Title: Stupid Cupid (And Other Rhyming Words)
Chapter Title: Prologue: Unrelenting Venting
Summary: Nine years after Teyla's return to Atlantis, the entire base is a little fed-up with the runaround between John and Teyla. But only a select few are willing to do anything about it.
Inspiration: This story would not exist without the wonderful rubycaspar, who--while I was putting myself down due to frustration from writer's block--came to my aid with this great story idea. She suggested a little conspiracy set on the Atlantis base, orchestrated by an unlikely mastermind. Everything you are about to read is thanks to her beautiful, beautiful brain. -gives brain a cookie-

--

It was amazing how Atlantis still intimidated him. It had been his home for his entire life, but there was still so much about the city he did not know; so much he was still cautious about. That was saying something, too, because he was not--by nature--a child that normally concerned himself with things like safety and timidness. It was something rarely ever seen from him, except for in these cases.

"C'mon, T," the girl begged him, tugging on his shirt sleeve, "Just one round? Please?"

"Nuh-uh," he shook his head.

"I'll be your best-est friend!"

He rolled his eyes at her, "You already are my best friend, Li."

"Then act like it," the little girl demanded, letting go of him and crossing her arms over her chest, "Play hide-and-seek with me." Tagan was only a year and a half older than Ilima, but he knew well enough how smart she was for her age. They both were, really, but the girl was much louder about it, so it was more apparant; Tagan, however, preferred to keep to himself. He was adventurous, sure, but he never saw the need to shout out or argue or throw fits, so he didn't get as much attention for his wit and charm.

Tagan wanted to laugh, but that would have been about the same as surrendering, so he simply shook his head again and sighed, "Not today, Li. Can we just go to the library or something?" The girl stared at him through a bright-green glare for a few seconds before finally copying his sigh and reaching up to slip one hand through his. He smiled down at her and turned, leading her from the control room and to the nearest transporter, which took them down a few levels to the library that had slowly formed over the years, built from discarded books of expedition members. They settled onto the makeshift couch (three stacked mattresses pressed against a wall, topped with pillows for back-support), and Tagan leaned over to pick a random book off of one of the shelves. Ilima scooted closer so that she could see the pages as her friend began to read aloud, stumbling over and sounding out the words he had yet to learn. "When Mary Len-nox was sent to Miss-el-th-waite Man-or to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most dis-a-gree-a-ble-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a so-ur ex-pre-ssi-on." He continued for about half an hour, until a voice interrupted his narrations.

"Tagan?"

He stopped right in the middle of a snide remark from Mrs. Medlock and reached into his pocket to extract a small radio; he (as well as Ilima) was required to carry it with him at all times. He pressed down on the small, red button at the top and said, "Momma?"

She sighed into the radio, but not in a way that said she was aggrivated with him; it was more of a tired, reluctant sigh. "I fear we have been ordered to go on a last-minute mission, so we will be having supper early tonight. Would you like to join us now, or do you wish to wait?"

Tagan shook his head, even though he knew she couldn't see it, "No, I want to eat with you!"

"I was hoping you would," Teyla told him sincerely, a smile evident in her voice, "We will be in the cafeteria in ten minutes." There was some muffled chatter then, and the boy's mother came back with, "And Ronon would like me to ask you to bring Ilima, as well."

Ilima wrinkled her nose, amused, "How did he know I was here?" But Teyla didn't answer; she didn't need to. She simply laughed and said her good-byes, leaving the two children to mark their page and set their book aside before making their way back to the transporter.

--

"Uncle Ronon!" Tagan charged forward, jumping at the large man, knowing he would catch him and toss him into the air as if he weighed nothing. It used to scare him, but when he realized Ronon would never drop him, it became a regular game.

Sure enough, the Satedan man lifted him easily and tossed him, only to catch him again a moment later. Then he put him down and gave him a stern look, though his voice was kind and kidding, "Don't you know you're always supposed to greet your mom first? Don't you have any manners?" Tagan, used to this, just stuck out his tongue, but nevertheless ran obediently to his mother, who scooped him up in her arms and hugged him tightly, swinging him from side to side. Ilima and Ronon shared the same exchange before they loaded up their trays and settled into a table in the middle of the mess hall.

