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Fic: 12 Days of Christmas

Story: 12 Days of Christmas
Author: lunasky
Pairing: Rodney McKay/John Sheppard
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Early Season 2
Summary: Someone's sending Rodney the 12 Days of Christmas and to no one's surprise, he's allergic to birds.
A/N: Written for paradise_city

12 Days of Christmas

1.

Rodney should have known it was too good to last. No one was trying to kill him and he was enjoying a rare, blissful night of sleep; the first night of such sleep that he was able to enjoy since coming to Atlantis.

This was due in large part to the fact that last night had been the Atlantis Christmas Party.

The Wraith thought they were dead, they had a working ZedPM and the Daedalus regularly brought them fresh rations and supplies. That meant that this year, they actually got to eat real turkey instead of a hairy bird from the mainland and got to drink real alcohol instead of the turpentine that Zelenka made in his spare time.

And though no visions of sugarplums danced in his head, he was dreaming quite happily. Large, steaming cups of Tim Horton's coffee that Elizabeth had given him as a present. ...not too bitter, not too weak...with just a hint of milk...

Chirp.

In his dream, Rodney looked inside his coffee cup, shook his head and then resumed cuddling and stroking his coffee. It was just perfect.

Chirp.

Rodney's brain slowly starting whirring, unable to reconcile the noise he heard with the dream. There was no chirping in coffee; or in Atlantis for that matter. He slowly felt himself being pulled from the clutches of his sweet coffee.

Chirp.

Rodney cracked open an eyelid. Before the world could fully dissolve into view, he saw something flutter around in front of him.

Chirp.

The scream that came out of his mouth was purely reflexive. The bird however, freaked out and started attacking with more vengeance, causing Rodney to scream even louder. Grabbing his pillow to use as a weapon and swinging his arms around wildly, Rodney also managed to grab the radio that was on his nightstand and direct some screaming into it as well.

The bird squawked as he clipped it, and a few feathers flew into the air. Just as things were starting to get ugly, and Rodney was contemplating how much nerve gas he'd have to release into his room to kill the damn thing, a platoon of marines ripped open his door.

The bird, which was still fluttering around like mad, dive-bombed the marines, and caused a rather overenthusiastic Private to start shooting at it with his P-90. Bullets ricocheted around them as the bird dashed out the room and flew down the hallway.

"What's going on?" Sheppard asked, panting, arriving shortly after the shooting stopped.

"It was just a bird, sir. Everything's okay," the Sergeant responded. She was now holding the Private's rifle and he was sporting a bruise on the backside of his head.

Sheppard turned to McKay with a raised an eyebrow.

Clutching his chest, Rodney was too busy crouching in a safe corner of his room to give any explanation. Going from deep unconsciousness to near death in the space of a few seconds was very bad for his blood pressure. He stood there for several minutes just catching his breath.

"Your marines just tried to kill me!"

Sheppard looked untroubled. "People try and kill you everyday, Rodney. Nice plant, by the way."

Rodney stopped in mid-deep breath and wondered for just a second if everyone in Atlantis had just gone completely mad. It was his third scariest nightmare that he would find himself unaffected by a psychoactive reagent while everyone around him went completely insane.

Sheppard pointed to the opposite side of his room. Rodney turned his head and sure enough, there was a small tree in a pot. Unfortunately, had no recollection how it got there. It was possible that someone...maybe Katie, had given it to him, last night at the party. Everything after those shots he did with Carson was a bit of a blur. Why the hell would anyone give him a plant though?

"Damn, Rodney, you lucked out. All I got was this lousy t-shirt," Sheppard smiled, pointing to the black t-shirt he was wearing under his half open jacket. Rodney had seen it last night when Elizabeth was handing out her gifts to everyone. It said: My wonderful, smart, capable leader went back to Earth for Christmas shopping and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

Rodney glared at him, glared at the tree and then turned back and glared at Sheppard again. "That's what you get for booby-trapping her office with mistletoe when you knew she had a meeting with Kavanagh the next day. Now, don't you and your gun-crazy army men have a bird to hunt down, or something? I'd like to get back to bed without being at risk of becoming collateral damage."

Sheppard smirked and then turned around and directed the marines slowly out of the room. Just as they were leaving, Rodney heard the radio crackle in his hand. Apparently the bird had found its way into the mess hall and was now eating all the fuchsia colored sweet beans that were supposed to be cranberries. Rodney shuddered as he remembered eating those last night and silently wished the bird good luck with that as he crawled back into bed.

Pulling the covers over his head, Rodney made a mental note to bring Katie some flowers or something when he woke back up again. If she had given him that plant, maybe she had finally forgiven him for the unfortunate incident with the spatula.



2.

The next day, the squawking woke him up before his stuffed up nose even had the chance. Wearily cracking open his eye, Rodney practically jumped out of his bed again when he saw a flurry of feathers and wings. At least this morning they were attacking each other and not him.

He pulled himself up and into a tight corner of his bed, as far away from the warring birds as possible. Reaching over to his right, he fumbled for his radio while rubbing his itchy eyes.

"Sheppard, this is McKay. I seem to have a bird problem, again. Except now there are more of them. Could you come down to my quarters please? Now?"

The radio was silent for a minute before Sheppard responded. He sounded tired and not very impressed. "What is it McKay? I finished my shift two hours ago and just got to sleep. If you don't want the pet bird, let it go outside."

