Pairing: John/Teyla, with teamy goodness :)
Word Count: ~1,380
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Stargate Atlantis and respective characters belong to the original creator(s). No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: I couldn't find two sentences to rub together for the longest time (everything I wrote just started crumbling), so when this plot bunny survived, I wanted to take it out to dinner. Next time I'll beg an epic plot bunny to cooperate, but I hope you enjoy this anyway. I tried. Merry Christmas, dear!
... Also, Claire and Alyse are ridiculously awesome moderators. Thank you for being so patient. I cannot begin to express my gratitude.
Summary: Four conversations Teyla or John don't remember, and one that they do.
Lost Conversations and Hazy Memories
John Sheppard's sword is poised, ready to slay the final dragon when lo and behold—
A voice calls out from the shadows. "Major, you cannot use that weapon on that animal... sir."
John recognizes the shrill timbre, and bites his tongue impatiently. "Okay. Got any better ideas, McKay?" The heat of fiery breath still hovers over them, and he takes a few steps backward.
Rodney shrugs his shoulders. "I do not know."
John glares at him, and contemplates thrusting his sword into the dragon now. Seriously, what is he waiting for? The fate of the kingdom rests on—
"Major," a soothing voice sings. "Lay down your sword. I shall attend to this matter."
The melody wafts gentle and sweet, and after a moment, the dappled dragon drops on its hind legs and hunches over in sleep.
"What the hell just happened?"
A figure emerges, petite and beautiful. Clothed in lavender, an aura inimitable, with an uncanny resemblance to...
"My brain is seriously messed up," John groans. He sees a flash of white light, and then...
"Yes," John answers, his voice gravel from sleep.
"The movie is over," Teyla says, her bright face greeting him. "Did you enjoy it?"
John nods weakly. "You could say that."
Teyla sighs. What is it with Earthers and their inability to hold their liquor?
Rodney, like a hyper little boy, is playing tag with Ronon around the campfire, and the sober man is decidedly less amused.
Drunken John is adorable at first, then incoherent, and Teyla just nods and smiles politely as he rambles.
"You know, you're a lot prettier than Nancy," John says suddenly.
Teyla stiffens. The name... yes, Ronon has mentioned her before.
"And a lot less... what's the word?" John continues. "Antsy? Ha, antsy Nancy. Her brother always called her that." He stares ruefully at his empty glass. "I didn't make fun of her. I loved her. The good that did me."
Teyla stifles a trickle of emotion. She knows John does not desire her pity, and were he sober, he would not dare to be so vulnerable.
"You don't get scared when I start cleaning my guns," John says. "Do you?"
"No, John, I do not," Teyla answers, in earnest.
John's face breaks into a rare grin. "That's why I like you," he says. "I really, really like you."
Teyla sends him a faraway glance. You will not remember this conversation tomorrow, she thinks.
No, not "thinks." She knows.
Strike one: John finds himself in the middle of a pier he doesn't remember walking to.
Damn it. John hardly trusts reality anymore. Ancient technology doesn't help.
A pause, a sigh, and he activates his comm, "Rodney, Ronon, or Teyla, come in. This is Colonel Sheppard; please come in. "
Silence. John curses under his breath, Strike two, and starts heading inside. "Take the nearest transporter; go to the control room. Everything'll be fine," he says aloud. "No biggie."
He stumbles through the door, and bumps into Teyla on the way in. "Colonel Sheppard," she says, serenely.
"Teyla," John breathes relief, for a second, then he asks gently, "Hey, why didn't you respond over radio? Gotta keep in touch."
She blinks at him. "I apologize, Colonel. I was... preoccupied."
John eyes her suspiciously. "With what?"
"Why, your birthday present, Colonel."
Holy crap. John knows exactly what this is. Oh, sweet mother of—
"Heightmeyer, if you can hear me, get me out of here."
Teyla glances behind her and sideways. "John, are you feeling all right? Kate is not with us right now."
John's language is colorful, to say the least. "Listen, Heightmeyer. I appreciate the birthday therapy. A virtual reality machine disguised as gaming goggles? Nice touch."
