By Enola Jones

The marketplace on P4X-903 was amazing. The sights were exotic and beautiful. The smells were vivid and delicious. The music and shouting of the barkers were at once lovely and startling.

John smiled to watch Rodney exploring the marketplace. They had been here a few times Before, but this was his first time as a child.

He gazed around wide-eyed. He couldn't seem to stop touching the wares. The sellers were very kind about it, given Rodney was only five.

They also seemed to have this inordinate need to feed father and son. Samples were given freely and devoured eagerly. One of them was a citrus-based pie, and John refused politely, smiling at the barker. "He's sensitive to citrus."

It was no longer life-threatening, but the allergy was still present and the boy would have been uncomfortable for a few hours if he'd had the sample.

The barker nodded understandingly. She sent a runner from her stall to tell the others who sold citrus-based goods not to give them to the sensitive child.

John blinked. "You... You didn't have to--"

She held up a hand. "I, too, have a sensitive child. She is sensitive to tryala feathers and its meat. It is a service to aid another parent."

John kissed her hand and bought three of her pies all non-citrus based as a thank you.

"Daddy!" Rodney called from the next stall down. "I found something!"

John went to him and asked, "What did you find, kiddo?"

Rodney pointed at a pair of Bantos rods. They were fashioned from black wood and carved with intricate glyphs. He looked wide-eyed up at John. "Mama would love those."

John studied the rods, recognising a few of the symbols. They were all positive attributes Strength. Controlled Power. Love. "You know, Rodney? I think she would. See anything here for Uncle Ronon?"

Rodney studied the stall seriously, then shook his head.

"Well, let me get these for your mother, and we'll move on, okay?"

"Okay." Rodney waited patiently, then they walked a few stalls down. "Wow look at the building blocks!"

John studied them. "They look really easy, Rodney," he said hesitantly. "For a littler child then you."

"I know," Rodney grinned. "Torren will love them!"

And John understood. He grinned and hugged Rodney one-armed. "You're a good brother, Rodney."

As they bought the blocks for Torren, Rodney said, "Now we just need to find something for Uncle Ronon."

John thought for a moment, then smiled. "How about a new shirt?"

"Yeah!" Rodney cheered, then frowned. "But I don't know his size!"

"That's okay,"John grinned. "I do."

Rodney laughed and found a clothing stall. They chose a cream-coloured shirt with embroidering that matched both Ronon's dark skin and brilliant green eyes.

"He'll like it, huh, Daddy?"

"He sure will," John grinned. He kept his secret that Teyla and Ronon would be coming to the marketplace themselves after he and Rodney went home.

After all, Rodney needed Christmas presents, too!


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