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What Mr. Woolsey Saw

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Richard sat at one of the many tables set around the main fire, mug of Athosian ale in one hand. Jinto’s coming of age ceremony had been beautiful and touching, and he was honored to have been asked to be part of it. He watched several of the young man’s age-mates, as Halling had called them, who had already been through their own ceremonies gather around Jinto, the girls looking at him shyly. He’d have quite a report to fill out for the SGC’s anthropologists once he got back to the city.

Halling sat down next to him, his own mug of ale in hand, and he nodded toward his son. “It was a good ceremony,” he said, smiling fondly at the tall boy who was now leaning against one his male friends. “Perhaps soon, we shall be celebrating a joining as well.”

“Joining?” Richard stared in consternation at Jinto. Surely he wasn’t old enough yet? But then, considering how short the lifespans of the people here, thanks to the Wraith… but still. “Jinto is so young, how can he know…”

Halling chuckled. “My son is, indeed, not quite ready for that step, though I can see the beginnings of his cognatio even now.”

Cognatio?” Richard knew that Ancient and Latin were very similar, but this one, he was having trouble with.

“It means… family group. But among my people, it means… the knowing.” Halling nodded toward the two young women who had moved closer to Jinto and the young man standing with him, along with a third who stood behind them now, effectively cutting the rest out. “The people that you know… will be your family. Those five have been together since they were children, and when they are ready, there will be children again.” He met Richard’s shocked eyes with a smile. “The larger the parent group, the better the chances an adult from the cognatio will survive a culling to raise any surviving children.”

“Is that what happened to you? To your… cognotio?” asked Richard, turning to study Halling’s face.

Halling sighed and looked down, contemplating the ale in his hand. “There were three in my cognatio,” he said softly. “And we were contemplating adding a fourth. We had four children, Jinto was the second youngest. Two men and a woman came through the ring, the woman was with child and she was very ill. Jinto’s mother was a midwife, and she went to help her, hoping to save the baby, but…” he shook his head.

“I’m sorry,” Richard said, able to guess the rest.

Halling nodded. “The two men buried their woman and wanted to settle with us, but by nightfall, they were both ill… and so was Jintal.” He looked up, his eyes distant with memory. “It took three days for Jintal to die. And with her, a great many of our people. That was two years before Sheppard and his men came through the ring.” Halling’s eyes moved to where Sheppard and McKay were standing near the fire, Teyla and Ronon sitting on a log close by. “I wonder if we will have a joining soon, within Sheppard’s cognatio.”

Shocked, Richard looked again at the two men who stood just close enough to brush arms from time to time, though their heads inclined together as they talked, and they bumped shoulders every once in a while. “Sheppard has a cognatio?

“Yes,” said Halling, amused again. “I think, however, you call it a team.”

Richard snorted even as his heart ached. The last message burst they’d gotten from the SGC had said the repeal was basically a done deal, but Sheppard was still being careful, and McKay was just as militant about guarding their privacy. Richard would never tell them that he’d already quietly dealt with the three soldiers and two scientists who’d tried to file reports about their “inappropriate conduct,” and Colonel Caldwell had turned out to be a surprisingly good co-conspirator on that front.

He watched as Teyla leaned forward to tug at Rodney’s hand, laughing up at him as she handed him something from the plate in her lap. He could remember at least one time when his lead scientist and military commander had not been quite so careful…

It had been a long day. Hell, it had been a long week. Discovering three planets that had been almost completely razed by the Wraith was bad enough, but finding out that Keller had been trying, unsuccessfully, to convince the Chief Science Officer of the expedition to leave Atlantis and return to Earth was even worse. Richard had found himself filing out a number of reprimands among the engineering staff for depriving Dr. Keller of hot water for her showers, messing with the environmental controls of her quarters so that they were either too hot or too cold, and causing the lights to come on in the middle of her sleep cycle. When it got to the point that he had to reprimand the kitchen staff for adding habanero sauce to her oatmeal, Richard called the woman in for a meeting and suggested that it might be in her best interests to return to Earth as soon as possible.

“Me?” Keller stared at him, her mouth hanging open with shock before she recovered. “Why me? Why should I be the one to return and not the people who’ve been screwing around with me?”

