Let me apologize (again). I did not realize it had been three months since the last chapter. I had some serious RL issues that I think have calmed down at least enough to finish this. I could only get it to one beta in time to post today which was my abosolute personal deadline. Hope it is okay. A bantos fight upon request, some Sheyla for those that like it....Thank you for waiting, for your feedback and for well your patience and kindness.
Weir had briefed them all. The story was that Sheppard had been injured and had lost his memory. Still no word on him being Armentarius, but the hope was that, when he returned to Atlantis, it would help him get his memory back and he could go back to being Lt. Col Sheppard--who happened to be king of some nice resort world. She was not sure if it would work. A lot depended on Sheppard and whether he would follow the advice of O'Neill and Woolsey and reveal little. She sighed as she stood and waited for the gate to finish its sequence. She missed the simplicity of fighting for their lives compared to fighting for their lives on top of all the levels that Sheppard's discovery had brought. She hoped it was all worth it in the end.
O'Neill passed through followed by Ronon, Teyla, Samsus, and McKay holding some sort of case. The scientist was grinning big, so she figured he had something new to explore. Weir was glad she had come a couple of days ahead to make sure everything was in order and to prep Atlantis and its people. Thankfully, La Pierre had left as had Shen. She had not heard anything back from the IOA but she knew Woolsey had been in contact with them, so perhaps they were appeased for now.
Sheppard finally stepped through. She glanced to the right and left and saw a few mouths open but the crew was disciplined enough to not make a sound. She could have understood it if they had though, and she did not blame anyone in the gate room for gawking. Sheppard strode through the gate looking as he had when she had first seen him as king—beautiful and majestic. He wore the usual simple black pants and boots and her favorite shirt--the dark green one with brown-copper embroidery on the cuff and collar that stood crisply under his neck. He had a dark cloak and, while it was not exactly a king's robe, it had the same effect. He wore the small crown and she grinned as the back of his hair stuck up as it always did.
Sheppard looked at her and smiled as he nodded slightly. He then looked all around. It's like it belongs to him, she thought.
"Dr. Weir. Thank you for having me."
"You're very welcome. It is your home as well, after all."
Sheppard looked around. She saw him close his eyes for a moment and he grinned slightly just before he opened his eyes and looked at her. "Yes, I suppose you're right. Atlantis is pleased that I have returned."
She raised her eyebrows. He had never really spoken openly about his connection to Atlantis but it did not surprise her.
"Your old room is ready and has not been touched. Probably not what you're used to..."
He smiled at her. "It's okay. I'm sure it's fine. Samsus will be close by?"
"Yes just down the hall. Do you remember where to go?"
Sheppard looked down toward the hall. Not really, but he would figure it out. "Yes, I think I do. I will see you later then?"
She nodded at him and he turned to leave. Samsus followed behind him as well as an attendant. Weir looked at O'Neill. "That was weird. I really hope this works."
"Samsus knows what he's doing. Or at least he acts like he does."
Weir laughed. "Well, maybe more so than the rest of us."
Sheppard passed through the halls and smiled at those he passed. He touched their minds briefly and felt as if he should know them but did not. As he passed one doorway, he stopped and stared at the man Robert standing next to a woman for a moment Clara, then turned and left. The man watched Sheppard leave. His friend looked at him. "What was that about?" she asked. He watched the king leave, then attempted to shake off the cold left in his spine. "I don't know."
Sheppard turned to Samsus as they continued down the hallway. "That man must leave Atlantis." Samsus turned back briefly and then realized about whom Sheppard was speaking.
"The one in the doorway? Why, my lord?"
"He has been attempting to gather information about me for La Pierre or perhaps someone else La Pierre works for, but I am sure it is him. His name is Robert."
"What information has he gathered?"
Sheppard stopped in front of a door. It felt familiar to him and he stepped forward as it opened for him. He turned to Samsus. "He knows there is more to my heritage, but has not been able to gather more information. Atlantis has made it difficult for him."
"I will discuss it with Dr. Weir."
"Thank you. I believe this is my quarters?"
Samsus nodded and Sheppard began looking around. He grabbed a golf club and held it up looking at it curiously for a moment. He looked at Samsus, who shrugged.
Sheppard then walked over to a picture of a young boy with an older man. It had to be him as a child, but it was a vague whisper. He sat down finally on the bed and sighed. "How is coming here going to help me with my memory, Samsus?"
Samsus sat down next to Sheppard. "The familiarity of a place may help you, and Atlantis herself may help you if you allow yourself to reach out to her."
I hope so, Sheppard thought to himself.
