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The inside of McKay's brain was worse than TV news. Worse than TV news in wartime when there was a big snowstorm and a crawler for a stock-market crash. If there was always this much going on in here -- and John was sure there was -- then it was a wonder the guy's temper wasn't even worse than it was.
John had no idea why the Ancients had had a device to let you into someone else's mind, and how didn't even bear thinking about, but here they were. And Ancient devices were usually pretty cooperative about letting you tone the interface down to something your brain could cope with. He concentrated a little, and after a bit the threads of sensation somehow separated so he could deal with them one by one.
Right away he tossed out a typical hypochondriac's minute-by-minute monitoring of a headache, a sour stomach, and a stiff pectoral muscle, with comparisons to the symptoms of a brain tumor, stomach cancer, and heart attack. Next was a set of predictions for the city's critical statistics -- power usage, shield efficiency, desalination -- all amazingly detailed, all pretty accurate as far as John could tell. Annoying flickering lights in various places turned out to be records of the shortcomings of almost everyone and everything that McKay had regular contact with; John dismissed them all at once, fighting the temptation to look for his own.
McKay's mental to-do list was a nightmare, every item on it code red and screaming. Every time John dismissed it, it popped up again two seconds later with some new reshuffling of the AAA and AAAA priorities, but he finally managed to shrink it down and background it.
Now there was new input: a big thrum of menacing music and large-font panic. How the hell did I get in Sheppard's head, and how the hell do I get out, and, oh, shit, if I'm in his head then he's probably in mine too, and --
"Relax, McKay," John said. Jesus, his voice was deeper and less nasal than that in real life, surely. "I'm not going to go rifle through your underwear drawer."
Right on cue, McKay's dresser appeared in the middle of the floor, with the top drawer shoved imperfectly shut over a pair of plaid boxers. John snickered.
Now that everything was calmed down a little, John could actually hear sounds coming from -- as soon as he paid attention, his mind defined them as rooms with open doors. When he approached one of them, he realized that the roar he heard was applause. Shaking his head, he moved on to the next one, and then stopped short to hear heavy breathing and the occasional "Ah --"
John grinned. Sounded like there was one part of McKay's brain that wasn't being used for brainy pursuits.
The Ancient interface apparently took his amusement as interest. Well, who was he kidding? He was interested. At any rate, one minute he was listening to the soundtrack, and the next minute he was up close and personal with the movie: the back of McKay's head, and, jesus, his bare shoulders. McKay, naked and a little closer than John had ever expected to see him, and it was very difficult to keep any ironic distance when that was McKay's forearm braced on the bed, shiny with sweat and flexing a little, and if he looked off to the right a little --
He didn't look.
He didn't look at anything, but it came to him, anyway, in three flashes of shock like lightning:
-- the body beneath him was face-down --
-- the body beneath him was male --
-- the body beneath him, groaning, god, Rodney, yeah, yeah, was John's.
McKay knew exactly what he was doing. He wasn't just hammering in there. He was good, moving smooth and slow with a little pause at the deepest point, god, not just like somebody who'd done this before, but like somebody who'd done this before to John. And McKay's neck was bent forward, his whole body curled tenderly, protectively around John, and he was murmuring something too low to hear in a gritty, breathless voice, something soft and amazed and --
Out out out! John thought, panicked, and the Ancient interface obeyed him. He was standing in the reddish light of the unknown room, sweaty hands clenched, hard, almost panting. And beside him was McKay, was Rodney, breathing audibly himself, tense enough that he was actually shaking a little.
John wondered what interesting thing Rodney had found in his head. And then he started to grin.
They had one hell of an interesting conversation ahead of them.
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Back to in medias Res
January 20, 2006