Title: That Which Holds Promise
Author: Caitrin Torres
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Teyla hummed happily as she wandered through the village. The lullaby, a favorite of hers from childhood, was fitting for the day. A new baby was always a welcome blessing, but for Amala to have given birth to such a beautiful daughter after twice losing her baby from her womb was especially wonderful. She checked her watch and glanced at the sun, then touched her earpiece. "Major Lorne, do you still plan to return to Atlantis on schedule?"
"Hold on a second," he said. She heard the click of another channel being opened. "Parrish, how much longer are you going to be?"
After a moment, Parrish responded. "I can leave now if we absolutely have to, but I'd rather to stay until I've finished these observations. I could have been done hours ago if the geologists had been a little more careful with my cameras when they were here last week."
Lorne let out a long-suffering sigh. "We know. You've mentioned that more than once today. How much longer?"
"Three hours? Maybe four?"
"Four hours work for you, Teyla?" Lorne asked.
Four hours would keep them in the village until after the evening meal. "That will be fine, Major."
After she secured dinner invitations for them all, Teyla's walk took her out into the fields. The chatter of a group of children carried on the breeze, and she found them clustered around a narrow ditch at the edge of the trees. When she saw Jinto kneeling at the edge with an arm extended, Teyla ran towards them, concerned that one of the young ones might be stuck. The flash of red hair she spotted as she approached did much to explain what had actually happened.
A young girl stood slightly apart from the group with a very guilty expression on her face. "Nevi," Teyla asked her, "can you tell me why Lieutenant Cadman is in the ditch?"
The girl clearly wasn't sure what to say until Laura came to her rescue. "Dr. Parrish decided he'd rather do his own heavy lifting. These guys roped me into a game of touch football."
A boy interrupted her. "Colonel Sheppard has been teaching us!"
"Of that, I have no doubt," Teyla said. The most recent set of requisitions from Earth had included several of the balls as well as a pump to keep them properly inflated. He had been extremely pleased when they arrived. Stoked, Elizabeth had said.
Laura, who had finally managed to find her footing, tossed the ball at one of the boys as she continued. "Right, so Wex threw a long one. I moved to intercept, but I wasn't looking where I was going and Nevi did a great job of blocking me. I went down hard and missed the pass, and then I fell in while I was trying to fish the ball out. The Colonel's going to be very proud of her when he hears."
Teyla raised an eyebrow at all that she was surely leaving out of the explanation. As she knelt at the edge of the ditch next to Jinto to offer Laura help in crawling out, Nevi ran up behind her. "Right, Teyla, like that!" she crowed. "And then I tripped like this!"
Teyla went skidding forward. The other children backed away in shock as Teyla and Laura tried to untangle themselves in the ditch without losing their balance or falling further into the mud. Nevi's eyes widened in horror when she realized what she'd done.
Teyla took a deep breath to calm herself. "Nevi," she said evenly, "you will run and ask your aunt if Lieutenant Cadman and I may each borrow a set of clothing. If she has nothing suitable, you will ask Metai's mother. Bring them to us by the river, please." She gave Jinto and the other boys a piercing look. "The rest of you will be wise if you choose not to follow us."
The children scattered, leaving Nevi behind. "I'm sorry, Teyla," she said, eyes to the ground.
Teyla smiled to reassure her. "I know."
She shyly looked up at Laura. "Don't worry about it, kiddo," Laura said. "You didn't mean to push me in."
Nevi blushed and ran off.
When she was gone, they extracted themselves from the ditch. It was a much simpler progress with both of them already muddy. Laura boosted Teyla up, and then Teyla braced herself on the ground and pulled Laura out. In the end, they looked no different than they had when they started. Laura collected her vest from where she'd tossed it before the game, but before they could start toward the water, she stopped Teyla with a puzzled look. "Teyla, I'm supposed to be here next week to help blast some water channels, but I thought we were going to be supplementing what you already had."
Teyla correctly guessed at what she hadn't wanted to ask. "If you would like to demonstrate to the entire village that we were overcome by a child of eight years, the bathing facilities there are somewhat closer."
Laura grinned ruefully. "You have a point there. Lead on."
