Summary: Wherein aliens don't make them do it, John loves ASCII, Carson hates everyone, Weir is highly amused, and Lorne's just trying to be a pal.
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Word Count: 4286
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, unbridled crack, unrepentant use of profanity, joyous mockery, unusual formatting, singing
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard, passing mentions of other pairings
A/N: This may be the longest standalone fic I have ever written, and isn't that just a bit sad? A few answers, before we begin: 1) Yes. 2) They failed it when they dropped Rodney during the trust fall. 3) A dollar seventy-five. 4) Swedish. 5) About twelve verses and one chorus, including the ones mentioned. 6) There was a dangerous build up of Phlebotinum. On account of the subroutines. 7) Lieutenant Cadman started it. 8) Because Amelia and Chuck are the only people on that domain. 9) John and Rodney, who else? 10) FCVC calling any interp seasonal at the Castle. 11) DADT? What DADT?
Myth: Aliens make them do it. Frequently.
In Atlantis, there were two lists of planets that were of paramount importance.
The first was a list of probable locations of ZPMs. The contents of this list changed rapidly, cobbled together from information from the database, tips from trading partners, Rodney's hunches, and blind luck. Visiting planets from this list was one of the top priorities of every gate team, and no effort was spared in seeking them out.
And then there was The Other List.
The Other List was pulled directly from the Ancient database. Its original name varied widely, depending on who was translating it. Dr. Weir referred to it as The Places We Do Not Go; consensus among the linguists was that it was closer to The Worlds That Are Not Clean; Rodney read it as The People Who Do The Bad Things.
John called it The Top Ten Pegasus Party Schools- but then, he didn't read Ancient, so his interpretation didn't really count.
The contents of The Other List had only ever been updated twice. Once, in their first year, they'd gone to one of the places on it. The list was just that- there was no accompanying text, other than the title, explaining what was wrong with those planets. They weren't Wraith outposts, and MALP readings showed that the three they picked at random had breathable atmospheres. What was so bad about going there that the Ancients apparently considered it too much to even write about?
The people of M4G-314 had been surprisingly nice. After several worlds where they'd been shot at on sight, it was almost like a vacation.
“There is a ceremony we require of our trading partners,” the chieftain told them over the feast that was held in their honor. “Nothing hard or dangerous- just an expression of mutual trust.”
“Sure,” Sheppard replied. They'd done all kinds of crazy stuff to get trading partners- fire-walking, moving big rocks around, drinking all manner of alcoholic and/or hallucinogenic beverages, even completing something that was suspiciously like a ropes course. “We'd be honored to have your trust.”
The chieftain looked extremely pleased at their willingness to proceed. He directed them to a small tent at the edge of the village, where a group of robed elders were waiting for them.
They entered the tent.
Four minutes later, they exited the tent.
“Everybody in the jumper, right goddamned now,” Sheppard announced, pulling his jacket back on.
“We are very sorry, but we cannot complete your ceremony,” Teyla informed the elders.
“What's wrong? How have we offended you?” the chieftain asked, following them.
“It's just that-” Ford tried, “well, just no. Hell no.”
McKay couldn't say anything; he was too busy looking terrified and clutching his computer like a teddy bear.
After that, a warning was added to the list. Dr. Weir worded it herself, with a diplomat's flair for discretion and doubletalk. It stayed up for half an hour before McKay, with the assistance of his lab crew, overwrote it with:
URGENT WARNING: DO NOT GO TO THESE PLANETS IF YOU VALUE YOUR ASS. YES, THAT STATEMENT IS MEANT LITERALLY.
in English, French, Ancient, German, Czech, Japanese, and Wraith.
The only time the list itself was ever modified was almost two years later.
“Add MG7-467 to the list,” Lorne announced when his team stepped through the gate. “And somebody get me a drink,” he muttered.
“Is it heavily guarded?” Sheppard asked, excited.
McKay looked as if he might jump up and down and clap his hands. “Did you get energy readings?”
“No,” Dr. Zelenka replied, giving his team leader a dark look. “No, that is not what I got at all.”
“Wrong list,” Lorne snapped, blushing and pointedly not looking at Zelenka.
Curiously, until they were ravaged by civil war several years later, MG7-467 remained one of Atlantis's most favored trading partners, a constant source of leather goods and something very like aspirin. Lorne said it was because Zelenka couldn't bear the thought of having gone through their rituals in vain; Zelenka said it was because it was Lorne's favorite planet.
Improbably, only one planet ever made it onto both lists at the same time.
