John Sheppard pushed through the batwing doors leading into the local watering hole on this planet. He nearly choked on the smoke, and waved in front of his face as he tried to peer through the foggy atmosphere. He was going to kill Rodney once he found him. They were never supposed to be alone off-world, especially McKay, who attracted trouble like moth to a flame. This was one of Ronon and Teyla's favorite planets to visit, so they felt fairly comfortable showing the rest of the team around. At some point they had lost Rodney in the twists, turns, and crowds of the city streets. Despite his hesitance at splitting up the team, he understood they could cover more ground if they all took one section of the city to search for their wayward teammate. He tried to tell himself that it was his annoyance at Rodney that was burning through his veins and not the unvoiced fear that something bad had happened to the scientist, who had not answered any hail on the radio when they noticed his absence.
Something that John thought might pass for music blasted from one corner of the seedy bar. He looked up to see a four person band, each with an unfamiliar instrument. The quick-paced tune sounded something like a mix of Indian pop and Johnny Cash. He might have appreciated it if it wasn't going to hamper his ability to ask questions. He pushed through the throng of people, feeling both thankful and annoyed that Ronon and Teyla had insisted that the two Earth team members dress to blend in more with the population. If he were in his normal off-world gear, he would have attracted the stares of every patron in the bar, and if someone had abducted McKay, he wasn't sure announcing his presence would help. However he felt naked without his usual compliment of weapons, most specifically the P-90. He still had his nine millimeter strapped to his thigh, because Paranoia was his middle name. Although was it paranoia when something invariably happened every single time you stepped through the gate?
This dive was like any of a million that could be found on Earth: loud music, thick smoke, and several drunken people grabbing at him as he pushed his way to the bar. He was careful not to make eye contact with any of them, because some of the feints towards his sleeves were of a more than friendly nature, and John had never been one to pick up strangers in bars on his home planet, much less even contemplate picking up the Pegasus Clap. The heavy smoke stung his eyes and he had to clear his throat. He really hoped that this wasn't Ronon and Teyla's preferred bar, because if so, he was definitely going to have to give them a talk about acceptable hangout places, and, oh, didn't that sound overly big brotherish of him?
The bartender, a heavy-set, sweaty man, took notice of him and paused in mixing his latest deadly concoction to glance up at the pilot. "What'll it be?"
"What?" John shouted to be heard over the band.
The bartender rolled his eyes, and poured out a copious amount of alcohol before repeating his question. "What do you want?"
"Information," John said, although over the wailing of the singer, it sounded more like he was ordering an apple martini. He grimaced, really hoping some fruity drink didn't get sat down in front of him, because he most certainly couldn't pay for it, and there was no way he was washing dishes when Rodney could be held hostage by space bandits. Of course, even if McKay was wrapped up in blankets back on Atlantis there was no way he was doing dishes.
The bartender made a motion that he couldn't hear him and finished his mixing before going to the far end of the bar to deliver the drink. John briefly considered following him to the other end of the crowded bar, but realized that he probably wouldn't be able to push his way through and reluctantly squashed his impatience down. Thankfully the band finished up their song and the noise level dropped considerably.
The bartender finished his delivery and walked back, absently wiping a glass clean. John tried to ignore the fact that he had just seen someone finish downing the contents of it, and that no water or any cleaning supplies had touched it other than the dirty rag. He definitely was not ordering a drink here, and Ronon and Teyla were most certainly going to find a new watering hole, that is, if this was theirs. He really ought to have asked questions like that.
"Sorry about that," the bartender said dryly, and John briefly wondered if he really cared at all. "What was it you said you wanted?"
"I'm looking for a friend of mine," John said, smiling despite the fact that he was almost choking on the smoke, and that his gut was not churning with worry because it had been daylight when he had last seen Rodney. "Was hoping that you might have seen him."
The bartender gave him a dubious look. "You know how many people been in and out, in addition to the ones that are here now?"
