DISCLAIMER: Stargate Atlantis and its characters are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc. no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: bluflamingo, many thanks for all your efforts during the ficathon! I'm sorry this story was so late in reaching you. Thanks to leiascully for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Happily Ever
By Zulu


i. after the truth

It is spring, and Teyla is returning, laughing, from the forests, when she walks around her father's tent and finds herself standing face to face with Sora.

"Sora," she says, not unguardedly, for there has been no contact between the Genii and the Athosians since deepwinter, and no message has come warning them of Sora's arrival. "It has been many days."

Sora straightens her shoulders--she is, she always has been, very proud--and Teyla notices for the first time the dirt that covers Sora's skirts, the sweat that has dried in her red-golden hair. "What has happened?" she asks, reaching out to take Sora's arm. Sora steps back, out of her reach, and only stares tight-lipped defiance at her.

"Sora..." Teyla wishes to ask again, to demand answers. Has someone hurt Sora, to turn her sun-bright smile to this sullen girl? "Have you spoken with Father?" she asks instead, since it is clearly Tagan's tent that Sora was seeking. Teyla scratches the leather tent flap, and then raises it and enters, calling out for her father. She herself is sticky with the exercise of an early spring hunt, and yet her sudden thirst has little to do with the day's heat or her empty water bottle.

Sora follows her inside. The tent is dim and familiar, but Teyla finds herself restless in Sora's presence. Tagan stands from his leatherwork when he sees Sora, and he frowns slightly. "Have you come seeking asylum?" he asks.

That this is his first question astonishes Teyla. She looks again to Sora, wonders what hurt has befallen her, but she can see no wounds. What has Sora to run from, when she lives so well among her own people?

"I have," Sora answers Tagan, and her voice is too high and too loud, betraying her fear.

"Why?" Teyla asks, feeling very young, although she is three years Sora's elder. Tagan has chosen to allow her to see this moment, a part of her people's ways that she has never known before. Teyla takes a breath to center herself, to bring back her calm. If she is one day to lead, when her father's time is ended, then she must learn this.

Sora turns to her, too abruptly, as though she has become accustomed lately to looking too much over her shoulder. "I have left Genia," she said. "You needn't worry that they will follow me. I gated to Manara, and from there to several culled worlds. I came here from Ngri."

"You need have no fear, Sora," Tagan says. "You are welcome among us. You have long been a friend to the Athosians." He meets Teyla's eyes, past Sora's line of vision, cautioning her to silence.

"I don't wish to go back," Sora says, her voice wavering like a child's.

Teyla wants, again, to enfold Sora in her arms; to hold her however briefly, like a songbird cupped trembling in her hands. "There is room in my tent," she says. "If you wish to join me, Sora."

Sora bites her lip. She is so pale, and her eyes are bright and hectic, as though she is feverish. "If...if that is your way," she says.

"It is only me," Teyla says. "It is my invitation."

Sora nods, and lets her gaze drop. "Thank you, Teyla," she says.

Teyla does take her arm, and as she imagined, Sora's muscles tremble under her touch. When they reach Teyla's tent, she allows Sora to find her own way to the bed, where she sits, looking lost. Teyla builds her fire again from banked embers, and moves a pot of Charan's wapiti stew closer to the flames to warm.

"Will you tell me what has happened?" she asks, though she thinks perhaps she has allowed her curiosity to get the better of her once again.

This time, however, Sora looks up and her eyes are sapphires, hard enough to cut. "My father betrayed me," she says. "I will never go back to Genia."

Teyla's eyes widen, and she kneels in front of Sora. She takes Sora's hands in hers. They are ice cold. "What has he done?"

"He lied to me!" Sora says. "He--he has lied all my life! I am not who I believed I was! Teyla..." She pulls slightly on Teyla's hands, and Teyla moves to sit next to her on the bed. Sora leans into her embrace as though she has been deprived of touch all her life. "Teyla, my people...they are not what they seem. I did not know, I swear I did not..."

"Shh," Teyla says, "Sora, shh. You are here now, you are safe."

"I will never go back," Sora whispers again.

"You need not."

"I came here," Sora says, yet more softly, and if Teyla's ear was not pressed so close to her lips then she would not have heard.

"You are always welcome here," she says, but that is not enough, and so she adds, "You are welcome with me."

Sora weeps then, at first hard angry tears, but they soften quickly into sadness and grief. Teyla holds her, glad that she has already stoked the fire. They lie down on the thin mattress of Teyla's bed, and Teyla pulls over the Manaran quilt that was once her mother's. Sora's skirts bunch between them, but Teyla twines their legs together as best she can. Sora's tears have passed, but she breathes in long shuddering breaths that are hurtful to hear. Teyla allows her hands to caress Sora's arms in long firm strokes, from shoulder to fingertip, until she has pushed Sora's shivering out and away.

