Disclaimer – I own none of the Stargate franchise.
Well, this turned out longer than I expected, but here ya go. Enjoy!
Ps… Just over a week to go before SEASON 4!!!!!!!! Jeez, I'd better finish Can't Take My Eyes Off You. Oh dear…
This was weird. Weird on so many levels. John kept screwing his eyes shut and opening them again, expecting to wake up, but every time he opened them he saw the same thing.
There were two Rodneys. Two Ronons. Two Teylas. And, standing next to him, another him.
The other John grinned at him. "You look like I felt the first time this happened to me," he said.
John looked at him but didn't say anything. So. Weird.
"Don't worry," said the other John. "Believe it or not you get used to it." He looked him up and down, and John's weirdness level increased still further. He was starting to feel bad for ragging on Rodney when Rod had been on Atlantis – now he knew how it felt to be staring at yourself but know that it's not yourself.
Though Rodney and this counterpart seemed to get on a lot better than Rodney and Rod – in fact he had heard them talking about their dislike for him a few minutes ago.
"At least we're wearing different colours," John's alternate self said. "We were all wearing blue the other time. We almost switched McKays."
John glanced at the two McKays, who were talking animatedly – his one in blue, the other in green – and shook his head. "This is so weird," he said.
The other John gave a kind of strange lopsided grin and sat down on a log. John frowned slightly – did he smile like that?
"So… er – this has happened to you before?" John asked.
The other John nodded. "Only once," he said. "A few months ago. And in the exact same way as well."
John looked over at the quantum mirror, which stood nestled in between two ruined pillars. When they had stumbled across it Rodney had got very excited and started gushing about SG-1 and some Goa'uld attacking Earth, and suddenly the alternate SGA-1 had stepped into view, spotted them, and stepped through.
Hence the weirdness.
The other John was still talking. "That time it was the other guys who came through to us," he said. "We exchanged some intel and then they left."
He smiled in that stupid way again. "I'd have to say I found it pretty weird."
John nodded. "Right," he said. "So, how long will you be staying?"
The other John smirked. "Don't worry, we'll be out of here pretty soon," he said. "Two versions of the same person can't exist in the same reality for very long."
"Oh," said John. "Well, alright. I was just about to secure the area."
The other John nodded. "I usually send Teyla and Ronon to do that," he said.
"Okay, good," said the other John. He stood back up. "Hey – Teyla, Ronon… go secure the area," he said.
Two Ronons and two Teylas looked at the two Johns. John caught the eye of his team members. "You guys go with them," he said.
The Ronons glanced at each other before nodding in the exact same manner and starting to walk towards the treeline. Luckily the alternate Ronon's dreadlocks were shorter than his Ronon, or else John wouldn't be able to tell them apart since they were wearing the same outfit.
As the two McKays started walking towards the other John and himself, John looked over at the two Teylas, who were starting to follow the Ronons. He had avoided looking at the two of them too much, because two Teylas standing next to each other was the weirdest thing of all.
He was completely freaked out by this situation, but his imagination couldn't help going into overdrive when he saw two versions of Teyla Emmagen standing next to each other.
John mentally kicked himself several times. He was sick and wrong, and he needed serious help. Dear lord.
The other John suddenly laughed out loud, and John looked at him in confusion, wondering what was so funny. His counterpart wasn't looking at him though – he was looking at the Teylas.
"Hey, Teyla, wait up!" The other John called out, jogging over to them.
The two Teylas turned round and looked at him, and the alternate Teyla said something to his Teyla and walked back towards the other John. His Teyla kept walking.
The other John walked right up next to the other Teyla – right up next to her; there was barely an inch between them – and then he bent his head and started whispering something in her ear.
John's eyes widened as he watched them. The other Teyla had a small smile on her face at whatever the other John was saying to her.
The weirdness of this had just reached an all-time high.
John was just turning away from the strange sight of himself whispering in Teyla's ear when he noticed the alternate Teyla's expression change. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She stepped away from the other John and hit him on the back of his head.
