Running from the Wraith. Typical day's work, really, John thought grimly, triangulating on the jumper. He noted with some relief that Rodney was keeping up and keeping quiet. Probably breathing too hard to bitch.
A dart screamed by overhead, then another. Teyla stumbled ahead of them, and Ronon grabbed her vest and kept her upright, but then there was fire on their one and their six, blitzing through the woods, and they all hit the dirt. "Jumper is that way," John hissed, not even having to point.
"Water," Teyla said, nodding to ten. John nodded and they all scrambled in that direction.
They were in mature forest with thick canopies overhead and little undergrowth. Dim, shadowy, which worked against humans more than Wraith. Wraith-shadows flitted from trunk to trunk and it was all John could do not to fire on them. Then, brush, and they crashed through it into a stream.
Then they huddled together and were silent. A dart screamed over, heading toward the gate.
"Is--" Rodney started to say something. Ronon clamped a hand over his mouth. He nodded downstream and Teyla and John pressed back against the bank and aimed their weapons.
Silent. Too silent. No birds or bees. That was the creepiest part of a Wraith attack, that there weren't even insects, that universal hum of tiny activity. Everything hid from the Wraith. But Ronon heard something, his hand white-knuckled on his weapon, and after a moment John heard it too: a quiet splash, splash.
"Human," Teyla breathed. John wasn't all that reassured, because 'human' didn't guarantee 'friendly'.
The splashing stopped, and then the second dart passed overhead. "That's all of them," a man said. He was still out of sight. None of the team responded.
The man eased his way around a rock. "Do you know how to get to Osring?" he asked. Ronon tensed with interest behind John's back.
"No," John said.
"Is that your home?" Teyla asked.
The man took a few steps forward, palming his wet hair out of his face. "No," he said, and smiled.
"We need to leave," Rodney hissed into John's ear.
"Ssh," John hissed back.
"Do you know the address to your home planet?" Teyla asked.
The man looked down at something in his hand--something that looked an awful lot like a life sign detector, actually. "No gate there. I need to get to Osring, but right now, anywhere but here will do."
"This is stupid. You can take the gate on your own," Rodney said, a little too loudly. He snapped his mouth shut and glanced up at the sky.
"Why do you need to get to Osring," Ronon asked.
"I left my ship there," the man said.
"Stop standing on my foot," Rodney said, elbowing Ronon, and they all took a step apart. "Ship?" he continued. "You have a ship?"
"Yeah," the man said without elaboration.
John glanced at Rodney, whose face said "spaceship spaceship" in capital letters, then at Teyla, whose head was cocked at an angle of interest rather than threat assessment. John nudged her, raised an eyebrow, then made a ring with both hands--you know that address?
Teyla nodded. "Bring him," she whispered.
"We'll give you a lift," John said. "Colonel John Sheppard, Teyla Emmagen, Specialist Ronon Dex, Doctor Rodney McKay," nodding to each in turn.
"Captain Jack Harkness," the man said. "Pleased to meet you."
Rodney was going through Harkness's coat as soon as they hit the jumper. Harkness surrendered it to to him in a surprisingly mellow manner. The pockets were stuffed with shiny rocks and string, which tumbled out as Rodney rifled through them, looking for treasure. Under the coat, he was wearing black coverall without insignias of any kind, topped with a heavier waist-length jacket, and a large holstered gun. He was drenched in mud. Rodney snatched his life sign scanner; it was Ancient. The gun was not.
Teyla came up to stand by John's shoulder. "Should I take him to Osring?" John asked, sotto voce.
"No," she said. "I want to talk to him first."
"Alpha site it is," he said. The alpha site was a squat bunker in a place with a decent climate and a population that lived a long, long way from the gate. There was trust and then there was trust.
Teyla nodded and moved to the back of the jumper, where Harkness and Ronon were comparing weapons. "Armor-piercing bullets," Harkness was saying, "with depleted-uranium penetrators. Wraith hate these suckers."
Teyla picked up one of the rocks dislodged by Rodney's examination. "You are a trader?"
"I was doing some business and the Wraith showed," Harkness said. "I'd brought a guide with me because I don't know gate addresses, but the dart got him before we could make it to the gate. Got everyone we were trading with, too."
