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Sorta Semi-Sweet

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Yet another giggle brought Rodney's head up and he glared across the lab at the offending minion. Miko ignored him in favor of one of Sheppard's mix-and-match jarheads, who'd presented her with some sort of allergen-spraying floral tribute he'd likely brought back from off-world against regulations. Rodney rolled his eyes and tried to return to work, but his concentration had been shattered and he couldn't fit the pieces back together. With a huff, he snapped his laptop shut and called out to Radek, "I'm getting something to eat then I'll work in my quarters the rest of the day."

Radek never looked away from his very close conversation with Simpson, merely nodding and waving the hand that wasn't holding out a bar of Kastany chocolate - chocolate he'd sworn he didn't have when Rodney had asked just two days earlier. Rodney almost opened his mouth to let Radek know how much he resented his disloyalty, but then he looked around the lab filled with smiling, happy people sharing sweets, spindly bouquets, and crude self-made cards. Settling for a disgruntled huff, he turned on his heel and left, hoping the mess chefs had managed something worthwhile for the damn holiday since he'd already had to put up with altogether too many PDAs that day.

The mess was crowded with cheerful people sharing tables and smiles. Rodney's team had been off-site for three days negotiating a mining agreement, so he resolved to grab something portable and take it back to his room. After filling one of the recyclable bottles with chami juice, he used his laptop as a tray to hold the bottle, two wrapped roast telek sandwiches, and a ripe herta. Reaching the end of the line, he caught sight of what he'd been hoping for: generously-sized, individually-wrapped, chocolate-frosted chocolate chip cookies. The fact that they were heart-shaped didn't slow Rodney's grab, but the server behind the counter did.

"Only one per customer, Dr. McKay."

Rodney frowned, but complied, settling his lonely cookie atop one of the sandwiches. He began to turn away when he suddenly remembered his absent team. "Can you make sure to save back three for my team? They aren't due back until 2000 today and you'll probably run out by then."

The server's impassive face was transformed by a smile. "I'll do just that, Dr. McKay. Happy Valentine's Day!"

Rodney restrained a 'humph' and turned to leave, narrowly missing a collision with a hand-holding couple. With another huff, he maneuvered through the crowd at the entrance to the mess and headed for his quarters, hoping to avoid any more reminders that he was alone on an over-rated, commercialized, pseudo-holiday.

Safe inside his quarters, he deposited his laptop on his desk before heading for his coffeepot. The juice and the herta might be a nod to Carson's constant lectures on proper nutrition, but Rodney was never going to give up coffee as his favored method of hydration. Coffee mug in hand, Rodney settled down in his desk chair with a relieved sigh and arranged laptop and lunch for optimum access, glad he was finally in a quiet, valentine-free environment.

Over the course of the next few hours, the sandwiches, juice and weird-shaped fruit were consumed in an absent-minded fashion, Rodney barely registering the taste as he read reports and poked at his latest proposal. When he reached out and found there was nothing left but the cookie, he paused, leaving it where it was, propped up against his desk lamp, a heart tipped to one side, all by itself. He reached out and poked it, leaving a small dent in the still soft frosting under the plastic wrap, suddenly wishing he could poke a hole in the romantic bubble surrounding Atlantis. With a frown, he got up to refill his mug, leaving the cookie where it was.

Engrossed in Radek's latest findings on the Ancient database, Rodney didn't register the time passing until he stretched and winced, his back letting him know he'd been sitting in one position for far too long. Groaning as he rose to his feet, Rodney glanced at his watch, realizing that the reason he was hungry was that it was nearly 2300 and he'd skipped dinner. He thought about wandering down to the mess, but he hated rummaging through the remainders of the day. Choosing the simplest solution, he reached into a desk drawer for a power bar, ripping it open and taking a bite as he wandered over to the window. He stood there chewing as he looked out over a starlit Atlantis, until he remembered his team should have returned by then.

Tapping his radio, he contacted the control room. "McKay here. Has AR-1 returned?"

"Yes, Dr. McKay," Chuck answered. "They arrived on schedule, no problems reported."

"Good, that's good." Rodney keyed off his mike and considered his options. It was still early for him. He'd worked past 0100 many a night, so he wasn't tired enough to sleep. It was 2320 and his team had probably cleared medical by then, so there was a chance Sheppard would be up for spending some time on the game.

Catching a whiff of himself as she shut down his laptop, he grimaced and decided a quick shower might be a good idea. Always a multi-tasker, he also shaved while he was under the water, humming as he considered what his next improvement in Geldar would be. A few minutes later, he was dressed and ready to issue his challenge. Tapping into their private channel, Rodney asked, "Sheppard, you there?"

"Hey, buddy. What's up?"

Rodney thought Sheppard sounded oddly cheerful for someone who'd spent days at a negotiating table, but he'd take it. "I was thinking if you are too tired, the game?"

Sheppard chuckled. "Great minds, right?"

Rodney was almost to the door when he stopped and looked at his watch again. It was 2348. Thinking for a moment, he turned back to his desk, picking up the cookie and weighing it in his hand. He almost put it back, but then he squared his shoulders in determination and headed for the door again. Before he could wave his hand over the access panel, the door slid open to reveal Sheppard standing in the hall.

They stood looking at each other until Sheppard raised a hand to rub the back of his neck and said, a little sheepishly, "I thought you were down at the game."

Rodney frowned, puzzled. "Then, why did you come here?"

"Um." Sheppard looked down the hall and then back at Rodney. "So, can I come in?"

Stepping back, Rodney waved him inside so the door could shut. "Sure, sure." It wasn't until he began to cross his arms that he remembered the cookie. Feeling the blood rush to his cheeks, he held the sweet treat out to Sheppard. "I, uh, well, here. For you."

Sheppard's smile was dazzling as he brought out the hand he'd been hiding behind his back. He showed Rodney an identical cookie. "I stopped by the mess and they gave me this. They said you made sure we got one." He looked down at the floor, the tips of ears pinker than usual. "I was gonna leave it for you. A kinda surprise...."

"Valentine?" Rodney's smile was so wide his cheeks hurt. "For me?"

Sheppard finally looked up and nodded. "Guess I sorta messed that up."

"No, no," Rodney disagreed, stepping closer. "You really didn't." He reached out slowly to touch Sheppard's cheek, the warm smoothness under his fingers evidence Rodney wasn't the only one who'd taken time to shave. "Is this okay, John?" he asked, waiting until John nodded before leaning in to press their lips together.

It was a heady, delicious few minutes before they parted, both more than a little breathless. Rodney looked down and then held his hand up in dismay. "Oh no!"

John chuckled at the no-longer heart-shaped treat. "That's the way the cookie crumbles."

"What?" Rodney squawked, shoving John back. "I can't believe I'm even considering having sex with someone who makes such appalling....." The rest of his protest tapered to mumbles as John pulled him back in for another kiss.

When John raised his head again, he asked with a smile, "Save them for breakfast?"

"Sounds perfect," Rodney said. "I've got coffee."