Fic: Space Cowboys (PG)
Author: R. Tom Mato
Characters: Mensa!Sheppard, Rod McKay, Mensa!Teyla, Mensa!Ronon
SGA-verse or MENSA-verse: Mensa-verse
Summary: John decides to try a change of style after hearing about Colonel Sheppard, with disastrous results.
Warnings: Hahahahaha. No.
Notes: I found the beginning of this in one of my notebooks and needed a break from my other projects, so I transferred it over to my laptop and just…kept writing. I can never write what I’m supposed to. What the hell.
John tugged at the hem of his t-shirt self-consciously. He was positive that it was the same size as his science shirts but it kept riding up. Were they supposed to do that? He tugged it down again and steeled himself, setting his shoulders--then letting them slump into a practiced slouch. He was cool, he told himself as he walked into the lab; he was cool and calm and smooth.
He came up beside Rod and stuck a hip out, letting his body tilt so the table would catch him. "Hey, McKay, you wan--"
Which is how he found himself on the floor with Rod yelling "oh my God, John!" He blinked, trying to focus. If he closed one eye, he was fine; everything was blurry through the other eye.
"John, John," Rod kept repeating. He was on the floor as well, running his fingers through John's hair (which was actually kind of nice). "Is this hair gel? I mean, can you hear me? John, I swear if you gave yourself a concussion..."
"No, no," John mumbled, closing the blurry eye. "I think I lost a contact lens."
"Yes, because that's what we worry about when you hit your head," Rod groused. "You're not bleeding, but let's get you to Carson anyway."
He sat back and his hands left John's hair (not nice at all), but then he was grabbing John's hands and tugging him to his feet.
"I'm fine, really," John tried to explain, still squinting with his one eye. "I need to find my contact lens."
"I'll look for it later," Rod promised, shifting his fingers from John's hand to his wrist and leading him out of the lab. "Where are your glasses?"
"In my room."
Rod nodded and tapped his radio. "Ronon, would you run by John's room and grab his glasses, please? We'll be in the infirmary." There was a pause. "Possible concussion."
"I do not have a concussion!" John protested, and then tried to lean across Rod to repeat it into the radio. "I do not have a concussion!"
Rod batted him away with his free hand. "Thank you, Ronon," he said, then turned the radio off.
Five minutes later had John sitting on one of the beds in the infirmary, cringing as Carson prodded at the good-sized lump he had acquired on the back of his head. He had his glasses on and the lone contact lens rested in a case next to him. They'd done the light-in-the-eyes bit and whatever else Carson had deemed necessary and while John didn't seem to have a concussion, he was going to have one hell of a headache.
Carson went over to one of the medicine cupboards and came back with a small bottle of regular aspirin. "Take these and if the pain becomes unbearable, get back here and we'll see what we can do."
John nodded and took the pills, sliding off of the bed. Rod and Ronon were standing nearby, watching the whole thing. Rod looked concerned and confused while Ronon just seemed to think it was hilarious once he saw that John was fine. John hurried by them as he left the infirmary, but they followed close behind.
"I don't need babysitters," he complained.
"Why don't you just take the rest of the day off?" Rod offered. "Get some rest and come back tomorrow? Nothing important is going on right now."
Ronon huffed a laugh. "He probably shouldn't be left in his rooms alone. He might slip again."
John spun around and glared, causing a passing scientist to have to change their course quickly to avoid running into him. Rod cringed and Ronon grinned. "I. Am. Fine."
"Your shirt's riding up," Ronon pointed out, nodding toward his waist.
With a frustrated yell, John yanked his shirt down and stomped off to the nearest transporter. He wanted the lab and the quiet and the lack of annoying team members.
"What are you wearing?" Radek asked as soon as he stepped through the doors.
John glowered at him, stalking to his desk in the far corner of the lab. "It's casual day."
"Yes," Radek agreed slowly. "This for you usually means oversized sweatshirts, not a tiny black t-shirt that shows your stomach."
John flushed and tugged the hem down again. "It's not supposed to." He threw himself into his seat and turned away, powering up his laptop. The t-shirt rode up in the back, exposing the area above his hips and the waistband of his underwear. He let out a groan and let his head fall to the desk.
