Thanks for the reviews for the first few chapters… everyone seemed to like meeting the girls, and now we spend a little more quality time with the boys.
This chapter is dedicated to Oaktown Fangirl for the really lovely PM she sent me – it just goes to show, flattery gets you anywhere with me. :-P
Right, well, enjoy – hopefully the next chapter will be up quicker than this one… and will be less painful to write!!
Chapter Four – Picking Teams
"Okay… how we gonna do this?" John said, looking round at the large group of boys gathered on the soccer field. "I mean, it's not like we can pick teams…"
"Why not?" Demanded Bates. John didn't know his first name – it was how he'd introduced himself, and everyone called him that.
"Picking teams is the easiest way of splitting everyone up," agreed Marshall Sumner, Bates' roommate. He sported a crewcut and an almost permanent scowl, and John had a very strong feeling that he didn't like him. What Marshall didn't know, though, was that when someone didn't like him, John treated them like they were his best pal, just to annoy them.
"We don't know each other yet," John said cheerily, shrugging at Marshall. "We don't know how we play."
Marshall folded his arms and his scowl deepened. "Alright, what do you suggest then, Sheppard?" He asked coldly.
John grinned. "Aw, Marsh, you can call me John," he said jauntily. Marshall's expression hardened, and John ploughed on before he could reply. "How about this –" He raised his voice. "Everyone who's born January through June go stand over there," he pointed to his left, "and everyone born July through December stand over there."
The crowd of boys looked a bit confused but they all followed John's suggestion and split up. John quirked an eyebrow at Marshall and Bates, who both scowled at him for a second before going to join the July to December group.
John did a quick head count – there were 19 January to Junes, and 21 July to Decembers. "Well that worked better than I thought it would," he said with a grin. "I'll join the January to Junes and then we're even – there's nothing like a little twenty-a-side, right?"
There was a ripple of laughter through the two teams, but Marshall shook his head. "Twenty-a-side?" He said incredulously. "Do you know nothing about soccer?"
John grinned, refusing to let the guy get to him. "It's not really my thing – I'm more of a football kind of guy," he said.
"Basketball for me," said Ronon, who was standing just behind John.
"I like fishing," said Carson Beckett, a Scottish guy John had met at dinner the night before.
Marshall rolled his eyes. "Well, why don't you sit the game out then?" He asked.
John gave him an exaggerated quizzical look. "But then the teams wouldn't be even…" he said.
"Oh come on, let's just get on with it," exclaimed Rodney impatiently. John's grin was genuine this time – he knew for a fact that Rodney didn't want to start the game because he was eager to play; he wanted to start the game to get it over with. The only reason he was here at all was because his roommate, Evan Lorne, had goaded him into playing.
Evan spoke up now. "Rodney's right – who cares if it's twenty-a-side, it's only a friendly," he said. He was holding a soccer ball, and tossed it from hand to hand. "Let's play."
So they did. It was fast and furious, with ten guys going for the ball at any given time, and John hung back from the thick of the action. Like he had said, soccer wasn't his sport. He just didn't really see the point of it.
A few of the other guys, though, were obviously really into the sport. Evan and Bates were good, and so was the little Czech guy, Radek Zelenka. Carson was a good shot but didn't really go out of the way to get the ball. There was a young kid, Aiden Ford, who was zipping around the pitch like the roadrunner… he was fast. And Marshall Sumner… well, wow, was all John could really think. He didn't know much about soccer, but he was positive that the guy was good enough to go pro. And he wasn't the only one that noticed – every guy on the pitch just stood and gaped as he scored a double hat-trick of absolutely superb goals.
All in all, John was quite glad when the match was over and a lot of them decided to have a game of basketball before lunch. He was much, much better at basketball than soccer – but still, it wasn't really his game. He did enjoy it more, though. There were less people wanting to play basketball than soccer, but after the way John had organised the soccer match they all looked to him to organise this game as well. John didn't mind – he split the group into two teams of eleven, so it was still a huge game, but manageable.
