Warnings: This may be a challenge for you if you're particularly squicked by human/human sex where one partner is temporarily in animal form. However the majority of readers so far have not found the story problematic.
Notes: Many thanks to mecurtin for the beta. Written for mcshep_match 2010, Team Play, the prompt was "rise and shine".
Summary: “Oookay, that was unexpected,” said John. “And also, what the fuck?”
Elizabeth slid her tray onto the mess table across from John and gave him one of her patented Looks. John gazed lovingly at his plate as though baked tava beans on toast was the most interesting dish on the planet. In the galaxy. Yum, tava beans in sauce, so fascinating. He risked a quick peek up from beneath his lashes: it wasn’t working. His grip tightened on his spork; he knew that look and it always meant she wanted him to do something.
She cleared her throat delicately. “So, how do you think Rodney’s doing, John?”
How did he think McKay was? What sort of question was that? McKay was McKay: obsessive, brilliant, a pain in the ass, wrong about flux capacitors. Fucked, of course, they were all pretty fucked after endless crises, near-death experiences, the Wraith, more crises, blowing up most of a solar system, the Wraith, the Genii, being turned into a bug, almost drowning in a puddlejumper. Okay, so the drowning thing had been real tough on Rodney and he wasn’t nearly over it; John’d had to chivvy him into the shower when he’d gotten kinda whiffy, but…
“John?” Elizabeth was squinting at him, brow creased in a worried frown. He took a calming breath and straightened the spork back out. Goddam cheap-ass military flatware.
“Um…as well as can be expected?” He wasn’t Heightmeyer, for Christ’s sake.
“You don’t think he needs a break?”
Well of course Rodney needed a break; they all needed a goddam break! He rolled his eyes, even though doing it to Elizabeth made him feel all of fourteen and facing Miss Goldberg his favorite homeroom teacher. But he’d had a crush on Miss Goldberg and he didn’t have one on Elizabeth. Not much of one, anyway. Only when she told him off, but he didn’t think she’d seen him readjust his pants during the dressing down after the nanovirus quarantine fuck-up.
Crap, she was looking more than worried now. Positively concerned. Sympathetic, even. He was fine, she didn’t need to look at him like that. Rodney was fine too, or he would be. “Yeah, he could do with a break, but you know what he’s like, he’s a workaholic. No-one can get through to him, he just lives in the damn lab. It’s how he copes.”
Elizabeth nodded and took a sip of some sort of herbal tea. Better her than John; it smelled like a damp dog. “I’m worried about him, John. Can you try and persuade him to take a little leave? Anything - a trip back to Earth, a couple of weeks on that spa planet, whatever he wants.”
Yeah, good luck with that, McKay was the most stubborn…John sighed. “I already tried, but I’ll ask him again. He thinks the city’ll implode if he goes away. Hell, maybe she will for all I know.” He rubbed his temples, the ghost of a headache lurking beneath tense scalp muscles.
“I think we’ll survive, Radek’s very competent.” They stared bleakly at each other for a moment, he could use a break too floating unspoken between them. Elizabeth shot him a wry smile and shrugged. Yeah. “You could use some downtime yourself,” she said softly. Right back atcha.
He drank his coffee; it was lukewarm and not a patch on the good stuff Rodney hoarded in his quarters. “Yeah, well…” he said, looking off out the windows where it was another beautiful morning in the Pegasus galaxy. He wondered what would try to kill them today.
Elizabeth sighed again. “Just try to persuade him, okay, John?”
There was no off-world mission scheduled. Ronon was recuperating from a sprained ankle so John, scheming to get Rodney alone and have another go at him about the leave issue, persuaded the rest of his team to explore one of the closed-off sections of the city. Radek came along as he’d found a database record of something being stored in that sector that sounded interesting. No-one had been sure of the translation though, something about “power to transform” or “power to shift”. Rodney had rolled his eyes and muttered that it was most likely a glorified Ancient forklift, but the prospect of any sort of “power” had sucked him in, even though there were no anomalous readings from the area.
The most promising room was a disused lab with several disassembled objects like miniature remote controls lying around on the benches. None of them initialized though, for Rodney or for John.
