TITLE: Excuse Me If I'm Paranoid
AUTHOR: Wraithfodder
RATING: T
CATEGORY: Gen, slight whump, humor
SPOILERS: Season 3 tag for "Irresistible"

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: Harvesting some gates should have been simple, until Sheppard's team ran across a particularly obnoxious person. Missing scenes/tag for "Irresistible," from Sheppard's point of view.


PART ONE

A quart low in the crankcase.

The elevator doesn't go all the way to the top.

The inmates are in charge of the asylum.

There were so many… God, he couldn't even remember the word. Oh, sayings. Yes, sayings. Damn cold had his head clogged and watching his colleagues and friends fall under the spell of that Lucius character was giving him a headache as well.

For some reason, he knew this idea of swiping, or rather 'harvesting' as someone had more politically correct called it, abandoned Stargates, was going to be a bad idea. He had no idea why, but just flying around all over the galaxy with a stuffed head was a bad idea. It hadn't affected his flying abilities, but obviously it did affect his thought processes as he would have been more on the ball. But he'd left Ronon – Ronon, for God's sake! - watching Lucius. He couldn't believe the Satedan would have fallen for the man's bizarre influence like Carson had.

In retrospect, he pondered how this was indirectly his own fault. They'd visited that planet, run into the most unctuous man he'd ever had the misfortune to meet – an individual with six gorgeous wives and ridiculously tall tales he could spin all night long – and had nothing to offer except hitting on Teyla. Sheppard had really been surprised Teyla hadn't hit on him – in the literal sense. But he knew they were always on the look out for new medicines. They'd run across some bacterial strains that been pretty nasty and resistant to Earth drugs, so…. he'd let Carson go it alone – at the physician's own insistence - get back on the horse type of crap after the disastrous Wraith experiment/kidnapping that took the doctor a while to get over. These people sure weren't Genii spies as the Genii would have shot that jerk long ago… Sheppard was getting tired of having that phrase 'in retrospect' run through his mind.

But Carson sure was happy now. Any happier and he should be wearing a T-shirt with a big yellow smiley face on it and passing out flowers at an airport.

The 'harvesting' had been bad enough with Rodney going on about relocating people off a planet so they could take the gate. He'd been so tempted to smack the scientist in the head for the suggestion, but he was in the co-pilot's seat, a bit too far away, and all Sheppard wanted to do was get home, grab himself a mug of something really hot and clear out his sinuses.

But like all best laid plans, it had gone to hell so quickly.

At least Rodney had had the common sense to look confused and worried when they'd returned to base and found Elizabeth, Teyla, Ronon and countless others gathered around Lucius, just sucking up like remoras on a shark. Or maybe it was more like the Stepford Wives. The Elizabeth he knew, despite her peaceful nature, would have at least shoved off the man pawing at her body!

It was all Sheppard could do to not burst out laughing, or maybe smack his head into a wall in disbelief, when Elizabeth brought out the ugliest gourd he'd ever seen with a yellow candle stuck in its top. Elizabeth, Teyla, Carson and Ronon had gathered around it, smiling and admiring the item like it was the damned Crowned Jewels of England! When Ronon praised what a wonderful man their annoying visitor was, Sheppard thought he was going to be sick.

It was pretty pathetic that Sheppard saw truth in Rodney's comparison of an old Batman TV episode to the current situation of having the most competent people he'd ever known in his life, turn into the Pegasus Galaxy version of teenage groupies sucking up to some stupid rock star. Sheppard couldn't see how on earth – or any planet – that Lucius guy could having so many people kissing up to him without some kind of artificial means, and a lot was explained when they saw security footage of their visitor downing some liquid while in the guest room. Rodney had procured a tiny sample from the bottle he'd retrieved, but when he mentioned that he could use Beckett's help in finding an antidote to whatever Lucius imbibed, Sheppard couldn't help blurt, "He's out picking daffodils for his new friend."

They'd been gone for hours so they quickly grabbed some food in the mess hall, but Sheppard's appetite, already dulled by his cold, was rapidly vanishing as both he and Rodney discovered the extent of Lucius' influence. According to Rodney, the whole of Altantis' population was turning into 'pod people.' He supposed it stood to reason that if Lucius could influence an entire village, why not all of Atlantis? Sheppard downed only half a muffin before the horrifying thought that if a Wraith attack occurred, everybody on Atlantis would probably line up like lambs to the slaughter.

Sheppard marched down to the control room, only to discover that Lucius was trying to convince Elizabeth to send their people to M68 491, a potentially Wraith-occupied planet. And then she had the gall to push the man's suggestion, mentioning Rodney's 'gate quota' as her reasoning, which in itself was ludicrous. But when Lucius began to insinuate that they were cowards for not investigating that planet, something inside Sheppard snapped. No one was going through the gate without his authorization. Period. He'd almost expected Elizabeth to throw a fit with the weird way she was behaving, but instead, he turned and walked off before he said something he'd really regret.

Damn. The headache was escalating, pounding away like little hammers smacking against his temples, so he went back down to Rodney's lab and bitched about the whole situation, but even McKay was stressing out. The scientist's voice raised a pitch when Sheppard decided he'd return to Lucius' home world and find a bigger sample of the liquid so they could concoct an antidote of some kind.

