Word Count: 6,000
Rating/Warning: PG-13, None
Genre: John/Teyla, Drama
Spoilers: Post EATG
Summary: Navigating the waters of a new relationship is hard enough. When your former significant other (and father of your child) is in jeopardy, and the only man who can save him is your current love, ripples become rapids.
Written for tielan for the help_pakistan charity.
I wanted to thank the wonderful everybetty for the swift awesome beta and sgafan for being a great sounding board.
Teyla awakens slowly, not with her eyes, but with her ears, listening to the not-quite-there hum of the city. Sometimes she wonders what it's saying, how it sounds to John when he's laying there, relaxed, before the burdens of the coming day seep into his mind. Stretching her arms above her head, she runs her hand over the warm spot where John had slept, resisting the urge to snuggle deeper in bed after another late night, and contentedly listens to him move about.
Curling onto her side, twisting the cotton sheets with her, she watches the silhouette of his lean back bend as he searches for his clothes. “No shower this morning?”
“I have to take one after my run anyway,” he answers, snatching his boxers off the floor. “No need to waste the water.”
“I do not think you have to worry about that,” she teases. “I need one, too. We could conserve.”
“You are a wicked woman, you know that?”
John pulls on his BDUs to her disappointment, but that will give her time to warm up before teaching her Shi class. Her students are about to learn the eightieth and final position of the second level and will finally move up to the third level and graduate to Pa'cin starting next week.
Leaving the warmth of the bed, she throws on a purple robe, tying the thin rope around her waist, and watches John stretch his legs. “Would you like to join me in warming up?”
He freezes, one leg propped up on a chair. “Um...I don't really have time.”
Teyla schools her disappointment. If only John would sit still long enough to learn how to relax and separate his thoughts from his physical body. Not only would it provide an outlet for all the darkness he carried around inside, it would bind them together on a spiritual level.
But she would not push it on him, no matter how much she desires the connection.
He hastily finishes stretching, walking toward the door. “See you at breakfast?”
“Of course,” and she watches him leave to meet up with Ronon.
Wandering across her quarters to her little kitchen hotplate, she puts on a kettle of water to boil and basks in the rays of sunlight starting to stream through her curtains.
The kettle whistles and she grabs an old red and brown clay plot. She is momentarily amused by the juxtaposition of a rare family possession and the modern heating coil. Browsing through her box of tea, she discovers a small silver tin, and her lips curve in a smile. Unscrewing the top, she breathes in sweet cinnamon and the woody spice of fresh Kupi tea leaves.
There's no telling what John must've traded to get a sample of the Kupitan's newest crops, but it doesn’t matter, because she cherishes the thought behind it.
John joins her in the mess hall, fresh from his morning run with Ronon. His hair is damp from being towel dried and he smells of aftershave and shampoo. For a split second, Teyla imagines running her fingers through his wet spiky tufts, scraping her nails down his flushed neck. It's a rare urge, one she tempers without giving it away.
“Where is Ronon?” she asks instead.
Slouching further in his seat, he peels an orange with his pocket knife. “He agreed to help Sergeant Matthews transfer supplies to M3H-287. But I really think it's an excuse to spar with the Gulli warrior sect. This week is some kind of practice session for their upcoming competitions.”
“I forgot. He does enjoy a challenge.” No doubt Ronon will want to show off any new moves during their next training sessions. “Have you made progress on your big project?”
They do not talk openly about the black ops he and Major Lorne have been planning for gathering intelligence on certain Coalition-aligned planets. Atlantis has been gone for ten months and power shifts among allies can cause tension.
“We've selected who'll be deployed, but we'll need to meet with you and Halling about liaisons.”
Teyla nods thoughtfully, pouring syrup over her waffles. “I can arrange a meeting later in the week.”
John's men can go in and out of hostile areas on Earth, blending in with the local populations, but in Pegasus, it's easier to be paired with those who know the local cultures. With the help of members of her people and close allies, Atlantis operatives will be able to slip in places to gather intel and report back.
