It was just another terrifying day in the Pegasus galaxy as far as John was concerned. Just another world that was listed in the Ancient database with a science laboratory that Rodney insisted they needed to investigate. He should have known better by now but the lure of new technology was simply too strong for Rodney to resist even after all that had happened to them over the years. John had side-eyed him when he insisted on taking the Puddlejumper but according to the database the laboratory wasn't on the planet but on the smaller of the two moons orbiting it. Plus Rodney wanted to take a Mark IV generator with him in case the installation's power had depleted over the last ten thousand years.
"Do we need hazmat suits?" John asked, admittedly a little late as they were already through the Stargate and heading towards the planet's smaller moon.
Rodney leveled a stare at him that some might label contempt but John had learned to either shrug it off or level his own version of a death stare back at Rodney. Jennifer hadn't been able to handle this side of Rodney, eventually leading them to part ways but John had never had a problem with Rodney's attitude. It was her loss and his gain, once he finally took his courage in his hands and told Rodney how he felt about him. Rodney had been surprised for about two seconds, and then his eyes had lit up as if he'd just had a Eureka moment. Neither of them had looked back.
"No. It should be perfectly safe."
Famous last words, John thought as they approached the moon and a wave of some kind of energy field passed over them.
They awoke some time later, and John panicked for a moment when he realized he was covered in some kind of rock cocoon. He felt it crack, and then it crumbled away, disintegrating, leaving them confused but whole. The Puddlejumper was drifting in orbit around the moon, and once again John was grateful to the Ancients for some of their automatic safety systems preventing them from being pulled in by the moon's gravity and crashing on the surface while they were all unconscious. He regained control.
Teyla nodded though John could see a tightness around her eyes that probably mirrored his expression. He had a terrible headache but he could already feel it easing.
Ronon was rubbing his head and grunted out, "I'm good. What happened?"
John glanced across at Rodney, seeing him totally absorbed in his datapad.
"Rodney?" he asked, stretching out the name just to annoy him.
"Yes, yes. I'm on it, Sheppard."
"It was some kind of cosmic radiation. I detected gamma radiation and... Oh, this is amazing. The combination should have killed us but the skin of the Puddlejumper must have diffused the worst of it but still..." He paused, looking back at John with an anxious, worried expression. "Maybe we should go see Carson?"
"Yeah." John replied and turned the Puddlejumper around, heading back to the Stargate, and Atlantis.
Later in the infirmary Carson frowned as he looked at the readings on the Ancient scanner and John wasn't certain if that was a good sign or a bad one.
"I won't keep you in here for observation but I want you to stay in the city for the next few days."
John took that as a good sign, and though Rodney grumbled about the science laboratory he could hear relief in his tone. Teyla went off to check on Torren and Kanaan while Ronon rumbled something about meeting Amelia, leaving just Rodney.
"Meatloaf night," he shrugged, and all worries seemed to fade from Rodney's face as it lit up.
He grinned as Rodney rushed out of the infirmary like a man on a mission, and John sauntered after him.
The first sign of something wrong came hours later as they lay in bed together. He felt hot, kicking off his side of the blankets. John moaned when he realized he'd left his tumbler of water on the dresser closer to Rodney.
He could almost hear the eye-roll. "No. I always sleep with my eyes wide open."
"Can you reach my water?"
Rodney huffed out a sigh of exasperation and reached across without moving. It should have been just too far away but his arm stretched until his fingers wrapped around the glass and brought it to John.
"What the...?" He blurted out. "Rodney?"
Rodney blinked in confusion, unaware of what he'd done. He turned and leaned up on one elbow to face John, reaching out to touch only to pull back with a yelp.
"You're hot! And I don't mean in the good way, except, yes you're hot in that way too but... you're hot," he babbled, sitting upright.
John could feel it now, the heat building inside him. He needed to get out of the stuffy room and before he knew it he was standing on their balcony, flames licking at his fingertips, slowly consuming him. He fell, seeing Rodney's arms stretch impossibly thin to try and catch him but instead of falling to his death he soared upwards, body on fire literally like a human torch. He was flying, soaring among the spires and towers. He flew back towards their room to find Carson standing on the balcony beside Rodney, both of them wringing their hands except Rodney's were getting knotted up. John hovered mid-air, feeling a coldness sweep over him as the fire burned out. Too late he realized he could no longer fly and he started to fall only to be caught by Rodney, elastic arms wrapping around him and pulling him back to the balcony, to safety.
"Cool?" Rodney cried in disbelief. "You nearly fell hundreds of feet to your death."
"Maybe not that part," John winced.
When they reached the infirmary Ronon and Teyla were already there looking anxious. As he watched Teyla slowly faded, becoming once translucent before disappearing altogether as she bent light around her. In contrast Ronon became more solid, skin scaling as if made of stone.
Over the next few weeks the powers grew stronger, each of them learning how to use their gifts and transform at will. They gave themselves names for their alter-egos: Fireball and Dr. Elastic, Stone and Mirage.
They became the most formidable off-world team in the universe.