The doors, a massive double-set that took up almost the whole wall, split open on a room that was cast in shadows that seemed to drape the walls like massive thick velvet curtains drape a stage. It was lit only by the icy-blue glow of several crystalline buttons from the three computer consoles linked together to form a semi-circle in the middle of the room. Kenmore and Ronon walk in, guns at the ready, flanking Rodney on either side. The stark light given off by the blue lights show that what details of the room that can be seen are nothing more than more of those golden segmented wall columns stationed around the doors’ frame, the corners of the room, and guarding either side of a giant upside-down pyramid shape made out of the same black stone as the doors inset into a piece of the same segmented gold design as the columns only this time it was wide enough to be considered like a floor to ceiling fireplace surround on one wall. As soon as the Lieutenant and the weapons Specialist figure out the room’s clear, which doesn’t take long, Rodney immediately heads for the middle console of the computer. The twin bulky doors close behind them and Kenmore and Ronon ease. Rodney looks over the computer’s paneling.
“Do any of you know how to read Goa’uld?”
The other two look at him.
“Ancient Egyptian? No, not really. We had other team members that did that,” Kenmore tells him.
“Like who,” Rodney asks her. Kenmore never really talked about her previous SG team in even remote specifics like this. She just continued to refer to herself as one of their members, as part of Cheyenne Mountain still. All the rest of them, except for her actual friends in Atlantis, actually knew about her team was from the team designation patch she still wore on her BDU jacket’s right shoulder: they were SG-25.
“Daniel Jackson,” she answers him.
Oh well Dannyboy… Rodney goes back to the actually pretty foreign computer in front of him. Give him an Ancient computer even a Wraith computer and he’d have the thing spilling it’s alien motherboard’s guts to him just pick a speed, any speed. Usually the quicker, the better. But Goa’uld computers… Well, he supposed he couldn’t complain that much. Oh he’d complain, just not that much. He’d helped out on the dissecting of the Goa’uld Death Gliders SG-1 had captured in order to reverse engineer the F-301s, F-302s, and the prototypes of each one years ago back at Area 51. It had been fulfilling work and he had even been called in a couple of times for work on the astrophysics of the Stargate itself at the SGC. But still, by that time it was well-known and well-established fact that the Goa’uld were not the ones who created the Stargate network, they’d just scavenged it from the race that had: the Ancients. Which technically put that last boast to himself under the heading of Ancient technology not Goa’uld. He looks over the computer console in front of him again, and it’s smoothed and polished gray cut-stone paneling with a handful of tall rectangular lights going up and down it’s sides and one short elongated one stretching across the console’s raised back panel, the upside down pyramid-shaped panel of stone whose edges are illuminated by still more elongated narrow rectangular lights underneath the main computer panel, and all the hyper-ornate detailing on the computer’s top paneling that served absolutely no purpose other than letting some alien parasite in someone’s skull say ‘Oh look at my stuff, isn’t it sleek and stylish and it’s so much prettier than yours’. There’s more long minutes of silence. Rodney McKay has absolutely no idea what to do with this thing. Finally Rodney gives up on trying to read the console’s top panels, he digs his fingernails underneath the gray, actually metal, plate that was the center panel, and begins to try and pry the plate off the console. Well, if he couldn’t figure it out the easy way, he should at least still be able to guess at what this thing does from its insides.
He strains for a moment then the plate pops up and he lays it on the carved surface of the panel next to the console. He reaches behind him, blindly unzips the large pocket on his tacvest located at the base of his back, and pulls out his computer tablet. Then he pulls out a jack from one of the upfront pockets of his vest and plugs one end into his computer tablet. He surveys the mess of exposed and fully lit thick, flat half-circle crystals of the computer panel, trying very hard to remember the guts of those Death Gliders from all those years ago, then plucks out the central crystal bearing a ribbon of emerald green on its showing half-circle curved edge, puts the crystal down on the removed console plate, and plugs the other end of his jack into the newly vacated slot in the heart of the nest of slatted crystals just where he hoped a place for it to plug into would be. Thank God his memory was eidetic. He grinned to himself, thank god he’s a genius, where would these people be without him? Rodney taps a few buttons on his computer tablet’s screen. The frosty blue glow its screen casts upon his face changes to stark white with accents of amber and gold. He was in. He looks up.
