Ryan C. Charles
A/N: Interlude after my fic Reconciliation and Atlantis Episode 409: Miller's Crossing. Challenges abound. A civilization is missing. An ancient Pegasus enemy attacks human worlds. No one is safe. While John awaits medical clearance to return to Atlantis, Teyla decides it's time to have that talk.
Spoilers for all of season four ...
Teyla is feeling the day in her bones. In one hour, perhaps two, the chief medical officer, Dr. Lam, will see in John's blood that he is no longer influenced by the drug. Shortly thereafter, John will go back with Teyla to the galaxy of her birth. In Atlantis, John will see Dr. Keller, who will tell him he is cleared for duty.
And by early afternoon, Teyla believes, Stargate Command and what happened here will be memory, a memory she is capable of losing. She would lose it, too, except that in a moment of distress she fell back on a custom of her people. In an instant of disquietude she told the leader of her Earth-born allies about the child.
A long-lived Athosian tradition directs a lady with child first to the oldest among the people. In by-gone days, it was the oldest Athosian's duty to examine and confirm the pregnancy, and to give wise words before the joy of expectant life was revealed to the tribe.
If it must be someone not of her people, then it should have been Elizabeth Weir, Teyla reflects. In age, perhaps, Elizabeth is less than the Athosian equivalent of the oldest of her tribe. However, Elizabeth had claimed the honor of leadership in the city of the Ancestors. It would have pleased Teyla to seek Elizabeth first.
Descending in the elevator toward John's quarters, Teyla frowns. How long was she to wait?
The ways of her people are as much a part of her as the sinew and blood of her body but who is there to go to?
Who is left to speak the confirming words and graze her cheek and smile with happiness? Who will come to her in the clearing between tents when the fires are lit to hear her words and celebrate with her the life to come?
The answer is like a sliver in her heart, and it is one her Earth-born friends will not understand.
She has known too long now to explain easily her silence-- a silence she has broken.
In a room with General Landry, when John slipped beyond her, she spoke the words: "I carry his child."
There will be no circle of fires, no celebration, no singing as the sun sets among the high trees.
Still, she must remember that she is not the last Athosian. The last Athosian lives within her.
x x x
John's quarters within the SGC are spartan and temporary. By the light of a lamp and an overhead panel Teyla notes a bed, table, and storage cabinets. No window, she realizes. The air is created within machines, like the air on the Daedalus. Here, the air is sanitized and recycled for use many levels below the ground. There can be no window, and the only way out of the SGC is through the Stargate or inside a massive shaft on an elevator car.
John is dressed for duty, but tells her as he lets her in, "Discharged from the infirmary but not cleared medically, not yet."
"How long before the test results are finished?"
He's facing her but backing away to let her in. "Not long, they tell me."
"I would like to discuss with you a change of--"
As the door closes, "The thing?" he interrupts. After piping up he scrunches his face, a mute apology for barging in. He throws open his arms, inviting her to continue.
But now she is concerned. "The thing?"
"The thing that's bothering you."
She's looking for a chair. There are two by a table. She inclines her head in their direction, and to her surprise he heads quickly to the table, takes a seat, folds his hands.
His demeanor worries her. Have the drugs truly left his blood? Should she wait?
"Are you going to sit down?" he asks.
"Yes, of course."
Settled across from him, she attempts to smile. Feels her lips quiver. A sorry beginning if ever there was one. She dips her head, searching for the strength to start.
After a long time, she lifts her face, finds him waiting, his light-colored eyes patiently searching hers.
A shock. "You already know."
"Depends on what you're talking about."
"I am with child."
"That, yeah, that I know."
"And you said nothing?"
His eyebrows shoot to his hairline. "I don't know how it works where you're from, but usually when the person doesn't want to tell you, there's a reason. I'm assuming we're in this together."
His shoulders go up high and settle with relief. "Oh good. That takes care of the obvious reason. You, uh, planning on keeping it?"
"It is our custom to raise our young in the place of birth."
"No, I meant-- Okay, never mind what I meant. I don't get why you didn't say anything."
She glances away, and then back. "There was no one to say it to."
"What about me?"
"You are the one who stands among the others ..." And to his frown, she hurries to add, "When the eldest of my people calls out for the new life, Who speaks for this child? ..." She sees his frown deepen. "Until the eldest asks this, you are among the others. Then you, if you are willing, hearing with the others that there will be a child, you would come into the clearing and say so. But there is no one to ask this for me and my baby, and there is no one to give blessing. I am alone, John."
