Episode Four- Veritas- Epilogue

Epilogue

It was well late into the night when Jennifer finally gave John the nod to leave the Infirmary—well, late into the night and after a few hours of rest, which constituted John sitting on a medical bed while Woolsey paced the floor conducting the debrief as John woofed down two trays of food from the mess hall kitchens that had been asked to stay a open little later in order to feed the missing and now returned personnel.  As luck would have it, dinner had been turkey breast in rich golden gravy over mounding scoops of some of the best damn mashed potatoes John had ever tasted in his life.

During that time, across the room, Teyla had approached a very stone faced and eerily silent Kenmore sitting on another bed, waiting for Jennifer to finish the Lieutenant’s post-“mission” medical exam.  Teyla told Kenmore that Halling had dialed the city and radioed that he had Michael to send back to them but that, seeing as how Kenmore had been taken and the city was believed to be dangerous, Teyla and Halling had decided together that Michael should stay the Lantean night with Halling and Jinto on New Athos.  After a heartbeat, the Lieutenant simple nodded, not really looking at Teyla…not really looking at anybody.  Teyla, herself, slowly nodded back and glanced over at John and Lorne, sitting in the bed on Sheppard’s other side and likewise eating a couple of trayfuls of food, before she left the Infirmary and returned to her own family in their quarters.

The two soldiers gave up nothing of why Kenmore was acting that way to the Athosian, but as soon as Teyla’s back was turned to them, they glanced over at each other and exchanged a look.  Woolsey caught it all of course and tried to press Sheppard and Lorne for why, but neither men would give him anything; they just claimed that it had been a hard mission and that Kenmore had been the target, the rest of them were just collateral from her.  And when Woolsey tried to get either one of them to tell him why she was the target, the two men informed him that Ganos Lal was behind it all.  At this, John had seen something that made him think that even confessing that much to Woolsey had been the seriously wrong move.  The look that crossed over Woolsey’s face…the former attorney looked down at the floor but with a distant look, his eyes moving from side to side, weighing and measuring something.  John didn’t like it.  The last time he’d seen a look like that it was in Woolsey’s office when Woolsey first told John that Kenmore was alive and recovering from her first outing with the team.  God help him, Sheppard was never going to forget that smile on the man’s face…After that, Woolsey had left the Infirmary and just as soon, Sheppard and Evan had looked at each other and started discussing what that look might mean.  It came to nothing except for one thing…

John walks down one of Atlantis’ corridors out in the city’s farther perimeter.  Out here the walls are gridded in these large three-foot by three-foot black squares whose edges are worn to a turquoise, rusted patina from millennia spent under the ocean and being one of the areas where the shield had failed and the ocean had seeped in and flooded.  Even the floors are as black as the wall panels only it’s much more scuffed and dirty looking, there again it comes from the years of flooding.  Wearing away the floor’s gloss and the furniture items that had been down here, being dragged across the stone and swept back and forth over it roughly by the ocean water’s currents as it infiltrated.  It’s never going to be pristine again.  This part of the city will never be as gorgeous looking as the rest of it again.  There’s no amount of polish or resurfacing on Earth that can be done to it, not even anything in the Ancient database had anything about that that could help.  He knows, people have checked and commented on it.  In truth the Expedition had been lucky to even get the just shy of seven feet long, four and a half inches wide, silver wall mounted lights to work.  But somehow the polished looking, probably from the rushing and ebbing and flowing water, silver things appearing here and there only as would be required throughout the hallway, like an underground bunker’s hallway, manages to put out a small glow of pale yellow light.  If the hallway didn’t look sickly before, it certainly does when it’s lights are lit…So maybe the Expedition hadn’t been so lucky to have gotten the lights down here to work.

