There’s dead silence. It was not the reaction Woolsey had been hoping for but he is determined to get it as he ignores the looks of Sheppard’s team and extends a warm greeting to the new arrival.
“Welcome to Atlantis, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Kenmore falters.
She walks slowly past Sheppard and his team, to Woolsey’s desk. With each step, John can see whole new sets of muscles in her body tense, even underneath the BDUs.
“I was not trained for Atlantis. I did not sign up for Atlantis. What the hell am I doing in Atlantis,” she builds from whatever calm she had had to thoroughly pissed and shouts her final words at him.
Holy crap is the first thing to come across Sheppard’s mind.
Woolsey’s smile disappears.
“You signed up for this I assure you.”
“Really,” Kenmore doesn’t believe him.
She leans on Woolsey’s desk. Woolsey pulls one of the papers out of one of the many neat and tidy piles on his desk and hands it to Kenmore. She reads it and gains the same shock on her face Sheppard had had.
“You signed up for this,” Woolsey reiterates, “I assure you.”
Kenmore looks up at him.
“But I signed up for SG-4, maybe a higher ranking position on SG-5.”
Woolsey gets to his feet, “You should really read the fine print.”
Kenmore turns and snaps her orders out of Sheppard’s hands. Well John could have done without that. She shows the paper to Woolsey.
“What fine print? It’s as plain as day.”
Richard points at a small line at the bottom of the writing, a line Kenmore had signed above, “There.”
Kenmore looks at it.
“That’s a line. You sign above it. It doesn’t say anything.”
Woolsey’s secret-keeping smile returns. He opens the right drawer of his desk, reaches in, pulls a magnifying glass out, and hands it to Kenmore as he finally leaves the safety of behind his desk. She gives him a suspicious look, but puts the glass to the paper. She keeps her head down. She doesn’t want him to know it, but she can’t believe her eyes. The line isn’t a line. Instead she sees tiny letters confirming what Woolsey had said. A secret transfer slipped in right under her nose—or in this case, right underneath her name.
“What the hell is this,” she snaps at him without looking up.
“The fine print.”
“So, what, you’ve got a sleigh and a team of reindeer up on the roof for me?”
Woolsey ignores her and heads for the door, but Sheppard puts a hand to Woolsey’s chest to stop him. The Commanders meet each other’s eyes.
“We don’t need her,” Sheppard says.
“She doesn’t want you,” Kenmore pipes up.
Sheppard looks at her.
“Well at least we’re on the same page.”
Kenmore nods at him and Sheppard returns his gaze to Woolsey.
“It’s not really your call, Colonel,” Woolsey informs him, “You do need her and she is your fifth.”
No one looks pleased with the exception of Woolsey, but it’s a tie for first in who looks the unhappiest: Kenmore or Sheppard. John just might be winning, he really has to hold himself in and so does the rest of his team, but where John is barely succeeding, some of the other members of his team aren’t quite so successful.
“We don’t need a fifth,” Ronon pipes up darkly.
“I don’t see what the problem is. SG-1 took on Vala Mal Doran and it turned out quite nicely,” Woolsey tries to smooth.
“Who is Vala Mal Doran,” Teyla asks. And John had to remind himself that the last time Vala Mal Doran had come to Atlantis, Teyla had not been in the city at the time. She had been with her people. She had not met the woman in question at all, heard her name tossed around perhaps through conversation, but had never actually met her.
“SG-1’s fifth,” Kenmore answers, “And she was a conartist with warrants out for her arrest and death sentences all over the Milky Way. She came to us seeking sanctuary.”
“And you took her in,” Teyla asks, not quite understanding the logic and not quite believing it. She was proud of human compassion, but with all the effort and work it took for the IOA to accept her and Ronon when there was truly no strikes to be held against them to join the Atlantis Expedition, she was more than a little shocked to hear that this Vala Mal Doran woman was accepted despite all the claims against her.
