As soon as they were in the privacy of their hotel room, John just stared at Ronon. Today had been a bizarre day so far, he couldn’t believe that there was a not-Elsa walking around on the planet who looked exactly like her.
He believed he handled himself well though, he didn’t freak out (yet) and other than the misfortune of walking around in a very strangely lit building for the first time without knowing that it was like that, he thought he did okay.
“Want me to hail the Hammond to beam us out?” Ronon asked worried as he looked at his friend who still looked as if he had seen a ghost. Sure, they were supposed to act like normal Air Force people and catch a flight later that day, as these NCIS people were smart and would probably check them out and follow their every move after leaving the building, but Ronon was worried now, it seemed as his friend had shut down.
John shook his head as he sat down on the couch and stared into nothingness, his head in a completely different universe than himself.
“You’re not Beckett or Keller,” John said surprised as he walked into the infirmary, returning home from a mission that hadn’t gone particularly well. This new doctor was petite and appeared to be even more delicate. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a tail and the glare he received for his comment could easily have killedhim.
“Very observant you are,” Elsa greeted back with an irritated roll of her eyes. “Lose the shirt and pants and get on the bed,” she ordered as she continued to stare into the man’s chart.
“What?” John looked at the doctor and shook his head, “Sorry Doc, I’m not losing my pants for just anyone. What’s your name?”
Elsa shrugged. “Fine. Doctor Cole! Got one for you!” she called out slamming Sheppard’s medical records closed and started to walk away.
“No no no no.” John reached for the woman to make her stay. “No, fine, I’ll lose the pants… just…” he winced as he looked at Cole, “Don’t call that sick bastard.”
She raised an eyebrow knowing exactly what he was talking about. “I thought you might see my way. Alright Colonel, you have an intriguing medical record but let us begin with what happened on your most recent mission for this visit.”
“I got hit in the head by something,” John shrugged. “I’m only here because Carson’s threatened me, that should he find out that I’m walking around with an injury again, he’d do something I wouldn’t like. You’re lucky, if I hadn’t pushed McKay away you would have had him here instead of me and he wouldn’t stop whining.”
“I have my methods to shut up patients like him,” the woman said as she because palpating and poking around her patient’s head neck and shoulders. “Does this hurt?” she asked as she poked an area under his eye that was beginning to bruise a nice combination of mottled green and purple.
“It’s a bruise,” John rolled his eyes and winced, trying to pull back from her incessant fingers. “Of course it hurts if you poke at it.”
Elsa smirked with amusement. “Then you have learned to just shut up and let me work instead of avoiding the inevitable.”
“Which is?” he mused.
“Sheppard,” Ronon grabbed him by the shoulder and shook him. “Hey.”
“Huh?” John blinked up to see Ronon standing in front of him with coffee. “Sorry… I think zoned out again.”
“Yup,” Ronon nodded.
Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair. “When is it going to stop?”
“Who knows?” Ronon handed him a cup of coffee and sat down opposite of his friend, “You did okay today,”
John shrugged and took a sip of the horrible hotel imitation. “Sure, compared to the usual self that I am lately, yes, I did okay today. But please do not tell Teyla about her. She had it hard enough already…” he smiled.
“I won’t,” Ronon shrugged. “It was just weird, that’s all.”
Sheppard knew that well enough. “Let’s get some sleep. Landry is supposed to call tomorrow to update us and I just want to sleep.”
Ronon looked at the clock, it wasn’t even dinner time yet. “No, we’re going to catch our flight in a couple of hours, but you can sleep some before we go. I called the SGC to have them move it up.”
John blinked at Ronon and tried to shake the fog out of his head as he put down his cup of coffee and laid down on the couch. “Ronon?” he muttered, putting his arms over his eyes. “Please don’t leave,” No, if Ronon would leave while John was sleeping, he’d go nuts when he’d wake up or sleep uneasily because for some reason he’d know that Ronon was gone and this was a hotel room, not as safe as his apartment.
Ronon lounged out on the bed with the television remote as he waited for the pizza they ordered to arrive. “Not going anywhere bud,” he said.
“Colonel!” Landry greeted him outside in the parking lot with a big smile on his face. “How was your day?”
“Kind of crazy considering even we weren’t told what we were supposed to do,” John looked at the General and handed over the device. “What exactly did they do? They looked like capable, yet somewhat awkward, people.”
Ronon elbowed him in the ribs. “Missing marines, linked to SGC, Antarctica… he already told you,” he said in a low voice.
“Colonel, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, just tired Sir.”
“Perhaps you should go visit Dr. Lam just to be certain,” Hank said with concern. “Did something unexpected happen? It was supposed to be a routine job.”
“No, apart from their stupid lights I’m fine, just tired.” John shrugged. “Please, General, I don’t need to be checked out.”