"You can tell me," she says, and eventually, Sora does.

This is something that Teyla's father already knows, it is clear. Teyla listens, with horror in her heart, at the danger to all of Genia perpetrated by the few who arrogantly believe themselves greater than the Wraith.

"Sora," Teyla says, at last, when they have warmed each other with their bodies, when their hearts beat as one. "Stay with me."

And Sora says, "I will."


ii. after the lie

Dr. McKay and Major Sheppard return quickly from their consultation with Dr. Weir on the matter of the C4 the Atlanteans wish to trade. By that point, the harvest festival has become a wild whirl of dancing and song. Lieutenant Ford has found several partners, and he does his best to follow the steps, his eyes dark and laughing. Major Sheppard sits with a conservative tankard of the Genii liquor, and seems surprised each time he is asked to dance. He shakes his head with a grin at the girls who approach him, and stays with McKay and Cowen, discussing the finer points of explosions, medicines, and the value of the current tava crop. Teyla stands nearby, in case her help is needed, but apparently her friendship has eased the tension that seemed to exist when she first stepped through the ring with the Atlanteans.

After several minutes, she finds herself drawn into conversation with Darrick and Tyrus, who ask her many questions about the culling on Athos. The loss of her home is still a wound that refuses to close, but she answers them as best she can, describing the number of Wraith darts and those among her people for whom she held vigil when she reached Atlantis.

Tyrus, especially, seems curious about Atlantis itself, but Major Sheppard has asked her to say as little as she can, so Teyla speaks in generalities. At last, Tyrus smiles and says, "I have kept you too long, and there are others, I think, who would like a moment of your time."

Teyla turns at the touch on her shoulder, and sees Sora standing behind her. Sora has changed from her everyday skirts into a bright patterned dress that can only be Manarian, for the bodice and the underskirts are silk, and the cut is nothing that would ever pass on Genia without comment. Teyla keeps her gaze focused on Sora's face, but the battle is harder fought than many she has lived to tell the tale of.

"Will you dance?" Sora asks, with a slight, sweeping curtsey that sets the deep blue silk she wears to rustling.

"I am not dressed..." Not for the first time, she regrets that she wears the uniform of the Atlanteans.

Sora only laughs at her. "That does not matter. Do you not hear the music?"

Teyla does, but more than that, she sees the bright Genia sky reflected in Sora's eyes, and she, too, has partaken of the white fire of the Genii liquor. She abandons the major and Dr. McKay to their negotiations, and takes Sora's hand. Sora pulls her to the dancing square, where the red dust is raised to the level of their knees by the stamp of many feet.

"Your dress," Teyla says. "It is too good..."

"When else would I wear it?" Sora demands, pulling at her still, until Teyla is far closer to Sora than she ever would have come on her own. "It is for you," Sora says, with a smile, and then she blushes and says, "For our guests."

Teyla feels the heat rising in her own face, but she knows it will not show so much as it does on Sora's white skin, where the rose brightens Sora's freckles. "Let us dance," she says, and leads them into the rhythm of the music.

"Will you tell me what it's like, in the city of the Ancestors?" Sora calls, over the noise of the dancers that surround them.

They can only hear one another if they are dancing even closer. Teyla presses Sora against her, feeling silk against her fingertips. She speaks of wonder and fear, of ghosts and magic, of the scent of ocean and the feeling of safety. She can feel Sora smiling into the skin at the side of her throat, her lips pressing invisible kisses there.

Teyla breathes gladness. She was right to bring the Atlanteans here. Now that they and the Genii are trading partners, she is sure to see more of Sora.

They dance until night cools the sweat from their brows, and when the music ends, Sora steals a kiss in the darkness of the village, with only the starlight in her eyes. "I have waited many years for this," Sora tells her, and Teyla answers softly, finally allowed to speak her heart: "I have, as well."


iii. after the storm

"Tell me how my father died," Sora says.

She does not look at Teyla; instead, she stares through the puddlejumper's windows as John speeds them through the atmosphere from Atlantis to the mainland. The dark swirls of the hurricane funnels have dissipated, leaving only the dark and turbid ocean beneath them. Teyla has convinced Elizabeth that there can be nothing crueler than to leave Sora a prisoner, caged and barred from the world. The mainland is the alternative she suggested. All her hope rests on the fact that Sora has proven willing to talk, at last.

