xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxox
Josie let herself in the front door early the next morning. She knew it was only 7:30 but John was a very early riser, as was little Torren. She figured Teyla might be the only one still trying to sleep. She didn't usually work on Sunday but with the newlyweds out of the country, she planned to take a bit of time away herself. But she wanted to make sure the house was all set and that John had everything he needed for the few days she'd be gone.
As she passed the family room, her eyes were distracted. Looking into the room she saw about a dozen candles that had burned down low, a quilt haphazardly thrown in front of the fireplace and some wine glasses resting on the hearth.
Upon closer scrutiny, her mouth twisted into a wicked grin. The dress Teyla had been wearing yesterday, along with John's tuxedo pants and dress shirt lay crumpled on the floor. She then saw a pair of light blue boxer shorts peeking out from behind the chair. She didn't need an advanced math degree to add up this equation.
She quickly folded the garments and picked up the wineglasses and headed to the kitchen. She dropped them on the kitchen table to put away later and moved toward the bedrooms off the den. Both doors were open slightly and she saw that T.J. was sitting on his bed with a few toys scattered around him.
When the boy saw her, his eyes perked up and he slid off the bed. She held her finger to her lips and said, "Shh, your Mom and Dad are still asleep."
She took his hand and moved to close the door of John's room but not before T.J. had looked in to assure himself that they were indeed in there. And they were, snuggled up together with the sheet thankfully covering the most strategic spots.
She took T.J. into the kitchen and said, "Let's get you some breakfast. What would you like?"
T.J. didn't need to think twice. He clapped his hands and yelled, "Pantates!"
Josie just laughed. Why did I even ask?
The click of the door registered in John's subconscious but not enough to do anything more than nudge him from his deep sleep. The intoxicating scent of Teyla drifted up and roused him even more. He was on his side with Teyla spooned in his arms. The sheets were tangled around them, arms and legs exposed but keeping their middles warm.
He could feel her soft skin in his hands and didn't dare think about what part of her he was actually touching. One of his legs was between hers and her soft bottom was pressed up tight against the front of him. He moved one hand slightly and felt the round globe and prominent peak and knew immediately where it was.
And then his memory was filled with the intensity and desire they had shared last night. Not once but twice in front of the fireplace and then a few more times after he'd carried her in here. It seemed they'd just barely recover from one interlude and the flames would resurrect from the smoldering ashes that had just burnt out.
It was unlike anything he'd ever experienced before. Six years of want and desire all came to a head in one amazing night. He hoped they hadn't burned themselves out but holding her in his arms now, he could feel the need start to build again. It was definitely a good thing they had waited until he was able to go back. He knew he'd be unable to survive if she'd left for any length of time.
His leg slid back and forth against hers and his hands stroked the silky warmth within them. His lips moved the few inches to her neck and nibbled softly. Teyla began to make tiny noises and shift slightly. As John continued his ministrations she became more aware of her surroundings. She turned slightly so she could see him and a huge smile lit up her face.
"Good morning," John whispered as he lightly kissed her lips.
"A very good morning, after an incredibly wonderful night," Teyla exhaled as her breathe began to get heavy.
Her arms snaked around John and departed on a journey of exploration; the terrain becoming increasingly and pleasingly familiar.
John pressed his lips to hers again and let his hands also roam well-explored territory. He revisited locations that had caused ultimate pleasure during the night, hoping for a repeat of what had transpired.
John sat up and pulled Teyla to straddle his lap, her warmth desperately teasing his manhood. Her rounded form lay straight in front of his face and he seized the opportunity and drew one taut nipple in to lavish it with his tongue.
Teyla's hands grasped John's head and clenched in his hair, her breathing more ragged than ever. She wriggled in his lap, his member teasing her sensitive folds. The rigid appendage finally found and penetrated her center and she whimpered with pleasure.
John gripped her hips and pulled her flush against him, filling her completely. Those same hands then shifted her a tiny bit away and then back again. Teyla took up the rhythm and joined John in the ancient dance of sexual desire.
Hands and lips complemented the movement, spurring the flames to new heights. Higher and higher the flames soared until they erupted in each other's arms and floated slowly back down.
They stayed in that position, holding tight to each other, allowing the intense feelings to ebb on their own. No words were needed, just the beating of their hearts truly in sync with each other.