And this was the point where he almost wished they were wearing their normal off-world uniforms, because it would have made it so much easier to describe Rodney physically. Then again, Rodney McKay made an impression wherever he went. The band started up again, thankfully a little softer this time. It vaguely sounded like the Star Wars cantina song, which was strange, but not enough to really grab his attention. "Oh, you'd remember him. About yeigh high, acid tongue, takes great pleasure in insulting anyone who he thinks is dumber than him, which is everyone."
"Oh, him." From the exasperated, almost amused tone, it sounded like he had struck gold. That was, unless he had just stumbled upon McKay's evil Pegasus Galaxy twin. That thought alone was enough to make him suppress a shudder. One was enough.
"Where'd you last see him?" He only felt relieved because he had gotten some information that would get him home sooner. He wasn't worried for one moment.
The bartender smiled at that, a crooked, sardonic smile that chased away any relief that he had felt. It could have been because it revealed that dental hygiene was not one of this planet's chief concerns.
The man simply pointed over John's shoulder, and the colonel craned his neck so he could look in the same direction without giving up his place at the bar. Just in case it was the Evil Pegasus Twin and not Rodney. The band grew louder as they hit the chorus on what was almost unmistakably the Mos Eisley Cantina song, which was really bizarre. But not nearly so much as what he saw next.
An area that had been cleared of tables and chairs made up the bar's tiny dance floor. Through the haze of the smoke, he could make out several people dancing in various stages of inebriation. In the center was his missing teammate, demonstrating to his fellow bar patrons how to do the electric slide.
"What the hell?"
"If he's your friend, I suggest you drag him somewhere to sober him up."
John muttered an absent-minded thanks to the bartender as he slipped away from the bar and started making his way through the crowd. Like all of the dirtiest bars and nightclubs back on Earth, everyone chose that moment to cluster together. Pulling a trick from his college days, he used his shoulder as a wedge and began to thread his way through the crowd. He ignored the dirty looks and angry mutterings directed his way, and focused on his intent: dragging McKay out of here so he could throttle the scientist back in the privacy of Atlantis.
By the time he reached the dance floor, Rodney had transitioned from the electric slide (presumably because line dancing was just not all the rage in Pegasus that it used to be) to something that could have been a very drunken two-step. He was much closer to the band—and how could they possibly be playing that song—so once again he was forced to shout to even hear his own voice.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Rodney apparently didn't hear him, because he chose that moment to try and twirl his dance partner, who could have played for the Dallas Cowboys. Seeing as she (Sheppard was hoping that it was a she, because that was one more thing he just didn't want to know) was about a foot taller than McKay. She herself was in a similar state of drunkenness so she really couldn't bend down enough to duck under Rodney's arm. Somehow instead McKay got swung in an elliptical around the massive woman, and John had to jump back to keep from getting an armful of scientist. Both he and the woman almost collapsed into a fit of giggles on the spot.
Dear lord. McKay was drunk. Or high. Or some similar state of altered perception. He had to be in some way under the influence because that action would have normally resulted in a hysterical rant. He honestly wasn't sure what to make of the situation, but the worry that he most certainly had not been feeling earlier was quickly turning to annoyance, almost bordering on anger.
Rodney did hear him that time, and his face practically lit up upon seeing John. "Major!"
"Colonel," he corrected, annoyed. He'd had his promotion for almost eight months now.
"Whatever," McKay waved his hand off, as if the rank didn't really matter, "good of you to make it!"
"You know we've been tearing this city apart looking for you? We thought you'd been kidnapped! And now I find you, higher than a kite, and—why the hell are they playing the Star Wars cantina song?"
"I taught it to them!"
"You," he sputtered, "how did you—never mind."
"Where's Ronon and Teyla?"
"Looking for you!"
"Really?" McKay's brow scrunched up in confusion. "Why?"
"Because—because you disappeared on us, you moron!"
"Well that wasn't my fault," Rodney let his partner dip him, because they hadn't stopped dancing for the entire conversation. John had been shuffling along the dance floor to keep up with them.
