Summary: Aliens made them get it.
Spoilers: Very vague ones for Season 5 - the head of the expedition, the state of the Athosian people, the conclusion of Teyla's pregnancy, etc. are all spoiled. Specific plot lines of Season 5 not spoiled.
Author's Notes: So, shetiger mentioned that she was OK with "fannish tropes." This is not a fannish trope, thank God, and if anyone else starts writing stories like this... well, SGA means never having to say you're sorry.
The first thing Woolsey said was, "Is that contagious?"
John sighed and tried to look professional, which was hard, considering that an hour ago, Teyla had ripped a hole in his pants where no hole should ever be.
"It's not a disease," John said. "It's supposed to be a blessing."
"Some blessing!" Rodney protested, shuffling around as people came in and out of the room, keeping his back to the wall.
"I do not believe so," Teyla answered Woolsey, leaning against the gurney that Ronon and John were sitting on. "On the other hand, the inhabitants seemed… surprised that we were blessed in such a fashion."
"Beats getting killed, though," Ronon said.
"What happened?" Woolsey finally asked, after staring at them for much longer than John, personally, was comfortable with.
"Those morons on Planet Moron," Rodney started to explain.
"Planet PX9-7M3," John corrected.
"Isediln," Teyla corrected.
"Whatever," Rodney said, "Told us that this was a miraculous temple, but that if we spoke a word while we were inside, the gods of the temple would rain down their terrible wrath and kill us or give us an extra head which -" he gestured emphatically, "Hey, little did we know -"
"And of course, for McKay that's practically an engraved invitation to start yammering," John said, then added to the nurse behind him, who'd spent the last ten minutes poking him in all new uncomfortable places, "Okay, I get the novelty, but could this wait until after the debriefing?"
"Speaking of which," Jennifer said, flashing them all an apologetic smile, "We're going to have to examine all of you after this. I mean, this is… it's incredible. It's unprecedented -"
"It kind of itches," Ronon said, shifting restlessly.
Teyla sighed, but John, who'd never been good at reading her, suddenly knew exactly what she was feeling when her brand-new tail reached up and slapped Ronon in the back of the head.
"Ow," Ronon commented. Teyla just smiled.
"I have always wanted to do that," she said.
"I hate my life," Rodney moaned into his hands.
(Ronon's tail was, just like himself, strange and threatening. The base was about the same circumference as his bicep, and it extended out about four feet, tapering down to the weird proto-hand. He'd had a hell of a time walking back to the Gate, John remembered; he kept seeing it out of the corner of his eye and flinching at the sudden movement. John had watched him slowly pat at his hair with the tail, pulling out a knife or brushing away flies, figuring out how to move. There were a few scars along the length of Ronon's tail, and John wondered what the temple had seen in Ronon's body, in his genetics, that made those scars seem so unsurprising.)
"So, they have tails," Keller announced to the conference room, five hours later. John and the team had been scanned, bled, injected, examined, and generally stripped of all dignity, but had also been given lots of Jell-O, so he was feeling pretty philosophical. He scraped at the bottom of his plastic cup while Keller threw some images up on the projector.
"Obviously, I'm not sure exactly how the… temple, thing, does its stuff, but what it looks like is that somehow, their DNA has been slightly modified, and the coccyx has been altered so that really, their… um."
"Asses?" Ronon supplied.
John could hear Rodney's forehead hit the conference room table. "Wake me up when this doesn't sound totally traumatizing," he groaned. John nudged him with an elbow.
"Come on, you're like Cornelius. You can deal with that, can't you?"
Rodney looked up, bleary and belligerent. "Does that make you Thade? Or Ari?"
"Gentlemen," Woolsey said mildly, as Keller shifted uncomfortably up at the front of the room.
"Um. Anyway, the thing that's strange is that there's no human DNA that could be altered to explain the way that your tails function. Or the way that they look." Keller showed a close-up of one of their tails -John realized that it was his, and wondered when, exactly, this had become his life. In another galaxy, with a tail, fighting space vampires. He'd never felt so betrayed by a coin toss. "Your tails aren't… exactly tails. They're really more like hands, which matches what Rodney has said about… what he said… in the temple."
