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Box of Dreams, Part V

Box of Dreams, Part IV


“Oh my God! Are you okay?”


Teyla looked at her hands pressed against the ground, and the strands of soft grass springing between her spread fingers. For a moment there was a surreal feeling about it, like all of it hadn’t been there just a moment ago. There were voices and laughter around her, and when she moved the ground seemed to move with her. 


“Uh—” she managed, disoriented, and the voice next to her laughed. 


“Okay, no more spinning for you.” She looked at a young man’s smiling face, and for a moment she had to focus to remember who he was.  


“Aiden.” She let out a half laugh, a breathless one, but it didn’t have anything to do with her losing balance and apparently falling to the ground. She had to think of his name, and then it felt like she remembered it after it was forgotten. But it was Aiden, and she knew who he was. 


“Don’t you Aiden me,” he smiled. “You fell and hit your head. No more crazy dancing,” he said. “I don’t care about what tradition says,” he said. 


Teyla sat up and pretended to frown, annoyed, when John showed up. 


“What happened?” 


“Uh, nothing, Sir,” Aiden supplied. “She just likes to party too much.”


“Who’d tell, huh?” John grinned. Teyla rolled her eyes at them.


“I think Elizabeth would say now that I am a ‘klutz’.” Teyla smiled when John looked at her. 


“What did you do?” he smiled back and reached his hand out. 


“I think I tripped over my feet.” She let him pull her to her up and hold her forearm until she was certain she was steady on her feet again. 


“I thought that was an attempt to fly,” Aiden teased her. 


“Ford!” someone shouted from the crowd nearby and Aiden smiled at Teyla and John. 


“It’s a great party, Teyla. Apparently I’m wanted.” He grinned, waved and walked away. Teyla watched after him, observing the bounce in his step and felt a pang of sadness – she wasn’t certain why. She remembered organizing the harvest celebrations, or party as Aiden and John referred to it. 


“Uh, hey —” John crooked a smile and pushed his hands into his pockets; and Teyla caught how he looked at her. From the top of her head to her toes, and she felt that warm feeling in her cheeks as she smoothed down the dress she was wearing. She smiled. “Wanna go for a walk?”


“Certainly,” she said easily. They headed away from the festivities and people celebrating and towards the Mainland shore. Teyla turned to glance over her shoulder, and she could see her own people mixed with John’s, sharing happiness and joy. She smiled, wistfully, as something pressed against her heart. Maybe someday her people wouldn’t have to be confined to themselves, their small community which depended on knowledge and ability to move before the Wraith found them. Some day they might have a home, one place to belong to, and friends to belong with. She looked at John then and felt a multitude of things — she was grateful and happy, but she was also hopeful, excited and filled with longing. John glanced at her, and his expression seemed to echo her thoughts, and she went along with the spur of the moment sentiment that filled her chest. She reached out to hold onto his fingers with hers. 


John looked at her again, with a question in his eyes, but he didn’t pull away. 


“Are you sure?” he asked softly. 


Teyla nodded slowly and held his gaze. There were thoughts at the back of her mind, thoughts that reminded her of those vague and overcautious concerns that simply should not be heeded every single time. She liked being with John, she liked that he was different, that he acted on his beliefs. He was a warrior, and with him it was easier to be one herself. He represented everything new and hopeful. She squeezed his fingers tighter, and yes, she wanted this, not only for all the things he represented to her — he made her feel hopeful again, and she wanted that. She let the notion settle in her mind, that she wanted him


“I am certain,” she answered. 


“We’re different,” he said as he looked at their hands. “Our — our people are different. There’ll be —”


“I know,” she said, calm and perhaps too confident, but she did not care right now. She always cared, about everything else before caring about herself. Wasn’t she entitled to a little bit of selfishness too? 


“You will have to work on a different team,” John said as he slowly turned to face her. Her smile fell a little and she frowned. They had talked about this, but only in the abstract, discussing it as a possibility that could happen on an expedition with a limited number of people who would eventually start to crave human contact. She understood the premise of non fraternization rules, but in an environment like theirs, Teyla found it impractical at best. 


“I do not wish to be put on a different team,” she stated stubbornly. 


“Teyla —”


“This is not Earth any more, John,” she admonished. 


“We still have rules,” he said. “And there are still reasons for them.”