“One of us should radio the others just to make sure we haven’t lost communication.”
Without hesitation, Kenmore reaches up and switches on her shoulder radio much to Ronon’s apparent displeasure. Rodney couldn’t possibly think of why, it wasn’t like Ronon was normally the one to suddenly jump up and go ‘I’ll do it’ when that question was normally asked in the team, and that was before Lieutenant Kenmore showed up. The scientist goes back to his tablet with a dismissive shrug.
“Kenmore to Sheppard,” the Lieutenant spoke into her activated radio.
Sheppard’s voice came over the radio loud and clear, “Sheppard here, what is it?”
“McKay wanted us to report in to make sure the radios haven’t gone on the fritz the way the lifesigns detectors have.”
* * *
Sheppard, Carter, and Teyla are slowly, stealthily walking down another corridor as dark as the room the tank was in had been. Sheppard glances over at his comrades. Good one, McKay.
“Okay, well they work,” he said instead. No need to give the scientist an already bigger head than he’d had for years now. Especially considering he was obviously listening in. John didn’t even like to give Rodney that much credit in private conversation with other people in Atlantis for fear it would get back around to the scientist’s ears and then John would never live it down wherever he went in the city. Once when they’d met a ten thousand-year old version of the Expedition’s first leader, Doctor Elizabeth Weir, and she’d regaled them with the story of how the ‘first’ Expedition arrived in Atlantis and, in particular, Rodney’s heroics from the quickly flooding gateroom, John couldn’t help but comment after Rodney complimented himself on his manly, life-saving actions… ‘But ultimately failing,’ John’d said then crossed his arms over his chest complete with a condescending smartass smirk at the arrogant astrophysicist to which Rodney just glared at him. He just couldn’t help himself shooting down Rodney’s big head, it was a necessary action. Otherwise they’d all have killed Rodney about a dozen times over for each of them by now just for his condescending retorts to everyone.
* * *
Kenmore looks over at Rodney.
“Well keep the line open,” he says loud enough to be sure the radio’s caught his voice, “I want to make sure we don’t lose communication while I do this.”
Kenmore goes back to the radio and begins to walk around the back of the half-circle of computer consoles as Rodney starts typing away on his tablet in front of it and Ronon double checks the corners of the room. Well, if they had to keep the lines of communication open…
“So, General,” Kenmore begins, “how does it feel to be back?”
“Pretty good,” Jacob Carter’s genuinely chipper voice comes over her radio.
Kenmore smiles, “Well, it’s about damn time someone put Ba’als’ technology to good use. I’m just glad it was the Tok’ra. So when are you gonna tell Sam you’re alive?”
* * *
Jacob looks over at Sheppard’s radio, the Lieutenant Colonel had left the line open. Instinctively John knew not to look over at the General, but he caught sight of the man’s face from the corner of his eye anyway. The General’s expression is strange; Teyla would define it as guarded, so would Sheppard. It takes a moment of Jacob’s mouth and jaw and eyes looking like he wanted to say something, several things several times actually, before he managed to finally say something…
“It’s complicated,” he says. It was simple, but it was also strained. And he goes back to looking ahead of him again.
* * *
Kenmore stops opposite the door, in front of Ronon, and a few feet away from McKay’s side and leans on the top part of the computer console, it’s height comes up to her hip.
“Come on, Jacob. She deserves to know,” she says.
* * *
Carter looks down at the floor for a moment then regains himself. He really didn’t want to be talking about this right now, especially in front of people he didn’t know but knew his daughter. But he knew Ursula was unstoppable, so it wasn’t going to do him any good trying not to talk about this with her regardless of whoever is around.
“I know that,” Jacob says. His voice wasn’t as harsh or as sharp as John had expected. There was an edge to it, but still nowhere near the tone of voice John would have used if a subordinate, no matter how well they knew each other, asked him about something personal like that. The General simply sounded like it was a reluctant but important conversation between old friends.
