Author's Notes: Written as a pinch hit for tielan in the sga_santa 2006, who requested A focus on Teyla or on John/Teyla within the broader scope of the team (at least John/Rodney/Teyla/Ronon, but others can be included); trust and co-operation, friendship and teasing, Rodney hugs either Ronon or Teyla, John *facepalms* at least once. This is a gen, team/friendship story, although there might be undertones of John/Teyla if you're looking for them.
Thanks to Cedara and E for the last minute read through.
Her voice sounded weak and hoarse, unlike herself even to her own ears. She swallowed slowly, not wishing to panic him further. Rodney was inclined to panic unless someone was there to keep his mind focused and clear. It was something that John said had to do with his vast intelligence and ability to see a thousand different outcomes arising from a given set of facts, none of them good.
The fact that this task currently fell to her was unfortunate but, unlike Rodney, she was inclined to see a thousand different outcomes and select the best, making sure that particular outcome was the one that happened. If the task of calming Rodney was hers, she must find the strength from somewhere to be equal to it.
His name came out more strongly this time - for which she thanked the Ancestors - and it finally penetrated the fugue of panic surrounding her team mate.
"Yes, yes, what?"
Perhaps it had been a mistake to attract his attention because when he turned around and caught sight of her, lying there, red blooming across her stomach, his face, if possible, grew paler and the twitching of his hands more frantic. It was a great pity that this cave had no Ancient technology with which to distract him. She was sure that had that been the case, she could have bled to death in front of him with him barely noticing.
Perhaps that was unfair to him. And, besides, she was not going to die today. She would find the strength from somewhere to be equal to that task too.
"Oh..." Now the panic was hitting Rodney's voice as well, the tone going up half an octave and grating on her ears. She winced and immediately regretted it, not just for the twinge of pain that ran through her again but also from the way that his eyes widened until she could see white all around the irises and he swallowed abruptly, sweat breaking out on his brow.
She was bleeding and yet he looked as though he would be the one to faint. Pass out. She must remember that he was twitchy about the correct terminology. It was something she feared she would never understand about the Atlanteans.
"Is it... are you bleeding again?"
She hadn't stopped, although the bleeding had slowed to something less dangerous. It didn't seem helpful to make Rodney aware of that.
"No, Rodney. The bandages are holding. You need not concern yourself with that."
There was an edge of hysteria in his sudden bark of laughter and she closed her eyes, once again praying for the strength to give him strength. "Not concern myself -"
"Rodney!" She cut him off, his name holding its own edge, one of impatience, and he finally subsided although his fingers still twitched at his side. "I will be fine. But you need to calm down."
"Calm?" The hysteria was no longer just hovering at the edges of his words, but was embedded in them, blooming across his face. "How can you say calm -"
He stopped and swallowed noticeably, his arms coming up to cross over his chest. "Yes, yes. Calm. Sorry." The apology was genuine and she appreciated it, even if his eyes kept darting nervously across her face as though he expected her to keel over at any moment.
"I know, Rodney. I am sorry if I sounded... annoyed."
"No, no." And now the hand flapping served a purpose as he waved off her apology. "I mean..." He gestured awkwardly, trying to avoid looking at her side where the material was stained red with her blood. "I think you're entitled to be a little... out of sorts."
It was easier to smile this time, now that Rodney was calm and demonstrating his own, strange brand of charm. She'd grown used to and perhaps even fond of his idiosyncrasies over the last few years and it was reassuring to see that surface now instead of his panic.
He'd changed a lot over the time she'd known him. It shouldn't surprise her - if she'd asked her people, she was sure that they'd say the same about her.
"Are you... Are you in any pain?" He winced. "I mean, in any more pain, since asking you whether you are in pain is a spectacularly stupid question considering you have a huge hole in your side."
"It is... bearable. You should not worry."
"Shouldn't worry?" He snorted and it was strange how she'd grown accustomed to the sound too, even found it endearing now. "The woman with a huge, bleeding hole in her side tells me that I shouldn't worry."
"It is not a huge hole, Rodney."
He snorted again.
"It's certainly bigger than anyone sane would want. Who'd have thought..." He cast a slightly awkward look in her direction, a little embarrassed, presumably at what he'd been about to say, and she took pity on him.
"I don't believe that any of us expected to run into something like that."
"Oh, I don't know." He finally moved away from the entrance to their rough sanctuary, flinging himself down on the hard, stone floor beside her and resting his folded arms on his knees. "Anyone who's ever read John Wyndham and has spent more than five minutes in this messed up galaxy," his hand rose to do that little wave of which he seemed so fond, "could probably have come up with a similar scenario."
