MAD MEN OF MUC-MUC - Part 5
By NotTasha... Thank you for all the wonderful feedback. Sorry that the tech and medical stuff isn't right. I told you from the start that I don't know much about those things.


CHAPTER 18: FINDERS KEEPERS

"The Seat of Power is ours!" Kevik growled, leaning his muddy face until it was inches from Teyla's. "You will not take it from us!"

The Athosian glared back at him. "You have no right to claim it as your own," she shot back.

"We've been looking for it since forever," Vimmle commented. He'd managed to procure a wet rag from somewhere and was removing most of his muddy makeup.

"Yeah, we did all the work looking for it," Prouse added. He'd wrapped a blanket around his body like a toga, and was trying to get the hem to lay even.

"We claim it as ours," Gimmet put in, giving Vimmle and Prouse an envious look, still dressed in mud and the barest of coverings on his nether regions. He looked a bit cold. The rest of the Bochwey were shifting about excitedly, not accomplishing much.

Ford and Teyla had been backed up against part of the ruin, surrounded by the gun-toting Bochwey. Teyla gave Kevik a dissatisfied look, stating, "We will wait until Major Sheppard returns to decide what to do with the Seat of Power."

Kevik snorted. "It isn't yours to make that decision."

"I don't know," Ford returned. "I mean, I think our people have their hands on it. We're the ones that actually found it while you all were messing around in the trees. Finders keepers!" He shrugged. "Losers weepers."

Confused at this statement, Kevik looked to Teyla, hoping for some help in understanding. The woman gave him no sign regarding the translation. So, he decided to ignore Ford and wandered toward the pit.

The Bochwey continued to dart about agitatedly. The mock Muc-mucs kept moving, joining into small groups, discussing things with wild gestures, then breaking off to form new groups. Unfortunately, in spite of their mad gyrations, a small group managed to stay around Teyla and Ford – keeping them in their place. A phalanx of Bochwey watched the pit – armed – ready for Sheppard to pop his head out of the hole again -- so that they could shoot it off. And so far, there'd been nothing – just the hot air that breathed from the pit.

It had been an hour since Sheppard descended into the opening, two hours since McKay fell – an awful long time.

"Think he found Doctor McKay?" Ford asked Teyla quietly.

The Athosian nodded. "Yes," she responded. "It would be like Major Sheppard to do exactly what he set out to do. I do not doubt him."

"Think the doc's okay?" Ford continued.

"The doctor is resourceful."

"But he might have been hurt," Ford commented. "It was a long drop."

With a sad nod, Teyla stated, "Yes, it was. But he was able to speak with us and express his dissatisfaction about our course of action."

"Didn't prove to be a very good one," Ford muttered.

"I believe it will resolve itself acceptably in the end," Teyla decided. It had to, after all.

Ford stated resolutely, "They're coming up with a plan. That's why they aren't back yet."

"Yes, a plan." Teyla nodded tightly, hoping… wanting to believe. But certainly, if all was well, Major Sheppard and Dr. McKay would have been back by now.

CHAPTER 19: ABOUT THAT PLAN

The ramp was steep and long, sliding up from the room that housed the Seat of Power. At least the passage was cool, as opposed to the overheated room and tunnel. Sheppard kept McKay ahead of him, shining the flashlight to lead their way. He resisted the urge to place hand at Rodney's back when he swayed. His first attempt to steady the scientist had been met with an abrupt cringe and a gasp from McKay.

"You COULD remember… burned skin," McKay had uttered hoarsely.

"Sorry," Sheppard had apologized. "Figured it was better than letting you take a header."

McKay had grumbled, then considered, "You're making me lead so that I'll clean out any spiders we encounter, right."

"Would you knock it off about the spiders?" Sheppard replied. "You're starting to give me the heebie-jeebies about them, too!"

Still Sheppard kept ready to catch the cranky physicist should he collapse. The major doubted that McKay had much energy left in him. He moved like an old man. Let him last long enough to get us out of here, Sheppard hoped. Just get us out of here.

