Pairing: Evan Lorne/Teyla Emmagan
Disclaimer: SGA doesn't belong to me.
Summary: The Lastoks seemed like a good enough deal to a city hard-up on food and stranded by its own people. Evan was not pleased to find out that appearances were deceiving.
"Do you know that you call for someone named Teyla in your sleep?" she asks, and he smiles sadly as he combs fingers through her hair.
"No, I didn't, but I'm not surprised."
She returns his smile. "I wish I could find your Teyla for you."
He sighs heavily and draws her up onto the couch beside him. "I'm afraid she's lost," he replies. "I hope she can find her way home eventually, but I don't think there's any way for me to help her."
The Lastoks seemed like a good enough deal to a city hard-up on food and stranded by its own people. They didn't trigger any vibes in Evan or his team, they didn't look too good to be true, and they didn't have any underground bunkers - at least, not any the jumper's scanners could pick up. He's intimately familiar with most of the Genii's current allies, few that they are, and he could tell immediately that none of the weaponry carried by the Lastoks was of similar design.
"We'll talk to our negotiators and meet you tomorrow," he said, nodding respectfully to the Lastok men. They returned his nod and turned back towards their village without a second glance as AR-2 got back into their jumper.
"Any of you ever read the SG-1 mission reports?" Evan asked, only half a clue what he was thinking.
Wallace nodded. "Some of 'em. Not all. Why?"
"Not sure." He closed the jumper hatch and fired it up. "You read about the Aschen?"
"I remember them," Samuels jumped in. "Creepy aliens who tried to kill reproduction on Earth in return for ... some sort of technology."
"Yeah, those're the ones."
"You think the Lastoks...?"
Evan shrugged and dialed the gate. "I'm not getting that sort of feeling, but neither did SG-1. Atlantis, this is AR-2, coming home."
"If this is another vibe check, I got nothing." Major Reed announced. "Anyone else?"
"Colonel Lorne, you're cleared to come through." Chuck's voice echoed through the jumper.
"I keep forgetting you guys are new. The Colonel here doesn't always trust his own gut; he likes to get input from the rest of the team. Guess we haven't had anything big since we got back from Earth." Reed grinned at the captains. "Welcome to the team."
"Well, no vibes here." Samuels stood and shouldered his pack. "They seemed a little ... what, striated?"
Wallace laughed. "Yeah. Look at Earth, though. Hell, look at us. Man in charge. Men running the military. Men the top scientists. We have no room to talk."
"But they seemed okay when we mentioned our society wasn't like that." Evan shrugged. "I wonder if we should put together an all-male negotiating team anyway."
"Do you remember anything from before your Conversion, before our binding?" he asks one night as they lay in bed.
"I am told I was in a terrible accident," she answers quietly.
He frowns. "Do you remember it? Or anything before it?"
She rolls over to face him. "I do not."
"But you believe the story."
"I have no reason not to."
"You have every reason not to! You can't remember it for yourself. They could tell you anything."
"I must trust in the medics."
He punches his pillow. "What's your name?"
"They call me Evan-la, because I am bound to you." Her hand snakes across the expanse between them to rest lightly on his arm.
"Before you were bound to me. You had a different name. It was yours, not just what they call you because of me."
"Does it matter?"
He's gratified by the uncertainty finally showing in her voice. "Yes."
"I don't know what my name was."
"Doesn't that bother you? Doesn't it make you doubt?"
She hesitates. "It bothers me. It hurts my head to think about the past, though. There is nothing to gain but pain, so I do not." She pauses, squeezes his arm gently. "I do not doubt, husband. To doubt would gain me nothing and lose me everything."
"It hurts to think about the past?"
"It hurts to think of before the accident."
He frowns to himself.
Lorne smiled at the Lastok negotiating team. "Jelhan, these are our negotiators. Teyla Emmagan, James Williams, and Thomas Ashton."
Jelhan nodded at the three of them. "Welcome, Atlanteans. I am Jelhan, and this is Torgen and Nalan. Colonel Lorne, will you be joining us?"
"If you'd like me to sit in, I can." He shrugged. "I was planning to sit outside."