"When we discovered the culls in the Wraith webbing were alive, I wished to rescue them," Teyla says. "Tyrus feared that I would bring the attention of the Wraith upon us, so he shot the prisoner. It was that death that woke the hiveship. Your father fought bravely."

"He made a stupid mistake," Sora says, and still she will not meet Teyla's eyes.


"Leave me," Sora says, though there is no where she might go, in the small space of the puddlejumper.

Forgiveness does not come easily to Sora. Sometimes, Teyla knows, it comes not at all. It seems that she has some measure of gratefulness towards her captors for allowing her the freedom of the mainland, but this means she must now disrespect her father.

When John lands, he raises an eyebrow at Teyla. "If you would wait, Major," Teyla says, and she is the one who leads Sora into the sunlight of her new home. Many Athosians greet her; they have all known her for years.

"Why did you bring me here?" Sora asks, when Teyla says at long last that she must take her leave.

"When I think of your father, I think of the gift he has given me," Teyla says, instead of answering. Sora's lips tighten. Teyla shakes her head. "He has gone. Can you not forgive him?"

"Not yet," Sora says, and turns away.

Teyla's visits to the mainland are necessarily few and far between, but she cannot let them go entirely. Sora is always there, waiting for her, and they walk among the fields to the forests as the sun sets.

The night is often beautiful on this new Athos. The stars are the same ones that the Ancestors visited, and in some sense the Ancestors are among them still, since their light has only just arrived.

At last, one night, many months after the rebuilding has been finished, when they are walking again among the trees, Sora takes a few steps into the darkness, until Teyla can see only her silhouette.

"Follow me," Sora calls, and laughs lightly. Teyla smiles, and moves with all the hunting craft that she knows, not to step on a twig or a fallen leaf from the planet's last season. She follows, knowing that she is the better stalker, and she will not lose Sora in this forest that she has learned nearly as well as those of her home world.

Nevertheless, the place that Sora brings her to surprises her. There is a pallet laid there, and candles that Sora lights with a pocket-laser.

"Here," she says, and, "Teyla, please."

Teyla steps forward silently, and kisses apologies into Sora's skin. It amazes her that she is here, that Sora has invited this; that this is what forgiveness feels like. Sora slips easily from her Athosian leathers, and Teyla only slightly less quickly from the scrape of Atlantean fabric.

They make love with moon and starlight, and Sora gasps joy into Teyla's ear. "For me," she says, "you are, Teyla, mine."

"I am my own," Teyla whispers back, smiling softly as Sora moves beneath her, as Teyla brings her pleasure like spring rain to the fields. "But this, Sora. Oh, this is ours."


iv. after the war

"She's a very sick girl," Dr. Beckett says, shaking his head gravely. "But she's a fighter, we've all seen that."

Teyla nods and tries to sense the meaning behind Dr. Beckett's words. "Will she live?" she asks, because that is the question that she cannot quiet in her own mind.

"I think so," Dr. Beckett says. "She just needs rest, and care."

Teyla knows she can provide that, far better than the infirmary can, especially when they are overrun by Genii suffering from radiation poisoning.

Perhaps it is this reasoning that allows her to bring Sora to her own quarters. She lives on the far edge of Atlantis, yet near enough a transporter to allow her access to the central hub as she wishes. She gives Sora her room, and moves her meditations into the living space.

She trusts Sora, or else she trusts Sora's illness, for she does not confine her or worry about her things while Sora is alone in her rooms. Teyla cares for her as best she can, bringing her Dr. Beckett's medicines and washing her clean each day.

It seems, for longer than Teyla wished to hope, that Sora's life is one of those that will be lost, for she hangs precariously on the border between dream and waking. She says many things in her fever, words that Teyla carries with her through the day. She closes her eyes and thinks of them when she can; and she lives with Sora in her heart, even as she continues as a part of Colonel Sheppard's team. She can only hope that Sora lives to fulfill the promises of her delirium.

There comes a morning when Sora appears at her doorway as Teyla sits among the scent of wax and herbs, centering herself.

Teyla looks up and begins to stand. "Sora, you should not be--"

"I am tired of resting," Sora says, and she does indeed look better. There is colour under her skin, and the bruises around her eyes have faded. Her bones no longer push through her flesh;she is whole again, she is well.

She sits beside Teyla and follows her positioning.

"Will you teach me?" she asks, and Teyla says, "Not this. Not now."

"Oh," Sora says, and there is disappointment on her face until the moment that Teyla leans in to kiss it away.

"Not now," Teyla says, and Sora's smile brings all the rest of her beauty pouring back.

