Title
Alive Beside You
Prompt
Big Bang 2009.   Anything goes.
Summary
He's not who they think he is. Alternate season 5, romance.
Pairing
Carson/Teyla, background John/Rodney
Rating
NC-17
Word Count
40078 words
Notes
Many thanks to Anne (luckycricket1) and Fia (fiareynne) for their suggestions and help. Part of the idea for the story also comes from fiareynne.

Companion Artwork
  • Alive beside You - Wallpaper by Torri012

The ceiling of this cell was just like the ceiling of every other cell he'd been in; grey, cracked and dull. It never seemed to matter what planet he was on, the decoration was always the same; locked door, small sleeping ledge, thin and scratchy blanket. Cells didn't vary, which made Carson wonder if all of the travelling was just a fake out and he kept coming back to the same cell again and again. He shook his head; that couldn't be the case because he was taken from the ship to the buildings by foot, never transport, and the planets did vary. He stared at the familiar ceiling. Carson watched as a small beetle crawled from one side to the other. His mind was trying to focus on other things. He recited pi to twenty places, all that he could remember. Rodney would have been sarcastic and smug that he could recite it to triple digits or probably more by now. The bug was startled by his recitation of all the Gaelic he knew. His mum once told him that he used to speak it fluently, before his da died. Now all he recalled were a few phrases that had gotten him girls at university, though he'd been told by his mates he spoke more and even sang when he was three sheets to the wind. Latin was his language now; it had to be, it was the language of science. Carson had already named a few Pegasus viruses. Not that anyone back home would know until the program was declassified.

A sudden, loud noise distracted him from his bug watching, but it wasn't the usual sounds of guards coming to retrieve him. He sat up on the slim bench, straining to hear. He'd try to listen at the door, but the last time he'd done that he'd ended up knocked out. It sounded like…gunfire. Someone was attacking. It could be anyone but Carson's heart raced as he hoped…. Voices. He couldn't make out who they belonged to, but he could tell they didn't belong to his Wraith captors. His whole body tensed in …excitement…nervousness…anticipation and he found himself clinging to the thin blanket. He flinched at the sound of a shot being fired at the lock. As the door burst open he saw several familiar figures crowd in the doorway.

Colonel Sheppard, Rodney, Ronon, and Major Lorne in the back. He briefly registered the absence of Teyla before he stood up, flinging the blanket aside. "Finally. It's about bloody time! What took you so long?" They all lowered their guns, as confusion spread over their faces. He looked from one to the other, waiting for their explanation.

"Carson?" Rodney ventured tentatively.

"No, I'm the Queen of England," he shouted. "Of course it's me, Rodney! What's gotten into the lot of you?"

Sheppard opened his mouth but the crackle of the radio interrupted him. "Colonel Sheppard, what's your status? We were hit by the Wraith cruiser and need to get back to Atlantis." Carson didn't immediately recognize the voice.

"Copy that, we're all ready to beam aboard, plus one."

"Teyla?"

"No, she's probably aboard the cruiser but well…you'll see, Sheppard out."

Carson had a million questions he wanted to ask. Rodney steered him gently out of the cell and he was instantly surrounded by Marines. The familiar Asgard beam came and went so quickly Carson barely had time to blink. He was whisked away to a room, but no one told him anything. These were the people he considered family, so why were they brushing him off? Carson wanted nothing more than to hear them say they'd missed him, they'd been looking for him all this time, how good it was to have him back and how they were going to have a huge party when they got back to Atlantis. Instead he got silence and the cold shoulder. He felt the urge to scream but instead he thought of Teyla. Where was she? Had she missed him? Who was running the infirmary? Had Elizabeth reported him MIA? Oh lord, his mother.

The change of scenery was welcome, but the room was not much different from the ones he'd been spending the last two years in. It was definitely larger, with plenty of space for him to pace in. It had a bed, which was certainly a step up from thin ledges and hard floors. Carson spent a good ten minutes or more just taking in the smell of the fresh sheets. There was also a proper bathroom with a small shower. He didn't think he'd have the time to indulge himself; he could wait until he got back to Atlantis. Otherwise, he was left alone to think about the situation at hand or watch the blurriness of hyperspace travel. The only visitor he got while they were in hyperspace was a young lieutenant who brought him some food. Carson was mad, saddened and worried all at once. Rodney was his best friend; why wasn't he here, talking to him? He felt the ship drop out of hyperspace; they were probably at Atlantis now. He was somewhat grateful for the faster-than-light travel. It meant that he didn't have time to brood about the situation. A small group of Marines came to collect him. All of them betrayed nothing, simply escorting him somewhere and they were beamed down. Rodney was waiting there for them with a group of medics who were in hazard gear. He couldn't see their reactions hidden behind the glass faceplates, another blessing. Carson didn't think he could take much more without an explanation.

"Carson, this is Jennifer Keller. She's—well she's going to check you out. Protocol."

"I know who she is, Rodney. I picked her personally to be on my medical staff." Jennifer had been young, but eager and more than qualified. Her face had shown a quick expression of surprise when he was led towards her but she'd covered quickly with a mask of professionalism. She came forward to shake his hand and lead him to a gurney.

"It's nice to see you again, Doctor Beckett. I want you to know I've been taking good care of everyone in the city and I'll do the same for you."

Carson just nodded. He had written the protocols Rodney was referring to. He would suffer the exam because he was not exempt and he would never expect preferential treatment. "Rodney, wait. Where's Elizabeth? I'd like to know what she might have told my mother about my disappearance."

Rodney paled. "She's…we'll talk after you've been checked out."

They passed several windows on the way to the infirmary, Carson looking out at the water. It seemed different somehow but he'd have to ask about it later. Once in the familiar surroundings of his; no not his anymore, infirmary he was poked and prodded, giving up blood and other specimens. Doctor Keller, she insisted he call her Jennifer, wouldn't tell him anything. He was taken to another room, one that he didn't remember being there before. He sat on the couch and looked up. Sheppard and Rodney were there with Ronon and another officer he didn't recognize. He wondered again about Elizabeth. What weren't they telling him?

He knew that he was beginning to panic. He could tell his heart rate was up; he was more than likely beginning to hyperventilate. He wanted to pace, to scream, to pound on the walls. Instead he sat down, drew in deep breaths and focused on calming down. It was something he'd been taught by a psychiatrist friend of his in medical school. He imagined the rolling hills of his homeland, the green fields and the grey waters off the coast. He would keep this up as long as he needed to.

A sergeant brought him food; he ate mechanically, not tasting anything. Carson thought he might be feeling better. Whatever Michael had given to him could be wearing off; it had been a week since the last shot. He shook his head; it could just be that he was back in Atlantis. He felt her humming in his veins, the Ancient gene at work. Carson didn't realize he'd missed it until now. He just sat there, soaking it in. It was hard to put into words what he felt. It was like a buzzing along his skin that would fade into the background once he was used to it. The only other person who could relate was Colonel Sheppard. Others with the natural gene didn't feel the city as intensely and none of those he'd given the synthetic gene to had ever mentioned feeling anything. He dozed on and off, trying not to panic, keeping up with the breathing. He was home but his family wasn't celebrating.

"You awake?"

He sat up and saw Rodney standing in the doorway. "I am now. Will you tell me what the hell is going on, Rodney? I was expecting a big to do, not, not—whatever this is," he said waving his hands around in frustration.

Rodney stepped into the room, hands gripping a data pad. He looked nervous, his fingers tapping against the pad, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "Well, it's…you see…Carson, I…." It was unusual to see the normally loquacious man stumped for words.

"Just spit it out, I won't yell at you, I promise. You're my friend, Rodney. My best friend. I deserve to know what's going on."

"You died."

Carson let out a short, sharp laugh. "Obviously I didn't, lad."

"No, no, I'm explaining it wrong," he said, pressing his fingers into his forehead. Rodney sat next to Carson. "Jennifer ran the blood work four times. You're really you."

"Rodney, you're still not making any sense."

"Carson, to us, you were never missing. We rescued you from the Wraith and brought you back here. At least we thought it was you. But you're the real you. The person we rescued, the one who died, that wasn't you. It wasn't the real Carson Beckett. The tests confirm it; it was a clone."

"A clone? But I wasn't gone long enough for Michael or any of them to develop a clone. How on earth did the Wraith get that kind of technology?"

Rodney showed him the data pad. "Remember the siege, when we were attacked by the Wraith?"

"Aye, how is that important?"

"It seems that some of the ones that beamed down here were rescued. And they took some things with them. Samples, blood samples that you had stored."

"Yes, I had them on hand in case there was a need for transfusions and we didn't have compatible types available. I started collecting them after Colonel Sheppard encountered the Wraith. It seemed prudent given our circumstances. They were kept in one of the outlying labs. But I didn't think the Wraith were advanced enough to do cloning."

Rodney shrugged. "Obviously they are or they know of a civilization that is, one we haven't encountered yet. We think that Michael wanted revenge. He made nice with someone long enough to get started. When we put them down on that planet, their memory was gone, but Michael remembered, eventually. So, somehow he switched you for the clone and we were none the wiser. I'm sorry about that."

"You have nothing to be sorry about, Rodney, you couldn't have known. I wish I could tell you I knew who Michael went to for help with the cloning, but he never said much to me." He put a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder.

He didn't tell Rodney how disappointed he felt. His friends, some of the smartest people in two galaxies, couldn't tell the difference between him and a clone. They had taken it on faith that his clone had been him, the real Carson. He found it slightly hard to believe that in the years since his capture his clone hadn't suffered some kind of injury that would have necessitated the taking and analyzing of blood. But Carson couldn't judge them. He could be angry, sad but he couldn't judge, what he'd said to Rodney had been mostly true, they couldn't have known.

"I'm also sorry I didn't come to see you on the Daedelus. I wanted to, really I did, but once we were aboard there were issues of security that came up."

"They thought I might be a spy."

"Something like that. I try to stay out of military discussions whenever possible. It had to be hell not knowing what was going on."

"You've no idea, Rodney."

There was an awkward silence between them for a few seconds.

"So, um, why did he take you?" Rodney asked eventually.

"My expertise. He had me working on humans, Rodney. I refused at first. But he brought in this young girl, had a soldier feed on her until I cooperated." Carson felt the guilt and anger welling up inside of him. He swallowed hard, pushing it away for now. The nightmares had been plaguing him since that day, he was sure they would continue to for a while.

"Carson…."

"No. I wouldn't see another harmed. I took an oath. I don't know what his plan was; I only saw parts of his research. I think it has something to do with the compatibility of Wraith and human DNA. Will you tell me the rest? Elizabeth? Teyla?"

"Let's get you some more food and settled into a room," Rodney said. "It's a long story."


It was the kicking that brought her around. Teyla rubbed a hand over her stomach to calm the baby. Only when he calmed down did she open her eyes. She was lying on a narrow ledge in a cell aboard a Wraith ship. Her last thought before she had been taken by the dart was for her son. She was glad he was unharmed as far as she could tell. She closed her eyes briefly as she envisioned a wall surrounding her, blocking out the Wraith. Her son had the same gift as she did, so while she carried him it was if her gift was doubled. Awakening aboard the hive ship had been overwhelming.

Blocking the thoughts of the Wraith was a technique she had practiced with Carson. Her son kicked again but she wouldn't let her emotions overwhelm her. It had been almost a year since…since the accident. She remembered his eyes, his voice telling her that he would fix her up. It was her last memory of him. Rodney had been the one to tell her.

"Where is Carson? I wish to thank him for 'fixing me up'," she'd asked.

"Um," Rodney fiddled with the sheet of her bed. "Teyla, there's something you should know."

"Rodney, you can tell me anything."

"Carson died. He—he tried to save the other guy with the tumor, did save him actually. Then he took the tumor out of the surgery bay and it—I'm sorry. I know you were his friend."

Her heart had sunk and she fought back tears. "Thank you for telling me, Rodney."

Outwardly she had stood stoically in front of the flag draped coffin; inwardly she was an emotional wreck. Days afterwards she visited New Athos and it was there she had truly mourned.

Her teammates, her family, they didn't know her true feelings for Carson Beckett. It was on Athos that she reunited with her childhood friend, Kanaan. Too much ruus wine had added to her vulnerable state and her son was conceived. She didn't regret that he existed; only that he was not Carson's. Kanaan had said he would honor her, but she refused. It was his voice she had followed, if only for the sake of her son.

She pushed those thoughts aside as she made an assessment of her current situation. She was alone. The darts had come for her, so that meant it was not a random attack. There was only one Wraith she could think of who would be after her, Michael. Why he wanted her, she couldn't fathom. She was without weapons, without help and unable to fight without causing harm to her child.

She sat up, looking out of her cell, but there was not much to see. She could vaguely sense at least one guard standing outside of the room, even with her wall up, and then she sensed others approaching. They must have been monitoring her in some way because the door opened and a soldier brought her a tray of food. It proved that Michael had prepared for her capture. Teyla ate, but only for her son. She knew her team was already looking for her. They would find her; she had no doubt of that fact. She would do the same if the roles were reversed.

For the most part, she was left alone. She felt the movement of the ship under her, so she knew she was being taken somewhere. There was a container in the corner where she could relieve herself. Teyla wondered how long it would be before Michael would come to visit her. She didn't have to wait long. She was trying to sleep on the ledge when she felt the presence of someone in the room with her though she had not heard the door open.

Her gift indicated to her it was a Wraith, but this was not like any of the Wraith she has sensed before. Teyla rolled over, sitting up. "Hello?" The figure moved but the shadows hid him. If it was Michael, he didn't say anything. Teyla stood awkwardly, and then she moved to the bars of her cell, attempting to make out who her visitor was. "Who are you? Why have you taken me?"

The figure moved forward. The little amount of light she had in her cell slowly revealed his features. She gasped. "Kanaan?" It was her friend, the father of her child, yet it was not. His face resembled Michael's now. Her senses said he was Wraith, but he wasn't. He was like Michael was when he first escaped Atlantis; not human, but not entirely Wraith either. He stood there silently, just out of her reach. "Kanaan, it is me, Teyla. What has happened to you? Tell me, do you know where are people are? I would tell them of our child, our son."

"He won't talk unless I tell him he can."

Teyla looked past Kanaan to the door. "Michael. What have you done?"

He looked more Wraith-like than the last time she had seen him. His expression was one of triumph. "I have done to him what your scientists did to me. He is a hybrid."

"Why?"

Michael laughed and it was not a comforting sound. "I am building an army. The Atlanteans will pay for what they did to me."

Teyla looked from Michael to Kanaan. "My people? The Athosians, you are the one who took them."

"Yes. Your friend here was an especially good find. He was more—adaptable."

"Because of his DNA," she said softly.

"Yes. That is why I took you. Your child is very special. He will help me in my quest to make more hybrids."

Teyla stepped back, her hand going to her stomach. "You will not harm my son. Kanaan, please, help me."

Kanaan didn't respond, didn't move. Teyla wanted to reach for him, wanted to plead some more for the life of her son, but she didn't because Kanaan was not there. His eyes were void of the joy and wit she once knew. This was not the man who had comforted her in her time of need. This was…a thing, a monster made by another monster.

"You may go now," Michael said. Kanaan turned and left. Teyla swallowed her pain. She stood straighter and faced Michael.

"My team is coming for me. You won't succeed."

"I have already succeeded. I have you, don't I? Your son will be the final piece in my master plan."

"How did you accomplish all this so quickly?"

"I had help from another," Michael said cryptically, a triumphant gleam in his eye. "Rest, you will need all of your strength in the coming days." He swept out of the room, leaving her alone.

Teyla thought about his words. He had been given help. It was one thing to make the Iratus bug into a larger, stronger creature, but to make others that were like him was quite another. Teyla knew there were few groups in the Pegasus galaxy with scientists who had that kind of knowledge. The one man she knew of who had the best expertise was gone. She allowed herself silent tears for Carson. She had loved him as she had loved no other.

And while Michael wanted her son because both she and Kanaan possessed Wraith DNA, she was momentarily grateful that Carson was not the father. A child with the Ancient gene and Wraith DNA would have been even more tempting to Michael. She collapsed onto the ledge. In the dark, she prayed to the Ancestors for guidance and strength.


Damn Michael to hell, Carson thought. He was laid up in a bed after collapsing. He'd survived going off world, rescuing a man who, according to Jennifer, may have had a hand in the disappearance of the Athosians and quite possibly Teyla. But then, in the operating room, he'd blacked out. Carson didn't remember any of it. He'd turned to grab some equipment and the next thing he knew he was waking up in a gurney. The cliché about doctors being bad patients was turning out to be true. He'd harassed the nurse until they'd retrieved Jennifer. Sheppard and Rodney had shown up at the same time.

"How are you feeling?" Sheppard asked.

"Like a damned fool. I don't know why I collapsed, but I think it might have something to do with Michael. He'd been giving me weekly injections of some kind of drug cocktail, sedatives mostly. It's been almost a week since the last one."

Jennifer wasn't looking too happy. "Carson…I…whatever it was it was definitely more than just sedatives."

"Well, lass, what?"

"I went back and looked at your blood work. It seems you were given a modified version of the Hoffan virus."

"I thought you had a cure for that," Rodney said.

"I do, but this version is resistant. Michael did something to the virus and it's attacking all of Carson's organs. He's deteriorating. I don't know what I can do to stop it."

Carson started to get out of the bed, but Rodney stopped him. "Hold on there."

"Look, Rodney, I just got back home. I found out that you thought I was dead. Elizabeth is dead, Teyla is missing and now I might be dying. Forgive me if I don't want to just lie here and accept my fate. I can help. I developed that virus. I might be able to figure out what Michael did to it."

"I could use his insight," Jennifer said. "And I've managed to halt the progression for now."

"Fine, but don't push yourself too hard. Medicine might be equivalent to voodoo, but I will admit that you are the best person I know for the job, no offense, Jennifer," Rodney sighed. "I just got my best friend back, and I'm not losing you again."

"I'll be careful, Rodney."

They left, Carson smiling as he heard the fading argument between the two.

"I thought I was your best friend, McKay."

"You're both my best friends, okay?"


Knowing that Michael had taken her people and seeing them were two different things. So when the hive ship landed, Teyla wasn't sure what to expect. Being led to a large room where the Athosians were being held was not one of those things. Her eyes filled with tears of joy at seeing them all. She noted that the number of them here in the room was significantly less than the number who had been in the village. Halling was the first to really reach her, bending to touch his forehead to hers. His hand hovered over her stomach before she gave a small nod. Her son kicked at the touch, as if he knew that Halling was a friend. Others soon crowded around her, greeting her in the traditional manner and offering up congratulations on her child. Halling steered her away from them after a short while.

"We had worried for your safety," Halling said when they were finally able sit down.

"And I for yours. I should have been there with you."

"Then you would have been captured along with us. Have you seen…?"

Teyla knew who he was speaking of. "Yes, I saw Kanaan on the ship that brought me here. I know of what Michael did to him and to the others. It grieves me to see that so many have been taken by Michael. He wishes to use my son to help him create an army."

"We will not allow that. I will not allow that," Halling emphasized. "You are the daughter of a leader, a leader in your own right. We will defend your child to our last breath."

Teyla knew this to be true, but she would not see it happen. The survival of her people was important. "Colonel Sheppard and his team are coming for me; you must continue to have hope."

"We did," a woman who had been sitting nearby said. "And then they brought you."

"We still have hope, to say that we do not is a falsehood," Halling replied sharply. "You should be thanking the Ancestors that you are still alive, still here with friends and family. Go away from us and think about how lucky you are."

The woman slunk away, her eyes downcast. Teyla was glad that Halling had made her leave but she was still upset. He took her deeper into the large room, sitting her down before settling across from her. "I have not asked because I know that you are your own woman, Teyla Emmagan, but I ask you now because you look burdened. I ask because you are like a daughter to me. I know that Kanaan was not the first choice you would have made for the father of your child. I know that you refused his offer of marriage. Tell me why. Tell me who it is that kept you from marrying and having a family. Who holds your heart, Teyla?"

"I," she started, not knowing how to put her feelings into words. "Do you remember when I came to New Athos last?"

"Yes, it was unexpected yet welcome joy to have you with us. You are always welcome, Teyla, do not forget that."

"I will not, Halling, I promise that I will visit more often. But do you remember the purpose of my visit?"

He thought for a moment. "You would not say at first. I remember that you looked tired, sad. Then you told us of the Ancient machine, of the deaths…," he stopped. Halling regarded her, understanding in his eyes. "It is the doctor. Doctor Beckett."

"Yes," she whispered, "I loved him. I do not know when it came, but it was there. I am not sure why I did not say anything to him."

"Perhaps it is because what you felt for him was true. The Ancestors say there is only one other for us. We are lucky if we find them. I am sorry for you, Teyla."

She said nothing, the tears flowing down her face. She let Halling comfort her as she grieved again for Carson.


Carson was still trying to break the riddle of the virus that Michael had given him when Rodney came by. The rest of the infirmary was empty save for a nurse. One of the other doctors on call was likely catching a few moments of sleep.

"Have you stopped since you got out of that bed?"

"Huh? Oh, Rodney," he said, sitting up straight and cracking his back. "What time is it?"

"If you have to ask, then the answer to my question is no. Come on, let's get you some food before you pass out and have to be put in bed again."

It must have been night because the city was unusually quiet. Carson hadn't even dared look out a window; he had needed to concentrate on the work. Jennifer had long since gone away by the time Rodney had shown up. The mess was quiet, a few sandwiches and ever present coffee all that it offered. Rodney sat across from Carson and stared at him instead of eating.

"I'm not going to vanish, lad."

"I know, it's just—I thought you were gone, Carson."

"Aye, but I'm back, and as I said before, I'm not going anywhere, Rodney." They sat in silence for a while longer, Carson absorbing the sounds of the city. "I missed this."

"Missed what?"

"Atlantis. The way she hums in my blood, the way she lights up when I walk into the room. Now it's not like when the Colonel walks into a room, but it's still something."

"Well, Sheppard can't help that the city is a slut for his Ancient gene. But I get what you mean. We had to go back to Earth, were forced back actually, and I didn't realize that I could feel her until I didn't anymore."

