Sticks and Stones
Disclaimers – I don't own 'em and if I did I could quit my day job. I'm just borrowing and I'll put them back where I found them. Thanks to MGM, Gekko, etc. for the fun.
Rating: little bad language but if you're reading one of my fics you should already know about that.
"If ye'd just sit still this would be over quickly, Rodney. Quit squirming?"
Rodney McKay scowled at him. "I'm not squirming. I'm manfully suppressing my agony as you treat my living flesh like a prop on a cheap television drama."
"Oh will you . . ." Carson Beckett, MD, Ph.D., much-put-upon, lifted his hands from his needle and took several deep breaths. "It was not MY idea for you to put your hands in that device, my friend. You reap, pardon the expression, what you sow."
"Oh hah, hah, hah," snarled McKay. "Actually I reaped and you are sowing. Badly too."
"Do you want to do this yourself? I'll be glad to stand aside for a master such as yerself!"
"No, no, I'm willing to suffer to allow you to practice. You obviously need it."
The sudden clearing of a throat made both men jump and look up. Teyla Emmagen stood quietly, watching them. Beckett narrowed his eyes. She was actually standing not-so-quietly. Not for her. She was . . . fidgeting.
"Something I can help you with, Lass?"
"Oh, right, just leave me hanging!"
"Please, Dr. Beckett, do not interrupt your efforts. I can see you are busy. I can return later."
Beckett made a sour face at McKay. "It's just a wee scratch and I'll only be a moment."
" 'Wee scratch'?" McKay twitched again. "It's just a huge, bleeding gash, but don't let that distract you."
"You do appear to be engaged," said Teyla softly.
Both men shot her a narrow eyed look now, and this time it was McKay who blurted out, "Look, it's just Carson not being able to hold his coffee. He'll pick up speed when his hands stop shaking."
Teyla smiled slightly, and made a vague gesture towards the door. "Later . . ."
"No!" Both men spoke up. Beckett sighed. "No, have a seat. I'll be with you in a moment."
"I am not ill, Dr. Beckett. Truly. I just had . . ." she paused and fidgeted again, twitching back and forth on the stool where she now perched. Started over, "I wondered if I could ask a question."
This time even McKay noticed the odd behavior, meeting Beckett's eyes with a puzzled frown. "Of course, you can always ask us anything."
"Well." She frowned slightly. "I am not truly familiar with your speech, not all the expressions. I heard an expression I do not understand."
"Mm hmm." Beckett shot her a look then went back to tying off his stitches. "An' what expression would that be?"
"Ah . .. " Now she was tugging at her fingers in a distinctly un-Teyla movement. "It is simply that I overhead one of the marines - one of the new ones from your home - refer to me as Teyla Cumagain, and I was confused and had wondered if I needed to correct him but . . . but his friend was laughing and I thought that this might not be a mistake which he made. Do you see?" Her hands had gone still, but only because she clenched them in her lap. Both Beckett and McKay had stood and were scowling. Beckett caught Rodney's look and consciously relaxed his face as Teyla looked up. And blushed. He didn't think he'd ever seen her blush before.
He crouched by her feet and looked up into her face. "Teyla, dear, when did you hear this?"
She winced. "Last night."
"And it bugged you all night long." McKay didn't ask it. He stated it.
She relaxed back and nodded. Then smiled ruefully. "Yes. I felt . .. offended. But I was not sure that I should."
"Oh you most certainly should, dear!" Beckett felt his mouth tighten.
"I know I feel offended and they didn't even say it to me!" McKay spoke for them both. "Sheppard'll be up with the jumpers right now, and we can catch him -"
"No." She shook her head and raised her hands. "No. I do not wish to tell him of this."
"But . . ." Beckett looked up, caught McKay's eyes again. "Lass, Teyla, I'd not want to let such an insult go like that."
She smiled a bit more widely. "Why do you think I will let this insult go, Dr. Beckett? I merely wished to be sure of what they had said." She frowned a bit. "And you have still not explained."
