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Title: One Simple Theme, or, The One About Pancakes
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 9,700+
Summary: She said, “The journey will cost you nothing that you are not ready to give,” and blah blah blah, Rodney knew the spiel. Walk through, try not to insult anyone, indulge in a feast of mammoth proportions, try not to get drunk, make nice with the locals, try not to molest Colonel Sheppard. It was all pretty much standard.
This Fic Features: Momentous Pancakes, Crudely Drawn Conclusions, Possible Misuse of the Term 'Puppet Regime,' An Overabundance of Large Hairy Names, Best Friends Being Best Friends Forever, One or Two Actual Serious Parts, and - sadly - No Actual Sex.

A/N: chopchica wanted something non-au, and millefiori wanted a sex-change, and well. I maybe fudged it a bit. Also, I've realized I mainly just write scenes and then string them together with near invisible threads. Hopefully this story makes some sense anyway.

ETA: I keep fiddling with the title. *hates it*



One Simple Theme
-or-
The One About Pancakes


Rodney had been off-world enough times to be leery of temples, shrines, sacred rings, etc. and the festivals, rites, and feasts that usually accompanied them. Still. The First Priestess had mentioned gifts, and gifts could quite possibly include the chocolaty-mocha scented plants that thickly rimmed the village clearing and may or may not be edible. They hadn’t figured that out yet, but Rodney was willing to just bury his nose in the wide, flat leaves and inhale. The entire village smelled like his nana’s house at Christmas.

“Are you certain you wish to do this, Dr. McKay?” Teyla asked, hand cupped over her forehead to block out the nearly blue bright sun. She was staring at the imposing, sand-brown building with a small frown pulling her lips. Six large, blocked symbols ran the length of the arched doorway, and she’d translated them hesitantly as “heart-wise,” “heart-sure,” and “heart-wish” respectively.

Rodney thought the glyph for heart looked an awful lot like Mr. Peanut. Which probably should’ve made him wary, except there were gifts involved, not to mention the wonderful happy blips he was receiving on his datapad that indicated a nicely-sized energy source hidden somewhere in the vicinity. The temple was the most-likely place to start.

“We should wait for Colonel Sheppard and Ronon to return,” Teyla cautioned.

“Presents!” Rodney reminded her cheerfully, and really. All he had to do was walk through the building and be blessed. How hard could that be?

The First Priestess, short and round-faced and reminiscent of a plump hen, moved to stand in front of him, a smile in her eyes even though her mouth was devoutly impassive, and a little girl by her side lifted a wooden bowl above her head, burnt umber liquid staining the sides as it sloshed.

Another bowl, empty and deep, edges curling inward, was held up under his chin. “May your thoughts be clear,” the Priestess intoned melodiously. “May your desires be purely writ.”

She set the bowl at his feet, tipped over onto its side, and a ripple of agreeable murmurs spread through the crowd of onlookers, amid nods and encouraging smiles and the occasional outburst from the village children: “Think of rain!” “Think of ripe, seeded fruit!” “Think of dancing!”

“May your mind be cleansed of all but what is in your heart,” the Priestess continued, taking up his left hand. She dipped two fingers into the muddy mixture and painted his palm, pressing a messy, ever-widening circle into his skin until she reached the first crease of his fingers. Then she folded them into a fist, tucking his thumb under.

“Protection,” lilted the child, voice whistling through two missing front teeth, and the First Priestess spared her a fond glance.

“Yes, little one, very good.” Then the smile from her eyes finally reached her mouth, and she told Rodney proudly, “She will be a great leader one day.”

Rodney fought off an eye roll and managed to only shift his weight impatiently, nodding. The little girl stuck her tongue out at him. Great leader, my ass, he thought.

The Priestess squeezed his tightly curled hand, and the thick, red liquid seeped out from under his fingertips, dripping onto his wrist. It felt sticky and warm, and he was not thinking about blood, and then she released him and stepped away.

She said, “The journey will cost you nothing that you are not ready to give,” and blah blah blah, Rodney knew the spiel. Walk through, try not to insult anyone, indulge in a feast of mammoth proportions, try not to get drunk, make nice with the locals, try not to molest Colonel Sheppard. It was all pretty much standard.

When she spread her hand outward in invitation, Rodney took a deep breath and placed a foot onto the first step of the temple.

Teyla touched his arm. “I believe you must concentrate on the one thing you desire most, and rid your mind of all else before you enter,” she said, and Rodney shot her a dry are-you-talking? look, since duh.

His thoughts were always thickly layered and intricately complicated, though, and how the hell was he supposed to think of one thing that he wanted? And maybe if he thought a slew of things at once, he’d be blessed with more out of confusion, and he’d walk away with a crate of coffee as big as Ronon – although, honestly, how would they get that home? – and a cat that looked like Gunther - only not really, since he didn’t like the thought of replacing Gunther with an exact replica, but maybe one distinctly Gunther-like – and, god, a fully-charged ZedPM, and a Nobel Prize – although he did have standards, and wouldn’t a Nobel Prize from a wish on an alien world be sort of moot, since what he really wanted was the prestige, and what kind of prestige could he get from P37-55X other than a few groupie village boys who probably couldn’t even pronounce thermonuclear, let alone have any concept of it, and it wasn’t as if he wouldn’t get one anyway

The question What do you seek? resounded in his head, mellow like a rumble rolling up from the stones beneath his feet as he stepped under the archway and into the cool darkness. A split-second later a flash of white light burned across his retinas and the words So shall it be were whispers against his skin. He blinked up from his position on the floor, sprawled out on his back.

It all felt a lot more ominous than he’d predicted, and he conceded that Teyla’d probably been right – not that he would ever tell her that – and he really hoped Colonel Sheppard and Ronon were back now, just in case he’d accidentally invoked a seventy foot Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

His radio clicked on, and a concerned, harried, “McKay?” crackled almost too loudly in the quiet stillness of the temple.

“Yes?” he answered, and wow. Calm, cool and collected, thy name is Rodney McKay. “What is it?”

“Are you fucking nuts?” Sheppard growled.

Rodney bristled. “I don’t think—”

“Shut up. Just. Stay where you are, all right?”

Since he sort of felt like he’d been beaten with a stick, he wasn’t going to argue. And then his nose and brain met in harmonic union, and he beheld the most glorious sight in the entire universe.

*

“Pancakes?”

Rodney grinned through a fluffy mouthful.

Pancakes?” Sheppard repeated dumbly. “Your heart’s desire, the one thing you wanted most in the world, was a stack of pancakes?”

The colonel’s tone was well on its way to shrill, and Rodney took a certain amount of umbrage, since it wasn’t as if they were just ordinary pancakes. They were his nana’s pancakes, with her own special blend of cocoa batter, and he hadn’t had them since he was eight. Rodney hummed around another forkful, blocking out Sheppard’s bitter, bitter words – he was obviously jealous – so he could enjoy his heart-wish in peace.

The syrup was just right, warm and cinnamon-y and maple-sweet, and the chocolate chips were hot and gooey and the only thing that could’ve made it better was a side of bacon, but for once he wasn’t going to complain.

Leaning over to sniff, Ronon started, “Can I—?”

“No!” Rodney poked Ronon with his fork. “Hands to yourself, yeti.”

Ronon narrowed his eyes. “Watch it, McKay,” he growled, and normally Rodney would’ve backed off at the first flash of the behemoth’s teeth, but these were pancakes, his pancakes, and Ronon was going to have to pry them out of his cold dead hands.

Hunching over his plate, he glowered back at Ronon. “You’re ruining the best moment of my life,” he accused hotly.

