CATEGORY: Gen, Humor, a little angst ;)
Copyright Disclaimer: The Stargate Atlantis characters, as presented on the series, belong to MGM, Sci Fi, and other registered copyright holders. No copyright infringement is meant or intended by the writing and posting of this material. I'm just borrowing the characters and the universe for a piece of non-profit 'fan fiction' and will return in one piece (well, usually). However, all original characters and story material are copyright to author. Please do not repost this fiction, in whole or in part, anywhere, without expression written permission of the author.
SUMMARY: Sheppard's team has a really bad experience on a trading mission, but then they return to Atlantis to discover some things have changed – and not for the better..
"Ford, if you can't dial us out, just shoot me. And not in the foot - between the eyes," Sheppard ordered as he stared morosely at the DHD, which was surrounded by scrubby weeds. "I can't take this anymore."
"Oh, that's it, take the coward's way out," snarled McKay, picking at the shredded remains of his shirt.
Sheppard's eyes narrowed to dangerous slits that focused like a targeting device on the aggravated scientist. "Don't tempt me to shoot you first, DOCTOR McKay. If you hadn't opened up your big yap—"
Ford uncharacteristically slammed his hand on the DHD, grumbling, "I'm dialing already!"
Sheppard's jaw dropped open. He knew it had because a second later he had to spit out a fly that decided to investigate the new cavern that just appeared on the landscape. Ford had never once talked back like that.
Lord, this whole mission was so FUBARed that why shouldn't he expect Ford to snap as well?
"Sorry," Ford suddenly apologized.
"Gentlemen," interrupted Teyla, her voice low and threatening. "I think we can all agree that if Dr. McKay had not responded to Adaran's request, then YOU, Major Sheppard, would not have said that very regrettable remark…"
Sheppard could feel himself flush slightly at the steely look the small Athosian was giving him because hell, how was he to know that one simple sentence could have gotten so misconstrued? Geez, most of the aliens in the Pegasus Galaxy spoke English!
"And Lieutenant Ford." She just growled out a noise of obvious disappointment, worse than any hungry Grizzly bear looking at a sleeping bag-encased camper who resembled an oversized Twinkie. He got off lucky, but then of course, he'd kept his mouth shut during the ceremony. Damn, he wished he had.
Teyla took a step forward and McKay stepped back hastily, bumping into Sheppard, propelling him a step back but then he was sort of thankful as the stern look on the woman's face was downright scary. "If I had not been able to discuss the matter civilly with Adaran and Vorak, you, Dr. McKay, would have found yourself betrothed to Adaran for the remainder of your life, and you, Major Sheppard, might easily have ended up dead."
"Hey," protested Sheppard. "I was doing just fine—"
"Oh yeah, until Vorak kicked you in the family jewels," McKay muttered caustically.
"Mention that again and I will shoot you," threatened Sheppard, "Because I was defending you. I won't make that mistake again. Believe me," he snapped.
And he wouldn't. Vorak had played dirty. He should have swung a punch, but no, he'd suddenly swung a leg right where Sheppard hadn't expected it to land. The pain had just supernovaed throughout his entire body, obliterating all reason and thought from his mind. He might have screamed, or squeaked, he couldn't honestly remember, but McKay told him the black eye he now sported was from landing in a very undignified heap on the ground, curling into a ball, grabbing his nether regions and making a lot of agonizing noise. And that's why they were a day late in returning to Atlantis. He hadn't been capable of walking, let alone talking, for hours. He was basically okay now except that he couldn't help but keep his P-90 in front of that part of his anatomy in an irrational fear that Vorak might pop out of a bush to finish off the fight.
"Well, if you hadn't put the moves on Adaran," Sheppard continued, deciding to get his digs in at McKay. "I wouldn't have been so stupid to tell Vorak that you were making a mistake—"
"STOP!" Teyla ordered, her voice so tense that all the men were startled. "Both of you. Do not say another word. We do not need Vorak's six cousins—" She pointed toward the hill just fifty yards where a group of young but well-built men were standing; their send-off party to make sure they left the planet "—deciding that we are not leaving fast enough. Is that clear?"
McKay nodded, his head going up and down quickly like one of those stupid bobble-head dolls people kept in cars. Sheppard nodded slightly, mostly because he still had a headache from smashing his head into the ground, among other things.
The gate's blue vortex flared open a second later. Sheppard just wanted to abandon military protocol as well as dignity and run through like a madman to escape the insane people on this planet. And Teyla, too. She'd been in an unpleasant mood ever since they'd arrived on this miserable excuse of a cultural oasis of great trading partners. In fact, she'd been in a foul mood since the day before they left, well, not foul like Sergeant Strathers, whom he'd had to reprimand for shrieking a blue streak at Captain Branson over some stupid cranberry muffin in the mess hall just hours before they'd departed. God, was everybody just going insane?
He didn't care. He was escaping to his quarters, locking himself up and nursing his wounds. In private.
"Signal's sent through, sir," Ford said so quietly that he barely heard the lieutenant.
