scherryzade: (newcomers)
[personal profile] scherryzade
Title: Newcomers: Out with the old
Rating: PG
Characters: John, Team, OCs
Disclaimer: Not mine (except the mistakes), no harm meant.
Summary: New Year in the Pegasus Galaxy for AR-1 and -27, and of course, nothing goes to plan.
A/N: This was meant to be much crackier than it actually turned out. Neurotic!John, who's been plaguing me all year, strikes again.
A/N2: Also, I started writing it last year, so it's set at the turn of 2009/2010. That means it's still AR-27's first year in Atlantis, less than a year since the city returned to Pegasus, and before Janel arrives in Atlantis.

Out with the old

John's had worse New Year's Eves.

One of the oddities of the Ancients' gate system is that almost every planet with a gate has an orbital period of one Earth year. Maybe not an oddity. It's more like yet another proof that the Ancients were a bunch of unimaginitive control freaks.

The seasons don't always match, and the days rarely do. Here on Dagan it's the height of summer, and it'll be 2010 sometime in the middle of the afternoon.

John's had worse New Year's Eves. That's what he keeps telling himself, to stop himself battering down the door to the great hall, grabbing the ZPM and getting them all the hell of this planet.

It's just the waiting making him twitchy.

No warriors in the great hall. So Rodney and Teyla are in there alone. (The Brotherhood knows Teyla's as much a warrior as the rest of them, but they also know better than to push their luck.)

Actually, John's pretty sure they're safer in there than he is out here in the courtyard. Because he's an idiot, and decided it would be a good idea bring AR-27.

The mission is a cakewalk - the agreement was hashed out weeks ago on a neutral planet, and today is just the formal signing and handover of the ZPM. AR-27 seem intent on turning it into something that also starts with 'c' and ends with 'k'.

He doesn't know how they'll manage it, because they aren't actually doing anything. He even sent Wright off with Ronon to keep the route to the gate clear. But if waiting for the handover ceremony to end is making John twitchy, waiting with AR-27 is just plain paranoia-inducing.

Rodriguez is standing attentively to his left. Every time he moves, she repositions herself so that, if they need to, they have both cloisters covered. It's a smart move, and on one level he's inordinately pleased that Radio's doing this without him prompting, but mostly he's just creeped out by how aware she seems to be every single movement he makes.

Dr Gibson is sitting against the shady south wall of the courtyard, leaning back with his eyes closed. He looks relaxed enough, but he hasn't stopped twisting his LSD round and round in his hands, its beeps and whistles clearly indicating that he has it tuned to the ZPM's energy output. And Collins -

Honest to God, he thinks Collins is sulking.

John didn't think it was possible to sulk while standing at parade rest in full combat gear in the middle of summer, but damned if that isn't what Collins is trying for.

"Cultural insensitivity, that's what it is," Collins says, finally.

"Not even Beckett will sign you off duty just because getting blind drunk for a week at New Year's is a grand Scottish tradition," says Dr Gibson, drily.

"I'm no asking for a week. Just -" Collins shrugs. "Two days, at most."

"You're a disgrace, Collins."

"He's a Celtic supporter, y'know. That's a f-"

"Collins!" hisses Radio, flicking a glance at John, who's wearing his smoothest, most serene 'I haven't noticed my subordinates pissing about' expression. He's glad of his sunglasses - he's never been very good at it. Of course, he has to compare it with Teyla's 'I'm ignoring you now, but I'm going to beat you with sticks later' expression.

Collins shuts up, but if anything his mood seems to worsen.

The half-dozen Daganians in the courtyard have picked up on the atmosphere, and mutter amongst themselves. And wouldn't it be John's luck to have a delicate diplomatic situation collapse because he forgot to check which gate teams wouldn't be satisfied by the more-or-less-but-who-were-they-kidding non-denominational holiday that Atlantis celebrated last week.

His Oblivious CO facade must have slipped, because Rodriguez blanches slightly.

He's had worse New Year's Eves, but he's damned if he can remember any of them.

"Hey!" says Dr Gibson. They all spin to face him, and he looks embarassed. He raises his wrist to show his watch. "Um, Happy New Year?"

They chorus "Happy New Year" back to him, and the mood starts to lift as some of the locals ask about the 'Lantean' New Year.

John's busy ignoring the (admittedly chaste) kiss that Rodriguez plants on Gibson, so he notices the calculating look that crosses Collins' face, and his heart sinks.

~

Rodney's about to step through the gate when Collins reaches out and grabs him, pulling him back. Rodney whirls round and flails a little, opening his mouth to tear a strip off Collins, but Dr Gibson steps in with a concerned "Mark?" before Rodney can get going.

Collins ignores both of them, instead tapping his radio. "Atlantis, this is AR-27. Has anyone come through the gate since 0000 Zulu?"

