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25 July 2007 @ 09:28 pm
SGA fic: Precautionary Measures (R)  
SGA Fic: Precautionary Measures
McKay/Sheppard, R, 3477 words
The world has gone mad and it's up to Rodney McKay to fix it. Same old, same old.



My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love
But my mind holds the key

(the Arcade Fire)


"I NEED EYELASH CURLERS!"

The yell reverberated around the control room, making the millenia-old, Ancient-crafted glass in the windows suddenly look as fragile as a damaged-in-transit wine cooler from Pottery Barn. Rodney hypothesised that this was due to the fact that Dr Weir had her hand practically welded to the tannoy button. His theory fell down slightly because of the look on Dr Weir's face. It suggested that she'd suddenly developed enough lung capacity to yell down not just Atlantis but the houses of the three little pigs as well, up to and including the stone one. Rodney had seen that look on other women's faces. Bringing up their 'less than biologically sound' reproductive systems usually did the trick. It also meant that Rodney had been ejected from more dates than he'd eaten hot dinners on. However, to the best of his knowledge he'd never dated Dr Weir - he was sure he'd have remembered the bite marks - or remarked negatively upon her menstrual cycle, however sorely he was tempted.

"I NEED EYELASH CURLERS AND I NEED THEM NOW!"

Rodney ventured closer to his moral and technical, if not intellectual, superior. He hadn't seen Weir since they'd come back from the last mission to Ghijat. Ghijat was a colony located on a tropical island in the middle of a vast periwinkle-blue ocean, which had sent Sheppard into a tailspin of pseudo-religious rapture - something about breakers and warm notherly currents, Rodney wasn't entirely sure. He thought geography was for those fake scientists who weren't smart enough to do medicine.

Weir had come through the gate looking abstracted, and dashed off to her quarters muttering about her hair getting fuzzy. At the time Rodney hadn't noticed, beyond hoping she hadn't picked up something communicable, then deciding he hoped she had so Beckett would get into a tizzy and start speaking speed-of-light Scottish. He called it English, but Rodney was Canadian enough to know better.

Weir grabbed Rodney by the shoulders and shook him. She didn't have a whole hell of lot of upper body strength, but then again neither did Rodney - theorems weren't what you'd call heavy duty lifting - so they kind of rocked back and forth for a minute while Rodney tried to process what Weir was saying, and identify the odd smell in the air.

"You have one, don't you?" she was saying breathlessly, her voice pitched higher than Rodney had ever heard it, not even when guns pointing at her were involved. "You're holding out on me! No one gets eyelashes like yours naturally!"

"I'm sorry that you appear to have gone temporarily insane, but you need to calm down so I can figure out why." Rodney tried to pry himself loose. Weir's fingernails were suddenly an inch longer and bright scarlet. Rodney could see that the hair around her face, although darkened by water, was clearly in the same colour spectrum. At the same moment he identified the smell: it was ammonia. Lots of ammonia.

"I'm not insane, I'm just having a make-up crisis!" snapped Weir. "Don't you know that you can't apply mascara correctly without first curling your eyelashes using an eyelash curler?"

"Actually, I was unaware of that fact, but I will certainly make a note of it for future reference -"

"RODNEY!" howled Weir. "I need eyelash curlers! Find me some eyelash curlers!"

"Sure thing, generalissimo Weir. Your wish is my command. In fact -" Rodney was hit with a bolt of passing the buck inspiration "- I'll get Sheppard on the case."

Weir was panting heavily, her nails still digging trenches in Rodney's arm. Her eyes lit up. "Yes! Yes! That's an excellent idea."

Rodney hadn't expected her to be that enthusiastic. "It is?"

"Of course! I've never seen such gravity-defying hair before. A man who uses that much gel must own an eyelash curler."

"I'm sure there's a snag in that reasoning," muttered Rodney. But the key fact was that Weir was releasing him, so he made like a deciduous tree and left.

