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Fic: Noise/Signal (McKay/Sheppard, PG)

Title: Noise/Signal
Author: temaris
Recipient: sarka
Rating: PG
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Warning: Mild crack. Reckless approach to reality based reality.


John frowned a little, then shrugged. "And you're sure this stuff doesn't have anything in it?"

"No," Teyla repeated, a faint edge of exasperation in her voice. "I have been here many times, and it is simply ceremonial." The paint on her cheekbones caught the light as she spoke, and John felt that on the whole, it didn't really lend authority so much as sparkle as it glittered.

"If they don't think we're dressed without it, Colonel," McKay smirked at him, "then I don't know about you, but I don't feel like walking around naked."

John couldn't help wondering just when he'd become the cautious one in the team. He raised an eyebrow at McKay and his unwonted gung-ho attitude towards sparkly cosmetics.

McKay looked shifty for a second. "Besides, the energy readings clearly indicate technology well beyond the capabilities of these people." In someone else's mouth that might not have sounded offensive, John reflected. Really, it was a shame that they could communicate so readily with all these alien races. Eyes were beginning to narrow and darken around them and he glared at McKay.

"Shut up. Fine. If this goes horribly wrong it's your fault."

"Well, you first, Colonel," McKay gestured expansively, "I'd hate to be allergic to the paint."

"Of course." He turned back to the two children holding the pots of face paint, "Go right ahead." The boy's anxious look vanished and with a wide smile he daubed some of the greenish glittery stuff onto John's cheekbones. The kid finished up by ducking his head in what might have been a bow, but could have been an attempt to conceal giggles, and moved right on to Teyla, who smiled at him as he repeated the face painting.

"No funny smells, Colonel? Any giddiness? Sudden urge to sing?"

"Sudden urge to strangle someone," he mumbled, and Rodney brightened.

"Perfectly normal then. Go on." He stepped back and ushered the kids towards Ronon with a sweeping gesture. Ronon gave him a narrow look, but submitted with good grace to the girl's pot of paint and small hands.

She turned with a smile to McKay who pursed his lips, and leaned in to sniff it. He huffed, and grudgingly conceded, "It might be safe. No citrus."

John groaned.

"What? Wait!" McKay jerked his head back from the kid attempting to paint his other cheekbone, "Are you feeling sick, Colonel?"

John rolled his eyes, trying to ignore the sparkly glitter on his cheekbones. "If I thought for one moment all this concern was for my health I'd be touched, McKay. I'm fine."

"And looking very pretty too with all the blue glitter."

"Thank you." He glanced at Teyla and Ronon, "Looks more silvery to me."

"Well, sure, if you're blind," McKay snapped, stepping closer to them and peering. "No, wait, you're right." He frowned. "What color is--"


"Hmm." He brightened. "Perfectly simple explanation, the boy had a different pot of paint to the girl."

For a moment John hoped that it really was as simple as that. Teyla was shaking her head thoughtfully.

"I have never seen a different color for off-worlders," she said. "It is always dark green with white specks in it."

"Oh." McKay sounded almost set back by this. He reached over and grabbed one of the pots out of the boy's hand, tilting it to catch the light. "He used this one, right?"

"I think so."



"Here, stick your finger in." He held out the pot imperiously, and after a quick glance for confirmation to John, who nodded, Ronon swiped his finger through it. "Hmm. Teyla would have been better," McKay remarked and lifted Ronon's hand to the light, peering closely at the finger. "Rub it over the palm of your hand." Ronon looked at him a little oddly but did so. "Hmm." He turned Ronon's hand back and forth. "Colonel, your hand please."

John stepped closer and held out his hand. "I didn't know you cared, McKay."

Rodney blinked at him, then appeared to realize he was holding hands with two men. "Oh grow up, Sheppard," he said, and clasped Ronon and John's hands together firmly, squishing their palms together. He smirked faintly, and added, "You may now kiss the bride." John and Ronon released hands and glared at him even as McKay grabbed for John's hand and twisted it to angle the maximum amount of light onto it, then turned it back and forth.

"Hey, easy."

"Definitely blue." Rodney let go his hand and fished for his scanner. "Hmm."

"Would you like to stop humming and find an actual tune?"

"Is there a problem, Doctor McKay?"

"I don't know, that's why I'm looking."

The children were whispering urgently at each other, looking worried, and John frowned. "Teyla --"

"Agreed, Colonel." She smiled gently at the two children, "Is there a problem?"

Both kids mutely shook their heads.

"Okay," John said, and crouched down to look into their eyes. "If there isn't a problem, do you know why they came out different colors?"

They shook their heads, eyes wide, and an adult voice chimed in from behind them, "It signifies nothing ill, traveler."

John straightened and the four of them automatically stepped back into a defensive formation. The local smiled at them and spread her hands in a friendly fashion.

"I am Efanwy, Solasen of Boros, and you are?"

"John. Of Terra. Rodney, also of Terra." He glanced at Teyla who smiled and took a step forward to introduce herself.

"Teyla, of Athos that was."

"Ronon, of Sateda that was."