"How did you escape them?"
"I dropped down flat behind the gate. Even if they see you there, they can't shoot worth a shit and can't use the beams so close to the gate," Harkness said. Even with his back turned, John could see him gesturing.
"Yeah. But that only works for one guy," Ronon said.
"Yeah," Harkness said. "It does. I shot a dart down, but the other five picked everyone up and left me. I dialed the gate blind and ended up where you found me."
"That sucks out loud," Ronon said. He'd been picking up slang again.
"We're here," John said, parking them in the alpha site bunker's yard.
Harkness bore Rodney's extreme rudeness with grace and humor; he did not protest when Rodney appropriated the rest of his gear, including the gun, leaving Harkness only his coveralls and shoes. "I'll be right back with these," Rodney said.
"Will he?" Harkness asked Teyla in a low voice, smiling crookedly at her.
"No," she said. "But I will return them before you go. Come, let me show you the washing rooms."
There were great cities on Athos, towering with buildings as tall as any spire on Atlantis, left broken and echoing when her people abandoned them for the forest. Her father had taken her there, telling her to remember what they had lost and what they could one day regain. The Earthen constructions looked like those cities, spare and plain beside the wanton beauty of the cities of the Ancestors. It reminded Teyla of everything the human tribes had in common.
"Shall I call you Captain or Harkness?" Teyla asked the traveler. The bunker was unmanned at present, so they had the halls to themselves.
"Jack," he said. "Captain is a title. Harkness is my family name. I'm just Jack." He smiled, looking weary but friendly.
"Then I am Teyla. My family name is Emmagen. I am the leader of the Athosian people, but we have no title for it. What military do you fight for?"
"No military, any more," he said. Teyla raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "I use the title because I earned it," he said, raising an eyebrow back.
"What was your business on Osring? It is not widely traveled."
Jack smiled slightly. "It was a convenient place to leave the ship. It's very close to Alaeon," he said.
Teyla raised an eyebrow, knowing Alaeon well. She had not informed the Earthen people of that place yet. They would not understand.
"I am sorry for your loss," she said. "This is the washing room. There are towels to dry yourself and temporary garments to wear inside. I will wait for you here."
Jack opened the door, paused, then turned to her. "Come in. Please."
"The people of Earth have a taboo against women and men sharing rooms of this nature," she told him. They had a great many taboos, far more than the Athosians, and as their guest she made it her study.
"Well, they're not here. Please," Jack said. He was no longer smiling. His forearm, holding open the door, quivered with exhaustion.
Alaeon, she thought, and now he was lost, with only strangers to help him. She could not imagine being lost in such a manner, but Alaeon... she had been there once. "Very well," she said. She placed her hand on his shoulder, and they went inside the room.
They both dropped their filthy clothing to the floor in the outer part of the washing rooms, both soaked to the skin with river water. "Do you know if there were parasites in that river?" Jack asked. He ran both hands down his legs and through his hair.
"I do not know. Let me assist you." She examined his back, his groin, and the underside of his arms and knees. Many worlds were rife with parasites--worms, beetles, small fish, even tiny blood-sucking rodents that clung behind the ear--but it appeared that they had escaped harm. "Please," she asked, holding up her arms for examination.
It did not escape her that his hands lingered when he lifted her breasts to examine the crease. She caught his eyes, but he seemed only tired. She took his hand when he was finished and led him into the shower room.
Jack used the soap sparingly, but he stood for a long time in the hot rush of water that the Earthen people created so excellently. "I traveled a long way to visit Alaeon," he said. She would not have heard him if she had not been waiting for him to speak.
"Come," she said. "There is a resting basin." She turned off the water.
The Earthen people called them therapeutic tubs, but they served the purpose of the resting basin nearly as well as the more usual round sunken stone. This basin filled quickly from a sluice set in the side, surrounding them with clean water several degrees hotter than their skin. Teyla drew her knees to her chest and rested her chin on her knees to let her muscles relax; Jack did the same, leaning against the side of the basin.
"My family died a long time ago," he said, "and when I found myself alone, I enlisted in the army to fight those that had killed them."
