Title: All I Want For Christmas…

Disclaimers: I make no profit of any kind from this fic, only hoping to enjoy this world a little more than what the writers allowed.

Spoilers: Set after season 5, Atlantis on Earth.

Note: This fic is dedicated to Camy who needs a little lift and who is selflessly running the Beya John and Teyla Secret Elf Exchange for us over at the Beya Livejournal. It's our version of the secret santa, in which we give three small gifts to our giftee on the way up to the 25th and then a bigger gift for Christmas itself. If you enjoy John and Teyla head over to the site where from this Sunday the presents will begin to be exchanged and will all begin to be posted. There will be loads of JT goodiness to enjoy. And Camy is guiding us all through it. So here is a fun silly little present for her – it's almost complete and I will post it all gradually for you towards Christmas.

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"How can you not enjoy this, Rodney?" Keller asked.

"I just don't like it, all these extra people in the city," Rodney muttered.

John pressed his tongue to the inside of his mouth as he held back his amusement. It was no secret that Rodney had gotten pretty protective of the city since Atlantis had returned to Earth. Every government and military with knowledge of the Stargate were all clamouring to send their own science teams to explore the ancient city, and Rodney had become like a mother hen – watching each new research team, worrying over 'his' city.

"Look at it this way, McKay," John suggested. "With all these extra people we can finally get all of the city mapped out."

Rodney had been looking over his shoulder suspiciously at the large numbers of new faces crowded around the buffet table. "We've mapped the city," he protested looking back round at John. "I can call up a map of any part of this city in a second."

John tried not to roll his eyes. "You know I don't mean the floor plan, Rod-ney. I'm talking about properly exploring all the labs and getting more experts to study the Ancient database."

"I agree," Teyla added into the conversation. "Have we not always spoken how rewarding it would be to focus solely on the city?"

John glanced at her beside him as he nodded. She was looking very bright and cheerful this morning, wearing a nice deep red top and her hair was tied back from her face for a change. Since the whole 'Kanaan involvement' was over she appeared to have more time to join in with the group activities again. Though, Torren's mealtimes had become something of a group activity. John looked past Teyla to where Torren sat in his high chair, his little dark eyes focused up on his mother and the spoon of food she still held. John watched the boy frown and reach for the spoon himself, impatient with his mother's distraction. Torren wasn't quite up to feeding himself yet, though he would try to, but the clean up afterwards wasn't quite worth it yet.

"It's dangerous, that's all," Rodney muttered. "All these people poking their noses into all the labs. We all know how bad things can turn," he said moodily.

Keller sighed. "Rodney, all these people are professionals and I am sure they all listen closely to your lecture when they first arrive."

John reached for his coffee cup to hide his smile.

"Mamma!" Torren exclaimed loudly from the end of the table as he smacked his hands onto the tray of his high chair.

"Torren," Teyla replied calmly and sternly. "There is no need to shout," she explained, but clearly Torren had gotten the attention he had been after. John watched the boy smile up at her and reach for the food spoon again. Teyla dipped the spoon into Torren's bowl and lifted the spoon towards Torren's mouth, who grinned triumphantly before he turned his concentration on eating.

"He's getting a little bossy, isn't he?" Rodney asked rather tactlessly. John glanced at Teyla's face, but didn't see any sign that she was upset by the comment.

"Sounds like someone else we know," John couldn't resist saying.

Rodney frowned at him, whilst Keller and Teyla made a weak show at hiding their smiles.

"Where's Ronon anyway?" Rodney asked, attempting to turn attention away from him.

"He'll be with Amelia," Keller replied with a smile. "They have become quite the couple."

John couldn't argue with that – he had hardly seen Ronon outside of their shifts.

"Of course," Rodney muttered. He and Keller may not be aware of it, but everyone else had been well aware of the competition between Rodney and Ronon last year. John had probably been the least surprised out of everyone when it had become clear that Rodney had 'won', after all John had heard straight from the horse's mouth that Rodney and Keller had a future together. But, there were still times when John had to wonder why, and judging by the rather impatient expression across Keller's face she might be wondering the same right now.

