Title: Guiding Light
Summary: If John is dead, why is he in Teyla's dreams?
Category: Team, with a bit of John and Teyla UST.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Stargate Atlantis. Unfortunately.
Two days after John Sheppard's death, he began appearing in Teyla's bed.
That first night, she was stretched out, trying to force her weary body into sleep. Her eyes, scratchy and dry from bouts of tears, longed for sleep, but her mind would not obey.
She knew she was dreaming when she felt the bed shift, because she felt no surprise as she opened her eyes.
John lay on his side next to her, mirroring her position. "Hey," he said.
"John," she said calmly, as if she didn't know that his burned body was buried under piles of rubble on Forstan.
"So, I was wondering," he said. "When are you guys coming to get me?"
She thought about telling him he was dead, but decided not to mention it. "Soon," she replied.
"Good, because I don't know what they're doing to me, but it hurts." He paused for a moment. "I'm not sure how much longer I can take ..." His voice dissolved into a harsh scream, and Teyla jerked awake, sweating and breathing hard, her entire body on fire.
That was when she began to wonder.
Three days earlier
"You're sure there's Ancient technology here?" Rodney asked for the fifth time.
Ronon just shrugged. "That's what they say."
"Oh, the mysterious 'they,'" Rodney snarked. "You talk to a couple of guys three sheets to the wind on some Pegasus hooch, and we're wasting our time stumbling around some planet that ..."
Teyla and John exchanged a look. No one had been more excited than Rodney when Ronon had returned from Belkan with news of a world that had technology of the Ancestors. The address was listed in the Atlantis database, but it included no details about the planet. Rodney had nagged Elizabeth until she agreed to put off the scheduled trading mission so they could check out this address instead. He'd been practically bouncing out of his shoes with excitement over having new toys to play with and had even been the first to prepare, waiting by the Stargate impatiently as the rest of the team assembled.
And then they had arrived on the planet to find ... nothing. No life signs, no energy readings, no technology, Ancient or otherwise.
And Rodney had not stopped complaining since.
John shook his head. "McKay," he began, turning to face the scientist, who had gone stock-still. "What is it?"
"Something ... I think something is blocking the equipment."
"Blocking?" Teyla said. "So there may be people ..."
She and Ronon immediately held their weapons at the ready, looking into the forest around them. The path they had been on seemed to circle back toward the Gate, and they were nearly back to where they had started. She mentally cursed herself for letting her guard down. The Ancients were not as perfect as she had believed in the past, and clearly their devices could make mistakes as well.
"There's some sort of feedback on here," Rodney said, lifting his scanner and turning left, then right. "I can't tell where it's coming from."
John lifted his gun, scanning the area. "Hello?" he yelled. "We know you're there. We've just come to trade. We're friends."
Nothing but silence answered him. He shrugged. "Worth a try. Let's come back with one of the Jumpers and see if anything shows up."
But it turned out that that wasn't necessary at all. Standing at the Stargate were two men and two women, apparently unarmed, dressed in dark green fatigues.
As they approached the Gate, one of the women stepped forward. "I represent the people of Forstan," she said. "I am Bea. You are welcome."
As they followed their guides to a hidden path, Teyla fought back uneasiness. There was definitely something strange about this place, but she didn't know what, exactly. John and Rodney seemed to notice nothing. A glance told her that Ronon was on guard, but she rarely saw him when he wasn't.
Rodney was quizzing their hosts about their technology. All four wore bracelets that somehow allowed them to avoid alerting the life signs detector and other scanners. And their city seemed to be hidden under a cloaking shield much like Atlantis.
"How does it work?" Rodney asked, as one of the men allowed him to examine his bracelet.
The man shrugged. "Only Kennon knows."
"Kennon? Who is that? Like ... your god?"
"He is the Wise-Elder, our leader," Bea explained. "He knows many things beyond our understanding. We only need to know that wearing them protects us."
