Glossolalia

Glossolalia

By Regann

Rating: R
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: They had been on the planet for three days when Rodney started speaking in tongues.
Spoilers: Hide and Seek; vague S2
Notes: No real spoilers for S2 other than that Ronon is on the team.

***

They had been on the planet for three days when Rodney started speaking in tongues.

Sheppard was sitting by the fire just outside of the small, derelict structure when Rodney came rushing out from between the eroded pillars, every move and twitch and breath frantic with desperation. Sheppard glanced up and saw him rushing toward him and the look on McKay's face was so very scared and panicked and disbelieving that Sheppard jumped to his feet and grabbed his gun.

"What's wrong, Rodney?" he asked sharply, the way a parent might ask a child, scared and worried. "What happened?"

McKay reached him, breathing heavy, and sounds began to pour from his mouth in a rushing torrent -- sounds, not words, because none of it made any sense; it was gibberish, rolling consonants interspersed with vowels but with no meaning, no significance behind them. And as more non-words fell from his mouth, Rodney looked more panicked and more frightened, eyes wide and very blue.

Sheppard knew something strange when he saw it and he immediately radioed Teyla and Ronon to inform them that he was going into town. And by town, he meant village, specifically the tiny village that sat between them and the Stargate and was populated by smiling, friendly natives.

He should have known never to trust the type.

He dragged Rodney to the village and hollered for the village wise woman who was surprisingly young but unsurprisingly cryptic. He pointed and explained about Rodney, then ordered Rodney to speak. McKay glared at him furiously, rubbing his sore wrist but complied, a whirring and fast-paced cascade of uncomfortably unintelligible sounds.

The wise woman smiled and patted Rodney on the arm and declared it a miracle and shouted out for all the villagers to come witness it.

"A miracle?" Sheppard said disbelieving. "He can't talk anymore."

Rodney was also disagreeing with the term "miracle," if his flailing hands and angry tone were any indication; and Sheppard suddenly realized the importance of the fact Rodney could still understand them and was glad for it.

"He speaks the divine language," she explained patiently, in the same tone Rodney usually used to explain something scientific to him. "Those who need to hear him will understand."

"Well, that's just plain unhelpful," Sheppard protested as the wise woman smiled and bowed and walked away, only to be replaced by dazzled villagers, all pressing closer and closer to McKay who was only becoming more and more uncomfortable as the crowd surrounded him.

Sheppard took a firm hold of Rodney's arm and dragged him away, although there was little resistance as they broke through the throng of on-lookers. Once they were in open territory, Rodney wasn't being dragged -- he was walking pace-to-pace with him.

"I think we need to get you back to Atlantis, as soon as possible," Sheppard told him.

Rodney spoke, then thought better of it, snapping his mouth shut after a few syllables. Instead, he nodded, gesturing toward the stargate.

Sheppard understood that. "Yeah, now is good."

***

Things weren't easier on Atlantis, although everyone was as concerned as Sheppard. Beckett ran a barrage of tests while Weir fretted and asked Sheppard a hundred questions to which he didn't know the answer.

"What happened?" she asked for the tenth time.

"I don't know," he answered for the eleventh. "He got up, bitched about the coffee, went into check some readings on the temple thing. A few hours later, he runs out looking like he's been scared to death and talking that nonsense."

"Was there anything in the temple...?"

"I didn't think so. We'd already been in there for three days. We hadn't found anything."

Weir nodded, brow furrowed in concern. "We'll have to wait and see what Carson says."

What Carson had to say wasn't any more help, since it was what John had been saying for hours: "I just don't know." But he added, "I can't find any medical problems that might be causing this" which Sheppard didn't have the qualifications to say. Still, Beckett didn't add much to the discussion.

Of course, most of the discussion -- if it could be called that -- came from Rodney who was a fountain of exotic, dazzlingly quick-tongued noise. His concern had soon given way to impatience and then annoyance and finally frustration when he'd tried writing his thoughts out on paper after using a keyboard had been shown to be utterly useless. What he produced instead of the English block letters that Sheppard had expected were dizzying curving lines, as if someone else controlled his hand. In a fit of spectacular pique, he threw his pen across the room where it bounced off the little figurines sitting on Weir's desk.

