Summary: This year, Teyla doesn't mind being on the outside looking in.
Author's Note: Much thanks to mizz_magenta for the beta. Any remaining mistakes are mine, and anything that sucks is my fault, too - probably because I didn't listen to her. Oh, and she had better suggestions for the title, but I didn't listen to those either because I was feeling uncreative. (So, Sally? I'm sorry!) :)
During Teyla’s first Halloween at Langford University, she’d been too preoccupied with her status as persona non grata on campus to really pay much attention to the festivities. She had noticed the people dressing up in bizarre costumes and reflected on how different their customs were from her own experience with Dia de los Muertos in the village where she’d grown up. Afterwards, hearing all the fun people had that night, she’d been disappointed and a little depressed to have missed out.
This year, though, she was determined to have a good college Halloween experience. She immersed herself in helping the gymnastics team prepare the haunted house in the gym, learning all the tricks, from theater props to the sound effects CDs that had made the gym's haunted house a legend in Langford history.
Now, a week before the event, she had been sent out to plaster the campus with flyers. She’d made good rounds, sticking papers to all the academic buildings, pinning them on bulletin boards, and taping them on the ground on the main walkways. Now there was only one place left to cover.
She moved purposefully to the giant stone ring on the quad, knowing that of all the places she’d put the flyers, this would probably get the most traffic. But when she reached the quad, she stopped dead. Apparently everyone else hosting a party had the same idea – the ring was covered in colorful papers.
Teyla walked up to it slowly, eyes searching for that one bit of free space she could take advantage of. She really didn’t want to have to cover up anyone else’s flyer, but it was beginning to look like she’d have to.
No, wait. There, a little ways up, there was a gap. She stood on tiptoe, but couldn’t quite reach. Turning, she looked around for something to stand on but before she had a chance to move, a pair of hands entered her vision and took the papers from her.
Startled, she turned to see Ronon Dex, new transfer student and football player extraordinaire, taping a flyer in the gap, which was in easy reach for him. As she watched, he silently began taping the flyer over some of the other announcements on the ring. He finished most of what she had left, then handed all but one back to her along with the tape.
Teyla was the first to break the silence. “Thank you,” she said.
He shrugged. “Not a problem,” he replied, glancing down at the flyer he still held. “What is this thing?”
Teyla smiled. “It is for the haunted house at the gym on Halloween. You ought to come.”
Ronon shrugged again. “Maybe. I don’t know what the big deal about Halloween is.”
It surprised her a little to hear her own thoughts from last year echoed back to. Although given the experiences her first semester at Langford, she could understand the desire to be someone else for a day.
“Everyone seems to have a lot of fun,” she pointed out. “And the atmosphere on campus is quite…” she struggled for the word. “Exhilarating,” she finished at last.
Ronon raised an eyebrow at that. “Okay. I guess I’ll go,” he said, shaking the paper in his hand.
“I’ll see you there.” Teyla smiled at him, then held up the papers in her hand. “I have to put the rest of these up,” she said, and with a wave she turned to leave.
Suddenly she turned back around, remembering something. Ronon still stood where she’d left him. “I have to remind you, this is a costume haunted house. You have to dress up!” And with that she left, laughing internally at the horrified expression on his face.
When Teyla was assigned to collect tickets at the haunted house entrance, she was disappointed at first. She’d been looking forward to working inside the gym, scaring the people who came through (she’d even planned on giving a particularly bloodcurdling scream when Aiden came through), but it turned out that only seniors worked the inside. The reputation of the haunted house was such that they wouldn’t risk newbies ruining it.
It wasn’t so bad, being stuck outside. She was learning more about campus life and gossip, the kinds of things people usually didn’t talk to her about. Now, as they stood in line in their costumes, she could easily listen to their conversations. She’d felt guilty at first, but it was impossible not to hear so she decided to enjoy herself.
Right now, the line was headed by a group of freshman girls dressed as, well, Teyla wasn’t sure what except that it seemed to require almost no clothing. They seemed intent on one-upping each other on staff make-out stories. So far the winner was a petite blond who’d come across John Sheppard and Elizabeth Weir stumbling into a closet in the law building.
“Yeah?” a tall brunette replied. “Well I stopped by Coach Cadman’s office yesterday and Dr. Beckett was in there. She said he was just giving her something for her twisted ankle, but I know it was more than that. I mean, she’s not even on crutches or anything!”
