Absurdity Theory
by Julad

So I started writing this for the 38 Minutes challenge on sga_flashfic. After about seventy minutes, I gave up on meeting the deadline. I tried to make it in 38 hours, but three days later I got the impression the story was laughing at me. I have, however, finished it in well under 38 days! I'm counting that as a victory.

"Don't be ridiculous," Rodney said. "That defies any number of the laws of physics."

"I agree," Zelenka said firmly. "It's impossible. Also, implausible. Also," he added to Rodney, "clearly not true."

"Felozian law dictates that punishment must mitigate the crime, Lady of Atlantis," the Felozian Ambassador said delicately to Elizabeth, who was still gaping open-mouthed. "As your envoys have persisted in saying such unacceptable things in our presence, we have ensured they cannot give further offense to our Honoured Knowledge-Givers."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "It wasn't that offensive. If your scientists were worth anything, they'd have thicker hides than that!"

"Besides, was perfectly valid criticism," Zelenka added.

John held up the recorder again, and pressed play. "Quack quack quack," it said, in Rodney's voice. "Quack honk quack quack honk honk!"

"Honk," Zelenka's voice said. "Quack quack honk."

"Okay," Rodney admitted, frowning. "Maybe not as impossible as I thought."

Zelenka turned and looked at him. He was frowning too, but there was a glint of excitement in his eyes. "We have to find out what's causing that."

Rodney felt his heart leap with excitement. "There must be some kind of distortion field around us! We have to find out if it's --"

"Yes, and how big it is!"

"Where is it getting the power from?" Rodney demanded. "The kind of power it would take to generate a field like that could be--"

"I hate to interrupt," John interrupted, breaking Rodney's train of thought. "But since we can't understand a word you're saying, is there some way you can tell us what the quack you're so happy about?"

"Very funny," Zelenka told him.

John held up the recorder again. "Quack, honk," Zelenka said on it, dryly.

"Yes, well presumably we can still type," Rodney snapped at him. "I'll send you an email." He grabbed the tape recorder and gestured to Zelenka. "Physics laboratory first?"

"Then Dr Beckett, I think, to look for anatomical changes. Maybe not a distortion field at all."

"Right, good, then we start testing it."

Sheppard, Ford, and Teyla followed them, to make sure there were no other effects, John said. He wasn't very convincing. Teyla was keeping a straight face, but Ford couldn't stop giggling.

Elizabeth stayed in the conference room to continue the negotiations.

It turned out there were no anatomical changes, and no fields of any kind they knew how to detect.

"Never mind, we test range and strength of field," Zelenka said. "Maybe limit avenues for investigation."

"Good, good," Rodney said, which apparently was funny in duck-ese, because Ford burst out laughing.

"Okay, I understood that," John said, smirking.

It turned out that the field worked through walls, and through the Stargate, and when Rodney flew a jumper--Sheppard trailing along--to the other side of the planet.

"A planet-sized field!" Zelenka crowed over the radio.

"Or it's a micro-sized field," Rodney said glumly.

"In our ears and throats only," Zelenka said, suddenly glum as well. "Scrambling and unscrambling our voices. That's not so useful."

Rodney felt bad for bursting his bubble. "Well, on the bright side, it can obviously perform computations in thin air. That could be useful."

"Ooh," Zelenka said, and Rodney gave a thumbs up to Sheppard, who was listening, mouth twitching uncontrollably. This was so cool.

They took a break for lunch, and Rodney took a moment to send an email to Weir and Sheppard about what they were doing. Sheppard read it over his shoulder as he typed, which was annoying. Didn't your mother teach you any manners? Rodney typed.

"Uh, I hate to break it to you," John said. "But all I see you writing is 'quack quack quack'."

"Don't be ridiculous," Rodney told him. They were drawing quite a lot of attention, and it occured to him that maybe they shouldn't have eaten in the mess while they were linguistically challenged.

"That is impossible," Zelenka said, and took the laptop. "Here, read this." He had to point John at the screen before John understood him.

"That says, uh, I don't know, I'll spell it out."

When he did, Zelenka's shoulders slumped. "Czech for 'quack'."

"Maybe we're under some kind of hypnosis," Rodney said, hours and hours later, lying on the floor of the physics laboratory. "Maybe we just think we're saying what we think we're really saying."

"But then how do we understand each other?" Zelenka demanded, next to him, and then sighed. "Unless we're hypnotised to think we understand each other."

"We seem to understand one another," Rodney mused. "We both went straight for the physics lab."

"Yes, but we apparently were placed inside some kind of distortion field. Where else would we go?"

"Okay, you're right. We have to verify that we understand one another. How do we do that?" He sat up. "Okay, tell me what I'm saying: chicken, basketball, um. Terminator II."

"Chicken, basketball, Terminator II," Zelenka repeated, staring at the ceiling. It seemed like the whole quacking thing was starting to get him down. "But how do you know you don't hear what you expect to hear to verify your hypothesis?"

"Okay, okay, how about this? I'm going to punch you in the stomach, and if you're surprised, I'll know you couldn't understand me."

"Yes, but obvious next step is to hit me. I had already thought of that. Also, don't hit me. Am not in the mood."

"Okay," Rodney said, and leaned over and kissed him, just briefly, a whisper of contact. "Was that a surprise?"

"Yes," Zelenka said, a little crossly.

"Ha!" Rodney said. "That's it! We only think we understand each other!"

"Don't be so stupid." Zelenka sat up and glared at him. "You didn't say first that you were going to kiss me. You proved nothing."

"Oh," Rodney said.

"Very well," Zelenka said, looking very disgruntled. "I will kiss you now."

"No, no, no," Rodney told him. "What kind of experiment is that? I just kissed you, of course you'll try to kiss me back!"

Zelenka threw up his hands. "Do I look like I am about to kiss you, Rodney?"

"Well, not exactly," Rodney began, and then shut up. Up close, Zelenka smelled good, and his lips were very firm, and his stubble scratched. Rodney opened his mouth, and Zelenka's tongue pressed in, making him moan aloud. They tipped sideways onto the floor and started making out in earnest. It felt so damn good, somebody else to press against, the weight of a head cradled in his hands, heat generated so much faster with two bodies than with one.

"Wait, wait." Zelenka broke off and pulled back, panting. "Does this mean we understand one another?"

Rodney shook his head to clear it. "I have no idea."

"Maybe cards," Zelenka said, sitting up again.

"Okay, we obviously don't understand one another," Rodney said.

"If we get a stack of cards, we can test--"

"A deck of cards, and no, because if we're hypnotised, you could just think you saw the card that I just said I was going to show you. Or that you thought I said I was going to show you. Or something."