"Where's Uncle Rodney?" Ilima asked, pinching a grape between her thumb and index finger while looking around. She and the scientist had a special game they liked to play during meals; she would toss grapes up as high as she could and Rodney would catch them in his mouth, and then position the fruit between his teeth so that it squirted juice at her when he bit down. Today, however, he wasn't there.

Tagan chomped down on a biscuit and told her, "I'll bet he's making mushy-eyes at Katie." Then he looked up at his mother and asked curiously, "Do we call her Aunt Katie?"

Teyla laughed and shrugged slightly, "If you would like to, yes. She and Rodney have been together for quite some time now, and I am sure she would not mind."

"And it might finally get Rodney to pop the question," Ronon muttered under his breath, laughing when Teyla kicked him playfully under the table.

Ilima smiled at the exchange before asking, "What about Uncle Johnny-Cash? Where is he?"

Tagan watched his mother's face fall suddenly and was about to inquire as to why when a voice sounded behind them, "Here. I'm right here, Little 'Lima." John appeared, ruffling the little girl's hair, and then the boy's, "Teek." Out of all his nicknames, "Teek" seemed to be reserved for John and John only. It was the combination of Tagan's first two initials (T and K), and no one else had ever called him by that name. Uncle Evan and some others called him TK, but not Teek.

"Uncle Johnny-Cash," Ilima bounced about excitedly in her chair, "Where are you guys going?"

John sat down next to her and stole a grape from her tray, "R2T-K134."

"Is it gonna be dangerous?"

"Very," John leaned forward, making his voice sinister and ominous, "Certain doom awaits us around every corner. Shadows stalk us with each step we take. Enemies will line up to be sure we do not leave that planet...with their vegetables." He winked and the girl broke down in a fit of giggles, as she often did around him. At first, John thought himself to be very charming. After a while, however, he came to realize that--more often that naught--the girl was actually laughing at him, and not his jokes. And Tagan, who would normally be listening and laughing right along, was distracted by the stone-cold look on his mother's face. She'd frozen at the mention of John, and had yet to thaw. It didn't take a genius (or even a ten-year-old) to tell that they were fighting...yet again.

"Teek," the boy was jolted from his observation when a large hand landed on his shoulder. He turned to look up at John, who smiled at him, "What have you been up to today? For your sake, I hope you say 'studying.' Both of you," he added, looking at Ilima as well, "Or else, Rodney might not let us have our movie-night tonight." When Tagan had turned four, Rodney and the other scientists (but mainly Rodney) had taken it upon themselves to teach him everything he would learn in an Earth school, and then some. When Ilima had turned four, they'd done the same thing. Both children found it fun, for the most part--both enjoying learning about things they otherwise would not know--except for when it was Test Week. One week out of every month, Rodney and Radek and Aya would come up with tests covering every single subject they'd covered over the preceding weeks and the two kids had to take two tests every day for six days straight. It wasn't so bad...as long as they got the majority of the questions right.

Tagan grinned guiltily, "We watched a movie."

"And played with Carson," Ilima put in, referring to the three hours they'd watched Carson march sillily about the infirmary, like he was in a Buster Keaton film.

"And went to the library," Tagan finished, taking a bite of his sandwhich, "We were reading The Secret Garden." The three adults tsked and tittered teasingly for a few moments before Ronon asked them what the book was about, and the two kids started explaining enthusiastically, both caught up in the wonder of a book, eager to know what would happen when Mary finally found the garden. A short time later, Rodney joined them, blushing feverously, which confirmed where he'd been the whole time. He sat down and began eating and playing his game with Ilima and grilling the kids about their upcoming tests. Of course, both children lied and told him they'd been studying endlessly, finding it all too fascinating to even think about doing anything else, and he believed it. Or he just wanted to believe it. Either way, he did not press them on the matter.

Finally, 1800 came around and the four adults left to suit up. Half an hour later, they gathered in the gateroom, where Tagan and Ilima joined them once again. They all said their quick good-byes, and the kids watched as their family stepped through the blue, watery orb that--while confined to one small space--seemed to stretch and grow and fill the whole room. Neither of them had been off-world via wormhole that led to somewhere other than New Athos or Ballkan or Old Sateda, so the infinite unknowns of the stargate were still daunting to them.