He turns and heads down a short corridor that loops back into the rest of the city, but it isn’t a scenic U-turn he’s looking for; it’s the door to the city’s pier that he knows is halfway down the left side of this hallway that he’s looking for.  He walks up to the doors, they stay closed.  When you’re out this far from the city center, the doors don’t necessarily open at your presence no matter how Ancient your DNA is, you have to swipe your hand in front of the door sensors first.  But John doesn’t swipe right away, he just stands there and looks out the doors’ pair of horizontal half-circle, plain, clear glass windows.

Out there in the dark, the city’s lights casting the only light about twenty feet out there on the pier, Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore stands looking out at the ocean.  She’s not near a railing, not near the foot of the exterior staircase that ends a few feet away from this doorway, she’s standing out in the middle of the small observation area looking out into the impenetrable-seeming night.

John reaches out and swipes his hand in front of the crystal sensor panel next to the doorframe’s right side and the doors split open and slide into the walls pockets for them.  John walks through and the doors slide closed behind him.

There’s a breeze, he hadn’t seen it before, hadn’t noticed it.  It’s blowing nicely, rippling the Lieutenant’s long, wavy, dark brown hair back behind her.  Ruffling John’s own constantly shower tousled-looking, semi-short black hair.  If it were a bright cloudless, blue skied, sunny day, he’d call the breeze the perfect compliment.

He knows she knows he’s here.  Her body posture was taut to begin with and as soon as he’d come out here with her she seemed to be vibrating with restraint, trying to hold herself in.  She didn’t want him here.  He knew that too.  But…he also knows there are some things you can’t hold onto like this…some things you just have to let out.  He slowly approaches.

“She’s wrong,” he tells her back, “You know that, don’t you?  I told you you know it…You loved, love him.  You know you do…And that counts.”  John stops approaching.

Ursula isn’t looking out at the ocean anymore…she’s not even looking at the sky, but her eyes are still searching.  Tear streams have dried on her chilly cheeks.  They’re itchy.  Her eyes are red and ache.  Her head’s pounding.  She doesn’t think there’s enough aspirin in two galaxies to stop it.  At the mere mention of her husband, her eyes brimmed again.  Her face contorts, she can’t breathe.  She tries to hold herself together…but…but it’s, it’s so damn hard

John starts towards her back again, “You love him.  You know your son was conceived in love.”

He hears her gasp and walks around to face her.  She can’t look at him.  Her eyes just keep darting around, searching.  Anywhere but him.  She looks like hell and John knows what he’s saying is getting through…but it’s like she wants to believe him rather than she actually does.  She’s trying to catch her breath.  Fight back the tears from coming again.  He’s not going to let her do it.

“They lied to you,” he tells her, “They lied, Kenmore.”

She looks at him.  Still fighting to breathe.

“They lied,” he tells her again.

 

 

Ronon uses the cane Jennifer’d given him to hobble around, he’d only just found out that Sheppard’d been released from the Infirmary and he wanted to get the details from Sheppard on what had happened to the group.  But he’d been wandering the city for half an hour now and can’t find his friend.  He’d radioed McKay and McKay said he hadn’t seen him but he’d help look.  Then Ronon radioed Teyla, he’d woken her up, apologized for it, but told her that he couldn’t find Sheppard.  She said he should ask Rodney or Radek to use the city’s internal sensors.  He told her that Woolsey had nixed that and after a pause ended by a heavy sigh, she said she’d help him look for Sheppard.  Right now he was going off of a lifesigns detector that Rodney’d initiated for him that he was holding in his injured slung arm’s hand.  He pretty much knew that most of the dots he was seeing on the detector’s display were people already in their own quarters for the night or those members of the city’s nightshift still working.  So that’s basically all of the dots accounted for, including himself, but there are two dots that the lifesigns detector is telling him aren’t in the normal working or sleeping confines of the city.  The little handheld device keeps indicating to him the dots’ general direction with two little arrows pointing him onward.  When Ronon was within the detector’s range of the dots, the display would zoom out to give him a proper location for them.  But until then…

Ronon follows the arrows’ general direction and takes the first hallway heading right up ahead of him.  He checks the detector again, still out of range.  But there’s a transporter up at the end of this corridor’s Y-junction that will take him a little closer.  He stands for a moment and uses his cane holding hand to swipe in front of the transporter door’s sensors, they open, and he goes inside.  The panel at the back splits open to reveal the computerized schematic of the city showing large red dots with pulsating halos indicating the other transporter stations he could go to.  He pushes the one closest to the pier he wants.  It would be about a ten minute walk in his regular physical condition from there, it’s going to be more than that now.  The transporter doors close and he’s transported.  No lights, except if you were viewing the station from outside.  No sound either unless you were standing outside waiting for the station to free up for you to use next.  You just…transported.

