Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters or places therein.
Spoilers: McKay and Mrs. Miller (mostly just the characters of McKay's family)
A/N: Ok, I totally wrote this for the McKay/Teyla Thing-a-thon in, like, April and then forgot to post it here. Silly me. Anyway, this was written for xsleeptodream who wanted the story to have: Festival, on Earth, and snow. Not really romance, but hinting at future romance.
Rodney McKay was ashamed to admit that he had not actually known that Teyla was also on the Daedalus until the fourth day of the journey to Earth. It was only when she set her tray down across the mess hall table from him that he stuttered a surprised hello. He had planned to talk around the fact that he had thought she was staying on Atlantis with Sheppard, or going to that harvest-festival thing on M36-753 with Ronon. Unfortunately, his mouth had other ideas, and so the first thing he blurted out was: "Why are you going to Earth?"
Teyla, being Teyla, did not take offense at his bluntness. She just smiled and replied, "Sergeant Janowski invited me to her family's Christmas celebration."
Rodney started at her. "Janowski…"
"I spar with her and several of her teammates on a regular basis."
"Er, right. Well, have fun with that."
Teyla finished chewing her broccoli. "Are you going to be staying with your sister?"
Rodney nodded, his eyes participating in a staring contest with his sandwich. "I told her it would be too much trouble, what with the baby on the way, but she insisted. Loudly." He had not been around much when Jeannie had been pregnant with Madison, so he was a little (alright, very) nervous about dealing with his sister. Especially after all the horror stories you hear about hormones and emotions, both of which Rodney was not good at dealing with.
"How are she and the baby doing?"
What was it Jeannie had mentioned in her last letter? "Um, I think the doctors put her on bed rest. Something about slow fetal growth. But it sounds like it's not a big problem; they just don't want to take any chances."
The Athosian woman's hand brushed his slightly. "I am glad they are both well."
It was suddenly very uncomfortable talking about babies and pregnancies with his very beautiful and very female teammate, so Rodney tried to change the subject in his own, and somewhat endearing, babbling way. Teyla, luckily, took the hint and they began talking about their last mission where the mountain caved in on Rodney and Ronon. The physicist actually enjoyed himself; it was unusual for him and Teyla to have time by themselves, without their other two teammates. It was…nice.
During the remaining two weeks of the journey, Rodney found himself spending more time with Teyla. It was not like they hadn't talked before; it was just that, usually, Ronon and Sheppard were there as well. Though, it was Teyla who tended to pay attention to his scientific lectures on missions (which had saved them more than once when Rodney was incapacitated). And Teyla was also the one who took Rodney's side when Sheppard or Ronon's teasing remarks became a little too harsh, not just because she disapproved, but because she saw his hurt. Teyla was the one who always made sure he was alright after a particularly hard mission, made sure he got something to eat when he holed himself up in the labs, knew when he wanted to be left alone and when he needed to talk and rant. To his amazement, Rodney realized that Teyla cared for him, not just as a teammate, but as a friend.
Rodney, unfortunately, came to this realization the moment the Daedalus beamed them into the SGC. Fortunately, no one noticed the dazed expression on his face as he wandered to one of the labs on base. The scientist sat down and began tinkering with some experiment, his mind on this recent revelation. Rodney knew there were not many people he would consider friends. Carson Beckett was one, though the Scot seemed to be friends with pretty much everyone. Sheppard, he figured, could also be considered a friend, even after those few tense and distant months after Doranda. Rodney used to think that Elizabeth Weir, leader of the Atlantis expedition, could possibly be his friend, though lately she seemed to care only for Sheppard's company.
Teyla, Ronon, and, previously, Ford, were all teammates, but Rodney had never truly considered them friends. 'Friend' was a precious title that Rodney hoarded jealously, not willing to give it to someone who would throw it back in his face. Teammates cared for each other, would be willing to die for one another, but even between teammates there were walls and masks. A friend, though, saw through the mask and still cared. And now, he recognized that Teyla was a friend. Somehow, she had wormed her way past his defenses to become something more.
Rodney frowned. Teyla was his friend. Now what?
Teyla frowned as she walked down the halls of the SGC, ruminating over her meeting with General Landry. Apparently, Amy Janowski's team was stuck off world for the holidays, having somehow ended up having to participate in the native people's religious ceremonies. Now, Teyla was on Earth with no place to stay except the grey walls of the SGC. It was a disappointing end to what had started out as a very nice trip.