Sheppard woke with a start. He looked around for a moment, disoriented, until he felt the familiar presence of Atlantis. He sat up and got dressed. Now was as good a time as any, he figured. He walked down the empty halls to where Atlantis called him. He did not need any device to connect to her, but the chair of the Ancients would provide him a clear connection and perhaps he would learn a great deal of the history of this city that may even include his own. It did not take long for him to find it and he sat down. The chair lit up quickly and he smiled as the energy of Atlantis flowed through him. He asked her to ensure they would not be disturbed, and she complied.
Instinctively, he ran a diagnostic on the city. Sheppard saw numerous areas that had not been opened, but he asked for them to remain hidden or closed for now. He needed to gauge what the rest of the expedition intended before he allowed them to see all of Atlantis' secrets. He made quick corrections in the power distribution to the shield...just in case. The Wraith, or perhaps even La Pierre's people, would come to Atlantis, and defenses needed to be at maximum.
He finally relaxed and asked to see a history of Evander up until his own arrival. He did not know how long it had been but he saw himself step toward the gate with Samsus on their way back to Ilium and then finally back again just yesterday. He opened his eyes and squinted. The lights turned down even further in response to his thoughts. He looked around and realized it had been some time since he had entered the room. He sensed Samsus calling for him…not quite frantic, but concerned. Sheppard smiled. I will see you soon Samsus. He felt the old man reply affirmatively and with relief. Sheppard left the chair room and thought nothing of having his mind connected to Atlantis as she opened doors before he arrived--knowing where he was going. He was unaware of the stares as people watched Atlantis openly work in sync with him. Sheppard was different. Everyone in the expedition knew he had the gene, but he had seemed embarrassed at times to possess it. Now it was not even a thought.
"Hi, John," the king heard a familiar voice call out to him. He turned and smiled as McKay ran toward him. "Hey, we've been looking for you."
"I'm sorry, Dr. McKay, I was busy." Sheppard shifted as the doctor's face frowned slightly at the formal reply. He knew it had been hardest on what McKay had called his team. Although they had begun to feel familiar to him, he felt the strongest connection to Teyla. McKay recovered quickly and smiled. "That's okay. Would you like to join me for breakfast?"
Sheppard nodded. "Of course. That would be great. I am hungry." Sheppard headed toward the dining hall. McKay grabbed his arm.
"Are you remembering stuff? I mean…yesterday you didn't know where to go…"
Sheppard stopped and thought for a moment. "Actually, no. I connected to the chair this morning. That is where I was all this time. I have the schematic of Atlantis."
"Oh," McKay said, disappointed. He then brightened as he glanced up at Sheppard. "What did you do? Did you find anything out? Do…anything?"
"I did see the history of the city in great detail and diverted more power to the shields."
McKay stopped. "How? How did you do this? We couldn't do that without draining power from the critical systems."
Sheppard shrugged. "I…well, it would be easier to show you."
"What…oh yeah right. Show away!"
Sheppard shared his thoughts with McKay, who had closed his eyes. He opened them after Sheppard was done. "Wow, cool! I can't wait to tell Zelenka. Maybe there is more you can do?"
Sheppard laughed slightly. He could like this McKay, even though the man talked nonstop. "Of course, Dr. McKay, maybe after breakfast and after I have an exercise fight of some sort with Teyla. She mentioned….bantos sticks?"
McKay smiled. "Yeah, that's right. Should be fun for you. Did the doc clear you to spar?"
Sheppard looked at McKay confused. "Why would I need him to clear me? I can decide whether I am well enough."
McKay laughed out loud then restrained himself when he saw that Sheppard was serious. This made him want to laugh even more.
"No, of course not…you should have fun."
"Are you sure you are well enough, John?"
Sheppard looked at the two sticks in his hand. He was stiff but virtually pain free except for twinges around his midsection. Even his arm felt better.
"Sure. I mean unless you really plan to lay it on."
Teyla laughed. She so badly wanted John Sheppard to return, especially when King Sheppard talked like her old friend.
She raised her eyebrows. "We shall see."
She got into a fighting position and he mirrored her. She attacked, lightly at first, and he easily parried. She continued to gently press him, first aiming low then high then with a combination that he would likely anticipate, which he did. He grinned and they warmed up to an easy rhythm of testing boundaries and counter attacking. "You do seem to remember how to fight, John."
He only smiled again. It felt good to be active. He attacked a little more forcefully and she countered easily. She was surprised at his agility. Little of the stiffness in him remained so she attacked more forcefully. He sidestepped her, then swung around and hit her in the back of her leg; but it was just a tap.
