[identity profile] sgasesa-admin.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] sga_santa
Title: The Gift of Giving
Author: [livejournal.com profile] lantean_breeze
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] schneefink
Pairing: None, Gen.
Rating: K
Disclaimer: Not for profit, just holiday fun. :)
Author's Notes: It took a bit of thought to create a story where Ford, Keller, and Weir were all featured in some way, as well as Ronon and Teyla. I hope my recipient likes this. It was a fun challenge making it. Thank you for the request. :)
Summary: On a cold December morning, the team reminisces over breakfast about the holidays. This happens sometime between season 5's Vegas and Enemy At The Gate episodes.

---

Jennifer slides her tray through the breakfast line after opting for fruit salad and eggs with a piece of dry toast, but the thing she wants most is at the end of the line. "The usual, Dr. Keller?" Nathan asks.

"Yes, and I can't have it soon enough this morning," she replies.

"Not sleeping well? This is the second time you've said that this week."

"Rodney's not sleeping well, and when he doesn't sleep well--"

"I see," Nathan offers with a smile as he places the hot cup of creamy brown liquid onto her tray. With a tired wink, she picks up her tray and smiles at him before heading over to a well-populated table in the mess.

"Good morning, Jennifer," Teyla says in that bright, cheerful way that never seems to falter. Jenn greets her back and exchanges pleasantries with the rest of the group, all of who are still waking up. It never fails, Jennifer thinks. When everyone else is half asleep at the table, Teyla is always the one to be counted on as fresh and alert after her morning meditation. Jenn thinks of how Teyla once offered to teach her some meditation techniques that can lead to a deeper and more restful sleep pattern, and after last night, Jennifer is almost at the point of taking her up on that offer--almost. It's not that she doesn't care for meditating. There are clear medical benefits associated with it, and she's suggested it as a form of therapy for her patients in the past, plus she couldn't ask for a better and more patient teacher. The problem for Jennifer, as per usual, is her workload. If she had known what kind of responsibility she was taking on when she stepped in after Dr. Beckett died, she might have run in the other direction--she almost did, but Elizabeth was very persuasive, and that was that.

"What's that smile all about?" She looked up to see Colonel Sheppard looking at her in an inquisitive way, and then she noticed that she now had the table's attention--everyone but Rodney, that is. He was still plowing through his sausage and hash browns and hadn't come up for air since she sat down.

"Oh," she said as a hint of crimson hit her cheeks. Despite her giftings, Jennifer never was much for any kind of spotlight. "I was just thinking of Elizabeth and how she convinced me to take the post here. That's all."

At this, everyone grew a bit somber. John looked down and cleared his throat. "I remember that," he said. Jennifer's soft glare of incredulity was hard to miss. "I know I wasn't there at the time, but she told me about it later. She said you reminded her of herself when she was selected to lead the expedition, just more nervous and jumpy. She said she thought you'd do a good job."

Jennifer was so moved she forgot to breathe for a moment. A gruff voice from the other end of the table broke the spell and she inhaled. "I wish she was still here," said Ronon to no one in particular. "Nothing against Woolsey..."

"Yeah, she was pretty great. Heh, remember the first time the holidays rolled around after we got here? Well, you weren't here for that," Rodney nodded at Ronon, "and neither were you," he said as he looked over at Jennifer with warmness. "It was crazy. I mean who knew there were so many different holidays and different ways to celebrate them. Well, I did, but that's beside the point. Watching her trying to coordinate everything was a delightful little nightmare. Gah, and Ford. I think he was more excited than anyone. Remember the tree?"

"Yeah, how could I forget. I still have a scar from all the scratching," said John. Teyla noticed Ronon and Jennifer's confusion and began to fill them in with amusement.

"Aiden, Lieutenant Ford, took a team out into the forest--"

"He didn't even ask me," John chimed in.

Teyla's smile widened as she continued. "The Lieutenant spoke of a tradition where a tree is sacrificed annually as a symbolic offering to, I believe, the Chrismen God--"

"That's not quite it,'' John chimed in again before Rodney could go on another anti-religion rant. "It's not really an offering. It's supposed to be done in remembrance. And it's Christmas, not Chrismen."

