Rating: T

Summary: Zelenka gets whumped, McKay and Sheppard get attached, and situations get… misconstrued. Fluff, smut, and pseudo-slash abound!

Genre: parody/humor/angst

Disclaimers: Good god almighty! They would be running to their mama's in tears if I owned them. So, no, I don't own SGA or SG1. Nor do I own or claim rights to Geraldo Rivera, Al Capone, Carmen Electra, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Kenny G, Billy Idol, Percy Sledge (or any of their music), Jerry Springer, Lifetime Television, 'Girls Gone Wild', 'Dirty Harry', 'Lethal Weapon', 'The Crying Game', 'The Big Chill', 'Titanic', Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, or McDonalds. I also borrowed significantly and with great love and affection from 'Die Hard', 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show', various Monty Python movies and skits, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' series, and 'Almost Live'. If you are confused about a reference, drop me a line and I'll explain.

Spoiler's: There are a few hints, here and there, but nothing gets spoiled. However, everything in Season One is fair game.

Archiving: Willing to talk about it, but for now, no.

Feedback: damn straight!

Author's Note: This story is part of my Dictionary series and as such references and builds on those stories. This is also a response to Derry's Zelenka whump challenge on SGAHC. The whumpage may not be as intense as she was looking for but I went for the bonus points on this one instead. One final note, if anyone thinks of taking this story seriously, they need more professional help than I do for writing it. However, the desire to shower repeatedly after reading this is an understandable reaction. Special thanks to Koschka for the beta read. In addition, all slashiness is a direct result of her influence over me and her passionate belief that Rodney's lips should touch no one's other than her own or John's.


by liketheriver

im•bro•glio(im-brōl'yō), noun, a very confused or complicated situation.

Radek Zelenka had experienced pain before; at least he thought he had. He had known the icy-hot spike of a pinky toe breaking as he slammed it into a chair leg while making a sleepy midnight run to the bathroom. He had struggled to look manly in front of the new girlfriend he had just slept with for the first time as he lay in the floor cradling his foot, cursing her furniture while at the same time praying the darkness concealed the tears leaking from his eyes. He had known the can't-stand-straight agony of a slipped disc, made all the more difficult by the fact that he had had to calm his mother as she worried over both him and the antique end table he had managed to drop in the process of injuring his back. He had even known the goddamn-mother-fucker-son-of-a-bitch pain of shooting a piece of metal through his thumb with an electric-powered staple gun. The irony being that, opposed to the Czech he resorted to for cursing on Atlantis, he had spouted those words in English as he jumped from the step ladder and paced around his grandfather's workshop, knowing that the old man wouldn't understand the profanities he had learned from the bootlegged copies of American action films like 'Dirty Harry', 'Lethal Weapon', and his favorite, 'Die Hard'. They were movies that made his teenage self long to be a cop in a country where the police were little more than the pawns of a corrupt government and agents of intimidation. His parents, who had lost too many friends and family to a system that made a person vanish for asking the wrong questions, would have disowned him for just suggesting such a career path. Still he loved them, longed to be the gun-toting heroes known as Harry Callahan, Riggs and Murtaugh, and Roy, the lone cowboy, a.k.a. John McKay. No, that wasn't right. Not McKay, but McClane, John McClane. However, there was something familiar about the other, still wrong, but familiar nonetheless. But right then, he couldn't remember.

Right then he was too busy experiencing what true pain was all about. It didn't involve watery eyes while a pretty girl held an ice pack on his toe, and it didn't involve his mother chastising him for his clumsiness while gently putting a pillow behind his back. It didn't even involve cursing in English or Czech. What it did involve was curling up into a quivering ball on the ground, screwing his face taut and watching colors explode against his closed eyelids. Color, the pain actually had color; reds and blues and an amazing shade of violet that caused him to hiss in a stuttering breath between tightly clenched teeth.

He rode out the swell of pain, retching emptily at the subsequent nausea as there was nothing left to come up. He lay on the ground panting, trying to clear the fuzz and remember just where he was and why he was there. In the not too far distance he could hear the waves and for a moment he thought maybe he was still on Atlantis. But then he moved his head, feeling the texture of sandy soil and sea oats and knew that wasn't the case. He was on land, the mainland, and he had come to repair the portable desalinization unit that supplied the Athosians with water. He fought to remember why he was here alone. Surely he wouldn't be out here by himself. Then he remembered.

He had been there with Patrice Rajm to affect the repairs. She had gone for help when the pain first started, making her way the five plus kilometers back to the settlement. Hopefully, she was there by now, although there was nothing in her build that would indicate speed. Stocky and short limbed, her movements were more duck-like than gazelle. But she was an amazing engineer, capable of coaxing additional outputs from systems that had flustered her colleagues to the point of hysteria and homicidal rage. It was why he had requested her help on this project, having never taken into account the potential need for athletic prowess. No doubt she would be back with the jumper soon; because they had come by jumper he was certain. It had been flown by that young sergeant. What was his name? God, usually he was so good with remembering names. Sergeant…. Blue eyed and baby-faced to the point he had to wonder if he had even had a driver's license back on Earth… Markham! Yes, Sgt. Markham. One of the few ATA pilots on Atlantis, and that was the problem

It was coming back now, the memories as well as a new round of pain. One jumper was partially disassembled so that Patrice and her team could study the exhaust systems. Another jumper was trapped in the mud on M3C-882, buried by a landslide that had exposed colonies of killer frogs. The planet had only recently been deemed safe to return and extricate the jumper with the use of a second craft. That left the fourth jumper to carry Radek and Patrice to the mainland for the emergency repairs of the water purifying unit. Only halfway there, Dr. Weir had called Sgt. Markham, indicating that Sgt. Stackhouse had just successfully negotiated a new trade treaty and his jumper was needed to ferry supplies between Atlantis and her new trade partner's home world. Markham had dropped the engineers with a promise to return before nightfall and retrieve them. If worse came to worst, they could hike back to the settlement and spend the night with Halling and the Athosians and a jumper would come for them in the morning, only worse had come to worst in the worst way possible.

The pain grew, white hot and molten, searing a hole through his abdomen so that he could do nothing more than curl up even tighter and writhe in the sand. Vaguely he recalled that there should be another jumper, but he couldn't remember where it was. Then it came, flashing through the firework of colors exploding in his brain. Sheppard and McKay had it on an off-world mission. That's why that name had sounded so familiar. Only it wasn't John McKay, it was John Sheppard and Rodney McKay. Not unless Kavanagh's rumors were correct and they had finally given in to their secret desire for one another. Only, surely they would have invited him to the wedding if they had. God, the thought would have been funny if he hadn't had it in the throws of agony. The beginning of a laugh turned into a pathetic moan as the pain spiked sharply. Sand clung to his sweaty face, but he didn't care. He was dying. There was no other explanation for it, and right then, if it meant an end to the torture, he welcomed it.

