Title: Comfort Food
Spoilers: Critical Mass
Disclaimers:The characters, Atlantis, etc, all belong to MGM, Gecko, Showtime, the Sci-Fi Channel.
Summary: Weir decides to introduce Teyla to her favorite 'comfort food'.
Major Characters: Elizabeth and Teyla
Acknowledgements: Thank you to NT for the beta and the encouragement to go ahead and post something different from the stuff I usually write—not to mention putting up with my inability to learn how to use a comma. (All mistakes are mine)
A/N: this is a short one-shot piece. I don't normally focus on these two but I think they deserve some attention now and then. Hopefully I did okay keeping them in character.
Feedback: Yes! Please.
Elizabeth scanned the reports on her desk and blew out a long slow sigh. It was hard to believe the words on the pages in front of her,and yet she had been there herself. She'd watched the Gao'uld take over Colonel Caldwell, had seen his eyes change and heard his voice deepen. She shivered, the memory still shocking even after a full week had passed. She knew that Caldwell was well on his way to being okay now but her relief in that knowledge was dampened by the heavy weariness that swamped her. She needed a break.
Stacking the reports together,she was stuffing them into a file folder when she caught a shadow of movement and looked up. Teyla hovered in her office doorway.
Elizabeth smiled. "Teyla, come in." She motioned as she pushed the file aside.
"Dr. Weir." Teyla nodded. "I do not wish to interrupt you."
"I'm done. Please…."
Teyla entered and settled in the Chair across from Weir's desk, almost timidly, a trait Elizabeth was unused to seeing in the Athosian. She had read Carson's report about the elder Athosian, Charin, dying and Teyla's reaction to the loss, and she had approved Teyla's request to spend the last week on the mainland with her people. Now, she wondered how the younger woman was dealing with everything.
"I just wanted to let you know that I have returned to the city," Teyla explained. "And to thank you for understanding my need to stay with my people for a time."
"Of course." Elizabeth leaned forward, resting her arms on the desk and folding her hands together. "You are more than welcome to take more time if you need it."
Teyla met her gaze. "I am fine."
"Carson told me about what happened." Elizabeth said. "Charin must have been a very important part of your life."
A look of sorrow flitted across Teyla's face before she nodded. "I can not imagine my life without her." Sadness settled in the Athosian's eyes. "She was all that I had left," she admitted quietly.
"You have your people," Elizabeth reminded. "And us."
Teyla's eyes filled with tears. "You sound just like her." She blinked, bringing her emotions under control again. "That is what she tried to tell me before she passed."
"Then Charin must have been a very wise woman," Elizabeth teased gently, hoping herhumor would not offend Teyla.
Teyla smiled and chuckled softly in response. "Yes. She would have liked you." She grew serious again. "And you are both correct.I know that, but it just feels so.." She seemed to search for the right word.
"Empty?" Elizabeth offered. "Here." She placed her hand over her own heart. "You miss her."
"Yes." Teyla looked down. "I did not visit her as often as I should have, and now," she twisted her hands in her lap. "I can never visit her again."
Elizabeth let the silence sit between them for only a moment. "Tell me about her."
Teyla took a deep breath. "Charin took me in after my father was taken by the Wraith." Her voice grew wistful as she began to tell Weir about the older woman.
Leaning back in her chair, Elizabeth listened. She didn't know why Teyla had sought her out, other than to inform her of her return,but she was thankful that their friendship had evolved enough that the Athosian was willing to open up to her about such personal matters. She smiled and interjected comments here and there as Teyla told tales from her youth, all making it obvious what an important influence Charin had been in teaching Teyla how to lead her people.
It was a relief to see some of the tension ease from Teyla's shoulders and Elizabeth felt herself beginning to relax as well.
She laughed as Teyla shared about how she had escorted Carson to check on Charin,and the elder's honest comments about her cooking abilities.
"I will certainly miss Charin's tuttle root soup," Teyla said again, sighing. "It was my favorite and she always had some ready to cheer me when I was sad or weary.
"Comfort food," Elizabeth said knowingly.
Teyla thought for a moment. "Yes, it always did comfort me."
Suddenly, Elizabeth grinned and pushed away from her desk. "I have an idea," she announced.
"What?" Teyla looked startled. "I should leave you to your work. I have taken too much of your time already."
"Nonsense." Elizabeth argued. "I needed a break anyway. Come with me," she said, slipping her radio off and leaving it on her desk as Teyla stood.
"I am going to introduce you to my favorite comfort food."
"Is it macaroni and cheese?" Teyla pronounced the word macaroni slowly, trying to get it correct.
Weir laughed. "No," she shook her head. "That is John's favorite," shesaid. "Though I'm all for a good dish of mac and cheese—this is different."
Elizabeth was relieved when they made it to the mess hall and found it deserted. She led Teyla back into the kitchen area where a dark haired woman greeted them with a friendly smile, her hands covered in flour as she kneaded bread dough. A few of the busy staff looked at them curiously but no one questioned their presence.
"I have never been back here before," Teyla whispered.
Elizabeth grinned. "Sometimes it'sgood to be expedition leader."
"Dr. Weir." The dark haired woman set aside the dough and quickly rinsed her hands at the sink. "What can we get you?"
"Good afternoon, Gloria." Weir looked around. "I'm just going to introduce Teyla to my favorite vice."
Gloria chuckled knowingly. "You know where everything is. Fresh eggs came in from off world yesterday," she informed. "Just don't make yourself sick."
"We won't." Elizabeth took the warning in stride though Teyla raised her eyebrows wonderingly. She watched with open curiosity as Elizabeth began to gather her ingredients.
