The World According to Rover XIX
Look Whoís Coming to Dinner

Orithain and Rina

March 2006

Disclaimers: We only wish they were ours. Sadly, this is as close as weíre going to get.

"McKayís gone insane." After announcing that fact, Ronon dropped down onto the chair across from John and started eating his meal, apparently not wanting to elaborate on the comment.

John looked up, one eyebrow rising. "You mean you didnít already think he was insane?"

"I did," Zelenka growled as he joined them, coffee in hand and ignoring the tray of food Reza set in front of him. "But this is insane even for him. He wanted me to dust the lab!"

The second eyebrow winged up to join its mate. "Okay, that is weird. Was he possessed by the spirit of some Ancient housewife?"

Radek suddenly found his food fascinating, leaving it to Ronon to answer. After all, the Satedan had no idea what was about to happen.

Ronon shrugged and swallowed his mouthful, washing it down with a drink before answering. "All I know is I heard him ordering everyone around, complaining that Col. Carter would think the labs were a mess." He paused and took another drink. "I didnít stay around to get drafted."

John froze, his coffee cup halfway to his mouth. After a moment, he carefully set it down on the table. "Col. Carter is coming here?" he asked in a deceptively calm voice, making Radek flinch.

"All of SG1 is." Radek winced at the expression in the hazel eyes.

"And just how long have these plans been known?"

"Rodney only mentioned this morning. Ask him!"

"I think I will." John pushed away from the table and moved toward the transporter, nodding briefly at Lorne as they passed.

"Whoa, scary! Whatís wrong with the colonel?" Lorne asked, veering toward Zelenka and Ronon instead of getting his meal right away.

"Col. Carterís coming here," Radek replied, making the majorís eyes widen.

"Sam Carter?" he asked, apparently hoping it was some other Col. Carter. When Radek nodded, he groaned. "If Dr. McKay pants after her like he used to, Sheppardís going to shoot someone!"

"If I were you, Iíd be more concerned about staying out of Dr. Jackson and Gen. OíNeillís way, sir," Bates commented from the next table over.

"Whatís all the fuss about?" Carson asked as he sat down next to Radek and looked around at the others.

"SG1ís coming to visit," Radek answered gloomily. "Rodneyís obsessing about Col. Carter; Col. Sheppard is jealous; and Maj. Lorne seems to have history with Dr. Jackson and Gen. OíNeill. I think I liked the Wraith invasion better."

Carson chuckled at that. "I hope ye know enough not to touch Dr. Jacksonís artifacts this time, lad," he said, grinning at Maj. Lorne before looking at Radek. "And why do ye look so glum? It isnít as if ye have feuds with any of them."

"Iím not going to be able to get any work done with Rodney drooling over Col. Carter and John growling at both of them," Radek grumbled.

"If he does, Sheppard will probably lock him in a room until Carterís gone," Ronon commented.

Radek cheered up at the thought. "Then I would be able to work. Perhaps Iíll suggest it to him."

John strode from the transporter to Rodneyís lab, barely noticing the people who all but flattened themselves against the walls in their eagerness to stay out of his way. "Rodney!" he growled as he stepped inside, his eyes unerringly finding his lover.

Rover eagerly rolled over to greet him, but Rodney just distractedly waved a hand as he continued sorting through assorted odds and ends on a bench. John reached down to pat the cart, but his narrowed gaze never left Rodney.

"Is there something youíd like to tell me?"

"Hmm? What are you talking about, John?" Rodney asked, finally turning to look at him.

"Is there some reason youíre making the lab shine?"

Rodney blinked at that, then nodded. "Ahh. You heard that members of the SGC are coming in on the Daedalus, I take it?"

John glowered, arms crossed.

When everyone else in the lab suddenly found a reason to leave, Rodney sighed. "And that Col. Carter is one of those members."

The sound of Johnís teeth grinding was clearly audible in the now empty lab.

"I just found out today myself!"

"And all youíve done is spiff up the lab since you did! You never clean for me!"

"You arenít going to be examining the lab, are you?"

John actually growled, causing Rover to zip back to hover between him and Rodney.

"Are you jealous of the fact that Samís coming here, John?"

"Iím... not happy about the fact that sheís not even here and youíre already trying to impress her," John snapped.

"Well, of course I am! For once Iím the one with the advantage of knowing everything thatís going on, not the unwanted interloper coming in."

"And it has nothing to do with blonde hair, legs up to here, and a brain in the same class as your own?"

Rodney sputtered to a stop, and he stared at John.. "Of course it has something to do with her; sheís the only one who has an iota of a chance of understanding what weíve found here, but thatís the only reason."

John didnít look convinced as his gaze moved over the nearly sparkling lab.

"Just because I wanted to place to look neat doesnít mean I want to fuck her in here!"

"So youíve thought about fucking her!"

"Tell me you didnít just say that."

John just stood there pouting at him.

Rodneyís eyes narrowed. "Thatís what you think of me?"

"Itís Sam Carter. Youíve been obsessing about her as long as Iíve known you," John said sulkily.

"Ahh, so apparently this means that the moment she arrives, Iím going to leave you and throw myself at her; thank you for clarifying that." Rodneyís voice was brittle and clipped.

John sighed, slumping, and raked a hand through his hair. "If it was anyone else, anyone else, Iíd never even think about it. But you threw this woman in my face for months, and sheís gorgeous and a genius, and youíre cleaning for her!"

"And I never slept with her, unlike you and some people I could mention," Rodney snapped.

"I think that worries me more," John admitted, staring at his hands. "Sheíll always be the one you wanted but didnít get."

Rodney took a deep breath and drew himself up, glaring icy daggers at John. "I will tell you this once, and once only; Sam Carter was a dream that kept me warm in Russia, that is all. Youíre the one I wanted and got, and if you donít think you can trust me, then fuck you, Colonel."

"Of course I trust you!" John groaned in frustration. "Iím jealous, okay? Youíre not the only one whoís prone to it. I know weíre foreveróand could I sound any more like a Hallmark card?--but that doesnít mean Iím going to like the idea of past flames coming to visit."

"How about if I promise never to be alone with her?" Rodney let out a slow breath and some of the tension left his body. "And I suppose Iíd react the same way if she came to visit again."

John sighed. "No, thatís ridiculous. You donít need a chaperone. Though you should expect me to drop in pretty frequently."

"As if I ever mind that."

John moved toward Rodney, Rover rolling out the way now that they werenít growling at each other, and kissed him. "Sorry," he said a little while later.

"I suppose I did go a little bit overboard," Rodney sighed, leaning his forehead on Johnís shoulder.

"Radek and Ronon ran away and hid from you, Rodney."

"Theyíre both cowards."

"They both think youíre insane."

"And what do you think?"

"That theyíre right. But I happen to love you, insanity and all, so thatís fine."

Rodney snorted. "Iím so happy to hear that."

"And?" John pouted at him.

"I think youíre insane as well?"

"Rodney!" John whined.

Rodney chuckled. "And I love you too."

"About time," John grumbled, wrapping his arms around Rodneyís waist and leaning into him.

"Well, if you hadnít come in here gunning for bear, maybe you would have heard it earlier!"

"Fine, fine, now can we go back to our room for the make up sex?"

Rodney glanced around the lab but quickly turned his gaze back to John when he realized what he was doing. "I say thatís a wonderful idea."

John was regarding him narrowly again. "Unless youíd rather keep cleaning?" he asked with a faint bite. "On second thought, never mind. Weíre going back to our room and Iím fucking you till you couldnít pick up a duster if your life depended on it!"

"I said it was a wonderful idea!" Rodney protested.

"After checking your lab, but thatís okay. Iím going to be the only thing on your mind soon." John steered him toward the door.

"Yes, John, whatever you say, John," Rodney nodded, glancing back over his shoulder and stifling a snicker when he saw Rover pick up the dust cloth and go back to work in the lab.

"Good answer." John crowded him into the transporter and started kissing him, ignoring the startled exclamation from the person already inside. Since the Daedalus wasnít back yet, he wasnít too worried about hiding.