“Will you be free for dinner?” she asks.
“Sure, if you want. I'll radio you when I'm done with my meeting with the gate teams’ leaders.”
“I would like to prepare a meal tonight. If it is possible, let me know when you are getting close to wrapping up. It will help with my plans.”
He pauses mid-peel, clearing his throat. “You don't have to cook dinner.”
“Did you reserve a kitchen?”
Since Atlantis was set up as a military base and research post, the mess hall serves as the primary gathering place for cooking and eating. But not everyone on Atlantis is part of the military and after the first month, a kitchen was established on each floor of crew quarters.
“I penciled myself in for later this afternoon.” Sign-ups fill up fast and Teyla had wanted to take advantage of a mission free day. “Is that alright?”
His eyes drop to the floor and Teyla takes his wrist, rubbing her thumb across the knobby joint. “I want to.”
“It's not that,” John objects. “You don't have to.”
“I am aware of that as well.” Teyla smiles. “There is no need to protect me from Earth traditions. On Athos, men and women shared all domestic chores. Cooking, cleaning, hunting. There were no roles. Just work that needed to be done.”
“I know you don't need protecting,” he laughs. “And sharing in domestics duties have changed on Earth. At least where I'm from. Or I mean, it's changed a lot. I just didn't want you to think that I expected...I mean that I...”
“I am on your team, despite the fact your military does not allow many women in front line combat units. You respected the fact that we came from different worlds when we first met and I highly doubt you would stop doing that now.” Teyla twirls her fork, soaking up the syrup with a piece of waffle. “Preparing a meal for the people that you love and sharing the fruits of the labor is a celebration of living to the next day.”
Teyla would gladly wipe the floor with those responsible for John's difficulties with dealing with affection. It's as if he's been starved of it for so long, he doesn't know how to accept it.
The tips of his ears flush a bright pink at her words. “I'll make sure to be done by 2200. I could try to finish earlier and help.”
“No, I prefer preparing this for you.”
He doesn't protest any further and that's a big step. John's been self-sufficient for much of his adult life, the military his only partner and provider. It is going to take time for him to shed his old ways and accept new ones, but he is trying.
They both understand the need to respect each other's ways and that includes the small stuff. Because it's those little things that can build and grow into wedges.
Three full moons ago, there had been another mission gone bad. She’d lost count the number of times they all almost died, almost did not make it to the gate. They escaped somehow and amazingly without a single bullet wound or broken bone. Rodney retreated with Jennifer and after hugging them all one more time, Ronon sought his own release.
Teyla had found herself in bed with John for the first time, their limbs a tangled mess. There had been dozens of times over the years when she had wanted this. His heart beating rapidly under her cheek, both breathing hard and fast, buzzed on endorphins and adrenaline. The barest of touch of skin on skin leaving trails of fire.
Then everything had gone from a dull fuzzy feeling to a sharp outline of reality. John's breathing hitched in realization of what had transpired and Teyla nibbled his bottom lip to silent any I'm sorry's.
“Stop thinking,” she ordered, separating from the kiss.
His hair stuck up in all directions, his pupils blown wide, all the candlelight giving the room a warm haze. “I'm not,” he whispered.
“You are,” she countered and disentangled herself from his arms. “And I will rest your mind at ease.”
“Hey,” he muttered,
But Teyla propped herself on an elbow. “I know you obey orders and adhere to the rules of your world. You are a leader and must demonstrate proper conduct for your men.”
“This is a real buzz kill you know,” he deadpanned.
“I am not a member of the U.S military nor am I an enlisted rank or officer.”
“But you are in my chain of command.”
“I am a member of your team and I will never threaten the discipline or integrity of your orders.”
He sat up against the baseboard, his dog tags clinking together against his bare chest. “You've obviously thought about this before.”
