Rating: PG-13, gen
Word Count: 5,889 total
Summary: Sequel to "This is to me how to leave matters unresolved", likely utterly nonsensical on its own. Sheppard returns to what's as close to home as he can get on earth.
Disclaimer: So not mine.
Teyla’s quarters had always been nearly sterile in comparison. She picked up after herself and kept the place tidy. Sheppard had always credited it to some innate feminine domesticity (no, he never told her that because she would have knocked his front teeth out) or because Athosians just didn’t have the propensity to collect crap.
This was usually when he slammed his mind shut, went for a run, found a flirty British medic, or otherwise occupied himself. There was no point in going there. Now, it was equally pointless. He realized the rooms in his memory were empty, submerged under miles of ocean in another galaxy. He wasn’t sure if this was better or worse. It meant his vague theory that someday the Pegasus voodoo would wear off and he could go through the ‘Gate again was hopeless. But he didn’t like to think about Atlantis being cold and empty at the bottom of the sea. It bothered him more than it should, might have made him very angry if he’d learned of it before.
Except that Rodney and Teyla were here, now. Not fragmentary voices and splices of memory, but sitting in the front seat of the SUV only inches away from Sheppard. They were arguing about which highway to take from the airport to their house, which kind of ruined the poignancy of the moment.
It gave him the chance to sit in the backseat and act like he hadn’t totally lost it in baggage claim. That was high on his list of things he was going to pretend hadn’t happened. He also took the moment to pop some pain pills. Teyla had unknowingly squeezed the hell out of his stitches and they were stinging angrily.
“Are you alright, John?” Teyla asked, catching him in the act of tucking the prescription bottle away. She was turned halfway in her seat, legs tucked up so she could look backwards at him while talking to McKay. “Are your injuries bothering you?”
“Long flight,” Sheppard lied. At the same time, McKay looked at him in the rearview mirror and rolled his eyes.
“He fell out of a helicopter,” McKay said. Teyla looked sideways into the driver’s seat, expression creased. “It’s like a car,” he clarified, “except with no doors and it flies with a propeller. You’ve seen them in the sky.”
That wasn’t exactly an accurate description of any helicopter ever, let alone an Apache, but Sheppard let it go. Teyla was looking backwards with another question on her face, one that probably would have meant explaining a lot more things.
“I hear you can drive now,” Sheppard said, changing the subject.
“It is true.” Teyla nodded her head and smiled. “Rodney taught me.”
“Hey,” McKay said, raising one hand sharply. “I explained the fundamentals and theory of driving. I take no responsibility for how she’s implemented them in practice.”
“I am a good driver,” Teyla protested, and McKay snorted.
Sheppard leaned back against the seat, folding one arm around his abdomen.
“She a speed demon?” he asked McKay. “Got a lead foot?”
“No,” McKay said, and laughed. “She’s like…a grandma with occasional road rage. If it wasn’t going to get her killed someday, it’d be hilarious.”
“Other drivers do not obey the rules,” Teyla muttered. “It is frustrating.”
“I gotta see this,” Sheppard said. “We can fix the grandma thing, too.”
“I didn’t go half way across the world so you could give Teyla driving lessons,” McKay said. “And you aren’t allowed to teach her anything.”
Since to his memory, McKay had never been in a car that Sheppard was driving, Sheppard wasn’t sure where he got off on the following rant that assumed he was both the world’s worst and fastest driver. The last point might have had a bit of truth, but McKay was also taking both hands off the wheel while making it. Sheppard let him go on, anyway. The diatribe was a familiar sound and even if it was ridiculous, there were a lot of worse and also much truer things McKay could have said instead.
The painkillers were kicking in, making Sheppard feel fuzzy and tired. He curled up against the side of the door, making a pillow out of his arms. He saw Teyla put a hand out and touch McKay on the shoulder.
“He’s sleeping,” she said. “Let him.”