"Yes well, you see, I'm allergic to birds and now I have three of them in my room, and they're fighting over...HEY!"

~~~

Rodney dragged the tree back into the Botany lab with one hand, and cradled his ripped Pi t-shirt in the other. The bird that had made its home in the tree, kept circling around him, touching down periodically on whatever was nearby. When he got over to Katie's desk, he sneezed.

"Katie," he said, depositing the potted tree by her desk. "Thanks for bringing the tree back, but actually you should probably keep it here -"

"What are you talking about Rodney?" she cut him off, not looking nearly as happy with him as he thought she should be, especially if she was giving him all these presents.

"I can't keep the tree in my room; it and the birds are making my allergies act up. Not that I don't appreciate the gifts, I do. But I'm really not much of a bird person. See, I had this cat, back on earth, and she loved birds. Not in a cuddly kind of way obviously, more in a eat-them kind of way, but I've just never found them that appealing as pets. Plus, I'm really allergic."

"I didn't give you any birds," Katie said, glaring at him, "as I told you yesterday. But then I guess you were too busy talking to listen. Also, I didn't return the tree you brought over yesterday. I put it in the greenhouse and it's still there. I just took a sample from it half an hour ago."

Rodney looked over in the direction of the greenhouse, and sure enough, there by the door was the tree he'd brought over before. He looked back at the tree he had just dragged over and then back to the tree in the greenhouse. They looked identical.

The bird circled his head and then decided to land on his shoulder and peck at his ear.

"Will you shoo!" Rodney swatted at it away and then sneezed again.

"Where are you getting all these trees from, anyway?" Katie asked, eyeing the bird and yet obviously trying to hide her curiosity.

Just at that moment, two of the large birds that had been in his room earlier, came flying into the Botany lab and settled on top of some equipment in the corner. Some of the botanists pointed and shouted excitedly while others did the smart thing and called for help.

"Are those your birds?" Katie asked, picking up the broom that was over in the corner.

"Not mine personally," Rodney tried to explain. "They were just in my room this morning."

Katie rolled her eyes. "Rodney. Are they dangerous? Zoology hasn't finished cataloging all the species from the mainland. Where did you get them? Do they need to be quarantined?"

"I don't know! What part of 'they were just in my room when I woke up' don't you understand? I thought you were giving me presents."

Katie thought about it for a moment, then turned and started swatting him with the broom instead. "So, you bring me presents you don't want, that some other girl gave you?"

Rodney yelped as she hit him repeatedly and the bird that was hovering around flew back into the tree and started chirping happily. "No, no, no! I didn't mean that..." but Katie wouldn't listen. The entrance to the lab quickly became blocked as marines and zoologists flooded the lab and Rodney had to hide among them in order to escape.


3.

Rodney woke up three hours earlier than normal because he couldn't breathe. His nose was stuffed up and he felt like his head was located two miles under the sea. It was still dark outside his window, but Rodney could tell he wasn't alone. There was an odd heaviness to the silence in his room, as if there were a bunch of people hiding, waiting to come out and yell surprise.

Dread settled in the pit of his stomach. He hated surprises. Reaching out with his mind he flicked the lights on. As his eyes adjusted, he focused on yet another bird in a tree, identical to the ones he'd gotten for the last two days, another two, slightly larger birds sitting on his dresser, in a nest that looked to be made out of paper, and at the foot of his bed now, were three chickens. The birds all looked up at him expectantly with their unblinking eyes.

The pressure in his sinuses doubled.

~~~

Elizabeth eyed him skeptically. "Who exactly is trying to kill you, Rodney?"

"Anyone? Everyone? The number of people who would stand to gain from my demise are innumerable. I can count half a dozen from my staff alone," he answered huffily. His ears were clogged and his voice sounded muted in his head. He'd called a meeting with him, Elizabeth and Sheppard in the hopes of getting to the bottom of this, but neither of them was taking him very seriously.

"By sneaking into your room at night and giving you birds? That's an awfully complicated way to try and kill someone," Sheppard added unhelpfully. He still looked tired, and Rodney briefly wondered why he wasn't getting any sleep. It's not like anyone was currently trying to kill him. "If someone was really trying to kill you, why wouldn't they just use a more efficient method?"

Rodney sputtered. "Because they enjoy cruel and unusual torture? It's not like we haven't met a few of those kinds of people here in the Pegasus galaxy. And to make it worse, not only are they trying to kill me, but they're trying to destroy my career as well. Those stupid dove-birds built a nest out of my paper on the angular momentum of wormholes. All my notes, months of work - gone!"

"Not to dismiss your paper here Rodney, but where are all the birds now?" Elizabeth asked.

Rodney crossed his arms in front of him, letting his sarcasm permeate every word. "Because clearly, they're the most important thing here."

Elizabeth gave him a look.

"The zoologists came and took them to their labs to quarantine them or whatever it is they do there. One of the doves got away and Dr. Gale is still trying to track down the first bird that your marines tried to shoot with a machine gun," Rodney said, pointing at Sheppard. "Obviously we saw who won that stand off."

"Do they have any information yet if the birds are dangerous?"

"Atlantis is pretty smart. I think we'd be in quarantine again if there was any danger," Rodney said, working his jaw and swallowing to try and unclog his ears. It only made things worse.

"Exactly," said Sheppard. "See, you got nothing to worry about."

