"Nepenthe's Kiss"

by Grey Lupous

Summary: Ten thousand year old dead plants, Broadway re-enactments, and odes to Risky Business abound (response to the sgafic Dead Plant Challenge)

Spoilers: Tiny ones for "Hide and Seek", "Suspicion", and maybe a few in between... but that's probably it. It's supposed to take place real early on.


Author's Notes: A long, long time ago (actually, October 9, 2004 to be exact), Anna (doxymom2001) issued a challenge on the sgafic list (click here for the link if you want the original challenge and perhaps story spoilers). Two years later I have torn out several clumps of my hair and my sanity has been compromised... but the challenge has been answered (in full!) Hah! As an additional note, I'd like to forewarn some readers there may be some... slight out-of-character representations as this fic goes on (trust me, I won't need to elaborate... you'll see for yourself). Feel free to e-mail me about it, just know that certain characters are meant to act... a little abnormal.

Timeline: Takes place sometime after “Suspicion” but before “Poisoning the Well” (not “The Cure”, as that’s a SG-1 episode, lol, thanks goldenstarfish for pointing that out... *facepalm*)


Thanks To: Two special ladies deserve the thanks this time around, namely Rebecca (the infamous Dr. Dredd) for putting up with my inane questions on how to perform various medical procedures, as well as my loyal beta Gayle, who without the pushing, prodding and occasional "Have you stopped pointing the gun at Carson's head yet?", this fic may have never been finished, much less seen the light of day. Words cannot express how thankful I am for her catching every error she could. I know she lurks, but may there be silent applause for her and all of her hard work.

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"Interesting."

"Please tell me that's an 'Oh, there's nothing down here so we can return to our normal lives' type of interesting."

"Huh?"

Major John Sheppard, patron saint of irritating scientists, heaved a deep sigh. "Definition of 'interesting', please."

"Holding the interest of or arousing interest." McKay continued to tap in commands on that Star Trek-like reader he always seemed to be carrying around, not even glancing up.

"I meant what's so interesting that has you muttering, smart ass."

"Why didn't you just say so?"

"McKay."

"Testy, testy," McKay tsked the major and returned to his readings as the device gave a soft beep. "Yeah, that's definitely something."

"I'm going to pretend that you actually acknowledge my presence just one more time. WHAT?"

"Hmm?" The scientist actually looked up. "Did you say something?"

"Oh nothing much. Just wondering if you were going to fill me in on your little secret."

"Secret?"

"You're trying to drive me insane, aren't you?"

"Now why would I do a thing like that? Here I am, minding my own business—"

"Ynn!" Sheppard waved a hand quickly to cut off the impending rant. "The readings. Explain."

"Oh nothing much. Just an energy spike as we passed that door."

"That door?" John indicated the small innocuous door to their right.

"That door."

"Well what are we waiting for?" He winced as soon as he heard the rhyme.

"Really, Major, it's just an energy reading. No need for song and dance."

Sheppard resisted sending a biting comment as McKay led the way back towards the small door. He still had what looked to be at least another hour exploring this floor with the man. He settled instead for his own special version of whining. "Exactly how did I get talked into babysitting you for this again?"

"Beckett's got Ford confined to the infirmary until that rash goes away, Teyla won't be back from the mainland until tonight, and oh, yes, you had 'nothing better to do'. And for the record, I'd like to add I do not need any 'babysitting'."

"Yes, that's why you've got your own special bed set aside for you in the infirmary. For only being here three months, I'd say that's a record."

"I wouldn't talk, seeing as you have your own next to mine."

"McKay."

"What?"

"Open the door."

"Right." After placing his hand on the pad, the door swooshed open in a rather unspectacular fashion. Appropriately, just like Sheppard's afternoon had been.

The room looked more like a large storage closet than an actual room. Piles upon piles of what Sheppard could only best describe as Ancient junk littered the floor, and a long dead-looking vine wrapped around one corner of the room, looking as if it was growing out of the wall itself.

McKay swept his scanner-device-thing around the room in an arc, and John couldn't help but smirk as he remembered Spock doing almost the exact same motion countless times on Star Trek. He nearly completed a circle before he stopped and faced towards one of the less cluttered corners of the room. With a small cry of 'aha!' he deftly maneuvered his way around the discarded pieces of paneling and piles of cracked control crystals littering the floor. With a shrug Sheppard followed his path, wincing as his boot crunched down on something fragile. He looked down to see the shattered remnants of what might have been a power crystal... or an Ancient Christmas tree ornament under his raised foot.

"Whoops," he muttered softly, before tiptoeing the rest of the way to the pile of junk McKay was huddled over. Wait, he corrected himself as he peered over the scientist's shoulder, a table full of junk. "So what have we got?"

"You mean other than another one of Elizabeth's ten thousand year old plants?" McKay growled, trying to pick his way around a withered vine to yet more unclassified rubbish. He only succeeding in getting it entangled around his arm. "Damn it! You'd think that after ten-thousand years it'd lose its spines!"

"Need help?" Sheppard smirked, still perched at Rodney's shoulder.

"No," the good doctor emphasized the word and tried to knock Sheppard away with his shoulder, "and a little personal space if you wouldn't mind?"

"Fine, fine," Sheppard took a step back, hearing another sharp crack as his boot crushed another innocent power crystal.

"You mind not breaking anything before I find out if it's useful?" McKay muttered darkly, before issuing another expletive. "Stupid plant! Get off!"

"It was nothing!" John protested, and then discreetly checked under his boot to see if it in fact was. Nope, just another crystal.

"Just stand still and don't touch anything!" McKay whirled around as he played another round of tug-o-war with the stubborn plant. He completed another turn before finally flinging the trapped arm in Sheppard's direction. "A little help would be nice!"

"But that would be disobeying your orders sir," Sheppard smirked as confusion, then annoyance registered on McKay's face.

"Fine!" Giving the major another dark look, McKay grabbed a firm hold of the vine and gave it a savage tug, finally freeing his arm. He moved to fling it away but as he opened his hand, he found that it was now stuck. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me!"

Raising his eyebrows innocently, Sheppard bent down to peer at the tenacious dead vine. "I think you've got a problem."

Was that a snarl he had just earned? John pressed his lips together, the complete picture of innocence. Oh, and that definitely looked like a vein starting to bulge on McKay's forehead. Score one for Sheppard. With a patient smile, Sheppard used his P-90 to pull off the vine, and tossed it harmlessly in the corner.

"Thank you." The vein started to recede as McKay turned back to the pile of junk before him.

"You're welcome!" Sheppard chimed.

McKay muttered darkly as he rummaged around the table, resuming his quest for the source of the energy spike. Frustration mounted on the scientist's face as the mysterious power source continued to evade him, and eventually he moved onto the rest of the room. To keep himself occupied, Sheppard replayed highlights of the battle of McKay versus the Dead Vine in his mind.

"There's nothing in here," McKay grumbled to himself as he stalked towards the door a good ten minutes later. "Except dead plants that refuse to die."

"What about the energy spike?" Sheppard asked as he tip-toed across the room.

"Energy spike?" McKay looked at Sheppard for a moment as if he'd sprouted another head, then shrugged. "Probably the last dying wish of those power crystals you so cruelly slaughtered."

Sheppard furrowed an eyebrow at McKay, but followed him out anyway.

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