Episode One- The Fifth- Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

The jumper comes out of the activate Stargate sitting in the middle of an open field lined by forest, familiarly, and that’s what makes it always so disturbing, pine trees, lots and lots of pine trees, and immediately goes to cloak as it takes to climbing just a little bit higher in the sky.  After a moment, although no one can see it, the little craft levels off.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, you are now free to move about the cabin,” Sheppard announces.

He always liked doing that.  He often imagined a specific scenario where some farmer had the misfortune to be nearby when the MALP came through to his side of the gate and he comes to investigate but doesn’t get to the MALP yet when the jumper breaks through the rippling surface of the wormhole and scares the crap out of the poor guy.  Sheppard allows himself a smile.  It wasn’t funny, in fact it was kinda mean, but still…it was kinda funny.  If you pictured it right.  Maybe add a smathering of scared sheep scrambling away.  Or goats.  Goats would be cool.  Especially if they were the ones that faint when they get spooked…okay, maybe that one was mean.

McKay and Teyla immediately get up.  McKay plugs his tablet back into the jumper’s system and goes back to bouncing back and forth between his computer and the jumper’s systems.  John was absolutely convinced that McKay did that as a means of pretending that he was the one flying the ship rather than John.  Sheppard didn’t mind.  He kept his fingers moving over the controls intentionally double-checking McKay’s systems checks.  Teyla walks back into the rear cabin.  Kenmore looks up at her, Teyla smiles at the other woman, Kenmore offers a polite smile back, and Teyla goes on to check the overhead compartments of the bench opposite Kenmore.  Well at least Lieutenant Kenmore could be polite, that was something Teyla had not yet seen from her.  When Teyla is done, she turns and offers the Lieutenant another smile.  This time it is not returned, perhaps Teyla had been a little too quick bestowing her good opinion of the Lieutenant.  Teyla goes back to the front compartment, leaving Kenmore alone in the rear.

Kenmore watches the woman go then starts to look around again.  She was right in her first impression.  This—what did they call it, puddlejumper—wasn’t much to look at.  It was no tel’tak, that was for sure.  When you looked at a tel’tak, it looked a little bit bigger than this thing, but when you got inside it, that little ship was massive, sort of like a Tardis.  This wasn’t a Tardis.  This wasn’t massive.  That little woman Teyla had maybe a foot and a half clearance over her head just now when Kenmore was watching her.  Which would be comfortable for her, but Kenmore could tell the woman was definitely not average female height.  Hell, Kenmore doubted whether or not that Ronon guy could stand up straight in here.  She glanced at what little of him she could see from her seat…Yes, very much doubted.  She goes back to her immediate surroundings…And everything was so plain.  A Tok’ra scout ship, they may not have been the Goa’uld, but they still had an exuberant habit of richly ornate interiors.  Gold plated walls with hieroglyphics scrawled all over the place.  There weren’t any storage compartments in them so if there were crates, they were usually stacked everywhere in the main hold, which only served to enhance how massive the interior really was.  You never felt cramped in one those vessels.  Kenmore stares across from her at the bags stacked into the netted hammocks dangling over the bench and felt its twin’s shadow over her head.  Yep, you never felt cramped in a Tok’ra scout ship.  You never felt bored either.  And even though this was supposed to be a short trip, boredom was starting to creep in on the outskirts of Kenmore’s mind.  Something else was creeping into her consciousness too.

The newcomer grabs her canteen from her vest, opens it, and starts to take a sip.  In mid-tilt, she stops and pulls the canteen away from her lips then tips it completely over.  Nothing comes out.  Kenmore shakes it.  Empty.  Disgusted, she tosses the canteen next to her onto the bench.  This ship was definitely not like a Tok’ra tel’tak scout ship.  And this place was most certainly not like the SGC.  It was completely unprepared.  Who in the SGC would ever think of going someplace, including a short trip, which in the SGC was usually spoken with bunny-ear gestures, with even a single canteen empty?  No one.  It was becoming clearer and clearer to her that Atlantis’ mode of operation was ‘shoddy work’ at best.  Clearly, the IOA’s list Nazis being in charge did not necessarily mean an orderly house, even though they kept shoving down your throat that they could do a better job at managing things than you could every chance they got.  The whole thing was frustrating as hell.