As the passion slowly waned, Teyla became more aware of her surroundings. She took note of the items in John's room, ones that he would leave behind very soon. Her eyes fell on the bedside clock and the time penetrated her foggy thoughts.
Her breath froze for a second as she asked, "Is Torren not usually awake at this time? It is almost eight o'clock."
John's head whipped around to check the time, also.
His voice was uneasy. "So where is he? He can't still be asleep."
They quickly untangled from each other and John hastily pulled on a pair of boxers. He vaguely registered Teyla plucking a shirt from his hamper while he sprinted from the room.
"T.J.?" he called out as he stuck his head in the boy's room. The pile of toys on the bed attested to the fact that the child had already awakened.
John could see he wasn't in the den so he checked the office before moving swiftly to the kitchen.
His voice was somewhat panicked as he called, "T.J.?"
His shoulders sagged in relief when he saw Josie scooping another pancake onto the plate sitting in front of the child who sat at a stool at the kitchen counter. She looked up and chuckled when she saw John hurry in.
"He's fine. I thought I'd feed him and give you and Teyla a little more time to rest. Looks like you might have been a little busy last night."
Her head turned in the direction of the family room and then to the clothes still sitting on the kitchen table.
"Thank you, Josie," Teyla said as she crept up behind John. "We did not intend to sleep so late."
"So you were sleeping, huh?" Josie questioned with a twinkle in her eyes.
John saw that Teyla had pulled on one of his button down shirts and he suddenly realized he was standing there in nothing but his underwear. Between that and the clothes they'd left in the family room, he knew they weren't fooling anyone.
"I guess we should probably get dressed," John stammered subconsciously. "I'll clean up the front room in a little while. Sorry about that."
"No need to apologize," Josie chuckled. "I estimate this little guy will need at least two more pancakes before he reaches the full mark. That gives one of you enough time for a shower."
Her head lowered and she smirked. "Or time for at least one shower."
Teyla and John looked covertly at each other and slowly backed away with a quick thanks. They had barely cleared the door into the den when they both dashed away toward the bathroom.
Josie chuckled again as she poured a bit more syrup on T.J.'s pancake and refilled his milk.
"We need to encourage them. I think it's time you had a little brother or sister, don't you?"
xoxoxoxoxoxxo xoxoxoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxoxoxox
"We're just gonna make a quick stop, Pal, and then we'll head to the amusement park, okay?" John called to Torren in the back seat of the Volvo.
"Otay," T.J. called out and stuck his thumb back in his mouth. John looked at Teyla sitting next to him and a grin split his face. It seemed to be his reaction every time he even thought about her this week. And when he looked at her, his heart started hammering in his chest and certain parts of him started standing strictly at attention.
He knew he needed to get some control over this desire she ignited in him or he'd never be able to get any work done once he was back in Atlantis. And that was only a day away. It didn't seem possible. For so long the thought of getting back there was so far in the future he tried not to think about it. But now it was here. And he hoped he was up for the challenge.
Not that he thought he couldn't do the job, heck he'd been doing it for six years. But it had been over six months and wondered if his troops would look at him the same as they always had. What would their expectations be? Would they expect him to be exactly the same as before his injury? Or would they see him as less in their eyes because it had taken so long to recover? Would they think him weaker now and less worthy of their respect?
He knew physically he was almost better than before with the exception of his little knee problem, and he didn't plan on sharing that fact with anyone. He'd been through six months of extreme physical rehabilitation. But he also knew that he really wasn't exactly the same as before. So many things had changed for him. He had gotten to know his brother again and gained a sister, and actually been able to express to them his feelings.
He'd worked through a whole array of guilt and other emotions with Dr. Lambert. He'd realized maybe he could let people know when he was hurting and needed some assistance. But he also knew that assistance would only be requested from those closest to him; Teyla, Ronon and Rodney.
He took a deep breath and let those thoughts go. He looked over at Teyla again. She was wearing a cute pair of denim shorts and a tank top due to the warmness of the day. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she looked almost like a teenager. Thankfully she wasn't or what they'd been doing the last few days would have been illegal.
Thinking of things that were illegal, he was thankful that he didn't have to go through a whole trial for the kidnapping case. More DNA connecting The Boss with his and other kidnappings had come through and the man had decided to go with a plea bargain versus a full scale trial, especially with so much concrete evidence against him.
So all their days had been spent together as a family and he had enjoyed every minute; lots of time in the pool and playing in the grass of the big yard. They'd gone horseback riding down to the lake and had even enjoyed a swim there.
