What she loves most is waking up, curled in the sleepy heat of Elizabeth’s body. Early in the morning, the sunlight picks out the metallic threads of her quilts and pillows in little sparkles and burnishes the curling strands of Elizabeth’s hair. As she comes to herself, her thoughts and feelings coalescing until she feels whole and aware, she turns thoughts over in her head, remembering everything she has to be thankful for and everything that she’s regained. The moment feels charged and sacred.
Her breath catches in her throat and her fingertips find Elizabeth’s palm against the swell of Teyla’s bare breast. She trails her fingers over Elizabeth’s slender fingertips, the white moons of her cuticles and the pad of her white palm. She traces the long, curved line on the fleshy part of her palm that reads like a road on a map. That line led Elizabeth far from her and brought her home again. Teyla didn’t know how empty that had left her until the woman had walked through the Gate and come home. Her dear face had been exactly as Teyla remembered it. Ascension, reincarnation – Teyla could recognize a miracle when she was confronted with it. That night, Teyla had lit candles to thank the Ancestors, both hers and the Ancients, for bringing Elizabeth home.
And afterward, there had been the awkward between-time when neither of them knew how to approach the other. They’d smiled at each other, embraced and their brows had kissed, but it wasn’t what Teyla wanted to say. Those salutations didn’t express what was in Teyla’s heart.
It was another three nights before they found each other on the wide balcony that clung to the side of the tower Teyla roomed in. The moonlight had gleamed on Elizabeth’s profile, her cheek outlined by silver and the light tangled in her dark hair. Teyla’s breath had caught then, too, her whole heart hammering to grab her and hold her tightly in her arms.
When Elizabeth’s green eyes had turned toward her, her forehead creasing and her mouth curving up, Teyla covered the distance and slid her hands in the leader’s hair. Their bodies had brushed. She’d covered Elizabeth’s mouth as she’d opened it to speak, snuffing out her words and the familiar dance they’d been engaged in for years – she’d stopped it before either of them could make excuses or try to defuse what was between them. She’d kissed Elizabeth with all the hunger she’d tried before to keep in check, tongue sliding against lips and then inside. Their teeth had bumped, arms tangled before they shifted and fell into place. Her heart had pounded inside her chest and she’d felt Elizabeth’s hammering beside it.
“Do not leave again,” Teyla whispered in a hot rush.
Elizabeth’s fingers curled in Teyla’s hair as she rolled her forehead to Teyla’s jaw. “I never wanted to.”
“Do not,” Teyla repeated. Her voice was shaky. She felt Elizabeth’s mouth curve against her skin.
“Never again,” Elizabeth agreed. She withdrew to look into Teyla’s eyes and said it again, pressing her lips to Teyla’s. “Not ever.” It was only when she stroked her thumb over Teyla’s cheek that Teyla realized her face was wet.
Since that night, Elizabeth’s body has become Teyla’s harbor; like Atlantis, Elizabeth is there when Teyla comes home. She welcomes her and makes Teyla feel secure when Teyla comes back from fighting to keep Atlantis safe.
Centuries before even Teyla’s great-great-grandparents rebuilt Athos from the ground up after the Wraith had stripped their homeworld to the bone, before the spires of the capital city were even built, Athos had been what the Earthers called a kingdom. Charin had told Teyla stories about Athosian Queens and their Defenders. And when Teyla was a child playing in the ruins of the capital, she’d been drawn to the illustrations on the walls. She’d run her fingers over the depictions of a Queen with a shield and her Knight with a spear at her side. When one’s strength failed, the other protected her.
Teyla runs her fingers over Elizabeth’s hand, up her wrist and over the curve of her cheek where the sunlight limns her face. When Elizabeth stirs against her, her arms tightening around Teyla, she smiles. She reassures herself that Elizabeth is home.