Marmot free!


McKay was uncomfortable, but that was to be expected, considering the break in his arm and the treatment Carson had determined was the best course of action. The bone had been snapped below the shoulder, just below the ball joint and too high to put in a cast. So the broken wing had been tightly bound to the scientist's body, across his chest, and covered with a layer of padding to keep things from getting jarred.

Rodney wore his shirt over the top of the secured limb – the hand was tucked just below the armpit of his other arm. It made for a bulky profile, an awkward positioning, and left him with just one hand for working. The location of the broken limb was also troubling due to the one joke that everyone seemed determined to make at his expense.

"Hey, McKay! Nice rack!" Sheppard crowed as moved through the doorway of the lab.

"Great!" McKay replied, cringing as he jabbed away one-handedly at his laptop. He didn't lift his head to see the smirk that he KNEW would meet him. "That was a unique and creative statement. Oh, it looks like I have breasts. How clever of you. Gee, it must have taken you all day to think that one up."

"Nope! Just came to me. Things come to me like that." John grinned, looking damned pleased with himself. "It was either that or I was going to ask you if your bazooms worked as a floatation device. You might want to take up water aerobics… synchronized swimming maybe?"

McKay finally looked up at him, thoroughly ticked off, which only made John look more delighted with himself. "That makes no sense!" the Canadian declared. "It's just my arm!"

"Yeah, but it was funny."

"No it wasn't."

"Made Weir laugh when I told it to her."

Incredulous, McKay gaped for a moment.

"I like to make her laugh," John continued. "Gets me on her good side."

McKay's mouth slammed shut. "Good for you. You must be proud of yourself."

"I am."

McKay grumbled and looked back to his laptop display.

"Think of the advantages, McKay."

"Advantages? What possible advantages do I have at this moment?"

"Handy drink tray," Sheppard responded. "You could keep a whole pot of coffee up there and a bunch of mugs. You could serve in the mess."

McKay grumbled.

"How you feeling?" Sheppard asked as he made his way across the lab. "It's not making you lightheaded or anything, is it?"


"Or maybe I meant airheaded."

"You're an ass, do you know that?"

"Yup." John pulled the chair around, making a racket as he dragged it across the floor. He sat down without requesting permission.

Rodney felt some small victory when the colonel winced when he sat. "I was going to make a crack about your current predicament," McKay said with a thin smile, "But…I ass-ume you've heard it all already."

Gracing Rodney with a narrow gaze, Sheppard went on, "So, while we're on the subject of brains, did Carson figure out whether any of your genius leaked out after your concussion."

"His tests proved that all was well." Rodney tapped the side of his head with his good hand. "It takes a lot more than a drop through the floor, a blow to the head, lobster attack, near amputation, incarceration, incineration and atrociously poor jokes to silence this vast intelligence."

"I bet."

"Still, that doesn't mean my headache has gone away." McKay furrowed his brow to ensure that he still had a little bit left. The painkillers for his arm were probably masking the headache that was hiding somewhere. "Beckett has no idea. I'm sure the pain will remain for weeks."

"Yeah, probably," Sheppard replied. "There's pain for someone, that's for sure."

"And for some reason, I have 'Copacabana' running through my head. I can't get rid of it."

"Brain damage," Sheppard said offhand.

Rodney gave him another scowl. "Yeah, great! It's either that or 'Kung Fu Fighting'. Why can't I get them out of my head?"

Sheppard shrugged, and put on an expression that was too innocent to be taken seriously.

McKay didn't trust him. "And my arm is killing me. Every time I twist like this…" McKay started, but was stopped when Sheppard held up a hand.

"Good girls wouldn't twist like that," he stated, giving McKay a superior look, and he grinned when McKay looked up again with a frown. "What're you working on?" he asked to redirect the conversation.

McKay made a sound as if he wanted to continue pursuing the previous conversation, but thought better of it. Pointing a finger at the screen, McKay stated, "Research. I'm trying to discover more information about Nehalems and that planet Netarts. I want to understand what happened there. I mean, it's creepy what they did with their visitors."

"Yeah," Sheppard agreed, hating the whole idea of it. "Didn't exactly roll out the red carpet."

"Do you think the Wraith finally got fed up with the regular fare at their 'take out' window, and wanted to Supersize?"

"Kinda seems that way."

"Maybe they wanted the whole smorgasbord to themselves. They wanted to fill their plates and come back for seconds," Rodney stated, and then made a face as if even HE was a bit put-off by the analogy.

Sheppard took it in stride. "Teyla and Ronon went offworld to talk to some of the Athosians' trading partners," Sheppard decided. "The kids should be home by now." He radioed the controlroom to see if Teyla and Ronon had returned from their field trip.