"No. There isn't a gate where I come from. The Wraith never found my people. We found our own reasons to kill each other," he said, his mouth twisting. "I think they must all be dead. Even if they're not, it's not worth going back there. But the military got me off that planet, and I found a new place. New people--that I loved. Dearly," Jack said. He let out his breath and smoothed water across his face with both hands. It was a gesture of grieving on Alaeon, bringing the salt water to your face to mix with the tears that you shed. The waters at Alaeon were vast and shallow, warm and salty, threaded through with fingers of land. On the land, people from all worlds had built benches, cairns, simple piles of stone or steel or plastic. Clothing, weapons, all the trappings of your people were left on the land when you took the water. In the water, you were nameless. In the waters of Alaeon, the tears of all the Pegasus galaxy mingled. If you found you could not cry, all of Pegasus would cry for you.
Jack was silent, lost for the moment. "I took the water when my husband and my last surviving child died, many years ago," Teyla said. "I did not know if I could continue to be Teyla of Athos. But when I left the water for the land, I found that I still was."
Jack nodded. "We were separated," he said. "They thought I had been killed. I looked for my people for years--these two people, a man and a woman, I loved them--and the man is changed so much that I don't know him any more, and the woman has traveled beyond my reach."
"What did you find when you took the waters?" Teyla asked.
"That I made a home for myself when I was looking, and I should go back." Jack raised his hands to his face again, and when he lowered them, he was smiling. "Isn't it strange how that happens? When you find a place to stand for a moment, it becomes a home for a lifetime."
"Yes," Teyla said.
"They're taking forever," Rodney said. He was jittering in his seat, tapping one foot irregularly against the metal leg of the mess table. The life detector and gun sat in front of him, where Rodney had abandoned them as ordinary and boring. Teyla wasn't answering her comm.
"She said leave her alone, we're leaving her alone. She knows where the alarm is. It's the big red button every ten feet," John said.
"You Earth people just don't know how to bathe," Ronon said.
"Excuse me! I am clean!"
"Clean, sure. But bathing takes hours if you do it right." Ronon eyed the cabinet that held the food supplies. "Especially after a battle. But you're from Earth, you don't get it," he added.
"Are you saying that Teyla is off bathing a strange man? We should check on them," Rodney said to John.
"It's been fifteen minutes," John said. "Chillax."
That stopped Rodney dead. "Chillax?"
"Chillax, dogg," Ronon added, smirking under his beard.
"Chillax. Dog." Rodney stared from John to Ronon as if they'd both turned green.
"It's a hip-hop world, McKay," John said. "Try to keep up."
"I expected better of you. I don't know why, but I did. Our colleague is out there--" Rodney pointed furiously, missing Ronon by inches. Ronon batted his arm away, spinning Rodney at the shoulder. Rodney looked down, adding pain to his expression of horror and disgust. "Ow? My arm? I need it for saving your ignorant ass," Rodney said.
Ronon stood up. "Ronon," John said.
Rodney puffed up his chest. "*Rodney,*" John said. He sighed and pushed back his chair, wondering who put the testosterone in the canned orange juice.
Ronon only crossed his arms and loomed, though. "I went to level three school," he said. "I'm not ignorant."
"Well--all right," Rodney said, which for him was an apology. "You're not ignorant. We should see if Teyla is all right."
"I am all right. I am hungry," Teyla said. She and Captain Harkness walked in dressed in the green scrubs they stocked in the bathrooms.
They seemed...chummy. He wouldn't have thought it of Teyla, but the Captain was awfully cute. "It's just cans," John said, standing up to try to be hospitable, "but there's plenty."
"Perfect," Harkness said.
Crackers, stew, and orange juice was the best the bunker could offer. "So," John said. "Where are you from?"
"From? Jewel Harbor."
John looked at Teyla, who shook her head: No, she hadn't heard of it.
"By now it's probably radioactive dust anyway," Harkness said.
"Wraith," Ronon said.
"No," said Harkness, obviously surprising Ronon. "Us. I got out of there when I could."
"What's the address?" John asked.
"Your people developed space flight and then wasted it all blowing each other up?" Rodney cried.
