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The Pegasus Phenomenon

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On Monday, Radek tried to kill him.

That wasn’t even the weirdest thing that had happened this week.

Rodney was perplexed when he had arrived back at the lab after his lunch break to find Miko and Radek arm wrestling. The other scientists were looking on, some with interest, others with apprehension.

“Uh, Radek, what the hell are you doing?”

“We are having an arm wrestle, Rodney. I would have thought that was very obvious.”

“Yes I can see that. But, unless I’ve fallen into an alternate universe, you’re supposed to be running a diagnostic on that new piece of Ancient tech we discovered yesterday. Not arm wrestling with Miko of all people.”

“I will run diagnostic as soon as I am done here.”

“But-”

“Shut up Rodney.”

Rodney gaped at Radek’s impoliteness. Such conduct was completely out of character for his fellow scientist. Before Rodney had any time to even call him out on it, Miko’s arm forced Radek’s wrist down onto the table with a fierce push. She jumped up, rejoicing.

“I win Bitch!”

If Rodney had been put off by Radek’s behavior, he was absolutely appalled by Miko’s.

“Dr. Kusanagi, what-”

“You. This is your fault.” Radek was looking at Rodney with pure rage.

“Aww don’t blame Dr. McKay. It isn’t your fault you’re a sore loser!” Miko cried.

“Miko what-”

“No it’s his fault! He distracted me!”

“I hardly see how it’s my fault you lost. Now if you two would like to explain to me why you’re behaving like this-” Rodney cut off as something hard hit his nose, knocking him off balance. Radek had punched him.

“Oh my god, you just punched me!”

“I’ll kill you!”

Rodney rushed to move out of Radek’s way as he took another swing at the astrophysicist’s face. “Radek, I don’t know what’s going on, but you need to calm down! You’re not yourself-”

“Shut up.”

Chills ran up Rodney’s spine. He’d heard that tone of voice before, but never from Radek. He’d heard it from Wraith, Genii, Replicators, but never Radek. Never his friend. Suddenly Radek grabbed on of the tools sitting on the work bench next to him, and ran towards him. Rodney yelped and ran behind a table, pausing for only a moment to watch in horror as Radek lunged across the table at him. He quickly moved back and turned into the corridor, feet slipping on the polished floor, hands pushing him back up to keep running as he frantically tapped his earpiece.

“McKay to security! Radek’s gone insane and is literally trying to kill me with a wrench!”

As he dashed down the hall, turning the corner he heard Bates’s voice. “He finally snapped huh? Honestly I’m surprised he put up with you this long.”

“Hardy har Sergeant. I’m not kidding-” he cut himself off as the fl oor abruptly ended and became a flight of stairs. Unfortunately, Rodney’s feet hadn’t gotten the message in time.

As he fell, he could hear Bates shouting in his ear, and what sounded like John, Elizabeth, and, maybe Carson? And who was that screaming? Oh. Oh . That was him screaming. There was the thudding of several footsteps drawing closer, and wow, the floor was cold, and hard, and where is Radek? Where did he go? Oh, there he is, coming right at him with the wrench.

Rodney jumped up from where he was crumpled at the base of the stairs and began to run again. He didn’t get very far before Radek caught up with him, grabbing his shoulder and swinging the wrench into his back.

“Zelenka! Stand down!” Sheppard, Bates, and team of marines stood over the two scientists with their weapons drawn. Instead of stopping his assault of his colleague, Zelenka responded to the order to stand down by swinging the wrench at Bates’s face. Fortunately for the sergeant, he caught it and twisted it out of Zelenka’s hand. He and a marine then grabbed Zelenka and wrestled him to the ground. Sheppard came over to assist Rodney in standing up. “You okay buddy?”

“Oh I don’t know. I’m probably dying from internal bleeding or some sort of hemorrhage from falling down the stairs. And I’m positive my shoulder broke when Radek tried to beat me to death with a blunt force object. And I have no idea why the hell my friend would suddenly go postal and decide to take his homicidal urges out on me, but I’m sure there is some perfectly logical explanation such as mind control, alien possession, or possibly a sudden case schizophrenia. But don’t worry I’m sure I’m absolutely A-Okay.”

“Well that’s good to hear. I still think it might be best to get both of you to the infirmary.”

