|we were never good soldiers (or very good fighters)
Carson cleared Teyla - the first woman on Atlantis to get pregnant, after they'd been in the city two and a half years - for gate travel through at least the sixth month, but at 8 months and counting, she was still suiting up for missions with the rest of AR-1, at least until John said, "All right, that's it, I am not taking you through the gate like that."
Teyla crossed her arms across her chest, and every man in the gate room backed up; even the Marines were a little intimidated by her on a good day, and since she had demonstrated that she could still beat them at even their own games, even when she was eight months pregnant, intimidation had slid a little toward fear and a lot toward respect. No one was going to step between John and Teyla, not even if she couldn't fasten her vest shut anymore, not even if she had to rest her arms on her stomach when she crossed them.
"If anything happens to you or the baby," John tried again, "Ronon would eat me for lunch."
Teyla raised an eyebrow.
"Ronon, make her go back to her quarters and see that she stays there," John said, in his best I'm-the-military-commander-of-Atlantis voice, the one that no one actually listened to unless death was on the line.
Ronon, who handled the idea of becoming a father with a great deal of grace and Zen calm, stared at his wife, who had shifted her level stare from John to him. Ronon stared at his Teyla, stared at her round, full belly, and said, "But how am I supposed to pick her up?"
Teyla glared harder. John hid behind Rodney.
She went on the mission, covered John's six, and kept them all from being blown apart by natives with energy weapons like the Wraith. She smiled at John after they were home, serene and smug, and John said, "Point taken."
She went off-world with them every trip until the day her contractions started in the gate room and they scrubbed the mission, but before they did, John said, "Teyla, we can go if you want."
Teyla said, "No, I think not," and then her water broke.
Ronon and Teyla's son was born on the mainland, surrounded by Carson and four Athosian midwives, all of who made Carson nervous. Teyla called their boy Tegan, after her father, and when John and Rodney came to visit Teyla and Ronon and the baby after they were back in Atlantis, Teyla smiled up at John and said, "His second name will be Aiden."
Ronon turned his head away from her when she said that; stared at the wall of their quarters and ran his fingers over his gun. Teyla said, gently, "He was a good man, once."
"He saved my ass from you," Rodney said, and Teyla covered her mouth with one hand, stifling a laugh, and John took his own turn staring at the ceiling, grin tugging on the corners of his mouth.
The baby was tiny in Ronon's hands, and he hardly ever put the kid down. AR-1 went on stand-by for six months, never traveling as a team -- John going out with other recon teams, sometimes, and Rodney consulting on just about everyone else's projects. Teyla trained with the Marines and spent a lot of time sleeping, probably for the first time in her life, curled up around the baby on the handmade Athosian bed Halling had built for her and Ronon when they'd married.
Ronon got a sling from the Athosian women on the mainland and wore the baby strapped to his chest whenever Teyla was sleeping, when he ran and when he sat in meetings with John and Lorne and Elizabeth and when he ate in the mess. For all John was certain that underneath Ronon's calm exterior, he had been terrified of having this child -- once Tegan had been born, Ronon was completely unwilling to let the boy out of his sight.
Sitting across from Ronon in the mess when Tegan was four months old, Rodney said, "If you let your wife take care of that kid for a while, I'm sure she wouldn't hurt him." John pinched Rodney right above his knee, because nobody was trying to tell Ronon how to raise his son except for Rodney, and Rodney was going to get beaten into a pulp if he didn't stop trying.
Rodney glared at John, and Ronon glared at Rodney, and then he shoveled another spoonful of milk (from the goats that the Athosian were breeding on the mainland) and soft, well-soaked bread toward Tegan's mouth. The kid got his hand into the bowl and smeared milk into his hair, and then he got his other hand around the spoon with the next mouthful that Ronon tried to feed him and flung milk and soggy bread straight into John's face.
Rodney laughed until he slid off the bench and onto the floor, and when John had wiped the mess from his face, he said, "When he's old enough, he can have a place on any team in Atlantis that he wants."
Ronon smiled, and shoveled another spoonful of milk toward his son.
The baby was placid, as though genes were enough to pass on Teyla's unflappable calm and Ronon's stoic quiet. He had huge eyes and he was the first baby born in Atlantis -- near Atlantis, Rodney always corrected -- in thousands of years, and the city lit up for him, even without the gene. Tegan watched everything from the sling on Ronon's chest, staring at the world around him with the same sort of interest that Rodney gave to Power Bars and unique energy signals.
Everyone who'd stayed on Atlantis more than a year had found their own tiny, dysfunctional support systems among the people in the Pegasus Galaxy, but it took Tegan, and Ronon and Teyla's obvious devotion to him (to each other, to AR-1), to make people see what they'd found as families.