“Sometimes a new situation requires new rules,” she pressed. He looked at her like he was about to agree, like he only needed one solid reason to hold onto. “We have lived in this galaxy since — since forever. Since my people remember, and it has always been like this. With rules like yours we would not have lasted very long.” She swallowed, trying to explain what she meant in a way that his mind and conscience would accept and agree to. “You cannot expect people not to form … attachments to each other, and then when they do, separate them as if they did not care for each other in the first place. It does not work like that in reality.”


“It’s a risk,” he countered. 


“Everything in this place is a risk. Even life itself,” she answered.


He nodded, looking thoughtfully at their hands. Then a slow, teasing smile spread across his face and transformed his appearance; this was the John she knew and admired and longed for. 


“Are you forming an attachment?” he asked then, lightly. 


“I might be,” she allowed a new smile, even though something didn’t feel quite right. She refused to grapple with that feeling, though. The night was mild and warm, their people were happy, and she believed they could be happy as well. Together. They had been feeling their way around each other and this for months, and she thought she would never get anywhere in her life if she had not fought for it. She did not want to leave the team or stop working with John just because they were growing attached to each other and acknowledging it. She had felt attached to him before, and in her opinion saying that she was unbiased before holding his hand like this — and knowing where this was about to lead — it would have been a lie. 


The way he looked at her made her think that he thought the very same thing. Then he smiled, and it was a little bit smug and very content. It turned into a grin as he let his hand slide more safely into hers. 


“We’ll see how it goes,” he said and shrugged a little. “And adjust accordingly.”


“Sounds like a wise plan,” Teyla agreed, allowing him to pull her closer as they walked down the shoreline. 






“I have found something,” Kanaan’s voice startled Rodney and he nearly dropped the data pad he was holding. 


“For heaven’s sake! Not like that —”


“Doctor McKay,” Kanaan paused, probably attempting to remain calm and collected, but Rodney noticed how the man’s hand was shaking. Zelenka looked up from the console he was working on, as did Jennifer. Doctor Brie turned around as well, and they were all staring at Kanaan, who didn’t look like himself at all. “Doctor, if I am correct, then we — we might not have much time left.” Kanaan’s face paled. 


“Okay, what is that?” Rodney certainly didn’t need more bad news. They weren’t making much progress, other than discovering that there was a way to shut the damn machine off — but if they did that, there was no telling if Teyla could survive. 


“I believe this is a journal. And it seems it belonged to a man called Janus,” Kanaan said. 


“What? Are you —”


“Doctor,” Kanaan interrupted him, which was uncharacteristic for the usually mild mannered Athosian. “Janus stated that there is a way for another person to enter the machine. He said that this other should serve as a guide and lead … lead the first person out of it.” Kanaan looked at Teyla, deceptively calm inside the pod. “In order to exit the machine, the person must make a choice. Choose to change something about their past, that is what Janus had written here. This is what he wanted to do for Pandora, he wanted to help her with the choice, but after she trapped herself the council would not allow —”


Rodney was reading through the text quickly, and yes, what Kanaan was saying was the truth. Or at least, that was what Janus had written in his notes, detailing the way to connect “a guide” with the mind machine, the way the process was supposed to work, the choice that had to be made, and then the final note, the thing that had made Kanaan panic. 


“She has been in there for two days now, has she not?” Kanaan asked. 


“Forty two hours,” Rodney said and looked up at the other man. 


“Janus noted that after fifty hours —” Kanaan started but didn’t finish. Rodney could see Zelenka and Jennifer coming to stand behind Kanaan, and how panic started to show on both of their faces. 


“What?” Zelenka asked. 


“What happened after fifty hours?”  It was Jennifer this time. Rodney looked at her, then at Zelenka, and then at Doctor Brie, still standing in front of a handwritten wall. Then he looked at Kanaan and felt the absolute dread filling his every nerve and muscle. 


“— Pandora was dead,” Rodney finished.






In retrospect it had been easy, and even predictable, but three days ago, while they were walking along the shore, Teyla did not see it. Or rather, she refused to see how something like this could happen between them so quickly. 