"Except for my allergies! Except for being pecked to death while I sleep! Not to mention the research that they destroyed-"

Elizabeth put her hand on his arm to calm him down. "Rodney, you look like hell. Why don't you go see Carson for some antihistamines, and get some rest? Colonel Sheppard will assign you a guard to watch over you, okay?"

Sheppard muttered something under his breath that Rodney couldn't make out, but Elizabeth gave him a look that shut him up. "Fine. I'll set up a detail."

Rodney slumped down on the table he'd been leaning on. All of his energy was suddenly gone and he wanted nothing more than to do exactly what Elizabeth had suggested. But because nothing could ever go as planned here, the bird that the Private had missed two days ago, picked that exact moment to fly towards them and into the office.

Rodney jumped off the desk and hid behind Elizabeth. The bird, swooped in, touched down on her desk for a second and then decided to perch on Sheppard's shoulder instead.

"Hey there, little fella," John cooed and the bird started chirping happily.

Rodney sighed. "Why am I not surprised in the least?"


4.

Rodney went to bed only after checking every last corner of his room for any traces of birds or plant life. Finding none, he double checked the guard outside his door five times before finally crawling under the covers. The meds that Carson had given him were starting to kick in and felt blissfully drugged.

He woke up the next morning, with the sun shining through his small, multi-colored window, feeling refreshed and a little bit less like killing everyone in sight. He stretched, his arms above his head, hitting a large bird that was sitting on his headboard.

The bird chirped in response and then started a loud song. Three other large birds that were also sitting on top of his headboard joined in, making a loud, pretty melody that most people would probably have loved to hear.

Rodney wasn't most people. He swore, kicked back the covers and found that the reason his feet were so warm was that the three hens had been laying eggs on the foot of his bed.

The two doves on his dressers squawked when they saw him and the bird in the tree was back as well.

Rodney jumped out of bed cursing. He stubbed his toe on the foot of his bed to avoid stepping on one of the singing birds that had decided to follow him and threw open the door to his quarters.

John was sitting in a chair, leaning back so that it was only resting on two legs.

"Oh, how nice. I'm glad to see that this is a relaxing job for you."

John dropped the chair back to all fours with a thud and stood up. "Good morning to you too Rodney."

"No. Not a good morning! Did you have a nice nap? Don't they teach you how not to fall asleep while you're on the job?"

John's eyes narrowed into a scowl.

"What are you doing here, anyways? Don't you have minions for these lowly jobs?"

"If the Chief Scientist thinks someone's trying to kill him then it's not a lowly job, now is it?" John asked, quietly. "Though why anybody would want to kill you, I have no idea. Especially if you're always this cheery in the morning."

Rodney sputtered. "Then why is there a room full of birds in there!"

John stared at him in disbelief. "No way. I know for sure no one has come anywhere near your quarters for the last three hours and the other marines reported no disturbances as well."

"Well, go look," Rodney said, opening the door to his room and gesturing him in. The singing birds were still singing, but their song had changed into more of a harmonized hooting than anything else. The hens were clucking and the doves that had been nesting in his copies of Astronomy and Astrophysics, decided to make a break for it as soon as they saw the open door. The bird in the tree just blinked at him and kept sitting there.

Sheppard hit his radio. "Control Room, this is Sheppard. Can you get someone from Zoology down to Dr. McKay's quarters, stat?"

Rodney watched as John listened to the response and then acknowledged his own before turning back to him. John was looking even more tired, and Rodney wondered again why he'd taken a shift on guard when he thought it unnecessary to begin with.

"McKay, Zelenka wants you to come to the control room, he says there's something you have to see," John relayed the message, still not looking very happy. "And Dr. Gale will be here in a few minutes."

