“Holy shit, McKay, if I’d remembered you were a bed wetter I’d have pushed the issue about sleeping with Teyla.”
Teyla cracked her eyes from where she was burrowed under the covers beside Ronon to see John standing and tugging at the wet leg of his pants.
“It’s not me, you idiot, it’s from the opening. It’s raining and leaking in. One of the blankets must have blown out. And you are never speaking to my sister again, by the way.”
Ronon stood then to look out the window and Teyla instantly missed the warmth. If it was raining, it must have been just above the freezing temperature outside because she could see her breath when she exhaled.
“It’s not rain; it’s snow,” Ronon corrected. “It’s melting in the trees above us.”
Teyla joined the others as they moved to see the coating of white on the ground outside. The moose were back, snuffling under the snow to find the vegetation hidden beneath. Then something caught her eye and she grinned.
“I do not think the blanket blew away.”
One of the animals was tugging at the grey coverlet and another came and tried to pull it away.
“You think it stole it?” Ronon seemed genuinely excited about the prospect and moved to the back of the Jumper to peek out and see if there were any more creatures back there. Evidently there were because the large man grinned and demanded, “Somebody give me a powerbar.”
“What?” Rodney protested. “You aren’t feeding our food supply to an alien moose.”
“It’s one powerbar, McKay. You can take it out of my share.”
“We don’t have shares,” Rodney contradicted Ronon’s suggestion. “It’s a communal collective sort of setup we have going here. All assets, including food, should be treated as joint property by all members of said collective trapped here in the Jumper.”
“So, technically, when I ran down the battery on the computer, it was as much my right to do it as it was yours?”
John’s smirk was met with a condescending shake of McKay’s head. “There are obviously exceptions to the communal rule.”
Rodney found himself pushed up against the bulkhead with Ronon’s fists tightly gripping his shirt and a menacing snarl in his face. “How’s this for an exception? Give me a powerbar or I bust out your teeth so you won’t have any way to chew one yourself.”
Teyla rolled her eyes. Men. What was worse, it was these three men in particular. Brains, brawn, and bullets… each had his own distinct way of dealing with a problem. In this case, Rodney ran off at the mouth, Ronon threatened bodily harm, and John actually tried to play peacemaker.
Sheppard slid a powerbar between the two men. “As team leader I have the right to make an executive decision. Feed the moose.”
Ronon let go of Rodney with a final glare and returned to the back hatch to try to lure the animals closer.
“I’m filing a grievance against him when we get back to Atlantis,” Rodney promised in outrage.
Sheppard gave him a gentle shove toward the front of the Jumper and told him simply, “No, you aren’t.”
“Yes, I am. He threatened me with bodily harm, Sheppard.”
“So do half the people that meet you. Besides, what’s a grievance going to do? At best it will have Elizabeth telling him to behave and at worst it will get him removed from the team.”
John’s reasoning only had Rodney glaring back at the Satedan. “Well, I’d hate for that to happen seeing as we may need to use his hair to mop the floor.”
Ronon looked as if he was going to rush the scientist again, but that stopped when John sat heavily in the pilot’s seat, closed his eyes, and leaned his head back.
The indignation in Rodney’s voice changed to concern. “Sheppard?”
He waved McKay off. “It’s nothing; just a little tired is all.”
Teyla frowned when Rodney met her eyes and shook his head minutely. “We should change your bandaging,” she offered.
“And you need to take another antibiotic,” Rodney told him as he went to join Teyla at the bin that held the medical supplies.
Ronon had backed up to join the small group so that he could hear Rodney say quietly, “He’s running a fever.”
She didn’t need to ask how he knew; the two had slept side by side last night. And her concern only grew when she opened the small container of antibiotics to reveal the two remaining pills. Not even a full dose for today and then no more.
Atlantis would find them. She had been telling herself that for two days now. Atlantis would find them. They would send the Daedalus if they had to. The ship could lock onto the signals from the chips under their skin with the Asgard beam. So, she had no doubt they would be found. The question now was, would they find them in time enough for John?