Reaching out without breaking the kiss, Rodney hit the panel, sending all three of them to the transporter nearest their room. "Hope this was where you were going," he laughed as John dragged him into the hall.

"Since I have a Canadian of my own waiting in my room, yup," Tom Lorne chuckled, following them since his room was just past theirs.

"Smart man," John praised.

"I thought we had plans, John; why are you chatting?"

"Because it doesnít slow us down from getting to our room! Have fun, Tom!" And the door shut behind them, and John pushed Rodney against the wall, practically devouring him.

Rodney groaned, sliding his hands down Johnís back to cup his ass, as he pulled John closer against him. John went willingly, grinding against Rodney until they were both panting and tearing at each otherís clothes, desperate to get rid of the barriers between them.

"Need you, John," Rodney gasped, shoving his pants down and stroking his cock.

"Youíve got me." John pulled him to the bed, not willing to let go long enough to get the lube. "Get down on all fours for me, Rodney," he rasped. "I want to ride you hard and deep."

Rodney shuddered and whimpered, moving quickly to situate himself, resting his weight on his elbows while spreading his legs wide. John stared down at the naked man, his breath coming faster as he shoved his own remaining clothes off. As soon as he was free of them, he knelt between Rodneyís legs, slotting his cock between the firm buttocks and rocking against him while reaching for the lube on the nightstand.

"Now, damnit," Rodney hissed, rubbing back against Johnís cock, wanting to be filled.

"Pushy bottom," John laughed breathlessly, squirting some of the gel directly onto Rodneyís ass and stroking more onto himself, then pushing forward without any further preparation, neither of them willing to wait. He moved slowly and carefully as he felt Rodneyís body slowly open to him, and he was groaning before he was halfway in.

"Oh yes." Rodney moaned and pushed back, wanting everything John could give him.

"Mine, all mine," John growled, lowering his head to bite the nape of Rodneyís neck, not breaking the skin but letting him feel it. Rodney whimpered and rested his head on his forearms, tightening his ass as they moved together. John groaned at the sensation and moved more rapidly. He reached around Rodney to curl a fist around his erection, pumping it in time with his thrusts.

"Always," Rodney nodded, twisting between Johnís hand and cock until he shuddered and came, unable to hold out any longer. John groaned harshly, not wanting to come yet but unable to resist the sheer overwhelming pleasure of Rodney spasming around him. He drove into him only a few more times before crying out sharply and collapsing over Rodney, driving them both flat, as he came hard.

"I could grow to like this side of you," Rodney murmured, for once not complaining about being crushed beneath Johnís weight.

"Iím shocked," John said, managing to sound wry even as he panted. "And just so you know, itís not a matter of trust; I do trust you. I just donít like knowing that you find someone else attractive, even if I know youíd never do anything about it. And I donít care that it doesnít make sense!"

"Well, it doesnít," Rodney chuckled, shifting enough to slide John off his back so that he could breathe, "but I understand what you mean, and I promise, I think youíre hotter than Sam."

"Good answer." John pressed a kiss to Rodneyís shoulder blade before rolling to his back and catching one of Rodneyís hands in his.

"So, did you hear just when theyíll be here?" Rodney finally asked.

"You mean you donít know? No, I didnít stop to talk to Elizabeth. Radek and Rononóno, actually, mostly Ronon come to think of itótold me about our upcoming visitors."

"No, I know; I just wondered if you did."

John turned his head to peer suspiciously at Rodney. "Why? When are they arriving?"

Rodney pushed up to his elbows and looked at his watch. "When the Daedalus gets in, which is in a few hours."

John gritted his teeth. "I guess you need to get back to your lab then."

"Well, you could come with me," Rodney offered.

"Okay," John instantly replied, clearly still not happy about Samantha Carterís visit and determined to make it clear that Rodney wasnít available.

"Good." Rodney leaned over and kissed John on the forehead. "Now we need to go get cleaned up; then Iím sure Rover will find a dust cloth for you." He grinned slightly at the last.

John snorted. "I think heís more likely to dust me."

Rodney had to chuckle at that. "If we take a shower, heíll have no excuse to think youíre dusty."

"Then heíll polish me," John pretended to grumble. "And thatís something I reserve strictly for you."

"Only certain parts of you. Now come on or we wonít have time for a shower, and I refuse to greet our guests smelling like sex!"

John seemed to think that wasnít a bad idea, but Rodneyís dirty look soon convinced him otherwise, and he got up and headed for the shower. "Slave driver."

"Whine, whine, whine," Rodney laughed, rolling out of bed himself and wincing when he felt the pull of stretched muscles.

"Gonna make it up to me tonight?" John asked over his shoulder before stepping under the hot water with a groan of contentment.

"Iím not sure Iím going to be able to move!" Rodney protested, hobbling into the shower and nudging John over.

"Just lie back and think of Atlantis," John suggested, chuckling.

"Oh shut up," Rodney laughed, smacking John on the ass.

"You know, you never want me to talk. Iím going to start thinking you only want me for sex," John teased.

"Well, you are a slut..."

"So are you. But only for me!"

"And the problem with this is..."

"None at all." John turned to face him, his hands coming to rest on Rodneyís hips as the water plastered his hair to his head. "It works out well."

"Exactly." Rodney brushed a kiss over Johnís lips before stepping back. "Now shower; weíve got a lot to do and not much time to do it."

John reached for the shampoo and started lathering up his hair. "Well, you could wash my back to save time, you know."

Rodney chuckled at that and shook his head. "I know you too well, Colonel; washing your back does not save us time in the shower."

"Spoilsport." But John was grinning as he said it, and he was already rinsing the suds from the dark hair before shaking his head, spraying Rodney with water. The colonel liked to play in the shower, and usually Rodney indulged him.

"Deadline!" Rodney shot back though he did goose John in retaliation.

"Hey!" John yelped and jumped, rubbing his abused posterior. "Iíll report you for spousal abuse!" Rover appeared at the edge of the enclosure but quickly retreated again after making sure no one was actually hurt. Heíd ended up wet often enough to know to keep his distance when they were in the shower.

"To who?" Rodney snorted, reaching for the shampoo.

"Um, to myself, of course," John laughed. "Or Elizabeth, sheíd protect me from you."

"If she believed it!"

"True. And then thereís the issue of my reputation. Some senior officer Iíd be if I got beaten up by my own geek."

"I am not totally helpless, you know!" Rodney protested.

"Iím well aware of that, Rodney. Youíve saved my life often enough." John soaped up his chest as he spoke, pretending he didnít notice Rodneyís eyes following his hands.

"The opposite is true, of course, and stop trying to distract me!"

"Iím taking a shower! That usually involves washing," John retorted.

Rodney scowled. "Yes, but you do it so... lewdly, and we have a very short timeframe here!"

John stared from Rodney to his chest, where suds were being washed away by the streams of water. "Youíre nuts," he stated, nodding his head sharply.

Rodney sniffed and bent over to wash his feet. "If I am, itís because of you; I was perfectly sane until we met."

John lost track of the conversation as he stared at Rodneyís ass. "Mmmm."

"Hmm what?" Rodney looked up and almost lost his balance. "John!"

"What?" John replied defensively. "I didnít say anything, and I didnít touch you!"

"Youíre looking at me!"

"Well, Iím not blind!"

Rodney just groaned and straightened up, turning his back on John so that he could finish washing. Chuckling, John turned as well and washed up, behaving himself for the moment. Soon finished, he stepped out of the shower and dried off before padding back into the bedroom to pull on a fresh uniform, even though he was technically off duty that day.

Rodney dressed in silence, his quick movements the only display of his growing nervousness. "So," he said briskly, once he was done, "shall we go to the lab?"

"Sure, Iíll polish test tubes for my competition," John replied, his tone making it clear that he was teasing.

"You do that, and Iíll polish yours later tonight." Rodney grinned as he spoke, taking a sidestep when Rover pushed in between them.

Leaning down briefly to pat Rover, John shook his head as he straightened up. "Iím never sure if heís demanding his share of the attention or making sure we donít get distracted. And for the record, Iím going to hold you to that."