The other John laughed and the other Teyla shook her head and walked away, though John could see she was trying very hard not to smile.
The other John walked back over to John, a huge grin on his face. "I'm gonna pay for that tonight," he said. "But it was totally worth it…"
John's jaw had dropped, but he hadn't noticed. What the hell???
The other Teyla was still walking away but she looked over her shoulder at the other John and smiled at him. He responded with a very suggestive wink.
Rodney stepped up next to John and gaped at the alternate John. "Wait a minute – are you and Teyla…?" His voice trailed off and he looked at John.
John closed his mouth and looked at his alternate self, who seemed puzzled.
"Yeah," he said. His eyes widened and he stared at John. "Why, aren't you?"
"No!" John exclaimed, frozen to the spot.
The other John looked surprised. "Really?" He asked. "Huh."
The other Rodney stepped up next to the other Sheppard, also looking surprised. "The other Sheppard and Teyla we met were together," he said. "That's interesting…"
"It is interesting," said Rodney. He sat down on the fallen pillar, and his counterpart sat down opposite him on a log, with the other John next to him. John stayed standing, still too shocked to move.
Rodney was talking, and John forced himself to listen. "A similar thing happened to SG-1 – they encountered two parallel realities and in both Colonel Carter and General O'Neill were married," he said. "Well, they were engaged in one, but you get my point."
John frowned – he wanted this conversation over, right now. "So what, they're engaged in our reality," he said. He sank down onto the pillar next to Rodney.
The other Rodney nodded. "So are ours," he said dismissively. "But they encountered those realities years ago, long before they were together."
John looked at his Rodney, who nodded, confirming this statement. He looked away again and saw the other John was staring at him, frowning. His counterpart blinked as their eyes met and he shrugged.
"Sorry, it's just really weird," he said.
John frowned and looked away. He thought it was weird? HA!
"I wonder if we can find where exactly our realities diverged?" Said Rodney excitedly, much to John's dismay. "Obviously before your Sheppard and Teyla got together. When was that?"
This conversation was actually happening. It was actually happening. Oh no.
"About a year and a half ago – " said the other Rodney.
The other John rolled his eyes. "Rodney it's been over two years!" He said crossly.
The other Rodney looked surprised. "Seriously?" He asked.
Two years. John shook his head in disbelief.
"Really, two years?" Said Rodney. "Who knew that Kirk had it in him…"
John momentarily forgot his disbelief in order to glare at Rodney. "Hey!" He said indignantly just as the other John said the same thing.
They glanced at each other and John looked away quickly, shifting uncomfortably.
The alternate Rodney snorted. "Yeah, they're pretty sickening actually," he said to his counterpart.
Rodney leaned forward. "So, how did you get together?" He asked the other John.
John was putting a stop to this conversation right now. "Rodney!" He reprimanded.
Rodney looked at him petulantly. "Oh come on, aren't you curious?" He asked.
John glared at him. "Not really, no," he said.
Rodney glared right back. "I want to know when the realities diverged," he said firmly. He turned back to the other John. "How did you get together?" He repeated.
The other Rodney looked at the other John. "It was when you were a bug, right?" He said to him.
The alternate John rolled his eyes and turned to John and Rodney. "I got infected by this retrovirus that started to turn me into a bug," he said in an explanatory tone.
"He got infected with that too," Rodney said, pointing his thumb at John. "Jeez, was that really two years ago?"
John had a feeling he knew where this was going.
The other John looked very surprised. "You got the retrovirus?" He asked John.
John slumped his shoulders in defeat. "Yeah," he said.
The other John nodded, looking thoughtful. "Well, when I had it, Teyla and I were sparring in the gym and I kissed her," he said.
Rodney gaped at him. "Really? Well, I guess that's where we diverged…" His voice trailed off when he saw the look on John's face.
"Wait a minute – you kissed Teyla?!" He exclaimed.
