Title: A Moment of Clarity
Genre: humor with a touch of McShep slash
Word count: ~ 3900
Spoilers: anything up through season 5
Author Notes: Yes, it's silly. I know it's silly, but what could I do with a prompt like that?
Summary: What Rodney couldn’t remember was how he'd ended up in the back of the Jumper along with stacks of wooden crates, with his wrists and ankles bound by duct tape, his throat sore, and his head pounding.
A Moment of Clarity
Rodney woke to the sound of snickering for the second time that night. The first time had been on P8X-977 as he slept in the small hut he was supposed to be sharing with Sheppard and Ronon. It had been the latter whom had awakened him with his stifled laughter while the former shushed the Satedan between his own sputters of glee. Rodney had rolled over to turn his back to the door with a sigh of annoyance, not so much because the two men were obviously drunk, but because he had not been allowed to partake in the evening’s debauchery in the warrior’s tent like his two teammates had.
The local population on the planet was a highly segregated one, not only by gender, but by vocation, as well. Single men and women were not allowed to congregate together unless it was at a tribal assembly. Beyond that, warriors were allotted their own tent for evening gatherings, as were shaman, farmers, fishermen, and so forth. Teyla had politely and diplomatically joined the mother’s tent, which is where most married women gathered while their husbands congregated in the tent of their tradesmen. Sheppard and Ronon had been invited to join the warriors, and Rodney, for all practical purposes, had been banished to meditate with the shaman. That lasted all of thirty seconds before he excused himself and made his way in a funk past the ruckus taking place in the warrior tent to his bed.
He’d finally fallen asleep reading through some reports on his electronic tablet only to be awakened when Sheppard and Ronon finally decided to stagger back to their quarters and turn in for the night. He remembered feeling a weight on his bed as someone crawled in, and for a moment he had a wild thought that maybe it was Sheppard, maybe the ongoing flirting he’d thought had been taking place all these years had really been the case, and maybe John, in his intoxicated state, had drank enough courage that he was finally going to make a move.
That much he remembered. What he couldn’t remember was how that incredibly exhilarating thought had ended up with him in the back of the Jumper along with stacks of wooden crates, with his wrists and ankles bound by duct tape, his throat sore, and his head pounding.
"Sheppard?" he croaked out, his voice sharp as glass against his raw throat.
John didn’t hear him, but Ronon apparently did given the way he slugged Sheppard in the shoulder and hitched his chin toward McKay.
John looked up from the controls of the Jumper and beamed happily at Rodney, "Hey, you’re finally awake! Good, you can help get the Jumper running."
Rodney stared at him in confusion, not sure where to start… How had he gotten here? Why was he bound? Why wasn’t the Jumper working? Where was Teyla? Why didn’t Sheppard and McKay seem concerned with any of it? And what was rattling in the crates when he managed to push himself up to a sit and lean heavily against them?
He decided to sum it all up with a boggled, "What?"
"The Jumper," Sheppard enunciated, spreading his arms to encompass the craft. "It’s not working. And careful with the boxes, they’re very important and they’ll break."
Even though Rodney didn’t straighten, he asked warily. "What’s in them?"
"Beer." Ronon’s lips quirked into a pleased smirk.
John seemed equally as pleased even as he added, "Well, the warriors on the planet called it muchlon… or something like that… but it tastes like beer."
"And gives you the clarity you need for your quest," Ronon supplied.
McKay squinted up at the dozen or so boxes. "Apparently you two need a lot of clarity for this…quest?"
"Hell, yeah, we do!" Ronon agreed enthusiastically.
Rodney got the impression the Satedan was more excited about the prospect of obtaining this supposed ‘clarity’ than the mysterious ‘quest’ they were on and apparently seen fit to bring Rodney along.
"We also need the Jumper," Sheppard told him, "and as soon as you fix it, we can go hunt down some Wraith."
"Wraith?" Rodney demanded in alarm. "There are Wraith here?"
"No," Ronon told him in an impatient tone. "That’s why we need to leave and go find some."
