By Jordan McKenzie




Rodney McKay was feeling overwhelmed. Well, perhaps overwhelmed wasn’t the right word. Nauseous, dizzy, out of breath; yep, those words fit. There was a great numbness around his mouth and a dull ache in his head, and as much as he would have liked to complain he couldn’t. He had to maintain decorum as he sat at the table of the Tribal Chief of PX5-something-or-other. Dismissing one’s self or falling in a heap on the floor would likely be frowned upon, so instead he discreetly propped his elbows on the table, leaned his face into cool hands and listened to the chatter that nibbled at his ears. He remained in that position for all of four seconds before someone nudged him in the side and leaned in close to blow words at him.


“Rodney, what are you doing?” Ah, Teyla’s voice. At least it wasn’t the heavy boom of Ronon’s.


“Resting,” he said without moving.




“Well yes, I’m tired now.”


“Rodney, you will insult our host. Chief Maren may appear very understanding but I do not think he would take it kindly if you fell asleep while he is speaking.”


McKay rolled his face to Teyla and leaned an ear against his hands. “He’s not speaking to me, is he?”


“Well no, he is currently negotiating with Colonel Sheppard.”


“Ah, good, well then when he speaks to me let me know; I would like to negotiate the possibility of securing the room properly.” He turned his face back into his hands.


“Rodney, the room is secure. No one here will harm you.”


“I was speaking more of the room itself,” he said impatiently. “It keeps spinning.”


Teyla reached to pull one of the scientist’s hands down and made a move to feel his forehead. McKay jerked away from her and scooted himself a few inches down the bench he occupied.


“Are you alright?”


“What?” He asked, confused.


“Rodney, are you feeling well?” She leaned over and took him by the wrist, pulling him back to his place at the table and off the large native gentleman he now shared space with.


McKay allowed her guidance but seemed unaware of the startled stare of the native. “Did you say something?”


The Athosian eyed her friend closely before putting a hand to his chin and turning his face to her. “Rodney, I asked if you are alright.”


Taking a long shuddering breath, Rodney tried to focus on the woman touching his face. Was she speaking to him? Her lips were moving, but the words were jumbled. Why did she look so worried? He mimicked her move and stopped just shy of touching her cheek. “What’s wrong, Teyla? You look… not so good. I don’t think you should be shaking so much, should you?”


He started to rise from his seat but she pulled him back down. “Rodney, be still.”


“Oh no, did I do something wrong?” He looked panic-stricken.


“No, Rodney. You didn’t do anything wrong. Everything is just fine. I just need you to sit here for a moment and not draw attention to yourself. I will get Colonel Sheppard.”


“Sheppard? Why? You said I didn’t do anything.”


“You are not well. I think perhaps the Colonel can help. Now will you just sit still and wait for me?” For an instant she saw alarm flash through McKay’s eyes, then he appeared to regain control and ease into the position she originally found him, elbows on table and face in hands. She gently patted the back of his head and left him to fetch Sheppard.





Now Rodney really did feel overwhelmed. Despite the accuracy of nauseous, dizzy and short of breath, he was also feeling beset, plagued and beleaguered; yep, overwhelmed fit. Teyla had been concerned about something… something so important she felt compelled to interrupt Sheppard during negotiations for trade with a new ally. She looked worried and nervous. Teyla never looked nervous, not unless something was terribly wrong. Somehow he felt responsible. He must have done something inappropriate… something really, really bad. What though? He couldn’t remember. All he could think about now was that he was supposed to be still. Why was he supposed to be still? Because Teyla had ordered it. Okay, still it was.


Well, maybe not completely still. It was getting difficult to breath with his face in his hands. Taking a chance the Athosian might not notice he eased his face away from his palms. Good, nothing bad happened. Slowly he parted his hands and looked past them to see Teyla standing alongside Sheppard, both facing Maren. No one appeared to notice he wasn’t doing what he was told so he relaxed and watched the three across the room.


He used the index finger and thumb of his left hand touching the index finger and thumb of his right to frame the three in conference. Righting himself after a slight sway, his eyes began to stare and his mind began to observe. He noticed the way Sheppard stood during negotiations which was much like Teyla. Shoulders back, spine straight, feet apart. They fit perfectly into the triangle he formed with his hands. “Ah,” he mumbled. “Geometrically correct; the military persona is a triangle.”


Hunh? Had he said that? That was gibberish. Be quiet so I can think, he thought.