“God, I’m just thirsty,” Kenmore complains breathlessly and lets the back of her head hit the jumper’s wall.

Suddenly a tray shoots out beside her from the wall holding a white cup of some dark, brown liquid.  Kenmore looks down at it.  Was it supposed to do that?  A ‘You Are Here’ map popping up in the middle of a hallway was one thing, but did drinks really pop out of the walls here too?  Her eyes dart around, not knowing what to do necessarily.  Nothing else seems to be happening.  No one else seemed to be alarmed, although no one looked like they had noticed what had happened yet either.  You would think that if something unusual happened inside this thing, it would have alerted everybody up front.  Even with the map, the lights changed colors and started flashing at her to show her the way.  Wouldn’t the ship have the same feature up in the front, some handy little light on a console flashing with a label saying ‘Hello, I gave someone in the back a drink.  Have a nice day.’  Kenmore sortof doubted it would be that simple given the Ancients’ infamy of overcomplicating things beyond comprehension let alone belief, but it would have been a nice gesture.  And despite what Kenmore may think of Team Atlantis’ preparation practices, she would hope that they wouldn’t take something like indications of weird trays of liquids popping out of the walls lightly.  Still no one seems worried or if they had a flashing light telling them anything, it wasn’t telling them anything they apparently weren’t already familiar with.  She takes the cup.  She can hear that Doctor guy in the front muttering something about how he always had to do everything.  McKay takes a step into the rear compartment, looks at Kenmore, and stops to watch her.  Kenmore toasts the empty tray.


She looks at the liquid.  She sniffs at it then starts to take a sip.  McKay charges forward and snatches the drink away from her before the liquid can get anywhere near her lips.  Kenmore stares at him.

“Hey.  Get your own,” she complains.

“Where did you get this,” McKay snaps.

“From the wall,” she looks over at the tray.

The now empty tray zips back into the wall, seamlessly as though nothing had been there in the first place.  McKay gapes with widened eyes.

“How,” he exclaims breathlessly.

Kenmore shrugs, not knowing what the big deal was.  Was it puddlekicker—jumper—fuel or something else she wasn’t supposed to drink?  Or was it a ‘No Drinks Allowed’ voyage?  Or just a she wasn’t allowed any drinks voyage?  That would be just like Woolsey to add that little rule behind her back just like he’d added everything else pertaining to her or her son behind her back today.

“I just said I was thirsty.”

The tray shoots out of the wall again with another white cup of dark, brown liquid.  Rodney is even more dumbstruck.  Kenmore reaches over, grabs the cup again, and again the tray shoots back into the wall seamlessly.  Kenmore sniffs the liquid again, doesn’t smell like fuel, and without any further hesitation, she takes a sip.  McKay freaks out.

“Oh my God, what are you thinking?  That could be poison.”

Kenmore looks at him like he’s crazy.

“Relax, it’s not poison.  It’s hot cocoa.”

Rodney can’t believe this.

“You know what, okay.”

McKay takes the cup out of Kenmore’s hand again, to which she gapes again, sets it down beside her as she starts to sputter her objections, then yanks her up by her upper arm, and drags the Lieutenant to the front of the jumper.  He shoves her past Teyla, to which the Athosian woman recovers quickly from and turns around with a roll of her eyes, and practically tosses Kenmore into the co-pilot’s chair.  Kenmore, as well as everyone else, stares at him.  It’s a brave act for him and, frankly, a strong and aggressive one too.  Apparently no one’s allowed to show up Rodney McKay about mysterious Ancient technology popping up out of nowhere.

“Show them,” McKay orders her.  It’s even rarer still that Rodney would order any military personnel, even though he treated the other scientists of the expedition like his own personal herd of whipping boys and girls.

Kenmore looks at the others, clueless.

“Show them what,” she asks.  Something they should already know about?

“What do you think,” Rodney snaps.

Ronon sits up, wondering if McKay had indeed stumbled upon Kenmore reporting on them to Woolsey in the back.  The others may have discredited that assumption but Ronon hadn’t.  He angles his head to try and examine her hands just slightly out of his view and the rest of her person for any even slightly noticeable communication devices whether they look SGC issue, Ancient, or not.  Kenmore is still clueless however.  And, begrudgingly, Ronon can’t see any signs of behind-their-backs communication.