The route was steep, but at least it wasn't far to travel, and from what Sheppard had seen of Rodney's burns, most of them seemed to be about equal to what one pasty-skinned scientist would expect after a really long day at the beach after forgetting to 'lotion-up' with some SPF900 sunscreen. The worst of it was on his exposed skin and it all looked mighty painful.

McKay moved with a limp, and kept rolling his shoulder and manipulating his arm. Probably got whacked pretty good in his fall, Sheppard figured. Yeah, he's going to be spending some time with Beckett when we get back. Still, Sheppard was grateful that the man wasn't hurt worse – damn, McKay was lucky in that fall. It could have killed him!

Illuminating the way ahead, Sheppard frowned, arriving at a blank wall. McKay had come to a stop, resting his head against the cool stone wall as Sheppard forged forward to regard what met them this time. A steep set of stairs rose up suddenly, ending in nothing.

After examining the plain surface above them, John turned the light on McKay, finding him with his eyes closed and his brow furrowed, using the wall to support himself. "McKay, we're at a dead end. I think we got another one of those hidden panels. Think you could find it before something happens to Teyla and Ford?"

McKay had remained immobile until Sheppard brought up their absent team members. At that, he blinked and scowled at the light, which the major then thoughtfully averted. Shoving himself off the wall, Rodney stumbled forward. Scanner in hand, he swung it about, taking longer this time before he discovered the secret. "There," he muttered, pointing to a spot on the wall. "If you press right there, you should…."

Before Rodney could finish his instructions, Sheppard pressed, and the ceiling faded from sight. Whether it had been an illusion or whether the wall had disintegrated before their eyes, Sheppard had no idea and didn't want to worry about it at that moment either.

Light flooded in on them and both men closed their eyes against the painful intrusion. Squinting, Sheppard touched a hand to his empty holster, damning the Bochwey for taking his weapon. He turned back to McKay who had an arm thrown over his eyes as the daylight streamed in at him. Smiling, Sheppard recalled that McKay wasn't with them when the Bochwey arrived.

"Your weapon," Sheppard ordered, holding out a hand. "Hand it over."

Narrowing his eyes, McKay regarded the major, then removed the Beretta from its holster. "Hopefully it didn't melt," he mumbled.

"Well, you'd melt before it did," Sheppard commented as he checked it, finding the weapon in good order, clean and ready for action – leave it to McKay to always take good care of his property. He popped the clip back into place and prepared himself to step out of the passageway. "Think maybe you should stay put until you get some of your perkiness back," Sheppard decided.

"What about Lt. Ford and Teyla?" McKay asked.

"I'll poke my head out. See what's going on."

"I have to get out of here," McKay said pathetically. "I really have to get out… now…"

"I'll see if it's safe."

"Do you even know where this lets out?" McKay asked, his face still pinched. "Might be helpful if you did. Might allow you to come up with a plan, don't you think?"

Considering it for a moment, mapping the route in his head, Sheppard decided, "We should be somewhere near that wall where you saw the inscription."

McKay snorted derisively.

"What?" Sheppard responded.

"You have no idea," McKay commented.

"We went this way," Sheppard said, fishing his hand in one direction. "Then this way... underground. We're at the ruin."

"You'd get lost in your own quarters," Rodney commented. "Utterly lost somewhere between the bed and the toilet. You wouldn't be able to find the doorway out for months."

"Where then, Mr. Smarty-pants?" Sheppard responded. When McKay gave him a disgusted look, the major continued, "Don't get me wrong. I'm awful glad that you're wearing pants. I've seen far too many of the pants-less today… seen far too much."

After a pause, McKay stated, "There's something seriously wrong with you, isn't there?"

"McKay," Sheppard paused, "Where do you think we are?"

With a knowing smile, Rodney told him, "If my calculations are right... and they usually are... we should be just behind the jumper."

"Wanna bet?" Sheppard asked, extending one hand.

Propping himself against one wall, McKay regarded the proffered hand, and said, "I get to fly home."

"And if I'm right... no whining about me not letting you fly for a month."

"A week," Rodney countered.

"Not so sure, are you?" Sheppard stated, gingerly taking the singed hand to seal the deal.

"Oh," McKay stated, "I'm certain. I just wanted to see if you'd crumble."

And Sheppard squeezed the hand until he got a pathetic little sound out of the doctor. "Now, about that plan..."