“M3K-940,” McKay said, stabbing his finger into the display, making disturbing little ripple on the LCD. “We can leave by three, if we hurry.”
“I wouldn't ask anyone to risk it,” Weir warned finally, “but I do have to hope you'll consider it.”
“We'll talk about it,” Sheppard told her, and she gave him a nod.
“Right, right, yes,” McKay agreed. “We'll get back to you. Quickly.”
It was Sheppard who decided that it was not a conversation to be had sober.
“There's no way we can't go,” McKay said, opening his third Budweiser.
Teyla pushed back from the table slightly, crossing her arms. “You may go, but I certainly do not wish to accompany you.”
“Think of the opportunities!” he huffed.
“We are,” Ronon replied.
“Possibly not the same ones, however,” Teyla added graciously.
The scientist snorted in frustration. “I don't see what the problem is.”
“C'mon, McKay,” Sheppard said, taking a swig from his beer. “Would you take it up the ass for a ZPM?”
McKay looked at him suspiciously. “Are you coming on to me?”
He blinked. “I don't have a ZPM.”
“Yes!” McKay said emphatically, making wide gestures with his hands. “Of course I would! I'd do Colonel Caldwell if I had to. Or Kavanagh. Or Dr. Biro. Or Ronon. At the same time. For a whole day. It's a zero point module.”
“I wouldn't,” Ronon said.
Rodney shook his beer bottle at him disapprovingly. “And that is a failing of your character.”
“You weren't so eager back on M4G-314,” Sheppard reminded him.
“They didn't have a ZPM, either,” he scoffed. “They didn't even have any coffee. I'm not going to whore myself for lentils and starfruits.”
“But you'd whore yourself for a ZPM?” Ronon asked.
“And every last one of you, if I had to,” he confirmed. “I'd hold you down myself if that's what it took.”
“This is starting to sound less like a mission plan and more like your fantasy,” Teyla pointed out.
Rodney turned bright red and gulped his beer.
After many hours of debate, most of the beer from the last Daedalus run, and Sheppard's solemn and hilarious vow that he'd protect Ronon's virtue at all costs, they finally gave in.
“Still sure you want to do this?” Sheppard asked as they stood in front of the gate at 0900 the next morning.
“I have an automatic weapon and a vest full of Astroglide,” McKay told him. “I'm ready for pretty much anything.”
“If I had a nickel for every time I'd heard that one,” Sheppard said, stepping through before McKay could respond.
When they got there, M3K-940 was completely abandoned and destroyed, with no sign of a ZPM whatsoever.
While no one was looking, McKay cried.
Myth: In Atlantis, senior staff frequently drop everything to have sex on every available surface.
There's a common misconception that you can make time.
In actuality, work is like water, only worse; it expands to overflow, just slightly, its container. So, in Atlantis, where there were literally more hours in the day, there was a corresponding gain in the amount of work to be done, as well as the amount of minesweeper to be played, in an average day.
And so, it was no surprise that Rodney had been trying to get John's attention all day long.
He was already gone when Rodney woke up, but that wasn't surprising- he'd always gotten up at the ass crack of dawn to chase Ronon up and down the hallways, something Rodney was sure he'd never understand. It was a surprise, though, when he didn't turn up in the mess hall for breakfast.
“Did he not say he was taking a jumper out this morning?” Teyla asked when Rodney complained.
“Oh, right,” he said, feeling a little stupid. “He was going to do, um, that thing?”
“You need to keep better track of your boyfriend,” Ronon told him, shit-eating grin firmly in place.
Rodney almost protested, but he decided eating his toast was a better use of his time. It would only make Teyla talk at him about not denying his feelings and Ronon look even more smug.
John bounded into the staff meeting ten minutes late- looking breathless and excited and generally like he should be ravished immediately to some darkened corner and then, well, ravished- and bounded out again ten minutes early at some radio call on the military channel. There went Rodney's chance for grabbing a quick word with him after the meeting- not that he had anything to say, actually, just that, dammit, he wanted to talk to him, and what was wrong with that?
And of course, John hadn't shown up in the labs like he usually did, even though they had an appointment for Touching Ancient Things and Exchanging Significant Glances Hour, which was really for the good of the mission and possibly extremely important. Instead, Rodney had to suffer through Zelenka's Suggestive Comments Show, wherein Radek must have implied a relationship between the ability to turn on Ancient devices and the ability to turn Rodney on in no more than six different ways. Rodney put it down to sour grapes on Radek's part and tried not to look longingly at the door of the lab for more than five seconds at a time.