As he passed out into the corridor leading to the transporter, he saw Ford huddled beneath a desk. He was sucking his thumb, and tears were gushing down his face. Rodney halted in shock.

"Ford? Are you dying?"

In reply Ford pulled down his cap, apparently trying to haul it over his chin, and sucked harder. It sounded like he was masticating his own finger.

"Ford, get a grip, will you? There's something wrong with Dr Weir, and I need Sheppard's help. Do you know where he is?"

Ford's shoulders began to shake. "Don't yell at me!"

"Ford," said Rodney, thoroughly exasperated, "that wasn't me yelling at you. I could certainly begin yelling at you so you can appreciate the essential difference between the two decibel levels I can produce, but in the interests of not wasting any more of my damn time could you just tell me where Sheppard is?"

"I want my mommy!" bawled Ford. He buried his head between his knees and started yanking at his own ears. Rodney quashed a strong urge to join in. And there he was thinking Ford was the well-adjusted one in the group.

Rodney stood looking at him in consternation for a second. Considering his track record in making women insane and children cry, he was starting to wonder if he was inadvertently the one behind this strange behaviour.

His radio crackled, and Beckett's voice came down the line. "Rodney, I think there's something wrong with Sheppard. He came into the lab and asked me if his butt looked big in his combats. Then he burst into tears and ran out again."

"He burst into tears because he asked a question?" repeated Rodney suspiciously. "That's pushing the borders of irrationality, even for him."

"I might have told him it did," said Beckett's voice. If a radiowave could have looked sheepish, his would have. "It's only the truth!"

"Sheppard does not have a big butt!" said Rodney. He then gave himself a mental kick in the head. Fortunately Beckett was still rambling on and hadn't heard him.

"I radio'ed Weir and do you know what she said? That I was an insensitive chauvinistic jerk! And that I had no colour co-ordinating skills whatsoever. What does that mean? I wear a white coat practically twenty-four hours a day. What am I supposed to do, jazz it up a little with some blood and guts accessorisation?"

"Ford is acting strangely too. It's clear that the Ghijatians poisoned us in some way," said Rodney. "Probably unwittingly, but you never know with aliens."

"You do realise that, to them, we are the aliens?"

"Exactly, which is why you never know." Rodney sighed in exasperation. Doctors. They thought they were so clever, with their scalpels and their Hippocratic Oath. "Do you have any idea where Sheppard went? And for that matter, have you seen Teyla? God knows how this poison's affected her."

With what Rodney considered to be an unnecessary application of sarcasm, Beckett said, "Well, you never know with aliens."

Twelve hours earlier

The natives descended upon the team almost before Rodney had got a chance to wave around any equipment, which was pathetically keen in Rodney's opinion. The Ghijatians didn't have much to trade besides seashell jewellery and coconut milk, but the island was undeniably beautiful. Even Weir, who'd come along to supervise Sheppard, looked rather wistful.

The Ghijatians immediately invited them to partake of a meal held in their honour. They didn't seem to live in much fear of culling or harbour megalomaniac ambitions to be the scourge of the Wraith, but Rodney was willing to bet their flowery muu-muus transformed into machine guns at the drop of a coconut. You never knew with aliens.

Rodney insisted on exploring the island before the meal. Sheppard went with him, leaving Teyla, Weir and a delighted Ford to sample the island's finest tropical beverages. Rodney and Sheppard had only been walking a little way when Sheppard kicked up some sand from a dune, and suddenly they were both enveloped in fine yellow dust. Despite the pretty colour of the beach, the sand wasn't actually the shade of a kid's drawing. Rodney, once he'd finished coughing up his respiratory apparatus, discovered that in fact Sheppard had loosened the pollen pods from tufts of seagrass. The grass was so short it was obscured by the sand. The dunes were formed by the effects of wind heaping sand over bushes of seagrass. In fact, Rodney didn't know the precise taxonomy of the plant, but he wasn't about to let Ford name it or it would end up as mystical waving stuff or something.