Richard sighed. “Because you are the one who is unhappy here,” he said, trying to be patient.

“I… don’t understand,” she said, frowning in puzzlement, and Richard sighed, rubbing his forehead, trying to push off the headache that was pounding through his head.

“Doctor, I know about your argument with Dr. McKay,” he said finally, looking up to meet her eyes frankly. “Everyone knows about your argument with Dr. McKay, which is why they are, as you put it, screwing around with you.”

Keller huffed and crossed her arms across her chest. “He’s just being stubborn and resistant to change. Believe me, Mr. Woolsey, he was talking all about how he’d like to settle down and teach a doctoral level course in physics at a university when we were on leave!”

Richard heaved a sigh. “Dr. Keller, can you really see Dr. McKay at this point in his life voluntarily taking a position at a university? Dear God, woman, can you not see how bad an idea that is? He is happy here.”

“He complains all the time,” Keller protested, “believe me, Mr. Woolsey, he is not happy here!”

“Complaining is his default mode,” said Richard, who had actually taken the time to get to know Rodney’s staff. “It’s when he’s not complaining that you have to worry.” He folded his hands together on top of his desk and fixed a keen eye on her. “Dr. Keller, what is really going on here? Why are you so determined and eager to return to Earth? For a while there, you put a great deal of distance between yourself and Dr. McKay. In fact, most of us thought you had finally decided to end things between you. Then all of a sudden, you won’t leave his side and you’re insisting that you both return to Earth. What. Happened?”

Her face went pale, but she tossed her hair back with determination. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I love Rodney, and I was very busy, if you remember, coming up with a treatment for stomach virus that swept the city. Rodney was one of the few who didn’t get it, because I stayed away from him!

Richard snorted. “McKay didn’t get it because he was resistant to it,” he said dryly, and tilted his head to eye her. “I did not want to bring this up, Dr. Keller. I waited for you to volunteer it, but you’ve danced around it long enough. I couldn’t help but notice that you returned your attentions to Dr. McKay after Sgt. Mehra was killed.” He watched her gasp and tears begin to fill her eyes.

“You’re wrong!” Keller said adamantly. “You… how could you say such a thing! She was my… friend, but…she had… she had nothing to do with… how… what would make you say such a thing?”

Richard studied her for a long moment, then stood. “Very well, Dr. Keller. Come with me,” and he came around his desk to grip her arm, forcing her to her feet and making her walk with him.

“Stop it!” she started to shout, and he pulled her around to face him.

“I would suggest you cease this ridiculous behavior, Dr. Keller,” he said quietly. “That is, unless you want Dr. McKay’s minions who work up here in Control to hear you and plot yet more ways for you to suffer?”

Her mouth clamped shut, two red anger spots appearing high on her cheeks, and Richard nodded and pulled her along.

She waited until they were out of the gateroom and in one of the quieter corridors to demand, “Where are we going?”

“There is something you need to see,” Richard said, bracing himself, and sure enough, she started to struggle again.

“I don’t need to see anything!” she said desperately. “Rodney loves me, Mr. Woolsey. He loves me!

“Yes, of course,” Richard said grimly, not letting go. “That’s why he came to demand why you were ignoring him.”

Keller gasped, then said, “He knew why I wasn’t seeing him! I was exposed to the virus every day, I didn’t want to run the risk of infecting him!” She tired to pull away. “He’s important to this city! We couldn’t risk him getting sick!”

“Really? If he’s so important to the city, then why are you suddenly so eager to get him away from it? Or is it a who you want to get him away from?” He pulled her down the corridor he’d seen them going down earlier, hating that he was having to do this. Richard just had to trust in his ability to find them, hoping that because he wanted to find them this time, it wouldn’t fail him.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Keller all but wailed, trying desperately to tug her arm free. “What…?”

“Hush,” he said, listening intently. He heard it again, the soft murmur of voices, male voices, and he turned to glare at her. “One last chance, Jennifer,” he said forcefully, staring into her frightened eyes. “One last chance to come clean.”

She stared at him, then shook her head in denial.

Hating himself, Richard dragged her closer to the door of the little balcony, clamping a hand firmly over her mouth as he used her own arm to effectively restrain her against him. All those hours with Ronon were paying off.

