A/N: A Progeny tag.
John glanced to the side, catching Teyla's eye for a moment, before she practically ran from the mess hall. He shook his head to clear it. It had been two days since they had just barely escaped from the Asurans, and two days in which he hadn't spoke more than a word to Teyla beyond the debriefing. She'd been avoiding him. To what purpose he didn't know.
He looked down at his food, not even really feeling hungry anymore. The turkey sandwich sat half eaten, mocking him outright. John sat back, shoving his tray forward. He looked up at Rodney, who, just like Teyla, hadn't said too much, though he was not avoiding him.
"Rodney, what's with Teyla?" John asked.
Rodney looked up from his food, almost biting his lip. "I don't know." He said after a moment.
"And what's with you too?" John said, frowning. "You haven't lectured me about anything since we got back. You haven't been snappish with anyone. What's with you Rodney?"
"Would you like it if I snapped at you?" Rodney snapped, but without his usual arrogant demeanor.
"Nice try Rodney, but somethings not been right with you since we escaped from the Asurans." John figured he might as well get Rodney talking, maybe it might shed some light on what was going on with Teyla too.
"Alright, it was the torture." Rodney said quietly. "I can't stop thinking about it... so horrible."
"It wasn't real Rodney." John replied. "And your mind knows that."
Rodney looked away, out over the ocean. "I know... its just... okay... I haven't been able to sleep at all."
"Running on eight or nine cups of coffee?" John asked.
"More like ten or eleven." Rodney finished with a sigh. "Its stupid isn't it. All the things I've seen have been so much worse... you'd think I could stomach a little torture."
"Its not a question of stomaching it Rodney, its all about learning to live with it. It wasn't real, they used you, and you used them in turn." John tried to reassure his friend. "I taught you how to survive that, how to put your mind away from it."
Rodney looked up and started at John. "It wasn't me they tortured." Rodney said after a moment.
"Who was it then?" John asked, suddenly pieces falling into place, like a puzzle. Watching your friends be tortured was far worse than being tortured yourself.
Rodney stared off into the horizon for the longest time, even though John knew it was only a few minutes. Finally, the brilliant astrophysicist turned back to face him. "Elizabeth." Rodney said, his voice so far below a whisper that John almost missed it.
John looked at his friend, now he understood. Rodney would never admit that he cared for those around him, but John knew that was far from the truth. Rodney didn't have a lot in the way of family back on Earth, just like John. Rodney didn't make friends easily, it came from his overly arrogant demeanor.
But he'd read Elizabeth report from when the Genii had overrun the city. Rodney had stepped in front of the gun that had been meant to kill Elizabeth. At first John hadn't believed it, citing it as just a coincidence, then he'd noticed a steady change in Rodney. Sure, he was still arrogant and obnoxious, but he was changing for the better in some instances.
John smiled. "Rodney, have you talked to her about it?"
Rodney looked down at his plate. "How do you talk to someone about that... its like telling them that you're having personal fantasies about them."
"Are you?" John asked, not missing a chance the tease Rodney.
Rodney's face turned crimson. "I am not!" He protested. "That is for stupid insecure little men like yourself Colonel."
"Its beside point." John said, his expression sobering. "I think it would help if you talked to her about it."
"Really?" Rodney asked. For a moment Rodney wasn't the brilliant astrophysicist, but just a lonely man, still trying to come to terms with how he felt inside.
"Trust me Rodney, it'll help." John picked up his tray.
"But what do I say?" Rodney asked.
"I can't tell you that." John said. "Just..." He placed a hand over his heart. "Trust whats in hear Rodney, instead of whats up there." He pointed to his head, then turned and left the mess hall.
John stopped outside Teyla's quarters. He clenched his fists, not really sure what he was going to do. He thought back to what she'd said in the cell back in the Asuran city. When he'd discovered that they had been in different visions, she'd been the most distressed. It might not have seemed that to the casual observer, but he knew Teyla better.
Whatever had been in her vision, whatever the Asuran's had used to measure her reactions, it had succeeded in breaking her. Teyla was a fighter, but he knew even she had her limits. He reached up and toggled the door chime.
There was no answer, not immediately. After almost a minute, the door opened. John couldn't believe what he saw, Teyla looked beaten, her eyes still wet. "You okay?" He asked.
Teyla turned, not answering his question and moving to sit back on her bed. John wasn't sure if he was supposed to enter, but he did. The door closed behind him. The room was lit only by the candles, which gave it an herbal feel to it. He slowly walked over to sit next to her.
"Teyla... I can't help you if you don't let me." He said with a short pause. "I..." He stuttered. "I want to help you."
Teyla took a ragged breath, her eyes closing as she did. "I cannot stop thinking about it." She said after a moment.