* * *
Kenmore stares off into the rest of the room in front of her. Ronon watches her as Rodney keeps typing.
“You know she called off the wedding after you died,” Kenmore told her presenceless friend.
Rodney looks over at her.
“Sam was engaged,” he exclaimed. When had this happened?
Kenmore looks over her shoulder at him.
“Yeah, didn’t she tell you guys that?”
Rodney shakes his head.
“It was years ago, to Pete Shannahan.”
Rodney takes the information in then…
He goes back to his work, but it was the way he was going back to his work. His expression while he was doing it, Hell, it was even his ‘Hmm’…
“What,” Kenmore stares at him, her eyebrows furrowing together incredulously, “You were hoping it was gonna be you?”
Ronon suddenly looks over at Rodney and it was the expression on Ronon’s face too. It was all at once hopeful, angry, and interested. Rodney ignores them both, kept his head down and kept working, but he couldn’t hide the violent blushing spreading across his face up into his receding hairline.
“Please, you’ve got Doc Keller,” she told him, “Don’t get greedy.”
Ronon turns his eyes to her. Even though she didn’t know the personal history that had gone on between Keller, Ronon, and Rodney’s ‘love triangle’, Well she didn’t have to say it like that.
Kenmore goes back to her radio, “Anyways…”
* * *
“Anyways,” General Carter jumps back in, “How’s that little boy of yours? The last time I saw you two, you were about to pop with him. Just counting down the days till he got there. He’s gotta be a big boy by now.”
John smiled as he continued to scan the corridor up ahead. It was a good tactic, changing the subject. It was also kinda nice to get to hear General Carter turn the table on Kenmore and get her to have a conversation that might reveal things about her that they didn’t know yet.
* * *
Kenmore smiles and goes back to staring at the floor between her and Ronon in front of her, remembering how she looked that pregnant. Big as a barn, puffy all over her body, not just in her face and ankles. Wearing the biggest size of BDU shirt the military made and even then she’d been pushing its capacity to cover over her baby belly. Wearing a regular pair of pregnancy pants with a stretchy waistband because there simply isn’t a pair of BDU pants out there that can cope with a woman’s stomach when it’s like that. She wore combat boots that were actually a couple of sizes too large for her because they were the only ones nearest her foot size that could handle her swollen ankles. She looked like a wreck and was happy for every moment of it.
“Yeah,” she sort of laughs, “he’s a big boy now.”
“Still the apple of his godfather’s eye,” Jacob goes on.
Her grin broadens under Ronon’s watchful eyes and bristling demeanor, “Yep, he still wants to become the first Tauri Jaffa and his Godpa Teal’c was training him till we—“
Her voice stops and Ronon stares at her, Teal’c is Michael’s godfather? With a clearing of her throat, tossing away lost futures, or at the very least stalled ones, Kenmore surges on.
* * *
“I know,” Jacob answers her quietly.
Sheppard and Teyla flicker glances at the General. They knew how Kenmore feels about how she’d been tricked into coming to Atlantis with her son. They were not good feelings.
“I heard Teal’c tried to board the Daedalus and storm over to Atlantis to get the two of you back when he found out what happened,” Jacob laughed a little, wistfully, “Jack nearly went with him.”
Sheppard fought the urge to stare at the man on his left. And he hoped Teyla was fighting the urge to stare as well. How, wha—, why would people care about her that strongly? She’s such a brat here. It was starting to sound like two different Lieutenant Kenmores. The shiver threatened to shudder John’s shoulders. There were two different Lieutenant Kenmores—are two different Lieutenant Kenmores. Then the main thought finally penetrated into his brain and he actually did look over at General Carter. Teal’c is Michael’s godfather?!
* * *
Kenmore playfully kicks at the floor just in front of her in an ‘aw schucks’ sort of way, “That sounds about right of the two of them.”
“Heard Sam threatened to take the George Hammond over there to kick that Woolsey guy’s ass and get you two back. Offered the ship up to Jack and Teal’c and anyone else wanting to go on the trip. The SGC was in danger of being undermanned,” Jacob’s voice told her over the radio, the tone of his voice finding the humor in all of it.
