TITLE: Ties that Bind

AUTHOR: Girrlkitty

STATUS: Complete

RATING: PG-13

CATEGORY: Humor, Angst

SUMMARY: The boys find themselves in an awkward situation when Ancient technology malfunctions.

SPOILERS: None

WARNINGS: Sexually suggestive content, although nothing explicit

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to the Yahoo! group, Dee, Yllek, Steph, Aniko and Em for encouraging this little foray into the depths of my sometimes twisted sense of humor.

ARCHIVE: Do not archive without the author's express permission.

DISCLAIMER: The Stargate, SGA, the Wraith, and all characters that have appeared in the series STARGATE ATLANTS, together with the names, titles, and back story, are the sole copyright property of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., the SciFi Channel, and Acme Shark. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea, and the story itself are the sole property of the author.


The group disappeared around a corner, off to explore one of the forgotten wings of Atlantis. John Sheppard, Lieutenant-Colonel, had been bored, being stuck on base until Teyla Emmagan, his teammate, got over the Pegasus Galaxy version of the flu.

Joy.

Since a bored Sheppard was not something anyone wanted – the last time he got bored he had nearly blown up the science lab by accidentally activating one of the unknown devices – Elizabeth Weir, leader of their little expedition, had assigned him and the remaining members of his team to explore duties. Rodney McKay, self-proclaimed genius and resident arrogant geek, had protested, but Elizabeth wanted him along in case any Ancient nuclear weapons or turbo-charged surf boards were discovered.

Ronon Dex hadn't protested, but Elizabeth knew he was almost as dangerous as Sheppard when inactive, so this was a good way to accomplish several tasks with one fell swoop.

Some days, she felt like a parent trying to find the right combination of shiny objects to keep the children busy.

Since this little expedition was supposed to be just to keep them out of trouble for a while, she had purposely chosen a section that had been determined to probably not have anything of any real value. For that reason, she had decided to assign Carson Beckett, resident chief medical officer, to the group as well. He had been looking a little grey and overworked lately, and this seemed like the best way to force him to take a break and relax. If he wasn't within easy calling distance, the rest of the medical staff would have to figure out the problems on their own for a change.

As they rounded the corner heading away from her office, seemingly in good spirits despite the initial resistance, Elizabeth couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding. Somehow, no matter how innocuous the task seemed at the time, which was a set of individuals who managed to complicate things. On their own they were each a handful. Together…?

Putting aside her doubts, after all, what could go wrong in Atlantis itself for goodness sake, she turned back to her laptop and the work waiting her.

oOo

They traipsed down the hallways, relaxed and enjoying themselves, despite all the dust. So far, all the rooms they had checked had been empty, but there was always the fun of breaking into them.

That never got old in John's opinion.

When McKay couldn't hack into the doors in the first few minutes, John got to shoot the mechanism. There had been major protests at first, but since none of the rooms had any "valuable items you could be wantonly destroying!", the protests had slowed, then come to a stop.

If you couldn't shoot a few inanimate objects, what was the point? No one else but Ronon seemed to get that.

They had now been exploring this wing for two days with nothing to show for it. Well, nothing solid. John agreed with Elizabeth that Carson had seemed tired and worn, and now he was holding his own against the likes of McKay. And the scientist himself seemed a little more relaxed with no crises to attend to or natives to hide from. All in all, it was a good few days. This was the last of the vacation time though, since the medical staff had said Teyla would be cleared to go through the gate again in two days. They would need tomorrow to prep for the next mission.

As the group approached the last door in this wing, John decided it would be the last. It would take a few hours to work their way back to the inhabited section of the city, since tonight they would not be sleeping where they stopped, as they had done the past few nights.

To his great disappointment, McKay got the door open on the second try. It slid open with a quiet hiss, which was mostly drowned out by the light chatter the team was engaging in.

They moved into the room, not expecting much and not being too careful. Looking back later, John knew he should never have let his guard down, but at the time, it seemed silly to enforce strict protocol. They had checked thirty empty rooms. Why should this one be different?

At first glance, this room was like all the others. They fanned out to look around, calling jokes back and forth. This room was a bit larger than the others had been, so it took a bit more time to explore. McKay took up his self-assigned role next to the dead console in the room, plugging his ever-present laptop in to do a quick interface. A few of the rooms had contained bits of data stored in their decaying systems, but until a cross-check was done, they wouldn't know if it was data they already had in the main database.

While the others explored, it was McKay's jobs to download anything he could. This time, however, plugging in produced a slightly different result. The console display briefly lit up, proving it had more power than the others had managed to store away. That was all it took to trigger the seemingly-empty table in the middle of the room.

The top of the table slid back, revealing that the solid-seeming object wasn't solid at all. John pulled his gun up, instincts kicking in.

