"Rodney… we don't have to do this," John whispered out the corner of his mouth.
"I know," Rodney said, and John was somewhat surprised by how unconcerned he sounded.
"I mean, they say they have a ZPM, but we don't have any proof of that," John continued. They could walk away now, tell Elizabeth the trade bargain was no good, and be back in Atlantis in time for lunch.
"I don't think they would know how to test if it was charged, anyway," Rodney eyed the strange creatures that floated short tendrils of waving… somethings… at them.
"I don't know why they're so interested in our… reproductive habits anyway," John said.
"For the same reasons humans like watching porn, I guess," said Rodney, and again, John was taken aback by how far he sounded from panic. Wasn't this about the time that Rodney would start to panic? Usually he'd be babbling and sweating by now. "I mean, who doesn't like porn? And, hello, these guys don't exactly have VCRs, so maybe live porn theatre is all that's available."
This was just crap timing, John thought, shifting his weight nervously from foot to foot. He and Rodney were just coming to an understanding, as yet unvoiced, where Rodney would hold still long enough and stop talking long enough for John to lean in close and smell the coffee on his breath and sometimes they'd lean close enough that their faces might touch and John was 'this close' to going in for a kiss. Just last week he'd slung an arm over Rodney's shoulders - nothing that couldn't be mistaken for just one guy touching another guy in a completely manly kind of way - and his fingertips had been only inches away from Rodney's nipple.
"I um," John said, eyes fixed on the ground. "If you don't want to go ahead with this, we can get out of this pretty easily. These guys aren't armed or anything…" John didn't want to have to shoot their way out when these fuzzy little aliens hadn't actually threatened them yet, but they were going to seriously screw up all the hard work he'd put into things with Rodney, and that just made him want to shoot someone. Not that he would, not really, but even so…
"Oh, I don't mind," Rodney said distantly, entirely too calm about their situation for John's peace of mind "Don't these guys remind you of Muppets?" he gestured towards their hosts, and the blue one, the one Rodney called 'Whistler' made its high pitch whistling sound that was translated into 'We can offer you food for the information, as well' and John looked up to catch the look of lust that Rodney gave the translator gadget. "If we got hold of one of those and reverse engineered it, we might not need it here, but it'd be a great thing to have on earth, don’t you think, Colonel? If every language was this easy to understand, we could make a fortune!"
John really didn't care about the translator. His relationship with McKay was the only issue on the table as far as he was concerned. "It's just that, you know, you and I were.." he shrugged.
"Standing really close together a lot?" Rodney whispered.
"Yeah, standing," John snapped a little at Rodney's flippant treatment of his efforts, then softened. "I mean, I was hoping… you know…"
"To get to first base sometime this year?"
"Yeah, and being forced to do it by aliens, that's sort of…"
"Sexual assault, bordering on rape, bound to lead to the destruction not only of our future potential… standing even closer together on occasion… but destroying our entire friendship, making working together impossible and damaging both of our careers?"
"Yeah, exactly," John nodded, not surprised that Rodney was thinking furiously about the problem but still concerned that he wasn't taking it seriously enough.
"You have a point. Hey, you, Whistler," Rodney snapped his fingers at the blue one. He'd dubbed the yellow alien 'Farter', due to the lower pitch of its communication whistle-hoot, but apparently that either didn't translate or wasn't considered offensive to these ovoid, Muppet-like aliens, as they hadn't at any point tried to kill McKay for the insult.
The blue alien whistled, 'Question?'
"Why do we have to be the ones who demonstrate our reproductive habits? Why don’t you demonstrate your reproductive habits to us?"
John wanted to hiss at Rodney not to push the good will of the aliens, and let his hand rest casually on the butt of his side arm, but the aliens whistled and farted at each other, whistled again, then agreed. 'Yes, it's fair,' they agreed, and started to vibrate, and John wondered if Rodney had just had a great idea, or if this was something that was going to leave his psyche scarred for life. He wondered what the odds would be that all four of them would be describing this to Heightmeyer at some point in the near future.
The entire SGA team stood and watched, rapt, as the aliens, all four foot tall and round of them, started to shake and wobble, not touching, but extending their thousands of little tendrils towards each other in rippling waves. Their farts and whistles were translating as:
'Yes' then large, mouth-like slits opened up in front of each, and they started to extrude something that looked like a beagle-sized peeled grape.
