It was never a good thing to start the day off in Richard Woolsey’s office. Getting called into Atlantis’ permanent expedition leader’s office was like getting called to the principal’s office. Richard Woolsey is finishing gathering up some loose papers on the slick and shiny glass top of his battleship gray desk and shuffling them into neat orderly stacks in his hands as Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard looks on from his comfortable, horseshoe-shaped, semi-suede, thunder cloud purple seat opposite Woolsey’s desk.
“It is very important that Atlantis be presentable,” Woolsey was telling him.
“Yeah, well we’ll try to remember to chew with our mouths closed and not scratch ourselves during dinner.”
Woolsey pauses, shooting Sheppard a very unamused look—Whaaat, it’s not like we actually do those things. Wait, does Woolsey actually think we do those things? When have we ever done those things?—then continues tiding up his remaining papers.
Sheppard swallows hard in the silence. Okay, tread lightly John.
“Look, I don’t see why we have to jump through hoops for this guy,” Sheppard continued, “Atlantis has gotten visitors from the SGC before, like yourself, and it’s always gone well.”
Woolsey takes one last moment to tidy up everything else on his desk. The duo of law books standing up and balanced between clear glass orb bookends. The eighty degree-angle of his shining chrome industrial-looking architect’s lamp stationed in the upper left corner of the desk. His thick, zip-up black notebook that went everywhere with him, stayed zipped up and laying at a gentle angle just underneath what would be the shine of the lamp’s light, if the lamp had been on. Woolsey’s Atlantis’ fancy-issued frosted laptop, that’s what made it the fancy variety rather than the regular standard-issued ones that were the normal ‘metallic’ gray, at the desk’s upper right corner on a forty-five degree-angle so that it was at a comfortable ‘professional’ looking angle for the person sitting in the big comfy, white cushioned business chair stationed behind the desk. Sheppard watched him pay hyper attention to every little detail, lining up his pencils from largest to imperceptibly smallest next to each other with an eyesight measured distance in between them. Gees, the man was even making sure his pencils were all sparkly fit for examination. Who the hell was coming—
“One of the first times I visited Atlantis, the city was invaded by Replicators who interrogated me, General O’Neill, Doctor Weir, as well as your entire team by sticking their hands through our foreheads. I do not believe it would be an understatement to say that that experience did not go well.”
“That was one time,” John began.
“Two years ago, when Atlantis was under Colonel Carter’s command, Teal’c visited the city in order to help Ronon pass the IOA’s review and instead his visit quickly descended into an armed conflict in the cafeteria and ended with an all-out brawl in one of the training rooms which, as I recall, you instigated and were even taking bets during.”
John frowned. How’d he find out about that?
“Yeah, well when you put it like that,” John tried to defend.
“When I put it like that, Colonel, it is not unfair to say that Atlantis really does need to put her best foot forward.”
Sheppard reluctantly nods, not knowing what other incidents could be sited for every defensive he would try to make, as Woolsey stands up and walks out from around his desk. His bald, average height, crisp and clean uniformed reflection cast across the glass of his framed legal degrees on the far right side wall. Sheppard stands up, fights the urge to stretch as he always did when rising from the guest chairs in this room, they really were that comfy, much more than their professional appearance let on, and follows Woolsey out of his office, across the short railed bridge to, and through Atlantis’ constantly darkened Command Center.
“I still don’t see why we have to jump through all these hoops,” John remembered Woolsey’s own IOA review, and they all passed that one with relatively flying colors, if you didn’t take into account the whole hallucination-inducing alien first contact thing going on behind the scenes. They turned out fine. Woolsey even got named Atlantis’ first and only IOA blessed and listed permanent Expedition Leader.
“Need I remind you that let alone has Atlantis’ guests not received necessarily a warm welcome, but that other visiting officers have not either,” Woolsey went on, armed with even more citations to use against John’s efforts, “Colonel Caldwell and the Daedalus received a rather frosty welcome to Atlantis, especially by Doctor Weir and yourself, as did Colonel Ellis and the Apollo.”
Sheppard rolls his eyes, leave it to Woolsey to remember that. The two men walk down the stairway that leads into the gateroom below. On the front of every step of the stairway is a glowing line of a poem of warm greeting to all travelers coming through the gate written in Ancient. There were many more incidents the Expedition Leader could bring up ranging from Woolsey’s first visit to the Lost City of the Ancients, which entailed its own mélange of Wraith antics not to mention an absolutely spectacular front row seat to how bad they were screwing up the Retrovirus Project, and then there was what when on when Woolsey reviewed Carter, like two Wraith hiveships basically on the city’s front doorstep not to mention Todd kept in the basement. Yeah, so okay, they suck at first impressions.