The colors were becoming smaller, still as intense but being crowded out by an encroaching darkness. He wished he was capable of typing, reaching his laptop and leaving a last will and testament. Instead he turned his face and mumbled into the beach as a shower of red passed behind his eyelids. "To Dr. Kavanagh I leave my collection of 'Girls Gone Wild' DVDs in hopes that he will remove stick from ass if he finally gets laid, even if only by his left hand." An explosion of blue filled his vision. "To Dr. Elizabeth Weir I leave red boxer shorts in hopes that she will think of me when she looks at them as I was thinking of her when I stained them." A blinding magenta came next and he choked on his words. "To Major and Rodney Sheppard, I leave hope that someday all will accept their forbidden love." With a final delirious giggle, the colors were gone and so was the pain as blessed blackness filled his mind.

Major John Sheppard maneuvered Jumper One as best he could through the gate and up into the jumper bay. Technically, the original Jumper One was still buried on Frog World, but as far as he was concerned, any jumper that he was piloting was designated Jumper One. He was ranking military officer here on Atlantis and with rank came privilege, as well as the right to call the ship he was piloting any damned thing he wanted. It also came with various excess baggage, usually figuratively, but today it was a very literal interpretation in the form of one Dr. Rodney McKay. Rodney hunched to his left, using his left hand to hold onto the overhead consol for balance. Normally, he would have been seated during the landing, but today wasn't normal. Because today, Rodney's right hand happened to be attached to John's left hand by means of an ingenious little locking mechanism they had found on M7C 452. No, today definitely wasn't normal. Only, he had to admit, that the lack of normalcy was beginning to become the norm in his life so it was getting harder to distinguish between the two.

The mission had been going so well, too. They had found what appeared to be an abandoned (obviously) Ancient outpost that McKay had decided had been their equivalent of a security station. That little revelation had piqued his interest more than anything else. Not that finding an outpost wasn't cool enough, but one that might have a few gadgets even he might find useful in their fight against the Wraith was at least one step beyond cool. The team had made their way through the facility, P90s lighting the darkened hallways, when they had stumbled across a treasure trove of Ancient goodies in a storeroom.

Rodney had actually let out a little squeal of joy, which he quickly covered by clearing his throat, at the shelves lined with new toys. Ford and Teyla had set up a perimeter, while he watched over McKay as the scientist bounced like an over-stimulated lotto ball from one side of the room to the other, talking a light-year a minute, thinking at anything that might possibly glow blue while he hypothesized about the use of each. Problem was nothing seemed to respond. After a while, the fangirl giddiness that Rodney had originally displayed slowed to hopeful exploration, skipped right over disappointment, and moved straight on to genuine outrage that the Ancient power sources couldn't last a mere ten thousand years.

It was becoming increasingly obvious that McKay's find of the century had in actuality been about as exciting as Geraldo's opening of Al Capone's vault. It was also becoming increasingly obvious that Rodney had come to the same conclusion, as he had been ranting on about his theory regarding the fact that the Ancient gene had only seemed to manifest itself naturally in certain military types and practitioners of bad juju while bypassing anyone astute enough to count beyond twenty-one, twenty if female. According to the illustrious Dr. McKay, this only proved that they were not the advanced race the SGC had always thought or that the Ancient gene pool had reduced to a puddle and excessive inbreeding had brought down a once proud race. Rednecks of the universe, he had called them, complete with a front yard full of broken down equipment that was good for nothing more than spare parts and throwing at their dim-witted, chromosomally-challenged offspring.

Figuring it was best to just let his friend talk himself out and knowing that could take a couple of lifetimes, John had started picking up various object and inspecting them out of boredom. When he stretched his empty left hand for what appeared to be nothing more than a glass cube, Rodney called out a warning from beside him, reaching out a hand himself to swat John's away. What John hadn't noticed was that the metal bar lying beside the cube had started glowing blue as soon as he reached across it, something McKay obviously had noticed, and before either of them could react, the bar expanded, segmented, and latched around one hand each.

Of all the little gizmos that could have sustained power for the past several eons, it would have to be the Ancient equivalent of a pair of handcuffs.

"Just what the hell were you thinking trying to pick up something that started glowing?" Rodney demanded. Before John could answer, the physicist continued. "You just came out of goddamned stasis because you couldn't keep your hands to yourself. This just goes to prove my theory. I swear to god, a telephone pole probably branches out more than your family tree."

"I wasn't reaching for this, McKay."

"As if that makes the slightest bit of difference."

"Look, just get this thing off of us before I start having a panic attack at thinking of being connected to you for all eternity."

"Well, Weir has been saying we should do some sort of team bonding exercise."

"Bonding, Rodney, not bondage."

"Potayto, pototo, Major."

"Just get this damn thing off of us."

"Okay, on three think 'release'. One, two, three… Nothing happened."

"I can see that, Rodney."

"Okay, then think 'off'"

That didn't work either. Neither did, 'free', 'let go', nor 'get the fuck off of my wrist'. McKay had concluded that the cuffs evidently recognized their genes as prisoner genes and would therefore not release them if they gave the command. And after trying to release it manually using his left hand, an emergency signal mirror to see underneath the unit, and a leatherman, Rodney had finally thrown in the towel and admitted it might just be easier to head back to Atlantis and get help there. The fact that John refused to hang upside down so that he might get a better view of the underside of the device contributed greatly to his decision.

So here he was, back on Atlantis, with McKay nearly crashing the jumper when he gestured out the cockpit window and caused it to veer dangerously to the left. "Oh, look, there's Carson."

With a frown, John yanked his hand back to the controls and maneuvered the spacecraft down. The back hatch opened and Teyla and Ford exited followed by John and McKay. Carson approached them, carrying his field kit, followed by two medics and Weir. The look of worry on Elizabeth's face wavered momentarily into amusement when she saw the two men exit the ship.

"Do I even want to know?" she asked.

Rodney glanced toward John, "Let's just say some people never learn and leave it at that, shall we?"

John took in the medical team and with a hitch of his head asked, "What's up?"

"Medical emergency on the mainland," Elizabeth explained. "We've been waiting for a jumper so that Dr. Beckett and his team can respond."

"Well, we need Carson for a second first." Rodney held their attached hands toward the physician. "Think this thing off of us."

"Why me?" Carson demanded.

McKay rolled his eyes. "Because the mechanism thinks we're supposed to be restrained in it, but another ATA gene should be able to release us." When Carson looked hesitant, Rodney sighed. "It's not going to hurt you, it's attached to us. If anyone is in danger, it would be me and the Major."

"Hey!" John demanded, trying to pull his hand behind his back.

"Nothing is going to happen," Rodney assured him.

Carson looked between the two men, grimaced, but reached a hand out to the device and closed his eyes. A jolt of electricity passed through John and Rodney, dropping them both to their knees with a shriek. Carson dropped beside the two with a wide-eyed, "Sorry, sorry!"

