roga and tielan can be added to the list of people who will be getting physical cards (though they obviously won't make it by V-day), but I hope the rest of you are happy with these!
First up, with_apostrophe wanted a card from Ronon to Radek, or vice versa. No spoilers in particular.
There were few things in life more frustrating, Radek reflected, than trying to find a get-well card for someone who'd saved your life, but who could also kill you in a few hundred different ways, and probably had no idea what greeting cards even were.
Adding to his difficulty, the greeting card selection on Atlantis was a bit eclectic. There was a basket in Lounge Four, next to the big paperback-novel swap table, that had the unofficial title of the Hallmark Basket. It had started in the first year as a kind of swap table itself -- the idea propagated through Atlantis that cards for birthdays or festivals were a form of common good, and so a variety of intriguing handmade cards (along with a handful of store-bought ones) began turning up in the Hallmark Basket with various names and greetings whited out or crossed off. Once contact with Earth was reestablished, people coming back from leave developed an unspoken habit of dropping by stationery stores back on Earth to pick up a few cards for the basket: birthday cards, Christmas cards, Valentine's cards, engagement cards; cards in English and Romanian, Japanese and Arabic, French and Chinese. The trading teams periodically added items they'd found on their ventures, usually meeting the definition of "greeting card" only by association.
Radek sometimes found himself nostalgic for the old days, when one's birthday or favorite national holiday would be met with a small deluge of vaguely familiar cards featuring a greeting along the lines of Dear
These days, the Hallmark Basket was usually well-stocked and most of the cards were at least relatively new. Still, none of them screamed "Ronon" to him. None of them so much as whispered it. Regretfully, he'd sorted through the last few (bat mitzvah, Father's Day, wedding, Arbor Day) and decided that he'd have to make his own.
He didn't really have to, of course. In fact, he had no doubt that Ronon wouldn't even care. Ronon would probably prefer food. Maybe food would be a better idea, come to think of it. But, damn it, in three and a half years on Atlantis, he'd visited nearly everybody that he knew in the infirmary at least once, and had never given anyone a get-well card, and if there ever was an appropriate time, it seemed that giving a card to the person who'd thrown his body between Radek and --
"Excuse me? When did it become arts and crafts day in the physics lab?"
Radek jumped and tried to shove his printer paper and ballpoint pens under the edge of his keyboard. "Go away, Rodney."
"What the hell is that?" Rodney, never one to hide his curiosity due to little matters like politeness or social propriety, leaned over Radek's shoulder and ignored his subordinate's attempts to cover up the half-finished drawing on the folded piece of paper. "What is that? An elephant?"
"Rodney, go away."
"A fire truck?" Rodney persisted, trying to get a better look at the ink lines on the card.
All right, so physics, not art, was his specialty, and trying to draw Ronon taking a Genii bullet for him was a whole lot harder than drawing a geometric diagram. Still, some people were just rude. "I believe I am due for a break," Radek said primly, sweeping the drawing into his hand along with a pile of other papers covered with jumper diagram sketches.
"No you're not."
"Excuse me, I am my own department head; you do not dictate when I take breaks, Rodney."
Rodney folded his arms. "Yes, but I think I'm perfectly within my rights to intervene, particularly when you've only been in the lab for --" His eyes darted to the clock on the wall. "... oh. Nine hours. All right, fine. Slack off if you are so inclined." He slouched back to his computer, then spun around as Radek tried to make his getaway. "Seriously, what is that? A clump of dandelions? An overcoat?"
"Good night, Rodney!"
Okay. So much for that idea. He crumpled the unfinished card with its indecipherable drawing and chucked it into the nearest waste disposal unit, then wandered down to the nearly deserted cafeteria and got a plateful of the latest Mystery Something Surprise. And, hmm ... He stared at the selection of desserts before grabbing one of everything that could conceivably be carried without spilling it, crowding cookies and muffins around the plate of glop in the middle of his tray.
The bored-looking corporal restocking the drink table raised an eye at him. "So what are you doing, Doc, packing on pounds for your winter hibernation?"
"It's not for me," Radek retorted and slunk off to find a table in the corner.
