It’s very… foresty. That may not actually be a word, but it is the best description. Everywhere they look since leaving the village is woods, woods, and more woods. For Kenmore it was like going down her family’s ranch’s driveway. A wide green-covered lane with tall lush woods consisting of evergreens, birches, and wild maples and oaks on either side with the occasional oddity of a fruit tree such as a wild apple or a flower tree such as a lilac showing up here and there. The group continues walking up the ‘garden path’; it isn’t a path so much as an aisle of tall grass that winds through the trees. Daniel leads the line followed by Kenmore then Sheppard then Rodney followed by Teyla and finally Ronon.
“You know I’m glad we got this time together.”
“Thanks Doc, it’s always nice to hang out with you too,” Sheppard answers.
Daniel’s mouth tightens slightly. Whoops, messed that one up. He’s not sure how to say this exactly, “Actually,” he opts for sheepishly, “I was talking to Ursula.”
Sheppard’s pacing eases a moment, he looks up at the back of the archeologist’s head. Whoops, “Oh,” his pacing returns.
Kenmore smiles, “Really, Daniel? Why?”
“Well, for a start neither you nor Michael have responded to any of my letters.”
Ursula stops and quirks her face at Daniel’s back, “What letters?”
This time it’s Daniel’s turn to stop, he turns and looks back at her with his own quirked expression, bringing the whole group to a halt, “What do you mean ‘what letters’? I’ve sent dozens of letters to both of you starting with two for each of you written the day you both left.”
Ah, now she gets it, she starts nodding. A bitter smile comes to her lips, “So… Woolsey’s confiscating our mail. How wonderful.”
Daniel starts smiling bitterly too, his lips pursing so tight they almost disappear. “Ah, isn’t though? So I guess that answers that then.”
Kenmore nods with an ‘mmm-hmmm’. Yep, it sure does, “Well, you know you could always tell me what’s been happening since we’ve left? We’ve got the time now.”
Daniel glances at the others then abruptly turns and starts their line moving again, “I’d rather you’d read the letters.”
“That mean spirited towards Atlantis, huh?” Ursula picks her way over a rotting twig. No need to attract any predatory attention since they’re bound to run into a lot of it when night falls.
Daniel’s expression squints and squirms even though none of the others can see his face and he hopes his body posture and demeanor didn’t give any of himself away either as he stays silent.
Ursula’s smile tightens. She knows what that means, Daniel keeping mum and trying way too hard to look normal when he suddenly starts walking stiffly. Classic overcompensation from him. All that’s missing from the way he used to avoid confrontations like this sort is him bunching up his hands into white-knuckle fists and awkwardly holding them, stiff-armedly, down by his sides.
Hey. “You know we aren’t that bad. I mean you personally know, Doctor Jackson, that we’re not bad people,” John speaks up.
“But you aren’t family,” Kenmore points out.
“And that’s the point,” Jackson adds.
Teyla eyes John wondering if he gets the point of their earlier conversation regarding Ronon now.
Sheppard thinks he can see the Doc and Kenmore’s point. He doesn’t like it, but he thinks he can see it. He feels the same way about his team. It’s that he doesn’t like it when it’s his team that are the outsiders, his team that aren’t the ones considered family.
Rodney, trying and failing miserably to cover how severely winded he is, has to say this, “You know maybe if you tried to actually make friends then you would, I don’t know, start to have a family here too.”
“I do have family here.”
“Like who,” he asks.
“Like Lorne, among others. What, you thought all your personnel just came poof out of nowhere? Most of them come from the SGC first, Doc. That’s Cheyenne Mountain. I know plenty of people in Atlantis already and I have actually made some new friends in the city as well.”
Rodney really wanted to do the coughing while saying ‘Bullshit’ thing, but he went with his usual go to: sarcasm. “Oh really? And what do these ‘new friends’ talk to you about, you know over your imaginary tea parties?”
Kenmore smirks as Daniel looks back to glare at McKay. It’s okay that Daniel wants to do that, Ursula has more than enough intel to count as ammo to aim at the obnoxious man to make her not rise to his bait.
“Oh, well, they do let me in on the local scuttlebutt,” she plays coy.
McKay isn’t buying that for a second, “Which would be?”
“That about half of the city thinks the Colonel’s screwin’ Emmagan.”
“What,” Teyla suddenly exclaims behind them.