“They’re pancakes,” Sheppard said.

“They’re the most delicious pancakes I’ve ever eaten! They’re moist and fluffy and golden-brown and I don’t care if you think it was a wasteful wish, because perfection like this... just... doesn’t.” He lost steam, mouth a lopsided frown. He was getting awfully worked up over a stack of pancakes, and even for him that was just... weird. “Do you think I’m drugged? Oh my god, I’m drugged, aren’t I? This is all some sort of horrible, evil plot to rob me of my genius. I can’t believe you’d let them drug me.”

“McKay, you’re not—”

“Look into my eyes,” Rodney demanded, reaching out and grabbing a hold of Sheppard’s vest, yanking him closer. He widened his eyes as far as they’d go. “Are my pupils dilated? Do I seem drugged to you?”

“McKay,” Sheppard hissed, “remember your manners.” He flashed the First Priestess - who looked a little upset, and rightly so, Rodney thought, as she’d drugged him - a wide grin, prizing off Rodney’s fingers.

“My manners? My manners?” And then he noticed Ronon had nicked his forgotten plate and had his grubby paws poised over his delicious heart-sure pancakes and Rodney didn’t care that the man could kill him with his bare hands. The only thing keeping him from outright attacking Ronon was the thought of his pancakes tumbling to the dirty ground. “Don’t do it,” Rodney warned, face red.

Ronon just grinned mockingly at him.

“I can and will make your life a living hell,” Rodney went on.

Ronon’s grin widened.

“Teyla,” Rodney whined, abruptly changing tactics, and the woman arched her brows at him questioningly. “Make him give me my pancakes back.”

“Jesus, Rodney,” Sheppard snapped, getting to his feet. “Ronon, give him back his pancakes. McKay, stop talking about being drugged in front of our hosts. Teyla, just... watch them, will you?”

He stomped huffily away, and Rodney blinked after him. “What the hell is his problem?”

*

The energy reading turned out to be a half-buried device the size of a small terrier that whirred happily when Sheppard stepped towards it.

“Look familiar?” he asked, glancing at Rodney over his shoulder.

“Ancient,” Rodney said, tapping his datapad. “It likes you.” And then the readings spiked, and it let out an odd, keening wail, shaking apart, cracking the hard-packed dirt surrounding it.

Sheppard grabbed the back of Rodney’s neck and shoved him to the ground, sprawling out on top of him, arms over his head. But the small explosion and subsequent beam of light zeroed in on Ronon – the dumb beast had just stood there - hitting him square in the chest, knocking him off his feet, puffs of dust rising as he skidded across the ground.

“What the—?” Rodney pushed at Sheppard’s weight, and they both sat up, staring incredulously at Ronon’s fallen form. “Holy shit.”

“Ronon?” the colonel asked warily, watching as Ronon struggled upright, and Rodney’s whole world lit up, leaving him giddy inside and out.

Suspicions of drugs aside, P37-55X was officially the best planet ever.

*

Elizabeth was waiting for them at the end of the ramp as they stepped back onto Atlantis, and Rodney gave her a jaunty wave.

“Welcome back,” she said, smiling. Then, “And who’s...” Her eyes widened. “Ronon?”

Ronon growled unintelligibly.

“It’s been a fun couple of days,” Sheppard said, shooting Rodney a shut-up, shut-up-now, say-one-thing-and-I-will-snap glare.

The colonel hardly ever gave him that look, since Rodney suspected he found his rants more than a little amusing – which would’ve pissed him off, except he liked to rant, and Sheppard was the only one who ever let him go off without interrupting – so Rodney tilted his chin up and crossed his arms over his chest, mouth curling down mutinously.

“Ronon?” Elizabeth repeated, hand to her neck.

The ‘gate room guards looked a little shell-shocked, too.

Sheppard grimaced. “Maybe we should continue this conversation in the infirmary.”

Elizabeth cleared her throat. “Good idea, John. Lead the way.”

Carson reacted much the same way Elizabeth did, with a faint curse and a disbelieving, “Ronon?” and Rodney found it close to hilarious that Ronon looked exactly the same now as he did before. Only with breasts. And while Ronon’s hairy giant status had always been manly appealing and sort of rawly sexual, and, yes, very, very attractive, it made for a spectacularly ugly girl.

*

Sheppard had weird moods. For the most part, Rodney didn’t understand them, since Rodney had normal moods.

He had bad moods because incompetent rhesus monkeys were masquerading as his scientists, or because Bates made Miko cry, or because Ronon nicked the last pudding right in front of him, figurative thumb to his nose. And he had good moods because Kavanagh got turned into a slice of sourdough bread, or because Teyla squeezed his arm approvingly, or because Ronon saved him the last pudding.

But Sheppard had happy mornings after failed missions – like the time they’d been trapped in the middle of a blizzard, huddled together in communal sleeping bags, or that time on PX2-40S, when the natives forced them to perform an interpretive dance – and he went stiff and blank-eyed and plastered on his rubber grin when there was absolutely nothing wrong.

In fact, things were better, because Ronon – massive, feral Ronon – was a girl. A large, hirsute girl. There was no bad.

Yet Sheppard sat across from Rodney in the commissary with his ridiculously fluffy hair looking less fluffy than usual, casting fake smiles towards the botanists at the other end of the table, and it was giving Rodney indigestion.

“Are you going to eat that?”

“Of course I’m going to eat it, are you crazy? Eyes on your own food, Shaggy.” Rodney’s mouth snapped shut, watching incredulously as Ronon slapped his tray onto the table next to Sheppard’s. “What are you wearing?”

Ronon looked down at himself. “Clothes.”

Rodney jabbed a fork at him. “You look great. I thought you were ugly—”

Ronon growled, baring his teeth.

“—but you were merely un-waxed and improperly displayed.”

“Displayed, McKay?” Sheppard said tightly.

“What? Oh, come on, he’s a man. He’s not going to care if I’m staring at his breasts.” He paused, blinked, because those were words he never thought he’d say. They were pretty fantastic breasts, though, wrapped up in a Teyla-esque Athosian half-shirt.

“He’s not a man now,” the colonel argued, brows furrowed.

“I don’t mind,” Ronon offered gruffly with a shrug.

He still sounded like Ronon, too. If Rodney hadn’t already been completely at ease with his somewhat fickle sexuality, he’d have probably freaked out about the whole manly growl, plunging cleavage combination and the havoc it was playing with his libido.

Sheppard looked uncomfortable, though. Well. He actually looked pissed off. “Don’t you have work to do, McKay?” he bit out, jaw clenched.

“Eating,” Rodney pointed out cheerfully around a mouthful of reconstituted potatoes.

Getting to his feet, Sheppard rolled his eyes, grabbed his tray and strolled away.

Ronon grunted. It was a meaningful grunt, too, and Rodney eyed him suspiciously, but he really didn’t want to provoke a conversation with the man.

So Rodney shoveled in another bit of potatoes, humming happily, but Ronon didn’t take the hint. He was usually good at taking hints, since he wasn’t very talkative to begin with, but he grunted again and leaned forward onto his elbows.

“Sheppard’s mad at you,” he said.

“Yes, I noticed,” Rodney snapped. “He’s gone all chivalric with you, which is absurd, but expected, given his obliviousness towards women in general, and his misbegotten assumption that all females are delicate southern belles. I blame his gentle rearing.”

Ronon scrunched his nose. “Huh?”

“He thinks I’m trying to take advantage of you in your perceived weakened state,” Rodney clarified. “Apparently, he thinks you’d let me.”

Ronon chuckled. “Not now.”

