Title: The Food of Love
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: She is bent over the finely crafted shape of a cello, arms poised in elegant if hesitant motion, the pale arch of her neck distracting in its vulnerability. 900 words.
Spoilers: Stargate SG-1 10.20 "Unending"
Notes: For MaeveBran, who once requested a drabble on the theme "Sam/Teal'c, how their relationship developed into a romance during Unending." Title from Shakespeare.
Teal'c pauses outside the engine room of the Odyssey, drawn by the strange, measured sounds issuing from within. They are musical in nature, bringing to mind a stringed instrument; something with which he had not been familiar before encountering the Tau'ri, but which he has heard many times since. But the tones are of clipped length, ranging upward incrementally from a low start, as though-
As though its player had not previously been familiar with the instrument.
He clenches his jaw, considering the implications, then bows his head in acknowledgment. Colonel Carter is convinced, then, that their imprisonment here will not be of brief duration. He cannot imagine her seeking such distraction from her work with the Asgard computer core otherwise, any more than she had rested during the months Colonel O'Neill had been trapped on Edora when it had been necessary to construct a particle generator to effect his rescue. She and Daniel Jackson are much alike in that regard: given a vital problem that requires only a little more time and effort, they would rather consume every available moment in its pursuit than break for any purpose unrelated to that goal.
A pang of loss seizes him. Teal'c thinks of R'yac, of Bra'tac, of Ishta, of his brother warriors both human and Jaffa, and of O'Neill- his friend, and more than friend to Colonel Carter. It has been apparent since the end of their second week in the time dilation field that reuniting with those left behind is now a distant possibility, at best. But this relaxing of Colonel Carter's work ethic, no matter how small or well deserved, is a step toward acknowledging that fate that she had so far seemed unwilling to take.
He recalls another time when she had bowed her head in defeat- a locker room four years before, when both Daniel Jackson and Colonel O'Neill had been stolen beyond their reach- and the warmth of her in his arms as she allowed herself to lay down her burdens for a brief moment. The similarity to this situation had not previously occurred to him; SG-1 and General Landry have all drawn apart in their coping methods, and the responsibility for their salvation has fallen squarely on her shoulders.
She does not notice him as he steps slowly into the room. She is bent over the finely crafted shape of a cello, arms poised in elegant if hesitant motion, the pale arch of her neck distracting in its vulnerability. Teal'c takes a moment to observe, admiring the power and beauty in her form as he seldom allows himself to do, then moves closer, hands clasped at his back as he waits for her attention.
Colonel Carter bites her lip, striving for a difficult note; then she startles, face lifting toward his like one of General Landry's plants turning its leaves to the light. Her smile is wan with care, but as genuine as ever. "Teal'c! I didn't see you there. I'm sorry; I know I should be working with the core, but..."
"I am pleased to see you taking a moment for respite," he replies smoothly, returning smile for smile. "You have been hard at work these many days, and without rest even the strongest will falter."
She sighs, smile slipping a little as the weight of their situation returns. "I know, but it's been so long already, and all Thor will tell me, no matter how far out of the box I try to think, is 'That function is not possible'. I'm starting to sympathize with Cam's urge to just do something and get it over with."
"You are 'doing something'," he assures her, nodding to the instrument clasped in her arms, its polished wood a warm islet in the functional sterility of the room. "A worthy pursuit. I, too, once wished to learn a musical instrument; but my duties as First Prime did not allow for that luxury."
His words have not assuaged all of her guilt, he sees; but curiosity has stirred in her as well. "I didn't know that," she says. "What instrument? Does it have a counterpart on Earth?"
"The nearest Tau'ri equivalent is an argh?l; a woodwind instrument similar to a double clarinet," he replies. He had been briefly fascinated with them in his youth- though not as much as his words suggest, for he could easily have sought one during his years on Earth and did not. But he would give much to watch her expression as they make music together: engrossed in passionate effort, building up the emotional strength their impossible situation has already done much to wear down. "If the matter converters contain such a template, I would gladly explore its use with you."
"You'd really want to take music lessons with me?" she asks, bemused.
This is not so significant a moment, in the long history of their acquaintance; no more so than the step toward accepting their situation represented by the cello itself. But Teal'c cannot help but feel it as a similar upheaval in the fabric of reality: new possibilities unfolding that had not, before.
They will never forget what they have left behind- but they must also live.
"Undomesticated equines could not prevent me, Samantha," he answers softly, consciously using the familiarity of her forename for the first time.
Her eyes brighten, lit from within by a subdued but very welcome joy.