Ronon likes that, he leans against the cramped interior’s left side.  Taking some of the pressure off of his uninjured leg.  He feels its muscles not ease at their temporary release from duty.  For a moment he regrets not taking the wheelchair Jennifer had offered him in the Infirmary, his uninjured leg is killing him it’s so tight from bearing the burden that normally was born by two limbs, but it’s only for a moment and if stressing his leg was going to cause him to take it easy then both he and Atlantis would be better off with him leaving the place.  Or at least being taken off active duty.

The transporter doors open and he walks out into a different part of the city.  As the transporter doors close behind him, he looks down at the detector again.  He’s just in range of the two pier dots since the detector’s image of the city’s layout is so zoomed out.  At least he can tell he’s supposed to go right again.  He heads off.

He goes about ten feet before there’s another hallway intersection, he takes left and makes slow progress moving along as he ignores the next four junctions and hallway intersections.  He starts to hiss a little at his uninjured legs intense tightening to vice-like conditions.  But he keeps hobbling along with the help of the cane, Jennifer had even offered him a set of crutches after the wheelchair and he stilled had passed on them.  He turns left.  Another five minutes of hobbling and he comes up on another Y-shaped corridor junction and this time he’s not alone as he heads towards the V of the two other corridors coming together ahead of him.  Teyla comes into view heading towards him from down the V’s right extension.  They look at each other, Teyla has an activated lifesigns detector as well.

“I, too, could not convince Richard to use the city’s sensors to conduct an internal scan for John.  Rodney activated a detector for me instead.”

Ronon nods then, “Any idea who might be with him?”  It wasn’t Rodney or Jennifer.

“No, but Rodney says that he will join us as soon as he possibly can.  He is just finishing talking with Radek about the energy readings from the hologram room.”

Okay, and it wasn’t Zelenka either… “Lorne?”  Ronon offers.

Teyla walks up to his side, they’re still about five feet away from the junction’s point, but they already start aiming for taking the left extension.

Her brows furrow, “Excuse me?”

“Lorne, do you think it might be Lorne that he’s with?”

“No, I saw Evan heading to his quarters as I was leaving mine.”

Ronon nods again, Lorne’s quarters are in the same area of the city as Teyla’s.  So it’s not Lorne either.  Then that leaves only one other person he knows of, especially since as far as he knew, and Teyla had now reconfirmed, that Woolsey was still sitting in his office typing up stuff on his laptop and staring at the screen occasionally with this really weird expression on his face, almost like he wasn’t sure he knew what to write next—well it looked more like he didn’t know what to say to the thing.  So that leaves Kenmore…and that is not good.  He knows Teyla’s done the math too because she’s rushing beside him, not enough to leave him in the dust but just enough to make him speed up to keep up with her.

The rush cuts down the time he’d anticipated for getting to the pier’s doorway.  Good.  They walk up to the doors but they don’t open at their presence.  That’s to be expected.  Ronon looks out the doors’ windows and sees Kenmore’s back lit up by the city’s light being cast out onto the pier through the doors’ windows.  And Sheppard is standing in front of her, facing her.  Talking.  Passionately too.  He’s gesturing, really talking to her…but she isn’t looking at him.  If anything, she’s trying to look away from him.  Anywhere but at him.  Ronon’s brows furrow.  Something’s wrong here.  Something’s seriously wrong…Seriously not right.  He steps closer to the doors, peers through the glass.  Teyla comes up beside him, looking out the windows as well.  Her reflection’s brows knit together too.

