"Snow?! Why did it have to be snow?"
Rodney's grumpy question was right on schedule—about ten minutes after they'd all walked through the gate into an unexpected winter wonderland. The wind had just picked up enough to be felt through John's knit hat, and given that McKay's head wasn't covered by anything other than a thin layer of snow, John had been surprised it had taken him this long to complain. The message from the Ablisii surveyors had been sufficient enough to warrant SGA-1's involvement, but it hadn't warned of the climate conditions, and neither had the MALP. John fully expected to hear about how much McKay hated indoor alien stargate setups any minute now.
He looked over at Rodney, whose frustrated expression was (in John's closely-held opinion) completely disarmed by the flakes of snow that dusted his eyelashes.
"Well, Indiana," John said with a wide grin he aimed in Rodney's direction, "At least snowflakes don't bite."
Rodney snorted. "Speak for yourself, Pollyanna," he retorted without skipping a beat. "Next you'll be telling me I should be glad I'm not on crutches."
Out of the corner of his eye, John saw Teyla and Ronon exchanging glances—while he was fairly certain that at least Ronon had caught the Indiana Jones reference, there was no way in the universe he was going to explain Pollyanna to two Pegasus galaxy warriors.
"Besides," McKay continued, "Some of us were forced to use our hats in the line of duty."
"And we were all quite grateful for your sacrifice," Teyla cut in smoothly, tucking her windblown hair back behind her ears. "Your sister's strong woven cloth stopped the Hautan's coolant leak very effectively."
"Why didn't you just grab another hat before we left?" Ronon asked, flashing a quick grin at John before picking up his pace to take point.
"Oh, of course, because I have an endless supply of my sister's hand-made..." Rodney stopped speaking to glare at Ronon's back in a moment of dawning comprehension. "You're making fun of me!" he spluttered. "My ears are going numb and you're actually making fun of me!"
"Have to keep warm somehow," Ronon called back. Privately, John thought Ronon made a great point; enduring the following rant certainly warmed John up, and by the looks of Rodney's bright red cheeks and waving hands, it was doing him some good, too. McKay had graduated to the 'Ungrateful, that's what you all are—completely ungrateful' portion of his tirade when, through the light curtain of snow ahead of them, John saw Ronon's hand go up into a fist.
"Rodney, wait!" John hissed, but rather than paying attention to him, Rodney had turned around and started to walk backwards, still in full complaint mode. He was just out of Ronon's reach as he passed, and John's hastily spoken "Shit!" and desperate pitch forward wasn't enough to catch the scientist before he'd taken an indignantly steady step onto unsteady ground.
John had a moment to wonder whether he was expecting the snowdrift to give way under Rodney's feet because of instinct or the simple fact that it was bound to happen before it did just that and McKay went lurching sideways. His head landed heavily against a solid tree branch, knocking him out. It seemed to John as if the entire planet had turned silent at the sudden cracking sound.
"He's still breathing," Teyla said, brushing the snow from Rodney's still face.
"I'll get help—we shouldn't move him," Ronon said after a quick assessment, straightening up and starting back the way they'd come without waiting for either of them to agree.
"We will both go," Teyla called after him. She nodded quickly at John and moved to accompany Ronon.
John kind of felt like he'd been picked up by a whirlwind and then dropped into the middle of nowhere. A decidedly wet, strangely quiet (considering his company), snowy nowhere. After confirming that Rodney's breathing was steady and his pulse was normal, he reached into his vest and pulled out the compact extreme-weather sleeping bag he'd been carrying ever since he and Ronon had gotten trapped in a freezing cold cave the year before. Rodney's hands were already chilly (apparently Jeannie Miller was less talented at knitting gloves than she was hats and scarves), and John carefully moved them out of the snow onto Rodney's chest before pulling the survival blanket out of its packaging.
"I know it's not much, buddy, but it should help," John muttered as he unfolded the bivvy sack and started to carefully slide it up around Rodney's legs. He'd gotten to the knees and had decided to simply drape the rest of it on top when Rodney let out a pained groan and twitched.