She looked at him, surprised. She focused more intently on the task at hand and struck out in quick succession, pushing him back; but he countered her easily and she stepped back to catch her breath. She said nothing as she attacked more forcefully. He looked surprised for a moment, and then smiled as he caught her in the middle of slashes from above and from below. He tapped her again on the backside, but continued on this time without stopping. She parried and fell back against the wall. She caught him on the wrist but it did not slow him.
She jumped away to his left side and he easily followed her. She was now getting out of breath, and noticed he too was sweating slightly but did not seem tired. He struck out with his left arm then and she caught it just in time. As he came down with his right she was able to swing up and strike him on his exposed side. He grunted as he fell down. She gasped and went to his side. He was holding his ribs.
Sheppard grimaced. He did not expect the strike to feel as sharp as it did and he struggled briefly to catch his breath. "John, are you all right?" Teyla said, kneeling next to him. She grabbed his hands and pulled them away to check him. "I am fine Teyla," he assured her hoarsely. "Just smarts and caught me off guard. Really, I am okay."
She helped him up. "You should go to Dr. Beckett." He turned to face her. She was close to him and he was only inches from her face.
"I'm fine Teyla, really."
She looked at him closely, then pulled away as he stood up straighter. "I don't care. You will go see Dr. Beckett."
He looked her with a crooked grin. "You can't resist me, can you Teyla, especially since I beat you."
She did not look at him as she grabbed his arm to urge him through the door. "I do not believe that you beat me. It was not I, after all, that was on the floor."
He shrugged. "That would have been ungentlemanly of me."
She laughed quietly. How typical. Ronon spoke similarly when she beat him. She and Sheppard were near Beckett's office when she realized he was not bragging. She stopped suddenly and he grunted as he bumped into her. "You could predict my every move couldn't you?"
He looked at her surprised. "Of course, Teyla. Was I not supposed to do that?"
She did not know how to answer that. "Well, I could see how this would be an advantage. You just have an unusual ability."
"I apologize. I did not think to not read your thoughts."
"Well, there is one thought I was able to keep hidden."
He laughed. "Yeah, I actually did not catch that one."
"Catch which one?" a voice asked from behind them. Sheppard and Teyla turned.
"Nothing really, doctor," Sheppard said quickly, "Teyla insisted that I come see you."
Teyla rolled her eyes. "I thought it best given what has happened. I hit him in the rib area with the bantos stick."
"I am fine."
Carson shook his head but said nothing as he checked Sheppard over quickly and then guided him toward the scanner. Sheppard acquiesced, sighing. Finally, Carson let him up. "You're fine."
"As I said."
"Don't get smart with me, Colonel Sheppard," Carson scolded. "You should not have been fighting."
Sheppard stood up. "We were not fighting. It was just light exercise. I missed my block and if she had used full force I would have probably been injured."
Carson shook his head. "Go on, get out of here, Your Majesty."
Sheppard smiled at Teyla and they walked toward the door. Sheppard was just about through the threshold when he turned around. "And I was not showing off to Teyla."
Teyla suppressed a laugh as Beckett's mouth dropped open. She turned to Sheppard. "What now?"
"I don't know, Teyla. Don't think Dr. Beckett would tolerate me getting hurt again. I am supposed to meet with Samsus later today."
"Have you had any luck recovering your memory?" Teyla asked hopefully.
Sheppard's face changed. "Yes and no. I remember my connection to Atlantis and everything seems more familiar; but it's like I just can't put the last puzzle piece together."
They walked toward Teyla's room. "I am trying to remember, Teyla, because I don't want to lose you. I am not sure whether remembering Col. Sheppard is going to help me defeat the Wraith, but having you as a part of my life will make what is to come bearable and give me hope that it's all worth it." She looked at him with tearful eyes. He was doing this all for her?
She raised her hand to his cheek. "I know that you have endured much, John, and will endure more. I do very much want to be by your side." She smiled at him and walked into her room leaving him there. He grinned slightly then turned and walked toward his own room where Samsus would be waiting.
"They aren't too happy," Woolsey said quietly.
Weir frowned as she looked at O'Neill. "I thought you smoothed it over," O'Neill said in response.
"I thought I had as well, but La Pierre managed to play into their fears. They want to send another delegation to Atlantis to talk to him."
"He is not going to like that."
"No but they will be here in the next few hours."
"That quick?" Weir asked. "He and Samsus were going to continue their work."
Woolsey sighed. "I urged them to wait, but…"
O'Neill turned and looked at Woolsey hard. "But what, Richard."
"I don't know. I just have a funny feeling. They told me to make sure he was available to greet them. I don't like it."
