The stark daylight is calmed here, bright but not near-blindingly brilliant. Not colored white either, but a lovely calming hue of lavender purple through the sheer curtains, adorned with random strands of jewel-like beads, of the same color that makes everything feel slowed and at peace…at one. Almost every turquoise wall is covered by some Athosian sheer fabric, some reminder of home. Even the large rug covering the middle of the room’s rust-colored marble floor is an Athoisan grass woven rug in only two colors, the natural color of the dried woven grass stalks the rug is made of and the thick woven fabric that had been dyed black to provide a border band about two inches wide. The bed to one side of the room, its frame made of hand-stripped, gnarled, Athosian driftwood and its sheets and blankets and handful of pillows made of tapestry fabrics of all the colors nature’s bounty can dye and man can weave. The chiclet sconces are off, but the rose quartz colored candles set all around the room, on top of the dressers, and cabinetry are lit. Their flames barely perceptible in the day’s light. He sits cross-legged on the grass woven floor mat. His hands, palms up, rest comfortably balanced on the top side of his knees. He can feel the central tendon of the back of his hand balancing like a rock balances upon another against the side of the ball of his knee joint. He inhales deeply and exhales smoothly, feeling the sharply knotted nerves in his jaw, neck, shoulders, and back distinctly not easing. This time his exhale is swift, loud, and frustrated. This is going to take much more effort. Resolutely, he raises his left palm to the center of his chest and presses it against his body there. Then raises his right palm and presses it against the back of his left hand. Through it, he can feel the central bone of the back of his left hand again. And through the palm of his left he can feel his heartbeat throbbing his sternum…every fiber of his being. He inhales deeply again then exhales smoothly then inhales deeply again then…
“Yyyyyaaaaannnnnnn,” he intones with effort to stabilize the warble in his voice. His breath comes to an end. He inhales deeply again…and, “Yyyyyyaaaaaannnnnnnn,” he exhales again. Slowly, ever so slowly, he feels some of the tension start to ebb. But at this rate he will have to meditate and chant for days and nights and days again before it will go away. But he will keep going. “Yyyyyaaaannnnnnn.”
Teyla stands in the doorway to their quarters, watching Kanaan meditate. He has to chant today, she looks down at the floor, he only ever does that when he is overly stressed. More than he usually is. She looks back up at him. This had been what the argument this morning had been about. Ever since burying her father’s remains and revealing to all of the Athosians the truth about the ruined city that they had revered for so long as well as feared, Teyla has been adamant about excising everything Ancient from her life as well as that of the other Athosians’ lives. And when Kanaan had got down on the floor this morning to meditate with their son, Teyla looks down again, she had lost her temper…almost the same way she had lost it with Sergeant Bates. She had not struck Kanaan, but, her head lifts again, she had wanted to. Really, really wanted to. Never before had she wanted to strike the man she loves, the father of her child, the man she willingly shares her life with.
Not for a minute did Kanaan back down from her sudden wrath though. He had shouted back at her. Reprimanded her for giving up on what makes them Athosian. That had hurt, it hurt her that what makes her people themselves is what they had learned at the hands of a race of people that had manipulated her people into being lambs for their slaughter. With tear-filled eyes, Teyla had lashed out at Kanaan. Her gestures violent. Shouting at him. How dare he say that. How dare he after knowing what those people had done to her father. After knowing what they had done to all Athosians. They had sold them out to the Wraith. The Ancients had betrayed the Athosians faith, their trust, in them. Kanaan shouted back that just because the Ancients were deceivers did not mean that the Athosians should turn their backs on their own history, on all the good the Ancients had taught them, passed on to them. When Teyla had spit back, What good? Kanaan equally threw back in her face that the Athosians are not the Genii.