“All are broken, or under repair, I think,” Radek murmured, turning one over, fingers delicate on the miniature crystals. “I doubt we can fix without better understanding the purpose. If we can locate in database…” He trailed off, flapping a hand dispiritedly.
Yeah, right, thought John. The database’s search function was irritatingly opaque and its indexing system was a nightmare. They had been chipping away at the more accessible sections in tiny increments but Rodney always bitched that the search software defied the laws of physics. As far as John could tell it was something of a crap-shoot, often returning random records with little connection to the search terms entered.
He circled the room, opening all the cabinets to check for any more artefacts. Nothing but dust and ancient sludge. Sighing, he turned back to start wrapping up the excursion so that they could get back in time for lunch. It was shepherd’s pie, which was usually pretty good even though the mashed tubers were pink. Worth enduring McKay’s predictable digs about him being on the menu, anyway. Last month Rodney had wolfed down forkfuls of the dish, interspersing the words “shepherd’s” and “pie” with orgasmic sex moans. John had had to leave the mess with his jacket clutched strategically in front of his groin.
Trying to think up cool retorts to Rodney’s inevitable puns, he glanced over, only to be greeted by the sight of Rodney’s ass pointed directly at him, BDUs stretched tight over the lush curves as he bent at the waist and scrabbled about under a bench. Jesus, couldn’t McKay bend his knees like a normal person? Did he have to torment John with the sight of his…of those…
“Careful now, McKay,” John rasped, sweat prickling along his spine. “You don’t know what sort of crap might be down there after 10,000 years not to mention the flooding. What the hell are you doing, anyway?”
“Hang on…Colonel…” wheezed Rodney, down on his knees now on the dirt-encrusted floor with one arm thrust in up to his armpit, under the lowest shelf. “Thought I saw something…lit up…almost…”
“Rodney,” John warned, an edge of command in his tone because it just wasn’t safe to be groping about in the muck like that. “Will you quit dicking–”, and he really hadn’t been expecting the flash of bright light, or for Rodney to morph into a man-sized, sandy colored cat, kind of like a puma.
“Mreeeoooow!” yowled the cat – McKay – whatever, and whirled, tendons and muscles flexing smoothly under its coat, lithe in a way that Rodney would never be even if he worked out with Teyla every single day for a century. The cat bent, grabbed a blue glowing thing up from the floor in its teeth, then crouched and leapt up onto the bench, flashed past a stunned Radek in a streak of tan fur and black-tipped tail, and vanished out the door.
“Oookay, that was unexpected,” said John. “And also, what the fuck?”
John surfaced from sleep, not feeling noticeably rested. They had searched the city for hours after McKay had transformed into a feline, but there was no sign of him, and his transmitter hadn’t registered – presumably some side-effect of the transformation. At least he had to be in the city, it being a floating island. Cats hated water, didn’t they? He vaguely recalled some Discovery Channel thing with a black panther swimming a river, but Rodney was kind of phobic about the ocean after his time in the jumper, and he wasn’t a black panther anyway. Jesus. John sat on the side of the bed and rubbed his face tiredly. Sometimes he really hated this galaxy, and the fucking Ancients.
He stood and stretched, then noticed a note on the table, weighted by his miniature golf-bag pen-holder. Huh.
Rise and shine, flyboy.
Meet me on the north
pier by transporter 61 when you
drag your lazy ass out of bed.
The flood of relief took him by surprise and he had to sit back down for a moment to collect himself. Rodney was okay. He must have changed back to his usual form to write this, no way a cat could have held a pen, and that was his usual writing. Bastard had snuck in and left the note, and what was with the cryptic message? Of course McKay could persuade the damn door to open for him, he’d done that plenty of times before, but why did he want John to meet him way out there where there was no-one…right, that was probably why. He should probably call Elizabeth, but he wanted to see Rodney for himself first, and he didn’t want to have to take a bunch of marines and scientists with him. He opened his emails to find a terse message from Rodney to Elizabeth and Zelenka, ccd to his own address.
I’m fine so don’t panic, Sheppard will give you a briefing later today.
