Spoilers: none. Set: er, season 2ish?
The prompt: Gen/friendship, Cadman, ghosts or ghost stories, paper blowing in the wind. No Teyla/Ronon.
Length: 1,900+ Notes: This was written for the Teyla ficathon, and is only this late as I came home from work and sat down to take off my boots and BAM flopped sideways and fell asleep for two hours. Thanks go to karmaaster for her cheering me on, thwapping me when I whined, and doing the final beta; and to familyarchives for patting me on the head, making me channel her to write Cadman, and for telling me to make it longer AND ALSO FOR THE TITLE. YAY.
Bowling In The Dark ALC Punk!
Cadman would later blame McKay.
That suited Teyla just fine, really. Not that she agreed that the explosion had been McKay's fault (really, Cadman had used too much C4), but he needed taking down a peg or two. Once in a while.
And besides, he'd been the one stomping around, sheaf of paper in his hands loudly declaiming that an explosives expert was pointless as he knew everything about chemical reactions, and wasn't it just like Elizabeth to screw things up and send a non-useful piece of personnel along.
Cadman really couldn't be blamed for trying to scare him.
"Do you have ghost stories?"
The random question from the dark drew Teyla from her thoughts, and she blinked. The dark didn't change. There was mud, somewhere, earthy and rich. The smell had worked its way through the air, permeating it and drenching it. The thought occured to Teyla that she wouldn't mind having a little dirt on Atlantis. It would feel less sterile.
"Ghost stories?" Cadman couldn't see her raised eyebrow, of course. But Teyla let her slight amusement color the words.
"Yeah. Dead people, dead things. Houses." Death. As though there was not already enough of that, with the wraith. A chuckle followed Cadman's words, "Look, I'm babbling."
"There is very little else to do," Teyla replied calmly. Either their colleagues would dig them out, or they would die down here.
After the explosion, they'd found themselves surrounded by rock. Teyla's light had refused to function, and Cadman had blamed the batteries. Teyla rather thought it was the impact with the cavern wall that had done it. Both radios were not working (which, really, was normal with Atlantis' team missions. Teyla was frequently surprised when everything went well on a mission). Their stock of water was limited, and their food even more so. Neither had been planning for a long stay anywhere.
Teyla had briefly considered firing her weapon at the walls, but a slight understanding of physics had warned her that bullets would most likely bounce. And if they didn't, rock chips could do damage that they couldn't see.
Luckily, both were merely bruised, though Teyla had the feeling at least two of her ribs were cracked.
"Haunted houses?" She prompted, when the silence had gone on for what felt like too long.
"It's an Earth thing, I guess. We find death frightening, and so we make it more so--Dr. Heightmeyer'd be better to ask, really. I just find gory movies funny as hell."
"There is far too much gore in life," Teyla noted with asperity.
Cadman was silent for a moment, then she replied, voice just as dry, "What's life without laughing at the worst thing that can happen? Boredom."
"Perhaps. Still, it is hard to consider death amusing when you experience it at close hand."
"Maybe. But ya gotta live a little. Look, lemme tell you one of my favorites."
Teyla tipped her head back against her section of rock wall and felt the tension leave her a little. If nothing else, stories would keep her entertained. Oral tradition had always been strong with the Athosians. Paper being impractical when one lived in the wilderness. She used to listen along with the children as her father told stories of great warriors battling against the wraith.
Children were often easily led.
The tale Cadman began to spin involved a house. It was complicated, though. The house seemed to be alive. Or perhaps the people living in it only believed it so.
Having lived in Atlantis for more than a year, Teyla understood the concept of things being 'alive' with technology. Alive with spirits and ghosts was another matter. Memories and emotions left impressions, people did not.
The story became complicated when the original owners died mysteriously. "The house protects its own," Cadman insisted.
"Much as Atlantis protects us."
"Yeah. Except, y'know, not to keep us alive. Although..." And she was off, expounding more upon the house.
The echoes of the past haunted the present, of course. As they always did.
Researchers and scientists invaded the house, determined to investigate its core. To figure it out. Cadman pauses to go on a long, rambling commentary about how science shouldn't always be used to disprove social theory, or something like that. Interspersed is her mockery of psychology in general, and faith healers in full. Although she was quick to note that Dr. Heightmeyer was all right--but then, Dr. Heightmeyer was there, with them. And not in some ivory tower studying the masses through a microscope.
Teyla eventually interrupts her, "Did the house destroy them?"
"Oh! Right. So, they get to the house, right?"
The house tried to kill them, as it had those which had come before. All save Nan, whom the house seemed to have an affinity. Both lost and alone, lonely even in crowds. Teyla felt an odd kinship to that, then shook her head.
She was not in a haunted house. She was not alone, even if her people no longer surrounded her.
Cadman broke off mid-word, leaving Nan running up the spiral staircase. "I'm not boring you, am I? I could jump to the end of the story, after all."
"I am entertained," Teyla smiled into the dark, letting her smile color her tone. "Please, continue."
A tapping sound suddenly echoed through the cave, and Teyla straightened.
The sound came again, bringing with it a thousand childhood warnings about the wraith--they were cunning and full of trickery, and could use anything to get close to the unwary.
But Teyla was an adult now. She pushed the childhood superstitions to the side and focused on the sound. It was rhythmic, a careful repetition.