O'Neill said nothing. Maybe there would a reckoning for all of them. O'Neill now knew that the IOA was going to try to capture Sheppard and take him back. He had worked too long in the field to not trust his gut--and Woolsey's unease just added to his own.
"What should we do, General?" Weir asked, looking concerned.
O'Neill looked at her squarely. "I don't know yet. I need to talk to Steven, Lorne, and the rest. Keep this to yourself for now."
She nodded and O'Neill left her with Woolsey.
"I'm sorry I couldn't do more. La Pierre had a head start on me. Shen tried to help but there was only so much she could do without jeopardizing her own position and we might need her in the future."
Weir stared out toward the control room, hoping that this new situation would turn out all right. She needed to talk to O'Neill again, but trusted him to inform her when he had figured out what he was going to do.
Sheppard walked next to Teyla and behind Samsus and McKay. Ronon followed behind all of them. "Where are we going, John?"
Sheppard shrugged slightly. "Samsus said there is a room he wanted to show me. We made a little progress, but he thinks he knows what the last puzzle piece might be."
Teyla had been down this hallway before several times, but she was not sure exactly where they were going. It looked as if they were heading toward the less explored part of the city. She bumped into Sheppard when the king stopped suddenly. She followed his gaze toward an instrument panel that she was familiar with. McKay stopped talking when he realized Samsus had stopped as well. McKay looked toward where Sheppard was standing and realized what the colonel was looking at.
"What is this?" Sheppard said, almost annoyed. McKay was going to answer when he realized that Sheppard had not asked them but Atlantis. Sheppard turned and looked at McKay directly. "Why did you attempt this, Dr. McKay, to achieve the powers of those who have ascended or to ascend yourself?"
"What? It was an accident. We…we didn't know what it was. It nearly killed me. Don't you remember?"
Sheppard looked almost angry as he approached McKay. "This is an abomination! Meant to cheat the natural process. Meant to help those who do not have the courage to face the Wraithbut instead to flee!"
McKay looked taken aback. "John. I…it is dangerous…it was an accident. I did not know…"
Sheppard looked at everyone else then back at McKay. His face softened and he ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry, Rodney. I did not mean to accuse you of anything. I did not understand what you meant to do, but this…this contraption…was a way to abandon the mess that the Ancients created."
"How do you know that?" Ronon asked.
Sheppard looked at the Satedan distractedly. "Atlantis shared this with me. This machine could do serious damage. It almost killed Dr. McKay and should be dismantled completely. It was only abandoned in haste."
McKay looked at the machine. It would be hard to get rid of any Ancient device but he had been considering asking Weir about putting it under lock and key. Its power source had already been disassembled.
"We should continue, sire," Samsus interjected. He did not want Sheppard to be further distracted but, apparently, Atlantis had been anxious to share more of her secrets with him.
Sheppard nodded and they continued walking.
A few hallways further, Samsus stopped in front of a door. Ronon and McKay looked at each other and Teyla held her breath. "We are here, my lord," Samsus said, quietly waving Sheppard through.
The room seemed familiar and Sheppard felt an unease deep inside of him. He saw broken glass and a panel that had been broken. This is an older part of the city, he thought as he walked through the next room. It had a damp feel to it. He saw more glass strewn on the floor, only haphazardly swept aside, but little had been done to clean the room. Sheppard turned to his left and saw a large glass with what looked like bullet holes. He was about to look away when he thought he saw something. He looked back toward the entrance. Everyone was still back there--silently watching him.
Sheppard frowned as he walked back toward the glass. What was it?…a tank of some sort. It was large. He reached out his hand and touched the glass. He immediately saw a flash of two men within reaching out to him as water filled the tank. Sheppard pulled his hand back as though he had been electrocuted and he stumbled backwards, nearly falling. He stood facing the large, bullet-ridden panel. His voice was tight. "Why did you bring me here, Samsus?"
Samsus stepped forward a few steps beyond the others. "I wanted you to witness your latest failure first hand."
Teyla watched Sheppard slowly turn his head around and, at the same time, she sensed McKay take a step back. Sheppard's eyes were burning with anger. "What did you say?" Sheppard growled as he slowly turned the rest of his body in line with his head.
Teyla then found herself stepping back even with McKay as Samsus stepped forward toward Sheppard. "I said that I wanted you to witness where your latest failure had occurred." Teyla saw Sheppard's hands roll into fists and anyone but Samsus would have withered under that glare.
"You have…no right to speak to me…in that manner…Counselor." Sheppard said angrily.
"What will you do, my lord? Kill me? I know better than that. Yet you must accept your failure here…and other failures elsewhere."
