As always, thanks to Suz, who keeps kicking ass. *smooch*
As You Wish
"We're going to die," McKay moaned.
"We're not going to die, McKay," John said firmly, shifting a little, trying to find a comfortable position on the cold, hard floor.
McKay glared at him, disbelief written clearly on his face. "Ha!"
John shifted again. "You have food, water, shelter; what else do you need?"
McKay shifted as well, shuffling backwards until he was sitting with his back to the wall. "How about a view more interesting than a cement wall? How about something more stimulating to do than twiddle my thumbs?" He glared vehemently at John. "How about company that isn't constantly humming the theme song of Bonanza?"
"It's a good show!" John said defensively.
"You need to lighten up." John stretched and lay down on the floor they were sitting on. It could have been worse, a bit cold but not too bad on the back. He'd slept in more uncomfortable places. His ex's bed, for one. "This is probably some kind of test. We should make the best of it."
"I'm filling up the nervous breakdown part of the test, what do you want from me?" McKay got up from the floor and started to pace.
"McKay," John tsked.
"They're driving us insane by *boredom*. Why didn't you do that with the Wraith we captured? I can't imagine torture that could be worse."
"I doubt everyone is as allergic to inactivity as you are," John said lazily, closing his eyes.
He heard McKay blow out a frustrated breath and continue pacing.
"Aren't smart people supposed to never be bored? You know, being smart enough to entertain themselves?"
"No," McKay said sourly, finally stopping, and from the sounds of it, sitting down again, "that's imaginative people."
"Huh." John opened his eyes, considering that while studying the grey ceiling. "Yeah, I see how you might have a problem then."
"That was sarcasm, McKay."
He tilted his head to the side and studied McKay, who was sitting against one of the walls, knees pulled up against his chest and head resting against the stone. "Ford and Teyla will get us out." He spoke slowly and, he hoped, soothingly. "We need to conserve our energy in case the getting out part doesn't run smoothly. We just have to be patient."
McKay nodded, bumping the back of his head against the wall. "I know. I know. It's just..."
"Yeah," John agreed and closed his eyes again.
"I'm sorry, but we have not encountered your companions." The blue haired man smiled apologetically (and nervously, Ford thought to himself).
The day had started so promising. Actually, Ford admitted to himself, any day starting with a ride in one of the Puddle Jumpers was promising to him. But this one had been more so than usual.
The planet they'd landed on had had beautiful weather (he would never be a big fan of making first contact in pouring rain where the first contactee's were too paranoid to let them inside), Dr McKay had packed some decent food for once ("Yes, I did it *just* for you, Lieutenant.") and Major Sheppard had talked about going to the mainland later to blow up some rocks that were in the way of something the Athosians needed.
It had continued pretty promising too; they'd met some people from different villages who seemed to be fascinated with everything from the cap on Ford's head to the boots they were all wearing. They seemed friendly enough, as well as infectiously happy and they were very curious about Earth and Athosian culture as Ford and the others seemed to be the first people they'd ever met that weren't from around here.
They were invited to visit several of the people they met, but as they discovered that the invitations came from different villages, they decided to split up. None of them had forgotten the time they'd almost started a civil war to seeming "favorism" of one city. A couple of months had passed since the incident, but Ford noticed that Major Sheppard was much more careful with what he said nowadays.
They were told that the villages were close to each other, only a couple of miles apart, so they'd split up, planning to radio in within twenty minutes in case the villagers weren't as peaceful as they seemed.
Ford got paired off with Teyla, which was cool; he'd discovered a while back that she had a wicked sense of humor, despite the appearance of solemn seriousness she'd radiated to begin with. He felt kind of flattered that she felt relaxed enough with him and the others to show that side of her; while Major Sheppard seemed to feel that being a leader didn't mean you had to distance yourself from the ones following, and while Teyla certainly wasn't aloof with her people, Ford suspected that they only got to see certain sides of her. Letting go of that, even in a situation as different as theirs, couldn't be easy.
The two of them had followed a couple of the natives who seemed perfectly content to chat about whatever Ford asked them about, and the trip to the village had passed quickly.
Then the day had turned less than promising; neither the Major or Dr McKay radioed in, nor answered Ford and Teyla's calls.
They hadn't wasted any time and the trek to the other village had gone fast. Arriving there, they'd discovered that it wasn't as much a village as the one they'd been to, as it was a fairly large town, making the search harder.
If things had gone as planned, he mused, maybe they'd have been back at Atlantis now, blowing things up. Instead, he was standing outside the stairs of some sort of palace giving out Arabian Night vibes after having asked a dozen different people for directions (the people seemed happy, but sort of out of it, not really sure where things were located in their own town). When they'd finally found the place, not only were the palace guards staring at them with paranoia, but he was doing the meet and greet with someone who'd obviously gone to a 'How to make someone leave you alone in less than ten minutes' course, doing nothing but stare at them until they introduced themselves.
He silenced an oncoming sigh and smiled as well, wondering to himself how someone with such funky hair could be so boring. "Some people in town told us that they saw Major Sheppard and Dr McKay walking up to this palace this morning, Chancellor Ari."
The chancellor smiled indulgently, reminding Ford of his great uncle Rupert, who seemed to have a condescending smile for anyone unfortunate enough to be around to receive it. "People are simple, their lives monotone. This is the first time we have met visitors from another world," the chancellor's eyes flickered and Ford frowned, "besides the Wraith, of course, who have not come in centuries. It's no wonder they would lose themselves in fantasies for a while."