He ended up eating a few of the cookies anyway, and wrapped what was left in napkins. The corridors were dim and mostly deserted; he passed a few Marines and a pair of hydrologists walking hand-in-hand, but no one gave him a second glance. People on Atlantis were blasé enough about the unexpected that it took a lot more than a scientist with his hands full of napkin-wrapped parcels to catch someone's notice.
The infirmary was equally dim and deserted. The duty nurse glanced up from her paperwork and smiled at him. Radek screwed up his courage.
"I'm here to, uh, see Ronon?"
She peeked under the napkins, gave a little nod and pointed to one of the privacy curtains. "He's sedated and asleep right now, but you can drop those off for him."
"Thank you." Radek couldn't help feeling a bit of cowardly relief -- there would be no need for awkward conversation. He could just leave the goodies and go.
He was half afraid that Sheppard or Teyla would be in there, but a quick peek assured him that the metal chair by Ronon's bed was empty. He slipped around the curtain, intending to just drop off his haul on the bedside table and leave, but he paused.
He'd never seen Ronon sleeping before. The big man had a blanket pulled up to his shoulders, hiding most of the bandages, and an IV in one arm; his head was turned to the side, face slack, a dark web of dreadlocks spilling over his pillow. He looked open and vulnerable and incredibly young.
It had never hit Radek before -- just how young Ronon really was. There had to be a ten-year age difference between the two of them. When he'd been attending university in Prague, Ronon would have been a child of ten or eleven. What kind of child had he been? Radek wondered. Shy and quiet? Open and laughing? There was no way to know; everyone who'd known him then was long dead, and Radek couldn't imagine Ronon ever talking about it.
He couldn't even imagine it -- losing everyone and everything you'd known. Growing up, he'd known fear and uncertainty, a burden borne mostly by the adults of his parents' generation but translated down to their children. His family had been poor, and there were many times when he'd been cold and hungry. If someone had told him that he'd one day reflect on his life as one of safety and privilege, he would have laughed at them.
But most of the people he'd loved were still alive. The public gardens where he'd had his first kiss were still in bloom; the buildings where he'd attended classes still stood as they always had, with a new generation of students thronging their halls.
When he left Atlantis, he had a world to go back to.
Quietly, he set down his offerings next to a small heap of Snickers bars -- obviously he wasn't the only one who'd had the same idea. He had intended to just do this and go, but he kept sneaking glances at Ronon's relaxed, open, too-young face. He fumbled in his pocket for a pen and then looked around for something to write on, finally unwrapping one of the napkins from a chocolate chip cookie.
Thank you for saving my life, he wrote, trying not to tear the napkin with the pen tip and only partially succeeding. He stopped, and chewed on the end of the pen; it seemed like a terribly inadequate thing to say to someone who had suffered personal devastation that he couldn't even imagine, and still remained the kind of person who'd take a bullet for someone he barely knew. Finally, cautiously, he wrote, I hope I'll be able to return the favor someday. R. Zelenka.
He laid the napkin atop the pile of desserts. Folded, it did look a bit like a card -- the world's cheapest, crappiest get-well card.
"Thanks," he whispered, and slipped out before Ronon could wake.
bironic wanted a card from Rodney to Sam (among several other options, but I went with that one). "Trio" post-ep, contains spoilers.
After spending most of her adult life in the Air Force, and ten years of that at the SGC, Sam had become something of a connoisseur of hospital ceilings. Atlantis, she decided, had the nicest yet, a study in blue and copper, though it was possible that her current fascination with it had something to do with the painkillers flowing through her system.
Fascinating as the ceiling was, she still hated being laid up. Knowing that John Sheppard and Rodney McKay were running the city during her convalescence did absolutely nothing for her peace of mind. She kept telling herself that they'd managed to do it for over a month after Elizabeth's disappearance, without sinking it or blowing anything up, but she still couldn't shake the fear that she'd get out of the infirmary to find that her office had been converted into a big-screen movie theater, or a waterslide had been installed from the upper level of the control room to the stargate.
And it didn't help that normally she'd have her team with her, hovering around until Dr. Lam chased them out. Sheppard had stopped by to see her earlier, and several other people from around the city, but it really wasn't at all the same.
