Please Reread Chapter 10 as I changed the last scene on the mainland and this makes more sense then.
Celebrating the Future
Teyla woke when she felt John shift. She hadn't meant to truly fall asleep, but as always feeling John next to her had lulled her into sleep too. He shifted again and a small groan escaped his lips. Teyla quickly sat up, to be better able to look at him. Even in sleep his face was tense with pain. She realized that making him lie down to sleep on the hard ground might not have been such a great idea after all.
She looked past him and startled when Torren was not there anymore. She quickly stood up and searched around. She sighed in relief when she found her son, accompanied by Ronon, further down the slope playing at the small creek. She hadn't even heard Torren wake or Ronon taking him away, but her worry for John had kept her awake lately. She shook her head, wondering if being close to John was clouding her senses. Had she become soft? Had they all? Michael's invasion again had been smooth and unhalted. She hadn't known or even guessed something was off. Shouldn't she have been able to feel the presence of a wraith?
A long, drawn out sigh from John pulled her from her musings. His face contorted as he shifted yet again. It apparently was time for his meds. She sensed someone coming and turned quickly toward the small path leading up from the settlement. She sighed, relieved. Maybe she was not as inattentive as she had suspected. Carson was on his way to them and Teyla had caught his advance before he had even left the outer ring of the settlement. She looked at Ronon to see that he too had noted Carson's advance. She shook her head at her own thoughts. Todd being there had overshadowed the hybrid fetus growing inside of its human host, another reason it had been shielded.
"Carson," Teyla said quietly smiling at the doc.
Carson smiled back, his attention shifting to John. "I wanted to make sure the Colonel is doing alright." A frown appeared on his face.
"I believe I was wrong in making him sleep on the ground," she admitted quietly. "Hopefully his pain meds will help."
Carson nodded his face thoughtful. "Don't wake him yet. I'll get my bag and give him something stronger. It should work faster too."
Teyla nodded, her gaze staying on John's pale face. She replayed their earlier conversation. Had her idea made it impossible for them to have their bonding ceremony?
Another small gasp pulled her focus back to John. His eyes fluttered for a moment, before he rolled on his back, his breathing becoming slightly labored. After another moment his breathing evened out in deep sleep again. He must be really exhausted to sleep despite the pain he apparently was in.
Teyla shook her head; despite his earlier assurance she doubted it would do him any good to stick to their plans for the bonding ceremony tonight.
Teyla walked towards the center of the settlement, taking in the mix of tents and houses. Some of her people had felt uncomfortable to move into the wood houses and preferred living in their tents. It was a strange, but fitting mix. Two cultures becoming one. She entered the 'town square' as John had called it, and wandered towards the big tent situated to the right side. It would stay here for their evening gatherings and other meetings in the future; the transporter to the city was situated in a hut next to the tent along with the security detail. In the center, her people had built their big traditional fireplace. A big fire had already been started for tonight. The smell of roasting meat and vegetables floated towards her. She smiled at seeing all the garlands and flowers placed for the ceremony and big party afterwards.
She felt a stab of guilt. Everybody had worked so hard getting everything finished for tonight. She passed the tables place for tonight's big feast and entered the open tent. Walking through the rows of benches towards the pedestal she spied two women adding last flowers. She sighed. She would have preferred to talk to Halling alone.
"You have done wonderfully," she praised loudly, walking towards Halling who was just placing the last candles on the pedestal. Her friend turned to her, his smile vanishing as he took in her troubled face.
"Ailia, Sirna, please check with Naram if the bench is ready." The two women looked up surprised. After looking at Teyla they both nodded and quickly left. Teyla couldn't help but smile knowing very well he had sent them out so whatever bothered her could be discussed in private. He just knew her too well.
"You know very well that you are not supposed to come here before the ceremony," he chided lightly, walking the few steps to her and sitting down on one of the benches, taking her hand on the way and pulling her down with him. Teyla smiled at him. "Do I guess right that you are here to tell me that the bonding ceremony has to be postponed?"
"Postponed?" Teyla asked amused at the fact that Halling was already using Earth terms.
His deep chuckle filled the room. "I have worked much with the scientists and farmers from Earth lately. I liked the word and they used it many times," he explained.
Teyla nodded. "Yes," she said her face showing her regret. "John is a strong person. But we both know him well enough to know that he will not admit to being in pain. I talked to him and he said that he wants to have the ceremony tonight, but I am afraid he will not admit if it becomes too much. He can barely stand and he will not be able to sit on his own for too long unsupported."
