The door splits open… and Richard Woolsey leans into peek around the cramped room. There doesn’t seem to be anyone here, but looks can be deceiving especially in this room with all of its tall and full foliaged greenery blocking every single view of the walls and the Ancient light sconces. Necessitating the Expedition adding umbrella lights all over the place where the intensely lit overhead triangle-shaped inlaid ceiling lights weren’t enough. According to the city’s internal sensors, Kanaan should be here. He felt awkward simply addressing him as Kanaan. He’d referred to him as Kanaan Emmagan once in front of Teyla and she quickly informed him that it was simply Kanaan. After embarrassing himself, Richard hadn’t asked the next question and it’s been nagging him ever since, what is Kanaan’s last name? Teyla’s is Emmagan, their son Torren’s is—Sure enough the sounds of an infant’s attempt at laughter comes loud and clear. Kanaan is here with his and Teyla’s son. Richard steps in and the doors close behind him with a whisper of pneumatic hiss.
The administrator looks around, the problem now is that the infant laughter had echoed. With how the room is designed and how it’s being used by the Expedition, it’s created a funnel effect. Let alone is the artificial wind created by the city’s air conditioning system easily sent all throughout the area, but also sound. Between the breeze and the sounds… Richard looks to his left then his right, hears Torren babbling happily in his baby talk. And opts for the right. It’s not because he thought that Torren’s voice is originating in that direction, it’s simply the belief that at least he could circle himself counter-clockwise.
He goes through two other flora crowded rooms before he comes to Kanaan’s work area. A simple stainless steel table on rollers with a single shelf beneath it residing as off to one side of the room as it can possibly get. The shelf crowded with crates full of empty orange containers with bright white plastic caps meant for samples and the top shelf’s covered with dusting brushes with especially soft bristles, an electronic magnifying glass, a few samples containers containing items for later analysis, and a white plastic pot with a single plant in it. For a moment Woolsey waits at the doorless entrance to the room and watches Kanaan tenderly seeing to the gorgeous, brilliant ice white bloom standing out from a relatively thin and practically leafless, verdant stem. Not unlike a Faberge egg balancing on the head of a dowel with an occasional sprout of almond shaped paper along the dowel’s length. It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful flower is poisonous considering this morning’s West Pier reports. Finally Richard balls up one of his hands into a fist and begins to raise it to his mouth to cough to let Kanaan know that he’s there when Kanaan suddenly…
“Do you need something, Mister Woolsey?”
Woolsey stares at the man whose unflinchingly calm countenance reminds him so much of Teyla’s. It must be an Athosian trait.
Richard lowers his hand back down by his side and steps further into the room, “I, I—“
Kanaan looks over at him, the concern blatant in the pinch of his dark eyebrows, “Is something wrong? Has something happened to Teyla?”
Richard freezes. Even Torren’s adamant babbling has stopped in the presence of his father’s sudden fear.
Quickly Richard shakes his head and puts those fears to rest, “No, no, Colonel Sheppard’s team isn’t in trouble. It’s,” his voice fails him. This is so uncomfortable for him to speak about. He thought if he went to someone that he didn’t know so well that it would be easier. Isn’t that what people always say about going to psychiatrists? Originally he’d thought about going to one of the newer therapists, Doctor Stewart maybe, she’s kind and attentive, but… But it’s not easier. Not to him at least. And the more he thinks about it, standing here, he really doesn’t know anybody that well in the entire city so he could have walked up to anybody to talk about this. He could have gone to Patricia Stewart after all, knocked on her office door or sat with her at one of the outdoor tables of the Mess Hall. The problem—
He feels the hand on his left bicep. It’s just there. No intense pressure, simply comfort. Richard looks from the floor to Kanaan’s hand on his arm then up at the Athosian man’s face. Despite the somewhat Cro-Magnon features, immediately he can see what Teyla sees in Kanaan, why she chose him as the father of her child and, perhaps, why she fell in love with him. There’s something to the Athosian farmer… former Athosian farmer that’s incredibly calming, soothing. It’s like he’s made entirely of compassion. The look in his eyes tell Richard somehow that everything is going to be okay without the alien man saying a word. It’s also incredible to Richard to realize that this humane man has Wraith DNA inside of him, although the same can be said of compassionate motherly Teyla. Until you saw her fight. And like Teyla, the rumor around the city is that Kanaan was pretty much an equal match to Ronon as well. However, unlike Teyla, he preferred to be less aggressive in his sparring matches and held back his hits some. Something Ronon has been unsuccessfully trying to break him of for almost a year now.
“One of our First Contacts, a contact involving me, didn’t apparently go so well,” Richard admits.
Kanaan remains silent and lets him say whatever he needs to say.
“I, uh… they apparently find me to be too aloof.”
Richard looks around the jungle-like room again, at the surrounding giant leafed ferns and things that looked like banana leaves and eucalyptus, and inexplicably formed Birds of Paradise plants. But it’s for distraction’s sake. He forces his eyes to return to Kanaan’s continuingly reassuring gaze.
“I don’t know how not to be aloof.”