“That you’re more than just a little bit demented and sad,” she tries the answer, an eyebrow cocked.

McKay frowns.

“Show them this.”

McKay holds up the cup he had held on to.  The others stare at it then look up at him like he’s crazy.  Ronon had always thought McKay was a little off his rocker but liquid as a form of illegal communication?  Then it hit Ronon.  Maybe it’s the cup.  He tries to angle his head to look underneath it.  Teyla’s mouth hangs slightly open.  Perhaps Rodney had discovered something she had not suspected before, maybe Lieutenant Kenmore had snuck poison on board the jumper.  Perhaps if Teyla was pushed far enough, she would do the same.  Maybe the Lieutenant had some sort of contingency plan that would allow her son to be free of Woolsey’s threat should the Lieutenant die on a mission here.  Teyla eyes Lieutenant Kenmore.  Perhaps.  Sheppard looks at Kenmore then at the cup then he takes the cup out of Rodney’s hand and, just like Kenmore, without hesitation takes a sip from it.  Teyla gapes at him, McKay freaks out again, and Ronon’s wary and highly protective gaze zeroes in on Sheppard.  Ronon knew it was a stupid thing of Sheppard to do, but if he came to any harm because Kenmore managed to cook up a cup of poison when they weren’t looking…

“What is wrong with you people?  That could’ve killed you,” Rodney exclaims.  Was he surrounded by people with suicidal tendencies?  What was Rodney thinking about?  He’s known these people for years now.  Of course, he knew they operated on suicidal tendencies.  It would be weird if they didn’t.

Sheppard nonchalantly hands the cup back to him and returns to the jumper’s controls.

“Relax Rodney, it’s hot chocolate.  Pretty good stuff too.  You should try it.”

“Really,” and Rodney’s ire shifts instantly to ‘Food!’.  He sniffs at the brown liquid.

“Kinda thick and rich with a little bit of cinnamon in it, very Mayan,” Kenmore pipes up.

Sheppard looks over at her.  If she were anyone else, he’d say she had his sense of humor, instead he just nods.  Kenmore nods back.  McKay looks at her with an ‘Oh really’ look.  He isn’t about to be shown up just yet.

“Now tell them how you got it.”

“It came out of the wall.”

Suddenly the others stare at her.  Kenmore looks back at them; her eyes going from each set of shocked eyes to the other, not understanding the problem.

“Show them,” McKay keeps going, “Do it again.  Say that you’re thirsty.”

“I’m thirsty.”

They all wait, looking at the walls, looking everywhere else.  Nothing happens.  Ronon allows himself a cocky smile.  Yeah right, she got it out of the wall.

“You see, you see, I knew there was more to it than that,” if Rodney had the room to jump up and down in triumph, he would.

The others roll their eyes.

“But I’m not thirsty anymore…I’m hungry.”

Suddenly a tray shoots out of the wall behind her right beside her shoulder.  Kenmore looks over at it.  Sheppard double takes and stares at the tray, in his shock he almost loses control of the jumper.  It takes him a moment to recover it.  Ronon and Teyla gape at it as well.  On the tray is a sandwich.  Kenmore takes the sandwich and toasts it at the tray again with a nod.

“Thank you.”

The tray shoots back into the wall, blending seamlessly once again.  Sheppard’s team watch as Kenmore sniffs the sandwich then takes a bite out of it.  McKay’s almost catatonic, almost.  Oh for the love of God people.

“What are you doing?  You didn’t know what that was.  Did you not just learn something?”

Kenmore takes a moment to chew her mouthful down a bit then says around it, “Relax…it’s turkey.”

McKay straightens up, “Really?”

Kenmore swallows and answers him, “It’s turkey or at least an attempt at turkey.  I don’t think you people have turkeys around here, do you?”

Kenmore looks to Teyla and Teyla shakes her head.

“No, I didn’t think so.  And I think it’s someone’s try at sourdough even though I was thinking about plain, old-fashioned white.”

McKay catches on to that.

“Wait, wait, you were just thinking about it?”

“Yeah,” Kenmore nods, “Isn’t that how you guys do it?”

