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Friendly Skies

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Rodney always seemed to miss the most obvious facts, like the fact that the two incredibly good-looking men in flight attendant uniforms were obviously not real flight attendants. The taller of the two, Ronon, had thick dreadlocks, a goatee, and a hint of a tattoo peeking up over his collar. He didn’t smile much, and when he did smile, it was the kind of smile a wolf might wear before it tore into an innocent lamb. He didn’t talk much either, mostly communicated in nods, shrugs, and the occasional grunt.

The shorter of the two, whose name tag read John, had wildly messy-spiky black hair that would have looked stupid on anyone else but somehow looked incredibly stylish on him, like he’d spent hours in front of the mirror gelling each spike into place just so. He had bright hazel-green-gold-gray eyes, a smirky smile, and looked incredibly long-suffering while he did the safety demonstration, clipping and unclipping the seatbelt, showing people how the oxygen masks worked, and holding up the safety information card.

Rodney was torn between hyperventilating in panic (because he hated flying and not being on solid ground where he had some modicum of control over his body and where it was going) and finding some way to hit on John (because when he was demonstrating how the life jackets could receive additional inflation by blowing into the little red tubes on the sides, well, Rodney had dirty thoughts).

Because John’s mouth was gorgeous.

Rodney let himself think John and Ronon were real flight attendants because the stereotype was that male flight attendants were gay and then Rodney might actually have a chance with very hot, very charming John, who doled out little snack packs and miniature bottles of water with unsubtle sarcasm in his smile.

Maybe Rodney latched onto how attractive John was because having casual fantasies about necking with him behind the flight attendant curtain was much more fun than imagining his horrible demise by plane crash or plane explosion or some other plane malfunction. When Captain Evan Lorne welcomed them aboard, Rodney thought the man had a nice, pleasant voice, which probably meant he was some kind of slack-jawed people-pleaser who’d brown-nosed his way through flight school, and they were all doomed to die. And then Captain Lorne explained they were experiencing a slight technical delay, techs were working on it, but hopefully it wouldn’t put them too far behind schedule.

“We’ll be flying with a tailwind today, so if we get this sorted out in the next few minutes, we should still make our destination on time, especially for you folks with connecting flights,” he said.

There was a pause, another crackle of static, and then a woman - presumably First Officer Teyla Emmagan - spoke. “It looks like the issue will be resolved soon. Once we have...uploaded our flight plans and...things, we will be ready for take off.”

Ronon raised his eyebrows.

John looked ready to bury his face in his hands when First Officer Emmagan said flight plans and things.

Then the engines started to roar, and the plane started to taxi. Rodney watched out the window. He understood the physics of flight better than everyone else on the plane, even the pilots, but that didn’t help him feel better when the engines sped up, whining higher and louder, and then the plane sped up, wheels rumbling on the tarmac. Then there was that bizarre feeling of both weightlessness and heaviness from G-forces on acceleration, and they were airborne.

Rodney tried to read one of the science journals he’d brought along, and he tried to listen to some Rachmaninoff, and finally he settled on watching John and Ronon as they moved through the cabin, John distributing snacks and drinks and Ronon following along with a garbage bag to accept wrappers and empty bottles and cups.

John and Ronon both stumbled, wide-eyed and startled, when the plane dipped suddenly.

More than one person cried out.

A little child started to cry.

Rodney was too terrified to make a sound.

“Apologies, folks,” Captain Lorne said, still stupidly pleasant-voiced. “Bit of unexpected turbulence there.”

The plane dipped again, almost knocking Ronon off his feet, and Rodney let out an involuntary whimper.

John was crouched in front of him in an instant. “Hey, sir, it’s going to be all right, I promise.”

Rodney dared to peek at John when all he wanted to do was crawl under his chair and curl up in a tiny ball. John was eye-level with him, looking right at him, with an assurance and a confidence that went beyond attempts at comfort. He looked - knowing. Sure. Like he was making a promise.

Rodney noticed the lean muscles in his forearms, and when John put a hand on his, he noticed rough calluses. John wasn’t slender and soft, like most flight attendants.

But Rodney was too focused on his own fear and attempting to assuage his own fears by focusing on how hot John was to really pay attention to the things his brain was taking in, processing, and synthesizing.

Neither John nor Ronon were real flight attendants. First Officer Emmagan was probably not a real pilot.