“Check his wound,” Ronon advised in a mumble so Sheppard would not hear. “We may need to clean it.”
Teyla understood the implications of his statement. If the wound was badly infected, it would not be pleasant for John. He was fortunate in that is was not. It was red and the skin warm and did not look much better than it had the day before, but at least there was no discharge. And the dose of antibiotics that he took seemed to be working to at least keep John’s condition from worsening, although he slept most of the morning.
The same could not be said for the rest of her team. For the first time since their crash, Rodney seemed antsy. Maybe it was because he had been so busy trying to figure out how to fix the Jumper and so outraged with John the days before that he hadn’t felt the confinement of the situation. Now, with nothing to distract him, he evidently did. He would move from chair to chair, rearrange his pack, occasionally stop, take a deep breath, close his eyes and will himself to relax.
Ronon was almost as on edge. Once the herd had moved on again and he no longer had anything to feed bits of food to, his pacing renewed. He only stopped occasionally to do sit-ups or push-ups before starting the walking once again. Whereas Rodney’s claustrophobia gave Teyla the impression of a trapped small prey animal, Ronon’s restlessness seemed more like that of a caged predator and she knew it was just a matter of time before the two of them collided once more.
When it seemed that they were on the verge of coming to blows, she would do her best to intervene. She had had Rodney help her with an inventory of the medical supplies when Ronon intentionally used the back of Rodney’s seat to perform squats. And she had had Ronon assist with hanging the blankets that were soaking wet from the melting snow when Rodney intentionally dropped his backpack into the path of Ronon’s steps.
But if she were truly honest with herself, she would admit that she would love to stand and scream at the top of her lungs for Ronon to sit down, Rodney to stop systematically zipping and unzipping his pack, and John to stop humming ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ where he lay on the bench. Instead, she turned the page in the magazine that she had read from front to back twice now and forced a pleasant tone.
“I am unfamiliar with this Earth science of astrology and horoscopes. Is this something like astronomy, Rodney?”
“Oh, God, are you trying to piss him off?” John asked. It was not the response she was hoping for but at least it stopped the off-key singing.
“So it is not the same thing? It seems to be related to the stars, is it not?”
“That’s like saying Sheppard and Einstein are the same person because they both have hair that stands up.”
“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, McKay?” John countered.
“No. Ronon keeps locking himself in there in a tizzy.”
When Ronon’s eyes narrowed dangerously at Rodney’s comment, Teyla continued on with her line of questioning about the horoscopes. “So, it is based on particular dates?”
“Your birthday,” John confirmed. “If you believe in this stuff, your date of birth can tell you about your personality and how things are going to go for you day to day or month to month based on the alignment of the stars and planets.”
Doing some quick conversions between the Athosian and Earth calendar in her head, then studying the dates provided, Teyla concluded, “We are both Capricorns, John.”
“I guess we are.”
“So what are some of the traits for this symbol?”
“Actually, it’s called a sign and Capricorns are practical, motivated, and disciplined.”
Teyla smiled. “That seems appropriate and true.” When Rodney rolled his eyes, she asked him, “You do not believe this methodology?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Then what is your… sign?”
“Aries,” he told her with a sigh.
“And what are the personality traits of an Aries?”
McKay lifted his chin in near defiance. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Rodney,” Sheppard coaxed, “yes, you do.”
“I don’t believe in this mumbo jumbo, Sheppard. It’s an insult to my profession to suggest that I do.”
“This isn’t the same thing as when Cadman called you a cosmetologist instead of a cosmologist, McKay. We’re just having a conversation here and Teyla’s curious. Everybody knows about their zodiac signs, whether they believe it or not.”
The scientist threw up his arms in exasperation. “Fine. Aries are known to be innovative, head strong, and independent.”