Sheppard took two strides forward until he was towering over the older man. Who are you to speak to me about failure, old man? How do you know anything about my own failures?
More than you, apparently! I remember now what happened after you fought Erebus and we nearly lost you. I remember that you let yourself go….you let John Sheppard go because you did not trust him to not fail again. You lost yourself; it had nothing to do with your physical injuries.
That cannot be true. Sheppard replied coldly.
But Samsus sensed hesitation and the vulnerability through the hardness. You know it to be true, my lord. Search your mind. Two men died here and you could not save them, like you could not save Lt Ford and the others who have given their lives here and back on your home world of Earth.
It…cannot…be true. This time the hesitation was not hidden.
Teyla watched the silent conversation between the mentor and his protégé. She could sense that they were speaking even though their mouths did not move. It lasted just a few moments and then Sheppard stepped back with a look of surprise.
Sheppard wheeled around and looked back at the glass. His eyes were wide as he saw those two men again trapped behind the glass. He clutched his head and groaned as the memories flooded in. He fell to his knees, not knowing if he should resist or allow it to happen; but it was painful. Why did everything always have to be painful? Yet it was not physical pain, exactly, other than a headache. He felt the pain more in his chest and throat…the pain of grief. He growled angrily. He had no room for grief!
Teyla watched again as Sheppard seemed to slowly melt until he lay supine on the floor. Samsus looked back at them and held up a hand to keep them in place as he went quickly to Sheppard's side. The old man placed a hand on Sheppard's heart. He felt it beat steadily. The king's eyes were open but distant. Samsus reached out to Sheppard's mind.
My lord. Open your mind to these memories. You have come too far, John, to give up now. Let me help you.
Sheppard had closed him off and Samsus suddenly felt panicked. Had this backfired? Samsus searched for a way to reach Sheppard--but it was another presence he felt.
Teyla watched in amazement as a glowing figure approached Sheppard and Samsus. She watched as Samsus looked up at the figure. Again, there were no words, but she knew that Samsus was speaking to him.
You must help him, great King Evander. You must help him be who you meant for him to be.
I cannot interfere, Samsus. He must do this on his own.
You have already interfered--making him who he is by creating within his genetic make-up the ability to do what he can! You have interfered from the time you intended someone to carry on what you did not finish! You have done this. Now, only you can make it right.
Evander put a hand on Samsus' shoulder. I had not thought it would take so much...had not meant for him to suffer the way he has. It troubled me to see him at the hands of Erebus' worshipers and be unable to do anything. It troubled me when he had to fight my own enemy, Erebus.
Samsus stood. He is the one that will free this universe of the scourge of the Wraith. He will unite two galaxies…but it was not Armentarius alone that defeated Erebus--it was John Sheppard with him. That is what makes him stronger…even stronger than you.
Evander smiled. Yes, Samsus. You are correct. He was not raised Ancient--is not Ancient--yet he posses the abilities that many did not have.
Help him back, Lord Evander. John Sheppard and Armentarius must be one. It would not be interfering so much as it would be setting things right after Erebus.
Evander smiled more widely, then knelt down next to Sheppard as Samsus moved back. Let us hope so, my dear Samsus.
Sheppard was aware that Samsus wanted him to respond but his own mind was reeling. He remembered now how those men had died and how helpless he had been. Were there more? He could not tolerate to hear about more. Samsus had mentioned Lt. Ford and even more back on Earth. The grief of losing the two that had died in this room was painful enough. Was he truly afraid to face the grief of others? Had he abandoned himself because he was afraid of more loss?
It is as you think, my son. Sheppard's thoughts were interrupted abruptly. He looked up and saw his ancestor, Evander. Yes John. It is I. Now listen closely to me. What Samsus told you is true. You have lost many, but you have saved millions. You will lose and save more and grief will follow you all of your days…but John, so will joy. Remember who you are so that you can help so many more.
Sheppard looked at his grandfather coldly, but said nothing. Evander was unwavering. John, I know you are angry. It is not fair to you that the weight of so much is on your shoulders. But, John, there is no one else with your abilities. My race, of which you share blood, has abandoned the fight. Only you, a human, can finish it.
Why is that? Sheppard finally asked.
Because we have truly abandoned your people, John. Even I am bound by our laws. I am ashamed that we have done so, but the only way that I can help is through what I have given you. And the only way you can help is to accept your failures, as you think of them, and see them for what they are.
And what are they?
The result of your courage to face the uncertainty of life and do what is right even when others do not. John, you are a warrior. Warriors protect even those who do not feel that they need protection. You understand this; and those that you cared for who died understood this as well. Let the burden of that loss go and accept that more must die so that many more will live.
