Spoilers: References to Trinity
Summary: "I need Beckett to meet us in the jumper bay. There's a chance Rodney and I might have been compromised."
John resisted the urge to look over his shoulder at Rodney one last time. Instead, he nodded to Teyla and waited as she dialed it up.
"You're clear to come through, Jumper One."
"Um, about that." John winced, hating how sheepish he sounded. "I need Beckett to meet us in the jumper bay. There's a chance Rodney and I might have been compromised."
The channel went dead for what felt like forever; John could imagine Elizabeth, already on alert due to their early return, crossing the room to stand at the sergeant's side with a half-worried, half-PO'ed look on her face.
"John? What's going on?"
"I'd rather not go into it right now. But hey, McKay says we're low-risk. Just wanting to be careful." He hoped she bought it, even though it went against every security protocol they had in place. He didn't know what else to do, though, and Rodney was so damn insistent.
"I need more than that. If you're a risk to the city, then there's no way "
"It was Ancient technology that caused a temporary aberration in the colonel's and my behavior, Elizabeth. And no, we're not a threat to the city." Rodney sounded completely normal--annoyed and commanding rolled into one, with a splash of desperate to spice things up. His voice sent shivers up the back of John's neck. "So can we please come through now? I, for one, would like to see Carson before my brain explodes."
"You're putting me in an awfully tough position."
To say Elizabeth sounded a little pissed would have been like calling Rodney kind of smart. John sighed. He looked over at Teyla and gave her his best puppy-dog look.
She gave him a small, reassuring smile and keyed her mike. "Dr. Weir. I would say that the problem is one of a personal nature, and poses no threat to anyone else. But they do seem very concerned about what happened, and I think it would be prudent if Dr. Beckett could attend to them at once."
Another long pause; John mouthed a thank you at Teyla. He wasn't terribly surprised when she managed to convey a whole conversation's worth of threat, amusement, sympathy, and exasperation with nothing more than her eyebrow.
"All right, come on through," Elizabeth said. John wondered how he was going to manage to damp those flames after this whole fiasco was over with. "We'll be waiting for you."
No sooner had John cut communications than Rodney was off and running. "Personal problem? Great. Now they're going to think we have space VD or something."
"I simply wished to reassure her." Teyla sounded like she was starting to come up short on patience herself. "I did not mean to imply anything untoward."
"You did great, Teyla," he told her as he guided the jumper upwards to the bay. He probably should have let Atlantis take over--alien influence in his brain and all that--but he really needed a little bit of control at the moment. "McKay always gets snippy when he doesn't know what's going on, you know that."
"I know very well what's going on, Colonel." Rodney's snipe was right on cue, but without his usual passion. "The Ancients got their jollies by manipulating innocent..." He trailed off as the jumper settled into its berth and four Marines stepped out of the shadows, followed by Carson and his crew.
At least, John was pretty sure the ones out in front with guns were Marines--the stick-up-the-ass posture gave them away every time. He might have guessed wrong about the group behind them, though, since every single one was suited up in cranberry red, head to toe.
"Oh, that's not good," Rodney murmured.
John had to admit he hadn't completely thought out all of the consequences of his request to Elizabeth. He should have known that after the nanovirus incident, Carson wasn't going to take any chances with unknowns.
"What's with the pink?" Ronon asked.
"Accident at the strawberry Quik factory," John deadpanned as he powered down. "That's why they're called bunny people."
"Weird." Ronon sounded completely unperturbed by John's nonsense. Sometimes John really, really wondered whether Ronon and Teyla were playing them all.
Rodney snorted. "Remind me never to visit Sheppard world. I mean really, I bet you keep Heightmeyer in stitches."
John swivelled around and raised his eyebrow. He wouldn't be surprised if a trip to see Heightmeyer was in the very near future for both of them, and it wasn't going to be a laughing matter. Rodney pinked and shut his mouth. Ignoring the memory of how recently he'd seen Rodney so flushed, John opened the hatch.
One of the hazmat-suits shuffled forward, scanner in hand. He sighed quietly as the Carson revealed himself, setting the scanner to the side and pushing the hood off his head.
Rodney's relieved sigh was much louder. Almost moan-like.
"So, Colonel." Carson sounded less than thrilled. "Are you going to tell me exactly what happened, or do I have to guess?"
They both ignored Rodney's muttered "don't you always." John scratched the back of his neck and peered around the bulk of Carson's suit. A pair of Marines, still hooded, stood at the back of the jumper, with Doctors Biro and Ellingsworth slightly behind them.