Everyone but Kenmore freezes. She keeps walking with her eyes still down on the ground making sure she isn’t about to screw up her steps by losing her footing on some stupid rock stuck halfway out of the ground and twisting her ankle. The top of her head runs into Daniel’s chest and that stops her. She looks up at him. Slack jawed. Big eyed. He’s shocked. She looks back at the others. So are they. Sheppard is staring at her with wide-eyes. Emmagan is also wide-eyed with shock and there’s enough of something else to her expression that Dex, whose well within her striking range, has taken a few steps back away from the Athosian woman.
Sheppard manages to calm himself down into seething so much that he has to say this slowly or else he’s really sure the Fomorians and their mutant monkeys are definitely going to hear him from here, “What… did… you… say?”
“That about half the city thinks you and Emmagan are sleeping together.”
“We are not. We will never. My partner is Kanaan.” The furious Athosian woman takes stiff jerking steps towards the Lieutenant. Every part of her tiny body vibrating with anger. Suddenly she didn’t look so small and tiny. Those Bola Kai definitely hadn’t stood a chance in hell and the fire in Teyla’s eyes show that a simple Lieutenant from Earth surely won’t either, Teyla Emmagan will make sure of it.
Kenmore nods at the Athosian though. She knew Emmagan wasn’t doing anything like that with Sheppard. The woman wasn’t doing anything with Sheppard other than being on his team and being his friend—without benefits. But that still isn’t what the rest of the city is saying… or thinking.
“I know,” Kenmore says, “I’ve seen you and your family, reminds me of my own.”
That eases Teyla. A little. She does know how Lieutenant Kenmore feels about her child and her love for her deceased husband, indeed everyone in the city knows that. The fact that the Earth woman says that the affection Teyla shows and has for her own family is reminiscent… Teyla nods. Yes, that does cause some of her wrath to ebb. Teyla starts walking again.
Ronon, sensing that Teyla wasn’t going to attack Kenmore anymore—regrettably—for talking about his friend’s strongly kept private life, starts following. During his time living with the Athosians on New Athos after the rest of the people in Atlantis returned to Earth when some Ancients came back and took control of the city, he learned that all Athosians keep their family lives private. Really, really private. And they guard that privacy like a precious gift meant for them and them alone.
The rest of the group takes Teyla’s behavior as their cue as well to start walking again. But not everybody is eased by Kenmore’s words.
“And what does the other half of the city think,” Sheppard growls, eyeing her back darkly.
“That you and McKay are gay lovers.”
Whoa. Wait. What?! John and Rodney’s steps stop immediately. They stare at Kenmore’s back. Still moving on even if neither of them are following her.
“What,” McKay squeaks like a spooked mouse, “What did you say?! You did not just say that! Seriously you did not just say that!”
“Oh yes I did. And by the way they even have a codename for it.”
The two men dart up to her.
“Which would be,” Rodney blurts.
Kenmore’s smiling turns into gloating. What’s the appropriate saying for this… Ah, yes, ‘Have them by the short and curlies’. “I’m not telling,” she sing-songs.
“As your commanding officer, I order you to tell me the codename,” Sheppard demands.
Kenmore’s eyes slide over to him, still gloating, “I’ve been on three missions with you and it is really cute that you think pulling rank on me is going to work. Freakin’ adorable.”
God damn it. Sheppard glares at her.
Rodney starts grasping at straws, “Oh my God, half of the city thinks we’re… we’re…”
“Don’t even, McKay,” John warns him dangerously.
Kenmore pretends to cough, “McGay.”
Rodney glares at her as Daniel stifles the chuckles. Sheppard isn’t happy about that joke either.
“But, but, but why would they think that,” Rodney sputters.
“Maybe because they know you, Rodney,” Daniel’s gloating now too.
Rodney stares at him.
“Actually about the same amount of people that think you and Sheppard are together think that Emmagan and Doc Keller are lesbian lovers,” behind Sheppard and Rodney, Teyla’s jaw drops and her eyes widen once again, “Yeah, they think that you’re using Keller and Sheppard’s playing up a ‘crush’,” she gestures bunny fingers, “on Emmagan and that Keller and Emmagan are using, well, you Doc McKay, and both Sheppard and her partner as beards so that no one’ll figure out your secrets.”
Teyla cannot believe her ears. Even as she walks right into a low hanging spindly tree branch. It slaps her across the left eye. She yelps as her head jolts back from the strike. Everyone stops and looks back, worried, as Teyla staggers away from the tree branch. Covering her struck, squeezed shut eye with her hand. Her uninjured eye still wide open. Staring at the Earth-born when her dropped jaw finally manages to enable her to speak…
“What the Hell is wrong with you people?!”