Oh great, thanks a bunch for that, Rodney. Now Elizabeth was going to think they were in cahoots. Which he supposed they were. John sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair, then he was up and dressing, not to full mission readiness but definitely taking his thigh-holster and sidearm. They never used that pier so who knew what was out there: best to play it safe.
The transporter door hissed open and he emerged cautiously, scanning the area as rapidly as he could. There was a lot of open space, maybe a landing area, edged by buildings that could be workshops. A soft noise above had him whirling and dropping into a defensive crouch, hand on his weapon. Rodney was sitting on a low roof above the transporter about ten feet off the ground. He was in a T and jeans and was kicking his bare feet nonchalantly.
“Fuck, McKay, don’t do that. And where the fuck have you been?”
Rodney grinned and waved a hand. “Exploring. I’d like to say hunting but there are no rodents in the city so I had to change back in the end and raid my MRE stash. That’s when I left you the note.”
“Yeah, and about that, will you quit hacking my door lock–”
“Yes, yes, whatever. But listen, this is the best fun, it’s amazing.”
“What, being a cat? I knew you were into your creature comforts, McKay, but–”
“It’s way more than that, the cat’s just the start of it. It’s like a guide to animals, like a…a bestiary, you know, like those illustrated medieval texts with the animals – and birds and fish – but instead of just pictures and text it changes you into the animals for the full sensurround experience. I’ve only just scratched the surface, stuck to Earth life-forms, but there are so many in here, it’s kind of overwhelming.” He touched his chest, peering down, then pulled the neck of his T-shirt down to show a glowing blue rectangle embedded just below the top of the sternum. “I was carrying it in my hand – well, mouth – at first, then I saw in the interface that it’s meant to be lodged here, so you don’t lose it. Can’t figure out how to get it off of me now, but that doesn’t matter, I’m still testing its capacities so–”
“Jesus, Rodney, you can’t just mess about with Ancient tech like that without supervision, it could do anything!” John couldn’t stop the stress of the last day, hell, the last year, corroding his voice. “What if you change into a – I don’t know – a goddam alien slime-monster and dissolve the city or some weird shit. Fuck.” He glared up at McKay, squinting into the bright blue sky and getting a crick in his neck. “And will you get the fuck down here already? You’re a pain in the neck alright. Anyway, you’re scared of heights, so how come–”
His jaw dropped as Rodney scrambled to his feet and pulled off his clothes and oh wow, he really hadn’t asked for a strip show this early in the morning even if they did have the pier to themselves. Then the bundle of clothing was tumbling to the deck at his feet and Rodney was gone, vanished in another flash of light and a sparrow was flitting about him, circling his head, then alighting on his raised hand, and somehow, the damn thing was brim full of Rodneyness, from the bright, sharp eye regarding him to the cheeky cock of its head.
He raised his other hand shakily, and stroked down the bird’s – Rodney’s – back very gently. The sparrow cheeped noisily and spread its wings, lifting off John’s hand to flutter about him, talking non-stop all the while, before landing next to the clothes and morphing back into Rodney.
“Yeah, not so bothered by the heights thing now, for obvious reasons, Colonel.” Rodney grinned and then flushed and grabbed up his bundle of clothing, holding it against his groin. “I, er, haven’t quite figured out what to do about my clothes, yet. They don’t seem to make the transition, just get vaporised or something if I’m wearing them. Lost my ‘Gravity Sucks’ T that way, which, let me tell you, I am seriously pissed about.”
“I…” John tried, still feeling stunned. “You–”
“Shit, sorry.” Rodney had a hand on his elbow and was pulling him over to the sun-warmed wall, pushing him down to sit on the metal deck. He knelt down clumsily beside John then sat back beside him, clothes piled in his lap, and leaned back, sighing. “I forget how weird it must be for you to see me change. I’ve been playing with the thing since yesterday so I’m getting almost used to it, well, a little bit anyway, given I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can–”
“You flew…” John couldn’t keep the wonder, and the longing, out of his voice. “Jesus, Rodney, you…” he swallowed around a sudden tightness in his throat, trying not to let the wash of envy overwhelm him.
