DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story do not belong to me. No copyright infringement intended- only fun!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I think I promised more Teyla/Elizabeth! Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
After watching the retreating back of the messenger, Elizabeth closed the door to hide back away in the seclusion of her own quarters. Usually when a member of the Atlantis team had overstayed their allotted period on another world- especially by the length of time Teyla had- she would be the first to greet them, the first to berate them for worrying her. However, Teyla's absence had affected her to an unexpected extent: she felt mild terror at the return of the Athosian.
Major Lorne had returned two days ago, beaten and bruised, from a so-called 'friendly' planet in the Pegasus galaxy, reporting that he'd lost Teyla during his battle for freedom but he was sure she'd managed to hide from his attackers. A team had immediately been sent to the planet, but to no avail. The fear that had settled on Elizabeth when she'd seen John walk back through the Stargate, his determination smashed, had surprised even her. She hadn't slept in two nights, nor had she actually set foot in her office until the rest of the city was slumbering. In short, she'd been concerned, that much was plain. What was astonishing, then, was that she wasn't rushing to meet the Athosian.
A knock on the door soon shattered her pensive state. Imagining it to be Rodney wittering on about his latest Atlantean discovery, she ignored it until a voice- detached, empty almost- said, 'Elizabeth, are you in there? It's Teyla.'
What struck her first was the tone of voice; second was the form of address- Teyla almost always adhered to exceedingly polite terms of address, even after all the time they had known each other. 'Come in.'
The door opened. Teyla slipped through and Elizabeth barely contained her gasp. Great gashes split both skin and fabric and, as the congealed blood from them hardened, bruises on every other piece of exposed skin glowed purple. Around the wrists and ankles- she was wearing no shoes and shredded socks- there were unmistakable rope marks.
Elizabeth immediately stood. 'You need to see a doctor.'
'Teyla, I really think '
The Athosian closed the door. 'I have already given my answer to Doctor Beckett.'
'I can't believe he let you leave,' Elizabeth answered.
'I did not give him a choice. I had hoped '
'What can I do?' she questioned swiftly.
A glimpse of a relieved smile crossed Teyla's face. 'Thank you. Fresh clothes, perhaps.'
'And something to clean your wounds, of course. Stay here,' she instructed, moving to the door.
'Elizabeth?' Teyla muttered suddenly.
She turned. 'Yes?'
When the Athosian looked away quickly Elizabeth took the hint and left the room. Teyla's quarters were closer than the infirmary so, electing to pick the clothes up first, she headed there.
The small apartment was tidy, mathematically so. It wasn't a surprise, Elizabeth knew Teyla to be that sort of person; yet she was slightly perturbed by the obvious signs of Teyla clearing up her life before a mission, as if she never expected to return. A part of life for the Athosian, but something Elizabeth never wanted for any member of the Atlantis party.
Unsure of what Teyla wanted she gathered both nightwear and day clothes, stowing them in an available rucksack before proceeding to the infirmary. The raised voices were audible before she reached for the door handle.
'What do you mean, she wanted to go?'
'I tried to stop her, believe me.'
'Portman saw her come through the gate, he said she was in no state to go anywhere!'
'Short of stunning her there was no way of me even getting close. She wouldn't let me anywhere near.'
Elizabeth swallowed then entered fully into the debate raging between John Sheppard and Carson Beckett. 'I could hear you in the corridor.'
John crossed his arms and cast a glare at Carson. 'I heard Teyla was back. This idiot let her walk out of here.'
'As he said,' she answered, 'he wasn't given a great deal of choice. Teyla's with me,' she added by way of explanation. As John made to move she quickly continued, 'You'll be disobeying a direct order if you go anywhere near my quarters.'
He sighed, frustrated. 'I want to see how she's doing!'
'Not yet. Now, I want to talk to Doctor Beckett, haven't you got some work to do?'
Mumbling something indistinct, he left. Carson, resting against one of the beds, said, 'Thank you.'
Elizabeth nodded. 'What exactly happened when she came through the gate? Were you there?'
The doctor was quiet for a moment. 'It looked like she'd suffered the worst beating of her life. I thought Lorne's injuries were bad but No, this was beyond belief. We're lucky she isn't dead. I only caught a glimpse of the bruises and whatnot but I'd guess some of them were a couple of days old.'
'Meaning she was captured immediately?'
'Aye, I'd guess so. And did you see the '
'The rope marks.' Elizabeth briefly closed her eyes. 'Yes.'
'Are you thinking what I'm thinking?'
'Yes,' she admitted, well aware her voice was much less steady than she would've liked.
Five minutes later she left the infirmary with the necessary supplies. When she returned to her own door she paused for more than a minute before going through it.
Teyla, she found, was looking out of the window over the rest of the city. For a few seconds she showed no knowledge of Elizabeth's entrance then she muttered, 'I can never understand the beauty of Atlantis. It is like nothing I have ever seen; I feel I should abhor it, yet I cannot. Where is the logic?'
Elizabeth joined her at the window and watched the breaking waves on the outskirts of the city. 'Sometimes there isn't any.'
'I have realised that.'
Clearing her throat, Elizabeth drew the Athosian's attention to the box of antiseptics Carson had collected. 'Shall we do this in the bathroom?'
It was an odd situation to be in; curled up on the tiled floor of a bathroom tending to someone else's wounds. It was something she associated with her youth, most likely because she had last done this for her younger brother when he had slipped down the basement steps and hadn't wanted to admit it to their parents. Never had she thought she would be in that situation again, yet, as she kindly averted her eyes as Teyla struggled with her ripped garments, she realised the trust both her brother had placed in her then and the trust Teyla was placing in her now.
Teyla settled gingerly on the floor, her back to Elizabeth. There were too many cuts to number and bruises on that one piece of body to number, and it was with an inward wince that Elizabeth went to wring her cloth- she knew how much this was going to sting. It was surprising, then, that Teyla didn't flinch when the first drops of solution touched her tender skin. She didn't, however, and nor did she twitch while Elizabeth cleansed the rest of the gashes on the back. The water slowly began to gleam darkly and Elizabeth stood to refresh it at the sink. 'Carson could do a better job,' she said after a moment of silence.
'This is fine,' Teyla assured her.
After mixing another solution Elizabeth sat back down. 'What next?'
