Atlantis culture was not representative of Earth culture, Elizabeth had told Teyla more than once. "Well, really, there is no such thing as 'Earth culture'," she added the week before Teyla's visit there. "Perhaps the best way to think of it is like a couple hundred planets all coexisting together." Which Teyla hadn't been able to make sense of, but she was used to that, after several years of living with the expedition.
"No, Elizabeth's right," John said when Teyla expressed her doubts while they waited at Midway station for the Milkyway gate sequence to dial. "And she gave me a carefully-phrased lecture about giving you an adequate introduction to some of the more prominent ones, but I figured we'd just go stay with my cousin and do some day trips, if that's okay with you. Maybe take a weekend to the city for some museums."
"She did make it sound somewhat ... overwhelming," Teyla agreed. "And I would like to get to know your family."
"Well, that's pretty much just Bill." The stargate burst into existence before them; it looked the same as the one that had brought them here, the same as they all did. Really, it ought to at least be a different color, to signify that a strange new world lay on the other end. "I hope you like the rural life," John said, his wry tone suggesting some hidden jokeshe couldn't guess at.
Apparently rural life involved packing more people than Teyla had ever seen at once along a road that divided apparently endless fields.
"What exactly is the occasion of this?" Teyla had asked several times already, but Bill and John kept getting sidetracked into reminiscing about the few pieces of childhood they'd shared. John had disappeared into the crowd, though (on a very special mission, he'd claimed), so perhaps this time Bill would be able to get through an explanation without being distracted.
"Independence day," Bill said, as though that should mean something to her. "Day we signed the Declaration, a couple hundred years ago. Told England we were free."
"Free from what?" But her question was drowned out by a sudden explosion of cheering, accompanied by craning of necks and jostling for position, and she found herself unexpectedly adrift among strangers. But even as panic began to clutch at her stomach and spine, she was pushed toward the front of the crowd and could suddenly see what the shouting was about--and realized that it was from exuberance, not fear.
There was music, and banners, and many people walking in formation down the road, in a line that stretched far enough away to curl out of sight behind a hill. And shining vehicles of many shapes and colors, some with flashing lights--all the most perfect target for a Wraith attack Teyla had ever seen.
But the Wraith couldn't come here, could they? They'd never been here. These people had no need to worry, nothing to guard against, no concerns except that everyone be involved in the celebration.
Perhaps that in an of itself was enough to celebrate.
"There you are," a familiar voice said in her ear, and John's hand presented her with an oblong object on a stick, colored in violent blue and white and red stripes. "Better start licking--I think half of it's dripped onto my hand already." So she did. The sweetness overpowered any flavor it might have been intended to have, but it was cold and wet and very welcome--as was John's steady stream of commentary for the remainder of the parade (and now she could put a picture to the word).
Bill rejoined them toward the end, and afterward they went to something called a 'church picnic', which involved blankets on the grass and fried chicken, and much later, there were fireworks.
"I think I do," Teyla said, as they waited in Midway station for the Pegasus gate sequence to dial.
"Do what?" John asked. Someone had handed him a pile of folders on their way down into the mountain toward the gate room, and he was sorting through them with an abstracted manner that meant they were going to get handed off to Lorne as soon as they arrived back in Atlantis.
"Like rural life."
"Oh, right," John said, and looked over at her properly with a smile. "That's good. Only don't tell Elizabeth--she'll say I'm indoctrinating you."