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It's Witchcraft

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“What are you making for dinner tonight?” Rodney asked absentmindedly, furiously responding to emails, in between large gulps of coffee and heaping forkfuls of scrambled eggs.

“Dinner?” John opened the fridge, peered inside, and shrugged. “I dunno. We’ve got some burgers. I could grill?”

Rodney spluttered, which John thought was odd, given that he’d happily eaten burgers at least four times last week. Rodney was nothing if not a man of habit.

“You can’t serve burgers to my boss! Have you been listening at all when I talk about how important it is that I get on this new research team?”

John took three long, deep breaths. “Rodney. Are we having your boss over for dinner?”

“What? Of course! And his wife, and that stupid archaeologist that I think is maybe part of some sort of triad with them. Oh! And Zelenka. I need someone here who can make me look smart. I’m sure I told you last week, when I… oh.” Rodney took in the glare, and smiled sheepishly. “I forgot to tell you, didn’t I?”

Rodney rose, leaving his dirty dishes out on the table and pressed a kiss against John’s cheek, heading towards the living room to grab his laptop case and car keys.

John rubbed at his temples. “For the last time, Rodney. I am not your housewife. You can’t just expect me to whip together a dinner party out of thin air!”

He eyed Rodney’s dishes disdainfully and with a sigh and a waggle of his eyebrows, the plate and mug were instantly clean. He grabbed them, just in time for Rodney to sweep back into the kitchen, pour the rest of the coffee into his travel mug, and grab his packed lunch.

“But you always manage to pull something off! Look, you washed and dried the dishes in the last fifteen seconds! You’re just better at this than me!”

Rodney gave him a final peck on the cheek, a slap on the ass, and was out the door before John could even protest.

---

The thing was, John always did manage to pull something off. Magic had a funny way of making the impossible seem easy. Still, Rodney didn’t know that, and it would be nice for his husband to show a bit of appreciation sometimes. 

John could almost hear his father’s cold, disapproving voice in his head. That’s what you get for marrying a mortal.

Rodney was just lucky that John had the day off from the bookshop, and had time to swing by the stores for groceries. Of course, his mother had always just summoned their food, but it had usually tasted bland and a bit over-salted. He gathered ingredients for beef bourguignon, potatoes dauphinoise, a salad, and apple pie. All easy enough to make - especially when you could chop vegetables and roll out a pie crust with a couple of shakes of an eyebrow.

The house was already pretty tidy, and with just a couple waggles of his brows, the table was set and Rodney’s most dubious pulp SciFi novels were hidden. He’d cleaned up the living room just last night, moving his face into ever more ridiculous contortions and flicking his finger to put away Rodney’s papers and collection of coffee mugs, all while Rodney sat blissfully unaware on the couch, engrossed in his latest data set.

He might not be able to actually tell Rodney about his powers, but it had become a bit of a game to John, to see how much he could get away with without Rodney noticing. He’d once changed the color of their kitchen appliances every day for a whole week, from lemon yellow to fuchsia to avocado green, and Rodney had never commented, not once. The man really had his head in the clouds.

Of course, that was what had attracted John in the first place. After a lifetime of spells and potions, wishes and curses, Rodney had introduced him to another type of magic, one that consisted of atoms and elements and forces and a wide spiraling universe, right at his fingertips. 

And Rodney loved him. Not for his powers (well maybe for that one trick he sometimes used in bed), but for his bad sense of humor, his nerdy cultural references, his gravity defying hair, his loyalty, his bravery.

If that wasn’t worth magicking away a few dirty dishes and putting on a dinner party, then what was?

John blinked, and his ripped jeans and flannel shirt were replaced by a white button down, a suit jacket, and slacks. 

A little wine, a lot of food, and some magic, John thought. Piece of cake. They’d woo Rodney’s guests for a few hours, John would waggle away the clean up, and they’d be in bed in time for Rodney to show his enthusiastic appreciation. Not bad for a Tuesday night.