“Gee, good thinking Colonel. Where would Atlantis be without you?”


As it turned out, apart from some minor bruises, McKay was fine. Zelenka, on the other hand, was not.

“I’ve run all the tests I can think of. There is no conclusive reason as to why Radek would be behavin’ in such a way as this.” Carson’s scottish brogue cut through the minor argument Rodney and John were having in the infirmary, as to whether or not Zelenka could’ve been replaced by a murderous reptile person.

“I’ve run several scans, blood tests, and urine samples. There are no signs of drugs, chemical imbalances, tumors, or even anemia.”

“You thought he attacked me because he was anemic?”

“No Rodney. The point is there is no medical reason as to why he is actin’ this way.”

“What about psychological?” Elizabeth inquired.

“Well, Kate’s still talking to him now, but so far she’s ruled out blocked memories, trauma, and hypnosis.”

“Hypnosis? You can really hypnotize people into killing someone? Cool.” Sheppard mused. Rodney gave him a disgusted look.

“Anyway, the most likely suspect right now is that for whatever reason, Radek’s mental state has been altered in someway, and drastically. We aren’t sure what’s caused it, just that it seems to be affectin’ others in the city as well. I don’t think Miko is typically one to run around yellin’ profanities like a sorority girl, but apparently that’s all she’s been doing this morning. And we’ve been getting complaints of Dr. Kavanaugh bein’ polite.”

“Polite?”

“Yes, he’s been pullin’ out chairs for people, sayin’ hello and thank you. He even smiled at someone.”

“God, that’s terrifying.” Rodney cringed.

“Exactly. Whatever’s been affectin’ Radek is spreading.”

Elizabeth crossed her arms. “Well then we need to stop gate activity until we figure out what’s causing this behavior. I’ll make a city wide announcement, and John I think you should check up on your people, see if anyone is acting oddly. We need to make sure this isn’t a new tactic to catch us off guard and take over the city.”

“Aye, and I’d like to do a medical exam of all personnel to make sure there isn’t some cause my scans are missing.”

“I wish I could say I’ll get the scientists working on figuring out why this is happening,” Rodney interjected. “But unfortunately it seems like all the Dr. Jekyll’s have left the building. My best people are already being affected by this thing, and I can’t have Radek working on a project with me if he’s prone to hulk out at any moment.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Just do your best Rodney. If anyone can figure out what’s going on it’s you. The expedition is in your hands.”

“I believe this is the part where I say ‘No pressure’ right?”


So far, Rodney wasn’t having any luck. He had gone over the activities of every scientist over the last week and none stood out to him as potential triggers for the odd behaviors of the expedition. On top of that, pretty much all the scientists had succumbed to the effects of whatever this thing was. Laura Cadman had been spotted brushing her hair and threatened anyone who tried to stop her with pain of death. Major Lorne had discovered Dr. Parrish in his quarters with all the lights out and the windows blackened, listening to Suicide Silence on full volume, and repeating some mantra about the establishment being a lie and how corporate commercialism controls our lives. Kate Heightmeyer had been confined to quarters after she kept insulting people and acting indifferent towards their problems, mainly Katie Brown, who had come to see her with a uncharacteristic urge to steal pretty much anything from everyone. Shortly after, Katie had tried to steal a few naquadah generators, so Sheppard deemed it best she be confined to quarters as well. Pretty much all the rest of the scientists had been discovered having a shooting contest on the west pier, organized and run by Miko. It had been difficult to break that up, but eventually the scientists had either been sent to their quarters or to the infirmary sporting some gun related injuries. Thankfully, none were too serious.

“Any luck Rodney?” John Sheppard drawled as he strolled into the room.

“Hello Colonel! Would you like a cup of coffee? A power bar? A back rub?” Kavanaugh inquired.

“Uh no thanks.”

Rodney groaned. “I would probably have more luck if I wasn’t stuck working with Howdy Doody over there. He’s useless on a good day, but now he’s downright intolerable!”

“Well at the moment the Doc doesn’t think this… situation is likely to be a fatal one. Just, odd. So how about you and I go and grab something to eat and we can take a break in my quarters? I have The Search for Spock.”

“Sure! Let me just shut down the equipment in here. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually glad I have so many incompetent morons working for me. At least I don’t have to close up the lab.”

