Teyla rushes around her family’s quarters, packing things into the two crates she managed to procure along her way here sitting on the Athosian bed—she had always believed it was a measure of kindness and equality that Elizabeth had allowed Teyla to bring the Athosian furniture with her to live in Atlantis. She races back to her child’s tiny dresser made of recovered pieces of fallen tree stripped bare and smoothed of the scraggy rougher bark it had once had, it’s drawers already pulled open in a mimic of staggered steps as Teyla had progressively emptied them one by one. She grabs a handful of his clothes, accidentally snagging a stowed away Athosian rattle made of a dried flower cone with its seeds still inside of it and its stem still attached with them in her grip. Kanaan rushes in. He’s still wearing his usual Athosian clothes but, as Teyla had in the beginning, he was adapting more and more to wearing the garb of their fellow residents of Atlantis, he was wearing the same sort of Earth shoes that Teyla herself had become very fond of wearing since joining forces with the Atlantis Expedition. They were called sneakers.
“What’s wrong? Doctor Brown in the hydroponics lab told me to return to our quarters and start packing.”
“There is a danger,” she answers him, silently thankful that Doctor Katie Brown was now in charge of the Botany department of Atlantis and she had welcomed Kanaan’s help with the various indigenous plants of the Pegasus, thus keeping him in the city and keeping her from having to go through this alone, “The Goa’uld are trying to come to the city.”
“What are the Goa’uld,” he has trouble saying the name as Teyla had at first. It was such a foreign sounding word to them, even more so than the languages of their many Earth friends that they usually encountered here.
“Creatures that take humans as hosts…,” Teyla pauses as she packs one of Torren’s outfits, a small pair of trousers that laced up the sides of his small, still baby chubby legs and a shirt that laced halfway down its front with long sleeves. They’re both made of the same fabric, that pale sea green fabric, as the small blanket gown he wore when Wraith hybrid Michael Kenmore had invaded the city, taken control of it, and captured both he and Teyla and held them hostage in Woolsey’s office. She glances over at her child sleeping soundly in his own wide rectangular bed also made of slats of recovered stripped and smoothed wood heavily cushioned by half a dozen thick furs of animals their people hunted on their new homeworld and a brick red tapestry blanket that had been made by Kanaan’s mother for Kanaan when he himself was a baby off to one side of the room, oblivious to the hysteria surrounding him, “They take children as hosts,” her voice chokes.
Kanaan looks over at their son. Teyla recollects herself and hurriedly resumes packing the little articles of clothing.
“You must go with Torren to the Alpha Site and help there.”
Kanaan nods, it was information he already knew. As he had said before, when the call to adhere to the evacuation procedures had been announced, Kanaan reported to his department’s leader, Katie Brown, and she had given him his orders. But he can see that it’s important to Teyla to regain some control of the situation, so he doesn’t tell her he already knew this…
Teyla tries to walk past Kanaan, but he reaches out and grabs her arm. She stops and he looks her in the eyes.
“And what about you,” he asks her.
Teyla looks over at Torren again. His little chest rising gently and slowly in blissful sleep beneath the deep brown sleep shirt he’s wearing. His lips gently puckering tight and loose then tight and loose again before settling back into the calm they had been in before. He is so pristine, so perfect, so precious, when he is sleeping… when he was awake. And oh how she wanted to be with him always, to go with him now but…
“I will stay behind and guard the city.”
She stares at Kanaan, “I will cover you both from the city and you will protect him at the Alpha Site.”
Teyla, fighting her emotions as she has often had to do on this mission, looks at her partner and the father of her child.
“We have to protect him.”
“And who will protect you?”
Her eyes dart to Torren again and despite herself a single tear slips from her right eye and down her cheek. He feels her start to tremble in his hand. He leans forward and kisses her temple. At the instant of feeling the gentle pressure of her partner’s lips against her skin, Teyla closes her eyes and considerably more than a single tear slips from both her eyes. His lips retreat from her flushed skin and he waits as she lets the emotions she normally tries to keep restrained in front of her teammates slip free. Reflexively the hand of her arm he has a hold of grips his elbow tightly. She could always be every part of herself in front of him. With Kanaan, she did not always have to be the strong leader or the wholly compassionate soul everyone has come to know and expect from her here in Atlantis. In front of him, with her love, she could be as emotional and doubting as she felt, she could voice it even. In front of him, she could be as angry and as irrationally mean as she wanted to be, as she wished she could be to some people. He would not judge her. He never judged her. Even when he had not agreed entirely with her decision to rejoin the Atlantis Expedition and John’s team, he had been the one to finally convince her to rejoin them when he reminded her that when she was here, she was not only fighting to protect their son, to protect both he and their people, but also all the people of their galaxy, all of it’s children. She opens her eyes, unusually bloodshot red, and glistening as they always did when she looked into the face of the man she loves and shares a life and family with. His eyes were unwavering and strong enough for both of them. In her moments, he was her strength. It was why they were such a good match. Why she had chosen to give her affections to him and had hoped for many years that he would return them one day… and he did. Whole-heartedly. With a smile, she leans her head towards him and their foreheads meet. She breathes in a sigh of relief. Her body calm now that he had let her have the moment she needed to have. Their eyes meet in the shadow of their foreheads touching.