"Their descriptions of our team members were quite accurate," Teyla stated, treating the man with a less than impressed look.
Chancellor Ari struck out his hands in a helpless gesture, the long sleeves hanging from his wrists scraping against the ground. "Who is to tell how coincidence works?"
"Well, we'd really appreciate if you could put up descriptions of Major Sheppard and Dr McKay for your law enforcement," Ford said, giving up with the questioning. He'd gotten more useful information out of his old hamster.
"Of course! Any way we can be of help, we shall endeavor to do so." The sentiment sounded sincere enough, but the chancellor still seemed nervous to Ford. He figured making first contact with someone who didn't try to suck the life out of you was something that took a while to get used to.
"That is very kind of you," Teyla smiled pleasantly, somehow managing to convey a sense of unimpressed superiority.
Ford *had* to figure out how she did that.
As they walked down the wide steps down from the palace, Ford looked back at blue haired man standing in front of the huge gate, waving at them.
"He is lying," Teyla stated flatly.
"Yeah, and not very creatively either," Ford said critically.
"Should we return to the Stargate for reinforcements?"
They reached the bottom of the steps and Ford looked around the street covered in cobblestone, happy people with blue, green and purple hair milling about outside buildings matching the brown leather outfits they wore. "No, let's report back to Dr Weir that we're staying to scope out the palace. We might see something. If the Major and Dr McKay aren't in there, I'll eat my hat."
Teyla looked dubious.
"Not literally," he explained.
"I see," she stated, clearly not seeing.
"It's an expression," he started explaining patiently, walking through the square towards the Stargate.
Rodney liked to think that he'd reached the end of his squeaking days sometime in his early teens, but was forced to re-evaluate that assumption as he blurted out, "Major?"
"McKay." Major Sheppard was looking a little concerned as well. Rodney fought between the urge of being pleased that he wasn't alone in his squeaky uneasiness and dismay that Sheppard was actually looking worried.
He settled somewhere between the two. "Please tell me I'm not seeing what I'm seeing."
The Major scratched his head. "You're not seeing what you're seeing."
Rodney nodded frantically, his eyes being drawn to the walls against his will. The walls that seemed to be slowly but surely closing in on them. "Good. Good. Because I'm not too proud to admit that I'd be freaking out if I was seeing what I'm seeing."
"I think that would be an understandable freak-out," Sheppard's voice sounded strained.
The walls stopped moving.
They both stared at them silently for several long moments before releasing the breaths they'd been holding.
"I can't handle this much longer," Rodney said faintly, not caring if he sounded like a wuss.
"We have to give Ford and Teyla more time," came the annoyingly calm reply.
Rodney shook his head wildly. "No. No no no. I'm sorry, you may be able to not freak in the face of being crushed to death, but I'm sorry, the whole dying thing is just looking massively unappealing to me. I am not a kamikaze scientist."
"Rodney, it's not like I'm enjoying this either. Believe me," Major Sheppard said dryly, "there are things in life I find more enjoyable than being trapped in a small space with you."
Strangely stung, Rodney gritted his teeth. "Then how come you're being so damn calm about it?"
The Major struck out his hands in exasperation, accidentally (that was the story Rodney was sticking to, anyway) hitting Rodney's shoulder due to their close proximity. "What good would me freaking out do?"
"Well, it might make me feel like I'm not the only human in the room," Rodney snapped.
Sheppard shrugged in that infuriatingly easygoing manner that was really (really really) starting to get on Rodney's nerves. "Just trying to save oxygen."
Oh and that made Rodney feel *so* much better. Was it getting harder to breathe? "Admit it, you'd rather die than lose face."
Sheppard made a face. "Thank you for that wonderfully suiting analogy."
"You," Rodney poked the Major's chest, "just can't stand the thought of not reacting coolly to something."
Sheppard looked irritated and slapped Rodney's hand away. "McKay, are you *trying* to annoy me?"
"Yes!" Rodney said in his best 'hell-o?!' voice (which he, as it happened, knew grated on the Major's nerves quite a bit).
Major Sheppard frowned at him. "You are the most annoying person I've ever met."
Rodney smiled, surprised. "Thank you."
"So, what you're saying, Lieutenant," Elizabeth rubbed the bridge of her nose - she was getting a headache - "is that Major Sheppard and Dr McKay have been taken prisoners by an apparently peace loving people-"
"Hippies," Ford repeated, and she'd *tried* to make it sound less absurd.
"-who seem constantly drugged-"
"Well, the people holding the doctor and the Major prisoners don't seem that stoned, really..."
"-and look like they're from..." She couldn't say it. She was a diplomat, a leader, on one of the most important missions in human history. She'd negotiated some of the toughest treaties there were on Earth, she'd negotiated with the *Goa'uld* and coming to Atlantis, she'd seen more strangeness than she'd ever dreamed of seeing. Nothing in the job description, however, had covered encountering a culture where the people apparently looked like they came straight out of-
"A Manga movie, ma'am."
"Because of their colored hair," she filled in grimly.
"We wish for permission to try and find more information about the Major and the doctor's whereabouts." Teyla. Thank god. A voice of sanity.
"Are you sure you don't need reinforcements?"
"If we need reinforcements," Teyla said, "I will eat my hat."
Elizabeth closed her eyes. So not in the job description.
"HA!" McKay exclaimed in triumph. "You've said that already!"
"You keep giving me words that end with 'e'!" John objected loudly.
"Don't be a sore loser, Major," McKay said, sounding superior.
John gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to bang his head against a wall. Or McKay's head. Either one would work for him, at this point.
He was trapped in a cramped room with the most annoying man in the universe.
John liked to think of himself as a fairly easygoing guy. Sure, he got pissed. When people took over Atlantis and killed (although that had turned out to be less than true, thank god) people he cared about, for instance. Or when Wraiths with really bad dreads tried to steal his puddle jumper. But hey, who wouldn't get pissed under those circumstances?
Being stuck with McKay in a room less than a day (it couldn't have been more than a day, McKay wasn't experiencing enough caffeine withdrawal for it to have been longer) made him think that he really didn't know himself very well. Apparently his patience was shorter than he remembered it being.
McKay freaking out, okay.
McKay purposely annoying him, okay.
McKay discussing math, fine. It had been kind of interesting, actually.
McKay discussing wormhole theory, not so much, but still okay.
McKay cursing over the crampedness of the room, fair enough. John thought that five-by-five feet was a bit on the small side too.
McKay whining over their failure of playing I Spy may have grated on John's nerves a bit.
McKay winning every single time (how was that even *possible*?) in rocks/papers/scissors might have made him a bit moody.
McKay continuously mocking him (and beating him) over a word game? There was a limit to John Sheppard's patience.
"McKay," he grated out through gritted teeth, fully prepared to say some less pleasant things (he even had a few nice curses he hadn't used in a while), but before he had a chance to say anything else, he was interrupted by strange noise, like crumbling rock.
He saw McKay swallow hard as small pieces of stone started falling from the wall in front of them, creating a hole in the shape of a doorway.
"This can't be good," he heard McKay mutter.
John silently agreed.
The stones stopped falling and someone dressed completely in black, head to toe, face covered, stepped into the room, followed by another someone in black. That was the limit to how many that could fit in the room at once; John could see others behind them.
John hurriedly stood, McKay awkwardly following his example. "My name is Major John Sheppard. I'm sure there's been some kind of misunderstanding; we mean no harm, we just-"
The front figure dressed in black didn't have to say anything to interrupt John; he simply pointed at McKay.
"I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything, Major," Rodney whispered fiercely.
John shook his head. "I know." He raised his voice. "I don't know what you-"
The front man and the one standing behind him stepped forward and grabbed McKay, none too gently.
"Hey!" McKay objected, struggling against their grip.
"Leave him alone!" He tried to step forward, but suddenly a force field separated him from McKay and their captors. God damn it, what was this, Star Wars?
"I'm the leader, I'm the one you want!" There was no reaction; they simply started dragging McKay out of the room.
"Major!" McKay's voice was desperate.
John punched the force field in frustration and cursed loudly. "Hang in there, McKay, Ford and Teyla will get you out." He gritted his teeth against the helplessness of his statement, against the unsaid "Since I can't."
He got one last glimpse of Rodney's terrified face before all the black-clad figures were out of the room and the crumbled rock started flying back towards the empty opening, like some bizarre real-life rewind.
As the final rock flew backwards into its former position in the wall, the force field flickered, then vanished. John stepped forward to the wall where the doorway had been only moments ago, the floor in front of it not even dusty, and felt along the wall.
If he hadn't seen it in pieces only moments before, he would have never thought that it'd been broken.
He kicked at it, frustration building. He had no way of getting out, no way of helping McKay, no way of even knowing if Ford and Teyla were on their trail.
Hell wasn't other people. Hell was this, this helplessness.
Closing his eyes and calming his breaths, he slid down the wall and prepared himself to wait.
The couple sitting at the opposite of the table smiled dreamily at Teyla and Ford. It seemed to be the standard expression of the people they'd met. Well, save for Mr. Blue - the chancellor - at the palace.
Maybe it was whatever they used to color their hair (because no way were those colors natural). Maybe it seeped into their brains, leaving them on a permanent high.
"Are you certain of this?" Teyla asked them, studying them carefully.
The woman, having introduced herself as Inara, smiled wider (and yeah, it was just starting to be on this side of creepy). "Yes. When my husband," at this point she turned adoring eyes to the man sitting with his arm around her shoulders, "was a servant at the palace, I used to sneak in at night to meet him."
The man returned her adoring look. "We weren't married back then."
"You don't say..." Ford muttered.
"It's quite easy, I'll show you the way if you want to." She tore her eyes away from her husband for a moment.
"We would not wish to cause you trouble," Teyla said, more out of sense of duty than anything else, Ford suspected.
"Oh no, it wouldn't be any trouble at all," the man replied. He turned back to his wife, and this time there was definitely a leering quality to his smile. "It will give us a chance to relive old times."
Ford resisted the urge to roll his eyes. //Get a room.//
When the wall started crumbling down again, John was on his feet in an instant. This time, he wouldn't be caught unawares. If they were coming back with McKay, John'd get him out of the way and knock those bastards down. If they came for John, well, all the better, then he only had to worry about himself for the moment.
He avoided thinking of what they might have done to Rodney. That kind of thinking would lead him nowhere.
Only a little bit left before the doorway was completely open. John crouched into a fighting position. Ready. Three. Two. O-
"Ooof," he said eloquently as something tackled him to the ground, effectively knocking the air out of his lungs. He was just about to knee whatever this thing was and get it off him, when it spoke.
"John! It's so *good* to see you!"
It couldn't be...but it sounded like...
Rodney sighed against John's neck before nodding repeatedly.
"Um..." John tried to look at Rodney, but had some trouble, as he could only twist his head so far and he hadn't developed his x-ray vision yet. "You okay?"