His breath caught in his chest at those memories, too. T.J. had fallen asleep on the blanket they'd brought and he and Teyla had enjoyed a swim of their own; had enjoyed it a little too much. Luckily T.J. had slept right through their passionate interlude in the water but they knew they were pushing things. The desire was just so intense that they sometimes felt if they didn't give in to it, it might completely consume them.
And sometimes it did just that. Again, the memory of last night played through his mind. With T.J. tucked snuggly in bed and the intercom on in case he needed anything, they had gone down to the hot tub. Teyla had worn the itty bitty bikini she had teased him with a few months back. John smiled again when he remembered that it hadn't stayed on her for very long. He was surprised the water hadn't boiled away from the amount of heat they had generated.
And the nights had been filled with heat as well. Teyla had slept in his bed every night and they had even managed to get Torren comfortable staying on his own in the other bedroom. John figured that was good since he didn't want to have to compete with the boy for bed space once they were back in Atlantis. He had enjoyed having Teyla in his arms every night to help him fall asleep and waking up with her there every morning.
But today they were going to the amusement park. He was finally going to introduce Teyla and T.J. to Ferris Wheels. Tessa, Paul and Hannah were meeting them there so the kids could go on some of the rides together. But before they did that, John had something that he needed to do.
He pulled through the gates of the Oakdale Cemetery and tried to remember where he was going. It had been a very long time since he'd last been here. But instinct guided him and he pulled up to the right spot.
He got Torren out of the car seat and Teyla held the flowers that they had brought. John led them through a few rows and came to a nice area near the top of a small hill. In front of them was a very large piece of granite with intricate wording on it.
"What dat?" Torren asked looking at the monument.
"This is where my parents are buried. My Mom and Dad." John answered, his voice only slightly rough.
"Where your Mama and Daddy?" Torren said and looked around as if he expected to see them.
John knelt down in front of the tombstone and gathered T.J. close in his arms. Teyla stood beside him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"They're not actually here, T.J. They died a while ago. This just helps us remember them."
T.J. looked up at John's face and touched his fingers to John's cheek. "You sad?"
John gave him a tiny smile and said, "Yeah, sometimes when I think about them, I am. But you know, I also remember the really good times we had and know I was lucky because they loved me very much."
John nearly choked on the last few words but knew in his heart it was the truth. His Dad may have had a funny way of showing it, but there was no doubt in John's mind now that his father had loved him dearly. Many of the negative memories started to fade, to be replaced by so many of the good ones. And John began to remember all of the good ones now. Ones he hadn't thought of in years.
"Mom, Dad, I brought you something," John directed at the marker in front of him. Teyla handed him the flowers and John laid them down beneath the inscribed names.
"Peach roses, your favorite, Mom." John stated then continued. "I also brought my family here to meet you."
He reached for Teyla's hand and pulled her down to kneel next to him. "This is Teyla. She's an absolutely amazing woman and I know you would have loved her. She means more to me than I can ever express and I want you to know I'll do everything I can to make her happy, because she makes me happy."
He leaned down and kissed T.J.'s head. "And this is Torren. Torren John. He's named after me and he's Teyla's son. He's not really mine but I've come to love him just as much as if he were. And Teyla has allowed me to become a real part of his life and I am forever grateful for that."
Teyla squeezed John's hand and gave him an approving smile. It gave him the courage to go on.
"Dad, I found your letter. I wish you had sent it; I'm not really sure why you didn't. Maybe time just got away from you; I know how that happens sometimes. But I would have written back. I never wanted you to think I hated you. I didn't. I just wanted you to love me, for who I was, not who you wanted me to be. I would never have been happy that way. But I guess you eventually realized that. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't make the effort to try and fix things. For a long time I thought that wasn't possible. I hope you forgave me; I like to think you did. And just so you know; I forgive you."
John found his throat didn't quite work anymore so he just sat back and held on tight to the boy in his lap. T.J. seemed to sense John's mood and wrapped his arms around his neck.
He planted a few kisses on John's cheek and whispered, "Don't be sad, Daddy. I here."
John held on tighter to the child and heard Teyla sniff. He looked in her direction but she was looking at the stone.
"You should know that your son is a wonderful man. He is intelligent, intensely loyal, a wonderful father to my son and he has accomplished a good many things that have made him stand above so many others. You should be proud of what he has done during his time here. I am proud that he has chosen me to stand and walk beside him in this life."