Elizabeth was not pleased. "Rodney!" she exclaimed and it brought a hint of a smirk to Rodney's face because it was the first time since they'd returned to Atlantis that she hadn't spoken to him in her gentle, caring, "I think you're about to die" voice.

Sheppard guessed McKay didn't like being coddled like that in this particular situation.

McKay sat back in his chair, arms folded, sounds pouring out of his crooked mouth, the tone conveying enough that Sheppard understood the message -- figure out what's wrong with me and fix it now was the basic gist.

"There's been some precedent of this at the SGC," Weir thought aloud. "Gen. O'Neill and the --"

She was cut off by a bark of noise that made them all turn toward Rodney who was furiously pantomiming something. It looked to Sheppard like he was smashing his palm against his nose, fingers slightly curved to fit the shape of his face before shaking his head NO. To Elizabeth, it must have meant something because she frowned in thought. "So you didn't stick your head in anything like an Ancient repository?" she asked and Rodney snapped his fingers, pointed at her.

Sheppard realized a YES when he saw it.

"Did you do anything that might have triggered something like this?" Weir asked him and he was shaking his head and making the baseball signal for safe with his arms and Sheppard took that as a NO.

"We need to go back to the planet and look around," he suggested, leaning back lazily in his chair as he surveyed them across the table. "We're not figuring it out here."

Rodney quickly got to snapping and pointing his agreement to Sheppard's statement.

Weir agreed but she was reticent to allow Rodney to return in his condition -- a statement that didn't lead to much pointing and snapping.

"What's the harm?" Sheppard asked. "He can't make it worse, I don't think, and he'll need to show us what he was doing when he was...eh, afflicted with this."

McKay made supportive "what he said" gestures until Weir conceded. "But promise you'll report back if there's any change in his condition?"

Sheppard promised to do just that as McKay rolled his eyes and looked disgustedly toward the ceiling. "Yeah, I know," John said, clapping him on the shoulder as he passed by. "But Elizabeth worries. C'mon, let's go."

Rodney nodded and hurried out of the room behind him, shaking his finger in unity with the cacophony coming from his lips.

Sheppard couldn't understand it but he nodded all the same.

***

Back on the planet, Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon searched the small sacred space from top to bottom and found nothing out of the ordinary, not even whatever it was that had produced the unusual readings that had brought them there in the first place. McKay was there, too, leaning against what looked like a stone altar in the middle of the space, hands and mouth moving without much success since whatever he was saying was lost to them.

After a couple hours of Rodney's monologue -- it sounded to Sheppard like he was bitching, which wouldn't have been out of character, not even if the words were in a divine language -- Ronon paused in his search and looked straight at McKay, giving him a piercing, inscrutable look that almost brought him to silence except that it lasted too long and he began to launch into a nervous stuttering pattern that made the gibberish found like Swedish.

"Huh." Ronon shook his head in mild disbelief. "Even when he can't talk, he doesn't shut up." The tone was more interested than irritated, like he was making a casual remark on the weather, though it was something he'd never do. McKay blanched and then sped up his proto-speech to reflect some irritation of his own.

"He didn't mean anything by it, Rodney," Sheppard pointed out. McKay made a face at him to which he replied, "I do not. Now, shut up and point out again where it was you were standing when you stopped speaking English, please?"

search -- and muttered under his breath but did as he'd been told, crossing his arms as he stood near the western pillar. Sheppard circled him once more and Rodney stared off into space, quiet and his eyes dazed, obvious indications that he was thinking.

Despite the concentration he was putting into his work, Sheppard noted the moment that McKay's thought turned dark: the slanting mouth tightened and the speculative brightness about his eyes dimmed, his whole posture slumping, losing haughty superior structure as if something terrible had just occurred to him. When John looked intently at his face, he ducked away.

"Don't worry, Rodney, we'll figure this out," Sheppard assured him. "There's something here. And if it isn't here, I think that wise woman knows more than she's saying. We won't give up until we've fixed this, you know that."