A tap at the door and then a beep as the door opened. Teyla and John look at the uniformed intruder, the man she knows as Walter Harriman.
Harriman inclines a bald head in their direction. "Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard, you've been cleared by medical. The General has asked me to personally convey his wish for a safe return. Colonel, Miss Emmagan, we're ready in the gate room."
John nods, gets up, and holds out his hand to Teyla.
Teyla takes his hand and feels him give a squeeze.
"We'll finish this later, I promise," he says.
x x x
As the chevrons on the massive naquadah ring are locking, John wonders if he's ever been this relieved to 'gate back to Atlantis. A fast look over his shoulder confirms General Landry posted behind the glass beside Harriman. John wishes the meeting of their glances, however brief, wasn't the karmic equivalent of a cringe. Actually, the General looks mild, diplomatic. Water under the bridge? Maybe, maybe not.
Teyla is beside John. The General is careful of appearances around off-world allies.
And the what are you going to do now talk between John and the General hadn't gone terribly awry with respect to fixing things.
Colonel Richard Wallace had said, " ... the unexpected but useful fact we can mate with women from other planets ..."
A mite of a detail at the time, considering the weight and direction of his chat with Wallace, but in the watershed of moments that followed their meeting, while John was essentially alone, he'd thought about that aspect of their conversation and groaned, dropping a hand heavily over his eyes.
Yeah, he was an idiot. Teyla's pregnancy, now, to him, a salient and startling reality, was in all likelihood obvious to everyone-- to everyone, that is, but him.
And he was going to have to deal.
While he waited for Dr. Lam's to discharge him, two issues had jumped at him, knotting his stomach. The first socked him on a personal level, which made the later meet in General Landry's office all the more difficult-- he didn't like his private life bannered for general consumption. The second joined the first in the stomach-kicking department: Stargate access, for him, was going to mean the world and then some now, forever, yeah, plus one day.
Eventually, Dr. Lam had let him out of bed, sending him directly to Landry, the General's request. Summoned by the General, always a good sign, John had thought wryly.
Though he was spent after his one-on-one with Colonel Wallace, he went where he was told.
And there they were, he in a modified parade rest pose, the General staring at him over his desk with that frown stitched over the eyes, like he was squinting but not ... and the General was saying, "I understand congratulations are in order."
Oh no he did not just say that.
Get used to it, John, warned the voice in his head. It's going to happen a lot.
Landry chewed his lip, still staring.
John wondered if the General was sweating him. Relationships within the SGC weren't new. Still, the military liked to believe that although matters of the heart were private, its people observed protocol. With respect to Teyla, and John's relationship with her, well, he was pretty sure the rulebook hadn't been updated for encounters with women from other worlds, liaisons with off-world civilization leaders, and affairs with team members born in a newly discovered galaxy. The trouble with the existing rules was they were open to interpretation, and one of the guys who did the interpreting was sitting in front of him.
"Anything here I should be reporting to the IOA?" Landry ground out.
John figured maybe the IOA, the President, and while the General was at it, he could email the editor of People.
"I don't ... think so, sir."
"The IOA prides itself on being up to date on factors that play in Earth's off-world alliances."
John's mouth opened in a great big "O" of understanding. "Nothing to report, sir. Nothing will change."
"I beg to differ."
Could this get any more excruciating?
"Yes, sir. I mean, I know, sir, she's going to change, but no, the alliance isn't ... going to change." He almost said, "Such as it is," a reference to Teyla's missing people, but he worried the General would get the wrong message. He decided to try a little revelation, little being the operative word. "Sir, I've been seeing her for a while."
"More information that I needed, Lieutenant Colonel."
Damn it. "Yes, sir."
"Thank you, sir."
But as he turned to leave, Landry's brittle voice stopped him. "A while, you say?"
Sensing a condemnation, or at least a little judgment in the wind, John winced. He faced the General, hands behind his back.
"So it's legit?"
He and Teyla, legit?
"Thinking about the ramifications?"
"One or two of them, yes, sir."
"You'll have a child out there, Colonel. Out there. I've watched other SGC personnel contend with that. Whole new challenges. And time isn't on your side."
While John wondered what that meant, Landry stood, bringing John to attention.
Landry waved him 'at ease.' "I'm talking about the war, Colonel."
"Yes, sir." John nodded.
"Good luck," Landry said. "We set up quarters while you wait for your tests. Hopefully you're out of here soon."
x x x
It is growing dark in the city of the Ancestors. John goes right away to medical for clearance to resume his duties. Teyla checks in with Lieutenant Dorsett, the officer coordinating the forensic teams working in the science lab.