Sheppard thought a moment. What is the benefit of remembering except for grief?
John it is not just grief but remembrance of life and with it hope and meaning. Evander seemed to soften. I have had my share of death and suffering, John, but with it was for a purpose, and I never lost sight of that. Never. All I know is that you are stronger if you are both John Sheppard and Armentarius. Neither one alone now is as strong as both. You can never go back to who you were any more than you can forget where you came from. Evander smiled slightly. Enough now with the self pity, my son. You don't do it very well. Besides, with acceptance comes reward.
Really? Like what? Sheppard was not one to pout but he could delay what he knew in his heart was inevitable.
Yes there was that. Especially that. He sighed. You know, I am tired of being Harry Potter, Anakin Skywalker, King Arthur, and the supposed "chosen one." It all really sucked for them.
Evander laughed. Well, you do seem to remember some things. If it is any consolation, those were fictional characters.
Yeah right okay. Will remembering all of it be painful?
Evander put his hand on Sheppard's chest. Not all of it. And what is painful will not be the type of pain you would prefer. You will have to grieve later. Evander sensed Sheppard's hesitation. And do not worry, I will shield any tears from the others.
I don't cry.
Of course not, but I have—many times. Remember that you have not failed--nor will you; but you will lose others, John--even some close to you. Allow them to give their lives without the burden of your grief on their shoulders. Now, let's walk together to those places you have avoided when you were alone.
Teyla could not really see Sheppard's face through the glowing body of Evander. How freely the Ancients moved in and out of their worlds! She saw Sheppard's leg move slightly and his fists clench, then release, then clench. She looked over at Rodney, who looked terrified. Perhaps he was worried about the same thing she was--that John would not really come back at all. Ronon was unreadable, but she sensed he, too, was concerned. Time seemed to pass slowly and she was not sure how long it was until Evander finally stood. Though he glowed, she could clearly see the resemblance that Sheppard had to his ancestor. The Ancient stood and turned toward them. "He is whole again with all of his memories and, though he may not say it, he will need all of you in this journey." Evander looked directly at Teyla. "Especially you, Teyla." Evander glanced down at Sheppard, whose eyes were closed; and then the ancient king disappeared.
Teyla went to Sheppard and scooped him up in her arms. She smiled at the others. "He is asleep."
McKay moved forward followed by Samsus and Ronon. "Do you think it worked?" he asked no one in particular.
Samsus closed his eyes. He knew Evander had done what he had hoped but he searched for Sheppard's mind. "Yes," he said simply.
"Where is he?" LaPierre asked of Weir.
"What is the meaning of this? Who are these people?" Weir said angrily as she pointed at the armed contingent of nearly forty men.
LaPierre stepped forward. "The IOA has its own small force, though we don't advertise it. We have never used it before."
"Obviously." O'Neill said looking at Woolsey who shrugged slightly.
"Where is Col. Sheppard?" La Pierre asked again.
"Why?" Weir asked.
"We wish to speak to him."
"We meaning the IOA," O'Neill commented. He gave a slight glance to Lorne who nodded almost imperceptibly.
"Yes, of course."
"This is not normal IOA procedure," Woolsey said finally.
La Pierre shifted a little uneasily. "No, perhaps not, but there is a certain…segment that feels we need to speak to Col. Sheppard directly. I am sorry, Richard, but that segment does not believe that you alone can ensure the needs of Earth."
O'Neill shook his head. What a big mistake. Whatever this segment was had committed a grave error.
"So," O'Neill said walking toward La Pierre. "What exactly are you going to do? No one here is going to give him up. In fact, we actually have a couple of your IOA spies for you to take back with you."
One of the armed men pointed a gun at O'Neill. Nonplussed, the general turned to the man. "You haven't done this before have you? Are you in charge?"
Ronon suddenly became ultra alert when he heard Lorne's voice in his ear. He acknowledged quietly and then turned to the rest of the group. It had been ten minutes and Sheppard still had not stirred. "La Pierre is here with a group of armed men looking for him," he said pointing to Sheppard.
Samsus looked down at Sheppard then around at the others. "I don't know when he will wake. We must let it happen on its own, but I can ask Atlantis to hide him."
"Do it," McKay said quietly, "I can't lock us in here--the control panel doesn't work."
"It's okay everybody, I got this one," a voice said out of nowhere.
"John!" Teyla exclaimed. "Are you alright?"
Sheppard smiled mischievously as he looked up at her. "Look where I am. Do you really need to ask?"
