blue flamingos

Finding The Shape Of Me And You

Fandom:

Category/Rated: Slash, PG-13

Year/Length: 2008/ ~4059 words

Pairing: Teyla/Elizabeth, Teyla/Sam

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: It is her place with Dr Weir that Teyla finds most difficult to locate

Author's Notes: Written for [info]nepeace for [info]femslash08

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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Teyla does not know what to make of the Earth people at first. Their confidence simultaneously amazes and alarms her; she is not certain whether she believes that they will rid the galaxy of the Wraith as they speak of doing, or that they will all be killed in their ignorance.

Beyond that, she cannot understand leaving her world – her people – behind, with no certainty of returning to them.

"It's what we do," Dr McKay says when she asks why the journey was made. "Strive, go forward, push the bounds of the known universe, in search of scientific discovery and new worlds. Which, hey, now we have both."

"I see," Teyla says, though she does not. Major Sheppard and Lieutenant Ford look similarly unconvinced. "And for both of you?" she asks them. "Was the reason the same?"

Lieutenant Ford grins. "It's an honor to be chosen," he says. "And it beats standing around in the ice guarding scientists."

Teyla does not see why this is funny, particularly when so much of the role of the soldiers in Atlantis seems to be guarding scientists. She fears that the gap between her and Lieutenant Ford will always be a great one. "And you, Major?"

"I flipped a coin," Major Sheppard says. He shrugs as though it is nothing, but Teyla feels she knows him well enough, even after a scant few weeks together, to know that there is more to it than that. She also knows him well enough to know not to ask.

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Atlantis feels empty when her people have gone to the mainland; the population of the city is small enough that their absence is easily noted. Teyla moves her few things to a room near the other members of the expedition, out of what was beginning to be known as the Athosian quarter. If she is to be one of these people, she must learn to live with them, though she is still uncertain whether she can learn to live like them.

She has just completed her task when the chime on the door sounds. She expects that it will be John on the other side, come to invite her to some event with the other members of her team, but when the door slides open, it is Dr Weir standing there.

Like Teyla, she has changed from her uniform to her own clothing, in respect to the waning of the evening. Teyla thinks that she does not look much different this way; there is something in her bearing that speaks of command. Unlike Aiden, with his strange hat, or John and the other soldiers, who all dress in pants of a stiff, dark blue material, Dr Weir still looks smart, as though she might return to her office at any moment.

"I hope I'm not disturbing you," she says, offering Teyla a smile.

"Not at all," Teyla says. "Would you care to come in?"

Dr Weir looks uncertain for a moment before her smile returns. It is less relaxed now; the sort of smile she gives to Sergeant Bates when he is trying her patience. "Thank you, Teyla, that's very kind of you."

Teyla's room has a bed and two chairs, which look soft but are not. Still, it does not seem proper to sit on the bed when accompanied by the leader of her city, so she takes one chair, Dr Weir taking the other.

"You have some beautiful things," Dr Weir says, looking at Teyla's few possessions, the wall hangings she has carefully placed around the room. It does not yet look like home, nor feel like it, though Teyla is sure that will come, eventually. It is hard not to be reminded of the home she left behind, which she had lived in all her life.

"Thank you. It is kind of you to say so, Dr Weir."

"Please," Dr Weir says, her smile warming. Teyla does not understand how one can smile so constantly, with the burden of leadership in a strange place always on her shoulders. "Call me Elizabeth."

Teyla hesitates – on one hand, it would be rude to refuse the request, but on the other, it does not seem right after such a short acquaintance.

Dr Weir must see her hesitation, because the smile falls from her face, and she leans closer. "It would be a favor to me if you would," she says. "Everyone calls me Dr Weir, it makes me feel like I'm their teacher. At least when we're not in public."

"I –" Teyla begins. It still does not seem right, but it would now be far more rude to refuse, when Dr Weir asks it as a personal favor. "If it is your wish," she says finally. She should offer her own given name in return, but no-one can pronounce her title in their common language, and so they all use it already. "Thank you."