John glared at the astrophysicist still firmly attached to his tingling wrist. "I thought you said nothing would happen."

"Must be some sort of protection against just anyone trying to release the prisoner." Rodney screwed up his face in residual pain. "Son of a bitch, that hurt."

"Ya' think?" John could taste the metal from the fillings in his teeth.

"This is exactly why I don't like playing with these little toys of yours, Rodney." Carson told him as he and Elizabeth helped them to their feet.

"Okay then, off to Plan B." Rodney started toward the exit, catching himself with John's help when his right leg didn't move quite right due to the lingering numbness from the shock they received, but pulling John with a jerk when he didn't follow immediately. "Now, if you will excuse us, we need to find Radek and see if he can Houdini us out of this thing."

John yanked Rodney to an abrupt halt when he noticed how Weir's face paled at the statement. McKay started to protest the action but his outrage turned to concern when he, too, saw the look on the expedition leaders face. "Elizabeth?"

"He's not here, Rodney. In fact, Dr. Zelenka is who Carson is going to see."

"What happened? Why is he on the mainland to begin with?" Rodney demanded.

"Who's with him? You know the scientist don't go out on their own." John talked right over Rodney's words. He knew McKay was worried, as was he. He liked the little Czech, liked his style. He was friendly, funny, and ballsy. From what he had gleaned about his time in stasis, Zelenka had pretty much kept McKay acting like McKay; stepping in and providing the right balance of annoyance and babysitting to distract him from himself.

Elizabeth held up a halting hand. "He was on the mainland with Dr. Rajm and Sgt. Markham to repair the desalinization unit. I pulled Sgt. Markham away to support another mission. We don't know exactly what happened. We received a distress call from Dr. Rajm at the Athosian settlement saying he had collapsed at the work site. That's all we know."

"Dr. Weir, we're ready to go," one of the medics called from the hatch of the jumper.

She nodded her head to Beckett, "You have a go."

"Not without us, he doesn't." Rodney started toward the jumper, John following close beside him, although it had little to do with the fact they were still attached to one another.

"But what about that little shock collar on your wrists?" Carson asked.

"I can still fly with the old ball and chain, here." John assured him as he took the pilot seat, Rodney resuming his position to his left. "Besides, you may need to work on Zelenka on the way back. You can't do that and fly."

"Aye, unfortunately you may have a point," he conceded. John started the ship and lifted it out of the bay as Carson mumbled, "At least I won't have to listen to the two of you argue over who gets to fly."

Radek dropped, panting, behind a tree and rechecked the magazine on his 9mm. Three shots left; three shots and at least a dozen Athosian rebels closing in on his position. His extra clip sat uselessly in his vest that he had shed in the heat while he worked on the water treatment system. He considered his options. He could try to circle back, reclaim the precious ammo and the potentially life preserving Kevlar but he had no doubt the rebels had left a contingent at the desalinization unit. Question was, could he take them with the three bullets he had left? Probably not, but without resupplying, he had no chance of rescuing Patrice from the band that held her.

He wondered how everything had gone wrong so quickly. What had started out as a simple repair to the desalinization unit quickly went downhill when the rebels had stormed their position. They had taken out Sgt. Markham first, obviously assuming him to be the greatest threat of the three. They carried Genii weapons, probably smuggled through the gate one small arm at a time as the Athosians went on various trips to visit with family, friends, and trading partners. There would be no check for something like that as the Athosians returned from such trips. Why would there be? They were allies, the expedition's closest friends. They had no reason to fear them. He could only assume that they were working in league with the Genii to attempt another coup to wrest control of Atlantis from the Earthlings. It wouldn't have been difficult for the Genii to convince the more zealot-like members of the Athosians that the home of the Ancestors rightfully belonged to them and not a group of infiltrators from another galaxy.

NOBODY would expect the Athosians! Their chief weapon was surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise...Their two weapons were fear and surprise... and ruthless efficiency...There three weapons were fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Ancients...Their four... no...
Amongst their weapons... Amongst their weaponry...were such elements as fear, surprise... Well, it really didn't matter; just suffice to say Radek hadn't expected them.

When the raiding party had attacked, Radek had drawn his sidearm and managed to shoot four of the assailants as he headed into the trees near the beach. Behind him he had heard Patrice screaming as two men pinned her to the ground to bind her hands. He had turned then, planning to take them out with two well-placed shots. However, Patrice had fallen suddenly silent with a blow to her head and he had known he had no chance of helping her if she wasn't conscious enough to run on her own. With a final curse, he had turned away and dashed for the tree line.

Since then he had managed to avoid capture, slowly cutting into their numbers as he worked his way through the vegetation and tried to circle back toward the settlement. Surely this was just a small splinter group and not all the Athosians were involved. He couldn't believe Teyla would be involved in something like this. Sweet, pretty Teyla with a body that looked to be both hard and soft in just the right places and in just the right proportions. Still, she was the classic femme fatale; beautiful, smart, charming with a touch of innocence balanced with a hint of danger. Yes, the more he thought about it, she was probably involved, as well. Had probably been a double agent from the very beginning. Ah well, such is life. Still, he hated to think of Major Sheppard having to lock her away in chains. Then again, maybe that wasn't such a bad image after all.

A sound to his right brought him out of his thoughts. They were moving in, which meant he needed to move out. He shook his head at how simple the day had started. "Come out to coast, repair desalinization unit, have a few laughs…" he murmured to himself as he locked the magazine back into place with a satisfying click.

He heard another sound to his left and realized he wasn't going to get out of this without taking down another attacker. He looked down to his bare feet, wiggled his toes in the sandy loam, and listened as the person on his right moved in even closer. Almost….almost…now!

He burst through the undergrowth, gun raised and pointed at the startled face of an Athosian rebel. "Yippi-ki-yay, motherfucker!" and he pulled the trigger. The man's gun dropped from a suddenly limp hand. Radek quickly closed the short distance between himself and the dead man, knelt to pick up the weapon and felt a burning pain tear through his side.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. He had forgotten about the man to his left, the man who had just shot him. He pulled his hand away from the wound, noting with interest how the dark red of his blood matched the color exploding behind his eyelids perfectly. He slumped to the ground, curling into a ball against the pain, vaguely recognizing the face of the man looming over him, the man who had killed him, as Halling.

"Here!" Halling called as Radek's world went black, "I have found him!"

Halling rolled the nearly unconscious Earth scientist over as best he could. The man mumbled something in his stupor and Halling made a mental note to ask Teyla if she knew what 'yippie-ki-yay' meant, and exactly who's mother this 'fucker' he spoke of was.

He called to the rest of the search party, "Here! I have found him!"

"Dr. Zelenka," he told him as the other men gathered around the still form, "we received word from Atlantis, help is on the way." But it was obvious the man didn't hear him and he prayed to the Ancestors that the Earth doctor would arrive in time to help.