A smile quirked onto Teyla's face as she heard a loud, familiar voice floating down the hall. She had thoroughly enjoyed the long journey to Earth. Though Teyla knew others, including her own teammates, would be surprised that she could stand two entire weeks in Rodney's presence, it was true. The physicist might be brash and somewhat arrogant, but Teyla considered him a good friend and a kind man, beneath the rough exterior.
Teyla's thoughts were interrupted when she stopped next to the door of Rodney's temporary lab, and heard him talking on the telephone. "Yah, I'm heading out in a few hours."
When he caught sight of her standing in the doorway, Rodney's eyes lit up in surprise, but he motioned her in as he continued the conversation. "I just need to get things settled here." A pause. "Yes, I remembered to get a gift for Madison, I'm not an idiot!" Teyla hid a grin at his petulant look. "Can you hold on a sec, Jeannie? I have a call on the other line." He pushed a button on the base phone. "Dr. Rodney McKay, this better be…what? You did what!?! Don't touch anything, I'll be right down." He switched back to his sister. "Hey Jeannie, can you hold on a little longer, I need to go save the world again. Er, here, talk to Teyla."
Before she could figure out what was going on, the phone was in her hands. "Here, can you talk to Jeannie? Thanks," was all Rodney said before dashing out of the room.
Puzzled, Teyla lifted the phone to her ear. "Hello?"
"Hi, Teyla. Let me guess, Mer shoved the phone at you without a 'please' or 'thank you'?"
Teyla smiled. She had liked Jeannie Miller when they had met before. The blonde woman reminded Teyla of a softer, more social Rodney. "He did say 'thank you' before he left. I presume one of the other scientists has run into some sort of problem."
The two women enjoyed a nice conversation for at least another half hour before the subject of Teyla's trip to Earth came up. Jeannie actually brought it up first. "So, what are you planning on doing while you're here?"
Teyla sighed. "I had planned on staying with a friend and her family, but she is off-world for the foreseeable future. I suppose I will be staying on base until the Daedalus leaves again."
One could almost hear the frown across the phone line. "Well, that's not right. No one should be stuck there for Christmas. Why don't you come with Mer and stay with us?"
"Oh no, I could not presume to interfere with your family's holiday celebration," she answered as Rodney entered the room again.
Jeannie was not having any excuses. "It's not a problem. Is Mer there yet?"
"Yes, he has just walked in."
"Put him on the speaker phone, would you?"
Unsure of what to do, Teyla handed the phone to Rodney. "Jeannie wishes to be put on speaker phone.
"What? Er, ok."
Rodney hesitantly did as he was told, and Jeannie's voice came out loud in the room. "Mer, Teyla's plans fell through, so invite her to come with you."
There was a slightly panicked look in Rodney's eyes as they darted back and forth between the phone and his Athosian teammate. "Are you sure, I mean…"
Teyla tried to take pity on his uneasiness. "It is truly not necessary…"
Jeannie interrupted before either could say more. "Hey, we have plenty of room, and Madison would love to meet you, Teyla. She's always asking for stories about her Uncle Mer and his friends" They heard a small voice in the background screech something that vaguely resembled 'Uncle Mer'. Jeannie laughed. "See? She's already excited."
Rodney could tell that he was not going to win this argument, and, actually, he wondered if he really wanted to win. "Alright, alright." He looked over at Teyla, his eyes not quite meeting hers. "So, you want to come?"
Teyla ignored Jeannie's sarcastic 'Oh, very smooth' remark, and smiled. "I would love to accompany you, Rodney."
And, somehow, Rodney found himself smiling back.
It was a very exhausted looking Caleb Miller who opened the door to let in Rodney and Teyla. Rodney, despite having spent the previous Thanksgiving with him, was still somewhat unsure about his brother-in-law, and gave a half-hearted smile and a hello before introducing his companion. Teyla, though a little hesitant herself, was able to great Caleb kindly. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Miller. I appreciate the invitation to your home. I hope I am not placing a burden on you or your family."
Caleb was waving away her concerns with a smile, as a blur of pink and blonde squealed by him and attached itself to Rodney's legs. "Uncle Mer!"
Teyla hid a laugh at the slightly panicked look on Rodney's face. "Um, hello there, Madison. It's, uh, good to see you again too. You can let go of me now."
