[identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] atlantisbasics
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] texanfan
Title: No More Quasi-Religious Alien Sex Rituals
Author: [livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion
Rating: PG-13 (believe it or not)
Word count: ~3,000
Category: slashy
Spoilers: None.
Summary: John desperately tries to bail himself out of trouble.
A/N: Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] fullygoldy for being willing to beta light-hearted fluff at the last minute. [livejournal.com profile] texanfan's request: "John and Rodney getting into trouble. This can be anything from mildly embarassing to life threatening. I just want to see the trouble twins in action." Sorry, guys, I meant to post this yesterday but I crashed early.

No More Quasi-Religious Alien Sex Rituals
By Icarus

Atlantis was on full alert.

Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay had missed their check-in, causing Elizabeth to fold her arms and frown. The next hour brought Ronon to the gateroom. Teyla was still with the Athosians.

Lorne, anticipating Elizabeth's request, had already assembled a rescue team.

It was a peaceful planet, with lots of useful naquadah and a few tantalizing hints of superior technology. The natives on M37-729 had moved their gate to an underground grotto -- any Wraith dart would fly smack into a wall. McKay had insisted this was just an accidental side effect of the native shamanism. Sheppard said it was a damned good idea and he bet the locals were just disguising clever military tactics with a window dressing of religion.

Their initial reports had come back negative on the technology. McKay had sounded annoyed. "Whoever moved the gate is long gone or else their civilization is extinct," he'd radioed back, "because all that's left, well -- topless natives and grass huts, does that sum it up?"

Sheppard had confirmed, and then sent Ronon back through the gate with geological samples. Atlantis’ geologists were a little worried about the effects of a naquadah gate firing up under a mountain that seemed to be mostly naquadah, and Rodney had insisted he wasn't using the gate again until they returned. "Or else you can come back in a jumper to fetch me – you haven't seen this."

"The light show is pretty spooky," Sheppard had agreed. "It's fine. McKay and I will just... stay for the party." The colonel had a smile in his voice, the smug satisfaction of someone on one of those 'good' missions, where they fed you steak and did nothing worse than make you wear shell necklaces. Lorne suspected the 'topless natives' had something to do with that. "Don't wait up," he'd added.

Now the clock ticked over to twelve hours overdue.

Major Lorne led two full teams of heavily armed Marines, plus Ronon, weapons drawn, down to the gate.

"You are following my orders on this, right?" Lorne asked, squinting at Ronon.

"Sure," Ronon said, with a feral smile that wasn't reassuring.

Lorne half expected to be ambushed the moment they stepped through.

The gate behind them lit the place in a wash of blue-white, and sure enough, arcs of electric current sparked out from the gate to the walls around them. The gate shut off, and they were standing in a quiet underground grotto. Lorne looked around. Moss-covered rocks. Check. Deep pool of emerald green water. Check. A trickle of waterfall. Check. With a sharp wave he signaled the sergeant on point to move out. They had to follow a romantic little meandering trail – (re: "easily defended" and "sitting ducks") – up into a forested region. They didn't meet any natives, or spot any signs of a fight either. Nothing stirred but the occasional fluttering bird. It was just before dawn.

The military team glanced at each other wordlessly, then separated into teams of two, four following the trail single file, one team rustling through the brush on either side of it, looking for traps and ambushes.

"I'll go on ahead," Ronon said, and didn't wait for the okay. Lorne watched him disappear into the forest and sighed. The village was a quarter mile in from the gate.

After an uneventful (if dew-covered) trip, the trail opened up into a clearing, and there it was: a collection of twenty or so grass huts surrounding a trampled, cluttered grassy area next to a wide cistern. The place certainly seemed to be peaceful, with only a blackened circle that looked to be from a recent bonfire. Still, Lorne had encountered this sort of thing before. If the Wraith had swept through the village with culling beams and no ground troops everything down to the food would still be on the table. No one stirred at their approach. They spread out, their weapons shouldered, encircling the village.

"Found them." Ronon's voice came from directly behind Lorne.

Colonel Sheppard was sprawled next to the cistern, his head tipped back in a wooden bucket, one knee up -- and Lorne kinda wished he hadn't brought the female officers, because that bucket was all he was wearing.