The flight to the mainland had never taken this long in the past he was sure, although by the crease above Sheppard's eyebrows, Rodney knew the pilot was flying as fast as he could.

"What the hell has that damned Czech done this time?" he mumbled. "I swear it is like being in charge of preschoolers; I can't leave the room without one of them hurting themselves."

"Relax, McKay, I'm sure he'll be fine." Although Rodney noted the furrow never eased on Sheppard's brow and his grip never relaxed on the controls.

"Easy for you to say, he's not one of yours."

"You're all one of mine."

"Yes, well, you would think that way, wouldn't you? And as touching as your martyr-like bravado and overblown sense of responsibility is, you're not the one that has direct responsibility to wipe the noses and kiss the boo-boo's of the science staff." John gave him a sideways glance, grimacing at the mental image. Rodney frowned. "You know what I mean. It's just that I can't be there twenty-four seven, what with my responsibilities off-world and all."

"Maybe you should leave someone else in charge while you're away."

"I did! Radek, as a matter of fact. Now do you begin to see my dilemma? He's the most reliable of the bunch and he's ended up in god knows what sort of situation out on the mainland. It's the mainland for Pete's sake! What could he do beyond tripping over some Athosian child? There are more dangers in the lab than over there. I shouldn't have to worry about the mainland. I have enough to worry about without adding that to my list. Keeping you and the rest of the team alive on missions takes up the majority of that list, followed closely by the energy consumption on Atlantis, keeping the gateroom operational, and finding us a way back to Earth. Oh and lets not forget about the impending Wraith attack, the Genii popping up again, and any other deadly plagues or creatures the Ancients might have squirreled away in a closet somewhere in the city. Now I have to squeeze in death-defying trips to what is for all practical purposes a petting zoo."

"You worry too much, Rodney."

"You looked in a mirror lately? Because based on the comment you just made and the state of your hair, I seriously doubt it."

"Fine, we both worry too much. Any suggestions on what to do about it?"

Rodney sighed. "Fly faster."

"Yeah, my thoughts exactly."

John's jaw tightened and Rodney could almost feel the extra oomph the Major was calling up from the craft. Although the inertial dampeners filtered any sense of motion, Rodney reached out a hand to brace himself from the falling sensation he inherently knew he should be feeling. On the horizon, he could just make out the outline of the coast.

"Oh, thank god," he mumbled as Sheppard called out to Beckett.

"Head's up, Doc. Land 'ho." Carson moved up behind the two men and looked out the window. "Where are we putting her down?"

"Dr. Rajm had left him at the desalinization station, so I'm assuming he's still there," Carson provided.


A display appeared at John's thoughts and Rodney pointed to an energy signature near the coast. "There. That blip should be the generator."

"All right, we should be there in a few minutes." Sheppard redirected the jumper toward the point on the navigation display and soon the ship was skimming the coastline. As they closed in on the target location the Major slowed the jumper so that the blur of ocean and land became distinct shapes racing by below them. Beckett seated himself in the copilot seat and all three men scanned the coastline, looking for any sign of their injured friend.

"There!" Rodney exclaimed, jerking John's hand away from the control once again as he pointed to a small band of Athosians waving up to them.

Sheppard yanked his hand back once again, sharp enough that Rodney let out a little grunt of disapproval. "We're here to help Zelenka, not crash the goddamned jumper on top of him," the Major gritted out between his teeth. "Stop pulling my hands off the controls."

Carson snickered from his seat. "I'm surprised you haven't cut that annoyance off by now, Major."

"Are you kidding me?" Rodney demanded, "I doubt a plasma torch would mar the surface of this thing. The metal the ancients used would give trinium a run for its money."

"I wasn't talking about the metal, Rodney. I was talking about you."

Rodney glared at the physician but John just grinned. "Don't worry, Doc, if one of the scientists can't get this thing off, my next stop is Dr. Biro and her rotary bone saws."

"Well, she'll definitely help, lad. I saw her offering to assist the kitchen crew last week with their butchering, just to have an excuse to use them."

Rodney shook his head. "Okay, that is just disturbing. Although it does explain the really nice cut of meat I had for dinner last night."

John sat the jumper down as the Athosians directed him and opened the hatch. Halling jogged up to the opening and met the medical team as they exited. "You must come. He lives but he is not responding. I believe he is in great pain."

Rodney pulled Sheppard up from his seat, tugging as he stumbled out of the jumper, intent on reaching the other scientist. Carson was already kneeling on the ground, calling to Radek but his only response was a low moan. At the sound, Rodney stopped short, causing John to once again jar to an abrupt halt a step in front of him.

"Goddammit, McKay, stop or go, just make up your mind because my shoulder can't take much more of this."

Rodney swallowed, licked his lips, and regarded his friend nervously. "Sorry. It's just…" Just what? That he had watched too many people, too many damn good people, die since they had arrived in the Pegasus galaxy, and that the thought of seeing one more was too much to bear? And this time it was Radek, crappy-music loving, womanizing, hair-styling Radek. The man who had been the cause of more visits to Elizabeth's office than anyone else on his staff. The man who drove him absolutely crazy and managed to keep him absolutely sane during John's stasis. And that didn't even take into account that he was a damn fine engineer. What the hell was he going to do if something happened to him?

Sheppard seemed to understand exactly. "Cowboy up, Rodney. Time to return the favor."

"Yeah," he agreed with a nod. He squared his shoulders and crossed the short distance to where the medical crew worked on the engineer.

"Radek, can you hear me?" Carson and the medics where trying to uncurl the scientist so that they could examine him.

"Carson? Is this you?" He moaned into the sand.

"Aye, lad. Can you tell me what happened?"

"Clen určitý bolest. Matka of Bůh , dotáhnout to daleko zastavit!"

"In English, Radek. I cannot understand you otherwise."

"It hurts."

"I know, and I plan to do something about that little problem just as soon as I figure out why. I need to check you out first."

Carson began his exam while Rodney and John dropped down on his opposite side. "Radek?" Rodney called.

"Rodney?" his eyes opened briefly and he looked to where McKay and Sheppard knelt beside him. "Major?"

John smiled, "Hey, how're you doing, Doc?"

"Aww, is sweet. You two are holding hands. Kavanagh was right."

"What?" the two exclaimed in unison.

"Oh, no," John shook his head violently. "You've got it wrong. See, we're handcuffed together." He lifted his arm, dragging Rodney's with him, who pointed and nodded in agreement.

"Ah, kinky." He reached out a weak hand and patted Rodney's knee. "Always knew you had it in you."

"Radek, don't even think about starting this shit with me…" Rodney began, but stopped when Zelenka let out a yell when Carson pressed on his abdomen.

"Ah ha, just as I suspected," Carson declared. "Radek, when did the pain start?"