"Okay, what the hell is going on?" Rodney’s voice cracked and he cleared his throat painfully even as he attempted to pull his wrists apart. "Why the hell would we want to go hunt Wraith? And why the fuck am I taped up?" He shook his bound hands toward them in case they hadn’t noticed his current state.
"We’re tired of sitting around waiting for the Wraith to attack us," John informed him.
"So we’re taking the fight to them," Ronon continued, puffing his chest out with a proud curl of his lips. "We’re Wraith hunters."
"Wraith busters," Sheppard corrected.
"Hunters," Ronon countered.
John shook his head. "Busters is cooler."
"If you pee sitting down maybe," Ronon grumbled.
Sheppard frowned. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Ronon had no problem telling him exactly what it meant. "Your name sucks."
John stood straighter. "It does not suck."
Ronon not only straightened to his full height, he leaned in menacingly and enunciated each word. "It sucks ass."
Giving Ronon a once over as if to weigh his option of survival if he continued to press the matter, Sheppard turned back to McKay. "We’ll work out the name later."
Rodney stared at them dumbfounded. "Not to ask the blatantly obvious question given my current state of binding and you’re state of intoxication, but are you insane?" Probably not insane but definitely drunk or drugged by the glassy eyes and slightly slurred speech that was accompanying the bullshit they were feeding him.
John pointed an accusatory finger at him. "See? That’s exactly why Ronon choked you out and we taped you up."
"Choked…" If possible Rodney’s eyes opened even wider in shock. "You let him choke me out?"
"He suggested it," Ronon defended.
Rodney glared daggers at Sheppard.
"His idea, my idea… who can ever be completely sure of those sorts of details during a spontaneous kidnapping?" John shook his head to dismiss the conversation. "Exactly how we got you to come along isn’t important. What is important is that we knew you’d never go for it if we just asked."
"Gee, I wonder why you would think such a thing?" McKay snorted derisively.
Ronon apparently missed the sarcasm. "Because you’re scared of the Wraith."
"Of course I’m scared of the Wraith! Anyone with half a brain and any sense of self preservation is scared of the Wraith!"
"We’re not," Ronon defended.
Rodney rolled his eyes heavenward then swept both hands, seeing as they were still taped together, toward his teammates. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibits A and B."
John leaned forward intently…well, as intently as he could with the way he blinked to bring McKay into focus. "This is dangerous work we have planned, Rodney. It’s where we separate the men from the mice. There’s no room for cry babies and cowards."
"Then why did you bring me?" Rodney practically screamed, dreading it the instant he did considering how it hurt his throat, which now made perfect sense since he’d been choked out recently…as much sense as any of this could anyway.
"We need you," Sheppard admitted simply.
McKay paused with his mouth open, his frown turning into a pleased smile. "Really?"
"Absolutely," John confirmed with his own grin. "Best tech support in the Pegasus Galaxy."
Rodney’s smile vanished instantly. "Tech support? Tech support? As in, ‘Hello, my name is Sam, thank you for calling Microsoft. How may I help you?’ tech support?"
Ronon hadn’t missed the accent Rodney had added to that last bit. "Hey, he sounds like that scrawny little balding guy who grows the plants on Atlantis."
Despite the fact that was how Ronon described half the scientists on Atlantis, including the women, John was able to identify who he meant. "Dr. Banerjee in botany. And Ronon’s right; you really do sound like him. Hey, do Radek when he gets pissed off about food around the computers." He slapped Ronon’s shoulder with a laugh. "Wait until you hear this, it’s classic."
McKay exhaled in frustration, ignoring the request for more impressions of his staff. "The point is, I am the head of science on an intergalactic mission. I have multiple PhDs. I will probably have one, if not two, Nobels before I die, and possibly another awarded posthumously. My talents and genius are much more far reaching than asking if you turned it off then on again."
Sheppard’s face brightened even more. "Hey, good idea." Turning back to the controls, he concentrated and the ship hummed to life. John looked to Ronon. "I told you he would be worth the bitching."