“He could have slept on the plane,” McKay grumbled.
“You could have stopped talking on the plane,” Sheppard tried to retort, but it came out in a mumble.
Sheppard slept the whole hour it took to reach their house. He woke when the car rolled to a stop and he heard Teyla and McKay shifting in their seats, whispering to one another.
“I’m awake,” he murmured, even though he’d barely opened his eyes.
He didn’t really need the help, but he let them get on either side of him as he crutched into the house.
“You should rest,” Teyla said.
Sheppard had the idea that even though it was dark outside, it was far too early to sleep.
“There’s a futon downstairs,” McKay said.
They both tried to take him down, making the stairwell so crowded all three almost fell. Finally Teyla wrapped his arm around her neck, took his crutches away, and handed them to Rodney.
“I can walk,” he muttered, since now she was basically carrying most of his weight. Rodney followed behind, crutches in hand.
They dropped him on a blue futon and Teyla actually went about tucking him in. Sheppard wasn’t sure if it made him feel childish, invalid, or kind of nice. She pressed her forehead against his, again, and he took the opportunity to kiss her on the cheek. He heard Rodney make a noise that was either irritation or anger. For a split second, Sheppard went to shoot McKay a what the hell is your problem look. Just as quickly, he remembered that in all likelihood he himself was McKay’s problem, and flopped backwards.
“Goodnight,” Teyla said. McKay echoed it, sourly.
He drifted off to the sound of their footsteps climbing the stairs. McKay was grumbling and Teyla hushed him until they were on the first floor.
“He is not well,” Sheppard could barely hear her voice.
“I didn’t abduct him from a hospital,” McKay retorted, clear as day. “He was drinking lager and hitting on Frauliens. He’s fine.”
“He nearly died,” Teyla said, louder.
“That was a very long time ago,” McKay said. “Other than the fact that the
“Your anger helps no one,” Teyla said, and the floorboards creaked as she walked away from him.
“Helps me!” McKay yelled after her. Then the floor squeaked some more and if they were still talking, he couldn’t hear them.
Sheppard woke up while it was still dark out. His watch said it was early afternoon, but he’d never changed it from
He no longer felt remotely sleepy, instead recognizing the vaguely confused wakefulness of jetlag. In the end, his bladder made the decision for him. Sheppard kicked the sheets free with his good leg and sat up, grabbing in the dark for his crutches. He couldn’t find them. He had a moment where he envisioned McKay hiding them, some kind of passive-aggressive revenge assuring that he’d still be in the basement when they woke up. But then he turned on the lamp on the table by the futon edge and when he stopped blinking against the glare, his crutches were right there against the far wall. He would have felt kind of dumb for accusing McKay, but then he had to do a complicated hop/lunge move to get to them. As he fit each one into place, he was pretty sure that leaving them across the room was totally passive-aggressive vengeance.
The lamp light gave him the first view of the room he’d slept in. There was a flat screen television on the wall facing the futon, above a pile of videogame consoles and a DVD cabinet. They’d put him up in their TV room. At least he’d have something to do to kill the jetlag besides snoop through their house. Sheppard gripped the handholds of his crutches and went looking for the bathroom.
The bathroom made him laugh and feel sorry for McKay. The essentials were clearly his doing: plain blue plastic liner shower curtain and more or less matching blue bath mat and towels picked with efficiency not style. The rest had to be Teyla, even if it was a side of Teyla no one on Atlantis had ever seen. The top of the toilet tank was covered with those little decorative geometric boxes and woven baskets of body lotions and sprays from Bed Bath & Beyond or wherever. There were more on the edges of the tub and beneath the sink, the contents of each collection of bottles a different shade of pastel and all completely full and untouched. This was a very weird side of Teyla.