John shifted uncomfortably.
The other John's eyes widened. "You kissed her?" he asked.
John rolled his eyes. "Yeah.," he said.
"In the gym when you were sparring?" Said the other John.
"Yeah." John's voice was clipped with annoyance.
The other John looked completely bemused. "And you're not together?" He asked.
John glared at a spot over the other John's shoulder as he didn't like the look on his face. "I was under alien influence," he said. It was what he'd been using as an excuse to himself for the past two years, but it sounded far less impressive when he said it out loud.
The other John certainly seemed to think so. "So?" He asked.
John stared back at him, trying to think of a response. His mind was blank.
"The realities must have diverged after you kissed her, then," said the alternate Rodney after a few moments.
John clapped his hands together. "Great!" He said. "Can we talk about something else?"
" I'm curious now," said the alternate John thoughtfully. "You know, we didn't actually get together 'til about a week later."
" What happened?" Asked Rodney.
John didn't want to know. He really didn't want to know what little trick of fate had happened in one reality but not in his.
But the alternate John looked all set to give the details.
"We were in the gym again," said the alternate John. "I'd just got out of the infirmary and I went to find her." He looked at John and shrugged. "I guess you didn't."
John frowned. "No, I did that," he said. "I wanted to apologise. Which I did."
The alternate John tilted his head to one side as he peered at John. "Yeah, so did I," he said. "What happened next?"
John shrugged. "Teyla told me to forget about it," he said. He remembered it well – it had been one of the most uncomfortable conversations of his life. And all he had wanted to do was kiss her again…
The alternate John gaped at him. "And you did?" He asked in disbelief.
John blinked. "You didn't?" He asked.
The alternate John snorted. "Hell no! I just kissed her again."
The two Rodneys chuckled and the alternate John looked at them, so they didn't notice John's look of utter shock, quickly followed by regret.
It hadn't been a trick of fate. It had been him. The John Sheppard sitting opposite him was in a relationship with the girl of his dreams because he hadn't been too scared to take a chance two years ago.
"And that's where it diverged," said the alternate Rodney.
"Fascinating," said his counterpart.
John knew without asking the exact moment that the alternate John had taken the chance he never had. They had been in the gym, and Teyla had told him to "give it no further thought". John's memory had gone into overdrive.
All he had been able to think about was the kiss, even as he had said "good, I won't…" He had looked at her and all he could do was remember the feel of her lips underneath his, of her body moulding against his as he had pinned her up against the wall.
Teyla had said "nice to have you back" and started to turn away, and at that moment all John had wanted to do was grab her arm, pull her back round and kiss her again. Every fibre in his body had been screaming at him to just do it, but he hadn't. Even when she had turned back to him and said his name – which had made his breath catch in his throat – something had held him back.
His fear had held him back.
"Yeah, fascinating," John said, sarcastically. There was a moment's silence, in which John kept thinking back to that moment, and the fear that had stopped him from acting.
He shifted uncomfortably and spoke haltingly. "She… she didn't beat you up?" He asked the alternate John.
The alternate John grinned. "I'm sure she thought about it," he said. "But no."
"And you've been together ever since?" Asked Rodney.
"You didn't have any problems with the IOA?" Asked John.
The alternate John's face darkened for a moment. "What do they have to do with it?" He asked defensively. "Teyla's not military so we're not breaking any rules."
Alternate Rodney leant forward. "Woolsey looked into it for a while, but Elizabeth put a stop to it pretty quickly," he told them. He and the alternate John exchanged a look that conveyed a silent message, and John got the feeling that his alternate self was being slightly flippant about the IOA's reaction.
Rodney shrugged. "It wasn't like they could do anything after they were married –"
John's jaw dropped.
"Married!?" Rodney said disbelievingly.
The alternate John held up his left hand. John and Rodney stared at it, nonplussed, and then the alternate John shook his head as if he'd suddenly realised something.
