Forty days and forty nights,
Didn't it rain, children.
Not a speck of land in sight,
Didn't it, didn't it rain.
-Elemetary My Dear (1973), Schoolhouse Rock/Multiplication Rock
Words, Lyrics, and Performed by Bob Dorough
For forty days the elder Noah traveled upon uncharted waters with his family with nothing more than two animals of every kind and his faith.
He stepped into the unknown and trusted that he and his would come to no harm and that in the end, they would find a new land from which to thrive.
At least that was how Teyla understood the story when Airman Seifert told it to her. She'd listened politely to the earnest young man then spoke to John.
“I'll talk to Seifert,” John had said. “He shouldn't be trying to convert you.”
Teyla had merely held up a hand and said, "John, it is fine. I would like to see this story for myself."
From an early age Teyla had been taught that having a working knowledge of a potential trade partner's beliefs could be very handy.
Like say when you were trying to make a trade for duvala fruit and happened to show up on the fifth day of the seventh month during the Red Hearted moon on Mashtul.
John wisely directed her to Chaplain Innohof who gave her two translations of the Christian holy book. She'd thanked him politely then sat down and read the story of Noah and though some of the more fantastical elements left her smiliing, she still understood what it meant to pick up your family and your people and move to a whole new life.
As she watched the activity below her from her vantage point on the balcony above the gate room, Noah was on Teyla's mind.
John stepped up beside her and slipped is arm around her waist.
"You've been busy," she said gently. "Is everything ready?"
He pulled back. "As ready as we're going to be. We should be getting our first beam in right about now."
John barely finished when the flash of an Asgard beam lit up the gate room Then Carson called out, "Alright, everyone, step lively!"
Medical personnel swarmed over the four men holding a stretcher. Teyla followed John down the stairs arriving just as they deposited the badly hurt patient on a waiting gurney. Her eyes widened as she took in the pale and ashen face of Colonel Stephen Caldwell. One of the soldiers handed off the IV bag he'd been holding to a medical tech before coming to attention and saluting when he saw John.
"Major Davis," John said as he sketched out a quick salute.
Teyla remembered Major Paul Davis from her last visit to the SGC well over a year ago. The shadowed features and slightly rumpled uniform were a far cry from the sharp intelligence officer she'd met previously.
"Colonel Sheppard." Tired blue eyes lit upon Teyla and Davis nodded at her. "Miss Emmagan." She returned the gesture. "Daedalus is right behind us but we thought it best to send Colonel Caldwell on the Odyssey."
John nodded. "I'm glad you did. Carson's team is set to take anyone who needs immediate attention."
Davis straightened as though a load had been taken off her shoulders. "Thank you," he said softly.
“Colonel, would you and your men care to rest a while?" Teyla asked. Davis took a deep breath.
"If it's all the same to you, ma'am, I'll wait for the rest of the injured to come down." His voice drifted off as though he didn't know how to continue. John stepped into the breach.
"We've got you covered," he said. "Odyssey has the south pier, Daedalus and Apollo, North and West respectively."
“Apollo has what's left of Sun Tzu's crew," Davis said dully. "Just before we jumped out of the solar system, we ran into a mine field and they took a hit. We were able to get some of them before the ship went up.”
The news sank dropped like a stone among the suddenly quiet personnel. she and John steadily avoided for the past several weeks.
"Hammond," John asked, voice steady.
"We don't know," Davis replied. "They were covering our final retreat when we lost contact just past Titan."
A phrase from a Terran poem rose in Teyla's thoughts: This is the way a world ends. She wondered if elder Noah thought the same thing when he stepped aboard his ark.
"Stargate Command this is Atlantis. Come in Stargate Command. "
There was a blast of static then Chuck tried again. "Stargate Command this is Atlantis, come in."
Chuck looked at his board before he turned to John. "The gate's open and we have a connection but no one's answering.”
The last databurst two weeks before had carried news of a fast moving infection that was on it's way to becoming a world wide problem. Though everyone tried to keep a brave face, it felt too much like the tense times during the Prior's plague before Janet had returned from another dimension with a cure.
