Title: Four Times Ronon Usurped Rodney's Dessert and One Time He Didn't
Genre/Rating: Humor and friendship/ PG13 (for language)
Spoilers: None that I can think of. Takes place pre-Sunday.
Summary: Pretty much what the title says.
Disclaimer: Don't own them. Wish I did. Don't we all?
AN: Written for the sgaflashfic five things challenge
The animal looked like a lion. Thick, shaggy fur around its neck. Large, muscular body. Big teeth.
Very big teeth.
Very big teeth it liked to show every time one of them approached the DHD.
"Well," Sheppard said as the three of them stood very still and watched the not-lion pace in front of their only way home. "This is new."
After a moment, Ronon slowly extended his hand toward Rodney. "Gimme your chocolate bar, McKay."
Rodney snapped his head around. "No!"
"Rodney, just hand it over," Sheppard hissed, eyes still on the not-lion.
"No, it's mine. It's my last one and if Ronon thinks I'm giving it up that easy he's — "
"It's the candy or your life," Ronon said flatly. "You choose."
Rodney stood straighter and turned from the not-lion to glare at Ronon. "Is that a threat? Because I'll have you know I've been going to extra training sessions and I think I could take you."
Ronon took a menacing step forward and Rodney scrambled back two.
At the DHD, the not-lion swished its tail and growled. Rodney stopped moving, his gaze swinging back to the animal.
"Leo here would like a snack," Sheppard said, low and calm with an edge. "Do you want it to chew on you or your Hershey's bar?"
Rodney thought about it.
"McKay!" Ronon barked.
"Okay. Fine, fine." Rodney tore open his front right tac vest pocket, the rip of Velcro making the not-lion perk its ears. He pulled out a Hershey's Dark and tossed it to Ronon. "Here. Now make it go away."
Ronon unwrapped the bar with one swift movement. "Gladly."
Then he popped the candy bar in his mouth.
"Hey!" Rodney yelped. "What the hell?"
"That's a capimer," Ronon said around a mouthful of chocolate, pointing at the not-lion. The animal sat down, licked a front paw and eyed the three men. "Had them on Sateda."
"Goody, the creature has a name. Now I'll know to what to tell Carson when he asks what mauled me. Make it go away!"
Ronon took a step toward the animal, raised his hands and bellowed, "Go!"
The not-lion twitched in surprise. Eyes wide, head low, it backed up. When its rump hit the DHD, it turned and bounded away, casting a worried glance over its furry shoulder as it went.
"Huh," Sheppard said, looking as surprised as the not-lion.
Rodney stared after the animal. Ronon clasped his shoulder on his way to dial home. "Thanks for the chocolate, McKay."
Looking at his cards, Rodney fought to keep the smirk off his face. He tossed a trio of red M&Ms into the pile. "I'll see your three."
Across the table, Sheppard snickered.
"You." Rodney glared at him and pointed. "Shut up, you."
Sheppard made a zipping motion across his lips. It might have seemed halfway sincere if he hadn't kept snickering.
"All right then," Rodney said, thrusting out his chin. He tossed another five M&Ms into the pot. "Raise."
It had started out innocent enough. "Team night, McKay," Sheppard said. "Please join us," Teyla said. "Bring chocolate," Ronon said.
Okay, admittedly, the whole "bring chocolate" thing should have been a tip-off. But no one mentioned anything about poker. No one. He was terrible at poker. Couldn't lie to save his life. Well, maybe to save his life. Certainly to save the city. Possibly to save —
Point is, he couldn't just look at his cards and pretend he didn't have four kings.
"I'll see yours," Sheppard said, tossing in eight Doritos. He looked at Rodney and smiled. "And raise you five." He tossed in five more chips.
Sure it started out fair, too. Teyla put up her kova berry bars. Ronon anted the bag of licorice bits he'd gotten during his earth trip with Sheppard. The colonel offered his stash of Doritos.
Rodney brought his M&Ms.
Then Rodney began losing his M&Ms in stupid, stupid moves. Like folding too soon. Or staying in too long. Or believing Teyla when she said she didn't know how to play.
Now, though, Teyla was out, folding in the hand's first round of betting. Ronon tossed his cards in right after. It was just him and Sheppard.
To the death.
"You are not taking my M&Ms, Colonel," he said, tossing in another five to match Sheppard's. "Call."
It was nearly midnight, and the mess hall was empty, dimly lit and quiet. Next to him, Ronon munched on popcorn, the sound loud, echoing.
