ZAS: Return of the Good Guy

It flew like wildfire. Rodney was pretty sure he could pin it on Purcell getting back at him for his tirade earlier. Figures. He sighed into his chocolate pudding, locking his gaze on his padd. Behind him, he could hear the remarks, real and imagined.

"Did you get the last one?" Deep voice could only belong to one person.

"Why, yes, Conan, I did." Rodney shot the Satedan a childish smirk.

Ronon shrugged and tossed four more cups down on the table. "Too bad. I was going to share."

Choking on his own chocolate goodness, the Canadian sputtered, "Where? Wha-?"

"Hey, Dr. Z!" A wave had the Czech joining them. "Want one?"

Blue eyes widened. "Certainly." He murmured several extra words in his native language.

Rodney frowned at him. "Now what? Now that it's been physically proven you are cooler than I am, what IS it?"

"Is just...I am not used to so much attention." He sat down next to Ronon, rolling a pudding cup over and over in his hands. Slender fingers that spent much time with Ancient interfaces seemed to dance over the surface of the oddly shaped container. "I did not ask for recognition."

"Yes, well, it seems that SOMEONE thought you needed to step into the light for a moment, okay." Rodney finally noticed the genuine unease in the slighter man's shoulders. "Hey, not everyone here has their own fan club, although, I doubt that the ZAS, whatever that stands for, could be considered a true club. I think there are rules for such things. I wonder what it would take to start my own..."

"McKay, that would be defeating the point, if you start your own club," Sheppard gave his friend a crooked smile as he slid into a set next to him. "I mean, really. Who'd pay all the dues? You? I've seen you play poker."

Ronon snorted. "You still owe me a box of Pop-Tarts."

"I'm working on it." Rodney eyed one of the three remaining cups. "Can I have one of those now?"

A growl accompanied the massive arm circling the pudding protectively.

"I'd take that as a 'NO', Rodney. Besides, Cook said you've had three today. Stress-relief, I believe he said you called it."

"I WAS! It's been terribly stressful to have to figure out all the normal problems as well as..." He trailed off, flushing pink as he nearly blabbed his own findings.

"Figuring out you are hotter than the rest of us and that Radek is cooler than you by default?" John took great delight in taunting Rodney with his own findings.

Finally defeated, the Canadian mumbled into his padd, "It was just an idea."

"And a good one." Zelenka slid his cup over to Rodney. "Here. You have. I think I am tired of this today." He stood and made his way out of the Dining Hall, stopping several times to talk to many well-wishers.

"He seems to be handling it pretty well," Sheppard noted.

"Yeah, he should be well-versed in it, since all day people have been interrupting our important work to mention it to him."

"So, did you figure out that eye-ball dilation spaced-out fracture thing?"

Rodney rounded on Sheppard only to find he and the Satedan staring at him intently. "Well, yes, of course, I did. Do you think a mere comment can distract me from my job? You know I can multi-task."

"That's good, McKay. Knowing you are on the job let's me sleep at night." John smiled at his friend.

"Really?" Rodney seemed gobsmacked.

"Really. Now, go get some sleep. I'm sure the galaxy will need saving tomorrow."

Snatching an extra pudding cup, the scientist jumped up. "Sleep is a good idea. I might get in a few hours before the next big crisis." He almost made it out the door, before someone stopped to give him a pat on the back. The smile that lit his face as he walked out the door had his two friends grinning.

"I think that worked well."

"Hm." Ronon looked at his remaining cup. "I think he took two."

"Nah, I have one. Figured I'd need the extra boost." That earned him a sharply arched eyebrow. "What? I'm a growing boy."

The big man shook his head. Walking out the door, he left John to his pudding in peace.

THE END