“Okay,” Sheppard was finally willing to agree, “so we haven’t had a real good showing yet, but Atlantis isn’t that bad.”
“Colonel, I’m not implying that Atlantis is bad. I’m just saying her track record does not reflect that and it is time that it did.”
They stop a few steps in front of the bottom of the stairs. Woolsey adjusts his uniform, pulling down on its bottom hem to get an even more tailored, crisp, and pressed look to his overall appearance, John frowned, clearly Woolsey meant to be the first incarnation of that reflection right off the bat, as the Atlantis Stargate comes to life ahead of them and casts it’s silvery-blue undulating glow upon Woolsey and Sheppard. And its pastel peacock-colored iris is activated.
“Incoming wormhole,” the Technician’s voice announces over the citywide speakers, “I.D.C confirmed.”
The iris deactivates and the person in question passes through the gate into Atlantis’ Gateroom. Woolsey, still lit by the gate’s glow, immediately steps forward with hand outstretched for a shake.
“Welcome to Atlantis.”
* * *
Ronon Dex stands in the gateroom looking up at Woolsey’s office with his arms crossed over his chest. He can barely see into Woolsey’s office. The tall windows that make up basically the entire front of the room and its right wall aren’t blocked, but everyone inside is sitting which made it hard-seeing from two levels below no matter how much open space there was between the six-foot, four-inch tall Satedan and the place he had his sights set on. Ronon can see Sheppard’s head and, occasionally the side of his face when he turned to look next to him, but only an inch, maybe less, of the top and right side of the head of whoever their new important guest was. Sheppard seemed to be talking and gesturing at the moment though, again exposing his profile to Ronon’s view as he seemed to be addressing his remarks more directly to their unknown guest.
Ronon had never liked Woolsey’s way of doing things, but he had come to a truce with it over the course of the man’s first year as the city’s commander—that was until he’d brought Kenmore here behind all of their backs. Now… it was a very different matter—And he liked even less that Woolsey called for Sheppard to be in on a meeting that the rest of the team had not been invited to. It was just like last time, just like the day Kenmore showed up; Sheppard gets the call and only Sheppard. The rest of the team had come along only because Sheppard’d invited them along his way to Woolsey’s office. Well… Ronon was here…
As he continues to stare down the higher up office and its occupants, he wonders what other secrets that have been kept behind their backs are being currently revealed. Is this person another team member? A sixth? Is Kenmore really half-Ancient? Or was she like Ronon had always thought, still thought despite the evidence to the contrary, that this new Lieutenant Kenmore was a Wraith Queen—an enemy leader—captured behind their backs and exposed to some new version of Doctor Carson Beckett’s retrovirus that now managed to work on Wraith females? And had this other team—perhaps Lorne’s team since Kenmore seemed to be so chummy with the Major on a “past acquaintance” sort of a basis—also taken a young Wraith male hostage and exposed him to this new retrovirus and now had him walking around Atlantis posing as this Lieutenant’s son? Ronon huffed a disgruntled chuff to himself, buffeting his chest up and down and his body from side to side while still maintaining his footing in a nonchalant movement of condescension. Teyla Emmagan, leader of the refugeed Athosian people and one of Ronon’s teammates since he first came to the Lost City of the Ancestors, walks up behind him, looking at her friend then up at Woolsey’s office then back at Ronon.
“What is it,” she asks him as she comes up beside him. The teal silk with its print of forest curling vines and flower buds and blooms and black grommetted leather Athosian sleeveless vest-corset coming to a close just below the base of her throat with a twin pair of black metal flower blooms standing out in marked contrast to his simple dark brown long-sleeve Satedan shirt of crinkled silk with complimentary dark brown leather sewn over the shirt’s forearms and thin strips of the leather creating an inch border from the shirt’s wrap neckline and it’s bottom hem. Another contrast, she wears for pants what all other members of the Atlantis Expedition wear, although she is not from Earth as they are, and Ronon wears his Satedan black worn heavy canvas pants with belt and chaps made of some black reptilian hide that some of the members of Atlantis had told her bore a striking resemblance to a creature on Earth called a crocodile except for the color, his holster of black Satedan leather clinging tightly to his right thigh and hanging heavy from his waist with its burden of his large pistol.
“New arrival,” he grumbles.
