Please see first chapter for disclaimer, rating, warnings, pairings, etc.

Part 17/17

-Epilogue-

She couldn't sleep.

Teyla rolled over onto her right side, squeezing her eyes shut, trying to coerce her body into allowing her rest. She didn't know why she couldn't sleep. The nightmares associated with her Wraith capture and subsequent transformation had stopped almost six months ago.

A tiny smile curled her lips; she buried her face in her pillow to smother a happy laugh as she remembered why the nightmares had stopped. Now she believed in happy endings, like that of Elizabeth's book. As a married woman, how could she not?

She swallowed back another giddy laugh and closed her eyes again. Sleep.

Teyla's mind wouldn't obey her command. Her brain was occupied with lines and shading; her fingers ached to draw. She had only pulled out her sketch pad a few times since she'd originally dug it out again; just enough enticement to encourage her into more drawing.

She gave up and slipped silently out of bed. It took her a moment to locate her book and pencils, then she opened the door to the balcony, slipping outside into the silver light of the moon. It washed Atlantis and the surrounding ocean in an ethereal glow, almost bright as a cloudy day.

Teyla settled herself against the wall next to the doors, her knees curled up to be a prop for her pad. She settled back against the wall, bit the end of her pencil a couple of times.

She began to draw.

Time faded into a surreal flow around and through her as she sketched. The light of the moon moved and slanted as it journeyed the sky; this did not cause any pause in Teyla's frantic rendering. Lines bent at her will. Dark and light warred for dominance of the page as she filled it with the image she wanted. The likeness on the page swirled to life as she portrayed the subject she could see in her mind's eye. In what seemed like no time at all, the basic outline began to take on definite characteristics. Even features that had evaded her before effortlessly flowed from her mind, down her arm, through her fingers into the pencil, then onto the page.

With extreme care she added shading, casting gentle lines of moonlight across the page to fall upon the sleeping face she loved so much. She erased a few lines indicative of stress and worry that were never there in sleep; she had allowed herself to sidetrack. With gentle yet definitive strokes she darkened the lines of the tattoo on his neck; paused and considered the image.

It was – missing something.

Teyla got to her knees and opened the door. She peeked inside, toward the bed, trying to be quiet. She needed this beautiful image just as it was, with nothing disturbed and nothing moved.

For a moment she caught herself up in her subject, eagerly drinking in the sight of which she'd never tire. Then she came back to herself and slipped away from the door again, allowing it to close. She felt all at once breathless and at peace.

She tackled her drawing with redoubled effort. Every few seconds she closed her eyes, recapturing the image that threatened to slip away. Her emotion-driven sketch became her world; every fiber of her being focused on that one existence. It suddenly seemed important to finish, to get everything inhumanly perfect. The reasoning for this thought floated just out of reach; she didn't feel like pursuing it.

Teyla's fingers began to cramp. She stopped just long enough to flex them a few times; went back to her work. Her pencil was the tool to capture life and confine it to the page – an act that seemed somehow wrong. How could she cage an enigma so full of energy and presence and being onto something so small and inconsequential?

The thought was roughly pushed away. She had to try.

No matter how hard she attempted to portray that image perfectly, it continued to evade her. Something was constantly wrong with her drawing. Not enough shadow here; too much there. The few curls of hair that brushed his forehead were all wrong; there were too many lines around his eyes. The beard that ringed his mouth was out-of-proportion –slightly askew to the shape of his lips.

Frustration boiled up inside her. Hours had passed without her noticing; the first brushes of dawn were manifesting themselves in a rosy glow on the horizon. The ocean never ceased its slap-slap against the pier below her; the sounds of the city combined in a long bass hum in accompaniment. Everything was normal; everything was right. How could her drawing not be the same?

Tears pressed against her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. She quickly shifted her work so the salty drops wouldn't smear those infuriatingly imperfect lines. She was being sentimental and stupid. Nothing was perfect. Nobody was perfect.

Except, maybe, him. . .

Warm roughness smoothed across her cheeks, banishing her tears; her sketch pad was gently lifted away; set aside. Teyla willingly leaned into the presence that was suddenly just there. She drew strength from him as he lifted her effortlessly and carried her exhausted form back to their bed.

She buried her face in his neck and closed her scratchy eyes. She had to swallow thickly twice before she could speak. "Ronon, why must you be so perfect?"

Her husband's lashes fluttered in surprise against her temple. "What?" His voice rumbled through his chest and vibrated her a little.

She clung tighter to him. "I can draw anything. Why not you?"

A small, sad smile curled Ronon's lips. "Perhaps you're trying to draw me someway I'm not. I'm not perfect – far from it." He absently soothed a loose lock of hair off her face; pressed his lips against her ear. "Sleep," he whispered tenderly. "Just close your eyes and sleep."

Ronon's voice was low and hypnotizing. Teyla felt her eyelids immediately respond, heavily lowering to block her vision. "Got to finish—" Her fatigued mind groped for the words required to finish her sentence; the darkness pulled them away from her. She was still trying to search them out when the world slipped away, too.

It might have been Ronon's voice; his words; or a dream. Teyla was sure she would never know exactly what it was. When she woke to the radiant Atlantian sunlight on Ronon's face, relaxed in sleep, she knew what the drawing was missing.

She carefully extracted herself from her husband's embrace and slipped back out to the balcony. She picked up her sketch pad and pencil; closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. Then she opened her heart and soul along with her eyes and drew three small, careworn lines across his brow – perfection in his pain.

In the bottom right-hand corner, she swiftly wrote: Ronon Dex: Perfection; signed Teyla Dex beneath it. A hush wrapped around her as she reverently stared at her drawing in the early morning sunlight.

Teyla went back inside. She closed her book and returned it to the top shelf of her closet with her pencil. Then she returned to her husband, his protection, and his love.

—At last, she slept.

-The End-