Title: Two for the Price of One
Characters: Carson, Elizabeth, John, Kavanaugh, Miko, Radek, Rodney, Ronon, Teyla
Relationships: Zelenka/Weir, McKay/Beckett, others I won't ruin the story by putting here
Warnings: Gloopy romantic stuff
Summary: It's Rodney's birthday and Carson's arranged a small, private party that turns out to be more than a birthday celebration
Author's Note: lillyjk said she needed happy, non-angsty fic. So, I wrote this. This uses the same restaurant set-up as The Entrepreneur and is, therefore, theoretically a follow-up to it. However, I hope it's readable as a stand-alone. If you haven't read that, the basic concept is that Radek and Miko are running a small, private establishment for individual couples to have something approaching a normal date on Atlantis. It's also, occasionally, used for private parties.
Disclaimer: The characters, the setting, etc. are NOT mine, even if I wish they were.
When Radek had asked her to go as his date to the party, Elizabeth had hesitated. She had her own invitation, of course, so it wasn't like she'd miss it by turning him down. And she had her authority to consider. There were only a few people who knew she and Radek had been dating for a couple of months and Radek seemed happy to keep it that way.
On the other hand, it would be awkward to attend after turning Radek down and she doubted too many of the attendees would be surprised to see them together. It was, after all, a private birthday party for Rodney, not an Atlantis-wide event.
"Sure," she said. "I'd enjoy it. Do you know who's been invited?"
He nodded. "Dr. Beckett is organising it and, of course, Rodney will be there. Rest of Rodney's team-- Colonel Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon-- has been invited. And me and you. Plus, of course, dates if people want, but many will be coming with those already invited. Fournier is cooking-- though the entree is steak or chicken, rather than something fancy since Rodney worries about citrus-- and Miko will be serving."
"But you don't know for certain who the dates are yet, right?"
"No. Obviously, I have some ideas, but..." He shrugged.
"Right. Clientele confidentiality."
He nodded. She understood with the nature of his business that he couldn't divulge such private information. "Steak or chicken?" he asked.
She considered. She knew neither was likely to be actual terran beef or poultry, but Fournier did a good job with the Pegasus equivalents. "I think I'm more in the mood for chicken."
"Good. I'll put you down for that, then." He reached out and briefly squeezed her hand. "I'll pick you up at six on Wednesday, then."
She managed to get back to her apartment early enough to change for the party. The invitation had specified "jeans-level casual." She stood, inspecting herself in the mirror, turning and eying her denim-clad backside critically. She could stand to lose a couple of pounds, she decided, though a birthday party wasn't really a good place to start.
There was a quick knock at her door. She glanced at her watch. Right on time.
Radek stood, wearing soft-looking jeans and a denim shirt over a turtleneck. She'd never seen Radek in jeans before. She decided she wanted to see him in them more often.
"Hi," she said, smiling. "Come in. I need to get my shoes."
He stepped in, giving her a brief kiss once the doors closed behind him. As always, his kiss was warm and inviting and sent sparks of desire through her. As always he stopped seconds before the kiss got too intense. It frustrated her, but yet she was touched that he wasn't pushing it with her.
She considered his shoes-- the trainers he usually wore-- and went with a simple pair of deck shoes for herself to keep from towering over him, even though he didn't seem to mind. She found his comfort with himself the way he was strangely attractive.
They walked down the corridor chatting companionably about the latest news from earth, which was, granted, a couple of months old, but was still new to them. He was using both hands to talk, which left her yearning for the return of his hand to her back, so warm and comfortable. When they entered the transporter, she took his hands and put them on her waist, smiling at him.
Behind his glasses, his eyes sparkled and then he kissed her again, pulling back with regret as the transporter doors opened on the corridor where he and Miko had set up their little private enterprise.
Miko greeted them when they arrived and showed them to a circular table where the other guests had already gathered. She quickly took in the rest of the guests. She was surprised to see Kavanaugh there. He hadn't been on the invitation list, though he was arguing amiably with McKay over the number of dimensions it took to adequately model their current understanding of wormhole physics. Carson, sitting next to Rodney nodded to her and rolled his eyes at the discussion. John, sitting between Rodney and Kavanaugh, looked bemused. He caught sight of her and tensed slightly before nodding his greeting. She wondered about his reaction. He knew she and Radek were dating-- had even cooked for them on a couple of their dates.