"Ancestors, please keep my papa safe," Ilima mumbled to herself as she gripped the small pendant of her necklace in her hands, like she always did when the team went off-world. "And Aunt Teyla and Uncle Rodney and Uncle Johnny-Cash." When she'd finished, she looked up at Tagan and asked, "Can we go see my mommy now?" He nodded and took her hand again, walking with her to the expedition quarters.

When the door to Ilima's family's room swung open, she dropped her friend's hand and ran inside, smiling and laughing, "Hi, Mommy!"

"Hey, sweetie," the woman said quietly, leaning back from her computer and pressing a finger to her lips, "Not so loud, okay? Mommy just got the baby to sleep."

"Oops," Ilima clapped her hands over her mouth comically and whispered, "Sorry."

The woman laughed, "Its okay." Then she looked past her daughter and smiled at the boy behind her, "Hey there, Tagan."

He smiled and waved, "Hi, Aunt Jennifer. How's Matheu?"

"Much better." Jennifer hadn't been to the infirmary for a week to work. Instead, she'd been caring for her year-old son, who'd come down with a pretty bad flu. "He's still a little sick, but I think he'll be all better in a few days." As she spoke, her daughter made her way over to the crib that sat beneath the tall window of their room and stared at her baby brother, reaching down to brush a strand of dark brown hair from his face. She smiled when he rolled over and cooed slightly, then returned to her mother's side.

"I'm glad he's getting better," she whispered. She paused and then asked, "Wanna play hide-and-seek?"

--

"Incoming wormhole." Three and a half hours later, Tagan and Ilima ran past Chuck and down the stairs to welcome back their respective parents. But, as they entered through the gate, not one of the team members looked particularly cheerful.

"Would you two give it a rest already?" Rodney groaned.

Ronon sighed, "For once, I agree with Rodney; it doesn't matter."

"Well, I'll drop it when Teyla drops it," John snapped, staring down the woman in question, who stopped and turned on her heel.

Speaking slowly, voice tinged with anger, irritation, and frustration, she told him, "You were careless. You allowed us to be taken advantage of!" For a brief moment, the two children--watching from the stairs--feared their parents had been attacked, until, "We could have negotiated further-still. Instead, you settled for a mere fraction of their crops without so much as considering the fact that they had much more to offer."

"I didn't want to be greedy!"

"'Greedy?'" The woman repeated the word incredulously, "You would have us think that you were being a gentleman by settling when you did? John, you were too busy staring at Yaami to know what you were agreeing to." She turned and started through the door that led to the armoury, where the team always geared down, John right on her trail. After a brief moment, the two remaining men and two children followed curiously.

"Staring?" John called after her, "I was admiring her--"

Teyla laughed harshly at that, cutting in, "Well, you were admiring her so hard that you probably could have made the most lecherous of men blush."

"So, what? You're jealous? Is that it?"

Teyla stopped then, as if she'd slammed into a brick wall. She turned slowly and took a few steps toward John, pushing him back, his eyes wide under her hard gaze. "You can do as much as you like with as many women as you wish, Colonel Sheppard," her voice was cool and calm, "But I will not have you jeapordize the livelihood of this city just to fulfill your desires." She stared at him a moment longer before turning away to start back down the hall, walking right past the armoury and into a transporter.

Tagan, who'd been frozen in his place from confusion and a little fear, finally snapped out of his catatonic state when John had stomped off as well and Ronon put a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to look at his two uncles and sighed, "Its getting worse." They nodded. "Much worse." Another nod. "I think we should do something about it."

--

A/N:

And the prologue is done! R&R, please!

Oh, and just to clear everything up, just in case it didn't come across right in the story:
Teyla is the single mother of nine-year-old Tagan Kanaan Emmagan.
Ronon and Jennifer Keller are the married parents of seven(and a half)-year-old Ilima Kaiha Dex and one-year-old Matheu Darren Dex.
Rodney and Katie Brown have been dating for a few years.
John (now a full-fledged Colonel) is still a single, lecherous hump.
And, though she hasn't been mentioned yet, Sam is back in control of Atlantis (and a General).