Not six feet away was a clearly alive Doctor McKay, wearing nothing but a t-shirt, bright white ass aimed towards them as he -- what was that? Downward facing dog? -- as he retched and threw up on the ground between his hands. Scattered about the two of them, now that the team got a closer look at the clutter, was the remnants of a campsite in the middle of the village green, their tent spread out with no tent poles, gear tossed about. It was a hell of a weird location for a campsite.

Lorne's team straightened, their weapons lowering as they added up the facts and came up with: no immediate danger.

McKay finished throwing up, wiped his mouth and staggered over to the colonel, slumping to his knees. "Wake up... our ride's here." He put his head on Sheppard's chest as if checking for a heartbeat... and then promptly fell asleep, snoring.

Lorne clipped his P-90 onto his vest and crouched down to shake Sheppard's shoulder. "Sir?"

Sheppard stirred and groaned, bumping his head inside the bucket. He lifted his hand in a mystified gesture, hit the bucket, then let it drop. "Dammit, McKay...." he murmured, then passed out.

They managed to get the two of them dressed, packed up the tent, video camera and gear. McKay could walk – if you wanted to call it that – staggering alongside the Lieutenant, although Ronon was forced to carry the Colonel slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The natives still didn't stir, probably sleeping it off, too. McKay threw up once on the way back, hitting the Lieutenant's shoes.

"Huh," McKay said, staring down at their feet in a daze. "Amazing I had anything left." At least he was drunk enough not to complain about the arcing from the gate as it licked the walls.

Lorne decided not to warn Ronon that going through a gate with a hangover would make anyone toss their cookies. He just made sure he went through first.


Elizabeth gave them a bright, unfriendly smile as she shut the briefing room door behind her. It was fifteen hundred hours Atlantis time and the two men had had a couple hours to shower, shave (sketchily in John's case), and put on fresh uniforms. That said, they both slumped like the chairs were all that were holding them up. John's eyes were mere puffy slits, his mouth sulky as he leaned his head on an elbow, while Rodney's wide eyes were more bloodshot than blue, a tense pained frown lining his forehead. John visibly flinched as Elizabeth snapped the drawer shut in her desk.

"So," she said, and smiled again, this time tightly. "I trust you two learned a great deal on your recent adventure?"

"Oh, yeah," John said, licking his lips, looking around at Rodney like he was hoping for a rescue.

Rodney was studying the ceiling as if praying for Asgard technology to beam him somewhere else.

"And I'm sure your men were all very impressed to see their military commander carried back from M37-729."

"It's always good to, ah," John dipped his head, swallowing, "show a human side. Every now and then."

He cringed as if even he didn't buy it. Rodney now looked like he was mentally listing all the places he'd rather be at the moment, a sort of menu for the Asgard beaming technology, and that Siberia was turning up on his list.

"No doubt the two of you conducted yourselves with the utmost propriety, as becoming to the military commander and head science officer of Atlantis," she continued, folding her hands.

"Oh, sure, we got along great with the natives," John said with a lazy smile, looking more relaxed now.

"A good time was had by all and sundry." Rodney backed him up.

"I'm very glad to hear that," she said, smoothly, in that calm confident tone of voice that made foreign dignitaries squirm, get shifty-eyed, and whisper to their aides to check their negotiated deal to see how she'd beaten them. John and Rodney exchanged a glance. "I was concerned that under the circumstances your memories might be faulty." She beamed at them as she turned her laptop around. "But fortunately, Rodney taught one of the natives how to use your video camera."

John's hand dropped away from his chin. "You didn't...."

"I didn't! There's no way those monkeys could learn how to use a sophisticated piece of machinery -- okay, okay, I showed one of them how to point and shoot, but they don't even understand the concept of an 'on' button, I'm certain they couldn't have--"


Both men winced at John's raised voice. Elizabeth took advantage of their distraction to start the video.

The room filled with the sound of bongo drums. A wooden xylophone pattered out a melody to go with the singing voices in a foreign tongue.

In the video, John was shirtless and had his arms up, holding a huge mug of amber liquid, a bonfire licking the dark sky behind him. A shower of sparks went up as two teenagers threw some of that amber liquid on the fire and danced away, laughing, flames roaring higher. One of the native women beside John -- (who was also bare-chested; in the video John watched her breasts bounce with undisguised awe) -- was showing him how to do a local dance. He fumbled through the steps. A voice closer to the camera laughed. John took a deep swig of the amber liquid, some of it running down his face, and tried again.

