A/N – This is just a quick little nothing of a story – no action, no whumpage, just a snapshot of life in Atlantis. I have been suffering from terrible writer's block and this story is the first one I have completed in a long time (since July !). I always appreciate your thoughts and comments, so please feel free to review! Thanks.
Dr. Weir is the first at arrive at the mess hall, as usual. Although it is only a little after seven a.m., Atlantis time, Elizabeth is buoyant and alert, greeting the few other early birds with a warm smile and a cheerful good morning. She grabs a mug of freshly-brewed coffee, adding enough sugar to make a diabetic cringe, glops in a dollop of cream, and idly peruses the assortment of muffins and pastries, her face thoughtful. Finally, she chooses two muffins, one apple cinnamon and one chocolate chip, and, after warming the apple cinnamon in the toaster oven, she wanders over to sit at the largest table in the center of the room. The expedition leader sips at her coffee, nibbles at her muffin, and stares off in to space, her mind a million miles away.
She is alone for only a few minutes. Teyla Emmagen walks in, followed closely by Ronon Dex. Both off-worlders nod at Elizabeth as they make their way to the serving line. Teyla's hair is still damp; she and Ronon have sparred this morning, and the Athosian has taken a quick shower. She murmurs to the cook, exchanging small pleasantries as she takes a tray. Quickly – for everything Teyla does is swift and sure – she orders a small stack of pancakes, an orange juice and a cup of Athosian tea.
"Good morning, Dr. Weir," Teyla says. Elizabeth flashes her a smile as Teyla takes the seat next to her.
"Pancakes again?" Elizabeth asks, although her tone is teasing. It is a well-known fact that Teyla loves maple syrup, even more so than chocolate, and so she has pancakes – or French toast or the occasional waffle – every morning. She pours the syrup on, thick and heavy, allowing it to soak into the pancakes, before lifting her fork and taking her first bite. Elizabeth shakes her head at the look of bliss that flashes across Teyla's face, and hides a smile. Rumor has it that the Athosian once snuck down to the mess hall after hours, and was found licking her fingers clean of the sticky concoction.
Teyla has never refuted this claim.
Ronon Dex joins the two women, sitting down gracefully next to Teyla although he is so very tall. His tray is loaded with food, including a plate piled high with scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, and toast. Two muffins lean lopsidedly on the edge of the tray, while two large glasses of juice – one orange and the other cranberry – threaten to spill with every movement.
"Good morning, Ronon," Elizabeth says, and the runner glances up at the expedition leader. He nods in greeting, grabs up his fork, and digs into his meal with gusto. He is silent as he eats, his attention on the food, or, more accurately, on getting the food into his mouth as soon as possible. Although he has been a welcome addition to the Atlantis expedition for over a year now, his survival instinct still lingers; meals are to be consumed as quickly as possible. Both John and Teyla have tried to reassure him that the runner could now take the time to enjoy his food, but Ronon finds the habit hard to break. As he eats, he listens as the two women chatter, mostly about the city, or about Teyla's people, or about the upcoming missions. His keen ears miss nothing, and he files away some of the comments made by Teyla and Elizabeth, to be examined more thoroughly at a later time.
After he has eaten.
"Hullo, ladies! Ronon," Carson Beckett chirps as he ambles in, flashing them a weary grin. He wanders over to the serving line, which is now starting to get busy as more of the city's personnel pop in for breakfast. Some scurry back to their rooms, or to their work areas, or out onto the balcony, but most settle at the remaining tables in the large room. The near-silence that Elizabeth had enjoyed earlier has been transformed into the low, comforting hum of voices, punctuated by the sound of utensils on plates, and the occasional laugh.
Carson grabs up a coffee, thick and black and steaming, and a slice of toast, and settles down opposite Teyla. The Athosian offers him a wide smile as she takes another bite of her pancakes.
"Carson," Elizabeth says. She frowns as she takes in his ragged face; a couple of Major Lorne's men had been wounded during their last mission, and, apparently, Carson has been with them throughout the night. His gentle blue eyes are lined with red, and his mouth is showing the telltale signs of fatigue.
"Doc." Ronon pauses in his feeding frenzy to greet Beckett, the runner's eyes sweeping over Carson's face. He lifts his gaze and exchanges a glance with Elizabeth. She nods slightly at the concern in his eyes, silently agreeing with the runner's assessment.
Beckett needs some rest.
Elizabeth makes a mental note to check on Carson later that day, to order him back to his quarters to get some much-needed sleep, if necessary.
Suddenly, the relative quiet of the mess hall is interrupted by the arrival of John Sheppard and Rodney McKay. Everyone looks up, some with amused smiles on their faces, others with grimaces of rueful disgust, as the bicker brothers make their entrance.
". . . can you even think that, Sheppard? I mean, at least Spiderman is human! Superman isn't even from Earth. . ."
"So? Since when does residency play a part in the super-hero business? Besides, Spiderman is just a kid! Bitten by a bug! And we all know how I feel about bugs!"
"It was a spider - an arachnid - not a bug! You'd think you'd be over that by now! Face it, you just like the fact that Superman can fly, Colonel! Once a flyboy, always a flyboy!"
"And what's wrong with that?"
Elizabeth lifts one eyebrow at the two men as they continue their argument in the serving line, oblivious to the impact they have on the rest of the room. Almost everyone watches them as they load up their trays, their voices continuing their debate even as they squabble over the last chocolate donut.
