Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Word count: 2129
Summary: "Listen. I don't want to date Teyla. But she gave all of us Valentines and I think after what Ford told her she'll expect something in return."
Notes: Set in season 1. Pre-Slash.
It had only been one of the many discussions about Earth culture and John had promptly forgotten about it because it went like pretty much every other discussion they had: Ford enthusiastically recalled something from his past, Teyla listened intently and asked questions and Rodney rolled his eyes and said that it wasn't necessarily an Earth custom so much as something that Americans did.
So when Teyla showed up at his doorstep one morning, handing him a piece of paper with a friendly smile on her face, and said "Happy Valentine's Day, Major!", he didn't quite know what to say.
Apparently she didn't expect an immediate answer however, because she left afterwards and as she walked away he noticed that she was carrying two more notes in her hand.
He unfolded his own note and read:
"Dear Major Sheppard,
I am deeply grateful for the bravery, cunning and strength you have shown in fighting the Wraith and saving the lives of others—and your own. You have welcomed me into your circle and invited me to join your team. You trusted me to fight alongside you to free my people and my galaxy.
Beyond that I value your humor and friendship. We may not always know what the other is saying, but I feel that for the most part we still understand each other.
I hope this will continue for many years.
With the kindest regards
It was... heart-warming and it made him smile, but at the same time he felt a panic set in his chest.
Obviously after Ford told her about his grandmother's wonderful cake and how this would be the first time since he could write that he wouldn't be able to send her a Valentine's card, Teyla expected that they'd give each other Valentine's messages if they cared about each other. Which meant that she expected him to write something nice about her. And the only good thing about that was that it bought him some time and that he wouldn't have to actually face her when she read it.
He went for a run in the hopes of inspiration, but everything that didn't involve how nice her breasts looked was somehow awkward and made him think she wouldn't believe in his sincerity. And he wasn't sure how she'd take it if he wrote that she smelled nicely even when she was sweaty from beating him soundly with her sticks.
After taking a shower, he went to see Ford. He had started this whole thing and they were in this together, so maybe they'd find a way around this together.
"Did Teyla visit you this morning by any chance, Lieutenant?"
"Yes," Ford said cheerfully. "She gave me a Valentine's greeting, sir."
"Figures," John muttered.
"I think it's wonderful that she remembered what we told her about this tradition," he said with a smile. It formed into a grin as he added, "I already gave her mine."
John's face fell. "You gave her a Valentine," he said flatly.
"Yes, sir," Ford said, hesitant now. "Shouldn't I have?"
"No, no, it's good. I just guess this means we all have to... make one."
"Yes. I already made one for Dr. McKay. I wasn't sure about you, but I want you to know that I appreciate all that you've done for Atlantis and me personally. Thank you for trusting me to be on your team, sir. I hope never to disappoint you."
John smiled awkwardly. "Thank you, Lieutenant. Uhm... likewise. I mean..."
Ford grinned. "Thank you, sir."
This left Rodney as the last chance to get out of this. He couldn't imagine McKay writing Valentine's notes. But first he had a meeting with Bates and Elizabeth.
John eventually found Rodney in the labs.
"Tell me you haven't done anything for Teyla," John began without preamble.
"What?" Rodney said, turning around in his chair.
"Oh that. Right, she was here and wished me Happy Valentine's Day. You should tell Ford to stop sharing all those stories," he said pointedly.
"I can't order him not to talk, McKay. It doesn't work with you either."
"Very funny. Was there something you wanted? Because I actually do have to work." Rodney turned back to his computer without waiting for an answer.
"I was just wondering what we should do about the whole Valentine's thing."
Rodney sighed and turned back to him. "What are you talking about? Do you want to invite her on a date? If so you don't need my permission or help." His voice turned slightly aggressive on the last word.
"I don't want to ask her out, McKay. She's a member of my team."
"Right," Rodney said, rolling his eyes in a way that made John think Rodney didn't think that that would stop John. Which was pretty annoying actually.
"Listen. I don't want to date Teyla. But she gave all of us Valentines and I think after what Ford told her she'll expect something in return." John was relieved to finally see a panic on Rodney's face that mirrored his own.
"Wait, wait, wait. A Valentine? She didn't..." Suddenly he rolled his chair towards the desk John was standing next to and rummaged between the papers, finally producing a note like the one John had gotten from Teyla that morning.
Rodney scanned it and the corner of his mouth turned downwards. When he was finished, he glared at John. "You should forbid him to ever speak again."
"It's too late now anyway. So... any ideas?" John asked hopefully.
"Other than silencing Ford?"
John gave him a look.
"We could simply do nothing and maybe she'll get the idea that this is nothing that you do for your team mates."
"Except that Ford already gave her his Valentine. Oh yeah, he has one for you, too."
"Oh, what a wonderful day this is," Rodney sing-songed. Then he snatched a piece of paper and scribbled something on it.
John read over his shoulder.
your beauty is matched by your grace, wisdom and strength. I'm glad to have you on our team.
"Wow, that's... good. McKay, who knew you had it in you?"
