My apologies for taking so long to get back to this story. Between the holidays, studying for my exam so I can get my teaching credentials, and preparing for my next art show, my time has been a limited. But here it is – finally. Enjoy.
The Christmas Trip
Dragonlots aka Dana Bell
Jeanie woke with a crick in her neck. She reached up to rub the tight muscle and groaned.
"Morning, Sweetheart," Kaleb greeted.
"Mornin'," she mumbled back.
The rich aroma filled the cabin and she smiled. "Thanks."
"Momma!" Madison hugged her. Her daughter still wore her pink robe with Hello Kitty on it. "Can we hang my Santa Stocking?"
Her husband laughed. "Let's give mommy a few minutes to wake up. Come here and finish breakfast."
"Daddy," she groaned.
Reluctantly their daughter trudged over the rug covered floor and retook her place at the table.
He winked at her and busied himself in the kitchen. "Your omelet will be ready in a few minutes."
She tossed aside the afghan and hurried into the small bathroom. It had been the one modern convenience her parents had added. Jeanie washed up and quickly changed into jeans and bright red sweater. She ran a brush through her hair and decided against make up. It wasn't like her husband hadn't seen her face without it. In fact, he seemed to prefer her that way.
"Your breakfast is ready!" Kaleb called from the kitchen.
She rejoined her family at the table. Her husband placed her omelet before her and poured her a mug of coffee. "Thank you," she told him. It never hurt to thank him for the little things he did for her.
She watched him walk back to the kitchen. She always admired his butt in tight jeans. He even wore the red checked flannel shirt she liked.
"The hot chocolate?" she asked, though she was fairly certain he'd already started it.
"Got the water on and the cookie batter is mixed and chilling."
"Why do we have to chill the batter?" Madison asked.
"Make's it easier to roll and holds together while we're cutting shapes," she told her daughter.
"Okay." Her daughter scooped a big bite of oatmeal and put it in her mouth.
"Aren't we going to," Jeanie began.
"Daddy said grace earlier," Madison explained.
"Sorry. Should I have waited?" Kaleb sat down with his omelet and coffee.
"No. That's okay." Funny, she hadn't thought the new ritual they'd added recently meant so much to her.
Her head jerked up. "It has?"
"It'll take awhile to dig out though." He cut into his food. "And the road is going to be impassable."
"Well," she sipped her coffee. "We had planned to spend Christmas here. Guess it doesn't matter if we can get out or not."
"Can Santa get here?" Her daughter's worried face looked up.
"Santa has more snow than anyone," Kaleb replied. "He can get anywhere with his reindeer and sleigh."
"Good." She settled down to finish her breakfast.
Jeanie smiled her thanks to her husband and worked on her breakfast.
"Has everyone been recalled?" Dr. Weir inquired.
"Almost," Colonel Caldwell told her. "There's been a storm over the Colorado Rockies and it's played havoc with our scanners.
"And here we thought the superior technology had no bugs."
"The storm is supposed to let up this morning. We'll try searching for them as soon as it does."
"Thank you, Colonel. Look forward to seeing you back on Atlantis."
He smiled. "Deadalus out."
"I have a rabbit prepared," Teyla informed Rodney and Katie as they stirred.
"She's very industrious," John quipped by his place by the fireplace. "Got up before I did and had already caught our breakfast."
"How thoughtful," Rodney grumbled.
"Thank you, Teyla." Katie crawled out of the warm drapes and brushed at her clothes. Dust fell to the floor. "I need a bath."
"Can't do much about that right now," John said.
Rodney's eyes drifted to the spit Teyla had designed. The meat smelled wonderful. "I don't think I'll ever be able to look a rabbit in the face again."
"It is food." Teyla seemed puzzled.
"Some people keep rabbits for pets," John explained.
"Somehow I doubt you do, but that's okay." Rodney couldn't help it. When he was hungry he tended to be grouchy.
Katie threw a look at him. "Be nice, Rodney."
He started aware that was the first time she'd done something almost wife like. Swallowing nervously he shook his clothes and wrinkled his nose. He smelled musty and rank. "Too bad there aren't showers."
"Even if there were," John answered. "We don't have any clean clothes so it wouldn't do us much good."
Rodney conceded the point. "You're right." He glanced out the window. "Hey, it's not snowing."
They all hurried to look out. The sky overhead was blue with a whisper of clouds. Snow sparkled everywhere and almost as one they backed away from the brightness.
"Too bad the phone won't work." John went back to sit by the fire.
"No reception? Are you sure?" Rodney hoped they weren't stuck here.
"Yeah, I'm sure." He handed the phone to the scientist. "See?"
