"Oh, God, Sheppard! Sheppard!" Rodney shouted. "Are you all right? No, of course you aren't. God, Sheppard!"
The memory was awful. Sheppard had resisted for as long as he could, but not even Ronon could have remained standing against an onslaught as horrendous as that. There had been lace and frilly things. There had been stretchy pink velvet, heaving and taut. The odour had been terrible – all musk and sweetness and sharp floral notes. Sheppard had gone down in the end, overcome by the enormous mounds of flesh and the deep clefts between them.
Rodney tapped his radio. "Teyla, Ronon! You need to hurry! It's Sheppard, he's…" He pressed his lips together, temporarily unable even to utter it. "He's been… God, it's terrible. He's… he's been mauled by savage breasts."
"Uh…" Rodney felt his mouth go suddenly dry. He rubbed his eyes, but nothing changed. "Uh, Sheppard, I think I'm going crazy…"
"I can see it, too," Sheppard hissed. His gun was drooping in his slack hand. "Hallucinogenic spores, d'you think?"
"Has to be." Rodney rubbed his eyes yet again, but Kolya continued to sashay across the dance floor, swinging his feather boa. There were many things that Rodney hoped to see before he died, but a Genii in fishnets was not one of them. Kolya smiled, fluttering his heavily-made-up eyelashes, then launched into the first steps of the can-can.
"Who… who are you?" Rodney managed to gasp.
Kolya stopped mid-kick, and gestured coquettishly at his red-painted cheeks. "Me?" he said. "I'm a rouge Genii."
Ronon had been on Atlantis for four years before John finally thought to ask. "Those chests and boxes in your room…" He asked it casually over a beer, following a sparring session in which Ronon had once again beaten the crap out of him. "What's actually in them?"
Ronon cocked an eyebrow. "Wanna see?"
John followed Ronon back to his room. Once inside, Ronon dragged out first chest. "Cover me," he said, and after a moment of hesitation, John pulled out his gun. As Ronon slowly opened the chest, John kept his gun trained on the widening gap.
The thing inside wasn't moving, though. It appeared to be… "It's a Wraith," John gasped. A very small Wraith, in fact, twisted and crammed into the chest. Movement from underneath suggested that the chest held other creatures, and that at least some of them were alive. John swallowed. "What else have you got in there, buddy?"
"More Wraith," Ronon said. "Some bandits. Three childhood rivals. That physicist who objected to my table manners. Four Replicators. Two fire-breathing krayl beasts. But mostly Wraith."
John found himself incapable of uttering a single coherent word.
"I was once hunted," Ronon explained, "by a hoard of enemies…"
Grumbling loudly, Rodney headed back to the ruined mansion, pulling his jacket tighter around his body as he did so. Icicles were dangling from the gargoyles, and frost clung to the diamond-paned windows.
"Sheppard?" Rodney called, his breath billowing out as steam in the ice-cold air. "What are you doing? It's time to go."
Sheppard was just standing there when Rodney found him, positioned on a small platform in the middle of the largest room. He was holding a skull in his hand, and as Rodney stood frowning in the doorway, Sheppard raised the skull in an exaggerated an unnatural attitude, and looked at it with a ridiculous, affected expression on his face. "Alas, poor Yorrick," he declaimed.
"Alas poor who?" Rodney demanded. "Come on. It's time to go, so quit doing whatever it is you're doing…"
"I'm acting," Sheppard hissed out of the corner of his mouth.
"Then stop it," Rodney said crossly. "For crying out loud, Sheppard, why are you acting in such a cold manor?"
"Surrender!" Teyla demanded, pressing her stick a little harder against the bandit's throat.
"Never!" the bandit hissed. His knife twisted threateningly, its point getting ever closer to Teyla's flesh.
"I will kill you," she spat.
The bandit stared at her with utter defiance in his eyes. She had no desire to shed even more blood, but he refused to surrender. Death appeared to be the only way out of the impasse.
Suddenly the bandit's eyes flickered. Movement at the door told her that Ronon had arrived. His face cold and set, Ronon reached into his pocket and pulled out a bottle of clear liquid. "I made it myself," he said, as he poured a large amount into a glass and held it out to the bandit.
The bandit's nose wrinkled, and a look of slow, creeping terror came over his face. "No," he gasped, as the knife fell from his suddenly-nerveless hand. "I'm surrendering, I'm surrendering."
"They always do," Ronon said to Teyla, swirling the drink in the glass, "when I threaten them with my gin."
"Colonel Sheppard. Doctor McKay." Richard shuffled the papers on his desk. This whole thing would be easier if the two offenders hadn't reminded him so intensely of a pair of naughty schoolboys. He cleared his throat. "It really has to stop."
"Why?" McKay protested. "We aren't doing any harm."
"I'm afraid I must beg to differ," Richard said. He gestured sharply at the large pile of printed-out emails, all of them irate. "The catering staff had to make yesterday's meals three times because of hair in the food, and they report that all their citrus products have been…" He cleared his throat, and kept his hand there, pressing it against his mouth as he said the rest of it. "Urinated on," he said.
Sheppard looked smugly at McKay, exuding innocence.
"And you, Colonel…" Richard turned his attention to Sheppard, much to McKay's audible delight. "The jumper engineers also report excessive hair in places where hair has no business to be, the botany department report that priceless specimens have been… curled-up on, and the head of the biochemistry department reports a sudden drop in productivity caused by excessive, er… stroking."
"The department with all the hot scientists?" Sheppard jabbed a finger towards McKay. "That was him."