"I have never read 'John Wyndham', Rodney," she said gently.
"Oh, yes. Of course. Sorry." He shot a guilty little look in her direction, his eyes darting down to the bloodstained bandages wrapped around her waist before they darted away again, staring out of the cave entrance. "Um... John Wyndham, famous science fiction author. That means that he wrote. Um. Fiction. Stories. About science. Well, not science per se, but you know... the consequences of science."
She still hurt, but Rodney was calmer now and part of her - as always - was curious about the Atlanteans and their culture. Even now.
"Um..." Once again Rodney waved a hand, this time in the direction of the vista outside the entrance to 'their' cave. "Well, for a start one of his stories was about giant, carnivorous plants!"
"Ah." She pulled herself a little more upright, trying to ease the ache and wincing at the sharp stabbing pain as she moved. Probably not the best of ideas. "I do not believe that the plant in question was trying to eat me. I think it was purely a defensive mechanism."
"Well, that makes it all right then."
"I'm not even sure that they could eat me, Rodney."
"Just wait for you to compost, no doubt." She didn't ask. "Talk about thorns, though. I mean, I know that whole saying about life being a bed of roses but watch out for the thorns, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't about literally watching out for giant mutant thorns."
The words were reflective rather than panicked now, and she closed her eyes, relieved, and concentrated on breathing her way through the pain in her side rather than focusing on his breathing as a way to measure his mood.
"It's getting dark."
She started, barely aware of the fact that she'd sunk into a light doze. It had grown darker while she sat there unaware, and she cursed her inattention, pulling her head up from where it had come to rest on Rodney's shoulder. He had broad shoulders, and he was warm where he pressed against her side. It was a little embarrassing to lose herself so completely, and she hoped that she had, at least, not drooled on him in her sleep. She would never hear the end of it - and she meant that literally, for she knew well, by now, Rodney's tendency to dig over old ground.
When she looked over at Rodney, though, his hand was resting on his thigh, his fingers curled around the grip of his sidearm while his eyes watched the world beyond the entrance, and he seemed oblivious to the fact that she'd been using him as a pillow.
She felt a sudden surge of gratitude and affection towards the man.
"I was wondering whether to light a fire but..."
"I am not cold, Rodney. But if you are, you may always retrieve your jacket." She pulled on the fabric lightly. She had been a little cold - shock she assumed - when he'd wrapped it around her, but she was warmer now, probably from the heat radiating from his body.
Now he glanced over at her, his face almost unreadable in the gathering gloom. "I'm not quite that unchivalrous, Teyla. But that wasn't what I meant." She heard his swallow as he looked away again, gesturing towards the entrance with the muzzle of his weapon. "I was wondering whether it would keep anything away that... you know... wanted to eat us. Other things that want to eat us, I mean. The non-giant carnivorous plant things. But then I wondered, what if lighting the fire attracted the things that want to eat us? And..."
"I saw no tracks that would suggest large predators, Rodney."
"Well, no. That's probably because the plants have eaten them."
"I do not think that the plants will be attracted by a fire," she said, completely deadpan. "And perhaps a fire will attract John and Ronon's attention. They will be out looking for us."
"Yes, yes." The impatience was back in his voice and she relaxed slightly. "I have no doubt that the Colonel and the walking tree will be scouring the forest for us. Actually, I'm sure Ronon will be embraced as a long lost member of the carnivorous tree tribe." She raised an eyebrow at him, but he missed her look as the sun sank further below the horizon. "And by the way..." He tapped the radio strapped to his vest. "Remind me to have serious words with our data analysis team. I want to know exactly which moron it was who failed to pick up the telltale electromagnetic signatures on the preliminary surveys that pointed out that we were due some serious sunspot activity. Maybe I should set this on fire," another tap on his radio, "since it would probably be more useful that way."
She'd heard the rant more than once after their radio signals had broken up not long after they had separated from John and Ronon; she had no desire to listen to it again.
"Perhaps you should think about collecting some firewood before it gets too dark."
"Why?" His breathing came faster now, and she braced herself. "Are you cold? You said you weren't cold. Why are you cold? Are you going into shock? Are you all right? Are you bleeding again?"
"For the signal fire, Rodney. Remember?"
"Oh." He subsided back onto the floor, his heart rate finally slowing down from the rapid pulse she'd felt where he'd been pressed against her. "Right, right. I was just thinking... with the blood and everything. Not a good thing..."
