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Teyla cannot believe that this is happening to her. Cannot believe that she has been so foolish as to be caught by the Wraith's culling beam: cannot believe (but must accept) that the timeless limbo of dematerialisation has ended with Teyla and Rodney sharing a body.

It's Rodney's body that they're sharing: Teyla feels sick, not because it is Rodney or a man or even another person but simply because the tension, the slackness, the heavy sluggishness of this body brings to mind (her mind) the aftermath of illness.

--Doctor McKay, Teyla says. --Doctor McKay, all will be well. Breathe slowly, on my count.

Rodney is not listening to her. He is expostulating, and now she feels his complaint for what it is: a way of relieving the terrible tension within him, the angry anxiety, the fear.

"Who would have thought this would be one of the side-effects?" says Doctor Zelenka defensively.

"So instead of waiting to understand what it was you were doing, you just sort of mashed on the keyboard hoping something would happen!" rages Rodney.

Teyla curls in on herself, there in the secret underside of Rodney's mind, and listens and learns.

"He just looks crazy," says Colonel Sheppard to Carson, not caring whether Rodney can hear him: and Teyla feels Rodney's heart flinch and falter as if it's her own. This is important, thinks Teyla.

Elizabeth sends Rodney to his quarters, and Teyla is glad because Rodney's interactions exhaust her. But life is seldom simple, and Rodney meets Katie Brown in the corridor. As he stammers through their conversation, Teyla learns something else about Rodney.

"Forgive me, Rodney," Teyla ventures, once they are alone again, "but this is the woman for whom you have affection?"

"Yes, yes it is," says Rodney aloud, indignant.

"Perhaps I may be of assistance to you," offers Teyla.

"Excuse me?" She can feel his chest tighten, his pulse quicken. This is secret: this is dangerous.

"It seems to me, Rodney, as your friend, that you do not know your own heart," she says, trying to breathe -- to make him breathe -- more deeply, more slowly.

His will is stronger than hers: it is his body, and she has no right here, no matter that her intentions are good. "This is hell!" he cries out to the empty corridor. "This is my own personal hell!"

Teyla can say no more. She sinks guiltily down into the busy darkness of Rodney's thoughts.


This is his own personal hell. Not that Teyla's fighting him: not that her presence hurts him. (Actually, it's remarkably soothing to have her there at the edge of his consciousness: like a cat curled asleep beside him.) Not that he'd wish her trapped in the dematerialisation machine-- even if it's strictly temporary, because once he's feeling more like himself he'll figure out how to get her out of there, and out of his head. But though Teyla says very little, Rodney can hear what she doesn't say with annoying clarity. It's not like reading her mind: no, it's more like the way she sometimes looks at him, or at Sheppard, and says more with silence than most people (okay, he himself) manage with words.

And he's got to admit that she's probably right about Katie. But there is no way he's admitting it out loud. He's not even going to think about it. Not thinking about it. He's thinking about -- yes! He's thinking about how pretty Katie looks in her strappy sandals and her floaty skirt. How feminine and delicate she is, and how that's something he's always found attractive, even if he also --

Not thinking about it.

The swell of Katie's breasts under her shirt, the way her small hand wraps around the stem of her wineglass, the fact that it's good wine even if he'd be happier with a bottle of beer on the pier ... well, not happier. Not exactly.

It's just the two of them, him and Katie, alone together. (Rodney has another thing not to think about, which is the fact that Teyla's watching through his eyes. With any luck she's asleep, or unconscious, or busy with his childhood memories. At least she's not providing a running commentary on his behaviour right now.) Just the two of them, and Katie leaning forward over the table, so he can see the soft pale skin of her collarbone.

"This is ..." He pauses to chew his salad. "This is really nice." And he's being perfectly honest. It is nice, even if it's not ...

Not thinking about that, he reminds himself as Katie smiles and says, "I'm really glad there weren't any disasters today. You've been under so much stress lately! I was worried that you'd have to cancel on me again."

"Well," says Rodney, pleased, "I don't think it's exaggeration to say that I'm a very important member of the expedition. Not to say that you aren't, of course!" He laughs, and a beat later Katie giggles. "But obviously whenever there's a crisis I have to be there."

"What about Doctor Zelenka?" says Katie, forking up another scrap of lettuce. "Can't he deal with some of the problems?"

"That little Czech weasel?" snaps Rodney bitterly. "Why, he's personally responsible for --"

-- Rodney, you are being unfair, says Teyla. He can hear (or maybe feel) her frowning.

"I am not! And I'm surprised you'd say that, given your current position in --"

"Rodney?" says Katie, soft and shocked, her fork clattering on her plate.

"Katie," says Rodney blankly.

-- Rodney, I think you should return to your quarters.

"Yes, yes, good idea," says Rodney.

Katie looks confused.

"For reasons I can't go into right now," Rodney excuses himself, "I can't stay. I have to go. I -- I'm sorry, Katie."

And while she's still sitting there staring at him (and there is no way he's spelling this out, spelling out the reproving voice in his head and the lingering sense of judgement and the whole mess with the Dart and Teyla and Zelenka and Sheppard), he stumbles to the door, wills it open and escapes.