By noon, he'd been right on the verge of storming into John's office and reaming him out- either literally or figuratively, Rodney hadn't decided- for avoiding him; when he got there, though, John was obviously screaming at two extremely chagrined Marines, and Rodney didn't waste any time getting out of there.
He cut his losses and went down to lunch; of course, he barely had time to wolf down his first sandwich before Kusanagi and Kroeber dragged him off to the auxiliary control room, where- and he had no idea how- they had broken fucking everything, up to and including the coffee machine.
Oddly enough, he actually did end up seeing John when that happened- the life support system was thoroughly screwed, and he'd had to commandeer the entire military contingent to open every fucking window in Atlantis- but there wasn't a lot of time for an “stop feeding my insecurities/let's have sex later” conversation amid all the panicking and yelling.
It was hours before Rodney was able to stumble back to his own lab. He thought it must be some time after dinner, but there were some empty Luna Bar wrappers in his pocket- huh, he thought he'd banned those from his sight after the last time- so he must have eaten. He collapsed wearily in his chair, rubbing his temples. There was someone he had meant to talk to, wasn't there?
There was an untitled text file saved to his desktop that he hadn't put there. He opened it cautiously- but not before running a virus scan, because for all he knew it was some sort of Wraith trojan- but there were only three lines of text:
your room - 2100 :) :) 8===D ^ thats supposed to be a dick
Rodney didn't need either PhD to figure out who was responsible, though he did spare a moment to wonder exactly when and why he'd started sleeping with a sixth grader- and another moment to mock himself for feeling ridiculously cheered by such a silly gesture.
Shit, it was 2045 already- but miraculously, it appeared he was actually done with everything he'd meant to finish. He was just on the verge of announcing his triumphant departure when his radio squawked. “McKay, Zelenka, come in.”
“Go ahead,” Rodney answered.
“There's a problem in the water treatment plant,” Kavanagh said breathlessly. “It's the desalinization tanks again.”
Rodney sighed in annoyance. “Why is it always the tanks?”
“They do break down significantly more often than anything else,” Radek informed him. “We're looking into it.”
“Tank 3 has exploded!” Kavanagh shouted over the radio.
“Don't be an ass,” Rodney said, crossing his arms over his chest. “That's not even possible.”
Radek's eyes got wide. “Unless we-”
He shook his head. “We wouldn't have been so-”
“We didn't break the-”
“Unless you didn't change the-”
“You were supposed to-”
“Oh fuck, we-” Rodney tapped his earpiece. “Get everybody out of there right now! We're on our way- McKay out.”
There was a starfish in his pocket.
At least, it looked kinda like a starfish. It was tangled up in yet another Luna Bar wrapper- where did he keep getting these things?- but it looked otherwise unharmed. He pitched it out an open window on his way back to the residential area
Stupid fucking desalinization tanks, he thought to himself. Stupid fucking ocean.
It seemed to take ages to drag his weary ass back to his quarters. He seriously considered giving up and sleeping in the hallway at least twice, but he did finally make it, waving the door open and preparing to crash into his bed.
Except that John was in it, stretched out on his sheets, face down, without a stitch of clothing on.
Suddenly, Rodney didn't feel quite so tired.
He slipped out of his still damp uniform, throwing it haphazardly on top of the pile that was developing next to his dresser.
“Mrph,” John said when Rodney sat down next to him.
“You stayed?” Rodney asked
John didn't take his face out of the pillow. “Un-hmm.”
He carded his fingers through John's hair. “You awake?”
The considerate thing to do, Rodney was certain, was to nudge John over and fall asleep next to him. It didn't sound that bad, actually- but dammit, he'd been waiting all goddamned day.
Rodney had a better idea.
“You've been waiting for me, haven't you?” he said, lowering his voice.
“Mmm,” John replied.
“Laying here thinking about it all night, wanting me to come home and take you.”
“Mmph,” he said, in what might be agreement.
He just barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes, but he pressed on anyway. “Do you know how long I've been thinking about this?” Rodney growled into his ear, running a possessive hand down his back. “I'm going to fuck you until you can't even walk.”
“That's nice, baby,” John muttered, turning his head. “Wake me up before you come, 'kay?”
Rodney gave up and jerked off in the shower.
Myth: No one in Atlantis cares about Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
“I thought we'd lost you,” Sheppard told him, taking the jumper through pre-flight with practiced fluency.
“I did too,” McKay said quietly.
Sheppard turned in his chair to face him. “I don't know if I could handle- now-” he stammered.