“See? I told you they had to be useful for something.”

On Tuesday, Elizabeth was sad. And by sad, Rodney meant absolutely hysterical.

He had woken up in John’s quarters, as he often did after movie night. They had fallen asleep on John’s bed sometime between the third and fourth movie, and now Rodney’s back was killing him because John’s was much too soft, not like his own prescription one, but his sheets were nice and the bed was warmer when someone else was in it too. He slowly opened his eyes and suppressed a groan at the weight across his body, pinning him to the bed. A sleeping John was really just an octopus in disguise, and Rodney had fun from time to time teasing the Colonel about his need to cuddle. Not that he’d ever admit it, he kind of liked waking up next to John, and even enjoyed the cuddling occasionally. But that was not a thing you said to your straight manly best friend, no matter how much heteronormativity annoyed you. If you wanted to continue waking up being cuddled, you kept your mouth shut. This was something Rodney had learned in life, although unfortunately, it had not translated to any other relationships, so he still found himself insulting people until they hated him.  Oh well.

“John. I have to pee. Move.”

John groaned sleepily. “Ughh… sorry buddy.” The arm was removed from Rodney’s body and he got up to go relieve himself. When he returned, John was already dressed and talking on his comm.

“Major, calm down. Okay we’ll be right up. Oh and call Dr. Beckett and tell him to hurry.”

“What’s going on?”

“There’s a situation in the gate room. Elizabeth has been affected by whatever is making people act differently.”

“What’s she doing? Did she hurt anyone?”

“...No. But she’s freaking pretty much everyone out.”

“How?”

“She’s crying.”

“Oh my god, that is terrifying.”

When Rodney and John arrived in the gate room, they were even more shocked at the sight of their strong leader than when they’d heard the news ten minutes before. Elizabeth was sobbing, loudly and grossly, with snot and tears and spit, wailing about how no one loved her and she would die alone. She was draped over Major Lorne's arm, clutching it like it was the only thing keeping her alive. Dr. Beckett knelt on the ground next to her, a syringe in hand, and Rodney could see the gurney and team of nurses lurking in the background.

“Elizabeth, ya have to let me see you. I promise this will make ya feel better.”

“NO! I’ll never feel better! Not until I’m loved! And that will never happen! Never!”

“I know you feel like that right now love, but yer not yerself right now. Please let me help you.”

“No! No! I don’t want-” Carson suddenly snapped forward, jabbing Elizabeth in the arm and pressing the plunger into her skin. Within seconds, she had slumped against Lorne, who then helped the nurses put her on the gurney.

Rodney shook his head. This couldn’t go on.

“I’m going down to the lab to see if I can make any headway. We can’t let Elizabeth, or anyone else to continue on this way. It’s weird, and frankly terrifying and I’m sure they’re not too happy about it either.”

John nodded somberly. “Okay. I’ll see what I can do to make things run more smoothly up here, since Elizabeth is out of commission. Good luck Rodney.”

Rodney thought he was going to need it.


On Wednesday, Teyla danced the “Macarena”.

Well she had been dancing non-stop since whatever it was started happening, but it was on Wednesday that she discovered the popular Earth songs that were referred to as line dances. After twenty listens to the “Cha Cha Slide”, and twenty-two listens of “Y.M.C.A.”, she had decided that the “Macarena” was the best, and had begun to slowly make her way around the city inviting people to join her. Rodney had had to lock himself in the lab with Kavanaugh that day, to avoid the giant Conga line that had formed. Eventually, however, he’d had to send Kavanaugh away because “Can I help you? Are you sure? Are you positive?” started to get really annoying after three hours. On top of all this, he had still not made any headway with what exactly was causing the situation.

On Thursday, John had come to visit him, and asked him to babysit Ronon.

At this point, all those left unaffected had come to agree that it was getting really weird around Atlantis. Most of all the dangerous people had been locked up, and so what was left was various scientists and marines acting bizarre. Ronon, however, was by far the weirdest.

He was behaving like a child.

