disclaimer: Don't own it, wish I did...
ratings and warnings : Early chapters are probably K+ or T but later chapters are M for profanity befitting an angry military man and steamy scenes.
A/N: Focuses on John Sheppard and 3 major relationships. John/Dave, John/Torren and John/Teyla. Makes reference to the story "The Bridge" and finishes the letter from Patrick in "A Letter from Pegasus" but it's not until ch. 18. Cameos by most of the SG-1 cast at some point or other. Some appear more than once. Julia Donovan is borrowed from the SG-1 episode Prometheus and Emmet Bregman is borrowed from the SG-1 episode Heroes. Sheppard's birthdate is from the Stargate Wiki.
This story is quite extensive in length so I apologize to anyone reading it for all the time I will take away from you. But it was extremely fun to write. My family will be happy that I am done.
I'm not a doctor and this is Sci Fi, remember that when reading the medical stuff.
Thanks: To T'Pring for letting me borrow Julia. Hope I did her justice. She was immense fun to write. And thank you to all the people who sent tons of encouragement and gave me motivation to continue by asking for a sequel to "The Bridge". Especially Sagey, who sent so many notes that she was rewarded with an early preview. And thanks for the feedback, Sagey, it was great! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Feedback: Is always welcome and appreciated, but read the author notes and if something's not your cup of tea, please don't read. I find that I really enjoy writing when I write what I want to read. Therefore this story is very self-indulgent. But if someone else likes what I like, please let me know!
Revelations and Expectations
General Jack O'Neill sighed as he put the phone down and waved Major Paul Davis into his office. Davis came in, seated himself in a chair opposite O'Neill and waited. O'Neill had his head in his hands and was making strange noises while shaking his head. He finally looked up and acknowledged the man sitting across from his desk.
"I take it things don't look too good right now, Sir." Davis said.
"Oh, that's a bit of an understatement, Major." O'Neill sighed again. "The Pentagon's in an uproar and the IOA is insisting on immediate action. What a mess!"
Davis sat up straighter. "I suppose we've been lucky to have kept this fairly quiet for over thirteen years."
"And we probably could have kept it quiet for a lot longer if the Wraith hadn't decided to come visit." O'Neill stated.
"You're sure there's no way to just cover this up, too?" Davis asked hopefully.
"Unfortunately Earth technology has just come too far on its own. Everyone's got a camera phone and access to the Internet now. And those are just the common folk. The big technology firms and news hounds have hacked into every satellite there is up there." He pointed skyward. "Someone managed to pick up part of the communication between Carter and Sheppard right before he went on his suicide run to take out the hive ship."
Major Davis just closed his eyes and shook his head. General O'Neill leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes as well and repeated the heavy sigh.
It had been about eight months since the city of Atlantis had come to Earth to protect it from the ZPM souped up hive ship. The hive was destroyed, thanks to the unselfish pluck and extreme dedication of one Colonel John Sheppard. Of course he had only been a Lt. Colonel at the time, but saving the asses of every human on Earth by flying inside a Wraith ship and blowing yourself up was certainly a worthy enough act for the promotion he was given. Sheppard had been lucky though. His team had managed to gate aboard the hive ship and get him off before it blew. But that certainly didn't take away from the sacrifice he was willing to make for the sake of his homeworld. The President had thought so too, and had presented Sheppard with the Medal of Honor at the same time as his new rank
O'Neill thought back to all the Atlantis mission reports he'd read. Sheppard was like a cat with nine lives. He'd been on more than his share of suicide runs and always managed to make it back. He wondered how many of the nine he'd already used up.
Atlantis had stayed on Earth for several months until a ZPM was found to supplement the ones that had been partially depleted on its trip back to Earth. That in itself was a struggle, as was convincing the IOA that Atlantis should go back to the Pegasus Galaxy. The IOA thought Atlantis should stay on Earth to protect it from any further attacks. But Sheppard and McKay, along with Woolsey, surprisingly, gave a convincing argument that they could keep Earth safest by combating the Wraith before they got anywhere near the Milky Way. The Wraith already knew about Earth due to Colonel Sumner's unfortunate first encounter with them. They'd have a better chance of stopping them at the source than waiting until they got all the way here.
The Wraith knew of Earth, but luckily they were pretty sure none of the other Alliances knew of its location. Keeping them in sight in the Pegasus Galaxy was a better option. The IOA had to grudgingly agree. So five months ago Sheppard and his ATA gene had taken the city back to where it belonged. The Ancient city was now gone but had left behind in its wake a trail of problems no one had adequately anticipated.
The attack of Wraith darts on Area 51 and subsequent defense by the F302's had been unfortunately captured on several video cameras and iphones not to mention some of the satellite networks owned by the news media. Area 51 was always a place of interest and therefore had the attention of a multitude of people. The massive explosion of the hive ship was apparent to much of the world as well. Just how close they had gotten to Earth still made O'Neill shudder. But the crowning glory had been Atlantis itself hurtling across the sky as Carson Beckett attempted to control its entry into Earth's atmosphere. They had managed to get the cloak up before they were too close but those damn satellites hadn't missed a thing. And the fact that a large part of San Francisco Bay was off limits for almost three months was just frosting on the cake.
The military had spent the first few months putting out little fires here and there, but the flames had started burning out of control when several countries in other parts of the world started accusing the United States of developing and testing new weapons. The news media of course got involved. The military could control that to a certain extent but when foreign news agencies also got involved, the hands of the US military were tied. It seemed their years of anonymity were at an end.
He straightened in his chair and gave Major Davis a grim smile.
"So they've decided to do it?" Davis asked warily.
O'Neill's lips thinned as he replied, "Yeah, let's hope it doesn't backfire on us."
xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxo
"Okay, Buddy, you've got to promise me you'll hold on tighter this time." John Sheppard commanded the not quite two-year old. "If you fall off and get hurt again, your Mom is gonna have my hide."
Big, brown eyes looked up at him, sparkling with excitement. "Otay, I hode on tight!" promised the boy, wiggling his bottom as he grasped the sides of the splashy skateboard more firmly. John looked down the long corridor checking for any strays wandering by.
"You ready, Pal?" John asked. The excited nod and huge grin gave him the answer.
"Okay, here we go, hold on!" John gave the skateboard one big push and sent it flying. He jogged quickly beside it, eyes on the child in case he started to fall off. The last thing he wanted was another episode like last month. Torren hadn't held on tight enough and had taken a tumble. He had fussed for only a minute before he wanted to go again. But John had scooped the kid up as soon as he fell, noticing the scratch he had acquired on his face. Of all the places, John thought, Teyla is definitely going to notice this.
And she had, especially as the scratch had started to turn black and blue within the hour. John had felt horrible after it happened even though Teyla had assured him that Torren was fine. But the next afternoon during their sparring session, Teyla had been more relentless than usual. John had left the session quite battered and by the next morning he himself had half a dozen bruises starting to form. He didn't want that to happen again.
John's eyes followed the child as the board started to slow down. He rushed over, grabbed the boy and swung him around in the air. As he lowered Torren to the floor, the toddler jumped up and down excitedly yelling, "Aden!"
"Again, huh?" John questioned. He smiled at the expression on the boy's face. He couldn't believe how big this kid was getting. In just two short months he would be two years old. It didn't seem like it had been that long.
