Fluffy Flying Lemons by ToraK
Rating: PG-13? (nothing shocking anyway)
Warnings: Umm, fluff. Gratuitous fluff.
Notes: Thanks to janne_d for marvelous beta
[Disclaimer: Recognisable characters and situations aren’t mine. If anyone's looking for something to buy me for Christmas though...]
They first encountered the flying lemons on a planet that was, in Rodney’s opinion, otherwise not too bad. The sun shone all day, but the UV readings weren’t too high; there was a lot of plant life that kept the botanists happy (read: quiet), but didn’t make Rodney sneeze; and the rocks were giving out strong, and intriguing, power readings.
They’d noticed the lemons on the way in, but they’d assumed they were, well, lemons. To be more accurate, Colonel Sheppard had noticed the lemons; Rodney had been engrossed in reading energy signatures and beating his own high score at Tetris. Sheppard had nudged his arm and pointed to the fields on either side of them, where tall trees stood, their branches covered in large, yellow lemons. Or lemon-like things.
“Be careful what you eat.” Sheppard advised seriously, which absolutely did not make Rodney want to grin like an infatuated teenage girl.
Rodney was sitting on a nice flat rock, which he’d already checked had no religious significance. Sitting on nice flat rocks had, in the past, been known to get nice sharp spears pointed at Rodney’s throat for defiling something or other.
He was checking energy readings on his PDA when he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He blinked and it seemed to go away, so he assumed it was just his eyes doing the sort of thing his eyes did when he was working too hard. Not that he currently was. Maybe he was hungry; that did seem likely.
The energy spiked and he went back to work.
Ten minutes later he saw the movement again, looked up, saw nothing, and looked down again.
There was a lemon sitting on his PDA.
A fluffy lemon about the size of a regular, non-fluffy one, with spindly yellow legs tucked under its body and papery, semi-opaque wings fluttering above it. Rodney backed away slowly, not taking his eyes off it.
“Major!” He hissed.
He got no answer and couldn’t risk turning away to look for him.
Sheppard popped up at his elbow. “Hey, McKay. What’s up?”
Rodney gestured wildly at the thing. He really hoped Sheppard could see it too.
Sheppard, apparently, could. He blinked then leaned forward. “Wow. Is that…?”
“A flying lemon? I hardly think so.” Rodney had long ago learned that if he snarled hard enough people tended not to notice when his voice shook.
Sheppard was leaning even closer, his finger poised to poke. “Well, what is it then?”
“I don’t know. Do I look like a biologist? I have an actual degree. And don’t poke it!”
Sheppard hesitated, briefly enough that you’d need a time-delay camera to see it, then reached out a finger and brushed the… thing’s furred back. It zoomed upwards immediately, circling Sheppard’s head, then settled, offended, on a further rock.
“I can’t believe you did that,” Rodney’s hands were shaking, “I said, don’t do that!”
Sheppard was grinning at him. “Relax McKay. The worst it could do is squirt at me, and you’re allergic to that, not me.”
Oh God, squirting! Rodney hadn’t even thought of squirting. “It was me I was thinking of,” he said stiffly, which while not one hundred percent true, was at least eighty-three point three percent, so it counted.
Rodney was all for running back to the Stargate now, now, now, but Sheppard appeared fascinated with the fluffy, possibly killer, flying lemon. Oblivious to Rodney’s pleas he borrowed a fist-sized box from the cute blond botanist who had a crush on him (not that that narrowed it down at all) and convinced the lemon-thing to fly right in to it. Apparently bizarre alien insects that could probably kill Rodney with a single squirt were as susceptible to Sheppard’s charm as anything else.
Back on Atlantis, they took it down to Carson, Sheppard practically bouncing at his new pet. Rodney, still feeling kind of shaky, left them to it.
Two days later, the good news was that Carson had told Rodney he had nothing to worry about; the lemon-thing’s physiology did not involve citrus in any way. The bad news was that Sheppard had wanted to keep it. Weir – with no prompting at all from Rodney – had informed him he couldn’t bring wildlife back to Atlantis. Rodney felt the only reason she didn’t look at Ronon when she said that was that she was a damn fine diplomat.
So Sheppard was told to take it back to the Rather Nice Planet, but, due to a whole series of reasons that Rodney didn’t believe and didn’t have time to listen to anyway, the thing escaped. The really bad news was that it had apparently been pregnant and now wherever Rodney turned he came face to… fluffy yellow blob with one.
Rodney didn’t approve of phobias; they were irrational and therefore stupid. So there was no way he was fluffy-flying-lemon phobic. He was, however, finding it hard to breathe, move or speak every time he saw one.