"It was a figure of speech!" Rodney protested. "Nobody thinks when you ask them to ‘give you a hand' for them to—" he trailed off and hit his head down on the table again.
"The, um, tails seem to have a thumb-like appendage, with a broader, flatter ending, kind of like a mittened hand," Keller explained, and John made sure not to look anywhere near Lorne, who was sitting next to him and who John could hear trying not to laugh. "And the musculature shows that there's a great deal of dexterity possible. The tests that I was… allowed to do," Keller said, carefully avoiding the fact that Ronon had simply walked out after an hour or so, since he didn't really like Jell-O, "Indicate that with a little practice, SGA-1 actually could use these as a third hand." She cleared her throat, as if the thing she were about to say was going to be a little embarrassing, and not, say, just another embarrassing thing in a whole briefing full of embarrassing. "The tails, however, seem to be a little more reactive, or maybe impulsive, is the word, than the people themselves. For instance, Teyla's tail hit Ronon when I don't think Teyla herself would have done it with her hand. And Rodney's tail kept trying to steal extra cups of Jell-O."
Rodney raised his head slightly, then let it thud back onto the table.
"Doctor Keller, thank you," Woolsey said, as the lights came up and John glanced around the room, silently swearing revenge on anyone who looked even a little bit amused. Zelenka was laughing so hard that he was actually purple, but Rodney probably had that covered. "So, is this dangerous?"
"I don't know," Keller said honestly, sitting down. "So far, the only problem seems to be a little impulse control. But I doubt it's dangerous, unless someone tempts the team into doing something impulsive."
"And Rodney would have stolen those Jell-O cups anyway," John said.
They discussed it a little longer - just long enough for John to seriously consider killing himself - about the surgery options, the reports into SGC, about things that John, for the moment, couldn't possibly care less about.
"Okay, people?" Rodney said at last, "We have tails. You're all going to have to get over the enormous stupidity of it until a) the temple… blessing, or whatever, wears off; b) we get these suckers sawed off, or c) Ronon starts hitting you over the head with his. So. Can we go now?"
Woolsey sighed, but there was a traitorous twitch on his lips. "I'll expect you to report in every few hours for the next couple of days," Woolsey said, "And I want your written reports within 24-hours. Whatever happened to you on that planet, I want to find out if we can undo it."
Rodney, who had been practicing holding a pencil with his tail-hand, looked up and frowned. "Undo it?" he asked blankly. "Are you kidding? The whole science department wants to go to the planet and sign themselves up!"
"Yes," Woolsey sighed, "I had a feeling they would."
"I'll post some more guards by the gate," John said.
John checked in with Woolsey and wrote his report and discussed plans for revisiting the planet, drawing up contingencies and possible diplomatic steps. But the fact was that the inhabitants had been peaceful - welcoming, grateful for help with their irrigation in return for a look at their Temple of the Ancestors - and had been almost as horrified by the team's New Look as they themselves had been. Not only that, but whatever psycho genie had been in the temple and granted their wish had, quite clearly, been drained of its power - once they'd staggered out, the doors had slammed shut, and no amount of praying (from the locals) glaring (from Teyla and John and Ronon) or fiddling (from Rodney) swearing (also from Rodney) had re-opened them. There'd been no other way to get into the temple without blowing it up, and John had decided to go back to Atlantis rather than take Rodney up on his more enthusiastic and violent suggestions.
So until further notice, the team had to get used to being the Missing Link, with all the extra examinations and double-takes that implied.
"Have you taken a shower yet?" Rodney demanded the next morning at breakfast. His hair was a little damp, and his tail was curved over his head, like the world's cutest submarine periscope. John blinked at him and finished his mouthful of corn flakes.