"Uh-huh," John said. Teyla winced at the sarcasm behind it, though the four didn't seem to notice. In fact, nothing in their voices or expressions seemed to change at all regardless of what they were saying or doing. There was something almost empty about them. Teyla stifled the urge to shiver.
"Ancient design?" John asked in an undertone.
"I don't think so," Rodney said. "But I'd love to get it in my lab."
"Maybe this Kennon guy will let you at it," John said as their path widened and a large village opened in front of them. "Looks like we're about to find out."
Three of their guides headed back the way they had come as Bea led them into the village. Teyla stared. As far as she could see there were buildings made of stone and brick, and people were everywhere. They shopped and laughed and talked, shooting curious glances at their visitors. None seemed to have the blank facade of Bea and the others.
"Must be thousands," Ronon muttered. "I don't like it."
Teyla agreed. One part of her thrilled to see so many people living peacefully in one place. Another felt profoundly uneasy to be in a place that Rodney would call a "Wraith buffet." She looked to the sky and hoped there really was a cloak protecting this town. Perhaps, she thought, the presence of so many people was the reason for her nervous feeling.
Bea stopped at a large building and motioned them inside. Instead of the dim lamplight Teyla had expected, the room was bright, lights much like those on Atlantis built into its ceiling.
"Please, be welcome. Sit and rest," Bea told them, motioning toward some cushioned seats along the walls. "I must tell Kennon of your visit. He will wish to see you."
"And we will certainly wish to see him," Rodney said.
Teyla decided to take Bea's suggestion and have a seat. They had been walking for quite a time. She dug a bottle of water out of her bag and took a sip. Ronon and John followed her lead, but Rodney walked around the room, trying to get a good look at all the lights.
"They have power," he muttered. "It's similar to Ancient design ... but there's something different ..."
Finally, Rodney joined the rest of the team, munching on a Power Bar. "There's something weird about this place," he mumbled between bites. "All this technology, and we haven't heard of them before?"
"They're pretty hidden," Ronon said, leaning back. "Maybe they didn't want you to hear about them."
"They seem friendly enough," John said. "Teyla, what do you think?"
"I feel ... uneasy," she said. "I do not know why."
"Too many people," Ronon said.
"The people are fine," Rodney argued. "But those Stepford soldiers are creepy."
John nodded. "We'll keep an eye out. But these guys could be major allies."
Teyla capped her water. "They do seem to be advanced."
Rodney finished his Power Bar and shoved the wrapper in his bag. "I wonder --" He stopped as Bea returned to the room.
"Kennon would be pleased to meet you," she said.
Kennon lived in the largest building they had seen so far, a large main structure flanked by two smaller wings. Bea said the Wise-Elder's offices and audience chamber were in the main building. His living quarters took up one wing, and libraries and laboratories were in the other. The leader liked to personally oversee the advancements his scientists worked on. The whole building was surrounded by a walkway and gardens full of blooming flowers and trees. Teyla thought half of the population of New Athos could comfortably live in such a place.
They were quickly ushered into a large room at the back of the building, decorated with plush carpeting and detailed woven wall hangings. A line of large windows made up nearly the entire back wall, and the light shone directly on the visitors, throwing Kennon into shadow. Teyla was certain the effect was on purpose, so he could get a look at them before they could do likewise.
As they stepped forward, they got a closer look at the Wise-Elder. He was thin in body and face with silver hair and a trim beard and mustache to match. It appeared that he would be quite tall, but he was seated on a thick wooden chair -- almost what Teyla would call a throne -- covered with large red cushions. Rather than the fatigues or plain cotton clothing worn by everyone else, Kennon was dressed in a long, dark red robe.
He was flanked by two blank-faced men -- more of those "Stepford soldiers" -- wearing the dark green fatigues, standing slightly behind him. They carried no visible weapons, but clearly, they were intended as bodyguards for Forstan's leader. They must be very good, since nobody had asked the 'Lanteans to remove their weapons. In fact, nobody had taken a second look at them.