“What is it?  What do you see,” she asks.  She’s too short to see clear enough to try and read Sheppard’s lips.  She can tell he’s gesturing though, that’s about it.

Ronon doesn’t answer her, he keeps watching.  Sheppard’s moving so much he can’t really get any full words just bits and the tensing in his uninjured leg is so tight it’s distracting.  He doesn’t know what he’s seeing…but he doesn’t like it.

 

 

“You know it.  I can see you know it.”

Even if her eyes, her face, won’t meet his, his eyes are watching hers.  She’s trying so hard to fight.  Her fists ball up beside her thighs.  He glances down at them.  More than balled up, they’re shaking.  And more…he can tell her fingers are digging into her palms.  He sees an opportunity.  One he’s willing to take…one he was never offered when he divorced Nancy but he eventually took out on a bathroom mirror that night in his rental apartment after signing the papers in that damn attorney’s office.

He looks at her still fighting to look anywhere but him.  “Punch me.”

She gasps.  Fighting the air.  Her brow contorts in pain.  And exactly what he sees there:  rage.  The combination is more commonly known as another single word.  Anguish.

“Hit me.  C’mon.”  He spreads his arms wide.  Offering himself to her.  “Hit me.  You can’t hit them but you can hit me.”

She keeps fighting.  She needs the air she doesn’t seem to be able to actually get into her lungs.  He watches her.  Damn it, quit fighting!

“Get angry.”  He demands.  “C’mon.  Hit me.”

Like a rubber band stretch way too far.  Ursula suddenly snaps and lets loose a deft right hook John never saw coming.  He’d expected her left actually.  Should have known better, they’d sparred together that morning and she’d fought favoring her right the entire time.  Her knuckles sucker straight into his nose.

John’s head snaps back and he goes down clutching his nose.  Before his body even begins to tilt backward, he can feel blood from his nostrils against his fingers.  He hits the ground.

 

 

Ronon watches Sheppard order Kenmore, spread his arms out, opening himself up, order her again, probably something like get your ass back inside…suddenly Kenmore sucker punches Sheppard with a fighter’s right hook.  Immediately Ronon slams his shoulder against one seam of the door and shoves with his good hand against the other.  His cane falling to the floor with a loud echoing clack.  Teyla’s eyes grow wide and she swipes frantically over the doors’ sensor controls.  They won’t work.  She touches the crystals.  Nothing.  She looks at the clear, four-inch long crystal slats with pieces of silver circuitry grown into them.  Pulls two of the three out.

Rodney, eyes focused on his computer tablet down in his left hand with a pink-glazed doughnut in his right hand, finally walks leisurely up to them.

“Ronon, you promised Jennifer you’d at least use the cane.  I don’t think she’s going to like it if I told her you threw it.”

Ronon grunts and grits.  Trying to shove the door open himself.  Screw door controls.

Rodney finally looks up and gapes, “What the hell?!”

Teyla looks at him, desperate, “Lieutenant Kenmore just hit John.  We cannot get the doors to open.  We cannot get to him.  He is down, Rodney, and she is not.”

Oh, Rodney hurries over but he’s pretty sure he already knows what this is about…and he’s not entirely sure that Sheppard isn’t handling the situation exactly the way he needs to be.  But still, Rodney pulls out the spare Ancient/Earth technology computer jack he carries around in his pants pocket with him.  He plugs the ‘Earth’ end into his tablet, reaches over and pulls out the center slate control crystal, slips it into his pocket, and plugs the ‘Ancient’ crystal slat plug into the center crystal’s empty slot.  He gestures for Teyla to replace the two that she’d taken out, she does.  Immediately the programming comes up on his tablet’s screen.  There are three ways he could make this easy, six he could make difficult, and only two that he could use that would make it difficult without it being blatantly obvious that he’s dragging his feet on getting the doors open.  Unfortunately, neither would take up as much time as he wanted to give…

 

 

John tries to roll over onto the side of his shoulder.  Ow, damn!  This hurts!  He hadn’t expected it to be that bad.  Of course, he had expected to have enough time to brace for it first too.  But Kenmore didn’t apparently have to think long about John’s offer…and neither had he when he came face to face with that mirror in his apartment.  I should have known.  I did it, why wouldn’t she?

