Title: A McKay Carol
Rating: PG, Gen. I know. What the hell?
Notes: So I don't imagine this is actually what would happen... or maybe it is, since I've seen it. But consider about 80% of this reactionary. Thanks to cedara for a very quick run through. Less beta'd than normal, so beware.
Length: Approx 1700 words.
Summary: John swallows hard, thinking something is definitely wrong, because Rodney doesn't have a third pudding cup to fall back on.
Rodney sighs, loudly and obnoxiously. "Fine, whatever, I'll see if there's a way to rig it up, okay?" He goes back to poking listlessly at his computer.
Elizabeth and John share a look -- possibly the rest of the room too.
"Rodney," Elizabeth says, leaning forward and looking genuinely concerned. "Aren't you even a little excited?"
"Frankly?" Rodney snorts. "No."
John watches Rodney's eyes dart up and take an exasperated look around the room. "Well Scrooge, you better not ruin it for the rest of us."
Rodney inexplicably snorts again at the name, but he just shrugs. "Sure, fine. Anything else? Should I get Zelenka started on stringing together some useless Ancient technology together to make makeshift Christmas lights?"
Elizabeth's eyes widen but she nods slightly. "Something like that would be greatly appreciated."
"I'm sure he'll be delighted." Rodney says, poking in more concentrated bursts at his computer.
The meeting continues and Rodney nods in all the right places and remains utterly unenthusiastic with each passing suggestion.
"Okay gentlemen," Elizabeth says to the room at large, "you've all got your assignments, I think we all deserve a little celebration, don't you?"
The room agrees with a quiet murmur and Rodney rolls his eyes.
At lunch John spies Rodney sharing a meal with Miko, they're talking quietly, which is unusual in and of itself, but then Rodney frowns, sighs, his shoulders slumping deeply and pushes his pudding cup over to her.
Her eyes open, large and brown and he mouth flaps a bit until Rodney snaps something mulishly, but too quiet for John to pick up. Miko apparently heard it because she sort of smiles and pulls the pudding cup closer.
Another scientist sits down with them, olive skinned and sleek, he too leans in and starts speaking in frantic whispers. Rodney just nods and pushes his *other* pudding cup over.
John swallows hard, thinking something is definitely wrong, because Rodney doesn't have a third pudding cup to fall back on.
Later, John wanders into the labs where it takes Rodney his usual several minutes to notice his presence. Several of the other scientists are stringing bits of odd looking tinsel in unobtrusive places. There's a directive on the community white board that reads 'I will not weep if your holiday cheer gets you killed.' It's a fair warning, John supposes they do a lot of research involving dangerous things that would get their grants taken away back on earth.
Someone whom John does not immediately recognize offers Rodney a small portion. Rodney gives it a critical eye and bland "You're new here aren't you?" and then goes back to what he's doing.
"Bah humbug to you too," John says as he moves to stand next to Rodney.
"Oh yes, I'm just the king of scrooges aren't I?" Rodney answers. "I'm letting them clutter the lab up with that stuff aren't I?"
"Yes Rodney, you're so magnanimous." John snags a few bits from the small pile nearby and attaches some artfully to the edges of Rodney's current working environment.
Rodney looks up only with his eyes, spying John's handiwork. "I really am." He nods to someone behind John. It's Miko, who politely pushes her way in and starts taking away each and every bit of fake tinsel.
"I cannot believe you're using her as your own personal holiday vacuum cleaner." John says in awe and some bit of annoyance as the last bit of his work is whisked away by small but quick working fingers.
The three of them look up to see Teyla walking in carry a medium sized jug.
"Teyla," Rodney smiles. Actually smiles like he hasn't just eaten something sour but for once isn't trying to insult his host. "You got it?"
John swipes the clay jar, looking at it curiously, it's got a wide base and a thin neck. Something cork and wax like seals the top and it's heavy with some sloshing liquid. "A little Christmas gift to yourself?" He needles.
Rodney frowns, grabs the bottle swiftly and shoves it into a nearby drawer that he immediately locks in some complex manner or another. "Yes, I plan on getting stone cold drunk on Christmas Eve. Who says all the traditions are bad ones?"
"Halling" Teyla says eyeing them both, "says he greatly appreciates the new kiln and this was the least he could offer, the bottle is from the first batch."
"Ha!" John bounces on his feet. "Not so much the grinch after all!"
Rodney rolls his eyes.
The search for the perfect tree is actually easier than John expects. Right there on the mainland is something perfect, not too big, not too small, with sturdy branches. He takes three marines out and cut it down and halls I back.