“Really?” Cocking a grin, he ran his fingers through her sweaty hair. “Which part?”
“All of it.”
His fingers stilled, the realization of her words impacting him fully. Teyla held her breath as his face went from shock to deeply contemplative, his eyes focused inward. If this were a one night thing, an accumulation of emotion and raw need, she would accept his decision, no matter the regret.
It would not break up the team.
“You read up on the fraternization policy,” he said thoughtfully.
“As you said, I have thought about this before.”
She let the words hang in the air, preparing for the objection that'd been nonverbal for years.
“I'm not good at this,” he breathed.
“And does that effect your ability to try?”
“It is a simple question.” She traced a finger down his throat, across his collarbone and rested her hand over his chest. “This is your compass. It has led you the way your whole life. Trust it.”
Laying his palm over her hand, John licked his lips. “Tu huna reeth shoth tu ools deem ma jea un thoums wat tu ulea dem ma wissmon.” The heart feels things the eyes cannot see and what the mind cannot understand.
Teyla's eyes widened at his reciting of one the lines of her favorite Athosian sonnet. “How do you know these words?”
“I may have considered this, too,” he whispered, taking her face with both hands and undoing her completely with his tongue.
Fixing dinner is a slow process. Cutting vegetables, prepping sauce, browning meat. Even after five years, cooking on a stove and using an oven messes with her sense of timing. Two hours and one blister later, the breetha is prepared, a sweeter version of pork stuffed with Athosian rice and spices.
It takes two trips back and forth to her quarters as she places all four plates of food on a blanket that Charin had quilted for such occasions. While most Athosians ate together with multiple family groups using tables and chairs, couples who shared a meal privately would do so on hand-woven blankets. It was a symbol of intimacy to have nothing between them.
Tracing the stitching connecting the swatches of gold, red and blues, her heart quickens, but the beeping of the door quells the sudden stirring of emotion.
Waving her hand over the sensor, her mouth curves in surprise. “You dressed up?”
“I believed it was a fitting occasion,” John says behind a smile.
It is a rare occasion to see him in anything other than his uniform and the simple buttoned-down olive shirt and khakis is a good look. “I forgot you owned anything other than black t-shirts.”
“Hey, you've seen my closet.”
Laughter is rare and Teyla loses herself in it.
John joins her, wrapping an arm around her waist and plucks something from behind his back. “I thought you might like this.”
Teyla accepts a folded-piece of blue paper and she stares at it curiously.
“It's...well, it's a swan. You said you thought they were majestic.”
Teyla studies the folded flaps and triangles, fingering the uneven wings. It looks like an insect, but she doesn't mention it.
“I learned origami during a bad sand storm when I was stationed at Kandahar. I know it's tradition to write a poem or draw the symbol of our....”
“Bonding,” she finishes when his words trail.
“Yeah.” He stuffs his hands into his pockets. “I'm not much of an artist so...”
“You made it for me and it is lovely.”
His expression of relief is sweet and she settles on the floor to begin the meal. “How was your meeting with the gate team leaders?”
“Let's not talk about work,” he suggests, pouring her a glass of wine.
She recognizes that low throaty drawl, soaking in being the recipient of such desire. The top three buttons of his shirt are undone, revealing tanned skin and his hairy chest. The other buttons seem ready to pop off and she knows it would only take a few seconds to rid the shirt totally.
When their glasses and plates are empty, John carefully sweeps them away and Teyla wastes no time, testing her theory, taking his mouth as her fingers quickly get rid of the annoying layer of cloth.
As uncomfortable John is with gestures of affection, he makes up for it in passion. All of his control and his carefully constructed walls are stripped away. Releasing energy and built up conflict.
This is when John truly lets go.
He's also a considerate lover, attentive to all her needs, but she longs for the one thing he does that he’s not good at. “Tell me you want me.”
“I want you,” he growls, slowly pushing down the straps of her shirt.
