The last of Mapa's people disappeared through the Gate, leaving only Mapa himself. He hugged Teyla and Torren for the fourteenth time and with a last smiling wink he disappeared after his people through the wormhole.
Bartoc and his people had already taken up some space in the camp, invited to stay by Quan and Nalla till they received their medical supplies from Atlantis. Which left only the Atlantis personnel. Hollings had visited Mutch's grave having decided to leave him buried here. Nalla had told her she could visit anytime she wished to see the grave. They had offered her a hut of her own to stay in when she wished and had already given her several items as restitution for her loss.
Lorne began to dial up the Gate for Atlantis as Quan and Nalla flagged by several others of their people waited nearby.
Nalla presented Teyla with a handful of the white red flecked flowers and the smell drifted up to John bringing with it warm happy memories. He shared a private smile with Teyla as she had thanked Nalla. Quan offered John their apologies once again and promised to inform them of Laster's status in the coming months. John took the apologies and kind words as he was supposed to, but inside he just wanted to get home. Finally the farewells were over, the overtures made and they turned to the Gate as the wormhole engaged.
"Atlantis this is Colonel Sheppard, do you read?" John asked over the radio, as he watched the shimmering watery glow before him.
"Colonel Sheppard?" Woolsey's voice came over the radio and everyone smiled.
"Yes, Sir." John replied. "It's all of us; my group and Major Lorne's."
"We have been trying to negotiate for your release for weeks." Woolsey began, clearly shocked.
"It's all been resolved and we would like to come home. We're sending the previous codes we left with. If you're not happy with those we'll send you the Gate address and you can send a team through to check us all out."
There was a long pause through which John could predict the discussions that were going back and forth. "Very well, Colonel Sheppard, you may proceed through the Gate." Woolsey replied.
"You heard him everyone, off we go." John waved to the wormhole and everyone began to head through. Ronon clapped John on the shoulder as they walked towards the Gate at the back of the queue.
"Bet you McKay's going to blame us for this." Ronon said with a large smile.
"No bet, he blames me for everything." John replied with a smile, happy despite himself that he would see his other friend soon.
As Ronon disappeared through the Gate John paused at the event horizon and turned back towards the path that led to the camp. Teyla paused beside him and he smiled down at her and Torren sleeping happily in her arms. She stepped up to him and kissed him gently. He had no idea what life would be like now they were together and surely there would have to be some big changes, but he didn't care. Finally she and Torren were safe and soon they would be back in Atlantis with its good food, comfy beds and heating. He smiled down at Teyla again and winked at her. "Let's go home."
He resettled Torren's baby bags across his shoulders and walked into the wormhole with Teyla beside him.
Teyla spooned more of the thick gravy over her large mound of mashed potato and sighed in delight. She had already had two helpings, but the food was so wonderful that she kept on eating despite her stomach's warnings that she was pretty much full. Ronon and Rodney sat opposite her their plates equally as full. Ronon had finished his recounting of his challenges from the mercenaries and Rodney was already teasing him. Teyla smiled happily at them and turned to look at Torren who was reclined in the baby seat at the end of the table. He was playing with his toys that had been left on Atlantis. Apparently overjoyed at seeing them again he had been playing quietly for almost an hour. He appeared unharmed and settled enough from what had happened over the past two days, but she intended to spoil him rotten for a few days just to make sure he was happy.
John was still in his meeting with Woolsey, following their check at the infirmary and the team's debrief afterwards. Teyla had been able to contact Kanaan after that letting him know that both she and Torren were safe. He planned to visit tomorrow once she and Torren had had time to settle back into Atlantis. She wondered if she should tell him about John tomorrow, but decided she was too worn out to worry about that right then. So she had gone back to her quarters, had enjoyed a wonderfully long hot shower and then had headed straight here for a full meal. John had still not returned from his meeting and she only hoped everything was alright with the arrangements to supply both the mercenaries and Laster's people with medical supplies. She wondered if John and Major Lorne had been successful in persuading Woolsey to live up to their promises.
"Please, you should try some proper escape tricks, Houdlin." Rodney muttered around his mouthful of mashed potato.
"How about we strap you to a chair and see how long it takes you to escape." Ronon suggested. Teyla had to smile at that image.
"Hey if you have a thing for bondage that's your issue." Rodney replied as he waved his fork at Ronon. "Each to their own."
"Maybe you should suggest it to Jennifer." Ronon replied.
Teyla watched Rodney go bright pink as he tried to splutter out a reply. "Look here comes Sheppard." He said hurriedly.
Teyla looked round to see that John really had appeared and was approaching them with a full tray of food and a smile on his handsome face. "How did it go with Woolsey?" She asked as he settled down beside her.
