"Well, that may not have been the original intent of this mission, but it's definitely turned out that way.

"Shut up."

"No, I don't think I will. This is your fault, and I am perfectly happy making sure you know it all the way back on this loooong walk back to the Stargate."

"I could have Ronon shut you up."

"No you can't. I'm with McKay on this one," the Satedan member of the team replied firmly, not happy with the long hike they'd been forced into by Sheppard's actions.

"Are you saying that if I gave you a direct order, you would disregard it?" Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard asked as they trudged through the persistent mist, a special added feature of this mission that shouldn't have been necessary; after all, they'd made the trip out in a Puddle Jumper.

"You wouldn't order me to do that. Not for real," Ronon countered. Rodney harrumphed in triumph. "Even if I begged," he added. At that, McKay turned to scowl at the big man walking behind him.

"Teyla?" John asked.

"Please. I would like to be left out of this. But I do agree with Ronon – you would not really order either one of us to harm Rodney."

"There," Rodney said.

"There what?" John asked as they all walked at a hurried pace in the wet weather. "And I never said I'd order you to harm him. You can shut him up without harming him."

"You can?" Ronon threw in. Rodney gave him another dirty look.

"Is that so?" the scientist said almost simultaneously to Ronon's quick retort. "How would…"

"McKay! Quit while you're ahead," Ronon suggested.

"I've been ahead this entire conversation," Rodney noted. "Why is it that when it's my fault we have to discuss it and dissect it and analyze my actions ad nauseum, but when it's Sheppard who's at fault, we don't?"

Teyla had the lead as they headed home, with John following, Rodney behind him and Ronon covering them all. Sheppard stopped and turned, ending up with a whole lot of annoyed Canadian physicist in his face.

"What?" McKay started, but it was John's turn to talk.

"We will debrief when we get back. I screwed up, I get that, McKay. I let them distract me, and I crashed the jumper. Thanks for covering my six on that, by the way."

"Hey. Hold on. How was I…"

"Glad I could count on you," Sheppard added. Teyla rolled her eyes and Ronon shook his head. Though Sheppard seemed willing to take responsibility for his actions, he didn't seem willing to go it alone. The fact that Rodney was doing exactly what he'd been told to do – helping the Shendani with the Naquada generator and explaining the benefits it would bring them versus their own, antiquated technology seemed of little consequence to the angry Air Force man.

That Sheppard had taken the three-person, make that, three 'woman' security detail for a spin and had crashed the jumper all without any assistance from anyone but his clearly distracted self had somehow morphed to 'sorta Rodney's fault' in John's revisionist explanation of events.

"I…you…huh," Rodney started. "This was not even remotely my fault. You told me to stay and 'do your job'. So I did. You could have taken Ronon or Teyla with you, but I guess that would have distracted you from whatever your agenda really was. Seems to me that you needed to be distracted from your distraction. You have a one-track mind, Colonel, when pretty women are around." McKay paused and then added, "Oh, right. It's not your mind that was in control, was it? You may as well have been taken over by a Goa'uld the way you're so easily smitten." The unfortunate correlation of the nasty alien snake to Sheppard's…well, everyone cringed just about at the same time.

John Sheppard had turned a deep shade of red during Rodney McKay's diatribe, from shame or ire no one could yet tell. He remained quiet, staring at the chief of science and clearly undecided at what his next step would be. He took one step closer to McKay, but so did both Ronon and Teyla, the teammates both worried about the other two coming to blows.

"Rodney," John said softly, and threateningly, "I need you to shut up and I need you to do it now. I'm not asking," he warned.

McKay acknowledged the threat, and he looked to Teyla to verify that he'd heard it right. His brow was wrinkled in confusion. Teyla cocked her head and smiled sadly, but her eyes said that it would be best to keep quiet and move forward.

"I don't understand it," Rodney started. John stepped closer and Rodney added, "but I'm shutting up now."

"Let's move," Sheppard directed.

The light rain kept on as they made their march to the Stargate, the ground growing slick in places. Each of them slipped at some point along the way, nearly falling on occasion as the footing became more treacherous. They were forced to slow their pace. John came to a tree branch that Teyla had managed to avoid by simply leaning out of the way. In his anger and frustration he grabbed it and let it slap loose behind him, hitting McKay, hard. Rodney had been walking, head down to assure himself better traction as he watched carefully where he placed his steps, when he was slapped hard in the head with the wet branch. Between getting caught off-guard and the thickest part of the branch catching him high and square on his forehead, we was knocked easily to the muddy ground.

They all heard the 'oomph' upon McKay's landing, followed by Ronon's, "Sheppard!"

