Disclaimer – I own none of the Stargate franchise.
A little early, but Merry Christmas everyone! It's almost 3am here, so I apologise for any bad mistakes in this story. It's a two-shot - enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Mistletoe and Wine
The tree was over ten feet tall, and stood in one of the large plant pots that had been found on Atlantis. John mused that it was the first time it had held live fauna in ten thousand years.
It was just a shame that they didn't have any proper decorations for it. Still, John had to admit he was impressed by the handmade decorations the expedition had managed to come up with. The commissary was going to look great for the party.
The room was abuzz with people preparing. It was a kind of last minute thing, but they had managed to cobble together the essentials for a decent celebration. John stood and watched with interest while everyone hurried around him with things to do – one of the main advantages of being in command was that no one asked him to do anything.
"Hello, Major Sheppard."
John turned round and smiled at his team-mate. "Hi, Teyla," he said.
She returned the smile and then turned her attention to the Christmas tree, a puzzled expression settling over her face. John couldn't help smiling again – for some reason he found her constant confusion over Earth traditions highly amusing, something he made no attempt to hide from her. He also found it completely adorable, but he kept that to himself.
"So this tree is for… Christmas?" She said hesitatingly. John nodded. "Is Christmas some kind of ritual on Earth?" She asked curiously.
"Kind of," John answered. "You remember when we were talking about religions on Earth? Christianity?"
"Oh – yes."
"Right, well, Christmas is a Christian holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus," explained John.
Teyla frowned. "He was… a prophet?" She said.
John started to shake his head, then frowned in confusion and started to nod, then settled on a shrug. "Er… well… that's in contention I guess…" He shook his head. "For the purposes of Christmas no – Christians believe Jesus was the son of God."
Teyla nodded. "Oh yes, I remember," she said. "He was killed and then came back to life after three days."
"You got it," he said. Teyla smiled graciously, and John smiled back.
"Anyway, Christmas has become a big holiday on Earth, and lots of non-Christians celebrate it as well," John said. He and Teyla stepped out of the way of two technicians carrying a large stepladder towards the tree.
"And that is why we are having a party?" Teyla asked.
"Today's Christmas Eve… so yeah," John answered. He flashed her a grin. "It'll be fun. Of course, there are loads of Christmas traditions we can't really observe here, but the party will be a valiant attempt."
Teyla smiled widely, and the two of them stood aside once again as two other people walked past them, holding a large bowl of punch between them.
Teyla frowned again. "What is that?" She asked John.
"Punch," he told her. "It should be mulled wine, but instead it's some makeshift punch that Dr Zelenka made from Athosian alcohol."
Teyla looked at him curiously. "Mulled wine?" She asked.
John grinned. "One of those traditions I was talking about," he said. "It's like wine but it's got special spices in it and it's served hot, and it's really good… but I've heard the punch is good too." He shrugged.
Teyla looked over at the punch bowl, which had been set on the refreshments table not far away from where they were standing.
"It does not look like Athosian alcohol," she said, wandering over to have a closer look. John followed her.
"No, I think Zelenka's been doing some home-brewing on the sly," he said, quirking an eyebrow at her. Teyla smiled at him and leant over to smell the punch.
"It smells good," she said.
Never one to miss an opportunity to get close to Teyla, John stepped up right next to her and leant over her shoulder, his side brushing hers as he did so. He managed to keep his face neutral as he too breathed in deeply.
"You're right, it does," he said, straightening up. Teyla was looking up at him with slightly narrowed eyes, and John had a feeling that she knew what he was doing. He noticed that she didn't step back though.
He smiled at her again. "Want a taste?"
Teyla blinked, and John's smile widened. "The punch," he said, nodding towards the bowl. He looked over his shoulder to make sure that they weren't being watched, and then quickly reached for one of the glasses laid out on the table next to the bowl. He dipped it into the punch, raised the glass to Teyla with a wink, and took a sip. It was surprisingly good.
He licked his lips and held out the glass to Teyla, one eyebrow raised. Teyla looked at him for a moment with a small smile, and then rolled her eyes and took the glass from him. John watched her as she raised the glass to her lips and took a sip of the dark red liquid, her eyes sliding shut as the wine slid into her mouth and her lips contracting on the rim of the glass…
John shook his head slightly. Maybe he was a little too close…
Teyla's eyes fluttered open as she swallowed, and she smiled at him. "It is very good," she said. She licked her lips and John decided that he most definitely was too close, and took a step back.
"Yeah, not bad," John said, his voice oddly husky. He cleared his throat and looked back towards the tree. No one was paying them any attention.
"So, what other Christmas traditions are there?" Teyla asked, setting the glass down on the table.
John looked back at her and smiled again. "Well… a big turkey dinner…"
"Like at Thanksgiving?"
John nodded. "Yep," he said. "There's a special cake called Christmas pudding that you pour flaming brandy over; presents that you give to each other, and keep under the tree until Christmas morning; stockings that you hang over fireplaces for little presents; Santa Clause and the reindeer; mistletoe; carol singing; things called wreaths that you hang on doors… there's loads of stuff."