"Christmas," Teyla repeated, "So, that is the name of the large man Aiden spoke of? The one that wears the red and white garments and brings presents to children in exchange for baked goods and cow's milk?"

"No, that's Santa Claus," answered John. "I think you're confusing it-"

"So what's Santa Claus then?" asked Ronon as he leaned forward to listen in better.

"I'll tell you what Santa Claus is," said Rodney. "He's a lie."

"Here we go," said John.

"I was eight years old when I discovered the truth. Scarred-me-for-life. My sister and I spent that night helping out mom in the kitchen baking cookies for Santa, and we set out a fresh batch with an ice-cold glass of milk right before bed. See," he looked at Teyla, "he's supposed to come while you're asleep, but I had a plan. I was going to meet him. I never got to see him at the mall because my dad complained about germs and how it was the cold and flu season and he wasn't willing to let us take the risk." His eyes narrowed as he looked away in thought. "I think he might have been a bit of a hypochondriac..."

John raised an eyebrow. "The apple didn't fall far from that tree," he observed loudly.

Rodney was stricken. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Speaking of trees," said Jennifer as she rubbed Rodney's back in a circular motion of support. "I'd like to hear the rest about what happened with Lieutenant Ford and the tree he brought in."

"May I join you?" was heard off to the side. The voice was as clear as the morning sky and as crisp as the uniform he wore.

"Of course, Mr. Woolsey," said Teyla. She slid her chair closer to John's to make room for him.

"Thank you," he said as he placed a sparsely laden tray down between Teyla and Jennifer's at the end of the table. This detail was not lost on Jenn as she observed a touch of exhaustion around the expedition leader's eyes. He had definitely lost a few pounds. Nothing serious, but she decided to bring it up casually anyway.

"That's not a meal," she said as she looked at the plain piece of bread laying next to a cup of milk.

"Oh, well, I haven't been able to keep much down lately. But nevermind my breakfast, what is the topic of discussion this morning?"

It was his little secret. Often times, these discussions, ranging from the most trivial of subjects to very deep and poignant thoughts and memories, were the best part of his day. The feeling of kinship with a team that was coming to accept him, slowly but surely, along with the breathtaking view of the ocean while the sun was still rising, was routinely a brief respite from the daily challenges he had to face.

"Oh, Rodney was just reliving one of his many childhood traumas. This one's about Santa Claus," said John wryly.

Jennifer squeezed Rodney's thigh to keep him from responding. She was in no mood for their bickering this morning. "Ouch," he said as he looked over at her. "That hurt."

Ronon grinned.

"No," she said playfully as she turned to Richard. "We were all listening to Teyla tell us about the time Lieutenant Ford took a team out to cut down a Christmas tree and bring back it to the base."

"Yes, I recall reading that file," said Woolsey. He took a sip of his milk and looked up afterward only to notice that he was very clearly not expected to stop there. "Well as you know, while assuming the responsibilities of any position, it is imperative to know all one can about the situation he," Richard looks at Teyla and Jennifer, "or she is walking into. Therefore, I made a point of reading all of the professional logs that Dr. Weir and Colonel Carter entered while they held the administrative duties of Atlantis." He took another sip of milk and then added with a note of finality, when the silence born of curiosity persisted, "And those files are confidential."

"Then why'd you bring it up?" asked Ronon. The question was half rhetorical seeing as he didn't really expect a response, but the point was made. Jennifer shot a quick disapproving look at Ronon. "Sorry," he said with some amusement.

Teyla noticed a slight flushing on the sides of Woolsey's face. Irritation? Embarrassment? She couldn't be sure. She interjected afterward. "It must have taken a great deal of time to read through all of those logs, Mr. Woolsey. It is a clear sign of your dedication."

"Thank you, Teyla, and please, call me Richard," he replied. He seemed relieved by her comment. Embarrassment then, she thought. She smiled kindly at him.