John had taken to bringing him along everywhere he went. As long as he gave Ronon crayons and paper to draw with or some other distracting activity, he was pretty much calm, but if he got bored, well then, it was best to duck and cover. Imagine a giant child over six feet tall throwing a temper tantrum. Chairs were thrown, mugs were shattered, and there were even a few laptop casualties. Unfortunately, Rodney had nothing for Ronon to do to keep him occupied, so he decided to improvise.

“Hey Ronon, do you wanna watch some movies?”

“Yeah!”

And they proceeded to watch all three “Back To The Future” movies. Rodney got no work done that day, because every time he tried to get up and go work while Ronon was engrossed in the movie, the large Satedan would start whining and grab his arm, and Rodney really didn’t want him destroying the lab in another tantrum.

On Friday, John did something… weird. So weird in fact, Rodney had to taser him in self defense.

They were sitting on Rodney’s bed, watching Battlestar Galactica. The popcorn had long been finished and Rodney was honestly beginning to doze off. He was tired from staying up the whole night before trying to figure out why everyone was acting strangely. So far, the only connection he and Carson had been able to come up with was that only people without the ATA gene were being affected. This was actually incredibly useful, as it meant that whatever was causing this phenomenon was geared towards anyone who was not an Ancient, meaning that it was being caused most likely by Atlantis herself, as some sort of defense mechanism. However, they had made no progress as to what part of Atlantis’s defenses were actually at fault. Rodney had gone nearly two days without sleep trying to figure it out when John had shown up and dragged him out of the lab to take break. Thus, ending up watching tv on John’s laptop in Rodney’s room.

“Hey buddy, you tired? We can turn this off and I can let you get some sleep.”

“No, no, I’m fine just resting my eyes.”

“Rodney, you’ve been up since Wednesday-”

“I’m fine John.”

There was no reply. Rodney cracked an eye open to find John staring at him with a thoughtful expression on his face. “What? Is there something on my face?”

“No, I um… just really like it when you call me ‘John’. Not Colonel or Sheppard, just John.”

“Well you’re welcome then. I guess.”

When John still hadn’t stopped staring at him, Rodney started to get a sinking feeling in his gut. “Why are you still staring at me?”

“You’re just so… cute.”

Now Rodney was wide awake. Did his straight-as-an-arrow, Kirk-like, platonic-best-friend John Sheppard just call him cute? Oh yeah, something was definitely up. What did you just say?”

“I said you’re cute.”

“Why?”

“Why are you cute?”

“No, why did you say that?”

“I dunno, because you are.”

“John, pay attention. I think you’re being affected by the- the thing that’s making everyone act weird.”

“But I have the ATA gene.”

“Then we were wrong. You’re being affected.”

“I really don’t think I am.”

“Yes you are! You have to be.”

“What do you mean I have to be?”

“Because, there’s no other explanation as to why anyone would find me cute!”

Rodney was hyperventilating now, panicked breathing filling the silence in the room. John was staring at him again, this time in shock. “You can’t really think that about yourself."

“I don’t think anything. It’s a proven fact. Now please let me call Carson so he can-”

“Rodney-”

There was a flurry of movement, and suddenly John was coming towards him, fast. In a panic, Rodney reached behind him for the concealed taser he’d been carrying since Radek had attacked him on Monday, and threw his arm out at John, pressing the trigger. He watched at John’s body convulsed with electricity, and then fell limp on his bedroom floor. Breathing a watery sigh, Rodney slid down the wall into a fetal position and tapped his radio.

“McKay to Carson.”

“What’s wrong Rodney?”

“I need a medical team to my quarters. John’s been affected.”

“We’ll be right there. What are his symptoms?”

“He’s unconscious, I had to tase him. He- he attacked me.”

“I’m on my way Rodney.”

Rodney nodded, even though he knew Carson couldn’t see him.  He didn’t take his eyes off John, for fear that at any moment he’d wake up, and Rodney didn’t know what he would do if he had to face an angry and confused John on his own. Hopefully, Carson would be there soon, and then he’d be safe.

Chapter Text

When Carson arrived, he didn’t really know what to expect. It certainly wasn’t this.

Rodney was curled into a ball against the wall, hand with the taser still outstretched, pointing at the Colonel, who was slumped over in the middle of the room, very unconscious. He had to admit, he did not like where this was going. Rodney looked positively traumatized, and hadn’t even seemed to notice when the medical team came into his room.

“Rodney?”

