Title: Aliens Made Them Eat It
Disclaimer: Not mine. Just borrowed. I promise to return them the way I found them.
Notes: For the sga_flashfic "Food and Buildings" challenge.
It was, perhaps, a measure of how long John had been in the Pegasus galaxy that he was finding the situation on P3E-2JJ par for the course. Or, more specifically, par for the sixth course, with no signs yet of the after-dinner mint.
"If they bring out eyeball soup," Rodney muttered to John, as he poked desultorily at a serve of fried beetles, "I'm going to cause a diplomatic incident all over someone's shoes."
In response, John casually popped a candied worm into his own mouth and crunched down on it loudly. "Mmmmm," he said, nodding and smiling at the Sheeftan and the other villagers. He swallowed, patted his stomach and pronounced, "Just like toffee apples back home."
"I hate you," Rodney whispered. "I can't believe you're actually eating this stuff!"
John leaned over and murmured in Rodney's ear, while pointing at dish of what looked like testicles in some kind of jelly: "You'd rather be experiencing the fifteenth course with an apple between your teeth and a spring of parsley between your toes?"
Pointedly not looking at the jellied testicles, Rodney replied, "There are an infinite number of things I'd rather experience than being the day's special for cannibals, and yet, strangely, not a single thing about this situation makes it onto that list!"
They broke apart as a serving girl placed another plate on the table between them. It looked like a hank of hair floating in some kind of milky, slightly pearlescent liquid.
"Best meal I've had in ages," John said loudly to the room at large, and carefully reached over the plate of hair soup to take one of the slugs in chocolate-chili sauce. This would be his third; they were growing on him.
"I can't believe you tried to convince me that was chocolate," Rodney said.
John paused with his spoon a quarter-inch from his mouth, and replied, "I can't believe you don't trust me," and then slid it in, porn-style, making, "Mmmm," and "God, yeah," sounds as he licked it clean, making sure to take as long as possible and get every last drop of the chocolate, that, yeah, was really starting to grow on him despite the squish factor of the slugs.
"It's not a matter of trust," said Rodney, his gaze riveted to John's spoon, "it's a matter of not being a complete idiot."
John gave the spoon a final, lascivious lick and the noise level in the room rose markedly, as the villagers happily described the look on John's face and the noises he'd made to each other, several times over, recapping the good bits with spoonfuls of their own chocolate slugs.
Taking advantage of the increased background noise, John said, "If you don't eat something, Rodney, I swear to God there's going to be a diplomatic incident when I disembowel you with this spoon!"
"You know," Rodney said, "I'm really not seeing the down-side of that scenario." He flicked a beetle towards himself, caught it as it went over the edge of the table and tucked it into a pocket of his flack jacket, then pretended to be chewing, saying around a fake bulge in his cheek, "I can't believe not a single one of these dishes has citrus in it!"
"Neither can I," said John, grimly.
"Hey!" Rodney protested, but it was half-hearted, most of his attention focused on trying to hide another beetle beneath the generous garnish of crispy-fried thistles. He poked the beetle a bit further into the mass of stems, and with loud snap, a swathe of thistles broke away leaving the beetle high and dry on the side of the plate.
Eyes wide, Rodney furtively looked around to see if anyone had noticed.
From the other side of the immense table, the Sheeftan smiled at Rodney. She pointedly picked up a beetle from the platter in front of her and bit into it with an encouraging crunch.
John couldn't help but admire her beautifully sharpened teeth. The metal-tipped points were so elegant and evenly spaced. He sighed. Clearly, he was going to have take one--another one--for the team.
He reached over, picked a beetle up off Rodney's plate, gave it a considering look, and then sucked it into his mouth, head first, as though it were a piece of high-grade chocolate.
The villagers all leaned forward in breathy anticipation.
John chewed thoughtfully, moving the beetle from one cheek to the other. It tasted quite a lot like really, really crunchy cardboard. With added glass shards as a nice textural variation. He tilted his head at what he hoped was a rakish angle and chewed the damn bug some more. He was sure it had only had the usual six appendages when he'd picked it up, but now it seemed to have an awful lot more pointy bits than appendages alone could account for. He chewed on doggedly.