"Teyla was married before," Ronon said to John one day. John was running atmospheric tests for the meteorology department, up in a jumper floating over the ocean, and Ronon had come to keep him company. Elizabeth had Tegan, who was six months old -- all the women and half the men in the city had scrambled to take babysitting duty after he'd been born -- and Teyla was beating Marines up. Ronon was stretched in the co-pilot's seat like a lazy cat, seemingly without anything better to do.
John said, "Really?"
"Long time before you showed up," Ronon said. "They marry young, the Athosians." He was quiet for a couple of minutes, and then he said, "I was married, too."
John said, "Really?"
Ronon talked more the longer he was in the city -- as though he'd forgotten how to find the words he wanted, and human contact filled his mental vocabulary again -- but he said nothing personal. Teyla told stories, Athosian fables with a personal twist. She smiled when she was asked questions. "It was a long time ago," Ronon said. "I buried those ghosts when the Wraith sent me back there. We both got a second chance. Some people married between cultures -- Athos and Sateda, we never did. Not between ourselves or with anybody else. I knew Teyla's father, by reputation, the kind that slides through the ring between worlds and turns to legend."
"You're a legend yourself," John said. He pulled the jumper up into the clouds, the light shading into dark, and Ronon's face fell into shadows.
"Only because I survived," Ronon said. "We didn't think, bringing a child into this world. We should have thought."
"There's nowhere in the world," John said. "In the galaxy, in any other galaxies -- it's never safe. You just -- keep going, I guess, and protect the people you love the best you can."
Ronon grunted, and his mouth twitched. "Thanks."
"Never tell McKay we had this conversation," John said.
"Don't tell Teyla," Ronon said.
John said, "Soldier's honor," and flew them home.
Tegan learned to walk at nine months, and to climb anything that could be climbed at a year; after that, nothing was safe in the city. Teyla was steady and cool-headed about the whole thing, which everyone but Rodney appreciated, because having a screaming mother added to the mix when Rodney was already howling about whatever the kid had gotten in to would have just been too much.
Tegan was almost 18 months when John sat with Teyla in the mess, watching the kid toddle around the room, climbing onto benches and destroying half a dozen Marines' lunches by slinging them to the floor. Teyla was drinking Earl Grey, which she wouldn't have admitted under pain of death that she liked, and John was shoving bright pink mashed potatoes around his plate idly, when Teyla said, "Rodney would like us to allow Dr. Beckett to complete the gene therapy on Tegan."
Tegan pulled a plate full of the mashed potatoes down onto his head, and Miller grabbed him around the waist and turned him upside down while Tegan smeared the pink stuff into his own hair and giggled. John dropped his fork into his own smear of food with a splat. He said, "McKay wants you to what?"
"Agree to allow Tegan the gene therapy," Teyla said, as though John was particularly slow today. "He says that growing up using the technology, Tegan will be a more -- intuitive user than the rest of us."
John smeared lines across his potatoes. Teyla said, "He is, is he not, more Atlantean than the rest of us?"
"Who, Rodney?" John said.
Teyla smiled indulgently at John and nodded her head across the mess, where Tegan was still shrieking with laughter and covering not only Miller, but now Sgt. Glass, too, with pink potatoes. "I was speaking of my son," Teyla said. "You have the blood of the Ancestors, and the Athosians, and Ronon, are natives of this galaxy where the Ancestors settled -- where they died. But Tegan is the first to be born here, in many generations."
"I hadn't really thought about it," John said.
"No," Teyla said. "I do not believe that many people have. Only Rodney, and now myself, and perhaps you. I simply -- it is a blessing to have a child. I had not considered it beyond the fact that we have been blessed."
"Rodney's like that," John said. "Makes you think about lots of things that you don't really want to think about."
"Such as dying in many … creative and disturbing ways," Teyla said.
"Nothing like Rodney's neuroses to make you consider your own mortality."
Teyla said, "There is nothing like having a child to make you consider your own mortality."
John tapped his fork against the edge of the plate and watched Tegan run, screaming with joy, around the mess while three Marines stomped after him. "I think someone famous said that once," John said.
"I am not famous," Teyla said. "I am simply stating a fact."
"Never mind," John said. "He's a good kid, Teyla, and he's got a whole city looking after him. Tegan is going to be fine."
"I am not worried about Tegan," Teyla said. "I am worried about myself. My father's death was not a surprise -- but had I been culled by the Wraith before he was, I do not believe that he would have ever forgiven himself. I fear for myself."
The first time, after Tegan was born, that Teyla came through the gate injured, Ronon punched a hole in a wall outside the infirmary.