CHAPTER 20: SURPRISE

They were on their knees again, because Kevik had grown apprehensive. The leader of the Bochwey paced, glaring at the captives, who looked back with far more defiance than they should. "Your Major Sheppard," Kevik started. "He should have located the other by now. He should have returned with the report of McKay's demise."

"I kinda think he's found him alive," Ford shot back. "I'm bettin' they're both on their way back right now."

Kevik didn't like this – didn't like this at all. The more time passed, the more likely that something 'unexpected' would happen. He hated surprises. Glancing toward his men, he noted that most of them were partially dressed now. Some had returned to the trees to find their supplies, snagging blankets and tarps. Many had affixed bits of cloth at their cabooses; others draped whatever they could find over their inadequately covered hoo-hahs. One had a hat and was making good use of it. Most had wiped the dirt from their faces and had made some attempt to manage their hair.

They no longer looked like savages. In fact, they all looked rather pathetic, as if a busload of researchers had careened into a swamp – and these were ones that were able to crawl out.

Drumming his fingers against his arm, Kevik, still wearing nothing more than his breechcloth and standing with his feet a good-shoulder's-length apart, stared at the open pit. He was so close to getting into the Seat of Power! Quee, the Chosen One, had failed, but Quee had always been a bit wishy-washy. Who's to say that Kevik of the Bochwey wasn't the one meant to control the Seat of Power?

It would be… powerful… to be in that seat, Kevik knew. And he wanted it.

Really, he should be making his way over to the pit… he should be stepping over the lip of it and using that 'descender' thingie to get down… he really should… it was his destiny!

But Quee had fried up so quickly… maybe he should find someone else to give it a try. Hmmm. "Gimmet," he called. "Gimmet, it's time to put your knowledge to work." And he smiled toothily at the little gnome. "This is the chance of your lifetime." And he gestured to the pit.

"Ah," Gimmet started, looking a little queasy. "It really should be you, Kevik. You are, after all, our leader."

"But this is your life's work. Come now, little Gimmet, shove that gnarled head of yours down the hole and let's see what comes of it." Smiling magnanimously, Kevik continued, "Let's take a look at the Seat of Power. It's time we took our true place." And he placed his arm around Gimmet's shoulder in an attempt to turn the reluctant man.

"I could wait…" Gimmet squeaked, digging in his heels.

"No more waiting," Kevik decided. "We're going… now." And he shoved the man toward the pit.

"Nope. I don't think so," a voice sounded nearby, surprising the hell out of Kevik. "It's time you dropped your weapons and maybe took a bath." From behind them, Sheppard moved clear of the forest, holding a Beretta on Kevik of the Bochwey. "And if any of you have any smarts, you'll all do the same."

Astonished, the group had to fumble for their weapons, and Sheppard grimaced as he found himself surrounded, once again, by the half-dressed pretend wild- men aiming their pistols in his direction. "Okay," he started. "We've been here before."

Teyla and Ford got to their feet, unimpeded by the others. Teyla started to speak, to ask the question – how did he get here -- where was Dr. McKay? But Kevik spoke first.

"Where did you come from?"

With a quirk of a smile, Sheppard declared, "Well, when I was a baby, my mother said I came straight from heaven. She revised that a bit as I got older."

Kevik turned to the pit, than back toward Sheppard, then the pit in an exaggerated double-take. "How did you get out? Did you see the Seat of Power? There is another way in? How do I get in? Tell me, you must tell me!" He stepped toward Sheppard.

The major didn't lower the borrowed Beretta. "If you want any information from me, you'd best tell your friends to put down their pop-guns." He jerked his head toward the other Bochweys.

Kevik set his jaw and looked in the direction Sheppard had come. "I'm thinking," the Bochwey said. "I'm thinking we might be able to find our way within, now that we know where to go. Somewhere… over there." And he smiled, and glanced to his people, annoyed to find that several had dropped their guns. "What are you thinking?" he yelled at them.

They picked their weapons up again, chagrinned.

Looking disgusted with his people, Kevik turned back toward Sheppard. "You, Major Sheppard, don't have enough to bargain with. There are far more of us. We are in the position of power."