"I don't like it." John nodded at Chuck.. "Call Homeworld Command. Send this code: Alpha-seven-seven-fifty five-delta.” Looking at Teyla, he said, "That'll put us through direct to O'Neil's office."
The stargate locked back into position and Chuck said, “Homeworld Command, this is Atlantis calling for General O'Neill."
The sound of explosions poured through the speakers before Jack's voice came on. "Atlantis, this is General O' Neill. Listen carefully. We are under attack. I repeat, we are under attack." More explosions and then, "...Lucien Alliance hit us. There was ...*crackle* something...lockdown..."
The signal cut out abruptly. "Shut down the gate put the shield up." John shouted. As the gate winked out, John turned and looked at everyone in the control room, their faces a mix of shock, horror and anger. Rodney had his arms wrapped around himself and Zelenka pushed his glasses up his nose, his lips pressed together firmly.
John activated the city-wide comm. "Attention Atlantis, this is Colonel John Sheppard. The Nightfall protocol is now in effect. Again, Nightfall is now in effect. Report to your respective departments for further instructions. Sheppard out."
He took a deep breath, desperate to stop the rolling his stomach, then said. "Until we hear otherwise, we're on our own. I want to see all the department heads in the main conference room in an hour."
Nearly two weeks flew by before the days began to feel a little less like organized chaos.Teyla sat in a corner of one of the balconies, a large mug of tea at hand.
"You look about as good as I feel."
John sat down, a fully laden tray landing on the table between them. He took a moment to scoop some food into his mouth, but from the way he chewed, Teyla could tell that he was barely tasting it. “I am tired but things are finally settling down.” Some of the ship personnel were on the mainland helping bring in the harvest with the Athosians. “Any more for today?”
John pushed his food aside and reached out to touch the back of her hand before tangling her fingers with his. "Another meeting with Ellis and Prashad from the Odyssey. Davis is going to stand in for Caldwell." His eyes met hers. "You haven't asked.”
"I did not know if I wished to hear the answer," Teyla replied truthfully. "I am torn between the hope that Cameron somehow survived and the reality that perhaps he did not." Her heart clenched and John squeezed her hand lightly.
"I don't want to think that he's gone either," John said. He looked as though he was going to say more but fell silent instead, his thumb running over her knuckles. Responsibilities both personal and professional effectively separated the three of them in a way that no set of orders ever could. More than once they'd all three agreed to disagree rather than argue, tumbling in the bed in a flurry of flying flung off clothing.
"It started with a rock. At least that's what the scientists said," Caldwell said quietly. Teyla's promise to keep an eye on him was the only thing that made Carson consent to him coming to the meeting at all. Once that was settled, John, Rodney, Teyla and Ronon, joined Caldwell, Ellis, and Prashad as well as Major Davis in one of the unused operating rooms near the infirmary; Carson was determined to have his charge withing shouting distance at least.
"Like what, an asteroid?" Rodney asked. "The long range sensors should have picked that up."
"We did pick it up, McKay," Caldwell replied. "When it appeared on our sensors it was already coming in too fast for anyone to do anything. But it wasn't all that big and everyone who looked at it thought that it was just a rogue that had come around the sun or something." He sagged back against his pillows and Davis took up the narrative.
"It was supposed to break up in the atmosphere," Davis said darkly. "Mostly near the launch platforms north of Johannesburg."
"This was significant?" Teyla asked and Davis nodded.
"There was a sizable city that had sprung up near the base, the population numbered in just under a million. At worst a few large chunks of rock would come down but well away from the base. Everything was fine until people started to get sick."
"The databurst three months ago said something about disease,” John said.
"We lost more than half of Umkhathi Idolobha in 72 hours with the rest following by the end of the week, although there were some parts of the continent that had less exposure. By the time efforts geared up in earnest to try and get a handle on it, it had spread around the world." Davis replied. He stopped, fingers ghosting over the top of the table as though he was trying to find the words.