"If you would prefer to speak with one of our defense leaders, it could be arranged. We are eager to understand your ways."
"As are we," Teyla interjected. "However, Colonel Lorne will not be allowed to share details of our strategies."
"Of course." Jelhan bowed slightly. "We will limit our conversations appropriately. If you would follow me?"
"We will stay in contact every hour, Evan," Teyla said.
She asks every night if she is allowed to share his bed. He only answered no once, just to see what she would do, but she had only smiled at him and laid down on the floor of their room. He tells her now that she doesn't have to ask, that she is always allowed, but her habits are unchangeable.
"Master Evan?" She sits beside him and hesitates with her hand inches from his arm.
"Have I displeased you?"
"No, T--" He chokes on her name despite himself. "No, little one, you haven't." He captures her hovering hand and lays it on his forearm, squeezes gently before releasing it.
She bows her head and rubs her thumb softly back and forth on his arm. "You seem so unhappy."
"It's not your doing." He tries again to speak her name, but the word catches in his throat as it always does, as it has since her Conversion, as it always will, now.
"Perhaps I could cheer you up regardless."
He wraps his hands around her arms and pushes her back as she tries to straddle his lap. "Why is this the only thing you don't ask permission for?" he asks rhetorically, but she answers anyway.
"This is my purpose." She sounds baffled, and Evan can't help but feel like a tool.
"I'm sorry," he tells her. "It wasn't suppo--" He is stopped again, and he curses silently. All of this technological gain, and it's used only to make slaves of the women and muzzle the men who disagree with the practice. And, apparently, to keep him from speaking of another time, lest she remember. He tried writing a message, the first time his speech was stopped, but they somehow removed her ability to read to all three of the languages he can write. "I'm sorry," he says helplessly, again and again, and she holds him as he cries for who she used to be.
"Colonel Lorne, come in, please."
Evan jumped and then smiled self-deprecatingly at his host as he reached for his radio. "Go ahead, Teyla."
"It has been one hour. Have you enjoyed your chat so far?"
He laughed. "Yes; you startled me when you radioed. How are the negotiations going?"
She hesitated. "I would like to speak with you in person if possible," she said slowly. "There is a matter of military importance I wish to discuss before concluding this negotiation."
"Sure. I'll head back your way. Lorne out." He bowed his head briefly to the Lower Defense Coordinator. "My negotiators need to consult with me on a quick matter. Can I...?"
The Coordinator stood. "I will show you back to their tent."
"I'm sure I can find my way."
"We prefer not to have armed outsiders wandering freely." The Coordinator smiled humorlessly. "I assume you have similar policies."
"Of course." Evan rose and followed his host out of their tent. "Can we speak privately?"
"Of course." The Coordinator held open a flap for him. "Jelhan and I shall wait just outside."
He smiled his thanks and turned to Teyla and the other negotiators. "What's up?"
She gestured him closer and spoke lowly to him. "They do not want me here."
"They said they were fine with a female negotiator." He dropped into an empty seat at the table and leaned in as the others exchanged a significant glance.
"Colonel, have you seen any women here?" Thomas asked.
He frowned. "No, I don't think I have, but I've been with the Defense Coordinator the whole time."
"One woman came in to serve us refreshments," Teyla said. "She offered tea, biscuits, and her body."
"I turned her down," Thomas added.
"We both did." The two male negotiators shared an uncomfortable glance.
Teyla laid a hand on Evan's arm. "That is not the issue; the Lastoks inferred that they both had mates on Atlantis."
"They also inferred that I am your mate. That I belong to you, and that I must take time out of negotiating to serve you as she tried to serve them."
He frowned. "Ah." Teyla raised an eyebrow at him, and he cleared his throat. "Well, we can explain to them that it's not our custom to ... serve each other ... when away from home. Seems like it might be for the best for them to think that we're together?"
She nodded slowly. "Yes, I believe it would be. However, you misunderstand - females serve the males. It is a one-way power exchange, from what we've been able to glean, and there is no rebellion."
"There's always a rebellion. They just don't want to talk about it, because they think it reflects badly on them."
"Evan, I had to explain what the word rebellion means."
"Okay, that's ... creepy." He glanced back towards the tent's opening and lowered his voice even more. "Are we talking about brainwashing here?"