He could have used a shower after having crashed in the clothes from the flight, but he wasn’t sure where his bag was. Exiting the bathroom, he crutched down the hallway back to the futon. Out of curiosity, he poked the only other door in the hallway with the bottom of a crutch. It didn’t budge, so he put in the effort of trying the handle. It was locked, which probably meant it was McKay’s office and he was paranoid.
Sheppard went back to the main room. From this angle, he could see the wall behind the futon and stopped cold. All of the other walls were bare, making the only décor in the room the unframed Johnny Cash poster taped to the wall. He stared at it, unsure how he was supposed to feel. He settled on weird, and then he stopped looking at it because it made him think about the last room it’d been hung in.
His bag wasn’t anywhere in the room, so Sheppard reluctantly crutched upstairs to look for it. He guessed he was actually going to snoop all over the house. He vaguely wondered if he would encounter any more of his possessions. McKay wasn’t allowed to be too much of a dick if he had a bunch of Sheppard’s stuff that he’d kept for purposes other than a bonfire. Unless the poster was Teyla’s doing.
The rest of the house was sparsely decorated and he didn’t find anything else pilfered from his quarters on Atlantis. He also didn’t find his bag, and he gave another thought that it’d been hidden so he couldn’t leave again. More likely, it was still in the car.
He did find that McKay had a cat. It was a skinny little calico thing that woke up when he walked by it, rolled on its back, and stared up at him through slitted eyes. Then it righted itself, grabbed Sheppard’s foot with its two front paws, and sank its teeth into him.
“Hey,” Sheppard snapped softly, not actually feeling a thing since it had chosen to attack his cast. “Off!” He tried to kick it lose and wondered if plaster was good for cats or if he’d just accidentally poisoned McKay’s pet. The thing’s claws were stuck and he had to reach down and unhook it, sending it sprawling across the floor. “Stupid cat.”
The cat stalked him as he continued his search for his luggage, still batting as his feet until it lost interest. In the dining room, Sheppard found a round table piled high with files and envelopes. He didn’t mean to, but he read the label on one of the square envelopes: SGC Security Visual Log January. He only picked it up because the rest of the date was obscured, and then a small silver disc fell out into his hands.
That was how he ended up kneeling – on one knee with the cast sticking out goofily – in front of McKay’s television, trying to figure out which slot in the pile of various media players matched the size of the disc. It wasn’t that Sheppard was that dumb, it was that McKay had about ten different kinds. Eventually he found it, and then had to determine which remote control turned what system on. He was vaguely surprised McKay didn’t have some kind of pass code as well.
Sheppard scrabbled backwards, hoisting himself back up on to the futon as static filled the screen. At first, he thought he’d assembled it wrong and was thinking he might just lie back down and see if sleep would come. He didn’t want McKay coming down and finding he’d either utterly failed to get the television to work or possibly broken it by trying. But then an image filled the screen, in the strange green tones of night-vision film.
True to the envelope label, it was footage from a security camera in the SGC. Specifically holding cell 3B, according to the helpful text on screen next to the date stamp. The green and black tones on the screen were of the room: four walls, a small table, a bed, and a lump in the bed that was probably either Teyla or Ronon. The lump was much too small to be Ronon.
Sheppard hit the fast-forward button, already questioning why he watching it. He didn’t need to see Teyla in custody – who was he kidding, in fucking prison – by the people whose uniform she’d worn for three years.
On screen, Teyla woke and sat up. She immediately rose, grabbing what looked to be a stack of clothes lying beneath the table and vanishing from view of the camera. If she thought she’d have the privacy to dress in the bathroom, he knew she was wrong and it made him abruptly much angrier.
When she emerged from the bathroom, Sheppard hit play and slowed the film down to normal speed. Even though he knew she was upstairs sleeping and looked fine, he wanted to make sure that she’d been just as fine nearly a year ago. Teyla set her pajamas back under the table and went about making her bed. It looked like she was wearing the same clothes, though, and Sheppard thought it was pretty likely she’d been issued two of the same uniform and designated one as nightwear.