Ellis picked up the story.
"I was on the Apollo near Titan when we got word that Lucien Alliance ships had transited in-system. By then it was clear that the timing was too coincidental." He looked around the room, arms folded across his chest. "They drew a picket around Earth, cutting us off. The other ships were able to get between them and the planet and it looked as though there was going to be a standoff. That's when the Alliance representative called to let us know what was what."
"The Aschen created the plague and used the asteroid for a delivery system. It burned up but the particles still spread into the atmosphere," Caldwell said. "Payback for something SG-1 had done during their last encounter plus they had former Ambassador Faxon." He snorted. "A couple of those bastards were on the Alliance ha'tak."
The name sounded vaguely familiar. "I read the after action report from this mission," John said, his brow furrowed. "Faxon as lost when the deal with the Aschen fell through."
Davis nodded. "We couldn't discount the possibility that Faxon'd been compelled to give up whatever information he had while he was with the Aschen." He took a breath then continued. "When the call came from the Alliance, they told us as much. So we weren't looking at just an invasion, we were looking down the barrel of a very long gun."
From there, the news only grew worse. The Alliance hit Stargate Command first, leveling most of Colorado Springs in the attack before moving on to picking random targets around the globe to make their point. Homeworld Security had been hit last, which accounted for O'Neil's garbled message before Atlantis had lost contact with Earth. Earth's warships, though potent, were no match for the sheer number of the Alliances ships that circled the planet. They'd fought until they couldn't fight any more and made the horrible decision to leave Earth behind. They had to see if anyone made it through to the Alpha site but even that proved almost impossible. The Alliance ships kept up a running battle with the 303s all the way to the outer planet, steadily herding them out system.
Teyla's hand reached beneath the table and to the side, tugging one of John's into hers. He resisted at first then he softened squeezing her fingers lightly but not letting go.
Words Left Unsaid
The last time Cam was in Atlantis, he and John fought. Teyla walked into their quarters just as John shouted:
"...and no, maybe I don't understand but I'm not exactly getting just why you're dragging your feet with this!"
"Are you kidding me?" Cam stalked into the room from the balcony with John hot on his heels. The two men didn't notice her, squared off as they were with each other. "I told you, I can't just up and leave."
John put his hands on his hips, hurt and frustration write large on his face. "Small words then. Why won't you come out here?"
Cam took a deep breath, his hands on his hips. "I have people depending on me," he said slowly, biting each word so they came out clipped. "My parents, the Sodan. *My* team." He leaned right into John's space. "Yes, that's right, my god damed team, John. SG-1." Cam rocked back on his heels, throwing up his hands. "But I guess that doesn't mean shit to you. All you want is for our happy little threesome and you don't see anything but that!"
"Well, I guess that's because I actually give a shit about our happy little threesome as you call it!" John roared back. "In fact maybe we can just get along without you."
John's words felt like a body blow. Something must have made them realize that someone else was in the room because two sets of eyes, one brown, one blue, both beloved, turned toward her. "Shit," Cam whispered just as John stepped forward, one hand outstretched. "Teyla."
She held up a hand, stopping him. "I...I have to go get Torren from Rodney," she said steadily and turned on her heel, walking back out the door.
Teyla made it down to the lab and caught up Torren in her arms. "He's in one piece," Rodney groused and she reached out and ruffled her hand through his hair. "I know, Rodney."
He looked at her closely. "Are you okay?" She smiled tightly
"I am fine. A little tired." Torren kissed her cheek with a smack. "Ma!'
"Indeed, I am ma," she said. Waving to Rodney, she walked out of the lab and went to the mess hall to get something to eat for her and her boy. She took the table nearest to one of the windows since Torren loved to watch the seabirds wheel by. "Your patas are fighting again, bright boy," she said softly, chucking Torren up under the chin. He laughed and applied himself to his food under her watchful eye.