"Yeah," Harkness said.
"That's why I left," Harkness said.
"And I haven't been back."
Rodney pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes.
"Could you show us your world on a map of the stars?" Teyla asked.
"No. I only know distance from the core, not the angle from the navigational axis," Harkness said. "You can't find crap on a star map without the navigational angle. I don't even know the distance from the galactic plane." He shook his head, but he didn't seem all that broken up about it.
And John knew what he meant. He thought he could pick Atlantis out of a star map--he knew all that business about the navigational angle, because it was the same system of 3-D coordinates that the jumpers used and he had it projected onto his eyelids eight times a day--but not Earth. It was strange to think of that, his planet, *home*, just one little rock in a galaxy full of them.
"So what were you doing on -- Osring, was it?" John asked.
"I left the ship there to take the gate to Pimant," Harkness said. "I would have flown, but Pimant has those anti-Wraith missiles aimed at anything in the sky--"
"Wait, what?" Rodney said.
"Pimant has very large guns that are somewhat effective against the Wraith," Teyla said. "Unfortunately, they think the people of Earth are a pollution in this galaxy and have sworn to destroy you."
"Oh," John said. "That's not good."
"I wondered why they were so tense," Harkness said.
"What were you trading?" Ronon asked.
"Nebbas from outside the gate system," Harkness said. "I wanted to get a music box."
"Cool," Ronon said.
Teyla caught John's eye and explained. "Nebbas is a decorative metal alloy found naturally in some planets outside the gate system. Many people use it to make jewelry." She pointed to the pink metal beads on her choker.
"My uncle knew a nebbas trader." Ronon said. "He had a converted Wraith dart."
"But you can't see where you're going in a dart," John said.
"Yeah. I said 'had.'"
"So if I can get back to Osring, I can get my ship and go home," Harkness said.
"Where's home now?" John asked. That was the point, the real point of all this chitchat. If they had spaceships--it would help.
Harkness looked down at his folded hands. "About that," he said. Teyla turned and looked at him intently. "I can't tell you."
"Because there are no Wraith in your home," Teyla said. It wasn't a question.
"I'm sorry," Harkness said to her. "I have to protect them."
Rodney slammed down a fist; they all jumped and looked at him. "Rodney," John said.
"Excuse me," Rodney said. He stood up abruptly, sending his chair screeching across the floor, and stomped out of the mess hall.
"Sorry," John said.
"I understand. I just can't help," Harkness said.
John checked his watch. 1600 on Atlantis's 20-hour day. "Yeah," he said. "Let's bunk for the night and discuss this in the morning."
There were plenty of rooms in the bunker--fifteen multi-use rooms, five staff--but Ronon followed John, apparently just to hang out. John didn't mind. He took out his iPod, handed Ronon one of the ear buds, and they listened to the Blind Boys of Alabama together for a while.
After dark, Ronon left and Rodney showed up. John dozed off fully clothed to the sound of Rodney typing.
Teyla put her clothing and Jack's black garment into the garment-cleaning machine in the women's washing room. "When my people left the cities, we left such conveniences behind. I confess that I have often wished for them," she commented to Jack.
"Escaping the Wraith?" he asked.
"Yes. We survived for many generations, losing few."
"I'm sorry," Jack said.
"I am not angry," Teyla said. She sat down beside him and deliberately turned her choker from front to back. It was a signal, a common one, and from the light in his eyes, she saw he recognized it. He leaned forward, and she seized the back of his head and kissed him.
She did not pair with people of her own tribe, because that would cause conflict among them. She did not pair with her team for the same reason, although Rodney and Ronon--but not John, not for women, at least--were passionate men and would, she was sure, be willing. And she did not have time to seek a companion among the others on Atlantis. She still did not understand their exhausting sexual taboos.
"Come," Teyla said. "Let us find a bed."
He murmured over her muscles, tracing the strong cords of her arms from wrist to breast. They knelt together on the bed, clean and warm in the yellow glow of the bedside light. He was pale, sun-darkened only slightly on his face and hands. Clearly his people did not live in the forest. His hands were rough but his feet were soft.