John stepped on the board and started to push off, plucked a bouncing Torren off the floor as he went past and sailed a few more yards. They had gotten to the intersection that John had always loved to use when he alone had the skateboard. Torren also seemed to realize that it would be the perfect ride. The corridor had a slight slope for about 300 feet.
The boy bobbed in John's arms and pointed, "Down dere, pease!"
John took a deep breath and knew there was no way he could let the kid ride the board down this hall, at least not by himself.
"Okay," he agreed, "But we have to go together, you understand?"
John thought about holding Torren while he rode the board down but realized that had too many hazards as well. He sat on the board, crossing his legs so his combat boots were both off the floor. He balanced with one hand while he encouraged Torren to sit in the lap that he'd made.
"Okay, T.J., you've got to stay sitting right here, all right. No wiggling around." The boy nodded and leaned back into John's chest. John wrapped one arm around the child and pushed off with the other hand. They started off slow but picked up momentum the further down the corridor they got. About halfway down he heard Torren laugh. The laugh always got to him. It meant he was having a great time. And John knew he was responsible for bringing some joy into this kid's life. After all the death and destruction they dealt with on a daily basis, joy was a real good thing.
As they neared the end of the ramp, John realized he hadn't really had a plan for stopping. The corridor ended in a T with a hallway on each side, which meant that there was a wall right in front of them. With the memory of the bantos-stick-inflicted bruises from only a month ago still fresh in his mind, John figured he needed to slow down now. With the wall quickly approaching, John leaned to the left and wrapped both arms around Torren. He attempted to untangle his legs and roll off the board. He managed to slow his speed a bit but still hit the wall with enough force to take his breath away momentarily. The skateboard skittered out from under them and rolled a few feet to the right.
John looked to make sure Torren was still wrapped protectively in his arms and he collapsed against the wall with a groan.
"Aden, aden!" cheered Torren.
"Not today Pal," replied John, feeling a fresh bruise nagging in the center of his back. A soft applause to John's right had him looking up and muttering, "Crap!"
Standing there in the hallway was Major Lorne, Ronon and a half dozen or so new Marines that John knew had just arrived on the Apollo yesterday. He hadn't even met them yet. What a great first impression, he thought as he scrambled to his feet bringing Torren with him. Lorne just smiled indulgently and continued to herd the newbies down the hall.
As they walked off, John heard him tell them, "The briefing with Colonel Sheppard is in ten minutes. We should head up there now."
John glanced at his watch and muttered, "Crap!" again but appreciated the hint from Lorne.
T.J. giggled and mimicked, "Cwap!"
"You better watch out what you teach that kid, Sheppard." Ronon warned, but smiled anyway.
"Yeah," John agreed and pointed to the skateboard that had landed near Ronon's feet. "Can you grab that? I've gotta get him settled and then get back in time for that briefing."
Ronon picked up the board as John carried Torren and they headed for the closest transporter. As they got in, Ronon commented, "I thought Teyla didn't want Torren on this thing anymore."
"She doesn't," John confirmed. "But look at that face," he held Torren up closer to him, "How can you refuse that face anything? The kid was begging me to ride it again."
"Teyla's not gonna be too happy when she finds out." Ronon gave another warning.
"You gonna rat me out, Buddy?" John challenged as they exited the transporter and continued down the hall.
"Not me." Ronon denied. "But you know Teyla, she has a way of finding things out."
John made a face as he nodded his head in agreement. They entered the big, bright room and John deposited Torren on the floor. The place was looking pretty good, John thought. While they had been on Earth several months back, the city had received even more citizens. Among some of the best and brightest the IOA had wanted on board were a few married couples with children. John had quickly remembered this part of the city from his many explorations. There were several rooms that had looked like they had been classrooms of some sort. John, with the help of Teyla, had transformed the rooms into a comfortable child care area. When they had returned to Pegasus, Teyla's Athosian friend, Aleeah had volunteered to take care of the few children who needed it.
At first John wasn't sure about employing people with kids, after all they were at war with the Wraith. But then he realized you couldn't really expect to keep people here for any length of time and ask them to put their lives on hold. Working closely with others, you formed attachments. He thought of Rodney and Dr. Keller. They'd been spending quite a bit of time together lately and things looked kind of serious. Many of the inhabitants had been here for six years, himself included. Plus, Torren was here and he needed some friends to play with. And if the Wraith managed to find them they could always evacuate, they'd gotten very good at that if they needed to.
Lately they hadn't needed to though. The Wraith were still battling each other over territory and were doing more damage than the Lanteans could ever have hoped for. The Planetary Coalition had gained power and speed, too. With so many people in the galaxy finally banding together, there was now hope where there had been none before.
Teyla spent much of her time working with the Coalition as representative of the city of Atlantis as well as the Athosian people. She had been spending much more of her time on diplomatic missions or in Woolsey's office conferring with him. Especially since Woolsey had promised the Coalition that Atlantis would take a very active part in this newly formed group.
John kind of missed having her with them on Recon missions but had to admit he felt relieved that he didn't need to worry about her safety nearly as much as he used to. Torren needed his mom nearby. And it wasn't like he never saw her. Heck, he and Ronon actually accompanied her on many of her diplomatic missions. They'd teased her that they were her elite bodyguards. But Woolsey had come to rely on Teyla immensely and he wanted her safe and he knew John and Ronon would never allow anything to happen to her.
John also saw Teyla most days when they were sparring and he was the one to bring Torren to the childcare room in the mornings. Teyla spent most mornings training with the military personnel and John loved to spend time with the kid. They were both early risers and could usually get in a full hour or more of playing before Sheppard had to officially report for duty. And it let Teyla have a bit more free time for herself.
At first John had felt uncomfortable getting Torren so early from Teyla's quarters, but since Kanaan spent more time in the Athosian village than in the city, it hadn't really been a problem. And she looks so amazing when she's just woken up, all fresh and new. John shook himself for a minute wondering where that stray thought had come from. Oh, come on John. You secretly hope she'll open the door, still in those cute silky pajamas, looking like she's just rolled out of bed.
John shook himself again realizing these thoughts were completely inappropriate. Teyla had Kanaan. Kanaan was T.J.'s father. John had no rights whatsoever where either one of them was concerned. That thought alone was more effective than a bucket of cold water. John watched as Torren ran over and was greeted by Aleeah. He may not have any rights where Torren was concerned but he was thankful that Teyla, and yes, even Kanaan, allowed him to be such a big part of this kid's life.
He didn't know why this kid affected him so much, didn't know how he had wormed his way deep inside John's heart. Okay, looking at the similarity of this child to Teyla, maybe he did. But he knew that spending time with Torren was so important to him he couldn't even imagine how devastated he'd be if that was taken away from him.
"Uh, Sheppard," Ronon reminded John. "Aren't you supposed to be running a meeting right now?"
John looked at his watch and muttered, "Crap!" yet again. He looked at the skateboard in Ronon's hand and asked, "Any way you can put that back in my quarters for me, Buddy?"
Ronon just looked bored, handed the item to Sheppard and said, "Nah! I'm gonna be late for a sparring session with Amelia."
John's gaze pleaded with Ronon, but Ronon just smiled suggestively, "I don't want to miss a second of sparring with her. She's really good!"
"Oh, I'll bet she is," John replied sarcastically.
