Summary: On Atlantis, 'eccentric' is contagious. In fact it's enough to drive even the strongest man to the brink of naked rain dancing.
Author's Notes: Written as a pinch hit for leaper182 for the Czech is in the Male Thing-a-Thon. leaper182's request was rain, tablets, mission; moment in time; Radek/Carson, Radek/Rodney, Radek/Lorne. I went with Radek/Lorne.
Thanks go to aithine for the beta.
The fact that it rains on Atlantis shouldn't surprise him. They are, after all, in the middle of an ocean. Evan Lorne may not be that interested in meteorology but even he knows that being surrounded by ocean means lots of water to be evaporated and form clouds. It's kind of Climatology 101. And that means, in turn, lots of clouds to gather together, head towards the coast and let go of their heavy load of water as soon as they run into something anywhere near resembling a mountain range.
Only the nearest coast is about five hundred miles that away, by his reckoning, and it turns out that the spires of Atlantis make a pretty damned good substitute. At least in the eyes the clouds of Atlantea.
Not that clouds have eyes, of course, because that would be freaky even by Pegasus Galaxy 'we have Marilyn Manson wannabe space vampires' standards.
He has heard a rumour though that the original expedition ran into a sentient black storm cloud in the early days. He's not quite sure whether to believe that or not. Sure, there are mission reports to back those rumours up but he's been on Atlantis for long enough (eighteen months and counting) to realise that if most of the inhabitants of the city aren't crazy, they're pretty far along the road to 'eccentric'. In fact his father, never one to mince words, would just call them all 'bug fuck crazy'.
Evan's not entirely sure he'd wholeheartedly disagree with that assessment, assuming his father got within a hundred light years of the place. Knowing his dad, that's not beyond the realms of possibility, but Evan takes after his mother and in more than just the colour of his eyes. For a start, he's a hell of a lot more diplomatic than his father, and his dad's not exactly torn up about that. He'd always hoped that Evan would followed his footsteps into the Air Force but he'd also kind of hoped that Evan wasn't going to follow in his old man's footsteps as far as spending his early years scrubbing latrines with a toothbrush went.
So far Evan's doing his old man proud, at least when the non-latrine percentage of his duty is calculated. Made Major younger than his old man did – and there's no bitterness there, thank the Lord – and on a meteoric rise through the ranks, with top secret missions he can't even tell Lorne Senior about. That bites a little, but his father's a good man – one of the best – and never pushes for more than Evan can give him. And there's a weird part of Evan that thinks that if his dad ever did find out, the old man might be a little disappointed about some of the things that 'top secret' covers.
Like babysitting bored scientists in an alien city on an alien ocean in a far off galaxy on the other side of the universe.
While it rains.
Oh, Evan knows that it's important – that the man he's currently standing watch over is very important, and not just to Atlantis – but it's not even an interesting rain. It's not acidic or a weird colour and it's falling down and not up (and he still can't believe that after that particular episode of that weird Dr Who show, the geek portion of the Atlantis contingent spent so damned long talking about whether or not a 'gravity scoop' was even possible). The rain on Atlantis is also cold as well as wet, so there's not much chance of anyone dancing naked in it.
Actually – this is Atlantis. Evan may only have been here for eighteen months and he may have blossomed on the strait-laced side of the Lorne family tree but he's got a few solid years with the SGC under his belt and even without that experience he's realised that here, on Atlantis? There's probably a very good chance that at some indeterminate point in the future someone will end up dancing naked in the rain. He's also kind of resigned to the fact that a) alien sex pollen will probably be involved (and thinking that outside of a Sci-Fi movie isn't even surreal anymore, not thanks to the exploits of SG-1) and b) odds are one day it will probably be him doing the bare-assed tango.
Evan's far from stupid and he's starting to think that 'eccentric' is contagious, here even moreso than it was back under the auspices of the SGC. At least there you could chill out with a beer and a steak. Here it's contraband popcorn and back-to-back episodes of Doctor Who. It's enough to drive even the strongest man to the brink of naked rain dancing. Especially after those episodes with that hot Captain Jack guy.
But, yeah. The craziness? It's kind of contagious and also kind of inevitable in the way that it sucks you in.
Take Zelenka for example. The man may look like an Einstein knock-off with that hair and that slightly shaggy, unshaven look, but he's far from a knock-off in the brains department. At the moment he's sprawled on the floor, two tablets settled next to him, one on either side, and one of those Ancient handheld devices that looks like a cross between an MP3 player and the ectoplasm detector thing that Ray Stantz uses in Ghostbusters. Zelenka's attention is darting between them and he's muttering to himself in a mixture of Czech and English. From the little Evan can tell from over by the window, the man has a mouth on him and Evan's speaking as second generation Air Force, even if his father did mind his manners around the women of the family.
So Evan's gathering that maybe the repairs to these particular crystals aren't going so well. He's not really surprised. He gets that the Ancients were higher beings and all, but he has to be perfectly honest and admit that their technology sometimes reminds him of Buck Rogers – the Gil Gilbert version with white spandex and lots and lots of Plexiglas and that really fucking annoying sidekick with the 'wiki-wiki'.