It wasn't soon enough.

From out of the hole, before anyone could react, a small swarm of tiny object rose up. They hovered briefly, then shot out, attaching themselves to the wrist of everyone in the room.

Ronon reacted quicker than the rest, jerking aside and dodging the first one that came after him, but three more quickly surrounded him until one found its mark.

Once all four of the men was sporting a new accessory, the rest of the devices ran out of power, and dropped to the ground.

"Oh fuck." John stared at the cuff on his wrist. "Rodney, tell me you can get these off."

"Of course I can get them off!" McKay sounded irritated that he had even asked. "Of course, I will have to figure out what they do first."

"You mean you don't know?" John heard his voice rising in half panic, half annoyance, but he couldn't help it.

"Colonel, we have been in this room all of what, five minutes? I may be good, great in fact, but I can't download a database, translate it, determine the function of its hidden objects, and then work out a way to deactivate them quite that fast. I'm touched you thought so."

"Rodney," Carson's Scottish burr, which seemed to get more pronounced when he was worried, broke into the conversation. "If you canna get them off in a few minutes, I think we should head back to the med lab so I can run some tests."

"Fine, fine." Rodney had turned back to his laptop, his attention already refocusing on its contents.

John paced the room, muttering curses under his breath. If he hadn't been so careless. If he hadn't let his guard down. If he had forced them all to be cautious in all the rooms. If, if, if. John sometimes thought is whole life was one big if. He was waiting for the day when one would finally be too big for even him to handle, and he was terrified he would take someone else with him.

God, he hoped this wouldn't be the time.

So far he didn't feel any negative effects, but who knew with these Ancient devices. They could be releasing poison into their systems even as they sat around and waited…

"Colonel, if you don't stop pacing around like a mad bull with a fence between him and his comely cow, I will be forced to ask Carson to sedate you." Rodney's voice cutting into several tense moments of silence, startled John out of his reverie.

The comment startled a nervous laugh out of Carson, who was trying not to hover and read over McKay's shoulder, and Ronon managed to look stoic and unconcerned as always.

"Rodney…"

"Still working here." The man had never even looked up, and after several more moments, he let out an annoyed sigh. "Well, I can't find anything here. The burst of power that allowed those things to be activated – and I am assuming you must have done something Colonel, since you can never seem to restrain yourself from touching things."

"Rodney…" John clenched his teeth and reminded himself that arrogant and annoying scientists he might be, McKay was the best equipped to figure out the new accessories and get them off.

With a glare, Rodney went back to his explanation. "Yes, well, that power surge seems to have done some damage to the circuits in this panel. I got some information before it happened, but the rest seems to be corrupted beyond what I can do to repair it right now. I need to get back to my lap where I can access the main database and see if this information was backed up anywhere else. The Ancients were mad fiends for redundant systems, so I am sure it is somewhere, we just have to find it."

"All right team, gear up, we are heading back." John picked up the gear he had left near the door, his hand already going to his radio. "Elizabeth, this is Sheppard. Come in."

After a few moments of static, she responded. "This is Elizabeth."

"We are heading back to the main Atlantis base. Have a medical team standing by when we get there, and have Zelenka available."

"What happened?" He heard the note of carefully concealed concern creeping into her voice.

"We are starting a new fashion craze. Ancient wrist bands that fly up out of tables to attach to your wrist." The joke fell a bit flat, since he could almost hear her concern increasing in the silence that followed.

"Look, nothing major, I just want to be prepared. These things came up out of the table and don't seem to be having any effects at all. The database had a power surge that seems to have activated them, but it died shortly after. Odds are good they just don't have enough power to do whatever it was they were intended to do, but I want to get McKay back to his lab to figure out how to get them off. And the med team is a 'just in case' precaution."

"All right, the medical and science teams will be standing by. Report back every hour until you arrive."

"Roger that. Sheppard out."

He turned to see the others had geared up while he had been talking, so he waved the tip of his gun back down the hall they had come from. "Let's head out. The sooner we figure out how to get these off, the happier I will be."

"Aye, and I'd like to have a quick medical check run before ye all scatter to the winds. I want a full set of tests done, 'just in case.'" Carson moved to walk next to John as they started out.

"All right, but make it quick. We don't know what these things will do, and I want them off sooner rather than later."

"Aye." The doctor fell silent, and they made their way back out of the dusty, empty portions of the once-great city.

oOo

As the team arrived, Rodney couldn't help but feel a sense of déjà vu. Why was he always with the group who came slinking back with their tails between their legs, something broken or some horrible enemy about to wipe them out? For once, why couldn't he be one of the ones standing there smirking, ready to fix whatever was wrong?