"Looks like the two of you ore set for some food." Cameron's drawl made her look up. He nodded toward the seat across from her. Teyla held out a hand and he sat down, sliding his tray on the table in front of him. He didn't start eating right away, however. He sat quietly, watching her and Torren with hooded eyes.
"How much of that did you hear?"
“Enough." She took a quick sip of her drink. "Cameron, the two of you are like sheshen with bones. The more you pull, the more the breaks."
Cam sighed. "Tell that to Mr. Sensitivity." He picked up a muffing then put back on his tray. "Sorry, that was a cheap shot."
"As was your argument," she shot back.
"I don't want to leave Atlantis like this."
“Cameron, I understand what you mean. Balancing responsibilities is something that I know very well but it does no good for the two of you shout at each other."
"I can't get him to see..."
"Your way?" she said with a small sad smile. Reaching out, she covered one of his hands with her own. "When I was still leader, may would come to me to try and decide what would be best when it came to living together. Close quarters can make for a lack of understanding."
Cameron chewed on a celery stalk thoughtfully. "Yeah. Plus John and I are two of the worst communicators in the history of the world." He looked at her. "Doesn't mean I want out."
A tiny knot loosed in her breast. "I know you do not want out. Torren would have to break in a new pata if you did."
John was deep in Atlantis' systems, doing a few tweaks here and there. Maintenance work was calming. The only other person who had a deft touch with the chair interface was Miko Kusanagi. The two of them would switch off depending on how much work needed to be done.
Besides, John thought to himself distantly as he //pushed a relay to make water filtration work better// moved with in the system, it took less time to think in this space.
He moved into //swam upstream through lines of data// the satellite systems. Rodney and the rest of the science team used some of Daedalus' extra parts to do repairs on their own long range satellites the least of which meant that he could go through the lines of code and tweak them here and there.
The blip caught his attention.
//There's something// There was another blip and this time, John reached // spun down a long filament of compressed data stream// for it, throwing it towards //a net like diamonds// one of Rodney's screens. //What is that?//
A brief pause then Rodney's voice came back warily. //Ship? Maybe two//
//I'm coming out//
John swam //long strokes up and into the light of day// out of the chair, taking a moment to reorient himself as he came out of it. "Hey."
Miko reached out a hand which John took gratefully. He waited until he was steady on two feet before he moved away from the chair. Miko bobbed her head and slipped into it, her face taking on the slack look that was characteristic of deep concentration.
"What was that?" John asked, running his hand through already unruly hair.
"Definitely two ships," Rodney said. He tapped on his tablet and shook his head. "They're actually still far out but they don't look like Wraith."
"Could be. It's not like we've seen all the ships in their fleet."
Teyla met the two on their way to the control room which was in a flurry of activity. "Both ships are inbound for this sector of space but..." Zelenka began. Rodney rolled his eyes and said,"But what?"
Zelenka waved a hand at the monitor. "At least one of them is looks to be a Goa'uld ship."
"The Alliance?" John asked tightly. He looked at Rodney then tapped his radio. "Colonel Caldwell?"
“We've got two ships inbound, one looks like it's Goa'uld."
Caldwell's sharply bitten curse mirrored John's own feelings. "I'll get Ellis and Prashad."
Rodney looked up. "I'm going to cloak the city. They're on a direct course so better safe than sorry" John nodded and made for the control room. Teyla met him on the way.
"Rodney told me," she said. “What do you think it is?”
"I'm not sure,” John said tightly.
"What do we know?" Ellis asked when they arrived in the control room. Teyla noticed that he'd finally adopted his own version of Atlantis' basic working attire - fatigue pants and a black sweater. He'd put aside his flight suit finally as had most of the other ship personnel.
"Two ships inbound," John said. "Rodney's cloaked the city."
"He said one was Goa'uld.," Prashad said. "Are we thinking Alliance.?"
"How long before they get here?” Caldwell asked out loud
"Less than two hours at the rate they're hauling ass in system." Zelenka replied.
He was about to say more when Chuck called out. “We've got an incoming message."
“Put it on speaker,” John said.