“Ah, right, of course,” Rodney said carefully. He bit his lip, frowning. “It’s embedded, John, I can’t…You know I’d let you use it if I could, right?”
John nodded, swallowing. “S’okay. Anyway, you shouldn’t be fucking around with it yourself, let alone me…” A bird, Rodney could be a bird, he could fly. He closed his eyes, letting the sun soak into him as he imagined soaring high above the city, his wings perfectly angled to catch the thermals. He tamped it down, hard. Just one more thing he couldn’t have.
Rodney was talking quietly. “I’ll try, though. I went back to that lab last night and there’s another one there, it looks nearly identical. It’s not working at the moment but I think I’ve a better chance of finding these devices in the database, now that we know what they’re for. So I’ll try and fix it, John, I’ll keep working on it.”
“Yeah, in your spare time,” John said, trying not to let a bitter edge tinge his voice. “I won’t hold my breath.”
“Well…” said Rodney, sitting up straighter and crossing his legs, which brought his warm so warm knee into close proximity with John’s thigh. John tried not to like it quite as much as he did. Rodney continued, shooting him a sidelong glance. “You know how Elizabeth’s been on at me to take some leave…well, I thought I might do that.”
John’s stomach dropped. McKay with the thing, off-world somewhere where anything could happen, anything could go wrong. Oh man, surely he didn’t mean to take it back to Earth, what if he–
Rodney’s hand closed on his wrist. “Jesus, calm down, I can feel your pulse hammering. No, Colonel protective, I’m not planning on going away anywhere, I’m not that much of a moron. But I need to get out of the labs, even I know that, it’s just I can’t…do nothing, you know. I can’t lie on a beach and veg out, it’s never been my thing. Brain won’t stop, drives me crazy. So this is perfect for me. I can explore the Bestiary, play around with it, but it’s not like work, and it’s fun, god, John, you have no idea what fun it is. Oh crap, I so have to get the other one working for you, I–”
John pulled his arm free and cuffed McKay lightly on the back of his head. Soft hair: he resisted ruffling it. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. It’s okay. So you’ll stick around here, then, while you’re using the thing?”
“Here and the mainland. I’ll be okay, honest, you know we’ve surveyed it pretty thoroughly. And the sea around the city. I figure the marine forms will help me get over…you know.”
John nodded. Having gills or whatever would certainly tend to make you less worried about drowning. He was struck by another pang of envy, imagining Rodney eeling through the water as a dolphin…or a shark…whoa. “I dunno about that. We don’t know enough about the ocean yet, McKay, and those whales were fucking huge.”
“Yes, but they were basically benign, and I’ll re-read the marine biologists’ reports again before trying it. I don’t recall anything worrying in terms of predators from their research to date and they haven’t stopped people from swimming off the East Pier, but I tend not to take much notice of the biologists as you know, so I’ll make sure to double check.”
Hmmm. John considered that. No. “Really not too happy with you messing about all by yourself with this shit, Rodney. You know it’s not safe alone and it’s against all our protocols for exploring the Ancient tech. Elizabeth’s never going to buy it, even though she does want you to take a break.”
“Um, yes, about that? I was kind of hoping you could talk to her for me? Sell her the leave plan? I’m more inclined to brazen it out with her afterwards than try to talk with her in advance.” Rodney turned and looked at him, eyebrows raised hopefully.
“Gee, thanks, ’cause you know I’m just a natural negotiator, McKay. She’s gonna shoot me down in flames in five seconds. Nope, the only way I can get her on board – the only way I’m even gonna try – is if we agree on some ground rules. Like Rule One is me being there whenever you do the morphing thing. As far as I can, anyway, I know I can’t swim far, or fly…except maybe in a jumper, but I wouldn’t want to hurt you…”
“The jumpers have got collision-protection systems against flying life-forms. Very eco-sensitive of the Ancients, I’m sure. But you’d be too cumbersome to maneuver I think, unless there’s some sort of giant Mothra thing in here, which I guess there might be…”
“Yeah, but then again, no. No alien life-forms yet, McKay, too many variables. That’s Rule Two. You gotta stick to Terran animals, birds, fish, whatever. And only ones we know a bit about, you know? Nothing too weird or unpredictable. Like no velociraptors, okay? There’s a limit to how fast I can run.”