John took a step back, wondering if that was some sort of sexual organ, and put a hand over his mouth to cover any expression of disgust at the glistening, translucent, flesh like substance.
Whistler and Farty shuffled a little closer together on their paddle feet and slowly and carefully pushed their giant grapes into each other's mouth-things. Once the exchange was completed, the grapes were swallowed up, the vibrations and tendril waving reached a fever pitch and seemed to climax in a fit of wobbling and farting.
They finally settled, tendrils floating down slowly to lie flat again, and Whistler whistled something that didn't translate, but John assumed was probably 'Was it good for you?' and Farty farted contentedly, and then they rested, looking at the human team expectantly. Not that they had eyes, but they seemed to have some sort of forward facing direction, and they sat there and calmly waited.
"Well," said Rodney, who'd leaned forward to watch, obviously fascinated. "That was… interesting."
"I believe they… exchanged eggs?" Teyla ventured.
"Some sort of genetic exchange, I think, definitely," Rodney agreed. "I'm guessing they're hermaphroditic considering they each took the same role, although those… things they exchanged were huge. Maybe it was a larva or something?"
"That's not the point," John snapped. "You've all but agreed that we're going to 'do it', now." And there was no way he was letting Ronon or Teyla 'do it' because… because they just didn't stand that closely together.
"Yes, yes," Rodney stepped forward and spoke to the Muppets, addressing Farty. "We have a slight problem, though, as, well… this is kind of embarrassing…"
Oh god, John winced, Rodney was going to explain gay, or the taboo of public sex, or that they were just friends, or Don't ask, Don't Tell, and listening to Rodney try to explain human sex mores to some alien Muppets was going to get them all shot. Or eaten. Or something. John just knew it.
"… you see, I'm not in heat at the moment."
John turned to give Rodney a look of horror.
"Our people," Rodney waved his hand at his team, "can only reproduce during certain seasons. When, er, certain flowers bloom on our planet. And stuff. And it’s not the season yet. I won't be coming into season for a while yet."
Whistler whistled sadly, 'When?'
"Oh, not for ages. Yes, um, I have to be in heat. See, that's why he's standing so close to me," he pointed at John. "He's hoping I'll come into heat, and he's making sure he's close by when it happens. So he can shoot some DNA at me."
John studied his boots, they were fascinating. It occurred to him that maybe Rodney could be very good at Poker after all, if he could lie this quickly while keeping a straight face. He hoped his own expression wasn't too incredulous, and made sure to keep his eyebrows down. Teyla, for her part, coughed delicately, but Ronon grinned widely, feet planted and arms crossed, obviously thoroughly enjoying Rodney's performance. John wondered if Ronon knew he was giving the game away, and made a mental note to have a discussion about putting on the appropriate 'poker face' with Ronon later. After sparring. He didn't want Ronon beating the crap out of him if he brought this up before they worked out.
'How does he?' farted Farty.
"Well, when I'm in heat, he'll er…"
"Smell it?" John contributed helpfully. He didn't smile, but he was starting to get into this. Here was Rodney's ingenuity at play. Now he couldn't wait to see what Rodney came up with next.
"Gross, Colonel. You always have to go too far, don't you? You always work blue. But yes," Rodney resumed lying to the fuzzy aliens. "He'll smell it. Then… he'll dance."
"Dance? I'll dance?" John straightened up, affronted. It wasn't quite so funny when someone expected him to dance.
"Yes, he has to do a dance. It has to be a very good dance. To impress me," Rodney looked smug. "Our people show their fitness as a mate by the skill and delicacy of their dancing."
John had a dismayed vision of a bird dancing to attract its mate and wondered what terrible sin he'd committed in his previous life to have ended up with Rodney in this one. "Yeah, dancing. I'm a really good er… dancer," John nodded seriously, and glowered at Rodney.
Teyla's cough seemed to be getting quite bad.
'Why he dance? Not you?' Whistler leaned over, tendrils waving, obviously fascinated by the humans' strange alien rituals.
"No, I don't have to dance. I'm the, er, receptor," Rodney's hands described enthusiastic and complex patterns in the air as he warmed to his story, incidentally getting himself out of the horror of dancing.
John wondered what on earth a receptor was supposed to be and hoped that the aliens couldn't perceive human gender differences. He really didn't want to have to explain any of that.
'Why different are you to him?' Farty asked.
"See my ears? I have small, round ears, so I'm the receptor. He has large pointy ears-"
"Hey!" John took umbrage to the ear crack.