Next time a dangerous mission came up, Zelenka was SO getting assigned to it.

Pushing that thought aside, he shoved his laptop at his aforementioned smirking colleague. He used the term 'colleague' loosely. "Start uploading the information I downloaded into the database while I get poked and prodded." He barely had time to get that out before the med staff had him on a stretcher, heading to the infirmary.

For the next hour he tried to contain his impatience as blood was drawn, MRIs were run, and every conceivable test the torturers who masqueraded as nurses could think up was performed. He tried to sneak out a few times when their back was turned, but he swore they had some sort of 360-degree vision, since they caught him every time.

His only consolation was that the others being subjected to the medical form of the Inquisition seemed just as impatient.

Finally, they cut him loose, and he immediately started for his lab. By now Zelenka would have finished uploading the database, and he needed to be there for the cross-check.

He made it out the door, his mind already racing ahead, when all the sudden the device did something.

The most intense pleasure he had ever felt coursed briefly through his body, driving him to his knees and leaving him gasping for air. The few marines who had been in the hallway were already radioing the infirmary, but Rodney only vaguely noted it.

He was still recovering when he realized he was being wheeled back. It was another few minutes later when he realized Carson, Ronon, and John all looked similarly dazed.

"What the HELL just happened?" John was the first to recover.

"I, I have no idea." Rodney managed to gasp out. He was torn between never wanting that to happen again, and wanting to figure out how to do it again on demand.

It took another few minutes before they were all sitting up again, the concerned nurses starting gearing up to run more tests. One touched Rodney's arm, preparing to draw blood, and he nearly hit the ceiling. Apparently whatever had happened had left him a bit sensitive.

She jumped back, looking a bit confused at his reaction. Rodney drew in a few gulps of air, fighting down the urge to grab the poor woman and kiss her silly. Talk about handing the science staff material for months worth of jokes.

He looked away, fighting to gain control again, and saw the others were in the same state. Ronon was the only one who apparently didn't even try to fight it, since he had his nurse, a pretty red-head, almost pinned to the table.

It didn't look like she was struggling.

The after-effects slowly wore off in the next few minutes. Ronon released his nurse, and all of them managed to look more than a little embarrassed.

"Okay Rodney, what was that?" Carson seemed a bit shaken. Well, Rodney supposed he could understand that. After all, this was all taking place in front of his own staff. He would be shaken too if the entire science team was down here watching him, well…

"I don't know. It came on suddenly. I was heading to the lab, and it hit me in the hall. I hadn't even touched the bracelet!"

The head nurse, Anne, looked them all over. "Okay, what exactly happened? Describe the symptoms."

It suddenly looked like they had all been spending far too much time in the sun.

"Ahhhhh, why don't we skip to the test results, love?" Carson sounded a bit breathless.

She looked surprised and suspicious. "I'm sorry Doctor Beckett, but we need to collect all of the data to accurately read the results. You of all people should know that, since you are constantly reminding the rest of us."

"Yes, well, ah…" Rodney didn't know a man could turn that shade.

"Sex." Ronon, as always, was the one who managed to find the single most embarrassing way to put it. After a reflective pause, he added, "Really good sex."

Anne's eyes got wide as she looked around at the various looks of chagrin and horror at the blunt statement. "Oh…"

"Look, the question here isn't what it did, but why." John had switched to leader mode. Rodney envied the way the man could seemingly shut off all emotion when the situation called for it.

"Precisely." He threw his own two cents in. "I mean what set them off. We have had them on for hours, been poked and prodded, and I, for one, haven't felt anything like that before now. So unless one of you is holding out, we need to figure out why now."

They all stared at each other for a few heartbeats, and Rodney realized none of them had any ideas either. They were waiting for him to suddenly explain it away and fix the problem. Being a genius was hard work some days.

Zelenka, with his impeccable timing, choose that moment to break in on the radio. "Rodney, you are coming, no? We have found something."

"This is Rodney. There was an…incident…with the bracelets and I got held up."

"Incident?" Rodney heard a few muttered Czech words he was pretty sure he didn't want to know the meaning of.

"Zelenka, Sheppard here. What did you find?" John sounded like he was considering being irritated.

There was a pause before any response was given. "I wish Rodney to review findings."

Rodney felt his stomach sink. If Zelenka wanted him to review findings, that meant he had found something bad and didn't want to be blamed for it. This was so not good.

oOo

Radek Zelenka headed down the hall, muttering curses under his breath in several languages. The infirmary staff had declared that until they knew what was wrong, none of the men were going to be released.

Nurses!

When he arrived, all four of the effected gentlemen looked a bit uncomfortable, but otherwise fine. Radek dismissed the others from his mind, and bee-lined for Rodney. He thrust the laptop into the man's hands.