Ronon lifted a hand in farewell and walked out the door. John turned back to see Torren and Aleeah moving toward him. He knelt down and gave the boy a big hug. "Teyla and I are sparring regular time this afternoon and she should be here right after."
He looked back at Torren, "T.J., Buddy, I'm not sure I'm gonna get here to have lunch with you today, but I'll definitely see you tonight for your story. Be thinking about which one you want okay?"
He squeezed Torren again and gave him a kiss on the head. Aleeah took the child's hand and gave John an encouraging smile. John took the skateboard and left it in the hall figuring he'd collect it sometime later. He ran for the transporter, hoping Lorne had found some good tale to tell the men while they waited for their CO to arrive.
xoxoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxox
Lieutenant McCarthy looked at his watch again, nervous about meeting his new CO. Colonel Sheppard was a legend back at the SGC. When you first heard about him, you figured most of the stories were exaggerated. But he'd spent three weeks on the Apollo with nothing better to do than read Atlantis mission reports. He and many of the other new recruits had asked the Apollo crew a million questions about the Colonel and Atlantis. The stories, it seemed, were all true.
The man was touted as an incredible military strategist whose plans were sometimes so outside the box as to be ridiculous. But they always worked. He was also well known for running suicide missions and coming back alive. Apparently he had survived several Wraith feedings and could even withstand interrogation from a Wraith Queen. The man was amazing. And to top it all off, he had a natural ATA gene that he could use with more skill than anyone else in two galaxies.
McCarthy pictured this huge super soldier in his head and looked again at his watch. The briefing should have started thirteen minutes ago. He was sure Colonel Sheppard would be an absolutely punctual man; most military personnel were. He wondered what important crisis was keeping him from being here.
Major Lorne was still at the front of the room giving the men a run down on some new procedures that were being initiated. McCarthy only half listened, his eyes going to the open doorway, anxiously watching for movement.
He saw someone in black BDU's quietly slide into the room. It was the guy who crashed into the wall with his skateboard. The man looked nervously at Major Lorne and chewed on his bottom lip. McCarthy thought he should be nervous, he was nearly fifteen minutes late. The guy was just lucky that Sheppard wasn't here yet. He was sure the Military Commander of this base would not put up with shenanigans like that. He looked at the guy again and noticed his haircut wasn't exactly regulation and it was sticking up all over the place at the crown of his head. How did he get away with that?
McCarthy elbowed the soldier next to him, a sergeant named Joyal. "Look, it's the clown we saw on the skateboard this morning."
At this comment Sgt. Dusty Mehra, who was standing in front of him, looked over and then at the door to see whom he was talking about. McCarthy had met Mehra yesterday when he had checked in his stuff. She was pretty hot but her attitude and language showed she was tough as nails.
Sgt. Joyal looked at the newcomer and wondered, "Who is he? He's kind of old to be on a Recon Team isn't he?"
McCarthy shrugged as he noted the thin physique of skateboard guy. "He's probably gate crew, they don't have to be real strong to push buttons on a computer."
Mehra became interested when she heard where the conversation was going. She chuckled and flicked her eyes in the direction of the door. "You're talking about that guy?" At their nods, she informed them, "He could run circles around you, take you both on and wipe the floor with you!"
McCarthy and Joyal both laughed at the suggestion, which made a few more heads turn in their direction. Lorne was just finishing up and moving away from the desk in front of the room. McCarthy straightened up figuring Sheppard must have come in. He didn't want to miss the approach of this legend. But Mehra was still looking at them indicating the man who was now walking to the front of the room.
"That," her eyes flicked forward, "is your new CO, Colonel Sheppard."
McCarthy's jaw dropped open.
xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxoxoxo
Sheppard finished up the briefing as quickly as he could. He'd given status reports and shared the latest Intel on the Wraith. He'd discussed the newest additions to the Planetary Coalition and talked about the importance of using this Coalition to find better ways to fight the Wraith. He'd torn a strip off nobody in particular but made it clear the Tac vests weren't being maintained properly and that could mean the difference between life and death when you were on a mission. Nods and 'Yes, Sir's' were given when he asked if everyone understood the penalty for an unprepared vest was a week scrubbing the gate room floor with a toothbrush. He finished off with a list of the movies that were playing in the Rec Room this week saying that down time was as important as work time.
"Okay, get back to work!" he dismissed. "Lorne, "he called and cocked his head to indicate he was ready to meet the new recruits.
Major Lorne signaled for the new men and women to head up to the front of the room. As they waited, Sheppard grinned at Lorne. "Thanks for the head's up this morning, Major. I was a little distracted and wasn't really paying attention to the time."
"You usually aren't when you're with him, Colonel," Lorne replied with a grin. The newbies were now standing at strict attention in front of them.
Lorne introduced. "This is Colonel Sheppard. He's the Military Commander of this base. I told you yesterday that you'd get a chance to meet him today. Sir…" and Lorne went down the line introducing each of the new recruits.
Sheppard noticed the confused looks on most of the faces. They almost always had that look when they first met him. He hated that others always built him up into this larger than life character. It made it very hard to live up to. And he always saw disappointment in a few sets of eyes when they first saw him. He wanted to give them a 'don't judge a book by its cover' lecture but figured they'd discover sooner or later what was real and what wasn't. But this group's first impression of him was even more skewed and if they spoke of it too much, he'd be screwed, by Teyla.
"Okay," he began. "First big test. What you think you saw this morning, didn't really happen, right?"
Eight heads nodded and snapped out a "Yes, Sir!"
"And did I have a two year old on a skateboard with me?" He shook hid head indicating what their reply should be.
Eight voices sounded loud and clear, "No, Sir!"
"Major Lorne, I think this new batch is gonna do just fine. As long as they can follow orders like they just did."
Lorne chuckled and asked, "Do you really think Teyla's not going to find out, Sir?"
"Oh, I hope not," John returned.
Just then a soft voice came from behind them. "What is it you are not hoping for?"
John turned around slowly and pasted a smile on his face. "Hi Teyla!" he said sweetly.
"Hello John." She returned, her eyes puzzled at John's demeanor.
John held up one finger at Teyla, turned back to the people standing behind him and said, "Dismissed!"
Lorne grinned again and shuffled his new charges off to their next orientation.
"Is everything all right, John?" Teyla asked as she came to stand closer to him.
He turned to look at her and supplied casually, "Everything's fine. Just trying to live up to my reputation."
Teyla's eyes softened as she rested her hand on John's arm. "It will not take long for them to see you truly are the wonderful leader they have heard stories of."
John stared at Teyla's hand on his arm and then slowly put his on top. He squeezed her hand and then patted it as he said, "I hope so."
Teyla removed her hand and continued, "Mr. Woolsey would like to meet with us. He had a private discussion with General O'Neill this morning and has been a bit agitated ever since. Ronon and Rodney have already been notified. He sent me down here to inform you once you were finished with your briefing."
"You have any idea what it's about?" he asked.
"I am afraid I do not."
"Okay, let's go find out what's up." John put one hand on Teyla's back and held the other one out in front of her. "Lead the way."
xoxoxoxo xoxoxoxo xoxoxoxo
John and Teyla walked into the conference room and noticed that Ronan, Rodney and Jennifer were already seated at the big mahogany table. John walked over to the side and poured himself a cup of coffee. Torren had kept him busy at breakfast so he hadn't gotten more than a few sips. And an impromptu meeting with Woolsey halfway through the morning, after a call from General O'Neill, was probably not a good thing. He figured he'd need the caffeine. He sat down in his regular place next to Teyla and had only taken a few sips when Woolsey walked in.
