To Rodney's everlasting annoyance, ever since their little adventure with "Sam" and his million cousins, Sheppard had found something new to torment him with: whales. At least it meant he'd left off with the lemons ... for the time being, anyhow.
For two and a half years, ever since Rodney had stupidly mentioned a certain life-threatening citrus allergy in the hearing of a certain brain-dead pilot, Sheppard had taken every conceivable opportunity to assault him with lemon-themed items. Prior to the reestablishment of contact with Earth, the "gifts" (if you could call them that) had been infrequent and required a certain amount of creativity on the part of said pilot. Since the Daedalus had been making regular supply runs, though, nearly every trip brought something new: a lemon-shaped desk lamp, lemon-slice refrigerator magnets, T-shirts bearing pithy (ha ha) lemon-related sayings, a pair of lemon-themed boxers that had gained a certain amount of infamy around Atlantis.
Rodney suspected that in a way, he'd brought it on himself, because of his reaction the very first time he'd pulled back the sheets on his bed and found a lemon lying there. He had screamed (in a manly way of course, not "like a girl" as Sheppard insisted) and radioed with appropriate desperation for the nearest Marine to come and remove it. Of course, the person who'd showed up had been Sheppard -- he'd been waiting outside in the corridor for Rodney's reaction, and from the jaw-cracking grin on his face, he'd gotten exactly the results that he'd hoped for. The "lemon" was actually from a fake fruit bowl that one of the botanists had, inexplicably, brought along as her one personal item, but the damage was done. Rodney could be as stone-faced as he liked after that; he could learn to tolerate the regular appearance of new and unusual lemon-shaped objects with what he thought was remarkable forbearance; but Sheppard was nothing if not persistent, and he clearly had no intention of giving up until he got another, equally satisfying reaction.
Sheppard was also as predictable as he was persistent, so Rodney wasn't too surprised when he was soon able to add to his lemon collection a whale-shaped clock, a "365 Days of Whales" desk calendar and a set of little plastic wind-up whales that paddled around in a fishbowl on his desk. The latter were actually sort of cool, not that he'd ever encourage Sheppard by admitting that. There were three of them. He named them Sam, Carter, and Colonel Asshat.
He'd figured that if he bided his time long enough, an opportunity for revenge would come along. And, at long last, fate had smiled on him.
"I can't believe you're allergic to seafood."
Sheppard cracked an eye open, at least as far as it would go, to glare miserably at him. "I am not. I've been eating seafood ever since I was a little kid. It's those stupid Pegasus Galaxy crab-things."
"Which you and the rest of Team Moron decided to spear and eat."
Sheppard had taken Ronon and Teyla spear-fishing on the mainland. This had been cut short by a hasty trip back to Atlantis when Sheppard had developed what Beckett described as the worst case of hives he'd ever seen.
"The biology lab said they're perfectly safe."
"For everyone but you, apparently," Rodney smirked.
Sheppard glowered at him. "Hey, didn't I tell you to leave?"
"Yes, but then you came back."
"Just wanted to find something," Rodney said innocently, his hands clasped behind his back.
Sheppard closed his eyes with a sigh, and fidgeted in his infirmary bed, trying desperately (and fruitlessly) to find a position that didn't itch. "You sound a little too happy about all of this."
"I'm just reveling in the fact that you're allergic to something I'm not. Also, I brought you a present."
Wary green eyes peeked open and then rolled up in exasperation as Rodney proudly unveiled a stuffed and mounted crab, which he placed carefully on Sheppard's bedside table. Aside from being about two pounds, instead of closer to 200, it was identical to the ones that Sheppard's team had been catching on the mainland beaches.
"You couldn't possibly have had time to catch that thing and find a taxidermist in the ten minutes you were gone." Sheppard glared at him suspiciously. "Rodney, so help me, if you caused this somehow --"
"Oh, don't give me that look. Not that it wouldn't have been tempting, if I'd been able to think of a way, after all the years you've given me grief for --"
"Okay, fine, fine, I remembered seeing one in the marine biology lab's collection of specimens, and I told them I needed it for vital scientific purposes."
"Vital scientific purposes," Sheppard repeated. "Namely tormenting me?"
Rodney rocked back on his heels, about to explode from sheer smugness. "Yes."
"I'm going to remember this," Sheppard promised. He leaned out of bed, reaching for an IV stand, and used this to shove the crab as far away from him as it would go without falling off the bedside table.
"I'd love to stay and trade threats with you, Colonel, but the Daedalus is leaving in the morning and I have a science lab to scour for catalogs carrying seafood-related merchandise. 'Scuze me."
"I'd be careful if I were you," Sheppard called after him. "Sources tell me that Wal-Mart just recently had a sale on whale-themed beachwear."
Rodney froze. "Sources tell you -- oh my God! You've been having Jeannie shop for whale stuff, haven't you?"
"I plead the fifth."
"We're on an international expedition in another galaxy; there is no fifth amendment here. And you have absolutely no shame."
"There are whale-print beach towels in your future, Rodney."
"Oh, is that right? Well, I believe that every piece of crab-shaped memorabilia in the greater Toronto area is headed your way, Colonel."
Carson leaned out of his office to call across the infirmary, "It's midnight and visiting hours are over, Rodney!"
"We don't have visiting hours," the physicist shot back.
"Excuse me? I'm bloody well in charge around here and I'm telling you to leave and stop bothering the patients."
"Patient," Rodney corrected primly. Sheppard was the only person in the infirmary.
"Yes, yes, I was just leaving anyway." On his way out the door, Rodney spun around to fire a final shot across Sheppard's bow: "Crabs, Colonel! Lots of crabs!" Then he was gone.
Carson stared after him, then made his way across the infirmary to the bed where Sheppard had closed his eyes and appeared to be attempting to feign sleep. "I can call Ronon to stand guard if you want to get some -- Bloody hell, what's that?"
Sheppard opened his eyes at half-mast. "Present from Rodney."
"Ah." Carson tapped the crab's shell with a fingertip. "Well, it's shellacked, so it doesn't pose even a potential hazard to you. Besides, you don't appear to react to handling them, just eating them. I could throw it away if it's bothering you, though."
"No, don't bother. He'll just come up with something worse. Speaking of which ..." Sheppard blinked up at him with innocent puppy-dog eyes.
"Yes, Colonel," Carson sighed. "My mother and my sisters are scouring every flea market and rummage sale in Edinburgh for anything having to do with whales or lemons. Apparently Mum's found an absolutely hideous set of lemon-shaped sugar bowls in the attic, as well."
"Excellent." Sheppard's hands twitched as if he wanted to rub them together, if they hadn't been a mass of red welts. "And I think I may have gotten Rodney to call Jeannie, as an added bonus."
"You're a sneaky bugger, aren't you?"
"The sneakiest, Carson, the sneakiest."