The river was shallow and wide, and the lazy currents made it perfect for swimming. They sat on the bank and cleaned the mud from their boots while they waited for Nevi to return. More than once, Teyla noticed Laura studying her with little looks and sideways glances. She felt her cheeks warm with the knowledge and and did not bother to stop herself from studying Laura in turn. That, far more than the idea of Laura's attentions, made her nervous.
"I believe you have an admirer in Nevi," she said to break the silence.
Laura shrugged easily. "Kids like me. At home, I'm the cool aunt."
"Do you have many nieces or nephews?" Teyla asked curiously.
"Tons. I'm the youngest of four, and all three of my brothers are married now. When we're all together, there are seven little kids under the age of ten. It's probably more by now," she said, suddenly wistful. "My sister-in-law was due last week. They're all great kids."
"You must miss them very much."
Teyla could hear the forced lightness in Laura's voice when she answered. "I knew what I was getting into when I signed on for this tour. I'll see them again soon enough. But yeah... they're the closest I'll probably get to kids of my own, so they're pretty special."
"You do not wish to have children?"
"Hah. No. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I'm not exactly the type to find a guy and settle down."
There were many ways to interpret that, and before Teyla could decide how best to respond, Nevi came running up with Metai in tow. "We ran as fast as we could," Nevi said, breathing heavily. "Auntie says that I should apologize to you again, but I told her that I did already and that I didn't mean-"
Teyla held up a hand, and she trailed off. "You are correct, and it is forgiven. You have no need to worry."
Nevi sighed in dramatic relief, and Metai piped up beside her. "Mother says she's happy you asked to borrow her clothes. She says that it will be good to see you both in something other than your uniforms and that she would have liked to send skirts. She thinks it would look bad if your boots were showing because they're awful, so she sent pants instead. I like your boots, though. They rock."
"The mouths of babes..." Laura muttered.
Teyla had to fight to suppress her own smile. "Please tell your mother thank you, Metai, and that we appreciate her efforts."
The girls ran off. Teyla shook her head in bemusement. "Her mother is overly concerned with appearances," she said by way of explanation. "And I believe that Colonel Sheppard may have spent too much time with the children. I am certain she does not know what that phrase means."
Laura moved several yards downstream to give them each some privacy as they stripped down and waded in to wash away the quickly drying mud. Teyla watched her covertly as she scrubbed at her hair. Her coloring was very much like Sora's with her beautiful hair and pale skin and freckles across her shoulders, Teyla realized suddenly. The thought was startling. She had not allowed herself to think of Sora in many months, and the pain she had felt in the past was nearly gone.
A quickly stifled scream floated upstream. Teyla immediately pulled herself out her thoughts as she focused her full attention on Laura. "Lieutenant Cadman?"
"Never mind! It was just a fish," she called back to her. "I guess I'm more used to swimming pools."
It was then that Teyla decided she liked her laugh. Laura was sometimes brash and bold. She could be playful, insightful, and open. She was attractive; Teyla could easily admit that. Her differences were most intriguing. Tempting, in truth. Alluring.
The water was chilly, and they hurried to finish and get out of the water. When she was dressed, Laura turned to Teyla with a amused look on her face.
"There's a funny thing about having three older brothers... I learned young that if I wanted to keep a leg up on them, I had to know when they were coming. I'm very, very good at knowing when someone is watching me." She pulled Teyla in with a hand on her shoulder and and captured her mouth in a soft, teasing kiss. "Think about that. Meanwhile, you can call me Laura."
Teyla was not used to being shy, but it was precisely how she felt as Laura pulled away to meet her eyes. She took Laura's hands before she could move away completely. "I would like that."
They did not drop their hands until they were nearly home.
They returned to the village at dusk. Major Lorne looked twice when he saw them, but he wisely did not comment on their wet hair or the bundles of muddy clothing they carried. The children quickly pulled Laura into their games again and Teyla watched her, conflicted, as she went off to join them. The firelight made her hair glow in approaching darkness, and the contrasts of pale skin and deep brown cloth, military utility and casual frivolity, were at once disturbing and enticing. A year ago, she had hoped to find allies in Atlantis. She found them, and friends as well, but never had she considered that one could become more.
Laura caught her eye and smiled brightly as Nevi pulled her around a corner. Perhaps it was time for something new.