"Hm. Maybe we are in two separate realities."

"Maybe our unconscious bodies are lying on the floor of the conference room, and this is all a wacky dream."

Zelenka looked at him. "I hate when stories end that way."

Rodney sighed. "Me too."

In the end, they agreed that they appeared to understand one another well enough to make disproving it an unproductive avenue for research. They went back to the mess hall for breakfast, where the guy on duty just laughed at them when Rodney wanted to know if there was lemon in the yellowish thing.

"Uh, quack quack, right," the guy said, and snorted in amusement.

"He has genital warts, you know," Zelenka said, right in front of him.

Rodney couldn't help himself-- he looked at the guy's crotch and then at Zelenka. "Okay, one, how am I supposed to eat now, and two, how could you possibly know that?"

Zelenka smiled broadly at the guy, who had stopped laughing. "Oh, I don't. I said it so you would react like that. Now he will wonder what our conversation is about."

"Oh. Good idea. Still, I think it's best if I don't eat the yellow stuff." Rodney looked at the serving guy and pointed to the greenish thing. "All right, quack quack, and give me a lot of it, I'm starving."

They went back to the medical laboratory to let Beckett run more tests and show them the results.

"I'm terribly sorry," he said, hours later. "As far as the equipment is concerned, there's simply nothing wrong with either of you. Well, nothing that wouldn't be fixed by less caffeine and more sleep. Have you tried drinking decaf? Honestly."

"Decaf is sin against nature's most sublime creation," Zelenka said firmly.

"Fine, fine," Beckett said. "Don't say I didn't warn you, when your kidneys turn brown."

Rodney stared at him. Beckett rolled his eyes.

"Don't get excited, Rodney. I don't need a universal translator to know he was telling me where to stick my decaf."

"Oh," Rodney said, disappointed.

"A universal translator," Zelenka repeated, slowly.

"Oh, of course!" Rodney jumped to his feet and headed straight back to the physics labs. "We should have tried that first."

"We are criminally stupid," Zelenka agreed, following. "Obviously what we say is encrypted somehow."

"And how hard can it be to crack an algorithm that turns everything into quacks?"

"I'll be telling Doctor Weir you've had an idea, then?" Beckett called after them.

The problem with their plan was a very simple one. Their command lines kept returning errors. Quack to the quack plus or minus quack over honk did not, apparently, compute.

Zelenka slammed his laptop shut, hard. "Kurva drát!"

"See, that sounds like quack to me. Maybe we're just both speaking Czech."

The look Zelenka gave him nearly burned him to a crisp.

"Or not," Rodney said quickly, and gently opened Zelenka's laptop back up. "Okay, maybe we can do this in binary? Quack for zero, honk for one?"

"No, we can not do this in binary!" Zelenka yelled. "This entire ridiculous scenario, no, we cannot fix this!"

"Oh, no, of course not, let's just quack forever! That'll solve all our problems!"

"No, this is, I am finally--" he broke off and swore again. "Once more I am speaking perfectly comprehensible English that nobody can understand! I'm not going to do this again, Rodney. Funny man who talks funny, I will not--" He ran his hands through his hair in frustration, and then sat back and stared at Rodney in despair. "I have already done this one time too many," he said finally.

"Oh," Rodney said.

"Rodney," Zelenka began, rubbing his temples.

"My Russian was really bad," Rodney offered. "If that helps, which it probably doesn't. But hey, probably my quacking is better Russian than my Russian. Probably your quacking is better Russian than my Russian. Probably your quacking in Czech is better Russian than my Russian.

"Rodney, please shut up."

"Right, yes, sorry."

They sat there in silence for a minute. Rodney couldn't help thinking that they'd made out on the floor of this room a few hours ago, but he was careful not to look at the spot where it had happened. Instead, he tried to do something in binary. One plus one equals two, for instance.

He couldn't get the system to equate quack with zero. It only equated quack with quack.

"That's it," he said, and closed his laptop. "All my brilliance is nothing but quack-quack-quack." He made the appropriate hand gesture. "I bet Ford has a copy of Harry Potter buried under his mattress. Maybe there's a counterspell we could use."

"I'm going to sleep," Zelenka said, opening his eyes from where he'd slumped down in the chair. "Maybe like a fairy tale, I wake up speaking English again."

As they walked through the corridors to their quarters, it was hard to ignore the people who giggled at the sight of them. Rodney kept his mouth shut and didn't say anything. At least, not until Kavanagh stopped him on the stairs.

"McKay," he said, smirking. "I can't tell you how happy I am that I won't have to listen to your stupid, arrogant, condescending orders for a while. The whole team asked me to pass on their wishes for your slow recovery."

Unfortunately for Kavanagh, they were two steps higher than him. Zelenka hit him with a right cross that knocked him right on his ass. "Translate that," he said, and stood there with his arms crossed, glaring down.

"Wow, that was dumb," Rodney told him, happy to let everyone hear him quacking with glee. "Even for you, that was dumb."

"Come on," Zelenka said, grabbing his arm and dragging him off. He didn't let go until they were inside Zelenka's quarters.

"The thing we did, on the floor," he began, and then stopped.

It was funny, but Rodney had absolutely no idea what Zelenka was going to say next. None at all. He had the oddest feeling that he was looking at a complete stranger. Take away the funny man with the funny accent, and what was left? He didn't know.

"You're not going to say anything?" Zelenka said.

"I thought you were going to say something," Rodney said, confused.

"Oh." Zelenka looked annoyed. "I assumed you would interrupt and I wouldn't have to say anything."

"Oh, okay," Rodney said quickly, and then wracked his brain. He had no idea what to say about it. "Do you think I should say it was purely in the name of science?"

"Maybe we should agree we will not have this conversation," Zelenka suggested.

"Yes, good, right, let's do that," Rodney said.



They stood there for a minute.

"It was hot though," Rodney blurted. "I mean, wait, sorry. I mean, we could talk about whether or not it was hot. And if you thought it was hot, I would probably agree with you. But if you didn't think it was hot, then, uh. Then it wasn't that hot, really."

"I thought it was hot," Zelenka conceded.

"But of course we're probably both very, um."

"Yes, of course."

"And it doesn't mean--"

"No. But it also doesn't mean--"

"Right, right, no."

"Wait, wait. Let me rephrase. Maybe this conversation will be much better if we stop talking," Zelenka said, and Rodney found himself grinning. He was an idiot. Take away the funny man with the funny accent, and there was a great mind. Great minds thought alike. They were on exactly the same page, and on that page, they were going to get off with another body for the first time in months.

Before he'd even completed the thought, they were making out again, and stumbling towards the bed. God, it felt good, and he was so fucking horny.