"Uhh . . . " Both the men with her fidgeted now. Shared another look and smiled apologetically. "It was rude."
She arched a brow. "And do you believe that I have never heard an insult before? I merely wish to know what they said before I teach them not to say this again."
Beckett fidgeted some more. Thank heavens he wasn't the only one, as Rodney was over there shifting foot to foot like ants were in his pants. His gran would have asked the man if he needed to run to the outhouse and Beckett briefly wished she were here. Maybe instead of him. He turned back to Teyla. "I just hate to see it, Teyla. It's such a mean spirited thing."
She scowled. "Then is it an insult to my father or my mother?"
"Nooo . .. " Rodney briefly wore a grin. "No, it's more like about you act. Or maybe about how they WISH you acted."
Both her eyebrows arched. "You are not so circumspect most times, Dr. McKay. Can you not just say it?"
"Uh . .. " He looked at Beckett again. "Carson would kill me."
"I would not! But the Colonel might!"
Teyla snorted. "I may need to tell him after all, simply to find out what they actually said!"
"They called you an easy lay," blurted Rodney.
"Layyy . .. " she rolled the word over her tongue. "And this means?"
"Uhhh . . ." both men looked at each other again. And Teyla suddenly burst into laughter. "Oh, you mean they wish to . . ." She made a ring with her thumb and forefinger and what she did with the other had both men blushing.
"Teyla!" Beckett sounded scandalized.
McKay stared at him then back to Teyla, who wore a surprised look, though her eyes sparkled mischievously. "Dr. Beckett, surely this act is familiar to your people too?"
"It . . .I . . "
McKay rolled his eyes. "Teyla, don't pick on the poor doctor. You know he's an innocent."
"I am not!" Beckett spun, glaring at him.
"Oh come ON, Carson! You blushed!"
"You did too, Rodney!"
"That's . . . that's just my Canadian complexion." He lifted his chin. "It's a northern thing.?"
"An' I would'na understand, is that right Rodney?" Beckett reached out and shoved him lightly. "You realize y're a freak of nature?"
"You would be referring to my superior intelligence of course?"
"Actually, I was thinking of your capacity to contain such a remarkable quantity of fecal material, but I suppose the intelligence would count too."
"You are . . ." McKay's mouth twitched. He knew it too, and thinned and his lips into a line he'd always considered to be firm and resolute. No matter what his second ex-girlfriend said. "I refuse to stoop to your level of puerile insult, you sheep-shanking son of a bitch."
Beckett tucked his chin and grinned. "Y're an asshole."
"Who are you calling . . ." A motion caught the corner of his eye. "Teyla?"
The Athosian had been heading for the door. She stopped and looked around, brows arched. "Dr. McKay?"
He watched her a moment, until she tilted her head and shot him a quizzical look. "Where are you going?"
"I have learned what I needed to know, Doctor. I have an insult to redress."
McKay let a slow, evil smile curl his lips. "That sounds like an excellent idea."
"It most certainly does not!" Beckett shook his head. "Teyla, what are you thinking?"
She looked puzzled. McKay heaved an exaggerated sigh. "She's thinking what any intelligent person would be thinking, Carson. Revenge."
"Aw lass," Carson shook his head. "You don't want to do that."
She looked puzzled. "I do not?"
Carson opened his mouth, shut it. His brows knit into a puzzled frown. "Well. No. You don't. Do you?"
"Of course she does!" McKay glared at him.
"Rodney." He was targeted by a disapproving stare. "You are not helping things."
He sniffed. "Of course I am! Tell him, Teyla."
"He is helping." Teyla had wandered back to them where she leaned against the bed next to McKay. She glanced at the physicist, then back to Beckett. "Isn't he?"
"Teyla!" Beckett rolled his eyes, heaving a dramatic sigh. "I'm not sure which of you two is worse."
McKay slid a sidelong look to Teyla, who smiled back. And winked. He blinked in shock, then shook his head ruefully at the inordinately proud look on her face at mastering a new bad habit. Beckett tapped his foot. "You have been spending entirely too much time with bad influences, missy."