As a reply Teyla turned her body around so they were face to face. Looking at something in the distance, arguably the wall, she reached both hands around to remove her bra. Elizabeth bit forcibly down on her lip to prevent gasping out loud at the mass of teeth marks, punctures and bruises that adorned the Athosian's breasts. She grimaced as she lifted the cloth back up and dabbed it gently on the closest mark. Teyla's eyes didn't budge from her determined spot.
Completing the treatment on the arms next and then the legs, Elizabeth then dropped the cloth back into the water. There had been a moment a few minutes previously, when cleaning up the cuts on the left thigh, that Elizabeth had strayed too close to the fabric of her underwear and Teyla had flinched, grasping her hand tightly. Then, perhaps ashamed at showing emotion, she had released her suddenly and closed her eyes.
Elizabeth wasn't sure what to do next. 'Do you want to bathe or something?' she finally questioned.
Teyla nodded. 'That would be agreeable.'
'Well, there's fresh towels in the cupboard and ' She faltered and cleared her throat. 'Anything you need, you just have to ask.'
When she'd left the bathroom and heard Teyla lock the door Elizabeth went to her bed and sat down heavily. Within her reach were the ripped top and shorts Teyla had removed from the bathroom as soon as she had taken them off, and now Elizabeth gingerly fingered them. Feeling the congealed blood stuck to the hem of the shirt she let it fall. It was then she realised she was shaking.
It was almost an hour later that Teyla emerged, wrapped in one of the soft white towels Elizabeth favoured. Her hair was towelled dry and, though the bruises still gleamed horrific colours, she looked infinitely better. In her absence Elizabeth had closed the blinds on the falling sun over Atlantis, lit her lamps and prepared some tea to Teyla's own recipe. The Athosian now sat down on the couch next to Elizabeth but didn't touch her mug.
'Thank you,' she said eventually. 'Thank you for not questioning me.'
'I have something else to ask,' Teyla continued, looking away again. 'I do not wish to return to my own quarters, I do want not to be alone.'
'I have more than enough space. There's nightwear in the rucksack,' Elizabeth replied. 'And if you want anything '
There was a short silence. Then Elizabeth stood. 'I'll be right back. I just have to check on things. Make yourself at home.'
Teyla nodded but said nothing. When Elizabeth closed the door behind her she allowed herself a moment. She was finding this more difficult than she could ever have imagined. Taking on the role as leader of the Atlantean expedition she'd expected to deal with most things but not this. In reality, none of what she'd found in Teyla Emmagan had featured in her expectations.
There hadn't really been a need to leave her quarters and check on things but, not wanting to alert Teyla to that fact, she walked around the city for several minutes, ducking behind pillars when she saw a possibility of being addressed.
When she returned Teyla had finished her tea and had made a makeshift bed on the couch. Elizabeth immediately protested, 'I'll be sleeping on there.'
Teyla continued with her pointless pillow-plumping. 'That won't be necessary.'
'Honestly, I think '
'No,' she answered firmly, sitting down.
Elizabeth took her own seat on the bed. 'Is there anything I can get you?'
'Yes,' the Athosian answered suddenly. 'Would you tell me something about Earth?'
'Anything. I wish to hear about somewhere distant.' Teyla, for the first time since her wounds had been tended, met her eye. 'Somewhere that I cannot picture.'
Elizabeth exhaled. 'Something I miss about home is my garden. I know it sounds odd but I think it was my haven. I worked hard at it. Whenever things got bad at work I'd hide there.' She glanced to Teyla to see if she was being listening to- she was. 'I loved roses mainly, so many varieties. And every one tells a story. Every single bloom has a history, thoughts even.' Bowing her head, she smiled. 'I sound crazy.'
'No. No, you don't. Few people can see the beauty of anything as precious as a flower. They desecrate it all,' she added with bitterness then attempted to immediately cleanse her face of the emotion. 'I wish to visit it- Earth.'
'You'll find they desecrate things too,' Elizabeth replied, closely watching the Athosian's face.
Teyla didn't blink. 'They have so much. A world untouched by the Wraith, a prospect of a future.'
'They're selfish, self-absorbed. They don't know what they have.'
'You say 'they',' Teyla observed. 'Not 'we'.'
'Yes, well ' Elizabeth blushed slightly. 'Perhaps I'm mistaken but I believe I see things from a different perspective. It's the Wraith and '
'And?' prompted the Athosian.
'And meeting new people,' she concluded hastily. 'Exploration.'
They fell into another bout of silence. Then Elizabeth, conscious of her own discomfort, made her excuses and slipped into the bathroom to get ready for bed.
She felt she would do well to leave her own quarters now and take refuge somewhere- anywhere- else. It was difficult to prevent questions leaping into her mouth, even trickier to swallow them back down again. Her eagerness to know precisely what happened in those missing two days was matched only by her apprehensive terror at the thought. She was trying to concentrate on being supportive but when there were unspoken words drifting around the room it was so very difficult.
After changing and washing her face free of her concerns Elizabeth returned to the bedroom, finding Teyla already resting on the couch. Though certain the Athosian wasn't asleep she didn't disturb her. Instead, she climbed into bed and switched and turned off the light.
She had no idea how long she lay awake, listening intently for a shuddered breath, a movement of covers, anything to provide proof for the fact that there was another body in the room. Nothing came to her knowledge and she fell asleep listening to the whisper of darkness.
When she awoke she wasn't at first sure why. Then she felt Teyla settle under the covers in front of her and her whole body stiffened. There was a faint glow which filtered through the blinds that signified it being the extremely early part of morning. The light was enough for Elizabeth to see the outline of the back of Teyla's body and one thing she could decipher, through the mass of cuts and bruises, was that the Athosian's arm muscles were relaxed in a way they hadn't been since she returned. Elizabeth, unsure what to do, stayed still.
Teyla said nothing. After a moment Elizabeth pummelled her reserves of courage and reached out a finger to move a floating hair back behind Teyla's ear. Teyla tensed her shoulders for a moment then shifted her entire body further into the bed. Elizabeth allowed her arm to gently rest over the Athosian's waist and she rested her head on her own pillow again.
A swift knocking on the door surprised them both several hours later. Under her touch Elizabeth felt Teyla stiffen and, as she sat up herself, she tried to smile reassuringly.