When he woke up, Zelenka was pressed along his back, cheek abrading his shoulder blades, chest rising and falling against his spine. The warmth he gave off was luxurious. Rodney stretched, feeling his body go thankyouthankyouthankyou for getting me laid! God, he felt fantastic, and all they'd done was make out and jerk off.

He wondered whether this was a one-time thing or a thing they could maybe do again. Againagainagain, his body suggested, and Rodney was inclined to agree. He reached behind himself and ran a hand down Zelenka's thigh, not trying to wake him up, but not exactly trying not to, either.

"Mm," Zelenka said sleepily into his shoulder. "Yes, again."

There was nothing more rewarding than being naked in bed with a mind (nearly) as great as his own. Rodney rolled over and on top of him, and they were kissing once more. Zelenka kissed dirty. He kissed clever and impatient and opinionated, and everything about it was yes sex now. It was definitely hot.

Rodney got a thigh between his legs, and their cocks lined up, and a hand on either side of his head, so he could kiss him harder. Zelenka moaned fervently, and Rodney could already feel it starting, tremors shooting down his legs and in his balls. He ground down on the body that was grinding up against him. "Oh God, yes," he gasped into Zelenka's mouth, and Zelenka said, "ha, yes, oh," and pulled Rodney's mouth down on his again. That was all it took, and Rodney broke off and sucked hard on Zelenka's neck as he came, whimpering into hot flesh that felt so fucking good under him. Zelenka swore and arched up, coming as well.

"This was a very good idea," Zelenka said, when their breathing slowed.

"Best idea ever," Rodney mumbled into his throat, tempted to nap for a while. But no, getting magnificently laid did not change the fact that they both quacked like ducks instead of talking. Or, at least, not that they knew. He sat up.

"Hey, go check if anybody can understand us yet."

Zelenka threw an arm over his eyes. "Not moving. You go."

"Oh, yes, all right, I'll go." Rodney said. "I'll just open the door to your quarters, naked and unshaven, and ask the nearest marine if myself and the naked geek inside are still talking funny."

Muttering, Zelenka wrapped a sheet around his waist, stumbled to his door, and leaned out. "Excuse me, Sergeant?" he called. "Can you understand what I'm saying?"

"I'm sorry, Doctor," Bates' voice came back, without a hint of amusement. "I can't understand what you're saying. Is there a problem?"

"Aside from this stupid quacking? No, no, never mind. No problem." Zelenka came back inside, and the doors shut behind him. "Not cured," he said, shrugging expansively. "Shower, breakfast, back to the labs."

Rodney stopped by Weir's office to give the status report she wanted, which went something like this:

DR MCKAY: Well, as you can no doubt hear, I am still quacking like a duck.

DR WEIR: Rodney! I see your problem continues.

DR MCKAY: And obviously I would have already heard if the Felozians had told you anything useful.

DR WEIR: We are still negotiating with the Felozians for the, uh, curse, to be lifted.

DR MCKAY: There's nothing you can do to help, and even if you could, I have no way of asking you to do it, so I'm going back to the labs.

DR WEIR: If there's anything else I can do to help, just-- oh. Well, I suppose you're doing all you can. I'll inform you immediately if there's any news.

DR MCKAY: Oh, right, I thought you'd just keep it to yourself for a few days. This has been a complete waste of time, thanks, bye!

He was halfway down the stairs when he had a thought, and ran back up. "By the way," he told her, "I suppose the responsible thing to do would be to inform you that I'm sleeping with another member of your team, and it occurs to me that now is the ideal moment. So consider yourself informed: me and Radek Zelenka. Quack."

When he got down to the labs, Zelenka had built a Turing machine out of cardboard, string, and a ballpoint pen.

"Oh, I love you. Did I mention that I love you?" Rodney said, admiring it.

"Doesn't work," Zelenka said, glaring at it. "Well, it does, but it doesn't do anything useful. All it does is quack."

"Wow," Rodney said, and sat down heavily. "You know, if we could explain this, we could advance the field of physics by about ten thousand years. Obviously this thing operates in ways we never knew existed. It affects cardboard. That's incredible."

"It's unbelievable," Zelenka said. He pulled the pen out of the Turing machine, grabbed a notebook, and sat down opposite Rodney. "We're doing this all wrong. We should start by creating most implausible theory of physics ever invented, and work backwards. Maybe then we'll arrive at explanation."

"Good idea. Well, no, it's actually an amazingly stupid idea, but at this point, I haven't got a better one. So, where do we begin? I guess we'd have to make magic real, for starters."

"Right. Spells would be effective outside self-fulfilling hypotheses and psychological explanation."

"Good, good. I suppose we should throw in telepathy. Human telepathy, I mean. Telekinesis, too."

"Yes. And God. And all the other gods, and make it so that all the gods that are the only God exist independently of all the other gods that are the only God."

"Excellent. Hm, that gives us miracles, karma, heaven, hell, countless other religious planes and dimensions."

"I think angels and vampires, also."

"Right, right, throw in the whole Buffy back catalogue. What else?"

Zelenka frowned. "Astrology?"

Rodney shuddered. "No, no, no. Do we have to?"

"Yes," Zelenka said, "and numerology. And also, tea leaves, and, what is the English, the stones with the symbols?"

"Runes." Rodney sighed. "Okay, runes are in."

"Oh!" Zelenka said, snapping his fingers, and then pointing. "Cold fusion!"


"The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

"The Loch Ness Monster."

"The tooth fairy."

"Marilyn Monroe was murdered in a massive CIA conspiracy."

"And, of course, a curse that turns English and Czech into noise of ducks across speech, Unix, and cardboard Turing machines."

"I'd say we're good to go," Rodney said, studying the list. "The McKay-Zelenka Unified Theory of Absurdity, coming right up."

Zelenka handed him the notebook and pen. "I'll make the coffee. You do the math."

They took a break for a late lunch, having made some very interesting progress. The funny thing was, now that Rodney had a metaphysical rationale for absurdity, a whole lot of Ancient technology started making sense. The tooth fairy was causing problems, but once they posited an infinite number of massively multidimensional realities, and that minds were subject to the laws of the reality they believed in, unless the realities interacted under force of sentient will, the rest was fairly straightforward.

The hard part was the math, which Rodney was having to do by hand. He'd already filled up three notebooks with equations, and his fingers were aching. Still, Zelenka was convinced they could get to a solid foundation for time travel by the end of the day. Rodney wanted to head straight for computation in thin air, which would hopefully get him a working calculator, but Zelenka made a good case for trying to meet up with contemporary physics sooner rather than later.