Rodney nodded. "Fine, let me change, then we'll go to the meeting."

~~~

Rodney, Elizabeth, Sheppard, and Zelenka stood around one of the main consoles in the Control Room.

"When did you notice the blip in the power supply, and why didn't you call me sooner?" Rodney demanded, glaring at Zelenka. He tried to think of an appropriate insult to add, but his brain stalled out. He shut his mouth with a click.

Zelenka rolled his eyes. "I noticed two minutes before Colonel Sheppard called me on the radio when I was going over the logs. It was not a large power drain, but it was large enough to take the sensors off line for ten seconds."

"Do we know what caused the power drain?" Elizabeth asked.

Zelenka shook his head. "No, but I'm working on it. I was checking the sensor logs prior to the drain, but I'll have to recalibrate them since they went off line. Oddly enough, the power drain happened at exactly midnight."

Rodney started rocking from his heels to his toes. His head wasn't really working as fast as he wanted it too ...He snapped his fingers as it dawned on him. "Ok, anything that precise has to be purposeful; the chances of getting a malfunction exactly at midnight are..."

"One in fifteen thousand, if you assume a malfunction could happen randomly every tenth of a second," Sheppard contributed with a smugly tired tone.

Zelenka shook his head, again. "But you'd have to subtract all the other significant times such as on the hour, and possibly every half hour or fifteen minutes..."

"Not to mention the fact that you increase the probability of mistaking an unrandom occurrence for a random one if you increase the number of unrandom criteria." Rodney said, trying to do the math in his head, but it hurt his brain. He was starting to hate Carson and his stupid drugs.

Zelenka gave him a dry laugh. "Who taught you probability theory, Rodney? A chimpanzee?"

"Gentlemen," Elizabeth said, trying to refocus their attention. "We had an unexplained power surge this morning and Rodney's had strange presents appearing in his room for the last four days. Are they related?"

"Possibly," Zelenka responded after thinking about it for a few seconds. Then snapping his fingers, he ran over to another console and started scrolling through data. After a few seconds he called them over. "The log indicates that each of the last four nights, we experienced a small power drain exactly at midnight, and that the power drain has been increasing each night. This is the first time the drain has been large enough to disabled out sensors though which is why we didn't notice before."

"I'd have noticed if I wasn't so sick or high," Rodney grumbled.

Elizabeth stepped in again, probably to stop Zelenka from insulting Rodney back. "Why don't you change rooms tonight, Rodney? If someone's getting in, even with a guard posted at your door, we have a serious security breach."

Sheppard nodded his agreement. "We'll keep the room change Need to Know only, so that we limit the number of people who know about it. I'll take a third of the watch myself. We should also increase security patrols across the city, just in case."

Elizabeth nodded. "If the power drain continues, how bad will it affect our sensors?"

Rodney plugged some numbers into his tablet. "I'll have to do some simulations, but I think we'll be okay as long as someone's keeping an eye on things tonight. Radek and I'll work on it."

"Good," Elizabeth said. "I'll talk to the Zoology and Botany labs as well, and see if they have any information on the birds and plant life you keep getting. We'll meet tomorrow at 0900. Maybe we can piece something together by then."


5.

Rodney picked the quarters on the third floor that no one liked to go near because they shared an air return with the Chemistry lab above it. They were smaller than his and the bed mattress sucked, but at least they were quiet. He even got in several hours worth of work on the sensor simulations before his body was begging for sleep. Apparently, the one dose he'd take of Carson's meds were still able knock him out, even when combated with fourteen cups of coffee.

Unfortunately, as was quickly becoming habit, he woke up several hours later in the middle of a large bird war, just as the sun was starting to come through the window.

All the birds, except for the chickens, were fighting over the tree. One of the chickens was sleeping on his head, and the other two were on either side of his pillow. He sneezed and tried to cover his face with the little bit of torn blanket he was left with.

"Colonel," Rodney said over the radio that he had kept with him. He was trying really hard not to cry.

"This is Sheppard, are you up? I'm outside your room."

"Yes, yes, I'm up. And so is the rest of the farm apparently. I could use a little help here."

As soon as Sheppard came in, the two doves and three of the four large singing birds took off down the hall, leaving the last large bird to duke it out with the small bird in the tree. Sheppard surveyed the disaster of the room.

"How did you sleep through that?"

"How did they get in?" Rodney countered miserably.

"Not on my watch and I've been here for six hours," John responded, coming closer to the bed. Suddenly his face lit up as he looked at the pillow. "Hey, are those real eggs?"

~~~

It took Dr. Gale and a team of three of his scientists to drag in the twenty one birds that they'd caught so far, into the meeting room.

Elizabeth turned to Rodney and John while they waited. "Any new birds this morning?"

Rodney shook his head. "No, just more of the same. Like yesterday."

"Though we did find five small rings on his windowsill," John added looking pleased with himself.

Elizabeth shot him a puzzled look, but she didn't have time to ask her question before all the cages were set up in the corner.

"Are these all of the birds?" Elizabeth asked, starting the meeting when everyone was finally settled into a chair.

Dr. Gale shook his head. He was looking a little tired and the hair on the back of his head was sticking up a little more than usual. "No, ma'am. Five doves escaped before we could capture them and three of the large singing birds are still free as well, though we think we have them cornered in the East Wing main air duct junction. As for the partridge that escaped five days ago, we still haven't managed to locate it. Though it likes the mess hall."

"So you've cataloged all the new species?"

"They're not new," Dr. Gale responded quickly, standing up and pointing to a cage that held a bird that had come with a tree. "This is the grey partridge or Perdix perdix, very commonly found in Europe and North America. Most definitely from Earth."

Holding up a cage with three doves in it, Dr. Gale continued. "These are common turtle doves, usually found in North Western Europe and Africa. Also definitely from Earth. These chickens are Cornish hens, and we have no idea what these birds are."

Dr. Gale put the last cage holding 5 of the large singing birds on the table. The birds kept chirping and hooting as if trying to say something. "They look like a cross between cockatiels and canaries, but about seven inches bigger than any cockatiel I've ever seen."

The meeting room was silent for a moment and then everyone started talking at once.

"I knew it!" Sheppard exclaimed happily.

"That's impossible," Zelenka said, shaking his head.

Carson just looked at the birds in disbelief.

"What do you mean they're from Earth?" Rodney demanded more loudly than anyone else. "How could they get here?"

"We ran a comparison of their DNA with our database; I'm positive that these first three types of birds are all from Earth."

Elizabeth tapped her fingers on the desk. "Is it possible that someone brought them over on the Daedalus?"

Rodney's mind tried to fight through the fog to piece it all together. "If they're using the transporters to beam them into my room that might explain the power surges we're seeing."

Elizabeth nodded and then turned back to Gale. "I guess that means the birds aren't dangerous?"

Dr Gale shook his head. "As far as I can tell, they're healthy and there's no reason why we can't cook up a few scrambled eggs."

There meeting room was filled with excited cheers.


6.