"You will review. My conclusions I will tell you after, as I do not think you will like."

Rodney shot him an irritatingly superior look, then pulled up the database. Radek moved to where he could look over his shoulders as the Ancient data went whizzing by. Where had he learned to translate that fast?

"Well, well, well." Rodney finally looked up, every eye in the room on him. "It seems we have been smacked with the Ancient version of the ball and chain."

"Marriage?" Radek noted that Doctor Beckett, who had seemed a bit flushed when he arrived, suddenly lost all his color. That sort of thing couldn't be healthy, but heck, he was the medical doctor.

Rodney shot one of his most suffering looks in that direction. Radek was impressed Doctor Beckett had rated one of those. Usually only scientists who had nearly blown something up got that particular look.

"Are you trying to be dense?" Rodney rolled his eyes and went back to addressing the entire room. "It seems these were meant to be the Ancient way of controlling prisoners. There isn't a lot of data here, but my guess is that they were used for something along the lines of a chain gang application."

"Like work gangs?" Colonel Sheppard seemed to perk up at that.

"Yes." Rodney had gone back to skimming the notes. "The only problem is the data on what triggers them, what they were supposed to do, and how to get them off seems to be missing."

Letting out his breath in a dramatic sigh, Rodney stood up. "I can't do this here. I need to be in my lab with full access to the database."

Radek saw several nurses narrow their eyes at that pronouncement. Apparently Rodney had seen the same thing, or anticipated that reaction, since he turned to them without stopping.

"Look, you can hold me here until we all die, but that won't get these things off. Only I can do that, and I can't do it here." He held up his cuffed arm, waving it around like a banner.

The head nurse, Anne, he thought her name was, advanced on the ranting scientist. "Last time you said that—"

"Yesyesyes, it set them off. However, sitting here staring at each other is getting us nowhere. I need to be in my lab."

Radek saw the moment she gave in, her shoulders slumping slightly. "Fine. Doctor Zelenka, I am putting you in charge however. At the slightest indication that these, these devices have activated again, I expect you to alert the infirmary and get Doctor McKay back down here as soon as possible."

Rodney grumbled at that, but didn't protest. Radek gathered up the laptop and started for the door. "I will keep very close eye on him."

As they made their way down the hall, the discussed the possible ways to remove the devices. Radek was listening to Rodney cut apart all his theories when suddenly the man fell to his knees. Radek turned and saw him panting on the floor, his limbs twitching a bit.

It was fascinating to watch, and at the same time Radek felt a bit dirty. Like he was peeping in windows or something.

It took him a few heartbeats of just staring, when his radio clicked on. "Doctor Zelenka? This is Anne Matthews. If the men in here are any indication, Doctor McKay is incapacitated at the moment. Where are you so I can send a gurney to pick him up?"

Snapped out of his horrified fascination of the effects of the bracelets, Zelenka reached up to turn on the microphone. "Yes, he is a bit indisposed. We are near the first transporter to the labs. We did not make it that far."

"They are on their way." Nurse Matthews sounded a bit distracted.

It didn't take long for the nurses to arrive and get Rodney up. He groaned a bit as they lifted him, although Radek was pretty sure he wasn't in any pain.

When they arrived back where they started, Radek saw that Rodney wasn't the only one having difficulties. The large fellow, Ronon, who was a bit intimidating at the best of times, had a red-headed nurse pined against a wall. Colonel Sheppard was sitting straight on his bed, and looked like he was having a difficult time controlling himself. And Doctor Beckett was laying back, hands clenching the sides of the bed as he pulled in gulps of air.

Fascinating. Horrifying. Radek sent a request to whatever Gods inhabited Pegasus that these cuffs did no permanents damage so he would be free to bring this up at every possible opportunity.

Slowly, all four came back to themselves, with varying degrees of chagrin. Radek had never seen his boss turn that shade of red. Ronon was unrepentant, the red-head looking a bit disappointed he had stopped. Doctor Beckett did more groaning now as he recovered than he had when the cuffs had been on, pulling a pillow over his head. Colonel Sheppard just took a deep breath and let it out, then seemed to be fine.

Radek thought back to what they had been doing and what they had learned in the database. His eyes widened as he realized what must be triggering them. "Proximity!"

"What are you babbling about?" Rodney sounded a bit short of breath.

"One moment. Miss Matthews, where did you find Rodney the first time the devices turned on?"

She thought for a moment, eyeing the other scientist absently. "I believe it was near the transporter to the lab."

"So in approximately the same location as this time?"

"Proximity!" Rodney sat up, his color returning to normal.

"Is that not what I said?" Radek pushed his glasses back up his nose from where they had slipped.

"Yesyes, but you were taking your time getting there."