He's dreading the day when they finally get around to finding the Ancient outpost that have those things in storage. In fact, he might even prefer the Replicators over a room full of them, all of them at groin height and making double entendres.
It's one of the things he doesn't admit in public, and not just that every so often he wakes up in a cold sweat imagining he's stuck in some 1970s retro version of the future, where everyone wears tight white spandex that's as unsexy as possible (and when he does, he blames the alien cheese). He also doesn't admit to the hugely embarrassing now crush he had on Buck and his chest hair back in the day. He'd like to put that down to immaturity rather the 'eccentricity'. Hell, he was twelve. What did he know about how badly white spandex would age? And the teeth?
Man, he has nightmares about the teeth these days, where they come at him out of the dark all shiny and creepily happy and ready to eat him. Nothing Freudian about that, no sirree.
He still kind of likes the chest hair though. And Zelenka...
Yeah. There's this little tuft that appears above the neck of Zelenka's blue top every now and then and it just does something for Evan. He doesn't remember Einstein being that hot, and the fact that he's using 'hot' and 'Einstein' in the same mental sentence just proves he's heading towards eccentricity.
It's still raining and he's bored out of his mind, which is probably why his mind is wandering in dangerous directions. Like towards the way that Zelenka's fingers are darting over the tablet touch screens, first one then the other then back again in this spinning rhythm that's making Evan a little dizzy. Zelenka is tutting away to himself as he thinks about whatever complex problems are flitting through his mind. It's kind of endearing, the way his brow wrinkles and his mouth turns down. Every now and then he bites at his lip, curse words swallowed down. And every so often, his attention drifts back to his crystals, and he fondles them thoughtfully.
Evan's about ready to step outside and dance naked in the rain just for the cold shower effect it might have on his wayward libido. There isn't a damned thing he can do about his wayward imagination – he figured that out a long time ago.
Zelenka snaps his fingers peremptorily, and that shouldn't be anywhere near as hot as it is, especially not as it's eerily like the way McKay does it. Except McKay isn't hot, not as far as Evan is concerned. He's saying – and studiously thinking – absolutely nothing about who might find McKay hot and Colonel Sheppard doesn't even enter his thoughts.
He sighs, pushing his weapon back so it hangs by his side as he dutifully trots over to Zelenka.
"Doctor," he says cordially, trying very hard to look into Zelenka's face – which is difficult as the man isn't looking in his direction – and not searching out that little tuft of hair.
Zelenka thrusts something at him and he instinctively catches it. Of course, this is Pegasus, so his instincts have him catching it a long way from his body and holding it gingerly in case it explodes or grows legs or turns him green or something. None of those are entirely beyond the realms of possibility.
"Turn this on, please."
Zelenka still doesn't look at him, his head resolutely buried in the panel and his fingers tapping away at one of his tablets – and how the hell does he do that?
"Yes, Major." Zelenka finally stops contemplating the inner workings of the Ancient air conditioning or whatever it is and starts contemplating Evan instead. "You are familiar with turning things on, yes?"
Now, Evan might not be the suavest man around but he can usually hold his own with barrack banter. But this is Zelenka and Zelenka's just...
There's a part of Evan that isn't quite sure whether Zelenka realises what he's just implied. That's the sane part. Unfortunately the largest part of Evan at the moment seems to comprise his twelve-year-old self and Gil Gerard might have had that whole 'traditionally attractive' thing going on, but this is Zelenka and he's rumpled and knowing and hellaciously smart and...
He has chest hair and Evan's actually blushing, damn it. He hasn't blushed since grade school.
He stutters something out about sure and of course and yes, he knows how to turn things on but he'll be damned if he can actually remember the words once they've left his mouth. Largely because Zelenka is smiling up at him as though he's actually amusing but also because Zelenka has to lean back to look up at him and, bang, there's the chest hair.
Zelenka finally takes pity on him and pats his boot absent-mindedly. "Relax, Major. It will not explode. Just think 'on', yes?"
Oh, yes. That Evan can do and the thing – whatever it is – starts glowing softly.
It's actually rather attractive, giving off a gentle rosy light but Evan doesn't have time to admire it before Zelenka is impatiently snapping his fingers again.
He hands it over and if he kind of lingers so that their fingers brush when Zelenka takes it, he can hardly be blamed for that. For a start he made Zelenka laugh – at his expense – so he's earned it and secondly, this is Atlantis, Camp Crazy of the Pegasus Galaxy.
"Here." Zelenka pats the floor next to him, his other hand already reaching into the opening to position whatever it was that Evan turned on. Switched on. Yes. Switched on, not turned on even if Zelenka reaching in means that he has to twist and for a middle aged man who's going a little soft around the middle he's surprisingly flexible and Evan's not going there either, no sirree.
Zelenka's voice is a little muffled, but the Lornes have always been good at following orders. Evan sinks down to the floor and crosses his legs neatly. The floor's hard and cold but it's dry and Zelenka is a warm bundle of contained energy only inches away.