Dr Weir inclines her head, gracious in Teyla's acceptance. "I came to ask you if you could spare some time to spend with our anthropologists," she says. "Apparently, they were taking an oral history of the Athosians from some of your people, and they'd like to carry on with you."

"It would be my pleasure," Teyla says sincerely. As daughter of Tagan, the Athosians' history-keeper, she knows many of the old stories, though there are few now to share them with.

"Good." Dr Weir smiles, almost laughs, and it makes Teyla's own mouth twitch towards a smile. "I was worried Dr McKay would have turned you against the other sciences already."

"He has not," Teyla assures her. "Though he tries to often. I believe he was most disappointed to learn that Lieutenant Ford studied sociology as a young man."

"I'm sure he was," Dr Weir agrees. Her eyes are bright when she is truly amused, something that Teyla wishes she could see more often.

Teyla does not add that Rodney is perhaps more concerned with John's field of study, which John will not divulge. "Your people spend many years in study," she says instead.

"I suppose we do," Dr Weir says. "Some more than others, of course." She hesitates. "And amongst your own people? Do you have formal schooling?"

"For the youngest children. Before the last Wraith culling, the city of Athos was a place of learning for many on my world." She has only seen pictures, of course, renderings in the cave paintings which she showed to John on his first visit. There are hardly enough people left for the small classes they now hold.

"It must have been a magnificent place," Dr Weir says. "I can't imagine losing my whole world like that."

Teyla says nothing; she does not have to imagine it, now, with her home gone and her people left. She will not say, but she believes that Dr Weir does not have to imagine it so much either, not with her own world far beyond her reach.

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Teyla expects it to be many months before her team become truly familiar to her, but this is not so. She soon learns their ways of speaking, the meanings of unfamiliar expressions; she finds that she slips easily into her place with the four of them, somewhere between mediator and guide, both on other worlds and within the team.

Her place on Atlantis likewise comes easily to her, for the most part. She is not, as she feared, singled out for her different birth-place, but instead treated as simply another person from an unvisited land. The differences between peoples on Earth seem very great, in their own perception at least; the differences between their own world and worlds in Pegasus are hardly greater.

It is her place with Dr Weir that Teyla finds most difficult to locate. She is always friendly to Teyla, but this is no different to her behavior with many members of the expedition. In meetings, she listens to Teyla's words, though she does not always seem to hear them, and Teyla often wonders if she has wasted her breath by speaking them. This, too, is not entirely unusual. Dr Weir often allows John and Rodney to do as they wish, but this is far from a certain outcome, and John often seems frustrated that she does not agree with him more.

This is in public; in private, she and Elizabeth are very different together. Elizabeth comes regularly to her room, in the evening, when dinner is finished and people are not yet asleep. At first, it is with a purpose, a question such as the night after Teyla's people left for the mainland. Gradually, though, Teyla begins to realize that these questions are merely an excuse. If she allows it, Elizabeth will stay and speak with her long after her question, many times trivial, has been answered.

Teyla is unsure what exactly Elizabeth seeks from those evenings, though she is not unwilling to continue with them. They are, perhaps, becoming friends, or at least more than colleagues. They are both leaders of their people, bonded through that in a way they cannot be with any other inhabitant of the city.

And yet... Teyla feels certain that there is something more; that Elizabeth's pauses and smiles have a meaning beyond friendship, beyond the bond of two leaders. She is quite certain, in herself, that her own behavior has a meaning beyond this, fuelled by her late night recollections of Elizabeth's genuine smiles, the light, green scent of the perfume she sometimes wears. The touch of her hand, fleeting and light, against Teyla's own, and, when it is very late, and Teyla allows herself, the half-seen curve of Elizabeth's breast beneath her jacket, the press of her thigh against Teyla's in a crowded transporter.

