Pain and Death and Pain

by Bernice

It wasn't as big as an Iratus bug, John told himself, therefore there was probably nothing to be concerned about. It was just sitting there, doing nothing, not being threatening. Then again, so had the Iratus bug. They didn't bother anyone until you touched them, then you were theirs. Then there was pain and death and pain.

He could, he thought, back up like a coward, back into the transporter, and go somewhere else. Somewhere where a bug wasn't sitting on the floor, cleaning its wings, being all quiet and non-threatening and bug-like.

But that wouldn't have been… manly. Lieutenant Colonels didn't turn tail and run at the first sign of a bug the size of an apple. Even though it was obviously lurking with menace. Lying in wait for innocent people to walk past so it could attach themselves to him, and try to suck the life out of him, like a wraith, like pain, like death.

He could, he thought, leap over it. How high would he have to leap? Would it jump? Would it follow him and sink its mandibles into his flesh, deeper than bullets or salt water or pesticide until they'd have to stop his heart again to pull it free? But he wasn't Rodney and he couldn't do that, because he was the Lieutenant Colonel and had an image to maintain, and if anyone saw him leaping around in the corridor like a lunatic it was bound to undermine his authority. The sheer fact he even considered it made it obvious he'd spent way too much time with Rodney – he was picking up far too much of the other man's style.

He could, he re-thought, slink back into the transporter, and as he heard Rodney and Radek arguing up the corridor that seemed like the best plan available, because they wouldn't know that he'd been standing here, staring at a bug for the past twelve sweating, panic-filled minutes, full of indecision and fear, which was stupid because he could face down fire and bullets and wraith and not even mess his hair, and this was just a bug, but the scientists didn't know that and if they did, they'd mock and make his life hell. Well, maybe not Radek, he'd just twist a smile and push up his glasses and grin, but Rodney, no, okay, maybe Rodney wouldn't either because of lemons and wraith and bees and all the other things that terrified Rodney on a day-to-day basis, but no, then again, this was Rodney and yeah, he'd mock. There would be much mockage until John would be forced to threaten him with an orange or a grapefruit or some other bringer of horrible death.

"No no no!" Radek was arguing, clip board nearly missing Rodney's face as he waved it around in support of his argument.

"Yes, yes, you're not seeing the big picture here, because…" blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda John mentally filled in, leaning against the wall and smirking at them as if sure, he lurked in the door to the transporter all the time, that was his business, his job don't you know, and hey, no, he hadn't noticed the bug-like bringer of pain and death in the corridor in front of him, why would he care about a bug sitting there? He just had nowhere better to be.

Blah blah blah Radek continued until they were next to him, then Rodney said, "Hey, look!" and ducked down to smack his empty coffee mug over the bug, grabbing Radek's clipboard to scoop it up, "These are the things Jinto was looking for, aren't they?"

"Yes, yes, good pets he said, like hissing cockroaches," Radek said, then nodded at John, "Colonel."

"Hey, Colonel," Rodney said, "I'll take this to Teyla, she can pass it on, the Athosian kids will swap that weird salty candy of theirs for these, good good, and by the way, you're so totally wrong..." and the blah blah blah of the science gabble continued as they wandered away, arguing, Rodney's mug full of pain and death and pain and blood and pain and nasty bugness which apparently made a good pet leaving with them.

"My hero," John muttered under his breath in a manly way, and finally moved on to continue his patrol.

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