"Aw, crap," John said. He and Teyla turned back to see to their downed teammate.

Ronon reached down, putting his hands under McKay's armpits from behind and pulled the scientist to a standing position. Rodney blinked, his eyes a little unfocussed – blood was now racing down his forehead with the rain's assistance – and then he slipped back against the Satedan's chest. And then he folded toward the ground. Ronon eased him back into the mud.

"Ronon," Teyla said warningly as she kneeled in front of their friend. "Rodney?"

"That…um…hurt," the physicist said as he reached his hand up toward his scalp.

"It is bleeding. Keep your hand away. I will check it out," Teyla instructed as she pulled out her first aid kit.

"Hey," Sheppard said as he, too, kneeled next to McKay. "You should watch where you're going," he said.

"I thought I was," Rodney answered. "Can't seem to get anything right with you today."

John looked guilty as he replied, "This was my fault. I didn't…I wasn't thinking…well…at least not about anyone but myself." He watched as Rodney's scalp continued to bleed. "Sorry."

McKay sat, blinking and a little listless, patiently waiting for Teyla to finish tending to his injury. He started to speak. "What…" and then was interrupted by a massive sneeze. "Ow."

"You okay?" Sheppard asked.

"Was that…" Rodney started again, but once again a sneeze took him by surprise. "Was…that tree…in bloom?" he asked, sneezing regularly between every couple of words.

"Don't know." John stood to go look at the tree. "Crap." He walked back to Rodney. "How ya feelin' there, buddy?" he asked, worry evident in his tone.

"Uh-oh," McKay answered, sounding a little congested – and now knowing the answer to his previous question. He sneezed and said, "Head hurts. A little…dizzy. Um…sneezing is making my head pound." He sneezed twice more.

"Anything else?" John checked.

"This sneezing…is…annoying."

Teyla looked at John and smiled. "I'll bet," the team leader said. "How's your breathing? Is this an allergic reaction we need to worry about?"

Rodney sighed and replied, "I don't think so. It's not so bad." He sniffed, and that made him cough. "I need to…" he sneezed, "blow my nose…and get… this stuff off my face." He sneezed twice more, again. Teyla handed him some tissues, and then she unwrapped a pre-packaged wipe. McKay blew his nose, moaned from the added abuse it caused his head, and then Teyla removed the pollen, hidden though it was, from his face. He sneezed again, blew his nose, again, and then just sat there with his eyes closed.

"Y'alright?" John asked.

"I'm tired. My head hurts." Rodney opened his eyes and asked John, "Are you sure you didn't do that on purpose?"

John winced and offered honestly, "I might have? I really am sorry."

McKay yawned and then started to rise from his seated position.

"Wait a minute." John pushed him back down. "You sure you're okay?"

"No. But we can't be that far from the 'gate, right? Let's get home so I can just, you know, pass out."

"You still dizzy?"

"A little."

"You don't want to wait a while, see if it passes?"

"No. Sitting here in the rain waiting for something that might take a while isn't really a very attractive option."

"I guess not. You can lean on me," John suggested.

"Right. What's next? Are you going to kick me in the back of my knee to try and trip me up?" McKay asked with a wry smile.

"No. I thought I'd be more original than that."

"Good. That branch thing…that was so cliché."

"I guess it was." John helped Rodney up. McKay's sneezing had subsided, though he did sniff and cough a little as they walked. "I'm sorry about earlier, too."

"Hm?" McKay asked. His weariness from this 'not so bad' allergic reaction was obvious.

"With the alien chicks. That was FUBAR. I guess I just figured you disobey me, on average, at least one order per mission. I got it in my head that I wouldn't have crashed if you'd insisted on going with, or sending Ronon or something."

"Oh." Rodney walked, he thought straight ahead, but every so often his direction was set to right by the colonel. "Figured you'd come around. Got up on the wrong side of the bed or somethin'?" McKay asked.

"Or somethin'."

"You're a big boy now. You should be able to tell what's right from what's wrong."

John laughed lightly. "You'd think."

"Hey, we better not tell Carson about the branch. Tell Ronon and Teyla…um…tell them…" Rodney sighed. "Make something up," he finished tiredly.

"You want us to make up our own little conspiracy to cover up the fact that I was being a jerk?" Sheppard asked, mildly incredulous. He was only mildly incredulous, since this was exactly something that Rodney McKay would come up with to keep Sheppard, and himself, from getting into trouble with the overprotective Scot.

"Again," Rodney reminded.

"Again," John agreed. "What about the alien chicks and losing the jumper?"

"You're on your own, pal." John nodded, a crooked grin making its way to his face, knowing that the comment wasn't even remotely true.

The End.