blue flamingos

Four things that made Teyla decide to leave Atlantis

(and the one thing that made her stay)

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Gen, G

Year/Length: 2009/ ~1161 words

Spoilers: (spoilers up to SGA early season 5)

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

Author's Notes: Originally posted at [info]sg1_five_things

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

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Her decision to leave is cumulative, made over a year, small steps that she does not realise she is making until she reaches the end of the path. It begins with the explosion, with the deaths of Dr Hewston and of Carson. With the week after, when she is alone in Atlantis, her team gone to Earth with Carson's body, and she craves the comfort of the three of them, the ease with which Ronon offers touch, Rodney's constant words, John's brittle distance, the way it allows her to touch him when otherwise she cannot. She has nightmares, of a disaster on Earth, of a trap to keep them there, of one of them not returning. The nightmares are nothing but dreams, gone before they can truly scare her. What scares her is the loss she feels in the dreams, stronger than any before, for the loss of her parents, of Charin. Of that, she is terrified.

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The loss of Elizabeth feels too soon after losing Carson. They do not commemorate her loss in the city as they did his, John rigid in his refusal to accept that she is gone, fallen to one of their greatest enemies. It is a heroic fall, by one of her closest friends, of which Teyla should be proud. She tries to be, very hard, but every thought of Elizabeth brings tears to her eyes, her heart aching for their loss.

"Do you not feel it also?" she asks John, trying to make him see.

He barely lifts his head from his computer, only enough for her to see his tired eyes. Teyla thinks she would have been better not to ask, that he will not wish to speak of it, but John is like her, saw Elizabeth as someone like him, as Teyla did, the two of them the only two who did, recognizing their leadership in Elizabeth's. She wishes, desperately, to share that loss with someone.

"She's not dead," John says.

When Colonel Carter arrives, it is as though Elizabeth was never there. Teyla cannot help wondering if she – if any of them – would be so easily forgotten, so easily replaced. She wonders, troubled, at a people who can forget their own stories so easily, what it means for them to be so untouched by their own past, in a galaxy that can never escape its own.

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They do not think John dead for so very long, when he is shot at and disappears on the way to the research station, and indeed, it is not the thought of his death that troubles Teyla. She has learned that John is not so easily killed as they might think.

What troubles her is the way that Rodney says, "I'm sorry, but sometimes there is just nothing we can do," as though they have searched for months, not hours. As though it is not *John* who is taken from them. It is not even that she finds Rodney's words uncaring. It is, instead, that he will give up so easily, abandon hope so swiftly for his often-stated best friend.

Even when Rodney tracks John's call for help back to Larrin and the travellers, evidence that he has not abandoned the search as he said, Teyla cannot shake the sense of unease. She has never before doubted that her team would come for her, through any adversity, no matter what it took. It is a great discomfort to learn that perhaps she was wrong in that faith.

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Teyla fights every day, for the first weeks after her people disappear, against the urge to leave Atlantis, to go and find them. It is John who keeps her there, the confidence in his voice when he says, every day, "We'll find them," just as Teyla is at the point where she feels most strongly that she must leave. She does not know how it is that he always times it so perfectly, when he has frequently claimed to be so bad with people, but he does. She thinks that this may be the one thing that keeps her in the city. Or, perhaps, one of two things, her child inside her demanding protection.

And it is these two things which drive her, finally, to the decision to leave: John's betrayed face, his anger when she tells him that she is pregnant. Ronon tells her that he is only scared, that it is fear which makes him so distant, and Teyla does not have words to make him see that it is not even this which drives her decision. She longs for Elizabeth, for Kate, for someone who would understand how it feels to be told by the man she respects and cares for more than anyone else, even the father of her child, that the fact of her pregnancy – of her motherhood, eventually – will always mark her as different from the other three. Outside of them, unable to decide her role for herself.

She will not leave until her people have been found, but then, when they find a new home, she will go with them.

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It is John who tells her of his trip into the future, of the terrible world Rodney's hologram detailed for him. They are alone in the infirmary, John still unable to walk after his surgery, the lights dimmed for the evening, Torren sleeping in Teyla's arms as she listens to halting words of her friends' heroic, tragic deaths, carried forward for 48,000 years and placed in the memory of something that will go on forever, though the people in that world do not. Of Rodney, alone and lonely, working for years to find a way to bring John back to them, to save Jennifer from dying of illness, John from dying alone and abandoned, Teyla from Michael's hand, Ronon and Sam from giving their lives against the Wraith. Of her team, who came for her, when she was fated to die without them. Secrets he swears her to keeping, things he has told no-one else, and will not.

"It was for you," John says at the end, looking away as Teyla has become accustomed to him doing. "Rodney – the hologram – said it was because he lost Dr Keller, but it was you first. We can't do without you, Teyla."

He is nothing like the man who cast her out of the team without a thought, as though her pregnancy made her worthless as a fighter. He is only, once more, her best friend, shaping a place for her in a city they both call home. She knows he will never say, but she knows, anyway, that when she wishes to return to the team, she will do so, on the same terms as always.

There is so much still to decide, with Kanaan, with Torren, but she knows, in that moment, that she will remain on Atlantis, and make her choices there.


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