He looks at Teyla. "You really didn't have to. I'm fine, doc," he insists. "No psychological issues here. Now, could you please unplug this thing?"
Teyla looks thoughtful. "If what you say is true—that this reality is not real—I believe it is time for one of your reckless escape plans, John."
Her words him like the apple that struck Newton. He gulps. Crap. Heightmeyer's going to have a field day.
And John does the only damn thing that makes sense.
He kisses Teyla, slow and soft; feels the flutter of her heartbeat against him. The current reverses direction, and she kisses him back, and then—
The colors around him begin to streak, like paint on a canvas, and he almost feels sad when the rubber band snaps, and he's back in Atlantis—the real Atlantis.
"How was it, John?" Teyla asks, the real one.
"Memorable," he says, not quite able to meet her eyes.
Teyla knows John is almost out when she drags him out of Starik's lab.
"Colonel, do you hear me?" Her voice sounds unusually loud in her ear, but the building is burning, and adrenaline is rushing through her veins. "John?"
"Yeah," he says weakly.
"Stay with me, John. Stay awake." Teyla's tone is calm and urgent. "We shall be at the gate soon." She feels his warmth against her as they stumble out the exit.
Ronon is waiting, and before Teyla even registers the motion, he takes John and carries him.
"Hey, buddy," Ronon says. "We still on for Terminator 2 tomorrow?"
"Mmm," John says. "Don't think you'll get out of that."
Teyla allows a faint smile, but she worries that John's head is more battered than he admits.
She and Ronon continue the half-mile sprint to the gate. Teyla scans their surroundings for life, but the trees are empty of threats. She later remembers this moment as two images and a sound: P-90 in her hands, Rodney's voice in her head, and Ronon and John beside her.
"How's Sheppard?" Rodney asks, through the comm.
"He is holding on," Teyla says, her tone thick.
Rodney begins to speak, then stops, as if to swallow his complaints. "Good," he intones. "All right, uh... be safe."
Teyla thanks him, and returns her attention to the dash. She is aware of Ronon recounting off-color tales, adventures and myths; no doubt hoping the shock factor would tether John's consciousness.
"And guess what? He had no pants!"
His laughter roars through the air, and John's cookie monster chuckle follows haltingly.
"Thanks, buddy." John says, "Don' think I'll make it this time."
Teyla frowns. "You will make it, John."
"Tell Teyla that I..." John continues, as if he'd forgotten her presence. "I... you know."
"You love her," Ronon finishes. Matter of fact.
"Yeah, that. I never could get those words out, in that order."
When the team of four tumbles through the gate at last, the medical team is standing by. As soon as Jennifer allows it, the members of AR-1 flock to John's bedside, waiting in the infirmary morning and night.
"What do you remember of Starik's planet?" Teyla asks, days later.
"Nothing," John says, simply.
"I know exactly what's going on here," Rodney says. "You two don't fool me one bit!"
"Yes, Rodney?" Teyla answers, mildly.
"Showing up late to meetings. Too busy for weekend plans—."
He points an accusing finger at John and Teyla.
"Are you two watching Star Wars without me?"
The edges of Teyla's mouth curl upwards. Ronon intercepts a sideways glance.
"I mean, I appreciate you guys wanting to protect my time. It's very thoughtful, really, but when Rodney McKay is not saving the world, he enjoys the fine company of Jedi and lightsabers."
John mouths to Ronon, He's doing the third-person thing again.
"Is that right, McKay? Mind if I do a Jedi mind trick on you?" Ronon huffs.
"Hmmph. As if you can pull a fast one on me. Take your best shot, Conan."
"You will let me eat all your food."
"I will do no such—" A moment later. "Oh, oh." Rodney stares at his salmon drenched in lemon juice.
"Just kidding, McKay." Ronon places a fresh plate of salmon in front of him. "You should've seen your face."
"Ha, ha. You got me. Monkeys typing Shakespeare."
"Love you too, Rodney."
Teyla whispers to John, "I would not trade this for the world." Their hands intertwine underneath the table.
"Me either," he smiles, and this time it reaches his eyes.