They do do it that way; it’s just like with everything else in the jumper, in Atlantis, and they have to mean it when they do it too.  Rodney could have admitted that the Lieutenant was right in those exact words but instead he opts for…

“Well yeah, but it’s never done that before.”

Sheppard’s more than a little offended, for memories sake…

“On my first mission, I asked one of these things for a turkey sandwich.  It didn’t give me one.”

Kenmore looks at him, “Did you ask it nicely?”

She smiles sweetly at him.

And Sheppard can readily think of an answer but he knows it isn’t appropriate to say in mixed company even if the one it’s aimed at is part of that mixed company.  Then Sheppard doesn’t know what to say when suddenly another panel slides open on the wall above where the tray had come from.  That panel normally coughed up a lifesigns detector, but this time it wasn’t a detector.  It was roughly the same shape and size though.  Kenmore is suddenly giddy at the sight…

“Cool.  A deck of playing cards.  Thank God, I was getting bored.”

The Lieutenant grabs the deck of cards from the panel and toasts the hole again.


The panel slides shut as Kenmore gets out of the co-pilot’s chair.  Sheppard’s team watches her walk back into the rear of the jumper, put the sandwich beside the cup on the bench, then sit herself down on the floor in front of the bench and begin to remove the cards from their copper and highly ornately, and Sheppard might add very in keeping with the Lantean design aesthetic, carved case.  She turns the cards over and begins to sort through them.  She takes a small amount of the top cards and sets them down on the floor beside her, face up.  Where McKay had expected suits and numbers or even the smiling face of the Ancient answer to a joker wearing a jester’s hat are pictures with labels that force him to comment.

“Those aren’t playing cards, their tarot cards.”

Kenmore pauses to look up at him, “Where do you think playing cards came from?”


“Look,” Kenmore shuffles and deals out a game of plain, old, standard computer-issue solitaire in front of her.  McKay, never one to pass up a science lesson even if it comes from a snotty underling, starts forward, Teyla’s own curiosity draws her in as well, and she and McKay crouch down beside Kenmore, “there are four suits:  pentacles, cups, swords, and wands.  Each one has changed over time.  In some decks, pentacles are also known as coins.  Money, wealth, treasure.  What else is considered treasure besides coins?  Jewels maybe,” she holds up the first face-up card of the game:  a pentacle, the image of a raven-haired, old Hollywood glamour woman dripping with jewelry and wearing a belt made of solid gold pentacle coins over her pink dress, “Diamonds.”

She puts the card back and picks up the next different suit she sees:  a cup, a gold chalice overflowing with blue-white waters beneath a blue horizon dotted with golden stars and an evening landscape behind it, “Chalices.  Back in the day, they represented an abundance of food like a cornucopia.  Only the wealthy had an abundance of food and the wealthiest of the wealthy was royalty.  Have you ever noticed that the top of a scepter bears a striking resemblance to a club?”

She puts that card back and picks up another suit:  a sword, the image of a defenseless man ducking and running away from a hail of swords raining down on him with a single sword impaling from his back through his chest, “Not only were swords the weapon of choice back then but so were spears.  Likewise, the tip of a spear resembles a spade.”

Kenmore puts the card back and picks up the final suit:  a wand, a depiction of a woman in sort of gypsy looking clothes sitting cross-legged in the desert with lotus blossoms in front of her praying with arms stretched out to the sun above her, “And what act of faith isn’t an act of heart?”

She puts the card back down and looks at the whole setup in front of her, “Wealth, food, protection, and love.  All that a human needs to survive.  Only the twelve extra cards were meant to tell you your future.  The rest are just cards to play with really.”

McKay looks at her skeptically.

“Okay then, tell me my future,” he challenges.


Well crap, he hadn’t actually expected her to accept his challenge.  No one usually did.

“Uh,” Rodney tries to stammer his way out of it but he couldn’t really think of a way of doing it exactly that would allow him to exit with both his dignity and a respite from Sheppard’s ridicule.

Kenmore puts down the rest of the deck and picks up the twelve top cards.  She shuffles them, face down, then fans them out in her hands, still face down, and holds the fan out to McKay.

“The card you pick is supposedly picked by fate.  Your gut instinct.  Pick a card, any card.”