Rodney sighed and begrudgingly nodded, the lines of his mouth relaxing a fraction. He opened his mouth as if to speak but stopped, irritated again.

Sheppard decided to lighten the mood. "And if we don't, well...there's always sign language."

Rodney snorted and made one of his "you're absolutely insane!" faces but he was also grinning for the first time in a long time.

Sheppard grinned back.

***

Aside from the futile search of the temple, their day was frustrated by the fact that random villagers kept showing up, ostensibly to offer their help -- as well as food, gifts, prayers -- but it was actually in order to speak to McKay. Actually, it was in order to have Rodney speak at them, but Sheppard didn't feel like arguing semantics when he didn't have anyone to argue with.

Rodney was disconcerted by the gift-giving and celestial praise, something Sheppard hadn't expected. He'd expected Rodney's odd foray into religious icon would have been the one perk to the whole speaking-nonsense deal, given McKay's arrogance and his superior sense of self-worth. Instead, he was turning all different shades of embarrassed -- quite a range of white and pink and very red -- and pushing their gifts back into their hands as he mumbled at them in his not-a-real-language, his tone almost shaken.

But since that was exactly what the natives wanted -- him to be touching them and speaking to them -- they kept coming to leave gifts and returning to the village happy after their miniature conversation with the divine. Rodney finally gave into some sort of fatalistic acceptance around mid-day and stopped arguing with them. He would lay his hand on theirs and say a bit of mumbo-jumbo before briskly sending them on their way. Something about the way his mouth moved made Sheppard think he was thinking something close to "Yes, you're idiots but if you'll leave me alone, I'll humor you" when his mouth shaped to form the sounds that he mumbled over their heads.

By sunset, the flow of natives had all but stopped, for which they were all thankful. However, just after sunset, the village wise woman came to visit, her garishly colored dress even more offensive against the violent colors of the sky.

"Are you still blessed, Dr. McKay?" she asked as she touched a hand to his shoulder.

"If you mean, is he still talking nonsense, yes," Sheppard answered sourly.

"Then all who must hear have not listened," she said lightly, unaffected by his tone. "Many have come to me and spoke of the miracle touching them."

"Yeah, about that...can't you stop them?" he asked. "It's getting just a little too creepy for me, to watch all these people act like Rodney's a god or something."

Despite his down unease with the exact situation, McKay looked offended by Sheppard's remark. He shrugged in half-hearted apology.

"I'm sorry; they come because they need to hear the message," she told him calmly. "I cannot do anything to stop that."

After only a few more minutes of conversation, she took her leave of them, touching Sheppard's shoulder as she turned away, explaining, "Messages sometimes come in many signs and many languages and are meant for many. And sometimes the divine may speak to us in less direct ways than words."

Sheppard shook his head as her squat little figure disappeared into the darkness. "She continues to be completely unhelpful," he observed.

Rodney nodded exaggeratedly to signal his agreement as he took a bite of his MRE.

"It's irritating and, you know, very unhelpful? Can't she just cut the crap and tell us what's going on because I'm almost positive she knows what's happening here." When Sheppard glanced at him, McKay's expression screamed "What you said."

"Yeah, I can feel it, too," John finished, taking a swig of his coffee before dumping the dregs onto the ground behind him. He discovered that Teyla was watching him with an amused little expression, something very indulgent about the softness in her eyes.

"What?" he asked her, confused. "You don't agree?"

"No, I do," she told him thoughtfully. "I was simply thinking about her parting words and..." she trailed off.

"And..." Sheppard prompted.

McKay was making a circular motion with his hand that meant much the same.

"And I was thinking that she was correct, in some ways. You and Dr. McKay seem to have between you a way of communicating that does not involve words," she explained, smiling at them. Without waiting for a reply, she excused herself from the campfire.

"Huh," was Sheppard's brilliant verbal response to Teyla's observation. He turned to look at Rodney, who was looking at him, his eyes slightly crinkled at the corners and his lips just parted as if he were searching for words to speak. Sheppard realized abruptly that he knew exactly what that look meant -- it was Rodney's version of a nonverbal "huh."

