Original story: Class: Insecta by cupidsbow. You probably need to read that first. Go on, I can wait. You won't regret it…
Ratings/Warnings: PG [Gen with McKay/Sheppard in the background]/None
Notes: With thanks to perspi and donutsweeper for help and reassurance.
Summary: John is better, and it is good to have him back. She is relieved and happy. Of course she is.
When he is out of the infirmary, safe and well and whole, it is easy for Teyla to ignore the tingling at the back of her mind, the deep seated instinct that is dangerwraithrun, because this is John, he is team, friend, family, and these instincts override the other. They let her smile at him, accept his apology and leave the gym without breaking into a run.
She pauses in the corridor, one hand on the wall, trying to get her breathing under control. John is supposed to be better now, recovered from the retrovirus, healthy and sane and himself again. But while it is true that she sees only the slightest trace of the scar on his arm and looks into eyes no longer stained yellow, there is something deeply and profoundly wrong still. She can feel it.
Or perhaps it is just her. With so many active Wraith in the galaxy now, she spends more nights dreaming of them than not. She is probably hypersensitive, that is all. John is better, and it is good to have him back. She is relieved and happy. Of course she is.
Straightening up, she heads down to her quarters, hoping that a few hours of meditation will help to settle her mind and body. She was too concerned to take time for this while John was in the infirmary; she should not have put it off for so long. Everything will seem better once she has centered herself again.
As she sits cross-legged in her darkened rooms, she sees again a flash of blue and yellow, skin that has begun its transformation and eyes that are no longer fully human, and she jerks out of her meditation with a gasp, lips already forming his name.
There is no such thing as a simple trading mission, Teyla thinks grimly as she runs through the forest. Ahead of her, Ronon is half-carrying Rodney over the roots and fallen logs that litter the ground, while behind her she can hear John's gun returning fire. She doesn't dare to turn, just keeps her eyes and senses open, alert for the slightest sign of danger.
There is a sharp yelp as Ronon more or less throws Rodney over a large log that is blocking the path, before vaulting it himself. There is another burst of gunfire, and Teyla is almost at the fallen tree, bracing herself to climb over it, when something slams into her from behind. For a moment, she panics, feeling hot breath against the back of her neck and strong arms wrapping around her, all of it subsumed by the scream of her Wraith sense which makes her want to scream and struggle against the crushing force.
Then the weight bears her into and over the log, knocking all the breath out of her and landing on top of her on the other side in a tangle of limbs. The log shudders as shots thud into it, and she hears John – John, John-not-Wraith, John - give a grunt of relief. He puts a hand on the ground next to her head, pushing himself up so that he can roll off of her, his other hand already grasping his gun again.
"You alright?" he asks, flashing her a tight grin when she nods. "Let's go."
She doesn't flinch when he takes her hand, however much she wants to, and they race on, dragging each other forwards, pushing branches aside and nearly tripping on tree roots. By the time they reach the Stargate, it is open, Ronon and Rodney are waiting impatiently for them, then they are through, skidding to a stop in Atlantis' gateroom and John is shouting "Close the gate," and they are safe and home and safe again.
After the obligatory infirmary visit, Teyla takes a long, long shower in her quarters, letting the scalding water run over her head, scrubbing at her skin until it feels raw. Still, she cannot remove the tingling in her hand where he touched her, or the shivering that seems to be coming from somewhere deep inside. It doesn't make any sense, and she doesn't understand it. She does recognize it, though. It is exactly how she feels when they enter a Hive ship.
She turns the shower temperature down, trying to drive away the sensations, until she is shivering from cold and has to get out and wrap herself in a towel. At least now, as she sits on the bed, trembling, she can blame it on the cold water, not her own nerves.
She thinks she's been hiding it well, going on just the same as ever, as though she doesn't flinch inside every time John looks at her and as though she misses their training sessions purely by chance. If he notices, he says nothing, then there are more important concerns, always something to distract them from what should be normal. But even she can't hide everything, and part of her has been tensed, anticipating the challenge. The only thing she does not expect is for it to be Ronon who brings the subject up.
He waits until they are off-world, staying overnight by some Ancient observatory that Rodney wants a better look at. As usual, he sets off before they can set up camp, which Teyla has learned is actually a good thing. She had to sleep in the last tent Rodney put up, and for all his genius, he is not a natural with canvas and poles.
Rolling his eyes tolerantly, John ambles after Rodney, leaving his own tent half-erected and keeping one hand on his gun. Teyla watches him go, trying to memorize the set of his shoulders and the tilt of his head. She cannot decide whether he has always looked this way, or if he has changed since his recovery.
"You got a problem with Sheppard?"
Teyla startles, looking round at Ronon quickly, frowning. "No," she says automatically. "Why?"
Ronon's shrugs are always eloquent. "You've been a bit weird with him is all. Keeping your distance. Did something happen?" The emphasis he puts on the last word is suggestive and then it is Teyla's turn to roll her eyes.
"Nothing has happened. Everything is fine."