Carson smiled. "You'll have to tell me that story sometime soon. I'm sure there a lot of stories I'll have to be told. I did have one thing that was bugging me though."

"What?"

"When I was taken to the infirmary, the first time, I looked out at the water, it seemed different somehow, but I couldn't place why. I've not had the time or inclination to look again. Can you explain?"

"That's right, you don't know. Well, neither of you would have known," Rodney said, meaning the clone.

"Known what, Rodney?"

"This isn't Atlantis."

Carson sighed, rolling his eyes in frustration. "Of course it is, Rodney, I think I would have noticed if it wasn't the same city."

"Well, I meant…it's not the same planet. We…uh…moved the city."

"Oh aye?" he asked, eyebrows quirking upwards. "How and why?"

"Why? The Replicators, they have, had, a human version here too. They took over the city briefly, we were helped in getting rid of them by some Ancients, which is the other story I mentioned earlier. The Replicators wanted either Atlantis back, or to destroy it. We tried sinking the city, but that didn't work, so we managed to scrape up enough power to get her into orbit. Sheppard flew her here."

"I vaguely remember you saying something about the city having the capability to fly, but that it would take far more power than we had.

"Yeah we found an underwater drilling station just before that all happened. We tapped into the geothermal power to give us the boost we needed. It was magnificent."

"Aye, I'm sure that it was a sight to remember. So is this a good planet?"

"Yeah, it's pretty good. I kind of miss the whales though." Carson gave Rodney a look. "Another story. I promise to tell you everything you missed once you get this…virus thing figured out."

"Thank you, Rodney. So what are you working on now?"

"We've been trying to find out where Michael took Teyla."

Carson's heart began to race at the mere mention of her name. "You're sure he's the one who has her?"

Rodney gave Carson a look that suggested Rodney was suppressing the urge to call him an idiot. "It has to be. You know that he's been experimenting. Did I tell you what he did with that damn bug thing?"

"The Iratus?"

"Yeah, that. He turned it into this huge thing, like something out of a horror film. Very Creature of the Black Lagoon. So if he was using humans like you said, it kind of stands to reason he'd want Teyla. He was going to use her before and now…," he stopped.

"Now what, Rodney?"

"I didn't tell you everything about Teyla."

Carson put his sandwich down. "What?"

"Well…look, I kind of figured out how you feel…felt…feel about her and well….."

"Rodney."

"She's pregnant, Carson. The father also has Wraith DNA, has the same 'gift' that she does."

His heart stopped for what seemed like forever. She had a lover, another man in her life who was possibly more than just the father of her child. A child. A little one who would have her eyes, her coloring. In his mind he could picture her, she was beautiful. Whatever he felt for her was nothing compared to this.

"God, I'm so sorry, Carson."

"You had to tell me, Rodney."

"I know that you were mooning after her, I never realized…."

"I love her, Rodney. I've loved her for a long time and I was a fool to never tell her. Now it doesn't matter, she has another."

"Ummmm."

Carson just glared this time.

"She didn't say it explicitly, but I kind of got the impression that it was a one time thing, so you might still have a chance."

Hope flared fresh in his heart. "I have to figure this virus out first."

"Yeah. We also have to find her."

"I might have some ideas about that," Carson said, picking his sandwich back up.

"Don't leave me hanging, Carson. She's my friend too."

"I don't have complete addresses, but I figure our friend Nadon may have given you those, but I do remember the layout of his hideaways. You just have to persuade that new Colonel of yours that I'm trustworthy."

"I'll deal with Sam, you just work on getting yourself better."


He used every ounce of his charm and logic to make a good argument to Colonel Carter. She stood there stoically throughout. Elizabeth wouldn't have needed convincing. He'd been made to leave the room before she decided. He knew that Rodney, Ronon and Colonel Sheppard would also argue for him, not just to go with his plan but to let him go along with the team. So when Rodney found him to tell him the good news, Carson couldn't have been happier. It was better than returning to Atlantis. It would only be eclipsed if they brought Teyla home.

Nearly collapsing in the hall didn't deter him. He was going. Nothing short of death could stop him now. The only one who had seen him collapse was a young major and he'd brushed it off as being tired. A couple of teams of Marines were joining them, there would no doubt be a large Wraith presence guarding any and all prisoners. He stood in front of the wormhole, adrenalin coursing through his veins.

The rescue of the Athosians was a good start. Halling had been overjoyed to see them all, his face one of curiosity when he saw Carson. Colonel Sheppard had stopped any questions when he asked about Teyla. When Halling said the guards had taken Teyla further into the complex, Carson started to worry. Michael was here. He wasn't sure how he knew, but he was sure of this. They found the room with its screen and needles. Whatever Michael had been planning to give her, he couldn't because of them. That gave him some comfort. But the sound of the hive ship firing up didn't. Then there was the firefight.

Carson could handle himself under fire, but something drew his attention away and he followed his instincts. He ducked down a hall, just around a corner from the rest of his team. There she was. Teyla. There were two guards with her, but he shot them quickly. When they fell she turned to see who her rescuer was. The confusion in her eyes saddened him.

"Carson?"

He crossed to her quickly. "It's me, Teyla."

"How?" she said, her hand coming up to touch him. Her hand was warm and her touch electrified him.

"Don't ask," he said, pulling her to him. She was more radiant than he'd imagined. The child within her moved and he was awed. "We must go, now. Colonel Sheppard and the rest are waiting for us."

"No you won't."

Carson looked up to see Michael. He held Teyla closer to her, raising his gun again. "Yes, I will."

"I really don't think so, Dr. Beckett. You surely must be feeling the effects of it. All the stress of a rescue can't be helping."

He didn't want to listen, but what Michael was saying was true. He was feeling weaker, but having Teyla near him was bound to give him strength enough to pull the trigger. He let her go, pushing her behind him. "Go, Teyla."

"I won't leave you, Carson."

As he stared Michael down, his hand starting to tremble. "See, you are faltering. I will take her and there is nothing you can do about it." Carson wavered and went down on one knee. Teyla was beside him instantly.

"Carson!"

He looked into her eyes. "At least I got to see you again. It was the thought of you that kept me going. Know this, Teyla Emmagan, I love you. I have always loved you and always will."

She let out a small sob. "I love you, Carson Beckett." She placed a kiss on his lips before Michael tugged her away.

"So touching, a pity we must leave. Goodbye, Doctor Beckett."

Michael pulled Teyla away as Carson collapsed to the floor. She called his name one more time before they vanished from his sight. He was dying, he knew that. The sound of the hive ship got louder, it would be leaving the planet soon. He heard more voices. It was Rodney. "Over here! Carson, are you okay?"

"I saw her, Rodney."

"You saw Teyla?"

"Yes. Michael took her again. I couldn't stop them."

Rodney took his hand. "We'll find her again. Let's get you back home."

Carson barely nodded. His last thoughts were a mixture of sadness and frustration and complete joy in the knowledge that Teyla loved him. Then he let unconsciousness take him. He woke to find himself in the familiar surroundings of the infirmary his friends surrounding the bed. "Don't look so sad."

"There is one other option," Jennifer said.

"The stasis chamber."

"Just until I figure out the virus."

It could be months, even years before that happened, but it was better than death. Carson just nodded. Ronon helped him into a wheelchair. The other doctors and nurses surrounded him, wishing him well until Jennifer reminded them they needed to go. They all paraded down to where the chamber was. It seemed that the lines of communication in Atlantis were working overtime. The halls were lined with people, civilians and military alike, all there to see him off, wish him well. But Carson just nodded, not paying attention to their words. He was thinking of Teyla, of the kiss. He would go into the chamber knowing she loved him back. It was something to hold onto yet again, another anchor for him to cling to. He got out of the chair and hugged Ronon.

Colonel Carter was waiting there. He took it her outstretched hand and shook it. "I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to know you, Doctor Beckett. I'm sorry that you were put through all of this. Trust me when I say that we'll all be working on a way to get you out of there."

"Thank you, Colonel."

Rodney came up next. "You know, I've been toying around with the idea to add VR to these things. What do you say? I could have you fishing for some really big salmon."

"Thank you, Rodney, but no." Rodney nodded and gave him an awkward hug. He backed into the chamber. When he looked up again, he saw Colonel Sheppard standing there in front of him.

"Doc…."

"Find her, Colonel. Promise me you'll find her."

"I promise."

With that Carson settled back into the chamber. Jennifer closed the door and he felt a rush of cold air before he felt nothing at all.


When the guards had come for her, Halling had tried to persuade them to take him instead, but Teyla was strong, she went with them. She would not show fear, but as they strapped her to the table, she feared the worst. Laying there, her stomach prominent, she thought of her family. Not her father or her mother or even Halling, but John, Rodney and Ronon. They were more her family now than anyone, for she had no close relatives left on New Athos. She included Elizabeth and Carson as her family as well. It was Carson she thought of the most. Even as Michael showed her the pictures of her son, she thought of the man who could have been his father.

The gunfire she heard meant only one thing: they had found her. Michael ordered the guards to unstrap her while he went to see to the ship. They did so quickly but didn't help her from the table. She struggled to sit up and had barely found her balance before they whisked her away from the room, away from the fight. She wanted to shout, but knew if she did, they would harm her. They were walking briskly down the hall when first one, and then the other guard was gunned down. She turned to see which of her team had come to her rescue. Instead, she saw a dead man.

"Carson?" She blinked as if in a dream.

He crossed to her quickly. "It's me, Teyla."

"How?" she said, her hand coming up to touch him. It was not a dream. It was truly him. She didn't really care why.

"Don't ask," he said, pulling her to him. He was warm and she could feel his heart beat beneath her cheek. Her son moved as if in approval. "We must go, now. Colonel Sheppard and the rest are waiting for us."

"No you won't." It was Michael. Carson's grip tightened as he raised his gun.

"Yes, I will."

"I really don't think so, Dr. Beckett. You surely must be feeling the affects of it. All the stress of a rescue can't be helping."

She wanted to know what Michael was talking about. Carson looked and felt fine. But another look made her realize he wasn't. Carson's hand was shaking, his heartbeat was erratic under her hand, and he was breaking out in a sweat. He pushed her behind him. "Go, Teyla."

"I won't leave you, Carson."

She stood her ground, but Carson's hand started to tremble more. "See, you are faltering. I will take her and there is nothing you can do about it." Carson went down on one knee. She was beside him, kneeling down quickly if awkwardly.

"Carson!"

He looked into her eyes. "At least I got to see you again. It was the thought of you that kept me going. Know this, Teyla Emmagan, I love you. I have always loved you and always will."

Her heart soared as she let out a sob. Her emotions overwhelmed her as she spoke. "I love you, Carson Beckett." She placed a kiss on his lips before Michael tugged her away.

"So touching, a pity we must leave. Goodbye, Doctor Beckett." He pulled her from Carson. She tried to fight him but it was difficult to do that as well as keep up with him. She saw Carson collapse to the floor and called his name again. More guards appeared beside Michael, taking her from him and moving towards the ship.

They took her to her cell. Michael said nothing. It was obvious that he had something to do with Carson being alive but she wouldn't get her answers now. She was left alone again. They had found her and they would again. Whatever had been ailing Carson would not matter. He would get better and they would be together. He loved her. Teyla held that fact close as the ship jumped into hyperspace.

Parts of her mind began to question what had happened. Carson was dead. Rodney would not have lied to her. She had seen the coffin, watched as everyone around her mourned the passing of their friend and colleague. But there he had been, living and breathing. He had held her, talked to her, kissed her. Perhaps Michael had been able to give her something and she was dreaming all of this. She refused to think that way. It would mean that her family had not come for her.

It had all been real. Carson had been there. Who was she to question the how and the why of his presence? The Ancestors had a plan that is what she had been taught. To question them was to tempt fate. She closed her eyes and prayed again. She prayed for her friends, her son, for Carson.


She was very close to her time. Teyla had tried to keep track of the days, but it was nearly impossible to do so in her cell. Her instincts were telling her that her son would be born soon. She prayed daily to the Ancestors and to the God that Elizabeth had told her some people on Earth believed in. Her team, her family had found her once and they would find her again, it was a belief she held to dearly, repeating it to herself many times a day.

Michael had visited her once after they'd escaped the planet. A week ago, he had taken her to what she assumed was a medical bay. There he had done another scan and said her baby was due soon. Kanaan had come to her a handful of times. She had given up on trying to get through to him, but he kept coming. Maybe a very small part of the man she once knew was still in there. They had not landed again, but continued to hurtle through the blackness of space. Because of how close she was to birthing she dared not connect directly with a Wraith using her gift, but she'd overheard snippets of conversations. Her team was out there, destroying Michael's labs.

The pains began in the morning and they would not go away as she paced. She had been escorted to the medical bay again by another Wraith. It had not been able to start any procedures because the ship had been rocked by an explosion. It was her team, they had found her again. Nothing was going to convince her to think otherwise. The ship lurched under the barrage. The Daedelus was most likely as the ship attacking. The contractions kept coming, closer and closer together. She tried to use the breathing techniques that Jennifer had told her about but it was not enough. Her son was eager to be born. She wished deeply that she could have Charin with her, to help her with the birthing process.

She leaned against a console as another contraction hit her, then she felt wetness flow down her leg. Her water had broken; it would not be long now. Her legs began to tremble and she lowered herself to the floor. She turned to the Ancestors for the strength she would need to get through this alone should it come to that. She prayed for Rodney, John and Ronon to find her. She needed them. The familiar sound of rapid gunfire was not far away. She shouted, "John!"

"We're here to get you out." He said through the door.

"Not a moment too soon," she replied struggling to regain her feet.

She managed to lean against the console once more as the doors to the room opened slowly. John cut through the goo with his P-90. Ronon and Rodney were not far behind him. She smiled.

"We got to get you back to the jumper," Ronon said. He came to her side as another contraction swept through her and she stumbled.

"You okay?" John asked.

"My baby."

"What? Is something wrong?"

"No. I have been having contractions, they are very close now. He is coming." Ronon guided her to a bench that she had not seen previously. "I am sorry, I need only a moment."

"Well, we'll get you outta here and Keller will take care of you," John said. "You gotta get her buddy," he said to Ronon. "I'm a little out of commission here."

She could see that he was hurt. Yet he had still come for her.

"I've got you," Ronon said.

"I can walk, give me a moment."

"Uh…guys," Rodney interrupted. "We've got a bit of a problem here."

"Now's not the time," John said.

"It's the hyper drive. It's back online."

"Fuck. Can you shut it down?"

Teyla cried out as she felt the need to push. They all turned to her for a moment before she nodded that they should continue without her.

Rodney consulted his pad. "Not from this little thing. The drive room is just down the corridor, I've got a map."

John went over and looked at it before nodding. "A little C4 should take care of it," he said. "Ronon, with me, Rodney, stay here with Teyla."

"It's okay, you'll be okay," Ronon said softly to her as he helped her to the floor. He was so very gentle with her. He was the brother she'd never had; all of them were. "You take care of her," he growled to Rodney.

They left and Rodney stood by the door, looking nervous. "So how are you?"

"The pain is very great, Rodney." He babbled on about something. Teyla focused on her son, trying to block the pain, trying her best not to push. When it was obvious he had finished talking, she glared at him. "Good for you."

"Sorry, I…I don't know what to do," he said as he crossed the room, kneeling by her. "Have you tried that breathing thing, Jeanie told me about it once."

"Yes, there is nothing more that I can do, Rodney."

"What do you need me to do?"

His face was full of concern that she immediately regretted feeling angry at him. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it through the contraction. "My son, he is coming now, Rodney."

"What? That's too quick. People don't have babies this quickly," he looked scared, nervous.

"My water broke some time ago," she groaned, resisting the urge to push for a little while longer. "I have been trying to hold on but I cannot any longer."

"No, no, just…hold on a little longer and you'll be in the infirmary of the Daedelus and Keller will pull him out of there in no time."

"Rodney, my son is coming now."

"Yeah, but am I supposed to—am I," he fumbled for words, gesturing wildly with his hands towards her body. "Am I allowed to touch you down there? I don't know what to do!"

"Rodney, I need you to be calm."

"But you need a doctor."

"Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without doctors." Even as she said the words, Teyla wished for the comfort of the Atlantean infirmary. She wanted to be anywhere but here. She wished to be on New Athos, surrounded by her people, by the women with their herbs and potions, by Halling who would hold her hand and perform the welcome ceremony afterwards. She wanted to be in Atlantis, in a bed with the nurses and the drugs and Jennifer there to help. She wanted Carson.

"The infant mortality rate before was like one in three. Doctors are an important part of the equation. I'm not a doctor. Well, I am, but I'm not an MD, you need an MD."

The pain was great and she couldn't fight it any more. Her son needed to be born now. "Rodney, I need you to help me. There are no doctors here, you are here. I need you to do this."

"But, I can't."

"You can, Rodney. I need you," she said near tears. "Please, I need you to catch him." She watched as her friend, this man she considered a brother fought with himself.

"Catch him?"

"Yes, you need to catch him when I push him out."

"Okay, but do it underhand, I was never good at baseball." He knelt down in front of her, taking off his jacket as he did so. His face was screwed up into a grimace.

She laughed as she began to push with the contraction. She gritted her teeth through the pain, if she cried out now it would draw the attention of the Wraith, perhaps of Michael. She did not want that with her son so near to being born.

"I see the head. That's good right?"

"Yes, Rodney, it is," she struggled to say. There was a rumble that she felt under her. Ronon and John had been successful with the hyper drive. She pushed again.

"Here he comes," she said.

"Almost there, almost there," Rodney encouraged.

She took a deep breath and pushed with what remaining strength she had. Her entire body was straining as she felt her son slip out. She relaxed and saw Rodney.

"I caught him," he said, his face was bright with surprise. "It's a boy!"

Teyla just smiled. She felt a rush of hormones go through her. She only wished that it could have been Carson that had been here instead. Or maybe both him and Rodney.

"Support his head," she said.

"Right, right." He moved her son in his arms carefully. "Can I cut the cord now? I get to cut the cord, right?"

She nodded. She had pushed the afterbirth out a few moments earlier. Rodney pulled a small knife out of his jacket and cut the cord. He looked at her with wonder. "Teyla, I'd like you to meet your son." She took him in her arms. A few moments later the door opened and her other team mates came through.

"Oh wow," John said.

"I caught him," Rodney said. "Didn't hit the floor or anything."

"He did a wonderful job," she said.

"You did good, Rodney. Can you move?"

Teyla nodded. "I will need your help, Ronon." He just scooped her and her son up. They left the room quickly, heading for one of the cargo bays. They encountered few more Wraith, who were most likely attending to the damage on the ship. Once they reached the bay, John attempted to uncloak the jumper but was unsuccessful.

"Dammit, Michael knows we're here. We've gotta find another way out."

They turned, fighting past a handful of Wraith who seemed surprised to find them aboard. In another hallway they were stopped by one of the hybrids; Kanaan. John and Rodney lifted their weapons, prepared to shoot him.

"No," she said. "Let me down a moment, Ronon, I will be fine, this is Kannan." He set her down gently and she approached Kanaan slowly, their child in her arms. "This is your son, our son, Kanaan. You cannot let Michael have him. You must help us." Kanaan reached out to touch the baby. His expression softened and he looked at her, the Kannan she once knew shining through his eyes.

"That way," he said, speaking for the first time since she'd found him. He pointed to the left. "It is a shortcut to another cargo bay. There will be a few darts there."

"Come with us," Teyla said. "Be a father to our son."

"No," he said. "Go, I will keep the others from finding you. I am sorry that you could not love me as I loved you, Teyla Emmagan. But I am glad for our child. Tell him of me. Now go."

She wanted to say more but the sound of Wraith stunner-fire behind them stopped her. She nodded, caressing Kanaan's cheek before turning back to Ronon. He came forward, lifting her up again and they ran in the direction Kanaan had pointed. They reached the dart and he put her down again. John frowned.

"I can only get us off this ship by putting you all in storage."

"Take him," she said, pushing her child towards him. "I will not have my son there."

"Wouldn't think of it," he said taking him from her. Ronon helped John into the dart because of his injury. She watched as he settled into the pilot's seat with her son. He looked good with a child in his arms. She hoped that one day he would have one of his own. She closed her eyes and rested against Rodney as the dart powered up. The scream of the beam was the last thing she heard before she was taken into storage.

When she opened her eyes again, they were on a planet. Ronon scooped her up quickly. They were met there by others who helped John out of the dart and took her son. They went through the gate back to Atlantis where Jennifer and her staff were waiting for them all. She was sure that news of her rescue was spreading quickly through the city, but that John or Ronon would keep visitors away until she was ready for them. The drugs were a welcome relief from the remaining pain. The brief shower she was allowed was even more so. Jennifer brought her son back to her as she lay in a warm, comfortable bed for the first time in months.

"He's just perfect, Teyla. Eight pounds, nine ounces, a good weight."

Teyla just gazed at him. John was soon wheeled in and set next to her. "I cannot believe that you attempted a rescue in your condition."

"Attempted?" he scoffed. "I did rescue you. How's the kid?"

"Jennifer says he is perfectly healthy. I say he is perfectly everything."

"Have you thought of a name?"

"I was thinking Torren John, for my father and for you."

Jennifer and her staff came back, ready to wheel John into surgery. "McKay's going to be pissed," he commented as he was taken away. "But I would be honored."

"So be it," she said. "Torren John Emmagan."

Only a few moments later, Rodney walked in carrying some flowers. "Are those for me?"

"They are," he said, holding them out and then taking them back when he saw her arms were full. "So, uh…how's he doing?"

"Torren is very well," she said.

"Torren? A family name?"

She nodded. "For my father. He is also named for John, I hope you do not mind, Rodney."

"No, no, John's a good name, a solid name," he said, but he did look a little crestfallen.

"I promise that if I have any sons in the future I will consider naming them for you," she said.

"Really?" His look of hope was one of the most endearing things about him.

"I never break a promise. There is something else that I must ask you, Rodney."

"Oh, I'm totally ready to be a godfather. I've been reading up on babies and all that, Jeannie sent me this book."

"You will be an excellent guardian for Torren," she assured him. "But I was speaking of the first rescue that you attempted, on the planet, with my people."