"You can stand down now," he ordered. The Marines relaxed slightly, but didn't budge otherwise. "Carson, tell them it's a medical matter and you've got it under control."
The slope of Carson's eyebrows matched the peak of his hair. "Do you really think that's a good idea, Colonel? Considering everything else we've encountered here, I don't think a little precaution would go amiss."
"Teyla and I weren't affected." Ronon stood, unholstering his laser gun. "I'll shoot them if they try anything."
John shot him a smile that said 'you'll pay if you do', but between Teyla, Ronon, and Carson, they managed to assure the Marines that their CO wasn't going to go berserker on their asses. Carson gave him a pissy look, but went ahead and dismissed the other docs.
"Now spill," Carson ordered.
John sighed. "I need you to keep this out of the official records."
"You know I can't do that. Now, I'm sure however embarrassing--"
"No, Carson, you don't understand," Rodney broke in. John was warmed that Rodney was willing to set aside his own alien-influence freak-out long enough to make the effort. "Sheppard can't tell you about it, okay? You shouldn't even be asking. And we wouldn't even be telling except, well, the possibility of exploding brains and security breaches and all that fun stuff."
John wasn't sure whether to be happy or despairing of the fact that subtlety wasn't Rodney's strong suit. But Carson's eyes widened as he finally got the picture, and that was all John cared about at the moment.
Elizabeth hugged her arms close, trying to rub away the goosebumps as she stared through the observation window. John and Rodney looked like they were sleeping, but she wouldn't be surprised if they were both faking it. They had avoided her eyes earlier when she'd come to find out what the problem was. Not to mention avoided her questions.
Carson cleared his throat.
She turned away from the window. He looked nervous, which didn't help her goosebumps any, but she gave him an encouraging smile.
"As far as I can ascertain," he explained, "there's no immediate threat. Rodney feels that what happened was a direct result of their interaction with the technology they discovered."
Elizabeth nodded, understanding why John and Rodney were the only ones in isolation. "And since Teyla and Ronon don't have the gene--"
"Aye, they weren't affected. As far as I can tell," he added quickly, clearly hedging his bet. "The whole thing is very nebulous."
"You don't think it's contagious?"
Carson shook his head. "The sensors haven't detected anything. I'm keeping them in there merely as a precaution, in case there are any further manifestations."
That got her attention. "Manifestations? What exactly is the problem?"
He sighed. "They don't want me to share that information, Elizabeth, and I don't believe there's any reason to violate their privacy in this case."
Elizabeth frowned. The whole thing felt very wrong to her. She tamped down the paranoia that they were deliberately trying to hide something dangerous from her, and went with the trust they had all earned. "You're making me very curious, Carson. I'm not going to press, but if they become a danger--"
"I promise you'll be the first to know," Carson agreed.
"You might want to alert the security detail first," Elizabeth said dryly. "So what's next?"
"I want to do detailed interviews with each of them, since my tests aren't turning up anything. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong direction. After that, we'll need to study the technology itself."
Elizabeth nodded, her attention drawn to the window once again. Carson squeezed her shoulder before he left.
Carson added the date and time to the file, and then nodded to Teyla. "Go ahead, my dear. Just tell me what you remember once you were on the planet."
"I did not notice anything unusual." Teyla paused, her eyes focused somewhere above Carson's left shoulder. "Dr. McKay was very excited when he discovered the energy readings..."
"Hello, gorgeous." Rodney waved his scanner back and forth in the direction of the towering hills in front of them. He tapped it one last time, and then began walking away from them without a further word. Teyla shared an amused glance with Ronon, then moved to catch up with Rodney.
"You might want to slow down there, McKay," John called from behind. "Your pretty lady might not welcome you with open arms."
"Oh, very funny," Rodney called back, but he slowed enough that Teyla could pass him to take point.
He had chosen to walk alongside a barely-flowing stream, the bank as well as the bed rocky and moss covered. A jagged cliff of black stone rose in the distance. The stream arrowed directly toward it through the evergreen forest, and Teyla assumed that was where they were heading. Rodney did not correct her, and so she kept moving forward, placing her feet carefully on the larger stones as she scanned the terrain around them.
The entire region was hilly. John had had a difficult time finding a meadow large enough to land the jumper within walking distance of the readings. Teyla thought it was possible the slopes were actually small mountains--she was certain that Rodney would know, but she did not bother asking. She simply climbed, breathing in the smell of sweet water and aromatic pine. The smell reminded her strongly of Athos, of playing in the forests in her youth.