“Once again, that seems to be appropriate to describe you.” Studying the picture in the magazine, Teyla made another observation, “It is also an animal sign. It has horns like the Capricorn.”
“It’s a sheep,” John told her in a conspiratorial tone.
Her eyebrows rose at the news. “The animal you tease Dr. Beckett about so relentlessly?”
Rodney reddened and she wasn’t sure if it was from anger or embarrassment. Ronon snorted aloud at the news and McKay shook his head. “Oh, I can guess what you are, no problem. Leo. He’s a classic Leo.”
Teyla quickly calculated Ronon’s birthday as converted to the Earth calendar and her eyebrows rose even higher. “You are correct, Rodney.” She decided it would be prudent not to mention how much Ronon physically resembled the symbol representing Leo in the magazine, as well.
“Arrogant, aggressive, easily bored… Leo all the way.”
“Are you sure you aren’t really a Leo, McKay,” Ronon countered.
“Are you sure you aren’t a closet astrologer?” John asked in as much surprise as Teyla that Rodney knew so much about something he claimed to dislike so much. “You don’t have a deck of Tarot cards in your pack do you?”
“Just because I have a wide breadth of knowledge on a variety of subjects doesn’t mean I peer into a crystal ball to determine my future. If I could do that, don’t you think I would have been a little better prepared for our current situation?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t dismiss these things out of hand, McKay,” the Satedan advised. “So what does this magazine say about our future, anyway?”
“Well, I do not believe this particular horoscope would have told us much about this mission.” Teyla blushed slightly before continuing. “It appears this is one is related to… sex.”
“Of course it is,” Rodney told her. “It’s Cosmo for God’s sake. That’s all that’s in that damn magazine... at least that’s all I’ve seen when I’ve picked it up in a waiting room from time to time.”
“Honestly, I don’t care what the topic is,” John piped in as he shifted uncomfortably on his seat. “I’m bored out of my skull, so let’s hear what it has to say.”
“Very well. It says here that as a Capricorn you should avoid parties with sketchy guys, that you should ‘home in on a guy with a nice butt’, that you should write a note that says you aren’t wearing any underwear, and that when a coworker bugs you, you should look inward as this person possesses one of your bad traits.”
Rodney couldn’t control the snicker and Ronon was soon joining in. Teyla did her best to suppress the threatening giggles. John just nodded his head in thought as he eyed his teammates. “A guy with a nice butt, huh? Guess I’ll have to wait until we’re back on Atlantis for that one.”
“I suppose that goes for me, as well,” she pointed out with a grin.
The three men let out a wounded cry. Ronon grabbed at his chest as though she had stabbed him there and John said, “You really know how to hurt a guy, don’t you?”
Rodney shrugged. “I blame the pants. No one’s ass looks good in these expedition issue khakis.”
Teyla straightened her shoulders with a wicked smirk. “Speak for yourself, Rodney.”
Another round of laughter accompanied her boast and Rodney admitted, “Fine, you’re the exception to that rule. What does Ronon’s say?”
“Leo says you should save money for a new bag, that you will meet a man that is almost as energetic as you, that you should plan to have an intimate dinner…”
“Does it say anything about forks?” Rodney asked, earning him an irritated frown from the Leo in question.
“And,” Teyla continued before they could start arguing again, “it says you should think things through so you don’t make a snap decision you will regret.”
“Believe me, I’ve had two days to think things through,” he informed her with a menacing glare at Rodney.
John evidently saw it, too, and moved in to defuse any potential rise in tempers. “So what about our resident astrology expert? What does his say?”
She turned her attention to the page again. “Aries says you should take up a new hobby, like cooking.”
“Cutting open an MRE is about as far as my cooking skills go or ever will go, thank you very much. Besides, I’m on the cusp with Taurus, so the Aries may not even apply to me.”
Teyla furrowed her brow in confusion. “Cusp? What does this mean, exactly.”
“It means Rodney probably knows more about astrology than he does astronomy.”