Rodney eyes Kenmore for a moment then he draws a card, looks at it, and scoffs.

“Death.  Of course, I get death.  Can I get a happy card?  No, I get told I’m going to die.  My instinct is to die.”

“No,” Kenmore says calmly.

Rodney shows her the image of the torn hooded-robe and the skeleton wearing it carrying a scythe with a long gleaming white blade standing amidst broken things like swords and tombstones, skulls, clocks, with the horizon gleaming gold behind it, “Oh no?”

Kenmore nods, “No.  Death doesn’t mean death in Tarot.”

McKay looks at her with the same bemused condescension that he shows everybody when he knows his right and they’re dumber than dirt.

“Then what does it mean,” he challenges again.

“Death means rebirth,” she tells him.

“Oh really,” McKay begins but the fact that the Lieutenant remains so calm dissuades him and he asks far more interestedly, “really?”

Kenmore nods and Rodney looks his card’s image over again.

“It says that you’re going to encounter an obstacle that you’ll have to overcome—“

“When does it not,” McKay interjects, not looking up from the card.

“And that you’ll overcome it for the better,” Kenmore finishes.

“Well that’s always good, I suppose.”

Kenmore nods emphatically.

“Might I try,” Teyla shifts her feet underneath her, just as curious in the Ancestor’s future-telling cards and Lieutenant Kenmore’s knowledge of them and what they mean as Rodney is of any new and alien technology he has never encountered before but has always hoped existed even if humanity had yet to figure it out.

Kenmore nods at her, takes back Rodney’s Death card, reshuffles, and fans out the deck in front of Teyla.  Teyla has always trusted her own instincts and the guidance of the Ancestors.  Without hesitation, she picks a card and shows it to Kenmore.

“The Heirophant,” Kenmore recites, “It’s the card of the Wiseman.  Sort of like Merlin to Arthur, Gandalf to Frodo,” Teyla’s brows draw together, she does not know what those references mean; Kenmore catches on, “It means you’re very wise and that you’ll guide someone much younger than you to be just as wise, to be a great leader.  It’s a very good card.”

Teyla beams at Kenmore as she hands the card back to the Lieutenant, thinking of Teyla’s own position as leader of her people and her son Torren.  Indeed, much younger than she is.  And if what the Ancients’ cards told the Lieutenant was true, then she will continue to lead her people well and so would her son after her.  Indeed, it is a very good card.

Not liking being left out the conversation even though it’s more of a show-and-tell, John never liked being left out of those either, he calls back to them…

“Well since we’re all playing…”

He trails off, letting the hint hang there for the rest of them to pick up.

The trio looks towards the front compartment then they stand up and make their ways to join the other two in the front cabin.  Taking up positions standing in the doorway to the front cabin, Kenmore, in the middle, reshuffles the cards again and fans them out for Sheppard.  Teyla, Rodney, and even Ronon all watch diligently to see what card fate would deal their fearless leader.

“Pick a card, any card,” the Lieutenant happily tells him with a funny little gangster accent as if she were dealing Blackjack in Atlantic City during the 1920s.  If it had come from anybody else, John would have smiled and probably played along just as playfully; there again, if it were anybody else…

John takes a moment to look at the cards then look at Kenmore and Rodney and Teyla beside her.  Their faces don’t seem to be on their guard by any of this.  John would expect near blind trust bordering on childlike naivety with something, anything Ancient even if it’s just a deck of playing cards from Rodney, but Teyla’s instincts were more well-honed and just as tried and true as either John’s own gut feelings or Ronon’s.  She knew what danger was, she’d be on her guard if anything needed her to be.  John puts the jumper on auto and turns to Kenmore.  He looks the fan over then picks a card out of the fan and shows it to her.  She gives the card a weird, calm sort of look.  Sheppard isn’t sure he likes that.

“Justice,” she reads.

McKay automatically scoffs.

“Of course Captain Kirk gets sit around comfortably ruling the world as judge and jury and I get to jump hurdles.”

Kenmore shakes her head, “No.”  She meets Sheppard’s eyes, “It means that you’ve met your match.”

“What,” McKay asks.