"I think so," Thomas said. "Colonel, it's more than a little awkward."
He creased his brow and thought for a moment. "We need this grain. Once we have a deal, we can think about this more, but for the moment...."
The negotiators all nodded unhappily, and he started to rise.
He leaned down beside her. "You're the best negotiator still," he said, squeezing her shoulder. "But it's your call."
"I am unsure if it would be worse for them to continue to negotiate with a woman or to change negotiators in the middle of talks."
"Ride it out for a little longer, but don't hesitate to call me if something feels hinky."
"I am a painter," he says to their daily visitor. As always, it's a new person, one he's never seen before, and he doesn't know anybody's names. "I would like to paint, if you have supplies to spare."
The visitor looks him up and down slowly. "This would make you more comfortable in your new life?"
"I will pass on the request."
He waits beside the door until his companion has fixed their midday meal; he positions himself close to rather than facing the door for the first time since they moved into this room. She seems to pick up on his mood, quiet anticipation smoothly taking over any uncertainty at his uncharacteristic behavior.
Supplies are brought quickly, by the same visitor as in the morning, and he grins in relief as familiar-looking paints, brushes, and canvases take over a corner of their room. "Thank you," he says, quietly but heartfelt.
The visitor smiles hesitantly in return. "I must take Evan-la for an examination," he says slowly.
The grin drops abruptly off Evan's face. "No."
"There is no choice." The visitor studies Evan. "It is possible for you to observe the examination. It is within your rights for her never to leave your sight."
"Yes. Good. I want to be there."
The Lower Defense Coordinator frowned. "Colonel Lorne, if you do not wish to speak with me, we can make other arrangements."
"What?" He glanced around quickly. "Oh, no, it's not that, Coordinator. I'm sorry. I'm just ... worried about my negotiators."
The Coordinator nodded. "I understand that the woman negotiator belongs to you. I could call a recess for her to service you?"
"That's not really what we do. I mean, it's not in our customs, certainly not while we're away from home."
"Are you uncomfortable here?"
Evan sighed and resisted the urge to rub his temples. "It's just not done. Our ways are not the same as yours."
"We are beginning to see that."
It's the first time they've been out of their small house together, the first time he's been out at all since Teyla's Conversion, and people on the streets nod approvingly at them. She walks at his right elbow, head bowed, as they cross to one of the largest buildings.
"This is our medical center," their guide explains. "She will wait in one of the examination rooms, and you and I will watch from its adjoining observation room."
The doctor is in almost immediately, and Evan studies him as he directs Teyla to remove her clothing. The examination is short but thorough - far too thorough for his liking - and he remains in his seat only because of the restraining arm the other man places across his chest. "You are not permitted to interfere."
Evan settles back into his chair, grinding his teeth, with a short nod. In the examination room, the doctor is speaking as Teyla replaces her clothing.
"What's he saying?" Evan asks, and the guide shrugs.
"Asking about her service. Asking about you. Assessing her mental state."
"Can I hear?" He gets a sharp look. "I'm still new to your society, okay? If that's a faux pas, you'll have to tell me."
The guide nods slowly. "The doctor's report will contain the results of this conversation as well. If you have questions about the specifics, your woman will answer you honestly, will she not?" Evan laughs humorlessly and nods. "If there is something she did not understand or cannot explain to your liking, you may ask the doctor tomorrow."
"Thank you for explaining your customs," Evan says, almost managing sincerity.
He stopped dead at the tent flap. "Where are they?"
The Lastok negotiators looked up. "The men are taking refreshment in a different tent as we meet privately. Your woman expressed an interest in our religious beliefs. She is learning of them as we speak."
"I will--" Evan swallowed hard and composed himself. "I would like to speak with all of them, if possible."
"Of course." Jelhan rose from his seat and motioned back out of the tent. "I will show you the way."
Williams and Ashton smiled normally and extolled the virtues of one of the pastries in the tent, and Evan smiled back at them as he took one with him on the way to see Teyla. They were unharmed and seemed confident in the negotiations, but he still cautioned them privately that if he disappeared for whatever reason, Sheppard was to be informed that all was not as it seemed.