"Don't speak so soon," Sheppard responded as something behind him hummed to life.

John had a delightful point of view, watching as the haughty Bochwey's jaw dropped and his face drained of color. "Wha... wha..." was all Kevik managed to say as he stumbled backward, as his men again let loose their holds on their weapons (and maybe a few other things), and a startled gasp went up.

In his head, John quickly rattled off, "Cost to make one loincloth: fifty cents; Cost of a crappy looking gun: $5; The look of shock and surprise on a bunch of annoying Bochweys: priceless."

He didn't need to turn to know that the puddlejumper had materialized behind him, he just hoped that it didn't hit him.

Teyla and Ford grinned widely as the jumper lifted and turned drunkenly until the cockpit faced them. Ford's smile increased as he caught sight of McKay within, with his jaw set tight and apparently trying to snap the delicate controls off as he kept the ship pointed in the right direction. The lieutenant's smile dipped as McKay's eyes went wide and the jumper lurched violent forward. "Major!" Ford shouted a warning.

At the last second, Sheppard dove to the ground barely managing to avoid decapitation as the ship pitched. "McKay!" he shouted. "All bets are off!" Lying on his stomach, he brought the weapon up again, ready to fend off an attack. This idea sure worked better against the Genii!

It seemed to be working though. The Bochwey were wailing pathetically – a few of them fell over in a dead faint. They were thoroughly cowed – but Sheppard watched in annoyance as Kevik, Gimmet and the Kennedy boys took off into the woods. Damn, he would have liked to have spanked those idiots a bit! Well, figuratively...

The Bochweys that remained were like pats of butter on the ground, splayed out and senseless. Dusting at his knees, Sheppard climbed to his feet, looking speculatively at the ship that shuddered above his head. Intelligently, he got out from under it, shouting, "McKay! Get that thing back on the ground before you hurt someone!"

And with a lurch, the jumper descended, landing with a crashing thud and nearly smashing into Sheppard's leg. He'd managed to jerk it out of the way and roll at the last second. John shook his head as he stood, irritated. He turned toward Teyla and Ford, watching as they strode toward him. "You guys okay?" he asked quickly.

"We are unharmed," Teyla assured. "And Doctor McKay?"

"A bit overdone, but he should be okay." The major pounded on the side of the craft. "Open up," he shouted, keeping an eye on the stunned and downed Bochwey. None of the remaining men were moving yet.

The jumper didn't yield. "McKay," Sheppard called again, slamming the palm of his hand against the side of the ship. "Don't be an ass. Let me in. I'll letcha fly back, but that's it!" When still nothing happened, he felt his heart speed up a bit. Handing the Berretta to Ford, he hurriedly found the GDO in his pocket. "Don't do this to me, McKay," Sheppard whispered, keying the device and opening the rear hatch with a whoosh.

Nodding to Ford to keep an eye on things, Sheppard stormed into the craft with Teyla on his heels, finding McKay slumped at the controls.

"He is hurt," Teyla said quietly, seeing the burned patch at back of Rodney's neck. She squatted beside him, touching the side of his face gently.

"Got himself burned on that Seat of Power," Sheppard said softly, watching Teyla's gentle administrations. "How is he?"

Teyla nodded curtly. "I believe he shall be fine. He is breathing well," and she paused as a muscle jerked along his jaw, "but he is suffering. We should return immediately to Atlantis."

"Yeah, couldn't agree more." Sheppard sucked his teeth a moment before adding, "Just wish I could've slapped Kevik and his crew around a bit for all this. Damn, they were annoying."

"They were unpleasant," Teyla said, making a horrid face, as if that was the worst word she could up with, but wanted to say a lot more. She stayed close to Rodney, brushing the back of one hand across his temple. She smiled softly, as if she was happy just to see him again.

Somewhere outside, a whooping and hollering started up.

"Aw crap," Sheppard muttered. "Not again! Don't those damn Bochwey know when enough is enough?" Pissed off, he opened the gun cabinet. Teyla came up beside him, and he rearmed them, then stepped from the jumper, ready to kick some bare ass.

"What the hell does Kevik think he's doing?" John asked Ford as he emerged.