Rodney moved back to his own room that night, because there was no point in suffering on a bad mattress if he was going to be inundated with birds anyways. Besides, he had computers in his room that allowed him to set up a video recorder, a portable sensor array and still fiddle with the latest version of Flight Simulator. Lately, he'd been trying to program the Puddle Jumpers into it, but with only limited success because Microsoft sucked. He had decompiled the program and then recompiled it using his own operating system, but it still wasn't working right. Every time he engaged the cloak, the Puddle Jumper turned green instead.

The food tray that he'd picked up from the mess before it closed, sat on his desk, teasing him, so he walked over and picked up a sandwich. Looking over the program, he ate while rewiring the sensor outlet.

As he was taking a bite, someone knocked on the door

Rodney sighed irritably and went to answer it. As soon as he door opened, Sheppard let himself in.

"Colonel?"

"I figured if I was going to be up anyways standing outside your room, I could at least stand inside it and help keep you awake. Besides, I have a theory."

Rodney rolled his eyes. He'd had to turn down Carson's antihistamines to make sure he could stay awake, and as soon as John came inside, he could feel his nose starting to run. "You haven't been playing with the birds, have you?"

John smiled. "It found me in the mess hall, so I gave it some food."

"Oh great." Rodney put some distance between them and went back to his computer tablet that he'd hooked up to the sensors. When he looked up, Sheppard was still standing and looking around his room. "If you're going to stay you might as well make yourself comfortable, it's another hour until the expected power drain."

John nodded, sat down on the desk chair and wheeled it over to the table so that he could start picking at the food tray. "You're room stinks."

Rodney scowled and then set himself to finish making the final preparations. When the time approached, Sheppard silently took out his pistol and went to stand in the corner beside the bed.

"So what's that theory of yours?" Rodney asked nervously.

Sheppard just gave him a tight smile. "I'll tell you after this. If I'm right."

Rodney was about to say something when a low buzz started to sound. He looked down at the sensor data and saw that a power surge was building as predicted and then a bright light filled the room and the sensors went offline with a dull click.

Chirp, chirp, chirp.

Rodney blinked his eyes as the bright light vanished. When his vision cleared, he found himself surrounded by birds once again.

Many, many birds.

The bird in the tree was back, and so were the hens. The doves didn't waste any time, they headed directly for his pile of unread journals and started tearing them up, and the singing birds jumped on his headboard and started belting their songs out. To top it all off, there were now six new birds as well; geese. Rodney sat down on his bed in defeat and cradled his head in his hands. A second later he shifted and reached under his ass to grab the five rings he'd sat on.

Sheppard gave a loud laugh. "I knew it!"

~~~

"What do you mean someone's sending Rodney the Twelve days of Christmas?" Elizabeth asked once they'd reconvened in her office the next morning.

Not that they'd had a relaxing night. Dr. Gale had refused to take anymore birds, stating that his lab was full and that the male doves were upsetting the hens as it was. So they'd spent three hours converting an unused greenhouse into a henhouse, transferred the hens into it, and then found a small lab to house the geese. It turned out the geese were laying eggs as well, which caused Sheppard to grin even more foolishly. Unfortunately, three of the singing birds and two doves got away and forcing them to spend the next four hours trying to chase them down. They caught three of the singing birds, but that was it.

"All of his gifts correspond to verses in the song the Twelve Days of Christmas. What are we up to, day six?" When Elizabeth nodded, John broke out in a poor rendition of the song. "On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six geese-a-laying, five golden rights, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtles doves and a partridge in a pare tree."

Rodney's heart sank when he realized it was too accurate to be a coincidence. "Why would someone do this to me?"

John shrugged. "That I can't help you with."

"Have you had any luck analyzing the data?" Elizabeth asked, turning back to Rodney.

Rodney shook his head. "No, I haven't had the chance. I'm going to my lab now. I'm also going to pull all the logs from the Daedalus. If someone's been using the transporters to beam these birds into my room, there's gotta be a record of it."

"Not to mention evidence of it on the ship. No one transports 182 birds on a ship without people knowing about it and leaving behind a big mess."

Rodney did a double take and then redid the math in his head. "What do you mean 182 birds? There'll be more of them?!"

John smiled blithely. "Tomorrow's seven swans-a-swimming."


7.

John passed Rodney a beer as they sat around an empty lab. Elizabeth had suggested they find larger quarters to wait for the delivery of the animals, especially if their numbers were going to keep increasing.

"Are you sure you should you be drinking while you're taking the meds?" Sheppard asked, chugging his own back.

Rodney watched Sheppard's Adam apple bob as he drank, trying to figure him out. He still seemed tired, but at least he was slightly less tense now. If anything, Sheppard seemed to be enjoying this bizarre joke. "I can't take them, they'll knock me out, and I'm allergic to his non-drowsy kind."

Sheppard smiled. "How ironic. Well, here's to a new year then," and clinked the top of his beer bottle with Rodney's.

"We still have a few more minutes; I set my timer to go off at midnight," Rodney said, checking his watch. It was scary to think that this wasn't the first New Year's they'd celebrated on Atlantis, going by Earth time, of course. In some ways it felt like he'd been here forever and yet in others, he couldn't believe that it was already a year and a half. Rodney just attributed it to some bizarre working of space-time.

"You know, you don't have to stay with me here. You can go down to the mess hall and enjoy the festivities. If you hurry, you can still make it before the proverbial ball drops."

John waved his hand in dismissal. "No one should celebrate New Years by themselves. Besides, I'm looking forward to this."

"Right, I forgot. You like swans," Rodney said, shaking his head in mock disbelief. In reality, nothing Sheppard did surprised him anymore.

"Plus, there'll just be a lot of kissing and hugging in the mess hall."

"I like kissing and hugging-" Rodney whined, thinking about what he was missing. Not that Katie seemed that eager to forgive him after all. But to his surprise, Rodney found that he wasn't as disappointed as he thought he'd be. The timer on his watch started beeping, signaling the start of the New Year and for a second, neither of them moved. They just sat there looking at each other and Rodney had the strange notion to reach over and give Sheppard a kiss.

Before he could think about acting or not acting on his notion, the bright light appeared and deposited twenty some odd birds in front of them.

Blinking rapidly, Rodney's eyes cleared in time for him to see a large, plastic pool that was delivered along with the swans for them to swim in. A singing bird swooped down on the edge and started pecking at it until water started leaking out.

The swans started honking at the singing bird, the rest of the singing birds came along and landed on the edge and then the doves got into it as well. Before either Rodney or John could do anything, the birds had ripped the side of the pool open and a small tidal wave was coming their way.

Rodney jumped up, but the water splashed all over him anyway. As the water started spreading out evenly on the floor of the lab, John came up to him, leaned over and clinked Rodney's bottle again. "Happy New Year Rodney. Here's to another fun-filled year in Atlantis."

Rodney sighed and looked down. "And me without my goulashes."


8.

Rodney curled up under the main console in the empty lab while the birds chirped, hooted, quacked and mooed around him. Well the birds didn't moo, but the eight maids-a-milking that John had so eagerly been looking forward to, brought their own cows which did.

Rodney laid his head against the cool metal. He was exhausted, his eyes were stinging and his body was itching horribly. Yesterday had been terribly unproductive and he'd gotten no work done since everyone else in Atlantis was hung over. Which brought him to where he was now, which was in the same lab he was in yesterday, except surrounded by even more animals.

John poked his head under the console. "You want me to call Beckett?"

"No," Rodney whined wishing that he could have said yes. But if he went to bed, his problem would just be compounded when he woke up again.

"At least it's easier to round them all up here in the lab. Your quarters would have been way too cramped."

Rodney crawled out from under the desk and looked at Sheppard. "Now you herd cows too?"

Sheppard smiled. "I'm a man of many talents. Too bad the maids don't talk though. I was hoping they could tell us where they're coming from."

Rodney stared at the maids who were wandering aimlessly next to their cows when they weren't milking them. When John tried to talk to them, they had just turned and stared at him blankly.

One of the cows started chewing through control panel for the door, causing sparks to start shooting out of it. The maid put her stool down next to it and started milking away. Rodney slumped back down to the floor.