The pollen clung tenaciously, and the sight of Rodney and Sheppard looking like Big Bird on a bad hair day provided much mirth for the three remaining Atlanteans when they returned. Ford especially had been imbibing oil wine like there was no tomorrow, despite the fact that he was ostensibly on duty and ostensibly prepared at a moment's notice to lay down his life in the defense of the free world, or at least the part of it that contained Sheppard's team. He currently looked unable even to defend himself against the raging hangover in his near future.

Some girls in skimpy muu-muus had come forward to brush them down with spiky brushes that looked like they'd once been a plant. Rodney couldn't deny that their tactile treatment had been very welcome, not to mention efficient. Only a few grains remained stuck in Sheppard's hair as they assembled in front of the stargate...

Thirteen hours later

Rodney had scoured the living quarters for Sheppard without catching so much as a whiff of his aftershave. Rodney was growing more and more frustrated, so he very nearly hugged Teyla when she stormed down a corridor in his direction. Even through his abject relief Rodney could tell there was something twisted and wrong with Teyla's perpetually placid expression. She actually looked angry - not just mildly irritated or haughtily indignant, but brimming with real, honest-to-goodness rage.

"Teyla," Rodney began, "have you seen -"

"Don't speak to me, you stupid little man!" shouted Teyla. "I don't want to talk to you, I don't want to see you, and I don't want you near me ever again!"

"Seriously, did we accidentally date without my realising it?" asked Rodney, caught in his fascination like a snake in front of a little man with a turban and a pipe. Except that of the two of them, Teyla looked far more inclined to bite.

She released an incoherent gargle of fury and shouldered him out of the way. Unlike Weir, she was packing some serious girl-muscle and Rodney stumbled against the wall. He didn't intend to hit against the keypad he hadn't known was there, but considering that Sheppard was behind the sliding door maybe it was all part of the great cosmic plan. The one that ended with Rodney winning a sackful of Nobel Prizes and retiring to the scientific equivalent of the Playboy Mansion, with girls in white coats instead of bunny ears. Rodney had invested a lot in the great cosmic plan, which he'd be able to prove the actual existence of really soon - sooner if he didn't keep having to save everyone from imminent destruction - but he could have done without seeing the part where Sheppard was frantically backcombing his hair.

"What are you doing?" demanded Rodney. He screwed up his face to convey his incalculable scorn. That's what it was now, anyway. In the beginning he'd winced at the unexpected helix his stomach mutated into on coming face-to-face with Sheppard. Now it was just a bad, albeit useful, habit. It glanced off Sheppard, of course; people either scowled or simpered at him, he didn't have any HR middle gears.

"My hair!" said Sheppard, sounding frantic. "I think it's gone flat. It's gone flat, hasn't it?"

Rodney unwillingly inspected Sheppard's hair. It was as magnificent, and as reminiscent of a cockatoo's ruff, as ever. "No, I think we can safely state that whatever else your hair is, flat is not it."

"Really?" Sheppard looked up, biting his lip, but with eyes shining with hope. He tucked the comb into a pocket of his gilet. Rodney briefly noted that the comb was pink. He hadn't thought pink combs even existed, let along on Atlantis. Rodney would not have classified grooming materials as 'essential' in any way, shape or form, and pink ones even less so.

"Really," said Rodney firmly. "I think the Ghijitians -"

"They're a great people, aren't they?" interrupted Sheppard. "Really interesting sartorial choices. I've often wished the army uniform was a bit more fluid, you know? It doesn't leave much room for self-expression, if you know what I mean. And bullet vests are so unflattering."

"Yes, that has regularly been noted as a critical design flaw," said Rodney, with manic cheerfulness. They'd all lost their minds, everyone except -

Rodney felt his brain start to melt, in a pleasurably fuzzy way. He was only peripherally aware of himself saying, in a strangled voice, "Oh, how cute! Isn't he bwootiful? Aww, he's so gorgeous! Who's gorgeous? You're gorgeous! Yes you are! Yes you are!"

"Er, Rodney?" Sheppard's voice sounded a long way off. "Who are you talking to?"