"Carson," he said. His face turned sad once more.

"He was truly there," she said, relieved. "For a time I had almost convinced myself that I was dreaming. How is it possible, Rodney?"

"Lemme take you somewhere, I'll explain on the way. Do you want to take Torren or leave him here?"

"I will bring him with us."

Rodney flagged down a nurse and they brought a wheelchair in for Teyla. It took a minute or so to get everything coordinated and settled before they were ready to go. Rodney pushed her out of the infirmary and down the halls of Atlantis. He told her of their discovery in another of Michael's labs, of finding Carson, of Jennifer's tests. The man that she had known, he was not real. Did that mean that what she felt was not real either? It couldn't be true. The Carson that she had kissed on the planet was the real Carson. He was the one who had confessed love for her, the one who she had said the words back to. It didn't matter to her, Carson was Carson, and be it a clone version of him or the real thing, her feelings for him would never change.

"We're here," Rodney said taking her from her thoughts.

He pushed her into a room that she knew to have stasis chambers. All but one were empty. Inside the occupied one she could see Carson. He seemed to be sleeping.

"We, uh, had to put him in here because he was dying. Jennifer is still working on trying to figure out what's going on. I'm confident that he won't be in there very long."

"I am sure that it will not be long either."

They let silence surround them for a while. Teyla just stared; there were many things she wished she could have said to him before they had parted. It was enough that they had been able to have the few minutes that they did, they had been able to see each other, to hold one another, to say the long held words. She had been a fool to never approach him. Torren could have been his child.

"He loves you, you know," Rodney said.

"And I him," she replied. "We were able to say that much before he collapsed, before Michael took me away."

Rodney put a hand on her shoulder. "I can leave you alone for a while if you want."

"No," she said closing her eyes. It was too painful to see him like this, to not be able to touch him, to talk to him. "I am tired, let us go back to the infirmary."


The first thing that he noticed was the hum of Atlantis. The second were the voices. He was out of the stasis chamber, but how much time had passed? Carson opened his eyes taking in the ever familiar sight of the infirmary. A nurse noticed his alertness and Jennifer was by his side in no time.

"How are you feeling?"

"A bit groggy lass, but I'm fairly good otherwise. How long was I in there?"

"A couple of months," said the voice of Colonel Sheppard. Carson saw him come around the corner with Ronon, Rodney and best of all, Teyla. "As you can see, doc, I kept my promise."

"That you did, Colonel. Thank you," he said.

There were a few moments of chit chat, catching up on what little Carson had missed during his time in the chamber. He was glad that Michael's ship had been destroyed, but he had his doubts as to the demise of their half- Wraith enemy. He didn't pay much attention to anything else that was said to him, making only perfunctory comments. All his attention was on Teyla. She had delivered her child. She said nothing, seeming to participate but sneaking glances at him when she thought he wasn't looking.

"We need to go," Rodney said. "I have something going in the lab and don't you have that class, Ronon?"

Ronon just grunted.

"Yeah, I have some paperwork to do," John said. "You two have a good visit."

They left Teyla and Carson alone, or as alone as they could be.

"That wasn't very subtle," he remarked.

"They mean well. They know how much we feel for each other. I had wanted to be here from the moment Jennifer took you out of the chamber but I…."

"I understand," he said. "Your child, is it healthy?"

"I had a son, Torren John, everything is well with him. He is with Major Lorne right now. Everyone in Atlantis fights to take care of him when I need to be elsewhere."

"What about his father?" Carson didn't want to ask, but he had to. The man who had contributed to the creation of this child was going to have a part in his life; Teyla wouldn't have it any other way.

She lowered her head. "He is gone. He sacrificed himself so that the others could get me off of Michael's ship. He was a very brave and kind man. I knew him when we were children." She sat on the edge of his bed, taking his hand. "Carson, I didn't love him. I only turned to him when I…when I thought…."

"Teyla, a ghra, there's no need to say anymore. You are only human, you needed to grieve. It was the thought of you that kept me going in my darkest hours. When I went into that chamber it was with the memory of your kiss and the knowledge that you returned my love."

"It was that knowledge that gave me comfort during the final weeks of my capture," she confessed. "When I was alone and Torren was quiet I would think of you, of why I gave my heart to you, of why I kept quiet."

"We were both quite foolish in that respect, Teyla," Carson said. "I have loved you for a long time, though I wouldn't admit it to myself until I was taken by Michael. I can only hope that my unfortunate counterpart felt the same way given that he was a part of me."

"I think that he did. When Rodney told me that he was a clone, I questioned my feelings. I do not know exactly when it was that I my friendship with you turned into more, Carson. But I know that it was you I kissed, you I told my feelings too. The other Carson was a part of you. I loved him as well. It was him that I grieved for."

He brought her hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to her palm. "I feel a bit jealous of him."

"But I have you here now and I am not letting you go," she said quite firmly.

"I think your Colonel Carter might have a thing or two to say about that."

"Sam is not on Atlantis anymore," Teyla said. "She was replaced by the IOA."

"By who? I shudder to think of what idiotic bureaucrat they might have sent."

"Richard Woolsey. He is a bit tiresome, but I think he has Atlantis' best interest at heart. He did push Jennifer into making a decision to use her cure. So we have him to thank for you being here."

"I can begrudge the man that much," Carson said.

Any further conversation was stalled when Jennifer came by. "Sorry to interrupt, but Carson really should rest."

"I will see you later," Teyla promised leaning down to kiss him.

Carson brushed a hand into her hair, bringing her in closer. He wanted to savor this kiss. She tasted of tea, the Athosian kind she'd given him that first Christmas. She felt good against him, her hand on his chest to brace herself. Reluctantly he broke it off. "I look forward to your visit, you should bring Torren."

Teyla nodded, a light flush spreading across her cheeks as she left. Carson submitted to Jennifer checking his vitals. He would have plenty of time to be with Teyla, to court her properly. He closed his eyes, ready to dream of a future with the woman he loved.

Carson didn't know how long he'd slept. Whatever rest he had gotten was disturbed by the low tone of angry voices at the end of his bed.

"He needs to rest," Jennifer said.

"He's been in stasis for two months, how much more rest does he need?"

"Stasis and rest are two different things," Carson replied, opening his eyes and sitting up. Jennifer was there with Woolsey. "The human body was never meant to be flash frozen like that. It only slows down all of the processes, it doesn't rejuvenate the body and the mind like sleep does."

"Are you okay, Carson?" Jennifer asked, giving him a look that said she'd send the other man away if Carson wanted.

"I'll be fine. The sooner I talk to Mr. Woolsey here the sooner I can get my rest."

Jennifer scowled but nodded. "You just yell if you need anything." She turned and left the two of them alone.

Carson looked at Woolsey who seemed to be nervous. The Atlantean uniform seemed out of place on the man; Carson was used to seeing him in a suit. "What can I do for you?"

"It's more a case of what needs to be done with you, Doctor Beckett. Colonel Carter didn't have time to deal with the ramifications of you being the real Beckett and the other Beckett being a clone. So that task has fallen to me now that you are out of the stasis chamber and out of danger."

"I didn't realize that I was a problem that needed to be dealt with."

Woolsey played with the collar of his uniform. "Yes, well there is the matter of you being a hostage of Michael for almost two years. You were never properly debriefed. You also need to address the matter of how to handle your family. As far as they know, Carson Beckett was killed in action. They buried him and are none the wiser about the Stargate program."

"What exactly am I supposed to do, Mr. Woolsey? I signed the non-disclosure agreement just as everyone else did. I can't say that I would love to be able to tell my mother and my brothers and sisters that you screwed up, that I am very much alive. But I know that isn't possible. So tell me, Mr. Woolsey, how exactly are you going to 'handle' me?"

Woolsey stood there shifting from one leg to another as if he was contemplating his answer. He straightened out and cleared his throat. "The IOA has decided that you will be shipping back to Earth the moment Doctor Keller clears you. You will be debriefed at the SGC. You have intimate knowledge of the experiments Michael was working on as well as insight to several other things. The…ahem…the clone was never able to make time to address some of these issues. Because you and he have the same knowledge you will be able to tell the people what they want to know. You will not be allowed to have any contact with anyone you know outside of the SGC. Is that clear?"

"Very clear. How long will I be there?"

"As long as the IOA deems necessary. Good day, Doctor Beckett."


His leaving was stalled for a few days because of the crisis with Jennifer. Carson was recruited to help figure it out, his knowledge of Wraith DNA being the best available. He also got a chance to see how Jennifer had figured out his cure. She was even smarter than her CV had suggested. She had obviously taken good care of everyone while he was in captivity and she would continue to do so when he went back to Earth. Carson just needed to rescue her from this Wraith…thing first.

Teyla had been the one to find Jennifer, but Carson hadn't had the time to talk to her. He didn't know if she knew about his impending departure. He wanted to sit down and tell her himself, give her hope that he would return to the Pegasus galaxy. He was not going to let the military or any international institution millions of miles away stop him from being with her. She gave no indication that she knew which surprised him. Sheppard would know about his transfer, anything to do with the SGC involved him as the head of the military contingent here on Atlantis.

Teyla stopped by to see how his progress was going, once with Torren. Her son had his mother's eyes. Carson had a momentary regret that Torren was not his child, but he couldn't think about that for too long. He needed to concentrate on the task at hand, freeing Jennifer. With Radek's help and some insight from others, he was able to get to the bottom of the problem.

With both Jennifer and Ronon in the infirmary, Carson thought that he might be able to extend his stay a few more days but Woolsey wasn't having any of it. They had a near shouting match in the office Carson still thought of as Elizabeth's.

"No, Doctor Beckett, you've solved the problem and saved Doctor Keller, now you need to leave. The IOA wasn't happy that you couldn't leave four days ago."

"Jennifer is in no condition to be running the infirmary at the moment, Mr. Woolsey. I'm needed here, the IOA be damned."

"There are other doctors on the staff that can keep an eye on her. Many of them you've either worked with or vetted to be on your staff. No more excuses, Doctor Beckett. You will be leaving tonight when we have a scheduled dial out to Earth. Do I need to get some Marines to make sure you'll be there?"

"That won't be necessary," he said. "I'll be there."

"Good."

Woolsey went back to some paperwork effectively dismissing him. Carson left, hoping to find Teyla. He wanted to say a proper goodbye to her.


Teyla had just left Torren with John when she saw Carson standing outside of her quarters. She had planned on exercising in the gym, but when she saw him she revised her plans.

"Carson," she said, smiling at him. "I thought that you would be in the infirmary checking on Jennifer and Ronon."

"They're fine for a while. Can we talk?"

"Of course. With your recovery and the recent crisis we have not had a chance to be alone. I was planning on asking you for dinner this evening."

"I would have accepted readily," he said as they went into her room. "I have something I need to tell you, Teyla."

"After so long of denying how we feel, Carson, you should never feel reluctant to tell me anything." She sat on her bed, indicating he should sit beside her.

He sat down, looking down at his hands in his lap. "Mr. Woolsey came to me before the situation with Jennifer. It seems that the IOA thinks I need dealing with. They want answers to questions, about Michael, about things my counterpart was working on, about the Wraith and the Hoffan situation. I'm to leave tonight."

"But you just got back," she said. "I should go to Mr. Woolsey and express my anger." She began to get up, but Carson put a hand on her arm, stopping her.

"I don't think it would matter, love. His hands are tied. I know he'd have the Marines escort me to the gate if he thought I wouldn't go willingly. Believe me when I say I don't want to go. I think you know I'd much rather be here, with you. I had grand plans to woo you, Teyla."

"Woo?"

He laughed, the sound of it warming her heart and sending sparks of desire through her. He took her hands, looking into her eyes. "It means that I would have romanced you, brought you flowers, and taken you to dinner. I wanted to show you how much I love you."

"You do not need to do that, Carson," she said. "I know in my heart how you feel. My people believe that there is only one other for each of us, that when they meet, their hearts and souls are connected. You and I are connected Carson, even if we were too blind to see it. I love you, nothing will ever change that. I am sad that you must go, but I know that you will do so because that is the kind of man you are."

"Aye, I owe it to myself and others to tell the IOA what I know. They may have other scientists who can help with the Hoffan virus or even solve the problem of the Wraith."

She enveloped him in a hug, breathing in his scent. He returned the hug, his strong arms holding her close. Teyla knew that she could bear to be separated from him once more, but she did not have to like the reasons for his leaving. She drew back, caressing his face. She traced the lines, wishing they were not there. She leaned in to kiss him and he kissed her back.

The kiss began soft and gentle, both of them shy and still uncertain with each other. But as they continued to kiss it turned hungry, desperate. Teyla moved closer, almost on Carson's lap. She wanted him, but he seemed reluctant as he pulled back, his eyes wild and his breath ragged.

"Teyla, mo mhùirnìn, I don't think…."

"Do not think, Carson, just feel. I would have this memory to keep when you are gone. Would you not want the same?"

He responded by pushing her back on the bed, kissing her with a passion that he must have hidden well. They rolled and moved further onto the bed. Clothes were removed, arms and legs flailing as they tried to get to each other quickly. Once she was naked, Carson looked at her, as if he were committing the sight of her to his memory. She did the same, taking in his muscles, his scars, hoping that none of the latter had been left by Michael.

"Teyla," he said his voice rough. "I do love you, but…are you protected?"

It took her a moment to get past her haze of lust to realize what he was asking. "Yes, Carson," she said, reaching for him, "I am safe, there will be no child."

"I am not saying I wouldn't like to have children in the future…."

"Carson?"

"Yes?"

"Just make love to me."

He smiled and lowered himself to her. His hands moved over her, followed by his mouth. He loved her with fingers, tongue and lips. She closed her eyes, surrendering to the pleasure he was bringing her. Then she felt him moving so that she was straddling his body. She opened her eyes to see his looking at her. She moved down his body, taking him in. There was a moment of stillness before they began to move together as one. Teyla brought his hands to her breasts, Carson brushing his fingers over her nipples. He touched her all over, his fingers leaving trails of heat on her skin.

"Teyla, with me," he whispered, thrusting up faster.

She cried out, falling into her orgasm. She heard his moans as he moved into her one last time. Collapsing onto him, Teyla held him close. He rolled them to the side, slipping out of her. She looked to him, love filling her heart.

"I love you, Carson."

"Tha gaol agam ort, Teyla," he said, brushing a strand of hair from her face.

"What is that?" she asked. "You have used similar words before."

"It's the language of my ancestors, my home, Scotland. It's called Gaelic, though it's a nearly dead language. A ghra means love; mo mhùirnìn is beloved, which you are to me. What I just said is I love you because I do and I always will, Teyla."

"I do not doubt that. When must you leave?"

"I have some time yet," he said, kissing her as he moved his body over her.


The evening came too quickly for Carson. He had memories of the afternoon to remind him of why he wanted to come back, of why he needed to come back. He didn't have many possessions here so it didn't take long to pack. Rodney had shown up with some clothes so he wouldn't have to ask the SGC for help. Colonel Sheppard had supplied some books. Others had given him more, reminders of them and Atlantis. They all followed him to the gate room. Woolsey was up in the control area standing by Chuck. Carson ignored the man, instead focusing on Teyla who was standing with Torren, waiting for him. She had a hard glare for Sheppard.

"Hey," he said, raising his hands defensively, "I wanted to tell you, but there never seemed to be a right time."

"I will deal with you at another time," she warned. She stepped forward, kissing Carson on the cheek.

"Sorry that you have to go," Rodney said. "I was just getting used to having you back."

"I'll miss you too, Rodney," he said, hugging his friend fiercely before letting him go.

"Could shoot him if you want," Ronon said, nodding towards Woolsey.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Carson said. "Take care of them."

"I will," he said lifting Carson up in a huge bear hug.

"Doc, it won't be the same without you," Sheppard said, offering a hand.

"You'll be careful?"

"Of course."

The wormhole flared to life just then. "Contact with Midway station established. Sending information now," Chuck said.

Carson took Teyla aside. "I will return. No matter what it takes, I will come back to you, Teyla."

"I know, Carson. Think of me often."

"Never fear, love, I'll think of our time together this afternoon every day."

She blushed a little. "As will I. I love you, Carson."

"And I you, Teyla." He wrapped an arm around her, careful of Torren between them, leaning in to kiss her. It was a promise and a statement.

The sound of a throat being cleared echoed across the room. "Doctor Beckett," Woolsey's voice warned.

Carson broke away, glaring at him. "Until I return," he said to Teyla, stepping away, taking his bags in hand. He took a breath and stepped through the gate. He felt a brief tug before he stepped out onto a ramp on the other side. While it was quick, gate travel was still disconcerting to him. He tried not to think of his molecules being disassembled and reassembled again. A young major was waiting at the bottom of the ramp for him.

"Major Caroline Marshall. I'd welcome you to Midway station, Doctor Beckett, but you won't be here long."

"Oh, why is that lass?"

"Seems the IOA is so eager to get you debriefed and questioned they're waiving the forty-eight hour quarantine that's normally in place. If you'll just step down this way so we can dial the gate again."

He moved away from the gate, out of the reach of the erupting wormhole. A few seconds later and the connection was established. "Good luck," the major said before he stepped through again. He stepped out onto the familiar ramp of the SGC. He remembered going the other way, the first trip out to Atlantis and all the hope and fear that had been wrapped up in the undertaking. Now he only had resolve that he would be making the return trip soon. There was a general waiting for him at the end of the ramp, Carson didn't recognize him.

"Welcome to the SGC, Doctor Beckett, I'm General Landry."

"What happened to General O'Neill?"

Landry looked momentarily confused. "That's right, you wouldn't know. O'Neill got promoted to D.C. Now if you'll let the airman take your bags, you need to go through the infirmary before anything else."

"I was under the impression the IOA was eager to get started."

"Oh, they are," Landry said; a hint of mischief in his voice. "But even they can't bypass protocols here on base. Doctor Lam is waiting for you.

Carson was escorted off. He bore the usual tests with as much grace as he could. It helped that Carolyn Lam was friendly. She made him feel like an equal rather than just her patient. After she was done he was escorted down corridors that all looked the same to a room where a plate of food was waiting. Sadly, the cooks here were not the culinary geniuses the one on Atlantis was, probably because they were relying solely on Earth food. Atlantis always had food from their trading partners to supplement what supplies they got from Earth. After he ate, he put away his few clothes, put a picture of Teyla and Torren supplied by Rodney, picked out a copy of Treasure Island Colonel Sheppard had given him and laid on the bed to wait.


"Let me back on the team."

Teyla was standing in John's office, hands on her hips. He glanced up from a pile of paperwork he was ignoring. He also failed to hide the book of puzzles he'd been working on instead. He looked concerned.

"Are you sure? Have you been cleared by Keller?"

"She gave me a clean bill of health yesterday, John. I cannot stay here for much longer or I will go crazy. I have visited Halling and my other friends on New Athos, I need more to do."

"What about Torren?"

"There is no lack of those who are more than willing to watch him. Please, John. Even Mr. Woolsey has agreed that my time in captivity has not compromised me. He said that it was your decision to make."

John seemed to consider her request, but she knew he would say yes. "Okay, we're set to go out to PX9-456 tomorrow; it's an easy renegotiation of trade. They know you."

"Yes, the Barsia, I am friends with their leader. Thank you, John."

"We all miss him, Teyla."

She made a derisive noise. "But you do not love him as I do."

"He'll be back. The IOA can't keep him forever. We do have rules about that kind of thing."

"But you don't know how long that will be. This is why I need to work, John. I've been getting—restless."

"Ack!" John said, putting his hands over his ears. "I don't want to know what you may have done with Beckett before he left! Why don't you find Ronon and go beat up on him or something?"

Laughing she leaned over his desk to remove his hands from his ears. "Why do you not come and spar with me, I am sure your skills with the bantos rods could use some polishing."

"Sorry," he said, moving some of the pile of files from the side of his desk to in front of him. "Paperwork."

"Then I will leave you to it," she said, smiling and intending to find Ronon.


"I can't tell you that," Carson said again, sighing in frustration. "That was my clone." The people on this particular panel wanted him to explain about the Replicator nanites that had apparently taken over Elizabeth. Rodney had told him the story, but Carson didn't know any of the exact details.

"You are aware of the situation that we are referring to?"

"Aye, but only second-hand knowledge that came from a friend. I have no idea of what the nanites did to Doctor Weir, how they got into her system or how they were disabled. All of that happened to the clone, the one who's dead."

"But you and he have the same knowledge."

"Yes, but I can't tell you about the process because I wasn't there. You won't let me have any of his papers to study. If I could have those I might be able to answer your questions or at least give you might interpretations on his results."

"Don't you mean your results?"

Carson threw up his hands. "He was not me! He may have been made from my DNA, my blood, but that doesn't make us the same person. We might be identical on a genetic level, he might have had all my memories, but those are not solely what make a person who they are. He was back on Atlantis doing all of these things while I was in captivity. It's our experiences that make us different people."

"That's something we'll discuss later on, if you could just keep to the matter at hand, Doctor Beckett."

"As I said before, I can't. I refuse to go on with this; it's a pointless exercise until I have raw data to look at." Bloody bureaucrats, they refused to see the difference, or deliberately chose to ignore it, between him and his clone. He scooted his chair away from the table. He couldn't do any more as a couple of Marines stood behind him, preventing his departure.

The men on the other side of the table got up to confer with one another. They'd all introduced themselves at the start, but Carson refused to remember their names. It had been a different panel every morning and afternoon for the past three months. One for his work for Michael, one for the Hoffan virus, one for every little thing he or his clone seemed to have done in the last four years. Carson did little else. He had a break for lunch and the evenings to himself but otherwise he was forced to speculate, defend his and his clones' decisions. It seemed the only difference between this and his captivity with Michael was that here he could leave his cell. The group broke apart and the one Carson had nicknamed Moe spoke.

"We will allow you to look at the files, Doctor Beckett. How long do you think it will take for you to study them?"

"That depends on how many files there are. If the clone was anything like me, the notes are sure to be extremely detailed."

They had another quick conference. "We'll give you three days, Doctor Beckett." Then they stood, gathered all of their papers and began to file out of the room. Carson stood as well, his guards waiting to take him back to his room.

