Acknowledgements: Kat, as always.
"Cranachan." Strong Scottish accent.
Said with a sigh.
"Bless you." Ford says, looking at
the doctor in concern.
"It's a dessert, you silly bugger."
Rodney McKay's ears perk up at the mention of
"Yes," Carson Beckett replies, with
a hint of longing in his voice, "really."
"It sounds odd, though," Sheppard
"More like a sickness than a dessert, really,"
Ford adds. "Are you sure you're not mixing things up, Doc?"
Carson huffs and gives them a look that clearly
questions their level of education. "Do you know anything
"Men in skirts, fantastic whisky, lots
of rain?" Sheppard shrugs. "Red hair?"
"That's the Irish." Carson rolls his
"High mountains, funny accents, damn lot
of fog, constantly broody people?" McKay offers between
bites of Athosian bread.
"Fog's typical for London. And if you want
funny accents, you go to Yorkshire." The doctor's patience
appears to be wearing thin.
"Porridge, people drinking lots and having
bad teeth, everyone's real stingy?"
Carson's eyes narrow to slits. "Just you
make sure that your next visit to the infirmary will be very
far in the future. Very far. Especially yours, Aidan. Because
I'll not be stingy with needles, then."
He takes another forkful of his meal and chews
unhappily. "I'm serious. You have no idea about Scottish
cooking, have you?"
"Mint sauce?" Ford offers, his voice
"That's the English, you imbecile."
Carson looks ready to hit the ceiling.
Ford shrugs, appearing lost. "And? The
"Ah, Ford?" McKay stops him in mid-sentence,
casting a wary glance in Carson's direction. "Whatever
you were going to say - which I think I know what it would have
been - don't finish it. Please don't."
"What? What did I say?"
"It's more what you didn't yet say, and
believe me, what it was you were going to say? Unless you want
the good doctor to burst a blood vessel or two and us rooted
here for hours on end being lectured about the differences between
the various British nationalities, you forget about ever wishing
to voice it."
Carson's eyes narrow even more. "Scots
are not British, Rodney." Who would have thought that the
usually so charming Scottish accent could sound so intimidating?
Seeing McKay's face lose all its colour is almost
worth the ensuing argument. Sheppard watches him squirm for
a while, then decides to have pity on him: "What about
Scottish cooking, then, doc?"
"You're all thinking of Haggis now, aren't
"Now that you mention it ..."
"Crap." Carson slaps the table for
emphasis. "All crap. As if that's all Scots ever eat. Once
a week is more than enough."
Ford turns an interesting shade of green. "You
eat ... that? Honestly?"
"Have you ever tried it, son?"
"Ah, no. And I think I'd rather not."
Judging by the fact that McKay's stopped eating,
he appears to agree.
"Heretics," Carson sighs. "But
you're missing out the finer points. The baking. The soups.
"Dessert!" Ford is audibly glad that
the subject's changed.
"Cranachan," is Carson's answering
Raised eyebrows meet him. He nods and sighs
again, eyes closing briefly, but doesn't continue.
It's Rodney - patience personified - who finally
blurts out: "Will you stop having a culinary orgasm by
yourself and share with us?"
There is silence for a few seconds. Carson goggles.
Ford's mouth twitches. Sheppard raises an eyebrow. At that point,
McKay realises what he just said.
Seeing the look of mortification on the other
man's face, Ford holds it together for another ten seconds,
then bursts into roaring laughter. "McKay, I really don't
want to know what's going on in that brain of yours sometimes."
Rodney turns an interesting shade of crimson
and looks ready to launch into tirade of how Ford would never
manage to even get close to understanding what's in Rodney's
brain because Rodney is Marvin the Paranoid Android without
the faulty personality ... so it's Sheppard to the rescue again.
"Rodney, take a bite. And, Carson. Enlighten us. What's
McKay munches moodily on a piece of fruit -
not before sniffing it carefully and wondering out loud about
similarities to lemons.
Carson cringes at Sheppard's americanised violation
of the word and slaps Rodney's wrists when the other man starts
to tear the fruit apart messily, juice squirting. "Did
your mother never tell you not to play with food?"
If Rodney McKay had stuck out his tongue at
Beckett that very moment, no one would have been surprised.
Instead - after a warning glance from Sheppard - he just glowers
some more, then mumbles an almost unintelligible: "Who
cares about that hurt-your-throat word for dessert, anyway?"