As Sheppard went out the door, he told McKay to 'just stay away from the nuts.' He hated that "deer in the headlights of an oncoming 18-wheeler" expression McKay shot at him, but good lord, it wasn't like anybody was going to shoot the man - just smother him with the love that was Lucius. Oh god, he was going to get sick if he kept thinking about that. The whole situation was so surreal he was beginning to wonder if he'd been hit on the head and was hallucinating the whole mess.

The village had become a reverse image of what he'd seen before on his previous visit. It was … drab. Even the colors seemed muted as the townsfolk just dragged around, looking dour and depressed as though they'd all lost an audit with the IRS. Or worse, their drug dealer had left town, leaving them high and dry and in pain. He hated doing it, but interrogating them now that the influence of the drug was nearly gone, was easy. It took no effort at all to get the facts from the folks, all of whom clustered around as if he were the Pied Piper ready to lead all the rats out of town. They were addicted to whatever Lucius took, and now they were in withdrawal. Sheppard shoved the more serious implications of how Lucius had manipulated his people into the back of his mind. These people were so screwed, in more ways than one. Happy happy as long as Lucius was around, but unable to fend for themselves in the simplest capacity without his presence. Sheppard just steeled himself. He couldn't save the universe. He had to save his own little portion.

Sheppard's own people now faced the same horrors: either a lifetime of emotional enslavement to an obnoxious and dangerous crackpot, or the brutal reality of withdrawal, unless he could find a vial of the damned stuff Lucius drank.

PART TWO

He was not a doctor of medicine. Hadn't he drilled that little factoid into Sheppard's head a few million times, but since when did the colonel ever listen to him? And now, he was the lone voice of sanity in the insane asylum. "Just avoid the nuts," Sheppard had advised succinctly. Oh, thank you so very much! How could he expect anything less from a man who didn't even know Julie Newmar was the delectable Catwoman? Eartha Kitt? Sheppard had weird tastes.

Rodney knew that they'd definitely need Carson to fix this mess. Molecular biology and voodoo mumbo-jumbo was just not up his alley. He could get only so far, and right now, he was up against the proverbial brick wall.

"Dr. McKay!"

Oh no. Rodney turned on his heel. The massive bulk of Lucius Lavan in that god-awful frilly shirt was blocking the door to his lab. Damn damn damn. He quickly shut his laptop. Maybe Lucius had no idea what they were doing. His technological skills seemed to be Neanderthal in nature so hopefully the man didn't know what he was up to.

"Lucius," he nearly squeaked. "I thought Elizabeth was looking for you, um, down on the south pier." Lord, that was downright lame but the man was more interested in women then men. Teyla should have kicked the man in the nuts back on the planet with the first insult and killed any future deals.

"Colonel Sheppard just went back to my planet." The large man frowned, almost as if he missed Sheppard's presence, which was definitely not true. Lucius wasn't happy that neither he nor the colonel were not members of his ever-growing fan club. "He said he was going to check on my wives." A pained smile of gargantuan proportions crossed his face. "Oh, my wives must miss me so. I should bring them here to drink the delights of your fair city!"

Rodney knew if he was diabetic, that last remark would have surely killed him. "Well, um, why don't you wait in the gateroom then?" He swallowed down hard. "I'm sure they'd be delighted to see you."

Lucius moved into the room amazingly quickly for being so large and obviously out of shape. Although the lab was Rodney's territory, he quickly found himself blocked in a corner. If he got out of this mess, he'd have to definitely review and devise escape routes from his own lab! "Rodney, you really must spend more time with me, up on the balcony, out of this dreary dark room."

When the grinning man held out his arms expansively just like some thieving politician making promises he'd never keep, Rodney took advantage, ducking and dodging and heading for the door and an escape. "I've got to check the, uh, energy generator doohickey on level 18," he said as he backed away, cringing outwardly that he was now using Sheppard's lame descriptions. He turned around, then bounced off something blocking his path.

Ronon stood in the doorway, his sold bulk pushing the scientist back into the room.

"Ah, big guy," Rodney tried to sooth, laying on his best McKay charm. "I need to go fix something. Make sure the city runs okay, you know that Ancient technology, needs constant tinkering."

"Uh huh." Both of the Satedan's hands grasped like a vice into Rodney's vest and a second later, he found himself pinned firmly to a nearby wall. Seconds later, Lucius was by his side, wrapping one arm over his shoulder. Rodney was distinctly uncomfortable, and if he hadn't known that the alien was a blatant womanizer, he'd be worried for his virtue, but it was bad enough that he could feel panic creeping in on his thoughts.

"Haven't you ever heard of personal space?" He tried to push off from the wall but instead, Ronon just shifted his grip from the shoulders to his upper arms, pinning him even further against the wall. There was no malice in the man's actions. Ronon was just insane, hopefully just temporarily, that's all. Rodney shuddered inwardly. Ronon had a feral grin that was really worrisome. He'd seen just how nuts the Satedan could be when he was sane.

Lucius began droning nonsense about cooperation and alliances and how beautiful Elizabeth's eyes were but all Rodney could do was try to hold his breath. Wait, what if the effect was transferable by touch as well? Eeeeuuu, the man had his hand across his back, caressing his neck in a very, very creepy manner that made him want to whimper.

How the hell was he going to stay away from the nuts if they turned him into one of them?

Sheppard was never going to forgive him.

TO BE CONTINUED