With this, may your soul relax. May you feel the smile of the sun and the joy in your belly, to let the truth free. Until at last there is peace.
There is an Athosian adage that, translated roughly into Earthen speech, says that the brighter a truth, the more in the dark those who hold it are. Teyla had never been a huge believer in the statement, perhaps because she has always cast an even eye on nearly everything. But in the case of her teammates... she’s never seen a truer example.
And so, when she finds herself standing with Ronon, Rodney, and John at the trading and game stalls on Pechnethe she finds that fate has dealt her a favor.
The game rules, as they’re told them, is very similar to one Teyla knew as a child and among the prizes, in a row of ornate and colorful jars, she sees a light green liquid that reminds her of home and family. Of dishes and foods cooked and consumed when truths needed to be spoken and hearts--especially those guarded--could be at last released.
“It’s like Settlers of Catan, Colonel,” Rodney says with a smile. And beneath the self-assured grin she sees the how Rodney’s smile brightens when it turns John’s way.
“I will take the third player,” Teyla says.
It’s not difficult to win the game and Teyla does so easily, using some of the tricks her father taught her. When at last she is victorious, the choice of prize is a simple one.
“The green jar is beautiful. That will be my prize.”
The woman at the stall hands her the jar and when Teyla’s able to see it more closely, she’s able to confirm her suspicion that, indeed, she’s won the one thing that could possibly shed light on John and Rodney’s hearts. Recognition flashes on Ronon’s face and Teyla has to talk quickly to cut off the comments from both the gamemaker and Ronon. She feels slightly guilty, keeping John and Rodney in the dark, but she knows this is what has to be done.
“We’re sharing the prizes, right? Splitting the spoils of war?” John asks, putting on his best smile, and it’s one that Teyla recognizes instantly as one Torren has learned and has tried many times on her.
She smiles, as she does with her child, and tells him no. When she says only Rodney was the one to agree with him, John turns and grins so openly at Rodney that she wonders how it is that the two of them don’t see.
“You’re gonna use it on them, aren’t you?” Ronon asks later as they dance around one another in the boxing ring.
Teyla doesn’t answer, instead landing a right hook to his jaw, drawing some blood. When Ronon grins, his teeth are stained pink.
“You totally are. Count me in. They’re getting ridiculous.”
By the time they board the jumper to return to the Athosian settlement and then back to Atlantis, both John and Rodney’s arms are laden with gifts, she is in possession of both the jar of trenka and a ZPM. Ronon has quickly fallen in love with his prize from the boxing match, a pony that she should have realized would be a gift for Torren.
It’s two nights later, December 24 on the Stargate Command calendar, that her plan is set into motion. Before her teammates arrive, she measures the sweet-smelling trenka into the cookies, stirring the mixture and offering thoughts of peace and love as she does so. She remembers back to a movie that Elizabeth once showed her on a “girls’ night” about a woman who cooked with emotion, pouring love and desire or sadness into her dishes. She thinks about Kanaan and reminds herself to set some cookies aside to share with him in the morning.
When her teammates arrive bearing gifts, she greets them. Ronon hands her his gift first, and inside the wrapping she discovers a tea set.
“I just thought,” Ronon says and his grin finishes the sentence -- they’re in this together.
She makes tea and places the cookies on the table if front of them as the present-giving continues and the warm headiness of the trenka starts to take effect. The banter between the four of them grows even more easy and Teyla can see how Rodney and John are beginning to lean toward one another.
And then Rodney giggles and for the first time in what has felt like too long--since before the return to the Pegasus Galaxy from Earth--there is pure, unbroken, uninhibited laughter. First between John and Rodney and then Ronon’s deep belly laugh and her own follow and before any of them can stop it the words begin.
"It's so unfair that I have to be on the beautiful people team," Rodney says before he stops himself. His eyes dart to Ronon and herself, but it’s on John’s face that they linger.
When John offers a comment about his intelligence, it’s not to her, nor to Ronon that he’s talking. There are still presents left to be shared, and perhaps more words, but their conversation--the conversation--is beginning.
It doesn’t take a ceremonial Athosian concoction to see that John’s present to Rodney--a personal shield--is a declaration of love. ‘Popping the question,’ Teyla can hear Lorne saying in her head. And it looks like just possibly Rodney is realizing that as well.
“What did you do to us?” John asks. Teyla can hear hurt in his voice, and for a very long moment she wonders if she did the right thing.
“My prize from Pechnethe is something called trenka. It’s traditional on Athos,” she starts to say and Ronon is there to back her up.
“It lowers your inhibitions and makes you tell the truth, it’s --” he says just before John runs for the door.
“Why on Earth, no, no, I know we’re not... Why?” Rodney asks, honestly confused and, as he reaches for his chair, lightheaded.
“John mentioned something once about ‘spiking the punch,’ and I thought it would be something that would be good for us to share.” It’s the truth, albeit not the total truth. They are so close that Teyla just wants to grab Rodney by the shoulders and shake him. “I thought no harm would come from it.”
“It’s not something you should do. It... He... John’s not going to forgive you easily for this. You know how he doesn’t share...” Rodney’s hand loosens from the chair and Teyla can see a calm pass over his face. “Wow, nice comedown. That’s really mellow.”
“It makes people feel peaceful, too. Why do you think it’s great for family gathering and celebrations?” Ronon stretches his legs out and offers a relaxed grin that diffuses Rodney further.
“I never intended... Please tell John I am sorry.”
“I’ll tell him.” Rodney places a hand on her shoulder and Teyla bows her head. When his forehead touches hers, she feels at peace and knows this is right.
“They’re going to be okay,” Ronon promises after Rodney leaves. “But I think you might want to give Rodney that ZPM just in case.”
Teyla laughs and grabs another cookie.
Four days later Teyla goes to Rodney’s lab and sees John touch Rodney’s face, cupping Rodney’s cheek as they lean lean into each other. And as they brush their lips together, Teyla's is reminded of that athosian adage again. She knows that it may take John a while longer to forgive her actions, but the brightness that surrounds both Rodney and John now is more than worth any price.