Rodney could not believe the depths of stupidity Sheppard had plumbed this time. This was ridiculous; this was unnecessary; this was such a waste of time; this was –

"Team bonding," Sheppard announced gleefully. "We need to get to know each other better."

"Why?" Rodney asked sullenly, not liking where this was going at all.

"Because, Rodney," Sheppard answered in the patronizing voice he saved for explaining military jock things to Rodney, "we put our lives in each other's hands every day. We need trust, and for trust we need bonding."

"Fine," Rodney allowed, "but if it's team bonding, why are we pairing up?"

"Because that's how we're doing it," Sheppard growled. Rodney thought he knew the real reason, though: Sheppard wanted some one-on-one time with Teyla. As if he didn't get enough of that during their little 'sparring sessions' in the gym. Which left Rodney with…

"Ronon." Rodney tried to sound friendly and interested in the big man, but it didn't exactly come naturally to him. As Sheppard and Teyla scampered off to 'bond,' Rodney turned to his silent partner and grimaced. He might have been trying to smile, it was hard to tell.

Ronon grunted.

"So, big guy," Rodney chuckled nervously, hoping Ronon didn't mind the term, "what do you want to do?"

Ronon grunted.

"We could spar, I suppose. Though that didn't go so well last time, as I recall. Sheppard said something about a traditional Satedan game? What's that about?"

Ronon grunted.

Rodney scowled. "Fine, what about running around the city until we collapse from exhaustion? Or until I collapse from exhaustion, at which point you can pick up my lifeless body and keep going."

Ronon grunted.

"I don't speak ape, all right?" Rodney exploded, losing patience. "Say something!"

"How about chess?" Ronon rumbled.

Rodney blinked. "Chess? You want to play chess?"

"I've seen the scientists playing in the mess hall," Ronon shrugged. "It looks interesting."

Rodney blinked again, hardly able to fathom this shift in direction. "Well, I suppose…"

"Cool," Ronon grinned. Rodney thought the expression reminded him rather of a lion who had spotted a limping antelope, but supposed it to be friendly and smiled nervously back.

"I should warn you, I'm probably the best chess player in two galaxies. Don't be sore if you lose."

"You might be sore if I lose," Ronon returned and Rodney looked up in alarm. The big man's eyes were…twinkling? Was that even an appropriate adjective in relation to the large Satedan? But they were, lit up with a sort of…mirth.

Rodney blinked again and gave a startled laugh. "I didn't know you told jokes."

"I know a few," Ronon shrugged. "Sateda wasn't exactly a humorous planet."

"We might have to fix that," Rodney nodded. "So a physicist, a chemist, and a biologist walk into a bar…"