Ronon was the undisputed star of the basketball court, something John did not find at all surprising given his size and agility. Marshall was playing too, and was very good at basketball as well – there was no denying the fact that he was an amazing sportsman.
After basketball came track – where Aiden Ford and Ronon both stunned everyone with their speed – and then they broke for lunch.
John walked over to the dining hall with Rodney and Ronon, and a gaggle of guys they'd been playing with.
"Are you not into track, John?" Asked Aiden Ford, who was at John's elbow. He was fourteen but looked about ten.
John gave him a grin. "Not really," he said. "Besides, I don't see what the point of me competing against you would be, Roadrunner."
Aiden grinned delightedly at the praise.
"So, football after lunch?" Said Evan Lorne, who was also walking with them.
"Hell yeah!" Said John with a grin.
"I'm up for it," said Ronon.
"Cool," said Aiden.
"Not a chance," said Rodney flatly.
John grinned as everyone chuckled. Rodney hated football. Well, playing it, anyway.
Rodney followed John and Ronon back to their cabin after lunch, muttering angrily about Marshall Sumner. The guy had been surrounded by a bevy of admirers all through lunch, and had obviously been lapping up the attention. John had found it amusing; Rodney thought it was sick.
"He's an example of everything that's wrong with this country!" Rodney said, slamming the door behind him. "He's an arrogant jerk, but everyone's fawning over him because he can kick a ball."
"And things are so different in Canada, eh?" Said John with a grin. Rodney glared at him for the 'eh', but it wasn't heartfelt. He was used to John's jibes about Canada by now.
"Alright, fine¸ the whole continent's messed up!" Said Rodney petulantly. He sat down on John's bed without asking and scowled at the opposite wall. "He's gonna get leader," he said. "It's gonna be awful."
Everything suddenly became clear to John. "You wanna be leader," he said, smirking over at Ronon.
Rodney turned his scowl on John. "I'd be better than that pinhead, anyway!" He retorted.
John made a face like he didn't agree, just to rile Rodney up. It worked – but before Rodney could respond, Ronon cut in.
"You would," he said. John and Rodney looked at him in surprise and he shrugged. "I don't like him," he said simply.
"What's not to like?" John quipped. He shrugged and went and sat down next to Rodney. "It doesn't matter anyway – Rodney's right, he'll probably get voted in – "
"Unless you do," said Rodney.
John blinked. "What?"
"Well, it's between you and Sumner…"
"It is not," protested John.
"Well yeah," said Ronon, shrugging again. "That's why you've been acting so… you know, nice to everyone, right?"
John frowned. "What?"
"No, that's just what he's like," said Rodney to Ronon. "Sickening, isn't it?"
Ronon snorted with laughter and nodded. John was totally at sea. "What are you guys talking about?" He demanded.
"Well, the way you took charge of everything, arranging the games," said Ronon.
"Well someone had to – "
"And how you were so nice to Ford and the other younger kids," said Ronon.
"Why wouldn't I be nice – "
"And I saw you giving Carson and that other kid basketball pointers…" said Ronon.
"They don't really have basketball in Britain – "
"Hold on!" John interrupted finally. "Are you saying I'm in the running?"
Ronon and Rodney grinned at him. "We're saying it's between you and Sumner," said Rodney.
John was silent for a moment, before flopping back on the bed until he was lying across it, his head propped up against the wall. "Well," he said thoughtfully. "That sucks."
And it did suck, big time. It turned out Ronon and Rodney were totally right – the vote was between John and Marshall Sumner, and the tension between the two was palpable. Sumner spent the entire afternoon and dinnertime glaring at John, who by the time the vote came round was too tired of it even to smirk back at him.
It was a secret ballot, but everyone was telling everyone who they had voted for, and the names 'Marshall' and 'John' were flying through the air. John winced every time someone came back from voting and patted him on the back, grinning. When the time came, he voted for Rodney, though he would take that fact to the grave.