"It wasn't, was it?"
"Hold on," McKay said, turning to his dance partner, "song's ending, remember, big finish!"
And John was forced to watch as an alien woman hoisted his teammate up from under his shoulders and swung him around in the air. John ducked just before the booted feet clobbered him. The band's music faded out, leaving a slight ringing in his ears. He quickly popped them before he turned his attention back to Rodney—
—who had once again disappeared.
He scanned the bar, and found the scientist had almost made his way off the dance floor. He didn't bother caring as he shoved people out of his way, determined to grab the frustrating man by the collar and forcibly drag him out of this place.
"McKay, get your ass back here!"
He caught up with them at the edge of the dance floor, and managed to grab a hold of the slippery leather jacket that the two Pegasus natives on their team had insisted they wear. He was really wishing for their standard-issue uniforms again, because it was much easier to steer McKay around by cotton or tac-vest. "Rodney!"
"Oh, Colonel," McKay drawled, "there you are."
"You left me, remember?"
"I did?" Rodney looked up as if the ceiling could answer the rhetorical question. He quickly waved his arm, which broke Sheppard's grip on the leather. "Sorry about that."
"But I'm glad you're here!"
John resisted the urge to sigh and instead he plastered on his most insincere grin; the one, had McKay been sober, would have indicated how close he was to his breaking point. "What are you doing?"
"I forgot." McKay grabbed a hold of the woman who had been swinging him around like a sack of potatoes on the dance floor. "I'd like you to meet someone."
For one awful moment, John feared that he had been too late, and that somehow between the last point he had seen Rodney and now that the scientist had somehow managed to get engaged. Shotgun weddings by pissed off Pegasus Dallas Cowboy football brothers of the woman entered his mind, and he tried to calculate exactly how he could extricate both he and McKay if it came down to him and the entire defensive line-up from the 1975 season.
"Colonel, this is Hel'ga!" Rodney grinned stupidly at the linebacker of a dance partner he had acquired. He leaned over to whisper conspiratorially in John's ear. "And she's got a sister!"
Hel'ga moved aside just enough so Sheppard could see an even heavier-set woman with a gap-toothed smile wave at him. He tried his best not to stagger back in horror. Mistaking Sheppard's shock for an inability to stay upright, Rodney grabbed him by the shoulders to "steady" him.
"I think you've had too much, Colonel."
"I'm not drunk, Rodney."
"The first step is admitting you have a problem."
"Rodney, I haven't had anything to drink."
"Oh, then you're really a lightweight." McKay waved a finger at him, which wound up distracting him enough so his gaze just followed the finger. "Heh, it moves."
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm flying!"
"I can see that."
"We need to get you a drink," Rodney paused, and frowned. "No wait, we need to get you water."
He rolled his eyes heavenward, asking ascended beings and God alike to grant him patience. It would just figure that Rodney was a happy drunk. "Say goodbye to Hel'ga, Rodney. It's time for us to leave."
Hel'ga's lip protruded into a pout, and McKay looked as if he was having a hard time understanding what Sheppard had just told him. "What?"
"I said we're leaving."
"No!" Hel'ga cried, grabbing one of McKay's free arms. "He promised!"
Rodney leaned in again to whisper in John's ear. "I may have told her I was the world's greatest lover... and a dancing machine."
Sheppard recoiled from the mental images conjured up by that statement, or any promise that could be offered with that explanation. Pushing down his rising nausea, he grabbed Rodney's free arm. "Sorry, Hel'ga, but McKay has other plans."
She narrowed her gaze at him, and he suddenly realized exactly what he had said.
"No, no, I didn't mean it like that—"
"Well then he stays." She tugged Rodney closer to her.
"In a strictly platonic way, I'm going to have to disagree." He frowned and tugged back, ignoring McKay's yelp. The man was probably so numb he wouldn't feel an anvil land on his head, but it was nice to know beneath the happy drunken exterior he was still the same cry baby underneath it all.