“Well, I’m afraid I must insist.” Hank gently started to push John towards the entrance of the mountain. “That possible babysitter I was talking about? It’s going to be you for the next few months, I want you to keep an eye on them and I can’t let you do that if one day of work tires you out.”
John groaned, this was a bad idea.
Ronon scratched his eye and signaled for Landry’s attention. “I don’t think that is such a great idea. Did you guys run backgrounds on those people? With pictures?”
“Yes,” Landry nodded. “And that’s exactly why he’s going back there with Teyla as his support. It’s time to get back in the saddle.”
He shook his head as he watched John check in. “That was a low move. He didn’t have any time to prepare himself.”
“I’ve seen how you and Teyla and even Dr. Beckett are around him, you’re treating him as if he’s something fragile, and he needs a good kick in the ass to get his life back on track.” Landry told Ronon, knowing full well that it was hard on John. “Agent Gibbs has quite the reputation and his team is one of the best, and it might be hard on him at first, but he’ll get over it.”
“That woman could have been Elsa’s twin,” Ronon growled.
“Really?” Landry frowned. “Apart from her physical appearance, she’s not Dr. Gutierrez. I’ve double checked, she’s also not a replicator.”
“Still wrong,” he grunted and followed John in. “You’re telling him what you are expecting of him there. I’m not.”
He didn’t really know why, but Dr. Lam insisted on having him stay for a couple of hours and get some sleep before she’d do some tests on him. She felt sorry for John, he did look tired and her father was being hard on him, even after she had told him that John wasn’t ready for it all.
“I’m fine, Elsa,” Sheppard replied, “It’s only a flesh wound,” he continued, referring to the gunshot wound in his side while he stacked a box upon another for cover. “How’s it going McKay? We can’t stay here longer than we have to.”
“Yeah well, at this rate, trained mice could do a better job than me!” Rodney barked at him. “I give up.”
“No, you’re not!” John pushed him down on the ground, “You need to fix this, this is all your fault.”
“My fault?” Rodney huffed and disconnected his tablet. “If you want to blame someone, blame yourself, or Carter, or Woolsey for thinking that it would be okay for the Genii to come here for protection.”
“You allowed them to change the passwords!”
“John! Rodney!” Elsa sounded disgusted. “What the hell!”
When John looked at Elsa, he saw that she was sitting on a pale white horse with long flowing manes and evil red eyes. “What are you doing on that horse?”
“Getting back into the saddle,” Elsa deadpanned before the entire environment changed into a circus rink again. “Bombs away!” she called as grenades started to drop from the ceiling.
John sat straight up in bed breathing rapidly. “What the…” he coughed out as he tried to piece together the dream to what he knew before the details faded. He got up and stumbled into the bathroom to rinse off his face with cold water. He knew he couldn’t go back to his apartment looking like that. Teyla would go crazy on him and he didn’t want her to do that. As it was, he had to break the news that they will likely have to move if Landry goes through with his plans. Plans that he will find out more of later after lunch.
“Oh good, you’re awake again,” Carolyn Lam smiled as she stood in the doorway. “You’re in big trouble, John,” she said. “You’ve been keeping things from me and Carson.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he grumbled as he went to look for clothes to change into. “I gotta get home.”
“Well, you and your shrink have been keeping things from me and Carson, I thought we had a deal,” smiling somewhat as she had taken his clothes and put them somewhere he wasn’t able to find them. He needed to be checked out and she was going to make sure that it was going to happen.
With all the dresser drawers empty and his pants from the day before gone, he just looked at her. “Oh come on Doc! I’m not in the mood for this. I’ve been fine.”
“Yes, then why didn’t you let your shrink inform us about your medication?”
John shrugged and sat down on the bed. “It’s nothing.”
“Okay, you know what?” Lam decided to take the same approach as her father, as she was fed up with John’s antics anyway. “You’re right, you’re fine.” She got his clothes out of a different trolley and threw it in his face. “Here we are, trying to put you back together, we’ve found the best physical therapists, the best shrink in town… and you’re not letting him tell us the real thing about your progress or lack thereof.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Good luck in Washington.”
That got his attention. “What? What did you say? What are you talking about?” he asked as he ran out into the hall in just his shorts with his pants in hand.
“General Landry is sending you to Washington with Teyla and Torren,” she said. “If I’d believe what your shrink has finally told me about you, I would have said that you weren’t going, but since you insist on being fine. I’m going to clear you for duty now.”
She smiled sweetly. “Now be a good Colonel and pull on your pants,” she said as she headed for the elevator.
John made sure that General Landry had given him a hard copy of his orders so that he wouldn’t forget, and eventually made his way home to Teyla, who was smiling proudly at him. “How did it go? I had expected you to come home sooner.”