"You should be happy for Ronon, Rodney," Keller told him.

"I agree, Ronon seems very happy," Teyla added as she offered another spoonful of food to Torren.

"Sure," Rodney muttered. "But he's forgotten about us though hasn't he."

John had to smile at that. "Well, considering what they're probably up to…" he pointed out, which resulted in Teyla smacking him on the arm and Keller chuckled across the table.

"Please, like I need to think about…" Rodney muttered.

"Rodney?" A familiar female voice uttered from behind John.

He looked over his shoulder, Teyla doing the same next to him, and they both looked back and up to see Katie Brown standing a metre or so away, her hopeful shy expression unchanged.

"Katie!" Rodney all but squeaked. "What are you doing here?"

"I am part of a new research team," she replied as she approached the table. "It is good to see you, Rodney. All of you," she added as she moved around the table. Rodney stood up, his chair falling back to the floor as he got up. They exchanged a stilted, but oddly intimate, hug and stood back from each other.

"It's good to see you, Katie," Rodney said. "I didn't think you would be back in the city again…after you know…not that you're not one of the best in your field…" John watched Rodney's rambling with a mixture of serious amusement and sympathetic cringing on his friend's behalf. Rodney stopped his babbling, took a breath and started again. "It's good to see you," he said more calmly.

"It is so good to see you as well," Katie replied as she touched his arm briefly.

"How long are you going to be in the city?" Rodney asked.

"That depends on how fast it takes to go through the Ancient database," she replied with a nervous laugh.

"Of course," Rodney replied. "That could take forever then," he joked weakly.

Katie Brown laughed with him, before she looked away. "I really should get back to my team," she said as she gestured across the Mess Hall. "I just wanted to say hey," she added shyly.

"Well, 'hey' back at cha," Rodney replied. "Maybe we'll run into each other sometime around the city," he added and John winced, his gaze sliding to Keller. She looked like she was putting on a polite front.

"I hope so. It was nice to see you all again," Katie said to the table at large. Then she was moving away and John turned to watch her walk back to a small group of scientists standing around the side exit to the Mess Hall, all clearly waiting for her. John kept watching her and sure enough she looked back over her shoulder at Rodney – yep, Katie Brown wasn't over Rodney. John turned back to the table.

Rodney moved to sit down.

"Chair, Rodney," Teyla warned, gesturing with Torren's spoon to where Rodney's chair had fallen back.

"Oh, thanks," Rodney muttered as he righted the chair. John wondered if it said bad things about him that he felt disappointed at not seeing Rodney fall on his ass.

"It was nice of her to come over and say hello," Keller said with a careful tone.

John pursed his lips and glanced at Teyla beside him, to see she had glanced at him in turn and they exchanged an 'uh oh' look.

"Yes," Rodney replied as he looked back towards the exit through which Katie Brown had disappeared. "It's good to see her back in the city," he added. John wondered if kicking him under the table would help.

"Yes, it is," Keller replied.

For once in his life Rodney seemed to actually pick up on someone else's tone, and he glanced at Keller beside him. "I didn't mean…I just meant…since it was my fault that she left…"

"She chose to leave, Rodney," Keller replied. She had that tone women used when they were trying to sound indifferent, but were actually fuming at you – John was pretty sure Rodney wouldn't have picked up on it.

"I know, I just wish things could have been different," Rodney muttered.

She turned to him. "In what way, Rodney?" Even Rodney couldn't miss the less than happy edge to her voice now.

Rodney cringed at her tone. "I only meant that…things could have worked out differently…"

"Differently than you splitting up with her?"

John found himself looking from one of them to the other and then back again, like a tennis spectator. Try as he might he couldn't pull his attention away from the car crash that the couple's conversation was on. Teyla appeared to be thinking the same since she leant towards him.