Through the bright stars in his eyes, and a surge of streams of pulsating light that seemed to be emanating from his nose superimposed over that star-seeing vision, he sees Kenmore finally able to suck in the air she was fighting to inhale before.  Just like he’d thought, just like he had needed when the end of his marriage was shoved into his face against his will, he’d simply needed a release.  Someone, something to twist the valve and blow the searing steam off.  He tries to roll over onto his side again and his movements jostle his hand against his injured nose.  There’s a blaze of pain.  He winces, Aww shit.  He groans and immediately rolls back onto his back…But then he feels gravity, and a sudden heat, pressuring his nose.  God dammit!  He clamps his eyes shut and tries to grit through it, and hears Kenmore panting now.  He’d seen before that her brimming eyes, after she’d punched him, were blinking away the threatening tears.  Her panting now told him that she was clearing, she was coming back down.  She, he’d taken her to the brink.  And now she’s coming back from it…And now he really feels that he should have offered her his quarters’ bathroom mirror instead of his face.  Way to go John.

Kenmore stares out at the sky.  Blinking, she can’t stop blinking.  And panting.  Air, she can finally feel air in her lungs.  Night air, night sky.  She can finally see the sky.  Wow, it’s dark out.  She flexes her fingers in her fist.  Shifts her weight from foot to foot.  Her whole body feels new.  Renewed.  Released…then she hears the groan, then another groan.

She looks down and sees Sheppard, he rolls back from a little on his side to on his back.  He’s squeezed his eyes shut tight.  She can hear him gritting his teeth behind his hands, his breaths going in and coming out in tense sloshing hisses.

She sighs at him, rolls her eyes, and leans over him…she hears some rather psychotic sounding banging somewhere behind her…and grabs onto one of his elbows then slips her hands up his bicep and pulls it towards her a little.  He takes the hint and starts to sit up.

“Come on.  I’ll take you to the Infirmary.  Let’s go.”  Her voice sounds simultaneously slightly exasperated and sympathetic.

She helps him up to his feet, careful of not bumping his nose too much.  Once on his feet, she shepherds him off into the darkness of the unlit side of the staircase to a service entrance a few feet away underneath the stairway.  It’s the same sort of private hallway entrance that the city’s exterior grounding stations have.  The door immediately slides open at its sensing of their presence, the lights them as well and come on, and they go inside; Kenmore keeping a hand on Sheppard’s arm the entire time.

 

 

Ronon watches Sheppard on the ground.  Kenmore’s not helping him up.  She put him there and now she’s just going to stand there.  He knew there’s a reason he hates this woman.  She won’t even look at Sheppard.  Coward.  Ronon shoves harder.  Straining.  Who gives a damn if he hurts himself all over again?  Sheppard’s down and she did it.

Teyla peers out at the situation again.  John is still down trying to help himself up, rolling over to his side…suddenly he rolls back onto his back.  He cannot get up…and the Lieutenant is not helping him up.  She will not even look at him.  Teyla looks back at Rodney.

“What is taking so long?”  She knows well enough to press Rodney in a clinch like this.  Somehow unnerving him seemed to serve his abilities well.  She knew their wait would be short.  But why is it taking him so long to open these doors?

“I’m working on it,” Rodney doesn’t look up, he just keeps stalling.  Hopefully he isn’t being too suspicious about it.

