First of all let me say that canceling Stargate Atlantis now, was the dumbest move I have seen in TV history.
YOU HAD ROBERT PICARDO IN THE CAST AND YOU CANCELED, ARE YOU FRIGGIN KIDDING ME!
Oh let's see, we've got a reformulated show that seems to be working, brought in one of the most gifted character actors in television history, with one of his most nuanced characters to play, the ratings are up,we've introduced some very promising story lines...I know lets cancel it and hang our hat on this really awful idea of a Stargate show with no Stargate!
Nuff said...rant over.
I had very high hopes for where this show was headed, I love the Richard Woolsey character, if you want to see humanity on display, watch Richard at the end of the SG1 episode Prototype asking forgiveness from Daniel Jackson. It will rip your heart out. Or watch him in SGA The Return interacting with Jack O'Neil. He was a bureaucrat surrounded by heroes trying to do the best he could. You could fault him for decisions that were based more on statistics than experience, but you had to love how earnest he always was. Suddenly he gets this job way out in the Wild West Galaxy, surrounded by people who resented him coming through the door, and he brought his IOA reg manual LOL!
And you know what...he earned their respect. When you watch the decisions he made and his leadership style in The Seed, and contrast it with where he wound up in Enemy at the Gates, it's staggering just how far he came.
This story details a missing incident, a chapter that might have happened somewhere while SGA episode Vegas was going on, in a parallel world, it contains in it the entire character arch of Richard Woolsey including snippets of his life never shown on TV, that formed him into the stodgy, but good-hearted leader we all came to love, and wished we could have watched a lot longer.
I own nothing Stargate, or I wouldn't have to mourn on Friday nights
A Different Kind of Bravery
Richard Woolsey had fallen asleep at his desk again.
"Mr. Woolsey?" inquired the com after a beep.
Long use to hiding his weariness from the rest of the city, he immediately awoke and answered, "Yes?"
"Unscheduled off-world activation of a wormhole sir."
Richard immediately found his glasses. "Raise the shield, I'm on my way."
He straightened his uniform jacket and frowned at the wrinkles. It could not be helped. He headed up to the Gate room.
One of the night shift technicians was at the console, he preferred Amelia, he felt they had the best working relationship, and he did not intimidate her.
"Are they giving an ID?" Woolsey asked as he approached.
"No sir. They did send ahead a message."
"Let me see it."
The screen in front of Richard blinked and then cleared up. The face of a beautiful woman filled the view screen. She was dark haired and dark eyed and was wearing elaborate jewelry. She had the bearing of a queen. "Mr. Woolsey, I have come as a representative of the Coalition, and of the Tribes of Santhal. I know you recognize me, and you know my feelings toward you and your charges, but these are serious times and I have come to find a peaceful solution to our conflict."
The technician glanced up at the pensive look on the expedition leader's face. "Do you know who that is, sir?"
In the way of answering, he tapped his ear. "Colonel Sheppard, please get to the Gate room as soon as possible."
John Sheppard showed up ten minutes later looking disheveled, but as soon as he saw the face on the monitor, his eyes narrowed and he snapped to attention. "Shiana? This can't be good."
"I need a security team and Atlantis 1 to report to the gate room, now," he barked into the earpiece. "So how do you want to play this Richard?"
Woolsey sighed and rubbed his forehead wearily. If I wasn't so damned tired I could think!
He nodded to the technician. "Let her through, please."
John nodded to himself. "We don't have to do this, she is a small part of the Coalition, and we know she hates us with a passion!"
Richard nodded that he understood this. "She is also a leader of her people, good leaders learn to set aside their feelings and do what is right for the good of those that follow them. She would not have been leader this long, through what they have endured, if she was petty. Also the IOA has decided that we need to stay on good terms with this new Coalition if at all possible."
John smirked. "Did you learn that good leader bit in Washington?"
Richard gave him a tired smile. "No."
Security came in and situated in a semi-circle around the gate. Teyla, Ronon and Rodney came running in, Rodney immediately launched into a demand for information, but Richard had zoned out, leaving the explanations to Col. Sheppard, preparing his tired mind for the challenge he was facing.
He was no hero, he was no soldier, but Richard Woolsey could always walk into a tough courtroom with adversaries on both sides and somehow come out on top. This situation required diplomacy, no shooting involved, this was something he could handle.
As she regally strolled through the gate, with her armed entourage arrayed behind her, Sheppard walked up behind Richard and murmured. "Don't forget, we are the soldiers, if you feel things are going south, get out of the way, we don't want you to get hurt."
Richard straightened his uniform coat. "I am aware of that fact, believe me, and try not to shoot anyone that twitches during the negotiation."
"No promises," was Sheppard's reply. Richard sighed, and strode forward.
"Shiana of the Tribes of Santhal, elder of the Coalition, welcome to Atlantis."
Her face was emotionless, and then she held out her hand. "I believe it is Earth custom to shake hands?"