Everybody just stared at each other. Normally Sheppard would have said "Ladies, first" and put Teyla, McKay then Ford through, as he always followed last, but he felt mysteriously frozen in place. Damn, that wasn't fear, was it?
Teyla cleared her throat. It wasn't a pleasant sound. Ford took the hint, as did McKay. They scurried through the gate quickly, like terrified rabbits escaping a predator, and taking the hint, Sheppard followed.
The gateroom had never looked so inviting as it did at that very moment. He almost wanted to fall to his knees and kiss the cold hard floor except that would remind him too much of writhing in agony on the cold hard dirt of that wretched planet and he really truly wanted to forget that experience all together.
"We're back," he waved a hand up toward the control center where he spied a flash of red heading toward the stairs.
"Can't we just go see Beckett?" begged McKay.
Sheppard couldn't blame the scientist for whining this time. Adaran's two sisters had taken affront to his rejecting their sister (not that he had any choice) that they practically pulverized him with branches from a nearby thorn bush. Still, it was a lot less painful than that well-placed kick. And if McKay kept insisting that his wounds were more painful, Sheppard would be glad to plant his foot in McKay's groin and see how he liked it!
"You've been gone nearly two days!" Weir practically stomped down the stairs but then stopped midway. She looked pissed. McKay actually moved in closer to Sheppard. Was he scared? Well, two women back on that planet had beaten up the Canadian… "Briefing room. NOW," Weir snapped. She turned, heading back up the stairs in a manner that brooked no argument.
"What the hell was that?" he whispered.
Sheppard looked at the doors beyond. Dammit, for the first time in his life, he wouldn't mind seeing Beckett. He still felt sore, but then he saw the looks of the security guards. Marines, men of action, Wraith didn't scare 'em, but… they looked nervous.
"Let's get this over with," Sheppard said, but as he headed toward the briefing room, he veered a little to the side toward Sergeant Watkins. "Is there something we should know?" The burly Marine just cast a wary glance toward the stairs. "Sir. The less you say, the better," and he quickly departed with the rest of the guards.
Beckett stared at the lab results, nodding with a cheery smile at Nurse Havers, but she just burst into tears and left without the notepad she'd wanted signed. He felt like smacking his head into the keyboard, but he really didn't need any more misery. He envied the folks who were off-world on missions, possibly fighting off the Wraith rather than dealing with… Well, no, not really, not if--
He heard them before he saw them. Footsteps, some whispers, then Sheppard's team entered the infirmary. They were back!
"Oh thank god!" Beckett stood up, realizing that he was too late. Rodney looked around as if he were on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List and was making sure the authorities hadn't tracked him down. Ford had that glazed look of someone who'd been nailed with a Wraith stunner. He sat down limply in a nearby chair, and Sheppard…. The poor man just staggered over to a bed, crawled on top of it, grabbed the pillow and hugged it to himself as though it were a lifeline. He looked shell-shocked, for lack of a better description.
"Carson, what the hell is going on!" hissed McKay, taking a quick look out the door again.
"Good lord, please tell me that didn't happen here." Beckett gaped at the bloody scratches all over McKay's torso, visible through the torn cloth of his blue shirt.
"No, of course not." Anger and confusion were just reverberating off the scientist, and Beckett knew McKay had to be very agitated not to be sitting there complaining about all the cuts and scratches.
"Where's Teyla?" asked Beckett.
Sheppard's head popped up off the bed and his eyes looked around wildly, as if someone had just yelled 'wraith!' "God, she's not here, is she?"
"No, she went off to beat up somebody I'm sure," snapped McKay.
"What's wrong with him?" Beckett gestured at the prone major.
"He got kicked in the nuts," said McKay matter-of-factly.
Beckett was horrified. "Teyla did that?"
"No! That was my former future brother-in-law who did that," replied McKay dryly.
"I'm going to kill you, Rodney," seethed Sheppard from the bed, but the threat seemed idle. He hadn't moved an inch.
"Of course, whatever." Rodney turned to Beckett. "Like I said before, just what the hell is going on? First Teyla is all over us and then Weir…"
"Oh, she didn't debrief you, did she?" asked Beckett in trepidation. He was hoping he could head off that disaster. He'd seen what had happened when Stackhouse's team had gone to the mainland and back just that morning. It hadn't been a pretty sight.
Sheppard laughed, a harsh, slightly hysterical laugh. "What a bad choice of words." He grabbed the blanket that was folded on the bed and tugged it over himself. Beckett wondered why the man was trying so desperately to cocoon himself, and then remembered: oh yes, the kick in the goolies.
"Carson, please tell me that aliens have invaded the city and that was a pod-Weir we just spent half an hour being terrorized by." McKay was practically waving his arms, bits of shredded shirt dropping off him. The vision of a manic scarecrow came to mind, which Beckett had to shake from his thoughts. "First, she rips all of us new ones complaining that we never call and that we're constantly getting into trouble and trading off C4 and accuses us of starting World War III, and then Teyla HAD to bring up how the mission went."