"I guess she's kinda right," John told him.

Rodney nodded vigorously.

"Yeah, but it's pretty easy to read you," Sheppard pointed out.

Rodney raised an eyebrow and shot him a withering look.

"Well, it is," Sheppard echoed defensively.

Rodney waved a hand at Sheppard's face as he rolled his eyes.

"What? You can't read me like I can read you," he objected. "I've got military training on my side."

McKay finally indulged in some sounds, garbles of unintelligible babble that succinctly expressed McKay's opinion on military training in general and Sheppard's in particular.

Sheppard waved him quiet. "Okay, okay, if I can read you, you can read me," he conceded.

McKay grinned smugly at him before going to back to finish his MRE.

There was silence between them but Sheppard heard it loud and clear.

"Stop gloating so loud," he ordered McKay.

Something like a laugh escaped from Rodney's throat and it was the first truly intelligible sound he'd made in days.

It made the something that was tight and constricted Sheppard's chest loosen just a little.

***

The search for a cause was similarly disappointing the next day, and samples of everything from dirt to plants to water had been analyzed back at Atlantis with little luck.

They were all growing short-tempered, Rodney most of all as he continued to exist in a world where his modes of communication were restricted to arm-flailing and facial expression. Even though Sheppard knew that McKay had a damned expressive face, he also knew that the thoughts and feelings and vocabulary of a genius could never be properly expressed through muscle ticks and eye-rolls.

Sheppard couldn't imagine what sort of particular hell that this was for Rodney, a man who lived to share. Not share in the nurturing, emotional sense but in the pure literal sense of wanting to communicate to everyone whatever passed through his brain. His brilliance, his opinions, his complaints; bitching, discussing, arguing -- Sheppard could barely imagine a Rodney McKay without that and the longer it took them to figure what had changed him, the less hope either of them had for reversing it.

Their deplorable situation was made even more tense by the sudden outbreak of wild chanting and heavy drum beats coming from the village, still barely audible from their position near the dilapidated ruins. As they emerged from the stone structure, Sheppard's attention had immediately been drawn to the echo of the noise that reverberated through the air; he'd almost thought he was imagining it until Teyla stepped in and explained.

"They are readying for a holiday," she told him, having asked when she'd visited the stargate that morning. "It appears to be a great festive occasion."

"Well, unless it's the "Cure Rodney McKay" festival, I'm not very interested," Sheppard sniped, thinking of that wise woman. He still had a feeling she knew something that she wasn't saying. He just wished he knew what she was hiding.

By nightfall, Rodney was looking as defeated as Sheppard ever remembered seeing him, a listlessness speaking of despair in his sluggish movements that made him cringe in sympathy. They were sitting together by the fire, an uneasy, unnatural silence hanging between them. Rodney's shoulders were slumped and his face was all grim lines in the flickering light of the fire. He radiated hopelessness.

"We'll figure this out, Rodney," Sheppard told him, his voice low and serious against the crackling of the campfire. He ran a hand through his hair. "You know we won't give up."

Rodney shrugged, chewing on a power bar and staring into the fire.

"McKay," he snapped. "Don't give me that. You've gotta know we'll fix this." When Rodney make no attempt to look at him -- to communicate -- Sheppard leaned toward him and tugged on his elbow, forcing him to look at him. "Hey, I mean it."

When Rodney's eyes met his, John suddenly realized how true his words the night before had been -- McKay was easy to read; everything flowed over his face in a ever-shifting tapestry of signs and lines and shadow that spelled out so much about what he was thinking at any given movement. At that moment, it was all about his doubts, the terrible allure of hope and a faith that he didn't quite believe in. The doubt was in his grim mouth, held tight and clamped shut while the hope was in the suspicious brightness of his eyes -- still very blue, even in firelight, against the reds and oranges -- and the irony of it all was in the tilt of his eyebrows, quirked and questioning.