The black t-shirt ended up shoved under his bed, where hopefully the Ancient dust-bunnies would eat it. His contact lens was never recovered, so he had to break out the spare pair. If he went through them as fast as the last pair, Elizabeth wasn't going to let him requisition new ones for months.
Not wearing his glasses was taking some getting used to. The lenses made John blink a lot and he was constantly rubbing the bridge of his nose and behind his ears and he kept trying to push up frames that weren't there. He found that if he left the contacts in too long they made his eyes water and poking himself in the eye to put them in and take them out was getting really annoying.
He wouldn't wear them anymore except that Rod had complimented his eyes the other day while the team was having a movie night (where Rod had gotten that idea, he didn't want to know). Well, what he'd really said was that he hadn't realized John's eyes were more hazel than brown without the glasses in the way, but he'd been looking right at John when he'd said it and he'd been smiling.
John had scratched the "slouchy-cool" after his infirmary visit, but tried to up his pleasantness. He was nicer to everyone, which wasn't as hard with certain people as he'd thought it would be, and learned to feign interest with the natives off world that didn't even have any interesting technology.
Of course, he apparently was too nice to the wrong person and had to be rescued by his team after the village's mayor or chief or whatever he was had accused him of trying to sully his daughter. Ronon had blown up the entire wall of the jail cell with some C-4 and his gun, then all but dragged him back to the Stargate with the natives chasing behind them.
"What did you do!" he shouted as they ran.
"I didn't do anything!" John yelled back. "I was just being nice!"
"Then don't do it again!"
Rod and Teyla were already dialing the 'gate and sending their IDC through, so they didn't even slow down.
He tried not to do it again, he really did. However, it seemed that every mission after that had them either running to the 'gate or needing to be rescued by one of the primary teams. The only reason half of them ended without them being put to death was that they knew these planets and Elizabeth managed to smooth it all over as a mishap in their relationship that would not reoccur.
By the sixth mission they were told that they would be suspended from 'gate travel if they didn't fix whatever it was that was that was causing all these disasters, so Rod had rounded up the team and locked them all in his quarters for a good, long talk.
"Stop staring at me!" John whined, glaring at each of his team members in turn.
"You're the one that's been getting into trouble," Ronon stated.
Rod held up his hands. "Now, hey, we're not trying to lay blame here."
"I'm afraid I have noticed this pattern as well," Teyla spoke up, and John turned to her, betrayed. She frowned at him in apology. "Your behavior has changed in the last two months, and I believe these changes are what are getting us into trouble with the people we visit."
"But I'm not doing anything!" John tried to explain. "I was just being nice."
"I told you to stop that," Ronon scolded, eyes narrowed.
"I'm allowed to be nice!"
Rod sighed. "There has to be something. Okay, on the last planet, it happened at dinner." He got up and went to the small table in his dining area. "You were sitting here--" He pointed and looked at John, who stood and slowly moved over to the seat indicated. "Teyla, you were on the other side here, next to the matriarch, and Ronon, you were next to her."
The three of them were seated at the table, silently watching Rod as he worked out the scenario in his head. After a moment he tapped his radio.
"Radek, this is Rod. Is Allison busy? Either. Simpson, then. Send her to my room immediately, please. Rod out."
John frowned. "What do we need her for?"
"She's going to play the part of the woman you were talking to at dinner," Rod stated.
Simpson arrived a few minutes later, data pad and tools in hand, and looked startled when Rod sat her at the table next to John. The two eyed each other for a moment but didn't say anything.
"Well, come on," Rod prompted, sitting on the other side of John. "Talk."
John turned to glare. "What do you mean, 'talk'? I barely know her!"
"Dr. McKay, what are we doing?" Simpson asked, leaning forward to look around John.
"It's a simulation, please play along," Rod pleaded. "John, just talk to her. About anything."
John gave him an odd look, but turned to Simpson anyway. "All right. What have you been working on in the labs lately?"