The plane plummeted downward with a stomach-turning swoop.

There were more cries of alarm. 

A man with a ponytail and glasses askew lurched out of his seat. He was waving some kind of datapad like a madman.

“I have control of this airplane! It will crash and kill everyone in it unless the United States Government meets my demands!”

Someone screamed.

Ronon lunged, tackled the Ponytail Madman to the ground. John lunged, snatched the datapad out of his hands.

“Radek!” John shouted.

Rodney straightened up, startled. Radek - as in, Radek Zelenka? Who’d worked with Rodney on that bizarre theoretical wormhole project for the Air Force way back when?

It was Radek Zelenka. He stumbled out of his seat and snatched the datapad from John.

“Can you take control of the plane back?” John asked.

Radek nodded. “Yes, yes, just give me a moment.”

Rodney was out of his seat and stumbling into the aisle. “Give that to me.”

Radek looked up, surprised. “What? Rodney?”

“I’ll be faster,” Rodney said.

John said, all business and no charm, “Sir, stand down. We have this situation under control.”

The plane swooped downward again.

Oxygen masks spilled down from the ceiling.

“Back in your seat, sir,” John said. “Ronon, mask up, grab a mask for Radek. Radek - get me control of this plane back.”

Rodney started to protest, but John manhandled him back into his seat. He strapped the mask over Rodney’s nose and mouth before Rodney could protest.

“Stay here. Rodney, is it?”

Rodney could only nod, wide-eyed and startled at John’s hands - warm, strong, confident - on him.

“You need this mask. I promise, we have this situation under control.”

The cockpit door burst open, and a pretty woman in an ill-fitting pilot uniform burst into the cabin, pounced on the Ponytail Madman while Ronon found some kind of mobile oxygen system for Radek.

What followed was a lot of the Ponytail Madman struggling and yelling till John and not-really-First Officer Emmagan tied him up and gagged him while Radek tapped desperately at the datapad and Ronon helped Captain Lorne get an oxygen mask on.

When all was said and done, the plane was stable, the Ponytail Madman was subdued, and everything was going to be all right.

Or so Captain Lorne said, still with his stupidly pleasant voice.

“We’re still on schedule to reach our destination,” he said. “In the meantime, I think Colonel Sheppard has some more snacks and beverages to make the flight more pleasant.”

Colonel Sheppard? Rodney wondered.

John poked his head into the cockpit. “What more snacks are you talking about?”

“Homemade chocolate biscotti. Just in case. Citrus free,” Captain Lorne said.

Ronon perked up. “Chocolate?”

Rodney was immediately suspicious. Citrus free?

John looked both exasperated and amused. “You - you made homemade biscotti for an undercover mission?”

“I figured it’d be stressful, sir,” Captain Lorne said. “People might need some cheering up in the aftermath.”

“Of course you did.” John - Colonel Sheppard - looked torn between laughter and severe disapproval. 

Ronon rummaged in the galley and came up with a container of homemade biscotti, which he distributed among the passengers.

“Colonel?” Captain Lorne asked. “You want to take the stick? Major Cartwright wanted me to do the NDA portion.”

John, who’d been checking on the prisoner at the rear of the plane, straightened up. “Yeah, Major. Thanks.” He started toward the cockpit.

Rodney reached out, caught his wrist. “You - you’re not really a flight attendant.”

“Ah - no. I’m not. Sorry for the deception. It was necessary to catch a domestic terrorist.”

“I knew that,” Rodney said. “I mean - it’s obvious. I was just - distracted. By how hot you are. But of course you’re not really a flight attendant so you’re probably not gay, so -”

Rodney snatched his hand back. Obviously this Colonel Sheppard character and his team were military personnel - maybe not Ronon, with those dreadlocks - and America’s military had that stupid rule.

Not-really-Captain Lorne said, “Sir?”

“Change of plans, Lorne,” John said. “Keep the stick. I’m pretty sure I can do some fast-talking and lawyering of my own.”

Major Lorne said, very amused, “Yes, sir.”

John reached out, curled his hand around Rodney’s wrist. “We’ll talk once my job is done,” he said. Then he straightened up and boomed out in a definitely military-sounding voice, “All right, folks, listen up!”

Rodney hoped they did, that this whole process went fast, because he was pretty sure that after this he had a date.