"I hope your fears have been alleviated," Jelhan said quietly, and Evan nodded.
"I would still like to see Teyla."
"She is in a private conference with some of our religious leaders," Jelhan responded uncertainly.
"She would not object to my presence." He hesitated before adding, "I am also interested in learning about your religion."
Jelhan bowed shortly. "I did not mean to imply that your woman would reject you from the meeting. Of course you wish to attend."
"How was the doctor visit?" he asks her as they sit down for dinner.
"I understand I was given a good report," she answers, reaching over to cut his meat. "Were you not watching from the next room?"
He stills her hands and takes up the knife himself. "I was watching, but I didn't hear anything he said." She doesn't answer, and he sighs softly. "What did he ask you, at the end?"
"He asked of my service to you."
Evan frowns at her reticence. "And?"
"And then he signed my papers."
"T--" He growled furiously at the unstoppable stutter. "How did you answer his questions?"
She frowns at him. "I explained that you still hold to the customs of your - of our - past and that we are readjusting to our life together, though it is more difficult for you, remembering our old home. He was concerned that you do not allow me to serve you fully, especially that we have not yet consummated my re-binding to you."
"And you? Are you concerned about the lack of ... consummation?"
She bowed her head. "It is not my place to express concern."
"It's your place to do what I tell you," he snaps, "and I'm telling you to express any concerns you might have."
She flinches at his tone. "Yes, Evan. I am not concerned that we have not consummated my binding. I am concerned that you do not appear to want the binding anymore, that you do not avail yourself of everything you want, even though it belongs to you. I am concerned because you are unhappy, and you do not allow me to do anything to alleviate it."
He sighs again. "I'm sorry for yelling at you."
"It is your right."
"When they come of age--" The religious leader broke off as the tent flap opened.
"Please excuse me," Jelhan said, bowing low. "This is Colonel Evan Lorne. He wishes to join your discussion."
Teyla smiled at him and slid over on her bench. "I was just learning about the education of women on their planet."
"Fascinating." He joined her on the bench. "Mind if I sit in?"
"Not at all."
"As I was saying?" The religious leader nodded to Jelhan as he left the tent. "When our girls come of age and are considered women, they are taken to a special school. We all take lessons from a young age, but theoretical knowledge becomes practical application upon assumption of an adult role in society. This school helps the women adjust to that change. At the end of their education, they are ... equipped with the tools they will need to live a successful life."
Teyla nodded. "If I may ask, what do you see these tools as being?"
He furrowed his brow. "As I have not gone through the women's education myself, I cannot say for certain what they experience - but I know that our goals include household skills such as cooking and laundry, meal planning and shopping, and obedience. The Conversion helps with the last, but the others must be learned the hard way."
"And what is this Conversion?" Teyla stiffened beside him.
"It is a medical procedure with a lasting medication component. I believe your people are familiar with the idea of a birth control drug? We also use some medications less well known, medications that assist women in settling into married life, that allow their husbands to fill their role properly without undue resistance. In some cases, the woman is also taught a particular skill at this time for her husband to use - I assume this is similar to your negotiating skills."
Teyla frowned. "Not entirely. My skills are my own, not honed for a husband's use, and I do not have regular medical assistance for anything except the prevention of additional children."
"I did not know you had a child," the religious leader said to Evan.
"He does not."
The man frowned. "It seems your woman would benefit greatly from our Conversion."
"Thank you," Teyla and Evan said simultaneously, standing. "I believe our conversation is over," he finished.
"Our customs are ... very different from yours," Teyla tried to explain. "We appreciate learning your ways, as I'm sure you will appreciate learning ours, but our cultures seem too diverse for much exchange."
He keeps careful track of everything he's saying as he begins to paint. His first piece is no more than the decorations of one corner of their house, and Teyla trades it at the market for some more expensive cheeses and sausages than they normally eat. His second is a bowl of Earth fruit, and Teyla trades it at the market for three times what she got on the first. His third is her, and she does not trade it.
The breakthrough comes when her portrait is halfway finished and she collects their ration of fruit for the week. She comes to him as he mixes the paints for her hair with a plate of snacks he can easily eat while working.