The sound of Wraith darts flying over her head and the knowledge of their closeness filled her with the most horrible sensation she knew. It was dreadfully cold, spreading through her chest as if she had inhaled smoke. John was tense next to her, and she held onto the co pilot chair with her left hand. They were hidden in plain sight, inside of a cloaked jumper, and even though the Wraith couldn’t see them or find them with their sensors, Teyla was holding her breath. 


Until she heard the shouts and screams. She looked at John, who looked frustrated, and she understood why — John wasn’t a man one would send into an eye of the storm, while ordering him not to weather it, and she was exactly the same. But what bothered her even more was the knowledge that they could help, they could save someone, and he was refusing to do it. 


“John,” she started. She understood the orders, yes, and their reason and logic, but she also had a conscience and a sense of duty, because here she had friends. These people were not just strangers — to her none of the people who lived in this unfortunate galaxy were — and they had both the time and means to help them. Right now. 


“No, Teyla. You know the orders,” he cut her off, because he knew what she was going to say. 


“They are people that I know. They are my friends —”


“And you have orders to stay put, just like I do.” He looked at her, angry and torn, but she was losing patience, she was losing her understanding. He first promised that he would help Orin and his family, and now he was telling her about strategic reasons not to. She was starting to feel so incredibly angry with him, and she could not believe that he was about to disappoint her like this. “There is no time —”


“John, what happened to not leaving people behind? Does that only include the people you deem worthy?” 


He did not answer immediately, but when he did turn to face her, his face was barely recognizable. 


“Teyla, I have told you there are rules, and that they’re there for a reason! If Ford was with me —”


“If Ford was with you, then what? He would have agreed to abandon the people who need help? He would not have expectations of you that I have?”


“Exactly, because in this situation you can’t have expectations like that! Right now I am your commanding officer, not your —”


“Not my what? Not my what?! Do you expect me to treat you as two different people, according to —” 


Her thought was interrupted by shouts for help, and Teyla looked at him angrily, standing up from her chair. 




“I am not going to sit here and watch,” she said, and with this she was not leaving him much choice. John followed her toward the puddle jumper hatch and then out. 


The darkness that swallowed them outside was an elusive cover at best. Teyla could hear the sound of a Wraith dart flying over her head, she could see another in the distance, and its horrible beam which stole human beings from their homes and tore families apart. She could not see very well, but she heard voices and shouts not too far away. 


Teyla looked over at John, hidden behind a nearby tree. Once outside he had transformed into a soldier with a goal, and he was signing with his hand for her to follow him. She did, and they made their way through the sparse trees, until they found a group of eight. They were not Orin’s family, and Orin was not there, but they were people nevertheless. 


“We are here to help,” Teyla said as she neared the group. A woman took her hand, and Teyla could feel she was shaking with fear. “We can save you, we can save you.” Those words were powerful and heavy, but right now she did not care. She had that power now, had she not? Was there any other purpose for her fight alongside John and his people, other than making a difference? The only difference she wanted to make was saving lives, snatching them away from the hands of the Wraith, and this was what she was going to do. “Have you seen Orin?” she asked then. 


“He was behind us.” The woman still held onto Teyla. “Just behind those trees —”


Teyla looked at John, but she was not going to ask him anything this time. She was going to go, find Orin and save him. John did not say anything, he just looked at her, and for a single moment, she thought she saw disappointment in his eyes that equaled hers. She swallowed hard and turned her back, heading toward the group of trees the scared woman pointed to. 


She did not run, but she tried to move as fast as she could. It was dark, and there were noises all around. She could hear something in front of her, hushed sounds that could have easily been human beings attempting to hide their fear and panic, and she walked as quietly as she could. 


Teyla moved through the trees, and her certainty increased — and finally, they were there in front of her. Teyla recognized them and did the quick count; realizing how great her relief was when she found that nobody was missing. Orin smiled and uttered a soundless ‘thank you’ and she was about to take his hand when a sound coming from behind her back nearly made her jump. 


A Wraith dart with its beam, flying low and straight toward — 


Toward John. Teyla turned around in time to see the white flash covering the path she just had crossed, moving toward the spot where she left John, she heard the shouts, she heard John’s voice yelling at people to run. A moment later there was nothing more — no commotion, no more voices —


— No more John. 


There was only darkness all around her. 


Your time is up.