"No," she said dryly.
"I mean, apart from the whole 'blood loss is bad' thing, I must admit that I've been wondering... you know..." He gestured awkwardly, his face flushing. "With the whole... scent thing."
"I'm also fairly sure that the plants don't have noses, Rodney. And even if they are capable of sensing through other means, there is no indication other than the Stargate that humans have been here for a very long time. They may not even recognise the scent of human blood."
"Oh, yes. You're right of course. I mean... who knows what the non-existent animals on this planet have in their blood instead of iron? In fact, I think there's even a crab on earth that uses copper in their blood instead." He frowned slightly. "At least I think it was copper. It might have been cyanide for all I know, although I'm fairly sure that cyanide in crab meat would be disastrous for the fishing industry, not to mention the people who actually ate the crabs, so... What?" The look he gave her now was defensive and she schooled her face into something a little less surprised - and amused. "I do occasionally listen to the soft sciences when they ramble in meetings. Even if it's about 'viable alternative physiologies'."
"The fire, Rodney," she prompted gently, trying to get him back on track.
"Oh, right. Well, if you're not cold, I have an even better idea." And now that panic wasn't threatening, there was that familiar, slightly smug tone in his voice.
"Would you care to share?" She was channelling John again, and it would somehow feel better to put that down to light-headedness from blood loss than that she'd been spending too much time with him. But whatever her feelings on the matter, the edge in her voice worked this time as well, cutting through the smugness as easily as it had cut through his panic earlier.
'This' was a torch.
"It's a highly focused beam, so I'll just wait until it's a little darker for maximum visibility. There are no settlements, so no light pollution, and we're up fairly high - nicely out of reach of the mutant triffids, I might add," and again, she didn't ask, "and by the way, have you put some weight on? Not that you can tell by looking," he added hastily. "I just... you know... you felt heavier when I was half carrying you up the mountainside and I should probably, you know, go find a good position to shine the torch out, right?"
She didn't do anything to quell his panic this time. She'd earned the right to let him panic. And he'd earned another session on the mats with her, once her side had healed.
She was looking forward to it.
"I think that's a remarkably good idea," she said mildly, watching him flinch.
He flashed a nervous little smile in her direction, patting her slightly awkwardly on the leg. "I'm sure that the Colonel and Ronon will be here shortly. And they can help carry you down again."
When she narrowed her eyes at him, he moved rapidly out of reach. It appeared that Rodney was finally learning some survival skills.
"Rodney," she called after him, part of her enjoying the still nervous smile he sported when he turned back to face her. "Thank you."
The rest of her enjoyed the surprised and pleased smile he wore as he turned away again.
Once again, she'd dozed off, but this time when she opened her eyes, she met a hazel gaze rather than a blue one.
"How are you doing?"
His name came out more like a sigh than she would have wished and he smiled. "Yes. You weren't worried about us, were you?" The words were light, but she could hear the concern underneath, the same concern that was reflected in his eyes.
"Of course not. We knew that you and Ronon would find us, right, Rodney?"
"Yes, of course we knew," interjected Rodney. "What took you so long?"
John took advantage of the fact that his back was to Rodney to roll his eyes at her.
"We were a little worried," she said, her tone slightly reproachful.
"Yeah." A spark of amusement flared in John's eyes and some of that bled through to his voice. "I gathered that from the way that Rodney pretty much threw himself at Ronon."
"I did not!"
John lowered his voice deliberately, leaning forward towards her to invite her in on the joke, although he made sure that his voice was loud enough to carry to Rodney. "There was hugging."
"It was completely manly hugging!" The rise in Rodney's voice this time was due to outrage rather than panic and, in spite of the pain she was in, it made her smile. "And we might have been a little... concerned, but hardly worried. I mean, not really." Rodney puffed himself up a little, raising his chin and glaring stubbornly in John's direction.
"And here was me thinking you might be worried about us being eaten by the local flora."
Rodney deflated a little. "Oh, you ran into those things too?"
"Yes, Rodney, we ran into those things too. Although it seems as though we got off a little more lightly." John's fingers were now gently skirting around the edges of her bandages, gauging how badly she was hurt. "Did you forget how to duck?"
"Apparently," she answered, her tone still dry. Somewhere behind John, Rodney made a little noise but it was enough to attract John's attention. When Rodney wouldn't meet his gaze, he turned back to Teyla, his expression quizzical.
