Summary: The words travelling through John Sheppard's mind needed a certain kind of eloquence.
Characters: John, Teyla, Grae, Kanan
Rating: K for a wee swear word.
Author's Note: And so it is with a sad heart and a fond wave that I bid farewell to this, the last of Indomitable. It has been a pleasure to have you as my readers, and I have loved all of your reviews. I hope this is the resolution you were looking for.
Once again, this is for Camy - without whom, this wouldn't have happened.
The words that were travelling through John Sheppard's mind needed a certain kind of eloquence that, at that moment, he did not possess. The shrubbery clung to his trousers, his fingers, his boots – his hair. He'd given up trying to brush it off after the first mile and a half. The rain had ceased its cascading drizzle long after he was soaked. The ground was muddy and it clung to his boots like clay, weighing him down.
Damn, he wasn't prepared for this.
He'd started the journey thinking of the conversations that could come to pass by the end of it, then he'd conversed with himself as to the sanity of this adventure. His conversation had quickly dwindled to a monologue of short sentences that generally consisted of more than one profanity as he realised the state of the ground beneath him. He cursed everything from the hot humid air, to the slick sweat running down his forehead.
Since when had Athosia turned into a rainforest, he wondered as he swatted at the flies and mosquito like bugs that swarmed around his head. He ran a futile hand over his face and pressed on, deciding not to stop at the base of any of the cosy looking trees for a break. He'd been gone for two weeks, he couldn't wait any longer.
He trudged through the infertile soil, uphill, for a few more minutes before he came to the clearing where the Athosian settlement had been. His internal cynic stressed the word 'had', as he looked around the empty space. There was debris littered around that let him know that he hadn't taken a wrong turn like he'd thought. He sighed, his shoulders sagging as a river of muddy water rushed over his feet, soaking him even more.
Surely someone could have told him they'd moved the settlement.
He took a few steps and his feet sank into the ground, covering his boots as sopping mud seeped over the rim of his boots.
"Ah, fuck!" He half yelled as he pulled himself out of the ground, one foot at a time only for it to disappear upon reaching ground again. He stopped, sighed and closed his eyes as the rain started once more in earnest. He raised his face to the sky and let the warm droplets wash away the salty residue on his forehead and he reached for the flask on his hip, taking a swig of the tepid water. "Great," he murmured as he hooked it back on. He petulantly folded his arms across his chest and almost refused to move. A bolt of white hot electricity lit the sky and he groaned loudly as he dug his fingers into his eyes. "Okay," he grumbled as he sighed resolutely. "I guess I deserve this..."
The dampness seeped into his bones and the old fractures in his legs throbbed coldly with every step he took. His head began to pound with the heat and the rumbling thunder overhead but as he caught a peak of the tents of the Athosian settlement over the ridge, he knew he would do it all again if it meant he got to set things right with Teyla. Two weeks ago, he'd left her and their child on some ill-thought-out return to Earth and had spent every day since formulating how he'd campaign for his return.
Luckily, he knew a few people here and there and he'd been granted a return to Atlantis, on the basis that he 'get the girl'.
On his return to Atlantis – somehow kept secret from Rodney and Ronon – he'd been greeted with open arms, then a swift kick up the ass – literally – from Ronon before being informed that Teyla had returned to be with her people, despite the dissolution of her marriage to Kanan. At least he was there for her.
Which is how he found himself on the Pegasus version of the Amazon Rainforest, hoping against all hope that somehow, Teyla would forgive his stupidity. Unlikely, but he knew it deserved a chance.
The settlement quieted as he sauntered in looking a little worse for wear. The tents they were using to shelter themselves from the rain adorned both sides of a huge bonfire (also under a huge tent) and the occupants parted as he wandered through. Some looked upon him with disdain, others with malice and John tried his best to not turn and run in the opposite direction. He had a plan and he was damn well going to follow it out.
He froze at the voice and turned slowly in the direction of the orator, his lips twisting in a wince of their own accord.
"Kanan." He nodded to the other man who stood between two burly men. Suddenly, John felt like a teenager trying to gain access to the local nightclub. "And it's just Sheppard."
"I had heard of your intended retirement from your military, though I had not anticipated you would pursue it."
John nodded, drawing his lips between his teeth, looking everywhere but at the man whose marriage he'd broken, trying not to think of the possible meanings behind Kanan's words. His hand rose involuntarily to the back of his head, ruffling his drenched hair.
