Okay, so it's been years since I published a fanfic, but this one infiltrated my brain in response to a perfectly innocent writing prompt and fought to emerge, "Alien"-like, from my consciousness. I figured it would be less messy just to cooperate and write the thing in the normal fashion. I hope you enjoy it.


"This is completely ridiculous," Rodney McKay said, seated on a couch and clutching a large white bowl. It was at least the third time he'd said it, this time less distinctly because his mouth was full of popcorn. "I'm a busy and vitally important man, and I should not be expected to waste time watching a hokey old monster movie when I could be doing work that will save this city from actual monsters. And Zelenka could be assisting in that effort."

"Yes," Radek Zelenka muttered darkly, arms folded. He was also sitting on the couch, but had chosen the furthest position from McKay possible. "I could be working with an actual monster."

"Oh, please," McKay said, his face contorted into a nasty smile. "You love to complain, but deep down you know you've never done truly noteworthy work without me."

Radek turned his head slowly toward the other scientist. "Excuse me?"

Shoving another handful of popcorn into his mouth, McKay said, "Face, it, Radek. The best work of your life has been done here in Atlantis, under my supervision. Not that you're not a perfectly competent, even somewhat talented scientist in your own right, but you're most definitely the moon to my sun."

Radek scowled. McKay took this for confusion rather than anger.

"Reflecting my light rather than generating your own," McKay explained helpfully.

Radek's response involved a rundown, in Czech, of McKay's numerous shortcomings and their roots in likely multi-species lineage.

"You see what he does?" McKay demanded. "He can't refute an unpleasant truth factually, so he resorts to cursing me in a foreign language I can't understand."

All self-restraint evaporating, Radek decided to hit McKay where it would hurt most and lunged for the popcorn bowl. A tug of war ensued, cut short when a third pair of hands descended to yank the bowl away from both of them. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard held it aloft and fixed them both with a stern look, unaware that the effect was somewhat diluted by the artfully mussed hair.

"First of all," Sheppard drawled, "it's not some 'hokey monster movie,' it's Dawn of the Dead, which is a classic. Second of all, the whole point of this little time-out is to get you both away from work for a while. Your bickering has gotten out of control lately, and it's affecting the performance of the whole science division. Elizabeth thinks you guys need a little downtime, and since you won't kick back voluntarily, she's forcing the issue."

"Okay, fine," McKay broke in, "I grant that maybe that makes some sense, but why can't we each just do our own thing, recreationally speaking? I mean, it's pretty counter-intuitive to punish us for fighting at work by forcing us to spend our leisure time together!"

"Rodney, this is not a punishment," Sheppard insisted.

Radek snorted. "I have a dictionary in my quarters."

Sheppard took a deep breath. Radek sensed he was tempted to give up and let them go, but persisting only because he didn't want to admit failure to Dr. Weir. "It may feel like a punishment, but the idea is to get you two to find a way to relate to each other like civilized adults."

"Oh, well, that's less than compelling,"McKay said, "coming from a man who sleeps in a bed clearly meant for a child." At Sheppard's look of confusion, he rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on. You've never noticed that your bed is a foot too short for you? And it's not like you're unusually tall or anything."

Radek frowned at Sheppard. "That's true. Why would you choose quarters with a tiny bed? We all had the opportunity to–"

"Look," Sheppard said, clearly losing patience, "Let's stay on topic here. Now, if it was up to me, I'd let you go your separate ways. Get some distance between you, unwind in peace, and come back to work together in a reasonable manner again."

"Again?" Radek said. "I'm still waiting for a first occurrence of this."

"Oh, like you're just a charming and delightful–"

"But it's not up to me," Sheppard continued, talking over McKay's attempted comeback. "I'm not the head of this expedition."

"No," McKay said, "you're just her henchman."

"I prefer 'enforcer.' Elizabeth thinks that doing something together that's not work-related will make you appreciate one another as people, or something. So for the next two hours, you guys can sit here and be civil to each other, or you can ignore each other completely, but either way, you're gonna share this space. And," he added, handing the bowl to Radek, "you're gonna share the popcorn."

Radek stared at Sheppard for a moment before taking a long, deep breath and letting it out in an eloquent sigh. Overt resistance was clearly pointless. But perhaps McKay would fall asleep during the movie. Slipping a hand into his pants pocket, Radek fingered a black Sharpie and smiled minutely. There was a chance that fun could be had, under the right circumstances.

He popped a piece of popcorn into his mouth, looked pointedly at McKay, and set the bowl exactly halfway between them on the center cushion of the couch. Sheppard waited until McKay rolled his eyes and grabbed a modest handful of popcorn before he hit "play" on the DVD player and sprawled onto a chair himself.