John took a moment, trying to form a response. This wasn't like dealing with Rodney. Rodney he could tease to make the tension go away, with Teyla he couldn't do that for the same circumstances. "What did the Asurans do to you?" He asked, hoping he'd hit the right target.
Teyla's chest rose and fell with a deep breath. She looked away. "It was... is... one of my greatest fears."
John watched her shudder and he took her hand in his. She looked up at him, but made no move to pull away from him. "Something with your people?" He asked. He knew how much her people meant to her.
"No, thankfully." Teyla replied. "But this was just as..." She trailed off.
John waited, letting her work through it. Her hand wrapped around his tightly. He returned the snug hold of her hand. He'd wait as long as he had to. He reached up with his spare hand and pulled his radio out of his ear, setting it down on her nightstand.
"I... they wanted information from me." Teyla said. "And they were willing to..." She trailed off.
"Torture us?" John tried to fill in, still unsure exactly what had happened with Teyla.
Teyla took another deep breath. "They brought us, as in you and me, to a room." She shuddered, memories vibrantly playing themselves out in her head. "They forced me to watch as they... removed pieces of you."
John's eyes widened at her description. The images in his mind nearly made him sick. He could only imagine what he would have done if they'd done the same thing to Teyla in his mind. "As in body parts." John said slowly.
"Yes." Teyla shuddered again. "They started with your fingers, and laid them out for me, one by one. You kept begging me to tell them what they wanted to know. It was more than I could bear."
"What did they want to know?" John asked.
"They never asked me any questions." Teyla looked at the floor.
John squeezed her hand. "You don't have to face this alone."
She turned to face him. "I am grateful." She leaned into his arms, resting her head against his chest.
He gently massaged her hand, his other hand now entwined with hers, his chin resting on her head. "Teyla... I'm always here for you." He drew her into a full embrace.
"Am I interrupting something?" Rodney asked, peaking into Elizabeth's office to see her bent over her computer.
Elizabeth flushed a slight red. "Not really." She showed him the screen. She was halfway through a solitaire game.
"Oh... well... I... uhh..." Rodney stuttered.
"Are you alright Rodney?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yeah... I'm... okay... I'm not fine." He sat down, trying not to fidget uncontrollably, or let his voice squeak.
Elizabeth moved to sit next to him. "Do you want me to get Carson?"
Rodney looked away. "This isn't something he can fix." He said. "And no amount of voodoo magic is going to help."
"Then what will Rodney." Elizabeth asked.
"I've been having trouble sleeping." Rodney said after a moment.
"You've never had any trouble before." Elizabeth scooted a bit closer. "What's wrong Rodney and just tell me!"
"You know when the Asuran's got into our minds." Rodney said, trying to ignore the fact that his and Elizabeth's knees were touching. It amazed even his scientific mind that she had that much of an effect on him, and that he didn't know how to deal with it.
"Yes, Rodney you should see Kate." Elizabeth said, concern evident in her voice.
"It wasn't me who was tortured!" Rodney said quickly, then he looked away for a moment, before turning to face her again. "It was you."
"Me?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yeah. I watched while they did things that..." Rodney shuddered. "... they..." He shook his head, getting up. "This was a stupid idea... stupid Colonel!" Rodney was out the door before Elizabeth could get out of her chair.
Rodney nearly ran down the halls, trying to get away. Images of what he'd seen plagued him over and over again. He sat down in a corner, the first tears coming to his eyes. Fresh pain hitting him with wave after wave of it. He just wanted to curl up in a ball and let it all out.
He wasn't sure how long he sat curled up in his ball before he felt a hand on his shoulder, a gentle hand. He looked up, finding Elizabeth kneeling next to him. Concern was written across her face. Rodney looked away. "I'm fine."
"No Rodney, your not." Elizabeth said. "You need to..." She paused. "...to deal with it."
"I can't!" Rodney protested. "Every time I close my eyes I see... them... you..." Rodney shuddered again. "It's too much."
"RODNEY!" Elizabeth said forcefully. "Pull it together. You are the genius here!"
"Not when it comes to this." Rodney replied, tears falling unabated.
Rodney wasn't quite sure what happened next, he found warm arms around him. Elizabeth hauled him to his feet, holding him against her. "Rodney... I'm here. I'm here." She said softly to his ear.
For the first time in two days, Rodney felt better. It was almost as if his mind had finally managed to make the connection that it wasn't real. That they hadn't been physically abused. Mentally was a different story, but he could deal with that... in time.
He looked her in the eyes. "Thanks Elizabeth."
She smiled. "That's what friends are for Rodney." She reached forward, placing a small kiss on his cheek, then turned to walk back to her office.
Rodney found himself following her.