Calling Mr. Woolsey by his first name, a sign of familiarity, was a suggestion he had made before, but she had yet to take him up on the offer. She seemed to have a natural sense of deference, Woolsey noted again as they looked at each other, and she never became too familiar with anyone too fast. It was something Richard liked about Ms. Emmagan, and it was one of several things he'd come to find they had in common. "I believe I have to echo Dr. Keller's, Jennifer's, request," he said with what she knew to be his version of a smile. The crimson quickly dissipated from his complexion as he relaxed again. "I would like to hear your account of that situation. Please, continue."

John leaned back in his chair and said in a low voice, "You, me, and Ronon. We'll talk about Christmas versus Santa Claus later."

Teyla sat down her tea and resumed her story. "Aiden was ecstatic. I could tell that this series of rituals was very important to him. He went to the mainland with a team of soldiers and they cut down a tree and brought it back through the gate in the back of a jumper. Poor Aiden. He did not know that there was a colony of turtuya bugs in the tree--"

"Those damn bugs got loose and they were eating every one alive!" said John.

"That is not quite accurate," said Teyla. "They mostly feed on dead skin."

"Mostly, " said John. "They eat your skin and skitter around all over your body. You can't see them they're so small, and at first we didn't know what was going on. It's even worse when you bathe because that's when they dig their feet or whatever into you to stay on you and not get washed away. You get these red blotches all over from where they've burrowed in. It was awful," spluttered John.

Teyla blinked in his direction, holding back a laugh, as she could tell that he needed to get that off of his chest. She waited a beat to make sure that he was finished and then continued.

"There is an herb on the mainland that is very easy to use to rid one's self of the turtuya. You simply bathe with it. It is a standard ingredient in Athosian soap. The smell is quite pleasant to most humans, but the turtuya cannot stand it," said Teyla.

"Yeah, guess what soap we all use now," added Rodney.

Teyla noticed the look on Woolsey's face. "I will give you a bar to try if you would like," she said to him.

"That would be appreciated," he replied. "And I'll keep it in mind to use it before heading out into the mainland here."

"Oh, the turtuya do not reside on this planet," said Teyla, "but the soap will help to protect you from other things. My people spent a great deal of time perfecting the best blends over the centuries."

"So was it worth it?" asked Ronon. "Getting the tree?"

"The tree was never used for celebration. It was discarded as soon as the outbreak began, but we all participated in the gift giving, which is another ritual Lieutenant Ford spoke of," she answered.

"Yeah, that was kind of nice," reminisced John. "We couldn't buy anything, so we all made each other gifts."

"Yes, it is a very nice custom. I remember Aiden telling me that it is not the gifts one receives that are the best part of Christmas, but the gift you give yourself by giving to the ones you love."

"He was a good kid," said Rodney as everyone sat in silence.

"Yeah, he was," agreed John after a moment passed. The somber feeling had returned as people were emptying out of the mess hall.

"I wish I could have met him," said Jennifer as she looked down at her watch. "Oh, I can't believe this much time has passed. I'm late for my shift," she said as she got up with her tray.

Rodney hopped up as well. "I gotta get to the lab. Zelenka and I are working on a way to get more power efficiency usage from the Z(de PMs as a power source. So far, we haven't gotten anywhere, but there are a couple of things I thought about last night that I'd like to try," he said. He kissed Jennifer on the cheek and was gone before anyone could reply.

Jennifer looked at Teyla and said "Lunch?" to which Teyla replied, "Of course." She quickly headed off while Ronon swallowed the last of his orange juice.

"You know where I'll be," he said to no one in particular as he left to teach a new group of Atlantis combat trainees.

"I guess I should get around to doing the paperwork I've been putting off," added John with a sigh as he casually raised himself out of his chair and strolled away.

Teyla sipped the last bit of her tea and then turned to Richard. "It will get better," she said before getting up and going about her duties.

She placed a hand on his shoulder before walking away. "Progress," he said softly to himself. He'd learned that for Athosians, touch is very regulated.