“You need to understand why we can’t —” Richard Woolsey began to speak, but Kanaan was not going to let him finish. He knew what the other man would say, that his suggestion was too risky, too dangerous and everything these people wanted to avoid. Kanaan understood this, he did, but the only known alternative wasn’t acceptable. 


“We are running out of time,” he said calmly, but there was darkness in his voice. Rodney looked uncomfortable and frustrated, John Sheppard looked about the same way Kanaan was feeling. “You might want to take into consideration why the alternative choice is not acceptable to me,” he said and looked then at Sheppard directly, finding understanding on the other man’s face. Kannan did not know Sheppard very well, but he knew that Teyla trusted him. Teyla believed in him, which was a testament solid enough. Sheppard nodded slowly and then looked at Richard Woolsey. 


“I agree,” he said. 


“Are you crazy?” Rodney seemed frightened more than anything else, and Kanaan remembered what Teyla told him about Elizabeth Weir, how she had been hurt and what Rodney did to revive her. He could understand the hesitation, and the guilt behind it, but he could not accept it. 


“Doctor McKay,” Kanaan gave him a firm look, “I understand that it is customary on Earth to let the loved ones decide for a person who is critically ill and can not make further decisions on their treatment? Such as —” he said, pausing slightly, “ending their life if there is no more hope for curing them?”


Rodney just stared. Everyone was quiet, but their expressions were different, they were saying different things. Kanaan knew, though, that Sheppard and Ronon were going to support his intentions.  


Then, surprisingly, Doctor Keller looked up from her data pad. 


“Rodney, he is right,” she said, looking at the scientist and nobody else inside the room. 


“Jennifer —”


“He has every right to make this decision,” she furthered, glancing at Sheppard, whose jaw was firmly set. He looked like he was going through an internal conflict, intense and painful, finally unfolding his crossed arms and setting his palms against the table surface. 


“I agree,” he said, looking briefly at Woolsey and then at Rodney. “Just like you did.”


“Sheppard —”


“You and I were the two highest ranking people at that time. Either of us could have made a decision. You made yours before I had the chance to make mine,” Sheppard said, and Kanaan had a good guess what they were talking about. Nobody was asking questions though it seemed that everyone present understood what was going on. Rodney was holding his breath, then he slowly released it, and it seemed that a great weight was lifted off his chest. He still seemed upset and worried. 


“I don’t want to experiment on her,” he started. 


“It is not going to be an experiment,” Kanaan replied calmly. He was certain of this, because he was determined, because nothing but success was an option. 


“You don’t know how the machine will affect you —”


“I know that it will attempt to make me regret,” Kanaan said. “I do not deny that I have regrets. Everyone does, is it not true? I believe it will not be able to affect me in the same way as it did with Teyla,” he paused, carefully observing Rodney. 


“That all sounds great,” John started, “but it’s not a guarantee you’ll be able to help her in any way.”


“Sheppard,” Kanaan’s tone was somewhat softer, “have you ever known anyone so well, to know the exact words to say and hurt them? Or make them laugh? Or what their greatest fears were, or even regrets?”


“I —” John begun, but remained silent, and Kanaan decided he would not press him further. It seemed apparent to him that he at least knew what Kanaan meant to say. “Nobody knows her better than I do,” he continued, “because we have known each other our entire lives. Because I have cared for her my entire life. I know her better than any intelligent machine ever could.”


Sheppard seemed pacified with that answer. There was something intense in Doctor McKay’s eyes when he looked from Kanaan to Richard Woolsey, whose face wore a faint trace of defeat. 


“I’m with him on this one,” Sheppard said then, looking at Woolsey. 


“He is her next of kin,” McKay supplied and shared a look with Sheppard. The nod shared between them was almost unnoticeable. 


 “Very well,” Woolsey said.  “You’ve made your point.  I just hope you’re as certain as you seem.” 





Rodney took a deep breath as he looked at Kanaan. Asking him again if he was certain was almost like asking if the Earth had to keep spinning around its axis. Instead he focused on the practical aspect of the task at hand and started lecturing Kanaan about technicalities. 


“This is it,” Rodney said. Kanaan nodded, opening his palms, ready to place them onto the designated spot on the control panel placed on the wall next to the pod. “You will … find yourself in her mind. What you’ll have to do —”


“—Is manipulate her mind. Yes, I understand that,” Kanaan said. Rodney set his jaw and started typing on the panel in front of Kanaan, and upon finishing, he looked at the Athosian. 