~~~

"I finished analyzing the logs from the Daedalus. There are no records of any livestock or birds being transported on board, and Hermoid has been doing maintenance on the transporter for the last two days, so there's no way it could have been used," Zelenka said, finishing his report.

Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief. "Is it possible that someone's modified the Atlantis transporter system and is using that?"

"If so, you should fire me and hire them," Rodney grumbled from his corner of the meeting room.

"Well, I'm open for suggestions."

"Have you considered the possibility that it's Atlantis doing this?" Kate Heightmeyer asked.

Rodney rolled his eyes and wondered who had invited her. "Oh yes, Atlantis suddenly woke up one morning and decided to give me presents based on the 12 Days of Christmas? What a brilliant idea."

"Rodney," Elizabeth said in a warning tone. "Let her finish."

Kate stood up. "Is it possible that someone else is projecting this idea and Atlantis is turning it into reality somehow? We know that Atlantis can pick up brainwaves of individuals with the ATA gene."

"Setting aside the leaps in transporter technology that would have to happen, and the problem of where Atlantis would get these birds and cows, you're talking about a much deeper probing of brainwaves than just sending out a command to turn the light on and off," Rodney said, unable to stop the idea from percolating in his mind. It wasn't half bad except for the fact that it was completely impossible.

"Some people have a very strong attachment to the city; maybe they're doing it unintentionally."

"There's only one person here that could have any hope of connecting to Atlantis like that-" Rodney said, freezing in mid sentence and turning to look at Sheppard.

Sheppard looked around and stood up. "What? I'm not doing anything!"

Elizabeth stood up as well. "Rodney's right, John. Atlantis has always reacted very sensitively to you."

"Maybe you're projecting something-" Kate suggested.

"I'm not projecting anything!" John yelled, interrupting her and crossing his arms defensively in front of himself. "Besides, Rodney said it's impossible-"

"Well, at least highly improbable. We've only begun to scratch the surface of all the technology we've found here."

"Thanks Rodney," John said bitterly.

Elizabeth got up and put her calming arm on Sheppard this time and forced him to turn back towards the discussion. "Let's start with looking at anything you might have touched or activated in the last week and go from there. We'll meet back here tomorrow morning again and decide what to do from there."


9.

"Can we presume that at most, this will go on for another four days?" Elizabeth said after Rodney finished his report. "Maybe it's just a matter of sitting tight and letting it take care of itself."

"Sure," Rodney replied, feeling more miserable than he'd ever felt in his life. Nine ladies dancing had appeared this morning along with the rest of the entourage and they had been as unhelpful as the maids. Five of the birds had escaped in all the dancing and milking and there was talk that the doves had started mating in the rafters of the mess hall.