From their conversation, it is difficult to believe that these two men have saved Atlantis, and the lives of everyone in the great city, more times than fate should allow.
Rodney and John approach the table, John with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Not only has he apparently won the super-hero debate, but the chocolate donut as well.
"Good morning, everyone!" he says cheerfully, and plops down next to Ronon. Rodney circles around the table, taking a seat next to Carson, and flashes a small grin at Elizabeth before he turns his attention to his breakfast. Like Ronon, he has a plate full of food, although his beverage of choice is coffee. It is there that the similarities end, however; Rodney dawdles over his meals, taking his time to chew each piece and savor every last morsel. The fact that he continues to speak incessantly, punctuating his words with the stab of a fork, slows his progress, as well.
"John. Rodney," Elizabeth says with a smile. She has finished her breakfast; only the chocolate chip muffin remains, and that she will take with her, as a treat for later on. Now, she just relaxes in her chair, listening as Carson joins into the super-hero debacle. He has offered up Doctor Who as a candidate, claiming that the BBC TV character has saved not only the Earth, but the entire universe countless times. It is an idea which is instantly shot down by the loud protestations of both Rodney and John.
It seems that in order to qualify as a bonafide superhero, one must have a comic book series published.
It is then that Radek Zelenka stumbles into the mess hall. Without greeting the others, he shuffles into the serving line, shakily filling a mug to the brim with piping hot coffee. The scientist staggers over to the table, nearly spilling his coffee countless times before sagging into the chair next to McKay. His thin hair is vying with Sheppard's for first prize in the 'messiest' category, and, behind his glasses, his eyes are half-shut and bleary.
Radek is not a morning person.
The scientist takes a sip of the coffee, hissing at the molten temperature, but guzzling it down anyway. He grunts at McKay as his boss elbows him in the side. Radek does not say anything; this is the way Rodney greets him every morning. In fact, no one will actually speak to Zelenka – at least about anything important - until he is in his lab and on his second cup of coffee. Ignoring the conversation circling around him, he crosses his arms on the table, lays his head down, and shuts his eyes. Within seconds, he is asleep.
The quarrel continues, this time including Ronon, who insists that Luke Skywalker should also be regarded as a superhero. Rodney squawks in disbelief, and even John is shaking his head at that suggestion. Teyla simply remains silent, although she secretly agrees with the runner. Luke Skywalker uses his power to fight evil, and isn't that the essence of a superhero?
The clock on the wall lingers at five minutes before eight o'clock, and Elizabeth breathes a slow sigh. She is content. Her city is secure, the galaxy is momentarily peaceful, and the people most important to her – her surrogate family – are healthy and safe. Later they will meet in the conference room, to discuss missions and enemies and the Wraith and other more distasteful topics. Right now, though, they lose themselves in arguing about the characteristics of a superhero, never acknowledging that they themselves could be regarded as larger than life, as the good fighting evil, as the heroes who use their unique gifts to save the day again and again.
At eight o'clock, Elizabeth shoves her chair back and rises to her feet. She bundles her chocolate chip muffin in a napkin, to be relished later on during a brief break from her duties as expedition leader. She bids everyone a good day, reminding them about the meeting at two o'clock, and then refills her coffee cup before leaving the room. Carson follows her lead, muttering something about checking on Lorne's team before grabbing a few hours sleep. He waves in farewell, pausing at the coffee machine before shaking his head and hurrying out of the room.
With the departure of Elizabeth and Carson, the debate winds down. Teyla and Ronon exchange a glance and together they rise from their seats. They will be busy this morning, training some of the Marines before the meeting later that day. Teyla says, "See you later," to John and Rodney and the unresponsive Radek and the two off-worlders leave the mess hall.
John leans back in his chair and sips at his coffee, waiting patiently while Rodney finishes the rest of his breakfast. Their talk turns to ice hockey and football scores, muscle cars and the best pizza place ever. It is meaningless conversation, comfortable and warm, the banter of two close friends just passing the time. Around them, in drips and drabs, the rest of the city's personnel leave to begin the business of their day, and soon, only the three men are left.
Finally, Rodney blots his mouth with a napkin, and, grabbing his tray, he and John rise to their feet. Before exiting the room, Rodney stops at the coffee urn and refills his cup. He glances at the table, shakes his head, and fills another to the brim.
He sets the steaming cup on the table, just out of reach of the sleeping Czech scientist. He turns as John leans around him, placing the chocolate donut down next to the coffee. Rodney just snorts, and mumbles something about coddling unappreciative physicists. John rolls his eyes, but wisely holds his tongue, and the two men leave the room.
Ten minutes later, Radek blinks open his eyes. His gaze sweeps the now-empty room, and he lets out an exasperated breath. He mutters in Czech as he registers the time; the clock says it is almost eight thirty. Shoving himself to his feet, he spies the cup of coffee, a small wisp of steam still rising from the liquid. Muttering a heart-felt thanks to Rodney – because he is fully aware of the actions of his irascible boss - he takes a quick sip, smiling at the perfect temperature.
Radek grabs up the donut and takes a huge bite, ignoring the crumbs that cascade down his shirt and on to the floor. He scurries out the door, armed with the coffee and the donut, finally ready to begin another day in Atlantis.