"Maybe we should leave," she whispered. Her perfume drifted around John and he leant slightly closer to her to reply. Then leant an extra millimetre closer, pretending he was thinking about his answer and not inhaling her scent.

"Torren's still eating," John argued as he gestured past Teyla towards Torren. Teyla looked in her son's direction and the boy grinned back at them. His little hand had almost reached the bowl of food. He pulled it back. Teyla looked back at the couple across from them as she picked up Torren's bowl.

"It would be rude to remain," she whispered.

John glanced at Rodney's weak spluttering about being trapped in the Infirmary that day of the lockdown when he and Katie had effectively broken up. John turned his attention back to Teyla. "It would be rude to interrupt Torren's lunch," he pointed out. He saw Teyla's lips twitch, and he had a very good close up view from where he was leant shoulder to shoulder with her. He watched her press her lips tighter together.

"You are right – it would be rude," she answered, surprising him.

Rodney looked at them suspiciously, so John pulled away from Teyla as she did the same.

"It is not an issue, Rodney," Keller was saying.

Rodney turned his suspicious look to her. "But it is isn't it? Women always say that kind of thing and next thing you know you're being dumped for not realising that it was an issue," Rodney complained, which John thought wasn't the best response.

"It isn't an issue to discuss right now," Keller clarified.

"What could be an issue was that you were trapped in the Infirmary with Ronon during that lockdown. I could ask you what happened in there," Rodney pushed and this time John didn't hide his wince, unfortunately Rodney didn't see it.

Torren burped loudly from the end of the table.

"Well said, Torren," John said and Teyla's hand smacked into the side of his thigh. Rodney didn't appear to have heard John's comment. John turned to Teyla. "Ow," he exaggerated in a low voice. "What's with all the hitting me today?" He pretended the little buzz of pleasure from her attention wasn't there as he tried to glare at her.

She gave him a disbelieving look in reply. "I barely touched you," she whispered back. Oh, wasn't that the truth.

"Still hurt," he protested.

She gave him that disbelieving amused look again. "Here I was thinking you were a big strong man," she replied shaking her head.

John's heart skipped a beat – was she flirting with him? That element of their friendship had been absent for the last year or so, following Torren and Kanaan's arrival. Of course Kanaan was out of the picture now…

"I am," he protested and flexed his arm closest to her. She glanced down at his bicep and smiled just as he had hoped.

"Yet you seem to bruise so easily," she added as she turned her attention to scraping out the last of Torren's lunch from the bottom of the bowl in her hand, but she remained leant slightly towards John.

"This is from the woman who used to regularly knock me on my butt in sparring," he pointed out.

She turned the spoon, scraping right into the base of the bowl for the last scraps of food. "Now Ronon does that for me," she replied. There was a definite smile on her lips, though her gaze was focused at the bowl in her hand. John dropped his eyes to her lips again, just to check it was a smile – he should be sure. For the subject of sparring had been one they had avoided for a long time.

He hadn't sparred with her for years now, instead Ronon had filled in the role of beating him up. He wondered if she missed it as much as he did. He wondered if the reasons why they didn't spar anymore were clear for her, because it had all become a little confusing for him. Of course it was common knowledge that John sparred with Ronon almost every day. Not as much lately of course, because Ronon had been 'distracted'. The nature of that distraction was not lost on John right now. He wondered if she was offering to spar with him again…he would like that.

"He's been a little busy of late," he said back, his attention fixed on her face so as not to miss any clues as to what she might be thinking.

"As you remarked on earlier," she replied and there was definitely a flirty teasing tone there. She leant away as she offered the last spoonful of lunch to Torren and then she returned to her position close to John. John decided to test the new atmosphere a little.

"Probably knocking Amelia on her butt instead," he suggested as seriously as he could, his eyes still on Teyla's face.

Teyla turned to glance at him, giving him a very good view of her smile and the sparkle to her eyes. "I would not think Amelia to be the type of woman to be happy being the one falling on her back all the time," she said.