“Why do you want me, John?”
And he freezes, caught like an animal in the crosshairs.
Teyla breathes through her mouth, the blood pounding in her ears. She's focused on his lips, waiting for an answer, but he curses instead and stands.
Stunned, she blinks, gaping at him.
Fumbling in the candlelight, he points behind him. “Door.”
It takes a second to register the chime and Teyla soon follows. “What's going on?” she asks, coming up behind him.
Lorne stands outside, looking like he'd rather be facing an army of Wraith than speaking to his disheveled CO clad only in khakis. “Um, I'm sorry sir. You weren’t answering your com,” he apologizes, barely looking John in the eye.
“What is it?” John barrels onward.
Relief flashes across Lorne's face, before sobering, eyes flashing toward Teyla. “We just got word that there was an incident at the Athosian camp.”
Teyla mind whirls with dread. “What happened?”
“Halling contacted us. Some of Athosians were attacked while returning from a meeting. All of the group returned unharmed, except for one member.”
“Who?” she demands, heart sinking.
Swallowing, Lorne nosily clears his throat. “I'm sorry, but Kanaan was kidnapped.”
The cold harshness of the meeting room settles into her bones. Her mouth tingles from mouthwash to rid the earlier taste of wine, her eyes alert. John sits stiffly on her left side as everyone else settles around the table, Woolsey taking his seat last.
Lorne begins the meeting, shooting a look at Rodney who is still fidgeting in his seat.
“What? I caught some horrible, skin-eating rash. I was soaking in oatmeal before I was interrupted.”
Ronon's nostrils flare at the smell, leaning forward with his elbows on the table. “What happened?”
“We're not sure,” Lorne begins. “Kanaan, Leylan and Remar went to P2X-282 to visit the O'Lema and scout out possible land plots. They were jumped returning to the gate and when the others came to, only Kanaan was missing.”
“Did they get a good look at their attackers?” Ronon asks before Teyla has a chance.
“No. It happened too quickly and there were no signs of robbery since Leylan and Remar were carrying knives and local currency.”
“Wait,” John interrupts, turning to Teyla. “You guys are moving forward on your plans to live with other people?”
“Yes. Our numbers are small and after losing many to Michael…” Teyla shudders at how many they have lost. “It was decided that for our population to grow, we should join others who have been culled by the Wraith.” With everyone's eyes on hers, Teyla holds her head high. “It was not an easy decision, but it will ensure our culture survives the current generation. We have long ties with the O'Lema.”
“I take it you do not suspect the O'Lema in this attack?”
“No.” Teyla holds Woolsey's gaze. “They would have no reason to do such a thing.”
“It sounds like a snatch and grab,” John summarizes with little emotion. “The question is why? Did Kanaan have any enemies?”
“Not that I know of.” But Teyla struggles with uncertainty. With all her time spent on Atlantis, could she be a hundred percent sure?
“What about when he was a hybrid?” Ronon suggests. “Maybe someone's out for revenge.”
“It's a long-shot,” John shakes his head, leaning back. “If revenge was motivation, then why not kill him?”
“Maybe we should focus on getting him back,” Teyla says a bit more tersely than intended. Looking about nervous expressions in the room, she begins to fear that option is up for debate. “We are going to search for him?”
Woolsey's gaze drifts to John and it dawns on her that such a decision would rest on his shoulders. John doesn't speak, his jaw tense as he thinks. Teyla bites her tongue, trying to rein in her emotion when his answer isn't immediate.
“He has sensitive information regarding Atlantis. For security reasons alone, it should be a priority to locate him,” John explains to Woolsey, before shifting his focus to her. “And it's the right thing to do.”
Those last words are for her benefit and Teyla believes him, her shoulders losing a fraction of tension.
Woolsey silently accepts his military commander’s assessment, drawing a deep breath. “Where do we begin?”
