Spoilers: Season 2 generally, most specific reference is to “Trinity”.
Summary: Their relationship started out with blind faith, trust in one another that they needed, but it only goes so far. Nothing stays the same forever. John/Teyla.
Authors Notes: Written for sjhw_tolerance for the SG Rare Pairings Ficathon. This is coming in a rather late, apologies, but my muses decided to cooperate finally. I've got two out of the “up to three requests” of Puddlejumper, angst and Carson Beckett – just missing the last, but hopefully it's still all good.
They are team members first and foremost. In a bizarre way, friendship seems to come second, and John isn't quite sure why. When they'd met, there had been a fairly instantaneous connection, strong enough for her to trust in him and extend that faith to those he called his friends. He'd have been lying at the time, though, if he’d said he trusted the others as implicitly as he does now. At the time, he’d barely known any of the other expedition members. They'd all spent months together, and he'd only just joined their little gang, with Sumner none too happy about his addition. But for all intents and purposes, he'd called them his friends, rather than colleagues or whatever, because it seemed like the thing to do when they were the only people from your home planet for countless light-years.
Damn, that had blown his mind back then, and yet it hadn't lasted long because today he's all too casual about the concepts that accompany living in another galaxy. Now they are his friends, for better or worse, and Pegasus is less foreign than it used to be. To be honest, it's probably well on its way to feeling more like home than anyplace on Earth ever had. He doesn't feel out of place here, even when he should, and he knows Teyla has something to do with that. Just one problem – he has a nagging feeling that tells him he should be worried about what there is between them these days.
It's like the friendship is waning, much more slowly than it waxed, if he wants to keep up the changing seasons’ moon metaphor, but he doesn't. Planets always rotate – when their physics aren't being interfered with by Ancient devices and/or one Rodney McKay – and the leaves turn red, on most worlds, yadda, yadda. Change is inevitable, but relationships don't change for no reason at all. They slip away because of things you do, or don't do when you should, and that’s what was causing him to wonder.
He saw Teyla nearly every day, but he wouldn't have said he saw too much of her. Mostly it was on the job, professional as it were, though with their working environment that equated closer to buddytime than most. They also saw each other outside of that. Of course, given that Atlantis was both their place of work as well as rest, there was still that hint of professionalism, but they did stuff together as friends. They trained in the gym; they ate together in the mess hall; they watched films. He even occasionally visited the mainland with her. However, there was something missing from it all, from their exchanges. He had grown uncomfortable with the balance between them. That seemed like such a weird way to put it, such a Teyla expression, but it fit. That connection he'd felt initially was faltering. He remembers how it was - her taking it on faith that he needed to know more, leading him out to those ancestral caves and sharing her people's history, exposing herself to a perfect stranger in more ways than one, as she had let him slip on that necklace.
They still had moments – times when their working relationship faded into the background, leaving just John and Teyla talking to each other - but those were less frequent and shorter in length. He was beginning to think she was pushing those away, that she was gradually pushing him away. He could have sworn he was meant to be the guy with the intimacy issues - he didn't do sharing real well, not with any of the things that mattered the most - yet she was the one who was closing up, drifting back into a distanced, safe relationship that they'd never had before.
When had it all changed? He looks across to her, sitting sedately in the co-pilot’s seat, and he can't think of a clear answer. Eventually, she notices his staring and turns to face him, saying nothing, just returning the enquiring gaze. He can't read her most of the time. In contrast, she’s always seemed so good at reading people, but he can’t help wondering if she can’t tell what’s up with him anymore.
When had he pulled back, himself? Had he set the ball rolling? The doubt creeps in as he questions his own actions. Being in such a military position he wasn't meant to show favouritism, but he's pretty sure he fails there on all counts with his team members – not one couldn't be considered a friend, someone he'd risk his life for and maybe others lives, too, when he examines the choices he's often made in order to secure his team’s safety.
Bad move or not to show his feelings, it's not like he's stopped the natural moments between them, even if he hasn't expressed anything more. Is that lack of interest enough to have caused this reaction from her?
Ferrying a bunch of scientists across to the mainland means he has plenty of time to contemplate the status quo. In the back, Corrigan carries on in an impassioned debate with Marks and some new guy over the effects of Earth culture being introduced to Pegasus. He notes Teyla barely says a thing, except to respond politely to any questions they use to prove a point. She seems perfectly happy overall, but he can't shake that feeling that something is wrong deeper down, hidden tight enough that he can't tell what it is that bothers her. With all those supposedly observant anthropologists it seems ironic he's the one who sees past her stoic mask.
