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Fic: Toy Drums & Soldiers (McKay/Sheppard, PG13)

Title: Toy Drums & Soldiers
Author: icarusancalion
Recipient: sabinelagrande
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Mild references to D/s.
Author's Notes: Sabinelagrande asked Santa for kinky fic with or without sex, and humor, and lots of other things I didn't include. Santa's sleigh was crowded! I couldn't resist a team fic and presents. Lots and lots of presents. Thank you to busaikko and rabidfan for the rapid, cheerful betas. I can always count on you.
Summary: The Atlantis expedition exchanges Christmas gifts, banter, and inside jokes.

-o-

Elizabeth did Christmas right. Well, the tree wasn't real--she made up for that with pine-scented candles--and the silica wires connecting the little lights said "Pegasus" more than "Currier & Ives." But the cut-out snowflakes on her stained glass windows glowed different colors in the soft morning sun, and the gingerbread house, wreaths, and tinkling Christmas music set the scene.

Not to mention the very promising pile of Christmas gifts under the tree. They were wrapped in a mix of Pegasus fabrics and the cheerful paper Jeannie had sent, with a thoughtfulness that proved she really was the smart one; she'd guessed that a galaxy without Christmas didn't have gift wrap either. Radek stationed himself at the laptop, playing Christmas DJ, which gave him the chance to skip all the carols he hated. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" got cut off at the first "We--!"

John grabbed another sugar cookie, wondering when they could dig into that gingerbread.

Teyla set her folded wrapping paper on the table (you could always tell the aliens -- who folded paper after they tore it off the presents?) and held up a triangular wooden ... thingie. It had inexplicable knobs sticking out in all directions, what Rodney called a "Pegasus special." They'd make guesses later.

"Do I even want to know what that's for?" John asked.

"Thank you, Ronon," Teyla said, ignoring John. "That's very considerate."

"And expensive," Elizabeth said, showing off her knowledge of the locals. "I thought my memo put a spending limit on our gifts."

"Lost cause," John said. "You're talking to the guy who was 'unclear on the concept' of 'Secret Santa' last year."

"It was just an excuse to be cheap." Ronon snorted.

"Too true," McKay said. "Glad we've dispensed with it this year. There's no excuse, given hazard pay and all expenses covered on Atlantis, plus, I feel no need to restrain my largesse to just one person."

Zelenka said, "Ah, but only the regular gate teams get hazard pay."

"As we should!" Rodney spluttered.

"Atlantis is equally dangerous as the off-world missions," Zelenka said.

"That is so not true!"

"Now, now, boys, no talking shop on the holidays," John reminded them.

"I'm keeping a list for next year," Rodney huffed. "And maybe setting aside some special packages--with lumps of coal."

"Coal?" Ronon asked.

"It's an oily mineral. You burn it to keep warm," John explained.

"Valuable gift," Ronon commented.

Rodney dug under the tree, his Santa hat slipping over one ear. The guy willing to wear the silly hat got to give out the gifts. "Oh!" Rodney said. "One for me." He was instantly perky and began greedily tearing into the paper. He opened a long, thin box.

"Who's it from?" John asked. Sometimes Rodney had to be reminded of the niceties.

"You, of course, or don't you recognize it?" Rodney said. He held up a riding crop, which had a little leather hand at the tip.

"You're always complaining you need an extra hand," John said, grinning.

"I think that was extra pair of hands, with opposable thumbs," Rodney snapped.

Radek muttered something in Czech. McKay smacked him with the riding crop.

"And it's already being put to good use," John said.

"I've no idea what he just said, but Czech always sounds like swear words," Rodney said. "You know, this makes my present to you oddly appropriate." He smirked at John, then dug under the tree again, bringing up a square box the size of a football. "This one's from John to ... Elizabeth."

Elizabeth unwrapped it carefully, but threw the paper properly to the ground. John was going to have to explain that one to Teyla. Elizabeth held up ... a large orange gourd. "Thank you, John," she said, her lips pressed together in smiling distaste. "Just what I always wanted: a reminder of one of my most humiliating moments in Atlantis."

John laughed.

"Are all of your presents gag gifts?" McKay asked.

"Pretty much," John said, bobbing his head.

Radek said, "Open mine next, Doctor Weir." He leaned across Rodney, who insisted, "I've got it, I've got it!" and produced a flat box about the size of a book, beautifully wrapped in blue and silver ribbon.

Elizabeth demurred. "Oh, someone else should go next...."

"No, you have to make up for that one," McKay said, giving John a glare.

Which only made John snicker again. Rodney smacked him on the leg with the riding crop.

"Ow!"

Rodney peered at the riding crop in appreciation. "You know, I'm really starting to enjoy this."