Rodney has been squirming in his seat the entire time, trying to scratch an unreachable spot in the middle of his back. “We could search for Kanaan's sub-q transmitter.”
Ronon kicks his chair and Teyla is unsure if it's for all his wiggling around or for what he just said. “Kanaan has a transmitter?”
“Um...well, yeah,” Rodney stammers, grabbing a pencil and using it to reach in between his shoulders.
“It was a security precaution,” John answers defensively. “All the Athosians who had been turned into hybrids had one implanted.” As if expecting an argument, he adds quickly, “They all agreed to it.”
“I'm sure they did,” Teyla coolly replies.
As if they all had a choice in the matter.
She concentrates on her breathing, centering her focus on the pull down her spine, her hands stretching across the floor. Holding the position, she feels the burn and quiver of muscle, releasing built up negative emotion.
Teyla is not naive. It is understandable to want to keep track of all those once under Michael’s influence. Her people had been compromised and rehabilitated. While there were no signs that any of them would ever be another threat, she understands the reasons for such measures to ensure Atlantis's security. If Carson could 'return' from the dead, there was no telling if another Michael or any of his loyal followers would appear to raise havoc again.
“You know it never had anything to do with trust.”
Teyla doesn't need her eyes to know John has entered her quarters.
“Then why wasn't I made aware of it?”
John stands there, crossing his arms, hands gripping his elbows. “Kanaan asked me not to tell you.”
“When we find him, you'll have to ask him yourself.”
Sitting up straight, she forces out the dark energy stirring in her mind. “I still wish you would have told me.”
It is difficult to believe his silence had been to keep his word to Kanaan.
“I know how important your people are to you.” Lowering himself to the floor, he leans his elbows on his knees. “It was a security decision and you were still thinking about your return to the team.”
Atlantis. The team. She wonders if John realizes he has two other lovers.
“And telling me....”
“Might have been the right thing to do,” he admits, releasing a heavy breath. “But maybe I wasn't thinking about that at the time.”
He reaches out to touch her, but it's an uncertain gesture.
She hates this space between them. She takes his hand and guides it across her cheek. “Being open with one another should come naturally. I do not want us hesitating about sharing things that might upset each other.” She's opened the door and he is still too nervous to walk through it. “You have never trusted Kanaan.”
Pulling his fingers back, he shakes his head. “I don't know him.”
“That is a yes.”
“I don't give my trust easily, Teyla.”
“But you gave it to me when we first met and we did not know each other.”
“You brewed a good cup of tea.” He smiles, his lips thinning into a straight line. “There are many levels of trust. It's something that grows over time.”
“And something that is constantly tested.”
Quirking his lips, he chuckles. “Are we still talking about me trusting Kanaan?”
And maybe she's the one ducking the question. “He is the father of my child.”
“I know that,” John growls.
Teyla is surprised by his hostility. “Kanaan will always hold a special place in my heart, but he does not share it.” John may lack words, but his eyes always give him away and she would do anything to rid his pain. “Oh, John. Who has injured you so badly that you cannot accept what I say as truth?”
His silence is another barrier between them and she reaches for his face, the radio interrupting the moment.
Slapping the com, he turns away. “Sheppard.”
Teyla waits anxiously until he finishes, standing to meet him. “Is there progress?”
“Yeah, all our teams are standing by to begin the search.”
The day had brought little news as they returned to visit the O'Lema and re-trace Kanaan's steps during the visit.
“I am so sorry, Teyla, we did not notice anything suspicious. We just finished sheering the popin and we had many visitors seeking trade,” her friend, Amma, apologizes.
Standing on the hillside, overlooking the valley, Teyla wonders in twenty years, if they will be able to differentiate between O'Lema and Athosian.
John walks over, the sun reflecting off his sunglasses. “Halling tells me your people will start moving here by the summer.”
“These used to be forests, but years of drought brought too many fires. The trees were cleared away, opening up new land. It will take time to make the soil fertile again, but my people are very skilled at breathing new life into things.”