If Woolsey had not been so exhausted he would not have fallen for it, but at that time, he was running on fumes. He accepted the handshake, not noticing that John Sheppard had immediately raised his weapon.
The other thing he did notice at first was the blade she had embedded in his chest.
The security team was yelling orders and it was pandemonium, but Shiana's voice brought the room to silence. "He is not dead yet, let us go, and the knife will do no further damage, restrain us, and I will deprive you of your commander."
Richard kept wondering what that cold pain was doing in his chest; he had just shaken her hand.
He numbly wondered if he was in shock, he had heard of this occurring to others. Shock would be logical at this point.
"Why?" he asked, he felt something bubble at the corner of his mouth, it tasted coppery.
"I told you I would not rest until all of you pay. This is the first installment," she hissed, her eyes were obsidian orbs of anger sparkling. She was killing him but all Woolsey could think was, she is so beautiful.
The wormhole engaged and her people backed into it until she was the only one left. She backed him with the knife still embedded, he knew as soon as she was close to the event horizon she was going to strike the fatal blow anyway.
"Go ahead; shoot her, that's an order." Richard called to the troops surrounding them, surprised that he was able to say those words with his lungs filling with blood.
At her confusion, he smiled, probably with blood stained teeth. "Atlantis will not be crippled by this. You miscalculated."
Shiana paused, just long enough.
"Now!" Sheppard called. From the dais in the control room Ronon made an impossible shot, the disruptor blast took Shiana in the chest causing her let go of the blade and crumple to the floor.
Woolsey slid to the floor with the knife still in his chest, landing on his side. The room was spinning and his vision was blurring, he had lost his glasses somewhere, good thing I brought spares.
The Security team took Shiana into custody. Their where calls for medics and people scrambled to Richard. Sheppard began to roll him, but Ronon stopped him. "He's been stabbed through the lung, keep him off his back, or he'll drown," the large intimidating man growled. "I've dealt with this; I need something clean to hold to the wound. We got to pull the knife out." He said as he used a very large intimidating sharp blade to cut Richard's uniform jacket and t-shirt off his back with amazing skill and a strange gentleness, away from the blade in his chest. Feeling naked without his shirt on the cold marble floor in the Gateroom was like that old naked-at-school nightmare that Richard had when he was younger, he almost laughed at what crosses your mind when you're dying, but he could not get the breath.
Teyla was there, she removed her own uniform jacket. "This is clean."
Ronon nodded. "Sheppard you hold him still as you can, Rodney, you pull the knife, straight out if you don't, he'll be dead in seconds." Rodney nodded with no argument or complaint…yet another miracle.
Woolsey felt cold, but Sheppard's hands felt warm. He glanced up to see the normally calm man looking more concerned than he had ever seen him. He suddenly remembered something he needed to impart to Col. Sheppard just in case.
"Sheppard," he managed to wheeze.
"Don't talk Dick."
"She said…this is the first strike, recall…off world."
"Go!" Ronon bellowed.
Rodney pulled the knife and Ronon replaced it with the cotton jacket, and applied so much pressure Woolsey felt like he was trying to smother him. A wave of pain hit, just before Richard lost consciousness, he thought. I'll have to requisition new uniform jackets for Teyla and me. How will I explain tha…
"Richard? Richard honey, don't get your clothes dirty…"
Doctor Keller's voice floated somewhere in the darkness. "Okay, we need to keep him on his side, that way only one lung will need to be drained. He's lost so much blood!"
Richard's mind seemed to drift in the darkness. Where did mom go?
Another voice came to him.
He felt a chill in his heart as he realized just how reptilian Vice President Kinsey's eyes really were.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you've chosen the right side Richard."
That was the moment when he started to wonder if he was right about the SGC after all, or if all this time he had been actually working for the bad guys.
"I'm starting to wonder whether those to whom I've dedicated my allegiance are as honorable as I had hoped," he remarked to the General he had opposed earlier that day.
Then at the midnight meeting with the new president, he tried to rectify the damage caused by his naiveté. "I hope that history one day shows, that I tried to do the right thing."
CLEAR! He felt like someone had punched him in the chest.
"Okay…I've got a steady pulse. Stay with us Mr. Woolsey, I'm not going to let you die!"
Richard Woolsey, you where Harvard Law Review, Chief Counsel of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and an appellate advocate for Hartshorn and Slaughter, a one of the most prestigious litigation boutiques in New York City, and have accomplished this before you turned 45, what's next on your agenda?" asked the reporter from the Wall Street Journal. Richard thought carefully, "I'm always looking for new challenges; I've been making some inquiries about consultant work with the government."
"Is he going to make it Jennifer?"
"I don't know John, that knife went so deep. If Ronon hadn't reacted so quickly he'd be on a slab in the morgue right now."
"I'm getting tired of losing friends Jen."
"Yeah. Me too."
"Richard, what are you doing here?"
He felt a surge of wonder. After months of not being recognized, of thinking, his father was gone forever, he was back in those eyes once again.