Kenmore looked like she wanted to giggle but was too touched to do it. Ronon felt his jaw drop in his mouth a little and quickly clenched it back up into its usual position again. It looked like he was just staring at her. Granted his eyes betrayed the ‘What the hell?’ he was clearly feeling, but it still looked like he just staring at her.
After a moment’s pause, it came, “I’m sorry about Michael.” Jacob’s voice said softly. Quietly.
“I know,” Kenmore’s voice caught in her throat.
“I remember the last time we had lunch,” Jacob was quiet in his wistfulness, “The way he looked at you… I’ve never seen a man more in love with his wife, other than myself I mean.” Jacob laughed a little, “And you sent the same look right back at him.”
Kenmore nodded even though Carter wasn’t there to see it. Her lips pursed tightly together, as though that would stop the floodgate of emotion from spilling its waters.
“I,” her voice caught again, “I,” she coughed, “I thank God he has his father’s hair. And he acts so much like him… at least I didn’t lose that.”
There’s silence and somehow Ronon gets the feeling that her friend on the other end is nodding his head even though Kenmore wasn’t there to see it.
“I think the same thing every time I look at Samantha or Mark or David and Lisa. That’s a gift… to never have the one you love leave you when you’ve got kids.”
“Yeah,” Kenmore nods in a slightly laughing agreement, in a desperate attempt to lighten the mood, as she reaches up and wipes away a few tears that managed to slip down onto her cheeks.
Jacob apparently takes the hint…
“Speaking of gifts, I hear you’re only half-human.”
Kenmore rolls her eyes with a scoffing sigh. It was heard over the radio.
“Hey, being half-Ancient isn’t so bad,” Jacob defended.
“Yeah, it’s so friggin’ peachy. Look where it got me, it got me stuck here with my kid,” her sarcasm just dripping.
As the Lieutenant goes back to her private-but-not-so-private conversation over her radio and Ronon continuing to stare at her like she’d just grown another head, no one sees a shadow come out of the floor and slither up the back of Rodney’s boots and through the fabric of his pants. Suddenly and unnoticed, Rodney stops working and stiffens straight up. Any flushed skin was gone. Without hesitation, he draws his pistol from its side holster at his hip, raises it in Kenmore’s direction, and fires. The blast passes in front of Kenmore and plows into Ronon’s abdomen. Ronon slams back against the wall. Slides down it, clutching the belly wound that’s already starting to bleed profusely.
“Oh my God,” Kenmore exclaims.
She races to Ronon’s side.
* * *
Sheppard, Carter, and Teyla freeze at the gunshot blast over the radio. Sheppard frantically grabs his radio.
“What was that? Kenmore, what happened?”
“McKay just shot Ronon,” Kenmore’s voice rushes out of his radio.
Sheppard’s jaw drops in shock, “What?!”
* * *
Kenmore kneels by Ronon’s side.
“McKay just shot Ronon. I know, I know,” she repeated and then adds, she didn’t have to see the expression on his face or hear it in his voice to know how Sheppard was feeling. What he was feeling. She wouldn’t have believed it too if she hadn’t been here to see it herself.
She leans forward trying to check Ronon’s wound when she feels cold metal press against the base of her skull. Kenmore freezes then slowly turns her head back to look up at McKay holding his pistol on her at well more than usual point-blank range.
“McKay, what the hell are you thinking,” she breathes at him.
McKay’s eyes suddenly flash and stay glowing. And Kenmore’s expression immediately becomes the set expression of meeting an old enemy.
“Your friend isn’t here anymore,” the distinctly Goa’uld baritone sounds from his lips.
* * *
Sheppard, still holding on to his receiving radio, looks over at the rest of his team; his mouth hanging slightly ajar, his brows pinched together in shock and confusion, and upset. Teyla stares at Sheppard’s radio, a fear and astonishment on her face and in her eyes. The muscles and skin over her cheekbones start to tremble in their abrupt tightness. Carter meets Sheppard’s eyes. Whatever they had feared coming in here, it hadn’t been this.