“The Athosians give new meaning to resilience.” John takes her hand. “I know you haven’t seen Torren in over a week. Maybe you’d like to visit him?”
Teyla aches to hold her son, but after ten months on Earth, she wanted him to learn what it meant to be an Athosian and she’d made the choice to have him live with her people to be educated. If they are to settle alongside with the O'Lema, retaining their culture's identity will be vital.
“I will go see my son after we find Kanaan.”
Missions bleed into one another; days turn into weeks, and she notices the silent communication between her teammates. The way Rodney doesn't complain about chasing leads or how Woolsey keeps meaning to say something, only to temper his words with a glance at John during daily meetings.
After another runaround, on another planet, she returns, dusty and dirty, running the hot spray of the shower over her back before heading to sleep. Teyla tosses and turns, until late at night when John climbs into bed
Snuggling up to him, she speaks the things he will not. “You'll be calling off the search soon.”
Drawing her into his arms, he nuzzles her ear, kissing it. “We have no new information and we've gone on five missions in two weeks.”
“He is not dead.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I can still feel him.” John tenses and she intertwines their fingers together. “Kanaan and I grew up together, our gifts forging a more special bond. When we started seeing each other, that bond grew.”
“Right. Of course,” he drawls, the space between them widening despite physically holding each other.
“There are ways that some Athosian couples learn to connect on a higher level.”
“You're talking about yoga?”
“It is called Shi, which is not exactly the same thing. But yes, that is one way. Kanaan and I practiced these techniques. It is something you and I could try, if you wanted.” While silence is an acceptable form of communication for him, she cannot let this go unanswered. “You have been open to different types of intimacy, have you not? You shared yourself with Chaya.”
“Was it not an enjoyable experience?”
“Yes… I mean, it was different.” Squirming, he lets out a growl of frustration. “It wasn't planned or anything. I kind of went with the moment and...”
“It was pleasing.”
She flips over, taking in his shadowed face. “Are you not willing to take another such chance?”
“I take enough chances in my day job. I rather not do it with my love life.”
She will not let this drop. John fears little and he may not know it, but he's terrified at the prospect of getting too close. “You have faced Wraith hive ships and Replicators. Taken the darkest journeys alone. Yet you are afraid of taking this step together?”
“Can we just drop it?”
“I'm not an Athosian, Teyla. I’ll never be able to fulfill what you need from me.”
Pulling away the covers, he makes an escape, snagging his boots from the floor.
“John!” She scrambles out of bed, bare feet pounding after him. “Do not run away from this.”
Whirling around, he waves his hand over the sensor. “There was another slim lead on Kanaan's whereabouts. I'm sure Lorne's still up, I'm going to check with him, since I doubt I'll be catching any sleep tonight.”
Teyla could go after him. Drag him back and force him to talk, but that will not work with John. She is not his interrogator and he must open up to her on his own.
Eyes straying across her empty quarters, she goes back inside to change. John is right about one thing. Neither of them will get any sleep tonight. She grabs some clothes to prepare to go the gym.
Ronon finds her an hour later and waits on the sideline of the mat. She completes her last set of swings with the bantos before resting them by her sides. He doesn't move to join her and she heads over to the bench to grab her water bottle.
Throwing her a towel, Ronon yells at her, “Come on.”
Wiping her brow, Teyla follows, because Ronon wouldn't interrupt unless it's important. “Is something wrong?”
“We might have found him.”
Teyla hurries, catching up to his strides. “Did John--”
“One of our contacts radioed. Said they saw Kanaan on P2X-362. Sheppard's putting the extraction team together.” Ronon gives her a sideways glance. “You okay?”
She's not sure. “I will be,” Teyla answers.
“Must be hard. You know...with Kanann and Sheppard.”
“It has put on a strain on things.”
