"Uh, where is who, sir?" Chuck asked nervously. He could feel his palms sweating.
"Colonel Sheppard. Soon to be known as 'Dead Man Shep' when I get through with him."
Chuck gulped. He didn't want to know what the colonel had done to get Dr. McKay into such a state. "I... I think I saw him heading down to the labs," he managed to get out.
"He should be heading to the infirmary," Rodney spat. "He's gonna need Carson soon..." The scientist's voice trailed off as he stomped out of the gate room.
Chuck exhaled noisily as soon as Rodney was out of earshot. Then he activated his radio. "Colonel Sheppard, there's something you need to know..."
Radek Zelenka and Daniel Jackson heard the ranting long before they saw its source. Daniel was trying to explain the concept of Merlin's weapon to the engineer, and he winced as a particularly obnoxious comment floated into the lab from the hallway outside. Radek merely rolled his eyes, having heard most of the insults before. "Don't worry," said Radek to Daniel. "This is completely normal for him."
"Where's the follicularly-challenged flyboy?" Rodney snapped as he entered the lab.
Radek looked pointedly at Rodney's receding hairline. "Who's follicularly-challenged?"
As usual, Daniel jumped in to play mediator. "Congratulations on figuring out how to calibrate the explosions," he said quickly. "Sam was impressed."
"She was?" Rodney asked, his face lighting up for a minute. Then he shook his head. "Of course she was. Don't try to distract me, though." Daniel shrugged at Radek, who threw up his hands. Rodney planted his own hands firmly on the lab console and leaned forward. "Have either of you seen Sheppard recently?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Because I want to thank him for imparting his motivational style to Colonel Mitchell. The man threatened to kill me with a lemon!"
Try as they might, neither of the other two men were able to hide their grins. Seeing that, Rodney's face turned even redder, and Radek wondered if it was physically possible for someone's head to explode. He'd have to ask Carson about that later. "Colonel Sheppard was here about half an hour ago, but I don't know where he is now," said the Czech. "Have you asked Dr. Weir or Dr. Beckett?"
"Hmmph," Rodney replied. "You better believe I'm going to." With that, he hurried out of the lab.
It took almost five minutes for Daniel and Radek to stop laughing. When they finally did, Radek made a call on his radio. "Carson? I think Rodney is headed your way..."
The physician sighed as he cut the connection with Radek. The day had been mercifully quiet up to this point. He supposed he shouldn't be too surprised that it was Rodney who would be responsible for ending that. Carson grinned in spite of himself, though, as he pictured Colonel Sheppard's predicament. "The lad should know better than to torment Rodney like that," he said under his breath.
He suddenly heard loud footsteps and heavy breathing, and Rodney burst into the infirmary. "Carson!" he puffed. "Has Sheppard been in here?"
The physician schooled his face into a neutral expression. "I have'na seen the Colonel, no. Are you all right, son? You look a little winded."
Rodney waved his hands in the air. "Fine. I'll be... puff... even better... puff... once I've had a few words with him." He suddenly turned to glare at Carson. "And I'm finding it very suspicious that nobody seems to know where the expedition's Chief Military Officer is."
"Really, Rodney. Given your cheerful disposition, is it any wonder he's making himself scarce?"
"Gee, Carson, I don't know. Since I can't find him, how would he know that I'm looking for him if someone hasn't been tipping him off? It wouldn't by any chance be you, would it?"
The physician sighed. "You're starting to sound paranoid. No, it's not me."
Rodney snorted. "You're right – it can't be you. You're just not that good a liar." With that, he went on his way.
Carson let himself grin again. "It wasn't me before... but it is now." He tapped his earpiece. "John?"
The physicist didn't know where else to look, so he wandered over to Elizabeth's office. "Come in!" she called out in response to his knock. He entered, careful to keep his expression pleasant. It had occurred to him that perhaps yelling at the top of his lungs wasn't the best way to keep his intentions secret. He refused to believe that Elizabeth didn't know where Sheppard was, so maybe he could trick her into giving him a clue.
"What can I do for you, Rodney?" she asked, smiling. He felt his guard immediately go up. Why was she smiling like that?
He leaned against the door frame, trying to look casual. "Nothing, really. I just wanted to know..."
She interrupted him. "You just wanted to know if I'd heard the good news. Yes, Rodney. The Ori supergate is now blocked. Congratulations."
Rodney blinked. That wasn't what he was going to say. "Thank you, but what I really wanted to know was..."
"Don't be modest. It was a great accomplishment! And I'm sure they couldn't have done it without you." She beamed at him again, and now Rodney was really confused.
"Take the rest of the day off, Rodney. You deserve it." Elizabeth got up from behind her desk and walked over to the door. Gently, she guided Rodney out with a hand on his shoulder. "I have to finish some reports now, but if you like you can meet Teyla, Ronon, and me in the mess hall for dinner later." Before Rodney could say another word, the door closed behind him. Elizabeth could see him give her a very quizzical look before walking away.
She burst out laughing, then bent to look under her desk. "It's okay, John. You can come out now."