"The whole city is really throwing themselves into Valentines." Elizabeth said casually, looking around at the hearts pasted to, and hanging from, the walls and ceilings of the mess hall. "I didn't think it would catch on like this."
"They're idiots." McKay mumbled, not looking up from his laptop, his fork swirling round and round in his spaghetti. "And how the hell did they get the hearts on the ceiling anyway?" With that he looked up at the hearts, then at Elizabeth. "What?"
"I bet you're just a hoot at Christmas." She tried not to smile, she really did.
"No," he said, pointing his fork at her and almost throwing spaghetti at her, "I like Christmas, Thanksgiving, even Easter. Food and presents and everyone takes the day off giving me," he pointed the fork at himself and some sauce hit his shirt, "some peace to work." She tried to hold in some laughter.
"You just don't like Valentines Day?"
"No, it's a con, created by Hallmark to suck us out of our money and make people ultimately feel bad for being left out because society regards beauty a better asset than intelligence." He spat the words out making Elizabeth jump a little in surprise. Rodney McKay hadn't really enjoyed high school, she knew that, he was a lot younger and a lot smarter than everyone in his class, he'd told her so and she assumed he was just as socially awkward back then as he was now.
"Actually, Valentines Day was the Catholic Church's attempt to paper over a popular pagan fertility rite." She told him, smiling at him, her expression soft to try and make him feel better about the whole thing. She was starting to wish she hadn't even suggested the city celebrating Valentines Day.
"Oh." He looked down and saw the stain on his shirt and frowned at it, as it would make it go away. "I bet you still get Valentines cards every year." He said, quietly. She opened her mouth to speak but hesitated, what was he trying to say. That she was smart, that she was beautiful? That she was smart and beautiful?
She didn't get the chance to ask, and picked up his half eaten lunch, his lap top and stood up.
"Anyway," he said, not looking at her directly, "it was a good idea if it makes some people happy." He wanted to say, just not me, but didn't and kept his mouth shut for once. "I'm going back to my lab before someone starts suggesting Valentines Day meals, like animal heart stew or something disgusting like that." He smiled, forced and awkward, and when he walked away Elizabeth groaned. It had been an idea, just something that she thought would cheer everyone up after a particularly bad few weeks. Something to help them bond a little more with the Athosians, show them something from Earth's culture. She hadn't wanted anyone to feel hurt, especially not Rodney.
Who, in his own way, had just told her she was smart and beautiful.
Valentine's Day was a blur of red and laughing and burgers cut into heart shapes. Which, Rodney disapproved of because he was loosing out on some burger and therefore missing out on some vital nutrients. There was kissing and cards and Elizabeth had even let Chuck drape a paper chain of hearts from the main console.
Everyone had the day off though, a last minute adjustment to Elizabeth's idea, so he got to work in peace. He knew she done it just for him, and was grateful of it, if only he could wipe the smile of Carson's face as well and shred the man's cards. He had luckily avoided seeing Sheppard all day and now it was finally over.
Except when he walked into his quarters someone had been there and left red envelope on his desk.
He grumbled to himself, wondering who had decided to play a little joke on him, and what exactly the joke would be and while he just wanted to go to sleep and ignore it, he knew he'd be thinking about it all night (morning, now) so he grabbed and ripped it open, stopping confused when he pulled out a Christmas card printed and folded on paper, made straight out the clip art gallery.
He smiled when realisation hit him. He didn't even need to open it see who it was from. But he did, and saw her neat handwriting covering the page.
Rodney, Happy Valentines Day, I hope you enjoyed the peace and quiet, love Elizabeth.
No kisses, but the word love was written so perfectly that he had to wonder. She always made him wonder. But that was for another day, another morning, not this morning at 3am and he went to sleep with a smile on his face for the first time on a Valentines Day his card sitting upright on his bedside cabinet.