Rating: PG (light language)
Spoilers: Early season 4; general cast & location
Summary: Baby, it’s cold inside. No, seriously. Atlantis right now? Freezing.
Author’s Notes: A snapshot of a short period of time post-4x02 Lifeline (includes spoilers). Thanks for Ana and General_Jinjur for fixing it up for me!
Winter on New Lantea came suddenly. One week the planet was warm and spring-like; the next temperature dropped and heavy winds rushed over the ocean to race through the city spires. Atlantis’ previous home world had been moderate for the most part, excluding the occasional storm. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that most of the expedition members were lacking appropriate winter gear.
“I hate this planet.”
“Has John not told me your nation is extremely cold?” Teyla asked from over the rim of her mug. Rodney rolled his eyes.
“Don’t believe everything you hear. Canada’s winters may be shocking to someone who probably spent ninety percent of his childhood surfing USA, but they have nothing on this.” This was the city’s adjustment period - a two week period (at least according to the life-support analysis team) where the air cooling system still ran and Rodney was reduced to clutching his cutlery through fingerless gloves. “I look like some sort of hipster beatnik.”
Knowing the meaning of neither hipster nor beatnik, but guessing they were unimportant in the grander scheme of things, Teyla remained silent and spread sweet jam on her toast.
“He forgot to mention that most of Canada’s population huddles along the border where it’s usually warmest,” John grinned as he slid his tray on the table next to Rodney’s.
“Ha, ha,” Rodney said flatly. “That’s called having an instinct for self-preservation, Colonel. Maybe you’ve heard of it?” John just shrugged and popped a piece of apple into his mouth.
“At any rate, you won’t have to listen to Rodney’s whining much longer,” John continued blithely, turning his attention back to his food. “The SGC is sending a load of winter gear for us on the Apollo. Should be here this afternoon.”
Teyla drank deeply again. “You know, of course, that you are always welcome to the garments my people have made for such weather.”
They did know. They just weren’t keen on the leather patchwork look that hung so well on Teyla and Ronon but somehow made Earthlings look ...awkward. Uncomfortable. It was strange to her that people who had abandoned their lives in their own galaxy on a mission with no expectation of returning home could be unable to countenance wearing a different style of clothing. She had adapted to their strangely identical outfits almost immediately, combining uniform pants with her own embroidered shirt and leather-patch jacket. It was a habit of theirs that still puzzled her now, years after their first meeting.
“Yeah, of course.” John looked sideways and stomped on Rodney’s foot, the movement jostling the table. Rodney muttered an affronted “Ow!” It was kind of John to attempt to prevent Rodney from offending her, but unnecessary.
Ronon dropped down next to Teyla with a thump and stole a piece of bacon off Rodney’s tray while he was grumbling and kicking Sheppard. “It’s good stuff,” he spoke up around a mouth-full. “Warm.”
The only appropriate response was to take a large bite of breakfast and hum a non-committal “mmm”.
The Apollo was met by a school of scientists and soldiers alike bundled up in the filched off-world survival gear of the gate teams. Large collapsable crates of compressed winter gear were among the first things to be unloaded. The ship’s crew was impressive in their efficiency - for people rarely in the city they knew very well how to deal with the anxious expedition members.
Thickly insulated boots, thin quilted under-layers, water resistant pants, thick knit sweaters bearing the SGC insignia, and military style winter jackets were crammed into the crates. There were also thin gloves and thick gloves, gloves with fold-back mitten ends and the cut-off fingers Rodney complained about, ear muffs, scarves, toques, full-face masks, and dual-layer thermal socks.
John remarked that all they needed were skis and the right kind of boots and the entire base could have taken a weekend vacation to the new mainland.
It was only proper procedure and a supplies office that took distribution very seriously that prevented a melee.
“Proper winter gear will be delivered later today after inventory! Back up!” the tiny Captain Fontaine shouted. A large, gangly Lieutenant had to lift her up to stand on top of one of the largest crates before anyone could hear or see her repeating that statement. The expedition members were normally relatively well behaved, but the cold was an unexpected consideration.
The customary anticipated problems during inventory or distribution never arose. There was often a handful of complaints after any drop - a few people unhappy with what they received, or some who didn’t receive anything at all. But not this time. Teyla could see it was enough to put Captain Fontaine on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But it never did. Instead, people bundled into their winter gear and settled down to wait out the remainder of the two week adjustment period. The science team continued making adjustments and repairs, gate teams headed out on cautious reconnaissance.
Rodney seemed to pay no attention to the oddity. He appeared to have only added a set of the thin winter undergarments under his uniform, the edges peeking out of his sleeves, and affixed a scarf and new gloves to his uniform and got back to work.
“You are not cold, Rodney?” Teyla asked on their way out of a senior staff meeting.
