They're not a thing. Really, they're not. John shifts on the sofa, feels Teyla next to him, solid and strong. The moonlight spills in the window, turning her hair to silver. It's been a long week.
He and Teyla, yes, they're probably a thing. That was only ever a question of when, John supposes.
But he and Teyla, plus Elizabeth — it's not a thing.
Which is not to say that he wouldn't choose otherwise, if he had a chance. And that's surprising.
He shifts, uncomfortable and tired of waiting. Teyla curves into him, tucking into the crook of his shoulder. They still don't share quarters, in case Earth decides to protest, but really, they might as well. Elizabeth wouldn't mind. Doesn't mind.
Elizabeth wouldn't join them, though. "I can't," she'd say, and he wouldn't ask twice, because all three of them understand about "can't" and "won't" and that sometime there's not much difference.
Teyla reaches out and links her fingers with him, but he doesn't look down. "John," she says quietly.
"I know," he bites out. "We can't make her." They can't. And he's tried. Elizabeth Weir is just as stubborn as he is, and Teyla hadn't agreed that they needed to try.
"No," she agrees. "And we, at least, have each other."
He does look at her then. He may not be the best at… this, he admits, waving a mental hand in frustration, but even he caught the edge of that comment. She's stronger than she looks, Teyla Emmagan, but he wants her to know she doesn't have to be. Not all the time. He reaches out and traces the bruise purpling her cheek. "You're not least. I mean — you're not — I don't — " Her fingers cover his mouth, and he stops in relief.
"I know," she says, smiling. She gets up from the couch, walking to the window. And that's the thing. She does know — always has — and he needs that. He and Elizabeth both do. Neither of them are good at certain conversations. ("And isn't that an irony," Elizabeth had said, laughing at herself. Teyla had kissed them both, then, tumbling them both down onto the bed. It had been a good day.)
"She won't come," he says abruptly. She doesn't always. She might not.
"No," Teyla says to the window. "It's her choice." There's nothing really to say to that, either.
He drops his head back, closing his eyes. They've been back two days from a mission gone more wrong than usual, which is saying something. No one died, which is a bigger win than expected, but not for want of opportunity. Opportunities that had left Teyla, McKay, and Lorne isolated in the middle of enemy territory and Ronon doing his best to bleed out in another location entirely. John had evaluated the opportunities six ways from Thursday and then twice again, once he'd realized the best answer to getting them all home alive. Three days later, they've been back in Atlantis for forty-eight hours, catching sleep where they can while playing damage control and waiting for Ronon to open his eyes. Only now does the crisis really seem to have passed. There's another, he knows &mdash they all know &mdash right around the corner. "I didn't want to send her in," he confesses.
"Really," the woman in question says from the doorway. He hadn't heard it open. "Tell me something I didn't know."
For a moment, no one moves. Then John stands, feeling sore muscles pull and trying not to wince. "Elizabeth," he tries to say, taking a half a step forward, before Teyla materializes next to him and puts a hand on his arm. He doesn't understand, not till he looks back at the door, really looks, and notices the things he hadn't seen. She's not in the room, not yet, and her chin is high, her shoulders tight, and he knows how banged up she is. All that tension has to hurt.
"Elizabeth," Teyla says, and reaches out, not moving, just waiting.
She looks uncertain. "I just wanted — " she starts. "I thought —" She swallows. "I'm tired," she confesses, finally. "And I thought you might be here."
Teyla does move then, crossing to Elizabeth and taking her shoulders, bringing her head down and in till their foreheads touch. John watches them standing there, sharing air, dusky and pale, and he feels something in his chest ache, fierce and sharp. They keep this city alive, the two of them. This city, these women. They're his, but more importantly &mdash and John doesn't kid himself about this &mdash he's theirs. He wants to stand at their door and bare his teeth against the universe. He wants to gather them close, and he has no idea what to do with that, because he's spent his whole life walking away, till now.
He tries to focus, and all he can see is Teyla as the guards trundled her off, limp over the shoulder of someone twice her size, and Elizabeth, slim and straight and walking away, walking back in, their only shot at getting anyone back alive. He doesn't realize his hands are fisted till Teyla's in front of him, coaxing his fingers to relax. Elizabeth's just behind her, and if she still looks weary, well, at least the door's closed behind her and she's here. They're all tired.
"I didn't want to," he says again, "and I didn't have a choice."
"I wanted to," Elizabeth answers. "And I didn't either."
"None of us do," Teyla says quietly. And that, he supposes, is the heart of it. None of them do, and even if they were given that choice, they wouldn't choose to be other than what they already are. Which means, John knows, that the odds are good that one day, he won't be able to keep them both safe. And they wouldn't forgive him for trying. All they have is whatever this is, right now, right here.
Teyla's hand is tight in his as he reaches out and tugs Elizabeth into them. They stand there, leaning in, just holding still, carving out a moment of peace for the three of them, in their city on the water, in the moonlight.