Six and a half hours after running into the blissful surroundings of Atlantis and her ‘Incoming travelers’ warning klaxons and her plethora of armed guards lining the perimeter of the gateroom and the bottom of her stairs leading up to the command center, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard casually strolls through the blissfully quiet hallways of Atlantis. He’s enjoying just strolling through the silence of the hallways. He doesn’t mind these hallways being empty and not running into anybody. This is home. It’s nice just being in some place that doesn’t look like big ole goons are going to come around the corner any time now, tackle him to the ground, and wrap him up in a nice little white straightjacket and take him back to his cell. And when he did walk past some people in the more frequented primary hallways, he enjoyed listening to the random snippets of conversations he’d catch as they passed each other and he either nodded or said ‘Hi’ to each and every single one of them with a heartfelt smile on his face. He caught some weird looks for that from time to time but he didn’t let that shake him from continuing doing it anyway. He’d been doing this ever since Doctor Jennifer Keller released him from the medical wing. John hadn’t told anybody but he’d been afraid that that torture chair had messed them up in more ways than just the obvious one and then there was the little case of what those Asgard might have done to Kenmore and he while they’d been unconscious in that cell for all those hours. But according to Keller, nothing is wrong in them. The chair’s effects had apparently dissipated as soon as they went through the wall. Those spider leg needles’ marks had already healed up which Rodney had attributed to the chemical cocktail they’d injected into their brains anyway, that no one not even an Ancient could sustain putting up with that sort of damage no matter how minute to their brain repeatedly without suffering long term tissue damage. Without having anything else to go on but acknowledging that aside from Kenmore no one else could heal the way something like that would require, Keller agreed with McKay; she wasn’t finding anything wrong with them. And so they’d all been released with a clean bill of health, even Kenmore although she’d been held back about an hour longer than the rest of them. Without any injuries to tend to, the doc had had to content herself and her idling staff with taking numerous samples of and running tests on whatever those bodily fluids were that that arm had splattered all over Kenmore, but even with that, she wasn’t finding anything initially wrong. The Ancient computers weren’t detecting anything either. Lord knows Atlantis’ hyper-sensitive quarantine protocols would have kicked in almost immediately.
He’s lapped the city four times now, soaking in every facet of the place from the farthest extent of the open-air piers, which he had particularly enjoyed walking dangerously close to the edges of, to the top of the jumper bay, which he’d actually stopped and sucked in as much fresh Lantean air as he thought both his lungs and his mind could handle before coming back in to the city, to the crowded comfort of the mess hall, where he initially spooked people with his smiling nods and hellos, to the contented, familial quiet of the living quarters in the outer areas beyond the gateroom, where he heard all manner of things coming from the other side of the walls like laughter or music and stumbled across Teyla with Kanaan playing with Torren in one of the recessed resting areas in those hallways. They were showing some sort of Athosian spinning top game which seemed to be delighting the little guy to no end and his laughter was infectious with happiness and pure joy. John had intentionally stayed out of their sight and had just listened for a few minutes to the joys of familyhood, Teyla’s sanctuary. His grin couldn’t have gotten broader and then his nods and hellos to the people he passed in the halls really started freaking them out and John just kept brushing it off.
He sighs again, happily to himself. This hallway looked the same as it had the last three times he’d walked it. Empty but not suspiciously so…quiet but not disturbingly so…full of color and the naturally good sunlight that pours in through the windows. He admires the city’s warm, endearing lighting bouncing off its copper-toned walls, textured and not smooth, rustic not stark, inviting and comforting in its hominess, when suddenly the warning klaxons of Atlantis ring out and the Technician’s voice comes on over the city-wide speakers…
“Unscheduled incoming wormhole,” Chuck announces.
A knot forms in his stomach. Sheppard picks up his pace to a trot then rounds the corner at a run.
John comes onto the disembarkation floor at a run. He looks around, whatever action had been there is done. A few marines are retaking their positions guarding the floor’s perimeter. On the floor are the signs of an emergency medical team that had been called: bloodied gauze pads, medical supplies wrappers, everything not good. Two gloved and masked nurses are cleaning it up, one is throwing the pads and wrappers into a bright orange hazmat container, the other is using disinfectant and disposable towels to clean up some blood on the floor, actually there’s a pretty good amount of blood she’s wiping off the floor. Sheppard walks around the nurses then takes the stairs two at a time up into the command center. He heads straight for Chuck.