"Thought you'd like it," John said, rubbing his thigh.

"I think you should open Doctor Zelenka's gift," Teyla said. "He seems quite eager."

With a doubtful tilt of her head, Elizabeth said, "All right." The box underneath the blue paper was covered in blue velvet. She opened it to reveal a necklace that glittered in the sun.

John whistled.

"Okay. I think that broke the spending limit...." McKay commented.

"Yeah," John said. "And topped even Ronon."

"Remember the year we speculated Ronon would wrap up raw meat?" Rodney said.

"That he killed himself? Yeah, aside from not wrapping anything, not so much," John said. He nodded to Radek with a smirk. "Why don't you help her out with putting it on?"

"Instigator," Rodney muttered as Radek stood and took the necklace in shaking hands. Elizabeth pulled her hair out of the way, dipping her head forward as he slipped it around her neck.

"Hey. No one told me you guys hid gifts in colored paper." Ronon glowered.

"Sorry, buddy. Holiday customs are hard to translate," John said.

"I still don't get the point," Ronon growled. "You just tear it and throw in on the floor."

"I think it's to build suspense," John said.

"I've noticed that as well," Teyla said, turning to Elizabeth, who still held her hair up as Radek struggled with the clasp. "Is there some special symbolism to throwing paper to the ground?"

"Tearing the paper and throwing it is a sign of, oh, appreciation," Rodney said.

"Mmm ... sort of...." Elizabeth corrected with a wince.

"Oh." Teyla picked up her folded wrapping paper and dropped it on the floor, with a guilty glance at Ronon.

He wrinkled his nose at her. "I understood."

"There." Radek finally had the clasp done. John figured he was doomed when it came to bras, which explained a lot about Radek, actually.

"Those are rare," Ronon noted.

Radek held up a forefinger. "And not a mineral found in our galaxy. It's double-refracting, like diamond and spinel, but it has that silver moonstone sheen."

"Radek, thank you," Elizabeth said, fingering the gems. "Although I have no idea where I'd wear it, since I can't on Earth. Not many state dinners here."

"Oh, don't worry," Radek said. "It would take a gemologist to be able to tell."

And that was Radek's cue to ask her to dinner. Someplace nice. Where she could wear the necklace.

"You should open mine next," Ronon said.

Annnnd ... the moment had passed. Definitely hopeless with more than just bras, it seemed. Rodney met John's gaze and gave him an I-know-what-you're-up-to-but-give-it-up stare. John shrugged. When he was happy, he wanted other people to be happy, too.

"There are nice places in our galaxy you could wear it," John pointed out, and not incidentally giving Radek another opportunity. Rodney rolled his eyes.

"It's that small one." Ronon pointed.

"Oh, yes. More tape than wrapping paper, how would I ever have guessed it was from you?" Rodney said and retrieved it.

"I've had my fair share for now," Elizabeth said, touching then necklace. "And then some."

"They should be opened at the same time," Ronon insisted.

"Oh my God, he's outspent even Radek...." Rodney said.

"It is someone else's turn," Teyla said and placed a hand on Ronon's arm.

"Nope!" Rodney commanded. "I'm curious and I have the Santa hat: I am therefore the God of Christmas--open it!"

"What's the harm?" John shrugged. And Elizabeth unwrapped a pair of glittering, matching earrings.

"We flipped for who got to give you the necklace," Ronon said, nudging his chin in Radek's direction. "He used a double-headed coin."

Radek didn't deny it. "Found them on a mission." He beamed. "We went back for the earrings."

"What are away missions for, if not Christmas shopping?" John said.

Teyla glanced over the remaining pile. "I for one am curious about Colonel Sheppard's gift. Rodney, you said it was ... oddly appropriate?"

"Ah, yes." Rodney held up a finger and disappeared under the Christmas tree. "It's two gifts, actually," he said, his voice muffled. He returned, looking pleased, and handed a small square box and another one the size of a shirt box to Radek, who passed them over to John.

"You complained about spending limits?" Ronon said, eyebrows raised.

But John had the smaller box open before this squabble could start. Rodney grinned and said before John could hold it up, "A dog collar for your dog tags...."

Then John read the note that came with it and burst out laughing. Ronon leaned over to read it.

"Obedience lessons?"

"Let me see that," Elizabeth said. "This is a real course."

"I don't understand." Teyla sounded puzzled.

"On Earth, people keep dogs as pets, but they're often not well-behaved," Elizabeth explained, "So they have to send their pets--and the owners--to obedience classes." Elizabeth glanced at the paper again. "These are in England."

"Only the best," Rodney said. He made an impatient flicking gesture. "Now open the other one."

"I thought you said you had only two gifts for Colonel Sheppard," Teyla observed.

