And may those ties of love be ours
Which discord cannot sever
And flourish green for freedom's home
The Maple Leaf Forever
Which discord cannot sever
And flourish green for freedom's home
The Maple Leaf Forever
"I want to be a Canadian," Ronon said in the Gateroom one day, and Chuck looked at him aghast over the edge of the DHD.
"You want to what?" he demanded.
"Be a Canadian," Ronon said. "What?"
"Oh my god," Chuck said faintly. "I'm a missionary."
Ronon had read about Missionaries when he read James Michner; Hawaii sounded nice and he wanted to see it sometime, though not as much as he wanted to see Prince Edward Isle after reading Anne Of Green Gables (which nobody told him was a girly book, assholes, until he offered to lend it to Sheppard and McKay fell off his lab stool laughing). The missionaries in Hawaii didn't seem like very nice people, but if that was Chuck's religion he'd roll with it.
"You are?" he asked, just to be sure.
"I am, oh my god, I am," Chuck still looked upset. "I taught you English and never even asked to learn Satedan and I and evangelised Canada to you and now you want to give up your culture and become a Canadian. I'm a missionary for Canada. I'm a social imperialist. I've destroyed your heritage."
"Uh," Ronon said, getting it, and then, "No. I think the Wraith did that."
Chuck looked even more upset at this, so Ronon decided to work on what Teyla called his Communication Skills, or lack thereof.
"Sateda's dead," he said. "You gotta give stuff up when you live with the Wraith. I'm tired of missing it. I want to be part of a tribe again."
Chuck's unhappy look faded into a more puzzled frown. "This tribe?" he asked, tapping the flag on his shoulder.
"Canada's not a tribe," McKay announced, dropping into the chair next to him, He plugged one of the exposed crystals from the control table into his tablet and started doing something fiddly with the touchscreen. "What are we talking about?"
"Ronon wants to be a Canadian," Chuck said.
McKay looked up, dumbfounded. "Why?"
"I like Canada," Ronon said. "I've been there. You guys are pretty cool."
McKay seemed pleased at being esteemed "pretty cool", but the doubtful expression hadn't quite left his face. "You've been to Vancouver, and you spent the whole time intimidating people into not killing me. Not that I'm not grateful, but Canada's kind of bigger than Vancouver."
"I like poutine," Ronon said. "And I get the offside rule in hockey."
McKay shot Chuck a look, and he held his hands up in a gesture of innocence. "I didn't teach him. I didn't even know he liked hockey."
"Tim Horton's," Ronon said, and both of the other men got distant, nostalgic looks for a minute. Ronon once ate five Tim Horton's sandwiches in a sitting, while Sheppard, McKay, Jeannie, and her husband whats-his-name looked on in awe and Madison nibbled, huge-eyed, on a cruller. "I'm good. I pick Canada. What do I have to do?"
Chuck rubbed the back of his head. "I dunno, I think the SGC could probably just fake you up some Canadian citizenship papers."
"There's no like...rite of passage?" Ronon asked.
"There's a citizenship exam," McKay said doubtfully. "I think they ask you what colours are on the flag."
"Seriously? You guys have kind of low standards."
"Can you imagine a Canadian rite of initiation?" Chuck asked, grinning suddenly. "Very politely blindfolded, driven out to some field outside Calgary -- "
McKay snorted. "Tapped three times with a hockey stick -- "
" -- asked to swear on each province by name -- "
" -- in Quebecois -- "
" -- and then given a Loonie to hang around your neck -- "
" -- while you sing the national anthem," McKay finished.
"I know the national anthem," Ronon muttered.
"Chuck." McKay snapped his fingers and made a circling gesture. "I need one more hand. It's attached to your arm."
Chuck gave Ronon a long-suffering look and crossed to the control table, crawling underneath it to open the lower access hatch.
"You know," he said conversationally, "Given that they were telekinetic geniuses and all, you'd think they'd make this crap easier to get to."
"Mm, they probably didn't need to open the access panels at all."
"Then why install 'em?" Ronon asked.
"Personal theory? The Ancients had a super secret slave race they made do all the gross and boring jobs," Chuck replied.
"Yeah, they're called Marines," McKay said, and they were still snickering when Colonel Carter approached.
"Gentlemen," she announced, with one of those weird smiles she got, like she'd like to be in on the joke but knew better than to ask. "Rodney, Ronon, can I see you guys in the conference room for a minute?"
"Working," McKay replied in a sing-song.
"Is it life and death?"
"That depends. Whose life?" McKay asked. "If I drop this crystal it'll start a chain reaction that will probably set Chuck on fire."
"Do not want!" Chuck called from under the console.
"When you're done not setting Chuck on fire, then," she said. "Ronon?"
