She was expecting the event horizon to be stranger-looking, somehow. A few marines she'd talked to told her it just looked like water, though in some of them she could feel something behind the words - perhaps the awe of those who already knew what laid behind it, who'd taken a step and crossed galaxies.
She'd asked Dr. Zelenka, but he'd gone into a rapid-fire stream of mathematics she could barely understand for more reasons than just his accent. There were other scientists to ask, those who'd been on gate teams and those who only knew the theory, but she'd decided that she would wait and see; there was something to be said for surprise, too.
They'd given her several days' leave to fly home, and try to explain to her mother a situation she knew little about and wasn't allowed to divulge any details of. She hadn't said she might not be back, only that she might be out of touch for a very long time. Her mother hugged her and looked into her eyes and didn't press, and Teyla let all that peace flow into her, different from anyone else she knew, worlds apart from the hectic chaos suddenly all around her back in Antarctica.
Here in her home town the snow still stretched untrampled for miles, and those she passed all nodded a greeting and spoke her name, and Teyla held her eyes open against the pain she might bring, and didn't try to explain her reasons. Her mother knew about doing what needed to be done, and she knew all about those who couldn't stay on the ground.
She was back too quickly and not quickly enough. There'd been too many months of routine, of silence broken only by a trickle of human voices, so much like her childhood and so different. Anticipation felt unfamiliar, almost suspicious, and she couldn't help but think back to those last times the world felt anything like unpredictable. That last mission, the court marshal, her transfer orders, and it was almost like those things were standing in her way when she tried to reach that place she'd always been able to find - the open stillness she'd known since she'd been too young to have words to shape it, sitting cross-legged on a rock in her heavy coat with clean snow all around, watching her father's plane approach.
Maybe the event horizon never stood a chance in the middle of all that. It did look like water, a little, and like something completely mundane, not like the door to other worlds. Unexceptional, like Colonel Sumner's eyes, noting her an unreliable part out of alignment and passing on to more immediate concerns.
She half-expected it to feel familiar on that light-years-spanning step, too, somehow. Like being torn into her component particles and put back together could possibly feel like that moment of breaking through the cloud cover, shapeless white nothing like snow all around below you, suddenly rushing through the clear blue sky.
"Major Emmagen," Colonel O'neill said, and nodded with half a grin, and she gave in to sudden impulse and sketched a small salute, before turning and following a tall, dreadlocked man and the whole crush of others through the ring and something wholly new and unexpected.