"Possibly a bit of both, and how about you polish him up while Iím..." They reached the lab, and Rodney paused, surprised into silence by the sight of all the other carts busily cleaning every surface they could reach. "Rover, you commandeered a chain gang," he laughed.

The cart managed to radiate smugness, making John chuckle. "You take good care of us, Rover." He frowned slightly and opened his mouth to say something when he saw Loki moving toward the Bunsen burners, but he relaxed again when Lunchmeat and Maemi got in the way and nudged Loki in another direction. Clearly the carts had it in hand.

Rodney nodded distractedly and made a circuit of the lab, checking experiments and simulations, assuring himself that everything was in order, sending carts scuttling out of the way with his approach.

"Rodney, youíre worse than an expectant father. Come over here and help me buff Rover. You want him to look his best."

"Hrmmm? Oh yes, yes, we should do that. Do you think his hand needs a touch-up?"

John didnít, but he was fairly certain that trying to convince Rodney of that would be pointless, and considering that Rover settled to the ground in front of him, he thought the cart agreed. He went to get some paint from a cabinetótheyíd started keeping a small quantity of the colors needed for the various cartsí insignias after the first time one of the marks got scraped and Reza pouted for days because it had taken several hours to get it fixedóand sat down to touch up the white hand on Roverís side.

Rodney squatted down behind John, nodding approvingly when the insignia was brightened up, then leaned in and kissed John on the temple. "Thank you. I know Iím being crazy about this, but I canít help it."

"You can make it up to me tonight."

"I think I can be persuaded to do that." Rodney jerked and looked up when the city-wide intercom came on and Chuck Bryan announced that the Daedalus was incoming.

"After you show off for Col. Carter," John sighed.

"Ummm... I love you?"

"A bit less of a question if you please." John kissed him hard. "Come on, letís go meet them."

Rodney caught John by the arm and pulled him into a kiss. "I love you," he stated firmly.

John beamed at him. "I love you too, even when youíre acting like an idiot."

Rodney sniffed. "More like a proud parent, now come on, we need to get to Elizabethís office."

"Yes, Rodney," John said, but he was smiling as he walked out of the lab, knowing that Rodney and Rover were following. "I donít want to hear any blond comments," he warned.

"No blonde comments," Rodney sighed. "Will you get it through your head that I love you and want to spend the rest of our lives togetheróthough yours may not be that long considering your attitude!"

"Tell you what. Iíll stop complaining about blondes when you stop complaining about alien priestesses!"

Rodney opened his mouth to snap back but thought better of it. "Deal; not that itís possible, but, deal."

John stopped abruptly and swung around, catching Rodney in his arms for a quick hug and kiss. "I was just joking, you know. Mostly. I know youíre not actually going to dump me for a blonde, brainy colonel. The only thing she has that I donít is the blonde part, and Iím pretty sure Iíve convinced you that brunettes are more fun."

"Or we could find some peroxide..."

"NO!" John gave him a dirty look. "Unless you want to wake up some morning to find yourself a redhead," he threatened.

"I think not!" Rodney glowered in return as they entered Elizabethís office.

She eyed their expressions and decided not to ask. Sheíd learned the hard way that when she did, they answered, and she was out of Excedrin until she got the new supply from the Daedalus. "Ready for our visitors?" she asked instead, hiding a smile when Johnís frown darkened.

"Some of us are anyway," Rodney answered, smirking when Rover poked John in the thigh.

John moved so that Rodney was between him and Rover, ignoring both Elizabeth and Rodneyís smiles. "Oh, yeah, heís ready. Heís polished every test tube in his lab and is ready to dazzle Col. Carter with his brilliance. Or at least blind her with the brilliant reflections," he chuckled.

"You know, when he bursts a blood vessel talking to Gen. OíNeill about the jumpers, Iím just going to laugh," Rodney commented to the air.

John ignored him again, moving to Elizabethís side to greet the new arrivals they could see coming up the stairs.

"Gen. OíNeill, Dr. Jackson, Col. Carter, Col. Mitchell, Tealíc, welcome to Atlantis," Elizabeth greeted, smiling as she watched them take it in.

"Thank you, Dr. Weir, itís wonderful to be here," Daniel enthused, shaking her hand, then John and Rodneyís as well.

"I will put a leash on you to get you home again," Jack muttered, making John, who was close enough to hear, snicker.

"It wonít help, Jack," he said under cover of the various greetings. "But eventually heíll follow if you start to leave." The two officers shared a commiserating glance.

"Tealíc, itís good to see you again," Paul Davis smiled, greeting the tall Jaffa warmly.

"And you, Col. Davis," Tealíc replied, inclining his head gravely.

"Love what youíve done with the place," Jack said, making Elizabeth chuckle.

On a balcony across the way, Radek and several of the other scientists were observing the new arrivals. "I wonder if Gen. OíNeillís gene is stronger than Col. Sheppardís," he mused.

"I donít think you should suggest a contest or anything like that," Miko Takata said seriously.

"Colonels, I hope your trip was calm," Rodney finally said, hoping that greeting Sam and Mitchell together would keep him off the hook with John.

"Nice and quiet," Cam Mitchell grinned, "which is a change from the normal as far as I can tell."

Close by Rodneyís side, John chuckled. "I think that might be a new phenomenon, Colonel. Careful or the geek squad will want to run experiments on you to find out how you managed it." He moved slightly to the side as Rover pushed past, clearly intent on inspecting these newcomers.

"What is that?" Mitchell asked, staring at the cart.

"He is Rover, an Ancient-designed artificial intelligence that works with me," Rodney said firmly.

"Whoís quite likely to express his displeasure with those pincers if you annoy him or McKay," Jack warned, leaning down to pat Rover briefly. "Hi Rover. I see youíre keeping these two in line."

"There are a lot of them in Atlantis," John added, enjoying the somewhat shell-shocked expression on the other colonelís face. "You can tell them apart by the insignia. Rover has a hand." The cart obligingly turned so the new arrivals could see it.

"Iíve read about them but missed meeting him when you were on Earth," Sam commented, squatting down to look at Rover, who rolled over to her, his sensors flashing.

"Great, heís just like Rodney, falls for the blondes," John commented wryly.

"Be careful, Rover; Reza and Ciora will come after you if you dump them," Rodney grinned, making the cart back away from Sam and the others laugh. And only just in time as Reza suddenly floated over from the balcony where sheíd been with Radek, observing the meeting, and settled between Rover and the blonde colonel.

Chuckling, John patted her. "Donít worry, Reza; Rover would never cheat on the two of you. He knows better."

Rover shuddered and scooted closer to Reza, finding himself bracketed in when Ciora joined them as well.

"And I thought I couldnít be surprised any more," Mitchell murmured.

Tealíc nodded. "It would seem that is not the case."

"Welcome to Atlantis," John said with a grin. "We guarantee that youíll never be bored. And you might even go home with a new friend if you have the gene." He smirked at Jack, who looked horrified.

"Just donít want anything, General, or you might end up with a cart," Rodney commented, making all of the Atlantis personnel laugh.

"There are rules against threatening generals, you know," Jack said, peering around warily.

"You could always retire here and get a cart to help you build a cabin," John chuckled.

"Youíd have to find a pond with no fish in it," Daniel laughed, causing confused looks on the Atlantis crewís faces.

"Well, I can suggest a nice island. Rodney and I are planning to build our own place on one side of it, but thereís room for another house or two and a few nearby islands as well for our own little community of lifers." John smiled at Elizabeth as he spoke. "Iím not sure about no fish, but you could always leave the line off your pole."

"I take my fishing very seriously," Jack said loftily, making his entire team snicker.

"I am sure my people could show you many ponds on the mainland, General," Teyla offered graciously.

"A tour. Didnít someone say something about a tour?" Jack asked desperately.

"I canít wait to see the labs," Sam grinned.

"Yes, well," Rodney began before shooting John a sidelong glance, "why donít we show you all the general layout of the place, and then we can get to specifics."

John sighed. "Go be happy geeks. You may implode if you have to wait much longer. Iím sure we can find ways to occupy ourselves till I have to get Rover to pry you out of the lab for dinner."

Watching the byplay, Jack chuckled. He used to react the same way every time Daniel got involved with another alien princess, but it was a lot funnier to watch.