She shook her small blonde head, eyes staring at her uncle in glee, and tightened her grip defiantly. Rodney gave Teyla a look of helplessness, and she decided to help him out. Squatting next to the little girl, Teyla held out a hand. "If you don't let go, Madison, your Uncle Mer will not be able to get your present for you."
Madison squeaked in delight and detached from a relieved Rodney before excitedly grabbing Teyla's hand. "I get a present? But it's not Christmas yet."
Rodney dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out a small, leather bag. "Here. It's candy from…where I work."
The girl happily grabbed the bag, shouted a 'thank you', and dashed into the other room, yelling, "Look Mommy! Uncle Mer brought me candy."
Jeannie's voice drifted out of the room. "Thanks, Mer, for giving my daughter even more sugar than she's had after frosting cookies."
Following Caleb into the other room, Rodney let a grin spread on his face as he approached his sister's bed. "Of course. What are big brothers for?"
Jeannie gave him a false glare, and then turned her attention towards her other guess. "Teyla, welcome to my house. Sorry I can't get up and greet you personally." Indeed, under the added weight of her pregnancy, as well as the massive amounts of quilts covering her, it looked unlikely that she could have gotten up, even if the doctors had not sternly warned against it.
Teyla smiled and walked to Jeannie's side. Placing her hands on the blonde woman's shoulders, Teyla leaned over to touch her head to Jeannie's in the traditional Athosian greeting. "Thank you for your invitation. I am just sorry that you have not had much time to prepare for an extra guest."
"Don't be too sorry. You're the one who has to deal with my brother and my hyper daughter for the holidays."
Rodney caught the unfavorable comparison. "Hey! I'm not as bad as a kid strung out on sugar."
Jeannie and Teyla just giggled.
Teyla noticed, in the first few days she stayed with the Millers, that Caleb was nearing complete exhaustion, what with dealing with work, Christmas preparations, an incredibly hyper-active child, and Rodney's rather…different personality. Coupled with Jeannie being stuck in bed, Caleb seemed headed for a breakdown. Even Rodney noticed, which was why he did not protest (too much) when Teyla volunteered them both to take Madison to the Christmas parade, so that Caleb could have some time to relax and reboot.
Rodney glared at the people around him. He hated being jostled in large, smelly crowds. Teyla, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind, and was enjoying watching the floats go by. When she noticed Rodney grumbling, she gently squeezed his arm to gain his attention. "Rodney, may I ask a question?"
"You just did." Rodney smiled slightly at her mock-glare. "Sorry, what's your question?"
"Why do the elves wear bells on their shoes? It does not seem very prudent for them to announce their presence to any enemy that may be nearby."
Frankly, Rodney had never given the bells much thought, other than a bitter annoyance at the constant jingling. "Well, for one thing, elves aren't real."
Teyla nodded. "But they are creatures of your ancient tales. Are not these tales for teaching children in the ways and customs of your people? It would not be sensible to teach them to emulate these noisy creatures."
"Er, the stories of Santa and the elves don't really have much meaning to them, other then, maybe, giving stuff to other people is good. Though, mostly, it just gives kids an excuse to be spoiled rotten with useless toys and candy." He looked down the street in the direction the floats were coming from. "And speaking of candy…"
Teyla followed his eye-line and saw another group of elves walking beside an upcoming float, throwing candy on the street. Large groups of children scrambled to pick up as much as possible.
Rodney, to Teyla's surprise, squatted down next to Madison who was watching the parade with wide eyes. "Hey, squirt. As soon as you see the elf-person pulling his hand from the sack, I want you to run into the street. It'll give you a head start on the other kids to get to the candy. Got it?" At Madison's eager nod, Rodney smiled and patted her awkwardly on her head. "Good. And maybe you'll share some with your Uncle Rodney, eh?"
Madison, following her uncle's advice, was the first one to the candy, since most of the other parents were holding their children back until the candy hit the ground. Teyla swatted Rodney's arm as he 'accidentally' tripped one of the boys heading into the street.
He gave her a wounded-puppy look. "What, the kid's practically through puberty. The younger brats should have first dibs."
While Teyla did roll her eyes, she actually found it quite sweet of Rodney to try and help the littler children, in his own way. And, when Madison came skipping back to them, her hands full of candy, she thought the proud grin on Rodney's face was worth having to apologize profusely to an angry mother who was not so understanding of her son's bloody lip. Probably.