“What? What’s that supposed to mean?” Because if there actually had been a time when Ronon would’ve let Rodney take advantage of him, Rodney wished he’d known about it.

Although the thought was kind of scary. Ronon was kind of scary. Sex with Ronon seemed vaguely terrifying.

“You don’t eat your partner after mating, do you?” he demanded, and he honestly didn’t think the man did, because that would’ve been ridiculously b-movie of him, but Ronon just flashed a sharp-edged grin and stole his pudding.

*

It was the sort of mission Rodney hated, with heat and bugs and restless, distrustful natives. Which was probably why he ended up tied to a stake in the round village courtyard, his datapad in pieces at his feet, Ronon unconscious, facedown in the dirt.

Teyla and Colonel Sheppard were nowhere or somewhere. They weren’t there, so Rodney took that as a good sign, because if he didn’t, he’d panic, and while panicking in general tended to be good for Rodney’s thought processes, panicking while effectively bound and gagged was just a waste of energy and a good way for him to start hyperventilating and pass out.

Ronon unconscious was extra bad, because the man-ape had an abnormally thick skull, even as a woman, and could shake off almost anything. Ronon’d been sprawled there for a while, though, unmoving, and Rodney’s hands had long since gone numb behind his back. His skin felt raw from the late afternoon sun, and his eyes were fixed on a curious, buzzing insect that kept zipping to and fro, dancing dangerously close, and if Sheppard didn’t orchestrate some sort of rescue soon, he suspected panicking would be the least of his problems.

And then Sheppard and Telya stumbled into his line of sight, the former falling to his knees, a bruise blackening the crest of his left cheek, lip split as he grimaced at Rodney. “Hiya, McKay,” he chirped.

Rodney groaned and closed his eyes, head falling back. They were so screwed.

But suddenly his hands were free and the rag between his lips was loosened, and Teyla was kneeling in front of him, briskly rubbing his wrists and then pulling him to his feet.

“Come. We must leave quickly,” she said, moving to Ronon’s prone body, shaking him into semi-wakefulness and then levering him up with Sheppard’s help. Ronon lurched forward unsteadily, Teyla braced against his side.

“What’s going on?” Rodney asked, scooping up the broken bits of his datapad, shoving them into his pockets. They were just going to let them go?

“Not the time,” Sheppard said, jamming a shoulder under Ronon’s arm with a hiss, half dragging him towards the edge of the village.

Rodney swiped the sweat off his forehead and started after them, eyes darting nervously. The natives watched, stern-faced, but they made no move to stop them as they limped past, out into the field that stretched before the stargate.

*

“You fought for me?” Rodney demanded, incredulous. “They made you fight for me?”

“Technically, they made me fight for the little lady, here.” Sheppard slapped Ronon on the back as they left the debriefing room, grinning widely.

Despite his cheerfulness – yet another prime example of Sheppard’s weird moods - Rodney knew his ribs were tightly wrapped, and the bruise on his cheek was swollen purple-black, another one just barely visible over the collar of his t-shirt, spreading out from his shoulder.

“No.” Rodney shook off Sheppard’s joking explanation. “No, they didn’t care about Ronon. Ronon wasn’t even bound. Ronon dropped like a tree when they clubbed him.”

Sheppard sighed, pausing in the hallway. “Rodney, you called the village elder a wookie.”

“I was talking to Ronon,” Rodney groused, flushing, “and they couldn’t possibly have known what that was!”

“It doesn’t matter. They didn’t like it. They wanted to gut you like a fish and lop off your head.” The colonel placed his hands on his hips, arching a brow. “Do you really want to complain about how you were released?”

“I wasn’t—I didn’t mean,” Rodney sputtered, flailing. “I don’t care how I was released, Colonel, I just,” can’t believe you fought for me, he finished lamely in his head, because the words were so pathetic and wrong, since it was Sheppard’s job to fight for him and it wasn’t surprising in the least, except it was.

Regular rescues usually involved a whole lot of firepower and stealth and maybe those nifty night-vision goggles Sheppard was so fond of - and, all right, yes, it was usually Teyla and Ronon on the saving end of things, since the colonel was just as likely as Rodney to get into trouble with his white-on-rice flirtations - but resorting to hand-to-hand combat, no matter what Sheppard had been trained for, seemed kind of... intimate.

Rodney was oddly touched. “Thank you,” he said, chin tipped up, and Sheppard tossed him a flippant, “Any time.”

*

“Your hand.”

Rodney glanced up from his laptop, irritated by the interruption. “What?”

Ronon bit off the end of a power bar, jerking his head towards Rodney’s left side. “Your hand’s still red.”

“Oh.” He flexed his fingers, curling and uncurling them over the dark stain on his skin. “It won’t scrub off. Annoying. Was there something you wanted?” Not that there usually was. Rodney suspected a great deal of Ronon’s time on Atlantis was spent being bored out of his mind.

Ronon shrugged, spun a chair around and dropped lazily into it, leaning forward into the back. His breasts squished together, almost spilling out of his top, and Rodney’s eyes automatically dropped to them.

“Are they—”

“Heavy. Weird.” Ronon cupped a palm over one and Rodney swallowed thickly, throat dry.

“Can I...?” Rodney asked, gesturing towards them, and Ronon shrugged again.

A throat cleared – loudly – just as his fingers brushed the top of one breast, and Rodney jerked his hand back and turned wide-eyes towards the doorway.

Elizabeth pursed her lips, head cocked, and Sheppard looked, well. He looked sort of constipated, with his arms crossed and jaw clenched, and then one eyebrow went up, up, up – honestly, it looked painful – and Rodney snapped defensively, “What?”

“Major Lorne’s team is three hours overdue,” Elizabeth explained.

Rodney frowned. “I heard the ‘gate activate—”

“We received Lieutenant Cadman’s IDC roughly twenty minutes ago, but there was no radio contact made, and no attempt to step through.” She clasped her hands together and bounced her gaze between Rodney and Ronon.

Rodney rolled his eyes at the implication. “You didn’t interrupt anything, Elizabeth.”

“Nothing wrong with a friendly grope,” Sheppard drawled, and Rodney narrowed a glower at him. He didn’t appreciate the man’s tone.

Ronon’s grin was conversely indulgent, amusement plain, but then he shook his head and got to his feet, his gruff, “Ten minutes?” all business.

“Fifteen,” Sheppard countered. “Teyla’s on her way back from the mainland.”

*

Rodney made it to the ‘gate room in five, buckling his thigh holster as he stood at the bottom of the ramp. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was there. Reconnoitering and rescue missions weren’t exactly his forte, but he was part of The Team – definite capital Ts – and Sheppard had very specific ideas about team bonds and dynamics and how they complimented each other in the field. So long as no one minded him bitching about being shot at, Rodney was willing to go along with that.

He hadn’t always felt that way, of course, but save a couple of lives a couple dozen times and even egomaniacs started building hero-complexes. It was honestly detrimental to his health, but Rodney had long since given up fighting it. Besides, the bonus of having saved those lives was that they were equally devoted to saving his.

A few minutes later, Ronon and Sheppard strode in, Ronon looking ridiculously hot in something that probably would’ve been swimming on Teyla, but managed to cling half-way down his ribcage. Sheppard had his aviator sunglasses on and his black tee and there was an extra lazy roll in his walk. Rodney tried to remember who the fourth member of Lorne’s team was, because there was no way the colonel was dressed to impress Teyla or Cadman or, god help them, Ronon.

“So, where are we going?” Rodney asked, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

Sheppard gave him a half-grin. “The uninhabited planet with the sweet blossoms and the freaky spider bats.”