He was so intent on his impromptu game of tug-of-war, John didn't notice that another individual, someone who rivaled Ronon's height and outweighed the Runner by at least thirty pounds had appeared behind Hel'ga.
"Are you messing with my woman?"
John frowned. Did she just call him Bubba?
"We was just talking, Bu'bahd!"
Bu'bahd ignored her and glared at McKay. "I asked you a question, shrimp!"
John gave the arm he had latched onto a good tug and Hel'ga finally released the scientist. John quickly maneuvered himself between Rodney and the giant towering above them both. "You'll have to forgive McKay, he's not himself right now."
"And who are you?"
John straightened his spine and rose to his full height, which didn't drastically reduce the disparate height difference. "His friend."
"Well, your friend should learn to keep his paws off my woman!"
"My hands happen to be VERY hand-like," Rodney sniffed indignantly.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Sheppard muttered to the man who was currently trying to get out from behind his human-shield and take on someone two times his size.
"That I don't have paws!"
John blinked before returning his attention back to the more important matter of not getting stomped into the floor, especially since Rodney's drunken logic didn't make a lick of sense. "He's very sorry."
"I am no—ow!"
Sheppard gave the giant man a placating smile while he continued to twist Rodney's ear. "He's really sorry and promises it won't happen again."
Bu'bahd grunted but took Hel'ga by the arm and dragged her back towards the bar. John valiantly ignored the doe eyes that Hel'ga's sister was trying to pin him with as he dragged Rodney, by the ear since it seemed to work pretty well, to an empty table. He shoved the scientist down onto a chair before taking a seat himself. He ordered a water but it would be for McKay since there was no way John was going to drink anything served in one of those glasses the bartender was "cleaning" earlier. Hopefully the water would help sober up the man enough that Rodney would be able to give some semblance of an explanation as to why he was in this dive, dancing with Hel'ga.
"You know, Rodney, this may come as a big surprise, but when we gated here it wasn't with the intention of having Spring Break."
McKay's eyes drifted after the waitress who had taken their order, and Sheppard had to snap his fingers in the other man's face to grab his attention again. "Hey, remember me? The guy who just saved you from having your ass handed to you in a sling?"
"I could've taken him." Rodney crossed his arms petulantly.
"Um, no, you couldn't have." John leaned forward, setting his elbows on the table. "Your and Hel'ga's love was never meant to be, as sad as it is."
"She was a ballerina," Rodney said wistfully.
"Sure." He wasn't even going to try and figure out that one. "You feel like telling me what happened?"
"You and Hel'ga were having this somewhat disturbing fight over my virtue—"
"Maybe a tiny explanation of why you're here, or what the hell you drank?"
"Oh, that's a boring story."
"Trust me, Rodney, I'm fascinated already."
"Oh, well if you must know," Rodney frowned as the dirty glass of water was set in front of him, "I was keeping up with you just fine, and then we entered the marketplace—"
Ah yes, the marketplace. It was such a long time ago. Then again, it seemed like hours since he had entered this dive instead of just a few minutes. "Go on."
"Well, you know how crowded it was there. Somehow I got separated. I got free of the crowd, who were very pushy, by the by, and was going to tell you as such when I was surrounded by this gang of space bikers."
John blinked. "Space bikers."
"Well, they wore leather."
"Rodney, everyone on this planet is wearing leather, including us. Hell, even Hel'ga was wearing leather pants." He managed to contain a shudder at that, but just barely.
"I thought you wanted to hear what happened."
"Sorry... so space bikers?"
"Yes, seems that they thought my frantic fight against the shopping mob for control was hilarious, and wanted to get to know me better."
"I told them I had better things to do, but they took my radio thinking it was, well you probably don't want to know what they thought it was. When I demanded they give it back they were rather insistent that I have a couple of rounds with them."
"Did they now?"
"Yeah, we had a couple of shots of something called a Spotted Presticle—"
"That sounds disgusting."