She was shocked and nearly pushed him away at his audacity then realized something. "It's really you."
He nodded and his eyes sparkled. "Yes," he whispered, "And I need to talk to you later." He looked around and grinned broadly. "Well, as much as I would like to stay here in Teyla's arms, I think La Pierre needs another lesson in humility." Teyla nearly pushed him away with a laugh.
"What do you propose, Your Highness?" Samsus asked with relief.
"You were on the right track, Sam. But instead of hiding me, I have asked Atlantis to hold them where they are until I get there." He walked past them. McKay, Teyla, and Ronon looked at each other briefly, then smiled simultaneously and caught up with him.
"Secure the area," the IOA gunman said, still pointing his gun at O'Neill. The rest of the armed men fanned out, ignoring the Atlantis staff. Lorne was the only military member besides O'Neill; and the IOA took away both his and O'Neill's weapons.
I'm on my way, Sheppard had told O'Neill just seconds ago. The general turned to Lorne and winked. Lorne nodded and O'Neill was sure Sheppard had reached them both. Along the way, Sheppard would pick up the Imperial Guard and no doubt Atlantis would help. La Pierre was in for a surprise.
The IOA men began to try to exit the gate room but were blocked by a force field of some kind. There was no way out for any of them. They looked around impotently.
O'Neill grinned. "I told you he wouldn't want to speak to you."
"He works for us…as do all of you. This city belongs to…"
"Me," a voice came from overhead. Sheppard was standing in his kingly glory--his team, Samsus, and the Imperial Guard surrounding him. Now that was a way to make an entrance!
Sheppard raised his hand with a slight wave. "Now, please be so kind as to lower your weapons." No one moved. Sheppard's men had their own weapons aimed down with targets in sight. "Please, I would rather not force you to, but you have to agree we have the upper hand."
"You cannot do this, Sheppard. As I said, you work for us!" La Pierre sputtered angrily.
Sheppard sighed. "Richard, I had hoped you would have kept better company. Obviously, intelligence is not a prerequisite to work in the IOA. I told you, Mr. La Pierre, that I do not work for you; and that if you ever stepped foot in Pegasus again then all relations would be cut off with Earth. You have forfeited Atlantis, which I would have generously shared with the IOA. Now I will determine who stays and who goes. And the first to go will be you and your men…unless of course they would like to remain and fight some life sucking Wraith…"
O'Neill could not help but grin. He caught a glimpse of Caldwell standing in the background and the colonel was shaking in an attempt to suppress laughter.
Sheppard's eyes became like laser beams. "Now, as I said, drop your weapons."
The IOA men looked around and without further guidance began to drop their weapons. The one with his gun trained on O'Neill suddenly shifted his weapon toward Sheppard and fired before O'Neill could stop him. The bullet bounced away from a shield that could barely be seen.
Sheppard smiled. "I love this city and she prefer you not hurt me." His smile faded and he locked eyes on La Pierre. "That would have hurt if you had shot me, and I am really starting to lose my patience." Sheppard nodded and his guardsmen were soon in control of the gateroom--having surrounded La Pierre's men.
Sheppard walked slowly down the steps when all was secure. He stood face to face with La Pierre. "You are not welcome here, Mr. La Pierre. I think I told you that once already and it looks like I was right. I will allow Mr. Woolsey to stay for now in the event I change my mind about relations with Earth; and I will speak with Dr. Weir about who will be allowed to work here."
La Pierre glared at Sheppard then looked around at the assembled personnel. "Anyone remaining here will be considered a traitor to his or her world."
Sheppard sighed. "You do have a gift for the melodramatic. I doubt what you say is true. We have too much to offer; but of course anyone is free to go and I will allow them to do so over the next 24 hours. However, you must go now, please. Take these men with you. They are poorly led and this was poorly planned. I worry for Earth if it is left to the devices of the likes of you."
The gate whooshed and Sheppard extended his arm out and bowed slightly. "Please go now before I am forced to embarrass you further. We will send word along shortly."
La Pierre said nothing more but turned on his heel and walked quickly into the active stargate. The rest of the contingent followed him. The gate shut down quickly once the last man had passed through and all that was left was silence.
Sheppard looked around. "Well, guess I made them mad. Is that wrong?" Everyone looked around wide-eyed wondering what had just happened until a soft chuckle from Lorne started others laughing.
O'Neill shook his head and put his hand on Sheppard's shoulder. "You're back, I presume?"
Sheppard smiled. "Yes sir, I'm back, but I meant what I said. Atlantis belongs to Pegasus and, actually, she says she belongs to me."
"She told you that?"
"Well, not exactly, but she won't listen to anyone else."