Sheppard leaned his chair back on two legs and peered across the table, head tilted. His gaze flicked from Rodney to Ronon to Rodney
Rodney tightened his hold on his cards.
"Riiight," Sheppard drawled. "Tell you what, you can have the pot, your thirteen M&Ms and my thirteen Doritos."
"Oh, don't you try that with me, Colonel. I know what you're doing and — "
"— you won't get away with — Wait, what?" Rodney blinked. "I win?"
Sheppard laid his cards on the table face down. "You win."
"I win?" Rodney broke into a smile. "I win!"
"Good game, buddy," Sheppard said.
"Very nice," Teyla added.
Ronon mumbled something that might have been "Cool" or "Wow" or "What the hell, McKay just won?" but his mouth was too full to make out the words.
"Damn right," Rodney said and leaned forward to sweep his winnings over to his side of the table. Sure, it was the smallest pot of the night and the M&Ms were all red, his least favorite color in the M&M spectrum, but still —
Sheppard cleared his throat. "Hey, Rodney."
Rodney held up a hand. "No, no, no, you are not getting another chance, Colonel. This is the first hand I've won all night. Ever, in fact. I'm taking my winnings and my leftover M&Ms and going — "
"That's the thing," Sheppard said. "I think Ronon ran out of popcorn and ate your money."
Rodney's head snapped around. He'd organized his M&Ms by color, keeping the piles at his elbow. Now just one sad, red M sat there, spinning lazily.
At Rodney's scowl, Ronon paused mid-munch, a smear of chocolate just visible at the corner of his mouth. "What?"
Rodney liked PX1-124. It was sunny, but not too sunny. The temperature hovered around 22 degrees Celsius with just enough humidity to keep his sinuses happy. No bugs buzzed them as they walked; the path to the village was easy and well marked; every native seemed friendly and open and not at all like the crazy people of the last planet, who took offense at Rodney's blue eyes and ran the team out of town with honest-to-god pitchforks and torches.
So when the elders of PX1-124 not only agreed to friendship, trade, and an unguarded tour of their sacred Ancient temple, but also invited them to a celebratory feast in their honor — a large celebratory feast that promised platters piled high with basted meats, roasted vegetables, and sweet berry pies — Rodney decided PX1-124 was his absolutely favorite planet ever.
"Oh my god," Rodney said and moaned low and nearly obscene as he savored a shallow bowl of thick stew. The banquet hall was wide but comfortable, with a long table and plush chairs for his team, the dozen elders and another dozen members of the village. Sunlight slanted through the windows, casting a golden pink glow. The room buzzed with light conversations. "Seriously, we should move here."
Sheppard chuckled as he reached for a hunk of bread. "You'd abandon the city that easily?"
Rodney took another mouthful of stew, the vegetables warm and soft against his tongue, and he moaned again. "What city?"
Sheppard laughed and clapped him on the back and Rodney was about to say, Really, so worth moving, when it happened.
A bell chimed.
Rodney glanced up just as a dozen servers streamed into the banquet hall. They bustled around the table, loading trays with half-full plates and bowls.
"Teyla?" Sheppard asked, quirking an eyebrow as a tall boy with long hair took his bread.
Teyla looked astonished. "I believe they are allowing us to partake in the Sharing," she said, giving the word weight. "It is a great honor, highly unusual for outsiders to be included in —"
A buxom, matronly server pulled Rodney's stew dish right out from under his spoon. "Hey!" he yelped.
The bell chimed again and, to Rodney's relief, the servers reversed course, handing out the dishes they'd just taken. Except Rodney didn't get his stew back.
He got Sheppard's bread.
And when he tried to pass it back to Sheppard, the matronly server slapped his hand and set the plate firmly in front of him again.
"Teeeylaaa," he complained, hating himself for whining like a two-year-old, but damn it — he didn't want bread!
Teyla spread her hands apologetically. Rodney noticed a plate of grilled meat had replaced the spiced vegetables she'd been enjoying. "During the Sharing, food is redistributed randomly so that everyone may —"
Rodney blanched, thinking of the germs. "Everyone? Everyone?"
"It is a great honor, one I have heard about but have never been invited to participate." She frowned at him. "These people highly value your friendship, Rodney."
Sheppard nudged his elbow. "In other words, suck it up and play nice, McKay." He picked up the piece of almost-chicken that had been put in front of him. "Think of it like a buffet."