"I think that's supposed to be Morse code." Cadman announced. She didn't sound very confident.
"An Earth method of communication."
The humans continued to surprise her, at times. "Ah. And you know how to decipher it?"
"Nope. I know S.O.S., but that's it." There was self-deprecation coloring the words, and if there had been light, perhaps Cadman's expression would have been rueful.
Teyla smiled in amusement. So Cadman was not perfect, after all. McKay would most likely be crowing, at this point. "We could attempt to shout."
When the explosion had first gone off, Teyla had fully expected to never wake up. The concussion had been loud enough to set her ears ringing for several minutes afterwards. Even without McKay there to complain loudly.
She drew in a deep breath and yelled, "We're here!"
The echoes rebounded on themselves. She wondered about the height of the ceiling. She was regretting not having paid attention to the cave system when they'd first stopped on the mountain side. In an earlier time, she might have chastised herself severely for it. But she was beginning to learn that people were human. And humans made mistakes.
"Whoo! Not bad." Cadman called before she, too, raised her voice and began yelling.
The tapping changed pitch, getting harder.
And then Teyla heard a muffled yell.
"Think they heard us?"
"Yes." Teyla raised her voice and called again.
The yell answered back.
Cadman laughed, "We could be herding cows."
Ignoring the strange comment, Teyla tilted her head, then winced. "I believe they will find us shortly."
"Or they're just getting our hopes up."
"They will find us," Teyla said, confidence in her tone. Despite the occasional loss of life, Atlantis and her people were rather scrappy survivors. And Sheppard, McKay and Ronon appeared to like her company. She would put their ability to not let anything go ahead of many a mountain.
She didn't feel smug when they eventually broke through what was apparently a less dense portion of cave wall. Ronon was the first one in, followed by Dr. Beckett. The poor doctor disliked going off-world, but would get dragged along when there were injuries to treat.
"I am fine," Teyla informed them, holding out a hand. "Our radios appear to have shorted out."
Ronon hauled her to her feet and steadied her.
Since she seemed to be standing fine, Beckett moved to assist Cadman.
"Anytime." Ronon moved to help Beckett with Cadman, who appeared to have damaged her ankle.
Shoving her shoulders back, Teyla walked across the floor carefully, then exited into a brighter day than she'd been expecting. Of course, they'd been in absolute darkness for far too long. Catching Sheppard's hand, she let him lead her to the side, keeping her eyes closed and shaded until they could adjust to the overwhelming brightness.
"I am. Merely unaccustomed to the light."
"Good." He moved away to, given the sounds, help remove Cadman from their prison.
It occurred to Teyla that there was one voice she hadn't heard. One, in fact, that she'd been expecting. Lifting her head, she frowned, "Where is Dr. McKay?"
"Rodney went back to Atlantis after I told him he wasn't being useful." Given the ironic tone of voice, Teyla made the assumption that there had been a long and loud argument from McKay about leaving, or about being helpful. Either way, it cheered her to know he hadn't gone willingly.
She opened her eyes and found them less painful. "Laura?"
Cadman turned her head towards her, "Teyla?"
"If you are rested, I believe I would like to return to Atlantis."
"I'm good." Cadman's eyes opened and she grinned at Teyla. "And when we're in the infirmary, I am so finishing this story. You'll like the end, I think."
Teyla smiled back, "I believe I would enjoy that."
"After you de-brief," Sheppard objected.
"And sleep," Dr. Beckett informed them firmly, "You've both been stuck for several hours in a cave. Sleep is required."
Teyla smiled serenely, "And hot cocoa."
"Now you're talkin'." Cadman grinned. "Let's go!"
Dr. Beckett had insisted on taping her cracked ribs, and then reeled off a list of instructions that had included absolutely no fighting or sudden movement for at least a week. This left Teyla at even more loose ends than before. Cadman had suffered a similar fate, and the two women found themselves eating the evening meal together.
"God, I can't believe I'm not allowed to do anything for a week," Cadman groused. Then she grinned, "Guess I'll catch up on all that porn I haven't had time to read."
"You could tell me the rest of your ghost story."
"Oh! Right. So, they were in the house, yeah?"
"There was a spiral staircase, I believe. And Nan was running from the doctor."
"Right. Ok." Cadman took a huge drink, then set her glass down and began talking. Her hands sketched movement in the air. Something Teyla hadn't seen in the cave, though it made sense.
Listening raptly, Teyla decided she rather liked the Earth concept of ghost stories. Tales of heroes that were fictional rather than legend and fact. People unable to explain uncommon occurrences, phenomenon they just couldn't quite understand. Perhaps it was simply higher technology.
The story ended rather sadly, though fittingly. Teyla silently held her glass up in a toast to the lonely people of the universe.
"And then, in the epilogue," Cadman grinned madly, "Nan's great grand-niece came back and blew the house up."
Teyla laughed. Of course there was an explosion, "Your favorite part?"
"It went BOOM." Cadman clapped her hands like a child, then grabbed for the drink she'd over-turned. "So. What's your favorite story?"
So many to tell. A smile formed on Teyla's lips, "It all began with a trade dispute on--"
"Are there explosions?"
With Cadman settled, mostly, Teyla began her tale. It wasn't a ghost story, but it would do.