Suddenly Ronon starts banging his fists on the door.  Teyla and Rodney look.  Out the windows, Kenmore is now leaning over Sheppard…and reaching down to him.  Pulling on his arm.  Teyla rises onto the balls of her feet and sees the movement jostle his hands over his nose further into his face.  John’s eyes are clamped shut at the pain but he goes along with the Lieutenant’s lead.  Rodney watches, a little afraid at first, what if Kenmore’s helping him up just to deck him again?  What if she isn’t finished?  There was a lot for her to be angry about.  Angry enough to kill Ganos Lal.  Perhaps angry enough to kill Sheppard just because he’s close enough and the Ancient woman isn’t.  But then he sees how John’s following her lead, if John was down and felt threatened, he’d kick her not let her help him get to his feet; Rodney goes back to stalling on his computer tablet, restraining a sigh of relief.

Ronon keeps banging on the doors as Kenmore takes Sheppard into the outdoor stairway’s shadowed side…and blatantly out of sight.

Teyla bolts over to Rodney’s side as Ronon goes back to his Herculean attempt to physically pry the doors open.  She peers over Rodney’s shoulder and…her eyes widen.  Crap, Rodney sputters, his fingers suddenly fly over the tablet…

“I, I, I think I’ve got it…now, there.”

Suddenly the doors split open and Ronon hobbles out to where Sheppard had been on the ground with Kenmore standing over him.

But Teyla is staring at Rodney’s profile, wide-eyed and slightly drop-jawed.  He lied.  Rodney had been lying to them about the door being both locked and stuck.  He had been stalling.  But why?

Rodney looks out at Ronon looking around.  The Satedan looks off into the shadows and tries to hobble faster than he actually can in the direction Kenmore and Sheppard had gone…he ends up falling against the side of the stairway.  Rodney immediately bolts out to his friend, Teyla follows after a moment’s hesitation.  Rodney gets a hold of Ronon’s unslung arm and tries to wrap it around his shoulders, but Ronon won’t have any of it, at least it’s not for the same reason it used to be…

“I see the service hallway’s lights are on.  They went that way.  Go after them.”  Ronon grunts.

“You need to come too.  What if you fall, Jennifer’d kill me if I let you hurt yourself again.  Mostly because you’re a crappy patient, but still,” Rodney tells him.

Ronon glares at him and it’s like old times.  Teyla touches Ronon’s free side, she is still somewhat riveted by Rodney’s actions, but he is also right.  They need Ronon to come with them.  His injuries are too unpredictable as is his temperament.  If they abandon him, he just might try to follow and a reckless Ronon is even more dangerous to himself than a controlled one.

“But you’ll lose them if you don’t go right now.  Just leave me.”

“Ronon, Rodney is right.  You must come with us,” she tells him.

Ronon looks like he wants to argue some more then apparently thinks better of it and swings his arm around Rodney’s shoulders.  Teyla tends to his slung arm, making sure no further harm comes to it.

“We won’t be able to make much time on them with me.”  Ronon says.

“Perhaps,” Teyla offers, “Rodney can find out where they are heading.”

Ronon and Teyla look over at him.  Rodney looks slightly afraid of Teyla, she knows, but catches Ronon’s expectant look and quickly fumbles around for something.

“Per, perhaps they went to the Infirmary.  To get Sheppard medical attention.”

“No,” Ronon ends that thought bluntly, “she’d never do that.  She’d be reported for striking a superior officer.”

Rodney stares at his friend like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.  This is a woman who assassinated someone on a mission and Woolsey didn’t do anything about it.”

“That’s someone else, that’s not Sheppard.”

“So?”

“The people here like Sheppard, the other soldiers do.  She won’t be able to get away with punching him as easily as she got away with killing Shiana.”

He has a point although Rodney seriously doubts it, but it’s more the way Teyla is eyeing him that makes Rodney activate his earwig.

“Gateroom, this is Rodney.”

“This is the Gateroom, Doctor McKay, is there anything you need,” comes the gate technician’s happy voice.

“Bypass Woolsey’s order and conduct an internal scan of the city for Colonel Sheppard and Lieutenant Kenmore’s locations.  I’ll take the heat from Woolsey, don’t worry about that.”