"It looks like class is out early, gentlemen. What do you say to a long lunch?" The younger of the two smiled slightly as they steered him out of the room towards the mess hall. Sometimes they did share a meal with him, Carson was hoping today would be one of those days.

The IOA had insisted that he wasn't a prisoner, but Carson begged to differ. He was escorted everywhere by two Marines, a different pair for the day and evenings. They also changed pairings after a week. Carson guessed that the IOA didn't want him to become too friendly with them. He wasn't allowed outside of his room except for food or meetings and he knew they locked the door at night; he'd heard the click of the lock. It seemed to him that they'd never run out of things to ask him. But he spent his nights thinking of Teyla, replaying their lovemaking in his head, imagining a future with her. So he wasn't going crazy, yet.

He thought often of his family, his mother in particular. She had worried so much about his going off somewhere far away. There had been the large going away party his brothers and sisters had held for him. There had been toasts to his health, ribald stories told of his romantic conquests (none of them true) and his many nieces and nephews running and chasing each other during the night. Then he'd had a private good-bye with his mum. She'd cooked him all of his favorite foods, worried over him as much as he'd worried over her.

He couldn't imagine how she would have reacted when someone from the Air Force came to tell her of his death. Would she have been shocked, cried out, fainted? Carson didn't want to think about it. Rodney had told him of the funeral, of how the church had been filled to capacity. It was good to know that so many people back home had mourned him. His siblings would stay with his mother, comfort her during her grief. Maureen lived the closest, so she would keep an eye on her.

He mourned the fact that he would never get to see them again. He cried in his room, wishing for Teyla to be there to hold him through this. He had known about all of the possibilities when he'd signed the non-disclosure agreements. Coming back from the dead had never entered his mind, though it should have. Carson had been privy to enough files as a doctor that he knew death was not always permanent. In time he resigned himself to his fate. He would think of his friends in Atlantis as his family now, because that is exactly what they were. They were the family of his choosing, not even the damned IOA could take that away from him.

The mess was quiet the next day, just a handful of people there, it was early yet and most of the gate teams were off world at the moment, an unusual event. Carson had met all of the famous SG-1 during his various meals in the mess. In some ways he wished General O'Neill was still here so that he could say a proper apology for the whole drone incident.

Doctor Jackson had expressed interest in talking with him further about his clone and how he was adjusting his experience. Carson knew, everyone knew, about Jackson's propensity for not staying dead. They'd talked about many other things, about the Ancients, the difference between Milky Way alien cultures and Pegasus alien cultures, and most of all, about Atlantis. Carson could see it in Jackson's eyes, the man desperately wanted to revisit the city. Carson reveled in Jackson's delight when he talked about finally getting to go to try and find a weapon that would help defeat the Ori. He hoped that Jackson would get a chance to return and that he would be there when it happened.

Teal'c reminded Carson a little of Ronon, just more expressive, at least as facial expressions went. Getting the Jaffa to say anything seemed to be a challenge to any stranger. Teal'c had offered to teach Carson how to meditate, a high honor from what he gathered, but the Marines weren't sure and once the IOA had found out they'd strictly forbidden him from entering the quarters of anyone else on base. That didn't deter the Jaffa from sharing meals with Carson where they spent much of their time just sitting in silence. It was somehow comforting.

Colonel Mitchell was an outgoing sort, free with unwanted advice. He talked often about some of the team's off world excursions, about his own family. He often offered to bring in things for Carson, which Carson had taken the man up on. He'd asked for books and videos to occupy his free time. Carson wasn't sure how to repay the Colonel, but Mitchell just brushed it off.

Vala just seemed to size him up like a piece of meat before focusing her attentions on Jackson. Carson was glad that Teyla had not been here to see, she would have had Vala for breakfast he was sure. However, the thought of the two women sparring did give Carson fairly vivid dreams for about a week. That was certainly something that he would be keeping to himself.

Sam Carter was the most talkative, the one member of SG-1 with whom he shared most of his meals with, when she was on base. She seemed to want to make-up for any misunderstandings they'd had in the short time they'd shared on Atlantis.

"I'm sorry you have to go through all of this," she said. She'd joined him for lunch on the day after the committee had promised him the files.

"There was nothing you could do about it, Colonel."

"Sam, please, if I can call you Carson."

"Of course. I know you were trying to be careful back on Atlantis, but you made the right choice. If you had stayed I'm sure you would have been made to send me here just as Mr. Woolsey was. This situation is a highly unusual one, even for the SGC."

"Maybe. Look, Carson, I know it's a long shot, but General O'Neill never would have put up with this when he was in charge of the SGC."

"Well, he's not is he?" he said, playing with what the cooks laughingly called meatloaf.

"No, but he does have some pull as head of Homeworld Security, in fact the President owes him a favor."

Carson shook his head. "Thank you, Sam, but I wouldn't want the General to waste a favor on someone insignificant like me."

"I don't know if you know this, but Jack has had some experience with clones. I think he might be sympathetic to what you're going through."

"I know the file," he said. "Sam, I don't want to cause any trouble. I just want to answer the questions and get back to Atlantis."

"Teyla?"

"Yes," Carson said, as he felt his cheeks get red. He wondered how she knew, but he got the impression that Sam was an observer, someone who saw everything. "I'm sure they'll run out of things to interrogate me about."

"I wouldn't count on it," she muttered, playing with the blue Jell-O on her tray. "Do you trust me, Carson?"

"I don't have any reason not to."

"Then I'll make some inquires. Maybe we'll get you back to the Pegasus galaxy sooner than you think."

She got up then and left him to his lunch. He got the files the IOA had promised him, or copies of them, that night. He took his own notes, quite impressed with what his clone had been able to do. He spent the time reading and rereading, living through his clone, finding out some of what had happened to his friends during his captivity. He got so immersed in them that he forgot to eat, one of his guards bringing him a tray. He was ready for anything the IOA would throw at him. He was going to get out of here; he felt it in his bones.

By the third day, he was confident that he'd be able to impress the IOA with his knowledge, maybe bargain for passage back to Atlantis. He went for breakfast, sitting at the table with his food, ready to face the panel of inquiring bastards. Carson didn't notice at first when another person sat across the table from him.

"Doctor Beckett?"

Carson looked up, swallowing. Carson's escort didn't seem to notice, or didn't care that this person had joined him. The younger man smiled at him, making Carson begin to wonder what was going on. He wasn't military, but Carson was sure he'd known all of the civilians attached to the SGC. He was curious now.

"Yes? What can I do for you?"

"I'm Nathan Lawson," the man said, offering his hand. Carson shook it. "I'm with Doctors without Borders."

"And you have clearance to be here?" he said, avoiding any mention of the Stargate.

"Yes, there a few of us with clearance high enough to know about the Stargate program. We've gone off world to help out on planets at war. We've been here since almost the beginning. Even the Goa'uld began to recognize our worth before the end; they let us help the Jaffa. We continue to work on Chulak to help them with the transition from symbiotes to tretonin."

"Well, that's very interesting, but what does your organization want with me?"

"We got word about the problem your, uh…clone was it?" Carson nodded. "The problem he had with the Hoffan virus and about how it was mutated in the war between the Wraith and the Replicators."

"Actually," Carson interrupted, "It was just one Wraith who is responsible for the mutation. I've had dealings with him. He's the one who kidnapped me."

Nathan looked down at some notes he had out on the table. "Ah, yes, Michael. I'm sorry about that. Anyway, since you were the one who helped developed the initial vaccine, as it were, we knew you'd be the perfect candidate. We'd like you to go back, help distribute drugs, maybe work on a cure."

Carson strongly suspected that the 'word' had come from General O'Neill, via Sam Carter. "I'd love to but the IOA might have something to say about that."

Lawson laughed. "You obviously don't know how things work around here. A little bird told him about your predicament and apparently there was a memo written. The President is very big on humanitarian issues. The IOA may have a lot of influence over what happens here and in Atlantis, but that influence only goes so far. I expect that at any minute one of the IOA goons will be coming over to tell you that your presence is no longer required."

Carson snorted, little bird, more like bird colonel. He took a sip of coffee before he answered Nathan Lawson. Before he could say anything there was a commotion at the door. The one he called Moe was there asking a lieutenant something. The officer pointed in Carson's direction and Moe was soon on his way over. Nathan just smiled. Moe stopped at their table, taking something out of his jacket pocket.

"Doctor Beckett," he said, his expression one of distaste, "I have orders here from the President of the United States. You are hereby released from any obligation to the International Oversight Advisory committee." Moe handed Carson the paper and stalked off.

"Told you," Nathan said. "So, what do you say?

It wasn't exactly going back to Atlantis, but Nathan had mentioned finding a cure. That would mean he would have to do research which would require a lab and the best labs were in Atlantis. It was a start. "When can I start?" Nathan just grinned.


Teyla had thrown herself into working. When her team was not off world, she practiced with Ronon or taught others how to handle bantos rods or fight hand to hand. She still made time for Torren, she wanted him to know the ways of his people. He was not an easy child; there was a brief span of time when he would only sleep in her arms when she was walking around the city. It was during these walks that she thought about Carson. If he were here, he would have offered to walk with her, or instead of her. She missed him, the nights being the hardest for her. She dreamt often of what had happened that last afternoon. Carson had been gone for almost three months now.

Rodney had found a picture of Carson that she had put on her bedside table. She talked to it often, as if it were a substitute for Carson. She told the picture of all that was going on in Atlantis. She told him of the missions she went on, how Torren was growing, how she missed him and that eased some of her loneliness. Mr. Woolsey had said she couldn't contact Carson back on Earth. She'd argued with him about it for a long time, but he wouldn't back down. She'd put all her anger towards him and the IOA into sparring with Ronon. Ronon had taken her attacks in stride, never once saying anything to her. Afterwards he would just sit with her in meditation.

Today, the Apollo was due to arrive, loaded with supplies and she had promised that she would be there to help with the distribution of the boxes. There was also a rumor going around that there were new people arriving though no one knew if it were more military or more scientists. Teyla was going to act as the Atlantean liaison if this rumor turned out to be true. It was usually John's job, but she felt that she owed him for being so patient with her. All of her teammates, her family, had been supportive when she needed to talk about Carson, they missed him as well, if not as much as she did.

"Has the Apollo arrived yet?" she asked Chuck when she got to the control room.

"They just started their orbit," he said. "They should begin beaming down supplies and people in a minute or so."

"So the rumor is true?"

"I don't know about that," Chuck shrugged. "I do know the crew will be rotating in and out for R and R. I've got the manifest of what we're expecting," he said, handing it over to her.

"Thank you, Sergeant." Teyla nodded, stepping down to the gate room to coordinate with some of the others waiting for the supplies. The beaming began shortly afterwards, boxes appearing in the middle of the floor. They were soon identified, checked off of the manifest Teyla had and wheeled away to where they needed to be. Teyla greeted crew members as they arrived, directing them towards the mess. John would be there to assign them temporary quarters. So far there didn't seem to be any sign of new personnel for Atlantis.

"This is the last beam down," Chuck said after ten minutes of steady comings and goings.

"Thank you," Teyla said, she checked the manifest, there were no supplies left to be beamed down.

The beam focused and a form started to coalesce. It was a person, probably a stray crew member. Teyla sighed, prepared to direct them to the mess when the beam began to dissipate. The person smiled and Teyla gasped in surprise.

"Carson!"

The beam was gone and he dropped his bags, stepping forward to hug her. She nearly jumped into his arms. She took in his scent, breathing him in like she was starved for air. She pulled back and brought him into a kiss that spoke of her hunger. He pulled her in closer, kissing her deeply.

"Ahem."

They broke apart to see Rodney standing there. "Good to have you back, Carson."

"Good to be back, Rodney."

"Did you know about this, Rodney McKay?" Teyla asked.

"I didn't want to ruin the surprise. Come on, we've got a special welcome back meal going on in John's office."

Carson picked up his bags and followed, Teyla walking next to him. "Don't be angry at him, mo chridhe, I sent him a message, asked him to keep it a secret."

"I am just glad to have you back. How did you convince the IOA to allow your return?"

"It wasn't me," he said. "Let's go eat, I can tell you all about it."

Teyla nodded, planning her own welcome home for later.


Seeing Teyla's smile and being on the receiving end of that kiss had made Carson send out silent thanks to Sam and General O'Neill. He'd have to think of an appropriate gift to send them. Though it had been the President's order that had set him free, it was the two of them who'd been responsible for getting that order sent. Being with Teyla, kissing her, feeling her body next to his had made him half wish he'd not sent the note to Rodney, but there was time yet for a more private reunion. He had time to set up his lab, co-ordinate a schedule for visitation of planets that would need the drugs he'd brought back with him.

As they walked to Colonel Sheppard's office, the city welcomed him with the familiar buzz in his blood. Part of him wanted to be alone with her for a while, to touch the walls, listen to the hum, but he wanted to be with his family more. He vowed that he would never be away from either them or Atlantis for very long ever again. Teyla and Atlantis were a part of him; he needed them in his life. It was an intimate dinner; just him, Teyla, Rodney, Sheppard and Ronon. He told them about his mission for Doctors without Borders, assuring Teyla that he would only be out in the field for a few days at a time. Rodney promised him that there would be a lab for him, all of the equipment he would need ready when he wanted. It was good to be home with his family. He would miss his mother, his brothers and sisters, but to them he was dead. He had come to terms with that while he was back on Earth. Teyla and the others were his family now, he wouldn't need to return to Earth unless he wanted to and at this particular moment, Carson didn't want to go anywhere. The party broke up quietly after a few hours, each of the other men making their excuses, leaving him alone with Teyla. He was sure she had arranged it somehow.

"Rodney didn't say if I had quarters of my own," he said.

"I thought for now you would not object to sharing mine," she said. "We can go there now. I have missed you, Carson." She leaned in to kiss him, more passionately than she had in the gate room.

"Christ, Teyla," he groaned. "I've missed you as well. What about Torren?"

"Ronon went to get him from Radek; he will keep him for the night."

"Let's go," he said. "I have some surprises in my bags for you."

She stood, grabbed his hand, pulled him to his feet and reached for one of his bags. He took the other and she dragged him out of the room towards her quarters. Carson was glad to be home.


He was setting up his lab the next morning when Rodney stopped by.

"Don't you look happy," Rodney said. "I don't want details, but I'm guessing the rest of your welcome home was very good."

"It was, Rodney, it was. I've blocked out two weeks for me to get my lab and experiments up and running before I have to start going out and fulfilling my obligations."

"How does Teyla feel about that?"

"She understands, she knows I feel somewhat to blame for all of this. She made me promise that I wouldn't be gone for more than four days at a time."

Rodney laughed. "On a leash already, Carson?"

"Hardly, Rodney. I don't think I'd want to be away for longer than that myself. I miss the feel of Atlantis, I miss her speaking to me. I miss being with Teyla more. I'm thinking of asking her to marry me."

"That's fast," Rodney said, helping him place a microscope on a counter.

"Not really. Teyla said that according to the Athosians there's only one other out there for a person. She's my one, Rodney. I've loved her for what seems like forever. Being taken from her, being in stasis, being made to leave Atlantis; all of it made me realize that life is short. I want her with me always, I want to have children, a future with her."

"Good for you, Carson. Glad one of geeks can get the hot woman."

"What about you, Rodney? Is there anyone in your life?"

"Maybe," he said. "It might be a bit harder for us to have the happily ever after. How are you going to get the IOA to let you marry Teyla anyway?"

"What I do with my personal life is no longer any of their business," Carson said. "I don't report to them. Whatever life, this galaxy or anyone else has in store for me, I'm prepared for it because I have Teyla in my life."

"You might want think about looking for bigger quarters. Three people squished into that small room is not going to be pretty."

"I've planned a talk with Woolsey about that," Carson said. "So are you going to tell me about this mysterious someone?"

The radio squawked and Rodney moved away to answer it. Carson knew his friend would tell him eventually, but he did have his own assumptions. "Sorry, got to go sort out a fight in one of my labs," Rodney said. "I promise we'll talk about everything later, okay?"

"That's fine, Rodney. I'll be here for you when you're ready."

"It really is good to have you back, Carson."

"Go sort out your problem, we'll find time to talk."

Rodney smiled, pausing to give Carson an awkward hug before leaving. Carson chuckled to himself before continuing to sort out his own lab.


It took much of her resolve not to request to be assigned to Carson or the team that would accompany him. Teyla knew that the men who would protect Carson were well trained. She knew that Carson himself was versed in carrying a weapon. She had even seen him use such a weapon. But there was a part of her that believed if he was not where she could easily reach him something bad would occur. Doctor March, the replacement for Doctor Heightmeyer, has told her this was normal. The circumstances surrounding Carson's return were so highly unbelievable that Teyla's mind was convinced he would be taken from her.

Teyla declined the offer of medication to calm her mind. She did not completely trust the medicines of Earth, even if Carson and Jennifer had used them to save her and everyone else in the city time and time again. She instead turned to the Ancestors, she prayed to them as she did when she carried Torren, as she did when she was a child. She turned to meditation, to the rules and rituals that Charin taught her when she was young.

This helped for a time as did moving her things into a larger room. Mr. Woolsey had approved Carson's request and they spent several days moving. Torren's cradle was one of the first things to move there, it now sat at the foot of the much larger bed that was already occupying the room. They briefly discussed what might happen when Torren got older or when they had more children. They agreed that they would discuss it again when the time came. Carson had to order some things from Earth; they would arrive with the Daedelus in a few weeks. They settled into a routine; until the night before Carson was scheduled to go off world for the first time since his return.

"Do you truly have to go?"

"You know I do, love," he said, holding her as they lay in bed. "I made promises, to myself and to people back on Earth. It's because of those promises I'm here with you now."

"I know in my heart that you must, but I still worry," she said.

"It's only human, a ghra."

"But I am Athosian," she corrected with a smile. It was an argument they'd had many times before.

"Cheeky," he said, "You know what I meant."

"I do," she laughed, kissing him hard. He responded by pressing her into the mattress. "Carson, Torren…."

"Is sleeping quite soundly. I have seven brothers and sisters; I learned where babies came from at an early age. It won't do any harm for Torren to learn that either."

"Carson," Teyla said, sitting up and away from his caresses. "It is not that I have not thought of having a family with you, but Torren is not yet a year old."

"Aye, but it doesn't mean we can't practice, Teyla." He reached for her, his eyes dark with lust but still kind and loving. "I will wait, I waiting long enough to have your love, to have you in my life and in my bed; I can wait for you to decide you're ready to bear my child. I love you, Teyla. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

She had no words for him. She had been so young when her mother had been taken from her. Her father had never openly demonstrated his love for her. Carson loved her as she'd never been loved before. Now she truly knew what Halling had meant. He was the one and only person for her. The Ancestors had blessed her when they brought him back into her life. She blinked the tears from her eyes.

"Teyla," he said, taking her hand. "Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" He pushed a ring onto her finger. She briefly wondered where he'd been hiding it. The ring sparkled bright and green on her hand.

"Yes," she said softly. "Yes," she repeated, looking into his eyes. "Yes," she all but shouted as she flung herself at him, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him. He laughed with joy as he kissed her back. Gently he lowered her to the bed, touching her, teasing her with his hands. "Carson…."

"Let me love you, Teyla."

She closed her eyes as he moved his lips to her neck. He tasted her skin, caressing his tongue along the hollow and towards her shoulder. As he did so he told her the medical term for each part. It should not have been as romantic as it was, but his soft accent caressed the words, causing little shivers along her skin as his breath blew across it. He kissed down her arms, sucking on her fingers. This sent jolts of desire to her core. Carson suckled at her breasts, a far different sensation from nursing Torren. His hands moved to her hips, and she lifted them, urging him to touch her. But he ignored her.

Instead he traced figures on her stomach, tongue dipping into her navel. His hands cupped her buttocks as he spread her legs. She moaned as his breath swept across her. He tasted her, teasing with his mouth. She whimpered as he continued his onslaught. She cried out when he brought her to her peak. She lay there trembling as he moved back up, kissing her.

"You're so lovely, Teyla."

"I would return the favor," she said when she found her voice. She began to reach for him but he pushed her back gently.

"No, I'm not done showing you how much I love you," he said, entering her slowly.

She sighed as she arched up against him. He whispered to her in Gaelic as he moved within her. Teyla replied in Athosian. She would teach him the language of her people one day. For now she clung to him as he brought her pleasure again and again. Her body and mind sang with desire and love as they moved together. His name came to her lips many times before he answered with hers, collapsing onto her. After many moments Carson moved so that he could hold her, entwining his hand with hers both of them looking at the ring he had given to her.

"I do not recognize the stone," she confessed.

"It's an emerald, from Earth. Traditionally, diamonds are supposed to be given, but I've never been a man for tradition. My grandmother's ring was supposed to come to me, she had an emerald. But as I'm officially dead, it will go another of my siblings. Besides, I think green suits you better."

"I would have loved it no matter the stone," she said. "It is the man who gave it that matters." She kissed him again. "You will be safe tomorrow?"

"I promise, Teyla."

She solicited another kiss from him to seal his promise. Teyla added prayers to Carson's God and to the Ancestors. It was the best that she could do to calm her mind and her heart.


Carson was glad for the use of a puddlejumper to go through the gate, especially since he wasn't the person piloting the thing. He'd be gone four days and already he missed Teyla and Torren. He'd had a resounding send off this morning. He tried not to blush thinking about it. Teyla had hidden depths that he was going to enjoy exploring.

Once they were through the gate and landed, Carson went about setting up an infirmary in one of the houses the villagers had provided for him. He couldn't recall the name of the planet, nor its official designation, but he knew that it was one Colonel Sheppard's team had discovered while he was in captivity. It had recently been hit by the modified Hoffan virus that had been deployed by Michael.

Carson reasoned that theirs was a good place to start because he would have a better chance to study the virus. Here he would be able to see incubation period, symptoms and transmission rates in action. From there, he could begin to work on a cure, or a better one than Jennifer had found. He meant no disrespect to her, she had done an admirable job, but her solution didn't cure everyone. Carson was looking to eliminate the virus completely. It was his way to forgiving himself for what had happened on Hoff.