Rodney patted Johnís arm and smiled. "You can go show Gen. OíNeill and Col. Mitchell all the lovely things that go boom if you want."

"And what about Tealíc and me?" Daniel asked, trying hard not to laugh.

"I was hoping you would have some to review a translation of a section of the database that Iíve been working on, Daniel," Elizabeth said. "I think I dream in Ancient now, but this one section just doesnít make sense, no matter what I try."

"And Tealícís more than welcome to join us if you like," John offered, nodding to the Jaffa, "or Teyla and Ronon might enjoy a chance for a three-person workout." He quirked a grin. "You can compare stories about being a non-Earth human on a team with a bunch of us."

The tall Jaffa nodded at that. "I would enjoy both the chance to view your weapons and to speak to my counterparts here."

"Great," Rodney smiled, rubbing his hands together. "So now that the tour groups are settled, shall we?" He caught Radekís eye and nodded toward the transporter, wanting the other group to join him and Sam.

Following Rodneyís gesture, John grinned and pulled him in for a quick kiss, ignoring the sudden inhalation from Mitchell, whoíd pretended to miss the earlier comment about them retiring together. Watching the colonel, Jack said warningly, "Things that happen in Atlantis stay in Atlantis, Mitchell."

After a moment, Mitchell nodded. Heíd read the reports and knew what these men, what the entire expedition in fact, had gone through, and anyone who thought they couldnít do their jobs because they were sleeping together was nuts.

By this time, Radek and the other scientists had joined them, Reza scooting over to greet him while Ciora stayed close to Rover and between him and Sam Carter. "Back to the labs now?" the Czech asked hopefully.

Looking away from where the others were all grouping together for their various tours, Rodney nodded and made the introductions, including the carts in them.

"And they all have distinct, different personalities?" Sam asked, eyeing the carts covetously as if wanting to take one apart to see how it worked. All of the carts edged closer to their companions, and Reza clacked her pincers menacingly.

Rodney cleared his throat and rested a protective hand on Roverís sensor array. "Most of them seem to take their dominant personality traits from the person they imprinted on; they are autonomous in a limited fashion, except for Rover of course." He beamed down at his own cart in pride.

Radek patted Reza soothingly, but he too kept a wary eye on the blonde colonel.

"Maybe you should show Col. Carter the inactive carts still in storage," John suggested, easing himself between her and Rover without even realizing he was doing it.

"Iíd love to be able to examine one that wasnít initialized," Sam said hopefully.

"Iím sure we can arrange that." Rodney patted both John and Rover to soothe them.

"Try not to blow anything up," John chuckled with a final pat to Rover before leading the other warrior types toward the transporter. "We may need the city tomorrow."

"At least Daniel never did that," Jack snickered.

"Ingrates, the lot of them," Rodney sniffed as he shepherded Sam toward the transporter as well.

John looked over his shoulder. "Iím supposed to thank you for trying to kill us all?"

"And just how many times have I saved you?"

"About as many as Iíve saved you." Johnís grin was the last thing the scientists saw as the transporter doors slid shut.

"I hate the military," Rodney grumbled before catching the look Sam gave him. "Present company excepted of course."

"Of course," she replied dryly.

Radek snorted. "If you hate the colonel, Iíd hate to see how youíd act if you liked him."

"If you canít be useful, leave," Rodney growled toward the snickering Czech.

"Iím always useful. I keep the rest of the science team from rising up and killing you." Radek gave him a toothy grin.

"Rover would protect me," Rodney grumbled, ignoring Samís barely suppressed laughter.

Rover clacked his pincers menacingly, and Reza darted between them, nudging him away from Radek.

"Why donít you show me what youíve been working on?" Sam suggested, smiling.

"This is amazing," Daniel sighed ecstatically as he followed Elizabeth down the corridor.

"It is, isnít it?" Elizabeth looked around, seeing the city again through a newcomerís eyes, and she smiled. "Itís astounding to think that the Ancients were walking through this very city ten million years ago on Earth, isnít it? I look forward to the day we have time to explore it properly and truly learn about the Ancientsí culture."

"Iím looking forward to exploring what I can while Iím here." Daniel paused and leaned in to study a series of glyphs on a wall. "Maybe something we learn here will help us with the Ori."

"Itís possible," Elizabeth nodded. "Since the Ori were unaware of human life on Earth until recently, they had to have split off from the Alterans some time before Atlantis was abandoned, so itís entirely possible that there will be data on them. We have been looking as time permits, but there are just so many priorities," she said apologetically.

"No need to apologize, I understand the situation far too well, though that isnít going to stop me from digging as deeply into your database as possible."

"Be my guest. Iíll try to free up some time to help out when I can, and Iím sure some of the linguists and anthropologists will be happy to help as well."

"Iíd appreciate the help; with only a limited time here, I need to get as much done as possible."

"You mean you want to find something that you can use as leverage to come back again," Elizabeth chuckled. "I have to admit to some surprise that you didnít come to Atlantis once regular transit was established."

Daniel chuckled ruefully. "Iím sure you read the report as to what happened with Vala and the bracelets, and now with the new threat of the Ori, I need to stay."

She nodded, understanding the pull of duty. "Hopefully, someday weíll all be able to make choices without having to take such things into consideration. Iím rather partial to John and Rodneyís plan to retire to one of the islands on this planet and spend the remainder of my life enjoying fun in the sun with good friends and the right partner."

Daniel chuckled and smiled wistfully. "That sounds like an excellent goal, Dr. Weir."

"You and the general should consider adopting it as your own."

"Oh, we have; itís just making the rest of the universe go along with it that seems to be the issue."

She smiled ruefully. "Yes, Iíve noticed that as well. But I have confidence in Rodneyís ability to bend the universe to his own ends."

"More to the point, he has confidence in his ability to bend the universe to his own ends."

"Probably because it keeps being proven," Elizabeth chuckled. "Fortunately for all of us."

"At least he doesnít keep a running tallyóor does he?"

"No oneís ever dared to ask!"

Daniel chuckled at that. "I may have to before we leaveóor maybe Iíll have Jack do it."

"You do realize that if he says heíd never thought of it and starts because you suggested it to him, Iím going to have to kill you?" Elizabeth laughed.

"Iím sure Col. Sheppard will find a way to distract him."

"Now that sounded like the voice of experience. Although considering the people involved, Iíd say itís more likely you who has to distract the general."

"It depends on the situation," Daniel answered with a grin.

"And civilian or not, Iím definitely not asking," Elizabeth laughed. "Iím afraid you might tell me, and I get enough of that from everyone in the city."

"Well, I could ask about you..."

"Why, Dr. Jackson, you know a lady never tells."

"True, Dr. Weir, but that wonít stop me from asking other people..."

She laughed again. "It really is the quiet ones you have to watch. But unlike some people, I keep my private life private, so I think Paul and I are fairly safe."

"Paul, eh?" Danielís expression was one of total innocence.

"Oh, like you didnít know," she scoffed. "We have the only intergalactic grape vine."

His grin grew wider. "So, whenís the wedding?"

Elizabeth shook her head. "Weíve only known each other for a couple of months, Daniel!" she laughed.

"Not while weíre here then, I suppose." He chuckled and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Weíd better get an invitation when it happens though."

"If it ever happens, you can be certain of it."

"Glad to hear it."

She eyed him. "Youíve been spending too much time with Jack. Youíre starting to sound like him."

"For that, Iím spreading gossip about you all over the SGC," Daniel mock-glowered.

"You fight dirty!" she laughed. "Just like the general."

"Iíve learned you sometimes have to," Daniel replied.

She sobered abruptly, remembering some of the times sheíd fought dirty. "Does it ever get any easier?" she asked softly, knowing that Daniel of all people would understand.

He shook his head. "No, but thatís a good thing; itís when it does that you have to worry about your humanity."

"I worry about that regardless. I make decisions now that I would never have made two years ago." She frowned, staring down at her hands. "Iím sometimes not sure that Iím the right person to be here."

"Again, when you worry about that, it generally means you are the right person. I know what you mean though; Iíve done things since joining the program that would have horrified my old self, but we grow or we die, and, having done the last a few times, I prefer to grow."