"He'll keep to our word. Mapa also dialled in, said that the Representatives would still like to include Atlantis in the alliance talks. He asked if the next talks could be held in Atlantis or on the Daedalus. Woolsey seemed happy at that; at least this won't have been a total loss in the IOA's eyes."
"Daedalus called in yet?" Ronon asked.
"Yep, they got held up on the way to Pegasus, something about a drive problem. Caldwell wasn't too happy that he didn't get to save our butts this time." John replied with a smile as he tucked into his own meal. "I told him we would let him save us next time." They all laughed at the expression they knew Caldwell would have returned to John's smug reply. John looked round the table, his eyes pausing on Torren's happy playing. "What'd I miss here?"
"Rodney was just telling us about his bondage fetish." Ronon replied.
"What? I was not!" Rodney protested.
Teyla sat back from her still half full plate and listened to the playful banter of her friends. Warmth and contentment played through her as she looked from them to her happy son. John leant forward and pointed to her plate with his fork.
"You gonna eat that?" He asked.
"Enjoy it." She replied. She could see the same happy contented sparkle in his eyes that she knew was in hers. He was happy to be back as well. He took her plate and finished the food with clear relish. Rodney told them what had been happening on Atlantis over the past two weeks, with special attention paid to how much work he had done to find them and how many hours sleep and meals he had given up to find them. At which point John reminded him that none of it had helped in the least.
Her belly was full with good food, her friends were teasing and laughing around her and she was home once again. Torren giggled beside her and she looked round to see him waving his little arms up towards John who was smiling at him across the table. Teyla reached forward and lifted Torren up from his chair and passed him silently over to John. John's larger warm hands met hers as she transferred Torren to him. She watched as he settled Torren into his arms and he looked up at her. They shared a smile and John's eyes dropped to her lips, his wish clear. His gaze lifted back up to hers and she smiled at him again. She realised how eagerly she was waiting till they had some alone time together again. It was strange to think that it had only been yesterday morning that she had woken for the first time beside him, his muscular body warming hers.
Then she realised that Rodney had stopped talking and she looked round to find both he and Ronon watching her and John with raised eyebrows.
"Is there something you two want to share with the rest of the class?" Rodney asked.
John cleared his throat and she looked back round at him and they shared a small embarrassed smile. He looked back to Rodney with a smile. "No, nothing. Why?" He asked.
Rodney muttered a few unintelligible words. "Okay…" He exchanged a look with Ronon, who smiled over at Teyla.
"About time." Ronon muttered.
Teyla couldn't help but return a small surprised smile at her friend. She sat back and looked round at John, who sat with her son comfortably settled in his arms as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "No, nothing to share." She said with a soft smile, which John returned.
It was strange to be back in his quarters in Atlantis. As John dumped down his backpack and jacket he took in the details of his space; the poster, his laptop, his music, books and the rest of the tiny details of life on Earth that he had imported into his life in Atlantis. He realised he hadn't really missed any of it, well maybe the music. That thought brought back the memory of the party in the camp and its music brought with it the more interesting memories of what that night had led to for him and Teyla.
He pulled off his clothes and went into the clean fresh bathroom and sighed with delight at the amenities that he had definitely missed. He turned on the shower and took his time enjoying the water, the warmth and even the smell of the shampoo and bodywash. The heat was wonderful and even helped ease the dull ache in his thigh. Once his fingers began to prune he got out of the shower with a delighted sigh. He dried off with the large puffy towel and then tied it around his waist as he leant over the sink. He drew the scented steam into his lungs as he shaved the closest shave he had had in two weeks. Thank god he wasn't going to have to use that blunted shaver any more. A splash of aftershave and he headed back into his perfectly temperature controlled room and pulled open the drawers of clean clothes. Ah, the luxuries of life. He wasn't going to miss those cold damp mornings or evenings in the camp. Yet, it had also been a perfect excuse to warm himself up against Teyla, and besides a guy had to keep his lady warm and comfortable.
He dressed in his smartest jeans and his favourite white casual shirt. Happy with the look he headed towards the door. He had enjoyed seeing the end of the day with Ronon and Rodney in the Mess Hall. Others had joined them at times, everyone happy that the two teams had been returned unscathed. Even Woolsey had sat with them to eat his dinner. Teyla had headed off early to feed Torren and ready him for bed. John had remained for awhile longer and after enough time had passed he made his excuses and left. Ronon had followed.
"So…" Ronon had muttered as they walked down the corridor.
"You leave any popcorn?" John asked remembering his threat before he had left Atlantis.
"No." Ronon replied honestly. "You and Teyla then…"
John looked up at him. "What about us?" He asked. He wasn't sure why he was feeling so protective of their new relationship, but it felt like they had been living in a nice little cocoon of their own for that last two weeks and he didn't want to share her with the rest of the world just yet.
