Disclaimer – I own none of the Stargate franchise.
A/N – I'm afraid I've had to put all of my stories on hiatus for now because my laptop has died on me, taking all of my fanfiction with it. Also, I only have access to a computer for an hour or so every day. :-( Anyway, I had the idea for this story before series five started, but purposefully left off starting it because I want it to be as in canon as possible. But it's not – it's canon up until halfway through Search and Rescue, and then veers wildly from there. I'm hoping to have the second chapter up tomorrow.
There are general spoilers for series four and five in this story, and specifically for Quarantine and Sateda in this one.
Chapter One – The Deal
John was reading in bed when his door chimes sounded. He quickly set aside War and Peace, frowning at the interruption. It was very, very late – which meant this probably wasn't good. He made his way across the room and swiped open the doors. They parted to reveal Teyla.
John's immediate reaction was to panic. "Teyla – are you okay? Is the baby coming? Are you – "
"John, I am fine," she said quickly, cutting him off. John shut up and just looked at her bemusedly, wondering what was going on. Teyla shifted her weight uncomfortably and ran a hand over her expanded stomach. "I just…may I come in?"
John nodded and stepped back to let her into his quarters. Her eyes swept over his messy bed sheets and looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry, were you asleep?"
"No, I was just reading," John said. He gestured towards the couch and then followed Teyla over there. "What's up?"
Teyla lowered herself onto the seat and then sat silently for a few moments, staring at her hands. John sat down on his desk chair and watched her gather her thoughts, feeling increasingly more worried that something really was wrong. It wasn't often that Teyla Emmagen was at a loss for words.
Eventually, she spoke. "I have been thinking about what you said today." She looked over at him. "About my child always having a home on Atlantis."
John nodded silently, unsure of where she was going.
Teyla looked back down at her hands. "It meant a lot that you would say such a thing," she said. "I have been… worried, recently, about the fate of my son. Now that my people are… if something were to happen to me, he would be alone."
John shook his head and opened his mouth to refute her statement, but she looked back at him and gave him a small smile before he could. "I know that is not true," she said. "I know that you, and Ronon and Rodney, and many others would care for him. But I…"
Her voice trailed off and she went back to looking at her hands again. John remained silent; he could tell that Teyla was working up to something, and sure enough after a few moments she looked at him again.
"It is customary among my people for a child to have a Guardian," she told him. "Charin was mine. After my parents were killed, she cared for me as if I were her own." She paused. "I would like for you to be my son's."
For a moment, John was sure he had misheard her. "I… what?"
Teyla turned more towards him on the sofa and stared at him resolutely. Her hands were now completely still. "I would like to name you my son's Guardian," she repeated. "It means that if anything were to happen to me, he would be in your care."
John still wasn't following. "Like a godfather?" He asked.
Teyla looked thoughtful for a moment. "A little," she said. "It is more… do godparents care for the child if its parents are gone?"
"Well… no. Yes. Sometimes," babbled John. The full weight of what Teyla was asking him to do started to sink in, and he swallowed. "It's usually family…" He said in a very quiet voice.
Teyla gave him a small smile. "You are family, John," she said gently.
John's eyes widened and he had to look away from the intensity, the sincerity in her eyes. He remembered another conversation with her, over a year ago, when he had told her that she was his family and that he would do anything for her. He had meant it. He had also meant what he'd said about her child when they'd been stuck in McKay's lab earlier that day. So why was he hesitating now?
Because he was scared. John knew nothing – nothing – about babies. Or children. Or… basically anything in the area of infants. He would be a terrible Guardian.
John looked back at Teyla's expectant face and leant forward in his chair, pressing his hands together and rubbing his palms together slowly. "Listen Teyla… are you sure you… want me to do this?" He asked her.
Teyla didn't look surprised at the question, and she didn't hesitate in her answer. "Yes."
John gave her a pained look. "Why?"
Teyla smiled at that, obviously amused by his incredulity. John just watched her silently, waiting for her to answer. He really truly didn't understand her reasoning.
"As I said John, you are family," she said. "You have been there for me for four years now, and there is no one I trust more to look after my child if I am unable to do so."
John had started shaking his head halfway through her speech, surprised at the words coming out of her mouth, and Teyla noticed and sat back, looking a little crestfallen. "But a Guardian must be willing," she said. "And if you do not want to –"
"No, it's not that I –" John began. He didn't want to hurt Teyla's feelings… god, she paying him quite possibly the biggest honour she could here, and he was acting like a tool. But still… he swallowed. "Teyla, I don't know the first thing about raising a child," he said.
Teyla looked at him seriously again. "Neither do I," she said quietly.
"Everyone tells me that it comes naturally, and that I will be a wonderful mother," she said. "But the truth is I am terrified. And I believe I always will be."
Teyla finally looked away from John, down at her hands again, and he stared at the top of her head, his mind racing. He hated to see Teyla so on edge, and it seemed to be her permanent state of being at the moment. He wasn't exactly helping.
"Alright," he said.
Teyla looked up at him, and John nodded. "Alright, I'll do it," he told her. "If you really want me to… then yeah. I'd be honoured."
Teyla smiled – a beautiful, big smile that lit up her entire face – and John smiled back, feeling that it was worth all the discomfort in the world to have her smile like that. And he did feel uncomfortable – no matter what Teyla said, he couldn't help but feel she was making a mistake in choosing him.
"Just do me a favour," he said.
"Don't make me have to take up my duties, okay?"
Teyla smiled again and nodded. "I have no intention of it," she said.
John nodded. "Okay then."
Teyla stood up – well, started to anyway, and then accepted John's hand to help her up out of her seat. His couch was pretty low. She gave him another smile as she let go of his hand and headed towards the door – John hadn't seen her smile so much since her people went missing, and he felt even better about agreeing with each new grin she gave him.
Teyla turned to face John again when she reached his door and for a moment he thought she was going to hug him again, but instead she placed her hands on his shoulders and lowered her head. He touched his forehead to hers obediently, thinking dryly that it was only right to seal an Athosian deal with an Athosian handshake.
Teyla gave him another smile as she stepped back. "Good night John," she said. John nodded and she opened the door behind her.
"Teyla – "
Teyla turned in the corridor and looked back at John. He stepped into the doorway, closer to her.
"You will, you know," he said. "Be a wonderful mother. You will."
Teyla didn't smile this time, but the appreciation and the trust emanating from her eyes was enough to tell John that she believed him. Or believed that he believed it. And, somehow, that look in her eyes made him feel even lighter than her smiles had done.
"Thank you, John," she said after a moment.
John nodded. "Sleep well, Teyla," he said. He stepped back into his room and let the door close, and then stood stock-still, straining to hear the sound of Teyla's footsteps moving away from him.
John turned round and stared idly round his quarters. The echoes of the conversation he had just had seemed to be bouncing off the walls and into his brain.
He had just agreed to be her baby's Guardian. Again – woah.
John looked at the book lying open on his bed and smiled ruefully. He was going to have to read a lot of War and Peace before he fell asleep tonight.