The journey is uneventful other than the fact nobody wins the argument, despite the valiant efforts of all parties involved to bring it to a head. Once he's sent the command for the doors to open, the gaggle of Social Scientists dismount in nevertheless high spirits, leaving himself and Teyla alone in the cockpit. He waits for her to say something, expecting a comment about the discussion that took place on the trip over here, because he's sure they must have amused her, but nothing is forthcoming. She simply gets up and leaves with her supplies, making a beeline for Halling. He follows her, strolling up behind, listening in from a distance, to find the two chatting amiably about the goings on with her people. Jinto runs up to his father's side, the now lanky teenager squirming out of his father’s grip as Halling attempts to hug him close. John takes this cue to join in the conversation, calling out a hello, but he feels Teyla's discomfort as he approaches. Taking up a position next to her, it's not long before he senses that the obvious smile from seeing old friends is fading because of his presence. She laughs a little less at a tale Halling tells than he would have expected, and as she glances over to him he sees the truth in her eyes as to why.
His heart lurches, shocked to see proof that there is something very wrong here with their relationship – making his excuses he heads back to the jumper, seeking solitude there. Sitting down, it hits him that she doesn't want to be near him, not compared to how she reacts to her own people. She's long ago abandoned them as a leader, handing over most responsibilities to Halling and others she trusted, but never had she seemed to regret that choice. Teyla hoped to accomplish more by fighting the wraith from Atlantis and she had always described giving up her leadership as a necessary sacrifice towards securing their safety. Maybe now she feels the cost; blames him. Could she feel they are failing in their battle, only struggling on instead of progressing towards the promised future?
The thoughts that flit through his mind cut into him, opening up old wounds. Life has been difficult over the years they've been fighting. The constant losses, the missed opportunities, the opposition in both galaxies – all of it has put them back, but all of it leads to one memory of his. It could just be that she is disillusioned with humans and the Atlantean quest they have going, but he's not sure it's just that. Sitting in the pilot's seat he wonders how long ago she might have started losing faith in him, and he recalls that moment – the moment between them that he feels most ashamed of – where she called him on his choice to leave behind those she called family and friends. The look she gave him was one of pure disappointment, one that had surprised him then. Maybe he should be surprised it doesn't happen more often.
Has he been waiting all this time for her to realise the impact of the crushing mistake that set it all in motion? His mistake, the one that most people who know it have ignored, until perhaps now. He woke the Wraith up, brought their wrath down generations too early for anyone to cope with. They've done a lot of things recently that could give her cause to complain – their treatment of Michael just one – but none of it would be happening if not for that first unfortunate incident. And if he had not reached out to her before that, wanting to know more of her and this strange place, then Athos might still stand and she still lead it.
Snapping out of that train of thought, he realises it's foolish. As damaging as he has been to her life, it's all done and it's hard to imagine her holding events against him – drawing back now makes little sense. Whatever he's caused, he's brought hope, too. But maybe not enough, he thinks, as he walks out of the jumper, catching her leaning over to play with Marta's baby daughter. The glorious smile is back on Teyla's face as the little girl holds onto her finger.
Alienation from most of her people is the price she decided she could accept, but since then Charin has died, and she has grown older, watching those around her on Atlantis die, whilst those on the mainland settle down. A stark contrast of what her future holds in store. It's the same as his, fighting in a team, but ultimately dying alone – leaving your people behind to live their lives, forfeiting your own to protect theirs. There's no way to change the reality of that future, but he wonders if bending the rules could soften the blow. He can tell now they need more than moments between them to satisfy their needs; they have to live, too and it has to be now, because there is no other time, no waiting for a future – that's what they'll die for, so they might as well live for it, as well.
And if they are to keep on fighting he must restore her faith in not just the possibility of victory, but in his desire for it, his willingness to try and to do as much as he can to save lives. Not just their lives – surviving alone isn't enough. One day she'll look to him again, with that same look of hope sparkling in her eyes, and he'll know they have a chance. It hasn't passed him by - the seasons are only revolving - then will be the right time, their time once more.