"Colonel, good, you're here. Thank you, Teyla, for notifying everyone for me."
Teyla dipped her head in acknowledgment.
Woolsey sat down, folded his hands on the table in front of him and took a deep breath. "I'm not even sure I know where to begin."
John knew it was bad news if Woolsey was left speechless. The man was never short on words, ever!
Woolsey inhaled and started again. "I spoke with General O'Neill this morning. It seems there've been a few problems on Earth lately."
"Goa'uld, Ori, or Replicator?" Sheppard asked.
"If only it were that simple, Colonel" Woolsey replied.
Sheppard started to get really nervous at Woolsey's comment. "They didn't find any more Wraith, did they?"
After the dart attack on Earth, a few rogue Wraith had landed on the planet. The military had been able to locate and dispatch them easy enough, but there was still that nagging fear that they hadn't gotten them all.
"No, no, nothing like that." Woolsey assured them.
Sheppard was getting a bit impatient with the man. "Okay, so…" he left the sentence dangling, hoping Woolsey would finish it.
"It seems our recent trip to Earth had quite a few unexpected consequences." Woolsey filled them in on the media circus that had been hassling the military and the tension among nations.
"The bottom line is that in order for the United States to avoid what could potentially be a war, the military and the IOA have decide to make public the Stargate Program."
Rodney's "What!" and Sheppard's "Are you kidding me?" rose above Jennifer's "Oh, no!" by a few decibels.
"Precisely!" agreed Woolsey.
"I don't get what the big deal is." Ronan shrugged. "Everyone in the Pegasus Galaxy knows about the Stargates."
"Every planet that has a Stargate knows about them." McKay corrected. "Has being the operative word. Earth has one Stargate and billions of people from hundreds of different countries. The Stargate is under the control of the US Government. Not everyone will be okay with that."
"But you are from…Canada." Teyla confirmed. "Is that not a different country? And you are part of this expedition."
"Yeah, there's a lot of people here who don't have the same flag patch as Sheppard." Ronan pointed at the US flag on John's left shoulder.
"You are correct, Ronan." Woolsey replied. "And that is exactly what the IOA is hoping to emphasize when these people get here."
"These people being…" John said anxiously.
Woolsey sighed again. "Reporters."
"Crap!" John said and realized he'd said that word way too often today and it wasn't even lunchtime.
Woolsey continued, "The IOA has compiled a team of international correspondents who will be assigned to this task."
"Wait a minute," Sheppard interrupted. "I remember reading an SGC report about a news team that was allowed to view one of the X-303's and ended up hijacking it. That time didn't work out too well. What's to say this time will be any better?"
"You're absolutely right, Colonel Sheppard. But that group was led by a bunch of rogue NSA agents and even though background checks were done, we had no say in whom the crew was. This time the IOA itself is choosing the reporters. They'll do their own camera work with small lightweight cameras provided by the US Government so there'll be no unexpected surprises."
John groaned and ran his hands through his already disheveled hair. "I don't think this is such a good idea."
"I have a tendency to agree with you, Colonel. However the IOA, along with the United Nations, yes they have been told, seem to feel this could be a truly unifying event for our planet."
At John's look of doubt, Woolsey went on. "They figure if the whole planet knows that we face an enemy much worse than anything on Earth, it might bring the people of all nations together. To find common ground so to speak. The IOA wants us to show them how people from many countries have banded together here in Atlantis. They've already started the ground work by illustrating the many countries involved in the IOA itself."
John swallowed hard, knowing there was nothing he could do about this situation.
Woolsey looked around the room and asked if anyone had any questions. John pointed his finger in the air and said, "Yeah, when are they coming?"
"They're actually spending a week at the SGC first, "Woolsey supplied.
"Oh, I'll bet Landry's just thrilled with that." John quipped.
Woolsey just nodded and answered John's original question. "They'll be here within the month. General O'Neill will send me exact dates later."
"Um," John looked like he had another question.
"Can I put in for some time off, say, within the next month?"
Woolsey just laughed. "I'm afraid not, Colonel. General O'Neill has requested personally that your team be on hand to escort these reporters while they're here."
Sheppard began to sputter. "Oh, come on…that's not…you mean baby-sit."
"General O'Neill said to tell you it's a direct order." Woolsey informed him. "He thought you might have this reaction. But he said he needed someone he trusted to make sure the reporters only got the information they really needed."
"Yes, Sir," John responded tonelessly.
He'd do what they asked but he didn't have to like it. He took a sip of his coffee realizing he'd only had a few sips before Woolsey had come in. John put the cup back down. It was already cold.
xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxo
John walked into the gym in preparation for sparring with Teyla. He had some time before they were scheduled to meet but he figured he'd check out the new recruits who were working with Lorne and a few of the seasoned soldiers.
He'd changed from his combat boots into his hiking sneakers and had removed the garrison shirt. He looked down and realized his T-shirt was untucked and his pants were filthy from digging in the dirt on the mainland, getting ready for some buildings they wanted to erect. He didn't especially care though. He wasn't wearing clean pants just to get thrown on the floor by Teyla.
Lorne spotted him and strolled over to the door to greet him. "How do they look, Colonel?"
John had only been watching for a few minutes but thought they showed promise. "Not bad. Anyone stand out? Good or bad?"
"Not yet. Want to test of few of them out? I heard about the news today, thought you might need to blow off some steam. I've got a few who could probably be taken down a peg."
"Yeah, maybe," John grinned. "See if you have any takers first. I want to see who thinks I'm a pushover."
"Boys and girls!" Lorne called out to the group. "We've got a special treat today. Colonel Sheppard stopped by to see how you were doing and I've convinced him to try a few of you out. So, who'd like a turn to impress your new CO?"
Mehra and Edison chuckled and proceeded to sit on the risers. A few of the new recruits mumbled to each other, wondering who would take on this challenge.
Lt. McCarthy eyed Sheppard and still had a hard time matching him up with the super hero he'd heard so much about, especially looking at him now in his baggy fatigues and sloppy, rumpled shirt. They were about the same height but McCarthy figured he had at least thirty pounds on the guy, not to mention he was easily ten years younger. Plus the guy was Air Force. There was no way Sheppard could take him, a trained Marine, down. McCarthy figured he could make it look good without even breaking a sweat. And he could still show his new CO that he had what it takes. He looked over at Joyal and saw the other man had the same idea.
"I'll give it a try." McCarthy volunteered and Sgt. Joyal also stepped forward.
Sheppard moved to the middle of the room and asked, "Who's first, or are you gonna tag team?"
McCarthy stepped forward and said, "I'll go first. Are you thinking hand to hand or stick fighting?"
John grinned, "How about a little of both."
He grabbed the stick that Lorne tossed to him and waited for McCarthy to grab one also. As soon as he did, John made his first move. McCarthy almost didn't block in time and felt the jolt run up his arms. This guy hits harder than I thought. But he was ready now and brought the stick up and around and was blocked by Sheppard. Sheppard didn't wait and attacked again with a series of blows that McCarthy managed to hold off, but just barely.