"Oh, and it tasted that way too. They actually physically forced me to drink the first four. But you know, after about six or seven, they start to taste like Purple Nurples."
Okay, so the first order of business was to sober up McKay and take him back to Atlantis. The second was for Sheppard to return and track down these "bikers" for a chat. "So you had six or seven?"
"Oh no," McKay giggled and John tried not to wince at the unnatural sound. "I think I'm like at fifteen or—well, I lost track at that point."
"Oh, it's okay! I feel great! I think it's due to the special ingredient."
"What is it? Crack?"
Okay, so waiting to sober up was not an option. He quickly rose and grabbed Rodney by the elbow. "That's it. We're taking you home."
"You know, just because I see two of you doesn't mean you have to refer to yourself in plural."
"We included yourself in there, genius."
"Hee! I am one!"
John exhaled deeply as he propelled Rodney towards the direction of the door. He'd get Beckett to run a tox screen, make sure the scientist didn't have alcohol poisoning, and then he'd return to kick some biker ass. Rodney leaned out of his grasp and plucked a shot off of the tray one of the waitresses was carrying and downed it without a second thought.
"They're really good once you get past the horrid burning sensation and the mild aftertaste of pickles! You should try one!
The waitress just stared at them blankly, and John found himself apologizing on McKay's behalf for the second time that night. Unfortunately the two second lapse in his attention gave the inebriated scientist a chance to slip away again. He growled and searched the crowd. He found him making his way back towards the band. As he once again pushed through the throng of people that separated him from McKay, he saw his friend grab another drink out of someone's hand. If John didn't get him out of here within the next few minutes he could see this night ending very badly. Before Rodney could chug down the drink, John had caught up to him and stilled the wrist mid-shot. He grabbed the glass out of McKay's hand and handed it back to the annoyed bar patron.
"He's really sorry."
"I was going to drink that!"
"You've had more than enough, Rodney." John used both hands to wrangle the drunken astrophysicist this time, one on the collar of McKay's jacket, the other fisted in his shoulder. "Do you even know how much alcohol you've consumed in the past three hours?"
Carson was going to kill him. No, no, he'd fret and worry over poor widdle Rodney and his alcohol poisoning, at the same time fixing John with the dreaded Scottish doctor glare that somehow placed all the blame on him. "I'm going to need to get a leash for you. That's three times today you've run off on me!"
"You already tried," Rodney waved his free arm in the air, "but Ronon just wound up using me as a grappling hook to take out the bad guys."
"That was an accident, and I would be the one holding the leash this time."
"I don't want a leash."
"Then stop disappearing!"
"I was kidnapped!"
"By space bikers," John rolled his eyes as they approached the bar, and just beyond, he could see the door to freedom and fresh air, "who I notice aren't around anymore."
"They had dates." Rodney look offended, as apparently forcing drinks down one's throat was a male bonding experience like no other. "They were the ones who introduced me to Hel'ga."
"Of course they did." Trying to get rid of the evidence. Yeah, he'd definitely be returning to find these guys. That was, after he got McKay back to Atlantis. "Why don't we just go find Ronon and Teyla, huh?"
"Wait, where'd they go?"
"Once again, looking for you."
"Yes," John ground his teeth together.
"Colonel," Rodney said gravely, pulling out of Sheppard's grip so he could face the pilot.
"What?" He tried to not sound like he wanted to dunk McKay's head in the nearest well.
"You're my bescht friend," McKay slurred as he tried to grab Sheppard for a man-hug.
John deftly avoided the contact, something he probably shouldn't have done in retrospect, because Rodney wound up staggering into the bar, and into the behemoth from earlier.
"Oh, hi," he grinned at the irate man drunkenly. "I think I mischtepped."
A low growl emanated from the hulk of a man, and before Sheppard could intervene, Rodney found himself flat on the floor holding his jaw. He stared at the man incredulously. "You hit me!"
Bu'bahd just rumbled low in his throat. "You're dead, little man!"