“Oh hardy har. You can’t even outrun Ronon, Colonel my-knees-have-seen-better-days. Well, not unless you’re turning blue, that is.” That earned him another cuff. “Ouch! Okay, sorry, touchy subject, enough with the head trauma. No, no dinosaurs…not yet, anyway, because Jesus, John, Jesus, imagine it, I could be a T Rex, or no, wait, they had miniscule brains, but that doesn’t seem to matter, I’m still me inside, still conscious, but there’s this amazing animal overlay with the senses, the instincts. Oh crap crap crap, I have to get the other one fixed.”
Really not arguing with you there, Buddy. John sighed and leaned his head back on the warm wall behind them. “Okay, so we’re clear? I’m your chaperone, and you stick to things we know something about – right? Oh, and Rule Three: no bugs.”
“Yes, yes, okay. It’s a start, anyway.” Rodney was quiet for a while, then he elbowed John in the ribs. “Hey, I’m kind of liking this cat form – I think it’s a mountain lion or something, and man, can it move. What d’you say to a bit of a run? See if you can take me when I’m not in pasty-assed nerd-format, yeah?”
“You’re not so bad as you are, McKay,” John said, then flushed, and covered it by scrambling to his feet and looking away. “Yeah, that’d be cool, I could do with some exercise.”
He missed the flash, and by the time he turned back, blinking, the tawny cat was shaking itself and stretching langorously, rubbing itself against his thighs. Damn, Rodney, way to blow the personal boundaries right there. But it was nice, having the big cat pressed against his legs. Warm and muscular and soft fur and he couldn’t help stroking its back. Rodney’s back. Oh sweet Jesus, this was seriously fucking with his head.
The cat made a coughing, purring noise, sort of like a laugh, and butted his thigh, pushing its head into his hand. Then it took off down the deck toward a small tower at the tip of the pier. John made a snap decision then unbuckled his thigh-holster and took off his shirt, leaving on just his BDUs and T. The cat danced back, teasing him, then took off again, and he followed this time, running full tilt, dodging and weaving to try and catch its mobile, dark-tipped tail, laughing like a fool and feeling all of five years old. They played hide and seek in among some outcroppings at the tower’s base, maybe drone emplacements or equipment caches, then he finally cornered the animal in a cul-de-sac and got a good grip on its ruff, calling up his wrestling training from College days as they rolled and grappled. Rodney snarled a little when he played dirty, clenching that inviting tail in his fist, and he ended up flat on his back with the big cat straddling him, strong limbs effortlessly holding him down while it licked up his neck with a wet, rasping tongue.
“Uncle! Uncle! Quit that, Rodney, yeccchh.” He could barely speak for laughing, wriggling helplessly under the warm, furry weight as the cat’s whiskers tickled his face. Rodney’s whiskers. Rodney’s warm, furry weight. Fuck. He felt himself get hard, pressed against the cat’s groin. Shit, would Rodney notice? How sensitive was he down there, and what would it feel like anyway, did cats have…? Yes of course they did, and Rodney was still male, a male animal. And it was that thought that undid him, making his hips thrust up involuntarily, eyes shutting as his head fell back. The cat – Rodney – settled more heavily against him, purring now, the deep vibrations an added torment as he tried not to let go and just rub himself off frantically against the strong, furred haunch pressing down on his dick. On his very hard dick, oh fucking hell. He couldn’t stop his arms from coming up and wrapping about the cat’s torso. Hot fur, and soft and the muscles flexing as Rodney sniffed behind his ear and smooched him again, and it was just too much, too damn good finally to have his arms full of Rodney, musky and male and furry, and fuck did he have a kink for this, was he going to have to get a plushie suit or some weird shit?
Rodney nosed John’s throat just under his jaw and he arched his neck back, head turned aside in instinctive submission, shuddering at the thought of those sharp teeth right over his jugular and how helpless and pinned he was. That made his hips thrust up again, and he gasped, giving in to it, letting himself move against Rodney’s body as he wanted, as he needed, thrusting his aching cock up against Rodney’s soft-strong groin again and again. Rodney growled softly, writhing against his dick in an unmistakeably sexual way. It was so good, being trapped under all this weight and warmth, held down by something this powerful, this animal. He moaned and just went for it, hips bucking as Rodney pressed back against him, flanks rippling under John’s hands as John’s fingers dug into his fur, god, his fur.