"It has been long since Forstan has had visitors," the Wise-Elder said, hopping up from his seat. His voice was warmer than Teyla had expected, and she allowed herself to relax just a notch. "I am Kennon. You are welcome."
"Ah ... thanks," John said. He introduced himself and the team before getting to the point. "We actually came here hoping to meet you. Ronon heard that you had some technology that we might be interested in trading for. Technology of the Ancients. The Ancestors."
"We possess much technology, Colonel Sheppard," Kennon said. "You might say we collect it. The artifacts of the Ancestors are not much use, though. They are powerless."
John and Rodney exchanged a look. "It's possible that we can make them work," Rodney said. "If we could see them?"
Kennon nodded slowly, and something passed over his face that made Teyla uneasy all over again. She wanted to yell at her teammates to run, but a moment later, the look was gone, if she had seen anything at all. Still, she would have to keep a close watch on this Kennon. Just in case.
"We have a few of them in the lab," Kennon said. He stepped toward the door, followed closely by his bodyguards. "This way." He motioned them to follow.
"So, they really have Ancient technology?" Elizabeth asked after they had returned from Forstan.
Forstan had, in fact, a number of Ancient devices, most of which Rodney had never seen before. A few of them immediately came to life as John entered the room. The rest only required a slight touch from him before they flickered on.
This time, Teyla knew she didn't imagine the look on Kennon's face. There was something he wanted desperately, and she had a feeling they weren't going to be happy when they found out what it was.
Kennon had immediately agreed to negotiations the following day. In fact, he had been eager to start right away but agreed to postpone them when John explained that Elizabeth had the final say in all negotiations.
"A roomful," Rodney said. "Not to mention a bunch of other technology we haven't seen before. I can't wait to get some of this in my lab."
"If they make a trade," Elizabeth reminded him.
Rodney scoffed. "They can't even turn the things on. There must be something they want in return that would be useful to them."
"Kennon seemed open to trade," John said, leaning back in his chair. "No sweat."
Teyla decided to speak up. It was possible that her uneasiness was all in her head, but she knew she hadn't imagined Kennon's desperation. "I do not like this," she said simply.
Elizabeth looked surprised. "Teyla?"
"I ... I just have a bad feeling," Teyla said, knowing how weak that sounded. "I do not trust Kennon. I believe there is something he wants of us, something ... he desires greatly."
"Then we'll have something to negotiate with," Rodney said impatiently.
Teyla almost growled at her inability to put into words the feeling of dread she had. She wondered if she should even bring up her concerns about the soldiers of Forstan and their very blank faces and personalities.
John saw the frustration on her face and leaned forward. "Look, we can't pass up this opportunity. But Teyla's right that there's something strange about that place. Even McKay commented on it ... before he fell into lust with a room full of shiny Ancient devices."
"I just meant --" Rodney started.
"We'll just have to be on guard," John said. "If he asks us for some nukes or our firstborn children or something, we're outta there."
Teyla nodded, but the knot in her stomach didn't go away.
"We offer you all of the technology of the Ancestors ... but one item," Kennon said, almost before the team was seated. They had been ushered into a library in Kennon's palace. The Wise-Elder alone represented his people and sat across from John, Teyla and Rodney. Ronon had refused a chair and leaned against the wall, eyeing the two bodyguards who stood in their usual position behind Kennon.
"All of it?" John glanced at Teyla. She shrugged. They had been prepared to argue this point with the Wise-Elder. Everyone involved knew Forstan had no use for the devices, yet basic negotiations almost never began with a realistic offer. Kennon either had little experience with negotiation or he wanted to waste little time getting to the point. Teyla suspected the latter.
"All but one," Kennon said, nodding.
"And in return?" Sheppard asked slowly.
"In return, we wish the use of one of your people," Kennon spoke firmly.
"The use?" Rodney asked. "What does that mean?"
"You said yesterday that some among your people are capable of using the Ancestors' devices," Kennon said. "We want someone here who has that ability."
