Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Notes: Happy sga_santa!
Summary:Teyla learned early on that to lead meant to be alone.
Teyla learned early on that to lead meant to be alone.
Teyla learned the histories at Charin's knee the same as the other children, but she was never truly a part of them. She was Teyla, daughter of Tagan. She was destined to be the next Emmagan of the Athosian people, like her mother and grandmothers before her. The Elders didn't always choose the daughter of the previous Emmagan to replace her, but everyone knew that Teyla had her mother's bearing and gift for trade with the sometimes strange outsiders. Teyla had the Wraith sense, to help keep her people safe. Everyone knew that, when Wraith or sickness took her mother, Teyla would become Emmagan. It made the other children kind, but distant. It was dangerous, being too close to an Emmagan. Her father, culled because he refused to leave her mother's side while she left the caves to find stragglers, only brought that point further home.
She did have friends, of course. Halling, the son of the wisest of the Elders, she knew would one day become her right hand. He was being taught the rituals and the masculine mysteries. He was as apart from the other children as she was, in some ways. And Kanaan, she thought, might one day become the man she would choose to father her children. He, too, had the Wraith sense. He would be a good father for the Emmagan to follow her.
When her mother was killed by traders during her 15th year, Teyla stood tall and proud in front the Elders as they proclaimed her young, but ready. Her mother had taught her all she could, and there was no one else. Teyla was the Emmagan, the leader of her people.
She stood alone.
"May I join you?" Elizabeth said.
Teyla smiled and inclined her head. "Please."
Elizabeth set her tray down on the table beside her, and quietly began eating. She was a good meal companion, especially early in the morning. Rodney spoke far too much and John was extremely unpleasant to be around before he'd had a few cups of coffee. Aiden had been like a small resala, bouncing and bright. Ronon Dex was still a mostly unknown quantity, but Teyla rarely saw him until later in the day. Elizabeth, though, was calm and quiet in the mornings, eating her meal in silence as she watched her people.
Teyla knew she was looking for problems, watching for conflicts that might be coming to a head. She had done it herself for years, during morning tea. It was a difficult habit to break, even now that she was not with her people most of the time, Halling looking after them in her stead. "I believe," she said when Elizabeth was almost finished with her morning meal, "that you may wish to speak with Dr. Nguyen and Corporal Alvarez."
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow.
"There are rumors," Teyla said, "of a feud related to the distribution of pens that they seem to be at the center of."
Elizabeth covered a laugh. "I'll talk to them." She set her cup down and stood up. "Walk with me?"
Teyla followed Elizabeth out of the mess, waiting for her to speak. They walked out onto an empty balcony and looked out at the sun rising over the water.
"I wanted to ask your advice," Elizabeth said after a long moment.
"Of course. How can I help?"
"How do you deal with it?"
"Deal with what?"
"The loneliness of always being in command," Elizabeth clarified.
Ah. "Is that not something you had to deal with on Earth?"
Elizabeth frowned. "It's different, on Earth. I may have been leading a large group of people, but I could always leave and go someplace where no one knew who I was and de-stress. Even when I was on the Antarctic Base, there were always trips back to McMurdo. But here, there's nowhere to go. Virtually no one to talk to that I'm not, in some way, in charge of."
Teyla found that hard to imagine, the ability to walk away from leadership for even a moment, but she found Earth culture confusing at the best of times. She looked out at the waves and thought for a moment. "I'm somewhat unsure how to answer you," she confessed.
Elizabeth sighed. "I'll take any suggestions at all at this point."
Teyla smiled. "It's not that I can not give you suggestions, but simply that the I have always been a leader, even as a young girl. My 'coping mechanisms'," she said, using the euphemism preferred by Dr. Heightmeyer, "are so familiar to me that I'm unsure how to describe them."
"Try," Elizabeth said, her voice wry. "Please."
"I keep my body and mind busy. I cultivate friendships with those who are also slightly apart from their people, like Halling when I was young, or Dr. McKay and Colonel Sheppard, who might understand, at least in part."
Elizabeth nodded. "Unfortunately, even John and Rodney are technically in my charge. Which often makes me feel like I'm babysitting."
Teyla laughed. She looked at Elizabeth. The bright light of the morning shone onto her face, making her look radiant. "My mother," she said slowly, "also had another strategy."
"Oh?" Elizabeth turned to look her and raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."
"She cultivated close relationships with those of equal rank to her on other worlds that she thought she could trust." Teyla smiled at the memory. "I think she knew Saylan of Galtha better even than she did my father. She certainly spent as many nights with her." She reached out and placed her hand over Elizabeth's.
Elizabeth's breath stuttered. "Teyla, what are you offering?"
Teyla looked her in the eye. "Elizabeth, you are already my friend. But if you would like a closer relationship, to, as you put it, 'de-stress'," Teyla grinned at the flush rising up Elizabeth's cheeks, "it would be a joy and a pleasure."
"I." Elizabeth stopped and huffed out a breathy laugh, breaking into a smile. "There is absolutely no way I can say no to that."
Teyla leaned in, resting her forehead against Elizabeth's. "I'm glad."
Elizabeth brought her other hand up to Teyla's cheek, reangling their heads and brushing her lips against Teyla's. The touch was light and sweet, and Teyla sighed into it, clutching Elizabeth's hand a little tighter.
Elizabeth leaned back, her cheeks still flushed. "I don't actually have to be anywhere this morning until the briefing in at 10:00. Would you like to get another cup of coffee? In my quarters?"
"I would be honored," Teyla said honestly, feeling lighter than she had in years.
Teyla may have learned a long time ago that to lead meant to be alone, but she had also learned that there was no burden in life that couldn't be lessened if it was shared.