Author: Brat Farrar
Approx Word Count: this part, 1,250
Genre: Adventure, humor
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Spoilers: Maybe for the first half of season one
Summary: It starts off like a joke - "A green man shows up at a party...."
Author’s Notes: This will be finished at some point, but it may take a while. Also, I think I borrowed the term "near-deer" from someone, but I can't remember who.
They were about due for a party—had come within a breath of dying more than once, lost more people than they’d found again. Everyone was a trifle giddy with being still alive, Lanteans and Athosians alike, all in their various ways. The scientists were arguing loudly and cheerfully over something incomprehensible, the marines were carefully pretending to not be standing guard, and the Athosians were laughing silently at the antics of their allies. Elizabeth and Teyla were both wearing brilliant smiles, Rodney was interrogating the cooks about the ingredients of the various dishes, and Ford was off somewhere in the woods with a hunting party, slaughtering more defenseless near-deer.
Not that they needed more—they already had enough food to feed a couple of armies, if said armies weren’t picky about the burned bits.
John had somehow been volunteered for spit-rotating duty. He wasn’t sure how that had happened, but now he was stuck with it unless he wanted to be served the charcoal that Jinto and his friends would produce if left to their own devices. At least they were enjoying themselves, despite the heat from the fire.
“Remember, turn it slowly,” John told Wex for what felt like the tenth time in as many minutes. “We don’t want to wind up with one side raw and the other black.” The hand he swiped across his forehead came back wet, and he grimaced at it before scrubbing it off on his already-damp t-shirt.
“Are they listening to you?” Halling asked, appearing at John’s elbow with two mugs full of something clear and presumable drinkable. John took a cautious sip of the one handed to him—he couldn’t identify the contents, but at least it wasn’t the paint-thinner he’d been fearing.
“No.” He gulped down the rest of whatever it was and handed the mug back. “Shouldn’t you be the one riding herd on them? Or one of the other parents?” Halling smiled and took a swallow from his own mug, the corners of his eyes gone all crinkly in the way that meant he would be laughing at John if it weren’t impolite to do so.
“Why? We get to ‘ride herd’, as you put it, all the time. It is only fair that someone else have a turn every now and then.” He surveyed the industrious and half-naked pack of boys with a proprietary air. “It looks to me like they are being very helpful.”
“Well, don’t come complaining to me if your near-deer’s inedible,” John warned him, and turned back to the spits with a sigh. “Hey, guys. Think it’s time to slop on some more of that gravy . . . stuff?” Halling clapped him on the shoulder with the look of a person who was enjoying himself far too much.
“I will leave you to your task. Boys, heed Colonel Sheppard’s instructions.” He strode away, mugs in hand, leaving John with the vague feeling that his competency had just been called into question.
But despite John’s pessimism and the boys’ enthusiasm, the meat turned out mostly edible, particularly when slathered with the Athosian version of barbeque sauce. Even the scientists stopped squabbling long enough to tuck into the meal, and John found himself listening with the satisfaction of a job well done to the noises of several hundred people devouring an awful lot of food. It was almost worth the prospect of smelling like roasted near-deer for the next week.
Of course, his job wasn’t over, even though people were finally eating—there were still a pile of gutted and dressed near-deer waiting to be roasted, and John’s pool of helpers had evaporated at the prospect of actual food.
Teyla appeared when John was in the middle of maneuvering a near-deer onto an empty spit, sporting a small smear of not-barbeque sauce on the corner of her mouth and a bemused expression. The combination was endearing, a reminder that she was quite human underneath all that serenity. Like Halling, she had brought John a mug of something.
“I did not think you would be working here all alone,” she said with a frown. With a shrug, John gulped down what appeared to be water—filtered, he hoped.
“The boys helped out for a while. It’s not a particularly difficult job.” Not difficult, just hot and messy and tedious. He squinted at Teyla and fought the urge to scrub a filthy hand through his hair. “So how did I end up on spit duty, anyway? Not that I’m complaining, mind you.” Except he was. “But I would have thought there’d be other, better-qualified people around.”
“I understood that you often did this as a child—I thought you would enjoy it.” And that wasn’t the answer he was expecting.
“Teyla, all I’ve roasted over any sort of fire are marshmallows and a couple of hot dogs.”
“Are not marshmallows the things you hunted as a child?”
“Marshmallows are small white blobs about yea big.” He measured it out with his fingers. “You stick them on the end of a—well, a stick, and roast them over a fire. They’re a type of candy. I don’t think that’s really suitable preparation for this sort of thing.”
“I am sorry, John. I thought to give you a chance to enjoy something from your childhood.” She sounded contrite, but he just shrugged at her again, turning one of the spits a couple of degrees.
“It’s okay. I never really know what to do with myself at this sort of thing, anyway.” Two of the near-deer were rapidly approaching ‘overdone’, and he hastily cranked them around so as to distribute the damage a little more evenly. If he’d been thinking ahead, he would’ve gotten the engineers to rig up some sort of spit-turning apparatus at the beginning of the whole shindig.
“It is not, John,” she said firmly. “I will go find some of our young men who are currently taking advantage of your good temper. You deserve a chance to rest as much as any of us do—perhaps more.” It was her ‘you are being stupid and I must save you from yourself—again’ tone. He’d learned pretty early on not to argue with her when she sounded like that.
And so five minutes later John was able to turn over his post to a half-dozen burly Athosians and take a seat beside Teyla. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was, and ended up contributing very little to the conversation, mouth too full for him to speak.
Halling and Teyla and one of the botanists were discussing crop rotation by the time John started to feel a little less like he had a hole where his stomach was supposed to be, and he was internally debating whether to bring up the viability of peanuts as a crop (because there had to be some somewhere in Pegasus) when the conversation stumbled to a stop. All the conversations—wary silence rippled across the crowded tables. John looked up from his third helping of near-deer, curious but not worried, and dropped his fork.
There was a man at the edge of the forest surrounding the village. A green man. A green man dressed as an Ancient. A green man seated on some sort of green animal—John squinted at the thing, wishing for the tenth time that day that he hadn’t accidentally left his sunglasses back in Atlantis. It looked an awful lot like a horse, but that couldn’t possibly be right. The nearest the Pegasus galaxy came to horses were the weird oversized rabbit-things on the planet with the not-cow herders. And those were a dusky blue.
The man was holding a very large, very shiny, very sharp looking axe, and John had the sudden plummeting feeling that he knew where the whole thing was going.