Ronon tipped his chair forward and followed her into the conference room, which was already half-full; Sheppard and Lorne were doing the sulky-leaning-thing they did, Zelenka was working away as happily there as he would have been in the lab, sitting next to a quiet Teyla and an anxiously fidgeting Keller.
"I could go maim McKay into obedience," Sheppard offered, when he saw Ronon was alone. "Sometimes that's the only way," he added protestingly, when Teyla and Zelenka glared at him.
"Apparently whatever he's doing involves deliberately not setting someone on fire," Colonel Carter said. "I think we're fine starting without him."
She paused and drew a deep breath, which pretty much always meant bad news.
"A coded communique came through to me early this morning, from Dr. Jackson at Stargate Command," she began.
"We weren't scheduled for a databurst," Sheppard said.
"I know. He felt it couldn't wait. The IOA decided two days ago to send representatives from Earth through the space bridge, to assess our progress in Pegasus."
"Oh, great," Keller said, then flushed bright red. From the looks around the room, however, she was only saying what everyone was thinking.
"Yeah. They're scheduled to arrive next week. We were scheduled to be informed about two hours before they showed up. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we're being screwed with."
"Gee, that's unexpected," Sheppard drawled. "You want us to screw back?"
"With enthusiasm. I'd like to slate some demonstrations for them, to keep them busy and out from underfoot. Marine drills, that kind of thing," she said. "Teyla, if you feel your people are up to it, I thought the IOA representatives might enjoy a show of native Pegasus Galaxy culture."
"Something...long," Teyla said. "Time-consuming."
"Something like that."
"I know of several worlds that would be happy to provide entertainment in the form of ritual dances," Teyla continued. "And prayers of welcome and goodwill."
"Oh, please, do. Dr. Keller -- "
"I could give a really interesting lecture on Ancient medical technology," Keller beamed.
"I bet you could. Sheppard, do you still have the tape of McKay doing that debate -- "
"Like eight copies," Sheppard's grin outshone even Keller's.
"A tour of the labs," Zelenka suggested.
"Uh -- that'd be great but maybe we can clean up the -- "
" -- explosive machinery, yes, absolutely. I am certain Rodney also will have many ideas."
"Nobody talks like Rodney," Sheppard muttered.
"Please, feel free to submit applications for any activities you think might be of any interest at all to the members of the IOA," Carter said, looking proud. "And make sure everything is spotless and everyone has bright, shining faces."
"Let's go beat the Marines," Sheppard said to Lorne. "What do you think, maybe two or three hours of drills for our guests?"
"We could fly them over the mainland, show off the really big snakes," Lorne agreed as they left.
"All right, let's force-feed them Atlantis," Carter said. "Get to it. Oh, Ronon."
"Yeah?" Ronon asked, waiting while the others streamed out.
"I'd like you to be their personal tour guide. You know, make sure they know they can come to you with any questions or problems they're having. And of course, keep the blasters on -- we want to make sure they feel safe."
Ronon gave her his best terrifying the newbies grin.
"I can do that," he said. "And I got one or two ideas of my own."
"Yeah," Ronon nodded. "I'm gonna need some golf balls, though."
There were two separate schedules for the IOA representatives' visit to Atlantis. The first was printed in multiple copies on soft white paper acquired from PRN-225 and handed out to the esteemed representatives when they arrived. The second was circulated and then kept in Samantha Carter's pocket, and was much more interesting:
Afternoon: Civilian and Section Heads Assembly, Gateroom
Greetings and Goodwill Ceremony (Two hours of chanting and some ceremonial facepaint. Good times.)
Evening: Formal Reception, Mess Hall. Buffet Dinner. (Uniforms pressed and ironed, people)
Athosian Sunrise Ceremony, Central Tower (Teyla says she can fake something awesome for this, plus tea. Ronon, be sure all the representatives are awake by 0530?)
Breakfast with Senior Medical Staff, Mess Hall (informal discussion of rotting diseases a plus)
Morning: Lab Tour (McKay, feel free to pretend they're as interested in what you do as you are)
Picnic Lunch, Pier 14
Afternoon: Senior Staff Meeting with IOA Representatives; budgetary concerns; Q&A session
Pegasus Galaxy Field Trip: The Historic Ruins of MT5-900, local name Ihnos; Ronon Dex and Jennifer Keller, Tour Guides
Informal Dinner, Mess Hall
Evening: Movie Night! in the Film Auditorium
Opening Film: Scientific Relations In The Pegasus Galaxy (McKay crushes the opposition!)
Feature: Casablanca (NOBODY GETS TO THROW POPCORN. I MEAN IT.)