'Elizabeth, it's John. Are you in there?'
Glancing at Teyla, she slipped out of the bed and clambered for her robe. 'What is it?'
'Rodney thinks he broke something, you're needed.'
'I don't know. It was shiny, fixed onto the DHD. Can I come in?'
'No,' she said quickly. 'Look, I'm on my way, okay? Get back there and stop him hyperventilating.'
'Do I have to?'
'Yes,' she answered. Hearing his retreating footsteps, she relaxed a little. When she looked back to Teyla she found the Athosian's face as impassive as it had been for the majority of the previous evening. 'I should probably go see what's happening.'
When Teyla made no further attempt at conversation, Elizabeth grasped some clothes and moved into the bathroom to change. Leaving the room five minutes later to no acknowledgement she just slipped out of the door.
It was easier to concentrate on the task at hand so when she reached the control room she was fired up for a fight. Rodney, however, seemed to unconcernedly munching on a turkey sandwich. 'Oh, hi.'
'Hi?' she repeated. 'You've broken some Ancient equipment and all I get is a 'hi'?'
'What, that?' he said with his mouth full. At her grimace, he swallowed. 'Sorry. No, I fixed it. Handy little clip thing on the back. Bit crude but it did the trick. Didn't Sheppard tell you? He went to.'
Elizabeth frowned. 'Did he now?' Turning on her heel she returned as fast as she could to her quarters. Sure enough, her door was ajar and she saw Teyla on the bed through the crack and John standing, a concerned look on his face.
'I wanted to see how you were,' he said after a moment. 'We were all worried about you.'
Teyla's voice was, again, strangely detached. 'Really?'
'Yeah, of course. We went back to the planet but Well, you'd gone.'
'You speak as if I was not aware of that fact.'
John was obviously perturbed by her demeanour. 'I don't mean to.'
'And what, Colonel Sheppard, do you intend to achieve by being here?' Teyla's tone was scathing. 'Do you wish me to tell you that I do not blame you?'
'No, I '
'Or perhaps you want details. Well, I am very sorry to disappoint you.'
'Teyla, I '
Elizabeth pushed open the door and cleared her throat. 'John, a word.'
He watched Teyla for a few seconds but when she refused to even look in his direction, he exited the room, closing the door behind him. 'What's wrong with her?'
'Did you deliberately avoid me to get here?' Elizabeth asked, ignoring him.
'I wanted to talk to her!'
'I told you not to!'
'Look, I want to help her. Come on, Elizabeth, I'm not a vulture.'
She let out her breath. 'You really wanna help? You get to the control room, decipher the coordinates of the planet she came from and get there.'
'Is that another order?' he questioned.
'You can consider it one,' she confirmed. 'John, I want them found. It might not help her but '
'It'll sure as hell make me happier,' he concluded.
'Right. So consider all other missions suspended for your team until further notice.'
'Yes, Ma'am,' he replied, stamping off down the corridor.
Entering her quarters Elizabeth found Teyla at the window. 'I'm sorry.'
The Athosian didn't turn to her. 'Perhaps I should return to the mainland.'
'It can be arranged if you think you'd be happier there.'
'My people They will not understand.'
'Then you want to stay here?' Elizabeth asked carefully.
'Yes,' Teyla admitted. 'I wish to stay with you.' The pause was misinterpreted- Elizabeth had been trying to arrange some coherent answer- and the Athosian swiftly went to remove herself from the room. 'I shall leave.'
'No!' Elizabeth said, reaching out instinctively as Teyla passed. Her friend flinched at the touch initially then stopped. Her brown eyes raised slowly and Elizabeth tried to smile. 'I don't want you to go.'
Teyla briefly closed her eyes then nodded. 'Thank you.'
'So you'll stay?'
'Yes, I will stay,' answered Teyla, a small smile playing on her lips. That being the strongest positive emotion that had crossed her face since her return, it made Elizabeth grin too. Then Teyla's lips parted and she exhaled and moved back to the window. 'I am sure you have work to do.'
'It's nothing I can't do here,' Elizabeth assured her then added, 'But if you want to be alone '
'No, I would not.'
That arranged, they spent the majority of the day in a companionable silence. Elizabeth worked on her laptop on the couch, trying to decipher an Ancient code relating to genetics that had been foxing her for months, while Teyla perused an old leather-bound book in a chair by the window. Elizabeth didn't ask what it was: she knew Teyla would let her know if she wanted to.
It was early evening- after they'd eaten a large meal sent up from the kitchens- when Elizabeth closed her laptop for the night and stretched out. 'I'll get it someday.'
Teyla, who had been watching the sun set over the sea, turned and sat next to her on the bed. 'Of course you will- when you least expect it.'
'And what happens if you're always expecting it?'
'Well, there comes a time when you grow tired and disillusioned and you expect always not to find it.'
'Then you find it?' Elizabeth smiled.
'Then you find it,' confirmed Teyla. 'I have learned that when you stop looking you discover things you never knew you were lacking.'
She wasn't sure whether to ask the question but her heart won out. 'How did you learn that?'
Teyla glanced at her for a moment. 'I realised today that I never thanked you.'
'You invited me so openly into the city, and allowed me to stay. It was a peculiar kindness.'
'Why peculiar?' questioned Elizabeth. 'Because we were almost drowning at the time?'
That raised a smile. 'No. I think I rather feared I did not belong here for a time.'
'I hope you don't feel that way now. You belong here. You're as much a part of this city as Rodney is.'
'Don't put me in such high company!' answered Teyla, laughing. 'In all seriousness, thank you.'
'Teyla,' Elizabeth said after a moment. 'I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm very glad you've decided to stay.'
'Me too.' There was a lengthy pause. 'What is youth like on Earth?'
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. 'What, childhood?'
'Yes. Tell me about yours.'
She hesitated, but only for an instant. 'Well, my father was what you'd call a disciplinarian '
Their conversation lasted well into the night. Elizabeth had opened a bottle of wine and fielded all Teyla's questions about the intricacies of Earth life with enjoyment. Nothing stalled between them all evening: in fact, the reminder that things might've been amiss were the mark on Teyla's body. Occasionally, Elizabeth's smile faded slightly but when she found the Athosian noticing her changing demeanour, she quickly tried to lift her spirits. The evening was mostly enjoyable, however, and it was with a heavy heart that Elizabeth called time on it when her yawning became repetitive.
