Summary: Rodney's not quite himself, after an ordinary trip to an alien planet.
Notes: For ami_ven
"What happened?" Elizabeth asked, leaning over the balcony as the Gate shut off behind them. Although they'd all returned in one piece and with no injuries, they weren't due back for another four hours.
John stopped to look up at her, but only got as far as "Well..." before Rodney broke in.
"Great!" He bounced a little by John's side. "They were lovely people. Lovely, lovely people. And lovely food."
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow as she looked over the rest of the team, whose expressions were better described as long-suffering. The two hour walk back to the gate had felt even longer than the walk to the settlement had been. "I'm looking forward to hearing all about it."
When she turned away, Rodney led the way out of the Gate Room. He was skipping. "Isn't it great to be back?" He looked over his shoulder to grin at John, Teyla and Ronon, who were following at a more sedate pace. "I mean Lorakia was great too, but there's nowhere quite like Atlantis. Of, course I don't need to click my heels three times..."
John tuned Rodney's rambling out as he exchanged a glance with Ronon, then shook his head to tell Ronon that no, he wasn't allowed to knock Rodney out. Not that he could blame Ronon - John wanted to himself and he was fonder of Rodney than Ronon was.
"I'm sure Dr. Zelenka will be pleased to see you," Teyla said, cutting into Rodney's speech, as Ronon sighed.
"You're right." Rodney grinned at her. "He'll have missed me. He's always so pleased to see me when I get back. I should go to him." He stripped off his gear and left it all in a pile before heading for the door.
John was tempted to let it go, just to have Rodney out of their hair, but if he did it once then Rodney would never let him forget it. Besides, now was a good time to give him orders. "Hey, McKay. Put your gear away. Then go see Dr. Beckett."
Rodney returned and picked it all up. "So glad you reminded me, Colonel. I'm so lucky to have you." He smiled, clapped John on the shoulder and was gone.
John tried not to shiver. "This is too weird."
"So you're telling me that Rodney's happy?" Elizabeth leaned back against her desk, looking at John as if he'd just told her... well, that Rodney wasn't complaining about anything. John couldn't blame her. Even for the Pegasus galaxy,
this was strange.
He shrugged. "More like drugged up." Not drunk precisely, because John had seem him drunk. It consisted largely of Rodney passing out.
Elizabeth folded her arms. "What exactly happened on Lorakia?"
"Rodney ate something he shouldn't," John summarized.
She looked towards Teyla, who expanded upon the story. "It is a local delicacy called a Mida fruit. It is very rare and is displayed in the homes of those who can afford it. After we shared their midday meal, our host, Venir, showed it to us, explaining how they use it after a culling. Rodney ate a piece, thinking Venir was offering it to him to try."
Elizabeth winced. John didn't think that even her diplomatic skills would be enough to convince the Lorakians they were trustworthy enough to trade with after that.
"It was a misunderstanding," John said. Okay, so Rodney had been too busy complaining about the walk to pay attention, but John still felt the need to defend him. Although Elizabeth had to know what he was like by now.
Elizabeth shook her head. "Did the Lorakians explain the effects?"
Teyla nodded. "The person who eats it enjoys a day of happiness. Nothing can trouble them."
"Fortunately, a Lorakian day is only sixteen hours long." John checked his watch and sighed. "Two down, fourteen to go."
Elizabeth smiled slightly. "It can't be that bad, surely."
"He doesn't appear to be suffering any ill-effects," Carson concluded, looking at the results of Rodney's scan. "If he was going to have a reaction, he'd have had it by now."
"Can't you do anything?" John asked desperately. He was too worried about what Rodney might do to leave him alone for too long, but there was only so much of him like this John could take.
"You're just going to have to wait for it to wear off, I'm afraid." Carson sounded far too happy about the situation for John's liking.
Rodney bounded off the bed. "Carson, you're such a great doctor. And such a great friend. Have I ever told you how much I like you?" He hugged Carson, who sighed and patted Rodney on the back.
"Yes, when you came in." He tried to pull away, but Rodney held him tighter.
John took pity on Carson. "Come on, Rodney, let's leave Dr. Beckett to his important medical work."
"Of course, of course. Don't let me get in your way." Despite that, Rodney didn't let go until John pulled on one of his arms. Carson looked relieved as Rodney detached himself, but it seemed like Rodney was in the mood to hug people and just flung his arms around John instead.
Rodney nuzzled his neck and John's heartbeat sped up, although not for the usual reasons. Fortunately, Carson was quick to get away, before Rodney could turn on him again. Maybe John would be able to take advantage of Rodney's affability later, when they were alone. For now, he attempted to wriggle free, saying, "Let's not keep Zelenka waiting."
"Radek!" Rodney looked up and grinned. "Let's go find Radek!"
John would be jealous if he wasn't so glad that Rodney had let go of him.