Steve and Abe took a long time to count the votes – ages in fact. It was almost midnight before they were done, and after a whole day of sports, John was more than ready to just get to bed. They were all gathered in the dining hall, talking, playing board games, dozing off… but everyone woke up and shut up when the two counsellors came back into the room.
Abe stood at the front of the hall and nodded to them all. "Okay… well, this year's vote has been the closest in living memory," he said. "There were two main contenders – one took forty-one percent of the vote, and the other forty-three. Such a result was completely unheard of before today."
Everyone in the room seemed to sit up a little straighter.
"Consequently, we are changing the rules slightly," continued Abe. "Usually the elected leader appoints a second to help them with their duties, but due to the closeness of the vote we've decided to appoint the runner-up as the leader's second, straight up."
John bit back a groan. This meant that, whatever had happened, he was going to have to spend the summer working closely with Marshall Sumner.
"The two leaders in the vote," said Abe, "were John Sheppard and Marshall Sumner."
There was no response – everyone knew that already. They wanted the proper news.
Abe grinned. "Your new leader…will be Marshall!"
The room was suddenly filled to the rafters with cheers, boos and a cacophony of other loud noises as its inhabitants all celebrated or commiserated in their own way. John shook every hand that was offered to him and forced out a smile as he answered the guys telling him that they had voted for him.
He wasn't disappointed that he hadn't got it. Really – he hadn't wanted it. But he also hadn't wanted to be Marshall Sumner's number two.
John looked across the hall to where Marshall was sitting next to Bates, who was looking a little subdued for someone whose bunkmate had just been elected leader. John guessed that it was because he wouldn't be named Second.
Marshall looked over at John and narrowed his eyes at him – John managed to send a cheeky smirk his way, which made him scowl, but it was a hollow victory to John.
This was going to be a long summer…
"I can't believe you did that to me!" Exclaimed Elizabeth as she and Teyla walked into their cabin.
Teyla blinked innocently at her. "Did what?" She asked sweetly. Elizabeth glared at her, and Teyla rolled her eyes, dropping her ignorant act.
"You will be a wonderful co-leader, Elizabeth," she said sincerely, sitting down on her bed.
Elizabeth sat down on her own bed, facing Teyla, and her glare lessened slightly. "Well, thank you," she said. "But… but I'm not at all qualified. I don't really do sports. It should be you."
Teyla shook her head emphatically. "No, it should not," she said. "There is more to being leader than just playing sports. You will be able to organise things, and deal with crises, and talk to the other teams…"
"Oh, like you wouldn't?" Elizabeth protested. "You know you could do that too, Teyla. You have the patience of a saint."
Teyla grinned mischievously. "Not when I'm competing," she said. "I get very competitive."
Elizabeth cocked an eyebrow at her. "Really?"
Teyla nodded. "Absolutely," she said. "Especially against Wraith fields – I know several of the people who are there this summer, and I want to destroy them."
Elizabeth chuckled. "Wow, trash talk from Teyla Emmagen," she teased. "Ex-boyfriends?"
Teyla laughed. "In no way shape or form," she assured her. "But I detest them. They play dirty." She sighed. "You will soon see for yourself."
Elizabeth didn't ask Teyla to elaborate, for which she was glad. She got back to the point of the conversation. "Anyway, since I plan to play in so many of the teams, I would find it hard to do all the organisation," she said.
"Yeah right," said Elizabeth sarcastically.
Teyla shrugged. "The people have spoken, Elizabeth," she said, grinning.
Elizabeth's glare was back. "Only because you took yourself out of the running!" She replied.
Teyla shook her head. "You would have won," she assured her. And she was being completely truthful – Teyla had had her supporters at the vote, but it had been obvious that most of the people in the room were more appreciative of Elizabeth's cool head, administrative skills and kindness.
Elizabeth shook her head but didn't bother to disagree. It was a pointless argument anyway – Elizabeth was the leader.
"I hope you know you're not getting out of it," said Elizabeth as she got up to get ready for bed. "I'm appointing you my number two."
Teyla grinned. "That I can handle," she said.
TBC – Next, the girls and boys come face to face…