You've heard it likened to water and the weight of it; a seemingly endless labyrinth, deceptive and calm, at times losing its people within its walls like keltaweed surging outward with the tide.
Yet you believe Atlantis to be more of a leviathan, fierce and majestic, and shrouded in myth.
(The origin of such a creature was mentioned over tea during a late night conversation with Elizabeth as you traded tales of importance. You remember leaving that discussion, and each similar instance thereafter, feeling as if you'd never share enough of one another's cultures; that there would always be details left to explore, stories untold.)
You turn the comparison over in your head, finding the description apt. The City of the Ancestors is both possessive and protecting of the people inside, and of the uncharted waters upon which it lies.
Your return to full alertness is a slow progression as you mentally stretch, shaking loose your meditative trance. You'd tried to explain the experience to Ronon once, when you still believed he could join you in meditation without falling asleep first. But Ronon finds his stillness in different ways and you haven't pushed the attempt again.
Rising from your position on the floor, you take a deep breath, preparing to be immersed once again into the rhythm of Atlantis; or more accurately, the people who inhabit it.
And there is a rhythm, a discernable pattern to your coexistence in Atlantis with Earth Humans.
When you first came to live in the city - with the dirt of the abandoned Athosian settlement still under your nails, and the realization that you may have to lead your people at a distance weighing heavily on your mind - it was entering the unknown and the mystery of the City of the Ancestors that appeared to be the most challenging.
That feeling was immediately eclipsed by the very real challenge of living amongst a people who saw you as different, as alien, and treated you as such. And you wondered if they'd ever considered that you saw them as equally alien and uncertain of their loyalties to your people.
Atlantis is a sturdy structure of metal and stained glass, and it's primary function for you and for Athos has always been to provide refuge and shelter. It is the people within who offered resources and sanctuary, however untested they initially appeared to be.
Your day does not always begin with meditation. Some days, it begins with breakfast in the mess hall with your team, or a cup of tea, alone or in the company of Elizabeth. Usually, it starts with one step outside your quarters and down the corridor, falling into stride with marines and scientists and other civilians who make up the community you've promised to protect.
This is a common beginning you share with these people, and it is on these days that you feel that pattern under your skin, and the pulse of Atlantis the strongest.
As you take advantage of the solitude of the west tower balcony, you recall a conversation with Ronon that reminds you of your earliest days in Atlantis, when you did not understand the relevance of Earth stories and the attachments Earth Humans placed on them, and your attempt at interest often failed under the weight of keeping the oral traditions of Athos alive.
You often wonder if he'd purposely followed you to the balcony or if he'd simply found his way there as you did your first year, as if Atlantis itself had carved the path for you both.
The reason ceased to matter when he'd first announced his presence by flatly stating, "They assume I want to know all these things."
The words were familiar because you'd thought them yourself when you were hungry for a moment alone; said them aloud to Halling when you'd sought out the shape of home and family that lacked in Atlantis, and did not have to monitor your words for fear of bitterness tainting them.
Halling's response to you then seemed even more appropriate in the face of Ronon's frustration.
A heavy gust of wind had whipped your hair into your face, momentarily stealing your breath. You took that moment to stare at the choppy waves below. In your mind Atlantis became that giant fabled Leviathan, circling through the ocean, forcing the water to bend to its will.
You'd eventually met Ronon's gaze. Your tongue had been cooled from the air as you'd wetted your dry lips. The weather had given you a lull and you'd take advantage of the sudden quiet, grateful at not having to raise your voice. "Not all, perhaps, but some," you had said, clear and even.
"Sharing these details is their way. They want you to feel… normal, like one of them. But it makes you feel different." You'd cleared your throat, needing a moment to collect your thoughts. "Perhaps you should share something in return, to let them know that you are already normal, and that your differences should be embraced."
Seconds passed before Ronon had shrugged, shifting his eyes to the horizon. He'd all but conceded to your point; it was just the words that were lacking.
Even though your smile was slight, the words still felt like a mouthful. "What is it you wish to know?"
And perhaps a slight nudge of encouragement. John and Aiden, especially, had been there for you in the beginning. Now you wished to offer your support to Ronon.
"What'd you share?" he'd asked with a grin.
You had laughed outright then, and had a moment of inspiration. You would tell him a different tale, and hoped he'd share a piece of himself in return.
Years later, as you've tested and been tested by the people you now call friends, the city itself, in some aspects, remains a mystery.
You peer out the front window of the puddle jumper to see Atlantis, as if the city stares back. With one eye closed, you set your sight upon the gleaming towers and hold the city between two fingers. It is deceptively smaller at this distance, as if it could fit into the palm of your hand, incapable of presenting a threat both to those within its walls and those who wish to invade it.
If you listen closely enough you can see yourself back on the west tower balcony some time ago. You can almost hear the waves crashing and the rumble of Ronon's deep voice falling into rhythm with your laughter; and the memory of it – solidifying itself in your heart as a good day – is comforting.
You liken it to the weight of water.