"I always forget I don't wear my ring on missions," he said, dropping his hand. He smiled ruefully. "Yeah, almost a year now."
Rodney nudged John in the ribs. "Just think, if you had –"
John didn't want to hear it. "Yeah, thanks Rodney," he snapped.
John glanced at his alternate self and saw that he was looking back at him with an annoyingly understanding expression on his face.
"Come on, we don't have long," his alternate self said. "Let's swap intel before we start doing that crazy out-of-faze thing."
Therefore, thankfully, the conversation had shifted to more mundane topics of conversation by the time the Ronons and Teylas got back from scouting the area.
John had been dreading this moment – not only did it now hurt to look at Teyla due to his embarrassment and his regret, but he was also not looking forward to the moment she realised that the alternate John and Teyla were married.
Things were going to get so awkward between them because of this.
John needn't have worried, though – the alternate John and Teyla were completely professional with each other while they were all talking shop. They sat apart from each other and barely looked at each other. They finished each other's sentences a couple of time but John didn't think this was anything to worry about. Teyla didn't seem to have noticed anything.
After about half an hour the alternate team stood up to leave. The eight of them stood facing each other.
"Well," said the alternate John. "Good luck."
John nodded. "Yeah, you too," he replied. "Take care."
His alternate self gave him a sloppy salute, which John returned, and then turned and walked away. His team followed him. There was a final chorus of farewells and then they touched the mirror and were just reflections again, waving and growing smaller as they walked away.
There was a moment's silence.
"Well, that was weird," said Ronon.
"You can say that again," said John.
"I'd better turn off the mirror," said Rodney. Teyla walked over to Ronon and started saying something John couldn't hear.
John reached out and grabbed Rodney's elbow as the scientist walked past him. "McKay," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. "Don't tell anyone about the other John and Teyla being… you know…"
Rodney raised an eyebrow. "Married?" He supplied helpfully.
John resisted the urge to glare at him. "Yeah," he said.
Rodney frowned. "Why not?" He asked.
"Just – just because," said John stupidly. "I don't want things to get weird."
Rodney snorted. "You think this is weird?" He scoffed. "How about – "
John cut him off quickly. "Rodney – just don't, okay?" He pleaded.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Fine," he said. "I think you're overreacting, though."
John did glare at him this time. "I'm not overreacting," he said. "I just don't want you to – hey!"
Teyla had wandered over to join them, and John quickly let go of Rodney's elbow and tried to look nonchalant.
"Are we staying long?" Teyla asked John, who quickly shook his head.
"No, I think we should just head back," he answered. "We'll send someone to come and get the mirror thing…"
"Quantum Mirror," said Rodney exasperatedly. Teyla smiled.
"Whatever," said John, shrugging. He wanted to get out of here, quickly. Hopefully when they got back to Atlantis the weirdness of this whole encounter could be put behind them.
John should have known better, really.
Firstly, Sam Carter was just as excited about finding a whatever-mirror as Rodney was, and regaled them all during the debriefing with tales of her encounters with alternate versions of herself and trips to alternate realities. Secondly, the mirror was brought back to Atlantis for study and safe-keeping, and the whole city was abuzz with speculation about possibilities for other realities. Thirdly, though he kept his word and didn't tell anyone about the alternate John and Teyla, it was quite clear to John that it took all of Rodney's willpower to do so, and this was most apparent whenever Teyla was near him so that John worried every time she happened to appear that Rodney would no longer be able to help himself.
And, of course, there was Teyla herself. The regret that John had felt when his alternate self had told him his story had not diminished after their return home – if anything it had strengthened. And it continued to strengthen every time John saw Teyla.
He would see her in across a room and realise that in another reality another version of himself was able to just walk up to her and kiss her. He would say good night to her in the hallway and know that somewhere they were sharing a room. In another reality, Teyla Emmagen was his wife. And if he had taken a chance two years ago and trusted his instincts, it could have been this reality.