O'Neill raised his eyebrows. "We are in quite a pickle here, son. I mean, technically Caldwell, Lorne, and the others are all AWOL--or will be soon."
Sheppard looked away sheepishly. The room had started to clear and everyone was back to work as usual as if La Pierre and the incident had just been a mosquito that had been squashed. "Sorry, sir. I did not mean for this to happen; but it is decision time. I know what I need to do now. John Sheppard and King Armentarius are the same and they both want the same thing."
"Don't worry, John," O'Neill said quietly. "We know what we want to do. We need to have a meeting and sort this all out but I am with you. It was time for me to retire and Caldwell is not going to leave Pegasus now--he might actually marry into your family. We are here for a reason. We chatted about this briefly while you were finding your other half but we need to solidify this and figure out what the hell to do next. Woolsey will help. This little incident, I am sure, did not sit well with him and bottom line is he wants to do the right thing."
Sheppard sighed. "It was bound to happen."
"John, we need to be united against the Wraith. Earth will find its way back--don't worry about that. This was not your doing…it was the fault of La Pierre and whatever little mistrusting segment he was talking about. Let's take care of one thing at a time. So I guess that, even though you are back, you have accepted that you are king of this universe."
Sheppard laughed. "In a manner of speaking, I guess."
O'Neill laughed. "Well I guess I need to start sorting this mess you created and getting the folks that want to return to Earth ready to go."
Sheppard watched O'Neil leave then looked up toward the control center and locked eyes with Teyla.
He watched her as she looked out across the water. Despite what had happened over the past few weeks he felt at peace and whole again. For the first time he truly new who he was and what he wanted and with whom he wanted to share it. She turned and looked at him. "I am glad you are with us again, John…I missed you."
He smiled impishly back at her. "I can't say I missed you."
She looked at him wide eyed and he laughed. "What I mean is that I remember everything I told you, including how I felt."
"You do?" she asked with a hint of relief. She had not been sure and until now, he had not mentioned it.
"I do. You know, not being burdened with 'me' helped me see a lot. It fell to King Armentarius to show John Sheppard how to let go and truly express his feelings." John then dropped his gaze and said, almost in a whisper, "Sometimes I am so afraid of losing everything…"
"I never thought this of you."
"I meant losing people, Teyla."
"Oh," she said quietly as she turned away. Her stomach had butterflies. Would he close herself off from her again? She then felt his hand on hers.
"I've been stupid and I don't want to be stupid anymore."
"You do not?" She kicked herself mentally. Of course he didn't. Why was she acting like a schoolgirl? He was looking at her again in a way that reached her soul.
"Will you be my Queen, Teyla?"
Her heart jumped. What did he say?
He smiled as he pulled her slightly closer. "I said, will you be my Queen?"
She felt her throat cramp. Was this really happening? Could it really be happening?
He waited a moment longer, then frowned. Another moment passed and then he stood a little straighter. Finally, "I'm sorry Teyla. I just thought…"
"What? Oh, John, yes! I am just shocked. I…I never expected…"
He looked relieved. "I meant to ask if you would marry me but I thought asking you to be my Queen was more impressive."
She laughed as she took his face in her hands. "And it was, John! I just had always hoped…and then when you were hurt and expressed your feelings to me…" She sighed and then continued. "I was afraid I would lose you when you recovered your memory and I could not give my heart to you only to lose it again."
"I'm sorry I took so long…and, like I said, was so stupid."
"I will marry you, John Sheppard, and be your Queen." She leaned in and kissed him gently and he held her.
"There is going to be war… and turmoil," he said.
"There already is."
"We will be separated...a lot."
"We will do as we must."
"You will have to dress fancy."
"I am willing to do so for you."
"Lots of queenly things to do."
"Whatever you need of me, John."
He looked out toward the water.
"Our children will be beautiful and smart."
She cupped his chin and turned his head toward hers.
"They will be and we will provide them with a world free from the Wraith."
Sheppard closed his eyes. He had forseen more pain and suffering but also more joy; and with Teyla by his side, he could do anything. He was truly whole.
Next story will include a wedding, more Wraith, battles and who knows what. I am not going to submit the next story until I am truly almost finished with it. I had this one about half done when I first submitted it then got stuck on the last few chapters because of RL. I apologize for the delay and happily will take story suggestions for the next one. I thank all of you for your honest feedback and encouragement. You have made wanting to write a good story (instead of just think about it) an obsession. Special thanks to Highonscifi and Comanche Antigo who graciously betaed. Any mistakes are mine! Gracias....
I have another shorter story in mind so may write that first.