On top of it all, he hadn't gotten more than a few hours of sleep in days, and his headache was reaching epic proportions. "In the meantime, we have three computers that don't work because of bird droppings, eight perforations in the main duct system caused by beaks, half a case of broken dishes in the mess hall, five broken doors that have had their wiring eaten through-"

"And a partridge in a pear tree," John added smiling.

"Not funny." Rodney snapped back. "And this is probably your fault!"

John put his hands up in innocence. "Zelenka double checked every piece of equipment I've touched in the last two weeks; he found nothing out of the ordinary."

"On a good note," Elizabeth said, interrupting them with a smile, "The mess hall was serving fresh milk for breakfast this morning and it was amazing. I never thought I'd have scrambled eggs and milk for my coffee here in Atlantis. Dr. Gale says that the doves and partridges can mate, there's mix of males and females, and we should be able to get two years of laying out of the hens."

Rodney crossed his arms and tried not to snarl. It was never good to snarl at your boss, but his patience was at an end. "Well good. At least when our ZedPM is dead, we'll have lots to eat."

The smiles and laughter died on everyone's lips.

"Is that a possibility?" Sheppard asked.

"I've analyzed the data and the energy surges of the last few nights have skyrocketed way above what our simulations predicted. If this keeps up, our ZedPM will be drained by 70% by the time we reach 12 drummers-drumming."

Elizabeth sat down with a thud. "What do you suggest?"

Rodney sighed. There was only one thing he could suggest, and it meant more work for him. "The sensor readings I took last night narrowed down the location of the power surge to the Central Wing. I just need to do a room-by-room search and hope I can find something."

Elizabeth nodded. "Should you disconnect the ZPM in the meantime?"