"No deal," John said. "We don't use our people as bargaining chips. We are prepared to offer you several --"
"There are no other acceptable terms," Kennon interrupted. "We have one weapon of the Ancestors, and we need someone who can use it."
John froze. "A weapon?"
The Wise-Elder sighed, then nodded. "It is a large gun, a cannon of sorts. It is said to be capable of shooting down a Wraith hive ship in space, but we have never been able to test it."
Teyla could almost see John's mind working. "A cannon," he said. "We could offer you a lot in return for a weapon like that."
"No," Kennon said. "That is unacceptable."
John sighed. "Listen, Kennon --"
"At least let us look at it?" Rodney's question came out more like an order, but Kennon didn't seem to be offended.
"That could be arranged," the Kennon said. He pushed aside a panel that had blended with the top of the table, revealing several rows of buttons, and pressed one of them. A moment later, Bea came through the door. "Bea, please show our guests the Ancestors' weapon in the west warehouse."
As they all stood, Kennon spoke again. "Colonel Sheppard, if I might have a word alone before we join them?"
"Sure," John said. He nodded at Rodney and Ronon, who were already at the door. "I'll meet you in a few."
"I will wait for you outside," Teyla said immediately. She didn't like the idea of splitting up, but if they were to separate, she would rather not leave anyone alone.
"That's not really necessary." At her stubborn look, John smiled at the Wise-Elder and drew Teyla aside. "I think we can make this thing work; I just have to make nice with Kennon. We do have something we can offer them."
Teyla nodded. "The gene therapy."
"Exactly. Of course, I can't offer that without talking to Elizabeth," John glanced over his shoulder, then turned back. "Look, make sure McKay doesn't break anything, and once we've all seen the cool gun, we'll head back."
"I don't --"
"I'll see you in a few minutes," he said, practically shoving her out the door.
She nodded finally and followed her teammates. Bea waved them into a small car, the first they had seen on Forstan, and they headed through the city. It was just as large as Teyla had thought, and she exchanged a look with Ronon, who was looking a little cornered. He kept shifting in his seat, and his hand was resting on his holster.
Rodney, on the other hand, couldn't sit still for quite another reason. He kept trying to ask Bea questions about the Ancient weapon, but she claimed, in that same even tone, not to know anything.
It took them about fifteen minutes to get to the edge of the city, where a row of warehouses stood. The car came to a stop in front of one of the buildings. Teyla stepped out and scanned the area. There were far fewer people in this area, and she wondered what else the Forstan people were keeping in these buildings.
After everyone was out, the driver turned the car around and sped off.
"He will return with Wise-Elder Kennon and Colonel Sheppard," Bea said. "The weapon is this way."
She started to enter an access code at the doorway, when an explosion from the center of town shook the ground.
"Do you blame yourself?"
Teyla heard the question as though it came from a far-off place. She shook her head. "I am sorry?"
"I asked," Dr. Heightmeyer repeated patiently, "if you blame yourself for the colonel's death?"
"I ..." Teyla shrugged. "I could have tried harder to warn him. I could have stayed with him."
"You had a ... premonition?"
Teyla frowned. "I simply felt that something was not right." She pulled her knees up into the chair and wrapped her arms around them. "I still feel it."
"What is it like?" the doctor asked.
"It is hard to explain," she said. "It is as though I know something but have forgotten it. Something bad."
Heightmeyer nodded, though Teyla was pretty sure the doctor thought she was crazy.
"I dream of him," she blurted. She hadn't meant to say it, but little else was on her mind in the last few days. She had ceased grieving for John, even, because something in her said he was still alive, no matter how unbelievable it might sound to anyone else.
"That's only natural," Heightmeyer said. "Can you tell me about it?"
"He ... comes to my room in my dream. I open my eyes and he is next to me. He asks --" her voice cracked a bit, and she cleared her throat. "He asks when we are coming to rescue him."
"And what do you say?"