"I can fake it when necessary," he said disparagingly. Then he quickly added, "Not that I don't admire those qualities about her."
"Yeah, yeah, I get it." John quickly got out a piece of paper for himself and began to write his own note.
"What are you doing? You can't just copy it!"
"Why not? It's exactly how I feel about her."
"Then at least rephrase it. God, you really just depend on your look when it comes to women, don't you?" Rodney said sourly.
John raised his eyebrow. Of course Rodney wasn't exactly wrong. He'd never really had to woo anyone with things like this. He quickly wrote another note, which pretty much said exactly the same with slightly different words.
He openly sighed in relief. Disaster averted.
"Great, now we can go have lunch with her and Ford."
"I still have to... oh right, I forgot where I was now anyway."
Teyla and Ford were already in the mess when they joined them. They both sat down and pushed their respective notes towards Teyla.
She took them, read them and smiled first at John then at Rodney.
"It really is a lovely tradition, to have a day designated to share your appreciation of others. Lieutenant Ford was kind enough to share with me what he wrote for you and told you," she said, looking at Rodney then at John.
"Oh yeah. Here's a Valentine for you, Doc."
Rodney took the note with a sour smile and John bit his lip to hide his amusement. He could enjoy Rodney squirm, now that he was safe.
"Thank you," Rodney said. "I... uh... You're very welcome and I also appreciate you saving my life."
"Thanks," Ford said with a grin.
Teyla smiled at both of them and then looked at John and Rodney meaningfully. Oh no. She couldn't possibly...
"Have you already shared your Valentines?"
"You mean with him?!" Rodney said indignantly.
John looked at him and raised an eyebrow. He was as unhappy about this turn of events as anyone, but Rodney really needn't sound quite so put out.
Next to them Ford sniggered.
John forced himself not to glare at every single person at the table. Teyla just wanted to be friendly. And it was probably best to get this over with as soon as possible.
He sat up straight and turned to Rodney.
"Rodney," he began and Rodney turned his head away, muttering "Oh my God".
"Rodney," John repeated. "I appreciate what you do for the team and on Atlantis. Saving our lives and... that kind of thing."
"You're a real poet, Major," Rodney said, sounding anything but impressed.
"And I also appreciate you being... you. Bringing me new tech and just hanging out, that... uhm... I like that and I know that you don't have a lot of time, so that you take that time to be with, I mean, to spend time with me, I... yeah."
Okay, that was really pathetic, but Rodney stopped looking like he wanted to just be as far away as possible from all the stupidity. He actually looked sort of touched.
"Eh... thank you, Major," he eventually said stiffly. Then he grabbed his untouched tray and got up. "I'll have to get back to that experiment," he said, before fleeing the mess hall.
"I'm sure he'll let you know how he feels after he has finished working," Teyla said and John wasn't quite sure if she was mocking him.
Either way he had fulfilled his responsibilities for the day, which meant he didn't have to make a fool of himself again. He started digging into his food.
His verbal Valentine for Rodney certainly hadn't been the most eloquent, but thinking about his reaction he thought that it still had hit its mark. And it was actually nice to let Rodney know that he appreciated him not just for saving all their lives on a regular basis, but also on a personal level. McKay might be arrogant and a pain in the ass very often, but John still liked him and to his surprise Rodney had become the person he wanted to spend his time with the most.
Later that night, John was ready to put "War and Peace" aside, when his door chimed.
He got up from the bed, alert. House calls at this time of night never meant anything good. But when he opened the door, it was Rodney. And he didn't look afraid for his life. At least not in the sense of there being an emergency.
"Major," he said, not really looking at John. "I... uh. I just wanted to give you... this." He shoved a note in John's hand, then turned, muttered "Night" and was gone again.
John closed the door and sat down on the bed. He really hadn't expected Rodney to give him anything. They'd done this for Teyla's benefit mostly and even if the small part of him that hadn't found it excruciatingly humiliating had enjoyed telling Rodney how he felt, he was aware that if Teyla hadn't prompted him, he wouldn't have said anything to Rodney, either.
But here it was. The message that Rodney had written for him. He wondered if this would be 'faked', too, but then dismissed the thought and opened it.
I don't think I need to mention how much I appreciate that you've made it a priority to save my life on a regular basis. Considering the circumstances, you do an admirable job, not just with that, but also as the military commander of Atlantis. But that is as much as anyone on Atlantis would tell you.
You've made me a member of your team. It speaks for you that you recognize the value of my brilliance in the field.
However I would never have hoped to find you valuing myself as much as my intellect. The time that we spend together outside of missions and briefings is among what I cherish the most here on Atlantis.
Since you were kind enough to share with me how you felt, even if you put it so very badly, I wanted to return the favor.
John read the note twice and felt his heart grow about two sizes. He folded up the note and put it in his night stand.
Tomorrow he'd have to thank Teyla for beginning what he felt should be a custom for their team.
And he'd have to tell Ford to keep talking about such Earth customs.
He probably wouldn't thank Rodney. But then he didn't think he'd have to.
There's now a sequel, "Old Customs", set in season 4.