“Yeah, she had useful information and artifacts she’d stolen to give us.”
Teyla nods at the Lieutenant, finally understanding that it was merely a trade, a very high-stakes trade, but a trade nonetheless. Her people dealt in trades, although perhaps they would not have taken this one. If they had known who the Genii really were, they would not have set up a trading relationship with them.
Woolsey looks uncomfortable at Kenmore’s words.
“Yes, well the circumstances of Miss Mal Doran’s entrance into the SGC aside, she has proven to be an incredible asset to her team—“
“Yeah, thieves are handy that way,” Kenmore cuts him off.
Woolsey’s frown is the only sign that he acknowledges Kenmore’s statement, but otherwise he ignores her comment, “and I didn’t see why such a success could not come here to Atlantis.”
“We’ve been successful enough on our own.”
Woolsey looks unconvincingly at Ronon.
“Forgive me Ronon, but there is always room for improvement.”
Ronon starts towards Woolsey, but Sheppard puts out an arm to stop his friend. Not before Woolsey retreats slightly at Ronon’s imposing figure. That was another thing Ronon had fallen back on, physically challenging anybody whose opinions he didn’t particularly agree with. It was the one thing that had bugged the crap out of John when Ronon first joined the team. He kept having to make everything an order for the big guy, even when John and the rest of the team had been bound and trapped in a shack and had had to make the comment that he couldn’t have even ordered a pizza but if the big Satedan needed anything and everything to be an order, fine it’s an order. Eventually Ronon got over the order thing and learned to trust John’s judgment as well as the rest of the team’s. But with Amelia gone, Ronon had slid back into the nasty habit. Ignoring the Satedan’s aggression or perhaps piggybacking off of it, the new Lieutenant Kenmore pipes up.
“You can’t put me on this team. The minute you put me on this team you’re saying this team isn’t good enough anymore, that they aren’t working. That the next time they go through that gate there’s a pretty darn good chance that one of them might not be coming back.”
Woolsey looks at her.
“That may be the case.”
Sheppard starts at this, there was absolutely no call for that, but Kenmore steps forward with a rage that seems more than required for the situation to Sheppard’s way of thinking.
“There is always a chance they’ll come back,” she roars.
Everyone eyes her in silence. Sheppard knows all too well the SGC’s motto of ‘No man left behind’ and the fervor by which the military members of the SGC, himself included, lived by the saying, but Kenmore’s explosion at the mere hint of someone getting left back was more than any Sheppard could muster. Although truth be told, since the death of the Expedition’s original military leader, Colonel Sumner, the hard loss of Lieutenant Aiden Ford, the self-sacrifice of Doctor Elizabeth Weir which John took even harder, and every other loss this Expedition had ever suffered, John felt like he could have the same sort of rage in him, knew it actually, but he’d never let it get far enough for an outburst like that.
Major Lorne walks up to the door behind them all. He takes stock of the tense situation for a moment then knocks on the glass. The tension doesn’t exactly abate but everyone’s attention shifts to him.
“Hey Urs, didn’t know you were here,” Lorne smiles.
The first thing that Sheppard notices is how warm and genuine the Major’s smile is. He’s never seen Lorne give anybody that look and the man downright coos at Torren. Well it’s clear that the Major knew the Lieutenant pretty well, at least well enough to know her nickname. Urs? Now the truth would truly be told if the woman returned the sentiment. Sheppard looks at her. Kenmore looks uncomfortable, but answers.
“Yeah Lorie, didn’t know myself.”
Lorie? Okay, she at least acknowledged his familiarity. But still…Lorie? His nickname is Lorie?
Lorne presses on.
“Guess who I found in the Command Center?”