Elizabeth laughed wryly. "Yes, you and your team do seem to die with disturbing frequency." She shook her head. "Thank you, Daniel. It helps to be able to talk about it with someone who understands."

"Itís my pleasure," he smiled, "though as payback, feel free to tell me more gossip."

"Youíre incorrigible," she chuckled. "So who do you want to know about?" They shared a grin.

"So, have you ever considered using zats on the Wraith?" Mitchell asked as he examined one of the stunners in the makeshift armory.

"I understand that we donít have a whole lot of those to play around with," John shrugged. "Which is why none were included in the original expedition supplies, since we werenít expecting to walk into a war zone, and I guess since weíve survived this long without Ďem, the powers that be decided we donít need Ďem. Personally, Iíd be all in favor of a weapon that disintegrated a damn near unkillable enemy."

Jack nodded. "I can see why."

"I still like my gun better," Ronon commented with a shrug.

"Might I see your weapon?" Tealíc asked, examining the gun after Ronon handed it over.

"He has an almost unhealthy attachment to that gun," John confided sotto voce to Jack and Cameron, making the general grin.

"I donít think Iíd tell him that," he replied, and Johnís eyes widened as he shook his head vehemently.

Tealíc weighed the weapon in his hand, lifted it and sighted along the barrel before firing at a target at the other end of the room. "Impressive," he commented.

"Forget zats, you all should get some more of those," Cam chuckled.

"Or just turn Ronon and Tealíc loose on the Wraith," John said, his eyes a little wide. "My moneyíd be on them."

Jack chuckled. "Yeah, Tís pretty impressive."

Cam nodded. "Just remind me not to get in between the two of them if they get in an argument."

Jack shuddered theatrically. "AVP anyone?"

"A movie involving two sets of lethal aliens," Tealíc informed Ronon, who shrugged in answer.

John snickered. "I see your point. But Teyla would go after anyone who hurt Ronon."

"Why do I get the feeling sheís the more dangerous one?" Cam asked.

"Because youíre not just a dumb grunt." John grinned at the other colonel. "Teyla was the leader of her people before we ever came to Atlantis. And sheís learned a lot from us since she joined us. Including a lot of training with the Marines."

Jack nodded. "Weíve both been lucky in the allies weíve made." He looked over at Tealíc and Ronon, who seemed to be comparing their weapons.

"Which is why youíre alive," Ronon called over.

"Yes, Ronon, youíre my hero," John retorted. "Whoíd have thought there could be an ego to challenge Rodneyís?" he snorted.

"As you can see, weíve had to be conservative about our power usage because of the single ZPM we have," Rodney commented as he led Sam around the main power relay station. "The second one we found would have opened a lot of new areas of study, but, then we have to send it back to Earth." He sounded somewhat annoyed over that fact, and Rover butted up against his leg in a sympathetic manner.

"I understand there are still at least three more ZPMs in this galaxy that you could find. Or find again," Sam amended, remembering what had happened on Dagan. "What we really need is to figure out how to make them ourselves."

Frowning slightly at the memory of his part in that debacle, Rodney nodded. "Yes, Iíve been trying to work on that in my copious amounts of free time."

Sam chuckled. "Itís hard when youíre out in the field all the time, isnít it? But Iím willing to bet that there are nights when that colonel of yours naps in the corner of the lab so you can spend some time together despite you working." Her smile dimmed. "At least he can do that."

"Well, yes, he does do that from time to time," Rodney said smugly before seeing her expression. "I take it the person youíre involved with canítóif there is a person, that is."

"There isnít. Now. Because he couldnít." Sam shrugged. "Even when they know about the program, if theyíre not part of it, it just doesnít work. Nobody who doesnít live it can understand our lives."

Rodney nodded and glanced over at her. "Iím umm... sorryóabout whatever it was that happened with whoever he was."

Sam smiled sadly. "Me too. I guess Iím just married to my career." There had been a time when sheíd thought maybe she and Jack might have something, and there had been those alternate realities where theyíd been together, but there was the whole chain of command thing and Daniel, and in the end they were much better friends than they ever could have been lovers. "Maybe someday," she shrugged.

"I could introduce you to some cute Athosians," Rodney offered, his expression serious until Sam gaped at him.

"I think Iíll thank Col. Sheppard for letting me borrow you."

"Umm, thatís all right, I think it might be better if you didnít do that," Rodney said quickly.

"Oh, but it would only be polite," Sam replied, trying not to laugh.

"He already thinks Iím fixated on you!"

"I know." She beamed at him before starting to laugh. "Oh, your expression!"

"Oh, thatís just so amusing," Rodney grumbled, glaring at her.

"I thought so too." She raised her hands in surrender, still laughing. "Donít worry, I know a jealous colonel when I see one. Iím not about to poke him."

"Good idea, he might not poke back, but Rover would." The cart brandished his pincers to emphasize the point.

"I would never dream of upsetting your little family," Sam promised with a grin. "And Iím glad for you, Rodney."

"Thank you." The smile Rodney gave Sam was wide and genuine. "Ióthank you."

"So show me what youíre working on."

"Pushy!" Rodney exclaimed before proudly doing just that.

"Okay, enough with the geeking out for the day, come up for air... and dinner," John said several days later when he and OíNeill came into the lab.

"What he said," Jack agreed.

"Just a minute," Rodney and Sam chorused.

"And you put up with two of them?" John shook his head. "I donít know how you survived."

Jack chuckled. "Carterís military and responds to orders barked at her. Daniel... well, Iím sure youíve figured that out for yourself." He grinned at John.

"Donít think we canít hear you," Rodney stated before he and Sam straightened up and he closed the housing on one of the inactive carts.

"Thatís what makes it fun," John pointed out, leaning in for a quick kiss.

"You are such an idiot," Rodney grumbled though he couldnít help but grin.

"Nice talk to the man youíre supposed to love."

"You should hear Daniel in the morning before heís had his coffee," Jack put in.

"Feeling the love here," Rodney commented.

"The ruleís Ďdonít tellí," Jack observed to the ceiling. "Thereís nothing in it about showing."

"I like the way you think, General." John grabbed Rodney and pulled him close for a very long, very thorough kiss that involved a lot of tongue and even more groping.

"You know, Iím beginning to think I might have misjudged you, Rodney," Sam grinned.

John raised his head and frowned at her over Rodneyís shoulder. "Too late."

"Donít worry, Colonel, I was just commenting," she assured him.

"I wasnít worried, just stating a fact," he replied.

"You werenít worried?" Rodney asked.

John shook his head, meeting the blue eyes. "I trust you. Which doesnít mean Iím not going to get jealous sometimes, but I know weíre together. Besides," he added, trying to lighten the suddenly serious moment, "Rover would zap you if you cheated on me."

The cart zipped over, pushing his way between the newcomers and Ďhisí people.

"Same with you, you know," Rodney grinned.

"Iím not the one with a fetish for beautiful, brainy blondes."

Jack rolled his eyes.

"No, you just go for the ascended ones!"

"Didnít you say something about dinner, John?" Jack said hastily when he saw Johnís mouth open to reply.

With a glare at Rodney, John turned to face the general. "Yeah, we owe you and Daniel a dinner. I thought we could all have it in our quarters."

Rodney pulled John in for a kiss and a murmured apology before nodding. "Yes, I know Paul and Elizabeth were going to invite you and Col. Mitchell, Sam."

"And Teyla and Ronon seem to want to keep Tealíc," Jack chuckled. "Iíve barely seen him since the day we got here. Mitchell may have to stage a jail break to get him back to the SGC."

"Somehow I think heíll come back with us without a fight," Sam laughed.

"You donít have to tell Mitchell that," Jack chuckled, remembering the colonelís reaction when heíd discovered that heíd gotten SG-1 without the actual team members.

"You like torturing him, donít you?" Rodney asked.

"Itís one of the perks of the rank."

John snickered. "There has to be some advantage to being an officer."

"What are?" Daniel asked as he walked into the lab.

"Torturing underlings," Jack replied cheerfully.

