"Nepenthe's Kiss"

by Grey Lupous

Spoilers, summaries, and other author's notes available at the beginning of chapter one.


Dr. Radek Zelenka had seen many unbelievable things in his lifetime, most of them he'd witnessed since he had moved to the Pegasus Galaxy. However the scene in McKay's lab was by far one of the strangest. He cautiously stepped into the doorway, with his laptop still opened on the strange energy readings he had started to pick up in an abandoned section of the city. Those were forgotten as he stared at the head of the science department, crooning Phil Collins softly to an experiment.

"That is song from Tarzan, no?" He asked, not surprised when McKay jumped up as if a Wraith had just walked into the room

"Um, uh," McKay glanced around the room nervously, settling down when he realized Zelenka was alone. "Zelenka... I didn't see you there."

"Obviously. Do you sing Disney always, or am I lucky man?"

"I wasn't singing Disney," Rodney said self-consciously.


"You were singing to experiment. This is odd, yes?"

"You know how the botanists sing to their plants?" McKay tried.

"Yes, but you are not botanist. You are crabby. Maybe I call Dr. Beckett," Radek turned to leave as if he was just going to do that.

"No! No! Can't a guy just sing a little song?"

"Yes, normal guy can. You, no."

"What did you want?" McKay finally asked, spotting the laptop that Zelenka was still carrying.

He frowned when McKay didn't correct him about not being normal, or pointing out that Radek himself wasn't "normal" either. He tried to shake the thought away and return to what he came here for.

"I was doing routine check on power levels in city, and suddenly there is large spike here," Zelenka sat the laptop down and pointed to the section he and Sheppard had been exploring earlier that day. "Very strange."

"Yes," McKay said absently. "Very strange..." And then he seemed to shake himself out of his stupor. "I'll have someone check it out. Good job, Radek."

Zelenka gave McKay a surprised look. Was that just a compliment? First singing, then compliments. And... did he just get his name right? Was this the same Rodney McKay he had come with to Atlantis? "Are you feeling all right?"

"Me? Yeah, never better." McKay cocked his head at the Czech. "Why do you ask?"

"No reason," Zelenka shrugged and picked up his laptop. "I will finish my check. It is late, no?"

"Hm? Yes, yes, very late," McKay waved him off as he glanced back at the experiment he had been monitoring.

That was a little more normal, Zelenka decided, and left the physicist. 

*          *          *          *          *

"You're certainly in a good mood this morning." Sheppard watched as McKay continued to fiddle with a very confused Teyla's hair. She had returned from the mainland the night before, and now that she found herself their resident astrophysicist's Barbie doll, she seemed to be reconsidering.

"It's just so shiny and soft!" Rodney exclaimed as Teyla discreetly scooted further away from him, glancing nervously at Sheppard. "Do you use conditioner?"

"Did Beckett slip you some Zoloft?" Sheppard furrowed an eyebrow. "Or have you and Zelenka been trying to start up your distilling experiments again?"

McKay waved a hand of general non-interest at Sheppard as he continued to girl-talk with Teyla. He huffed an annoyed sigh.

"Well, there is a particular root my people grind up into our shampoo," she admitted nervously seeing that McKay wasn't backing down.

"Don't encourage him." Sheppard rolled his eyes before looking back at McKay. "Rodney. Rodney."

The scientist continued going on about hair products.


In a distinctly Exorcist moment McKay spun his head to look at Sheppard. "Yes?"

"Why don't we move onto another subject?"

"Oh yes!" McKay crowed excitedly. "What about your hair, Major? What's your secret?"

Sheppard massaged his forehead and exchanged an exasperated look with Teyla. "How about we talk about something other than hair?"

McKay wrinkled his forehead in confusion. "Oh... okay."

"Like you," he speared McKay with a look. "What's with the hair, McKay? Can't decide what style in Cosmo to choose?"

"Why?" The scientist felt the top of his head. "Is it getting a little shaggy?"

"For crying out loud! What the hell is your problem?" Sheppard exclaimed.

"Well I never," McKay sniffed disdainfully, and turned to Teyla. "I do believe Major Sheppard woke up on the wrong side of the bed."

"And since when do you talk like that?" He asked crossly.

"Like what?"

"Like Grodin, all proper and no snark. It's scary."

"Really, can't I just be in a good mood?"


"Major," Teyla tossed him an annoyed look and turned to Rodney. "Dr. McKay, your behavior is just a little unusual this morning. I believe Major Sheppard is just trying to make sure you are feeling well."

"I've never felt better!" He chimed.

"Right," Sheppard rose from the table, leaving his half-eaten tray. "I just remembered I've got something to do."

"Major!" McKay cried, as if a Wraith was sneaking up behind him.

"Yes?" He reminded himself to be patient, oh so patient.

"Are you going to eat that?" McKay indicated the tray.

"Knock yourself out," Sheppard said and retreated out of the mess hall as fast as he could. "Please."

*          *          *          *          *

"Did I give Rodney what now, Major?" Beckett had returned his attention to the specimen he was currently studying under the microscope, until Sheppard had started interrogating him about his pharmacy policies.

"Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, you know, happy pills?"

Beckett pushed himself away from the microscope and turned to address Sheppard better, and to see if he was actually serious. He furrowed his brow slightly when he saw that he was. "Dr. Heightmeyer prescribes those kinds of medicines..."

"Yes, but the pharmacy is down here right?"

Beckett sighed, "And why do you think I gave Rodney mood elevators, pretending there's not this thing called doctor-patient privilege."

"That would be Heightmeyer, since she prescribes them," Sheppard leaned against the wall. "He was acting very... odd, this morning."

"Odd, how?"

"He was... happy."

"Happy? Now I know that Rodney is a little bit of a sour puss sometimes, Major, but it shouldn't be alarming that he's in a good mood once in a while."

"No no, real McKay happy is discovering some Ancient toaster, or getting shoved off a balcony—"

"Not a doctor recommended recreational activity might I remind you?"

"McKay doesn't get happy about," Sheppard paused, as if it physically hurt him to say it, "hair."

"Hair?" Beckett asked incredulously. "You're interrupting me because Rodney suddenly wants to exchange fashion tips?"

"It was like Queer Eye for the Geek Guy Doc, I mean really, he's not himself," Sheppard insisted.

Beckett couldn't resist a smile at that. "I'd love to help you, Major, but to my knowledge, Rodney is on no medication unless he triggers one of his allergies."

"Maybe you should take a look at him—"

"Major, John, look. I can understand if he's acting strange, but maybe sleep deprivation is just catching up with him."

"Well just make sure you're at the staff meeting today." Sheppard pushed himself away from the wall. "You'll see what I mean."

"Aye, if it'll make you happy and get you out of my hair, I'll keep an eye out for any McKay weirdness."

"Thanks, Doc," Sheppard waved casually over his shoulder as he ambled out of the med lab. "But if you don't want to be late I think you may want to pack up. Meeting is going to start in five minutes; you may want to come with me."

Beckett muttered a curse as he shut off the microscope and rushed to put away his specimen. "Coming... coming..."

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