Zelenka took in a few ragged breaths before grunting out his answer. "When rebels shot me."

John was on his feet in a second, sidearm drawn, dragging Rodney's arm up along with him as he scanned the tree line for any potential threat. Rodney rolled his eyes and with a disgruntled, "Please, spare me the heroics," yanked John back down to the ground. Sheppard, thrown off balance by the tug on his arm, lost his footing and landed in a heap on top of McKay. "Get…get the hell off of me! He hasn't been shot. Did you see any blood?"

"Radek, have you ever had your appendix out?" Carson asked him.

But he didn't seem to hear the question as his only response was, "Look, cannot keep hands off each other."

Rodney was pushing Sheppard off of him, crawling toward Zelanka. "You little son of a bitch! And to think I was actually worried about you."

"You are one to talk," he groaned. "I am lying here dying and you are too busy necking with boyfriend to notice."

"I swear to god, Radek, as soon as Carson saves your ass, I am going to kick it all the way back to Atlantis!"

Zelenka let out another moan, curling up again as he did. "Má bůh , zabˇt mne teď. Spravedlivý dotáhnout to daleko zastavit!"

Rodney's scowl of anger melted into one of concern. "R…Radek? Carson, can't you do something for him?"

Beckett was filling a syringe as the medics prepared to administer an IV. "Already taking care of it, Rodney." He injected the painkiller and watched as the scientist relaxed almost instantly. "There you go, lad. That should take the edge off."

"Is he going to be okay?" Rodney was almost afraid to hear what the physician had to say.

"We need to get him back to Atlantis. If I'm not mistaken, his appendix has ruptured. He needs to be in surgery right now."

John stood and pulled a rather stunned Rodney up from the ground with him. "Then what are we sitting around here for? Let's get him home."

"Aye, let's," Carson agreed, and within a few minutes the jumper was airborne once again.

Radek was flying before the Jumper even left the ground. The face of the medic securing him to the gurney stuttered before him, leaving a silhouetted residue of his image trailing after him as he turned away. He still felt the pain, but vaguely, at a distance, and compared to the hell he had been in previously, it was absolute heaven. He quickly decided that morphine had supplanted Carmen Electra's breasts as the eighth wonder of the world. He rolled a sleepy smile toward Beckett when the physician touched his shoulder.

"How are you feeling, lad?" he asked with his own small smile.

"I think I may propose marriage," Radek sighed contentedly.

"You wouldn't be the first," Carson told him with a pat on the shoulder. "Get some rest; we'll be back on Atlantis soon."

He nodded drunkenly and let his eyes slide shut as Carson settled down on the floor beside him.

When he opened them again, Carson was still beside him, only he was wearing nothing more than a pair of white cotton briefs. And they were no longer on the Jumper, but instead stood outside a castle door. Radek blinked in confusion. "Forgive me, but please to tell me where are rest of your clothes?"

Carson's eyes widened in shock. "I could bloody well ask you the same thing!"

He looked down and saw that he was wearing a woman's bra and slip, also in simple white. "Well, this is unexpected."

"I should say so!" Carson's voice jumped an octave as he tried to cover his body as best he could with his arms.

"At least is not raining," Radek offered, and on cue the sky opened up and the downpour began.

Carson gave him a murderous glare. "I really, truly hate you."

Just then the castle door swung open and revealed Kavanagh, Wraith-white hair flowing around his shoulders, dressed in a simple black suite. "Oh, now this is rich," the chemist sneered. "Where's my camera when I need it?"

Radek pushed past him out of the rain and into the foyer. "Out of way, Wraith-boy. No time to deal with Riff-Raff like you."

Kavanagh smirked. "Fine. Brad, Janet, the master will see you now."

Carson followed behind, shivering as water dripped from his bare skin. "Oh, bloody hell! I give you morphine and this is the thanks I get? Getting pulled into your demented Rocky Horror fantasy world?"

"Relax, maybe you will enjoy, yes?" Radek ran his hand through his rain-soaked hair, pushing it back to cling wetly to his head. He made a futile search for something to wipe the water off his glasses before finally settling on the hem of his slip.

"Not bloody likely. I nearly hyperventilated when I saw the damnable movie as a teenager and I was fully clothed with nothing more bizarre than a large 'V' painted on my face."

Kavanagh led them to the ballroom to find Patrice Rajm sitting off to one side with magenta hair, and French Maid outfit in place. Sheppard leaned casually against a table dressed in worn blue jeans and a leather jacket. Carson just shook his head and mumbled, "All the saints preserve us." Then louder he asked, "How much longer is this going to take, do you think, Radek? It's a wee bit chilly in here."

Music started then, piped in from all directions and Carson and Radek both looked around for its source. Riffanagh did a little sidestep, and struck a Fosse. "It's astounding… Time is fleeting…"

Carson walked purposefully across the room, shaking his head and waving his arms. "No, no, no, stop that, stop that. We'll have none of that. There will be no singing."

The music died away and Radek pouted. "You will ruin all fun. What is point of fantasy if we can no do 'Time Warp'?"

Rodney stormed into the ballroom at that point. "Well, thank god! Because there is no way in hell I am showing up in your drug-induced daydream singing and dancing dressed like this." This, of course, was gold boy-shorts with matching shin-high boots and nothing else. "And just whose idea was it that I got to be Rocky? I mean, honestly, the laces in these damned space boots have a higher IQ than that blond himbo."

Sheppard took a few casual steps across the room toward the scantly clad physicist. "Take it easy, McKay, you just look best in gold lamé, that's all."

Rodney shifted his weight, folding his arms self-consciously across his chest. "Really? You think?"

John sauntered the rest of the way over so that he stood directly in front of McKay. "Yep. It, uh, really sets off your eyes."

Rodney swallowed visibly. "My eyes are a few feet higher up my body, Major."

Sheppard never raised his gaze. "I know. And it's Eddie."

With a slight squeak to his voice, Rodney asked, "Eddie?"

"Yeah, you know, hot patootie, bless my soul, I really love that rock and roll. I even have a motorcycle."

He met McKay's eyes with a small lopsided smirk, causing Rodney to blink quickly. "M..motorcycle?"

Sheppard stepped in a few more paces, crossing the subtle line between personal space and intimate. "That's right. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? Ever felt that kind of power trapped between your thighs?"

"Is that an offer, Maj…Eddie?"

"Yeah, and I'll even take you for a ride on the bike after if you want."

"What do you take me for, one of your galactic 'hos?"

"Well, if the gold go-go boots fit…"

Rodney grimaced slightly. "Does this sort of juvenile banter actually get you laid on a regular basis?"

"You'd be surprised," John told him as he moved in near enough that the lapel of his leather jacket brushed against Rodney's bare chest.

McKay licked his lips and seemed to have trouble looking at anything beyond John's mouth. "Actually, right now, I, uh, I really wouldn't."

