Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: Gen (SGA-1 team!fic)
Word Count: 2600
Spoilers: Through episode 2.08 "Conversion"
Summary: A series of team!vignettes that take place after 2.03 (Runner) and before 2.09 (Aurora).
A/N: My prompt quote was: "He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." -Friedrich Nietzsche
When I saw the quote was from Neitzsche, I definitely had to look it up for context! It comes from Thus Spake Zarathustra, Part III, Chapter LV: The Spirit of Gravity, Section 2. You can read the entire selection here. This chunk of the book is (more or less) about how a man needs to look inside himself to find out what his values truly are, as opposed to having someone tell him what is good/right.
“McKay, team meeting in the training room in five,” Rodney’s radio crackled in his ear. He huffed out a breath of air, because, hel-LO, genius at work, but then the whole message sank in. There hadn’t been a team meeting for a while, because without Ford, there hadn’t been a complete team.
Rodney powered down his laptop.
Teyla was already waiting when he arrived at the training room, and when Rodney inquired if she knew the reason for the meeting, she merely raised an eyebrow. John arrived shortly after, with someone trailing along in his wake.
“Teyla, Rodney,” John nodded at them in acknowledgement as he entered the room, “this is Ronon Dex. He’ll be joining the team on a trial basis for our next few scheduled missions.”
“There is no need for an introduction on my part, Colonel,” Teyla spoke with a friendly smile. “We have recently spent much time in each other’s company.”
“Ah, yes, we met back on the planet… what was it, P3M-736? as well,” Rodney added.
“Good, that should make things go a lot more smoothly,” John replied.
“To tell you the truth, I’m surprised that McKay’s part of your regular field team,” Ronon said, staring at Rodney. “He didn’t seem to know what he was doing out there.”
“Now listen, you oversized simian--” Rodney began to sputter, before John shot him a quelling glance.
“Rodney’s a lot smarter than he looks,” John said to Ronon.
“Oh, ha ha, very funny, Colonel. I only wish I could say the same about you.”
John smirked and said, “Remember, Ronon, if we start taking fire on a mission, we’ll be the only thing standing between McKay and certain death.” Ronon made a speculative-sounding grunt.
Rodney squawked, but before he could start in on a proper rant, Teyla broke in with a polite 'I’m sure Ronon has many skills to offer the team' speech.
“That could’ve gone worse,” Rodney hears John say to Ronon on their way out the door.
“At least this time McKay was standing on his own two feet,” Ronon replied.
Rodney had never been particular about what food he put in his mouth (so long as it didn’t contain any citrus), much less cared about the location of where he ate it. He’d never before paused to consider the atmosphere of their makeshift mess hall in Atlantis.
The cheap plastic chairs and rickety-looking tables had all the grace and elegance one would expect to find in a high school cafeteria, and the denizens of the mess reacted accordingly. They sat in tight little cliques -- marines, social scientists, technicians -- even though Rodney was pretty sure that by now they were all gossiping about the same thing after the semi-public dressing down that Elizabeth had given him. It was very unprofessional of them.
As he grabbed his lunch tray and searched for an open table, Rodney realized that this is probably what most people would quantify as a walk of shame. He pointedly ignored the glances that darted in his direction by refusing to make eye contact with anyone as he sat down and began to dig into his mashed potatoes.
He was surprised when another tray plunked down on the table across from him, and looked up to see Ronon dropping wordlessly into the empty seat.
“I suppose that by now you’ve heard the good news?” Rodney asked sarcastically.
“You killed a planet.” Ronon seemed more interested in his own potatoes.
“A solar system, actually,” Rodney corrected, lifting his chin. “And technically, not killed, as it was never actually alive to begin--” Ronon cut him off with a glare, before turning his attention back to his plate.
“Sheppard’s kind of mad, though,” Rodney admitted, after a moment.
“He went against his instincts because you gave him your word, and now he’s lost face.” Ronon grunted and attacked his pile of peas with a fork, and seemed baffled when they rolled right back off.
Rodney gaped at him. “Oh, no way did you just pull that insight out of your ass.”
Ronon grinned. “Been talking to Teyla.”
“Oh, thank you very much, Colonel Knows-It-All!” Rodney panted. “You just had to bat your eyelashes at the Sacred Spinster of Eternal Longing, and now we’re all running for our lives. Again!”
“Rodney, perhaps this is not the appropriate time for admonishments,” said Teyla, who had beaten Rodney to the DHD and was currently dialing in Atlantis’s address. She had the gall to sound barely winded.
Rodney took a moment to gather in great lungfuls of air, while John prepared to enter his IDC.