…And with that Teyla had stormed out of their quarters, leaving behind Kanaan to tend to Torren who had become fearful at his parents argument and began to wail when Teyla started for the door. At the end of the hallway their quarters are found along, she had run into Evan and Rodney along with a couple of soldiers running out of another corridor. Before she could ask them what was wrong, what had happened, Evan asked her what was going on and informed her that they had heard screaming. Teyla had been shocked. And embarrassed. She had not realized that she and Kannan’s argument had gotten so loud, so very out of hand…so public. But then the sounds of the actual screaming sounded again from another hallway and Teyla knew then that it was not she and Kanaan’s fight that had reportedly been overheard, it was Ronon and Lieutenant Kenmore’s out of control fight in the training room that had been.
Kanaan’s voice stabilizes the chant. He does it a few more times. Teyla walks into the room and the door slides closed behind her. Kanaan opens his as equally as dark as hers’ eyes. Their eyes lock…and their gaze holds.
When she had been pregnant and Kanaan had gone missing with their people, she and Kanaan’s unique gift of having some Wraith DNA mixed into their own human DNA had exerted itself with Wraith hybrid Michael’s abuse. Across a span of thousands of light years Kanaan and Teyla’s telepathy had found each other. Especially each other. Only each other…they also believed their son, still in Teyla’s womb at the time, had had a hand in that as well. Helping unite his parents across the vast distance with his own gifted DNA.
Teyla walks forward and sits down on the mat in front of her life partner, she crosses her legs as well. He can’t help but notice this…
“Do you not think that will be disrespectful to your father’s memory to sit like that?”
Teyla closes her eyes for a moment and takes the hit, “I deserve that, I know.”
He remains silent.
“I am sorry,” Teyla says.
“I am sorry as well,” Kanaan says.
“Why,” she asks, “Did you not uphold your own beliefs? Are you not doing so now?”
He nods, “But it was wrong for me to shout at you…To hurt you. I promised you after,” his voice catches, “after I was freed from Michael’s experimentation that I would never hurt you or Torren ever again. I did not do that this morning.” Teyla opens her mouth to protest, but Kanaan puts a gentle pair of fingers against her lips to silence her, they do. Then he gently caresses her cheek, his thumb smoothly brushing over the apple of her cheek beneath her eye…, “I made you cry today, I promised you that I would never do that again. I made our son cry. I am sorry.”
Teyla feels tears threaten her eyes. Again she feels lucky to have Kanaan in her life, to have him with her.
“And I should not be putting my own issues with the Ancients against you and our people. You are right that we should not give up our traditions, our way of life, just because the Ancients taught us those ways and later betrayed us…betrayed me, betrayed my faith in them. We have taken what they taught us and taught those who came before us and have made it our own. Made it a part of us, who we are as a people. Every village we come into contact with knows of our traditions, our compassion, and our strive for equality among all those we meet.
“You are right, Kanaan, we have taken the best the Ancients gave us and have lived our lives accordingly. We have none of their evil, we are none of their evil, their darkness. It was…it is wrong of me to demand everyone to do away with the good along with the evil. I just,” words fail her and she lowers her head, closing her eyes.
Kanaan gives her time.
Finally she looks up at him again, her deep espresso eyes open, “It is hard for me to have faith in the good the Ancients taught our forbearers when I now know that they had a direct hand in the death of my father and so many of our people.”
Kanaan nods, “I know. It is hard for me too, but as the rest of your team and the others here in Atlantis have pointed out, those Ancestors that were involved in your father’s death did what they did without the knowledge of the other Ancestors. They were working in secret, behind the backs of many.”
Her skin crawls at this. Ever since the revelation of the Asgard’s facility, she has flatly refused to refer to the Ancients as the Ancestors anymore. Still hearing it uttered from someone’s mouth makes her feel ill. Disturbed. Uncomfortable…Angry.
Kanaan sees her jawline tighten, her cheeks become taut and strained, and she can no longer look at him again. He tries to catch her eye again by dipping his head a little and trying to make eye contact with her. Her eyes slide over to look at him, but her head does not raise, “They are the Ancestors.”
Her eyes do not look happy.