“What? Oh!” He took in her heavy coat, its high collar turned up against the draft from the air vents. “No, you’d be surprised how effective long underwear is in these situations.” He paused for a moment, hands still.
“Would you not be warmer with one of the new jackets as well, though?” For someone who had been complaining loudly and at length about the temperature he looked remarkably underdressed compared to the other staff members.
Rodney waved that idea aside with his free hand, the other keeping his portable touch-screen tucked under one arm. “While I have no doubt that the coats provided by the SGC are excellent, I spend a lot of time under Ancient consoles. Either the Ancients were extremely tiny circus performers or they anticipated our arrival and knew they would hate me. Personally, I’d put money on the second option.”
“Perhaps you would find your work easier and more comfortable if--”
“--If I let you hit me with sticks every other day? Don’t take this the wrong way, Teyla, but I doubt it.”
Teyla smiled and raised her eyebrows. “I was going to say if you joined me for some stretching exercises occasionally.” His face shifted through several expressions rapidly. Sensing an opening, Teyla pressed her advantage. “Nothing that requires a great deal of your valuable time or much exertion, Rodney, I promise. You may even find that the stretches relax you. Perhaps ease the pain in your back?” It had taken her some time to understand that while Rodney would seem to fight many suggestions tooth and claw, he was actually something of a pushover. And unusually concerned with not offending her.
His shoulders slumped in defeat. “I’ll try it, but I’m not promising anything!”
“I only ask that you give it a chance, Rodney.” Placing a hand on his shoulder she waited for him to bend his neck to press their foreheads together. “I do not believe you will regret it.”
Shoulders stiff and ears slightly red, he made his excuses and left. It was unexpectedly sweet.
Their next off-world mission was scheduled on the following day. P3T-M33 was currently entering the peak of summer according to the MALP readings and the team stood shivering in the gate room with bare arms and warm weather gear.
“Can we just dial the gate already?” Sheppard whined up at Carter, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and back again in an attempt to stay warm. Even Ronon looked uncomfortable. Or maybe he was especially cold seeing as his usual warm weather clothes consisted of a leather shirt-vest and pants, cut apparently to allow maximum air flow. He must have been freezing.
“Any time you’re ready, Sergeant,” she nodded at Chuck. As the wormhole coalesced, Carter bit back a smile at the fidgeting team. “You have a go, Colonel. Check back with us in a few hours.”
“Will do,” Sheppard tossed off a lazy salute before tucking his hands back into his armpits and muttering, “Let’s get the heck out of dodge.”
“God, it’s freezing in here!” The difference between the fine summer breeze on one side of the gate and the chilly gate room on the other was a shock. “Hey, you,” Rodney snapped his fingers at a nearby Marine bundled under many layers of clothing, chin tucked down into his high collar. “Lend me your jacket.”
“Rodney, I really don’t think--”
“He’s got thirty layers on! I hardly think he’ll miss it for the few minutes I borrow it.”
John looked like he was on the verge of stepping in, but the marine was already shrugging out of his coat and passing it to Rodney, who slipped it on as quickly as possible, tucking his hands up into the sleeves so just his fingers peeked out while he fumbled with the buttons.
“Jeez, who designed this thing?” The warm coats the SGC had sent were in Earth military fashion, a sort of heavy, thick material with two rows of buttons down the front. And as much as he was having trouble doing up the buttons with cold fingers, the style was most pleasing on Rodney. Teyla drew her eyes over the smart lines of it, rubbing her arms for warmth.
From her guard position on the upper balcony over-looking the gate, Cadman stuck two fingers in her mouth and whistled. “Lookin’ good, McKay!”
Rodney froze self-consciously, then made one of the more common rude hand gestures in her direction. Cadman laughed in response. Carter, coming down the steps, raised her eyebrows at him, but he was already looking elsewhere, fidgeting with his cuffs. “Why don’t you change and meet me in the conference room to debrief?” She suggested. “Twenty minutes.”
Ronon hardly waited for her to finish her sentence before he was gone. Apparently he really didn’t like the cold. John followed, and Teyla turned to make sure Rodney was coming as well, but he was already unbuttoning the borrowed jacket.
“Here,” he said, thrusting it toward her, “take it.”
The coat was overlarge even for Rodney, and hung long and loose on her body, but it was also warm from stolen body heat on the inside and thick-woven against the chill. Rodney waited for her to finish buttoning the front, rolling back and forth from the balls to the heels of his feet, his arms crossed.
When she finished, she looped one arm through his and steered him out of the gate room. “You are very much a gentleman, Rodney.” It was hard to hold back the wide smile she felt creeping forward.
“I--!” He looked almost affronted for a moment before his expression settled into a moderate scowl, the kind she had come to associate with embarrassment. “Just don’t forget to give it back to whatshisface later.” He froze. “Crap. Do you know which one that was? They all look the same!”
“I will not forget. Do not worry.” She patted his hand once. She had an excellent memory.