No matter what everyone else said, he still blamed himself for not pressing the matter more with Perna or the magistrate of Hoff. The nightmares of seeing Perna die had long since faded, but the guilt remained. He was seeing Doctor March to help him through the guilt but Carson was still determined to right the wrong he had set in motion. Teyla had tried to assure him again and again he was not at fault, as had Rodney and others, but his stubborn Scottish nature would not let go of the guilt. Once he was set up, he began the hard work.

The team who was accompanying him had other tasks to do, so only one of them was left to guard him just in case. Not that Carson believed he needed guarding. He had a pistol strapped to his thigh, the weight familiar and calming to him. He'd use it if it became necessary, but hoped he could keep it in the holster. The days went by quickly, but Carson found them productive. He would return in a week or so, once he had some results from the blood he'd drawn. Teyla was off world when he came back, but Torren was happy to see him when Carson collected him from Katie Brown.

Life was good for Carson, he had his research, he had Atlantis and his friends, but best of all, he had Teyla. He revisited that world several times, trying his best to help the villagers. He helped them set up a clinic of their own, supplied them with medications and assured them he would check in on them from time to time. Carson wished he could have stayed, but he had obligations to Doctors without Borders to visit other planets that were affected by the plague caused by the Hoffan virus. He relied on intelligence from other teams that went off world to help him find those places.

"How goes the work?" Rodney asked one day. He'd stopped by Carson's lab on his way to the mess.

"Slowly. Medical research is not for adrenaline junkies. It takes time and patience," he replied. "I've learned a lot from the various planets I've been too, but I'm still no closer to wiping out the virus completely."

"I'm sorry, Carson. You know that you don't have to do this, don't you? Jennifer's cure is pretty good. What's the survival rate she had?"

"Fifty percent, which is not bad, but I know it can be better, Rodney. I do have to do this; I have an obligation as a doctor to do this."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "You're still not punishing yourself for Hoff are you? I think everyone here, including that damned replacement for Heightmeyer, has told you that wasn't your fault."

"Aye, I know, but I can't help it, Rodney, I have to do this. Besides, I've already made significant strides towards improvement. I've increased the survival rate to sixty-five percent. And with more data and more time, I think I can make it one hundred percent."

"I'll be rooting for you, Carson. But don't forget that you do have a life outside of this lab."

"Shouldn't I be the one telling you that?" he replied.

"Ha, ha, I will have you know I've got a very good life thank you very much."

"That certain someone you were being cagey about before?"

"Uh, yes. We've…I'm…we're dating. Kind of. It's a little weird. Enough of my love life; have you and Teyla set a date for the wedding? That's practically all the women around here can talk about. It's amazing any work is getting done for all the gossip that's circling."

"No, we've decided to have a long engagement. Teyla wants to go to New Athos to discuss plans with Halling. She wants me to be there too, but it's been hard to arrange time to go with my schedule and hers."

"She wants an Athosian ceremony?"

"I think she wants to combine the traditions of her people with ones from Earth. Something to honor both of our cultures. Shame that I can't go back to Scotland and involve my family."

"You've got us, you know," Rodney reminded him. "We'll stand up for you when the time comes."

"And for that I thank you, Rodney. How would you feel about being best man?"

"I'd love to. I'll…uh, leave you to your research, I've got a lunch date."

Carson tried to say something in return, but Rodney had already left. Carson turned to the reports that had recently come in. There was a planet he was looking at for his next visit. They had not been targeted by Michael yet there were rumors of people there who were suffering from the plague. Carson had always been a sucker for mysteries. He dug out the forms he would need to fill out for Mr. Woolsey and began to plan the mission in his head.


Teyla was surprised when Mr. Woolsey assigned her team to go and check up on Carson. He hadn't exactly said anything about the relationship that had developed between the two of them, but she had the distinct impression he did not approve. Carson was always scheduled to be off world when she was back in Atlantis and when he was home her team was out on a mission. They rarely got a day or more when they were in the same place at the same time. Yet they endured, their love was stronger than that. They had been tested before and survived. Given the IOA's propensity for interference, Teyla believed that Woolsey would not be the leader of Atlantis for very long.

John had also hinted that this mission had the backing of people more powerful than Woolsey. They were dropping off supplies for Carson. His stay on this planet was far longer than normal and she was eager to find out why. He was attending to patients when her team found him.

"Mail call," John teased.

Carson turned from his patient with a smile. "Colonel! What are you all doing here?" He finished his task and then approached them. Teyla stepped forward to kiss him. He enveloped her, his warmth surrounding her. "I've missed you love," he whispered to her.

"And I you," she replied stepping back.

John cleared his throat, Teyla just glared at him. "Well, we heard you needed supplies, so we thought we'd come by and see how you were doing".

"It is good to see you and have the supplies," he replied as Ronon approached and began a mock fist fight.

Teyla smiled to see her friends getting along so well with the man she loved. She turned to see if Rodney had caught up with them. He was approaching slowly with the last of the bags. He was not happy when he entered the tent.

"A hop, skip, and a jump from the gate? That's what you call that?"

"Nice to see you too, Rodney," Carson said with a smile.

"How are you, Carson?"She asked.

"Well, Teyla. I'm getting a lot done. I take it these are the antibiotics I ordered?" He took a yellow case from her.

John nodded. "Doctor Keller gave you a whole whack of them. So they should last for a while."

"Ah, God. I wish that were true, Colonel."

"What does that mean?" asked Ronon.

"Well, I've been dealing with a number of infections from the Hoffan plague survivors. I can barely keep on top of it. Some of the other planets I've gone to already had many of these infections taken care of or they were non-existent thanks to the state of the medical care the inhabitants had. Trying to deal with them has meant I've not had the time to do any of the things I'd had planned. That's why my stay here is taking longer than I'd anticipated."

"Survivors of the Hoffan plague? Here?" Rodney sounded surprised.

"This is not one of the planets that Michael targeted," Teyla said.

Carson began to put away some of the supplies as he spoke. "No, that's one of the reasons I came here, because there were rumors of people suffering from the plague. It seems that many of these people actually come from another planet, Balar. They managed to survive the plague and just when they started getting the pieces back together, the Wraith showed up; tried to wipe them out."

John nodded. "We heard rumors about that."

"Well, the Wraith aren't too pleased to have whole populations out there that are immune to their feeding," Rodney said.

"Just a handful of the Balarans survived. The locals were kind enough to take them in," Carson said. "But they don't have the kind of medical facilities to deal with all the other problems that are associated with a plague. They were quite enthusiastic to see me and find out I could help. That's why I needed the extra supplies."

A young woman entered the tent carrying an armload of bandages. She regarded the team before addressing Carson.

"Doctor?"

"Novo! These are my friends from Atlantis. Colonel Sheppard, Teyla, Ronon, and Doctor Rodney McKay. This is Novo. She's been helping me here in the clinic."

Everyone nodded and smiled at her. John spoke for them. "Pleasure to meet you."

"You as well. I've heard a lot about you." She turned to Carson, pointing at Rodney. "Is he the one?"

"The one what?" Rodney demanded.

"From all the funny stories," she said, turning to Carson.

Teyla suppressed a laugh. She could see that John and Ronon were doing the same while Rodney's previous happy expression began to fall. Carson struggled to explain which made the laughter harder to contain.

"Right! Yes, well, I hope you all can stay here for dinner. I mean, uh, the canteen's not fancy, but they do serve up one heck of a stew, made from a goat-like creature. Delicious!"

"Goat-like?" Rodney deadpanned.

"I think it's a great idea," John said. "Gives us a chance to catch up and relive all those…funny stories."

Carson just nodded and led them out of the tent. Teyla was soon in step with him, their hands meeting. It felt good to be with him again, if only for the short time of the mission. Perhaps during dinner they could discuss having some time alone. She knew from his messages that he had a house all to himself.

Rodney interrupted the short walk with a question. "So…how's life in the wilds of Pegasus?"

"I know it seems a wee bit rough, but it's not. Really. I mean, wherever I go, people are kind to me. I never want for a meal or a place to sleep. And to be honest with you, I'm really starting to feel like I'm making a difference."

"That is good, Carson," she said.

Further conversation was stopped when the sound of a woman screaming came from afar. John and Ronon raced towards the sound, Teyla led Rodney and Carson into hiding amongst the buildings. She had her weapon at the ready. Soon Ronon and John returned, pushing them further into hiding. She heard sound of approaching footsteps, followed by the shouts of the villagers.

"What is it?" Rodney asked in a low whisper.

John's answer sent a shiver through her. "Wraith," he said.

They all managed to see the small patrol marching right into the heart of the village. "This is no ordinary attack," Teyla said.

"How so, love?" Carson asked.

"I did not hear darts in the air; the Wraith must have come through the Stargate. Also they do not appear to be attacking and feeding on the villagers." She nodded to the group of Wraith who passed by them, ignoring the panicked inhabitants of the planet. They listened in as the Wraith in charge talked with the leader of the village. They were looking for the Balarans.

"Do they know?" John asked Carson, his voice low but harsh. "The Balarans, do they know the full extent of the plague?"

Carson shook his head. "I was too busy treating them to explain that they were now unpleasant to the Wraith. I didn't know that they were being pursued."

"The Wraith have a vested interest in getting rid of anyone they can't eat," Rodney said. "If all of the survivors of the Hoffan plague live long enough to have children…."

"They could pass the immunity on and eventually the Wraith wouldn't have any food left in the Pegasus galaxy," Carson finished. "This is not what I intended to happen when I started helping the Hoffans."

"We know, Carson, but you cannot think of that now," Teyla said. She moved to take his hand, look into his eyes. "Now we must find a way to help both the people of this village and the Balarans." Carson nodded.

"Teyla, you and Ronon go check out the situation at the gate, find out how many Wraith are guarding it," John said. "I'll go see if I can talk to the villagers, maybe we can get them to agree to evacuate to Atlantis. McKay, you go with Beckett, help figure out what we'd need to get those sick people out of here." Then he checked the perimeter, the Wraith had gone for now, so he went off.

"Keep in contact," she said, squeezing Carson's hand.

"I will, be careful," he answered.

They separated and Teyla kept a corner of her mind on Carson and his dilemma. She knew there would be much to talk about when he returned to Atlantis, to their bed.


Being captured by the Wraith had not been on his list of things to do today, Carson thought as he came to in the hive cell, Rodney was there with him. Then again none of what had happened so far today had been on his to do list. When Colonel Sheppard had arrived and he'd seen Teyla, he had hoped to spend some time with her. Instead he was trying to save the Balarans from extinction, facing down a man with a gun and now he was a prisoner of the Wraith. When the young man had betrayed them to the Wraith, Carson felt his heart sink even further. The consequences of what he and Perna had done to try and stave off the attacks of the Wraith were more than he could handle. He should have seen this, should have thought more about it before agreeing to help, but at the time the thought of a drug that would stop the Wraith had been appealing. Carson had let slip years of study in medical ethics all because he didn't want to see another person fed upon. He'd convinced himself that what he'd done on Hoff and his own research into removing the Iratus portion of the Wraith's DNA was for the greater good. Now he was paying for that arrogance.

Rodney stirred. "Oh God, is it me, or have they juiced up the stun weapons? Oh, and they brought us to the hive. That's great."

"Actually, it's quite familiar to me. Sadly, I never figured out a way to get out of these things."

"Don't worry, I have got lots of experience escaping from these things." Rodney groaned as he stood and joined Carson at the door to the cell.

"You do?" Carson said, eyebrow raised in doubt.

Rodney just straightened up, trying to exude confidence. "Oh, yeah. Yeah. I've been in this situation dozens of times. Always figured a way out."

"How exactly?"

"Uh, let's see, uh…last time, uh, Teyla was posing as a queen, so, um…you know, she…had us released."

Carson nodded, remembering the arguments he'd had with Teyla about that. It was not something he wanted to think too much about. Seeing the woman he loved transformed into the enemy he despised was something he wished to not think about. He'd been so against it that Jennifer had had to do the operation. Carson had spent several nights sleeping in his office because Teyla refused to let him in their bed. Afterwards he did admit that he admired and loved her more for having done it. "Not much chance of that happening," he said.

"No, I guess not," Rodney said dejectedly.

"How about the time before that?" Carson asked.

"Ronon's friend Tyre was pretending to be in league with the Wraith, but really he was on our side, so…he let us out."

"I'm starting to sense a pattern here. You've actually never really escaped from one of these cells on your own, have you?"

"First time for everything, right?" Rodney said sheepishly.

" Rodney," Carson huffed.

"Well, just…give me a minute. I'll think of something."

Rodney began to pace the small room, Carson sighed and looked out into the hall. He saw a small patrol of Wraith appear from around the corner.

"I hate to pressure you, Rodney, but I don't think we have a minute."

The Wraith were at the door. It opened before them, the one who was in charge pointed at Rodney and Carson. "Bring them."

They were dragged from the cell before Carson had time to register the creature's words.


Teyla kept alert as she guarded the villagers and Balarans in the mine. She was trying not to allow herself to think of Carson and Rodney in the hive ship. She loved Carson dearly, but after what he had done earlier, she was not sure she could face him with a calm attitude. Seeing him put himself between Jervis' gun and the sick Balarans had caused her heart to leap into her throat. She had called his name, but he had not backed down. There had not been time to talk when Jervis had laid his weapon down, but she had given him a look. He had avoided her gaze, but said nothing. There was sure to be a fight when this situation was resolved.

When John had revealed that Rodney and Carson had been captured by the Wraith, she put aside her anger to allow fear and worry to consume her. Ronon, the Ancestors bless him, had put a steadying hand on her shoulder to assure her that everything would be all right. She took a deep breath and cleared all emotions from her mind. The fear and worry were tucked away, the anger simmering but she focused on helping the people. Her focus was sharpened when Rodney was able to contact them. She was not able to speak to Carson herself, but hearing his voice in the background was good enough to allay her fears.

The rest of the mission went by in a blur, from the demolition of the mine to the sound of Wraith darts. She sent silent prayers to whoever might be listening as she, Ronon and John, along with some of the villagers, fought of the Wraith at the gate. She quickly dialed Atlantis when she was able, keeping one eye on the villagers, the other looking for signs of Rodney and Carson. When they appeared from one of the Wraith beams she fought the urge to hug them both, instead laying down cover fire as they ran for the gate. Once through she was still on alert until John and Ronon fell through and the wormhole closed.

"Is everyone okay?" John asked as he picked himself up from the floor, looking over each of them.

"I am unharmed," she said, lowering her weapon.

"I'm good," Ronon answered.

"Us too," said Rodney.

"Aye," Carson replied.

Mr. Woolsey came down from the control area. "I hope that you have an explanation for our visitors," he said. The villagers and Balarans were mingling in the gate room, confused but alive. Med teams were already on hand to check them all out. Woolsey gestured for them all to make their way to the conference room. Teyla knew that her confrontation with Carson would have to wait.


After the debriefing, Carson excused himself to go and check on his patients who had been sent straight to the infirmary. Teyla had made her way to the mess hall. Perhaps a meal would lessen her anger. It did not. When she returned to their room, Carson was waiting for her, sitting on the bed, his head held high, his expression neutral and his hands folded in his lap.

"I've sent Torren off with Doctor Parrish. I didn't think he should see his parents fighting."

Carson was the only father Torren knew, to hear him say it made Teyla's heart someone lighter.
"Thank you. Carson, what were you thinking?" she asked this calmly, her voice only slightly raised. "Jervis could have killed you."

"But he didn't."

"That is not the point!" This she yelled. "You promised me that you would be safe. By putting yourself in front of his gun, by placing yourself in that position, you broke your promise."

"Then maybe you shouldn't hear about what I did on the hive ship."

"Carson," her voice was hard and dangerous.

He took a breath, closing his eyes as he spoke. "I let the Wraith commander feed on me."

She was at his side immediately, his face in her hands, her eyes searching for any changes. "I do not see any evidence of that."

"Aye, you don't, because I have the Hoffan virus. He died, very painfully. I stood there and watched as he took his last breath." She could see the pain in his eyes; he was remembering the events that happened on Hoff when they first tested the virus. "I did it to prevent them from further developing a way to detect the virus in humans and it was the only way to get Rodney and myself off of the ship. And I did what I did in the village because I took an oath when I became a doctor, Teyla. It is one of the first things doctors learn in medical school. First, do no harm. With everything that has happened, I wasn't going to forget that."

"Oh, Carson," she kissed him gently, still cradling his face in her hands. "You would never harm another; it is not in your nature to do so. Unless there is a threat to your patients or those you love," she clarified. "With all of the work you have been doing to improve the cure, do you not see that you have redeemed yourself for any wrongs that you think you may have caused. You said it yourself in the village, you are doing good."

"It's not enough, love," he said. "Many are dying from other infections, like the Balarans. But I did get an insight into how I can stop those while I was on the hive ship. I've not been affected by any of the infections. While I instituted a strict quarantine, I still didn't get sick. I think that whatever Michael did to the virus that caused my deterioration has protected me against the secondary infections."

"Then you can cure those infections and that will help you in finding a cure for the virus?"

"Maybe. It certainly will make my job a lot easier. I can concentrate on gathering samples rather than treating infections. Since it will take a while to find a suitable planet where we can relocate the villagers and the remaining Balarans, I'll be staying here on Atlantis. I'll want to visit them once they're settled, but for now I have research I need to do. I thought you might like that bit of news."

"I do," she said, pushing him back against the mattress. "Mr. Woolsey said that we are not going to be scheduled for a mission for at least a week. The Ancestors have smiled on us. When will Doctor Parrish return with Torren?"

"I told him to keep the lad for the night."

"Good," she grinned, leaning down to kiss him.


For the rest of the week, whenever he wasn't in the lab, Carson was with Teyla, most of that time in their bed. Torren spent a lot of time with his uncles and various other members of Atlantis. Carson was glad her team had been assigned a mission; he was ready to plead exhaustion. He didn't mind in the least that he was getting sex on a regular basis, but his body was beginning to remind him he was no longer a young man. It did his heart and soul good to spend the time with Teyla and Torren. Though the boy was no relation to him by blood, Carson already thought of him as his son. If he had any status back on Earth, he'd find a way to make it legal. Those thoughts turned into ones of marriage. He and Teyla hadn't discussed a date; they hadn't discussed much of anything marriage related since his proposal and her acceptance. That night, as he watched her brush her hair, Carson decided he should broach the subject that evening.

"Teyla, love."

"Yes, Carson."

"With everything that's been going on, with us not being on Atlantis at the same time, we've not had much opportunity to discuss wedding plans."

She turned from the mirror, setting her brush down. She looked even more lovely than usual, he thought. "No, we have not. I would like it very much if you could tell me about the customs that the people of Earth follow."

"There are so many," he said. He patted the bed. "Come, relax and I'll tell you. Customs vary from country to country and religion to religion. One of the few things they have in common is getting married in a church."

"A church?" she said, coming over to lie next to him. "I have heard others speak of such a place, but I do not know what it is."

"It's a holy place, a building where people worship and pray to their deity of choice. There are many names for such places, but in my custom, it would be a church."

Teyla nodded. "We have holy places of our own. On Athos, the first one, the ruins were considered sacred. Couples were joined at the edges of the ruins or near the ring of the Ancestors, the Stargate."

"Do you have holy places on New Athos?"

"Not yet, but I believe that there will be in time. All of the joinings have taken place at the gate since my people were moved to that planet by the Ancestors. I am sorry that we cannot get married in a place that is holy to you, Carson."

"My village had a lovely little church, Father Brennan ran it. My family has gone there for as long as anyone can remember. There was even a Beckett that served as its priest. But as long as you are there, the place doesn't matter all too much." He took her hand and kissed it. "You had said that you wanted to use both Athosian and Earth customs. You called your ceremony a joining."

"Yes, those who wish to spend their lives together are joined by the leader of the village. We do not have anyone who is like those who you call priests. We all worship the Ancestors in our own way. There are certain ceremonies all Athosians celebrate but we do not believe in dictating how an individual connects with the Ancestors."

"Then you've got a better way of doing than many on Earth do," Carson commented. "Is there much to the joining?"

"No, it is a simple ceremony. Thanks are given for the couple finding one another. Prayers for their happiness and for children are offered. There is a blessing, the couple promise to care for each other and any children of the union and then there is sometimes a feast if one of the couple is of a well-known family."

Carson pulled her close to him. "That sounds very similar to many of our ceremonies on Earth. Many countries have an added twist; the couple signs a piece of paper that states they are legally wed."

"Why would they do something like that? Is their word to honor one another and care for each other not enough?"

"Apparently not," he laughed. "But it does ensure certain rights. It means that should they decide they no longer want to be a couple, the things they have accumulated as a couple are equally divided and if there are children, that those children are taken care of and provided for. It also ensures that if one of the pair dies, the other is entitled to all of their worldly goods. I would honor you in this way if I could, Teyla. I would also make it so Torren was recognized as my son, its called adoption. I want you and Torren to be safe."

She lifted a hand to stroke it against his cheek. "Nothing is going to happen to you, Carson. Why can you not do this thing? The Athosians often take in children that are orphaned because of cullings, not just amongst our own people but from other worlds as well. I see that Torren loves you, I am honored that you think of him as your own."

"I have no official status on Earth. According to the records, Doctor Carson Beckett died over a year ago. "

"Then how is it that you are working with….?"

"Doctors without Borders," he supplied. "I suspect it was all General O'Neill's doing, but it is a good question. I am getting paid for my work but I know it isn't coming from them. I should find out more. I would like to make our relationship as official as I can."

"It is a sweet idea, Carson. I am honored and humbled that you would want this for me and Torren and for any children that we would have together. Are there any other customs that I should know of?"

"Just one, traditionally the woman would take the last name of the man that she marries. Though recently some women do not, they chose to keep their maiden names. I don't care if you want to become Teyla Beckett or not." He chuckled a little. "Actually, saying it aloud, Teyla Beckett doesn't suit you. You should stay Teyla Emmagan."

"You could take my name," she offered. "Many times Athosian men will take the names of their wives to keep a family name from dying out. Emmagan was my mother's family name."