And John wonders if she means he’s looking at his match…

Kenmore goes on, her eyes never breaking away from his just as steady gaze, “There’s a man you’ve come up against—“

“How do you know it’s a man,” McKay stops her.

“Because he’s a man.  If it were a woman, he’d be a woman.  And he would have drawn a different card,” McKay takes the information with a scientist’s accepting and processing nod of his head then Kenmore continues translating for John, “No matter how hard you try you’ve never been able to defeat him and you never will but you’ll never lose to him either because…he’s your match.  It’ll always end in a tie.  It’s all about balance.  You’ll never win but you’ll never lose either.  It’s a relatively good card.”

Kenmore nods at Sheppard just as emphatically as she had nodded at a beaming Teyla, but Sheppard doesn’t look at all comfortable.  Normally he would have said that that could only be one of two people in this galaxy:  Todd or Michael.  Since Michael was dead, that would leave Todd, and that would be his preference, but Kenmore’s previous observations that Michael could have faked them out unsettled him then and now were setting up permanent residence in the shadows nearest the front of his mind.  Ronon notices the thoughts passing over and fogging his best friend’s face.  He didn’t like that.  His eyes slide to Kenmore.

“And what’s my future,” he asks in that gravelly baritone voice of his; it wasn’t hostile, it was more of a nonchalantly, direct challenge to her.

Kenmore looks at him.  He had been so silent she had forgotten he was there.  Probably an old and well-trained habit of his; bonus for him, Kenmore thought.  She takes back the card from Sheppard, reshuffles the deck once again, turns to Ronon, and fans it out for him.  Ronon observes her every step of the way.  She didn’t look like she’d tried to do anything to them, but you never know.  Never taking his stern gaze off of her face, he draws a card and flips it over for her without looking at it himself.  She looks shocked at it and not shocked in a good way or at least not in the way Sheppard’s card had surprised her.  Despite not wanting to miss a moment of being able to gage her reaction, Ronon looks down at the card too.

“The Lightning Struck Tower,” she says; her voice sounds…well he didn’t know what it sounded like but it didn’t sound like what she knew about the card was good, “It means that there’s something or someone precious to you…and you’re going to lose them…and it’s going to destroy you.”

Kenmore’s discomfort spreads to Teyla, Rodney, and John but for entirely different reasons and to an entirely different extent.  They know about their friend’s recent heartache at his girlfriend’s transfer back to Earth, his loss of her, and it was something Kenmore definitely could not have known about regardless of Atlantis’ gossip grapevine.  But Ronon isn’t buying Kenmore’s translation.

“I don’t have anything or anyone like that,” he tells her smoothly enough but there’s a crispness to his tone of voice that makes it all too clear how much he was lying to her.

Behind Lieutenant Kenmore’s back, the other three members of Ronon’s team share the same look between each other.  They know about Amelia.  They knew how hard it was to open himself up to anyone just for friendship let alone a relationship, and they knew how long he had held on to the memory of the ‘as good as his wife’ woman that died on Sateda all those years ago as more than just memory.  Melena had been her name.  When they had recovered him from Sateda and he was recovering in the Daedalus’s infirmary during the ride back to Atlantis, he kept muttering her name over and over while he was unconscious and in-between his bouts of consciousness where he would tell them little utterances about some other Runner he had encountered long ago.  Even losing Doctor Jennifer Keller, fleeting as the idea of that romance had been, was still a raw nerve to him and that was from a year ago; he still gives Rodney an evil-eye glare over it sometimes.

Kenmore looks Ronon in the eye, “It’s happened to you before.”

The others suddenly look at her.  How could she possibly have known how hard Ronon took the loss of his Satedan love?  That wasn’t in his personnel file, Doctor Elizabeth Weir had made sure of that out of consideration for him.  The SGC hadn’t needed to know about it, no one but his closest teammates did, and even then it took him a year to get comfortable enough to mention her once to Sheppard.

“You see the tower’s foundation is cracked and crumbled,” Kenmore gestures with the tip of the remaining fan to the bottom of the tower’s image, “It means it’s been destroyed before but you’ve rebuilt since then.  The tower is strong but the lightning goes all the way down to the foundation.  That means…this loss…will take you back to that previous time of loss.  It will destroy you all over again and break your foundation further.  See the lightning bolt is piercing the ground, shattering it a little bit too.”