Major Sheppard had been looking back and forth between the two of them. "You know, whenever one of you gets the chance to explain it to everyone else, feel free. No rush."

Rodney turned to him, seemingly back to normal. "These things were meant to control prisoners working on things like building repair or whatever Ancients needed done. They wanted some freedom of movement, since you can't get much work done otherwise, but if you get too far from the group, odds are good you're trying to make a break for it. That is when these things kick in."

"Okay, but why pleasure? I would think a shock or something would be more in keeping with that."

Radek was always impressed at Colonel Sheppard's ability to make those leaps. He played the stupid soldier, but it was all an act. It was easy to underestimate the man. "That we have not figured out yet."

"Hence why I need to get to the lab." Rodney looked frustrated.

Anne let out a sigh from across the room where she had been, carefully, taking Doctor Beckett's vital signs. "In other words you want me to allow the whole group of you to go wandering around Atlantis."

"Not wandering," Rodney put on his best 'puppy dog' face. Radek privately thought he looked more like a drowning rat when he did it. "Just to the lab, figure out how to get these devil bracelets off. No side trips or field trips."

"If that is the only way to get these things off, lass, you need to let us go." Doctor Beckett sounded a bit desperate.

"Fine." Anne caved. "But I am sending two of the nurses with you, and if anything goes wrong, I want you back here for exams."

"Yesyes. We promise." Rodney was already up and moving towards the door, the others getting up to follow. He gestured to Radek and they picked up on their speculation where they had left off before.

oOo

This was Hell. And Carson Beckett was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he was torn between wishing it had never happened, and never wanting it to end.

God, Anne, the other nurses, they had all seen him... His mother would have been horrified and would have disowned him.

If only they had some way of controlling it. He wondered if maybe once they figured them out, if Rodney could maybe tweak the systems…

Oh dear Lord. What was he thinking!

Despite the fact no one else could hear his thoughts, Carson felt himself blush. Fortunately, everyone's attention was focused on Radek and Rodney, as they went through the database and alternately tossed out theories and discredited them.

Using the data they had obtained from the failing system where the cuffs had been found, the pair of scientists had at least made a bit of progress in the past two hours of work. They had definitively identified proximity as the cause for the previous incidents, confirming their guess. They had found a bit more information on how they worked, including the fact that a master control device should have been stored in the same location, which would have automatically deactivated them.

Of course, with their luck, there had been no such device in the room.

Carson's fantasies…musings…were cut off by Radek's sudden exclamations in what he assumed to be Czech.

"Tell me you found something." John leaned forward, and for a brief moment Carson saw the same conflicting emotions cross his face before they were ruthlessly suppressed. At least he wasn't the only one enjoying and hating this at the same time.

"Progress, Colonel, definitely progress." Rodney sounded smug. "These things were supposed to deliver pain, starting out with small shocks and building if you continued the undesirable behavior."

"If this is the Ancient idea of pain, I would hate to see their idea of pleasure." Carson sometimes forgot Ronon was in the room, until he came up with stuff like that.

Rodney shot him an irritated glance before continuing. "Obviously they are neither delivering pain, nor are they doing it in increasing intensities."

Radek interrupted him, obviously looking to head off a lecture. "These devices, they are thousands of years old, and were joined with failing system. Circuits are probably kaput."

Carson felt his spirits sinking. "So, not only do we have Ancient prisoner things stuck to our wrists, now you tell us they are malfunctioning?"

"Pretty much, yes." Carson had never noticed how annoyingly abrupt Radek could be some times.

"However," Rodney broke back in, taking control once more, "that doesn't mean we can't get them off. Now we know what we are up against. I even managed to find an old schematic in a dusty, forgotten corner of the database. Once we figure out how they work, it should be a simple matter to manually override their fried little circuits and take them off."

"Then get to it." John was back in military mode, and surprisingly, while Rodney looked for a moment like he would say something, probably snarkish, he seemed to think better of it and the pair of scientists went back to the database to mine for information once again.

It didn't take too much longer, another hour or so, Carson figured, just enough time for Rodney to start calling back over his shoulder that if John touched anything and broke it, he was buying it, when the duo thought they had enough of an idea of how the cuffs worked to make a try at removing them.

"Okay, so all the units are linked together. They should all come off at the same time when Radek triggers the impulse." Rodney set up a small device they had whipped up, one that, apparently, created some sort of electro-whosamawhat pulse. Carson had no idea what any of it meant, other than 'it will make them come off.' "The systems are already corroded, so this should finish the job. Then we can just take them off."

"John, this is Elizabeth, come in." The radio, so unexpected, made half the room jump.

"Sheppard here." He seemed a bit tense. With a smothered giggle, Carson forced thoughts of triggering the things one more time before they took them off to relieve the stress.