“And help her reach a decision. A choice, that’s how everything stops.” Rodney said. “Well,” he took a deep breath. “Good luck,” he said. Kanaan nodded, then looked at John. 


“I will bring her back,” he said and then placed both of his hands onto the plate. 






Teyla felt her hand slip off the stone and she fell down the slope of the hill. The soil beneath her feet was turning into mud mixed with grass and sharp rocks. The rain was starting to fall heavily, and she could hear the sounds of the chase behind her. 


Fear pounded in her ears, and she pushed herself up, onto her legs with her thin arms. They liked to take the children, she knew this, they always took the children first. She didn’t know where her mother had gone, but she knew her father had been somewhere ahead. Her legs were shaking, and it had to be because of fear, for she had never been weak. 


She ran forward towards the trees when a Wraith ship flew over her head. Teyla reached the top of the hill and saw her father in the middle of a clearing, looking at the sky, toward where the Wraith ship had headed. Then he looked at Teyla, whose legs were still shaking, and whose head was spinning. Behind her there were voices calling for help. She looked at her father with the entire hope of a twelve-year-old girl; they were almost inside the woods, near the caves, they could hide there, they could —  


She knew. She somehow knew what her father was going to do; that he would walk past her and toward the runners, and face two Wraith chasing after them. Torren was strong, he was a good fighter, he could take two Wraith; but he couldn’t take ten, and Teyla knew there would be ten more when a foolish Athosian made himself such an easy target. She would see it, see them take him, take his life right there. So she did the one thing she could, the one thing that an orphaned child longed for in nights that followed (nights that still didn’t happen, but she knew they would, and she couldn’t let them happen) — 


“No!” she screamed as her father started to walk towards her. “No! You have to run! You have to run for me!!”


He turned around, slowly, too slowly, and reached out his hand. Everything felt like a dream, a long and tiring dream. All she had to do was reach, take his hand and it would all be over; but when she thought of that she could see faces in her mind, unknown to her but familiar; men in black and grey uniforms, a city floating on the water, shiny under bright sun. A baby in what seemed to be her own arms. 


Just before she was about to reach, something pulled her away. 





You are not supposed to be here.


Teyla opened her eyes, realizing that she was standing among the trees. She looked at her hand, but it seemed somehow different than just a moment ago. She turned around, certain that there was something going on, but the woods around her were quiet. Her heart was pounding, and she was out of breath, and her hands ached, almost like she had scratched them or had been climbing sharp rocks. And then — 


“Teyla!” there was a shout behind her back and she turned around. The voice was familiar, and she could see a male figure moving towards her. He was still on the clearing, which also looked as if she had been here before. She started to walk to the edge of the woods, until she was near the man — tall, lean, walking comfortably towards her with a crooked grin on his face. His hair was sticking out in every direction. John, her mind supplied and just when she wanted to move, he stopped, gripping his gun tightly. 


“Who’s there?” he shouted, and that was when Teyla noticed the others — Rodney, Ronon, Carson — she counted under her breath. John crossed the distance to her in several long strides, and other men approached as well. Suddenly she felt okay — she felt safe surrounded by them, not because she was unable to physically protect herself. No. They were here, and her mind supplied that this was okay, because she belonged. 


Then, she could see that someone was approaching them from the opposite direction. Someone was walking among the trees, and they waited quietly, until the person came close enough. 


“I will not hurt you,” a voice said. It sounded old and tired, and it was difficult imagining that someone like that could pose a threat, but things like that were never certain. Teyla gripped her own weapon, feeling the familiar shape and weight of metal in her hands. She was aware of it, of her uniform, her boots; the way she looked just like John and Rodney and Carson did, and it felt right. She looked at Ronon and the sight of him, his different clothes and hair and weapon, it felt right too. When she turned to look at the trees again, the man was emerging from between them – tall, grey haired and still strong looking, despite his age. He looked familiar, the lines of his face felt like she had known them once, but she had displaced them, lost them somewhere. 


Only when she looked at his eyes did she recognize him. 


“Father?” Teyla’s voice was barely a whisper, and her friends all looked at her. 