"Atlantis, come in please. Honestly, you'd think that you'd actually have the welcome mat out for an old friend."
Teyla looked at John. "Can it be?"
John's lips twitched to a smile. "It just might.” He motioned to Chuck to move aside and said, “Are you here to have coffee or are you here to steal something. We've locked up the silver."
The reply was instantaneous as was the laugh that came with it. "You know me so well. This is Vala MalDoran, late of Earth. Inbound for Atlantis.."
"Vala, this is John Sheppard."
"Ah, yes, how are you, darling? Be a dear and put out a beacon or something. Oh and I have another friend with me. Their comms are a little dodgy which is why I'm doing the talking but someone has a message for you: "Flyboys do it upside down.
"That's Mitchell, Cam's on the other ship." John said, the joy barely concealed in his voice. The room burst into cheers as he said, "Vala. There's room for you on the West pier. We can take you both there."
"Fine, wonderful. See you soon. MalDoran out."
Hope blossomed in Teyla's chest and from the look in John's eyes, it had as well for him.
The first ship that landed was definitely Tau'ri in design but it was vastly different from previous incarnations, sporting deep gray hull plating that was almost black. When it touched down, everyone held their breath. The hatch opened and when the first person stepped out, John and Teyla were running. Cameron met them halfway, his arms coming around them both in a tight hug.
"You made it. We didn't know. Didn't think..." Teyla said as she pulled back from Cam. She held his face in his hands, staring into his tired eyes. He leaned into her touch, turning his head just enough to kiss her hands.
"I almost didn't. I got lucky." Cam nodded at the ship he'd come out of. "I was able to get the Amanda Garrett out of drydock in Antartica and her stealth shielding up so we could make a break for it. Swung by the Alpha site and met up with Vala and everyone else." He blew out a breath then said, "After that, it was a matter of making our way here under half power. There's still a few bugs to work out."
He and John looked at each other and John leaned in first, brushing his mouth over Cam's in the briefest of kisses. "Yeah, more of that later," Cam said and John smiled. "But I've got some people here who I think you'll be glad to see."
Cam stepped to the side, not letting go of either John or Teyla. It was as though it didn't matter that all the other colonels were there. He was holding on to both of them with a light but possessive grip.
Janet Frazier came down the ramp next. "John, Teyla, hello."
"Dr. Frazier, it is good to see you," Teyla said feelingly.
"Hiya, doc," John added. His eyes swept over her. "You're a little late." Janet nodded.
"We didn't think we'd get here at all," she said. "The mountain was under attack and we dialed the alpha site. Or what we hoped would be the alpha site. The computers weren't acting right so Walter dialed in and hoped for the best." She looked behind them. "Only about fifty of us made it out."
"The gate cut out when the last person came through," Janet continued Her lips pressed together in a firm line. "We tried to dial back but we figured that that was it and the mountain was gone."
More people came down the ramp - soldiers, civilian personnel. Then another pair came down the ramp.
"Oh my," Teyla breathed as she took in the forms of Teal'c and Samantha Carter. A sleeping girl child was tucked neatly in the crook of Teal'c's other arm.
"They made a bombing run at the main Aschen/Alliance installation near DC." Cam said.
"Colonel Sheppard, Teyla Emmagan." Teal'c bowed his head and Teyla returned the gesture. She looked at Sam and then the sleeping girl.
"And this is?" Teyla iquired gently. Sam looked down at her and Teyla knew that look, fierce love and devotion, having worn it herself.
"Our daughter, Malan," Sam replied. She reached around and stroked her fingers down the light brown cheek. Malan fidgeted but settled back down when Teal'c hitched her a little higher up. "We'd thought when they lost the mountain," she shook herself unwilling to even finish the thought. "After Cam got us out and we went to the Alpha site, we found out that Janet had her."
"I grabbed her and ran," Janet said ruefully. "Malan gave me an earful for leaving her bunny behind but I figured there had to be someone in the galaxy who could either find us one or make it."