The sharp thrill of surprise and abrupt arousal shocked John at her unexpected reply and implication. Of course his next thought was filled with images of the type of woman who would prefer her man on his back, but Amelia wasn't the woman in his mind's eye. He had to look away from Teyla for a moment, to blink and regain some composure, but he was back looking at her, thrilled at her playfulness and at the subtle innuendo that he was sure he wasn't just reading into the situation.

"I'm afraid I don't know Amelia that well," was all he could think to reply, but he thought he saw a victorious shift to one of Teyla's eyebrows as she set Torren's bowl and spoon down on the table. John glanced past her to Torren and saw the disappointed look the little guy always got when his meal was over – at least he didn't throw a tantrum anymore.

"Now is hardly the time to talk about this, Rodney," Keller said sternly across the table.

"Fine," Rodney replied childishly in reply. Both of their voices implied that they had been arguing angrily, but John had missed all of it, so focused on Teyla had he been. A tense angry silence fell over the other side of the table.

John glanced at Teyla's tray as she set down her cup and noticed that she hadn't picked up any pudding for herself or Torren. He reached for the untouched orange sat in the corner of his own tray and began to peel it. John felt Torren's attention on him and the orange. John fed Torren occasionally, and had been known to slip the boy the odd treat. John glanced at Teyla again, wishing to get back into the flirting/teasing conversation again, but the table's atmosphere had changed too much and her attention was back on Rodney and Keller.

He looked back at the couple opposite them, who were eating in a sullen tense silence. John glanced back to Teyla and saw her amused look in return. He broke off half of his orange and offered it to her. Her eyes dropped to the fruit and she smiled. He felt more than a little pleased with himself as she took what he offered. She broke away one segment from her half and bit it in half before offering the smaller piece to Torren.

The table remained silent, half of it simmering with grumpy tension, the other with a new potential John thought. He glanced from the two opposite to Teyla beside him. She broke another piece of orange and passed it to Torren. The boy managed to hold it himself and chewed on the end of the half segment, watching his mother's chewing motions. Torren looked away from her and met John's eyes and grinned. John winked at him and Torren giggled.

Teyla turned her head to look from Torren to him and John gave her a smile, before offering her some more of his half of the orange. He watched her eyes drop to the last few pieces of his share, no doubt not wanting to take so much from him. So he set the offered pieces down on her tray, not letting her protest. There was a pause, during which he pretended not to watch her, and she reached for the pieces of orange.

"I should get back to the Infirmary," Keller announced drawing their attention as she stood with her tray. "I will see you all later," she added.

John glanced at Rodney to see his annoyed and slightly nervous expression as he looked up at her, but she didn't wait to listen to anything he might have said because she was already walking away from the table. John watched her leave, without a glance back, and looked back at Rodney.

"What?" Rodney demanded as John realised Teyla, and even Torren, were also looking at him, though perhaps Torren's focus was more directed towards Rodney's as yet untouched pudding.

"Nothing," John replied innocently, keeping to his promise to himself to always keep out of couples' problems. It was difficult occasionally with Rodney for a friend, for the guy tended to ask for advice and/or tell John about an issue. John tried to give generalised 'good' advice if he was forced into it, but mainly he had been able to keep out of it all.

A sudden tug on his sleeve made John look round at Teyla, to find himself staring into Torren's eyes, who was now balanced on Teyla's lap, his attention focused on John's last piece of orange. John glanced down at the piece he held halfway to his mouth and then back at the boy who was leaning over his mother's arm towards John. The tiny dark eyes lifted from the fruit to John's with a forlorn hopeful look and John's heart melted, despite being aware that he was being played.

"Fine," John mumbled as he offered the piece to Torren. The boy smiled widely and took the offered fruit. Teyla turned, becoming aware of the exchange.