The little family sat that way for a few minutes before John felt he had gotten himself under control again. He knew he'd have to work on that. He stood up and Teyla followed suit. She looked again at the writing on the memorial.
"When your aunt spoke of your mother, she called her Beth. That is not what it says here." Teyla said curiously.
"No, Beth was her nickname," he looked at the writing proclaiming the placement of Patrick Sheppard and his wife.
"Her name was Elizabeth."
"It is a lovely name," Teyla stated.
John nodded, "Yes, one for lovely people."
Teyla also nodded and they moved back to the vehicle; memories of other people coming to the surface.
xoxoxoxoxo xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxo
"Pull the stick toward you and you'll go up higher," John instructed T.J. as he sat in a little helicopter that was slowly going around in a circle. Hannah was on the one right behind him and she had already realized that the closer you moved the stick in your direction the higher the helicopter went.
But Torren simply thought it was cool that he was going around in a circle. John just laughed and shook his head as Teyla took another picture. T.J. got very excited all of a sudden and grabbed for the stick and the helicopter rose in the air. When he let go, the machine went down again. John saw the exact moment when he realized the correlation between what he was doing and what was happening.
When he got off, he immediately ran over to the adults and shouted, "Aden!"
Hannah seconded the request and John said, "Sure. There's no line so you might as well."
He looked at Tessa and Paul to make sure they were okay with it. They were just happy to be off their feet for a few minutes. They'd trudged around the park for a while hitting the rides that were appropriate for the little ones. A half hour ago, they had found this area where all the rides were just for the smallest of children. And luckily it wasn't very crowded.
"Okay, Pal, this time make sure you keep airborne for a while. If you fly too low you run a greater risk of getting shot down. And believe me, I can tell you from experience it's no fun."
The kids climbed in a helicopter again and John sat down on the bench with Paul while Tessa and Teyla waved to the little pilots.
"Where'd you go down?" Paul asked nodding his head in the direction of the helicopters.
"Afghanistan." John replied keeping his eye on Torren's beaming face.
"You get rescued right away?"
John sucked in a deep breath and said without emotion, "No. Not for a few weeks."
John swallowed hard at the memory. "It was hell."
Paul remained quiet after that, figuring no one wanted to share those kinds of memories. John settled back on the bench and waited for T.J. and Hannah to be done.
The kids spent another hour running from helicopters to boats to ponies to fire engines and the other collection of rides only they could fit on. By the time they were starting to sag, John knew he could use a nap as well.
He, Teyla and T.J. bought some food for a quick supper and said goodbye to Hannah and her parents. They had other plans for the evening and needed to get back home.
After eating, John hefted T.J. in his arms and strolled in a small circle for a while to get the child to fall asleep. Normally they wouldn't want him sleeping this late in the day but knew they planned on being here for a while and didn't want him crabby for the rest of the time.
John wanted to take Teyla and Torren on the Ferris Wheel but knew the best time to go on was after it got dark and the whole area was lit up. They could waste time until then.
Once T.J. was asleep, John sat down on the bench that Teyla was on and held the boy close. Teyla leaned on his shoulder and sighed.
"Torren has enjoyed himself immensely today, John. Thank you."
John turned so his face was mere inches from hers and asked, "What about you? Are you enjoying yourself?"
"Very much," Teyla replied. She thought about some of the rides that John had insisted she go on while Tessa and Paul had kept an eye on Torren; roller coaster, bumper cars, some other contraptions that went around very fast. They had returned the favor and had watched Hannah while her parents did the same.
She smiled when she remembered how John had spent a bit of time at the shooting gallery trying to win Torren a large bear. It had taken quite a few rounds for John to get enough points to win the big one he wanted.
The man running the event had looked at John suspiciously when he was hitting all the marks on the first try. Then he had seen his dog tags hanging out when John had leaned over and he had realized John was military.
"If I had known you were serving our country and keeping us safe, I would have just given you the bear," the man said when John pointed to the one he wanted.
"You gotta earn it," John replied with pride and handed the bear to Torren, whose eyes went wide when he saw the animal was almost as big as he was. It was now sitting in the umbrella stroller they had brought to haul Torren around and Torren was in John's lap.
