or looked at him intently, his fin would flap gently, like he was acknowledging them.
Right now it was floating happily around, one tentacle wrapped warm and safely around Rodney’s wrist. Rodney lived in different quarters, so he could only see his ‘baby’ intermittently. From what John and the Xenobiologists who were practically stalking him had said, Rodney being so often absent was making the creature ill. So now Rodney had to take lunch, and had to leave work at a decent time to come spend time with it. In John’s quarters, where John often was, joining Rodney in communing with the creature. It was awkward, but oddly comfortable and nearly domestic, the way they would sit together on the low couch, eating and communicating with the Cephalopod.
Unlike Rodney, John’s presence here was so strong that he needed to spend only a few minutes of each day in direct physical contact with the Cephalopod, usually his presence in the room was enough. Although when they had both spent two days off world last week and come home, the Cephalopod had been frantic, and it had stayed out of the water, gripping both of them tightly, for the full two hours before sickness forced it into the water. Even then, it had maintained a tight grip on their arms for several hours.
The walls, once it became clear that the Cephalopod needed proximity and contact with them while still in the water, had been more than willing to accommodate. The fourth wall, the only one with no water on it, had grown a small tank, half-wall height, fed water (and Cephalopod) by an encased tubular slide. The Cephalopod seemed to love sliding up and down the tube, and tended to spend most of his time in the little tub when John or Rodney were in the room, diving into the main tank intermittently for snacks.
Rodney often brought some food from the mess for it as well, they had discovered that the Cephalopod loved vegetables, almost any vegetables were accepted like they were delicacies, and the Cephalopod could spend an hour flapping and burbling happily. Sometimes it would even come out and curl up on one of their chests, purring with pleasure as they fed it. This was the reason for Rodney’s current glare. He had about ten minutes before he had to get back to work, and the yam-stealing creature seemed determined to crawl onto Rodney’s chest, interrupt his work, and sit there for likely the full two hours, eating its pilfered lunch.
“Rodney,” John finally said, shooting him a look, “your staff will probably enjoy it if you took a long lunch, and considering that your normal working day consists of about five hours more than it needs to, no one is going to complain. Carson might actually kiss you for finally taking a break! Sit down and let him spend some real time with you, huh?”
Rodney switched his glare over to John, although his arms were gathering the cephalopod up obediently. “I have meetings and important research to do! Unlike you, I actually work at work, and I can’t take two-hour lunches to pander to the needs of an immature, undersized octopus!”
He thought his rant would be more convincing if the creature now wrapped happily around him and nibbling on his lunch wasn’t purring and obviously happy. Neither of them had had a negative thought or feeling around or towards it yet, but Rodney thought that if they did, it would probably not look so content.
“Oh, hush. You’re the boss, reschedule. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, I am working. I’m doing my staff evaluations.” John flapped paper at Rodney, indicating the rapidly decreasing pile.
Rodney clicked his tongue at John, but subsided. “It stole my lunch. I brought it a nice bit of nearly-kale, but instead it took my lunch. I don’t like nearly-kale!”
“If you don’t like it, he’s not going to want to eat it. He hides if people bring citrus products in here.” John pointed out, glancing at the discarded vegetable.
“That’s because it’s not stupid.” Rodney stroked its head proudly.
“He, Rodney. He, not it.”
“He, then.” Rodney wrinkles his nose. “Not that he probably cares.”
“He probably needs a name.” John replied, blatantly ignoring Rodney’s comment. Rodney shrugged.
“Well, name him, Mom.” He shrugged, pretending he didn’t care as he settled down with the Cephalopod and his research papers.
“Let’s call him Luke, since he has the force.” John said, after a while. Rodney squawked angrily.
“Luke! I am not calling our Cephalopod Luke!” He began, gearing up for a spectacular rant. John just sat back smugly.
And so began the name war.
* * * * *
They both realised fairly soon that no name would win if the Cephalopod didn’t answer to it, so between sabotaging each other’s names, pulling pranks to throw the other off, and getting their friends in on the battle, they also spent time undermining the other’s name choice with the Cephalopod and planning a sneaky sub-war focussed on persuading him to chose the name they wanted for him. It would have probably worked better if either one of them could stick with a name for more than a few hours, but the shine of a good name wore off quickly when they didn’t both like it.
After a week, Rodney took to trying to persuade the Cephalopod to choose one of his favourite composer’s names, and took to playing their music to get a reaction from the creature. Although the Cephalopod seemed to like it (and Rodney was spending more and more time enjoying watching the creature gliding sweetly through the water to his favourite classical pieces) so far nothing had stuck.
Until he started playing Vivaldi, and the track flowed into a cello concerto. The music started mournful, gently, but gradually built to a swirling, bubbling piece that carried the haunting smoothness of the ocean within swells of twirling notes that seemed to perfectly reflect the way the Cephalopod was moving. The entire second movement was beautifully composed and seemed to fit the Cephalopod. The Cephalopod, for his part, was quite clearly in love with the sound of the cello, and deflated a little when the music moved on. Rodney quickly changed tracks, this time a cello concerto in E-minor that was a little more robust, although it still carried the distinct, haunting notes of the cello. It was perfect.
“Cello.” He told the Cephalopod, eyeing it as it twirled excitedly through the water. “Cello. No, no, not Cello,” he gasped a moment later, “Celo. That’s your name. Celo.”
And, as though he’d just been waiting for one of them to name him with conviction, the Cephalopod, Celo, flared his fins in a happy spasm. Rodney beamed back. Now he just had to tell John that they had their name. Considering the way the last week had gone, he doubted John was going to argue