Rodney ignored him and divebombed the bed, wrapping his arms around the pillow and clutching it to himself. The rational part of his brain wasn't surprised that the kitten on the photoprint didn't start purring, because even if it were alive Rodney would be squashing it to death, but the Sane and Normal Alliance was currently being ambushed, overpowered and brutally slaughtered by the 'Aren't Kittens Just Darling?' faction.

"Rodney!" Sheppard was shaking his shoulder. "You are so going to crumple your shirt if you're not careful."

This was enough to momentarily snap Rodney out of his slavish adoration. "Why do you care about my shirt? I don't care about my shirt, and it's my shirt."

"Rumpled clothing is never fashionable," Sheppard informed him solemnly, "unless it's a component of a global 'just got out of bed' look, and currently you just look messy."

"That's it." Rodney reluctantly relinquished the pillow, taking in the nametag and the fact that they'd both invaded the bedroom of Jennifer Li. That at least explained the pink comb. "I think you and I need to pay a visit to Dr Beckett."

"Oh, that man." Sheppard slapped his own cheek in a way that made Rodney's eyes bug. "He is such a pattern abuser."

"Among other things," muttered Rodney.

Two hours later

"Just as I suspected - it was the Ghijatians who did this," said Rodney triumphantly. He stabbed an accusing finger at the Petri dish.

Beckett yanked back the EM. "Technically it's not. The antigens are part of their natural ecosystem - certainly not something they purposely created."

"Like I said, it was the Ghijatians who did this," said Rodney. He beamed beatifically at Dr Weir, who appeared to be horrified by her cuticles. Sheppard was trying to look at his back reflection in an LSD monitor, Ford's mouth was still plugged with his thumb and Teyla had refused to be part of the conference. At the top of her lungs.

"As far as I can tell, this is a short-lived virus," said Beckett. He was talking through clenched teeth. Rodney wondered if it were some weird Scottish custom. "They appeared to be already dying in the blood and tissue samples I took from all of you. I'd say they do their maturation and reproduction in the environment of Ghijati and are transmitted almost dead to the population through the air, food and water. The Ghijatians probably developed antibodies against them long ago."

Rodney was the least afflicted of the lot, because cat motifs were in short supply among Ancient interior decor. "Can you explain the strange effects?"

"From the way you're all acting, the antigens are definitely interfering with your limbic systems." Beckett shrugged. "Without performing a brain biopsy I can't tell if they have the most affinity for the hippocampus, amygdala or hypothalamus, or all three. In any case, I doubt it will be necessary to discover which it is. If the samples are anything to go by, the effects will wear off in a few hours - days at most."

"If I'd wanted a diagnosis I would have asked for one." Rodney raised his eyes to the ceiling. "We can't be suffering from the same disease. Ford's got mommy-need, Teyla's a prime candidate for anger management, Dr Weir has turned into a cheerleader and Sheppard -" Rodney hesitated "- well, he's acting gay."

"You are suffering from the same disease," insisted Beckett, with the pugnacious obstinacy that Rodney didn't doubt made him known and loved in all circles of his profession. "It's just manifesting itself differently. Look, no one with brain abnormalities presents the same as another person with brain abnormalities. Not to mention that we're dealing with alien bugs. From what I can tell, they've unlocked the things you all fear or hate most about yourselves."

"That makes no sense - I love cats," scoffed Rodney. Beckett raised his eyebrows.

"To the point of worship? And need? And as a replacement for real human relationships? I'd be afraid of being that screwed up."

"Well, no one asked you." Rodney narrowed his eyes as he surveyed the rest of the team. So were these the feelings they didn't want to show? Weir really cared about her appearance, in spite of dressing like a blind astronaut. Teyla was afraid of losing her temper, Ford of showing his fear. And Sheppard? What the hell was that?

"Maybe we'd better confine ourselves to our quarters until this passes," said Rodney quietly.

"Do you want me to send an envoy to the Ghijatians to see if they still suffer these side-effects?"