McCarthy figured he needed to go on the offensive. He brought the stick up and started hitting high and low without a pattern in mind, hoping to catch the Colonel off guard. Sheppard was amazing at blocking his thrusts and getting in a few of his own until McCarthy scored a hit to Sheppard's calf and he went down on one knee. McCarthy moved in for the kill but was surprised when Sheppard rolled on the ground and caught McCarthy's legs in between his and took him down as Sheppard kept rolling. Sheppard then continued rolling right to a standing position and knocked the stick out of McCarthy's hands.
The surprised Marine looked up, astonished that this older man had gotten the jump on him. He lunged for his stick and got a whack on his back from Sheppard as he tried to reach it. Sheppard kicked the stick out of the man's reach so McCarthy jumped to his feet and swung his fist in the direction of his CO. John just ducked, chuckled and threw his stick to the side. His fist then came up and landed on the side of McCarthy's face spinning him around. But McCarthy was getting more than a little upset that he was looking bad in front of everyone else, especially when it was against this skinny Air Force zoomie. He was a Marine, damn it! He came back up swinging and kicking, but Sheppard swerved and ducked and threw back his own punches and kicks. McCarthy managed to avoid or block many of them, but unfortunately not all. But it seemed as if he'd barely made a dent in Sheppard's reserve.
He staggered back from a fist into his midsection and landed near the stick he'd been using. He knew Sheppard didn't have one anymore but heck, this was war! He grabbed the stick and came up swinging and damn it if Sheppard hadn't anticipated that and moved back a few steps. Sheppard kept dodging the swinging weapon but at one point stumbled backwards and landed on the floor. McCarthy moved in with the stick raised high but Sheppard kicked his legs out from under him, did another roll and landed on McCarthy so that McCarthy was flat on his back and Sheppard was straddling the man holding the stick across his neck. McCarthy knew when he'd been beat. And the crowd did too because they started cheering even louder than they had been during the fight.
Sheppard climbed off the man and threw the stick aside. Lorne threw him a towel and he started mopping up the sweat that had formed on his face and neck. He was feeling the edges of the frustration begin to wear down but still could feel the anger at the thought of reporters coming to Atlantis, so he walked over to Joyal and taunted, "You still interested? I'm kind of tired now; you might actually have a chance." Then he snorted, "Maybe."
Sgt. Joyal looked a bit apprehensive, but muttered, "Uh, sure?"
He began to move toward Sheppard, but Teyla took that moment to walk into the room. Decked out in her traditional Athosian work out gear, she silenced the newcomers in the crowd instantly.
When she saw Lt. McCarthy sitting on the riser mopping blood from his nose and a few other cuts, she turned to John and scolded, "John, have you been beating up on the new Marines again? You know Jennifer has asked you not to do that until she has had a chance to input their medical records into the computer."
John looked sheepish, "Sorry, just been a bad day, you know. Needed to let off a little steam. McCarthy," John called to the bleeding man. "You might want to head to the infirmary and get some of those checked. Mehra, maybe you can show him where that is, make sure he doesn't get lost."
Mehra grinned and said "Sure thing, Colonel." and walked over to McCarthy.
Teyla looked at Joyal and said. "You may also be excused from enduring the Colonel's bad mood. I will take over from here." Teyla pulled her bantos rods from her bag and threw a few to John. They both started swinging them around, warming up, while the rest of the crowd started to clear the room.
Mehra walked with McCarthy and Joyal toward the door, chuckling as she did. "I warned you, didn't I?"
They stopped to watch as Sheppard and Teyla began their seemingly choreographed routine. A few others had stopped to watch as well. The sound of sticks clicked away as John and Teyla traded thrusts and blocks. A few of the men made comments about her outfit while others wanted to know when they could train with her and suggestively asked what other skills she had.
Mehra just rolled her eyes. "You guys are disgusting. And Teyla's on Sheppard's team so I'd keep any thoughts you have to yourself. I don't think he'd be as charitable as he was to McCarthy here, if he heard you talking about her that way. And if you think Sheppard was tough, he usually gets a good ass-kicking by Teyla. And she wouldn't like your comments, either." She watched through the doorway for a bit longer. "Although today he looks like he's holding his own."
"That woman, Teyla?" Joyal supplied. "She said the Colonel was taking out his bad mood on you, McCarthy."
McCarthy knew his first impression of the man had been completely wrong. And he wasn't sure if Mehra was kidding or not when she said Sheppard had been charitable with him today. He hoped he never had to find out.
"So there's your number one lesson for the day." Mehra smiled sweetly at the men standing near her. "Don't piss off the Colonel!"
xoxoxoxoxooxoxo xoxoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxoxoxxo
"So tell me more about these…reporters." Teyla requested. "What exactly do they do and why are they so feared amongst your people?"
"They dig around until they find some dirt." John answered as he sat on the couch in his quarters next to Teyla. "And then they tell everyone about it."
"And people do not wish to share this…dirt?" Teyla looked confused.
Rodney chuckled and threw a few more pieces of popcorn in his mouth. "What Colonel Eloquent here is trying to say is that reporters will sometimes find embarrassing information about people and make it public."
"So!" Ronon piped in from his chair across the room. "How many people can they tell?"
"On Earth, almost everyone." Rodney supplied.
Ronon bounced Torren on his knee and remembered, "Oh that's right, you have that TV box thing."
"And believe me, Chewie," John added. "Not everyone is happy to have their whole life flashed all over the screen or in the pages of the newspaper for everyone to dissect."
"How would you know?" McKay sniped.
"The bottom line is," John began, sounding annoyed, "that reporters take what they think is news and tell everyone else. I know the IOA wants us to play up all this international cooperation crap but if that's not the story they're looking for, it doesn't matter. The people on Earth are gonna be freaked out enough by the whole aliens from another planet thing, the message the IOA wants us to get across may not even be heard."
"Well, people with evolved minds will hear it." Rodney said. "It may not be a bad thing."
"How can you say that, McKay? You want reporters digging into every little thing you do?" John questioned.
"Well, some of the stuff I do is very important stuff, and maybe the world should know about it." He said self-righteously.
"That's what this means to you?" John speculated. ""You're upset cause all your old geek buddies from home are publishing papers and getting accolades for ground breaking discoveries they're making. You're jealous because you're making discoveries beyond anything they could ever dream of and nobody knows about it. Did I pretty much hit the nail on the head, McKay?"
Rodney looked slightly uncomfortable but nodded and said, "Yeah, but why shouldn't I get credit for everything I've done, too. It's only fair I get my moment in the sun."
John nodded. "Tell you what, Rodney. When the reporters get here, they're all yours."
"Really?" Rodney asked hopefully.
"Sure!" John replied. "Unless I'm given a direct order from General O'Neill, I don't plan on telling them a thing."
Ronon chuckled and said, "This should be interesting."
"John," Teyla asked, to change the subject, "So what is this movie we are watching? I fear I missed some of the beginning."
"I don't know." John said. "McKay picked it out. It looks kind of weird." John got up and threw his empty beer can in the trash. Torren came running over to him carrying a book and saying, "Torwy?"
John scooped up the boy and plopped down on his bed. "Absolutely, Pal."
John got Torren comfortable in his lap and opened the book. The boy immediately started talking. "One upon a time, was a Papa Bear, an a Mama Bear an a Baby Bear…"
John laughed. He'd read T.J. this book so many times the kid knew it by heart. So now he never had to do much except throw in the deep Papa Bear voice every now and then.
