The temple gong sounds, and the Qu'lon chatter amongst themselves as they spill out of the temple, flowing around Teyla and the rest of the team like water around stone. Her legs feel leaden, and she can see the weight of the day written also in the deep crinkles around John's eyes, Rodney's hunched shoulders, and the curve of Ronon's back. She tucks the coins they were given by the high priest into her coat pocket; they will need them at the Inn for rooms.
A flash of yellow catches her eye as she walks: the banner of an herbalist's shop waving in the breeze. A flash of memory from their last trip pulls her up short. "John," she says, nodding at the tiny shop, "I wish to see if they have a tea I need."
John's lips tighten, and he motions to Ronon and Rodney to stop. "Can't you do that later?"
"Like after dinner?" Rodney adds.
"There is no need for you three to stop." None of her teammates have forgiven themselves for what happened on New Athos, and she is tired, hungry for even a moment alone. "The Qu'lon are a gentle people."
"It's not that I don't trust them--"
"I will be fine," she says sternly.
He rubs the back of his neck. "I guess we can wait a bit. You want us to come in?"
"I have traded on many worlds, John. I can buy my own tea."
He glances at Rodney and Ronon, then rocks back on his feet. "We'll wait."
"Yes, fine." Rodney says, barging between them and slinging his laptop onto the wooden bench in front of the shop, sliding down to sit next to it. "I'll be right here, suffering from hunger and exhaustion until you come out."
"Looks like a good place," Ronon says as he leans against the doorframe. "Shady."
"See?" says John, and smiles. "We're right here if you need anything."
When she pushes the door open, a bell rings inside the shop, filling the air with its small, high sound. She has been in many herbalist shops as an Athosian trader, but with Atlantis's medicines, she has had little need of them lately. Still, the shop is familiar, gleaming reds and golds in the late afternoon light, a long counter at the back with the most treasured ingredients behind it. She closes her eyes and breathes deep, the myriad scents tickling her nose pleasantly; she slowly exhales, a smile creeping onto her lips as she opens her eyes. Growing up, medicine smelled like this, like earth and grass and the dark bark of the broad-leaved Tal'un tree. The Atlantis infirmary does not smell nearly as pleasant.
She wanders past the baskets filled with dried otark leaves, and the smaller baskets with feathery young herant tails, dried before they started to sprout. She suspects what she's looking for will be along the back wall, in the glittering canisters. Alunt is hard to grow, and tea made from the gray leaves of the old wood are widely known to provide aid during the first trimester.
"Good day, traveler," the shopkeeper says, stepping out of a work room. "What whispers are you hearing on the wind?" She is an old woman in a dark blue kerchief and homespun, wearing a necklace of alternating blue and gray stones upon her chest. Her bare arms are strong, despite her age, and her hands covered in a light dusting of powder.
"Where are your teas?" Teyla replies.
"We have many," the woman says as she tilts her head. "Something to entice a lover, perhaps?"
Teyla laughs. "I think there was too much enticing."
"Ah!" The woman nods. "If you need something to hasten your--"
"I am well past that," Teyla sighs, and rubs her hand over her belly. It is still so hard to believe that a child lives within her. "I wish to know if you have gray-leaved Alunt tea, that is all."
The shopkeeper purses her lips and stares at Teyla. "I have some Rubanyan, which costs far less than Alunt. Perhaps you would care to try it?"
"Do you have the Alunt or not?"
"A small amount only, good mistress." She holds her palms up and open. "There have been no traders in a long while, and I can get no more. I have held it aside for temple use."
"Perhaps this will loosen your stock." She slides one of the coins she was given across the counter, cutting through the shopkeeper's speech. Tiredness floods through her, making her long for the inn with its clean beds and cool water; the once-comforting smells seem overstrong, suddenly, as her stomach takes a turn for the worse.
The woman's eyes get large, so they seem the size of small plates; she leaves the coin lying on the counter as if it would burn through the wood. "Of course, good mistress." Turning to the canisters, she plucks one from the top shelf, opening it and weighing out the gray tea before pouring it into a small muslin pouch and tying it shut.
Their fingers brush as she hands the bag to Teyla. "I meant no offense."
Feeling a little ashamed, Teyla nods, and slides the coin back into her pocket, tucking the muslin bag in next to it. "I understand. I am sorry I did not have time to bargain with you."
The woman shakes her head. "I have already heard about your day."
The small bell chimes; Ronon is standing at the door, his gaze darting around the room until he spots her. "Sheppard is taking bets on whether you'll get out of here before the sun sets."
"I am done," she says and nods at the shopkeeper, feeling herself more at peace than she had when she first entered the shop. As she joins her teammates outside, she smiles to herself; skimming her hand over her belly, she anticipates some time to herself and a soothing cup of tea.