“What else do we have left to pack,” he asks smiling back at her.
She was thankful he knew her so well.
* * *
Sheppard slowly walks into the wing Ronon is in, looking around himself at the staff rushing around. He would stop dead in his tracks as some raced patients in their beds out through every way into the wing. Others were disconnecting every piece of equipment they can get their hands on. And the rest are either stacking supplies and equipment into piles or just plain backing the hell away from disconnected patients and their beds and letting the Daedalus beam them out. It was an awe-inspiring sight of precise and methodical chaos.
“Weird, isn’t it,” Ronon says, even his bombastic voice is barely loud enough to make it over the clamor.
Sheppard is still looking around, his attention fixedly mesmerized by it all, boot falling slowly and shortly ahead of boot, “Yeah, I’ve never really seen what they do around here when something like this happens.”
Sheppard turns his attention to Ronon and walks at normal speed up to his friend’s bedside. A rushing gurney blows right past behind him, if John had been slow by just a second or his step short by a fraction of an inch, the thing and the nurse pushing it would have mowed off the back of John’s boot and the foot inside it. He turned instantly at the sound of its passing proximity and watches it blaze on out the door off in that direction.
“Kenmore thinks she knows who’s responsible for the Goa’uld ship,” he finally answers Ronon, distractedly.
Ronon rolls his eyes. He was so tired of this, of Kenmore, of Sheppard always giving her some rope. Why couldn’t she hang herself with it for once?
“Kenmore,” he growls.
That drew John’s attention.
“Hey,” he says defensively.
“Who does she think it is,” Ronon goes on, ignoring his friend and the tone of Sheppard’s voice defending her.
“A pretty bad Goa’uld named Anubis,” John answers.
“Does she know why?”
“If she does, she’s not telling,” John glances around again.
“That’s new,” Ronon complains sardonically.
“Hey, Buddy,” John says defensively again and there was no getting around how intentional his tone was this time. Or the pointed look on his face.
Ronon looks at Sheppard.
“She saved your life,” his friend points out.
Ronon looks away from Sheppard, uncomfortable with that information and all the implications that go with it.
“She didn’t have to. I told her to go. She took the coward’s way out, she hid behind me.” John could hear the anger in Ronon’s voice as he said that last part. But John wasn’t about to let him off the hook on this…
“I know, I heard it,” he confesses.
Ronon’s face shoots to look at him. Shocked. John held strong. Clearly Ronon had not known that.
“All of it,” John nods distinctly. “Her radio got stuck on. We all three heard everything that went down in that room,” Ronon’s mouth works, “She wasn’t hiding behind you, she was giving us time,” John let that sink in. “And we would have had a lot more of it too if you two hadn’t been stuck in there.”
Ronon stares at John. For the first time since they’d known each other, John had dropped a dress down on his friend. It had been quiet but it cut deep. Deeper than either friend had expected from the other. Ronon somehow looked like his own version of a kicked puppy. And John looked unyielding. Mutely, Ronon looks slowly down and away from his friend again.
* * *
Kenmore, kneeling, is fussing with Little Michael’s collar while the rush around her pours into the activated wormhole of the Stargate. The last wave through. Teyla stands nearby facing her partner Kanaan while he holds their son Torren.
“Why do I have to leave,” Little Michael asks his Mother.
“Because we can’t protect you here,” she tells him, continuing her maternal fussing even though the boy was pretty sure the collar of his makeshift BDUs was already as clean and lint free by now as it possibly could be.
Teyla reaches up and touches her own forehead to her child’s and closes her eyes, indulging in the feel of his soft, young, tender flesh. And not for the first time thinking that this was not the way he should live: in fear. The way their people had become a nomadic clan, moving constantly across the surface of Athosia, living in fear of the Wraith’s cullings. Hiding from them.
“Where am I going,” Michael asks another question.
Teyla couldn’t help but believe that it was supposed to be different here in Atlantis. The Great City of the Ancestors was supposed to be safe from fear, but it was becoming an all too frequent occurrence to evacuate the city down to only essential, otherwise known as ‘skeleton’, personnel only and requiring the greater majority to seek safety in a pre-designated Alpha or, in some cases, Beta site climate.
“It’s called the Alpha Site,” Ursula answers him.
Teyla opens her eyes again and sees the pair across from hers and in them the bright glimmer of the child’s father’s eyes. Those eyes so dear to her. No, she sighed to herself with a bittersweet smile on her lips in the face of her son’s attentive stare, a child should not have to be raised in fear. She takes her forehead away from Torren’s.
“Who will protect us,” Michael asks again.
Kenmore moves on to smoothing his hair, although she didn’t really know why and the child’s hair really hadn’t needed the attention; it was as spic and span as his shirt collar had been, “You won’t be there alone. Plenty of others are going with you and some of them will be soldiers.”
“But not you,” he asks tentatively.
“No, not me,” Ursula answers.