"Torren," she admonished him gently, but the boy was reaching out with his free hand towards John now. John reached for the boy, used to his climbing from one lap to the next. Torren settled down on John's lap, shifting his back against John's arm, before he stilled and began carefully chewing on his won fruit. The boy's gentle weight and baby smell made John melt every time he held the boy. It appeared that John would get some extra cuddles today, what with Ronon and Amelia's absence and Keller's early departure.

John kept one arm around Torren and reached with his free hand for his coffee cup. Rodney was taking his time with his pudding, which was unusual and implied that his argument with Keller was more serious than the little John had caught before he had become distracted by Teyla. He looked over at her again now, and found her watching him in return. Her eyes dropped to Torren on his lap and then she looked away at Rodney. John thought he saw the subtlest flush to her cheekbones, but maybe he was seeing things.

Rodney sighed heavily with weighted exaggeration. "I'll see you guys later," he suddenly mumbled as he stood with his tray and turned away.

"See you," John replied, but Rodney was moving away too quickly to hear. John watched as Rodney dumped his tray down on the side, not clearing it as you were supposed to, and he stomped his way out of the Mess Hall. John pondered what he had heard and the way Rodney and Katie Brown had hugged.

"I think he still likes her," he announced.

Teyla sat back fully into her chair beside him. "Katie?" She asked.

John glanced at her, sure she was still sitting slightly closer than normal. "Yep," he answered with a knowing look.

Teyla gave him a bemused smile and glanced back to where Rodney had disappeared. "He and Jennifer are very close, I doubt that he would jeopardise that in any way," she said glancing back at him.

"This is Rodney we're talking about remember," John pointed out. "When are things ever simple with him?"

One of Teyla's eyebrows lifted elegantly, before she frowned. "Did you not say that they were together in the future?"

John tired not to think of that future very often – a future in which so many of those he cared for had been killed…a world where Teyla had been killed by Michael. "Sure, but that's not our future anymore," he pointed out.

She pondered that, her eyes dropping to Torren on his lap again and he wondered if she was thinking of that future in which her son had been taken by Michael. "You do not think they will last in this new reality?" She asked.

John considered the question. "Not sure," he replied with a shrug as he looked away from her and reached for the last of his coffee. "They don't seem to have that much in common."

She made a thoughtful sound. "Their relationship has seemed stable enough," she said.

"Sure, when there's nothing to test it," John replied warming to his new theory. "Don't get me wrong, I want Rodney to be happy…kind of," he added realising he had sounded a little touchy feely there and he saw Teyla smile out the corner of his eye, but he chose to ignore it. "But, surely I'm not the first to wonder why those two work out?" He asked as he gestured to the other side of the table.

"I will admit they were an…unexpected couple," she said carefully. He gave her a look to say he saw right through that politically correct statement.

"Please, Teyla, out of him and Ronon, which one would you pick?" He asked amused and even more so when she glared at him with a definite slight flush across her cheeks.

"John!"

"I don't mean that you really would date one of them, but as a woman – which one do you think most women would choose?" He pushed, wondering why he was enjoying this so much.

"I can understand why Jennifer might choose Rodney," she said.

"Really?"

Her attention was focused down to her tray and he looked down to see she was fiddling with the corner of her napkin. He couldn't remember seeing her do something so absently before.

"Maybe she sees in him something more than we can. Maybe she likes that he is so honest and openly nervous about himself. Perhaps she enjoys his mind and knows that he cares for her deeply."

John found himself unable to look away from her fingers twisting the napkin back and forth, and suddenly he wondered if that was what she had seen in Kanaan. Maybe he was the soft kind sort that was open with his feelings. John realised that he would always compare himself to Ronon over Rodney – the warrior of the two, the fighter who doesn't share all that much and who just strives to be as tough as he can be to get his job done. But women liked soft kinds of men as well, those who could cry and talk about their feelings…

"I guess," he admitted as he looked away from her fingers, his attention shifting over the table to where Rodney had sat. He tried to imagine Teyla with someone like Rodney, comparing him to Kanaan, but John hadn't really gotten to know Kanaan all that well and certainly wasn't going to start now. John was only sorry the guy was still living in the city. He wondered if she was thinking about Kanaan now while she was so silent, her thoughts clearly elsewhere. He glanced at her profile and wished he could bring back her more cheerful mood.