Kanan said nothing as he gestured to the end of the settlement, his hand rising to follow his head. John turned slightly in the direction he'd indicated before turning back and nodding to him again. He wanted to say something but he didn't know what. And he was pretty sure he didn't want to say it in the presence of the entire village.
Quickly, quietly he continued his journey to the end of the make shift street and he stopped short of the flap that would gain him access to Teyla. This was as far as his plan went. He hadn't really thought of what to say, his conversations from earlier having been interrupted by the blasted rain. He shuffled his feet and winced at the squelching sound that came from his boots. Taking a deep breath he took a step forward, raised his hand for the door chimes before laughing slightly at his own bad habits (he'd even been doing it back on Earth) and pushed the curtain aside.
The room was as he remembered the one on Athos. The deep red of the tent walls were highlighted by the flickering candles scattered across the room. The floor was carpeted with thick rugs of gold and ruby and auburn that he had no inclination to dirty with his muddy boots. He could hear splashing from the other side of a partition to his left and he smiled as he heard the gurgle of laughter from what could only be Grae.
Staying still had never been so hard.
He could see the edge of the bed through another partition in front of him, the emerald through he had given her for Christmas one here strewn across the end. He smiled at that but refused to let his mind think of what that meant. He turned his head from side to side taking in the various items on different surfaces: the urn Rodney had given her; the silver rattle Carter had given her for Doran; the (blunt) knives Ronon had given her for both Doran and Grae; the little pieces she'd picked up from various different worlds they'd visited. He smiled. He'd never felt more at home.
When he turned back to the partition, he saw her frozen to the spot, her eyes wide and fixed on him. His breath caught in his throat as his eyes traversed her body; the lilac and grey top she wore showed off more than enough skin for John's blood to start boiling, the skirt even more so. He let the breath out slowly through his nose as his eyes reached hers again, before sliding to the wriggling mass on her hip. He battled his legs to keep them from motion.
She didn't say anything as she slowly turned from him but he caught the frown before she' completely turned. He didn't say anything as he let her go through the partition to her bedroom. He stood there for a few more minutes, listening to the tired giggles, the incoherent murmurs of a young baby and her voice, lulling Grae to sleep.
Eventually, she returned, a long cardigan covering her body. He tried not to frown in resignation as she stopped again, staring at him with empty eyes.
"I..." He trailed off airily, the words failing to come. He glanced down, raised his hands to his face and groaned again. "I..." Men who said women couldn't reduce them to bumbling fools had obviously never met Teyla Emmagan. He tried again but the words stuck in his throat as he tried to force them out.
"What are you doing here?" She asked and John sighed.
"I'm not good... at this." She raised her eyebrow and John winced, looking away. He really wasn't good at this. "I'm an idiot." He tried to glare at her when she nodded in agreement. "I... things... We..." He sighed again and shivered as a cold draft hit his back. "There are a lot of things I should probably apologise for." The words brought back memories of a happier time for them both, when neither had been burdened with the events of the past four years. She stared at him, unblinking and he realised he wasn't above begging for her to simply say he should give it no further thought. But she didn't. "I'm sorry. For everything. For... for ruining your marriage... for not being here for you... for the way I reacted when you told me about Doran... for... for... for leaving you and Grae. I'm sorry about Grae..." he trailed off again as he frowned at that. "Well, no... I'm not sorry for Grae... I'm just sorry that... that I did that... well, I'm not but I'm sorry about the consequences... not that I'm saying Grae is a consequence... well, he is but not in a bad way."
John felt like Rodney, on a bad day. He stared helplessly at Teyla, his eyes begging her to offer him a reprieve. She did and he smiled slightly.
"I understand what it is you are trying to say. I will not accept your apology."
He frowned as his jaw dropped. He knew it wasn't going to be easy but for her to so blatantly shoot him down was a surprise.
"Okay... well, not okay... give me a chance to explain what-"
"You need not explain. I know you John Sheppard. I have known you for six years." She levelled him with a stare and he gulped, his mouth snapping shut with an audible click. "And while I do not agree with your actions, I understand them. You are too good a man to leave a child behind."
He nodded mutely, then quickly shook his head.
"I didn't come back for Grae." She raised her eyebrows and he mentally kicked himself again. "Of course I did but that's not the only reason I'm here. When you came to me... I knew that you were asking me to stay and I didn't. I should have but I didn't and for that, I can't even begin to explain how sorry I am. Even as I let you walk out of my room for the last time I knew it was wrong. Even before you'd walked into my room, I knew it was wrong. But... but... You were happy – you said it yourself; you love Kanan and I just... I couldn't stand in the way of that and then when I saw you didn't have your ring on... I was scared, Teyla." He took a deep breath as he faltered off. He was doing quite a good job with winging it, he realised.
