"Incoming wormhole!" Chuck announced. "It's the Midway Station, Colonel."
Carter reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear, pulled down on her uniform jacket and quickly moved toward the stairs. She hoped she looked all right. When that thought crossed her mind she almost rolled her eyes. She had never worried about her appearance much before but she wanted to look good for those coming in.
The wormhole engaged and then settled and a few seconds later the blue rippled like a stone thrown on water and three figures emerged. Actually she guessed it really was four if you counted the baby.
She chuckled as she saw the variety of bags and paraphernalia John and Teyla had brought back but she figured they'd most likely need it and Atlantis didn't really have many 'Babies R Us' nearby. But she really chuckled when she saw the distinguished gray haired man pushing the baby stroller that was also loaded down with goodies.
"General O'Neill," Carter greeted him first, trying so hard not to run into his arms. She had missed him since she had been stationed here. "It's good to see you again, Sir."
"Carter," O'Neill grinned like a little kid and looked at all the people around knowing he'd probably need to control the urge he had to take Carter into his arms and kiss the daylights out of her. It had been too damn long. And the excuse he had made for coming here was very thin. Luckily he thought Hank suspected what was going on and had happily approved the visit.
"John, Teyla," Carter greeted the couple as they handed the bags and stroller to the nearby SO's. "Everything went okay with your PT, John?"
John moved his arm up and down and swung it around, attempting not to wince when he swung a bit too enthusiastically. "Better than it had been. I still need to do exercises for quite a while but the Doc said it looked much better and I'll need to return in six months to make sure it's back to Military standards."
Carter nodded and John hefted Torren in the seat. He had requested a few weeks off from Landry and O'Neill when he had gotten to the SGC and had even filed the requisite paperwork so there could be no slip ups. Then he had whipped out a quick e-mail to his Dad saying he had gotten the Christmas weeks off. He should have that by the time he got home from the airport. He certainly couldn't accuse John of not sending word soon enough.
He looked around the gate room and asked, "Where's McKay and Ronon? I kind of thought they'd be here to meet us."
Carter smiled. "You're a few minutes early and it's lunch time. You know McKay can't go without his food for that long. Ronon was with him. I'm sure they'll be coming soon."
And sure enough footsteps echoed along the outer corridor and McKay huffed into the enormous room followed by the large Satedan.
"Wait!" Rodney cried. "You're early. You weren't supposed to be here until," and he looked at his watch, "thirty seconds from now. How come no one told us you were here?"
"We just arrived, Rodney," Teyla informed him.
Ronon trotted over and slapped John on the back and bellowed, "Welcome back, Sheppard. You all better now?"
John just smiled and nodded. No sense telling Ronon that his injury might take a bit longer to heal completely. He'd just call him a girl and make fun of him.
Ronon now moved and gave Teyla a great big bear hug then grabbed the infant seat and examined the baby who was asleep again.
"He got big in just three weeks, huh?" Ronon's eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "What the heck did you feed this kid?"
"Steak, potatoes, you know, good American food," John chuckled.
Rodney looked up horrified. "Steak and potatoes. How the heck did he eat that stuff? He doesn't have any teeth yet, does he?"
Rodney then looked at Teyla and John's disbelieving faces and said, "Oh, you're just kidding me, aren't you? Well har, har. Are you guys still enamored of that kid? You haven't gotten sick of him yet?"
Pretty much everyone in the room rolled their eyes then Carter said, "Hate to break up this party but you know protocol. The infirmary."
She looked at O'Neill and said, "I think I'll escort you down, just to make sure myself that everything's okay."
As they walked, Ronon and Rodney bombarded John and Teyla with a million questions while Jack and Sam lagged a bit behind. Jack snuck his hand into Sam's and gave her a quick tug, just long enough to press a few kisses onto her waiting lips. They thought Teyla had seen but Sam hardly cared. John and Teyla had a kid together; hopefully a few stolen kisses wouldn't be seen as too big a scandal. And Jack was a General, who was going to argue with him here in Atlantis?
The group ahead of them entered the infirmary and Jack pulled on Sam's hand to halt her progress inside. "The Doc will be busy with our little family unit. We've got time."
Jack turned his head and perused the corridor to find it remarkably empty. "And look, no one around. We should probably take advantage of that, Colonel Carter, don't you think?"
Sam glanced around her and checked to be sure he was correct in his assessment of their privacy. "I think you might be right, General."
Jack chuckled and pulled her close. "Don't you know by now, Carter, that Generals are always right? It's the only reason I'm still in the damn Military. Now don't make me order you to kiss me again. You know how I hate to be the boss."
Sam's eyes filled with mischief. "Oh, I don't know about that, Jack. I remember a few times that you really enjoyed being the boss. Like that time we used Landry's little hunting cabin and you…"
O'Neill covered her lips again with his then chuckled. "I thought we weren't going to mention that again in public. Although I will admit it was kind of fun having you be so submissive. You never were when I was your commander."
"Come on," Carter pushed him toward the infirmary door again. "Let's get this check-up over with and maybe I'll let you reenact that little scenario again."
Jack breathed in a deep breath and Sam saw him almost shiver with anticipation. He grabbed her hand and entered through the door. He looked at Sam's mischievous face and said, "You're on."
"You ready to go, Pal?" John said to Torren as he tucked him in his carrier and handed him a rattle for the trip. Teyla joined him as they headed for the main tower and John continued to tell him what they were doing.
"We're going to see all our friends on Dimitta. We'll see Shalise, she's the one who delivered you. And we'll see Finn and Tenyse and their kids. I know you don't really remember them but Kelina used to come watch you quite a bit when we lived there, just to give me and Mommy a few minutes to ourselves. And we'll see Bessa and Shuntar and hopefully Timnis will be there and not off gallivanting with his new mountain girlfriend again. They're all really nice people and your Mom and I have missed them in the past month and a half."