Teyla smiled at John once again and he moved the last few inches and deposited a few kisses on her lips. Teyla closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of them there. She kept her head on John's shoulder and felt his arm go around hers. They stayed that way for a while, both of them perfectly happy to be sitting here like this, just the three of them.
"Daddy, we doe on a wide now?"
John nodded his head at the boy then looked at Teyla.
"Are you okay with that, Teyla?"
Teyla looked quizzically at him.
"T.J. calling me Daddy. I mean, Kanaan is …"
"Kanaan is Torren's father. You are his Daddy. Is there not a distinction on this world? I believe Julia showed me a shirt when we were shopping that said 'Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Daddy'. I believe you are that special man, John. And Torren very much needs a Daddy."
"Great!" John grinned then hefted the boy into his arms and pointed at the big circle in the air nearby.
"That's what we're going on. It's called a Ferris Wheel. It's my favorite thing to go on here. When you get to the top, you can see forever."
"We doe a top?" Torren's eyes were wider than ever.
John nodded again as they got in line. "But there's a rule for this ride. If you get stopped at the top, you need to give me a kiss."
He looked at Teyla and added, "Both of you."
Teyla smiled and wondered how many of the rules John claimed there were on this planet actually existed. But this one she did not mind in the least. She was more than happy to kiss him any time he asked.
Their turn came quickly and they settled in the seat with T.J. in the middle.
"You need to stay sitting, though, Pal, okay? If you stand up, it's very dangerous."
Eyes still wide, the young boy nodded but scooted closer to John's side. John put his right arm on the back of the bench seat, touching Teyla's shoulder and his left hand rested on T.J.
As the ride moved up and around, it stopped in several locations to allow more people to get on and off. John looked down and enjoyed the view. He pointed out a few sites to Teyla and T.J. and they seemed to relax a bit more as they started moving around continuously now that everyone had been boarded.
They went up and around and up and around for a good many minutes and then they started to disembark passengers. The second stop left them at the very top of the Ferris Wheel and John cleared his throat and reminded them of the rules.
He leaned down and T.J. looked up at him saying, "Here your tiss, Daddy." and his sweet lips touched John's briefly then he looked at his mother.
"Otay, Mama, da wule is you dotta tiss Daddy. So you needa tiss him."
"Well, if that is the rule, then I suppose I must." Teyla sounded resigned.
She leaned toward John and pressed her lips to his waiting ones. His hand pulled her shoulder closer and he increased the pressure. The big machine started moving again and they reluctantly broke apart.
"Is this why you like Ferris Wheels so much, John?"
"It wasn't," John replied. "But I think I like them even more now."
xoxoxoxoxoox xoxoxoxooxox xoxoxoxoxoxo
"Colonel Sheppard! It's great to see you!" Dr. Lambert called out as John entered his office.
The three of them were headed to the SGC today and wanted to say a last goodbye and thank you to everyone who'd had a hand in helping with his recovery.
Lambert put out his hand and shook John's as Teyla and T.J. moved in behind him.
"Teyla, it's nice to see you again. And this must be T.J.," Lambert reached out to ruffle the child's hair. "I didn't get a chance to meet him last time he was here."
Teyla greeted him back and said yes this was Torren.
He looked at John in his dress blues and commented, "Can I take it you report back for duty today?"
"Yeah, we're on our way to the airport. I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for everything you did for me. I know I was a little hesitant at first but I have to admit I think … maybe … it was kind of helpful. And I appreciate that."
John lifted a long thin bag from a larger one on the floor and handed it to the doctor. "Just a little gesture of appreciation."
Lambert pulled out the elegant bottle and exclaimed, "This is my favorite wine. I can't believe you remembered that. I think I only mentioned it once. But Colonel, I'm not supposed to accept gifts from patients."
"I'm not your patient anymore, Doc, so it's not a problem," John reminded him. "Or you can just say it's from Teyla. She was never your patient."
Lambert thanked him again and wished him good luck. "If you're ever back on Earth and you need someone to listen or to talk to, remember, I'm here."
"Thanks, Doc. I will remember that."
They moved toward the elevator and went up to the second floor. Luckily Helen was sitting at the desk finishing up some paperwork. She noticed their approach right away and rushed over to meet them.
T.J. held up his arms and yelled, "Hi!"
Helen scooped him up and gave him a big hug.
He kissed her cheek and announced, "We dot you fowers!"
John reached into the large bag he was carrying and pulled out a few bouquets of roses.