"Give me an update on the situation." Carson wondered why they hadn't gone to a private channel, but since it wasn't all that important, he didn't give it another thought.

"We are setting up to try a removal now. McKay should be ready in a few minutes, then we will know if it works or not."

"All right, give me a report once you know more. Elizabeth out."

While John had been talking, Rodney and Radek had finished setting up. The two large orderlies Anne had sent stood up from where they had been lounging against the walls. Carson didn't know if it was to get a better look, or to look good in front of their boss for attentiveness.

Rodney took a deep breath and signaled Radek to trigger the device they had pulled together from the spare parts in the lab.

Oh. Dear. Lord. In. Heaven.

This was better—worse?—than before. Carson ceased to be aware of the room around him, his entire world focused on the waves of pleasure coursing through his body. The remote part of his brain still capable of coherent thought noted that it was possible that pleasure could be almost painful. It was an ironic twist to what the devices were supposed to do.

The moment seemed to last a lifetime, and yet, Carson was disappointed when it ended. Suddenly, without warning, the beautiful feelings stopped, and he snapped back to himself. It took a few moments to realize he had been moved, having been apparently dragged several feet across the room. That would account for why the pleasure had spiked at times, becoming almost unbearable.

The other three looked to be in a similar state. Rodney was uncurling himself from around a chair leg—who knows how he had gotten there. One of the orderlies was looking a bit flustered, moving away from Ronon. Carson could only imagine what had happened given what the man had done to the nurse. Apparently Elizabeth had been called in—had the effect lasted that long?—because she was being released by a rapidly reddening John.

"What the bloody hell," he managed to gasp out, "just happened?"

"Device did not work." Radek was scrolling through the database again, and did not look up from his work.

"You could say that again." John's muttered comment, probably not meant to be heard, carried to where Carson was trying to catch his breath, his body still spasming every now and then.

"Okay, that was the understatement of the year." Rodney looked a bit shaken, and Carson could see the tremors still wracking his body, although he was trying to hide them. "What exactly happened? And why are we all in a pile?"

Carson didn't think he could get any redder until that, and apparently Rodney hadn't thought that one all the way through before he said it, as he suddenly looked like an over-ripe tomato.

"Device went off. You all fall to ground twitching. They," he waved in the direction of the orderlies, "call for help. People come running. We turn off device but twitching and moaning does not stop. I scan database again, discover overlooked anti-tamper trigger. We try moving you all together, since that is what it is supposed to encourage. It works."

Carson could tell Radek was hiding much more emotion than he was showing by the way his English was deteriorating. He tended to slip into Czech or broken English when he was overwrought over something. He wondered whether it was amusement or fear, and decided he didn't want to know which.

"Any way you can override this anti-tamper Doctor Zelenka?" Elizabeth had recovered somewhat, the flustered look at being partly mauled by her chief military officer fading as the leader took charge.

Carson closed his eyes, tuning out for a moment the snippy reply and counter-reply. They needed to get these things off soon, or he was going to go mad between wanting and not wanting.

oOo

He had kissed the leader of the expedition. In another few seconds, he probably would have been undressing her. How the hell was he supposed to say "sorry" for that? At least Ronon had had the decency to go for a nurse, one who didn't seem to really object the rough treatment.

Somehow, John thought Elizabeth would have objected had he given her the chance.

Zelenka and a shaky Rodney had gone to go back into the database to try again, but as soon as Rodney had moved, that damn anti-tamper had kicked back in.

God, he needed a smoke.

Once that little bout had passed, thankfully with no petting of senior officers this time, Elizabeth had ordered Zelenka to go and get a few hours sleep before he passed out. She had also ordered them to get some rest, the orderlies bringing in cots. Because the devices now restricted them to just a few feet from each other, he could reach out and touch any of the other men if he wanted to.

He felt his hand twitch at that thought, and was both horrified and tempted. All that pleasure coursing through his system had left him needing the physical release. The stupid things didn't even give you that, bringing you to the brink with no satisfaction.

Damn Ancients.

He could hear the breathing, and knew they were all awake and probably having the same dilemma he was. They were all thinking it, but none of them was willing to cross that line.

That was not the sort of thing you wanted bandied about the base. The Marines were going to have a field day as it was. No need to add orgy to the list. Although odds were good, with the reaction the cuffs got, people would say that anyway.

You would think the Ancients would have made signs for the doors. "Warning: Control Devices that Could Malfunction and Make You Very Pleasantly Uncomfortable."

He hated to admit it, but a sign like that probably would have gotten him to open the door anyway.

He was getting tired of listening to heavy breathing. In his current state, that wasn't helping. "So, since none of us are going to get any rest anyway, who's up for poker?"