“And there are good Ancestors just as much as there are bad,” he finishes.
Teyla holds his gaze for a moment then sighs heavily and closes her eyes again, she nods. “I know you are right. The Ancients were not gods, they were people. Just like us, just like our forbearers, but…I,” words fail her again and she looks away, this time off to her left.
“Did not think that they could do evil, be evil?”
She looks at him, he has it, he knows it exactly. “Yes,” she breathes.
This time it’s Kanaan’s turn to close his eyes and nod.
“During…the experimentation, I thought about the Ancestors many times…and you. I believe that is how Michael discovered our connection in the first place.”
Teyla smiles, she knew this already. Kanaan had told her it during many of her visits to him while he was confined during his recovery from the reversing of Michael’s hybrid experimentation done to him. Because the process of recovering from what Michael had done to him was so extensive and so intensive, Teyla still had trouble, nightmares, remembering watching him go through that. That his recovery prevented her from bringing Torren with her to see his father. She often left their son in the caregiving hands of Jennifer. Kanaan much more than she does, has nightmares as well still. Frightening ones in which he thrashes and screams out in the night and always now, always Teyla is by his side when he comes to, awakens from the shadowed darkness of his own mind, own terrible past, and weeps beside her. She will always be there. But why is he bringing this up now?…
“I thought that the Ancestors had abandoned me…but I knew that you had not. And the more it went on, the longer I was experimented on, the longer I was trapped as his slave, the more I believed that they had abandoned me just as they had abandoned all humans to the terror of the Wraith. The more I believed that you would find me, would save me, save all our people. And you did.” Tears well in her eyes again, “There is evil and there is good…And I chose good. I chose you and our son and Atlantis.”
Teyla blinks and her brimming eyes spill tears down her cheeks. She remembers when she had gone to him just before Atlantis went into battle against a ZPM-powered Wraith hiveship, she had come to this very room and told him, ordered him to take Torren and go to the Alpha site. And in this very room he told her that he would not go, that he would not flee with their child to the relative safety of the Alpha site. He told her, “If Atlantis fails, then our galaxy will fall to the Wraith. If we are to die, then we will die as a family. Together.” She had been so proud of her courage and never thought that she could be prouder of him than in that moment. And now he has proven her wrong as he has many times before. Kanaan reaches a hand out to her and she takes it, slipping into his arms. The side of her hip resting on the floor just before where his ankles cross each other and wrapping her arms around his waist, resting the side of her head against his chest. He wraps his arms around her shoulders. She can hear his heartbeat, it is low and thrumming and peaceful to her as it is at night when they fall asleep. Her tension ebbs and she can feel his do the same. She sighs across the pale green-tinted beige, soft woolen fabric over his chest and he sighs contentedly as well and she feels his warm breath gently brush the hairs of the top of her head. They hold each other for a long moment. Longer than she felt others would understand considering the crisis the city is currently facing, but…Teyla feels it is a moment whose length she needs to have, both Teyla and Kanaan need to have.
Suddenly there is rustling nearby. Torren’s bed. Their son is rousing from his nap. They look over at him stirring and smile then they look at each other. Kanaan nods, Teyla nods, and they help each other stand up. They walk over to their son’s rustic, carved wooden, swinging crib. As it turns out he is not waking, just wiggling in his sleep. Coming to just enough to adjust his body to a more comfortable position then slipping back into his blissful slumber. He settles down and his parents take the opportunity to smile at each other. They wrap an arm around each other once again and look back down at their resting child.
“If only some things were as easy as his sleep,” Teyla sighs, the side of her head falling against the crux of Kanaan’s shoulder joint.
“Is it the situation with your friends?”
“Yes…and no. It is a situation with my friends, but not the situation you are thinking of.” Teyla sighs again and Kanaan gives her a few squeezes of reassurance and encouragement. Support. She takes it from him, she is going to need it.