John didn't avoid Teyla, but he didn't go out of his way to spend time with her either. He was continually cursing himself for his cowardice two years ago, and over the next two weeks he was annoyed at himself in the present as well. A large part of him just wanted to tell her what he knew, to tell her that he had made a mistake and rectify it in ways that made his dreams at night a lot more interesting.
There was no way John was going to let that part of him win.
You'd think that the knowledge an alternate version of him was married to Teyla in another reality would give John a confidence boost, and the courage to talk to her, but the thing was it just made it glaringly obvious to John that he had missed his chance and that was that. There was a moment two years ago in which he could have acted, but that moment was long gone. He and Teyla were completely different people now, and there was no telling what she would say or do if he brought up the subject now.
Teyla cornered John in a hallway with lots of people around. Okay, she didn't actually corner him – it wasn't like she'd chased after him and tracked him down; they just happened to bump into each other – but to John it felt a little like cornering.
"Hello John," she said. "What are you doing?"
John put his hands in his pockets and rocked on his heels, hoping that he looked nonchalant, and not panicked like he felt. "Nothing much," he said. "You?"
"I am going to the gym," said Teyla. John sensed danger and tried to think of an excuse before she even said the words. "Would you like to join me?"
His mind was blank. Damn! Work, mind, work!
"Er, I'm…" Yep. That was good.
"I have a spare set of bantos sticks in my bag," Teyla said.
John cursed himself for having already told her he wasn't busy.
Still, maybe this was what he needed. Maybe he should spend time with Teyla and just get over himself already. It was worth a try, anyway.
"Yeah, okay, why not?" He answered. They started to walk together to the gym, chatting idly about their last mission and how the Athosians were faring, and John started to relax. It wasn't at all bad – it was just like old days. Well, days older than two weeks ago.
Sunlight was pouring through the stained glass in the gym, giving it a rosy glow. John shed his jacket and removed his weapons and radio, and took the bantos sticks Teyla offered him. They were her best pair – she was being nice to him.
John smiled slightly and they started to spar. It didn't go very well for him, and after a few minutes he had a new collection of bruises forming thanks to some very well-placed thumps from Teyla.
Yep. Just like old times.
"We have not sparred for quite a while," said Teyla as they faced each other again. John shrugged, trying to appear casual.
"Yeah, it's been crazy around here," he said.
Teyla nodded and attacked. A whirl of bantos sticks and a whack to the shoulder later, and John was in a crumpled heap at her feet.
"Your lack of practice shows," she said, not even out of breath.
John stood up and gave her a mock-hurt look. "You see, this is the real reason I haven't been sparring with you," he said. He placed a hand over his heart and pondered the irony of his next words for a moment before he said them. "You hurt me here," he said.
Teyla raised an eyebrow at him and as soon as he lowered his hand she hit him on the chest with one of her sticks. John stared at her. "That was just mean," he said.
They started sparring once more, and John was soon face-to-face with the floor again.
Teyla folded her arms and smiled slightly as he picked himself up. "The Teyla from the alternate reality told me that the other you is now so good at bantos that he beats her quite regularly," she said.
Wonderful. Another way in which his alternate self was better than him. "Is that a fact?" He asked, trying very hard not to sound bitter.
Teyla nodded. "But she also said that he resorts to rather unusual ploys in order to win," she said.
John forgot his bitterness for a moment. "Ploys?" He asked, confused.
"Distractions, she called them," Teyla said. She quirked an eyebrow at him. "She did not go into detail."
John stared at Teyla in silence, and she looked back at him calmly. After a few moments he found his voice. "She told you," he said quietly.
Teyla cocked her head to one side. "That they are married? Yes."
John felt like an utter fool. All these weeks he had been tiptoeing around Teyla, afraid of letting something slip, or afraid Rodney would. And she had known the entire time.
John shifted uncomfortably. "I didn't say anything because I didn't want things to get weird," he said.
Teyla smiled and nodded. "I understand," she said.