"Dad, I'm here to see you."
His father turned away, looked out the window. "Isn't that wonderful," he stated, and then he was gone.
Richard often wondered if he had imagined that moment.
"He's touch and go right now, he's in a coma. I am registering some Alpha waves, but it is intermittent. I think having someone there with him talking to him will help stay with us. If he can make it the first twenty-four hours, his prognosis improves drastically.
"I'll take the first shift," said Ronon in his usual gravelly voice.
"Are you sure?" Rodney asked.
"Well she said someone here talking to him, and let's face it…"
"He'll know I'm here."
Doctor Keller sighed. "Okay, I'll keep an eye on his vitals from my office."
There was a sound of them leaving, a chair being drug across the floor; a heavy hand fell on Richard's arm. "I'm here," said Ronon. Then there was the sound of a laser pistol disassembled.
"I'm leaving you Richard," she said arms crossed as she stared out the window. She looked beautiful, but as warm as an ice cube tray, as she had every day since he married her.
He had just gotten home from his first trip to the SGC in Cheyenne Mountain, Nevada. Wrung out from the experience, he did not even comment.
The information that he had discovered in the complex under that mountain made the mundane everyday life colorless and droll.
"You never talk to me anymore, and you're a lawyer, you get paid to talk!"
He looked up from his paperwork. "I can't tell you about my day, and your day is always the same, forgive me if I just skip the formality."
She pulled off her ring and dropped it on the desk in front of him. "Forgive me if I skip the marriage." She left in a huff.
He slumped in his desk chair, contemplating his life. His Yorkie, Darrow, came up and licked his hand attentively. He patted her head.
"At least you'll never leave me."
"Hey Richard, John Sheppard here. I just wanted to tell you that your hunch was correct.
Three of our off world teams got hit by Santhal attacks, but we suffered no casualties because they were prepared for it.
If you had not held on long enough to tell me, this day would have been a lot worse, not that it has been peachy with you being here like this.
I hope you regain consciousness within twenty-four hours or I'll have to check in with the SGC without you.
Man I hate the thought of another IOA rep showing up! I mean with you, and Elizabeth we did good. The next person we get might be a stodgy bureaucrat, or something worse, a lawyer." He paused laughing at his own joke. "I might just declare martial law and kick their civilian butts back through the gate, but then who would do all that paperwork?
I hope you are hearing me, friend, this place just doesn't run right without you. Nobody knows the protocol. Get well, or I'll order a bonfire with all those IOA reg manuals and we'll play it by ear."
He saw Daniel Jackson heading to his lab. He called out to him, and saw the look of complete disgust on the man's face. That was okay. He deserved it.
He had sat trapped in that bullet marked control room as Khalek rampaged through the base. He heard the sounds of dying soldiers echo, and watched the tendrils of smoke drift off the bodies of the two soldiers that had been electrocuted below. Khalek's last words still ringing, his eyes chips of evil infused blue ice, "You're not in charge anymore are you Dick?"
It was entirely his fault. Daniel had tried to explain to him that he did not understand the risks. He had scoffed at the notion; he was the best risk assessor the IOA had on staff, of course he understood.
Three soldiers died during Khalek's bid for freedom. He would have killed more but Daniel Jackson and Cameron Mitchell shot him down, as they would have from the first, if Richard had not interfered.
The look of disgust on Daniel's face cut Richard to the quick. He knew that Daniel was the better man. Richard tried to make what amends he could by taking care of the soldier's families. "It almost sounds like you might find it in yourself to forgive me," he had said hopefully after Daniel told him they had the same goals. Daniel did not even pause to think. "No." Richard accepted his word, told him he was right about the risks. Then Daniel had a moment of compassion as the door to the lab was closing. "Believe me, I wish I had been wrong." The doors shut leaving Richard alone, in abject misery, Richard whispered. "Me too."
"Hey there Mr. Woolsey, me and Torren happen to be walking by on one of our nightly walks. I thought we'd come in to say hello." There was a distinct sound of a happy baby gurgling.
Teyla's voice held the compassion that had drawn him to the Athosian from the moment he met her. She did not hold his past actions against him; in fact, she was the one that was always trying to include him, not taking his reticence as an answer.
"I keep trying to think of what we could have done to prevent this, Mr. Woolsey. I have run over what happened repeatedly and still have no answers. We were betrayed, and you paid the price, for that, I am sorry. John is more worried than he lets on, so far, we have shed no blood, but if we are attacked every time we go off world, that will change."
The baby let out a cry. "I cannot stay longer; I do not wish to disturb your rest." Her cool hand touched Richard's forehead. "I hope that you find comfort, knowing we will be here when you wake."
It was graduation. He had the cords around his neck, his honors and pins on his sash. He made Harvard Law Review, he had the most prestigious firms in New York drooling over his resume; the future was nothing but bright. He saw his dad and mom, waved and walked over. His mother hugged his neck and let him know how proud she was. He caught his dad's careful penetrating eye. "Good job son." Richard felt his heart soar. "It's not Oxford, or Yale, but you did your best," his dad concluded.