“It's tough when the past and present collide,” Ronon says, stopping just outside the locker room. “It makes it hard to see what's happening in front of you.”
Teyla follows his gaze to the closed doors ahead. “I see things clearly, but John does not.”
“Sheppard has a hard time lowering his guard. It skews his vision.” Ronon squeezes her shoulder. “He has a lot of walls, but they were built for a reason.”
Ronon doesn't speak a lot, but when he does, it is filled with much wisdom.
The jumper flies over a caravan of transport trucks, Kanaan's transmitter beeping loudly on the HUD. John glides them to a path of grass near the wooded area, giving orders to those in the other jumpers.
“Lorne, on my signal, I want you to launch a drone ahead of the first truck. We'll use the distraction to converge,” he radios.
They debark the jumper, meeting another squad of Marines outside. Teyla is impressed with the size of the operation, but she thinks this is John's way of signaling a message to the kidnappers.
Do not screw with us.
John surveys the landscape before turning to Rodney. “Which truck is he on?”
“Okay, looks like these vehicles use engines, but they're pretty slow. The caravan should be rounding the corner in the next two minutes.” John glances up at his other team leader. “Sergeant Rodriguez, I want to flank these guys. When Lorne lights up the road, you take one side of the truck. We'll take the other.”
John pulls out his LSD. “I'll take point. Teyla you're with me. Rodney stay in the middle and Ronon, you're on our six.”
“Got it,” Teyla answers.
She and John lock eyes, both their minds on the objective; anything else will wait on Atlantis. The moment they entered a relationship, they made a mutual promise. Keep the missions separate from their personal lives.
They hunker down by the side of the road, the whirring noise signaling the approach of the trucks. There's always a split second of time, when things go dead silent, like you're given one last moment of peace before everything else explodes in flames and bullets.
Lorne fires the drone and chaos reigns.
Men flee the vehicles. Some fire erratically in all directions, others spill onto the ground in a daze. There is no contest against skilled combat troops and superior firepower.
In the blink of an eye, everything is eerily still. Smoke fills the air, prisoners are detained on the ground, and Ronon helps Kanaan out of the back of the truck.
“Teyla,” Kanaan breathes, his face streaked with dust and dirt.
She meets him, touching her forehead to his. “It is good to see you.”
“I am so glad you came,” he whispers in her ear. “They wanted information about Atlantis, but I would not give it to them.”
“I know you would not,” she whispers back before straightening. “We have all been searching for you ever since you disappeared.”
Kanaan is battered, but whole and he nods to each member of the team, lingering on John's face last. “Thank you for coming for me. I...I wasn't sure if...”
“We don't leave people behind,” John answers, then walks away to speak to his men.
His words resonate with Teyla on a level it hasn't before.
The post mission exam and debriefing is short and Teyla wanders to her quarters to finally collapse. She's been running on adrenaline and no sleep and will go check on Kanaan after he settles in the infirmary. Walking inside her quarters, it is surprising to see John waiting for her.
“Hey,” he greets her, standing up from the chair he was relaxing in.
“Hey,” she echoes.
He's still dressed in his uniform, ripe with sweat and exhaustion not noticeable in the field. “Look, I'm sorry for...you know. Running out on you.”
It hurt that he fled, but she knows John didn't mean to cause her pain. Teyla sits at the end of her bed, feeling wrung out, but more open to speak her mind.
“You do not enjoy certain discussions,” Teyla reasons. “You climbed one of the towers to get away from talking once.”
“If I recall, the city was about to blow up or something,” John defends weakly. “But we're talking about last night.”
“Yes, but I think I see things more clearly now.”
Rubbing a hand through his spiky hair, he laughs. “I don't know how.”
“There is a barrier between us. One that is hard to navigate over, but I think you have barricaded yourself behind it for years.” Standing, she closes the gap between them. “You do not speak of your family much, but you have not been close with them for years.”
“Yeah, well. You know that's complicated.”