Another sigh. "I am now."
"Could you...get off me?"
Immediately, Rodney leaped back, and John could breathe again. He pushed himself up on his elbows and looked at Rodney.
Who looked very non-tortured.
The expression on his face scared John, though.
"What...what did they do to you, Rodney?" he asked fearfully.
Rodney's expression didn't change and John was hit by the feeling that it could never be removed. He shuddered.
Rodney was smiling happily. "I don't know."
Okay, facts. He needed to stick to facts, even though he didn't have a lot of those.
Fact #1: He and McKay were prisoners in a room without a door or windows.
Fact #2: He didn't know by *who* they were being kept in a room without a door or windows.
Fact #3: Something had been done to McKay.
Fact #4: Something that made him look at John with puppydog eyes.
John sighed. This situation was just so wrong in so many ways.
Rodney's eyes turned even more pathetic. God, if John wanted this, he could watch Bambi.
"But *why*?" Rodney's whine had the full maturity of a five-year old.
"I'm not the hugging kind!" John snapped.
Rodney's lower lip quivered. "It's me, isn't it? You wouldn't hesitate to hug Teyla."
John stared at him. He then looked down pinched his left arm, hard.
Disappointingly enough, he didn't wake up.
He looked up at Rodney again, who was still looking at him. Crap. Were those tears in his eyes?
"Rodney," John said gently, "it's not you. It's just...I just want to get out of here. Not really liking this whole being held prisoner situation."
Rodney's face cleared, and he nodded thoughtfully. "I understand. It's not very comfortable for you."
"No, it's not," John agreed.
Rodney brightened. "I could give you a foot rub!"
"Or a backrub!" Rodney exclaimed.
John had never thought he'd wish for McKay to be in one of his fouler moods, but right now, he'd do anything to have Rodney giving him some statement of biting sarcasm.
"Or would you like some sexual favors?"
"Whoa whoa whoa!" John raised his hands. "Rodney..."
Rodney smiled at him slowly and there was glint of...something...in his eyes that was definitely new to John. Shit. "I could be very very good to you," Rodney said, voice low and husky.
God. John had died and gone to porno hell, where bastards became these alluring creatures offering sexual services that would no doubt send John to the lower levels of hell, if he accepted.
"I don't think that's a good idea, Rodney."
Rodney was moving closer, and damn the room for being too small for John to shift backwards. "I think it is."
"Yeah, well, you won't when you snap out of whatever brainwash these guys have you in."
"I'm not brainwashed," Rodney said dreamily.
"Oh please," John snorted, "if you got any more sugary, Disney would get a diabetic reaction."
Rodney stopped. "Does that mean you think I'm sweet?"
John groaned and closed his eyes.
Yeah, in hindsight, not the best idea.
Suddenly, his lap was filled with Rodney and his mouth with Rodney's tongue. Of course, he pushed Rodney away. Instantly. Sort of.
There may have been a moment where he enjoyed the feel of Rodney's lips against his, the taste of his mouth (coffee. Shocker.), the weight of him pressed to John's body.
Just a moment.
But then he pushed Rodney away, breathing a bit heavily. "You want to please me, Rodney?"
Rodney's eyes were half-closed and he moaned a little, pressing his hips closer to John's. "Yes."
John cursed himself for being too good a man. "Then I need you to get us out of here."
John looked at Rodney and sighed. "McKay."
Rodney glared at him, arms crossed defensively against his chest. "I'm thinking!"
"You are not. You talk much more when you're thinking."
A pout. An honest to god pout. "Do not."
Well, at least he'd gotten his wish. McKay didn't look happy anymore.
"Come on, Rodney," he wheedled, "get us out of here, and you and me, we might..." Might what?
Rodney looked at him suspiciously. "Might what?"
John tried his most charming smile. "Do I have to spell it out?"
Rodney was disappointingly unfazed. What happened to the guy that had tried to jump John's bones a few minutes ago? "Yes."
John decided to change tactics. "Look, nothing's going to happen as long as we're in here. I'm sorry, McKay, but I don't plan on getting hot and heavy when we're probably being watched."
Rodney had been fidgeting (had they drugged him?), but at John's statement, he stilled.
He stared at John long enough for John to be start to fidget instead. "McKay?"
McKay managed to surprise him for the second (or was that third?) time that day as John was so not expecting McKay to snarl and lunge for his throat.
John landed against the wall with another "ooof!" before McKay's hands were around his throat, squeezing.
In the moment it took for John's head to clear from the knock it'd received upon introduction to the wall, he realized that while the grip on his throat was uncomfortable, McKay wasn't really trying to strangle him.
He was still snarling though.
"McKay," John wheezed, a moment from throwing the other man off, when the wall-door started crumbling down, faster than before.
Realization hit. John hurriedly groaned loudly and tried to make his breaths as wheezy as possible. He'd always been a big fan of Darth Vader's.
When the first man in black entered, McKay let go of John's throat and kicked out with one leg, rolling around and off of John. He went "ooof!" as the man landed on him. John was on his feet instantly, easily taking out the second man in black and blocking a punch from the third. He had a *lot* of unused energy to get out of his system.
When the four guys that'd come after the first one were at his feet (so to speak; a couple hadn't made it through the door) he turned to McKay. He was sitting on the first man in black, who seemed to be unconscious, smiling proudly.
"Let's go, McKay, or we'll be back at square one."
Rodney sighed happily. "Yes, John."