What she is not so certain of is how to step forward, in this strange, secretive culture.

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Teyla knows the shield is too far away, too high, but she still imagines she can hear the water pounding against it. It seems barely possible that something they cannot even see is protecting them from the terrible weather outside, or that such a storm can pass them by, leaving their homes still standing. She is certain it will be different on the mainland.

She hears Rodney, behind a curtain, exclaim in outrage at something Dr Beckett has done, a familiar sound which brings a smile to her face. She wishes that John and Aiden were here also; the horror on John's face when he realized he had forgotten the deaths of two of his men was not pleasant to see. The two of them are now deep in the corridors of the city, assessing damage and looking for further bodies. Teyla imagines their grim faces and suppresses a shudder.

"Teyla?" Elizabeth asks from the next bed. "Is everything all right?"

Teyla produces a smile which does not feel real. "Everything is quite well," she says, though this is untrue. Her eyes go again to Sora, drugged into submission on the final bed. Despite her drugged sleep, created at John's insistence, she has still been strapped down. Teyla has not yet asked what will happen to her.

Elizabeth turns slightly to see what Teyla looks at. When she looks back, her face is sad and sympathetic. "Were you and Sora close friends?" she asks.

Teyla allows her gaze to wander to Sora again for a moment. "I had thought so," she says quietly. She does not yet know if she was wrong.

Elizabeth smiles, still offering sympathy that Teyla does not wish for. Her eyes, though, show something else. There is a familiarity there, a recognition of Teyla's own feelings.

Teyla rises from the bed, and moves to sit beside Elizabeth. So close, she can feel the fine tremors running through Elizabeth's slight frame. She is still cold, from the rain, despite the blanket wrapped round her shoulders.

Teyla presses their sides close together, and does not think about who Elizabeth was once betrayed by, to understand now how Teyla feels.

hr

It feels strange, to Teyla, to be celebrating the moon festival once more, so close to the last celebration, but there is no alternative. The seasons on Lantea are most different from those on Athos, and so the longest night arrives several months before it will on Athos.

Still, this is not wholly a bad thing, with so many in need of celebration, following the awakening of the Wraith, the flight from Athos, even the storm over the city. The moon festival is a chance to burn away cares in one of many small fires, a chance to dance in the shadows and think only of that one night. She is glad that so many of the Atlanteans have come, and that they join in so easily.

Though not all of them do, of course.

It does not surprise Teyla that Rodney remains on the edge of the celebration, refusing several offers to dance, including Ravi, who seems most distressed by his refusal. Teyla reminds herself to speak with Ravi on this matter; Rodney is close to twice her age, and it will not do for her to continue with these feelings.

Teyla is likewise unsurprised to see that Elizabeth does not join in, beyond one dance with Halling. Instead, she remains within the flickering light of one of the east fires, her cup held in both hands, her eyes on the three drummers providing the rhythm of the dance. It is just long enough into the celebration for several couples to have formed, though they will likely not go beyond hand-holding before the singing commences. Until then, they merely come together more often that any others, their hands touching for a moment longer than the dance requires. Teyla wonders if it is the same at Earth parties, though the arrival party in Atlantis was quite lacking in any form of dance.

Perhaps that is then her reason for picking her way around the edge of the dance towards Elizabeth and the fallen tree she has chosen as a seat.

Or perhaps it is merely her excuse, should she need one.

"May I join you?" she asks when she is certain that she will be easily visible to Elizabeth, no longer hidden by shadows. She is slowly coming to realize that Elizabeth lacks many of the skills considered essential in a leader of the Athosians.

"Of course." Elizabeth moves slightly along the tree, creating a space for Teyla.

They watch the dance in silence for a few moments, the drum beats distant at their remove.

"When do your people learn these dances?" Elizabeth asks eventually.

"They are not formally taught," Teyla says, watching Exenne stumble through a complex series of steps with her father. "At the festivals for the children, they often dance for the first time with their elders, and learn in that manner."