She smiled brightly. "Thank you."
"That's not . . ." He groaned and threw his hands in the air. McKay leaned back and played with the ends of his stitches until the doctor slapped his hand away. "Stop that."
"Why do you say that for all the fun things?" McKay scowled.
"An' what do you mean by that?" Beckett huffed.
Teyla kicked her heels back and forth. "If I were to hazard a guess, I would say he refers to your disapproval of my intention to . . . discuss the insult given me."
"Ah, it was discussin' you were planning to do, then?" Beckett sounded skeptical.
"How could you think anything else?" McKay came to the defense of his teammate. "Wait, you thought Teyla . . Carson! How could you!"
"Actually, Dr. McKay, I had planned very few words with Corporal Chase."
"Oh great, way to waste a perfect defense, Teyla!" McKay shook his head in mock disgust.
"Teyla," sighed Beckett. "What would revenge solve, girl? That you can beat this corporal up? You already know that."
"But he doesn't." She raised both eyebrows.
"But . . .but . . ." He waved his hands impotently, then let them drop. Considered a moment, then stood a bit straighter, jaw a little firmer. "Taking revenge only proves you can fight better than him, lass. It doesn't make him see you as a person he should respect, and isn't that really what's called for here?"
"Why?" Her face creased with puzzlement.
"Well, what if it happens again? You can't beat up every fool man on Atlantis."
Beckett's mouth opened, and stayed open. McKay grinned. "Because you'd never get anything else done, Teyla."
She grinned. "I am certain they would learn, given time."
"Have you met my staff?"
"Rodney, you are NOT helping!"
Teyla heaved a long sigh. "Dr. Beckett, you would say that in doing this I would become no better than the one who gives me offense? Or perhaps that force does not teach anything but fear? Or perhaps that we simply need our people unbruised?" She tilted her head, expression expectant.
"Yes!" He nodded emphatically, smiling. "Exactly! All that!"
She frowned thoughtfully. "But it was not I who gave first offense, and this man may profit by learning a degree of fear for what he does not understand. Perhaps he will think before insulting another woman if he realizes that women are not as he has believed." Her expression cleared to a shiny smile. "And as for the bruises, I promise not to break him!"
"That's . . . that's very considerate of you, but I think you miss my point." Beckett's gone was gaining an edge of frustration.
"I think I do not." Teyla swung her heels again, sitting on the side of the bed. "Have you truly never taken offense at some remark, Dr. Beckett?"
"No! No, of course not," he blustered.
"Don't look at me," added McKay. "If I had a dime for every insult I could have bought my own cyclotron."
"Somehow I can believe that, Rodney," sighed Beckett.
"Oh, and you wouldn't have bought a level four containment lab or something?"
"Well . . maybe not a containment lab . . ." Beckett got a dreamy look in his eyes.
"Surely you have sometimes wished to . . . to correct someone who insults you?" Teyla spoke in a soft, persuasive tone and looked earnestly between them. McKay was impressed.
Beckett was not. But he was too honest not to admit it. "Oh, well . . . there've been times, I admit."
McKay nodded, seeing the infirmary but feeling, hearing, voices from long years before. "Oh, yes. You could say there have been times. Yep."
"Surely you both must know how words can sting like blows." Teyla sounded like she, too, was hearing voices long gone.
"Sticks and stones . . ." said Beckett weakly.
"Hurts and so do words," finished McKay sourly.
Teyla nodded. "He feels safe saying such things because he believes his target is weak."
"They always do," growled McKay.
She stared at him a moment, then up to Beckett. And tilted her head. "I make you a promise, Doctor. I will avenge only this hurt against me, no other."
"That's not particularly comforting, Teyla." Beckett's tone was tart.
McKay studied him, then suddenly blurted, "So what was it?"
"What?" Beckett and Teyla both turned towards him.
"What did they call you? Becky? Kit?"
