A Love of Coffee

Rodney glared at the Ancient circuitry. The circuitry was unimpressed by the sternness of his glare, and refused to give up its secrets. There was a noise in the lab which Rodney ignored, although he did pause his thoughts long enough to wonder what it was. He'd been alone in the lab for some time.

He glared at the circuitry some more, wondering if threatening it out loud would help.

"*Rodney*," Carson said.

"Hm?" Rodney looked over to find Carson standing there, looking like maybe he'd said Rodney's name more than once.

But Carson smiled at him, which meant he was amused and not irritated, so Rodney didn't try to figure out if he'd heard enough of what Carson might have said to respond to it like he'd actually been paying attention.

"Come to dinner, love," Carson said.

"Ah. Can it wait? I'm almost ready to figure out what this relay does." He pointed, not sure if he were lying, or just being optimistic.

"Rodney," Carson said again, and there was the Tone. It was actually one of several Tones which Carson seemed to have just for him. This one was the 'that was the wrong answer, but you can still try again' tone.

Sometimes Rodney had no clue what the right answer was supposed to be, and he had to guess until Carson told him. This time the right answer was obvious, but Rodney really wasn't hungry. Well, not hungrier than he was determined to get this circuit working.

"I'd love to, but really, can it wait an hour? I'll be right--"

"Rodney." Carson wasn't smiling anymore.

That was bad. That was along the lines of forgetting they'd made plans and accidentally skipping out on.... Shit. Did they have plans for tonight? Frantically, Rodney tried to think. What was today? When was the last time they'd talked about making plans? Did any of them include dinner?

He had no clue. But there really was no other option than, "Yes-I'd-love-to-have-dinner-now." Rodney set the circuit board aside, thought about leaving a note for Radek, and decided that trying to do even that much more would probably be pushing it. He glanced at his watch as he headed for the doorway, and saw that it was nearly eight o'clock.

They usually had dinner at seven. Crap. Crap, crap. They'd had plans and he'd already ruined an hour's worth of them.

But there was a chuckle from behind him, and as he stepped into the hallway, Carson came up alongside him and was smiling, again. "It's all right," he said. "I knew you'd be down here, with your nose stuck in something."

Rodney tried for looking cute. "Sorry?"

Carson just shook his head. "It's all right," he said again. "I knew what I was getting into."

That didn't make any sense. Rodney narrowed his eyes and tried again to figure out what they were doing tonight. What had Carson got into? He was still drawing a blank, though.

Carson grinned, suddenly, and leaned over, his hip bumping into Rodney. But he was leaning in for a kiss, so Rodney didn't complain. Not about that -- he was still prepared to complain about whatever Carson was talking about.

"Got into?" he asked, when Carson stopped kissing him and resumed walking more forward than sideways. Rodney slipped his arm around Carson's waist though, because walking forward without some sort of contact wasn't nearly as good as walking with it.

"When I told you I loved you, too."

"Um. Oh." Those words never failed to make Rodney feel gooshy inside. There was probably a better, more technical term for it. But gooshy was descriptive, and as long as he didn't say it out loud, he didn't feel compelled to find a better word. "Wait. What?" What did that have to do with Carson knowing what he was getting into?

He gave Carson a darkly querying look, which hadn't worked very well on the circuits but might do better on the man he slept with.

"It isn't like it was a secret that you can sometimes be....focused."

"Focused?"

"I wouldn't want to use the term 'absent-minded professor', but you have been known to work through meals, meetings, entire nights...."

"I like the word 'focused' better," Rodney said, opting to not be insulted.

"So I'm not surprised when I have to come fetch you for dinner now and again," Carson said, casually.

"Even when we have plans?" Rodney asked, trying for 'cute' again. He had no idea how well it worked, but sometimes Carson could be a real pushover when it came to Rodney squirming his way out of trouble.

"You really don't remember, do you?" Carson asked, and he sounded like he was trying not to laugh. That was...good, Rodney thought.

Wasn't it?

He thought about it again. It wasn't their anniversary -- that was still about three months away, and he'd made John *and* Teyla promise to remind him every day for the two weeks leading up to it, so he wouldn't forget. It wasn't Carson's birthday -- that had been two months ago, and Elizabeth had followed through with her promise to make sure he didn't forget. It wasn't any of the holidays they'd reassigned to the Atlantian calendar, nor any of the new ones they'd adopted to help fill in the extra long year. Which left....

"It's Wednesday?"

"No, love, it's Thursday." Carson smiled at him again, in that love-you-proud-of-you-think-you're-a-dork-sometimes way he had. They were at their quarters, now, and Carson opened the door and led him through.

Thursday. Which--

Oh.

He stopped, seeing the table set. Two tall, thin candles and a table set with the sort of food they only got for special occasions. Carson would have been saving up favours to trade for these from the stores. Covered dishes, it really didn't matter what was under there. The carafe was filled with a dark brown liquid -- god, it might even be coffee. There was a wrapped parcel in one of the chairs.

He looked at Carson. "I--"

"Happy birthday, Rodney." Carson kissed him softly on the lips, pulling away just as Rodney was ready to forget dinner and proceed directly to his best present ever. "Let's eat before it gets cold."

"You....really didn't expect me home an hour ago?"

Carson laughed. "Rodney, we've lived together for ten years. I knew exactly how long it would be before you'd come home on your own."

Rodney thought about pouting -- but instead, he went over to his chair and picked up his present. "I get to unwrap this first, right?" And he sat down, not waiting for an answer, and peeled off the paper. Carson always teased him about being impatient with presents, but Rodney never saw the point in *waiting*.

There would be a party tomorrow night, with more presents and probably a cake, and, if anyone loved him -- more coffee. But for tonight it was just him and Carson, with dinner, probably some wine after, then as little sleep as the two of them could possibly manage.

The parcel was a folded piece of cloth; he shook it out and discovered it was a pullover. Undyed wool, the soft kind from the Athosians' flock of ander beasties. He slipped it on, and it fit perfectly.

"I love it."

"I could tell by the way you're stroking it," Carson said, nodding at Rodney's hand.

Rodney stopped rubbing the wool and gave Carson a brief glare. "It's soft," he said, defensively.

"There's another piece," Carson said in a leading tone.

"Where?" Rodney picked up the wrapped paper, but there was no more cloth.

Carson cleared his throat and when Rodney looked up, he inclined his head towards the bedroom.

Rodney felt his eyes widen. "Oh. Um. Do we have to eat first?"

Carson just smiled, evilly. "Yes. Otherwise it really will get cold."

With a sigh, Rodney resigned himself to eating quickly. At least he knew Carson would be just as frustrated as he was. He reached over to the first covered dish, and lifted the cover.

"Carson?"

"Aye?"

"Those are sandwiches."

"Yes, love."

"They're *already* cold," Rodney pointed out.

"Why, so they are."

Rodney dropped the cover, checked the carafe to discover it was in fact tea, which Carson knew he preferred to drink over ice. Cold, not hot, and he grabbed Carson's arm and hustled him away from the dinner table.

"You're an evil, mean man, and I don't think you should get to have sex."

"Then I'll just be watching you?"

"No. You'll get sex, because I want sex with you and it's my birthday which means I get what I want. But you'll still be evil and mean."

"I'll keep it in mind," Carson said, and this time when he kissed Rodney, there was no breaking away.