It gets a prominent place in the mess hall. The decoration party is scheduled for later that evening and John's seem some impressively creative things all around Atlantis. It should be a lot of fun.
Rodney of course, doesn't show.
John, being the good hearted guy that he is takes a run down to the lab. There are several people milling about. Rodney, Miko, that olive skinned one from days earlier -- Spiegel --John had looked up, Cooperman and someone with a Daedelus patch whose name John can't place.
"You guys coming or what?" John asks casually, it shouldn't be an order.
"In a few minutes Colonel," Rodney says distractedly, "tree trimming is at least something I can get behind."
"Finally getting into the spirit of things?" John grins.
"Not really no." Rodney says nodding to the rest of the group and then dismissing them. "Tree trimming is just fun and I don't get to do it that often."
John gives him an unbelieving look. "Let me guess, your parents didn't think it was safe or something equally silly."
"Yeah, that's right, silly." Rodney says quietly.
"Hey," John stops him and pulls their stride over to the side. "Are you hiding some long ago Christmas Trauma? Because that's okay I can get that."
Rodney rolls his eyes hard enough that John's impressed that don't roll out. "You are a very sad man who has watched one too many holiday specials."
Christmas eve dawns with a clear sky and surprisingly crisp air, apparently this rotation Atlantis's seasons are remotely similar to Earth's. It adds a charming feel to the whole event.
John catches Spiegel sneaking a frying pan out of the kitchen and is beyond curious at the series of handoffs it takes, from Miko to that Daedelus crew member who stayed through the next visit -- Franks John had looked up -- and finally to Rodney.
He lets it slide though, maybe Rodney just has his own way of spreading the cheer. It's obvious they've been working together for some time now and hey, if that doesn't in some way help epitomize the season, he doesn't know what.
Dinner is lush with treats from earth. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, side dishes that John hasn't seen or eaten in years in some cases. The desserts are mouth watering and he reminds himself that dessert is always a good reason to skip that second helping of turkey.
Somewhere around his second slice of pie, he realizes that Rodney isn't there.
John finds Rodney sitting in his lab, the remnants of some food off to the side. "You're really taking this to an extreme, don't you think?"
"Not really, no." Rodney says, closing his laptop. "I'm just... not in the mood."
"How can you not be in the mood?" John asks. "This time of year doesn't spark *something * in you?"
Rodney sighs, letting his head hang down. "My mom was Jewish and my dad... was not."
"Oh." John ducks his head, playing with a spare bit of tinsel nearby.
"You have our records," Rodney says.
Rodney makes an encompassing gesture. "All of ours."
"You couldn't say something?" John asks carefully.
"And watch the latkes be put out next to the Christmas ham?" Rodney points to the half eaten golden brown circle on his plate. "The cognitive dissonance would have been heart stopping."
"Turkey," John corrects absently.
Rodney eyes him, turning to face him, face earnest. "All of my cultural relevance does not come from this." He says. "I don't know the carols by heart, I have a passing understanding of the story behind it all, the smells and sights of the traditional holiday fair do not inspire nostalgia in my apparently grinch like heart." He flails a bit, hands moving in broad stroke, trying to shape something out of the air.
"I find the vast commercialization of ALL the holidays to be crass." Rodney assures him and then gestures to some holiday decoration nearby. "This does not symbolize home and hearth to me. It symbolizes misunderstanding, loneliness in the middle of happy people. It makes me feel like an outsider because I'm just *expected* no matter my beliefs to be uplifted by the season."
John frowns. "You still could have said something."
Rodney just shakes his head.
The smell of something frying tickles John's nose as he walks down the hallway. It's only vaguely familiar, but John can't put his finger on it.
"...watch out for the oil..." He can hear Rodney's voice warn.
A loud pop and sizzling sound is heard next and the quiet murmur of voices. John rounds a corner to see a half dozen or so Atlantis personnel gathered around the pilfered frying pan, round golden brown things cooking gently in it.
There's a few plates and forks, and a couple of small bowls full of what John can only guess to be condiments.
"Where did you learn to make latkes Dr. McKay?" Spiegel asks.
"My grandmother." Rodney says. "I usually spent the holidays with her and she always said that if a man couldn't cook at least one dish, he wasn't worth the ground he walked on."
"Sounds like my mother," Spiegel nods. "Though she insisted my dish be soup."
"You were right,' John says a few days later.
"If you apologize," Rodney warns, "I am never speaking to you again."
John nods, fair enough. "You were still right."
"That actually doesn't make me feel better." Rodney sighs. "So, want to learn how to make latkes?"
John turns to see the small smile inching over Rodney's dour face. He smiles back. "Fried food, what's not to love?"