Rodney seriously doubted his smartass comment had actually helped; more likely John had never actually turned the ship on in the first place. But now that he had it started, he was going to go somewhere, somewhere with Wraith, if Rodney didn’t do something and fast.
"Look, guys, why don’t we go back to the camp, find Teyla, and talk about this. Maybe come up with a good plan of action for hunting the Wraith…"
"No can do." John was already dialing the gate. "Teyla’s back on P9Xyadayadayada."
Rodney furrowed his brow and sat up straighter, rattling the bottles as he tried to see out of the front window. "Where are we?"
John snorted. "Hell if I know, Ronon remembered a gate address and flew us there. We went--"
"Wait." McKay shook his head in confusion. "Ronon flew the Jumper? But he doesn’t even have the ATA gene."
"Neither did Ford and he managed to fly it," Sheppard pointed out.
With a weary sigh, Rodney started to explain, yet again, how that had happened. "I told you, Sheppard, it was an automatic launching system in the city when you dial the gate--"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," John dismissed before continuing his story. "Anyway, when we got here, Ronon and I went out scouting for Wraith while you were asleep--"
"Unconscious," McKay reminded.
"Same difference." John shook his head distractedly. "We didn’t find any, but when we came back, I couldn’t make the Jumper work, so we waiting for you to wake up." Looking over his shoulder he grinned. "That’s when we came up with the great Wraith Busters name."
"Hunters," Ronon growled.
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "We’ll take a vote later, Big Guy; just give it a rest for now."
Rodney furrowed his brow as something occurred to him. "Wait, you left Teyla there? That was a space gate. She won’t be able to get home without a Jumper."
John didn’t seem very concerned. "Woolsey will send somebody to look for us when we don’t check in and they’ll give her a ride home. Besides, it would’ve been too complicated to bring her along. She has Torren and Kanaan back on Atlantis."
"Plus, three guys and one woman traveling through the galaxy…" Ronon crinkled his nose at the prospect. "That’s just asking for trouble."
"The whole men with needs dilemma," Sheppard explained further. "It would just be a matter of time before someone made a move and then you’ve got rejection or jealously or some rotating night plan…"
"Or some kinky four way thing going on," Ronon added, "and then things would really get weird."
Rodney just blinked that his teammate would think things could actually get weirder than they were at that very moment…
John nodded in agreement. "I mean, it’s going to be weird enough with me and Ronon sharing you."
…evidently it could.
"Wh…what?" Rodney stammered in shock, tugging at his restraints.
"Oh, don’t worry, we worked out a schedule while you were out," Sheppard informed him.
"What?" Rodney tried to pull his wrists apart in desperation, although he knew it was an act of futility against the duct tape.
Sheppard and Ronon watched him struggle for a few seconds before sputtering laughter. "Told you that would freak him the hell out," John managed to say between guffaws as their laughter grew.
Realizing they were just messing with him, Rodney frowned. "Oh, that’s rich. Very fucking mature. You two suck."
"The schedule says only on Tuesdays," Ronon wheezed out, struggling to breathe as he practically rolled with laughter in the copilot’s seat.
Sheppard wasn’t in much better shape, and McKay let the laughter subside a bit before finally holding his hands out. "Okay, okay, you two have had your fun. Now, cut me loose." When they kept laughing, Rodney ground out the words. "Sheppard, goddamn it, cut me loose. Now."
The tone of Rodney’s voice had the humor subsiding and John pulled his knife and squatted beside the angry man to cut the tape. "Christ, McKay, you need to learn to lighten up."
"You have me choked out, taped me up like a fucking Christmas present, and offered to share me sexually with Ronon," Rodney hissed as Sheppard cut the tape free around his ankles.
John moved up to his wrists, using one hand to hold Rodney’s hand’s steady while sliding the blade between them. "What’s the matter, Rodney? Are you more upset that I kidnapped you or that I was going to share you?" He cut the tape with a roguish grin.