“Spider bats,” Rodney grumbled. “Great.”

“They don’t bite.”

“They didn’t bite us then,” Rodney protested. “Apparently, they’ve eaten Lorne’s team.”

“Way to rally the troops, McKay.” Sheppard clapped his shoulder. Hard.

Then Teyla walked in, tacked up and serene-faced, and the sergeant commonly known as Chuck dialed out.

*

The MALP showed only red-orange twilight and bare-limbed trees thickly nested with brown-winged spider bats. There was no sign of the major, no sign of anything, really, complete with fairly innocuous surface readings, so the four of them followed each other into the event horizon.

The planet on the other side was dust-bowl barren and hot, and Sheppard said, “Huh,” and, “Do you remember this place being so... empty?”

“This is very different from what I recall,” Teyla agreed, looking around, a cautious frown on her face.

The spider bats tittered, their leathery wings rustling with dry fwaps as they rose en masse, circled and settled down again in the silver trees overhead, bodies big as crows.

“Spider bats are still thriving,” Rodney said mock-cheerfully, and then something blunt and hard knocked him in the back of the head and his vision grayed as he fell forward, Sheppard’s, “Rodney!” distant and tinny.

The dirt smelled like ash, burned against his skin as he slid roughly against it, and then another sharp blow blacked out even that.

*

Rodney woke with Sheppard hovering over him, a fresh cut across his forehead that ran close to his temple, and dark, hard eyes.

“What?” he snapped, and was surprised by the slight slur in his voice, the small movement and sound squeezing pain around the base of his skull. He groaned, eyes fluttering closed again.

“Rodney,” Sheppard said softly, tone completely undermining his expression. “Come on, you’re concussed. Stay awake for me.”

“Great,” Rodney breathed, looking up at the colonel again, noting the surrounding expanse of dirt... and more dirt. “What happened?”

Sheppard chuckled mirthlessly. “Oh, the usual. Previously uninhabited planet not so uninhabited anymore.”

“Sir,” Major Lorne moved into view, filthy with mud and dried blood, “we think there’s a pattern with the spider bats.”

Rodney planted his palms on the ground and pushed, struggling into a sitting position, then turning to lean against the wall of the...pit. They were definitely in some sort of pit. Parrish was across from him, long legs folded up and big hands curving over the tops of his knees. His nails were black with dirt, ragged, one finger red-brown with blood.

Sergeant Myer was standing with his head tipped back, staring at the rapidly darkening sky.

“A helpful pattern?” Sheppard asked, shifting up on one knee.

“Just speculation at this point, sir, but they seem to be circling overhead every fifteen minutes or so.”

Sheppard narrowed his eyes, face thoughtful. “They circled right before we were attacked at the ‘gate.”

“Right.” Lorne nodded.

“A patrol, then.”

“That’s what I’m thinking.”

“Which doesn’t help us very much,” Rodney groused half-heartedly, wrapping a hand around his nape with a wince, “since we’re stuck in a hole. Unless the freaky spider bats have magical ropes attached to their freaky spindly legs. Where’s everyone else?”

Lorne grimaced. “Not sure about that.”

“Major, Colonel Sheppard.” Myer was still gazing steadily upward, body tense.

And then Rodney heard it, the eerily silent creatures taking flight, only sound the flap and glide of their wings as they cut through the air above them.

“Problem is,” Lorne whispered without moving, “we can’t figure out how long they’re within sight, since the bats only circle once.”

“Who’s ‘they’?” Sheppard was eyeing up the walls and flexing his fingers, and Rodney knew he probably wasn’t going to like whatever plan he came up with, especially if it had anything to do with scaling the crumbling side of the pit with his bare hands.

“No idea,” Lorne said, just as Parrish offered, “We haven’t been able to see them.”

“It should be full dark soon,” Myer said.

Not that it’d do them much good, since the planet had three moons and, at the moment, lacked any indigenous cover. The pit was shadowed by the lip of the narrow opening, but moonlight already spilled down half of one side, washing the jagged rock in shades of bright white-gray.

Settling down next to Rodney, Sheppard asked, “How’s the head?”

“Broken. I think my brain is hemorrhaging.”

The colonel blinked at him. “You just want me to carry you.”

Rodney spluttered, “Like you even could,” before realizing that was more an insult to himself than Sheppard. He hastened to add, “I mean. You’re like a stick with hair,” waving a hand.

Sheppard’s brow furrowed. “McKay,” he drawled warningly, and Rodney gestured towards his head.

“Concussion!” he said. “You’re lucky I’m not hallucinating.”

“Are you sure you aren’t, Dr. McKay?” Major Lorne asked, grinning.

Rodney growled and Sheppard said, “Stop taunting the scientist, Major,” and Parrish gave a half-hysterical laugh, then choked out, completely off-topic, “Do you think Lieutenant Cadman is dead?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Rodney snapped automatically, understandably upset by the nausea that statement inspired, since Laura Cadman was a massive pain in his ass and he’d wished for her death on several different specific occasions.

Shadows flashed overhead and Myer, clearly startled, glanced at his watch. “It’s been barely ten,” he said, and then a familiar dreadlocked head popped into view.

*

Ronon called them Sand Travelers, nomads who thrived by migrating through stargates, manipulating worlds to suit their survival needs – dry heat, mainly, everything within their reach dying by a slow roast.

The women – Ronon included – had been deemed honored guests, while the men had been relegated to the pit and eventual death. But the lieutenant’s attempt to dial Atlantis for help had been met with suspicion and displeasure and—

Rodney gaped out into the middle of the small, torch-lit camp. “Is this a harem? Are they—you—in a harem?” he hissed at Ronon.

“Shut up, McKay,” Sheppard snapped.

Rodney ignored him. “Why aren’t you wearing that?” he demanded in a hush, the press of his body in between the colonel and Ronon as they hid behind a thick, stout-trunked tree the only thing stopping him from flailing an arm. It was like an I Dream of Jeannie fantasy come to life.

Ronon shrugged. “Too big. They’re tiny.”

“They’re crazy,” Rodney countered emphatically, then cocked his head. “How tiny are we talking?”

“McKay,” Sheppard ground out through his teeth, “Shut. Up.”

“Ewok tiny? Normal compared to you tiny? As in, not freakishly big tiny?” He was rambling, he fully admitted it, but wow. Cadman was hot, and he really wanted to scrub his brain with bleach and forget he ever thought that.

He’d cherish the diaphanous harem pants forever, though.

And then a gaggle of smaller than average people spilled out of one of the tents, chattering non-stop in grating, argumentative tones, and Sheppard muttered, “It’s like attack of the Joe Pescis.”

They were roughly handling their P-90s, shaking them curiously and staring down the barrels, and Rodney winced. “Oh, that can’t end well.”

“Sir.” Major Lorne was crouched at their feet. “Looks like Lieutenant Cadman’s left ankle is chain—”

A spate of gunfire and alarmed shouts swallowed the major’s words, and then Ronon slipped forward, knocking the nearest torch into a billowing tent before swooping in to help Teyla with Cadman’s binds.

Soon, half the encampment was ablaze, thick black smoke hanging low and heavy in the still air, silver-dead trees lighting up like kindling, and Rodney didn’t remember much in the ensuing rush for the ‘gate, fire following them at a frightening pace, except that Sheppard had a hand wrapped tightly around his wrist.

*

“You don’t have black lung, Rodney,” Carson said wearily.

