This takes place in early season one.
"Short straw," Sheppard said cheerfully. "McKay gets to build the fire."
Rodney stared in horror at the stubby alien twig in his hand. "Uh. No."
"You knew it was a possibility when you drew it."
"You stuck it under my nose! What choice did I have?"
There might have been something like a very polite sigh from Teyla's direction. Sheppard waved a hand at the rest of the team. "Ford, set up the tents. Teyla, scout the area."
As Ford wandered off, it started to drizzle. Rodney glared up at the sky through the canopy of jumper-blocking forest. "You planned this," he accused, not sure if he was talking to Sheppard or the weather, or both.
Sheppard had pushed his aviator shades up onto the top of his head. He looked boyish and young and completely in his element here in the darkest heart of Mother Nature. Rodney, on the other hand, was acutely aware that he'd been voted Most Likely To Be Eaten By a Bear by the rest of his cabin at summer camp. The second year, they'd actively tried to make it happen by tying him to a tree and leaving him out there alone until one of the counselors untied him. Sheppard, on the other hand, had probably won all the archery contests and had the counselors wrapped around his little finger.
He was also smirking.
"You will be so sorry when you all freeze to death because bears have eaten me," Rodney said, and stomped off to gather twigs or pine cones or rocks or whatever you made a fire out of.
Half an hour later, he had a damp heap of sticks, moss and a bit of accidental dirt stacked shin-high in the middle of their campsite, and was huddled, damp and miserable, throwing matches at it. At least it had stopped trying to rain, though the clouds loomed low overhead, as if they were gathering close to laugh at his misery.
Rodney pitched another match at the pile of moss. "I hate camping," he said, as it fizzled and went out.
Sheppard crouched down next to him, obnoxiously unsplattered with mud. "I never would have guessed that, McKay."
"Go away," Rodney snapped. "I can do this." He had three matches left in the little waterproof container. Striking another one, he threw it at the moss and watched it die.
"Look," Sheppard said, and before Rodney could stop him, he'd dismantled the heap of sticks ("Sheppard, leave my fire alone." "It's not a fire if it's not burning, Rodney.") and was rebuilding it into a little cone.
"Cute," Rodney said when Sheppard had finished, each word dripping scorn. "It's an elf house."
Sheppard held out a hand. "Got paper?"
Rodney put a protective hand over the pocket of his vest holding his field notebook. "We only have a limited supply of this, you know!"
"If it is tinder that you need, the dry bark of the frefna tree is very useful," Teyla said, crouching down on Sheppard's other side and holding out a hand filled with what looked like a tangled ball of brown steel wool.
"Great," Rodney muttered, "now it's a party. Let's all laugh at the fat kid. Have I mentioned I hate camping?"
Sheppard took the ball of organic steel wool from Teyla and then picked up Rodney's hand ("Hey!") and folded Rodney's fingers around it. His hand was warm and a little bit sticky and mossy from building the fire-cone. "Your fire, McKay. I'm not making it for you."
"Oh, I see. You're here to mock." Rodney stuffed the wad of brown stuff where he assumed it belonged, inside the cone of sticks, and reached for the matches; but Sheppard closed a hand over his.
"No, you need little dry sticks and bits of moss, something for the fire to catch."
"In case you hadn't noticed, there is nothing dry in this whole forest." Under Sheppard's watchful eye, Rodney picked through the remaining heap of sticks until he had a small pile of fragments of moss, bark and other debris; he tucked it around Teyla's tinder. By this time Ford had wandered over to watch (great, Rodney thought, collect the whole set).
"Well?" he said to Sheppard.
"Go for it."
Rodney lit his next-to-last match and flung it at the pile of tinder. It landed in the mud and went out.
"It's a fire, McKay, not a live grenade." Sheppard mimed holding a match, cupping his hand around it and lowering it gently. "Slow. Careful. Give it time."
"Slow, careful, give it time," Rodney muttered under his breath. He struck the last match and emulated Sheppard, holding it to the edge of the pile of tinder. The small flare of flame, up through the twisted brown fibers, was so unexpected that he immediately dropped the match, which guttered and went out on the ground. Small tendrils of flame twisted through the plant matter, sending up little wisps of smoke.
"Hey!" Rodney said, and gave Sheppard a look that was at once exultant and terrified. "Now what!"
"Blow on it," Sheppard said, and when Rodney drew a deep breath, he hastily added, "Gently! Like you're, uh, blowing dust off a keyboard."
"Shows what you know," Rodney retorted, "never heard of compressed air, huh?" But he blew on the little flame with exquisite care, until he could feel the heat on his face. He sat back on his heels, coughing as the wind teased the smoke into his face. "I made a fire," he said when he could breathe again. "I made that!"
Sheppard's grin was infectuous, and Rodney helplessly found himself grinning back. "Nice work," he said.
"Pretty good, McKay," Ford said, and held out a hand. After a minute, Rodney figured out what it was for, and high-fived him.
Teyla smiled at him, her alarmingly pretty smile that was very rarely aimed in his direction. "You have done very well," she said, and stood up. "Since you built the fire, Doctor McKay, I will gather wood to keep it burning."
Sheppard shot her a grateful look, which Rodney was feeling cheerful enough to pretend not to notice. "I built a fire," he said again.
"Guess we don't freeze to death after all," Sheppard said. He reached down and came up with a small handful of sticks, and picked out three of them. "Okay, guys. Short stick digs the latrine."
"I hate you."