"So, Rodney, what are we talking about here?" A bird took flight, startled by John's voice; Teyla marked its flight upwards until it passed out of sight. "You seem awfully excited for this to be anything less than a ZPM."
"I can't tell for certain." Rodney's voice was quieter than it had been earlier. Teyla glanced back; John had caught up to Rodney, and they walked closely together, side-by-side when the encroaching trees allowed it. "But I'm almost positive it's Ancient technology. Possibly even something that could cement my place in history and wipe out the Wraith."
"I like your priorities there, McKay."
"Hmm, yes, thank you."
Teyla smiled as she crossed over a the trunk of a large tree that had fallen across their path some time ago. Rodney had a tendency to miss sarcasm aimed his direction. She turned and waited as he clambered across the deadfall, John not far behind him. Ronon was some yards distant, quiet and watchful, the hilt of his sword gleaming like a small sun above his head.
Once he'd gotten over the log, Rodney pulled out his scanner again, held it up for a few short seconds, and then motioned her onwards with an impatient wave. Teyla shook her head but continued as he'd directed.
"So, you're thinking weapon," John said after a few minutes had passed.
Rodney scoffed. "Has anyone ever told you you have a one-track mind, Colonel?"
"As a matter of fact, you did. Last week. And you were talking about women at the time, so I think you've disproved that hypothesis all by yourself."
"Fine. A two-track mind then. How positively evolved of you. Next thing I know, you'll be so advanced you'll be able to think about women and guns at the same time."
Teyla looked back again. John and Rodney were both smiling, though they weren't facing each other. John happened to catch her eye just then, and winked at her before he spoke.
"Aw shucks, McKay. You're just saying that because you like it when my eyes light up."
She did not hear Rodney's reply, her attention caught by a sudden change in the terrain ahead of them. Large chunks of black rock were scattered near the banks, the trees now sparse. The stream took a sharp left around a huge block of stone. Teyla followed it around and stopped short at what she saw.
"Pretty." John stopped at her shoulder and shared in the view. A small cascade splashed and tinkled down the stepped face of the cliff. The water pooled in a natural basin about shoulder height before it spilled out one final time into the stream they had been following. "But not exactly what we're looking for."
"You're so demanding," Rodney said absently, splashing through the stream with his scanner held in front of him once again.
Rodney ignored him, wide grin sliding across his face as he tucked his equipment away and stepped closer to the rock face. John was not the only one whose eyes lit up when he got excited. "It should be right about--"
The rock to the right of the waterfall completely disappeared, leaving a dark, cavernous opening in its place. A chill filled her gut; it reminded her too much of the Wraith cave that had opened in a similar manner. She hoped that whatever they found in this one would not be so disturbing.
"Way to go, Rodney." John nodded to her, and she slipped to the side so that he could step around her to take point. They switched on the lights of the P90's, but within five steps a dull glow sprang up all around them.
"Just don't, ah, touch anything," Rodney warned from behind them.
John stopped and stared over his shoulder with a raised eyebrow. "You mean like you just did?"
"Yes, well, I knew what I was doing. I don't think you want a repeat of the cloister incident, do you?"
John's nose wrinkled. "No, that wouldn't be high on my list." He turned back to exploring, walking slowly towards the back wall. "So do you have any idea what this does--huh."
Carson looked up when Ronon stopped talking. "So then the colonel touched something?"
Ronon shrugged. "Must have done something. Next thing we know, a whole room opened up infront of us..."
The room was big. Not so big that he couldn't see the whole thing, but it was shadowed enough to put him on edge. Control consoles like the ones back in Atlantis filled the place, lining the curved walls and taking up a large portion of the center. Ronon entered slowly, senses alert, but the only thing he smelled was metal and ozone. Whatever the Ancestors did to keep the place clean, it was still going strong.
Sheppard moved up behind him and the lights kicked up a notch. More light didn't reveal anything more interesting, however. No sign of Wraith or anybody else, no bugs or spore or decaying food. Not even any mold. Ronon spotted a door to the left, and approached it carefully--but it was simply a small toilet room, as spotless as the rest of the space.
"Looks like Duranda," he said when he returned to the main room. All three of them looked over at him liked he'd spat in their food. He shrugged, sweeping the beam of the P90 across the floor. "No bodies, though."
"Yes, well, it isn't," McKay said sourly before he turned back to the console he was fiddling with. "It is, however, a research center, and once I get this up and running we can find out what they were studying."
"Just be careful, McKay."