"Yes?" he answered. It had been weird, not least because, rather than trading the bar of soap from left hand to right as needed, it traded from left hand to right hand to tail-hand, almost without him thinking about it. He'd actually managed to clean that frustrating patch between the small of his back and his shoulder blades for the first time in his life. It had been oddly gratifying.
"Was it weird?" Rodney asked, digging into his own cereal. "Yeah," John admitted. "Did your tail kind of take over sometimes—"
"Yeah!" Rodney said. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm all about new experiences, but I've been jerking off for most of my adult life, and I'd never really fantasized about —"
"Rodney!" John said, flinching away, his tail pinwheeling for balance. "Jesus, too much information."
"What? What? I thought that's what you were talking about, you know, ‘taking over,'" and dear God, when Rodney did air-quotes, his tail did it, too, right above his head, like it was patting his aura or something. John could feel his head about to explode.
"I was talking about getting clean."
Rodney's eyebrows raised up as he seemed to infer that "getting clean" was some kind of code, then they furrowed in confusion when he realized it wasn't. "Oh. Well, I wasn't." Ronon slid into a seat next to John. "Hey, have either of you guys masturbated yet?"
John had been writing up memos and submitting strategies to Woolsey for almost two weeks before Woolsey set the latest one aside and said, "Colonel, have you discussed your… current situation… with the rest of your team?"
It was almost funny, the way Woolsey seemed to treat the whole thing like John and the team were teenagers pregnant out of wedlock; whenever he talked about it, he'd use the terms "condition" or "situation" and pointedly not look any of them in the eye.
"Sir?" he said in a kind of general way, not sure where this was going. Teyla had been using the teams' provisional grounding to head back to New Athos with Kanaan and Torren, and John hadn't really talked to Ronon or Rodney about their tails - or about anything at all, since he'd been avoiding them - after he'd scampered out of the mess that morning two weeks ago, beet-red and uncomfortable, since apparently he was the only guy in two galaxies who didn't masturbate in the shower.
Woolsey shrugged, or came as close as he ever did to shrugging. "Ronon seems to have integrated his new… condition into his training. Lorne and Stackhouse report that he's done even more damage to the Marines during practice than he used to. Teyla has been telling me that it's been useful for taking care of Torren, and Dr. McKay has been, perhaps unbelievably, almost optimistic about your… situation. There may be a reluctance on their part to act on any of these plans that you've drawn up."
"Are you suggesting that you'd let them… keep them?" John boggled.
"It has come to my attention that there are advantages to this… situation," Woolsey said. "I would suggest that you speak to your team about it."
(John's latest qualification for the freak tent at the circus was about four and a half feet long, thinner and longer than Ronon's, which was an analogy John tried desperately not to think about too much. It protruded from the base of his spine like a cat's, or a monkey's; he'd taken out the seams and then resewn all his pants, since making it lie flat along one leg stopped working the minute he tried to think about something else, like walking or breathing. Despite its delicate appearance - it was only about three inches across at the base, and tapered to less than an inch before it spread out in the weird hand-thing - it was stronger than he could believe. He could pick up his (empty) P-90 with no problem, and it only took a little practice to hold a sidearm properly in the narrow palm. The tail curved in a gentle question mark just over his shoulder as he walked, peeking over his shoulder when there were people around, or sliding affectionately along the walls when he was alone in Atlantis's dim hallways.)
Teyla had come home; he found her out on the east-southeast pier with Kanaan and Torren, playing some sort of game with a thing that looked a little like a hammock. Her skin looked a bit darker, her hair a little brighter - and she looked happier, her tail curled delicately.
"John," Teyla said, handing Torren to Kanaan and pressing her forehead to John's. "I am glad to see you. Have you been well?"
"Sure," he said, feeling suddenly awkward and uncomfortable. "Uh, how is everyone? Back home."
Teyla gave him an appraising once-over, but she answered, "They are happy to be back; rebuilding is going more quickly than I had imagined, since we are now quite used to it." They watched Kanaan and Torren, who had wandered away toward the edge of the pier, for a few moments. "There will be a harvest festival in a few weeks, although we have little to harvest this year. All of Atlantis is invited."