The Canadian tech let him know that the two had returned only moments ago and that he'd ask them to head toward McKay's lab.

"Someone let them go offworld?" McKay asked as Sheppard completed his conversation.

"They were just going to talk and didn't have any serious injuries," Sheppard responded. "Bruises mostly."

"And pulled muscles, some serious cuts, some nasty looking scrapes, Teyla's back was a mess and let's not forget Ronon's concussion. What were they thinking? They got pummeled by a giant alligator and then got blown up real good," McKay shook his head. "Now is the time for them to relax and take advantage of the 'down time'. Find a nice couch. Stretch out. Get some sun."

"Yeah, right," Sheppard stated, watching McKay peck away at his computer as he sat on a stool in the lab, searching for information.

McKay went on, "And they were suffering from other seriously annoying malady when I last saw them. They might have considerable hearing loss. Might suffer from it for years."


"Hearing loss. They were deafened by the blast."


McKay opened his mouth to continue, but thought better of it and gave Sheppard a disappointed look.

Sheppard grinned and pointed to his ears. "Carson said that it's clearing up. With any luck their hearing will get back to normal."

"Oh," McKay responded.

The reaction brought a curious expression from Sheppard. "You almost sound disappointed."

"Well…" McKay looked conflicted, glancing toward the door surreptitiously before he said, "Sometimes, I think they hear too much. I mean, really, both of them have senses that borders on weird. Does anyone need to hear that much? They're always listening in."

"Listening in to what?"

"To me… to what I have to say."

"You told me earlier that you want people to listen to you."

"Yeah, but that's only when I'm talking directly to them. They listen in when I don't mean them to hear me."

"Why would they care? I don't listen to you most of the time."

McKay looked stung. "Of course they should care about what I have to say. I have plenty to say that's worthwhile. If people listened to me more often, there'd be a lot less trouble – that's all I'm going to say." John didn't even bother to believe that McKay would stop here. "And you know, you really should listen to me more often. That's your problem." He pressed a finger to his chin to attempt some sort of scholarly look, but the affect was totally ruined by his bust-line. "You should always listen to me."

"Wait a minute," Sheppard broke in. "I thought you were annoyed that Ronon and Teyla listened. Now you're saying that…"

"What I'm saying is that they listen in when they shouldn't be listening. They pay attention when they shouldn't be."

"And when is this?"

"You know… when we're talking about things that don't pertain to them."

"And this would be when?"

Exasperated, McKay groaned, "You know, when I want to point out something and maybe I don't want Teyla to hear it because of how she might react."

"Like when?"

"She gets this really… offended… look sometimes."

"For instance?"

McKay sighed, sounding thoroughly putout. "Like when we were introduced to that Queen or Empress or Priestess Sparklebottom."

Sheppard grinned from ear to ear. "Ah yes, the Lady Siuslaw. You have something in common with her now." And his eyes achieved a faraway look as he recalled the luscious young woman with the tiny sparkly skirt.

With a contented sigh, McKay stated, raising his one good hand to illustrate, "She had the most incredible …"

"Great boobs, McKay," Ronon stated as he appeared at the doorway of the lab. He grinned widely when he saw Rodney's surprised look. "Heh… that's one booby trap I don't want to mess with."

Teyla laughed lightly, adding as she focused on the placement of McKay's broken arm, "My people would be proud to be so endowed."

With a broad grin, Sheppard put in, "I hear that Dolly Parton is going to let him borrow her wig."

The last remark brought curious expressions from the other two, and an explosion from McKay. "Enough! Enough! Kavanagh's already asked me if I'm taking hormones. Zelenka won't stop laughing. He almost couldn't breathe last time I came across him. Seriously. Couldn't breathe! The man might have died. Kept laughing. No good reason. I certainly wasn't going to give him mouth-to-mouth! Cadman left a dress in my quarters. Sgt. Wilmington wants to meet my sister! I swear, Halling saw me from a distance and started giving me the 'eye'. For the love of God, get that man some glasses!"

Rodney was on a roll, and went on, "I don't think I can take this much longer! I have a broken arm! It hurts! But do I get any compassion? NO!"

"Try living with a butt injury," Sheppard muttered.

McKay didn't care. "Do you have any idea how irritating it is to hear the same joke over and over again? I think I've heard every variation of 'knockers' and 'hooters' known to man!"

"Kadoodles?" Ronon tried.

"My people sometimes call them Wantoobers," Teyla added with a little laughter.

"Bazookas?" Sheppard added.

Ronon opened his mouth to add another example, but was cut off by a strangling sound from McKay, so the Satedan laughed instead.

