1) The Planet with Rodents of Unusual Size
When they come through the gate there's a metal cylinder beside it; like an umbrella stand, but it's full of--spears.
"Okaaay," John says. "Apparently the natives think everyone coming through the gate should be armed immediately, which--"
"Does not bode well," Rodney says, and starts the redial, but then, right on cue, there are noises in the bushes.
By the time John's gotten his blaster up, Ronon and Teyla have already speared the two creatures. The two really big, really toothy, attacking creatures. And you would expect a lot of viscera in rats that size, but they both have even more than you would expect---more, really, than you'd think could possibly fit. They are giant rat tardises of viscera.
"Wow," John says, when that has finally stopped happening.
"Lotta meat there," Ronon says, and he's got to be joking, but Teyla answers, thoughtfully, "Would it not be too stringy?"
"Not if you cook it long enough," Ronon says.
"NO," John says. "Just, NO."
For the next few days, when Rodney sits next to him in the cafeteria, John notices that they've both picked the vegetarian option.
2) The Planet of Male Chauvinists
They leave Teyla behind for this one, because Ronon knows the planet and says it would actually insult the male elders to have her present at the greeting. John is less than pleased about it, but Elizabeth seems to think they'd be good trading partners for basic foodstuffs.
So it's just the three of them, and as they near the temple gate three beaming elders come out to meet them. They get closer and closer and...just keep getting closer, and when they're about two feet away John thinks, oh great, one of those societies with no personal space. He braces himself for a big manly hug or maybe one of those double-cheek European kisses. And the guy approaching him walks right on up and sticks one hand in John's hair, grabs on tight, and the other hand--the other hand cups John's balls.
John automatically goes into "stoneface until I figure out what's going on," an expression that comes in handy a whole lot in this galaxy, and peripheral-glances left at Rodney, who also has an elder attached.
Rodney has not gotten in touch with his inner stoic. Rodney probably doesn't have one. He's managed to freeze, at least, not pulling away and probably insulting the elder, but his face is red and getting redder, and he's blinking maniacally and starting to splutter. Shit.
John glances rightward at Ronon.
Ronon is being groped the same way. And Ronon has one hand in the elder's hair, and one hand on the elder's crotch, and he's grinning at John.
John reciprocates with his guy, and apparently the pants are pretty thick on this planet so that all feels a little--vague, thank God; it's actually more disturbing trying to guess how many months it's been since the guy washed his hair.
"Rodney," he stage-whispers. "Get with the program."
Rodney stops spluttering, looks over at John and his attached elder, winces; then gingerly, slowly, does the same with his own groper.
As soon as everybody's copped a good feel the elders step back and one says, "Welcome, brothers! Follow us to the Feast of Greeting!" and they start walking back toward the temple.
John just breathes deeply for a moment, and okay, that makes a certain amount of sense; like shaking hands to show you're not armed. Probably sends the symbolic message of "I'm sure not gonna hurt you--your hand is on my testicles!" But.
He glares at Ronon and says, "WHY didn't you tell us?"
"You knew about that?" Rodney squeaks. "Why--"
"My tiny barbarian brain didn't remember to," Ronon says.
"Jesus, I'm sorry I called you Conan! But, maybe an overreaction!?!" Rodney yells, and then they have to sprint to catch up with the elders, and the rest of the visit is pretty nondescript.
When they're almost back to the gate, though, John yanks on Ronon's coat, lets Rodney get a little ahead of them, says, "Seriously. If you ever do that again I will be pissed."
"Sorry," Ronon says, and then smiles bigger than John's ever seen. "But did you see McKay's face?" And yeah, John has to admit that was almost worth it.
3) The Planet Where Rodney is Allergic to the Air
Of course they sent through a MALP first. It reported that the air quality was excellent, but apparently there's some spore or pollen it's not calibrated for. Because when they step through the gate Rodney says, "Oh, great, what do you want to bet the nearest village is on top of that cliff, that is exactly what is missing in my life right now, I am not getting enough rock-climbing, and oh. Oh. Oh fuck. " And by the time he hits the "fuck" his voice has climbed two octaves, which John figures has got to be from his throat closing up, because right after he says that, Rodney's down and John can see the hives climbing up his neck.