"They had oranges," she says, setting the plate beside him, and he very carefully doesn't react.
"Here, try a piece." She sets a slice of the fruit into his mouth, and he smiles as he crunches on it.
"Delicious. What was it, again?"
She laughs. "A bolan, Evan. A lovely ripe bolan. Isn't it good?"
He stores the sound of 'orange' rolling off her lips in the tightest corner of his mind and starts eagerly on his next painting the next day.
"She's beautiful," Teyla says from behind him as he sets down the paints to wash for dinner.
He nods. "When the sun sets just right, can't you see the way it makes the whole central tower glow?"
"You have such a wonderfully artistic imagination."
Only those who have lived there call Atlantis 'she', and Evan stores that in his mind as well, counting down an arbitrary number of days until he'll get her to remember Atlantis's name, her own name.
He spun as soon as he registered the panic in her voice, hand shooting towards his holster. "Teyla!" he yelled, and her eyes met his briefly. She was surrounded by armed men, fighting off three at once as others waited behind her. He sprinted back towards her, cursing himself for having let her fall so far behind.
"Colonel Lorne!" The religious leader from the tent was suddenly in front of him. "Do not be concerned. She will undergo the Conversion and then be returned to you."
"I don't think so!" He shoved the man aside and grabbed the nearest attacker.
"Evan!" Teyla was being restrained by two of the attackers, and he leapt for one of them.
With the shock of a grown man slamming bodily into one of her captors, Teyla was able to jerk free once again and pick up the fight. Evan regained his footing, punched the man under him in the face, and spun back towards the fray. A man was suddenly looming in front of him.
"Do not be concerned," he said again, and a needle slid easily into Evan's neck. He lunged forward, but as the man sidestepped, he landed straight on his face and didn't get back up.
"May I share your bed?"
He pats the other side encouragingly. "You can always share my bed."
"May I service you?" She fidgets as he stills. "May I bring you pleasure, my husband?"
"No." Evan frowns as he climbs into bed. "You know I won't do that to you."
"I would like for you to."
"The answer is no, T-- Just no." He hates that he can't say her name, but using no name is better than using the one they've given her.
She sighs quietly as she sits on the opposite side of the bed. "I am afraid they will take me away from you if we do not."
"Has someone said something to you?" She nods slowly as she slides her feet under the turned-down covers, and he squeezes his eyes shut briefly. "Okay. Okay. We'll ... we'll talk about it, okay? We'll work this out. But not tonight. We can talk about something else tonight, if you'd like."
"Will you tell me of your home world?" she asks as she pulls the blankets over them.
He smiles to himself in the dark. "Of course. What have I already told you? I don't want to repeat myself."
"I wouldn't mind," she says earnestly, "but I know of your family in the painting, and I have heard much about your movie theaters and dogs and Ferris wheels."
He does an energetic fist-pump in his head at the last. "Dogs, huh? Have I ever told you about cats?"
She slides into his arms as he describes the geriatric feline he'd grown up with, and he crosses his fingers behind her back that this time she'll remember more than just the incidental things, this time she'll remember John Sheppard along with the Ferris wheels, this time she'll remember who Teyla Emmagan is.
He yanked desperately on the chains holding him spread against the wall. "What will you tell my people?" he yelled as the door opened.
The religious leader paused on the threshold. "Oh, no, Colonel Lorne. It's what will you tell your people. Unless you're eager to see your woman bound to a true Lastok man, someone strong enough to reign her into line."
"You are not marrying Teyla off to any of your people," he growled.
"Then you must be convincing when you tell them you are joining a voyage to our most sacred religious site. You must be reassuring when you explain that there will be no way for them to contact you on this journey. You must be very careful if you expect your woman bound properly to you." The man smiled sadly at Evan. "I don't know why you resist. You will soon see that we have done you a great kindness in anticipation of our peoples' trade agreement. I can only hope that you come around before the agreement is canceled."
He spat on the ground. "You took us by force. You drugged me. You have me chained to a wall. You're brainwashing Teyla! Whatever you sign now, the agreement will be rescinded as soon as I get home."
"Then you will remain with us."
