Body and Soul
John Sheppard thought he was doing well, all things considering. Bombs, Goa’uld, threat of discovery by the Wraith…it should have surprised, even frazzled him, but he was far too used to being surprised. The one thing that did baffle him wasn’t related to the more hectic goings on; rather, it was the fact that he hadn’t seen Teyla for a couple of days.
He supposed that that shouldn’t surprise him either, but he found his steps leading him towards her quarters. Despite the ocean breeze picking up and whistling in through various open windows, John doffed his jacket and settled for carrying it over his arm. John scanned balconies disinterestedly as he passed them, though he vaguely registered who was enjoying the sunshine.
He’d gone a few metres past one before his feet caught up with his mind. He turned abruptly back to the door and called, “Hey Teyla! I haven’t seen you around for a bit.”
The Athosian was perched on the balcony as a statue, arms folded together and serenely observing the ocean. Her dress sailed lightly in the prevailing breeze and for a moment John wondered if she would disappear into flight. Teyla’s face remained smooth and expressionless, even when he drew in line with her. He tried flippantly, “Any reason you’re trying to get blown off the city?”
Teyla tipped her head towards him and explained patiently, “Charin passed on.”
Idiot! John mentally berated himself. He almost wished he would be blown off the balcony.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t know.”
Teyla accepted his words with a carefully schooled expression that didn’t quite reach her warm eyes. She said calmly, “It is alright, Colonel. Charin is continuing her journey.”
John hesitantly raised a hand, but it didn’t quite land on her shoulder. He stuck it in his pocket, distracting attention from the movement by querying, “So are you going to have a mourning period? Or does she live on in the afterlife?”
“Charin does live on, as you say, Colonel,” the Athosian replied evenly. “As the leaves fall from the trees and sprout anew, so too do those who pass on. We mourn that we no longer see their faces but we celebrate the beginning of their journey. That is why we set them on their pyres following the courses of rivers.”
John fiddled absently on the zip of his jacket for a moment then told her ruefully, “You know on Earth we stick them in boxes and bury or burn them.”
Teyla frowned. “You do not hold festivities?”
“Oh yeah we have a wake usually,” the Colonel amended. “Some people display the body. But then we return them to the earth, I guess.”
“Then how do you know they will live on?”
John shrugged uncomfortably. He knew that they were a few people on Atlantis who had their religious comforts and frankly avoided that area of thought. He admitted, “I don’t. But they are gone, that much I know. Listen, Teyla, if you ever need to talk…”
She inclined her head gracefully, possibly to hide her broadening smile. She said sincerely, “I will consider your offer. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me. You’d do the same.”
“Would I?” she asked, completely deadpan.
The Colonel stared at her uncertainly, but her eyes were dancing at him. He cleared his throat. “Well, I would hope our friendship was more than one way.”
“I assure you, John, that this is the case.”
“Great. You know where to find me.” A pause. “And Teyla – you should wear that dress more. It looks good on you.”
Colonel Sheppard made a quick retreat, aware that she was watching him calculatingly from her perch. When he had disappeared, she smoothed the dress over her stomach and this time her wide smile was fully exposed.