Okay, definitely a kink, he thought dazedly, sucking in shaky breaths and feeling the spreading wetness in his shorts. Had Rodney come too? The cat had quieted but its warm weight still pinned him, its head raised a little, looking down at his face with golden eyes. It leaned in, purring, and pressed its wet black nose to his cheek. John kissed its fur, closing his eyes. Oh, man, Rodney.
There was a strange moment of dislocation before he realised that the weight on him was human now. Less soft, more angular. He missed the fur, he realised with an inner eyeroll, but it was still very pleasant to have an armful of sun-warmed, naked McKay.
“Hey,” Rodney said softly. “You okay there? You came pretty hard, you almost passed out.”
“Er, yeah,” said John, his face hot. “Not quite how I’d pictured our first time panning out, but it was pretty fucking memorable.”
“Mmmm.” Rodney flexed his hips suggestively, still channeling the cat. He leaned in and kissed John gently, licking along his lips. John’s mouth fell open with a groan of pleasure and he sucked at Rodney’s tongue. It felt so damn good, to be all relaxed and loose with his arms around McKay at last. Rodney pulled back and eyed him, looking mischievous. “So you’d pictured it, huh?”
“Yeah, right, McKay, like you never noticed me flirting with you.” John snorted and brought his hand up to ruffle Rodney’s hair, because he could. Rodney arched into his hand, still so catlike. Probably took a while to wear off, after changing back. They’d have to watch that, wouldn’t do to for him to stay in animal-form too long and forget how to be human.
John rolled them onto their sides, finally feeling a little breathless under Rodney’s full weight. He slid his hand down Rodney’s naked chest and smiled; still a little fur there to feed his new kink. Then down to cup that spectacular ass, now naked to the sky. Tricky that, the clothes thing. Good thing there was no-one else here and it was a nice day, ’cause Rodney was going to have to make it back to the transporter au naturel.
Rodney closed his eyes and whimpered. He writhed against John and his hand came up and pulled John’s around to his dick, which was hard and eager against John’s thigh. Okay, so that answered that one: Rodney hadn’t come yet. John rolled them again, McKay on his back and half under him, and took his cock in hand, stroking lightly up the shaft as he leaned in for another kiss. Mmmm, warm, wet, and he was hungry for more, sucking on Rodney’s tongue again but it wasn’t enough even though Rodney was moaning and thrusting up into his hand, cock slick in his grasp.
Not letting go, John got his legs between Rodney’s then braced on his left arm and slid down the solid frame, pausing briefly to suck on his nipples, pink nubs that hardened under his tongue causing Rodney to give a choked cry and flex up into his mouth. Sensitive there, okay. He relinquished Rodney’s cock reluctantly and held himself up on both arms above the pale body quivering beneath him. He spread his thighs, forcing Rodney to spread his legs wider in turn, and lowered himself down to tongue Rodney’s navel and lick down the soft brown hair arrowing down to his cock, which was standing up, leaking and just fucking begging to be sucked.
John’s mouth flooded with saliva and he couldn’t wait any longer, couldn’t stand to tease any more. By the look of him, Rodney couldn’t take much more teasing, anyway, he was moments away from coming without a hand on him, hips bucking helplessly under John, legs trembling to either side as he sobbed out incoherent pleas. John’s cock twitched in his damp BDUs but his turnaround time was way longer than that these days. He was loving this though, hungry to taste Rodney, arousal centered in his mouth, never mind that the plumbing was taking a break.
He bent his head and took the crown of Rodney’s cock into his mouth, just holding it softly, his mouth wet with wanting as Rodney gasped and groaned, thighs tense as he tried not to come just from the contact. Judging him to have regained a little control, John slid his mouth down, letting the thick, smooth cock slide against his soft palate as he pressed his tongue against it. It tasted of musk and salt bitterness, the smell pure, concentrated Rodney and he moaned, couldn’t help himself. He pulled off, flicking his tongue across the crown and then opened his throat and took it all down again. Rodney cried out and pulsed into his throat, jerking helplessly under him as he sucked and swallowed, eyes watering.