Rodney shook his head. "Not until we're sure exactly what these antigens are going to do to us. No sense in exposing more people to potential danger."

Beckett nodded. "That makes sense."

Laying on his bed later, alone, Rodney reflected sourly that it was the only thing that did.

Three hours later

A sharp knock roused Rodney from a light doze. "Rodney?" It was Sheppard's voice.

Rodney rubbed his eyes and straightened his shirt, in case the sight of wrinkles should throw Sheppard into a Queer Eye freakout again. "What do you want?" he yawned, as Sheppard seated himself familiarly on the bed.

"Has it worn off yet for you?"

"I don't know - there are no cats in here," Rodney pointed out.

"You mean to say you don't keep a picture of your pet cat in here?" Sheppard raised his eyebrows.

"Huh." Rodney fished under his mattress and held out his one personal item at arm's length. Milo looked as adorable as ever and Rodney felt the familiar twist of nostalgia, but nothing stronger than that. "No! I think it's gone."

"Can I test it out too?"

"I don't have a mirror in here either," said Rodney. "But by all means use one of my spoons if you must."

"I wasn't thinking of testing it like that," said Sheppard, with a small smile that drove straight into Rodney's internal helix and uncoiled it. Rodney, who after all was quicker on the uptake than a duck with a very quick uptake, opened his mouth to protest and found it only made Sheppard's job easier.

Sheppard's lips were firm and surprisingly cool. One of his hands cupped Rodney's head to hold him still while Sheppard kissed him, long and slow and painfully gentle. Then, in a swift move he probably learned in military school - but then again, maybe not - he had Rodney on his back, his hard heavy weight pinning Rodney to the bed. Imminent suffocation was not uppermost on Rodney's mind, because he could feel Sheppard's dick stirring against his thigh as Sheppard started flicking his tongue along Rodney's lower lip. Sheppard rolled a little, and that was definitely not something you learned in military school, because his fingers were as cool as his lips and, oh, that was probably worthy of a court martial -

"Yep," said Sheppard, sitting back and wiping his mouth. His wrist came away glossy. "The antigens have left the building."

"So, what the hell was that?" said Rodney crossly. A five-second kiss would have sufficed to ascertain their medical status, not a five-minute - scratch that; a half-hour - one.

Sheppard's eyes were limpid as he assembled his innocent face. "I would have thought a scientist would know all about careful and methodical research." And his hand was still on Rodney's thigh.

"I ... do," said Rodney. He carefully put his hand over Sheppard's and moved it up and to the left. Sheppard made a noise that was half laugh, half moan, and wholly appreciative. "Extensive careful and methodical research."

After all, you never knew, with aliens.

end
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...: [SGA] Awwchowburger on July 25th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
Right, since when are you an SGA fan and how did I manage to miss the fact? 'Fess up!

Also, this - "...the scientific equivalent of the Playboy Mansion, with girls in white coats instead of bunny ears." - made me laugh wayyyyyyyyy too much.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: SGA: met his matchscoradh on July 26th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
Since about a week. :D I bought S1 a year ago and abandoned it in disgust after the Rising. I got bored enough this summer to have another go ... Sheppard went from 'not even hot' to 'cutest man on the planet/s' and I fell in love with Rodney. What can I say, I'm easy.

lol, glad you liked! ♥
...: [SGA] Rodney's brain...chowburger on July 28th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
I only got into it a couple of weeks ago, too, after a long time going, 'What is this "Stargate" of which everyone speaks? Why is everyone so insane about it? It's... kind of shit.' But then I got into SG-1, and realised that it was HOLYGOODOMG, and then spent another while thinking Atlantis was some crazy crappy spin-off. But now I'm halfway through season three, and it's all good.
Better than good, actually. And the fic... The combined talent of the SGA fandom kind of leaves me gaping in front of my computer screen.
Mmm... Rodney and Sheppard's hair...
trying to find once upon a timeattempt_unique on July 26th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
This fic is cute. I love the pink comb and Rodney's fear of cats.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Rodney: I like foodscoradh on July 26th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Serious =/= my metier. :D
lovbricklovbrick on July 28th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
Oh, holy crap. I came to your journal for post-DH goodness, and I found SGA. I'm in love.