Everyone in the mess hall was staring at them as they debated, and a large number were laughing until they cried, but Rodney could care less about quacking right now. By the time they were ready to publish, they'd have long since figured out how to lift the curse. He ignored them and wolfed down his food-- after a brainstorming session, he was always starving. Also, he'd missed breakfast, because he'd had to give Weir the status non-report. Also, before that, he'd had sex. Twice. He stopped shovelling food in his mouth, and grinned at Zelenka.

Zelenka knew exactly what he meant by that, and grinned back. Oh, good. They could take the notebooks back to his quarters -- no, Rodney's quarters, Zelenka's sheets were filthy -- and have more sex, and maybe he could get a blowjob for doing all the math, and then they could nap, and then they could stay naked in bed doing wildly improbable theoretical physics until dinnertime. And then Rodney would share his last packet of M&Ms with Zelenka. Maybe.

"So," Zelenka said, when they'd finished eating. "Your place?"

"Yup," Rodney said.

He did get a blowjob for doing all the math, and having a wet mouth on his cock was so spectacularly good, Rodney broke out the M&Ms right after.

"Rodney, I love you," Zelenka said, writhing on the bed, mouth full of chocolate. "Tell me you have more of these."

"I have more of these," Rodney lied.

"Liar," Zelenka said, and kissed him again, smiling. He tasted sweet.

They napped, and then jerked off in the shower together, waking themselves up. Oh, sex, Rodney thought, tasting hot water, legs quivering so hard he could barely stand up under the spray. As soon as he started getting laid, he always wondered how it was possible he hadn't died without it; hadn't actually perished from deprivation of something this essential.

He hummed as he towelled off, sneaking looks at Zelenka, still rinsing his hair, wondering vaguely if he should care that he was feeling all the symptoms of a sudden release of phenylethylamine. He recognised the rampant body chemistry that meant he was falling in love like a ton of bricks, and it should have scared the shit out of him, but he was too gleeful to care. Sex! Physics! Zelenka! Sex! It was all good. Still humming, he found the latest notebook and picked up where he'd left off.

He caught Zelenka looking speculatively at him, a few hours later. There was something so fey in the look, Rodney's heart skipped a beat and then went into double time.

"What?" he demanded. "What, what?"

"I suspect that too much sex and chocolate and scientific breakthrough has filled my bloodstream with phenylethylamine," Zelenka said, sounding a little put out.

Rodney's heart rate, if anything, tripled. "Oh, good, me too," he said hurriedly, and kissed him desperately. Just as desperate, Zelenka pushed him on the bed and climbed on top of him.

"Oh, wow, this is so great," Rodney said, when he got his breath back. He was thrilled. "I'm always ten times more brilliant when I'm in love."

"Me, not so much," Zelenka admitted, running a finger across Rodney's lower lip. "I'm thinking all the time about your hands and your mouth, and not able to focus on connecting particle physics to other realities."

He was twisting his mouth. Rodney licked it, horny and delighted, jittery with excitement. Zelenka parted his lips and let Rodney's tongue in, and then groaned loudly. "Rodney, this isn't helping me concentrate."

"Too late to stop it now," Rodney told him, thinking fast. "The only solution is to have sex every time we want sex. Otherwise, we'll never get any work done."

Zelenka thought about that for a second, still on top of him and breathing hard. "I doubt your reasoning is very sound, but I'm too high on dopamines to identify the flaws in it."

He smiled suddenly, and Rodney beamed back at him.

They missed dinner, finishing off time-travel, and had more sex to celebrate when they met up with universal field theory.

"I'm a genius!" Rodney crowed, slamming his cock into Zelenka's hot, hot ass. His heart was beating so fast, he could hardly breathe. "A genius!"

"Yes!" Zelenka gasped. "Yes, oh, yes."

It was easily the best sex Rodney McKay had ever had.

Zelenka fetched more powerbars and another half-dozen notebooks while Rodney changed the sheets. By the time the sun came up, caffeine was losing the battle against sleep deprivation. Rodney could feel his brain grinding to a stop, and he wasn't going to make any more brilliant leaps of insight without resting it, but computation in thin air was looking good. It was just a matter of generating a separate reality which then acted at the sub-atomic level on the current reality.

"It's so simple," he said, looking down at the notebooks on his pillows. "Why didn't I think of this before?"

"Because you were not basing your theories on presumed validity of numerology?" Zelenka suggested, feet resting in the small of Rodney's back. He'd been working on generating holograms with his mind, after hypothesising that the chair in Antarctica made it easier for a sentient will to interface with other realities. So far he'd made some blue swirls appear in the air over the bed, but he couldn't make a image of where they were in the universe.

"Obviously," Rodney said, and rolled over, restless. The quacking was starting to bother him again. If they were right, they'd made the greatest breakthrough since Einstein; they'd be able to nail vacuum energy and wormhole theory and wipe the floor with every other physicist who'd ever doubted Rodney McKay's extraordinary brilliance, which was all very good. But until they stopped quacking, they had no possible outside verification that their theories were plausible, that his calculations were correct, that the holograms Zelenka was making actually existed.

He rubbed his thumb along Zelenka's ankle, troubled. It had been days since he'd talked to anybody else, and he was starting to long for Elizabeth, listening with a cautious but open mind, or Sheppard, listening with a skeptical one. Beckett, even, or Miko, although it would take him three hours to prise any disagreement from her. He and Zelenka thought too much alike.

"I think I should go back to my quarters for a while," Zelenka said, lifting up his feet and rolling out of the bed. "I need to--" he waved his hands inarticulately.

Rodney almost shuddered-- he knew exactly what he meant. He'd hit the wall on intimacy and needed to be alone for a while. Too much time together, and it was getting weird. They thought way too much alike.

After Zelenka left, with a wry smile and a longer kiss than either of them expected, Rodney took a shower and got dressed. At breakfast, he saw Sheppard, and waved him over.

"I need some fresh air," he said. "Are you up for a trip to the mainland?"

"Uh, can you maybe mime that for me?" John said. "Sorry."

At least he wasn't laughing any more. Rodney led him to the nearest balcony, and then pointed in the direction of the mainland.

"No problem," John said, and arranged it.

Rodney pointed the way to a site they'd flown over a few times, an area on the coastline where several glaciers dumped tons of ice into the ocean. John set the jumper down at a safe distance, and hiked with Rodney a few miles to where they had a view of the action. Rodney sat down and watched ice fall, letting the brutally cold wind slap him awake, but still feeling mute and miserable.

John gave him a few sideways looks, but stayed silent. Rodney was tempted to unload onto him, but the thought of sitting on this mountainside with this view and quacking was enough to make him think inside his head for a change.