Was it the sign of a budding friendship? He couldn't know, but it was a sign of something, and that by itself felt like a gift. It would be a while before he had to attend another meeting on the other side of the gate at Homeworld Command. So, he decided to sit and watch the sun continue to rise. He had a never ending load of reports to read and generate, logistical data to sift through, and prepping for the meeting wouldn't be a bad thing to do either.

Soon, he would feel the tension and the stress of balancing the varying needs and agendas of Homeworld Command, the IOA, and Atlantis.

But...

For the next few moments, he wasn't going to feel any of that. For the next few moments, all he would feel is gratitude.

The end. :)

Date: 2012-12-21 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rabidfan.livejournal.com
A very nice "slice of life" story of team affection. I confess to being very fond of Mr. Woolsey and enjoyed seeing him treated so well here! Good job.

Date: 2013-01-03 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm fond of him too, and I enjoy writing him.

Date: 2012-12-22 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schneefink.livejournal.com
Awww, such a lovely warm extended team story! <3 Thank you so much, Santa!! It's so nice to see them think about the people they've lost as fond memories, not just guilt and regret. And the bugs sound very creepy - a pity they didn't even use the tree :)

Date: 2013-01-03 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you like it!!! Thank you for your kind words. I really enjoyed writing it and I was happy to get your request. This truly was a wonderful experience. :)

SGA Newsletter - December 21, 2012!

Date: 2012-12-22 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] livejournal.livejournal.com
User [livejournal.com profile] neevebrody referenced to your post from SGA Newsletter - December 21, 2012! (http://sga-newsletter.livejournal.com/679715.html) saying: [...] : The Gift of Giving (Gen, K) [...]

Date: 2012-12-22 05:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mandykaysfic.livejournal.com
I thoroughly enjoyed this. Nice to hear the reminiscing involving Elizabeth & Ford. I liked Woolsey & Teyla's interaction also.

Date: 2013-01-03 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it. It was fun to write a story that included pretty much everyone of the mains. :)
Edited Date: 2013-01-03 09:00 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-12-24 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saffronhouse.livejournal.com
Lovely Christmas moment on Atlantis!

Date: 2013-01-03 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you! I appreciate the comment, and lovely Zelenka icon!!! :)

Date: 2012-12-29 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] that-which.livejournal.com
I like how Woolsey's feeling like an outsider is paralleled by Jennifer's needing reassurance from Elizabeth and poor Ford's attempt to transplant an earth tradition to the Pegasus galaxy without having all the facts. This was very neat.
Edited Date: 2012-12-29 08:15 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-03 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for such a perceptive and kind comment. I truly appreciate it!! :)

Date: 2013-01-01 10:19 am (UTC)
ext_15707: (Atlantis city of dreams)
From: [identity profile] aqualegia.livejournal.com
A very enjoyable and touching slice of life story.

Date: 2013-01-03 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :)

Date: 2013-01-03 07:59 pm (UTC)
runpunkrun: batman looking grim in a santa hat (he knows if you've been bad or good)
From: [personal profile] runpunkrun
"I'll tell you what Santa Claus is," said Rodney. "He's a lie."

"Here we go," said John.


Hee! I love the sense of family this has. Everyone talking over the top of each other, and looking out for each other, and sharing memories of the people they've lost.

Date: 2013-01-03 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!! That's what I love about Atlantis. The entire team is wonderful like that, even when they're annoyed with each other, everything they do is motivated by caring and has love in the background. I'm glad you liked it. :)

Date: 2013-01-05 02:43 am (UTC)
ext_384643: (SGA blue city)
From: [identity profile] sexycazzy.livejournal.com
lovely and liked that Woolsey was allowed to join the team and talking/sharing stories about the good old days! Lovely!

Date: 2013-01-08 10:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Thank you! I must confess an unexpected soft spot for him once I started doing little bits of fanfic. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2013-01-07 12:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mific.livejournal.com
A nice character piece with nostalgia and great team interactions. Woolsey was excellent.

Date: 2013-01-08 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lantean-breeze.livejournal.com
Oh, that means so much! Thank you!

♥LB

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