“Dr. Lam held me hostage,” John shrugged and rubbed his face tiredly. “We need to talk.”
“What about?” she asked as she closed the door to her room where Torren was down for a nap.
“Well…” he sighed and sat down on the couch. “Remember how you joined our team on Atlantis? You wanted what was best for your people, and help us.”
She looked at him and nodded slowly. “I remember. What does that have to do with anything here now?”
“Well, General Landry wants me to temporarily join an organization to keep an eye on them, they have been making too many connections between some of our… marines and the SGC and Antarctica.”
“John, that is great news!” Teyla smiled widely.
“One thing though…” he sighed, knowing how much Teyla liked it in Colorado Springs. “We’re going to have to move… I can’t do this without you, Teyla, please…” he begged, “Please say you’ll come with me?”
She was still grinning happily. “I would be happy to join you. I could not imagine letting you go through something that new alone. Torren and I will join you wherever you will need us. Does this mean that we have to look for a new shelter? I have watched many shows where people visit multiple places before making a decision.”
He was relieved that Teyla wanted to go with him and then had to laugh because Teyla sounded eager to look for a new place to stay and she wanted to look for something together. “The SGC has acquired us a temporary house, as we might be there for just a couple of months.”
John pulled out the folder that had some details as for as the region and where they would be staying, including pictures. They managed to score a nice place in the heart of Georgetown, with more than enough room so that Teyla, Torren and he would have their own space without stepping on each other’s toes. “Wow,” he commented as he looked at the almost mansion like place.
“You always told me that the SGC liked to save money,” Teyla looked at the pictures and then at John, “See? You’re something special to them too.”
He shook his head. “We need the space,” he said, actually grateful for the SGC to provide them with a bigger place. “Unfortunately with what this looks like, they may be expecting us to host some get-togethers if I know them as well as I think.”
“Which is fine, John,” Teyla nodded.
“I don’t know,” he chuckled.
She took his face in her hands and smiled up at him. “It will be for the best. I can feel it.”
John could only nod again. Teyla tried the hardest between them to make the best of out of the situation they had found themselves in, with adapting into the culture of America and Earth. He was proud of his friend greatly and could only smile as she was thrilled that the SGC also noted that they would be allowed a spending allowance to furnish the large home and was already flipping through home improvement catalogs that came in the junk mail.
Yep, this is not going to go well, he thought to himself but would never admit his odd feelings about the situation to anyone.
“Anyway, I’m going to get some sleep, it’s not really a fun thing to fly twice a day,” he said and managed to smile at Teyla. “If you need anything, just call,” he said walking to his bedroom.
“Can we not ask the SGC if they can teleport us and our belongings into the new house?” she asked as he retreated.
“Already asked, and Landry said he wouldn’t have it any other way… although if you don’t mind, I’d rather fly there from the airport.” He didn’t want to be in orbit ever again. Maybe sometime in the future, but right now, anything that reminded him what he couldn’t do anymore hurt, despite refererring to Atlantis from time to time.
She nodded understandingly. “Very well, I will begin packing our things. If there is anything specific you wish to bring, let me know.”
He rubbed his eyes and turned around to face her. “I can’t let you do the packing all by yourself,” he said. “I think you should just bring your and Torren’s clothes and any other items you like to bring, we’ll buy whatever we need when we get there, okay?”
Nodding she looked back at him. “I have just one more question John.”
“When do we leave?”
“Landry wanted us to leave tomorrow, but I managed to give us an extra day,” he responded. “I’ll be starting my new job on Monday.”
Teyla was surprised. “Alright,” she said looking out the window where the setting sun still shone warmly. “If you do not mind watching for Torren, I can run to the market and acquire some boxes to get things together tomorrow.”
“Yeah, sure,” he smiled. “I’ll go and make myself a pot of coffee.” He said, making his way towards the kitchen. “And when we are in Georgetown… I have an important task for you.” he smiled deviously. He would hate it, but it was needed.
She turned around while pulling her coat on. “What is it John?”
“I’m going to need proper civilian work clothes,” He groaned. “So I’m going to rely on you to make the right decisions for me.”
“Colonel Sheppard! Are you asking me for womanly advice on your attire?” she grinned happily.
“See? I knew you were going to love that.”
Teyla bowed respectfully and chuckled to herself as she walked out eyeing the tacky ripped jeans he wore to come back from his meeting with the General. “I accept your challenge John.”
“Good, because you know how I hate my dress uniform,” he chuckled and started to make himself a turkey sandwich. “When will Torren wake up?”
Checking the time, “He should be up by now for dinner. If you want to start that as well, I can finish it when I return. I think there is a box of pasta in the cupboard.” She headed out, closing the door behind her quietly.