Footsteps approached her bed and she detached her gaze from the ceiling, expecting to see Keller. The sight of a slightly limping Rodney McKay surprised her. She lifted a hand in a small wave. "Hi, Rodney."
"Hi, yourself." Rodney shuffled his feet. He looked a lot better than he had the last time she'd seen him -- now that he was showered, shaved and rested, the only lingering sign of trauma were the clean white bandages around his hands. Well ... the hand that she could see, anyway. The other was tucked behind his back. "So, how are you -- you know? Doing."
Through the snug cocoon of morphine, or whatever they had given her, she was dimly aware of her leg, but not bothered by it. "I'm alive, Rodney. Thanks to you."
While she'd never have guessed that she'd one day owe her life to Rodney McKay -- and, more to the point, that she wouldn't mind -- she was even more surprised when he dropped his eyes and looked away from her. She'd have expected gloating; instead, his flustered spluttering was actually endearing. "Oh. Well. That. What was I going to do, let you fall?"
Once upon a time, I think you would have, she thought, looking at him and trying to see a younger, brasher Rodney overlaid on the current version -- a Rodney McKay who would have let Teal'c die rather than accept that he might be wrong. She could vaguely remember a time when she'd thought of him as an obnoxious little creep. Well, to be honest, he'd been an obnoxious little creep. Right now, though, she just felt warm and affectionate towards him and the rest of the world.
Okay, at least some of that was probably the morphine.
"So," Rodney said, into the silence. "I .. um. Brought you a. Thing."
His hand came out from behind his back with a sack pinched between two fingers, with the sort of nervous care normally associated with live rattlesnakes and unstable explosive compounds. He dropped this into her lap and withdrew, looking on the verge of retreat.
It was a brown paper bag with a white envelope stapled to it, her name scrawled on its front in handwriting so sloppy that she could only assume it was Rodney's. The bandaged hands must be driving him insane. "You got me a get-well card?" It was actually an unexpectedly sweet gesture.
"Kind of," he mumbled, not meeting her eyes.
She shook out the card, somewhat nervous considering what she'd seen in the past of Rodney's dubious aesthetic sense. But it wasn't nearly as bad as she'd feared -- a surprisingly tasteful bouquet of flowers, with GET WELL SOON inscribed inside, and Rodney's sprawling signature.
"McKay, that's ... very sweet, actually. Thank you." She turned her attention to the bag. There was something vaguely familiar about it, but with her thought processes slowed down by the meds, she couldn't figure out what, exactly. Something about the way it looked, or, no, the way it smelled. She just couldn't think well enough to put her finger on why she ought to know that smell.
Rodney had backed up a few steps, as if he expected it to explode. "Well, aren't you going to open it?"
The top was stapled shut; she tore the paper slightly, teasing it apart. Peeking inside, she saw a plastic Tupperware container with another envelope on top of it.
"You got me two get-well cards?" She should have remembered that moderation was not exactly a Rodney McKay trait.
"Open it," he repeated, bouncing in place just a little bit.
Overwhelmed by curiosity, she did. This card depicted a mountain scene; where Rodney's card had been sort of generic, Sam liked this one at first sight. It was blank inside, with handwriting in different hands, every one of which was instantly recognizable to her.
Sam's jaw dropped.
Unexpectedly, the words began to blur; she blinked rapidly, clearing her eyes before she looked up at Rodney, who was hovering anxiously while trying to look casual. The usual check-in with the SGC wouldn't have been until next week, which obviously meant --
"Did you --" She cleared her throat and had to start over. "You contacted them?"
"Well, Sheppard and I did. Why? Didn't you want us to?"
"No, I just --" She was losing her voice again, so she peeled open the Tupperware lid. That was the familiar smell, of course: macaroons. She picked one up and took a bite, and grinned.
"Are they good?" Rodney asked, one of his bandaged hands creeping in the general direction of the cookies.
"No." She couldn't stop grinning. "They're terrible, absolutely awful. Cam makes the worst macaroons I've ever eaten in my life." It wasn't the taste or the texture, though, that made it hard to swallow the bite of goddawful cookie past the lump in her throat.