Carson decides to ignore him. "Just imagine
heaven in a tall dessert glass. It's fresh, succulent raspberries
layered with whipped cream, sweet honey, smoky, perfect whisky
and topped with golden-brown roasted oatmeal ..." He sighs
Ford swallows hard.
Rodney looks crestfallen and craving at the
same time. He's forgotten to chew.
Sheppard's forehead is furrowed. "You're
an evil, cruel and unfeeling man, Carson."
Carson gives them a radiant smile, flashing
dimples. "But that's why you all love me, right?"
They look too pathetic to let it go. McKay continues
chewing his fruit but looks as if it just turned horrendously
Carson Beckett, never a man to hold a grudge
for long, eggs on: "What are your favourite desserts, then?"
A wistful smile appears on Ford's face. "Grandma's
apple pie. Fresh and warm out of the oven. Brown, crusty, perfect.
Smells like heaven and tastes even better. She made it big,
too, because grandpa and me would always be battling about the
biggest piece. And she added real butter. Aidan, she
always said," Ford's imitation of his grandmother's voice
raises a few smiles around the table, "this new fancy
margarine hocus-pocus is no use in a pie. You need real butter
to make a good pie. And what a pie that was, I'm telling
you. Complete with home-made vanilla ice-cream that'd melt next
to it." He rolls his eyes in delight, no doubt smelling
the scent of warm apple pie on the breeze.
McKay stifles a small whimper into a big slice
of the fruit which appears to be getting sourer by the minute.
"Chocolate mud-cake." John Sheppard
stretches his legs and crosses his arms over his chest, slanting
a look at a most irritated McKay, grinning. "With warm
chocolate sauce. Down at a small caf‚ near the Mississippi.
I only went there once, driving through the town on a road trip
before I started training with the Air Force, hell, I even forgot
the name of the town, but it was the best damn chocolate cake
I've ever had." He rolls his eyes in delight at the memory.
"Melted in your mouth and almost gave you an overdose of
chocolate, but, god, just the sight of it - all that dark, rich
chocolate - the smell, the way the whipped cream slowly slid
off it and into the warm chocolate ..."
McKay finally snaps. "Could you stop? Look,
I pay you to stop."
"There's no money in Pegasus, Rodney. And
what's so bad about chocolate?"
"The fact that we're out, perhaps? Just
... Have mercy. Please. I don't think I can take any more dessert
The three men share a grin.
"What about you, though, McKay?" Ford
The smug "oh, please" look
is back. "Is that a general question, and do you really
want an answer?"
Ford rolls his eyes and doesn't even try to
hide a grin. "What's your favourite dessert?"
McKay spears a piece of fruit with his fork
hard enough to make the table vibrate. "Hadn't we decided
to drop this?"
"You telling us to drop it doesn't mean
we agreed to drop it. This is democracy." Sheppard chimes
in, smiling a too cheery smile.
"Then let's bring back dictatorship for
crying out loud." The fruit disintegrates into a sad puddle
of juice under the pressure of the fork.
"Rodney." It's the tone you
use with the mentally unstable.
"You want to tell us." Sheppard says,
patiently. "You're itching to tell us. It's written
all over your face. So, spill."
McKay grumbles some more, then closes his eyes
for a moment. "Key Lime Pie," he finally admits, quietly.
Rodney bristles. "Is there an echo here
I wasn't aware of?"
"But ... aren't you allergic to anything
"Bravo, Ford. It's good to know at least
one of you actually listens to what I say every once in a while."
He gives Ford a mock-approving slap on the shoulder. "As
a matter of fact, I am. Horribly so."
"Then how can your favourite dessert be
the probably most lemony pie on earth?" Carson enquires,
"What does it matter to you? Not everyone
here lusts after whipped cream or apple pie or chocolate."
Raised eyebrows, again.
"Okay, so I do. But, so what? I lust in
private." He realises that his mouth worked faster than
his brain again and glares at Ford whose mouth twitches again.
"Not a word, Ford."
The perplexed expression hasn't left Carson's
face yet. "But, why?"
"Carson, you're beginning to sound like
those terrible children on MG 677."
"He's right, though. Come on, mighty McKay.
Let us know your dirty little secret." Sheppard's eyes
Ford inches forward in his chair, rests his
arms on the table. "It was a girl, right?"
"McKay and a woman?" Sheppard snorts.
"Oh, seriously, Ford. He's got all the charm of a barbed
"Really, Aidan. You don't honestly think-"
"Hey! I'm still sitting here, you know?"