To his own immense surprise, Rodney found himself actually enjoying the Christmas parade. Watching Madison squeal happily as the floats went by, waving at the people dressed as Christmas trees, made him think that kids weren't quite as annoying as he once thought. He also found himself explaining things to Teyla, who, despite years of contact with Earthlings, still had questions about things such as high school band instruments and giant nutcrackers. Rodney was in the middle of explaining the physical impossibility of Santa Claus being able to visit every single child's house in one night when he noticed that Teyla was frowning, an abrupt difference from the bright smile that had graced her face before. "What? What's wrong?"
Teyla shook her head roughly, and forced herself to smile. "Nothing. I am fine."
Rodney furrowed his eyebrows, but decided to let it go. One thing he had learned on this trip, was that Teyla did not like being pushed into answering questions that she did not want to answer. So, instead, he turned his attention back to the parade. And just in time too. "Oh, hey! Look, Madison, it's Santa!" Honestly, Rodney could not believe he was participating in furthering the belief in a fictional character that would lead to inevitable disappointment on Madison's part when she realized that Santa wasn't real, but Jeannie had threatened him with massive bodily harmed if he destroyed her daughter's Christmas, so he played along. He ignored the fact that it was slightly, well, fun to watch Madison's excitement.
Santa was, in fact, on the last float of the parade, so after that past, Teyla took Madison's hand, and the three began walking back to the car. They had parked rather far away, due to the crowds, so they had to walk across Mill's Park. As Madison chattered away, mostly to herself, Rodney watched Teyla as she walked next to him. She still seemed…off, clinging more tightly than necessary to Madison's hand. "You sure you're ok?" he asked softly.
Through her training, Teyla managed not to jump at his voice. She was ready to reiterate that she was fine, but she caught the worried look in his eyes. Teyla thought back to all that Rodney had shared with her on this trip. On the Daedalus, he had even told her a little about his family and his childhood, something she knew he shared with very few people. It just did not seem fair, now, for her to hide from him. "It is the snow."
Rodney had not actually noticed that the snow, which had started during the parade, was now a few centimeters thick on the ground. Snow was a fact of life for him, growing up in Canada and living in mostly cold, snowy climates. "What about the snow?"
"On Athos, white is a symbol of death." Teyla looked at Rodney through the corner of her eye. "You understand why."
Rodney nodded. "The Wraith." He figured he was safe talking about them; there wasn't anyone else, really, nearby.
"Yes." She paused before continuing. "Snow is very rare on Athos. While it gets cold, the weather conditions are rarely such that we have snow. It only happens every few years." Another pause. "And it often coincides with the coming of the Wraith. We learn at a young age to be watchful when the snow falls."
Teyla watched as Rodney processed this in his genius mind. She found that she could almost see his thought process, and was puzzled when he reached a conclusion and actually smiled. He stopped, and leaned over to take Madison's hand from Teyla. The Athosian lifted an eyebrow in confusion as Rodney whispered in his niece's ear. A smile spread on the girl's face and she nodded eagerly at whatever her uncle was saying.
Rodney then took one of Teyla's hands and Madison took the other, both pulling gently until her arms were outstretched. "Alright, Teyla, on the count of three, fall backwards."
Teyla frowned at her friend. "Rodney…"
"Please explain what you are doing."
Teyla found herself being pulled backwards and landing in the snow. She shivered, and not just from the cold. She heard Rodney's voice continuing his instruction. "Now, wave your arms up and down and your legs to the side."
Still confused, and slightly hurt, at Rodney's strange reaction to her confession, Teyla lifted her head and saw that both Rodney and Madison where flailing their limbs in some bizarre pattern. Sighing in resignation, Teyla followed their example.
"Ok, now, stand up."
Madison chimed in. "And don't step in it, you'll mess it up."
Teyla slowly stood with her two companions. Rodney, grinning, pointed behind her. "Look."
She turned and saw three impressions on the snow-covered ground. Madison, still holding her hand, had a grin on her face that matched her uncle's. "They're snow angels! Uncle Mer said you had never made a snow angel before, and you have to make a snow angel. It's a rule."
Teyla thought back to the stories she had heard about this Christmas holiday and angels. They were important creatures, but she could not remember much else. Rodney seemed to sense her thoughts and offered an explanation. "Angels are supposedly supernatural beings in some of the religions of Earth. There're different kinds, like avenging angels, and angels of death, and such, but Christmas angels are usually angels of peace and protection. You'll have to ask Elizabeth for details, but I guess you could relate them to Ascended Ancients who would actually try to help us 'lowly mortals'."