He can hear the hesitation on the other end for a few seconds before the sounds of the piano-style Ancient consoles’ buttons being pushed come to his ears, “Okay Doctor McKay.  Just a moment…Okay, I have them.”

 

 

John sits on the edge of a medical bed in the Infirmary again, only this time it’s on the foot edge of a bed and Kenmore’s standing in front of him with a tray of bandages, some antiseptic wipes, and small gauze pads beside her.  They’re in a secluded area of the Infirmary wing, sneaking over to the handful of beds from a side entrance.  Kenmore turns back to the tray and picks up an antiseptic wipe packet, rips it open, discards the wrapper on the tray, and turns back to him.  She gently dabs the wet nap against the hot skin of his bruising nose.  He flinches and hisses.  She jumps the nap away from him then puts it against his nose again.  He winces again, but she doesn’t jump the wipe back, she continues to dab at the bridge of his nose.  Her demeanor, calm and focused on what she’s doing…gentle.  She’s being careful not to hurt him, he looks up at the ceiling.

“I think you broke my nose.”

“Oh I did not.”

“I really think you did.”

“I did not.”

“And how do you know?”

“Because I didn’t feel the bone break against my knuckles,” his eyes look at her, “The cartilage didn’t even shift a little.  So I didn’t break your nose, I just popped ya’ a good one.”

He eyes her for a moment.

“Who taught you about breaking noses,” he asks.

“Me.”

“And why didn’t you break my nose?”

Her eyes lock on his, she stops tending to his wound for a moment, then goes back to gently wiping the wet nap over his tender skin.

“You’re not the one I want to hit.  An Ascended bitch who played a part in Arthurian legend, yes, you, no.”

John sort of shrugs, he can see that.  She casually tosses the pinked wipe down on the tray then suddenly puts her hands on either side of John’s face.  He freezes, tenses.  He can feel her fingers as a steady warmth against his skin, her fingertips barely touching his flesh they’re touch is so gentle.  He stares at her.  Suddenly she tilts her head and her face comes in close to his.  Her lips come together in a soft pucker.  His heart pounds in his ears.  Pulse throbbing more than his nose…then she blows softly across the bridge of his nose, the area of skin she’d just wiped clean and moistened in doing so.  Her breath isn’t warm as he’d anticipated—well actually he thought she was going to kiss him—but her breath is cool.  Feeling cold and chilling across his hot purpling skin.  Then she moves her right hand to try and touch just above the bridge of his nose to see exactly how tender he is…Suddenly there’s a glow from her palm as it comes over the injured area of his face.  Kenmore gasps and jumps back from him.  Immediately John grabs her fleeing right wrist and holds it close to his face.  She stares at her right hand.  Scared.

He’s not.  He stares at her.

“It’s the ability to heal others,” he tells her, “Don’t be afraid of it.”

“Says the man whose body isn’t doing strange things to another person…,” then it dawns on her what she just said and her expression quirks, “wait, that didn’t come out right.”  She looks at him.

He smiles at her.  Funny.

She smiles back at him.

He takes the window of opportunity and slowly draws her palm back over his bruising nose.  She’s hesitates in letting him do it, he feels her shaking in his grip and it’s not from her resistance.

“It’s okay.  Just concentrate and want to heal it.”  But he sees it’s not working with her, he tries a different tact, “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking about the mission report I read where Sam, I guess Colonel Carter to you, tried to use a Goa’uld healing device on Daniel when he was dying of radiation poisoning and she ended up almost killing him sooner than the radiation already was.  Goa’uld healing devices work off a mental component too.”

Okay, at least he can see how her mind went there first, “I think you’ll find this a little less complicated.”

Less complicated,” she exclaims at him.

He gives her a controlled nod.  “Just focus on wanting to fix me,” he tells her slowly.