It was the end of a really long day. Normal days for Rodney lasted about twenty hours, so when he said a really long day people should know he meant it. He needed to go to bed for about a day, preferably waking up somewhere in the middle to get something to eat and jerk off. What he did not need was to turn on the light in his quarters and find a lemonfly buzzing around his room.
“Lemonfly” was Sheppard’s name for the little bastards. It was a terrible name, as bad as any Ford had ever come up with. Not that Rodney planned to make that observation aloud. He’d mentioned Ford in passing at the previous meeting and had the never-again-want-to-repeat experience of seeing Teyla go stiff and have to leave the room.
Rodney tried to ignore the lemonfly as it bounced happily against the illuminated ceiling. At least the lack of central lighting in Atlantis meant insects here didn’t get to do the kamikaze thing that moths did back on Earth. Behaviour that stupid was one of the many reasons Rodney scorned biology; you didn’t need to be intelligent to study stupid things.
He forcibly ignored it and did not in any way put his hands over his head when he ducked into the bathroom. And if the door maybe closed harder than it needed to, it was Atlantis’ fault, not his.
“Major Sheppard?” Rodney had tried, he really had. But he could not sleep knowing the lemonfly was in his room.
His radio crackled statically.
“Fine. Colonel Sheppard? You know this is ridiculous, don’t you? Can you come to my quarters?”
“Why Rodney,” Sheppard drawled huskily in his ear, “I thought you’d never ask.”
Rodney rolled his eyes and absolutely did not shiver at the caressing tease in Sheppard’s voice.
By the time Sheppard knocked on the door, the lemonfly had taken up a strategic position in the middle of the room and was blocking Rodney’s route from the bed to the door. He could of course step past it; he simply chose not to.
“Come in.” He called, trying to sound in control.
“This is Atlantis, Colonel. Ask it nicely.” Most days it drove Rodney absolutely crazy how his city rolled over and begged for Sheppard. Today was not one of those days.
“Her,” Sheppard said once the triple locked door had sprung open obediently for him and he’d stepped inside. “Atlantis is a her, not an it.”
God, wasn’t Sheppard’s obsession with alien women enough? Now he had to feminise the city. “Oh please. That’s so stupid. You’re one of those guys who names their cars and their penises too, aren’t you?”
Sheppard shrugged, smiling softly. “She’s living. She does what we ask.”
“It could just as easily be a he.” The only reason Rodney was taking part in this insanity was that he needed Sheppard’s help.
“Nah, look at how responsive she is. No guy is that responsive.”
“Maybe you’ve just been touching the wrong guys?” Rodney bit his tongue. No way did he just say that. The universe didn’t hate him that much.
Sheppard’s strangely kinked eyebrows rose, but he didn’t say anything. Instead he looked around the room, swinging his arms lazily, “So, what’s so important that you needed me at three in the morning?”
“Like you were asleep,” Rodney mumbled, Sheppard was the one person who probably slept less than Rodney did. “And, um, I… Can you do something about that?” He waved a hand at the lemonfly, which was now up in the corner above his bed. Rodney told himself this wasn’t as embarrassing as he thought it was and ordered his face not to blush.
Sheppard’s smirk was amused, but not as condescending as Rodney had feared, “You know it can’t hurt you, McKay, right?”
Rodney rolled his eyes, “Of course it can’t hurt me. If it could hurt me, it wouldn’t be an irrational fear, would it?”
“Okay, fine. Just as long as you know.” Sheppard grinned at him, then snatched up a glass from Rodney’s desk and hopped onto the bed. Rodney pressed himself against the wall and watched as Sheppard shuffled toward the lemonfly, glass in hand. Murmuring softly he lifted the glass and was just about to catch it when it skittered further up the wall.
Sheppard cursed and reached higher. His t-shirt rode up as he extended his arm revealing a stretch of toned, tanned stomach. Rodney swallowed hard.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Sheppard was crooning to the… thing, “Come on Fluffy, I’m not gonna hurt you.”
Rodney frowned, “That one’s called Fluffy? What about all the others?”
Sheppard turned and flashed a smile at him, then went back to sweet-talking the flying citrus fruit, “They’re all called Fluffy. Their mom wasn’t very imaginative.”
Rodney slumped back against the wall, hand over his eyes, “You’re on crack.”
“Yep,” Sheppard agreed happily, “Just… Ha! Got it!” He jumped down from the bed, hand clamped over the mouth of the glass in which the lemonfly was now buzzing angrily. The door opened for him as he approached and he looked up and down before releasing it into the corridor and stepping back into Rodney’s room, quickly shutting the door behind him.
