A great deal of thanks goes to Jayne Perry and Mirth (aka Ferryman) for their beta-ing services. All misteaks and spleling erors are mine :)
Merry Christmas, Doctor McKay
It was common knowledge in Atlantis that the Head of the Science and Research Departments, namely one Doctor Rodney McKay, hated Christmas.
Although Christmas on Atlantis had become more of a festival, a celebration of surviving the Pegasus Galaxy, the traditions and beliefs of all those serving in the city, and those native to Pegasus, intermingling and becoming uniquely Altantian.
Only McKay would work a full shift and then some on that day, rarely venturing far from the Control Room, where he would sit monitoring the vast array of computers he would hook up - only relinquishing control to join the second sitting of the celebration meal.
In those early years, it was easy to mutter and moan about the egotistical man. To see only an avoidance of the many activities and gatherings because he hated such things. That he considered those scheduled for the day's watch as incompetent and untrustworthy.
However, as the years moved on, a more compassionate theory started to take hold. That Doctor McKay, although disliking Christmas, would take a full shift allowing all his staff the time off to relax and enjoy the day. It was not a popular theory but had a firm and loyal following.
Rodney McKay knew all this. He also knew it would be a waste of his time and energy to deny his dislike for the holiday, because he did hate parts of it and had said so many times. He hated the commercialization, that stores would start putting up decorations and stocking their shelves in October. Radio stations would start belting out Christmas songs in November and that television was one Christmas advert after another.
To Rodney, Christmas was a simple affair, good company, good food and thoughtful, but simple gifts. He hadn't celebrated Christmas since he left home - his brusque, arrogant manner didn't make for a welcomed guest. But on Atlantis, he loved it. Somehow, he had managed to make friends, and more astonishingly, keep them. He enjoyed designing and making gifts for his team and he loved receiving presents back. His hands shaking with excitement as he unwrapped the gifts.
All the team made their own gifts - Ronon and Teyla, Rodney expected nothing less. The pair of them had hardly grown up in bustling cities with a department store on every corner. Sheppard had been a surprise though, showing great enthusiasm for the "make your own Christmas gifts", and turning out to be a more then fair carpenter.
Rodney pulled the coarse blanket further up, tucking it as best he could around his shoulders. It was going to be a moot point this year though, as McKay seriously doubted he would survive for very much longer. He had no idea if it was day or night. In fact, he had no idea what day it was, or even how long he'd been locked up in the windowless cell. The only light appearing when the cell door was opened and he had quickly learnt that that was a very bad thing.
They had stripped him bare, the coarse blanket his only warmth and means of modesty. They had shackled him hand and foot, and then thrown him into the dark, dank cell. Food and water appearing once a day, the guards appearing twice a day.
They asked no questions just punched and kicked and then left, swinging the cell door shut, banishing the light.
Rodney hated the dark, pushing in from all sides, making it difficult to breathe as it pushed closer and closer. He longed for the light, but the light heralded pain and he started to fear it.
He closed his eyes, taking deep breaths to try to calm himself. He visualized the intricate necklace he had made for Teyla, the Athosian words for courage and honor carved from dead and broken crystals, the words interlinking. It was one of the hardest things he had ever made; it had no function, except to please. It had no moving parts; it wasn't a weapon or a machine, just a piece of jewelry to honor his teammate.
John and Ronon's presents had been so much easier. He managed to reverse engineer a Wraith stunner, incorporating it with the basics of a nine mil to make John a weapon similar to Ronon's. It was larger than he wanted it to be, but he was pleased with the overall design. The weapon being able to stun or fire bullets depending on the setting. He hadn't quite figured out how to turn the stun beam into a kill beam like Ronon's. Yet.
Ronon's present was even easier then John's. A Broadsword. Ronon had taken to the film Braveheart as if William Wallace was his own kin. Developing a fascination for the long, broad sword. True, Rodney first had to build a furnace, disable the city sensors, and then master the art of folding and shaping metal, to get the perfect shape and balance. It had taken over eight months to come up with the sword he would give to Ronon.
Excitement bubbled up inside him and he smiled, picturing his team's reactions when they open their gifts. He opened his eyes, his smiled fading as he was welcomed back by the crushing darkness.
No, Doctor Rodney McKay enjoyed Christmas. He enjoyed designing and making the perfect gift, learning new skills along the way. The joy of sharing a good meal with his friends and colleagues. The warmth of being included, as himself. Not having to hold his words and bite his tongue.
Something warm and damp trickled down his dirty cheek, dripping from his jaw onto the blanket. He heard the key jangle in the lock of the cell door. He pushed himself further into the corner, lifting the blanket over his head. The cell door was pushed opened and light flooded in. He closed his eyes, waiting for the brutal hands to drag him from the corner. He couldn't take much more of this, he wouldn't last much longer. He tracked the footsteps as they approached him, he tensed. He really hoped that his team would find his gifts; they wouldn't be hard to find, sat in a corner of his quarters. He just wished he could have been there to watch them open them. A hand pulled down the blanket, reaching back to grab his chin, turning his head.
He opened his eyes, squinting against the light. "Teyla?" he queried hoarsely.
"Yes, Rodney," Teyla's voice replied.
A hand touched his shoulder. "We're real McKay," Sheppard said softly. "We're really here."
"How long?" Rodney asked.
"Four days," Sheppard replied, gently moving him forward, warmth suddenly covering his back.
"Only four," McKay asked, astonished. "Felt longer."
"Sorry buddy," Sheppard said sadly. "Took us a while to track down this planet. Bunch of bounty hunters grabbed you for the Genii. They were going to hand you over in a couple of day's time," Sheppard explained.
"They are renowned for their harsh treatment of their bounties," Teyla said with revulsion.
He was suddenly up in the air, nestled against Ronon's chest. He looked down at himself, suddenly realizing that he was covered in warm, soft blankets, the shackles gone.
"Jumper's just outside, "Sheppard said." Let's get you back home."
"Christmas?" he queried, unable to figure out if he had missed it or not.
"The festival is the day after tomorrow," Teyla replied. "You have not missed it Rodney."
Rodney smiled, letting his head fall against Ronon's chest as he felt Ronon move forward.
He hadn't missed it. He felt excitement flow through him, dulling the pain of his beatings.
He hadn't missed it.