Title: The Mome Rath Hasn't Been Born That Could Outgabe Me!
Summary: Snark for snark, chit for chat. Zen-like musings at lunch break.
John prodded the food with his fork, drawing his hand back quickly in case it decided to prod back. So far, so good. He poked it again, just to make sure it was awake, and not just ignoring him.
McKay watched with frank interest, a hint of something behind his eyes that might have been identified as disbelief had Sheppard been looking. Fortunately, he was too preoccupied on carefully turning the plate, just to make sure no eyes were blinking at him.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with your food?"
Sheppard thought consideringly, chewing on the green mush that might once have been vegetables. Swallowing, he gave the scientist a grin. "No."
There was a moment of companionable silence.
"You know what I don't get?" Sheppard said. McKay arched his eyebrows, waiting for the major to enlighten him. "We get the brightest minds for everything. The best engineers, the best botanists, doctors—"
"Astrophysicists," McKay added, mumbling around a mouthful of food.
"I wouldn't have forgotten Zelenka," Sheppard said.
"Elizabeth must have been pretty high up, too, though I never heard of her in the political circles," Sheppard mused, as though he were thinking out loud.
"Well, she must have been someone," McKay said. "They wouldn't just grab some random diplomat off the street, tell her the most important global secret in the history of Earth—"
"That we know of."
"That we know of, and send her to lead a team to another galaxy," finished McKay.
"Point. But I mean, we get all these people, the best of everything… why couldn't we have gotten the best chef? I knew a cook down at this little restaurant—"
"Please. Not while I'm trying to get."
Sheppard frowned. "But he was an awesome cook."
"I know. I don't like to be reminded how bad this food is."
"Ah." Sheppard nodded. He poked at his food again, decided not to chance the stuff that might have been Jello except there was not supposed to be a dessert in the meal, and shoved the tray aside. McKay seemed to be pondering something, which meant that if Sheppard waited a second, soon he would say something, and it might be interesting.
He was not disappointed.
"What I don't understand—"
"You don't understand something?" Sheppard feigned shock. "And you're admitting it?"
"Well, even the most brilliant of minds can't know everything. I would be too perfect to bear if I did."
Sheppard's muttered, "You're not already?" was either not heard or ignored.
"All of the most brilliant minds in the academic community up and disappear. They stop publishing papers, no more lectures… and no one notices?"
"I'm sure the government came up with a cover story," Sheppard began, but McKay cut him off, shaking his head furiously.
"What, that we all moved to the Bermuda Triangle? Doesn't it seem a bit suspicious to outsiders that they all left at the same time, even if the government gave them the best cover story of all? I mean, the scientific community is tight-knit, and a massive global disappearance of the greatest minds of our time is sort of hard to miss."
There was another silence, when McKay nudged Sheppard's foot underneath the table.
"What are you thinking about?"
Sheppard stared at some point over McKay's shoulder, eyebrows crinkled in a thoughtful frown. One eye squinted slightly in a way that should have made him look demented, but somehow didn't. McKay could never pull that look off. He kicked the major again, this time with a bit more force than necessary.
"I said, what are you thinking about?" said McKay, shoving another forkful of food into his mouth.
"I think I left the water on at home."