The hair on his body was trimmed in a way that her father would have said was ridiculously fussy, but Teyla had traveled enough to appreciate smooth skin. She rubbed her chin across the bristle of his groin and he made a pleased noise; yes, that sensitivity was worth some fuss.
"You first," Jack said, turning her onto her back.
She came twice before he released her hips. She stretched across the bed, luxuriating in the pure and simple pleasure that her body was capable of.
"Goodnight," Teyla said, turning her face into the pillow. Jack nipped her finger and she laughed. He was hard, flushed, and eager, crouched on his elbows and knees beside her.
Jack leaned across her body and brushed his cheek against her ribs. "I'm fertile, I think," he said. A common offer. A common concern when every tribe struggled to stay alive.
Her tribe was diminished. It was her duty to attempt a child, especially with a far outsider with fresh seed. But she had given birth three times before and left three carved stones on the mourning fields of Athos, and the thought of a fourth--
She met his eyes. He had taken the waters so recently, he still tasted of the salt of a galaxy's tears. She had taken the waters and decided that she was her father's daughter and the leader of her people. She nodded, bringing his mouth up to hers, and met him with a fresh passion.
She was slippery from the attention of Jack's mouth, but she felt every motion of Jack's penis within her with clarity. He kissed her endlessly, her mouth, cheeks, her neck, the end of her nose. A child, she thought. It brought duty to pleasure, tied her responsibility to her people up with the simple joy of sex with a beautiful man.
Jack bit his lip and changed position. He tilted her hips up and she slid a leg up over his shoulder so that the seed would find her womb more easily, which also had the effect of increasing her pleasure. It was inextricable, she thought, and she smiled.
"Once more for the diamonds," Jack said. She laughed--it was an old, ribald joke, the story of the virgin girl and the flower full of diamonds. He stroked her just above her clitoris, seeking the deeper shaft for a more subtle pleasure, inviting her to climax with him if she was able. She was able, once more, but she knew better than to check her ears for diamonds. She laughed, and so did he, as his seed pulsed inside her.
Teyla rested with her knees drawn up. She pulled Jack's head to her shoulder and stroked his thick, dark hair. "I would not wish to see you again," she said, and he laughed. "I would be obliged to seek a treaty for access to your ship and weapons. But for one night, you may simply be very attractive."
"That's good. I'm better at that anyway," Jack said. She curled around him, her cheek against his forehead, her knees resting on his hip, their hands clasped together between them, and she slept.
Harkness was the second one up, not long after John, which didn't surprise him at all. John was sipping coffee in the mess when Harkness strolled in. "So," John said. "Cards on the table?"
"You mean honesty?" Harkness said.
John shoved a cup of coffee across the Formica table top. "We need anyone with technology above the Stone Age. The Wraith are kicking our asses."
"I just fly the ships, I don't build them."
"You have a ship with an interstellar drive."
"That I can't give you," Harkness said. "It's taken because I'm taken."
"We could just keep you," John said.
"I'm a hard man to keep."
John weighed the look in his eyes, the weight of years and wars, and knew that was just truth. "Like I said. Cards on the table."
Harkness offered his hand and John shook it. "When I heard you down there on the planet, I hoped you were the Genii," Harkness said. "I wouldn't be tempted to help them out."
"Does anyone like the Genii?" John asked, and Harkness laughed.
Rodney wandered in a few minutes later, tracking the smell of coffee. "Oh. Hi," he said to Harkness.
"Will my spare gun repay your hospitality?" Harkness asked. He winked at John.
"Yes, I'd like that!" Rodney said.
"Yeah," John said. "That should do it. Teyla says she can get you to Osring."
"Much obliged," Harkness said.
Two years later, Teyla came to breakfast with a string of numbers on a small piece of paper. "I wish to contact Captain Jack Harkness," she said. "He assured me that this would reach him." There had been sincerity in his face when she said it, and she believed him.
Rodney picked it up. "Looks like a phone number," he said.
John looked over his shoulder. "Does not."
"For *England,* American chauvinist pig," Rodney said mildly. He hadn't had enough coffee to put any heat in it.
"The rest of the coordinates are on the other side," Teyla pointed out. "I am to open a gate to this address and encode those numbers as simple beeps. Then, he tells me, I shall reach him."