//Yep. Still creepy,// John thought as they started running down the corridor outside their former prison.
"No, my love, I think the way you're looking for is to the left." Even when whispering, the voice was adoring.
"My heart, I am certain that it's to the right." Apparently you could coo while whispering as well.
"Don't you remember that unforgettable summer night? You came to see me in the West wing, to the left."
"No, precious, I'm certain that it was in the East wing."
Ford looked down on his gun and wondered if it he should shoot himself or them. Teyla looked about five seconds away from snapping the arguing couple's necks.
No, not arguing. Arguing would require some sort of discontentment.
"Perhaps we should split up," Teyla suggested to the couple, smiling tightly.
The man shook his head, smiling. "No no, that won't be necessary, it's down here to the left."
"Right, my love."
Ford opened his mouth to agree with Teyla when a sudden blaring sound filled the air, sounding very much like an alarm.
"This not good," he muttered.
"Lieutenant!" He'd never heard such excitement in Teyla's voice before and his head snapped up to see her pointing at something beneath the wall they were crouching on top of.
It was Major Sheppard and Dr McKay, running across the courtyard below them, followed by a bunch of figures dressed in black.
Absently noting how the guys in black resembled ninjas, Ford laid a round of warning shots in front of the pursuers, gesturing to Teyla and the couple to start running.
Man, they were definitely good at this rescuing business.
John had never been so happy to see Ford's face. Well, granted, he wasn't seeing a lot of it, since it was dark outside and they were running side by side, but he could see the cap. He assumed that the face was in its customary place beneath it.
"I like your timing," John panted, and Ford fired another round at their pursuers.
"Thank you, sir. We aim to please."
Teyla came up on his other side, running easily, like rescuing John was something she did every morning along with her daily jog. "Are you alright, Major Sheppard?"
"I'm fine, but they did something to McKay."
"Did not!" McKay's voice came from behind them.
John released a breath as they ran into the Jumper. "Only, it doesn't seem to be working all the time." He seated himself in the pilot's seat.
"I heard that!"
"Of course you did," he muttered, starting the Jumper. The sooner they got back to Atlantis to fix this, the happier John would be.
"So," Beckett smiled brightly at them as he entered the infirmary, "the prodigal sons return."
"There's something wrong with McKay," John said without preamble, shooing away the nurse who was trying to put a band aid on his hand. It wasn't even hurt, for Christ's sake.
Beckett sobered and looked carefully at McKay, who was staring at John. Who had been staring at John non-stop since they'd came back. "Is that so? Rodney, how do you feel?"
McKay didn't answer him right away. Instead, "Are you alright, John?" Looking worried.
"I'm fine, Rodney."
The happy smile that broke out on Rodney's face still gave John the creeps. "Then I'm excellent."
Beckett looked at McKay, then at John. "Torture?"
"I don't think so. Possibly brainwashing."
Rodney stared at John in adoration. "True love."
"O-kay." Beckett pulled on a pair of gloves and stepped closer to Rodney.
John's attention was drawn away from them as Dr Weir briskly walked into the infirmary, followed closely by Teyla and Ford. There was a concerned wrinkle on her forehead. "How are you doing, Major?"
"I'm just peachy. McKay, not so much."
The wrinkle turned into a frown. "What's wrong with him?"
"Well," Ford broke in, "he was reciting love poems to the Major as we were flying back."
Dr Weir's eyebrows climbed her forehead and she looked over at Rodney, who started to hum "Love is in the Air".
"Drugs?" she asked Beckett.
"Jewelry," he replied slowly, lifting Rodney's arm and pushing up his sleeve, revealing a golden bracelet.
"Ooooh, look," Rodney said happily.
"Is that yours, Rodney?" Dr Weir asked carefully.
"Nope." He continued humming.
Beckett was moving the bracelet around Rodney's wrist. "There doesn't seem to be an opening," he frowned. "Rodney, how did they put this on?"
"I don't know," Rodney sing-songed.
Teyla looked at John, her eyebrows rising as well.
"He wasn't this bad before," John hurriedly assured, "he was just a bit..."
"A bit...?" Ford prodded.
John made a face. "Clingy."
Beckett was frowning in concentration as he studied the bracelet. "Rodney, can you take this off?"
McKay stopped humming and looked at the bracelet. "Why would I want to? It's really nice."
"But you should still try, McKay," John said firmly.
Rodney's smile was brilliant. "Yes, John." He ran his fingers along the bracelet, and John couldn't help but notice their elegance. McKay had the hands of a pianist. He wondered how he'd never noticed before.
Before his mind had a chance to wander on to what else Rodney might be able to do with his hands, McKay was shaking his head. "It doesn't seem to open."
"Well then," Beckett said cheerfully, "we'll just have to use some heavier tools then."
The claxons went off and Dr Weir looked up. "Do it. I'm going to greet our people. Keep me posted."
John had to admit he was a little intimidated. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what Beckett needed tools like that for. The Doctor was currently holding a small surgical saw that had a cruel-looking round blade with sharp teeth.
Rodney was looking a little worried as well.
"Don't worry, Rodney," Beckett reassured, "this is only going against the bracelet." He looked at Ford and John. "It could probably help if someone held his arm steady, though."
Ford looked at John and nodded swiftly before moving to the bed McKay was sitting on.
John positioned himself next to the top of the bed, absently noting Teyla hovering in the background. She'd been silent ever since the rescue, more silent than usual, and he made a mental note to talk to her after they'd gotten this thing off of Rodney.