Rodney sank down onto the bed, cursing stupid phobias, relief so strong it made him shake. “Elizabeth said we have to kill them if we catch them,” he snapped at Sheppard to cover his sudden weakness.
Sheppard shrugged, “Can’t do it. It’s my fault the little guys are stuck here.”
“Right. So you can kill sixty Genii soldiers, but not one flying ball of fluff.”
“Pretty much, yeah.” Sheppard’s mouth adopted that tight look it always got when Rodney mentioned the Genii. “The Genii are a threat; fluffy flying lemons really aren’t.”
“So you say,” Rodney grumbled, hoping to clear the tension he’d put in Sheppard’s eyes.
Sheppard was silent for a moment, then his mask-smile, the one that didn’t mean anything, emerged, “So what are the chances you’re gonna wake me up again in a couple of hours the next time you’re terrorised by the killer ball of fluff?”
“Seeing as how it’s your fault. Pretty high.” Rodney snapped back.
Sheppard’s fake smile became a real one, “Maybe I should just stay.”
Okay, totally not what Rodney was expecting. “Here? Where? What?” He stammered intelligently.
Sheppard shrugged, ultra-casual. “You’ve got the biggest bed in Atlantis, I’m sure we could work something out.”
“It’s barely four foot.” Rodney argued, latching onto the insignificant point, because that way he didn’t have to think about the bigger picture. Which was Sheppard offering – asking? He wasn’t sure – to share his bed.
“Which is at least a foot bigger than any other one I’ve seen. I don’t think the Ancients had many sleepovers.”
Rodney frowned, “How many beds have you been investigating, Major?”
Sheppard rolled his eyes, “Colonel.”
“Major! Colonel! What does it matter?” Rodney demanded, throwing up his hands.
Sheppard leaned closer, a lot closer. His body radiated heat and strength. “Colonel’s kinkier,” he murmured huskily.
Rodney staggered half a step back in shock, rolling his eyes when Sheppard started laughing at him. “Fine. Fine. You want to get in my bed, who am I to stop you?”
They lay down side by side on the bed – the totally not bigger than average bed. The lights dimmed, but Rodney wasn’t sure if he did it or Sheppard did. Now the panic had worn off, Rodney was starting to feel humiliated. He lay still and hoped Sheppard would fall asleep soon.
“Small spaces,” Sheppard’s voice was soft through the darkness.
Rodney blinked, only then realising he still had his eyes open, “What?”
“My irrational fear. Small spaces.” Rodney rolled onto his side, Sheppard was already there and they lay facing each other. Sheppard pitched his voice low, confiding. “When I was a kid my brothers took me down to the beach…”
“Where?” Interrupting was bad, but Rodney liked details.
“Hawaii. We lived there after Germany, before San Francisco. There was this sinkhole in the sand and because I was the smallest they made me climb in to have a look. The roof collapsed and I couldn’t get out. I mean, I had some air and there were people all around so I wasn’t really in any danger, but I was trapped. I haven’t been too keen on small spaces ever since.”
“That must make getting in an aeroplane a bit of problem?” Rodney asked in confusion.
“Nah,” Rodney could almost hear the little-boy smile Sheppard got when he talked about flying, “The sky’s massive. You can’t get claustrophobic up there.”
Rodney felt movement on his hip and jumped, mind flashing to lemonflies. Then he felt warmth from five separate points and realised it was Sheppard’s hand resting on his hip, stroking him softly through the thin fabric of his sweats. He swallowed hard. This was not something he’d ever really believed would happen.
Sheppard obviously felt Rodney tense and he started to withdraw the hand. Screwing up his courage, Rodney lifted his own hand and lay it over Sheppard’s holding it still.
“Rodney?” Sheppard asked cautiously.
Rodney smiled, he might not be brave in the face of flying lemons, or Wraith, or a million other things, but right now he was feeling more courage than he’d known he possessed. “It’s okay,” he whispered, squeezing the warm, slender hand in his own, “It’s cool.”
“I thought I was cool?” Sheppard teased softly, his voice catching as Rodney shuffled closer.
“No,” Rodney’s lips and Sheppard’s lips were a centimetre apart; it was far too far. “You’re fine.”
Outside in the corridor the lemonfly – which was actually called a Harmony Fly by the people on the Rather Nice Planet – listened to the sounds of the Doctor and the Major/Colonel (it wasn’t sure) share their first kiss. It smiled to itself – as much as a fluffy yellow blob can smile – and set off down the corridor; it had much more work to do before it could rest.
Major Lorne and his nervous botanist friend were next, it decided.