He looked at the others watching the dopey movie Rodney had chosen. Ronon looked bored, Rodney looked enthralled and Teyla was asking Rodney questions trying to appear interested, but clearly not understanding the convoluted plot. He loved that about Teyla. She was always so polite and proper. Well, when she wasn't dealing with the Wraith that is or beating the crap out of him with her sticks. But even that was worth it to see her all hot and sweaty in her sparring outfit. God, I did not just think that! John lambasted himself. These are thoughts you should not be having.
Torren took that moment to poke him in the chest and repeat, "Papa Bear!"
So John took the cue and in a deep voice said, "Who's been eating my porridge?"
Torren then yelled across the room, "Mama Bear!"
Teyla chuckled and called back in her sweet voice, "Who's been eating my Tuttle Root Soup?"
Torren cracked up like he always did when Teyla decided to eat something different. He put his hands on his hips and insisted, "No, Mama, porwidge!"
He turned and slapped a hand on John's chest proclaiming, "Papa eat porwidge,"
He flapped a hand in her direction, "Mama eat porwidge and Baby eat porwidge!" He patted his own chest.
"Very well then," Teyla's voice rang with amusement. "I will eat porridge."
As Torren continued pointing out the pictures and retelling the story, John felt something like a vice wrap tightly around his heart. He truly wanted to be Papa Bear and sit around eating porridge with Mama and Baby. He put his lips down on Torren's head and glanced in Teyla's direction. She was looking at him with a very strange expression on her face. It looked almost sad.
She must be thinking about Kanaan, wishing he were here instead.
As if Ronon could read his mind, he turned to Teyla and asked, "Hey, where's Kanaan tonight? He didn't want to see this exciting movie?"
John tried to hide the snort that came out of his mouth. Firstly, because Ronon obviously didn't think the movie was exciting and secondly, because Kanaan never joined them when they hung out at night, no matter how often they asked him. He knew that sometimes Teyla felt torn between her friends and her… John stopped his thought process right there. He didn't like thinking about what Teyla and Kanaan were to each other. And he didn't get the guy either. Since they'd come back from Earth, the man had spent more time in the Athosian village than in the city with Teyla. If Teyla was his, he'd make sure he was next to her every night when he went to sleep and woke every morning with her in his arms.
Dangerous thoughts again, Sheppard. He bent over Torren and growled, "Who's been siting in my chair?" at just the right spot. After Teyla had responded with her part, she turned to answer Ronon. John listened carefully thinking that Teyla talking about Kanaan was just what he needed to annihilate the wayward thoughts that had been popping into his head far too frequently lately.
"He and several others were travelling to Pangori. They have heard of a group of villagers there who also had adverse dealings with Michael. I believe Carson has helped them heal physically, but they were hoping to help them heal mentally as well."
"And Kanaan doesn't mind leaving you and Torren alone all this time?" Ronon asked gruffly.
"He knows," Teyla defended, "That we have good friends," her eyes moved around the room, "who will keep us company and assist us if we need it."
"Guy's a fool!" John muttered to himself and noticed that Ronon had a disgusted look on his face, too.
John rumbled his last "Who's been sleeping in my bed?" and let Torren finish the story. When the boy shut the book, John leaned over and whispered, "Speaking of bed, Pal, it's time you thought about getting there."
Torren looked up at him expectantly and said, "I seep here?"
John just grinned and answered, "Yeah, for now. You got jammies to put on?"
Torren rolled off the bed, loped over to the door and returned with a small black backpack. John made quick work of removing the boy's clothes and putting on his pajamas.
"Okay, teeth and potty next." The two of them disappeared into John's bathroom for a few minutes then returned with John instructing, "Kisses for everyone."
Torren galloped over to where the others were sitting. Ronon grabbed him first and wrestled him to the floor, planting a big, wet kiss on his cheek. The little boy laughed and Ronon pushed him in McKay's direction.
"Okay, um, good night," said Rodney and gave him a small peck on the cheek.
Teyla stood up and lifted her child in her arms and brought him over to where John was standing. "I should go back to my quarters." Teyla said with regret.
"No, you shouldn't." John disagreed. "You haven't finished watching the movie and you seemed so enthralled. I wouldn't want you to miss any. Besides, I already promised him he could sleep here for a little while."
She looked down at her son, whose big, brown eyes were pleading, "Mama, seep here?"
"Very well," Teyla conceded as she put her son on John's bed with a kiss to his head.
John smiled at her and promised, "I'll carry him back to his own bed later." He turned toward the child standing on his bed, held out his arms and whined, "I didn't get a kiss." Torren's eyes lit up as he jumped into John's arms.
Teyla watched as John wrestled Torren to the bed planting loud kisses all over the wriggling little body. "He will never settle down," Teyla mumbled, but within five minutes the boy's eyes were closed and he lay safely ensconced with his blanket and stuffed animal in the arms of the man lying next to him. Teyla shifted her body so she could see the screen and John's bed at the same time. John's eyes were open and he smiled lazily as he gently stroked Torren's back.
Teyla wasn't sure how he managed this. He could get the child all riled up and then settle him to sleep in such a short period of time. Teyla could get Torren to sleep, but it always took her much longer. And Kanaan had never had any success in that area. Teyla felt a twinge of guilt at the thoughts that betrayed her. Kanaan had made attempts but had never truly felt comfortable in the city. Teyla understood, she herself had been apprehensive when she first got here. But she had adapted fairly quickly. Kanaan had not. It had been almost two years since they had escaped from Michael and Kanaan spent increasingly more time in the village and less time with her and his son.
Now he was travelling to other worlds and seemed to have a new purpose in life. Teyla was glad he had found something he felt worthy to do. She understood that. Her job in Atlantis was very satisfying and she felt she was truly making a difference. But the bond between father and son, not a truly strong bond to begin with, was weakening. And her bond with Kanaan, which began with friendship and had momentarily grown to more, had begun to unravel quite some time ago. Jennifer was the only one she had confided in, regarding this matter. Looking at Ronon's face after she told him about Kanaan, she thought he might have some idea as well.
Teyla glanced again at her sleeping son and the man who lay with him. John's eyes were closed but she could still see his fingers moving rhythmically on Torren's back. John has no clue, Teyla thought, thinking of her situation with Kanaan. She wondered if she should tell him, if it would make a difference to him. Teyla had a strong suspicion that John harbored deep feelings for her. She knew he was such an honorable man he would never act on them if Kanaan were still in the picture, no matter how slightly. And Teyla would never dream of asking him to betray those values. She had noticed John's face earlier when Torren had called him Papa Bear. She could see the longing he had for Torren to be family. She wondered if that same longing included her.
For now she was content, if only mildly, with the friendship she and John shared. He was a great role model for her son and gave him as much love and guidance as any father. This was good, especially since Torren's own father could not be bothered at times.
Her thoughts had distracted her and she hadn't noticed John get up from his bed until he lowered himself onto the couch next to her.
"Riveting, huh?" John asked facetiously then directed his voice to McKay, "How much longer we got on this, Rodney?"
Rodney broke his trance long enough to look at his watch. 'There's only an hour left so shhh!"
