"I believe it says 'The Meaning of Life'," Teyla translated, tracing a fingertip lightly across the carved script in the obelisk.
"Is anyone surprised that the meaning of life is large and phallic?" Rodney asked, his blasé tone suggesting that the universe and its makers were sadly predictable.
Teyla gave Rondey a sly and attractive smile that he returned as if they shared an understanding. John wondered what that was about.
"I don't think it's that phallic," he said, half to himself, staring up at the knobbed top with a critical eye. He had to crane his neck a bit.
"Oh please, Colonel. It's a priapic idolization of every man's inflated image of himself."
John took that remark rather personally, and coming from the mouth of Rodney--the god-king of self-inflation--it teetered on the edge of ludicrous and then tipped over. "You have noticed that you're a man, right? I mean...more or less."
"Which is why I can speak with authority, and excuse me? I'm just as much a man as you." His chin jutted to a pique. "In fact, more so."
"Whoa. Let's not overstate things, tiger." He gave Rodney a look, more amused than insulted. "How do you figure that?"
"You need a gun to supplement your masculinity. I, on the other hand, need nothing but my own strapping self."
Teyla ducked her head, discreetly hiding whatever expression she wore at that moment. Ronon just stared at them as if they were both nuts, and uninteresting nuts at that.
"Strapping," John repeated with a skeptical once-over. "If you want to call it that."
Rodney's mouth tightened a tiny bit. "Are you implying that I'm," he paused to make the judicious word choice, "husky?"
"Now did I say that?" John smirked, and then figured that since they were on an alien planet, they should maybe do some work. He reached out and poked the big tall pointy thing.
"Stop that!" Rodney elbowed him aside.
"You touched the phallus," Ronon said in the blandest of tones, but John could hear the unspoken heh-heh-heh in that deep voice, and threw a suspicious look his way.
"Perhaps it will bring the Colonel health and fertility," Teyla said, tipping her head at John in a gesture that was graceful, benevolent, and yet still somehow mocking. He was pretty sure of that.
"Oh, I see," he said, feigning a huff better suited to Rodney, though a milder brand. "It's razz the boss day."
"We mock because we love," Ronon said.
John narrowed his eyes, feeling pained. "I've got to get you away from the Geek Squad," he said, shaking his head with exaggerated disappointment and betrayal. "They're teaching you all the wrong things."
"Hey." Rodney shot him a brief, offended glare before refocusing on his scanner and doing whatever he did when the rest of them stood around. "Ronon shows excellent judgment in his choice of company."
Ronon gave this a faint nod of acknowledgment. "They play better poker," he said to John. "Have better food. More videos."
"Better poker? Okay, that is just--"
"Huh," Rodney said, the word cutting off John's remark and bringing his head around in a snap.
"What did you do?"
"Why do you always assume I did something? Never mind. I'm getting a sudden power reading."
"Of course you are," John said under his breath, raising his gun a notch and looking around with new caution. Teyla and Ronon shifted their stances, scanning the forest and listening for anything out of the ordinary.
"It's, hmm," Rodney turned in place, "it's moving. It seems to be--" His head lifted, eyes widening. "Circling."
"Move!" John said, shoving Rodney toward the gap in the foliage they'd come through. A nice thought. He gave himself a ten for reflexes. Unfortunately, the beam of warm light got them first and everything went mellow.
When he woke he was sitting in some kind of lounge chair watching a big-screen TV. The chair felt like buttered leather. Also he was very naked. He turned his head and saw Rodney sitting next to him, equally naked. His chair was furry, but they weren't chairs, John saw now. More like giant, incredibly comfortable nests.
"Hey," he croaked at Rodney and tried to sit up. "Wooo, yeah." His head whirled like a balloon caught on a ribbon. "Everybody must get stoned."
"What?" Rodney sat up immediately, and just as immediately flailed and fell back. The nests weren't made for sudden decisive movements. John laughed at him before he even realized he was doing it. Rodney, hair tufted, eyes startled, gaped at John from his nest like a baby bird waiting to be fed. "Where are we?"
"Dunno yet. Looks like the movie theater of the gods."
Rodney blinked and adjusted his field of vision. "Movie hasn't started yet."
"Did you get popcorn? I didn't get popcorn." John swam around in his chair until his chin was resting on the edge closest to Rodney's, arms draped loosely over the side.
"Are you okay, Colonel? You seem more Southern California than usual."
"Yeah, you know." John waved a hand in a sort-of answer, then reconsidered the question. "Actually I've been better." He hauled himself up to the edge, judged the distance to the other chair, then leapt while Rodney was still starting to say, "I'm not sure you should--" His remark ended in "Oof!"
"Hi," John said, from an intimate height above Rodney which was no height at all. He'd dropped on top of Rodney like a pancake finding its mate. John levered himself up hastily by his arms to avoid kissing but the simple force of gravity kept the rest of him smushed close.
"Hello." Rodney displayed an uncharacteristic aplomb, John thought. "Get off me!" And then not so much.
John rolled off and tried not to be distracted by the sensation of fur across his naked backside. That was a difficult one.
"You know," Rodney griped, "if there wasn't a universe of possibly infinite darkness surrounding us right now, I would totally shove you off this chair."
"Now that's harsh."
"You had your own!"
There was only one answer for that. "Yours is furry."
Thankfully the movie started before Rodney could zing him. John squirmed for a better view, getting jabbed several times by Rodney's aggressive elbow during the process. As the screen began to twinkle, a cloudburst of popcorn rained on them from above.
"Not funny!" Rodney shouted up into the darkness, then smacked John on the head. "Don't ask for soda!" But John noticed that he popped a kernel in his mouth without hesitation and chewed. "No butter."
As Rodney scooped up handfuls of popcorn from the chair and shoved them in, munching hungrily, John tossed his own kernels up one at a time and caught them with deft maneuvers of his head. The screen flickered more noticeably, regaining his attention.
"What's playing?" he called out to the darkness.
The screen filled with the words, in perfectly clear English: THE MEANING OF LIFE.
"I saw that coming," Rodney said.
"I've always liked Python."
"Oh, if only."
What appeared to be a large white egg appeared in the center of the screen, and a background of stars began flowing out from it. John expected Pink Floyd to start at any moment. He suspected the place had a kick-ass sound system.
When after a minute or so the egg just sat there pulsing and the stars kept flowing, John started to feel unpleasantly reminded of certain college film experiences that a Theater Arts girlfriend had dragged him to.
"I'm not sure where they're going with this," Rodney said. He was raising a piece of popcorn slowly to his mouth and looked mesmerized.
"Yeah." John frowned and turned his head on the fur, bringing it into close alignment with Rodney's. "Maybe we should just make out."
And so they did. The end.