McKay spun to face Sheppard, arms crossed defensively across his chest. "I hadn't thought of that, Colonel. I was actually looking for the button that says 'blow-up planet now'."
"Relax, Rodney. All I meant was that the Ancients have a track record of not keeping a tight lid on the nasties."
"I know you know what you're doing."
"You do?" McKay was all big-eyed fish for a second before he coughed and dropped his arms. "I mean, of course you do. So I'll just go do it, then."
Ronon rolled his eyes as McKay kept rambling. Teyla smiled at him from across the room. He shook his head and smiled back, and then continued his patrol.
The room was boring. Big enough to keep McKay entertained for years, he imagined, not big enough to have anything actually interesting in it. Ronon had made five complete turns of the room, crossing paths with Teyla a total of six times, when McKay finally yelled 'aha' and got the console he was fiddling with to light up. Sheppard was grinning like crazy, but Ronon couldn't get worked up over it.
"There's nothing here, Sheppard," he said after another fifteen minutes of pacing. Sheppard gave him a look that said 'are you Rodney McKay?' so Ronon clarified. "Nothing you need me for."
Sheppard nodded. "Take Teyla and do a recon outside. Maybe they left something else behind."
The way Teyla raced him to the door without ever breaking into an actual run reminded Ronon of the way he and his sister used to tease each other. Ronon smiled as she reached the goal first, and Teyla winked back.
"And stay in radio range," Sheppard shouted.
Carson tapped his stylus against the table, considering. "So you purposefully sent Ronon and Teyla away?"
Sheppard shifted like he wanted to cross his arms, but they were already about as snug across his chest as they could get. "I didn't do it so I could jump Rodney's bones, if that's what you're implying."
"No, no, not at all," Carson soothed, reining in the urge to comment further. He could certainly understand why the colonel was snippy. "Please, do continue."
Sheppard shrugged one shoulder. "There's not much to tell. Rodney did his thing, I did mine..."
"Check back in another fifteen." John glanced at his watch as Ronon signed off. Ronon had sounded like he was as happy as a clam that he wasn't stuck in the cave any longer and didn't mind rubbing John's nose in that fact. Everybody always bagged on John and Rodney about acting like kids, but those people had no clue about Ronon and Teyla. John hadn't missed the way they'd lit out of the cave like their pants were on fire.
Rodney still had his head bent over the main control console, now and then tapping something into his interface. John sighed, reaching down deep to tap his vast source of will power, and stopped himself from asking Rodney what he'd found. He knew it was too soon for any real discovery. It wasn't like Rodney'd be able to hide anything exciting from him anyway.
John started exploring to kill time. He checked out each station, looking for anything he recognized. A few of them actually had numbers on the buttons, and one had the symbol for Atlantis. Risking a scolding from Rodney, John traced his finger over across the top of the console. When nothing happened, he grew bolder, holding his hand above the Atlantis glyph. He was kind of disappointed when it didn't light up for him.
Sneaking a casual look over his shoulder, John made sure that Rodney was still focused on his work. He felt like a kid shoplifting gum on a dare as he stroked his palm over the button itself, then pushed down.
John looked over his shoulder again. Rodney was frowning at his tablet like it was flipping him the bird. Convinced that the situation was still normal, John continued his rounds. Playing bad-boy kept him entertained through several more consoles, but before long he started getting bored. And maybe a little too aware of the odds of getting caught by Rodney.
Briefly, he considered taking a leak in the Ancient head. Common sense won out after only a few seconds of deliberation. He really didn't want to deal with the consequences if something went wrong with the toilet. For all he knew, the Ancients had been experimenting with fusion reactors run off of piss.
After Teyla checked in, there was only one thing left to do. An hour was plenty of time for Rodney to uncover the secrets of the universe, after all.
John leaned against the console Rodney was working on and propped his forearms across the top.
Rodney ignored him.
John sighed. Loudly. He was rather impressed that he'd actually managed to fluff a couple of hairs on Rodney's forehead.
Rodney ignored him.
John sighed again, waited another thirty seconds, and then moved around the console so he could take up his lean right next to Rodney.
That got a reaction. Rodney frowned and tilted his screen so John's shadow wasn't on it.
Encouraged, John leaned more, draping his right arm across the back of the console. It wasn't actually a comfortable position, but it got his shadow over half of the console and most of Rodney's screen.
Rodney tapped his tablet a few times. The whole console lit up with a electronic ping, startling John out of his slouch. Rodney shifted to the left and peered down at the screen on the console.