John's head sagged against the back of the couch as he let out a small whimper. Teyla chuckled and touched her head to John's shoulder in commiseration. She left it there for a few moments and was about to remove it when she noticed the twinkle in Ronon's eyes. He lifted his chin and gave her a quick nod. She felt emboldened by his approval and relaxed further into John's shoulder. Teyla thought John hadn't noticed, but a few minutes later his head lifted off the back of the couch and settled itself on top of hers. She looked at Ronon again who was fairly beaming with mischief. Ronon stretched his arms up, put them behind his head and closed his eyes, the smirk still visible. Teyla smiled, closed her eyes also and allowed herself the comfort of the warm body next to her.
xoxoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxoxox
"Amazing, right?" Rodney blinked as the film ended. "Did you predict that little twist at the end? I bet not."
Rodney looked around waiting for the astounded responses of his friends. All he got was a quiet snore from Ronon's direction. He looked down to the end of the couch and realized Teyla was asleep on Sheppard's shoulder and John's head rested on Teyla's. Rhythmic breathing came out of both of them.
"I don't believe this! This is a great movie!" Rodney got up to remove the dvd and tripped over Ronon's long legs in the process.
Ronon gave another loud snore and then sputtered awake with a "What!"
He looked around and realized the movie was over and Rodney was packing up to leave.
"Oh, finally!" he exclaimed when he saw the blank screen.
"Make fun all you want," said Rodney, "but that movie will go down in history. I can't believe you guys actually fell asleep during it."
Ronon looked over at Sheppard and Teyla who hadn't even stirred during Rodney's little speech.
"Well, I'm leaving," Rodney announced. "I think Jennifer should be off duty by now. I'll leave you to wake up Sleeping Beauty," he indicated Teyla, "and… whatever the heck that is." he glanced at Sheppard.
"Yeah," Ronon grunted and started picking up the empty popcorn bowl and the few beer cans that were on the floor. "See you McKay."
Rodney just threw him another look of disgust and disappeared out the door.
When Ronon wan done cleaning up, he took another glance at Teyla and Sheppard. They looked peaceful and pretty good together. He was fairly sure Sheppard had it bad for Teyla, no matter how much he denied it. But he knew his friend was too good and virtuous to ever make a move on a woman who belonged to another man. But lately, Ronon wasn't sure that was the case with Teyla.
He remembered back when Teyla had been smitten with the interest that Kanaan had shown her, mostly because Sheppard didn't have a clue that he should do it himself. And Kanaan's interest had led to the arrival of Torren. Things had been a bit strained between the two friends at the beginning of Teyla's pregnancy. Ronon guessed that Sheppard was jealous and was kicking himself for losing the opportunity. But Ronon also knew Sheppard was the last person to ever admit to feelings of any kind. Ronon understood the whole 'show no fear' mentality, but that mostly applied to your enemy. With friends, it shouldn't be the case. John had slowly gotten over his problems with Teyla and when Michael had taken her, no one worked harder than Sheppard to find her and bring her back.
What really surprised Ronon though, was the bond that Sheppard had created with Torren. The kid wasn't even his, but Sheppard treated him almost like he was. Oh, he never got in the way or interfered if Kanaan was around, but on the occasion that Kanaan was absent, too many occasions in Ronon's mind, Sheppard stepped right in.
As time passed, Kanaan spent less time with what should have been his family and more time in the Athosian village. Ronon could see the strain it put on Teyla. She wanted things to work out with Kanaan for the sake of her son, but Ronon figured she was also questioning how deep the bond was between them. He could see that Teyla was conflicted by her respect for Kanaan as Torren's father and the deep emotions she'd always had for Sheppard. Especially as John had become so important in her son's life.
Ronon looked again at his two closest friends resting against each other in peaceful slumber. A mischievous part of him considered moving them into what could be considered a compromising position, but he decided against it. These two were his best friends, had helped him escape a life of running and loneliness. And they had accepted him as one of them. He owed them everything. He hoped in time things would work out for the best. He took one last look around to make sure the place was as tidy as Sheppard always kept it, them quietly let himself out.
xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxo
The crick in John's neck, from the somewhat awkward angle of his head, penetrated his consciousness. He woke quickly saying, "Yeah, great movie, Rodney!" before seeing that he was alone in the room with just Teyla resting against his shoulder. He looked at his watch and realized that Rodney and Ronon couldn't have been gone for more than ten or fifteen minutes. His gaze shifted down to Teyla and realized how relaxed she looked where she was. He thought of letting her stay there for a while longer but knew she'd rest more comfortably in her own bed. However, he knew that the memory of her soft body leaning into his would have the opposite effect on him.
So he lifted his shoulder slightly while he touched her arm. Her eyelids slowly fluttered open and her lips formed a dreamy smile upon seeing his face. John's heart skipped a beat thinking that smile could possibly be for him. Inappropriate thoughts again, John, change tactics. "Guess you liked the movie as much as I did, huh?"
Teyla's eyes showed more awareness and she sat up straight. "Where…?"
"We've been deserted. Although it couldn't have been for more than a few minutes." John assured her. He stood up, stretched the kinks out and walked toward his bed to check on Torren. Teyla came to stand beside him and they spent a few minutes watching the child sleep, both keenly aware of the presence of the other. John broke the spell with, "Why don't you grab his bag and I'll try and move him without waking him."
"I will do it, John," Teyla objected. "You should get some sleep yourself."
"First," John said, "I promised I'd carry him back. Second, I still need to check in with the control room and make my rounds of the city. You know I can't sleep until I've made sure everything is fine."
Teyla nodded and picked up the bag while John bundled a sleeping boy into his arms. As he held Torren close to his chest, he inhaled the unique scent of him. John felt the familiar warmth and emotion spread through his body. "God, I love holding him." John whispered, then looked apprehensive when he realized he'd said the words aloud.
"It is a lovely feeling," Teyla agreed as she waved her hand to open John's door.
As they walked down the hall, Teyla tilted her head and casually commented, "Your skateboard was not near your bed where it usually is."
John's steps faltered for only the briefest of seconds as he remembered he'd never collected it from where he'd left it this morning. "Yeah, I uh… just moved it," John stammered.
"To the childcare room perhaps?" Teyla queried.
John stopped as they approached Teyla's door, his shoulders sagging slightly. "You saw it, huh?"
"It is quite difficult to miss," Teyla assured him.
They entered Teyla's quarters and John moved right over to Torren's bed. He lowered the boy gently onto it and pulled the covers up to his chin. Before he straightened back up, he let his lips rest on the child's forehead for a few seconds.
John turned quickly toward Teyla and said, "You know, we need to get you bigger quarters. This is a bit small for the three of you."
"Yes, it has become quite snug," Teyla agreed. "Even with Kanaan gone much of the time. But you have changed the subject. We were speaking of your skateboard. The one Torren insisted on playing with when I picked him up from Aleeah this afternoon."
John hung his head and closed his eyes for a moment. When he looked up his eyes were sincere. "I'm really sorry, Teyla. I know I promised you I'd wait until he was older to take him on it again. But technically, he is a month older. And," John continued as he saw Teyla about to interrupt, "you know I have a hard time denying that kid anything. All he has to do is ask please and I'm mush."
"Perhaps I should tell all your troops that is all it takes to convince the Colonel to do something."
"Nah," John denied. "None of them are as cute as T.J. and they sure don't give hugs like he does."