Oh, this was going to be hard enough as it already was, he thought as he was munching on his sandwich waiting for the coffee to be done. “Okay.”
Teyla came home just as he had ordered in some Chinese. When Torren had woken up from his nap, and John had finished drinking the entire coffee pot, Torren had laughed at him and asked him why he wasn’t making dinner. John realized that he had to find a good working system for remembering things when tired or distracted or they’d think at NCIS that he was an incompetent person.
“Where’s the pasta?” Teyla wondered out loud.
“Torren wanted Chinese,” John grinned at Torren who was screaming “NO!” repeatedly. “Okay fine, I wanted Chinese food.”
“Right…” Teyla said with an all knowing smile.
“What?” he said sheepishly. “I like Chinese food, it’s a nice change from Italian in any form, chicken and pizza.”
He still had a very bad feeling about this assignment, he’d be working with Gibbs’ team, as well as keep an eye on Agent McGee and the Goth in the lab, and he was wondering how the hell he was going to do all of that while working along side the Elsa lookalike.
He knew that in a small amount of time, he wouldn’t appear to be a blinded idiot while moving around in the NCIS building as he’d have gotten used to the diverse lighting of the awkward building and prepare himself for the knock back of it, but that was all in the future still.
“You were right, John,” Teyla mused as they walked at the airport in DC. “That was an amazing experience, the flying.”
“Yea but it’s still not a jumper,” he grumbled as he lifted their bags over his shoulder. “Let’s rent a car instead of a taxi. We’ll need it to get around as I doubt there will be anything within walking distance like in Colorado.”
“Alright, although I’d love to walk around and explore our new area,” Teyla mused as they walked to the car rental booth.
“I loved the sound of the plane,” Torren was skipping around them. “I want to fly one!”
John chuckled. “And maybe you will, when you’re a little bit bigger buddy.”
“What a lovely family,” the rental agent greeted. “Your son is absolutely adorable.”
“Thank you,” Teyla answered before John could start objecting to anything and explaining nonsense. After he got the keys to the car, he pulled her outside and looked at her questioningly.
“Why did you let her think that?” he asked. “I’m not his father…”
She smiled back at him and shook her head. “Let her think what she wants. You are the closest person to him like a father now. Even though I speak to him often of Kanaan, all he knows now is Uncle John.”
He slowly nodded as he adjusted his ball cap and put on his sunglasses. “Alright… let’s see if I can still drive without us getting killed,” he said half jokingly as they walked to the rental car. The lady at the booth wanted to get them a mini van, and he refused. An ordinary sedan was fine.
They arrived at the house less than an hour later and all he could do was stare at it from the car. It was much larger than he thought it was going to be and sighed at the neighborhood. It wasn’t exactly middle class. Growing up with money, he knew that was mostly the neighborhood. Damn Landry.
“You know, maybe we could stay in a hotel for a couple of nights,” he suggested as he hadn’t made an attempt of leaving the car, but both Teyla and Torren were already outside, looking at the house in awe. “Yeah I didn’t think so. What was I thinking,” he muttered and got out of the car.
Dragging the bags inside the doors, John looked around. Maybe it won’t be so bad, he thought as he saw a pool table in a room off the foyer. “There are supposed to be a number of bedrooms. Two downstairs and three or four upstairs. Which floor do you want?” Even though it was a large one family home, there was plenty of space that they could keep to their own area and feel a little more independent. Sharing of the social areas like the kitchen, dining, and living room was to be expected and he needed to set up something of an office. Like hell he’d spend all his time in NCIS headquarters to work.
“How about Torren and I take upstairs?” Teyla suggested, knowing that John wanted to be able to react quickly should anything happen, there was a reason why he had his bedroom near the front door in his apartment in Colorado Springs. “I know that you’re up at night sometimes and that way you won’t have to be afraid as to waking us.”
“Thanks,” he replied and grabbed his bags to go dump them in one of the bedrooms before helping Teyla with hers. Looking around as he made his way through the halls, he noticed that the place was pretty furnished with basic necessities. Unfortunately there was a lot they still would need to buy to supposedly make the place feel like a home if he had to bring anyone to the house for business.
Soon he started carrying the other bags and things upstairs with Teyla to walk in and find Torren jumping on the bed in a room that was clearly intended for a child. “You better stop that before you mom sees you. Don’t want you to fall and crack your head open. Uncle Carson isn’t around to fix ya up like before.”
Torren just giggled as he jumped off the bed, landing on his two feet. “Can I unpack my toy box now?”
The Hammond had teleported the boxes that he and Teyla had packed inside the home, and he was grateful for that, it saved him a lot of work. “Yes buddy, go decorate your room.” John nodded.
Sighing, he fell down to sit on the kid’s bed. It was going to be a long weekend.