Ronon holds her gaze.  At least she was acting like the information was difficult for her to tell him even though she didn’t know him at all except for what some report Woolsey had ordered be given to her told her about him.  And she was conveying the information with unbiased confidence as though what she’s explaining to him is in no way a lie.  But he still isn’t believing her.  He knew he cared about Amelia and that she had been there for him as he recovered from his near death experience—well, it wasn’t a ‘near death’ experience since he was technically really dead there for a bit before a Wraith brought him back but to him that still only counted as ‘near’—last year.  But he also knew what his friends didn’t, that the love he had for Amelia didn’t run as deep as his love for Melena had been.  It had kept him alive and thriving against every Wraith that dared to hunt him for his seven years as a Runner then and for his years as part of Atlantis now.  As much as he loves Amelia, she was not the love that keeps him fighting, just grumpy.

But his teammates knew about that relationship from Sateda even though he never really talked about it, Kenmore didn’t.  Not unless that big stack of files Woolsey had a staffer bring her in the mess hall had included not only his personnel file, but a personal file on him that Woolsey had made special without their knowledge telling Kenmore far more personal information that had no right being in any sort of a file anywhere but which now he wouldn’t necessarily put out of Woolsey’s depth.  No, Ronon Dex didn’t like this woman at all.  Maybe her and Woolsey planted the cards in here and just put on a show for them earlier in the conference room.  It wouldn’t be the first time Atlantis had encountered people who were deceivingly good at deception.

During the tense moment of silence, Sheppard’s eyes dart back and forth between the new Lieutenant and his old friend.  He knows that look, if not in Kenmore’s eyes, then definitely in Ronon’s.  Sheppard breaks the silence…

“And what about you,” he asks the Lieutenant.

She turns slightly to look back at him.


He nods.

“Sure,” she shrugs.

She hands him the deck, which John thought was a nice and surprisingly confident gesture.  He holds the deck out to Ronon, who puts his card back in it, then Sheppard reshuffles the deck a couple of times to make sure it’s good and mixed and fans out the cards for Kenmore just as she had done for all the rest of them.  Unlike most of the others, Kenmore holds her hand out over the fan and lets a finger dangle a little bit further down than her other fingers.  She passes the hovering finger left to right over the whole fan slowly and surely until she finally picks a card and looks at it.  She gives it a dry smile like the whole exercise had been a shell game to her and it had been her job to find out which one had the walnut shell hidden underneath it.  As John eyes her, waiting to see what card fate had supposedly dealt out to her, the thought, motivated by the look of her reaction in her eyes, crosses his mind that perhaps she had set all of this up.  Perhaps it really was a game and she was just leading them all on.  And even though they didn’t at all like her, they all had fallen for it, hook, line, and sinker.  John wasn’t necessarily sure he liked that either.  Why hadn’t he seen that coming?  Why hadn’t he spotted that?

“Here you go Doctor McKay,” she leans the card, face up, against the top panel of the onboard DHD.

It’s a picture of a contented man wearing a green tank top, a pair of black shorts, and a pair of beige hiking boots with white socks dangling upside down by his foot from a what looks like a part of a piece of wood stretched between two branches of a grapevine growing two substantial bunches of bright green grapes on either side.  One of the man’s feet is strapped with white bonds, barely distinguishable from his socks, to the central spike between the two vines with his hands neatly hidden behind the small of his back.  He looks bizarrely contented with his fate.  Happy about it, really.

“The Hanged Man,” she says, “Now that card means death.  Looks like I’ve come here to die.”

They stare at her and the card.  She’s so complacent.  Suddenly a proximity alarm goes off on the console in front of Sheppard and a map appears on the Heads Up Display on the jumper’s windscreen.  Thank God.  Sheppard starts pushing buttons and takes the jumper off autopilot.

“We’re coming up on the warehouses,” he announces, “I’m taking her in.”

As John takes back control of the jumper’s flight path, Kenmore goes back to her spot on the bench and Rodney and Teyla take up their seats again.  Their eyes never really leave the card still sitting above the bottom panel of their DHD like some eerie mascot.  No one in the front cabin looks comfortable anymore, not that they actually had been before.

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