“John,” McKay replied, his hand on Sheppard's knee.
Sheppard suddenly realized that they were very close together, that if he only leaned forward-
Soft singing derailed Sheppard's train of thought. “Camptown ladies sing this song, doo dah, doo dah, Camptown racetrack five miles long...”
When Sheppard turned around to look, Major Lorne was facing the back of the jumper, his fingers resolutely in his ears.
“Plausible deniability, sir,” Lorne replied loudly, not turning around.
He blinked. “What?”
“Public Law 103-160, Colonel Sheppard, sir,” he responded before launching into the chorus.
Sheppard couldn't decide if he was more offended or touched. “Thank you, Major.”
“Don't mention it, sir,” he said. “Really, y'know- don't.”
"Okay,” Sheppard replied uneasily. “Let's go home.”
Unfortunately, it turned out not to be an isolated occurrence.
“Two World Wars and one World Cup,” Adey, who was on loan from the RAF, sang tonelessly when McKay rushed into the middle of a military briefing and wordlessly dragged Sheppard away.
“We are going to the gateroom,” Sheppard announced, sticking his head back in the door. “As friends.”
“Jag ser mig som miljardär, du då? du då?,” Zelenka crooned into his laptop when John showed up at the lab in the middle of the night.
“That's not even Czech!” McKay complained.
He shrugged. “I don't know it in Czech. I am not allowed to know other languages?”
“I could come all night, I could come all day,” Cadman sang merrily when she happened upon them half-clothed in the jumper bay.
“Rodney, get a hold of yourself,” Sheppard said loudly, slapping him in the face.
“Oh no,” McKay replied, sounding like he was reading from a script. “The people of MK1-510 must have taken control of my brain and made me undress you. I had better go to the infirmary right away.”
“I should escort him,” the colonel said seriously.
“You guys are hopeless,” she told them quietly, trying not to laugh.
But things really reached a head on a routine trading mission.
“Who's the Satedan Superman?” Lorne and Fischer sang. “Ronon, Ronon!”
“If he can't kill it, no one can,” Ronon added.
“We weren't even doing anything that time!” McKay protested. “We're five feet apart!”
Lorne shrugged. “Force of habit.”
“Isn't it a little egotistical to be singing about yourself?” Sheppard asked.
“It's really catchy,” Ronon told him, grinning.
As it turned out, there were enough verses about Atlantis personnel to last for the entirety of the five hour walk back to the gate. By the time they got to “Who beats people with a stick? Teyla, Teyla!”, McKay was just about to go out of his mind.
“Okay, that's enough,” he snapped. “'Gay' does not rhyme with 'Wraith', Zelenka definitely never killed a bear, and you people are getting on my last damn nerve!”
“Sorry, doc,” Lorne said, with absolutely no contrition in his voice.
After that, an official looking proclamation appeared in the mess hall, warning all personnel that producing any variation of the melody to “Gwine to Run All Night” while on duty was strictly forbidden.
Miller sang “The Song That Never Ends” for twenty minutes straight as he flew McKay and Sheppard to the mainland for a week's “reconnaissance.”
“All right, all right, you can have your stupid song back,” Sheppard said miserably.
“We're really bad at that whole secrecy thing, aren't we?” McKay asked.
Sheppard slapped him on the back of the head.
Myth: The Atlantis crew is composed of highly focused, extremely serious personnel.
To: Atlantis ALL, Athos ALL, Sateda ALL
CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: URGENT: Disease Rumours
It has come to my attention that there have been rumours of an outbreak here in the City, and I just wanted to make it clear that there is no cause for alarm.
There is no such malady as “Satedan humping sickness.” This disease is entirely fictitious. The list of symptoms has been proposed as follows:
-increased desire for physical touch, aka “skin hunger”
-feelings of claustrophobia/agoraphobia
I would like to remind you that these are all well-documented side effects of working in a high stress environment. Experiencing any or all of these symptoms is perfectly normal. If you feel your daily life is being affected, please stop by and visit me; you can also make an appointment with Dr. Heightmeyer by email or in person (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Anyone who offers to cure Satedan humping sickness for or with money, sexual congress, or foodstuffs should be reported to Major Lorne or the security officer on duty immediately.
Have a lovely day!
Dr. Carson Beckett, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Officer
To: email@example.com, Atlantis ALL, Athos ALL, Sateda ALL
Subject: Re: URGENT: Disease Rumours
you cant prove it was me also i know where you sleep
To: Atlantis SCI, Atlantis MIL, Atlantis GATE, Atlantis ADMIN, Sateda ALL
Subject: URGENT: Disregard Previous Message
Ignore that last, luv. The Satedan humping sickness is eatin at me brains. Och!