Unfortunately, it looked like the only two chairs open were between Kavanaugh and Teyla. Radek seated her next to the other woman, taking a seat next to his fellow scientist. It put her directly across from Rodney at the round table. He broke off momentarily to nod at their arrival and then went on.
"Look, fourteen dimensions provides for an inadequate number of interactions. We're talking... what? Uh..."
"87,178,291,200," John supplied.
"Right. Whereas fifteen dimensions have, uh..."
"1,307,674,368,000 interactions," John said.
Kavanaugh was smirking at John. Rodney was getting flustered.
Teyla smiled at Elizabeth. "How are you this evening, Doctor Weir?"
"I'm fine, Teyla. Thank you."
Ronon, on the other side of Teyla nodded. "Hey."
"Hello, Ronon. How are you?"
"Fine," he answered.
"What I'm saying," Kavanaugh argued, "is that your model is too complex. The extra dimension is unnecessary and unaesthetic. The fourteen-dimensional model--"
"Doctors," Radek interrupted. "While I find this discussion fascinating, perhaps something of more interest to all guests would be in order."
The two astrophysicists paused. "Sorry," Rodney said. "We'll, uh, take this up later."
Kavanaugh nodded. "You can count on it, McKay."
Miko took the cue and stepped up to the table. "Thank you all for coming this evening. We will be starting with salad course momentarily. I would be pleased to provide drinks at this time. We have Athosian beer, as well as some Earth variety, wide selection of hard liquor, some red and white wines, Marundian blue-fruit juice, iced tea, hot tea, coffee, and water. In deference to Dr. McKay, lemon and lime slice, lemonade and citrus juices will not be available for drinks." She looked to Rodney first. "What can I get for you?"
"Any Canadian beer?" he asked.
"Yes. We have Molson, Moosehead, and Labatt's Blue."
"Wow. I'm not used to having a choice."
She smiled. "It is your birthday, Dr. McKay. We made extra effort."
"Very good." She looked at Carson. "And you, Dr. Beckett?"
She went around the table, getting all their orders, then disappeared into the kitchen.
"Iced tea, John?" Elizabeth teased. "Are you expecting trouble tonight?"
John smiled, but there was a nervousness to it. "Been a long day. Figured I was tired enough."
Kavanaugh, who'd ordered tea as well, studied his hands. She still couldn't figure why he was here. Perhaps seeing that no one had brought a date, Beckett or McKay had decided to round up to an even eight, though why Kavanaugh had been chosen was a mystery. She set it aside and instead asked, "So, how old are you now, Rodney?"
"Thirty-eight," Carson answered. "Ye didn't peek in his records and see?"
She shrugged. "That would be cheating."
Miko arrived with their drinks and then disappeared to get the salad. As it arrived, Elizabeth noted that Radek shifted his Athosian ale to his left hand, setting it next to her white wine. She gave him a quizzical look. "Later," he said quietly.
Fournier had done an excellent job combining local greens, vegetables, and nuts to make a salad with a hint of bite. Rodney nodded approvingly. "I hate to say it, but I think Fournier's wasting his talent with biochemistry. This is excellent."
Radek smiled. "I will give him your compliments."
Rodney froze, a look of panic on his face. "Wait. I taste something... lemony."
"It is dark green triangular leaf," Miko said. "They have been tested thoroughly. There is no citrus, even though there is slight lemon taste."
"Ah. Thank God. Sorry."
"Apologies. I should have told you," she said.
He waved the apology away. "I've eaten here often enough, I should know you can be trusted not to poison me. I mean, if you did, you'd be stuck with Kavanaugh and his crazy fourteen-dimensional theory."
"The word is elegant," Kavanaugh argued. "Unlike yours."
"Gentlemen," Beckett interrupted.
"Hey," John said. "Are these nuts from P4X-763? We traded for these, didn't we?"
"Was that the planet with the, uh, women...?" Rodney made a double-handed cupping gesture in front of his chest. Teyla's mouth quirked ever so slightly into a smile.
John nodded. "Yeah. That one."
Rodney popped one of the walnut-like pieces into his mouth and chewed. "Mm. I think they might be."
"Yeah," Ronon said. "Definitely."
"I don't remember your mission report mentioning anything unusual about the planet's women," Elizabeth said.
John and Rodney both looked at her innocently. "Wha'?" Rodney said around another mouthful of salad. "Not unusual, really. Just... uh..." He looked at John.
