Hours after he'd taken the elevator down beneath NORAD, Oz left his interview-- audition-- whatever-- feeling a little shell-shocked. He'd expected the aliens. He'd known there was some seriously strange stuff going on under that mountain. He'd lived in Sunnydale for nearly two decades, and spent some time with a bunch of werewolf monks in Tibet; he'd figured nothing could surprise him after that.
He'd been wrong. It was a good thing he'd bothered to call Giles before turning the Air Force down out of hand-- he was going to have to call the Watcher back and offer him custody of his record collection if he got picked to go. Atlantis! It was the opportunity of a lifetime. He'd have been willing to take the trip no matter what the destination was, but it even came with the bonus of being located on another planet-- in another galaxy-- without any natural moons.
No forced transforming. Computers more advanced than anything the Earth had ever seen. And on top of that: a barely explored database full of knowledge, including a whole section which was-- according to Dr. McKay-- packed with the Ancient equivalent of sheet music, as far as their social scientists could tell. No-one had figured out how to transpose it to modern, human musical notation yet-- most of the scientists hadn't brought musical equipment with them, and they had a lot of other projects going on-- but they were allowing the new wave a few more personal items than the originals, and he'd just bought himself a brand new guitar. Everyone needed a hobby, right?
They might not let him talk about anything he saw there afterward, but surely they couldn't stop him from bringing back a few songs? He just knew the music would be out of this world.
He grinned to himself at the painful pun as he rode the elevator back up, drumming a rhythm against his thigh with the fingers of one hand. The other guy riding the elevator with him-- Harriman, he thought his name was, the sergeant who'd kept whispering in the general's ear during the party McKay had dragged him to after the interview-- met his eyes briefly, and gave him a polite, friendly smile. Oz smiled back, and gestured vaguely toward his own mouth. "Good cake?"
Harriman raised his eyebrows in surprise; then realized what Oz meant, and hastily rubbed frosting off his cheek. "Ah," he said, apologetically. "It's not all that often we farewell one of the original team. Well-- no, I guess it is kind of often," he corrected himself then, frowning vaguely, "but it's usually not a cake type of occasion."
"No, I get it," Oz nodded, knowingly. "Tight-knit group, huh?"
Harriman heaved a sigh; equal parts long-suffering and bemused, if Oz wasn't mistaken. He'd become sort of a connoisseur of sighs over the years, between Devon's girlfriends and the Scoobies. Giles in particular had sounded a lot like that, a lot of the time. "Eight years," the sergeant said.
He didn't elaborate any further; but Oz didn't need him to. "Could kinda tell," he agreed. "The Atlantis team is a lot newer, though, right?"
Harriman gave him a sympathetic look. "Yes, but they've been isolated for most of a year. There'll be a lot of new faces on your flight, though, if you're chosen to go."
So he wouldn't be completely on the fringe. Not that he minded the fringe, but; still. "Good to know," Oz acknowledged. "Thanks, man."
"No problem," Harriman told him, as the elevator finally came to a halt. "Good luck."
The doors opened onto the floor inside NORAD where Oz was supposed to switch elevators in order to reach the surface. Harriman, it appeared, was headed elsewhere in the warren of subterranean halls; Oz gave him a wave, then signed with security and started the next long trip up.
Yeah; he'd definitely made the right decision to take the interview. Oz felt really good about it; about the place, about the people, about the vibe among the project authority figures he'd met. Not only was it an awesome opportunity, he might even make a few new friends while he was out there. He liked the thought of that.
In the years since he'd killed Veruca and fled Sunnydale, he'd been a loner more often than not, and none of the friends he had made had been anything like the tight-knit Scooby group he'd left behind. Something about facing the impossible seemed to draw people together, he'd realized, regardless of location; and he'd seen that in the people under Cheyenne Mountain, too. He'd already met people who reminded him very strongly of Willow and Giles-- several Gileses, actually, including Sgt. Harriman-- and he'd be willing to bet there were a few more alien-fighting Scooby-equivalents back in Pegasus, too.
It was too bad he couldn't bring any actual Scoobies with him; he'd bet they'd thrive in that type of environment, too. None of them had even as much official education as he did, though, and the qualifications they did have weren't exactly the kind they could tell the military about. Vampires and slayers and uniforms? Totally unmixy things, as Buffy would say; they'd all witnessed that first hand.
Besides. This was his thing. He'd worked hard to establish creds for himself that had nothing to do with the beast that lived under his skin; he'd been worried he'd lose that when Colson had gone under, but if he'd read McKay right, he was about to trade life as "IT guy" for a high-octane company to "IT guy" for an entire technologically advanced city, however small its population. That was the kind of job offer that came around once, if ever.
The others had let the darkness define them. That might be the right choice for them, or even the only choice for some; but if he were granted this opening to leave it behind him? Oz was totally going to grab on with both hands.