He held Rodney’s softening cock in his mouth for a while, face buried in the damp, fragrant hair in his groin, until there was a tug on his collar and a hand in his hair. John moved back up and Rodney wrapped his arms around him, fitting himself to John. Even with one of them naked and the other fully clothed, it felt perfect, right, and he buried his head in Rodney’s sweaty neck and let himself drift off right there in the warm sun, Atlantis humming quietly beneath him.
“Look, I know you don’t like it, but there’s not a lot we can do,” John told Elizabeth, blowing out a breath and slumping down onto his elbows on the conference table. “He’s goddam stubborn when he gets a new project, and at least he’s having fun with this. It’s the only way we’re gonna get him to take a breather from the labs.”
“When I asked you to get him to take a break, this was not what I had in mind.” Her back was straight, hands clasped tightly before her on the table, her face set. “It’s dreadfully risky, John. A new Ancient device, untested, and him off by himself experimenting with it unsupervised.”
“Hey!” John protested. “I’m gonna be there, I at least got him to agree to that.”
Elizabeth shot him a look that managed to combine scorn and weariness, like a burnt out kindergarten teacher.
What? He could be responsible. He tried to quell the sense memory of arching up into warm furry good, frowning and putting on his best adult front. “It’ll be okay, Elizabeth, really. It’s a teaching device, just a real-life encyclopedia of life forms. There’s no way they’d have let it be harmful – probably an Ancient grade school thing for all we know. I’ll keep a close eye on him and he’s not gonna use it to turn into anything weird like a…a triffid or something. We agreed – just normal Earth-type animals that we’re used to.” He played his trump card, doing the hopeful puppy-dog face just a little. “And you did say I should take a break as well. I gotta admit, it’s fun, like we’re playing. It’ll be good for us both.”
She pulled a wry face but he could see that that had done it. He tamped down the rush of triumph, smoothing his face into a bland mask of maturity. Oh yeah, game on.
“Now, about borrowing a jumper,” he tried, while he was on a roll.
It took the rest of the day to put cover in place with Lorne and Zelenka, tying up loose ends, delegating tasks and signing a raft of damn forms that Lorne insisted couldn’t wait any longer. Rodney had promised he’d use the time combing the database anyway, so he wasn’t too worried about him. He was sure Rodney would play fair and not morph until they got back together later on. Pretty sure.
Knowing that any contact would suck him back into work again, Rodney had decided to avoid everyone and had activated a database terminal in an unused lab out on the north pier. John had checked out some quarters there and it was perfectly safe, even relatively clean. He’d fetched Rodney supplies, bedding and his laptop, before sitting down with Elizabeth to fess up to the plan.
He got the mess staff to pack him up a meal to go, then ate dinner with the rest of his team, ignoring the mildly disapproving vibes radiating off Teyla, who clearly thought both he and McKay needed a minder. Ronon just gave him a knowing look and grinned. John raised one eyebrow, aiming for how-dare-you-question-your-taskmaster, but Ronon just snorted, smirking down into his not-beef stew.
“At least take your radio, John,” Teyla insisted. “You can set it to an emergency channel so that we may make contact if needed, but no-one can bother you with trivialities.”
Actually, not a bad idea. “Yeah, okay, that makes sense.” Not that he’d be wearing it if Rodney was in fish-mode, but best to be on the safe side. “Rodney'll keep in touch by email,” John reassured her.
“You should get him to be a tribble,” Ronon offered indistinctly, around a mouthful of bread.
“Look, big man, that may be your favorite Trek episode but I hate to break it to you: they’re fictional. And even if they weren’t it’d be a no. Hundreds of multiplying McKays everywhere? I don’t think so.”
“I like ’em, they’re cute,” said Ronon, grinning. “And they sure can eat, just like McKay.”
John pulled a face at him, then remembered he was an adult. Teyla shook her head.::::::::::::::::::::