NOTES: Prompted by seldear’s Five Ways Teyla Never Bolted, and all of the smut :D
They’re all looking at him a little differently now.
John can’t really peg it down. They’re not mad at him, like he thought they might be; there’s no malice in Halling’s eyes, or betrayal in Marta’s, or disappointment or anger or hurt or disgust in the faces of Rafe, Eammon, Amar, Sade, or any of the other Athosians he’s come to know over the years.
He’s never spent a great deal of time on the mainland, and they only return to the city when disaster seems poised to strike, but they’re a generally warm and amicable people and sharing a planet and a precarious situation seems enough to have fostered some type of bond.
He had expected that to change. He hasn’t been here in about two months, since before Teyla left.
John knows that he should have come before now, but he made his excuses – to his friends and to himself. They didn’t have anything to discuss… he didn’t condone running away from one’s problems and he wasn’t going to make this any easier on her… he was fine; when she was ready to talk, he would listen… And after all, she’d reportedly turned everybody else away – Rodney, Elizabeth, even Ronon – who had come to try and talk some sense into her.
Nobody in Atlantis knows that it’s partially John’s fault, but he had expected that little fact to have made its way around the Athosian settlement in the intervening time. He had expected cold disinterest at the best, or outright hostility at the worst.
At the door to her tent, he pauses and looks around uneasily. It seems like half the settlement is watching him from the corners of their eyes as they go about their daily business. The other half isn’t even trying to mask their interest. He waits a moment, but no one calls out a warning or moves to push him away. Finally he clears his throat and calls out, “Teyla? Are you there?”
“Come in.” Her response is prompt, her voice even, exhibiting no surprise. Well of course; they would have seen the Jumper coming. They must have warned her. John doesn’t know if that makes him feel any better, but he takes a deep breath and pushes the flap aside.
The interior is rather small, but warm and well-furnished. In one corner he sees a fire, and a steaming pot suspended over it; nearby is a comfortable-looking pallet heaped with colorful blankets. Teyla is wiping her hands on a towel, dressed in a plain brown dress which, despite its plainness, is still undeniably flattering.
The scene is so domestic, so everything he’s come to not expect from her, that it takes him aback for a moment.
She speaks first. “Ronon said that you would eventually come to apologize.”
He frowns at her, doubly stung. “He told me you refused to see him.”
“I did. But what he stated on the other side of the wall,” she nodded towards the door, “was still very much audible on this side.” She hesitates, and the smile that had been tugging at one corner of her mouth slowly fades. “You owe me no apology, John.”
He’d been prepared to argue in favor of that point only seconds ago, and now he finds himself scrambling. “I should have come before this.”
Teyla shrugs and looks away, folding the towel with exaggerated care. “It was a misunderstanding.”
John crosses his arms, briefly closes his eyes, and relives it all over again. The texture of her skin, the taste of her in his mouth, the sweetly fading ecstasy as he rolled onto his back, and grinned and looked over at her – and was shocked by the expression on her night-shadowed face as she clutched the blankets to her chest and refused to meet his eyes. God, he’d been as receptive and considerate of her reactions and needs as his own, more than any other woman he’d been with because this was different, this was Teyla, and now here she was, muscles tense and bunched as though preparing to run or fight… He opens his eyes and says bleakly, “You made me feel like I’d raped you.”
Her head snaps up and she gapes at him, dark eyes anguished. “The Ancestors,” she breathes, like a prayer. “No. No. It just… happened. And that is not the way of my people. Not my way,” she corrects herself, scowling.
“You never told me,” he says, dismayed by the defensiveness in his voice.
She raises an eyebrow. “If I’d known that Athosian mating customs would be of such interest to you, I would have.”
Biting her lip, she looks to the fire. “Maybe. But I had faith in my ability to… resist any temptation that presented itself. And yet it turns out that I was not. I have been angry at myself, mostly, not you.”
John looks at his feet, not sure of what to say. Yes, the fact that Athosians had a very rigid attitude towards sex had once or twice penetrated his thoughts. He’s a guy; sex in one form or another is usually in his thoughts. But when he’d taken that step, pulled Teyla into his room, kissed her, felt her respond, that fact had conveniently excused itself from his mind. Maybe he just hadn’t taken it seriously, or maybe he’d felt that she’d been sufficiently assimilated into the more... 'progressive' social customs of Atlantis.
Maybe he just hadn’t cared. Damn, but he’d wanted her.
He still wants her. He's probably a glutton for punishment, but it's true.
“Come back,” he says.
She looks wary.
“This isn’t about me,” he promises hurriedly. “Or us. If you want to go back to the way things were… I can do that.” He hopes he can do that. “Or if you want to, you know, work on this, we can do that too. But in any case we need you. Everybody misses you. And every time I train with Ronon, he comes a little closer to snapping my neck.”
His attempt at levity falls flat; she doesn’t even crack a smile, just looks at him with a sort of wistful expression. “I don’t think I should.”
He sags. “Why not?”
“Because…” She sighs, brushes a stay wisp of hair from her eyes. “Because through this I’ve realized how far I’ve strayed from my roots, from the person I thought I was. Even living among you I felt sure that I was retaining… myself… what I’d been brought up to believe. But I don’t know anymore. I know for you it is… casual, even… recreational. But that is not me, John. That is… that is not me.”
To John’s surprise, Halling falls in step beside him as he returns to the Jumper.
“Will you be returning soon?”
“You bet,” says John. No matter how heartfelt Teyla’s assertions, an no matter how true any of them might be, he’s not letting it go. There has to be some way to convince her… to make her see that she means more to him than one brief, ‘recreational’ screw… Christ...
“I knew you would understand,” continues Halling, missing the steel in John’s voice. “On many worlds in this galaxy, sexual attachments are made and broken in a very careless way… cultures are so focused on repopulating their worlds between cullings that the social structure simply breaks down. There is envy and jealousy that tears apart would-be families… a complete lack of stability when a child does not truly know who his father is.”
“Unhuh,” grunts John, only half listening.
“We have made a focused effort to avoid this, you see, to look past the very desirable outcome to children and also take into account the family and community.”
Halling continues in this vein for the remainder of the short walk, and John dimly notices that his words seem a bit stilted, as though he’s memorized this little speech. Arriving at the Jumper, he stops and sighs. “Not to be rude, Halling, but why are you telling me all this?”
Halling blinks, looking surprised and a little put out. “Well, Colonel Sheppard… I realize that this is a difficult situation, but we all know that you are a good man. And we hope that, no matter what Teyla might say, you will continue to want to be part of their lives.”
John has a headache. It’s been lurking for the past few hours, but now it’s threatening to take center stage. He pinches the bridge of his nose and winces. “They who?”
Halling looks weary and a little helpless. He flails back towards the settlement. “Teyla and the child, of course.”
NOTE: (Well, you did bring it up.)
Back to you, Johnny!