"Carson Emmagan," he said. "Doctor Emmagan. I don't know, love. It doesn't sound as bad as Teyla Beckett, but I'm unsure."

"Perhaps we can decide another time. We have not decided much tonight."

"I'd like to be joined with you in the Athosian tradition, no matter what I find out from Earth," he said. "The Pegasus galaxy is my home now. We could be joined by the gate on New Athos. I'm assuming that Halling would perform the ceremony?"

"He would," she answered. "He would be honored to do so. There would be a feast as I am the daughter of a leader and a leader in my own right. Ours would be a very blessed ceremony for our souls were meant to be together."

"Aye, I do believe they were. We'd have to have Colonel Sheppard, Ronon and Rodney there. Especially Rodney as he's agreed to be my best man already."

"I would want them to be there, they are my family as much as you and Torren are."

Carson lay there thinking. Teyla curled up against him, her warmth seeping into him. He could hear the soft snuffling of Torren in his crib. After a while, he spoke softly, in case Teyla had fallen asleep. "Teyla?"

"I am still awake."

"Are there certain times of the year that mean more to the Athosians than others? On Earth there are certain times and days that people consider lucky to be married on."

"The harvest festival is always considered a blessed time for a joining. It is said that if a couple who is joined at the festival conceives a child, that child will never go hungry. There is also a celebration similar to your New Year and one at planting that are also considered good times for joining."

"Are we getting close to any of those?"

"The harvest festival will be celebrated in two months. I think Halling would be overjoyed if he could join us at that time."

"The harvest festival it is then. We'll have a lot to do in two months."

"I have faith that we will get it accomplished, especially once we tell our friends. I am sure they will be eager to help out in any way that they can."

"Aye, I'm sure."

"You should sleep now, Carson. I am leaving on a mission in the morning and you will be able to attend to your research again."

He smiled and kissed her. "Goodnight, Teyla, mo mhùirnìn."

"Goodnight, Carson."


Carson sent Nathan Lawson an e-mail to find the answers to the questions Teyla had brought up. His pay had to be coming from somewhere. When he took a break from lunch he was surprised to find an answer.

Carson,

It's a little complicated, but the "little bird" who was able to obtain your release from the IOA had a hand in getting everything squared away. Doctor Carson Beckett is alive and well. Now for security reasons your history has been changed so that you can't be linked to the "Carson Beckett" who died. You are now a naturalized citizen of the United States. You've been living in Colorado for the past twelve years, with a small practice in Colorado Springs. You're currently listed as a medical consultant for NORAD, which you know is one of the covers for Stargate Command. This is where your pay is coming from and you also receive all the benefits that come with that position.

I'm attaching a detailed history for your new identity. This also means that you can't be seen anywhere that is affiliated with the other "Carson Beckett". I'm sure you can figure out some of the places you can't return to but I'm obligated to include a list, CYA you know. I've also sent copies of some of the forms that come with getting married, congratulations by the way, and adopting a child. You don't want to know how many strings were pulled and favors cashed in to get that to happen.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send another message.

All the best,

Nathan.

Carson blinked, surprised. He opened the attached documents, scanning them quickly. According to his new history he'd received his doctorate at John Hopkins after attending the University of Aberdeen. He'd stayed in the States, became a citizen and moved to Colorado after a visit from certain interested parties of the American military. It was all quite similar to his real history. Carson had actually done all his studies at the University of Edinburgh but it was one of his papers on gene therapy and genetic traits that had caught the eye of the SGC. Someone had come out to Scotland and lured him to Colorado. That had lead to his study of the ATA gene and the development of the synthetic gene.

The list of places he couldn't visit included his home village, Edinburgh and a few others. He was still allowed in Colorado, his work was still of interest to the military. Carson was glad that he would be able to visit Scotland. He wasn't sure if he could have coped with never seeing her green hills ever again. Though he'd long past resigned himself to never seeing his family, deep in his soul he ached for the land of his birth. The forms that Nathan had supplied were easy to fill out. The generosity of his benefactor overwhelmed Carson. There was a second message that had come in over a secure line. Carson clicked it open.

At the bottom was a link to the account that Nathan had set up for his new identity. Carson used the password Nathan had sent along to see what General O'Neill had done for him. When the page finally loaded he nearly fell off of his stool in surprise. Now he was by no means rich, but he was more than comfortable. Carson couldn't even begin to think where or how the General had managed to obtain those funds. He'd certainly be able to provide for Teyla, Torren and any future children. He clicked to print the forms. He might have told Rodney that it didn't matter what anyone on Earth would have to say about him marrying Teyla, but knowing that there were people who did care and who would go to so such lengths to allow him to do so meant more to Carson than he'd ever thought possible.

As the printer spit out the pages, Carson set about spending some of his newly acquired funds. He was going to treat Teyla like a queen and spoil Torren rotten. It would take a while for any of it to arrive in Atlantis, unless he could get it sent through the gate, but it would be worth it.


Two weeks later, with the arrival of the Daedelus, the packages were sent up to their room. Teyla came back from a mission to find that the floor was covered in brown paper and a strange plastic wrap that Torren was playing with. Her son was pressing the wrap which emitted popping sounds as he did so.

"Bubble wrap," Carson said from the other side of the room. He was sitting amongst an assortment of plastic parts and things with wheels that looked nothing like the 'cars' John talked of often. "Every child should experience it."

"What is all of this?" she asked, pointing to the empty boxes that covered the floor.

"Things I ordered. There are some for you on the bed."

"And what are you building?"

"This is a train set, for Torren."

She smiled, going over to the bed. "You do not have to give us gifts, Carson."

"I want to," he said. "Every young boy needs a train set. Go on, open yours."

The packages were wrapped in brightly colored paper of red and blue. She tore through them which made Torren giggle as the paper drifted to the floor. There were dresses of the most beautiful colors and softest fabrics she had ever seen. Even after four years living amongst the Atlanteans she continued to marvel at the range of colors and qualities of the fabrics that came from their home planet. She reached for the last one, but Carson held up a hand.

"Not yet, that's something that I was hoping you would wear for our joining. In many Earth customs the bride wears a special dress. It's considered bad luck for the groom to see her in it before the wedding."

"You did not see it when you ordered it?"

"No, I relied on the advice of Jennifer, Marie and Samantha Carter. They assure me that you will look beautiful and that it will fit."

"Then you found the answers to your questions," she said.

"Aye, I didn't tell you because I wanted it all to be a surprise. I also hope that you don't mind, but I got us rings."

Teyla frowned. "I do not understand, I already wear a ring that you gave me." She pulled the emerald out from under her shirt. She wore it on a chain when she went off world, to keep it safe.

"It's another Earth custom, one that we don't have to follow if you don't want to. The couples exchange rings as a sign of their commitment to one another."

"You have done so much to honor the customs of my people, Carson, I would do the same for you. I will wear such a ring to honor you and your ways. Athosian families often trade goods when a couple gets married to strengthen ties."

"That happened on Earth in our past. It still does in some parts. Should I have something to give to Halling?" he asked, his smile turning to worry. "I can order something if I need to."

She laughed, which made Torren laugh with her. "No, it is I who should be gifting you with something as I was the leader of my people. She put the dressed back in their boxes. There was another box that did not have its lid on properly. She moved the lid aside to see what the box contained. It was another garment. The fabric was rough and heavy, the pattern one of squares and lines, the colors a dark blue, red and green. It somewhat resembled a skirt, but Teyla could not imagine why a person would make that particular garment out of a fabric such as this. She held it up, trying to imagine why Carson would have bought her such a thing. "Is this mine also?"

Carson looked up and nearly tripped as he tried to get up from the floor. "No…uh…it's mine."

She looked from the garment to Carson, bursting into fresh laughter at the thought of him wearing it. He snatched it from her hands.

"It's a kilt, a traditional Scottish garment. It's said that our warriors would wear them into battle to scare our enemies. The color and pattern of the kilt were originally determined by where a man was from, but they eventually became associated with clans or families."

"And this," she said calmly after finally getting her laughter under control. "Is the pattern for your family?"

"Alas, no. The Beckett's were never a large enough clan to claim their own tartan, or pattern. This is from the region where I was born and raised."

"I'm sure you will look…handsome in it," she said, trying not to laugh again.

"You won't be laughing when the ceremony is over," he said. "Traditionally there is nothing that comes between a Scotsman and his kilt."

Teyla's eyes went wide before she pulled Carson closer. "You have always insisted that you are not a man for tradition."

"In this instance, I am."

"Then I am very much looking forward to the day of our joining."

"As am I, Teyla."

She kissed him, his arms wrapping around her and lifting her from the floor. It would have gone further if not for the voice of her son calling out.

"Kiss! Mama kiss."

She pulled away from Carson and he lowered her, letting her go and going to collect Torren from his spot on the floor. Torren smiled and giggled when Carson picked him up, pressing his lips to her lover's face. "Dada kiss."

Seeing Carson's face light up at her son's words brought immense joy to Teyla. No matter what, she would remember this moment for the rest of her days. Carson brought Torren over to her, passing him into her arms. Torren gave her a kiss as well before reaching again for Carson. Teyla went to pass her son back but Torren was not pleased.

"No! Dada kiss. Mama kiss."

"Lad knows what he wants," Carson said, smiling as he stepped closer, pressing Torren between them.

"He has always been that way. I suspect that if we do not comply he will become most upset."

"Then I guess we should kiss."

He leaned in, careful of Torren, and kissed her. The delighted giggles of her son rang in her ears and remained with her for the rest of the day.


The next month was spent in a flurry of preparations. Halling sent word that the harvest was an exceptionally bountiful one and that the joining feast would be more than fitting for a woman of Teyla's standing. Carson sent the papers back to Earth and within a week got a response; Torren was legally his son and once the final signature was in place he would be legally wed to Teyla, at least in the eyes of the United States government. Richard Woolsey gave them this news in his office.

"I'd like to offer my services to you both," he said as he handed over Torren's adoption papers.

"I beg your pardon?" Carson said, momentarily surprised.

"I know that you plan to have a ceremony on New Athos, but I think it would be a—what I mean to say is that since the two of you fell in love on Atlantis, it only seems fitting that you should have a ceremony here too. As commander of the city, I have the authority to perform that ceremony."

They were both stunned. Woolsey had thawed somewhat when it came to their relationship, but he'd never outright said that he approved. To hear this kind of sentimentality from him was confusing to say the least.

Teyla broke the silence. "How is that you have this authority?"

"Well, I was briefly a judge back on Earth, I married many couples. And, well, on Earth, ship's captains can marry couples. Atlantis can fly, so technically she is a spaceship. I would be honored if you allowed me to marry you. I'm sorry that I was so harsh in the beginning. Trying to assert one's authority can sometimes lead to a person forgetting that a city is run by people."

Carson just turned to Teyla. He didn't care one whit how it was done as long as it was done. She bowed her head slowly. "We would be honored if you performed the ceremony that would join us in the traditions of Earth."

"Thank you," he said. "I was thinking in front of the gate, to honor the Athosian way. Plus there really isn't any room big enough to hold the entire population of Atlantis as witnesses."

"We'll leave you to make the arrangements, just tell us when and where," Carson said.

Woolsey nodded, the two men shook hands and the couple left to continue with the rest of their planning.


"So, I hear that Woolsey is going to marry you in the gate room."

Teyla turned as she finished putting away her bantos rods. John stood in the doorway of the gym, she gestured for him to come in. "He did, it was a most generous offer."

"Why'd he do it?" he asked, the door sliding closed as he waked in.

"I think that he is trying to atone for the way he had to treat Carson after his release from the stasis chamber. He has a good heart, John; he just does not show it to many."

"If you say so," John said. "Personally I think he would have been ostracized if the people here didn't get a celebration."

"Was there another purpose to your visit?" she asked, sitting on the bench in front of the window.

"Yeah, see, there's this thing on Earth…."

"Another one of your traditions?" she said, she was tired of hearing about them. "Why do your people have so many?"

"Hey, I don't knock yours, and trust me; there are some here in Pegasus that are doozies."

Teyla sighed. "I apologize, what is this tradition you speak of?"

"Well, usually, when a couple gets married in a church, there's an aisle between the two sections of seats. It's tradition for a woman's father, or closest male relative, to walk her down it. Some women chose to go alone."

"You would wish to do this?"

John ducked his head, rubbing his hand along the back of his neck. He did not show many emotions, this gesture meant that this tradition meant a lot to him. "Teyla, it's—yeah I would. I know that you don't have a lot of family, blood family that is."

"You, Rodney, Ronon and Carson are my family. I considered Elizabeth as my family as well."

"Thanks," he said, his cheeks coloring. "I would like to do this. Rodney's already got best man duties for Carson and Ronon said he was going hunting with some of the Athosians to capture something for the feast. I figured the least I could do was give you away."

Teyla's eyebrows flew up, her eyes wide and her stare hard. "Give me away?" She stood from her perch. "Am I a piece of property to be bartered for food?

"Um…hold on there, Teyla," he backed away from her, hands up, face pale. "It's just an expression. It doesn't mean anything."

"There are many of your Earth expressions that I do not understand, John Sheppard, but this is not one of them. Do you think that I am something to be passed from one man to another? Do you think of me as chattel?"

"No! God, Teyla, no! I'm your friend. I love you like a sister. I'm…I'm…," he struggled for words as she continued to move forward, backing him towards the wall. "Think of it as a protective brother giving the duties of protecting you to your future husband."

"Even if I am perfectly capable of protecting myself?"

"Good point. Um….I'm…fuck, Teyla, look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I just want to be a part of your wedding. I never really thought of the real meaning behind the expression, okay. You're not property or chattel or anything like that. You're family, my family and I'd love it if you let me walk you down the aisle."

She debated letting him stand there against the wall for many minutes before answering, but she was honored and touched that he would open up to her like that. "I would gladly let you walk me down the aisle, John. Both here in Atlantis and on New Athos."

"Thanks," he said, slumping. "Forgive me?"

"I would not have said yes if you were not forgiven."

He took a step forward and leaned down, his head bowing forward. She mirrored his actions, touching her head to his. Then she brought him down into a hug. He awkwardly put his arms around her.

"I'm just glad you'd already put the rods away," he joked.

"I can do far more damage with my bare hands," she whispered into his ear before letting him go. He stared at her and she laughed as she walked out of the room.


The day of their ceremony on Atlantis arrived all too soon. Teyla would leave later that night to spend the day before the other ceremony on New Athos. She was taking Torren with her so that he could spend some time with Kanaan's family. Carson was wondering what kind of bachelor party Rodney was dreaming up, he didn't fancy showing up on New Athos with a hangover.

"I did not think of what I was going to wear," she said. "I have already sent the dress that you purchased to Halling. I am glad that Ronon took Torren, I do not think I could handle him being under foot as well at this moment."

Carson put a calming hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry about it, a ghra. It might seem a bit mixed up or backwards, but I asked Halling if there was a traditional Athosian garment that was worn for joinings. He sent something over; he said you would know what it was." He moved to the closet, taking a box from it and handing it to her.

She opened it slowly, trying to think of what Halling could have sent. She took a breath when she saw what lay there.

"What is it, Teyla?"

She picked it up gently, holding it close to her body, breathing in a scent she remembered only in the corners of her mind. She turned to show it to Carson. It was a dress, simple yet beautiful. The color was a pale yellow her people had not been able to reproduce for some time. It was woven from the wool of an animal similar to Earth's sheep. "It was my mother's and her mother's before that. We do not have many chances to save items of value. This was made by great weavers during a time when the Athosians thrived. It has been passed down through many generations of Emmagan women. Charin kept it for me, showing it to me when I was young. I thought it lost."

"It seems that the Athosians have another thing in common with the people of Earth," he said. "Women pass down the dresses they married in to their daughters all the time. I'm glad that you have this reminder of her."

"As am I, I will wear it in her memory and then put it away for my, our daughter, should we be blessed with one."

"That's a lovely thought. I should let you get ready; Rodney's got my suit in his quarters. In a couple of hours, you'll be my wife."

"And you will be my husband," she replied, putting the dress down. She hugged him, her heart full of joy. "Go, before Rodney calls you to find out where you are." Carson placed a kiss on her brow and left, leaving her to dress.

When she was ready, she took up the small bunch of flowers that Katie Brown had sent from the greenhouse. When the door to her room opened, John was standing there.

"Thought I'd make sure you weren't getting cold feet."

"I do not understand how the temperature of my feet would affect my decision to marry Carson," she replied dryly. Since her talk with him she had studied all that she could about marriage traditions on Earth. She would not be so easily teased or taunted this time.

John smirked. "Let's go."

He led her to the transport, which took them to the hall that would lead to the gate room. She could hear the murmur of voices. John tapped his earpiece, saying something low to the person on the other end. Teyla heard music begin to play over the city's communication system. John offered her his arm and she took it, her hand in the crook of his elbow. He led her down the hall to the top of the stairs. She could see that the room was full, the citizens of Atlantis on either side. At the bottom, in front of the gate was Mr. Woolsey. Ronon stood with Torren at the front of the crowd. To the right were Rodney and Carson.

"Breathe," John whispered to her.

She took a breath, nodding to everyone as they went down the steps in time to the music. Carson was smiling at her broadly. John brought her to Carson, taking her hand and putting it in his. They turned to face Mr. Woolsey. The rest was a haze. She repeated the words, a vow of some kind to love and honor Carson. She took him to be her husband. Then a final declaration:

"I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."

"Aye, I know that," Carson joked. He pulled her close, framing her face with his hands. She put her arms around him, bringing him even closer. The crowd cheered as they kissed. "Mrs. Beckett," he said when they broke apart.

"I hope that you will not call me that often, it is odd to hear."

"Don't worry, you'll always be Teyla to me. How does it feel to be married?"

"I do not know, it all went by so quickly. I really do not feel any different, but I am sure that I will given time."

Carson chuckled. "I think Major Lorne was recording it all, so you can watch the video later. Right now, I think there's a party we're supposed to be attending."

He steered her away from the gate towards the mess. Ronon handed her Torren who was clapping and giggling. "Mama pretty."

"Thank you, Torren, but what about your father?"

"Dada pretty."

They both laughed as the entered the mess to another cheer.


"Rodney, technically I'm not a bachelor anymore," Carson said the next day.

"Yes, yes, but it was the only time I could get everyone together, I've had it planned for weeks now. Besides, Teyla's not here, so we can have all the fun we want."

Carson sighed and tried very hard not to roll his eyes. "I don't want to have a hangover, Rodney."

"Pfft, and here I thought that you as a true Scotsman could hold your liquor."

"I can certainly hold it better than you can," Carson chided.

Rodney just stared at him as he steered Carson to the small room they normally used for movie night. They were greeted by the shouts of his friends and family. Colonel Sheppard and Ronon were there, as were Radek and Major Lorne. Scientists and military men mixed harmoniously in celebration of Carson's nuptials.

"To the first wedding on Atlantis in over ten thousand years," Colonel Sheppard toasted, holding his beer aloft.

Everyone raised a glass of something, Carson had a glass pressed into his hand so he could participate. He took a sip and nearly choked as the liquid burned down his throat and made his eyes water.

"Good Lord, what is that?"He said, wiping his mouth, hoping to get rid of the taste.

"Is, how you say? Moonshine," Radek offered. "I distilled it myself."

"It's good," Carson coughed, putting the glass down. He went in search for something that wasn't nearly as strong or as caustic.

"There's ruus wine," Ronon offered.

"No thanks, I'm sure I'll have plenty of that at the feast tomorrow."

"Could I interest you in a bottle of thirty year old Balvenie Single Malt?" Doctor Parrish offered up the nearly full bottle.

"Now that's a drink," Carson said, taking the scotch in admiration. He wasn't about to ask where the botanist had obtained it. Shots were poured and it was Rodney who offered up a toast this time.

"To Carson and Teyla, may they have many happy years together."

"To Carson and Teyla," everyone echoed.

"That was beautiful, Rodney," Carson said.

"Well, I meant it, Carson. Drink up, it's just about the only entertainment we've got. For a military instillation there's a serious lack of porn to be had and we won't even mention strippers."

Carson laughed, clapping his best friend on the back and poured them both another shot. "I've got my friends, that's good enough, Rodney."

They waded into the middle of the room. Music was started up, food passed around and the party really began. Someone broke out a deck of cards and a poker game was started. They traded stories of loves lost and won, of family gatherings, of funny mishaps on missions or in the labs. Toasts to Carson, to Teyla, to the both of them and to their future were given many times. Colonel Sheppard loosened up enough to ask Carson to call him John. Ronon called him brother before passing out. They drank and sang and laughed well into the wee hours of the morning. Rodney, who'd appointed himself Carson's minder, helped him stumble back to his quarters. He fell into bed and let sleep claim him as the sun began to filter in through the window.


Her people bustled about busily making the final arrangements for the joining ceremony. Teyla sat and watched from Halling's dwelling. She had offered many times to help out but everyone insisted that she was to relax, it was her day after all. There had been a small gathering of friends and distant family when she'd arrived, a private celebration that Carson had compared to the party Rodney was holding for him, though she suspected there was far less alcohol at her gathering. Kanaan's mother, Hala, and his sisters had already taken Torren for the day. She had worried that they would not approve of her relationship, but they were warm and happy for her.

"It is not often that joinings are as blessed as yours will be, Teyla Emmagan," Hala had said. "Kanaan would have wanted you to be happy. I see that this Doctor Beckett of yours has brought a light to your eyes. He is a good father to Torren?"

"Yes, he is," she said. "He has taken Torren as his own, in the traditions of his people."

"Then all is well. All I ask is that you continue to bring Torren to visit us."

Teyla nodded. "I will, he should know of Kanaan."

A noise from the villagers interrupted her thoughts. They were gathering around the edges of the forest, she went to see what was causing the commotion. Ronon, who had come through the gate early that morning, led the hunters towards the large roasting pits. They carried a large ndeth on a pole as well as several small birds. The feast would be a good one.

"I see that your hunt went well," she said.

"Yeah, not bad," he replied. "Better go help with the skinning."

"Be sure that Halling lets you have some of the pelt, it is your right."