"Rodney calls them minions," John said helpfully.

"I think Iíll go find Dr. Weir," Sam said, backing away.

"Sheís outside in the hall," Daniel laughed. "I think she was being prudent in not coming in."

"Chicken, you mean," Rodney commented.

"Remember that Iím still in charge and can assign Kavanagh to your team," Elizabeth called.

Jack snickered. "Go, Liz!"

"Rodney apologizes," John said, quickly slapping a hand over Rodneyís mouth.

Rodney grumbled from behind Johnís hand, then got an evil gleam in his eyes as he licked the palm covering his mouth.

John shuddered and gasped. "Unless youíre suddenly into exhibitionism, donít do that again," he rasped, his eyes hot as they stared into Rodneyís.

"And you owe us a dinner, so donít start getting ideas," Daniel added as he walked into the lab.

"Hold that thought," John murmured as he backed away from Rodney and turned around to face the other two men, Col. Carter having made her escape while he was distracted. "Okay, so dinner. We even have a balcony."

"Sounds great. All you need is a barbecue, and maybe a fishing rod, for perfection," Jack said.

Rodney shook his head. "We can live without the fishing rod, thanks."

"But Jack canít," Daniel laughed.

"But from what Iíve heard, fish arenít required," John chuckled.

"Hey, itís the essence of fishing," Jack protested.

"The OíNeill way," Daniel added.

"Where you make sure you stocked up at the grocery store if you want dinner," John laughed.

"It works for me." Jack grinned at them all.

"Iíd love to have you explain that concept to Halling," Rodney laughed.

Remembering some of his own attempts to explain things to Halling, John snickered.

"I think Iíll leave that to you," Jack replied. "Now what about this dinner?"

"Follow Rover; heíll get us there."

"Did he make us dinner too?" Daniel asked, patting the cart as it zipped by them.

"Youíd better hope so. Heís the best cook of the three of us," John replied with another grin.

"Iím following the cart and ignoring the conversation," Jack announced.

Daniel patted Jack on the back. "Think of it this way; itíll be more fun than political dinners."

"Being shot at is better than political dinners!"

Rodney shrugged. "We can promise we wonít do thatóRover might pinch you, though, if he feels slighted."

"Hey, I like Rover!"

"Good answer," John said with feeling, remembering the early days of his relationship with Rover. Then he patted the cart to let him know there were no hard feelings.

"I thought so. So will there be beer with this dinner?"

"Of course," John replied, looking offended. "Canadian beer or Athosian, Rodney refuses to let American in the room."

"Can you blame me?"

John and Jack rolled their eyes, both of them having heard similar comments from Daniel and Rodney. "Thereís nothing wrong with American beer," Jack said.

"If you have no taste buds!"

Daniel nodded. "I have to agree with Rodney on that one."

"And I like sex better than beer, so I can live without American beer," Jack confided to John, who nodded.

"Easy choice," he agreed.

"Are you feeling patronized?" Daniel asked Rodney.

"Yes, but I can live with it more than I can live without sex, so Iíll deal with it," Rodney chuckled.

"McKay wins that round," Jack judged, and Rover bobbed up and down in obvious agreement.

"Hrmmm, I know just what I want for my prize later."

"Wait till after we go back to our own room!" Jack said hastily, making John laugh.

"I said later!"

"He did," Daniel laughed.

"Just sayiní."

"And people say I have a weird command style?" John shook his head.

"Only the stuffed shirts," Rodney assured him.

"Thinking outside the box helps in the SGC," Jack said with a shrug.

"Forgetting thereís even a box works even better," Daniel added.

"I think everyone in this group has mastered that," John chuckled. "Thatís the only reason weíre all still alive."

"Yes, well hopefully we wonít need to think about anything other than enjoying our meal tonight."

John grinned. "I told them not to bother us unless the cityís sinking. And even then only if the shield fails."

"I like your style, Colonel."

"Why thank you, General."

"I wonder if we should leave them alone."

Daniel smiled. "If we did, theyíd drag us back in under thirty seconds."

"They know us so well," Jack chuckled.

"Yup. That makes it all even better." John slung an arm around Rodneyís shoulders, getting them all moving into the transporter.

"Say, General," Rodney commented, "how did you to manage on the trip out here?"

"Well, we didnít have a Wraith virus take over the ship and try to kill us all, if thatís what you mean," Jack said with a shrug.

"I meant the two of youóaround Caldwell," Rodney explained impatiently.

Daniel nodded. "Ah. Him."

"I outrank him. And I really think that if it comes down to him or me, the SGC would find me slightly more valuable. Besides, if they kick me out, Iíd just sign up as a civilian consultant and come here to retire." Jack smirked.

"Wonderful; you and John will spend your time fishing while I work and Daniel does... whatever he does!"

Jackís eyebrows rose as he stared at McKay. "Whatever he does?" Jack repeated in disbelief. "I dunno, finding Atlantis, understanding alien races, saving planets, dying." The last was a growl as he glared at Daniel.

Daniel chuckled and patted Jack on the arm as he watched Rodney duck behind John. "Ease down, General; no starting brawls in the corridor."

"No making me shoot a superior officer, please," John added. "There arenít many of those that I actually like."

"How about we just eat?" Rodney offered quickly as Rover opened the door to their room.

"Yeah, thatís probably best." Jack shrugged the tension out of his shoulders. "Sorry, I should be used to McKayís habit of sticking his foot in his mouth."

John tried not to snicker.

Rodney opened his mouth, then shut it again, making Daniel raise his eyebrows. "Impressive."

"Positive reinforcement," John murmured before kissing Rodney.

"Thatís what itís called."

"In polite company," Jack agreed, grinning.

"Then what do we call it?" Daniel chuckled.

"Hot sex!"

"I wonder if it comes with the gene..." Rodney muttered.

John grinned. "Canít be. Daniel doesnít have it."

"I meant the horrible senses of humor!"

"I think I have a very good sense of humor."

"What he said," Jack added emphatically.

Rodney groaned, but Daniel shook his head and laughed. "I think we need that beer now."

Rover opened four bottles of Canadian beer and offered them, making John laugh. "How did we ever survive before you?"

The cart waved a pincer, commenting that they didnít and making them all laugh.

"He has a point," John chuckled, leading them all out to the balcony.

"Sweet."

"He means thank you, Rover," Daniel commented.

Rodney chuckled. "Ever think youíd be translating for a cart?"

"Youíd probably better get used to it if youíre really planning to retire here," John said. "I think Atlantis has the carts under control right now, but if youíre here for long..." He trailed off with a grin that turned to full-fledged laughter when Jack grimaced.

"Better get ready for one," Rodney smirked.

"You know, Iíve heard Tahitiís really nice," Jack muttered.

"Nope," Daniel smiled, "weíre coming here."

"And the master has spoken," Jack said easily. "So itís up to you two to deal with the Wraith before then. I want a peaceful retirement. Danielís going to be my only excitement."

John snorted. "No offense, sir, Jack," he amended at the generalís look, "but things just happen around you."

"Pot, kettle," Daniel murmured.

"Itís not as if we arenít doing everything we can to get rid of them!" Rodney protested.

"Hopefully what Carsonís working on will help with that," John said even as he winced.

Jack nodded.

Rodney reached out and squeezed Johnís arm, running his thumb over the slightly rough patch of skin that was all that remained of his near transformation.

"Okay, so weird things happen around here too," John said wryly, covering Rodneyís hand with his.

"Itís one of the Ďperksí of being involved in the stargate program," Jack said.

"Are you sure theyíre perks?"

"Oh yeah, they are," Daniel mused before sipping his beer.

"Well, they come with hot Air Force officers for you scientific sorts," John said.

"Anthropologyís not..." Rodney began.

"Figured out the stargate," Daniel commented.

Jack and John exchanged a look and snickered.

"Fine, fine, you did that, but thatís you, not the field as a whole."

"Dinner," John said firmly, trying to step another argument. "Iím hungry." He chuckled when Rover offered him a plate of cheese and fruit. "Thanks, boy."

"You know, there might be something to this cart business," Jack mused, making John look over in alarm.