---

The evening had started off promising. The guests were on time, Rodney’s clothes were miraculously unstained and mostly unwrinkled, and O’Neill had complimented his wine choice, before first pouring a glass for Jackson and then another for his wife, Sam. 

Rodney had started babbling on about his latest research, which drew both Zelenka and Sam into an impassioned argument about photons, and John took his opportunity to exit.

“If you’ll just excuse me, I need to go check on dinner,” John smiled winsomely, scooting past Rodney, who was so distracted he didn’t even pause, just kept gesturing wildly with his wine glass, leaving John grateful that he could remove wine stains with just a single look.

Checking on dinner really just consisted of waving his hands to chop the vegetables and beef into the right sizes, and playing on his phone while a rolling pin worked the pie crust on the counter. It was a great way to spend a dinner party, John thought.

He could spend most of the evening hiding in the kitchen, avoiding conversation in favor of beating his latest high score, and emerge at the end of the night to accolades and gratitude for slaving away all evening in the kitchen. Win-win.

Only after just a few minutes, the kitchen door swung open, and Jackson sauntered in, followed closely by O’Neill. It was only his pilot’s reflexes that saved him, and John’s hand shot out to grab the rolling pin. He quickly leaned down and did his best approximation of rolling pastry, pausing for a moment and looking up, as if he’d just noticed his guests.

“Oh! Hey guys. Can I get you anything?” John asked, cheery and smiling so wide he thought his cheeks might cramp.

“The scientists are off in their own little world, so I thought I’d come and offer to help with dinner.” Jackson was earnest, and handsome in a bit of a geeky way. John could see the appeal.

“And I thought I’d follow Danny, here,” O’Neill replied, completely shameless as he leaned close to Jackson. The Air Force sure had loosened up since he’d been discharged; that, or O’Neill really was so important that he was confident in his ability to bend and break the rules.

“Thanks, but I got it under control here. Why don’t you head back out to the living room? I know Rodney was looking forward to speaking to you tonight, General.”

Jackson shook his head. “I know Sam, and I know that look in her eyes. She’ll go on for the next half hour if we let her, and I doubt Rodney or Radek are much better.”

“Yeah, best to let the geeks tire themselves out before dinner, otherwise we’ll be hearing about wormhole theory all night.” O’Neill leaned against the counter and took a long drink of wine. “C’mon. Put Danny here to work.”

John tasked Jackson with the salad, which seemed straightforward enough, and turned his own attention to the potatoes, eyeing the slices carefully and wondering if he needed to boil them before he put them in the baking tray. 

John’s usual method of cooking was point and zap, with the occasional hands-free stirring. In fact, the only part he really did the old fashioned way was adding the spices, and even then he was used to summoning whatever jar he needed with a simple raised eyebrow. 

Cooking with an audience was not exactly going well.

He fumbled his way through an approximation of the potatoes, sprinkled some cheese on top, popped it in the oven and hoped for the best. Jackson was too distracted by the salad, and some rambling story about a dig in Peru to notice, but O’Neill was eyeing him closely, and John didn’t like it.

“Aren’t you gonna… pre-heat the oven?” he asked after a long moment. John winced.

“Right, yeah. Old family trick. You, uh, don’t turn the oven on til the potatoes are in. It cooks them more evenly.”

“Right…” O’Neill squinted at him, before leaning over Jackson to steal a piece of cucumber.

John turned his attention to the pie. There was no way he’d be able to do this by hand - the apples still needed chopping and his crust was lumpy and dry. He needed magic and he needed the kitchen to himself. 

“You sure you guys don’t want to take a load off? You’re guests in our home, I feel awful putting you to work,” he tried, sugary sweet.

“Nope, we’re alright.” O’Neill grinned.

Fine, John thought. A distraction then. 

