Canoodling was a word Rodney McKay disliked intensely. It was a word that he would never think, much less speak out loud. He had always made a subconscious effort not to remember that the word existed. But his great plan had been foiled.
Foiled by Christmas festivities on Atlantis.
Rodney had lived through one of these tedious holidays in the city already and had survived. He had avoided human contact as much as possible. It worked better for everyone else, it seemed.
There was something different about this Christmas. It was more relaxed and there was more…canoodling. Wherever Rodney turned – be it the mess hall where two people would take up a whole table to themselves or the many secluded balconies being constantly reserved – there was canoodling.
“Canoodling,” Rodney muttered in disgust as he thought of it while hunched over his laptop.
He was not alone, a fact he quite often forgot. Dr Zelenka glanced over at him and asked, “What was that, Rodney?”
There was a slightly awkward pause. Rodney cleared his throat and said waspishly, “I didn’t say anything. You might want to get your ears cleaned out.”
“Grinch,” Radek muttered under his breath.
McKay frowned. He slowly turned on a glare towards his colleague as he demanded, “What did you say?”
“Hearing voices, Rodney?”
Beaten at his own game. Rodney scowled and attempted to hide his faint blush in his laptop. A few minutes of clicking away on keys brought him back to his original thoughts.
Canoodling meant mistletoe. He could think of better uses for mistletoe. Maybe eating it. Though that might not be such a desirable use. Rodney shook his head to clear it of such thoughts. He clicked away a few more moments then sat back, eyes flicking over what he’d written. He was finished and fully intended to show Dr Weir that he was working on the day before Christmas.
When Rodney entered the upper level on the control room, he was more dismayed than he was prepared to be. Not only was there – canoodling – but decorations had sprung up like daises everywhere. He spitted the technician on duty with the foulest look he could muster before demanding to see Dr Weir.
“She’s in the briefing room with Colonel Sheppard,” the technician replied, ignoring him beyond those words.
Rodney tried to ask him to repeat what he’d said, but he was being given the snub treatment. He shifted his feet uncomfortably, wondering what he might find in the briefing room.
The word canoodling sprang to mind and he wanted to bash his head on the control panel, except that might damage him more than anything else.
He wouldn’t have it. On some level, he knew it shouldn’t bother him but the word canoodling and their names was a combination he didn’t want to think of. Rodney brushed past several people and decided to make a grand entrance into the room. He held his head high and walked briskly in.
Just as he had suspected, Elizabeth and John were standing in one corner of the room under – mistletoe! Rodney felt a hot feeling in his gut. He watched helplessly. Canoodling! He couldn’t escape the dirty word. Dirty, dirty word. Before it had been merely annoying, now it was a grievance.
Rodney didn’t know why his face felt so red or why he moved forward angrily, but he would have known if he’d seen Zelenka sneakily slipping some home brewed spirits into his coffee some thirty minutes previously. He surged forward and started babbling angrily. It sounded perfect sense to him, but to Dr Weir and Sheppard, it was a string of half exclaimed words – though they did make out “canoodling” more than once. Rodney was in the middle of a word when he reached them.
He stabbed out a finger unsteadily and told them firmly, “Canoodling is a dirty word. And so is mistletoe.”
“Rodney, are you drunk?” Elizabeth asked in surprise.
Affronted, he shot a glare at Sheppard then prepared to make a dramatic turn back towards the door. A turn that didn’t quite execute. He tripped on his own feet and went flying. As air whistled past his ears, Rodney wondered if he was in fact drunk. When his head hit the floor and he was staring up at two worried faces, he realised that Radek had beaten him more than twice in one day.
Uh oh¸ he thought, unable to think of any excuse why he’d just accused two of Atlantis’ most highly regarded people of canoodling.
“I’d hate to say I told you so…” John trailed off smugly.
Elizabeth raised one eyebrow at him perfectly. She said innocently, “Would your success involve Dr Zelenka’s special drink-spiking skill?”
Rodney was now confused. He was expecting some sort of dressing down for being disorderly and was instead spectator to what he couldn’t understand. Sheppard crossed his arms and said lightly, “You know very well what I mean. Now stop confusing the poor man.”
“I thought I was your superior,” Elizabeth deadpanned.
Rodney almost groaned. Great. Now they were playing some cruel game on him. He almost turned away as Elizabeth crouched beside him. Smiling, she explained, “Rodney, that’s not mistletoe. It’s holly.”
“What’s the difference?” Rodney demanded hotly.
John said in a sing song voice, “I told you so…”
“Be quiet, John,” she ordered him. “I didn’t need you to tell me.”
Then Elizabeth did something Rodney would never have expected her to do. She bent over his head and kissed him.
There were many times when Rodney had felt like he was paralysed from the head down. Being slammed in the face with a Wraith stunner was one of them. However, this experience was a great deal more pleasant. He felt like he’d swallowed something very warm and pleasant and he was sure it wasn’t Zelenka’s evil concoction.
“I’ll just be going,” Sheppard said and was mostly not heard.
He slipped out of the briefing room quietly. A few moments later, Elizabeth ended the kiss and waited for Rodney’s reaction. Her head scientist blinked several times and pointed out numbly, “That’s holly, not mistletoe.”
“Forget the holly, Rodney.”
She kissed him again and this time he was able to give her a feverish response. Rodney pulled away and asked suspiciously, “What was Sheppard going on about when he was in here?”
“Oh, that.” Elizabeth smiled. “He was trying to convince me that you liked me as much as I like you.”
Rodney decided he would give Zelenka a compliment the next time he saw the Czech. Whatever that substance was stored in various beakers in the lab, it worked wonders. He also resolved to be nicer to John. Elizabeth kissed him again and Rodney, before he lost all cohesive thought, briefly wondered if he could apologise to the technician.