I know, I'm spoiling all of you, but my faithful readers, you deserve it.
Thanks go to DorothyOz who asked for a story telling why Kanaan is not involved in Torren John's life, and to Mysra who helped me hammer out the idea my plot kitty dropped into my lap then encouraged me to write it.
Kanaan was hesitant to approach Teyla when he spotted her in the mess hall eating her afternoon meal alone. He had traveled here to Atlantis in order to spend time with Torren and to become better acquainted with Teyla's teammates. After his actions in persuading the rest of their people that a new speaker should be chosen to represent them, she had been distant towards him. He stopped by her side and waited for her to acknowledge him.
"Greetings, Teyla. May I accompany you and your team on your outing tomorrow?"
Teyla gazed up at him and he could see the curiosity in her eyes.
"You are welcome, but may I ask why?"
Kanaan sat down in order to draw less attention. "I wish to spend time with Torren and I would like to know Colonel Sheppard and Ronon and Dr. McKay better."
Teyla shook her head. "Rodney is still nervous about leaving the city. We have tried to convince him otherwise, but …"
Kanaan nodded. "I understand the feeling."
Teyla stood, her meal finished. "We leave at 0900 hours and you should meet us in the Gateroom. It is best if you are early."
"I will be there." Kanaan bowed his head in thanks before leaving.
As he stumbled in the corridor, John realized some days he did not get paid enough to roll out of bed and this was one of them. His day had started early yesterday morning with a staff meeting before the Gate teams left on their missions followed by another with Woolsey to review his latest supply requisitions.
He'd barely finished half his lunch when the contamination alarm sounded. Atlantis locked down a section of the labs because of a chemical hazard caused by the fumes from two chemicals that should never be stored near each other in an enclosed area finally reached critical mass. The resulting explosion created veritable mountains of purple foam which would have made Barney jump for joy. Until he smelled it. The horrific odor reminded John of a rotting Wraith cruiser they'd found.
Being Military Commander meant he had to supervise the cleanup process since the situation posed a hazard to city security. True to form, because rarely did anything go his way, the process had to be conducted wearing hazmat suits, meaning he spent the day in the hot, heavy and bulky suit which made him very irritable.
Finished with the tedious and dangerous task, he got the pleasure of sitting in another meeting, this time with Rodney, Radek, Miko, Woolsey and every scientist who worked in that area. The highlight was listening to Rodney tear his subordinates new assholes. Miko's sarcastic comments, shared through the instant messenger feature in the tablet computers, had him and Radek biting their tongues to stifle their laughter.
By the time the ass-chewing session wound down, John had been on duty over thirty-six hours and no amount of coffee was sufficient to keep him awake further. After making his way to his old quarters, John reached out to Teyla and told her where he was and that he loved her. He took a quick shower to soothe his aching muscles, dressed and made it to his bed just as his knees gave out. He dropped on the bed, sprawled out and was dead to the world as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Teyla checked on him before dinner and he was still fast asleep. She picked up a sandwich and chips for him and left the food on a tray beside his bed. She looked in on him once more before retiring and noticed he had devoured the meal before going back to sleep. Teyla was lost in thought as she entered her quarters to put Torren to bed. As she went about her nightly routine, Teyla realized how much she yearned for John's presence. He would often slip up behind her and enfold her in his strong arms while kissing her neck and shoulders or nuzzling her hair. She especially missed him when she crawled between the sheets and did not have his warm, muscled body to curl up against.
John entered the Gateroom and spotted Teyla, Torren and Ronon standing to one side of the Gate. There was a woven basket and two backpacks sitting on the floor. Kanaan walked in just as John reached his family. Although he itched to grab Teyla and plant a big kiss on her luscious lips, John was reticent to do so in front of Kanaan so he settled for sending her a mental caress and an I love you. Kanaan and Teyla might not be together, but John didn't want to rub their relationship in the guy's face.
John shifted towards Kanaan as the Athosian joined them and held out a lumpy black bundle. "Here, you need to wear these."
The bundle turned out to be a sidearm in a holster and a radio.
Kanaan glanced up at the Colonel. "Are we expecting trouble?"
"No, but no one goes off world without a means of protection."
Once Kanaan had the radio in place and belt secured, John peered up at Salawi, making a circling motion in the air over his head. "Dial it up."
They chose an area near the Gate to set up their picnic. A river ran nearby, but not close enough that they would need to worry about Torren getting to it. Away from their campsite, the ground rose and disappeared behind a hill.
"I'm off fishing," Ronon grumbled stuffing the last off his sandwich into his mouth. John couldn't help chuckle. Ronon had told him he planned on cooking for Amelia tonight and wanted to impress her by not only cooking, but cooking something he had caught himself.
"Knock yourself out buddy, just stay in radio range."
Ronon nodded and grabbed the gear he had gotten from Carson while John and Teyla started to clean up the last of their meal.
John turned to Torren, seeing the boy had already grabbed the ball he had brought along. He looked at Teyla. "Go ahead John. I shall enjoy some reading if you do not mind."
John smiled at her shaking his head. "Kanaan?" he asked throwing a glance over his shoulder.
"I would enjoy that very much."
John grabbed the boy from the floor. The ball clutched to his little chest as they moved a bit away, so Teyla could enjoy her reading.
After a while Torren grew tired of playing with the ball and got distracted by an insect that resembled very much an Earth butterfly, only it seemed to sparkle in the sun.