Rodney looked up, as if just realizing Carson was there. “Carson! You have to get him to the infirmary. He’s not himself and I didn’t know what to do so I tased him and he may have hit his head and-”

“Rodney, slow down lad, I’m sure the Colonel is fine. If he attacked you, then you were right to tase him. However, it is pretty curious that he started actin’ weird. We were so sure it had to do with the ATA gene.”

“Well I don’t know Carson, maybe we were wrong. As much as it pains me to admit, but sometimes even I’m wrong.”

“I won’t disagree with you there.” Rodney scowled.

“Let’s just get him out of here.”


“Well, I’ve run all the tests I can on John, and so far, nothing’s come up. What exactly happened between you two?”

Rodney gulped. “I told you. He attacked me.”

“But he didn’t hurt you did he? Because if he did you’d have been wailin’ about it all the way here. So what did he actually do?”

Rodney sighed. “Hecalledmecute.”

“Huh? Speak up lad.”

“He called me cute. And then he moved at me when I told him not to so I tased him.”

Carson stared at Rodney with a confused look. “Rodney. I thought he attacked you.”

“He was going to, I’m sure. And I didn’t want him to.”

“Rodney what happened wasn’t an attack, or even the preface to one. It sounds like John just told you he thought you were cute and went to calm you down when you freaked out.”

“And then I tased him.”

“And then you tased him.”

There was a beat of silence.

“Oh god. I tased John! I totally freaked out and all he did was compliment me!”

“It’s okay Rodney. You overreacted, but I’m sure John will understand. You haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately with everyone going crazy-”

“No! That isn’t why I freaked out, not really. I was-kinda- I mean-” Rodney took a deep breath. “Okay, so I know this may come to you as a earth-shattering shock and you might need to sit down or feel the urge to laugh and/or faint, depending on your opinion of me, but I’ve never actually had a relationship.

Carson didn’t sit down, laugh, or faint. “Rodney, that’s not something to be ashamed of, laddie. Lots of people feel as though they haven’t been in a romantic relationship, whether it was because they didn’t have time, they never met the right person, they were afraid, or they just felt no desire to have one. Whatever your reasons, they are perfectly valid, and I’m sure John would understand if you explained it to him.”

“But what if he thinks it’s stupid and I’m just being a prude? Oh god it’s like highschool all over again.”

“Rodney there is no need to panic. Between your existential crisis and the contagious lunacy going around the city, I don’t think I can handle-”

“Lunacy!”

“Yes. Lunacy. That is what I said Rodney. Do I need to check your ears as well?”

“No! I mean actual full blown Lunacy! Atlantis has suddenly turned into a city of literal lunatics.”

“You’ll have to explain what your getting at here.”

“Last week, we observed the moon on this planet shifting slightly. We didn’t think anything of it at the time, because as far as we could determine it was a normal event in the planet’s system. But what if there were significant changes due to the moon’s alignment? We know that the moon sends a low level signal, but the shift could have altered that signal to mess with our brain chemistry.”

“That’s some idea Rodney. But then why does it only affect people without the ATA gene?”

Rodney glanced at John. “I don’t know, but maybe the gene protects us. It would explain why this change wasn’t warned about in the Ancient database.”

“What can we do to stop it? We can’t have everyone running a muck every time the moon shifts.”

“The shields should disrupt the signal, until we can figure out a way to keep it from affecting their brain chemistry. We’ll be draining a lot of power from the ZedPM, but I think it's our only option.”

“Well, you’re nae gonna get any arguments from me. Go!”

Racing through Atlantis to the control room, Rodney began barking orders a the people on duty. “You, I need you over here. You, with the hair, and I need you over there, and you with the jacket… just go stand off to the side somewhere, you’re useless.”

“Dr. McKay,” Major Lorne said, jogging into the room. “What are you doing?”

“I’m raising the shields. I think a lunar shift is causing altering people’s brain chemistry and the shields will disrupt the signal.”

“But won’t that drain the ZPM?”

“Yes, but right now it’s our only option. So let me work.”

Lorne stood to the side and let Rodney do what he needed to do. “Alright, engaging the shields now.” Everyone in the room watched through the window as the yellow shimmering walls came reaching up around the city. The shields were up, and now all they could do was wait to see if it helped.