"Um. This requires some context," John said, head in his hands.

Elizabeth paused the show, raising a questioning eyebrow.

"Look, I know it seems like I'm stupidly and dangerously drinking on duty," he said, scratching his neck, "but it really wasn't optional. You see, we arrived at some kind of summer solstice celebration--" He squinted up at her, eyes bleary and bloodshot. "--where you drink, then 'bless' the land around you, circle the fire twelve times..."

"Thirty," Rodney corrected with a raised finger. "At least."

"...All right, I'm not sure how many times. They stopped me when it was enough."

"Blessed the land?" Elizabeth quoted.

"Yeah. You know. Spill some of the drink as an offering to the gods in the east. Sip. Spill some to the gods of the north. Sip. And so on."

Elizabeth gave him a doubtful tip of her head.

"All the other leaders had to do it," John whined.

Her eyes narrowed.

McKay broke in, sounding frustrated. "We were just trying to get information and, and...."

"...blend in," John added with a boyish nod.

"Right," Rodney agreed. "Look. This wouldn't be the first time some primitive ritual led us straight to a cache of 'holy Ancient weaponry,' ripe for the plucking. Someone had to have moved their gate. And there's no way these people could."

John interrupted, pointing at the frozen image of himself on the screen. "And that, by the way, was the maximum amount of clothes you were allowed."

"I see," Elizabeth said.

She restarted the video.

The video image tumbled about as if someone had dropped the camera. Then the picture returned, jostled about, circling as it swept a crowd of half-naked natives around the fire until their cameraman found John again.

He was spinning like a kid, his arms out. He staggered to a stop, turned, and wrapped his arms around the waist of the nearest girl -- who couldn't have been older than twenty -- picking her up and spinning her around.

"That was the high priestess," John explained, coughing into a fist with a sheepish glance up at Elizabeth, who'd paused the video again. "We were being anointed." He frowned at the video and squirmed. "She looks... a lot younger there."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and restarted the video.

The spinning went on, the camera image coming closer to John's face. He set the girl down gently, eyes on her face and gazing hungrily down her half-naked body. High priestess or no, he looked smitten, to put it mildly. Then golden liquid splashed over his shoulders and the girl jumped backward with a squeak that turned into laughter. John's mouth fell open and he spun around in fury.

"That was me, 'anointing' Sheppard, obviously," Rodney said with a smug smile.

"That was more than you were supposed to use." John shot him a disgruntled look. "A lot more."

The next section featured entirely local people, grinning and goofing off in front of the camera. Their "volunteer cameraman" had apparently taken the opportunity to film all his friends. She fast-forwarded. This section would be interesting to the anthropologists.

John's eyes widened. The camera image had returned to the bonfire and the image of John and Rodney back-lit against the fire. Kissing.

Elizabeth stopped the file and folded her hands, waiting for an explanation.

"Oh," Rodney said in a small voice.

John groaned. "Okay. I know this looks... oh... pretty bad." His voice sounded tight. He took a long breath. "They had this tradition where newcomers had to 'become one with the tribe,' you know what I mean? And while I have nothing against kinky sex orgies per se, um—"

"—After that STD we got from M3X-604?" Rodney interrupted, cringing.

"I appreciate you telling everyone about that, Rodney," John said.

Rodney ignored him. "—Thanks, but no thanks."

"I thought you'd appreciate our restraint." John shrugged. "Besides. It was just a kiss."

She clicked the play button again, one finger tapping her lip.

The camera swung around as it was passed off to another tribesman. They got some close-ups of the fire, then their new cameraman zeroed in on the naked bottom of a native girl who noticed and waved him off. Then it returned to the (apparently) very interesting off-worlders.

John was now kneeling on the ground with Rodney straddling his lap, wearing no pants, just his t-shirt.

Elizabeth stopped the video. Rodney's eyes had gone wide.

"Okay..." John blinked, seeming surprised as he looked around for help. "...maybe a little more than a kiss. But it's not what it looks like." He licked his lips and leaned forward. "See, McKay had this grass skirt thing on and it caught fire...."

"...when we were doing the circles," Rodney added with a circling gesture.

"But by that time everyone else was naked, so, it didn't really matter."