"You're just jealous you didn't think of it first," McKay retorted.
"Either way," Richard said pointedly, "it has to stop. From now on, neither of you are to play with remote-controlled cats ever again."
"Where have you been?" Rodney demanded, his hands on his hips.
Sheppard's movements were supple and fluid as he walked towards them. He smiled, and it was really quite a ridiculous smile, Rodney thought, all dazed and soppy and…
"You got laid!" Rodney shouted. Ronon and Teyla turned round sharply, Ronon smiling in a way that positively shouted out You sly dog.
"No. Nothing like that." Sheppard shook his head, but his voice was mild and he was still smiling.
Rodney wrinkled his nose. "You stink," he said. "Perfumed oils. And your clothes are all rumpled…" He lowered his voice, suddenly aware that half the village was listening. "Are you sure you didn't get laid? Whisper it. Is there a jealous husband? Is that it?"
"I didn't get laid, Rodney." Sheppard was still smiling. "It…" He lowered his voice to a whisper. "You can't tell anyone, but Todd just gave me a secret massage."
The elders had tried to warn them off.
"Why, oh why didn't we listen to them?" Rodney demanded.
No-one answered him. Sheppard reached out one finger and prodded the nearest wall. It recoiled with a shriek, and began to quiver. Ronon attempted another step forward, and almost fell as the floor trembled beneath him, shrinking away from his feet. The stone wall nearest to Teyla started to sweat, rank-smelling liquid pouring down its surface.
"What exactly did the elder say, again?" Sheppard asked, shouting over the sudden cacophony of screaming stones.
"That we should not enter the Ruins of the Ancestors," Teyla said, "because they are scared."
John bit his lip to keep from screaming. His foot was on fire, blazing with pain. Dimly he was aware of people working on it, unfastening his laces, tugging at his boot. But when the boot was removed, the pain, if anything, was even worse. Although the air was cold, his foot was hot, burning with heat. With every second that passed, the pain spread, flowing up his leg, encasing his body in hot, fuzzy pain, until even his vision was compromised, hatched over with a network of red.
"Quick!" he heard Rodney shouting, his voice muffled by the scratchy, woollen feeling that had taken over John's senses. "We have to get him back to Atlantis. He's showing all the symptoms of sock."
"I think he's lying." Ronon ruffled Rodney's hair.
Sheppard touched Rodney's head experimentally. "Hmm… It depends on how you define your terms. The hair's receding, of course. Does that make him… shiny?"
Teyla ran her hand across Rodney's back. "The weave is far more smooth than the hand-woven fabrics of Athos."
"Do clothes count?" Ronon ask.
"You want us to investigate the texture of his skin underneath his clothes?" Sheppard said. "Buddy, don't go there."
Rodney found his voice at last. "What are you guys doing?"
Teyla looked at him patiently. "You loaded your plate with six varieties of cake, saying that you did not mind which flavour you had because you were not fuzzy. We were merely aiming to confirm your claim."
(And, finally, those two words that I'm incapable of writing correctly. I've mentioned this one several times before.)
Sheppard was on his knees, coughing so badly that Rodney just knew that he was going to die from it. He struggled for breath, and, God! was that actual movement there in his throat, as if something was actually crawling out of his body, breaking free, like that thing in that Alien movie, but coming out of his mouth and not his body?
Sheppard's face was almost purple with lack of air. I don't know what to do! Rodney thought. I don't know what to do! Then he saw something appear at Sheppard's lips. It looked like… "Oh, God!" he gasped. It looked like an elbow! Then Sheppard coughed again, a low, agonised sound, and the elbow turned into a whole arm, and behind the arm came a body, and then a final agonised cough pushed the creature completely free.
A very small female dropped down to the ground. "Oh, goodie," she said, peering up at Sheppard's tortured face as he struggled for breath. "He's in pain." She pulled out a pen and started to write.
Rodney was unable to do anything but gape in outrage. "What…" He swallowed, desperately fighting for words. "Who are you? What were you doing inside Sheppard?"
"Oh, it's McKay. Cool!" the woman said, though it was clear that her focus was almost exclusively on Sheppard. "'Sheppard was in agony,'" she said, making air quotes with her fingers. "'A small whumper escaped his lips.' No?" She turned her back on Rodney, as if his incomprehension was irrelevant, and watched with wide-eyed glee as Sheppard staggered painfully to his feet. "Heroic Staggering," she said, in a hushed and reverent voice.
And some more than aren't fanfic-related, but which I've been guilty of myself:
"The library can help adults improve their kills"
"The Universal Declaration of Human Tights."
And book titles in my library catalogue, courtesy of me: "Ancient Geeks,", "Naive Americans", "Pervy the Park-keeper"
I will happily accept prompts for other typo-related ficlets, so if you've seen one you particular like, let me know. Or else write 'em yourself, which is even better. Or draw them. The image of Sheppard acting in a cold manor seems particularly visual to me. I'd be tempted to draw it myself, but I just know it would escalate and I'd end up drawing many more.
And then there's the whole lovely field of literalism, which probably deserves a whole set of stories of their own. At university, a group of us (some of whom might even be reading this) discovered just how many such things there are in Tolkien, for those perverse enough to go out of their way to look for them. Someone wrote an entire story inspired by the line "a quick duck saved him," and I drew a series of cartoons about things like "The Nazgul are abroad," "he drew his sword", "when news came to Tom Bombadil's ears, he sent them to Butterbur," etc.