"I see." Elizabeth takes a sip of the drink that Teyla has not seen her replenish all evening.

"It is not the same on your world?" Teyla asks.

Elizabeth shakes her head, a small smile on her lips. "Definitely not. A lot of young girls learn to dance, but in formal classes. There's nothing like this."

"Did you attend such classes?"

Elizabeth's smile grows, becoming self-mocking. "Ballet, for years. Ballroom when I was a teenager."

"Are they very different?" Teyla asks. She has always been more of a singer than a dancer, but the dances still fascinate her. One of her fondest childhood memories is watching a troupe who came through the ring, performing dances more intricate than anything she had ever seen.

Elizabeth remains silent. When Teyla looks to her, she is watching the dance once more, a strange expression on her face. Teyla follows her gaze and realizes she is wrong. Elizabeth is looking a little to the right of the dance, where Freena and Gayria are leaning close together, trading kisses in the shadows, their long hair falling together across their shoulders, their skirts shifting with the breeze. It is not a secret embrace, and Teyla wonders for a moment if this is what has caught Elizabeth's attention.

Then she remembers: early in their time in the city, Teyla introduced Freena and her husband Rathel to Elizabeth, when their children were becoming bothersome in the gate-room. She takes a breath, intending to explain, but Elizabeth shakes herself before she can do so, and begins to speak again of dancing.

The time will come later, perhaps.

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In fact, it comes sooner than Teyla was expecting, barely a week from the moon festival. This time, she goes to Elizabeth's quarters, something she has not done before, always considering it an imposition, even within their friendship. She feels she cannot do otherwise, after the discovery of a second Elizabeth within the city, and that woman's death. She cannot imagine watching herself, aged beyond a usual human lifespan, breathing her last.

Elizabeth, when she opens the door, is dressed in the soft, baggy pants that many of the Atlanteans wear to exercise, and a pale blue t-shirt. Her hair is loose around her face, and her eyes are tired. "Teyla," she says, stepping back. "Come in."

Teyla does, surprised to find herself in a large and airy room, quite unlike those occupied by many of the people of the city. There is little within it that could speak of Elizabeth's personality, quite unlike her office. Perhaps she feels more at home there, or, like Teyla in her room in the city, finds that it becomes home with the addition of her things.

"Would you like some tea?" Elizabeth asks, fussing with a pot and two cups. "Please, have a seat."

"Thank you," Teyla says, accepting both offers. Elizabeth's couch is more comfortable than it appears, allowing her to sink back into it. When Elizabeth joins her, she curls her feet beneath her, looking small and young. It should be disturbing, in the leader of the city, but instead it makes her seem open and accepting.

Teyla carefully places her cup on the floor, and leans towards Elizabeth, cupping her cheek and angling her head for Teyla's kiss. She feels Elizabeth take a breath against her mouth, but the kiss is returned, careful and slow, Elizabeth's hand rising to catch Teyla's elbow.

She feels hazy, caught up in the faint taste of a previous cup of tea in Elizabeth's mouth, the softness of her cheek under Teyla's hand. The kiss seems to last a very long time, until Elizabeth leans back, breaking the contact.

Teyla watches her blink, emotions playing across her face, and is not surprised when Elizabeth says, "I'm sorry, Teyla, I shouldn't have done that."

"You did nothing but respond to my action," Teyla says. "I apologize if I acted out of place."

"No," Elizabeth says quickly. Teyla allows herself a small moment of pleasure at the confirmation of her reading of Elizabeth, of the two of them. "You didn't do anything wrong, but – Teyla, I have... There's someone, back on Earth. He and I live together – lived together." She sighs, her face falling into shadow. "Unless he took my words to heart and moved on."

