[identity profile] sheafrotherdon.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] sga_flashfic
The Seven Year Itch by [livejournal.com profile] sheafrotherdon
~ 1800 words, PG, John/Rodney.

John meets his medical nemesis; Rodney barely has enough scorn to go around. Audienced by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] siriaeve and beta'd by the delightful [livejournal.com profile] dogeared.

In the encyclopedia of medical information Rodney keeps tucked away in his head, the page on John Sheppard reads:

John Sheppard (Lt. Col.) b. 1967
Next of kin: Rodney McKay

allergies: none known
pain threshold: ridiculous
first aid skills: passable
bedside manner: often lacking

Please cite three examples to support your thesis:

1. Led rescue mission with guts held in with bandaids. "Whatever, Rodney, I took some ibuprofen, okay?" (Year Five)
2. Shot me. Did not provide first aid. Admittedly was out of his mind at the time. When restored to right mind, however, offered only, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for shooting everyone." (Year Three)
3. Sees arm wound and fractured ribs as no impediment to bringing down a Wraith. (Year One)

Conclusion: Is out to make the Stoics look like whimpering old grandmothers. NOTE: have extra field bandages in pockets at all times.

Which is why it comes as something of a shock to discover – considering John's ability to survive stabbings, shootings, poisonings, and more than one attempted ritual sacrifice – that his medical nemesis is a bug bite, a simple bug bite; not the iratus variety, complete with physiological changes on a base cellular level and scales that take weeks to shed; oh, no. John Sheppard is allergic to cheenti bugs – small, pink dragonfly creatures that hover around the galliff flowers on M48-97S, insects to which no known person in Pegasus has ever demonstrated the slightest reaction.

"Figures," Rodney says, rolling his eyes as he drags John away from their table in the mess and toward the infirmary as soon as he notices him scratching. "Because it's not like you can do anything like a regular person, is it?" He pushes John inside the transporter.

John pouts. "I'm itchy," he says.

"Yes, yes, well, don't think of - no scratching," Rodney says, grabbing for John's hands.

"Fuck that," John offers, and so begins a tussle that lasts until they get into the infirmary and Keller – taking two or three seconds to size up the situation – shoots John in the neck with a mild sedative and pushes him onto a gurney, where he can look at the ceiling, smiling vacantly, very slightly stoned.

"There's nothing in the database about allergic reactions to cheenti bites," she tells Rodney after he briefs her, showing him the relevant pages on a tablet.

"Which doesn't mean it wasn't the cheenti bugs," Rodney says witheringly. "I'm passingly familiar with the principles of scientific observation, and I'm telling you the only thing he's been exposed to is . . . " He taps his earpiece. "Dobbins. Yes, you – no, no, no this is not about sub-tropical lizards, much as I'm sure you . . . would you shut up? This is a medical emergency you blathering lump of . . . exactly. I'm in the infirmary. Doctor Keller needs several live cheenti bugs immediately. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. God just do it would you? McKay out." He clicks off his radio and looks at Keller. "What? He wanted to know if they'd be here all night in case he needed to bring them dinner. I ask you. Entomologists." He makes a disgusted noise at the back of his throat and wanders back to John's bed. "How're you feeling?"

John gives him an innocent look and slides his hand out from beneath his shirt. "Fine?"

Rodney sighs. "Did you manage to get a bug bite on your stomach?"

John looks off toward the bedside table. "No?"

"Oh, please," Rodney huffs, and pushes up John's shirt. A handful of welts are scattered across his belly, and there are red marks where he's clearly been scratching. "No. Scratching," he says, yanking John's shirt back down.

"But it feels good," John whines, and he's sticking out his bottom lip again. "C'mon Rodney, what can happen, it's an itch."

"I know of a woman who once scratched right through to her own brain," Rodney snaps.

John eyes him. "You do not."

"I do too," Rodney says. "Is that what you want? To scratch through to your own internal organs?"

"Gross," John mumbles.

"Yes, exactly, so – AH-AH," Rodney says, seeing John's right hand begin to creep toward his left arm. "Are you deaf? Deficient in understanding? Trying to make me crazy? All of the above?"

"Itchy," John says, looking miserable.

Rodney sighs. "You are the universe's most infuriating boyfriend."

John sticks out his bottom lip further.

Rodney groans helplessly. "I'll see what I can do."

It ends up that John on Benadryl is the happiest incarnation of man in recorded history. "I'ma beat you," he says, grinning cluelessly in Rodney's general – although not exact – direction as he plays with his DS Lite. "Tetris is my homeboy."

"You're not even making sense," Rodney says wearily, looking up as Keller bustles in. Dobbins is at her elbow, carrying a small mesh insect bag and wearing gloves.

"Hey!" John says happily as he sees the bugs. "Those things. Cool." And he watches attentively as Keller presses the mesh bag against his arm, opens the end, lets the bugs do what they will. "Yowch," he says, frowning after a moment. "Dudes. Rude."

