John hardly notices that he forgets to cover his back in a firefight anymore.
The air is full of smoke, sweat, and the iron-tang of blood. His P-90 sweeps the arc before him, but he can hear the steady chatter of her gun behind.
Teyla wastes neither bullets, nor words. "Follow me."
He steps over two dead men who came parlaying with words of peace and dart guns. Teyla recognised their intent before they could shoot their darts, and it pretty much went downhill from there. Then it's down the ridge at a mad scramble, headed for the cover of the scrub and trees in the valley below.
John's flown over all kinds of terrain; down on the ground is a different matter. "Do you know where we're going?"
"The cover is better in the valley," she says as they slip and slide across the loose, reddish soil of the hills. "There is no protection on the ridge."
"The 'jumper is on the ridge," he reminds her. A muscle twinges, an unexpected ache from an unexpected move. "And that's our ticket home."
"Which is why they will expect us to remain on the ridge."
They make it to the cover of the trees, where the earth has shelter from the too-large, too-bright sun and moist clay sticks to their boots. A few yards in, the leaf canopy covers them from any pursuit and they stop.
John stops, taking a deep breath of air redolent with the heaviness of clay and the sharp tang of eucalyptus oil, and stares up at the ground they just covered - a steep slope running some three hundred yards up - and the valley becomes deeper the further in they go.
Teyla glances back, dark eyes limpid. "Will you be capable of climbing up to the ridge again, Colonel?"
He squares his shoulders, stretching his muscles, cricking his joints. "Yeah. I will."
She turns to face him, smiling. "You will have help if you need it."
John doesn't quite smile back. She's become a habit to him, ubiquitous as the earth beneath his feet. Sometimes that worries him - more than he likes to think about. "I know."
He hardly notices when he covers her as they retreat into the valley.
- fin -