This time when Elizabeth returned from the bathroom she found Teyla perched on the edge of the bed. She didn't say anything at first, only slid under the covers. Then she tentatively reached a hand out to touch Teyla's shoulder. 'Aren't you cold?'
'Well, then,' she said.
Teyla nodded then got in beside her. Elizabeth turned out the light and lay, uncertainly, watching the shadows dance on the ceiling. That was that: they both fell into the relaxed state between consciousness and sleep.
A week had passed before Elizabeth realised. In that time there had been several updates from John, but none of any significance, and her hopes at catching the men who had assaulted Teyla were dimming. In truth, she wasn't at all sure what she wanted for them if they were caught. There didn't seem to be enough justice in the galaxy to compensate for the trapped figure locked away in a room. For that was one issue that concerned her- Teyla had yet to leave Elizabeth's quarters.
She hadn't wanted to push her at first but since today she herself had absolutely no choice in the matter of her leaving (a meeting with Rodney had been postponed several times already), she wanted to illuminate the option. 'I've got to go into the city today,' she began.
Teyla, having just finished showering, was towelling her hair dry. She paused at the announcement. 'Oh.'
'You're welcome to join me.'
The Athosian briskly continued her task. 'No, I don't think so.'
'It wouldn't have to be for long. I mean '
Elizabeth sighed. 'If you change your mind, I'll be in my office.'
Away from her room she had more time to order her feelings and emotions, even if she was supposed to be listening to the various gripes the crew felt fit to bestow upon her as soon as she sat down. It was difficult for her to acknowledge things to herself in Teyla's presence, as though the thoughts zigzagging across her mind were deliberately engineered to hurt the Athosian.
For once in her life Elizabeth Weir, Doctor, knew exactly what she wanted. She felt it every time she moved in the night and her arm touched someone else's warm skin. Each time she awoke and saw closed eyes on a picturesque chocolate skin, she knew. She didn't even believe she needed the stimulants. It was there all the time anyway. Perhaps Teyla knew it. Even if she did it made little difference. There wasn't anything in the galaxy that would make Elizabeth cross the line between friendship and anything else- she couldn't do that to Teyla. Which, of course, meant that any movement would therefore have to come from Teyla.
'Elizabeth, are you listening to me?' Rodney's voice broke into her thoughts.
'Hmm? Oh, erm ' Looking over his shoulder she saw Teyla about to knock at the door. Sitting up straighter she nodded for her to come in. 'Hi.'
Teyla smiled uncertainly. 'Hello.'
Rodney glanced behind himself. 'Oh Teyla Hi.'
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. 'Rodney, if you leave the paperwork with me I'll consider it.'
'Oh right.' Standing, he looked to Teyla. 'It's er It's good to see you.'
When he'd left and Teyla had sat down, Elizabeth said, 'He means well.'
'Yes, I know.'
'So What changed your mind?'
Teyla lifted her eyes up. 'You did.' There was a long pause. 'Is there anything I can do to help you?'
Momentarily lost, Elizabeth took a second to regain her composure then glanced to the pile of communications that had piled up over the week. 'That's the list of things that I apparently need to know.'
'Ah. Perhaps I could look through them for you?'
'That would be very helpful, thank you.'
When Teyla had started her work Elizabeth tried in vain to concentrate on hers. Every so often she found herself glancing up and resting her eyes on the bowed head, and her gaze lingered too long. Once she was caught and, though, Teyla merely smiled and returned to her work, it raised a blush on Elizabeth's cheeks.
John knocked on the office door just before lunchtime. 'Can I come in?'
'Problem?' Elizabeth asked, looking to see how Teyla was reacting to his presence. It seemed she was unconcerned, relaxed even- that made Elizabeth smile.
'Um not really,' John answered after a moment. 'Just had an audio message through- trading opportunity. Apparently got our address from one of our friends.'
'Oh, okay. I'll be along in a minute.' Watching him leave she then turned to Teyla. 'Could be promising.'
'Yes, new allies perhaps.'
'Wouldn't that be something?' Elizabeth stood. 'Are you staying here?'
Teyla nodded then, as Elizabeth passed, she reached out and took her hand. 'May we talk this evening?'
'Of course,' she answered, feeling a lump rise in her throat. 'I'll '
'See you later?'
'I won't be long.'
Exiting the office Elizabeth shook herself free of the emotions currently occupying her mind and tried to concentrate on the task at hand. Meeting John and Rodney in the control room, she listened to the message sent by the leader of a tribal community on Masatee, a planet they had visited but not discovered any life on, only remnants of a past. The explanation for that was that the tribe had hidden in underground chambers and, considering that each the Stargate activated it could be the Wraith calling, Elizabeth fully understood their apprehension at meeting strangers.
They had, however, done their research from the unmentioned common friends and addressed the leader of Atlantis by her full title. They also wanted to meet as soon as possible- directly with her.
'Well, we can't invite them to the city,' Rodney said.
'I wouldn't suggest it,' Elizabeth replied, thinking for a moment. 'Lieutenant Parker can escort me.'
'Wait, I can '
'John,' she interjected, 'you've hardly slept this last week, you've been off-world at every opportunity and I commend that. I'd also appreciate you being fit to do it again tomorrow. So stay here.'
He reluctantly nodded. 'Alright. You want me to keep an eye on Teyla while you're gone?'
'No, leave her be. I shouldn't be more than a few hours.'
It must've been over an hour before concern started to seep into Teyla's thoughts. So absorbed in looking through- and occasionally smiling at- the memos sent to Elizabeth over the last week, she was kept from thinking where the woman herself might have got to. When the thought did cross her mind the image of Elizabeth which invaded her consciousness made her falter and fumble the papers she was holding. Cursing, she kneeled to collect them.
There it was- the physical manifestation of her emotions: she was only relieved that Elizabeth hadn't been there to see it. She would have been embarrassed to say the very least. Still, had Elizabeth been in the room, Teyla knew her reaction would've been a small smile and, perhaps, a blush- one in the same vein as a few hours previously when their eyes had met. The recollection of it almost made her fumble again.
As she was seating herself at the desk once more there was a knock at the door and John entered. 'Hi.'