He laid his hand on Rodney's shoulder and tried to ignore the happy sigh that induced. "Lie down, Rodney, so that we can hold your arm flat against the bed."
Rodney did as he was told, and then smirked. "Couldn't wait to get me on my back, eh?"
John's head snapped up and he stared at McKay's familiar smirk. He hadn't...? He couldn't...? Could he?
Then the smirk turned dreamy. "'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.'"
John shook his head. "For a moment there, I thought you'd gone back to normal, Rodney."
McKay closed his eyes, looking content, and continued to recite. "'Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and summer's lease hath all too short a date.'"
Ford pressed his hand against the back of McKay's, pressing it safely onto the bed. John imitated the motion with Rodney's forearm. Beckett started the saw, the high-pitched whine grating on John's ears.
Rodney seemed oblivious, his eyes remaining closed. "'Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, and often is his gold complexion dimm'd.'"
Ford looked a little nervous. "Make sure you saw the bracelet into two and not my hand."
"'And every fair from fair sometime declines, by chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd."
"Don't worry, lad, my aim with a gun may not be top-notch, but I'm pretty sure I can handle a surgical saw."
"'But thy eternal summer shall not fade, nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st.'"
Rodney's voice was almost hypnotic.
"I'm holding you to that," Ford muttered.
"'Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, when in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.'"
Beckett just smiled.
"'So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.'"
"Ready when you are, doc." John nodded at Beckett.
"Right." Beckett nodded briskly. "Hang on, Rodney, we'll have you back to your normal charming self in no time."
Rodney opened his eyes. "What?"
The next several moments things happened very fast. Bright yellow sparks flew from the saw as it connected with the bracelet and Rodney's back arched from the bed as he started screaming.
Beckett leaped back immediately, turning off the saw, but Rodney kept screaming.
John let go of his arm and grabbed his shoulders at the same time as Ford let go of the hand. "McKay!"
Immediately, Rodney pulled the arm that wore the bracelet and cradled it against his chest, eyes screwed tightly shut.
John rubbed the tense shoulders comfortingly for several moments until Rodney relaxed slightly. Someone moved next to him, and he looked into Beckett's pale face.
"Can you give him something?" John asked quietly.
"I don't want to risk introducing drugs into his system when I have no clue as to what that bracelet is doing to him."
John turned his attention back to Rodney. "Rodney," he said softly. "How you doing, buddy?"
"How do I look like I'm doing?" McKay snapped, finally opening his eyes and glaring at John.
John blinked. "Honestly? Right now, better than you have all day."
Rodney stared at him, as though he was trying to remember something. Then he slowly started to smile. "Well, you're here, how can I be anything but wonderful?"
John sighed and looked at Teyla and Ford, who were standing next to Beckett, both pale.
"I will go and inform Dr Weir of the latest events," Teyla said, frowning with concern. He nodded and she left the infirmary, walking quickly.
Ford looked at him, lips pressed tightly together. "I'll, uh, stay as moral support."
"And I'll ask Dr Torres to take a look at this." Beckett touched the bracelet carefully, looking closely at Rodney and relaxing when there was no reaction. "Maybe she can figure out something about the material." He patted McKay's hand. "Don't worry, Rodney, we'll figure this out."
"Mmmhmm," Rodney said, staring at John's mouth.
"So it's impossible to remove the bracelet by force?" Dr Weir frowned.
John nodded grimly. "It seems that way."
"Do we know if it's hurting Rodney in any way?"
Ford made a face. "Trying to remove it sure seemed to."
"Dr Beckett ran some rests that I'm not even going to pretend I understand," John said, "but he said that while the bracelet seems to be pumping McKay full of drugs, the drugs don't seem harmful. At least not so far."
"Are these drugs addictive?"
John sighed. "What drugs aren't? We don't know a lot more than that there are drugs, much less what they do. We'll just have to wait and see."
"There's no way of stopping the drugs from entering Rodney's system without removing the bracelet?"
"Dr Beckett tried to insert several different kinds of materials between it and McKay's skin, but it didn't work. It's just too close a fit."
"Dr Weir, I suggest going back to the planet should be our next course of action."
Everyone's eyes turned questioningly to Teyla. "Dr McKay's behavior is very similar to that of the natives there."
"You're right," Ford frowned. "I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. The couple we were talking to seemed like they'd come straight from the Love Boat."
Dr Weir leaned forward, interested. "Were they wearing similar bracelets?"
"I didn't see any, but then we wouldn't." He looked excitedly at Teyla. "Because of the sleeves."
"Ford," John drawled, "didn't know you were a fashion fan."
"I'm not, but I remember getting a lapful of hot tea due to the lady of the house accidentally knocking it down with her sleeve."
John winced and shifted sympathetically in his chair.
Dr Weir nodded. "Then going back to the planet does seem like the best course of action. Lieutenant, you and Teyla can-"
"Actually, Dr Weir..." John interrupted, making a face.
"I'd like to go." He met her questioning eyes. "McKay is getting a bit...clingy."
She carefully didn't smile. "I see. Well, I don't see why not. Someone should probably stay and keep Rodney company, though."
"I developed a very good rapport with the couple who helped us," Ford said hastily.
All eyes turned to Teyla.
She looked alarmed, but hastily composed herself. "Very well, I will look after Dr McKay."
John smiled broadly at her. "Now aren't you happy you joined us?"
The glare she gave him was frosty.
The first twenty minutes, she had been patient. The following twenty minutes, she had felt her patience start to wear thin, but she had still been kind. When an hour had passed, though, she had reached her limit.