Remember: people denying the existence of Satedan humping sickness may have Satedan humping sickness themselves.
Top o' the mornin',
Attachments (1): hello.jpg
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: URGENT: Disregard Previous Message
That's really not very funny. This is serious business.
PS: And you should have known I was on the admin mailing list, you made the damn things.
PPS: I'm SCOTTISH, you bastards. You didn't have to make me sound like a bloody leprechaun.
Subject: Returned Mail: see transcript for details
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
(reason: 550 5.1.1 User unknown: maybe you should learn to spell)
Subject: (no subject)
I hate you.
Subject: Re: (no subject)
Fact: No one on Atlantis knows the first thing about radio protocol.
Being such a small base in the middle of nowhere, people quickly unlearned how to talk on the radio. When “Yo, Evan, can I talk to you for a minute?” worked as well as “Any 337, 785 remote, do you copy?”, what was the point? It wasn't as if the scanner committee was listening in. And if Rodney really had answered every radio call with “Fuck you” for a solid thirty-six hours after the Siege of Atlantis, regardless of the channel- which had still not been conclusively proven- what was the harm?
This lax attitude served them well- as long as they used Earth-produced radio equipment; however, when Radek and Chuck finally got Atlantis's original communication systems up to full strength, they were completely unprepared for what happened.
"All stations, all units, please stand by for the morning report," Dr. Beckett's voice squawked from the comm box next to John's bed.
"What the hell time is it?" Rodney said, startled into sitting up.
"6:35, I suppose," John replied, yawning.
"Why must we go through this farce every morning?" he complained, falling back into bed. "'Attention, all personnel: today in Atlantis, the weather will be exactly like it was yesterday, only slightly more so. In the morning, the ocean will be a frankly suspicious shade of blue-'"
"-while in the afternoon, it will reflect the sun into your eyes, no matter what angle you look at it from," John added. "All units are advised that this will be a huge pain in the ass."
"All stations, all units, this is the, er, official Atlantis morning report. The high temperature will be 71 degrees Fahrenheit, 22 degrees Centigrade, with a low tonight of, um, 50 degrees Centigrade, 10 degrees Fahrenheit- oh bloody- break," Carson continued, sounding flustered.
"Wonder what got into him?" Rodney wondered aloud.
"I'm pretty sure I know what's about to get into you," John replied, pulling him closer and sliding Rodney's leg between his own.
He rolled his eyes. "That is the single worst come on-" John grinned at that- "I mean, pick up line ever attempted."
"What would you prefer? 'All hands, urgent message, please be advised that Dr. McKay will be unavailable until 1300, as Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard will be repeatedly banging him.'"
Rodney pulled a face. “Do you have to call it banging?”
“Would you rather be ravished?”
"There's no telling what kind of crisis could happen if we stay in bed all day," he protested. "What if the Wraith were to show up?"
"They don't know the first thing about banging," John answered easily, biting his earlobe.
He sighed, giving up. "You realize you're holding back the progress of science?"
"Funny, I'm usually not real good at holding back," John replied.
Rodney opened his mouth for a comeback, but the communicator came back on suddenly. "This is Dr. Weir."
"She didn't say 'all stations, all units'," John complained mockingly. "How can we know if she's serious?"
"Thank you, Colonel Sheppard. All stations, all units, this is Dr. Weir."
Rodney had never actually seen someone's eyes bug out the way John's did at that moment- though he almost missed it, because he was too busy trying to mentally convince Atlantis to swallow him whole.
"We'd like to remind you that despite the many great advancements of the Ancients, they do not appear to have developed a sense of humor. To this end, all personnel are advised to avoid using phrases like 'attention all personnel' and 'urgent message' while in proximity to a communications unit. If this is not possible, please disable all communications equipment located in personal quarters. If you need any assistance in doing so, Dr. McKay will be happy to help you at any time- after 1300 today. End transmission."
"I'm never leaving this room again," Rodney moaned.
“I'm going to put in for a transfer,” John said, climbing out of bed, “to the center of the sun.”
“Where are you going?” he asked frantically, clutching at John's arm. “You can't abandon me in my darkest hour!”
“I'm getting a screwdriver, and you're gonna take that stupid communicator apart.”
“Forget that,” Rodney replied. “Bring your gun.”
John almost protested.
But then he figured that damn thing deserved it.