"I always say we are coming soon." She saw no reason to mention that after, she would scoot closer to him and rest her head on his chest, sighing as his arms went around her. It would only last a few minutes before his body would stiffen in pain and his screams would force her awake.
"You never tell him that he's gone."
"I do not feel that he is," Teyla pushed herself to her feet and started pacing. "I cannot explain it, doctor, but I feel that he is alive."
Dr. Heightmeyer nodded. "It's normal to feel that way, Teyla. I know they haven't recovered his body yet. When you lose someone, it's always hard to move on if you have no closure. That's why we have funeral services, so families can say goodbye to their loved ones."
Teyla huffed out a breath in frustration. "I have lost many people in my life," she said. "Most of them to the Wraith, and rarely to we see the bodies of the lost ones."
"OK, let's say the Colonel Sheppard is alive. Where is he?"
"And they're hurting him."
"I ..." Teyla trailed off, at a loss. "I do not know."
"Dr. Weir has assured me that the people of Forstan are clearing the building as fast as they can. Until they finish, there's no way to find the colonel's body or any of the others. So, will you try something for me?"
"What is it?"
"Next time you dream of Colonel Sheppard, and he asks you when you're coming for him ... just try to tell him the truth."
"You know, I don't want to seem impatient or anything, but --"
"You are dead," she said firmly, as though she believed it.
"I'm ... huh?"
"There was an explosion on Forstan, and you died. You are not really here," she said. "You are all in my mind."
"I don't feel dead," he said suspiciously. "I don't remember an explosion. Is this all part of the torture? What the hell are you saying?"
She closed her eyes; she didn't want to look at him when she spoke, even if he was all in her mind. "You stayed behind to speak with Kennon, and you asked to have another look at the Ancient technology that we would be trading for. Kennon was called away, and there was an accident in an adjacent lab. There was an explosion ... there was so much I never said, I should have told you."
He was silent for so long, Teyla wondered if he was gone for good. She opened her eyes to find him still there, still real. Staring at her.
"I'm really dead?"
"They say so," she said. "Rodney went all over the site with a life signs detector. They only found one scientist alive ... and he did not live long."
"I feel real," he said.
Teyla grasped his hand. "Yes. You do."
He held her hand tightly. "What would you have said, if I were still alive?"
"No, really. I mean, I'm dead and all. Might as well say it."
She huffed out a laugh. "Very well. I would have said that I care for you very much. You have been a friend to me, and to my people."
"For what it's worth, I kinda knew all that."
She smiled and moved closer to him. She was amazed that he was still there, but she supposed that only proved that his presence was only in her mind. "There is more," she said. "I ... you were always in my heart. I love ... loved you, amato. I wish I could have told you."
"Amato? What is that?"
"It is a word we use, an endearment, I suppose," she reached up and touched his face. "It means 'lover.'"
He scooted down so their faces were aligned. "I'm not so good with saying what's in my ... you know. But I've loved you as long as I can remember. And I wish I could have told you before it was too late."
She knew, she just knew that it was all in her head, but she couldn't help the way her heart sped up as he leaned in for a kiss. It was soft and sweet, like a pair of children with their first kiss, and she wanted it to last forever.
Just as he tilted his head to deepen the kiss, she felt his body shake. At the same time, she felt her body burn, in a mirror of his pain.
She woke with tears on her face.
Two days passed, and Teyla had no more dreams of John. Elizabeth had no word from Forstan, and she finally banished Teyla from her office after the sixth time she'd been in to ask if they had found John yet.
She found herself standing in the gym, bantos rods at her side. All the movements she had known and practiced for years were unable to calm her as they usually did. In a fit of temper, she threw the rods into the corner and stalked to the window seat. Even the view outside did little to comfort her. With a sigh, she sat, pulling her bag toward her.
"So, they have a shiny Ancient cannon, and I go to look at the junk we've already seen before?"
Teyla jerked her head up to where John was sitting across from her. "John?"
"Seriously. I was dying -- forgive the expression -- to see that cannon. And Kennon just happens to disappear right before the freak accident?"
