Happy new year everybody! Welcome to 2012... ;-) Here's an incredibly schmoopy story that I couldn't help but write but kind of hate myself for because it is so very cliched. The song featured is 'Higher Window' by Josh Groban which is one of my favourite songs, and something that reminds me of John and Teyla every time I hear it.
Anyway, enjoy, and as always I own nothing.
John hated New Year's Eve.
He wasn't exactly one for holidays in general, but nothing was such an inevitable let down as New Year's Eve. There was so much pressure to have an amazing night out, to make merry and ring in the new year in style… and of course to have someone to kiss at midnight.
It was an added annoyance to New Year's Eve – at least with the other holidays you could spend them with friends and family in a group and enjoy them completely… yes, technically the same was true for New Year's Eve, but in the back of everyone's mind there was always that desire to be coupled off by midnight. And so the night generally ended up being a depressing bust. At least for John, anyway.
Though he had to say that this party had the potential to be better than most New Year's Eve bashes he'd been to. With the future of Atlantis so uncertain, the personnel in the city had developed a kind of nostalgic protectiveness that had resulted in this massive party on the East Pier. Practically everyone who had ever worked on Atlantis was here, as well as most of the other people with high enough security clearance, including most of the SGC. Plenty of IOA representatives and their staff were in attendance, and John had spotted at least three senators. There were huge heat lamps dotted around the pier, and multi-coloured lights and lanterns were strung up between them. There was a dance floor, an open bar, and small round tables with coloured lamps on them. Lorne was organising a massive barbecue to one side of the pier that was serving some of the best ribs John had ever had.
It was nice, everyone was having fun – John included – but it was getting later and the old annoyances of New Year's Eve were creeping back. Everyone was pairing up – Jennifer was making Rodney dance with her, something he was surprisingly not as awful as you would think at, Carson and Cadman were in deep conversation at one of the tables, Radek was flirting with a scientist from the SGC, Dr Monroe was 'helping' Lorne with the barbecue, and Ronon and Amelia had disappeared ages ago. Even Woolsey was currently having a drink with an IOA acquaintance of his.
It made John feel totally pathetic and more than a little guilty, but he had to admit that the fact that his closest friends were all paired up just made him feel like a complete loner on a night like tonight. More pathetic than anything else, though, because he knew his loner status was all of his own making. There were plenty of women here tonight who had been sending him pretty obvious signals the entire evening, but John ignored every single one of them because, even after all this time, there was only one woman he was interested in.
The ultra-pathetic thing was that she was single as well.
John hadn't missed the significant look Ronon had given him when Teyla made her little announcement over lunch one day, or the dozens of other looks he'd sent his way whenever he had the opportunity. He hadn't missed them, he was just ignoring them. He didn't need Ronon looking at him to let him know that now was the time for him to make his move. Teyla and Kanaan had officially ended their relationship a week before Atlantis had made its flight back to earth – so not only was Teyla single, her ex was in another galaxy. You didn't get much more closure than that.
And yet John didn't make a move. He didn't try to deny that he wanted to, or even think that his advances wouldn't be welcome… the truth was he was just plain scared of taking that step with Teyla. He cared about her too much to start something he couldn't finish, and he knew from experience just how terrible he was at relationships. Teyla was probably the most important person in his life, and the thought of hurting her or ruining their friendship was unbearable to John.
But so was the thought of her with someone else. The whole time she'd been with Kanaan had been like a kind of sadistic torture to John. How much worse would it be when she started seeing someone else, knowing that he'd let his chance pass him by? And there would be someone else – Teyla was far too exquisite to stay single for the rest of her life. John had seen the looks she'd been getting at the party tonight.
It was about a quarter to midnight that John realised Teyla was no longer on the pier. He hadn't been looking for her exactly – not that he'd admit, anyway – but once he noticed her absence it was hard to notice anything else. She wasn't there.
John's first thought was that one of those guys shooting her looks all night had gone beyond just looking and made a move, but he dismissed it almost immediately – Teyla wasn't the kind of woman to go in for a one-night stand. But… well, maybe she'd gone off with someone she knew.
As predicted, the very thought felt like a punch to the stomach.
His second thought, which calmed John somewhat, was that she'd gone to check on Torren. Teyla had put the little guy to bed at around nine before coming back to the party, so she'd probably just gone to see if she was alright. Yes, that was probably it. And she'd be back before midnight.
John found himself on the very edge of the pier, facing the bright lights of San Francisco. But instead of looking over at the city he'd lived in for many years of his life, he turned to look up at Atlantis instead, the first place he'd felt truly at home in a very long time. Even now, parked just a mile from the US coastline, he'd still rather be here than anywhere else on the planet.