Rodney suggested everyone have the evening off, and that he would stay and monitor the ZedPM power levels and the shields for the night. He was too wired from his confrontation with John earlier to really go to sleep. After the other scientists had left, he waved off Lorne to go check on the affected expedition members with Carson, and was left to himself, alone in the control room. Head in his hands, he worried over what he was going to do about John. He really did like him, and had he not been so surprised and freaked out about John liking him back, Rodney would have jumped at the chance to have a relationship with him. But what about when John wanted something Rodney couldn’t give? It was bound to happen eventually, and Rodney knew he was stubborn and high maintenance and annoying as a friend, so he could imagine the frustrations of dealing with him as a romantic partner. He also had absolutely no experience with relationships to go on, and so he would have no idea if and when one was going well or about to crash and burn. He’d be going into the arrangement completely blind and therefore, in true McKay fashion, unbearably paranoid.

Rodney sighed. He could only hope that at the very least, John would still like to be his friend when he woke up, and that his genius idea of putting up the shields would finally stop the insanity in Atlantis.

It was the next morning, and Rodney had been dosing by the controls of the gateroom for the better part of two hours. He did not hear someone making their way towards him. He startled as a hand shook him on the shoulder. “Rodney.”

He shot up in the chair, jarring his back and neck, which creaked from being stiff for so long. He blinked and rubbed his eyes, peering up at the person in front of him.

“Elizabeth! You’re not crying anymore!” Elizabeth’s cheeks reddened. “No, I seem to be fine. Major Lorne and Carson tell me that I have you to thank for that.”

“Oh yes, well, I suppose it was nothing. I just realized what was causing the hysteria and stopped it, so I guess you could say I saved the day again but we still need a more permanent solution. We can’t just keep the shields up indefinitely, and astral projections we took last week suggest the moon shifts every three months or so.”

Elizabeth chuckled, “Yes Rodney. You did save the day. Again. And Teyla has been resting her feet in the conference room, where she thinks she has a solution. She stopped dancing a few moments ago and she and Ronan are with some others waiting to debrief. I was just on my way there. Care to join me?”

“Of course. We need to figure this out soon, or we will run out of power and be turned into nutjobs permanently.”

In the conference room, Rodney found Teyla reclining back in a chair, with her feet up on a pillow. He could only imagine how tired they were after a week of non-stop dancing. Major Lorne sat to her right, with Ronan one his otherside, looking particularly murderous down at his own hands, which covered in marker stains. On Teyla’s otherside, Carson sat, interviewing Radek about how he was feeling who was on his otherside. Radek himself had the decency to look sheepish when Rodney and Elizabeth entered the room, standing to greet Rodney.

“Rodney, I must apologise for attacking you. I was not in my right mind. Even when you irritate me, which is often to be honest, I would never try to hurt you physically. I am sorry.”

“You should be! You almost killed me-”

“Rodney-” Elizabeth began.

“-But I am willing to overlook it due to the fact you were being affected by lunar shifts at the time. I forgive you.”

He thought he saw Carson and Elizabeth share a mutual eye roll, but before he could say anything, Elizabeth began speaking. “Carson, did your tests corroborate that Rodney’s moon theory was correct?”

“Aye, I studied the brain waves of an affected person against those of an unaffected person. There was a miniscule difference in activity in the parts of the brain generally attributed to controlling behavior and judgement. The waves were definitely being affected. I would have to do more tests, and they would take time we don’t have, but I would guess that the ATA gene offers some sort of immunity.”

“Well, now that we are reasonably sure of the cause, Teyla, you mentioned that you may know a solution?”

“Yes Dr. Weir. Some people the Athosians have traded with in the past told of a disease called the moon-sickness. During certain times of year, entire villages would be affected, behaving erratically and out of character, until suddenly, it stopped. Usually, these villages were plagued by the sickness, until someone discovered a certain plant that when eaten, can counteract the disease. It is called the Machen Plant, and it grows on several planets we have traded with before.”

“And you think this will help the affected people on Atlantis?”

“I am sure Dr. Weir. The symptoms of moon-sickness match exactly what has been happening here over the past week.

