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War Stories (The Easy Feeling Remix)

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"You know," Kanaan says, casual if it weren't for the touch of his thumb in the dip of her collarbone, light but lingering, "you never told me where you got this scar."

Teyla wants to laugh, but she is still a little short of breath, so she just shakes her head and lets it sink back onto the pillow, instead just smiles up at him from where he's lying next to her, propped up on his elbow. His hair is standing up in spikes so much softer than they look. She feels all soft, too, and very grateful indeed that Marta has taken Torren for the whole night.

"See, this one I know; it's from where the nhreeq bit you when we were both barely nine summers old." Kanaan gently slides his hand down to the inside of her elbow, that invisible but rough patch of scar tissue. "And of course the one from the explosion that killed your friend Carson." He lets his fingers come to rest, gently, on her belly, on the left side where the puncture scar has never quite faded. There's a flash of pain, half-remembered sensation mixed with an emotion not about the physical at all, but Kanaan's hands sooth it away. His fingers glide easily on the thin layer of moisture on her skin when he returns to her neck. "But this one I'm not familiar with."

"A tiny slice only, its tale much the same." She lifts an eyebrow, and he answers likewise but questioning. So she continues. "A team mission to Cinlääk because a merchant of the local guilds was said to sell artefacts of the Ancestors, only that no one in the market was willing or able to tell us who."

"So you went and asked the innkeeper, some precious metal exchanging hands?"

"That is what we tried. Only the Genii had been there before."

"You ran into a trap?" Even though he knows the outcome, he looks vaguely worried. It is a little endearing.

"Thankfully, not as such." She is thankful, mostly for the Genii ultimately not boasting a large enough an army to police every single remote planet in that section of their worlds. "But they in turn must have left gold or maybe a few of their projectile weapons, and promised thrice that much for the capture of one of us. I did hear one man muttering about rewards, rather than ransom."

Kanaan frowns. She lays her hand over his, holds it. "They came at us in the bar where we were asking questions, having ordered wine to chat inconspicuously. After disposing of three of the villagers, a rather short one dared to come at me. I broke a glass bottle over his head, and one of the shards cut me." She recalls no pain at all, only her blood-soaked shirt: by the time the rush of the fight had left her body, long after they -- well, Ronon and John and her -- had defeated all of them so swiftly and functionally -- the Team had already returned to Atlantis, where they were well-cared-for medically.

"And that was the worst of it." Kanaan nods slowly, hopefully not expecting more details of a moment in time she can barely recall as memorable. Except, of course --

"No, the worst of that mission was drinking that thin Cinlääki wine."

He grins at her widely, remembrance of his own. "From those shiny but terribly sour berries?"

"Those are the ones, and I wish I did not know. The imported glass bottle they had filled from one of their barrels was worth much more than its content."

Kanaan shakes his head. "If a Wraith were killed for every ghastly fermented beverage I've had during trade and combat on other planets, half the galaxy would be free by now." His voice is dry, but his mouth quirks a little, at the corner, so she takes him by the neck and draws him down to kiss it.

He smiles against her mouth, then kisses her fully.

When she's coming up for air again, she's had time to ponder the idea. "I would think that the so-called beer on Toktlah would account for at least two, perhaps three Wraith."

He runs his free hand through his hair. "Don't think I've ever been there."

"This is because they do not trade; the region around the gate is mostly infertile marshes, wet and, as Rodney would call it, squishy." Teyla makes a face, and Kanaan snickers at it. "There was an energy signature, only we could not locate its source due to the electromagnetic quality of the swamp-fumes. But Ronon charmed a young lady --"

"With trickery?"

"By being himself. After his smiles had made her rather chatty, went to seek the 'twice blessed crystal'. And trespassed on ground holy to the Tok, which naturally did not matter." Kanaan and she look at each other for a moment. "But we did retrieve what we had come for -- like the ones used to conduct energy here by the Ancestors -- ornamenting the crown on the small clay statue of their fiercest god."

Kanaan's eyes darken, and Teyla knows what he feels, only that she cannot give into it because she can't; they have chosen sides,she has for her people, once and for all, until this battle is over.

She catches Kanaan's fingers, laces hers into his. "I can show you scars from much fiercer fights right here." Teyla holds their entwined hands up, lightly nudges his chin.

He snorts, predictably, incredulously.