John's tired. He's stayed up pretty late talking to Ronon Dex on the balcony outside the mess. Ronon might look like he could drink John under the table, but he was kind of buzzed after one beer. John guesses there hasn't been much opportunity lately for him to get hammered. If Ronon decides to stick around ... He's got a nice laugh. And he's damn impressive when he's sparring or shooting.

John wishes Teyla was around. She's better with people than he is. Better at judging them, better at making them feel wanted and welcome. Better --

Atlantis is full of weird coincidences, so John probably shouldn't be surprised that, turning the corner towards the living quarters, the first person he meets is Rodney. Who's also, right now, sort of Teyla.

"You're up late," says John amiably, falling into step beside Rodney. Rodney looks like shit: his eyes are red where he's rubbed them, and his shoulders are slumped.

"Mmm," he says. "I couldn't sleep – I was, uh, trying to clear my head."

John's not surprised. There's plenty going on in McKay's head even without a second person moving in. And far as John can tell, they've got no way of getting Teyla out of there. "I, uh, I hear Zelenka's tests didn't go so well," he says, kind of lamely.

"Well, you heard right," says McKay, with about a third of his usual snark.

"Uh, listen," says John, rubbing the back of his neck and trying to look McKay in the eye. "I wanted you to know that I gave the command to take the Dart down."

"Well," says McKay, spookily calm, "much as I'd like to pretend that this is remotely your fault, the thought of what would've happened if you hadn't shot the Dart down is, uh ..."

And okay, maybe having Teyla in there is mellowing the guy, or maybe McKay's gotten a dose of humility from -- nah, has to be Teyla.

And it's like the thought of her makes him look at McKay differently, lets him notice the way McKay's back straightens and his gaze level, watches him smile -- and it's not McKay's smile, it's not that lopsided slanting smirk of his, it's ...

"Teyla?" says John softly.

"John." And that? That's weird, that's new: that's Rodney's voice saying John's name, which John's pretty sure he's never done before.

Not that he wants --

Rodney -- Teyla -- steps forward, puts his big hands on John's biceps and there's no way he misses the shiver that goes through John, the shiver that gives away something John doesn't even let himself acknowledge: but it's Teyla, really it's Teyla, and he trusts her, so he lets her pull him into the Athosian embrace, lets their foreheads touch, lets himself breathe.

He's breathing in Rodney McKay. He's holding onto Rodney like a lifeline. And it's Rodney now who's staring back at him, blue eyes startled, starting to let go then tightening again on John's arms.

Which means, John's pretty sure, that it's Rodney who kisses him quick and dry on the lips.


Ronon likes the way Sheppard looks at him. Admiring. That'll get him a long way if he decides to stay here. Depends. It'd be good to have someone to watch his back. Good to belong again. Good not to have to think about where the next meal's coming from.

Good to have a taskmaster again, too. Sheppard's no Kell: too soft, too easy. Ronon reckons he knows enough about Sheppard already to think about trusting the guy. And looks like Sheppard's sticking his neck out for Ronon, offering him a place here without asking

Weir first.

Sheppard's pretty cool for someone old enough to be Ronon's father. Wears his years lightly. Wears his responsibilities lightly too. Right now he's scowling, talking on his radio to somebody about McKay and Teyla. Sounds important, so when Sheppard takes off for the labs Ronon follows him. He's curious, that's all it is.

Gets to the lab in time to see McKay pacing up and down like the line on the floor is a cage. He's wearing a long belted robe, and he's arguing with himself.

"I cannot believe you did that! With my body!"

Ronon frowns.

"I did nothing that you did not wish," McKay answers himself. "Really? Then how come, how come I never did it before? Oh, that's right, because --"

"McKay," says Sheppard, and that shuts McKay up like someone switched him off. He's just staring at Sheppard, and there's too much in his face for Ronon to sort out, so he leans back aghainst the wall and waits for things to make sense.

People in long white coats are messing around with wires and crystals at the other end of the room. "Ready, Rodney," calls one of them, and McKay just raises a hand, telling them to wait, still looking at Sheppard.

"In case this doesn't work," he says, and then he's grabbing Sheppard's collar -- Ronon's hand goes to his blaster, but Sheppard's not fighting McKay, he's just letting -- just letting McKay kiss him.

Yeah. Makes sense.

"It was her," says McKay quickly, stepping back. "I -- just, just hit it, Radek!" he snaps at the guy in the white coat, stepping back behind the painted line on the floor.

Radek hits a button: there's a wash of blue light like the beam from a Dart, and Sheppard's staring at the empty space where McKay was standing. His face is red, but he's grinning.

"Okay," says Radek. "It's reading as two lifesigns. Power levels are steady --"

"Get 'em out of there!" commands Sheppard. More blue light, and when it's gone there's two people standing behind the line: McKay and the woman Teyla, who rounds on Rodney and says quite clearly, "It was not," before she passes out.

Ronon'll stick around. These people are funny.