She nodded and attempted an easy smile. 'Did you want something?'
'Thought you might be wondering where Elizabeth was,' he said, quite uncertainly. She could hardly criticise his demeanour- she had been less than kind to him since her return. It hadn't been a question of blame, rather she had just required the presence of one particular person.
'So Where is she?' Teyla asked when he failed to continue.
'Oh, er Yeah. She's gone off-world for a little while. Diplomatic mission.'
'Yeah. She shouldn't be much longer.'
'Thank you for informing me,' she said.
As he began to leave, she muttered, 'John, I wish to apologise.'
He turned back, shaking his head. 'No, you don't.'
'I have hardly been fair to you.'
'I understand,' he replied then quickly added, 'Or maybe I don't, but I'd like to.'
'Some other time perhaps,' she answered, the thought making her skin crawl. 'Thank you for telling me about Elizabeth.'
After he'd gone she sat back in her seat, feeling slightly better than she had previously. Not only had she learned that Elizabeth was fine- of course she was- but she'd relieved some of that inner burden of guilt for her ignorance of all but one Atlantis resident over the previous week. She hadn't wanted to see anybody else though, the only person she could trust herself with was Elizabeth. Which was a paradox in itself, because before the mission she hadn't wanted to spend anymore time than necessary with the Atlantean commander. There had always been worries at the back of her mind; she had been scared of saying something she would regret. Being in the same room as Elizabeth very often had that effect on her, she would gladly divulge her deepest secrets. It had been a danger she could not allow. She had avoided such situations. Now Well, it probably mattered as much, yet she cared little. When she awoke in the night, her head full of brutal images, she needed to reach out to Elizabeth- it was a requirement. She was only thankful that Elizabeth accepted that without hesitation. That was one of the only things that would make her smile at the moment, along with the blush that occasionally adorned the leader's cheeks. It enhanced her beauty.
Trying to return to the diminishing pile of memos, she lifted up the top one. The Genii wished to trade. She refrained from laughing aloud. No doubt were they to attend a meeting it would result in being caught in an ambush, a trap. A trap The paper drifted to the floor as a recollection touched her.
'Who's Elizabeth, Teyla? Who is she?'
Feeling nausea rising, she scraped back her chair and ran as quickly as she could to the control room. 'John!'
He turned, as did Rodney next to him. 'What is it? What's wrong?'
'Show me the symbols of the planet Elizabeth went to.'
'Now!' she insisted. Immediately, Rodney brought them up on a nearby computer screen. Teyla closed her eyes then balled her fist tightly. 'It's a trap.'
John glanced to Rodney. 'Pardon?'
'That is one of the planets I was taken to. Elizabeth is in grave danger.'
'Open the Stargate,' Rodney said suddenly. 'Radio Parker.'
'No,' she answered quickly. 'That will alert them. These men are vicious, Doctor Mackay.'
He sighed. 'What then?'
She looked to John. 'Get Ronon and get a jumper. We are doing this as I wish.'
Thankfull, he did not argue and several minutes later they were stepping into the Puddle Jumper. Teyla could not stop her mind from racing. This was her doing. She hadn't been able to prevent herself from uttering Elizabeth's name but she'd forgotten the moment. Perhaps it had occurred when she was drugged. It was irrelevant now- it had occurred and Elizabeth was
'Okay,' John muttered. 'Let's go.'
'Wait,' she instructed, taking various instruments from the first-aid box and hiding them about her person. 'Go into invisibility mode the moment you get through the gate and land immediately. I have to make it appear as if I have stepped through the gate alone. Then '
As she outlined the rest of her plan, John and Ronon grew incredulous. 'No way. I'm pulling rank on this.'
'Do you want Elizabeth to be brutalised and then murdered?' she questioned angrily. 'I know these men, I know what they want.'
'All the more reason you shouldn't give it to 'em.'
'Would I suggest this,' she answered after a moment, 'if I did not believe it was the only way?'
Behind her, Ronon finally spoke. 'Trust her.'
When John started the engine she threw him a grateful glance. Then she steeled herself: she was shaking and she knew any weakness would mean injury to Elizabeth. Elizabeth There was nothing in the galaxy which meant more to her. She had intended to state that so many times in the last week and she hadn't. Fear had beaten her. She should have said it the day she returned, the moment she'd knocked on Elizabeth's door. She should have but she hadn't.
They were through the Stargate. Leaping from her seat, she merely nodded at her companions as she exited the rear of the ship.
It looked the same, this hideous planet, as when she had been thrown down onto the blistering grass in the heat of the noon sun. Unable to lift herself- her body had felt so heavy- that she was simply forced to wait for transportation. A polite word for the way she was jostled through the Stargate. But she never allowed them to break her, or to see more unconcealed pain than was necessary. That was the reason they had taken Elizabeth.
Stepping over the greenery lightly, she spotted several uniformed figures laying outside the closest copse of trees. Scanning her eyes over the escort team, she deemed they had been drugged, probably from the cover of the trees. It was just the sort of cowardly trick she'd expect.
It took her five minutes to arrive at the imposing vertical rock formation she recognised. There she paused. 'Where are you?' she called loudly after a moment. Her voice echoed eerily through the stone; until it faded entirely she knew she wouldn't get an answer.
When it finally disappeared into the air, a rough voice yelled, 'Come through.'
Inwardly clenching at the order, she nevertheless did as commanded and stepped into her worse nightmare. Sat on a rock, directly in front of her, was Elizabeth, bound and gagged, though her eyes were frantic. It was with a tremendous effort that Teyla contained her emotions and surveyed the three brutes also within the rock formation. The ringleader was stood behind Elizabeth, wielding a knife. His two sidekicks- inferior in the way that they did not move without his approval- were flanking her. Teyla knew that when she stepped fully inside they would cover the gap to her escaping. The situation was just as she had anticipated.
Avoiding meeting Elizabeth's eye, she waited to be addressed. 'Very nice of you to join us, Teyla.'
'You knew I would,' she answered dismissively, glancing about to test her stomach's capacity for hideous recollections. It flipped, but that was all.
'Yeah,' he drawled. 'Figured it. Now we got your previous Elizabeth an' all. Me and her been chatting,' he went on after a brief pause. 'And I don't reckon you've told her.'
She couldn't allow herself to look at Elizabeth, she knew that much. 'Told her what exactly?'