It wasn't that he thought this wasn't reality. He'd picked up on non-reality pretty quickly, the last time he'd been sucked into it. But there was something far too unlikely about the last few days-- the curse, Zelenka, and their Unified Theory of Absurdity. The sex was great, the theory was staggeringly brilliant, but the curse had put them into some kind of vacuum, where the inevitable downside, the inevitable catches and drawbacks and problems, couldn't touch them.

And when the seal on a vacuum was broken? Whoosh.

John pulled a packet of sandwiches and a flask of coffee from his pack, and Rodney shared them, silently grateful. When the caffeine hit his stomach and his blood sugar started rising, he felt something closer to normal. Okay, humiliating curse, brilliant sex, outrageous theory, so what? Not quite a normal Day In The Life Of Dr Rodney McKay, but the difference was more quantitative than qualitative. The quacking was annoying, but then most of his days were annoying, without the upsides.

He inhaled a few more lungfuls of icy air and then stood up, pointing back to the jumper and then to Atlantis. John shouldered his pack, and they made their way back.

Elizabeth met them in the jumper bay. "I may have some good news for you," she said. "Say something, Rodney."

"What, like quack?" Rodney snapped, tired and fed up.

"No, not like quack," she said, and beamed.

"Hey, welcome back!" Sheppard said, and slapped him on the shoulder.

Rodney blinked. "You mean I can talk now? I can talk, and you can understand me?"

Elizabeth smiled warmly. "Yes, you can talk, and we can understand you. We negotiated a treaty with the Felozians, one that unfortunately precludes any sharing of scientific knowledge, but it did include lifting the curse on yourself and Dr Zelenka."

"Does he know?" Rodney demanded. "Have you told him?"

"Yes. He said he needed to speak with you when you returned. Before you told anybody anything, he said."

Whoosh, Rodney thought, feeling himself go numb with dread.

He went straight to the physics lab. Zelenka was there, running tests and typing commands into half a dozen different terminal windows. The pen was back in the Turing machine.

"Give me the bad news first," Rodney said.

"You think I have any good news?" Zelenka snapped. "No, it is all bad."

The high of the last day was rapidly turning into a headlong plummet. "Fine, give me the worst news first."

Zelenka tossed him one of their notebooks. Rodney opened it.

If he'd been kicked in the gut this hard before, he didn't know it, and Rodney McKay had been kicked in the gut many, many times. Every single page was covered in quacks. Rodney checked another, and another, and another. Six, no, seven, no, eight notebooks, full of gibberish in his own handwriting. "This is a joke, right?" he asked Zelenka weakly. His voice sounded pleading to his own ears.

"Trying to find out now, thank you," Zelenka said grimly, typing. He pointed to another laptop. "I tried to reconstruct theory over there, work on that while it is fresh in your memory."

Rodney sat down, and stared blankly at the screen. It might as well have said quack-quack-quack. There was a pain in his chest and a sick feeling in his stomach that made it hard to breathe. "We were delusional," he said quietly. "That's all it was. We were delusional."

"Am not sure yet," Zelenka said, and then turned to him, eyes hollow. "Rodney, please. Maybe there's another explanation."

"No, there is no other explanation. It was all raving." Rodney dropped the notebook onto the floor as bitterness overwhelmed him. "We were both out of our fucking heads. Quacking mad." He laughed, then. He was staring right at where they'd kissed, trying to verify whether or not they understood one another. They hadn't been brilliant, oh, no. They had been stoned.

Zelenka picked up the notebook and put it back in his hands. "No, no. It's not plausible that it was all madness. We understood one another."

They thought too closely alike not to, Rodney thought miserably. Quack quack quack, and he knew exactly what Zelenka meant. Or close enough, for a shared acid trip.

"Rodney!" Zelenka snapped. "Get to work."

"Oh, shut up!" Rodney yelled at him. "Don't be so fucking stupid, the theory's ridiculous and you know it. Well, you should know it, but obviously you're too dumb to even know how dumb it is. I can't believe how high I must have been, to listen to your stupid idea!"

Zelenka got up and walked out of the lab. Rodney could feel how hard he wanted to slam the door shut behind him. Instead, the Ancient mechanism slid the doors closed silently, as usual.

He saw him again an hour later, in Beckett's lab. All his own tests had come back the same as ever. "If you don't get some sleep soon, Rodney, I'll slip something in your coffee. Aye, and not a committee in this galaxy would reprimand me for it, so don't try me. You'll stay in your quarters for the next forty-eight hours, or you'll succumb to a massive dose of Novoflupam in the middle of a corridor somewhere; it's your choice which."

Rodney was pathetically grateful for the ultimatum. He wanted to be alone. As he was leaving, though, Zelenka arrived for his own checkup.

"Rodney," Zelenka said, touching his arm, "listen to me," but Rodney shook his head and pulled away. He couldn't deal with it right now, the hot, sick pain in his gut at the thought of days and days of delusion; eight notebooks full of quacking.

Zelenka followed him out into the corridor. "Rodney, I think maybe the theory is not wrong. I think the curse did not make us crazy. But if the theory is right, the reality we are in depends on what reality we believe. Do you see?"

Rodney looked at him, remembering how good his body had felt underneath him, but it was like remembering another life. He was so fucking angry. "Tell me something. Were you attracted to me? Before?"

"Not really. This matters how?"

Rodney rolled his eyes, burning with embarrassment and rage. "It doesn't seem strange to you? We start quacking like ducks, having sex, and inventing theories that include fortune-telling? That isn't just a little bit strange to you?"

"Of course it's absurd. But Rodney, the Turing machine-- I built it correctly, and it defied the laws of physics, of mathematics, of computation. I have results to prove it. There's no explanation for that. Your calculations for time travel, I spent the last three hours reconstructing them, and I didn't find any flaws."

"I doubt you could find any flaws," Rodney snapped. "It would take a better physicist than you to falsify my reasoning, even if I was stoned when I wrote it."

"Jdi do pekel," Zelenka snapped back at him. "Just because you are disappointed, is not grounds for demeaning my intelligence."

"Oh, I'm not demeaning your intelligence because I'm disappointed. I'm demeaning it because you want to believe in an absurd idea we invented while we were both raving like lunatics. That's grounds for calling you stupid beyond belief!"

"But you will find," Zelenka said coldly, "if you bother to think about it, that madness does not explain everything. In fact, it doesn't explain anything, except maybe that you are small-minded and weak and not half the genius you like to believe." With that, he went back into the lab.

Rodney went back to his quarters and stripped the dirty sheets off the bed. He lay down on the bare mattress and, after only a few seconds of staring angrily at the wall, fell asleep.

When he woke up, Zelenka was lying on the mattress beside him. Rodney thought about being angry some more, but he ended up just putting his arms around him.

