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Tea Ceremony

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Rodney as the kind of person who could be wear her patience thin one moment and then surprise her with a thoughtful gesture in the next. When she rebuked him for his lack of diplomacy, for making potentially incendiary comments, or generally acting without consideration for the people around him he sometimes look around him in confusion, perhaps even a little hurt, which he would brush off with a chastising remark. She had long presumed his attitude stemmed from a poor upbringing, until she met Jeannie. Though perhaps she did Rodney a disservice as many first time parents made mistakes that they rectified with a second child.

Today she stepped back in both shock, surprise, and warm gratitude as Rodney entered her quarters with a tea tray. She watched him falter for a moment before he placed it on the low table.

The tea was perfect, exactly as she loved it though she could not recall ever telling him of her preference for the strong, bitter brew that John would call 'bracing' tea. She smiled when Rodney took a sip after serving both of them the stout brew, aware from his expression that it was not to his liking, and yet he nodded politely and took another sip after saying the ritual words of solace. After the ritual was complete she thought he would get up and leave but instead he lingered and for the first time since she could recall he listened while she spoke, haltingly at first of her parents and of the family and friends she had lost to the Wraith, whether directly by culling or indirectly as her people moved constantly to hide from the Wraith.

"The Athosian once numbered in the millions but now we are a dying race of barely 200. All of our history for the past ten thousand years is preserved in the minds and hearts of those who have survived, passed down from generation to generation to every child in the hope that we will be remembered by those who survive long enough to pass our history to their children."

"What about the... eh... ruins?"

She smiled. "For most of us our history starts at the end of the old world. Only the songs and rituals of the old world remain though most hold little meaning in our new world."

"You sang for... the old woman."

"You remember." Teyla smiled

He huffed. "Hard to forget when we were only minutes from being either culled or blown into space dust. Um... the ceremony was recorded by the sensors. I could get you a copy... or not?"

It had never occurred to her that the ceremony might have been recorded on the Atlantis surveillance system. To hold a copy and share it among her people would be joyous.

"The Ring Ceremony is a ritual from the old world to celebrate a long life and peaceful passing. Her name was Charin, and she cared for me after I lost my parents."

Teyla smiled and talked of the strong-willed woman who had helped to raise her, and then of her parents and the older sister she had lost to the Wraith. She spoke of carefree days, playing games in the forest, learning to hunt and to trade. Teyla laughed when she spoke of Charin's frustrating attempts to teach her how to cook Tuttle Root soup, and Rodney listened quietly, laughing with her. Teyla was startled to realize the whole evening had passed in quiet companionship.

After walking Rodney to her door she paused and bowed her head to him, waiting until he leaned in and rested his forehead against hers.

"Thank you," she murmured, aware that for once she had been the one counseled, allowed to talk through her memories, both the good and the sad, instead of being the one who listened. Rodney had followed the ritual perfectly.

"Well... yes. I'll just..." he indicated towards the corridor behind him.

Teyla watched him walk away, her heart feeling lighter than it had in years. She made a silent promise to herself. The next time Rodney vexed her with his lack of manners and sharpness of tongue she would close her eyes and remember this evening in the hope there would be many more like this one.

END