Teyla cocked her head to one side. "What is mistletoe?" She asked him.
John's eyebrows shot up. Of all the things he had just listed, she zeroed in on the mistletoe? Was she trying to kill him?
"I heard two of the scientists talking of it yesterday," Teyla said.
Ah. Well, that explained that.
"It's a plant," said John. "And at Christmas… well…"
There was a box of different plants near the tree that were going to be used for decorations.
John grinned. "Follow me," he said to Teyla, heading over to the box. He crouched down next to it and carefully rooted around amongst the leaves and branches, keeping an eye on the guys decorating the tree at the same time. He didn't expect them to try and prevent him from stealing one of their plants, but he didn't really want this getting round.
Was he really doing this?
John's hand closed round what he was looking for, and he hesitated a moment. Then he felt Teyla step up behind him, and all he could think of was Teyla drinking that wine…
Never one to waste an opportunity…
John pulled the sprig of leaves out of the box and stood up, a feral grin on his face. He nodded for Teyla to follow him, and led her to the balcony exit. He stepped just outside and waited for Teyla to join him.
It was a balmy late afternoon on Atlantis – not exactly Christmas weather. But still, it didn't matter.
"Is that mistletoe?" Teyla asked, looking at the plant in his hand.
John grinned. "Yep," he said.
"What does it do?"
John's grin widened. "It doesn't do anything," he told her. "You hang it up as a decoration at Christmas time, and there's a tradition that if two people end up underneath it, like this," – he raised his arm – "they have to kiss each other."
Teyla looked up at his hand, looking thoughtful. She looked back at John, her mouth open to say something, but when she caught the smirk on his face whatever she had been about to say died on her lips. Her eyes widened and her cheeks flushed slightly.
John shrugged. "Well?" He said cheekily.
Teyla's cheeks grew darker, and she glanced back into the commissary. John started to feel guilty – he had put her on the spot, there were people around, she was obviously uncomfortable…
Then, suddenly, Teyla stepped towards him, rose up on tiptoe, placed her hands flat on his chest, and kissed him. John barely had time to register the fact that her lips felt like silk on his before she pulled away, sucking lightly on his lower lip as she did so.
John blinked and dropped his hand, staring at Teyla in silence. She smiled at him. "Your world has many strange customs, John Sheppard" she said.
Then she was gone.
John stood frozen for a moment, before a grin slowly crept across his face. He looked down at the plant in his hand.
Oh yeah, never waste an opportunity.
"This isn't a bad party, considering we only decided to do it two days ago," said McKay. He, Beckett, Ford and Teyla were sitting at one of the commissary table, people watching with John.
John nodded his agreement and took another swig of punch.
"Hopefully next year we can get some proper decorations from Earth," said Ford.
"I'll drink to that!" Said Beckett, raising his glass and then drinking. The men all followed suit. John noticed Teyla looking puzzled as he lowered his glass, and he grinned at her.
"Just one of our strange customs," he said to her.
Teyla raised an amused eyebrow at him, and then raised her glass and drank from it. John grinned again and went back to people watching. He had been a little worried that things would be awkward between him and Teyla after their encounter, but everything was fine, for which he was grateful.
And McKay was right about the party – it seemed to be pretty successful. Nearly the entire expedition was there, sampling the punch, talking together, admiring the Christmas tree and singing along to the music issuing through the makeshift sound system. Thank god for iPods…
"Is that mistletoe?" Said Ford suddenly.
John looked up sharply and saw that Ford was pointing to a spot halfway across the room, where one of the scientists was holding a sprig identical to the one John had had earlier. It might have even been the same one. He was holding it over the head of one of John's female officers who, to his mind, was way out of the guy's league.
"That's not mistletoe," said McKay.
"Of course it's not," said Beckett, chuckling. "You really think we found mistletoe on the mainland? That'd be one hell of a coincidence!"
John concentrated on taking another pull from his drink.
"You think she'll go for it?" Said Ford, sounding amused.
"I doubt it… yeah, didn't think so," said McKay.
Curiosity got the better of John and he raised his eyes to look back at the couple. She was walking away, laughing, and the scientist shrugged and wandered over to some of his friends, grinning.
John glanced at Teyla and saw she was looking straight at him, her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed thoughtfully. She arched an eyebrow at him, and John decided that now would be a very good time to bring out the charm smile.
Teyla looked away for a moment and then back at him, and John could clearly see she was trying not to smile. His smile turned into a grin.
Ford was laughing the scientist's fake-mistletoe attempt. "Well, I guess it was worth a try," he said.
John quirked an eyebrow at Teyla, and the smile she had been trying to hold back blossomed on her face.
"Absolutely," said John, still looking at Teyla.
Teyla shook her head and took another sip of her drink, and John quickly looked away from the sight of her lips on the glass.
He really hoped Ford was right about there being real mistletoe next year.