Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing! I know it's not most folks' cup of tea to read a long gen story where Teyla is the center, so it means a lot that you stuck with me. The feedback has been fantastic. Thank you so, so much!
And so...last chapter.
NEVER STOP MOVING
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: ON SOLID GROUND ONCE AGAIN (MOSTLY)
Three weeks later, John was very gingerly going through a series of Tai Chi-like motions with Teyla in the gym. Strength training, now that he had his left arm back and most of his range of motion. The arm was sore, and he knew he'd be feeling the scars for a long while, but it was definitely healing.
Besides, that new cute brunette in Rodney's labs had told him the scars were sort of sexy. And, honestly, who is going to disagree with a cute brunette?
What was her name again?
Teyla crouched, one arm raised over her head, the other pointed towards the ground. John attempted to crouch with her, to mimic the action. She had an impressive amount of flexibility he was pretty sure he'd never achieve, but he did try. He felt himself teetering on his legs...but didn't fall.
"Well done," Teyla said, smiling softly as she straightened. He straightened with her.
"Balance still sucks," Ronon noted from where he sat sprawled on the bench under the window.
"Thanks," John replied, twisting his torso in imitation as Teyla turned herself around, her arms stretching out to either side. He hissed a little at the pull on his upper back, and his left arm instinctively tucked into his chest. She glanced at him, and released the move.
"Sorry," she said.
"No, no," John said, giving the reluctant arm a shake. "It's all good. Keep going." His shoulder was throbbing a little, but not too much.
She nodded and transferred her weight to one leg, stretching both arms forward. He had an easier time with that one, though the weight-bearing leg shook a little.
"Balance still sucks," Ronon said again. John gave him a dark look.
"Money where your mouth is, Dex," the colonel snapped, managing to get the shaking under control with a couple of foot shifts. Teyla's lips quirked in an amused smile. Ronon just arched his eyebrows, stood up, and mimicked the motion without any difficulty. John just sneered.
Ronon grinned, and sat back down.
"Why are you still here anyway?" John demanded, as Teyla finally released the move, which was John's cue to slump back to a resting position. Thank God.
"Entertainment," Ronon replied. The Satedan had been practicing fighting techniques with Teyla when John had arrived, and had apparently decided to stick around to watch the 'strength training', though he himself wasn't partaking.
"You must be really bored," John said then, sighing a little when Teyla crouched low and did something that looked like it would definitely end up with John sitting on his rear if he tried it. Still, nothing ventured...
A second later, he fell on his ass with a painful grunt. Damn.
Ronon chuckled. "No," he said, "this really is entertaining."
The glare John gave him had sent many a marine running off in fear. Ronon just grinned more.
Teyla stood up and rolled her neck. She looked at John, who was still sitting on the floor where he'd fallen. "Need a hand?" she asked kindly.
John sighed, and managed to get back to his feet on his own. She smiled...and then crouched down again.
"Aw," he whined, taking in a deep breath before following her lead. He wobbled dangerously but, miraculously, stayed on the balls of his feet this time. Now, if he could just balance his arms like she had them...
"Right," Ronon said suddenly, pushing himself up off the bench and stretching. "Gotta go."
John instantly stood up from his crouch, not hiding his surprise. "What? Why?"
The puzzled look he got in response was priceless. "Why do you care?"
"No, I…" John frowned, "I didn't mean that you couldn't leave. I was just," he gave a shrug—trying not to be pleased when both shoulders lifted without too much pain, "I was thinking about maybe getting some dinner soon. Thought you two might come along. Maybe pick up Rodney, too."
Ronon gave him a shrug back. "Can't."
Ronon's jaw tensed slightly. "I have to tell you everywhere I go?"
John's eyebrows lifted. The defensive nature of the answer only made him more curious. "No, I just…" he tilted his head, "You have other plans, I take it?"
Another shrug from the big man. "Yeah."
John smiled, and couldn't resist the next question. "Can I ask with whom?"
"John…" Teyla's voice warned from behind him. He ignored her. Sure, he was needling a rottweiler, but it was fun. Ronon, meanwhile, had turned his back on John in order to pick up his things.
John smiled wickedly. "Is it with a girl?" he asked.
Ronon turned to give him a dark look over his shoulder, and John's glee increased.
"It is a girl!" he said. "You've got a date!"
"It's not a date," Ronon snarled. "I don't date."
"Straight to your quarters then, I understand."
The look John received for that could compete with standing behind a fired up Jumper engine on the list of things he should avoid in the future. But then again…fun!
"Oh, come on," he said, moving to stand next to Ronon by the window. "I'm just kidding. So who is it?" He raised his eyebrows. "That red-head from Rodney's labs with the curly hair? The lovely, blonde Doctor Cole? The short-haired brunette in maintenance?"