John frowned and narrowed his eyes, focusing on the tower overlooking the pier – there was a small balcony about two thirds up, and John could just about see someone's silhouette in the shadows. He'd know that silhouette anywhere.
He hesitated for a moment before heading for the nearest door.
John knew what balcony it was that he was heading for, and he made it there within a minute. He hesitated again before opening the door and stepping out – she'd come up here by herself, maybe she wanted to be alone.
But John didn't. So he opened the door and stepped out.
Teyla was standing by the railing, and she looked over her shoulder at him as the door closed behind him again. She didn't look surprised to see him there, and she smiled at him.
John smiled back. "Hey."
"Hello, John," she replied. "What are you doing up here?"
"Looking for you," John said immediately, without thinking. He immediately began to backpedal, even though what he said had been fairly innocuous. He felt more pathetic with every single word. "I was – well, I noticed you weren't around, and I thought I saw you up here..."
Teyla's smile widened as he stumbled over his words, and she shrugged when his voice trailed off. "I came up to check on Torren, and I just stepped out for a moment," she said. "I was enjoying the view."
Me too, was John's immediate clichéd thought – but it was true, with the lights of the party shining on her face and her hair curling around her shoulders, Teyla looked stunning. However, John moved over to the railing to see the view Teyla was actually referring to, and saw that from up here the pier looked like some brightly-coloured carnival. John wished he had a camera.
"It's okay," he said casually, giving Teyla another smile to let her know he was joking. She smiled back and turned back to the view. They stood in silence for a moment. "Torren okay?" John asked after a while.
Teyla smiled again. "He's fine. Fast asleep," she said. She cocked her head to one side. "Did you need me for something?"
"No," John said quickly – maybe too quickly. He cleared his throat. "No I just – like I said I noticed you weren't around." John could feel the back of his neck going red like he was some kind of teenager, and thanked god it was too dark for Teyla to notice. She just smiled at his words and turned back to the party. She leant forward on the railing – and kept leaning forward. She was practically at a 90 degree angle.
"Don't do it," John quipped, trying to hide his genuine worry.
Teyla smiled again but didn't look round or straighten up. "I'm trying to listen," she told him.
"The music?" John asked.
"Yes," Teyla said. She straightened up slightly. "I recognised most of the music played tonight, but I don't know this song."
John hadn't paid much attention to the music tonight – it had been your average party selection, all played through someone's iPod hooked up to some loud speakers – but he listened now. It was quite hard to hear from up here – you could make out the melody pretty easily, but it was harder to hear the words. However, John identified the song within a few seconds.
"Do you know it?" Teyla asked him.
"Yeah..." John looked round at Teyla and saw she was looking at him expectantly. He gave her a sardonic look. "I am not singing," he said flatly.
Teyla grinned. "Pity."
"It's really not," John said truthfully.
"So what song is it?" Teyla asked.
John shrugged. "It's called Higher Window... what are you doing?" Teyla had leant right over the railing again, further than before, and John couldn't help reaching out a hand to the small of her back to steady her.
"Trying to hear the words," Teyla said.
"You're gonna go over if you're not careful," John told her.
Teyla looked round at him and gave him a soft smile. "I know you would catch me," she said. For a moment John's hand tightened on Teyla's back before dropping back to his side as she started to straighten up again. She was still looking at him, still smiling, and John looked away before he said or did anything he would regret.
But would he regret it? Hadn't he just spent the last hour or so moping around and regretting that he wasn't saying or doing anything? God, he was so messed up.
They stood in silence, listening to the sounds of the party, and John couldn't help listening to the music. He hadn't heard this song in years but he remembered the words, and he thought about them now and had to fight the urge to shake his head. It was, basically, a song about Teyla.
That or he was being pathetic again.
"Something about music... is that right?" Teyla said quietly. John glanced at her – she was leaning forward again but not too much, and straining to hear the words.
"Yeah," said John.
Maybe it was just because he knew the song, but John could hear the words perfectly, and with each line he felt more and more uncomfortable. No, not uncomfortable, that wasn't the word… sad might be more accurate. This is the kind of stuff he'd want to say to Teyla if he ever worked up the courage, but he wasn't exactly smooth when it came to talking about his feelings. If only she could actually hear the song properly.
He couldn't. No, he could, very easily… he was just… scared. He was always scared. And he didn't want to be.
John gripped the railing in front of him and studiously avoided looking at Teyla as he started to speak – speak, not sing. He was a couple of lines behind, but he didn't want to miss the first ones out.