"Are you telling me, that given a choice, you would choose Rodney?" He asked with as playful a tone as possible, hoping to lift her mood, but also aware that he seemed unable to leave this subject alone just yet.

She looked round at him and the wide smile was back as if it hadn't gone. "I think of them like brothers, John," she argued.

"That's not answering my question," he pointed out. "If you had to choose and they weren't like your brothers – which one would you choose?"

She narrowed her eyes as she seemed to finally start to consider her answer. "I would choose Major Lorne," she replied finally, surprising John.

"Lorne?!" He exclaimed. "He wasn't an option."

"I would not be drawn to either of Rodney or Ronon," she replied.

"So, you picked Lorne?" John asked as a bizarre new sensation formed in his chest. "How long have you been feeling this way for the Major?" he asked, trying not to demand and sound casual. Torren stirred against him, apparently having gone to sleep. John rubbed his hand over Torren's back to soothe him, but it didn't distract him from his new interrogation of Teyla.

She was laughing though. "I merely choose him as an example – he seems to me to be a middle ground between Rodney and Ronon," she explained, but John wasn't so sure.

"Lorne?!"

She smiled widely again, her teeth bright. "He is a warrior, yet he paints and is very insightful," she said.

"And the ability to paint is attractive to you?" he pushed teasingly, but intrigued by the new element of Teyla that she was revealing to him.

"It shows a depth to his soul," she replied profoundly.

"Painting? Anyone can paint, Teyla. Torren can paint," John gestured down to her son asleep against him.

Teyla looked down at Torren. "Torren smears one colour over the paper and then puts the rest in his hair," she replied as she looked back up at John.

"It all washed out," John defended.

She raised her eyebrow at him and looked away to reach for her cup. John watched her swallow the last of her drink, his eyes dropping to her throat as it moved. He knew what he wanted to ask, but wasn't sure that he wanted to hear the answer. He pursed his lips as he considered just asking it – maybe he could make it sound light and casual…

"Do you think of me as a brother?" He asked and was rather pleased to hear that the teasing tone was still in his voice, though his heart was abruptly beating louder than before.

Her expression showed she was surprised by his question, as he was that he had actually had the nerve to ask it, but he kept his focus on her profile. She swallowed some more of her drink, but he could still see her smile. She set the cup down and looked round at him, meeting his eyes with a strange little smile before she looked down to Torren.

"I should get him to bed for his nap," she said, that soft strange smile on her lips. He knew then that she wasn't going to answer him, as she reached for Torren, but though she hadn't answered – that was an answer in itself…wasn't it?

He passed Torren to her, who mumbled sleepily and curled up against her. John watched her stand up, desperately wanting to find a way of keeping this new vibe between them alive. A new sense of excitement had been borne from her non-answer and he was surprised how pleased he was about it. Maybe second chances could happen?

"Feel like making a bet?" He asked on impulse. She paused, looking down at him with a questioning look. "About Rodney," he added as he tilted his head towards exit through which Rodney had stomped out.

She glanced away, clearly wondering if she should do such a thing behind her friend's back. "On what exactly?" She asked.

"Keller or Katie Brown," John replied.

She frowned down at him. "You truly believe he still has interest in Katie Brown?"

The truth was John really wasn't all that sure, but he really liked the idea of setting up a bet with Teyla. "He was going to marry her," he argued.

"But he never actually asked her to be his wife," Teyla replied.

"But, he thought about it – and that's a big deal for a guy. He only didn't ask her because he didn't think he was ready," John said, pleased at the continuing playful banter between them.

"He and Jennifer love each other," Teyla answered him, but there was a slight touch of doubt in her voice he thought.

