A/N: Title comes from the Talking Heads song 'Once in a Lifetime'.
Spoilers from the season 1 Genii episodes.
The cell they give her is larger than those she's seen before; certainly better than one a prisoner of the Genii would warrant. Dr Weir had wanted to send her back as a gesture of goodwill, and the thought had almost made Sora laugh in the woman's face. Sending her back is no token of goodwill, but one of weakness. Weakness on behalf of the Atlanteans that they didn't kill her, and weakness on Sora's behalf that she failed. It's Teyla who stopped Weir from sending her back. Sora doesn't know what Teyla said, but knows that it is probably the truth. Sending Sora back now is to hand her a death sentence. She disobeyed an order, and in the eyes of the Genii that is unacceptable.
"I brought you these."
Teyla holds out an armful of clothes as she stands in front of the cell.
Sora glances down at what she is wearing. Holes and bloodstains litter her uniform and the fabric scratches against her skin worse than it ever has before, but it is still the uniform of the Genii people, still the uniform that marks her as her.
"I don't need anything from you."
She ignores the words for the lie they are. Locked away, in the bowels of this place, she is dependant on them for everything. She exists only because they allow it.
"I will leave them here for you, Sora."
She turns away as Teyla leaves the clothes in the corner of the cell and leaves. She will take nothing from these people who killed her father. Nothing.
She says nothing as Teyla stands in front of the cell, letting the other woman's words wash over her.
But Sora simply turns away, and Teyla finally leaves.
Teyla arrives carrying Sora's food, opening the cell and sliding the meal inside.
"Why do you come?" Because she wants to know.
"I--" And the Teyla stops. Stops and looks at her. "We were friends once, Sora."
"And then you killed my father."
"The Wraith killed him." And is that a hint of anger in Teyla's tone? Or is she merely projecting her own feelings onto the other woman?
"He would still be alive if not for you." She has to believe that. Has to believe that her father's death was the fault of the Atlanteans. Because if she doesn't, then she has to believe that it was the actions of the Genii -- of her father himself -- that led to his death. And that, she isn't prepared to accept.
"Is there anything you need?"
She's almost tempted to point out how stupid a question it is, but decides not to waste her breath.
"I need nothing from you, Teyla Emmagan."
And she can almost -- almost -- not hear the lie.
Teyla looks at her as she holds the books out. "I thought you might require something to pass the time."
Because Sora has nothing down here if not time.
"How long are you planning on keeping me?"
"That is up to Dr. Weir."
And Sora can't stop the laugh. To think that a diplomat is in charge of the most powerful city in the galaxy in insufferable. Someone who would rather talk than act with their finger on the button of the one hope they have. With Atlantis in Genii hands, the Wraith could have been stopped by now. If not for the idiocy of these people, the Wraith would never have awoken early.
"I brought some of the new cake the chef made this morning."
"Does he know you're wasting it on me?"
From the look on Teyla's face, the answer is no. Sora closes her eyes, reminded on when she was younger, and her father used to sneak her sweets when her mother didn't know. She still remembers the look on his face when she was awarded her commission in the Genii Military, proud and assured, as though she could never fail him. All she knows is that her father held her when she cried, taught her how to shoot, how to fight. All she knows is that her father taught her everything, and now he is gone, like so much in Sora's life.
Teyla doesn't say anything when she leaves the tray of food in Sora's cell.
Teyla doesn't say anything when she leaves a new book for Sora to read.
Teyla doesn't say anything when she gathers up the Genii uniform from the corner of the cell and takes it with her when she goes. She doesn't need to.
She isn't worried when Teyla fails to show up. After all, they abandoned her to the depths of the city, and if Teyla now feels that she has spent enough time with Sora to alleviate her conscience, then so be it.
Teyla finally shows up, body bruised and arm wrapped in a bandage.
"My apologies that I have not been by recently. There was an -- incident on another planet."
"You were injured." Sora nods to the bandage, trying to calm the pounding she can hear.
"It looks worse than it is."
"I shall leave you now. I just wanted you to know that--"
Teyla's words trail off, but Sora can fill in the blanks. That I hadn't forgotten about you. That I hadn't left you.
Teyla turns back with a look of questioning and Sora doesn't stop the words from coming this time.
"Stay. Tell me what is happening out there."
And Teyla nods, and smiles as she lowers herself to the floor.
The Wraith are coming. The words run through her mind with each step. The Wraith are coming. With each step out of the cell, with each step towards the Control Room. The Wraith are coming.
"You are being released."
She was sure she had misheard at first, unable to wrap her mind around it as Teyla opened the cell and ushered her out.
The Wraith are coming, and they are letting her go.
With each step she wants to tell Teyla that she doesn't want to go back, but can't find the words.
She stands in front of the Stargate as it dials the Genii home world, watching as each section lights up, taking her ever closer to a home she doesn't know if she wants any more.
When the gate is finally open, she looks back and meets Teyla's eyes and tries to tell herself that the shiver running through her is excitement at finally being released, at finally going home, and nothing to do with what she is losing.