"Oh God, that's a body bag, isn't it? I collapse in the snow and they've already given me up for dead!" Rodney moaned without opening his eyes, lifting a hand to gingerly pat at the back of his head. John knee-walked up to crouch closer to Rodney, figuring it would probably hurt his friend to have to lift his head to look for him.
"No one's given you up for dead, McKay," John said firmly. Rodney winced.
"And of course they leave me with the suicidal one. It figures."
Rodney still hadn't opened his eyes, and John's relief at the short time he'd spent passed out started to abate slightly. He leaned over, hoping he could examine Rodney's head without further exacerbating the other man's hypochondria. As he did so, Rodney started to mumble something.
"....going to go off looking for firewood and end up fighting a bear or something, just my luck. Unless I really am dead, in which case—"
Rodney's eyes popped open and caught John mid-lean, their faces barely six inches away from each other. John wanted to pull back, but at the same time, he told himself probably ought to examine Rodney's eyes for proper dilation...
"Oh," Rodney said softly, sounding surprised and almost hopeful. John just blinked down at him, torn as to what he should do, and then all of a sudden Rodney rolled his eyes and huffed out an almost-laugh, almost-cough that sounded suspiciously like "Pollyanna, indeed."
"You are the stupidest-looking angel I've ever seen, I hope you know that," he said to John. Then he reached up with cold but surprisingly strong fingers and pulled down on John's collar right as he lifted his head.
Rodney's lips were warm, just like they should have been, like John had always imagined they would be. In the back of his mind, something was shouting at him to pull back, but Rodney wasn't pulling back, and given the likelihood of concussion (or, at the very least, the certainty that McKay would claim one), he figured he might as well make the most of plausible deniability. The warmth of their contact spread across John's face and into his chest as shock and excitement made his heart beat faster and faster. Pretty much every other part of John was cold (especially his knees, where the snow had soaked his pants to the skin), but that made the moment even more perfect for being flawed, and therefore much more probable. Rodney's desperate grip on his shirt hadn't loosened, and John decided he really liked that, so he leaned in even further, chasing Rodney's tongue when it slipped out briefly to tease him.
His hand started aching with the effort of holding himself up, but John didn't want to get to the consequences part of their impulsive action just yet, so he tried to adjust it slightly—and ended up losing his balance and knocking Rodney's head (much more lightly this time, John hoped as he felt it happen beneath him) on the branch that had started it all. He was completely unsurprised when Rodney's tight clutch turned into a shove with lightning speed.
"Ouch! And clumsy, too!" Rodney grouched.
"An angel?" John retorted, feeling a lopsided grin starting to form against his will even as he could feel melting snow start to soak into the seat of his pants. He tried to hold back his smile, though; for all their typical banter, he really hoped he hadn't irrevocably screwed everything up by not pulling away.
"Yes, well... the whole 'death' theme, and honestly, I was just looking for something positive in all this mess," Rodney said angrily. He didn't look like he regretted anything, though—in fact, he looked every bit the same, despite the drastic shift in perspective he'd just steered them both through.
"I'd say you found something," John said, actually starting to relax. He spread out his hands behind him in the snow and started to pull them in again, gathering small bits of it with each finger.
"You would—you're not the one with a concussion and possible brain damage," Rodney said, but it was clear his heart wasn't in it.
"Excuses, excuses," John goaded, grinning. Then, hating himself just a little, he added, "So—were we going to talk about this?"
"Talk about what?" Rodney asked defensively, pulling himself up into a sitting position. "If you mean 'talk about what we're going to do to warm me up once we get back to Atlantis with the rescue team that's about fifty feet away,' I'd say no, unless you don't really like your job." Without looking over at John, Rodney raised a hand high and beckoned impatiently. John hooked a glance over his shoulder to see that Ronon, Teyla, Jennifer, and a few marines with a stretcher were jogging towards them.
"I definitely like my job," John said, getting to his feet with a surreptitious rub of his hands together to solidify his snowball. "It has it's downsides, sure, but there are some perks." At that, he waggled his eyebrows at Rodney, who rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"I'm just looking for reasons to be glad, Rodney—you taught me that!" John added, just to get the other man spluttering a little. It worked so well that, twenty minutes later he almost reconsidered slipping the snowball into Rodney's collar just as they walked back through the gate.