Thanks to all the people who reviewed my last story! I'm still trying to find my feet with this fandom, so constructive comments are gobbled up like cookies.
The controls of the Puddle Jumper were familiar in John's hands. He'd always had something of a sixth sense about flying; he had after all been able to pilot the alien craft with relative ease right from the get-go, but where he once had to use his eyes to find a control, he now only needed to move his hands with the unconscious assurance that they'd go where they needed to go. Rodney had called it the Touch-typing of the Sky, and whilst he'd been sarcastic, John had puffed up a little at the idea anyway.
For Teyla, flying was a whole new experience. The only bird's eye view she'd ever had was from that of a tall tree or when hunting in the mountains of Athos. The first time she'd been in a Jumper, she'd been preoccupied with escaping the Wraith, but the vast expanse of space had demanded a second's consideration. The sight of the Stargate, floating in blackness and guarded by darts had been a picture beyond her imagination.
It wasn't until a few weeks later, when the Athosians were moving to the mainland that her real Puddle Jumper experiences began. John had offered to fly her over to see her people and the delight she felt at spending time with her old friends and family had only been tempered by the thought of spending more time in what she considered an unnatural state of being.
She'd spent the whole time in a state of flux, gripping her seat and leaning forward at the same time, trying to see as much as possible. John, who had been greatly amused by her almost childlike curiosity mixed with fear, had kept quiet until she'd leaned so far forward that her nose almost pressed the window and he hadn't been able to restrain a chuckle. She'd slid back into her seat faster than he could turn the ship, but his words of assurance, and a quick recounting of his first experience in a Tiger Moth had her cautiously edging towards the screen again. After an explanation of what a Tiger, Moth and Tiger Moth were, of course.
"We're close enough to the Gate now, you can dial Atlantis."
Teyla nodded, leaning forward and pressing the order of coordinates that had become her home. "Did you always know you wanted to be a pilot?"
John turned to look at her, sitting in the seat beside him, struck by the randomness of her question. He shrugged. "Since I can remember. Always liked being up in the sky, doing crazy things. It's the most amazing feeling…" he trailed off, embarrassed.
"Do most people on your planet fly?"
"Well, yes and no. A lot of people fly to go on holidays or to work, but they're usually passengers. Commercial aviation; flying people to and from places is a form of trade on Earth. Not a lot of people are pilots though."
Teyla tilted her head to the side contemplatively. "Do few possess the skill?"
John shifted in his seat, pleased. "Well, it takes a certain level of ability, sure."
"Or is it that most people think pilots are…what is that word that Rodney mentions often in reference to you? Crazy?"
John mock-scowled. "There's nothing crazy about wanting to be up in the sky."
Teyla turned to the front, looking out the window once more. The Stargate was at the apex of a deep and narrow valley, hence the limited radio contact with Atlantis. The sky was a brilliant shade of purple and gold, and as they descended into the valley the sight of the colourful clouds spilling over the tips of the mountains, in contrast to the green leafy vegetation was breathtaking. "Yes. A year ago I would not have agreed with you, but I have found a certain fondness for this. The sensation of floating, the dexterity of this machine and the speed with which it moves is most…exhilarating." She stopped, opened her mouth and then closed it again.
John, intrigued by such uncharacteristic indecision, kept quiet. Teyla was usually sure of her words; if she spoke, it was usually because she had carefully weighed up her options and decided to do so.
"When I was a child, I used to watch the Valrea float on thermals. Valrea are large creatures with wings native only to Athos. Before you ask, as I know you will, no, they do not make a nice soup. Unfortunately, you never had the opportunity to see them. I used to imagine, as only a child can, what it would be like to fly with them. Then, the Wraith came in their darts, and I grew to fear all that was in the sky, above me."
Not knowing what to say, John nodded and, with a saved by the bell feeling, the radio from Atlantis beeped into life.
"Colonel Sheppard, everything ok?"
"Hey Elizabeth, yeah, we're fine. Rodney's found something interesting, so we're going to stay the night and let him exercise his ego a bit. That ok?"
There was a brief moment of static, before Elizabeth's voice could be heard again. "I'm not sure his ego needs exercising. As long as you feel it's safe, Colonel."
John nodded, even though he knew she couldn't see it. "Yeah, the planet's just what we saw on the MALP, lots of trees, no natives we can find. Rodney says the device hasn't seen any action in a while according to the logs, but he seems to think it's worth checking out and as he likes to remind us, he's the expert. Ronon's with him at the moment."
A static filled chuckle was the response. "Understood John, try and come back in one piece please."
Teyla's eyes narrowed. "How could we come back in two?"
Silence filled both the Jumper and the radio for a second. "It's an Earth phrase, Teyla. I'll explain it when you get here. Weir out."
The background static snapped away.
"Earth has many phrases which do not make sense to me."
Smiling, John began to turn the Jumper around, heading back towards Ronon and Rodney. "You know, we could take a little detour on the way back."
Teyla looked at him suspiciously. "What would that be, John?"
"Well, Teyla, we have purple clouds! We should take advantage of the purple clouds and go fly around in them!" His grin was child-like, as if a five year old was asking to play with bubbles in the bath.
"Will we be able to see? It would not be wise with these mountains."
"Don't you trust me?" he said, looking at her imploringly with what he hoped was an alluring smile.
Teyla sighed, although the thought of an adventure did sound promising. There wasn't much she could do to help Rodney with the device. "As long as we continue in the direction of Rodney and Ronon, I do not see why we cannot."
John's eyes lit up and he, quite abruptly, began to gain altitude. Whilst Teyla didn't feel it, the sight of the mountains peeling away made her eyes widen for a fraction of a second.
John chuckled. "Wait till I get you to Earth. You'll feel the G's then. Trust me, this is easy. Oh, I'll take you up in a helicopter too. No doors, doing loops."
Teyla, for all her strength and bravery gripped her seat. She did not mind letting John see her fear now and then. "Trust me, it's fun. The sky's the one place I can take care of you. Not that you need taking care of, of course." The last part hastily added on.
Teyla thought of the hand to hand combat John had been forced to engage in the week before, as a test of character to be allowed passage through the city they were exploring. She had wished to take his place, but ultimately knew it was unnecessary.
"We shall see." The smile on her face spoke volumes.
Wisps of purple began to appear in front of the screen, their size and consistency increasing with their altitude, until all that could be seen was colourful cloud.
"You will watch the sensors for any indication of objects in our flight path?"
"I will." John nodded, smiling, as Teyla inched forward in her seat, her neutrally cool look giving way to curiosity.
"Thank you. I feel as I used to when I was a child, imagining flying with the Valrea." She touched the screen. "Only now it is real, and I am a long way from Athos."
"Earth's a long way away too. I used to fly with my dad when I was a kid."
Knowing better than to respond directly to this shared detail, Teyla nodded. "Now you are flying with me."
"Yeah," he smiled, turning to look at her. "Now I am."