John settles for giving Rodriguez a pointed look, and she snaps "Collins!" just as the gate room comes back, Chuck sounding disconcerted as he says "Uh, no? You're the first? Is there something wrong?"

"No problem, Atlantis. Hold the gate, we'll be right through." Collins turns back to Rodney and puts a hand on the strap of his backpack.

Rodney, unsurprisingly, takes a step back, and yelps "What the hell?" Gibson slips between them, arms outspread, a placating move that might impress John if his hand wasn't itching to pull his sidearm on Collins.

Collins scowls at them both. "It's the New Year," he says, as if that explains everything. And apparently, to the scientists, it does, because they both relax and Rodney smacks a palm to his forehead, saying "First foot! Of course!"

"It'll bring a bit more warmth than a lump of coal," says Collins, and Rodney grins, and actually starts to slip the backpack off his shoulders.

"Ronon, right?" says Rodney as he passes the carefully cradled ZPM to Collins, but Collins shakes his head.

"I was thinking the -" He turns as he speaks, and his face falls as he finally registers his team leader and his CO glaring at him. "Um."

"I really hope you have a good reason for wasting our time, Collins," says Rodriguez in an admirably icy tone.

Collins looks down at the bag holding the ZPM, as if for inspiration. He grips it tighter, holding it up protectively in front of himself.

It's Gibson who says "The first footer - the first person who enters the house at the New Year - should be a tall, dark-haired man, bearing gifts of - what, coal, whisky? Salt, I think, or, uh, cake of some sort."

"Coal for warmth. Whisky for good cheer," says Rodney, blithely ignoring John's transferred glare. "Or a fully-charged ZedPM, which brings both."

Collins takes a hesitant step towards John, and holds out the backpack. "If you'd -" He gives an almost plaintive look, first to John, then at Rodriguez, then back. "It brings good luck, sir, to the household," he says, softly. "Luck to the city."

John stares at him.

"Ancestors know we could do with some," says Ronon, and Rodney snorts, but he also folds his arms and looks at John expectantly.

John remembers the last time they came back from Dagan, six years ago, empty-handed and burning with frustration and humiliation. He tries to remember other New Years on Atlantis, but it's a blur of struggles and battles, the galaxy turning against them time and again.

It's been years since he made any resolution other than 'Don't die'.

This time last year, he was stepping through the gate straight to Earth, unsure if he'd ever go back.

They know, now, that one ZPM is not enough to make a difference, not against the Wraith.

And he - he knows that he's been lucky. But he doesn't feel lucky, he feels ragged and worn down. He's spent the whole day steeling himself for a blow that never came, expecting the ground to fall out from beneath them when in reality, it's never been more solid.

He is lucky. Lucky to get to Atlantis, lucky to stay. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to have his team, his friends - and his men and women, his soldiers. Even Collins, standing in front of him and biting his lip, stripped of his usual bravado.

And, dammit, why did he choose AR-27 as backup anyway? Because he knows they've fought to shake off the worst possible luck that marked their first months in Atlantis. Because they know, as well as any veterans of the initial expedition, just how bad it can get out here.

He puts out a hand to grasp the backpack, and Collins relaxes visibly. "Two days?" asks John. "Really?"

Collins nods, serious. "It's tradition, sir. Just like the first footer."

He can't help laughing at that. "I'm sure Dr Beckett will agree. Even if he is a - Celtic supporter." Collins grins, and ducks back, leaving the gate clear for John to step through.

John shoulders the backpack, and steps through the gate into the New Year.


~~~



I don't know how convincing it is that Sheppard wouldn't know about first-footing, but still... (Also, clearly Ronon is taller and darker, but I thought it worked better with John. Ronon would have taken it in his stride, and apparently I wanted angst :) ...and the substitution of a ZPM for a lump of coal is inspired by our current methodology of grabbing the nearest attendant male (none of whom are either tall or dark), and shoving them outside with a pair of batteries and a half of whisky until the bells chime midnight.
To explain what Collins is bitching about: The UK has one bank holiday at New Year, except in Scotland, where we have two, the better to recover from drinking your way through New Year's Day. (On top of that, because this coming January 1st and 2nd fall on the weekend, the bank holidays are shifted to the following Monday and Tuesday. There will be people who interpret this as an excuse to keep drinking well into next week. *is embarrassed by compatriots*)
The alternate approach to celebrating New Year's Day is to find yourself a mountain and walk all the way up it being obscenely cheerful. I hope to find a happy medium ;)
Oh, and my personal canon has Beckett being the youngest of a large Catholic family, and therefore, naturally, a Celtic supporter. Collins, on the other hand, is undoubtedly a 'Gers fan, and, equally naturally, suspicious of Beckett's neutrality on the subject of allowing a Rangers fan to skive off work at New Year.




Anyway - just wishing you a Happy Hogmanay, and the very best luck for the New Year!
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