Efanwy closed her eyes and pressed her closed fists to the hollow of her throat. "Your grief is ours."

"Thank you," Teyla said softly. There was a long, soft silence, and then Efanwy spoke up again.

"We have little to trade, but we are always interested to meet new travelers and hear their stories, and it must be a strange one indeed that brings together two gheru and two from a world I have never seen," she smiled at the group. "Perhaps you will share the story over first-meal?"

"Gheru?" Rodney interrupted? "Who are 'gheru'?"

"The ghost-burdened wanderers." Efanwy looked puzzled.

"Not really feeling hugely enlightened here," McKay said and Ronon scowled at him.

"People whose world has fallen to the Wraith," he said shortly.

Teyla nodded, "Another way to put it is travellers without a home to return to." She smiled at Efanwy, "New Athos is becoming a home, but it still seems a little strange to all of us."

"Your world still stands, then," Efanwy said to McKay and he nodded, looking suspicious.

"It is difficult to reach, so we are mostly based on New Athos," John interrupted smoothly. "And we were wondering about the colors in the --" he prodded at his face. The glitter didn't come off on his fingers, and he scratched at it lightly.

" I haven't seen that happen before. Maybe that batch of semill was off," she said cheerfully. "Nothing to worry about."

"The kids seemed pretty worried," John said mildly, and she smiled easily back at him.

"Just an old ghost story," she said cheerfully, "We don't see the color change very often these days, and there's an old myth about the colors and the Ghost-burdened."

"Because that's not worrying at all," Ronon murmured.

"Ronon." Teyla said with a sharp look.

"I'm with dreadlocks," McKay said. "Ghost bound?"

"Ones who speak with the souls of the dead."

"Getting creepier, Sheppard."

Efanwy shook her head. "Usually it's just a skin reaction."

"Maybe it's reacting to the ATA." John suggested and McKay raised his eyebrows at him. "Unlike some people I have both brains and hair," he grinned.

"Hilarious." //Not a bad idea though//

John nearly tripped over, "What did you just say?"

"You're exactly half the wit you think you are?"

"No, no, no, no, you said it was a good idea."

"I did not."

John stopped dead. "'Not a bad idea', those were your exact words."

//Did I say that out loud?//

"Yes, yes you did."

McKay stopped in his tracks. "Yes I did what?"

"Say it out loud." John looked around and discovered all four of them staring at him with various levels of concern. "Didn't you?"

McKay's face darkened. "No." //Colonel, repeat this word: laminar.//

"Why laminar?"

McKay scrubbed a hand over his face. "That's all we needed. Telepathy."

"Well shit."

Efanwy smiled brightly, "The gift of the Ancestors! You are very fortunate."


"The blood work shows nanites," Miko said, with entirely unnecessary cheerfulness. "Small enough to cross the blood brain barrier, and apparently fully capable of integrating with the speech and thought processing centers of the brain. They are scattered everywhere."

Dr Keller nodded, "It has some really fascinating implications for neurological science--"

"Nanites," John said flatly. "In my brain. Forgive the lack of scientific curiously, how do we get them out?

"An EMP is contraindicated," she said instantly. "We can try filtration, but honestly, anything small enough to cross the bbb is unlikely to be hindered by anything bigger than a molecular level filter, and we'd end up removing erythrocytes and lymphocytes long before we impacted the nanites.

"Telepathic nanites."

"Short range radio nanites, powered off of bio-energy and activated by the ATA gene," Rodney said cheerfully. "Fortunately, I don't appear to have the correct receptors to receive broadcast."

John gave him a look that could curdle beer, never mind milk. "So I can't switch off Channel Ego, and you have full broadcasting rights. Fabulous."

"That, or you're just not broadcasting for some reason. Try thinking really loudly, Colonel," Miko advised.

"I miss the days when you were shy and unable to snark out loud," John mourned gently. //Doctor McKay, DO YOU READ ME--// He stopped short as Rodney clapped his hands to his head.

"Ow. Owowowow. Also: ow."

"Huh." Miko said thoughtfully. "Apparently intent is required for the Colonel to broadcast to you, Doctor McKay, but you are--" she paused, coughed, and before she could continue, Keller said brightly,

"That's our Rodney, completely unfiltered, 24/7." She smiled beatifically at John. "You lucky, lucky man."

John and Rodney looked at each other, horrified.


//Strictly speaking, it's not unfiltered, //


"I mean, you're not catching every stray thought that goes through my brain, just the top level ones that I've fully articulated."

"Not all that comforting."

"But useful!"

"Dangerous, distracting, dangerous, nanites, nanites in my BRAIN. See also: dangerous."

"Telepathy! So awesome. Also, you can't actually stop me!" Rodney had a giddy look on his face as though contemplating all the pubescent fantasies of a kid with too much intelligence and not enough to do.


"I have no idea how you managed to articulate that glottal stop of a thought, but I am reluctantly impressed. Can you do emoticons too?"

Sheppard glowered at him, and carefully formed his thoughts. //YOU'LL REGRET IT WHEN I DO THIS ALL THE TIME// It wasn't like he meant to shout, it just kind of came out that way. He explained as much once Rodney picked himself and his mug (now empty) up off the floor.