They come while she is at the market, and the sneering man with the religious leader looks as though he'd like to step on the painting Evan's working on. He tries not to feel too offended - the man has never seen a real puddlejumper, for one, and he doesn't look like the type to recognize art if it's sitting on his dick. "What can I do for my preacher-friend?" he asks sarcastically.
"Ah, Evan. I am only doing you a favor." A hand lands on the stranger's shoulder. "This is Lantouf, the man who will take Evan-la and make her Lantouf-la, as you have refused to make her Evan-la properly. I thought it best you meet him."
"Lantouf, huh?" Evan turns dismissively back to his painting. "I hope no rash decisions are being made before Evan-la's next medical check."
"Of course not, but I have a message for you from the medical center - the woman is to present herself first thing in the morning. Something has come up, and they've had to move her check earlier."
Evan swallows hard and fights not to react outwardly. "She'll be there."
He forces himself to focus on the puddlejumper as they leave, harsh strokes across the planet's surface changing the tone of the whole piece. He's still painting out his tension when she comes back.
"That's fantastic," she says breathlessly, and he slides an arm around her shoulders.
"Tell me what it makes you think of."
She wraps an arm around his waist and leans against him to study the picture. "You're flying it, aren't you?" The smudges inside the jumper weren't consciously intended to be anyone in particular, but Evan agrees anyway. "It looks like we're going down to that planet to save someone. Maybe to save everyone." She grins up at him. "I hope the Daedalus is in orbit, or you'll have to make a thousand trips to get everyone to safety."
He laughs and pointedly doesn't mention that the Daedalus hasn't left the Milky Way since Atlantis did. Remembering out of order is far better than not at all. "You're right. Maybe I should put it in the background."
She inspects the painting again, then shakes her head. "I think it's better with just the puddlejumper. It leaves more to the imagination. I like that about your paintings."
"Hey, do I still call out a name in my sleep?" he asks impulsively, and she nods. "Say it for me."
"Teyla," she replies, looking puzzled.
"Teyla. Teyla Emmagan."
He points at the painting, at one of the smudges in the jumper. "That's her."
"I thought that was me."
She studies his face, then the painting again. "I am Teyla?"
"Evan ... Lorne."
He closes his eyes and breaths slowly, trying to keep control of himself in the face of his overwhelming relief. "Yeah," he answers, but his voice still cracks.
"I remember a fight," she tells him quietly. "I remembered it a long time ago, but I can't make sense of it. You were there." She turns into him, wraps both arms around him. "Tell me."
"We've been in more than one fight together," he answers honestly. "Was it here or somewhere else?"
"I don't know."
He strokes her hair gently and thinks. "The one here was you and me, against some Lastok guards, with the religious leader."
Evan laughs to himself. "Is that his name?"
She nods against his chest.
"Others ... well, we've fought back-to-back on quite a few Wraith ships."
"It was here." She pulls away from him, leads him over to the bed. "I can't remember anything else, but I think you were right. There never was an accident."
"Have you told anyone else what you remember?" His voice is suddenly urgent, and she sits up straighter in response.
"Only you," she promises solemnly.
"Husband," she greeted him quietly, and he stared at the woman kneeling in front of him.
"T---" He coughed as his tongue froze, and there was a moment of panic where he wasn't sure he'd be able to breathe again. This was not what he'd expected when they'd said consequences for speaking her name.
"Are you well?" she asked, bowing her head as he growled down at her.
He sighed. "I'm fine. I didn't mean to alarm you." He meant the growling, directed more at the situation, but she seemed to take it to mean the coughing.
"My memory has not returned," she informed him apologetically. "It has been decided that it would benefit me greatly if we renewed my Binding to you. Is this your will, husband?"
Evan looked around the room, taking in the eager-looking men standing just behind the collection of religious officials. "Yeah. Yeah, it is."
She smiled up at him. "Thank you, husband."
They moved into position in front of the man who would officiate the ceremony, and she knelt at his feet again as the man started the rituals.
"Honor in servitude to a man is the highest achievement a woman...."
Evan closed his eyes, fought back helpless tears, and vowed to find a way to help Teyla out of this whole mess.