“My breathing’s impaired,” Rodney protested, palm to his chest. “Everything tastes like burnt hair. My lungs are charred from the inside out and don’t you have some sort of,” he wiggled his fingers, “voodoo cleansing serum?”

Carson frowned. “How long has your hand been like that?” he asked. Then, “Voodoo cleansing serum? You mean water?”

Rodney rolled his eyes.

“You’ve been on oxygen already, Rodney. You’re fine, your vitals are fine, your head wound is healing nicely, you do not have black lung. The hand?”

“Oh, um,” Rodney wiggled his fingers again, holding the stained palm up in front of his face. It was dark red, almost brown like a birth mark. “A month? Since the planet that turned Ronon into a girl.”

Carson grasped his hand and tilted it towards the light. “And you’re not worried about that?” he asked, incredulous.

“No. Huh.” Lopsided scowl in place, he shook off Carson’s grip, because he should have been worried. He should’ve been knee-deep in panic for weeks, and it was honestly very weird that he wasn’t. He shrugged. “It’ll go away eventually.”

Carson’s eyes widened, expression turning towards concerned. “Maybe your head injury’s a wee bit more complicated than I thought.”

“That’s what I’m saying!”

*

Exactly one month and three days after the ancient device exploded and gave him rather fabulous breasts, Ronon strode into the commissary looking completely back to normal.

“You’re a man-beast again,” Rodney pointed out, only minutely disappointed.

Ronon sat down between Sheppard and Teyla. “I’ll probably miss them.”

Sheppard’s mouth had a slightly bitter twist to it when he said, “I’m sure McKay’ll miss them, too.”

“Oh, ha ha, Colonel.” Rodney scowled. One interrupted grope did not warrant nasty teasing. All right, well, it did – god, especially since there’d been an emasculated Ronon involved - but not from Sheppard, whose taunting had always been bright-eyed and playful in the past.

When Sheppard huffed and left – which was getting to be a bad, unattractive habit for the man – Ronon bit into his sandwich and mumbled, “He’s mad at you again.”

“I know,” Rodney agreed, frowning thoughtfully. “I’m beginning to think he’s got some sort of hormonal imbalance.”

Teyla gave him a censoring look.

“What? He’s been huffy and pissy for over a month! Everything spells fourteen-year-old girl. I’m just waiting for the waterworks to start.”

Teyla’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

“Keep going, McKay,” Ronon said, dark eyes lit with perverse amusement, and then Rodney remembered he was scheduled to spar with the Athosian woman later that afternoon and he clamped his mouth shut, because right or wrong – Sheppard was one step away from womanly curves, damn it – there would be no mercy on the mat.

*

During their next official mission, Rodney accidentally married Teyla.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t the first time something like that had happened – although the circumstances always differed, the variables were almost impossible to predict, and this particular ceremony had begun and ended the moment Teyla and Rodney had said the word, “Interesting,” in comical union, followed almost immediately by a bewildered, tandem, “What?”

‘Sharing Words’ was apparently considered a holy melding of spirits, and a sign of two soulmates meeting as one, blah, blah, blah. There was a feast involved, though, and the natives let them divorce amicably enough the next morning with no ill affects on their willingness to trade, so the whole situation was only mildly inconvenient.

And on the hike back to the ‘gate, when Rodney said, “At least it wasn’t Ronon,” and then, with a shudder for effect, “God, I’d rather marry you, Colonel, than that man-shaped wooly mammoth,” Sheppard started slightly, cocked his head, then winked at him.

Rodney’s mouth gaped a little before he caught himself, snapped his jaw shut and tilted his chin up to a teasing-is-not-appreciated angle. But the colonel just clapped his back, arm sliding in a brief squeeze around his shoulders, and Rodney flushed to the tips of his ears.

*

Ever since P37-55X, Rodney had a reoccurring dream about pancakes, syrup-drowned and moist and served on Colonel Sheppard’s naked man-abs.

Which really wasn’t surprising, given that apparently pancakes were what he wanted most out of life, and that his subconscious and/or drunk brain never had any shame at all where Sheppard was concerned. The man was too pretty for his own good. He was like a slightly more approachable, less moose-like version of Ronon, though they both had killer grins - Ronon just used his more judiciously.

But the dream never varied much. Just delicious, savory pancakes and hot, sticky syrup that really was just making a mess of Sheppard’s skin, dripping down into the hollow of his pelvis, and it was perfectly, wonderfully natural for Rodney to lick him clean, tongue tracing along the hipbone, the lean rope of muscle.

After he finished the pancakes, of course.

With no immediate threat of Wraith, a rich and delicious fantasy life – barring any surprise visuals of a half-naked Cadman, of course, which happened far more often than he’d like since the nomadic sand people incident – he figured things were all around better than they had been in a long while. Except they kind of weren’t.

For one, he was still really not worried at all about his red left hand.

And that was just wrong, since sometimes it even itched, and what if he was allergic to whatever paint they’d used on his skin, what if he was slowly but surely absorbing poison into his bloodstream? But he couldn’t bring himself to care. He acknowledged the stain absently with a rub here and there and an occasional thoughtful frown, but his mind absolutely refused to panic about it.

For another, Sheppard was acting odd. Or more odd.

And not his PMS, huffy, verge-of-crying sort of odd, or even his regular, post-mission, weird mood kind of odd, where he’d act the exact opposite way of how he really should – the spider bats and the intense ball of fire had filled him with loose smiles and fond glances towards Rodney in the infirmary, although that might’ve been the cocktail of painkillers Carson had prescribed for his burns – but a staring-off-into-space, ‘I am pensively wistful, see how handsomely I brood’ sort of odd.

Rodney’d been stealing his desert rations for nearly a week before Sheppard caught on, and even then his reaction was disturbingly disappointing. Or maybe just plain disturbing.

“You’re not going stupid on me, are you Colonel?” Rodney snapped. Sheppard had been staring at him for three full minutes with a glazed, slack-jawed yokel cast to his eyes.

Sheppard shook his head, and his slow grin could only be described as dreamy. “You don’t steal Ronon’s pie,” he said finally.

“Of course I do! He just steals it back. You, on the other hand,” he narrowed his eyes, “are being scarily indulgent.”

“I’ll always let you have my pie, Rodney.”

Creepy and dreamy, Rodney amended, gaze turning speculative. “Are you high?” He jabbed a finger at him. “And I swear if you tell me you’re high on life, or that I smell good, I will hurt you.”

Sheppard chuckled.

“What’s wrong with you?” Rodney demanded, honestly alarmed.

“Nothing. You just.” He shrugged. “You like me better than Ronon.” Fiddling with his spoon, he glanced over at Rodney with half-lidded eyes, the dopey smile making his expression seem accidentally coquettish instead of a practiced flirtation. Rodney wasn’t fooled.

“I like everyone better than Ronon,” he pointed out, which was a complete lie, but he had a reputation to uphold where the behemoth was concerned.

Sheppard nodded with a small hum under his breath, then said, “There were pancakes in the mess this morning.”

“There were?” Huh. He didn’t remember seeing any.

“I ate them right across from you, Rodney,” Sheppard drawled, bemused.

“Okay.” He eyed the colonel warily. He admitted that not noticing something as important as pancakes was clearly very wrong, but after eating so many in his sleep, breakfast in general had sort of become a blur lately, the only sharp points being his coffee, Sheppard, and, until recently, Ronon’s breasts. “And this is important because...?” he prompted.

“No reason.”

The happy, happy grin was really starting to freak Rodney out. “Right. Are you sure you’re not high? Wander past the botany labs perhaps?” The botany labs always smelled suspicious.

Irritation flickered across Sheppard’s face. “I’m not high, McKay. Jesus.”