She nods, finally seeming to trust him a little.  She relaxes in his grip and he brings her palm fully over his nose.  She closes her eyes and really, really wants to not end up almost killing Sheppard the way a definitely very, very well intentioned Samantha Carter almost killed one of her closest and dearest friends.  Beyond her closed eyelids, a slight glowing happens.  She keeps her eyes closed and keeps praying that let alone is that a good sign but that it also means she’s still not nearly killing Sheppard.  Almost as quickly as it had come, the glow dies away.  Sheppard’s still holding on to her wrist though, firmly, not tightly, confidently.  She opens her eyes and Sheppard moves her hand off to the side so Kenmore can see.

He’s healed.  She did it.  She pulls her arm out of his hold and leans in closer.  Her left hand comes back up to the side of his face again, holding it, her thumb brushing back and forth over his cheek.  He finds it soothing.  She brings her right hand over and tentatively puts her fingertips on the bridge of his nose.  He doesn’t wince, doesn’t move.  She puts more fingertips against his warm but not hot, newly healed skin.  He’s fine.  She moves her right hand to hold his other cheek and leans in closer still.  Again the thought that she’s going to kiss him crosses his mind.  But no, she’s just awed by the sight of him, by how she’s actually managed to heal him.  She smiles, a gasp of dumbstruck escaping her.  He smells it, her breath smells sweet, an undertone of fruitiness to it that he hadn’t expected.  He likes it.  She leans back away from him, letting go of his face, the smile staying on hers.

“Well, how ‘bout that.”

He smiles too, “Thanks for not killing me.”

She points a finger at him, “Hey, don’t joke about that.  The idea was nagging me the entire time.  I just turned it to my advantage by praying I don’t accidentally kill ya’.”

He keeps smiling at her.

“So…do ya’ wanna go get some pie,” she offers, “It’s peach made from scratch.”

He doesn’t know how it possibly can after the two trays of food he ate only about forty-five minutes ago, but his stomach manages to growl at the thought of more food.  Homemade peach pie sounds good.  Really good.

“Sure,” he nods and hops down off the bed, “Where is it?”

“Should be in the mess hall kitchen still.”

They head for the Infirmary’s main area’s back door, made up of two doors that come together like an elevator’s door, right next to the back wall of the section they’d snuck into.  The halves of the door splits open at their presence and they walk through.

“We should hurry though,” she adds, “we might want to get there before Doctor McKay does and horks it all down.”

Sheppard and Kenmore turn right and the door halves come together closed behind them.

Ronon, Teyla, and Rodney stare.  They’d managed to get here just as Kenmore’s right palm glowed over Sheppard’s face and healed his bruised nose.  At one point, Rodney thought the woman was going to kiss Sheppard but she’d simply been examining her handy work…and then their conversation, it was so, so, so…friendly.  Her whole demeanor, John’s whole demeanor, had been friendly.  Good bedside and good patient stuff.  They were smiling at each other.  Saying ‘thank you.’  Then she offers him pie…What the hell was going on?  Even Rodney knowing what had happened between them in the Void’s castle is flabbergasted…Seriously, what the hell just happened?  The three of them don’t know what to do.  They just stand there, still gaping at an unmanned space.

 

 

Kenmore and Sheppard walk down the hallway side by side, heading for the mess hall.

“So how’d you get fresh peaches, Lieutenant,” Sheppard asks.

“You know that last stop off the Daedalus made here,” he nods, “well, Stevie dropped some ones off for me, they ripened on the trip over here from Earth.”

“Stevie?”

“Yeah, Stevie, Steven,” John still isn’t following, “Steven Caldwell, Colonel Steven Caldwell, Commander of the Daedalus.”

Sheppard actually manages to laugh.  Colonel Steven Caldwell, one of the most contentious relationships John has ever had in this galaxy…is nicknamed Stevie.

“Oh…and call me Ursula.”

John turns his smile to her and he eyes her for a moment then, “John,” he says, “Call me John.”

Ursula smiles back, “Okay, I’ll try.  Don’t expect much.”  He didn’t, but he had a suspicion she just might surprise him on that too.

John and Ursula follow the hallway’s bend.

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