Hey there Mr. Woolsey, Rodney here, well of course its Rodney, who else could it be? I mean no one else has my tone or inflection, or vocabulary. Of course, a lot of the people around here have atrocious accents! I mean I may be French Canadian but I don't go around pronouncing about as aboot do I? Well it's all syntax. I mean how hard would it be for them to pick up a phonetics book. No one here is at my intelligence level, but there are some seriously smart individuals here comparatively speaking. Jennifer asked me to take a turn talking to you, she said if anyone could stimulate alpha wave activity it would be me, not sure what she meant by that...
He was watching his television, he had nothing else to do, no new prospects for employment. The NID had figured out his defection, and before their power was completely gone, they had made sure he would never work again.
The bills were piling up, that included alimony. His little Yorkie Darrow was at his former home on the Potomac with his vindictive former wife, he was in a sparsely furnished condominium in Georgetown, it had a good view of Washington, but he might as well been on Mars.
He did not regret passing Hammond's disk on to the president. Watching Vice President Kinsey's resignation made that worthwhile, but he had made enemies on behalf of people who did not consider him a friend. That was a one-way trip to no man's land.
He thought maybe starting a private practice, but then he would know about the threats in the universe, the aliens who were coveting Earth and her resources and just how imperiled they all were, how could he go back to normal everyday life after that?
The phone rang. It was such an unaccustomed occurrence he almost did not realize what the ringing noise was. He answered it wondering if it was his ex wife with her demands.
"This Dick Woolsey?" demanded a familiar voice. He had heard it just that afternoon making a speech on CSPAN.
"Mr. President, it's an honor to talk to you again. What can I do for you?"
"We are forming an international over sight committee over the Stargate program, calling it the IOA, I was asked to appoint a representative for the United States. I chose you."
"Me? Can I ask why?"
"Because you want to do the right thing, I know you submarined your career by giving me that disk, son, anyone that devoted to the truth, even if he's sometimes misguided, is someone I want looking after our interests. Besides that, I own you one. I'm not going to ask you to think about it, you've got no other place to go, they made sure of that, and I know you can't go back to life as is, so I'll expect to see you in my office Monday at 10:00."
"Yes Mr. President."
"Doctor Keller, you wanted to see me?"
"Yeah John, let's go over here."
"Why bother, he's still out, and it concerns him anyway?"
"So what is it, is he getting worse?"
"You asked why he let down his guard when he got stabbed, it was not like him to not be paranoid, and I was wondering why his body is not recovering like it should be, so I ran some tests."
"Let's hear it."
"By the time Shiana stabbed him John, he was a few hours away from a complete mental and physical break down."
"Damn! What from?"
"Exhaustion. I had some talks with Amelia Banks, she's the closest thing he has to a assistant. She told me that several times, she left him in the Gate control room when her shift ended, and he was already there when she showed up the next day, and she has run messages to him as late as 2-3 o'clock in the morning and found him still at his desk. It's been going on for weeks."
"I knew he stayed busy, but I had no idea."
"She asked him once why he took so much on himself; he told her I'm not a hero, or a soldier, but this I can do."
"That's got to change."
"For his sake, and ours, yes it does."
There would not be another Khalek, Richard had vowed. He had decided that Daniel Jackson was too dangerous to remain free.
Daniel Jackson had become a Prior, the danger he posed was just too great. Richard was about to teleport him from The Odyssey to the Ancients stasis pod in Antarctica for safekeeping, just in case. Suddenly, the anti-Prior device stopped working and Daniel blasted the soldiers back through the door and shut it before Richard could escape. Now he had Richard at his mercy. Lifted up, suspended against the wall with just the casual power of Daniel's will, Richard looked into those alien eyes shining from a familiar face, and it looked amused. "I'm not going to kill you, Dick, at least not today, I'm a little busy."
Next thing he knew he was standing in the SGC with O'Neil and Landry. Then O'Neil got teleported back to the ship.
"I'm really not good at this," Richard muttered.
Richard, somewhere in the darkness caught a scent. It was unique and pleasant. It was like a mix of ginger with a hint of Cinnamon and an unidentifiable aroma he could not indentify.
He sensed that that Teyla was in the room. "I went to the lands of my people; I brought back the Bolea root. Our people believe that the ancients planted it as a remedy; we burn it as a blessing to our minds and bodies. I hope it helps you to heal quickly.
I do want to say that I am upset with you. I am disappointed you did not ask for help. I will endeavor to pay more attention, but you must allow us more access. We have shown our trust in you, you must trust us."
Samantha Carter was in the chair desperately trying to get the transmitter to work.
There were sounds of gunfire as the remaining SG1 members held off those awful bugs.
The French delegate, Mr. LaPierre, of the IOA was berating her as she worked.
"Shut up! Let her do her job," Richard bellowed.