"So what do ya' say, McKay? Up for a ride?"

"Just to be perfectly clear about this, we are talking about having hot yet non-explicit man-sex, right?"

"Absolutely." John leaned in dangerously close, head tilted, eyelids sliding closed as he did. "They don't call them love handles for nothing."

Rodney took a step to the side and crossed his arms so that Sheppard actually staggered forward fighting to catch his balance. "Oh, well, isn't that romantic. Is this how you woo your space bimbos, as well? Compliment them on their heavy hips and excess back fat? I have to tell you, Major, finding out you're a chubby chaser and I'm your latest conquest in that arena is really not much of a turn on."

John frowned in frustration and poked his finger into Rodney's chest. "You know what would be a major turn on for me, McKay? If you would just shut the hell up."

From behind them Radek let out a sputter. "That will be day. Will need to take cover from all the pig crap falling from sky."

Rodney glowered at the Czech. "I refuse to consider any opinion valid that comes from a man wearing a bra stuffed with two rolls worth of water-logged Charmin." Radek just frowned back, placing his hands protectively over his 'breasts' and causing a stream of rainwater to run down his front. Rodney shot him a gloating grin.

Carson snickered. "It's true, Rodney. The only time your mouth stops yammering is when it's too busy eating to do anything else."

Sheppard addressed the two men behind him, although he never took his eyes off McKay. "Well, I plan to find other ways to occupy his mouth."

"Oh?" Rodney asked with a disgruntled roll of his eyes.

"As well as my own," Sheppard concluded with a flick of his eyebrows.

Rodney blinked twice and his eyes widened. "OH!" A mischievous smile spread across his face, mirrored by John's own. "In that case, Major, where's that bike of yours?"

Without another word, John took his hand and they sprinted out of the room together.

Kavanagh dropped with a smug smile into a high backed chair. "The biology department owes me fifty bucks."

Carson shook his head, leaning against the chair Kavanagh sat in. "Well, this definitely can't get any stranger."

"Wrong again, Carson," came an amused voice from the top of the stairway.

The physician looked up, mouth agape. "Dr. Weir?"

"Dr. Weir-n-furter, if you please," she told him as she strutted down toward them in fishnets and heels, bustier and garters.

"Oh, dear god," Carson whimpered as his head dropped into his hands. "You are a sick little man, Radek."

Kavanagh simply stared. "Well, that's something you don't see every day."

She shook her frizzy hair and licked her blood red lips with a wink at Carson. "It's not easy having a good time." She walked deliberately toward Radek, who backed away until he was trapped against the banquet table. Weir ran her fingers along the strap of his wet bra. "But I'm willing to give it a go for you, Doctor. That is, if you can stand the anticccccipation."

Radek's eyes widened and he nervously raised a finger to push his glasses back that seemed to be steaming over from more than just condensation. "Ah, Dr. Weir…" At her disapproving frown, he completed the name. "…n-furter, perhaps we should…."

She placed a finger on his lips to silence him. "Let me make one thing perfectly clear." She took his glasses from his face and tossed them carelessly behind her, plumping her lower lip in a pout. "Dammit, Radek, I want to screw." With a delirious smile, Radek's eyes rolled back and he let Elizabeth drag him down below the table, completely ignoring the wet squishing sound that came from his bra as she pressed against him.

From off to the side he could hear Patrice speak for the first time. "Oh, lovely…nothing else?"

To which Carson replied, "No, no, fair lady, the rest is too smutty."

Yes, thought Radek gleefully, yes it is.

With a jar, Radek opened his eyes, sensing as much as seeing the motion of ceiling passing by above him, blinking against the brightness of the periodically spaced skylights that helped illuminate the hallways of Atlantis.

From somewhere beyond his feet, he could hear Rodney telling the Major, "Markham is bringing Patrice back now. If anyone besides me or Radek can get this thing off, it will be her."

"She better, because I wasn't kidding about going to see Biro."

Rodney sighed dramatically. "Well, then she's sawing off your hand, not mine."

"Given the alternative of you spending the night in my room, I'll take losing a limb any day."

"As if I would ever spend the night in your room, the overpowering aroma of gun oil aggravates my sinuses."

"Oh, and you would be able to actually find the bed in your trash heap?"

Radek let the voices murmur and fade until they became as disjointed as the ceiling tiles passing dizzily above him. Absently he thought it was a shame that they would argue over such petty things, but knew it was typical of newlyweds.

He let his head roll sloppily to the left and he looked up to see a red form moving in time with the gurney he rode on. "Elizabeth?" he asked hazily. He grinned when he remembered the last time he had seen her and how her lips had been almost the same shade as the shirt she now wore.

Dr. Weir looked down with a raised eyebrow at the uncommon familiarity of his address. "Dr. Zelenka." She stressed the title, although she smiled calmly at him. "You're back on Atlantis now. Don't worry, Dr. Beckett and his team are going to take good care of you."

He felt the light touch of her hand on his upper arm, even as his eyelids fluttered shut once again. "Yes," he mumbled contentedly, "no worries."

Rodney read through the report on his laptop, covering a yawn with the back of his hand even as he glanced casually toward the sleeping form of Radek in the hospital bed to his right. Biology reports. Could there be anything more boring? Sure, someone probably found the fact that the ground nuts indigenous to M5C 912 appeared to be the primary diet of the small rodents on the planet while at the same time being toxic to the local reptile population intriguing. He, however, was not one of them. Not unless they could use the nuts to make a pie with here on Atlantis. He inserted a comment into the electronic file to check on that possibility before passing the report on to Elizabeth, thankful that Dr. Rajm had been able to successfully remove the restraint from his and John's wrist so that he could type without constraint. Still, as appealing as the thought of Pegasus Pecan Pie sounded, he couldn't stop the next yawn from escaping.

As if on cue, as steaming cup appeared between him and the computer screen. "Coffee?"

Rodney took the offered cup from Sheppard and turned with a hopeful look. "Real coffee?"

"Nah, but its easier to say than roasted quarvane root flavored with lorka bark." He took a sip from his own cup. "Mmm, mmm, mmm, good to the last drop."

Rodney grimaced against the first bitter mouthful. "You know, as fast as they were spreading back on Earth, I'm surprised we haven't seen a Starbuck's here in Pegasus yet. They are the Bubonic plague of corporate coffee, what're a few million light-years compared to that?"

"I'm waiting on a Dunkin' Donuts, great coffee and maple bars all in one stop."

"Don't talk to me about anything maple, Major. Right now, the word alone makes me homesick."

"Homesickness? Gee, McKay, I didn't think you were capable of such sentimentality. That would imply that you actually considered someplace as…home."