Sheppard’s snort had McKay sighing. “If you must know, my grandmother loved this stuff and used to read it to me when I was a kid. And cusp means my birthday is on the border between two different signs so there can be some crossover.”
Teyla skimmed the Taurus horoscope and shook her head with a laugh. “Taurus says your great people skills will defuse a coworker’s temper, Rodney. I do not think that one applies.”
“It could,” he defended when the others started laughing.
“Very well, but I must warn you that Taurus also involves choosing between two men, spankings, and wearing high heels.”
Ronon seemed to be having trouble breathing at that news and Sheppard was wiping at his eyes. Rodney just frowned before relenting, “Maybe I should stick with Aries.”
Teyla brought her own laughter under control. “I think that is the prudent choice. Aries says you should also speak your mind…”
“No worries there,” John snorted.
Teyla chuckled and continued reading. “And call out a… jerk… on rude behavior.”
“Well, then I guess I’ve been biting my tongue for no reason.” Rodney shot John a condescending smirk.
“Oh, it also says an ordinary man will have… hidden assets. And you should let him ‘call the shots in the sack for a change’.”
When the laughter picked up again, he demanded, “And just how is that better than Taurus?”
“I guess that depends on who’s your bunk mate tonight, McKay.”
Sheppard lifted his hand at Ronon’s comment. “Well, I’m willing to take the risk that he’s really an Aries and I’ll avoid a spanking and call dibs on Rodney.”
Teyla blinked in surprise. Then her mouth fell open when Ronon said, “Hey, you can’t call dibs this early. I didn’t even get a fair shot at it.”
“You two want to share a blanket with Rodney?” She asked the question slowly so that she could be sure they understood what she was asking.
“Well, yeah,” John shrugged. “He’s warm.”
“And I am not warm?” Surely she was misunderstanding something here. Last night he had been in a funk because she chose Ronon.
“No offense, Teyla, but you are pretty small. I seriously doubt you give off much heat.”
Ronon quickly confirmed Sheppard’s supposition. “She sucks it up like a sponge. And since I had to deal with that last night, it hardly seems fair that you get McKay again tonight.”
The two men simply ignored her outrage and John told the Satedan, “You snooze, you lose, buddy.”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute.” Rodney waved a hand in protest. “The whole dibs thing didn’t work for me last night, and it’s not going to work for you tonight.”
Finally! Teyla thought. At least Rodney still had some common sense. But his next statement had her changing her mind. “I should have a chance at Ronon.”
She and John both let out a protesting, “What?”
“Let’s face it, Sheppard, you barely have anymore body fat than Teyla. Ronon’s probably like a furnace.”
“All the more reason you two should be split up,” John reasoned. “Besides, you guys have been at each other’s throats all damn day.”
“I’m willing to put bygones aside for a little more warmth. How about you, Ronon?”
“I once slept in the carcass of a dead animal to keep from freezing to death when I was on the run from the Wraith. I think I can handle you for a night, McKay.”
“Well, in light of that stellar endorsement, how can I say no?” Rodney responded dryly.
Teyla closed her eyes and took a deep breath to find her bearings. “Let me understand this. Last night the three of you fought over who would be allowed to share his blankets with me and today you are fighting over who will be required to share his blankets with me?”
“It’s nothing personal.” Ronon’s justification had her choking on a scream of frustration.
“If it makes you feel any better, no one seems to want to sleep with me either,” John pointed out with an irritated glare at his other male teammates.
“You’re my second choice,” Rodney placated.
“Very well. If that is what the three of you want, then I shall leave you to sort this out on your own.” Snatching up the magazine, she stormed into the bathroom, working in frustration to slam the door. “You can decide who has the nice butt, the hidden assets, the excess energy, and who gets the spankings.” She grumbled a curse under her breath as she finally managed to yank the door closed, before yelling to be heard in the main compartment. “And you can do it without me!”