"See? Is not so difficult, hmm?" Zelenka pulls back and eyes him, amusement glimmering in the depths of his gaze. "I do not bite." He turns his attention to the crystals scattered around him and, frowning in concentration again, selects one of them. As he leans forward again, back into the opening, Evan thinks he hears something that sounds suspiciously like, "Unless you ask."
Yep. Evan's obviously getting eccentric. It's only a few short steps from imagining the strangely cute, rumbled scientist asking if he can bite you to dancing naked in the rain.
After a lot of muttering and what sounds suspiciously like swearing in Czech, Zelenka pulls some other doohickey out and hands it over to Evan with another, slightly impatient, "On."
It's easier this time and again there's that soft glow and a little whisper of satisfaction in the back of Evan's mind. There's something else this time too – the soft susurration of the rain outside suddenly stops and watery sunlight begins its slow creep across the floor.
"Hey!" Now this is cool. "Did I do that?"
Zelenka snorts softly. "No, Major. The air conditioning unit will not stop the rain, even if you use your ATA gene."
Oh. Well colour him all kinds of stupid. Some of that must have shown on his face because Zelenka's expression segues from amused to sympathetic and he pats Evan's knee encouragingly. "Did SG-1 not come across a meteorological control unit?"
Evan's mind works on that and translates it from 'geek' into 'weather control device'. And, yeah. He vaguely remembers something about that in a mission report. Makes him feel a little less stupid and a little better about things in general.
The fact that Zelenka's hand hasn't moved from his knee helps.
He hands the doohickey that's definitely not a weather control device over to Zelenka and settles back on his butt, drawing his heels up so he can rest his weapon across his knees and watching with interest as Zelenka leans forward again to fix it back into place. The hand disappears from his knee – which is disappointing – but it's fascinating watching Zelenka's expressions change as the man works. His face flits between a frown to thoughtfully chewing on his lip then back to a frown.
And then it's the Eureka face. The one that says he's cracked it.
Evan likes that face, and not just because that face usually means that their asses have just been saved by an occasionally sarcastic Czech. There's something kind of warming about Zelenka's pleasure in fixing something, in his gleeful triumph over the...
Evan kind of loses track of his thoughts about then, because Zelenka turns towards him and beams. It lights up the whole goddamned room more than the watery winter sun can. That sun – that alien sun – pales in fucking comparison. Pardon his slightly more than eccentric French.
He's still reeling from that when Zelenka reaches out, plucks Evan's hand from where it's braced against his knee and slaps a control crystal into it.
It's a red crystal and it's... decidedly phallic shaped. That's kind of disturbing but what's more disturbing is that, well, Evan's passed thirty and is heading downwards on that slippery slope towards forty and while before today he'd have sworn he hadn't blushed since grade school, he's blushing now.
Blushing again, damn it. Only this is one of those blushes that heats up his entire face and makes his neck itch. And Zelenka, damn him just as much, seems to be laughing about it if the way his body is shaking is any indication.
Zelenka pulls himself back, wiping his hands on his BDU legs, giving off a distinct air of satisfaction. When Evan wordlessly offers the crystal back – wordlessly because somewhere along the way he seems to have lost the ability to speak and he hasn't been this tongue-tied or this dry-mouthed since asking his date out for prom – Zelenka just shakes his head and his expression turns puckish.
"I do not need this, thank you, Major. But if you want to keep..."
His tone turns sly and, damn it, Evan's Air Force. He's fought and fucked and said fuck – a lot - in two separate galaxies. Blushing is not - not - on his to do list.
That's taken up with most of Sheppard's paperwork.
"No, thanks," he says, aiming for suave but pretty sure he's missed it. Zelenka's eyes crinkle, a sure sign that he's pleased by something. "I've already got one."
Now Zelenka's eyes widen fractionally, and then he's laughing – great heaving belly laughs that make Evan just happy to see them. He slaps Evan on the back – and man, for a smallish guy, his backslaps pack a punch, leaving Evan tottering for balance, just catching himself before he falls on his ass – and shakes his head. There's admiration in his expression and maybe even a little affection. Evan likes to think so anyway, and he doesn't care if that makes him eccentric.
Zelenka's hand lingers on Evan's back, neither pushing nor supporting, just there. Evan imagines that he can feel the warmth of it through his jacket – which is past eccentric and well into the realms of crazy talk. What's just as crazy is that the weight of it makes him warm all over and weirdly happy.
"I'm sure you have, Major. But this one..." Zelenka leans closer, his tone no longer sly but sweetly conspiratorial. "Perhaps it will make the sun come out, yes?"
If anyone but Zelenka had said it, it would have come out as a stupid joke, all machismo and mocking, but when Zelenka says it – all warm, like if it is a joke, it's a joke shared, with no edge, no jockeying for position, nothing to take away from the pleasure of Zelenka's hand low on his back and Zelenka's crinkled and pleased eyes – that stops it from stinging.
Evan smiles back at him, slow and sweet, and Zelenka's answering smile... now that is like the sun coming out.
"Perhaps it will, Doc. Perhaps it will."
Chapter End Notes:
Attribution: The title comes from that old song that Morecombe and Wise used to sing. If you don't know to what I'm referring, oh child.