"Ah." Rodney yanked his hand back. "By the way," he added, fidgeting awkwardly, "Daniel said he'd probably be heading across the intergalactic bridge in a day or two. Important work to do on Atlantis, translating something, I didn't pay attention to the details."
She almost dropped the cookie. "Daniel's coming here?"
"Of course he is," Rodney said.
And she realized by the tone of his voice that he got it. He honestly got it. He had a team of his own now, too.
"Thank you," she said sincerely. "I owe you one, McKay."
"Well, of course you do." His bounce was a little more confident, back on more familiar ground. "I'll, ah, see you around." And he beat a hasty retreat.
Sam set up both cards on the bedside table, Rodney's next to her team's -- but the team card got front and center position. The inedible macaroons went next to them. With some effort and a bit of pain, she managed to roll until she was lying partially on her side, twisted at the waist, head turned towards the cards and one fist tucked under her cheek.
The view was much better than the infirmary ceiling.
fitzwiggety wanted team, no prompts. Vague spoilers through "Trio".
"Let me see if I understand this correctly," Teyla said in her most patient, "you people are completely insane" voice. "This is a day for lovers to ritually court one another."
"Pretty much," John said over her shoulder.
Teyla studied the sea of pink, red and white cards in front of her. Off to her left, Ronon was looking at the jellybeans. She picked up a card with a picture of two teddy bears holding hands and curly script reading BEAR with me. "And they do this by giving each other pieces of paper with pre-written sentiments inside."
"And chocolate," John said, feeling oddly compelled to defend a holiday he'd always loathed. It just figured that the one team road trip he'd managed to cajole out of Carter would happen in the middle of February. At least it wasn't Easter -- he couldn't begin to imagine how to explain that particular blend of customs without sounding like a lunatic.
Teyla put the card back and regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "And, correct me if I am misunderstanding your culture --" okay, he was getting a definite sarcastic vibe now "-- but weight gain is considered undesirable, isn't it?"
This was such an alien concept to the Athosians that she'd thought he was teasing her at first. "Yes," John sighed.
"So ... it is customary to attempt to court a lover by offering insincere platitudes and attempting to make them less attractive."
"I think you've just nailed the Milky Way Galaxy dating scene, Teyla," Rodney said loudly from a nearby rack of DVDs. "And you people wonder why I have better things to do with my time."
John smirked at him. "Funny, and here I thought it was because you accidentally dumped your last girlfriend and can't get a date."
"Well, aren't you as funny as a case of gonorrhea, Colonel," Rodney snapped and retreated huffily to the other side of the DVD rack.
Teyla was staring with particular intensity at one section of the card display. "Your people are far more open-minded than I had realized," she said thoughtfully, picking up a card that read To Grandma on Valentine's Day.
"No, that's not for -- Ronon!" John said loudly and desperately, more than ready to put someone else in the hot seat for a change. "What did you guys do on S-- back where you came from?"
"We used to court a girl by slaying a chantha beast with nothing but a knife, and leaving the carcass on her family's doorstep."
Teyla and John stared at him for a moment. Finally John said, "Musta been hell on the cleaning service."
Teyla narrowed her eyes. "Is that true, Ronon?"
Ronon looked back at them, perfectly deadpan, and then a grin cracked his face. "Shoulda seen the looks on your faces. What d'you think we were, barbarians?"
Shaking his head, still grinning, he wandered off to look at a rack of pink stuffed animals.
Teyla heaved a sigh, and put back the card with a slight shudder. "I would like to find the department with the baby clothes now."
"What, again?" Rodney demanded, popping into view with his hands full of assorted B science-fiction movies. "How many baby clothes do you need? It's a baby! Like it's going to care! You could stick it in a grocery sack and it wouldn't know any different."
"I will be in the baby department if any of you should wish to speak to me," Teyla said frostily, and swept past him like an ungainly boat under full sail. Not that any of her teammates would have been unwise enough to make that particular comparison, except possibly Rodney.
"Wha -- is she mad at me?" Then he remembered who he was talking to, and turned his back on John. "Right, not talking to you."
"C'mon, Rodney, don't tell me you're still mad about the dating crack."