"Yes," she says, and soon they are touching; Teyla's mouth against the hollow behind Sora's ear, and Sora's hands sliding over her stomach and down into the slit in her skirt to drift along the inside of her thighs.

Teyla is already ready, wet and waiting for Sora's hands. She finds Sora's breast beneath the robe that she wears, and then pushes the fabric aside to leave room for her kisses. Sora's hands are busy, now, and Teyla arches into Sora's touch, letting her breath come quickly and without thought.

"Love," she says, the word that Sora has repeated in her sickness. "Oh, love."

And Sora whispers it back, even as she turns Teyla into pure sensation. "I love," Sora says, and Teyla sighs her name when she comes.


v. after long silence

For more years than she cares to count, Teyla has lived on Atlantis, with the taste of salt on her tongue, and the frantic calls to arms with every new discovery or new threat. For some of the Athosians, she knows, home has come to mean the mainland. Many who were born there think of no other planet as their own. Athos has filled with those from Earth who wish to stay in the Pegasus galaxy, and Atlantis is home to many Athosians who hope for learning and the choice to travel to many worlds through the gate.

Now, though, the Atlantean expedition is ending, as Elizabeth assures her they always planned it would. Earth's resources have been strapped by the conflict with the Orii, and so they are withdrawing back to defensible borders.

"Many of us wish to return, someday," Elizabeth says, and she smiles sadly. In the end, she decided that the Earth was her true home. Teyla holds out her hands and touches her forehead to Elizabeth's, for a long, comforting moment.

"Our time will have passed by then," Teyla says. "It will be an adventure for the young."

"I suppose," Elizabeth says. Her hair is silver now, her movements slower, but her mind is as eager as it was when Teyla led her people through the gate to Atlantis. "I just can't believe it's ending."

"We cannot argue with what is," Teyla says, and she is already thinking of her own homecoming.

Wraith-burned Athos has been gone long since, and Manara, where her mother's people lived, has also faced too many cullings to allow the people to live there any longer.

Instead, it is Genia that Teyla dials. When the Stargate shines blue, she walks through without hesitation.

No one is present to meet her on the far side, but it is late summer and Genia is dry and warm under her bronze sun. Teyla feels the soil beneath her soft leather boots, and the slap of grasses against her calves as she walks. She has left the uniform of the Atlanteans behind, along with their weapons, and she travels only as encumbered as an Athosian shifting camp, with her sleeping bundle, her sticks, and her knives tucked into her leathers. This, Teyla tells herself, is the true feeling of coming home.

The village has not changed, though the need for the illusion it provides has long since passed. Most of the people are working in the fields, harvesting tava, but there is only one that Teyla has come here to see, and she is present, sitting among the looms in the empty weaving hut.

Sora looks up, the fine lines around her eyes deepening as Teyla approaches her from the sunside. "Teyla," she says, and she has been tempered by the years. The pride is still there, but the arrogance has gone, worn down by years of conflict.

"Yes," Teyla says, and she takes Sora's hands when they are offered. Genia's sun has darkened Sora's skin, and her flesh is not so taut over her bones as it once was. Her hair has darkened to nearly auburn, except where silver streaks the curls at her temples. Teyla thinks of her own body, worn to whip-thinness by her unrelenting pursuit of the warrior's art. She prefers Sora's softened curves, the proof of childbirth and suckling infants. "I have come," Teyla says, although that much, at least, must be obvious.

"It is hours yet until dinner," Sora says. "Come and sit with me." She knows without asking that Teyla intends to stay. The Genii alliance has never been easy, but it has been intact long enough that they have sent messages back and forth. Teyla can't remember, though, the last time they actually talked.

She takes a seat beside Sora on the sun-warmed stone bench just outside the weavers' hut. Teyla's bones creak as she sits; her exercises no longer sit lightly on her, but the ache is soon soothed by the warmth. Sora calls to a young boy, his hair as bright as tava leaves and his grin wide and impish. She asks him to bring valeran juice, chilled, and the boy sing-songs, "Yes, granma," before he goes.

"You are a grandmother," Teyla marvels.

"Four times over," Sora answers, with a twinkling smile. "And you?"

Teyla could speak of Ronon, of John, of Elizabeth; of moments offered and moments sacrificed; of the children of Athos-of-the-mainland who trail after her teachings each time she visits. Instead, she only shakes her head, and rests her arms along the bench behind Sora's shoulders. "No," she says. "You are the lucky one."

Sora settles her body against Teyla's, in the warm forgiving sun of Genia in autumn. "Yes," she says. "I am."

The End

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