"Besides," Ronon said tucking into a plate of spiced vegetables that Rodney was pretty sure had belonged to Teyla, "food's good."
Rodney's stomach growled. Grudgingly, he took a bite of bread. At least it had been Sheppard's. He was pretty sure Sheppard didn't have any Ebola-like symptoms that could —
The bell chimed.
It went on like that for an hour. At various points, Rodney found himself with a half-eaten platter of seasoned fish, a quarter bowl of mushy grains that, oddly, tasted like Grapenuts, and a plate of cold greens. Sometimes he got his team's food, sometimes he got the elders'. A few times he had no clue where his dish had come from.
"So," he grumbled when faced with a plate of what had been almost-chicken but now contained only bones, "I'm guessing dinner nearly over?"
The bell chimed.
And to Rodney's delight — nay, his complete and utter elation — the servers appeared with full trays of new desserts.
"See, there you go," Sheppard said cheerfully. "It's your favorite part of the meal anyway and — oh crap!"
Rodney got a brief glimpse of a yellow pastry before the colonel lunged and pulled it away. In one swift move, Sheppard swapped his dessert plate with Rodney's.
Which would have been great if Sheppard's dessert hadn't also appeared to be lemon-esque.
Along with Teyla's.
With a sigh, Rodney leaned back, folded his arms and waited for the chime.
Four rounds later, he was immersed in a conversation with one of the elders — "As it happens, yes, Dr. McKay, our Ancient temple does have its own energy source. Why do you ask?" — and almost missed the sweet berry pie that was placed in front of him. He didn't know how long it had been sitting there, but he suddenly caught a whiff of something sugary and fruity and there it was, a delicate crust overflowing with berries and drizzled in a red sauce. Not a hint of citrus.
Rodney jumped and let out meep of joy. He speared a bite with his fork and slid it into his mouth.
"Oh my," he groaned with the kind of reverence normally reserved for fully charged ZPMs. The pie was better than he could have imagined. A sweet and tangy center offset by a light, rich crust. Berries so plump they burst with juice as soon as his tongue touched them. The red sauce was —
The bell chimed.
"No!" he cried. "No, no, no, no!" But the matronly server was already there, sweeping his plate up and away even as he hunched over to gobble another bite.
He watched sadly as she carried his pie around the table and set it in front of Ronon. Another server delivered Rodney's new dessert.
He looked down fervently hoping for another piece of berry pie. Instead he got a half bowl of yellow pudding.
When he looked up again, Ronon had finished the pie.
It had been, ironically, Rodney's idea.
"Once I impressed upon the IOA the importance of downtime during this annual review insanity — particularly for two annoyed aliens with impressive self-defense skills, a bored lieutenant colonel who likes blowing stuff up, and a genius who tends to get creative when faced with nothing but four gray walls and three days of back-to-back meetings — they saw my side of things quite quickly," he said in the parking lot of their hotel. He tossed Sheppard the keys to a rented Mustang Cobra convertible and held up four tickets to the Lakeside Amusement Park. "We've got the whole day."
"Happy birthday, John," Teyla added with a smile. Behind her, Ronon grinned.
Sheppard's speechless surprise lasted 2.045 seconds (Rodney counted) before he got a gleam in his eye, broke into a broad grin, and said, "Well then, let's see how fast this baby can go."
During the ride, Rodney channeled his nervous energy into adjusting the radio, the windows, the air conditioner ("Jesus, Rodney, the top's down. We don't even need air conditioning," Sheppard said around mile 42.) He'd chosen Lakeside almost purely for its location — just two hours away from Cheyenne Mountain. Sure, the place boasted a variety of fast, dizzying, stomach-churning rides, but it wasn't Disneyland or Six Flags and he wasn't sure it would be enough.
Then the Ferris wheel came into view and Sheppard practically bounced in his seat like a six-year-old, and Rodney decided today would be a good day after all.
They fell into a pattern — ride, ride, eat, repeat — as soon as they crossed the turnstiles.
"These chipmunks must be fierce creatures for such an. . . intense ride to be named after them," Teyla said, wobbling a little after their second spin on The Chipmunk rollercoaster.
"You have no idea," Sheppard said with mock solemnity. "You should hear them sing."
"Oh, look," Rodney said happily, "pizza."
The afternoon raced by in wind and sugar, adrenaline and laughter.