“Uh, Jodie?” The blonde shook her head. “Coach Cadman does have a twisted ankle. She was on crutches until last week.”
Jodie deflated, but she didn’t have time to wallow in her disappointment for long as Teyla waved them forward to enter the gym.
The next couple in line came to a stop in front of her booth, waiting for her to signal them forward. She had to space the groups out by two minutes to keep it from getting too crowded inside.
This couple stood silently at first. Teyla wasn’t sure who they were supposed to be, but she took the opportunity to inspect their costumes anyway.
The man wore all black, even to the mask that obscured half his face. The woman at his side wore a simple red gown and a long blond (very bad) wig. She kept reaching up and tugging on it, and her expression was less than pleased. She glared at her companion.
He gave her a sheepish glance. “I promise next time you can pick the costumes,” he said.
That seemed to break some tension, because the woman suddenly burst out, “Buttercup? Buttercup!? Do I look like a ‘Buttercup’ to you?”
“Hey, I like The Princess Bride, and if we’re going as a couple and I’m Westley, who else were you supposed to be? Inigo?”
“You’re going to pay for this, John,” she hissed, and Teyla’s eyes widened as she recognized Elizabeth Weir under the hideous wig.
As Teyla waved them past her, Elizabeth turned to John and added, “And next time, you better make sure no one’s around when you get the bright idea to make out in a storage closet.”
Teyla noted that a number of the staff had decided to come to the haunted house. Over the course of the evening she’d seen Dr. Jackson (dressed as Indiana Jones, and not by his own idea if his grumbling was any indication), Dr. Fraiser (a doctor, because, she told Teyla, she just knew people were going to hurt themselves this evening and she didn’t want to have to change), Jack O’Neill, Samantha Carter, Radek Zelenka, and Jacqueline Hathor (who’d chosen to come as an Egyptian goddess). Even Teal’c had stopped by and offered her a friendly smile as she waved him through the door.
When Ronon Dex showed up in the line, Teyla almost didn’t recognize him. Dressed in red shorts and not much else (although he was carrying a jacket) he presented quite a different picture from the one she usually saw. When he finally reached the front of the line, she smiled at him.
“You came,” she said. “I’m glad. But who are you dressed as?”
He glanced down at his outfit. “Some guy from a show called ‘Baywatch,’” he replied. “Apparently I look a lot like one of them. It was my roommate’s idea.”
“What do you think of the night so far?” she asked.
Ronon smiled at her; it was the first time she’d seen it. “It’s been… interesting. I can see what you meant about the atmosphere.”
The little clock in front of Teyla showed that two minutes had passed. As she waved Ronon through, she called after him, “Have fun!”
The line was shorter now, and Teyla recognized some of the students. Two of Aiden’s friends went through, telling her that Aiden was planning to wait at the very end of the line so he could go through the haunted house with her. The thought made her smile.
When the line finally came to an end, Teyla was disappointed to see that Aiden wasn’t there. She put the timer inside the moneybox and locked it. She was just bending down to pick up the shoulder bag she’d tucked under the booth when a voice behind her screeched, “Boo!”
Startled, she stood up suddenly, whacking her head on the underside of the booth’s counter. Almost immediately she felt warm hands on her shoulders, and heard Aiden’s voice apologizing for startling her.
“Does it hurt?” he asked, anxiously.
It did, but Teyla didn’t want to worry him. “I am fine,” she assured him. “I didn’t see you in the line.”
“I wanted to give you a little scare in honor of the night,” he explained. His tone was apologetic, but his expression was anything but. He took in her outfit and gave a low whistle of appreciation. “Xena?” he guessed.
Teyla nodded. “It was Brenna’s idea,” she said, referring to one of her teammates. “And you are…?” She trailed off, not entirely sure what to say. He wore his football jersey, but his face had been covered in a white powder and there was a trail of dark makeup down one side of his neck.
“I’m a dead football player!” he exclaimed proudly. “See?” He gestured to his neck. “Someone stuck a spike in my jugular.”
“I see,” Teyla said, humoring him. He knew she was doing it, but grinned anyway.
“So,” he said, rocking back on his heels. “You all set?”
She gathered up the bag and put the moneybox in it, then nodded. Aiden instantly took the bag from her, then took her hand in his and led the way into the haunted house.
Yes, she thought as she laced her fingers through Aiden’s, this Halloween was definitely going to be much better than last year.