Bed made, Teyla took a seat on the top sheet and folded her legs underneath her body. Then she looked directly at the camera. If it was Ronon, the camera would be ripped off the wall and stomped into a million pieces. Teyla just looked at it, her gaze enough to make Sheppard want to melt from horror and shame. Her face was set in a neutral expression, and he was selfishly thankful, because if she’d looked upset or scared he sincerely might have broken McKay’s expensive television.
The screen flared, the image going bright green, then switching over to a normal black and white feed as the lights in the room were turned on. He wondered if Teyla had been allowed to control even that.
“John?” came Teyla’s voice, and Sheppard flinched so hard he nearly launched himself off the futon.
The security tape had no audio.
He pulled his eyes from the screen, finding Teyla standing at the base of the stairs and peering at him. His heart somewhere in his throat, Sheppard reached immediately for the remote control, trying to blacken the screen. He fumbled the remote and it did nothing, until he accidentally hit the pause button and the picture on the screen froze.
Teyla stayed where she was, looking at him like she thought he might bolt if she spoke. He realized he’d responded like she’d caught him watching porn or Days of our Lives, and tried to get his reaction under control.
“Hey,” he said, and it came out breathily and not at all under control. He tried again. “Good morning.” Steadier.
“Good morning.” She padded across the carpet until she was closer, casting one eye at the television.
“I, um, found it upstairs,” he said. He didn’t really have a reason why he’d decided to watch something that was probably veering pretty close into voyeurism and had the only possible outcome of making him furious. He didn’t know what to say about that.
“The SGC sent it,” Teyla said, sinking down on to the futon beside him. She folded her legs up and under, just like she had on the video a few seconds ago. “They –”
“I didn’t know,” he interrupted, having barely heard her first sentence. “Teyla, I had no idea they’d done that to you.”
“Rodney told me,” she answered, far too calmly. “I did not think you did.” He took a big breath to say it again, and she put her hand lightly on his knee, looking at her own grey face on the screen. “I knew it then, as well.”
“I would have stopped it,” he said, trying to not yell because the overly calm thing she was doing was probably because she thought he was going to flip out. “I would have gotten you out of there. If I had to shoot every last person in the mountain.”
She patted his knee. “I do not think that approach would have worked,” and at least she sounded a little amused.
“Maybe not,” he agreed, finding his voice had gone a bit softer. “Would have felt good, though.”
“Yes,” she said, which was kind of telling in itself. “I am not angry with you,” Teyla continued. “You should not blame yourself.”
He grunted, and she went on. “I don’t believe your presence would have changed anything. Rodney says you cannot be near the Stargate without becoming ill.”
“Yeah,” he said. “It sucks.”
“I was held right next to the Stargate,” she pointed out, hand still patting his knee like he was child.
“Yeah, well,” he said.
“Colonel Carter worked on my behalf,” Teyla said. “She was not successful.”
“Colonel Carter probably listens when people tell her she’s not allowed to do stuff better than I do,” he muttered.
Teyla gave him a look and removed her hand from his leg. “We will not be able to find Ronon if you and Rodney are busy competing in who can be angrier.” And she suddenly sounded tired.
He didn’t make her repeat herself. “Okay,” he said, and nodded. Then, “At the very least, if I’d been around, you wouldn’t have had to marry Rodney.”
This got a big, full-color smile. She swung her legs back down and stood up. “Come upstairs for breakfast.”
“They hurt you?” he asked, because he had to know, even if it shattered her smile.
Teyla met his eyes. “No,” she said. “I was not mistreated.”
Other than being locked in a cell underground for no reason, but he didn’t say that aloud. She picked up his crutches from where he had dropped them on the rug and handed them over. “Breakfast,” she said again.
“Which one of you kept my poster?” he asked, as he followed her upstairs.
“Ronon,” she said over her shoulder, and something twisted so hard in Sheppard’s chest he almost missed the next step.