Ronon lifted an eyebrow as he smiled at John. "Fine." He smiled. "You wanna go spar for awhile?" He asked.
John suspected he was fishing. "No, I think I've had enough fighting for today, thanks. I'm gonna go enjoy the luxury of hot running water and a comfortable bed."
"Okay." Ronon replied. "That's where you'll be then…in your quarters?" The teasing tone was difficult to ignore.
"Sure." John replied.
Ronon banged his shoulder into John's, which almost knocked John over. John caught himself and looked up at his friend's curious expression. Pleasure snaked through John then as he admitted his new relationship to their friend. "Don't spread it around though, okay?" John relented.
Ronon worked to control the large smile that was threatening to split open his face. "About time." He repeated as he clapped one hand on John's shoulder. "See you tomorrow then." He added and turned away to head back down the corridor.
John watched him walking away; he had missed the guy. "You wanna spar tomorrow?" John called after him.
Ronon paused and looked back at him. "Sure, in the morning?"
John nodded. "Not early though." He amended with a smile. "Ten o'clock?"
Ronon nodded. "Sleep well." He replied with a look as he turned and headed off down the corridor.
John had smiled all the way to his quarters. Now he was ready to head out to Teyla's. He was rather nervous he realised as he headed for his door. So much had happened over the last day and for John it had only emphasised how important she was to him. And that he loved her. It was a revelation that wasn't too surprising, yet it still felt huge. She hadn't said anything along that line to him yet. They had only been together for…not even a week yet. But, then they had been close for five years, so it wasn't like this was the start of a normal relationship, there had already been years of history between them on which to build. All that had been needed was the step into a sexual relationship and for John that had sealed the deal for him. As far as he was concerned they were a brilliant match.
Her quarters appeared in front of him and he realised he hadn't been aware of his trip there, so lost in his thoughts had he been. He took a moment to straighten his clothes and tidy his hair as best as he ever could and then activated the chimes. He waited a beat and the doors slid open to reveal her beautiful face.
"Hello, John." She greeted him, her smile wide as she stepped back into her room.
John stepped in after her, letting the doors close behind him. "I didn't wake Torren did I?" He asked as he leant down and kissed her lightly. She responded instantly to the gentle touch of his lips against hers.
"No, he is still awake." She replied as she turned back into her room, but her hand had curled around his and she pulled him with her. He followed her further into her room. He hadn't been in her newer quarters since she had moved into them prior to Torren's birth. Then after that she had shared the room with Kanaan. He looked round at the Athosian decorations, candles and his eyes landed on the large bed. The bed she had shared with Kanaan.
She released his hand drawing his attention away from the bed and he looked down to see Torren settled on a play mat surrounded by his toys. Torren was dressed in his night clothes and John could smell his fresh scented skin following his bath. Teyla settled down beside the play mat.
"What you still doing up, little guy?" John asked as he settled down onto the floor, his thigh complaining as he did. Torren giggled and waved his arms up towards John, so John reached down and picked him up. "He feels heavier today." John noted as he settled the boy against his shoulder.
Teyla watched them both with soft eyes. "He is growing so fast. He was sitting up by himself earlier." She reported.
"You did!" John said down to Torren who was now smiling up at him, his hands tapping against John's jaw. "Yes, I shaved." John smiled down at him. "And no I'm not going to grow a beard like your Daddy." John added. He hadn't meant to speak about Kanaan, but now back here, back in the room Teyla had shared with him, it was difficult not to think about him. John looked over at Teyla and she met his gaze, clearly understanding his slip.
"Kanaan is visiting us tomorrow." She said.
"Okay." John replied. He wasn't sure what he felt about that. Kanaan was Torren's father and he must have been seriously stressed at Teyla's and Torren's disappearance, of course he would want to see them. "I've got plenty to do tomorrow anyway." John replied. "I think Ronon wants to take out his aggression against those mercs on me tomorrow." He said trying to break the tension with a joke.
She smiled lightly. "I thought about talking to Kanaan about us." She said. It was so like Teyla to just speak things out loud. "But, I did not know if you would want that. If we needed to speak to him." She looked down at one of Torren's toys that she was absently fiddling with, before she looked back up at him. "If you would prefer to wait for awhile…"
John resettled Torren in his arms, settling him across his arms so he could bounce and rock the boy to sleep. "If you want to wait that's okay." He replied. "I don't mind you telling him tomorrow." He added.
She nodded considering his words. "I will speak to him tomorrow if the opportunity arises." She said.
John nodded back and looked down at Torren in his arms who was now lying sleepily blinking up at him.
Teyla laughed lightly. "He likes you so much." She said softly.