Late Showing For Night Owls: MST3K Presents Manos, The Hands Of Fate
Breakfast with Senior Military Staff, Mess Hall (Sheppard, can you ACTUALLY hold forth on War and Peace?)
Morning: Civilian "City Hall" Meeting, Mess Hall (No issue too small for discussion!)
Lunch will be served at the close of the City Hall Meeting (Preferably around, say, 1400?)
Afternoon: Free time to explore the city, if schedule allows
1500: Citywide Assembly, East Pier
Marine Drills under the command of Major Evan Lorne (You can make this impressive, Lorne, you don't have to bore them)
Athosian Ceremonial Dancing (With dangerous sticks!)
Oration on International Goodwill by Radek Zelenka (Trust me, this is going to be hilarious. Who knew Zelenka was so ironic?)
Spinning and Sharpshooting Demonstration: Canadian Irregular Blaster Corps (Chuck, are you sure you're okay with this?)
Picnic Dinner, East Pier.
Evening: Starlight dance and musical concert, East Pier
Fireworks provided by the Atlantean Pyrotechnics Squad under the command of Lt. Laura Cadman
Breakfast with Science Staff, Anthropology and Botany Departments (Smelly plants a plus!)
Morning: What Can Atlantean Medical Technology Do For You? (Invasive demonstration of medical scanning and biopsy devices by Dr. Keller)
Lunch and exit briefing with Colonel Carter, Mess Hall
Afternoon: Farewell Ceremony (More face-painting!)
IOA Representatives depart, 1400 hours.
Ronon found the IOA representatives extremely soothing, because they took one look at him and then a second look at the blasters strapped to each leg and didn't ask him for a single thing the entire visit. Only one of them said anything to him at all, other than the necessary pleasantries; she seemed nice, actually, and he felt a little sorry for her. Dr. Khakov was new to the IOA, hadn't been on the board when he'd gone to Earth for his interviews, and he sensed that maybe she represented a change in the political winds.
"I'm told you're from Sateda," she said to him, keeping up relatively easily while the others huffed and puffed around the ruins of Ihnos. "I understand your homeworld was culled by the Wraith."
"S'right," he said.
"I'm sorry. I hope you know that Earth's presence here in Atlantis means we're doing everything possible to battle this new menace."
"Hardly new," he grunted.
"Well, not to you, I suppose."
"Anyway," he said awkwardly, "I'm immigrating."
She looked at him, confused. "Immigrating? To where? Atlantis?"
"Atlantis isn't a country."
"No, not really, but -- "
"Canada," he said, and she actually stopped walking. He kept going; after a few seconds he heard her running to catch up with him.
"You're immigrating to Canada?"
"How do you figuratively immigrate?"
"Gonna get my citizenship. And a new tattoo," he added, pointing to the one on his throat.
"Ah, I...see. Wasn't there something about a Canadian military corps -- they're doing some kind of demonstration for us tomorrow night."
"The Irregulars," Ronon supplied.
"Do you know any of them?"
"One or two," he answered, amused.
The next evening, as he and Chuck were checking their equipment during Zelenka's speech (which was every ounce as funny to the Atlanteans as promised, though the IOA didn't seem to be in on the joke), he caught Dr. Khakov's eye and grinned at her.
"You about ready?" Chuck asked, adjusting the strap that held the scrounged cricket bat on his back.
"Think so. You still okay with this?" Ronon replied, passing him a handful of golf balls to shove into his pockets.
"Sure, it's not me doing most of the shooting. Hey..." Chuck squinted at him. "Is that a new shirt?"
"Trying to impress Dr. Khakov? I heard her say she thinks you're hot."
Ronon glanced at him. "You're fucking with me, aren't you?"
Chuck grinned. "Just a little. But she doesn't have to say it, she checked out your ass."
"Whatever," Ronon said, crossing his arms.
"Game face time?" Chuck asked.
"Game face time."
Zelenka finished to wild applause and foot-stamping from the assembled population of Atlantis, bowed, and vacated the stage as a pair of burly Marines lifted his makeshift lectern and carried it off behind him. Ronon double-checked that his holster straps were secure and then led the way up to the platform. Next to him he heard Chuck take a deep, nervous breath.
"The Canadian Irregular Blaster Corps presents: a demonstration of arms proficiency for the edification of the Atlantean mission and the entertainment of the IOA," Chuck called out. From somewhere in the back, Lorne blew a shrill wolf-whistle. Chuck's voice dropped to near-inaudible. "One, two, three, four!"