God, he was miserable, but apparently, he was also forgiven. He buried his face in Zelenka's neck, and went back to sleep, holding tightly onto him.

Zelenka was kissing him, the next time he woke up. He was no longer so sex-deprived that every touch felt like a miracle, but he'd been alone for enough of his life that sleepy kissing felt better than just about everything else in his experience. Sighing, he pulled Zelenka's body on top of him, brushing his hands on warm, thrumming skin.

"Have you finished being an asshole?" Zelenka asked him, hand drifting downward.

"Well, it's more like a way of life for me," Rodney began, and Zelenka's hand stopped. "But yes! For now, definitely finished!"

Zelenka kissed him again, beautiful dirty kissing, and Rodney made loud appreciative noises and thrust into his hand, which was as clever and lewd as his mouth. "Oh yeah," he gasped, jerking helplessly against the mattress.

Zelenka did something twisty and brilliant, and Rodney came all over his hand. "Roll over," he said, and then pushed him over when Rodney's muscles wouldn't move for him. Rodney sprawled out, shivering helplessly as Zelenka slid into him. Oh, God. Best. Idea. Ever. He moaned into the mattress, spine melting and tingling, trying to get his legs braced so he could thrust back.

"Hot," Zelenka was panting in his ear, throaty and low, like it was a dirty word. "Hot, hot." He was doing it slow and deliberate, taking his time, drawing it out, making him wait as it built. Rodney wasn't the waiting kind. He clenched down on Zelenka's cock, and Zelenka hissed and thrust harder, but then slowed back down again. Rodney wriggled himself down so the angle was better, hitting him every time, and his head spun with it, and he tried to make as many encouraging noises as he knew, and he writhed and shuddered and burned and swore and spread his legs wider and lifted his ass higher and promised every sexual favour he could think of. Zelenka's breathing got ragged, and his grip on Rodney's hips got slippery with sweat, but his pace was implacable, driving Rodney right out of his mind.

"I'll die if you don't do something!" Rodney begged, finally, pushing back desperately, trying to get it harder and deeper. "Hurry up, take me, I'm right here!"

"Oh, no," Zelenka said, and at least he was saying it through gritted teeth. "This show you put on, I'm enjoying it far too much. I'm going to do this for very long time."

"Oh, fuck me," Rodney said, dazedly, and came again.

After that, all he could do was bury his face in the pillow and claw at the mattress as Zelenka finally fucked him fast enough and hard enough that he could taste it in his throat. He shuddered through compounding ecstasy and aftershocks, gasping and mewling, until Zelenka collapsed on top of him, swearing fervently.

Rodney had gone to a great deal of effort to secure himself better quarters than anybody else on the Atlantis team, and they included an enormous bath, more like a small swimming pool, that he'd never even had time to use. He had reason enough now to follow doctor's orders and not leave his room, and plenty of reason to figure out how to get the bath filled and then, after some bemusement, heated.

Bliss, he thought, sinking into the water, hot but also salty, drawn straight from the ocean.

"You have appalling sense of entitlement," Zelenka said, sliding in opposite him. "My rooms have just one little shower."

"Quack, quack, quack," Rodney told him, yawning. "I'm far too postcoital to care what you think."

Zelenka tipped his head back against the bath's cushiony edge. "I have a devastating comeback for that. Just not right now."

Rodney closed his eyes and drifted, well-fucked and moderately well-rested, warm and, after a couple of MREs, only a little bit hungry. The hot, sick pain in his chest was down to a small, distant itch of dissatisfaction. A little embarrassment at being so excited about such a stupid theory, a little disapppointment at being so wrong, that was all.

"I'm sorry," he told Zelenka, feeling more than a little guilty now that he was feeling better. "The things I said to you-- I'm sorry."

Zelenka shrugged. "You fly higher. You fall harder. I couldn't have worked with you all this time if I let you bother me."

Rodney sat up and glared at him. "Wait, what? I don't bother you; what am I, chopped liver? I'm having sex with you, it's personal now! You should have taken that personally! You can't just brush it off!"

"Oh, thank you for assuming I'm a doormat for your temper. I'm not brushing it off; I know you are sorry. Important difference. Obviously you regret being a selfish, stupid prick, or you would not apologise. In fact you are so pigheaded, wild horses could not drag apology out of you, unless you knew you were very, very wrong. So I accept your apology."

"Oh," Rodney said, relieved. "Good."

"But next time I will punch you in the mouth."

"Okay. I guess that's fair."

Zelenka leaned across to kiss him, so Rodney met him halfway, licking his lower lip gratefully. He was too drained to do anything more than that, so they sank back to their respective sides of the tub. Zelenka tipped his head back again, and his eyes drifted closed.

Drawing salty water into the bath was a stroke of genius by some Ancient engineer. Rodney's body seemed to float effortlessly, purring, and his mind curled up inside his skull and went to sleep. His heart kept fluttering occasionally, a nervous, flirty giggle. It felt like it was talking to Zelenka, saying, 'hi, hi, I like you, don't go anywhere!'

Rodney stretched out his feet and rested them on Zelenka's thighs, to reassure himself that he wasn't going anywhere, and then let himself drift.

"I need you to do something for me," Zelenka said, some time later. "Don't ask any questions, just do it."

Rodney tried to open his eyes, and failed delightfully. He was floating. It was bliss. "Anything you want," he mumbled.

"For five minutes, I want you to believe in the Absurdity Theory. Just for five minutes, believe it as hard as you can."

Rodney opened his eyes.

"Please," Zelenka said, and he had his own eyes shut. "Five minutes, that's all."

Rodney was too relaxed to refuse outright, but he also didn't want to go to that place right now.

Zelenka reached for him, and Rodney drifted over to settle between his legs. Zelenka's hands settled on his shoulders and held him there. "Madness doesn't explain anything," he whispered.

Refusing was more than he could do. Rodney closed his eyes again, and thought about the theory.

The universe is an infinite number of massively multidimensional realities, and minds are subject to the laws of the reality they believe in, unless the realities interact under force of sentient will. Rodney added the quacking to the emails to the command lines to the Turing machine, and multiplied it by the blue swirls Zelenka made, and computation in thin air, and the time travel reasoning Zelenka couldn't fault. He took it to the power of the infinite number of things he still didn't understand about Ancient technology, then added God, and magic, and the Loch Ness Monster.

He believed it.

Zelenka's hands tightened on his arms. "Rodney," he breathed. "What am I thinking?"

"You're thinking about where we are in the universe," Rodney told him, looking at the ceiling through a thousand spinning stars.

