The flames of the cook fire flare and dance in the wind off the sea, and Teyla lets the firelight wash over her, feels the breeze, smells the traditional spices the Athosians use. She can hear the voices rise and fall around her, and she smiles as she hears a high, clear voice begin to sing a hymn of gratitude to the Ancestors.
Teyla is grateful for this moment, for the time spent with her people as they settle into their new homes, but she feels as though she’s being torn in two. She has been training to be a leader of her people almost since birth. Until now, she has never been separated from them.
But now, with her people on the mainland, and those of Earth on Atlantis, Teyla must choose, and it’s harder than she’d ever imagined.
She will spend as much time as she can with the Athosians, of course, but she believes that the best chance for freedom from the Wraith lies in Atlantis. She believes she is doing what is best for them even now.
Halling is more than capable of taking her place, but Teyla still can’t believe she’s stepping down. It’s the right decision, but Teyla still aches at the thought of leaving her people behind.
She is no longer a leader in the traditional sense; she is now a member of a team, bound to follow the orders of Dr. Weir and Major Sheppard.
“You have been quiet this evening,” Halling says softly, coming to sit next to Teyla beside the fire.
The Athosians already have crops in the ground, and they are talking about trading for livestock. She is proud of them, proud of their resiliency and ability to adapt. Those qualities will serve her well on Atlantis, and Teyla is grateful for those lessons.
“I have missed you all,” Teyla responds.
Halling settles next to her, stretching out his long legs. Teyla glances over at him, appreciating his solid, familiar presence. He is one of her oldest friends, one of her most dependable allies. There is no one Teyla trusts more.
“And we have missed you,” he says after a moment. “But we know that you are doing important work among those from Earth.”
Teyla shakes her head. “Not everyone agrees.”
“Oh, there are always those who will harbor ill-will,” Halling agrees genially. “But now that we have our own space again, and can plant and harvest, those hard feelings will subside. We will plant and harvest and trade, and in time, no one will remember how we were treated on Atlantis.”
“I am sorry for that,” Teyla says, “but they were not wrong.”
“No, not wrong, but not right either.” Halling tips back his head to look at the stars. “You were not there when Dr. Weir refused us the right to conduct our ritual for the dead.”
Teyla does not reply immediately. “Although Dr. Weir would not admit to it, I imagine that part of that refusal was superstition.”
“I agree,” Halling replies. “They are not a spiritual people, Teyla. They do not always understand us.”
Teyla sighs. “No, they do not.” It’s one of the reasons that she had immediately felt homesick for her people.
Although she believes that she has been called to be a bridge between the Athosians and those on Atlantis, Teyla feels as though she’s been set adrift, trapped between two very different worlds.
“But they offer the best hope for defeating the Wraith,” Halling continues, as though reading her thoughts. “And you are the best person to bridge the gap between our peoples.”
Teyla nods, but she does not speak of how much she misses them, how much she misses knowing her purpose with absolute faith. She trusts Dr. Weir and Major Sheppard, but they do not always make the choices that she would have made, and Teyla has not yet resigned herself to following.
She doesn’t quite know what this new life of hers will look like, nor does she fully understand what this new role will be. All Teyla knows is that she has lost her primary identity, and she’s not sure it’s by her choice. Sometimes it feels as though this life has chosen her.
Teyla will see it through, however; she will find a new identity as a go-between, rather than as a leader. It will just take time.