Can I add you to my friends list?

"I don't have a mirror in here either," said Rodney. "But by all means use one of my spoons if you must."

I loved that line, by the way.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Blue kissscoradh on July 29th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
I'm always glad to see some cross-fandom action. :D

Of course, and thanks!
jehnt: sga - atlantis - shinyjehnt on August 19th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
yell down not just Atlantis but the houses of the three little pigs as well, up to and including the stone one

This line makes me giggle like mad.

Rodney ventured closer to his moral and technical, if not intellectual, superior.

Trust Rodney to make that distinction.

I could certainly begin yelling at you so you can appreciate the essential difference between the two decibel levels I can produce

lolololololol. lol.

Rodney was willing to bet their flowery muu-muus transformed into machine guns at the drop of a coconut.

What, best outfits EVER.

The pollen clung tenaciously, and the sight of Rodney and Sheppard looking like Big Bird on a bad hair day provided much mirth for the three remaining Atlanteans when they returned.

Big Bird on a bad hair day. BRILLIANT.

He didn't intend to hit against the keypad he hadn't known was there, but considering that Sheppard was behind the sliding door maybe it was all part of the great cosmic plan. The one that ended with Rodney winning a sackful of Nobel Prizes and retiring to the scientific equivalent of the Playboy Mansion, with girls in white coats instead of bunny ears. Rodney had invested a lot in the great cosmic plan, which he'd be able to prove the actual existence of really soon - sooner if he didn't keep having to save everyone from imminent destruction - but he could have done without seeing the part where Sheppard was frantically backcombing his hair.

I like this whole paragraph. I feel compelled to quote everything I particularly like.

Rodney unwillingly inspected Sheppard's hair. It was as magnificent, and as reminiscent of a cockatoo's ruff, as ever.

Seriously, your imagery is so on-target yet unexpected that it just kills me.

"I wasn't thinking of testing it like that," said Sheppard

Honestly, for all that Sheppard was acting gay and Rodney was crushing on him, I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING. *excitement*

And his hand was still on Rodney's thigh.

Oh, John.

This fic is adorable. As always, the things I love most are the great characterization and the subtle absurdities strewn throughout.
jehnt: sga - ronon - facepalmjehnt on August 19th, 2007 12:19 pm (UTC)
To correct the ambiguity in that last sentence: The great characterization is not strewn throughout. It's consistent. It's the subtle absurdities that just pop up every now and then.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on August 19th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
It's odd, I often get accused (and I use the word most loosely) of writing crack where crack is not. Like May Contain Nuts - the amount of people who said 'I don't usually read crack, but ..." I don't know how or why this happens. >.>
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: SGA: foreplayscoradh on August 19th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
AH! See, this is why I wish I could get bunnied in this fandom. I think it's the television element - at least with books, I could always keep up. And, well, canon changes every week. I'm so not used to that. I mean, this has Ford in it. From one day to the next - when I watched S2 - Ford stopped being an element in that timespace, so this is automatically dated when in fact it was supposed to be a dateless piece.

Damn, I wish I could get the hang of this.

On the other hand - big fandom - lots to read!!

Anyway. Thank you. ♥
K. Takefutago_02 on July 6th, 2008 09:59 am (UTC)
I apologize, i DID read this a while ago but i am commenting now... :) i love this fic. :) it cracks me up, with all the special interactions. :) if only rodney hadn't been defeated by cats, he could have sat back and laughed at everyone else. And i love your background, by the way, nice colors and shapes!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: treesscoradh on July 6th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And the layout is from the lj customising thinger - if you browse for a while you should probably find it. :D
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: treesscoradh on July 6th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And the layout is from the lj customising thinger - if you browse for a while you should probably find it. :D