Disclaimer – I don't own anything to do with the Stargate franchise.
This is my first Atlantis fic, so feedback would be appreciated.
Elizabeth looked up at the sound of a knock on her door. It was Colonel Sheppard.
She smiled brightly at him as he entered and sat down in one of the chairs in front of her desk. "Just wanted to let you know that we're back and in one piece," he said.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. "You were only on the mainland, John," she said. "I'd expect as much."
John shrugged. "Well, you never know with Rodney," he said. Elizabeth smiled ruefully.
"How was the mainland?" Elizabeth asked him. "Did anything interesting happen?"
John shook his head. "No – well… it's not interesting, but Rodney will probably tell you about it and he'll probably make a big deal out of it so if I tell you now –"
"What? What happened?" Elizabeth sat up, intrigued. Whatever it was, John was obviously quite embarrassed about it.
"I may have inadvertently proposed marriage to Teyla."
Elizabeth tried not to, but she couldn't help it. She started to laugh and John gave her a withering look, which only made it seem funnier. After a few seconds she asked, "I take it you held her hand in front of the village elders?"
John looked annoyed. "You knew about this stupid tradition?"
Elizabeth stopped laughing, but she knew she was smirking. "It's no more stupid than a man getting down on one knee when proposing on Earth," she said reasonably.
John rolled his eyes. "Whatever," he said. "How do you know about it?"
"The last time I was on the mainland with Teyla when one of the Athosians proposed, so Teyla explained the ritual to me," Elizabeth replied. "So, why did you hold her hand?"
"They had this huge bear thing tied up on the edge of the village – something to do with a festival at the end of the week or something – and we were standing there talking to the village elders when it sort of lunged towards Teyla and I grabbed her hand to pull her back," John explained. "I couldn't see it was tied up – it wouldn't have got her. And I guess I forgot to let go, and…"
Elizabeth smiled. "What did Teyla do?"
"Grabbed her hand back and explained to the elders that I didn't know their customs and didn't know what I was doing."
"Was that all?"
"I'm just… surprised they let it go so easily."
John shrugged. "Well, Teyla was right – I didn't know what I was doing."
Elizabeth nodded. "Of course not," she said.
John stood up. "Rodney and Ronon found it hilarious, though, and it'll probably be all around the city within hours," he said.
"Oh, without a doubt," agreed Elizabeth.
John rolled his eyes. "Well, Zalenka wanted my help in the chair room," he said.
Elizabeth nodded, smiling. "Sure, thanks for checking in," she said. "I'll see you later."
John waved as he left the office. Elizabeth sat back in her chair and watched him go.
Elizabeth didn't find a chance to talk to Teyla until the next day at lunchtime. She put her tray down and sat opposite her in the mess. Teyla smiled warmly at her.
"Hello Elizabeth," she said. "How are you?"
Elizabeth smiled back. "Fine thanks," she said. "John told me about what happened yesterday." There was no point beating around the bush.
Teyla rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "I think perhaps I should compile a list of Athosian traditions for Atlantis personnel, to avoid situations like that," she said.
Elizabeth nodded. "That may be a good idea." She sat back in her chair and raised an eyebrow at her friend. "You didn't refuse him," she said.
Teyla's smile vanished and she looked slightly uncomfortable. "He… he wasn't really asking," she said.
"I know," replied Elizabeth. "But to the elders it would have seemed like he was, and they probably would have been more comfortable if you had refused him formally."
Teyla was looking even more uncomfortable now. "They were perfectly happy with the explanation I gave them – they know that he is not acquainted with our traditions," she said.
Elizabeth nodded and carefully opened her sandwich pack. "I thought," she said casually, after a moment, "that maybe you hadn't refused him because if he then asks at some other time, you wouldn't be able to say yes."
She looked back up at Teyla, who was looking very flushed. Elizabeth shrugged. "That is the rule, isn't it?" She asked. "This way you leave it open."
Teyla shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "He wasn't actually asking, Elizabeth," she repeated.
"And it's not as though I ever expect …"
"We are not – he is my …"
Teyla covered her face with her hands. Elizabeth heard her groan slightly, and then her hands dropped and she looked her normal composed self.
"I have to go," she said.
Elizabeth smiled kindly at her. "I know," she said one last time.
Teyla returned the smile, shook her head and stood up.
"Teyla, if you ever want to talk about –"
The two friends smiled at one another and Teyla bowed her head slightly before walking away. Elizabeth watched her go.