"What -- you are mad?" God, it was like having two pregnant women to deal with. If Ronon started getting hormonal on him, he was going to give them the car keys, go find a bar and get drunk for a while.
"You get that 'Alien' movie?" Ronon wanted to know, hanging over Rodney's armful of DVDs.
"Yes, yes, entire Alien series, right here. All the chest-bursting action you could want. Plus Sigourney Weaver."
"You know, Ripley was originally written as a male part," John said, falling into step with him.
"Okay, look, McKay, I shouldn't have brought up Katie, all right?"
All he could see of Rodney's expression from this angle was the flutter of pale eyelashes. "Did you know she's transferring back to Ear-- back home?"
Rodney sounded completely miserable, and John managed to stifle the first two or three responses that came to mind, along the lines of Probably better that way or Well, it's not like you're still seeing her, right? Because he did understand, he really did. He had made his peace with Nancy and the fact that he had no claim on her, but there were times when thinking of her with Greg (or Gary or George or whatever his name was) still got to him in a way he couldn't quite explain.
"You know," Rodney said, as he almost walked straight into a display of dog food. Ronon caught his shoulder and steered him straight down the aisle while he kept talking, oblivious. "This would have been the first Valentine's Day I ever actually had someone to spend it with. I mean, not that I'm really -- I'm not that romantic of a guy, but --"
John managed not to laugh, which he thought would probably have been taken entirely the wrong way.
"-- but, I'd kind of been thinking about it, you know? I mean, it would have been nice to ..." He trailed off, looking utterly woebegone in the particular way that only Rodney could manage.
Talking about this kind of stuff wasn't John's thing, particularly in the middle of Wal-Mart, so he just jostled Rodney lightly with his shoulder instead. On Rodney's other side, Ronon had closed in as well. Rodney didn't say anything about being crowded, which was probably a good indication of his state of mind right now.
"Go find Teyla before she buys out the entire kids' department?" John asked, jostling Rodney's arm again. "And then let's get some beer and pizza, go back to the hotel and have a festive, Valentine's Alien marathon. Yeah?"
"Yeah." And Rodney smiled, just a little.
And, finally, ditraveler's ficlet was already posted in the comments to an earlier entry, so many of you have probably already read it, but I'm including it here for those who missed it the first time around. ditraveler asked for Ronon giving a card to Sheppard, and also supplied several of the particulars of the plot. No episode spoilers to speak of.
John's mornings on Atlantis had a comfortable routine. His alarm went off at six. He'd hit the gym first, where he'd hook up with Ronon and go for a jog (if Ronon was around) or do a quick workout if not. Then a shower and team breakfast; and it would be time for the business of the day, whether that might be an offworld mission or a day spent on Atlantis doing paperwork and training Marines.
This morning, something woke him from a sound sleep, just before his alarm went off. He flinched and reached automatically for his gun in a brief sleep-fugue, then blinked and ran his hand over his face, fingers rasping on stubble. The clock on his nightstand read 5:49.
He was a light sleeper, and it wasn't all that unusual for some little thing to wake him -- a random, half-awake scientist blundering past in the hall; a shifting of Atlantis's stabilizers as the floating city performed one of its micro-corrections to keep itself in place; the distant muffled thunder of the jumper bay doors opening for a predawn patrol. John yawned, stretched and threw on a pair of BDU pants, slung a towel over his shoulder and palmed open the door.
It opened halfway, and stuck.
Huh. He peered around the edge of the half-open door, and froze at the sight of a knife handle protruding from it.
That was different.
Cautiously, keeping most of his body hidden, John peered both ways down the corridor. No one was in sight. The knife itself was a slim blade with a leather-wrapped haft, not of Earth make, which made it pretty easy to figure out whose knife it was ... and probably what had awoken him, too.
Why Ronon would be going around at six a.m. sticking knives in John's door was a more difficult question.
"Sometimes I wonder about you, buddy," John murmured, getting a grip on the knife hilt. It took him two tries to yank it out of the door; it was deeply embedded in the smooth plasticky material of the door. It came away with pieces of door flaking away from the blade -- and a square of pink paper skewered halfway up the blade.
