Rodney's way to the fresh coffee was blocked. While this would be a cause for complaint on any normal day, today it was unacceptable. There was absolutely no way that Rodney could get through mail call day without a heavy self-prescription of caffeine.
Mail call day had been the bane of his life since it was implemented, shortly after they re-established contact with Earth three - no, wait it was four - could it really have been that long? - years ago.
The regular supply runs by the Daedalus brought more than the usual cargo of weapons, uniforms, medicines, equipment and woefully underprepared scientists; also included in the hold of the ship were dozens upon dozens of personal packages ranging from redirected care packages sent by kindly family members who no doubt thought their cherubic little boy was keeping the peace in some war-torn country in the middle of nowhere, to the crates of DVDs and other entertainment items that the members of the expedition chose to spend their hard-earned wages on.
The fact that they were, in fact, getting paid for their work here was something that Rodney had completely forgotten during that first year. He probably wasn't the only one who had got a pleasant surprise when he saw his bank balance for the first time since taking that giant leap through the gate.
This massive influx of personal mail, all of which was beamed to a central holding room on Atlantis, caused the kind of chaos that was normally associated with shopping malls on Christmas Eve or electronic stores on Black Friday. Carson’s staff had actually ended up treating over a dozen people for stampede type injuries. During the subsequent meeting to ensure that the chaos didn't happen again, Rodney had tried very hard to look like someone who hadn't jabbed an elbow into the eye of some random marine whose hands were getting a bit too close to the special order of chocolate with his name on it. If John's smirk was anything to go by, he didn't succeed.
His elbow had hurt for weeks afterwards.
It had been Elizabeth who had suggested the current mail call system. Everyone would gather in the mess hall, the personal packages would be held centrally and distributed by a randomly chosen member of the expedition and distributed one by one until nothing was left.
Rodney’s complaints about the waste of time and resources were shot down by the rest of the senior staff who all felt that the system at least deserved a trial. Kate Heightmeyer - she had been blonde at the time, Rodney still missed the blonde sometimes even if he did quite like the red - had clinched the go-ahead by claiming it would be a way to boost morale and cement cohesiveness amongst the expedition.
She was right.
Mail call day was a hit, loved, seemingly, by everyone but Rodney. It was almost enough for him to wish that the Daedalus had never made it to Atlantis.
(It wasn't. Nothing could be. Not when he considered what would have happened if they hadn't beamed John out of that jumper. Even now, three years later, he was still occasionally almost overcome by the urge to grab Caldwell by the back of the neck and kiss him.)
Still, the fact remained, Rodney’s way to the coffee machine was blocked. He was a second away from complaining loudly (possibly even bringing his elbow in to play again in an effort to force his way through) when a large travel mug filled with heavenly caffeine was waved in front of his nose.
“Am I the best, or am I the best?”
Rodney glared ineffectually at John as he accepted the mug. Ineffectual, because as much as Rodney hated mail call day, John loved it innumerably more. He actually counted down the days to the next one on the calendar that Rodney had made for their wall and the last time a Wraith attack interrupted the schedule, Rodney could swear that he had seemed more upset about missing the mail call than the darts that were attacking the city.
“Isn't it your turn to act like Santa Claus?” Rodney grumbled. He knew it was. John had spoken of nothing else for the past week. It was his first time doing it and hopefully his last. Rodney wasn't sure he could put up with the weirdness of an excited and bouncing John Sheppard again. “Shouldn't you be up there getting ready?”
“I'm just going,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that you had something to get you through. No leaving halfway through, remember?”
“We will not let him,” Teyla said as she appeared at Rodney's side from out of nowhere. How someone who was seven months pregnant could move that quietly, Rodney didn't know.
He felt the bulk of Ronon at his other side and sighed. No escape. John just grinned at him, bouncing on his heels like a schoolboy. It was almost enough to make Rodney smile. He took a sip of the coffee to hide any burgeoning uptick of his lips; appearances had to be maintained after all.
John waited until he had finished sipping, then grabbed the back of Rodney's head and brought their lips together for a soft kiss as the lights blinked that it was time to start.
“That's my cue,” he said with a grin, loping off to the front of the room and leaving Rodney blushing fiercely. It had only been five months since DADT had been repealed for all SGC personnel and Rodney wasn't used to public displays yet although each little kiss or touch just made him want more. At the rate he was craving these PDAs He figured it would only take another few months before he would be perfectly ok with John fucking him in the middle of the gate room. Or maybe not.
Rodney sighed and settled in, leaning against the wall to watch the drudgery that was mail call day.
Not everyone opened their parcels right there in the mess hall (some mail is more personal than others after all and nobody wanted a repeat of the time Cadman showed off her new rampant rabbit to the entire expedition - well, except maybe Cadman herself) but most did and at some point during the past four years, it had become custom to wait until the previous recipient had opened their mail before the next one was handed out. It was like the largest, most tedious Secret Santa anyone could imagine.
Still, Rodney made note of the oatmeal and honey cookies that Dr Chakrabati’s grandma had sent him, mentally noting that he really should stop by the chemist’s desk later and commend him on a job well done on the - well, he'd figure out something to say later.
Radek had taken possession of a large box that he refused to open, obviously something for the still that nobody claimed to know about it but all partook of anyway.
Rodney then spent a good fifteen minutes explaining the purpose of the various baby items that Jeannie had sent to Teyla. She seemed especially confused by the pee-pee tee-pee and really Rodney was just ready for the whole thing to be over so he could escape the conversation.
And then, finally, they were down to the last item. The buzz of chatting in the room was silenced as John cleared his throat and announced that the last package was for none other than Rodney himself.
Rodney grudgingly passed his travel mug to Ronon while he waited for the box to make its way to him, being passed from person to person like a conveyor belt until it reached him. He hadn't ordered anything for himself this time around but it wasn't unheard of for Jeannie to send him something. He just hoped it wasn't another penis enlarger. Telling his sister about mail call day had been a mistake.
Ready to get the whole thing over with, Rodney barely even looked at the box before ripping it open. He could feel curious eyes on him and knew they were all hoping Jeannie was up to her old tricks so he glared at them pre-emptively, just daring them to laugh.
He was so busy glaring that he didn't notice what was in the box until Teyla gasped quietly next to him. Looking down, his heart seemed to stop as he took in the black velvet ring box he was now holding.
He looked quickly up at John who no longer looked excited. Instead, he looked nervous and sick. He nodded softly, answering the question in Rodney's eye.
Rodney swallowed the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat and opened the box.
The silence in the room was as heavy as lead. No, not lead, as heavy as uranium as Rodney slowly and carefully took the ring in his hand.
“What do you say?” John spoke up, his voice strangely strangled.
Rodney took the ring and placed it on his left ring finger, where it fit perfectly. He smiled up at John, clearing his throat to make sure his voice didn't crack.
He didn't succeed.
“I say that, suddenly, mail call day is my favourite day ever." He paused. "That's a yes by the way. Yes. Idiot."