“And you were married once. I do not know what happened to break up your union, but I do not think I am wrong in guessing, she is the one to have walked away?” Teyla watches his eyes burn in pain and she pushes on. “And when you were stationed on Antarctica, the one stable thing in your life left you alone on the most desolate spot on your planet.”
She doesn't give him a chance to respond, breaching the barrier, rubbing her hands down his arms. “I am not going away, John. I know you are afraid of getting too close, but I am here. I am not leaving.”
Sliding her hands to cup his face, Teyla brings her forehead to his. “The last ten days put things some things in perspective. I could not imagine what it must have been like for you when I was missing for months. But you never gave up. You never stopped searching, no matter how many weeks passed. And I knew this in my heart. I knew no matter what, I could count on you finding me.”
“I couldn't lose you...I....”
“Do not let fear win, John. You are not an Athosian, but our connection breaks through that barrier. You would have stopped looking for me if it didn't.”
Her eyes moisten and his fingers wipe away the tears, followed by his lips.
“I won't let it,” he whispers, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her toward him in an unbreakable embrace.
Teyla wakens to a whistling kettle, surprised to find John standing next to the bed.
“I made you tea.”
Accepting the cup, she blows the steaming liquid. “Thank you.” Waiting for it to cool, she notices a spicy fragrance in the air. “Are you burning incense?”
“Maybe,” he replies cryptically.
Sipping the tea, Teyla's eyes trail down his sweatpants and worn black t-shirt. “Will you be running this morning?”
“It's Wednesday. Don't you have a class to teach?”
“When we got back last night, I postponed it.” His face flickers in disappointment and Teyla sits up straighter. “Why?”
“I thought if you wanted me to...You know. I'd warm up with you.”
“You do not have to.”
“I'm not saying I can contort my body into a pretzel or anything. I mean there's a beginner's stage right?”
“Yes,” she beams and pushes away the covers.
Rolling out a large mat, John sits with her on the floor, already fidgeting. Teyla smiles at the prospect of channeling all that energy. “I will not expect you to learn all eighty positions during your first lesson.”
“Oh, that's good. Wait, eighty? Really?”
“Maybe on the second,” she jokes. “Now cross your legs like mine and straighten your spine until you can feel the air expand in your lungs.” Watching him mimic her, Teyla nods. “Yes, like that. Now we will spend the morning practicing our breathing.”
“Practicing our breathing?” John's eyes search for exit points, before resting on hers. “I thought maybe we could skip to the couples’ stuff. I had six months to learn meditation.”
Remembering the time dilation field incident, Teyla puts his restless mind at ease. “This is similar to meditation techniques. You have to learn the fundamentals of Shi before we can move forward to Kai, which is what couples practice.”
Slouching slightly, John quickly straightens his posture again. “Is there a test afterward?”
Teyla slaps his knee. Maybe she should wait on this, when John isn't trying to prove something.
“Hey,” he says grabbing her wrist. “I do want to try this. I know we have a connection, but I would like to enhance it. ”
As usual, the sincerity in his eyes tells Teyla everything she needs to know. “I believe you.”
“Besides. Who knows what other benefits this will have?” he adds, waggling his eyebrows.
“Perhaps,” Teyla answers, mischievously. She sees through his suggestion, aware humor is another of his thinly veiled barriers. “Let's begin,” she says, knowing they will overcome them together.
Feedback is always appreciated.
prompt:I'd rather like a story in which John and the team have to rescue Kanaan after he gets taken while off-world. (By whomever you like, actually.) Atlantis gets a decently reliable lead and decide it's worth going after Kanaan because he knows a lot about Atlantis from the time when he lived in the city. I'd actually like John and Teyla to be in a relationship. Or negotiating one. The state of negotiation could tie into a little bit of ambivalence on John's part - not that he wouldn't do the right thing, only that he's not entirely sure of Teyla just yet, and this is stirring up uncomfortable memories in him.