Very carefully, using the tips of his fingers, John twitched the pink square off the knife blade. It was an envelope of standard greeting-card size. The flap was sealed; there was nothing written on it. Still with extreme caution, John used the knife -- razor sharp, it turned out -- to slit the flap.
A card slid out, equally pink, covered with hearts. To my beloved, read the curly script inscribed on the front.
Driven by burning and slightly morbid curiosity, John peeked inside. The inscription read:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know, dear, how much I love you...
And then at the bottom:
... more than words can ever say.
John very carefully folded up the card, and very carefully tucked it back into its envelope.
Perhaps he'd skip the workout this morning.
When he walked into the cafeteria, the pink-and-red bouquets of heart-shaped balloons on every table almost made him walk right back out again. Dammit. Valentine's Day. The only bearable thing about this day was the fact that it made Rodney completely apoplectic, and that was always entertaining to watch.
The pink envelope, presently tucked into a pocket of his BDUs, took on new and sinister meaning. John swallowed and made his way through the mess line for a bagel and a cup of coffee.
The only member of his team in sight was Teyla, sitting at a corner table with a cup of tea and a book. She looked up with a smile when he sat down. "You are here early, John."
"Mmm-hmm." He took a bite of his bagel and didn't elaborate.
Teyla looked past him, and her eyebrows went up. "Rodney appears to be up unusually early, as well." Her gaze darted back to him. "Is there anything I should be aware of, John?"
"No, nothin'," John said absently, casting a glance over his shoulder. Clearly uncomfortable, Rodney was edging through the mess line. The corner of a familiar-looking pink envelope peeked out from under his tray.
What the hell? John thought. Something in the water?
Rodney joined them, plunking his tray next to John's and surreptitiously poking the envelope out of sight under it.
The only answer was a grunt before Rodney knocked back half his cup of coffee. Then he froze, staring down at John's leg.
"What?" John said, before he caught sight of the edge of an incriminating pink envelope sticking out of his pocket.
So, what's that under your tray? had been right on the tip of his tongue, but he snapped his mouth shut and looked up at Rodney. The two of them stared warily at each other.
The stare broke when Teyla's small, deft fingers slipped to the edge of Rodney's tray. "Oh, Rodney, what is this?"
"Personal!" Rodney snapped, grabbing it back.
"Secret admirer, Rodney?" John said before he could stop himself.
Rodney glared at him. "How about you, Colonel?"
"I have heard of this custom," Teyla said, folding her hands under her chin. "I did not know either of you had your ... eyes on someone." A dimple flickered into view. "Personally I find this custom of your people very sweet. Who is the fortunate girl?"
"There isn't one!" John said, stuffing the pink envelope deeper into his pocket ... probably the wrong thing to say, judging by Teyla's deepening dimple. A flaming blush had risen up Rodney's cheeks, leading John to wonder who the hell his valentine was from. Katie Brown, maybe?
"Oh, Ronon!" Teyla said, looking over the top of John's head. John jumped guiltily; out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Rodney do likewise. Rodney slid not-so-subtly in John's direction when Ronon plunked down his tray at Rodney's end of the table.
Ronon stuffed a muffin in his mouth. "Hey," he said around it.
John was expecting one of Rodney's usual protests ("Where did you learn your manners, Conon, in a barn?") but instead, Rodney just made a small squeaking noise and shifted a little farther away. John returned a thoughtful stare to Rodney's pink envelope, an unpleasant suspicion squirming around the back of his brain.
"Hey," Ronon said cheerfully around a half a bagel, gesturing to Rodney's envelope. "You got it."
Rodney's only response was a faint whimper. His eyes were so huge that they looked like they were about to pop out of his head and fall onto the table. And that was when John tumbled to what was going on -- because no one could be that clueless about Earth customs.
Ronon burst into laughter and slapped Rodney on the back. Teyla began to giggle, covering her mouth with her hand. John gave both of them a sheepish grin.
"What?" Rodney demanded, a little slower to catch on. "What? What's so funny?"
John tapped his arm. "McKay. They're playing a practical joke on us."
"What do you -- what?"
"You two should try the little muffins with the pink sprinkles," Teyla said serenely, returning to her book. "They are quite festive. I believe I like this holiday."