"You need not be scared of me." He titled his head in acquiesce but still twisted his lips in a cynical smirk.
"I guess... what I'm trying to... what I'm trying to say, Teyla... is that... I love you." He could see the surprise in her eyes though her featured never gave her away. She didn't say anything and he felt that cold pit of dread open up in his stomach. "I love you... and... and I know that, that I don't..." he sighed loudly again and shuffled his feet.
"You are wet."
He looked back to her, startled by her sudden change in topic and nodded.
"Well, it's raining," he said dumbly.
"Your leg must be sore." He nodded. "Sit."
He stared at her for a few moments before nodding and shrugging out of his jacket and shucking his feet of his boots and socks. The warm carpet was a delight for his cold wet feet. He sat on the floor in front of the fire where she'd indicated and found the heat welcoming. He closed his eyes as he wrapped his arms around his knees, absently rubbing at the cold ache in his leg. He heard shuffling as when he opened his eyes he found her sitting across from him, her arms supporting her weight, the fire casting half her face into shadow. She was beautiful. The cardigan slid open a little and his eyes found delight in the skin that was on show. They watched one another for a long moment, their eyes never leaving the others as the warmth from the fire licked at their skin.
"I knew you would return eventually but there is a part of me that finds no joy in your arrival." He tried not to let the sting of hurt show in his eyes. He needed to hear this just as much as she needed to say it. "I do not mean to hurt you but if ever we are to speak the truth..." he nodded before she even finished her sentence. He could see how difficult it was for him to say these words to him because he knew that deep down she loved him, at least half as much as he loved her. "Grae is your son, John and I will never keep him from you. But there is a part of me..."
"You don't know if you can trust me."
She shook her head slightly.
"I have given myself to you twice before and yet you have still left me, still let me return to Kanan."
"Teyla, I'm sor-"
"Do not apologise. I know you were doing what you thought was right for me at the time. But my pride cannot be mended as easily as my heart." He winced but kept the apology on his tongue at bay. "Your people say that time heals all wounds. My only hope is that your time on Earth healed yours. My son does not need a broken father."
John frowned but a smile tried to creep onto his face. He stilled his hand when it tried to reach out to her.
"I've come to terms with a lot of things- I've realised a lot of things while I was on Earth. I need this, Teyla... I need you. I knew it when I made my decision to go back to Earth but my place... my home, it's here. With you." She smiled evanescently and he could swear there was a sheen of tears in her eyes. He didn't comment on them though as he tried to mask his own. "Can you trust me to make this right?"
She pursed her lips and appraised him with an unyielding stare. He let her do it. He knew she needed to. He needed her to. The minutes passed by like hours as he watched her. He knew that the next words from her mouth would be their making, or their resolution. If she couldn't trust him, he'd only be the father of her child and love her from afar as he had been doing for so long. If she did, not only would he be the father of her child but he'd make sure she knew he worshipped every fibre of her being, as he should have been doing since he'd met her.
She lowered her lids and he held his breath, his throat clogging as his eyes filled. He could feel his heart hammering against his chest, trying to burst through his rib cage. Trepidation was like a whale that swam in the deep of his gut and he wanted to close his eyes against the pain he was sure he was about to feel but he couldn't take his eyes from her. The firelight glistened against her hair, alighting her skin with a sun kissed glaze that he wanted to touch, to devour.
"I have faith that you will try."
It wasn't quite what he was looking for but it would do. He knew it was all she could give him. He'd hurt her and although it wasn't what he wanted, it was more than he expected. She rose and he watched her through misty eyes, afraid to blink in case the tears rolled down his cheeks.
She held her out for him and he let her pull him up. He let her take his hand and guide him to her room. He let her cover him with the throw he'd gotten her while she lifted a dozing Grae from his cot. He held his arms out and she watched as he cradled the bundle to his chest. He let the tears trickle down his face. As she sat next to him, one hand on the still tiny head of their son, John couldn't resist the urge and placed a gentle kiss on her temple. She let him lean against her, exhausted.
And as he lay there with her fingers in his hair, their son cradled in his arms, John knew that the words travelling through his mind needed a certain kind of eloquence that only silence could possess.