On the one hand, there were probably going to be five hours of speeches. On the other hand, ale. "Sounds great."
"How are you truly, John?" she asked, looking into his face. He blinked.
"Well. You know. Adjusting to the... situation," and godammit, he sounded like Woolsey. "I wanted to talk to you about that, actually."
Teyla nodded, her eyes drawn back toward her husband and son. "You have spoken with Woolsey," she said.
"Yeah. He said - you really don't mind… this?" He gestured helplessly at his own tail, which was twitching side to side.
"It is a blessing of the Ancestors," she said mildly.
"Oh, come on," John protested, "It is not a blessing of the Ancestors, it is a result of Rodney being unable to keep his damn mouth shut."
"You did not allow me to finish, John," Teyla said, and John sighed, staring out at the ocean and trying to remember when he had found her hot and kind of scary, and not eerily reminiscent of his Aunt Phyllis. Maybe motherhood did this to women, made them chiding and serene. "I was raised to believe many things about the Ancestors which my life in Atlantis has forced me to… re-evaluate. But one thing that I have always been able to hold sacred is that they know a great deal more than we do, even though they have been gone for thousands of years. This may have been a mistake, as you and Rodney believe. But it may be an opportunity as well, for us to learn and to grow."
John could feel his jaw clenching; he forced it to relax, and nodded. "Okay, well. Good to know."
Kanaan, who'd put Torren down, was returning to them slowly, following his son as he crawled briskly toward Teyla. She reached out for Torren with her tail, scooping him up as he laughed and held on.
Ronon was in his rooms, fiddling with something broken and vaguely ceramic-looking. A bottle of Gorilla glue was next to him on the table.
"Sheppard. What's up?" Ronon didn't take his eyes off the piece in front of him. He was pressing two of the bigger parts together.
"I wanted to talk to you about us. The whole... tail thing."
"Is this about Stackhouse?" Ronon asked, grabbing another piece and applying a thin line of glue to one edge.
"No - wait, what did you do to Stackhouse?"
"I hit him in the eye. He can still use it. It's just a little bruised right now." Ronon spared a glance up at John, grinning like he only did when he'd inflicted affectionate violence on someone.
"You gave him a black eye with your tail?" John asked.
Ronon shrugged. "Wasn't hard. I almost broke Cadman's nose yesterday."
Asking Ronon if he minded having a tail, John realized, was kind of redundant. He did it anyway.
"As long as nobody tries to step on it, I don't care," Ronon said. "You guys might need to fix your tac vests, though, before we start going on missions again."
"Excellent point." John squinted at the object slowly taking coherent shape in Ronon's hands. "Is that a Precious Moments figure?"
Ronon's tail flicked guiltily. "Keller startled me when I was in her office, and I kind of broke it," he said, sounding more defensive than he had when he was talking about dealing grievous bodily harm on a fellow soldier. "So I told her I'd fix it." He looked closely at the figurine. "It looks a little like an agrop hunter," he said. "I've used one of those weapons."
"That's a watering can," John told him.
"Anyway, you should talk to McKay. He definitely wants to keep his." Ronon applied another piece of the figurine; his tail-hand was steady as a rock. "And not just because of the masturbating."
"What do you mean, you don't want to get rid of it?" John demanded, striding into the lab.
Rodney, who was hunched over a computer, made a big show of blinking and turning around to look at the other scientists. Finally, he batted his eyes at John. "I'm sorry, are you talking to me? I thought you had thrown out your half of the friendship bracelet."
John ignored that. "Rodney, you can't go back to Earth if you've got a tail. Did you ever think of that?"
"Considering that I'm about fifty IQ points smarter than you are, it's kind of insulting that you could imagine I haven't," Rodney said. "Of course I've thought about it, but to be honest… other than Jeannie, there's really nobody on Earth that I want to see much of. It might be awkward to accept the Nobel via satellite," and Rodney started to get the glassy, dreamy look that he used to turn on Katie and was starting to turn on Jennifer and that made him look kind of retarded, "But I'm sure I could manage it somehow. I hear holographic technology is coming along nicely."