"If you do not seat yourself, I will personally tie you to a bed." She glared threateningly, the glare that normally made him squirm. It was a fine glare. She knew that for a fact; she had used it on more than one occasion and had been pleased with the results.
The subject of her glare looked unimpressed, though. "You're just jealous that John likes me better than you."
There was a point where she might have responded maturely. That point might just have been an hour ago, in fact. Unfortunately, she was past that point. "I am *not*!"
"You so are," Dr. McKay said smugly, sitting down for the first time in an hour. Maybe she should have lost her patience right away. Now that she thought about it, that was usually how Major Sheppard handled Dr McKay.
Of course, at the moment, the Major did not have to do anything other than look at Dr McKay for him to try and be pleasing.
"Jealousy is not what I am feeling right now," she said darkly.
"Please. You just hate the thought that someone like me might be just what he needs."
She frowned, thrown slightly off her stride. "Someone like you?"
He snorted. "Oh, come on. We both know that you hate my guts."
She raised her eyebrows. "I can honestly say that I have not given any thought to your guts."
"I *mean*," he rolled his eyes, "you dislike me very much."
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I do not."
Dr McKay stood again. "Do too!" At least he had remained seated for a full minute.
"*You* are the one who avoids speaking to me!" she accused.
"*You're* the one who looks at me as though I'm last month's garbage!" he countered.
"I do not!"
She took a deep breath. She was forced to remain in the infirmary - which was the least pleasant part of Atlantis, in her opinion - with the most frustrating man in the universe. "This is ridiculous. You are under the effects of the bracelet."
He snorted again, and really, it was not an attractive sound. "You wish. That's the only reason you're even speaking to me, isn't it? Because you think I'm sick, or something."
"Perhaps if you did not sneer so much I would endeavor to speak to you more!" she snapped.
He looked at her in that infuriating way that never failed to make her feel stupid. "Hello? Remember the part about last month's garbage?"
"Perhaps it would be better if we not speak at all," she said frostily.
"Great!" He brightened. "You just bring me to John, and everyone will be happy!"
This time, she was the one who snorted. "You wish."
If he'd thought McKay was a bit too much at the moment, that was just a walk in the park compared to the couple sitting opposite him and Ford in the hut-like house, smiling happily. The woman - Inara - in red hair and her husband - Torquay - in blue hair, their appearances so different, made identical by the expression on their faces.
They were wearing leather clothes, save for their sleeves in soft cloth that, just as Ford had said, hung down all the way to the ground where they were cut at the wrists.
He wondered if that would be how he and McKay would have looked if they people that captured them had had time to put a bracelet on John as well.
"We were wondering about your bracelets," Ford said, slipping into the new subject smoothly from what had been idle chit-chat.
If possible, the couple looked even happier.
"The Agapazonii? If we'd known you were interested, we would have acquired one for you." The woman leaned forward towards Ford, winking conspiratorially. "That nice girl who was with you earlier, no? I'm sure she'll bring you many children."
Ford made a strange noise and John coughed to hide his snicker. Clearing his throat, he gave Inara his best smile. "We were just curious; how do you take them off?"
Torquay frowned, the expression looking alien in his face. "Why would we take them off?"
"Well..." John looked at Ford for inspiration.
"Uh, well," Ford seemed to grapple for the first thing that came to mind, "they have to get in the way of...stuff."
John nodded. "Right, stuff."
"The Agapazonii could never get in the way of anything," Inara said seriously. "It only guides and helps us."
John considered that. "Have you always worn them?"
"Oh no, we are given them as we reach puberty." She smiled and looked at her husband. "It is not for children."
"No kidding," John muttered, tugging at his collar. He wasn't used to the climate in this place, too damp for his tastes. How the people here were able to wear long sleeves was beyond him.
Ford regarded them closely. "Who gives them to you?"
"Why, the chancellor, of course."
"Of course," John and Ford said in chorus.
John smiled at their hosts. "You've been more than helpful. Thank you so much."
Inara smiled happily. "Oh, it was our pleasure. Please, don't hesitate to come by again."
He looked at Ford as he stood, nodding his head towards the door. Ford nodded and said his goodbyes, smiling all along.
John made a mental note to let Ford do more of the talking in the future, as he'd so far made less enemies than John had.
Stepping outside the house, John looked around before turning to Ford. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. We'll report back to Atlantis, make sure they know what we're up to, and then go have a little chat with the chancellor."
Ford frowned. "You sure it's wise to just go the two of us?"
John sighed. "I know, but we can't exactly bust into the place with guns blazing. We need info, and unless you have another suggestion..."
Ford nodded reluctantly. "No, sir. I guess they didn't exactly hurt the two of you."
John blinked slowly, as the world started slowly swaying. "Lieutenant, that all...depends on...your definition of pain."
Ford frowned again, and wow, two Fords. "Sir, are you alright?"
"No," John said before he started falling.
John stared at Dr Beckett in disbelief. "You have got to be kidding me."
He was in a bed in the Atlantis infirmary, thankfully sitting, but still in a bed (he really didn't like the place, although the nurses were certainly a redeeming quality).
Dr Beckett made an apologetic face. "It's just a theory, at this point. I don't even know how the drugs got into your system, but the molecular structure is identical. It would seem as though you can't be away from Rodney too long."
"But if I've got the same drugs in my system, why aren't I doing the puppy dog act with Rodney?"