There was no signal. McKay frowned. "If I had some tools, I might be able to fix that."
"I doubt it, Rodney." John accepted a slice of rabbit. "Thanks, Teyla."
She glowed and gave some to Rodney and Katie before taking some herself.
Katie sat on the drapes and nibbled at the hot meat. Rodney took one of the chairs and twiddled with the phone. There had to be a way to get a signal out.
"Might as well forget it," John said. "We're going to have to wait to be rescued."
"I don't intend to be here next spring," Rodney snapped back.
"Caldwell will be looking for us before that. Remember, we were only supposed to be gone for two maybe three weeks."
A groan escaped him. "We might have to spend Christmas here!"
John grinned. "At least you're with friends."
Madison bounced over to the fireplace and with her father's help, hung her stocking on the mantle for Santa to fill. Jeanie sat in the rocker and happily watched them. A cup of hot chocolate steamed next to her on the end table along with a plate of sugar cookies.
"See, Mommy!" Madison proudly stood next to her stocking as Kaleb snapped a picture.
"Your turn." He turned and took a shot of her.
"Kaleb!" she objected. "I look awful!"
"You look beautiful." He leaned down and gave her a quick kiss. "Even with a bit of flour in your hair."
"And you took a picture?" She jumped up and tried to wrestle the camera away from him. He kept it out her reach and ensnared her next to him with the other.
"I love you, Jeanie." Her husband planted another kiss on her lips.
"Love you, too." She laughed and gave him a kiss. "I'll get even with you for that picture."
"Naw. You'll treasure it." He pulled her to the fireplace and showed Madison how to take a picture. Their daughter complied and handed the camera back. "Now, you have more memories to keep."
Jeanie put her head on his shoulder. She couldn't remember when she'd been happier. Even if Rodney didn't arrive in time for Christmas, her family would enjoy the holiday.
"I want to do this every year!" Madison shouted as she dashed to the end table to snag a cookie.
"Careful, don't spill my hot chocolate." Jeanie couldn't help herself. She loved being a mom.
Kaleb held her tight. She relaxed next to him thinking how perfect it all was and how she wouldn't trade her family for anything.
"Storm has cleared," one the techs reported.
"Excellent." Caldwell stared out the view port to the blue white orb that was Earth. "Commence scanning for implants."
With any luck, they'd locate McKay and Sheppard and beam them aboard.
"Found them, sir." The tech sounded puzzled. "They're not where we thought they'd be."
The colonel hit a control. "Hermiod, beam them aboard."
"I really hope we don't have to spend Christmas here," Rodney repeated.
"You make it sound like spending time with us is a horrible fate, McKay." John hooked his fingers behind his head. "You could be in a worse place."
"I could but," whatever Rodney was going to retort got lost in the bright flash that enveloped them all. Moments later they were standing in the ring area of the Deadalus. "They found us!"
"There you are," Zelinka said in his pronounced accent. "We've been recalled and searching for you, all of you," he added looking over the group, "for several days."
"At least you found us!" Rodney grinned widely.
"What's going on?" John asked.
"We were all recalled. Not sure why."
"We need to take Katie to the infirmary," Teyla reminded them. "Her ribs need to be attended to."
McKay felt like slapping himself. He'd been so happy about being rescued he'd forgotten Katie needed medical attention. "I'll take her," he offered.
The red head gave him a grateful smile. "I'd like that."
He put his arm around her and led her away, stealing one glance over his shoulder. John and Teyla were earnestly talking with Zelinka and he found it amusing John held the Athosian woman's hand.
"They make a good couple," Katie said.
"Yeah. They do."
Once they reached the infirmary he was overjoyed to see Dr. Beckett. "Carson, Katie is hurt!"
"Put her there," he pointed to a bed, "and I'll have a look see." Expertly he examined her. "Who wrapped her ribs?"
"Teyla," Rodney nervously replied. "She's going to all right, right?"
"She'll be fine," Carson reassured him. "Now, why don't you go get cleaned up and bite to eat while I settle Katie."
"Okay." He took Katie's hand and kissed it. "I'll be back before you miss me."
She gave him a tired smile.
When he came back about an hour later, the Deadalus was on its way back to the Pegasus galaxy. Rodney had had a shower, changed into clean clothes and stopped by the mess hall for a turkey sandwich and a cup of hot coffee. After a meager fare while they'd been stranded, the simple meal had seemed like a banquet.
"Hi, Katie," he greeted as he came to stand beside her bed.
"Hi, Rodney." She looked beautiful and it took his breath away.
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay. Dr. Beckett says since Teyla did such a good job there shouldn't be any complications."
"Good. Glad to hear it." He shifted from one foot to the other.