'That you was screaming her name the entire time.'
'Perhaps I don't lie,' she said icily.
'Alrighty, then,' he said, showing her his palms and the yellowing teeth he kept so tightly hidden under his beard. 'You weren't yellin' it. But we heard it, all of us. Heard you whispering her name when we was gettin' acquainted.'
'It was irrelevant,' she said, her stomach flipping again.
'Course it was, sweetheart.'
'What do you want?!'
The smile she loathed made a reappearance. 'We want you to watch.'
She knew she betrayed her emotions, but it couldn't be helped. Her eyes had involuntarily slid to Elizabeth's and the fear currently flickering in them was almost more than she could bear. 'I came alone,' she said suddenly.
'What of it?' he questioned.
'I came on a ship,' she elaborated, knowing Elizabeth would grasp her intended meaning. 'It is a valuable piece of equipment.'
'We don't need no ship, honey,' one of the henchmen muttered, taking a step towards her.
She stood her ground. 'It can help you more than you realise.'
'Think we'd rather stay here,' the leader answered conversationally, putting a hand on Elizabeth's shoulder. It was to the Atlantean commander's credit that she didn't flinch.
Teyla had to battle much harder to retain her impassive face. 'Let her go. You do not need her.'
'That's where you're wrong. You and her have got some wacky connection thing going on.'
'If you were hoping I would let you harm her, you're mistaken. If you want anything from me, you may have it. Anything except her.'
'But she is what we want, Teyla.'
'She has done nothing! Why involve her in this game?'
'She's important to you, ain't she?'
'No,' Teyla lied smoothly. 'You misunderstood. I am aware of her- and of her people. We are merely traders with each other. If I spoke her name it was only in the knowledge that her people alone could help me.'
'So if we was to kill her here and now?'
'You would simply set in motion a chain of events you cannot anticipate. Her people number many, you would not escape.'
'Well, why ain't they here?'
'They soon will be.'
'Best be moving along then,' he answered, raising his knife towards Elizabeth's throat.
Teyla inwardly flinched, but focused on her task- she had to lure him out from behind the rock. 'I don't understand you,' she said, stepping forward two paces. As expected, the two henchmen closed her escape route. She tensed her leg to assure herself the tiny radio was enclosed within her trousers. 'You claim to be so careful and you have a plan that would allow you to escape, yet you have not bothered to search for weapons.'
The leader smiled. 'Well, no, I ain't. Bob, John- get right on that, boys.'
When they approached her, she quickly turned to the left and launched one against a stone pillar and moved straight towards the one on her right, arms raised. Talking over her shoulder, she said, 'Really, I would expect you to do that yourself. You insisted on it before.'
Out of the corner of her eye she saw him lower the knife and begin to move around the boulder. 'You look like you're insistin' on it now, sweetheart. Missed me?'
Though a wave of nausea rippled through her at the words, she allowed him to clear the circumference of the rock before she said, slowly and deliberately, 'Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard will ensure you pay for what you have done.'
Swiftly, raising her leg she pushed the second henchman out of her path then turned and ran, dodging the leader who was fast approaching with his knife brandished. Diving towards the rock, she hurled herself and Elizabeth over it as she heard the unmistakeable plop of a smoke grenade. Landing on the grass, she pressed her body over Elizabeth's and muttered, 'Stay down,' before pressing her lips against the commander's forehead.
It was over fairly quickly. Shots were fired but Teyla didn't lift her head. Only when the shouting ceased and she found John above them did she relinquish her grip on Elizabeth. She searched her face apprehensively as she gently removed the gag.
Then John questioned, 'You both alright?'
Looking away, Teyla answered, 'I believe so.'
'Elizabeth?' he asked.
'Erm Fine. Thank you.' She paused and Teyla could sense the inner struggle even as she herself stood and began walking towards where Ronon was examining the bodies on the ground.
He glanced up as she approached. 'They're all dead.'
Barely looking, she carried on in the direction of the Stargate. 'Good.'
Elizabeth arrived a few minutes later, along with John and Ronon, who were both helping members of the escort team. Ronon went back to collect the third one. Having already secured the co-pilot's seat, Teyla didn't turn around. She heard everyone seating themselves then found John settling beside her. 'You okay?' he asked quietly.
'Of course,' she answered. 'Shall we go?'
Back in Atlantis, the jumper was surrounded by crew members almost immediately. In the bustle of medics pushing aboard, Teyla managed to slip delicately from the ship. As she passed Carson kneeling beside Elizabeth, she momentarily glanced over and saw the Atlantean leader watching her. Feeling an uncomfortable sensation in the region of her stomach, she continued to press outwards into the jumper bay. Then, without a backwards glance, she ran off towards her quarters.
Twenty minutes later she found herself back in the jumper bay, though this time it was deserted. It was taking too long, she knew. It would be easier if it was swifter, she wanted to just
'This is where you're hiding.'
Her heart sank at Elizabeth's voice and she couldn't turn around. 'I was not aware I was hiding.'
'Well, I couldn't find you so ' A few seconds then Elizabeth sat down beside her on the step and glanced at the bag at her feet. 'Going somewhere?'
'I have asked Lieutenant Faber to take me to the mainland.'
'Oh ' There was a lengthy pause during which Teyla gazed straight ahead. 'I thought you'd decided to stay here.'
'I think I would be better there,' she said in a measured tone.
'Okay.' Elizabeth stood and moved forward several paces. 'You saved my life today.'
'I only did what anybody would have,' replied Teyla, unable to keep her eyes from Elizabeth Weir's back.
'They er While we waited they gave quite the vivid account of what happened last week.'
'Their capacity for lying is enormous, you must realise that.'
'Yes,' Elizabeth conceded. 'Of course. But if a fraction of what they claimed was actually true '
'Please do not speak of it,' Teyla said quickly.
'No. Sorry. Still I don't want you to go.'
The words she had first heard a little over a week ago prickled her conscience. If Elizabeth wished her to stay then But no. There could never be anything more than friendship between them, she had always recognised that. It was only that she had allowed herself a period of weakness as she returned to normality. And some normality! It was because of her that Elizabeth had fallen into the hands of those men, she had been picked because of a slip of the tongue at a moment when she couldn't keep silent. How could that possibly be reconciled with her feelings without prompting this leaving? Teyla did not know. 'I am sure Atlantis will survive,' she finally said.
