CHOOSING HIS TEAM by Tipper
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one. The premise, characters and setting were all dreamed up and developed by the wonderful writers, directors, producers, actors and crew of Stargate Atlantis, and are owned by the same, as well as MGM, Gecko and the other corporate owners.
Characters: Team (Sheppard, McKay, Teyla and Ford -- all four points of view)
Feedback: would make me deliriously happy.
Associates in crime: Thanks NT and Sablecain!
A/N: This story was born of three little questions: first, how did Sheppard choose his team; second, if Atlantis has been lost for 10,000 years and is considered the sacred home of the Ancestors, how did the Athosians so readily accept the idea of living there? (I mean, if you suddenly found yourself living in Mount Olympus, for example, wouldn't you be just a tad overwhelmed?); and third, how did Halling hurt his leg?
A/N 2: The events in this story take place between Rising and progressing through Hide & Seek. It begins the morning after the party with the Athosians, welcoming them all to their new home.
Description: The first couple of days on Atlantis—the new arrivals, both the Earth folk and the Athosians, are coming to terms with their new home, and Sheppard has to choose the members of the flagship team.
CHAPTER ONE: GOOD MORNING ATLANTIS
Sheppard groaned as his alarm clock beeped noisily by his head, the irritating noise invading his subconscious with all the subtlety of a Mel Brooks movie.
He'd always hated his alarm clock. It was a simple, yet brilliantly obnoxious device—four rapid beeps, followed by a pause, then another four beeps, and another pause….
That damn beeping would follow him into hell, he just knew it.
He'd hated it ever since he had purchased it in that small airport in Germany fifteen years ago, needing an alarm clock when he was on leave from his first assignment. For some reason, he'd been deathly afraid of sleeping in on the last day of his leave, being declared AWOL and having MPs crash into his room in Munich to find him sprawled on his bed fast asleep and naked. It ranked up there with the traditional underwear-to-school nightmare, and the "oh-shit-I-have-a-test-and-I-didn't-study!" nightmare. So he bought the cheap, little, plastic alarm clock…and regretted it every day since.
Problem was, it was also the only thing that could wake him up. He'd actually tried music, bells, wake-up-calls, but nothing was as effective as the incredibly irritating "beep-beep-beep-beep." It woke him up in a bad mood, but at least he was awake.
He rolled over with a groan, grabbed the offending instrument, and promptly threw it across the room.
It just continued to "beep-beep-beep-beep" from over there. The damn thing was also virtually indestructible. It was really quite fascinating. He'd thrown it Lord knows how many times, and yet it never broke. And, seriously, he had tried to break it. Had really, really tried.
His eyes opened up fully and he looked up at the strange ceiling. For a brief second, he was stock-still, staring up with utter confusion at the blue gray metal overhead, the strange Frank Lloyd Wright meets Mondrian fixtures causing him to blink rapidly.
Where the hell was he?
Atlantis. The Atlantis. Aquaman's Atlantis. Without Aquaman. At least…so far. After all, they'd already met life-sucking vampires, who knew what else was out here?
His body shuddered once, getting over the realization that he was, in fact, somewhere really, really impossible.
Then, slowly, he smiled.
Impossible, but admittedly damn cool.
He remembered the party from the night before, the impromptu welcome party for the Athosians. He remembered Teyla's smile, Weir's look of trust and pride, Ford's laughter, McKay yelling something about lemons….and the champagne. Very good champagne. They'd all needed it.
And then he remembered Weir asking him that question...
"Who the members of your team might be...?"
That, he hadn't needed.
Why? Because he didn't know. It wasn't meant to have been his decision and yet...now it was.
Obviously, he needed someone military, who could watch his back and take charge if necessary. He needed a scientist, because this was a scientific expedition still. He needed a diplomat, because he sure as hell wasn't one. And...?
He shook his head. He just didn't know anyone here well enough to know who fit those parameters, which was a problem.
But whoever he did choose needed to be someone he trusted, someone he believed in, someone who would come through when needed...and, most importantly, someone who could take a joke.
He smiled. Okay, maybe the last shouldn't be a pre-requisite, but it'd be nice.
There were thirty military and about seventy scientists to choose from...
Aw hell, it was too early for this.
He sighed, pushed himself up off the bed and looked around at his new "quarters." They had found this set of living quarters close to the Gate Room, and he'd quickly commandeered the first set of rooms for himself, Dr. Weir and Dr. McKay, as the…now…expedition leaders. He'd then doubled the scientists up in the rest of the quarters and put the marines in the halls on bedrolls.