"Those came as a set." Rodney hand-waved the rules.

Radek murmured to Ronon, "He's trying to out-do you through volume."

"I still have this," Rodney said, waving the riding crop. "And it's not a competition! Besides, mine tops both of yours in that it demonstrates--with pinpoint accuracy--what the colonel would actually appreciate."

"Not that it's a competition or anything ... oh." John held up the leather harness. "Wow."

"What is it?" Teyla asked.

"A climbing harness," John said with something close to awe as he held it higher. The O-rings jingled and the leg loops dangled free.

Rodney had reached stratospheric levels of smug. "There are some cliffs on the continent, and you mentioned you've climbed Rainier, though I'm told that's really just a walk up and not the real thing...."

"Heck with the continent. I'm climbing Atlantis," John said.

Elizabeth sagged in her chair. John noted she had her earrings on now. "Wonderful. Another way for John Sheppard to risk his neck. I'm surprised at you, Rodney. You're usually trying to rein him in."

"That," Rodney said with stab of his finger and a gleam in his eye, "Is what the obedience classes are for."

"Well, someone hasn't opened a single one of his presents," Elizabeth pointed out. "Again."

They all turned to Ronon.

"It's a season for giving," Ronon said, looking around the room for exits.

They all laughed. Inexplicably, Ronon hated receiving presents almost as much as he loved giving them. Naturally, the group went out of their way to give him a lot: big ones, small ones, just so long as he was unwrapping for what seemed like forever. John's gift had four boxes within a box, all five of them wrapped. The Atlantis members were all wired a little strangely, John had to admit.

McKay, of course, handed his own present to Ronon first. Ronon turned the little box over in his hands. He leaned closer to John in trepidation, like he had a bomb. "Do I get a lump of coal?"

"Only if you're very, very lucky," John said in a stage whisper.

~*~*~

Back in his quarters, John curled up on his bed in a haze of eggnog- and sugar-induced happiness. He had new magazines and another private Christmas party to enjoy. The door chime rang, and the door hummed open without even pausing for John to respond.

"Okay, where is it?" Rodney asked, bouncing on his toes eagerly.

"What are you talking about?"

"There's no way you only bought me one measly present, and a gag gift at that. C'mon, out with it," Rodney said, wiggling grabby fingers.

"Well, that riding crop does seem to have come in handy...."

"You only get to make that pun once," Rodney sneered.

John relented and nudged his nose in the direction of a wrapped round canister on the shelf over his desk. "I didn't want to be too obvious by giving you more than one gift," John said with a pointed stare.

Rodney brushed away the complaint. "I always overdo it."

"So does Radek," John sighed. "Every year."

"Yes. You might try sending them each anonymous love letters, signed 'Your Secret Admirer,'" Rodney said, fetching the canister, "with big X's and O's. Then you can arrange a meeting. By the time they figure out neither wrote the letters, they'll be head over heels."

"Yeah. I saw that in a romantic comedy once... didn't work out. I think the girl who wrote the notes ended up involved with one of them...." John said.

"I'll miss you," Rodney off-handedly, stripping wrapping paper away with quick efficiency. "What is...?" He pulled it out by the leather strap. Purple leather tails swung in the air. The silence was audible.

"Remember those slavers we dumped on that planet without a gate? I got some shopping tips from them first." Now it was John's turn to be smug.

"Your ruthlessness knows no bounds," said Rodney. He stroked the buttery leather of the expertly turned flogger. The handle was hand-braided.

"Yeah. The tanner who made it couldn't understand why I wanted over twenty-five tails in such a soft leather. Said it would barely make a mark."

"You didn't drop him in the middle of nowhere too, did you?" Rodney asked. He lifted the flogger and spun it. The tails fanned out evenly. It was perfectly balanced.

"Nah. He's an artist," John said. "Besides, he made other things. Reins, saddles, shoes...."

"Can't deprive the galaxy of a shoe salesmen," Rodney said.

"Absolutely."

Rodney gave the flogger an experimental flick.

"So," John said, his throat going a little dry. "Do I get my obedience lessons now?"

"Strip," Rodney said, turning to John abruptly. "I want to see you in that harness. Maybe we can do a hook from the ceiling... hmm...." He peered up at it, stroking his chin like the evil genius he was, clearly making rapid mental calculations.

"I was serious about climbing Atlantis. There are handholds down the towers but I was worried about all the overhangs...." John said, pulling his shirt over his head.

Rodney went goggle-eyed. "Don't you dare!"

"We're not in a scene right now," John said, chest out as he crowded into Rodney's space. "You don't get to order me around." Then he gave Rodney his best smoky-eyed smile. "Yet."
Tags: genre: slash, pairing: mckay/sheppard
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