Elizabeth frowned but returned to the video. John and Rodney were still kissing. John ran his hand down Rodney's back.

"We had to be convincing," John said. "I, um, might have told them we were 'life partners' to get out of that whole sex ritual thing."

"Make that STD-ridden sex ritual with people who've no knowledge of basic hygiene," Rodney amended. "They don't even wash their hands after they go to the bathroom."

"Thank you, Rodney." John winced. "We just didn't expect to have to prove it. We figured... private hut at least."

"I should have known that people who shit in a field do everything else out in the open, too."

"I should have known McKay would take advantage." John smirked.


"Um. How much more is there?" John asked nervously.

Elizabeth restarted the video. But here the camera was set down and abandoned, pointed away from the bonfire towards a dimly lit cistern at an odd diagonal. Clearly Rodney was correct in that the locals didn't know about the on/off switch and had just left it running. On fast-forward the cistern simply stayed unchanged for a while ... until two pale figures stumbled into view, one shirtless, the other without pants.

She hit play. And immediately saw more of Rodney than nature intended.

The two men separated and, his legs braced drunkenly, John hauled a tent out of a pack. A rain of powerbars and other gear came with it, showering across the lawn. John overbalanced and landed on his ass.

"I've got it, I've got it," Rodney said, his voice blurred, not moving as he gripped the pack to keep himself upright.

Crawling along the ground, John managed to spread the tent out. Then he stretched out flat on top of it and collapsed.

John in the video said, "I think I'm going to die...."

"That's not a tent yet," Rodney in the video pointed out.

This time John talked right over the recording. "They offered for us to go with them into their 'Lodge House,' and based on the noises coming from there?" John shifted. "Not a good idea. So we said no, and set up our own camp."

John cleared this throat as the screen showed him on his hands and knees, looking for the bag of tent poles. "It's around here somewhere...."

"Kind of set up our own camp," Rodney added delicately.

"We'd been 'anointed' a lot," John admitted.

The Rodney on the screen had decided what they had was good enough after all and curled up to sleep on top of the tent. Then the John on the screen pushed himself upright and stumbled to the cistern. He lifted his foot to step carefully onto the edge – missed it completely – and fell in.

"I, ah, wanted a drink of water." John shut his eyes, not moving a muscle.

Elizabeth observed with a smirk, "You were pretty thirsty." John glared at her.

The John in the video tumbled out of the cistern dripping wet and started pushing down his soaked BDUs. The lighting was dim, but still enough to give a good view and general idea of length, girth, amount of hair.... Then, suddenly, Rodney in the video got up on his hands and knees and scuttled to the edge of the tent. The sound he made sounded like a cat with a hairball.

John pointed at the screen. "And I had to listen to that all night."

Here the recording mercifully ran out.

Elizabeth turned to John and Rodney, smiling now. "Well, gentlemen...."

Rodney had his forehead braced on his hand. John was looking up at the ceiling, his face flushed.

"... I hope you both have learned your lesson?"

John nodded his agreement.

"Never bring a camera," he said without a moment's hesitation. At her stabbing look, he added hastily in a lower voice, as if trying hard to sound sincere, "And, uh, no more quasi-religious alien sex rituals."

"Right." Rodney bobbed his head, obviously very eager to leave. Then he clutched at his head, wincing. John gave him a pitying glance.


"Colonel Sheppard—"

Rodney trailed John through the gateroom after the briefing, apparently incapable of noticing that John was speeding up to avoid him. Unable to shake McKay, and he really should have known better than to even try, John decided to stand his ground – in private – because, given it was Rodney, he'd think nothing of having of this conversation in the Mess. John cut sharply to the left out a balcony door, and shut it with a thought behind Rodney.

"Thank god you remembered what happened back there," Rodney spluttered.

John frowned in confusion.

"I have to admit, I never understood what the whole thing was about. They just kept shoving mugs of alcohol in my hands – not that I had much of an objection, mind you – and, well, after the third or fourth one..." He held his hand up like a balance beam and rocked it, giving a nervous laugh. "...I'm pretty much drawing a blank."

John peered at him. "What makes you think I remember anything?"

Rodney's long eyelashes fluttered as he blinked.

"Rodney. The nice thing about alien societies," John explained in a dry voice, "is that people will believe anything you say about them."

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