John wandered through Atlantis fairly aimlessly, surprising himself when he ended up in the infirmary. Carson was there, looking through a microscope as he usually was, and completely oblivious to what was going on behind him. Giving in to the impulse, John walked right up behind the other man and tapped him on the shoulder with, “Something interesting in there?”

Carson jumped a mile with a yelp, then glared at him and exclaimed, “What the bloody hell’re y’doin, Major!?”

Grinning, John answered, “Just seeing what you were up to is all.”

“And giving me a heart attack in the process?”

“Well, I take my fun where I can get it.”

“That’s what I thought.”

John winked and said, “It’s good to get the heart pumping now and then.”

Carson heaved a sigh, demanding, “Is there something in particular that I can do for you, Major?”

“Nope,” John answered cheerfully.

Giving him a mildly baffled look, Carson asked, “Honestly, Major, what are you doing here? Don’t you have something to do?”

John sighed, letting go of the façade and saying, “Not a damn thing. It’s a holiday for me.”

Carson blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“It’s the Fourth of July. Independence Day? Fireworks. Sparklers. Local bands playing patriotic music out of tune? Only, we don’t have any of that here.”

Understanding dawned on Carson’s face and he said, “You’re homesick.”

“No, no I’m not,” John denied hastily.

“You are.”

“No, I’m, okay. Maybe a little.”

Carson smiled at him and asked, “Wouldn’t Lt. Ford or Dr. Weir be better company today than myself?”

John snorted. “Ford’s idea of celebrating the Fourth is sleeping and watching movies. And Weir, well, no. Can’t see her wanting to kick back with a beer watching the sun set.”

Arching an eyebrow, Carson questioned, “And that’s what you want to do?”

“No. No of course, well, yeah. It’s dorky, I know,” John confirmed with a sigh. “Can’t help it. That’s what my Dad liked to do. We’d hang out in town all day, play the games at the fair that came to town, then got home in time to watch the sun set. He’d let me have half his beer.”

Strangely, Carson cast a wary look around the infirmary before whispering, “Meet me outside on the upper balcony at sunset.”

John frowned. “For what?”

“You’ll have to find out now, won’t you?” Carson replied with a smirk.

A cute smirk at that, like he was a cat with the canary. John hid a grin and nodded. “Okay. I’ll see you there, Doc.”

When he looked back from the door, Carson was bent over the microscope again, but there was a grin on his lips that hadn’t been there before. Feeling lighter, more relaxed than before somehow, John sauntered out to mess with Rodney for a while.

That would relax him even more.

*  *  *  *

When Carson found him about ten minutes before the sun was due to set, John was surprised to find the man’s arms filled with bottles. He pushed off from the rail and hurried over to grab a few, relieving the doctor of his burden. “Where on earth did you come up with beer?”

Grinning broadly, Carson pointed out, “Nowhere on Earth, Major, and you should always trust a Scot to find any local brew worth having.”

“So where’s the still?” John asked eagerly.

“Ah, I could tell you, but then I’d have t’kill you,” Carson teased.

Sitting with his legs overhanging through the rail, John pulled the corklike top free with his mouth. When Carson didn’t join him, he looked around and saw the doctor standing well back from the edge, back to the wall. Cocking an eyebrow, he asked, “Afraid of heights?”

Carson smiled. “No, not really. Just the sudden stop at the end.”

Pulling his legs up, John crab-walked back, careful not to spill his beer, to sit with his back to the wall, then motioned Carson down beside him. The other man hesitated, then slowly sat, sliding down the wall and crossing his legs primly. John held out his beer expectantly.

Carson clinked his own bottle to it with a smile. “Happy Fourth, Major.”

“Thanks, Doc,” John replied, taking a sip of the brew. Flavor exploded on his tongue and he groaned in pleasure, bringing the bottle up for a long pull. When he finished more than half the bottle and stopped for a breath, he gasped, “Damn, Carson, this stuff is great!”

“Thought you’d rather like it,” Carson answered smugly. “Just don’t spread it around or Rodney will want it.”

John shook his head fervently. “Our little secret, trust me.”

“Oh, I do.”

The ready answer and smile in the bright blue eyes hit John in a way that he didn’t expect; right in the gut. Maybe it was because of the date, maybe because of the homesickness, maybe just because Carson had always been good to him, friendly without looking down, but John’s breath caught and he quickly looked away from the smiling face to the beer in his hand.

“Major? Everything okay?”

Carson’s honest concern was another punch to the gut, but John forced a smile and answered, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just...homesick, like you said.”

A friendly pat to his thigh and Carson admitted, “I get that way myself sometimes. How about we get together whenever one of us is homesick and cheer the other one up?”

John nodded, smiling. “It’s a deal.”

They drank in companionable silence as the sun went down over the water surrounding them. Carson held out his bottle when John tipped his own and found it empty. Glancing over at the other man, he found that ready smile in place, but a different look in the shadowed eyes. John frowned, trying to figure out what it was he was seeing, but accepted the beer with a soft, “Thanks.”

“My pleasure,” Carson replied, just as soft. “Feeling better?”

“Yeah, I am, thanks.”

“My pleasure.”

Funny how neither of them had moved back, or that Carson hadn’t taken his hand from the bottle yet. It wasn’t the alcohol that had John staying put, it was the warm look that he’d finally identified...caring, maybe something more. He leaned the rest of the way forward and hesitantly put his lips to Carson’s. The kiss was short and sweet, far better than any he’d had even before leaving earth because it was so heartfelt. And that, of course, was how Carson did everything, which was what had drawn John in so completely.

Carson was practically beaming as he pulled back and murmured, “It’s about time, Major.”

“I think you can call me John now,” John replied, smiling back at him.

Putting his arm over Carson’s shoulder, John leaned back against the wall and rested his cheek on top of the other man’s head, sighing deeply. This wasn’t exactly how he’d pictured spending the Fourth of July, but it beat everything else all to hell.