The young lieutenant stood stiffly, aiming the Berretta toward the woods. "Major... I don't think it's the Bochwey."

And he turned just in time to be surprised by a limber, fine-toned wild man leaping down from the trees, dropping Kevik to the ground, and looking about in disgust.

CHAPTER 21: WAD OF GOO

"So, you see why we need to go," Sheppard said, trying to sound as diplomatic as possible as wild Muc-muc men poked their noses around in the jumper. They'd gotten into the craft the moment the crew had stepped clear. He'd tried to get them out, but the show of weapons meant nothing to them, and the four stately people, dressed in cloth woven of soft grasses, strolled about, displaying the fearlessness that is reserved only for the very few.

Teyla had touched Sheppard's arm, restraining him from trying to shove them out. "They will not damage anything," she promised. Still, it didn't change the fact that Sheppard didn't like strangers on his ship.

One of the group leaned over McKay. She spoke in a pretty, child-like language to her companions, and they nodded, responding in kind, coming to her side.

"Now, wait a minute," Sheppard declared, trying to get in front of them before they mobbed the poor insensible Canadian. "You can look, but you can't touch!"

Teyla spoke quickly, "I do not believe they mean him any harm. They are apparently peaceful people."

"I'd like it better if there weren't so many of them right on top of him," Sheppard responded, shoe-horning himself in among them. "I'd like it better if they weren't on my ship!" They were amazingly fit looking people, with intelligent features, expertly made clothing and simple but efficient looking weapons. They also smelled a whole lot better then the Bochwey.

The men seemed to understand his meaning. After a moment spent observing the sleeping man, and word or two with the woman, they made acquiescent movements and backed away -- going back to poking around the jumper. The major watched them, seeing that they didn't seem to be messing with anything, just curiously looking everything over.

"Do you see?" Teyla stated, keeping an eye on the men. "They mean no harm." And it was apparently true. The woman seemed downright tender as she assessed McKay. She kept talking in that pretty language, pulling things from her woven bag and setting them around the control board. When she started chewing up leaves and spitting them into her hand, Sheppard finally put a hand on her arm to stop her.

She looked up sharply, surprised, but no sudden death descended on the major. Her glance was forgiving of his abruptness. She made hand motions, trying to explain what she wanted to do... wanting to smear the masticated stuff onto McKay's blistered skin. Sheppard tried to be congenial, and the woman, perhaps, understood his hesitancy. Instead of daubing it onto McKay, she grasped Sheppard's wrist, turned his hand, and plopped the chewed up stuff into his palm. He smiled tightly and thanked her, feeling the warm wad of goo in his hand.

The woman took up a handful of fresh leaves, pantomimed chewing them and the application process. Sheppard nodded, trying to look interested. "Yeah right," he said. "Chew it up. Does it go better with ranch dressing or maybe Italian?" God, this is weird.

It was Teyla who saved him, somehow letting the woman know that her efforts were appreciated and escorting her toward the door. The woman made a chirping noise and her entourage stopped looking at the bins and equipment in the craft. They turned and followed her out.

She stood outside the craft and regarded the still huddling Bochwey. The Kennedys and Gimmet, along with Kevik, were among them again -- rounded up by the true Muc-mucs. The returned escapees looked thoroughly chastised. The natives moved with a grace and a majesty that made the Bochwey look downright obscene. The male Muc-mucs wrinkled their noses at the distastefulness before them. The women demurred and kept their eyes averted.

The woman in charge made the chirping sound again and her people came to her. Once gathered, they turned and faced the group at the jumper. The woman nodded, then made a chewing motion...spitting, pointing back toward where McKay was resting in the pilot's seat.

"Yeah... yeah..." Sheppard responded, smiling. "I got it. I won't forget."

Then she made a disgusted motion toward the Bochwey. Pulling a knife from her waist, she flung it downward, impaling it in the ground not far from Kevik. It drove into the earth up to its hilt. The man cowered, scuttling away. Her face was fierce and her intent unmistakable.

"We shall ensure that they leave your planet," Teyla stated. "You will be left alone."