The conversation started out stilted, but John soon found himself relaxing as she talked and nodded at the right parts and giving his comments where appropriate. It wasn’t like he was interested in her projects or how she had twice the lab space since Kavanaugh had left, but he was being friendly. People liked to think that you cared. He chatted casually, managing to forget that the other people in the room were staring at him, until Rod pushed his seat back quickly and stood.
"All right, that's enough," he exclaimed, jerking John out of his conversation. "Allison, thank you, you can return to the labs now."
Teyla and Ronon stood as well, though more slowly. Simpson got up from her seat as well and started toward the door, but instead of going out she turned around and looked at John.
"Dr. Sheppard, I'm free Thursday evening if you'd like to…do something," she announced with a sly smile, and then she was gone.
John sat there with his mouth open, then looked up at his team. "What just happened?"
"You honestly have no idea?" Rod asked in disbelief.
“I was being nice,” he replied defensively. “Was it that bad?”
“Yes,” Ronon answered, and Teyla bit her lip and nodded her head.
“It is not so much what you say as the way you say it, John,” she explained. “You…I do not know how to say it properly. You are very charming.”
John straightened a little in his seat. “Charming, really?” he asked, smiling and leaning back. “Thanks, Teyla.”
She broke eye contact with him and he thought she seemed almost shy for a moment. “You’re welcome. I believe I will turn in, it is getting late. Good night.”
They exchanged good nights and Ronon left as well, but John stayed sitting at the table. Rod leaned against the edge of it (damn him and his perfect balance) and waited until the doors slid shut behind Ronon before saying anything.
“You really don’t know how you act, do you?”
The words hang uselessly in the air and John slumps forward in his seat, resting his arms on the table, and shrugs. He stared at Rod expectantly, waiting for the explanation.
“It’s just…you lean, and you smile, and I swear Allison probably thought she was the most special person in the whole room with you looking at her like that.” He frowned, then his eyes widened. “Oh my God, Rodney warned me about this.” John raised an eyebrow, ready to ask just what he was talking about when Rod kept going. “His Sheppard does what you’re doing now, only he does it all the time. Rodney asked me if you were like that and I just laughed. No, not my Sheppard. The only trouble he gets us into is when he can’t keep his mouth shut and insults someone.”
“Hey,” John protested, although even he knew it was true. He certainly wasn’t ashamed of it.
“His Sheppard doesn’t even know when he’s doing it either, that’s just it,” Rod rambled on. “He just talks and the women jump him and the men try to kill him.” He finally looked at John and pointed a finger at him, a stern expression on his face. “You are not allowed near any ascended beings, do you hear me? Ever.”
“All right,” John agreed slowly. It wasn’t like he was itching to jump on that bandwagon anyhow.
“Or anyone with the gene not of this expedition,” Rod added. “We don’t have that planet on our list but seeing how our luck is turning, we’ll probably find it. You are not a studhorse.”
All right, now Rod was just being weird. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?”
“Oh no.” He shook his head. “No, no, no. He gave me a list, said it was inevitable. I thought he was joking at the time, but apparently my double isn’t completely paranoid.”
“There’s a list?” John stood up, sighing. “Okay, this is going too far. I’ll stop, all right?”
Rod gave him a sympathetic look. “You can’t help it, John. I understand. We’ll just have to adjust the team dynamics a little so that someone can keep an eye on you.”
“I can too help it! I’ve been doing this on purpose!” he confessed, waving an arm to encompass all of the crap he put himself through in the last couple of months.
“You just said you didn’t mean for it to happen!” Rod exclaimed.
“Well, not the part where they jump me,” John clarified. “The part where I act like a decent guy. I can stop.” He crossed his arms over his chest, determinedly not sulking. “It wasn’t worth it anyway.”
“What? You can’t just—“ Rod’s hands fluttered in the air before falling to his sides. “—flip a switch.”
He shrugged. “Can too.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“I was trying to be more like Colonel Sheppard,” John bit out, gritting his teeth and rolling his eyes. “You kept going on about how cool he was and how nice he was to everyone; it was getting annoying. I thought it would be useful to see what the big deal was."
Rod was staring at him as though he’d gone insane, which, admittedly, John was pretty sure he had for a bit. “So, you just decided to be nice all of a sudden.”