She shook her head, giving him one of those smiles of hers that she knew he would recognise - the ones he called her 'enigmatic' smiles. She considered them to be of the same ilk as that little shrug of his shoulders, the one that made it clear that any questions would be shrugged off just as easily, with a joke and a smile.
"She pushed me out of the way."
Rodney's voice was stilted with guilt, his eyes still locked on the world outside their sanctuary and his fingers lightly curled around the weapon that hung down by his side but his frame was taut with tension.
John didn't look back, and her affection for him grew as he said, still lightly and with his attention focused firmly on her wound, "And did you give her something soft to land on?"
"What?" It startled Rodney from his introspection; his head jerked up and he stared at John as though John had taken leave of his senses.
"Like, I don't know... you?"
The words had the desired effect, the tension leaving Rodney's body to be replaced with exasperation. "Oh, for -" He spluttered off, waving his hands around again. Ronon ducked, grabbing for Rodney's hand and pointing the gun firmly towards the floor while he glared at Rodney. Ronon's mouth, however, twitched at the corner.
"Rodney was a perfect gentleman," she said, wincing slightly as John's fingers found a sore spot. He smiled apologetically, mouthing a heartfelt 'sorry' even though half of his attention was still on Rodney.
"Was he now?" There was no mistaking the amusement in John's voice.
"Yes, I was! Was there ever any doubt?"
John ducked his head, hiding his smile, and she felt warmed again.
"He even gave me his jacket."
"Yes, I did!" There was a slight pause before he asked, "Do you actually still need that? What?" This was apparently directed at Ronon, who'd let out a snort of amusement. "It's getting chilly, and please tell me that you have a 'jumper parked nearby."
"Yes, Rodney, we went back for a 'jumper and we parked as close as we could," John said mildly, helping her to her feet. "At least as closely as we could given the foliage cover." He felt good to lean on, strong and reliable, and for a split second she let him bear her weight, just to feel the press of him against her uninjured side and know that they were safe. "I'm pretty sure that even you can walk that far."
Rodney's chin came up again. "I was worried about Teyla!"
"Of course you were."
"I - I was... I mean with the - Oh fine. But you and Ronon are carrying her back down again."
John treated her to one of his unique expressions, all tilted eyebrow and comical surprise.
"Rodney believes that I have put on weight," she explained succinctly, gratified to see that Ronon, at least, had enough sense to rapidly put several steps between Rodney and himself. She wasn't the only one who noticed - John's body shivered against her as he tried - unsuccessfully - to swallow his laughter.
"I didn't - I mean... You know what?" Another huff as Rodney turned away to gather up their packs. "Forget it." He shoved her pack unceremoniously towards Ronon and stalked towards the entrance, affront clear in every line of his body.
Ronon's eyes twinkled at her, before he loped after Rodney, long legs eating up the distance between them.
"Sure you're okay?"
John's words were low, pitched for her ears only, and his breath brushed over her ear, warm and welcome.
"I will be fine. Truly. Please do not worry, John."
But she leant a little more closely, relying on his strength for a brief moment before she pulled away.
"Just a flesh wound, right?" he joked, a reference she was sure she was missing, before his voice grew serious again. "I'll have to remember not to bring you flowers if this is the consequence."
"Were you thinking of bringing me flowers?" The question was absent as she concentrated on moving and breathing. And staying upright.
He hesitated, one hand under her arm and the other resting lightly on the small of her back, ready to steady her.
"Maybe," he said cautiously. "I mean... hospitals and stuff. Flowers are traditional."
"And... they're traditional for... other... things too. Maybe. And maybe we should send Ronon and Rodney ahead for a gurney."
"And then you will merely have to carry me down on it in the dark, which will not be easy. I have no wish to survive one of Rodney's 'triffids' only to be dropped on my head." She reached up, ignoring the twinge in her side, and squeezed the hand resting on her arm. "I will be fine once I get moving, John. It is... not much more than a flesh wound." He snorted, and steadied her as she started to move. The first step hurt; the second less so. "As long as any flowers you bring aren't carnivorous, I'm sure that will be fine."
"No carnivorous flowers. Got it. Now, easy does it. Just one step at a time."
Yes. Just one step at a time. It was a good credo to live by, she reflected.
And if he lingered close for a moment even after he'd settled her in the 'jumper, she didn't comment on it.
One step at a time.
Author's Note Redux: The Horseshoe crab on earth has copper (not cyanide) based blood but I'm not aware that anyone actually eats them.
Summary: Teyla and Rodney, sitting in a... tree?
Mostly gen, but with hints of Teyla/John if you squint hard enough.