He felt a little guilty because the Athosians had been forced to cram together and sleep in the few remaining rooms in the sector as well as the halls with the marines. Problem was, they hadn't explored any of the city yet, and who knew what might be out there. Sumner hadn't wanted any of them moving beyond what they had scoped out so far until the colonel had personally okayed the rooms. Sheppard was the one doing that now, and it still made sense to him. He assumed they would all move around at some point, but, for now, he had put them in these rooms and that's where they would stay for a few days at least.
With that thought, the mantle of responsibility pressed down on his shoulders again. He really didn't want to think about Sumner right now.
Not that he would ever forget him...
With a sigh, he got up and stumbled across to his duffel bag. He had been so tired, he'd just thrown it carelessly against the wall last night, and he frowned a little as he remembered the Johnny Cash poster he'd so carefully rolled up inside it. He hoped it wasn't damaged. Unzipping the duffel, he rooted around inside until he found the poster and carefully extracted it.
Intact. A little wrinkled, but otherwise okay.
He sighed in relief. Placing it reverently to one side, he rooted around some more until he found a clean shirt and boxers. Pulling both on, he then located his pants where he'd dropped them on the floor, and his jacket (hanging off a chair next to a Spartan looking desk) and threw them on.
Licking his mossy teeth, he grabbed a toothbrush from his duffel and then stood before the door to the hall. He stared at it a moment, gripping the toothbrush in his hand tightly, fingers tightening around the cool plastic handle. Finally, after taking one last deep breath, he tapped his hand to the panel and walked out into the halls of Atlantis.
Teyla woke with a start, her head buzzing, her eyes popping wide open. She sat straight up on the bedroll, callused fingers gripping the coarse blanket to her chest, blinking furiously at the strange world surrounding her. Her breaths came in short gasps as the threads of the nightmare she had been reliving—being trapped aboard the Wraith ship—faded away.
This wasn't a Wraith ship. It was too bright, too...pretty...
In flashes, memories flooded back, and she found her eyes falling from the elegantly designed walls to the other blanket wrapped lumps around her. Slowly, her breathing calmed and she recalled that she and her people were now guests of the...where did they say they were from? Orth? Erth? She shook her head. Whoever they were, they were the people who now lived in Atlantis.
Yes...she remembered well now. Atlantis. The sacred home of the Ancestors. Lost for centuries, its gate sealed and hidden inside the annals of legend. No one had ever managed to break that seal before.
But these strangers had. Strangers from a strange place she had never heard of.
Her open mouth snapped shut with a click, and she took more careful stock of her surroundings, a hunter's eyes inspecting a new environment.
Regardless, this was her and her people's home now. Athos was no more. They would have to accept it. This new world. These new...friends...
The muscles along her jaw flexed and her eyebrows narrowed as she resolved not to take the gift they had been given by these strangers for granted. She would live up to the promise she made to Doctor Weir and Major Sheppard last night.
"Teyla," a voice called softly.
Teyla turned her eyes to the left, to see Halling sitting on the edge of one of the beds. He was resting a hand on his sleeping son's leg.
"Halling," she greeted softly.
He tilted his head in return, then grimaced, looking up at the high arched ceiling and the sweeping metal buttresses. "This is a wondrous place."
She took another look around the room, then shucked the blanket, intending to stand up. "Yes," she replied, "It is." She pulled her legs beneath her and pushed herself up. It was a surprisingly smooth move for someone who had just spent the night on a marble floor.
Halling's eyes followed her as she rose. "I have been thinking," he said quietly as she stretched the muscles in her arms.
"Oh?" Teyla arched an eyebrow as she then turned to brush down her wrinkled clothes, the same ones she had been wearing the night before at the party. "About what?"
"Do you not wonder, Teyla," he frowned, "if we are, perhaps, trespassing?"
Teyla stopped brushing, looking over at him curiously. "Trespassing?"
He held her gaze as he explained, his voice reverberating with reverence, "This is a holy place, Teyla." He looked up at the ceiling again, "Can we really think to live here, in the City of the Ancestors, and not be thought of as defiling it?"
Teyla straightened to full height, so that she could look down at the man sitting on the edge of the bed. He was so tall, it was rare that she ever had the opportunity to look "down" on him. She used it to full effect here, even if it wasn't her intent.
"What are you saying?" she queried him calmly. "That we should leave?"