“Great! Then it is worth a try. Major, you get your team ready to go out and find these Machen Plants. You’ll leave as soon as you’re ready. Everyone else, I suppose we all have things we need to get caught up on, but I think I might announce a base wide rest day just so we can get our bearings.” Elizabeth stood and made her way out of the room, followed by Lorne and Radek. Rodney caught Carson’s arm on his way out and softly asked “How’s John?”

“He’s doin’ alright, still unconscious. Don’t worry Rodney, I’ll tell you when he’s awake and being released.”

“Thank you.”

Rodney stood in the conference and watched as the last of his friends walked out. What was he going to do when John woke up?


Rodney paced his room. He had saved Atlantis, everyone had gone back to normal, and he was almost relieved, until he got the call from Carson. John was awake. He had a slight concussion from hitting his head when he fell, but Carson had deemed him healed and cleared him for light duty.

Now Rodney had no idea what he was going to say to him. Hey, sorry I tased you when you called me cute, which is evidently one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me, but I immediately assumed you were making fun of me? Yeah that would go over well. There would be yelling, and questions, and uncomfortable conversations Rodney did not want to get into right now. Or, you know, ever. He didn’t want to share his history with anyone. He had purposely tried to keep that particular bit of information under wraps. God help him if anyone ever found out about how in high school he never had a girlfriend and those stupid jocks who picked on him because he was a nerd began calling him a prude and a girl and all sorts of awful names that he didn’t really care to think about right now. He could imagine the whispers that would follow him, the gossip that would traverse the city about how because of those awful high school years he never gathered the courage to ask anyone out and therefore never got over his fear of intimacy and commitment. Not that he even knew what exactly it was about those things he was really afraid of, and what he just couldn’t be bothered to care about. It was all very confusing sometimes.

Rodney’s chain of thought broke with the sound of a knock at the door. He took a deep breath. This was it.

He walked over to the door, and opened it.

John Sheppard stood in the doorway, looking the same as always. His hands were at his sides in a non-confrontational position, his weight was centered on both feet. His eyes found Rodney’s immediately.

“Hey buddy. I hear you saved the city from the crazy. I knew you could do it.”

Rodney just stared, trying to control his breathing.

“Do you mind if I come in Rodney? I think we should probably talk.”

Rodney nodded his head and moved aside to let John into the room. He still didn’t speak.

John sat on the bed. Once the door had shut he said, “So, you tased me.”

Rodney finally spoke. “I thought you were being affected by the lunacy. I may have been wrong.”

“Well, you were, but I have to ask, why did my calling you cute make you think I had lost my mind.”

Rodney looked down. He supposed he better tell John the truth. He owes the man that. He tased him for goodness sake.

“Rodney?”

Very quietly and un-Rodney-like, Rodney said, “I never thought you would make fun of me like that unless you had lost your mind.”

“Rodney what? I wasn’t- I would never-”

“And then when I realized you weren’t making fun of me, I thought you had gone completely insane.”

“I don’t understand, why would you think-”

“No one has ever called me cute or showed any remote interest in me, not since high school and I’ve never had the courage to ask anyone out so I freaked out just a little and got scared because you were there calling me cute and it was great and all but then you were going to want a relationship and I know I can’t give you what you want in a relationship because even without experience I’m pretty sure I know what I want and what I don’t want and I was afraid you would have different interests and so I thought the easiest way to get out of the situation was to just tase you but as soon as I did that I regretted it because I tased you, and your like my best friend besides Carson and people shouldn’t tase their friends as a general rule because I’m pretty sure they don’t like it.”

John sat there shocked for a minute. There was a moment of silence between the two men. Then he reached out and placed his hand on Rodney’s.

“All of that thinking with that big brain of yours and you were only right about one thing: I didn’t much enjoy being tased. But given the circumstances, and the fact that I didn’t realize how spooked you were, I am definitely willing to put that behind us right now. I do think you’re cute Rodney. I think you’re cute and funny and sarcastic and beautiful and wickedly smart-- the smartest guy in two galaxies. I don’t care about the physical aspect of our relationship-- if you want one with me that is-- because I don’t want you for that, I want you for you and that big brain of yours. If you don’t want to do something, I’ll respect your boundaries and I won’t do anything you don’t want. And I promise if you start to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable, all you have to do is tell me and I’ll back off faster than you can say “Beam me up, Scotty” and then we’ll work from there. I don’t ever want you to feel like you have to tase me to get away, or to feel unsafe.”