Ronon's right hand flipped his blaster out of his holster almost of its own accord, at the same time as Chuck's did; they'd spent every spare minute rehearsing since the news came in, and they were as close to synchronised as they were ever going to get. They started easy with flips and spins and then he pulled his left blaster as well when Chuck began tossing; he could see the IOA representatives leaning forward, and some of the Marines whispering to each other. Most of them were staring at Chuck, who wasn't as ostentatious about his skills as Ronon was.
Ronon tossed his left blaster behind his back and over his head, which was Chuck's signal to holster his and pull the cricket bat out of the strap on his back.
"Cricket? Come on!" someone hollered.
"Target one!" Chuck shouted back, and batted a golf ball from his pocket over the heads of the audience. Ronon kept spinning with his left hand, lifted his right, fired, and blew it to little flaming pieces when it was just past the danger zone. A couple of Marines in the back still ducked.
"HEY!" Sheppard's voice. They were his golf balls, technically, but Ronon saw McKay clap his hand over Sheppard's mouth out of the corner of his eye.
"Target two! Target three!" Chuck batted two more in quick succession and Ronon held both blasters up to fire; dead hits each time. He holstered the left blaster, got one more hit off with the right, and caught the cricket bat without looking, smacking the golf ball high and fast when it entered his line of sight, listening for the rasp of leather that indicated Chuck had re-drawn his own.
He'd been iffy about letting Chuck do any firing because he only hit the ball about half the time, but considering everything so far, he didn't think anyone would care if Chuck missed by a mile --
And he didn't. The golf ball exploded, raining ash down into the water, and they reholstered their blasters in perfect sync.
The crowd went wild.
He bowed, and Chuck bowed, and then they bowed to each other and trooped off the stage and totally, no matter what anyone said, did not do a full-on body slam once they were mostly out of view.
That evening most of the representatives were too tired to do more than sit and pick at their plates and listen to the music -- exactly as Carter intended -- but once the dancing began Dr. Khakov actually asked him to dance. He taught her a Satedan waltz while listening to Sheppard curse as he continually stepped on Colonel Carter's toes and McKay brag to Cadman about Canadian superiority with firearms.
Three weeks after the IOA visited Atlantis and returned too exhausted to even write reports, the Daedalus arrived with its regular shipments, plus a package for Ronon that he hadn't been expecting.
"It's from Dr. Khakov," Sheppard said, wagging his eyebrows in an incredibly disturbing way. "Love letter?"
Ronon fell back on that old standby, "Whatever", and tore the large, thin envelope open at one end. McKay leaned over his shoulder shamelessly.
"Oh my god," he said gleefully, when Ronon pulled the sheaf of papers out.
"What is it?" Sheppard asked, looking irritated.
"CHUCK!" McKay shouted. Chuck, eating with a couple of other gate techs, looked up.
"WHAT?" he called back.
"RONON'S A CANADIAN!"
"YEAH, I KNOW!"
Sheppard grabbed the paper from Ronon's weirdly numb fingers as Chuck came over to see what the big deal was.
"...certify and declare that Ronon Dex whose particulars are endorsed hereon, is a Canadian citizen and that he is entitled to all rights, powers, and privileges and subject to all obligations, duties, and liabilities to which a natural-born Canadian citizen is entitled or subject," Sheppard read. He flicked the certificate to the bottom of the pile. "Voter card, absentee ballot -- you vote in...Goo..."
"Guelph," McKay supplied. "Nice little town. It's in Ontario."
"I know where Guelph is," Ronon managed.
"Medical paperwork, weapons permit -- hey, that'll be handy -- passport and..." he shook the passport and a small gold coin tumbled out.
"A loonie," Chuck said, taking it from Sheppard and passing it to Ronon.
"So much for a rite of initiation," Sheppard observed.
"We could still blindfold him and beat him with hockey sticks if he really wants one," McKay offered, ducking away with a cry of "Delicate brain!" as Ronon cuffed him in the head.
He never did find out who left a red command-colour jacket with a Canadian flag hastily sewn onto the arm outside his door the following morning, but he suspected one of the Canadian nurses, who was dating the Atlantis outpost quartermaster.
McKay shared his MRE brownies with Ronon for three whole weeks ("In the spirit of Canadian solidarity") before the novelty wore off and Sheppard stopped looking annoyed that Ronon hadn't picked the United States instead. Sheppard never did stop insisting Ronon did it purely for the gravy fries, though.
In Toronto, on a wall in a reputable if slightly run-down tattoo parlour, there's a photograph of a grinning, dreadlocked guy who said he was on shore leave and wanted a tattoo. He spent the whole time he was in the chair arguing with the tattoo artist about the upcoming parliamentary elections, and what the chances were of the Blue Jays taking the American League pennant that year.
The vivid red maple leaf just above his collarbone was small, compared to some of the guy's tatts, but whatever. It seemed really important to him.