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Title: The Quick Bird On Hot Sand, aka Civilian Authority
Author name: Icarus
Author email: email@example.com
Summary: Teyla always wondered at the Atlantean planet designations. Could they not call each planet by its name?
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied. Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually quite generous.
Author notes: Unbeta'd, written for 14 Valentines. Someone pointed out that the 14valentines fics mostly feature men. I never noticed that before, but that's true. Clearly, we need a 14valentines fic that's centered on a woman. I pick Teyla, and the issue is glass ceilings.
She saw the wave out of the corner of her eye and suppressed the temptation to ignore it. She was in a hurry although she did not want to be rude.
"Hey, Teyla, wait up!" John said, loping through the halls. He was a little out of breath when he caught up with her. "I noticed that new move with the sticks on M3T-X97—"
Teyla always wondered at the Atlantean planet designations. Could they not call each planet by its name?
John demonstrated the move, right over left hand. Ah, yes. She knew the one.
"—and it was kick ass. Any chance you can show me that sometime?"
"It is somewhat beyond your level." She was being polite. It was far beyond John's current ability. Colonel Sheppard was only two stages above Jinto, not that she would tell him this. "I have a meeting with Elizabeth. But if you have time this afternoon, say, three o'clock? I will attempt to explain it."
John brightened, a smile lighting his face. He pointed, looking happy and smug. "Great! I'll be there."
She detoured around the science labs, but unfortunately, Rodney was working in the gateroom today.
"Oh, great work," his voice rose with biting sarcasm, cutting clear across the room. People froze at their work stations or pretended not to be listening as they slowed. "Have you any idea how long it would have taken before those crystals melted together? But, hey. It's okay! It's not as though we need the gate shield on a regular basis!"
Teyla winced as the collection of young scientists huddled around a panel spilling wires came into view. All four were newly come from the Daedalus, their shoulders hunched, looking at the floor, the wall, anywhere but at Rodney. Except a small dark-haired woman, who was giving Rodney a bitter glare that he returned with interest until she looked away. Doctor Zelenka was nowhere in sight. Teyla tried to resist the temptation to intercede, but the four of them would be making mistakes all week at this rate, and possibly never integrate into Atlantis. A leader had to make accomodations for new members.
She took a breath, thinking quickly. "These must be the new scientists come from the Daedulus. Perhaps you could introduce us, Rodney?" Her smile contained just enough brittleness to inform the young scientists that she was on their side.
Rodney fumbled and blinked as he attempted to recover names, and probably realizing for the first time that they were new. The irritation of the crew turned to bufuddlement as their ogre of a boss melted into a fallible human being right before their eyes. Finally, he spluttered and changed the subject. "You!" He stabbed a finger in the direction of the dark-haired woman, who was still visibly simmering with resentment. "Who assigned a completely green team to mess with such an important system?"
"Colonel Caldwell," she explained, her eyes narrowing. "He requested we examine the shield components for a similar shield on earth."
Rodney rolled his eyes, looking around the room helplessly as he threw up his hands. "He has no authority to—okay," he cut himself off with a shake of his head, and pointed at the young scientists in turn. "You, you, and you, report to Radek Zelenka for a real assignment. You," he motioned to the dark-haired woman as he started to walk away, "come with me and I will show you how to perform a non-invasive component check, not that I have time to lead the kindergarten class on Ancient Technology."
The gateroom personnel relaxed, returning to their tasks, and the palpable tension eased. Odd that Rodney selected the angriest of the four to assist him, but Teyla left him to his management style. The woman would either be impressed with Rodney within the hour or depart at the earliest opportunity. Teyla glanced at her chronometer, mindful that she was now several minutes late.
"Teyla! Just the person I was looking for."
Major Lorne always sounded as if he was mocking someone, possibly himself, but his smile was sincere. He had his "PDA" in his hand. Teyla's shoulders slumped and she let her eyes close even as she gave him a wincing smile, because she knew what that meant: Another hour of wracking her brains for information on planets the Athosians had not visited for generations.
"I get that reaction a lot, you know," Lorne said, his own smile lines deepening. His bright eyes sparkled with mirth. "Comes with doing all the colonel's dirty work." He walked alongside her almost jauntily. "So, I'd like to go over the planets we have scheduled this week, get the background intel. If you have time?" His raised eyebrows and beseeching expression made it not really a request.
Teyla gave him an apologetic tilt of her head. "I do not. I have a meeting with Elizabeth right now," she said honestly, with a desperate edge to her voice. "But perhaps over lunch."
"Great!" he said, snapping the lid shut on his electronic device. "I'll buy."
He always said that, yet the Atlanteans did not charge for food. She assumed it was an "inside joke" and put it on her long mental list to ask John. Their physical training sessions served many purposes.
Opening the door to Elizabeth's office, Teyla peered inside. She could not bring herself to develop the habit of knocking. It felt too strange and counter-intuitive to pound on a door when one's intent was to not disturb the one inside. Elizabeth was alone.