"These are for you," he told Helen then called out to the younger woman still at the desk. "Gina."
Gina looked surprised and exclaimed, "For me? Thank you so much!"
"No, it's me who should be saying thank you," John addressed both women. "You were so great while I was here and I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the support."
Teyla cocked her head and added, "We appreciate the support."
"Are Rosie, Mary and Lisa around? I already gave some to Tammy and Kristy downstairs."
"Did Josh get flowers, too? I'm sure he'd love them," Helen asked.
"I got him a case of beer," John answered and took the bag that Teyla was holding.
"Actually it's right here. Can I leave it behind the desk? I plan on going down to the therapy room after this but I'm not sure he'll want it lying around."
"That's fine," Gina assured him as Helen finished paging the others.
John handed them another bouquet and said, "These are for the night staff. Tell Donna, Polly and Michelle they'll have to share."
Helen nodded. "Lisa's with a new patient downstairs so I think you'll have to go to her but here are Mary and Rosie now,"
Helen turned and saw the two women coming toward the nurse's station.
"Colonel Sheppard!" They both greeted as they got in distance.
"We wished to thank you for all you have done for John while he was here," Teyla said as John handed them their flowers.
"I wouldn't have made it through without you," John pointed out. "I really appreciate all the time and effort you gave me."
"You put all the effort in," Rosie replied a few tears leaking from her eyes. "We just told you what to do."
John smiled at the tough-as-grizzle woman who was now trying to keep herself from crying. He reached out and gave her a big hug.
"I don't care what they say," he indicated the nurses behind him, "I think your husband's lucky to have you."
Mary and Gina got hugs as well and Helen told them she was taking her morning break and would walk them down to find Lisa. Torren insisted he hold her hand as they went and Helen's eyes got misty, too.
They found Lisa with Josh just finishing up with a patient. John walked over and shook the man's hand.
"Hey, I just wanted to say thank you for all that you did for me. I appreciate the effort and for pushing me as much as you did. You got me back to active duty much quicker than anyone expected."
Josh just laughed. "Colonel, I don't think anyone pushed you anywhere near as much as you pushed yourself. I've never seen anybody work so hard in my life for a goal. But I honestly think your motivation is standing right behind you."
He indicated Teyla and Torren who were chatting with Lisa.
John just grinned. "You're probably right. Uh, there's a little something I left for you near the second floor nurse's station. You might want to make sure Gina doesn't take it. She had her eye on it."
They shook hands again and John turned toward Lisa who already had flowers in her hand.
"Thank you, Lisa, for being there for me every day. You don't know how much I really appreciate it."
Lisa's eye narrowed. "Enough to pay off my son's braces, I'll wager. The orthodontist office told me someone came in and settled his whole bill. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
John shrugged his shoulders and made a face. "Don't know what you're talking about."
"Colonel," Lisa started to complain but John cut her off.
"Listen, I'm a Colonel with twenty years of service. That's not pocket change. Plus where I'm stationed I have no need of a mortgage, a car, I wear black T-shirts most of the time. There's not a lot to spend it on. And the malls aren't real close by. So don't worry about it. Not that I'm admitting to anything, mind you."
Lisa just laughed and said, "Then thank you."
They chatted for a few more minutes then Josh said he had another patient coming in. Hugs and handshakes were given all around and Colonel Sheppard and his family left.
"Well, now it's back to trying to get these people to actually put in an effort," Josh commented. "I'm gonna miss that man's stamina."
Helen just grinned. "But I'll bet Teyla won't."
They all just smiled.
xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxox xoxoxoxoxo
"You're all set and clear to go through, Colonel," Dr. Lee announced to Sheppard after they'd been hanging around the Midway Station for twelve hours. It hadn't been as bad as he'd expected. He, Teyla and T.J. had tucked themselves into one of the rooms and attempted to stay away from Lee and Kavanaugh as much as possible.
They'd kept Torren awake for the first half of the time, skipping the nap he normally would have had so he would sleep more the second half. Atlantis time was a bit different and they would be arriving there around 0h nine hundred. John and Teyla had tried to rest a bit, too, during the last few hours there. Of course, T.J. could actually take a nap if he was tired throughout the day but John knew he had work to do.
This was especially brought home when he badgered Kavanaugh into letting him see the latest batch of mission and status reports that had gone through to the SGC from Atlantis. John had spent much of the Midway time catching up on what had been going on in his beloved city. And some of the things he wasn't happy about.