"Hey!" Once again, against his better judgment, John stepped between the oblivious McKay and danger. "That was all my fault—"
He didn't even see the fist, just the stars that danced across his vision. Something squirmed under him and he rolled off of Rodney, unconsciously echoing the scientist's actions from a few moments ago.
Rodney just shook his head sadly. "He has anger management problemsh."
John yanked the scientist out of the way just before a large boot smashed down where Rodney's head had just been. Despite the ringing in his ears, he hauled Rodney and himself up to their feet, keeping a wary eye on Bu'bahd. The man resembled a bull, nostrils flaring as he exhaled an enraged breath. This time he saw the fist rear back, and yanked Rodney down, ducking himself and letting the blow sail harmlessly over their heads.
"Rodney, it's time to go!"
"But I wanted to sing Chumbawumba with the band!"
Another large man, someone he could only assume to be Bu'bahd's friend, joined the fray. John shoved McKay out of the way, putting him into the path of an oncoming fist. The punch clipped his jaw, sending him spinning into the bar. He caught himself on the hard wood and tried to ignore that one of his hands had landed in a sticky puddle of spilled drink.
"This is no time for karaoke!" He shouted as he looked up. All he could see was a growing crowd of Bu'bahd's friends, and other bar patrons backing away from the escalating bar fight. Rodney had disappeared once again. "God damn it, McKay!"
Bu'bahd sounded a battle cry. John dodged out of the way like a bull fighter waving his cape and the large man plowed into the bar. John quickly jogged back as the first of Bu'bahd's friends made a grab for him, tripping the man instead. He danced away several steps, keeping an eye on his opponents. They studied him, waiting for the next move. He may have been the only sober participant in the fight, but he was vastly outnumbered. If he could just manage to hold them off, he might be able to contact Ronon or Teyla on the radio and—
"Hey! Colonel! Colonel! Look!"
Sheppard whirled around to see what Rodney was trying to warn him about, and froze. The scientist was up on the bar and—
"Is that a lamp shade on your head? Where the hell did you find that?!"
"It's a hat!"
"Rodney! Get down!"
"I can't see you!" Rodney tipped the lamp shade up to peer at him, and flung out a drunken finger. "Oh, you better watch out!"
Sheppard turned just in time to see a fist rocket towards his face right before the whole world went black.
* * * * *
With a loud splash, John was brought back into the world of the living. He groaned loudly, feeling as if his face had just come out on the losing end in a grudge match. Oh, wait, it had. Gingerly he opened his eyes to see a blurry, muddy street. The sound of raucous laughter and off-key music drifted from behind him. He propped himself up on an elbow to take a better survey of his surroundings. He was definitely on the street outside of the bar where he had found McKay—
He quickly looked around and spotted the scientist in an unconscious heap next to him. Whether he had leapt into the fray at some point or just finally passed out from the copious amounts of alcohol, John wasn't sure. Satisfied that Rodney was alive and present, he looked up to see the bartender from earlier holding an empty water bucket. He regarded the two Earth men in the same bored manner that he had addressed John at the bar.
"I told you to grab your friend, but did you listen?"
"I was trying to," John defended lamely. "The drunken hillbillies just got in the way."
"No one ever listens to Jamos," the bartender muttered to himself, tossing the bucket away in disgust and heading back inside.
John finished pushing himself into a sitting position, trying to will the world to stop spinning. He pressed his palms against his forehead, waiting for the pounding to cease. A small noise escaped the man beside him. He flicked an annoyed glance in the scientist's direction. "Rodney, you with me?"
McKay snuffled, snorted, and rolled over.
His only response was a soft snore. Apparently it was the alcohol that had finally done him in. He knew he should've been glad that McKay hadn't been injured during the fight, but as his head pounded viciously, he realized he wasn't in the mood to be charitable. The childish urge to hold the other man's nose shut washed over him, but he resisted it and instead lightly nudged the slumbering scientist with his boot. "What am I going to do with you?"
Rodney just snorted and flung an arm out as he rolled in the mud.