Rodney was glad to see that Teyla seemed to be following his explanation. He wasn't very good at this cultural anthropology thing, and certainly not comfortable with explaining anything other than physics. Still, he was a genius, so he figured he could do this as well. Keeping an eye on Madison, who had already tired of the conversation and was now trying to build a snowman, Rodney continued. "Anyway, somehow people figured out that you could make an outline of an angel in the snow, like we just did. When I was a kid…I loved playing in the snow: building snowmen, snowball fights, and making snow angels. I always figured…"
Teyla watched as Rodney's cheeks reddened, and knew it was not from the cold. She took his hand and squeezed it, encouraging him to continue, knowing how uncomfortable Rodney was at sharing something so personal.
"I always figured that snow was like a new beginning. Everything was covered in a blanket of snow, and it was…it was like a sheet of paper ready to have physics equations written on it, a new idea, only it was snow angels instead of numbers, but hey." The blush deepened, and Rodney began babbling. "It's silly, I know. I mean, I bet a lot of cultures associate snow with death; it's dangerous, and kills people, and I was just a kid, and what do kids know?" He stopped talking when Teyla held her hand up for silence.
It was Teyla's turn to process new information. She watched as Madison happily packed snow onto her rapidly growing snowman, unmindful of her surroundings, innocent. She looked at the field of snow around her, its whiteness making the night seem less dark.
Teyla looked up at Rodney and smiled. "I like your suggestion better."
Rodney looked surprised that she had actually understood his ramblings. "Really?"
She nodded, and moved to a clean patch of snow. "And now, I would like to make a new beginning by creating another snow angel." So they did, and as Teyla looked up at the night sky and watched the white flakes falling on her, the ever-present fear of the pale Wraith was pushed away, and she felt warm despite the cold…
…until a giant clump of snow landed on her face. She sputtered and, hearing Rodney's
outraged cry beside her, deduced that the guilty party was one Madison Miller, age five. Sitting up, she saw that the little blonde-haired girl was giggling and patted together another clump of snow. Teyla glanced at Rodney, who was glaring at his niece, a face ruined slightly by the smile trying to twitch its way to his lips.
Rodney looked over at her, a wicked gleam coming to his eyes. "So she wants a snowball fight, does she?" Madison giggled again.
Teyla gave him a conspiring grin. "I believe, then, that we should acquiesce to her wish," she answered, and leaned over to begin packing the soft snow.
By the time they returned to the Miller's house, the three were cold, wet, and tired. But there were smiles on all three faces.
"Tough luck on your vacation."
Teyla looked up from her food and raised an eyebrow at Colonel Sheppard, who was sitting across from her at the team table in the Atlantis mess hall. "Tough luck?"
Ronon, who was sitting next to Sheppard, nodded in agreement. "Yah, on having to spend all that time on the Daedalus with only McKay for company."
"Hey!" came Rodney's offended exclamation from where he sat next to Teyla. Though, it sounded more like an "Ehw", since his mouth was presently full of mashed potatoes.
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Point made. And not only that, your friend canceled Christmas on you and you had to spend the entire three weeks with McKay. And then you spent Christmas morning waiting on an ambulance with a pregnant woman in labor and a hysterical 5-year old because the two people who could drive to the hospital had fainted."
Rodney glared at his friend. "We passed out…from manly exhaustion." In fact, only Caleb could claim that exhaustion contributed to his state of unconsciousness during his wife's labor, but McKay wasn't about to admit that.
"Sure you did." Sheppard shrugged and began cutting the we-think-it's-like-steak that was the day's entrée. "Anyway, like I said, sorry you had such a rotten vacation."
Teyla calmly pulled back the tab on her pudding cup and gracefully dipped her spoon in the chocolate desert. "I actually quite enjoyed my vacation."
Ronon looked doubtful, and ignored the smug look on Rodney's face. "Really?"
She nodded, saying, "Rodney can be very pleasant company, and his family is wonderful. As well, it is always a delight to witness the entrance of a new being into the world." Teyla looked sideways at Rodney, and smiled. "And I got to learn about snow angels and new beginnings."
Rodney matched her smile with his own. Sheppard and Ronon exchanged slightly confused glances before shrugging and deciding that their own food was more interesting and less strange than their teammates. Together, the four finished their pudding cups, before parting ways to continue with their normal routine.
And when the next planet they gated to was in the middle of a snowy winter, no one was surprised when they left behind two snow angels lying next to each other on the white field.