She made a similar gesture toward them, not as violently, her face wasn't as severe, but the meaning was there. At least she didn't use the knife to demonstrate this time. "We don't want you here either." And she gracefully stepped forward to retrieve her knife. It slid into its sheath so quickly that it seemed to disappear from her hands. Kevik backed further from her.

The woman, finished with them, brought her hands to her face, releasing them, making an open handed gesture to them.

"She is bidding us farewell," Teyla decided.

"Either that or she's play peek-a-boo," Sheppard responded. "Bye now. See ya later. We'll be back to look at the chair again someday, okay? Bye now." And he waved.

The woman cocked her head at the curious gesture, then returned it, waving her hand with the regality of a queen, and her people all copied. Then, as one, they turned and departed.

"Bye now," Sheppard said again, watching the Muc-muc go. "Bu-bye." When they had disappeared from sight, he rubbed his palm against is trousers, dislodging the wad of chewed up leaves from his hand. "Why do things like that always have to happen to me?" he asked Teyla, grimacing.

Nothing else to say, Teyla smiled beatifically.

The stunned Bochwey shuffled about, mouths agape at the sight of the Muc-muc. With a sigh, Sheppard asked, "Now, what the hell are we supposed to do with them?"

CHAPTER 22: DISGUST AND MORTIFICATION

Dr. Weir stood at the foot of the bed in the infirmary, watching as Beckett applied a balm to the burns on McKay's hands. He was splinted, receiving IV fluids, bruised, suffering from a mild concussion and first and second degree burns all along his backside. The worst burns were on his hands and the back of his neck. His gluteus maximus hadn't fared well either.

Beckett shook his head and tsked. "You've got to be more careful, lad. You might've gotten yourself into serious trouble."

"Got pretty badly singed in that chair," Sheppard commented.

Teyla commented. "It is good that Major Sheppard arrived when he did."

"Good thing," Ford added.

"Yes, good thing. Very good thing," McKay admitted. "Of course, I would've managed to get out on my own, eventually. Just had to catch my breath."

"That's right," Sheppard said with a nod. "You just go right on telling yourself that. Meanwhile, the Kenny Rogers Roaster was about to get a new menu item."

McKay opened his mouth to speak and decided it was best to ignore such comments. He continued on, "If you'd managed to keep that guy from getting into the pit, that would have been even better. I might've been able to access the weapons platform if I'd been given more time."

Weir nodded tightly, "About that, Rodney. How many platforms did you find?"

"I recall seeing six."

"You could control six different weapons platforms from that one position?" Weir responded excitedly. "Just think about what that would mean against the Wraith!"

"Yes, think about it… well, that's what I've done," McKay sighed tiredly, wincing as Beckett manipulated his wrist. "It would be a marvelous thing. An incredible thing…and it's impossible."

Sheppard made an exasperated sound. "Great. And how do you know this? Like you said, you didn't have enough time to really check things out."

"When your little friend set off that defense mechanism," McKay responded waving around one hand as Beckett worked on the other. "It drained everything! Kaput! Not even enough power left to get the Energizer Bunny a charge."

"And there isn't any way we can power it up again?" Weir asked.

"Got any spare ZPM's on you?" McKay asked. "'Cause if you got one, I could really use it."

"No, not on me," Weir responded dryly. "Is that the only solution?"

Letting out a sigh, McKay responded, "It might not even work anymore. I may have fried it."

Sheppard added, "And besides, I don't think the Muc-muc want us back there."

"But you said that they were friendly," Weir commented.

"Friendly enough," Sheppard replied. "They also seemed pretty capable of taking care of themselves. If they don't want us there – I have a feeling that they can make that happen. I think we want to keep them friendly."

Nodding, Weir commented, "There may be a time when it becomes imperative to access that chair again."

Consenting, Sheppard responded, "Then we wait until we have a means of actually using it before we go disturbing them again."

Weir paused. "Agreed," she commented.

With a shrug, Sheppard commented, "Besides, they might be willing to lend us a hand if we ask nice. We did get rid of a pest for them."

Smiling, Weir asked, "And, so what did you do about the Bochwey?"

"They were a bit reluctant to leave," Sheppard admitted. "Seems they really wanted to get their hands on that chair in spite of everything. But after we convinced them that the Muc-mucs would make mincemeat out of them – literally – we got them to go."