“Well something’s wrong with you!”

“Pancakes, Rodney,” Sheppard stressed, exasperated. “You love pancakes, and you didn’t even see—” His comm. cut in, and his right eye twitched, and there was apparently a man-eating plant emergency in the upper level experimental greenhouse. His expression clearly stated ‘we will talk about this later, young man,’ as he cleaned up his food.

“Pancakes,” Rodney muttered to himself, watching Sheppard grab Bates on his way out of the commissary. Then he paused, straightening. “Oh,” he breathed.

Sheppard had been jealous. That was the only semi-reasonable explanation, even though it sounded completely ludicrous in his head, because jealous of a breakfast food? And, dear god, jealous of Ronon? Ronon was a lumbering man-dog that, all right, could be considered good company when he wasn’t busy looming menacingly or killing small animals or eating suspicious-looking tufts of moss, dirt, bugs, etc.

Although the most puzzling part of it all was just why Sheppard was jealous, since Ronon was hardly best friend material, and pancakes were only useful until you ate them.

And while Rodney might entertain a small, very small hopeful fantasy that the colonel wanted his undivided attention for something much more intimate than palling around Atlantis with broken halves of a bff bracelet, he honestly doubted that was the case.

*

There was too much blood.

An overabundance of blood, oodles of blood, and Rodney wasn’t sure how much of it was Teyla’s and how much was Sheppard’s and how much was the massive, razor-clawed, sharp-mouthed creature’s that Rodney had, amazingly, riddled with bullets.

He reloaded methodically and squeezed off another round, heart pounding in his ears but hand coldly steady, ‘til Sheppard coughed out, “Christ, Rodney, I think it’s dead already,” and breath flooded back into his lungs.

“Teyla?” he croaked.

“I am... fine.” Teyla clutched an arm to her chest, her lips a stoic line, pain pinching the corners of her eyes.

“What the hell was that thing?” Sheppard demanded, leaning forward onto his drawn-up knees, head hanging with exhaustion.

Rodney’s composure finally shook, and it took four stilted tries to get his spent sidearm back into its holster. “There’s more,” he said. “We’ll never make it to the ‘gate.”

In the distance, a sound like a strangled wolf-howl rolled towards them, and then in the opposite direction - much, much closer - came three simultaneous answering calls.

“God, so not going to make it,” Rodney muttered.

Ronon curled his fingers under Teyla’s arm and helped her to her feet, huge-ass gun at the ready. He maneuvered her towards Rodney, face impassive as he said, “Get to the ‘gate. Sheppard and I will distract them.”

Rodney snorted. “Oh, good plan. I can see why you’re not in charge.”

“He’s right, Rodney,” John said, rubbing a hand over his face, dark red with splotches of half-dried blood.

“You can’t be serious? You want us to just leave you?” Rodney asked incredulously, panic edging his voice.

Teyla swallowed thickly, paling, but she nodded her head. “I agree with Dr. McKay. Splitting up at this juncture does not seem wise.”

“Getting us all killed doesn’t seem wise, either,” Sheppard said calmly, “and we’ll never make it to the stargate without a diversion. Go through, get help, come back for us. All right?” He didn’t give them time to make another argument, just jerked his head sideways with a glance at Ronon, and the two of them were loping off, howls chasing them across the valley.

*

Carson discharged Teyla from the infirmary with three tight rows of stitches curving over the skin of her left bicep, additional dissolving ones knit into the muscle underneath, and with a measure of painkillers sure to knock her out for hours.

Rodney, relatively uninjured, paced the control room until the normally affable Chuck had two marines strong-arm him out the door. Elizabeth watched grimly with hands hooked behind her back, and promised to radio him the minute she heard anything at all.

He stalked automatically to the labs, and Radek wrinkled his nose.

“You have decided bathing is waste of time now?”

Rodney glared at him.

“You have gore on your hands,” he poked. “And smell like carp.”

Rodney glared at him harder.

Finally, Radek sighed, took off his glasses, rubbed between his eyes, then slipped the glasses back up his nose. “All right. What has happened?”

Rodney’s bottom lip quivered dangerously. “I lost Colonel Sheppard. Er. I mean.” Damn it, that came out all wrong.

Radek’s eyes rounded. “You lost him?”

“No. Yes. I mean, I didn’t exactly lose him.” He really didn’t lose him at all. He’d left him, which was ten times worse, actually, and maybe if he hadn’t been coming down off the adrenaline high of aerating a wolf-beast for nearly eating his best friend, he wouldn’t have been blinking back seriously embarrassing tears that Radek had better not mention to anyone ever.

“Sit, sit,” Radek said hastily, tugging him towards a stool, shoving a halved metal orb into his hands. “Here, work on this. I am ninety percent sure it will not blow up.”

*

Four hours later, Lorne’s team and SGA-12 came stumbling back onto Atlantis with Corporal Lee a barely breathing mangled mess.

A thick knot of bile lodged in Rodney’s throat as he watched the stargate deactivate behind Cadman. Sheppard and Ronon weren’t with them.

“Got dark too quickly,” Lorne explained, shaking his head. His eyes were hard as they followed the gurney carrying Lee out of the room. “The damn things multiplied as soon as the moon appeared, and we had to get Lee out of there before he bled to death.”

Sergeant Myer cleared his throat. “Sir, I suggest we take a puddlejumper back through.”

“Do you think it would do any good at this point?” Elizabeth asked, her tone implying that she really, really hoped so.

He nodded. “Yes, ma’am. There seems to be large bird-like animals on the planet, and while I can’t say they considered the,” he hesitated over his words, then seemed to settle on, “wolves prey, I noted a distinctly nervous reaction when they flew above them.”

“Nervous? Nervous how?” Rodney asked, stepping forward. He forced himself to stop wringing his hands, pressing his palms together.

“They scattered,” Major Lorne elaborated. “There wasn’t nearly enough of the birds to make a difference, but Myer is right, Dr. Weir. A ‘jumper might be the best place to search from. I think it’s Colonel Sheppard’s safest bet, too.”

“All right.” Elizabeth inclined her head slightly. “You have permission to take a puddlejumper through. Is there any reason this can’t wait until daylight?”

“I’d like to return as soon as possible, ma’am,” Lorne said, grip white-knuckled on his P-90.

“Corporal Lee—”

“All the more reason,” Lorne cut in, and his stance was suddenly rigid, jaw clenched.

“Fine. Volunteers only,” she added, brows arched. “I want the colonel and Ronon back as much as you do, Major, but let’s not act recklessly.”

“Understood, Dr. Weir.”

Rodney watched Cadman, Myer, and Lieutenant Miller follow Major Lorne out of the ‘gate room, down the hallway towards the ‘jumper bay, and he hurried to catch up. “Give me five minutes,” he said when he broke even with Myer.

Lorne glanced over his shoulder. “Dr. McKay, it’s probably not a good idea—”

“Of course it isn’t a good idea,” Rodney broke in, rolling his eyes. “It’s a horrible idea, since I very well may be maimed irreparably in the near future, but apparently my predilection towards occasional heroics has honed itself into a Sheppard-esque death wish, so unless you want to argue poorly about it for the next twenty minutes before giving in, you’re better off just capitulating now, while you still have your dignity intact.”

Frowning, Lorne said, “Five minutes. If you’re not there, we’ll leave without you.”