The weight of the world had been lifted off Rodney’s shoulders. He suddenly felt like he could breathe again. Eyes shining, he turned his hand up to hold John’s hand back.

“Okay. If, if you don’t mind me and my total and utter lack of experience with this kind of stuff, then I think I’d like to try, you know, the whole relationship thing.”

John’s face broke out into the brightest smile Rodney had ever seen.

It took a few days, but soon Atlantis was back to normal. The Machen Plant Lorne’s team had brought back had been implemented into every food option in the mess, so no matter what, people were protected from the moon. They had successfully dropped the shields without respurring the pandemic of insanity, and the whole of the expedition has started to put the whole thing behind them. It had been embarrassing for some at first. Cadman acted as though nothing had happened and refused to acknowledge anything she had done was unintentional, Ronan glared at anyone who he caught snickering about him enjoying children's’ cartoons and crayons. Teyla had taken a few days off to let her feet heal, which were actually worse than Rodney had thought; she had danced herself into a bad case of plantar fasciitis. Elizabeth had this uncomfortable look about her whenever she was faced with the memory of having a mental breakdown in her office, and had had to assure Heightmeyer she wasn’t depressed. Heightmeyer on her own had felt so guilty about acting as cold as she had to everyone, especially Katie Brown, she had made a public apology at breakfast one morning. Almost everyone had discovered something missing over the last few days, and it inevitably had been found somewhere in Katie Brown’s quarters. Radek was decidedly less homicidal, even as Rodney had been watching him carefully since his return, just in case he tried to kill someone again. Miko was probably the weirdest reaction to discovering she had been affected: she suddenly found self confidence to tell McKay off when he was rude to her, a fact that had shocked every scientist in the whole department.

On top of recovering from the lunar fiasco, Rodney and John had started dating.  They decided not to keep it a secret, because keeping relationships secret was a hard thing to do on Atlantis, and it was easier to just be open about it from the beginning. Everyone had been super supportive, and much to Rodney’s surprise had given John the shovel talk just as much as they had given it to him. Carson apparently had threatened John during his follow up after being released to check up on his concussion, and then done the same to Rodney when they met for their weekly lunch. Ronan and Teyla had cornered John in the gym, and then paid a visit to the labs to see Rodney. Elizabeth had sternly told both men that if she found out about either of them hurting one another, there would be hell to pay, and Radek politely told them both that he would not be getting involved in any fights, but that there had better not be any or else.

They also found out about the city wide bet that had been placed on when and how they would get together. As it turned out, Chuck won. Rodney wasn’t sure he wanted to know the details of the scenario he’d bet, but he was sure it probably had nothing to do with the whole city going bonkers.

The thing was, though, that Rodney was happier, and way more confident. John had been really understanding, always respecting his boundaries and willing to talk and actually share his feelings, which surprised Rodney, since he hadn’t thought John wasn’t really good at that sort of thing. When he mentioned it, John had laughed and said he usually only opens up to the people he trusts, which had Rodney beaming for two straight days. He never felt like he had to do anything he didn’t want to, and that instilled within him the confidence to be more open with his boyfriend.

Now, he looked down at the data pad he was carrying, as he made his way to the mess, where he was meeting John and the team for lunch. “Rodney!” He looked up, and smiled as John made his way down the corridor towards him. “Finally decided to come out of the lab, huh?”

“You know I was working on a way to stretch out the power capacity of a naquadah generator last night.”

“Yes, but I didn’t realize you were going to be working on it until 4am.”

“Well, Radek and I got on to a good idea and we lost track of time.”

John smiled. “I figured as much. Maybe I should have a discussion with Zelenka about hogging my boyfriend.”

“You know that if you did that I wouldn’t talk to you for a week right?”

“Good point. Maybe I could just settle for an early dinner tonight instead?”

“Deal,” Rodney smiled at John and reached over and grabbed his hand, practically dragging him down the hallway. “Now let’s go to lunch, I’m so hungry I could eat a whole pot of Tuttleroot soup.”

“You don’t like Tuttleroot.”

“Exactly.”

The sound of John’s laughter followed them down the hall, as they walked hand and hand towards their friends.