Title: Mace and Cloves
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: I grow talons of housekeys that slash the August air.
Teyla had spent her entire life acting as a diplomat, a representative of her people. As her life shifted from Athosian to Atlantean, her responsibilities changed, but her role remained much the same.
Representing her entire galaxy to all of Earth's dignitaries, however, was a challenge she felt might be beyond her, even if Earth's secrecy allowed her to avoid a more glaring spotlight. (In the second week, Vala Mal Doran found her in the cafeteria. She slid into the seat across from Teyla, next to Teal'c, and tried to commiserate with them about Earth's paranoia about the media, and something called paparazzi, but Teyla couldn't quite follow the train of logic.) Teyla spent her spare hours, what few there were between conferences and training and Torren, poring over video files in the SGC library. She learned to greet elders in several different languages, and practiced a variety of nods, acknowledgments, and bows.
Sam found her one evening, stretching her tongue around estou bem, obrigadoa, while Torren pushed piles of pretzels and goldfish crackers around the table.
"I didn't see you at dinner," Sam observed. She extended a hand to Torren, who took her index finger and shook it solemnly. "Is everything all right?"
"All is well." Teyla paused the audio recording, making sure to skip back to the beginning of the track. "I am meeting with representatives from South America tomorrow, so I thought I would review their profiles before Torren slept."
Sam reached across the table and hit the remote, listened to the computer's pronunciation before attempting to emulate the phrase.
Teyla smiled, then repeated the wording exactly.
"You're good at this," Sam said, her smile wry.
Teyla laughed. "An hour ago, I was not so skilled." She swept Torren's snacks from his tray into a bowl. "May I help you in some way?"
"No." Sam shook her head. She swiped a cracker from the bowl and waved it in front of Torren. "Will I see you at breakfast tomorrow?"
"Yes." Teyla watched Torren stretch his arms out, watched his face as he finally grasped it. She handed Sam a pretzel, and Sam tapped it against Torren's nose. "I would enjoy that very much."
Torren grabbed at the pretzel, babbling excitedly, and Sam laughed.
Days went by, weeks went by, and a team of scientists tried to convince Teyla to allow them to do genetic scans on Torren. She wavered, but Kanaan balked, so she managed to convince them to scan her DNA, instead.
When she arrived in the lab for her first round of tests, Sam was already there, moderating an argument between Carson and Dr. Lee. Teyla couldn't follow some of the scientific jargon, but she found the repeated usage of "catalyst" and "modification accelerant" slightly alarming.
When Carson spotted her, his shoulders relaxed, as if in relief. Sam looked at him, then turned her head and met Teyla's questioning gaze. Without breaking eye contact as Teyla approached, Sam handed a clipboard to Dr. Lee.
"I'll tell you what," she said, touching her fingers to Teyla's elbow. "If you can convince Teyla this doesn't pose any dangers, I'll sign off on it."
"Well--" Dr. Lee sputtered for a moment, and he leafed through his notes.
Teyla looked at Carson's raised eyebrows, and at the set of Sam's lips. "No," she pronounced precisely, "but perhaps we could discuss acceptable alternatives to this," she paused, "procedure."
Dr. Lee sighed, and Carson sighed, and Sam sighed, though the quality of each was quite distinct. Teyla folded her hands together and waited for the proposals to begin, and Sam's hand was warm against her arm.
Weeks went by, months went by, and the repairs to Atlantis were slow and sure. In the mornings, Teyla visited Radek's workshop and he told her several things about machinery that sparked and grumbled and hummed under their hands. She flew between SGC headquarters and Atlantis, still cloaked, and the Pentagon and the IOA's various bases.
She played with Torren, sparred with Ronon, and listened to John complain about bureaucracy.
Somewhere in transit between Geneva and Denver, Teyla stared out her window, stared down at unfamiliar mountains, and when Sam cleared her throat from across the aisle, Teyla turned her head and smiled. "It is strange," she said. "The mountains are so different from those on my own planet." She only experienced a faint twinge, thinking of the planet on which she was born, now abandoned.
Sam watched her, teeth glinting against her bottom lip for a quick moment. "I have a surprise for you," she said, finally.
"Yes?" Teyla raised an eyebrow.
"Well," Sam began, "You haven't really had a chance to see much of Earth, right?"
"Unfortunately not," Teyla replied. "There was a question of security clearance at first, and the IOA has requested much of my time--"
"Or all of it," Sam said.
Teyla laughed. Nodded.
"I took the liberty of rearranging your schedule," Sam continued. "Just for the afternoon." She grinned. "I hope you like the beach."
"I expect I shall," Teyla said, and Sam reached across the aisle and took her hand.
Minutes went by, hours went by, as did two airports and a harbor. Teyla followed Sam through the wide corridors of a government-owned building, out into the dazzling sunlight and baking-hot concrete beneath her feet. Teyla raised her face to the sky and felt the heat shimmer against her skin.
Fingers ghosted against her shoulder, and she opened her eyes to Sam's hopeful face.
"It's unbearable in August," Sam offered, "but the warmth's a nice change when you've been in space for a while."
Teyla hummed agreement, raised her arms to lift her hair from the back of her neck.
"I'm sure you miss home," Sam said, "but Earth's not so bad, I think."
"Not at all." She smiled at Sam and reached out, pulled her close, and closer. "I have always traveled," she murmured.
And Sam nodded, and under the bright alien sky, they kissed.
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Jennifer Perrine's Walking Home After the Graveyard Shift. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.
Linked at femslash09.