"Kit?" Beckett sounded baffled.
"Carson. Kit CARSON! American Wild West? Carson, didn't you ever play cowboys and Indians?"
"You played cowboys and Indians?" Now he sounded astonished.
"Jeannie always made me the Indian," McKay responded sourly. "So what was it?"
"Oh." Beckett slumped. "Uhm. Bumper."
"Bumper?" Teyla chimed in with McKay now.
"Bumper Carson," he muttered, blushing.
"Bumper. Carson." McKay rolled the syllables over his tongue, and nodded. "Not bad. Creative, annoying. Your bullies had some class."
"Your turn." Beckett gently nudged his leg with a toe.
McKay narrowed his eyes. "I'm not the one who's got a problem with Teyla and revenge."
Beckett grinned. "Which means it must have been really bad."
"We not mock you, Dr. McKay," Teyla encouraged him.
"HE will!" McKay gestured.
"Y're right, I will. So cough it up." Beckett leaned forward in anticipation.
"Dr. Beckett!" Teyla sounded scandalized.
"Rotten Decay." McKay spat it out.
Beckett stared at him, eyebrows rising. "Rotten Decay?"
"You heard me."
"That's . . . pretty bad."
"You don't know the half of it. My father was a dentist."
"Oh. Oh dear." Beckett made a coughing noise. McKay wasn't fooled.
"Go on, laugh."
Beckett coughed again, choking out, "Oh, I wouldn't dream of it!"
"You're going to choke to death and then I'll have to explain to Elizabeth how you dropped dead in the infirmary."
"She would chastise him," Teyla nodded solemnly.
Beckett lost it. He whickered through his nose. Then he giggled. McKay rolled his eyes and that just made it worse. The giggles turned into guffaws, then to loud, whooping howls of laughter.
"You sound like a baboon," rasped McKay.
"No, no, howler monkey," gasped Beckett between whoops.
"And I suppose a jumped up veterinarian like you would know," growled McKay.
That did it. Beckett had been bent over his knees, red-faced and howling with laughter and now he simply dropped on his butt and rolled onto his back, too breathless to howl but still gasping in helpless waves of giggles. McKay looked at him quizzically, then up to Teyla. "You should make a break for it now, before he can get the breath to lecture you again."
The corners of her lips were quivering as she shrugged. "I think you underestimate his dedication."
"Think of it as deferred hectoring."
She poked a gingerly toe towards Beckett's ribs and he gasped with another wave of giggles. "That would merely let him polish his topic and elaborate upon it."
"You're probably right," sighed McKay.
"Besides, it would trouble him greatly if I were to damage Corporal Chase." She sounded genuinely regretful.
"Maybe." McKay tilted his head back and forth. "Maybe not. I think it's that Scottish piety thing more than anything."
"Ah," Teyla said knowingly. Then shook her head. "I do not understand what you just said."
McKay grinned. "He thinks he should disapprove so he does."
Teyla made an indelicate noise. McKay nodded. "Exactly."
She slid her gaze sideways. He met the look and grinned. "But he would appreciate it if you didn't, and that'll count next time he draws blood."
"You do have a point." She nodded judiciously. "Perhaps I will merely invite the Corporal to a training session instead. Would that be agreeable, Dr. Beckett?"
Beckett made a small gasping noise and waved a hand. McKay nodded. "That's a yes."
"Thank you." Teyla smiled sweetly. "I would never have known."
"Yes, well, genius here."
"Of course." She grinned widely.
"Good. So long as you don't forget." He nodded.
"Of course," she said with mock solemnity.
"Glad to see someone shows proper respect." He smiled smugly.
She sat quietly beside him for a moment as Carson quieted to small, breathless whickers. Then she leaned close and murmured, "I would have bruised them for what they called you, Dr. McKay."
And in an instant she was gone, leaving McKay staring after her as a slow, startled, real smile grew on his face and a warm feeling grew in his chest.
And Carson looked up at McKay from the floor. He looked puzzled for a moment, and then he grinned too.