John sighed, and this time it wasn't in an attempt to draw Rodney's attention. He gave himself another thirty seconds, then circled around so that he was right behind Rodney. Using his few inches of height to advantage, John stuck his head right over Rodney's shoulder so he could see the console screen.
"So what have we got?"
Rodney threw his hands into the air, barely missing John's eye. "Oh, my God! You're worse than my cat, Colonel. Could you go play with a mouse or something while I do actual work?"
John frowned. "Fine. But we don't have all day, McKay."
"What?" Rodney spun around, then rolled his eyes. "You're just saying that because I work best with a deadline."
"You want a deadline? You have an hour, and then we're out of here."
"That's ridiculous. We have two days scheduled for this mission."
John put his hands on his hips and shrugged as if he had no control over the whole thing. "We still have the entire planet to explore. Who knows what Easter eggs the Ancients left behind."
Rodney huffed, but he turned back to the console. "Fine. But you have to leave me alone. You're distracting."
John let his smile out once he was on the other side of the room. He really, really loved baiting Rodney. The best part about it was that Rodney loved it, too, even if he never admitted to it. It wasn't just that Rodney worked best when there was a big, looming deadline (like instant death) hanging over his head. John had figured out that Rodney really loved to play to an audience. It didn't matter if the audience had no clue about what Rodney did. It just mattered that they were watching, waiting for Rodney to make something miraculous happen.
Sometimes John wondered how Rodney could live in a pressure-cooker like that. Not just in crisis situations, but all the time--John knew that Rodney pushed himself harder than anyone else. John figured that his baiting was the best way to trigger Rodney's release valve the exasperation and hand-waving and eye-rolling annoyance it provoked.
"Oh, you beautiful, beautiful piece of machinery, you!"
John was at Rodney's side in an instant. "I take it you don't need that hour?"
"Don't be stupid. Of course I need that hour." But Rodney was grinning from ear to ear, bouncing on his heels and rubbing his hands together. "It took me forever to get through the index. There's all kinds of stupid stuff in here, kitchen gadgets and marital aids and just really stupid stuff. But I found it."
John smiled. He had no clue what it was, but he knew it was going to be good. "So what are we talking about, exactly?"
Rodney pressed his lips together into a long, smug smile like he wanted to seal the news in. Like he was trying to tease John into being just as excited as he was. But his eyes were as bright as stars, and John could tell Rodney was going to burst the second before he actually did.
It took a full second to sink in. "They were doing research on ZPM's?"
Rodney shook his head. "Not here. But from what I read, the whole process is documented in this database."
"Wait." John kept his excitement damped. "Does that make you can make new ones?"
"Yes." Rodney grinned even wider, which John had thought impossible until he did it. Standard McKay modus operandi. Amazing and impossible and full of surprises every damn day.
John grinned back. He felt like he'd gotten an adrenaline shot as strong as when he climbed into the cockpit of a F302. Rodney looked so happy, so excited, eyes sparkling, quiet like he was waiting for John to do something.
John couldn't stop himself.
Carson cocked an eyebrow, but Rodney had fallen silent and seemed determined to avoid looking
at him. "So the colonel kissed you?"
"That's what I said, isn't it?" Rodney lifted his chin. "Do we really need to do this, Carson? Didn't you hear it all from Sheppard already?"
Carson sighed. He'd expected resistance from John, but Rodney was even more reticent to spill the beans. "Rodney. You know that I need all of the data I can get."
"Yes, well." Rodney sighed. "So whatever was affecting Sheppard obviously spread to me..."
John's mouth was on his, their smiles sliding together weirdly. Rodney's lips finally figured out 'oh, kissing!', and then the whole thing went much better. John pulled back a fraction. Rodney opened his mouth to ask 'what the hell?' but aborted the effort when John swooped back in to suck on his lip. The sound escaped as a muffled moan.
Rodney clutched at John's shoulders, holding on physically as his brain sputtered and coughed and failed to ignite. He couldn't think at all. John cupped his head, big hand pulling him closer, deeper. John groaned into Rodney's mouth, and then pulled away to nip at his throat.
"Oh, that's. Just like that," Rodney murmured as his hands found John's ass without his brain's permission. John returned the favor, pulling their hips together. Everything lined up just right, John's hard-on rubbing over his own.
"Fuck." John panted into Rodney's ear, then rolled his hips in a move that had Rodney whimpering. "God, Rodney, we shouldn't be doing this."