John chuckled, his voice wavering. "I think we might have something in Torren's things." And Teyla smiled again, nodding.
"He has much and will be very glad to share them with another."
"What does a body have to do to get some attention?"
Vala came striding up with an older couple. Teyla reached out and hugged her. "You made it here. I think that can be attention enough."
Vala hugged her hard, not letting go for a moment before stepping back. Cam let go of John and Teyla then, stepping around Vala to draw the older couple behind her forward. The minute Teyla looked into the man's eyes, she knew.
"Oh, Cameron." she said. John looked a bit shell shocked as well.
"Mom, Dad. You know John and this is Teyla," Cam said.
He paused and his eyes went to Vala, who shrugged and said, "As I told you before, Cameron, I love your mother's pie."
She tossed her head and walked away jauntily. Wendy Mitchell looked after her fondly.
"Miss MalDoran came knocking on our door and pretty much scooped us up along with Mr. Haikon and his people."
Frank Mitchell leaned on one of his crutches and held out his hand to John. "Hello John, it's been a while."
"It has, Mr. Mitchell." He prodded Teyla forward and she took his hand. He smiled at her then leaned toward his wife. "She's as pretty as Cameron said."
John and Teyla both looked at Cam then only to see him regard them back steadily. "What?"
"Well, on one of his visits home, Cameron told us that he was involved with the two of you. Mind you, he left out the part about going to other planets and that you both were living in another galaxy," Wendy said, giving Cam the eye. He ducked his head but his eyes were dancing.
"In any case," she continued. "We got quite an education when Miss Mal Doran showed up."
"Was there any one else from your town?"
Both of them shook there heads. "Almost everyone in town took sick," Frank said. "Cam had told us to stay put and he'd try to send help."
"Mr. Haikon, oh I should say, Lord Haikon and the rest of his folk came to the house and they took care of us and made sure we were okay until Vala came." Wendy leaned over and whispered, "He looks very good for being a couple of hundred years old."
Cam snorted. "Ma's jealous."
The group laughed and trooped down the ramp toward the knot of bittersweet celebration. The three hung back to give everyone else time to go before them.
"We thought you didn’t make it," John said. He turned toward Cam who held still. "Don't do that again."
"Like I had a choice." Cam shot back. "You'd haunt me from the after life and back." He hugged Teyla to him again, one hand running up the back of her neck and into her hair, dipping his own head forward so their foreheads touched. "I'm not going anywhere."
It was almost a week later when the community of Atlantis stood around the gate room. Those that had them dressed in their best clothes or the equivalent. Teyla and a small contingent of Athosians who had not gone back to New Athos after Michael's depredations stood in two circles around a bier. But instead of a body, the bier was covered in small trinkets from Earth - a flag patch, a vase. Someone had put a blanket in addition to other items. There were a few pictures but most of personal pictures people had were now taking up space on a memorial wall in the south wing.
It was Katie who'd approached Teyla to do the ring ceremony for those lost. "I remember when you did the ceremony for Charin." she said. “Could you do this for us?”
The Athosians had been more than eager to offer their expertise, carefully crafting a ceremony that would suffice.
When Teyla stepped forward, John and Cam stood with Torren between them off to one side side of her. Neither of them would sing ("In a bucket or without, I can't sing a lick," Cam said.) but Teyla wanted them with her as well as Torren. This was his heritage and perhaps one day he'd perform a ring ceremony for someone he loved.
Teyla looked around the room then centered herself and began to sing.
Much later, once Torren was in bed, Teyla held out her hands and was pulled into the bed that had been too long not fully filled. She kissed and was kissed, touched and was touched. The city would be there when they woke in the morning and then would begin the painful but necessary process of building from the ashes. And she wanted to sit down with Halling and the others to talk about adopting Cam's parents as well as the Sodan into her house. But that was tomorrow. Tonight, she had the two men who she'd given her heart to and would lay down her life for and they would for her and for each other.
Noah had once faced the same decisions. When old world was swept away, the new one held so much promise. Tomorrow was time enough to begin.