"How perfect we were meant to be," he said quietly and a little hoarsely. He cleared his throat and carried on. "Our warm and silent symmetry… it's times like these when all we need is to be reminded."
He felt Teyla stand up straight next to him, but he didn't look. He focused on one of the lights below them, and kept going.
"I have flown a thousand miles to empty rooms and crowded aisles." He'd caught up with the song now and the music had picked up and got louder – in fact Teyla would probably be able to hear the words without too much trouble at this point, but John didn't stop. "And we went from cathedral bells to show and tells and wish you wells… and I still look at you and I'm blinded."
He'd gotten ahead of the music now, and he paused for a moment before going into the chorus. It wasn't to let the song catch up, it was gather his nerve.
"Because there is a light from a higher window shining down on us tonight," he said quietly, and slower than he'd said the rest of the song. This was the bit that he wanted Teyla to hear. "And the music floats on the breeze from an easier time."
He paused again. "And all of our cards are on the table… tell me what you want to do. Just don't tell me…" John swallowed. "Don't tell me that it's too late for me to love you."
John was silent after he finished. The song ended and a new one started – he wasn't listening. He wasn't looking at Teyla but all of his attention was on her; he could hear her breathing, and her weight shift. She was probably looking at him, but he kept staring down at the party, waiting for her to say something.
Maybe she won't have understood. Or maybe she did and she was trying to think of a way to leave without hurting his feelings. Maybe…
"What a beautiful song," she said softly.
John looked at her then – she had turned to face him, and was smiling a small, soft smile that he couldn't quite read. And suddenly, John was tired of it all. If she didn't understand, he would have to make her understand. He couldn't pretend like this anymore – he had to know once and for all.
"Teyla –" he said, before he'd worked out anything else he was going to say. He broke off, his usual inability to talk about his feelings reasserting itself, and he just stared at Teyla silently. She looked back at him for a few moments before turning her head away, looking back to the party.
And that was that. John also looked back at the party, mostly so Teyla wouldn't glance back and see the hurt on his face. Because it did hurt – a lot. But at least it was done and he knew for sure. He should have known that when it came to it he wouldn't have to actually say anything – he and Teyla always understood each other. When they wanted to, anyway. And it was better this way – at least he hadn't stumbled over the words and at least she hadn't actually had to say anything to let him know that it just wasn't going to happen. All she'd done was look away, and they could both pretend that nothing had happened.
John was about to leave and start doing just that, when Teyla spoke again.
"Would you like to dance?"
John's head snapped back round to look at Teyla. He searched her eyes for rejection or for pity, but he saw neither. What he actually saw was… fear. The same nervousness that he was feeling himself. That's why she'd looked away just now.
The implications of what Teyla was asking him settled over John and, amazingly, his own nervousness vanished. "Yes," he said calmly.
He held out his hand and she took it in her own, and as soon as they touched it was like some kind of force was just pulling them together. John's other hand went to her waist and Teyla's gripped his shoulder so they were in some semblance of a dancers' hold, but John didn't stop moving forward. He leant in at the same moment Teyla did, and then they were kissing.
There was no timidity, nothing unsure about the way Teyla's lips moved against his – it was like he'd been kissing her for years. And that's what it felt like, like he was coming home. He was sounding pathetic again, but this time he didn't care. John let go of Teyla's hand to wrap both his arms around her waist and pull her closer, and Teyla obliged by wrapping her arms around his neck so that they were pressed tightly together all the way along their bodies. John tilted his head and deepened the kiss, and Teyla let out a small moaning sound that made John respond with a groan of his own.
There was no urgency in their kiss, no desperate need to find a flat surface or anything like that, and yet it was probably the most intimate feeling John had ever felt. It was a heady feeling just knowing that this was Teyla he was kissing, that she was kissing him back, and that this was finally, finally happening.
Distantly he became aware that the music below them had stopped, but he didn't think anything of it as their kiss continued.
Their kiss ended abruptly as the two of them both turned their heads to look down on the party below, but they didn't loosen their hold on each other or pull back. Everyone below them on the pier was starting to chant the countdown to the new year, standing in pairs or groups and hugging each other excitedly.
John looked back at Teyla and realised that she was practically off the floor he was holding her so tight. She turned back to him as he lowered her slightly so that she was standing flat on the ground again, but he went with her, leaning his forehead against hers. She smiled at him, a bright delighted smile that he returned with a practically giddy one of his own.
"Happy new year," he said.
Her smile widened. "Happy new year."
The countdown had only got to three at this point, but John had never really been one for tradition.