John nodded back. "Okay," he said. Pause. "You don't seem too surprised that I know."
Teyla gave him what he thought of as her 'John-you-are-an-idiot' look. "John, you have been acting so strangely since that mission that it was quite obvious," she said. "And it was quite obvious you did not want to discuss it. However, I think we probably should, so you can start acting normally again."
Now John felt even more foolish. "Oh. Right."
"So the alternate version of you told you?" Teyla asked.
"Yeah," John answered uncomfortably. He reasoned that once they had talked it through they could forget about it, like she said. Or Teyla could, anyway. John could try.
"Yeah, they got together quite a while ago," he told her. "They've been married for almost a year."
Teyla looked a little surprised. "Really?" She asked. "I did not ask my counterpart many questions…"
"Neither did I," John was quick to assure her. "It was Rodney. Both of them. They wanted to know where the realities diverged."
"Oh," Teyla said, smiling slightly. John knew what her next question would be and dreaded having to answer it.
"When did they diverge?" Teyla asked.
John considered lying, saying he didn't know or something. Then he remembered that he had been cursing his cowardice for the past fortnight, that Teyla was his friend, and that he was being an idiot.
"It was just after the bug incident," he said.
Teyla's eyes widened. They hadn't talked about this in years. "Oh?"
John shifted uncomfortably but ploughed on. "When he found her to apologise he… well… he want about things differently."
Teyla's eyes widened further as she realised what he was saying. "Ah," she said.
John became acutely aware that he and Teyla were standing feet away from where that apology had taken place two years ago – where in another reality his other self had changed the course of his life.
John looked anywhere but at Teyla – this was excruciating. His mind tried to think of a reason for leaving that he could use and not feel like even more of a coward. He came up with nothing.
"It is a shame, though."
John's eyes forgot they weren't meant to look at Teyla and snapped up to her face. His mind raced.
"What's a shame?" He asked.
Teyla still looked thoughtful. "That I did not get a chance to talk to the alternate you," she said.
John's bitterness towards his counterpart reared its ugly head again. "Why would you want to do that?" He asked coldly.
Teyla looked quite amused at his tone. "Curiosity," she replied. "I am not easily distracted." She looked down at John's feet and then raked her eyes up his body until they met his, which were wide with shock. He had never until this moment truly understood the concept of being undressed by someone's eyes, but damn if Teyla wasn't looking at him like she was a starving woman and he was a huge bowl of popcorn.
"It would be interesting to have found out about these 'ploys' of his," Teyla said, raising an eyebrow.
John couldn't believe his ears – Teyla was flirting with him. And she wasn't even being subtle about it – this was positively brazen.
John gulped, his mouth suddenly very dry.
"I think I've got a pretty good idea about some of them," he said hoarsely.
Teyla quirked an eyebrow. "Let us continue," she said. "And we shall see if you can… distract me." She twirled her bantos sticks in her hands and adopted a starting position.
John stood stock-still for a moment, still in shock, but quickly snapped out of it and held up his own bantos sticks, ready for her attack. His mind raced with tricks he could employ – tricks he would never have ever considered before the conversation they had just had – but he knew none of them would work. It didn't sit right with him. His treacherous head kept telling him that he had been calling himself a coward for the past two weeks, and this was his chance to take a chance.
Which was why, when Teyla came at him again, he dropped both his bantos sticks to the floor, grabbed her wrist, pulled her to him and kissed her.
John heard as if from a distance the sound of Teyla's bantos sticks join his on the floor, and then her hands were on the back of his head pulling him closer and John lost the ability to notice anything else but the feel of her lips under his.
After a little while John felt Teyla smile against his lips and she pulled away. They rested their foreheads together, breathing heavily, their arms still wrapped round each other.
John blinked his eyes open and looked at Teyla. She was still smiling.
"I think my alternate self was referring to something a little more subtle," she said.
John grinned. "I've got two years to make up for," he said, starting to push her backwards towards the wall behind her. "I don't have time for subtle…"