The time and space and everything around her felt somehow askew, artificial and almost cold. She turned to look at John and then at Rodney but the sensation of safety and belonging with them was gone. She looked at her father then, the man who talked and walked and looked the way an older Torren might have, as she fought fractured images that filtered through her mind — Rodney’s dead body, the Wraith catching John, Charin lying still and soundless on a hospital bed. 


“I ran for you,” her father said then and smiled, but it only made his face look sadder. Around them the woods felt silent and a feeling of anxiety grew inside Teyla’s chest, pressing from inside out. She felt like she would fall apart. 


“Why are you here all alone?” she asked, not completely certain why. It seemed important, yes, it was important, because he shouldn’t have been alone, shouldn’t he? If he — oh, Ancestors, if he remained alive, he should have been with them, with her. 


“You know why,” he said, and even though he was close enough for her to see the lines on his face, to relive the memory of his voice, she didn’t know. 


Except she did. 


It occurred to her at the same time she opened her mouth. 


He left. 


He ran.  He ran, for her, and everyone whom he left behind had been captured. Teyla reached this realization and his look only confirmed it. Her own father was unable to look her in the eye, and this was not — 


This was not something he would ever decide. He could never live with this. 


“No,” Teyla whispered softly.  ”No.”






“What happens now?”


“Now, my daughter, you have to choose.” The voice was soft and familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Teyla didn’t know where she was — she just knew that she was someplace safe. It was dark around her and pleasantly dry. When her eyes adjusted, Teyla realized there was a door at the opposite end of the room — open and calling her towards the light that was glowing beyond. 


“Choose what? I do not understand,” she said. 


“You have been choosing all this time. Can you not remember?” the voice asked and she could feel the pull of familiarity. 


“Father?” she called, because it sounded a lot like his voice. Almost, not quite — but it was warm, and it reminded her of him. 


“Yes, my daughter?” the voice asked.


“Why am I here?”


“You are here because you have to choose.”


“But —” she stopped mid thought. She could vaguely remember, like she had lived different lives in the span of just several hours and things that happened to her, but more importantly, things that happened to others. “How do I choose, father?”


“Think about the choices you were making so far,” he said gently. 


She did. She looked toward the door; she wanted to walk there and walk through, but she couldn’t move. Elizabeth — Elizabeth had been lost and Teyla wished there was something they could have done differently, keep her with them, fix her later. They could, Rodney could have — just like Carson could have fixed Charin, or she and John could have — 


“There,” the voice echoed all around her. “Do you understand now?” he asked, changing shape and color and sound. She had been looking around her, but now she was aware that the room was empty, except for her being here. 


“Where are you?”


“Do you understand what you did?” The voice was still familiar and warm, but different. It was not her father, but she felt comfortable with it. “Do you, Teyla?”


“I was…. changing the choices of others,” she spoke quietly, as it suddenly started to make sense. It was Elizabeth’s decision that she changed, Charin’s, John’s…. her father’s. “I was changing their choices to suit my own needs.”  


“Just because you regret things, it does not mean they should be changed,” the voice supplied. “Even if they are or they were your friends. There are reasons for their decisions.”


She was silent as the words settled around her. 


“How do I — how should I stop this?”


“You must choose. In order to exit the machine, you must make a choice. You must change something in your past.”  


“Something that doesn’t change the choices of others. Or…” Teyla paused, thinking of Jinto, of the Athosians, Torren and the cold feeling of being parted from them. “Or mine.”  

“Yes,” the voice confirmed. 


“I did the things I did for a reason.”


“Yes, you did.”


“I chose to live in Atlantis because I believed that was the best way to help my people,” Tears started to prickle her eyes, but Teyla continued. “I did help them. Not as much as I wanted to, not in the ways I wanted to, but I have done more, much more than I would be able to do if I stayed with them.”


“Yes,” the voice said, but this time it felt like it was coming from the center of her being. 


“What can I change?” Her throat was tight and it was getting harder to breathe, and in a way she sensed she was running out of time. She thought of her friends and their losses, tragic events, accidents, dangerous crystals that claimed lives. “How can I do that, without affecting them?  Without changing something that might alter my consequences?”


“Perhaps, something that was not a choice,” the voice suggested.  





Her head hurt. 


Her head hurt so badly, and when she tried to open her eyes the light above her head felt like it was stabbing her eyes. 