John stared at him. All the words had been in English, but they still didn't make any sense. "Are you actually saying that you don't - you don't mind it?" His tail was lashing back and forth, sweeping soothingly over the floor as he tried to keep his voice down.
"Mind it? I've gotten more work done in the past two weeks than you'd believe." Rodney absently caught John's tail on the next pass, stilling it. "Look, I know it's weird, and I'm not quite over the George of the Jungle comments that Zelenka's been making—"
"They are very funny," Radek assured John, from his seat a few yards away.
"But honestly, if this is the worst thing that ever happens to me in this galaxy? I'll count my blessings. So to speak." Rodney looked hard at John, as if willing him to understand with the sheer force of his mind.
John could feel his teeth grinding together. "All right. But we can't - I mean, I don't know how we're going to deal with this."
"We'll manage, John," Rodney said.
John nodded, and asked about the simulation Rodney was running, and didn't remind Rodney that his tail was still holding John's, curled softly around him.
The thing was, they did manage. John didn't know whether to be impressed by the flexibility and understanding of the Pegasus inhabitants, or depressed that so many weird things happened to Atlanteans, it was kind of par for the course that they'd get stuck with tails.
"It is better, is it not, than the time you turned blue?" Halling pointed out, filling John's mug once again.
John tried to glare, but his eyes kept getting crossed. "That is completely not the point," he said, shouting a little over the sound of the Athosian drums and jibaks, which were a kind of violin/harp/trumpet thing they played at all of these harvest festivals.
Teyla, flushed with ale and curled up lazily on Halling's other side, arm twined around Kanaan, laughed and hiccupped. "He does not believe the Ancestors gave us this gift," she told Halling.
He looked surprised. "Truly? I thought Doctor McKay was the one amongst your team who was skeptical of our galaxy's beliefs - I assumed you shared them, Colonel."
John was far, far too drunk for this conversation. "No, no no. It's not that I don't respect your…feelings about the Assents. Ansheets. Anchesterns. The flowy-robe people. But I don't, um… what?"
Halling laughed at him, and left John alone, leaning toward Teyla and murmuring in hushed, happy tones. John slouched against the table and tried to focus his eyes, blinking in the soft light of the massive Athosian party tent.
Cadman and Ronon were having some kind of drinking game involving some kind of walnuts, or maybe fruit - it reminded John of the drinking games he'd watched at the Academy, with ping pong balls and neat lines of beer cups. Ronon seemed to be winning, barely, but most of the Marines were on Cadman's side, rooting and high-fiving when she got a… thing… in a cup. Ronon's supporters consisted of Athosians -Ronon had been a hero earlier that day when he'd rescued a child from a runaway ale keg. The amulet that the child's mother had given to him was some kind of purple bird-skull; Ronon loved it.
Keller and Rodney were there, too; Rodney seemed relatively sober, but Keller was completely wasted, slumped over Rodney's shoulder like he was the only thing keeping her up. John shifted, some of the ale burning on its way down s he finished off his fourth (sixth?) mug. He watched Rodney's tail twitch from side to side, keeping his balance.
He had seen this coming, he could admit it. Keller and Rodney didn't… actually make sense at all, but maybe they made sense to each other. She was young, and very beautiful, and she seemed to like Rodney for his annoying qualities, which he hadn't tried to hide from her. And she didn't seem likely to take any crap, either. Katie had been a complete disaster; she'd always been waiting for Rodney. Waiting for him to ask her out, to take her somewhere nice, to remember her birthday, to propose. The only thing she'd actually done in that relationship was end it, and John remembered how grateful he'd been about that.
Ronon won, to assorted hails from the Athosians and boos from the Marines. He turned toward Rodney and Keller, grinning; John saw his tail reach out - for Keller, standing closest to him - and flinch away when he saw her snuggled up to Rodney. But his smile never faltered.