"I am certain he will wait for you," Teyla says, despite knowing nothing of this man. She knows enough of Elizabeth to know that this is what she wishes to hear. "Still, this need not be an impediment to our actions. It is not uncommon amongst my people to take a second partner, beyond marriage or commitment." She does not add that, for many, the commitment to the second partner becomes as strong as that to the first. Elizabeth, she is sure, would find it easier to think of this as what the Earthers call a fling.

Elizabeth smiles, close-lipped and impersonal. Teyla feels her own heart begin to ache with the loss that is coming. "I'm sure you're right, Teyla, and I wouldn't judge anyone for doing so, but that's not how we conduct relationships where I come from. Well, not most people, anyway. I wouldn't feel right."

It is not, Teyla tells herself, a denial of attraction, of feelings between them, merely of the consummation of those feelings. Still, she cannot help but be reminded of the Athosian proverb, that it is better to live in unfulfilled hope than in fulfilled disappointment.

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Colonel Carter is unlike Elizabeth in almost every way, from her military training and knowledge of science to her manners of dress and speech. She speaks often of her team from Earth, and seems eager to return to them, although she tries hard to hide this. When people begin to suffer nightmares of John, Teyla worries that the colonel will struggle to lead, without the team she has become accustomed to, but her worries show themselves quickly to be groundless. She does not have long to hold to them, regardless; Kate's loss is a further moment of great sadness in a year that has already brought too many.

Listening to Colonel Carter address the people of Atlantis, she is reminded so strongly of Elizabeth that it feels like a second blow.

Later, when the entity has been removed, Teyla finds herself watching Colonel Carter as she leans close to John, sharing his comic book. She seems relaxed amongst them, unlike Dr Keller, who remains tense. Teyla wonders if the colonel takes comfort in the presence of the team, as Teyla does, in the reminder that there are others who will share the responsibility they all carry.

She is still pondering this when Colonel Carter looks up from the book. Their eyes meet, and, when she expects Colonel Carter to look away, hold. Colonel Carter goes very still, hardly seeming to breathe, and Teyla finds that she cannot look away. She does not want to.

It is John who first yawns, though he pretends that he does not. He does not seem surprised when his pretense is ignored, Rodney prodding him to his feet as Ronon stands and collects their dishes, returning them to the kitchen.

"It is very late," Teyla says, removing some of the attention from John for a moment. "We should all try to sleep."

"Teyla's right," Colonel Carter says. "I'm sure there'll be another crisis for us to deal with in the morning."

"Nothing like tempting fate there," Rodney grumbles.

"Actually, wouldn't it be tempting fate to say that everything's going to be fine?" Dr Keller asks. "That's more like – tempting fate to make it a good day."

"It's still tempting fate," Rodney tells her impatiently.

"Okay." John claps his hands together, breaking the discussion apart. "Teyla and Carter are right, we should get some sleep."

Teyla is not surprised to find herself walking towards the residential quarters beside Colonel Carter. She is not so certain that Colonel Carter will make the invitation herself, but she holds little doubt that one will be accepted, when Teyla makes it.

It will be strange to have something with a person so very new. Unlike her romance with Kanaan, which often feels more like the extension of a lengthy friendship than a romance; unlike her feelings for Elizabeth, built on a bond of friendship and leadership. She is too long separated from her people to be truly their leader now, retaining the title in name only, and Colonel Carter is too newly in that role; there is no space for a bond between leaders.

Teyla is not certain what has prompted this to flower between the two of them, sudden and unexpected. Perhaps the shared losses they carry – Colonel Carter of her team, left behind on Earth, Teyla of her friends within the city, Kate, Elizabeth, Carson, even Aiden, though his loss has long since become a dull ache. Perhaps it is simply a case of being on the right spot at the right moment, a reaction that could only happen then, like one of Rodney's experiments.

"These are my quarters," Colonel Carter says, coming to a hesitant stop. She looks carefully along the empty corridor. "I know it's late, but would you like to come in?"

Teyla smiles at their new leader; not a replacement, but a new direction, a new shape for Teyla to fit herself against. "I would like that very much," she says.


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