Sheppard smiled and decided to ignore the flustered physicist for a moment. "Hey, Teyla, Ronon, glad to see you're up and about and causing some trouble," he told them. "Last time I saw you, Beckett had both of you locked down."

Ronon grunted. "Couldn't keep us for long," he commented. "I just had a knock on the head. Some scratches."

"A few bruises," Teyla added, "Our hearing seems to have improved." She gave McKay a knowing glance. "We are reasonably well." She turned to Ronon, knowing that the man was still suffering. She'd been in the infirmary when Beckett had stripped him down. She would have averted her eyes, but Ronon didn't seem to mind. She changed her glance again, to take in John, stating, "Colonel Sheppard, I hear that your 'infirmity' was less than expected?"

Sheppard frowned, feeling betrayed. "Like I was sayin'…"

"What?" McKay responded. "Beckett couldn't put a cast on your broken ass or something?"

Sighing, Sheppard explained, "The bone isn't broken." He waved a hand to dismiss the thought. "He said that I must have just bruised or sprained something."

"Oh," McKay replied, looking smug in spite of his breast-like protuberance. "Just bruised. Poor thing."

"Still hurts like hell!" Sheppard told him. "I can't sit down easy."

"Can't sit down," McKay echoed, looking toward Teyla and Ronon as if to find some sympathy for their comrade. The three of them were too battered and broken to muster any of that particular emotion.

"I also have heard that one of the colonel's lobster bites became infected," Teyla added helpfully. "A small one on his lower leg."

"Too bad," Ronon responded, brushing at one of the healing slices that ran from his elbow to his wrist.

Sheppard wanted to smack all of them. "It's sore! So's my butt. I'm on antibiotics. "

Rodney raised his one operable hand. "I got bitten too!" he proclaimed. "But I had the common sense to receive ample a coating of Neosporin. I made Carson do it twice."

Narrowing his gaze, Sheppard replied, "I had a lot more bites than you."

After a soft cough, Teyla stated, "They were rather… small bites."

"Yeah," Ronon confirmed. "Nestuccas got tiny little mouths."

"That are just FULL of bacteria! They're garbage eaters, you know." Rodney smiled smugly, and turned to Sheppard. "Now, if you'd just thought to dab a little Neosporin…"

"I got bit… a lot," Sheppard ground out. "You want to make anything of it?"

"No," Teyla and Ronon both answered.

McKay smiled far too widely, so Sheppard cut him off before he could say more. "Teyla, you've got some news?"

The Athosian nodded. "I spoke to some of our allies on Tolovana and, at first, they had little to reveal about the planet Netarts."

"So what changed that?" Sheppard asked.

"Yeah," McKay added. "Did Ronon have to lean on them or something?"

"Nope," Ronon responded, and nodded to Teyla. "Got on their good side by making a bargain with them." And Ronon gave Teyla a meaningful glace as he touched the hilt of his new sword.

"The price was rather high," Teyla stated, but smiled to herself, recalling that she'd surreptitiously bartered away one of Ronon's knifes in the bargain.

Ronon went on, "After we finished that, we told them about what had been found in Nehalem – the tunnels, the holding pen. Told them our conclusions."

"Oh, and they spilled the beans?" Rodney asked.

"There were no beans served…" Teyla tried to respond.

Ronon continued with, "We told them that we figured that the Nehalems captured newcomers and served them up to keep the Wraith off their backs. The Tolovanians seemed to know it already."

"And they let this happen?" Sheppard asked, incredulously.

Teyla shook her head vehemently. "They did not LET it happen. They found out," she stated, her voice taking on a deadly seriousness.

"And…" Sheppard led on.

Any merriment that had filled the Athosian was gone. The Satedan looked morose as well.

"The sea," Teyla explained, "Can be unforgiving. There was a price that needed to be levied against the Nehalems."

"They… they…" Rodney sputtered in disbelief. "These Tollovakians…

"Tolovanians," Teyla corrected.

"Whatever! These friends of yours drowned everyone in Nehalem?"

Sheppard's head came up abruptly at this accusation. He glanced to Teyla and Ronon, waiting for them to deny McKay's suppositions. No refutation came.

McKay went on, "There were two other towns! They killed everyone in those towns, too? Everyone? There must have been a thousand people or more." He sat up, looking a little pained at the change in position. "There were probably just a few people involved with this Wraith thing. These Tolovanas went in there, grabbed every man, woman and child, and dumped everyone into the sea? Did your friends honestly think they were any better than the folks who were keeping the Wraith well fed?"

Teyla remained poised, keeping her voice even. "It was not like that," she responded, and then added, "Not as bad as that."