Ronon just nodded. Teyla returned to the dwelling. The joining was not until later in the evening, perhaps she should try to get some rest. The feasting and celebration afterwards would go on long into the night.

Halling woke her as the sun was low in the sky. "Teyla, it is time for you to get ready."

She sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "Is Carson here?"

"The Atlanteans arrived about half an hour ago. Two of the women are waiting in the other room to help you with your preparations. I must go and prepare myself."

"Thank you, Halling," she stood from the bed, leaning forward.

"It is my honor to join you to your soul mate, Teyla Emmagan." He touched his forehead to hers before leaving.

Teyla got up and went to find her friends. Jennifer and Marie had agreed to help her into the dress that Carson had bought as well as fix her hair. Jennifer told her that the name on the dress box was one of a famous Earth designer. Teyla had looked at many dresses that the women of Earth wore and hoped it was not too complex. All of them took a breath of appreciation as she opened the box.

"Oh, wow, Teyla, you're going to look stunning in this," Jennifer said.

"But it is white, will it not get soiled?"

Marie laughed. "You haven't seen the work Halling's been doing then, have you?"

"No, I was forbidden from participating in any of the preparations for the joining."

"You have nothing to worry about, Teyla," Jennifer assured her. "We'll carry the train, the back part of the dress. I hope someone remembered to bring cameras."

"Yes," Teyla replied offhandedly. She was fingering the fabric of the dress, admiring the beadwork and stitching. There was something else in the box. A band of some kind with a length of gauze-like fabric attached to it.

"It's a veil," Marie said. "You wear it in your hair. Why don't you go wash up, you don't want to be late for your own joining now do you?"

She bathed quickly, lathering herself with fragrant lotions. The dress fit perfectly, accentuating her curves. It had thin straps, showing off her shoulders. Marie arranged the veil in her hair so the gauze was trailing down her back. There was a large, polished mirror that someone had brought over from the city and Teyla was astonished at the image of herself.

"Carson's not going to know what hit him," Jennifer said.

There was a knock at the door; John had arrived to take her to the gate. Marie let him in. He let out a low whistle when he saw her. "Wow. That's some dress there, Teyla."

"Thank you, John. You look quite dashing."

"Only the best," he said. He was wearing what he had called his dress uniform. "Let's go get you joined, I haven't eaten since yesterday and whatever they've got cooking in that pit smells delicious."

Teyla laughed and took John's arm. Jennifer and Marie followed, picking up the back of her dress. As they approached the gate she could see what Marie had been talking about. There were boards lined up on the ground for her to walk on, so she need not have worried about her dress. Atlantis had sent over folding chairs so that the Athosians and Atlanteans could sit rather than stand. There was a large tent over the area just in front of the gate in case the weather should change.

They stopped at the back of the rows of chairs. By some secret signal all of the assembled guests stood and Teyla heard a familiar sound. Carson had said it was a bagpipe, a traditional instrument of his homeland. The last time she had heard it had been at the funeral. Tears gathered in her eyes but the tune was joyful rather than mournful and she squared her shoulders. She nodded to John that she was ready.

Slowly they began their walk down the boards towards the Ring of the Ancestors. Here, amongst her people, Teyla could not think of it as the Stargate. The sun shone its last light through the middle of the Ring, bathing everyone in reds, yellows and oranges. The further they went down, the more she could make out who was standing there. Ronon had been given a suit and was standing next to Rodney who shifted uncomfortably in his. Carson's face shone with joy and wonder as he saw her appear. She saw that he did indeed look handsome in his kilt, it showed off his legs quite nicely. She was glad that the day was warm. Once more John transferred her hand to Carson's and they turned to Halling.

"Today is a blessed day for our people. The Ancestors have given us a bountiful harvest and one of our own has found her life partner. Today we are here to join Teyla Emmagan, daughter of Tagan and Torren, with Carson Beckett, son of Mary and James. Let us send thanks to the Ancestors."

They all bowed their heads in a moment of silence. Halling blessed them and offered blessing for their future children. She and Carson made promises to love and honor one another. Carson's voice trembled as he said the words, Teyla spoke clearly but with tears of happiness flowing down her face. Finally Halling put Teyla's hands in Carson's.

"With the blessing of the Ancestors, I declare that Teyla and Carson are now joined as one. May they be happy and loved for many seasons to come."

Carson leaned in and kissed her, eliciting a cheer from the crowd. Teyla turned and spoke, "I believe that Halling has neglected to mention that there is a feast as well."

The crowd laughed, a voice shouting from the back, "Let's eat!"

They dispersed, making their way to the center of the village where long tables were set up. Ruus wine was passed around as well as something that Carson called champagne. Plates were piled high and conversation flowed all around them. At some point the piper was joined by Athosian musicians and dancing broke out.

"Would you care for a dance?" Carson asked her.

"Yes, I would very much like to dance with you." He led her onto the dance floor, twirling her until she laughed.

She danced with John, Rodney and Ronon as well as Halling and many of her other friends, both Atlantean and Athosian. She laughed and smiled as she watched her friends and family dance and have fun. It had been too long since they had been able to relax in such a way. She knew that all too soon they would have to return to Atlantis and all of the problems that were lying in wait there. But tonight, they would forget, they would celebrate and they would remember.

Darkness had settled over the camp, but fires provided plenty of light as she found herself dancing with Carson again, both of them swaying to a slow tune. Carson leaned into whisper. "Did you know about those two?"

Teyla pulled back to see who he was referring to. She saw John and Rodney holding one another, dancing as close as she and Carson had been. John leaned down to kiss at Rodney's neck and Rodney smiled wide. The light of the fire danced as the two men disappeared, holding hands as they went.

"I suspected but I was not sure, did you?"

"I had my suspicions as well. Rodney was very cagey about the person in his life, I understand why now."

"Is there something unusual about their relationship?" she asked, curious.

"I'll tell you about it later, love. I'm just happy they're happy."

"Yes, they deserve such happiness." She looked around at the nearly deserted square. "I believe that we may leave now. Halling has provided us with a dwelling for the night."

"Aye, I don't think anyone will miss us," he said, kissing her slowly.

She led him out of the square, careful as he held the train of her dress for her. The house was hidden away from most of the others. Carson picked her up after she opened the door and carried her laughing into the house. He closed the door with his foot and continued to carry her into the bedroom. He dropped her playfully on the bed.

"Carson!" she said, breathless. "Help me remove my dress."

"Gladly," he said, pulling the straps from her shoulder as he placed kisses on her skin.

The dress came down around her waist and she stood, letting it pool at her feet. She stepped out of it, picking it up and placing it on a nearby table. Carson was watching her every move. She approached him, licking her lips.

"I should see if you truly went with your tradition," she said as she stood in front of him. Her hands ventured below the kilt to brush his thigh.

"Teyla," he said, his voice rough as her hand travelled upwards.

"You did." She caressed him, feeling powerful as his desire grew. "You are wearing far too many clothes, Carson."

"We should remedy that," he said, gently removing her hand, unbuckling the kilt and letting it drop to the floor. His shirt soon followed. "Teyla, my love, mo mhùirnìn, mo chridhe," he murmured as he drew her down to the bed.

"Carson," she replied, taking him in her arms. He kissed her neck, caressing her body. She was aching with her desire for him. "Carson, I would like to have your child, our child. Tonight with the blessings of the Ancestors I would like to conceive a child with you."

"Are you sure? I am still willing to wait."

"I have given it much thought. Torren will reach his first year soon. I think it would be nice for him to have a brother or sister close to him in age. A child conceived tonight will be blessed."

"Aye, I remember what you told me," he said. He rose above her, entering her slowly. "Then let's hope the Ancestors are listening."

They made love well into the night and again in the morning.


Carson was walking the halls of Atlantis, Torren in his arms. His son- it felt good to say that word to himself- was having trouble falling asleep. Carson suspected it was a combination of teething and a return of his colic. He'd told Teyla he'd take a turn as she'd done plenty of walking with Torren while he was in stasis. It had been just over a months since their return to Atlantis, he'd cut down some on his research and fieldwork to spend time with both of them. Carson knew that all too soon he'd return to his work, his obligations, so he was savoring this time with his family. He was turning a corner and jumped back when a toy car whizzed by followed by another. John and Rodney rushed up, the cars stopped at the end of the hall.

"Whoa! You okay, doc?" John said.

"I could have dropped him!" Carson chided.

John had the decency to look sheepish. "Sorry, we didn't know anyone was around. Sure you're all right?"

"Come to think of it, what are you doing down here anyway?" Rodney asked.

"I'm trying to get Torren to sleep. Teyla said that walking him is the best way to calm him."

"Yeah, I remember her walking him around before," John said.

"Ooh, he's colicky, huh?" asked Rodney.

Carson nodded. "It's either that or the fact he's got several teeth coming in, his gums are inflamed. Or it's a combination of the both."

"I was a colicky baby too," Rodney offered. "Just do what my mum did, which is let me cry myself to sleep. I'm no worse for it. As for the teeth, don't you have like Tylenol or something you can give him?"

"You don't think I've already thought of that, Rodney? I am a doctor after all."

It was Rodney's turn to look sheepish. "Yes, right."

"Anyway, I told Teyla I'd walk the lad, it only seemed fair."

"I…I'd offer to help you out, but it looks like you've got everything taken care of." John said.

"No worries, I don't mind doing it, gives me time to think. Now, all I have to do is get him back to our quarters without waking him…or being run over," Carson said with a glare.

"Yeah, well, you know, we're done here. We're just…you know…finishing up," Rodney said, gesturing to the cars.

"Good night!" said John.

"Good night! Have…a good one!" Rodney said as the cars started back up again, zipping down the corridor.

"Be careful now," Carson said as he turned back the way he came and headed for his laboratory, there was a makeshift cradle there. If Torren was still awake, Carson could try rocking him to sleep while getting some work done. Since getting there would take him through the living quarters he thought he should take a moment to check on Teyla. He thought he heard a noise as he turned a corner. He looked down and saw that Torren was finally asleep so Carson thought he would chance using the transporter. As he approached the doors, he turned, the hair on the back of his neck rising.

"Hello? Whoever's out there, make yourself known."

Nothing. Carson frowned as he backed away from the transporter, looking down the hall. As he turned his head to look the other way, he felt a wave of pain hit him. His last thought before blackness overcame him was for Torren.


Teyla sat up, fully awake. "Torren, Carson," she said. She reached for the light switch, but nothing happened when she pressed it. As her eyes adjusted to the dark she could see that neither of them were in the room. Carson had not returned from his walk. She was worried. Something had caused her to wake and now the lights were not working. She picked up her radio to try and reach Carson only to notice that his radio was sitting on the table. She would try John.

"John? Come in, please." She got only static. Her senses were on alert. There was something going on. She dressed quickly and took her knife, it was better to be safe than to be sorry, as Carson always said.

She could not open the doors at first, but after some time and some effort she managed to get them open enough to step through. The moment she stepped out of their room, she was assaulted with another feeling. She knew this sensation; not like when she felt Wraith, but something similar. She had had this feeling around Michael and Kanaan, but she knew that they were both dead. Kanaan was at least. Michael's ship had been destroyed yet Teyla had never completely agreed with John's assessment that Michael had perished in the blast. She began to run.

She found John outside of Rodney's lab. "John, I am glad to see you. I have been trying to contact you for some time. Do you know what is going on?"

"Yeah, communications are down, we're using walkie-talkies. We've got some theories, but nothing yet. I was just about to check in with Rodney."

"Have you seen Carson and Torren?"She asked, trying to keep the fear and desperation from her voice.

"We ran into them about half an hour ago. They didn't return to your quarters?"

"No, they were not there when I awoke," she said following him into Rodney's lab.

"Any luck?" John asked.

Rodney looked up, his face downturned. "Not much. You're right, though. Someone's taken over Atlantis. Hacked into the mainframe. I'm having a hard time accessing several of the critical systems. And the ones I can access, you know, are read-only."

"Are the transporters working yet?"

Radek was fussing over a laptop. "Some, but not the one to the gate room, there is still a lock out, I am working on an override."

"Do you not have cameras there?" Teyla pointed out.

John and Rodney looked at each other as if they thought they both should have thought of that.

"I can access the closed feeds on the gate room and the control room. Cameras aren't a priority system so I shouldn't be locked out," Rodney said, his fingers flying over the keyboard of his laptop.

She and John gathered behind him, a picture coming up on the screen. There was a puddlejumper in front of the gate. They all exchanged perplexed looks. Rodney pressed a button and the view switched to a man working in the control room. He was facing away from the camera.

"Who is that?" Radek asked.

"I don't know, but definitely not Atlantis personnel," John said. "Can you go to the camera in Woolsey's office?"

"Sure," Rodney said and the picture changed once more. "Oh, God."

Teyla's heart seemed to stop for a moment. Slumped in one of the chairs was Carson, Torren was asleep in another. They watched in silence, John hovering closer in support. Carson began to stir, Teyla couldn't tell if he was hurt in any way. He went over to check on Torren. Then the door opened and someone entered the room.

John leaned in closer to the monitor. "Is that?"

"Yes," Teyla said. "I believe it is."


Pain. That was the last thing he remembered. His side still throbbed and there was a lingering fuzziness in his brain. Carson moved his tongue around the inside of his mouth to get rid of the bitter taste in his mouth. Torren! His eyes opened wide and he saw that he was in Mr. Woolsey's office. He glanced around and saw his son. Going over to him, Carson could see that he wasn't harmed and in fact fast asleep. He breathed a sigh of relief.

Now to the mystery of who'd shot him and why he was in this office. He put a hand up to his ear only belatedly remembering that he'd left his radio on the table beside the bed. Dammit. He stroked Torren's cheek softly, preparing to pick the boy up and attempt leaving the office. The opening of the door made him turn. Someone stepped into the room. Carson took in a breath, partly in surprise, but mostly in resignation.

"Michael."

"Doctor Beckett. It's quite a surprise to find you alive."

"I could say the same for you. How'd you get into Atlantis?"

"Some of your friends were quite careless when they came to rescue Teyla. They left behind one of your ships. It has provided me with a wealth of information and technology. And the key to infiltrating this base."

Carson picked Torren carefully up from the chair, bringing him close. Michael stood there for a moment as if daydreaming. Carson's mind worked quickly, trying to figure out a way to get past the half Wraith. Even if he did get out of the office, Michael would more than likely have several guards outside. He needed to keep Torren safe. Carson sent a prayer out that Teyla was unharmed and that she and the others would find a way to rescue them soon. Michael said something.

"What was that?" Carson asked, hoping to buy some time.

"Forgive me. I forgot to offer congratulations. What's his name?"

Carson just held onto Torren, saying nothing.

"No matter. We don't have much time I'm afraid. My hybrids are preparing to activate Atlantis's self destruct device. As soon as they do that, I will leave."

"You're going to destroy Atlantis?"

"A punishment richly deserved. Not that I expect you to agree with me, Doctor. But don't worry, the child will be safe."

"You think I'll just let you take my son?"

"Your son, Doctor?" Michael laughed, short and sharp. "If I am not mistaken, it was another who fathered the child. Teyla and the father have given him a powerful gift that I will utilize to exert greater control over my legion of hybrids. He is the key to increasing my strength, securing my reign over the galaxy. So yes, I will be taking 'your' son."

"You'll have to deal with me first," Carson said. "You'll find I'm not as weak as I was the last time we met."

"If it comes to that, Doctor Beckett, rest assured I will not hesitant to kill you. It's the boy I want. But for now, I must oversee the preparations for the end of this city."

Michael left, and Carson sat down in a chair, still holding Torren who thankfully still slept. "Don't you worry, lad. Your mother and uncles are surely coming up with a plan to get us out of here safe and sound."


"I thought Michael was dead," Major Lorne said. He had joined them not long ago.

"We all did," John said.

"I mean, we blew up his ship," the major insisted.

Rodney pushed past the two men to get to another laptop. "Yes, he's like a cockroach. Look, I know you wanted to try the C-4 but I've had Lorne's men doing scans around the doors. They're detecting a large energy spike all around the entire area that's blocked off."

"What could it be?" she asked.

"Shielding of some kind," he said. "They're running power from the jumper, so that means…."

"That we have to destroy the jumper somehow," John said. Teyla watched as he thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers. "We use the jumpers in the underwater bay, fly them out, shoot at the other jumper from outside the tower."

"Ummm," Rodney said.

"What is the matter?" Teyla asked.

"Both of the jumpers in the underwater bay suffered damage," Radek said.

Teyla continued to watch the monitor of Rodney's laptop as he and John argued. Carson was pacing the room with Torren. She knew now that she had indeed felt Michael and the other hybrids when she'd stepped out of their room. She wished that there was something she could do, she felt helpless just standing there and doing nothing.


Carson spied a headset on Mr. Woolsey's desk and attempted to reach for it but was stopped by Michael's return.

"It is a pity that is you that my associates captured you instead of Teyla, Doctor Beckett."

"Why's that?"

"I might have allowed Teyla to come with me when we left, so that she could care for her son. If she had been in a co-operative frame of mind. Instead I will have the pleasure of watching you die. It seems only fitting that I, your creation, should be the end of you."

"None of this would have happened, Michael, if you'd been content with the life we'd given you."

"But it wasn't my life, now was it Doctor." Michael all but shouted this. Torren stirred but slept on. "It was a fabrication. A lie so that you might believe your retrovirus was a permanent solution to your problems."

"It worked and it would have kept on working, too."

"I am what you see because of you, Doctor." Michael came closer, Carson backed up until he was pressed against the wall.

"You are what you are because of vengeance."

"Do you not punish criminals on your world?" Michael asked, turning away long enough for Carson to grab the headset.

"This isn't punishment, its murder. I did what I did because I thought it would help people. You have killed hundreds of thousands of innocents in retribution. You could have lived a full and happy life as a human."

"If that is what helps you sleep at night, Doctor. Now you can bear witness to my triumph as I use Teyla's son to build my army of hybrids. There are some who might even reward me for ridding this galaxy of the blight this city has become."

"You won't get away with this you know. Colonel Sheppard and Teyla will come for me, for us."

"Yes, I'm sure that…ahhh!"

Michael's response was interrupted by a blow to his chest. Carson stepped back, it was Ronon. He watched as the two of them fought. They traded blows, Ronon slamming Michael into the wall of electronic equipment which sparked. Michael responded with a yell, pushing Ronon out of the office.

"Run," Ronon yelled.

Carson didn't have to think twice. He clutched Torren a little tighter and ran. He went out into the hall at full tilt, only to be stopped by a voice.

"Doctor Beckett." It was Mr. Woolsey, he appeared from around a corner. "Are you alright?"

"Aye, but we need to get back and help Ronon."

There was a stunner blast that shot between the two of them. It was one of the hybrids. They ran down the hall towards the transporter. Carson ran a hand in front of it but nothing happened.

"There must still be a lock out," Woolsey said. "Where's the nearest stairwell?"

"Just around the corner, come on."


"John, Ronon is fighting Michael," Teyla said as she watched the monitor.

"We're almost there, keep us updated."

She gripped the walkie-talkie tight as she saw Carson run from the office, Torren clutched tightly to his chest. She sent a prayer to the Ancestors that he would find a way to get out of there. She prayed for Rodney and John to get the other puddlejumpers fixed quickly. She let out a cry when she saw Michael throw Ronon from the balcony and onto the floor of the gate room.

"Where is the armory?"

"Why?" Radek asked.

"I want to be ready when the jumper is destroyed. Michael will pay for all that he has done."

"I'll show you," Major Lorne said.


Carson fought against his first instinct to help Mr. Woolsey. The minute he went past that one step he would be caught in that field as well. He did feel a slight sense of triumph though when he kicked the hybrid down the stairs. He looked for a hiding place. He remembered that some of the wall pieces had hidden compartments. Most of the time they were used as storage but some of them were still empty. He pushed at the wall until one gave way. He set Torren down gently inside, pulling down the small set of stairs, climbed in and waited. He put on the headset, intent on trying to call for help. He was about to press the call button when he heard a voice.

"Doctor Beckett, I want the child. I know that you can hear me." Michael spoke over the city's communication system. "Do you really think that you can hide from me? I will find you and I will have the child. Give him too me."

"Why should I? Whether you have him or not, you still plan on destroying the city. Or at the very least you plan on killing me," he replied.

"If you surrender yourself and the child, I will not use the self-destruct. Think about it Doctor Beckett, you can be a hero. You can save the lives of everyone in the city and all you have to do is give me the child."

There was nothing but silence. Carson chose to ignore Michael. If he responded there was a chance that he might be found. He dared not open the panel, there would likely be hybrids waiting for him. He would rather die. There was nothing that was going to make him give his son over to a murderer.

"Very well, you give me no choice, Doctor. It doesn't matter any way, I have already collected DNA from him. The cloning process will take some time, but eventually I will have what I want. I hope that you can live with yourself. For the next ten minutes at least."

The next thing Carson heard was the klaxon signaling that the self-destruct had been turned on. He breathed in the scent of Torren. Teyla and John would figure something out in time. They had to.


When John appeared in the lab, Teyla's first thoughts were that something had gone wrong. She was geared up for a fight but still worried.

"Where is Rodney?" she asked.

"New plan. He's going to get far enough away to dial the gate from the jumper. Looks like Zelenka found a way to get the gate shield down. Once we're in place, Zelenka will drop the shield, Rodney will dial the gate which will…."

"Destroy the jumper and the force field will go down," Teyla finished.

"Right, so everyone else, get geared up. And no holding back, you see Michael, you shoot him. I want this bastard dead once and for all."

Teyla gave him a look. "John."

"Look, I know that you have a deal with Michael and I understand that you want to be the one to go after him, but I want this over."

She just nodded, taking the safety off of her weapon. "I am ready."

"Okay, then let's go."

Once they were in place, everything seemed to go by quickly. The hybrids fought back, stunning one of the marines. Teyla focused on getting to Mr. Woolsey's office, where Michael had last been seen. John managed to get to Ronon, checking his pulse.

"Get a medic in here!"

Teyla breathed a little better knowing her friend was okay. She saw Michael at the same time John did. John let out several shots, hitting Michael. She started after him but was caught up in a fire fight with some of the hybrids. John went after him. She dropped her weapon and went hand to hand, hoping that it would speed up her attackers defeat. She briefly wished for her bantos rods as she delivered a blow to one of the hybrids.