It sounded like Armstrong had done quite a bit of rearranging while he'd been gone. Teams, shifts, duty rosters, protocols, all of that stuff had been altered in some way. And not for the better as far as John could see. This man obviously had no idea about some of the complexities of the Pegasus Galaxy and her inhabitants. He was trying to run the base like it was still on Earth.
John started to get nervous and old insecurities grew bigger the closer the time got to step through the gate to Atlantis. How would her denizens greet him back? Would they welcome him or be so used to Armstrong's way of doing things that they didn't want him to return. Teyla insisted everyone was very excited about his arrival but then he thought she might be a little biased.
He took a deep breath and picked up his large duffel bag. He felt a little over dressed in his formal uniform but he had no BDU's with him and thought the uniform might help him with his confidence level. He felt like a Military Commander.
"Thanks Dr. Lee, Kavanaugh, always a pleasure," he said but tried to keep the sarcasm from coming through too much.
Teyla hefted the few bags she had, hers and Torren's, and moved closer to the gate as the chevrons started to glow. T.J. only had his big bear in his arms but still put them up to John and whined to be picked up. He never really liked to walk through the Stargate on his own. John figured they'd have to work on that.
He leaned down and swung the child onto his hip, took a deep breath and walked through the gate with Teyla only a step behind him. The sight that greeted his eyes took his breath away for a minute.
The gate room was filled to capacity!
Soldiers, scientists, medical staff all lined the room, the stairs and even the balconies. It was so overwhelming John didn't even notice when the gate shut down behind him.
Suddenly the soldiers all gave a smart salute and then a thunderous applause echoed through the cavernous space. T.J. wiggled in his arms and John absentmindedly lowered him to the floor. His eyes continued to scan the area.
Ronon, Rodney, Jennifer, Zalenka and Lorne were all standing right in front of him. Woolsey was on the balcony outside his office.
Lorne took a step forward, gave another respectful salute and said, "Welcome back, Colonel. It's really good to see you."
John swallowed hard and tried to speak. He wasn't sure if he would be able to; his emotions were on overload at the moment.
He cleared his throat and finally managed, "Thank you, Major. Was this your doing?" He motioned to the overcrowded room.
"No, Sir," Lorne smiled. "Just a few people who missed you and wanted to welcome you back."
The others standing nearby came over and shook his hand in greeting.
"It's about damn time, Sheppard."
"It is good to see you again, Colonel."
"I'm glad to see you proved me wrong."
"Oh, thank God you're back."
They greeted Teyla back, too, but then John noticed a large, well built man about ten years his senior walking his way. He was wearing the casual version of the dress uniform, not BDU's like the rest of the military on base. His hair was cropped and his face stern. This had to be Armstrong.
John could feel a hurricane brewing in his stomach and started feeling totally inadequate next to this man. Maybe they had all missed him but how would they react when he took over again. Had they liked this man's no-nonsense approach and attitude better?
"Colonel Sheppard, this is Colonel Armstrong," Lorne introduced.
John put out his hand in greeting and felt the more-than-firm grip of the other officer, almost as if he were competing for a prize. Was the prize Atlantis?
John looked around at the faces of the people in the gate room, especially the military personnel and saw the excitement and acceptance of his return. He saw the respect in their eyes. These were his people. This was his city. He felt the familiar energy run through him that he always got when he returned home to this place.
Home! He was home! This is where he belonged. His confidence started returning gradually then all of a sudden flooded him with its strength. This was home!
"Colonel Armstrong," John said. "Thanks for watching over Atlantis while I was gone."
"You're welcome, Colonel," Armstrong returned brusquely then continued, "I mentioned to the SGC that it might be a good idea for me to stay around for a few weeks to help you transition back. I'm sure you're tired from your travel and need some rest."
John glanced around the room again and felt his courage and strength grow even stronger.
"I appreciate the offer, Colonel, but I've been resting for more than six months. I need to get to work. If you want to hang around for a few days to give me a hand; I'm sure I could use the help."
He looked one last time at the crowd. "But for right now I have work to do. And I'm sure the rest of you have work to do too, so get to it!"
The assembled group started dissipating until only a few key personnel were left.