"They took the Nehalems that were involved," Ronon explained. "Tied 'em up, took 'em out in a ship and let the sea have them."

"The rest were allowed to live," Teyla continued.

"They didn't kill the kids," Ronon added quickly. "They only dumped the Wraith sympathizers."

"How did they know?" McKay demanded to know. "How did the ...Tolovanios know who deserved to die?"

Ronon shrugged. "Guess a couple of the prisoners escaped from the cells. Got back to Tolovana. They knew who to point out." He had a resigned look as he said, "Seems that the Nehalems kept people that no one would miss – people without family, without friends. I guess they were smart. Realized that if they sacrificed those sorts, no one would complain. No one would notice. There's lots of folks out there with no connections."

Still not appreciating the situation, McKay went on, "Okay, so your friends came in and dumped a bunch of Nehalems into the sea. I got that. Fine. I guess they deserved it. Where did the rest of the people go – the 'innocent' people who didn't get to drown? What happened to them? 'Cause they certainly weren't there when we were poking around."

"They had to leave the planet immediately," Teyla explained. "The Wraith were expected to arrive. And if they did not find prisoners waiting for them, they would have taken what they needed from the rest of the population."

"If the Wraith got there and didn't find their usual snack waiting, they'd be pissed off," Ronon added. "Their free food was gone. Wraith wouldn't stop at harvesting just a couple lives. They'd probably end up culling a good part of the planet."

"But why didn't we hear about this earlier?" McKay persisted. "I mean, if these people got spread out all over the place, shouldn't SOMEONE have known that they weren't all culled."

"I figure they kept it quiet," Sheppard stated, looking to Ronon and Teyla for confirmation. "I'm betting that none of the folks involved really wanted anyone to know where'd they'd come from, or why they had to leave."

"When searching for asylum," Teyla stated, "it is best to keep past ills quiet."

"Great," McKay muttered. "Good to know when we're always bringing in homeless folks."

Sheppard shook his head. "So, the Nehalems who used refugees as chum, got turned into chum, or had to become refugees themselves."

"It's a wonderful universe, ain't it?" McKay stated unhappily. "Karma sucks."

"Yeah, I suppose it does," Sheppard grumbled, remembering how many times he'd told McKay that he was a 'pain in the ass'. Yeah, maybe he'd keep from using that phrase for a while.

Why did he have to get the lamest injury?

"They got what was coming to them," Ronon finalized. His eyes took on a faraway look and he was silent for a second before he completed with, "I'm hungry."

Sheppard paused at the non sequitur, not sure what to say.

Teyla turned to Sheppard and watched him carefully. "I have heard that they shall be serving nestucca today in the mess, since we had such a bounty readily available."

Ronon sighed happily, while Sheppard looked a little sick at the idea, remembering the hundreds of red roasted nestuccas that had waited outside the metal doorway.

"Is it any good?" McKay asked hopefully.

Sheppard gave him a withering look. "How can you eat those things?"

"With butter," McKay tried. "They look like lobsters. I like lobster."

"Oh, you'll like nestucca," Ronon confided. "Especially good with neotsu."

When McKay looked confused (and by being confused, he was also annoyed), Teyla told him, "I am assured that neotsu is much like the dish you would call 'corn on the cob'. And yes, Ronon, they have neotsu in the mess today."

Ronon gave a sound like a contented lion.

McKay's mood brightened. "Great! Lobster and corn on the cob, what could be better? I can't wait to…" his voice trailed off and the annoyed look returned. He brought up his one good arm and clenched his hand into a fist. "How am I supposed to eat it with one hand? My fingers will get all messy and I know I'm going to get bits all over my… chest. And how will I crack the shells? Oh man, the worst things always happen to me."

Sheppard shook his head. "Some people are just made to suffer," he commented, standing with a grimace, and still looking a little green around the gills at the ideas of confronting the freaky lobsters again. "Let's see if we can't find you a hammer or something." The smile returned at the idea of smashing the creatures with a mallet. "Come on, Mae West." He pulled at McKay's sleeve to get him moving off the lab stool.

McKay grumbled, allowing himself to be tugged at.

"Who is Mae West?" Teyla asked, falling in along side, with Ronon right behind her.

Sheppard explained, "She was a woman with big Wantoobers – an impressive pair of Kadoodles."

To that, Ronon asked, "Mae West had two broken arms?"

McKay looked toward Sheppard, one eye twitching in an attempt to keep from laughing out loud. Sheppard just shook his head and led the way.


I hope you enjoyed the story. It got a bit silly, but that couldn't be helped. Thank you so much for all your wonderful reviews. You made me smile A LOT!