"Yes, fine I take the point, your telepathy is overwhelming and huge. Now put it away."

"Your puny brain is intimidated by my superior nanite broadcasting skillz."

Rodney didn't even pretend to hide the eye roll.


The erection wasn't entirely a surprise. John had been waking up with morning wood with moderate regularity since puberty.

He wasn't really surprised either by the silent, yet -- he sighed. Yes. -- penetrating commentary of semi-articulated self-praise and self...stimulation, all in Rodney's dulcet, broken, hitching tones.


The silence was blissful but temporary.


"I'm sorry?"

"Well, I'm convinced," John said, and fished out his combat knife and started meticulously picking under his fingernails with it. "No, really."

Rodney squirmed uncomfortably. "I was curious what level those kind of -- thoughts -- just science! -- posterity --" He trailed off into unintelligibility.

"Well, now you and your posterior know." He really wasn't in the mood, having lost precious sleep to McKay. Also, masturbating for science was the dumbest excuse ever. He kind of wished he'd thought of it first, but was absolutely no way he was going to give McKay the satisfaction. Also, given the whole SHOUTY TELEPATHY problem he probably couldn't have pulled off having accidental orgasms in Rodney's direction, no matter how carefully he finessed it.

He squinted at Rodney out of the corner of his eye. He was actually slumped into his chair, sulking. John smiled, and switched hands with the knife.

Rodney swallowed hard. It didn't stop him talking. John sighed a little in the back of his mind, half listening to Rodney's big old brain ticking away with justifications and pseudo-science and random appreciations of the strength of John's hands, or the size of his package--

He glared at Rodney. //NOT APPROPRIATE//

"Ow! Nose bleed!"

John rolled his eyes. It seemed to be happening a lot lately. "You do not have a nose bleed."

"You shouldn't wear clothes that are too tight," Rodney said. It was almost an apology, except for the way it blamed John for Rodney's inability to keep his eyes where they were supposed to be.

John's twitched eyebrow seemed to convey the full message. Fuck the nanites.

Rodney blushed and mumbled, "Sorry."

John put the knife away. Rodney's blush wasn't cute and his apology was barely adequate, it was just his nails were clean now. Well, until they went off Atlantis again.

//Telepathic sex would be awesome// "I didn't say that!" Rodney blurted instantly. "It wasn't me, and you can't prove it was!"

"For you, maybe. I'm not a big fan of inducing migraines in my partners." John quirked a grin at him. "Besides, I've kind of been expecting that thought off of you for days. I'm surprised it took this long."

Rodney smirked. "I didn't want to frighten you off completely?"

"You do not have that good of a filter."

Rodney smirked wider.

"You do not."

"Bet you I do."


He really really didn't.

It wasn't a problem, as it turned out.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:23 pm (UTC)
Loved this story :)
Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
This did make me giggle, I loved this, and their reactions.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
I kind of love the idea of telepathy-inducing glitter. :) Their reactions are wonderful and entirely in character - well done!
Dec. 23rd, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Newsletter 12-23
User trobadora referenced to your post from Newsletter 12-23 saying: [...] [PG-13] : Noise/Signal [...]
Dec. 24th, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
Hee, hee, hee. Telepathic sex. Rodney doesn't have normal fears.
Fun story. You had me smiling.
Dec. 24th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
Mmm, I find myself admiring John's package quite a bit, myself - can't blame Rodney there. John has this way of walking like has to make room for himself...ANYWAY. I love telepathy ♥ I could totally see Rodney broadcasting freely to John, including when he was having 'private moments' XD This fic made me smile, I enjoyed it a great deal!
Dec. 25th, 2012 03:54 am (UTC)
I really love the idea that John's mind is louder than Rodney's is, even if he's being a little sneaky about the broadcast orgasm issue.

Rodney's filter issues to the side, I'll bet the telepathic sex really was awesome...
Dec. 25th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, Santa, thank you! That is exactly what I wanted!

Telepathic paint! That's awesome, and so totally random. And John being loud and Rodney being insistently there... Ohh, I can just see it.

Thank you so much, I love my present :D
Dec. 26th, 2012 10:17 am (UTC)
ROFL. I lobed the story. Telepathy inducing glitter paint. I laughed: a lot! I'm sure they'll be very happy together.
Dec. 28th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
LOL Very amusing!
Jan. 2nd, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
Made me laugh! :-D
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:57 am (UTC)
*snicker* That was cute!
Jan. 3rd, 2013 06:00 am (UTC)
Also, masturbating for science was the dumbest excuse ever.

OMG, Santa!!! I would like you to call down to my hotel's front desk and explain the cackling emanating from my room the last ten minutes!!! ::snark:: Oh, but you have a way with words. Well done!
Jan. 3rd, 2013 07:24 am (UTC)
This is fun. I liked John's shouty telepathy and Rodney's unfiltered 24/7 ego radio and his masturbating for science (excuse).
Jan. 5th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
hee hee made me laugh! :)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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