*

Their life-signs detector proved futile in finding Sheppard and Ronon, since it seemed to pick up the wolf-creatures, too. It was excellent for spotting nests of the things, though, and the sheer amount of them was beyond depressing. They dotted the landscape, hulking shapes in the dark, moving shadows under the large, yellow-red moon. Their haunting bays echoed over the surface of the planet and rose up through the clear, windless air; muffled by the thick metal of the puddlejumper, but no less eerie.

The ‘jumper proved useful, though, in that it did seem to scare them off. If they could find the colonel, they had a good chance of getting him and Ronon aboard without the beasts even noticing.

“Lower, fly lower here,” Cadman said suddenly. “Do you see that?”

“It’s.” Myer cocked his head. “It’s a Canadian flag.”

“Ha! I knew that’d come in handy again,” Rodney crowed. It was yet another testament to his incredible foresight and genius that he’d foisted his certainly-not-a-good-luck-charm – because he didn’t believe in voodoo like good luck charms now, did he? – on Sheppard three missions ago, after a village elder had mistaken the colonel for a pretty-eyed slave, and he’d ended up pants-less in the main square with Rodney’s beloved country’s flag as the only vaguely clothing related option.

Both Ronon and Colonel Sheppard were abnormally attached to earth tones and dark colors. He didn’t see how they’d have noticed their position otherwise.

“Hold on,” Lorne said, then urged the craft around again, sweeping even lower. “Definitely a Canadian flag. Good one, Dr. McKay.”

“Yes, yes,” Rodney murmured smugly, craning his neck to see, “always thinking ahead. Can we land?”

“Working on it,” the major rejoined. Then said, “Let’s see if we can take a couple of these fuckers out while we’re at it.”

Which was how they ended up landing on one, another plastered gruesomely across the windshield, drool-flecked gaping maw snapping half-heartedly at them as its yellow eyes grew dimmer and dimmer, and when Sheppard staggered up the gangway, he grinned, said, “That’s gonna be a bitch to clean,” and then promptly passed out.

*

For the first time since P37-55X, Rodney didn’t dream of eating pancakes:

His hand on Sheppard’s belly left a messy red print, and he slowly painted the curve of each rib, smoothed up over a nipple, over the bump of his collarbone, curled fingers around his neck, thumb pressing into the hollow of his throat. He watched almost absently as Sheppard arched into his touch, unfurling with a cat-stretch, a purr just under the surface of his skin.

He said, “Protection,” and Sheppard laughed, murmured, “No,” and trapped his wandering hand before it could sweep over his sternum.

“The red’s fading,” Rodney protested, blood thrumming almost audibly through his thick wrist, heartbeat in time with the thumb Sheppard pressed against the bone.

“It’s called sharing, Rodney,” Sheppard drawled, amused. “You can’t keep it forever.”

Rodney rolled over into consciousness, his comm. radio on the bedside table a crackle of, “McKay? You awake yet?”

“Awake,” he said to the ceiling. And turned on. And contemplating jerking off to Sheppard’s inane morning chatter. He didn’t, but it was a close call.

The colonel wrapped up with a, “Carson’ll let me out with an escort. Breakfast?” and Rodney finally pulled himself out of bed.

*

“I’m all right.”

Rodney harrumphed. “You don’t look all right. You look like you’ve been mauled by a bear.”

“No bears, Rodney,” Sheppard chuckled dully, “just big-ass wolves.”

He looked dead on his feet, skin pasty gray against the shocking white bandages covering the right side of his neck, peaking out from under his dark t-shirt, wrapped half-way down his arm. His eyes were bloodshot and hazy green with deep thumbprint bruises of exhaustion pressed underneath them, and he staggered once, then leaned heavily into Rodney.

Rodney automatically snaked an arm around his waist to keep him upright. “You don’t really want breakfast, do you?” he asked resignedly.

“My kingdom for a bed,” Sheppard muttered, letting his head fall sideways onto Rodney’s shoulder. “Carson hooked me up, buddy.”

“The good stuff, I hope,” Rodney said, rolling his eyes. “Come on. I’ll take your kingdom and set up a puppet régime.”

Sheppard snorted.

“You’ve been far too lax with your subjects.” Rodney maneuvered him around, tugging him towards a transport. “Unruly, the bulk of them. Nearing anarchy. The key,” he added, “will be the element of surprise.”

“Mmm?”

The transport doors closed and he propped Sheppard up against the wall. “Stay,” he said, then pressed the area of the map that housed the colonel’s quarters. He eyed Sheppard critically. “Do you even own a brush?”

Sheppard’s gaze sharpened for a split-second. “Yes.”

“Huh.” He tapped a finger to his chin, head cocked. “I figured just the sight of a comb would shock your hair into submission. I may have to reevaluate my takeover plans.”

“Funny, McKay,” Sheppard drawled.

Rodney flashed a weak half-smile as the doors slid open, and they were both quiet as they made their way down the hallway. “So,” Rodney said when they reached his room.

Sheppard slipped inside and Rodney absently followed, rubbing the back of his neck and dipping his head, watching peripherally from the center of the room as the colonel slumped down onto his bed, a fleeting wince flashing across his face as he jarred his shoulder.

“I’m sorry.”

Sheppard frowned. “What for?”

“For,” Rodney waved a hand, “you know.”

“Not really, no.” He patted the mattress next to him in invitation, but Rodney just rocked back on his heels.

“I shouldn’t have left you,” he spat out.

Sheppard looked bemused. “It was an order, Rodney.”

“Please.” Rodney made a face. “Like that means anything.”

Sheppard blinked. “I like to think so. Makes my job easier.”

“Just. Don’t do it again.” He cringed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He hadn’t meant to say that, actually, and he really hadn’t meant to use that desperate a tone.

“Give you an order?”

“Yes! I mean,” he spluttered, “I mean.” He jabbed an accusing finger at him. “You could have been eaten. And, true, if we’d stayed together we all could’ve been eaten, but at least we would’ve gone down as a team and you’re the one always harping on about having each other’s backs and blathering about no one getting left behind.”

Crinkling his brow, Sheppard scratched at a shallow cut above his right eye. “Okay,” he said placatingly. Then completely ruined the soothing gesture by adding, “Do you have a point, Rodney?”

Rodney wasn’t sure he actually did, and that was honestly worrying. Instead of answering him, though, he hustled forward and bullied Sheppard under his covers with a, “Lie down, lie down,” and a, “Stop talking now,” and then, when Sheppard cut in with a, “You’re the one talking, McKay,” he growled, “Do you want to go back to the infirmary?” which earned him a half-hearted glower and a petulant huff.

Rodney sighed deeply, planting his hands on either side of Sheppard’s hips. “If I pinky swear that we’ll be best friends forever, will you stop your womanly posturing?”

Sheppard’s eyes went wide. “My...” He trailed off, mouth gaping.

“Seriously, it’s getting old. All the huffing and flouncing and pouting.”

“Flouncing?” Sheppard echoed faintly.

“Here.” He grabbed the colonel’s hand, hooking their pinkies together. “I solemnly swear that Ronon Dex will never ever take your place in my life, no matter how many puddings he deigns to share with me, and if given a choice between a stack of pancakes and your company, provided the two are mutually exclusive, I will always choose you. Good enough?”

“Rodney,” Sheppard drew out indulgently, wriggling his fingers around to grasp Rodney’s full hand, pressing their palms together, hazel eyes shiny with what was probably one of the effects of Carson’s happy drugs, because Sheppard really wasn’t the shiny-eyed type. His smile was soft, though, completely unguarded, and Rodney’s heart clenched, sending a skein of pure pleasure down his arm.

Then. “Oh my god, you’re in love with me, aren’t you?” Rodney nearly shouted, eyes flying wide.