"Jack, do not go there unless you want to go home with one!"

"No, Jack," Daniel said firmly when a devilish gleam entered Jackís eyes.

"Aw, come on, canít you imagine a cart in one of those meetings with all the bigwigs with the sticks up their asses?"

"Jack..." Daniel warned.

"And then all the governments will want one, and we arenít exporting them." Rodney stroked a hand over Roverís sensor array.

Watching them, John grinned. "If ever I saw silent purring, thatís it."

"If heís like a cat, then why the dog-like name?"

Rodney chuckled as Rover pushed up against his chair. "It wasnít intentional."

"Itís more along the lines of a rover, you know, mobile sensor array they use on interplanetary missions," John explained.

"Makes sense," Jack nodded.

"That and I called him Rover the Wonder Cart to begin with." Rodney laughed. "Part of it stuck."

Rover nudged Rodneyís leg, and John chuckled. "Verbally. All of itís reality; he is a wonder cart." Rover radiated smugness.

"Watching him has me tempted to see if Dr. Beckettís therapy could work on me so I could take one on missions," Daniel mused.

Rover rubbed against Danielís leg even while Jack nearly yelped, "No!"

"Rover seems to approve," John observed.

"And we all know Rover has the best taste of any cart there is," Rodney laughed.

Daniel patted Rover and reached out to squeeze Jackís hand. "Donít worry, it was only a thought."

"A very scary one! Youíre going to have to make it up to me tonight. Iím too old for shocks like that," Jack said.

"If youíre too old for shocks, youíre too old for me to make it up to you," Daniel said serenely, causing Rodney to snicker.

Jack growled, which had no noticeable effect on Daniel, and John chuckled. "Give it up, Jack. They know they have us where they want us."

"And we enjoy you there," Rodney promised, leaning over to give John a kiss.

Rover nudged their legs, clearly reminding them that they had guests to attend to, and John chuckled as he looked down and patted the cart.

"Thanks, Rover," Jack said, looking smug.

"Fine, fine," Rodney huffed, "more drinks anyone?"

"Another beer?" Jack asked, setting his empty down only to have Rover whisk it away.

Rodney got up and gathered another round of drinks, finally surrendering them to Rover when the cart kept trying to push him out of the way.

"Is it like this all the time here?" Daniel asked, amused.

"Naw, this is pretty quiet," John chuckled. "Just wait till you see Rodney and Radek start going at it and Rover and Reza getting involved."

"Iím surprised you donít need a referee."

"Thatís usually Carson and Ciora," Rodney answered, glowering at John as he dropped back into the chair next to him.

"Hey, donít glare at me; Iím not the one who starts it. And Iím sure as hell not getting between two men who both build nuclear weapons for a hobby!" John laughed.

"Good decision." Jack toasted him.

"Feeling the love," Rodney commented.

John leaned over, grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him hard. After he sat back again, he asked, "Are you feeling it now?"

Rodney only smiled and leaned against Johnís side, causing Daniel to laugh.

"Iím not sure weíre ever going to get fed tonight."

Rover banged Danielís leg at that, and Jack chuckled. "See, Rover will make sure you donít starve, Daniel."

"Thanks, Rover," Daniel laughed as Rodney sputtered.

"Weíll feed you; we even have a barbecue!"

"Rodney made it just for me," John said proudly.

Jack gave Daniel a forlorn glance. "You never made me a barbecue."

Daniel looked at him incredulously. "You have got to be kidding."

Jack burst into laughter. "Well, yeah. I have a barbecue, and Carter would be a lot better at making one than you."

"Soft science," Rodney laughingly scoffed.

"Not so soft man," Jack retorted, making John laugh.

Daniel adjusted his glasses and grinned when Rodney rolled his eyes. "Who could be soft chasing around after Jack for almost ten years?"

"Not listening!" Rodney groaned, covering his ears.

"See what you have to look forward to?" John chuckled. "Geeks with muscles, and theyíre all ours," he added to Jack. The two Air Force officers clinked their bottles of beer together.

Rodney shook his head, but he was smiling when he looked over at Daniel. "I suppose we feel that way about grunts with brains."

"Theyíre officers, not grunts," Daniel laughed, "or so Iíve been told."

"And donít you forget it!" Jack said while John was growling at Rodney.

Rodneyís smile turned secretive. "But you have to love the reaction it gets."

"Youíre a tease. And I love it."

"What a shock," Jack muttered to Daniel, but he was grinning.

"Isnít it?" Daniel laughed before looking down when Rover set a fresh tray of cheese and crackers on the table.

"Rover, you donít need to play butler; why donít you do see the girls," Rodney commented.

The cart hesitated for a moment until John nodded too and waved toward the door, and then he was gone.

"Someday heís going to come back with one of them, and Radekís going to be in hot pursuit," John laughed. "You know heís going to blame you."

"Do I want to know?" Jack asked.

"Rover has two women," Rodney smirked. "Reza and Ciora."

"Why am I not surprised you have a slut cart?" Jack laughed.

"He is not a slut!" Rodney shot back, glowering. "Heís in a polygamous relationship; he doesnít go around humping every other cart on Atlantis, and oh my god, Iíve totally gone around the bend." He grabbed for Johnís beer and drained it.

Everyone burst into laughter, and John hugged him. "Itís okay; I still love you when youíre nuts."

"Sort of like how I felt about you when you had the library in your head," Daniel told Jack.

Jack reached over and caught Danielís hand. "Thanks for sticking by me then."

"Hey, you did the same for me when I was ascended." Daniel tightened his fingers around Jackís.

John glanced at Rodney. "Donít say it. No one hereís going to ascend."

"Did I say a word? Youíre the one who likes to make me think heís dead anyway!"

John sighed. "Youíre going to be yelling at me for that for the next sixty years, arenít you?"

Rodney snorted and looked over at Jack and Daniel. "Goes off on a suicide mission with ĎSo long, Rodney.í"

"Ouch," Daniel winced.

Jack and John exchanged a look of pure understanding, but neither bothered to say anything, knowing the other two scientists wouldnít understand or agree.

"I promise Iíll never do that again," John sighed.

Daniel caught the look and nodded to himself, understanding Rodneyís position but also having been on the other side of it.

"Yes, you will," Rodney murmured, though he caught Johnís hand and squeezed it tightly. "And I wonít stop you."

John nodded. "I promise Iíll always try to come back to you," he amended, making Jack nod.

"Sometimes thatís all you can do," he said quietly.

Rodney nodded shortly, his expression tight and unhappy.

"We always end up talking about such pleasant things," Daniel mused, trying to lighten the mood.

"Occupational hazard, Iím afraid," Jack said. "But since I want to eat sometime, letís talk about sex instead. That always improves my mood."

"Mine too!" John agreed, holding Rodneyís hand tightly.

"Perverts," Rodney muttered, though he didnít pull away in the least.

"And thereís something bad about that?" Daniel asked.

"Nope," John replied cheerfully. "You donít object to sex, do you, Rodney?"

"I never said that," Rodney sputtered.

"Didnít think so," John said, ignoring Jackís snickers.

Daniel shook his head and reached for his beer.

"Shouldnít you start cooking the meat?" Rodney grumbled. "And if you make a disgusting comment, youíre sleeping on the couch!"

John kissed him hard on the way past. "I wouldnít dream of it." He turned the grill on and took the cover off the dish where the steaks had been marinating. "I hope everyoneís hungry."

"Starved," Jack assured him.

"He meant for food, Jack," Daniel murmured.

"So did I, so youíre just going to have to keep your hands off me till we get to our own room."

"Iíll try to control myself."

"Iím sure we appreciate that."

"Itís a good thing we checked weapons at the door," John observed to Rodney.

"Iím wondering if I should get Rover back here." Rodney checked everyoneís beers and got another one for himself and Jack.

"Naw, let him enjoy his date. Surely four men can feed themselves without requiring supervision."

Jack seemed less certain, but he simply drank his beer and put his feet up, enjoying the view. "All I needís a fishing pole," he said contentedly.

"Youíre several hundred feet above sea level," John pointed out.

"This is the man who fishes in a pond without any stock," Daniel reminded him, walking out to the balcony and leaning on the railings, looking over the edge.