John closed his eyes, and let his head sink down on the table.
The next morning, of course, was hell on a magnitude never before contemplated by man.
"I cannot believe you and Teyla got so wasted. Actually, I didn't expect any better from you," Rodney told John, stabbing at his bacon and eggs and ignoring the pitiful noises he and Teyla were making, "But you, Teyla? Haven't you been drinking that stuff since you were eight or something?"
Teyla, slouched balefully over some coffee (which she only drank when she was hung over - if she weren't so terrifying like this, John would've thought it was cute how much sugar and cream she put into it), peered at Rodney through pink plastic sunglasses with rhinestones around the frames. "This was the first time I've drunk anything in almost a year and a half, Rodney," she hissed.
"It took you six months to become more of a lightweight than Sheppard?" Ronon asked. He was still wearing his purple bird skull amulet.
"Hey," John protested, or tried to, but he kept nodding off into his own cup of coffee.
Rodney poked John under the table. "Are you dying?"
"If I am, I'm taking you with me," John said.
Rodney smiled at that, and John squinted at him. He looked almost pretty, in this early light; Rodney had never been good-looking in any way that John had understood, but he could almost get, now, what attracted women to him, aside from the brains and the sense of humor and the occasional flashes of extraordinary kindness and bravery.
"John," Rodney said, almost tentatively.
"Mmm," John replied.
"You're uh… holding my hand," he said.
John looked down; his hands were there, bracing his chin so he didn't slide down onto his tray. "What?"
Gently, he felt a tug on his tail and - oh God - he had been holding Rodney's hand, after catching it when it had poked at his shin. He was too nauseated to blush, fortunately.
"Sorry," he said casually, and let go, curling his tail tightly around his leg and tapping it against his ankle. "So!" he said, trying for cheerful, "You and Keller?"
Rodney frowned. "Me and Keller what?"
"I must go, it is time for Torren's… nap," Teyla lied badly, and scooted out of there. Ronon didn't even make an excuse, just got up and left, stealing a piece of bacon off of John's tray.
"Nothing," John muttered, and got up. "I'll see you later."
They didn't have anything to do, they didn't have anywhere to go -their next mission wasn't until tomorrow - so John staggered back to his room and went back to sleep. When he woke up, the sun was setting, and his tail was curled loosely around his cock.
"Oh, hell no," John muttered, and got up to take a long, cold shower.
(Teyla, weirdly, didn't have the long, skinny tail that the guys had -hers was thicker, almost like a kangaroo's tail. She could inflict some damage with it, though; she and Ronon started practicing immediately with the sticks, and she'd invented new moves to integrate into the style. John had, so far, managed to successfully avoid any retraining sessions, but she had that gleam in her eye and it was probably smart to submit now. She had put a beautiful bracelet on her kind-of-wrist, and it jingled softly as she walked. John had been babysitting one day for her and Kanaan, and the first time Torren had stopped fussing was when they heard, very softly, the bells of Teyla's bracelet, coming closer down the hallway.)
Meanwhile, the SGC had been mulling over the whole "SGA-1 has tails, what the fuck do we do now" and had issued a ruling. Woolsey summoned them to a meeting and laid it out for them.
"They want them removed," he said bluntly, "But they realize that there's a problem with that as a verdict. Teyla and Ronon are not, strictly speaking, under their authority."
"Not even loosely speaking," Ronon commented, his voice relaxed but his tail snapping from side to side.
"Ye-es," Woolsey said, uncomfortable. "At any rate, this means that they would have to require only Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay to have them removed, and they're a little unsure of their precedents. So they've stated formally that they will require you to hide all evidence of your… condition, even to other members of the SGC, if and when you return to Earth."
Rodney looked pleased. "Well, they've actually issued a ruling that makes sense. I'm amazed."
"This was after extensive petitioning on my part, Dr. McKay," Woolsey said. "You have all shown to me the enormous advantages of this… situation: our trading is up, our favorables are up among the inhabitants -"
"I didn't know they had Gallup in the Pegasus Galaxy," John muttered.