Elizabeth glanced briefly over her shoulder then directed her gaze at an indecipherable spot. 'Maybe. But I know you'll be missed. John '
'Will cope,' she interrupted. 'I am not irreplaceable.'
'He won't want to replace you, and neither do I.'
'It must be done.'
'Why? Come on,' Elizabeth prompted. 'I need more than that.'
'But I cannot give it,' Teyla replied, casting her eyes over the ground as an alternative to watching the heaving shoulders of the woman in front of her.
'You know, I I promised myself I wouldn't ' Elizabeth half-turned then changed her mind. After a pause, she said, quite deliberately, 'If you want to leave there's obviously nothing I can do to stop you. I only wish you'd reconsider.'
'I am glad you are safe,' she said by way of answer.
'It wasn't your fault. I hope you realise that.'
'Yes,' she lied carefully. 'I am aware you do not blame me.'
'Is that the same thing?' Elizabeth questioned softly, turning back to face her.
Teyla bowed her head. 'You should rest.'
The Atlantean leader considered her for a moment then nodded, moving towards her and extending a hand. 'I'll miss you.'
After slight hesitation, Teyla took the hand, concerned at the wave of emotion the simple touch instigated. She let go. 'Likewise.'
'Bye, Teyla,' Elizabeth said eventually before leaving the jumper bay swiftly.
Deflated and dejected, Teyla buried her head in her hands. Lieutenant Faber was talking much too long- anymore of this and she might unwittingly change her mind.
To keep her thoughts away from that prospect, she opened the bag at her feet, trying to decipher whether she had left anything of value in her quarters when she had swept them clean.
'No ' he muttered aloud. She knew what was missing precisely where it was.
With the hope that Elizabeth had neglected to return directly to her rooms, Teyla hurried towards them. So sure was she in her assumption that she didn't knock and it was to her great horror that she found Elizabeth Weir settled at her desk, her elbows resting on the very article she had raced to collect.
Elizabeth glanced up at her impromptu entrance, her face showing obvious signs of recent distress. 'Teyla?'
'I ' After clearing her throat of the lump which had formed within it, she tried again. 'I forgot my book.'
Something dropped on the face as she picked it up. 'Oh. I didn't open it.'
Teyla took it then, against her better judgement, sat down on the bed. 'There is no secret to it,' she said, opening the first page. 'It is a pictorial history of my people. It was passed along to me by Charin after my father was taken.'
'May I?' Elizabeth asked, indicating the abundance of space on the bed.
Part of her protested but she brushed it away and nodded. When Elizabeth sat down beside her their knees touched and she couldn't bring herself to move. 'These,' she said, pointing to the first page, 'were the first notable inhabitants of Athos. They helped mastermind the creation of the old city. And this,' she continued, turning several pages, 'this was my father.'
Elizabeth squeezed her hand sympathetically. 'I'm sorry.'
'I am fine.' Standing suddenly, she put the book in her place on the bed and walked over to the window. 'I will not deny I shall miss the city.'
'So don't go,' Elizabeth replied. 'Stay. Please.'
'I ' Her resolve was crumbling. 'No.'
'Teyla, I know this has hardly been the best period of time for you but I don't think running away is the answer.'
She sighed. 'And were I to stay I would be sure to create more trouble.'
'None of this was your fault.'
'That is not what I mean. Elizabeth please.'
The Atlantean commander was behind her in an instant, a hand on her shoulder. 'Talk to me.'
Exhaling heavily, she concentrated her eyes on a pier at the furthest edge of the city. 'On my home world it is not uncommon for one woman to ' She faltered and there was a silence.
'To desire another,' Elizabeth finished.
Grateful at not having to speak the words, she nodded. 'Yes. I am, however, unfamiliar personally with either the concept or the emotion. I think ' Her voice faded again.
'Teyla,' Elizabeth said slowly. 'It's okay.'
'No, it isn't, it's '
She found herself forcibly turned around and nose to nose with Elizabeth. 'It's okay.'
Trying to speak she found she couldn't and so instead merely acquiesced to Elizabeth's embrace. When it ended, some moments later, she returned to sit on the bed uncertainly. 'I feel '
Elizabeth moved once again to sit beside her. 'You don't have to explain. You know,' she went on after a moment, 'perhaps you should go to the mainland. For a visit. Don't think I want you to leave,' she added hastily, 'because I really don't but It's been a crazy couple of weeks. Maybe you need a break.'
After looking up and seeing nothing but complete sincerity, she smiled. 'I do have a jumper waiting.'
'And it'll be waiting to pick you up the minute you wish,' Elizabeth answered. 'I promise you.'
Teyla let out her breath. 'I am not quite sure I believe this.'
'You know what? Me neither.' There was a pause. 'You should go.'
She nodded and stood. 'Yes.'
'Oh Here,' Elizabeth said, standing herself and handing over the book. 'Don't forget this.'
Shaking her head, Teyla pressed it back into Elizabeth's hands. 'I will be back. Keep it safe for me.'
One brief embrace later and she was returning slowly to the jumper bay, unsure of how things had occurred but pleasantly surprised all the same.
The majority of her time on the mainland was spent in the repairing of structures after a minor storm caused some damage in a recent hit. It was easy work and she thoroughly enjoyed it, though Elizabeth Weir was never far from her mind. She often wondered at the state of things on Atlantis and longed to be there, but she kept herself immersed in her duties to her people for as long as they needed her. She wouldn't deny, also, that time away from the city gave her greater clarity and allowed her to deal with several of the demons she had been harbouring. Still, it was a pleasant day when John arrived to collect in the jumper.
'You all set?' he questioned when she leapt in the moment he landed.
'I think so.'
He smiled and lifted them into the air. 'Place ain't been the same without you.'
'Flattery will get you nowhere.'
'It was worth a shot though, right?'
'Oh, erm Elizabeth asked to see you when you return to the city. Probably wants to bring you up to speed on events.'
'Yes. Have there been any?' she questioned after a moment.
Smiling, she settled back into her seat and watched the mainland dissolve into the water.