"Look, Rodney, I brought you snacks!" John didn't know why he was being so cheerful. He could insult Rodney as much as he liked and Rodney didn't care. As could Ronon and Teyla - it had been a very long walk to the gate. Of course, it would be easier if there was something specific John wanted to insult him about, aside from this insufferable optimism.
"Oh, thank God." Zelenka met him at the door, closely followed by Rodney. Everyone else in the room was typing on their laptops, pretending to be busy. "Colonel, I think Rodney should do his work somewhere else. Anywhere else." He waved his arms in frustration.
John checked his watch, just getting the chance to see the time before Rodney all but pushed Zelenka out of the way to grab a packet of sandwiches. "It's only been half an hour."
"Yes, and that was twenty nine minutes too many." Zelenka tapped on his tablet a little harder than necessary.
John sighed. No one seemed to want to spend much time in Rodney's company, not that he blamed them. After all, that was the reason he'd left Rodney in the lab and offered to bring him food. And then not rushed back.
"I do not want Rodney telling me how brilliant I am and how much of a good friend he thinks I am." Zelenka glared at Rodney, who smiled back round a mouthful of food.
"He's easy to convince. Look." John turned to Rodney, who was already most of the way through one of the sandwiches, his speed suggesting he'd been starved for days. "This lab is dark and crowded. Why don't you work somewhere with a view? It'll be so much nicer." And most importantly, Rodney would be by himself, with no one else to annoy.
"You're right!" Rodney perked up at that. If it was possible for him to get any perkier. "That is a fantastic idea. I think it might be your best idea yet." He stuffed the rest of his sandwich in his mouth while he collected a laptop and a tablet. Zelenka didn't look any happier, but at least he went back to work. Maybe John should find Rodney somewhere without network access.
'Dr McKay's fallen in the ocean' was not something John ever expected nor wanted to hear. He'd only left him alone for ten minutes, thinking he couldn't get in too much trouble at the end of a deserted pier. He should know Rodney better than that by now.
He sprinted down to the end of the East pier to find Rodney thrashing around nearby and his panic abated somewhat. At least he wasn't drowning, although John didn't want to think about what had happened to his computers, given that they were nowhere in sight. "What are you doing?"
Rodney stopped to tread water, looking up at John while his hair dripped down his face. "Just having a dip. We've got all this water and we never go swimming."
"Because we're in the middle of the ocean. You don't know what the currents are like. You could get washed away from Atlantis." As John frantically looked around, worrying that that very thing might happen, he discovered there were no life rings around. Probably because most people didn't use the pier for a diving board. He hoped the rescue team was close. Rodney didn't deserve to die, especially not from his own stupidity.
"I'll be fine," Rodney said, waving a hand as a wave washed over him. He spluttered and began a lazy breaststroke towards the pier. "Why don't you come on in? The water's lovely."
John shook his head. "No, thanks, I don't fancy a swim today. Why don't you come out?"
And then, of course, Rodney was cheerfully pulled away from the pier by a wave, and John had to jump in and save him.
"You are crazy, you know that?" John said from the warmth of his quarters as he rubbed his hair with a towel. "You are staying in here until you're back to normal again."
"I am normal," Rodney complained, from his position at John's feet, sprawled out on his back. "But your floor is so comfortable."
"And as freezing as the sea." More so for Rodney, as he'd refused to dress after their shower. That was just one of the reasons John wasn't going to allow him out of the room until the effects of Mida fruit had worn off. "You're high, Rodney."
"No, I'm low." Rodney laughed as if that joke was the funniest thing he'd ever heard.
John shook his head and sat on the floor, draping the towel over Rodney. "That wasn't funny."
"Yes, it was." But Rodney stopped laughing and turned on his side, gazing at John.
The towel fell to the floor and John considered picking it up just to get away from that unnerving stare. "What are you looking at?"
"You. You look after me." Rodney patted John's leg.
John shrugged. "Someone has to."
"You're my best friend." Rodney grinned at him.
John wasn't good at this sort of thing, but then neither was Rodney, usually. He hoped Rodney wouldn't remember what he'd said to everyone afterward; he'd be too embarrassed to leave John's quarters. "I guess you're mine too."
"Good." Rodney shifted closer to lay his head on John's leg. "I love you."
John stiffened. "You haven't told anyone else that, have you?" They were trying to keep their relationship a secret - as far as anyone knew they were just friends. Well, apart from Teyla. John was terrible at keeping anything from her. But Rodney didn't seem to have a filter on his mouth today.
"No, only you." He shook his head. "I only love you."
That wasn't what John meant, but he went with it anyway. "I love you too." He put a hand down to Rodney's shoulder.
Rodney wriggled, but stayed silent.
His only answer was a snore.
John sighed. His leg was going to end up stiff after being used for a pillow, but at least he'd get a bit of peace. Finally.