"Cool," John said. "Around noon early enough, after the check-in for team four?"
"If Rodney believes that the machinery is capable of something so primitive," Teyla said, raising an eyebrow at him.
"Uh-huh," Rodney yawned.
In fact it was simpler than that. The gate technician sent the series of machine beeps for her, offering to be her "secretary." It was not a word she had heard before, but it made her transmission go very smoothly. Elizabeth stood beside her, smiling at this unexpected diversion.
"This is Atlantis for Captain Jack Harkness," said the technician.
"This is Harkness. You have a secure line. Wait--Atlantis?"
"Jack," Teyla said.
"I wish to invite you to Atlantis. I have a pleasant surprise for you."
A pause. "I can be there in eight hours with my crew. Will you be ready?"
Elizabeth leaned in to the communicator. "How large a crew?"
"Five including me."
"Then yes. You will be welcome on Atlantis," Elizabeth said.
"I will be glad to see you again," Teyla said.
"I'm so happy I'm already there. Harkness out," Jack said. Teyla smiled as the gate connection was broken.
Teyla was frowning at John's hair. "This is the traditional hairdo of my people," he said, hoping she wasn't going to spit on her hand and try to smooth out the cowlicks like his mom. She kind of had that look.
Teyla gave him a look that said she wasn't buying a syllable of it, but let him be. She looked amazing in a floor-length embroidered tapestry coat and foxy little leather ensemble underneath. Harkness wasn't going to know what hit him. Elizabeth was next to them in a business suit and actual heels. John felt shabby as all hell in his fatigues, but it wasn't as if he packed his dress blues.
"The craft has entered the atmosphere," Control said. "Plenty of room if they can maneuver at all."
"He can maneuver," Teyla said. John elbowed her and she laughed naughtily.
Ronon was mooching around the hallways behind them, peeved, and Rodney was with him, so it was just the three leaders and a half-dozen Marines, just in case. They were standing under the arches at the entrance to Atlantis. Before them, the massive dock stretched out over the water. It was large enough to hold the Daedalus; the ship that landed was tiny in comparison, like a bicycle in a Mack truck's parking space. It came to a full stop some hundred yards away.
A hatch opened in the side, extending a staircase to the dock floor, and Harkness stepped out with four other humans behind him. One of them was wearing a hoodie. John frowned.
Both parties walked towards each other at a brisk pace. "Welcome to Atlantis, Captain Harkness. I'm Dr. Elizabeth Weir," Elizabeth said.
"Greetings from Torchwood," Harkness replied. Behind him were a woman in a hoodie and sneakers, a woman in jeans and high heels, a man in a three-piece suit, and a man in a leather jacket. And Harkness--he was in a WWII Royal Air Force uniform, complete with tie and hat, if John knew his uniforms, which he was pretty sure he did.
Elizabeth was giving Harkness's people the eye too. "I think I'll need some explanation before I let you in, though," she said.
"Torchwood, operating on behalf of the United Kingdom in interstellar affairs." Harkness grinned broadly. "Counterpart of Stargate Command, though we don't have a Ring of the Ancestors. Authorization omicron-omega-four."
"Did we seriously just travel across two galaxies to get bounced at the door?" one of Harkness's crew muttered to another, who shushed him.
"No. I recognize the authorization," Elizabeth said. "How did you get here in eight hours from Earth, without a gate?"
Harkness's grin grew, if possible, even broader. "We all have our secrets, Dr. Weir." He winked at John. "I was born in Pegasus and settled down on Earth. Happens more than you think. I couldn't tell you that I worked in Wales because our government hadn't told your government we exist yet. Are we cool?"
"I suppose we are," Elizabeth said, sounding exhausted. "But I'll be telling Stargate Command that Torchwood can get to Pegasus in eight hours, you may be sure of that."
"Wouldn't have it any other way," Harkness said, and he tossed his hat at the man in the suit--who caught it--ran the few steps to Teyla, and swept her up into his arms, spinning and kissing her at the same time.
"Oh, that's a proper hello," another one of Harkness's crew said to the one in the leather jacket, punching him in the arm.