"Uh, no." Even to his ears he sounded lame.
"I'm fine, Rodney." She reached out and took his hand.
"Then what's wrong?"
Her face turned a dark shade of pink. "Thank you."
"You know, one day, I might," he stopped himself before he made a fool of himself.
"Uh, I might, uh." He could feel his face burning.
Katie pulled her lips in trying not to laugh and her action made his face hotter.
"I care a great deal about you, Katie," he finally managed.
"And I care about you."
"Remember my comment about marriage."
"Are you trying to propose?"
"What?" He hadn't meant for his voice to carry and everyone was looking at him. "No." By her look he knew he'd said the wrong thing. "I mean, uh, look, Katie, when I propose, you're going to know it."
She gave him an odd smile and squeezed his hand. "I can wait."
"Okay, then, I'm, uh, am going to see how John and Teyla are doing."
"I'll be right here."
Impulsively he kissed her cheek and looked deep into her eyes. He almost didn't pull away. How could he have missed how much she loved him? Loved him? He jerked away and trotted off. The concept that anyone could love him stunned him. After all, once she got to know the real him, would she still? Rodney shook his head and returned to the mess hall.
As he entered he saw John and Teyla sitting together. They were both laughing and if he wasn't mistaken, John had his arm around her.
"Hi, you two," he greeted sitting down with a tray full of food.
"Hungry or something, McKay?" John looked pointedly at the tray.
"I haven't had real food for several days. I'm famished."
"How is Katie?" Teyla asked.
"She'll be fine. I stopped to talk to Carson on my way here. He said he's going to keep her for observation for a couple days." He cut his apple into slices. "Caldwell tell you anything about why we've been recalled early?"
Sheppard shook his head. "Just that Landry had received orders from General O'Neill telling him to return to the Pegasus galaxy."
"O'Neill? I thought he'd retired."
"Rumor I've heard is that General Hammond convinced him to take over as head of Home World Security."
"Quite a promotion."
"I heard some of the crew talking," Teyla interjected. "There are some strange events happening on your world. From what little I managed to overhear, there are famines in countries where such could not happen before and more earthquakes than normal."
John frowned. "That's strange. We haven't heard anything about that."
"Perhaps those in authority think it best to keep such matters from you."
"Yeah. Maybe. I'll talk to Dr. Weir when we get back."
"Good idea," McKay agreed devouring the apple.
"Of course, she might not know. We are off the beaten path."
During what passed for night on the Deadalus, Rodney sat with his laptop on his lap. He had the covers all snug around him and his back against the gray wall. Briefly he stared at the screen.
"Okay, here goes."
I'm so sorry I couldn't join you for the Christmas holidays. I started to, but as luck would have it, we had an accident and got stranded for several days in a ghost town. I hope you're not too disappointed.
Colonel Caldwell did eventually find us and brought us back to the Deadalus. And wouldn't you know, there had been a recall order and we're now on our way back to the Pegasus galaxy and Atlantis.
He stopped considering his next words. He'd never told her about Katie and somehow, in an email, it didn't seem appropriate. Better to wait until the two women could meet face to face.
I was bringing some friends with me. You already know John and Teyla, but I had someone else with me and I'm hoping one day, you two will meet.
I'm going to go now because for the first time in several days, I'm going to be sleeping in a real bed. You can't imagine how wonderful that is! I guess maybe I take too much for granted to appreciate the simple things.
Have a good Christmas, sis. Tell Kaleb hello and give Madison a hug from her Uncle Rodney.
He re-read his email and hit send before he changed his mind. Closing out the program he put the computer aside and pulled the covers over him. He was going to sleep like a baby tonight.
The lights went out and he stared into the darkness. Funny, he'd looked so forward to sleeping tonight and now, he was wide-awake. He turned on his side and closed his eyes. The place beside him seemed too empty.
"This is ridiculous." He pulled the pillow he normally used to brace his back against the wall and curled around it. It wasn't really the same and after tossing and turning for several minutes he gave up and got dressed.
Being late in the infirmary, there weren't too many people around. He made his way to Katie's bed. "Hi," he greeted as she sleepily opened her eyes.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to wake you."
She shifted over and patted the place beside her. "Me, too," she told him.
"Oh." Embarrassed but happy she understood, he crawled into the bed next her. She moved so he could cuddle her. "Night."
Within minutes Katie was asleep and he fell into the world of dreams soon afterward. And in them, he fantasized about what a marriage would be like with this wonderful woman he finally realized he loved.
Author's note. To discover what eventually happened to Rodney and Katie and John and Teyla, I invite you to read 'Left Behind: Stargate Atlantis'.