"My apologies for being late," Teyla said as she stepped in.
"It's fine. I know how busy you are." Elizabeth's smile was warm, if somewhat tense. Guilty, if Teyla read her right, though it was hard to know about what. Doctor Weir had so many concerns. Teyla settled in the seat across from her, running her hands down her skirt to smooth it.
Elizabeth took a sharp breath, leaning forward on her elbows on her desk. She glanced down. "Teyla. First off," she looked Teyla directly and held her eyes, "I want you to understand how invaluable you are to us in Atlantis. Without you, every gate contact would be a blind guess. You are an important member of Colonel Sheppard's team, and don't think for a moment that I don't know how much else you do around here. You are a natural leader and your experience is undeniable."
"But...." Teyla said for her, bracing herself.
"But," Elizabeth's face was wry and resigned. "I'm afraid that the IOA has definite opinions about your being assigned as my second in command of the civilians." She rubbed her temples.
Teyla tipped her head in resignation but she wasn't surprised. The Atlanteans were not her people and it did mean overstepping Rodney. Although she'd felt confident Elizabeth would handle it delicately, he... would not have taken it well.
"Everyone here knows that Rodney is ill-suited to command," Elizabeth said. It was gently put. Rodney was a disaster as a leader. "He wants the glory but not the extra responsibility. Plus, strangely enough, he takes the consequences of his decisions far too hard, and he doesn't build consensus. If it ever came down to just John and Rodney...."
Teyla nodded, understanding their predicament. John preferred to take all the risks himself and Rodney preferred to do all the thinking himself. They would end up with a command team of two.
Elizabeth's lips were sealed tightly around her next words. She had not relaxed yet, so there was more, and it was plainly worse.
"Go on," Teyla prompted with a small cautious nod, wishing to get this over with, and to relieve Elizabeth's anxiety. Bad news was best dispensed quickly.
Elizabeth chewed her lower lip. Then said, "The SGC says that you are, quote, 'far too valuable as a representative of the Athosian people' to give you an official standing on Colonel Sheppard's team."
"I do not understand." Teyla blinked, leaning forward. That part was just a formality. She had been on Sheppard's team for two years. The SGC on earth had been dragging their feet in giving her an official designation but.... "I gave up my position as leader of my people in order to assist you," Teyla said. "Halling is the Athosian representative."
"I know that. They know that." Elizabeth sighed.
"I am to have no rank at all?" Teyla was astounded, and was having difficulty hiding it. She had given up a position of great honor. To be offered nothing in recompense....
"Colonel Sheppard's team officially has three members, though you may accompany them as you see fit." Elizabeth sounded tired.
Teyla swallowed. "Ronon has a rank."
"He is listed as a foreign military specialist, like Teal'c on SG-1."
"And I am not." It was difficult to contain her anger. "Are they so afraid that I will overstep my authority? Become a usurper?" The very idea was insulting.
"I'm afraid this is more a matter of timing," Elizabeth said. "It seems they feel I overstepped my authority and you're being punished as a result. " Her tight smile was humorless, but determined. "We will try again, Teyla. I promise you."
"Why am I being punished? I am not even, apparently, within your 'chain of command,'" Teyla said, now flustered. "This makes no sense."
Elizabeth dipped her head, silent for a moment. She rubbed her eyes and said, "You're right. It doesn't make sense." She let her hand drop. "But the leadership of the SGC is military, and almost entirely men. It seems that I'm being 'put in my place.'" She said this calmly, with great patience, as if it had happened many times before.
At three o'clock, Teyla demonstrated the stance for the twelfth-level form of "quick bird on hot sand." John followed her movements as best as he could, the widening of his expression showing his comprehension of just how advanced it was. She probably did not blunt her blows as much as usual, though it was good for John to understand his "place" when it came to the upper level forms. The stick gave a hard crack as he slid and went down, catching himself on his hands.
"Okay. It may be a while before I get this," John admitted with a sheepish dip of his chin as she helped him to his feet. "And also, is something wrong?" He rubbed the back of his neck and limped a little. "Because, ow. That really hurt."
Teyla relented, shaking her head to clear it. She brushed away the loose strands of hair clinging to the sweat on her face. "My apologies. I should not be training you when I am angry."
"Yeah, I could agree with that." John rubbed his forehead with a small white towel. "So, what's the matter?"
She gave him a level stare. Then said, "Tell me about these 'women's rights' on your world." Her own rank among her people had come from her family and bloodline. It had always been so refreshing that the Atlanteans were at ease around her. She added, narrowing her eyes, "And in your military."
John's mouth dropped open. For a moment he looked like someone who had just been caught in a Wraith beam. Then he rubbed the towel through his hair, looking away. "Oh, wow, Teyla. You sure come up with the hard ones. That's a doozy."
"Yes," she said in a hard voice. "I am beginning to realize that fact."