"So he does the dancing. Oh, and Colonel? For future reference, I'm rather partial to The Robot."
"I'll keep that in mind. In my mind that sits between my apparently huge, pointy ears."
"Good, good. You do that."
'What if dance is bad?' the aliens asked.
"Then he fails and I won't pollinate with him and he has to wait until the next season," Rodney stated as if that should have been patently obvious.
It seemed Teyla's cough was contagious, as Ronon was now suffering not so silently.
"Do you guys need a lozenge?" John snapped at them.
'If he dances well?' Whistler sounded positively enraptured with Rodney's description, its tendrils were erect as if it had become infused with static electricity.
'If I like his dancing then I will extend my arms," Rodney demonstrated, "and he can hold my hands."
"Well, then…" Rodney's eyes darted to John's as if looking for inspiration, just a bare hint of nervousness showing as Rodney grasped for ideas to pad out his tale, "…then it gets exciting!"
Everyone leaned a little closer… John couldn't wait to hear the exciting bit.
"Then," Rodney said with a flourish, "we wait for the bee!"
"The bee?" John exclaimed.
"Yes, the bee. You know, the bee!" Rodney windmilled his hands around in a manner that did not in any way suggest the flight of a bee, glaring at John to get with the programme.
"But you're allergic to the bee, I mean, bees," John pointed out.
"Yes, yes, I am, but humans in general, I mean!" Rodney turned back to the Muppet aliens. "For the Colonel and I, we'd have to wait for the er, humming bird. Or some kind of honey eating pollinating bat."
'Bee bird bat,' Whistler sounded like he was taking mental notes. Even his translator thingy made him sound breathless, as if he were enjoying the alien version of phone sex.
"Yes, then, if we're lucky, it will pollinate us."
John nodded sagely. "And that’s why humans call sex The Birds and the Bees and the Bats."
'I understand. And then?'
"And then… we wait 18 years for the bud to leave home."
'Ooooooooooooooo' Whistler sounded very, very impressed.
Farty said, 'Very complicated… raise each other's egg easier and more fun!'
"I dare say it is, but you do miss out on some good dancing," Rodney said. "Also, he has to spend all the time I'm not in heat trying to keep my favour by giving me snacks."
"Snacks? I have to give you snacks now?" John wasn't surprised that Rodney had twisted the whole thing around into a plan to get hold of John's snack ration.
"Yes, it's part of our reproductive rituals. It's very important. It shows what a good provider he is. In fact," Rodney said, turning to John with a smirk, "you should do it now. Before Ronon does. He's standing very close, you know, Colonel. He could start competing for my favour and trying to shoot DNA at me any time now."
Ronon's coughing sounded like he had swallowed his tongue and when John snuck a look at him, he appeared to be in some pain.
"Well, I wouldn't want that to happen," said John, and handed over a power bar. "Who knows, there could be a bat around here somewhere."
"Excellent," Rodney said, taking the power bar happily.
"Of course, I'm sure Ronon would know better than to stand too close to my… receptor," John glared at Ronon, trying to get him to stop choking before he gave everything away. "So, McKay, in heat yet?" John asked, keeping his expression carefully neutral.
"I'll let you know."
John leaned down and sniffed Rodney's neck, inhaling loudly. "Not long now! You're definitely starting to smell."
"Stop that! No out of season sniffing!" Rodney said, ripping into the power bar. "So, you guys, that enough information or do you need to fart at us some more? What else do you need to know about? Yo Yos? Wheat farming? Chinese fighting muffins? Pictionary? Cheese?"
'No, we just like sex,' Whistler whistled and Farty paddled off and came back dragging a bag. 'For you; thank you!'
Rodney leaned over and took the bag, peering inside, "Oh, oh… thank you! Colonel?"
John leaned over to look and grinned at the ZPM Rodney held up to show him. "Do you think it's charged?"
"I'll test it when we get back to Atlantis," Rodney said, carefully wrapping it back up. "Teyla, do you want to continue negotiating with these guys while I go back?"
"Certainly, Doctor McKay, that will be fine." John was impressed at how even she'd kept her voice, although he was pretty sure he could see the hint of tears in her eyes.
'Sex?' Farty questioned.
"No!" Rodney waved an admonishing finger. "She's a newly broken away bud, she's too young for sex. I mean, just look at her, she's not even fully grown yet!"