"You sure?" Ronon is carefully threading the poles into the roof-canvas, not looking at her. "'cause I had this friend in my unit who broke up with this guy. She was okay with it, but he was really cut up and things got really awkward there for a while."
It isn't that she doesn't appreciate Ronon's interest, or even his own version of relationship counseling, but this is not a conversation Teyla can have with anyone, and especially not with Ronon. Carefully, she says, "Nothing has happened between John and myself. We have breakfast together-"
"You always read those horoscope things out now. It's all we talk about."
"-and we train together occasionally-"
"When was the last time you did that?"
"We are busy." Teyla manages something approaching a glare. "Please, Ronon. There is nothing."
"Okay," Ronon says, in a way that clearly means yeah, right, but he finishes putting the tent up without speaking again.
They are just about finished when, in the distance, they hear the sound of the Stargate activating, and Teyla's Wraith sense kicks in so fiercely that she staggers. Then there is no time to think, only to grab what weapons they can and dive for cover as the first darts scream overhead.
Everything goes insane for a while, darts and Wraith everywhere, and the Hive ship in orbit making Teyla's senses spin, then Rodney is running back through the ruins, darting from side to side as best he can, and narrowly avoiding getting scooped up by the nearest dart. John is not with him.
Teyla thinks John would be proud of the way they still work as a team without him, executing their hasty plan and relying more heavily on luck than Teyla is entirely happy with. John would probably appreciate that part too. Still, it works, and they materialize from the dart firing their weapons, taking down the guards before a single shot can be aimed at them.
Being on the Hive ship brings all of Teyla's senses into sharpness, the side of herself that she usually tries to hide becomes overwhelming, and it feels like waking up into a nightmare, the horror of it set against how right it feels. As she adjusts and integrates it into her mind, she can feel John, his own wrongness pulling at her awareness, not one of them, but not wholly different either. For a moment, she wonders if this is how the Wraith perceive her, then Ronon is touching her shoulder and she has to drag herself back to the immediate problems.
As soon as she knows where John is, she sends Rodney and Ronon to set a distraction, using her best reassuring look, then her best stern glare to convince them. John would not want them to see this.
She is able to avoid most of the guards as she makes her way to the Queen's chamber, hiding from the others in doorways and shadows. John is sharp in her mind now, almost as powerfully as the Queen. And there is no mistaking the sense from either of them. Teyla feels her cheeks flushing, feels the heat rising through her body, unmistakable and, right now, unwelcome. It distracts her enough that she almost walks into the next guard, barely ducking out of the way in time.
Standing in the shadowed doorway, she can feel everything from the chamber ahead, the headiness of it, seductive and powerful, so that she finds herself breathing hard, running a hand down her neck, skimming over bare skin, wanting to reach lower. She is a hair's breadth from continuing below the neckline of her bodice when the ship rocks and the sensations retreat as quickly as they came, replaced by anger and surprise and a sharp focus on the more immediate problems.
There is no need for stealth any more, and Teyla hurries down the corridor, shooting the next drone who gets in her way. She winces at the sound of the gun, frighteningly loud in the narrow corridor, but it feels good to fire and watch him fall, then the next and the next. It feels real and cleansing, blotting out the earlier heat and twist of desire.
She has to be more careful as she approaches the Queen's chamber, keeping to the shadows and listening both with her five senses and that indefinable sixth that is a much better guide. John is still getting closer, moving towards her himself, she realizes, although she doubts it is under his own power. When she turns the corner, firing as much from instinct as intent and downing the guard on his right, his face is a mixture of relief and guilt, and he turns away from her quickly, slamming his bound hands into the other guard's midriff then dropping to the ground when she calls out.
"Thanks," he says, letting her help him to his feet and watching as she pulls out her knife to cut the rope around his wrist. "Teyla-"
"Ronon and Rodney will need our help," she says quickly, sheathing her knife and handing him her sidearm. "We should hurry."
He says nothing else as they fight their way off the ship, barely flinching when Rodney tells him to get a dart and get us the hell out of here. John's face does not change, but she feels the shift in his mood, a flare of anger cutting through his strong discomfort. It is mingled with something else, something she cannot identify, then there is no time to think about it, because the dart is swooping towards them and the beam is cutting towards them and there is a brief, wonderful moment of peace before they are whole again and running for the Stargate.
John sits on the next bed in the infirmary, submitting to the examination with his usual impatience. Teyla lays back against the pillows, feeling the residual tingling of the Wraith-fire that fuelled her on the Hive. She is tired, unsettled deep in her soul and she closes her eyes, trying to find her center again. Beside her, she hears the doctor give John the all-clear, then the bed squeaks, just a little. There is silence for a moment, and Teyla keeps her eyes closed, her breathing steady. For the briefest of moments, something flickers against her senses, not quite a touch, but more than just the trembling of her own mind. Then the feeling is gone, and she hears John's footsteps leaving the infirmary.
Once he is gone, the tension in Teyla's mind eases, and she slips into restless sleep.