John shrugged again. “It was part of a five step plan.”
“Plan. The contacts, then?”
“Part of the plan.” He nodded.
“Was that why you wore that black t-shirt—“
“Yeah, we’re not mentioning that ever again,” John ordered.
“You looked good,” Rod stated.
“Ever,” he repeated. He wasn’t going near his clumsy attempts at playing it cool. He had to save some dignity.
Rod frowned a little but let that go. “Fine. Seriously, though, a step plan? Your plans never work. And I can’t believe you would do all this just because I mentioned the differences between you and the Colonel.”
John’s eyes narrowed. They did too work. Occasionally. “It was more than a mention, McKay.”
“Really? I didn’t think I was talking about it that much,” Rod replied, looking thoughtful.
“Every time someone asked you to tell them what happened in the other universe.”
"But I talked about everyone from there. John, you didn’t have to try to change yourself because you felt inadequate; I like you just the way you are,” he said with a smile and John was going to kill him.
“Inadequate?” he asked, voice dangerously low and causing Rod’s smile to falter. “You think I felt inadequate?”
“Er, well, the behavioral differences and the changes in your appearance,” Rod hastened to clarify. “You’ve got gel in your hair!”
“You’ve been a lot mouthier lately,” John shot back. “And Teyla’s been hanging around us more and Ronon hugged me a month and a half ago.”
Rod blinked. “He’s hugged you?”
“After the whole nearly dying because I couldn’t ascend thing.” He nodded. “I thought he was going to have a heart attack.”
"Yeah, it was terrifying."
Rod bit his lip, glancing around the room quickly before looking back at John. "You really don't have to act like him."
He sighed. "I wasn't doing it to please you."
"I didn't think that. Okay, I don't want you to act like him, all right? He was...creepy," Rod said lamely.
John snorted. "You liar, you thought he was the coolest thing ever. SG-1 cool."
Rod got that smile he got whenever Carter was even slightly mentioned, then shrugged. "He was a space cowboy. All of them, like the heroes out of a science fiction novel. You tell me that's not cool."
"Well, if they hadn't ended up waking up the Wraith and all, yeah." John raised his eyebrows meaningfully.
Rod frowned thoughtfully. "Yeah, that's a downer." It was such a Rod-like comment that John *had* to reach over and smack him upside the head. "Ow! Don't hit me!"
"You deserved it," John told him.
Rod rubbed the back of his head, giving an extremely exaggerated wince. "I bet the Colonel doesn't hit Rodney."
"You should tell Ronon that he doesn't have to be so touchy-feely, and let Teyla know that we won’t hate her if she doesn't spend every waking moment with us."
"Is that why she's been asking if I wanted to learn the Athosian bantos fighting?" Rod asked, surprised.
"Ye-ah. I love her, I do, but I don't need to know all her ancient fighting techniques. I've been bruised for weeks between her and Ronon," John groaned. “I’m made for sitting in my awesome lab and doing the occasional off world run that isn’t supposed to include actual running.”
Rod snorted. “You’re such a whiner.” He shook his head and began walking toward the door. “Come on then, let’s set the other two straight. We don’t want your delicate skin to get bruised again.”
John followed, considering it wasn’t exactly his room to stay in in the first place. Then he stopped, turned, and ran back to Rod’s bed and dropped down to his knees to reach under it.
“Hey! I’ve got personal stuff under there!” Rod protested when he saw what John was doing.
“Please, I’ve already seen all of your porn. In fact, I think most of it’s the magazines I gave you,” John shot back, then let out a triumphant ‘ha’ and pulled out the chess set. He got back to his feet and practically bounced back over to Rod. “We can play team chess.”
“They kick our asses every time.”
They left the room and walked down the hall, Rod slinging an arm around John’s shoulders as John clutched the chess set to his chest.
“I think this time we’ll win,” John stated, grinning. “We have my new superpower on our side.”
Rod shook his head. “Flirting is not a superpower. You can’t even control it.”
“I just have to practice at it.” John nodded, already setting up another plan. “We’ll rule the world soon enough, McKay.”