Title: Hopefully Penitent
Fandoms: Stargate SG-1/Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: Teyla Emmagan/Vala Mal Doran
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Try anyway, break into air, screaming to be alive.
Notes: Set after the end of SGA
Vala followed the Atlantis expedition back to the Pegasus Galaxy because Daniel did, and Colorado became rather boring when nobody cared whether she knocked over towering stacks of books just to hear them crash. Besides, Sam had mentioned frequent trading missions with planets that didn't like the Tauri, and making deals with people who disliked her was one of the four fields in which Vala considered herself an expert.
"Fine, Vala." Woolsey set down his spoonful of mashed yams and held up a quelling hand. "Just please, don't tell me the other three."
Vala grinned and stood and raised her arms to enfold the gazes of the entire mess hall. "I promise," she announced, "I won't forget any of you." She tipped her head at a staff sergeant across the room. "Especially you, lovely."
She clapped Woolsey on the shoulder. He hung his head and sighed.
After being ensconced within Cheyenne for so very, very long, the ceiling to floor windows of Atlantis felt decadent. Her quarters, while a little farther from the more active portions of the city than she would have preferred, felt like a palace. She tossed plush draperies over the furniture and arranged candles artfully on an end table.
She wondered whether she could convince one of those darling botanists to relocate a decorative plant in the corner of her room. Maybe, if she asked very nicely, they would water it for her, too.
The door to her quarters slid open with a swoosh, and Vala paused, her back three-quarters to the door. She cocked her hip, pressed her lips together for a split second before turning. "Yes?"
"Good evening." Teyla raised her eyebrows. "I thought I would see how you liked your new quarters."
"Quite well, thank you," Vala purred. "And how kind of you to ask." She swiveled around. "You wouldn't happen to know any impressionable botanists, would you?"
"Actually, yes." Teyla's lips quirked, and she folded her hands together, like a tempted nun.
"Spectacular." Vala strode forward. "I might also require a Marine or two." She paused next to Teyla, then wondered if it was too soon for familiarity.
Teyla tilted her head. "Would you like to reacquaint yourself with the operations?"
"Absolutely," Vala confirmed. And they swept out of the room and into the city proper.
Vala had been trading for Atlantis for two months before they traveled to the first home of Atlantis, and the abandoned home of the Athosians. She glanced at Teyla as they stepped through the gate; she seemed sad, her expression hollowed. Vala reached out, tugged at the hem of her vest.
Teyla shivered, then looked over at Vala and smiled. "I am fine. Truly." She watched as their armed escort spread out, for form's sake. The four Athosians accompanying them paused, watching her. "I do not feel the Wraith," she told them, and they nodded. In pairs, they made their way into the forest, where the sunlight didn't seem to fully penetrate.
Behind them, the wormhole flickered and closed. "You didn't have to come, you know," Vala said.
"My people have long gathered their healing herbs from this forest," Teyla responded. "The tradition was broken when the Wraith chased us from our home, but the harvest time has come again." She looked at Vala and smiled. "And we are not trading. You did not have to come, either."
Vala shrugged. "Perhaps you could show me those caves Sheppard mentioned."
"Perhaps." Teyla stared into the distance, as if she could hear something coming. "Perhaps later."
Vala watched her, and considered later, as well.
The first gathering day finished without incident, and on the second, a score of Athosians arrived, all older, all wistful. While they scoured the forest, accompanied by some of the Tau'ri, Teyla coordinated with two Marines, setting up a large tent in the clearing that used to be the Athosians' village. The cloth shone under the setting sun, its walls falling like the wings of a pavilion.
Vala helped an Athosian man stack wood for the night's bonfire, and when he turned away, Teyla walked up, dusting her hands against her layered skirts.
"It looks beautiful," Vala said, gesturing to the tent. "Does it mean anything?"
Teyla shook her head. "It is only shelter." She bent, adjusted a log minutely. "There will be a celebration later. A dance." She straightened, and a lock of hair fell across her forehead. "The caves are not far," she said.
Vala blinked, then nodded. "Show me."
Teyla grasped Vala's wrist, and their hands slid together in a clasp.
When they emerged from the caves, the moon was rising above them. Teyla shivered, and Vala edged closer to her, until their bare shoulders touched. Teyla twined their arms together, and they walked into the forest. The moss was dry but springy under Vala's feet, and she listened to Teyla's breath, steady and soft in the silence.
They walked into a glade, stopped before the remnants of a fallen tree. Teyla paused, pressed her hand against the crumbling bark, as if communing.
"Teyla?" Vala bit her lip, feeling unsteady. She stepped closer, dipping her head, and when Teyla looked up, Vala leaned in, brushed their lips together. She lingered for just a moment, and when she drew back, Teyla smiled, as she had hoped. She gathered her wits together with a snap, and grinned. "Well--"
And Teyla touched her hand to Vala's collar, tugged, and her mouth was sweet, her tongue warm. Vala tried not to gasp against her, twisted her fingers around the loose braid of Teyla's hair.
Finally, she breathed, the fallen tree trunk pressing behind her knees. Teyla laughed, low, and raised her face to the moonlight.
"What is it?" Vala asked, skimming her hands under the hem of Teyla's tunic.
Teyla trailed her hand down Vala's arm. "The moon," she replied. "I so seldom saw it, when this was my home." She clutched Vala's shoulders, tilted her head and nipped Vala's bottom lip. "The moon was no friend to my people."
Vala could think of a thousand tales that began the same, but none of them ended well. "Should we find shelter?" she finally murmured, and Teyla arched against her exploring fingers.
"No," she said. She pulled open the fastenings of Vala's trousers, the laces whipping free. "The omens no longer hold. The Wraith have abandoned this place."
And Vala sighed, and tried not to think of the world so emptied.
The oceans around Atlantis sang of death. Vala thrashed, jerked awake, sweat beading on her forehead. She drank the air in great draughts, and beside her, Teyla murmured, soothing with her hands.
"Fire," Vala said, her voice hoarse.
Teyla brushed hair out of Vala's face. "Does it plague you often?"
"Among other things," Vala replied, and she wished it sounded more like a joke.
Teyla studied her for a moment, and Vala felt abashed, started to gather into herself again. But Teyla tugged at her hair gently, pulled her into a quelling kiss. "We are all haunted," she finally replied.
Vala laughed, and together, they tried to forget.
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Anne-Marie Cusac's The Ducking Stool. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.
Linked on sg_rarepairings.