Unfortunately, in the morning Rodney had to go see what Kavanagh and the others had been up to for the entire week, by now, that he'd been out of the loop. Then there were two days and one night of non-stop yelling. Rodney concluded that the Science team was some kind of zombie: cut off the Head and the rest of it lurched around, knocking things over, leaving a vile stench in its wake, crying out for brains.

It took Zelenka all that time just to get the puddlejumper communications systems back online.

Then there was the really fun disciplinary hearing, presided over by Elizabeth, at which Kavanagh accused Zelenka of attempted murder and Rodney called him a giant sissy. Zelenka called him a lot more than that, but it was mostly not in English. It ended with all three of them being sentenced to no dessert for a month, which was the only punishment available to Elizabeth-- it wasn't like she could sentence them to double shifts when they already worked triples, or lock them up when they were needed in the labs, or fine them money they couldn't spend anyway.

Still, Rodney protested; he'd hardly done anything, and he was going to suffer the most. Elizabeth said the next penalty in line was uninstalling all the games from their laptops. Zelenka kicked him hard in the ankle, and since Kavanagh probably only played Mah Jong, Rodney shut up and took his blatantly unfair punishment like a man.

He still had his precious stash of Reese's Pieces, saved for an honest-to-God life or death situation where only chocolate and peanut butter could save him. It would have to get them through.

"Am I making that?" Elizabeth cried, delighted. Thinking about where she was in the universe had eventually created a pale orange glow about a foot above the conference room table.

"I see it! Rodney, it's working!" Zelenka yelled.

Rodney high-fived him, and then tried to hug him while jumping up and down. Holy shit, she'd done it. They were really fucking on to something. Specifically, they were on the fast track to a Nobel prize.

"Yes!" he told her. "Yes, yes, that's you! Now I'll tell you the really cool part."

"That isn't actually hologram generator," Zelenka said, gesturing at the Ancient devices they'd strapped to her hands. "We think they are bookends, actually."

"Hey, I said I was going to tell her! We had to make you believe you could do it before we got you to try. You're doing that entirely with your mind."

"What?" Elizabeth demanded, and the glow vanished.

"Ha!" Rodney said. "I told you it would do that!"

"I didn't disagree with you," Zelenka said mildly, and then whooped. "It works! Incredible!"

Elizabeth raised both her hands. "Okay, slow down, both of you, and tell me what's going on."

"Keep an open mind," Rodney warned her, taking a deep breath to calm himself. "It's really important that you keep an open mind."

They told her what had been going on; poured it out, in fact. For a month they'd kept the theory to themselves, trying to firm up the theoretical foundation and explore the parameters of what Zelenka had wanted to call aetherical illustrations and what Rodney insisted be named ex-dimensional visualations. ("You have no poetry," Zelenka had accused. "Duh," Rodney had told him, and licked his neck, which won the argument.)

"What he's trying to say," Rodney interrupted, when Zelenka started talking about quantum indeterminacy, and Elizabeth's eyes started to glaze, "is that the theory is paradoxical. If sentient will is subject to the reality it believes in, the theory can only be true if you believe it to be true."

"We think there are three factors which contribute to the ability to interface with other dimensions or realities," Zelenka added. "Faith, intelligence, and determination."

"Except we're not going to call them that; we're going to call them certainty, cerebration, and coercivity."

"You haven't won that argument yet," Zelenka said drily.

"Yes, yes, never mind," Rodney said, and waved away Elizabeth's other questions. "Let's bring in Sheppard, and remember, we think observer certainty is also a factor, so keep in mind that you've already done it, okay? Hold on with all your might to the fact that he can do it."

"I understand," Elizabeth said, a lot of confusion in her voice, but her determination was right there as well.

They strapped the bookends onto Sheppard's hands, told him it was a really cool visualisation thing, and asked him to think about where he was in the universe.

The room vanished. For a few seconds, it was entirely black, and then Rodney saw a planet the size of a beach ball, about where the conference table had been. The conference table wasn't there any more. There was a huge sun about five hundred yards away, and it shed light on nothing but the planet, and the tennis-ball moon stationed near it. Turning around slowly, Rodney saw another planet, about a hundred yards off, with three moons, and beyond that, in all directions, stars. He spun back and examined the planet more closely-- mostly water, and a mainland shaped like... the mainland. It was their planet.

Looking down, there was nothing but blackness and distant suns, and even though the light of the Atlantean sun should have been on them, he couldn't see his hands. He wasn't visible in this... visualisation. Dimension. Whatever.

"My God," Zelenka said from somewhere to the left of him. "Je to krásné."

"Hey, this is way cool," came Sheppard's disembodied voice. "I can see a little model Atlantis! Is this real-time? I think that's where the sun is for us now."

"It's beautiful," Elizabeth whispered. "Rodney, is this--? Where are we?"

"I have no idea," Rodney admitted, stunned, and suddenly the planet was gone, and the sun, and the darkness, and they were all in the conference room once more.

Zelenka sat down heavily. "Certainty, cerebration, coercivity. Rodney, he makes the rest of us look like children."

"Shut up, shut up. Major, quickly, what did you think, right before it disappeared?"

"Uh, I was thinking that these don't feel like Ancient technology. They're not, are they?" He held up his hands with the bookends attached.

"No," Rodney said, and sat down heavily as well. He let Elizabeth explain the theory, and neither he nor Zelenka had the attention to spare for correcting the parts she got wrong. Had they been seeing something that wasn't there, or had they really been there? His feet had still been on the floor, the ambient temperature hadn't changed-- no, more likely Sheppard had somehow laid another dimension over their space-time continuum, one that only existed in the visible spectrum of light. How the hell was that possible? He looked at Zelenka, who shrugged and rubbed his chin with his thumb, eyes distant-- he was thinking about how to find out.

"Rodney?" Elizabeth saying. "Rodney!"

"Oh, right, yes, sorry. What?"

Sheppard was looking as flummoxed as he had in Antarctica, except more so.

"I said, does this prove your theory?"

"No no no no no no," Rodney told them, sighing internally at the stupendous ignorance of non-physicists. "This is just verification of some of the already-observed phenomena, it's not proof of the theory. Proving the theory itself will take ten--"

"Twenty," Zelenka said.

"--fifteen years, if we can do it at all."

"We made enormous number of assumptions about how it works, based on tiny fragments of evidence," Zelenka added. "Probably we're wrong about ninety percent of it."

"And unless you've seen a copy of 'Detecting Other Realities for Dummies' lying around in one of the labs, we don't even know how to get a single piece of hard data. And even if the Ancients have already built the kind of equipment we'd need, we wouldn't recognise it if it jumped up and down and shouted, pick me, pick me."

Elizabeth deflated a little. "So we can't charge our ZPMs with this?"

Rodney shook his head. "Think of the orange glow as a light bulb. Your sentient will--"

"Your mind."

