I needed a break from writing Asclepius. It's going to turn even darker over the next few chapters, so I'm psyching myself up to write it. This story makes minor references to things introduced in Asclepius, but there are no spoilers.
I decided to take Pike2 up on the challenge to write an episode with "all sunny smiles and nothing happening." OK, something does happen, but at least there's no angst! Just one clueless astrophysicist, one snarky Major, and one very annoyed Scottish physician.
This story was inspired by a friend's account of what happened during her first day in private practice.
Almost forgot. I do not own any of these characters or any of Atlantis. I'm just a kid playing in someone else's sandbox.
I was sitting in my office, making use of a lull in the action by catching up on some articles, when I heard it. From the sound of things, at least two people had descended on my infirmary. And one of the two was not happy. I had a sudden suspicion and peeked outside my door. Sure enough, two of the biggest babies in Atlantis had been placed by a nurse in one of the exam cubicles. The first could face down armed soldiers and a 10,000 year-old Wraith from hell, but would carry on like a wee bairn when it came time to see the doctor. The second... well, let's just say that strangling Rodney McKay might be legal here in the Pegasus galaxy.
There's an ongoing betting pool wagering on which of them will be injured more frequently. Last month I lost big time to Peter Grodin. Had to give him two of my precious teabags, the bloody bastard.
Lord only knows what they'd gotten themselves into. Looked like Rodney was the lucky winner this time. From the smirk on John Sheppard's face, whatever had happened was probably more embarrassing than dangerous, though one never knew with these two. I gritted my teeth, put on a sarcastic smile, and walked over to the two delinquents. "Well, lads, what's happened this time? Rodney blow up another piece of equipment? John, did you get thrashed by Teyla again?"
Rodney muttered something unintelligible.
"What was that, Rodney? I didn't HEAR you!" John said with a peculiar emphasis on the word 'hear'.
Rodney took a deep breath, "Abugflewinmyear," he said in a single breath. Sitting next to him, John almost lost it.
I just looked at him. "Excuse me?"
"I said, a bug flew in my ear," Rodney snapped. "What's in yours, Carson? Cotton? Or did too many ether-sniffing parties finally take their toll?"
Before Rodney could launch into one of his endless tirades about the worthlessness of Scottish medical practice, I stopped him with one of my patented glares. I always did get a kick out of the effect simply staring at someone has. Throw in a raised eyebrow or two, and they're as meek as lambs. Served Rodney right for that damned voodoo comment, anyway.
"From the beginning, son. The short version," I said in as commanding a voice as I could manage.
The jumper flew effortlessly over the wide expanse of ocean. Against his better judgment, John had let Rodney take over the controls. He was doing surprisingly well.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Don't act so surprised, Major. I do pay attention to what you say every now and then."
John snorted. "That's comforting, McKay. Thanks."
"Tell me again why we're doing this? Not that it hasn't been loads of fun listening to you mock me."
"We're going to the mainland for food. Unlike you, most people don't live solely on powerbars."
"Come on, McKay! The bug's going to turn into a fossil by the time you're done!"
I tended to agree with John. Rodney gets irritable when other people ramble, without recognizing his own tendencies in that area.
"Yes, well you would know about insects, Sheppard. Don't you have something else to do? Things to go shoot?"
John took the sniping in stride. If anything, his grin grew wider. "I'm just here to provide "aural" support."
Ouch. That was bad, even for John. I cut the banter short to avoid prolonging the agony. "Your standup routine is interesting, lads, but you should'na give up your day jobs. Can we please get on with this?"
"McKay! Hurry up with those... whatever they are."
Rodney huffed as he swung the heavy sack down to the ground. "I didn't exactly notice you moving so quickly, either. And these pseudo-soybeans are heavy!"
John shook his head. "You really shouldn't be naming things, either. Hey, watch where you're stepping!"
Too late. Without looking, Rodney had stepped backward onto what looked like an anthill. Flying insects buzzed around aimlessly, then dive-bombed Rodney and John. "Good job, McKay!" John yelled while waving his arms around and trying to shoo the flies away.
"Hey, don't you push them towards me! I'm horribly allergic to bees, did I ever tell you that? I might be a dead man just by standing here!"
"Relax. They aren't bees. Just stand still and they'll leave you alone."
"Oh, and that's why you're flapping your arms around like a crazy man? You... Ow! Ow! Ow! One of them just flew into my ear! I am SO screwed!"
"I didn't see anything fly in your ear, McKay." John said defensively.
"I can hear it buzzing! You think I'm making that up?"
There actually was a buzzing noise coming from McKay's direction, even though no bugs were visible. "Did it bite you?"
"Not yet, but I know it's thinking about it!"
"If you can read insects' minds, you're in sorrier shape than I thought. All right, grab the sack and we'll head home. Shall we show "The Fly" for movie night tonight?"
John quickly ducked as Rodney threw something at him.
"So that's what happened, Carson. Don't you laugh at this!"
I know I shouldn't be laughing at a patient's predicament. Physician empathy and all that. But I had no qualms about poking fun at a friend, particularly one as annoying as Rodney could sometimes be. I know, I've got a wicked streak. What can I say.
"So how are you gonna get it out, Doc?" drawled John.
How, indeed. I knew I was a good doctor and a damned fine scientist, but I definitely didn't see this sort of thing every day. Seems like I had read an article about it once, though. Well, it couldn't hurt to try what I had in mind. If it didn't work, I could always call the entomologists and their giant fly swatters. I turned to Rodney and explained the procedure.
He didn't take it well.
"You're going to pour mineral oil in my ear!" he yelped.
I tried to be patient. "It will cover the bug, who won't be able to breathe. At that point, it will just crawl out and go somewhere else with more hospitality."
"The roach motel!" John chimed in.
Rodney hadn't seemed to grasp it yet. "But you're going to pour mineral oil in my ear!" he repeated.
"If you don't quit carrying on, I'll make you drink it!" Actually, I wouldn't do that. Rodney with gastrointestinal side effects was more than I could deal with right now. But there was no reason he needed to know that.
Rodney threw up his hands. "Fine!" Then he turned to John. "This is all your fault."
"Me? What did I do?"
I left them bickering and grabbed a bottle of mineral oil from the supply room. Then I had Rodney lie on his side on the exam table. I filled an eye dropper with oil and dropped it into his ear. The results were impressive. The bug flew out like... well, like a bat out of hell, and John proceeded to kill it using a traditional Earth-based method.
As he was putting his shoe back on, John couldn't resist getting the last word. "Sure gives a new meaning to "stick it in your ear", doesn't it?" he asked innocently.
I began to bang my head gently against the wall. I wondered how long it would take to get back to Earth by puddlejumper if I started out right away.