Beckett heard a heartfelt groan from Sheppard.
"And then it went downhill from there," finished McKay dimly.
"I don't see how it could get much worse," Beckett said dismally, until he remembered his last discussion with Dr. Weir. He'd been banished to the infirmary and quite frankly, he was too mortified to test her dire threat of being drawn and quartered for his suggestion that certain personnel on the base…
"She spent fifteen minutes shredding the major over his hair," McKay interrupted, his voice still full of some unfathomable horror he'd been through.
"His hair?" Yes, the major's hair had never been quite regulation but still…
"Please don't make me repeat what she said," sighed McKay as he sagged into a nearby chair. "I swear, I had no idea Elizabeth knew so many military regulations. I thought she was going to scalp him."
"I'm not getting a buzzcut," came a determined voice from beneath the blanket. "I'm armed. I'll defend my hair to the death."
"For God's sake, get over it," muttered McKay.
"Ha! At least she only assassinated my hair," Sheppard said wearily. "She went after your complaining."
"She complained about your complaining, then?" asked Beckett.
"I don't complain!" argued McKay.
"Can I be doped into oblivion?" Sheppard asked, no, he practically begged. "I want to forget the last two days ever happened. Maybe some painkillers."
"Well, before I do that, I should explain." Beckett set aside the notepad he realized he still had in his hands. "Rodney, you're half-right."
"I am?" McKay blinked. "About what?"
"An alien invasion," replied Beckett.
Sheppard instantly sat up, but looked a little queasy at the sudden motion. "What aliens?" He looked around warily, his hand gripping the P-90 still clipped to his tactical vest. "If there was an invasion…"
"Do ye remember the botanical samples that Sergeant Stackhouse's team brought back two days ago?"
"The daylily plant?"
"Well, yes, that plant that looked like a daylily, but I think was more like a peace plant," countered Beckett.
"Carson…" Sheppard warned in a low tone.
"Yes, anyway, I'll make this story short, as the last time I told the long version, well, I don't think Elizabeth would actually have me slowly tortured to death, but I'm not going to push it. The plant had a pod on it that burst, and regrettably, the pollen got into the base's air circulation before we knew it. It's affected one particular segment of the population. It's not lethal, but…"
"Affected, how?" asked McKay urgently. "And are we in any danger of infection? Wouldn't the—"
"Calm down," insisted Beckett. "It's not communicable, so Atlantis' alert system didn't impose a lockdown, and thank god, the symptoms will all subside by tomorrow."
"Symptoms?" prodded Sheppard.
"Those affected exhibit intense irritability, mood swings, and I'd say a craving for chocolate biscuits but I honestly don't know and I am not going into the mess hall no matter what. Sergeant Strathers is still down there."
"She nearly took my head off the other day," offered Sheppard, frowning in thought. "Wait, wait, this sounds familiar."
"It does," added McKay, looking confused. "It's not West Nile, is it?"
"Oh, for pity's sake!" snapped Beckett. "Major, I can understand YOU not getting it because you're probably still in shock from being kicked and then being…" He paused, just staring at the man's unruly hair – Elizabeth had complained about that? - "…mentally abused, and we'll check on the former in a minute, but Rodney, well, you're brilliant in some matters, but obviously clueless in others."
"Oh god," Sheppard hissed, hugging the pillow to himself. "It's just the women, isn't it? That's the population segment."
"What are you talking about?" McKay asked bluntly.
"With the exception of a few, all the women on base have an artificially alien-spore induced form of PMS. Rodney, I dinna need spell that out the ramifications of that for you, do I?"
McKay's eyes widened in dawning dread. Beckett had seen a lot of that expression over the last 24 hours. Even that cute little Japanese scientist who worked with McKay hadn't escaped the spores' evil influence. McKay should really avoid his lab for a while unless he wanted to be verbally assaulted. "What do we do?" McKay asked timidly, as if someone might overhear.
"Besides hide?" suggested Sheppard. "I've got dibs on the jumper."
"There's nothing we can do, I'm afraid," sighed Beckett. "Just wait it out, but I'm advising you that none of you say anything you'll regret…" He paused a moment as he saw odd glances being shared amongst McKay, Sheppard and Ford – "..as the women are all going to remember their behavior tomorrow."
"Well, there is one bright side to this," said Sheppard, sliding back to a prone position on the bed. He curled up and covered himself fully with the blanket. "Rodney's griping is going to seem tame after this."
"What?" blurted McKay.
"Now," Beckett grabbed the Canadian by the arm. "Let's go look at all these scratches. Been tormenting wee cats or something? You're scratched up something fierce, and while I have you here, I need to talk to you about those dessert things that Bentha brought over from the mainland."
"I could sure use one of those now," McKay sighed, and if to accentuate his desire, his stomach grumbled. "You're a lifesaver."
"Well, you see," began Beckett.
"No, no, you didn't," McKay wailed in distress.
"Sorry, lad, but Nurse Hennings, she had a syringe…"
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