The Frenchmen backed off and glared at him.
Sam looked up grateful and thanked him. In that one moment, he was no longer an adversary. That felt indescribably good, even though he was sure he was about to become a buffet for rampaging flesh eating bugs, for that one moment he wasn't the feared stick-up-his-ass bureaucrat to her. He had stood up to the IOA with the SG1, he was no longer entirely theirs from that moment on.
That was the beginning of the secret dream to work with the SGC and not against it.
"How is he doing today?"
"His color is better Rodney, I think his lung capacity has improved, it he was not so damned tired when he got here he might already be awake. You can't push your body like he was doing, especially not at his age."
"Want me to see if we can come up with an ancient device to help? We could see if there's a modification of the Ancient's stasis chamber technology that can regenerate him, or even better, I have some information about the Goa'uld sarcophagus technology that could be pertinent.
"You are not going use him as a guinea pig Rodney. I appreciate your concern, and I know Mr. Woolsey would, if he were conscious, but he just needs to stay this way until his body is ready for him to be awake. He wore his body out the last few months; I'm not going to rush his recovery."
"Okay if you change your mind…"
"Go…find another project, leave him be."
Dickie, what's wrong?
"Oh nothing mom, next time dad comes home, remind me to thank him for naming me for Richard Nixon."
"Those boys picking on you again?"
"They don't understand that I am the hall monitor for their own safety. Rules are there for a reason, as dad always says. Is he going to make it to my birthday party this weekend?"
"He's trying that case before the Supreme Court, Dickie, I'm sorry."
"Hey Richard, Colonel Sheppard here, Major Lorne's team did not report in as prearranged.
He was escorting that vaccine to the Coalition. They found his jumper with a familiar knife sticking out of one of the consoles; I believe you had one sticking out of your chest not that long ago. It's the Santhal again.
We have feelers out, checking out contacts, Ronon is hunting the Santhal involved but we were on an affiliated planet, and they have the home field advantage.
I've tried talking to Shiana but she keeps asking me when we are going to kill her. I don't know what it's going to take to get through to her that we are not their enemy; I bet you'd have some ideas.
If I can't blow it up, or shoot it, I'm not much use. I could use some of that courtroom magic you used at the Inquisition about now. I hope we can figure this out before Lorne and his men pay the price for it. I have already put out the word we are willing to exchange Shiana, but I think she wants to be some sort of martyr for the cause.
Wake up soon, buddy, will ya?"
Richard sat in the corner of the Gate room in Atlantis. The others were celebrating retaking the city from the replicators, no thanks to him. He was completely dejected.
How was I supposed to stand up to someone sticking their hand in my forehead? I'm a bureaucrat; I'm not trained for this. They knew I was the weakest link, so they used me.
The others were toasting each other with wine, Richard had a glass in his hand, it was not his vintage but it would do.
Jack O'Neil had been babysitting him for days as they hid from the patrols; then they were captured, underwent the same torture but Jack did not break, but Woolsey did. After the misinformation plan worked, Jack had patted Woolsey on the back and said, "You see, Richard, you were good for something."
Richard was alive, but his complete humiliation made the victory hollow. Maybe it was better to die a hero then to live with your own cowardice.
He looked up as the team toasted him for giving in to interrogation and becoming a vital part of their plan. He grimly tossed the rest of the wine in one swallow. He had never felt so bad about himself in his entire life.
"I know you're in there Mr. Woolsey. This is Jennifer speaking. Everyone else has taken a turn but me, so I thought I'd sit with you a while.
You and I have a lot in common you know. I don't know if I can do this job either, I get overwhelmed and I make up for it by working too hard for too long. I can't really preach moderation at you when I have to literally escorted out of the infirmary so I'll get some rest sometimes.
I miss Doctor Beckett, he was so much smarter than me. Well everyone is smarter than me, especially Rodney, I love him but man, I want to smother him with a pillow sometimes!
You're the only one here that makes me feel like I belong. You ask for what you need, and you expect me to deliver, the goals you set for me are reachable and defined, when I reach them it makes me feel competent.
I'm doing my best to give you a chance to live, but the rest is up to you.
Goodnight Mr. Woolsey, see you in the morning."
The LOA where debating. Samantha Carter, despite his assertions on her behalf, was considered too much of a soldier to offer enough oversight to the Atlantis Expedition. They had voted to remove her an hour ago. Woolsey was very disappointed by the decision.
He knew how good at her job Samantha was, she had certainly showed herself capable when those two Wraith Hive ships circled the planet during his visit the previous month, and Richard had panicked, tried to take over her command using LOA protocols so he could order the attack that he thought was vital to keeping Atlantis safe. She rebuffed him, the people around her backed her up, and Richard had watched with awe as the two ships did just as she predicted and destroyed each other.
He was embarrassed, but assured her at the gate he would be submitting a sanitized favorable report on her behalf. As it turned out, his report was too little too late, the vote was unanimous.