Sheppard knew that face well, its angles and curves and dips. He could read it better than he could mission reports and it made even more sense than what lined the pages of War and Peace.

There must have been something in his own face because Rodney reacted to it, sending him a strange, querying glance, head tilted as he watched him, mouth ready to say, "What's your problem, Colonel?" if those words could have come from it.

Sheppard wasn't sure how but he'd moved a whole closer to Rodney, their hips and legs touching where they sat on a makeshift stone bench they'd pilfered from the old temple. John watched the play of the fire across Rodney's face, the subtle change in expression, in nuanced motion as he catalogued whatever he saw in John's face and weighed in it in his mind, decided, rejected, concluded. The overall air of despair was melting into something a bit more mysterious, tinged with confusion around the brow but lighting up the eyes in a secretive way that Sheppard didn't quite know how to read it.

It took him a moment to figure out how important it all was, that it was important at all. Sheppard really knew Rodney, knew him in ways he couldn't remember knowing anyone else. He had exes whose faces he didn't know with the same clarity as Rodney's and old teammates whose routines had never impressed upon his in the way that he and McKay had managed to forge toward their own personal SOP. It was an amazing thing, to know someone that well, that comfortably and John had been missing that point for months. Maybe even longer.

The night was just cool enough to be comfortable and the fire was suddenly too hot on his left side; but Rodney's breath, warm and damp, felt just right against his face, a strange hitching huff the way Rodney breathed.

"Rodney," he said softly, inadequately, trying to express something that couldn't be said in words. McKay's face shifted and softened again and something warm burned in Sheppard's veins.

Sheppard could feel anticipation crawling in his stomach; it hung in the still air. But whatever he might have expected it wasn't quite what he got.

Rodney opened his mouth to speak and they both were ready for the insane tumble of sounds that'd come, meaning nothing but refreshingly welcome in a moment when even English wasn't cutting it for Sheppard.

Instead, his lips formed just one word, released it in a sigh, a sharp release of breath.

And they were both startled with it sounded suspiciously liked "John."

John gaped and Rodney grinned, suddenly very ecstatic. The words that tumbled out after that were still the unintelligible kind but there was kind of vigor behind them that made them something to hear, to remember, to try and understand. Rodney didn't seem to care if the words didn't make sense; he simply needed to say them.

But Sheppard had figured something out and it was sometimes that talking -- even when they were both speaking the same language -- was overrated. He made a hushing sound and Rodney trailed off, looking at him with something still sparking in his eyes and Sheppard held them with his, searching for something.

John never remembered who made the first move, who eliminated the space between them, took that first step -- not that it would have mattered. But suddenly they were speaking in tongues in the physical sense of the phrase, lips pressed together and hands searching, roving over cloth and skin, pressing at barriers that would mean less of the former and more of the latter.

When they pulled away for breath, Rodney was whispering in his indecipherable language, puffs of air hot against Sheppard's neck as he kissed it, fingertips working their way underneath the black T-shirt, ghosting over his back with sure, confident fingers.

"Rodney," John said just as softly, needing to add his voice to the moment to join Rodney's. His fingers were not quite as confident but they were steady, working at Rodney's waistband. His thoughts felt as unintelligible as Rodney's words had felt to his ears but his desire were being very straightforward at the moment and it was telling him NOW and FASTER and YES in ways that couldn't be misunderstood.

By the time they'd pried themselves apart and beat a hasty retreat to Sheppard's tent, the chorus in Sheppard's head was only quieted by Rodney's hands on him and the strange comfort of his voice in his ears, muttering in his divine-language, as steady and arousing as the hands that helped stripped him, as enticing and interesting as the body he helped strip.

Rodney's skin slid over his, nothing left to separate them; Rodney's words washed over him, soothing, erotic, familiar and foreign, like the lips against his chest, the hand on his dick. The sounds made him crazy, made him want to understand them, memorize them like he wanted to do to Rodney; remember, impress, retain.

In the background, the drums still echoed from the village in a strange counterpoint to the music of Rodney's non-language.