Teyla wondered if she was sleeping in the gym. "I thought it was suspicious also, but we saw many bodies, John. Surely they would not kill their own people --"
"Just to get someone to fire their big cannon for them?"
Teyla started to tremble. "He would. Kennon would do it. What are they doing to you?"
"I don't know. I think I'm drugged. The only time my mind is clear is when I think about you." He scooted across the seat and grabbed her hand. "Teyla, amato, you've got to help me. I can't last --"
Teyla shook her head and pulled away from Ronon, who was gripping her shoulders.
"You were just sitting there, staring into space. I've been talking, and you didn't hear a word."
"I just ..."
He dropped onto the seat next to her, right where John had been.
"You all right?"
She shook her head. "No, Ronon, I am not all right. John is alive, and they are keeping him on Forstan. We have to help him."
Ronon froze. "How do you know?"
"I just ... I know it. Will you believe me?"
He stared at her for a moment. "I want to believe it, Teyla, but --"
"He is not dead. I feel it."
Ronon wasn't one to agonize over decision-making. "I'm in."
"So, you dreamed of Sheppard? Last night, I dreamed I was a mouse named Paco who sang Jimmy Buffett tunes with my all-female band at a dive in Miami," Rodney bustled around his lab, taking great and obvious care not to look right at either Teyla or Ronon.
Teyla, however, had already seen the red-rimmed eyes and dark circles that told her Rodney was missing John as much as anyone else, probably more.
"I have the ability to connect with the Wraith. Why not with Colonel Sheppard?"
"Because he's dead?"
"They are not just dreams, Rodney," she said firmly. Perhaps there was a small part of her who still doubted, but she refused to back down now. "The last one I had while I was awake. John asked me why he would put off seeing the cannon just to see 'the junk' we had already seen."
Rodney stopped. "Yeah, that is weird. But maybe he was doing it to be polite."
"Something else," Ronon said. "If they've got Sheppard, they probably took all the Ancient stuff out of the lab, too."
"Then they have everything they want, and we get nothing!" Rodney said. "Sheppard would never help them, though."
"I have thought about that," Teyla said quietly. "They are doing something to him. It is hurting him. And he said he believed that he was drugged."
"Brainwashing," Rodney muttered. "Trying to control his behavior. They're trying to make him into a Stepford soldier. Like Bea and the others."
"Could they do that?" Ronon asked.
"If they have enough time. Anyone can be broken," Rodney said. "We've got to get him out."
They decided to involve no one else.
In the event that the rescue went wrong -- or if Teyla was "off her nut," as Rodney put it -- they didn't want to cause a war between Atlantis and Forstan. And they weren't willing to take the chance that Elizabeth would approve a mission. If they'd had proof that John was alive, Teyla knew Elizabeth would back them all the way; but the strength of her dreams was insufficient evidence.
The reason Rodney and Ronon went along, Teyla decided, was because they both felt guilt in their teammate's death. And both wanted him back as much as she did; they were willing to take the chance that her dreams were true.
She hoped it wasn't all in her head.
They had few problems convincing Elizabeth to let them visit Belkan for a short stay. In fact, she thought it was a good idea for the three of them to get away for a day or two. The fact that she wouldn't have Teyla nagging her about John's body was a benefit for her.
They wasted little time, gathering a few things -- and hiding weapons wherever they could. They could hardly go off fully armed, but they managed to take two Earth handguns, Ronon's gun, Teyla's knife, a life-signs detector and however many knives Ronon had secreted on his person. Not really enough to take on an army of Kennon followers with advanced weapons, but Teyla hoped their plan would ensure as few casualties as possible, on either side.
As soon as the Gate closed behind them on Belkan, Rodney dialed into Forstan. The three exchanged a glance, and then they stepped through.
The forest was quiet, as it was on their first visit. Teyla knew a few people were patrolling the Stargate area, and she was only a little surprised to see two women step out from behind a bank of foliage.