'Apologies – offence not meant – no suggestion of bud sex, no!' Farty rumbled quickly, but Rodney waved away the gross cultural violation in favour of hugging his new ZPM.
Ronon still sounded as if he was choking on something nasty, but Teyla merely inclined her head politely, cleared her throat, and took over the negotiations for food with their new, fluffy friends.
The ZPM turned out to be about a third charged, which was pretty good really for an exchange of information - albeit information that was wrong wrong wrong - snack bars, Athosian textiles and a couple of embarrassed conversations, and the food they'd got as well had turned out to be not only nutritious but quite palatable. Something that wasn't all that common in this Galaxy. Thankfully there was nothing that looked anything like grapes.
Rodney had buzzed around, found new uses for the extra power, then retired before John could corner him, but John hadn't tried too hard. He knew he'd have to wait until the new toy was disposed of before he could make a move.
Rodney answered the door at the first knock, freshly showered and relaxed in a Spider-Man T shirt. "Colonel?"
"Just came round to see how you are."
"I'm fine, why?" Rodney jerked his chin up, smirking, showing only a bare hint of nervousness.
"Well, that was a pretty good score with the ZPM today. Just wanted to check if you'd gone into heat, yet."
Rodney snorted in amusement. "It was only a third charged, Colonel!"
"Oh, so if it had been fully charged…?"
"Then you'd have to start doing your dance then, wouldn't you!"
John held his arms extended out to the sides, let his face go blank, and started with a perfect Wave. He imagined the invisible force flowing from his right hand to his left, a move that no one could ever mistake.
"What? What are you doing? Oh my god, are you doing The Robot? You are, aren't you? You're doing The Robot!" Rodney exclaimed.
John stiffened his joints and swung his body, jerking into a neat King Tut, rotating his hands with a tick. He spun on straight ankles, and folded neatly in the middle before turning his neck slowly to look up at Rodney who was smiling widely, eyes sparkling with amusement. Yeah, John thought to himself, blinking slowly and deliberately, if anyone can seduce a geek with dance, it's me.
Rodney collapsed down on his bed and clapped his hands, "Brilliant, Colonel! Work it!"
He flowed into his best 'Manequin' moves, perfected in the high school halls of his youth, flexed, jerked, and ticked into a flawless Thunderbird, knees bent at a 45 degree angle that showed off just how strong his thighs were.
He demonstrated his skill with Internals and rippled his abdomen in completely unnatural ways, halting on every move and allowing his arm to swing as if broken, as if the rivets and machinery inside of him was just very slightly faulty, then, like a puppet who's strings had been cut, he allowed himself to fall into a Collapse, catching himself just before he hit the ground, then pulling himself up again, a feat of strength he knew looked impressive. And if he made any mistakes - after all, it had been nearly 20 years since he'd done The Robot in high school, and he'd been mocked for it then - McKay, by the gleam in his eyes, either didn't notice or didn't care.
He finished his routine with a Heart Beat, hand under his shirt to simulate his beating heart, giving Rodney an exaggerated adoring gaze, then spun around and Moon Walked over to where Rodney sat on the bed, laughing and applauding.
"Well?" he questioned, eye brow raised.
"What can I say, what can I say?" Rodney laughed, then he just extended both hands out to John. "Best mating dance, ever! You total geek."
John grinned and grabbed Rodney's hands, entwining their fingers. "Now what?" he asked, wondering if he could at least get to second base tonight, even if they weren't quite at the 'shooting DNA at each other' stage. John surreptitiously leaned in to sniff Rodney's neck, thinking that if Rodney wasn't in heat yet, he still smelled pretty damned good.
"Now," said Rodney, eyes glittering. "We wait for the bee."
If you enjoyed - pleased send feedback!
Now, the last time I offered a drabble to the first person who got the cultural reference, they did! And I had to write the drabble! How much does that suck? But I'm stupid enough to say whoever gets the 'We Wait for the bee' reference first gets a drabble. Or a vignette. Or a haiku. Or a poke in the eye with a wet fish. Whatever comes first. Long since claimed, written, and posted. It was a quote from Quark, by the way.
Oh, and the whole 'grape' thing was originally a lychee, which was a much better mental image, but after a poll (inpsired by millefiori), it turned out that 70% of the US people on my flist had never heard of a lychee. What a sad state of affairs.
If you're not sure what The Robot is, check this out. Watch this