Rodney nodded absently, intent on working his hand under John's shirt and vest. The strip of John's stomach was hot and soft with sweat-slicked hair. Rodney ran his fingers across it, marveling as the skin jumped from his touch.
John retaliated by grabbing Rodney's cock through his pants. "Jesus, I just can't stop touching you," John murmured in a husky bedroom voice. He stroked up and down in a way that was guaranteed to roll Rodney's eyes back in his head. "This is such a bad idea."
John kept kissing Rodney's throat, kept sliding his red-hot hand over Rodney's cock. Rodney fought with everything he had not to give in and let this happen.
"John," he said. His throat worked against him, strangling his volume. He coughed and tried again. "John, stop."
John didn't let go, but he raised his head, looking at Rodney with drug-black eyes. "Problem?" he asked lazily.
Rodney almost threw in the towel when John licked his lips, tongue running obscenely over and around before lingering on the bottom one. He closed his eyes. "Focus," he muttered to himself. "Yes, there's a problem. Did you touch anything earlier?"
He opened his eyes, and sure enough, John looked guilty as hell. Rodney stepped back, trying not to regret John's hands dropping away from him.
"Oh, do not tell me you were dumb enough--" He cut himself off as John glared. The combination of narrow-eyed irritation and the dark flush of arousal was disconcerting. And distracting. Rodney shook his head. "Just tell me what you touched."
John's eyes flicked downwards, and Rodney fought the urge to cover his groin. He was still very much affected by...whatever was affecting them. "Just the consoles." John mercifully turned away. He turned in a slow arc, arm stretched in demonstration. "Not all of them, though. And Rodney, nothing happened."
Rodney rubbed his forehead as the enormity of the situation hit. "No, it's obvious that something did happen." He waved between the two of them, pulling his hand back abruptly when he brushed John's chest. "I just have no clue what to do about it."
John crossed his arms, looking pissed. "What are you talking about, McKay? You seemed pretty into it a few seconds ago."
"Of course I was into it, Colonel. We were drugged by some stupid Ancient marital aid because you couldn't keep your hands to yourself!"
Rodney knew the term shell-shocked. He imagined he had a wide variety of looks that fit the description--wide-eyed, bug-eyed, shut-eyed, pale, flushed, green and everything in between. But he had seen John under fire, had seen him dodge bullets and grenades and various deadly exploding objects far too many times, and John always took the danger with a calm face.
John looked shell-shocked now.
Rodney tucked his hands under his armpits to remind himself that physical reassurance was most definitely not what John needed. "The database I was so busily searching while you were playing three-year old? They weren't just working on finding the secrets of the universe."
John ran his hand through his hair. Rodney felt the soft tickle of its touch on his own palms. "Fuck. Are you sure about this?"
Rodney swallowed, wanting to say no. Wanting to be wrong. "Yes. I'm not sure what or how, but it adds up. We need to see Carson to find out if there are any lingering effects. Or, oh, God! What if it implanted a physiological imperative and our brains will explode if we don't follow it?"
"Calm down, Rodney." John frowned at him, then resettled his dangling mike. Rodney vaguely remembered it knocking into his cheek as they rubbed against each other. "Teyla, Ronon. Meet us back at the jumper."
"Is everything all right?" Teyla asked.
Rodney slashed his hand in front of his throat, and John stopped talking. "They could have been affected, too," Rodney whispered. "Ask them."
John shook his head. Rodney started to argue, then rolled his eyes and remembered his own radio. "Have either of you experienced any, ah, unusual symptoms? Uncontrollable arousal, perhaps?"
Ronon's laughter echoed over the channel, but it was Teyla who answered. "No. Is there something we should be aware of?"
"When we get to the jumper," John said, giving Rodney a dirty glare that said he wasn't happy about sharing those particular details. He signed off and crossed his wrists over his P90. Rodney manfully ignored how hot John was when he did that. "Okay, McKay. Grab what we need to figure this thing out, and lets get out of here."
"Right," he said, and disconnected his tablet. He really hoped Carson would be able to figure out the problem without having to bring in a whole team.
Teyla folded her hands on top of the table as she finished her tale, waiting calmly as he finished his notes. Carson truly appreciated her patience and equanimity; it was such a lovely change from the worry and fidgeting of many of the people he dealt with.
"And how did they seem when you saw them again?"
"Agitated, and embarrassed," she said. "Colonel Sheppard especially seemed worried about the consequences of the device."
Carson nodded. "But were they in control of their actions? You didn't have to separate them, for example?"
Teyla shook her head. "They seemed no different than usual." Her eyebrow rose with her rueful smile. "Not that I have not been tempted to separate them at times for other reasons."