Halling nodded understanding her concern. "I was thinking of that," he admitted. "I asked Naram to add a backrest to the bench."
Teyla smiled again, shaking her head however. "That was very thoughtful, but I am afraid it will not be enough. The ceremony will last for almost two hours."
"Has the Colonel ever been to a bonding ceremony?"
Teyla shook her head no, confused by the question.
"You have talked to him about the single parts," he stated.
"Only about the parts he is required to partake in," she admitted.
To her surprise Halling smiled about that. "So he would not know if we left parts out."
"He would not. What …" she started to asked wondering where he was going with this. But he stopped her.
"And he has no clue it is supposed to take about two hours?"
"I believe no, but …" again Halling stopped her.
"Teyla, do you not think that the Colonel would feel guilty for not being able to attend the ceremony, knowing how much work we have had." Teyla bit her lip, averting her eyes. "You said yourself that he wants to have the ceremony. Will he not be angry if you decide this without his agreement?"
Teyla's eyes snapped to Halling, a flash of anger crossing her face. She shot to her feet. "I will not allow John to suffer just because he feels obliged to do something he agreed upon before he was injured."
"It is not your fault."
Teyla cringed when Halling hit the nerve. Teyla felt responsible for what Michael had done and that she had made him lie down earlier unknowingly aggravating his injuries. Though she knew she would not have been able to stop Michael or could have known the effect lying down on the ground would have.
She also felt guilty and responsible for this. She had agreed to the bonding ceremony, because she had been afraid of her people's reaction to their relationship and because she believed she had to do this to show them that she was still one of them. John had just wanted to please her and their friends who had been upset at not getting to attend their ceremony. This was for them. John and her had exchanged their vows and rings, a long time ago, on a beach, just the two of them and a few witnesses and they had sealed that bond right afterwards. Okay, it was not that long ago, but it had been all they had needed. Teyla sighed again. That was not entirely true. A part of her wanted this so everyone would see that John belonged to her, and from John's earlier statements part of him also wanted this for purely selfish reasons.
She felt Halling get up, his hand warm on her shoulder.
"He has suffered enough," she said in a small voice.
"That he has," Halling agreed. "I already feared you only went through with this to please us."
Teyla turned to him. "That is n …" she started to deny.
"No, Teyla, I am honored that you feel that way, but it is not necessary. Are you certain that John will agree on not having the ceremony?"
"He will be angry, mostly at himself, even if I make the decision."
Halling nodded. "Would you agree on a shortened version?"
Teyla looked at him confused. "After seeing the Colonel for the first time today, many voiced their concern for his wellbeing. It was suggested by the elders to cut the ceremony to the vital parts. This way the ceremony will only last for about one hour. If you get the feeling during the ceremony that things will have to be shortened even more, just sneeze twice and we will adjust further."
Teyla couldn't help chuckle. She was moved by her people's concern for John. For the first time since returning to Pegasus she truly felt that she still had her place among them.
Mirsas took the cool soft fabric into her hand. She had never seen a fabric such as this before. Silk, Teyla had called it. She fastened the last of her blossoms on the skirt. Her tasked finished, she slowly stood up and took a step back to inspect her work. A smile lightened her lips. Teyla had chosen the dress well. The white flowers on the dark blue silk looked almost like the sky by night, when you could see that there were so many more worlds than you would think if you only ever looked in the sky at daytime. It also was perfect as it represented the fact that Teyla and her husband were children of these different worlds, even universes.
Mirsas looked back at the flowers. She had been lucky to find so many of the vilia flowers. Admittedly she was old and though the younger generations did not, she still held to the old beliefs. Each vilia blossom represented the pass of all seasons before the couple would be separated. Never before in her very long life had she found this many, too many to count and she had taken as many as she had known would fit on the dress. She stepped closer and looked at the blossom residing as a center eye catcher on the line of flowers covering the neckline. This blossom was so rare she had only seen it once before in her life, and when she had found it this morning she had almost fainted. It was the blossom of the Ancestors.
To Mirsas it meant that Teyla's bond with the Colonel was blessed by the Ancestors and not even death would be able to separate them. She wondered if Teyla would acknowledge the meaning. As a young leader Teyla had been raised by tradition, but even then the young woman had had a strong mind of her own. And over the past years many of their beliefs had turned out to be mostly wishful hopes.
Mirsas heard movement outside and turned just when Teyla entered. She smiled at the young woman who returned her smile her eyes settling on the dress behind her.
"Mirsas, I do not …," Teyla gasped taking in the work. She moved forward her hand hovering over the white flowers Mirsas had stitched on the dark blue silk.