"--something in your brain can power the lightbulb. That's not a lot of power. Something in Sheppard's brain can power, say, an Imax cinema. Charging a ZPM? I don't know for sure, but you'd probably need a mind like a naquada generator, which sadly is beyond even me. Our best hope is that there's some other Ancient technology that we can power with a naquada generator which can somehow assist somebody like Sheppard to interface with a dimension or reality from which the ZPM can draw power. That's at least a year--"

"Two years."

"--a year and a half away."

"If we can do it at all. If the ZPMs work this way, and not some way that is unrelated to this."

Sheppard looked at them. "So... that would be a no?"

"That's a maybe," Rodney said, feeling quite cheerful about the whole thing. Just one year to ZPM Day and the mother of all parties; maybe eighteen months if they ran into serious trouble. And then it was just a small step to reworking wormhole theory, and then another couple of steps to really nailing the Big Bang, and not far from there to actual, functioning time travel, and he'd be collecting grants and prizes every step of the way. And if they kept the theory secret for long enough, nobody else could overtake them.

Rodney was going to have to send the Felozians a really, really big basket of fruit.

Elizabeth slapped a Need To Know classification on their research and stressed to Sheppard that the only other person who needed to know about it was Samantha Carter, who would probably believe it.

A month later they let Miko in, because Zelenka needed somebody to do the drudge work on the experimental side. She turned out to be pretty good at ex-dimensional visualisation, and surprisingly good at computation in thin air, which Zelenka let her name. Rodney couldn't remember the name, which was Japanese for The Winds of Change or something equally stupid, but Zelenka won that argument.

"She must be incredibly high in certainty," Rodney mused. "Or else she's been hiding her real intellect. But why would she do that? It's not like I yell at people for having ideas. I only yell when their ideas are wrong."

Zelenka, head tipped back on the edge of the bath, didn't reply. He was trying to visualise the concentrations of the Wraith across the galaxy.

"If we could make Kavanagh believe it, he's so full of himself he could probably power the city shields and still have enough certainty left over to ruin every single science meeting." Zelenka wasn't rising to the bait, though, and Kavanagh was usually very good bait. "Okay, what's wrong?"

"Ah," Zelenka said, and changed the visualisation to show the stargate network again. "Nothing."

"There's no such thing as nothing," Rodney told him. "There's only zero-point energy."

Zelenka lifted his head and met his eyes. "Wrong. We just haven't found nothing yet."

"No, we keep thinking we're going to find it, and we keep being wrong. Not that I'm going to let you change the subject. You've been avoiding me."

"I've been busy. In Prague I had three assistants and seven graduate students just for particle acceleration research, and I did not have to also run a city and be at war with the Wraith and the Genii. Now I think fondly of those days, when lecturing undergraduates four hours a week was terrible burden on my time."

"This is about the other night, isn't it? Honestly, I don't care. So you were too tired to stay awake through one of my amazing blowjobs. It happens to everyone."

"It happens when honeymoon period is finished," Zelenka said glumly. "Now we don't have endorphins doing all the relationship work for us."

Rodney swam over and kissed him. "Here's a thought. How about we get the endorphins back?"

Zelenka backed away a little, hands on Rodney's shoulders.

"Maybe we shouldn't encourage it," he said. "I don't know if we have stable foundation for," he waved his hand, "you know. All we have is sex--"

"Great sex," Rodney interjected.

"--and the theory--"

"A brilliant theory."

"--and obviously being in the Stargate program--"

"Oh, and they let just anyone do that," Rodney snapped, stung. He was getting dumped already?

"--and working with the Ancient technology-- don't interrupt me! -- and thinking on the same wavelength..." he trailed off, looking depressed. "What if it isn't enough?"

"Am I allowed to talk now?" Rodney said. "Because I know it would be rude of me to interrupt your train of utter crap."

"Also, your personality leaves a lot to be desired," Zelenka snapped.

"Oh, shut up, you only pretend to be nicer than I am, and if one day you woke up and everyone understood what you say when you swear in Czech, you'd probably die in a freak transporter accident before lunchtime. Not to mention you have more in common with me than, oh, anybody else in the universe. But really, the important point is that if you stop having sex with me, I'll die. So we might as well encourage it, for the sake of Atlantis and all of humanity. If the Wraith win because I shrivelled up from sex withdrawal, your name will be cursed through the ages."

"Ah." Zelenka said. "So you want to have a relationship, then?"

"I'm sorry, should I say all that in words of one syllable? Yes. At least, insofar as somebody with as much childhood trauma as myself can have a relationship. It's still the best idea ever."

"Second best idea ever."

"What? No! What's the best idea ever supposed to be, if it's not us having sex?"

"Concocting most absurd universal theory in history was the best idea ever. Also, it was mine." Zelenka smirked. "Don't think I'll let you change that, when you make up better story about where the theory came from."

"Just because you had the idea to make up the theory doesn't mean the theory was your idea!" Rodney said. "And also, I never said I was going to make up--"

"Hah. You'll make your Nobel acceptance speech about quacking? I don't think so."

"Well," Rodney said, "be reasonable. Do you really think Einstein thought up relativity on a train? No, he was probably on a rollercoaster at EuroDisney or something."

"Chronologically impossible."

"Fine, he was playing on a slippery slide, whatever. My point is, for the good of science, we have to make up a better story than quacking. So, obviously there were kids, and I was saving the kids."

"Uh huh."

Rodney thought for a minute. Fiction really wasn't his forte. "There were a lot of kids. It was a big crisis. And I was the only one who could save them."

Zelenka raised an eyebrow. "And where was I?"

"You were, uh. Holding my feet!"

"I was holding your feet."

"Yes. As I leaned over the edge of a cliff to, um."

"Save the kids?"

Rodney threw up his hands. "Never mind, we've got years to come up with a better story. Maybe we could hire somebody. James Cameron would be good."

"I prefer Shyamalan, I think. Character-driven, more philosophical, twist at the end."

"Yeah, you would, but no. He'd leave out all the gratuitous sex."

"You want to leave the sex in?"

"Yes, of course! This is for the glory of science, isn't it? Never mind the ten years of slaving away at the proofs, the story is all about glamour, excitement and hot geek-on-geek action. Also, then the film rights would be worth a lot more."

"I suspect we're not pale, flabby scientists with poor personal grooming in this story."

"No, you're blonde and stacked. Little wire-frame glasses, sexy accent, it'll be totally hot."

"Rodney," Zelenka said, glaring. "You can spend twenty years with blue balls as you prove the theory, or you can shut up now."

"Shutting up," Rodney said quickly.

"It's good we understand each other," Zelenka said.

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