* * *
The light is no longer golden, it’s searing white. Makes you want to squint or squeeze your eyes shut. And for the life of him Ronon can’t figure out why he’s stayed here, really he can’t. He’s still sitting lazily in the same chair he had been when Jennifer had stormed out…almost an hour ago. Why am I still sitting here doing nothing?
Teyla steps into the doorway’s opened threshold. They look up at each other and she slowly approaches the edge of the computer console he’s sitting with his back to. She puts her hands on the piano-style console’s corner.
“Do you want to be doing this,” she asks him. Taking on a professional tone with him.
“Yeah,” Ronon answers defensively, “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because the Ronon I know would not be doing this,” she gestures at him just sitting there, “while his friends and teammates are missing and most likely in great danger.”
“Doing what,” Ronon looks down at himself in his white patient’s scrubs with a pale teal with white straps arm sling and a white cast with white wrappings on his arm and a pair of crudely and simply designed Athosian sandals, something he’d picked up during his short time living with the Athosians when Atlantis had temporarily been removed from the Earth Expedition’s control and placed back into the hands of some refound Ancients. He’s kept a few pairs ever since because they’re what he wears when getting ready for bed, of course sometimes he just walks around his quarters getting ready for bed barefoot. But during medical stays, the sandals have proven quite useful.
Well he wouldn’t call this nothing—well, actually he did. But he’s helping Jennifer check Atlantis’ computer database. It’s just…computers aren’t his thing. Everyone knows that, Woolsey knows that…
“And instigating a fight with Jennifer.” Teyla continues.
He stares at her. Offended again.
“She says you did.” Teyla comes back at him quickly.
“I did not,” Ronon sits up, wincing. Leaning forward, wincing more. Attempting to challenge her. He’s starting to get heated, angry with her.
“And I am inclined to believe her,” Teyla keeps pace.
Ronon glares at her. Oh, do not glare at me that way Ronon Dex…
“And that is because the Ronon I have known and worked with and have called my friend for these past years has not been in Atlantis for a long time now.”
His glare softens. Now that is more like it, Teyla takes on her big sisterly air with him. She gently tilts her head to the side.
“Tell me…what is wrong?”
Very unlike him and very unexpected yet entirely so, Ronon begins to fidget and stares down at his fidgeting fingers. Teyla waits for him as Kanaan had waited for her. After a long moment…
“I’m not good at losing people,” he says quietly.
“None of us are,” she replies just as quietly.
“I mean I’m not good at losing people while they’re still alive,” he finally looks up at her.
Teyla straightens her head, Oh.
“It is something I believe you must get used to in Atlantis,” she almost stammered there at the first.
“It’s not that I haven’t broken up with someone before. I mean, there were other girls before Melena, but—“
“It is just that there have not been other women after her.”
He nods. Teyla gives him a gentle smile. Ronon tries to stand up on his own and Teyla respects him having the dignity of the act. Eventually he makes it.
“I honestly didn’t believe that there would be anyone after her. I mean…I mean a lot of things, don’t I?”
Teyla nods, her smile unwavering and understanding.
Ronon makes his way over to another Ancient computer console nearby, empty of any Earth technology just like the others. It had been covered by a white sheet once and it had long been covered in dust during Atlantis’ ten thousand-year secret submersion. When the Expedition from Earth arrived, Elizabeth Weir eventually had it removed as each room was cleared of any dangers and had been inventoried. The cover was never replaced. The tips of Ronon’s fingers touch the textured copper surface. Having something so palpable is a help to him, something he can feel beneath his fingertips. The bumps, some sharp, some dull. The grooves, some deep, some shallow…a lot like him, his life, his past.
“I’m angry,” he says.
“You have been since I met you,” she tells him with a slight sense of humor to her voice. Remembering that the first time she met Ronon Dex was when she came to, bound back to back with John, as the Satedan Weapons Specialist’s prisoner.
Ronon actually smiles as he looks down again at the console’s clear, crystal slat, key-like buttons, he remembers too and he also remembers why, “I will always be angry at the Wraith, but,” he turns with difficulty to face her, “I’m not just angry at the Wraith right now.”