Rodney found his outrage floundering helplessly against the charm of that smile. He suddenly found himself feeling that same flush of exhilaration he had when he thought John was climbing in bed with him, and the heat of his skin had little to do with his anger as Sheppard leaned forward and murmured confidentially, "Because there was no way in hell I was going to leave you behind and I sure the hell don’t intend to ever share you."
Rodney licked his lips, swallowed, but never looked away from John, who seemed perfectly content to sit their holding Rodney’s hands in his and wait for Rodney’s response. And Rodney found himself thinking a few thoughts about Sheppard he only allowed himself to think about when he’d had one too many beers himself.
Clearing his throat so it wouldn’t crack, Rodney asked, "Would you be willing to share the warrior beer?"
The grin spread across John’s face. "I would say that’s a distinct possibility."
McKay’s stomach flipped at the way John was looking at him, in a good way, a very good way. Maybe he had overreacted to the whole kidnapping misunderstanding.
"So, Wraith busters, huh?" Rodney’s scowl had somehow morphed into a smile of his own.
"That is a totally bitching name, isn’t it?" John whispered, glancing over his shoulder to where Ronon was sitting rather intently attempting to look at his own tongue. "I don’t know what Ronon’s problem is."
Rodney had a pretty good idea that problem was the fermented beverage stored in the crates behind him, and he was more than ready to have a few problems of his own, especially if it meant Sheppard might use his thumbs to rub those same circles he was forming along the skin on Rodney’s wrists against a few other body parts.
"How about that beer?"
John waggled his eyebrows at Rodney’s suggestion, reached into the crate and pulled out two. Then he made a suggestion of his own. "Ronon, I think you should go scout for Wraith again, you know, just to make sure we didn’t miss any before. McKay and I will stay here and work on the Jumper."
Ronon rolled his eyes and mumbled, "Tech support my ass," as he grabbed a bottle of his own and headed out of the Jumper.
John popped the cork from the ceramic bottle, took a drink, and handed it to Rodney. "Ready for a little clarity for your quest?"
Rodney sniffed the contents of the bottle. It actually did smell an awful lot like beer. "So how’s it taste?"
Sheppard shrugged. "Only one way to find out."
"Actually," McKay told him as he used the front of John’s t-shirt to pull him closer, "there’s one other way I can think of."
Rodney found himself amazed at how much clarity he obtained from just the small amount of alcohol still lingering on John’s lips, or maybe it was the way John wrapped his arms around McKay and deepened the kiss. Either way, Rodney was eager to see this particular quest to the end. The funny thing was, it ended the way it had started, with him duct taped and unconscious in the back of the Jumper.
Only this time, considering Sheppard was in the same state and they were both naked, he didn’t mind it at all.
* * * * *
Teyla wasn’t too worried when none of her teammates were present at breakfast in the morning. After all, Ronon and John had spent the evening with the warriors of the tribe, and the women she had chatted with the night before had told her how their husbands commonly returned to their beds highly intoxicated after an evening with their warrior brethren. Rodney was more of a mystery seeing as the shaman rarely partook in the elixirs they brewed, but he often preferred to dine alone if he was working on something.
After finishing her meal, she decided to roam through the village until it was time to meet with the elders to discuss the trade negotiations they were there for. She greeted a group of villagers warmly as they carried hoes and shovels to the fields and turned with surprise when, a few minutes later, one of the boys from the group hailed her from behind and told her she needed come with him to baltha field. Teyla followed him down a row of the tall stalked plant until they reached a group of men who parted to reveal Ronon laying face down in the mud.
"Ronon!" she called in worry, dropping to her knees to check for a pulse.
She was rewarded by a loud snore.