The one in the suit stepped up to John and Elizabeth. "I'm Ianto Jones."
"I'm so glad you called," Harkness was saying.
"This is Dr. Toshiko Sato," Jones said, indicating the woman in the jeans and heels.
"I have thought of you often," Teyla was saying.
"Dr. Owen Harper," and that was the guy in the leather jacket.
"What's the surprise?" Harkness asked.
"Come," Teyla said.
"And Gwen Cooper. Excuse me," Jones said, as Harkness grabbed his hand. John raised his eyebrows and followed them inside the building.
"Jesus," Cooper said. "I didn't know the Americans had a base in outer space." She looked amazed by Atlantis, so John liked her.
"Technically we're international," John said. "I didn't know the Brits had resident aliens."
"More than you would suspect," Cooper replied.
"Most of them disgusting," Harper said behind them.
Teyla, Harkness, and Jones ran into Rodney, Ronon, and Junior as they turned the corner. "Oh my God," Harkness said.
"Your daughter," Teyla said, putting Junior in his arms.
"Oh my God." Harkness slid down the wall and landed on his ass with Junior in his arms.
"Bah!" Junior said, and hit him in the chest.
The child's father was watching her with amazement as she yanked on the buttons of his coat. They had retired to Teyla's quarters, which were spacious enough to accommodate her team and his. Ronon stood reproachfully at the back of the room.
The young man called Ianto sat on the arm of the couch beside Jack and the others stood behind them, all rapt in the child. She looked strongly like Teyla, but one could see her father in the darkness of her hair and the bright green-blue of her eyes... and then, of course, there were her strong, sharp, new teeth. Teyla bled before she learned when to yank the child from her breast.
"What is her name?" Ianto asked Teyla.
"I called Jack so that we might name her together. It is our custom to wait to name the child at least until it begins to speak, so that we may know the child before naming it." And so that they were not so attached, should the child die. Many infants died before their naming. Ronon still thought it was too early.
"We've been calling her Junior," John said. He and the rest of her team were holding back to let Jack see the child, all but Rodney, who was hovering beside Teyla. He was always terribly concerned that someone might drop the child on her head.
"Teyla Junior seems appropriately feminist," Rodney said.
"No," Teyla told him again. She had already explained that naming a child after a living person was terribly bad luck, but Rodney was never good at remembering the customs of other cultures.
Ronon crossed his arms and frowned. Teyla frowned back. She suspected he was not only upset about the naming, but also jealous of Jack, that Jack had been the one to get her with child.
"Myfanwy," Owen said, and the two women beside him beat him sharply with their fists. "Ow! Hey!"
"We're not naming my daughter after the base pet," Jack said. The child abandoned his buttons and climbed upright to pull on his tie. "Look at that, she can undo a Windsor!" He lifted his chin and laughed.
"Rara bara mo boo," the child said stoutly. She dragged the knot of his tie down the length of the cloth, then turned her attention to Ianto. She climbed his knee and stood on his thigh, where he held her upright. Beside Teyla, Rodney made a distressed noise.
"Minerva," Ianto said. The child grabbed for his nose, and he took her hand gently.
"Venus," Gwen said. "She's going to be stunning."
Jack smiled. "Goddesses," he told Teyla. "Venus is a god of beauty and Minerva of wisdom."
"And war," Ianto said. "She wears armor and carries a spear. Your daughter is very bold," he said, as she pulled on his ear.
"Really can't have enough war gods on our side," Ronon said, speaking for the first time since Jack's arrival.
"Ma!" the child yelled. She reached toward Teyla and made the motions for milk, so Teyla took her from Ianto and pulled a blanket over her shoulder, to make the Earth people comfortable. She took Jack's hand, and he rested his cheek against hers, gazing at the child as she fed. He was a beautiful, beautiful man, she thought. She had chosen well. Perhaps better than she initially thought.
"Shouldn't you be clawing her eyes out about now, Ianto?" Owen said mildly. Ianto jumped to his feet and Owen backed up, smirking.
"Hey. Ianto, come here. Owen, if you start a fight on my daughter's naming day, I will end you. Got it?" Jack wiggled his fingers and Ianto took his hand, though he still glared at Owen.