The best lead so far, Dorsett tells her, is the singed edges on the pottery shards but that evidence is weeks' old. Repeated scans have yielded no information about the type of weapon that hit the jar. If it was a weapon. Dorsett shows her the empty lab-- the teams are working part time now, he tells her, but they remain under mandate to funnel data from other projects through the investigation's dedicated server if the data shows relevance to her case.
Teyla thanks Dorsett and then wanders among the evidence tables.
Her com activates. John, asking her to join him in the mess hall. She looks up. Dorsett is long gone. The halogens above the tables are bright, and her eyes are hot. She aligns a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.
"I will eat later," she answers. The mess hall is not private anyway. She tells him she will meet him later.
"Workout room?" he suggests.
There is tension in her shoulders, and in her back. "Yes, a workout would be nice. Radio me when you are ready."
She heads to her quarters, changes into a loose-fitting garment with a panel of skirts. She stretches slowly, seeking a meandering path within her mind, one that does not lead to the troubles she faces. Folding her legs, she closes her eyes.
She hears John's voice on the com. "Teyla to Colonel Carter's conference room."
"On my way." She rises slowly, lightly brushes her stomach. Only butterflies and tenderness now. Only a promise, now. Very nearly, she smiles.
Slipping into shoes, she heads to the command tower.
Night has fallen. The moist air smells heavily of salt. It is a scent that clings to her lungs. No wind tonight, and the strangeness reminds Teyla of a lost friend.
She is thinking of Elizabeth Weir when she climbs the central stairway to Elizabeth's-- Colonel Carter's --conference room.
The tall, broad panels stand open. Through them Teyla notices the lighting has been dialed back. Dark and light mingle, flickering like candlelight. Teyla sidles past the vertical panels, blinks to be sure of her sight.
What is this?
Ronon and Rodney, standing to face her. Why isn't Rodney with his tablet or laptop? Why isn't Ronon seated with the mask of control firmly obscuring his emotions?
As she puts up her hand in surprise, Rodney sashays forward. When the scientist moves, Teyla sees Katie waiting behind him, her soft face beaming.
John shuffles behind Teyla, his warmth and scent warning her that he is there an instant before he eases by.
She turns quickly to greet him. He is not alone. Colonel Samantha Carter and Major Lorne follow. Lorne's normally taciturn expression is inexplicably relaxed, though Colonel Carter seems somewhat formal.
Rodney shocks Teyla by planting himself in front of her, and with a lopsided grin he gestures to a place in the center of the conference room. "Here, right here," he says, leading her.
She doesn't know what is happening, so she goes with him. Ronon strides behind, ending up at Rodney's side. As Teyla searches the faces of her teammates, the big panels of the conference room swivel shut.
Something breaks right through her. She opens her mouth to question--
John, who is not in uniform, waves her silent. As the others draw near, he stares, and stares some more, reminding that even though there has been between them a distance of late, she is the one he's chosen to let past the sentries of his heart.
As much as they can, her Earth-born friends circle her.
Samantha Carter clasps her hands behind her back. "We know we're a poor substitute for the real thing, but hopefully you'll let us do what we can."
"I do not understand."
Colonel Carter explains, "We gather that a base commander may stand in for an Athosian elder in announcing the advent of new Athosian life. Is that right?"
More surprise. But then she'd tried to tell John, hadn't she, on Earth? For now, she bows her head.
"Yes," she answers.
Teyla mouths the word: "Yes."
Carter spreads her arms. "Everyone, this is our comrade Teyla, who is expecting a child."
Among her friends there is silence. Not surprisingly, they have grown solemn rather than jubilant. Though it is not the Athosian way-- this quiet --it is theirs.
"Did I do it right?" Carter asks.
Teyla thinks, Well done. But there isn't a trick to it. The words should come from feelings, and they do. "You have done enough." She smiles broadly. "You have all done enough."
John gestures sharply to Carter ... who clears her throat and calls out: "Who speaks for this child?"
John steps forward. He raises his arms and draws her inside them. She understands now why he is not in uniform. It is for this, their first embrace in front of his people.
Turning his head to look at the others, "I do," John Sheppard says.
DISCLAIMER: "Stargate SG-1," "Stargate Atlantis," and its characters are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp., Showtime/Viacom and USA Networks, Inc. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations and story are the property of the author(s), and may not be republished or archived elsewhere without the author's permission.