Kanaan offers him a kind smile and gestures offeringly to a seat on a nearby stool. Richard accepts. Kanaan returns to the flower as Richard sits on his stool facing Torren in his playpen, an Earth one. It’d been a gift from some of the members of the Expedition to Teyla when she was alone in the city and Kanaan and the other Athosians had been captured and, although they hadn’t known it at the time, were being held by Wraith Hybrid Michael. Again Richard can’t help but notice how odd the little boy looks wearing his green shirt covered with a purple little jacket, green corduroy pants, and matching green leather shoes, all in the style of his parents’ culture, playing with Athosian toys in such a definitely non-Athosian designed item. The people of the Pegasus Galaxy don’t have synthetic materials like nylon or hard plastic.
“Why,” Kanaan asks.
“Why do you not know how not to be aloof?” It’s a simple enough question and Kanaan’s voice carries absolutely no sense of judgment when asking it.
Dick sighs and actually does feel some of the tension ebb from his shoulders. This is easier. He’s made the right decision in coming to Kanaan. Not that Doctor Stewart wouldn’t have been a bad choice, she has a nice smile.
“Because…,” Dick begins slowly then the thought changes in his mind and he has to ask Kanaan a simple enough question of his own, “Do you have people known as bullies in Athosian society?”
Kanaan looks over at him with a puzzled look. It tells Richard all he needs to know, he nods and begins again.
“On Earth we have these people called bullies. They enjoy abusing and harassing other people. Sometimes bullies become physically violent with the people their harming and other times their words do greater violence to their victims. I was bullied.” Still am considering the I.O.A. and many in the Stargate Program.
Kanaan stops gently brushing the leaves of the alien orchid. He puts down the horsehair tool and turns to Richard.
“Some of the bullies are even children. In fact becoming a bully usually begins when we’re all children,” Richard interrupts him, sensing what the question was before Kanaan could say it.
As Richard thought would happen, Kanaan’s eyes dart to his son playing with some sort of top. Holding it in his small plump hands and trying to stuff its soft wooden edges into his drooling mouth. Happy, content. Safe.
“Yes,” Richard says, also watching Torren’s natural born innocence at play.
“We do have bullies in Athosian society and it too begins in childhood,” Kanaan tells him. Richard’s eyes go to the man’s profile as he continues watching his son blissfully ignorant of anything beyond the confines of his square mesh-enclosed play area, “It was one of the things that brought Teyla and I together. Many people in my culture were once afraid of the Gift Teyla and I share and have inevitably passed on to our son.
“When we were children, the other children abused us. They tried to cause Teyla and I great harm by throwing stones at us or attacking us in the forest around our village, but… when we sensed the Wraith approaching and learned that that was what that feeling meant and told our elders about it, the others of our village began to value and prize our Gift, to truly view it as a Gift to all our people. Eventually the cruelty stopped as our warnings saved the families and lives of those that had once tried to harm us.
“I pray now that Torren will not have to suffer such abuse,” Kanaan’s dark eyes turn to meet Richard’s, “I believe he will not have to. There will be other challenges for him in the future his mother and I are creating for him, in the future we are all creating for he and the other children of this galaxy both like and unlike him.”
Richard nods and feels a smile perk at the corners of his mouth. Yes, Kanaan is the perfect person to come to about this and perhaps about other things in the future. There seems to be a sort of kinship between the two of them, Richard had almost forgotten about what had previously transpired against the people who had the Gift. A massacre so heinous that no one spoke about it anywhere at any time. A bloodbath so vicious that it frightened every man and woman in this galaxy into fearing that they just might be even more violent and cruel towards their fellow humans than even the Wraith that tortured all humans on a daily basis. It must have been a terrible realization for them, betrayed by their own natural brutality and fear. And it must have been even worse for those they’d murdered, betrayed by those they felt safe with, betrayed by their own trust.
“Then you understand why it is so difficult for me to be open with people I don’t know. There’s always that potential, that ghost of abuse there. I don’t feel safe around strangers enough to,” words fail him again.
“Why has it been easy for you to tell me,” Kanaan asks. Torren makes a restless coo, getting a little fussy and perhaps a little bored with his toy top. Kanaan slips off his protective gloves and goes over to his son. He lifts his little boy up out of the playpen and holds him in his arms, bouncing a bit to get his little one’s amusement back up.
“I don’t get the impression that you judge people, that you’d abuse,” Richard trails off again, this time sensing that he’s drifting into uncomfortable territory but he’s not sure how to say it comfortably. He doubts there is a way to say it comfortably.
“Do you not get the same impression from these people?” Kanaan leans back down over the pen with Torren to fetch another toy, some sort of small stuffed animal.
Dick considers that. He remembers the sunlight of the planet, the lush green foliage that was simultaneously inviting and protective. The people, an exact reflection of the sentiment of their environment. Large wide huts with no walls, just posts that held up the leafy roof. Warm smiles everywhere, kindness everywhere. Cool hands… what’s the expression, ‘Cold hands, warm heart’. He looks up at Kanaan.
“No. Actually, I don’t. They seem very much like you and Teyla.”
“Then why do you not simply tell their leader exactly what you have told me. As I believe Teyla informed Doctor Weir and Doctor Beckett, Charin knew that our world was not the only one to have Gifted people. Perhaps these people have had Gifted people as well.”
Richard nods at Kanaan and Torren and genuinely considers the idea. Torren starts doing this spitting sort of burbling against the fur of his stuffed animal’s arm and Kanaan and Richard smile at the infant boy as Kanaan bounces his son a little in his arms again. Torren smiles and proceeds to start chewing on one of his stuffed animals arms.