"Hey, don't look at me," John protested. "I'm not the one making suggestive gestures at the dinner table."
Teyla gave one of those smiles that somehow managed to stand in for an eye roll. "The planet's women were all remarkably... I believe you would say 'well-endowed.'"
"Oh," Elizabeth said. That would explain why Lorne's team was so delighted to continue negotiations for other crops, she supposed. And here she'd thought it was the botanical wealth of the planet's crops that had put that silly grin on Dr. Parrish's face whenever he'd returned from his visits there.
"I wonder if it's genetic or the result of environmental factors," Carson said.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Only you would look at a big-breasted woman and think about genetics."
Kavanaugh had a sudden coughing fit.
Miko took that moment to appear with their entrees.
John looked like he was in heaven when he bit into his "chicken" breast. "I love this stuff. It's more like turkey than chicken."
Radek nodded. "With hint of duck. Fournier does an excellent faux duck a l'orange with this. Not," he noted as Rodney gave Carson's and John's entrees a suspicious glance, "that he had that option this evening."
Rodney had opted for steak. The animal they got their steaks from looked more like a cross between a yak and a llama, but the flavour was remarkably similar, with just a slight hint of gaminess. On the side, Fournier had provided real baked potatoes, a delicious grain pilaf, and a sautéed vegetable medley.
They all tucked in, conversation ranging over local happenings and news from earth, and memories of childhood birthday celebrations. Elizabeth noted that Rodney didn't contribute to the last conversation. There was a glint of envy in his eyes as John told of the time his father had taken him fishing on his birthday and Carson regaled them with the time he managed to catch his mother's prize lace tablecloth on fire.
After the main course, Miko emerged with Rodney's birthday cake-- a chocolate torte covered with ganache and raspberry puree. Fournier had outdone himself with the sinfully rich fudgy confection and the reactions were practically orgasmic. Rodney was delighted when they all leaned back in contented fullness with well over half the torte still remaining. He would be in chocolate heaven for the next few days for certain.
They all took their coffee and tea and headed to the next room where the couches and chairs had been rearranged into a pleasant conversational circle for Rodney to open presents. Resources were limited, even with the contact they had with Earth now, and the presents were small, but thoughtful. John's gift was a collection of classic science fiction films on DVD. Kavanaugh gave him several small bags of coffee. Elizabeth had opted for chocolate. Radek had somehow obtained a box of real maple sugar candy. Teyla and Ronon had apparently gone in together on a large afghan in autumn golds made of some incredibly soft material. As Rodney folded it and set it aside, Carson stood up and cleared his throat nervously. Rodney's face wore a quiet smile and he nodded to the doctor encouragingly.
"As you all know, today marks the anniversary of our friend Rodney's thirty-eighth birthday. What ye don't know is that it also marks another anniversary." His eyes met Rodney's. "Two years ago, Rodney and I had our first date together."
Elizabeth tried to hide her surprise. Carson and Rodney were...
"Wow. That long," John said quietly.
Kavanaugh and Radek seemed completely unsurprised. Teyla's face registered a momentary startlement followed by a thoughtful nod. Ronon's was impassive as ever.
"A couple of months ago, Rodney asked me to marry him and I said yes. So, while ye came for a birthday party, you're all going to get two celebrations for the price of one."
Rodney stood up then and took Carson's hand. "Welcome to our wedding," he said, eyes shining, smiling at them all.
Elizabeth was still gaping in shock as Kavanaugh stood.
"A couple of months ago, Rodney and I got onto the subject of weddings and I mentioned that I'd been ordained in the Universalist Unitarian Church so that I could perform my sister's wedding ceremony. I didn't realise at the time that he was looking for someone to marry Carson and him. I'm honoured to be doing so tonight. So, if everyone would arrange themselves so they can see..."
John slipped over onto the couch she and Radek had been sharing while Ronon and Teyla repositioned themselves on theirs. Miko slipped in and stood watching from the doorway.
"Do you have the rings?" Kavanaugh asked.
Rodney seemed about to answer in the negative when Carson reached into the pocket of his blazer and pulled out two small boxes. "Happy birthday, love."
The two men took each other's hands, smiling nervously.
"Rodney you have chosen Carson to be your husband. Will you love and respect him in success and in failure, care for and respect him, comfort and encourage him, and stay with him always?" Kavanaugh asked.
"I will," Rodney said, his voice quavering and his eyes bright with tears.