Suddenly, there was the telltale whine of a firework being shot off, followed by a loud bang and a bright light. O’Neill winced, moved instinctively towards Jackson, and oops, John thought. Maybe not the best choice for a house half-filled with current and former service members, but really, he’d been frazzled.

There was another bang and a flash of red light, and O’Neill stormed through the kitchen and into the living room, Jackson close on his heels.

“Just what the hell is going on out here?” he called.

“There seems to be some sort of firework show going on. It’s right outside the house,” Sam answered.

“What’s the occasion?” Jackson asked.

“Independence Day?” John stifled a laugh at Rodney’s suggestion. 

“Rodney. It is October.” Zelenka sounded bemused.

“Oh. Guy Fawkes Night?”

“That is in November. And we are in the United States.”

“Right.”

The display went on for another ten minutes, long enough for John to magic the pie together, and get the beef bourguignon stewing. By the time O’Neill wandered back into the kitchen, John was wiping down the counters, and offering an easy grin.

“Did you enjoy the display?” he asked, even as O’Neill regarded him (and the pie) with suspicion.

---

Dinner itself went smoothly. John kept his eyebrows stationary, Rodney only managed to insult Sam once, and best of all O’Neill, in between appreciative bites of his dinner, seemed to be taking Rodney’s suggestions seriously. 

“I know you have Lee working on… that thing… but given my background with the… project I did last month, and Zelenka’s work on… that other thing… I really think we should be moved onto the team.”

Jackson hid a small snort, until Sam leaned over and whispered something in his ear that had him laughing outright. O’Neill smiled at them both indulgently. 

“Alright kids, settle down. Look, McKay, you make some good, if oblique, points. How about you, me, and Zelenka have a chat somewhere a bit more classified tomorrow, and we drop the topic for now. John,” he said, turning to him. “I believe I saw some apple pie?”

Rodney’s eyes lit up with glee, and he and Zelenka toasted, as John headed back to the kitchen.

John cut the pie with a large serving knife, and dished out slices along with vanilla ice cream. They all dug in, and Rodney made those little moaning noises that always reminded John that seasoning the food himself was definitely worthwhile.

Oh yeah, despite all the stress of the night, it had been totally worth it. The night had been an unequivocal success.

Which was why he was surprised to hear O’Neill call out, “Sheppard, think fast!” as he grabbed the serving knife and flung it in Rodney’s direction.

Time seemed to slow. Vaguely, John was aware of Rodney’s squawk, Zelenka’s startled yell, Sam lunging across the table. But all he could focus on was Rodney - the fear on his face, the sharp knife flying towards him. 

John raised his eyebrows, reached out a hand, and the knife halted mid-air, just inches from Rodney’s left arm.

“What the hell was that O’Neill?” Rodney yelled, as Sam, Jackson and Zelenka all stared, open mouthed, at the knife hovering over the table. Finally, Rodney noticed the knife, and he turned to look at John, eyes wide with wonder.

“John?” he asked, gently. 

“What the hell were you playing at?” Jackson snapped at O’Neill, who had a weird smile on his face.

“Just confirming a suspicion. That pie turned out particularly well, given that you didn’t actually bake the crust first. Plus, I saw you magic away that wine stain on McKay’s shirt when you thought no one was looking.” John winced.

“So what, you thought attempting to murder McKay was the best way to confirm your suspicions?” Sam asked, looking far too amused for a woman whose husband had just thrown a knife at their dinner host.

“If Sheppard hadn’t reacted, I would have stopped it.”

“You’re a warlock,” Rodney said in awe. He was eyefucking John, the way he sometimes did when John corrected his math, or did actual, manual yardwork. 

“Witch, actually,” John corrected. “And so are you,” he said to O’Neill, more a statement of fact than an accusation.

O’Neill grinned. “Guilty as charged. Now Sam, let’s see if we can rustle up some paperwork for John here to sign. John, pour yourself another glass of wine. I’m going to tell you about a little thing called the ATA gene…”