Teyla hefted the diaper bag more firmly on her shoulder and touched John's arm. "It will be lovely to see them again. They truly did become an important part of our lives."
John nodded and smiled down at her. There were times in the past three weeks since they had returned to Atlantis that he had wondered about their decision in leaving Dimitta. They had been really happy there and the thoughts usually came when he was pulling double duties and putting out fires from cranky, egotistical scientists or because the Wraith were culling some place they were at and they needed to evacuate.
But he also wondered what it would have been like if they had stayed on Earth and where he would have been stationed. He had just received an e-mail from his Dad a week ago saying they were missed and he'd gotten one from Dave saying Dad was being pretty good with the diet, exercise and medications but that Dave was also constantly badgering him if he didn't. He had returned to work but Dave and Carol were making sure he left each day by four in the afternoon and surprisingly he hadn't given them any hassle about it.
John grew concerned with that, knowing his Dad never left work early and he must be really tired or weak. But he knew he could trust Dave to keep an eye out for him. And he was also trying to deal with the new feeling of actually missing his family. It wasn't a huge ache but just the fact that it was there at all was pretty surprising. He was really looking forward to going back at Christmas.
John held the baby up to his face as they entered the jumper bay and asked once again, "So are you all ready to go?"
"Do you really expect him to answer you?" Rodney snorted entering the jumper as well. "I mean the kid's what, … a couple months old?"
"He is now four months," Teyla replied as she settled herself in the back and strapped Torren onto the bench.
"Yah, whatever," Rodney said and sat in the copilot's chair in front next to John.
Jennifer showed up a minute later with Ronon carrying as many bags as she was. She would be spending a few days in town instructing Shalise on the use of many of their medicines and equipment. This was her second trip and she had enjoyed the company of the woman immensely the first time and was looking forward to it again. And this time she wouldn't have to keep answering the continuous round of questions about Teyla and Sheppard.
Teyla and John had volunteered to fly her there and had insisted they stay as well. Rodney was going to help with a few of the devices he had given them plans for in helping their mills and factories to work more productively. Ronon was just coming along as a pack mule but he got to spend time with his best friends so he didn't really care about hauling things around. He'd never admit it but he really missed these two during their year long absence.
Everyone got settled in their seats and John started the preflight. As he tuned in to the jumper and mentally gave her instructions then informed Atlantis what they were doing, he knew why he had come back here. His connection to the city and his feeling of welcome and unconditional acceptance just hummed through his veins. That along with the looks of respect and admiration he got from his troops and the feeling of accomplishment when they actually saved a village from the Wraith. Yeah, those were amazingly strong and he knew he couldn't get them quite like that anywhere but here.
Luckily he also had friends like Ronon and Rodney and of course Teyla and TJ. They were his family. And his wife and his son were also his heart and soul and inspiration for all that he did. They were the reason he did it. He wouldn't have it any other way.
He contacted the control room and within minutes they were soaring above the skies of Dimitta and shortly after they were landing behind Finn and Tenyse's house. Finn and Tenyse weren't the only ones who were there waiting though. About a dozen people came pouring out of the building and John, Teyla and Torren were surrounded in seconds with hugs and kisses and slaps on the back.
"It is so good to see you all again," Teyla cried as she gave Tenyse an especially long embrace. "We have missed you all so much."
John looked to see if Ronon and Rodney were feeling left out but Shuntar had already gotten Rodney in a discussion on some of the machinery he wanted to work on the next few days and Ronon was giving Zeth lessons in some form of combat. Jennifer was listing all the things she had brought along to Shalise and Shalise was standing there wide eyed and almost in tears at the possibilities.
A huge banquet had been arranged in the community building for that night and Rodney was in his glory tasting all the unique dishes. John made sure to make the rounds and touch base with all he could. He spent a good deal of time teasing Tim about his new friend and getting the details on the relationship.
Teyla hardly saw Torren as he was passed around for all to hold, especially Bessa. She was thrilled to be able to share him with these people again. They had been instrumental in bringing she and John out of the dark hole they had almost crawled into when they had managed to escape the slavers and then get stranded here.
John moved to her side and draped his arm around her shoulder as she stood smiling at the reveling crowd. He knew exactly what she was thinking and feeling.
"I am pleased we are back in Atlantis and are able to come here at times. I think I would be quite sad if we had been unable to return to this place. There are many memories here and I feel this place helped us immensely in our healing process.
John hated to think of that short time that she was talking about but he also knew this place was key in helping them to forgive themselves and forget all the horrors they had experienced. And they had done it together.
John moved behind her and wrapped her in his arms, holding her tight. She leaned her head against his shoulder and he tilted his head to kiss her cheek. "Mmm, I do have a lot of very nice memories of this place. It's where you told me you were having my baby and where I first felt him move and where he was born. That isn't something you forget."
Teyla took his hands and moved them to her flat stomach. "Then perhaps this is the perfect place to tell you that we will be having another baby in approximately eight months."
John's arms tightened around her and his fingers spread across her belly. "Really?" he breathed excitedly and Teyla could feel his radiant energy flowing into her. She knew he would be ecstatic. She was also happy when Jennifer informed her about it just this morning.
John looked out at the crowd of friends from Atlantis and Dimitta and loved the thought that now his Atlantis family could help celebrate the coming of another child. He leaned down and kissed Teyla's cheek again and whispered in her ear.
"I just know this one's gonna be a girl. And she's gonna wear … pigtails!"
I want to thank all the wonderful people who left such great reviews.
And a special thank you goes out to Wisconsinrocks who provided much great medical and PT information. Very much appreciated.