Chuckling, Ford added, "I think they were pretty happy with the chance to get back to their home world. Clean up… put on some pants…"

Ignoring the conversation, Beckett kept his attention on his patient. He asked softly, "Could you turn your arm a bit, Rodney?"

McKay complied as Beckett continued to work the cream into his blistered skin. "You know, that's rather nice stuff," the astrophysicist commented. "I mean, it really takes the sting out."

Beckett nodded. "Aye, it's made from those leaves that Major Sheppard brought back from the Muc-muc world."

"What?" McKay cried.

"I'm callin' it Muc-mush," Beckett informed him.

His face growing red, McKay tried to jerk his hand back. "You're using unregulated holistic remedies on me?"

Beckett hadn't released his hold, so when Rodney tried to tug away he only ended up wincing and giving up immediately. Satisfied that he'd won that little battle, Carson stated, "We had the leaves examined. Dr. Zimmer finds that the plant has amazing healing properties."

Aghast, McKay cried, "You didn't spit in this stuff, did you? I mean… your spit…on me…."

Not knowing whether to laugh or look offended, Beckett just shook his head. "No," he answered succinctly. "We have machines capable of breaking down the cellulous to an acceptable level, and inert material to form it into a salve. No saliva is involved."

"Good, good," McKay responded. "And so, you tested this out, right? Surely there's some noble folks around here willing to be test subjects for a good cause."

Smiling, Becket replied, "You're my first subject."

"Great…great…Experimenting on me again," Rodney groused.

"Aye," Beckett stated, finishing his work and releasing McKay's arm and gave it a friendly pat. "You're my favorite guinea pig."

"Strangely enough, I feel touched," McKay responded as he brought his hand close to his chest.

"Honestly," Beckett commented. "Even if we can't access that chair, it'd be worth returnin' to that planet to get a few of those plants as samples. We're gonna be runnin' out of medications soon enough. It'd be a good thing t' have somethin' to use when the time comes."

Both Sheppard and McKay groaned, but Ford brightened. "So we have to go back there?" he asked. "You know, we didn't get a chance to collect any of those berries."

With a long exhale, Sheppard stated, "But those Bochwey were so annoying."

Teyla smiled placating at the two. "But they have departed."

"I'd be pretty damn happy if I never had to see them again," Sheppard stated.

"By the way," Weir asked. "You did record the address of the Bochwey home world, didn't you?"

"Yes, ma'am," Ford returned quickly. "And put it on our 'do not call' registry. We're not going there… no way."

"Good man," Weir responded, giving him a nod.

"Now," Beckett said wearily. "If you'll all leave. I have to finish administering this salve. Off you go now."

Sheppard shrugged. "Figure we'd hang out for a bit more," he stated, still feeling bad about leaving McKay alone in that pit for so long.

"Yeah," Ford added. "Didn't have anything else planned for the day."

Digging his hand into the container of ointment, Beckett said, "Well, it'll need to go on his burnt bum next, and…"

"Carson!" McKay exclaimed. "What are…"

"See ya later," Ford said quickly, turning toward the door.

"Gotta go," Sheppard added immediately.

"I believe I've seen enough posteriors for the day," Teyla commented.

Weir said nothing, blushing, averting her eyes, and making her way quickly toward the door with the others. It was a mass exodus, a stampede, a near riot, as the four of them tried to cram their way out of the room at the same time. Poor Sgt. Tanner was caught up in the turmoil as he was arriving at the infirmary to have someone check on his possible laryngitis (he hadn't spoken a word in days). He was pushed away with them, unable to voice his concern, didn't return.

Frowning, McKay forgot his wariness, he shouted after them, "Am I revolting to you? Am I abhorrent? Do I disgust you?" But the others had already gone, leaving him with Beckett with his handful of goop. "I'm mortified!" he declared. "Absolutely mortified."

"This isn't pleasant for either of us," Beckett said, trying to keep a stiff upper lip, as he pulled the curtain closed around them. "Now, flip yourself onto your side and bare all. Don't be bashful. Careful of that knee, now."

McKay could only sigh and do what he was told.

THE END - and thank God for that...