Rodney frowned in disapproval out of habit alone. Sheppard made a very valid point. It had been well over a decade since he had last resided in Canada and a few years since he had even last visited as there was really nothing or no one he felt compelled to see. Obligated, maybe, but nothing beyond. Still, all those places he had lived since- D.C., Nevada, Colorado, Moscow, Antarctica- had been nothing more than work locations, temporary duty assignments with nameless, faceless coworkers passing through on the same nonpermanent basis as he himself. Then had come Atlantis, located across the universe from everything he found familiar. There was no coffee or maple or Big Macs or televisions. They were trapped with the threat of hostile aliens that made the Goa'uld look like nothing more than annoying vacuum cleaner salesmen. And as fascinating as the technology of the Ancients could be, he would give his right arm for a toilet that he could actually sit on instead of…well, best not to linger on that thought because he sure as hell didn't linger on the device any longer than necessary when the need arose. And yet, despite all the hardships, the trials, and the risks that Atlantis and the Pegasus Galaxy represented, no place had ever felt so much like home in his entire life and no group of people had felt more like family than the ones he had found himself sharing this adventure with.

"I have a home, Major, it just doesn't happen to have maple syrup."

Sheppard smiled in agreement. "Yeah, it doesn't have coffee either." He took another sip of his beverage then nodded toward the bed. "How's he doing?"

Rodney sighed, "Carson says he's lucky to be alive, lucky the infection didn't spread through his entire system. But he also says he's going to be fine."

"Well, then that's good news. Has he been awake since he came out of surgery?"

"In and out." Rodney rolled his eyes. "He still thinks we're involved…romantically."

John sputtered and choked on his coffee. "Sorry," he said when he stopped coughing, "It's just first you use the term homesick and now romantic. Maybe Beckett should check you out while you're in here."

Rodney glared. "Hey, I can be romantic. If we were having sex I could romance your ass off."

Sheppard threw his hands up over his ears. "Jesus, McKay! Are you trying to strike me deaf? My ears are going to burn off the side of my head if you keep talking like that."

"It's not me, it's him!" Rodney pointed an accusatory arm at Zelenka's sleeping form. "You know the last time he woke up, he was convinced we were getting married and kept asking what we wanted for a wedding gift."

"Well, if he asks again, tell him towels." Rodney glared at him and Sheppard just shrugged. "What? I only brought one with me and it's getting a little threadbare."

"Yes, a towel is the one of the most useful items in the galaxy." Rodney told him sarcastically.

"Hey, I know where my towel is, it's just worn, that's all."

"Fine, the next time he comes around, I'll just tell him we are getting married, that we want him to read Vogon poetry at the ceremony, that Babelfish really are the reason we can understand everyone we come in contact with in this galaxy…"

"It was a valid theory," John pouted.

Rodney just gave him a sideways glance and continued, "that forty-two has replaced sixty-nine as our favorite sexual position…"

"I don't think there is a sexual position called forty-two."

With a shake of his head, Rodney raised a finger in explanation. "As anyone who isn't a virgin is well aware, sex is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, therefore, any sexual position is forty-two."

John seemed to consider for a second then nodded his head, "You make a very compelling point, there."

"And to improve on my theory about how you and Carson inherited the ATA gene and I didn't, the Golgafrinchams were really the Ancients. And the reason they lost to the Wraith had nothing to do with being outnumbered; it had to do with the fact that they couldn't get a plan of attack out of committee."

"So the Ancients are no longer rednecks, they are ineffectual middle management suck-ups?"

"Well, it sure goes a long way in explaining why the ascended ones can never help anyone. All those restrictions have nothing to do with morals, they have to do with no one willing to step forward and make a decision without passing it on to a dozen different planning boards."

A groggy voice from the bed drew both men's attentions. "Oh, good, are both here. Can discuss my song list for reception. You like Celine Dion?"

Rodney sighed and rolled his eyes dramatically. "Oh, no, absolutely not, Radek."

"And no Michael Bolton, either," John piped in with a grin when Rodney glared at him.

"You are not helping matters!" Rodney hissed at him.

Sheppard just shrugged, "Last time I was a guest here in the infirmary, I thought you were a Wraith and tried to kill you. What's a harmless wedding singer fantasy compared to that?"

"Have you heard him sing? Because I think I'll take you trying to throttle the life out of me any day over that. In fact, if he starts, I may ask you to do it to put me out of my misery."

"Thank goodness!" Radek exclaimed weakly. "Celine Dion, Michael Bolton and Kenny G, unholy trinity of wedding music. Easier to strangle cat than sing 'Titanic' song again."

John smiled down on the semi-conscious engineer. "Glad we're in agreement, Doc. You just go with what you think will work best, we'll trust your professional expertise in the matter." Rodney shook his head in frustration. "Oh," John continued with a smirk in Rodney's direction, "and we need towels."

"Towels. Yes, yes, 'his and his' towels. Excellent gift." The last was said in little more than a mumble as the scientist drifted off once more.

Rodney dropped his face into his hands. "Why? Why am I cursed to be trapped in an alien galaxy with people like you? What did I ever do to deserve you two miscreants as friends?"

John raised his cup to take another sip as he slapped Rodney on the shoulder. "Whatever is was, it must have been pretty damn good."

Rodney fixed the man grinning around his coffee cup with a glower, but he couldn't help thinking that on some level, John was probably right.

Radek untied the bowtie on his tux and let it hang casually around his open shirt collar. It was a warm night, even though a light breeze blew in off the waves. He shed his jacket, draping it carefully across the back of a chair that sat off to one side of the small stage. There would be no replacing it if it was damaged and although this was the first official wedding in Atlantis, he was sure it wouldn't be the last. And given the number of people anxiously awaiting his next number on the makeshift dance floor, he had a feeling he would be called on again when the time came to provide the evening's entertainment. He shuffled through the tracks on his homemade karaoke machine, finding the one that he wanted and pressing play. A few of the dancers let out little whoops of excitement when the familiar guitar riffs began. Radek grinned at their anticipation, bobbing his head in time with the music until the vocal cue arrived.

"Hey little sister, what have you done? Hey little sister, who's the only one?"

The dancing resumed in earnest and Radek surveyed the crowd seated at tables and standing and talking in small clusters around the balcony. He noticed Rodney standing at one table, smiling and chatting with a couple of biologists and marines. He was dressed in a simple white linen suit and Radek couldn't help but roll his eyes that the man had had the audacity to wear white, but then he figured it was his first marriage and he did make a radiant bride so he could indulge his particular whim of fancy.