Carson was sure he was hearing things. Actually it what he wasn't hearing that got his interest. The klaxon had stopped. He hoped that it meant the self-destruct had stopped. He opened the panels, risking a glance down the hall. No sign of any hybrids. He put out the stairs, climbed out slowly, grabbing Torren once he was out. He was frankly amazed that Torren still slept. He went down the hall slowly, looking for anyone that could tell him what was going on. He peered into a room and was happily surprised. There were all of the control room personnel. He spied a familiar face.

"Amelia."

The young sergeant turned with a smile. "Doctor, thank god you're alright."

"Yes, lass, I'm fine. Would you mind holding onto Torren for me?"

"Not at all," she said, taking the boy from him.

Carson ran for the control room hoping to find Teyla. It was pure chaos, part of a puddlejumper parked in front of the gate and evidence of a firefight everywhere. Jennifer was below, checking on Ronon. He was awake but immobile on the gate room floor. Jennifer glanced up quickly, catching Carson's eye. She nodded to him, conveying that Ronon would be fine. All of the hybrids seemed to be either dead or in custody. But there was no sign of Teyla or John. Major Lorne was organizing cleanup, Carson went over to him.

"Have you seen Teyla?" he asked.

"Last I saw of her doc, she was heading towards the jumper bay."

"Thank you," Carson said, running.

Neither Teyla nor John were there. Another person directed him towards an open door saying they'd hear fighting. Carson didn't think that it led anywhere. He went out into the blowing winds. John was up against the wall, holding his ribs and looking out. Teyla was standing at the ledge, looking down. Carson could see a hand clinging from it. A voice rose above the wind.

"Teyla!"

It was Michael. Carson wanted to say something, but before he could Teyla shoved at Michael's hand with her foot. If there was a scream it was lost in the howl of the winds buffeting the tower. Teyla just continued to watch. Carson slowly approached her after a moment or two had passed.

"A ghra, it's over now. Let's go back inside."

Teyla stepped back before turning to him. "Carson. Where is Torren?"

"He's safe, love, he's safe."

"Carson," she said, folding herself into his arms. He held her close as she trembled, her tears soaking his shirt. He stroked her back, whispering to her. Then he pulled back a little.

"Come now, help me get the poor Colonel to the infirmary and then you should let Jennifer have a look at you, okay?"

"I wish to see Torren," she said.

"We'll get him on the way."

She nodded and he let her go. They helped John up and made their way to the infirmary.


Jennifer had said she was suffering from shock and said she must stay overnight. Carson hovered until Jennifer left. Torren was still very much asleep in his arms. Teyla's heart had leapt when she saw that her son was indeed safe. She had not doubted Carson's word, but she had needed to see for herself.

"Sit, Carson, I am growing dizzy just watching you as you stand there," she said.

"Sorry," he said, sitting in the chair that someone had brought over to her bed. "I…Teyla, love, you need to talk about what happened."

"It is simple, Carson," she said calmly and without emotion. "I sent Michael to his death. I would not have rested until he was dead. If I had let him live we would never have been free from him."

"Aye, I understand that, believe me, I do. If I'd had a gun and the opportunity, I would have done the same. But you still need to talk about it."

"That is what Doctor Marsh is for, yes?"

Carson sighed. "Yes, that's what she's for. Promise me you'll talk with her?"

"I promise," she said. "You should try and get some rest. Torren will be up all too soon."

"Don't I know it," he chuckled. "I can't believe he slept through the whole thing."

"I do not either. But I know that I will sleep well tonight knowing that you are both safe and sound."

"Me too," Carson said. "I'll be thinking of you when I dream tonight."

"Perhaps there is something else you could be thinking of," she said, a wry smile on her face.

"Oh aye?"

"A name for our child."

"You're…how…it's too soon to tell," he sputtered.

"Jennifer used the scanner on me to make sure I had no hidden injuries. She saw it there. I am about four weeks along."

Carson's face went from surprise to complete happiness. It was even brighter and warmer than she'd seen on either of their wedding days. "Thank you, love." He stood up and leaned carefully over the bed, kissing her. "Now I really should let you rest."

"I will see you in the morning, Carson."

"In the morning, mo mhùirnìn."


Rodney found him a few days later as he was packing to go back out into the field. With Michael dead, there was no chance of more planets getting the plague. Carson stopped when he saw his friend approaching.

"So I hear that more congratulations are in order," Rodney said.

"Thank you, Rodney. Teyla's already told me about the promise she made to you if she had another boy."

"Oh," he said. "So you're fine with that? Naming a boy for me I mean."

"Yes, Rodney. And we can still name our child for you if we have a girl," he teased.

"Oh! I am so kicking Sheppard's ass. I can't believe he told you about that."

Carson laughed. "No, he didn't. I was your doctor, Rodney. I had access to your medical files, including your complete legal name."

"Yeah, I—uh forgot about that. Just—call her Merry or something, okay?"

"Don't worry, Rodney."

Rodney nodded, "Yeah, so, need any help?"

Carson moved and let Rodney help him pack.


"Are you here to speak to me about my condition?" Teyla asked John when he sat next to her at lunch. "Because I believe we have had this conversation before."

"No, I know perfectly well that you're more than capable to do your job," he said. "I just wanted to offer you congratulations. I hear that McKay's already hoping for another boy."

Teyla smiled. "Rodney is a fine name, as is Meredith."

"Really?" John snorted, nearly spitting out his coffee. "Oh he's going to love that."

"I am sure that Carson will persuade him to not be too angry."

"Maybe. There was something else. Since Rodney's godfather to Torren, I was wondering…."

"You will be an excellent guardian for our child, John. I would be honored," she said.

"Cool," John said, grinning. "So does that mean I get to teach him to fly the jumpers?"

"Only if the child should possess the touch of the Ancestors," she reminded him. "And only if you check with Carson as well, once the child has reached maturity."

John nodded. "Not a problem. So thought of any middle names?"

Teyla just laughed as they continued to eat their meal.


Carson stepped through the gate and back into the gate room of Atlantis. He was greeted by Major Lorne who immediately began guiding him out of the room.

"Hold on there, Major," he said, out of breath and worried. "What's going on here? All I know is that I was taken away from my research and told there was an emergency. Is it medical? It's not Teyla or Torren, is it?"

"There is an emergency, doc, but not with Teyla or Torren. We need you to fly the city."

"What!" Carson stopped in the middle of the hall. "Fly the city? What's bloody well happening here? Where's Colonel Sheppard? He's the one with flying experience. I'm a doctor, not a bloody pilot."

The Major grabbed Carson by the arm and began pulling him back down the hall. "Look doc, I'll tell you this quickly, because we're running out of time. Some of the Wraith got a hold of a ZPM. They're using it on one of their hives. That hive is now on its way to Earth thanks to a coded message from another reality. The Colonel got sent back to Earth to use the control chair there. All of our ships are out of commission having already faced this super-ship. So we need you, as the next strongest gene carrier, to fly the ship to Earth."

"But I thought that was impossible, we've only the one ZPM," Carson said, choosing to ignore the statement about another reality. Parallel universes and alternate realities gave him a headache.

"Not any more," Lorne said. They'd reached the chair room. "Here you are, McKay, one pilot."

Rodney looked up from his pad. "About time, look, Carson, just sit and concentrate okay?"

"Fine, but don't go blaming me if something happens," Carson said, sitting.

"Don't worry, we've done this before, everything is tied down and stored away. There won't be any injuries. Hopefully," Rodney said, turning back to his data pad.

Carson glared at Rodney's back as the chair reclined and he felt the hum of power throughout his body. He settled in, uncomfortable to say the least. He took a deep breath and sighed. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."

"Doctor Beckett," Mr. Woolsey said over the comm, "Take us out."

Carson closed his eyes and thought about flying. He'd spoken with John many times about sitting in the chair. They both agreed that whatever it was they felt when just in the city was magnified when they sat in the chair. Rodney had waxed eloquent on when he'd been able to manipulate the city after being struck by the Ascension machine. Carson felt the power of Atlantis pulsing through him as he concentrated. He could certainly tell that there was more than one ZPM powering the city. It was if she was supercharged, but he mentally corrected himself. The city was meant to run on three, not just the one that she had been for so long. He wondered if this was how any of the Ancient pilots felt when they took the city from Earth out here to Pegasus.

The city shook and rumbled underneath him. He could hear the groaning and straining of the walls and beams as he pushed the city to its limits. The voices of the people in the room with him faded as he put all of his thought into getting the city into space. Then he could think about hyperspace. Once that was done he was able to relax for a while. He felt the shift from normal space to hyperspace and opened his eyes. The chair was still reclined, the power of the city still being used to fly them as quickly as possible to Earth.

"Well done, Carson," Rodney said. "Not bad at all. Now we just wait, it shouldn't take too long to get to Earth."

"Is Teyla here?"

"Yeah, she's around somewhere," Rodney said, waving his hand. He pressed a button and then looked over to Carson. "Woolsey gave her and Ronon a chance to stay in Pegasus. I knew Teyla would say no, but I was kind of surprised Ronon decided to come along."

"I'm not, Atlantis is his home, and we're his family. Now if you don't have anything else for me to do, I'd like to see my wife."

He started to get out of the chair but Rodney jumped in front of him, waving his hands frantically. "No, no, no, you can't go anywhere, I need you here in case something goes wrong. Not that I think anything will go wrong. I'll find you a radio, you can talk to her over that."

"Fine," Carson said. One of the techs handed over a headset and Carson pressed the button. "Teyla?"

"Carson, I am here. I am sorry that I was not able to speak with you before, I have been helping prepare the city for travel. Are you all right?"

"Fine, love, if a bit shaken, I wasn't expecting this when I came through the gate," he sighed.

"I have been told that you did very well. I could come and visit you. Torren has been asking for you."

"He's here?" Carson asked, surprised.

"Where else would our son be?"

"I thought perhaps you might have sent him to New Athos."

"He is as safe on Atlantis as he would be anywhere else, Carson." He could hear the glare in her voice.

"Aye, that's true," he said. "I should have known better. Forgive me?"

She laughed softly. "There is nothing to forgive, you were simply worried for Torren as any father would be. I can go and collect him now."

"No, love that's okay. I think it would be a bit crowded in here. Just give him a kiss for me."

"I will do that. I will wish you luck in keeping the city going, I know there is much at stake."

"Thank you, love. Be safe. I love you."

"I love you," she said before the line went dead.

He handed the headset back to the tech with a word of thanks. He sat back in the chair, listening to the city as it flew through space. She hummed quietly, nothing betraying any difference from when she was land bound. All of a sudden everything stopped. The chair powered down, sitting a surprised Carson upright. He could see that Rodney had left the room, but the others were still there. They scrambled about, pressing buttons and consulting monitors.

"What happened?" Mr. Woolsey's voice asked. "Doctor Beckett?"

Someone handed him a headset. "It wasn't me!"

"No, it wasn't anything he did," Rodney said. "The city is over ten thousand years old, it isn't used to running on this kind of power. Even when the Ancients took over, it wasn't as if she was overtaxed in the way that flying could."

Carson relaxed a little, letting Rodney's explanation and all of the other talk flow over him. He moved away from the chair, looking for a quiet corner of the room. He wanted to check on Teyla. She was fine, as was Torren. Carson breathed a small sigh of relief, which was wasted when Rodney said that he, Ronon and Teyla would have to go to the hive ship.

"You'll be careful, Rodney?"

"Yes, Carson, look, you know how good Teyla is. But I swear that Ronon and I will do everything she'll let us to keep her and the baby safe. Zelenka's coming up here to monitor the situation, you stay put. We might still need you to fire off the drones."

"Aye, just bring her back."

"I will."

Carson watched as Rodney left. He hoped that the city was fully stocked, who knew how long he would have to be firing on a super hive ship?


The planets of the Milky Way did not seem to differ much from those of Pegasus, Teyla thought. She and her team were on what John had called the Alpha site. It had been a close fight, with Ronon's death and resurrection. She had hugged them all fiercely when they'd arrived, glad for their safety. Ronon was still injured but the people here checked the bindings the Wraith had given him. Rodney and John had talked low with one another, touching and feeling when they thought no one was looking. Teyla smiled, it was good that they had each other. Now they were waiting for word from Earth. The gate erupted and she held her breath.

"Alpha Site, this is Stargate Command, come in please."

"Stargate Command, this is Colonel Sheppard at the Alpha Site, good to hear from you."

Sam's voice came over the line. "Good to hear from you as well, John. I'm happy to tell you that the Wraith hive ship was destroyed."

"Atlantis?"

"Your Doctor Beckett was able to land it safely. We'll shut down from our end so you can come back. Carter out."

The wormhole closed and John turned to them. "You heard the Colonel, let's go home."

"I am looking forward to seeing your planet," Teyla said.

"Me too," Ronon said.

The wormhole came to life once more and they all stepped through. Sam was waiting at the end of the ramp for them.

"Teyla, Ronon, it's good to see you again."

"It is good to see you as well, Sam," she said. "When can we go to Atlantis?"

"Yeah, where'd Beckett land?" John asked. "And why are we here instead of in Atlantis?"

"San Francisco Bay," she said. "I had Doctor Zelenka take the gate in Atlantis offline. We still have a facility to run here, we need this gate to be functional. You'll be back in Atlantis soon, but protocol, you have to get checked out in our infirmary. I understand that Ronon was injured?"

"I'm fine," Ronon said.

"You should still get looked at. I believe that you will need stitches," Teyla said. "John, you must know the way."

"Sure, come on guys," John said, leading the way out of the room.

Sam followed, falling into step with Teyla. "Congratulations, on your marriage and the new baby."

"Thank you," she said, not surprised that news had reached Earth. She had found that good news spread quickly amongst the Atlanteans and their counterparts. She also had a feeling that Mr. Woolsey had to put certain things in his reports back to Stargate Command. "I am told that I have you to thank for Carson returning to the city."

"Maybe, I just told someone about what was going on. I know what it's like to be separated from loved ones," Sam said, her voice wistful.

"I thank you anyway."

"So, tell me all about the weddings. I helped chose your dress you know."

Teyla smiled. "So Carson told me." She began to tell Sam, hopeful that she might become friends with the former leader of Atlantis.


The city was being invaded by Stargate personnel. Or at least that's what it felt like to Carson. He still wasn't sure how he'd managed to get the city on the water without causing too much damage. What intrigued him more would be the cover story the SGC would come up with to explain the city's approach through the atmosphere and the subsequent landing. It didn't matter if they had managed to raise the cloak before landing. A city of Atlantis' size was sure to displace a very large amount of water.

There were also whispers that the IOA might come for a visit. He was certain they would have a lot to ask all of the city's inhabitants. He wondered how long the damned bureaucrats would have the city in the bay. He was very glad that Teyla had kept Torren here instead of taking him to New Athos. He was even more glad when Major Lorne told him that she and the others were safe at Stargate Command and they would be returning shortly.

He went to get Torren. Lorne was piloting a cloaked jumper to the SGC and back. Carson would be there with Torren to greet them. The jumper bay's roof spiraled open and the jumper lowered slowly to the floor. Torren screeched with excitement as the back door slowly came down.

"Mama!"

Teyla smiled as she saw him. Carson put Torren down and he ran over to her. She picked him up and he giggled. She kissed him and settled him on her hip before cover to Carson.

"Carson," she said, walking into his arms.

"Teyla," he replied, holding her close. "So, how does it feel to be on Earth?"

"Not very different from being on any other planet."

"Come, there's something I want to show you. Ronon, you should come too."

Everyone followed him as he led them through the jumper bay and the control room to the balcony. He leaned on the railing. "Isn't it beautiful? Reminds me a little of home."

"Cold and grey?" Ronon asked. Everyone laughed.

"I'll have you know, Scotland does have sun."

"Will you visit?" Teyla asked. "I would very much like to see the land of your birth."

Carson turned to her. "Aye, I would love to show it to you. I think we'll have time."

Teyla stood next to him, Torren in her arms. Ronon leaned against the railing next to her. John and Rodney were at the end, standing very close together. Teyla leaned in to say something.

"Do you think Rodney will go and visit his sister?"

"Maybe, I know he and Radek had planned on working on that wormhole drive some more and he was already thinking of what could be done now that Atlantis has a full complement of ZPMs. But I think John just might be able to persuade him. And who knows, maybe Rodney will get John to say yes."

"Yes?"

"To marriage. They can get married in Canada." He had explained to her about the United States military's policy on relationships between two people of the same gender.

"It's not allowed. There a few places in that country that allow marriages or legal partnerships for couples like John and Rodney. It's legal in Canada and a few other countries have the partnerships."

Teyla frowned. "Your world is strange. I cannot imagine not allowing two people who love one another to be together. We do not have such prejudices here in Pegasus. Love knows no bounds and any relationship that has been blessed by the Ancestors is welcome."

"I know, but we're trying to change. It's slow, but its happening."

"John and Rodney could have an Athosian joining," she suggested.

"I'd love to see you try and talk them into that," he'd said.

"Then perhaps we should drop some hints."

"Not just some, love. It will take an awful lot for John to give up his place here in Atlantis."

"Why would he have to do that?"

"He couldn't be a part of the military any more. Maybe he could find a civilian consulting job."

"I will have to work my 'feminine charms' as Sam put it. They have very rarely denied me anything."

"True, just let me watch, I would love to see their faces."

Teyla laughed, wrapping an arm around him. "I will try to make that happen."

"What are you two plotting down there?" John asked.

"Nothing," Carson said, trying to keep a straight face. He failed and both he and Teyla burst out laughing.


Ten months later, Pegasus galaxy.

"Twins!" Rodney said. "Why didn't you say anything?"

Carson was standing outside of the infirmary, tired but very happy. "We didn't want to jinx anything."

"I mean, I knew Teyla looked huge, but twins?"

"Rodney, just say congratulations," John said. "So, names, doc, give us their names."

"Hoping to win something in the baby pool?"

John ducked his head. "Maybe. Rodney's got more money on it than I do."

"Hey!"

"Rodney Halling Beckett, six pounds two ounces and Eliza Meredith Beckett, five pounds ten ounces," Carson said. "Born at ten-twenty five and ten-thirty respectively."

"Oh," Rodney said, flailing his hands about. John took one of them and squeezed. "Really?"

"Aye, we said we'd name our child for you, Rodney."

"But both of them, I—I—I don't know what to say, Carson."

"Thank you is usually appropriate," John remarked. "Eliza?"

Carson smiled, a touch of sadness reaching his eyes. "A compromise, Elizabeth Meredith seemed a bit of a mouthful for such a wee little thing."

"She'd be honored," Rodney said.

"I know."

"Can we see them?" Ronon asked.

"Let me go check," he said. He disappeared and returned after a minute. "Come on then, just for a few minutes."

He led them into the room where Teyla was recovering. Two small incubators sat at the end of the bed. Torren was sitting with his mother, pointing at his brother and sister.

"Baby."

"Yes, those are your siblings," she said. She smiled when her friends entered the room. Carson took Torren from the bed and sat in a chair next to hers. "John and Ronon, I would like you to meet your godchildren."

"Me?" Ronon said.

"Yes, I promised John that he could be guardian but as I have two children I will need another."

"Thanks," he said, hovering over the incubators.

"They're beautiful," Rodney said.

"I hope you plan on waiting before having any more," John said. "Not that kids are a bad thing, but…" he faltered.

Teyla smiled and Carson took pity on him. "We've decided three children is good enough for a while."

There was a small knock at the door. Everyone turned to see Mr. Woolsey standing there.

"I came to offer my congratulations. And I have some news."

"The IOA decided that sending Atlantis back was a bad thing?" John asked.

"They want one of our ZPMs," said Rodney.

"No, neither of those. It seems that there has been a bit of a regime change. Atlantis is no longer considered a military installation. They've decided that the military can and should stay, but it will return to it's original designation as a civilian outpost."

"That is good news, is it not?" Teyla asked.

"It is," Woolsey said. "They've also decided that certain rules will not apply. It seems that the two of you," he nodded to Carson and Teyla, "Are trendsetters."

"What on Earth do you mean?" Carson asked.

"The IOA will now recognize any marriage that is performed in the Pegasus galaxy. There have been applications that were previously denied that will now go through. And I'm told by Doctor Keller that your children will soon not be the only ones in Atlantis."

"Then the city of the Ancestors will be as it should, full of life," Teyla said.

"Yes, so it seems. I expect I will be overseeing quite a few marriages in the coming days. One last thing, for you Doctor McKay."

"What now?"

"The Canadian government sent over a copy of your marriage license. The United States Air Force is granting your request to be a civilian liaison, Colonel Sheppard. Your retirement will be effective once you appoint a replacement."

"Wow, that's….wow," John said.

"Yes, now if you'll excuse me, I have some arrangements to make."

Woolsey left. Ronon made his excuses shortly afterwards. John and Rodney stayed a little longer, talking with them about a small celebration. Jennifer came by to toss them out after a while. Carson sent a sleeping Torren off with Radek who'd come by to see the babies. They were finally left alone.

"They're perfect, you know." Carson said.

"Even if they were late in their arrival," Teyla said.

She'd been confined to bed rest for the last month of her pregnancy. When she'd past her due date, Jennifer kept a close on all three of them. Since neither mother or babies were showing any signs of distress, she wasn't in a hurry to deliver them by artificial means.

"The longer they stay there, the better their lungs will develop," she'd said.

It had been two weeks before Teyla's water had broken. There had been much cursing involved in the twenty hour labor. But in the end it had all been worth it.

"I just hope they don't get colic like their brother," Carson said.

"If they are, I am sure we both will be walking the halls of Atlantis."

Carson laughed. "I'm sure we will, love."

No matter what else life had in store for him, Carson was sure he would be able to face it. He had his family and friends in the city that was his home. Nothing else mattered.

The End
Notes
Very, very AU. Dialog taken from "Search and Rescue", "Outsiders" and "The Prodigal". Martin Gero, Allan McCullough and Carl Binder are responsible for those words; I've altered them some to fit my needs.