John looked back up to her. "When Laster first took Torren…I felt something…" He explained trying to find words for something he didn't know how to describe. "And through the forest, I thought I could sense him as well as you at times. Like he was calling out to me as well." He told her, feeling oddly sensitive about it.
She looked surprised, but pleased. "You said you were both linked when Michael attacked Atlantis. Perhaps a connection remained from that time?" She suggested. Her eyes dropped to Torren in his arms. "Michael said he would be powerful, maybe that is part of who he is."
John looked down at Torren again who was now asleep, but John kept up the gentle rocking movement that was so effective. "He is special, Teyla." He found himself whispering. He looked back up at her and saw the emotional look to her eyes. "He's your son." He added.
Her smile was rather watery around the sudden tears in her eyes. He rarely saw her so emotional and it caught at his heart. Especially now as he had caused it and that her tears were happy tears. She blinked them away as she smiled at him and looked down to her son. Torren's weight in John's arms was comforting and inside John relaxed deeply. They were all safe. "Teyla?" He asked softly. She met his eyes. "This thing between us, it isn't a short term thing for me." He told her.
"Can you accept Kanaan will always be a part of our life?" She asked him softly in return.
John nodded in return, his eyes straying from her to the large bed just behind her. He caught himself and looked back to her. "I can." He promised.
"Good." She smiled again. "Shall we put him to bed?"
John frowned for a moment before he realised she meant Torren, not the issue of Kanaan. "Okay." He passed Torren over to her. The cold patch over his arms made him want to reach for the little boy again, but he simply watched as Teyla stood up and walked towards the door set in the near wall. John stood and followed her curious to see the nursery.
The crib was large, one that was clearly designed to eventually become Torren's first bed. Around the crib the walls were decorated with a mixture of Athosian colours and Earth pictures and toys. He walked past the crib and picked up a large stuffed elephant. One day he would have to make sure both Teyla and Torren actually saw a real live elephant. Perhaps he could plan a trip to Earth with them, visit a zoo and maybe find a ferris wheel at a fair. Maybe they could all drop in to see Dave.
A nursery rhyme began to play from a toy hanging over the edge of the crib and John turned round to see Teyla place the baby monitor in the crib and step away. She looked round at him and her eyes dropped to the elephant he was still holding. He laughed at her amused look and placed it back on the side and followed her towards the door. He paused briefly though to look into the crib and check for himself that Torren was okay.
They left the nursery and Teyla moved away to relight some candles that had died. John looked around the room again, taking more time to take in her things and the nice spicy incense smell that he always associated with her. He walked towards the large bed; it looked comfy and was decorated with thick richly coloured blankets. Teyla began to quickly put away Torren's play mat and toys. John reached down and picked up a couple and put them in the chest that she held open. As she closed it he reached for her, unable to keep his hands off her any longer. He needed to feel the physical connection between them again. He had been starved of her for almost two days now, only sharing quick kisses and it was no longer enough. She stepped into his arms and slid her arms around him. She looked up appreciatively from the top of his open shirt and he lifted an eyebrow at her as he leant in and kissed her. The kiss was nicely needy from both of them and he was happy she was on the same page as he was. He pulled back licking his lips.
She pulled her arms from around him, sliding her body tightly against his as she walked past him. He turned with her, drawn by her silent 'follow me'. She moved to the bed and began to pull back the blankets. John moved to her side, but paused at the bed. It looked so Athosian and Kanaan had slept in it.
"I think we should spend as much time in this bed, until you feel happy that his memory is long gone." She said as she pulled the last blanket down. Under the colourful sheets a normal Atlantis bed was revealed and John felt oddly pleased.
He turned to her, slid his arm around her. "I don't have any problem with that idea." He said as he dipped his head and kissed her thoroughly.
He had no further thoughts of his issues over the bed as they spent their night upon it. All he was able to focus on was her, as he listened to her panted breaths and whimpering calls of pleasure and how she called his name. And he whispered her name to her in turn as she touched him, told her what she meant to him and then they began again. All night they explored and enjoyed, playing in the new knowledge that they were safe and home again in Atlantis. And in the morning John woke wrapped around Teyla in the middle of a comfortable warm bed, with the light gently dancing in around her curtains.
In the midst of the darkness somewhere in the lost measureless space of unconsciousness his mind stirred. There was no constant, no focus to bring together the muddled pieces of memory, of purpose and of freedom, yet somehow he knew they existed, understood they were a part of him. Through the heavy artificial weight that forced him into this prison of sleep he could do nothing but drift through the darkness.
He would never know if he had been aware of the long passage of time, but later he would remember those flashes, those strange detached moments of awareness as he struggled against what had been done to him. Those intangible moments in which he could remember pieces of his purpose, of his plans, and the name they had given him. Michael.