"Really," she tells him seriously. "because we brought back one of the claw-beasts from Arrnleyf to Rodney one day. Well, one night."

"That's --" Kanaan corrects himself because these are the Terrans, "highly improbable. Not big but such vicious, vicious creatures. Don't they use them on Dagan to kill everything smaller than a chicken?"

"While I am quite a bit larger, the one Rodney fell in love with tried just that on me when we put it in its make-shift transport cage. I still have the scars on my left-hand thumb." Faint silvery lines cross-hatching the pale pad and one, wider, ending in her thumbnail, remain to remind her that tiny can still equal fierce.

They both check, and yes, there they are. Kanaan touches the tip of his tongue to the faint outlines, tickling Teyla enough to she snatches her hand back. "You are incorrigible."

"Not at all; I just keep forgetting you are ticklish."

"You forget a lot of things," she tells him, even though it is not true: Kanaan's memory is excellent; he just chooses to ignore it from time to time, mostly to vex her. "Not that you are the only one. That one time Rodney lost his memories --"

"The one due to Kirsan fever?"

"No; it was just him."

"You mean when he was thrown into Second Childhood?"

It seems faintly preposterous, that these memory losses keep befalling one Rodney McKay at random intervals. "Actually, not that one either. We went to Manaria to renew Bates's old trade agreement, and their local king of thieves -- Hreon was his name, and by ‘was' I mean he is no longer with us -- thought to abduct him to have him tinker with some machinery of theirs. I forget what, as there are so many of such instances. They dosed him with a drug that had this unknown side effect."

Kanaan nods. To a leader and fighter who has seen (often enough provided for) head trauma, amnesia is a not common but certainly known condition. "He forgot you, didn't he? And proceeded to be thoughtlessly rude?"

Teyla sucks in a breath through her teeth. "He babbled about beautiful amazon warriors like me being 'totally welcome to save him any day of the week.'"

His stomach is quivering in suppressed laughter under her fingers, and its shows in his Kanaan's grin too. "So, honest and truthful."

"Oh, shut up." She snaps a finger lightly against his nose.

"Teyla, Teyla, so careless," and his fingers touch her nose in turn, suddenly hesitant. "Did you always have this -- spot, this raised little bump here on the left nostril?"

"That -- right." Teyla taps at it too; it is tiny and red and, yes, a scar. If it is not the smallest one on her body, then it is a strong contender. "A result of our trek into Aodlayana --"

"The legendary abandoned city of the Ancestors?" Now there is awe in his voice, the true kind that holds a good portion of fear and respect too.

"Yes, its gate is in orbit, which is why most of us would not know, nor find it, for it is long, long overgrown by jungle now." She remembers flying lizards that were winged like bats in all colours of the rainbow, their haunting cries echoing across the treetops, and the peculiar smell of the blue-black orchids doubly human-sized (and carefully avoided by the Team). "At first, I thought John was just being himself when he kept muttering about bugs and how he hates them; he does it occasionally on warmer planets where bigger species occur."

"He didn't."

"Alas, no. The insects in question were winged, oily-green, their bites turning out to be quite nasty." Half-automatically, she rubs at her nose. "We were admittedly too taken with the ZPM. It turned out too-depleted in the end, but by the time I went to Carson, there was not much he could do about my bug-bites, except some ointment and kind words. The latter probably helped as much as the former."

Kanaan rubs his nose against hers. "I like it anyway, this token from Aodlayana. Quite the kind of greeting we have gotten used to from the Ancestors."

Teyla snorts; there is unfortunately no other word for it. "Do not let Halling hear you talk like that." If only Kanaan were not so right about this. Their worlds are not what they used to be, and it is not all the fault of the Terrans, much as some factions claim and clamour. So much death and destruction was set in motion millennia ago, with a foolhardiness she is well-familiar with by now, but does not consider original any longer.

"He won't." Kanaan smiles, and it is a little sad for many reasons, so Teyla leans up to kiss him. She does love him as he is, thoughtful but burdened by that in darker hours, but this: this shall not be one of those hours. She knows the meaning of comfort even beyond friendship and the companionship born out of years of travelling together on the very same path, sees it every day in John and Rodney who too have found it by finding each other.

As she tangles her limbs with Kanaan's once more, Teyla knows that the endless space of their galaxy defines him and her as much as their limited strands of life, but here and now, she is with her husband, and he is with her. And that is the only thing that counts.