Her jovial feeling didn't disappear when she reached the city. On her way up to Elizabeth's office she passed a dozen or more familiar and friendly faces and she felt reassured, home even. When she discovered the Atlantean leader to be away from her office she opted to try her quarters. After all, it was nearing evening and Elizabeth Weir had been known to retire before nightfall on occasion. Proceeding to that part of the city, she suddenly began to feel nervous. It wasn't irrational, considering all that passed between her and Elizabeth in recent weeks. Yet she then felt ridiculous for even feeling that way.
The door was ajar. Glancing in, she found the room empty but lit softly by candles on neatly-set table. She bit her lip, smiled and entered the room. Approaching the table she saw a note, simply bearing the word Sit. Complying, she tried to prevent her heart from galloping.
A few minutes later she heard footsteps and looked around as Elizabeth entered, carrying a casserole dish with the aid of gloves. The commander slowed her pace when she saw her then cleared her throat. 'Hi.'
Teyla couldn't keep the smile from her face. 'Hello.'
'Um I ' Placing the dish down in the centre of the table, Elizabeth sat down opposite her. 'My cooking isn't up to much. This could be a tad dangerous.'
'I will risk it,' she answered as their hands met on the table top. 'Really, you should not have gone to so much trouble.'
'It's no trouble, honestly. I can even say I enjoyed it.'
There was a pause whilst Teyla ran her thumb over the smooth skin adorning the back of Elizabeth's hand. 'I have missed you,' she said finally.
Elizabeth's face broke out into a wide smile. 'I've missed you too.'
'Has anything happened while I've been away?' Teyla questioned, lifting the lid of the dish carefully and spooning out some contents. 'What is it?'
'Supposedly a stew. Erm It's been fairly routine actually.'
'Not a word normally associated with Atlantis.'
'No, not really. Oh, there was one thing,' Elizabeth went on, beginning to serve her own food. 'Rodney quit.'
Teyla glanced up in surprise. 'What?'
'Don't get too excited. He had an argument with Radek over something completely ridiculous and he snapped, announced he was going home. He packed, we got as far as dialling and then he asked who would be taking over his duties when he was gone. He got so annoyed when I told him it'd be Radek that he shut down the Stargate and went back to his room in a huff.'
She laughed. 'I certainly wish I had seen it.'
'Well, it's entertainment, I suppose,' replied Elizabeth with a small smile.
They ate quietly, Teyla occasionally glancing up and seeing her counterpart blush. After dinner they moved to seats in front of the window with glasses of wine and a sunset to watch. The silence appeared unbreakable until Teyla eventually said, 'I feel odd.'
The admittance raised Elizabeth's eyes to hers. 'It wasn't the food was it?'
She chuckled. 'No. I think it is the situation which is rather strange.'
'Ah That I understand. I'm erm I'm sorry if I perhaps pushed you into this tonight. I just I wanted to '
Reaching her free hand across to cup Elizabeth's face, Teyla then leaned forward and briefly kissed the commander before pulling back again.
Elizabeth bit her lip. 'Was that you trying to shut me up?'
She shrugged. 'Perhaps.'
'It nearly worked.'
'I can see. I will remember it.'
'I'd be disappointed if you didn't,' Elizabeth replied. 'Do you want a refill?'
'Please, yes.' When Elizabeth moved to do that, Teyla sighed. 'There are things we've yet to discuss.'
A slight silence ensued. 'I didn't think you'd want to.'
'I don't,' she admitted. 'Yet I should.'
Forgetting the wine, Elizabeth sat back down and nodded. 'Right.'
Fixing her eyes on the last vestiges of sunlight over the sea, she said, 'I am not entirely sure what he told you. I can only assume it was entirely truthful. It is indeed true that the reason you were abducted is because I foolishly spoke your name. I am sorry for that.'
'I'm not,' Elizabeth said quietly. 'And you shouldn't apologise.'
Teyla inclined her head. 'I have had these feelings for you for some time. It would not be an exaggeration to say many months. During those months it is safe to say that I explored every avenue of avoidance. I was '
'Unwilling to spend more time with me than necessary. In hindsight, I can see that fairly clearly. At the time it didn't register. Let's just say I've been doing some analysing of my own over the last week.'
The Athosian met her eye and smiled slightly. 'I would never have believed it. At any rate, I was confused. I volunteered for every off-world mission available in order to avoid the issue. When Major Lorne and I were sent to collect soil samples from Marlogna I was exhausted. I had not been sleeping and I was not at my peak. I was ridiculous to volunteer for the mission, looking back I realise that. But I do believe our capture was unavoidable. We were shot from a distance with a light tranquiliser. It affected Major Lorne more swiftly than I: I was conscious to at least see some of what they put him through. The next thing I recall with any clarity was when I awoke on a distinctly different planet; the one you were taken to. I was kept sedated for the majority of my time there, and on the other planets I was taken to. As a result, I remember very little and what I can recall I would rather not speak of.'
'I understand,' Elizabeth answered. 'But thank you for filling in some of the gaps.'
Teyla was quiet for a few seconds. 'They were playing a game with me, not unlike the game the Wraith played with Ronon. When they found they could not break me to the extent they desired they released me. Then they decided to test me in another way, and I can admit that had they succeeded, their plan would have worked.'
'But it didn't,' Elizabeth reminded her, taking her hand. 'Keep focused on that.'
'I could have got you killed!' she said, standing and moving away. Suddenly she felt again as though her world was collapsing inward- any ease brought on from reciprocated desire disappeared. 'I '
Elizabeth came to stand behind her. 'Teyla, every night when I go to sleep I know that I could wake up to the Wraith. I would rather live under that threat whilst being happy.'
'And loving someone without ever telling them is recipe for productivity?'
Against her will, she began smiling and slowly turned around. 'The last thing I would ever want is for you to be injured because of me.'
Elizabeth placed both hands on her shoulders. 'That's not something I particularly want either. But I can't imagine for one second that it would happen.'
'You know how unpredictable things are here.'
'Yes, I do. But, Teyla ' Briefly, Elizabeth kissed her. 'It's worth the risk.'
Looking into Elizabeth's eyes she could see nothing but acquiesce. After all, there was wisdom in the words. Happiness was fleeting; it deserved to be snatched. No, more than that: it would be a crime not to take it. Then the Wraith would have won, her kidnappers would have won. 'Yes,' she said finally, smiling. 'Yes, it is.'
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