“God, Rodney… you feel so good,” they heard Sheppard say. “Why? Why’d we wait so long?”

“Because we’re both stupid,” McKay said, his voice shaking. “Because your military is backwards and stupid, and then that parasite ate my brain and… and… John… more… give me more…”

“Always,” Sheppard said, and they heard a squelching sound.

Jennifer struggled and he felt tears running over his fingers. She was still fighting him. Richard sighed, and edged them both around until they were angled so that they could both see through the doors.

The moons were full, and they could clearly see Sheppard sitting on the floor with McKay straddling his lap. Both men were naked, and there was an open tube of lubricant visible on the floor by McKay’s knee. They were pressed tightly together, Sheppard looking up as he kissed McKay’s throat… no, thought Richard. They’re not Sheppard and McKay right now. They’re just John and Rodney. John kissed his way up Rodney’s throat, one hand on Rodney’s back, the other working lower down, and it wasn’t hard to tell, by the way Rodney squirmed, what that hand was doing.

Richard could feel Keller whimper softly against his hand, but he held her ruthlessly in place. She would never believe if it she couldn’t see it. He had to destroy any hope she had of coming between them.

Rodney shuddered and moaned, “John,” and John chuckled smugly.

“Found it,” he said as Rodney shuddered again and gasped.

He swallowed thickly, then said, “Now…. now, dammit… I’m ready…”

“Yeah, you are, baby,” John said, and pulled his fingers out. Rodney reached for the bottle and poured some of the contents into his hand, then reached down between them, and John gasped and groaned. “Rodney… don’t make me come yet…”

“Fuck, you’d better not,” Rodney said, and he dropped the bottle, lifting up on his knees. Both their hands were busy under Rodney for a moment, and then Rodney slowly lowered himself, gasping a little.

“Okay?” John asked gently, kissing his throat again.

“Yeah, just… oh, God,” he said suddenly, and Richard saw John’s hand had gone down between them, clearly gripping Rodney’s cock and working it gently.

Keller gave a small sob as Rodney moaned and eased the rest of the way down. “John,” he said, his voice different now, “John… I need… I need…”

“I’ll give you everything you need, Rodney,” John said, staring up into his lover’s eyes. “I love you… I love you, Rodney…”

“I love you, John,” Rodney said plainly, cupping John’s face in his hands and leaning forward to kiss him. “I always have, even when I was being an idiot about it. I love you… love you…”

Keller moaned, and Richard pulled her back as the two men started to move together, John’s hands holding steadily on Rodney’s hips as Rodney whined needily, leaning down to kiss John again and again. Richard pulled her away, and back up the corridor until they couldn’t hear the two lovers any longer, and she wasn’t fighting him any more, moving passively at his side until he was able to set her down at his desk again. Tears were flowing down her cheeks, and he reached into his drawer for a clean handkerchief, handing it over and then getting her a glass of water, setting it where she could reach it before sitting down.

After she was calm, she looked up at him. “Why?” she asked softly.

“Because self-deception isn’t a pretty trait,” Richard said bluntly. “Because you were quite blithely ruining three lives without caring one bit about the consequences. You were very well aware it would have killed both of them, and it concerns me, Dr. Keller, that you didn’t care.”

She sipped the water and tossed her hair back as she stared at him. “I do care about Rodney,” she protested.

“No,” he said firmly. “You don’t. Because if you did, after you realized he was in love with John, you not only would have bowed out, as you so clearly did, but you would have done everything you could have to all but shove him into John’s lap. I think you were prepared to… and then Dusty Mehra was killed.”

Jennifer Keller covered her face with her hands, and Richard waited as she fought the grief back. Then it came out, and it was very ugly, indeed.

“He killed her! He killed her! She’d be alive if he hadn’t insisted that she go on that mission!” Jennifer raged, her eyes flashing dangerously. “She wasn’t supposed to go, but that stupid Baker! And all because I threw a tray of sutures and bandages at him when he was being such a fucking wimp! Baker blamed her for it, and the fucking idiot never realized she was the one who kept me from going after him and he went and deliberately broke his arm, right in front of her, because he knew she’d have to go in his place!” She stood up and began to pace. “And Sheppard… Sheppard insisted!