Again he looked through the lens he’d created. One at a time, he placed his triangle over the forms of Sheppard and Teyla; yes sir, perfect triangles. Then Ronon walked alongside his teammates. “Whoa,” McKay said, pulling back in surprise. Ronon wasn’t a triangle, no way no how. Nope, Rodney shifted his fingers to alter his lens. The Satedan was really more a rectangle, a very large rectangle. Cool, my team is a geometric wonder. Hmm, I wonder what shape I am. No actually, I don’t really want to know what shape I am.


The scientist swallowed nervously before he moved his lens to the form of Maren. He looked intensely then blinked, not quite sure what to make of what he saw. That can’t be right. He looked again. Uh no, that just isn’t right. He shook his head, instantly regretting the motion. Thinking about Maren, he gave a nervous laugh just before the nausea threatened to sweep him away. His hands fell to the edge of the table and he hung on for dear life. He was sure he was going to topple over when he felt strong hands grab hold and lean him forward again.


“Hey, buddy, you okay?”


Rodney dared a glance sideways. Sheppard, when had he come over?


“You do know you’re a triangle, Teyla too. Where is Teyla? She wasn’t feeling well a minute ago.”


Sheppard looked across McKay to see a worried exchange between Teyla and Ronon.


Rodney caught the look as well and suddenly felt panicked again. “Oh no, I did do something wrong, didn’t I? I did something to Teyla. Or was it Maren? I was just making observations. I didn’t mean anything by it.”


Sheppard’s eyed widened. “What’s wrong, Rodney?”


“I didn’t mean anything. I just couldn’t make him fit, Maren I mean. You, Teyla, Ronon, even me, I fit, but Maren doesn’t.”


“What about Maren? What’s wrong with him?”


Surprise crossed McKay’s face. “You can’t see it?”


“See what?”


“His legs, they’re not like yours. Straight I mean. They’re not like Teyla’s either, but then I’d worry if they were like hers because she’s well, she’s a girl. Have you ever noticed how nice Teyla’s legs are?”


Okay, so now the physicist had entered a rambling monologue. Sheppard struggled to grasp what his friend was trying to say. When he turned to look at Maren, it dawned on him. He rubbed a hand across his face and spoke in a low voice so the tribal chief couldn’t hear. “Rodney, are you trying to tell me the man’s bow-legged?”


McKay straightened, indignant; an implied well, duh in his demeanor.


“That’s what’s bothering you.”


He leaned close to the Colonel as if passing on a huge secret. “Look at him.”


“Rodney,” John said with a warning.


“I mean look at him! The man couldn’t hem a hog in a ditch!”


It was at this point Ronon laughed out loud.



Part 2


“Are you kidding me?” Sheppard stood up suddenly, cuffing Rodney on the back of the head. “I’m in negotiations here, McKay, I don’t have time for this.”


Ronon covered his smile with his hand and rose when he saw Maren near the table.


John rubbed at his neck, clearly irritated. “McKay, you drive me nuts sometimes, you know that?”


“Colonel,” Teyla said softly, not taking her eyes off Rodney.


“I know you said you didn’t want to come but I didn’t think you’d sabotage the mission.”


“Colonel, please,” Teyla tried again to discreetly get her leader’s attention.


“Bowlegged? You got me over here because the man’s bowlegged. What is that? Why would you even…”


“Colonel, you need to stop… now,” the Athosian said more forcefully.


Ronon saw the concern in Teyla’s face and realized she was serious, something was wrong. It was then he felt McKay tremble. He looked at the scientist’s hand gripping the edge of the table and realized he’d managed to scrape his fingers against its wood until he started them bleeding.


“Unbelievable, McKay,” Sheppard grumbled, continuing his rant.


“Sheppard,” Ronon said loudly, “Shut up!” He then leaned over and grabbed Rodney by the wrist.


“What?” The Colonel turned stunned to see Ronon gripping a bloody hand before him and Rodney so red in the face he looked ready to cry. “What the hell?”


“I- I’m sorry,” he said so softly Teyla nearly missed it. He looked at her with pleading eyes. “Please, I’m sorry.”


“Rodney, what is wrong?” she asked gently.


“Please… l-let go.” He looked at Ronon. “I won’t move… I won’t… move.”


The Satedan looked intently at McKay’s hand then up at Sheppard. “You’re bleeding,” he said finally.


“I didn’t mean anything,” he answered, trying to pull himself away from the larger man. “I won’t move.”


“Ronon, let him go,” Teyla said, her eyes looking straight into Rodney’s. When he did as she asked, Teyla slid her arm across the table towards McKay and turned her palm up. “May I see your hand?”