Neither was familiar to her, so she stepped forward and introduced herself. "We lost our teammate here in the explosion, and we wish to ask Wise-Elder Kennon to allow us a small ceremony at the site."
One of the women pulled a small device from her belt and walked a short distance away. It must have been a communications device, because when she returned she nodded at the group. "The Wise-Elder will meet with you," she said flatly. "You are welcome."
Teyla didn't feel very welcome, but she nodded her thanks and followed the Forstanians to the city.
Part one of the mission was complete, but the most dangerous part lay ahead.
And then she would find out if she was crazy or not.
Kennon made them wait for an hour before they were brought to his audience chamber. He had clearly bought their story, since only his two usual bodyguards remained in the room with them.
"I am told you have need of a favor," the Wise-Elder said kindly.
"We have need," Teyla said, "of information."
She turned to Ronon and gave a tiny nod. Immediately, he yanked out his gun and fired at one of the guards.
"Crap," Rodney said.
"As you see," Kennon said, nodding at his guards. "I am not a fool. We allow you to keep your weapons because they will not work in this building."
The guards stepped forward, holding guns of their own, and Teyla saw Ronon shrug. They hadn't wanted anyone to be killed, but Kennon was forcing their hand. The guards were half a pace away when one of them dropped, Ronon's throwing knife buried in his chest. Teyla scooped up his weapon and aimed it at Kennon, frowning at its lack of a normal trigger, while Ronon dealt with the second guard.
It didn't take long.
Rodney was pacing the room with the life-signs detector out. "There's no way," he said. "Whatever is blocking Ronon's gun is messing with this, too."
"Well, then," Teyla said calmly, "Kennon will have to tell us where Colonel Sheppard is."
Kennon sighed. "Colonel Sheppard is dead," he said. "Along with dozens of my best scientists."
"No," Teyla said. She walked forward and aimed the gun right at his head.
He laughed. "You have no idea how to use that."
"But I know how to use this," Ronon said, drawing another knife.
"I don't know what you wish me to say," Kennon said, eyeing the knife warily. "I can't bring someone back from the dead."
Teyla reached over and hunted around the arm rests of his throne, nodding when she found the hidden panel. "Call another guard," she said.
Kennon hesitated until Ronon stepped closer. He pressed a button, and a moment later, Bea stepped through the door, followed by four male guards. She reached for the gun at her side before Ronon stepped behind Kennon, the knife at his throat.
"No!" she said, stepping closer. She looked frightened. It was the most emotion Teyla had seen on her face.
"Drop it," Ronon ordered, and Bea obeyed immediately.
"Everyone else out," Teyla said, and Bea waved the other four away.
As soon as they were gone, Teyla spoke again. "We want you to take us to Colonel Sheppard. We have no wish to injure your leader, but we will do what it takes to get him back."
"I ..." Bea looked confused, shaking her head. "We need him."
"Bea!" Kennon barked. "Say nothing to them."
"But Wise-Elder --"
"What do you need that cannon for, anyway?" Rodney interrupted. "You've got a cloak that hides this whole place."
Kennon glared at him, refusing to speak.
"I don't care," Ronon said. Teyla knew that Bea's halfhearted confirmation that John was alive was stirring his anger. She knew, because the same thing was happening to her. She bit back the anger and looked at Bea.
"The shield fails," she said. "John Sheppard will help us fight the Wraith when it is gone."
"Sheppard isn't helping you," Rodney said. "We probably could have helped you if you hadn't ... Where are you keeping him?"
"Bea," Kennon warned, and she looked confused.
Ronon growled and dug the knife into Kennon's neck, drawing blood.
"I will tell you," she said. "He is below us, receiving the training. There is a door behind that tapestry."
Rodney and Teyla ran to the side wall and yanked down the giant tapestry.
"It is here," Teyla breathed. "Ronon, it is here."
"Are there any guards?" she asked.
Bea shook her head. "Only when it is time for the training."