Carson chuckled and hit save.
"I don't get it."
Carson looked up. Ronon spun his chair from side to side as he sprawled, the perfect picture of lazy boredom. "Don't get what?"
"Why would the Ancients try to make people horny?"
"That is the question, isn't it?" Carson sighed. None of it made sense. "And you're sure that you didn't experience any increased arousal?"
Ronon grinned, the predator coming alive at last. "I didn't want to fuck Sheppard or McKay all of the sudden, if that's what you're asking."
"Good enough," Carson muttered, and closed that report.
John looked like he was about to spring out of his chair and grab the report out of Carson's hand. "So, what do you think, Doc?"
Carson pulled his laptop closer to himself. "I'm not certain, Colonel. Let's go over this again. At first you found you were unable to resist Rodney's charms, but then later you were able to overcome the imperative?"
"Um." John scratched at the back of his neck. "Not exactly."
"I could have resisted at first." John crossed his arms and stared straight at Carson with a look that made Carson want to duck behind his laptop. "But I didn't want to. You could say I was going with the flow."
"How interesting," Carson said faintly. He opened another file, and started scanning the notes Elizabeth had sent him that morning.
"You've kept us here long enough, Carson. Have you found a solution yet, or should I fill out a change of address form?"
Carson sighed and set his notes aside. He really, really hated having to deliver bad news. "Why didn't you bring back the gizmo that you think caused all of this?"
Rodney snorted. "Because yes, that would have been a fabulous idea. Or did you want a city-wide orgy on your hands?"
"Rodney. Do you even know if such a thing exists?"
A muscle twitched below Rodney's left eye and then settled. "What? Of course it exists. Why would it be in the database if it didn't?"
Carson brought up the newly translated list and shoved the laptop over to Rodney. "It's not," he said quietly, watching as Rodney blanched. "It's my guess that you mistranslated something in your haste."
"Oh." Rodney stared at the screen, but he didn't move to examine it more closely. "That's, ah. Are you sure?"
"Come in," John called, setting his guitar back on the stand. He wasn't surprised to see Rodney, but he could have done without the nervous smile that matched the rolled shoulders and hand-rubbing. "I promise I won't bite."
"Right. Of course not," Rodney said, shuffling into the room. John's sigh blended with the sound of the door hissing shut. Rodney stared around the room, obviously working up the courage to confront him.
John sat forward. "Look, McKay--"
"I'm sorry," Rodney blurted. "I know this whole thing was my fault, and besides being really, really embarrassing, it put your career in jeopardy. I just really thought that something was wrong. Really."
"I know you did." And that was the problem. John should have known better than to try to ride an adrenaline high with a teammate. Especially one he had no objectivity about whatsoever. "You did what you thought you had to do. At least one of us was thinking straight."
John winced at the unintentional pun, but it flew over Rodney's head as he started pacing the floor in front of John's bed.
"I don't usually ignore evidence like that," Rodney was saying. "Jump steps and leave everyone else floundering in the dust, sure. But I assure you, Colonel, I don't just make things up in order to come to the conclusion I want to see."
John nodded. "I know you don't." Even if Rodney'd had blinders on during the Duranda fiasco, John knew that--
His thought totally derailed as the last part of what Rodney had said rattled around in his head, demanding attention. "Back up." John stood and edged closer to Rodney. "Conclusion that you wanted to see?"
Rodney shrugged. "It's my innate pessimism. A ZPM and you within seconds of each other? I was sure it had to be too good to be true."
Rodney kept talking, but John didn't hear any of it. He was too busy watching Rodney's lips purse and slide, too busy thinking Rodney wanted it, too. The heat that had burst between them back in that cave hadn't been a misunderstanding. Hadn't been adrenaline channeled to the nearest available body. Hadn't been a fucking alien toy trying to drive them insane with lust.
The lust was all their own.
Rodney stopped talking, staring back at John with his mouth caught open, eyebrows arcing up in surprise. John felt like he was in a bubble more magical than anything the Ancients could have cooked up, half a step outside of time as he drew a soft line down Rodney's cheek with the tip of his index finger. Rodney shut his mouth, the tip of his tongue darting out to leave his lips shiny.
Rodney met him halfway. They started kissing like they'd never stopped, hungry like they were three seconds from fucking.
"John," Rodney sighed against his mouth, and John thought maybe the three-second estimate was too high. He slid his hands under Rodney's shirt, feeling skin he hadn't had the chance to get to before. They weren't wearing their gear this time, so it was the easiest thing in the world to slip off their shirts and press their naked chests together.