"Your lover?" Teyla asked. Jack nodded.
"Wait, what?" Rodney said.
"I'm not jealous. Look at her," Ianto said, leaning over Teyla and the child.
"You're doublesexed?" Ronon asked.
Jack sat up warily. Teyla pulled her breast from the child's mouth and looked to Ronon; she didn't know his views on such matters. "Yes," Jack said, holding Ianto's hand against his shoulder.
"That's good luck," Ronon said. "Extra dose of female strength for the baby. Sorry," he said to Teyla, "I didn't know. I guess it's okay you're naming her so early."
She smiled with relief. "Minerva, of house Emmagen, daughter of Teyla. We will name her tonight."
"What do you mean, extra dose of female strength? He's a *man*, or he wouldn't have knocked her up," Rodney said.
"That's really simplistic. I thought you were smart," Ronon said, and Jack threw his head back and laughed.
The naming was kind of cool, John had to admit. Everyone Teyla knew made a big circle, then Teyla knelt in front of Junior and told her her name, and then her closest relations gave her a blessing. For Minerva, this meant Harkness's team, Teyla's team, and Halling. It didn't have to have a special form, Teyla said, so John just put his hands on the baby's head and said, "Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," and Teyla smiled while Rodney tried not to choke on his laughter. Halling had a whole speech about the strength of the tribe being the strength of the people; Rodney air-drew the sign for infinity on her forehead; and Ronon cut off a dread and tied it around her neck.
Harkness just kissed the baby on her forehead. John could swear he saw a weird glow, though, and wondered what was up with that. Jones touched the baby's face and said something in another language, which John guessed was Welsh. Cooper told the baby, "Be twice as smart as your father and half as brave." Harper said to the baby, "See the universe, miss the wars." And Sato said something to the baby in Japanese.
Then there was cake and booze. "We can't stay," Harkness told John and Teyla. "I wish we could, at least for a couple of days." He kissed the top of Minerva's head again; she was sleeping in his arms, and Jones was tipsily leaning against his shoulder.
"Atlantis is very pretty," Jones said, straightening up and straightening his tie so that he nearly passed for sober.
"Well, you're not going to drink and fly," John said.
"Sober as a judge." Harkness held the baby close, again, and pressed his cheek to her hair; then he gave her back to Teyla. John helped him round up his team. Sato was making out with Rodney, which made them both say "huh."
"I have something for you," Harkness said, when they had his team loaded into the ship, more or less sitting in their seats. He poked a panel on the underside of the ship. It lowered, revealing a ZPM. "Amazing what washes up on foreign shores."
"That's also very pretty," Jones said, listing against Harkness's back again.
"Sit down before you fall down, Ianto." Harkness handed John the ZPM. It glowed, happily, promising energy and shielding and years and years of life.
"Yes sir," Jones muttered. He lurched up the stairs into the ship.
Harkness shook hands with John, kissed Teyla and Minerva one more time, and climbed back into his ship. Then they were gone.
"Good choice in baby-daddy," John said, watching the ZPM glow. "Dibs on telling Rodney."
"In your dreams," Teyla said. "But you may carry it." And she led him back into the building, daughter on her hip.
The next time Teyla saw Jack, Minerva was beginning to speak. "Daddy!" she yelled when she saw him, well-learned from pictures.
"Who's my girl? Who's my little girl?" Jack asked. "Are you my girl? You can't be my girl! You're too big!" He tossed Minerva into the sea-salted air and she shrieked with delight.
His companion, Ianto, opened the hatch of the ship. "We brought another present," he said as he pulled out a small but heavy box.
He opened the box and withdrew the head of a Wraith queen. Black blood coated her lolling tongue. "It wasn't easy, but we gave her what-for in the end," Ianto said.
Teyla kissed Ianto's cheek; the young man dropped the box in surprise and the head rolled out, coming to rest at Elizabeth's feet. Elizabeth looked appalled, but she was an alien. She didn't understand.
"My baby's going to grow up big and strong, big and strong, big and strong," Jack sang to Minerva. "And no grotty Wraith will eat her, no not one. Not a single one, not *my* girl."