Gata’nah placed the ceremonial plate/disk/thingy into John’s hands with a grave smile. “John Sheppard, we welcome you. May your journey bring you clarity and joy.”
Looking in the old shaman’s eyes, John could hear and see Gata’nah’s sincerity and felt himself smile sincerely in return. “Thanks. Me, too,” he murmured.
Instantly, the familiar warm/tingly/happy feeling of Ancient instrumentation saying “HI!” flooded through him – actually pretty strongly - then he felt very queasy and off-balance. Keeping his eyes closed against the dizziness for a moment, John wondered if he might have been dosed with some vision quest drug. He blinked a few times trying to figure out if he felt drugged when all hell broke loose.
Gata’nah gave a shout – happy, triumphant - and there was a loud crashing noise like someone had knocked one of the benches over and Teyla’s voice rose sharply and Ronon yelped (yelped?) and everything was so distorted, big and people towering over him like he was lying flat on the floor, but he knew he was sitting down, could feel his butt on the cool earth floor. Something was really weird.
The shaman leaned toward him, hand reaching out and John instinctively raised his to keep him at bay until he figured out what was going on and that’s when John realized he no longer had hands and freaked the fuck out.
By the time he and Ronon wrestled their way out of the bush and into the mud, John was about as pissed-off, scared and angry as he had ever been in his life, so once they put him in the basket, he spent some very therapeutic time screaming. Because he was - pretty sure from the paws and the tail – a cat. A very small cat. He couldn’t believe this was happening again.
So stupid! Stupid for walking into a ceremony with an Ancient device. It had been mostly covered in feathers and stuff - hardly recognizable - and was absolutely not glowing until John had…what had he done? McKay would rightfully kick his ass for…
He stopped shredding the inside of the basket abruptly and took an unsteady, deep breath. McKay. Dimly, John heard Teyla call his name, but he ignored it. The medical proxy. Thank God. Apparently, since he couldn’t do much better than yowl, he was going to need all of Rodney’s word-wrangling skills.
And? Rodney loved cats. Missed his own cat so much he had a picture of him in a frame on his bedside table. For someone as unsentimental as Rodney, that was a lot of missing. Such a strong attachment meant that Rodney probably knew an awful lot about cats.
So, actually bonus in a way, John thought a little hysterically, because of the knowing things and the missing things. John would gladly put up with a little ear-scritching if that’s what it took to help get them both through this.
Okay. This was not going to be as bad as last time. John was definitely not feeling anything like the cold, alien thoughts or (he gulped in memory) drives of the Iratus bug. He felt more or less like himself. Except for the whole furry, small, four-legged thing and the horror of the whole mess and the not again/oh yeah, again crawled right up his throat and…
He threw himself against the walls of the basket for a little while, cursing and clawing, though this time, he found himself calling for Rodney, even though they weren’t through the gate yet. Even though no one could understand him, he kept calling for Rodney (okay, maybe because nobody could understand him) right on through the halls and into the infirmary, where, to John’s horror, no one radioed Rodney.
(Compounding John’s horror was that he found himself yelling about the proxy and lawsuits and realized that not only had he been turned into a cat, he’d become his father.)
It turned out that special ops training carried over to being four-legged, which was pretty cool. Once he went to ground, all he had to do was wait for Rodney to come steaming through the doors. John was – in an absolutely vindictively gleeful yet completely justified way – looking forward to it, even while he was shaking like a leaf inside a piece of medical equipment. Elizabeth and Carson were acting like he wasn’t even there. Here. Whatever.
Rodney stormed in, took in the room and the situation in about twenty seconds flat and puffed up into the Wrath of Science. It was awesome.
John closed his eyes for a moment and let the sounds of Rodney’s fury soothe him. He had some time to get his bearings. Rodney had his back.