John is so angry Teyla can almost taste it, a fire in his mind and belly, although he keeps his face to a blank mask. She knows now that she did not imagine all the phantom sensations, and she will have to say something when they return to Atlantis. In the days following Rodney's disappearance, he haunted the halls of Atlantis like a baleful ghost, and now they are at the location Cowan supplied for them, he circles the camp like a hunting animal that has just the barest scent of its prey. Just enough to drive it insane.
She and Ronon have kept control of their own fears, knowing that they need to be John's balance, to think where he would simply rush in. So they are caught unawares by his sudden decision to act, scrambling along beside the Marines, all of them trusting John's instincts to guide them. As they cut unerringly through the dense forest, Ronon keeps glancing at her, his face suspicious and questioning. Teyla ignores him, concentrating on keeping her own mind clear and not getting caught up in John's frantic anger and seek and need, the emotions so strong that she doesn't know how he stands them.
She is caught by surprise again inside the facility, when John swings himself into the elevator shaft, fingers clinging to the walls in a way that is shockingly familiar and completely alien. Ronon grabs him before he can descend.
"You've been holding out on us." When John nods, face blank but eyes wary, Ronon shakes his head. "Stupid. Don't get yourself killed."
Teyla can feel as much as see John's relief as he says, "You too." Then he is gone, and she and Ronon are left looking at each other in the dark of the factory.
"Did you know?" Ronon asks, not accusing. Not yet.
She shakes her head slowly. "Not exactly." There is more she wants to say, to explain, but just as she opens her mouth, she is almost overwhelmed by an emotional shockwave, which is closely followed by the sound of gunshots.
Ronon gives an exasperated sigh. "Tell me later. We gotta go."
There are rickety steps at the other end of the building, and they take them two at a time, trying to get down in time to be of some help. The bottom is actually in sight when Teyla gasps and half-stumbles, feeling Ronon grab her arm and all-but lift her down the last few flights of stairs.
"What is it?" he asks, and she shakes her head, not daring to look up at him. The stab of desire is so strong that she can't hide it, and she knows he will see it in her eyes. It is the same heat that almost overwhelmed her on the Hive ship, but stronger this time, fiercer and unrestrained. When Ronon puts a hand on her waist to steady her, it almost unbalances her, so powerful is the flood of feeling, every nerve singing with wantneedtake. He moves closer, and she presses her face to his arm, his skin cool against her flushed forehead.
"Teyla?" Ronon's voice is a deep rumble, gentle and soothing and for a moment she is grounded, her mind unclouded for the briefest instant, then the fire sweeps over her again, and she clutches at him, the frantic need to feel swamping everything else.
He is still holding her when the fire recedes, leaving her shaking against him, drained and weak. But she is calm now, in control of her own mind, and she takes a step backwards, trying to think of some kind of explanation. When she looks up at Ronon, he raises an eyebrow at her and just says, "Later. Come on."
They find Rodney and John a little way ahead, clinging to each other and struggling along the hallway. Ronon takes one look at them, then glances at Teyla, his eyes amused and knowing. If he notices, John gives nothing away, just handing Rodney over despite his protests. Lifting him easily, Ronon leads the way down the corridor, and John falls into step beside Teyla.
"Everything alright?" he says, and she wonders if she looks as he does, as Rodney does, with wide eyes and an unmistakable sated expression. She runs a hand over her forehead as she smiles, not surprised to find it damp, and not just from the running.
But she is able to smile now; the contentment and satisfaction and rightness rolling off John make it impossible not to. "I am fine, John," she says, reaching out to grip his arm. "We are all fine."
"Yes," he says, turning to where Ronon is starting to carry a complaining Rodney up the stairs. "I guess we are."
The same contented look is on John's face a few days later when he meets her in the gym.
"Been a while," he says, leaning against the doorway and watching her move slowly through her warm-up.
"Indeed it has." She waits until the sequence is completed before stopping and turning to him properly. He looks relaxed and happy for the first time in a long time, and it is so good to see. "How do you feel?"
"You tell me."
There is something of a challenge in his voice, and she drops her eyes for a moment, trying to untangle her own pleasure-relief-joy from his before looking up at him. "I think you are much better. As is Rodney."
He actually blushes. It suits him. "Yeah. Look, about that-"
"Please, John." She holds up a hand, suppressing her smile as best she can. "I do not think I need to know more than I already do."
He holds her gaze for a long moment, and she can feel his mixture of surprise and embarrassment, overlaid with something that she has not felt from him before. Something gentle and light, warmth and comfort so strong against her mind that her soul rises to meet it. She thinks it might be happiness.
After another minute, he nods. "Okay then." Glancing round the room, he spots the sticks that she brought for him to use. "You wanna…"
"Yes, John." She gestures for him to join her. "I would like that very much."
There is just the slightest hesitation before he pushes himself off the doorframe. "You know that I'm…different. Now. I don't want to hurt you."
Teyla cannot help it, any more than she can help the smile breaking through on her face. After everything, it is good to be able to tease him, just a little. She tilts her head. "I appreciate your concern, but you are assuming that you will be given the chance to hurt me."
John's laughter is the best thing she has heard in a long time. Her friend has returned to her, and yes, he is different, but now she also knows that he is the same. And she is finally able to laugh with him.