It wasn't until he and Teyla were in the middle of their third trip on the Tilt-A-Whirl that Rodney realized he was very possibly in a lot of trouble.
"Um," he said when his stomach lurched on a turn it had never lurched before.
He'd said it so quietly — quietly, anyway, given the click-whir of the ride and the shrieks of joy around them — that he was surprised when Teyla turned, her hair flying back as looked at him worriedly. "Are you all right, Rodney?"
He swallowed convulsively and squeezed his eyes shut in answer. He didn't dare shake his head. He certainly didn't dare open his mouth to speak.
Moments later, the ride slowed, then stopped. Maybe Teyla had flagged down the operator or maybe the ride had just ended, he didn't know and didn't really care as he stumbled off and flung himself at the nearest trashcan, retching up an afternoon's worth of pizza, hot dogs, fries, nachos and cotton candy.
Someone (Teyla, he presumed) patted his back consolingly and placed a cool, wet paper towel on the back of his neck. When he was done — oh god, he hoped he was done — he was steered to a nearby bench, where he sat heavy and slumped and with an arm flung over his eyes.
He didn't stir until he felt someone new sit beside him, and even then he moved his arm only just enough to squint at the world.
"Hey, buddy," Sheppard greeted sympathetically. "Tilt-A-Whirl kicked your ass, huh?"
Rodney groaned and covered his eyes again.
"Hey, c'mon, here," Sheppard said, and a cold cup was pushed into Rodney's hand. "Ginger ale. It'll help settle your stomach."
Privately, Rodney thought his stomach was a lost cause. There was no way he was ever going to make it back to the SGC and he was going to have to live on this bench forever and he should, perhaps, ask Sheppard to just shoot him and put him out of his misery. But it took too much effort to talk, so he sipped the drink instead.
He was starting to feel moderately better — at least his stomach had stopped gurgling and the waves of nausea had diminished — when Ronon found them.
"Ice cream," he said, handing out giant, dripping cones topped with jimmies.
Rodney caught one whiff of chocolate and felt his stomach roil anew.
"No," he said through clenched teeth, pushing the proffered cone away and shrinking back. "No, no, no."
Melting in the summer heat, the brown ice cream dripped a trail down Ronon's knuckles and he sucked it away. He looked at Rodney, bewildered. "What? You said you wanted ice cream after the ride."
Rodney threw his arm back over his eyes and whimpered.
"Rodney is not feeling well," Teyla translated for him.
"Oh," Ronon said. "Okay." Then, after a moment, "So what do I do with this?"
"Take it," Rodney said. "Yours."
"Really?" Ronon said, skeptically but with undertones of eagerness.
"Yes, really. Just eat it — " Rodney waved vaguely in the direction of the kiddie bumper cars. " — over there. Away."
"Cool," Ronon said and slapped Rodney on the shoulder before strolling away.
"Cool," Rodney agreed weakly and took another sip of ginger ale.
"Double fudge with walnuts," Rodney said, dancing a little to dodge a puddle as they trekked back to the stargate. "Real walnuts, not those knockoffs from PX-whatever-the-hell. And oh, god, real double fudge."
"You're drooling, McKay," Ronon said, with a hint of amusement.
"I don't think you understand. Double. Fudge," Rodney emphasized.
"And real walnuts," Sheppard pointed out with a smile. Rodney nodded.
Teyla tossed them a look of polite puzzlement. "Has the mess hall not offered these brownies before?"
"We've had brownies made with powdered carob, powdered eggs, powdered milk and that sugar substitute the military seems hell bent on pawning off on us because no one on earth will eat it, yes," Rodney said with a little shiver of revulsion. "These brownies at dinner tonight? Will unmask those for the frauds they are."
Rodney caught sight of the gate and picked up the pace. They'd spent all day on MX5-546 with the Kalurians, a barely-industrial society that claimed it was mining naquadah. They came, they saw, they said "Yeah, no you aren't." It was a wasted day and Rodney hated wasted days even during the best of times, forget when it dinner was less than an hour away and there were brownies to be had.
"You'll see. You two will love them." Rodney shot Ronon a warning look. "Except you, Conan, better not love them too much. I have dibs on at least —"
The first shot hit Rodney in the arm, the sickening thwack registering just a millisecond before the bite of pain.
"Down! Get down!" Sheppard shouted, hauling him to the ground as Teyla and Ronon hit the dirt. Bullets whizzed overhead.