And she knows that grumble. What its sound means… her eyes travel up and down his body in her own analytical way. He doesn’t look at her.
“Are they like Lieutenant Kenmore,” Teyla asks, trying very hard to keep the sigh out of her voice. But…
She peers up at Woolsey’s office too. Curious.
His answer was short, concise, and to his point. Teyla glances at him and decides not to push him on the matter. It seemed things were unstable enough as it is. Her rich espresso eyes return upward.
The pair continue to stare up at Woolsey’s office as Doctor Rodney McKay walks up behind them eating a fluffy vanilla cake doughnut capped with a glaze of rich chocolate and looking over a document on the screen of his computer tablet balancing on his other free forearm. He looks up at them and, at seeing their attentions so intently rapt, looks up at Woolsey’s office too then back at his teammates. He slowly approaches them and takes up position standing on Ronon’s free side. And joins his friends in their ongoing vigilance of Woolsey’s office.
“Is it a man or a woman,” Teyla asks.
“Man,” Rodney answers matter-of-factly before Ronon could offer his guess.
Ronon and Teyla look over at him. McKay goes back to looking at his computer screen and takes another bite of doughnut, turning it into half a doughnut.
“You know who it is,” she asks shocked.
Ronon adjusts his stance to better interrogate his friend head-on. Perhaps this was a meeting that just the alien members of the team weren’t allowed to know about.
Rodney shrugs, “Sort of, not many women go bald like that.” He pointed out.
Oh, so that was it. Teyla and Ronon look back up into Woolsey’s office and it is true that the head of their guest is balding not unlike Richard Woolsey himself, although their guest’s hair seems to have grayed quite a few inches at its sides and ends around the back of his head and what color did remain was dark gray, maybe even black once, but now peppered with the infringing lighter graying hair.
“Like what?” Came the voice behind them.
The little group turns around to see Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore approaching them. They finish turning around in order to face her.
“Mister Woolsey has a guest and he is apparently balding,” Teyla informs her, politely.
“Good,” Kenmore retorts as she walks up to them with her hands in her pant’s pockets, “now the coward’s got company. So… who is it?”
Ronon and Teyla look over at McKay again, Kenmore follows suit.
“So who is he,” she asks him.
“Is he from the SGC,” Teyla asks him.
“Or the IOA,” Ronon asks him.
“Neither.” Sheppard’s voice comes up with the answer behind the trio of his team members.
They turn around and look at Sheppard just coming down the gateroom’s greeting stairway, following Woolsey and Atlantis’ new guest: former General, Jacob Carter. Kenmore’s face immediately beams and she runs between Ronon and McKay and straight into Carter’s open and waiting arms and equally beaming face.
“Hey kid-o,” he welcomes her happily.
John looks at him, even with eyes closed in their embrace it’s blatantly plain to see how much the General is happy to see Kenmore, to touch her, to hold her in his arms… there’s an almost paternal, grandfatherly quality to him with regards to Kenmore that John… envies. No one he’s ever known before has ever welcomed him back into their lives with the sort of vibe the General was giving off with Kenmore in his arms, Hell, at the very sight of her. Even when she hadn’t noticed them coming down the stairs, John had noticed Carter’s immediate smile when his eyes had caught sight of her, wearing her black BDU pants and her three-quarter sleeve black shirt with its somewhat plunging vee-neckline and long, naturally curly and wavy, dark brown hair flowing over her shoulders. For some strange reason, John had never thought of generals as fathers or grandfathers before, whether they were still in their uniforms or had been out of them for years or wore entirely different and new ones, like General Carter was now. A Tok’ra uniform of a brown leather shortsleeve jacket with strap and buckle closures, black and brown Milky Way alien reptile leather ‘jacket’ underneath the first with matching brown leather pants, and a brown leather belt with a second ‘belt’ made of the brown alien reptile leather sewn on top of it. Sheppard looked down at the General’s brown leather wrist cuffs with brown alien reptile tripe panels and layered brown leather boot covers and the lacing up their backs. John just never thought of them that way.
“General,” she practically squealed with one of the brown textured tripe leather shoulder panels of his outer jacket pressed against her cheek, the fabric may initially look tough but years of wear have reduced it to the feel of soft cotton against her cheek. Then she came out of their hug, but remained in his embrace, “what are you doing here?”
Immediately, Carter’s eyes close and his head dips down. His chin coming to rest for only a heartbeat on his chest. Then his face comes back up and his once closed eyes open again and flash with a glowing light that never leaves them…
“We have business here,” Selmak tells her.