“Is she okay?”


“She looks —”


“Let me take a look at her.” That was probably Jennifer’s hand on Teyla’s forehead. Someone lowered her to the ground, to lay down flat, but she could still feel that several people were around her. Teyla started to blink and faces came into focus — Kanaan, who looked tired, but he was smiling; John and Rodney, both wearing similar expressions of relief. Jennifer was there, with her caring expression and Radek, and one of the linguists whose name was escaping her. And — 


“Teyla? Are you okay?”


She almost jumped up. Jennifer had to hold her with a hand on her shoulder. 


“Doc, is she okay?” John asked, as his face changed into worry but all Teyla could do was stare at the blond haired woman between John and the linguist.




Kate Heightmeyer, Kate, who was gone, who died. She was here, alive. 


“Yeah, it’s me —” Kate was smiling at Teyla, then she looked at Jennifer, who turned on the penlight. “Okay, guys, let’s give Jennifer some room,” Kate suggested. 


“Look here,” Jennifer ordered, and Teyla did what she was told. Jennifer examined her eyes, took her pulse, observed her face. “Everything looks okay,” she finally said. “How do you feel?”


Teyla supported herself with her hands, her palms planted behind her, as she sat spread legged on the floor. She looked around and started to recognize the room. There were writings on the wall, all around and up to the ceiling, and there — there was the stasis pod. 


“What — what happened, Doctor Keller?”


“You were trapped inside of a machine,” Jennifer supplied. 


“That thing over there,” John pointed behind his back. 


“We think it made you change things,” Rodney finished and Teyla looked at them, then her eyes settled on Kate. “Which you probably did —” Rodney turned to Kanaan then. 


“I only told to her what she had to do. I did not tell her what to change. Only how it… could have been done, without causing too much damage.”


“The voice —” Teyla didn’t finish her question, but Kanaan was already nodding. 


“That was me.”


“And —” she frowned, beginning to remember it all. “Those were… different lives,” she said, looking up at Rodney and John with a feeling of guilt. “I think those were my wishes, my regrets —” she was shaking her head, remembering Rodney’s death and John’s capture. 


“The machine was designed to access your mind and make you change your personal history, based on your regrets,” Kate said. Teyla glanced at her hesitantly, still not believing that all of this was real. But — could that be the truth? Was she still trapped? Would she then remember being trapped by a machine? She did not remember it until now, when she could recall coming close to the stasis pod and activating it on accident. Yet, Kate could not be here — unless —


Teyla looked at Kanaan. 


“You told me to change something that was not a choice.” She held her breath as Kanaan slowly smiled. 


“That is correct,” he answered. 


“I guess you did,” Rodney said, and he looked like he was releasing a breath he was holding for a long time. 


“What did I change?”


Rodney shook his head, looking around the room. 


“We can’t possibly know. You changed something in the past — something that happened. That was the only way for you to exit that machine,” Rodney said. “And when you changed it ….” He paused then, looking apprehensive, perhaps even a little scared. 


“He’s saying you messed up the timey wimey things and changed space-time,” John supplied. 


“Thank you, Doctor Who.” Rodney rolled his eyes, but he didn’t look offended. In fact, he seemed to relax a little bit. “What I’m trying to say is that you changed one thing, and subsequently you changed everything else that this event influenced. And that we —”


“We can’t know, because for us it never happened,” John grinned. “Thanks, by the way. For not erasing me out of existence or something like that —” His grin was a bit askew as he joked awkwardly, and Teyla gave him an equally awkward smile in return. She realized she was beginning to relax, looking at the people she loved. They were whole, they were alive — 


She felt the panic rise in her chest again. 






“Where is Torren?” 


“Ronon and Amelia are watching over him,” Kanaan said, and Teyla sighed in relief. The group laughed quietly, and Teyla could sense relief slowly washing over them all. She dared a proper look at Kate then — she looked just as Teyla remembered her, with her kind eyes and warm smile. But more than that, it seemed like she had been here while Teyla was trapped, familiar with the things others were familiar with as well. 


Was that the change — the only change? 


She started to get up slowly, and Rodney helped her to steady herself on her feet. He gave her a watery smile, and a quick hug, after which he walked away with an awkward apology. Teyla was pretty certain there was something shiny and watery in his eyes.  