When she doesn’t answer, Lorne steps aside to reveal a five-year old boy hiding behind him, with definitely not Kenmore’s hair. The kid’s was blonde, but definitely her eyes, startling bright brown things—Sheppard pauses for a moment, he hadn’t realized that he’d noticed the unwelcomed woman’s eyes like that. He’s dressed in makeshift SGC gear. Clearly Stargate Command wasn’t used to the transportation of children let alone keeping them around long enough that they would need clothing courtesy of the SGC. Kenmore starts towards the little boy.
“Oh my God, Michael,” Sheppard felt his heart start at the name and felt his body go simultaneously numb; the little boy is named Michael, “I told you to stay with our luggage. What did you think you were doing?”
The team shoots each other looks. John could only imagine what fresh hell Teyla was going through. Michael Kenmore. Yep, this wasn’t funny, not that it really had been before.
“I was bored so I followed you,” the little boy says.
“Really? So how did Mommy end up here and you ended up there,” Kenmore points behind the child to the darkened Command Center filled with consoles and Atlantis personnel. There was a staffer sitting at each and every one of the consoles, some of them observing the hustle and bustle in the gateroom down below, and there were even a few staffers standing in front of wall displays analyzing data. Some ran into the center, consulted with one or more of those present, then ran back out again.
Mommy, it was hard to think of their Michael Kenmore having a mother. Sheppard shook himself. This little boy was not their Michael Kenmore despite the name.
The boy looks back into the Command Center and takes the moment to think of an answer. He looks back at his mother.
“I couldn’t keep up,” he tries.
Kenmore crosses her arms over her chest and gives the boy a downright patented The Look. The Mommy Look that says I’m not buying a single word your saying. It was a look Sheppard knew Teyla hadn’t mastered yet because Torren was still so young why would she and the little guy could smile or coo and melt her in a heartbeat, but Kenmore had it down. John felt the urge to shift under the sheer presence of The Look. The woman’s Mommy Look reminded him of his mother’s. And he remembered being the one the patented subdued glare was aimed directly at on more than one occasion.
“Nice try,” she tells her son. And John silently agreed, That was weak.
Michael immediately descends into any child’s response to the Look: pleading whining.
“But Mom, I’m hungry.”
Now that one she might actually buy.
Michael nods. Kenmore looks at Lorne. Lorne catches on to the frustration brewing on her face. It wasn’t that difficult for him to see, the woman’s eyes were pleading and her eyebrows looked nanoseconds away from furrowing in distress.
“Can you…,” she trails off and Lorne starts to nod his head.
“I can take him to get something.”
“Thank you.” Her eyes were relieved and maybe her brows too, but the muscles in her shoulders were still tense and that spoke volumes on what might be to come when her son was no longer in sight of her.
Lorne takes Michael’s hand and leads the little boy away. Kenmore watches them go. She’s so attentive to every step of their way. It’s a mother’s gut reaction. Sheppard’s seen Teyla do it every single time Kanaan walks away from her carrying their son in his arms. Of course that was with the full knowledge and memory of the time their Michael Kenmore had taken control of the city and had targeted and hunted down both Teyla and the child in particular for the baby boy’s DNA and his mother’s company. As soon as Lorne and the kid were out of sight, Kenmore looks away and rubs the bridge of her nose. The tension returns to its previous visibility. Yep, John had pegged that one right.
“God I’ll feel better about this when I get him into school,” she’s says out loud, more to herself than to anyone else actually in the room. But…
McKay starts at this, “There is no school here.” Sheppard can’t help but notice Richard slowly beginning to back further away from Kenmore in retreat to the relative safety of his Command desk again.
Kenmore’s head shoots up, “What?”
Woolsey immediately turns to go but Kenmore reaches an arm out behind her without looking and manages to flawlessly latch onto the back of Woolsey’s collar and uses his forward momentum to jerk the man to a jolting stop. Sheppard doesn’t nod but he admires the tactic. However his admiration is short-lived.
Kenmore breaks into a smile that borders on practically hysterical. And John feels the urge to back away from her himself. McKay looks scared by its bizarre joviality but answers anyway.