The names they bandied about to replace her were terrifying. None of them had command experience; none of them had even been to Atlantis. Woolsey out of sheer desperation offered himself as a nominee, mainly to forestall any quick votes for the wrong candidate. Next thing he knew he was greeting Samantha in the Gate room of Atlantis with the bad news. He could see that she thought he had stabbed her in the back; there was nothing he could say.
He made a silent vow to her, that he was going to be the best commander he could be, so the mission could continue as if she was still there. He tried at first, to get Atlantis to conform to protocol, but circumstances showed him how little the rule book applied in the Pegasus Galaxy, so he had wound up throwing it out for the most part.
Last month it nearly cost him the job, like it did Sam.
"I had to come down here to check, Jennifer. I'll watch him while you're gone."
Rodney murmured to himself, and then said, "Okay the camera in here's on a loop and the audios turned down." He slid close to the bed, and Richard could sense he was leaning in. "I'm not the kind of guy that can say these things out loud, but sense you're comatose I guess this as good time as any. I know you broke a lot of rules to save Jennifer, well twice now, and I know you broke major protocols to save me when I had that brain parasite thing. I wanted to say... thanks. I know you try hard to keep things running, so we don't have to worry about anything but our research and missions. I know you don't always feel like you are part of things, but I just wanted to say that, I miss Elizabeth, and Sam, but not so much as I thought I would. You're doing a really decent job here."
He leaned back abruptly. Doctor Keller's voice broke into the room. "His Alpha waves just spiked, did you hear anything? Did he speak?"
"No," Rodney replied, "false alarm."
Suddenly Richard realized that he could move. He made a herculean effort to touch Rodney's hand, which was the closest part of the man he could reach. Rodney jumped up. "I think he moved."
He tried to open his eyes but it took several tries because everything was so bright and his glasses were missing. He had a tube up his nose, one coming out of his chest, and another inserted into his…okay now he was embarrassed.
Soon Doctor Keller was shining a light in his eyes and asking questions. He could barely speak but he managed to indicate the answers.
She surprised him by being a little teary eyed. "It's good to see you," she said giving his hand a squeeze.
He smiled weakly, "Would you mind getting this tube out of my nose, and finding me my glasses?"
As she obliged him, he realized that he knew a way to fix this Santhal situation; he was hoping he was not too late for Major Lorne and his men.
"Absolutely not! It's out of the question, next idea," Sheppard bellowed.
Richard was too tired to fight over this, and it hurt deep inside his chest to talk, but time was of the essence, he tried to think of what he could say to get Sheppard to see it his way. "We both know I'm not a man of action, that has been well established, but I am the best diplomat you have. Shiana is not going to be reached by conventional means, she expected to die, and still expects to die, someone like that has no breaking point, and certainly nothing you can bargain with."
Sheppard was pacing back in forth across the foot of the bed. Rodney was sitting with Doctor Keller stunned into silence; she was in the same state as he. Teyla was watching John taking her cue from him, patiently trying not to make the situation worse with more opinions. Ronon was touching his pistol and blades, as he always did when he was itching for action.
Sheppard turned back to the bed. "It's too dangerous Richard. We just pulled her knife out of your chest almost a week ago, you are lucky to be in the shape you are in!"
"I believe him."
They all turned to the source of that statement. Amazingly enough, it was Ronon speaking. "I believe him, let's do this."
Doctor Keller was about to protest but Richard caught her eye. "Please, I might not survive this injury; let me at least try to get Lorne and his team home," he said as earnestly as he knew how.
She was deeply upset, but she nodded. Rodney tried to say several things, but in the end, he just stood and walked out.
Sheppard met Teyla's eyes. "You haven't said a word."
Teyla sighed. "I trust Mr. Woolsey, and I trust you, you will make the right decision."
Sheppard turned back to the fragile man on the bed, his eyes showing his internal conflict.
"You've green lit my suicidal ops against your best judgment, I guess I can do no less."
Shiana walked into the hospital room. She looked stunned. Woolsey was willing to bet she had prepared herself for execution, and here he was, in a weakened condition, the person she had attempted to kill.
Her confusion became even greater after the guards withdrew.
"What is the meaning of this?"
Richard weakly pointed to a small table to her left.
Her eyes narrowed when she realized her knife was there cleaned and presented on a cloth, shiny and deadly.
"I'm giving you your choice back," he said with a slight wheeze wincing at the pain.
She stared at him incredulously. "I made my choice, and I'd make the same one again."
He knew he looked tired, and pale, but he made sure she saw the determination in his eyes. "Then go ahead and finish the job. As it stands, I may make a full recovery. If I do, then outside of some medical complications and a nice scar, this event might as well have never happened. No blood spilled, except my own, and I am willing to let this matter drop."
She studied him as if he was some foreign entity, which was beyond her understanding. "I would have killed you if I had not been stunned," she explained in a patient tone.
He was unrelenting. "Then go ahead. Pick up your knife, finish it, it won't take but a moment in my condition. Ensure there is war between our people, split our energies and make your tribes an enemy of the Coalition…Make a choice."