"You have done this before," she commented.
Elizabeth winked slyly. "You have to promise not to tell now." She giggled, feeling a bit giddy. "Can't let my secret get out. Hand me that please." She motioned to a large mixing bowl on the shelf near Teyla's head.
The Athosian easily reached for the bowl and handed it to Weir. "This reminds me of helping Charin," she admitted. "What is that?"
"Brown sugar." Elizabeth grabbed the measuring cups she needed and paused, mentally checking off the ingredients in her head. "Okay. Now. We're ready. I'll point and you hand me stuff and tell me more about this tuttle soup."
They worked well together, Elizabeth listening andexplaining ingredients whenever Teyla asked. "It's called vanilla extract. This kind is just a flavored imitation; we ran out of the real stuff. It comes from a bean back on earth."
In minutes Weir had mixed up the various ingredients into one big sticky mass. "Now, for the most important ingredient." She went to the kitchen's large freezer and began to dig around in itsdepths. "I have to hide these well." She drew out a small bag, smiling broadly as it crinkled noisily in her hands. "Chocolate chips." She tore the edge and dumped the dark morsels on top of the dough. "Stir them in," she ordered.
Teyla stirred the mixture, and odd look on her face. "I have tried your chocolate but I have never seen these."
Elizabeth chuckled. "That's because I always hide them. Can't make chocolate chip cookie dough without them." She explained as she cleaned up the small mess they had made. "Always. Always clean up or Gloria will never let you back in here again." She warned with amusement.
"Got it, but I thought cookies came in a roll of dough?" Teyla tapped the large plastic spoon on the side of the bowl. "The cookie dough is mixed, however I can not get it all off of the spoon."
"Not a problem." Elizabeth took the spoon and handed Teyla two smaller ones instead. "They use packaged dough here to make cookies for our meals," she explained. "It's cheaper, easier and well…these ingredients are hard to find and keep fresh here in the Pegasus Galaxy." Using her finger, she scraped the remaining dough off the larger and popped it into her mouth. She rolled her eyes with delight. "Perfect." She nodded to Teyla. "Try some."
"Are we not suppose to bake this into cookies first?" Teyla questioned.
"Not this time."
She almost laughed at Teyla's leeryexpression, but the Athosian followed her lead, dipping oneof the spoons into the mix and trying a small bite of dough. No sooner than Teyla had the spoon in her mouth then her eyes widened with obvious pleasure.
Elizabeth did laugh this time. "Come on, let's go sit down and enjoy it."
"This is…" Teyla searched for a description as they found a small table in the corner of the cafeteria and sat down. The room was still empty, but Elizabeth didn't want to draw attention when people started filing in for dinner. "This is delicious, different from the cookies I have tried." Teyla dipped her spoon into the bowl again. "I have never tasted anything like it."
"Comforting?" Elizabeth asked, taking another bite for herself.
Teyla nodded emphatically, her smile finally reaching her eyes. "Yes."
Teyla swallowed. "You have lost someone close to you," she stated knowingly. "As Charin was to me."
Elizabeth paused, her spoon halfwayto her mouth again. "Yes, my grandfather," she admitted, still feeling a wave of grief after all this time.
"And you have moved past this loss?" Teyla asked softly.
"I will always feel his loss," Elizabethacknowledged. "Some days the feeling is stronger than on others, but when I think of my memories of him…I feel like he is with me, watching over me."
"As Charin now watches over me."
"Yes." Weir said. "And though this," she waved at the bowl between them. "Will never replace a good bowl of tuttle root soup…"
"It does help," Teyla finished.
"Elizabeth! There you are."
Weir frowned as Rodney's voice boomed through the mess hall. "We've been discovered," she whispered conspiratorially to Teyla.
"You didn't answer your radio and I've been looking all over for you. Have you been hiding from me?" McKay accused as he weaved his way through the tables, toward them. "I need you to read through this diagnostic and…" He stopped and stared, his normal scowl deepening. "Oh now that is just plain gross," he declared, making a disgusted face. "Sharing a bowl? Do you know how unsanitary that is? I mean really the germs alone…hey is that chocolate chip cookie dough?" he asked dipping his finger into the mix and scooping up a bite. "Hmmm." His eyes rolled heavenward.
Elizabeth and Teyla exchanged knowing smiles.
"Yes, Rodney, it is cookie dough," Weir answered.
"This is the real thing, too." McKay looked up and toward the kitchen, sniffing the air. "Not the lousy slice and bake stuff they usually make. Where'd you get this?" He reached for another finger full of dough.
"Maybe, if you were a little nicer to Gloria, she might be more inclined to help you out Rodney," Elizabeth said.
"I don't…" Rodney shook his head and licked his finger. "Know who you mean."
"I believe you call her the 'scary lunch lady'." Elizabeth tilted her head, indicating to Teyla that they leave.
Teyla took her cue and picked up the bowl.
"Oh her. What? I'm not mean to her." Rodney reached for the bowl again but Teyla moved it out of his reach. He scowled but didn't try again. "Where are the cookies?" he asked instead.
"There aren't any."
McKay's jaw dropped. "What?"
Together the women stood. Elizabeth patted Rodney's shoulder comfortingly. "No cookies, we just wanted the dough."
"You just wanted the dough?" he asked aghast. "Are you crazy? The dough?"
They left Rodney standing in the corner of the empty cafeteria ranting about illogical women and their ridiculous cravings.
Hearing Teyla's light and relaxed giggle, Elizabeth felt too content to bother being offended by the accusations. Instead, she reached for another scoop of cookie dough and smiled, savoring the taste.