"I didn't know that the walls could ... wow, it's just like drywall, only so much better constructed," Rodney said. "The Ancients really were brilliant -- genius doesn't even begin to cover it --"
John said, "Rodney."
Rodney said, "Oh, sorry, sorry. Sorry, Ronon -- she's going to be fine. Head wounds bleed a lot, they're never as bad as they look," and that was true, because Teyla could have come through the gate on her own two feet, if Ronon had let her. It was an arrow graze, and on a scale of sprained ankle from falling off a barrel while attempting to look in the windows of a building forbidden to visitors (Rodney) to accidentally being culled by a Wraith dart and ending up with Cadman in his head (also Rodney), it was closer to the former than the latter.
Ronon punched another hole in the wall. Tegan was two years old, and Teyla gained an interesting scar across her forehead that fascinated Tegan.
The first time, after Tegan was born, that Ronon came through the gate injured was even worse.
Tegan was almost three, and was tall for his age, almost too big for Teyla to pick him up, but she did, and he buried his face against Teyla's neck while she stood in the infirmary with John and Rodney and Elizabeth. Surgery, Biro said, to repair the muscles the beast had shredded in Ronon's back, and weeks of therapy to strengthen the knee he'd dislocated. But they'd been trapped two days after it had happened, while Rodney tried to fix the gate so they could dial home, and even surgery and therapy seemed dangerous and frightening, standing there.
Ronon was always the last one standing -- the first one in, the last one out, no matter how many times anyone tried to explain that he didn't have to be, anymore, and he'd been the first one into the face of something that looked like a wild boar crossed with a panther. Ronon hit the ground like a stone before John could get a shot off, and the wormhole had disengaged before Rodney could realize that the crystals in the DHD weren't the right ones.
First one in, last one out, and always the one who hauled the rest of them out of the fire.
Teyla and Ronon had been fighting beside them for more than five years -- Ronon had gruffly shoved pudding cups at John and Rodney in the mess the week before, five years to the day since Carson had extracted the first chip from his back -- and Teyla had never gone so pale beneath her skin before this. Not when John had shot them all, on the planet with the Wraith phantoms -- not any of the times they'd been under siege in the city.
She stood next to Elizabeth, Tegan clinging to her neck, and she looked small and fragile and scared.
John and Rodney sat cross-legged on a bed and played gin for six straight hours while Biro and her team reconstructed Ronon's knee. Elizabeth asked a question about the ins and outs of orthopedic surgery, and Rodney, in the process of winning 18 dollars, 47 cents and half a Twix from John, snapped, "Do I look like I wasted my time in medical school, Elizabeth?"
Teyla shifted Tegan, asleep in her lap, onto the chair beside her, and she smiled at John and Rodney, at Elizabeth curled uncomfortably in a chair across the room. Then Teyla burst into tears, which was the scariest part of all.
Ronon walked with a limp for almost three years afterwards.
John convinced Lorne to hide a requisition request for a gold-handled mahogany cane in their orders for the Daedalus, and when it arrived, Ronon -- who was still confined to bed except for therapy sessions (and Biro was insistent that letting his wife whack him with sticks was not therapy) -- took one look at it, snorted, and handed it to Tegan, who promptly cracked John right in the kneecap with it.
Six months after Ronon started running with John again (eight months after Biro put Ronon's knee back together), Teyla resigned from the gate team.
John didn't press her for reasons. She gave them to him anyway.
"Everyone is a stranger to Atlantis, still," Teyla said to John casually, one afternoon, over lunch in the mess. "But we were strangers more than most, and it is not surprising that we found each other. This is our home. Where we found each other, and where we have raised our child. As long as the residents of Atlantis remain friends to the Athosians, Ronon and I will remain here."
"Family's what you make of it," Ronon grunted, and then dumped his chicken tetrazzini into his meatloaf and smashed them together with the back of a fork.
Tegan, happily tearing around the mess, was across the room, trying to climb Stackhouse's back like a mountain. John watched them and realized that Stackhouse had been in the first wave of Marines, who'd come through the gate with Sumner 10 years ago. One of six who were left, not counting John -- and Stackhouse laughed, tipped Tegan over his shoulder and hauled him, giggling, across the room upside down.
"Family's what you make it," John said. Teyla smiled at him before she shifted her gaze back to Tegan, surrounded by Marines and shrieking with joy, and John let the sounds of family wash over him, and his team, and the city, like the waves that crashed against all the piers.
author's notes: resmin and maggie were amazing when i said to them, this story doesn't work on a basic level, help me figure out how fix it; all remaining failings are my own. title and summary are from erin mckeown, "we are more".