Kavanaugh removed one of the plain gold bands from its box and handed it to Rodney. "Then repeat after me. 'I, Rodney, take you, Carson, to be my friend, my lover, and my husband. I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph, from this day forward, until death should part us. With this ring, I thee wed.'"
Rodney repeated it as a tear slid down his cheek and his voice cracked with emotion. Carson smiled, his face already wet with tears, and squeezed Rodney's hands. Rodney shakily slipped the ring on Carson's left ring finger.
"Carson you have chosen Rodney to be your husband. Will you love and respect him in success and in failure, care for and respect him, comfort and encourage him, and stay with him always?"
"I will," he answered. He then took the ring and repeated the vows. "I, Carson, take you, Rodney, to be my friend, my lover, and my husband. I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph, from this day forward, forevermore. With this ring, I thee wed." He let out a small, delighted laugh as he placed his ring on Rodney's finger.
"May you always share with each other the gift of love, be one in heart and mind, and may you always have a life together that fills your hearts with love, generosity and kindness," Kavanaugh intoned. "In as much as Rodney and Carson have consented together in marriage before this company of friends and have pledged their faith and declared their unity by the giving and receiving of rings, I now pronounce you married, partners in life. May your days be good and long upon the earth." Kavanaugh smiled at the two men. "You may now seal your vows with a kiss."
Their lips met, tentative at first, then Rodney curled his hand around Carson's neck and the kiss deepened. They parted and looked at their gathered friends, smiling.
"It is now my great joy to introduce to you Rodney and Carson Beckett-McKay," Kavanaugh said.
There was a second of hesitation and then Miko started clapping and they all joined in. John stood and clapped the two on their shoulders. "Congratulations."
Radek stood and offered Elizabeth his hand. She took it, standing. He didn't let go as he stepped forward to congratulate the couple and she found she didn't mind in the least.
Rodney hugged her and stepped back. "Sorry we never told you," he said.
She touched his face. "It's okay. I take it you never really told anyone."
He nodded. "Though of course Radek knew since Carson and I have been coming here to eat. And John knew because he's cooked for us a time or two."
She smiled. "I think I might have to start working here just to learn what's going on with my people." She turned then and hugged Carson, her hand returning to Radek's afterwards. "Congratulations."
Surprisingly, Ronon hugged both men in turn when offering his congratulations. Teyla followed suit, smiling joyfully.
There was champagne, though Elizabeth noted that John and Kavanaugh both took Marundian blue-fruit juice instead. She didn't ask. The party didn't last long after that. Rodney and Carson gave another round of hugs or handshakes and then made their goodbyes. She and Radek soon followed suit.
"Well, I guess that answers the question of why Kavanaugh was there tonight," she said after the transporter doors slid shut.
Radek looked at her inquiringly.
"He was there to perform the ceremony, right?" she asked.
"Well, yes, I suppose he was," Radek answered, then bit his lip, considering her.
"I'm missing something, aren't I?"
He nodded. "You didn't notice how nervous Colonel Sheppard was when you came in?"
"Yes, I noticed, but..." Suddenly, the pattern snapped into place. There hadn't been eight people at the table tonight. There had been four couples-- Rodney and Carson, Teyla and Ronon, Radek and herself, and... "John and Kavanaugh?!"
"Ah, I see I'm not the only one surprised by that," he said with a smile, then slipped his arm around her as they stepped out of the transporter and into the corridor leading to her apartment.
"So... John wasn't drinking because..."
"Kavanaugh is an alcoholic."
She considered this, thought about the couple of times she'd witnessed Carson regretfully pass up a dish that had citrus in it. Poison on the lips of a lover...
She understood it now, what these men were willing to do for those they loved.
They stopped in front of her door, silent for a moment. He reached up, his fingers gently tracing her jaw, drawing her forward and into a kiss. She felt the sparks of desire flaring within her and sighed as he pulled away. She looked into his eyes and saw them filled with need, desire, supplication, and affection. He wasn't going to put voice to his request, but it was there in his eyes.
She kissed him again, pulling back before it got too intense, out here in the hallway where anyone could see. She thought about the question in his eyes, thought about their positions, her authority, the complications.
"Radek, would you like to come in?"
"Yes," he said. "I would like that, very much."
As the door slid shut behind them, he slipped his arms around her waist and kissed her again.
And this time, he didn't pull back.