"I'm not sure. Either the drug level in your blood is too low, or the bracelet does more than just distribute drugs." Dr Beckett gestured in an apologetic 'I don't know' way. "At this point, it's all speculations, I'm afraid."
John sighed. "I need to talk to Dr Weir."
"She's already been to visit you, while you were still under," Beckett informed him as he jotted down some notes on a chart. "She said to tell you that she was sending Teyla and Ford to talk to the chancellor."
John narrowed his eyes. "Do I have to stay here? I mean, you know what's wrong with me."
"As the only way I could get Rodney to give me five minutes with you was to promise that he'd get to take care of you, you're free to go." This time Dr Beckett didn't look very apologetic.
Rodney sighed. "Don't you get tired of saying that?"
"What's the harm?"
"No harm. I just don't want you to."
Rodney's eyebrows rose. "You walk around in those torture devices known as military standard boots, and you don't *want* a foot rub?"
It'd sound silly if you hadn't actually worn the boots, but unfortunately, McKay had. There was nothing wrong with the boots, really, they'd last you a lifetime if you treated them well. The problem was that in order for them to last that long, they had to be pretty sturdy. Which meant that before they'd been broken in, it was like walking in shoes made out of rock. And they'd all gotten brand new equipment going to Atlantis.
Taking that into account, it did sound pretty insane declining to a foot rub.
"No, I don't want a foot rub," John said, sounding unconvinced even to his own ears.
Rodney rolled his eyes, and hey! When did he stop acting like the ground John walked on was worth worship?
Eyes narrowed, John studied Rodney as the annoying man in question casually made his way across the room, which he'd refused to leave ever since John came out of the infirmary. He walked up to John's bed, studying his fingernails in a bored fashion and-
"Hey!" John exclaimed in outrage, "give me back my sock!"
Rodney smiled smugly and dangled the sock just out of John's reach, not looking casual or bored anymore. "What, this sock?"
John lunged for it and Rodney neatly sidestepped him. "McKay, give it to me."
McKay smirked. "I thought you didn't want it."
John pointed a warning finger at him. "Do not make me hurt you."
He sniggered. He actually sniggered. "Oh, no, please don't, you're so scary in your hospital gown."
"Aren't you supposed to be adoring me?" It sounded so much worse coming from his mouth than it had in his head.
Fortunately, McKay took it the right way. "I just came to my senses," he stated and pulled John's other sock off before John had a chance to protect his defenseless feet.
"Does that mean you're not trying to get into my pants anymore?" he asked warily.
McKay snorted. "Do I look like I'm stupid?"
John frowned. "So why are some of the effects gone while others remain?"
"Will you still do something if I ask you to?"
Rodney brightened. "Sure!"
John leaned back on the ridiculous mountain of pillows (which wasn't entirely uncomfortable) that Rodney had brought from all around the base and crossed his now-bare ankles. "Theorize why your behavior has changed."
Rodney sighed. "You are so boring, you know that? Fine. It's probably because you don't have a bracelet. Your bracelet would logically encourage you to please me, but as you *aren't*," he glared at John at that final word, "mine is adapting in order to suit my needs."
John straightened up. "So you *are* aware that the bracelet is affecting you."
Rodney raised his eyebrows. "Hello? Alien influence? I. Don't. Care."
John sighed, but he couldn't help but feel a bit relieved. Adoring McKay was just too creepy for words; at least he could snap at McKay now without feeling like he'd kicked a puppy.
"Just a foot rub," Rodney prodded, "then I'll back off."
John studied him for several long moments before nodding. "Okay. But just a foot rub."
Rodney smiled beatifically and before John knew it, his foot was in Rodney's lap and a thumb pressed into his arch and it felt-
"Ugnh," John said and closed his eyes in pleasure.
"Told you so," Rodney said smugly.
John sighed happily. "Where'd you learn to give foot rubs?"
"My sister used to demand them in exchange for her getting me free piano lessons in high school." Rodney sounded perfectly content to be massaging John's feet and revealing personal things. "She was dating the teacher."
John was shivering at this point; he was slightly ticklish and even though Rodney's hands were moving firmly against the soles of his feet, he couldn't help but shiver automatically.
He was also getting hard, a fact he wrote off as being perfectly natural at the same time as he hoped to god that Rodney wouldn't notice.
Then again, since the whole thing had started, had anything really gone John's way?
All of a sudden Rodney's hand, previously occupied with John's left foot, was suddenly *way* higher up and John was moaning for an entirely different reason and DAMN IT, where was his goddamn self-control? He was acting like he hadn't gotten laid in months (which he, point of fact, had).
Rodney was nuzzling his chest, and John tried to will some blood into his head in order to actually *think*. "Rodney..."
"Mmm..." Rodney rubbed his face like a cat against John's chest and John's pants were suddenly even tighter than before.
"Rooooodney..." He had to stop this. Had to. Right now. Well, maybe not right now. In a moment or two, may- NO! He was a grown man, capable of self-contro-
Rodney bit him lightly in the neck and John lost his train of thought.
It was only as he forced his eyes - that kept drifting shut in pleasure - open and saw Rodney's face come closer to his that reality finally managed to kick him in the head. "Rodney, we can't." He managed to lift his arms and grab a hold of Rodney's shoulders, keeping him at an arms length. "If we...um...exchange bodily fluids, I'll get more of the drug in my system. That would be bad." Wow. He wondered if, and if so, how many brain cells actually died when one got horny.
Rodney smiled that smile again, the one John had seen in the small grey room where this all started. "You'd be amazed what I can do without exchanging bodily fluids."
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