It had been a beautiful ceremony with Kate Heightmeyer officiating, her voice quivering in excitement when, after the recitation of the vows, she told the two men they could kiss. The Major was a striking figure in his dress blues. And honestly, who could resist a man in uniform? Ford had stood in as best man with Kavanagh as maid of honor, hair done up in a romantic upsweep with curled tendrils softly framing his face. That had surprised quite a few guests, as they had figured either Teyla or Elizabeth would have filled that role. However, neither woman was thrilled by the prospect of the marriage, giving even more speculation to the Sheyla and McWeir rumors that had been running rampant through the city for months. However, in the end, it was the McShep gossip that had won out, prompting Rodney to point out that even though they were currently several million light-years from Earth, they were close enough to Connecticut and far enough from any military review boards for any marriage to be considered legal in his book. Who would have thought that two people that partook in a chance encounter brought about by drunken curiosity and Mardi Gras enthused exhibition and inhibition would meet years later on the opposite side of the universe? That a 'Crying Game' inspired moment involving black sequins and White Russians would have resulted in matrimonial bliss? It was the stuff of fairytales and Lifetime movies… or at the very least, an appearance on Jerry Springer.

"It's a nice day to start again. Come on, it's a nice day for a white wedding. It's a nice day to start again."

Radek scanned across the crowd and found the table where Teyla and Elizabeth sat smiling through their tears whenever John or Rodney looked their way and glaring deadly daggers in their backs whenever they turned around. They were joined by a surprise guest, Chaya, dressed in a pink waitress ensemble that set off her pouty expression perfectly. It turned out that she had been punished further for revealing her true nature to John, so that she had been banished to the café where Oma Desala worked, sentenced to a fate worse than death that involved wearing her current attire while serving waffles to Anubus for all eternity. And whereas John had been sympathetic to her plight, Rodney couldn't hide the gleeful glimmer in his eyes as she told her tale of woe.

"And there's nothin' sure in this world. And there's nothin' pure in this world. Look for something left in this world. Start again."

John excused himself from a group of people leaning against the railing of the balcony and made his way across the dance floor, stopping along the path to shake a hand or return a greeting, until he finally reached the table where Rodney stood chatting. Radek watched as the Major placed a familiar hand on Rodney's arm, leaned in and whispered something in his spouse's ear with a mischievous grin. When he finished, Rodney met his eyes with a smirk and flick of his eyebrows. Any good wedding singer worth the weight of his audio equipment knew what that signal meant. With a small flourish he finished off 'White Wedding', slowed the tempo on his karaoke machine, and prepared to sing the final song of the night.

John and Rodney moved hand in hand to the dance floor as he began singing.

"When a man loves another man, can't keep his mind on nothing else. He'll trade the world for the good thing he's found…"

Percy Sledge may have sung the original, Michael Bolton may have rerecorded it, but no one had ever sung it like Radek Zelenka. As the two men swayed to the music held tight in one another's arms, other couples joined them. Radek smiled contentedly, satisfied by the 'and they lived happily ever after' ending he was witnessing. Off to the side, he noticed a figure sitting at a table with a few other engineers. Patrice Rajm smiled when he met her eyes, wiggling her fingers in a small wave. He winked, deciding her table would be his first stop when he finished his last song of the evening.

Radek woke with a peculiar craving for waffles and the inexplicable desire to watch 'The Big Chill'. He blinked, trying to clear his blurry vision, only to realize that the effort was futile as he wasn't wearing his glasses. He attempted to push himself up into a sitting position, only to hiss as the motion caused pain to eat into his side.

"Here, let me help you with that," Carson offered as he moved to the controls of the bed and the mechanism lifted Radek's upper body to a more comfortable angle.

Radek offered thanks to the physician that he hadn't even noticed until he had provided his assistance.

"Are you in pain, lad?" Beckett asked.

"A little, yes." He shifted, placing his hand on his side and feeling the bandaging that resided there.

"I'll have the nurse bring you something." He smiled cheerfully. "Well, you finally seem to be back amongst the land of the coherent. This is good news, although Dr. Rajm will be disappointed."

Radek gave him a confused look. "Dr. Rajm did not want me to wake up?"

"No, no, no. I didn't say that just right. She's been sitting here waiting for you to wake up for a while now. She'll be disappointed that she wasn't here when it happened. I just sent her away to get some lunch a few minutes ago."

"She has been waiting for me to wake?" Radek found that revelation a little unexpected and yet satisfying.

"Aye, among others. Rodney was here for quite a while when you first came out of surgery, along with Major Sheppard…"

Radek had the most ridiculous image of the two men dancing and sputtered in laughter, only to stop and moan from the sharp pain the act caused. Carson grimaced in sympathy. "You might not want to do that for a while, yet."

Radek grit his teeth. "Now you tell me this."

"Sorry, but as I was saying, Peter has been by, as has most of the engineering staff, Sgt. Markham even stopped by, I'm afraid he feels a wee bit guilty about leaving you stranded on the mainland, and, of course, Dr. Weir has been here."

He flushed red at the image of Elizabeth that popped into his head, safely filing it away for future, more private, reference. He cleared his throat at Carson's concerned frown. "So, Patrice has waited by bedside?"

"Aye. You seem surprised."

"Yes, I suppose I am."

Carson shrugged. "Well, I'm not." He made a few notes in Radek's file as he spoke. "It is a fact of infirmary life; people will sit by an injured team member's bed for hours on end. Quite honestly, I'm not sure if it is more for the patient or the teammate, but all in all I think it does everyone a bit of good."

"So, she will be back soon?"

"I'm expecting her any minute now." He flipped the chart closed and regarded the recovering scientist with a friendly smile. "Now, if you will be all right by yourself for the time being, I'll go see about getting those meds I promised you."

"Yes, yes, I will take pain killers over company any day."

"I thought as much. Back in a bit." And he left in search of a nurse.

Radek leaned back against the pillow with a sigh, thinking back over the past few days' events. Deciding that many of his memories were much too hazy and…bizarre, to be anything except remnants of dreams. He seriously doubted anything as confusing and complicated as he remembered had happened. An attack by Athosian rebels? Ridiculous. Dr. Weir molesting him under a dining room table? Absurd. And seriously, why in the world would Rodney and Major Sheppard be handcuffed together?

He did remember the growing pain in his abdomen that he had originally attributed to a bad piece of fruit at breakfast and quickly decided it was much more than that. By that time they were on the mainland with no jumper to return to Atlantis, he was already doubled over, barely able to stand while Patrice had stared wide-eyed and in a near panic from her position under the desalinization unit. It wasn't long after that that he had watched her run as quickly as her short little legs would carry her toward the Athosian settlement in search of help. No, she wasn't built for stealth and speed, that was for sure, but she probably had plenty of endurance. And endurance, he pondered, definitely had certain advantages if applied at, shall we say, appropriate times.

He had never really considered it before, but she really did have a nice smile, pretty eyes, and could DeWalt any piece of equipment into submission with the best of them. He found himself looking forward to her return from the cafeteria. Maybe she would come and visit him over the next few days while he was in the infirmary. Maybe when he got out, she might want to watch the 'Big Chill' with him. And maybe, if he played his cards right, they could have waffles together the next morning. Nothing complicated, just a movie and breakfast. And if that went well? Well, he could always ask Rodney about those handcuffs.

A/N Complete!