"Then you won't lose anything," he replied, looking up at her from his seat with an innocent tempting smile.

She narrowed her eyes at him and he watched her eyes slip over his face for a moment. "What is the bet exactly?"

"Whether Rodney chooses Keller or Katie Brown…by Christmas," he suggested.

"When is that again?" She asked.

"In two months," he answered.

She looked away, clearly tempted despite the fact that she wouldn't normally involve herself in such things, as far as he knew. He was a little surprised she was still listening. "What will I win?" She asked seriously as she met his eyes again.

He stood up at that, shaking his head at her. "You seem very confident," he said, stalling for time as he reached down and stacked her tray on top of his to carry to the waste area for her.

"I think they will last two months further, if not for longer," she replied.

"If you're so confident what do you want to win?" He asked looking back at her.

Her eyes narrowed at him again, but her eyes were sparkling. "What can I have?"

"What do you want?" He asked, but then before he could let that rather suggestive comment linger he added "How about something Earth related, off the city."

She made an interested sound as she glanced away, considering her reply. He cleared up the fallen pieces of orange peel from the table, piling it onto the trays. "I would like…" Teyla began and he glanced up at her to see a new look in her eyes that made him suddenly remember that she was always a dangerous opponent in those sparring sessions.

"To spend an afternoon in one of those relaxation places that Captain Medd visited last week," she said.

"A spa?" John asked, surprised at her request.

"For a massage, skin treatments and such. It sounded wonderful," she said with clear approval. He shrugged; he could afford that for her. "And then to visit the ballet that Piotr told me about last week," she added.

John tried to think who she meant. "Piotr? The Russian chemist?"

"Physicist," she amended.

"The tall pale guy with the dark glasses?" John asked and she nodded. John was starting to get the feeling that she knew a hell of a lot more people in this city than he did. "Do you mean the Russian Ballet? Where they all wear leotards and prance around?" He asked, though even he knew there was more to it than that.

"Yes, he said the performance he saw was magnificent. He gave me a disc on the history of ballet. I would love to see it live," she said, clearly fascinated. John was more interested in how close she and this Piotr were.

"He gave you a disc?"

"Yes, he purchased it for me when he was attending the performance. His sister is currently training to become a ballerina," she explained. "It seems a very skilful type of dancing."

"I guess," John replied. He could afford a ticket to a ballet for her and maybe she could take one of her friends…not this Piotr though. "Is Piotr another one of these artist types you are so drawn to?" He asked teasingly, but began to wonder that with Kanaan out of the picture, how many of the men in the city would be making a move on Teyla soon? All of them with their painting and ballet interests to tempt her.

She smiled at his question, but didn't answer him. "A visit to a spa and then a ballet performance in the evening," she stated. "And you will be accompanying me," she added with a definite glint in her eyes now.

"What?" He asked. "A spa and the ballet aren't really things a guy like me enjoys, Teyla," he said hurriedly.

Her smile turned rather wicked and he realised that she already understood that. "Some relaxation, perhaps a face mask and you can have your nails done. How can that not be good for you?" She asked, clearly enjoying this.

John glared at her, surprised at her clear grasp of this aspect of Earth culture. "I'm not having a face mask," he said carefully. "And I don't need my nails done."

She moved around the table, with the sleeping Torren against her, and he heard her chuckling. "You do not seem so confident that you will win this bet anymore," she remarked.

He picked up the trays and followed her across the mess hall. "Why don't you choose something a little more interesting like going to a football game, or we could go snowboarding?" He tried to tempt her.

She looked over her shoulder at him. "That is something you would enjoy, this will be something I will enjoy." They reached the disposal area and she paused as he emptied the trays.

"You'd like snowboarding, or skiing if you want," he tried. "Hell, how about a shopping trip instead," he suggested desperately as he dumped the trays. "Anything but a spa and the ballet."