Teyla nods, “Jennifer says that she believes the reason you are angry right now is because of Rodney and she’s relationship.”
Teyla’s taken aback, her mouth gapes and her eyes widen. She does believe Ronon has been taking his aggression out on many around him, not just the marines and airmen he was training, but she did not actually believe that it was truly as Jennifer had said. That two of both Ronon and she’s closest friends are specific targets of his wrath.
Teyla stutters, “I…had not—“
“I know,” he interrupts her. “I’m angry at her and Rodney for still being together. They’re a part of Atlantis. They have jobs in this city. They’ve gotten promotions. And they’re still here. And they’re still together.”
There’s a moment pause. Teyla looks down at the floor but her eyes seem unable to focus on any one part of the floor, and Ronon feels a moment of shame for her reaction. He’s felt it himself, shame at his own jealousy at the happiness of two of his friends. How is that anyway to act in the Pegasus? He’s behaving like a Genii. Not a Satedan, not himself. He looks at the floor too, away from Teyla’s direction. His fingertips still touching the Ancient computer console’s surface. The metal is cold, like he’s felt himself being for the past few weeks. Almost a month now. Almost a month since she left.
“I know,” Teyla has found her voice, they look at each other “that Amelia’s leaving has affected you deeply, but I did not know that your feelings for her ran so deep.”
“They…don’t,” and that’s true; Amelia is no Melena, maybe that’s why he went for her in the first place. There were things about her that reminded him of Melena though, her feistiness. Amelia and he would spar and she’d score a could hit on him, drop him to one of his knees sometimes, and she’d gloat with this fantastic smile…with her long, reddish hair puffing this way and that around her face from the panting breaths coming out of her mouth…and suddenly his eyes would see Melena when she would lean over him during their lovemaking, her loosely curly red hair’s locks bouncing or swaying, her smile just as illuminatingly, teasingly fantastic, “It’s just that…I never thought that there would be anyone after Melena. That there could be. Then I meet you and Sheppard and Carson and you bring me here to Atlantis. Doctor Weir gives me a place to stay and, and I never thought that I would ever have a home after Sateda. None of this is what I ever expected my life to have when I was a Runner.”
“And after you were a Runner,” Teyla asks.
“A long sleep surrounded by a lot of Wraith bodies.”
Teyla smiles again, “That is not what I mean.”
“I know, but it’s my answer. I thought I was going to die a Runner and I planned on doing it by taking a lot of Wraith with me. I never thought there was going to be an ‘after’.”
Ronon nods. Good.
“And that is why you are afraid,” she states matter-of-factly.
He stares at her. She looks him dead in the eyes.
“You are afraid to survive,” she says.
Ronon stays silent, Teyla has gotten in one. She takes a silent moment to collect her thoughts on what she is about to say as she walks from one console’s edge to the other’s to stand more face to face with her friend, and she is sensing that her friend, the friend she knows, is coming back to her more and more as they talk here.
“The reason I stayed with Atlantis, why I do stay, is because I believe Atlantis is hope. I will survive the Wraith. My people will survive the Wraith. My son and my partner will survive the Wraith. It is much more than what we do. It is who we are. We are not their food.”
Ronon nods. Teyla has said something like that to him before when he had considered leaving Atlantis and joining some Satedan friends of his that had also survived the Wraith’s destruction of their planet. That consideration had ended disastrously with Ronon having to kill his dearest friends because they had become Wraith worshippers. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anyone else, any more. But Teyla’s never said anything like…
“Perhaps you need to judge what you believe Atlantis to be. Perhaps you need to judge for yourself what it is that you do, who you are. Just remember, Ronon, that whatever your answers are, we are always your friends. All of us. Nothing has changed that. Nothing will.”
Ronon nods at her and she nods back before turning and leaving. Ronon stands in the room alone. He looks around him…and thinks.