"How?" she breathed, tears stinging in her eyes. She took in the amount of vilia blossoms covering the dress. She remembered how Charrin had once told her that each flower presented a year the couple would spent together, looking at the amount of blossoms Mirsas had found it would be many more than Teyla hoped they had. In the middle of the top was another flower that was so rare she had only seen drawings of it until today.
"Nala Immeria," she whispered her hand barely touching the pedals, for her fear it would vanish.
"The flower of eternity," Mirsas said smiling, glad that Teyla truly cherished and held the beliefs. "I found it this morning. I am glad you recognize its importance."
"How could I not?" Teyla asked, looking at the elderly woman. "You found it this morning?"
Mirsas nodded. "When I was gathering the vilia it was suddenly there."
Teyla smiled at her, pulling her close in the traditional Athosian embrace. "Thank you," she whispered. Trying to calm her inner turmoil as she felt John catch up on it and grow anxious. She let go of Mirsas.
She looked at her dress once more. "You have done so much," she told Mirsas.
Mirsas shrugged. "It is a very pleasant task to fulfil."
They took a deep breath. "I have to go now," Teyla said barely able to take her eyes of her dress.
Mirsas chuckled, giving Teyla a soft nudge. Teyla chuckled too and after another look left.
Teyla slowly walked back towards the hillside and John, her thoughts on her dress. At first she had thought that Mirsas had gotten an orchid blossom from the botany department as those looked very much like Nala Immeria, but at a closer look she had seen the difference.
She looked into the sky wondering if her bond with John was truly blessed and that not even death would be able to separate them. She knew that John was capable of ascension, but would she be as well? She had always feared that the wraith part of her would make it impossible. She shook her head at herself. She had a life to live first. That was a question for much later in their lives.
She focused her attention on John and realized that he was practically calling for her through their connection. She quickly sent him calming thoughts and quickened her steps. She was surprised to find that John was back in his sun chair when she reached them, Carson at his side.
John shifted uncomfortable, sleeping on the ground hadn't done him any good; his ribcage hurt and his chest felt tight. He hoped that Teyla would be back soon. He wondered what was going, so many different emotions floated over their connection it confused him. He was also growing anxious. Carson hadn't said much yet either. When John had woken, the doc had been there already, syringe ready in hand, telling him the pain he was in had been visible even while asleep. He did feel even more exhausted than he had before.
Ronon had been needed to get John back in his sun chair and the fact that Carson hadn't even commented increased John's anxiety. The meds also needed far longer to take effect than he liked to admit. Suddenly he sensed Teyla. He perked up, but had to lean back at the same moment as the movement sent a spike of pain through his chest. He pressed his eyelids together while trying to take a deep breath. Of course, Carson was all over him in seconds.
"Where does it hurt, lad?"
"I just moved wrong, nothing to worry about," John ground out. Carson's hand moved to his chest. John tried to ward him off.
"I'm fine," he reinforced, opening his eyes to glare at the doc.
"You're not fine, Colonel." Carson turned to look at Teyla who had just arrived. She quickly moved to crouch on John's other side, taking his hand in hers. Her guilt for making him lay down spiked again. "I'm sorry, but I think it's best to get you back in your bed," he added.
"John..." she started, his eyes snapped to her. They were so intense it broke her heart. He wanted this, needed this. She thought about the tent and most of all about her dress with the rare flowers that meant so much. She gave an imperceptible nod. She would back him on this.
She looked at Carson. "Would you be willing to allow John to rest here in Halling's new home? He has an Earth bed and I believe if John has a chance to rest more comfortably he will be fine for tonight." Carson looked at her a frown on his face, obviously not really happy with her. After a moment he sighed.
"Alright, we give the meds time to work and I will check you throughout later, but you will oblige when I say no."
Teyla and John both nodded. Teyla stood up and waved to Ronon, who had wandered off with Torren again, calling him back to help get John into the village.
John woke to soft murmured voices. He hadn't been aware of falling asleep. He felt a lot better than he had earlier. He lay on his side and decided to open his eyes. He was rewarded by the sight of Teyla's bare back. His breath hitched as certain body parts reacted to the scene.
He quickly turned on his back. The movement, however, reawakened the pain in his chest. He tried to breathe through it while trying to take in his surroundings. He heard the rustling of fabric and after a few moments the bed shifted. John was too afraid to open his eyes.
"John?" Teyla ask, one of her hands settling against his chest.
"Please tell me you're dressed."
Teyla chuckled. "I am dressed."
John sighed, opening his eyes. Looking at Teyla, however, took his breath right away again.