Halling's eyes dropped, appearing oddly nervous, then they lifted again. He licked his lips, "Some of us are," his brow furrowed, "concerned." He shrugged, explaining, "We feel as if we should be paying homage, honoring our ancestors, accepting our blessing that we are the first to see the Great City again after all these years." He shook his head, "But instead, we are camping here, eating and drinking as if this were just another world." He grimaced again, "But it is not. This is Atlantis, Teyla. Atlantis! And," he swallowed, glancing down at Jinto before looking up at her again, "I am not sure we should stay. Any of us...us," he glanced towards the closed doorway to the hall, "or them."
"Them?" Teyla's eyebrows rose, following his gaze to the door unconsciously. "You mean the people who saved our people yesterday? Saved your life, Halling, and mine, and returned you to your son?"
Halling looked slightly bewildered and a little ashamed, "I do know this, Teyla, and of course I am grateful. Very grateful. But," he looked around at the still sleeping Athosians, "I...and some of the others...are…we…." His tongue stumbled, and he looked up again at the vaulted ceiling. "What if we anger the Ancestors by being here, Teyla? What if they take offense? This is not a place to treat lightly, no matter what the circumstances that brought us here. Perhaps," he licked his lips and looked at her again, "we should leave. Find another world that will take us in?"
Teyla stared at him a moment, then, slowly shook her head, "No, Halling. We made a promise to these people, to help them learn about our galaxy."
"Yes, I know. I listened a little when you were discussing that with their leader, Doctor Weir." Halling straightened up from his slight slouch, "And we can still do that. We can take them with us. I am sure that if we explain to them what this City means to us—what it means to many in this galaxy—that we can convince them to move on with us."
Teyla stared at him, then grimaced. "Halling, you do not understand. Atlantis is why they are here—the came from another galaxy to find this place. They will not just leave. And if we are to help them, then we must stay as well. That is the promise we made, and I will not break it."
Halling's eyes darkened slightly, "You made that promise, Teyla Emmagen, not us."
Teyla's brow furrowed at the challenging tone, but refused to acknowledge it, drawing herself up as she looked down her nose at her friend. "I see. And I do not speak for the Athosians anymore?"
Halling flinched, and shook his head. Quickly, he lowered his head and averted his eyes as a flush lit his cheeks, "Teyla...I am so sorry. I spoke before I thought. Of course you speak for us. I never meant to suggest..." He trailed off, glancing up at her again. "I am sorry. I am merely expressing our concerns. If you think we should stay, we will. We trust your judgment."
Teyla grimaced—that was not what she meant—and she found a flush of embarrassment heating her own cheeks. She did not mean to use her people's trust to get her way. Sighing, she stepped over a couple of sleeping bodies until she stood directly in front of Halling. A quick decision, and she was kneeling, allowing him look down on her now.
"Halling," Teyla reached for his hand where it rested on his knee, covering it with her own, "I understand your fear, I do. I was brought up as you, believing that the Ancestors would return to protect us, save us from the Wraith, and that Atlantis would return to its full glory in order to welcome them—a shining jewel on the landscape of the galaxy. And I am aware, more than aware, that these strangers are not the Ancestors. However," and here, she smiled, "I also believe there is more to these people that meets the eye. Atlantis opened its doors and rose for them, Halling. It came to life with their appearance here, responds to their presence, almost seemingly to their very thoughts." Her eyes brightened as she spoke, and her hand gripped his. "That has to mean something."
Halling pursed his lips, remembering the stories their people had told them about the great shaking when they arrived, then...the City lifting from the sea bottom into the light...
Finally, he smiled, "All right, Teyla." His smile became more genuine, "We will help them. But," the smile fell, replaced by his usual earnestness, "we must also see that Atlantis gets the respect it deserves as well."
Teyla resisted the urge to sigh in relief, knowing the powerful sway the quiet Halling had over her people—he was, for lack of a better term, their spiritual leader. If he accepted her decision, then they all would. She pressed a hand to his cheek, and smiled gently.
"I would expect nothing less from you, Halling."
He smiled back at her, then shrugged. "Plus, how often does one get the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Ancestors?" He looked speculatively at the door, "Who knows what further wonders wait for us out there?"
"I am sure you will find out," she laughed, patting his leg and standing up. She knew he meant he planned to do some exploring this morning, and she saw no harm in that. Turning, she looked around again at her people, who were beginning to stir, then towards the closed doorway.
Where she smelled food cooking...
And a new thought, one much more pressing than their spiritual concerns, came to her. Food.
Were they to eat what was made, or were they expected to make their own? And...with what?
As if on cue, her stomach grumbled.