“We don’t have a school here.”
Kenmore starts giggling, McKay backs up and positions himself slightly behind Teyla. Kenmore deteriorates into laughter as she turns to face Woolsey. He looks into her face. Suddenly the laughter is gone but the frighteningly perky, beaming smile remains.
“They told me there was a school here.”
Suddenly the smile is gone too. She lets go of him and roars in his face.
“They told me there was a school here!”
“They also told you you were still in the Milky Way Galaxy,” Woolsey adds.
That was stupid. In a rush, Kenmore draws her gun from her hip and points it at Woolsey. Sheppard yanks his hands out of his pockets but he’s not fast enough to do anything more than that. He hadn’t expected her to be that fast. Frankly, he hadn’t expected her to draw period. Whenever anyone else gets pissed at Woolsey, they usually just thought about drawing their pistol, they never actually did it. Their revenge usually amounted to taking an extraordinarily long time getting their reports to him, which drove the pencil-pusher satisfyingly nuts until the paper-filled manila folders were in his hands or on neatly placed on his desk. And besides, John didn’t have his gun with him, that didn’t mean he wasn’t armed though. Woolsey practically leaps back away from her.
“You can’t do that,” his frightened voice warbles.
Kenmore stares him down.
“Do you honestly think anybody in this room’s gonna stop me?”
Sheppard takes the consideration. Maybe he might. He glances over at the rest of his team. Rodney is now fully hidden behind Teyla, seeing as how Teyla stepped forward to try and protect Woolsey herself, and, like Sheppard, had been caught offgaurd by Kenmore’s lashing out. So Rodney wasn’t going to stop her and neither was Teyla but ‘maybe’ was definitely in Teyla’s category. Ronon had his hand on his gun. Okay, so Ronon would beat them all to it if it came to that. Sheppard looks back at Woolsey’s situation. Yeah, they were good. They could stop her…if they had to.
Suddenly klaxons Kenmore has never heard before begin to blare. She looks around.
“What the hell is that?”
Woolsey takes the opportunity, which Sheppard thought was both a good call and a lucky one given the circumstances, to dive past her and scamper out of his office to the Command Center. Kenmore spins around to let her eyes follow Woolsey’s fleeing form as Chuck the Technician’s voice makes the announcement over the city-wide speakers…
“Unscheduled incoming wormhole.”
“Lucky,” she says under her breath.
You have no idea, Sheppard thought and everyone follows Woolsey though not as fast as the former attorney had moved.
Woolsey enters the Command Center and takes up position at Chuck’s side at the Stargate’s dialing interface.
“What’s going on?”
“Sergeant Stackhouse’s team is coming in hot, Sir.”
“Lower the iris.” Chuck obeys.
Blasts erupt from the new wormhole. Sheppard and his team arrive with Kenmore as Stackhouse’s team staggers out of the wormhole and fall to the ground. The wormhole shuts down. Woolsey, Sheppard’s team, and Kenmore race down the stairs to the gateroom and to Stackhouse’s side.
“What happened,” Woolsey asks as Chuck puts the call out over the city speakers for a medical response team to the gateroom.
Stackhouse is winded but manages to gasp a reply like a good marine…
“Wraith. Dozens of them,” he looks up at Sheppard and shakes his head, “There was nothing…nothing we could do…We just had to run for it.”
Sheppard nods at him and pats his comrade’s shoulder. Everyone looks on with a mixture of relief and disappointment. It was great the team returned but that was yet another gate address that had to be earmarked as tremendously hostile. It was the fifth, supposedly uninhabited planet, in a row that turned out to have a strong Wraith foothold presence.
“And that bastard made me bring my kid,” Kenmore says under her breath and Sheppard hears it.
He looks back past the rest of his team to Kenmore as she looks on from the foot of the stairs behind them. Teyla and Rodney spread out to the rest of Stackhouse’s team members to give as much help and get as much information as they can.