"And it seems to have improved Dr. McKay's efficiency in the lab quite dramatically." Woolsey tidied the papers in front of him. "Therefore, it is up to you what happens now."
John gritted his teeth and wrapped his tail tightly around his leg.
"So, I'm going back to Isediln," John announced at breakfast a couple of days later. He concentrated on spreading the jelly completely over the slice of toast. "If anyone wants to come with me, that'd be fine, but you don't have to. It's not a… mission. It's just a thing."
"You want it off," Ronon said.
John, still watching his knife, nodded.
Teyla cleared her throat; John's eyes flickered up to her. She smiled, and it looked a little bit sad. "I will go with you," she said, "If you would like company."
"Thanks," John said.
"Wait a minute, you're getting rid of it?" Rodney demanded.
John shrugged, and forced himself to look Rodney in the eye. "None of my pants fit right any more," he said. "It's either this, or write out a requisition for new BDUs, and you know how much I hate paperwork."
Rodney's mouth thinned, but he didn't say anything else. John bit into his toast.
"Why did you remove it?" Rodney demanded.
John stared at him; it was two o'clock in the morning. Walking out of the temple sans tail, John had almost fallen over; Teyla had had to give him her arm until he'd figured out his balance again, halfway back to the gate. They'd gotten back so late that he'd just given the briefing and collapsed straight into bed, where he'd laid awake, feeling more comfortable and lonely than he had in almost a month.
"Rodney, I'm not having this conversation," he said, and tried to close the doors.
Rodney ignored him, of course, and shoved his way into the apartment. "What? Do you think the rest of us are freaks? Are you going to get a new team together, one that isn't so embarrassing? What is your problem, here?"
"I don't have a problem, but I can't go back to the SGC with a tail, Rodney."
"Because it's stupid!"
"To you, sure. But—"
"Is it because it looks weird? Because for a while, you were blue, and we weren't passing judgment on that—"
"It isn't that, Jesus!" John yelled, and bit his lip. "Look, you and Ronon and Teyla are fine with it, and I'm fine with you guys, but it's just not something I'm comfortable with, so—"
"Oh, it's not something you're comfortable with," Rodney snapped, lashing his tail across the floor. "Because God knows you've removed so much of yourself for the good of the Air Force or the good of Atlantis or the good of the universe, what's one more thing?"
That hit him like a gut punch, but at the same time - "Have you been talking to Teyla or something?"
"Yes, and that isn't the point!"
John closed his eyes, because if he couldn't see exactly where Rodney was, he wouldn't be able to grab him and beat the shit out of him. Grab him and shake him until his neck snapped. Grab him and—
"You know, it hasn't really changed you," John said slowly. "I could always tell what you were thinking. But now, all I have to do is watch Ronon's tail, or Teyla's, and I can tell if they're annoyed or if they're happy or whatever. Do you know how bad that would be in a negotiation? Or an attack? What if it gives our positions away?"
"Please, I've done that before we ever had extra appendages," Rodney snorted.
"I'm just not—people knew that I was, they knew that I—"
Rodney was looking at him, examining him. "Holy crap," he said, "That hand holding—"
"They're not hands," John protested feebly.
"Christ," Rodney muttered, and kissed him.
John had expected, if he'd ever expected this, to fight back. To maybe punch Rodney in the face, or kick him, tell him no way, he wasn't like that. He'd expected, if he'd ever given it a moment's thought, that maybe he would be the one to kiss Rodney, to pull him in and suck at his always-moving tongue, to bite at the sagging corner of his mouth, to press in and take what he wanted, if he'd wanted it. But he'd never done it, so he had always assumed that he must not really want it, after all.
(Rodney's tail was pale and a little pink, like the rest of his skin, with a dusting of golden-brown hair where it melted smoothly into his back. John teased him for being the only man with no back hair but with tail hair, and Rodney slapped him on the back of the head, naked and grinning, his tail wrapped around John's waist.)