He heard Rodney and Carson both jump at his voice breaking the silence, but Ronon just sat up and looked at him. "Sure."

Did the ex-Runner ever feel anything?

With various moans but surprisingly no complaints, the other two joined them. John still had a pack of cards in his vest from the original trek out into the city.

It was several hours later of doing manly things like playing hard-core poker—John had flatly refused Rodney's request for "Go Fish." His reputation was already in tatters, no need to make it worse when Zelenka wandered back in.

"This does not look like resting." He gave them all a flat stare.

"Yeah, well Doc, none of us was getting much rest, so we decided to distract ourselves a bit." John tried for his usual easy drawl, but even to him it sounded a bit strained.

"Yesyes, we need to get these things off today, before we all have heart attacks." If there was one thing John could always count on in life, it was Rodney's never-ending ability to turn anything into a deadly disaster. The man could make a tuna sandwich into a crisis.

To his great surprise, Carson chimed in, actually echoing Rodney. That was a first. "Aye, I think it is imperative we get them off today. We know they are malfunctioning, and they don't appear to be doing damage, but we canna know for sure until we get them off and get some tests run. Anne should have the preliminary reports back today from what she was able to get yesterday, but…"

He trailed off, and John gave him another hard look. It was looking a bit worse for wear, not that any of them were in great shape. "See what you can do Zelenka. Work as fast as you can, but this time try to make sure we don't trigger anything else."

A nod his only reply, Radek brought Rodney his laptop, running a connection cable from it to the mainframe, so they could both continue to work, despite one being confined to a cot.

John leaned back, resisting the urge to reach out and comfort Carson as he listened to the snark start up once more.

oOo

It was incredibly difficult to type long strings of words in a foreign language when your hands were shaking. Rodney stared down at the offending appendages, trying to force them to steady by will power alone. He was defeated when another wave of pleasure washed over him, leaving him shaking all over again.

That was the new trick the cuffs had learned since the latest attempt to get them off. Not content with forcing four men in acute need to sit indecently close to one another, now they occasionally reminded them all just who was in charge.

The technology was winning.

They had tried half a dozen different methods at this point, each of them making it a little worse than before. If they didn't get these things off soon, there was going to be talk in the mess hall, because Rodney could feel the self control of all of them crumbling around him. Each new wave brought them all closer to the brink of what they were desperately trying to avoid.

Too bad Atlantis didn't have a red light district. That would at least buy them a bit more time to figure the things out, if it didn't kill them all first.

Rodney could practically hear the Ancient scientists who had designed these things laughing their heads off. No matter what they tried, from electromagnetic pulses to banging on them with a hammer, nothing seemed to work. And John had nearly crushed his thumb with the stupid hammer in the process.

They brilliant minds of the past had apparently taken every conceivable method of removal into account and designed a way to counter it. It didn't help matters that only a part of the circuits, they had determined, were actually malfunctioning. Just their luck it was just enough of a change to cause such difficulties.

And as if this whole situation wasn't bad enough, Nurse Matthews had come up to check on them and report on the previous test results. They couldn't get monitors on any of them without causing acute discomfort at this point, but she had determined that their bodies were under such stress that if they couldn't resolve the issue soon, they would start doing permanent damage.

Lovely. Nothing like eminent brain damage to make the whole thing more exciting.

Stupid hands! Rodney muttered a few choice curses to himself, backspacing through several lines to correct mistakes in his projections from miss hit keys. He was trying to avoid the fact that soon he wouldn't be able to type at all and would have to rely on Zelenka to find the answer.

If it came to that, they were doomed.

"I believe we are ready to try next experiment." Rodney nearly jumped out of his skin, since the entire lab had lapsed into silence hours ago. That, of course, set off another wave, leaving him quivering and about ready to lose it.

"Fine." His voice came out as a croak, but at this point he didn't care. He was fast approaching the realm of not caring about anything except release, although he desperately tried to hold on to his sense of modesty as long as he could.

Radek had taken a different approach this time, delving into the surviving bits of schematic for that missing remote that would tell the bracelets to release. He had cobbled together a working model, all wires and circuits…and oh my god these things were getting to him if that was looking appealing.

"You are all ready, yes?" Radek was standing with his finger on the button, concern written all over his face. The circles under the other scientist's eyes had gotten dark, even his hair looking limp and exhausted.

Rodney realized he was checking Radek out. He put his head in his hands and responded for the group, since no one else seemed to want to chime in, even John focusing only on staying in control at this point and nothing else.

"Just, just do it."

Radek activated his device, and for a moment nothing happened. Rodney felt his spirits begin to sink as he waited for the chastisement for daring to attempt to remove them. Then, with an audible click, all four cuffs released at the same time and fell to the floor.