"You want this, right?" John asked when his hands landed on Rodney's fly.
"Are you kidding me?"
John let his silence speak for him.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Oh, for the love of God." He grabbed John by the waistband and pulled him over to the bed. John went along, grinning. "You make one mistake..."
"Shut up, Rodney." John dropped to the mattress, tugging Rodney along with him. He managed to get his pants off despite the distraction of Rodney's kisses and roaming hands. Rodney wasn't as focused on getting naked, too busy exploring John's mouth and neck and nipples, so John rolled him over and did the deed himself.
Which left him in the perfect position to appreciate Rodney's cock. He glanced up, and found Rodney staring down at him, lips parted but with no words coming out. John grinned his dirtiest grin, and then took Rodney in.
"Oh, fuck! Oh, John."
John slurped his way up Rodney's cock, taking his time, playing a little. If Rodney kept saying his name in that breathy, grateful way, John wasn't going to do much more than hump the bedspread. John pushed Rodney's thighs wider, running his hands across the soft hair and warm skin and on up to Rodney's balls. The feel of him of John's palms sent electric shivers zinging up his arms and straight down to his cock.
John pulled off, laying his head on Rodney's hip as he panted.
Rodney cupped his head. "Something wrong?" he asked in a high, tight voice.
John shook his head, rubbing his chin against Rodney's curls. "Just trying to hang on."
Rodney locked his hand around John's arm and pulled. "Don't be an idiot."
John laughed and took the hint. They lined up on their sides. Rodney smiled, so very sweetly, and then ground his hips into John's in a way that wasn't sweet at all. John grunted and shoved back. Rodney's cock was still wet from John's spit, but things went even better once John fumbled some lotion out of his nightstand and lubed them both up. He held their cocks together, Rodney's hand on John's ass guiding their thrusts.
"So good," he murmured, and Rodney made a low grunt that had to be agreement. "Just can't stop myself."
Rodney snorted into John's neck. John grinned and moved his hand faster. His grin went the way of the dodo when Rodney reached down and took over. John was sure his eyes were rolled all the way back in his head, because he sure as hell couldn't see anything while Rodney stroked lightning fast.
"Yes, yes," Rodney hissed, and then he was coming all over them, staring at John with wide eyes like he couldn't believe it was happening. John lunged forward, trying to kiss, trying to connect, but then Rodney's wrist hitched just right and he could only gasp and shudder as he came as well.
They lay there for a while in silence, shifting just enough to find a comfortable position for both of them. The wet spot was smack dab in the middle of the bed not to mention covering both of their bellies--but John couldn't be bothered by it at the moment.
"There's one thing I don't get," Rodney finally said.
"Hmm? What's that?"
Rodney propped his head on his head so he could frown down at John. "You knew you made the first move. Why didn't you just say so?"
John sighed. "Because, Rodney. As you so frequently remind everyone, you happen to be a genius. If you say something about Ancient technology, I listen."
"Oh." A smug smile flirted across Rodney's lips, but John didn't let it stay there long. He pulled Rodney down to him for a long, slow kiss.
Rodney was frowning when they parted.
"You're not going to change your mind about the genius thing because of this one tiny mistake, right?"
John rolled his eyes. And then he rolled on top of Rodney.
"Thank you." Elizabeth smiled at Carson as he handed her a cup of hot tea. She'd never really been a tea-drinker before coming to Atlantis, but she liked the sense of bonding that came with sharing a cup.
"You're very welcome." Carson sighed as he sat down in his chair. "Thank goodness we haven't had another bloody crisis to deal with today. I don't think I could handle it."
She set her cup down and squeezed his wrist. "We really appreciate everything you do for us, Carson."
"I know." He took a sip of his tea, apparently enured to the heat that would have seared Elizabeth's lips. "And I'm happy to do it. Even if they bring it on themselves."
Elizabeth shook her head. She still couldn't believe that the whole thing had been an overblown case of Rodney's hypochondria. "Are you ever going to tell me exactly what happened?"
Carson shook his head. "You know that as a physician I can't break confidentiality."
She nodded and blew on her tea. Carson sat forward, glancing around his small office like someone could be hiding on the corner of his desk.
"As a friend, however," he started.
Elizabeth set her tea down and leaned forward, matching his confidential manner. "Tell me."
"Let's just say that someone should tell Radek that he can collect on the betting pool."
My prompt: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep". - Saul Bellow