Sheppard sat close to Rodney on the bench and watched a wild array of emotions dance across his face. What the devil had happened?


“Rodney?” Teyla encouraged. “May I see your hand? I know I asked you to be still, but it’s alright, you can let me take a look.”


“I’m not feeling very well,” he answered, rocking backwards. Sheppard put a hand out to catch him. “Can I rest now?” he mumbled just before he passed out.





Sheppard and Ronon eased an unconscious McKay off his bench and onto the floor. Teyla skirted the table, kneeled down alongside him and began checking his pulse; it was too fast. She then put a hand to his chest and felt his heart pounding hard.


“Teyla,” John called nervously.


She leaned closer and heard his breaths struggling for rhythm. “I don’t know, Colonel, but I suggest we get him to back to Atlantis.”


Sheppard reached for his radio, but Maren interrupted him. “No, no, you mustn’t do that?”


“Excuse me?”


“Colonel Sheppard, perhaps it would be better if Dr. McKay rested here. If you do not know what is wrong with him, moving him might do more harm than good,” Maren suggested, crossing his arms across his round belly.


The colonel stared warily at Maren for a moment before he sought Teyla’s advice with a look.


“I don’t, Colonel. It is a long walk back to the Jumper.”


“See,” Maren said. “Perhaps your friend merely needs rest. We can provide a place for him to sleep undisturbed. Yes?”


John glanced at Ronon and knew he felt as uncomfortable with the suggestion as he did, but he also knew it would be dark soon. He tapped the radio in his ear and called, “Atlantis, this is Sheppard. We have a medical emergency. Please ask Dr. Beckett to get here asap. There’ll be someone this side of the gate to meet him.” He tapped the radio again and then nodded at the Satedan. “Ronon, go. Get Beckett here fast.”


Without a word, Ronon grabbed his coat and gun and headed towards the gate.


Sheppard squatted next to Rodney and looked into Teyla’s concerned eyes. “Ok, so what happened to him? When you came to get me you said he was ill, ill how?”


“He was very tired, disconcerted, short of breath.”


“Did he have anything to drink, was he intoxicated?”


“He had water only. We both did,” she answered.


“How about food, what did he eat?”


“As far as I know, he ate meat and bread. He’s very careful of the fruits and vegetables he consumes for fear of ingesting citrus?”


“Okay, well that rules out allergic reaction. Well, at least citrus-related reaction.”


“Perhaps it’s just extreme fatigue,” Teyla suggested.


“You don’t rip the skin off your fingers from fatigue.”


Rodney groaned and twitched. Sheppard rested a hand on his arm and shook it gently to see if the scientist would wake. He didn’t. Instead his head tossed restlessly and his hands began scratching at the floor on either side of him. Sheppard caught hold of the bloodied one and held on to it.


“Damn it,” he said. “What’s happening? He’s acting as if he’s been…” He jerked his head up suddenly and caught Teyla’s eye, “drugged.”


“Drugged?” Maren echoed behind him. “Colonel Sheppard, surely you do not think we would do such a thing to one of your team. I assure you, we did not.”


John turned his head up to Maren suspiciously.


“Colonel, my people need you and your team. We would do nothing to endanger trade negotiations. Please, believe me.”


Biting down on his distrust, John shook his head. “I don’t know what to believe. A member of my team collapses in front of me and I don’t know why. Let’s just say I’m liable to be suspicious of everything and everyone right now.”


Rodney moaned again and tried to pull his hand free of the Colonel’s. Sheppard leaned over him. “McKay? Can you hear me?”


“It’s diff’rnt,” the physicist mumbled.




“Why… diff’rnt?”


“Rodney, wake up,” John ordered, shaking his friend’s shoulder.




“Wake up!”


“Don’t yell at me. Ouch!” McKay answered, pulling back the hand Sheppard had been squeezing. “What’s wrong?”


“You tell me.”


Rodney looked at the faces hanging over him. Feeling sickened by their nearness, he rolled to his side and covered his face. “Can’t.”


Sheppard motioned for everyone to move away before he pulled McKay’s hand away. “What happened, buddy? Can you remember anything?”


Rodney looked into John’s eyes and saw the genuine concern. What the hell was going on? He shook his head sharply, a frightened look on his face.


“Easy. What’s the last thing you remember?”


He thought back. “Coming through the gate in the puddle jumper.”


“Nothing after that? You don’t remember meeting Maren and the council for trade negotiations? Or the meal they prepared for us for the talks?”


McKay shook his head again...........................................






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