Ronon awoke slowly, pushing away the fog, purposefully making his way out of it and back into the waking world.

And he blinked in the brightness of the infirmary, letting out a quiet breath. The weight was gone. He was free, and he tentatively tried to move his leg, quickly regretting the folly as he hissed in pain.

"Easy, big fella," Sheppard said from beside him. "You broke your leg. They're waiting for the swelling to go down before they do anything with it. It's just splinted right now. Best keep it still.

And then Teyla spoke. "Ronon, you also have a concussion and have broken two ribs. Do not move suddenly."

"It's a miracle that Chewie is still in one piece," Sheppard said, more to Teyla than to him. "That was a pretty big tree."

"It takes more than that to stop Ronon," Teyla responded with a smile in her voice.

Ronon took in the splint that encased his leg. He wasn't going anywhere soon. His chest was strapped. He could feel the bandage at his head, and he turned his hand to see the strip of a dressing across his knuckles.

"Still," Sheppard went on. "It's a good thing we got to him when we did."

Ronon turned slowly to face the colonel, who grinned at him. Sheppard was leaned back in his chair, wearing a floppy red cap, trimmed in white fake fur – a Santa hat. Teyla sat on the bed next to his, smiling happily at him.

He slowly surveyed the rest of the infirmary, finding that he was the only patient. "McKay?" he asked.

"Was sent back to his room. Twisted his ankle," Sheppard explained.

"He also hurt his back, and suffered from other scratches and cuts," Teyla explained. She looked a little unsure as she asked, "Is it true that he attempted to move some of those logs on his own?"

"Might have," Ronon responded, not knowing for certain. He frowned deeply. "The snake... a snake was attacking him."

Sheppard laughed. "Other way around. Rodney's the one that attacked the snake. We got to where you were just in time to see him launch himself at it. I didn't have a clear shot, otherwise I would have taken it out."

"Certainly," Teyla put in, not sounding as if she was convinced.

"It was a pretty spectacular fight. McKay got his hands around the snake's neck and went rolling down the hill with it." Sheppard shook his head, in disbelief. "I never would have believed it, but he had that thing under control."

Teyla continued to smile. "Dr. Quinn wanted us to thank you for your part in the 'hunt'."


"Dr. Ruby Quinn," Sheppard filled in. "You ended up with her name in the gift exchange. Snakes for Christmas. Remember?"

"Yeah," Ronon said. How could he forget? "Stupid Secret Santa."

"Ain't that the truth." Sheppard sighed and sat back in his chair, flicking at the white ball on the end of his floppy hat. "Next year, it's banished again!"

"I agree." Teyla creased her brow as she gazed toward Ronon. "I believe that Sergeant Johnson drew my name." She sighed loudly. "He has been following me and asking me many pointed questions regarding my 'likes and dislikes'. I hope that he decides upon an adequate gift soon. I have given him many ideas and I cannot take much more of his attention."

"Maybe he just likes you?"

Teyla gave Sheppard an arch look. "He is well aware of Kanaan and Torren," she pointed out. "And he has made a nuisance of himself. If he asks after my favorite color one more time, I am not certain what I will have to say to him."

Ronon lifted his gaze to Sheppard and asked, "What took you so long to reach us?"

Sheppard groaned. "Lorne drew my name for the gift exchange. I guess he's been kinda annoyed about the jumpers being stolen by every Tom Dick, Ford and Michael out there. He coerced Radek into upping the security protocol on Jumper 5 as a gift to me. Problem is, no one told me about it. I accidentally activated the system when we entered the jumper. It went into lock-down mode. Teyla and I were trapped inside and couldn't even use the comm System until Atlantis checked in."

"Zelenka?" Ronon asked. "Thought he had more sense."

"Lorne swore him to secrecy. Plus, I guess Lorne's been making jewelry in his spare time. I think Zelenka was interested in some of his wares for his own Secret Santa."

Ronon grumbled.

"Lorne meant well," Sheppard tried. "But it was bad timing."

"I wonder who got his name," Ronon stated, his mind working.

"I think it's Keller," Sheppard told him.

"Yes," Teyla said. "Jennifer told me that she was looking for paints that might be usable for his artwork."

Sheppard sighed. "He'll like that."

"Too bad," Ronon muttered, staring at his hurt leg.

"He seemed apologetic, but was pretty pleased at how well the system worked," Sheppard explained. "Of course, he wasn't the one trapped inside a jumper for hours."

"Or stuck under a log," Ronon added. "With only McKay for company."

"Yeah," Sheppard responded. "You got me there."

Thinking better of it, Ronon added, "McKay wasn't so bad. Kinda grows on you after a while."

"True," Sheppard responded.

"Yes," Teyla added warmly. "He does grow on one."

"What did he do while you were stuck all that time?" Sheppard asked.

"Did what he could to help me," Ronon admitted, then, making a face, he added, "Talked, a lot. Told me why he doesn't do the whole gift exchange thing."

"He's a genius, you know," Sheppard commented.

"Yes," Teyla said with a wry smile. "So he tells us."

Sheppard went on with his story, saying, "So, Teyla and I were stuck inside the jumper with no access to any of the systems. When Atlantis checked in, we could finally access the radio, but that was about it. They sent out a team with Lorne and Zelenka to release us. Soon as he shut down the 'special gift', we went after you. Found McKay wresting with a giant snake, and you trapped." Sheppard chuckled. "One of the marines got a picture of the fight."

Ronon grunted a little. "That'd be something to see."

Sheppard smiled. "You'll see it. I'm blowing it up. Special present for someone who didn't participate in the exchange. Anyway, after a couple of marines helped out Rodney with getting that snake corralled, we had to get you out. Took a whole engineering team, a medical team and a bunch of marines to figure out how to get all those logs removed without crushing you."

"Thanks," Ronon said, and then added, "I heard someone scream. Thought it was McKay, but it might have been a woman, now that I think about it."

To that, Sheppard chuckled and said, "Did you know Lorne was afraid of snakes?"

"Afraid of them?" Ronon echoed.

"I swear, the guy went white as a sheet," Sheppard described. "He almost fainted."

"He looked very ill," Teyla stated.

Ronon considered this fact, then looked up to Sheppard with a calculating expression. "And Keller drew his name?" He laughed a little, saying, "I wonder if I can convince her to change her gift plans."

And Sheppard smiled widely as he leaned forward. "You know, I'm pretty sure I can make that happen."

With that, Teyla stood abruptly. "I do not want to be a part of this discussion," she said. Yet she smiled at them. "So I shall leave now so that you can continue with your plans."

"Last I saw, Johnson was in the Mess," Sheppard told her.

Teyla nodded a thanks, and then offered Ronon a smile before she headed toward the infirmary's exit.

Sheppard didn't even wait for her to leave before he continued. "We still have a few days before Christmas. I might be able to load McKay into a jumper and head back for the mainland for a little hunting expedition. His ankle should be better in time for that, and he has a knack for finding trouble."

Ronon looked unconvinced. "Not sure if he'll do it. He said something about pliers and snow."

Not bothering to figure out what Ronon meant, Sheppard went on, "I'll work on him. We'll go after the little snakes. The blue ones aren't poisonous, right? But Lorne doesn't know that."

And they both laughed as they considered the payback that Lorne was going to receive for the jumper lockdown.

After all, few gifts beat Snakes for Christmas.

THE END So there you go. Tipper's Sergeant Johnson was borrowed without her consent. Sorry about that.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Merry Christmas