***

John awoke the next morning a little confused, a little sore and a lot naked -- none of which he considered to be a usual occurrence during off-world excursions, Athosian ale notwithstanding. Then he realized that he was not only naked but naked with Rodney McKay, a fact he found significant enough to note.

Rodney was sprawled out beside him -- also, naked -- lying on his stomach, one arms tucked under his head. He was snoring, a light guffing sound that John found amusing. He ran his hand from Rodney's neck down his back, lost in the novelty of it.

His explorations were cut short, however, but a rising of cry of celebration from outside, much too near their small camp. Without even bothering to wake Rodney, Sheppard pulled on his pants as quickly as possible and hurtled out of the tent, his eyes ready adjust to the bright morning sunlight to which he'd become accustomed during their time there.

The villagers -- and it looked like all of them -- were gathered in a circle around the old temple, drumming, chanting, some of them dancing wildly. While it might have meant something deep and significant to an anthropologist, it reminded John of an encore at a rock concert, everyone drunk and loose and moved by the music. The sounds were building, growing louder and he stood on the edge of the group, unsure of what to do other than to wait and watch.

As the noise rose and fell, he could hear the sound of stone grinding against stone coming from the little temple thing, a loud and unsettling noise. The crowd continued to chant and drum, their noise level rising with the growing grinding noise, and Sheppard watched as one villager spun like a dervish, a warbling wail pouring from her lips in something that almost mimicked the way Rodney had sounded the night before. As the grinding continued, more people began to dance and spin and shout, feet pounding in time with the drums, the bits of metal they wore on their clothing as decoration catching and throwing back the morning light in numerous tiny sparkles.

The grinding finally stopped and everyone cheered again as the wise woman suddenly appeared, coming out of the temple. She was sweaty and disheveled but her face was bright with joy as she raised her hands above her head and shouted, to which the crowds replied with even more ecstatic noise.

Then as suddenly as it had started it was over; the crowd began to disperse, still smiling and buoyant but much more quiet. Many of them nodded to him in greeting as they passed and he noticed that they held all sorts of little things in their hands, bright strings of beads and bits of flowers. He wanted to ask what was going on but he hadn't quite found his voice yet.

He saw the wise woman moving toward him, smiling and happy. Just as she opened her mouth to speak, he heard himself say, "I thought you said you didn't use this place anymore." He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at her.

She smiled at him, a teasing slant to her eyes as she answered. "We don't," she answered mystically.

"Uh huh," he gave her a look that said he knew she was hiding something from him.

She continued to smile, giving him an amused once-over as if to point out that he was standing there in nothing but the pants that hung dangerously low on his hips. "I have not lied to you, Colonel," she promised.

"Yeah but I have a feeling that you aren't telling me everything neither," he told her.

"No one can tell anyone everything," she pointed out in her cryptic way. "What you have to do is understand what's important to learn from what they do say." She bowed, her yellow and green dress fluttering in the breeze. "I think it's time for me to return to the village."

He watched her walk away, still smiling and serene as she joined the trail of villagers heading toward the village. Sheppard was mulling over the latest cryptic message she'd given him, and wondering if she cared that he was still finding it supremely unhelpful when he felt a presence of someone at his side.

The someone pressed something into his hand. "Here, you forgot this. And while bare-chested is a good look for you, I think it's hardly fitting for the current situation, you know, with all the natives flitting about and that horrid chipmunk of a wise woman making eyes at you. Not to mention the fact that Teyla and --"

John clutched the T-shirt in his hand and looked at McKay in astonishment. He was standing beside him, completely dressed, his face still a little sleep-swollen. "Rodney, you can talk!"

"Noticed that, did you?" he murmured sarcastically although there was joy in his voice and on his face and bright in his eyes.

"What happened?" John asked as he pulled the T-shirt over his head.

Rodney was frowning thoughtfully at Sheppard's hair as if he found it infinitely fascinating. John ran a hand through it but it didn't dislodge McKay's interest. "What happened? I don't know, actually. I woke up and you were gone and I heard the tribal council out here and I called out and...it was English," he explained hurriedly, as if he couldn't say the word fast enough. He was smiling quite brilliantly, his whole face alight and it reminded John of the fun they'd had testing out the personal shield so long ago.