"Was it a girl?" Again with the collectively
"As a matter of fact ..." McKay pauses
- for effect or composure is unclear. "It was."
Carson's jaw drops. "No way."
Ford's grin widens. "Pay up, Sir."
"Damn it." Sheppard levels a glare
at Rodney. "Can't you be predictable for once, McKay?"
"Sorry. Have I just lost you some privileges
you'd rather have kept? Oh, I'm really dreadfully sorry."
"So, what about her?"
"Huh? Oh, nothing."
"I'm sorry, should I have turned it into
goon-language? None of your business. Butt out."
"Rodney?" Sheppard gives that insolent
grin again. "You're not getting out of this with your dignity
intact anyway, so you might as well tell us."
"What dignity?" McKay throws his hands
up. "Working with you, I doubt there is any dignity left."
"Well, I could record you on video the
next time you go sleepwalking ..."
McKay crosses his arms defiantly. "I don't
"Shall I tape it to prove it? And show
it at the next briefing? I'm sure Elizabeth could do with a
few insights into your more private ..."
McKay blanches - apparently Sheppard is leagues
better than he is at poker. "All right. Fine. Stupid-"
"Ah, ah." Sheppard waggles a lazy
index finger. "Video."
McKay's glare could strip the paint off the
perfect Atlantean walls, but he concedes. "It was a dare.
My parents had always forbidden me to touch anything that had
lemon in it and even I was a teenager once and had my rebellious
phase, and ah ... then there was this girl - cute, brunette,
curly hair, green eyes, freckles, fifteen years old, beginning
to fill out nicely-" His hands stop in mid-air and he glares
across the table. "What?"
Carson's and Ford's grins disappear as if switched
off. "Nothing. Go on."
"It was a her birthday party. First time
I'd been invited to a girl's birthday party. And yes, before
you ask, I had a little crush on her. Yes, yes, I know, hard
to imagine, but true. And there was this lime pie. It looked
fantastic: Crusty and yet soft and the meringue in tufts and
it smelled like heaven. And she was sitting right next to it,
looking all pretty and talking about ... Astronomy. I kid you
not. She was the most beautiful brain I had ever met. And she
offered me a slice. I mean, what would you have done?"
"You didn't?" Carson asks,
McKay nods. "The whole slice. It was the
best damn thing I've ever eaten."
"It could have been the last damn thing
you had ever eaten."
"Yeah, I kind of noticed that
afterward, but thank you for reminding me again, Carson."
Ford's eyes are round with curiosity. "What
McKay shrugs. "What do you think? Anaphylactic
shock. Not pretty. If I hadn't been so busy trying to breathe,
I probably would have died of humiliation, though."
"So, Key Lime Pie is your favourite dessert
because it nearly killed you?" Ford's voice is incredulous.
"Do you ever, just once, turn on your brain
before you speak, Lieutenant?" McKay rolls his eyes. "No,
of course not. But the girl came to visit me in the hospital
every day, for as long as I was there. She felt so guilty for
giving me that pie." He grins at the memory.
"With the brain, again, Ford. What do you
think happened? We were fifteen. Well, almost sixteen."
McKay crosses his arms and looks at Ford as if speaking to a
very slow child.
"Oh." Ford finally says and grins.
"Oh." Carson looks impressed.
"Really?" Sheppard asks, sceptical.
"In the hospital?"
"Hm. On the way home, actually." McKay's
grin is the mother of smugness.
Ford moves his baseball cap to scratch his head.
"What? Were you expecting a big tale of
woe? That it was terrible and I subsquently hated all brunettes
"Don't answer that, Ford."
"He's got a --"
"You, too, Major. Don't."
McKay rubs his hands together and stands up,
the chair scraping loudly over the metal floor. "Not that
it hasn't been lovely divulging my secrets to my group of Dessert-a-holic
anonymous, and humiliating myself completely in the process,
but I really must go and do some work now. Maybe you'll remember
yours, too? As soon as your mind's out of the gutter?"
He's no more than few steps away from the table
when Sheppard calls after him: "Well, oh great McKay, it's
been lovely of you to condescend to dine with us. Please return
to your important work while we lowly minions stay behind and
have our most likely very undeserved chocolate."
McKay's steps slow, then stop. He turns around.
"You have ... chocolate?"
Sheppard grins. "No. But feel free to dream
The last thing Rodney hears before he storms
from the dining hall, muttering the most inventive plans of
payback, is Carson's mischievously cheery: "Say, have I
ever told you about my mother's chocolate sponge cake?"