Rodney pulled the door open and looked down at darkened steps. He dug around in his bag for a moment and brought out a flashlight.
"I'll stay here," the Satedan said with a grim smile. He tightened his grip on Kennon, who whimpered a little. "Go get Sheppard."
Teyla nodded, and she took the flashlight from Rodney and stepped through the door. The flashlight was unnecessary, though, because as soon as her foot touched the steps, ceiling lights came to life and illuminated the stairway and the hall below.
She readied her knife just in case, and nearly ran down the steps. Before her was a small hall with four doors, two on each side. Each door had a window built into it. Rodney stepped up next to her, and by silent agreement, they looked in the first window together. It was a small room, a jail cell, really, with a cot along one wall. Teyla shuddered as she saw the bindings hanging from the sides of the small bed. The room was empty.
They looked in the next room, and Teyla's heart began to beat faster. Strapped to the cot was a man with dark hair and black clothing. It had to be John, but his head was turned toward the wall. She pulled at the door, but it was locked. Growling in frustration, she yanked out her gun and aimed it at the doorknob.
"Wait!" Rodney said. "That might not work. And even if it does, I'd rather not be wounded by a ricochet. Maybe we should just try the key?" He pointed at a silver key hanging on a peg nearby.
Teyla let out a short laugh. "You are a genius, Rodney," she said.
"Why don't more people realize that?" he wondered as he grabbed the key and unlocked the door.
Teyla hesitated before stepping through the door. What if it wasn't him? After all this, what if John was really dead? She shook her head and walked to the cot. She leaned down slightly and tilted his head toward them.
"Unbelievable," Rodney said. "He is alive."
He went to work, getting the bindings off of John. "Is he all right?" he asked.
Teyla checked his pulse and pulled up his eyelids. "I think he is drugged, but he is definitely alive. I believe we can get him up the stairs, but we will need Ronon to get him to the Gate."
They made an odd procession, walking through town. Bea led the way, followed by Ronon with John over his shoulder. Rodney came next, herding Wise-Elder Kennon ahead of him with a knife to his throat. Teyla brought up the rear, holding the gun she'd taken from the dead guard. She might not know how to use it, but none of the Forstanians knew that.
Teyla wasn't looking forward to explaining any of this to Elizabeth, but the truth was, she didn't care.
They had John back, and that was all that mattered.
Something nagged at Teyla's senses, and she awakened from her doze at John's bedside to find him staring at her.
"Hey," he croaked.
She jumped up and poured him a small drink of water.
He took a couple of sips and nodded at her. "Thanks."
"How are you feeling?"
"I feel a little ... weird. Like I'm not all here or something."
She nodded. The doctor said he would be fine once the drugs cleared his system, but she'd still felt the need to be in the infirmary with him in case he woke up. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say, but she needed to know if he had experienced the dreams as well.
"Elizabeth says you guys thought I was dead. But you dreamed that I was alive?"
Teyla forced a smile. Clearly he remembered nothing of their conversations. Or perhaps they really had been all in her head. "It is strange, I know, but we were sure Kennon had kidnapped you."
"Because you dreamed it?"
She shrugged. "Something like that."
"Hmm. Thanks ... you know, for not leaving me there. I don't remember what they did to me, but I'm pretty sure I would've ended up like one of those zombies he had working for him."
"You are welcome," she said.
"So, what is Elizabeth doing about Kennon?"
"Well, since the last thing he said to us was a threat to find and kill all of us, she has blocked that address from being dialed. We can only hope not to run into any of them again."
"More enemies, yay." John sighed, followed by a huge yawn.
Teyla smiled, and allowed herself to brush his forehead with her fingers. His eyes were heavy, and he looked nearly asleep already. "I will let you get some more sleep. Good night, John."
"'Night, amato," he mumbled, then looked confused. "What ... I don't know what I just said. It was like another language. You think that's something I learned on Forstan?"
"I do not know," Teyla said, smiling. "Perhaps you will remember one day."
She turned, heart lighter, and left the infirmary.