Rodney was staring at John's mouth, face pale and starting to look a little green at the edges.
"Oh, God," said Rodney, faintly. "You have a..." and he wiped at the side of his own mouth with a trembling hand. "I think it's a feeler."
Grateful that the table was solid wood and offered some cover for his actions, John kicked Rodney as hard as he could. Then, playing to the eagerly waiting crowd, he did his now-infamous finger-lick move at the side of his mouth.
A breathy "Oh" echoed around the eating chamber, which mostly covered up Rodney's, "Ow."
John continued to chew. He was discovering a newfound sympathy for cows.
"Please," said Rodney, his knuckles white on his napkin, "Please swallow now. I can't take it anymore."
John swallowed. It felt kind of like swallowing sandpaper. Once he was sure the beetle wasn't going to make a sudden reappearance, he looked around at all the expectant faces. "Crunchiest thing I've ever eaten!" he said, brightly. "Any chance I can have the recipe?"
The villagers made a sound like a collective orgasm, and then started popping beetles into their mouths and chewing them and licking their fingers in a disturbingly accurate imitation of John's food-porn moves.
"This is so wrong," Rodney said, his head thunking against the table hard enough to send a mini-tsunami of fried insects and thistle stems over the edge of his plate. "I'll never be able to enjoy a blow-job again without thinking of you eating a fucking beetle."
"There's a flaw in your argument," John replied, as he toyed with a piece of dried something-with-an-eyestalk. At least it didn't have any pointy appendages.
"Oh, please! I don't think so!" Rodney said, lifting his head. "I'm permanently scarred, it's not even an argument, it's a fact--"
"Blow-jobs," John said, using his best I'm-a-military-hardass-and-don't-even-th
Rodney's jaw dropped open and a look of deep apprehension edged onto his face.
"And my mouth," John continued, "is very, very tired now."
Rodney's voice rose higher and higher as he said, "You can't seriously be breaking up with me because I didn't eat the goddamn--" only to break off abruptly as the door crashed open and the marines finally, finally stormed into the hall to liberate them.
John gingerly replaced the dried-eyestalk-thing and wiped his hands very carefully on his napkin. "You, on the other hand," John pointed out, as the Sheeftan began the inevitable, it's-all-a-big-misunderstanding speech, "look kind of hungry. Not having eaten anything at all."
"I'm not!" Rodney said. "Believe me. I may never be hungry agai--" He blinked and did a double take. "Oh!"
Rodney flung his napkin onto his plate and stood, letting his chair fall back onto the floor with a loud clang. The look he gave John was, indeed, full of hunger. "It's bad for me to be hungry. I get hypoglycaemic, you know."
"I know," John said, getting up from the table without any added drama. "It would be very unprofessional for me to let that happen. In fact, we should go and fix it right now."
Rodney grinned for the first time since they'd been led into the eating chamber and spun on his heels, heading for the door at a fast clip.
John let him get a head start, an evil smile flickering across his lips.
There was a reckoning to be paid here, and a blow-job, no matter how spectacular, was not going to cut it. Yes, John was prepared to take one for his team. That was his job. But he was pretty damn sure that eating worms while his team-mate wussed out hadn't been in the How-To-Be-An-Effective-Team-Leader brochure. It's not the kind of thing he would have missed. So, clearly, steps would have to be taken if he was to maintain effective discipline and create the right kind of esprit de corps within his team.
With the speed of a striking snake, John's napkin-covered hand flashed out and swiped a beetle, dunked it in the chili-chocolate, and tucked the bundle carefully into his pocket. It wasn't exactly an after-dinner mint, but then he wasn't exactly planning to let Rodney eat it.
"Good job!" John said, as Stackhouse gave him a look of mingled awe and horror--the stories of his food-porn prowess were obviously already starting to spread. He winked at the serving girl gazing at him with big, adoring eyes, and waved to Stackhouse to carry on in his attempt to usher her into the temporary corral in the corner of the hall. And then, with a jaunty spring to his step, John headed out after McKay's rapidly retreating back.