Sitting back on her haunches, she wasn’t sure if she was more relieved or annoyed with his obviously drunken state. The farmers laughed and made a few disparaging remarks regarding the constitution and general lack of hygiene of the warrior class then moved off to begin their work for the day. Apparently, this was not an oddity for them. It did, however, leave a question as to where John may be since she last saw him with Ronon. After a few failed attempts to wake her unconscious teammate, she decided he may as well remain where he lay. Perhaps it would teach him a lesson regarding future interactions with native populations, especially when it came to partaking in the local alcoholic beverage. Even Teyla rolled her eyes at her own thought. Ronon would never change his way, which was just one more reason he deserved to sleep off his intoxication in the mud.
She reached the hut her male teammates were to share for the night and found it empty. Her attempts to contact either John or Rodney by radio had failed…repeatedly, so she decided to go to the Jumper to see if perhaps one or both of the missing men had ended up there. As soon as she opened the back hatch of the ship, an empty bottle rolled out and bumped against her foot. This did not bode well, she decided as she entered the craft.
"John?" She called as she stepped over the remnants of a broken wooden crate and the puddle from the busted bottles inside. "Rodney?"
The Jumper was dark, but grew lighter as she made her way toward the front, nearly tripping over something in her path. When she looked down and made out what it was, she gasped and took a shocked step backwards, nearly losing her footing when she stepped on a bottle.
John and Rodney, both completely naked, lay curled around one another on the floor, bound together with what appeared to be handmade, duct tape handcuffs on one wrist each. At the sound of Teyla’s indrawn breath, John shifted, tightening his arm around Rodney and snuggling closer against the other man’s neck. A small smile cut across Rodney’s face at the act, but thankfully, neither of them woke.
Teyla carefully took another step back, deciding some things, such as the exact details of what transpired the previous night between her teammates, were best left unknown, at least by her. She only hoped the two men would not be as surprised by their current position as she had been, although, the thought that they wouldn’t be brought up a whole other set of implications. Finally reaching the back of the Jumper, Teyla closed the back hatch and quickly made her retreat back to the village to wait for the men to wake and return.
It was almost an hour later before Ronon staggered into the town square where Teyla had decided to wait. It was nicely shaded with a fountain bubbling cheerfully in the center and was a nice place to undertake her morning meditation. After what she had seen, she sincerely needed to calm herself. She looked up at Ronon, still smeared with mud all down the right side of his face, and smiled at him pleasantly. Ronon grunted and went and stuck his head in the fountain.
"Sleep well?" she asked him when he shook water from his hair.
His only response to her inquiry was another grunt before he asked, "Seen Sheppard and McKay?"
Teyla bit her lower lip to keep from exclaiming, ‘more of them than I ever hoped to’. Instead she discreetly answered, "I believe they spent the night in the Jumper."
Ronon dropped to the ground beside her and looked around as if to ascertain where he was. "Evidently I can’t fly the Jumper."
With a confused furrow of her brow Teyla agreed, "No, I would not think that would be possible."
Ronon flopped back to stare up at the wide branches of the trees above him. "That was some pretty strong shit we were drinking last night."
"Yes," Teyla agreed, "it would appear that was the case."
With a snort, Ronon scrubbed at his face. "At least Sheppard and McKay will probably be more miserable than me. They’re a couple of lightweights."
"I do not know," Teyla mused as the two men made their way into the town square. "They do not appear to be suffering as much as you."
Ronon pushed up so he could see the same thing as Teyla. Rodney and John were walking toward them, pale and red-eyed like Ronon, but despite the hangovers, they kept bumping shoulders against each other as they walked, sharing a ridiculous grin every time they did.
"Why are they so damn happy?" Ronon demanded grumpily.
The reason was suddenly crystal clear to Teyla. They may have been surprised to wake with one another that morning, but they had also been extremely pleased that they had. It was the same look she had seen on Kanaan’s face the first morning they had awakened in the same bed.
Teyla stilled her face into an innocent expression. "How would I ever know?"
Ronon dropped back down in a funk, grumbling something about busters being a stupid name and tech support being an even stupider excuse.
Teyla’s innocence dropped, as well, to be replaced with a wily grin as she mumbled, "But I’m sure it will make for a rather interesting mission report."