Sheppard knew he was grinning, too. "Well, that's lucky," he observed.

"Isn't it?" Rodney agreed, still waving his arms dramatically as if he wasn't used to only having to use words to communicate.

"I'm going to kinda miss the gibberish, though," Sheppard told him.

"What? Why?" Rodney asked, baffled. "I know I won't."

"Well, it was fun, trying out other forms of communication...if you know what I mean." Sheppard was trying for one of those devastating grins that he always used to charm people, the one that promised sex and good times and made them want to agree.

If the expression on McKay's face was any indication, he'd failed miserably because Rodney looked close to laughing in his face, the laughter barely contained in the arching eyebrow. "Oh, I know what exactly what you mean, Colonel," he answered, still speaking quick. But as he'd spoke, the amusement on his face had softened to something absurdly fond and equally exasperated and warmth flood through Sheppard. "Still, there's nothing that says we can't still use those forms of communication in conjunction with verbal expression."

"Oh, I'm with you on that, McKay," Sheppard said, still grinning a dorky, pleased grin as he moved into Rodney's personal space.

Rodney's mouth met his half-way and his hands were wandering up into his hair before John had his arms around him. He tugged him closer and there was no protest, only quiet, singing agreement.

It seemed that they were in perfect sympathy once again.

***

Back at Atlantis, there were more questions but there was still on the same answer.

"I don't know," Rodney told Elizabeth when she asked about his miraculous cure. "And, frankly, I don't care. I'm just glad to be speaking English again."

"The rest of us aren't sure how we feel about it, though," Sheppard pointed out, draped over his chair in the briefing room. Rodney shot him a dark look but Sheppard was unrepentant, grinning at him rakishly.

Elizabeth cast a fond look over them. "And the energy readings of the temple?" she asked, pulling the conversation back to the subject at hand.

"We could not find the readings after the natives' celebration," Teyla answered. "Dr. McKay was most perplexed."

"I just don't know, Elizabeth," McKay told her again. "I mean, I would assume that it's all connected but we went over that place with a fine-tooth comb and we couldn't find anything that could be causing the readings. And, then, poof they were gone and well..." he trailed off, shrugging.

"You don't seem very upset," she pointed out. "The Rodney McKay I know isn't usually so accepting about things he doesn't know or can't figure out."

"I can speak English again," he told her, as if it were the only point worth discussing. "I am fine with that. Just fine."

Weir agreed and the briefing broke up not too long after that, although Teyla stayed behind to discuss something with Elizabeth.

Rodney, on the other hand, bounded out of the meeting room with scrambling, graceless purpose, so fast that John had to jog down the hall to catch up with him. Ronon, who he passed, shot him an amused look and loped toward the commissary.

"Hey, McKay," he said when he caught up to him. "You busy?"

"Always, actually," Rodney replied, though he stopped and turned to him. "Why?''

"Oh, no reason," Sheppard drawled, hands in his pockets. "I just thought that maybe you'd..."

"I'd...?"

John pulled a hand out of his pocket and made a flittering little gesture, one he'd learned from Rodney during the last night of his time speaking in tongues.

"Ah," Rodney understood it, eyebrows raising speculatively. "And you mean...now...?"

"I've got the time if you do," Sheppard explained.

Rodney's eyes lit up in a way that Sheppard hadn't know they could until a few nights before. "Well...for that, I'm sure I can find the time."

"Good."

"Yes, wonderful." Rodney sort of slapped his hands together in a studied act of casualness that fooled no one. "So shall we...?" He jerked a thumb to the left, indicating movement and meeting and place.

"I know just the place," John told him, gesturing for him to head down one of the hallways. "C'mon."

Rodney grinned, nodded and headed down the hall, John right beside him, shoulders brushing very odd step. As they turned down onto an empty corridor, Sheppard dared to let his hand skim over Rodney's back in a guiding gesture and McKay glanced over at him, their eyes holding for a moment.

It turned out that they didn't need words between them after all.

The End

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