She stared at the knife, walked over and picked it up. She turned to him as she toyed with the blade. "What will happen if I choose peace with you and your people?"
Richard tried not to gasp for breath; he barely managed not to show how much talking was hurting him.
"What happens is we make an agreement, we shake hands hopefully without planting a knife, and you take a gate back to your people. They get their leader back, you gain a powerful ally, and the Coalition grows stronger."
The fierce anger lit up her eyes. "What of my vengeance on the ones that destroyed my people, my family, my life. Their blood cries out for retribution."
He was having trouble focusing. He knew his reserves were running out. He had to get through to her quickly.
"Blood does not cry out. Departed love ones do not cry out." He lifted a bandaged hand with an IV tube in the back of it to his forehead and tapped his temple. "Except in here, where they haunt us the rest of our lives."
He lowered his hand and continued, "The Replicators killed your people, we re- activated the code that kept them dormant so they would fight the Wraith like they were created to. They chose the method and it cost your family its life. No amount of blood will help you find peace. Creating a world for your people, joining with other humans so we all have someone to call when ships hover overhead…that might."
He felt himself fading, so he went for the jugular. "Sacrificing yourself to end your own pain, leaving your people to fend for themselves in a battle you started but they can't win, that is selfish beyond belief. If you are that petty, there's the knife, I can't defend myself, finish it."
He held out his bandaged hand to her. "The choice is yours."
She carefully moved toward the bed, the last moment she sheathed the knife and took his hand.
"I will never forgive you," she declared.
He gave her a drained smile. "Then go ahead and hate us, but work with us, the next generation of your people might find it in themselves to forgive."
The guards reappeared and she turned to go.
Richard was seeing some black creeping into the side of his vision, but he had to do one more thing before he passed out. "We have four people in your custody; they are the price for peace between us. I will be expecting their safe return."
She turned and nodded. Then she was gone.
Sheppard came walking in; Doctor Kelly rushed by him and began checking vitals. Richard tried not to drift away, since he was not sure he would be back if he did.
"Thanks for taking the chance, John," Richard managed to say as Kelly checked him over.
Sheppard grinned. "Oh, I don't know, it might not have been as dangerous as you thought." There was a privacy curtain closed in the corner, Ronon swept it back and strolled out with his pistol in hand.
Sheppard shrugged unrepentant. "I had to follow IOA protocols."
Woolsey tried to glare but he was too tired. Jennifer was putting something into the IV and it was cold running into his arm. "This will help you relax and rest, as long as you don't pull anymore stunts, "she informed with a disapproving glare.
The room began to swim. Before it blacked out completely Richard managed to say. "Tell Major Lorne I said welcome home." Then he was gone for a while.
Richard walked out onto the balcony. This was his spot; he had found it his first week here walking the hallways trying to figure out where he missed that turn. The salt-water breeze was cool against his face.
He tensed at the voice. "Vanessa?"
He spun to see her walking toward him.
"But, you're not real. I sent your AI to the planet as you requested."
She was still, her eyes compassionate and calm. "Don't worry; I'm what's left of the AI in your brain. I would have eventually absorbed back into your neural pathways."
"Why am I seeing you now?" he asked with trepidation.
"You've gone deeper into your mind these past days than most people ever go, triggering me; I sensed you needed someone to talk to, so I'm here."
She looked so real and lifelike, and lovely, her hair dancing in the light breeze, Richard felt his heart skip a beat. "Am I dying?"
She smiled and shook her head. "No, you will be fine, given time."
He turned back to the view smiling ruefully. "It's so typical of me. The person I've gotten closest to on this expedition, was never even real."
She turned and smiled at him, the sun catching her face perfectly. "One reason I picked you, Richard, was that you not only had the authority I needed to complete my task, but you were the loneliest person in range. More importantly it was a self-imposed exile."
"What do you mean?"
She reached out and touched his cheek. "You're not that NID attack dog anymore. You are not the IOA's hatchet man. You are who you always wanted to be deep down. You're part of them now."
Richard opened his eyes in the infirmary. He was alone. He still felt that pain deep in his chest every time he breathed but he could tell he was getting more oxygen than he did last time he was awake.
Doctor Keller came in beaming. "Hey there sleepy, how are you feeling?"
He tried to reply but his voice rasped at first, finally he managed. "Alive."
She checked his readouts shone a light in his eyes, asking some general questions to check for disorientation.
"Did Major Lorne and his men make it back?"
She smiled, "Of course, you think that lady wanted to tangle with you after what you did? I don't think I've ever seen someone so brave."
He stared at her a moment while she adjusted his IV. "Brave?"
She reached down and took his hand gently. "Of course…brave, you've become quite the legend around here. They talked about it around the city for days!"
"I'm not a hero," he stated adamantly.
She gave his hand a squeeze. "Not to yourself. I'll go call Colonel Sheppard, let him know you're up."