They were atop the hill, Kanaan trailing behind him while John went to fetch a bucket as Torren liked to pick up pretty rocks and John had quickly grown tired of putting them in his pockets when Torren mis-stepped and fell, skinning his knee on a rock. He rolled over and sat crying. Kanaan hurried over and picked his son up, but Torren refused to be comforted by his father and continued to wail.
John was already on his way back to Torren and Kanaan when the toddler's cries split the air. He hurried the rest of the way and spotted Torren in Kanaan's arms. The moment Torren spotted him, his chubby hands reached out as he cried out.
John took the struggling and crying boy from Kanaan with a look of apology and started rubbing his back while projecting love and comfort to calm him. Torren snuggled into John's neck, his cries quieting to hiccupping sobs as they neared camp. Teyla was on her feet, anxiety evident in her posture.
John handed Torren to Teyla. "He fell and skinned his knee on a rock."
Teyla sat down, Torren cradled in her arms. John got the first aid kit and cleaned Torren's scrapes while Teyla distracted him.
Kanaan was enjoying himself. Ronon and Colonel Sheppard were firm and caring without being harsh. He could tell Torren adored both men and was attentive. He watched the Colonel especially, aware that he cared for Torren frequently. The Colonel showed great insight and observational skills, knowing when to get Torren excited and when to slow his activities down.
Watching Torren scamper after the butterfly, Kanaan felt his heart soar. He had not spent as much time with Torren as he should although he had seen more of him lately while the Lanteans and their allies fought Queen Death.
When Torren fell and started crying, Kanaan mentally reached out to comfort him even as he hurried to scoop him up. The injury did not appear serious but his son would not hold still and continued to cry.
He did not realize Colonel Sheppard had returned until he felt Torren reach out mentally even as he called out Da. As the Colonel took Torren from him, Kanaan saw the apology cross his face. Indignant fury flared in his heart as he watched his son calm in the arms of the man he called Da. The very thought of another man being called Da in his place was unbearable and could not be allowed to persist.
John was relieved once Torren stopped crying. With his knee bandaged and his favorite blanket, Torren lay down by Teyla and took a nap in the shade.
John was debating whether to stay with Teyla or check out Ronon's catch when Kanaan interrupted his thoughts.
"Colonel, perhaps we should go for a walk and leave young Torren to his nap?"
John was undecided. "Teyla?"
"We are fine, John. Go, look around. Perhaps you could find a specimen for Torren's rock collection."
John smiled. "Yeah, I could do that."
The two men moved off, each gazing at the landscape. They followed the treeline as they headed over the hill towards the river. John wanted to look along the water's edge as he'd always found interesting rocks along the shoreline as a kid.
The cliff jutted outwards and forced the river to curve around it. Where the opposite side sloped towards Ronon's fishing spot a few miles away, this side was steep and concave like a giant scooped part of it out. The shape threw echoes back to them and made the burbling water seem louder.
John was walking across a debris field at the foot of the cliff when some of the rocks shifted beneath his feet. The shifting stones trapped his left ankle and pitched him backward just as he stepped forward. John twisted to break his fall but still landed hard. The pops from his ankle and knee were loud enough he was certain they echoed from the rock face.
Sprawled on the talus bed, throbbing pain pulsing from his left leg, John reached towards Kanaan, but the Athosian simply stood there staring at him, fingers resting on the hilt of the pistol he wore.
"Kanaan." No response. He tried again but got nothing. John lay back a moment to catch his breath as a wave of pain washed over him. He reached a scraped hand up to tap his radio but the transceiver was gone, no doubt lost in the rocks.
"Kanaan, snap out of it! I could use some help here." John figured if that didn't knock his senses back into Kanaan then he would crawl back to camp. Once he reached the top of the hill he could yell for help or mentally reach out to Teyla. He'd do it now except he wasn't strong enough to reach that far yet.
Still no response.
John sighed and gritted his teeth as he freed his ankle, swallowing the cry of pain that threatened to burst out. He crawled a short distance until he came across a sturdy piece of driftwood. John took a moment to catch his breath. His hands stung and he glanced down to look at them. His palms and fingers were crisscrossed with numerous cuts, some of which would probably need stitches.
"Crap, Carson's gonna have a field day when I get back. He'll probably stick me in the infirmary for a week." Break time over, John grabbed his chosen piece of wood and used it as a lever and a crutch to get upright once more. He looked down to judge the best direction to head to leave the scree then looked up to plot his course up the hill.
John made his way slowly across the loose rocks, testing each step to make sure he didn't set off Round Two. He'd just made it to the grassy border when he bumped into Kanaan. John peered at the Athosian and decided he'd come to help as Kanaan's attention was focused on him. Kanaan reached out and John thought he was going to assist him back to their camp so he was rather surprised when Kanaan snatched his driftwood crutch instead and tossed it away.
"Hey! What gives?" John wobbled a bit until he found his balance, right foot flat with the toe of his left boot barely touching the ground. "I need that to …"
He looked at Kanaan's face then down at his hands. It took a moment for his brain to kick in and make sense of the image in front of him. Kanaan was gripping the Beretta so fiercely that his knuckles were white and pointing it straight at him.
"Kanaan, put that down. You don't wanna do anything rash."
"I am taking back my son's love."
The silence was broken by two gunshots.