"I would love a relaxing day away from the city and to experience some Earth theatrical culture," she said, and there was a definite new pleading tempting tone of her own there. "You said I could have what I wanted. This bet was your idea after all," she pointed out.

They moved towards the exit and John sighed heavily. "Fine." And then he brightened up at the prospect of some revenge. "Now, when I win I was going to take you somewhere you'd enjoy, but you've changed my mind now so…" he made a show of thinking up something in retribution. "My brother's friend owns a golf course – nice one, difficult and there's a big new year party there every year. He said I could use the course and was invited to the parties whenever I wanted." He was pleased to hear her groan. "You're going to accompany me around the course, 18 holes, and then join me for the new year party. It's full of over pretentious rich people who we'll have nothing in common with." He was surprised that the prospect pleased him this much, but if they did end up there he would make sure Teyla enjoyed herself. They could sneak away from the party and find a better one…one with a ferris wheel.

The corridor was busy outside the mess hall, but John kept his attention on her. "Deal?" He asked.

She glanced at him. "To be clear – neither of us are to involve ourselves in Rodney's decision."

"Agreed," John replied. "And no giving Keller or Katie 'advice' – I know how you women are – all sharing with each other."

"So neither of us are to influence any of them, in anyway," she stressed. "No working through Ronon," she added with a pointed look.

"Like he would have time for something like that," John replied. They had reached the transporter and he waited for her to enter first.

"We keep out of Rodney's decision completely," Teyla stated as she turned in the transporter.

John stepped in beside her. "Agreed. So, if by midday Christmas day Rodney isn't with Keller anymore I win," he said as he reached towards the transporter map.

"Wait," she said as her hand dropped onto his arm, stopping him from triggering the transporter. "You said you thought he would choose Katie Brown."

"I think he still likes her, but I'm not saying he'll end up with her in two months. I think he and Keller won't last to Christmas."

She glared at him. "You are changing your side of the bet now you know what I will win. You want a greater chance of winning yourself," she said, her eyes sparkling in the overhead light and her playful smile made him almost as pleased as the fact that her hand remained on his arm.

"They either stay together or they don't," John said, not actually answering her point, as he had backtracked a bit on the bet – he didn't want to end up in a spa with green goo smeared over his face and cucumber slices over his eyes!

Teyla removed her hand from his arm and frowned. "Very well. If they are still together…when they are still together…" she corrected herself and John smiled as he triggered the transporter. The room filled briefly with light and then the doors opened before them to their new floor. "…I win and we spend a nice relaxing cultural day together," she finished as she stepped forward out of the transporter.

"And if they're not I get to properly teach you how to play golf," John replied as he fell into step with her along the corridor. "And I may even let you win," he added graciously.

She gave him another one of her amused/tolerating looks as they turned the corner towards her quarters. "Agreed."

"Great," John said eagerly as they reached her quarters and she stopped, turning to face him.

There was a challenging vibe to her as she released one hand from around Torren and held it out to him. John smiled down at the Earth custom. He shook her hand.

He held her hand for a fraction longer than necessary and her eyes narrowed for a moment as she returned her hand to Torren's back.

"If you influence the outcome in anyway, John," she warned. "Then I win regardless."

John lifted an eyebrow at her. "And vice versa," he said.

She gave him that teasing look again and opened the doors to her quarters.

"I should start practicing my swing," John commented thoughtfully as she moved through her doorway.

She looked back at him. "Do you have anything smart to wear to the ballet? I understand that one must look very presentable." Her eyes slid down his uniform doubtfully.

He looked down at himself. "What? I can look presentable."

"We shall see," she replied as she triggered the door mechanism and the doors slid shut on her last words.

John grinned though as he turned away, feeling rather excited about the bet. Christmas was two months away and whatever happened for Rodney at the end of that time didn't really matter to him right now. Whatever had changed today between him and Teyla was very interesting and he would do his best to keep the playfulness going as long as possible. Maybe if he was lucky by the time Christmas came round things would be different…

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TBC