"Your being unconscious makes any cracks about wallowing in the mud less fun, just so you know. I'm not getting soft, it's just that you wouldn't remember in the morning."
Still no response so John resigned himself to the one-sided conversation. Remembering his radio, he tapped it.
"Ronon, Teyla? I found him."
All he got was static. Annoyed he pulled the device away from his ear to see that it was soaked. Damn, he was going to have to get McKay to waterproof the things when they got back. Feeling less charitable, this time John gave the scientist's shoulder a harder shove. "Wakey wakey, Rodney."
The snores just got louder.
"You know, I'm very tempted to just leave you here and come get you in the morning."
Okay, so he was lying, but still, the temptation was there. John certainly wasn't relishing the prospect of dragging him to the gate. He tried the radio once again, with the hopes of pushing scientist-carting duty onto Ronon, but it just fizzled and crackled in his ear. With a groan, he pushed himself to his knees, feeling the world spin and tilt a little. Once it settled back into place, he glared at the slumbering physicist.
"Why is it never easy with you?"
Rodney had no answer for that as he snorted and rolled over instead, covering his face with mud. John held his head for a moment, feeling a headache coming on that he knew for certain had nothing to do with the bar fight. Moment of self-pity over, he reached over and pulled Rodney's face out of the muck, so he wouldn't add "McKay drowning in mud" to his list of the night's follies.
"You owe me. Big time."
Rodney just snorted mud out of his nose, making John grimace.
"You know, this never happened to Kirk."
With that he grabbed one of the limp arms and draped it over his shoulder, because there was no way he was going to be able to get the heavy man to the gate in a fireman's carry. Feeling his back and legs scream at him, he slowly stood the two of them up, almost staggering under the extra weight. "And I'm putting you on a diet."
Rodney snuffled and buried his head into John's shoulder. The pilot screwed his eyes shut and softly muttered his own version of the Serenity prayer, most of which could not be recited in polite company. "Someone in a higher plane of existence grant me the patience not to fling him off a bridge on the way home..."
On the bright side, nothing worse could happen tonight.
* * * * *
Ronon and Teyla watched with a small amount of trepidation as their two missing teammates emerged from the Stargate. Behind them Weir let out a startled gasp. A startled noise came from Teyla, while Ronon seemed to have a hard time trying to decide whether he wanted to laugh, smirk, or stun the two men in front of them for working everyone up into such a frenzy.
The mud-encased glare that was directed his way settled it, and he couldn't help but chuckle.
"I guess you found him," Ronon rumbled.
Sheppard was covered head-to-toe in mud, and was supporting the weight of a loudly snoring, soaking wet astrophysicist. He indicated McKay with a tip of his head, all the while glowering at every occupant of the Gateroom. "A little help here?"
Ronon took pity on the man and took the soggy scientist off his hands. Weir approached the colonel cautiously, trying not to smirk at the muddy appearance or the thundercloud practically hovering over his head. "What happened, John? Teyla and Ronon said you were out of radio contact."
"I'm taking a shower," he muttered darkly and started to half-limp out of the gateroom.
"John?" Elizabeth asked, now a trifle concerned.
He paused in his retreat, shoulders hunched up. After a long moment of silence, he finally answered, voice filled with disgust, rage, and a touch of embarrassment. "Space bikers."
Words seemed to escape John Sheppard as he tried to describe his utter contempt and instead he just scraped some mud off of his face and flung it on the floor. Teyla and Elizabeth exchanged concerned glances. On Ronon's shoulder, McKay made nonsense noises in his alcohol-induced sleep. The sound from the scientist seemed to make Sheppard pause, as if reminding him of something. The hunched shoulders slumped and he made a half-motion to Ronon, his tone defeated. "To the infirmary."
As he resumed his limping, Elizabeth raised her voice to ask again. "What happened?"
"Space bikers, Elizabeth," Sheppard spat as he disappeared into the hallway. "Freaking space bikers!"