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Title: Silent Night
Author name: Icarus
Author email: email@example.com
Pairing: John/Rodney, Ronon, Teyla
Summary: "Christmas?" John blinked.
DISCLAIMER: This story is just written for fun. The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. What belongs to me are the words. Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved. Only the original ideas contained within the works on this nonprofit web site are the property of their authors, and please do not copy these stories to any other website or archive or print without permission of the author. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually generous.
Author notes: Thank you to Tty63 and Fiordeligi for their encouragement and volunteering a quick last minute beta.
The fire crackled, sending up a few sparks as a log shifted and settled deeper into the embers, hissing softly as it burned off the damp. Teyla poked at the fire with a long stick, eyes bright and interested, the firelight highlighting her cheeks. She was the resident firebug, John noticed. There was always one on every team. He would have pegged Ronon, but Ronon was sprawled on an elbow, legs stretched out to the side as he watched Teyla with amusement. Next to him, Rodney hunched over his computer, tapping at a speed that made John suspect he was playing a video game.
John adjusted his shoulders against the tree, trying to get away from the knot digging into his back, knees up as his tired feet toasted, boots off. He curled his arm around a fat guitar-ish thing with the long neck the nice natives had given him as a going away present, and strummed a chord experimentally. The strings were in tune, soft, with a hum behind them like a sitar.
"You really shouldn't have accepted it," Rodney said, not looking up from what probably was Starchaser. "It might obligate us or something." He swore as, yep, his guy died with a series of bleeps. "Not to mention it's just one more item to carry."
"Obligate us to be nice to them? I think we can handle that," John said, then shrugged, stilling the strings with a hand. "Look. We're half a day's march from the gate. If we run into any trouble between here and there, I can dump the guitar."
In reality, John had no intention of dumping it. He figured he could throw it in the bushes and fetch it after they killed any Wraith.
"It's an Üd," Ronon cut them off, sitting up.
"Looks like a guitar to me," John said.
Teyla explained, briefly distracted from her fire baiting, "They are quite similar."
"Here." Ronon held out a hand for the guitar. Or Üd. He slid over in a rustle of dry leaves to show John how to tune the series of extra strings just behind the main ones.
"Do you know how to play?" John asked him as Ronon handed it back.
"Nope. My dad did, though."
It was the first time they'd ever heard anything about Ronon's family. The rest of the team glanced in his direction, but Ronon lowered his gaze to the fire and didn't offer more.
John picked away at the guitar, trying different chords at random. A soft jingling hum continued long after each note. Teyla explained the extra strings were supposed to hum. "They are sympathetic strings," she said.
John perked up, eyes alight. "That's kinda cool."
He bent over the guitar (or Üd) and thrummed out a gentle rendition of "Silent Night," stumbling over a few notes he couldn't remember. He ran through it again, more confidently this time. Seemingly bored with the fire, Teyla spread out their sleeping bags around their camp. John cast a quick glance up at the dark sky, clear and sprinkled with sharp stars. He trusted her weather sense. Rodney set aside his computer and listened peacefully, an ear turned toward John.
With the last hum of the chords, Ronon said, "That's pretty good, Sheppard." He threw a twig into the fire.
Rodney shook his head with a disparaging, "Oh, please. Silent Night is easy."
John didn't look up from his guitar, saying with exaggerated patience, "Would you care to play something for us, Rodney?"
Rodney snorted. "Certainly. Did you remember to pack the piano?"
Ronon perked up at that. "Did you?"
"I'm told that a piano is quite large." Teyla tipped her head towards Ronon with a wry smile.
"You might be able to get a baby grand, maybe even a grand piano through the Stargate, but it would take an entire team of Marines to carry it," Rodney elaborated.
"Useless instrument then," Ronon commented.
"Yes, well, our world is civilized, not exactly overrun with the Wraith. We don't need to carry our instruments like turtle shells on our backs."
"Must be nice."
"Hmm. Yes, well, I don't think we appreciate it as much as we should." Rodney sniffed and folded his arms behind his head. He adjusted his pack as a pillow. "For my part, when I get back to Earth I'm going to take in a symphony."
"You got leave?" John asked.
"Christmas vacation," Rodney smiled up at the night sky. "The military owes me enormous amounts of time off. And combat pay, which, you know, I didn't get before I was on a gate team."
"Christmas?" John blinked.
"It's the 24th—" Rodney stopped at John's blank look. "—and why did I even bother buy you a watch with Earth dates if you don't use it? And if you didn't know, why were you playing Silent Night?" John gave him a sheepish smirking smile, knowing he was about to annoy Rodney and enjoying it. "Because it's easy."
The soft sounds of night birds started some time after ten o'clock, once the fire had burned down to curling red embers. John was still awake, thrumming softly. Teyla had fallen fast asleep, her mouth open, and she'd curled closer to the fire. Ronon sat up with his back to a log, his head loose like a doll's. Everyone knew better than to wake him, even though that position looked uncomfortable. Rodney was the only one who'd managed to make himself comfortable on the sleeping bags, taking the flat area next to John. He lay on his stomach, cheek pressed against his arm.
John didn't technically have this watch but he let them sleep.
A minute later, John paused. Rodney's soft eyes glimmered. They looked warm and brown in the banked firelight, which was strange.
Rodney's eyelashes fluttered and he smiled. John grinned back.
"Any requests?" he asked in a murmur.
Rodney snuffled and rolled onto his back. "Just wishing for some mistletoe." And his eyes crinkled into a smile, sparkling.
John set the guitar against the tree and edged closer with a little snort of laughter. He pointed at the branches above them. "I think I see a pine cone."
There wasn't a pine cone in sight.
With a surreptitious glance at his sleeping teammates, John licked his lips and leaned down, edging over to Rodney.
Rodney leaned up to meet the kiss.
And Merry Christmas.