"In that case why not just pretend you have a pole?" John suggested.

"Itís not the same," Jack replied loftily.

Rodney saw John open his mouth again, and he shook his head. "Itís not worth it, John."

"Youíre right." He expertly flipped the steaks before leaning back against the railing and looking at the other men. "So, is being nuts a requirement for promotion to general?"

"No, but it helps," Jack retorted.

"Which means you should be up for full colonel soon, John."

"Iím sure Jack could give you non-fishing lessons," Daniel laughed.

"Thatís okay; I have Rodney and Rover."

"Hey!" Rodney complained.

"And I wouldnít have it any other way."

"And here they go again," Jack pretended to groan.

"Makes me feel like an old married couple."

"You two are an old married couple," John retorted.

Daniel toasted him with his beer. "Youíre just looking forward to the same situation."

"And the island," Rodney agreed.

"Our island," John said with satisfaction.

"All we need to do is get rid of the Ori and Wraith first so we wonít have any interruptions," Jack said. "Shouldnít be a problem."

"Unless the universe finds some other big baddies to throw at us," Rodney sighed.

"Weíll put a shield around the island," John grumbled.

"Thereís an idea," Daniel commented.

Rodney nodded thoughtfully. "I like it."

John grinned at Jack. "Ten bucks says he has it built before your next visit."

Jack shook his head. "Sucker bet."

Daniel pointed his beer bottle at Rodney. "Make two."

"Wonderful, Iím going to be mass marketing these things the rest of my life."

"So youíll be wealthy, and Iíll be your kept man," John said happily.

"Excuse me?!"

"You donít want to keep me?" John pouted.

"I donít see why I have to do all the work while you lie there and sip pina coladas, and turn the steaks before they burn."

"I was wrong," Daniel commented to Jack, "they sound like an old married couple too." Jack nodded, in total agreement.

"Because Iím pretty, and Iím trading on your love for me," John replied, smirking.

Rodney sniffed. "Fine, but youíre so taking care of me when I come home at night."

John gave him a slow, sensual smile after giving him a once-over. "Itíll be my pleasure."

Rodney shivered and gave a low moan, and Daniel cleared his throat. "Anything we can do to help with the meal?"

"Keep them apart till the steaks are done!" Jack suggested.

"Weíll behave," John chuckled.

"And if you want to help, you two can set the table," Rodney offered.

"Never offer around Rodney if you donít expect to be taken up on it," John chuckled.

"We already knew that," Jack pointed out, pushing to his feet. "But I think we can handle a couple plates and silverware."

"Good, you do that. John, you watch the steaks, and Iím going to get the rest of the food from the mess," Rodney announced.

Once Rodney had disappeared, John shook his head with a chuckle. "Ten to one he comes back with all three carts trailing behind him."

"Not just Rover?" Jack asked.

"Rover will respond to Rodneyís Ďneedí, and Reza and Ciora tend to stick with him in the evenings if Radek and Carson are settled in their quarters."

"Fascinating," Daniel murmured as he gathered up the plates and set them out.

John shrugged. "Itís just them."

"Jack..."

"No, we are not taking a cart back with us!"

Daniel sighed.

"You saying Iím not enough for you anymore?"

"Oh, please."

Jack crossed his arms and stared.

"Fine, fine, no cart." Daniel shook his head before pulling Jack in for a quick hug. "Idiot."

Jack smirked. "And Iím all yours."

"Damn right you are."

John lost his battle and started laughing. "Oh God, please tell me Rodney and I donít sound as ridiculous."

"Worse," Daniel laughed.

"Oh shoot me now."

"I donít think so; this is too much fun."

"Youíre a pair of sadists," John grumbled. "Keep it up and Iíll burn your steaks."

"Then I really will shoot you!" Jack exclaimed.

"Do that and youíre all Roverís," Rodney commented as he came in the door, Rover, Reza, and Ciora following after him, each cart bearing a bowl or platter which they carried over to the table.

Rover set his burden down and rolled over to Jack, clacking his pincers menacingly. John started laughing as he watched. "Better watch it, Jack; I have protectors."

"So I see. Hey, watch it! Danielís pretty fond of that part of my anatomy, and Iím kind of attached to it too!"

"And you really donít to drag Dr. Beckett down to the infirmary tonight," Daniel added quickly when the other two carts rolled over as well to bracket Jack between them.

"I surrender. I was kidding. Sheppard, tell them I was kidding!"

"Down, guys," John laughed. "Jack wouldnít really shoot me. And we try not to castrate guests."

Rodney just leaned against the wall and smirked while Daniel tried not to laugh at Jackís almost frantic expression that faded as the carts finally backed off.

"Okay, when we come back, you can have a cart. I think weíre going to need one!" Jack muttered.

"Or we could ask the Asgard to design you a shield," Daniel chuckled.

"Make sure itís one that lets you eat and drink."

John chuckled. "Rodneyís an expert."

Rodney glowered and aimed a swat at Johnís ass.

"Not while our guests are here, honey."

Rodney groaned, grabbed a beer, and drained it, then chuckled when Rover got a quick pinch in as he rolled past John, leading the girls into the other room.

"Iím abused," John sighed.

Jack snorted. "Submit a complaint."

"No point, he loves it," Rodney commented, sounding smug.

"No one would believe it anyway," Daniel added.

"Iím abused and the butt of bad jokes."

"And Iíll make it up to you later," Rodney promised.

"So, abuse and being laughed at arenít so bad."

Jack laughed. "Oh sit down and eat."

"Well, it looks as if you all will have a much faster trip back," Rodney commented as he checked the power levels going into the gate and nodded to the small group from the SGC.

Jack eyed the stargate. "Talk about one giant step," he muttered.

"Itís no different from that first time you beamed yourself to the Asgard," Sam pointed out. "If anything, itís a lot more controlled."

"Yeah, sure."

"I donít know," Mitchell grinned to Tealíc, "it sounds like fun."

"And if Carson can survive it, anyone can," Rodney added, causing the doctor to sputter.

"Stop inciting a riot, Rodney," John chuckled.

"Itís nice to see that this place really is as crazy as the SGC," Jack said with satisfaction. "Weíre not alone."

Elizabeth chuckled at that. "Iíd be hard-pressed to tell the difference."

"Thatís because there isnít one," Paul laughed, "and I have enough experience with both to be considered an expert."

"And I think thatís our cue to go," Jack decided. "Dr. Weir, itís been a pleasure."

"General, itís been an honor having you all here. We look forward to seeing you again."

"Sam." Rodney reached out to shake her hand and shot a quick glance at John when she hugged him. "Good luck on the other side."

"You too," she smiled, "and keep up the good work here; I like what the place has done to you."

"Too late," John said with a smug grin. "You missed your chance, Colonel."

"Considering I think a lot of the changes are because of you, Colonel, thatís all right."

"Hey!" Rodney protested before being distracted by Rover rolling up to Jack and Daniel and handing them each a wrapped rectangle about six inches long and three wide. "Donít open those until you get back," he called.

"Theyíre not going to blow up, are they?" Jack asked suspiciously.

"No, they arenít going to blow up," Rodney snapped. "Why do people always think the worst of me?"

"Because they know you, Dr. McKay," Tealíc commented.

"I donít think the worst of you," John said soothingly, and Rover pressed against Rodneyís leg.

"And I didnít really think you gave us bombs," Jack said.

"Not big ones anyway," Daniel added with a smile.

"Okay, now youíre just trying to wind him up. Thatís like giving kids candy just before you leave to go home. Stop it!" John glared from Jack to Daniel, though his mouth was twitching suspiciously. Of course, it helped that he knew that the boxes contained miniature versions of the Atlantean carts.

"Dialing the gate now," Rodney commented to the air as he started pressing the symbols.

"Just donít send us all somewhere else because youíre mad at the general and Dr. Jackson," Mitchell called.

"He wouldnít do that to me," Sam reassured the colonel.

"Sadly true," John sighed.

Rodney groaned. "Go. Please."

SG1 was laughing as they stepped through the gate, on their way home.

END

  since 02-03-07

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