~1300 words, G, light John/Rodney with team + whales (of course); fluff
Of all the things Rodney had worried about the Earthers bringing to Atlantis, there was one that hadn't even crossed his mind.
Rodney couldn't remember the last time he'd had a cold. Probably when he was on Earth, going to school. Not that Pegasus didn't have its miserable diseases (he and Jeannie had had a particularly nasty bout with Kirsan fever when they were small) but by now he was largely immune to most of the ordinary Pegasus germs.
Stupid Earthers and their stupid diseases. All that technology and they still didn't have a charm that could cure the common cold -- inconceivable!
Rodney managed to ignore the irritating wheedle penetrating his misery until the fourth or fifth repetition, which was accompanied by a gentle poke. "Go away. Dying here."
"C'mon, Rodney." John poked him again, and Rodney finally cracked one eye open to see the mage looking down at him with the sky behind his tousled head. Rodney had to squint against the sun to make out John's expression of fondness and concern. "I just came back to our room and found you gone. What are you doing down here?"
Rodney's sore throat wasn't really up to a full explanation, so he just flopped a hand over the end of their movie-watching couch, on which he was currently sprawled, aiming in the general direction of the edge of the pier.
John looked. Rodney knew, without having to raise his head, what John would see, because it was the same thing Rodney'd seen every time he'd looked over the end of the couch: a row of sleek gray snouts poking out of the water, fixated on him with laser-like intensity. "Oh."
"They think I'm dying," Rodney groaned, burrowing his face back into the couch. "At least when I'm down here, they can keep an eye on me. Keeps 'em happy." Or, at least, not destroying anything in their desperate attempts to get to their "beached and stranded" podling. The whales were utterly convinced that Rodney's current symptoms were the cumulative result of too much time in the dry, and he was too exhausted to try to convince them otherwise.
The couch creaked as John sat down on it. Despite their attempts to keep it dry, it was starting to suffer from sitting in the sea air; the springs were rusty, and even through his stuffed sinuses, Rodney could smell a faint whiff of mustiness where his nose was jammed into the crack between the cushion and the arm of the couch. His shirt was damp from sea-spray and sweat, clinging to his feverish skin, and he shivered. John's hand settled on his shoulder, cool against the warmth of fever.
"Did you explain to them that sick humans aren't supposed to be cold and wet?" John's lazy drawl sounded amused, but there was worry underneath.
"Feel free to give it a try," Rodney mumbled into the cushions. "Be my guest. At least I'm not actually in the water, which is what they want."
John sighed, stroking a hand down his shoulder. "So you're determined to stay down here."
"Unnnghhh," Rodney agreed.
John bent over him; Rodney wasn't sure what he was up to until cool lips brushed his feverish temple. "Hang in there; I'll be back," John said, squeezing his shoulder.
Rodney drowsed a little. What woke him was something soft and warm settling over his shoulders. "Mmm?" he managed, cracking open an eye and peeking out.
Teyla was just settling a blanket over his shoulders. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the bright Athosian patterns. "Hello, Rodney," she said, smiling at him.
A big wing arched over him, shading him from the sun. Teyla sat on the edge of the couch, under Ronon's wing, and bent to pick up a tray from the pier at her feet. "Rodney, I brought you some tea and soup; are you hungry?"
His head was throbbing too heavily for food to sound interesting, but he knew from experience that Teyla's teas were good for headaches, so he let her support him while he drank it.
The whales were very intrigued, and chattered among themselves.
"Are they asking something?" Teyla inquired. After so much time around the whales, she could often tell when the whales' attention turned on her; she had told Rodney it felt like a feeling of pressure in her sinuses. ("Ew," had been Rodney's response to that.)
"They're just curious about the tea."
"Oh," Teyla said thoughtfully. "How rude of me." She eased him back down onto the couch cushions, and rose gracefully. "I shall return shortly."
"Hey, wait ..." But she was gone, so Rodney turned his head to look up at Ronon. "Are you actually sitting there and sunshading me?"
"I'm stretching my wings," Ronon informed him. He was leaning on the arm of the couch, wing outstretched over Rodney's head. Then he switched wings. Rodney was suspicious, but didn't feel like having an argument over it.
"Did John tell you were I was?"
"Where'd he get off to, anyway?" Rodney tried.
"Right here," the mage said, touching down on the pier and trotting a couple of steps before losing the momentum from flight. Show-off. When John hadn't had an opportunity to use his magic in a while, he started flying everywhere. "I had Carson give me some healing charms. They don't work terribly well on colds, but they're better than nothing. Brought you some warm clothes, too."
Rodney decided that it was easier just to go with the flow on this, so he allowed himself to be magehandled around. Ronon raised his wings to shield them from curious stares in case anyone happened to be looking out the windows (the whales didn't count, though they were definitely interested) while John tugged off Rodney's damp shirt and replaced it with a soft, dry sweater. John tucked the healing amulets gently against Rodney's neck and chest, and ruffled his hair -- completely gratuitously -- before laying him back down.
Just then Teyla returned, lugging two buckets. Steaming buckets. Rodney raised his head again, distracted by curiosity. "Is that ... tea?"
"It is." Teyla set down the buckets at the edge of the pier. "All right, who would like to taste it first?"
Rodney briefly wondered if perhaps his fever was even higher than he'd realized, as he stared at the surreal sight of Teyla carefully tipping a gallon or so of tea into the mouth of the nearest curious whale. "Are you sure that's good for them?"
"I cannot imagine it would hurt them."
Rodney could, but considering some of the things he'd seen the whales eat since the Earthers showed up (John had even tried to feed them cake once), this was probably no worse than any of it.
John settled down beside the couch and took out a book, leaning his back against Rodney's thigh. Ronon folded his wings, but he was still sitting on the arm of the couch and his long shadow fell across Rodney's head and shoulders. As Rodney's eyes drifted shut, he saw Teyla rejoining Ronon, who had taken out a deck of cards.
The whales seemed to be much more relaxed now that Rodney was circled by his dryland pod, as they felt proper. Teyla's headache tea was starting to take effect, and he drifted off to sleep to the soothing chatter of the whales and, nearer, Teyla and Ronon's soft conversation against the low background murmur of the surf on the pier.