"Excuse me, Dr. Zelenka. I was wondering if you had a moment to help me with a small problem."
Radek froze. What did Rodney want? Rodney was never polite when he needed something from him. Chances were either he had a splinter, or Atlantis was about to blow up.
You never could tell with Rodney.
He wriggled out from underneath the device he had been working on, to find a steaming mad Rodney standing in front of him.
"I am dreadfully sorry to bother you." Rodney's voice came, calmly and apologetically.
Which was nothing close to what was coming out of Rodney's mouth. Or rather, not coming out of Rodney's mouth. Rodney's mouth was moving its regular mile-a-minute speed, and hadn't yet stopped. But there was silence.
Radek struggled to keep a straight face. But he knew he didn't do too good of a job when Rodney threw up his hands and then pointed at him.
Rodney's mouth finally stopped moving.
"I know this is inconvenient, but I seem to have a small problem." Again, Rodney's voice, but this time his mouth had finished moving before the voice.
Rodney pointed at a small hovering orb, floating above his head. It was about the size of a golf ball, just out of what would be reaching distance.
"What did you touch?" Radek asked, rolling his eyes.
Rodney's hand flew, flailing in a way that Radek would normally would take to mean 'nothing,' as Rodney's face got redder and redder.
"I do not recollect touching anything out of the ordinary." The calm voice came from the device.
"If you sit, perhaps the device will lower itself so that I could grab it," Radek suggested.
Rodney rolled his eyes and put his hands on his hips. He looked Radek up and down.
"Yes, yes, I know. I am shorter than you," Radek agreed. "Then, sit on the floor."
Rodney flailed a bit more.
"That may be slightly uncomfortable," the voice said, faintly doubtful.
"Rodney. Sit." Radek pointed to the floor.
Rodney scrambled to sit on the lab floor. The device stayed definitely out of Radek's reach..
"Lie down?" Radek suggested.
With a huff, Rodney lay back on the floor. The device stayed where it was.
"Well, it was an idea." Radek shrugged.
"Unfortunately, the experiment did not work as we had hoped," the voice said, as Rodney climbed back to his feet.
"Where were you working?" Radek asked.
"I was in a location where I had hoped to work undisturbed," the voice replied as Rodney crossed his arms and tapped his toes.
Radek considered. That meant Rodney must have been working in his 'secret' lab and -- against Rodney's own protocols -- by himself. Making a decision, he touched his communicator. "Colonel Sheppard?"
Rodney shook his head, and waved his hands, and otherwise would be shouting something.
"Yes, some additional assistance may be a prudent move," the voice agreed.
"Dr. Z?" Sheppard's voice came over the comm.
"Dr. McKay and I seem to have a... situation and I was hoping you could help us?" Radek grinned.
"Anybody hurt?" Sheppard asked sharply.
"No, no, nothing like that. We're both unharmed," Radek assured him. "But... well, I think you have to see this."
"Then I need you to give me fifteen minutes, since it's not an emergency," Sheppard directed.
"That will be fine," Radek replied.
Rodney flailed some more and stamped his foot.
"We could schedule this for a different time," Rodney's voice suggested apologetically. "I wouldn't want to inconvenience anyone."
"I suspect Colonel Sheppard would like to know about this right away," Radek grinned.
Rodney turned to leave, and the door to the lab closed in front of him. Rodney glared at the door, then turned to point at Radek.
"I didn't do anything!" Radek held up his hands.
"My apologies. I did not mean to imply you caused that to happen," Rodney's voice came, soothingly.
Rodney paced while they waited, mouth moving and arms flailing. The little orb followed along dutifully, albeit silently.
Radek made himself as comfortable as he could, leaning back on the device he had been working on. He watched Rodney pace the few steps back and forth the small room would allow for.
It took almost thirty minutes before Colonel Sheppard turned up.
"Sorry, you said it wasn't an emergency!" John apologized as he entered the room.
Rodney made an abortive step toward the doors, which closed firmly in front of him.
John looked around and asked, "So. What's the problem?"
"I hope we have not inconvenienced you in the middle of the day," Rodney's voice offered, regretfully.
Rodney flailed and stamped a foot.
"I'm sure Dr. Zelenka could have figured this out by himself," the voice went on.
Rodney threw up his arms and turned red. At this point, his mouth was moving but the device was silent.
"What the fuck?" John stuttered.
"This is only a minor inconvenience," the voice replied. "There's no immediate danger to anyone."
Rodney jumped up and swung an arm into the air, the orb moving slightly to stay out of reach.
"Evidently, Rodney touched something he shouldn't have," Radek offered.
"I still think that is highly unlikely, but, to be fair, I must consider that an option." The voice had a doubtful tone.
At John's amazed face, Radek finally lost it. He started laughing.
Rodney pointed at Radek, and stamped his foot again.
"It is extremely impolite to laugh at a time like this," the voice chided.
Radek laughed harder.
A smile spread over John's face.
"Okay, it is funny," John allowed with a chuckle.
Rodney pointed at the device, and then at John.
"Oh, you're hoping I can turn it off?" John asked.
Rodney nodded violently.
"There is a slight chance your superior ATA gene may have an effect on the device," the voice said.
"It seems to have a... avoidance field or something," Radek offered. "It stayed clearly out of reach when I got Rodney to lay on the floor, to see if I could reach it for him."
"Then I doubt it will be that simple," John sighed. "Rodney, just to try it again, would you lie down?"
Rodney frowned but quickly got back down on the floor.
The device hung directly over him, just out of John's reach.
John swung a leg so he stood over Rodney, straddling his body. He stood on his toes, reaching up for the device.
Radek saw Rodney looking up the length of John's body, and not up at the device. Rodney had a good view of John from where he was lying.
"Would you be interested in an intimate evening with me?" Rodney's voice said.
Rodney's eyes opened wide in horror, and he slapped both hands over his mouth.
John stumbled in his hurry to move away from Rodney. Rodney pushed himself along the floor in the opposite direction.
They were on opposite sides of the small room, staring at each other in silence.
Radek held his breath. He had watched the two men dance about each other for years, and often wondered if either one would ever say anything.
"I hope I have not offended you," the voice went on smoothly. "But I suspect that experiencing coitus together will strengthen our relationship."
"Geez, Rodney!" John rubbed a hand on the back of his neck. But there seemed to be hope in his eyes.
"John?" The voice was soft. Rodney's real voice.
John looked hungrily at Rodney.
Radek decided that this was his chance to leave as discreetly as possible.
Interestingly enough, Rodney immediately took a long overdue vacation. He went to the mainland, taking advantage of the 'camp' they had built for off-duty relaxation.
And if Colonel Sheppard took some vacation at the same time, who was he to say anything?
Four days later, a very relaxed and slightly sunburnt Rodney stopped by Radek's lab. He dropped a small ball on the table.
"Turns out it's a... disciplinary device meant for teenagers," Rodney said faux-casually. "It's to teach them to listen to what they're really saying."
"Ah! And once the person's words match what they mean to say, the device then deactivates?" Radek replied.
"Seems to be something like that," Rodney confirmed.
"Have you turned it off?" Radek peered at the device without touching it.
"John...Colonel Sheppard took care of that," Rodney stuttered.
"You look rested," Radek said with a small grin. "And you're in a better mood. You should consider taking a few days off more often."
Rodney flushed under his sunburn. "I probably should. I do have a lot of time off coming. But there's too much to do..."
"Perhaps I should see if I can turn this back on?" Radek reached for the device.
Rodney grabbed the device. "Well, maybe I could take a day off... occasionally."