"Wow," he said, struggling to sit up.
Teyla quickly helped him settle against the headboard. She settled back, his hand in her lap. She couldn't help grin at the goofy smile on his face as he took in her dress.
"You're the most beautiful woman I've ever met."
Teyla beamed, she could tell that he really believed what he said, his love, desire and admiration clearly readable through their connection. In the light of the women that John had shown interest in in the past, the compliment meant even more to her. She leaned into him, her lips capturing his.
When she pulled back, she turned somber.
"John, are you certain you will be able to attend the bonding ceremony?"
His goofy grin slipped and he averted his eyes, but then he looked back at her his eyes intense.
"I won't lie and say that I'm fine. But nothing will stop me from marrying you tonight."
Teyla took a deep breath. "John …"
"Please, Teyla." For good measure he added his puppy dog eyes. "However, you'll need to help me with the walking and standing part," he said, hoping his honesty would help.
Teyla sighed and looked into his pleading eyes, after a moment she nodded and leaned into him again for another kiss.
John barely acknowledged the people already gathered in the tent. He hated crowds anyway and luckily his mind was preoccupied with his beautiful bride and how perfectly the bodice of her dress hugged her sexy curves, the skirt falling freely from her hips to the floor and the short sleeves melded with the neckline just above her well-formed front. He thought about the flowers that were stitched on in one line from one shoulder to the other then down and around her alluring hips. There were more flowers crossing in two lines on the upper part while the lower was dotted with them.
He realized that he was kind of obsessed with the flowers, but after Teyla had explained their meaning to him he couldn't help it. He wasn't much into any form of beliefs or superstitions, but it had gotten him thinking. One flower for each year they would spend together, he really hoped that was true and then the blossom in the middle of her neckline for eternity. Would he ascend if it meant an eternity with Teyla? Though he longed to deny it, the answer was yes. He was not ready to admit it yet, but someday in the far future he knew they would have to talk about it.
He let Teyla guide him along the aisle that slightly reminded him of a church, their arms were around each other to keep the people from noticing that John could barely walk on his own. He looked towards the pedestal up front with the bench they would have to sit on placed to the left side and a lot of candles all around. Halling awaited them. He was surprised to see a backrest; Teyla had said it was without one. He didn't think about it further though, he was too happy to be able to rest against it. Though he had felt a bit better after the second nap, getting dressed had taken a lot out of him and the pain from his afternoon nap on the ground had hit back full force.
He hadn't told Carson, afraid the doc would put a last minute stop on things and after seeing Teyla in her dress he just couldn't risk it. But now he wished he had asked at least for his regular pain meds. He breathed in against the pain as Teyla helped him settle on the bench and even though he wore his dress uniform he quickly leaned against the backrest. Luckily he didn't have to do all that much during the ceremony. He only was required to stand up once. Hopefully he would manage that. He didn't even want to think about what would happen if he collapsed in front of everyone.
The ceremony started and he let the voices wash over him, not really listening to it as he was captivated by Teyla's beauty again. He sighed inwardly when, ten minutes into the ceremony, small peaks of pain started to rip through his chest. He felt Teyla's eyes bore into him and pulled all his strength together to look back and smile. She smiled back and he wondered if she bought his act.
She turned back to Halling so he did too. After a moment she sneezed. John thought nothing of it but after only a moment she sneezed again. He turned to her now worried if she had gotten a cold. She smiled sheepishly at him and leaned in.
"Must be something in the air," she murmured and he chuffed amused.
He half listened to Halling as they suddenly had to stand. John was surprised as he had thought this part was at the end of the ceremony and he didn't think it was over yet. Jinto had said these things lasted for hours and he was sure that barely thirty minutes had passed. He concentrated on Halling who walked over to them taking his right arm and Teyla's left. He softly crossed Teyla's arm under John's so the insides of their arms met until their palms rested together and then he entwined their fingers. He draped a golden cord over their wrists.
"Teyla and John," he started. "You both have asked to be bonded for life." Both nodded and Halling turned to the people. For the first time John realized the mass of faces. To his relief the first row was filled with their friends and colleagues. Jinto was the only Athosian in the front row, sitting next to Lorne, Teldy, Dusty, Zelenka and Woolsey on the right side of the aisle. In the row in front of him and Teyla sat Ronon with Torren on his lap, Amelia, Rodney, Keller and Carson.
Halling started his narration of how he and Teyla had met and how they had come to be here today. A few minutes into the story John felt a sudden sharp pain and he faltered for a moment. He locked his knees under him and felt Teyla twist her arm so she could support him better.