“They’re almost here, you know! Even Ronon can’t hold off the angry mob of villagers forever. Plus--” Rodney called out, wheeling to face Teyla, “‘this is not the time for admonishments’?! What kind of double standard is that?! Admonishing someone for giving an admonishment is--”
“MOVE!” Ronon yelled, crashing out of a stand of trees. He continued running on a trajectory straight toward the gate, and it dawned on Rodney that standing directly between Ronon and the only available exit was a very, very bad idea. Ronon only seemed to pick up steam as he barreled down on Rodney, and before he had time to even think about moving, Ronon was there, pushing him through the gate… and landing in a crumpled heap on top of him on the other side, causing Teyla and John to stumble over them as they rematerialized.
“Good hustle back there, McKay,” Ronon said, springing to his feet, and proving that he had been spending far too much time with the marines.
“Really?” Rodney flinched at the squeaky sound of his own voice.
“Yeah, just try not to breathe through your mouth so much.”
Carson rarely braved the hazards of the physics lab, but nevertheless, there he was, nagging Rodney while he was trying to work.
“You’ve got to do something! Colonel Sheppard is driving the infirmary staff mad! He’s practically climbing the walls!” That caught Rodney’s attention. “Figuratively speaking!” Carson quickly corrected. “The combination of human and Iratus DNA did the trick, and the colonel is nearly himself again, but he’s bored out of his mind waiting for the transformation to be complete.”
“Well, what do you expect me to do about it?”
“I don’t bloody know! Bring a chess board, sing him an aria, or just talk to him, I don’t care! Just do something!” There was a slightly crazed look in Carson’s eyes.
“Fine, fine,” Rodney relented. “I’ll figure something out for this afternoon.” But the hours flew past, and by the time Rodney remembered that he had made Carson a promise, it was late evening, and when he went to the rec room to see what was in the game library, the chess board was already gone. In fact, there was only one board game left, and it was multi-player. Rodney sighed, and went to round up Teyla and Ronon.
“You brought us Clue.” John’s voice was flat, but Rodney thought he detected a note of secret glee.
“What? It’s a game of deductive reasoning!” he defended himself.
“You hate deductive reasoning, McKay. You called Sherlock Holmes a crack-smoking charlatan.”
“Well, he was! Everyone knows that inductive reasoning is the only way to properly measure variables, and if this game was an actual crime scene, that’s what we’d be using.”
“Rodney, this would be a good time to explain to Ronon and myself exactly how one is supposed to play this game,” Teyla broke in.
“Yes. Well,” Rodney said, opening the box. “Each of these colored pieces represents a person. I am Mr. Green here, and obviously Sheppard will be Colonel Mustard.” John snorted, but didn’t object.
“I’ll be the red one,” said Ronon.
“You can’t be the red one! That’s Miss Scarlet; she’s a woman!” Rodney said, quickly shuffling through the game's character cards before finding the appropriate one to give Ronon.
Ronon peered at the card Rodney handed him, then shrugged. "She's hot."
Teyla sorted through the remaining character cards. “I shall be represented by the blue piece. On your world, the peacock is a bird revered for its beauty, is it not?”
“Um, kind of?” Rodney met John’s eye. If Teyla wanted to be Mrs. Peacock, Rodney certainly wasn’t going to be the one to tell her that peacocks were a symbol of vanity and hauteur.
Ronon began to poke at the rest of the game components. “This is a really tiny gun.”
On MXP-737, the team was introduced to a somber-faced village elder named Torvald, who informed them that the town would be more than willing to enter into a trade agreement, so long as their new trading partners would participate in a brief ritual that would invoke the good will of the ancestors to ensure a fertile crop.
“And if your people have inhabited the city of the ancestors, perhaps your contribution to our ceremony will truly incur their favor. All we ask is a brief dance for rain.”
“Okay,” John drawled, considering. “What exactly would this rain dance entail?”
“I’m afraid I cannot say,” Torvald replied, and though his face remained gravely serious, Rodney could have sworn he saw Torvald’s eyes wrinkle slightly at the corners, as if he were hiding a smile. “The dance must be derived from what is in your heart.”
John scratched the back of his neck. “Will you give us just a minute to talk it over?”
“Of course.” Torvald withdrew.
“So what do you guys think?” John asked. “Got any ideas about a rain dance?”
Rodney, John, and Ronon turned as one to look at Teyla.
“I’m afraid I have never learned of such a custom, among any people.” Teyla raised an eyebrow. “However, you seem familiar with the concept, John.”
“My notions on the concept are somewhat foggy.”
“Can we do it or not? Let’s either just go ahead and get it over with, or go back to Atlantis now and tell Weir that we were unable to reach an agreement,” Ronon said, apparently having grown tired of all the beating around the bush.
“Well, we’re physically capable of doing it, it’s just--” John was cut off by Ronon.