They all stare at her. Shocked. Did Teyla Emmagan just cuss? At the top of her lungs? Did the ‘Nice One’ really just say that? Let alone did Teyla just curse for the first time ever, but… Wow. Everyone’s afraid to move. Well, almost everyone.
Rodney turns to Kenmore, “Why does everyone think I’m gay? Let alone that I’m with him.” He gestures at Sheppard.
All eyes turn to the Canadian.
“Really, McKay,” Daniel asks in the same disbelieving and accusing tone of voice that he had when it suddenly dawned on him that Rodney can really only give a compliment when he thinks the person he’s complimenting is dying.
“Actually pretty much everyone thinks you’re the man in the relationship and Sheppard’s the woman,” Kenmore clarifies.
All eyes return to her.
“What?” Rodney leans towards her, tilting his head; he isn’t sure he heard that right.
“Basically everybody thinks that because Sheppard is always in command publicly, you know being the Military Commander of the Expedition and all, that when it comes to the bedroom, he’s the one who likes to be pampered and taken care of. You know, the Girlie One. There’s even artwork depicting it.”
“What?!” Sheppard’s voice cracks.
“Yeah, apparently people think you’re a,” she tries to get this out with a straight face, “snuggle bunny.”
Wide eyes. Jaw looking like it’s being held up solely by his chest. John Sheppard has never looked more floored in his life.
“I am not gay.” He turns to Rodney. “Tell them we’re not—”
“I’m the masculine one,” Rodney’s actually smiling now. Who’d have thought when he’d asked John in private if the man thought that the two of them were equally attractive and John had replied by asking Rodney whose been lying to him, that they’d end up here… Really, Jeannie, I’m no John Sheppard? Really?
“Rodney,” Sheppard yells at him.
“I’m the man,” McKay points at himself, gloating like he had after John had pushed him off a balcony near the Command Center and Rodney had popped up with his own sing-song of ‘in-vul-ner-able’ at Peter Grodin and then Expedition leader Elizabeth Weir.
“Rodney!” Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard looks around. He can’t believe this. He cannot believe this. This cannot be happening. It cannot… he refocuses on Kenmore. “I am not gay.”
Kenmore smirks, “My thinkth the feminine identifiable gender role in the homosexual relationship doth protest too much.”
He fumes at her and she can’t help but laugh at him. His shoulder muscles rankle, he’d expected her to do that from the moment he heard that damn Shakespeare paraphrase leave her mouth. Knew she was going to laugh at him. Then in an uncharacteristic, at least for her time so far with his team, she shows a bit of generosity and consideration.
She calms herself down then, “If it’s any consolation, there are a group of people in the city that believe Emmagan and Specialist Dex are together. And there’s artwork of that too.”
Ronon and Teyla’s heads shoot up at her in unison and the expressions on their faces… yes, that does make John feel a little bit better. What’s the saying, ‘Misery loves company’.
“Say what,” Ronon says.
“There’s a picture of Emmagan wearing basically a green version of the like skanky Princess Leia slave outfit from Return of the Jedi only with a lot less fabric and a hell of a lot more gold doing some apparently our people’s idea of some sort seductive Athosian bellydance by a campfire for your onlooking pleasure.”
Teyla is horrified. Her eyes are bugging out of her skull. Her mouth is trying desperately to but she can’t form words. Her brain simply can’t do it. Ronon’s brain has come to such a staggering stop he’s not sure it can actually process anything anymore either. John feels even better.
Daniel reads the cues he’s seeing from Teyla and Ronon’s body language, and Sheppard’s too, and quietly turns on the balls of his feet and starts walking again. After a few moments of not hearing anyone else’s shuffling foliage behind him, he clears his throat loudly. Eventually he hears the others following him again. But he knows better than to simply believe what his ears are telling him, he does exactly what Teal’c has taught him over the decade plus he’s been friends and teammates with the Jaffa warrior. He shuts out all the extemporaneous sounds of the forest like breezes in the trees, birds and other wildlife skittering around, and hones his sense on the sounds of feet ruffling through tall and short grass. He listens carefully to the distinct sounds of their treads, heavy but stealthy, light with a dancer’s agility, plodding with effort and absolutely no care for quiet, and two other average footsteps that sound very familiar to him because he’s spent the last ten plus years around soldiers… yes, all of them are following him. Right now he’s going to take their silence as a good sign and keeps going.