Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, I am not making money off them, etc.
Author's Notes: I certainly hope you enjoy it! Thanks to my lovely beta!
Summary: How it changed, in four parts.
The day it changed, Richard wasn't even there.
He wasn't nearby, anyway. AR-1 came back long after he'd retired for the evening, the time difference from MZ9-298 landing its afternoon squarely in the middle of the Lantean night. He didn't even hear anything about it until just before the next morning's meeting, when Teyla knocked at his door.
"I have brought you a gift from the people of Lintra," she told him. She carried a small bundle that squirmed in her arms, and Richard hoped very much that it wasn't a baby; he hadn't personally had to deal with that situation yet, but he'd read mission reports. "I told them that we do not typically accept living things, but they were quite insistent that we take it."
Teyla gave it to him carefully, setting it gently in his arms; he pulled back the blanket to find a tiny puppy looking back at him, its big brown eyes bright and clear.
"Aldon are considered a delicacy," Teyla said. "I understand that this is as upsetting among your people as among mine." It yawned, stretching in Richard's arms, and he immediately fell in love with it. "Doctor Keller has examined it and found nothing wrong. If there is a problem with keeping it here-"
"There's no problem at all," Richard said, even though he knew he shouldn't; the safe thing to do was to send it away, let it make a nice pet for some Athosian child, but one look at its little face and he was sunk.
"You have spoken of your dog," Teyla said. "Aldon are similar. I thought you might enjoy taking care of it."
He startled a bit; he often got the strong sense that no one was listening to him, especially not when he spoke about home. It was a feeling he'd gotten used to a long, long time ago, and it was disconcerting to be proven wrong in that assumption. "That's very thoughtful of you," he said, petting the dog softly, gazing at it to avoid looking at Teyla.
Of all of his most trusted staff, Teyla had always been the hardest to peg. She was somehow open and mysterious at the same time; she was perfectly honest and cooperative, but he felt like he knew nothing about her at all.
"Would you like to come over this evening?" he said, impulsively, wondering immediately what had given him that idea.
Before he could stammer a clarification or a mitigation, Teyla smiled. "I would like that," she said, and Richard was a little amazed at his luck.
It had gotten to be a regular occurrence, one of them sitting in the other's room, the two of them talking on countless subjects; still and yet, Richard hesitated before knocking on her door. Teyla let him in, smiling and offering him a seat. It took a moment for him to feel comfortable, but it was hard not to relax in Teyla's room, filled as it was with soft pillows and the smell of incense.
"Is he asleep?" he said quietly, nodding at the cradle.
"I have just put him down for a nap," Teyla replied; she rocked it with her foot as she spoke, looking down at her sleeping son. "Thankfully, he seems cooperative today."
Richard smiled. "When is Kanaan coming back?" he said, hoping there was nothing rueful about his tone, but it seemed unimportant when he caught the look on her face. "I said the wrong thing."
"I do not know when his father will be returning," she said, trying to put on a brave face. "Kanaan is." Teyla paused, obviously choosing her words carefully. "He has some reservations."
Richard frowned. "About Torren?"
"About our relationship," she said. "Torren is a child, Halling is reaching his retirement, and I," her lips quirked up, "do not lead a particularly safe life, even by our standards, nor am I always available, in light of my duties here. As my partner, Kanaan would be the next in line if the three of us were incapacitated. It is quite a responsibility."
"We have opposite problems, it seems," Richard said. "If I had a partner, people would always wonder if that made her the one in command."
Teyla smiled enigmatically. "I believe that love used to be simpler than this."
"I"m fairly sure it never was," Richard replied, smiling back at her.
"If you would like to stay, I will make tea," Teyla said, standing suddenly and looking away from him; without prompting, Richard reached over with his foot, taking over and treadling the cradle gently.
Having dealt with the kettle, she turned back around, opening her mouth as if to say something, but she stopped. She just stood there for a moment, taking it in; he didn't know what she saw, exactly, and he wondered what he'd done wrong or right to make her look at him like that.
She walked over, quickly, like she couldn't stop herself. She put her hand on the side of his face, tilting it towards her; her hands were soft and warm. He leaned up and she leaned down, and suddenly there it was between them, what they hadn't said.
An eternity or seconds later, the kettle whistled; Torren made an unhappy noise, squirming in his cradle. Teyla pulled away, giving him a somewhat sad smile; as she turned, he caught her by the wrist, drawing her in for one more kiss.
Teyla was late enough that Richard wasn't entirely sure she was coming at all; luckily, she showed up just in time, bowing her head graciously to Richard as he let her in.
"Where's Torren?" he asked.
"I believe John and Rodney intend to spoil him as thoroughly as possible tonight," she told him.
"Ahh," he said. "That would be why they came to pick up Marcus." The aldon was quickly becoming Torren's favorite playmate, what with the way it so patiently let Torren chew on its ears and clumsily pat its head.
Teyla sat down on the couch; Richard sat down at the other end. He hoped very much that she was having the same dilemma he had, how not to seem eager or desperate despite the very obvious fact that the baby and the dog, though undoubtedly beloved by both of them, had been very prominent barriers to what had been coming for a long time.
Richard shocked himself by being the one who slid over, closing the gap between them. He had the fleeting thought that this would be the most obvious time to screw it up, to find out that Athosian practices were wildly different than Earth ones on the subject of, well, what was about to happen; it went out of his head as Teyla pressed her lips to his, wrapping her arms around him to draw him in.
It had been a long time, so very long; even if hadn't, it wouldn't matter, because it had never been like this. Nothing could have been like Teyla, the feel of her skin against his, the look on her face when she came, the way she wrapped herself around him afterwards, like there was nowhere else in the world she would rather be.
It had been forever since anyone had made him feel like that; he wondered if anyone ever really had.
It took some doing to even carry Teyla her tea; Torren and Marcus were running in circles around the living room, somehow exponentially more energetic together than separately. He let them go, for the moment, hoping they'd run off at least some of their energy before bedtime.
Teyla accepted it gratefully, leaning back against her pillows. She shifted uncomfortably before settling back, which had less to do with the pillows than it did with her rapidly growing stomach. Richard felt as unsure as he usually did; every time she so much as winced, he wanted to rush to help. It was a good thing Teyla had more experience with this than he did, which made it feel much less like he was flying completely blind.
Teyla looked at him over the edge of her mug, giving him that smile that said she'd caught him worrying again. She reached over, putting her free hand over his, her thumb tracing over his knuckles.
He looked around the room, taking in what his life had become. He'd seen a lot of things, two whole galaxies' worth, but nothing even came close to this, to Torren and Marcus and Atlantis and Teyla's beautiful smile.