Keller closes the bag and hands it back to Dobbins. "Thank you," she says. "And I'd love to hear more about the healing properties of tassa spit when I have . . . uh. You know. Time."

In just over an hour, the bug bites swell up like all the others, and Rodney can't help but fold his arms, tilt his chin, and smile at Keller when she comes in to check on John's vitals. "It's okay. You don't need to tell me I'm right. Hello? Genius? It's a given." He reaches for John's left arm and grabs him by the wrist, stopping him from moving to scratch the new bites. "So what do you recommend? Some cream, yes? More Benadryl? Does he need cortosteroids or – perhaps I should have an epi pen just in case he . . ."

"Rodney," Jennifer says, blowing her hair out of her face. "He's not going to have a life-threatening reaction this long after initial exposure to the allergen."

"You never know," Rodney points out, glancing at John. "He looks peaky."

John frowns. "Do not."

"Bed rest," Keller says, as if she hasn't been interrupted , "back at his quarters, just until the sedative wears off. He can take more Benadryl in a couple of hours, and I've some topical ointment he can apply. Cool shower, ice pack . . ."

"Iiiiiitch," John says wistfully.

"Well, this'll be fun," Rodney says, pulling John up to a sitting position and hauling him to his feet. "Home for us."

"I could go for some cheetos," John says hopefully.

"And that's a no," Rodney offers, pocketing the paper bag of supplies the nurse brings over. "You need your bed, a shower, to not scratch. And someday you'll have to explain to me how you've managed to save the galaxy with shrapnel in your ass more than once but can't handle a basic bug bite, you biological freak."

"I hate bugs," John confesses, leaning heavily against Rodney as Rodney maneuvers them toward the door, Keller waving them away. "And I never had shrapnel in my ass."

"It's only a matter of time," Rodney sighs, and drags him to the transporter.


Things go well for most of the night with John sacked out in bed and Rodney sprawled on his couch, reading old copies of surfing magazines, getting up to check the diameter and hue of John's bites every half an hour. But by 3am, John's restless, wakes up and claws at his arm before Rodney's quite alert enough to get across the room and stop him, and when Rodney does yank his hand away, he swears up a blue streak, tries to rub his other arm against the sheets, twists and turns and grumbles low in his throat.

"Hey," Rodney says, not unkindly. "Hey, would you stop? I'll get you Benadryl, but only if you . . . "

"Are you insane?" John asks, wild-eyed. "Do you know what this feels like?"

"Actually, yes, quite a few allergic reactions in my time, don't make me slap you, Scarlett," Rodney offers, and that makes John pause just long enough, just wary enough to let Rodney grab the meds and a glass of water, watch while John swallows both. He flips the cap on the hydrocortisone ointment Keller provided, and squeezes some onto his fingers.

"I can do that," John says sulkily.

"I don't think so," Rodney shoots back, turning over John's arm to smooth the cream over his bites. "You'll just want to scratch and you'll rub too hard and . . ."

John smirks and wiggles an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"

Rodney rolls his eyes. "Shut up," he says. "That is not part of your recommended treatment program."

"Fuck," John sighs, but lies mostly still through the rest of Rodney's ministrations, even if he can't seem to help gritting his teeth and swearing under his breath. With the ointment applied, Rodney grabs the top sheet from the bed, pulls it off, bundles it up in his hands and throws it in a corner. "What the hell?" John asks, peering down his own torso. "What are you . . ."

"Shut up," Rodney says again, opening the mini fridge and pulling out another sheet. "It's been chilling. Little damp. It'll . . ." He shakes it out over John's body and tucks in the very ends. "Better?"

John's face is blissful as the sheet falls into place. "Oh my god, I think I might like you. Sort of," he moans.

Rodney smiles smugly, sitting down at the edge of John's mattress. "Thought so," he says, and weaves his fingers with John's, holds both his hands as John blinks at him sleepily.

"Just gonna sit there?" John asks, aglow with Benadryl goodwill.

"Until you fall asleep and I can trust you won't scratch through to your brain, yes," Rodney says. "It's a good brain. Decent. Far from average. I like it."

"You like my brain," John says, grinning.

"Such is my lot," Rodney says, and leans in to press a kiss to John's forehead. "Go to sleep, Captain Itchpants. Can't coddle you forever, you know."

"Pfffft," John says through a yawn. "Bet you could. If y'tried."

Rodney feels his ears turning pink. "Yes. Well. That's . . . I mean. Quite beside the point, considering that the Wraith will no doubt descend any second, so coddling is not actually a viable long term . . . but you're, um, sleeping now." And he watches John breathe. "Okay," he whispers. "I bet I could if I tried, too." He squeezes John's hands. "Don't let it get around."

Yes, a woman really did scratch an itch right through to her brain. Do not read if you're squeamish!
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