John hadn't stopped to change out of his gear, and there was an audible wet squishing sound every time he took a small step to one side or another of the gently steaming saucepan.
"Is that hot chocolate?" asked Ronon, trying to edge in closer without being obvious about it. It *smelled* like chocolate, that much was clear; but the liquid itself bore little resemblance to the dark thin piping hot drink that the mess served on chilly Lantean afternoons. John's concoction was a paler brown, ringed with lighter foam, and the way the spoon dragged against the surface hinted at its thick richness.
"It's cocoa," said John, in the same way McKay said It's Keith's when Ronon asked him if that was beer he was drinking.
Teyla rounded the corner, Torren balanced on her hip. She'd obviously changed into warm dry clothes in the half hour since they'd gated back, but her cheeks still held a hint of colour from the whipping wind they'd fought all the way back to the gate on MX3-235. "You wished us to come right away?" she asked, breathless and wide-eyed.
"Oh, hey," said John, "not an emergency or anything, just"-- and McKay appeared, winded from the short run, hair wild and obviously fresh from a hot shower. "Wow, sorry, I didn't mean to rush anyone. Did I sound worried or something?"
"You never sound worried," Ronon observed.
"That's, that's true," gasped McKay, "you could have a Wraith holding his hand to your chest and you'd sound the same as always. Figured it was, was an emergency if you wanted the whole team here."
"Oh," said John, and stirred some more. "Yeah, I just - I made cocoa."
Ronon half-expected McKay to fly off the handle at this, but instead he perked up visibly and said, "Like, real cocoa, cocoa?"
"Real cocoa," agreed John in a smug voice, "with real milk and chocolate and cocoa powder and sugar."
"This is an Earth delicacy?" asked Teyla, jogging Torren up and down and leaning in for a closer look.
"Not so much a delicacy as an underappreciated art," corrected McKay, jockeying for space around the saucepan. "Oh, god, please say you have marshmallows."
John pointed at a small plastic bag on the counter filled with miniature versions of the weird spongy sweets that McKay and Sheppard liked to toast over open fires. Ronon had never particularly gotten the appeal until the fateful night McKay had brought along aluminum foil, flat sweet crackers, and chocolate bars. Marshmallows were awesome.
"You're the best colonel in the galaxy," said McKay, already rapturous. "This almost makes up for my near brush with losing my feet to frostbite and gangrene."
"Youngest first," said John, and ladled some cocoa into a mug for Torren, topping it off with a few mini marshmallows.
McKay groused when John proceeded to give Teyla the next mug, and then Ronon, but finally they all had steaming hot mugs in their hands and they settled down around a small table usually reserved for the use of the mess staff. Ronon wrapped his fingers around his cup, savouring the heat seeping into his tired chilled joints. McKay had already dived nosefirst into his own cocoa, John was taking small contented sips, and Teyla was blowing on the surface of Torren's mug to cool it enough for a first taste.
Ronon wasn't usually one for balking over new food experiences, but something about John's air of ritual and McKay's obvious delight held Ronon in check, just for a moment. Ronon tilted the mug up, sniffed a little. The drink smelled rich, sweet, delicate. The small white marshmallows bobbed up and down on the surface, slowly dissolving into foamy puddles. Finally, Ronon took a sip.
"Good?" said John, watching Ronon closely with the same small eager half-smile he'd worn when he'd introduced Ronon to Die Hard.
"Warm," Ronon answered, mirroring John's smile. McKay was already heading back for seconds, and Torren was babbling the way little kids babbled over sweet things, and it was bright and cheery and close around the table. "It's good," Ronon added quietly, and John nodded, and they both meant all of it, all of them. It was warm, and it was good.