"No," Rodney said, shaking his head and gathering his tablet and electromagnetic sensor. "I need it connect if I hope to have any luck in finding what is causing all this."

~~~

Rodney knocked on Sheppard's door. There was a long pause before it opened and when it did, the lights inside were dim and Sheppard was standing there looking like he just woke up.

"Rodney?"

"Yes Colonel," he said, stepping by Sheppard and letting himself in.

"What are you doing here?"

Even Rodney could tell John wasn't impressed. It was a good thing was too tired to care. "Checking for electromagnetic fields. You have a very strong one here in your room."

"Can't we do this some other time? I've had even less sleep than you've had Rodney, and I just fell asleep twenty minutes ago."

"Look Colonel, I've only got an hour and ten minutes until twenty-eight birds, seventeen women and ten leaping lords appear before me. I've checked all the other rooms except yours and just as we suspected, your room is interfacing with Ancient technology."

John ran his hand through his already disheveled hair, causing it to stand up in even more directions at once. "I told you, I'm not projecting, and I'm not playing with anything Ancient. I'm just trying to get some sleep, I swear."

Rodney hardly heard him at all. The readings indicated that the electromagnetic field was being generated by the bedside table.

"What is that?" Rodney asked, pointing to what was obviously a Discman.

John looked at him like he had to be kidding. "Exactly what it looks like Rodney. My Discman. I brought it from Earth when I came here and I've had it ever since."

Rodney popped it open and extracted an unlabeled CD. "And this?"

John shrugged. "General O'Neil sent it to me on the Daedalus as part of a care package last month. I used the mistletoe to decorate Elizabeth's office and we drank the beer on New Years. The CD wouldn't play though."

The batteries to the Discman appeared to be dead, so Rodney continued looking around. Underneath the table however, he found a module sticking out from the wall that was emanating an electromagnetic field. As he was examining the module, he accidentally brought the Discman into close proximity to it, and it started to hum in his hands.

"I think this module is acting like a battery charger..." Rodney said without meaning to. Taking the headphones and putting them over his ears, Rodney was rewarded with exactly what he'd hoped. A CD full of Christmas carols and the first one happened to be the 12 Days of Christmas.

"It was you!" he shouted happily, poking John in the chest. Before John had a chance to respond however, Rodney's mind suddenly jumped ahead and stood up.

"This means...wait a second, I gotta find the schematics for the Central Wing..." Rodney said, turning around and running out the room.


10.

Rodney let himself into Sheppard's quarters and turned on the lights.

"What the-Rodney!" John yelled at him from his bed.

Rodney bounced in, went and sat down next to him on the bed and planted a big kiss on his lips.

John sputtered, but Rodney was too happy to care.

"Do you know what you did?" Rodney asked him, not bothering to hide his smile. "You found a Replicator!"

John just sat there motionless, staring at him in horror. "One of those computer things that attacked the Asgard?"

"No, no. I'm talking Star Trek! It uses similar thought sensing technology that the Puddle Jumpers do, but uses a matter-energy conversation system to replicate them into actual objects. Do you know what that means?!"

John shook his head, looking a little dazed.

"It means we can replicate drones! We can replicate control crystals! We can-"

"Replicate new ZPMs?"

"Um, no. The amount of energy required to make a ZedPM would drain the current ZedPM completely and then some...you know, law of conservation of energy and all that, but we can replicate drones! I think we were draining so much power from the ZedPM because it was creating living objects, which I guess take a lot of energy, but if we just use it to replicate inanimate objects..."

John tried to look impressed, but he yawned instead. "That's great Rodney. I'm glad you figured it out. Does this mean we can get some sleep now?"

Rodney gave him a big smile. "Yup. I went to see Carson and got some of those antihistamines, I am ready go. However, you and I still need to talk."

"Why?"

"Well the song implies...I mean...Why did it send all those things to me and not to anyone else?"

The color rose on John's cheeks as he understood what Rodney was saying. Every verse in the song began with my true love gave to me. "Look Rodney, it doesn't mean anything. It's just a stupid song. Maybe the wires got screwed up somewhere-"

Rodney leaned over and kissed him again, more gently this time. John didn't respond at first and for a long second Rodney thought he'd made a terrible mistake. Then John raised a hand to Rodney's face and kissed him back.

Rodney sank further into the kiss, until he was lying down mostly on the bed, next to him.

When they finally broke apart, John looked at him seriously. "There are so many reasons why we shouldn't be doing this."

Rodney rolled his eyes and poked him in the chest. "Move over some more, you're hogging the bed."

"Rodney..."

But Rodney wasn't in the mood to discuss any of his objections, all of which he was sure he'd already thought of and dismissed by himself. His allergies were finally subsiding and sleep was threatening to overtake him any second. He'd still never had a full night of deep, solid sleep since coming to Atlantis, and he was looking forward to enjoying one tonight. He kissed John again and John moved over giving him a little bit more room.

After a few minutes, Rodney could feel John relaxing, and he turned and spooned Rodney, putting his arm under Rodney's neck.

"So you reset this Replicator thing right?" John asked quietly.

Rodney turned his head marginally, already feeling himself slip into the sweet clutches of sleep. "Huh?"

"You know, just in case it downloaded the whole song and doesn't need the Discman plugged in anymore?"

Just at that second, a bright light filled the room and Rodney hid his head under the pillow with a groan.

The End.

Comments

( 70 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 3
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suzy_queue
Dec. 26th, 2005 02:20 am (UTC)
feedback
LOL!!! Oh, this was so cute. I love the end!
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: feedback
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
mcalex22
Dec. 26th, 2005 02:42 am (UTC)
This is one of the cutest stories I have read here in this community.

I couldn't stop laughing as Rodney was surrounded by birds, then chickens etc. And it was all tied in to Atlantis and John.

His one true love - how romantic! Gosh, it had me smiling throughout the story. What a fantastic idea and a great ending.

:XD
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad the fic worked for you. I was worried it'd be too sappy, but I guess a little romance is okay around christmas. :)
bluebrocade
Dec. 26th, 2005 04:17 am (UTC)
That was fabulous!!!

he woke up several hours later in the middle of a large bird war

LOL! Poor Rodney. And the ending was CLASSIC. Loved it!
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
margueritem
Dec. 26th, 2005 05:39 am (UTC)
LOL So fun and sweet. :) Hee.
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
ship_recs
Dec. 26th, 2005 06:39 am (UTC)
This is really fun. :)
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
fluffyllama
Dec. 26th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
Hehe, love the way you tied it in to Atlantis and the CD... great thinking :D
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Poor John, Atlantis is picking up on all his subconcious desires. :)
(no subject) - fluffyllama - Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lunasky - Jan. 4th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
burntcopper
Dec. 26th, 2005 04:01 pm (UTC)
:snickersnickermarsbar:
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
Glad I could amuse. :)
isiscolo
Dec. 26th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
Hee! Very funny, and the plot resolution is clever.
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad the ending worked out well. :)
paradise_city
Dec. 26th, 2005 07:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! The fic was fantastic--funny and clever and really very original. I loved the tech in it, and it was such an excellent plot device. I loved John and Rodney's interaction, especially as Rodney got more and more flustered with his menagerie--which, incidentally, supplied a lot of priceless visuals.

This was just all kinds of incredible and original and funny and it was such a great gift. Thank you so much. :)
paradise_city
Jan. 1st, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
If I'd have guessed who wrote this, I'd have guessed you even though I'm not familiar with your work (I'm new to fandom, so please don't take that as a slight). It was some sort of fic-centric sixth sense, I suppose.

Thanks again. This was a very fun, enjoyable piece. :)
(no subject) - lunasky - Jan. 2nd, 2006 12:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradise_city - Jan. 3rd, 2006 06:41 am (UTC) - Expand
tarlanx
Dec. 26th, 2005 11:34 pm (UTC)
LOL! That was a lot of fun! Glad Rodney realized what the song implied :-)
lunasky
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
Well Rodney's a little dense sometimes, but they don't call him a genius for nothing. :)

Glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
lunasky
Jan. 7th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad to know that it worked. :)
akimi_hime
Dec. 27th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
That was so cute. *g* Awesome.
lunasky
Jan. 7th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
Thanks! :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.
lamardeuse
Dec. 27th, 2005 03:06 am (UTC)
This is sweet and cute and *sigh*. Thank you! :)
lunasky
Jan. 7th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
My pleasure - thanks for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the fic.
darkhavens
Dec. 27th, 2005 04:20 am (UTC)
John is such a romantic, and very much Atlantis' favourite son. LOL! Wonderful!
lunasky
Jan. 7th, 2006 02:15 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Your icon's hilarious! :)
(no subject) - darkhavens - Jan. 7th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
lunasky
Jan. 7th, 2006 02:16 am (UTC)
My pleasure - thanks for the comment! I'm glad it worked out well and wasn't too predictible.
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( 70 comments — Leave a comment )

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