“Fine, then let’s go tell them we’ll do it.”
“Fine!” John said, before realizing he'd just been backed into a corner.
Rodney occupied himself on the walk to the field where the ceremony was to be held by holding a one-man dialogue. “Oh, my god! We are so going to be sued for this!”
John finally took the bait. “Sued by whom, McKay?”
“Hmm, how about every Indian nation on the entire continent of North America?”
“On what grounds, copyright infringement?”
“Rodney, I did not know you were also familiar with this practice,” Teyla broke into their patter with delight in her voice.
“Unfortunately, yes, I have a pretty good idea of what Sheppard has in mind.” Rodney felt the corner of his mouth droop down.
Teyla laughed. “It cannot be as bad as all that!”
Later, Rodney swore to anyone who would listen that he would gladly bleach his brain of the memories of that whole afternoon if he could, but admitted to himself that it would be a steep price to pay if he also lost the memories of Teyla high-stepping exuberantly, John swooping around with his arms spread out like a four-year-old boy imitating a plane, and Ronon being maybe the only one to find the true spirit of the dance, throwing his head back and whooping into the sky with abandon.
One of the scientists discovered an entry in the database about an ancient outpost that looked promising, technology-wise, so a MALP was sent through to P3X-850, and just before it sank into the boggy swampland, it transmitted back an image of some tall, thorny looking trees blocking the out the sky in the vicinity of the stargate.
“Think you can get one of the gateships through there, Colonel?” Elizabeth asked with a slight smile, already knowing the answer.
“Piece of cake,” John had said.
Except when they actually did fly through the gate and began to climb in altitude to get up and over the trees, the belly of the jumper scraped against the reaching barbs of the uppermost branches, and the cabin rocked slightly from the impact.
“Inertial dampeners, my ass!” John called out.
Rodney rolled his eyes. “The inertial dampeners only deal with gravity, operating on the presumption that you’ll want to know when you, say, crash into something.”
“Easy for you to say from over there, McKay,” John replied, finding a gap between trees and piloting the jumper to a safe landing on solid ground.
“There are energy readings coming from… that direction,” Rodney said, using his whole arm to point out the way. Teyla, John, and Ronon filed after him.
They followed the signal out of the woods, to a settlement at the foot of a hill. It appeared to be abandoned, and they could see the outline of Ancient architecture at the crest of the hilltop.
“Something does not feel right here,” Teyla said, as they made their way into the settlement.
“Wraith?” John asked. Teyla shook her head.
“It feels like Olesia did,” Rodney adds. “Right before they started shooting at us with arrows.”
“Rodney, you did not just say that!” John hissed at him.
“Oh, what? Like you really think people are going to jump out and start shooting at us, just because I said so?” Rodney said sarcastically, just as the loud crack of a shotgun rang out. The ricochet whizzed past them. He looked at John. “Uh, sorry?”
“Just head back to the jumper, now!” John ordered, and several more shots rang out.
Rodney and Teyla broke into a run, and Rodney could hear John and Ronon following close behind.
“I still don’t see anyone,” Ronon tensely ground out, his gun drawn though he found nothing to train it on.
“When we get back to the jumper, we can do a cloaked flyover, see what these folks are up to,” John panted.
Rodney could hear the thwack of bullets hitting tree trunks nearby, even over the noise he made as he crashed through the thicket. “What ever happened to warning shots?!” he shouted.
Then he heard a thud behind him, and the sound of John’s grunt, and Ronon calling out, “Sheppard’s been hit!” Rodney turned to look back and caught a quick glimpse of Ronon hauling John into a fireman’s carry, before Ronon looked up and said, “Keep going!”
Rodney ran, his heartbeat pounding in his ears, all the while thinking, ‘Sheppard can’t be hit. He’s the only one who can fly us out of here.’
They finally reached the puddle jumper, and Ronon dumped John onto the floor as Teyla grabbed the first aid kit. She began to dress his wound, which Rodney finally saw was a through-and-through to the shoulder. The wound itself didn’t actually look that bad, except John was bleeding profusely, pale, and probably unconscious.
“Come on, McKay,” Ronon said, dragging Rodney toward the cockpit. “You’ve got the gene. Fly this thing.”
Rodney looked at him in horror. “I can’t maneuver like Sheppard can! There’s no way I’ll be able to make the steep grade down to the stargate! I’ll crash us into a horrible, fiery death!”
“Rodney, there is no time to waste!” Teyla exclaimed sharply from the rear of the cabin.
“You can do it, McKay.” Ronon seemed oddly calm and reassuring.
“How do you know?!” Rodney felt his throat closing up with panic.
“Because you have to,” Ronon said, sliding into the navigator’s seat.