“He’s, uh, just tired,” John said. 


“Very tired,” Jennifer nodded, looking at John. 


“In fact, I’m tired too.” John’s jaw was set tight, and Teyla could recognize his expression. He wasn’t good with hiding his emotions, and he was usually uncomfortable about showing them. “I’m glad you’re okay,” he said. 


“I am as well,” she smiled. 


“I think it’s best if we all get some rest, right?” Jennifer said. Teyla nodded, feeling thankful for Kanaan at her side and his larger hand holding hers. After that, everyone started to leave the room. 


Kate was the last one to approach. 


“It’s good to have you back,” she said, and Teyla looked at her, still feeling all of this was unreal. On an impulse she took Kate’s hand, and it felt real, warm and firm in Teyla’s grip. The other woman hugged her close for few brief moments and wiped away a tear after they parted. Then she walked away, leaving Teyla with Kanaan, and she looked at him. 


“I did not know how many regrets I had in my heart,” she said. “And worse than that, I thought I had the right to —” She stopped when her throat became too tight to speak. “Rodney died. John —”


“But you chose differently at the end,” Kanaan said, looking at her firmly. “You realized it was wrong.”


“I —” she swallowed, looking up at him, at his soft and comforting expression. “I would end up choosing not to join the expedition. I think it would have happened, but then —”


“You ran into your father, did you not?” he said with a slight smile. 


“Was that —”


“Yes.” His eyes were apologetic. “There was not much time left for you. We — I had to get you out of there.” he said sincerely and looked at her with guilt, but she could not be angry with him. “There was an option, for someone else to guide you out of there. I was able to manipulate certain things. I am sorry I have done that, Teyla, “


“No.” She was shaking her head. “That was...the thing I needed. You were right to do that.”


“I am still sorry,” he said. 


Teyla looked at him for a long time. There was one thing she could not push out of her mind — he did not take her hand and lead her along the way towards the solution. It was not only about the one thing that would hurt her the most or his ability to guess what it was. He brought her in front of a path and trusted her to make it back on her own. 


Teyla stood on her toes so she could place a kiss against his lips, and it was soft and sweet, just like coming home. “I am not sorry,” she said. Wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing her face against his chest, the regrets were still there, but now she felt she could embrace the feeling of peace beneath them, certain, if not completely content, with her choices. 


Kanaan hugged her back with both of his strong hands and held her close for a long, long time. 





The door opened and John was greeted with the sight of Mayel’s nervous face.


“Is it —” she started, anxiously awaiting his news. “Is she okay?”


John let out a heavy breath, running his hand through his hair and nodding. 


“Yes. Everything — it’s over—” he said, and before he could do anything, Mayel was pulling him close and hugging him. 


“I’m so glad, John,” she said close to his chest, and John felt the tension in his muscles loosen.  He allowed his hands to return the hug and pull her tightly against him. It felt good, in fact it felt better than he was willing to admit, but right now, he didn’t care much. He didn’t have the strength left to care; instead there was one thing on his mind. One single thing. 


He didn’t want to have more regrets, at least not about things he had the chance to do. 


“Mayel,” he started, rearranging their position so he could look into her eyes. “That thing we were talking about —”


“Thing?” her smile was watery but warm. 


“About regretting things,” he managed. Talking about emotions was just not something he could easily accomplish. “We agreed to, uh.” His eyes searched her face for help. Instead, she smiled in a teasing manner. 


“Yes?” she said, and then laughed when he gave her a look that asked for help. 


“I am really not good at talking about these things,” he said. “I just know that — that I’m really glad I know you.” 


Mayel smiled and kissed his chest. “I am really glad I know you.”


They remained like that for a couple of moments, and John almost forgot that they were standing in her doorway. It was evening, and not many people were going through the corridor, but still, he realized he should decide if he was going to stay outside or cross the line. 


“John?” Mayel’s voice brought him back to the present. “You’ve said you’re not good at talking?”


Her expression had changed and became inviting, and John realized his heart was beating faster. He also realized that she could probably feel it, but she didn’t seem to mind. 


“I’m pretty crappy at it, actually.”


“Well, I have a suggestion,” she said. 


“You do?”


Mayel nodded. 


“Let’s not talk any more,” she said and with that she pulled him inside.


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