John and Ronon and Teyla are all yanking out epi-pens, they're a synchronized epi-pen team, but John gets there first, jabbing Rodney's thigh with it and hitting the plunger. Then he's scooping Rodney up in a fireman's carry and running for the gate, just flat-out, and hearing Ronon or Teyla dialing it behind him, and Rodney's weight shifts and John almost drops him, doesn't, and something in John's back is screaming but he hasn't got time for that right now.
They land back in Atlantis, John's still running and starts yelling for Carson, because they've all had the Anaphylaxis Lecture, the faster it hits the worse it is, and this fucker hit fast.
He's running and running and other people keep trying to grab Rodney off him, and no, and then they're in the infirmary and someone's trying again and John actually growls before he realizes, oh, a medic trying to grab him, that's good, and Carson's clutching his shoulder and saying "JohnJohnJohnJohn let go," so he lets go.
That all seems kind of weird, afterward. But he figures he hasn't gotten any downtime lately. He's a little stressed.
4) The Planet of the Gladiators
"Look, I'm sure we didn't agree to this," John says, as the captain of the guard slams the door of the very nicely furnished prison cell. "I am so sorry, Colonel, I did not know any of the tribes of the planet still retained the ancient customs," Teyla whispers.
The captain looks through the barred window, smiles politely. "While it is a highly sacred ritual, it is, these days, a formality. Your warrior and ours will engage in unarmed combat for only one daysliver, and then we may all negotiate a trade agreement as equals."
John glances at Teyla. "I believe that is approximately three minutes," she says.
"Relax," Rodney says, "no one's getting near Ronon in three minutes if he doesn't want them to," and he pats John's shoulder a little, which is strange but nice.
"The combatants are told that it's not intended to be a fight to the death, that all they must do is last through the short time. The worst injuries in living memory have been broken noses and chipped teeth," the captain says cheerfully. And they all do actually start to relax a little, until he adds, "In fact, in recent years the battles have seemed so--perfunctory that we have taken to giving the combatants a bit of gardge in their tea beforehand, just to get a few good hits out of them and make it a little more entertaining for the spectators of the ritual," and Teyla groans. John didn't know she could groan.
"What?" he says.
"It's an--aggression-enhancing drug."
"Oh. Oh," John says. "Captain. Sir. What, uh, what happens if our guy actually…kills your guy?"
"That," the captain says, "would be very bad for you. I go to watch the combat now, and I shall be very, very unhappy if there is a fatality."
They hear his bootheels echoing down the hall, and then stare at each other in mute panic for a moment, until John manages, "So--with an aggression drug--d'you think Ronon would kill a man in three minutes? Even if he knew he didn't have to?"
"Oh God yes," Rodney says, and Teyla adds glumly, "With an aggression drug, I am fairly certain that Ronon would eat a man in three minutes."
"We're screwed," John says.
"We're so screwed," Rodney says.
"I must agree that we are screwed," Teyla says.
They sit silent and listen to the roar of the crowd for a few minutes, and then there are many bootheels coming down the hall and the door opens.
The captain of the guard half-throws Ronon into the room, and John counts the men with him and decides there's no breaking out; once they all get their death sentence he's going to have to do some fast talking to convince them to negotiate with Elizabeth for release instead.
But Ronon...Ronon is giggling.
"That man," says the captain, and he's furious, red-faced with rage. "That man is a glisstila, he has made a mockery of our most sacred customs."
"Did he kill--"
"He did not. He did not even fight. He lay down in the middle of the ring of combat, and when our warrior leapt upon him he--he hugged our warrior and said that they were brothers and should not argue. Take him, leave our world and never return."
John and Rodney each get one of Ronon's arms across a shoulder and they haul him out of there as fast as possible, Teyla on their six in case the guards decide they want to keep them there after all. Ronon's mostly limp, and he keeps giggling and saying, "You three. You three are my best friends."
"What the hell?" John says.
"Atypical reaction," Rodney says. "Happens sometimes, you get exactly the opposite of the intended effect."
"What, you're dabbling in medicine now?" John says. "I thought that was a soft science."
"I like science!" Ronon says. "Science is soft."
"Oh, God, shut up," Rodney says. "Carson gave me something to help me sleep once and I bounced off the walls for three days instead, and got to hear a very long and boring explanation of why."