He drops to his knees in front of her, presses his chest against the bed between her legs. "I will get you out of here," he says in a low, urgent voice, and she rests a hand on his head.
"Colonel," she whispers into his hair. "Get us both out of here. And that's an order."
A short laugh escapes him. "I'm pretty sure I outrank you."
"I don't remember that," she tells him, ruining the innocent look with a wink.
He grins at her, then lets his face fall serious again. "I don't have a plan yet. I'm working on it, but I think I need your help. As long as they believe you still don't remember, you have more freedom than I do in the city."
"I will keep my memory a secret," she promises.
"Unfortunately, that's not the most pressing just now." She waits, then rubs the top of his gently when he doesn't continue on his own. "They want to ... give you to another man. If we don't consummate the binding by your next medical check."
She tips his head up with a finger under his chin, kisses him lightly on the lips. "Three days."
He shakes his head. "First thing tomorrow morning, Brother Rohan just told me. I don't know if I can get you out in time."
"Then we must consummate the binding." She kisses him again. "I do not remember a relationship between us ... before ... but there was something."
Evan nods. "We never slept together, but we flirted. I think we would have, eventually."
"Since I remember, will you consummate our binding without concern?"
He hesitates. "It's better, sure, but I'm also concerned that there's a, I don't know, some sort of extra component to the binding. That after we ... that you'll be back to where you started, or something."
"If that happens, you will have to remind me again." She smiles down at him and kisses his forehead. "The paintings were a wonderful idea. You could do it again, and then we will escape. It would be difficult for you, but so much better than becoming Rohan-la or anything like that."
"Rise, Evan-la, woman of Evan, and allow your man to place his mark on you."
She came to her feet gracefully, though he expected no less, and stood expectantly in front of her new husband. He swallowed hard, looked desperately for an exit, and got an impatient look from the man in front of him.
"Evan-la," he muttered, wrapping his hand in her hair. He pulled gently, and she tilted her head back willingly, easily. With one last resentful look at the religious leader who had started this whole mess, he fastened his mouth on the exposed column of her throat and bit down hard. He pulled away the second he tasted blood and pulled her hair until she turned to face the officiant. "Woman of Evan."
A man stepped forward out of the crowd with the official paperwork and pressed a corner of the scroll against her throat. He examined the blood it picked up before marking it with his seal and handing it to Evan. "Congratulations on securing your woman," he said in a bored voice. "Place your own mark here, and then you will be free to retire with her."
The man is waiting in their house when they return from the medical center. He stands from their table and beckons to Teyla. "Woman. Come here."
"She does not belong to you," Evan corrects harshly. "Evan-la, stay where you are."
"She will soon enough. Might as well go ahead and get used to answering to me. Come, Lantouf-la."
"She is bound to me."
"You weren't man enough to complete the binding. She belongs to someone who will take everything she offers."
Evan growls low in his throat and steps in front of her. "She already belongs to someone who takes everything on offer. Leave my house, unless you want to offer to me what she does."
Lantouf jerks back, a disgusted look on his face. "Men don't get bound to anyone," he says, looking like he's going to be sick.
"Leave now, before I change that custom."
A voice from behind them breaks into the conversation. "Now, Evan, I'm sure you don't really mean that. Lantouf would make a terrible woman for you."
"For anyone, I'm sure."
Brother Rohan coughs to cover an obvious laugh. "He is correct, Lantouf; Evan-la will remain with him. I'm sure that if you leave now, I can convince him not to press charges for attempted seduction of his property."
Lantouf mutters something under his breath and shoots all three of them death glares, but he leaves, and Evan relaxes slightly. "My gratitude," he tells Rohan, though with a wary eye.
"Of course." The man frowns around the small house. "It is time you found employment, Evan. This house is unsuitable for a properly bound couple for very long. I'm sure Evan-la will inquire for you the next time she goes to market, and she can help you learn your way around town, as well."
Evan acknowledges the man's words with a nod and shuts the door behind him.
"So," he says quietly to Teyla, and she smiles at him.
"Colonel," she whispers quietly in his ear, and he grins down at her.
"What say we, ah, search for employment for me tomorrow?" he proposes, and she returns the grin.
"I believe we will have much searching of the city ahead of us."