The next few minutes passed in a blur of noise, pain and movement. When the world slowed, Rodney found himself hunkered down behind some rocks, Teyla and Ronon keeping watch while Sheppard slipped him out of his jacket.
"Whose idea was it to give us bullet proof vests, anyway? Jackets, whole Kevlar jackets, that's what we need." Rodney said. "Or suits. Suits of armor, because, honestly, I'm sick of one of us getting shot every few weeks. Especially when it's my turn."
Rodney hissed as Sheppard pressed a dressing to the wound just above his elbow.
"Sure, suits of armor. Work on that when we get back, will you?" Sheppard wound a length of gauze around the dressing, tying it off tight enough to make Rodney grunt. "Bullet's through and through. You're good. You'll be fine."
Rodney opened his mouth to say something about predictions and tempting fate and Murphy's law, but Ronon saved him from needing to make the point.
"We've got a problem."
The DHD had been damaged in the firefight, small, smoky holes sprinkling the base, exactly where the control crystals were set.
"Fixable?" Sheppard asked.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Yes, because I can see through metal now. And from a hundred yards away, no less."
"I don't know, okay? If the secondary crystals were hit, I could work around them. But if the main control crystal's broken…."
Sheppard gritted his teeth. "Fine. Tell me what to look for, what to do."
Rodney choked on a laugh and moved to get up, tucking his injured arm protectively against his chest. "No. No, Colonel, just… no. It's got to be me."
"You're not going out there." Sheppard grabbed his good arm, stopping him in a crouch. "You're injured. It's too dangerous."
The Kalurians had stopped firing, but they weren't gone. Even Rodney could feel them lurking nearby.
He pulled out of Sheppard's grip but didn't get up. "There are a dozen different ways that DHD could be broken, a hundred. You don't know what to do and I can't explain it to you, not with so many variables. It has to be me."
He glanced up and met Ronon's eyes for the briefest of seconds. Then, before anyone could stop him, he darted for the gate.
In the end, the main control crystal was fine, but two of the four secondary crystals were cracked, splintering with spider-web patterns that even Rodney couldn't fix. He needed two minutes, just 120 seconds, to create a workaround.
The Kalurians weren't willing to give it to him.
Gunfire erupted around him, the pow-pow-pow of this world's single-shot weapons and the rapid pops from the P90s and the blast of Ronon's gun. He ducked, tucked chin to chest, and worked as fast as he could, cursing his wounded arm as he fumbled the crystals and cost himself three seconds — dammit — four seconds.
Then it was done and he was dialing and the wormhole was whooshing toward them like it wanted to join the fight.
"McKay!" Sheppard was running toward him, toward the wormhole, Teyla and Ronon at his back, and Rodney turned to —
The world went dark.
Rodney woke to the smell of chocolate.
And so, for a moment, he was pretty sure he was dead.
"Oh hell. Doc!" Sheppard's voice. "His heart monitor's going crazy."
It took him a few minutes to fully come to, to realize he was in the infirmary. His head ached, his left arm and leg felt heavy with drug-induced numbness. Carson was there, fussing over him, before drifting away and leaving him alone with his team.
"Why," Rodney croaked, mouth dry, "do I smell chocolate?"
Teyla smiled and Ronon chuckled and Sheppard handed him a cup of water with a straw and said, "Yes, we're all fine, thank you for asking."
Rodney raised an eyebrow. They were standing there, upright and breathing and obviously all in one piece, so of course they were fine. Though —
"You're sure?" he asked, wincing at a sharp pain in his arm as he hitched himself to sit upright. "Everyone's… okay?"
"You were the only one injured," Teyla said.
"Yeah, next time you get the gate working, go through it." Sheppard looked at him pointedly. "Don't wait around to be shot in the leg and bash your head against the DHD."
"'Cause next time," Ronon said, lifting a basket from a chair at the end of the bed, "I'm eating these."
The rich scent of fresh, double fudge baked goods wafted toward him. The basket was full of brownies.
Rodney's eyes went wide. "How did you —"
"Ronon. He swiped them from the kitchen," Sheppard said inclining his head toward the Sateden. "Fought off a few dozen marines, a couple dozen scientists." He paused, a grin twitching at his lips. "And Elizabeth."
Ronon set the basket next to his good hand. "They're supposed to taste pretty good," he said. "From what I hear."
Rodney looked at his team, and for the first time in a long time found himself at a loss for words.
He pulled out a still-warm brownie and nudged the basket toward them.