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Another Backwards Culture

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"You're what?" Woolsey demanded, looking horrified, but John suspected he was secretly amused and just too professional to let it show. He didn't know how their new commander all that well, but he knew if it had been Elizabeth or Carter in charge for it, they'd be laughing their asses off.

"Married." John confirmed, feeling as horrified as Woolsey looked.

"And how, if I may ask, did that happen?"

"It's a long, stupid story about M8G-239's backwards, not to mention stupid, customs." Rodney sniped out before John could speak. "One I don't really have time to tell, because I have to get down to the lab and see how much damage was done in my absence. It will all be in my mission report." Woolsey's eyes widened, obviously thinking something John was not going to picture. "If you'll excuse me?" Rodney didn't wait for an answer, just spun around marched out. John turned to follow.

"Colonel Sheppard," Woolsey said, "I would like an explanation now, if that's all right with you." John sighed, slouched, and dropped himself into the couch without ceremony. "Thank you." John nodded mutely. "The explanation now, please?" His boss didn't sit, just stayed where he was and crossed his arms.

"It is a long story."

"When two men on the frontline team return from a mission and tell me they just happen to be married to each other, I can make the time."

"Yes, sir." He said in resignation. "The first team to go there was Colonel Burns', and you know how they are. Not exactly, uh, more than amicable toward each other. Not to mention Cadman's military, so she was dressed like one of the guys."

"What on Earth does that have to do with the… current situation?" Woolsey sounded annoyed.

"We did say it was a long story. Do you want to wait for the mission report?" He asked hopefully. "’Cause I can-"

"Just keep going."

John slouched further. "There was a reception waiting for us at the 'gate, headed by the leader's oldest son. Before we even finished introducing ourselves, he propositioned Teyla, very loudly and really crudely. Teyla, being Teyla, just shrugged his hand off her shoulder and said she 'was not there to seek a mate'. The guy shut down so we assumed he got the message, but on the walk to their camp, he groped her and said 'he wouldn't be denied'. The, he grabbed her arm and tried to make her go with him. Needless to say, when he tried that Ronan, McKay and I had our guns on him. The jackass finally backed off, and after that the rest of the evening went as expected. But someone else from the greeting party obviously told the Chief what happened, because the next morning over breakfast, after McKay made me check everything for citrus, he asked us which one of us was mated to Teyla. Because, apparently in their culture, it's unseemly to be that protective over someone other than family or a spouse."

"Why wasn't that in the first’s report?" Woolsey interrupted.

John shrugged lazily. "Dunno. Probably because it was Cadman's that went. They'll defend each other in a firefight, but if that guy had grabbed Cadman, they would've waited to see if she couldn't handle it on her own first." He rubbed the back of his neck, then miserably added, "And can you see any of them taste-testing for another one?" fully aware of just how ludicrous it all was.

Woolsey sighed. "No."

"Yeah." He drawled, than smirked, "So anyways, right after he asked and before even Teyla could come up with an answer, the Chief apologised and said he knew it couldn't be Ronan, because he was clearly a eunuch." John snickered, remembering his team's reaction to that.

"What?" Woolsey asked, bewildered. "Why would they assume-"

"In their culture, the strongest boys are 'honoured' by becoming the village protectors, and that job requires absolute dedication and no distractions."

"Oh."

"Yeah." He shuttered. "Some 'honour'. Anyways, that left either Dr. McKay or I as her partner. Teyla told them about Kanaan, and as soon as the Chief got what she was saying, he jumped up and started screaming, accused us of obscene displays of affection and yelling about how that offence has the sentence of a lifetime of hard labour in one of their mines. He ordered the guard to arrest us, so Ronan and I pulled our weapons. It's a clear stand off, but Teyla just holds up her hand and calmly starts talking like three of the village goons don't have arrows trained on her, and explains the Athosians had, in a way, 'adopted' our expedition, and that she personally considers the three of us brothers. It worked, thank God for Teyla's diplomatic style, and we were told to sit back down." John took a deep breath. "Then he asked us about why I was testing McKay's food, so I explained it, very generally, but even that was a bad idea, because he got suspicious and asked if we also thought of each other as brothers, to which McKay felt compelled to answer by announcing that if I were his brother, he would have to shoot himself."

Woolsey grimaced. "Tell me you're not serious." he groaned.

"God, I wish I were. Right away the Chief perks up, going from suspicious to ecstatic. He actually clapped his hands before saying what a 'perfect pair' we made. Rodney, completely offended by the idea and because he's absolute idiot, stuttered and yelled that he wasn't married to me. Before he could really get going, I ordered him to sit down and shut up, and, believe it or not, he actually did. After that though, it had to have been damn obvious I had no idea how to diffuse the situation again, so Teyla stood up and lied to her teeth." John shifted, not really wanting to go into the details.

Woolsey didn't seem to care. "What did she say, exactly?"

"Umm..." John winced. "She told him that, ah, McKay and I were, uh, 'bonded by love' and we share a 'connection of the soul'." He felt himself made a face. "She said the only reason we aren't married is because of Earth's laws regarding same-sex, uh, 'unions'."

"That doesn't explain how you ended up being married now." Woolsey sounded really annoyed, but by what part, John couldn't guess. Maybe all of it, and honestly, John was right there with him.

"Turns out, the chief is a diehard romantic and right there, he announced that if we couldn't get married on our planet, we would have to do it there, that evening."

"And you agreed?" His boss gaped at him, "Why?"

"It was either that or my entire team would get to spend the rest of our lives in a labour camp because McKay doesn't know when to shut the hell up. Although, by the end of the day, after listening to McKay insult me and bitch about 'backwoods, moronic, cultural stupidity', I was reconsidering it. The ceremony was simple, thank God; the village elder read some standard thing about 'shared love', they tied my wrist to his, and locked us into a cab in for the night, to-"

"That's more than enough, Colonel." Woolsey cut him off, looking desperate.

John smirked. "-To prove our 'connection' was more than physical attraction. We were supposed to spend the night alone but not 'physically express our desires'. They had to have been monitoring us in some way, but it's not like we had trouble keeping our hands to ourselves." He snickered. Woolsey looked relieved. "What, you actually thought I had sex with McKay?"

"Well, I have read both your files, Colonel Sheppard." He defended, but was flushed, hopefully in embarrassment. "And you know as well as I that you have a particular flag on there."

"Yeah, but," John shuddered again, "it's McKay."

Woolsey smiled a little. "I see your point. So I can assume you want it annulled, per SGC procedure?"

Now John gaped. "There's a procedure for this?"

"Hmm, yes. It seems that than semi-frequently on Earth teams." He clasped his hands behind his back. "There's a standard form I need to fill out and get both you and Dr. McKay to sign. Thank you for your report, Colonel. You're dismissed."

"Thank you, sir." John responded, automatically.

Quickly he left and made his way back to his quarters. Halfway, he's stopped in the middle of the hall and groaned. He still had to come up with a way to tell Cam. That was going to be fun conversation.