John had been so busy teasing the Satedan, he hadn't heard the gym doors open. Turning his head, the grin on his face instantly faded at the sight of Doctor Biro standing there, squinting into the gym with the look of someone seeing a room for the first time. She blinked a bit, wrinkled her nose at the heavy scent of sweat, then focused her intense gaze on Ronon. They eyes were narrowed behind the glasses.
"Ah, there you are," she said, as clipped as ever. "Are you ready? I have two western blots that I'll need to get back to in an hour, so we should go now." Her upper lip curled, "Of course…if you wanted to shower first, I would not mind."
"Nah, I'm good," Ronon replied, throwing his bag over his shoulder and turning towards the door. "Let's go."
"No, really," Biro backed up a step as he got closer, "I'm fine with you going to take a shower. I mean, I know some women swoon at the smell of 'musk', as they call it, but to me, it's just unnecessary body odor. Why don't you shower and then meet me in my lab in ten minutes." Without waiting for an answer, she turned around and walked away down the corridor. "We can begin then. Don't be late! Losing ten minutes of our time together because of your laziness to clean up before meeting me is already a demerit, Specialist Dex!" The last was delivered out of sight of the gym, almost swallowed up in the halls as she disappeared.
Ronon stood in the doorway a minute, peering after her, then lowered his head. With a heavy sigh, he walked the rest of the way out of the gym and the doors shut behind him.
John stared at the doors for a long minute before turning his gaze on Teyla. She had a darkly amused smile on her face.
"Biro?" he asked, the name coming out almost as a cough. She gave him a nod.
"Ronon decided, instead of studying engineering, as I am, that he wanted to learn a little more about medicine, your medicine, beyond just first aid. I understand that his former lover was a physician, and, perhaps in her memory, or simply because he wants to be able to do more for us in the field, he asked Doctor Beckett who might be able to teach him. He asked for someone who would not be intimidated by him, someone who would do most of the talking without really expecting answers, and someone would not talk down to him but would simply show him what he needs to know." She tilted her head towards the doors, "Doctor Beckett suggested Doctor Biro."
John's eyebrows perked, looking again to the doors. "Oh. Huh."
"It was a good choice, I believe," Teyla continued. "Doctor Biro is not intimidated by anyone and, I think we can agree, she really does not need another person in the room to carry on a conversation." She smiled more, turning her head to the doors fully. "I recall once having lunch with her about a year ago, and I do not believe she allowed me to put in one word edgewise. It was one of the strangest conversations I have ever had. And, afterwards," she turned her attention back to John, "she thanked me for providing so many insightful ideas. It was very odd."
John frowned briefly, then, with a crooked smile, gave a single nod. "Hey, whatever floats his boat."
"It is good for us to expand our learning," Teyla said, settling down into another exercise stance. "I imagine that Ronon's increased skills in medicine will become of great use in the field. You may also be interested to know that he has set up a time to work with Doctor Brown in Botany—she was apparently very excited by the aloe-like plants he brought back from the Kaveer's planet, and has asked the Daedalus to grab more when it goes. John, you need to straighten your back more." The last sentence was said because John had settled down into the stance in imitation of Teyla. He straightened his back. She nodded, "Good." She slowly raised her left arm, drawing it around and forward.
He felt the still very raw flesh on his left arm straining as mimicked her, the muscles shaking a little. He breathed out slowly, hearing the exhale shake a little as it crossed his lips.
"It's always good to learn," he agreed, pushing his arm forward as Teyla did, the slow and steady motion putting stress but not impact on the limb. He looked forward to having his strength back again.
He breathed out, then pulled the arm back in and straightened. Opposite him, Teyla shifted and sinuously switched into a new stance. He adopted it as well, though not with the same grace.
They went through about a half dozen more moves before the doors to the gym opened again, and Rodney stepped inside. It showed one of the differences between Rodney and Biro—Biro had very clearly avoided allowing even a toe to cross the threshold, but Rodney just walked right in as if he owned the place. Of course, he did that everywhere he went.
"Hey," he called, looking up from the tablet he was carrying on his left arm. The damn thing was like an extension of his body at times—when in the city, he was rarely without it. John nodded at his friend, making a quick assessment of the man's condition—something he'd done often since Rodney was discharged last week. Except for still being paler than normal—the smudges under his eyes still too dark for John's liking—Rodney almost looked like his old self again.
"Hey," John replied, straightening again from the crouch Teyla had put him in. She stayed down, holding it a little longer than he did.
"Have you come to exercise, Rodney?" she asked, not shifting her pose.
"No. Do I look like I've come to exercise? Please. I'm not that much a glutton for punishment." He tilted his head at Teyla as she finally straightened up. "Are you almost done?"
"Nearly," John answered, rolling his neck. "What's up?"
"Sergeant Johnson's team is back from M3K-211."
"That's the hayseed planet, right?" John was rubbing at his left forearm and elbow now, just below the burn scars, to encourage more blood circulation. Rodney gave a small smile at the description.
"They are sort of Beverley Hillbilly-ish, aren't they? Especially that grandmother with the shotgun." He shuddered slightly, his right hand resting atop the tablet.