"Here we are, Teyla, dial, quick," John says.
"The ring of the ancestors is shiny," Ronon says, and gives John and Rodney affectionate noogies.
They debrief Elizabeth in the infirmary, because Carson's taking blood samples to figure out exactly what is in gardge and should they try to counteract it or just let it wear off. And even as John's telling the story of Ronon lying down in the gladiatorial ring and infuriating the spectators it sounds somehow familiar, but he can't think why. "What's a glisstilla, anyway?"
"It is a, ah, a small and delicate flower," Teyla says.
John doesn't even have time to process the fact that someone called Ronon a pansy, because Ronon beams at Teyla, says, "Flowers smell good. I want some in my hair," and suddenly the déjà vu clicks into place, John gets it. And he has to spend the rest of the debriefing holding back the laugh, because he wants to save the joke for Rodney.
When they all leave Ronon with Carson, as soon as they get out the infirmary door John grabs Rodney's sleeve and hauls him down the hall in the opposite direction from Elizabeth and Teyla. Elizabeth gives him a strange look but that's okay, because as soon as they get around a corner John can't keep the laugh down anymore and chokes out, "Ferdinand the Bull."
Rodney blinks at him for a second and then loses it, laughs until he slides down the corridor wall to sit on the floor, almost crying and gasping, "Oh, God, he wanted to sit just quietly and smell the flowers!" And John has his second mental click of the day, but this one is a lot bigger. Because it's so good to see Rodney relaxed and laughing for once, it's really, really good, it makes John happy, and he suddenly gets why he wanted to save the joke up for Rodney.
That's big. John is going to need some time to think about that.
5) The Planet with the Virginia Reel
He doesn't get it, of course. The Pegasus galaxy provides a lot of things, but time to think is not one of them.
It's only a couple days before they are on yet another new planet. And really, there's nothing wrong with this one, it's just boring; they can certainly send a junior team if they need to make contact again. The natives have a fairly prosperous farming community, don't particularly seem to want anything from Atlantis, don't really have anything Atlantis would want. Even their fabrics are dull; the people all wear something like kilts, with a plaid that combines brown, lighter brown and...slightly lighter brown. Rodney leans close to John and whispers, "Oh, look, it's the official tartan of the Clan of Mud," and John chokes down a laugh and tries to hide the shiver from Rodney breathing in his ear. Which he apparently doesn't manage, because Rodney gives him a very strange look, but then the chieftain comes up to them and she starts talking about the Ritual of Friendship.
"I'm afraid that we have to see the whole of a ritual performed by your people before we agree to participate in it," John says, very politely. "All of it. The whole thing," because--groping, and gladiators, and he is never getting over that one planet where they seriously thought he had agreed to eat Teyla's liver.
"Well--of course, we'll dance through one song," the chief says, looking a bit bewildered, but she claps her hands and the villagers form into lines in the square, and a man starts playing something like a fiddle.
The four of them watch the dance for a few minutes and nothing horrible happens; people seem to be paired up randomly, regardless of gender, moving down a line in pairs and dancing down the middle when they get to one end of it. It's very simple, very like the folk-dancing they did in John's seventh-grade gym class when it rained too hard to play baseball.
"We can do this, no problem," John says, and then it's the end of the song, and all the pairs take two steps closer to one another, clap their hands three times and kiss.
"Oh," Rodney says, and he and John both look around but Ronon has already grabbed Teyla's hand and gives them a triumphant smile as he pulls her toward the dancers. Teyla just looks amused.
When the music starts back up John concentrates on following what the other dancers are doing and not looking Rodney in the eye, and it goes fine; step, clap, shuffle, link arms, spin, repeat, and then the music stops.
He gives Rodney a rueful "the things we gotta do, huh?" smile, steps and claps and leans in. And he means to just give him the barest peck, nothing but show, but when their lips touch he thinks, I'm lying to him, I've been lying to him for so long without even knowing I was, and I can't do it anymore.
He runs his tonguetip across Rodney's lips. Rodney gasps and his mouth opens. And then the next song starts and they're moving again, but now they're looking at each other; Rodney's eyes are wide and he's blushing but...smiling a little, and John steps and claps and shuffles, and waits for the music to bring them together again.