Rodney just stared for a moment, unsure of what had just happened.

Then the world exploded into light and color, as all that pent up and blocked energy took its rightful course to the inevitable conclusion.

oOo

Carson woke up with the bright lights of the infirmary shining in his eyes. It wasn't often he saw his domain from this perspective.

The beeps and low rumble of people talking quietly a room away soothed him, and for a while he drifted in a state of almost bliss. He couldn't remember the last time he had been so relaxed.

He didn't know how long he had lain there like that when suddenly it stuck him why his body had no tension in it, why he was in the infirmary, and why there were so many endorphins rushing around his body.

He tried to tense up, but found it was almost too much work, and that horrified him even more. "Bloody friggin hell!"

Anne must have heard him moving around, or his muttered curses, since she came into view to hover over him. She looked like she wanted to laugh. He glared and mentally promised to demote her to tongue-depressor counter if she so much as cracked a smile. "And how are we feeling today?" Her voice was bright with unvoiced giggling.

He continued to glare, trying to push himself up until she laid a hand on his chest, gently forcing him to stay down. "Your bodies all underwent significant strain Doctor Beckett. We were able to run some tests while you were all out, and while you are recovering now, it will probably take several days to regain your strength. When those bracelets came off, all of you experienced…" She trailed off, her cheeks turning bright red.

Sighing, he finally relaxed and stopped fighting. What kind of doctor would he be if he resisted the advice of his own staff? " Aye, Luv, I know what happened. No need to go into great detail." He felt a blush staining his own cheeks.

Apparently all four of them had been put in the same room for observation, although Carson hadn't noticed before. Leave it to Ronon to make this worse than it absolutely had to be. "Best orgasm of my life."

Groaning, Carson buried his head in his pillow as best he could, and heard the echoes of two other groans from the opposite side of the room. "Ronon, I hope some day a large, hairy animal with enormous teeth gets you." Rodney's voice was as odd mix of utterly sated and incredibly tense all at the same time. Under different circumstances, Carson had to admit he would be one of the ones standing over in the corner trying hard not to laugh until he cried.

oOo

It had been several weeks since the "Bracelet Incident", which everyone on base had taken to calling it. Not to his face though. John glared enough to ensure that.

He was glad the bulk of the Marine Corps was several million light years away, as this was the sort of thing that could stick with a man for the rest of his career. As it was, he was pulling rank to ensure anyone who brought it up found themselves inexplicably assigned to some of the worst jobs there were on Atlantis. Granted even those weren't bad, but the military at least got the point.

Carson seemed to be doing all right. Most of his staff was female and sympathetic, not to mention they had been the ones running the tests and knew what kind of stress the devices had put on them. Plus, they dealt with the human body every day, so, as far as John could tell, after a bit of teasing, things in the infirmary had settled down.

Ronon, of course, had no problems at all. If anyone even thought something off-color in his direction, he either glared them into submission, or broke a bone in the next practice session. John had to hand it to him, it was a pretty effective deterrent.

Then there was Rodney. John was heading down to the lab, since he had heard rumors that the science staff was giving him a hard time.

As he made his way into the complex, he saw Rodney and Zelenka near the back of the facility, and as he got closer, he overheard their conversation. He stopped, waiting for them to notice him, although neither did.

"Nononono. I will not give anyone permission to recreate the stupid cuffs. I don't care what fail-safes you think you have."

"But think of what devices do! You know first hand. We already have schedule made up, and all science staff is willing to take risk."

"NO. I don't care how many times you ask, or who else you have ask, I will not, under any circumstances, give the okay to turn the cuffs into sex toys. They are staying right where they are in containment."

It was at this point John felt it was appropriate to interrupt. Trying not to laugh, he cleared his throat, startling a reaction out of both men. "What seems to be the problem here gentlemen?"

Zelenka had the grace to blush, and John had a feeling the Czech had been one of the first on the sign-up sheet. "Colonel, ah…"

"Have you heard what they want to do Colonel? They want to turn the torture devices into toys!" Rodney looked outraged, but John saw the spark of temptation appear briefly in his eyes.

"I'm afraid that, as the senior military office and the one ultimately in charge of safety, we are going to have to rule out using the cuffs again. Who knows what could happen next time." John privately admitted that he was tempted too, since a controlled version of that would be…nice. But there was no way in Hell he was going to turn Atlantis into a giant house of ill repute.

Not to mention if Elizabeth ever got wind of this, she would kill all of them.

Zelenka let out a sigh, and shot John a look of betrayal before he headed back into the lab, muttering curses in several languages. John saw several heads pop up, and was amused at the looks of disappointment that followed in Zelenka's wake.

Trust the science department to be the naughty ones.

xXx