“What the hell happened?”
“She came in hot, Sir,” Chuck answers him, innocently, “Mister Woolsey and Doctor Keller rushed her to the infirmary. But it’s okay, Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne is taking care of it.”
Sheppard is missing something.
“Wait, who’s ‘she’?”
“Lieutenant Kenmore, Sir.”
Without a word, Sheppard turns and runs back out of the command center. He skips the stairs, opting for the fastest route he knows to the infirmary. He runs past people and through their groups. No more smile, no more nodding, no more hellos.
“Major Lorne to Colonel Sheppard, please come in,” the voice comes over his earpiece.
As Sheppard runs, he reaches up and activates it, “Sheppard here.”
“I need you in the medical wing.”
Sheppard’s stomach drops. It’s bad, it’s always gonna be bad with this kid.
“I’m already on my way.”
Sheppard rounds the corner, increasing his speed. He plows through a group of scientists standing in the middle of the hallway, knocking three over and he doesn’t stop for a moment or say anything back to them over his shoulder.
Major Evan Lorne, in full gear, paces outside the door to the medical wing with a long, narrow, black rectangular box in his hands. He listens to Keller barking orders inside.
The shout comes from down the hall behind him. Lorne turns around and Sheppard runs up to him. The Colonel’s boots squeaking a little with his putting the brakes on them so harshly.
“What the hell happened to Kenmore? Why wasn’t I told she was going offworld with your team? And why the hell did you make her the last one through the gate?”
“First of all, Sir, she didn’t go offworld with my team. She went offworld by herself.”
“Where,” John snaps the demand.
Lorne doesn’t say anything, he just holds up his freehand like he’s calling for silence from a rowdy crowd. Oh, Sheppard doesn’t like that all. Teyla, Ronon, and McKay run up to them from behind Lorne.
“What is it, Major,” Teyla asks urgently, “What has happened?”
Lorne turns and steps back to face all of them at once.
“Lieutenant Kenmore went back to Athosia,” he announces.
Sheppard stares, his shoulders tense and he feels his eyes start wanting to slip away from looking at Lorne. He is horrified. Oh dear God. McKay’s jaw drops from his own horror. Oh God. Even Ronon looks stunned. She had walked right into the arms of the enemy, knowingly. Teyla’s mouth slackens. Her mind stalls in her emotions, not even she had been sure she ever wanted to return there again, and for the Lieutenant to…
“But why,” the stunned Athosian leader breathes.
Lorne extends the box out to her. She looks at it then at him, confused. She starts to shake her head at him, shrug her shoulders, but he keeps it held out to her. She takes the box and opens it. Her eyes widen and her jaw actually drops. She looks back up at Lorne. Teyla lets the box’s hood fall back to reveal the arm Kenmore had freed and used to get them into the Ancient transporter.
“The DNA results came back on those fluids that splattered her half an hour after she was released from the infirmary,” Lorne says, “Teyla, they were your father’s.”
Sheppard’s team stares at the decaying arm in the box in her hands. Teyla tries to find the words but Lorne speaks up before she can even begin to tame her mind enough to think of them…
“She believes you would have wanted this. She said she knew what it felt like to not have anything to bury except memories. She said she knew what it would mean to you to be able to put anything to rest no matter what it was.”
Teyla can’t speak. None of them can. Standing in the doorway to the medical wing, Teyla turns her head to see inside. The others look with her. Woolsey looks on from the other side of the room while Keller and a team of nurses run around Kenmore sitting on the edge of a sickbed. They’re cleaning cuts like the deep one she has on the left side of her lower lip and patching up other ones, tending to bruises and the one hell of a shiner she had going over her right eye. It’s practically swollen shut and the skin around it is so bruised it has actually turned genuinely black with a jaundice greening around it’s edges but even as they stand there watching, the blackening is starting to turn to a deep, deep shade of plum purple and the green is starting to pinken and the swelling’s subsiding enough the area is starting to look like it has an eye in it again. Teyla closes the box and holds it close. She had it. Sheppard and his team watch on. Sheppard shakes his head a little, Damn if the kid isn’t good.