Spoilers: Rising, Suspicion
Notes: Prompted by seldear’s More Than She Knows to write about Teyla rejecting John (bad shipper).
“I’m sorry, but I cannot accept this.”
John stared across the table and frowned. “Is this some kind of Athosian custom thing?” he asked uneasily. “It’s just a gift, Teyla. I’m not asking you to marry me.”
She ducked her head and flushed, and after thinking about it for a moment, so did John.
“You’ve had a rough couple of days,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant and ruining the effect by glancing nervously at nearby tables. Something that five minutes ago had seemed like an innocuous gesture of friendship now, because of Teyla’s refusal, felt like an indecent proposal. “And you’re minus one necklace, which is kind of my fault, so I thought…” He shrugged. At the moment, he wasn’t completely sure what he had been thinking. Or that he had been, period.
Teyla sighed and gave him a vaguely pained look. “How was any of that your fault?”
He shrugged. “You didn’t know that the thing was a Wraith transmitter. And I was the one that turned it on to begin with.”
“You did not know what it was either, and I was grateful to you for finding it.”
John opened his mouth, paused, then closed it. “Weren’t we arguing about something else a second ago?”
She pressed her lips together and looked down at the necklace, still sitting on the table between them where he’d first placed it. It was simple, really. Nothing elaborate, just five rectangular stones laid out like the rungs on a ladder, austere but with a definite sort of beauty. It reminded him of her, so he’d traded for it off-world from a funny little craftsman who’d been entranced by John’s sunglasses. It seemed like more than a fair trade considering what some people on Atlantis – namely Bates and his handful of cronies – had accused her people of, had accused her of personally. Like spying for the Wraith, for instance. And the other Athosians had been so offended that they had removed themselves to the mainland. John couldn’t blame them for not feeling welcome.
It had been Teyla’s decision to stay in Atlantis, but she had still been abandoned by the people with whom she’d spent her entire life. If he personally hadn’t put her in that position, then the expedition in general had. The least he could do was offer some… token of appreciation.
Only his motives were apparently not coming across the way he wanted them to.
Which made him wonder if he was just a big fat self-lying-to liar.
“If it makes you feel uncomfortable to be singled out,” he said too quickly, “I can go give jewelry to Ford and McKay too.”
She finally looked up at him and smiled despite herself, but still seemed uncharacteristically self-conscious. “It is beautiful,” she said with feeling, brushing her fingers across the stones. “But…”
“I have some sense of propriety, Major,” she said softly. “And I know that you… I don’t wish that anyone in Atlantis should misunderstand why I chose to stay here,” her eyes flickering across the mess, “or to give Dr. Weir any suspicion that I am not fit to be a part of this endeavor.”
John felt himself slump in his chair, out of relief rather than dejection. She wasn’t pushing him away because she thought he was a slime-ball, but because she was worried that other people would talk. Well, it was true in a way; Atlantis was a closed-system, and judging by the events of the past few months gossip could move through the city faster than an energy-hungry angry black cloud creature. In a way it was kind of endearing that she felt others would think less of her because they thought she was—
His brain kind of stalled out there.
“Look,” he said firmly. “Just because I’m in charge when we’re on duty doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. I don’t know what you’ve heard about the military from McKay or anybody else, but we’re not a bunch of robots. Elizabeth isn’t going to kick you off the team because she thinks that we’re…”
Brain stall again.
She was looking at him speculatively.
“Friends,” he finished lamely.
Teyla smiled again, more slyly this time. “Friends,” she repeated.
John cleared his throat, pushed back his chair and picked up his lunch tray. “I’m going to go down to the gym, work off some of this… whatever it is that I just ate. If you don’t want it,” he nodded at the necklace, “you don’t have to take it. I’m sure there’s a nerd watching us right now who’ll be more than happy to take it and put it in his scrapbook. Either way, it’s up to you. I’ll see you later,” he said affably, to show that of course there were no hard feelings, and then he left.
When she joined him in the gym some time later, the mischievous glint back in her eyes, she gave him a more thorough ass-kicking than usual. It was all the answer he needed.
*whacks seldear on the back of the head* Tag, you're it!