He blushed as he realized that Ronon had partly slipped off his seat as well as Carson. Halling, who had just been looking at them, raised his voice and quickly turned to the people in front of him again, obviously to keep them from realizing what had just happened. John plastered a smile on his face, but could tell from his friends faces that they didn't buy his act. Still they settled back, but Ronon left Torren with Amelia, his body tense. Carson stayed on the edge of his seat, bag ready next to him.
Halling hurried through the rest of his story. John wondered if he left out quite a bit, but keeping upright took too much of his concentration to actually follow up on what was said.
"As leader of my people I bless this bond," he said stepping towards them, taking both ends of the cord and wrapping it around one time. Right behind Halling Woolsey already waited.
"As leader of my people I bless this bond," he repeated Halling's words and wrapped the cord around their wrists once more. John lurched again, but managed to stay upright.
Rodney came next. "As brother of the groom I bless this bond," he said as quickly as possible doing the wrapping while he spoke.
Ronon was the last. "As brother of the bride, I bless this bond." He knotted the end of the cord together. When he was done he inconspicuously helped Teyla get John seated on the bench.
"As all blessings have been given and received, you are to bear witness to this bond." Halling again addressed the people in the room. He stepped to Teyla and John again. "Shall the ancestors behold and bless you too."
John knew he was supposed to say something, but right now he couldn't remember what. Suddenly Halling turned away. "The final vows will be spoken in private, I asked the family to stay and the rest to leave and start the celebrations."
Cheers erupted and after a moment most people stood and left the tent, only those in the first row stayed. All of them looked tense. Carson and Ronon were already at Teyla's and John's side.
"OK, Colonel. I'm sorry, but for you its straight back to Atlantis."
John wished he had the strength to argue, but there was just nothing left. He could feel darkness closing in on him. Just before he was gone for good he remembered what he had been supposed to say. "I accept the blessings," he mumbled.
"Leave it to Sheppard to lose consciousness and still complete his mission," Rodney snarked from the back, his voice betraying the worry for his friend.
John woke slowly, keeping his eyes closed. Teyla was snuggled into his side. He vaguely remembered the bonding ceremony. He felt guilt rise as he realized that he must have passed out.
He sighed; shame slicing through him as he slowly opened his eyes. He groaned upon realizing he was in the infirmary. Slowly he became aware of the trouble he was in. An IV was attached to his right arm and a nasal cannula stuffed in his nose. He looked down at Teyla, her head resting on his left shoulder.
Movement caught his attention. Teyla snapped awake, her eyes locking with his.
"So I guessed right then," Keller's bright voice interrupted before either could say a word. Both looked at her.
"Huh?" he asked still too groggy to really follow the doc.
"I thought you might wake," she explained.
"How long was I out?"
"Only about an hour. You were a little dehydrated though and we had to boost your o2 level a bit."
John nodded and Teyla turned his attention to him. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to get his thoughts straight, but he was having a difficult time with it. Teyla's hand settled against his cheek and he opened his eyes again.
"You were in quite some pain," Teyla explained.
"We gave you stronger meds for that," Jennifer threw in. That made sense, John thought. "I'll leave you two alone." John quickly looked at Keller to ask when he could go home. "You'll be my guest until that bag of fluids is gone," she answered his silent question, pointing at the already half empty IV bag.
John nodded, turning back to Teyla. He took a moment to think about where to start apologizing. He wasn't so sure if they had been done with the bonding ceremony and she was missing the big party just because of him. He hadn't realized he had averted his eyes until the moment her hand again rested on his cheek.
"Do not worry about me John. Our bonding has been completed, as you said the required words just before passing out. I wish you had told us that you felt this bad before, though I do understand why you did not."
John swallowed hard, he didn't deserve her.
"No matter what has happened tonight, I love you John, and I am very grateful you chose me as you wife."
"I love you," was all he could say. Their lips met and he drowned happily in the love he felt flow from Teyla while doing his best to send her the same message.
"I do, however, expect you to make tonight up to me. You owe me a dinner and the wedding night."
John grinned. "The night is not over yet," he said pulling her close again.
"No it is not, but you are in no condition to do what we both have in mind."
To prove her point she pressed her lips against his. The kiss left him breathless and mildly frustrated.
"Now go back to sleep. I wish to take you home soon."
"Yes, ma'am," he answered between gasps. He closed his eyes, hoping the next time he opened them he was going home with his beautiful bride.
Don't be shy make me happy and review ;).
If you want to know how John made up to Teyla read my story Christmas Season.