Teyla’s eyes travel to Kenmore. Ursula looks at her son, analyzing every feature like it was the last time she was going to have the chance to. Teyla’s eyes slide back to her own son, it had never occurred to her to do that before. But she can’t bring herself to do it now, it seemed too much like admitting failure, like admitting that she would never see Torren again and that he would never know her again as well. And Teyla was not about to admit that fear.
“There will also be some adults there that will take care of you and the other children,” Ursula tells him, “You’re not the only child here.”
Teyla looks over at Kanaan with a warm smile on her lips. He returns her smile. They lean their foreheads together and connect them, but not as mother to child, but as one partner to another. Their eyes lock. In Kanaan she always saw everything good about being Athosian. Every warmth of her home and her people. Another life she wanted their Torren to have. Of tilled soils, the laughter of friends and other children, the cheers of returning hunting parties with enough meat to feed the entire village for the next few days, of hearths with mothers and a lucky few grandmothers gathered around them making tuttleroot soup for lunch when all would join together for a communal meal. There was so much good there that despite the Wraith’s determination and persistence had not been crushed out of her people or culled from them. Teyla’s smile deepens and without hesitation she lifts her face up to his and kisses him. He wraps his free hand around her to keep her close, as she wraps one arm to be with his around their child and cups the side of Kanaan’s neck affectionately with her other hand.
“And who will protect them,” Michael asks his Mother.
Kenmore looks her son in the eyes.
“I don’t know,” she admits the truth.
Their kiss breaks, but the embrace remains and Teyla continues to gaze into everything pure about her home.
Little Michael considers his mother’s words for a moment then straightens up. There was resolution in his rich brown eyes.
“I will protect them,” he says strongly.
Teyla’s attention shoots to Kenmore and Little Michael as Kenmore looks on at her son.
“Godpa Teal’c and Master Bra’tac always say that a good Jaffa protects the innocent.”
Kenmore nods with a proud smile spread across her lips, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Yes,” her voice is slightly quavering, but it is proud, so proud, “yes, they do.”
Teyla takes a step towards Little Michael. Kenmore stands up as her and her son’s attention shifts to the Athosian woman.
“I would be honored if you would help protect my family,” Teyla tells him with a genuine smile and slight bow of her head.
Teyla looks towards Kanaan, who looks blatantly concerned, shifting Torren’s weight in his arms. Kenmore can’t help but see the man’s expression and her own expression reflects his. There is distrust there, fear, and suspicion. Kenmore looks at Teyla. Kanaan walks towards the wormhole and Kenmore directs Little Michael to follow. The three men stand on the threshold of the Stargate. They stop and look back at the women they’re leaving behind. Teyla smiles and Kenmore nods at her son, urging him. Little Michael looks up at Kanaan beside him.
“I’m Michael Kenmore. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”
Little Michael reaches up, kindly takes Kanaan’s hand in his own, turns his head, and starts confidently towards the glowing, undulating pool ahead of him. Kanaan looks back at Teyla, still unsure of this, but travels with the boy through the wormhole. Teyla and Kenmore stand there for a moment staring into the wormhole, still maintaining their good-bye demeanors, Teyla still smiling brightly, Kenmore still urgingly calm and confident. Then the Stargate shuts down.
“That never gets any easier,” the Lieutenant says, a voice from experience. Not the only one.
Kenmore looks over at Teyla.
“You ready,” she asks.
Teyla nods and the two turn and head, side by side, up the two flights of stairs into the Command Center. They walk up to the station where Woolsey and Sheppard stand behind technician Robbins, one of only two technicians left in the center. Both Sheppard and Woolsey look up at their approach and give the women an understanding nod, the women nod confidently back. Both the Athosian leader’s and the Lieutenant’s expressions making it very clear that what had just happened on the embarkation floor was not something either man should pry into or mention. It was private. The tiny group is joined just a split second later by Doctor Jennifer Keller. Robbins looks up at Woolsey.
“That’s the last of them, Sir,” he tells him.
“McKay,” Sheppard addresses Keller.
She shakes her head, “He’s still too sick to move.”
“So, are we ready for this,” Woolsey turns and asks all of them, looking at each one individually starting with Keller and ending with Sheppard.
The assembled nod their heads. Woolsey looks back over at Robbins.
James nods and reaches out to his panel. At his touch the farthest stretches of the city shut down. Doors, in those areas and leading to them, slide close and lock. The hallways leading back from the piers into the heart of the city go dark. The supply areas, already the darkest rooms in the city, seem to completely vanish from any sight. The mess hall, the medical wards, everything as though the city had never been awakened in the first place. Even the lights in the parts of the city still left operational dim considerably to shine an almost surgical halo of light down on everything beneath them and leave everything else in shadow. In the almost blacked out Command Center, Robbins, underlit by his computer like a little kid playing monster with a flashlight, looks back up at Woolsey.
“It’s done Sir.”
Woolsey looks back at the group assembled with him in the room; John Sheppard, James Robbins, Teyla Emmagan, Ursula Kenmore, Jennifer Keller, Radek Zelenka, Jennifer Johnson, Evan Lorne, “So now what do we do?”
“We plan,” Kenmore answers him.