"What is a hayseed?" Teyla asked, stretching her arms a little in front of her, her eyebrows lifted in curiosity.
"Oh, um…" John frowned, trying to think of a good explanation that didn't sound condescending…and failing. He gave a rueful smile. "I'll tell you later."
"So, anyway," Rodney was flexing and unflexing his right hand now—it was apparently still giving him slight spasms of pain, but less and less so as time went by, "they brought back a few interesting things from the ruins of the Ancient lab we found there. One of which," he tapped a few things on the tablet, then turned it around to show them a picture of something that looked like a battery, "was this."
John peered at the screen, then arched an eyebrow. "Energizer? Or Duracell?"
"Ha, ha," Rodney sneered, turning the tablet back around, looking down at the picture. He frowned then, "Weirdly, you're not totally wrong. We're not completely certain yet, but we think it might be a portable generator of some kind. One that draws energy from the environment surrounding it when it's on—namely, it captures and uses radiant energy." He swung his right hand around in a circle then rested his hand on the tablet again. John frowned.
"It's a generator?" he repeated.
"Well," Rodney grimaced, "Okay, it's more like a battery, a universal one and one that's constantly recharging. You can put it in place of whatever power source might be failing or has failed, and it will, temporarily, stand in the place of that power source, drawing on whatever energy it can find around it. It may not be a lot of power, in fact, it's probably very little, but it could be better than nothing in a dire circumstance."
"It draws power from…anything that it can find in the environment around it? Like," John's brow furrowed, "people? Or plants?"
"Oh, no, don't be an idiot," Rodney waved a hand, then frowned as he considered John's words. "Well, I don't really know about plants, but I'm sure it can't draw energy from people. That'd be ridiculous."
"But, could it?"
"No," Rodney looked down again at the screen. "Well, probably not. At the very least, I'm sure there are fail-safes. I mean, what would be the point of, say, using it to bolster the power of a flashlight in a dark cave if it's going to kill the people using it? Besides, people don't radiate much energy."
"Sounds a bit…" John fumbled for a word, then, oddly, remembered one that Grodin used to use all the time that seemed to fit, "dodgy to me."
"Dodgy," Rodney repeated, looking up at him through his eyebrows. "It's not dodgy. It's very cool. Not that I'd expect you to appreciate that."
John just grinned, and moved over to the bench to grab his towel. Teyla was already wearing hers around her neck, and had put her things away. She was standing patiently by the window. He gathered up his sticks and started stuffing them in his bag with his towel, giving her a smile as he did so.
"Anyway," Rodney said to John's back, sounding, oddly, a little nervous, "I was wondering if you'd like to come and look at it. It's not on, and, in fact, may not even be fixable—it's sort of damaged. And, like I said, we're not really sure if it is what I think it is, even though I'm usually right about these things, but, if nothing else, it might be neat to check out, see if we can find something on it in the database that will give us a better idea."
John shook his head as he grabbed up his bag, turning to throw it over his good shoulder. "Thanks, McKay, but I think I'll pass." He turned and gave a half shrug to the scientist. "Researching broken Ancient batteries is not really my thing."
Rodney gave him an annoyed look. "Well, whether or not it's your thing doesn't really matter to me, Colonel, since I wasn't actually asking you." His gaze shifted to Teyla. "So? Want to come see it?"
She blinked once, then slowly began to smile. "I'd love to," she said, her smile now bordering on dazzling.
"Then come on," Rodney said, turning around to walk out. Teyla almost ran after him, catching up to him and the door and taking the tablet when he handed it to her.
"You measure radiant energy in joules, correct?" she asked as they disappeared around the corner, her focus on the tablet. "Are these marks on the side a sort of measure of that?"
"Yes," Rodney said, his voice echoing down the corridor. "They tell you the level of radiant energy in the vicinity of the device." He snorted, "Of course, Zelenka doesn't think it's a battery. He thinks it's just an Ancient Geiger counter, but, as usual, he's wrong and thinking much too small…"
John was still standing there, listening as their voices began to fade out, then he frowned suddenly. Looking towards the door, he frowned some more.
What the hell?
"Hey!" he called suddenly, jogging out after them. "Wait!" He caught up them a couple of corridors down, two faces looking back at him, one with puzzlement, and one with a puzzled annoyance. He grinned, slowing to a stop before them. "You got a name for this device yet?" John asked.
"What?" McKay asked, puzzled annoyance turning into real annoyance.
"Just thinking," John smiled as he took the tablet from Teyla, and started walking in the direction of McKay's lab, "how about, the Soylent Green battery." He was grinning when he felt two sets of people jog to catch up to his long legged stride. "You know," he chuckled, "just in case it's people!"
McKay's pain-filled groan was so worth it.
I hope you liked it!
And if you don't know the cult sci-fi movie Soylent Green...be glad. LOL! Of course, you could always look it up on Wikipedia. Hee.