Notes: Many thanks to my lovely and talented betas: trobadora and malnpudl. The last line of the third paragraph was written entirely by malnpudl because I failed at trying to rewrite her suggestion in my own words. The line was perfect as it was and is probably the best one in the whole ficlet, so she gets the credit. *g*
Excruciating pain pulled her from sleep, great ripping agony starting at her shoulder blades and radiating outward. She lay face down on the cold stone floor, every muscle in her body tensed, and bit her lip until it bled in an effort not to make a sound. She wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
Whoever they were.
Her eyes burned and her cheeks were wet, but she gritted her teeth and held on, riding the rolling waves of pain like the surfing John had once told her about, a sparkle in his eyes that few things could bring. Remembering how Rodney had turned it into an impromptu physics lesson, his hands waving and illustrating complex ideas made simple. She grasped the memory like a lifeline. Ronon had simply nodded and said he'd try this surfing that John was so keen on, and his smile was radiant when he turned it to Teyla, his eyes inviting her along. She closed her eyes tightly and saw it in her mind, the cresting wave of pain become an ocean wave, and herself carried high atop it, carried beyond it instead of being crushed beneath it as it broke, her team awaiting her on shore.
Her team. John. Rodney. Ronon. They would save her. If they were still alive. They would come for her.
The pain was blinding now. Her breath coming in ragged gasps, she couldn't scream even if she wanted to. And she wanted to. She wanted to rail and shout defiance, to rage and fight and tear the place apart. She wanted--
And then the pain was gone, subsumed into an equally blinding wave of pleasure. As if every cell--every molecule-- in her body experienced an intense orgasm all at the exact same instant.
She cried out, her ragged voice echoing off rock walls, as her entire body shuddered. Ironic that the pleasure broke her when the pain couldn't.
When it was all over, it was all wrong. She lay exhausted and drained on the floor, an odd weight upon her shoulders. A spark was growing inside her. Something she couldn't begin to put a name to, not quite a feeling, almost an energy...a force.
A movement, a flutter...and feathers brushed across her outstretched arms. Teyla turned her head slowly, gathering the strength to fight whatever came next.
Great snowy white wings had sprouted from her back.
Stunned silence, a gasp, then laughter that started weak and weary then grew to the edge of hysteria.
They appeared at the edge of the chamber, all alien curiosity, smiling and whispering among themselves. She ignored them. All raging thought of retaliation had disappeared, swallowed up by the overwhelming urge to fly.
Pushing herself to her hands and knees, rising to her feet, she relearned the feel of her body, educated herself in its power. The weight on her shoulders lifted, the wings beginning to feel a natural part of her as strength flowed into them. Her entire body throbbed with the need to use them. Her head spinning from the intoxicating rush, she worked out the specific sequence of movement for muscle and bone and brand new appendages, and then...
Powerful wings beating against the air, she thrust out her arms and tossed back her head. She let loose a wordless cry of fear and joy as she rose several feet off the ground. They gasped and gawked, pleased with their work, she was sure, but all she could think about was saving her team.
She swept the chamber for any sign of Ronon, John, or Rodney, but found none. She snatched up one of them--no bigger than a human child of ten, cold and scaly, unpleasant in her hands--and shook it, knocking the others over with effortless sweeps of her wings.
"Where are they?"
Without hearing a word, she knew and dropped the now useless thing. She beat her wings and flew, bursting fists first through the chamber's flimsy doors. She soared high into the cold night air, the stars spinning above her as she swooped and tumbled. Her confusion over what had been done to her aside, she couldn't help wishing John was experiencing this...this incredible freedom, so different from the puddlejumpers and other machines he flew, so much more personal. She felt as though she could fly forever, no pain, no fear, no Wraith, just powerful wings lifting her higher and higher as she sailed faster through the night in search of the place her team was being held.
Only when Rodney, Ronon, and John were before her, staring up at her with shock, amazement, and perhaps a little fear, could she allow her own shock and fear to return, and yet the joy didn't fade.
They asked a hundred questions in the moment before they stepped through the gate, and a hundred more on the other side. But all she could do was curve her wings around them and smile.
Home. She was home.
Summary: When it was all over, it was all wrong. She lay exhausted and drained on the floor, an odd weight upon her shoulders.