Richard touched his earwig while she paced and raged, saying very softly, “Dr. Biro to my office, Dr. Keller is having a mental breakdown.”

“On my way, Mr. Woolsey,” the doctor said calmly, and Richard reached under his desk to alert the control room staff.

“She’d be alive if it weren’t for them!” Jennifer was insisting, her face a mess of tears. “So I punished Baker, and I was going to punish the Colonel by taking what was most precious to him away!”

Richard frowned. “You punished Baker? How did you punish Baker?” He, of course, knew the true story of how Corporal Baker broke his arm, since he was there when it happened. “Dr. Keller?”

She smirked. “He’s not immune to nanites,” she sing-songed, doing a little dance.

Richard toggled his radio. “Dr. Zelenka, I think Corporal Baker would benefit from an EM burst right about now. He’s infected with hostile nanites.”

“Right away,” said Zelenka just as Dr. Biro and two Marines came into Richard’s office.

“What?” said Jennifer, frowning with surprise when she spotted them. “What’s going on?”

Biro didn’t waste any time. She walked up to Jennifer and jabbed the syringe into her arm. Whatever it was, it was fast acting. Jennifer hardly had a chance to open her mouth before she was wilting into the waiting arms of a Marine, who swept her up and deposited her on the gurney that was waiting outside.

Biro turned to Richard. “Did I hear something about Corporal Baker and an EM burst?”

“She implied she’d infected him with nanites,” Richard said grimly. “I didn’t want to take a chance.”

“Fuck,” Biro said, shaking her head. “I knew she was slipping, but I hadn’t realized it was that bad. We’ve been keeping an eye on her, Mr. Woolsey, but she’s… tricky.”

“She’s dangerously intelligent is what she is,” Richard said, watching as the young doctor was strapped carefully to the gurney. “And she’s grieving.”

Biro frowned. “Grieving? For whom?”

“Sgt. Mehra,” Richard said sadly.

The doctor’s snort startled him and he blinked at her. “What?”

“Mr. Woolsey,” Biro said carefully, “Jennifer Keller may look sweet and innocent, but she’s not even close.” She looked back out where the Marines were waiting to wheel the gurney away. “She told Mehra to fuck off after two days, said she wasn’t a fucking lesbian, and she had her sights on a much bigger prize.”


“McKay,” Biro agreed. “Dusty was in love with that manipulative little Barbie doll, and she kept trying, but…” she shrugged. “I think that’s why Dusty volunteered for that mission when Baker broke his arm.” She sighed and went to the door. “I suggest we send her back to the SGC for treatment.”

“Agreed,” said Richard, shaking his head as he watched them go. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” he said softly, and went to his desk, sitting down and reaching to open a bottom drawer. He pulled out a bottle of bourbon and a shot glass and poured himself a shot, knocking it back. “They’re not paying me enough for this.”


Richard looked up, shaken from his contemplation of the past and found Teyla smiling down at him. “Sorry, were you speaking to me?”

She smiled. “Torren wishes to know where his pater avos has been hiding!”

“Well, then,” said Richard, standing slowly, thanks to the ale, “I guess I’d better go see the little man, then.”

Teyla smiled fondly at him, then reached up, laying her hands on his shoulders and closing her eyes expectantly.

Surprised, Richard bent down and touched his forehead to hers, surprised at the intimacy of it. Then she took his hand. “Come, Richard, your family awaits you.”

It took a moment, but he realized she was right. They were his family, all these people that he had grown to know, and found himself very fond of. Even Sheppard and McKay.

The two men were watching him as he drew near, and Torren launched himself at Richard. “Woozy!”

“That’s right,” said Sheppard with a grin. “Grandpa Woozy is here, TJ. Let’s get this party started!”

Laughing ruefully, Richard sat down and let Torren climb in his lap, taking the skewer that Ronon handed him and poking it carefully through the ritual marshmallow before helping the boy hold it over the flames. As they all began to sing Torren’s S’Mores Song, Richard thought perhaps he didn’t need to write his memoirs after all.

His best legacy was here, in this place, with these people. His family.

And maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

The end