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Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right

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John glared at the cast on his left leg. "How long do I have to wear this thing?"

Without taking his eyes off his paperwork, Carson said, "If you're good, four weeks."

Rodney snorted. "So how long is he actually going to be wearing it?"

"Six weeks," Carson answered immediately.

John snarled, "I hate you both."

"Well, lad, until that comes off your leg, you'll be grounded."

"Could you repeat that?" John asked. "I'm afraid my hearing must be going."

"No off-world trips for you. No flying about in jumpers. You, dear Colonel, are confined to the city."

"We're all going to die," Rodney proclaimed.


Week One

John spotted Radek Zelenka, and lurched over slowly. He was still getting a handle on the crutches, and tended to move carefully in order to not topple over.

"What can I do for you, Colonel?" Zelenka asked when John reached him.

"People are placing bets on how long I'll be in this thing, right?" John asked, nodding at his cast.

"I have no idea what you are talking about," the Czech answered straight-faced, ignoring someone placing a rolled up twenty-dollar bill in his hand as they walked by.


Week Two

John stared at the screen in confusion. He'd woken in the south lounge—the one where the scientists had set up a "television" showing the video collections brought by everyone to the Pegasus Galaxy—alone. Did he hit his head? He couldn't understand anything he was watching.

He squinted at the screen, trying to parse out the conversation. He was having no luck, when Teyla came in and sat beside him. He was half-afraid that if she began talking, he wouldn't be able to understand her, either.

Luckily, that wasn't the case. "What is the matter, John?"

He pointed at the TV. "Have I been drinking?"

"No, John, you're watching a show in Portuguese. When I came by earlier to check on you, you were asleep and Dr. Esposito was watching something. Apparently, she forgot to shut it off when she left."

If John focused, he could hear beats of a familiar language, though he still had no idea what was being said. "Oh, thank God."

Teyla smiled and shook her head. She got up to change the show to one of her favorites—M*A*S*H, of all things—then returned to the couch to sit beside John.

After watching for a few minutes, John commented, "Being grounded is driving me bonkers. I'm getting to the point where I'd welcome being a witness to a murder."

At Teyla's shocked expression, he realized his mistake.

"Rear Window," he clarified.

Her expression didn't waver.

"It's a movie...."

Teyla sniffed. "I'm sure it is, John."

John sure hoped someone in Atlantis had a copy of Rear Window or access to the summary on Wikipedia. Otherwise, Teyla was probably going to assume he was a secret psychopath.


Week Three

John was reduced to begging Elizabeth to just let him take a quick flight around Atlantis in Jumper One. "I'll even take Lorne along as co-pilot," he offered.

"Absolutely not," she stated firmly. "Even if Carson hadn't already placed you on restricted duty, it's against regulations. You can't fly with a broken leg."

"But I'm just sitting there," John argued. "It's not as though there are foot pedals or anything."

"The answer is no, John. You're just going to have to wait it out. The next few weeks will fly by, I'm sure." Elizabeth really was terrible at being reassuring. "You know," she said, "you could always use the downtime to catch up on the paperwork you've managed to 'forget' or avoid."

John surrendered. "You're probably right," he said. "I should do some paperwork." He missed her suspicious look at his easy capitulation.


Elizabeth called up to the balcony overlooking the gate room. "Colonel, Chuck has said if you don't stop dive-bombing him with paper airplanes he's going to revolt."

"But I'm so close to making it through the gate!" Honestly, it was her own fault for suggesting it.


Week Four

John flipped over a playing card. He barely noticed when Ronon pulled out a chair and sat across the table from him.

"I thought you were going to meet me for lunch," Ronon said.

"Hmmm?" John asked as he flipped over another card. Dammit! "Yeah, I am."

"You're late."

"Huh?" John stopped playing and checked his watch. Oh, he was very late. "I just want to win a game," he said as he collected the cards and shuffled. Dealing the cards into piles, he aggressively flipped them over.

"You've been at this for hours."

"I know that, Ronon," John said through gritted teeth. "I'm going to keep at it until I win a game. Even if it kills me."

"Death by cards," Ronon murmured. "Not very impressive."

"Would you like to test it out?" John shot back.

"Nah. Thanks, though." Ronon had never met sarcasm he couldn't ignore. "So can I play?"

"It's Solitaire, Ronon. It means you play it alone."

"Why does McKay get a card, then?" Ronon asked, pouting.

"Wait, what?" John looked over and saw Rodney absently flipping a card in one hand while holding a book in his other. "Rodney!" John yelled across the room, startling him.

"What has got your knickers in a twist, Colonel?" Rodney snapped.

"Why do you have one of my cards?"

Rodney looked at his hand as if surprised it was there. "I grabbed it for a bookmark," he said matter-of-factly. As if just noticing what John was doing, he asked, "Oh, do you need it back?"

"Do I...?" John growled. He snatched his crutches and struggled to shove them under his arms.

Ronon chuckled. "You should run, McKay."

And Rodney, proving he was every bit as smart as he claimed, did exactly that.


Week Five

"I can't believe Ronon would betray me like this," John said. "I thought for sure he'd be up for cutting this thing off." He rapped his knuckles against his cast.

Rodney sighed. "Firstly, Carson figured you'd try something like that. He'd already promised Ronon some of his mother's haggis next time he visited Earth if he turned Benedict Arnold."

"That sneaky Scotsman." John cursed Beckett's entire lineage.

"Though," Rodney continued, "it was probably mostly because you had Ronon carry you piggyback around the city."

"Hey, he asked if there was anything he could do for me," John defended. "I was just taking him up on it."


Week Six

"Surprise!" The chorus of voices nearly overwhelmed John as he walked—walked on his two good legs!—into the mess hall.

"What is this?" John asked.

The tables had been moved so they encircled the room. They were loaded down with all sorts of drinks, among them Athosian "brandy" as well as the swill from Zelenka's still. Other tables had food of every type: alien and Earth-based. Paper snowflakes, like John used to make in grade school, and streamers made of toilet paper—no longer worth its weight in gold since they had regular supply runs from the Daedalus—hung from every surface.

"It's a party to celebrate your release from the cast, and their release from your constant presence," Rodney explained, waving his hands to encompass the off-duty inhabitants of Atlantis.

John rolled his eyes. "Seriously, this can't all be for me."

Rodney shrugged. "I'd say it's about thirty percent you, the rest because it was a good excuse for a party."

John thought for a second, then nodded. "I'll take that."

Someone had cobbled together a sound system, and music played through the speakers lining the walls. A few brave souls started dancing in the open area in front of them. Teyla came over to shame John into dancing.

John valiantly begged off, claiming to have two left feet, but was hustled to the floor anyway. He proved his assertion a few minutes later when he tripped over said left feet and slammed into the ground with surprising violence.

"Ow, my wrist!"