Sheppard flinched back, clocking his head on the wall. His face flushed red. “Um... Sorry?”

“Sorry? Sorry?” Rodney tightened his grip on Sheppard’s hand. He leaned forward, pushing close to his nose. “Colonel – John. I’m.” He paused, suddenly at a complete loss for words.

“Yeah?” Sheppard prompted warily.

“God. This is just. The best moment of my life,” he finally bit out, and wow did that sound cheesy when pancakes weren’t involved, but who the hell cared?

“That’s what you said about your pancakes,” Sheppard pointed out unhelpfully, a girlish moue curving his mouth down, but with something like amused affection shining in his eyes, and perhaps he was the shiny-eyed type when properly provoked.

“The pancakes were a fucking prelude, John,” he growled, and uncurled his free hand against John’s neck, kissing him like he’d honestly wanted to for months, wet and open-mouthed and maybe not as sweet as he’d imagined, since most of his fantasies included an ungodly amount of maple syrup, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except for the fact that fate was a cruel, cruel bitch and nearly half John’s body was in angry shreds, so even though he really, really wanted to lick all of John’s edges and live inside him for a while, he’d have to content himself with gingerly snuggling.

John lazily brushed his thumb over Rodney’s stained palm, frowning. “I think I can get this off for you,” he said.

Curled up loosely at John’s side, Rodney flexed his fingers. “Hmm? Really?”

“Paint thinner. Should be some in the supplies.”

“Isn’t that corrosive to human skin?” Rodney snapped, trying unsuccessfully to squirm out of his grasp.

“We’ll have water handy.”

“John...” He narrowed his eyes at John’s profile, noting the twitch of a smile at the corner of the man’s mouth.

Then his head fell to the side, smile morphing into his patented trust-me grin. There was blatant wickedness couched in the slightly parted lips, but Rodney always, always fell for it anyway.

“It won’t even sting, Rodney,” John drawled. “I promise.”


Comments

( 184 robots have taken off their pants — Take off your pants )
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(Deleted comment)
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:01 am (UTC)
*g* thank you!
smalldiver
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
Yay, loved it! The randomness, yet the seriousness. Pure brilliance.

Rodney's "Oh my god, you're in love with me, aren't you?" Followed by John's "Um... sorry?" Just killed me. You are the only person who can get me to like John/Rodney, by the way. Feel special.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:02 am (UTC)
You are the only person who can get me to like John/Rodney, by the way. but! but! they're so *flails* *is stunned but flattered*

thanks, hon :)
druidspell
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:15 pm (UTC)
PANCAKES! And John's womanly posturing!! *so very very in love*
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:02 am (UTC)
*giggles* thank you, m'dear :)
dancinguniverse
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC)
aww. I really liked this. And I love your Ronan. yay for clueless Rodney.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:03 am (UTC)
*grins* thank you!
kickthebeat
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC)
instead of true-blue comments, I will leave you with bits of the convo I had while reading:


keri: I LOVE HER RONON
keri: EVERY TIME
ez: SAME
ez: GOD
keri: HE IS THE PERFECT CANONICAL RONON
keri: JESUS
ez: HE REALLY IS
keri: he's chill and hangs out
ez: he's all, whatev!
keri: I KNOW
ez: i cry with laughter
keri: he's not all, WOE IS ME, NOT TAPPING JOHN'S ASS
keri: LIFE IS HARD

keri: JOKES ABOUT JOHN BEING A WOMAN
keri: OH
keri: MY
keri: GOD
ez: RODNEY-- YES
keri: I
keri: LOVE
keri: HER
ez: I SCREAMED
keri: SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME
ez: i just re-read that part over and over and die

keri: Ever since P37-55X, Rodney had a reoccurring dream about pancakes, syrup-drowned and moist and served on Colonel Sheppard’s naked man-abs.
keri: hey there, rodney.
keri: welcome to my life.
ez: same, jesus

keri: okay, so it's official
ez: best story ever?
keri: skoosie seriously is one of my favourite sga writers EVER
ez: I KNOW
ez: SAME
keri: SHE IS SO FUCKING FUNNY
ez: SHE REALLY IS


we are lame. YOU ARE OUR FAVOURITE, ALRIGHT? I know I tell you that every time and I MEAN IT, DAMNIT, IT IS SO WARRENTED. YOU ARE THE BEST OF US.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:04 am (UTC)
*is stunned* You dudes are awesome! This made me giggle and smile so wide :) *loves muchly*
tikiaceae
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
Yaaay!!!

I love this John and Rodney so adorable and sweet. And I *always* love your Ronon.

Also, this bit?
the sergeant commonly known as Chuck
just cracked me up. *g*
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:04 am (UTC)
*grins* thanks, hon! Ronon is always so much fun to write :) I loved making him a non-girl
eleveninches
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
Words cannot describe how funny this is. Ronon turning into a girl! John being jealous of Ronon and pancakes! The girly John jokes! The spider bats! And the end is sooooo cute. I love this to death.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:05 am (UTC)
*grins* thank you! *hugs* girly John jokes just never get old for me :)
looking4tarzan
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:49 pm (UTC)
“Rodney, you called the village elder a wookie.”



only rodney
LOL I loved this!
bloody brilliant....funny as hell too
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:06 am (UTC)
*grins* thank you!
torakowalski
Mar. 31st, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
Ohhh. This is funny and beautiful and romantic and so perfectly them all at once... and did I mention funny? Loved it.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:06 am (UTC)
*g* thank you, m'dear!
ulthyrja
Mar. 31st, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC)
I had a really fun time reading this. Ronon/Rodney interaction was totally amusing and who could resist jealous John!
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:07 am (UTC)
*grins* thank you! glad you enjoyed it :)
porntestpilot
Mar. 31st, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)
Brilliant and hilarious as always.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:08 am (UTC)
*g* thank you!
reginabellatrix
Mar. 31st, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC)
Awww... I like. Poor Rodney, trying to figure out John's moods and then not quite getting it right until John's all beat up and he can't do anything about it. Silly boys.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:09 am (UTC)
*grins* thanks! glad you enjoyed this :)
civilbloodshed
Mar. 31st, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
Firstly, I love you so, so hard for this line. *points down*

"Rodney hummed around another forkful, blocking out Sheppard’s bitter, bitter words – he was obviously jealous – so he could enjoy his heart-wish in peace."

It's the bitter part I love.


And Secondly, I LOVE IT ALL!
civilbloodshed
Mar. 31st, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
Also, I forgot, Chuck!TehGateTech, is actually Chuck! Martin Gero has comfirmed that in the scripts, Chuck is Chuck. *awesome*
(no subject) - mizz_destiny - Mar. 31st, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - civilbloodshed - Mar. 31st, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mizz_destiny - Mar. 31st, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skoosiepants - Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - civilbloodshed - Apr. 2nd, 2006 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skoosiepants - Apr. 3rd, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
of_evangeline
Mar. 31st, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
I've been looking forward to this since you first mentioned the words 'pancake fic,' and I have to say this didn't disappoint my expectations, no matter how much I hyped it up in my own head. You're my favourite dealer! *licks fondly*
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:12 am (UTC)
*laughs* thank you, darling!

I write an awful lot of stories about food *ponders why that is*
siegeofangels
Mar. 31st, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
Aww, I love pancakes this! Things kept happening that I didn't expect. Er, in a good way. A really good way. A Canadian-flag-loincloth and pancake-fantasy kind of way.
skoosiepants
Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:13 am (UTC)
*giggles* thank you! Things kept happening that I didn't expect. Er, in a good way. Ooo, that's always excellent to hear *loves*
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