He watched her leave.
His eyes found the walls, walls built long before his measurable civilization began and realized that he was close to one person on this expedition, Atlantis herself. She teased him by shutting doors on him, transporting him to the wrong location and locking him out, twisting her hallways around so the corridor he took today was not the one he had to take tomorrow. She was a light in this dark galaxy, a beacon of hope, and a haven. She was his home, maybe the first home he had ever really had.
Throughout this journey these last days, he also realized that he had never had friends before either, maybe that was why he did not recognize the ones around him every day.
It took nearly dying for him to discover that, right now, so far away from anything he had ever known, life was good.
Two Weeks Later…
He stood in his quarters trying to get his uniform zipper up.
Physical therapy was going slow, but he now had close to full mobility. However the damaged muscles in his chest occasionally made themselves know in inconvenient ways.
So much had happened the last month since he got out of the infirmary.
He found out that the IOA had been fully briefed on his handling of the Santhal conflict, but whoever submitted the report left out that he had made a wrong move out of weariness that gave Shiana the opening to plant the knife. As it stood, he was free and clear from any oversight breathing down his neck. He had taken opportunity to lower his work hours and let a few of his self-imposed duties be distributed.
Truth be known, he had no choice, almost all the women in the expedition, most who could fire any weapon, or take out an enemy combatant with a toothpick, were now keeping an eye on him. If he showed any signs of weariness, Doctor Keller showed up with a frown and orders for a physical. It was a little claustrophobic, but it felt ego gratifying to have so many attractive women doting on him.
He finally got the zipper up, it was painful but he was determined to get back to doing the simple things for himself.
There was a new respect between him and Col. Sheppard and, dare he say it, they had become friends.
General Jack O'Neil had even congratulated Richard on his permanent position in a weekly update, which had been a surreal experience.
It was not perfect by any means. He still had to hold up protocol on occasion and make unpopular decisions.
He had to ground Ronon earlier this week because he felt the big man had too much of a vendetta to be going off world. Ronon had not taken that well, but when Richard held his ground; he accepted it on one condition, that Richard let him teach him self-defense. Richard was not looking forward to the bruises, but maybe next time he found himself behind enemy lines, he would not be as much a handicap. Being able to defend himself from knife attacks would be a nice bonus as well.
After the attack, Richard had decided that they needed to have closer ties to the Coalition. What had happened between Atlantis and the Santhal, came from resentment and lack of communication. The stonewall that they ran into off world when Major Lorne and his men were missing was also unacceptable. So he had proposed a reception for all of the Coalition heads at Atlantis, so they could come and see the city, see just how capable they were of defending themselves, and maybe that would earn them more political clout and cooperation. Of course, this time all the delegates would be searched thoroughly.
His door chimed.
Col. Sheppard walked in. He was wearing full dress uniform, and looked like he was nearly crawling out of his skin.
"Is this entirely necessary?" he grumbled.
Richard sighed. "We have been over this."
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Can I at least shoot something?"
Richard smiled. "Sorry, not tonight unless the Genii act up."
Sheppard smirked. "They always act up."
Richard gave him a worried look. "That's what I'm afraid of. Oh well, let's do some diplomacy shall we…Pegasus Galaxy style."
There was a grand hall on level three that was large and spectacular enough to make the point Richard was trying to make. It had armed guards and four people monitoring the crowd with scanners as the delegates mingled.
Richard and Sheppard made their entrance, and a few eyes came over their way. Included in that number was Shiana, she was a beautiful and deadly looking as ever. She met his eyes, and nodded her head before turning back.
"I think she likes you Dick," Sheppard murmured.
Richard spared him an irritated look. "Sticking a knife in someone's chest at first meeting does not a good first impression make?"
Ronon appeared, out of nowhere, leaned in and said. "You should've met some of the women from my planet."
He walked on.
Richard watched him go. "You know, I can never tell when he's being serious."
Sheppard gave him an amused look. "I think he was being serious."
Richard chuckled. "Oh well, I think I see the Genii contingent, I don't want them to get settled in and comfortable, they might start plotting."
Sheppard nodded in agreement. "How do you want to handle this boss?"
Richard sighed. "Smile, keep a drink in your hand, cover your flank like a newbie in a Penitentiary shower."
Sheppard smirked. "You have dealt with the Genii before."
They made their way over to the militaristic looking group, whose glares were making people uncomfortable.
Richard held out his hand.
"I'm Richard Woolsey, leader of this expedition, welcome to Atlantis."
Concluding Thoughts: I expect I will get some complaints about my Richard Woolsey being a OOC, but I honestly think this was where he was headed. I keep reading Woolsey in other stories that hearken back to the man he was in SG1 Heroes Part 2. That character did not stay there, the writers realized they had something and he has been evolving every since. I think there are different kinds of bravery. A man walking through a Stargate to a distant city light years away, where everyone is bound to hate his guts on sight, knowing he's entering a conflict heavy zone? To me that takes guts!