"Major Lorne," Sheppard called. "I want to meet with all off world teams at some point today starting at thirteen hundred hours. I need you to set this up and provide me with a schedule. I want a data pad available with mission logs dating back the last few months sorted by team to refer to when I meet with them. We'll use the conference room."
Sheppard started walking up the stairs and was met by Richard Woolsey at the top.
"Colonel, it's good to see you up and about again. Welcome back."
"Thank you, Mr. Woolsey. It's good to be back. Now we need to discuss the trade agreement with the Menarians. Teyla tells me they recently had an earthquake that contaminated much of their water supply. I think I've got an idea how to help them."
He turned around and addressed Rodney and Radek who had followed him up the stairs. "I need you two to pull a few of the water filtration units out of that old damaged part of the city, south of the tower. I think you said the units weren't actually damaged, right?"
"No," Zalenka replied. "They are still able to work but they are not getting power to them."
"Great! See if you can hook them up to a portable generator. We'll need them ready by tomorrow morning."
John looked back toward Woolsey. "I already asked Teyla to set up a meeting with Smeeden for that time. We need the Menarians on our side when it comes to Coalition matters. And we need them desperately for our food supply."
"Colonel Sheppard," Armstrong interrupted. "The Menarians are asking for a two week commitment of labor from our people during their harvest. I've already said we can't afford to lose that kind of manpower for that long."
John turned around and faced Armstrong head on. "The Menarians are our biggest supplier of fresh produce. If we don't make this agreement, we don't have enough food to feed those soldiers you're so worried about. So if we need to turn a dozen or so Marines into farmers for a few weeks, then that's what we do!"
Woolsey let out an audible sigh and said, "I'll start drafting a new agreement to include the water filtration system." He turned and walked toward his office.
Sheppard strode toward the control room and greeted the techs sitting there. They all stood at attention as soon as he got near.
"Welcome back, Sir." Chuck said enthusiastically and shook the Colonel's hand.
Amelia seconded that greeting and added, "We're glad you were able to recover quicker than expected."
"Thanks, Can you bring up the long range sensors? I just want to see what 's going on in the neighborhood."
The screen in front of him came on with blips and lights and Sheppard pointed to a few dots.
"How long has this hive ship been on here?"
"It showed up yesterday." Amelia reported. "But the trajectory doesn't bring it anywhere near Atlantis, Sir."
"Yeah, I see that. But what about this planet? McKay, is there anything in the database about it?"
Rodney tapped a few keys on the console in front of him. "Ah, … yes, it's called Fridonis. Apparently there's a small settlement on it."
"Teyla," John addressed the woman who had also followed him up the stairs. "Have you heard of it?"
Teyla shifted Torren to her other hip and responded, "Yes, my people have traded with them on occasion. They are simple, nomadic people, like mine. Is there a problem?"
"The Wraith will be passing pretty close by in about two or three days. We should probably give them a head's up and see if we can relocate them, at least until after the Hive Ship has passed by."
Armstrong cleared his throat. "Colonel, we can't save every planet in this galaxy from the Wraith. We don't have enough manpower. It's a foolish mission."
"We have more than enough manpower to send one team to give a warning," Sheppard informed him. "And every time we help someone out, it's a potential ally in our fight against the Wraith. Lorne,"
Sheppard turned toward his 2IC and ordered, "Get a team together and send them to New Athos to pick up Halling. He usually has success in getting people to evacuate. Then get them to this Fridonis ASAP before the Wraith send down ships to start culling."
"Yes, Sir!" Lorne snapped crisply and moved out of the room.
"Colonel, I must object," Armstrong protested. But before he could finish what he was going to say, Sheppard held up his hand.
"You can object all you want, Colonel. But the fact remains that I was put back on active duty as of twelve hours ago. And the second I walked through that gate it put me back in command. I appreciate any assistance or information you want to provide but as of right now … this is my city."
Richard Woolsey watched from his balcony as Sheppard continued to check displays and give orders. He could tell Colonel Armstrong wasn't happy about this turnover in power but Richard didn't care. He was glad Sheppard was back. He thought Atlantis was glad, too. He was never one for fanciful thinking but he could have sworn the lights seemed to be shining a little brighter, more powerful, once the Colonel had walked back in.
He continued to watch the hustle and bustle of the control room and knew John Sheppard was where he was supposed to be.
He gave a quiet little smile and whispered, "Welcome back, Colonel. It's good to have you home again!"
thanks to all who stuck it out. Hope it was worth it!