John raised one eyebrow and tried his most charming smile. Teyla sighed heavily because she knew she could never remain upset with this man. Especially when he showed her son such love and tenderness. And for John Sheppard these emotions were not freely given.
"You are forgiven. This time." Teyla let him off the hook. "Just please be cautious."
John grinned for a second then got serious as he put his hands on Teyla's arms. "You know I would never intentionally put T.J. in harm's way. I'd do anything for that kid."
"I know you would, John," Teyla said looking into John's serious eyes. "As you would for many others."
"Like his mother." John knew he was on dangerous ground as he continued to gaze into Teyla's eyes. He knew he should look away, but he couldn't. There was something in Teyla's glance that dared him to continue looking. The tension was building inside of him and he finally found the strength to look away. He had to, before he did something he'd regret. Only this time there would be no bug retrovirus to blame his behavior on.
John dropped his hands from Teyla's arms and thought he saw disappointment flash across her face. He was probably mistaken. He gave her a crooked smile, turned to touch Torren's head one last time and said, "Good night, Teyla."
She acknowledged him with a nod and managed a "Good night, John." by the time he walked out the door.
John stood for almost a minute outside her quarters before he headed in the direction of the gate room to do his nightly check.
xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxo
John walked into the conference room and made a beeline for the coffee machine. He knew he'd need the caffeine for what lay ahead today. He took a few sips before he headed over to sit next to Teyla. Rodney and Jennifer came in together and sat next to where Ronon sat slouched in his usual position on the opposite side of the table.
John looked at his coffee and thought he should probably add something a bit stronger. Rodney had different feelings however.
"Well", he said as he rubbed his hands together. "It's an exciting day, isn't it?"
"You and I have very different ideas of what's exciting, McKay." John scoffed. "I'll take a Wraith attack over reporters any day."
"Come now, Colonel," Woolsey said as he walked into the room. "Let's show a little optimism, shall we?"
"O'Neill said I had to show them around." Sheppard reminded him. "He never said anything about optimism."
Woolsey sighed, sat down and began the meeting. "Our guests will be arriving at twelve o'clock noon. I'm not sure what they'll want to do first since they've just spent twelve hours on the Midway Station."
"I can not believe they managed to rebuild it so fast." commented Teyla.
"It has been two years since it blew up." Rodney reminded them. "Although the extra security they added took a little bit longer. Not to mention setting up that bio-scanner that cuts the wait time from twenty-four to twelve hours."
"Yeah and now that we've got an iris on both gates hopefully we won't have a mess like we did before," Sheppard said.
"Yes, and the other added security features should also make us feel safer. Now Colonel, are you all ready for the arrival of the news crew?" Woolsey asked.
John sighed and said, "Ready as I'll ever be. My team will be escorting them during the day and I've assigned several groups of Marines to keep any eye on them at night. Lorne's arranged for their quarters while they're here and even left some nice little Pegasus Galaxy gift baskets in their rooms."
"Good, good," Woolsey commended. "Now I believe they'll want to go offworld and visit a few of the planets in this galaxy. Have you thought about where you'll take them?"
John replied, "I thought I'd let Teyla make those decisions. She knows who'd be okay with that kind of intrusion and who'd freak out."
Woolsey looked toward Teyla. "I have spoken with the people of my village and they would be more than happy to welcome your people and teach them of the Athosian culture. I have also chosen for them to visit the marketplace on Galinor. People from many worlds go there to trade their wares. And the variety of foods available is quite extensive."
"Excellent, Teyla!" Woolsey complimented. "Those sound like wonderful choices. Colonel, you got my memo saying they also wanted to go on a Recon mission with your team?"
"That's just a really bad idea," John stated. "I was hoping you were kidding."
"I'm afraid not, Colonel," Woolsey told him. "But that doesn't mean you can't go someplace safe that we've already explored. We just don't have to tell them we've already explored it."
"I get it," John said, looking thoughtful for a moment. "Then how about P2X458? A team checked it out a few months back. Not much there, typical fields and trees and stuff. The team didn't stay too long because Dr. Jeffries tripped on a root and broke his ankle. But Captain Lloyd said it looked pretty harmless. It might be worth rechecking for an Alpha site.
"Sounds perfect." Woolsey said. "You can bring them there right before they leave at the end of the week."
"Great!" John muttered facetiously.
"Now Dr. McKay," Woolsey looked in Rodney's direction. "You are aware of what you can and can't show them regarding the Ancient Technology and your own research?"
"Yes, yes," Rodney seemed slightly annoyed. "I got the list from the SGC. Show them the useful, dazzling stuff but nothing that could be used to obliterate your enemy. I thought the whole point of having the news crew come was to unite the world against a common enemy. Wouldn't they want to know about weapons that could potentially destroy said enemies?"
"Yes, that is the ultimate goal, Dr. McKay," Woolsey agreed. "But the IOA feels it could be a while before all the governments in the world truly believe unity is the solution. And they don't want people trying to get spies into Atlantis to steal technology that could be used against other humans on Earth."
Woolsey then directed his attention to Jennifer. "Dr. Keller, they will report to you when they first get here. They'll get the usual check up, but I also want you to be extra diligent and make sure they aren't hiding anything we need to know about."
"Full body scans plus blood work should do it." Jennifer informed him.
"Good, good. Now if there aren't any more questions, I'll leave you to have a few minutes to yourself before they arrive." The room remained silent so Mr. Woolsey closed his notebook, nodded to the group and left the room.
"You okay, Sheppard?" Ronon asked, noticing how tightly clenched his friend's jaw was.
John leaned forward, rubbed his face with his hands and then ran them through his hair. Teyla tried to still the chuckle that came out of her mouth when she saw even more of John's hair sticking up than usual. Her fingers itched with the desire to smooth at least part of John's hair back down, but in his present mood, it was probably not a good idea.
"No," John answered Ronon's question. "I just have a really bad feeling about this whole thing. I don't know why, but I just feel like we're gonna regret this in the end."
"Come on, Sheppard," Rodney whined. "Stop being so negative! That's usually my job."
Teyla rested her hand on John's arm and promised, "I will use my sticks to protect you from any harm these…reporters attempt to inflict upon you."
John looked at the mischievous twinkle in her eyes and broke out in a grin himself. He patted Teyla's hand and said, "Thanks!"
He pushed his chair back from the table preparing to leave the room. He wished the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach would go away. Maybe they were all right, and he was simply over reacting to the situation. He hoped so.
xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxo
Major Lorne got the last item approved on his clipboard by his CO. Sheppard seemed unusually agitated today and Lorne knew it was due to the news crew that was due any minute.
"Are you all right, Sir?" He asked.
"Yeah," Sheppard shrugged. "Now remember, Major, any problems, no matter how small, let me know. We've gotta make sure things run smoothly while these people are here."
Lorne chuckled. "That's funny, Sir, because Mr. Woolsey told me the exact opposite. He said try and handle as much as I could myself so I don't have to take you away from your objective this week."
Sheppard made a disgusted face and said, "Okay, so maybe we need to go to plan B."
"What's that, Sir?" Lorne asked curiously.
"I shoot myself in the foot," Sheppard replied dryly.
Lorne just smiled. "I don't think that's going to fly, Sir, not in this instance anyway."
"Probably not," Sheppard agreed. He looked at his watch and grumbled, "See ya."
Lorne chuckled again as he watched the Colonel walk off as if he were heading to the gallows.